The Merionite December 23, 2008
The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929
LMSDtv to broadcast students “Around LM” Hana Rouse
LM students draft first honor code
Class of 2010
Over winter break LMSDtv will resume broadcasting student produced programming over the district television channel. Instead of offering video announcements as LMSDtv has done in the past, the group will now televise a variety of different shows featuring news and events related to LM and the school community. The broadcasts will present multiple segments with various themes. The segment, “It’s what I do,” describes the jobs and responsibilities of LM employees, and the pilot episode illustrates the work of LM principal Sean Hughes. “My Eyes” highlights life from the view of an LM student. LMSDtv also plans to broadcast Boys Basketball and Lacrosse games and possibly a game show. “We will be broadcasting news about what is happening in the Lower Merion Township and School District,” said LMSDtv president Tali Berger. “We also hope to broadcast news about Philadelphia and events happening in Philadelphia, and also some world news.” LMSDtv used to focus on recording video announcements when these broadcasts were made during homeroom each day. Last year LMSDtv attempted to adapt to the new schedule by showing announcements at the beginning of the 76-minute second block. However, many classrooms were without access to a projector or Ethernet. Similar problems with student access exist this year as well. In order to ensure that everyone hears the daily announcements, the decision was made to read them over the PA system. The new LMSDtv segments will not replace the daily PA system announcements, but the news show, which has a working title of “Around LM,” will feature the same lead anchors: Jericho Sav and Isaac Smith. Teachers will not be required to show LMSDtv programming, but the club hopes to schedule certain broadcasts during the lunch periods so that students will be able to watch them. “There are plans in the works to mount televisions and set top boxes in the cafeteria for students to watch the shows,” said LMSDtv teacher sponsor Scott Seibert. Once broadcasts resume, the LMSD community will be able to watch the programming on the district television channel, Comcast channel 6, or through the LMSD website.
Religion and Spirituality at LM See pages 11-17 Graphic by Sam Blum/Staff
Class of 2010
Administrators are currently in the process of creating LM’s first honor code, an official document establishing a pledge for both academic honesty and a higher moral standard. The committee authoring this new honor code will integrate student ideas into existing policies. Administrators hope that if students are involved in the creation of the document, they will enforce its guidelines and bolster its effectiveness. “The students who write the honor code help their [peers] buy into it, and then they are the ones responsible for enforcing it,” said ninth grade assistant principal Marcy Hockfield, who first proposed the creation of an honor code. “Without student ownership, it is just adults imposing more rules on students.” Hockfield first approached student government about the code in September. “Many of us have felt for years that a school like LM should have an honor code,” said Hockfield, who reports that she is very happy with the progress thus far. The committee of students and staff in charge of creating the code meets weekly. Members have reviewed honor codes from several other schools and colleges in order to compile a list of qualities that fit the unique LM atmosphere. However, this lengthy process is still in its “infancy stages,” according to Hockfield. Student Government President John Lundy, who has contributed to the creation of this document, has supported the addition of a clause regarding theft. “It’s unacceptable that students cannot feel comfortable leaving their book bags somewhere unattended in one of the most prestigious schools in
See Honor Code, page 3
Final deadline for redistricting plan approaches Molly Rowe
Class of 2011
The latest redistricting plan, proposed to the Board of School Directors on November 24, allows students living within one mile radius “walk zones” surrounding both LM and Harriton to choose which high school they wish to attend. The Board encourages parents and students to express their concerns regarding “Plan Three” by allotting time during meetings for public comment. The third draft of the plan will be released on Monday, January 12, and will include suggestions from the community. Redistricting Plan Three was established with the intention of following the current “feeder patterns” of six elementary schools into the two middle schools. Each middle school will lead exclusively into one high school, with the exception of students living in the walk zones, to promote peer continuity. While the walk zones have been reduced in size to limit high school populations to 1,250 students each, many whom live just outside of this designated area oppose the idea of attending a far away school. Some argue that walking to school in the morning energizes students, and others believe that students should have the opportunity to attend a neighborhood high school. Critics of the plan fear that the relatively small walk-
ing zones established under the third redistricting draft may force students living within walking distance of LM or Harriton to be bussed to a further high school to maintain size and diversity. Parents of students living in the option areas believe that the small size of walk zones will encourage their children to choose a school according to where their friends attend. “My kids have been very happy at Welsh Valley, and although my strong preference is that they will be able to go to Lower Merion, since we live so close and they can walk there. I realize that a lot of their friends will go to Harriton, which may influence their decision,” said District parent Stephanie Levine. District administrators argue that enrollment dictates the walk zone, not the other way around. The current plan follows the requirements that the walk zone is within one mile of a secondary school, and three fourths of a mile from an elementary school. “There is no requirement that a student be assigned to a school because they live within that school’s walk zone,” stated the District website. “Once those attendance areas are determined for a particular school, students assigned to that school who live within a certain
Happy Holidays from The Merionite!
See Redistricting, page 4
Things to do over winter break See A&E, page 19
Graphic by AJ Schiffrin
See Features, page 19
December 23, 2008
Police respond to LM drug activity Samantha Hershman
Class of 2011 Work continues on the new wing of LMHS as the construction progresses through the winter. During the month of December, construction workers finished building the new basement, main gym, and locker rooms. Most of the work consisted of installing foundational walls and footers, or concrete walls installed in the ground to support the walls of the buildings. Once the basement walls were completed, other tasks could commence. Some of these jobs included installing heating equipment (boilers), cooling equipment (chillers), and electrical equipment (switchgear) in the basement. Above the basement level, much of the construction focused on the walls of the main gym. The placement of structural steel in the gym/ basement area started and continues with the help of the crane that was brought into the site in the last month. Along
Photo by Esther Hoffman/Staff
with the steel walls, the masonry walls of the main gym were completed, which led to the installation of roof joists and roof decking, or framework and structural supports for the roof. Now that construction is almost finished in the basement and under way in the main gym and locker rooms, work is set to begin on the classroom wing of the new high school. The construction will take place in the area where the Ardmore Annex once stood, which was cleared two months ago. The success of November’s construction directly enabled many new plans for December. The completion of the basement’s construction allowed construction workers to fully enclose the basement. As more structural steel is installed, new areas of construction will be built such as the walls of the kitchen and the loading dock area above the basement. Although footer and foundation walls are still being installed in certain places, construction
is now moving towards building block walls, floor decks, and roof decks. There are no new areas open to students yet, and students and staff continue to notice the lack of open space. “I believe the biggest burden of the impact of this construction is felt by the school community,” said head of the custodial staff Jim Perri. As the construction moves into the next month, winter brings new obstacles to the site. Cold weather slows down concrete pouring and transporting dirt, but the overall construction schedule anticipates these delays Holidays also affect the progress of work since workers are given time off work during Christmas and New Years Day, as well as during other holidays throughout the year. Look for next month’s construction update in the Merionite to read more about the upcoming plans and progress on the road to a new Lower Merion High School.
