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Montgomery Blair High School SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND

A public forum for student expression since 1937



Blair after hours C4

November 7, 2013

Winner of the 2012 National Pacemaker Award

Starr calls for later open

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By Alex Frandsen Superintendent Joshua Starr submitted a proposal to the Board of Education on October 8 to push back Montgomery County high school start times by 50 minutes. The proposed changes, which are based on findings from a bell times work group assembled by the Superintendent, would be instituted in the 2015-16 school year. Starr’s recommendation would also make middle school start times ten minutes earlier, while elongating the elementary school day by half an hour. In addition to starting later, the school day for high school students would end at 3:00 instead of the current 2:10 release time. CALLEY MAYER-MARKS

VOL 76 NO 2


‘TIS ALMOST FAIRY TIME Blair’s Bollywood version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream opened Oct. 31. Clockwise from top left, Puck (senior Sarika Ramaswamy) confronts a fairy (Eva Parks). Fairy queen Titania (senior Calley Mayer-Marks) dances with her newfound love, Bottom (junior Ben Holland). The four lovers quarrel as Demetrius (junior Conor James) and Lysander (senior Langston Cotman) fight for Helena’s (senior Anabel Milton) love while ignoring Hermia (senior Ronnita Freeman). See story, A3.

see START TIMES page A2

Superintendent submits new construction plan By Emily Daly


The Superintendent’s work group, assembled in December of 2012, spent more than nine months researching bell times and adolescent sleep patterns before compiling their report. They then submitted it to Dr. Starr, who used that information in his proposal to the Board. In a general press release found on the Superintendent’s website, Starr named student health as one of the main reasons for adjusting the current bell times. “If we are truly committed to the well-being of our students, we must consider the feasibility of adjusting our start times to support their health and success,” wrote Starr. Due to the complex nature of the

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr announced a $1.55 billion capital improvements plan for the next six years on Oct. 28. Starr’s proposal aims to combat overcrowding, especially in elementary schools, and involves a largescale expansion of classroom space. The plan continues the funding for the construction of five new schools, which are already in the planning stages, but does not recommend the

construction of additional schools. The superintendent releases a new six-year construction plan every two years in order to keep it up to date and relevant to the district’s needs. The plan generally addresses expansion projects, capacity projects, infrastructure projects, and technology modernization. The plan is separate than the budget according to School Board member Michael Durso. “Every two years the superintendent will come out with recommendations for ex-


The gender blind side

Cell phone law enacted in Maryland

Breaking into the half Nelson of contact sports

By Alexis Redford-Maung Maung

By Alanna Natanson On Friday night, the stadium lights blink on. The turf is green, the new scoreboard is reset to zero, and the stands fill with the electric hope for another victorious week. As drums roll and speakers buzz, our hopes and dreams tear through a paper banner onto the field, clad in shoulder pads and helmets and pure determination. Blair almost had a girl dashing under that gear. Almost. Now, as for every fall Friday for the past 88 years, the football field is a man’s world. There were 1,531 females play-


WORK OUT Montenegro joined football workouts last spring.

ing on high school football teams nationwide in 2012, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. That makes up about 0.14 percent of the total high school football players. In wrestling, another traditionally male sport, 3.12 percent of all wrestlers were female in 2012. Title IX, the federal law that forbids discrimination based on sex in educational programs, has been in place since 1972. Girls have the law, and at Blair, the support, to join traditionally male sports. But on Friday night, the crowd can only ask: why don’t they?

From joke to jock Maya Montenegro knows the answer. Last spring, the junior was looking for a fitness regimen for Mondays and Wednesdays, the days she wasn’t in Gymnastics practice. “I was watching the football team work out, and I liked their workout,” she says. Her friend junior Eric Kalala was the first to suggest half-joking that she might try out for kicker. “Football’s for everyone,” he says grinning. It was a game-changing conversation for Montenegro. “I actually

see GIRLS page F2


any kind of cell phone use unless they are using a hands free system,” he said. As stated by the MVA, drivers will be fined $75 for their first offense, $125 for their second and $175 for their third

provided by the MVA shows that nationally, 80 percent of vehicle The state of Maryland enacted crashes involve some sort of driver a law making the use of handheld inattention. It also states that on cellphones while driving a primaaverage, more than 30,000 people ry offense on October 1. Accordin Maryland are injured annuing to the Maryally as a result land Motor of distracted Vehicle Associadriving. tion (MVA), the Based on law prohibits additional handheld cell data collected phone activity by the Marywhile operatland branch ing a moving of the MVA, vehicle. “Law high school enforcement ofstudents are ficers can stop particularly a driver solely vulnerable, for using a cell with eight out phone – no of 100 drivother offense is ers aged 16-17 needed,” stated likely to be inthe MVA. volved in a car Sergeant ZEKE WAPNER crash within Marc Black of the next year. the Maryland PRISON CELL Using a phone while driving is now illegal in Maryland. Of those eight, State Police ex- Fines can get as high as $175 for repeat offendenders. two crashes plained that will result in a before October serious injury 1, officers could only fine drivers and any subsequent offense. or fatality. 2012 data also shows for use of cell phones if they first According to Black, the law that drivers aged 16-20 are more committed a separate violation. was passed to prevent car crashes likely to get in a crash than drivers “Before, you weren’t supposed to and injuries that were a result of aged 20-29. use cell phones while operating distracted driving. “The goal of Statistics collected by the Naa vehicle, and officers could only the new law is to remove distrac- tional Highway Traffic Safety Adpull you over for another offense. tions, because there have been ministration exemplify the Now, it has become a primary ofnumerous fatal crashes due to the fense and drivers can be fined for use of a cell phone,” he said. Data see PHONE LAWS page A3


A2 News


November 7, 2013

BNC faces complications with recent changes

Blair Network Communications’ modifications have caused a rough start for the program By Leila Habib



Mod Program. Blair’s Communication hits that digitizer, it’s delayed,” he said. BNC members considered solutions for Blair Network Communications (BNC) Arts Program (CAP) contributed the monupdated the content of its productions ey for the computers and cameras, which the problems, such as online streaming, but and its equipment for the 2013-2014 were $1,500 and $500 each, respectively. ultimately dismissed them because of cost. Adding to the multitude of changes, BNC “The free versions have commercials in school year, but the upgrades may have caused some broadcasting problems. attempted to broadcast InfoFlow digitally them, and the for pay ones are $99 a month, and I don’t think the school is BNC began presenting spegoing to pay $100 a month indefcial editions of InfoFlow, the initely to broadcast the morning daily morning announcements, announcements,” Bustillos said. each Friday at the beginning of Other staff members believed this year. These editions have adjusting the format of InfoFlow featured some of the work BNC would partially solve the probmakes aside from InfoFlow, inlem. “I’m in favor of audio-only cluding sports coverage from InfoFlows for Monday through Blair Sports Network (BSN). Thursday so we wouldn’t have “We’re making these short to worry about the audio/vitwo minute videos that will be sual matching up,” Tucker said. shown every Friday,” head of Due to the problems InfoBSN junior Rachel Ederer said. Flow had with its broadcastAt first, sponsor and Blair film ing, many teachers became teacher Bustillos was wary about discouraged and stopped turnBSN as students had attempted to ing it on, according to Bustilcover sports in the past and failed. los. “They don’t know how to “People tried to keep up-to-theturn on InfoFlow because it’s minute stats. That never worked not working. It’s not that they because running those stat shows don’t know how; it’s that they takes so much time,” he said. can’t,” he said. Many student This year, BSN refocused its members of BNC became discoverage more on the athletes. LEILA BARTHOLET appointed when more of their “Our goal is not to keep up with the scores, but instead show off the EQUIPMENT Two green screens and five cameras are just a few teachers were unable to turn on InfoFlow. “We actually invest team because I know from a per- additions among the new BNC equipment. a lot into presenting it every sonal sports standpoint, all you want is for people to see you once in a while through WinTV, an adapter that digitizes morning, and for some teachers to just and get some recognition,” Ederer said. the cable signal, instead of using a VCR in say they’re not going to make a few clicks In addition to changes in content, BNC every classroom. “Before, the cable used makes it seem like it’s unappreciated. Obpurchased new equipment for its produc- to go through a VCR that was hooked viously, there were some issues early on, tion studio. The equipment included 13 up to a Promethean Board, but they got but we still work on it for the school and Macintosh computers, five HD and digital rid of all the VCRs,” Bustillos explained. that should at least respected,” Kajubi said. However, WinTV did not work for many To help teachers, BNC has tried to find cameras, two new green screens, and a TriCaster electronic video switcher. However, teachers. According to BNC staff mem- ways to make it easier to turn on InfoFlow. Executive Engineer Kenda Tucker said it bers, the audio and video are not in sync “We’ve tried to make informational videos has taken some time to learn how to use the due to the way WinTV works. “The issue for teachers, and we’ve tried to make it into new equipment. “Roughly two months into with this method of broadcasting is the a YouTube clip, but teachers don’t click it,” the school year and we’re still not used to obvious lag between the audio and video Ederer said. Despite these attempts, some it. We’re trying our best, though,” she said. which we have thus far failed to remedy,” teachers failed to respond, according to The studio received the TriCaster switch- BNC staff member Kalanzi Kajubi said. Tucker. “We try to make it as easy as poser from MCPS TV Studios for roughly Bustillos further explained the technical sible for teachers to tune into InfoFlow, $10,000 as part of the countywide Tech causes. “When the signal from the cable but nothing is easy enough,” she said.

Delegate calls for more SROs Starr suggests Second attempt to put an officer in every MD public school By Grace Woodward



Means Committee. The Department of Legislative Services estimated the first Del. John Cluster (R-Dist. 8) is trying bill’s cost to be around $104.7 million for to pass a bill in one of the 2014 legislative 1,135 officers. Though Cluster wanted session that would place school resource to use Maryland’s Education Trust Fund officers (SRO) in every Maryland public to cover these costs, the Maryland Asschool. Montgomery County Public Schools sociation of Boards of Education, which (MCPS) has already increased security controls the fund, voted against the bill. measures independently, more than douCluster created a new bill with the inbling the amount of officers in their 25 high tentions of hiring retired police officers schools from eight last year to 20 this year. in part-time and contracted positions. SROs are police officers This bill would cost placed in schools as part of an estimated $78,900 the security staff. According a year per officer. to the Montgomery County The new bill also reDepartment of Police, SROs duced last years’ bill’s function as liaisons between proposed number of high schools and the police officers by over 200, department for related consuggesting an estimate cerns and incidents. The SRO of 900 officers. Cluster program also aims to inaims to give all of these crease the security and safenew SROs the ability to ty of school environments make arrests and carry Last year, there were 8 SRO’s for students and staff. a gun. In an article from in 25 MC high schools. This Over the summer The Gazette Cluster advoMCPS spent $1.67 million cated the need for additionyear there are 20 in 25 high on new security camal resource officers. “[These schools. eras. MCPS installed officers will] make a huge JENNA KANNER interior cameras at 37 difference,” said Cluster. middle schools and 18 Opponents of the bill, like high schools, exterior cameras at 38 middle Del. C. William Frick (D-Dist. 16) argue that schools and 25 high schools, and hallway cost is not the biggest concern. Frick claims cameras at 132 elementary schools in total. that the problem is the restrictions it would Security changes have come to Blair as put on school districts. In the same Gazette well, Officer Christina Splaine who last year article, Frick, one of the delegates who was placed in Blair as a part-time school re- voted doswn Cluster’s first bill, said he source officer has become full time. Kathy believed that the cost of the bill wasn’t the Greene, Head of Security at Blair, is glad only concern or even the biggest concern. to have Splaine at Blair. “With all the inciThe real problem, Frick said, was that dents that are going on nationwide they felt the bill will put restrictions on school the need to be proactive. Instead of hav- districts by forcing them to reallocate ing to call someone or pull someone off their funds. According to Frick local the streets who’s patrolling routine calls or school systems would have unique tacemergency calls for service, we have the lux- tics for school security and legislators ury of having our own here,” said Splaine. should help the schools with their variCluster introduced a similar bill that ous approaches. “The counties were lookwas voted down during one of last year’s ing for the ability to do school safety in legislative sessions in the state Ways and a more comprehensive way,” he said.




time change from START TIMES page A1

changes, Starr also stressed that everyone’s voice must be heard during the decision-making process. “I realize my recommendation may have a substantial impact on the lives of our students, staff, families, and school communities, therefore, we must take the time to determine the costs and operational impact of my recommendation and gather input from as many stakeholders as possible,” wrote Starr. According to superintendent spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala, this collection of input will come from students as well as the general public. “There will be four forums in the next year, and a student town hall in the spring,” said Onijala. Blair principal Renay Johnson fully supports this proposal. She believes that instituting later start times could help academic performance, as suggested by the work group’s research report. “If it’s good for the students, and will improve student achievement, then of course I support it,” said Johnson. But support for the adjusted schedule at Blair extends beyond just the administration. Sophomore Ben Alsberg is firmly in favor of pushing back the opening bell, because he thinks the extra sleep will be beneficial to students. “You can’t function that early in the morning. Getting more sleep will let kids take in a lot more information,” he said. However, the later start times could affect Blair differently than it would other schools, due to the CAP and Magnet programs. The extra ninth period class that students take as part of the programs could be moved to before the regular school day begins, meaning that students in these programs would report to school 45 minutes earlier than the rest of Blair.

November 7, 2013

News A3


Midsummer Night opens at Blair First show of the year runs October 31 to November 9 By Alani Fujii

Blair Theatre opened its adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Oct. 31. The play, set in India during the British Raj, directed by Kelly and John O’Connor, focuses on the story of several couples, whose love lives are turned upside down by the fairy duo of Puck (played by senior Sarika Ramiswamy and junior Ravyn Malatesta) and Oberon (freshman Grace Sperber-White and sophomore Lucy Glenshot), and a comedic group of tradespeople getting ready to present a play for the marriage of Theseus (senior Ethan Lee and junior Kalanzi Kajubi) and Hippolyta (seniors Chala Tshindu and Amie Idriss). This is the third double-cast Shakespeare play Blair’s done with intimate “black box” seating built right on the stage in the past four years. This year, Blair bought and rented additional seating risers. Because this left time to focus on the rest of the set, stage crew was able to finish the set long before the play opened, according to senior Kenda Tucker, the stage crew president. “Stage crew was really prepared. We finished the set a few weeks before, so by the time opening night came along, all we had to do was set up the risers, which had to be taken down for the teasers,” said Tucker. According to the O’Connors, they struggled with making Shakespeare more current and relatable

with students and our time period “Twenty-first century productions of Shakespeare have no hope of being ‘authentic’: we simply don’t think about the world in the way

actors that play the fairies wear saris, a type of traditional Indian clothing. “To untrained eyes, one Indian outfit would look like any other. So we needed a way of dif-


THOUGH SHE BE BUT LITTLE Demetrius (junior Conor James) attempts to calm a very angry Hermia (senior Ronnita Freeman) during white cast’s opening performance on Oct. 31. Shakespeare’s audiences did,” said Blair Drama and English teacher Kelly O’Connor. The O’Connor’s inspiration behind incorporating Bollywood themes into a Shakespearean play came from the Bollywood movie Lagaan (2001). In their rendition of Midsummer Nights Dream Blair introduces bright costumes, traditional Indian dance, choreographed by senior Aanchal Johri, and a colorful set to supplement the customary English play. The

ferentiating [that] these are the fairy rulers, and these are the mortals,” said Kelly O’Connor. Johri, who’s had experience in Indian dance, worked with Blair Theatre for the first time in choreographing the dancing scenes. She got involved after Mr. Ostrander, a magnet coordinator, recommended her to O’Connor after seeing her dance during Magnet Arts Night. “She’s terrifically talented and wonderfully enthusiastic,” said Kelly O’Connor. Many characters

in the cast have dancing parts that add to the lively personality of this Bollywood-inspired play. “I had played a couple songs for the students to create choreographed routines to and they had such a good time with it,” said O’Connor Johri has been impressed with the way the actors were able to learn and dance the choreography well. “They picked it up really well, considering that many had never experienced dancing Bollywood-style,” said Johri. The set was also student-made. The handmade map of British Imperial India is highlighted in the set. The floor also has a sariinspired design, hand-painted and stenciled by the crew. The play has two casts (red and white) and a number of roles added in for dancing fairies so that more people could have a part in the production. “I’m glad that there are two casts because for someone who hasn’t done this before, they get experience. I’m [also] glad that I don’t have to do all eight shows; that would be burdensome,” said Kajubi. With the first week of performances done, the both casts will perform at different show times this upcoming weekend (Nov. 7, 8 and 9). Tickets can be bought at the door or at the Attendance Office, $6 dollars for students and $10 for adults. Aanchal Johri is an Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online. Langston Cotman is this paper’s Ombudsman.

MCPS delays new grade system, continues Edline By Aditi Subramaniam Despite previous notions, myMCPS will not be replacing Edline during this school year, and it is uncertain when MCPS plans to make this transition. Launched in 2009, myMCPS is an all-encompassing database for teachers that stores information such as student grades, school registration information, curriculum, and professional development resources. The system also has a social media aspect that allows teachers across the county to connect and share lesson plans. Parents and students cannot access this information. Talk of a transition to myMCPS began in early 2013. The February 2013 issue of Silver Chips anticipated the switch to the new system, quoting former SMOB John Mannes saying that myMCPS would be ready for use at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. MCPS Department of Public Information and Web Services Senior Communication Specialist Gboyinde Onijala said that the county is still working on expanding the myMCPS system to accommodate students and parents. “Over the past two years, we’ve been working to build the parent and student myMCPS virtual community that connects to the existing staff myMCPS. Once the development work is complete, we will work with schools to pilot this new application,” she said. As a finished product, myMCPS will be a central location that stores all information pertinent to teachers, students, and parents. According to Onijala, myMCPS will include the features available

on Edline, but that those features are only a small portion of what’s to come. “The myMCPS portal expands far beyond the Edline system. The myMCPS portal integrates multiple data systems, thereby allowing for dynamic reporting on student progress, integrating curriculum resources, implementing Web 2.0 communication and collaboration tools, and incorporating digital planners for teachers,” said Onijala. Onijala does not know when myMCPS will be ready for students and parents to use. And even when it is ready, the pilot program will introduce the system only to a small cluster of schools before implementing it countywide. “The pilot will inform us us of enhancements that need to be made and will set the timeline for implementing the myMCPS parent and student portal in all schools,” she said. Blair Librarian and Edline Supervisor Andrea Lamphier claimed that although she was aware of rumors surrounding a transition to myMPCS, she was not expecting to do so for the current school year. “By June I knew were would be using Edline again this year,” she said. Not switching to MyMCPS this year might actually be a blessing in disguise, according to Lamphier. As part of the Technology Modernization initiative, Montgomery Blair received various technology updates over the summer, including new computers, software updates, and a wireless network. “I think in some way we caught a break,” said Lamphier. “It’s hard for teachers to get training and hit the ground running.”

Newsbriefs Police install cameras on school buses

Montgomery County Police plan on installing cameras on school buses to automatically record drivers who illegally pass buses. The cameras, which should be ready to use by January, will be installed on the 25 school buses whose routes have the most passing incidents. Police will install wiring on 75 additional buses so the cameras can be exchanged between buses. According to an Oct. 22 memo from the Montgomery County Council staff, the county’s contract allots the funding for 75 additional cameras. Violators will pay a $125 fine. About 400 of the 1,270 MCPS buses currently have continuously running cameras which do not automatically record drivers who pass the stopped buses but can be used to examine the footage for violators.

Bridge At Wheaton Mall collapses

A pedestrian bridge connecting the parking garage at the Wheaton Metro station to an entrance of the Westfield Wheaton mall partially collapsed Oct. 18. A trash truck hit the bridge at around 6:00 am with its raised lift, causing it to break. A gray Nissan Altima then had to be towed after experiencing damage when attempting to drive through the debris. No injuries were reported, and all mall operations continued after the collapse, although the bridge and the street underneath it had to be temporarily closed. Part of the ceiling which connects the parking garage to the lower level of Macy’s also collapsed in Oct. 2012.

PG County students punished for dress code violation KYRA SEIGER

MIDNIGHT MISCHIEF Puck (junior Ravyn Malatesta) calls on the dancing fairies to help cure the enchanted lovers with magic flowers.

Cellphone use prohibited from PHONE LAWS page A1 dangers of teenagers driving while using their cell phones. “Nationwide, distracted driving was to blame for 3,331 roadway fatalities, 387,000 injuries and 10 percent of all crashes in 2011. “ The Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia Research Institute reinforces the fact that a high percentage of teenage drivers text and drive. “The percentage gets higher for drivers 19 or younger, with 21 percent who were involved in fatal accidents said to have been distracted by their cellphones”. Sergeant Black agrees, stating that the new law will encourage safer teenage driving habits. “It will make them safer drivers. With one less distrac-

tion there will be a reduction in the number of crashes,” he said. For some Blazers this law will change driving habits, but others will not be affected. Junior Ben Segal stated that he does use his cell phone while he drives. “I check my phone while driving, but only actually use it while I’m stopped.” He said that the new cell phone laws will make him more careful but not completely change his ways. “Now, I’ll probably check my phone less often, but I will still look at it in case someone needs to contact me,” he said. Senior Michelle McGhee said that she did not use her phone while driving even before October 1. “The cell phone laws won’t affect me because I already don’t use my phone while driving,” she said.

About 75 students at Friendly High School in Prince George’s County were given in-school suspensions Oct. 26 for violating the school’s uniform policy by wearing pink shirts to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A school system spokesman said the students would be given excused absences and allowed to make up their work. Principal Raynah Adams told the students they could not wear pink to school due to dress code and security concerns. When some students came to school wearing pink shirts, the school gave out shirts to some students so they could attend class. Once the school’s supply of shirts ran out, administrators gave students inschool suspensions.

Newsbriefs compiled by Kelsey Gross

A4 News Newsbriefs Mold Outbreak at Rolling Terrace ES Parents of students at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park testified Oct. 24 at a meeting of the Montgomery County Council’s education committee about their concerns about a recent outbreak of mold. PTA leaders and parents believe the mold, which has been found in 30 Rolling Terrace classrooms and several other rooms in the school since September, has made students sick. School leaders have proclaimed that the school is safe, but Craig Sharman, leader of a PTA-appointed mold task force at Rolling Terrace, said before the meeting that new blotches of mold have been identified as recently as the week before the meeting. M.A. Cecil & Associates, an independent firm hired by the school, did air quality sampling and noted acceptable spore levels in all classrooms except for two, but recommended a thorough cleaning.

Taskforce Makes Recommendations to Improve Night Life The Nighttime Economy Task Force to the County Council recommended later bar-closing times, looser liquor restrictions and changes to noise ordinances on October 21st as ways to give Montgomery County a more exciting night life. The task force, appointed by County Executive Isiah Leggett, worked for more than six months before releasing their 32 recommendations. The recommendations include changing the limit for a restaurant’s alcohol sales from 50 percent to 60 percent of profits and creating a “social venue license” which eliminates this limitation altogether. The task force also made suggestions about public safety, the implementation of food trucks, parking options and activities in public parks. The task force’s goal is to bring more 20-34 year olds to Montgomery County and contribute to its economy by boosting its nightlife.can get excused absences.

Regal Majestic Theater Evacuated The Regal Majestic Theater in Silver Spring was evacuated Oct. 27 due to bomb threat. The evacuation, which happened at 9:50pm, was described by observers as “orderly,” with Motngomery County police officers stationed both outside of and inside the movie theater. The intersection between Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive was temporarily shut down for the duration of the evacuation. A police spokesman said the evacuation occurred when an observer called 911 to report a suspicious person who said he was “going to blow the place up.” Some police officers were stationed at the AFI Silver Theater a few blocks away as well, although that movie theater was not evacuated. The theater has reopened without any similar incidents reported.

