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Montgomery Blair High School SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND

A public forum for student expression since 1937

silverchips

December 19, 2013

Winner of the 2012 National Pacemaker Award

County raises minimum wage By William Zhu Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett signed into law the new minimum wage of $11.50 an hour on December 5. The County Council approved the new minimum wage in an 8-1 vote on November 26. The vote raised the minimum wage in Montgomery County above the previous amount of $7.25 set by the federal minimum wage. Municipalities in Montgomery County, such as Gaithersburg and Rockville will have a choice of rejecting or adopting the new minimum wage. The measure, which was sponsored by Councilmember Marc Elrich would gradually

Remembering Mandela B8 VOL 76 NO 3

Happy holidays

raise the current minimum wage in a period of four years to allow for businesses to adjust accordingly. The measure, known as Bill 2713, will take effect on October 1 of 2014 by increasing the minimum wage to $8.40 and then $9.55 in 2015, $10.75 in 2016, and finally $11.50 in 2017. The specifics of the Bill were in a press release from the County Council, which stated that these changes do not affect workers who are not included in Maryland’s minimum wage law and those who are minors. “The County minimum wage would not apply to a worker who is not covered by the State minimum wage or a worker eligible for an opportunity

see WAGE page A3

Starr addresses MCPS

By Jesse Broad-Cavanagh Dr. Joshua Starr, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, held a town hall meeting at Blair, open to everyone in

ZEKE WAPNER

COMMUNITY Starr shares plans.

the community on Nov 21. This was the second of four “Community Days” that will be led by Starr during the 2013-14 school year. According to Starr, Community Days are dedicated to spending time in one specific part of the county. The event came after Starr spent the day touring high schools in the Downcounty Consortium (DCC). Starr ended the day with the town hall event at Blair in which he focused on bringing up and discussing issues in the MCPS community. After speaking about his broad goals for the county’s future, Starr opened the floor to parents, teachers, and students. “It’s important to hear about things that are going on in the community and listen to issues [the public] may have,” he said. Starr began the meeting with a short introduction on what MCPS strives to accomplish and what it is planning for the near and distant future. His speech started with a description of the public school

ZEKE WAPNER

LEILA BARTHOLET

HOLIDAY JOY As the season changes and the air grows colder, Blazers get ready for winter break and the holiday season by getting into the spirit of the eight nights of Hannukah and the 12 days of Christmas.

Blair offers Women’s Studies course

By Leila Habib

Blair will offer Montgomery College’s Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies class ninth period for a fee starting with MC’s spring semester as a second attempt at implementing the Concurrent Enrollment Program. According to MC’s website, the course will take an interdisciplinary approach to examining the role and status of women. Although the class will be available during the school day at Blair, it will be taught by a MC professor using the college’s materials and grading policy. “It’s...just like if someone left here and went to MC to take the class,” said Resource Counsel-

or Marcia Johnson. The Concurrent Enrollment Program, a MC program that brings college courses into high schools, has been implemented in other high schools in Montgomery County such as Wootton. “You just have to make a room available, have students that are interested, and you can do it,” Johnson said. Despite the program’s availability, Blair has taken advantage of the program just once in the past. “The reason we haven’t really used them as much is because we offer so many courses here at Blair that students have so many options,” Johnson said. Further hindering the execution of the program at Blair, Col-

see MEETING page A2

lege and Career Center Coordinator Phalia West found it difficult to find courses that didn’t require a prerequisite. “For the Women’s Studies course, I think an Honors English class is the only prerequisite, which is why we’re offering it, because for a lot of the classes you have to have a college prerequisite,” she explained. West brought the program to Blair with the intention of helping students prepare for college. “Taking a college class brings on so many things...because you’re being exposed to more, you’re getting the feel of what professors expect and the amount of class work,” she said. Johnson echoed

see WOMEN page A2

Mold remains at Rolling Terrace The mail, the law, and As officials weigh in, Superintendent arranges meeting to address problem

By Langston Cotman In an attempt to address Rolling Terrace elementary school’s recent mold outbreak, Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Starr agreed on Nov. 27 to arrange a meeting between a small representative group from the Rolling Terrace PTA Mold Task Force and MCPS administrators. This followed outside pressures placed on MCPS to address the issue, including an urgent letter from Montgomery County Council District 5 councilmember Valerie Ervin. Rolling Terrace staff initially discovered a widespread amount of mold upon returning to school from summer break. Efforts were taken to clean the mold over Labor Day weekend, but reappearing blotches had parents concerned

that the source of the mold had not been addressed. MCPS hired county affiliated contractors Building Dynamics to inspect the mold and safety of the school environment who concluded that the mold is not a major health risk to the well-being of the students. “Rolling Terrace ES is currently safe to occupy,” stated Building Dynamics in its most recent progress report from Nov. 22. Mold reappeared in Rolling Terrace on Nov 8, days after county inspectors deemed the Takoma Park elementary school mold free, raising concerns about the school’s ability to provide a safe learning environment for its students. White mold, the variety found at Rolling Terrace, can aggravate respiratory issues, cause colds and sore throats, according to the En-

vironmental Protection Agency website. Building Dynamics attributed the mold outbreak to a faulty Heating, Ventilation, and Air Condition (HVAC) system and high levels of humidity. The HVAC’s outdoor air energy recovery unit failed over the summer, leading to overcooling. These lower indoor temperatures contrasted with the outside summer heat increased the humidity within in the school and established an environment suitable for mold growth. In order to ensure that students would not be exposed to mold still present in the air supply, MCPS had all the air units in the school sanitized by mid October, according to a Nov. 22 Building Dynamics progress report. However, since the main

see MOLD page A2

three thousand kids

more than a delivery guy or a mermaid. Four years under his mammoth In order to name Blair and the picture and this is what I know other nine high schools named about him: he has modeled after people, MCPS organized as a pharaoh, Mousa Name Recommendation keteer, cowboy, and Committee made up this year, a bikiniof PTA members and clad mermaid. At principals, according freshman oriento MCPS’s Regulatation, I learned tion FFA-RA “Namthat his real job ing School Faciliwas the Postties.” The Board of master General Education proposed under Abraham four names of “distinLincoln’s adminisguished people who tration, which I fighave made an outLEILA BARTHOLET ured was a fancy standing contribution name for the boss to community, counPORTRAIT Montgomof the mail carriers. ty, state or nation,” But Montgomery ery Blair was an early and the committee Blair was so much advocate for education. see NAMESAKES page D2

By Alanna Natanson

NEWS A2 OP/ED B1 SPECIALS B7 FEATURES C1 ENTERTAINMENT D1 CHIPS CLIPS D6 LA ESQUINA LATINA E1 SPORTS F1


A2 News

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Starr plans to address mold problem from MOLD page A1

FEATURES

C4 ENTERTAINMENT

December 19, 2013

“Issues associated with mold have not been contained but instead have spread to other areas of the school,” wrote Ervin. Ervin further explained that MCPS efforts to contain the mold have been insufficient. “Apparently, the efforts that MCPS has used to date have not eliminated the issue, since mold is appearing in more classrooms...In addition, students continue to report symptoms that can be linked to mold exposure including asthma attacks, headaches, hives,

for [your] advocacy and commitment to the Rolling Terrace community. I certainly appreciate the time and attention you have givsource of the mold has yet to be discovered, en to this issue and I welcome your feedback parents like Michaela Johnson feel that simand input as we move forward,” wrote Starr. ply sanitizing the visible mold is not a perRegardless of Starr’s future plans, the curmanent solution. “It’s coming from inside rent school environment has jeopardized stuout. Wiping it down is no good, you have dents’ health. According to Johnson, her son, to find the source,” said Johnson, who is a a first grader, experienced headaches and parent of three Rolling Terrace students runny noses during the first week of school and a member of the Mold Task Force. and her fifth grade daughter, after three The Building Dynamics report explained years of good health, has missed five that the mold discovered on Nov. 8 was days of school due to an asthma flare up not new growth and that parents should that doctors attributed to the mold and not be concerned. “None of the suspect cleaning materials present in the school. mold spots observed since September The Task Force is also concerned are new or re-growth…The remainabout the cleaning agents MCPS used to ing mold represented isolated spots sanitize trouble spots. Building services missed during remediation in Septemused Sporicidin, a common mold disinber,” the report confirmed. However, fectant that, according to the Building according to the EPA website, even Dynamics report, is safe and frequently exposure to dry mold can be a health used in health care facilities. However, risk. “Dead mold may still cause allerJohnson reported that a doctor attributgic reactions in some people, so it is not ed her daughter’s resurgent asthma and enough to simply kill the mold, it must recent respiratory issues to Sporicidin as also be removed,” said the website. well as the mold. Johnson herself said Some parents are still skeptical of the that upon entering the school the Sporeports that the recent mold is not new ricidin made her eyes burn and caused growth. Jodi Siff, parent of two Rolling her respiratory discomfort. “I could not Terrace students and Mold Task Force COURTESY OF MCPS breathe in that school,” said Johnson. member, claimed that her son has recently seen building service staff replac- WIDESPREAD INFESTATION Mold grows on a The Building Dynamics report acknowling ceiling tiles due to mold outbreaks. classroom bookshelf (top), wall (bottom left), and edged the Sporicidin’s odor, but explained that the smell usually dissipates Johnson was also skeptical of the counwithin hours of cleaning and that reacty’s claims about the newly-reported chair (bottom right) at a local elementary school. tions like Johnson’s and her daughter’s mold, seeing as it was found on easily visible locations, including the bottoms of itchy eyes, sore throats and coughs,” wrote were uncommon. “Highly sensitive indichairs, and would have been spotted during Ervin. She concluded by advising Starr and viduals may experience temporary irritathe original intensive cleaning. “For them to Barclay to meet the Task Force’s requests for tion symptoms when exposed to odors that say that these aren’t new molds is irrespon- monitoring the outbreaks, including a mold do not affect most people,” said the report. Previously, the Task Force has tried to sible and a complete fabrication,” she said. remediation plan and an Environmental RelValerie Ervin sent a letter to Starr and ative Moldiness Index (ERMI) test. “These elicit a direct response from Starr, but with Christopher Barclay, President of the Board requests seem reasonable, given the ongoing little success. At his Nov. 20 town hall of Education, on Nov. 25 urging them to nature of this problem and the health im- in Blair’s Student Activity Center (SAC), hear the grievances of the Rolling Terrace pacts on our youngest students,” she wrote. parents asked Starr multiple times what In an email response to the head of the more he could do in regards to the mold, PTA Mold Task Force. This letter came in the wake of continued complaints from PTA Mold Task Force, Craig Sharman, Starr to which he responded he thought there the task force claiming that, since the ini- commended the persistence of the Task was little else the county could provide. “I tial school wide mold disinfection, children Force and the necessity of collaboration in don’t know if there is much more we can were still exposed to new mold growth. solving the mold issue. “I want to thank you do, but if there is then we’ll do it,” he said.

MCPS Superintendent at Blair College class Starr conducts town hall, holds Community Day in DCC

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a while, I felt that it was being ignored from MEETING page A1 because it seemed that only adults were system’s goals when it comes to educating complaining, rather than students,” she children. “Kids need to do well academi- said. In response, Starr explained that not cally but we would rather have great peo- much could be done because of the counple than straight A students,” Starr said. ty’s budget. “We don’t have all the monHe then introduced the timetable for his ey that we would love to have,” he said. newly planned two-part county budget. Other MCPS high school students at “We’ve got needs, we’ve got issues, and the event included a group representwe need to invest,” Starr said. “Hopefully ing school robotics teams in the area. The the county and the state will understand group, made up of robotics team members our needs and approve my budget.” Starr from Richard Montgomery and Blair, was emphasized the importance of advancing fighting for the payment of their school MCPS academically sponsors. “Robotand how the budget ics requires time made it hard to deal dedication durwith specific problems ing the week and at different schools. weekend. Our “It starts with helping teachers don’t schools to innovate receive stipends in small bunches at a and it’s difficult time. There’s no one for them to put in size fits all, schools time without comhave different commupensation,” said ZEKE WAPNER nities and work in difjunior Max Yu. ferent ways,” he said. DISCUSSION Starr addresses the audiActive particiAfter his 15 minute ence at a town hall meeting held at Blair. pants filled up the speech, Starr opened SAC and spent the up the floor for a question and answer por- time fighting for different issues. Outside tion with anyone who wanted to speak. the event, parents and their children held Those in attendance took this time to raise is- up signs advocating for the removal of sues they had with certain aspects of Starr’s mold in Rolling Terrace Elementary. “This plan regarding school schedules and other is the first time I’ve done a town hall with situations in the community. Many different a whole group of folks advocating for a issues such as school start time, eight period specific cause,” said Starr. When speakdays, and the education gap were brought ing on the mold issue, Starr admitted he up. Starr responded with an assurance that wasn’t sure on the next steps to be taken. changes would be made. “We must embrace “I don’t know if there is much more we can the new challenges in this new world,” he do, but if there is then we’ll do it,” he said. said. Starr also explained that although Despite the issues that community each issue is important, they aren’t al- members brought up throughout the ways very easy to fix. “There’s no one size night, Starr was impressed with MCPS fits all, schools have different communi- and how things are advancing. “Given the ties and work different ways,” said Starr. capacity of Montgomery County schools A few MCPS students in attendance par- and the hard work of the good people, we ticipated in this portion of the event. Junior can think of good ways to address issues,” Mari-Therese Burton brought up problems he said. Starr described that the key to adshe had with part of the counseling depart- vancing the county academically is figurment at Blair. “The issue of having lim- ing out how to innovate in a system that is ited counseling office staff, specifically the already so advanced. “We’re at the moon. registrar, at Blair has been on the table for Now how do we get to Mars?” asked Starr.

offered at Blair from WOMEN page A1

West’s thoughts. “We want to get students interested in taking college level courses as well as offer something that we don’t offer here at Blair,” she said. Upon completion of the course, students will receive a college transcript separate from their high school transcript, which West said will help make students stand out to colleges. “It’s a trend in a lot of other states. Their juniors and seniors… come out with a lot of [credits] and it makes them more competitive to the admission reps,” she explained. Two years ago, Blair offered MC’s Chinese course as the first college course to be offered at Blair, but it was discontinued. “We couldn’t do it as a class in our curriculum so we looked at Montgomery College to bring a class here, [but] we didn’t have enough participation,” West said. Johnson hopes a lack of participation won’t be a problem with the Women’s and Gender Studies course. “We already have a number of social studies electives that talk about different things like Peace Studies, East Asian Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, so I think people are used to going into those specific types of studies,” she said. In order to enroll in the course, students must either be a junior with at least a 3.0 unweighted Grade Point Average (GPA) or a senior with at least a 2.75 unweighted GPA. However, even with a lower GPA, students can appeal to MC and attempt to take the course. The cost of the course is the same as the cost of MC’s regular courses, about $300, according to West, but financial aid will be offered. “They do now have some aid for that where the state is picking up a portion. The portion they pick up is more for a student that is on free and reduced lunch, but there are scholarships out there that are available to all students that MC offers where the class could be free,” West said. Register with Phalia West in the Career Center.


News A3

silverchips

December 19, 2013

$17 million in scholarships go unused Need-based aid failed to appear for 7,800 students mately $129.6 million in grants and scholarships to approximately 54,000 post-secondary students during the 2012 fiscal year. However, in the 2013 fiscal

120

60 40 20

$4.1 mil

TOTAL

80

NEED BASED

100

MERIT BASED

An October audit of the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) discovered that MHEC has failed to properly distribute college scholarship money from one of its need-based financial aid funds, even after a 2010 audit pointed out the problem. As a result of MHEC’s financial aid distribution difficulties, more than $17 million of available need-based scholarship aid money remained unspent at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, even with a waiting list of 16,400 college students seeking need-based aid for that year. At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, a similar sum of money was unspent, and an estimated 7,800 eligible college students did not receive aid money that they otherwise could have received, according to the Oct. 29 audit report from the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits. MHEC, a Maryland government agency whose responsibilities include providing financial assistance to Maryland students, left approximately $17.2 million of scholarship funds unspent as of June 30, according to the audit. The year earlier, in June of 2012, the balance of unused money was $17.7 million, even with a waiting list of 31,000 college students seeking aid money for the 2011-2012 school year. The Office of Legislative Audits recommended that MHEC find a way to use those leftover funds. Danette Howard, Maryland Secretary of Higher Education, wrote a reply to the audit’s recommendations indicating that MHEC is taking the concerns seriously. “MHEC has already implemented numerous corrective

actions and is reviewing additional measures that will resolve the findings that are addressed in the report,” she wrote in her reply. MHEC’s excess undistribut-

Financial aid in millions

By Rebecca Naimon

$81.4 mil

$119.7 mil

FROM THE OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE AUDITS

GRACE WOODWARD

ed scholarship funds were also discovered in a 2010 audit, but MHEC failed to fix the problem then. The Need-Based Student Financial Assistance Fund was established in 2011 as an attempt to account for accumulated unspent funds to be spent in future years, and was supposed to maintain a buffer balance of only $1 million to never be spent. However, the growing balance of the fund indicates that this measure has not been successful at lowering the accumulation of aid money. MHEC gave out approxi-

year, 29 percent of eligible students did not accept the offered money. Each year, students who do not accept their money in time are a recurring complication that makes it more difficult to allocate funds to waitlisted students effectively, according to Howard’s testimony on Mar. 4 to the Senate Budget & Taxation Subcommittee on Education, Business and Administration. It is not known how the lack of state financial support affected the estimated 7,800 students who did not receive aid

money for the 2011-2012 school year. In 2011, 26.4 percent of students still on the waitlist for scholarship aid did not enroll in college. According to Howard’s testimony, the available data does not include the students’ reasons for not enrolling. Phalia West, Blair’s College and Career Center Coordinator, thinks that the state needs to adjust its practices in order to distribute the proper aid money to its students. “I would hope, since the audit has exposed this situation, that the state of Maryland would make changes and [prevent this] from happening to any more students,” she said. West also pointed out that aid money plays a vital role in allowing students to attend their preferred colleges. “Money that doesn’t have to be paid back is invaluable to all students. Often, this financial aid, whether it’s grants or loans, is how many students determine whether or not they are going to be able to cover all costs of the colleges of their choices,” she said. The same audit report also highlighted other concerns regarding MHEC’s practices. MHEC did not independently review eligibility requirements—including income, residency, grade-point average, and student service obligations—of students for several scholarship programs, and allowed colleges’ reviews to go unverified. Some students may have been incorrectly identified as eligible or ineligible for certain scholarships, according to the audit. MHEC’s Office of Student Financial Aid has said that it will review its current student eligibility verification process and make recommendations by Dec. 31.

County council approves new minimum wage from MINIMUM WAGE page A1 or youth minimum wage under the State or Federal law.” The new minimum wage was a joint effort on the parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and the District of Columbia (D.C.) agreeing on the $11.50 an hour rate. Montgomery County was the first county to raise the base pay and Prince

21% of U.S. teenagers are paid minimum wage

FROM THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

George’s County followed suit on November 27. A week later on December 5, D.C.’s city council unanimously voted in approval of the new living wage. Councilmember Elrich cited the low minimum wage and the high cost of living in the county as reasons for his sponsorship of the bill. “Nobody can possibly live in Montgomery County on $7.25 an hour,” said Dale Tibbitts, Elrich’s Chief of Staff.

4.7% of U.S. adults are paid minimum wage

Tibbitts added that even with a cheap rent price of a few hundred dollars a month, getting by is difficult with the current minimum wage “You can get a place for $500 a month that puts you at $6,000 at year,” he said. According to Tibbitts, $12 per hour was the originally proposed minimum wage and Elrich hoped to raise the base pay to $17 per hour in future, but Tibbitts eliminated that option because it was unlikely to pass through the legislature. “We originally chose $12 an hour, when now $17 an hour is where we needed to be, but it was politically impossible,” said Tibbitts. There has been both support and criticism from county business owners and individuals to the bill. “We received quite a number of thank you emails,” said Tibbitts. Most complaints and opposition against the bill have come from businesses in the area. “Many of them are from medium to small businesses ‘owners who believe that the cost of this will be too high and they can’t handle it,” said Tibbitts. Tibbitts recognized that

KELSEY GROSS

the bill could place extra hardship on businesses. He said the gradual increase in minimum wage over the next four years will help businesses adjust. “We couldn’t expect everyone to jump that quickly,” said Tibbitts. Phil Andrews was the only councilmember among the nine to oppose the minimum wage increase. Andrews does support a minimum wage increase, however he opposed the one passed by the council. According to Andrew’s Chief of Staff, Lisa Mandel-Trupp, Andrew’s main problem with the bill was that the decision was made in a rush and the new minimum wage is excessive. “He felt the $11.50 [minimum wage] was too high and too fast,” said Trupp. Andrews’ other concern with the bill is that the state of Maryland is set to pass its own minimum wage bill next year when the legislation meets. According to Mandel-Trupp, Andrews is apprehensive on the potential of Montgomery County’s bill conflicting with the State’s new laws on the living wage. Maryland’s General assembly has planned on discussing raising the state’s $7.25 base salary in 2014. “He’s concerned about how our legislation will fare against the state,” said Mandel-Trupp.

Newsbriefs Fatal Shooting at Colorado High School

A Colorado high school student shot one student before killing himself during an attack on his school Dec. 13. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson explained in a series of press conferences that Karl Halverson Pierson, the shooter, entered Arapahoe High School in Centennial armed with an unconcealed shotgun and opened fire. Pierson entered the school’s west side and was apparently seeking a confrontation with a teacher, whose name he called out as he walked through the halls. As the teacher exited the building “in an effort to try to encourage the student to move with him,” as Robinson explained, the shooter opened fire on random students and detonated a Molotov cocktail, which ignited the library bookshelves, before killing himself. The attack left senior Claire Esther Davis in critical condition with severe head trauma. Robinson says Pierson appears to have acted alone. The attack occurred on the first anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, and Centennial is less than ten miles east of Columbine High school, where two students shot 12 students and one teacher before committing suicide.

ICC revenue below initial projections

The Intercounty Connector (ICC)’s revenue in 2012 is severely below Maryland legislators’ initial trajectories from the beginning of its construction. The highway, which earned $39.6 million in 2012, has severely underperformed since it’s completion in 2011. The ICC has been controversial since the initial approval for construction in 2005, with debates over its high cost and possible detrimental environmental impacts. The $39.6 million is exactly what was recently projected for 2012, but ten to 32 million dollars short of what was initially expected as revenue in a given year. The highway cost $2.5 to build, making it the most expensive highway ever built in Maryland. According to state officials the exact financial impact will not be known for another five to ten years.

Rare species may delay Purple Line construction

A rare shrimp-like species may delay Purple Line construction in Rock Creek Park. Hay’s Spring amphipod, a small and colorless shrimp like animal, a federally protected endangered species, was discovered in a spring close to where the Purple Line is planned to built. Local environmentalists think that the construction may disturb the animal’s habitat, although states and federal officials did not mention the species in their environmental impact study on the area. According to local news source WTOP, this is believed to be the only location of the species in the world. The presence of the animals also demonstrates that the creek has good water quality, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Purple line representative Wayne Phyllaier does not believe that the crustacean will be impacted by the construction. There is a possibility that a law suit will be filed which will in turn delay construction.

Newsbriefs compiled by Emily Daly and Kelsey Gross


A4 News Newsbriefs O’Malley Goes to Brazil Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley took a trade mission trip to Brazil and El Salvador Dec 1 through Dec. 9. O’Malley, along with his wife Catherine, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker II, and over 30 companies and representatives of universities in Maryland, met with business and government officials. The Port of Baltimore imports more cargo from Brazil than from other country, and Brazil was Maryland’s 11th-largest export market in 2013. “As Maryland’s economy grows, we must continue to forge new connections, partnerships and investments abroad,” O’Malley explained in a statement Wednesday, November 28. On Tuesday, December 3, O’Malley announced Brace Pharmaceuticals, an investment company which created Brazil’s largest pharmaceutical company, will open and invest $200 million in its American headquarters in Montgomery County.

Rockville Teacher Accused of Assault Flees to China A special-needs teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student fled the country Dec. 3. According to police, 25-year-old Yee Tak Sharon Kui, who taught at The Frost School, a private school for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and other disabilities, exchanged text messages and had sex with an autistic 15 year old boy twice while his parents were at church. Police began investigating the situation November 11, and after police searched her home and obtained a warrant for arrest, Kui flew from New York to Hong Kong. Montgomery County Police are working to request Kui’s extradition, and Kui faces two counts of third-degree sex offense, sex abuse of a minor and sexual solicitation of a minor.

MCPS Stops Selling Strawberry Milk Montgomery County Public Schools will stop selling strawberry milk once students return from winter break Jan. 5. This decision comes after parent groups, including the nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to promoting nutritious foods in public schools, Real Foods for Kids Montgomery, expressed concern that the drink’s ingredients have negative impacts on students’ success. Parents have cited evidence that the Red Dye #40, artificial chemical flavor, high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol and large amounts of sugar in the drink contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Real Foods for Kids Montgomery has also called for the removal of chocolate milk and additives in all cafeteria foods. According to the nonprofit, MCPS claims flavored milk encourages students to consume calcium.