Class of 2009
Recent instances involving LM students and the possession of narcotics have increased police activity on school grounds. “Unfortunately we have had students violate school policy by possessing certain banned substances, and when this occurs we must follow the proper procedure,” said 12th Grade Assistant Principal Wagner Marseille. “This is why students have noticed the presence of police in the building.” The student arrests took place in various parts of the building from late November into early December. “I wasn’t scared—I was just wondering what happened,” said senior Emily King. “It was crazy. When I walked out of history class, I heard that this kid was busted for drugs and was escorted out of the building in handcuffs by the police. We were like ‘What’s going on?’ It was just weird.” Drug possession is considered a level four violation and requires the highest level of disciplinary action as stated in the official LMHS handbook signed by all students. It is on the same level as participating in physical fights and the possession of weapons or drug paraphernalia. “If the students make bad decisions, we follow protocol and enforce school policy,” said 10th Assistant Principal Scott Kilpatrick. “The administration is fair and consistent with all students.” The recent influx in LM police activity may lead administrators to find new ways to promote good decision-making. “I’m optimistic that we have reached the peak in that type of behavior,” said Marseille. “The superintendant, Mr. Hughes, and the administrative staff understand that discipline is not enough. Students won’t grow from [an out of school suspension]—we need to educate all students.” While the arrests occurred only days apart, there is no known association between the two instances. “We have to [encourage] our student body to make better decisions and follow the code of conduct,” said Kilpatrick. “We’re all going to make mistakes in life, but there are appropriate and inappropriate mistakes.” Some students doubt the helpfulness of educating students through additional programs. “It’s a lost cause because we already have the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, and we learn [about decision making] in health class, but obviously people will still act however they want according to their peers and lifestyles at home,” said senior Katrin Weitzmann. “Another program won’t help anybody since no one really listens to the other programs.” Since the arrests, students involved with the police have returned to school and will be provided support services. “We understand that this is high school and people make mistakes, and there will be consequences [for those choices],” said Marseille. “Hopefully students will make better decisions in the future.”
LM students can you feel the spirit of giving L. Bruss/S. Barsade
Class of 2010
This month the Hero Club at LM organized a food drive to help those in need. While the Hero Club has coordinated annual food drives in the past, this year their drive was just one part of a District wide food drive. Hero Club collected cans and boxed foods that will be donated to Philabundance. “There is a great need throughout our community and surrounding area of families who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Hero Club sponsor Tom Reed. The joint effort throughout the District to raise money was encouraged through friendly competition. “The two LMSD schools that collect the most cans/food items during their drive will get to send a group of students out on a half day of service- likely volunteering at the Philabundance Food Bank or another local food cupboard,” said LMSD Community Service Liaison Jennifer Milani. “Since it’s for a good cause I think it’s a good idea,” said junior Devi Jadeja. “I definitely plan on bringing in cans.” Students at other the other LM District schools are also excited to participate in the food drive. “A lot of people brought in cans and I am happy we are helping a good cause,” said BC seventh grader Jordy Schnarr. Philabundance was founded in 1984 and has served over 60 million meals since then. Philabundance is the largest hunger relief agency in the Philadelphia area and will serve Photo by Esther Hoffman/Staff over 130,000 families this winter. Unfortunately Philabundance is lacking in donations and Since the beginning of December students have been bringing in canned and boxed goods food banks are at only 40% capacity. to donate to those in need. Students have been able to give their donations to their advi“We are in desperate need of food drives,” said Philabundance president Bill Clark. sor or drop them in collection boxes (pictured above) in front of the main office.
December 23, 2008
The Merionite Administration New honor code prohibits academic dishonesty reviews From Honor Code, page 1 academic advisory policy Kira Goldner
Class of 2010
This year the administration instituted a new academic recovery (AR) schedule that builds in a 25 minute period at the end of each day. Although the administration has threatened to remove AR, and subsequently increase class time, the administration currently does not plan on making any changes. Student Government, however, insists that the adminisration will actually remove AR if student sign-ups do not increase. “The program is certainly more successful than last year in that the website has fewer problems and nearly all freshman and sophomores are signing up and using the time wisely,” said 9th Grade Assistant Principal Marcy Hockfield. “The juniors and seniors have not been as compliant and this is something that we are currently addressing at an administrative level.” Some believe if the sign up protocol was restructured, more students would sign up forAR. “Administrators need to know where we are for safety and liability reasons,” said senior Aaron Goldberg-Leopold. “But if we could sign up for two full weeks or even a month at a time, more people would sign up more of the time.” Seniors currently have the option of signing up under Assistant Principal Wagner Marseille, then signing out of school in the office even if they do not have a free the period before, provided that they are in good academic standing. Junior Stephen Kent believes that all students with campus privilege should enjoy that same right of leaving school early if they have high enough grades. “The program will be reviewed again at the end of this year, but major changes are unlikely while the high schools are being constructed” said 11th Grade Principal Doug Arnold. AR not only provides time for students to meet with teachers, make up missed work, and complete assignments, but it is also used for music rehearsals and clubs. “It would take a substantial commitment and be an inconvenience for everyone to stay after school one or more days for Harmony Explosion (a barbershop quartet),” said junior David Zucker. “It’s nice to [have Academic] at least three times per week, and not have anything after school.” AR provides time for National Honor Society (NHS) tutors to easily meet with other students. “NHS will be greatly affected by any changes to the recovery period because that is when the tutors are required to tutor the tutees,” said NHS Co-President Joe Kozak. Some claim that AR does not provide enough time to make up tests. Junior Stephen Kent, along with others, hopes to adjust the current schedule by adding five to ten minutes to AR to allow make up tests. Despite varying opinions, the current form of AR will be sustained for at least the remainder of the school year.
Photo by Liz Jacobs/Staff
Pennsylvania,” said Lundy. He hopes that by including the topic of stealing in the code, students will hold themselves to a higher moral standard. Cheating will also be addressed in the new code. The document will provide specific definitions as to what constitutes cheating, and will also state the punishments for this offense. Students suspected of cheating will have the opportunity to defend themselves in front of a student review board. If the student refrains from future offenses, their disciplinary record may be expunged. “Cheating is a problem I’ve been noticing since freshman year,” said junior Doug Blum. This new policy recognizes the problems caused by stealing and cheating, and holds students responsible for their actions while still giving them an opportunity to improve themselves. “The students [who] walk our halls are the ones who have the educational opportunity to lead tomorrow’s society. They should act like it,” said Lundy. While many students are excited about the honor code, some believe this problem should have been confronted earlier. “I think it’s sad that this code won’t be put into action until I’m a senior,” said Blum. “Kids in my grade are going to miss out on what hopefully will be a big change for this school.” “I think this honor code will make students second-guess themselves before they do the wrong thing,” said junior Nora Lashner. “I just hope students take it seriously and use it to its full potential.”
NEWS IN BRIEF Freshmen class elects officers
This December, campaign posters adorned the hallways of LM as freshmen chanted slogans such as “Hop on the Kane Train” and “Nico Lake in ‘08” during the weeks of the freshman class election. Now the freshman class has a new set of officers: President Danny Kane, Vice President Jesse McCarthy, Secretary Patrick Scott, and Treasurer Jeremy Comer. “We plan to give other freshmen a say in how our class is run,” said Kane. “We plan on putting an iNote on the class eboard so we can get ideas for the activities and fundraisers we run.” The officers encourage suggestions from their class, and have already come up with a plethora of fundraising ideas. While the standard bake sale and t-shirt design contest have already been considered, Comer has some additional ideas for fundraising. “Plans include sponsoring a certain restaurant (e.g. Peace A Pizza) in exchange for a portion of the proceeds during midterms,” said Comer. “Other ideas include allowing students to auction off their own artwork and a pass, punt, kick competition once the spring comes around.” Scott intends to organize fundraisers such as donation containers to raise money for the senior prom. “I hope the high school experience [my class] has will make them better people for the rest of their lives,” said Scott. Teachers Lisa Murphy and Kate O’Conor sponsor the class of 2012 and plan to keep their involvement at a minimum. “[We] will make sure our officers get the help they need and that what they plan is safe and feasible,” said O’Conor. “But the officers will be making the decisions.” So far the class of 2012 seems content with their officers. “I am very excited to see what our new officers will bring to the class,” said freshman Anna O’Neill. “They are all experienced and great leaders. The upcoming year for freshmen will be progressive and I am certain the officers will fulfill their goals.”