Newsbriefs compiled by Kelsey Gross

November 7, 2013


Science department to raise baby terp Blair joins thirty schools caring for endangered state mascot

student interest, Balla explained administrator William Currence, Balla. founder of the Terp program at Students will be given different that she held a class vote to dejobs including feeding the terra- termine the new terrapin’s name. A newly-hatched diamondback Blair. Blair had been on a waiting list pin, cleaning its tank, and taking “The name ‘A$AP Terp’ is the one terrapin arrived at Montgomery Blair High School on Oct. 1, to participate in the program until its measurements each day. Balla that won in terms of votes, so that’s through the National Aquarium’s last year. “I was working with these said that it is important that ev- the name we’ll use in class. But for “Terrapins in the Classroom Pro- scientist at a [gifted and talented] eryone do their part to ensure the the purpose of official documents s u m m e r health of the terrapin. “The prepa- the terrapin’s name is Michaelangram,” and center one rations aren’t too bad; it’s an easy gelo,” said Balla. is scheduled s u m m e r thing to start but you have to stay in and they to keep up with it and room 362 told me make sure that the terp under the about the has everything it needs, care of biolp r o g r a m . not only to survive but ogy teacher After that also to be happy because Desiree I applied it is a living thing afterBalla until it and I went all,” said Balla. is released on a waitBalla also said that she sometime ing list for is going to start incorin the early MCPS Director of Enriched Programs the ter- porating lessons related spring of rapin for to the terrapin into her 2014. Marty Creel three and a lessons. “Really why I Balla will half years,” brought the terp here is be in charge said Cur- for [students]; so [they] of charting can see him grow up and the creature’s growth and send- rence. Balla, along with teachers from learn about the cycle of ing weekly updates to researchers back at the National Aquarium. all the other schools participating life,” said Balla. In an effort to increase Balla said she put a lot of effort in the program, attended a semiinto making sure all the proper nar where she was taught preparations were taken care of how to set up the habitat and before the terrapin arrived. “I given an education program picked it up at the aquarium in license. “They talked to us Baltimore in the Aquarium’s park- about how to care for the ing lot. I already had the enclosure Terrapin. What we’re doing ready and it’d been running for a is raising this terp but doing week or two to make sure all the so in a way that’ll increase its size much faster [than it conditions were right,” said Balla. The program was initiated to would naturally] so that it help replenish the terrapin popu- can be released safely in the lation in Maryland and allow Dr. springtime,” said Balla. Because there is so much Willem Roosenburg, a biology professor at Ohio University, to to do in order to ensure the conduct his research on terrapin health and happiness of the nest predation and population terrapin, Balla said she is dynamics. Currence explained hoping to get her students that the terrapin’s release process more involved in the process in the spring is very important to of caring for it. “Over the Roosenburg’s research.“In May next couple of weeks, stuthey put a radiofrequency chip dents will actually take ownunder the terrapins skin and re- ership of the Terrapin. We’ll PHUONG VO lease it. Then the researchers go decide if it’s voluntary or out in boats, capture the terps and it we want to assign people LITTLE TERRAPIN Blair biology teacher Desiree Balla will take care of scan them to see how fast they certain responsibilities each the baby terrapin until spring 2014; students can find it inside room 362. grow and where they travel,” said day. It’ll be a class vote,” said

By Milena Castillo

“This terp is still a little small and scared, but I’m sure he’ll start to come out of his shell eventually.”

Starr proposes six-year, $1.5 billion plan Money will be split between expansion and improvements from CONSTRUCTION page A1

-pansions and additions that is totally separate from the rest of the budget,” he said. Starr said when announcing his plan that MCPS actually needs to spend $2.2 billion to reduce overcrowding and accomplish his goals of making schools more effective for every learner. He lowered his request to $1.55 billion because of the finances of local state taxpayers. According to Dana Tofig, the director of public information and web services for MCPS, the Board of Education will review the plan. “The Board has just begun reviewing Dr. Starr’s plan and will hold a work session on Nov. 7, as well as two public hearings next week, before voting on a CIP request that will be sent to the county,” he said. During a work session the board meets to review a document and make changes, and a public hearing allows anyone to make a public comment for the board to consider. The proposed construction plan is $183.9 million more than that current construction plan, but is still less than the demonstrated need in the school district, according to Starr. In fiscal year 2014, MCPS received about $35 mil-

lion in state aid, which is about $114 million less than the district requested, according to MCPS. According to Durso, the money will have to come from the state construction fund and the county. “The school board does not have authority to raise money, and with schools growing so much each year we are having a hard time keeping up with that growth,” he said. Starr acknowledged in an Oct. 28 press conference that the proposed capital improvements budget may not be enough, but it is as realistic as possible. “I am hopeful that a solution can be found, but I have to develop my budget based on what I know, not on what I hope,” he said in a release on the MCPS website. Starr said the focus on capacity projects to increase the ability of a classroom to hold many students and add additional classrooms are necessary because of the high increase in enrollment of elementary school students. It is thought that solving this problem now will lead to fewer problems with space in the future. “If approved, my [construction plan] will ease these challenges in some areas and will also help us get ready for when that enrollment bubble hits our secondary

schools,” he said in a press release. To solve the overcrowding problem the school board may also need to redraw some boundaries which will be difficult. “There are a number of areas that might involve changing boundaries which is a very contentious issue,” Durso said. Forty-seven percent of the projected $1.55 billion plan is recommended to be spent on revitalizations and expansions of schools. Another 25 percent of the money is projected to be spent on projects to increase the capacity of classrooms. Starr’s plan is based on a study conducted by MCPS in 2012 on 12 Down County Consortium schools. The study found that five of the schools need new classroom additions in order to have sufficient space for students. These five schools include Brookhaven, Glen Haven, Kemp Mill, Sargent Shriver and Highland elementary schools. According to Starr, MCPS enrollment has increased by about 2,500 students annually; 90 percent of whom are elementary school students. MCPS officials do not expect any decrease in elementary school enrollment in the near future. In the past six years, more than 14,000 new students have

enrolled in MCPS and MCPS enrollment has increased more than every other school district in Maryland, according the school district. It is projected that over the next six years 11,000 more students will enroll, according to officials. Eighteen percent of the proposed spending is recommended to pay for infrastructure upgrades, including new roofs, windows, and doors as well as new safety and security updates. A main focus of the infrastructure improvements is the replacement of all outdated heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems. In order to begin replacing the old systems, Starr is requesting an additional $28 million in funding for fiscal years 2015 and 2016, according to a document published by MCPS. About 10 percent of the recommended construction spending would be used for making technology in classrooms more current, such as new computers and the infrastructure needed to support them. The construction plan also provides funding for the continuance of the revitalization and expansion of six schools in Montgomery County, including Bel Pre Elemntary School, Candlewood Elementary School, Seneca Valley High School, Thomas Edison School of Technology and Wheaton High School.

November 7, 2013


ADs A5

B1 Opinions silverchips 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 2013 Columbia Scholasitc Press Association Gold Medalists with All-Columbian Honors 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 Editor: Isaac Jiffar and Evan Morris Managing Entertainment Editor: Kenyetta Whitfield Production Manager: Kyle Desiderio Managing Design Editor: Desiree Aleibar Outreach Coordinator: Kenyetta Whitfield Ombudsman: Langston Cotman Distribution Supervisor: Alanna Natanson Fact Checks Supervisor: Rebecca Naimon Extras Editor: Aditi Subramaniam Newsbriefs Editor: Emma Rose Borzekowski Public Relations Director: Maya Habash Executive Business Director: Allie Fascione-Hutchins Jared Collina Business Staff: Liza Curcio Mattan Berner-Kadish Elana Rombro Ian Jackson Jackeline Portillo Ismail Nur Page Editors: Jesse Broad-Cavangh 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 Editorial Cartoonist: Eva Shen Managing Photo Editors: Leila Bartholet Zeke Wapner Photographers: Leila Bartholet Mimi Sim Kyra Seiger Phuong Vo Zeke Wapner Managing Arts Editor: Eva Shen Artists: Katrina Golladay Maggie McClain Elizabeth Pham Ben Safford Eva Shen Puzzle Editors: Jesse Broad-Cavangh Wesley Hopkins Copy Editors: Paul B. Ellis Professional Technical Adviser: Peter Hammond Advisor: Jeremy Stelzner

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November 7, 2013

Sexism in music: we listen, but do we hear? The degradation of women has been taken too far in the music industry By Landon Harris An opinion “I love bad b****** that’s my f***** problem.” That’s one of the most quotable lines in music in 2013. And yes, it’s a problem. But contrary to what the song would have you believe, the issue isn’t 2 Chainz love for the ladies. The real problem is that in today’s music “bad b****** is not only the socially acceptable way to refer to women, but often times the highest form of flattery. Gone are the “pretty ladies” and “beautiful girls” that music has so long attempted to serenade, replaced instead by derogatory terms such as “bad b******” and “sexy h***”. The degradation of women in music paints an image of females as little more than inanimate objects subservient to male desires. And although it’s easy to bob my head as 2 Chainz boasts about his physical relations with women, in the back of my mind, it’s apparent that he is a reflection of this prevailing sexist culture in the music industry. It would be unfair to exclusively chastise 2 Chainz though, as demeaning treatment of women extends beyond just hit-makers with questionable lyrical ability, and onto even those more critically acclaimed for their musical genius. Take Kanye West as an example. Despite his recent engagement and the birth of his daughter, there has been a spike in the degradation of women in West’s recent music. In fact, many of the messages purported in West’s latest album, “Yeezus”, are unequivocally misogynistic. Most of the lyricism of which I speak is too explicit to be printed, but in general, women in “Yeezus” are viewed as one of three things: a number, a sexual vehicle, or a gold-digging groupie. Themes present in the album include adultery, emotional detachment from women, and even physical violence toward them. Whether West fosters a burning hatred for women or not, it’s hard not to cringe as he suggest inserting his fist like a “civil rights sign.” But, as a testament to just how desensitized we have become to misogyny in music, “Yeezus” has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide. Although hip-hop music receives the most criticism, sexism can be found throughout all musical genres. Techno-pop hit and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) certified triple platinum selling single “Sexy B****” by David Guetta featuring Akon proudly declares its derogatory message in the title to immediately assuage any suspicions that women in the song are treated with respect. What’s funny about this song is that it is so keenly aware of its demeaning lyrics toward women. “I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful,” Akon sings on the hook before ultimately giving up and deciding “sexy b****” is the only way to communicate the attractiveness of the girl’s appearance. Essentially the song’s overarching message is that it’s impossible to describe beautiful women in a respectful manner. They’re just too damn sexy. Country music exhibits a similar capacity to bypass morale judgment in its portrayal of women, as many of the motifs it expresses towards women are far from wholesome. Country icon Kenny Chesney’s hit song “Out Last Night”, for instance, advocates an “any means necessary” approach towards picking up women. “Well last night I was ev-

erything when I got a few drinks in me I was a doctor, a lawyer, a senator’s son, Brad Pitt’s brother and a man on the run, anything I thought would get the job done,” Chesney sings, implying that lying, tricking, and fooling women are all acceptable behaviors if it’ll get them to go to bed with you. In the music industry, women are often objectified as little more than trophies worth acquiring, rather than human beings worth interacting with. They are viewed as status symbols and as a measure of success, the logic being the more girls you got, the more you should be admired. This mentality is clearly illustrated in the song “Successful” by Drake and Trey Songz, in which the chorus goes “I want the money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes, the hoes, I suppose I just wanna be successful.” Similar to a stack of benjamins, a bugatti sports car, or a Versace chain, glamorous women are just another way for successful artists to flaunt their wealth. This gives women material worth, but leaves them devoid of any interpersonal value. If not tokens symbolic of success, women are commonly seen as sex objects in music. “I leave females in my sheets and all my feelings in a rubber,” raps Big Sean in the song “Looking for Trouble,” representing the widespread idea that relationships and feelings should not go deeper than physical attraction. In music, and especially in hip hop, the status quo is for men to “hit it and quit it”. In fact, when a male artist does express a longing to cultivate a more personally intimate relationship, he can be ostracized for it. Despite his immense celebrity, Drake is widely regarded as one of the “softest” rappers in the music industry for lyrics such as “I better find your loving, I better find your heart, I bet I give all my heart then nothing’s gonna tear us apart.” But is it really a bad thing for Drake to attempt to find real love? Well in a culture in which women lack emotional worth, yes it is. As the view of women as physical objects has become more predominant, male artist have also become increasingly possessive of women. If women are equated with material possessions as symbols of wealth, then theoretically they belong to the male artists that own them. “And she ain’t shy no more, she changed her name to my b****,” Lil Wayne claims in his Grammy award-winning single “A Milli” as if belonging to Lil Wayne is what best defines this woman. Kanye West and Jay Z express similar sentiments in their “Watch the Throne” collabo “That’s My B****”, in which they predictably discuss the women they own. The demeaning attitude toward women in music also has a profound effect on the careers of female artists. They are pressured to maintain the derogatory image of women as material possessions and sexual objects, limiting the creative freedom they have in their music. A female artist’s musical talent is belittled because what’s most important isn’t actual musical ability but rather physical appearance. It’s a near necessity for female artists to attract males in order to sell their brand in the industry. A prime example of this unfortunate truth is Rihanna’s transition from island girl making “Music of the Sun” to “Unapologetic” bad chick performing “Rated R” content. When Rihanna released “Good Girl Gone Bad” in 2007, it wasn’t just an album title, but a lifestyle change that resulted in a meteoric rise in fame.

But while adhering to the mantra “sex sells” can result in a spike in popularity, it also leaves female artists vulnerable to constant criticism and incessant scrutiny. Many are quick to reprimand Rihanna and more recently Miley Cyrus for their sexual lyrics and performances. But the horrified mothers and social conservatives who beg Miley to “think of the children” do not even acknowledge the role men play. Take Miley Cyrus’ controversial VMA performance, which was being lampooned in every major publication a couple months ago. The performance is abhorred by

in an industry where men define how they are perceived. Yet, at the same time, overt sexuality is the quickest way for women to fall out of public favor. And still an expiration date placed on a female artist’s career based on how long she can maintain her sex appeal. Once a woman reaches an age when she is no longer considered sexy, her career begins to take a sharp decline. Male artists don’t experience this to nearly the same the same extent because their value in the music industry is not so directly entwined with their physical appearance. This is why Jay Z can go



SEXISM IN MUSIC The artisit 2 Chainz regularly refers to women as objects in his songs, which contributes to the degradation of women. Rihanna is pressured to maintain the “bad b****” image.

those who deem her responsible for the sexualization of young girls. Less talked about is the fact that a majority of the performance was Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and that Thicke was right alongside Cyrus the whole time. “You’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature,” Thicke crooned in the songs catchy bridge, as Miley acted like an animal on stage. The feminist cry that “Blurred Lines” is intentional encouragement of date rape may be a bit extreme, but it’s hard to argue Miley’s promiscuous performance was inappropriate given the context of the song. Yet it’s Miley, the female figure, that is one of the most criticized artists in music, while “Blurred Lines” appeared at #1 on the Billboard Chart for 13 straight weeks. This all culminates in female artists being caught in an impossible position. On one hand, they’re forced to promote their sex appeal in order to stay relevant

double platinum at age 43, while the once equally popular Mariah Carey is nearly irrelevant at the same age. The degradation of women in music and its effects on female artists will only continue to worsen as many artists are either too oblivious to notice, or too indifferent to care. On occasion there is an artist that is critical of the sexism that exists in the music industry. Lupe Fiasco, for example, masterfully dissects the frequent use of the word “b****” and its effect on the younger generation in his song “B**** Bad”. “B**** bad, women good, lady better,” Lupe chants in the hook in an attempt to alter his listeners conception of “bad b****” to literally mean something bad. But even so, for every “B**** Bad” there are 30 “I Luv Dem Strippers”. This disparity must be closed because the first step towards eliminating sexism in music is simply being conscious of it.

November 7, 2013

Opinions B2


Should the SAT be abolished across the nation?




No SATisfaction: Abolish the test.

The SAT fills in the bubble. ZEKE WAPNER


Alex Frandsen

Kelsey Gross

In the struggle to get a good score on the SAT, fairness and equality have fallen to the wayside. Scores have become more and more dependent on the amount of money poured into test prep, and if you’re poor, a minority, or a woman, you’re already statistically at a disadvantage. The test has become almost a dystopian entity, and the inequality of it is affecting high school students everywhere. The SAT is an unfair and unequal institution, and it’s time to abolish it. $7200. That’s how much a “premier” private tutor from Princeton Review costs. That kind of investment doesn’t just put a dent in your wallet. It takes your wallet and blows it up, and then dips into your savings for a little more. But for some parents, that kind of financial investment isn’t so crazy, because Princeton Review guarantees a boost in your score. If they don’t pay up, then some other parents might. Although $7200 is an extreme example, that same logic runs throughout all SAT prep classes. If you really want a high score, it’s best if you have several hundred dollars lying around. Because otherwise, you might just get left behind. Scores are becoming increasingly divided among income lines, and poorer kids are suffering because of it. If only a certain part of the population has access to resources like Princeton Review and other prep classes, how can the actual test be fair? The SAT is also widening the already troubling achievement gap between white students and minorities. According to a study conducted last year by College Board, the company that makes the test, African-Americans scored an average of 431 on the critical reading section, while white students scored a 527. On the math section, the gap is even more prevalent, with white students notching an average of 534 and African– American students averaging a relatively bleak 429. Similar trends are clear across other minority groups as well, namely LatinoAmericans. On average, they score 74 fewer points per section than white kids. Because minority students are getting lower scores on the SAT, fewer of them are getting into the college of their choice. Universities strive to be more ethnically diverse, but the SAT hinders that diversity, since the test is a key basis for admission

at many schools. Take away the test, and heightened diversity is sure to follow. Wake Forest, for example, made the test an optional part of admission, and has seen an increase in minorities applying to their school. According to their website, applications from students of color has increased by an impressive 46%, and applications from African-Americans specifically has increased by a staggering 70%. Those percentages are high enough that they’re not just some anomaly. If colleges truly want a more diverse population, then getting rid of the SAT would be a key starting point. And if we’re being honest, the SAT just doesn’t do its job very well. College Board’s stated goal for the test is to “be a fair and valid predictor of college success”, but more and more studies are revealing that it falls short in this quality. Females historically score about 30 to 40 points lower than males, but in college they actually get higher grades than males. And a study done at the University of Miami showed that compared to white students, Latino students scored 91 points lower on the SAT, even though they ended up getting the same grades in college. The test struggles to fulfill its main purpose, and that signals a need for change. Besides all the political arguments, there’s one reason to abolish the SAT that all students can get behind: It’s annoying. There’s already enough to worry about as you leave high school: college apps, grades and girls. And throwing a test on top of all that? It borders on teenager cruelty. The SAT arithmetic looks something like this: Being white plus having stacks equals a 2400. This equation has become the frightening truth of the test, and there’s not any way around it. The United States prides itself on being a country where “equal opportunity” is a reality and not just some glossy phrase, but the SAT goes directly against that. Abolishing it may be difficult considering how entrenched it is in our educational culture, but it is simply the right thing to do.

Imagine a world in which college is only for the rich. Instead of your acceptance being contingent upon your merit as a student, it would be decided by how much money your parents could fork over to the university, the prestige of your private preparatory school, and your family lineage. Even as the top student in your class at a public school like Blair, you could forget about Harvard. If you’re poor, your academic record aside, your chances of acceptance into any college are slim. This was the reality in 1933 when Harvard’s president, James Bryant Conant, realized his students, rather than being the brightest in the country, were simply elitist rich kids. He wanted a test to determine who truly deserved to attend his prestigious university. He asked Carl Brigham, who developed the Army Alpha test to evaluate the military’s intelligence, to develop an exam for applicants, and the infamous SAT was born. The test has become a major stressor for high school upperclassmen. But if we rewind back to 1933 by doing away with it, we’ll be going back to a time when college applications were flawed and unfair. The SAT is certainly not perfect, but it is the best option available to ensure a fair admissions process. “We should keep the SAT because every school system has different methods of grading, and having one standardized test is a fair way to measure the students against each other,” Phalia West, Blair’s college/career information coordinator, says. Without standardized testing, what could colleges possibly use to make objective comparisons between students? Some schools offer more advanced classes than others do, so judging applicants based on weighted GPA would be outrageously unfair for students who did not have the opportunity to take advanced classes. So why not use the opposite approach and judge students based on unweighted GPA? That method may be slightly more fair, but variations between teachers and difficulty of classes would make that system unjust to students who have taken more advanced classes. Most Blair students would rightly be concerned if applicants were judged based on class rank. Blair’s magnet pro-

gram makes it harder and more competitive for a student to be at the top of their class than at a smaller school with less advantaged students and courses. Although colleges already use this type of subjective information in their admissions process, the SAT provides a critical objective baseline to directly compare applicants. If the SAT were abolished, college admissions would get into some serious grey areas comparing your achievements and hardships to someone else’s and the admissions process would become longer. The SAT also does predict on some level student achievement in college, and students realize this. According to a 2012 study conducted for the College Board by Krista D. Mattern and Brian F. Patterson, only about 18% of college students who scored between 600 and 800 on their SATs graduated within four years. Not surprisingly, this number gradually rises with score so 75% of students who scored between 2100-2400 graduate. Moreover, the test provides a chance for students who start with a disadvantage to compete on an almost equal footing. Tracking – placing students in accelerated classes – may begin as early as elementary school, and this tends to hurt students who are not white and/or wealthy. As Mary Hatwood Futrell and Joel Gomez wrote in Education Leadership Magazine, “Many studies have confirmed that minority and low-income students of all ability levels are over-represented in the lower tracks and underrepresented in the higher tracks.”As these students who are not on “gifted” tracks progress to high school, they are less likely to take advanced classes and so are at a dramatic disadvantage when looking at high school transcripts alone. The SAT at least provides these students an opportunity to meet and match the achievement of those who took more challenging courses during high school. Conant and Brigham probably did not anticipate that their college entrance exam would snowball into the multimillion dollar college-readiness enterprises the College Board and SAT are today. Of course the SAT has its flaws, but that doesn’t render it useless. Instead of reverting to our old ways of elitist college acceptance, we should build on the SAT to make it better for everyone.

voicebox “Yes, our school system focuses on score and not real knowledge.”

Simone Perez-Garcia Junior

“Keep it as it is. You have a better chance of getting into college.”

Nathaniel Rought Junior

“It should be abolished. The SAT does not reflect your academic career.”

Alexis Torres Senior

Isha Darbari Junior

“There should be a different standardized test implemented that tests all skills.”