Newsbriefs compiled by Kelsey Gross

December 19, 2013

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MCPS calendar omits Islamic holidays

BOE rejects calendar that grants days off on Eid Al-Adha By Milena Castillo The Montgomery County Board of Education (MCBOE) approved the 2014-2015 school calendar by a vote of 5 to 2 on Nov. 12. This calendar is notable for its continued exclusion of the Muslim holidays despite recent lobbying efforts to create a calendar that would grant school off on these days. The two main Islamic holidays that are most likely to be included in a new calendar are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Although the first normally coincides with summer break and therefore doesn’t present a scheduling conflict, the latter often falls on a school day. Currently, the dates of these two main Islamic holidays are reserved as “non-testing” days for MCPS, meaning that districtwide exams cannot be handed out on those days. All Muslim students absent on those days are also excused from school as long as they bring in a note explaining their absence, however, schools are not designated to close on Eid al-Adha as they are for other religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. Dana Tofig, the spokesman for MCPS, said that the county cannot close schools on certain holidays solely for religious reasons. “There must be an operational reason for closing, such as sustained high absenteeism of staff and/or students. This fact was upheld by the Maryland State Board of Education in 2005 in a decision related to another district in Maryland,” said Tofig. In this case, the court decided that it was illegal for local school systems to close schools on religious holidays without proving

some kind of secular purpose like economizing school resources on days when a significant percentage of student and staff are absent. Tofig said that the absentee rate in county schools on Eid al-Adha was only 5.6% for students and 5% for staff. “That is well within the normal range we see this time of year,” said Tofig. The MCBOE said that they will continue to consider the issue regarding the school calendar but they cannot currently make any changes without a more significant amount of absences in schools on Islamic holidays. The board’s final decision means that for now Muslim students will continue having to choose between staying at home and attending class when their holidays come around. Sophomore Zaafira Elham, who is president of Blair’s Muslim Students Association, said that this decision is difficult because students who choose to stay home often have a lot of work to make-up when they get back, whereas students who come to school miss the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with their family. “I know a lot of people who come to school on our holidays because they’re afraid they’ll miss something important in class, but that’s not fair because I only have two holidays and that’s one of the most fun times of the year

for me to celebrate with family. My friends who come to school have to miss that,” said Elham. For students like sophomore Nazea Khan, deciding to stay home has created serious reper-

On Eid al-Adha last year, 5.56 percent of students were absent and about 6.5 percent of staff was absent.

cussions. “This year I didn’t come to school on Eid al-Adha and I had so much makeup work afterwards. I missed four tests,” said Khan. Khan has had trouble communicating this dilemma to her peers because of the lack of awareness. “We’re American Muslims and we’re in a society that doesn’t accept us as much, so it’s kind of hard to talk to them about it because they’re all wrapped up in their own worlds,” said Khan. In order to raise more awareness about these holidays and the Muslim population in MCPS in general, seven county residents formed the Equality for Eid Coalition, a community-based organization.

This coalition’s website includes an online petition that supports a change in school calendars and already has over 800 signatures. This year, the coalition encouraged students and staff to stay home from school during Eid al-Adha in order to accumulate enough absences to prove operational problems. They have also been working towards gaining support from MCPS Board members in charge of planning the school calendar each year. “If four or more MCBOE members make clear that they will withhold their votes from any calendar that doesn’t grant Eid closing(s), the CalKELSEY GROSS endar Committee will be forced to propose a calendar with Eid closings,” reads a post on the coalition’s website. Already, several public school districts in Vermont, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Illinois close school on one or both of the Eids. According to Elham, this action only proves that the issue of Islamic holidays being excluded from the MCPS calendar is relevant and easy to resolve. “I’m pretty sure if other counties can do it, we can do it too. Plus it would be fun if we’d had the holidays off because it would raise awareness about Islamic religion and people could know more about Muslims in general,” said Elham.

U.S. cuts food stamps benefits by $5 billion By Leila Habib The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the stimulus package, expired this November, cutting food stamps in the 2014 fiscal year by an estimated national total of $5 billion. The stimulus package originally allocated $19.8 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but its expiration resulted in significant food stamp cuts. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, households of four will receive a $36 cut per month, and cuts vary by the number of people in a household. As a result, the average each person receives for each meal fell from about $1.50 to less than $1.40 according to Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hungerrelief charity. Sophomore Adina Rombro, an active food stamps supporter, disagreed with the new cuts. “It’s an awful decision to cut food stamps. It was hard enough to live for a week on the amount of money that they do give and I can’t imagine eating less than that,” she said. As of September 2013, about 70,500 people in Montgomery County use food stamps according to Brian Schleter, the spokesperson for Maryland’s Department of Human Resources, while in 2006, fewer than 25,000 people used food stamps in the county. However, it is difficult to find enough food to fit the budget because according to the 2012 Self-Sufficiency Standard of Maryland, food prices are

higher in this region than in most of the state. According to Montgomery County Board of Education President Chris Barclay, about onethird of MCPS students qualify for the Free and Reduced Price Meals (FARMS) program as of February 2013. With an increasing number of children needing assistance, more attention is being drawn to the effects of the cuts on students. “It has been shown in many studies that students who are hungry have

$4.1 billion for food stamps over the span of ten years, while the House’s bill would cut $40 billion over the same period of time by tightening restrictions. The large gap between the two proposals leaves room for negotiation. “Students should reach out to their congressional representatives and urge them to pass a Farm Bill without large cuts to SNAP benefits,” Ervin said. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national nonprofit organization working to

KYLE DESIDERIO FROM W-USA NEWS

more difficulty in school and this cut in SNAP funding will affect the over 22 million children who receive SNAP benefits,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin. In spite of the recent reduction in benefits, Congress attempted to cut food stamps further by adjusting the Farm Bill, which authorizes funding for federal farm and food policies, including SNAP, but was unable to reach an agreement. The Senate passed a bill that would cut

eliminate hunger and malnutrition, one of the restrictions the House bill would instate is preventing “categorical eligibility,” or allowing a person to qualify for food stamps because they are eligible for other low-income benefits. As a result, about 210,000 low-income children could lose free and reduced school meal access. Ervin believes further reduction of benefits will have detrimental effects. “This will make it more difficult for families who are already

struggling and it will put additional pressure on the non-profit sector to help feed those in need,” she said. In order to support the food stamps program, Ervin and Rombro participated in the SNAP the Silence Challenge, a countywide program where participants live on the average daily food stamp benefit, which is about four dollars per day according to FRAC. After her experience on the challenge, Rombro concluded that the budget does not allow for a healthy diet. “Almost all of my meals consisted of pasta or bread, with no fruit or vegetables because they went over the budget. Aside from the fact that the amount of food I could get wasn’t filling, it also wasn’t healthy,” she said. Ervin believes the challenge effectively brings attention to the food stamp controversy. “We were able to raise awareness about hunger in our communities and bring together a coalition of elected officials, nonprofit executives and private sector leaders who are all committed to fighting poverty and helping working families,” she said. Although Ervin praised the challenge’s ability to raise awareness, she believes that participating in the challenge could never compare with the reality. “That challenge could never come close to the struggles encountered by low-income working families, [but] it did provide a new perspective and greater understanding for those who take the challenge,” Ervin said.


December 19, 2013

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Montgomery Blair High School 51 University Boulevard East Silver Spring, MD 20901 Phone: (301) 649-2864 2012 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker Finalist Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown Editors-in-Chief: Paris Parker-Loan and Dillon Sebastian Managing Features Editors: Desiree Aleibar and Jenna Kanner Managing News Editors: Emma Rose Borzekowski and Mallory Rappaport Managing Sports Editor: Kyle Desiderio Managing Op/Eds Editors: Isaac Jiffar and Evan Morris Managing Entertainment Editor: Kenyetta Whitfield Production Manager: Kyle Desiderio Managing Design Editor: Desiree Aleibar and Jenna Kanner Outreach Coordinator: Kenyetta Whitefield Ombudsman: Langston Cotman Distribution Supervisor: Alanna Natanson Fact Checks Supervisor: Alanna Natanson Extras Editor: Aditi Subramaniam Newsbriefs Editor: Emma Rose Borzekowski Public Relations Director: Maya Habash Executive Business Directors: Allie Fascione-Hutchins Jared Collina Business Staff: Liza Curcio Mattan Berner-Kadish Elana Rombro Ian Jackson Jackeline Portillo Ismail Nur Page Editors: Jesse Broad-Cavanagh Milena Castillo-Grynberg Leslie Chen Leigh Cook Emily Daly Alex Frandsen Alani Fujii Kelsey Gross Leila Habib Maya Habash Landon Harris Wesley Hopkins Blue Keleher Rebecca Naimon Alana Natanson Alexis Redford-Maung Maung Aditi Subramaniam Naomi Weintraub Grace Woodward William Zhu Guest Editorial Cartoonist: Antares Chen Managing Photo Editors: Leila Bartholet Zeke Wapner Spanish Page Editors Jackeline Castillo Milena Castillo Cindy Monge Ronald Sotelo Karen Tituana Marisela Tobar Photographers: Leila Bartholet Kyra Seiger Mimi Sim Phuong Vo Zeke Wapner Managing Arts Editor: Eva Shen Artists: Katrina Golladay Maggie McClain Elizabeth Pham Ben Safford Eva Shen Puzzle Editor: Jesse Broad-Cavangh Copy Editor: Paul B. Ellis Professional Technical Advisor: Peter Hammond Advisor: Jeremy Stelzner 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 Jeremy Stelzner’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 silver.chips. ombudsman@gmail.com. Letters may be edited for space and clarity.

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December 19, 2013

I’m dreaming of a white Lexus

The consumerism craze has redefined the meaning of the holiday season By Blue Keleher An opinion

The holiday season in songs and stories is one of laughter, ruddy noses, and family spirit. The onset of cold weather elicits delicious visions of roaring fireplaces and roasting chestnuts, ice skating and warm candles, hung stockings and fluffy hats, the cheery faces of loved ones all around you. “From now on, our troubles will be miles away,” promises the Judy Garland Christmas classic, and indeed that enduringly optimistic spirit permeates the festive air of the holidays. But today, that sentiment is shadowed by a dark undercurrent of something new. At the best of times, in spite of advertisements’ claims to the contrary, a retailer’s sole goal is to sell as much of its products at as high a price as it can. Our “season of giving” is their season of taking; it is the perfect opportunity for retailers to capitalize on the natural urge to consume, and they’re pulling out all the stops. Instead of being surrounded by love and goodwill, we are assaulted by sales announcements and catchy jingles, all promising the path to the “perfect gift.”

pointment. Unlike the Gifter, you are “settling.”

Let the cash flow

A new status quo in gifting

It isn’t just the gift-giving either; the pressure to buy and spend extends far beyond that. Come December, neighborhoods vie to present the most elaborate lawn displays and light arrangements, splurging on thick plastic props and animated, twinkling reindeer. The enormous National Christmas Tree erected near the White House and its equivalent in New York City’s Rockefeller Center bear testament to the physical grandeur that has come to be associated with the winter holidays. At home, commercials selling products from Christmas hams to twinkle lights drill into our heads that in order to celebrate Christmas properly, we must drown trees in tinsel, bury counters and mantles in themed cloths and trinkets, and keep a constant assembly line of people (curiously reminiscent of Santa’s elves) ferrying mouthwatering food in and out of the oven. Retailers have graciously supplied us with themed napkins, disposable holiday silverware sets, and plateware that can be tossed after one use (no muss, no fuss!). They’ve also given us

Do we want this? I’m not one to turn down a shiny new console or a flashy Kindle upgrade, but I can’t help but feel that this exclusive focus on material gifts rings a bit hollow. It feels wrong that the first thing I have to consider when choosing a gift – which, of course, is a necessity, not a choice – is the price range I’m expected to stick to. As December days tick away and the expense total in my head climbs ever upward, I find myself plagued by irrational anxiety. Is this enough? Did I spend enough? Perhaps my rationale is this: if the gift itself misses the mark, at least the price tag will merit gratitude. Gift-giving in the Christmas spirit dates back to the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, which is often cited as having contributed to the more recent Christian holiday. However, the nature of Roman gift-giving bears little resemblance to our own. Many of the holiday’s customs aimed to reduce the effects of social stratification, in some case dramatically reversing roles (for example, slave-owners provided table service for their slaves), and lavish and expensive gifts were considered contrary to the spirit of the festivities. Fast forward to now, and there’s a disconnect: “giving” today is less about the actual act of giving, and more about the gifts. A series of commercials from popular retailers TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods typifies the holiday’s transformation from a celebration of togetherness to a contest between gifts. In these commercials, a glamorous woman dripping with sex appeal known as “the Gifter” navigates holiday deals in her quest to “out-gift everyone.” A deep-voiced narrator informs us that “she doesn’t give no-names; she gives brand names” as dramatic action music roars in the background. The implication is blunt: holiday shopping isn’t just an errand, it’s a competition. Instead of representing a nice gesture toward family and friends, gifting becomes a means by which the recipients can judge your worth. If you buy “no-names,” as the commercial suggests, you aren’t doing your duty as an observer of winter holidays. You’re a disap-

winter sales and ad campaigns designed to tug on our sense of obligation. In order to make the season satisfying, they tell us, we need to fulfill our loved one’s expectations of material gain. Your girlfriend deserves that piece from Kay Jewelers; your child needs the latest iPhone 5s. All around us, fabricated characters like “the Gifter” show us up and work to present a norm where people have a right to their material pleasures. Instead of villains chasing after our wallets, big bucks retailers begin to look more like concerned third parties wanting to lend us a helping hand. Could you imagine Christmas without the evergreen conifers adorned with all manner of lights and baubles, the fresh-smelling wreaths decorating front doors, or, most importantly, the presents? Unlike in Roman times, taking away all the flashy trinkets makes Christmas feel like a much `poorer affair, but it shouldn’t. Perhaps we should take a lesson from Dr. Seuss’ Grinch: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means

daily lives. December follows close on the heels of another American tradition that has evolved to accommodate the retail boom: Thanksgiving, which today is irreversibly linked to Black Friday and its characteristic zombie-apocalypse-like mobs of shoppers. As with Christmas and other A Christ-centric standard winter holidays, Black Friday’s emphasis on shopping distracts Christmas is not the only holifrom the original meaning of the day celebrated during the winter season, but it is by far the loudest. holiday, but this is not an issue so much as the fact that retail Hallmark sells 1.6 billion Christemployees are forced to compenmas-themed cards per year, ten sate for the influx of shoppers. times more than it does for any For many brand-name stores, other holiday. Christmas Day is the only religious federal holiday employees arrive before the mobs and is celebrated by the most pop- and leave only after cleaning up ulous religious groups in America, the mess, which can add up to 10 but its appeal extends beyond the to 12-hour shifts away from loved ones on the one night where famiChristian demographic. lies traditionally reconnect and A Gallup poll found that 81% give thanks for each other. of Americans identified with a Christian faith, but 93% purported Materialism: the great evil? to celebrate Christmas. That 12%, which has been steadily growing, We’ve all heard rumors of how represents the group of secular (or big bad names like “amazon. at least non-Christian) Americom” spell doom for American cans who have found something society. How materialism will compelling in the holiday besides the birth of dominate our culture and destroy Christ. The trend it from the inside out. How, because yes, we do want the latis unsurprising est PlayStation, we’re destined given the comto become mindless vegetables, mercialization consuming and consuming and of the holiday. losing sight of what it means to be human. This is a little bit extreme. American dependence on the availability of retail products is a discussion for another day. It has benefits and detriments like any paradigm shift, but it is not so extreme that we can’t embrace it in everyday life. So what is my beef with holiday consumerism? It isn’t just the consumerism, and I certainly don’t mind the holidays – but the two make for a dismal combination. Holidays, especially those that MAGGIE MCCLAIN fall on the magical dates between December 1st and the New Year, are rare occasions indeed. A family scattered far and wide may take the opportunity to gather together for an uncommon period Retailers haven’t limited themselves to Christmas, though. of unity. A group of friends may finally find time to spend time Hanukkah, a relatively minor with each other and appreciate holiday on the Jewish religious their mutual support. A casual calendar, has grown to possess a pomp more reminiscent of Christ- observer might make a special connection to religion. Holidays mas’ place in the Christian faith. are a break from the tedium of Traditionally, gifts for the eightthe grind, and a reminder of hope day holiday are small trinkets and goodness in the past, present, such as books or games rather and future. than expensive gadgets. Instead of hunching over my In America, however, Christmas wish list this December, chewing gift-giving is virtually imposthe end of my pencil in frustrasible to ignore, and so too are the tion, I hope to be able to spend advantages to children – who some more time with the people I wouldn’t want more free stuff? This pressures those who celebrate love. The haze of sales, presents, and cards that the Hallmarks Hanukkah to step up their game. of retail industries cast over In many families, the traditional the season paints an alarming “gelt” (money coins) have been replaced with wallet-denting gifts picture, at odds with everything the holidays should stand for. We in the interest of fairness. should put our energies toward The gift-giving mania that making memories, not accumusurrounds our modern-day lating gadgets. Christmas doesn’t end its sphere And in the meantime, have of influence there; the unbridled yourself a merry little Christmas. consumerism we have embraced permeates every aspect of our a little bit more.” As the little doe-eyed boy reveals to the audience in any successful feel-good holiday flick, Christmas – from a secular perspective – is really about reflection, giving thanks, and taking joy in the people in your life.


December 19, 2013

Opinions B2

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Should students be arrested for cyberbullying? GRACE WOODWARD

NO:

YES: ZEKE WAPNER

Maya Habash

Arresting cyberbullies sends a message that the consequences are real.

The third leading cause of death among youth in the United States is suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), each year in the U.S., approximately 2 million teens attempt suicide. Unfortunately, Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-yearold girl from Florida, was one recent victim. Sedwick took her own life on September 10th after being bullied by peers. Shortly after Sedwick’s suicide, 14-yearold Guadalupe Shaw posted on Facebook: “Yes ik I bullied REBECCA and she killed herself but IDGAF” (sic). But these actions cost a 12- year-old girl her life, and tragedies like this must be addressed. The stereotypical “bully:” a jock; tall and handsome; always accompanied by his posse of popular friends. But with an increasingly technological world comes a shift in the stereotype. Bullying no longer only takes place in the schoolyard, and it no longer carries the image of merely namecalling and pushing around in the hallways. This generation, born into the age of the computer and the smartphone, has access to all different types of social media. Interactions over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr have supplanted tedious “real-world” conversations. And through these digital outlets, the bully isn’t just the buff jock anymore. Anyone can be a bully. Bullying others online provides an outlet for people to abuse others without feeling responsible for their actions and without feeling as if there are consequences. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice, cyberbullying is the repeated use of information technology to “deliberately harass, threaten, or intimidate others.” When online acts involve threats of violence, child pornography, or invading privacy via photo or video taking, it should be reported to law enforcement as a case of criminal harassment. And a cyberbully should be treated as any other criminal. Arresting a teen for cyberbullying is an effective method for dealing with the situation; a cyberbully, like any criminal, must face the consequences of his or her actions. When these actions go unpunished, we are sending the dangerous message to kids that the laws of the real world do not extend into cyberspace. Not only do 2 million teen suicide attempts occur each year in the US, but according to a study in Great Britain, at least half of successful suicides that occur among young people are directly related to bullying. Cyberbullying is currently relatively easy to get away with, as many cases go

unknown to parents or trusted adults because the bully clearly will not admit to anything, and the bullied is often too embarrassed or nervous to speak up. On top of being easy to get away with, cyberbullying also has the capacity to escalate quickly because the consequences seem distant when the interaction is impersonal. It is the responsibility of the parents to discipline the teen to restrain from making hateful remarks. As a supplemental force against bullying, schools should implement and strongly enforce anti-bullying initiatives. Students should be placed in an environment where they are comfortable expressing their issues and know that they will be dealt with efficiently. But if the schools aren’t taking the appropriate steps to stop the behavior, as is often the case, the police absolutely need to get involved. And while nipping it in the bud would be the ideal solution, it is simply not happening. If nothing else, the police have the ability to stop bullies who are a danger to their peers from continuing their destructive behavior. In order to solve this bullying crisis in the long term, we must create awareness of the issue, but in the meantime, we need to have short-term, effective methods in place as well. These two bullies were arrested and charged for aggravated stalking, and more bullies need to be stopped in their tracks in this manner before any more lives are taken. Under Rebecca’s Law, proposed in Florida, after 12-year-old Sedwick committed suicide, all bullies would be criminally punished for their conduct, because, as of right now, the state of Florida has a statute that prohibits bullying, but there are no punishments under the act. Earlier this year, Maryland passed Grace’s Law, after Grace McComas, a high school sophomore from Howard County, took her own life after repeated online bullying. Under Grace’s Law, bullying a minor through a computer or smartphone would warrant up to a $500 fine or one year in prison. Without legal punishment, teens will continue to develop destructive mentalities and never learn that their vicious actions have widespread consequences. Arresting bullies is a tried and true method for expressing the idea that abusive behavior is by no means acceptable, whether that be in the real world or behind the computer screen.

“Students should be punished because it’s abusive to the victims.”

Kaiyin Mazyck Sophomore

Elias Gonzalez Senior

Putting children in jail is ineffective. Adults should be the ones to blame. Children are born into this world knowing nothing. They acquire their knowledge, ideals, and beliefs through their environment and the people that surround them. If a child is selfish, most adults will teach them to share. If a child is mean, most parents will teach them to be nice. Bullies are not born; they are created. If a child physically or mentally abuses another child, parents, educators, and politicians should step in to stop this behavior. If they don’t, those adults must be held accountable for the consequences of their failures. In the recent Rebecca Sedwick case, 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw and 12-yearold Katelyn Roman were arrested and charged with aggravated stalking for cyberbullying believed to cause 12-year-old Sedwick’s suicide. For this, they should face consequences, but criminal charges are extreme and inappropriate given the girls’ circumstances, and have since been dropped. These girls are too young to fully comprehend how harmful their actions can be, and the adults in their lives had a responsibility to teach and protect them, a responsibility which, in this case, they clearly failed to fulfill. Parents and school officials repeatedly ignored signs of any problems, and if anyone is to be held criminally accountable in this case, it should be them. Sedwick’s mother, Tricia Norman, was the one adult who did step up to protect her child, but sadly it wasn’t enough. Initially, Norman reported the bullying to her daughter’s school, yet no adequate action was taken. In the face of this failure, Norman moved her daughter to another school, but the bullying persisted to the point where the worried mother was forced to pull Rebecca out of school altogether and homeschool her. Had Shaw or Roman’s parents taken action to prevent and punish their daughters’ bullying at any point during this long, public affair, Sedwick might still be alive. Putting these two girls in jail is the wrong punishment at the wrong time. It doesn’t save Rebecca Sedwick and it does nothing to teach the bullies about the harmful effects their abuse can have. There is clear evidence that arresting children like Shaw and Roman is ineffective as far as ensuring the children are rehabilitated. A recent 10-year study by the Bureau of Crime Statistics in Australia found that of the 4,938 juveniles that came before their courts between 1999-2010, over 2,600 re-offended. Doing time did little to deter more than half of these offenders from committing another crime. If we want

voicebox

“It’s the same thing as bullying person-toperson, so prosecute them.”

“Don’t punish them because it’s over the internet.”

Jordyn Bell Freshman

BEN SAFFORD

Alexis Redford

to put an end to bullying, we must seek another method. As Dr. Don Weatherburn from the Bureau of Crime Statistics stated, “It’s naïve to imagine that a young offender after years of involvement in crime will experience an ‘epiphany’ and suddenly become law abiding.” The solution ought to begin in the schoolhouse, not the prison. Schools can implement programs targeted at raising awareness and defining exactly what kinds of actions constitute cyberbullying. School counselors and teachers need to be trained to identify, prevent, and punish bullying online as they would bullying in the actual school. Complaint mechanisms can be developed for victims and reporting procedures for witnesses. Ultimately, schools need to ensure that they create a safe environment for students. Shaw and Romans’ parents aren’t off the hook either though. They claimed to have been monitoring their daughters’ online activity while the bullying was happening. Obviously the prevention or punishment of extreme abuse wasn’t emphasized here. It is plain to see how young children can slowly develop the kind of destructive mentality that fosters cyberbullying when their adult role models see no need to step in and put a stop to their harmful actions. Perhaps even more shocking are the failures of Shaw’s parents in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Shaw’s parents continued to let their daughter use social networks even after she posted insensitive comments about Sedwick’s death online. This sends the message to a young child that there is nothing wrong with their actions, and it allows him or her to continue to use the medium for their abuse. As columnist Lisa Fogarty stated when discussing this case, “if you know your child is abusing drugs and you continue to provide him with a pipe and lighter, you’re contributing to the delinquency of your child.” Sedwick’s death provides a clear example of how our culture has come to accept hateful and destructive speech online simply because it is deemed impersonal. Sedwick’s story must inspire a national dialogue about the consequences of bullying and what we as a nation should do to prevent this crisis. The choices are stark: we can put our resources into jailing thousands after they’ve harmed their peers, or we can save countless lives by using these resources to implement programs that prevent harms before they occur. The children in America deserve attention, not arrest.

“It’s worse to have an anonymous person attack someone, so punish it the same.”

Cynthia Liu Sophomore

ZEKE WAPNER

KYRA SEIGER

Alex Alia Junior

“Punish them because cyberbullying can lead to suicide and it’s just another form of bullying.”


B3 Opinions

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December 19, 2013

How your online activity affects your acceptance chances A comprehensive guide to preparing for the background research of college admissions officers An opinion

Facebook and been assaulted by a series of old middle school photos with a blue box around your face asking “Is this you?” Facebook developers have been working diligently to perfect this facial recognition software to a degree where they may soon be able to identify the site’s ap pl users in any reasonably i clear photo. While the findings of this software are private as of now, there’s no telling who or what could eventually have access to this face-finding device. Even deleting photos or statuses may not be foolproof, since it’s impossible to control screenshots or saved versions of deleted content. While these spring-cleaning strategies might work sometimes, the only completely effective way to hide this content is to never create it at all. Morgan Russell, the former associate director of the University of Maryland Honors College, warns students of the dangers of social media even beyond college admissions. “Don’t put anything in writing or on the internet that you wouldn’t be comfortable

k pages. boo ace s' F nt ca

It’s about 10:30 p.m. on a late January night and while you’re sleeping, a college admissions officer is reading through your application. Your GPA and SAT scores are well above the standards of the institution, and your essay was more than impressive. However, as he is Googling your name to see if you really won the “MCPS Student of the Year” award, he stumbles across your Twitter account. Hundreds of expletive-ridden tweets and pictures of you drinking from red cups and blowing smoke into the camera lens turns his excitement at your application into disappointment. To him, it’s just another unfamiliar name crossed off his list. To you, it’s a heartbreaking rejection letter and a lost four years at your dream school. For kids, the idea of reading through someone’s online profile without knowing them is called “stalking” and is considered pretty creepy. Yet, when college admissions officers are the ones stalking, it’s called “background research” and is considered a fair way to evaluate character. And, to make things worse, this ball of college creeping is rolling faster and faster and won’t be easy to stop. A 2013 poll by Kaplan College Prep found that 31% of college admissions officers do this kind

of background research on their teachers. This was all it took for prospective students. This is more the student to be rejected by the than triple what it was in 2008. selective college. As a high school student today, “Untagging” yourself from it is safe to say that your online photos might take them off your profiles will be reviewed at some point in the college application rs admit to vis ffice itin process. o s g n In our health education o i s s classes, we’re told that i “abstinence is the dm only 100% effective method.” This is a good policy not just for birth control, but also for online profile sanitization. Social networks offer ways to erase or obscure your digital trail, but nothing is perfect. Some people see their privacy settings as a brick wall to protect all their content, but this is hardly the case. Even if the content on your profile is visible only GRACE WOODWARD to friends, the reposting or sharing of this content may be viewed by profile, anyone, whether this sharing is but they are still blatantly visiintentional or not. ble on the profiles of friends or The New York Times mentions when scrolling through the rest an instance in which an underof the album in which they were graduate at Pitzer College in Claposted. Also, manual tagging and remont, Calif. who was Facebook un-tagging may soon become friends with a certain applicant, irrelevant as science fiction-like sent the admissions office an identification software continues offensive post that the student had to develop. made about one of his high school Have you ever logged into

26% of col leg ea

By Wesley Hopkins

with your grandmother, mother, or future employer seeing,” she suggests. Although Russell refrained from spying on students’ online profiles when she reviewed applications, she acknowledges that this is not always the case, especially when it comes to future employment. “There aren’t any strict guidelines for private employers, and they will use whatever means they wish to evaluate you. You have to be ready for the next step.” All things considered, people should have the right to privacy online. Social media is meant to be a way to express thoughts and opinions, share events and photos, and reconnect with friends. College is supposed to be an academic experience, and students should be judged on the academic credentials and achievements that they include on their application. Being an admissions officer is not an entitlement to intrude beyond this point. There’s no reason to fret too much, though. Colleges have to look through thousands of applications; they have enough work to do without conducting a thorough stalking session on every potential student. And you can still be yourself online. Just don’t be that guy whose profile picture features a beer, a joint, and a Chief Keef caption and there should be no reason to worry.

The evolution of language is literally tearing us apart The ‘literally’ epidemic is taking over both our dialect and our minds By Naomi Weintraub Humor Literally: lit•er•al•ly. Adverb, formal meaning in a literal manner or sense; exactly. Oxford English Dictionary recently made some accommodations to our constantly evolving English language. Along with adding the word “selfie,” the dictionary made an addendum to its definition of the word ‘literally’. Literally: lit•er•al•ly. Adverb, informal used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true. This new and improved definition is essentially the exact opposite of what the word ‘literally’ actually means. Is this what our English language has come to? Since the younger generation is usually at the head of such movements, I decided to observe some of my peers in their natural habitat. “I literally died from laughter,” giggled a student as she walked, completely

alive, down the hallway. “It literally took me 100 hundred years to write this essay,” said the 16-yearsyoung student bouncing into class. “I literally exploded with joy,” thundered the completely intact student talking to his friend. They are literally contradicting themselves each time they sigh their exaggerated exclamations. Now, don’t bury your head in embarrassment after saying that your last class “literally bored you to death,” when you simply didn’t feel stimulated by the lesson. Many a grammarian makes this mistake. Even literary classics blunder the formal use of this word. As highlighted in an article on Slate.com by Jesse Sheidlower, Mark Twain once described Tom Sawyer to be “literally rolling in wealth,” when indeed he was not tumbling on stacks of dough. When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that Jay Gatsby “literally glowed,” he did not mean that Gatsby was transformed into a neon glow stick. In “Little Women”, Louisa May Alcott wrote that the completely dairy-less land “literally flowed with milk and honey.” With use of our newly extended and updated definition, Twain was simply stating that ole’ EVA SHEN Tom was stackin’ a lot of money. Writers want to use imagery to appeal to a reader’s five senses, and using ‘literally’ is an easy way to relay the exaggerated images, while not actually using hyperbole or analogy. Fitzgerald clearly knew better than to say that slick Gatsby was actually glowing,

because obviously humans can’t glow, and Alcott obviously realized that the land didn’t have lactic products flowing through it, but both writers used this word because of its ability to exaggerate without exasperating. Despite the extension of the definition of this adverb, the grammar police in me can’t help but think that our generation, that of the ‘hash tag’ and ‘LOL’, has fallen to a ‘literally’ epidemic. We no longer understand the weight of what we are saying, and in emphasizing everything, we emphasize nothing. Our generation is one EVA SHEN of blossoming potential, one that is going to grow up to be the next leaders of our world. We will be the activists of our century, having, “like”, dreams, and making, “like”, change, “ya know?” We will lead nations with speeches that end with swinging questions? We will attach disguised question marks to our critical statements and rant on about our aggressively decided opinions with uncertainty and confusion. Our run-on sentences will have run-on sentences. We will all have tickets for trains of thought on tracks to nowhere. We will hashtag our speeches, like #activism #thisismyspeech #likeyaknow? #iliteral-

lycan’tlivewithouthashtags. If we want to be a generation that is taken seriously, we must pull ourselves out from this inarticulate ditch of contradictions. As Zac Efron (basically the spokesperson of this generation) once said, “We’re all in this together.” So next time you see a student use the word ‘literally’ informally, exclaiming that their mouth is “literally on fire” as they bite into flaming hot Cheetos, offer them a helping hand. Instead of quickly shooting them down for their lack of grammatical carefulness, teach them the error of their ways. Martha Brockenbrough, founder of National Grammar Day, said in an article on Boston.com that “the indiscriminate use of ‘literally’ as an intensifier also diminishes the originality of the speaker.” According to Brockenbrough, we are weakening our credibility as speakers and writers with every flick of our teenage tongues. Our generation has the ability to speak more than what is confined to a Twitter character count, or a #instagrammoment. When we misconstrue these definitions, we are taking the weight away from our words, and “like, ya know” saying things that we don’t actually “like, ya know” mean. Our uncertainty will no longer be tolerated as we slide into excessive question marks. We must not apologize for our EVA SHEN thoughts or question whether they are valid: they are. If we want to be taken seriously as a generation, we must start believing that we can be. We must speak with the conviction and seriousness that our ideas literally demand.


December 19, 2013

Opinions B4

silverchips

MCPS should extend funding for special education We cannot afford to shortchange Montgomery’s students with disabilities By William Zhu

An opinion

Where only first names appear, names were changed to protect the identity of sources Senior Emily’s younger brother Daniel was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. He attends school with the rest of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students, but he also relies on assistance from the county’s often-overlooked special education programs. According to MCPS’s website, special education is a system that is meant to accommodate students with disabilities of any kind in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilites Education Act (IDEA). “Special education is a broad term that describes the education of students who have intellectual, physical, behavioral or emotional disabilities,” reads the website. IDEA is a federal law that requires that all children with disabilities have the chance to receive free and adequate education. An MCPS document titled “Montgomery County Public Schools at a Glance” revealed that 10.9% of students, or about 16,216 of the county’s 148,779, receive special education services. However, the 2012 fiscal year operational budget indicated that the special education budget requested by the Board of Education was reduced by over $7 million from the previous year. Special education programs in the county are crucial for helping thousands of students with various disabilities attend school and overcome their challenges. Not only should funding to these programs not be cut, but it should be increased so that students who require special education services can receive the accommodations they need. Daniel began receiving special services when he was having trouble with the environment of the general education program,

especially in mingling with peers. “I could see he was struggling with the social aspects,” Emily recalls. She says that she sees how the special education program is helping Daniel with his disabilities and allowing him to take certain classes with the rest of the school. “It’s better than putting him in mainstream classes; he has electives with the rest of the school,” says Emily. Caleb, a junior whose brother, Roger receives special education in an MCPS high school, shares this view. Caleb and his family believe that the special

and 36 paraeducators for special education. According to Philip Burke, a professor of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE) at the University of Maryland, paraeducators are often trained to assist teachers in both special and general education programs. Special education programs, though, have more paraeduca-

the special education program over the years. “More programs are available to deal with disabilities,” stated Runner. However, he views the lack of funding to schools as a major failure in the special education program. “Schools hard hit financially cannot address the needs of students,” states Runner. He believes that schools must

The graduation rate for the 2011-2012 school year for special education students was 6.8%

There are 13 special education teachers and 8 paraeducators at Blair education program is better-suited for Roger. “We are very happy that he is now in special education,” Caleb says. However, he also notes that the programs cannot address the specific needs of students whose disabilities are not as severe, such as Roger, who has high-functioning autism. “Often times kids with fairly severe disabilities are lumped together with kids whose disabilities are not so severe, which forces the teachers to teach to the lowest common denominator,” says Caleb. In order for each student to be able to learn at his or her own pace, there must be adequate resources and staff to cater to the needs of students at different levels. One initiative the county is focusing on to this end is adding more paraeducators to the special education programs. There are plans in MCPS’s 2014 Operating budget to provide funding for 52 additional teachers

There are 190 people enrolled in the Special Education program at Blair NAOMI WEINTRAUB

tors and lower student-to-teacher ratios in order to accommodate individual needs. Caleb sees the current special education program in MCPS as a move in the right direction, but says that more improvements and funding are needed. Caleb expresses the need for more countywide focus on special education so that students like Daniel can have their individual needs better addressed. “MCPS may not have a lot of money to spare, but making those with disabilities suffer for it is not the right way to do things,” says Caleb. Tim Runner, an education advocate who represents children with special needs, notes both improvements and declines in

improve their special education programs. “School districts are going to need to step up to offer the programs that kids need,” says Runner. Most people agree that the current special education programs are working under the right idea, but in these times when money is tight we must continue to provide adequate funding for special education programs. With enrollment expected to increase in the future, more and more students like Daniel and Roger will be relying on special education services to achieve the same goals that students a across the county wish to achieve: the knowledge and skills for the future.


B5 Soapbox

silverchips

Chips Pics:

December 19, 2013

Want to be featured in the next Soapbox? Follow @Silver_Chips on Twitter and respond to any of our #soapbox questions in full sentences. If your response is creative or interesting, your tweet could be picked for the next cycle’s Soapbox! We will credit you with your name, your grade and your Twitter handle.

Chips Index: PHUONG VO

#roboticsteam

COURTESY OF STEREOGUM.COM

COURTESY OF HUDANDFORECLOSURES.COM

#favoriteartist

#consumerism

What non-athletic team would you be interested in joining?

see page C4

“The smart snacks club! It was created by a fellow senior and is for a great cause. Inspiring!” - senior Fiona Lachman @Just_fizzle “Chess Club. It’s a mental sport and still requires the same amount of strategy and thinking as a regular sport.” - freshman Lawrence Zhao “The math squad...All they do is get dubs.” - senior Wynston Reed @ WynstonReed

Do you think MCPS should give Muslim holidays see page A4 off? “Whether or not MCPS gives Muslim holidays off should depend on the population. If MCPS has a large Muslim population and a lot of these students will be missing school on those religious holidays, then yes MCPS should.” - junior Kassia Lacroix “Of course. It is only fair that all religions get the same treatment. It’s not fair for Muslim students who have loads of makeup work because they missed school to celebrate their holidays.” - junior Nicolas Koch-Gallup “Absolutely. It’s embarrassing that MCPS doesn’t already give days off.” - senior Mattan Berner-Kadish @MatBerKad

Would you be interested in taking a women’s studies elective? see page A1 “Yeah I think so because it would be empowering to learn about strong women in history!” - freshman Becca Aitken “Maybe. It seems interesting but it really depends on who is teaching it.” - junior Camilla Arias @_CamAndCheese “Yes, because I believe in gender equality and I think women have done important things that should be emphasized.” - junior Ronny Menendez

Blair’s high jump record is 6 feet and 1 inch A mall Santa earns $9,000 on average during the holiday season The Silver Spring ice rink is 105 feet long and and 60 feet wide

42.1% of Blazers support a later school start time 40 schools in MCPS are named after famous people There are approximately 70 people on the Blair debate team Chips Index compiled by Aditi Subramaniam with assistance from Eleanor Harris, Keana Hutton, Brian Le, Winne Luo, Divya Rajagopal, Greer Turner, Arthi Vijayjumar and Amanda Wessel

What artist is getting you through this winter?

see page D5

“Lana Del Rey. Her soul is so deep.” - senior Karla Flores “Rise Against, because, unlike other artists, their lyrics have meaning.” - freshman John Lathrop “Ed Sheeran is getting me through winter (and every other season).” freshman Oreena Monrose “I am currently listening to a lot of Vampire Weekend.” - sophomore Alex Mangiafico

Do you think commercialization is overshadowing significance of the holidays? see page B1 “I think it has. People shouldn’t be working on holidays, they should be with families.” - sophomore Tyler Kang “I feel that commercialization is not overshadowing holidays but is instead being incorporated into them. Commercialization surrounds holidays but the actual days are left alone.” - junior Bennet McGlade “Yes. People spend far too much time thinking about what presents they are going to get rather than being thankful for what they already have.” - junior Rachel Sobey-Strick


Opinions B6

silverchips

December 19, 2013

THEN:1961

My Blair: Personal Column

The stresses of the Blair parking lot By Dillon Sebastian Editor-in-Chief

COURTESY OF 1961 SILVERLOGUE

CHEMISTRY Students experiment with chemicals in the science lab in 1961.

& NOW:2013

LEILA BARTHOLET

EXPLOSIVE Senior Ruby Taylor and juniors Javier Lopez and Sarah Aitken practice titrations in the third floor laboratory.

my mind any of the possible reasons that parents would choose to use this student The drive to school is always a pleasparking lot rather than the drop-off parkant one. The crisp morning air, the engine ing lot on Colesville Road. In my frusof my car rumbling to a start, the sound tration, I finally come to my spot in the of the morning radio shows pouring so misprinted lot and I am able to squeeze nicely out of the speakers, the rolling hills my tank of a car into the next curve of the of Piney Branch road and the rising bright loop. But still so far from my final destiorange sun. It’s the little things that make nation. I watch the half broken clock on the short 12-and-half minute moment so my dashboard slowly change from 7:22 lovely. Even better is the smooth drive into to 7:23 and I know that the sound of the the uncongested, empty, forgiving, easy bell ringing throughout the parking lot is and quiet Montgomery Blair parking lot. the sound of impending doom for many Rewind, that was all a lie. The drive to student parkers and we rush to arrive at school is always an unpleasant one. The the closing doors. freezing cold wheel bites at my skin, the As I finally reach my 137 spot, I engine of my car only means the long day slam the car in park and bolt. Half way of school is officially inevitable, the sound through the bus drop off area the final of the barking radio announcers jabs like a bell sounds. I have lost the battle between spear into my still resting ears, the hills on me and the parking lot merry go round. Piney Branch road make my stomach turn I look back and relive those painful eight upside down and the rising bright orange minutes as if I will never see them again sun is just a little too bright for my mornand wonder why I pay thirty eight dollars ing eyes. It’s the little things that make the and fifty cents for this crap. short twelve-and-half minute moment not short enough. Even better is the horribly bumpy drive in the congested, filled, unforgiving, difficult and loud Montgomery Blair parking lot. On a typical school day I will enter the parking lot at 7:15 am. Considering that at that time I am less than 100 yards away from school, it should take less than two minutes to stroll leisurely into the building. False. Another eight minutes will go by before I even think about pulling into my 137 spot. Over the course of the year, the parking lot traffic pattern has morphed itself into a rotating loop, which for the most part is not rotating but stagnant. Upon entering the concrete depths of hell, a division is created between those cars looking to loop around the far turn and take a turn at the close break in the median. Both are doomed for congestion as the later end of the loop is connected right to the start of it. As we approach closer and closer to 7:25, the number of LEILA BARTHOLET parents who look to drop off their kids for school ROAD RAGE Senior Dillon Sebastian and juniors Zeke Wapincreases and renders the ner and Naomi Weintraub giggle as they try to enjoy the usurotation motionless. ally unforgiving and frustrating parking lot. I attempt to rack in

Up and Coming December 23rd-31st Winter Break

January 20th No School, Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 1st No school, New Years Day

January 21st No School, Professional Day

Student & Teacher Awards & Honors Blair’s Latin Dance Team compeated in the MCPS Latin Dance Competition at Strathmore Hall. Blair math teacher, Kristin Werdann is a Class Nobel Educator of Distinction Award recipient. Senior Minu Bidzimou is Blair’s recepient of the POSSE Scholarship.

Junior Dennis Zhao competed in the national finals of Who Wants To Be A Mathematician. Seniors Dana Cook and Samuel Bolgiano were finalists in the Smithsonian Incredible Bionic Man Challenge. Juniors Sean Nair and Ashwin Ojha won the Outstanding Delegate Award in their committee at the William and Mary High School Model United Nations Conference.


B7 Editorials

December 19, 2013

silverchips

Controversy over Blair Assassin game misses the mark Exams, college applications, late-night essays. These are some things that unite the Blazer population. Sound a little dreary? Well, that’s high school for you. But every year, we have one glimmer of hope. One game that brings together Blazers of all grades, programs and academies. Assassin. The rules of the game are as follows: a group of people sign up and then each person is assigned a target who they have to “kill.” Each person also has an assassin (though they are not told who it is) who is trying to “kill” them. The exact rules on how to make a kill change from year to year, but this year to students have to touch their target, say the phrase “your a** is grass and I’m the lawnmower,” and count to five. If no one calls “witness” during the count, the target is out of the game and the assassin starts tracking that person’s target. The game continues until one lucky Blazer can claim victory. To players, it is all one fun, complex, exciting game of strategy. Assassin is a test of endurance and wits that pushes Blazers to the limits of their cunning and paranoia, as elaborate schemes unfold throughout the school at all hours. But what seems normal to us as a longstanding tradition seems like an extremely harmful practice to some.

A mutual misunderstanding between the Blair community and the media has recently rocketed Blair’s Assassin game into the public eye. After an article was published on the online version of Silver Chips on Dec. 1 explaining the rules of Assassin and strategies for surviving the game, a maelstrom of confusion ensued, culminating in the publication of a Washington Post article, both on the newspaper’s website and in the Metro section of its print edition. Post reporter Donna St. George profiled Assassin and described the actions of the Blair student body as insensitive given the alarming recent trend of school shootings. Hundreds of Blair students, parents and graduates commented on the article, criticizing St. George for sensationalizing a school tradition and attempting to link games like Assassin to violent behavior in youths. Under all the frenzy lies the fact that contributors on both sides of the argument have made valid points. St. George’s concern that the lighthearted use of terms such as “target” and “assassin” are inappropriate is understandable due to events that have everyone on edge like the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School one year ago. In the article, the game’s proximity to the anniversary of Sandy Hook is one of the major points highlighted by St. George.

Is she is too quick to draw parallels between the game and real-world violence in her story? Perhaps. Is she sensationalizing a story that never should have blown up in the first place? Probably. But many student responses were insulting or overreactionary, which was not fair to St. George. Frankly, though many students made valid points, the overly defensive, angry responses weakened the argument of those defending the game. While the game is certainly unifying, and a welcome distraction from school-related stresses, we must always consider how our actions may be perceived by someone from the outside looking in. Though the game seems normal in the Blair bubble, and even within the communities of other schools that play their own version of the game, we have to be able to see how Assassin can be alarming to those unfamiliar with it. It’s easy to see how the name, the terms used, and the concept behind the game can all be alarming to those who take it out of context. This being said, if the game is not making students within the Blair community uncomfortable and it is not disrupting the learning environment, then we should not allow outside voices to dissuade us from continuing a tradition that has had so many positive effects on the Blair student body.

ANTARES CHEN

Corrections The art on B5 should have been credited to Maggie McClain. The statistic in the AFI Theatre feature should read “more than 80,000 students and teachers have been hosted at the theatre,” instead of 65,000.

At the same time, we have to be willing to accept criticism and at least attempt to step back and examine our own actions from an objective point of view.

Do you have any feedback or see any mistakes? Let us know. E-mail the editors at silver.chips.print@gmail.com

Staff opinions get published; it’s nothing personal By Langston Cotman Last year, we at Silver Chips installed the personal column section of our paper, a platform intended to allow our staff writers to voice their opinions on a variety of issues. Whether dissecting the primal tendencies of a bromance that cause two men to gravitate toward each other or analyzing experiences at Blair as a transgendered student, this column is meant to provide insight into the lives and minds of our staff members. We don’t want Silver Chips to be perceived by our readers as a stoic news machine, churning out pertinent journalism every six weeks. This paper has a staff comprised of vivacious personalities that don’t always shine through in a news piece or a feature story on the recent rise in vulgar bathroom graf-

LEILA BARTHOLET

Ombudsman Langston Cotman

fiti. In short, we want our readers to become better acquainted with the people creating the paper. Soon after distributing our most recent issue of Silver Chips, we received multiple letters regarding the validity of that cycle’s personal column. The column in question was titled “The Grievances of a Couch Potato” and was written by Isaac Jiffar, our op-ed editor and one of the finest samaritans ever to grace these halls. He expressed qualms with his experience in a Physical Education class here at Blair, arguing that he didn’t think students will walk away from a Blair P.E. class with an understanding of the importance in maintaining an active lifestyle, the intended purpose of these classes. His take was funny, coherent and most important it was his opinion. We were fully within our rights

running this story. This article ran in the Op/Ed section and therefore was allowed to express an opinion. It was not an editorial like the lead editorial, an unnamed piece that reflects the beliefs of the paper of the whole, or the Ombudsman column that you are currently reading and therefore was allowed to reflect the writer’s opinion. It was also a personal column, which unlike other opinion piece reflects the writer’s interpretation of a certain event or, in this case, his gym class. Through Jiffar’s eyes, general P.E. classes do not spend enough time teaching the importance of exercise in the classroom. Other Blazers may have different interpretations on the ratio of class time to play time, but the purpose of this column was to reflect Jiffar’s and any other students who agree with him.

Moreover, Jiffar concedes that he understands the importance of exercise. He even says that his opinion may be that lazy whiner that carries little merit. His selfdeprecation and feigned ignorance mainly serve to make the readers chuckle at his overhanded bitterness. Jiffar is a funny guy and this piece reflects his capacity to produce pedantic satire. You may not agree with him and you may not find his piece funny, but it still deserved its place in last month’s paper. We appreciate the response we received on this piece and urge readers to send us more feedback. Starting now. Comments or concerns? Email the Ombudsman at ombudsmansilverchips@gmail.com

Letter to the editor: The grievances of a couch potato By Robert McMahon and John MacDonald The article [“The grievances of a couch potato”, Nov. 7] was obviously a personal opinion. However, I have trouble understanding the reasoning behind the opinion and exactly what the author feels is lacking in his physical education class. The first paragraph ends with a question “So we can justify a lack of any physical activity over the three years we don’t take P.E.?” I start my rebuttal with a question. Who is the “we”? Many students at Blair opt to take PE all four years they are in high school. The second paragraph asks if PE can inspire students to exercise or be active when not taking the class. The mission of Blair PE department is for students to enjoy being physically active and learn skills to stay active for the rests of their adult lives. Can one truly be successful if not in optimal health? This is why we take the time at the beginning of each semester to make internal schedule changes for anyone that is not happy with the physical education class they chose. The point of having Specialty PE’s electives is so every student can learn more about what they are

interested in. The more students that can be accommodated equates to higher success rate and being physically active throughout high school (as well as life). The author goes on in that paragraph to generalize that there is only physical activity and little education in PE classes. To me this statement is a mystery, not because I feel we have a great PE staff at Blair High School (We do!), but simply because of the curriculum we teach in Blair weight training classes. Almost every class is sectioned into a classroom lesson portion, a different type of warmup activity (that most of the time coincides with the lesson), and a personalized weight lifting workout. Before the workout portion ever starts students are required to learn safety, vocabulary, anatomy and what each piece of equipment is for and how it is used. I think (not real sure because it isn’t clear) this is what the author is asking for. Somehow with more knowledge he would become better motivated? Although he claims the media has already given him this knowledge. He knows it’s beneficial…but that is not enough? I’m not sure that get-

ting into specifics of how lower VO2 max scores correlate to lower immunity and increased illnesses would then encourage him to enjoy his four warm-up laps, but perhaps it would. I’m not sure there is time before every warm-up to teach exactly what muscles you are working and what else you use those muscles for in life. There is a lot of physiology involved. However, the Blair PE department has planned to incorporate more individualized fitness testing into each PE class curriculum next semester. Although the health related components of fitness were probably taught to the author his sophomore year in Health class, I don’t really think these are viable solutions either. John Macdonald, long time Health and PE teacher as well as alumni of Blair High School, teaches that many young people can get away with poor exercise habits at this point in their lives without it showing up immediately with regard to their weight or overall health. Bad habits are much more difficult for us to change as we get older because metabolism and lifestyle slow down. The lack of exercise can then show up in blood

pressure, cholesterol levels, heart function, stamina, and a multitude of other health issues. If a student is not inspired with PE, perhaps his or her physician will fare better in thirty years. Macdonald points out that many students are inspired by physical education and feels that the article was unnecessary as well as insulting to hard working physical education professionals. The author signed up for a general PE class when there are several specialty PE Classes available to all (Weight Training, Advanced Weight Training, Basketball, Soccer, Dance, and Group Exercise). The Blair PE department has even been researching the possibility of adding additional classes if there is a demand. General PE has always been about teaching the basics of different sports in three week units as to introduce students to a variety of activities in an attempt to peek their interest. Perhaps the author could have taken the time to have researched what Blair has to offer or at least spoken with some students that enjoy their physical education classes before generalizing our schools’ and the county’s programs.

Even the most knowledgeable doctors and exercise scientists still need to find the drive and motivation to make exercise a habit. Something doesn’t become a habit until it is done continuously enough to become second nature Maybe this article speaks more to our county’s lack of Health and Physical Education requirements In my 39 years, I have seen these requirements decline significantly across the United States. Ask your teachers and parents about their physical education requirements when they were in high school We (meaning everyone that went to the small Pennsylvanian high school that I attended, not my entire generation) were required to have physical education for all four years and health for two Now of course there are a lot of other factors to consider, but we do have much higher obesity rates now than when I was a kid. My goal in writing this reply is not to preach more PSA’s to the author; I would simply like to invite him to sign-up for my weight training class next semester in an effort to educate as well as motivate (just as our entire department strives to do).


December 19, 2013

silverchips

Remembering Nelson Mandela

Specials B8

Blair community reflects on Mandela’s lasting legacy After a life dedicated to fighting apartheid, the institutional racism in South Africa, Nelson Mandela passed away on Dec. 5 after his battle with lung infection. The lawyer, activist and first black President of South Africa was the symbol of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and an international hero. He was laid to rest in his home town of Qunu on Sunday, Dec. 15, marking the resting place of the man Barack Obama referred to as the “last great liberator of the 20th century.” Below, we have collected several Blair staff reflections on his life and acheivements. For many of us in the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment was a potent symbol of the terrible injustice of apartheid. Mandela’s speech at the Rivonia trial, in which he turned the case again st h i m into a searing indictment of the aparth e i d system, was a h u g e source of inspiration and admiration. But what really blew us all away were his actions upon his release from prison in 1990. Given the denial of fundamental

By Pam Bryant

By Anne Manuel

Nelson Mandela is my personal hero because of his dignity, poise, and grace in the face of oppression, and denigration. His legacy is one of much more than overcoming an outside enemy, but of conquering all fear, from the inside-out, to become a symbol of love and forgiveness to the world. What I most admire about Mandela was his willingness to put his life on the line to free the Black South African people from a racist regime and the horrors of apartheid. While someone of lesser character would have used a 27 year imprisonment as an excuse to let hate and rancor consume them, Nelson Mandela, instead, clearly used the time to tap into his heart and soul, to see his enemy as himself, to end the illusion of separation, and to truly love his brother. And Mandela’s spiritual (my word not necessarily his) renaissance is another model for emulation. That a man who initially was an advocate of violence, if necessary, was able to transform into man of forgiveness, inclusivity, and peace is beyond remarkable. He continues to be a demonstration of the best of the human spirit and unlimited vision. Just imagine, a Black South African man never allowed to vote, imprisoned for 27 years, and then becomes the president of the very country that did everything to deny him. Where does this ever happen? It happens in the hearts and minds of all who believe in the tenants of justice for all and then it spreads like a wild fire called Nelson Mandela. I am grateful for Nelson Mandela’s example of truth and freedom. I am grateful that his life is a template for all of us on how we get to show up in this world. I am grateful for the blessing known a s Nelson Mandela whose contribution to the world continues to reverberate throughout the universe.

When I was in college in the late 1970s, anti-apartheid activism was at the center of our political consciousness. Students at Wesleyan University, the school I attended, were very active in support of a campaign seeking to convince universities and other large institutions to divest their portfolios from any companies doing business in South Africa. We held marches, teach-ins, and demonstrations, eventually occupying the university president’s office. The process culminated many years later when Wesleyan fully divested its holdings from companies doing business in South Africa.

By Vickie Adamson

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for protesting Apartheid the year I was born; and I felt somehow, small, lesser, unworthy, because I did not know him. Of course, Nelson Mandela was not included in any of the curriculum I studied. I’m not even sure how many of my high school teachers knew who he was. He was in jail, not on television. He was hidden away for his radical views and threatening ideas that black people in South Africa deserved freedom, that they would not be oppressed and enslaved, that 90% of the people would not be relegated to 10% of the nation’s resources, living in shanty towns; while the white people lived well, benefited, and thrived because of the racist government. Nelson Mandela believed that all people are created equal; that all people are deserving of dignity; that all people need to be a part of the dream of world peace. Because of the power of this man—from behind bars, and from another continent—it

Today, people world-wide mourn one of the greatest men who ever lived, Nelson Mandela. Further, I am positive that every Blair student knows of Nelson Mandela, or Madiba, as people affectionately call him. However, I recall that more than 30 years ago when I first went to UCLA, I had never heard of this great man that some even held in infamy. Other UCLA students on campus were wearing “Free Nelson” T-shirts, and I finally summoned the courage to ask, “Who’s That?” [Nelson sounded like the name of a “brotha” from around the way, somebody I might know. Why was this Nelson on his own T-shirt?] Some of the more “sophisticated” and older students scoffed at my ignorance. “Nelson Mandela, of course,” they said with more than a hint of snobbery. “He’s in jail, in South Africa.” But, I did not know.

“Education is the

most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

rights and dignity of black South Africans for decades, the apartheid regime’s efforts to sow ethnic division, the enduring racism of many white South Africans, and the fact that whites controlled the economy, a peaceful solution with any degree of justice for apartheid’s victims was by no means inevitable. It is largely a tribute to Mandela’s leadership that South Africa ended apartheid peacefully. Even after he chose not to run again for president, Mandela still showed incredible political courage in many areas – standing up for AIDs victims, even when it meant breaking ranks with his successor, Thabo Mbeki, is just one example. Part of what endlessly fascinates me about the man is how he could emerge from 27 years of prison without rancor towards his captors. The New York Times obituary said this was because he always considered himself superior to them. Mandela never allowed his oppressors to rob him of his dignity. Somehow that gave him incredible generosity. Lots of people say they will always remember where they were when some key historical event occurred – the Kennedy assassination, the moon landing, Sept. 11. One of my clearest memories was the day Nelson Mandela was released from jail. It was a Saturday. My husband and I were watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse with our two-year-old daughter. All channels were interrupted with news of Mandela’s release. We had known it was in the works, but it was still an unbelievably joyous moment. The immensity of his sacrifice was obvious just looking at his face: all our photographs of the young lawyer were barely recognizable in the elderly gentleman who emerged.

EVA SHEN

1918

was not long into my freshman year that I, too, came to know Nelson Mandela. I was a part of the protest effort to get ASUCLA—our student union—to divest from South Africa and to stop selling products from companies that did business with the Apartheid regime. I spent time in the tent city that sprang up outside of Murphy Hall—the center of UCLA administration (and even spent one night there) all to force the university to bring about change. It was a rapid transformation for me, someone who had once been in the dark only a short time earlier. I later learned that similar efforts were happening on college campuses across the United States. Many students were wearing T-shirts, educating others, and putting pressures on companies to divest. It was a widespread and unified effort to bring down a government built around institutionalized racism and based on legalized segregation.

1990

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is Mandela is from released Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Released prison born18 on July 18 born onis July from prison

1962

Mandelais isjailed jailedforfor Mandela fighting fightingaparthied apartheid

2013

Mandeladies diesononDecember December Mandela at the 5th5th at the ageage of 9595

1994

Nelson Mandela was released in 1991, after I had finished grad school, but I will never forget that first time I became aware of him. I certainly didn’t know it at the time, but freshman year was the beginning of me asserting myself as a part of the global village. I took a step towards knowing things outside of my, then, provincial life; I did so because I was willing to ask a question. We are history. We’re living history in each moment. And we don’t always see it or know that it’s happening. We simply have to know that we are fighting for justice when there is none. We have to be willing sometimes to speak for the voiceless. We have to be selfless and willing to make undeniable sacrifice and never lose hope when all seems hopeless. We can strive to be like Nelson Mandela. I did not know how he would change my life, but he did. He changed the world. Who was Nelson Mandela? He was my brother. He was everyone’s brother. Madiba.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” Nelson Mandela

Mandela becomespresident Mandela becomes of South AfricaAfrica president of South DESIREE ALIEBAR


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December 19, 2013

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Setting the record straight: the truth about lying An exploration of the lies Blazers tell, and why they think it is okay to tell them By Emily Daly Where only first names appear, names were changed to protect the identity of sources. Of course his parents will be at the party. I love your new dress! I’m actually Justin Timberlake’s third cousin. Lies. Everyone has told them. Most are just white lies, either to make someone feel better or to not hurt their feelings. Some are to make conversation flow better. But as all of us know, lies can easily grow to an insurmountable size. Blazers have lied about everything from whether they’ve done their homework to whether their sibling deals drugs. No matter the subject, we are taught that lies are bad, right? So why do we keep telling them? According to a 1977 University of Southern California study, the average person lies, or tells some sort of half-truth, at least twice a day and up to 200 times per day. Lying is common with everyone, but especially among teenagers, says Kathleen Smith, a clinical social worker in downtown Silver Spring who works with many teenage patients. “Teenagers lie. It’s a fact. Part of it is where they are developmentally, and they don’t know what to do in a situation,” she says. “One lie that’s really common is lying to make yourself sound better than you are—and that’s not just teens. Maybe it’s because you’re trying to protect yourself or someone who you don’t want to get in trouble.” Take Erica, a Blair junior, who still remembers a lie that she thinks she’ll keep with her for the rest of her life. “Probably the biggest lie I’ve ever told was basically to everybody I knew,” she says. The lie, which she kept up for three years, was about her brother dealing drugs. Her brother, a Blair graduate, stashed marijuana in his bedroom and sold it to his peers. “I found out when I was in seventh grade,” she says, “and at first I didn’t really think it was a big deal. I knew people at school smoked, and I had seen it before.”

How far is too far? The enormity of Erica’s situation dawned on her when her parents, and later people at her church and even teachers at Blair began to ask about her brother. “I told them he was above drugs and that I knew for a fact he wasn’t doing it, when I actually knew for a fact that he was,” she says. Erica says her brother fabricated a complicated story to cover his tracks, but was eventually found out when the family dog was sniffing around his room and found his marijuana stash. “That led to my mom searching his room, and basically him getting found out,” she says. After that, Erica admits that her parents’ trust in her declined, but that they understood why she had lied. “It was sibling code,” she reasons. “They get it.” Sometimes teens lie because they don’t think they have any choice or feel they need to lie to get what they want. For two years, Fernando Silva lived a lie so he could go to Blair; he would be a junior this year if his lie had not caught up with him. Starting as a freshman, Silva lied to the school about where he lived in order to continue going there. He lived in Prince George’s County, but gave his uncle’s Takoma Park address on school-related forms and went to Blair because he did not want to go to his home high school. “I did it for friends and education and sports,” Silva says. Although he was able to get away with

it for two years, Silva was caught on the first day of his junior year. The energetic boy says he was at first saddened that he had to leave Blair, but being caught in his lie ended up working to his advantage. At Blair, he played soccer and found he really enjoys the sport. His uncle was able to contact a friend in Honduras who arranged for Silva to try out for a soccer team there. Silva made the team, and now lives in the Central American country. Learning to lie Lying is a trait that often begins at an early age. According to a 2013 Psychology Today article, most children begin lying by age two or three. Telling lies at this young age actually shows a higher level of intelligence because the child’s brain is cognizant of the fact that what is being said is false, but realizes it will lead to a more beneficial outcome for the kid. With little kids, this higher purpose is normally to get out of a punishment. But as kids get older and learn the difference between right and wrong, lying becomes more of a game – and can become more of a

drug dealers in the county,” she says. Lies come in all sizes. Rowan Afflerbach, a junior, says that she’ll tell small lies and not feel bad about them. “This morning, I said I was in a different group than I actually was so I could be with a friend,” she says. Although these lies seem insignificant, this repetition of casual lying can lead to bigger and more substantial lies. “Kids learn t h e to lie from culture, which can persometimes be missive or turn

96% of teens admit to lying to their parents at least once

problem. If the cycle is not broken, teenage lying can become more prominent. A 2009 Penn State study found that 96 percent of high school students have admitted to hiding the truth from their parents before. Some say they actually pick up the habit from their parents. Maya, a junior remembers a time when her parents weren’t completely truthful. She had broken a new lawnmower by accidentally putting oil in the gas tank, but her dad took it back to the store and told the salesman he had no idea why the lawnmower wouldn’t work. She says that, though she has witnessed these half-truths many times before, she tells lies on her own accord. “My parents didn’t teach me to lie, I do it out of necessity,” she shrugs. “If I want to do something, I just have to do it because I know if I ask they’ll say no. Don’t ask permission, ask forgiveness,” she says. This attitude seems common among Blazers. “Unless someone’s going to die, we don’t tell our parents anything,” Erica says.

a blind eye,” Smith says. For example, how many politicians and other famous people have admitted to ly-

Tiny to titanic Susanne Bray, a counselor at Blair, says that over the years she and the other counselors have heard many tall tales, including those from students lying about where they live. “One time a student lied about his address, and they did a home visit and it turned out it was a Chinese restaurant,” she says, laughing. “That was one of the funnier ones.” Smith also has dealt with kids lying to her. She remembers a kid who had been having a lot of trouble in school, and had been coming to therapy for a long time. Smith tried to help him and talk him through the ordeal, though it did not go completely as planned. “Eventually it came out that he was one of the biggest

ing? From former p r e s i dent Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” to former president Bill Clinton’s de-

nial of his sexual relations with “that woman,” to cyclist Lance Armstrong’s repeated lies about taking performance enhancing drugs, adults have shown that they lie just as much as teenagers do. This environment of embellishment and outright lies leads to misled youth who begin to lie as well. Is lying okay? Those who lie don’t seem to spend much time regretting their mistruths. Despite the magnitude of the Erica’s and Silva’s lies, neither professes any guilt about them. Erica justifies her lie because she was protecting her brother. “It’s weird because I don’t necessarily ever feel guilty about it. I haven’t told a major lie since, but I mean I still do it to get out of things. But I don’t regret being by his side,” she declares. Erica affirms she would do it again in an instant, and Silva agrees he would as well. “Hell yeah,” he says. Erica argues that covering up for her brother was okay because she was protecting her family. Silva justifies his because he was getting a better education. Maya says it is the only way that she can do what she wants freely. Smith says psychologists sometimes have to work to get kids to be completely honest. “It’s hard to tell the whole truth because you have to reveal things that are very painful,” she says. N i c o l e Spiezio, a sophomore, does not agree with lies, but thinks they can be justifiable under special circumstances. “I think people should try to be honest, but if it is a matter of keeping someone safe, I think it’s o k a y, ” s h e says.


December 19, 2013

Features C2/C3

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On any given Wednesday evening at Montgomery Mall, you can find a lot of things: the click of expensive heels strutting through the women’s department of Nordstrom, decorative, holiday wreaths adorning the storefronts, and Santa Claus sitting in the food court, making balloon animals with a couple of friends. For Brad Higbee, Santa Claus is just a facet of the bigger role he plays all year – JesterMan, a magician-clown hybrid party entertainer for all types of events, from children’s birthday parties to business corporations.

Born this way Despite his Hawaiian print t-shirt and jeans, it’s hard to look at Brad Higbee without acknowledging the striking similarities between the man at the balloon table and the legendary Saint Nick. From the bleached hair to the jolly laugh, Higbee embodies the cultural icon, and even more so when he pulls on his Santa suit. For Higbee, this seemingly natural embodiment actually comes from years of experience. “I actually started doing magic when I was 13, and I started doing balloon art two years later when I started performing in public,” he explains. “And then a few years after that, I was a volunteer Big Brother [through the YMCA], and we needed a Santa for a party. And I thought, ‘Well, that would be a good add-on to my business,’ so I bought a suit back then when I was [20 or 21]. I had a fake beard back at that time. They call that a ‘designer beard,’” he laughs. Being a magician, running his entertainment company, AArdvark Entertainment, and being Santa have not been Higbee’s only jobs. “I’ve had a lot [of other jobs],” he says. “I’ve worked delivering copier machines and accessories, I’ve tried writing for a newspaper at one point, I did briefly telephone sales – or maybe I should just say telephone calls. I was talking to people – not doing many sales,” Higbee chuckles. Even when he wasn’t Santa Claus, Higbee still found an interest in working with kids on a personal and therapeutic level. “Even more than magic and balloons, there have been other careers that I’ve had that have focused on working with children,” Higbee, who holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in social work, says. “I’ve worked at schools as a substitute, and worked as a therapist. I’ve also worked at daycare centers and camps and things, so I’m kind of focused on families and children.” 15 years after leaving the Santa life behind, Higbee once again heard the call of the red Santa suit in 1997, working as a therapist and entertainer at an air force base in Japan. “A friend of mine, who was also an entertainer for the base, said that she was going to be doing pictures with Santa,” he says. “She dressed as Mrs. Claus…she asked if I would be Santa with her.” With Mrs. Claus, Higbee worked at public events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, as well as an orphanage and places for the developmentally challenged. Now, Higbee works at parties, malls, and makes home visits. For Ed Downey, who works at parties and makes home visits as Santa Ed, the transition to Santa Claus was different. Downey, who at 80 years old says he has held 286 jobs, was a social worker before he decided to switch. “I hated all the reports and proposals, and I hate writing, so I pretty much dropped out as a professional social worker,” he explains. “I grew a beard and then a friend of my ex-wife and daughter asked if I would be a Santa Claus for them and they would pay the rent…and I knew I’d love it, because as a social worker I was not a case worker. I was a group worker at community centers, YMCAs, and settlement houses.” Downey considers himself an “entertaining Santa.” He makes detailed, minute-by-minute plans of his events and gigs, and even scripts his different skits and jokes. “I get my cell phone and someone will be Mrs. Claus or an elf,” he says, explaining an example. “They’ll say, ‘you can’t put her on the nice list, she’s been naughty,’ and I’ll say, ‘Oh, thank you for letting me know,’ and hang up. And the responses are timed, so I know exactly how long the elf is going to talk,” he says. For Downey, the effort is necessary and pays off. “The more laughs I get, the more contracts I’ll get next year,” he explains. For Jonathan Meath, a children’s television producer in Cambridge, Massachusetts who produced Zoom, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, and other shows, he didn’t choose the Santa life – the Santa life chose him. “My beard went white and kids started calling me Santa,” he explains in an email. His wife even went along with the idea and bought him a suit on eBay. “I thought about it and realized that the jump from kids TV to Santa was actually very small,” he says. “I was simply moving from behind the camera to in front of the camera. It is very much like being a professional model.” In the professional modeling world of Santa Claus, Jonathan Meath is Gisele Bündchen. Meath has appeared on Good Morning America, Radio City Music Hall, the cover of Boston Magazine, as well as photo and video shoots and the traditional “sitting in the chair taking pictures with the children” public appearance. Meath says his favorite gigs are video shoots. “Film and video can

be almost anything and are always fun,” he says. One example is his appearance along with snowmen, an elf and an inflatable gingerbread man in Delta’s holiday-themed in-flight safety video. “That was a wonderful three-day shoot in Detroit,” Meath says.

Those crazy kids Some of Higbee’s most memorable moments come from his time spent as Santa one or two nights a year greeting the families of incoming soldiers at BWI Airport. “On one of the flights, this little boy [who] couldn’t have been older than three or four came out, saw me, said, ‘I didn’t expect you here!’ and ran over and gave me a big hug.” While some may think of crazy or silly things kids may ask for, Higbee likes to remember the kindhearted requests. “I have gotten a lot of requests for having Dad or Mom come home from either Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever else they might be,” he says. “Probably the most touching one is when they ask for something for someone else, not themselves…there have been several of those, probably, every year.” Downey does remember one particularly odd request. “The most unexpected wish [was from] a little girl, about six years old,” he says. “[I asked her,] ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ [and she replied,] ‘A garbage bag.’ I looked at her and I said, ‘That’s the first request for a garbage bag that I’ve had.’” Another especially odd request Downey remembers did not come from a child at all. “[A man from] the Ku Klux Klan calls me up. And they were going to have a rally, and they wanted me to come to their rally,” Downey recounts. “Then he kept on going, ‘And we’ll pay you an extra thousand dollars if we let you shave you head,’ [so] Santa Claus becomes a skinhead. I didn’t go along with it.”

Giving Santa a technological upgrade From submitting a letter to Santa through the internet to virtually tracking his whereabouts on Christmas Eve via satellite technology, Saint Nick is moving into the World Wide Web, and he’s dragging the professional Santa industry there along with him. Higbee, Downey, and Meath are each leaving their mark on cyberspace, marketing themselves through their websites. “Cameras in cell phones and the Internet have changed and continue to change the industry in very unpredictable ways,” Meath says. “That is where the change will come from, where it will go is anybody's guess.” Higbee can already start to see where it is headed. “Magic and balloons can’t really do one thing that the Santa world has been doing more and more, which is moving online,” he says. “You can do a magic trick for somebody online, but it’s just not the same,” he explains. Higbee regularly has used the Internet as a part of his Santa Claus act by contacting his clients online before visiting a family. “We would get information about pets in the house, about age-appropriate accomplishments and milestones, from, ‘Wow, it’s great that you’ve learned how to go in the potty!’ to ‘I hear you’re being really helpful in class, you’re helping your friends, and doing really well in math and science,’” he explains. “We would start off, ‘hey, just got back from the North Pole, and wanted to give you my message. It was great to see you last year … those cookies and chocolate milk were great, thank you,’” he explains. Higbee would congratulate the child on their milestones, and let them know they have an “extra-special surprise” hidden from them by their parents, who would then give their child a final gift. “Nope, Christmas ain’t over yet,” Higbee says with a grin.

Exchanging the Santa hat for a thinking cap Of course, not everyone can be a Santa, and Higbee can attest to this. “You have to have patience and be aware of others around you,” he explains. Along with this comes the practical aspect to being Santa – how do you style your beard? What is the best way to make a genuine laugh, and how can Santas market themselves in today’s world of exponentially expanding technology? All of these questions and more are answered by the advent of Santa schools, such as the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan. “The mission of the school is to uphold the traditions and preserve the history of Santa Claus; to provide our students with the necessary resources that allow them to further define and improve their individual presentations of Santa Claus,” according to its website. Over the course of three days, the Santa School holds seminars on topics such as “The History of Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus,” “Proper Dress and Make Up,” “Experience for Radio and Television Interviews,” and “Live Reindeer Habits.” Although Higbee found these seminars helpful, he believes the aspect of networking with other Santas was the most valuable part of his experience. “[It was] great because you go to school, go to dinner with

other Santas, and share stories,” he says. Through the Santa School, Higbee made lasting connections with other Santas. “I’ve got several Santas’ phone numbers in my nice book,” he laughs. Other Santas can echo Higbee’s sentiment. “Santa schools are wonderful,” says Meath, who earned a Masters of Santa Claus degree from the International University of Santa Claus, another Santa school. “They give you time to think about the role of Santa and to consult with others. I highly recommend most Santa schools.” Downey, on the other hand, had a different opinion of the school. “I thought it was a total waste of time,” he says. “These two guys were really good, but at least half the time they were telling us how wonderful the school is…that’s good for me to know, but how’s that going to help me as Santa Claus?” he asks. However, Downey says he sees Higbee’s point of view about the connections. “To me the whole school was more about a big connection,” he says. As a whole, Downey finds the Santa industry can be competitive as well as collaborative. “If I call agents [looking for someone to help me with a gig], some of them say, ‘Oh yeah! I know of such and such!’” he says. Others, such as a booking agent he used to work with, are not as welcoming. “No way would he hire me again because I [am now] a competitor [as an owner of my own company, Santa Claus Productions, rather than just as Santa Ed].” Meath was also surprised by the competitive nature of the Saint Nicholas business. “Santas can be a bit crotchety with each other,” he says. “Really, they are a bit competitive.”

Keeping the spirit alive Despite the joy Higbee gets from his Santa-to-Santa connections, he says that nothing is greater than his interactions with children. “For a lot of families, this is really the big moment for the kids for the year and it’s just nice to be a part of that,” he says. “It’s one of those things where if I won the lottery, I’d still do it.” Higbee remembers a particular child who was scared to take a photo with him one year. “The next year, [the boy] came up to me, no problem, and then the photographer and his father were speaking and he just stayed on my knee for five minutes. His brother said, ‘Are you okay? Do you want to go down with Mom?’ and he said, ‘No, I’m comfortable.’” For Higbee, watching the children warm up to him is a recurring and exciting part of being Santa. “The most [rewarding part of the job] is the connections that I make with the kids when I see them year after year. I get to see their growth. And the relationships I make with the families.” The reactions he receives are also what push Downey on as Santa Claus. “There’s no better job,” he says. “What is a better job than to have these little kids worship you, and then at the office parties, these pretty secretaries…flirting with you?” he laughs. “When that happens, I look away, and ask, ‘Do I get paid for this too?’” he whispers with a twinkle in his eye. It’s easy for Downy to point out the most rewarding part of being Santa. “I believe it’s just how you’ve fed these fantasies,” he explains. “Kids really relate to fantasies when they’re little, and how you can fulfill their fantasy. Downey finds parties without children just as fun, however. “In the adult parties, there’s other rewarding parts where you can just really get lots of laughs.” Downey says he likes doing it because it allows him to create positive memories for kids from backgrounds across the socioeconomic spectrum. “[If] their parents are working three jobs and still having to [struggle] a little bit, that’s one half, [and on the other side], if the parents are all out networking and having conferences and all of that kind of stuff, and the parent hires you and wants you to do all these things to give ‘love’…I’m very tempted to say, ‘No. You’d give more for that kid if you just took the day off with him and do something he’d really like.’” Meath’s motivation for being Santa Claus is simple. “It is very rewarding as I bring joy to everyone who sees me,” he says. “That is wonderful. Everyone smiles, they can't help it…It is a whole lot of fun!” he says.

Myth decoded? So is that the end? Is this the official evidence we’ve all been waiting for that Santa Claus really doesn’t exist? Or is Santa hard at work at the North Pole, putting these men at the top of his “nice” list? For Higbee, the answer to the latter question is definitely yes. “Absolutely, [Santa Claus is real],” he says. “Anybody with a generous heart has Santa in them.” Higbee is lucky enough to see Santa’s positive impacts often. “Just seeing Santa a lot of times brings out the best in people,” he says. “Santa is so real,” Downey agrees. “Santa is here, but it’s a spiritual thing that’s inside all of us.” Meath agrees that Santa is a part of everyone. “Yes, he lives in each of our hearts,” he says. “He is part love and part communion of our souls.”


December 19, 2013

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On any given Wednesday evening at Montgomery Mall, you can find a lot of things: the click of expensive heels strutting through the women’s department of Nordstrom, decorative, holiday wreaths adorning the storefronts, and Santa Claus sitting in the food court, making balloon animals with a couple of friends. For Brad Higbee, Santa Claus is just a facet of the bigger role he plays all year – JesterMan, a magician-clown hybrid party entertainer for all types of events, from children’s birthday parties to business corporations.

Born this way Despite his Hawaiian print t-shirt and jeans, it’s hard to look at Brad Higbee without acknowledging the striking similarities between the man at the balloon table and the legendary Saint Nick. From the bleached hair to the jolly laugh, Higbee embodies the cultural icon, and even more so when he pulls on his Santa suit. For Higbee, this seemingly natural embodiment actually comes from years of experience. “I actually started doing magic when I was 13, and I started doing balloon art two years later when I started performing in public,” he explains. “And then a few years after that, I was a volunteer Big Brother [through the YMCA], and we needed a Santa for a party. And I thought, ‘Well, that would be a good add-on to my business,’ so I bought a suit back then when I was [20 or 21]. I had a fake beard back at that time. They call that a ‘designer beard,’” he laughs. Being a magician, running his entertainment company, AArdvark Entertainment, and being Santa have not been Higbee’s only jobs. “I’ve had a lot [of other jobs],” he says. “I’ve worked delivering copier machines and accessories, I’ve tried writing for a newspaper at one point, I did briefly telephone sales – or maybe I should just say telephone calls. I was talking to people – not doing many sales,” Higbee chuckles. Even when he wasn’t Santa Claus, Higbee still found an interest in working with kids on a personal and therapeutic level. “Even more than magic and balloons, there have been other careers that I’ve had that have focused on working with children,” Higbee, who holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in social work, says. “I’ve worked at schools as a substitute, and worked as a therapist. I’ve also worked at daycare centers and camps and things, so I’m kind of focused on families and children.” 15 years after leaving the Santa life behind, Higbee once again heard the call of the red Santa suit in 1997, working as a therapist and entertainer at an air force base in Japan. “A friend of mine, who was also an entertainer for the base, said that she was going to be doing pictures with Santa,” he says. “She dressed as Mrs. Claus…she asked if I would be Santa with her.” With Mrs. Claus, Higbee worked at public events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, as well as an orphanage and places for the developmentally challenged. Now, Higbee works at parties, malls, and makes home visits. For Ed Downey, who works at parties and makes home visits as Santa Ed, the transition to Santa Claus was different. Downey, who at 80 years old says he has held 286 jobs, was a social worker before he decided to switch. “I hated all the reports and proposals, and I hate writing, so I pretty much dropped out as a professional social worker,” he explains. “I grew a beard and then a friend of my ex-wife and daughter asked if I would be a Santa Claus for them and they would pay the rent…and I knew I’d love it, because as a social worker I was not a case worker. I was a group worker at community centers, YMCAs, and settlement houses.” Downey considers himself an “entertaining Santa.” He makes detailed, minute-by-minute plans of his events and gigs, and even scripts his different skits and jokes. “I get my cell phone and someone will be Mrs. Claus or an elf,” he says, explaining an example. “They’ll say, ‘you can’t put her on the nice list, she’s been naughty,’ and I’ll say, ‘Oh, thank you for letting me know,’ and hang up. And the responses are timed, so I know exactly how long the elf is going to talk,” he says. For Downey, the effort is necessary and pays off. “The more laughs I get, the more contracts I’ll get next year,” he explains. For Jonathan Meath, a children’s television producer in Cambridge, Massachusetts who produced Zoom, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, and other shows, he didn’t choose the Santa life – the Santa life chose him. “My beard went white and kids started calling me Santa,” he explains in an email. His wife even went along with the idea and bought him a suit on eBay. “I thought about it and realized that the jump from kids TV to Santa was actually very small,” he says. “I was simply moving from behind the camera to in front of the camera. It is very much like being a professional model.” In the professional modeling world of Santa Claus, Jonathan Meath is Gisele Bündchen. Meath has appeared on Good Morning America, Radio City Music Hall, the cover of Boston Magazine, as well as photo and video shoots and the traditional “sitting in the chair taking pictures with the children” public appearance. Meath says his favorite gigs are video shoots. “Film and video can

be almost anything and are always fun,” he says. One example is his appearance along with snowmen, an elf and an inflatable gingerbread man in Delta’s holiday-themed in-flight safety video. “That was a wonderful three-day shoot in Detroit,” Meath says.

Those crazy kids Some of Higbee’s most memorable moments come from his time spent as Santa one or two nights a year greeting the families of incoming soldiers at BWI Airport. “On one of the flights, this little boy [who] couldn’t have been older than three or four came out, saw me, said, ‘I didn’t expect you here!’ and ran over and gave me a big hug.” While some may think of crazy or silly things kids may ask for, Higbee likes to remember the kindhearted requests. “I have gotten a lot of requests for having Dad or Mom come home from either Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever else they might be,” he says. “Probably the most touching one is when they ask for something for someone else, not themselves…there have been several of those, probably, every year.” Downey does remember one particularly odd request. “The most unexpected wish [was from] a little girl, about six years old,” he says. “[I asked her,] ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ [and she replied,] ‘A garbage bag.’ I looked at her and I said, ‘That’s the first request for a garbage bag that I’ve had.’” Another especially odd request Downey remembers did not come from a child at all. “[A man from] the Ku Klux Klan calls me up. And they were going to have a rally, and they wanted me to come to their rally,” Downey recounts. “Then he kept on going, ‘And we’ll pay you an extra thousand dollars if we let you shave you head,’ [so] Santa Claus becomes a skinhead. I didn’t go along with it.”

Giving Santa a technological upgrade From submitting a letter to Santa through the internet to virtually tracking his whereabouts on Christmas Eve via satellite technology, Saint Nick is moving into the World Wide Web, and he’s dragging the professional Santa industry there along with him. Higbee, Downey, and Meath are each leaving their mark on cyberspace, marketing themselves through their websites. “Cameras in cell phones and the Internet have changed and continue to change the industry in very unpredictable ways,” Meath says. “That is where the change will come from, where it will go is anybody's guess.” Higbee can already start to see where it is headed. “Magic and balloons can’t really do one thing that the Santa world has been doing more and more, which is moving online,” he says. “You can do a magic trick for somebody online, but it’s just not the same,” he explains. Higbee regularly has used the Internet as a part of his Santa Claus act by contacting his clients online before visiting a family. “We would get information about pets in the house, about age-appropriate accomplishments and milestones, from, ‘Wow, it’s great that you’ve learned how to go in the potty!’ to ‘I hear you’re being really helpful in class, you’re helping your friends, and doing really well in math and science,’” he explains. “We would start off, ‘hey, just got back from the North Pole, and wanted to give you my message. It was great to see you last year … those cookies and chocolate milk were great, thank you,’” he explains. Higbee would congratulate the child on their milestones, and let them know they have an “extra-special surprise” hidden from them by their parents, who would then give their child a final gift. “Nope, Christmas ain’t over yet,” Higbee says with a grin.

Exchanging the Santa hat for a thinking cap Of course, not everyone can be a Santa, and Higbee can attest to this. “You have to have patience and be aware of others around you,” he explains. Along with this comes the practical aspect to being Santa – how do you style your beard? What is the best way to make a genuine laugh, and how can Santas market themselves in today’s world of exponentially expanding technology? All of these questions and more are answered by the advent of Santa schools, such as the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan. “The mission of the school is to uphold the traditions and preserve the history of Santa Claus; to provide our students with the necessary resources that allow them to further define and improve their individual presentations of Santa Claus,” according to its website. Over the course of three days, the Santa School holds seminars on topics such as “The History of Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus,” “Proper Dress and Make Up,” “Experience for Radio and Television Interviews,” and “Live Reindeer Habits.” Although Higbee found these seminars helpful, he believes the aspect of networking with other Santas was the most valuable part of his experience. “[It was] great because you go to school, go to dinner with

other Santas, and share stories,” he says. Through the Santa School, Higbee made lasting connections with other Santas. “I’ve got several Santas’ phone numbers in my nice book,” he laughs. Other Santas can echo Higbee’s sentiment. “Santa schools are wonderful,” says Meath, who earned a Masters of Santa Claus degree from the International University of Santa Claus, another Santa school. “They give you time to think about the role of Santa and to consult with others. I highly recommend most Santa schools.” Downey, on the other hand, had a different opinion of the school. “I thought it was a total waste of time,” he says. “These two guys were really good, but at least half the time they were telling us how wonderful the school is…that’s good for me to know, but how’s that going to help me as Santa Claus?” he asks. However, Downey says he sees Higbee’s point of view about the connections. “To me the whole school was more about a big connection,” he says. As a whole, Downey finds the Santa industry can be competitive as well as collaborative. “If I call agents [looking for someone to help me with a gig], some of them say, ‘Oh yeah! I know of such and such!’” he says. Others, such as a booking agent he used to work with, are not as welcoming. “No way would he hire me again because I [am now] a competitor [as an owner of my own company, Santa Claus Productions, rather than just as Santa Ed].” Meath was also surprised by the competitive nature of the Saint Nicholas business. “Santas can be a bit crotchety with each other,” he says. “Really, they are a bit competitive.”

Keeping the spirit alive Despite the joy Higbee gets from his Santa-to-Santa connections, he says that nothing is greater than his interactions with children. “For a lot of families, this is really the big moment for the kids for the year and it’s just nice to be a part of that,” he says. “It’s one of those things where if I won the lottery, I’d still do it.” Higbee remembers a particular child who was scared to take a photo with him one year. “The next year, [the boy] came up to me, no problem, and then the photographer and his father were speaking and he just stayed on my knee for five minutes. His brother said, ‘Are you okay? Do you want to go down with Mom?’ and he said, ‘No, I’m comfortable.’” For Higbee, watching the children warm up to him is a recurring and exciting part of being Santa. “The most [rewarding part of the job] is the connections that I make with the kids when I see them year after year. I get to see their growth. And the relationships I make with the families.” The reactions he receives are also what push Downey on as Santa Claus. “There’s no better job,” he says. “What is a better job than to have these little kids worship you, and then at the office parties, these pretty secretaries…flirting with you?” he laughs. “When that happens, I look away, and ask, ‘Do I get paid for this too?’” he whispers with a twinkle in his eye. It’s easy for Downy to point out the most rewarding part of being Santa. “I believe it’s just how you’ve fed these fantasies,” he explains. “Kids really relate to fantasies when they’re little, and how you can fulfill their fantasy. Downey finds parties without children just as fun, however. “In the adult parties, there’s other rewarding parts where you can just really get lots of laughs.” Downey says he likes doing it because it allows him to create positive memories for kids from backgrounds across the socioeconomic spectrum. “[If] their parents are working three jobs and still having to [struggle] a little bit, that’s one half, [and on the other side], if the parents are all out networking and having conferences and all of that kind of stuff, and the parent hires you and wants you to do all these things to give ‘love’…I’m very tempted to say, ‘No. You’d give more for that kid if you just took the day off with him and do something he’d really like.’” Meath’s motivation for being Santa Claus is simple. “It is very rewarding as I bring joy to everyone who sees me,” he says. “That is wonderful. Everyone smiles, they can't help it…It is a whole lot of fun!” he says.

Myth decoded? So is that the end? Is this the official evidence we’ve all been waiting for that Santa Claus really doesn’t exist? Or is Santa hard at work at the North Pole, putting these men at the top of his “nice” list? For Higbee, the answer to the latter question is definitely yes. “Absolutely, [Santa Claus is real],” he says. “Anybody with a generous heart has Santa in them.” Higbee is lucky enough to see Santa’s positive impacts often. “Just seeing Santa a lot of times brings out the best in people,” he says. “Santa is so real,” Downey agrees. “Santa is here, but it’s a spiritual thing that’s inside all of us.” Meath agrees that Santa is a part of everyone. “Yes, he lives in each of our hearts,” he says. “He is part love and part communion of our souls.”


C4 Features

December 19, 2013

silverchips

Not every Blair team does business on the field Blazers compete on non-athletic teams: Debate, Math, Forensics and Robotics By Leslie Chen Upon turning the corner into the gym hallway, the air is saturated with the stench of body odor. Crowding along the walls, with their backpacks and sports equipment, athletes get ready for the day’s practice to begin. On a different playing field, students on non-athletic teams, like the Math Team and Forensics, work out a different muscle: their brain. Throughout the year, our 39 varsity and junior varsity sports teams play against schools from all over the county. Similarly, non-athletic teams have numerous competitions throughout their year-long seasons and also spend hours of their time, inside and outside of school, practicing. However, members of these teams feel that their work and achievements go unnoticed. “We do not get enough recognition, given how much time and effort our students put into the team,” Daliah Barg, head of Public Relations for Robotics, emphasizes. “We don’t get mentioned on the morning announcements like many of the sports teams, although we perform well in competitions.”

Go. Debate. Win. Every Tuesday, students fill room 216 with a cacophony of voices, discussing the month’s debate topic. Social studies teacher and club sponsor Stefanie Weldon settles everyone down before captains Ashutosh Nanda and Shaun Datta lead the discussion about the new resolutions. During their meetings, members of the Debate Team perfect their cases, ironing out any doubts that they have before their upcoming tournament. The tournaments run in a cycle. The first meeting after every tournament, debate pairs receive their comments from the judges and can see how to improve in their next debate. The resolution for the next month’s debate is given and captains discuss how to develop arguments by providing background information on the topic and by outlining main points from both sides. “Captains help to look over cases, give necessary information about the new resolution and answer any questions about debating in general.” says captain Arvind Kannan. Each captain is assigned four to five pairs of debaters. Pairs and captains have a similar relationship to that of athletes and coaches; each can contact the other with questions. After the first meeting of the month, each weekly meeting afterwards is used to finetune skills that debaters will need in tournaments. “We go over what the pro/con arguments are and also have been working on how to respond to cross-examination questions, because that is one problem we seem to be having,” says Weldon. Just like athletes, the debaters focus on their areas of weakness in order to improve. The first Wednesday of the month means one thing: debate day. After weeks and weeks of reviewing, editing and finalizing their cases, the team is ready. Easily recognizable by their business formal attire, the anxious debaters warm up. As the final bell rings at 3 o’ clock in the afternoon, debaters from all over the county gather in the Student Activity Center (SAC). Each pair of debaters is scheduled for two out of the three rounds of hour-long debates for the night. “Depending the number of wins during each meet, [pairs] will be assigned points. Each win is 6 points,” says captain Callie Deng. After five debate meets

from the months of October to February, each teams’ points are totaled, determining whether the pair qualifies for the county wide semifinals tournament in March. Every year, Debate gets new members without needing to stress about recruitment, but a majority of the debaters are Magnet students. “I definitely think it deserves more recognition and participation from other students of the school as well,” adds Deng, but “I know Mrs. Johnson is pretty enthusiastic about recognizing the school’s debate endeavors.” For the past few years, the Debate team has been the best performing team in Montgomery County. “We’ve done extremely well,” says Deng. Last year, the first place and runner up in the county-wide Debate semifinals were both pairs from Blair. This year, two teams of debaters, comprised of seniors Aanchal Johri, Callie Deng and Alan Du in one team and juniors Rishabh Mahajani, Kevin Zhang and Agam Mittal in another, are among the 64 teams in the Bickel & Brewer/New York University International Public Policy Forum. a2 + b2 = c2 “So looking at this triangle and knowing that it’s a 30-60-90 triangle…,” says junior Mike Winer as he stands at the white board in the front of the room 317, explaining a problem from The University of Maryland High School Mathematics Competition Part II that took place that same morning. As opposed to the debate tournaments that take place once a month, Math Team has county meets against other high schools about every two to three weeks, from September to February. Besides the county meets, they participate in many other competitions including Maryland Math League, Mandelbrot, and Calculus League Competitions. Members also compete in math competitions at prestigious universities. “We send two teams each to the Princeton University Math Competition (PUMaC) and the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament (HMMT),” says Bourzutschky. “We [also] do ARML [American Regions Mathematics League]: held at Penn State, it is probably the largest high school team competition.” Every Wednesday, Math Team meets with math teacher David Stein. Each week, there is a new topic, with a set of notes and related problems. “Meetings begin with everyone taking the notes, and then [the captain that made them] goes over the more important points and possibly a couple salient points,” says captain Alex Bourzutschky. The team is then given about half an hour to do the set of about ten practice problems, collaborating with others or working on their own. These meetings are mostly run by the four senior captains, Alex Bourzutschky, Jessica Shi, Megan Chao and Gabrielle Studt. “I just tell them to be quiet,” Stein says. The Math Team, like the Debate Team, has traditionally dominated county-wide competitions. “We have been county champions for the past 29 straight years,” Stein points out. This school year, four out of the nine total county meets have taken place and, according to current standings, Blair has a total score of 109, while the second place teams, Poolesville and Richard Montgomery, trail behind with scores of 88. The

PHUONG VO

TEAM BUILDING Forensics team, Robotics team, Debate team and Math team, all shown above, work hard and stay focused during team practices.

current individual student standings show that, of the highest-scoring 30 students, all but five attend Blair. Aside from the county tournaments, Math Team members also place at the top in competitions at universities. They usually score within the top five to seven places at PUMaC and get similar results at HMMT. At ARML, they score between about sixth and thirteenth. Despite their record at all of these competitions, only a fraction of their success is acknowledged. “The only recognition that the whole school [hears] is what Mrs. Fus says about our performance at county meets,” says Bourzutschky, “Considering we give so many announcements for the more fringetype sports, I would like to hear more about Math Team.” Speak out Three floors down from the Math Team, in room 133, the Public Speaking Club, more commonly known as “Forensics”, meets. “Forensics is derived from the Latin word ‘forum’, which means ‘a meeting where people gather and share ideas’ and ‘ensis’ which is a Latin suffix that means ‘pertaining to,’” explains captain Sam Dembling. In contrast with the huge Debate and Math Teams, the Forensics team is one of, if not the, smallest in the county. Last year, only seven people from Blair competed in the Forensics competitions, while the largest teams of Blake and Walter Johnson had around 40 to 50 students competing. Despite the dramatic size difference, some members have made it to finals. Two years ago, one member won at the countywide level for the category of humorous speeches. “We’re small, but we’re a rising star,” says Dembling. “Forensics definitely deserves more attention, especially considering that it brings in elements of Theatre and Debate, both of which are really popular.” During practices, a single music stand is alone at the front of the room. Written on the white board behind it are two statements for today: “The Redskins should not be forced to change their name” and “Kittens are better than puppies”. Members of Public Speaking Club are given ten minutes to quietly scribble down any thoughts that they have on either of the topics. Within the allotted time, club members transform their notes into these extemporaneous speeches, written and delivered on the spot. After each person’s speech, the rest of the team pitches in, offering compliments and suggestions. “That was really good,” says junior Samantha Chyatte after listening to freshman Willa Murphy’s argument on why the Redskins should change their name. “You had so much to say.” “I loved how passionate and excited you were about what you were saying,” adds senior Alex Michell. Besides these ad lib speeches, club members can choose to perform from any of the ten categories of speech, including extemporaneous, informative, or persuasive speaking, serious poetry, serious prose, humorous literature, serious drama, children’s litera-

ture, reader’s theater or ensemble acting. The Forensics team participates in three qualifying tournaments and the county finals at James Hubert Blake High School. For every tournament, competitors can choose up to two categories. “For each category, you ‘perform’ your piece three times in total,” explains captain Sam Dembling. “You go to the competition room, [where] there are a handful of people from your category watching, as well as one judge. You wait to perform and watch the others.” Competitors can also form any assortment of pieces for the tournaments, which can range from using the same piece for all of the tournaments or choosing up to six different pieces from six different categories. Building ‘bots Once the 45-day-long build season begins on January 4th, Robotics Team works on different aspects of the robot every single day. “On the first two [days], we have kickoff, which is entirely planning on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. We then meet Monday to Friday from 3 to 6 and Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5 for the next 6 and a half weeks.” says team President Alex Epstein. “Obviously everyone does not come every day, but that is how much we work in total.” Robotics Team is currently in its off-season. However, they use this time to train the new members and veterans of the team to learn new skills that they did not use in previous years. Every Thursday in room 361, members are separated into the six sub-teams: technology, electronics, drive, mechanics, programming, computer aided design and public relations, where sub-team leaders work with the new members to teach them about their responsibilities. Robotics is currently signed up for two tournaments: the FIRST Robotics Competition North Carolina Regional and the FIRST Robotics Competition Greater D.C. Regional. In each tournament, there are a total of about 50 teams. Although they are called regional tournaments, schools from all over the country and the world can sign up for them. At competitions, each school ends up in a team with two other schools. “The top eight seeds are captains and pick their team [of three schools]. There’s [first] free play where teams are randomly assigned and that determines seeding. Then, after teams are picked it is best two of three elimination,” explains Epstein. Last year, at the Pittsburgh regional, the Robotics team was the first pick of one of the seeds and at the Chesapeake regional, they were an alliance captain, but were eliminated in the quarterfinals of each. Although they did not win, being in quarterfinals means that they were one of the top 8 teams out of teams from all over the country. “During build season, the students come in almost every day of the week including Saturday…, which is a lot more time than many sports players put into their team.” Barg explains. “We should definitely be recognized for all of our students’ hard work.”


December 19, 2013

silverchips

Features C5

Navigating through the financial aid maze Almost everything you need to know to complete a FAFSA and CSS Profile By Alani Fujii As the cost of college continues to increase, so does the need for financial aid. The price of going to a public four-year college or university has risen 27 percent beyond the U.S. inflation rate over the last five years, according to College Board. Because of the rising college costs, workshops conducted at Blair, including the annual College Fair hosted in midOctober, have emphasized the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA, and the College Scholarship Service Profile, or the CSS Profile. Last year, 74 percent of seniors at Blair completed the FAFSA in hopes that they would qualify for grants, loans and work study funds from the federal government. “Seniors absolutely come [to the counseling office or Career Center], whether it be finding the right college and/or financial aid help,” says Blair guidance counselor Marcia Johnson. Annually, the state of Maryland awards financial aid to over 35,000 Maryland residents. The importance of knowing about federal aid is that it can support students’ dreams of undergraduate and graduate study.

Getting started Even though the majority of Blair seniors apply for aid, a significant amount of students do not. “Sadly, many students, up to eight million in fact, don’t even apply for aid, in part because of all the red tape. We believe most would have been eligible for assistance,” said former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings at the Federal Student Aid Conference in 2008. In order to survive the initial onslaught of panic or fear that might come from red tape, it’s worth learning and understanding the small details that are in the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Many websites will try to trick students into paying money in order to complete scholarships, apply for grants, or even in order to complete the FAFSA. Avoid these web sites; the FAFSA is a completely free way to get money for

college. There’s no need to send teacher recommendations or transcripts. The CSS is a supplementary student aid calculator that some schools require along with the FAFSA. There are major differences between the two. For example, the submission dates between the two vary; the CSS can be submitted in the fall, while the FAFSA cannot be submitted before January 1. The CSS also has specific questions for a school or program; the FAFSA asks the same questions for every program. The FAFSA and CSS determine financial need differently; the CSS asks more questions regarding other factors not mentioned in the FAFSA, such as whether a student’s family owns a house. While the FAFSA is free, the CSS costs five dollars, plus eighteen dollars for each school or scholarship program selected. Wi l l i a m Gray Roncal, founder of the College Prep P ro g r a m a t Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, advises students not to wait until the last minute to fill out t h e FA F S A . “The FAFSA is kind of complicated at first because if you’ve never EMILY DALY done it before, you need a lot of different information that takes time to collect. If you wait until the last minute, you don’t have enough time to prepare well,” he says. Unless parents are willing to be completely responsible for a FAFSA and a CSS Profile, students should start collecting information early on with their parents. Once the January 1 submission date opens for the

FAFSA, students will be ready to tackle it easily. “After January 1, students should try to get the FAFSA in as quickly as possible, and come to the Career Center if they need help,” says Blair guidance counselor Jennifer Taylor.

Most important: documents For both, there are several important documents a student might need: a social security number, parents’ social security numbers (for dependent students), a driver’s license (for students able to drive), an Alien Registration number (for non-U.S. citizens), federal tax information and/or tax returns, records of untaxed income, and general information on how much cash students and their families have. FAFSA uses such information in order to calculate the Estimated Family Contribution, also known as the EFC. The Federal Student Aid PIN is usually a four-digit number that is used as another barrier in protecting a student’s identity when accessing personal information on the FAFSA. It is the equivalent of a signature on a legal document. Students can apply for a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov, by providing some basic pieces of information, such as their social security number, an address, etc. Once a personal PIN is made, it is there forever. It will be the same for future FAFSAs and other actions regarding student aid records.

Dependent or independent? Students have to determine their dependency status. In applying for financial aid, one has to ask themselves, “Am I financially supported by at least one parent?” If yes, then a student is a dependent. This means that on the FAFSA, students will report their own and their parents’ information. It gets more complex for an independent student. Independent students are classified as orphans, students who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, or students that have a legal guardian(s) instead of parent(s) taking care of them. An “independent” student is responsible for reporting their own information, sans the information of the parent that a “dependent” student is required to submit. A student can complete the FAFSA no matter the situation that the student is in and the relationship the student has with his or her parents.

FAFSA requires that the student submitting the form send it to at least one college or university. If the student chooses to complete the form online, they can list up to 10 schools. If the student chooses to complete it in the paper format, they can list up to four colleges to send it to. The schools will decide how much financial aid the student receives based upon the information that FAFSA sends them.

What happens next?

Within three to ten days of submitting the FAFSA and/or CSS profile, applicants will receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR, through email. Based on the application, the SAR tells an EFC. From here, colleges will use the EFC to determine how much aid a student is eligible for and send a financial aid award letter with the results of eligible aid. The timing of the award letter varies with each school, with some arriving in springtime all the way to right before you start freshman year. Some schools will give you more, some less. Finally, a student can determine where he or she wants to go, and also have a specific idea of how much the family will have to pay. And just in case some mistakes were made on the FAFSA application, students can correct it and send it back for a new SAR. Making sure to keep in touch with schools’ financial aid offices will help students understand the specific process of getting awarded aid. Even though this is just a general introduction to college financial aid through the FAFSA and CSS, there are many other ways to get money for college, such as scholarships, private grants, loans, and more. After winter break, seniors have the opportunity to get one-on-one support from Career Center volunteers. “After break, specific volunteers will be available for students for more support on applications and financial aid, Wednesdays and Thursdays, both lunches or after school,” says Johnson. Gray Roncal also gives a last piece of advice for Blair seniors this year. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed because there is so much happening and there’s a tendency to focus on the day-to-day stuff, rather than the big picture. But through all of this, it’s important to stay on top of deadlines. Like for the FAFSA, you apply late, you lose money. For schools, you lose opportunities.”