--Sivahn Barsade, ‘10
Photo by Esther Hoffman/Staff
The Honor Code will not only establish academic integrity, but will also attempt to prevent theft and dishonesty.
Prospective college students record videos to supplement applications J. Ma/H. Rouse
Class of 2010 LMSD has partnered with CollegeSupplement.com to provide students access to multimedia resources that will help college-bound students in their exploration of schools. This program will provide disadvantaged students with more equalized opportunities when applying to colleges by allowing students, who would otherwise not have been able to visit the campus in person, to submit interviews via the computer. “Lower Merion School District is piloting the CollegeSupplement.com program at both of its high schools as a way for students to reach out to college admission offices through an alternative, tech-based method,” said Bruce Barner, Supervisor of Guidance Services for Lower Merion High School in a LMSD News Release. “Some students may not have the means to visit a college because of distance or personal circumstance, but want to augment their high school transcript and application and to provide additional positive personal credentials in a very competitive process.” CollegeSupplement.com allows such students to do so. Through this website, a student outlines his or her personal qualifications for a college through videos to supplement an application. Admissions officers view the clips, giving them a more complete understanding of the prospective student. The personal interview has always been available to students with the financial means to visit a college or schedule. Now students without such opportunities are able to express and justify their interest in a particular college. “The video is like a snapshot of the student,” said guidance counselor Barbara Serratore. “It gives a face to the name.” This year LM is offering the program to a select number of students as part of a free trial offered by CollegeSupplement.com. LM has yet to decide if they will extend the program or continue to offer it in the future. “We asked ten low-income students to participate in this program, and seven agreed,” said guidance counselor Natalie Kail. These students will record, edit, and upload two-minute videos to the website. When the students apply to college, a passcode for their video will be sent with their application. Kail, however, cautions that this program should not replace in-person college interviews. “You should always visit a college if you have decided to apply to it,” said Kail. “Talking with a person very different from talking to a screen.”
Students donate children’s books to South African hospital
Exchange program student Jackie Edelman (class of 2008) has been volunteering in a South African daycare center and hospital. She spends her time reading to children who suffer from lethal diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. Since the hospital has few books, Edelman contacted LM principal Sean Hughes to request that the school collects gently used children’s books. Hughes worked in accordance with junior Elizabeth Bruss to raise awareness of the project by asking students and faculty to drop off books in the main office. More than ten boxes of books were collected, weighing in at approximately 275 pounds. “I think Jackie’s project was amazing,” said Bruss, who received book donations by asking members of her church for additional support. “Just the fact that she was able to come back to school, ask for books, and really collect them is great.” The books were then shipped to the hospital in South Africa on December 15. Any books donated following this date were given to local children in need.
--Samantha Hershman, ‘09
LM alumnus to step down as president and CEO of Philadelphia Orchestra
James Undercoffler, a LM graduate from the Class of 1963, will step down from his position as president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra in July of next year. “It’s been a wonderful two years,” said Undercoffler in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s been a thrill working with the greatest orchestra in the world. I have sure learned a lot.” After his contract expires, Undercoffler plans to leave the Orchestra, but will remain in the Philadelphia area and work on projects like art education. Undercoffler, who has been with the Orchestra since 2006, announced his resignation in September. During his tenure he helped with the Orchestra’s return to Longwood Gardens, supported modifications to a seat-selling policy, facilitated the Orchestra transition between two directors, hired a new artistic administrator, and planed renovations on Verizon Hall to fix its inadequate acoustics. Undercoffler is a former horn player and served as dean of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY until 2006.
--Hana Rouse, ‘10
December 23, 2008
The Merionite Harriton paper exposes student Adderall use Hana Rouse
After the article’s publication, letters were sent home to LM and Harriton parents informing them about the issue. The stance taken by the faculty in these letters acknowlThe November 7 issue of the Harriton Banner, Harri- edges the stress students are put under, but urges that this ton’s student newspaper, included an article regarding the pressure does “not excuse the illicit use of prescription prevalence of Adderall abuse among their student body, drugs.” which caused alarm at LM and Harriton. Administrators at “The article reveals the intense pressure students feel both schools have responded to this issue and are attempt- to achieve, to successfully navigate increasingly busy and ing to increase student awareness of the adverse affects demanding lives and the temptation to cope with stress by of prescription drug abuse through school assemblies and turning to drug abuse,” said LM Principal Sean Hughes in community outreach. a letter to LM families. “It is clear that the subject matter The official use of Adderall is to treat narcolepsy and [of this article] should be of concern to all of us.” ADHD. It is a Schedule II drug, meaning while it might The Lower Merion School District hosted a meeting on have accepted medical purposes, it also has a high risk of Tuesday, December 2 with Dr. Elizabeth Farchione-Pack to dependency and abuse. The class of Schedule II drugs in- discuss the effects of prescription medication abuse and the cludes cocaine and morphine, as well as prescription pressures felt by LM students. The district invited parents to drugs Percodan and Ritalin. take place in this conversation on the topic and offered Besides its accepted medical uses, Adderall information about Adderall and its effects. is commonly taken to get high, lose weight Administrators at Harriton also focused on openand increase focus. Adderall increases ing conversation channels between students and alertness, attention, and energy, so some teachers. students use it to pull all-nighters or to “We had class meetings that perform well on standardized tests. encouraged speaking to guidAs a result, Adderall and other ance counselors and parents similar medications are taken by colabout stress and ways of lege students for nonmedical purposes. managing that stress,” said According to British Science Journal, Banner Executive Editor Allie Photo courtesy of UNC.edu almost seven percent of students in AmeriVolinsky. can universities have used prescription drugs to gain an The article discussed various aspects of student academic edge, and 25% have tried a stimulant to increase Adderall abuse including some reasons why prescription academic performance. drugs have gained popularity: As members of one of the most academically com“Adderall and other ADD medications symbolize a beapetitive districts in the state, LMSD students often try con of hope for students swamped with work in the form of everything possible to enhance performance, from eating a translucent orange container…” wrote the Banner. “Too balanced meals to exercising several times a week. much homework? It’s cool, pop an addie. A crazy Trig test However, in a setting where academic success is highly tomorrow? No worries, just take some of my meds.” valued, problems are born. “This was not a news article. It was a strong opinion The article in the Harriton Banner acknowledged article that represented a voice in the community that the frequent prescription drug usage among the student needed to be heard, and was very well done from a journalist population. standpoint,” said Volinsky. Class of 2010
Updated walk zones, mixed reactions From Redistricting, page 1 distance are not entitled to District transportation [and labeled walkers] unless they meet certain exceptions such as hazardous walking conditions.” The “abbreviated” walk zones will result in longer travel time for students living close to LM. Currently, the longest bus ride in the district is 45 minutes. The average bus ride to Harriton takes 29 minutes, and the average to LM takes 18. Redistricting designers hope to regulate average bus ride times to about 30 minutes. “The proposed plan does not require new buses. The District may choose to add additional runs and change routes to accommodate student and family needs, but new buses will not be required in this effort,” said the website. “The proposed plan abbreviates the Lower Merion High School walk zone, but it is designed to minimize travel time by enabling students living closer to Harriton to attend Harriton.” “It was clear that some students who live closer to Lower Merion would have to move to Harriton,” said Public Relations Coordinator Doug Young at a December 8 meeting, which over 300 community members attended. “The challenge here [was] how to balance enrollment and do it in a fair and equitable way.” The proposed zone around Lower Merion High School in Plan 3 is a proposed “choice” attendance area. If students residing in that area choose to attend LM, they will not be provided transportation unless they meet a Board-established exception. If those students choose to attend Harriton, they will be provided transportation because they do not reside in the Harriton High School walk zone. “The development of [Plan Three] is based on the consideration of the board non-negotiables and the community values that were adopted by the board,” said Superintendent Christopher McGinley. “And throughout this process, we have attempted to be responsive to the issues and concerns that have been raised by the members of the Board, by parents, by students, and by members of our faculty and staff…I wish to assure [everyone] at this time that regardless of the plan that the Board finally adopts in January, the tradition of excellence will continue, and that students at Lower Merion and at Harriton High School will take part in the riches curricular opportunities available.”
December 23, 2008
The Merionite EDITORIAL
Oh, Recovery, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways—as it happens, there are five ways. Academic Recovery has, flying in the face of all our past complaints and criticisms, proven itself to be an invaluable component of academic life at LM. But, now that its removal is imminent, we feel it is our duty to describe the reasons why it should be preserved: 1) The half-hour chunk of flexible time prevents athletes from missing class time at the end of the day. If this flexibility were removed from the schedule, many a sport-oriented LMer would be forced to leave their last set class early—which brings us to point two: 2) Recovery builds make-up time into the schedule. If a student is absent and misses a quiz, a test, or a lab, the recovery period allows them to make up the work without miss- ing too many lunch periods or frees. Students also have the opportunity to make up missed gym classes, which are hard to schedule with specific teachers during the school day. 3) In addition, the recovery period gives time for the different sections of LM’s symphony orchestra to rehearse together, time that does not exist in the regular bell schedule. With out academic recovery, rehearsals for say, Harmony Explosion, or for the full symphony orchestra would not be possible. 4) Recovery time has also proven indispensable as meeting time for LM’s clubs and activi- ties. Yearbook uses this time to take action shots of our school community for the year book. Israeli cultures club uses this time to make falafel. Amnesty international needs the period to start movies in order to finish them before the first late buses arrive. And the Math Club needs this time to start their math competitions. 5) Finally, in addition to allowing time for students to make up work, the recovery period offers opportunity for students to meet with their guidance counselors. Seniors—and later in the year, juniors—in the midst of the college applications process need such op- portunities. Now, obviously, all of these aspects of student life are plausible without the recovery period (after all, recovery didn’t exist in the form it does now last year). But without Academic Recovery, student life would be “nasty, brutish and short”—we would return to an unenviable state of scheduling confusion, unmanageable make-up work, and late-night extracurriculars. A way must be found to increase sign-ups and attendance to the Recovery period. Doing away with the Recovery period should not be considered an option. So if you diligently sign up for the Recovery period, please continue doing so. If you don’t—c’mon. (Seriously.) And to the administrators, there are ways of fixing this problem without getting rid of the Recovery period. We recommend having all students defaulted to attending the advisories of their connections advisors. From there, they can go online and change their recovery choice to the class that they want. We recognize, of course, that following current trends, many students would forget to sign up for a class of choice under a default system as well, which may lead to overcrowding in certain advisory classes. But students who don’t sign up will at least have a way to be accounted for in the default system. In addition, from their default advisory class, students who forget to sign up can also get a note to see another teacher. Of course, there is also the draconian route: the administration can start handing out arbitrary detentions. We can all agree that forgetting to sign up for a recovery period is hardly worth such a punishment, but if another solution isn’t found, it may be the most expedient course. Unsigned editorial on this page reflect the general opinion of student editors, not the views of individuals.
The Merionite Published since 1929
Editors-in-Chief Managing Editor News Editors
Arts & Entertainment Editors
Carolyn Chou, ’09 Liz Jacobs, ’09 Emma Saltzberg, ’09 Sivahn Barsade, ’10 Samantha Hershman, ’09 Hana Rouse, ’10 JC Chou, ’09 Ethan Cohen, ’09 Niklas Thompson, ’09 Hannah Goldberg-Morse, ’10 Bina Peltz, ’10 Jessica Scolnic, ’09 Sophia Hirsch, ’09 Jenny Smolen, ’09 Hannah Weilbacher, ’10
Sports Editors Elie Peltz, ’09 Xinran Wang, ’10 Corinne Zucker, ’09 Layout Editor Sam Blum, ’09 Graphics/ Noah Zuares, ’10 Web Editor Business Marissa Presser, ’09 Manager Photo Editor Esther Hoffman, ’09 Copy Editors Isaac Lindy, ’10 Emily Sorensen, ’10 Advisor Mr. Chad Henneberry Business Advisor Mr. Sean Flynn
The editors believe all facts presented in the newspaper to be accurate. The paper acknowledges that mistakes are possible and welcomes questions as to accuracy. Inquiries regarding accuracy should be directed to the editors of the paper. Editors can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or in Room 116. To represent all viewpoints in the school community, The Merionite welcomes all letters to the editor. Letters can be sent via e-mail or dropped off outside the Merionite office. The Merionite reserves the right to edit letters to the editor for length or clarity.
Letters to the Editor Joe the bummer
I was deeply troubled by last month’s article “Joe of all Trades.” As someone who has known Joe, or as I call him, “Yosef,” for more than 16 years, I was appalled by the inaccuracy of the depiction of Joe’s unique and special hobbies. I will attempt, via a point-by-point rebuttal, to uncover Joe’s seemingly “cool” façade and reveal his weird, boring side. Ukrainian Dancing: Firstly, I would like to discuss Joe’s “amazing” Ukrainian dancing. I mean, I used to do Ukrainian dancing too, why do I not have an article written about me? (Then again, my dancing career came to a halt when I discovered my severe lack of coordination.) I guess to some people who haven’t seen it, Ukrainian dancing is kind of cool, but it’s not like Joe is that good or anything. I mean, if he was a professional Ukrainian dancer, that would be something to write about, but him going to rehearsal once or twice a week and prancing around like a loon is not that exciting. As for his cross-country dance endeavors? It’s more like he performs at local ethnic festivals a few times a year…wow…. Electronics: Another large inaccuracy in the article was the depiction of his prowess with electronics. Thus far, I have not been exposed to Joe’s unnatural calculatorial abilities, and I doubt their existence. And the whole computer thing? Well, he did build a computer, but why would you brag about something that you’re incapable of fixing? And although the article did discuss how Joe’s computer does not work, the article did not mention how he now inconveniences the family by using the other computers in our house, and bullies my sister and me into getting off so that he can play his precious computer games. Also left out of the article was how his computer is currently taking up two tables in the basement, because “he needs a lot of space to work.” (Since the rough draft of this article was written, Joe has miraculously found the time to start working on fixing his computer again. Coincidence? I think not.) Blacksmithing: I actually
laughed when I saw the picture of “Joe” on a lazy Saturday afternoon, blacksmithing at his grandparents’ forge. Joe has only ever lit the forge, under the supervision of our dad, a grand total of three times, (one of them being for my history project), and has only ever bent metal once. As for the basic things that he’s forged…they don’t exist. And the lazy Saturday afternoon forge adventures? It’s more like Joe spends his Saturdays watching TV in his pajamas, waiting for someone to make him food. Movember: Joe’s facial hair, or lack thereof, is not an accomplishment at all, and did not merit a spot in his article. (Then again, he did not deserve his own article to begin with). Movember basically just gave Joe the incentive to be lazy and not shave anymore, thus adding to his unhygienic lifestyle. It’s nice that he’s raising awareness for prostate cancer, but did it ever occur to him or the hooligans he calls friends to perhaps start a fund raiser, or do something that actually benefits people who are suffering from prostate cancer? I’m sorry, but the connection between facial hair and prostate cancer is quite unclear to me. Conveniently, Joe’s article did not get anyone else’s side of the story, except for Joe’s. If anyone had bothered to ask me about Joe or his defining characteristics, I would have told them about how no one can enter his room because it has an odor of rotted cabbages, how Joe used to make my sister and I pay him for reattaching Barbies’ heads to their bodies, or how he bought me a muzzle for Christmas. But even though Joe is not special at all, and did not deserve to have an article written about him, I guess he’s not a terrible brother. I mean, he does help me with my WebAssigns sometimes, and is known to have been nice on very few occasions. He may be weird, boring, mean, and is definitely not the “Joe of all Trades,” but, as my mom says, “he’s the only brother I have,” so I guess I’ll save the heart-wrenching story of Joe and the llama for another time. Sincerely, Marianna Kozak Class of 2010
December 23, 2008
Do we pledge allegiance? Will the real Americans please stand up Like most of Lower Merion, I would rather be sleeping at 7:30 in the morning. My eyes are heavy. My limbs are weak. It’s just too early. But alas, Jericho Sav’s increasingly shrill voice comes over the P.A. system, welcoming us to another day in the crowded confines of our high school and then kindly asking us to stand Avi Chatterjee for the Pledge Class of 2011 of Allegiance. Yet, as I get to my feet and turn to the flag, I’m surprised at what I lay spectacle to: a classroom full of students who are texting, doodling, or grabbing an extra three minutes of nap time. Are you serious? Why can’t students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance? Why can’t my fellow peers and classmates rally the respect and appreciation for a country, which has given them so much, by standing for a 20 second proclamation of honor? I’ve ruminated on these questions, attempting to churn out possible explanations. But I’ve been left with answers that give me little satisfaction. So I ask you, the students of Lower Merion High School: if you don’t stand for the Pledge, why not? What really compels you to defy one of the few, if only, established procedures to actually show gratitude for the United States of America? Argumentative to say the least, I’ve debated these questions amongst various friends and classmates, a routine that generally produces generic answers that I simply don’t understand or find agreeable. The most common rebuttal goes along these lines: “I don’t have to do it. I have rights. It’s my freedom of choice.” To me, this argument holds little water. So few people that I talk to even realize the incredible privileges and opportunities they have been given by merely being a citizen of this country. Our Declaration of Independence promises us “unalienable rights…that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and continues to be more than just words on a piece of paper. It is a promise that remains alive and well to this day, a promise that has been steadfastly kept for over 200 years. We fail to recognize, however, the remarkable sacrifices that have been made to preserve such a treasured value. Thus, we take for granted much of which we are given, and do not have the grace to stand for the Pledge. Shouldn’t the fact that we even have the option to stand be reason enough to do so? Perhaps you have your reservations about these ideals. They may sound too cliché or ideological. While I politely disagree, it is fair skepticism. Moreover, you may ask how standing for the Pledge ensures someone is patriotic and values their country. To this point, I concede that you cannot guarantee anyone’s patriotism through this
one practice. But my question remains clear: if you can’t even stand for the Pledge to show your respect, what can you really be expected to do? I’m dubious when people claim that they, “show their respect for our country in other ways,” and then slowly trail off into a murmur of uncertainty. I cringe when people suggest that, “saying the Pledge is stupid. It’s just a bunch of words that we repeat that don’t mean anything.” These words mean nothing because we’ve made them mean nothing. We ignore the message of praise and honor that the Pledge truly stands for. The Pledge should and can mean something. That’s only attainable, though, if you say it with honest and real meaning. If you don’t mean it, if you really have no reason to say it (in essence, no reason to give your support and appreciation to a country that has given to you), then there is a profound problem with how we are living our lives today. Being “too lazy” is hardly an excuse. It’s not an excuse at all, but yet another reason why our principles have become so misguided. It’s that exact laziness and apathy that has become a blinding force, masking the values we once stood for. I recognize that many people have clear and concrete reasons to not stand for the Pledge. Be it for religious purposes or deeply rooted problems with how the government conducts itself (warrantless wiretapping, fighting two wars, etc.), I acknowledge that just because one doesn’t stand, doesn’t mean he an unpatriotic pinhead. With that being said, I still find myself deeply frustrated with my peers at our school, a student body that is probably an accurate representation of many high schools across the country. Of all the people who I questioned, not a single person told me that they refused to stand because of what the government has done and that our ideals had become misguided. No. Instead, it was “Why do you care?” “I’m too tired,” and “It doesn’t mean anything to me.”. In fact, one of my classmates admitted the fact that she didn’t stand because she was simply “too lazy.” She actually considered this a completely legitimate excuse. We don’t accept laziness many other places. Why allow it to ultimately dishonor our country? It disgusts me that I am in a marginalized demographic in our school, a population dwarfed by a majority that just doesn’t seem to give a damn anymore. It’s stunning, indeed, that just over a month ago roughly 75% of our student body (according to polling by The Merionite) banded together in support of President-elect Barack Obama. This galvanized group was an inspiring force, regardless of which candidate you supported. Why then, can’t we galvanize yet again, to show something that we all (I hope) support: the United States of America. Surely that’s something we can all stand together for. Quite literally.
Stickin’ it to the man The Pledge of Allegiance has been a staple in American schools since its establishment in 1892. Despite alterations over the years, the message of the Pledge still rings true: I, as an American citizen, love and respect this country and all it stands for. While sitting and ignoring the Pledge may seem disrespectful to the Isaac Lindy untrained, naïve Class of 2010 eye, the Pledge, as all other American institutions, was practically made to be ignored. While Francis Bellamy, author of our Pledge, may not have had those specific goals in mind, the history of our country promotes rejecting establishment. Sitting and disregarding the Pledge of Allegiance is perfectly permissible; in fact it’s condoned by our history and our Constitution. The United States of America, the same U.S.A. that is referenced in our revered Pledge, was founded on the principle of questioning establishment and authority. Our forefathers questioned England and its government. While England was definitely the “establishment” our founders had no problem “sticking it to the man.” Our forefathers proceeded to write a Declaration of Independence, officially dissolving the connection between Britain and its American colonies. The authoring of the Declaration of Independence set a precedent for questioning authority, for without our daring and audacious Founding Fathers who did not hesitate to challenge establishment, the flag of the United States of America would not exist. Even before our Founding Fathers got around to founding, the settlers of
this great land questioned authority and establishment. The Plymouth Rock Puritans fled England to escape the Anglican Church and to form a more utopian religious community. If they hadn’t questioned authority, then wonderful towns like Salem, Massachusetts would never have been founded, and the basis for the future United States of America would not have been formed. Our Constitution, written by some of the same Founding Fathers who rejected allegiance to Britain, grants us the right to free speech. We therefore have the right to express ourselves; if this expression takes the form of ignoring the Pledge, then so be it. It is in every way Constitutional. The Constitution also grants us freedom of religion. If you are, for instance, a Quaker, and oppose the pointless war that we are fighting in Iraq, then you would be entitled to sit down and ignore the Pledge. Or if you are a Jehovah’s Witness, and your religion opposes the Pledge, then you also would be exempt from saying it or standing for it. Not every excuse that people use for abstaining from the Pledge of Allegiance is as valid as upholding historical precedent or religious beliefs. Sometimes, as pro-Pledgers may argue, the excuses are as superficial as simply “being too lazy.” While contemptible for lack of creativity, this faux excuse is just as valid as a religious objection. I again look to the illustrious history of our nation for support by bringing up the reasons behind the American Revolution. When examined closely, how legitimate were our qualms about taxation without representation? Truly, how did we expect Britain, a massive empire, to collect taxes and provide representation for every citizen in its vast colonies? Taxation without representation, however, proved to be enough of a reason for the Boston Tea Party and the ensuing conflict known as the Revolutionary War. Our peers today therefore can plead, with historical precedent as support, that they are too lazy to stand for the Pledge. While a completely lame excuse, it’s valid and must be accepted. There are those who argue that by sitting during the Pledge, you automatically disrespect everything American, especially our armed forces. This is just not true. The Pledge, a superfluous ditty, does not guarantee respect for America or respect for our troops. Sitting during the Pledge and respecting our troops are not mutually exclusive. You can repudiate the establishment of the Pledge of Allegiance without repudiating the importance of the service of the brave men and women who defend our country. Sitting during the Pledge is absolutely allowed. In fact, the history of the United States suggests that we question establishment, namely the Pledge. Whether you have a religious objection or contrived excuse, we are all entitled by our Founding Fathers and by our Constitution to completely ignore the Pledge of Allegiance. While Jericho Sav and Isaac Smith may be insulted that you don’t follow the lead of their sultry voices every morning, the United States itself supports your decisions to abstain.
December 23, 2008
A right to bear arms, sensibly Time to smell the proverbial flowers: Bang. I listen for the sound of is even more ridiculous. I can’t the round ricocheting off the metal think of any practical use for au- How technology constrains our lives tomatics other than in the military. Automatic weapons and firearms in general came into almost uniform use during both World War I and II. World War I is seen as the first major example of the effect of firearms on the psyche of the world. When a soldier shot a gun, the hundreds of feet separating him from an enemy distanced him psychologically. This psychological distance promotes a lack of critical thought concerning the enemy. People stop questioning why they are fighting and whom they are fighting. And for a moment, they become machines of war. Because of this significant documented psychological effect, we need to ask ourselves how the widespread availability of weapons affects our culture. Although a criminal/invader/terrorist/Crip appears within our crosshairs as a distant threat, society doesn’t actually recognize these individuals as humans anymore. Your brain only treats them like beasts. In certain places, the government recognizes this effect, and has responded with widespread firearms bans. We shouldn’t ban all firearms though. If an individual truly wants to commit a crime, they’ll acquire a weapon by any means. The statistics relating the efficacy of gun control on crime rate are extremely confusing. In Washington D.C. handguns were banned in 1977, and by the ’90s the city began to be called the “murder capital”. It’s worth mentioning that 19% of D.C.’s population is below the poverty level and the city itself has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth within the country (in Ward 3, an affluent ward, there exists a 1.7% unemployment rate, while in poorer Ward 8, unemployment is at 17.2%). In contrast, Switzerland issues all male citizens rifles as part of the national militia. They have one of the lowest crime rates in all of Europe. However, they also have a population with significantly more equitable distribution of wealth than any part of the world. I think that America’s rampant crime rate is more reflective of the psychological effect of weapons, distribution of wealth, and other factors such as our cultural values. A universal ban isn’t the solution. As I’ve illustrated, ownership of handguns and automatic weaponry is not logical. If you own a rifle, you still assert your Second Amendment rights. We should, however, renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (part of Obama’s platform), a measure that bans citizen possession of automatic weaponry. We should also tighten existing gun-control measures such as thorough background checks. My uncle told me that if I spent “a few more times at the range, I’d be ready for competitions.” But I just can’t imagine myself there. I think that’s a good thing. Image courtesy of Google Images
target. Only the bullets fall into the dirt. Ten feet above. Halo makes it seem much easier: “You’re a little high.” I adjust the sight John Lubeck a notch Class of 2010 lower, and with the squeeze of the trigger, satisfaction surges as I can hear the ping of 9mm Uzi rounds hitting metal. Halo seems to have paid off. “Great job.” Rewind two months and I would never have imagined myself, a pacifist vegetarian, shooting an Israeli mini-Uzi at a firing range. But things change, and as my uncle likes to say, there is nothing better than spending Black Friday “goin’ shootin’.” After “goin’ shootin’,” I couldn’t figure out what makes it so appealing. The first few shots were entertaining. Initially, I was intoxicated by the adrenaline coursing through my veins. But once I started to hit the target occasionally, it just became repetitive. My uncle made sure to lobby me during the ride to the range. “Do you know what the NRA is? (He is a lifetime member.) Has your dad talked to you about guns? Do any of your friends go shooting?” My favorite quote from our ride came with our return: “The best guncontrol is letting people shoot at what they want.” I think he expected me to suddenly become passionate about guns after I shot, but I was only confused. I was “on his turf” though, and I cowardly hid my opinion. But now, I can express my real convictions. You see, I can completely understand rifles. First: One of the main uses of a rifle is to hunt, an activity that can be performed responsibly. Hunting allows an individual to obtain food by his or her own hand. Second: With a single-shot rifle (fire a bullet then reload), the most common type produced, it would be extremely difficult to hold up a bank or assault other institutions. Third: With a rifle, individuals can still take appropriate measures to defend themselves and their families as they see fit. Fourth: Owning a rifle still affirms Second Amendment rights, and grants individuals the ability to deter overreaching governments, carefully provided for by our Founding Fathers. I can’t justify owning a pistol or an automatic weapon. After all, the primary advantage of owning a pistol is ease of concealment, which makes it an excellent tool for committing crime. According to the 2005 Census Bureau Report, handguns account for 50.1% of all homicides. Automatic weaponry
I was less than happy to hear my gym teachers announce the end of gym electives for the rest of the year. Now instead of being able to choose a gym class for the upcoming quarter, I Connie Hua am forced Class of 2010 to spin on stationary bikes that somehow all have seats designed for people who have impossibly slim derrieres. Sure, I’m disgruntled about this situation—who wouldn’t be? According to the gym teachers, the only reason we’ve been pigeonholed into select electives is because Powerschool can’t “make it work.” This computer program can’t re-assign everybody to a new roster; as a result, all 1600-or-so students will continue classes with their current teacher without the freedom to choose their activities. Of course, I understand that it’s not that easy to rewrite the computer codes and magically fix everything. And I don’t blame the gym teachers at all. I know that they dislike this predicament as much as we do and that they have fought hard for electives. As seasoned teachers, they all know how much more is accomplished when creativity and choice in classes is involved. No, I’m not angry—resigned and disgrun-
tled maybe. But I am worried. When a computer system has the power to confine and cut out class options for students, who wouldn’t be worried? This parallels our society’s crippling dependence on technology. No one doubts that technology is fun, helpful, and life altering. But for all its conveniences, technology has a darker side. Because it’s so prolific, we’ve slowly become dependent on our lovely little gadgets and gizmos. A little too dependent. How many of us can go a day without our computers? A week without our phones? A month without our iPods? We are so completely plugged into our technology that life without it is unimaginable. Technology is supposed to make things easier in life, and by and large, it really does. While we’re writing a history paper, we can chill out to music and also keep in touch with friends and family via e-mail and IM. However, once the time comes when we simply are incapable of writing a paper by hand is when we really need to rethink our technology— or rather, how we’re using it. When we love something, need something so much, we readily forgive its flaws. But at some point, this forgiveness has to end. We need to distance ourselves from our gadgets and gizmos if only to prove we can live without them. Even as I’m typing this on my MacBook I worry I wouldn’t be able to write the same article without missing my Spell Check and cursing
more than a few hand cramps. Then again, it’s hardly reasonable to cut technology out of anyone’s life forever. In the fast-paced world we live in, people can hardly be expected to give up their computers and Blackberrys which have become so synonymous with work and play. But cutting back on our technology use is possible. Instead of sitting in front of a computer on Facebook, stalking your Facebook friends, go out and have some fun with your real friends. Instead of chatting on a cell with your best friend, meet at Starbucks and swap gossip face-to-face over chai lattes. Instead of listening to whatever music you’re into, go out and learn an instrument to make some music of your own. Granted, all these activities will ultimately require more effort than simple mouse clicking, but they are all so much more rewarding. Walking through LM, when the majority of the school has over $300 of graphing calculators, cell phones, iPods and whatever else in their backpacks, it’s easy to forget how much we can do without all our gadgets. Try to last one day without anything that requires electricity or has batteries. Don’t worry; people have done okay with far less. But at the very least, going without is an exercise in self-restraint and quite possibly, a chance to discover the intangible things that really matter. Things you couldn’t have discovered with all the Apple and F buttons in the world.
Assignment Book Shenanigans
Hi there, this is just a little consumer report on our lovely assignment books, mostly to inform all of you— if you didn’t know already— of the ridiculous shenanigans that fill its pages. How about JJ Warshaw Class of 2010 we start with its lovely, weekly quotes: “I think it’s important that people stand up for what they believe in. It’s important that people discuss things.” – Steve Nash. Wow Steve, who knew you were such an eloquent speaker, the way you take things people have already said, and group them with other, unrelated things people have said; it’s enthralling. Or how about this little nugget from Chris Osgood, “The mark of a good team is how it reacts when things aren’t going in its favor”. Sorry Chris, who are you again? Philosopher? Public intellectual? Sagely politician? Oh, that’s right… Red Wings goaltender.
Where’s Gandhi? Where’s Ralph Waldo Emerson? Where’s Susan B. Anthony? Since when do Bruce Lee, Hilary Duff, and Jessica Alba come before Aristotle, Sartre, and Che Guevara? “My theory is that if you look confident you can pull off anything—even if you have no clue what you’re doing” – Jessica Alba. Thanks but no thanks Miss Alba; I think after Sin City we all know where her brains are, if you know what I mean … they are in her butt. But wait! There’s more, and frankly, this is where it starts getting disturbing. Turn your eyes to the bottom of the page and you will see a weekly quote by a certain anonymous. Let’s take a look at some of these: “Is it good if a vacuum really sucks?” Mr. Brooks would bust a suspender over this notion of vacuums sucking. “If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.” Good news for you, unbearably-whiny, pants-off, Dorito-consuming Main Line failure! But really, in the background they have “SUCCESS = FAILURE” written on a blackboard; something out of 1984. “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” “A person who smiles in a crisis has found someone to blame.” What are these awful life lessons? Not only are these just terrible things to say, they’re accompanied by some of the most
idiotic pictures I’ve seen in my life that make me hate everything. Wait! Maybe it’s a joke. Oops… no, I’ve been to these sick people’s website and they claim their goal is to “inspire students of all ages and abilities.” What are you inspiring us to do, become Satan’s minions? I think as soon as I take such quotes as “I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you,” and “Borrow money from pessimists— they don’t expect it back” to heart, I will basically become a harlot to this earth. “Who are you and how did you get in here?! I’m a locksmith, and… I’m a locksmith…”, what is this, some intro to a shady porno? It boggles the mind. Okay, I’ll admit, most likely all those anonymous quotes were supposed to be jokes, and said rant may be a tad moot. But that brings up the question: is this what adults actually thought we’d find funny and interesting? Quotes by dumb celebrities and terrible, school-friendly jokes? That might be what’s truly disturbing in all of this. And if these books were written for younger people, that would leave the risk for our little tots to actually take those anonymous quotes seriously, and possibly think Mary J. Blige is a literary paragon of our age. So seriously Premier™, it’s an assignment book, just stop, you’re embarrassing yourself.
December 23, 2008
Normality, in the eye of the beholder My parents divorced when I was two years old. I alternate houses every other day, and I have two completely different families. This is the way it has always been, ever since I can reLeah Rosenbloom member, Class of 2011 and it is what I consider normal. Why shouldn’t I consider it normal? After all, with one in two marriages ending in divorce, there are thousands and thousands of American children out there in the same situation. And yet, I still get comments like “Oh, I’m so sorry,” and “That must be so tough on you,” when I mention the word “divorce.” Is it tough on me? Yes. Having a forgetful memory as I do, recollecting things I need for class is a bit difficult, especially when I only have three minutes before dad picks me up after a hectic day at school. So far, it has probably hindered a few grades here and there, ranging from five-point homework assignments, packets, and my violin to 50-point notebooks and important permission slips. That being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Anyone who says, “parents should stay together for the children, no matter what,” is off their rocker. He or she should try being the kid for a day and then tell me it’s the best option. Not only is it worse for the child to hear constant fighting and bickering, but it can also lead to infidelity, custody battles, and depression. Life should be about happiness, and, as I have figured out while going through the second divorce of my life, I am so much happier. After all, I have two parents that love me and take care of me. This, to me, seems like a wonderful way to live, and any child that can say that with pride is fortunate,
divorced parents or not. I’ll never forget the time I was watching Mrs. Doubtfire at a friend’s house. For those of you who haven’t seen Mrs. Doubtfire, it is about a family going through a divorce, and how the dad will stretch to any length to see his kids. The movie was supposed to be a comedy, but it all hit too close to home. And suddenly, at the very end, when Mrs. Doubtfire is reading a “Dear Abby” type letter from a viewer about divorce, something struck me. “Sweetie,” she says, “I’m sure your parents love you very much, even though they might not love each other anymore.”
Art by Leah Rosenbloom
While the credits were rolling, I turn to my friend. “Have you ever heard those words before?” “What words?” she asks. “’Your parents love you very much, even though they might not love each other anymore,’” I parrot. “No, I don’t think so,” she answers. “You’ve never heard anyone say that?” I ask, incredulously. “No” , she replies. She probably thought I was crazy. After all, why should she have heard them? I, on the other hand, had heard those words at least once from just about every adult I had
ever known. What I was too young to realize then I realize now: this statement spoke more truth than any other condolences offered. It isn’t pity, and it isn’t a heap of “feel-better” with whipped cream and a cherry on top, either. It’s truth. In a way, it’s almost like saying: “suck it up—it’s not that bad. You’re okay.” It’s funny to me, in a sense, that she had never heard a phrase that spoke so much truth to me, and was practically etched into the inner walls of my skull. Whenever I get down about my situation, I can always curl up for a minute, look inside, and read those words—and even if I haven’t seen them for a while, they’ll always be there, waiting. Revisiting this comforting phrase as a motto keeps me positive. That, and keeping a positive outlook on the definition of normality. After all, isn’t “normal” a relative term? Isn’t “normal,” like “beauty,” in the eye of the beholder? Some families sit down together every night for dinner and think nothing of it. I cherish the few times a year that my parents sit together at a table for a meal. I might have two rooms to clean, but I also get to have two Thanksgivings. I might only get one parent at a time, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I still have two parents who love me, which is more than I could ever ask for. Does that make me pitiable? Does that make me abnormal? I don’t think so.
Let’s share the love; That is, Christmas music
I was riding in the family car just before Halloween, switching through the radio stations. Starting at Q102, I slowly moved down toward Wired 96.5. Then I stumbled upon a different radio station, WNOW 97.5. My ears were immediately pleased with the sound of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing their “Hula Hoop” ChristRichie Weker Class of 2011 mas song. I was confused. I was listening to Christmas tunes before going trick-or-treating? As Alvin’s voice faded in the background, Bing Crosby began to sing the equally classic, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Another holiday ditty? What was going on? I love Christmas music. I love the whole time of the year. Nothing makes me happier than to see beautiful lights on huge trees surrounded by a white landscape. It was great to hear Christmas music, even if it was still October. So my question is why do we have to wait until Christmas to hear Christmas music? Why should we designate only one portion of the year to spread cheer? I have not met one person who truly dislikes Christmas music. There are always “Debbie Downers” who make up excuses for why they “hate” Christmas music or why they don’t like Christmas music being played before December. All of these people are liars. Just last week I was in a car with one of my
friends and I put on 97.5. My friend, upon hearing the Christmas Music, exclaimed, “How can they play Christmas music before Thanksgiving?” I dismissed his comment choosing not to respond but rather to hum along to “Winter Wonderland”. About five seconds later, my cynical friend was humming along. This made me realize that, no matter how much people complain about Christmas music, deep down they enjoy it. I vote for Christmas music, all year round! Then people wouldn’t be able to complain about how early Christmas songs are being played because they would be playing all year long. Then people wouldn’t be able to complain about how they are tired of hearing Christmas music, because they could just switch the station. I understand that people observe different religions and may not feel like they have a direct connection to Christmas music. (Although this does not stop me from putting on my yarmulke and spinning my Dreidel to “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”) Even if you are not directly connected, you should give a try at spreading some “holiday cheer.” Everyone deserves to be in a better mood. Let’s face it; things aren’t looking too good right now. Whenever I turn on the news, I hear about the terrible state of our economy. Maybe if we had year-round Christmas music, our upbeat spirit would lift us to spend more money. In the newspaper, I read about war and terrorist attacks. But perhaps if there were Christmas tunes available in the spring, everyone would be in a more generous mood and lives could be saved. When I want to get away from it all, I should be able to turn somewhere to raise my spirits. What better thing to listen to than Christmas music to cheer somebody up?
Art by Leah Rosenbloom
December 23, 2008
Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice B. Hafter/J. Scolnic
Class of ’10/’09
The holiday season seems to start the moment Thanksgiving ends. Stores pipe in Christmas carols and urge you to buy all the newest, twinkliest decorations so that you can deck
your halls with all their glory. But among the lights and blow-up Santa Clauses, one aspect of the holiday season always dominates: the food. In its earlier, simpler days, holiday food meant a Christmas ham, some candy canes, and maybe a little peppermint bark or fruitcake. But in recent years,
the seasonal flavor has now spread to the most unexpected place: your coffee. The coffee with holiday flair is a magical mix of familiar winter flavors (ranging from cinnamon to eggnog to mint mocha) paired with the warm nuttiness of a latte. In most cases the coffee is brewed and then
Art by Amanda Lewis
Ingredients Low-fat or Nonfat milk Sugar Hot Cocoa powder Brewed Coffee Teas of your choosing Crystallized Ginger: Cubes of ginger that have been
cooked in a simple sugar syrup. Available in almost all grocery stores.
Allspice: A seasonal mix of spices that is the main spice in pumpkin pie. Available in almost all grocery stores and probably in your home pantry. Peppermints: If you chop them up or crush them into
powder, they can make a nice topper for your drink.
Nog: Eggnog minus the eggs, milk, cream, and saturated
fat. Try Silk brand Soy Nog—you would never know it came from beans!
combined with a few squirts of flavored syrup. Occasionally, a dairy based mixture—the eggnog flavoring for example—is added to the coffee in place of or in addition to the syrup. Seasonal coffee has proven itself to be both popular and profitable: the ticker on the Starbucks holiday page says that as of December 11, over 60,000 people have enjoyed a seasonal drink from Starbucks stores nationwide. Be it the nostalgic feelings the homey flavors stir up or the idea that buying one can help the AIDS crisis, (for every Starbucks holiday special sold, Starbucks donates five cents to the (RED) AIDS Campaign) these seasonal treats seem to be something everyone can enjoy. Starbucks is not the only one capitalizing on the seasonally flavored coffee trend. You can now pick up a gingerbread latte at Dunkin’ Donuts, Saxbys, and numerous other independently owned coffee shops in the area. And capitalizing they are. Holiday flavored coffee may be easily purchased, but buying a sleigh load isn’t easy on the wallet. A grande peppermint mocha twist latte at Starbucks will run you more than four dollars— that’s the equivalent of four large cookies at Savi’s Hut. Not only is the coffee expensive, it’s also overwhelmingly unhealthy. That same grande peppermint mocha twist deposits 400 calories worth of weight on your body (400 calories is about 1/5 of your recommended daily caloric intake.) Instead of doling out tons of cash and taking in tons of calories for a single holiday concoction, try making one of the cheaper and healthier versions listed below at home.
Recipes Gingerbread Latte: Add a splash of milk, a cou-
ple of cubes of crystallized ginger, a pinch of allspice, and a spoonful of sugar to your cup of coffee.
Peppermint Mocha Latte: Add a dash of instant co-
coa powder to your coffee, stir in some milk, then dissolve a peppermint or two (it helps if you crush them up first.) Top with fat-free whipped topping and some of those peppermints you crushed up earlier.
It’s Nog in to
Ginger Tea: Brew some of your favorite tea (Darjeeling and Black work particularly well) and add in a couple of cubes of crystallized ginger. Doctor your tea as usual with milk, sugar, or honey. Peppermint
Make yourself a mug of hot cocoa and melt in some peppermints. