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Blair faces staff cuts By Maggie Shi Blair may face possible staff reductions for the 2011-2012 school year. The cuts stem from a budget reduction sent to schools by MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast and the Office of School Performance. According to Principal Darryl Wil-

LARISA ANTONISSE

Spirited swag

liams, in addition to normal staffing re-allocations due to changes in student course registration, there will be reductions in supporting services rather than classroom positions. According to Williams, the reductions include one full-time secretary, one full-time instructional support specialist and 1.4 ESOL teaching positions. Hours will also be cut from some positions; four hours will be cut for media assistant, four hours for ESOL paraeducator, four hours for English composition assistant, six hours for staff development teacher, 3.5 hours for special education para-educator and four hours for vocational support teacher. Blair’s reductions were based on a potential budget reduction memo that Weast sent out to MCPS

see CUTS page 8

Debt plagues yearbook By Philipa Friedman Silverlogue, Blair’s yearbook, is currently suffering serious financial setbacks for the 2011-2012 school year, said senior yearbook editor Taylor Tingle. As a result, Silverlogue may be forced to make changes or cuts to next year’s book in order to keep costs low. According to yearbook sponsor Jacob Lee, possible changes for the upcoming school year could include shortening the book and cutting sections altogether. Tingle also said that the yearbook could cut costs by using lower-quality paper. According to Lee, no conclusive decisions have been made as of yet. Part of Silverlogue’s financial burden is the increasing publishing

cost. Jostens, Inc., a company that publishes yearbooks in addition to selling class rings and other school memorabilia, raised its prices to publish the yearbook to between $65,000 and $70,000. The yearbook will have to make an effort both to cut costs for next year and to increase marketing for the book, said Lee. “I don’t know that it makes sense to spend $65,000 to $70,000 on producing something that only serves about 20 percent of the school’s population,” he said. According to Lee, fewer people are purchasing Silverlogue than in years past. “We’re having more difficulty selling ads and books,” he said. Five or six years ago, the

see YEARBOOK page 10

TOLU OMOKEHINDE AND NICK GROSSMAN

Left: Junior Dominic Ventimiglia, senior Aaron Oke and junior Marley Lake match for Twin Day. Right: Senior Victoria Luc, junior Kathy Luc and seniors VanAnh Luu and Jordan Copeland also wear matching ensembles to show their spirit.

Blair improves recycling initiatives Green Club starts project to cut down on waste By Srividya Murthy Student members of the Green Club are currently collaborating with building service workers to reduce recycling contamination, an issue highlighted by this year’s School Energy and Recycling

All dolled up

Team (SERT) inspection. Recycling contamination occurs when trash is mixed with recycling and damages the recycling, causing Blair’s recycling to be discarded with trash, according to SERT’s recycling manager, Richard Benjamin. According to a 2010-2011 report by SERT, Blair’s cumulative recycling rate for this year to date is 23.7 percent, with 3.12 tons of commingled recycling (containing

bottles and cans) and 18.84 tons of paper and cardboard recycling. Benjamin says that there were flaws in Blair’s recycling system that reduced the amount of overall recycling. He identified problems with awareness and accessibility of recycling containers at Blair as the primary causes of increased contamination. “The amount of recyclables in trash observed was

see RECYCLING page 8

Living off of spare change By Sebastian Medina-Tayac

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

Cast members of “Guys and Dolls,” the last show of the entire school year for the Montgomery Blair Players, stand onstage after the play for a final round of applause.

They come earlier and stay later than any student. They work weekends and summers. While we sit in our climate-controlled school, building our futures, they stand in the heat or cold, begging to maintain their present. Just across the intersection of Colesville Road and University Boulevard, the “panhandlers” pace sidewalks and medians for hours every day, holding cardboard signs and jingling coins in plastic cups. Many different panhandlers visit the intersection, but some “regulars” have been coming

to Four Corners for decades. The intersection and small commercial center surrounding Blair attracts many panhandlers, often five in a day. According to Susan Kirk, director of Bethesda Cares, a local charity that provides services for the poor and homeless, most panhandlers are not homeless, and most homeless are not panhandlers. They merely use panhandling, soliciting donations on the side of the road, as an easy source of income. The panhandlers, whether drifting between intersections or

see PANHANDLING page 15

insideCHIPS Variety in school: Columnist Eli Okun muses on various teaching styles. see page 4

OP/ED 2

SOAPBOX 7

NEWS 8

Bypassing the ‘net: Blair sees a rise in messages regarding proxy violations. see page 8

FEATURES 15

Power of the police: Security guard Maureen Walsh brings past experience to Blair.

Empty PROMises: Natalie Rutsch prepares us for the most important night of high school.

see page 18

see page 23

ENTERTAINMENT 21 CHIPS CLIPS 27

LA ESQUINA LATINA 28 SPORTS 29


2 EDITORIALS

silverCHIPS

April 14, 2011

ESOL cuts threaten an educational foundation

During this period of economic uncertainty when budgets dwindle and resources are scarce, staffing cuts at Blair and schools across the county are inevitable. Teacher cuts within larger departments, such as English and math, often spark the most discussion and controversy because these classes build a solid foundation for the rest of our education. But just as important are those teachers who instruct students in a crucial component of a Montgomery County education — English proficiency. Especially at Blair, with such a diverse student body, ESOL teachers are a crucial part of the staff that we cannot afford to lose to county cuts. Because of reductions in the MCPS budget, next year Blair is scheduled to lose 1.4 ESOL teacher positions and four hours a day of an ESOL para-educator, a certified teacher whose primary job is to support rather than instruct classes. This means that one full-time staff position will be eliminated, and one additional teacher will teach two fewer periods every day, according to Assistant Principal Tamitha Campbell. Although the ESOL department declined to speculate about the specific consequences of the staff cuts, such a change would undoubtedly have negative effects. All students deserve the best resources available to them, but we should particularly focus on improving the educations of those students who are already at a disadvantage because of a language barrier. Students with limited knowledge of English are not unintelligent or incapable of learning — they just need extra help and support in their classes. In an increasingly globalized society, the importance of actively bridging cultural and language gaps is clearer than ever. MCPS, of all counties, should recognize this. Montgomery County’s demographics have shifted to make it a majority-minority county, as the 2010 census showed. If any school system should understand the need to provide resources to those non-native English speakers, it should be ours. And for a county so obsessed with raising test scores and meeting Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), a nationwide measure of a school’s success on standardized tests, cutting ESOL teachers seems like the least logical way to save money. In recent years, Blair was in danger of not meeting AYP largely due to low test scores from ESOL students. In the 2006-2007 school year, Blair did not meet the Annual Measurable Objectives, a subgroup of AYP standards, for ESOL students. Then in September 2007, Blair failed to meet AYP for the second consecutive year, falling short of the standards in the Limited English Proficiency category, according to the state report released on Sept. 28 of that year. But after significant efforts to focus on ESOL classes, Blair did meet the AYP criteria for the past two school years. Such a change should be a clue to the county that our ESOL department needs more support, not less. Instead of eliminating teaching positions from this area, the county should be pouring greater resources into helping ESOL students learn English to succeed in school and on standardized tests. Eliminating teachers exactly where students need them the most cannot be a viable option for the county to save money. Budget cuts are a necessary evil in this economy, but there are other areas where the county could much more easily afford the loss. The school system should cut costs by reducing the amount of insurmountable bureaucracy that has come to define MCPS’s central office. And rather than putting funds toward massive amounts of data collection on our schools’ test scores, the county should use that money to help students succeed in school in the first place. MCPS must recognize that Blair needs a fully equipped ESOL department in order to provide all its students with the resources and education that they deserve.

silverCHIPS Montgomery Blair High School 51 University Boulevard East Silver Spring, MD 20901 Phone: (301) 649-2864 http://silverchips.mbhs.edu Winner of the 2009 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker Award Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown Silver Chips is a public forum for student expression. Student editors make all content decisions. Unsigned editorials represent the views of the editorial board and are not necessarily those of the school. Signed letters to the editor are encouraged. Submit your letter to Joseph Fanning’s mailbox in the main office, to room 158 or to silver.chips.print@gmail.com. Concerns about Silver Chips’ content should be directed to the Ombudsman, the public’s representative to the paper, at groyce26@gmail.com. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Editors-in-Chief.....................................................................................................Laura Anthony, Sarah Schwartz Managing News Editors..........................................................................................Biruk Bekele, Philipa Friedman Managing Features Editors........................................................................................Jewel Galbraith, Jenny Sholar Managing Opinions and Editorials Editors....................................................................Larisa Antonisse, Eli Okun Managing Entertainment Editors.............................................................................Jialin Quinlan, Natalie Rutsch Managing Sports Editor..........................................................................................................................Gardi Royce Production Manager.......................................................................................................................Larisa Antonisse Managing Design Editor........................................................................................................................Jenny Sholar Design Team..............................................................................Philipa Friedman, Jewel Galbraith, Natalie Rutsch Managing Photo Editors..................................................Nick Grossman, Andrew Kirwan, Noah Mason Managing Art Editors..............................................................................................Sam Elkind, Eric Gabriel Public Relations Director...................................................................................................................Jewel Galbraith Outreach Coordinator..........................................................................................................................Jialin Quinlan Distribution Supervisor.....................................................................................................................Natalie Rutsch Newsbriefs Editor......................................................................................................Maureen Lei Fact-Check Supervisor.................................................................................................................................Eli Okun Extras Editor...............................................................................................................................Claire Boston Executive Business Director.........................................................................................................Lizzy Raskulinecz Executive Communications Director...................................................................................................Aarti Kolluri Executive Advertising Director..............................................................................................................Quinn Shen Business Staff....................................................Chunwoo Baik, Ann Marie Huisentruit, Sarah Marsteller Page Editors.............................................................Stella Bartholet, NoahGrace Bauman, Claire Boston, ...................................................................................................Helen Bowers, Simrin Gupta, Claire Koenig, .................................................................................Maureen Lei, Sebastian Medina-Tayac, Srividya Murthy, ............................................................................................................Maggie Shi, Claire Sleigh, Eliza Wapner Spanish Page Advisers..........................................................Mariángeles Cuadrado-Corrales, Dora González Spanish Page Writers.........................................................Tania Borrego, Alan Marroquin, Kelly Ventura Editorial Board...........................Laura Anthony, Larisa Antonisse, Eli Okun, Gardi Royce, Sarah Schwartz Editorial Cartoonist......................................................................................................................Sam Elkind Photographers...........................................................................Nick Grossman, Evan Horne, Andrew Kirwan, ..........................................................................Noah Mason, Leah Muskin-Pierret, Tolu Omokehinde Artists.....................................Sam Elkind, Eric Gabriel, Nathan Gamson, Sam Jacobson, Doyung Lee Sports Writers..................................................................................Stella Bartholet, Jialin Quinlan, ...................................................................................................Gardi Royce, Eli Schwadron, Claire Sleigh Professional Technical Advisers................................................Peter Hammond, Brian McLaughlin Adviser................................................................................................................................Joseph Fanning

Copy editors: Keeping Chips in check Having a copy editor is necessary to preserve quality By Gardi Royce Our job as writers is to critique, analyze and question all that is around us. Yet in order for us to do our job correctly, we must also be willing to examine and find faults within ourselves. This is no more apparent than with the issue of copy editing. One of the key factors in sustaining an effective newspaper is making sure all our pages are properly edited and formatted. Professional newspaper staffs include copy editors who read over all text and graphics in the newspaper and make sure they are free of spelling, grammar and style errors. Their job is to ensure that all the text is correct and complete. Unfortunately, Silver Chips does not have a copy editor, which makes keeping all the text devoid of errors incredibly difficult and almost impossible. This is why we always have a corrections box on page two, a designated area where we note our mistakes and blunders in the previous issue. Just last cycle, for example, we misspelled Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s name in an article. Having this section not only allows readers to check for mishaps, but also creates an environment where the staff is kept accountable for its work. While it’s nice to have this concept, it would be much better if we didn’t need such a space. Correcting mistakes after the fact is not enough. If Silver Chips wants to continue our tradition of excellence in news writing and reporting, we must commit to being stricter in our editing. While readers may not understand the impact of a good copy editor, his influence is undeniable.

Good copy editors are dedicated to making the text accessible to readers while making sure it is clear of errors. Basically, their job

Ombudsman Gardi Royce is to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors without changing the authors’ words or intent. As all of our staffers write, edit and design the newspaper, there is little time to spare during the cycle. Staffers simply cannot balance editing specific sections and checking all the individual stories. Because we have a small staff, the production of the paper requires intense dedication and perseverance, yet sometimes fine-combing the text gets squeezed out. With late-assigned and everchanging stories, we frequently misspell words and names; it’s difficult to analyze all the text on such a miniscule level. But it’s something we need to do.

Our fact-check supervisor goes through arbitrarily selected stories and checks to make sure the quotes and information match with the reporters’ notebooks. His job is vital to the accuracy of our newspaper; however, the responsibilities of the fact checker are too narrow to prevent most mistakes in the paper. We need to consider an alternative method to combat the potential mistakes and problems. The factchecker position is a good start and has worked reasonably well, but we should strive for above average. The necessary step should be to combine the fact checker’s duties with those of a copy editor, creating the ultimate fact-checking copy editor and ensuring that all of the work is done. This position would have to be filled by someone who doesn’t have as much editing to do. The sports or opinion editors seem to have the least to do during our production week and could probably handle the extra workload. Silver Chips should seriously consider making at least two staffers copy editors, in addition to their other editing positions. This way, there would be two people committed to going through the paper, rechecking each story and making sure the facts and quotes were correct. With multiple editors going over each story with the utmost caution, we would prevent frequent mistakes. Thankfully, we have been able to maintain a newspaper devoid of significant errors. We need to prepare for the future, however, instead of banking on past success.

Corrections

Web Exclusives Check Silver Chips Online (http://sco.mbhs.edu) for constantly updated news, features and entertainment — and make sure to be on the lookout for these upcoming stories: s

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools to retire in June

s

A festival of resilience: Festival raises money for quake

s

The power of the quake: Investigating the crisis in Japan

In the article “County grants schools permission to grow gardens” (p. 11, Mar. 10), science teacher Christopher Brown’s name was spelled incorrectly in a cutline.


silverCHIPS

PRO/CON 3

April 14, 2011

Are the academy programs at Blair effective in motivating and preparing students?

Eliza Wapner

YES:

NO:

Academies can provide a specialized and careeroriented education.

The academy program is not effective and could improve.

In a school of around 3,000 people, Blair can seem awfully huge. With Blair Boulevard crowds, numerous confusing stair cases and students sprawled all over Blair during lunch, a student can easily feel lost in a sea of Blazers. The academies help turn those 3,000 people at Blair into groups of smaller communities of students. Academy programs were originally developed for at-risk schools around the country. But the Downcounty Consortium decided to use the academy system in 2006 as an attempt to benefit non-Magnet program students. The academies successfully provide students with exciting classes, experience in their field of choice and interesting opportunities. Students must take at least three academy-specific classes to receive a certificate of completion, a chord at graduation and a special recommendation letter that is sent to colleges. The academies give students the opportunity to take classes in subjects where their interests lie, making school more interesting and appealing. The academy classes allow students to dabble in certain professional fields in high school before they commit to it in college or life. Among other benefits of this experience, students get a glimpse at the core of their concentration, allowing them to more accurately judge that interest. Academy coordinator, Kevin Moose, said that many students enter ninth grade hoping to become a doctor or pediatrician. But the academies help expose them to a wider variety of career options within the medical realm, such as nursing or radiology. This helps student in the long run, according to guidance counselor Laschell Wilson. “The beauty of the academies is that students get to expose themselves to cool subjects so they know if they’re going to be interested in them and you don’t spend unnecessary funds in college,” said Wilson. Academies also assist in the college application process and throughout a student’s college experience. Colleges like to see that students have passions and that they are applying themselves in high school, according to Wilson. The special letter of recommendation written by an academy leader give colleges an idea of a student’s academic seriousness, she said. The academies also provide a basis for college education. According to Moose, many students who end up in majoring in areas that overlap with their academies find that the material they learned in Blair

academy classes really has helped them by making their classes a little bit easier. The academies also provide unique opportunities to their participants such as internships, competitions, field trips, speakers and travel. Senior Emma Kaufman was connected to a summer program in Costa Rica through Moose last year. She received a scholarship to travel and do a language intensive with a family. Like Kaufman, junior John Shedd, who chose to come to Blair because of the strong Entrepreneurship academy, has participated in business competitions and is completing a business internship next year. Shedd’s business internship will serve as his Capstone. A Capstone is a project or experience that is outlined in a journal, written about and presented that results in a special certificate at graduation. The academies require no extra funding; the positions required to facilitate the program have decreased. The academy coordinator used to require 3.4 full time paid positions, but now they only require 1.2, according to Moose. Thus they in no way hinder Blair budget or resources. As with any school program, not all students participate fully in the academies and therefore do not gain the program’s maximum benefit. But the motivated students who take advantage of the academy opportunities are provided with interesting classes and preparation for college and the world beyond. Blair must not forgo a low-cost, innovative program that gives students an exciting and invigorating high

Unbalanced is the word that describes American education. On the one hand, there are students who do not show up to class, are not interested in the subjects and drop out as soon as it is legal. Then on the other hand, there are academically-motivated overachievers who strive to defeat all competition and succeed in every subject. At a school as big as Blair, this paradox only adds to what separation is already rampant among students. Blair’s solution to this problem is to stuff students into one of five academies. But such JENNY SHOLAR misguided action has done nothing to help motivate students. According to Academy Program coordinator Kevin Moose, academies were formed to create small learning communities in Blair with students and teachers who share similar academic interests in order to motivate students. The problem is that Blair academies don’t meet this goal. Academies should interest and engage students, making school an enjoyable experience full of thought-provoking discussions instead of dull busywork. Academies could create small learning communities, but the policies must be changed. In order to get an academy certificate, students must complete three “strand classes,” courses designed specifically to fulfill their academy’s requirements. A student at Blair will take seven classes each semester, which means that Blazers take 28 classes by the time they graduate, only three of which are tailored to their interests. The low requirement of strand classes hardly enables students to form a bond with teachers and

Helen Bowers

classmates in the same academy. Blair should require that students take at least three of their strand classes every year, and their core classes should reflect their academy. For instance, students interested in International Studies would take World History or Middle East Studies to fulfill their history credit requirements. Another way to generate interest is to have interdisciplinary activities. Let the Media Academy put on a concert where the Entrepreneurship Academy sells tee shirts and other paraphernalia. Students would be able to specialize unique focus interests by meeting others with similar academic inclinations and build relationships with them by working towards a common goal. Interdisciplinary activities would benefit a lot of Blazers. For example, junior Claire Ettinger has found that she wants to be a physical therapist after she leaves Blair. Ettinger enrolled in the Human Services Academy because one of its strands is Health and Fitness. But being a physical therapist requires more than knowing how to rebuild muscles. There’s a lot of science involved as well. “Anatomy is a pre-requisite that you have to take to get into any of the athletic training/therapist stuff,” Ettinger said. However, she cannot get credit for her academy from taking anatomy, since it is not a strand class for the Human Services Academy. In order for small learning communities to be effective, students have to bond with their classmates who share interests in academic goals. Interdisciplinary activities would be fun, academic group activities open to students who actively take part in their academy. Students like Ettinger, who have specifically tailored academies would have to discuss with their counselor about which activities would suit them best. For instance, Ettinger might go to a Human Services interdisciplinary where she learns how to work with disabled citizens, then perhaps a Science Math and Technology activity. Students everywhere could benefit from being involved in their academics. Making classes more interesting would motivate students to participate in class and involving students in interdisciplinary activities would acquaint them with academically similar-minded students. Academies need to start doing what they were designed to do and get students truly interested in the curriculum.

voiceBOX “They haven’t really done anything for me. I think they should redefine them.”

“Academies are stupid because funding could be put towards more important things.”

-sophomore Zoe McCarthy

-sophomore Ben Achilles

“It makes you think about the future, like what you want to be when you grow up.”

“It doesn’t make a difference. It splits up classes, but it’s pointless to separate kids.” -junior Emanuel Russom

-junior Julio Ferrufino

“Yes, I think they are effective because I know more about certain subjects and I’m closer to my career.” - senior Dolly Nguyen


4 OP/ED

Those who can By Eli Okun An opinion

We spend enough time learning, or pretending to learn, in high school to make anyone a little crazy. Everybody knows the sluggish torture of a period that won’t end. But we all have also experienced amazing classes, from a breakthrough on a nearimpossible math problem to a provocative discussion that lingers in the brain after the bell. Time warps in strange ways once we enter a classroom. The simplest and clearest reason is the person standing at the front. That person, in some educational programs, has mandated methods of instruction or formulas to follow in the classroom. Charter schools, for example, might advocate single-sex classes, completely bilingual education or other more unusual techniques. At a school like Blair, of course, we don’t have such uniformity. Our teachers are a mishmash of stern and friendly, engaging and removed. But that diversity brings the school strength in its incoherence because the best teachers don’t rely on a particular style. Ultimately, teachers of all stripes can succeed in the classroom. What they need is commitment, availability to their students, and flexibility to see education as more than just instruction. One of the most important qualities is also one of the simplest: accessibility. Regardless of

how they conduct themselves in the classroom, teachers can connect with their students best when they interact outside of it. Most Blair teachers specifically tell their classes at the start of each new semester when they have lunch and are available outside of school for academic support. There’s a clear difference, however, between those who merely state when they’re offering quiz retakes and those who make significant, proactive efforts to encourage strong student-teacher dynamics. Junior Nicole Gray recalled the still-inspirational work of an elementary school math teacher: “She made it personal for us, and so it kind of encouraged me to want to learn,” said Gray. The strength of the relationship between student and teacher affects classroom performance more than uninvolved teachers might like to think. Studies from education researchers dating back to the 1950s and ’60s have consistently shown that students’ confidence and empathy in class, which strong ties to teachers can foster, directly improve their academic accomplishments. There’s something more basic going on, though. We do our best when we’re in a conducive atmosphere, and teacher approachability is a crucial component of creating a friendly environment in the classroom. Aside from the availability factor, there’s the essential question of how teachers, well, teach. There’s a variety of styles, from

silverCHIPS

April 14, 2011

straight lecturing to discussionbased work to student presentations to creative group projects. Too often, we tend to rule out some of these: Boring lectures can’t motivate students, we think, or too little discipline will mean nobody learns anything. But that misses the essential diversity within each teaching style. Teachers can animate lectures without even asking for student questions, and classes can have thoughtprovoking group discussions that barely involve the only adult in the room. It’s easy to succumb to the stereotypical thinking — being dismayed to learn, for example, that student presentations will comprise the bulk of class time — only to discover that the resulting experience is fascinating and interactive. What’s key is how engaging and relatable each teacher can make his subject, and how well he can adapt the course to different groups of students. Forensics teacher Megan Dieckman said that she tries to give her upperclassman students freedom and creativity to explore the course without too constrictive a structure, which she said

ERIC GABRIEL

she can maintain because there’s no county curriculum to follow. Dieckman was inspired, she said, in part by her Advanced Placement (AP) English teacher in high school. “I may not have done so well on the AP test at the end of the year,” she said, “but I became a better writer.” That change speaks to perhaps the most important consideration when evaluating different teaching styles. Teachers should believe and act on the idea that education relies more on intangibles and personal transformations than statistics. It’s easy to criticize the school system for its hyper-standardization and over-reliance on test scores — in fact, we do it all the time. But it’s much tougher to push students beyond the standard curriculum, to make them gain more from a class than the themes of a novel or

the composition of a cell. Hard facts are important, sure, but the best classes are those that change the way we think and other aspects of our reasoning and personality. If a teacher pushes his students to evaluate their assumptions or moral codes, or he sparks even a few moments of genuine insight, then he has really accomplished something great. Often, it can be as simple as connecting obscure course material back to students’ own lives. The good news is that all of these varied qualities are plentiful here at Blair, where most teachers really are committed to their jobs. And if we remain focused on what’s important in high school (understanding material or at least trying our best) rather than the transient tragedy of an 89.4, students can thrive with any teaching style.

When ‘English’ doesn’t mean ‘European’: A diverse curriculum Literature in schools does not fully represent the diversity of American culture By Claire Koenig An opinion The books that we see in the list of Nobel Prize winning literature are universally regarded as some of the most worldly, illuminating pieces of writing the human race has ever seen. They are novels that, according to Alfred Nobel’s final will, “by virtue of their form and style, possess literary value.” But how is it that in this list of the world’s most important books only five were written by African authors? Why in

109 years have only 12 women ever won? Why are the top 10 countries that have been awarded the prize for literary value all from Europe or North America? This eurocentric view of the world, and the world’s literature, has affected not only human culture, but modern education. As it is, the books many of Blair’s teachers assign are not representative of all aspects of American culture and not relevant to our lives or our society today. Teachers need to branch away from onesided literature that has lost its controversy and cultural relevance and bring books

Art Corner Welcome to the Art Corner — a space where Silver Chips artists share their perspective on the issues of the day, or simply entertain with a little bit of good-natured humor.

DOYUNG LEE

into the classroom that will open diverse perspectives and opinions for students. Students need to read literature from the perspectives of all races and walks of life. Well-written books that invite readers to step outside of their cultural comfort zones and learn something new about different types of people can dispel prejudice and racism through understanding. By selecting books that accurately portray the traditions and hardships of a people, teachers can use literature to create a basic understanding of other cultures, and books in high school can lay a foundation of comprehension that can be built upon in years to come to create tolerance. But expanding thought and broadening horizons aren’t the only reasons to include different perspectives in classes. Books that encompass and portray different races will connect to different students, and these connections made to course material could mean the difference between pass or fail, or a student NATHAN GAMSON who is encouraged to keep learning and reading and one who is not. This multicultural curriculum cannot be restricted to students in higher level classes, but must infiltrate all English classes from AP to ESOL so that everyone can benefit. Diversifying literature in English classrooms would also lead to a wider range of writing styles to examine and controversial topics to discuss. Whereas many books written from a white perspective of slavery shed light on the issue, books written from the African American side clearly re-illuminate the topic. This example can be applied to other areas as well, especially where current events are concerned. Literature by Islamic-American authors read in schools might lead

to discussion of current events that allow students to form their own opinions and join the larger global conversation. Literature in the English curriculum desperately needs more diversity — and no one understands this better than the head of Blair’s English department, Vickie Adamson. Adamson teaches a senior English class called American Studies, in which students examine literature written by American authors that illustrate the many diverse facets of our culture, spanning different races, time periods, places and cultural identities. In Adamson’s class, students

are encouraged to discuss racism and other topics on a global scale and in their own lives. Senior Selena Wyborski said that the emphasis on different cultures in Adamson’s class is important for teenagers as we form new opinions about the world. “Blair is a diverse school, but we’re self-segregated,” she said. “As we are forming perceptions about other people, it makes a big difference that we talk about them.” American Studies, however, is only one English class of dozens. Multicultural curricula need to infiltrate through the school, through the county and through the country if our generation is going to encourage more tolerance than those in the past.


silverCHIPS

OP/ED

April 14, 2011

The truth behind the challenge A quality education means looking beyond the numbers By Maggie Shi An opinion As students, we have certain key numbers that seem to sometimes define our lives. We spend endless hours studying obscure words to try to boost our SAT scores, taking endless practice AP tests, or trying to edge our way closer to (or at least not get farther away from) that golden 4.0. Our lives revolve so much around these numbers, we begin to define ourselves by them, forgetting their real meaning. Something as complex as a high school education cannot be reduced to a number. But this doesn’t mean people aren’t going to try. There is a wealth of education-related data now available to the general public, accessible by a simple Internet search. And as with any data, there is a continuous effort to deduce meaning from it. One such attempt is the well publicized but poorly executed Washington Post Challenge Index, which ranks public high schools in the D.C. metropolitan region. The Post touts the simplicity of its ranking formula: the number of AP and International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students in a school in a year, divided by the number of graduating seniors. While simplicity is often a virtue, it’s not in this case because it means overlooking important factors of a quality education. It is necessary that counties and schools keep things in perspective when rating students and schools — MCPS and Blair have done decent jobs to date. There are too many aspects of a “good” school to be summed up by a single ranking. Student well-being, teacher capability, administrative competence and general quality of the learning environment are not represented in the Challenge Index ranking. The workings of an entire school cannot be defined solely by the number of tests taken; the other factors need to be somehow

taken into consideration too. The formula The Post uses is also much too simple and can be easily manipulated. A school looking to increase its score could easily increase the number of AP tests taken by allowing anyone to sign up for AP classes, watering down the curricula and then requiring students in the class to take the test. Fairfax County attempted just this, and while its schools’ Challenge Index rankings went up, it also landed itself in a budgeting dilemma. The cash-strapped county tried to rescind its policy of refunding all AP tests but according to a ruling by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli early this year, if Fairfax required students to take the tests, then it was obligated to pay for them. MCPS, on the other hand, has done a much better job handling the meaning of numbers. Over a decade ago, the county took a step in the right direction by abolishing class rankings. And while this may have denied the top few students the chance to be named valedictorian, it reduces the cutthroat competition for the rest of us. This doesn’t mean that students aren’t working hard. Instead, it allows them to focus on individual improvement instead of comparing themselves to each other. The county also emphasizes the importance of self-improvement by not focusing solely on cold, hard numbers to compare students to each other. The grading policy, for example, is exceedingly forgiving. In classes with final exams, a bad grade one quarter isn’t the end of the world — there’s still a chance for redemption with the exam. And classes with no final exam exemplify the county’s emphasis on progress, because the final semester grades “follow the trend” of quarter grades. Students whose grades go up a letter grade over the two quarters are given the higher of the two. MCPS also focuses on second chances.

The school system’s “Seven Keys to College Readiness” set certain milestones that students should achieve in order to be ready for college — things like earning a score of 3 or higher on an AP exam or at least a 1650 on the SAT. At a first glance, it may seem like the county is pushing to accumulate more scoring data. But Blair assistant principal Tamitha Campbell said that the point of the “Keys” is to show students there are many ways to achieve success. “The message,” she said, “is that just because you haven’t met one key doesn’t mean you’re doomed — you can always get another key.” The county’s disinclination to rely solely on numbers and rankings to judge students is reflected in Blair’s learning environment. Blair teachers of AP classes try to make their classes truly college-level courses instead of watering down the curriculum, sacrificing quantity of AP students for quality of the classes. In addition, Blair, like MCPS, encourages students to look past just the scores. “I don’t believe students should internalize any number [as a measure of] self-worth or intellect,” Campbell said.

MAUREEN LEI

Of course, this is not to say numbers like AP scores should be totally disregarded. They reflect some aspects of a school or of students — how hard the students work, the opportunities are available to them. Analysis of these scores can give significant insight, too. They are often useful for comparing schools in an objective manner, which is needed for proper oversight. However, in today’s data obsessed world, pointless efforts to quantify and compare schools and students must not distract us from what is really important — getting a quality education.

Honor societies redefining the meaning of honorable Blair’s four honor societies recognize achievement, but accomplish little else By Philipa Friedman An opinion Honor societies are seen by parents, students and teachers alike as the magical key to the locked gates of the Ivy Leagues, that little something extra that sets a student apart from the masses. Honor societies, by their very definition, are intended to set a student just a bit above the rest, but they rarely live up to the hype. Blair boasts four honor societies: National, French, Spanish and Latin. Each requires a certain minimum grade point average (GPA) and, in the case of the National Honor Society, a minimum of 150 community service hours in order to join. Far from an educated discussion between interested scholars, which is what one might expect from a club with such standards of exclusivity, the oncemonthly meetings turn into half-hour food parties which loosely coincide with certain school milestones or cultural landmarks. Many of the requirements that are said to be expected of members fall by the wayside. “They’re not really strict about it,” said senior Talia Mason, a member of the French Honor Society. “I try to show up.” The reality is that many students apply for honor societies as resume builders; the requirements

are fairly lax and rarely stay the same from year to year — as community service and attendance requirements tend to vary based on the club administration — so it’s easy to

slip through the cracks and still graduate with a nifty cord to wear with your cap and gown. And it always looks good to colleges, who see the name and assume its meaning. But admittance depends almost entirely upon GPA, rather than interest in the goals of the club or teacher recommendations. Being

in an honor society doesn’t make someone a hard worker, a curious intellectual or a passionate scholar. It’s only an indication that a student’s GPA meets a certain standard. If community

sion process becomes unfairly slanted toward those students who are already privileged in the admissions process. Honor societies are chock-full of uppermiddle-class white and Asian students with high GPAs, and they tend to exclude other demographics. Some students, no matter how bright or deserving, won’t get a 3.5 GPA. Maybe they have to work after school to support their families or stay home and take care of younger siblings. It’s not fair that such students should be denied the opportunity to pursue what might be a lifelong interest, in addition to being set back in the college admissions process. This isn’t to say that honor societies are inherently hurtful or pointless. They have simply come to reflect how well a student does SAM ELKIND in school, not how motivated or interservice hours or, more appropriested a student is. Most honor ately, teacher recomsocieties include a service requiremendations carried more weight, ment as well, but it is enforced so the selection process might be sporadically that it may as well more fair and the clubs more not exist. In the French Honor inclusive of people with a genuine Society, it is possible to fulfill one’s interest, but the current system is entire service requirement by too grade-oriented. bringing food to the meetings and This is where the college decioccasionally turning up to help

out in ESOL academic tutoring, where most students need help in Spanish, not French, according to Mason. The National Honor Society has only just begun seriously pursuing community service in the past year with their Habitat for Humanity fundraiser, according to president Casey Goldvale. The solution here is not to eliminate or condemn honor societies but rather to improve them. Blair must make the programs mean something by enforcing consistent expectations for achievement, service and community outreach and by reaching out to those who are interested in the clubs themselves, not the clubs as tickets to college.

GOOD DEEDS The National Honor Society has been drastically improving its community service aspect in the past year, said Goldvale. This winter, the society worked in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity to raise $1,000 and send 20 students to build homes in the area. According to Goldvale, NHS held a number of smaller events, like bake sales and candy gram sales, to raise money for the suggested donation as well as larger benefit events at local businesses such as Salon Jam and Mamma Lucia. The club has also been helping at Shepherd’s Table.


6 ADS

April 14, 2011

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SOAPBOX

April 14, 2011

SOAPBOX: Blazers speak out Do you think that the school system should be able to track student activities on the computers? see story, page 10

7

How do you fit exercise into your daily schedule? What is your favorite way to work out? see story, page 30

“They should be able to track everything they want, but they should allow us to go on any site we want.” -freshman Cailyn Keely

“I work out every day and I have weight-lifting class. I usally stay after [school] three to four days out of the week. I usually run a mile every day. Running is my favorite way to work out.” -senior Gerson Calles

“I feel like they should because I know a lot of people get around the blocked websites and do bad things. But I feel like teachers would look at the information we need for projects and deem it as inappropriate when it isn’t actually.” -sophomore Tranelle Dodson

“I’m on the lacrosse team, so that’s usually my exercise. If I don’t have practice, I run.” -freshman Amalia Perez

“I think that the school system shouldn’t be able to track student activities on the computer because it’s the student’s business, and it’s not their business.” -freshman Gilda Ferretti

ART BY NATHAN GAMSON

How do your teachers make classes more enjoyable? see story, page 4 “My Spanish teacher is really good with the Promethean board. It makes it a whole class activity. I like when we sing Spanish songs as well.” -senior Nancy Wen

“I fit exercise into my schedule by either going to the gym for muscle conditioning or playing basketball or football with my friends for cardio conditioning.” -sophomore Xavier Stansbury “I fit exercise in my schedule because I have gym in school. When I finish my homework, I also exercise. My favorite way to work out is by first doing a warm up.” -freshman Elvia Sanchez “I usually work out after school from three to five. I like to work my biceps and triceps.” -sophomore Juan Olivo-Gil

“Digression, lots and lots of digression. But not too much digression, as long as it relates to the subject.” -sophomore Nyah Layne “Ms. Ivey decorates the room, and it helps me focus and [be] motivated to work harder.” -senior Emily Haislip “One teacher gives us frequent breaks. I guess class makes you feel a little restless, and the breaks help relieve some of the stress. You get a little socialization time.” -junior Joshua Reckson

Would you listen to student-produced rap or poetry? Why or why not?

Do you think that prom is depicted accurately in movies and television? Why or why not? see story, page 23 “No, not at all because there are people who go with friends in real life, but in movies it’s depicted as romantic and far more dramatic, it’s like a wedding. -junior Leanna Commins

see story, page 20 “I wouldn’t listen to the rap, but I would listen to the poetry. I think it is important to listen to what students want to write about in a poetic format.” -sophomore Chandini Hollenhorst a “Yeah, absolutely. I do that all the time, especially at the Silver Quill Open Mic. It’s hard to rap because people expect you to be perfect like the artists that come from big studios.” -senior Louise Gretschel

“No, the movies make it seem like a huge fairytale and thats not actually true. All the seniors I know say that it’s not that big of a deal; it’s just a dance. -sophomore Clara Benjamin “The movies that I watch do not show prom being perfect.” -senior Stephan Knudsen

“Yes, because it would be interesting. Students are just as legitimate as any other rappers. Even though they don’t have money, they still need to start somewhere.” -junior Nova Getz

chipsINDEX 6 16 9.0 36

Average number of books Blair English classes cover in a year Number of days later spring break 2011 starts compared to 2010 Magnitude of the March 11 Japanese earthquake Percentage of Blazers who say they pulled an April Fool’s Day prank this year

55 34.2 3.594

168.4

Cost of prom ticket in dollars

Percentage of Blazers who qualify for Free and Reduced Meals Program

Blair’s Washington Post Challenge Index score Total MCPS teacher firings as a result of the budget shortfall this year

Compiled by Claire Boston with additional reporting by Richard Chen, Brittany Cheng, Emma Lurye, Stacy Mathew, Katelin Montgomery, La’Sasha Taylor and Michelle Yirenkyi.

Quote of the Issue

“ ” He said, ‘If you want it, go out and get it, chase it.’ And that’s exactly what I did. senior Erick Ticas

see SPOKEN WORD, page 20


8 NEWS

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April 14, 2011

Staff cuts planned Blair updates trash program Green Club brings misguided habits to light for next year

of half a position out of only three positions will require reprioritizstaff members on March 4. Weast ing and streamlining work. “We said that although the budget had are a little stumped of how to cut not been finalized yet, it was im- back services,” she said. English resource teacher Vickie Adamson is concerned about the reduction in the staff development position because she feels that it is vital to the school. She believes that having additional support resources for teachers is what makes MCPS one of the best JENNY SHOLAR AND ERIC GABRIEL INFORMATION COURTESY OF MCPS school systems in the portant for MCPS to prepare for nation. “If we start to dismantle the worst. “We must deal with the that, then we will see a decrease reality of the situation before us [in the quality of the school sysand provide staff and principals tem],” she said. Williams said that the county ample opportunity to make plans had been anticipating such reducand adjustments,” he wrote. In response to the reductions, tions for awhile. “The superinWilliams plans on reorganization. tendent told us two years ago he “We will be revamping how we sensed budget cuts,” he said. Verdo business,” he said. “I may have dejo acknowledges that in the curto look at individuals’ roles and rent economic climate, the cuts are responsibilities.” Assistant Prin- inevitable. “We’re in an economic cipal Edith Verdejo-Johnson also crisis. We have to make hard decisaid that Blair was in a tough posi- sions,” she said. But some of the staff feel that tion and would have to adjust. “In general, we’re being asked to do the decisions could have been made with more attention to what more with less.” The media center has been hit will affect students most. Adamespecially hard by staffing reduc- son says she wishes the cuts did tions in recent years. “We already not have such an impact on classhad a huge staff cut from last year es directly. “I do believe that there to this year,” said media specialist is often bureaucratic fat that can Andrea Lamphier. She said that be trimmed before classrooms,” dealing with the new reduction she said.

from CUTS page 1

from RECYCLING page 1

with stickers to make a clearer distinction between the two containers. Green Club ordered more paper recycling bins and commingled recycling bins for bottles and cans. According to Agbonselobho, trash cans and recycling bins are now in all hallways and classrooms of the building and are more accessible to students. Fol-

really high,” he said. This semester, members of the Green Club have started work to reduce recycling contamination by separating recyclable and nonrecyclable materials in trash, according to Green Club president, senior Nissi Chilkamari. Based on the Green Club’s first cleanup of recycled materials, Chilkamari estimates that about 30 to 45 percent of Blair’s recycling is contaminated, with most contamination on the first floor of the building. According to Green Club sponsor Karen Shilling, one misplaced trash item in a recycling bin is enough to contaminate the entire container, causing all contents to be thrown away rather than recycled. Separating contaminated from uncontaminated recycling involves tedious work, said building service manINFORMATION COURTESY OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY ager Yak Agbonselobho. He hopes that students lowing SERT’s recommendations, will make the process easier for the Green Club has also created the Green Club by demonstrating “centralized stations,” which are more awareness. “We need every- paired recycling cans and trash cans throughout the school so one’s cooperation,” he said. In response to the SERT re- that students will not have to port and after a visit from SERT walk farther to recycle. In addirecycling technician John Meyer tion, according to Agbonselobho, on Feb. 17, Green Club has taken previously blue trash cans have action to improve the recycling been removed and replaced with system at Blair. Members have gray containers for trash only, dislabeled trash and recycling bins tinguishing them from the blue

containers for recyclable cans and bottles. According to Shilling, the Green Club has also ordered large recycling containers with lids only wide enough to fit paper, preventing students and teachers from trying to insert trash items into paper recycling bins. However, Agbonselobho says that these lids are not protective enough. “People take off the lids and throw coffee cups in recycling bins,” he said. “[Containers with] edibles should not be allowed in the recycling bins.” According to Benjamin, Blair also incorrectly recycled their items in plastic trash bags, which are nonrecyclable. Blair building service members have adopted a new method in which they use trash bags only to collect recycling materials, so that cans in the recycling can be protected from damage. At the loading NATALIE RUTSCH dock, workers then unload the trash bag but do not recycle the trash bag itself, said Agbonselobho. Shilling believes that Blair’s recycling program is successful overall and has made good progress, but she hopes for improvement. “For the most part, we’re good, but we have a long way to go,” she said. “We are good in energy savings, but need to do a lot better in recycling.”

IT staff see a rise in blocked proxy website violations Students face punishments for accessing unauthorized websites on school computers By Biruk Bekele

Wong said that his office has not increased security measures to track proxy use, but the number of students who use proxies has been rising. Once administrators are alerted

Over the past two months, the IT staff has received a large amount of messages from the MCPS technology department informing the school about student proxy use. According to Blair IT systems specialist Peter Hammond, this is the first time that the IT staff has received numerous e-mails regarding proxy violations. Proxy websites allow students to bypass Internet filters and access blocked websites by using alternate servers to retrieve other websites. “A proxy server is a computer that says ‘I’ll go get the stuff for you that you aren’t able to get,’” Hammond said. “It’s the middleman.” The IGT-RA, an MCPS regulation on computers and network security states that “circumventing technology protection measures” is not allowed. Hammond said that he receives several e-mail messages a week regarding proxies. The reports give the students name, the proxy sites he or she entered, and the time the student was on the website. After Hammond receives the message, he sends it to administrators. According to Larry Wong, MCPS Information Assurance and Risk Management Supervisor, there has been a change INFORMATION COURTESY OF PETER HAMMOND in how the county reports violations to the school. Before this year, Wong made about their students’ proxy use, it is up to a phone call to the principal. Now, Wong each of them to determine what disciplinary sends an e-mail to both the IT staff and the action to take. Assistant Principal Suzanne Harvey principal.

said that her punishments can range from a warning to two weeks of suspension from computer privileges and are based on the student’s history of computer violations. Magnet coordinator Peter Ostrander said he does not offer a warning after a student is found using a proxy. Instead, he automatically suspends computer access for up to two weeks because a student would not use a proxy site unless they wanted to access blocked sites. “They don’t use a proxy by accident,” he said. “They are very clear about what they are doing.” Harvey said that proxy violations have been more prevalent this year. “The sites are available and kids are catching on to that,” she said. This year, Harvey has dealt with eight proxy cases, but does not remember dealing with a PHILIPA FRIEDMAN proxy case in previous years. So far Ostrander and Harvey have not seen any repeat offenders. “Once they know they’re going to get caught, they know not to

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

Proxies let users bypass Internet filters by using alternate servers.

do it,” Ostrander said. Other IT staffs in county schools such as Northwood have also been receiving proxy messages fairly recently. According to Northwood IT systems specialist David Flagg, his school has recently received about 15 messages on proxy use.


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October 7, 2011

Administration launches Cell phone policy modified Blair adopts new policy a year early new security hotline By Maureen Lei Blair Principal Renay Johnson announced the Blazer Hotline, a phone number which Blazers and surrounding community members can call and text to anonymously report negative student activity, on Sept. 13. The Hotline is monitored by Johnson and security team leader Cedric Boatman. According to Johnson, the Blazer Hotline was created when she met with Boatman to address concerns expressed by Woodmoor residents. “Their main concern was that there was so much teenage nuisance during the school day. So, I talked to Mr. Boatman, and he said ‘We have an extra cell phone, so why don’t we set up a tip line?’,” she said. According to Boatman, the goal of the Hotline is to maximize safety at Blair. “If students see something going on that shouldn’t be going on and they want to talk to an adult about it without breaching their identity, they can contact the Hotline. It’s not a snitching line,” he said. So far, the Hotline has not generated traffic. “There’s nothing right now. I don’t think enough kids know about it,” said Boatman. Johnson echoed Boatman’s sentiments, and revealed her plan to work with the Student Government Association (SGA) to further publicize the Hotline. Specifically, she plans for the SGA to create refrigera-

tor magnets, stickers and posters. English Resource Teacher Vickie Adamson and junior Patrice Morgan-Ongoly, the Student Government Association (SGA) President, expressed positive sentiments regarding the Blazer Hotline. Adamson stressed the necessity of the Hotline as a means of communication. “Since I’m a parent at Blair, it’s interesting when my kids say things at home that I would never hear as a teacher, and if the school really has an interest in what students are thinking, there should be a safe vehicle to do that,“ she said. Morgan-Ongoly saw merit in the power of the hotline to create a sense of security. ”SGA hopes that by raising awareness, it will create a safer school environment,” he said. Senior Austin Liou and junior Natalia Campos did not agree with Adamson and Morgan-Ongoly. Liou doubted the effectiveness of the Hotline. “I don’t think anyone is acutally going to call it,” he said. Campos viewed the hotline as a violation of privacy. “I think people need to mind their business,” she said. Johnson will review messages recorded by the Blazer Hotline to observe DOYUNG LEE trends in student behavior. “What I’m going to do is monitor on a monthly basis to see if some things are happening more,” she said. She plans on performing her first check at the end of October. If you have information, call or text the Blazer Hotline at (240) 688-7940. Prank calls are monitored.

By Puck Bregstone Beginning August 29, Blair adjusted its cellphone policy to allow students to use their phones during 5th and 6th period lunch, as well as before and after school. This year’s cell phone policy stipulates that the first time a student’s phone is confiscated, he or she must wait until the end of the school day to collect back the device from Blair’s security office. The second time the phone is confiscated, the student’s parents must retrieve the phone from Blair. On the third confiscation, the administration schedules a conference with the student and his or her parents. According to Suzanne Harvey, teachers in previous years were not always required to confiscate phones that went off in class, and were allowed to leave the decision up to personal discretion. This year’s policy creates a consistent disciplining process with clearly defined rules and repercussions. The rationale behind the new policy is that if students are allowed to use their phones before school, during lunch and after school, they will have less need for their phones during school hours. “With freedom comes responsibility. This is no different than a business place. Your business is to get an education and in a business place you would never use your cellphone,” said Suzanne Harvey. There is soon to be a new standard policy for all Montgomery County high schools,

but the Blair administration made the decision over the summer to enforce the policy a year ahead of time. “Next school year all of Montgomery County will follow this policy so we decided, to adopt the policy a

CLAIRE SLEIGH

year early,” explained assistant principal, Suzanne Harvey. Magnet math teacher David Stein expressed the belief that modern cellphones have more than one use and felt that the MCPS policy demonstrates a lack of understanding. Stein said, “We need to realize that phones are not just for calling anymore. The graphing calculators on iPhones are better than actual graphing calculators. Why make a student pay an extra $100 dollars for a graphing calculator that is no better than what they already have in their pocket?” Senior Roy Banwell saw the policy as ineffective, pointing to its lack of influence on student behavior. “It’s a hopeless case; the new policy will honestly not change much cellphone use,” he said.

MCPS Superintendent holds series of Listen and Learn events Joshua Starr plans to increase communication between school district and community by Elizabeth Lakew Over the next two months, Superintendent Dr. Joshua P. Starr will host 10 “Listen and Learn” events to meet students, parents, staff and community leaders throughout Montgomery County. Courtesy of Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr talking to a student at a Listen and Learn event. Starr, who was superintendent of the Stamford school system prior to joining Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), said the

MCPS superintendent Joshua

“Listen and Learn” program will allow him to address the County’s prominent concerns and communicate his intentions for the MCPS system. “This is a way for me to listen to folks about what’s going on,” he said to the crowd of parents and students. “I’m forming opinions [at this stage].” The first “Listen and Learn” event was held on Sept. 19 at Albert Einstein High School. Here Starr revealed MCPS’s new curriculum for elementary schools, which will be implemented countywide, called Curriculum 2.0, and addressed

other concerns. According to the MCPS website, the upgraded curriculum will blend elective subjects with the core content areas. “Curriculum 2.0 will provide more instructional focus on the arts, information literacy, science, social studies and physical education. By blending these subjects with the core content areas of reading, writing and mathematics, students will receive instruction across all subjects in early grades,” Starr said. There has been a lot of positive feedback from members of Montgomery County since the curriculum was introduced. Barbara Henderson, President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats, believed that it will give students a more well rounded education. “Grade school is meant to prepare kids for life after the classroom, and MCPS’s Curriculum 2.0 does just that. It is heartening to see states move away from teaching for tests, and teaching for life,” Henderson said. Legislative Aide Dave Kunes also commended Starr on his work as superintendent. “I tend to fall more in line with Starr’s educational philosophies… I like that he didn’t come COURTESY OF MCPS in and knock the teachStarr hosts a Listen and Learn event. ers’ union and supports

more partnership between teachers and administrators,” Kunes said. During the “Listen and Learn,” October 10 Starr recognized how the county met October 18 its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). October 19 “We’re the first county to get to the moon,” he November 1 said, referencing MCPS’s AYP and November 7 graduation rate successes. According to Education November 21 Week, MCPS has the highest graduation rate in the country. Eighty-five percent of students in Montgomery County graduate with a diploma, while the national average is seventy-one percent. But the “Listen and Learn” did not just highlight Montgomery County’s successful graduation rate, it also addressed the No Child Left Behind Act. Starr expressed his dissatisfaction with No Child Left Behind and its effect on MCPS. “[I can’t express] my enormous frustration with No Child Left Behind,” he said. “I very much hope that Congress will not reissue it.”

Listen and Learn Community events Northwest High School Long Branch Community Center B-CC High School Wootton High School Wheaton High School Sherwood High School

Throughout the event, parents and students raised questions about the safety and availability of public transportation and the county’s emphasis on taking high-level courses. Though MCPS is known for its rigorous curriculum, many parents stressed that the current system is excessively difficult for students. Starr expressed his dissatisfaction towards the amount of stress being put on students under the current curriculum. “We are in this dangerous place [because] kids could be doing so much more, and they should be,” he said.


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April 14, 2011

NEWS

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Maryland considers linking UMCP and UMB campuses

Board of Regents to lead investigation regarding potential merger between campuses By Maureen Lei The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents will consider merging the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), as proposed in a bill introduced by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-27) on March 21. The bill was sent through the Maryland Conference Committee after two different versions were approved by the House and Senate, according to USM Chancellor William Kirwan. According to Kirwan, the merger would nullify the current titles of both UMCP and UMB, legally combining them into one university, called the “University of Maryland,” under one administration. “If there was a merger, there would legally be a single institution...You sometimes see mergers in the corporate sector, and it’s not a bad parallel, because you take two separate entities, each with its own structure, and combine

them into a single entity with a single president,” he said. Kirwan stressed that a merger would benefit the status of the universities, but pose technical and social difficulties. He identified increased amounts of research and improved rankings as positives of a potential merger. However, Kirwan also said that it may be difficult for faculty members to commute between the two campuses for meetings and that UMCP and UMB do not educate the same populations. Although the Board of Regents has not yet specified the exact nature of the potential union, seniors at Blair who will attend UMCP in the fall expressed largely positive feelings regarding the proposal. They identified improved reputation as the main benefit, but also questioned the motivation behind the bill. Seniors Josh Kickenson and Sree Sinha, who plan to go to

PHILIPA FRIEDMAN AND MAUREEN LEI

UMCP this fall, are both carefully optimistic about the possible union. “Merging would make it harder to get in, but that much more prestigious. That would definitely be good. It might be harder, but people who already go and who graduated would have more prestige,” said Sinha. Kickenson also saw improved status as a reason to merge the schools, but noted his concern that the proposal was a political move. “If [the system] is just trying to gain more EVAN HORNE power, I don’t know if it’s a good idea. It Harford Hall is on the University of Maryland College Park campus, would sound like which may soon share an administration with the Baltimore campus. more of a power bring a balance. They’re going to the public. A specific timeline for play,” he said. Similar to Kickenson and Sinha, try to play up the numbers, but the the merging process has not yet Career Center Coordina- kids who would have applied to been set. Kirwan emphasized, however, tor Phalia West also one school may not get accepted,” that if Maryland decides to merge expressed mixed she said. According to Kirwan, the Board the UMCP and UMB campuses, feelings about joining the two of Regents will compose and sub- the process will not have concrete c a m p u s e s , mit an official report to the Mary- effects for several years. The planning process would specifying her land General Assembly by Dec. last until the fall of 2012, the enconcern that 15. If the Board of Regents is in forcement process would last until the union may benefit USM, favor of a merger, the report will the summer of 2013, and effects of politicians and contain logistics as well as a rec- the merger would not be felt until the fall of 2013. According to Kirthe administra- ommendation, he said. In compiling the report, the wan, the rising freshman class will tion more than the students. Board of Regents will consult vari- not yet be affected by the merger, “What it might ous educational experts in the field and if they are affected, it will be do is try to and hold open hearings open to later in their educational careers.


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April 14, 2011

Yearbook suffers financial constraints, low interest Due to budget restrictions, content may be cut from the 2012 yearbook from YEARBOOK page 1 yearbook would sell about one thousand copies, he said. “We sold maybe 600 copies last year,” he said. In addition, in previous years the yearbook would sell anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 in senior ads, a major source of funding for Silverlogue. In 2010, however, senior ad sales only brought in about $4,000, which is approximately 15 percent of the total production cost of the book. The difficulty in selling the yearbook and senior ad space could have several causes, according to Tingle. The majority of the students who purchase the yearbook come from upper-middle class white families. “The yearbook only sells to a certain demographic,” she said. Since Blair is racially and economically diverse, marketing in a way that appeals to all students can be challenging. “It’s difficult to reach out to everyone,” said Tingle. Another inhibiting factor could be the cost of the book; Silverlogue is currently priced at $92. Because the economy is suffering, resulting in tighter family budgets, Lee esti-

tempted to sell blocks of four personalized pages to individual students, which would then be printed in those students’ yearbooks only. According to Lee, the effort was unsuccessful, as only about 30 students took advantage of the offer. The yearbook also began selling advertising space to businesses in the past two years, whereas before ad space was strictly reserved for seniors and their families.

Whatʼ’s been done

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

Yearbook staffers, like junior Leila Farrer, left, may design a smaller book next year. mates that only about 21 percent of the student population purchases the yearbook.

According to Lee, significant changes have been made to the book already in order to increase

interest and curb costs. Over the past year, several pages have been eliminated and Silverlogue at-

Silverlogue has already made a number of changes in the past year to help keep yearbook costs low. According to Lee, the yearbook staff has already been marketing the book more than in previous years and has also been campaigning for students to taken advantage of the personalized pages option. In addition, the 2011book is shorter than that of the previous year; pages were cut in order to limit the book’s length.

Mandatory Algebra II proposed Teachers react to budget cuts Non-profit pushes for required math class Leggett’s proposed budget to eliminate positions By Simrin Gupta

By Biruk Bekele

Propents of the Algebra II requirement say it predicts college readiness.

On April 5, hundreds of teachers and other school support staff staged a protest outside of the County Council building demanding that the county increase funding for schools. According to Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) Vice President Chris Lloyd, the school system would receive $82 million less than it requested under County Executive Isiah Leggett’s budget proposal, even though the school expects about 3,000 additional students next year. The proposed budget would lead to staffing cuts as well as an increase in class sizes, increasing teachers’ workload, Lloyd said. Blair academies coordinator Kevin Moose, who attended the protest, said the fact that class sizes are still increasing will have a big impact on the quality of education. “It changes the classroom atmosphere,” he said. “There’s less discussion and individual attention.” ELIZA WAPNER In addition to a rise in INFORMATION COURTESY OF MARC GROSSMAN workload, teachers may have to spend a greater percentage of their sala- a budget under a tough economic climate. ries on pensions and health care. Accord- The county council could use some of the ing to Lloyd, the Maryland legislature has money it plans to store in its reserve funds already agreed to make teachers pay two towards the school system, he argued. The county uses the funds for emergency situpercent more for their pension plans. Leggett also requested that county em- ations, but Lloyd said the school system is ployees pay 10 percent more for health care facing major cuts that impacts the quality of insurance. Even though teachers are not education many residents value. Social studies teacher George Vlasits, subject to this proposal since the Board of Education determines their benefits, the who also attended the protest, said the Board could be pressured to increase health county could tap into other revenue sources care costs for teachers in order to save to create money for schools. Property taxes money, Blair-MCEA liaison Marc Grossman have been decreasing due to a reduction in home values. But Vlasits said the county said. If teachers were subject to the same health could put the taxes up to the same rate to care plan as county employees, they could take in more money. Blair freshman John Gallagher spoke out lose over $4,000 a year, according to Grossman. “It’ll hit people pretty hard,” he said. at the rally expressing his disapproval of Moose said that teachers are already facing the proposed cuts. “Every dollar they have hard financial times because they don’t get cut is someone’s job and someone’s educaa salary adjustment for inflation. “My pay tion,” he told the crowd. Gallagher is the national director of state has been frozen for two years. Things are getting more expensive,” Moose said. Put- and local government relations for the Nating a greater financial burden on teachers tional Youth Association.

basic math rules that they should’ve been taught in elementary school. This year, Washington, D.C., has joined Kate Blosveren, Achieve Associate Di20 states in a nationwide movement to rector, maintains that of all the classes ofmake Algebra II a requirement for high fered in high school, Algebra II is the class school graduation. which best predicts college and workplace Achieve, an independent non-profit success. According to Blosveren, Algebra II education reform orclasses foster critiganization based in cal thinking and Washington, D.C., is teach students the leading this moveability to analyze ment to make Algeabstract concepts, bra II a requirement skills that are prefor high school gradrequisites for jobs uation. in any field. According to a reAchieve cites a cent study by the U.S. study by U.S. DeDepartment of Edupartment of Education, taking chalcation researcher lenging math courses Clifford Adelman for at least three teacher who found that years of high school students who Franklyn Cohen helps close the gap in complete Algebra college competition II gained momenbetween black and latino students. tum toward earning a degree. According to Maryland and Virginia are not willing to Blosveren, students who take math beyond make Algebra II mandatory. Blair’s Algebra Algebra II double their chances of earning a II teacher Franklyn Cohen said if MCPS de- bachelor’s degree. A study by Educational cided to change the graduation requirement Testing Service representatives Anthony it would do more harm than good. “We’re Carnevale and Alice Desrochers indicated dealing with students who have difficulty that 84 percent of employees who hold topgrasping symbolic concepts plus, many of tier jobs had taken math classes up to or bethem have never learned the basic rules of yond Algebra II, whereas only 50 percent of mathematics.” He also said that he noticed bottom tier employees had completed the many of his students have difficulty with class.

We’re dealing with students who have difficulty grasping symbolic concepts.

EVAN HORNE

will detract young people from pursuing teaching careers, he argued. “People will leave and young people wouldn’t want to be teachers.” Lloyd said the county council could still come up with additional funds for the school system, even though it’s planning


10 NEWS

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June 1, 2012

Senior Awards ceremony Due to budget restrictions, content may be cut from the 2012 yearbook By Zoërose Waldrop yearbook would sell about one thousand copies, he said. “We sold maybe 600 copies last year,” he said. In addition, in previous years the yearbook would sell anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 in senior ads, a major source of funding for Silverlogue. In 2010, however, senior ad sales only brought in about $4,000, which is approximately 15 percent of the total production cost of the book. The difficulty in selling the yearbook and senior ad space could have several causes, according to Tingle. The majority of the students who purchase the yearbook come from upper-middle class white families. “The yearbook only sells to a certain demographic,” she said. Since Blair is racially and economically diverse, marketing in a way that appeals to all students can be challenging. “It’s difficult to reach out to everyone,” said Tingle. Another inhibiting factor could be the cost of the book; Silverlogue is currently priced at $92. Because the economy is suffering, resulting in tighter family budgets, Lee esti-

tempted to sell blocks of four personalized pages to individual students, which would then be printed in those students’ yearbooks only. According to Lee, the effort was unsuccessful, as only about 30 students took advantage of the offer. The yearbook also began selling advertising space to businesses in the past two years, whereas before ad space was strictly reserved for seniors and their families.

Whatʼ’s been done

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

Yearbook staffers, like junior Leila Farrer, left, may design a smaller book next year. mates that only about 21 percent of the student population purchases the yearbook.

According to Lee, significant changes have been made to the book already in order to increase

Teachers unions

interest and curb costs. Over the past year, several pages have been eliminated and Silverlogue at-

Silverlogue has already made a number of changes in the past year to help keep yearbook costs low. According to Lee, the yearbook staff has already been marketing the book more than in previous years and has also been campaigning for students to taken advantage of the personalized pages option. In addition, the 2011book is shorter than that of the previous year; pages were cut in order to limit the book’s length.

Northwood

Non-profit pushes for required math class Leggett’s proposed budget to eliminate positions By Katelin Montgom-

basic math rules that they should’ve been taught in elementary school. This year, Washington, D.C., has joined Kate Blosveren, Achieve Associate Di20 states in a nationwide movement to rector, maintains that of all the classes ofmake Algebra II a requirement for high fered in high school, Algebra II is the class school graduation. which best predicts college and workplace Achieve, an independent non-profit success. According to Blosveren, Algebra II education reform orclasses foster critiganization based in cal thinking and Washington, D.C., is teach students the leading this moveability to analyze ment to make Algeabstract concepts, bra II a requirement skills that are prefor high school gradrequisites for jobs uation. in any field. According to a reAchieve cites a cent study by the U.S. study by U.S. DeDepartment of Edupartment of Education, taking chalcation researcher lenging math courses Clifford Adelman for at least three teacher who found that years of high school students who Franklyn Cohen helps close the gap in complete Algebra college competition II gained momenbetween black and latino students. tum toward earning a degree. According to Maryland and Virginia are not willing to Blosveren, students who take math beyond make Algebra II mandatory. Blair’s Algebra Algebra II double their chances of earning a II teacher Franklyn Cohen said if MCPS de- bachelor’s degree. A study by Educational cided to change the graduation requirement Testing Service representatives Anthony it would do more harm than good. “We’re Carnevale and Alice Desrochers indicated dealing with students who have difficulty that 84 percent of employees who hold topgrasping symbolic concepts plus, many of tier jobs had taken math classes up to or bethem have never learned the basic rules of yond Algebra II, whereas only 50 percent of mathematics.” He also said that he noticed bottom tier employees had completed the many of his students have difficulty with class.

We’re dealing with students who have difficulty grasping symbolic concepts.

EVAN HORNE

Propents of the Algebra II requirement say it predicts college readiness.

from NORTHWOOD page 1 On April 5, hundreds of teachers and other school support staff staged a protest outside of the County Council building demanding that the county increase funding for schools. According to Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) Vice President Chris Lloyd, the school system would receive $82 million less than it requested under County Executive Isiah Leggett’s budget proposal, even though the school expects about 3,000 additional students next year. The proposed budget would lead to staffing cuts as well as an increase in class sizes, increasing teachers’ workload, Lloyd said. Blair academies coordinator Kevin Moose, who attended the protest, said the fact that class sizes are still increasing will have a big impact on the quality of education. “It changes the classroom atmosphere,” he said. “There’s less discussion and individual attention.” In addition to a rise in workload, teachers may have to spend a greater percentage of their salaries on pensions and health care. According to Lloyd, the Maryland legislature has already agreed to make teachers pay two percent more for their pension plans. Leggett also requested that county employees pay 10 percent more for health care insurance. Even though teachers are not subject to this proposal since the Board of Education determines their benefits, the Board could be pressured to increase health care costs for teachers in order to save money, Blair-MCEA liaison Marc Grossman said. If teachers were subject to the same health care plan as county employees, they could lose over $4,000 a year, according to Grossman. “It’ll hit people pretty hard,” he said. Moose said that teachers are already facing hard financial times because they don’t get a salary adjustment for inflation. “My pay has been frozen for two years. Things are getting more expensive,” Moose said. Putting a greater financial burden on teachers will detract young people from pursuing teaching careers, he argued. “People will leave and young people wouldn’t want to be teachers.” Lloyd said the county council could still come up with additional funds for the school system, even though it’s planning a budget under a tough economic climate.

The county council could use some of the money it plans to store in its reserve funds towards the school system, he argued. The county uses the funds for emergency situations, but Lloyd said the school system is facing major cuts that impacts the quality of education many residents value. Social studies teacher George Vlasits, who also attended the protest, said the county could tap into other revenue sources to create money for schools. Property taxes have been decreasing due to a reduction in home values. But Vlasits said the county could put the taxes up to the same rate to take in more money. Blair freshman John Gallagher spoke out at the rally expressing his disapproval of the proposed cuts. “Every dollar they have cut is someone’s job and someone’s education,” he told the crowd. Gallagher is the national director of state and local government relations for the National Youth Association.


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April 14, 2011

NEWS

11

Potomac farmer loses land

School board reclaims farm for soccer field By Claire Koenig

Berliner wrote a letter to the school board in March, asking them to postpone construction so that Maravell would have more time to resettle. The county agreed his request was reasonable, and Maravell will now be able to stay on the land until the end of the year. He

After three decades, farmer Nick Maravell must relocate off of his Potomac farmland by order of Montgomery County. The county, which has leased the land to Maravell for 30 years, plans to replace his farm with new public soccer fields. On March 3, Maravell received a phone call from a county official informing him that he would have 20 days to evacuate the premises, which includes not only a portion of his farming business, but also his home. “Giving the public almost no time to debate the plan to build ball fields here is not right for our community,” Maravell said. According to a 2005 land use study issued by the recreation department, the county could need as many as 88 soccer fields to alleviCOURTESY OF POTOMAC ALMANAC ate a growing interest in Farmer Nick Maravell stands on his organic farm, which youth teams. will soon be reclaimed by the county for soccer fields. However, land is scarce and Montgomery County officials said he plans to complete the 2011 growing have been able to find only two suitable season before making new arrangements for tracts — one of which is Maravell’s farm. his farm. Some officials, like Montgomery County A community meeting was held by the Councilmember Roger Berliner (D–Dist. 1) Montgomery County Department of Genof Potomac, have argued that the commu- eral Services on April 4 to discuss how the nity was not properly informed of the coun- protesters in the community can come to a ty’s plans for the land. compromise with the county.

At the meeting Maravell and his family proposed to make the land an educational communitycentered farm that would allow for school visits to teach students about farming and the environment. However, after the meeting the county declined to hold open debate with the community on the issue, so plans to build the soccer fields will continue, according to Maravell. When the county first leased the 20-acre plot to Maravell in 1980, it reserved the right to reclaim the site in order to build a school. But although the county has fulfilled its promise to collect the land, the end result won’t be new schools, but new sports fields. Although the need for a soccer field is eminent, county officials say that another school in the area would not be necessary as there are two other middle schools already available to students. The county purchased the site in 1973, and began leasing to Maravell in 1980 for $1,300 a year. But talk of developing the land began in November 2009, when a meeting between the Department of Facilities management staff and county staff briefed the school board in June 2011. Other concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of the new field.

LARISA ANTONISSE

As the area around the site is mainly farmland, the concern for the environment is great and some community members are worried about pesticides or other chemicals used on the fields. Creating soccer fields would also mean leveling the land and destroying the topsoil, which would make it difficult to ever reclaim as organic farmland. During the community meeting, a spokesperson for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said that they are in support of saving the plot for farmland, because organic farms like Maravell’s greatly benefit the environment by protecting water quality and providing healthy, organic food for the community. The county is currently looking to find a private developer willing to design and maintain the fields for a 10-year lease at $1,500 a year. Maravell’s family-run organic farm has been in business for 30 years. In addition to the Potomac plot, Maravell owns a 165-acre plot of land near Buckeystown, Maryland.


12 ADS

April 14, 2011

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April 14, 2011

MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services, says that a significant change took place in the program four years ago, which may have led to the increase in Blair enrollment. Before the change, every individual student who wanted to apply for FARMs needed to file an application. But in the 2006-2007 school year, the FARMs program created a family application, which allowed parents to file one form for all of their children. The change was implemented to reduce paperwork, but it also had a positive side effect. Heinrich believes that the new family forms may have resulted in more high schoolers receiving FARMs. According to Heinrich, some high school students do not want to take the initiative to apply for the benefit because they are either unaware of the program, as in Treminio’s case, or are embarrassed. However, teachers pay closer attention to younger children and are more likely to ensure that the forms get signed. When the new family application was created, younger children gave the form to their parents, who included their older children on it as well, says Heinrich.

SPECIALS

“I don’t know what I’m eating anymore,” she says. “I don’t know where it has been.” Health teacher Rich Porac believes that these students have legitim a t e concerns. Based on what he has seen in the cafeteria, he believes that much of the food i s

13

Food and Nutrition Services has made many efforts to increase the nutrition and quality of Senior Roxana Treminio used to resort lunches. Montgomery County has already to going hungry during the school day. She begun to introduce salad bars to elementary did not know that she could qualify for free schools. meals until last year, when her younger sister Students can pay for the salads with brought a county-government form home FARMs. Heinrich adds that many schools and asked her parents to fill it out. Now that now only serve fat-free milk and no Treminio receives school-provided meals, longer fry potatoes in grease. They she is able to eat a full meal without waiting now use combi ovens, which are until she gets home. quick and efficient ovens The percentage of students who have used to bake potatoes. Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs) at Blair “We are ahead of has increased dramatically over the past some of the eight years. The number has risen from 22 legislapercent to 34 percent since the 2002-2003 tion on school year. Some believe that the surge is healthier due to the recession, but others attribute the meals,” program’s increase to its success in spreadsays Heiing awareness. nrich. “We really do Getting the message try to have that range Principal Darryl Williams says that the in choices so FARMs program is getting better at attracting that people students. He believes that utilizing media can choose the and adding a digital version of the applicahealthier items.” Cafeteria Director Maddalena Bianchini says that Blair has been cooking food the same way for several years now. The school has long provided fat-free milk and has also GRAPHICS BY JEWEL GALBRIATH A hot potato used combi ovens. She says greasy and unhealthy. “The food they serve that the only change she can recall in recent Though there has is no different from fast food,” he says. Porac times occurred two to three years ago, when been an increase in the adds that trans-fat was number of students o b e s i t y outlawed. signing up for FARMs, throughThere are teachers are still con- o u t t h e currently cerned that some stu- country is no plans to dents who need the a significhange the cafprogram are not get- cant issue, eteria’s offerand school ting the support. ings. “It may Social studies teach- l u n c h e s not be as tasty er David West suspects are part of as if it had fat,” that there are students the cause. she says, “but TOLU OMOKEHINDE T h e from undocumented we are servAbove, Blazers enjoy hot lunches in the SAC. The food is unimmigrant families ing more fresh FARMs program opens this meal option to all students. who do not sign up healthy in fruits, vegetation to the MCPS website may be why more for FARMs out of fear that they will be dis- large part bles and salads students are signing up. He adds that the covered. “There could be a perception that if b e c a u s e every day.” program provides applications in different you don’t have a legal status in the country, i t m u s t Though languages, giving all Blair families access then signing up for FARMs is giving too much be quick the number of to FARMs. and cheap information to the government,” says West. students reKate Heinrich, Assistant Director of the But according to Heinrich, it is not pos- to make, ceiving farms sible for undocumented immi- s a y s P o is increasing, grant families to be discovered rac. The the direction through the FARMs applica- cafeteria of the program tion. The program does not has to stay remains unTOLU OMOKEHINDE share its confidential informa- within the clear. But as tion with other government c o u n t y The cafeteria staff was reduced three years ago long as there b u d g e t because of a decrease in school lunch purchases. departments. are students There are also concerns that and prewho rely on some students who are part of pare food for hundreds of students. “Hon- school meals for food, FARMs will ensure the FARMs program are not estly, I’m not sure if there is much they can that no one has to go hungry. taking advantage of it. These do,” says Porac. “So much depends on money students do not eat lunch and time.” Principal Williams also believes that the because they are dissatisfied with the food provided in the tight budget and limited staffing prevent changes from being made. During the 2007cafeteria. Applying for FARMs is a fairly 2008 school Junior simple process that can be completed year, there was Ty Bethel anytime during the school year. If you a decrease in receives think you may qualify for FARMs, the number of reduced pick up a form from school or print it meals being lunch, but out online. purchased, since eats only The application can be accessed more students occasionalby going to the Montgomery County started turning ly because Public Schools website (www.montto alternatives the cafgomeryschoolsmd.org), going to the such as bagged eteria does “Parents & Students” tab at the top, lunches. The not always clicking “Lunch menus” under Most school had to provide Requested and then clicking Free and reduce the numappetizing freshman Reduced Meal Application on the leftber of cafeteria vegetarian hand side. workers along options. Karen Hernandez Send the completed form to the folwith their sala“ T h e y lowing address: ries in order to don’t have much of a choice for me most stay within the budget. “We don’t have the Division of Food and Nutrition appropriate staffing to provide more choices of the time,” he says. Services Freshman Karen Hernan- for our students,” says Williams. Montgomery County Public Schools dez receives free lunch but 16644 Crabbs Branch Way waits until she gets home to Fresher foods Rockville, MD 20855 eat because she does not trust the food and finds it unhealthy. According to Heinrich, the Division of

By Stella Bartholet

APPLY TODAY

I don’t know what I’m eating anymore; I don’t know where it has been.


14 NEWSBRIEFS

NEWSBRIEFS

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April 14, 2011

Celebration of culture

ICC evening rush-hour use sliced in half According to a report released by the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) on March 28, the number of motorists using the Intercounty Connector (ICC) during the 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. evening rush hour dropped 62 percent after toll fees went into effect on March 7. 2,793 commuters used the ICC during its first week of operation from Feb. 23 to March 1, when toll fees were not yet being enforced, the report read. The report also specified, however that only 1,057 commuters used the ICC from March 21 to March 25. Kelly Melhem, a spokeswoman for MDTA, said the organization expected the drop in traffic but expects that it will steadily rise, and eventually stabilize, over time. Montgomery County Councilmember Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) and other opponents of the ICC argued that the sharp reduction in ICC use indicates that toll fees are causing drivers to use other roads to commute. According to Andrews, some drivers cannot afford to pay the toll fees, while others simply do not want to.

Maryland Superintendent of Schools to retire Maryland Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick announced on March 30 that she plans to retire at the end of June, concluding a 20-year career as the leader of the Maryland school system. Grasmick was appointed by the Maryland State Board of Education (MSBE) in 1991 and has since pushed Maryland to succeed in No Child Left Behind-influenced standardized testing. She established High School Assessment testing in 2005 and has also spoken in favor of early childhood standardized testing throughout her career. Under Grasmick, Maryland has consistently ranked among the nation’s highest-achieving school systems. Though the state has performed well under Grasmick, recent studies have found that half of Maryland’s high school graduates require remedial math courses as college freshmen. Several county superintendents, including MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast, have praised Grasmick for her accomplishments and service to Maryland students. According to MSBE spokesman William Reinhard, the MSBE will begin the search for Grasmick’s replacement before her retirement.

EVAN HORNE

Despite the rain that fell throughout the Big Cherry Block Party in Downtown Silver Spring on April 2, onlookers enjoyed the Japanese martial arts demonstration.

House bill may stop drivers passing buses The Maryland State Senate passed Senate Bill 679 (SB 679) on April 1 that would allow Maryland school districts to install cameras on school buses to catch drivers who ignore their stop signs. The bill passed with a 38 to 7 vote, and it is now being considered by the Maryland House of Delegates, where passage is uncertain. SB 679 was proposed by Senator David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick), who says that the bill aims to enforce the state law forbidding drivers from disregarding stop signs on school buses. If the bill is passed in the House of Delegates, drivers who pass stop signs on school buses will face a fine of up to $250. Opponents of the bill argue that the money required to purchase and install cameras would be better spent on education and enforcement of the law SB 679 is meant to enact.

Leggett’s budget would cut funds for firefighters County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has proposed cutting almost half of the county funding for Montgomery County’s Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association for next year. In a proposal released on March 15, Leggett cut $3.3 million from Fiscal Year (FY) 2011’s $6.5 million, leaving the volunteers $3.2 million for fiscal 2012. These cuts represent the ongoing conflict between Leggett and the county’s volunteer firefighters. The volunteers said that Leggett is using these cuts as revenge for their campaign against the ambulance fee he championed last year, which was eventually overturned. Leggett insisted that the cuts are necessary to help fill a $300-million revenue shortfall in the county’s budget. Leggett proposed to decrease operation funding, eliminate a volunteer recruiter and cut administrative staff positions from 20 to five. Supporters of Leggett’s cuts say that they are designed to not hurt the actual firefighting aspects of the volunteer association, just to cut extra spending. Supporters of the volunteer firefighters, however, say that cutting funds for the association will inevitably affect firefighting services because it will eliminate uniforms and training for volunteers.

MCPS workers rally before County Council Hundreds of MCPS teachers, administrators and parents rallied for school system funding outside of the Montgomery County Council building in Rockville during a public hearing on April 5. The hearing was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., but a crowd of demonstrators gathered by 6 p.m. Because the crowd was so large, county police blocked traffic on two of the surrounding streets. The demonstrators protested the county’s refusal to fund MCPS at the $82 million increase proposed by the MCPS Board of Education (BOE). According to members of the BOE and other MCPS administrators, the school system will experience a sharp increase in student enrollment, making the funding increase necessary to stay in operation. Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, however, rejected the request. He argued that because of the county government’s projected $300 million budget shortfall, it cannot afford to fund MCPS at increased levels.

Newsbriefs compiled by Maureen Lei, with additional reporting by Maggie Shi, The Gazette, Rockville Patch, The Washington Post and American University Radio.

SAM ELKIND, PHILIPA FRIEDMAN AND DOYUNG LEE

HONORS s 3ENIOR Eric Ruggieri placed 24th in the 200Yard Breaststroke at the National Club Swimming Association (NSCA) Junior Nationals in Orlando, Florida in March, qualifying him for the Speedo Junior National Championships. Junior Niklas Hammond placed 121st in the 500-Yard Freestyle. Ruggieri and Hammond both swim for RockvilleMontgomery Swim Club (RMSC); the club was one of nearly 90 clubs at the meet. RMSC placed third at the meet. s 4EN"LAZERSRECEIVEDPRIZESATTHETH!NNUAL Montgomery County Science Fair on March 18-20 at University of Maryland College Park campus. Seniors Ann Choi, Andrew Das Sarma and Ajay Kannan; juniors Melodi Anahtar, Lori Kaufman, Maureen Lei, Ziyao Wang and Justin Yu; and

sophomore Jinhie Skarda were all recognized at the fair. Senior Shilpa Kannan was chosen as an alternate to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which will take place in Los Angeles, California in May. s 4HE "LAIR 2OBOTICS TEAM PLACED SEVENTH OUT of 63 competing teams on March 25 at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology competition in Washington, D.C. The team won eight of their 10 matches. s 4HE "LAIR SYMPHONIC ORCHESTRA AND CONCERT orchestra received superior ratings at District 2 Orchestra Festival at Walter Johnson High School on March 15. Both orchestras will compete in the Maryland Orchestra Festival on April 26-30.


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from PANHANDLING page 1

April 14, 2011

homeless people from other places to come panhandle. remaining loyal to one neighborhood, have The first reason is money, as it usually is for become a permanent fixture in Four Corners panhandlers. At the large nine- by four-lane — a harsh reality that faces Blazers as they intersection, with a median running though walk to the bus stop, drive to school, or cross it, panhandlers can easily corner a wide range the street for a snack. of driving commuters stuck at the red light, according to Kirk. From Boulevard to Boulevard The panhandlers also benefit from their proximity to Blair and the high traffic of Blair students encounter them every day, student pedestrians crossing the street to but their interaction is limited. Senior Arthur get to Four Corners businesses. The U.S Tsapdong says that he does not notice them Department of Justice (USDJ) reports that 5060 percent of students give money to panhandlers, more than adults. Montgomery County, as a whole, may also attract more panhandlers because of the relatively relaxed laws against the practice, according to Kirk and George Leventhal (D-At large), a Montgomery County councilman. In Montgomery County, unlike in surrounding Washington, D.C., Virginia and seven PHOTOS BY NICK GROSSMAN other Maryland A man standing on the sidewalk hopes his sign will attract counties, includdonations from commuters and students at Four Corners. ing Anne Arundel, Frederick and and has become somewhat desensitized to- Prince George’s, it is currently legal for people ward them through his time at Blair. “I don’t to stand by the road and ask for money, as really think that much of them because I see long as they do not threaten or harass people them every day,” he says. for money. Kirk says that frequent exposure to panLeventhal says that this may contribute handlers can have this unfortunate effect on to the disproportionately large number of peoples’ view of the homeless, even though out-of-county people coming to panhandle in most panhandlers are not homeless. “A lot of Montgomery County. Kirk says that the counpeople can become invisible. After a while, ty attracts a certain number of people from people just step around people who look like surrounding areas seeking “easy money.” [panhandlers].” Kevin Moose, however, a social studThe ban ies teacher who has been teaching at Blair for almost a decade, approaches the needy This reputation may not last. The legality differently. One day, four years ago, as an of panhandling in the county was challenged experiment encouraged by his church group, last month as county and state legislators he decided to greet one of the panhandlers on fought for a bill that would put an outright his way to work, a man named Kevin. “We ban on roadside solicitation. always sidestep them, but we could just say The bill would have allowed the County ‘hi’; they’re people, too,” Moose says. Council to create a permitting system for They origiroadside nally began solicitors, talking about requiring sports, but them to their daily present a conversations permit to developed into police. But, more profound according to discussions Leventhal, about their who supthoughts and ported the lives, and they bill, panhansoon became dlers begfriends. As ging for cash they became like those closer, Moose a r o u n d learned that F o u r C o rKevin was not ners would homeless, but INFORMATION COURTESY OF US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE not receive NOAHGRACE BAUMAN rather lives in permits. a government-subsidized apartment in Leventhal says that the eventual goal of Wheaton. Though he does it less these days, the bill is to move beyond the permitting Kevin made the commute to Four Corners system to a blanket ban on panhandling beevery day to panhandle. cause implementing the permit system would put additional strain on the County’s already Business is good struggling budget. The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Anne Kaiser Though the area surrounding the Coles- (D-Dist. 14), withdrew at the last minute, ville-University intersection, Woodmoor, facing a political burn from the Montgomery is relatively wealthy, according to Census County Career Firefighter’s Association, who data, its conditions encourage poor and thought the bill would threaten their charity

campaign in which they raise money from roadside donations. Leventhal thinks that criminalizing panhandling would be the best way to get them off the streets and into support systems. He says that if people really want to fix the issue, they should donate to social services that help feed, educate and house the poor and homeless. “People giving money to panhandlers should give it to homeless services… to get to the root of the problem,” he says. Legislators promise constituents further attempts to instate the ban, but for now, panhandlers can still walk the median unrestricted.

FEATURES

15

an addiction, that makes Kevin unhirable, making Kevin’s only available source of income panhandling. Eckenode and Kirk say that the best way to help panhandlers is to hand out cards with

Back to society

But according to a USDJ report, the median is not a safe place to be. Panhandlers are A woman is careful to panhandle out of the road, which more likely to be remains legal in Montgomery County despite controversy. victims of crimes; half of panhandlers report being mugged service information or point them in the direcevery year. Their income, ranging anywhere tion of the nearest shelter or aid organization. from $3-$300 every day, is as unpredictable But Moose tries a less formal approach to as their next meal. making a difference in Kevin’s life — acts They do not continue to take these risks for of simple, though thoughtful, kindness. lack of resources, though — Kirk, Leventhal, Though he says Kevin has never asked him and Shepherd’s Table director of social ser- for anything, Moose gives him whatever bills vices John Eckenrode insist that services for he happens to have available at the moment, the poor and homeless are widely available whether it’s a one or a twenty. Moose also to those who need them. brings Kevin more than just money, such as There are over 18 other shelters and orga- warm clothes during winter months, food and nizations within 20 miles of Four Corners that a friendly face. Moose even brings Kevin a help the poor and homeless, like Bethesda Christmas card and gift every year. Cares and Shepherd’s Table, which provide He knows this cannot fix the problem of fresh food, a warm place to stay in the winter poverty or begging, but believes that with months, resume writing and career prepara- small acts of compassion and generosity, a tion, emotional support, and rehabilitation. real positive change can be made in the lives “We help people trying to find a toehold to of these individuals. “I really enjoy doing connect them back to society,” Kirk says. what little I can,” Moose says. “If everyone Despite the number of options available took care of one person, we could make a to them, Kirk says that most panhandlers huge difference.” just aren’t willing to pay the price: sobriety and commitment to a program to keep them off the streets. The reason there are so many people out on the street asking for money, according to Eckenrode, is that they have other needs for which organizations do not provide. Shelters do not give out cigarettes, alcohol or other illicit drugs, so many panhandlers will sustain these bad habits with the money they make off of begging. Moose says that though he has never pried, he knows that there is something, possibly a Panhandlers collect the most cash from donors like this criminal record or one at stoplights in busy intersections like Four Corners.


silverCHIPS

silverCHIPS

CENTERSPREAD April 14, 2011

Tricks of the trade Sleeping and walking the dog are only the beginning of senior Neel Kar’s tricks. Casually pulling a blue yo-yo out of his pocket during sixth period lunch, Kar sends it spinning with a flick of his wrist. In a swift maneuver a moment later, he’s twisting the string in a series of complicated loops, his yo-yo whizzing continuously. Kar received his first trick

Senior Neel Kar brings his yo-yo to school every day in order to practice tricks during lunch. He started yo-yoing a year and a half ago and practices as much as two hours each day.

yo-yo at age seven, but started practicing serisouly a year and a half ago. He brings his yo-yo to school in an effort to work in a few minutes of practice during lunch. While he generally practices by himself, his skills often pique the interest of others. “It attracts a crowd,” he explains. While Kar generally practices alone, junior Enoch Hsiao often brings friends when he practices diabolo at lunch. Diabolo evolved from Chinese yo-yos, and involves juggling and throwing a spool with string attached to two sticks. Hsiao began diabolo in Chinese school, where he was on a team and learned tricks and

routines. Now, Hsiao has begun teaching is friends his skill and even started a diabolo club at Blair. During his lunches, he practices outside and teaches his friends the basics as well. “It’s fun to perform and fun to teach,” he says. “It’s almost relaxing.” Unlike Kar, who can practice yo-yo in the SAC, Hsiao does diabolo outside. Because the art involves throwing the spool high in the air, Hsiao has to take to the less trafficked fields and sidewalks of Blair to avoid setting of sprinklers. Hsiao says that his choice of practice location generally attracts less attention from casual onlookers. Attention, he main-

tains, isn’t his goal. “It’s a hobby of mine, and I do it to take my mind off of other things,” he says. “So I don’t look for an audience.” Kar, who is working to bring his skills to a competitive level, says he welcomes occasional lunchtime attention. “I’m just trying to practice, and sometimes it’s good to have pressure to perform well,” he says.

Junior Enoch Hsiao demonstrates diabolo, a form of high-flying Chinese yoyo. He started the MBHS Chinese Yo-Yo Club this year to teach his friends his tricks. TOLU OMOKEHINDE

TOLU OMOKEHINDE EVAN HORNE

Sophomore Rosnie Malayo, above, works on a piece for his Ceramics II class during lunch. Senior Dennis Li, at right, uses the wheel to shape one of a series of bottles.

Under the table

Mealtime masterpiece

Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

The most distinguishing aspect of ceramics teacher Jonathan Verock’s classroom is the sheer dirtiness — clay is everywhere. It covers the tables and it’s tracked on the floor, rendering the white tiles a dingy red-brown. But the most dedicated ceramics students have no trouble getting a bit messy in order to work on their art. Verock’s classroom may be tucked away deep in the arts hallway, but his door is always open. Verock has held open studio time for his ceramics students nearly every lunch period for the last four years. He can rattle off a long list of regular visitors — students who regularly come for part or all of their lunch period in order to work on pieces for their ceramics classes or just for fun. Senior Dennis Li is one regular during lunch. He began taking ceramics during his sophomore year, and found he enjoyed the class enough to devote more time to the art. “I got hooked. The more I took it the more I liked it,” he explains. Li, who dabbled in studio art previously but now focuses primarily on ceramics, says he is drawn to the art form in particular because of its quick hands-on nature.

Just off campus, a secluded section of trees borders a nondescript portion of the Beltway sound barrier. The area is populated by mostly homeless, save for the occasional group of Blazers who take a few minutes out of their lunch periods to get high. Despite the stringent closed-lunch policy, for some students the key to an enjoyable lunch period lies just outside Blair’s 42 acre campus. Cautious Blazers intent on minimizing their chances of being caught by security cameras or wandering students know that their chance to get high without consequences is just a short walk away. For these students, smoking weed at school is an opportunity to make the rest of their day more entertaining. Adam, a sophomore, estimates that during the first semester, he walked to the “the village,” what these Blazers call the area, two or three times a week in order to get high with friends. While he smokes at school less frequently now due to rumors of arrests at the village, he says coming to class high after a lunchtime joint

For Blazers, a lunch period is rarely just time to eat. It might be a time to catch up with friends, review material or just relax and take a break from the monotony of classes. While it’s common to see students in the SAC, along Blair Boulevard or outside as the weather gets warmer, students spread all across Blair, some choosing to spend their 45 minutes on more unusual endeavors.

EVAN HORNE

Sophomore Rosnie Malayo, who has been taking ceramics for the past two years and says he works on his pieces regularly through lunch, says he is attracted to clay for its artistic potential. “Doing stuff with your hands is more free. Clay is a really easy medium to express yourself,” he says. While Malayo works on a piece for his Ceramics 2 class, Li sits at a wheel, carefully shaping a set of bottles. His dedication has begun to pay off — literally. He recently sold his first piece, which he made in the studio during lunch, at an auction.

Lunch bunch

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

Even when her class isn’t in session, guitar and chorus teacher Norma Abdul-Rahim’s room is rarely quiet. Throughout fifth period lunch, music permeates the air as guitar players strum in corners of the spacious classroom. Other students crowd into AbdulRahim’s office to watch YouTube videos and chat about everything, from music to their personal lives. This is Abdul-Rahim’s “lunch bunch,” a group of her chorus and guitar students who regularly spend their lunch period in her classroom. Attendees estimate that between six and 12 people show up in the classroom each day, and agree that it is a relaxing and fun way to spend their 45 minutes. Freshman Kemari Bigbie joined lunch bunch at the beginning of second semester, seeking a community atmosphere when he no longer had the same lunch period as many of his friends. A dedicated guitar student, he spends as much time as he can playing. Though Bigbie only picked up the guitar at the beginning of the school year, he is now playing as much as possible and says he sa-

Kemari Bigbie, above left, enjoys practicing music in a friendly environment. Freshman Alejandro Perez, bottom left, receives encouragement from Abdul-Rahim.

vors the additional 45 minutes of playing lunch bunch gives him each day. Lunch bunch attracts a diverse group of students — a variety of grades, races and programs are represented in the eight students who sit in a loose circle and concentrate on their guitars. Abdul-Rahim moves from student to student as she eats, leaning in to listen to a student practice a new section of music for a minute, then praising another on a smooth chord progression. While it is Abdul-Rahim’s first year teaching at Blair, she also held lunch bunch where she formerly taught. She says this year’s lunch bunch began early in first quarter, when students began requesting a place to practice and receive homework help. Gradually, students began to show up just for fun as well. And they enjoy the experience enough to keep coming back. “Even if more of my friends had my lunch period, I’d still come here,” says Bigbie. Junior Chandani Hangilipola still spends some of her lunch periods in the SAC with friends, but there are weeks when she says she will come to lunch bunch three or four days a week to sing and catch up. She says she enjoys the casual environment and chance to bond. “Ms. Abdul-Rahim knows how to relate to the students. It’s an easy connection and you’re not intimidated,” she says.

SAM ELKIND

makes his afternoons more engaging. “[Class is] funnier,” he explains. “You feel more attached to what is being said and it’s deeper.” While his friend Kyle, a junior, is quick to share anecdotes of Adam’s revealing in-school behavior after getting high at

lunch — “One time, he came back talking about vampires and bats,” says Kyle — Adam says he doesn’t worry about being caught at school while high. “We have really chill lunches here. People can tell, but no one cares,” he says with a shrug. Instead, he maintains that the biggest risk of smoking during lunch is merely being caught leaving campus.

Puzzle project Four Blair teachers enter the room at the same time, and suddenly, the race is on. It’s mostly silent, and physics teacher Bob Donaldson, math teacher David Stein and IT Systems Specialist Peter Hammond focus intently on the task at hand. Just one minute and 43 seconds later, they’re done with the entire Monday New York Times crossword puzzle. Donaldson, Stein and Hammond are far from professional puzzlers — but they do have a team name. Known as the Blair Puzzle Project, Donaldson, Stein, Hammond and additional members social studies teacher David Swaney and physics teacher James Schafer, meet at the beginning of fifth period lunch in order to complete

Title

Junior Kathryn Klett practices guitar in Abdul-Rahim’s room, where students come during lunch to play music.

LEAH MUSKIN-PIERRET

the daily crossword puzzle. While Stein and Donaldson had been doing crossword puzzles together for years, Stein says the formal project began two and a half years ago, when he needed a large data set to use for the statistics class he teaches. A fan of crossword puzzles since college, he recruited his colleagues and they formed a formal group, working together each day to complete the puzzle as fast as possible. Stein says he can’t fully explain what draws him to the puzzles. “I like putting things in little boxes,” he jokes. The Puzzle Project meets daily, but rarely for long. It’s not uncommon for the members to tackle a Monday puzzle in under two minutes, or a Friday puzzle in under six. And in the digital age, the members can even work apart. To solve the daily puzzle, between two and five members log into a virtual room— no hard copy of the paper required.

LEAH MUSKIN-PIERRET

Physics teacher Bob Donaldson joins other staff members to complete the New York Times crossword puzzle online. The group tracks their times on a blog.


silverCHIPS

silverCHIPS

CENTERSPREAD April 14, 2011

Tricks of the trade Sleeping and walking the dog are only the beginning of senior Neel Kar’s tricks. Casually pulling a blue yo-yo out of his pocket during sixth period lunch, Kar sends it spinning with a flick of his wrist. In a swift maneuver a moment later, he’s twisting the string in a series of complicated loops, his yo-yo whizzing continuously. Kar received his first trick

Senior Neel Kar brings his yo-yo to school every day in order to practice tricks during lunch. He started yo-yoing a year and a half ago and practices as much as two hours each day.

yo-yo at age seven, but started practicing serisouly a year and a half ago. He brings his yo-yo to school in an effort to work in a few minutes of practice during lunch. While he generally practices by himself, his skills often pique the interest of others. “It attracts a crowd,” he explains. While Kar generally practices alone, junior Enoch Hsiao often brings friends when he practices diabolo at lunch. Diabolo evolved from Chinese yo-yos, and involves juggling and throwing a spool with string attached to two sticks. Hsiao began diabolo in Chinese school, where he was on a team and learned tricks and

routines. Now, Hsiao has begun teaching is friends his skill and even started a diabolo club at Blair. During his lunches, he practices outside and teaches his friends the basics as well. “It’s fun to perform and fun to teach,” he says. “It’s almost relaxing.” Unlike Kar, who can practice yo-yo in the SAC, Hsiao does diabolo outside. Because the art involves throwing the spool high in the air, Hsiao has to take to the less trafficked fields and sidewalks of Blair to avoid setting of sprinklers. Hsiao says that his choice of practice location generally attracts less attention from casual onlookers. Attention, he main-

tains, isn’t his goal. “It’s a hobby of mine, and I do it to take my mind off of other things,” he says. “So I don’t look for an audience.” Kar, who is working to bring his skills to a competitive level, says he welcomes occasional lunchtime attention. “I’m just trying to practice, and sometimes it’s good to have pressure to perform well,” he says.

Junior Enoch Hsiao demonstrates diabolo, a form of high-flying Chinese yoyo. He started the MBHS Chinese Yo-Yo Club this year to teach his friends his tricks. TOLU OMOKEHINDE

TOLU OMOKEHINDE EVAN HORNE

Sophomore Rosnie Malayo, above, works on a piece for his Ceramics II class during lunch. Senior Dennis Li, at right, uses the wheel to shape one of a series of bottles.

Under the table

Mealtime masterpiece

Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

The most distinguishing aspect of ceramics teacher Jonathan Verock’s classroom is the sheer dirtiness — clay is everywhere. It covers the tables and it’s tracked on the floor, rendering the white tiles a dingy red-brown. But the most dedicated ceramics students have no trouble getting a bit messy in order to work on their art. Verock’s classroom may be tucked away deep in the arts hallway, but his door is always open. Verock has held open studio time for his ceramics students nearly every lunch period for the last four years. He can rattle off a long list of regular visitors — students who regularly come for part or all of their lunch period in order to work on pieces for their ceramics classes or just for fun. Senior Dennis Li is one regular during lunch. He began taking ceramics during his sophomore year, and found he enjoyed the class enough to devote more time to the art. “I got hooked. The more I took it the more I liked it,” he explains. Li, who dabbled in studio art previously but now focuses primarily on ceramics, says he is drawn to the art form in particular because of its quick hands-on nature.

Just off campus, a secluded section of trees borders a nondescript portion of the Beltway sound barrier. The area is populated by mostly homeless, save for the occasional group of Blazers who take a few minutes out of their lunch periods to get high. Despite the stringent closed-lunch policy, for some students the key to an enjoyable lunch period lies just outside Blair’s 42 acre campus. Cautious Blazers intent on minimizing their chances of being caught by security cameras or wandering students know that their chance to get high without consequences is just a short walk away. For these students, smoking weed at school is an opportunity to make the rest of their day more entertaining. Adam, a sophomore, estimates that during the first semester, he walked to the “the village,” what these Blazers call the area, two or three times a week in order to get high with friends. While he smokes at school less frequently now due to rumors of arrests at the village, he says coming to class high after a lunchtime joint

For Blazers, a lunch period is rarely just time to eat. It might be a time to catch up with friends, review material or just relax and take a break from the monotony of classes. While it’s common to see students in the SAC, along Blair Boulevard or outside as the weather gets warmer, students spread all across Blair, some choosing to spend their 45 minutes on more unusual endeavors.

EVAN HORNE

Sophomore Rosnie Malayo, who has been taking ceramics for the past two years and says he works on his pieces regularly through lunch, says he is attracted to clay for its artistic potential. “Doing stuff with your hands is more free. Clay is a really easy medium to express yourself,” he says. While Malayo works on a piece for his Ceramics 2 class, Li sits at a wheel, carefully shaping a set of bottles. His dedication has begun to pay off — literally. He recently sold his first piece, which he made in the studio during lunch, at an auction.

Lunch bunch

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

TOLU OMOKEHINDE

Even when her class isn’t in session, guitar and chorus teacher Norma Abdul-Rahim’s room is rarely quiet. Throughout fifth period lunch, music permeates the air as guitar players strum in corners of the spacious classroom. Other students crowd into AbdulRahim’s office to watch YouTube videos and chat about everything, from music to their personal lives. This is Abdul-Rahim’s “lunch bunch,” a group of her chorus and guitar students who regularly spend their lunch period in her classroom. Attendees estimate that between six and 12 people show up in the classroom each day, and agree that it is a relaxing and fun way to spend their 45 minutes. Freshman Kemari Bigbie joined lunch bunch at the beginning of second semester, seeking a community atmosphere when he no longer had the same lunch period as many of his friends. A dedicated guitar student, he spends as much time as he can playing. Though Bigbie only picked up the guitar at the beginning of the school year, he is now playing as much as possible and says he sa-

Kemari Bigbie, above left, enjoys practicing music in a friendly environment. Freshman Alejandro Perez, bottom left, receives encouragement from Abdul-Rahim.

vors the additional 45 minutes of playing lunch bunch gives him each day. Lunch bunch attracts a diverse group of students — a variety of grades, races and programs are represented in the eight students who sit in a loose circle and concentrate on their guitars. Abdul-Rahim moves from student to student as she eats, leaning in to listen to a student practice a new section of music for a minute, then praising another on a smooth chord progression. While it is Abdul-Rahim’s first year teaching at Blair, she also held lunch bunch where she formerly taught. She says this year’s lunch bunch began early in first quarter, when students began requesting a place to practice and receive homework help. Gradually, students began to show up just for fun as well. And they enjoy the experience enough to keep coming back. “Even if more of my friends had my lunch period, I’d still come here,” says Bigbie. Junior Chandani Hangilipola still spends some of her lunch periods in the SAC with friends, but there are weeks when she says she will come to lunch bunch three or four days a week to sing and catch up. She says she enjoys the casual environment and chance to bond. “Ms. Abdul-Rahim knows how to relate to the students. It’s an easy connection and you’re not intimidated,” she says.

SAM ELKIND

makes his afternoons more engaging. “[Class is] funnier,” he explains. “You feel more attached to what is being said and it’s deeper.” While his friend Kyle, a junior, is quick to share anecdotes of Adam’s revealing in-school behavior after getting high at

lunch — “One time, he came back talking about vampires and bats,” says Kyle — Adam says he doesn’t worry about being caught at school while high. “We have really chill lunches here. People can tell, but no one cares,” he says with a shrug. Instead, he maintains that the biggest risk of smoking during lunch is merely being caught leaving campus.

Puzzle project Four Blair teachers enter the room at the same time, and suddenly, the race is on. It’s mostly silent, and physics teacher Bob Donaldson, math teacher David Stein and IT Systems Specialist Peter Hammond focus intently on the task at hand. Just one minute and 43 seconds later, they’re done with the entire Monday New York Times crossword puzzle. Donaldson, Stein and Hammond are far from professional puzzlers — but they do have a team name. Known as the Blair Puzzle Project, Donaldson, Stein, Hammond and additional members social studies teacher David Swaney and physics teacher James Schafer, meet at the beginning of fifth period lunch in order to complete

Title

Junior Kathryn Klett practices guitar in Abdul-Rahim’s room, where students come during lunch to play music.

LEAH MUSKIN-PIERRET

the daily crossword puzzle. While Stein and Donaldson had been doing crossword puzzles together for years, Stein says the formal project began two and a half years ago, when he needed a large data set to use for the statistics class he teaches. A fan of crossword puzzles since college, he recruited his colleagues and they formed a formal group, working together each day to complete the puzzle as fast as possible. Stein says he can’t fully explain what draws him to the puzzles. “I like putting things in little boxes,” he jokes. The Puzzle Project meets daily, but rarely for long. It’s not uncommon for the members to tackle a Monday puzzle in under two minutes, or a Friday puzzle in under six. And in the digital age, the members can even work apart. To solve the daily puzzle, between two and five members log into a virtual room— no hard copy of the paper required.

LEAH MUSKIN-PIERRET

Physics teacher Bob Donaldson joins other staff members to complete the New York Times crossword puzzle online. The group tracks their times on a blog.


18

FEATURES

April 14, 2011

silverCHIPS

From handcuffs to hallways Former police officer uses experience to advise Blazers wanted for her fourth birthday was a cap gun. Walsh also cast aside gender roles of Conducting blood pattern analyses, chas- the time when she broke into the male-domiing suspects on motorbike, and finding bullet nated police force. At the time, female police trajectories seems more like a day in the life officers were rare; they were not represented of an actor on CSI, not of the security guard on television, and there was a 5 ft. 7 height who patrols Blair’s back halls. But just a few requirement for officers. Walsh, however, years ago Maureen Walsh was document- was not discouraged by these setbacks. She ing homicides and dodging bullets for the pursued a nursing degree and took classes in photography and forensic psychology unWashington, D.C., Police Department. Walsh joined the Blair security team one til the height requirement was lifted. It was also these restrictions on women and half years ago after retirement from that led Walsh to 31 years in the pursue a career Police Departspecifically with ment. Twentythe Washington, six of those years D.C., Police Dewere spent as a partment. “When specialist for the I first joined, forensic science [the Washington, services. Though D.C., Police Debeing a Blair secupartment] was the rity guard seems most progressive like a far cry from police departriding in police ment. It was the cars and taking first department crime scene photo put women on tographs, Walsh’s the street,” says job is much more Walsh. She knew than just monitorshe would not be ing hallways. EVAN HORNE satisfied working Walsh, whose a desk job like experience in the Walsh uses her past to ensure safety at Blair. many women police department left her with a determination to promote police of that time because she always chersafety among young people, helps Blazers ished being active. work through their problems in order to preThe road to the Boulevard serve security at Blair. This determination to promote safety started early on in Walsh’s Walsh most enjoyed the physicality of her life. job, as well as the variety of different situations she faced everyday. “There are no two Pistol pioneer days that are alike. There is always someAs a child Walsh was a self-proclaimed thing that is going to challenge you,” says tomboy whose father always knew she was Walsh. Unfortunately, her job forced her to destined for law enforcement after all she see the worst of people, which is ultimately

By NoahGrace Bauman

why she came to Blair after her retirement. Walsh also wanted to change pace from her 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. job, however, her main aspiration was to help kids. “In my other job my only contact with young people was when they were zipped up in body bags or in handcuffs. So I decided that after I retired I wanted to make a difference with kids. There are a lot of wasted lives,” says Walsh. While still on the force, Walsh would often come to Blair and speak to students in Megan DieckEVAN HORNE man’s forensics class about her job. Walsh could have chosen to work Maureen Walsh helps students, such as freshman at any high school, but after her Ryan Hodge (above), work through their problems. frequent visits, she started developing relationships with the students, her sincerity and niceness.” Hodge says that and fell in love with the Blair community. Walsh helps him with problems he is havWalsh’s commitment to promoting safety ing and helps him look at them in a differdoesn’t just mean physical safety; she is also ent way to give insight. Hodge claims that protective of students’ mental health. Blaz- he feels as if he can trust her with almost ers regard Walsh as easy to talk to, and she anything. even has a group of students that she often Walsh says that she can’t be sure why helps and listens to their problems. “I find Blazers feel so comfortable talking to her, some students focused on their weaknesses but she believes her past experience in the rather than their strengths. I help them fo- police department helps her with student cus on their strengths and even reframe their mediation. “I relate my past experiences in thinking because their weaknesses can actu- the police department by letting students ally be strengths,” says Walsh. know that the decisions they make now may Junior Genises Nuñez remembers the be irreversible,” says Walsh. great influence that Walsh had on one of her Though Walsh had to deal with tragic cirfriends. “She’s easy to talk to if you have a cumstances on a daily basis Walsh loved her problem. One of my friends was pregnant high action and unconventional job that inand she helped her try and talk to her moth- advertently gave her just the right skills for er and grandmother. She was like a mother her to become a high school security guard. figure to her,” says Nuñez. Working for the Police Department gave her Nuñez isn’t the only Blazer who regards a different outlook on the ways to promote Walsh as a mother figure, freshman Ryan safety and security at Blair. Blazers can feel Hodge has been spending lunches with safe knowing that this petite woman helps Walsh since October and says that, “I would so many students is comfortable racing a describe her as a family member because of motorbike down stairs.


silverCHIPS

April 14, 2011

FEATURES 19

Witnessing devastation at home, Japanese Blazers remain strong

As natural disasters take their toll, Blazers sustain hope and lend support to victims to family members was more difficult and took several attempts. “The phones kept They watched it happen nearly 7,000 ringing, but there was no answer,” she says. miles away. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake, The day was difficult for Zoll’s and Yokoyaaccompanied ma’s friends by hundreds and family, even of aftershocks, though they brought entire lived far from buildings to the the epicenter of ground, flooded the earthquake the land with at Honshu, Jaseveral tons of pan. Yokoyama seawater and lives near Toexpunged thick, kyo, which is dark smoke into about 200 miles the air. They from Honshu. saw an earthHe describes EVAN HORNE quake, tsunami how a friend in At left, foreign exchange student and nuclear Tokyo needed plant explosions junior Shotaro Yokoyama hopes to help to stay at school taking place in earthquake survivors upon his return to until nighttime Japan and final- Japan. At right, Japanese teacher Yoko as trains and ly absorbed the Zoll is raising funds with her students. buses had been heartbreaking stopped to conreality: This was happening to their home. serve energy. Zoll says her friends in ToOn March 11, an earthquake in north- kyo left work at 3 p.m. on that day and eastern Japan triggered a tsunami and four only arrived home the following mornnuclear reactor explosions, leaving thou- ing, forced to walk since all public transsands of people homeless and without basic portation was stopped. necessities. After watching the destruction Thankful that her family was safe, Zoll of their homeland, Japanese students and reads Japanese newspapers and watches teachers at Blair express hope in Japan’s Japanese television, and she finds it hard recovery and many are actively taking ac- to watch her homeland suffering. Japanese tion and contributing to relief efforts to help teacher Kenneth Seat, who remembers expetheir struggling country. riencing many earthquakes when he lived in Japan, says it is especially difficult to grapConnecting home ple with the magnitude of the crisis. “I am glued to TV and Internet and always wonJuniors Shotaro Yokoyama and Takashi dering what the latest news is,” he says. “It Oryu, foreign exchange students from Japan, took a couple days to sink in.” experienced earthquakes at least once every few months in Japan but did not expect this In a danger zone particular earthquake to be so devastating . Despite the magnitude of the disaster, both Senior Wenting Ma, who lived in Osaka, were able to contact their families through e- Japan for nine years, remembers participatmail to make sure they were safe. However, ing in earthquake drills, where students and for Japanese teacher Yoko Zoll, connecting staff at her school would cover their heads

By Srividya Murthy

and duck under tables to stay clear of falling objects. She admires Japan’s resistant engineering and effective earthquake warning systems but was shocked by the tsunami and reactor explosions. “I wasn’t surprised by the earthquake,” she says. “Infrastructure-wise and mindset-wise, Japan is trained so well.” Seat is also optimistic about Japan’s ability to recover from the crisis and the reliability of the government in helping the people. He also says that the strong teamwork between Japanese people reduces problems of competition for resources. “I have faith in Japan that they’re able to rebuild,” says Seat. “They are really resilient and people work together and help each other.” Nonetheless, Ma is concerned about the emotional

toll that the disasters will have on the Japanese people. Having moved to Osaka a few years after the MAGGIE SHI Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995, she remembers how survivors still lived with the memory of the destruction it brought them. “Japanese care about their tradition in history. Any natural or human cause that causes pain never goes away; it is going to pass down,” she says. “We’re still

talking about the earthquake in Osaka. We still see survivors talk about losing family and friends.”

Pitching in

In spite of the lasting devastation that a tragedy like this can leave, Japanese students and teachers at Blair are trying to offset the damage by reaching out through Blair to help their country. Zoll has made fundraising for the relief effort a class goal. Zoll shows live television from Japan that broadcasts updates on the crisis from Japan to her Japanese students. Her students also make donation boxes in class that have a small red circle in the center, symbolizing the flag of Japan. She plans to collect enough money to send school supplies to Japan, as well as immediate needs like food and water. Ma is taking an active role in fundraising efforts as president of the photojournalism club. With the club, she makes origami roses and sells them at school to raise money. “I wanted it to relate to their culture,” she says. She wants to help children specifically and send money especially to those who might be out of reach of mainstream humanitarian efforts. For Japanese students and teachers at Blair, the tragedy is devastating: The earthquake, tsunami and reactors may have done their damage faraway, but they still feel its pain. Even though the damage is distant, they hope that through their efforts, they can help bring Japan one step closer to recovery.


20 FEATURES At first, senior Erick Ticas would write in simple paragraphs. But soon the words flowing from the tip of his pen organized themselves into rhythmic verses. Now, he says, the process begins before he even puts pen to paper — all of his thoughts are in rhyme form. Ticas is a rapper. But to anyone reading his rhyme book, a journal where he writes his raps, he might look like a poet. According to Derrick Brown, poet-in-residence at Busboys and Poets, a spoken word artist is any poet who takes his or her work to a stage. And these forms of poetry, he says, share many literary devices with rap

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music — alliteration, assonance, metaphor, end rhyme and double entendres among them. And, Brown says, the Washington, D.C., area has abundant slams, open mics and poetry venues that fit a wide range of spoken word styles. At Blair, spoken word art is a way for students to add rhythm to their most important thoughts and to allow these thoughts to make an impact on others.

Opening lines

Two years ago, while listening to Nas and Lupe Fiasco, Ticas knew: He wanted to be a rapper. After watching a longtime local rapper perform at a show in Silver Spring, he asked the performer how to get started on achieving his dream. The performer told Ticas to buy a rhyme book where he could practice writing raps. So he bought a composition notebook and started writing. Ticas’s process has several steps: First he writes down a song, then uses a friend’s recording equipment to record it and download it to his iPod. Then he listens to the song on his iPod while looking through the lyrics and starts to memorize. Ticas is grateful for the advice he got from the performer he met. “He said if you want it, go out and get it, chase it. And that’s exactly what I ART BY DOYUNG LEE PHOTO BY EVAN HORNE

did,” Ticas says. Sophomore Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg defines spoken word as any type of speech with an element of rhythm, and got her start with the medium at City at Peace, a local youth development program with a focus on creating cross-cultural relationships. RubensteinEdberg has performed at open mics in the past, but her current project is a scene in City at Peace’s self-written show where the lines are spoken in rhythmic poetry rather than regular speech. This method of writing is one that Rubenstein-Edberg isn’t used to, especially since City at Peace does not focus on creating a very specific script for its shows. The scene she is working on, she says, is a group therapy session full of teenagers talking about their problems, some speaking out without hesitating and others getting more defensive about their issues. This scenario, which is meant to parallel one of City at Peace’s brainstorming sessions, lends itself to poetry because of all the back-and-forth action, Rubenstein-Edberg says. Writing in rhyme has been a learning experience for Rubenstein-Edberg, especially each line must fit perfectly with the one before it. “Each line should be getting to the point, should be hitting your heart,” she says. “We will

think about one word for 15 minutes, then change it.”

venues like small clubs, open mics and even rap contests. Connecting with the audience, he says, is Speaking out gratifying. “It feels like it’s my element,” he says. When Ticas writes his daily Rubenstein-Edberg says that rhymes, his topics of choice range her experience at a Blair open mic from feelings like hate and love made her appreciate the value of to his hometown of Brooklyn to having other people hear her work. She performed a poem about feeling frustrated at friends and peers who sometimes make offensive remarks, but call her oversensitive or mean for pointing them out. Although the experience was nerve-wracking, she says she loved being able to express her irritation to a supportive audience. “It felt good,” she says. Now, Rubenstein-Edberg says she writes poetry on her own a few times a month, and plans to participate in more open mics in the future. Ticas has already established his skills in writing and performance, he says. “I’m structured, I’m polished, I’ve done so much for my craft,” he says. Now, he plans to continue on his journey to becoming a famous rapper, inspired by Big Punisher, the first Latino artist to go double platinum. All hip-hop artists strive to creART BY DOYUNG LEE PHOTO BY TOLU OMOKEHINDE ate a unique individual style, heavier issues like death and drugs Ticas says, and he believes that his — but always with the goal of up- own rhymes are different than any lifting his audiences and inspiring other rapper’s. hope in them. And, he says, he has And as they continue to write always been drawn to perform- and perform their work, Ticas and ing, where he can share the intense Rubenstein-Edberg will remain thought he puts into his rhymes. part of the flow of words and ideas Ticas has performed all around spoken by poets, rappers and artthe Maryland and D.C. area at ists all over the area.

Teachers shed pounds together and gain friends By Eliza Wapner For the past eight weeks, every Friday, 44 teachers nervously filed into the nurse’s office all day. Each one slowly steps onto a scale, hoping that the number is lower than it was the previous week. The Biggest Loser competition has come to Blair. NBC’s reality television show “The Biggest Loser” claims to have changed lives in over 28 countries ranging from Slovakia to Portugal by helping people loss excess weight. Blair’s “Biggest Loser Spring Break Waist Race” competition stemmed from a simple weight-loss idea that science teacher Bill Currence had with his wife. Since then, the competition has snowballed to involve 44 teachers from different departments. According to Currence, some teachers have lost significant amounts of weight, and in doing so, most participants have gained a new sense of community.

In the beginning After the birth of his baby in December, Currence and his wife had stopped maintaining a healthy diet. Currence’s wife came up with the idea for the Biggest Loser competition. She hoped that she could participate from home, and Currence brought the idea to Blair. Like in the television show, the winning teacher receives a prize. Upon entering, each of the 44 teachers had to put in $20 to the community pot, which totaled $880. The winner receives $440 and sends the other $440 to a favorite charity. To win, the teacher must lose the greatest percentage of weight in nine weeks. Currence takes each week’s weight-loss data and maps it on a website that he has set up through Blair. He also sends out tips of the

day, has built a recipe section on the website so people can share their own tips, and uploads links to helpful websites to allow participants to track their weight loss. Currence’s Biggest Loser competition appealed specifically to reading teacher Edmund Ryan. Ryan states that he needed to lose weight and the competition turned out to be very timely. He finds that the peer pressure helps him stay on track. “It’s the single most important thing because we are all accountable to one another,” he says. “The constant support is really helpful.” Ryan, who is currently placed second, has some prior knowledge. He used to be a gym teacher at Eastern Middle School and has spent years working in the fitness industry. But he attributes his success to cutting his portion sizes at all meals.

Group think According to math teacher Misirach Seyoum, who is currently ranked third, Currence’s website and other quirky aspects of the competition have brought a new sense of togetherness between teachers who normally wouldn’t have talked to each other. One aspect of Currence’s website is a “Who’s Who” section that lists the name of all the teachers that are participating, their charities of choice and their pictures. Seyoum says that this part of the website allows different teachers to see who they are competing against and connects them; it allows them to put a name to a face. “We have over one hundred teachers in this school. We don’t see each other except for once a month,” Seyoum explains. “You see them on the website and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s so and so.’“ Departments as a whole have begun to eat healthier. According to science teacher

Chris Brown, junk food has completely vanished from the science office. “There used to be a huge plastic pumpkin full with chocolate,” says Brown. “Now we don’t [have junk food] and we are all eating better.” Seyoum says that teachers in the math department have always supported each other. “We congratulate each other when we lose weight, and talk about what we are doing and not doing. It’s just nice,” she explains.

Weight watchers While everyone has been supportive of each other, there is still a sense of friendly competition, according to Seyoum. She explains that there is a bit of trash-talking in the hallways and in response to Currence’s e-mails. Ryan jokes that he is going to eliminate the competition by placing tempting foods in teachers’ mailboxes. The competition ends at the start of spring break, and with one day and weigh-in left, things are really starting to get competitive. The few top contenders each predict that they will win the competition. “I’m kicking so much butt,” says Brown. Currence has already surpassed his goal of a 5.06 percent change in weight, and Brown has also vaulted past his original target. Although they have seen great

LARISA ANTONISSE AND EVAN HORNE

changes, Currence say that the competition is not about weight loss, but about a larger transformation. “The biggest goal for me is about a permanent lifestyle change,” says Currence. “It’s not about depriving yourself, it’s not about not getting any sleep, it’s not about starving yourself for nine weeks, it’s about eating healthy.” The majority of teachers are planning to continue the diet into summer by having a weigh-in at the end of school and at the end of the summer. Currence and other teachers already have plans to continue the competition next year, maybe with students. Tomorrow is the last weigh-in for the competition. Ryan, Currence, Seyoum and Brown make up four of the top 10 contestants. However, one of the original 44 contenders will go home with an extra $440. Although only one will receive a tangible prize, all participants will have seen a less material prize of a healthier life and stronger friendships.


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By Jenny Sholar Ah, spring. With the birds singing, the breezes blowing and May flowers arriving, it’s easy to remember why to love the outdoors. And with Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 29) right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to try some fun activities that help you enjoy — and even protect — the environment.

SOLAR SNACKS Proponents of alternative energy praise solar panels as a way to heat homes and power cars. But on a smaller — and much cheaper — scale, you can harness the energy of the sun to perform important tasks. Namely, making lunch. Though enthusiastic solar foodies have developed recipes for dishes as complex as banana bread, fish fillets and chili, this intrepid reporter decided to

keep it simple: grilled cheese and s’mores. After 45 minutes of cooking, the chocolate had completely melted into syrup, but the marshmallows were barely warm, with not even a hint of golden-brown deliciousness. One taster rated the dessert as “sub-par.” In short, if you’re craving s’mores, stick with real fire. Things were looking and tasting much better on the grilled cheese side of the oven. Though the bread was only just crispy,

the cheese had melted. The sandwich held together and, while nowhere near “hot,” it could reasonably be described as “warm.” In the end, if you’re shooting for culinary masterpieces, don’t use a solar oven. But if you want to get creative and save some electricity, then making a pizza box solar oven is a fun way to spend a warm afternoon.

Next, cut this rectangle on three sides, leaving the side close to the box’s hinge uncut. This will be the reflector. Line this flap with aluminum foil, this time with the shiny side facing out.

Use string to tie the flap at an angle that reflects light onto the food. Place it in the oven, attach plastic wrap over the hole left by the flap and use tape to seal the air in.

PHOTOS BY LORENA KOWALEWSKI

To make a solar oven, line the inside of an old pizza box with aluminum foil. Close the top of the box and draw a rectangle spaced about an inch away from the edges.

LOW CASH, LOW CARBON

THE WHEEL DEAL

We have an impact on the environment with every choice we make, including what we choose to buy. But shopping doesn’t have to be disastrous for the planet: Many companies are committed to going green. The Mexican food chain Chipotle, for instance, is committed to buying local, sustainably grown food. About 40 percent of their beans are organic, and about 50 percent of some produce items are purchased locally. And buying green isn’t just limited to groceries. Whether you’re looking for clothes, books, music or movies, buying secondhand will cut down on your resource consumption. Manufacturing new goods involves using more resources, so buying goods that have already been manufactured reduces the strain on the environment. NICK GROSSMAN Thrift stores like Value Village and Unique have Value Village, a local thrift store chain, wide selections of used and offers affordable used items. vintage clothes. Websites like Craigslist and eBay can link you to whatever product you’re looking for — and typically, at a fraction of the price of a store-bought item. A similar site is Freecycle, where users offer unwanted items to others in their area — for free.

Movies Water for Elephants (PG-13) – Based on the novel by Sara Gruen, “Water for Elephants” stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson as two characters who find love despite their surroundings. The movie follows Jacob Jankowski’s (Pattinson’s) story as he drops out of vet school and joins a second-rate circus during the Great Depression. He finds love with co-star Marlena (Witherspoon). The movie has a nostalgic sense about it, with a certain ‘30s charm woven in. (April 22) Fast Five (PG-13) – With celebrity stars like Vin Diesel, Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson and Ludacris, “Fast Five” is sure to be an actionpacked film. In the fast and furious flick, Diesel and Walker team up again for their most adventurous joyride yet. Former police officer

We all know the story: Cars use oil, oil is a fossil fuel, burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and worsens global warming. Yet on dark, cold winter days, it’s difficult to imagine traveling anywhere in a vehicle that does not include a heater. But luckily for the environmentally conscious, with spring comes perfect biking weather. Biking to school, work or anywhere else is a healthy, enjoyANDREW KIRWAN able way to cut down on fuel Biking along the Sligo Creek Trail is consumption. The perfect opa scenic way to go green. portunity to try it out comes on May 20 — it’s Bike to Work Day. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, which is sponsoring the event, has planned several pit stops throughout the D.C. Metropolitan area where cyclists can swing by, refuel and even win prizes. If breaking a sweat before first period isn’t your thing, there are plenty of places in the area to ride your bike on afternoons or weekends. If you want to explore the District, Washington, D.C., has over 48 miles of bike lanes and an easy-to-use bike-sharing program. Called Capital Bikeshare, the program allows cyclists to pick up a bike, pay by the hour and return it at any location in the city. For a more outdoorsy setting, Rock Creek Park is popular among cyclists, particularly on weekends, when it is closed to motor vehicles. Sligo Creek Trail is also easily biked, and it links through other paths to places like the University of Maryland, the National Arboretum and even Nationals Stadium.

BEYOND the Boulevard Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) teams up with Diesel in pursuit of Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) who broke Diesel out of jail. After assembling a misfit team of the best racers in Brazil, Brewster and company prepare to face the corrupt business executives who are after them. There’s no doubt that this movie is sure to get your heart racing. (April 29)

DVDs The King’s Speech (PG-13) – The historical film follows the story of England’s new king, George VI (Colin Firth) as he struggles to overcome his speech impediment. Firth, who has stammered since a young age is dreading his upcoming political engagement which requires him to make a speech. Over the years, Firth has tried many therapies to help him with his fear of public speaking but none

have been able to succeed. His life changes the day he meets Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Viewers find out if Rush’s coaching will pay off when Firth has to deliver the most important speech of his life. (April 19)

Waltz), a criminal mastermind that had it out for Britt’s father. (May 3)

The Green Hornet (PG-13) – L.A.’s infamous party boy Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) has everything. His father James (Tom Wikinson) is the city’s most powerful media magnate. When Britt’s father suddenly passes away, he’s expected to step up and assume control of the family business. With no clue about how to run a media empire, Britt makes friends with his father’s right-hand-man, Kato (Jay Chou). One night, when Britt and Kato decide to go out and wreak havoc on the city but actually end up busting a robbery. The two turn into a crime-fighting duo and are faced with their greatest challenge when they have to go up against Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph

Thirty Seconds to Mars at the Patriot Center, Wednesday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m.; tickets $39.50

Concerts

Wiz Khalifa at Pier Six Pavilion, Thursday, April 28 at 8:00 p.m.; tickets $30

Of Montreal at the 9:30 Club, Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m.; tickets $25

Adele at the 9:30 Club, Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m.; tickets $20

Beyond the Boulevard compiled by Simrin Gupta


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Time is running out to prepare for the single most important night of your life

By Natalie Rutsch Humor May 14 marks the pinnacle of any normal Blazer’s high school career. A night more important than any graduation, job promotion or birth of a first-born child ever could be. That’s right — prom. If my triple bookmarked YouTube trailer for Disney’s upcoming “Prom” has taught me anything, it’s that prom is much more than a sweaty dance in expensive clothes. It’s your last hurrah, the sole determinant of whether your high school experience was ordinary or exceptional. Prom, no exaggeration, decides who you truly are. The “Prom” trailer, an indisputably lifelike reflection of the typical high school prom, interweaves inspirational shots of prom ask outs, romantic moments and token diverse couples. With its undeniable commitment to depicting a realistic prom, the cutting-edge film is a good standard by which to judge your own prom experience. “Prom” is not the first teen movie that riddles the senior dance with squeal-inducing romance and self-discovery galore. There is a huge canon of realistic and emulable high school movies and shows from the 1980s, 90s and today, all of which prove that prom is a night of life-changing moments. In the John Hughes classic “Pretty in Pink”, Molly Ringwald scores her dream boy at prom. More recent movie

“Mean Girls” reaches its heartfelt climax at the high school’s Spring Fling. Even in horror movies like “Carrie” and “Prom Night”, prom

night of your dreams, stress and a large price-tag are unavoidable. Molly Ringwald may have been able to achieve a perfect prom night with a home-sewn dress, but we can’t all be so lucky. So crack open your piggy banks and prepare to shell out for priceless memories. Splurge on fancy new clothes and professional make overs. There’s only a matter of time before your elegant outfits, elaborate hairdos and made-up faces are sweaty and disheveled, so make sure to look perfect while you can. If you really think the cheap boutonnière you choose or that cop-out decision to ride to prom in your friend’s van won’t affect you for many years to come, think again. At prom, no expense should be spared to achieve absolute perfection. So what if according to USA Today proms can total up to several thousand dollars per couple? It’s sad to think that some people are unwilling to spend years of savings to achieve the perfect end to a high school career. Even without prom debts to remind you, you’ll remember the night for years. Look at class of 2010’s prom king, Xander Baldwin, currently a freshman at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Although he may not have launched the gruel-

It’s not about the dance. It’s about who you are and who you’re going to be. movie “Prom” (2011) is significant, if for all the wrong reasons. I’d like to say it’s possible to have fun at prom if you don’t, say, confess true love or redefine your image like in the movies. It’d be great if getting dressed up, drinking punch and doing the Cha Cha Slide was enough to make prom special. But honestly, having seen the high school movies I have, I know that prom can’t be that simple and stress-free. It’s simply not in the nature of the dance. After all, as the poignant “Prom” trailer says, “It’s not about the dance. It’s about who you are and who you’re going to be.” If you want to achieve the prom

ing campaign one might expect to win such a prestigious honor as prom king (“I had no campaign whatsoever,” says Baldwin), his win was nonetheless life-changing. On his immense victory, Baldwin comments, “I still feel like a normal student, actually.” But after a reminder of the weight of such an honor, he continues, “It has definitely affected me. I can come to college and display my banner proudly.” Whether you expect to be prom king, fall in love or experience another life-changing moment, prom is a magical night. It’s a night to make or break your entire four years of high school. Grades, honors and coursework are easily forgotten, but prom creates memories to last a lifetime. Wallets empty, fancy clothes wrinkled, stress unending, anything can happen.

SAM JACOBSON

Exercising entertainment options near D.C. Metro stations By Larisa Antonisse This year is the 35th anniversary of the Washington, D.C. Metro’s first line. As teenagers with limited or no access to cars, the Metro is our go-to method of transportation for reaching the fun that D.C. has to offer right in our backyard. In celebration of this privilege, check out some of these Metro-accessible activities that are sure to keep you occupied this spring.

Comet Ping Pong Restaurant Metro Stop: Tenleytown-AU Looking for a place for a quirky date, birthday party or family night out? Try Comet Ping Pong on Connecticut Ave. in Washington, D.C. The kitchen serves a wide variety of delicious thin-crust pizzas. But unlike in regular restaurants where customers feel glued to their seats, patrons at Comet can escape their tables to the back rec room and engage in an entertaining match or two of ping pong. And as if all this activity isn’t enough, the restaurant offers a variety of musical acts performed by local D.C. artists and musicians. After this action-packed night is over, you won’t be able to settle for a normal restaurant again.

Results Gym Rock Climbing Metro Stop: Farragut North We all strive for toned bodies, but lifting weights or doing push-ups over and over can get monotonous. If you are having trouble finding the motivation to workout, consider trying a form of exercise that will have you reaching new heights — rock climbing. Results Gym on G Street in Washington, D.C., offers over 1,200 square feet of rock climbing space, with some climbing walls almost 40 feet high. Beginning climbers are required to take a one-hour safety class for $20, but after that all sessions are free. You and your friends are sure to have a great time testing your abilities in an experience that will leave you sore yet satisfied at the end of the day.

Memorial Day Parade and Concert Metro Stop: Union Station (Concert), Federal Triangle (Parade) This year, jump-start the summer with a fun-filled Memorial Day weekend spent in the nation’s capital city. On Sunday, May 29 at 8 p.m., PBS will host a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol including performances by the National Symphony Orchestra, Kris Allen and Joe Mantegna. Then on Monday, May 30 at 2 p.m., the World War II Veterans Committee will organize a parade to remember those who have died to protect the country. Perch anywhere on Constitution Ave between 7th Street and 17th Street to watch. COURTESY OF AIA.ORG

NATHAN GAMSON

DC Yoga Week Metro Stop: Smithsonian With all the stress of AP and HSA test season, Blazers could use a chance to relax before the close of the school year. The sixth annual DC Yoga Week, which will take place from May 15 through 22 this spring, is the perfect opportunity to learn to calm your mind and body while getting a great workout at the same time. The week will kick off with Yoga on the Mall on May 15 between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Outdoors next to the Washington Monument, the collective outdoor yoga practice is taught by professional instructors and open to people of all ages and skill levels for free. During the rest of the week, participating yoga studios throughout D.C. will offer free and $5 yoga classes to D.C. area residents. See www.dccy.org for more information.

STELLA BARTHOLET


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Blair Pair Though springtime may be the season of love, high school romances don’t always blossom as quickly as crocuses or as beautifully as tulips. But Silver Chips has a solution for your withering love life: Blair Pair, where we set up prospective soulmates on dates.

Will texting under the table imperil two ‘nice’ Nicaraguans? April 1, 2011

did you get into doing this thing?” ... I found out he really liked photography and soccer — that was really interesting. LUIS: We talked about what we did over the summer, what we wanted to aspire to become, where we’re from, [because] we’re both

conversation or anything, but still. LUIS: Her best quality is that she’s 7:00 P.M., VICINO RISTORANTE really nice and … nice. She’s nice. ITALIANO, SILVER SPRING CARYN: My favorite part of the date itself was finding out that CARYN: The first thing I noticed we’re both Nicaraguan and we was, “Hey look, he’s over there in look Indian; it was really interestthe corner!” Because we were both ing that we had that in common. late and I was wonderOtherwise, ing where he might the setting: be, and I was like, “Oh The food good, I found him; was really this isn’t just like some good. April Fool’s joke!” I LUIS: My also noticed that I’d favorite part never seen him around was just talkBlair before — later ing about our we figured out that it background, was because he’s only [which] was gone to this school for pretty intwo years. teresting. I LUIS: I walked in and I remember had come late, and the how we were guy at the restaurant just talking said she left. I thought about the it was because I was people at the late, but then she came restaurant back, so we sat down [because] COURTESY OF CARYN CHAVARRIA AND LUIS MORALES and ordered our food they were and got to know each Senior Luis Morales and junior Caryn Chavarria connect interesting; other. they did a lot over their shared Nicaraguan heritage during dinner. CARYN: We couldn’t of random find each other [because] we were from Nicaragua, so that was cool. stuff. She told me about how she both late. The people at the res- CARYN: His best quality is that travels a lot over the summer, to taurant kept telling me to go to the he usually listened to me, even California and Seattle and other wrong place; when I actually found though I felt like I was blabbing. places. him I was like, “Okay, let’s just sit But through most of the date I no- CARYN: We noticed people down.” We just started having a ticed he was texting under the ta- around us in the restaurant and casual conversation about, “How ble. It was never during a serious we thought up funny scenarios

for what they were saying and stuff. If I could change something, I would have stopped talking too much, but I really didn’t want any awkward silences. LUIS: The only thing I would change is that I would have liked to have [had] communication beforehand, but really, I just found her really nice. Kind of quiet, but her life seems really interesting. But there’s nothing wrong with her. CARYN: On a scale of one to 10, I would give the date a 7.5-ish. It was pretty fun for the most part; I mean, the food was good and we had some decent conversation going on at one point. But it was more of a fun one-time thing than a flirty date. LUIS: On a scale of one to 10, I

CLAIRE SLEIGH

would give the date an eight. She was nice and the conversation flowed, plus the food was really good. I would probably ask her out again, but I haven’t spoken to her since then, so I would wait until she made some sort of move. Interviews by Helen Bowers


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By Simrin Gupta

April 14, 2011

The independent frozen-yogurt chain, which already has five locations in the WashD.C.’s cupcake craze has just met its ington, D.C., area, serves delicious frozen match. The baked goods are facing some yogurt at reasonable prices and lets customserious competition this spring from frozen ers assemble their own creations. Perfect yogurt, or “fro-yo,” chains. for picky eaters or those who enjoy edible As summer approaches, fro-yo might experiments, FroZenYo is sure to mix things become Blazers’ most desired treat. With up in the Downtown dining scene. that in mind, Downtown Silver Spring’s The relatively recent chain was estabnew fro-yo spot, FroZenYo, has arrived at lished in February of last year. In the Metro just the right time. FroZenYo representa- Center location, pod-like tables and throw tive Emmanuel Gonzales says he expects the pillows are scattered about the room with Downtown Silver Spring location to be up thin, long tables down the middle of the store, flanked by six to eight frozen yogurt dispensaries. To the very rear is the topping section — a little alcove filled with every topping imaginable. Possibly the best thing about FroZenYo is its self-serve format. Customers can fill their cup with whatever flavors strike their fancy. There is one size 16 ounce container and the price is determined by weight. A standard, fully filled container runs PHOTOS COURTESY OF SIMRIN GUPTA around $5 — FroZenYo encourages customers to get creative with their great for Blazers toppings. The chain offers 40 different topping choices. with a budget. Aside from its and running by the end of the month. The reasonable price, the most fun thing about frozen yogurt shop will be replacing CakeL- FroZenYo is the creative license customers ove in the space next to Lebanese Taverna on have. Customers can fill their cup with exEllsworth Drive. otic flavors like red velvet, snickerdoodle or

ENTERTAINMENT 25

root beer float. encouraged to go crazy at the topping bar, FroZenYo also offers a range of fruit which has everything from fresh fruit to flavors like grapefruit-pomegranate, straw- Captain Crunch cereal to gummy bears. berry-banana and kiwi-strawberry. FroZenYo’s newest flavor, PeachMango Tart, is definitely worth trying. It’s heavy on the peach, with the mango seeming more like an afterthought, but it still has the tanginess to cut through a sweltering summer day. Even considering FroZenYo’s eclectic array, one of the best flavors is an old standard — regular tart yogurt. It strikes a delicate balance between sweet and sour, and its fresh, pure and crisp flavor energizes the senses. Customers can also choose from many different At the Metro Center FroZenYo location, customers can non-fat options. enjoy their frozen treats in the spacious seating area. There are 98 percent fat free, sugarless non-fat, non-fat tart And as an added bonus, free hot fudge! or even completely lactose free non-fat opSince FroZenYo likes to keep things intions. As society becomes increasingly teresting, each location is a new experience. health-conscious, more and more peoDifferent places have different flavors and ple are turning to fro-yo as an alternative to toppings that are continuously changing. ice cream. With an abundance of heathy op- FroZenYo has not yet selected flavors for the tions, it’s looking like fattening, high-calorie Silver Spring location, but for Blazers anticitreats may be getting their just desserts. pating the opening, pondering the surprise Regardless of the calorie content, any is half the fun. Even if you aren’t looking to flavor makes the perfect canvas for the va- subscribe to the new fro-yo trend, you might riety of toppings available. Customers are change your mind after a visit to FroZenYo.


26 ADS

April 14, 2011

silverCHIPS


silverCHIPS

CHIPS CLIPS

April 14, 2011

Seeing Double

ACROSS:

1. Propose 4. Loans, debt and budget all fall under this field 8. Kanga_______ 10. Either/_____ 11. Giving out, assigning 14. Sound often uttered by back-up singers 15. Short burst of laughter 17. Kansas, for short 18. Darkening one’s skin from the sun or artificially 22. To ______ on the side of caution 23. Sleeveless garment often used for scrimmages 25. Muscle of the stomach 27. Little breadth or width 28. Breakfast food that comes from a hen 30. Illinois, for short 31. Sports organization in the midst of contract disputes 33. Single by the rapper Nelly 34. Audience member, someone who observes 38. Unitarian Universalism, for short 39. Office of Oil and Gas, for short 40. Edible substance 41. A small river in Belgium

by Helen Bowers

and Germany 43. Box to which mail can be sent instead of to a street address 44. The _____ most layer is the one closest to the center 45. Medicine _______ springtime allergies 48. Americans don’t have a reputation for being this 49. Famous general of the Civil War 50. Monty Python’s knights of ___ 51. Standard Signal, for short 52. Golf ball is hit off of a _____ 54. Electrical Engineering, for short 55. Richest but most hated team in baseball 56. Golly ______!

DOWN:

1. Sugary 2. Smiling with open mouth 3. Part of gun that, when pushed, releases bullet 4. Description of weather conditions in which it’s hard to see 5. Refusal 6. Chef 7. Greek god of love 9. Office of National Intelligence, for short 12. Twirling

27

13. Rats, mice; derogatory term 16. French “the” 19. College-level courses offered at Blair 20. The initials of a Virginia beach city 21. Male given name of Gaelic origin, thought to mean “champion” 24. Thick woolen fabric used for clothing; suits can be made of this material 25. Refer to 26. What an orange and a banana share 29. This Bill allowed soldiers to go to college 32. Humorous, not the bone! 34. Expelling something gooey 35. “A Tale __ Two Cities” 36. Utterance made when one has committed a mistake 37. Crazy person 41. There are nine of these in a baseball game 42. Remove writing or drawing 44. Cozy, private hotel 45. One of the Seven Deadly Sins 46. Viewed 47. Dutch for sled 51. Wait and ______ 53. “______ tu, brute”: Last words of Julius Caesar

Silver Chips Caption Contest

“Dia de los Muertos after global warming.” -Junior Chris Rodgers

Spring... break?

For Japan

Submit caption ideas for the image above to the folder labeled “Caption Contest” on the door of room 165, or to silver.chips.caption.contest@gmail.com. The winner will be drawn into the image for the new cycle’s contest.

S U D O K U COURTESY OF WWW.WEBSUDOKU.COM

by Nathan Gamson

by Doyung Lee


28 ‘Acta del ensueño de MD’- sigue vivo LA ESQUINA LATINA

14 de abril de 2011

El destino de muchos estudiantes soñadores están en juego Por Kelly Ventura y Alan Marroquín

estudiantes deberán asistir por un periodo de dos años a un community college (universidad del condado), para luego poder asistir a una universidad de cuatro años. No será fácil pero como sucede con muchas leyes siempre habrá debates de por medio y especialmete se darán problemas tratándose de un asunto inmigratorio, por el cual hay mucha controversia. Muchas organizaciones activistas en favor

silverCHIPS !Exprésate! Por Janett Encinas

Así es la vida

tado de Maryland. Si la ley SB 167, llegara a pasar le dará la En la vida hay que aprender a llorar y El sueño americano de muchos estudioportunidad de ir a la universidad sin tener soñar. Porque no importa donde estés la antes jóvenes, se vieron truncados el año pasque presentar un seguro social. envidia siempre te llegará. Cuando menos ado cuando el Acta de ensueño falló a nivel Estudiantes como Saul, se ven en todo el te lo esperes ganarás y perderás. Aprennacional. Recientemente se ha introducido estado. Es muy importante que los jóvenes derás a perdonar y serás perdonado. Te una nueva oportunidad de que el Acta de no se decepcionen porque estos procesos son cruzarás con hipócritas y demócratas, que ensueño pueda ser aprobada a nivel estatal. muy lentos. En el estado de Maryland se ha propuesto la te criticarán y gritarán. Cometerás muchos Muchos de estos estudiantes pueden hasta matricula estatal en el senado, la cual benperder la esperanza de poder realizar sus suepecados pero también conocerás a muchos eficiaría a todos ños de poder asistir a una tarados. Reirás y triunfarás pero tu codilos estudiantes de universidad en los Estados cia jamás se acabará. A la vida pintarás el estado de MaryUnidos. de colores de cristal. Dónde viven los land que no tienen El senador estatal rericachones y pobretones la tempestad un seguro social y publicano Allan H. Kittleigual llegará. En esta vida aprenderás lo les permitiría asisman comentó que dicha que es amar, pero también lo que es odiar. tir a la universidad. ley “envía un mensaje terMuchas personas conocerás pero pocas te A los que ya están rible”, a los jóvenes ya que respetarán. La música escucharás desde en instsitutos unipuede ser malinterpretada versitarios podrán la salsa al reggaetón que llegarán hasta porque es como si dijeran llegar a una de las “que es bueno quebrantar tu corazón. La ley del hombre seguirás univesidades del la ley. Estos jóvenes crey la palabra de Dios predicarás. Muchas estado Maryland. erán que pueden “obtener guerras verás, de las cuales te arrepentirás. Esta propuesta un beneficio”. Aunque seas granjero o psicólogo el ser fue aprobada el 14 Aunque por el otro humano siempre será igual. Te tropezarás de marzo de este lado el senador estatal en las piedras al andar, pero con calma te año en el senado de Víctor Ramírez tiene una levantarás. Con alegría y sin temor a tus Annapolis. Gracias diferente opinión lo cual enemigos enfrentarás. La tecnología de tu al gran comprocomenta “ Lo que se enfuturo aprenderás y la escritura de tus anmiso con la comucuentra en debate es denidad que tiene el tepasados respetarás. De la misma manera terminar qué hacer con el senador estatal Víctalento y la inteligencia de muchas lenguas aprenderás. Nacerás con tor Ramírez el cual los hijos de inmigrantes inalegría y morirás con agonía. La vida es logró convencer a documentados que ya vimuy compleja donde muchas experiensus colegas luego ven en el estado. Estos nicias vivirás pero ya entenderás porque, la de un extenso deños no tomaron la desición vida es asi. bate donde se estade venir a este estado. Sus blecieron las cosas padres solo los trajeron sin CORTESIA DE UNIVERSIDAD DE MARYLAND que favorecerían preguntar a muchos estudi- Alan Marroquín, duodecimo grado, attiende una reunion en Annapolis, nada”. antes del estado de Maryland; la senadora Jennie M. Forehand habló acerca del acta. El dia 7 Maryland. de abril se La votación concluyó con 27 votos a favor de inmigrantes han estado apoyando dicha llevó a cabo la última votación y 20 en contra. Esta ley beneficiará a todos propuesta, una de ellas es la Casa de Mary- sobre la propuesta SB 167, y filos jóvenes que ingresaron al país sin ningún land. Esta organización ha estado apoyando nalmente pasó por la cámara de documento legal. Con esta oportunidad los a los jóvenes durante todo este largo proceso. representantes y la casa del senajóvenes podrían obtener una educación uni- “ Hace cuatro años que se inició este proceso do, convirtiéndose de un sueño y ahora ya estamos casi al punto a realidad. Debido a algunas enversitaria en los Estados Unidos. de cumplir muchos sueños miendas que se le agregaron en Otro de los requisitos en realidad comentaba”, la Cámara de Representantes la que esta la ley estaría implementando es comenta Rosa Lozano, propuesta debió ser llevada de organizadora de nuevo a la Cámara del Senado la de que los pajóvenes de Casa para una última revisión. dres hubieran de Maryland. El sabado, 9 de abril, por los pagado sus La señora Lo- menos treinta estudiantes de impuestos zano ambien ha diferentes escuela del estado de por al menos realizado mu- Maryland se dieron la tarea de ir por 3 años en chas marchas a dar el último apoyo a la ley de el estado de en Annapolis acta del ensueño, pero debido a Maryland. tratando ganar errores administrativos en AnPara recivotos de al- napolis, no se pudo dar ese ulbir los benefigunos sena- timo grito del “¡Sí se pudo!”. cios, los estudores para que La última reunión llevará a diantes tiene la propuesta cabo el lunes, 11 de abril donde que haberse pueda ser una se definirá el sueño de muchos graduado de realidad y mu- estudiantes en el estado de alguna escuechos estudiantes Maryland. la del estado o puedan hacer La decisión debe ser tomada haber aprobarealidad todo su antes de las doce de la noche y do el examen de esfuerzo. si pasa la ley del acta de ensueequivalencia de la “Si esta ley pasa ño no solo beneficiará a inmiescsuela secundaria. CORTESIA DE WWW.SPH.UMD.EDU podré cumplir mis sue- grantes ilegales si no también a La propuesta del el ños de tomar mi vida, ciudadanos americanos porque senador Victor Ramirez estupoder ser un arquitecto” comentaba la universidades cambiarán vo en debate durante dos horas y LORENA KOWALEWSKI media. Para llegar a una votación final, dicha Saul Hernandez. sus requisitos universitarios y Sus padres lo trajeron a los nueve años de hacerlos mas accesibles a los Estudiantes de Blair pueden llamar los propuesta llegó a tener cuatro enmiendas. Una de estas enmiendas obliga a que los edad y casi toda su vida ha vivido en el es- estudiantes. políticos para apoyar el Acta de Ensueño.

¿Y tú, qué PIENSAS? ¿Cómo nos ayuda o perjudican las redes sociales?

“Nos ayudan a reencontrar y hacer nuevos amigos.” Cindy Puesan, Onceavo grado

“No son nada seguras porque puedes perder tu informacion personal .” Dany Fuentes, Decimo grado

“Me ayudan a distraerme y pasar el tiempo.”

“Las personas se vuelven adictas y nunca tienen tiempo para socializar.”

Edgar Campos, Onceavo grado

Elsa Hiraldo, Decimo grado


silverCHIPS

SPORTS 29

April 14, 2011

SPRING SPORTS UPDATE BY CLAIRE SLEIGH

Girls’ Lacrosse

Boys’ Lacrosse

Despite the fact that the girls’ lacrosse team (2-4) has lost to two teams, B-CC and Whitman, that it beat last year, the team remains confident that it can rebound, said senior co-captain Tessa Mork. The 9-15 loss to B-CC was especially disappointing to the players because B-CC knocked Blair out of the playoffs last year. However, Mork remains sure of the team’s abilities and believes that the hard work they are doing in practice will pay off. “We are just as good as we were last year, but we didn’t play to our full potential in these two games,” she said. With twelve returning players, and strong players moving up from JV, the team hopes that they will atTOLU OMOKEHINDE tain a winning record by the end of Junior Rachel Smith applies the team’s the season. After holding powerhouse Walter Johnson for the first new offensive and defensive strategies. half of Friday’s game, the team is ready to apply new strategies and techniques, especially defensively. The girls’ lacrosse team is hoping to rebound from a slow start of the season with some new moves.

An exciting win against Paintbranch is reassuring to boys’ varsity lacrosse and brings them closer to their goal of breaking 500. After a series of close losses, the boys’ lacrosse team (2-4) is hoping to redeem itself during the second half of the season. The team is struggling to maintain a winning record this season; their goal is to at least perform better than last year’s weak 2-10 record. Under the guidance of new coach Chris Brown, the team has improved both technique and discipline wise, and become more competitive within their division. According to Brown and junior Matthew Whitney, there was a lack of effort and commitment at the beginning of the season as the large team struggled with absentee problems and learning the basics of the game. However, Brown thinks LORENA KOWALEWSKI that the team has recently adopted a posBlair had trouble beating B-CC’s strong itive attitude and a more cooperative apattack, but has improved since then. proach. And even though their record is far from perfect, senior captain Guodong Fu still believes that the team is competitive. “I don’t think our record really shows how hard we are working and how well we are working as a team,” he said.

Baseball

Softball

After finishing last years’ season with a weak record of 5-12, Blair’s varsity baseball team (2-7) is hoping to improve by achieving at least a winning record. According to captain Lucas Babinec, the team has everything it needs to clinch games, but individual players are not living up to their potential. When it comes down to the big-game winning plays, the team has been unable to deliver so far. This accounts for many of their losses but it is not representative of their playing. “It’s a bit tough right now because I definitely had higher expectations for this season,” he said. The team is dedicated to working hard this year, and Babinec believes LORENA KOWALEWSKI that the extra practice time that they MOLLY ELLISON are putting in will pay off. “We Senior co-captain Pierce Marston is a should have better attitudes and we reliable pitcher for Blair baseball. shouldn’t be getting down on ourselves because we have been working really hard,” he said. With seven games in the upcoming week, many of which are against less competitive teams, the team is hoping to substantially improve their record.

Softball (8-1) suffered a disappointing 0-4 loss to Sherwood this past week, ending their run on a perfect record. Senior co-captain Eve Brown believes that overconfidence and an inability to clinch big plays contributed to the loss. The blazers held Sherwood for the first six innings with a close score of 0-1, but let them slip away during the seventh. Sherwood is a force to be reckoned with — they have won the region for the past four years and made it to finals last year — although Blair did beat them for the first time in Metro history last year. Brown thinks that Sherwood may have been seeking revenge in this last game. Going into the game, the team was 7-0, having won most of their games by sizeable advantages and ended three games TOLU OMOKEHINDE early because of the mercy rule. The team is mostly comprised of returning players, Junior Samantha Schweickhart slides all of whom are strong and experienced home during the first Blair game. athletes. Despite their loss to Sherwood, the softball team still has an impressive record and a positive outlook. Look out for the softball team as they work their way up to winning States this year.

Boys’ Volleyball

Boys’ Tennis After graduating five seniors last year — all of whom were starters — the varsity tennis team is working on remaining competitive within Division I. With a record of 5-3 so far, the team only needs to win one more match in order to stay in Division I, where they will settle around fourth or fifth place, captain Ajay Kannan hopes, close to the placing of their predecessors. They have won one divisional match so far and will encounter top-seated Churchill in another divisional match on Tuesday. Kannan is hoping the match with Churchill goes well, and is confident, particularly beEVAN HORNE cause the Blair team was competitive Sophomore Daniel Chen fights for against this force last year. Many people tried out for the tennis every point, hitting consistently. team this past season, and the team is comprised of both returning players and promising new athletes. According to Kannan, the first doubles team and the majority of the singles are very strong, which has allowed Blair to pull ahead in many key matches. The team has been working on volleys during practice in order to end points quickly and with confidence, Kannan said.

Boys’ volleyball (7-1) blasted through the competition earlier this season until the Richard Montgomery Rockets brought them up short on Friday. Blair’s squad was missing half of their team because of the Wallops Island field trip, and ended up playing with only five players after senior Robert Zang re-injured his shoulder. Despite their disadvantages, the blazers won one of the games and held the Rockets closely in the other two games. When they meet again during the playoffs season, senior co-captain Robert Huang is confident that the blazers will be victorious by a large margin. Other than Richard Montgomery, Blazer LORENA KOWALESKI volleyball destroyed all competition, beatNew recruits to boys’ volleyball are ing all of the opposing teams thoroughly. contributing to their 7-1 record. Boys’ volleyball has a relatively easy schedule this year, but things are going to heat up come playoffs time, where they will be playing many strong teams that they do not get the chance to meet during the regular season. In preparation for the playoffs to start, the team will be working on passing and effective communication on the court. Last year’s team made it to semifinals, and this year’s team hopes to do the same if not better.

voiceBOX “I like the cohesiveness of the team, everyone is good friends with each other and that makes it really fun.”

“We were too tense during the Springbrook game; I think we need to relax and we will do fine.” -freshman Annie Pietanza Softball

-junior Tucker Canary Baseball

“We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and I think it has been paying off well.”

-sophomore Leah Hammond Lacrosse

“We have a lot of new players, including myself, and we are all getting a lot better. ”

-senior Eugene Kim Volleyball


30 SPORTS

silverCHIPS

April 14, 2011

All in a day’s workout By Jialin Quinlan

Art by Nathan Gamson

It’s important to exercise regularly, but if you’re always putting it off because there’s hardly ever enough time to hit the gym, here are some quick and easy workouts to stay healthy and in shape. According to physical education teacher and weight-training instructor Robert McMahon, it’s important to be physically active for at least an hour a day. The best thing to do for busy students are exercises that work multiple joints at the same time, he says. McMahon also emphasizes that it’s especially important to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine now. “If you don’t get into a habit when you’re younger, the chance that you’ll work out when you’re older exponentially decreases,” he says.

Mountain climber

Tricep Dip

The mountain climber works not only your arms, legs and core, but is also an excellent cardio workout. 1. Begin in a push-up position (arms lined up with the chest, legs extended out). 2. Make sure to keep the head in line with the body and the stomach muscles contracted throughout the range of motion. 3. Start the movement by bringing the right knee to the chest. 4. Jump up and switch feet in the air, bringing the left foot in and the right foot back. 5. Quickly alternate to the left leg and repeat the exercise for anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes. The mountain climber works for any fitness level because you can vary the intensity by increasing the speed and the amount of time that you continue “climbing.”

Bicycle exercise If you are tired of crunches but still trying to get your abs in shape, look no further than the bicycle exercise, considered the number one most effective ab exercise by the American Council on Exercise. 1. To start, lie flat on the floor with your lower back on the ground and place your hands on the sides of your head. 2. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle and lift your shoulder blades slightly off the floor. 3. Slowly straighten your left leg while bringing in your right knee, twisting your torso to the right to touch your left elbow to your right knee. 4. Switch sides and extend your right leg as you bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Don't forget to keep your breathing relaxed and even throughout the exercise. Continue alternating sides in a bicycle motion for one to three sets of 12-16 reps each.

The tricep dip is the perfect exercise for busy Blazers because all it requires is a bench or chair. 1. To start the dip, stand in front of the bench with your back facing the bench. Place your hands on the bench with palms down and your knuckles facing forward, slightly closer than shoulder width apart. 2. Start to bend your knees until your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Lower your body by bending at the elbow (exhaling slowly as you bend). Lower for a count of two and remember to keep your elbows from pointing out away from the body. 3. Straighten your arms out and push your body back up and breathe in slowly through your nose as your arms straighten. Complete two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps resting for a minute between each set. Try to squeeze this exercise into your busy schedules two to three times a week.


silverCHIPS

SPORTS 31

April 14, 2011

The NFL needs to move the chains toward reality Selfish owners and arrogant players have put America’s sport in jeopardy By Gardi Royce An opinion For a country that is enduring two controversial wars, a great recession and a staggering national debt, it is sickening that topping many news headlines is the issue of American football. For the first time since 1987, the National Football League may go into a lockout for the 2011-2012 season, a product of the greed and corruption that has come to define the sport. Though many have pointed fingers solely at the owners, the blame rests as well on the players who have become blinded by their own wealth and power. There was a time when football brought the country together, a sport more exciting than baseball, it was more guttural and accessible. For a large portion of the 1900’s, being a professional athlete did not mean having three cars, beach side houses, or million dollar birthday blowouts. Rather it was considered another job, not one that offered million dollar bonuses. Yet over the last 30 years, with the advent of the television as the new medium for entertainment, professional footballs’ popularity skyrocketed, and with it came its profits. The NFL generates an approximate nine billion dollar annual profit, and this whole controversy is over how the owners and players split that money. The situation as it stands now is a result of a decision made in 2006 by the players and the owners. The conclusion reached then was

as follows: owners would immediately take one billion dollars off the top to deal with operating expenses, then the players would get around 58 percent of the remaining money in their salaries. However, this seemingly acceptable agreement ended on March 3rd, giving owners the chance to show their gluttonous intentions for the future. They claim that with increasing maintenance costs and the “risks” of operating a football organization, they need to skim around 2.4 billion dollars from the total profit, cutting the players share of the

SAM ELKIND

revenue by approximately 18 percent. The players have expectably protested, saying there are being shortchanged for their hard work and that the owners are taking advantage of their power. While this is a legitimate labor conflict, in the context of our current economic times in America and globally, it is arrogant and horrifying to be complaining about football. America currently has over a nine percent unemployment rate and economies

across the globe are suffering severely. As Chicago Now journalist Adam Oestmann put it, “it’s millionaires battling with billionaires,” a perfect summation of the absurdity that is this labor crisis. The problem is that the players have begun believing in their own delusions of grandeur and now expect to be treated like rock stars wherever they go. With the minimum salary for an NFL player in 2011 at $325,000, it seems ludicrous that they claim to need more. The median U.S. household makes a little over $50,000 annually, nearly a $275,000 difference from the minimum NFL salary. This discrepancy in the realities of the world around them and their self-created lifestyle is what has brought both the owners and the players to the brink of a lock out. However, it’s certainly not solely the players’ fault, rather the blame should be directed also, if not primarily, towards the insatiable greed of the owners. The owners need to understand that for professional football to work, they have to create an economically

sustainable model that works for both the owners and the players. Essentially the NFL is a marriage between the two sides; neither side is able to function without the other. Currently, the two sides are at war with one another because they both consider themselves the most important “player” in this situation. Unfortunately, the owners do have enough money to fall back upon if they need to “wait out” and force the players to agree. Due to this conflict, the players disbanded their union in order to take the case to civil court, claiming the owners had violated their contracts by locking out the players. This conflict in the NFL is a precursor to what is likely to occur in the NBA next year. With players demanding more money, the owners are faced with the dilemma of conceding to the players demands in order to keep the sport alive. If the 2011-12 season results in a lockout, it will be the product of not only greedy owners and pretentious players, but also of a society and culture that has vaulted these athletes to a godlike status. We have fed into these prima donnas’ false ideologies by letting professional sports take priority over real issues. Creating the demand for more games, more television and more money. It’s everyday people who influence the way our society works and operates, and we need to stand together against the corrupt and distorted world of sports.


sportsCHIPS

October 7, 2011 silverchips.mbhs.edu/section/sports.php

Girls’ volleyball blasted

New rink glides into DTSS

Blazers lose to Blake, 3-0 By Brittany Cheng NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM, SEPT. 30— Fans were abnormally roused during the heavily competitive volleyball match between Blair and Blake on Friday afternoon. Screaming and cheering filled the stands each time a side won a hard-fought point that would once again allow the team to regain the lead. Even though the two teams were neck and neck throughout the game, the Blake Bengals (6-1) eventually defeated the girls’ varsity volleyball team (2-4) by final scores of 13-25, 21-25 and 23-25. Prior to the game, the Blazers were optimistic about their chances, even though they knew it would be a difficult game. “From what I heard before the game, Blake is a team that’s kind of like us, so I expected it to be pretty competitive,” junior co-captain Lizzy Liu said. Her teammate, junior defender Angela Wu, echoed her statement. “I expected it to be a pretty close match,” Wu said. The Lady Blazers kept the game competitive by staying close to the Bengals in points. For the majority of the time, no team was ahead by more than two points. However, whenever Blair scored a few points over their opponents, Blake would quickly catch up. L. Liu, who led the team with 30 assists, believed that the Blazers played inconsistency throughout the match. “We had some pretty good runs, but we weren’t very consistent,” she said. “Once we pulled a few points ahead, it seemed like we lost focus.” In the first set, the teams were neck and neck until about ten minutes in. The score of 9-9 became 9-12 after Blake capitalized on several errors and open spots in the Blazer defense to help them when the first set. In the second and third sets, the score was

much closer. When the Blazers fell behind in the third set by seven points, the team rallied together and made a few kills to even out the score. The highlight of the game came in the second set when the score was tied at 19 points a piece. Each team refused to let the other take the lead and fought hard for that single point. Blair’s defense was led by freshman libero Jade Liu who had three consecutive digs. The ball soared over the net eight times before Blair tipped it over and won the hard-earned point. According to head coach Christopher Klein, that moment revitalized the team in the process. “When you win a point like that, it gives the whole team energy,” Klein said. Not all of the game ran as smoothly as that play. Senior co-captain Libby Wei, who finished the game with 18 complete serves, had just scored an ace, when a penalty was called and ended the first set. However, the team excelled in digs and passing. Junior Linda Kang had 15 digs, followed by senior Nika Lilley with 13 and J. Liu with 11. According to Klein, the team has a lot to improve on. “Those 11 missed serves,” he said. “That was the difference.” L. Liu echoed her coach’s statement. “We could definitely work on communication. Some balls that dropped could have been saved if everyone just talked,” she said. “But skill wise, we needed to work on serving; a good serve is the easiest and fastest way to get points.” According to Klein, the largest obstacle is nerves. “We need to work out our nervousness issues,” he said. “If we can forget them and breathe, we can win.” The girls’ varsity volleyball team will play its next home game on Tuesday, Oct. 11 against Northwood high school.

ENOCH HSIAO

After several years of construction, the Downtown Silver Spring ice rink opened on Dec. 19, providing a new attraction for all ages.

insideSPORTS

Girls’ varsity volleyball blasted by Bengals

Fall Sports Update

Blazers lose to Blake, 3-0

See page 31 An update on Blair’s fall sports teams such as field hockey, soccer, tennis, football, cross country, golf and volleyball.

Glory Days See page 30 Jialin Quinlan tries out quick workout moves for the busy Blazer who wants tone muscle and build endurance.

ond set when the score was tied at 19 points a piece. Each team refused to let the other take the lead and fought hard for that single NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM, point. Blair’s defense was led by freshman SEPT. 30— libero Jade Liu who had three consecutive digs. The ball soared over the net eight times Fans were abnormally roused during the before Blair tipped it over and won the hardheavily competitive volleyball match earned point. between Blair and Blake on Friday afAccording to head coach Christoternoon. Screaming and cheering filled pher Klein, that moment revitalized the the stands each time a side won a hardteam in the process. “When you win a fought point that would once again allow point like that, it gives the whole team the team to regain the lead. Even though energy,” Klein said. the two teams were neck and neck Not all of the game ran as smoothly throughout the game, the Blake Bengals as that play. Senior co-captain Libby Wei, (6-1) eventually defeated the girls’ varwho finished the game with 18 complete sity volleyball team (2-4) by final scores serves, had just scored an ace, when a of 13-25, 21-25 and 23-25. penalty was called and ended the first Prior to the game, the Blazers were set. optimistic about their chances, even However, the team excelled in digs though they knew it would be a difficult and passing. Junior Linda Kang had game. “From what I heard before the 15 digs, followed by senior Nika Lilley game, Blake is a team that’s kind of like with 13 and J. Liu with 11. us, so I expected it to be pretty competiAccording to Klein, the team has tive,” junior co-captain Lizzy Liu said. a lot to improve on. “Those 11 missed Her teammate, junior defender Angela serves,” he said. “That was the difWu, echoed her statement. “I expected it ference.” L. Liu echoed her coach’s to be a pretty close match,” Wu said. statement. “We could definitely work The Lady Blazers kept the game comon communication. Some balls that petitive by staying close to the Bengals dropped could have been saved if evin points. For the majority of the time, eryone just talked,” she said. “But skill no team was ahead by more than two wise, we needed to work on serving; a points. However, whenever Blair scored good serve is the easiest and fastest way a few points over their opponents, Blake to get points.” would quickly catch up. According to Klein, the largest obL. Liu, who led the team with 30 asENOCH HSIAO stacle is nerves. “We need to work out sists, believed that the Blazers played our nervousness issues,” he said. “If inconsistency throughout the match. The Blazers lost 3-0 against the Blake Benwe can forget them and breathe, we can “We had some pretty good runs, but we gals Friday afternoon. win.” weren’t very consistent,” she said. “Once we pulled a few points ahead, it seemed like together and made a few kills to even out the The girls’ varsity volleyball team will play score. we lost focus.” The highlight of the game came in the sec- its next home game on Tuesday, Oct. 11 against In the first set, the teams were neck and

By Brittany Cheng

neck until about ten myinutes in. The score of 9-9 became 9-12 after Blake capitalized on several errors and open spots in the Blazer defense to help them when the first set. In the second and third sets, the score was much closer. When the Blazers fell behind in the third set by seven points, the team rallied


April 2011 - Silver Chips Print