Take a chance and do a dance: try out a fitness club By Rebecca Naimon Fitness is the new focus. Not so new, actually, but at Blair, it’s had a recent leap to afterschool activities. In the wake of the infamous club purge earlier this school year when extracurricular groups had to resubmit paperwork in order to eliminate defunct clubs, a number of brand-new organizations rose from the ashes, including two specifically aimed at making Blair a healthier place: the Yoga Club and the Just Dance Zumba Club. Yoga has grown from its ancient beginnings to become a mainstream and trendy form of physical exercise. It may have been the vanguard of the overall Eastern “alternative medicine” trend, which also includes practices like acupuncture. However, unlike acupuncture, yoga involves no needles and can be practiced in school. (An acupuncture club is unlikely to turn up.) But why are people willing to stretch themselves into embarrassing contortions on a regular basis? Perhaps because everybody else in the room is doing it? Sophomores Ramya Durvasula and Anna Ou restarted the Yoga Club after a summer of uncertain existence, and are its co-presidents and instructors. Each has different personal reasons for practicing yoga. “I feel like, for athletes, [yoga is] really beneficial,” said Ou. “I run, so to prevent injury, you have to do a lot of other stuff to maintain the body.” Some of Blair’s varsity athletic teams are even adopting parts of yoga as part of their training. Durvasula, a dancer, does yoga regularly, and recognizes the athletic benefits of yoga. “It’s really good for you,” she said. “It works out a lot of different parts of your body that you don’t normally focus on.” It’s also a

leisure activity for Durvasula. “I find it relaxing,” she added. Although yoga originated in India, its modern, expanded form is quite different, especially in the realms of power yoga or facial yoga (two of many new forms). “There’s a whole lot you can do with it,” said Durvasula. One of yoga’s most unique aspects, however, is the effect it can have on the mind. While it’s generally considered to be relaxing and stress relieving, Ou knows that it’s different for everybody. “If you concentrate on what you’re doing, it’s like you’re in your own little world,” she said. The club has gained a modest following of people across a range of skill levels, as Ou and Durvasula don’t want a lack of experience to be a deterrent. “The idea is that it’s a club that you can drop into any time you want to,” said Durvasula. If yoga’s not your style, have no fear, because Blair has another club that mixes workout, fun and fitness: the Just Dance Zumba Club, which, as its name indicates, is itself a mix of two distinct activities. One of the club’s activities, Zumba dancing, is rooted in merengue, salsa, sambo and more traditional dances, and those influences are definitely felt, according to sophomore copresident Anna Reachmack, the Zumba half of the club leadership. “I think that anyone doing Zumba is acknowledging the origin just by exposing his or herself to new types of dance and song,” said Reachmack. She’s also a proponent of Zumba for its refreshing simplicity and positive effect on the mind. “I do Zumba because when I do it, I feel confident about myself. I’ve never been especially good at dancing, but Zumba breaks down the dances into several basic, aerobic steps,” she said. Just Dance, in artistic high contrast, is

a video game in which participants, well, dance. Copresident junior Elia Tzoukermann, the Just Dance half of the club leadership, played Just Dance before the club’s formation and wanted to share it with others. “It’s just super fun,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a bad dancer; it’s just fun to be with friends and dance.” The Just Dance Zumba club could MIMI SIM easily have been DOWNWARD DOG The new yoga club meets on Wednesdays. two separate clubs instead of the one, combined. “I love doing Just Dance with my Tzoukermann has some concise, worldly friends all the time, and Anna Reachmack advice for the worrywarts: “A lot of people, loves to do Zumba, so we decided we should I think, feel embarrassed to [dance], but it’s make a club to do Just Dance and Zumba just fun to be with other people and friends.” and bring people together to have fun and Here is proof that fitness can expand exercise,” said Tzoukermann, who had never beyond the conventional borders of P.E. curdone Zumba before the first meeting of the riculum and afterschool sports to include a club. It was just like the beginning of a beauti- greater number of people and diversity of ful friendship. exercises. In addition to that odd joy of methodically Here at school, we need both healthy flailing one’s arms and legs around (com- minds and healthy bodies, and one without monly known as dancing), both Just Dance the other is practically useless. Luckily, Blair and Zumba are a form of healthy physical has just the clubs to do the jobs—both of them. activity. “You’re dancing, but you’re exercising at the same time,” said Tzoukermann. The Yoga Club meets Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m. Dancing, much like yoga, involves a in room 344, no prior knowledge necessary. The certain level of putting oneself out there, Just Dance Zumba Club meets Mondays at 3:00 of doing something potentially awkward. p.m. in room 235. All are welcome!


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High Society: good eats and good times

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A new restaurant revives Silver Spring’s night life By Landon Harris and Naomi Weintraub Late Saturday night, music comes oozing down Georgia Avenue in Downtown Silver Spring. Trace this trail of electric tunes and you’ll end up at Society Lounge and Restaurant. Inside, trendy Metropolitan residents schmooze over sultry plates of Caribbean cuisine, and relax on sumptuous leather couches. The recipe behind Society Lounge is a mixture of just three simple ingredients: Good Food, Good People, and Good Will. It’s these three principles that guide Jason Miskiri, Blair alum, and the founder and owner of Society as he runs the hottest night lounge in Downtown Silver Spring. “I’ve always been a foodie,” says Miskiri when explaining his original intention in opening a restaurant. “I love restaurants, I love good food, and I love to cook.” Miskiri, a Silver Spring native, wanted to give something back to his community. The name “Society” originated from his original spark of interest in creating a place for people to relax, have a good time and eat delicious food. “I wanted to come back to Silver Spring and do something a little more high-end, upscale, a restaurant but more of a social atmosphere,” he says. Miskiri has achieved just that—walk past 8229 Georgia Avenue on a Saturday night and you’ll see dozens of Silver Spring residents socializing and enjoying the sophisticated atmosphere that Society has embodied. Ethnic enterprise Society attracts people from all ethnic groups and areas, making it the ideal hub for socializing and networking. In order to attract this diverse demographic, Society has a variety of events that branch out to different diners, such as Reggae Tuesday, Family night Monday, and Wine Wednesday. “We try to touch all areas, throughout the week, and we do live entertainment,” says Miskiri. Miskiri is Caribbean, and his roots are reflected throughout Society’s menu. “It’s American food coupled with Caribbean accents,” he says. During dinnertime at Society, waiters can be seen parading around with steaming plates of Jerk Chicken served with plantains and Caribbean rolls. An Examiner.com review described the food served at Society as, “American-Caribbean infused cuisines that leave taste buds screaming ‘wow’ while doing back flips.” Reviving the social scene

team together, with everyone in their areas of expertise, working together to make the restaurant successful,” says Miskiri. Being a part of the team

upwards of 1,000 people would come to the games, and many would have to stand around because it was too crowded to get in. Giving back to Blair

Although Miskiri’s days at Blair are long over, he still gives back to the Blazer community. Society has sponsored jerseys for Blair’s Varsity fall league team and the YES (Youth Exposed to Success) recreational basketball league in Takoma Park. Miskiri even hosts his own summer basketball camp,“Fundamentals & Skills Basketball Camp”, for kids aged 7-17. For the past seven years, Miskiri and a select group of former players and experienced coaches have taught campers basic skills such as dribbling, rebounding, shooting, and defense. Campers start the mornings with ball handling and footwork drills. The focus is then switched to shooting and the campers are able to get some shots up before breaking for lunch. After the lunch break, the campers are given the opportunity to showcase their new skills in 5-on-5 scrimmages and various competitions. Along with the fundamentals of basketball, the camp additionally teaches campers valuable lessons in intangibles. Hard work, discipline, and the ZEKE WAPNER importance of keeping a positive attitude are SUCCESS Jason Miskiri, a graduate of Montgomery Blair High stressed. At Miskiri’s School, stands inside the hit restaurant he founded. camp, a player’s attitude was just as important as ri played in his only game as a member of his skills. “It was a positive environment,” the Charlotte Hornets during the 1999-2000 says junior Yashar Joseph, who worked at NBA season, but bounced around various the camp as a counselor over the summer. NBA camps, including those of the Utah Jazz “That’s what Jason Miskiri emphasized. A and Boston Celtics, in his brief NBA career. positive environment and teamwork.” JoMiskiri, however, experienced most of seph claims Miskiri was engaged with all his basketball success during high school the campers and was a positive role model and college. He averaged 16 points a game for them to look up to. “He motivated all for George Mason University from 1997- the kids. He supported the kids. He taught 1999, but before that he was the star point them well. He wasn’t too hard on them, guard for Blair’s basketball team. Miskiri but he was what you would expect from a remembers his time on the team as a bit of coach” Joseph says. Miskiri not only proa golden age for Blair basketball. “It was vided mentorship to the kids, but to some totally different from now,” Miskiri recalls. of the counselors as well. “He’s a pretty cool “People were into the sport a lot more than guy. He’s like a mentor to me,” says junior they are now. We had the whole police force Yosef Yishak, who also worked at the camp. at all our games for crowd control.” Games Staying connected were the most lively when Blair took on Springbrook, their archrival at the time. “It Similar to his restaurant, Miskiri uses his camp as a means of giving back. His love for the community is apparent to all those around him. “He cares about the community that he came from. He’s one player that became successful, so he wants to give back to the community he grew up in,” says Joseph. “That’s one reason the camp is at Blair. Because he went to Blair and he just wants to give back to the kids and their community.” From coaching young kids to improving the downtown night life, Miskiri has branched out while staying connected with his Silver Spring roots. As a result, he’s maintained a balance between advancing his business and giving back to the community. The analogy to basketball is also a reference to Miskiri’s former profession. Before getting into the restaurant industry, Miskiri spent time playing ball in the NBA. Miski-

Since Miskiri’s years at Blair in the early 90s, Silver Spring has changed dramatically. The Downtown Silver Spring area has seen significant overhauls and has become a metropolitan hot spot featuring a diverse array of events and ethnic restaurants. Society has benefitted from this explosion of culture and change. “It was a great thing for me, because if I had done this five or ten years ago, it wouldn’t have worked,” says Miskiri. Downtown Silver Spring has enveloped Society into its community of culturally-diverse restaurants and businesses, and in turn allowed Miskiri to achieve his ultimate goal of giving giving the people of Silver Spring the kind of nightlife they are missing. “This place is more social, you meet people here, it’s networking,” says Miskiri. He didn’t have any specific trainZEKE WAPNER ing on how to run a successful business, and LOUNGING AROUND Society Restaurant, owned by a Blair alumni, he credits success to has become one of Silver Spring’s hottest new night venues. his ability to work on a team, Miskiri compares running the restaurant to his experience was a lot more intense. The rivalry was toplaying basketball. “It’s like putting a tally different,” says Miskiri. He claims that

The Society Restauramt is located at 8229 Georgia Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20910, phone: (301)-565-8864, The restaurant has a dress code, see societyss.com for specifications. It is open Monday – Thursday at 4 p.m. - 12 a.m., Friday – Saturday at 4 p.m. - 2 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.

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Sophomore Eleanor Linafelt has her nose in the book Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. The first half of the novel, told from Franny’s point of view, “is just a conversation between a college-aged couple, but it’s very tense and suspenseful,” Linafelt says. The second half is told from her brother Zooey’s perspective. “[It] involves a family and goes into a lot of issues,” Linafelt says. But this book deals with much more than family drama – it delves into religion, existentialism, and the value of education, just to name a few hot topics. Linafelt likes the book’s realism. “The book seems kind of random, but the conversations they have are very realistic,” she explains. “They interrupt, correct themselves, and go on random tangents, which all happens in real life but is usually not a part of dialogue in books.” Salinger’s details put a unique twist on the tale, but take away from its structure. This makes Linafelt tentative to recommend it to others. “I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t like it because it doesn’t really have a plot,” she says. “I think if you’ve read other stuff by [Salinger] and enjoyed it, or are like me and don’t like a lot of plot, then you should definitely read it.”

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Senior Hannah Tsai is hooked on Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind. “I saw a little bit of the movie [based on the book] on TV and thought, ‘Oh, I wonder what the book was like.’” Tsai says. If you’ve already seen and liked the movie, you can expect even more from the novel. “The book was so much better.” Süskind’s novel is about a mass murderer with a keen sense of smell. “[He] can distinguish millions of smells,” Tsai explains. “He goes around killing people and collecting their scents from their corpses…his aim is to make the best perfume.” Süskind’s writing style keeps Tsai on her toes throughout the novel. “It’s a really classy murder story, she says. “Vivid imagery describes a lot of the smells in huge detail…it’s big on existentialism.” The plot also has Tsai hooked on the book. “Sometimes you step back and you’re like, ‘Wait, really that’s horrible!’” Tsai says. In terms of murder stories, Tsai thinks Perfume is the top of the crop. Tsai recommends it to “people who like the stranger” and “people who like murder stories.”

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Who’s who? Playing the high school name game

One Blazer goes on the search to answer the million-dollar question from NAMESAKES page A1 debated, researched, and debated again until they picked their favorite name. While anyone who has taken U.S. History knows of John F. Kennedy or Albert Einstein, other names that the Board chose are more obscure. So here was my challenge: find the people and discover why the school fits the name. My first strategy? Start on home turf.

The enigma Montgomery Blair was a rebel. Rebel Move #1: “A tall, lean, hatchet-faced man with small and deep-set eyes,” according to historian Richard Nelson, Blair spent four years at West Point, a year in the Seminole War... and then left the army to practice law, according to Stewart Sifakis’s Who was Who in the Civil War. He moved from Missouri to the town his dad founded, Silver Spring, to argue before the Supreme Court. Which brings me to… Rebel Move #2: Blair came from a family of slaveholders. But in 1856, Blair defended Dred Scott, a slave who sued his master for freedom because the master took him, still in captivity, to the free state of Illinois. “The slave Scott was entitled to his freedom by virtue of his residence in free territory,” Blair argued before the Court, according to American National Biography. His work before the Court, along with a devotion to presidential candidate Lincoln, led to… Rebel Move #3: Blair switched from the mostly pro-slavery, pro-secession Democratic Party to the pro-Union Republican Party, according to Sifakis. You go Montgomery Blair. The great defender of African-American freedom, right? Yeah, no. Blair also opposed slave emancipation and denounced its proponents. “We are menaced by the ambition of the ultra-Abolitionists,” the Postmaster General told a gathering in Rockville in 1863. Blair was a bitter foe of the Radical Republicans, the wing of the Republican Party that supported emancipation, notes former AP U.S. History teacher George Vlasits. “His only interest was in preserving the Union,” Vlasits explains. “He was definitely at odds with the Radicals.” Shoot, which means… Rebel Move #4: After the war, Blair switched back to the Democratic Party. Bad Blair. Bad, bad Blair. Well, nobody liked him anyway. Lincoln asked him to resign in 1864, when the administration needed to appease the Radicals. And the rest of Lincoln’s Cabinet was glad to see Blair go. “He had a habit of judging everything and everyone from a narrowly partisan perspective,” historian John Niven says. “He was apparently never so happy as when he was in hot water or was making water hot for others,” journalist Noah Brooks wrote. So there. No one needs you, Mr. Blair. Even if Blair wasn’t on the right side of the slavery argument, his choice to stick with Dred Scott was courageous. It was a brave move, notes AP U.S. History teacher Anne Manuel, at a time when most

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REVOLUTIONARY WAR HERO General Richard Montgomery died back in 1775. people kept to their traditions. “He defended freedom, so he stands out for his time,” she explains. And, as Postmaster General, he was a loyal Unionist. “He alone stood with Lincoln against the whole Cabinet in favor of reinforcing Fort Sumter,” noted Lincoln’s private secretary John Hays. So Blair did some things right, but also ignored causes that are valuable to Americans today. Rebel Conclusion: Blair was a complicated man. But then, so is his school.

Government (and names) for the people Fortunately, my next three honorees were much simpler to understand. The grueling search to uncover Richard Montgomery took about half a minute, as I read on the school’s website that Montgomery was a noble hero of the Revolutionary War. He was the first American general killed in the war for independence when he led the Canadian campaign in 1775. Richard Montgomery insisted on positioning himself at the

very front of the battalion, notes Hal Shelton in General Richard Montgomery and the American Revolution. Sounds like R.M., huh? “With its goals and successes, vitality, and leadership role in the county seat,” notes the school website, “it is fitting that the school should have been named for this young and dedicated general.” Next on the military names list: with a name like Zadok, it has to be good. I imagined that Col. Zadok Magruder was a strapping young hero from the Battle of the [insert French name here]. Or, explains Magruder social studies teacher Ben Johnson, he was a 50-year-old Revolutionary War officer, more noteworthy for his political career than for military action. “He was on the Maryland Committee of Correspondence to start the process of recommending revolution,” Johnson

explains. After America gained independence, Magruder attended the Maryland Constitutional Convention with Thomas Wootton, another namesake, according to The New Eagle, a Magruder student publication. Wootton, a Poolesville doctor, was responsible for splitting Frederick County into Frederick, Montgomery, and Washington counties, according to Liz Leung in Common Sense, the Wootton student newspaper. (Obviously, I’m not the only one curious about namesakes.) It’s nice that the school provides a place to honor a local hero, says Johnson. “History goes way deeper and involves ordinary people,” he notes. “People like your Zadok Magruders and Thomas Woottons.” Three men who changed their country and county. Ehh, Blair’s still coolest.

Building America’s culture Three guesses as to who Walter Johnson was. Here’s a hint: the

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BROADWAY, THE ARTS AND ALL THAT JAZZ James Hubert “Eubie” Blake was a talented and artistic pioneer for black jazz musicians, leaving a valuable legacy for both the school and the world. school’s homepage is Home Plate, the newspaper is The Pitch, the yearbook is The Windup... yeah, I think Johnson was a baseball player. In fact, he was the most famous pitcher for the Washington Senators, the precursor to the Nationals. “He’s got a gun concealed about his person,” noted sportswriter Ring Lardner.”You can’t tell me he throws them balls with his arm.” Johnson, inducted into the first class of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, finished his career with 416 wins and 3,508 strikeouts, according to his official website. But Johnson, a Bethesda community member, was also known for his kindness. Nicknamed “Sir Walter” for his chivalrous sportsmanship, Johnson was almost scared of his own throw, explains the high school’s webmaster, Maria Limarzi. “One of the ways opponents finally figured out how to hit against Johnson,” she says, “was that if they crowded the plate, he wouldn’t throw as hard because he didn’t want to hit anybody.” His kindness inspires the school today, says Walter Johnson’s principal, Jennifer Baker. “We are similar in that we care about people and are a very philanthropic school community,” she says.

The music man

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BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER Walter Johnson, pitcher for the Washintgon Senators, was also famed for his high level of sportsmanship.

Even though the school is James Hubert Blake, the jazz ragtime extraordinaire went by “Eubie.” From P. Stephen Hardy’s Extraordinary People of the Harlem Renaissance, I learned that Eubie showed musical talent at age 4, played at brothels by 16 and got his big break in 1915 at age 32. “He wrote a number of Broadway musicals, including his most famous, Shuffle Along,” says Blake social studies teacher Dustin Jeter. Blake served as a pioneer to the black community of jazz artists and writers. “He succeeded in an area that many African Americans

plains Jeter. The school has adopted Blake’s artistic legacy. Visual arts, dance, theater and music are integral to the Arts Signature program, which reflects the namesake’s creativity. “Arts-related activities support the vision that James Blake High School, like its namesake, can excel in the arts,” Jeter explains. And thus, I reached the end of my search. I discovered a general who was leader of the pack, two heroic politicians (a rare commodity), a baseball-pitching nice guy and a musician who wove innovation into every note. The schools not only inherited names; they inherited the reputations for courage, philanthropy, and talent. In brick buildings, metal chairs and long, tiled halls, students are proving that the names fit. And at Blair, the rebel lives on.

And the almosts Students have tried naming their own schools. A year after Paint Branch opened in 1969, students called to rename the school John Glenn High School, after the first American to orbit the Earth. Community members, meanwhile, wanted to name the school after O. B. Robey, a leading Burtonsville resident, according to A Brief History of Paint Branch High School by Jack McKeon. Ultimately, the school board made its decision: it was keeping “Paint Branch,” thank you very much. Blake also nearly had another name: Jim Henson High School. Henson, the father of Kermit the Frog and Ernie (of Muppets and Sesame Street fame, respectively) lived in Hyattsville and would have fit the high school’s arts emphasis. Social studies teacher Dustin Jeter is not sure he would have gone for Henson High. “I don’t know if we would have changed the mascot to a Muppet,” he jokes.


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ACT or other standardized tests, remember that they are an act (granted, an important one). Your grades are your habit. You want to work to get good standardized test scores that reflect your strong grades. You do NOT want to divert effort from grades such that (grades falling) the two meet in the middle. Determine – before senior year – which tests are right for you and when you should take them. Planning your testing calendar Want More Tips? strategically can not only save time (and heartbreak), but also help you Check out our website! maintain your grades.

faculty and the dollars in its endowment. It is the character and caliber of the student body. By and large, students are measured by grades. That’s why grades matter. High school grades matter to college admissions folks because they know that students who do well in high school are likely to do well in college. Now, grades may not be everything, but they are a lot. As the great philosopher Aristotle observed, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Your grades, then, are the record of what you have done day after day, week after week, year after year. They reflect homework, class work, essays, quizzes and tests. As you continue into this critical junior year and spend time preparing to do well on the SAT,

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is the season for a staycation By Grace Woodward The beginning of December means winter is well on its way and for most students the dip in temperature can leave us cold, desperate for our holiday break. However, once we get there, we often find ourselves bored with so much time on our hands. Although it sometimes feels like we’ve done all the things our area has to offer, luckily, winter is host to as many fun activities as the warmer seasons. Whether you feel like spending the day inside or embracing the cold and exploring the great outdoors, there’s a fair chance your staycation will be anything but boring.

When the weather outside is frightful Although the D.C. area isn’t known for snowstorms that leave us housebound, often even the bravest of the brave prefer to stay inside, safe from the cold. So make the best of a heated home and call your friends, enjoy some alone time, or hang out with the family for a while. Staying warm and cozy in the comfort of your own home is always the cheapest and most convenient option. There are of course a few timeless go-to ways to have fun indoors. Picking up a good book can be surprisingly cathartic, and a nostalgic raid of your old collection could leave you laughing, crying, and wanting more. If mustering up enough time and the focus needed to read a book feels like too big a feat, then move on and say hello to a good movie. Some winter favorites include The Mighty Ducks, a sports comedy about a youth hockey team, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a movie all about getting home in time for Thanksgiving, and any of the Harry Potter movies. If sitting down for too long is becoming simply unbearable, get up and dance. Check out new music on blogs such as Invisible Oranges, Aquarium Drunkard,

and Pigeons and Planes. There aren’t many feelings that can compete with the excitement of finding new music you love. Another option for all the foodies out there is baking or cooking, whichever you prefer. Making your favorite recipe or trying something completely new is a great way to keep the boredom from setting in. Even if you don’t bake or cook very often, there are tons of great places to find a recipe and get started. The biggest upside: eating what you make! On the more productive side of things, another way to pass the time is sorting through your old clothes. Almost everyone could use more space, and getting rid of stuff you never wear anymore is the perfect solution. Plus, the winter months are one of the times when warm clothes benefit those in need the most. Thrive D.C. is one of the many local charities that helps keep men and women living in local shelters and on the streets warm by giving them clothes. Gently-used or new winter clothing is greatly appreciated and donations can be dropped off during the week at Thrive D.C., 1525 Newton St NW, Washington DC 20010.

Those who can brave the cold Sometimes being inside for too long can be suffocating, so avoid feeling all cooped up by venturing into the great outdoors. Throw on some thick socks, gloves, and a warm winter hat and the cold weather gets just a little bit more bearable. Some of the most popular outdoor winter activities require snow, something our area has been lacking these past couple of winters. Fortunately, Matt Ross of the Capital Weather Gang from the Washington Post predicts a pretty normal snowfall, meaning we’ll most likely be getting more snow than last year. This means that there’s a good chance you’ll have a couple of days where you can sleep in, partake in snow-related tomfoolery, and defrost with a cup of hot chocolate. Possible snow antics include: building a snowman, having a snowball fight, sledding down any hill you can find, and lying down in the snow making snow

angels. If Ross is wrong and snow days are severely lacking, have no worries. There’s always fake snow. Skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing are three of the major activities offered at nearby ski resorts. A fan favorite is Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, about 1 to 2 hours away. The price is daunting at over $100 dollars for rentals and time on the mountain, but it’s worth it for slope lovers. For those who prefer to stay local, a more easily-accessible outdoor activity in is ice-skating. Gliding around a rink with your hair flowing out behind you is about the most picturesque thing you can imagine. A few seconds of feeling like you’re in the Olympics is worth the skate rental. The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden & Ice Rink in D.C. is one of the best places to skate in the wintertime.

Staying in the area The city is not for every one; some of us would rather save the Metro fare and stay a little closer to home. Support your fellow Blazers by going to home athletics events this winter; it’s both easy and entertaining. After the game head down Colesville and you’ll end up in Downtown Silver Spring. Silver Spring is a popular local hangout, so you might feel like you’ve done everything the area has to offer. But if you keep an open mind and check out as many places as you can find you’re bound to find something new and fun to do. You can grab a bite to eat from one of the several restaurants, watch a movie at the Regal Majestic, ice skate, decorate pottery at

Color Me Mine, shop, and more. Close to Downtown Silver Spring’s main stretch is Joe’s Record Paradise. Filled with tons of great records, CDs, and tapes, the store is a much-needed oasis for any music lover. Roaming the aisles can keep you busy for hours. If you think that the weather is feeling manageable, another place that’s worth checking out is Brookside Gardens in Wheaton. During the winter months the entire garden is decorated with almost one million lights. Although the visit can be a little pricey and you have to show up in a car, seeing the beautiful lights is definitely worth the hassle.

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Only a couple of Metro stops away Even off the ice, D.C. is one of the most interesting and affordable places to spend this winter. Taking the Metro into the city and exploring the city is a must- have winter experience. One perk D.C. offers is the abundance of free museums that line the National Mall, making them easily accessible by Metro. The Smithsonian Institution has museums ranging in topics from art and history all the way to space at the Air and Space Museum. If you’re interested in modern art,nd head to the Hirshhorn or the East Wing of the National Gallery, or stick to the traditional pieces and explore the West Wing. Find your inner historian and go for a trip through the District. Even though it’s winter, you’re not limited to looking at oil paintings of flowers and landscapes--visit the United States Botanic Garden, which is kept warm throughout the year to offer its visitors protection from the cold. Once you’ve warmed up there, if you’re still feeling in the mood for plants you can head to the White House to visit the National Christmas Tree. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the gi-

ant tree and the surrounding Pathway to Peace are a must-see. The whole adventure is best taken at night when you can see the glow of the tree at its most magical moments. Spending the day in Rock Creek Park is another fun and free option. If you’re fascinated by stars, check out the Planetarium. Park Rangers project images of the night sky onto the dome-shaped ceiling and guide viewers on a trip throughout our solar system. Sitting back and looking up at the projection in the Planetarium is almost as enchanting as if you were actually outside, but it comes without the cold. Tickets can be picked up for free a halfhour before every show. Round off your day of hanging out in D.C. by visiting a good local bookstore. There’s something inimitable about hunkering down in the aisles of a bookstore and feeling the pages of a book. If you’re searching for a new page-turner, one of the best places to go is Politics & Prose on Connecticut Ave in North West, Washington, DC.


December 19, 2013

silverchips

Entertainment D5

Ending 2013 with a whole new music scene By Leigh Cook Arctic Monkeys - AM Release date: September 9 Arctic Monkeys recent album AM is a surprising change and growth for the band. The unique band has always had a loyal fan base and this album is sure to please them. AM has a much cleaner sound than the bands previous work. The crisp sound isn’t excessively polished or robotic. The album is fluid and Blues inspired and conveys that the ‘Monkeys are making music they genuinely enjoy producing. The first track, “Do I Wanna Know?” has a catchy melody and the guitar riff and percussion that accompanies it is much less aggressive than in previous albums. The second track, “R U Mine?” follows the common theme of distressed infatuation which is introduced in the album’s first song. As the album rolls along the sound becomes slightly more mundane. “Arabella” and “I Want It All” seem less exciting and more like repetitive discourse. Though a listener may grow a bit tired of the same sounds, they shouldn’t fret. The albums ending tracks are as pleasing as the beginning of the album. The Arctic Monkeys’ work this year proves it’s only uphill from here. Those Darlins - Blur the Line Release date: October 1

Those Darlins have always been an impressive group with a relatively concentrated fan base. Their Blues-induced, Altcountry rock sound seems to be attributed to their origins in Nashville, Tennessee. Their sound is a nice mix feminine meet with and a bit grunge. Blur the Line is slightly more sonic than their first two albums, but still preserves the focus of the honest topics that front women Jessi Zazu and Nikki Kvarnes sing about. Zazu and Kvarnes find obscure subjects and turn them into quirks of life that are relatable for everyone. The girls create outrageous metaphors for their love affairs and make them easy to comprehend, then turn them into beautiful, raw songs with the help of drummer Linwood Regensburg and bassist Adrian Barrera. “Can’t Think” hyperbolizes the inability of a painfully enamored person to eat, sleep or function when the object of their affection surrounds them. “In the Wilderness” parallels the primitive and riotous theme that the girls sing about in their debut single, “Wild One,” as do some of the lyrics in “Western Sky” that allude to the averseness of a “civilized roar” and the Darlins’ desire to “make [their] own noise.” The fifth track, coined “Optimist,” is the most similar to their old music. It includes Ramones-y three-chord riffs and fast, repetitive lyrics and percussion. “That Man” the pearl of the album. Its lyrics and melody are frustrated, pessimistic and mocking. The verses are steady and slow, but not in an agonizing manner. They flow like sticky, angry emotions and are the preposition of the angry climax anticipated by the listener. Those Darlins top it off with a provocative album cover of all four of their naked bottom halves, all intertwined and wrapped around each other. The album defies expectations in an artistic and unique manner while preserving some melancholy Nashville roots.

Ladle Fight - Grand China EP Release date: November 6

Ladle Fight has been one of Silver Spring’s own bands since they first started playing at Piney Branch Elementary School and the Folk Festival. Since then, they have been featured at SGR Spectaculars, the Electric Maid and even the Fillmore in Silver Spring. The band consists of four junior boys, two Blair students, Ben Miller and Zeke Wapner, as well Georgetown Day School student Ian Askew and Sidwell student Michael Untereiner. The new EP Grand China, encompasses many of the stylistic changes they’ve made since the middle school years. The debut it is a nostalgic and unembellished representation of their earlier music, but Grand China is definitely a big step toward a more sophisticated sound. With this greater step in sound comes more definitive vocals, catchier melodies, instrumental virtuosity and better lyrics, all of which are evident in the EP. There are major variations between all four songs on Grand China and it is hard to allocate a specific sound to Ladle Fight. “Poke Through” is a mellow beginning to the EP that features Ben Miller’s soporific voice “Grace,” follows suit with a more upbeat melody and a dynamic guitar riff. “At Least For A While” is a slower, optimistic song, and finally there is “Juniper,” which is a bit softer during the verses but has a slight whinier sound during the chorus. Though no one may exactly know what is in store for Ladle Fight’s its obvious their music could make it a lot farther than DC. Beyoncé – Beyoncé LP Release date: December 13 Renowned Queen of Pop, Beyoncé surprised everyone with the spontaneous release of her fifth album last Friday. The album features various artists including Drake, Frank Ocean, her husband Jay-Z and a cute surprise, her daughter, Blue Ivy. Beyoncé’s album possesses a characteristic of femininity and sexual prowess that is obviously different than her previous work. Each song has the Beyoncé sound but features a touch of Rihanna style sexuality. The eleventh track Flawless featuring Chimamanda Adichiehas has taken the music world by storm as Beyoncé proves to her critics she is more than a wife and mother and brings modern feminism to the forefront of society. Many of the songs on the album are either reminiscent of her past life or resonant of her current one. Jay-Z is featured in the song “Drunk in Love” which describes the love affair between the two that’s blossomed over the years. The last track, “Blue,” is Beyoncé’s ballad to Blue Ivy. Beyoncé sings, “Come on baby won’t you hold on to me,” in a sweet anthem for her baby girl that is sure to top of the charts. The album has many critics assessing whether or not the recent mother is trying too hard to be overtly sexual yet has also received praise for its liberating feeling. Beyoncé’s is the only album that has ever been entirely comprised of songs that were also made into music videos.

Lorde – Pure Heroine Release date: September 27

Internet overnight success Lorde’s single, “Royals,” was number one on the charts for nine weeks after it was released from her EP, The Love Club, which preceded her debut album, Pure Heroine. According to Lorde, she wrote the lyrics to “Royals” in a half hour and was inspired by the opulent luxuries and allusions to alcohol, drugs and beauty that so many artists, such as Lana Del Rey, seemed to be influenced by. Lorde’s single is a somewhat satirical response to this lucrative lifestyle. The other tracks on her album may not be as catchy as “Royals,” but each song features a synthesized beat, rather than a live band, which gives it modern feel. The technique is similar to that of Lana Del Rey’s music. “Tennis Courts” is not lyrically as strong as “Royals” but features a catchy chorus. She sings once again disdainfully about opulence and flashy jewelry again in “Team” and longing sings about the beauty of unknown cities and nitty-gritty communities. Lorde dropped a surprise single following her debut album, but it disappointingly sounds quite similar to songs on Pure Heroine. The 17 year old has much ahead for her in the music world and has already created a unique following. Miley Cyrus - Bangerz Release date - October 4 Everyone is familiar with the new Miley Cyrus that ate Hannah Montana and Miley Ray Stewart. Many don’t care whether she wears underwear in public or makes provocative gestures on stage, but there is an eminent divide between those who accept and those who reject the new Miley. Her music may be déclassé but its power pop chords and verses are a fun listening experience. Though each song won’t have Cyrus receiving an Emmy, the sentiment in “Adore You” reveals the singers obvious pain. The same heart wrenching melodies are found in songs “Wrecking Ball” and “FU.” Miley’s music has never been critically acclaimed but she definitely comes into her own in this album. Miley appears to be having fun making music that allows her to be fun and young. Her debut summer hit “We Can’t Stop “ is a direct example of this fun spirit. The chart top became the summer party anthem for many anfd won Cyrus several awards. In the sng Miley alludes to her new lifestyle of partying, hanging with friends, and other less school appropriate activities. Though everyone may not be a fan, many have gained respect for her. Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP2 Release date: November 5 Eminem’s LP, coined as a follow-up to the first Marshall Mathers LP that he released in 2000, may not live up to the expectations of many Eminem fans, but contains gems. The first song, “Bad Guy,” features some of the rappers weaker rhymes and a choppy tempo. Eminem still possesses the angry tone that incites passion in so many listeners, but it is no longer as powerful as it was in the Marshall Mathers LP or even perhaps Recovery. The verses in the third track, “Rhyme or Reason,” are superior to those in “Bad Guy” and the song itself is catchy and has a great beat. Eminem alludes to his non-existent father and how his absence has inspired him to write verses filled with such anger and passionate about him. The ninth track, “Rap God,” although repetitive in beat, features one of the albums strongest verses. Featured on the album is another Rihanna song following the success of Eminem’s previous, “Love The Way You Lie.” Though Rihanna adds a catchier feel to the song, her singing seems less cohesive on the track. Among the seven songs on the album that feature other musicians, one of the other most renowned artists featured is the continuously up and coming Kendrick Lamar in “Love Game.” The two male rappers both delineate their experiences with women and bad relationships. The song has a lighter aspect and a catchy verse and chorus. Justin Bieber ft. Chance the Rapper – Confident Release date: December 9 Dial to your town’s reliable pop music station and you’re bound to hear Justin Bieber blaring through your stereo. His songs usually feature his puberty induced voice belting about his latest girlfriend and how he want to eat fondue with her sitting by a fire, cause thats what all teenage romances include. Meanwhile Chance the Rapper has been sliding past the usual sugary pop songs and filling the ears of many a Blazer this year. Chance the Rapper’s new album, Acid Rap, has catapulted himself out of the “underground” music scene and into mainstream music. Rolling Stone named Acid Rap the #1 best mixtape currently out. These two dynamic artists have come together meshing Bieber’s undeniable pop voice with Chance’s smooth rap for a collision like no other. These two differing artists surprisingly go together as good as peanut butter and jelly. Both artists socially benefit from working together, Bieber trying to appeal to an older, hipper crowd and Chance trying to become more known and spread his demographic outside of just underground rap fan bases. The outcome of these two contrasting stars is called, Confident, and they’d got us hooked. The song starts off with a swanky beat, and Bieber’s sweet voice singing about how the girl he is with has a confident air. His charm feels as though it could be mixed up with Bieber’s name sake, Justin Timberlake. Bieber belts out a series of voice tricks and Chance’s rap is a refreshing twist within Bieber’s monotonous singing.


D6 Chips Clips Holiday Hullabaloo by Jesse Broad-Cavanagh

Gift Issues

silverchips

December 19, 2013

Across 1. “Woe __ __” 5. Developer of ethernet tech. 8. Bay area museum 14. Eastern European 15. Prefix, hard 16. Medieval manuscripts 17. Dwight Schrute’s Cousin 18. State University of New York: S._._._ 19. Fallen apart 20. Six point Jewish symbol 22. Less 23. Blazer home 27. Ball of gas 30. 1988 NL Cy Young 32. Kobe’s team 33. English river 34. Non Rapid Eye Movement 36. “_ __ in peace” 38. End of middle ages 40. Arctic fishing locale 42. Devious person 43. Small version 45. NY ball player; singular 46. __ and outs 47. Cream guitarist

49. Brooklyn basketball team 50. Spanish for “this” 51. An ogre is like an ___ 53. Holiday figurines 57. Short and stout 61. Chemistry experiment 62. Yarn hobby 63. Golfing zone 64. Melancholy rock music 65. Attention, abbr. 66. Boxers, slang 67. Opposite over hypotenuse 68. Math, biology, NSL, english

Down 1. Ideological suffix (plural) 2. Gambling machine 3. Japanese Steakhouse (local) 4. Winter tree variety 5. Thanksgiving dish 6. “World” in French 7. Cry a woe, exactly 8. Medieval shield bearer 9. Money collection 10. Soccer position, slang 11. Spanish for “gold”

Sudoku: Hard

Sudoku: Easy

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12. There’s two and a half of them 13. Enzyme suffix 21. Rat, cockroach, etc. 24. Ye olde flower growth 25. Shakespeare play 26. Winter weather (verb) 27. Duck face photo 28. Locomotives 29. Early morning SAT 31. To fib 35. To remake a coin 37. Eight day holiday, alternate spelling 39. Lemon drink suffix 41. Airport treat 44. Winter spikes 48. Driving plan, plural 52. Obnoxious rhetoric 53. Smelling device 54. Tolkien’s tree creatures 55. Italian ice stand, singular 56. Metro stops; abbr 57. Horned frogs 58. Long period of time 59. Australian dollar 60. Public Radio International

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December 19, 2013

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La Esquina Latina

Silver Chips 19 de diciembre de 2013

Se aprueba ley de amuento al salario mínimo

Luego de una fuerte batalla finalmente el sueldo incrementará

Por Jackeline Portillo El consejo de Montgomery County ha votado 8 a 1 a favor del aumento salarial de $7.25 que es el mínimo actual, a $11.50 por hora para el 2017. El estado federal no había llevado a votación el aumento salarial durante cuatro años. Sin embargo, el martes pasado estuvieron en intenso debate por casi cuatro horas para lograr ponerse de acuerdo en el aumento del sueldo mínimo. Este esfuerzo está siendo muy impulsado por los demócratas, que están a favor de que el sueldo de la clase trabajadora aumente. Mientras, algunos republicanos están en desacuerdo de cualquier aumento porque ellos están apoyando las grandes empresas, y creen que los empleadores contratan menos personas para trabajar incrementando aún más la tasa de desempleo. El aumento del cual se debate es de $11.50, no va a subir instantáneamente sino que se va a incrementar en etapas anuales. Por ejemplo el salario actual es de $7.25 que subiría a $8.40 en octubre de 2014. Anualmente el salario incrementaría a $9.55 en 2015, $10.75 en el 2016, y $11.50 dólares en 2017. A $11.50 una persona ganaría un estimado de $23,600 dólares anuales. Karina Dueñez del onceavo grado comentó, “Yo creo que el aumento

POR CINDY MONGE

salarial es una buena idea porque yo trabajo tres horas y aumentando el salario mínimo sería bueno [para mi].” No solamente afectaría a los mayores, sino a los estudiantes jóvenes que ya trabajan medio tiempo o tiempo completo. El presidente Obama ya había sugerido un aumento salarial nacional de $10.10 por hora, pero los republicanos del congreso decían que un aumento podía afectar el crecimiento del empleo. El ex-economista y jefe del Departamento de Trabajo Harry Holzer, advirtió que no era el momento de estar pensando de un aumento porque podría traer efectos negativos y que se debía de esperar

hasta el 2016. Pero sus consejos no fueron tomados en cuenta por los funcionarios del gobierno. Laura Ortiz del doceavo grado opina que, “Un aumento sería mejor porque la gente tendría más oportunidad de descansar más.” El aumento salarial es un problema que afecta a todos y se está viviendo en muchos lugares de los Estados Unidos donde los trabajadores se están yendo a protestar para que les aumenten el sueldo y tener mejor trato de parte de los empleadores y obtener mejores beneficios. En Ohio, en una tienda de Wal-Mart se estaban pidiendo donaciones a sus clientes

para los trabajadores que no les alcanzaba para tener su cena de Acción de Gracias. En 46 estados donde se encuentra la tienda de Wal-Mart, los trabajadores se pusieron a protestar de los bajos salarios que les dan. Sin embargo, la compañía no les dio el Día de Acción de Gracias libre, sino que exigieron que los empleados asistieran a trabajar. También en Washington D.C. hubo algunas protestas encabezadas por líderes de organizaciones pro-inmigrantes como CASA de Maryland, en contra de el injusto sueldo mínimo que se les paga a los empleados y la falta de beneficios esenciales como seguro de salud o días de enfermedad pagados. Este incremento del salario mínimo beneficiará a las personas porque ayudaría a mejorar las vidas y la economía de las personas. Al mismo tiempo ayudaría a la economía de muchas familias especialmente la comunidad latina. La señora Termini, maestra de inglés en Blair, comentó al respecto, “El costo de vida está aumentando, la gasolina está subiendo y es justo que suban los sueldos para tener una mejor vida.” Esta ley que se va imponer no sería posible sin los concejales que le dieron un gran impulso. Al igual la dedicación de los trabajadores y los ejecutivos de Casa Maryland que siempre trabajan para ayudar y motivar a nuestra comunidad.

El Club LULAC ofrece liderazgo y recursos para estudiantes latinos Por Marisela Tobar y Milena Castillo A lo largo de la historia estadounidense las personas de descendencia latinoamericana han enfrentado violaciones de sus derechos. Reconociendo estas dificultades la Liga de Ciudadanos Unidos Latino Americanos, con su siglas en inglés LULAC fue formada en los principios del siglo veinte para confrontar y llamar atención a las injusticias contra las minorías especialmente la minoría hispana. A través de los años, LULAC se ha expandido, no solamente enfocándose en la participación de adultos, pero también de jóvenes que quieren abogar para los derechos de minorías mientras adquieren habilidades de liderazgo. Daniela Velasquez, una estudiante de duodécimo grado, ha sido miembro de LULAC por los últimos cuatro años y la fundadora del club de LULAC en Blair. Daniela se enteró del programa LULAC a través de su mentor, la Dra. Yvette Butler, quien la convenció a buscar más información sobre el grupo. “Eventualmente me convertí en una participante activa de esta organización y este año asistí a mi primera gran conferencia anual de LULAC,” dijo Velásquez. Velásquez también noto que su participación en esta organización le ha dado oportunidades increíbles de conocer nuevos amigos y apre-

nder más sobre ella misma como una líder latina en los Estados Unidos. “Como yo otros estudiantes que vienen de todas partes de los Estados Unidos asistimos a un seminario donde nos juntamos en Washington, D.C. donde hablamos con congresistas sobre temas que son importantes y relevantes para jóvenes latinoamericanos como nosotros,” explicó Velásquez. Daniela también ha podido conocer a figuras prominentes de companias enormes como Verizon Wireless y la Asociación Nacional Hispana de Medicina. Apesar de todas la cosas maravillosas que LULAC ha traído a su vida, Velásquez dice que la cosa más importante que LULAC ha hecho por ella, es ayudarla a ser más consciente de la cultura hispana en los Estados Unidos y alrededor del mundo y sus situaciones diferentes. “Las estadísticas que he visto son fascinante e impactantes. Cada dia LULAC está ayudando a las personas documentadas, indocumentadas y quien sea LULAC les da becas, información, mentores, apoyo y esperanza a todos. Ellos aceptan a cualquier persona,” dijo Velásquez. Aunque ella y muchos de los participantes en LULAC tienen mucha confianza en las habilidades de su equipo, creen que la organización todavía tiene que ganar liderazgo, experiencia y dedicación para ser

Y tú, ¿qué piensas? Como se beneficiaran los hispanos con el nuevo aumento del suelo minimo?

realmente éxitosa. Viendo todas las oportunidades brindadas en LULAC, Velásquez ha tomado la iniciativa de comenzar una rama de LULAC aquí en Blair. Edvin España del décimo grado se ha visto interesado en LULAC y se ha hecho miembro. España se vio atraído por las oportunidades de LULAC y motivado por la experiencia de Velasquez. “Pienso que LULAC es algo bueno que trae buenas experiencias y cosas de

CONFERENCIA ANUAL Miles de jóvenes acuden a seminarios informativos, de liderazgo y educaionales (Arriba). Daniela Velzaquez en un taller informativo (Izquierda). Miembros de LULAC de differentes estados (Abajo).

las personas pueden aprender. Es algo nuevo para mi, nunca habia escuchado algo como LULAC” admitió España. Incorporando la misión de LULAC en la aún pequeña rama de LULAC en Blair, se espera que muchos estudiantes especialmente estudiantes de minorías se unan a LULAC para poder estar al tanto con los derechos civiles de minorías.

“La población hispana aumentará ya que las personas tienen más de una razón para venir a los EE.UU. debido a que el salario se elevadá.” Angie Mejia Noveno Grado

Además de aprovechar las oportunidades de mejoria educacional, profesional, y personal. “Espero que más personas lleguen a LULAC. Espero que se expanda para que no solo latinos o hispanos sean miembros pero tam

bién todas las diferentes razas. Creo que eso sería chévere,” entusiásticamente opinó España.

“Los hispanos tendrán más oportunidades para proveer a sus familias con las necesidades básicas como comida y ropa.”

“Más hispanos tendrán el deseo de trabajar. Además, van a ser capaces de cuidar de sus familias y a sí mismos con un mejor ingreso.” Bryan Roa Doceávo Grado

IMAGENES CORTESIA DE DANIELA VELAZQUEZ

Daniela Monreal Onceávo Grado

Paola Laure Doceávo Grado

“Será un beneficio porque con un sueldo más alto habrán más posibilidades de que familias hispanas puedan ahorrar dinero.”


La Esquina Latina E2

silverchips

19 de diciembre del 2013

La navidad revive tradiciones y costumbres Por Cindy Monge Villancicos, la rosca navideña, el ponche de frutas, la familia y muchas otras tradiciones se hacen presente durante la navidad en cada hogar latino. Cada familia tiene sus propias costumbres a la hora de preparar celebraciones navideñas. Este país que se caracteriza por su diversidad ya que personas de todo el mundo emigran a el. El resultado es una mezcla de culturas ricas en tradiciones y costumbres. Los latinos forman parte de dicha mezcla. Es durante las fechas de festejos cuando cada tradición se refleja aún más. No son el idioma y ser vecinos los únicos factores que unen a los latinos sino las tradiciones y costumbres que fielmente se siguen, estas se van pasando de generación en generación. U n a de las costumbres que nos han cambiado

muchas personas que residen en los Estados Unidos es de celebrar la navidad el 24 de diciembre. Aunque aquí en los Estados Unidos se celebré el día 25 de diciembre, Karla Flores estudiante del duodécimo grado comenta que su familia siempre celebra la navidad el 24 de diciembre, “Mi abuela fue quién nos impuso seguir la tradición de celebrar la navidad el 24, por que ella dijo que aunque vivamos en este país no podemos olvidar nuestras raíces,” comentó Flores. Ella es una de muchos latinos quiénes no dejan morir sus costumbres y aunque vivan en otro país no se olvidan de su cultura para asimilarse a otra. Momentos Familiares El Compartir en familia es primordial en el hogar durante estas fiestas. Ya que estas fechas son para celebrar, compartir y agradecer a sus seres queridos. Laura Ortiz, estudiante del duodécimo grado comenta que ella pasa una navidad agradable con su familia, especialmente por el buen

humor de su madre quién hace reír a todos. “Abrimos regalos y comemos muchos.. Mi mamá cuenta chistes en la noche y conversamos,” dice Laura riéndose. En estas fechas especiales las familias viajan de un lugar a otro con el fin de disfrutar navidad o año nuevo en familia. Karla comenta que sus hermanas regresan de la universidad y sus tías y primos viajan desde el estado de Texas hasta Maryland durante esta época. “Usualmente mis hermanas y mis tías viene de Texas y nos reunimos en mi casa,” Comenta Flores. Karla añade que sus tías se toman una semana de vacaciones para poder llegar unos días antes a su casa y pasar más tiempo juntas. “Vamos a recogerlas al aeropuerto una semana antes porque a ellas les gusta pasar más tiempo con nosotros durante navidad y celebrar ano nuevo.” La navidad es el momento en el cual la mayoría de las fotografías familiares ocurren por que todos los miembros de la familia se hacen presente. Flores explica que esta es una tradición familiar que su madre empezó desde hace muchos anos. “ Para Navidad mi madre manda a hacer tarjetas navideñas y fotografías familiares de mis hermanas y yo,” dijo Karla añadiendo, “Es algo que a mi madre le gusta guardar como recuerdo cada navidad.” Deleites del paladar Los hispanos tienen sus propias tradiciones, entre ellas y al inicio de la lista la comida. Durante estas épocas es cuando el paladar se complace con los ricos sabores de la comida latina. Los tamales son típicos entre los latinos. En casita nunca puede faltar la olla de tamales de pollo y de cerdo. Además los sabrosos postres,

como el flan de coco, La rosca navideña o la roca de los reyes como coloquialmente se le conoce y un buen chocolate caliente. Karla Flores, estudiante del doceavo grad o e x p re s a que la navidad para ella esta llena de momentos familiares. Pero su mayor deleite son los dulces postres preparados por su tía y abuela. “la comida que no puede faltar en la navidad es la ensalada de fruta de mi tía y el arroz con leche de mi abuela,” dijo. Laura quien es de raíces colombianas dice que en su casa no es navidad sin los platillos típicos de Colombia. “ El plato frío colombiano y jamón con salsa no pueden faltar en navidad, comentó Ortiz. CORTESIA DE KARLA FLORES

Hora de Rumbear

FAMILIA Karla y sus hermanas el dia de “Fiesta!” esta es la parte Navidad (Arriba). Durante la sesión de fotos donde se desgastan las familiares (Abajo). suelas de los zapatos. Pues donde ellos comparten. “Mi tía la celebración navideña no es nada sin la pachanga. Pero la ver- hace una fiesta y hace bailes, [y dadera fiesta se arma en ano nuevo. se] traen regalos,” dijo Rosales. Además de la fiesta cuando Todos quieren terminar el año festejando con la familia. También el reloj va marcando las doce en el año nuevo es una fecha espe- punto, todos se aseguran de tener cial en la cual los rituales de los sus doce uvas que simbolizan un supersticioso se hacen presente. deseo por cada mes del ano. “ [noLuis Rosales, estudiante del sotros] hacemos el conteo [regresivo duodécimo grado comenta que al finalizar el ano] nos abrazamos y él y su familia pasan la navidad [nos] decimos, “Feliz año nuevo!”.” en casa de su familia y es allí

CORTESIA DE ELIZABETH PHAM

Cada cuál con cada quién: Los circulos sociales en Blair

La inmensa diversidad crea diferentes grupos con interéses similares Por Ronald Sotelo Asistir a la escuela Blair, al principio no es nada fácil. Primero que nada, hay un promedio de 2,500 estudiantes inscritos en Blair, se puede comparar con la cantidad de estudiantes que acuden a una universidad pequeña. En la escuela hay estudinates de todas partes del mundo. Así que no sería un problema para ningun estudiante el sentir desacoplado del resto de los estudiantes. Al caminar en los pasillos durante la hora del almuerzo se pueden observar grupos de estudiantes en todas partes de la escuela. La variedad de círculos sociales de estudiantes en Blair es muy evidente. Un buen ejemplo de esto es Blair Boulevard donde se pueden ver chicos jugando naipe, escuchando sus ipods y otros haciendo tarea en grupo. Compartiendo Juntos Con el número de estudiantes y la inmensa diversidad es común que hayan grupos variados. Por un lado están los grupos académicos como el programa de Comunicaciones y Artes conocido como CAP, el programa de Matemática, Ciencias y Física conocido por sus siglas en inglés como Magnet. La mayoría de veces estos grupos se fomentan por medio de los programas académicos y extracurriculares a los que pertenecen. Dagmawi Assefa, un estudiante de Blair, expresa que prefiere pasar su almuerzo en las canchas deportivas al lado de sus compañeros. “ Siempre almuerzo aquí en las canchas con mi grupo que juega baloncesto [con migo] después de comer,” dijo Assefa. Compartiendo en su actividad favorita es como se divierte Dagmawi asi como tambien lo hacen muchos estudiantes de Blair. En el SAC durante los almuerzos se encuentran

AMISTAD Los estudiantes de Blair disfrutan de la compania de amigos cercanos durante la hora de almuerzo. Cada grupo tiene su propio espacio reservado para reunirse y hablar sobre su vida personal. muchos estudiantes comiendo y conversando como Gabby Fuentes, de onceavo grado, que comparte su almuerzo con sus compañeros de magnet. “Todos los días hablamos de la clase que tendremos el próximo período, porque muchos tenemos la clase juntos,” expresó Fuentes. Al tener un horario tan coincidente crea este tipo de vínculo entre los estudiantes. Además del SAC y las canchas deportivas, la biblioteca escolar ofrece un espacio para estudiar y silencio para que los estudiantes puedan enfocarse. Feranmi Phoenix, aprovecha la biblioteca no sólo por sus servicios pero para poder compartir con amigos, “Voy a la biblioteca para

FOTOGRAFIA POR MARISELA TOBAR

hacer tareas junto con mis amigos, y poder compartir con ellos por unos momentos.” En todas las partes de Blair se encuentra a estudiantes en grupos. Se dividen en donde haya espacio para estar. Todos los grupos son diversos. Una Hermandad Cada grupo tiene su propia identidad y

manera de expresarse. Mientras unos se divierten bailando, otros se dedican a pintar, las actividades varían entre los círculos sociales. Las porristas comparten tiempo juntas durante el almuerzo, al igual varios de los jugadores comen juntos durante el almuerzo. Luis Rosales, jugador de fútbol americano cuenta su experiencia de compartir su almuerzo con otros jugadores, “es juntos en el almuerzo donde nos hemos hecho casi como hermanos,” expreso Rosales. Esta misma experiencia es la de Diego Sosa que también valora la compañía de sus compañeros , jugadores también de fútbol Americano. “Nos hemos hecho hermanos” admite Sosa. Pues aunque pareciera que Blair está separado por grupo es más una hermandad que se ha creado entre los estudiantes que comparten los mismos gustos o simplemente se siente en confianza con los compañeros que comparten la mayoría de su tiempo. Al final de cuentas, en Blair los estudiantes encuentran el grupo en el que se sienten en confianza.

El programa “InDesign” utilizado para realizar el periódico de la escuela, está diseñado para la lengua Inglesa. Con tal propósito, Silver Chips ofrece disculpas por cualquier error gramatical que tengan las páginas de La Esquina Latina después de haber sido intensamente editadas. Gracias.


F1 Sports

silverchips

December 19, 2013

Athlete in profile: Jumping above the rim Blair athlete Wynston Reed strives to beat the school’s track high jumping records By Landon Harris “Good game, Good game, Good game…” is all senior basketball player Wynston Reed hears as he shakes hands with the winning team. He watches as some of his Blair teammates wander back to the bench, downing the remnants of their Gatorade bottles in an effort to wash out the sour taste of defeat. Just 30 minutes ago it seemed the fall league championship was in the bag, with the Blazers leading by double digits at half time. Now the team is just moments removed from a crippling overtime loss. Reed joins his teammates, feeling the worst of them all. For this wasn’t just his last fall league basketball game. It was his last high school basketball game ever. Reed has been playing basketball his whole life. He started playing organized ball in elementary school, and his love for the game has grown ever since, which is hardly a surprise considering the Reed family history. “My whole family plays basketball, my dad, my grandfather, my brothers, so pretty much ever since I can remember I’ve been playing ball,” Reed claims. Not only have the Reeds consistently played basketball, but they’ve played it at a high level. Reed’s two brothers both played varsity basketball at Blair, his father played Division I ball at Western Illinois University, and his grandfather is in the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin hall of fame for his achievements on the court. Reed followed in the footsteps of this long lineage, and for a while, ball really was his life. “I had a passion for basketball. I wouldn’t know what to do without basketball. It’s all I knew,” Reed remembers of himself at a younger age. That passion began to diminish however as Reed advanced through high school. The highly regimented and strictly disciplined structure of varsity basketball began to sap

some of the fun out of Reed’s more care-free the record books this track season and bestyle of play. “I stopped enjoying the sport. I lieves he can break Montgomery Blair’s high enjoyed the people, and I even enjoyed play- jump record and take home gold in States. ing pickup, but once I was in that organized “What I wanna do is break the high jump atmosphere, where I felt like I couldn’t be school record, hopefully in my first meet, myself, I lost passion,” Reed claims of his become number 1 in the county this winter, experience. and hopefully by spring become top in the Reed’s deteriorating interest in basketball state for high jump,” Reed says. However in the spring of his junior year did however lofty, Reed’s goals are certainly plausible. give way to the introduction of a new sport: Blair’s high jump record is currently 6’2, tied Track. At first the goal was just to stay in with the winning height of last year’s States. shape and condition for next year’s basket- Right now Reed claims he can jump 6’4. ball season. But once the track season kicked If Reed wants to maximize his potential off, it became apparent that track would be he’ll have to keep training in the winter a much greater opportunity than Wynston and spring. This of course entails quitting originally anticipated. In his first year with the basketball team. The decision to switch the team, Reed immediately became Blair’s was hard for Wynston to make and even top high jumper, and even qualified for harder for his basketball teammates to acStates. “Going into last track season I just cept. “They still can’t believe I’m not wanted to see what I could do,” says Reed, playing basketball,” Reed says of his “Once I found out how successful I could be now former teammates. “It’s tough in track, it just opened up my eyes.” for them and it’s also tough for me Last track season was not without hard- because these are my closest friends ship, though. Reed tore his groin in the very first meet of the season, but it wasn’t diagnosed until weeks later. Although Reed was able to tough it out in several meets, his injury held him back all of last season. “I was trying to be a macho man and just go through it. But I kept on digressing and the injury got worse and worse,” he says. After the meet in which he qualified for States, Reed visited the doctor and was told if he didn’t stop competing and go to physical therapy, the injury could become chronic. MIMI SIM His track season ended before he REED JUMPS Wynston Reed chose to quit could compete in States. This year Reed is healthy and the Blair Varsity basketball team for the has the potential to be even bet- 2013-2014 season in order to train for the ter. In fact, he has his eyes set on high jump and make a school record attempt.

and I want to play with them too.” Senior basketball captain Damar Bess echoes similar sentiments. “He was our man. He was a person that brought a lot of energy and brotherhood and community to the team,” he says. “It’s just something we got to deal with.” Although a little disappointed, Bess is definitely still supportive. “Well it would be nice to [have] Wynston on the team. But if his heart is really in track and he’s really talented in track, then I’m happy for him to go ahead and do that,” he says. Although leaving basketball is difficult, in order to reach his track aspirations, it’s a sacrifice Reed is willing to make. “I’m a winner and there’s nothing like winning. Basketball is my first love but there’s nothing like winning in track.”

COURTESY OF LEILA HABIB

Fall season record summary Girls: 3-2

Boys: 1-4

Boys’ Soccer 2013: 10-3 2012: 10-2

Girls’ Soccer 2013: 9-7 2012: 8-5-2

Compiled by Emily Daly and graphics by Kyle Desiderio


December 19, 2013

Sports F2

silverchips

Winter Sports Update Varsity Blazers kick off the season Boys’ Basketball

By Aditi Subramaniam and Alex Frandsen

Wrestling

The boys’ varsity basketball team is hungry for more. Coming off of a 15-9 season, the 2013-14 Blazers have a chance to permanently shatter the losing stigma surrounding Blair basketball. It might seem overly optimistic, but with three returning starters and solid talent all around, the pieces are there for a deep run into the playoffs. The players are unaware of that fact. According to junior guard and captain Danny Canary, “The sky’s the limit for this team. I think we’re going to have a great season.” If that’s to happen, then he’s going to have to contribute in a major way. And fortunately, all signs point to that happening. Resident sharpshooter of the team, Canary led the team in scoring last year as a sophomore, and will almost certainly improve this year. Alongside him is an abundance of talent. Senior Raymond Burtnick, a four-year player on varsity, is set to anchor the post, and seniors Damar Bess and Trey Wainwright round out a solid backcourt. Senior forward Lonnie Feldman, however, could be the critical piece to the puzzle. “Lonnie brings a lot to the table,” said Coach Damon Pigrom. “He’s long, he’s versatile, and he’ll allow us to do a lot of things we couldn’t do otherwise.” Feldman, who transferred from Kennedy, actually played a part in eliminating Blair from the playoffs last year. But now that he’s a Blazer, his height, athleticism, and shooting ability will allow Blair to diversify their offense. Great teams play great defense, and Coach Pigrom has made that a priority heading into the season. Said Pigrom, “Hopefully our defense and our press will be our strengths. We want to get after people and force a lot of turnovers, make teams uncomfortable and rushed.” To institute that kind of D, however, requires a certain fitness level. And after preseason conditioning, the players should be ready. “Coach has made us do a lot of running,” joked Feldman, “and has worked a lot on defense.” With that kind of emphasis, Blair should be all set to lock up other teams. Although there’s potential for an immensely successful season, the Blazers are staying focused on what they can control. “Right now, the goal is to just play hard all the time, and play together as a team,” said Pigrom. “And hopefully by the end, we’ll be division champions.” Feldman agreed, and stated, “Our first goal is to win the division.” There are a few games to highlight on the schedule. The Blazers travel to Northwood on 12/6 to start off the season, and take on Kennedy on 12/10 in a rematch of last year’s second round playoff loss. Then, on 12/16, talented Springbrook comes to Blair, in a game that’s sure to be competitive. When asked what match-ups to look out for, Canary said, “I’m really looking forward personally to our games with Springbrook, Kennedy and Whitman. I believe that those will be our statement games.” If the Blazers fulfill their potential, then this could be a statement season.

Indoor Track

The wrestling team, who finished last year with a record of 16-9, is looking stronger than ever, comprised of mostly returning varsity players and a few highly competitive players who moved up from junior varsity. Senior co-captains Minu Bidzimou and Oumarou Bitang have been training for the season since the summer, competing in individual tournaments and working out after school. Coach Steven Banvard praises these efforts and believes these two will be strong contenders at the tournaments. “They’re really dedicated to the sport. They both are going to be very well mentally and physically prepared for the season,” he says. Banvard is also looking forward to watching juniors Malcolm Williams and Anderson Yanga through their first varsity season. “Malcolm has just grown as an individual. He is at a physical peak and so far he has really impressed me,” says the coach. In order to send more wrestlers to regionals, the team is focusing not only on building technique but also on staying healthy. Banvard says that a number of players injured themselves last season and had to sit out of matches. “Our biggest challenge last year was injury,” he says. “Minu was injured at the end of last season with a shoulder injury.” Other injured wrestlers were junior D’Marco Warren, who tore his shoulder, and senior Keenthy Yeboah, who split his chin during the soccer season. Overall, Banvard is optimistic for the season ahead, certain that the boys can trump last season’s record. “I predict we’ll do better than last year. We’re poised to do great this year and our talent pool is very strong,” he claims.

Emma Howells

best to ease the situation and unify the team to match last season’s success. “We’re trying our best to make the team more comfortable even with the changes and just have everyone work harder,” says senior co-captain Gwladys Fotso. Senior co-captain Stephen Varello is confident that more runners will advance to states and even nationals. “We’re going to have more boys and girls go to states, and maybe some more go to nationals,” he says. Matthews, however, is not as optimistic. “I’m predicting to take five or six to states,” she says. “I would love more, but we’ll see what happens as the season progresses.” Emma Howells

Girls’ Basketball Last year was a developing year for the girls, who ended their season with a record of 11-13. With an entirely new starting lineup, the girls pushed themselves and were able to match the level of competition. “Last season we had a brand new starting five and bench rotation,” says coach Erin Conley. “The girls learned how to handle the pressure and competitiveness of varsity, and worked to improve each day.” This season, however, Conley has high hopes for team under the guidance of senior captains Erica Adarkwa, Maggie McClain and Shannon Healy. “This group is extremely versatile,” she says. “If they all play together, there’s no stopping them.” Conley also mentions junior shooting-guard Liza Curcio and sophomore point guard Camille Estrin as key returning varsity players. As they prepare for the season, the girls will be honing their defense skills, an area that Conley feels needs the most improving. “We have been spending a lot of time working on fundamentals of team defense,” she says. Adarkwa also stresses that, in addition to defense, she and the other captains will be working on improving communication between the players. She believes that effective communication, even more than agility and strength training, is what will secure wins. “We practice different skills every day, but the most significant portion is putting it all together to grow as a team, which is something we are still attempting to do,” Adarkwa says. According to Adarkwa, the team has a definite chance of making it past the second round of playoffs, the point at which they were previously eliminated. “Our division is currently devoid of a clear powerhouse,” she says. “So this season, we have the opportunity to move farther into playoffs and make a run come February and March.”

PHUONG VO

WINTER WINS Blazers across all winter sports prepare during preseason and look to succeed throughout the coming games, meets and matches.

The indoor track team is beginning its season with a shaky start. While the team sent many runners to the state competition last year and even a few to the national championship, there have been some major changes that both coaches and athletes will have to deal with this year. One of the primary issues is that coach Brenna Matthews has had to cut a significant portion of her team because the athletes did not turn in the necessary forms. “Our team has changed a lot in the past couple of days. I have cut ninety percent of my team because they didn’t have the right paper work, and paperwork is a coach’s biggest problem,” says Matthews. “We’re still trying to figure things out.” The team is also adjusting to the incorporation of football coach and physical education teacher Andrew Fields and his nephew, Stephen Fields, into the track and field program. “We have veteran athletes that are getting used to the new coaching styles and new athletes that are getting used to the program, so overall the team is a little shaky right now,” Matthews says. In light of this, the captains are doing their

Boys’ and Girls’ Swimming The swim team placed highly at many of the playoff and championship meets last season, and is poised to do just as well this year. The girls ranked 2nd at the regional meet and 7th at the final state competition. The boys came 4th in the Washington Metro Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Championships, first among all public schools. They also won 1st place at regionals and 2nd at finals. However, the team did not perform as well within the division. The girls came fifth with a record of 0-5 and the boys were at third with a record of 1-4. The reason for this disparity, says junior co-captain Sarah Aitken, is that the team’s talent is not evenly distributed. “We don’t have much depth but we have a few really fast swimmers, which is all we need to win championship level meets,” she says. Many of these fast swimmers graduated last year, including All-American and Columbia University Division I swimmer Jack Foster, but the team has some speedy new additions. Coach David Swaney cites junior Mark Girguis, and freshmen Thomas Brown de Colstoun and Madison Waechter as swimmers with great potential who are new to the team. “Mark is a fast breakstroker,” says Swaney. “And Thomas enters Blair with some of our fastest times ever – same with Madison.” According to Aitken, the captains plan to be even more involved in coaching younger swimmers in an effort to improve the team overall and do well in the division meets. “[We] are going to help coach practices more,” she says. “We’ll be taking kids aside to individually help them.” Both Aitken and Swaney believe that the team will be able to perform like their predecessors. “I expect the girls will place higher in the State and Metro Championship Meets than they ever have. And the boys have an outstanding chance at winning both!” declares Swaney.

Come out and watch our Blazers dominate!! See below and on page F3 for upcoming events. Swimming and Diving- 12/21/13 at 2:30 pm at MC-Takoma v. Walter Johnson Indoor Track and Field- 12/26/13 at 11:00 am at PG Sports Complex Wrestling- 1/4/2013 at 1:00 pm at Blair v. Magruder and Paint Branch


F3 Sports

silverchips

silverchips.mbhs.edu/section/sports

December 19, 2013

Cheering on the cheerleaders at county competition Blazers win third place out of eight, earn ninth consecutive spirit award

By Alex Frandsen For one day at least, the term “cheerleader” was a bit misleading. At the Montgomery County Cheer Competition on November 16th, the cheer squad, so often the source of encouragement at athletic events, found themselves being the ones cheered on. And if trophies are any indication, then the crowd support was well deserved. The Blazers snagged the third place trophy behind Clarksburg and Richard Montgomery, and won the spirit award for the ninth year in a row. Competition day is circled in red on cheerleading calendars across the county, and the raucous atmosphere reflected as much. Cheer teams from eight Division II high schools converged on the Nelson H. Kobren Gymnasium, and color-coordinated crowds tagged along as support. The bleachers were packed, and the shouting and cheering reached decibel levels unheard at most football and basketball games. But if that caused any kind of nervousness with the team, it didn’t seep into their performance. With an array of flips, tumbles, and stunts, the Blazers notched an impressive score of 384 from the judges, who looked at factors such as difficulty, choreography, and team cohesion. It wasn’t enough to knock Clarksburg or Richard Montgomery down from the top, but the finish

was more than satisfying enough for most of the team, who had to endure a significant level of adversity prior to competition. “I lost it.” That was co-head coach Sarah Fillman’s self-described reaction when she found out that a key member of the team, sophomore Edvin Espana, wouldn’t be coming to the final practice. Espana, who had suffered back spasms the day before, would not be available due to his injury, and that caused a cheerleading crisis. “This was eighteen hours before competition,” said Fillman when recounting the event, “and we had to rewrite several sequences in the routine.” For a team that had been perfecting a pre-planned routine for more than two weeks, the results could have been ugly. And on the morning of competition, things weren’t looking especially bright. Each team gets allotted one last practice run before the actual competition, and evidently, it went badly for the Blazers. “We had a horrendous run through. And I mean horrendous,” recalled Fillman. But luckily, the practice run proved to be merely a misstep, with very few tumbling mistakes in the final performance. “We were really stressed after our run-through,” said junior Shailee Bruck. “But it all worked out, and nothing fell down in the competition.” For captain Lily Gates, the routine was a successful culmina-

tion of all their preparation and practice. “Looking back on videos of our routine, it’s so evident how much all our hard work paid off. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but I couldn’t be prouder to be part of such an amazing family of talented and passionate athletes,” said Gates. The spirit award, given to the loudest and most supportive crowd’s school, was given to Blair for the ninth straight year. And while there may be a little bit of a handicap, given that the competition takes place at Blair, it’s still a source of immense pride for the squad. The sold out audience stomped and hollered for the duration of the two-hour competition, and that was enough to get the attention of the judges. In the words of Coach Fillman: “Our crowd is freakin’ awesome.” Gates agreed with that sentiment, stating, “It’s an honor to be part of a school that has such constant positive encouragement and enthusiasm, not only for our teams, but for others as well.” The emotions felt after the competition were mostly positive, but for some team members, it was bittersweet. This is the last county competition for the team’s eighteen seniors, meaning their cheer experience is drawing to a close. That’s a tough realization for some, who’ve adopted the team as a second family. “These are the people you eat with, you hang out

DEBBY ADLER

CHEER Blazers successfully perform a complex routine despite missing a crucial team member, netting third place overall. with, you sleep with,” reflected senior Daniela Velasquez. “It’s going to be really weird not seeing them everyday.” Gates, also a senior, reflected, “I’ve found that the team became my second family. The positivity, passion, humor, and diversity of the team is something so special.” The cheer family dynamic is evident to Coach Fillman, as well. “We really are a family, and many cheerleaders who go to other schools or colleges say they really miss that,” she said. “We cry

together, we laugh together, I yell at them when they won’t shut up, just like a family would,” she continued. That closeness is what makes her most proud as a coach. Of course, third place and the spirit award is nice, but for Fillman, the connections and relationships between team members are more important. “Above winning, above having a perfect performance, that’s what I care about the most,” said Fillman.

Blazers dominate at home

Lady Blazers beat Gladiators

By Alex Frandsen

By Samuel Popper and Kyle Desiderio

and we got scoring from everyone.”

Nelson H. Kobren Memorial Gymnasium, Dec. 11--

The Blair girls’ varsity basketball team will play its next home game on January 3 at 5:15 p.m. against the Churchill Bulldogs.

The girls’ varsity basketball team (2-1) opened their season with a blowout 46-13 victory over the Northwood Gladiators (01) on Friday, December 11. The Blazers scored the first 21 points of the game with suffocating defensive play and great offensive passing. Senior captain point guard Erica Adarwa and junior point guard Liza Curcio-Rudy were able to lead the offensive barrage with their high-quality passes. The tempo of the game began to slow, after the first quarter, bringing trouble for the Blazers’ offense. “When the tempo of the game changed, we struggled to score against their half-court defense,” Head Coach Erin Conley said. Although their offense slowed in production, the Blazers’ defense continued to shut down the Gladiator’s attempts to gain ground. Sophomore D’yonni Lebby was enthusiastic after the game about the team’s defensive play. “We played great defense. A lot of good, strong, hard, effort defense,” Lebby said. During the third quarter, the Blazer offense started to find its stride once again, this time through dominating the boards. Blair began winning a majority of the boards with seniors Debbie Olawuyi and Captain Shannon Healy leading the charge. This fierce, physical play kept Blair’s offense productive for most of the second half. In the final quarter, with the lead safe in hand, coach Conley made sure that every member of the team got into the game. She praised her team for doing a great job of spreading the ball around. “It was a great team win,” Conley explained. “Offensively, I thought we passed to a lot of players. I thought we got a lot of people involved,

insideSPORTS

Blair wins 62-49 against Kennedy Nelson H. Kobren Memorial Gymnasium, Dec. 13-This one must have tasted a little sweeter. With last year’s second round playoff loss fresh in their minds, the boys’ basketball team (3-1) rolled against the Kennedy Cavaliers in a 62-49 victory. Anchored by a stifling defense and a team-wide offensive effort, the Blazers pushed their record to 2-0 on the year. The defensive tone was set early on, as senior guard Anthony Davis swiped the ball away on Kennedy’s opening possession and laid it in for the first points. Scoring, however, wouldn’t come so easily the rest of quarter. Kennedy and Blair both unleashed full court presses.

PUONG VO

After four minutes of play, Blair’s offense looked stagnant. Following a timeout, junior forward Jordan Johnson entered the game and promptly began infusing life into the squad. Heading into the second quarter, the Blazers held a narrow 14-11 lead. Every time Blair appeared to be creating some sort of separation, Kennedy senior guard Keif Williams would make a play to close the gap. A beautiful layup by senior Tre Wainwright was promptly answered by a three-point play from Williams, and when Burtnick had a fast break score to put Blair up five, Williams came back with a three pointer to cut the lead back down to two. The third quarter was a Blazer-dominated endeavor. Stellar defense from senior guard Damar Bess led to easy transition buckets, and junior guard Danny Canary, who had been relatively quiet up to this point, poured in 11 points for the quarter, and heading into the last period of play Blair led 50-34. The pace of the game deadened in the fourth, as Blair focused on maintaining their sizeable lead. Sloppiness began to seep into the game as the clock ticked down, but the lead was never in serious jeopardy. The victory was thanks to a multitude of players, and after the game, Coach Damon Pigrom stressed that importance of having a complete squad. “One of the things we pride ourselves on is being good one through five,” said Pigrom, referring to the five starters. “We don’t have a quote-unquote star. We have talent, but teams that are solid from top to bottom at this level tend to do better.” Canary, one of the captains, reflected that belief that the Blazers have almost luxurious depth. “Anyone on our team can break out at any given game,” he said. The Blair boys’ varsity basketball team will

BOYS’ BASKETBALL Senior Raymond play its next home game on January 3 at 5:15 Burtnick defendss a Kennedy player. p.m. against the Churchill Bulldogs.

Blair victorious against Northwood

Blair Cheer see page F3

Blair cheerleaders won 3rd place at the county competition and also won the spirit award.

Winter Sports see page F2

A look at the Varsity winter sports teams at Blair.

ELIZABETH PHAM

Profile for Silver Chips Print Online Edition

December 2013 - Silver Chips Print  

December 2013 edition of Silver Chips Print Editors-in-Chief: Paris Parker-Loan and Dillon Sebastian

December 2013 - Silver Chips Print  

December 2013 edition of Silver Chips Print Editors-in-Chief: Paris Parker-Loan and Dillon Sebastian

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