“The SAT should be abolished because I don’t want to take it.” KYRA SEIGER

John Merlo-Coyne Freshman

B3 Opinions


November 7, 2013

This season, give thanks that you are not a turkey An annual victim makes an argument for the union of humans and turkeys By Isaac Jiffar Humor Hi, I’m Stan. But you probably know me better by my other name: Butterball, 20 lb., bone-in. Yes, I’m a turkey. And I’ve got a beef with you humans. It usually starts around the last week of October. The nightmares. The paranoia. The waking up every morning to find another one of your friends will be served as the main course at a Thanksgiving dinner. Every. Single. Year. Can’t I enjoy one November without worrying that some crazed Elmer Fudd’s gonna take my head off with his rifle? Cows, I can understand. They’re noisy as hell and they poop EVERYWHERE. I don’t mind you getting rid of them. Pigs are just disgusting, rolling around in mud and walking around the farm making all of our eyes water at their offensive stench. And don’t get me started on chickens. Have you ever hung out with a chicken? I swear, they are some of the most loud, annoying, animals on the face of the earth. They’re the reason Old Macdonald sold his farm. But what’s not to like about turkeys? First of all, you’ve got to admit, we’re a pretty good-looking species. All the other birds are jealous of our style and our ability to pull off a wattle (that floppy red thing that hangs out ever so gracefully from our necks). Plus when it comes to getting things done, we don’t mess around. Turkeys

are birds of action (when we’re not busy letting other animals admire our features). When we cross a road, you can be damn sure we’ve got a good reason. Old Ben Franklin got it right. He appreciated us for what we are, describing the turkey as “a Bird of Courage” who “would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.” That’s right. You tell ‘em Benny. That’s why you don’t want to mess with us. But I know why you pick on us. You think we’re easy prey just because we’re too fat to fly away. We’re sitting ducks when you guys come along to pick us up and chop off our heads. I mean, I’ve been exercising. I’ve been trying to eat healthier. But it’s not easy. I have to put up with all the fat jokes from the other farm animals, as I sit outside watching the pigeons and the doves flying majestically over my head, cutting a path through the night sky, secretly cursing the fact that I was born into a body that could never taste the sweet feeling of weightlessness as I leave this barren earth to soar among the silky clouds… But let me get back to the point. I propose we put an end to the mindless killing and start a dialogue between turkeys and humans. In the name of Benjamin Franklin, a hero to Turkey and Man alike, our species ought to join hands in brotherhood and resolve to eat more beef.

I mean come on, let’s be real for a second. Beef tastes a lot better than turkey, and it is so much less work to deal with cows. They’re practically begging to be eaten. Take your average domestic cow. You’re looking at maybe 1200-1400 pounds for a male. Out of that, you can probably get anywhere from 600 to 800 pounds of good meat. Now compare that to a turkey. A healthy male won’t weigh much more than 30 pounds, and when all is said and done, you’re only gonna be able to eat maybe ten pounds of that, and

think of all the trouble you’re KAT GOLLADAY going through dealing with all those feathers and eating around the smaller bones in a turkey. As you humans say, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” Anyway, I sincerely hope we can bury the past and look forward to an age where humans and turkeys can crack a bottle, let our bodies wattle, and toast each other as friends.

Removing the debt ceiling: the limit should not exist Polarity on the subject of the yearly budget is putting the United States at risk By William Zhu An opinion Hundreds of veterans came to the World War II memorial in D.C. only to see it fenced off. Children awaiting treatment were turned away from the NIH National Cancer Institute. Disillusioned parents led their dejected kids away from the closed National Zoo, and restaurants and hotels that rely on tourism were desolate and abandoned. As the federal government went into its third week of shutdown the disgruntled citizens of the United States were left with nothing but memories of a time when congressmen could debate like adults and we could go more than a few months without the fear of a government collapse. Congress needs to pass a budget each year in order to fund the government or by the Antideficiency Act of 1884, all nonessential government functions must grind to a halt. Since when Republicans gained control of Congress, there has been no agreement on a budget plan for the government due to petty political feuding over the deficit between Democrats and Republicans. The debt limit is the maximum amount of money that the government can borrow, established by the Second Liberty Bond Act in 1917, and if the government goes over the debt limit, they stop paying interest on treasury securities and other expenses. This October, the approach of the debt limit and a failure to pass a budget coincided, leading

to a government shutdown and With the exception of ecobringing the government to the nomic booms (we had a surplus brink of default. during the dot com boom of the U.S. Treasury creates debt by 90s), the government almost selling Treasury bills and bonds always runs a deficit; it is just a to foreign and domestic investors matter of how much it can conthat pay interest until they matrol this deficit. This means the ture, which takes 30 years. Once debt is always going to increase, they have reached maturity, they and we are always going to have are paid back in full. to get a bigger tank if we continThe problem is that the U.S. ue with the current deficit. treasury pays its bills by sellMore importantly, though, eving more securities and to pay ery time we have to increase the off that debt it sells even more debt limit, members of Congress bonds and bills. Eventually this have the opportunity to hold the strategy will fail if U.S. governeconomy hostage as a political ment spending is not controlled, bargaining chip to achieve their but setting a debt limit misses the policy agenda. During Reagan’s administraThe accumution, Demlated national The U.S had a budget of $2.449 trillion in 2012 ocrats used debt is only a this tactic to symptom of advance their uncontrolled budget plan. spending. The This time, it is real issue is the Republiour deficit, the cans and the money we are The U.S. is now $17,067,881,125,283.87 in debt target was spending now --not the money that is already gone.


It will only be a matter of time until the tank overflows into the living room of the American people and then we’ll be the ones getting out our mops. That is why I propose we

move to abolish the national debt limit in favor of a creating a more practical deficit limit. Remember, the faucet, not the tank. point of this issue since it doesn’t address the central problem of government spending.

Obamacare, a major government spending project that aims to reform healthcare. Republicans in Congress refused to raise the debt limit unless Obamacare was defunded and as a result the government was shut down while

Congress debated. Once again, Congress avoided the problem by raising the debt limit to last until February of next year. Spoiler alert: this might happen all over again come February. If the U.S. were to fail to pay its debts a default would occur. In response to this US Treasury would tap into its cash reserves of $30-$40 billion and any additional sources of revenue to pay off the bills. However, the Treasury would have to choose between paying the interests on bonds owed by foreign investors or paying Social Security and Military salaries. No nation should ever come a point when it has to choose between paying its people and upholding the value of its currency. The U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency, meaning that it is present in large quantities in foreign reserves. A default on national debt would damage both the global economy and the value of the U.S. dollar. The debt ceiling was meant to serve as a deterrent to prevent excess spending, but Congress, in a stroke of brilliance, decided that they could get around this by simply raising the debt ceiling. By this point the debt limit has completely failed in its purpose of curtailing government spending, which has already spiraled out of control. The U.S. cannot use temporary measures to address a decades-long system problem. As a world leader we must remember that poor decisions made here have global ramifications.


November 7, 2013

Chips Pics:

Soapbox B4

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.







45 million turkeys are consumed every year during Thanksgiving There are 22,789 books in the school library

What genre of books do you prefer?

see page D4

“I prefer comics because I think it’s cool how the pictures have so much color and detail. Plus they are fun to read.” - junior DeMarco Key “I like reading dystopia novels because they provide insight into society and what could happen in the future.” - freshman Alex Miao “I like mystery books because of the suspenseful storyline.” - sophomore Christopher Green

Do you support a later school start time? see page A1 “No because everything else would be pushed back, meaning you’d sleep later and wake up later and sleep the same number of hours.” senior Yikalo Yohannes @Yikalo_Yohannes “I am for a later start time because when I went to summer school, it began at 8 AM so I was more prepared and awake for class.” - junior Evelyn Moses “I am against a later school start time. If people have an after school club, sport or job, they’d get out even later and end up having to stay up late to finish homework.” - sophomore Sarah Canchaya-Elias

What would you do if you saw someone cheating on a test?

see page C2

“I wouldn’t say anything because it’s not my business. And if the person gets caught, they would get an E on their test, which affects their grade.” - senior Olyad Tesqera “If I saw someone cheating, I’d give the teacher an anonymous note after class.” - freshman Lucy Willis “If I saw someone cheating, I would not say anything. I think that if someone does not know the answer, their peer should help them out.” junior Sefanit Tekle

The cost of BNCs new equipment is $18,000 The word b**** is used 28 times in Kanye West’s new album Yeezus

63.5% of Blazers have smartphones 494 people have recieved a 2400 on the SAT so far this year There are 6,742 colleges and universities in the United States Chips Index compiled by Aditi Subramaniam with help from Eleanor Harris, Amyra Hasan, Winne Luo, Divya Rajagopal, Sasha Tidwell, Arthi Vijayjumar and Jesse Webber

Do you think the Redskins will make it to the playoffs?

see page F2

“No. The Redskins don’t have a defense and they can’t sustain enough offense to keep up with elite defenses.” - sophomore Quinn McKenzie “Yes, because the Redkins is my favorite football team and I have faith in them.” - freshman Miracle Agnamba “No. They have a very weak secondary offense and a terrible offensive line.” - freshman Eshan Tewari

Do you think songs that degrade women should be able to win awards?

see page B1

“Songs that degrade women promote a wrong image of women, but they should still be allowed to win awards based on success or popularity. - freshman Alice Park “Lots of songs these days degrade people so it’s something we have to adapt to.” - sophomore Mussie Fitsum “No, if songs that degrade others win awards, it encourages other artists to do the same just to get fame.” - sophomore Stephen Loh

B5 Opinions

November 7, 2013



My Blair: Personal Column

The grievances of a couch potato By Isaac Jiffar


ELECTRIC TUNES Bill Anderson plays at a coffee house show in 1976.

& NOW:2013


JAMMIN’ Junior John Ramsey sings and plays guitar at the Silver Quill Halloween Open Mic on Oct. 31.

One more push-up! One more! Last one! Ok, for real this time… My gym teacher’s voice slowly fades away while I concentrate on doing my fifth “last” pushup. All the broken promises. All the sweatdrenched, mud-stained t-shirts. All the serves and goalie kicks and touchdowns and free throws. What’s it all for? So we can justify a lack of any physical activity over the three years we don’t take P.E.? Physical Education is all well and good for keeping people fit when they are taking the class, but honestly, is the class going to inspire me to exercise a whole lot more going forward in life? Am I going to use the principles I learned in P.E. to stay fit for years to come? No. That might sound good on a poster, but people aren’t going to exercise daily of their own accord until they fully appreciate how important it is, and Physical Education, as it is now does not impart this. The “physical” part is there, but the “education” is sorely missing. Through my 17 years on this earth, I have become increasingly aware of an unfortunate motif: the difficulty of translating philosophies into actions. I feel like on a superficial level everybody “realizes” the value of exercise. We all know it is important to staying healthy, and that if we lift weights we’ll get “hella swole,” but I’m convinced that there’s a difference between passively realizing this, and fully appreciating its significance. I know I don’t fully appreciate the significance of exercise, and honestly, P.E. is just giving me a growing disdain for the notion altogether. Oh sure, I’m aware of the constant bombardment from the media and PSAs warning us about the impending obesity epidemic and the importance of exercise for cardiovascular health. But at least for me, when I don’t see immediate results, it’s kind of easy to push this out of my mind. I’m not fat. I feel healthy. I can function perfectly well on a daily basis. Therefore, exercise isn’t something I really think about very often. When I do get to thinking I should exercise, it’s easy to make excuses. I’m way too busy today. I’ve got homework, college apps, I’ve gotta write a personal column for Silver Chips on how much P.E. sucks… What I propose the county does, if it really wants to instill the value of regular exercise into its students, is change Physical Education. Not completely remove it, mind you. It is important to live a healthy lifestyle. But divide the time between classroom learning where students learn about the value of exercise and what exactly each

exercise is helpful for, and a physical portion where kids actually learn how to play the sports and do the stretches and use the weight machines they talked about in class. All too often I hear people in my gym class groaning, asking “why do we have to do this?” Or lackadaisically dragging their feet during our mile runs whenever the teacher turns away. These people aren’t getting anything from P.E., and although I’ve resolved to attempt to enjoy it while I’m there, I don’t see myself coming away with much more of an appreciation for exercise either. If Physical Education is required, it should be something that everyone can benefit from. The exercise fiends as well as the people who’ve never thrown a football. Let Physical Education in its current form stand as an elective. It is great for those people who love to exercise, or who just want to have fun and keep themselves in shape. But given what I’ve been seeing, I’m skeptical that in its current form, Physical Education is really making a whole lot of couch potatoes like me “see the light” regarding physical fitness. Instilling a habit without properly instilling an understanding of its necessity is useless, because it won’t last. And so too is preaching about its importance without ever actually putting it to the test and demonstrating its effects. We need to strike a balance. Am I bitter because I’m a senior and I’m stuck taking Physical Education this year instead of a class I’d actually enjoy? Yes. Am I just whining because I’m out of shape? Probably. But do I have a point? I don’t know. That’s for you to decide. I’ve got a lap to run.

Up and Coming November 7th-9th Fall Play: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

November 25th-December 3rd Hanukkah

November 12th Spanish Honor Society’s Zumba Party fundraiser

November 27th Early release, Thankgiving

November 22nd Silver Quill Open Mic

November 28th- 29th Thanksgiving break

Student & Teacher Awards & Honors Seniors Megan C. Chao, Neil S. Davey, Robert T. Martin and Jessica Shi were named semifinalists in the Siemens Competition in Mathematics, Science and Technology.

English teacher Michelle Edwards was named a finalist in the Gazette’s 2013 “My Favorite Teacher” contest.

Senior Hueyjong Shih, Junior Quinn Tai and sophomores Cynthia Liu and Stephan Loh Silver Chips Print was named 2013 Columbia Press Scholastic Association Gold Medalist were selected as members of musical ensemble programs, All National High School Hon- with All-Columbian Honors. ors Orchestra and Band and the National Symphony Orchestra Fellowship Program.

November 7, 2013

Editorials B6


Obamacare shines light on America’s failed politics Remember 2010? When Obamacare was signed into law? They wanted to paint the picture that Obama would be riding a tricycle down Pennsylvania Avenue, throwing out Affordable Healthcare packages like a paperboy, while satisfied customers rejoiced in the streets and frollicked through daffodills as if they were starring in a cheesy tampon commercial. Now, three years later, we are realizing that the age of clear-cut, universally-popular legislation tied up with a nice little bow has long ago fallen to the forces of paralyzing partisanship and bloated bureaucracy. The United States healthcare system is by far the most expensive in the world on a per capita basis. According to the World Healthcare Organization, the total amount spent on healthcare per person in the US was $8,608 in 2011, $3,000 more than Norway, the country with the second highest healthcare expenditures. The difference is that across the pond, they are riding that sparkly tricycle. Most of the other Western and Northern European countries that are with us on the top of these lists offer free, universal healthcare. In Norway, many of the hospitals are publicly owned and basic healthcare is free to all citizens. The UK also provides free healthcare to all citizens through the National Health Service, and they only spent $3,322 per person in 2011. In theory, Obamacare is a step in the right direction. It aims to ensure everyone has access to affordable healthcare and it includes many provisions intended to reduce costs to taxpayers. According to an October article by NBC, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare’s official name) includes such cost-cutting measures as penalizing hospitals with a high number of patients that return with problems soon after being released and mandating that insurance companies cover preventative care in order to reduce the likelihood of long-term health problems. Recent worries over the website and constant partisan quabbles have marred public perception of the healthcare reform, though. The fierce battles fought over Obamacare are becoming more and more

common in the country’s state of political polarization. This problem has its roots in America’s electoral system and in who has the power necessary to get elected. In this way, money controls the political atmosphere. Politicians who are able to get the most significant donations have more money to advertise and gain recognition within their constituency. Because many donating interest groups are extremists on either end of the spectrum, the parties are polarized in the views their candidates support. In this system, it is very hard to succeed as a moderate politician, making reaching across the aisle to compromise that much more difficult. It is this extremist stubborn nature that held Obamacare in Congress for so long. The government shutdown and other contributing factors also slowed the process of making the Afforable Care Act become a law. Organizations exploit their power over elections and their sway in government. Once a candidate is in office, in order to keep their donors, they must cater to those interests as well as the interests of the people they represent. This corruption is especially obvious due to the creation of SuperPacs. These organizations control so much money and utilize so many underhanded and indirect ways of monetarily supporting candidates that the regulations on such spending are nearly useless. This country rests in the hands of the radical minorities represented by many EVA SHEN of the prominent interest groups. The undeniable fact that wealth runs American politics has been excused and ignored for too long and we can now see the consequences. The cycle continues because of politiThe art on B3 was incorrectly attributed to Eva Shen, and should have been credited to Ben Safford. cians goals and aspirations. Instead of their main focus being to serve the people, these leaders care more about their The art on D1 was incorrectly attributed to Maggie McClain, and should have been credited to own reelection, making them more susElizabeth Pham. ceptible to the polarization of their supporting organizations. Reform of the American political system must begin with its elections. They must push the country to move Do you have any feedback or see forward, instead of leaving us stuck in any mistakes? Let us know. a partisan stalemate. With this change, E-mail the editors at Congress can speed up the creation of construction reform.


Letter to the editor:

We are listening; ideas are welcome By Langston Cotman This Ombudsman is feeling pretty lonely right now. Since the beginning of the year, we at Silver Chips have not received feedback on any of the material we have printed this year. No eloquent letters gushing with praise. No rage filled emails accusing us of slander. Not even a short, insincere “Good Job” scrawled on a post-it note and left on our door. Silver Chips represents over 3,000 unique voices and it is important this paper has an interactive relationship with its audience. Silver Chips’ ultimate goal is to aid in the establishment of a better informed student body. Only stories that we believe relate to the Blair public go to print, and we pride ourselves on covering a diverse spectrum of topics. We make this paper for you, the reader, and we would like to know how we are doing. If you feel a certain demographic of Blair isn’t being represented on Silver Chips, shoot us a letter or an email expressing your concerns. If you feel one of our writers wrote a superb article or that our artists drew an amazing picture or shot an impressive photo, please let us know. Our egos don’t mind a little stroking. We want our paper to be the best representation of Blair it can be. In order to do so, we need to hear from you. Last year, we at Silver Chips received a steady flow of input from our readers. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, our read-

ers alerted us to an untimely gun graphic we had run the previous cycle. Our lack of Sankofa coverage and the unprofessional insensitiv-


Ombudsman Langston Cotman ity of our opinion piece on “awful” books we read in English class were also brought to our attention by our readers. These complaints were all valid, and bringing them to our attention has kept us from making similar avoidable mistakes. We understand that we at Silver Chips have not always been the

best at fostering this channel of dialogue between ourselves and our readership. We’d like to shed any impressions of being an isolated institution within the school that is unkind to visitors. Last year we were slow at posting some letters to the editor and failed to establish an Ombudsman email solely for student feedback. We are taking efforts to fix these shortcomings. This year marks the beginning of Silver Chips’ initiative to establish itself as a more open and responsive paper. If you have anything you would like us at the paper to hear, send a message to our new email We will continue to support the Voice Box and Soap Box sections of our paper, segments intended solely for airing student opinions on pertinent global and local issues. Just follow us on twitter and respond to our #soapbox questions with your name and grade and you might see your response in next month’s issue. If you would like to express a concern or just let us know how we are doing in person, feel free to stop by room 158 during either lunch period. We would love to hear from you, and our door is always open. Comments or concerns? Email the Ombudsman at

Why Go To School When You Can Google Anything You Need To Know By Marc Grossman In the October 3rd edition of Silver Chips, Wesley Hopkins and Rebecca Naimon squared off to explore whether or not traditional classrooms have become obsolete. Hopkins asserted that “schools’ emphasis on facts and memorization…have a tendency to promote solitude and individual work.” He put forth an argument for more collaborative technology-oriented projects and even cited Superintendent Starr’s Tweet-“if you can Google it, why teach it.” While Naimon countered Hopkins argument effectively, the very real question remains for many students: Why memorize anything in the age of Google? Google will not save you from your lack of knowledge. One might look towards the professional world to gain insight on why Google is not enough and memorization remains essential to productivity. No doctor, mechanic, lawyer, plumber, farmer or even teacher can rely exclusively or even mostly on search engines to provide the needed services their customers demand, they must know what they are doing. None of us would attend a doctor who searches the web for our ailments because they never bothered to familiarize themselves the host of conditions they allegedly specialize in, just as no one would bring their car to a mechanic who must watch You Tube videos to rebuild a carburetor. Why not? They don’t have any real expertise.

John Goodlad, author of A Place Called School, claims that schools should be measured by how well they instill the following in their students: knowledge, academic skills, metacognition (the ability to reflect on one’s own learning), expertise and the ability to transfer their expertise. Google and distance learning might get a student to the first step - knowledge and possibly academic skills - but without some form of classroom environment metacognition, expertise and the ability to transfer expertise to other subjects are far less likely to take place. Knowledge, that which is attained through long hours of lonesome studying and even memorization remains the foundation by which a student can attain the critical skills of metacognition, expertise and the ability to transfer expertise to different subject areas. Those last three skills are vital to collaborative work in the “real” world. Those who collaborate in a meaningful way bring knowledge to the table and if they don’t they are simply dead weight on an organization. While social skills are essential to a meaningful personal life and effective management skills, individual knowledge matters. Next time your parents’ car breaks down try watching a You Tube video to determine how to fix it and see how far it gets you. Perhaps it’s time to hit the books, not literally as a Google search might suggest, in solitude.


November 7, 2013





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Features C1


November 7, 2013

The AFI Theatre commemorates its 75th anniversary A Silver Spring landmark celebrates decades of Hollywood endings and educating through film

By William Zhu Over 200 people sat quietly in the theater colorfully decorated with lights and pictures of flowers and birds on the wall. Row upon row of traditional wooden backed seats fill the theater. The faint smell of popcorn is present. The chrome colored wall near the movie screen gives the theater a vintage 1930s look. The lights soon dim as the audience utters their final coughs and the famous 1984 movie, Ghostbusters begins to play. The AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in September, is a three-screen movie facility that shares deep historical ties with Silver Spring. It was built in 1938 at the height of President Roosevelt’s New Deal by the treasurer of the U.S., William Julian. The European-themed interior was designed by architect John Eberson. Eberson was a Romanian immigrant to the U.S. and his designs were influenced by his European heritage and the “French Art Deco” genre. The purpose of the theater was fulfilled in the 1950s when the downtown area grew into a populous commercial hub with major retailers such as Sears and J.C. Penney. A document titled “Today’’s AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (sic)” said that, “By the early 1950s, the shopping center had evolved into the centerpiece of a flourishing downtown Silver Spring.” The Silver Theatre stayed open for 50 years, but it was closed in 1985 and slated for demolition. However, due to opposition from the community, the Montgomery County Council voted to save the theatre by adding it to the Mast Plan for Historic Preservation. In March 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) was selected to manage and renovate the theater. AFI is a non-profit organi-

zation that is dedicated to preserving and promoting American film. Developers examined plans from the 1930s to help reconstruct the theatre and its lobby. Now, the theatre is mostly restored to its historical condition. “The actual historic part of the theater was restored to its original state,” said AFI Silver’s Education Coordinator Matt Boratenski. After years of renovation, the AFI Silver Theater reopened in 2003. Only minor changes were made to the theater. “We reduced the size of the theater to make room for a hallway,” said Boratenski. A variety of people view the films at the ZEKE WAPNER Silver Theatre. AccordAFI The Silver Spring theatre hosts a variety film festivals, educational movies and special events. ing to Boratenski, many self-identify as “cinophiles”. The Theatre often shows ‘80s-era some newly restored older films. “We have tival. The Latin American Film Festival is orclassics, drawing audiences of film buffs. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ from when ganized by AFI with the help of the Cultural “[Viewers include] anybody wanting to sing the Library of Congress recently restored Foundation of the Americans and the Secrealong with Grease and the Sound of Mu- it,” said Boratenski. The theatre has also just tary of the Organization of American States. sic,” said Boratenski. Every year the Theatre been upgraded to show 3D films. Its individ- The European Union Film Showcase is one hosts around 700 programs and draws over ual theaters have 400, 200 and 75 seats re- of the Theatre’s most significant events. 200,000 visitors. The Silver Theatre also ed- spectively, and the programs are often based More than 20 high quality films drawn from ucates the community about film through on a variety of spaces. “We look thematically European Film festivals are shown, and its Educational Screenings Programs (ESP). to try some creative things. We once did a many are eventually nominated for Oscars. Since 2004, more than 65,000 K-12 students whole series of films that dealt with landThere aren’t many future updates for the marks.” Said Boratenski. have been through the program. Silver Theatre, but it is planning to increase Many film festivals are hosted at the Sil- its educational program. Boratenski believes Films shown may range from black and white silent films from more than 60 years ver Theatre. These include the Latin Ameri- the Silver Theatre is an integral part of the ago to the high definition digital films of can Film Festival, the AFI European Union local community. “I think it’s a big part of today. The Silver Theatre lately acquired Film Showcase and a documentary film fes- the revitalization of Silver Spring,” he says.

Are you still flipping phones? Maybe it’s time to get smart Blazers reveal why they have not yet joined the ever-expanding smartphone community By Aditi Subramaniam It’s Friday night and freshman Becca Aitken has just arrived at a party. The scene is scattered with kids posing for Instagram pictures, blasting music from their playlists, or taking selfies in the corner. One thing these kids all have in common: they’re using their smartphones. Unlike most of her peers, Becca Aitken does not own a smartphone. She and others who haven’t caught up with the trend are now part of the minority, since, according to Pew Research Center, over half of Americans own a smartphone. Whether Blazers who are part of this demographic are smartphone-less by necessity or by choice, they must deal with a rapidly changing technological culture that favors the newest innovations.

“It doesn’t work the same way on my phone” Aitken finds that the main problem with not having a smartphone is that her phone’s functions do not live up to those offered by smartphones. While she can call and text her friends, her phone’s communication options are limited in comparison to smartphones users’. “It’s a lot easier to communicate through iMessage and Facetime,” says Aitken, “and although I could be a part of [group chats], it doesn’t work the same way on my phone.” Aitken also laments that she can’t download any apps on her phone. This means that she can’t

use certain social media networks such as Snapchat and Instagram, which are exclusively available on smartphones. “I actually have an Instagram account,” she says. “But I have to use other people’s phones to go on it.” The same goes for when she wants to use other popular apps like Candy Crush or YouTube, or even just to search something on Google. Aitken’s phone has a data plan, but she finds that it makes her phone function much more slowly. “My phone has really limited data and it doesn’t work that well either, so I can’t really use the Internet,” she says. In a culture where teenagers largely interact with each other through their smartphones, Aitken admits she does feel unintentionally excluded at times because she can’t do the same. “I have less access to tools that can be used for school and communicating, which can be annoying sometimes,” she says.

A world in the palm of your hand Fun and games aside, smartphones also include many practical features that make everyday life easier. Junior Sean Nair feels that this aspect of smartphones is especially beneficial and is something that he misses out on because

he doesn’t have one. “If you have a test that day and realize that you missed studying something, you can easily look it up using a smartphone,” he says. Nair also appreciates the smart-

ately upload them rather than having to use a camera and download the pictures on your computer first,” he notes. The convenience of having access to the Internet anywhere has caused more people to use their smartphones to surf the Web. Thirty-four percent of cell phone users go online primarily via their phones instead of their computers, according to Pew Research Center. Nair says this makes sense and that he probably would, too. “With a smartphone, we can access our information anywhere and look up information at any time,” he says.

Rejecting the trend

phone’s ability to do everything on the go, whereas without one he has to wait to log into a computer or ask to use a friend’s Wi-Fi password in order to share links, upload photos or download files. “[With a smartphone] you can take good quality photos and immedi-

Freshman Anna Barth is an outlier in that she has made the conscious decision to stay away from the trend. She has owned her purple sliding phone for two years now, and says she has no intention of upgrading. She says she doesn’t want a smartphone mainly KYLE DESIDARIO because she dislikes the effect smartphones have on their users. “I find that people who have smartphones tend to look at their phones a lot during conversations,” she says. “If I got one, I’d probably start doing that too.” A recent Gallup poll reported that over half of the young smart-

phone users feel that they spend too much time on their phones. While Barth acknowledges that she does miss some of the features that a smartphone can offer, it is mainly this distracting aspect that is stopping her from getting one. “There are some games I wish I could play, but they come in phases,” she says. “But I do feel like [smartphones are] a distraction and I think it is important to be aware of what’s around you.”

Smartphones, smart decision?

Aitken also acknowledges that smartphones can be a great source of distraction, especially when trying to do homework. “Having a [smartphone] could definitely get you off track when you’re trying to concentrate,” she says. But, contrary to Barth’s case, this factor does not stop her from wanting to upgrade to an iPhone. “In general I think they’re easier to use and there are a lot more opportunities that come with them. They’re just a lot more functional,” she says. While Aitken plans to purchase a smartphone by March, Nair will have to wait at least until next October for the chance to upgrade. When he bought a new phone last year, he opted not to buy a smartphone because the data plan was too expensive – a decision he says he now regrets. “Thirty dollars a month is a small price to pay for the convenience of having a [smartphone],” Nair says. “I wish I had one because now I just feel excluded in general since everyone else has a smartphone and I don’t.”

C2 Features


November 7, 2013

It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught Teachers and students weigh in on the reality of academic dishonesty at Blair By Wesley Hopkins Where only first names appear, names were changed to protect the identity of sources. You’re surrounded by silence except for the scritch-scratch of pencils rapidly bubbling in oversized scantron sheets. Some students are chewing their erasers, others nervously shift back and forth in their chairs. One boy a few seats behind you has a sudden outbreak of sniffles with no tissues to remedy his symptoms. You look down at your paper. There’s no way he ever taught us this. Photoelectron spectroscopy? That is not a real thing. Reluctantly, you peek at the clock above the teacher’s desk. Ten minutes left, oh my god. I’m such a bad test taker. The boy with the sniffles loudly kicks his chair back and meanders toward the front of the room to turn in his test. How are you people done already? Time continues to tick down and your brain is failing to come up with anything schoolrelated. If I fail this test there’s no way I’m ever getting into college. I’m gonna die alone with my cats. You take another fearful glance at the clock. 8 minutes left. What do I do? Maybe if I just take a peek over at that girl’s paper… Academic dishonesty has always been prominent in high schools, and is a growing trend. According to Glass Castle, an o rg a n i z a tion devoted to ending the practice of cheating, about 20% of college students admitted to cheating in high school during the 1 9 4 0 ’ s , while today between 75 and 98% of college students surveyed each year report having cheated in high school. Increased class sizes and advancements in technolo g y have made it easier for students to cheat and harder for teachers to catch them. “A lot of kids cheat at Blair,” says junior Sarah Aitken. “It seems like there are more cheaters than non-cheaters at this point. It’s sad, but it’s just kind of accepted now.” Students blame this rise in cheating on parents, colleges, teachers, and more. “The pressure of grades and doing well in classes to get that ideal GPA that colleges love to look at is just really strong,” complains Alex, a junior. “Even teachers admit that some of the tests that they give are hard even if you do study, and the fact that it’s so challenging makes it hard not to take advantage of being able to cheat. Blair’s Media Center specialist Andrea Lamphier, formerly of Wootton High School, agrees that academic dishonesty is prominent, but assures that it’s no worse at Blair than at other schools. “Cheating is a problem everywhere. In Wootton we were seeing a problem and I see the problem here too.”

The charge against cheating In 2004, as a response to teacher complaints about plagiarism on writing assignments, Lamphier implemented turnitin. com, a program used frequently by Blair teachers to catch writing assignments that

are copied from the internet or other students. Lamphier insists the technology is a necessary adaptation to the modern cheating culture at Blair. “Back in my high school days, people would literally use glue and scissors to cut and paste other people’s papers. They would easily get called out for it. Kids today have gotten a lot better at this stuff and we need technology like turnitin. com to counteract that,” she explains. Lamphier is not alone in her goal of finding ways to stop students’ cheating methods. Science teacher Elizabeth Levien, for example, makes great efforts to keep her students honest. “As a team, we create several forms of tests, maintain a secure testing environment, keep track of kids who haven’t taken tests yet, make kids clear their calculators, power off phones, etc.” However, Levien must concede that a perfect record is impossible. “We all know that unfortunately, however diligent we are, kids will continue to cheat.”

T h e frontier of feigning knowledge D e spite teachers’ best

efforts to put a stop to the ongoing dishonesty in their classes, students find ways through the teachers’ defenses. Alex shares some of his lower caliber methods of cheating. “I have this one teacher that always finds tests online to use as our quizzes,” explains Alex. “As soon as the tests get passed out I just use my iPod to google the first question word for word and immediately I come up with the answer key for the whole test.” Alex cites Blair’s techmod update as a reason for his success this year. “I don’t have a smartphone, so if Blair hadn’t gotten wifi this year, I probably would be failing school right now. Shoutout to MCPS for getting my GPA up,” exclaims Alex with a chuckle. James, a senior, may be the most creative cheater at Blair. He eagerly agrees to an interview, but requests a five minute delay so he can finish copying his Calculus homework from a friend. He completes this task with impressive speed, finishing two pages of detailed math problems with virtually no pauses, showing off his well-practiced duplication skills. Unlike Alex, James is fearless with his descriptions, going into great detail on all of his proudest methods of dishonesty. His

tone of voice rises and a small smirk forms on his lips, unable to contain his excitement at revealing his inventions. “Sometimes what I’ll do is write things down on the midsoles of my shoe so that when I put the soles together under my desk, they form whole words or sentences of information, but when they’re apart they look like meaningless doodles. This is really useful in Arabic class, because half an Arabic word looks more like a five year old’s scribbles than an attempt at cheating.” He points down as he says this, exhibiting his pen-marked shoes that truly resemble a pre-schooler’s drawing pad. “Teachers can see my shoes and never think twice about it.” James goes on to describe a new method of his that he has used only a few times. “I call it the pencil scroll,” he says eagerly. “I’ll take a piece of yellow loose leaf paper three inches thick and fill it as tightly as possible with information I need. I’ll wind it tightly around a pencil and use it as a sort of scroll that I can roll and unroll with my feet, but when I don’t touch it, it just looks like a pencil that fell from my desk.” Because of the advanced and creative nature of these methods, it is not surprising that James has never been caught or punished for cheating. “They can have all the methods and strategies they want, but they’re just not good enough to catch me.”

The real repercussions A study by West Georgia University found that over 15% of people who admitted to cheating also admitted to having been caught for their dishonesty at some point. Social Studies teacher David Swaney makes sure his students are aware of the risks before he offers any tests to a class. “At the beginning of the year I make it clear that if I even see wandering eyes, I will call the administrator, I will call the counselor, I will call parents, and I’ll call the student out in front of the whole class to make sure everyone knows,” Swaney s a y s sternly. H e is adamant that this rule

has no exceptions. “Many years ago I called at least 8 offices of admissions to ensure a dishonest student of mine wasn’t admitted. He could’ve had a chance almost anywhere, but he sure didn’t after I called!

He was a very smart AP student, but I didn’t care. He didn’t deserve to get into Harvard.”

Man of morals Not all students are involved in this phenomenon. Magnet junior Eric Neyman, for instance, has a major moral opposition to the practice. “Cheating is not acceptable,” he says with conviction. “People say that if someone else cheats it’s not your business, but I think it is. By cheating they’re giving themselves the opportunity to do better than you. It just isn’t fair that you studied and there’s someone else that didn’t put in that effort and gets a better grade.” Neyman’s moral code is so strong that he’s not afraid to stop others from cheating when he sees it. “There was this problem on a test that the substitute teacher forgot to erase from the whiteboard, and people were looking on the whiteboard. When I noticed this, I informed the sub of the issue and he gave me permission to erase it,” Neyman recounts. “People thought negatively of me for doing that, but I don’t mind because I think that I did the right thing.” Cheaters Alex and James are somewhat put off by questions of morality, but answer nonetheless. Alex admits to feeling bad, but says that it could be fair if other students wanted it that way. “I feel bad when kids who do study and don’t cheat don’t do as well as me, but they could level the playing field and cheat too, so I don’t feel that bad. So much pressure is applied to kids to do well that if cheating is an option, I’ll do it.” James, meanwhile, has a more radical justification for his lapse in morals. “If I’m smart about the way I cheat, then I deserve a good grade,” he explains. “If you’re a clever person and you think of new innovative ways to cheat, you should be rewarded for that intelligence.” James goes on to state that his cheating is acceptable because of the subjects that he cheats in. “I mainly only cheat on the courses that I’m not focusing on. I’ll cheat in any class that I need to, but the classes like chemistry and science genuinely interest me so I usually don’t need to cheat.” Eric Neyman does not hesitate to completely berate this justification. “Sure you might not care about the subjects, but if that’s the case then you should not care about getting an A. If you don’t work for it, you just don’t deserve the A.” Back in the classroom, Swaney gives a final warning for cheaters in high school. “To say you’re an A student when really you only know enough to get C’s is an abomination. You can cheat and can pull off A’s in classes, but it’s more of a probl e m t h a n you realize. You’ve t o l d t h e world t h a t y o u know more than you EVA SHEN d o a n d then at some point people start expecting that of you, and low and behold you really don’t know it. You can’t do it at the level that you say you can and you’ll have major issues with it all through life.”

November 7, 2013


Features C3

Finding a new lunch spot, having a good time

When the bell rings and lunch time finally arrives, students spread out looking for new fun and games By Milena Castillo For most Blazers, lunchtime means gathering round with their most intimate group of friends to complain about their days, obsess over their newest internet addictions, and desperately try to finish the assignments they’ve been putting off for days that are due the next period. At the beginning of each year, students rush to claim the best spots for lunch, which are usually served on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once a group establishes its territory, it rarely moves throughout the year. However, some groups of students have grown tired of just sitting around for 45 minutes everyday. These students have broken out of their lunchtime slumps and taken the initiative to create more productive activities to keep themselves entertained.

A king of clubs Since their early days at Takoma Park Middle School, sophomore Ari GoldbloomHelzner and his crew quickly became bored with the normal lunch routine and decided to start a card-playing circle. “A lot of magnets just did homework or talked, but we thought this was a much more engaging way to pass the time,” explains Goldbloom-Helzner, absentmindedly shuffling a deck of cards. Since their transition into high school, Goldbloom-Helzner says he and his friends have carried on their tradition and even recruited some new players into the circle. “We now have around ten to twelve people that have just grown into our group and rotate around,” says Goldbloom-Helzner, cheerfully surveying the table, “So yeah, if you’re interested in playing cards or feel like you’re wasting time at lunch, then you can just join us. We accept anyone.” Sophomore Jason Kuo, who recently joined the group, says he used to do homework or talk to friends during lunch and got tired of it. So, when he noticed a table of guys playing cards every lunch, Kuo saw a golden

opportunity. “I just walked over there and said I wanted to play too,” remembers Kuo. “They were really nice about it and just taught me the different rules and I’ve been doing it ever since.” Card circles can be found near the back of the cafeteria during both lunch periods. Students in these circles play a wide variety of games including Heart and Spades, Liar, and 500. Goldbloom-Helzner says that they are open to new games introduced by incoming members although they aren’t very competitive. “We don’t really play pokertype games but lean towards more strategic games that aren’t as intense,” explains Goldbloom-Helzener.

The ultimate sport Walk out of the SAC doors and into Blair’s outside courtyards, and you’ll see a group of students partaking in a different kind of strategic game. At the beginning of this year, junior Alex Miao and his friends decided to organize an ultimate frisbee club during lunch in order to meet new people and get active. “A couple of my friends happened to shared a common interest,” says Miao, still trying to catch his breath after running around, “and that was Frisbee.” Having attended a frisbee summer camp two summers ago, Miao already had the basic skills needed for playing the game and decided to teach his buddies. According to Miao, the club started when he brought a disc in one day and just started tossing it around with his buddies. Eventually, new students began jumping in and then kept coming back. “I brought in the disc at first but more people started to bring their own discs in and now we use a bunch of different ones,” explains Miao, pointing to a colorful pile of frisbees on the ground. At this moment, fellow frisbee player freshman Pratik Rathore runs over and cheerfully pipes in. “Our ultimate frisbee team is the best because it’s a great competi-

tive environment and a great way to socialize,” enthuses Rathore, smiling from ear to ear, “and I like it because people don’t take it all that seriously.”

Blair’s bookworms If students are looking for a quieter place to spend their lunch period, the library always welcomes those who are willing to use their indoor voices. Freshman Keith Rattigan says he has found the library to be an ideal environment for curling up with his favorite graphic novels. “At first I didn’t even know there was a library, so I brought my own books from home, but now I come in here everyday,” shares Rattigan, as he sorts through some of the library’s newest additions. In the same corner as Rattigan sits a group of three giggly girls. Juniors Amyra Hasan, Yen-Nhi Vo and Viany Reyes have been coming in to the library during lunchtime every day since freshman year to read comic books together and get away from the noisy lunchroom. “We never leave the library unless it’s closed or Mrs. Lamphier kicks us out for being too loud,” comments Reyes. Just like the ultimate frisbee players, these students appreciate the chance to focus on their passions during their midday break.

Making lunch time exponentially more fun Students whose passions focus around graphs and numbers or who just want to meet some fellow intellectuals can always join teachers David Stein and John Giles in 317 for math help. The two teachers are always full of energy and eager to teach young minds the wonders of mathematics. “I come into math help a lot to ask my teachers questions because they’re always really enthusiastic,” explains junior Lily Durkee. Stein says that because math help is immensely popular - approximately fifty students attend every day - it’s sometimes hard

FORTY-FIVE MINUTE FREEDOM Not all Blazers spend their lunch eating. Above left, math is the meal of the day for freshmen (left to right) Kinjal Ruecker, Neal Sarkar and Richard Chen. Above center, sophomores Calvin Godfrey, Alex Liu and Haena-Young Lee deal for the next round. Above right, ultimate frisbee begins when the weather is nice. Below left, a pickup game starts every day on the court. Below center, students pack the main hallway. Below right, senior Allison Chen and junior Dennis Yang deliberate over a math problem in Math Help. Photos by Kyra Seiger.

for him to lend every individual student a hand. “We do our best to help everyone: we have us and then upperclassmen also helping out,” states Stein. However, Stein says he still strongly encourages more students to come in for assistance if they need it. “Smart kids come in for help, because math is hard and otherwise you’ll fall behind,” advises Stein, wagging his finger in the air. Giles also says he loves seeing old and new faces come into his room during lunch. He says that the environment in math help is usually focused and collaborative so he understands why students choose to spend their time there instead of in the SAC. “Part of it is really that it’s just ridiculous that we expect thousands of kids to eat in an enclosed space,” says Giles, chuckling, “but also this is a time when teachers are specifically available to help students. And I think there is that sense of ‘well we’re already here, we might as well get things done.’”

Teens being teens Regardless of the way they choose to spend it, students look forward to their lunchtime. Taking in the incredible amount of energy in the bustling Blair hallways, proud principal Renay Johnson seconds their sentiments. “Too all, too often, kids are too stressed so they need a time and place to decompress in the middle of the day,” she says. “Teenagers need time to be teenagers.” Assistant principal Dirk Cauley agrees wholeheartedly. “I’m happy that there is a time for students to sort of let their hair down and reconnect with friends,” affirms Cauley, cheerfully observing Blazers from behind his laptop in the SAC. Though lunch is only 45 minutes long, Blazers have united to make the most of their free time. These groups of student athletes, gamers, and intellectuals are rarely exclusive. All students are welcomed and even encouraged, to join in if they are bored with their regular lunchtime routines.

November 7, 2013


Secret Life of


Story by Maya Habash Art by Eva Shen Graphics by Desiree Aleibar & Jenna Kanner

Features C4/C5

silverchips It’s 2:07 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Students wait anxiously for three minutes to pass until they are dismissed. It may seem like time drags on, but soon enough, the clock strikes 2:10 and the sounds of the freedom bells ring through the halls. After a long and exhausting week, students are ready for the weekend. Parties, movies, friends, and of course we can’t forget the dreaded “homework Sunday.” But not only do the students have a life outside of Blair, Blair seems to have a life of its own without the students. From Monday to Sunday, there always seems to be something going on at Blair—after hours.

The non-secular SAC When Blazers go home on Friday, the hallways whisper sounds of brushing brooms and rolling trashcans. Only building service workers are left. After a week of the SAC enduring chaotic lunches students loitering around leaving messes, it is scrubbed down. From 7:15 to 9:15 that night and on Sunday mornings, the SAC is transformed into a church. Living Water International Church has used this space for services for around three years. A denomination of Church of the Nazarene, this branch of Living Water International is mostly comprised of local members of the Haitian community. Carrie Addison, who schedules community building use at Blair, says that the church provides an adequate environment for the church to pray. “It’s available and has the space they need,” she says. However, being able to use Blair after hours is not as simple as calling Addison and scheduling the space. If an outside group, like the Church, wants to use Blair space, the leader or representative of the group has to attend a session held by the Intra-Agency Coordination Board (ICB) in order to receive training on rules and regulations. The ICB oversees the community’s use of public facilities, and is responsible for scheduling activities that do not disrupt the normal school day. According to the Montgomery County official website, “the Board is responsible for making policy decisions which balance the community’s need for space without interfering with the K-12 instructional program.” Addison also says that these sessions mainly ensure that the group knows what to do in case of emergency in the public facility. “Whoever is in charge, whoever signs the forms, they have to go to the session and be there when the event takes place,” she says.

Class beyond 3:00 p.m. Even though school is not in session on Saturdays, that doesn’t mean Blair isn’t still bustling with scholars. Senior Yohannes Sium says he thinks that some sort of classes take place at Blair over the weekends. “From past Saturday [lacrosse] games and practices I’ve seen kids sitting in class rooms so I’m guessing Blair has some kind of Saturday school for middle or elementary kids,” Sium says. He is absolutely correct. Every Saturday morning from 7 o’clock to noon, the George B. Thomas Academy has tutoring sessions held in the classrooms of Blair. The George B. Thomas Academy is a Saturday school program devoted to tutoring and mentoring students in the first through twelfth grade. The George B. Thomas Academy isn’t the only group of people learning at Blair after hours. When all the sports team practices are over every Tuesday and Thursday, and the parking lots of Blair begin to empty out, it is not long before they are filled again. Students aged 18 and up who take classes at Montgomery College file into Blair’s classrooms to improve their English skills. Blair is one of the 14 public school locations around Montgomery County at which Montgomery College holds English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. Blair has been used as a location for these classes for over 10 years. Some of these students are beginners and are being newly exposed to the English language, while others are more advanced and are working towards attaining their General Equivalency Degree (GED). But Blair isn’t just a place to learn school smarts; it’s a place for street smarts too. I Drive Smart, an organization that employs retired police officers to train newly licensed drivers, holds classes every Tuesday and Thursday as well. I Drive Smart is an organization that that gives drivers’ education classes. “I Drive Smart trains drivers — especially young drivers — to be safe drivers. Our driver education programs are taught by the most qualified instructors in the industry — law enforcement professionals,” according to the I Drive Smart website. Senior Caroline Nowak attended I Drive Smart during the summer before her junior year and says that she thought the classes were efficiently run. “The program was very well-coordinated and the cops seemed like they really enjoyed teaching about the laws and regulations of the road,” she says. She also thinks that Blair was a good space to use for the program. “Using Blair as a space was convenient because it was close and the rooms were big enough to hold all the kids that signed up,” says Nowak. Blazers share the courts After the sun has set and the school has gone dim, a single light coming from the gym illuminates the P.E. hallway. The sounds of sneaker squeaks and dribbling balls echo through the halls. On the other side of Blair, another light brightens the SAC, showing several men and women in exercise clothing stretching to pump-up music during their aerobics class. Meanwhile, it is dark outside, and the baseball field is lit with field lights as the baseball players get ready for their game. Take a little walk from the baseball field around to Blazer Stadium, and you can find soccer players wearing jerseys that are not red and white, players who don’t attend Blair. On varying days throughout the week, organizations such as the D.C. Approved Basketball Officials Association, Classics AAU Basketball, the Montgomery County Recreational Department, the Ponce de Leon Baseball League, Inc., the Potomac Soccer Association/Organization, the Montgomery Soccer Club and several other sports-related leagues and teams use Blair’s gym, baseball field and stadium field. The turf in the stadium is property of Montgomery County, and Blair is not exempt from scheduling it. Every time a Blair sports team has a sports game for which the turf is needed (football, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse), Blair’s Athletic Director, Rita Boule, has to schedule the field with Addison. “Blair gets first priority over the turf,” says Addison, “but we don’t own it, the county does.” The school that never sleeps If there is an event taking place at Blair at which over 300 people will be in attendance, such as Homecoming, the people hosting the event have to pay for extra security presence. “A little while ago there was the Montgomery County Job fair being held here… they needed security for that,” says Addison. Someone from the group also has to pay for building services as well as the media service technician, if necessary. At Blair, Bryan Nance holds this position. If an outside group wants to rent out Blair spaces like the SAC, they must do so for a minimum of 3 hours, says Addison. Aside from church meetings, classes, and sports events, Blair hosts a wide variety of events including ceremonies, cultural meetings, orchestra practices, debate team tournaments, and of course, standardized testing administrations like the SAT. Blair’s diversity within the opportunities it creates for the community mirrors Blair’s diversity in its student body. Blair’s location on University Blvd, also known as the “new Blair,” has been around for 15 years now. Most students attend the same school for all four years of high school. Yet, many students spend only the eight hours of instruction time from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at school, and this is the extent to which they know about what goes on at Blair. Junior Amear Eakins believes that, after hours, Blair is barren. “[What goes on is] absolutely nothing. Just cleaning,” he says. Similarly, senior Elias Gonzalez isn’t too sure about what goes on at Blair after the final bell rings. “I know some of the sports teams meet during non-school days, and the janitors clean and stuff. But other than that I have no idea,” says Gonzalez. Many Blazers are in the same boat as Eakins and Gonzalez, viewing Blair merely as the school they attend and nothing more. To them it might be just a school, but to others around the community, Blair is seen as a place to connect, to learn, and to grow. Many Blazers scramble to catch the bus at 2:10 and then simply go home; others go to sports practice or club meetings and then leave Blair. But Blair is a school that never sleeps; it keeps running even when students go home. It may just be a school to you, but there’s more than meets the eye.


November 7, 2013


Secret Life of


Story by Maya Habash Art by Eva Shen Graphics by Desiree Aleibar & Jenna Kanner

Features C4/C5

silverchips It’s 2:07 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Students wait anxiously for three minutes to pass until they are dismissed. It may seem like time drags on, but soon enough, the clock strikes 2:10 and the sounds of the freedom bells ring through the halls. After a long and exhausting week, students are ready for the weekend. Parties, movies, friends, and of course we can’t forget the dreaded “homework Sunday.” But not only do the students have a life outside of Blair, Blair seems to have a life of its own without the students. From Monday to Sunday, there always seems to be something going on at Blair—after hours.

The non-secular SAC When Blazers go home on Friday, the hallways whisper sounds of brushing brooms and rolling trashcans. Only building service workers are left. After a week of the SAC enduring chaotic lunches students loitering around leaving messes, it is scrubbed down. From 7:15 to 9:15 that night and on Sunday mornings, the SAC is transformed into a church. Living Water International Church has used this space for services for around three years. A denomination of Church of the Nazarene, this branch of Living Water International is mostly comprised of local members of the Haitian community. Carrie Addison, who schedules community building use at Blair, says that the church provides an adequate environment for the church to pray. “It’s available and has the space they need,” she says. However, being able to use Blair after hours is not as simple as calling Addison and scheduling the space. If an outside group, like the Church, wants to use Blair space, the leader or representative of the group has to attend a session held by the Intra-Agency Coordination Board (ICB) in order to receive training on rules and regulations. The ICB oversees the community’s use of public facilities, and is responsible for scheduling activities that do not disrupt the normal school day. According to the Montgomery County official website, “the Board is responsible for making policy decisions which balance the community’s need for space without interfering with the K-12 instructional program.” Addison also says that these sessions mainly ensure that the group knows what to do in case of emergency in the public facility. “Whoever is in charge, whoever signs the forms, they have to go to the session and be there when the event takes place,” she says.

Class beyond 3:00 p.m. Even though school is not in session on Saturdays, that doesn’t mean Blair isn’t still bustling with scholars. Senior Yohannes Sium says he thinks that some sort of classes take place at Blair over the weekends. “From past Saturday [lacrosse] games and practices I’ve seen kids sitting in class rooms so I’m guessing Blair has some kind of Saturday school for middle or elementary kids,” Sium says. He is absolutely correct. Every Saturday morning from 7 o’clock to noon, the George B. Thomas Academy has tutoring sessions held in the classrooms of Blair. The George B. Thomas Academy is a Saturday school program devoted to tutoring and mentoring students in the first through twelfth grade. The George B. Thomas Academy isn’t the only group of people learning at Blair after hours. When all the sports team practices are over every Tuesday and Thursday, and the parking lots of Blair begin to empty out, it is not long before they are filled again. Students aged 18 and up who take classes at Montgomery College file into Blair’s classrooms to improve their English skills. Blair is one of the 14 public school locations around Montgomery County at which Montgomery College holds English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. Blair has been used as a location for these classes for over 10 years. Some of these students are beginners and are being newly exposed to the English language, while others are more advanced and are working towards attaining their General Equivalency Degree (GED). But Blair isn’t just a place to learn school smarts; it’s a place for street smarts too. I Drive Smart, an organization that employs retired police officers to train newly licensed drivers, holds classes every Tuesday and Thursday as well. I Drive Smart is an organization that that gives drivers’ education classes. “I Drive Smart trains drivers — especially young drivers — to be safe drivers. Our driver education programs are taught by the most qualified instructors in the industry — law enforcement professionals,” according to the I Drive Smart website. Senior Caroline Nowak attended I Drive Smart during the summer before her junior year and says that she thought the classes were efficiently run. “The program was very well-coordinated and the cops seemed like they really enjoyed teaching about the laws and regulations of the road,” she says. She also thinks that Blair was a good space to use for the program. “Using Blair as a space was convenient because it was close and the rooms were big enough to hold all the kids that signed up,” says Nowak. Blazers share the courts After the sun has set and the school has gone dim, a single light coming from the gym illuminates the P.E. hallway. The sounds of sneaker squeaks and dribbling balls echo through the halls. On the other side of Blair, another light brightens the SAC, showing several men and women in exercise clothing stretching to pump-up music during their aerobics class. Meanwhile, it is dark outside, and the baseball field is lit with field lights as the baseball players get ready for their game. Take a little walk from the baseball field around to Blazer Stadium, and you can find soccer players wearing jerseys that are not red and white, players who don’t attend Blair. On varying days throughout the week, organizations such as the D.C. Approved Basketball Officials Association, Classics AAU Basketball, the Montgomery County Recreational Department, the Ponce de Leon Baseball League, Inc., the Potomac Soccer Association/Organization, the Montgomery Soccer Club and several other sports-related leagues and teams use Blair’s gym, baseball field and stadium field. The turf in the stadium is property of Montgomery County, and Blair is not exempt from scheduling it. Every time a Blair sports team has a sports game for which the turf is needed (football, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse), Blair’s Athletic Director, Rita Boule, has to schedule the field with Addison. “Blair gets first priority over the turf,” says Addison, “but we don’t own it, the county does.” The school that never sleeps If there is an event taking place at Blair at which over 300 people will be in attendance, such as Homecoming, the people hosting the event have to pay for extra security presence. “A little while ago there was the Montgomery County Job fair being held here… they needed security for that,” says Addison. Someone from the group also has to pay for building services as well as the media service technician, if necessary. At Blair, Bryan Nance holds this position. If an outside group wants to rent out Blair spaces like the SAC, they must do so for a minimum of 3 hours, says Addison. Aside from church meetings, classes, and sports events, Blair hosts a wide variety of events including ceremonies, cultural meetings, orchestra practices, debate team tournaments, and of course, standardized testing administrations like the SAT. Blair’s diversity within the opportunities it creates for the community mirrors Blair’s diversity in its student body. Blair’s location on University Blvd, also known as the “new Blair,” has been around for 15 years now. Most students attend the same school for all four years of high school. Yet, many students spend only the eight hours of instruction time from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at school, and this is the extent to which they know about what goes on at Blair. Junior Amear Eakins believes that, after hours, Blair is barren. “[What goes on is] absolutely nothing. Just cleaning,” he says. Similarly, senior Elias Gonzalez isn’t too sure about what goes on at Blair after the final bell rings. “I know some of the sports teams meet during non-school days, and the janitors clean and stuff. But other than that I have no idea,” says Gonzalez. Many Blazers are in the same boat as Eakins and Gonzalez, viewing Blair merely as the school they attend and nothing more. To them it might be just a school, but to others around the community, Blair is seen as a place to connect, to learn, and to grow. Many Blazers scramble to catch the bus at 2:10 and then simply go home; others go to sports practice or club meetings and then leave Blair. But Blair is a school that never sleeps; it keeps running even when students go home. It may just be a school to you, but there’s more than meets the eye.


C6 Features


November 7, 2013

Defining beyond the mental diagnosis

Teenagers struggle against the stigma of psychological illness By Blue Keleher Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect sources’ anonymity. The phrase “mental illness” evokes images of straightjackets, padded rooms, and dramatic movie climaxes. According to the entertainment media, all people with schizophrenia are violent, all people with depression constantly search for ways to end their lives, and all murderers owe their crimes to their “history of mental illness.”” Everyday people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and other illnesses are sidelined to make way for headlines that sell, and as a result, such disorders have become intimately linked with that fabricated Hollywood image: the lone wolf; the societal outcast; the deranged man in the alleyway whom kids are warned to avoid. The often-overlooked truth is that mental illness is surpassingly common, and not at all the demon it is made out to be. One in five American adults is affected by mental illness in any given year, according to the National Institutes of Health; the same proportion holds true for teenagers between fourteen and nineteen years old. Mental illnesses are many and varied, and in most cases cannot be attributed to one specific cause, nor used to predict the course of a person’s life. Instead, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsion, and many others are simple facts of life, obstacles faced by twenty percent of our country’s population, and – increasingly – objects used to vilify people who above all else seek understanding and compassion.

Of children ages 9 to 17, 21 percent have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder.

Approximately 50% of students 14 and older who live with a mental illness drop out of high school

Finding a sympathetic audience Maya Granger, a high school junior and author of a personal and advice blog, found herself estranged from her peers when she first began experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety disorder. “I didn’t have any resources, coping mechanisms, or understanding of what was happening to me,” she recalls. “I thought I was broken.” Blair junior James Fair, who has also been diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder, encountered difficulty in confiding in friends. “My brain would turn things that were very minimal into deep-set issues … and I had the feeling that everyone hated me,” he says. Like many other teenagers struggling with mood disorders, Granger and Fair found themselves on the other side of the social norm, and initially equated “different” with “wrong.” Linda, 49, recently received the diagnosis that her eleven-year-old son has bipolar disorder, a manic-depressive illness characterized by unusual “polar” shifts in mood. As a parent whose son has struggled with mood regulation from a young age, she has years of experience in dealing with negative preconceptions from friends, family, and other adults in her and her child’s lives. “It’s very hard to talk to people about what you’re experiencing, because most people don’t have to deal with this,” she says. “When you go up to a friend who doesn’t have someone with mental illness in their family, they think you’re messed up.” Linda has found that while many of her friends try to be open when dealing with mental illness, buzzwords like “bipolar” still make people wary. “I might just tell them that he has a mood disorder,” she explains. “People are judgmental about that.” Sofia, a nineteen-year-old now studying abroad, first battled depression in her senior year of high school. After missing enough class that she worried about not being able to graduate, she decided to take action. “I made the really terrifying decision of telling my teachers why I had been missing so much class,” she recalls. Instead of support, she met with resistance and general bewilderment, which was echoed in her domestic and personal life. “We don’t talk about ‘serious’ issues in my home,” she says. “[Also], because of the depression, I had alienated


myself from all the people I was closest with at school.” Sofia found herself hemmed in on all sides by a simple lack of understanding, and her stresses compounded.

When a quirk becomes an ‘illness’ One of the many challenges teens face when coming to terms with a mental illness is distinguishing clinical disorders from general teenage angst. Fair handled his feelings silently for years before he acknowledged that his depression might be more than typical malaise. “I don’t even think I realized my issues,” he says, musing that he may have resisted that realization precisely to avoid falling into the ‘depressed kid’ stereotype. Sofia, in spite of being a self-professed psychology nerd, says that for a long time she missed the symptoms of depression in herself. “I didn’t think I was ‘sick enough’ to qualify for those textbook definitions we learned,” she explains. Sofia further explains that in spite of the severity of the symptoms she did recognize, she was hesitant to self-diagnose without meeting all of the generally accepted criteria for depression. “It took me until I had a full-blown ‘textbook’ panic attack to realize that maybe I did need to seek professional help,” she says. Since then, Sofia has learned to be more perceptive to changes in her body and attitude, hoping to avoid the emotional strain she experienced when depression took her by surprise in high school. She is also keeping a cautious eye on issues that might be looming on the horizon. “I’ve read before that depression can often shift into things like bipolar [disorder], [and I have] wondered if that’s happening to me,” she says, citing a possible history of the disorder in her family, “[but] I’ve always been scared to voice that to people because I’m not a professional.” Granger, too, went through a period of denial before being diagnosed with clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. “At first I thought maybe if I worked harder, studied more, I’d be able to figure out what everyone else seemed to already be able to do,” she remembers. Granger draws an analogy between mental illness and having the flu: pretending to not be sick doesn’t make the sickness go away. “I couldn’t work through it on my own and I couldn’t ignore it,” she says, looking back on the pivotal moment in her realization that her issues were serious. “My catalyst was pretty dramatic – it was me deciding to die.”

Diagnosis as therapy Symptoms of a clinical illness, when not properly identified, can paint a misleading picture. Major clinical depression is a serious and potentially disabling disorder but can easily look like apathy to a casual observer. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can be mistaken for an inability to cope with stress, when its roots may be far from the apparent

cause. Bipolar disorder can manifest as a tendency to tantrums, or a poor disposition, instead of a complex biological illness. This may seem trivial, but oversimplified interpretations of intricate conditions often have far-reaching effects. Linda’s experiences with her son’s diagnosis illustrate this trend. “The diagnosis actually helped my husband accept that the cycling [between manic and depressive ‘poles’] was biological in nature, and that it was not our bad parenting that led to it,” she recalls. Especially given the fact that bipolar disorder is extremely difficult to identify in children, the positive diagnosis marked a shift in her family’s position toward her son’s behavior. “[My husband’s] attitude changed from ‘he needs to buck up and deal’ to ‘we all need to pitch in and help.’” Fair struggled with justifying the depression and anxiety he felt, worrying that his troubles were a solely a product of his environment. After landing in a D.C. hospital last spring after a cycle of depression, anxiety, and self-harming culminated in an attempted suicide, he called into question his right to emotional turmoil. “I met people in the hospital who were there because of sexual abuse and other horrible things,” he remembers, “but I was just this middle class white kid with a great family and great friends.” Once he had a better understanding of his illnesses, Fair came to realize that the depression he felt was not indicative of personal failure. “In my case it was more genetic,” he explains. “The chemical makeup of my brain didn’t allow for the correct amount of serotonin to be produced to keep my mood stable.”

Coping with stigma Since her senior year troubles and the diagnosis that followed, Sofia has found ways to manage anxiety and depression, but she has not been entirely able to walk away from the fear of criticism and the impact her illnesses have had on her life. She cites one relationship that dissolved partly due to a lack of understanding and notes that her current partner has also been diagnosed with anxiety and gets “the whole you can’t just tell someone to ‘stop worrying’ and ‘be happier’ thing.” In college overseas, Sofia retains a sense of wariness when it comes to opening up about her illnesses. “I’m always a little worried that people will see me as ‘that girl with depression.’” Junior Johnny Alderson offers a different perspective on the long-term consequences of mental illness. He describes his uncle, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens to early twenties, as a man whom today would never be suspected of having that dreaded “history of mental illness.”

“He definitely had issues,” he concedes, “[but] I had no idea, because he seemed completely normal.” Alderson muses, not without a tone of wonder, that his uncle most benefitted from a simple change in his environment. “When you’re told you’re a schizophrenic, you’re always going to be a schizophrenic,” he reflects. “People sort of have expectations of you [that] can be hard to escape from.” Today, Alderson says, his uncle has a family and a steady job. “People say you don’t really recover from something like schizophrenia, but I’ve direct evidence to the contrary.” Alderson explains that his uncle’s story has helped to shape his views of mental illness and treatment.

Getting support “The first thing is to get support from other people,” says Linda on working through mental illness. She cites organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), two prominent groups with strong online presences. “Getting involved with a support group like that is really invaluable, because what you have are people who are living with [mental illness] themselves and who understand.” Linda also stresses the importance of not letting a mental illness – yours or a loved one’s – take time away from life. “When your life is that weird and that messed up,” she says, “it’s very hard to … just go be normal and do normal things. Just please, go do that.” Sofia and Granger also found support and relief through the Internet. “I can’t talk about support without talking about Nerdfighters,” Sofia says, describing a massive community inspired by the “VlogBrothers” John and Hank Green which has recently established a subgroup for chronic illness support. Before college, she attended regular meet-ups with other members she met online; today, in spite of the geographical divide, friends established through the group continue to back her in her uphill battle. Granger has an outlet in the form of her Tumblr blog, “,” where she writes about awareness of mental health, social justice, and her own illnesses, and gives advice on experiences she’s had.

Responsibility lies with us Some claim that mental illness should be dealt with by the people it directly affects. Others argue that society has an obligation to foster an open and welcoming environment for those struggling to tackle their issues alone. Still others claim that the common perception of mental illness – the one perpetuated by Hollywood blockbusters and touted by the media – constitutes a direct attack on the demographic as a whole. Regardless of differing perspectives, no amount of compassion, understanding, or open-mindedness can ever be put to ill use.

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Chips’ declassified hallway traffic survival guide By Naomi Weintraub Make a left down Blair Boulevard and see a large cluster of kids waiting to enter their classroom. Swerve left to avoid the teachers pushing their portable classroom carts. Duck right and run up the stairs, make sure to dodge the cozy couples and students with bulging backpacks running up the wrong side of the stairs. Just a few steps more through these overcrowded hallways and you’ve reached your class, as the bell promptly rings. Almost 3,000 kids swarm Blair’s halls on the pursuit to “just get by,” or “just get to class.” We hear your crowded calls for help and cries of heaving hallway misery, and we present you with your guide to surviving Blair’s jam-packed halls smoothly and wisely.

Back to the basics Let’s start with a key area: Blair Boulevard. Blair Boulevard is the school’s central being, while some might argue that the SAC deserves that high title, the long main street is the stem for budding classrooms that branch off of it. Congestion is bound to occur, since this hallway is a crucial organism in the body of our school building. The infamous lunch transition showdown is the hallway’s legacy. When walking through this junction during the switch from 5th to 6th lunch one may feel like a salmon trying to swim upstream. If you are brave enough to walk the opposite way of the main stream you must brace yourself for a steady current of shoulder hitting. If you dare try to split into the 40s hallway you must be ready to accidentally step into strawberry milk puddles or carrot stick chunks. Only the wise know to wait till the crowd subsides. Once this sea has parted, you can easily glide down the

hallway, passing the kids with prestigious library lunchtime window seats. The security guards are always stationed in this long lane as students push their way past. Security guard Adrian Kelly manages the circulation of students during this time, but claims that a lot of the time the hallway is able to run itself. “The hallway manages itself; sometimes I push the traffic or collect kids who are lagging to walk to class,” says Kelly.

Daybreak lovers to noon elite If you’re an early riser and arrive at Blair in the wee hours of the morning before school has started maybe you’ve strolled through the foreign language hallways. Many have described these corridors as the “Lavish Lovers” halls. Walk cautiously through the narrow halls lined with couples who are comfortable with publicly displaying their affection for one another. Amble through these halls during Valentine’s Day and be sure to dodge the heart shaped balloons floating through the hall. During lunchtime a security guard, Maureen Walsh, protects these hallways intently. She is a brick wall. Only the elite are allowed entrance to these halls, with an occasional exception if you have a good excuse. Walsh believes that many falsely describe Blair’s halls as overcrowded, believing that the word has a

negative connotation. “I don’t like the term “overcrowded” because we manage. The building and staff are able to accommodate to the size of our student body,” says Walsh.

Arts hallway island If you are entering the school from the Colesville entrance you might stumble into a remote corridor, called the Arts hallway. This hallway is the southernmost part of our school, and is its own island in relation to the rest of the school’s classrooms. When attempting to arrive to an art class on time you must give yourself an extra three minutes of walking time due to the large restroom traffic circle. Upon entering

from the rest of the school. Walking down the arts alley you’d expect to be bombarded with explosions of student projects and instruments playing. However, the hallway feels quite dead. Despite the small attempts to showcase some student art the hallway is almost always empty. The usual expected maneuvering and weaving through the Blazer crowd is not needed when walking through the corridor of this desolate ingress.

Surviving these halls

After four years at a huge high school, students learn the tips and tricks to steering these jam-packed halls. Junior Adrian Kombe frequently feels as though he is waiting for students to move out of his way. “You need to move yo!” he says as he explains his frustrations towards clusters of students conversing in the center of Blair Boulevard. Kombe is not the only aggravated student, Sophomore Tsion Biz often finds herself weaving through crowds of students. “Everyone has jumbo backpacks, so you have to bob and weave through the crowd to get by,” says Biz. With caution, care and some Silver Chips tips you should be able to safely roam the halls of this massive, congested buildMAGGIE MCCLAIN ing. Good luck, Blazers.

the arts hallway, put on a sweater. It is almost always freezing, like an isolated icebox

Miss the activities fair? Here are some clubs to share

By Leila Habib

Programmers, artists, managers and more walk through Blair’s crowded hallways every day. Name a hobby or interest, and there’s probably a Blazer who has it. The diversity of interests helps foster many clubs, which can make choosing one challenging. Here are some exciting clubs to help you along the way.

Science & Art Club Walking through the 340s hallway, you might have passed by a skeleton. Maybe you were intrigued by the Double Helix. These many elements make the Science & Art Club’s mural outside the Science office an eye-catcher. The colorful mural’s theme is STEM, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math program at Blair. The club focuses on decorating the third floor’s otherwise bland, white walls with studentproduced murals that depict the “fascinating realm of science,” junior member Paula Nhan explains. In order to make this “fascinating realm” come to life, weeks are spent brainstorming ideas for sketches. Creative ideas don’t always come easily, so senior member Minh Nguyen believes the more members, the merrier. “It

would be nice if we had more people for ideas and to divide up the work,” he said. In addition to imaginative ideas, background knowledge is also necessary as the sketches can’t rely on just a keen artistic eye. “You have to incorporate textbook knowledge into it,” Nguyen said. “You can’t just throw double helices everywhere and be like, ‘Bam, it’s done.’” Despite the lengthy process, the club plans on “busting out” more than one mural this year, according to Nguyen. The Science & Art Club meets every Tuesday from 2:10 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Blair Sports Management Club You see a student selling DumDums for a chance to win a free ticket to a Blair sports game. You painfully hand over the lone quarter you have in your pocket and start walking away, contemplating whether that was worth it. But then you hear a bell signaling that you won. Yeah, it was definitely worth it. Blair Sports Management Club puts these promotions in place to “try to make people come out to the games so the school has more spirit,” junior club member Anne-

Blair Sports Management Club sells lollipops for $0.25 each DIEMPHUE NGUYEN, BLAIR WEBSITE,MINH NGUYEN,PAULA NHAN

Olive Nono explains. It may seem as if Blair has plenty of spirit at football games with shirtless guys on the bleachers with “Blair” on their chests. But for other sports, this isn’t the case, so BSMC wants to help publicize “all types of sports,” Nono says. Planning these enticing promotions and halftime events allows members to be “behind the scenes,” senior Emma RobertsVaurio describes. “It’s fun…to be the ones to organize fun half-time entertainment at sports events and get people rallied,” she says. This intricate planning fosters growth in each member. “I wasn’t an outspoken person,” senior club President Diemphuc Nguyen remembers. “Through the club, I found leadership abilities, organizational skills, and insightful ideas.” Blair Sports Management Club meets in Room 117 every Wednesday at 2:20 p.m.

Public Speaking Club Sweaty palms, pounding heart, and slight dizziness; most of us have experienced these symptoms. Whether it’s giving a presentation or having the lead in a play, stage fright usually gets to the best of us. The Public Speaking Club, also known as the Forensics Club, helps

you “get over your fear of talking to a huge crowd of people,” junior club member Eunice Muchemi says. Of course, this is easier said than done. To accomplish this goal, members participate in extemporaneous speaking during meetings. “We come up with three topics, and you’re given around 15 minutes to prepare. Then, you come up with a speech about why you are for or against one of the topics,” Muchemi explains. For the adventurous, there are several categories within the realm of public speaking including serious poetry, theater, serious prose, where you can read anything from a play to a short story to the audience, and even children’s literature, where you “read a children’s book as if you’re reading it to kids,” Muchemi says. In the past two years, the club has had two members reach the finals in the Forensics Tournament and win trophies. This year, members hope to make it to the finals again. The Public Speaking Club meets every Wednesday in Room 133 at 3:00 p.m.

Computer Club When passing by the “Magnet” lab, otherwise known as Room

There are over 100 clubs at Blair

314, during lunch, everything may seem dark and empty. Yet, the gloomy space is home to the Computer Club. Computer programming is “hotly in demand,” senior member Elias Gonzalez describes. Everything requires a programmer, including games. This involves “an imagination for the plot, programming for making it, and a lot of artistry…to make the game look great,” Gonzalez says. When thinking of programmers, a picture of Wade from Kim Possible huddled over a computer and typing furiously might pop into your head. This may seem intimidating, but the club plans to cater to less experienced members with a new curriculum involving various activities and lessons. Though the new curriculum would focus on the less experienced, the club would have discussion topics for the more advanced. Hopefully, the new curriculum will improve everyone’s programming skills, because the club hopes to win the Montgomery College Computer Programming competition. Last year, the club received fourth and fifth place, “even though many of us hadn’t finished learning Java yet,” Gonzalez admits. Computer Programming meets Thurdays during lunch in Room 314.

Arts & Science Club hopes to create at least two murals this year DESIREE ALEIBAR

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It’s a cat-astrophic, dog-eat-dog world out there By Leigh Cook The battle between felines and canines is fueled by humans. The establishment of both species as house pets has placed them in strong competition with each other and inspired infinite comparisons made by opinionated owners. In personality, attitude and even biological composition, cats and dogs have been on completely opposite ends of the spectrum since they came into existence. In 1983, archaeologists found jawbones in Cyprus that could be attributed to the modern house cat, indicating that domestication may have occurred as long as 8,000 years ago. Since it is unlikely that hoards of mangy, clawing felines were brought to Cyprus by ship, researchers who took part in the study concluded that cats domesticated themselves over time. This theory of domestication is fitting for these creatures that are most renowned for their independence and sovereignty. On the contrary, wolves -- descendants of a plethora of mammals, including hyenas, bears and cats -- were domesticated by men roughly 15,000 years ago and evolved into dogs. Even prior, wolves always traveled in packs and sought companionship. It is no surprise that “man’s best friend” was tamed by man himself. Many have argued that there is no better companion than a dog, an animal that is particularly mobile compared to its feline counterpart. Dogs can ride comfortably in cars, attend outdoor events and go on trips with the family. They also know how to sit, fetch, shake “hands” and come running when their names are called. As junior Ishaan Parikh said, “Dogs seem to radiate friendship, warmth and partnership, which are devoid in cats. I can appoint my dog as guardian of my abode, and he will serve that duty with complete dedication. I can confide in my dog when every other hope is lost, and he will listen to every last word. I can look forward to seeing Fido every day at 4:00 on the ‘Welcome!’ mat at home with the same, happy face.” Dogs embody security and routine and their dependence is often perceived as loyalty, a trait that many owners desire in their pets, especially if they cannot find it in humans. Cats refrain from following commands not because they are stupid, but because they have no desire to obey the will of human beings, whom they perceive as inferior by nature. Cats are independent creatures and the closest thing to a collective group of felines would probably be a pride of lions. Some people may prefer cats because they are low-maintenance. Sophomore Sangita Ramaswamy said that what she likes most about cats is that “you don’t have to walk them.” Others may find cats’ demeanors admirable because they show no adherence toward the rules of human beings. Many dog-owners like the obedience shown by their pets and perceive cats as pretentious and ungracious. A distaste for dogs can often be attributed to traumatic experiences people have endured as children. Freshman Maia Pramuk recalls an instance with a dog that occurred when she was younger. She claims that ever since a large dog knocked her down and licked her all over she has been averse to associating with dogs. Maia’s experience involved a mostly harmless, benevolent canine whose intentions probably did not exceed showing affection and greeting the small child he encountered. There have been countless other traumatic cases involving violent dogs that have torn people to shreds and caused permanent damage through biting and mauling. These are the dogs that are one person’s house pet and the bane of another’s existence. These dogs create the stigma to which many children and adults are susceptible. There are many phenomena of this kind that parallel a fear of dogs: stigmas based on race, stigmas toward people with certain careers and professions, and the most common stigma toward people with mental health conditions. People who have been traumatized by cats are much less abundant, but felines are equally as defensive and vicious as dogs. Freshman Abby Rowland said that she had a traumatic expe-

rience with a cat when she was younger and has since been very cautious of these conniving creatures. Unlike dogs, cats are often passive aggressive about harming human beings. In many instances cats will rub against humans’ legs and feign fondness and friendliness, only to swat at them moments later due to an unapparent change in attitude and disposition. Dogs, however, often revert to aggressive behavior because they have been mistreated by owners or trained to be ferocious. We see the conventional forms of cats and dogs portrayed in nearly every aspect of media and entertainment. Jim Davis’ decades-old comic, Garfield, features one lazy, self-governing and self-absorbed feline whose days are tormented by the young, heedless dog he shares a household with. The 2001 film Cats & Dogs portrays canines as the lovable protagonists while the villains are an enterprise of evil cats. Si and Am, the pair of Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp, torment Lady throughout the movie. And then there’s B e e t h o v e n , CAT VS DOG Above, Zeus, a boxer, glances into the distance. Below, Buddy, Marley, Toto, Lasslicitous creatures while cats are commonly ie, Winn-Dixie, Shiloh and all 101 Dalmatians who have known for their Machiavellian personalities played the role of steadfast companion. Mr. and malicious intentions. O n e ’ s preference is inherently Bigglesworth, Dr. Evil’s cat in Austen Powers, based on opinion and and Lucifer, the evil stepmother’s feline in sonality. In many Cinderella, are both examples of antagonis- p e r ways, cats and dogs tic felines. The list goes on. There are parallel two types plenty of excepof humans that entions to these compass eister e o ther useful types, usualor limitly in the ing traits, f o r m dependof the ing on neighwhether borhood one views them in guard dog (The a positive or negative light. PersonSandlot) or the al preference may be attributed to compassionate feline which animal people have grown up counterpart ( K i k i ’s with because their parents or guardDelivery Service a n d ians owning a cat or dog, but at the Sabrina the Teena g e KAT GOLLADAY core, true preference reflects the perWitch, although in both sonality of the owner. cases Kiki and Sabrina are I tried to maintain objectivity while writboth witches -- though benevolent -- and their cats are black). Despite these examples, ing this piece – as any journalist should – but dogs are usually depicted as caring and so- I am including this paragraph to voice that



Delilah sits at the table. IG: @lilah_bean

I have a passionate affinity for cats. What I admire the most about cats is that they refuse to abide by many standards expected of domesticated animals, yet they are still able to live comfortably in a human household and respect boundaries and restraints. My cats can certainly find their litter boxes better than my dog can find an appropriate place to use the bathroom. When the cats choose to shred toilet paper or dig their nails into my mother’s custom-made cushions they know they are breaking the rules. I admire this audacity and defiance. If it gets out of hand, a spray bottle always wards them away from whatever mischievous activity they have gotten into. A hierarchy exists within my house and the cats are at the top rung. The dog exists at the bottom, infinitely superior to the agile cats that can jump – and are allowed to jump – on higher surfaces and use their claws to tear our dog’s skin should he dare come near a cat as she eats out of his bowl. I feel apathetic toward my canine, though he is one of the most docile creatures I have ever met, because that is his place in our house and every dog’s place amidst felines.

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Helping students take the next step after high school A comprehensive guide to the resources available for Blazers going to college By Leslie Chen Every morning at 6:30, Resource Counselor Marcia Johnson’s day begins. She checks what she has to do for the day then plans out her schedule. The role of the counselors covers a broad range of different jobs: from making the schedules of new enrollees to attending parent teacher conferences. Throughout the day, Johnson meets with students and when not working directly with students, she responds to emails from parents or from other school staff. Just down the 120s hallway is the Career Center. Inside, walls are covered in flags of universities all over the nation, from Hawaii to Vermont. Shelves along the outer edges are filled with practice books for various standardized tests and binders of information about colleges and careers. Both the Career Center and the counseling office provide an abundant amount of information that can assist students in preparation for their future, yet so many Blazers don’t even know that these are available to them.

Welcome to the Career Center! Just outside of the gym hallway, a large black sign with red letters marks the Career Center. Here, students have access to a wealth of information about what they plan to do after they leave Blair. Whether interested in going to college or pursuing a career, all Blazers, stressed seniors and underclassmen alike, can use it as a resource. The main purpose of the Career Center is to let students examine their options for what comes next and to help them make the best

decision. The Career Center offers a variety of resources, the most important of which are Family Connection and Bridges-XAP. Family Connection allows students to compare different colleges, scholarships and careers. Similarly, Bridges-XAP helps students look at different options for education and careers based on what interests them. Career Center Coordinator Phalia West and the Career Center assistants are also important resources. When working on college applications, they can help to go over application essays. Also, they can also provide information on standardized testing, financial aid and scholarships, college fairs, internships, other job opportunities, the U.S. military and much more says West. The Career Center also hosts many college and career workshops and search programs as well as representatives visiting from over 200 colleges. Preparing for the next stage of life can get pretty stressful for seniors, but the Career Center is there to help. No matter if their next step is college or a job, seniors can get one on one help during lunch or during other periods of the day, with an appointment. For students that are applying to college, the Career Center can schedule college visits so that students can talk with a college representative. “Even if a representative from a college that you’re interested in isn’t already scheduled to come, you can ask Mrs. West and she will arrange for them to come,” said senior Jonell Malone. Students planning for a career directly following graduation can get help finding jobs. Many different companies and military branches are available monthly in the SAC

to discuss possible opportunities with any interested students.

2800 students, 12 counselors Based on last name, every Blazer is assigned to a guidance counselor. Each counselor can provide his or her students with a variety of different services including personal, social and academic counseling, college and career advising, registration and scheduling and college recommendation letters. As explained by their titles, counselors are there to counsel. They function as a support system, if needed. When a student is overwhelmed with the workload, they can help by looking for a mentor or by setting up a parent teacher conference. “We act as a liaison between the student and the teacher,” says counselor Kirk Simms. If necessary, counselors can also make a schedule adjustment for the student. On top of that, counselors help with career and college planning. When they meet with juniors in the spring, they distribute the Trailblazer folder. This contains materials about college, a checklist of what to do in junior and senior year as well as forms that students have to fill out so that the counselor can better assist students during the application process. Then, when senior year comes around, counselors are there to guide students every step of the way, advising students on schools they applied to, based on majors they choose, their GPA and SAT scores, and answer any questions that may come up during the process.

Advice to Underclassmen, Jonell Malone (senior): “Try to take the SAT for the first time at the end of sophomore year, just to try it out. That way, when you take it as a junior, you’ll already know what’s going on and you might be able to get them over with in the beginning of junior year.” Clara Weisman (senior): “You always feel unprepared for the SAT, so if you start late in junior year you’re just going to keep freaking out and feel really lost and confused. It’s so much better if you try to start younger.” Wynston Reed (senior): “Start using the Career Center in the beginning of junior year, like first quarter. Also, after you take the SAT/ACT, you can go to the Career Center to see the scores that colleges want.” Sephora Francois (senior): “Always check in with your counselor several times a month starting junior year. They can look over your test scores and help you plan out college tours and just check up on how you’re doing in school.”

Love, Your Upperclassmen

Paving the way to a new television experience Blazers spend significant amounts of time watching Netflix online

By Kenyetta Whitfield In 1997, a small subscription-based DVD distributor was born. The company was going to change the way people received their movies, games and television shows. That company’s name was Netflix. In the 16 years since its creation, Netflix has become more than a household name; it’s become a lifestyle. Creating a culture of their own, Netflix users are among us at all times and many of us ourselves are Netflix addicts. Long gone are the days of waiting till 8pm one evening every week to catch your favorite show. Netflix caters to the modern television addict by offering an array of shows for those of us ready for consumption.

Goodbye mail service, hello, instant streaming The DVD is a well-known object. Sleek, shiny, susceptible to scratches, and collectible, DVDs are a staple in most movie lovers’ collections. Companies like Blockbuster, Hollywood Video and f.y.e each took simple DVDs and made them a phenomenon by making them readily available for rent for millions of people across the world. For years, no slumber party or Friday night date night was complete without a quick run to the nearest video store to grab the newest DVD release and a bag of popcorn. Yet, in all of its glory sometimes making the trek down to the now-rusted storefronts was more work than play. That’s where Netflix made its big debut, leaving countless video lovers shuffling their feet along endless sidewalks wondering where to turn next. Advertising itself as an easy-to-use DVD subscription service, Netflix offered its users the ability to create a personalized queue of movies, choose the number of movies they wanted at a certain time and sit back and enjoy the perks of delivery movie heaven. The only catch? Pay a monthly fee and mail the movie back when you are done with it. The

sheer brilliance of the idea took the world by storm. The trendsetting company didn’t stop at its delivery service, though, and in 2008 Netflix began offering its users instant online streaming of video and other exclusive content that most would otherwise have to torrent or record on the old DVR. It was the change that started a movement; it paved the way for a new culture to emerge.

Originality takes the cake Netflix’s groundbreaking streaming debut was only the beginning of its new and grown-up look. In February, the company introduced House of Cards –a “Netflix new and original series” that was to be broadcasted solely through the online streaming site. The exclusiveness of the new series didn’t stop it from receiving positive praise from various media outlets and a 76 out of 100 rating on Metacritic. Netflix didn’t stop there, though: the brave company was quickly becoming known for its new anti-television ways. In April the company put out another Original series, Hemlock Grove, and a month later put out a new fourth season of FOX’s cancelled cult classic Arrested Development. Netflix lovers across the globe were getting a taste of something new, something just for them. In June, Netflix followed up with its last original series of the summer, Orange is the New Black, which has been streamed by more people for more hours than Arrested Development or House of Cards respectably.

Viewers turned bingers People who call themselves Netflix fanatics are familiar with the term “binge watching.” One minute you find yourself taking a short break from your work to watch the pilot episode of a season, and 12 hours later you’re on the last episode of season two. The popular trend doesn’t just apply to television shows. Junior Lily Fujii likes to watch

a wide array of movies. “I like to watch foreign films, because you can’t ever see them on television,” said Fujii. Binge watching is what gives Netflix culture its flair. To go through a range of emotions with a show that leaves its viewers on the edge of their seat and begging for more is a feeling people live for. Netflix has perfected the formula for the perfect binge watching experience. Its contents are readily available on cell phone, tablet, gaming systems and computer. The company also puts up shows by the season, giving binge watchers with a large appetite plenty to consume. Binge watching may not be mutually exclusive with Netflix but is definitely common place within the Netflix culture.

ers within the Netflix community to feel as if they’ve lost the exclusive edge they’ve grown accustomed to. In a world where Netflix is connected to cable, isn’t it essentially just like cable? That question can only be answered with time. Netflix fans young and old join the community every day. The small company, barely older than many of us, has not only bright business prospects, but also the potential to become an all-around a w a r d - w i n n e r. The 2013 Emmy Awards set Netflix off with a bang, with 15 award nominations. Although the site only walked away with one Emmy for House of Cards in the end, the idea that shows that never hit cable were New deals and able to be nomibright futures nated for Emmys left Netflix enthuIn mid-October Netsiasts and televiflix announced that the sion fanatics excompany and major cited and waiting cable companies such as for more. Comcast and Cox were When television considering a merger was created, it was in order to create a new a genius invention viewing experience. If the MAGGIE MCCLAIN that left many wonmerge was successful, dering if there would the popular cable compaever come something nies would feature a Netflix button on their remotes, which would allow custom- better. Over the course of time, video has ers to connect to Netflix through their cable opened our eyes to the wonders of cinema boxes with the push of a button (and a few and cable networking has paved the way extra dollars each month). The transforma- for cult classics to be born. Netflix has, in as tion would take the anti-cable company to few as 16 years, created a media consumer a whole new level and introduce it to many subculture for movie and TV lovers. Millions of people around the world are saymore audiences. This pivotal step could cause consum- ing “goodbye” to primetime and “hello” to binge watching.

November 7, 2013

Entertainment D5


Do you need Blair info, stat? There’s an app for that!

Students develop smartphone applications by Blazers, for Blazers By Kyle Desiderio It’s clear that we love our cell phones. We’re on them before school, during lunch, after school, on the bus, and due to recent policy changes, even in the hallways. While this might drive some teachers crazy claiming that our generation is “doomed” due to our excessive technology use, we are able to connect much more than ever before, and with new smart phone apps hitting stores ever day, our phones can help us make our lives that much easier. But its not just noname companies producing these apps, people anywhere can produce any app they want with the sufficient drive (and time), including Blazers. Here are some of the best apps we’ve found that are to hit the apple store soon or may already even be on the market. MCPS Bus Tracker Every student in the world has been stuck in the rain at ungodly hours in the morning waiting for the bus. It’s at this point, though, where you have to make a gamble. Do you go home and try to bum a ride off your parents, but risk the bus coming as you leave? Or do you stay in the freezing cold/ rain/snow and trust your bus will come? It’s a dilemma that’s been plaguing students for ages, and one that soon, will hopefully end. This app, designed by senior Ashu Nanda is still in progress but he hopes the app will make the laborious trek to school much easier. It will track all MCPS busses, and give

live updates onto where the location of the bus is. “Students know where the bus is if it misses them or if the bus is off course,” he says. Hopefully, the app will soon be able to hit the apple and Google app stores and make taking the bus a much less stressful ordeal. Übershuffle A few years ago, this app was on the apple store, designed by senior Jonah Chazan. Unfortunately, he had to take it off of the store and due to his inability to update and support it, however, the app is being completely retooled and a new version is set to be released soon. The app originally was a much more customizable way to shuffle songs on your iPhone or iPod. It accesses your music library and allows you to customize how much you would prefer each song to be played when it’s on shuffle. “The main feature is that the user has more control over how shuffling the music works. Instead of each song being equally likely to appear, each artist, album, or genre can be [more or less] likely to appear, depending on the user’s selection,” Chazan claims. Chanzan is working on a second, more robust version, which he claims should be done soon. The app builds off his last one, and will use the star rating to change the likelihood of songs and artists from appearing in the playlist and allow users to change songs appearing up next on the fly, among other improvements.

While no release date is set yet, Chazan assures that he is almost done with the final product and that demos have already been made. PuzzlePalooza PuzzlaPalooza is one of the most fun— and hectic—weeks of the year. Every morning of HSA week, upperclassmen litter the third floor hallways frantically searching for answers to nearly impossible puzzles, for the allusive huge prizes. Rules and events can change on the fly though, which makes communication during the week imperative. This app, again designed by Nanda, will hopefully make communication during the event much easier, giving contestants and groups the ability to follow up on news live from their phones. “Basically it’s a tracker for the whole event,” he says. Typing With Friends ZEKE WAPNER

A year ago, Words with Friends was on nearly every Blazer’s smart phone. Students would play with their friends during lunch, at home, and even during class. The idea of being able to compete with your friends enticed many Blair students, and Nada hopes to capture this competitive spirit with another app. The app is a typing game, but instead of just typing against a clock, you’re typing against your friends. “It’s a social way to challenge your friends at phone typing

APP CLUB Senior Ashutosh Nanda is the club’s leader. He works to design apps for to make navigating Blair life easier.

speeds, but it’s based on typing the news, which makes it educational and fun at the same time,” Nada exclaims. This app is also still in development, but hopefully it will allow many to get over the challenging struggle of typing on an iPhone and cut-down on the typos. All while keeping up with the news.

Checking out books from the Blazer bookshelf

Blair students gush about their favorite books and genres By Rebecca Naimon Amidst the stacks of essays, reading comprehension questions and graphic organizers common to school reading lists, many Blair students still manage to stick their noses in books of their own choosing on a regular basis, reading titles that range from popular fiction to manga, from classic literature to historical fiction. This is not your teacher’s English class. When most people talk about books they like to read, the first to pop to mind are popular fiction. Thrillers, science fiction and the odd stream-of-consciousness surrealism are the wildly dissimilar genres of choice, bound together by the fact that none of it is true. Polling the population When Blazers were asked about what they like to read, multiple people offered up the name of John Green, an author of young adult fiction famous for novels including Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. Freshman Lulaa Yohannes first read The Fault in Our Stars because she had seen that other people had positive responses to it. “It looked like a good book if it could affect people so much emotionally,” she said. She thought the book was refreshing, since she usually reads fiction and sci-fi books. “This was a nice change of pace.” Clearly, genre fiction is also quite popular among Blazers. Despite their common association, fantasy and science fiction, often mentioned in the same sentence, are not interchangeable, according to freshman Andrew Phillips, who prefers science fiction. “It’s the futuristic, but also very real views from the books,” he explained. “A lot of non-sci-fi books get so far from reality that I can’t quite un-

derstand where it’s heading.” the classics have stood the test of losophy class is reading the first ternet using their surgical eye imPhillips recently read Arthur C. time, although many high school book of Plato’s Republic, Iyob is plants. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, a students clearly wish they hadn’t. reaching higher. “Even though On a more serious note, hishard sci-fi novel about the explora- Who knows? Maybe classrooms we’re only reading Book One of torical fiction still has the abiltion of an alien spaceship, which in 100 years will read The Hunger Plato’s Republic, I wanted to read ity to transport the reader into captivated him with its intense Games and write multi-page es- the rest.” the struggles and passions of the Another way to see into the past. Senior Debbie, who chose imagery and insight. “Everyone says on that book instead. should give science fiction a try,” Senior Isayas Iyob is already fas- minds and lives of the past is to identify by only her first name, he said. cinated by the classics, and most through historical fiction, although recently read Edwidge Danticat’s If you want to try some different recently read Dante’s Inferno. He it doesn’t seem to get a lot of atten- The Farming of Bones, a historical genres, keep an eye on manga, Jap- enjoys entering the mindsets of tion. It’s a shame, because there’s fiction novel set in the Dominican anese graphic novels that are more people from the past, and reading little more awesome than history. Republic in the 1930s. “Most of the accurately a books I read are books medium unto that catch my eye on the themselves, first page,” said Debbie. since their “I loved the book.” She contents range enjoyed learning about just as widely the conflict between the as of any other Dominican Republic books. and Haiti. “Everything J u n i o r about it helped me unDuc Tai Le derstand life in another is an experiway.” enced reader of manga. “I A climactic closure don’t have favorite books,” That’s what it often he said, “but comes down to: inforI do have famation. After reading vorite series.” books, people are more His current knowledgeable than favorite series, before. Learning is awecalled Claysome (really, it is), and more, could therefore, so are books. be described Or if that doesn’t fly, the as a mix of escapism of the stories dark fantasy, alone are enough to be action, and a reason to read. Who drama. “It’s wants to spend all hours interesting of the day thinking with the twistabout homework, when ed plots, and you could be thinking MIMI SIM how the auabout pirates? BLAZING THROUGH THE BOOKS Junior Vicky Nguyen serenely reads a book in the library. thor planned The most substantial everything out reason to read books, ahead,” according to Le. Manga is about what they were thinking. One of the problems with his- however, has got to be the commuin style and here to stay. “Even though the book was very torical fiction is that, written in the nity, the act of reading a book and dark and has a lot of references present day, it includes too many passing it on. The act of sharing Timeless tales to biblical occurrences, like devils anachronisms. Two hundred years a story, of knowing other people and angels, it also talks about an- from now, historical fiction about who share a passion for a subject, Now, one type of book that cient poets and talks about political our present will involve flappers is invigorating. It is the greatest never goes out of style is classic issues at that time,” he explained. wearing poodle skirts listening thing to talk to other people about literature. Written by dead people, Right now, although his phi- to Coldplay while surfing the In- books.

D6 Chips Clips “Famous MBs” by Erik Agard



November 7, 2013

Across 1. African antelopes 5. One of the Big Four banks in the U.S. 9. Squirrel’s snack 14. Reckless 15. Rested 16. Chocolate bean 17. On the water 18. Apple variety? 19. Concluded 20. “On the Waterfront” star 23. Math function 24. Enzyme ending 25. Jane Austen novel 29. Fond du __ (Wisconsin city) 32. Pitchfork-shaped Greek letter 34. Female sheep 36. Cape __, Massachusetts 37. Khayyam, Epps, or Ahsan 39. “__, you’re it!” 41. Bluegrass instrument 43. Member of Lincoln’s cabinet 47. Get out of bed 48. Juan’s uncle 49., e.g. 50. Palindromic family member 51. Poem of praise 54. Batman and Robin, e.g. 56. Serling or Stewart 57. Killed

59. Giants great Mel 61. Articulation from Odie 63. Singer who appeared in an SNL skit with Jon Hamm 69. Place for a barbeque 72. Concerning 73. ___ Scott v. Sandford (1857 court case) 74. Precise 75. Gas used in Vegas lights 76. Absent 77. Maui greeting 78. Sea Eagle 79. McGregor of “Star Wars”

Down 1. Metric weight 2. Org. for astronaughts 3. One who visits a 49-across 4. “We ____ Overcome” 5. Won’t let go of 6. Foot, in poetry 7. Miss America’s Crown 8. Words after ‘just’ 9. Got 100% on 10. Kayak alternative 11. Monk’s disorder 12. “Norma ___” 13. Signify agreement 21. Alley ___ 22. Unused

Sudoku: Hard

Sudoku: Easy


26. Former Titains quarterback Steve 27. Havana cocktail 28. Loved 29. “Death of a Stranger” family 30. Lacking ethics 31. Wolf, e.g. 33. I think, therefore ___ 35. Recede, as a tide 38. Ways to go: Abbr. 40. Obtain 42. Pacino and Gore 44. Prefix with political 45. Unburden 46. “And what army?” 52. “What up, __?” 53. Odorless, flammable gas 55. Sphere 58. Where Kalamazoo is: Abbr. 60. Stun gun 62. Holiday treat 64. Tiny bit 65. School attended by Bond 66. Forehead 67. Singer Horne 68. Biblical garden 69. Split ___ soup 70. Rose of rock music 71. “The ___ of Pooh”



Potty Humor

Food Baby


Unemployment Issues


November 7, 2013



La Esquina Latina

Silver Chips 7 de Noviembre de 2013

Obamacare un seguro médico para millones La controversial ley ya implementada beneficiará a la comunidad Por Marisela Tobar Por años, muchos estadounidenses incluyendo muchos estudiantes de Blair, han estado limitados por el hecho de no tener un seguro médico adecuado. El Centro para el Control y la Prevención de la Enfermedad calcula que cerca del 30% de los ciudadanos y residentes de origen latino no tienen seguro médico. Esto es en comparación del 11% de caucásicos y el 17% de afroamericanos. Con un notable desacuerdo, la legislación conocida como ObamaCare, iniciativa impulsada por el Presidente Obama, fue firmada como ley el 23 de marzo del 2010. Esta legislación también fue aprobada por la Corte Suprema el pasado 28 de junio del 2012. El plan de salud ObamaCare estima que ayudará al 48% de los latinos que muestran ser favorecidos con dicha legislación. Aún con los benéficios que muestra ObamaCare muchos estudiantes hispanos y sus familias no están lo suficientemente informados, como lo explica Paola del duodécimo grado, “Veo que hay muchas personas que no están bien informadas del tema y tienen muchos juicios contra del ObamaCare.” Cuando la gente escucha ‘ObamaCare’ piensan en Obama, en su lado político y entonces se crea el desacuerdo. La ley ObamaCare es oficialmente nombrada la ley de Protección al Paciente y Cuidado de Salud


Asequible. La meta de la ley es de regular

no el tipo de cuidado de salud sino el sistema de seguro médico. Algunos de los beneficios que le atribuyen al ObamaCare, es que dejaría que los jóvenes aún mayores de 21 años permanezcan en el mismo plan de salud de sus padres hasta los 26. Además, será ilegal que las personas que tienen condiciones de salud pre-existentes sean rechazadas por las agencias de seguro. Entre otros beneficios, ObamaCare promete la servicios de prevención como vacunas y exámenes de prevención gratuitas. Amanda Flores de undécimo grado, que aunque tiene seguro médico, aplaude la nueva ley. “ObamaCare ayudará a que personas que no van al médico puedan ir sin miedo de los altos costos que pueden pagar” expresó Flores. El sitio de internet lanzado el pasado primero de octubre es donde las per-

sonas podrán comprar la póliza adecuada a sus necesidades y disponibilidad económica. Dichas coberturas están divididas en tres niveles; el bronce que cubre costos básicos, el plateado que es categorizado como cobertura intermedia, y el nivel dorado que es cobertura más extensa. Todos los planes incluyen beneficios como atención preventiva gratuita, y una cobertura de gastos a partir de un límite entre 6,350 a 12,700 dólares. Las diferentes coberturas implican diferentes costos pero la mayoría de las personas pueden comprar un seguro por 100 dólares al mes. Muchas de la críticas sobre el ObamaCareson sobre el gasto que implica al gobierno. “El ObamaCare acarreará deudas y será difícil de mantener” comentó Paola. El pronóstico es que el costo del ObamaCare al 2023 llegará a los 1.36 trillones de dólares. Sin embargo, este plan de salud es projectado a reducir el déficit national a más de 200 billiones de dolares en los próximos diez años, y más de un trillón de dólares en las próximas dos décadas. Las personas que califican para la nueva ley tienen hasta el 31 de marzo del 2014 para comprar un seguro médico. El no cumplir traerá como consecuencia multas que se reflejarán en la declaración fiscal del 2014. “Tengo seguro médico pero pienso que ObamaCare es una buena idea porque promueve y beneficia a muchas familias que no tienen un seguro” opina Flores.

Vuelve abrir el gobierno, ¿dónde queda la reforma? El gobierno ignora una posible reforma por problemas de déficit Por Milena Castillo Los latinos en los Estados Unidos están pagando un alto precio por la indecisión y falta de profesionalismo de los funcionarios del gobierno. Por meses se había estado discutiendo el presupuesto para el año fiscal que estaba programado para comenzar el primero de octubre de este año. A finales de septiembre, los senadores ni siquiera estaban cerca de llegar a un acuerdo y la gente se dió cuenta del evidente cierre del gobierno federal. Durante los dieciséis días que el gobierno estuvo cerrado por esa razón, los temas importantes que conciernen a la comunidad latina se dejaron de lado. Entre estos temas se encuentra el tema de la reforma migratoria que es vital para nuestra comunidad. Millones de familias hispanas dependen de esta reforma para poder reunir a sus seres queridos y ejercer sus derechos de votar, estudiar y conseguir trabajos dignos. Esta reforma migratoria finalmente había empezado a tomar impulso con la reelección del presi-

Y tú, ¿qué piensas? Afecta el problema de presupuesto gubernamental, el paso de la Reforma Inmigratoria?

dente Obama, pero con el cierre del gobierno volvió a pasar a un segundo plano. Para empeorar las cosas, se continuó patru-llando l a s f ro n t e r a s

otros programas importantes para la comunidad hispana también fueron afectados por el cierre. Uno de estos programas fue el


pero se dejaron de procesar aplicaciones para visas y ciudadanía que ya venían con retraso. Muchos

“programa especial de nutrición suplementaria para mujeres embarazadas, infantes y niños,” de cuyos beneficiarios, un 45% son

“Ha afectado por la razon de que el gobierno está más enfocado en resolver otros problemas y no en las cosas migratorias.” AndreaMorales Doceávo Grado

latinos. A partir del primero de noviembre, este programa temporalmente no tendrá fondos para alimentos y cupones debido al cierre. Un programa similar a este que también fue afectado es el de las Estampillas de Alimento que estará enfrentando un recorte presupuestario a comienzos de noviembre. Esto significa que más de 5 millones de latinos recibirán $29 menos cada mes para alimentar a sus familias, un total de $319 por los próximos once meses. En este momento, el panorama POR CINDY MONGE político y la situación económica en los Estados Unidos está pasando por una crisis y hay mucha incertidumbre. Aunque Obama ha indicado

“La gente espera que haya un cambio más pronto ahora que tuvieron tiempo de delegar los problemas.” Karina Gaytan Onceávo Grado

recientemente que ya es tiempo de poner en marcha una reforma migratoria, a muchos latinos les preocupa que este tema vuelva a estancarse debido al periodo de inestabilidad que está atravesando el país. La situacion económica es especialmente preocupante. El desempleo para latinos se mantiene en un 9.4% mientras que en los Estados Unidos el desempleo ha bajado a 7.2%. Desde el 2008, el gobierno ha eliminado 750,000 puestos de trabajo en el sector público. Además, durante el cierre del gobierno, dejaron de otorgar préstamos para pequeños empresarios que quieren abrir sus propios negocios, muchos de los cuales son latinos. Aunque el gobierno ya se haya reabierto, el tema del presupuesto nacional no se ha terminado de resolver y existe la posibilidad que haya un nuevo cierre a principio del 2014. En caso de ocurrir este segundo cierre, tendría un efecto devastador para la comunidad latina y especialmente para los sectores más pobres de la sociedad. -

“Hace el proceso de la reforma migratoria más lejana de resolver.”

Omar Perez Doceávo Grado


7 de noviembre del 2013

La Esquina Latina E2

¡Wepa! Ritmo y mucho sabor latino en la pista

Latin Dance Club representa a Blair en una competencia de baile Por Karen Tituana Wepa! Todos a Bailar! Durante los últimos meses, decenas de apasionados estudiantes bailarines de Blair han ensayado y entrenado continuamente el dominio de los pasos y rutinas con el fin de ganar a lo grande en la competencia de baile latino. Equipos de siete escuelas competirán por los trofeos de la Competencia de Baile Latino de MCPS este año. El evento competitivo que se celebrara este 25 de noviembre, justo un mes después del mes de la herencia hispana, está patrocinado por las escuelas públicas del condado Montgomery. Sin embargo, cada equipo es responsable de crear su propia coreografía y de proporcionar sus propios atuendos. “Me entere acerca de este concurso cuando estaba en octavo grado a través de mi prima quien también participo en el concurso,” conto la estudiante de doceavo grado, Kelly Canales, quien lleva un puesto muy importante en su equipo como asistente y entrenadora de sus compañeros bailarines, “lo que me llevo a querer participar en el concurso es mi pasión por el baile y el hecho de saber que ahora tengo la oportunidad de hacer una presentación se siente increíble. Me encanta bailar. He estado bailando toda mi vida”. Lo interesante es que la mayoría de los participantes tienen muy poca experiencia profesional con el baile. Anthony Leiva, uno de los estudiantes de Blair que participara en la competencia este año, por ejemplo, cuenta que desde muy pequeño el bailaba en casa con sus primos o en las fiestas familiares pero que nunca ha tomado un curso de baile legítimo. Por esa misma razón, mucho de los estudiantes se han visto atraídos hacia la nueva oportunidad que el programa de After School Dance Fund (ASDF) esta brindado a los

chicos, en donde podrán aprender de la formación y técnica del baile para luego competir en un escenario frente a un público. “Este programa nos ha hecho más fuertes como personas y a sentirnos mejor con nosotros mismos. Nos ayuda a deshacernos de la timidez, construir más habilidades en el baile, como también a adaptar nuevas relaciones con personas que nunca hemos conocido. Básicamente es como tener otra familia,” cuenta Kelly muy optimista, “me siento muy orgullosa de mí misma al saber que he llegado muy lejos con solo comenzar un nuevo club en mi escuela. Con tiempo y paciencia, yo sé que todos podemos llegar muy lejos en la vida y alcanzar nuestras metas. Sin embargo no me puedo quedar con todo el crédito. Yo no podría haberlo hecho sin mis compañeros de equipo por lo que cada día les doy las gracias por ayudarme y poner su tiempo y paciencia en este proyecto.” Ricardo Loaiza es el cofundador y director ejecutivo del programa de ASDF, una organización sin fines de lucro que brinda apoyo artístico, técnico y financiero para el establecimiento del programa ASDF. Estos programas de danza trabajan para fortalecer los valores familiares y la herencia hispana, y ayuda a los estudiantes a desarrollar su confianza, promover la excelencia académica, y allanar el camino a la educación



superior. Ricardo trabaja constantemente para ofrecer una experiencia de danza significativa para todas las escuelas del área de Maryland, Washington DC, y Virginia. A través de la ASDF, ha desarrollado un programa que FOTOGRAFIA POR KAREN TITUANA permite a los PRACTICA fotografias de la competencia el año pasado. (ARRIBA) Estudiantes de Blair se esnsayan para la competencia. estudiantes y les permite poder de la danza, y dar a los estudiantes desarrollar su crecimiento personal y educativo. El trabajo la oportunidad de convertirse en miembros de Ricardo refleja su deseo de compartir el sanos y positivos de nuestra sociedad global.

Zumba Party, un filantrópico evento Copa Mundial 2014 causa entusiasmo Día para disfrutar y dar a los más necesitados Por Cindy Monge Zumba! Ritmo, sabor y mucho movimiento Zumba! Ritmo, sabor y mucho movimiento son muy esenciales este día. La Sociedad honoraria de Español está coordinado ‘Zumba Party!’ evento filantrópico que se llevará acabo el doce de Noviembre, con fines de recaudar fondos para la organización International Partners, quienes tienen como causa crear cimientos para impulsar a personas de bajos recursos en el Salvador y otras partes del mundo.

de la comunidad. “ International Partners ayuda niños por todo el mundo teniendo voluntarios que puedan ayudar a las comunidades de escasos recursos.” Varios miembros de dicha sociedad viajaron este verano pasado al Salvador para dar clases de lectura y escritura en inglés y español a niños en pequeños pueblos. El evento tendrá lugar en el Gimnasio pequeño, y la entrada es con una donación de un $1. Te imaginas, que tan solo con un movimiento de caderas y unas cuantas vueltas estés ayudando a muchas personas con bajos recursos? Uniéndote a esta causa puedes hac-


La sociedad honoraria es conocida por crear todo tipo de evento benéfico para organizaciones que ayudan a la comunidad Latina. Cada año los miembros de la sociedad venden dulces durante los días festivos como en la navidad y en el día de San Valentín, para así recaudar fondos que ayuden a la comunidad hispana en el área. Este año la idea fue introducida por la asesora de la Sociedad Honoraria de Español, la Señora González, quien se muestra muy entusiasmada a tan solo días del evento. Andrea Bravo, la presidenta de La sociedad honoraria de español, comenta que el propósito de este club es lograr que los jóvenes sean conscientes de las carencias


una gran diferencia. Aparte de eso, el evento tendrá muchas sorpresa. La instructora de baile es la Señora Yesika Flores, una guatemalteca certificada de zumba y con un ritmo extraordinario estara impartiendo el sabor latino. El evento empezará a las 2:45 pm y se terminará a las 4:00 pm. El que piensa que esto no se va a poner bueno está equivocado, pues el repertorio de canciones es muy extenso. Los ritmos a bailar son: salsa, bachata, cumbia y reggaetón. Te gusta bailar o si quieres aprender uno que otro movimiento latino ven al evento y pasala bien en una tarde llena de música y baile.

Por Ronaldo Sotelo 235 días faltan para la Copa Mundial de Fútbol FIFA Brasil 2014. El torneo más grande y popular del mundo se va a jugar en Brasil desde Junio a Julio del 2014. Hay 32 países que van a disputar el histórico trofeo. De 21 países que ya han calificado para el torneo, ocho son del continente Americano los cuales incluyen a Brasil cual fue clasificado automáticamente como dueño de casa, junto a Argentina, Colombia, Chile, y Ecuador que clasificaron en sudamérica por la Conmebol, Estados Unidos, Costa Rica, y Honduras que clasificaron directamente por la Concacaf. Aun así todavía hay gran posibilidad que haya dos equipos más en el continente americano ya que México va a disputar una repesca contra Nueva Zelanda al igual que Uruguay contra Jordania. Argentina y Brasil son los países sudamericanos con más posibilidad de ganar la copa. Sin embargo, Colombia puede sorprender en el torneo ya que atraviesa por un buen momento futbolístico y puede estar entre los favoritos para ganar la copa. Ningún país de Europa ha ganado la copa mundial cuando se ha disputado en el continente americano en toda la historia de este evento deportivo, pero aún está por verse si España soltara de sus manos este trofeo al enfrentar en batalla a las fieras sudamericanas. Los tambien favoritos del torneo son España ,“la furia roja”, y Brasil, “la verde amárela”. España es el equipo número uno en la tabla oficial de la FIFA, la cual se encarga de calificar a los países para ver cuál es el mejor. Brasil es el favorito número uno ya que va a jugar en su propio patio. Brasil tiene grandes estrellas como Neymar, un jugador que es muy hábil con el balón y hace diferencia en el campo. Argentina también es un favorito porque en sus filas tienen la audacia del capitán Lionel Messi, el cual es considerado por muchos como el mejor jugador del mundo de todos los tiem-

pos. Los equipos de Latinoamérica van a tener confianza pues van a estar en su propio continente. Los equipos de Europa van a pasar un mal rato ya que van a tener un encontronazo con la garra de los equipos lati-


noamericanos. Chile y Costa Rica son dos países que pueden sorprender a sus rivales de turno porque en estas eliminatorias han jugado muy bien y no han perdido ningún partido como dueños de casa. Ecuador y Honduras van a ser dos equipos sorpresa ya que los otros equipos los que van a jugar fuerte y pueden avanzar hasta las finales. “Mi equipo es Nigeria que va a ganar todo!” dice el estudiante Lois Faye muy alborotado. “Estados Unidos va a ganar todo por primera vez en su historia!” dijo Danny Nguyen estudiante de Blair y aficionado del fútbol. La copa mundial es un evento que sucede cada cuatro años. Esto deja a todos los aficionados del fútbol ansiosamente esperando el día que comience el torneo. La Copa Mundial tiene el poder de unir a los pueblos del mundo.En 235 días el público alrededor del mundo estara viendo y echandole porras a sus selecciones con la esperanza que su selección haga un buen papel en esta copa mundial 2014. 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

November 7, 2013

Stepping to a new level The ladies of Blair’s step dancing team strive to be more than just performers. They’re athletes. By Naomi Weintraub BOOM, BOOM, SNAP, CLAP, WOO. The Blair step team stops dancing and stands in militant lines awaiting their coach’s signal. The head captain, Mekaiah Dunn, powerfully chants, “I THINK OUR TIME IS RUNNING OUT.” Impulsively, they immediately start pounding their feet and harmoniously clapping, these girls suddenly become more than just dancers or students, they become warriors. When they begin to dance an electricity of beats and energy pulses off the walls, one can’t help but smile. The step warriors try to have strong, unbreakable facial expressions; but a surrendered giggle reminds you that in fact these are just teenage girls dancing with their friends in a high school classroom.

says Barclay. Step dancing utilizes the body as an instrument off which their dance is based. Rhythms and beats run throughout a performance complimented by strong, abstract movements. Performances usually don’t include musical accompaniment. Steppers double as dancers and percussionists, providing their own music and tempos.

Step as a sport

Stepping is an art form but also borders being claimed an athletic sport. House explains that step needs structure that sports provide. Step competitions can tend to be extremely ambiguous; there are not standard rules or regulations. “We need an umbrella for what is allowed, and for what is accessible,” says House. Step dancers have to be extremely healthy and train extremely hard, Step from its roots many believe they earn the name of athletes. “There is a “Step is a dance with feet, large grey hands, legs, and arms in a spewindow, we cific movement to create specific train just as sounds,” explains Imani House, hard as athhead coach of Howard Univerletes but are sity step team. denied recStep dancing is derived from ognition,” the African foot dance, Gumboot, explains which originated in coalmines of House. Not Africa because drumming was being recbanned by authorities. “Step ognized as dancing in United states grew a sport has out of song and dance rituals many dispracticed by historically African advantages, American fraternities and sofor example, KYRA SEIGER rorities, beginning in the early TEAMWORK These disciplined dancers “when one of 1900s,”according to Step Afrika, study their routines at step team practice. our steppers a professional step dance compagets injured, ny in Washington, D.C. Maima Barclay, Blair there are no guidelines,” explains House. step team sponsor, defined step as being a At Blair, the step team has not yet competed way to connect and converse. “Step is a way against other schools but is hoping for recogof communication between a group of peo- nition from the school for their appearance ple who have united with a common cause,” as a team representing Blair. They practice


DANCE Blair’s step team practices moves for their upcoming competition. Step is a combination of feet, arms, and chants. hard and rehearse three days a week, showing dedication and commitment.

Building the unified performer The Blair’s step team runs through their routine several times until they decide its time to add more to their combination. Dunn flicks her head back to the rest of the team, clicks her hot pink nails and stretches her feet enclosed in heavy, loud athletic sneakers, and asks, “Anybody got a step?” the room lights up. The crowds of girls immediately start gabbing and yakking over their carefully choreographed step sequences. The coach and Blair step team alum, Julissa Rogers, then screams, “Out! Go run!” Almost naturally the girls run out of the classroom and take laps around the halls residing. One of the team’s managers, Kadija Niare explains that they want to teach the girls not only how to step, but how to have manners and respect each other. “They don’t run cause they are punished, but because they need to learn to act their age, and mature,” says Niare. Barclay tells the girls that they are all sisters now and they must support one another. “If one of you misses a practice, you all need to help her to catch up,” she says as she explains the ways that they can help one another. Rogers teaches the girls to address their problems through the step, to let out their anger and emotions in the routine. “Whatever you got going on, let it out in the

step,” says Rogers. Rogers wants to unify the team, being a diverse group of all ages. “One of my goals is to bring them together as a sisterhood, and to work together as a team,” explains Rogers. Each step meeting starts with study hall time, they want to stress to the girls that school is important, enforcing their goals to build the complete performer. “We strive to be responsible, respectable, and reliable, with the ability to achieve excellence,” reads a paper Barclay wrote to highlight the team’s goals. Barclay hopes that the step team will help to bring Blair students together. “The purpose of the team is to create a family within the Blair family, Blair is big, this is a way for people to unite,” explains Barclay.

Electric step

At the end of Blair step’s meeting one girl stands in the center of the classroom, with the rest of the team circling around her. The room goes silent as she beings to perform the step she created. She recited a cheer as she slapped her hips in intricate precise movements, creating a rhythmic ballet. When she finishes the step the rest of the girls cheer and stand up, excited to learn the new routine. Step is a rhythmic ballet as the team stomps and claps in a wave of beats, their movements can not only be seen, but also heard through their electric beats and sounds.

On fresh ice, Blazers are shooting towards bigger goals Blair hockey team looks to build off of previous years of success this season occasions last year. “This year I may make the transition from forward and play goal again,” says Wilson. “It’s exciting, but I’m Junior defenseman Sebastian Rubinstein not sure if I’m ready for it.” skates along center ice as he watches his Although there are roster question marks, teammates for the first time this season. A there is no shortage of players to solve them. group of players move fluidly, comfortable As a club sport, the team is with the metal blades atallowed to be comprised of tached to their feet. Others students from more than nervously skate behind, just Blair. Students from adjusting to the unfamiliar Einstein, Northwood, and bulk of pads on their torsos the Siena School hold imand for some of them, the portant roles on the team. new experience. One such example is WilThe last time Rubinson, a student at Einstein. stein was on the ice with “The multi-school team the Blazers, he had a winworks,” claims Wilson. ning season at his heels, a “It provides a chance for star goaltender between players in schools without the pipes, and a team built the minimum required around the shoulders of its amount of players to form seniors. During his two a team.” Although it has years at Blair he has only these apparent perks, this experienced success. Now, system isn’t only an advanhe has to start from scratch. tage. “It’s difficult some“We have an opportutimes because we don’t see nity to do big things,” says each other as much,” deRubinstein confidently. scribes Rubinstein. “It just “We just have a couple ZEKE WAPNER roadblocks to get through HOCKEY Teammates Kenny Johnson, Javier Lopez and Sebastian Rubinstein pose makes practice that more important.” on the way.” These “roadtogether on Blair’s practice field. Now, the hockey team is facing a rebuilding season. During practice, and blocks” begin with the fact that of the 22-man roster, zero are seniors. White. “After we gain experience we can under Coach Kevin McCabe, is the only time when this large group of students “We have no seniors, which may be tough,” definitely fill in the holes.” admits Rubinstein. New faces litter the Issues with the team’s roster begin with from across the county can learn together. Blazers’ young roster, and to an outside ob- the goaltenders. “We have some questions “[Coach] knows a lot about the game and server it may seem like a team with an obvi- at the goalie position right now,” admits Ru- has great intentions for us,” says Rubinstein. ous lack of experience. Rubinstein and his binstein. This unfilled role formed after star Others echo the same praise. “With a good teammates feel otherwise. goaltender Michel Devynck graduated this coach and a good team we can go far,” says “As sophomores we were leaders and this past year. “Our new goalie will definitely an optimistic White. Expectations are high for a team that has year we simply pick up where we left off,” have his work cut out for him,” says Lopez. says potential assistant captain Javier Lopez. Candidates for the job include junior Tynan played exciting games and built a loyal fan The Blazers have made the playoffs for the Wilson who played in goal on a couple of base. “Our team chemistry will come as the

By Jesse Broad-Cavanagh

past two years in a row and have established a winning team. “We have a solid core team from last year,” says Lopez. “Our freshman can add on to that.” This group of freshman is a big one, holding nine spots on the roster. “We have a big class,” says freshman Miles

season goes, and we will be able to adapt to whatever is thrown at us,” says Lopez. Other’s think the success might take some time. “Once our younger players mature, we will begin to have opportunities to do bigger things,” says Rubinstein. A record of 6-4 last season led to a much anticipated playoff berth and gives the current Blazers something to shoot for. “We’ve been doing well the past couple of seasons,” says Rubinstein. “We all want to eventually improve on that.” For now, Rubinstein and the rest of the Blazers look to continue to build and grow. Improvement can be seen even at this first practice. The juniors continue to set by example and as time goes on a slight rise in confidence is apparent on the freshman. “I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far,” says Rubinstein in regards to the freshman. A once divided practice turns into one of teamwork and energy. “Our current roster looks rad,” says Lopez with a smile. “It’ll be a great season.”

BLAZER SPIRIT As the Blazer hockey team has improved over the past couple of years, so has its fan base. Students and family clad in red clothes fill up most games. “It’s a great atmosphere,” says Rubinstein. “It gives us great motivation to go out there and play.” Fans yell chants such as “Lets go Blair” and erupt from the seats whenever a goal is scored. “It’s fun for us, and it must be fun for them,” says Rubinstein. A loyal fan base is a sure thing for the Blazers, even during this rebuilding phase.

Sports F2


November 7, 2013

Takedown to the mat, triumph for women’s rights from GIRLS page A1 took it to thought,” she notes. After all, she had the kicking practice from years of soccer. “Sports have just been a big impact on my life,” she explains. “And it was unique. I didn’t even know if girls could play football with guys.” Girls are allowed to play on boys’ sports teams when no such team exists for girls under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. A school, the foundation says, can only restrict a girl from joining the team if the coach can objectively prove that her size, strength, and skill would pose a hazardous environment for other players. When she tried out for the wrestling team, junior Elizabeth Pham wasn’t sure if a girl on the mat created a hazardous environment. But when she found out that there were girls at Montgomery County meets, wrestling became a mission. “I wanted to prove that it was not a joke, that I could do it,” Pham says. Coach approved After 2:10, the 110s hallway fills up with enormous biceps and their owners, who shout back and forth about equipment and routines, laughing at jokes to which you never catch the punch line. The temperature quickly rises to over 90 degrees, and B.O. seeps into every air particle. Montenegro was willing to brave the humidity to run agility tests and to bench press. She approached Cory Boatman, the team’s Defensive Line coach, about working out with the boys. “I welcomed the idea,” says Boatman, “because we were in fact in need of a kicker.” Boatman knows that there are plenty of girls who could play football. “There are some female students at Blair who in fact are more athletic than male students,” he says. Boatman’s main concern was Montenegro’s distraction factor for the boys. “The maturity level of the guys isn’t al-

ways ideal, considering you are trying to apply structure to 60 plus individuals,” he explains. But he gave Montenegro the trial run. Coaching the full-nelsona When Pham arrived for wrestling, head coach Steven Banvard was thrilled to see a girl interested in the sport. “Girls would always poke their heads in, and we’d say, ‘hey, want to wrestle?’” he says. But Elizabeth was the first girl to stay the entire season. “Having a girl brings a new dynamic,” he adds. But with a new dynamic comes a new challenge. Banvard admits that coaching Pham required a learning curve. “I had zero experience coaching a girl,” he notes, “so I was hesitant at the beginning of the season.” Banvard notes he is not alone. “Probably ten MCPS teams have one girl each,” estimates Banvard. Often, Pham’s initial obstacles boiled down to minor annoyances, like her coaches forgetting to unlock the girl’s locker room, or long waits while the other wrestlers weighed in. “I’d have to wait outside the locker room for all the guys to weigh in because they were naked,” Pham laughs. One for the team It’s clear that girls can get over the initial learning curve and find an answer to the coaching question. Being accepted as a teammate, though, is another matter. At Montenegro’s first practice, Boatman reminded his team to treat her with respect. “I made sure the guys knew that she was not to be treated any differently than any of the players,” he says. When Montenegro appeared, says co-captain and senior Darron Cumberbatch, he was shocked. “I didn’t believe she wanted to play,” he explains. Montenegro recalls the boys didn’t


know what to think. “They seemed like, ’How is she going to handle this?’” she laughs. From 3:30 to 5:30, Montenegro was the only girl among boys. Even with the coach’s warning, Kalala grins, having a girl doing the drills initially changed the team’s dynamic. “It was a bit distracting, you know having a girl in the room,” he trails off, laughing. There was also fear for Montenegro’s safety. “They’d say, ‘I don’t want you to get hurt, but, I mean, it’s up to you,’” she smiles. “And it was.” The boys voiced the same concerns as many football players across the country, notes Boatman, who are torn between giving girls equal opportunities on the field and preventing injuries. “It’s the physical side to the game that usually is the focal point of much debate about women in the sport,” he explains. Even the Women’s Sports Foundation cautions against allowing girls and boys to play together. “After puberty, it is unfair for boys to compete against girls on equal terms because of the physiological advantages in boys,” the foundation reports. However, Montenegro quickly proved her grit to the team. “I saw that she wasn’t just fooling around. She was serious,” says Cumberbatch. Boatman agrees, noting he saw Montenegro as a promising kicker. “She had every opportunity to be a part of the program,” he notes. Treated equally Meanwhile, Pham had to prove to the wrestling team that she wasn’t just there to find a boyfriend. “It started off kind of in a flirtatious way,” she laughs. “When one of the guys picked me to wrestle, they would joke ‘oh he would pick her.’” Sophomore Muhammad Humza nearly always wrestled Pham because they were both in the 106-pound weight class. “In the beginning, it was really awkward,” Humza says quietly, letting half his face flash a grin. Pham agrees, on the verge of laughter. “I have to wear a shirt under my singlet. And it’s really hard not to grab it.” She hesitates, “hands are in places where they’re not supposed to be.” Sometimes, she heard comments that didn’t support women’s equality. “’Oh, it’s because you’re a girl,’” she remembers them joking, “or ‘oh even she could do it’ blah blah blah.” Humza recalls a few jokes about having Elizabeth on the team. “There were

times when she’d beat me. And we would laugh, like, ‘Ooh, you got beat by a girl.’” Pham did not mind. By then, she was already addicted to wrestling. “Part of that was who was coaching,” she adds. “And my teammates were really cool, funny guys.” On some occasions, Pham even let herself slip into thinking she wasn’t equal as a player. “When I’m wrestling with a guy and I lose, my excuse is like, ‘I’m a girl,’” she smiles, half-shrugging. The team, in turn, enjoyed Pham. “She was a hard worker, and she had pretty good technique,” says junior Marcus Forrester. Humza even forgot that he was wrestling a girl. “In a match,” he leans forward, “you go to destroy the opponent. It doesn’t matter what gender they are.” Out of commission

Ultimately, it wasn’t discrimination or teasing that froze Montenegro’s football career. “My hip. I had problems with it,” she cringes. “My doctor wouldn’t allow me to do that kind of kicking anymore.” Today, with her hip mending, Montenegro still wants the kicker opportunity. “Over the summer,” she recalls, “I’d go out with my dad on the field and practice with the football.” Pham also doesn’t think she’ll return to wrestling in winter. She joined the cheer squad, which continues practices through the wrestling season. “I’ll still keep in touch with the wrestling coach, and I’ll come to some practices,” she says hopefully. “I loved the experience, so I want to continue.” Other girls are following Pham’s lead. Junior Carmen Dominguez knows a girl from Einsteinwho enjoyed wrestling, so she too wants to try it. “I want to see if I’m good at it,” she says. Pham and Montenegro discovered the true obstacle that keeps girls off the playing field: the initial adjustment hump. Learning the game, the dynamics of the team, and most importantly, how to get the teammates to ignore the extra X chromosome. Once a girl has mastered these three, the rest is easy as a touchdown. Montenegro is in the stands this Friday night, celebrating her team in red. Pham’s in red too, but she’s traded the sweaty T-shirt and singlet for a crisp varsity cheer uniform. Both could say they’ve been there, done that. Both could also say they wish they were there, wish they could do that. The teams are waiting for them.

Washington Redskins aim to keep fans’ hope alive By Grace Woodward After a 31-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in week 6, tensions began to build in the Washington Redskins’ clubhouse. The frustration in the players’ body language was obvious each time critical plays were blown. Players’ comments began pinpointing who they felt was responsible for the loss, and the blame game started to pick up. Almost everyone has been wondering about Robert Griffin III, who, during his spectacular rookie season, tore his ACL. Back on the field this season, Griffin has had impressive moments, but, he isn’t back to where the Redskins want him to be. Griffin’s running game showed improvement earlier this season against the Chicago Bears when he rushed for a season-high 84 yards, reminding everyone just how devastating he can be with his legs. However, in the past two games Griffin’s rushed for only 24 yards. Although Griffin hasn’t been as quick or explosive as last season, he’s still able to cause problems for the opposing defense. Griffin’s struggles with his accuracy and timing, though, have been crippling his play. He’s thrown nine interceptions in eight games, compared to only five in all of last season’s games. Griffin’s been passing without planting off his back foot and hesitating to reset in the pocket, which has resulted in him throwing more interceptions. His communication with wide receiver Pierre Garçon, had also been off, and the wideout hadn’t tried to hide it. Garçon had been seen throwing his hands up in frustration after miscues. However, in week 9 against the San

Diego Chargers, Garçon had one of the best games of his career, catching 7 passes for 172 yards, 26 more than his previous career best. Garçon made Griffin look better throughout the game, catching passes that weren’t precise. Griffin’s rushing game has shown its strength, and the Redskins hope his passing game will soon follow. A disappointment for Washington so far this season has been the play of their special teams, units that are on the field during kicking plays. Searching for someone to hold responsible, fans NFL Championships have had no won by the Redskins problem turning the blame onto first-year special teams coach Keith Burns. Special teams players, such as tight end Niles Paul, linebacker Bryan Kehl and fullback Darrel Young have conveyed embarrassment over the difficulties they have had: a 90-yard kickoff return, an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown, a missed field goal attempt and numerous penalties. Paul said, “We just can’t be this bad on special teams.” Young, however, stepped up his game in week 9 with two goal-line touchdowns and a third touchdown for a Redskins win in overtime. The Redskins’ defense has also left some-

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thing to be desired this season. The first step the Redskins should take to improve is to get better defensively. Last season, the New Orleans Saints defense allowed the most yards in NFL’s history and the Redskins are on the same path. Currently, the Redskins’ pass defense is 28th in the NFL at 282.1 yards per game while their rush defense isn’t much better at 22nd with 116.6 yards per game. The defense started to turn around in week 6. The Redskins limited the Cowboys to just 213 total yards of offense. Triumphing over early struggles against the run, they kept Dallas to 48 yards on 19 carries. Overall, Washington’s tackling improved and they were able to hinder Tony Romo, who completed only 18 DESIREE ALEIBAR of 30 passes for 170 yards, few in comparison to the week before in which he passed 500 yards. DeAngelo Hall played a great game, restricting Dez Bryant to five catches for 36 yards and no touchdowns. Linebacker Perry Riley Jr. led the charge, recording five tackles, three hits on the quarterback, and a sack. Although Washington’s defense allowed three touchdowns, two of the Cowboy drives started in the Redskins’ Red Zone. Defense also stepped it up in

week 9, stopping a critical San Diego drive at the end of the game. The defense provides a glimmer of hope for the team and their fans as Washington attempts to come back this season. However, Washington’s defensive game still has room to improve. After playing well for the first two and a half quarters against the Denver Broncos in week 8, the team’s defense started heading downhill as the Broncos offense began to step up, leading to Denver’s 38-0 finishing flurry and a 21-45 loss for the Redskins. Currently, Washington’s record is 3-5. Last season, facing a record of 3-6 after a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan delivered a speech that many viewed as his resignation of the season. Despite that perception, the Redskins rallied to win their last seven games of the regular season. Their final record of 10-6 gave the Redskins their first NFC East title in over a decade. The team was on their way to beating the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round of the playoffs when Griffin tore his ACL. Last year’s comeback leaves hope for the team and its fans this season. Keeping that hope alive is Griffin’s attitude of perseverance. “There’s no quit in this team, period,” Griffin said. “No matter what your record says, you have to go out there and put your best foot forward every game. And if you’re not out there to win, then don’t come on the field.” On Thursday, fans hope for another Redskins victory in Minnesota against the Vikings.

F3 Sports


November 7, 2013

Playoffs update: Blazers bring season to a close Fall sports teams take on rivals in the beginning rounds of playoffs Driving toward success

By Emily Daly


oys’ Varsity Soccer (10-2) succumbed to Walter Johnson in the second round of the playoffs by a score of 3-2. The team did not have to play in the first round because their high ranking gave them a bye, despite an injury-plagued season. Star players such as senior captains Donald Benamna and Alex Epstein were injured and out for a fair amount of the season. Sophomore goalie Matt Guerrera explained that these injuries affected team

gled during the beginning of the season, but came together as a single unit as the season progressed. Senior Hallie Richie credits the slow start to the team trying to rebuild the chemistry that they had in previous seasons. “I think it took us seniors a while to realize that we were the ones who needed to lead this team in big games like playoffs and against Blake and Sherwood. It was just a matter of getting to know everyone on the team and the way they play,” she said. Once the team began to work as cohesive unit they shut out their last seven opponents. Going into the playoffs the team had a lot of confidence, and knew that they could rely on their twelve strong seniors to lead the team. Coach Robert Gibb was optimistic after the girls won in the first round. “We have really improved, we are as ready as we can be for the future,” he said. Senior Delia Trimble agreed that the


BOYS’ SOCCER Donald Benamna races defenders to the ball at home.

psyche, but they were still able to execute their goals effectively. “Those injuries definitely affected the team confidence wise, but I don’t think it changed how we performed... so many other people stepped up,” he said. Seniors Keenthy Yeboah and Ibrahima Kouyate took charge of the offense while seniors Wako Wako and Ruben Martinez ran the defense. Despite setbacks the team had an incredible season and The Gazette ranked them number one in the county. This marks the third straight year that Walter Johnson has knocked Blair soccer out of the playoffs, further strengthening their rivalry. They faced WJ earlier this season in September, however, and won 1-0, which increased their confidence coming into their first playoff game. The team generally works well together and the members are friends on and off the field. Benamna agreed that the team had great chemistry. “We are not only teammates, we are more than that; we’re family. We support each other all the time,” he said. In the playoff game, however, the team did not connect effectively. “We just lost communication,” Yeboah said. The team started off strong when Kouyate scored for the Blazers in the first two minutes, which was the only score of the half. However, the team did not play up to their lofty expectations during the rest of the game, as Walter Johnson continually put pressure on the Blair defense. Head Coach John Haigh said that this pressure made it hard for the Blair offense to get into a rhythm. “We just made errors that we can’t make in a playoff game,” Haigh said. This includes lapses in defense and a crushing offsides call that nullified a goal. Senior Komlan Kouhiko agreed that the Blazers lost steam in the second half. “We were fighting, but in the second half we took the foot off the pedal,” he said. The team had a strong regular season, and looks forward to facing WJ next season. “We want to beat them at WJ and play to our maximum ability to finally end the streak,” said junior Javier Lopez.


irls’ Varsity Soccer (9-7) lost to Whitman in the second round of the playoffs, 3-0. In the first half of the season the team was 2-6, but then proceeded to win seven straight games including the first round of playoffs when they beat Kennedy 5-0. The team initially strug-


REPRESENTING FAR AND WIDE Blair’s varsity golf team poses with Principal Renay Johnson at the Hampshire Greens Golf Course. Despite failing to win the players felt they had tried their hardest. “Despite the fact that we had a losing season, I feel that we played really well together, we all love and support each other, and really had fun this season,” senior captain Susannah Merrill said. The loss of the seniors may leave a hole in the starting lineup, but Thurman is confident that the rest of the girls will


GIRLS’ SOCCER Senior Maggie McClain faces off an opponent at Blair. team worked hard, and is hopeful that the underclassmen and juniors will take the team further next year. “Everyone really needs to step it up and decide the direction the team is going in since we’re losing twelve seniors. But I’m confident they can do it,” Trimble said. Junior Sasha Grossman is nervous for next season, but anticipates that the team will be able to come together. “We’re losing our whole back line who held us together really well, and losing them is going to have a huge impact on us. We are going to have to work extremely hard to get places next year and us juniors have to step it up,” she said.


irls’ Varsity Field Hockey (5-7) was defeated by Bethesda Chevy Chase in the first round of the playoffs 3-0 at BCC. Every two years the county realigns regions based on different schools populations. This year Blair field hockey got put into what head Coach Candace Thurman described as a “much harder” division. It included schools that have traditionally been very good at field hockey such as BCC, Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman, Winston Churchill and Wootton. This schedule was much more difficult than in previous seasons, and there were only a few games that Thurman said the team “had room to breathe” in. This increased difficulty meant that the team had to step up and increase its abilities and intensity in order to be competitive in many of their games. “Our team was stronger but our record was weaker,” Thurman explained. About a quarter of the way through the season the team faced BCC, which has traditionally been an impressive team. During that game the team really came out and put everything they had into it, and won. Senior goalie Ruby Taylor saved all fourteen shots, allowing the girls to beat BCC 1-0. Going into their first playoff game this increased their confidence, but they knew it would be difficult to beat the team again. “It’s really hard to beat a good team like that twice,” Thurman said.


FIELD HOCKEY Junior Sammy Wichansky drives down the field against BCC. be able to improve quickly. “We’ve already shown so much improvement. It’s hard to rebuild so we’ll have to work a lot in the offseason,” she said.


he Varsity Golf Team (5-13) played in Districts, and senior captain Victor Adamson went on to the state competition. Districts includes golfers from public high schools all over Montgomery County. The seven members of the Blair golf team played at Districts, which was an 18 hole match, twice as long as the six other matches the team played during the regular season. Three schools compete against each other in each match, and winners are decided by whichever team has the lowest combined score. The team was comprised of five boys and two girls, with half the team returning. Despite the team’s general lack of experience they were able to stay in their middle division. Golfers with the lowest scores at Districts could qualify for only the Invitational tournament or the Invitational and States. Entire teams can also qualify for either tournament by getting a combined score lower than a predetermined number. Adamson and junior Cherie Carter both qualified for the Invitational, and Adamson qualified for States as well. Coach Paul Craft was impressed with his team’s perseverance this season and performance at the Districts match. “I think that the team had great effort, they played really hard, and they did their best,” he said.

The Invitational tournament included both private and public schools, where the boys started on the front nine and the girls started on the back nine, yet everyone played all eighteen holes. Carter said that the team did not perform as well as hoped for at either Districts or the Invitational, but is anticipating a good season next year. “I hope we have more team practices per week so we can get better and have more people go to States next year,” she said. The State tournament includes all golfers who qualified at the district tournaments throughout Maryland. The tournament lasts three days but golfers only play for two days. The tournament has a shot gun start meaning that everyone starts at the same time from different holes. Adamson said that the sheer amount of players made the match move at in incredibly slow pace, with the first day taking seven hours. The forty percent of golfers with the lowest scores from the first day come back to play again on the second day. Adamson made it to day two with a score of 82, according to Craft. Adamson shot an 83 on the second day, which is 12 over par of the golf course, which Adamson was disappointed with. The lowest he has ever shot on the course is a 67, which is sixteen shots lower than what he shot at States. Although Adamson did not place, he is happy that he went to States and made it to the second day. “I treated it like it was a normal round. I just had some fun,” he said.

insideSPORTS Blair hockey see page F1

The puck is back in action: Blair Hockey shoots toward bigger goals.

Redskins on the horizon see page F2

A look at the Redskins’ plans to recover after their rocky start this season.


November 2013 - Silver Chips Print  

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

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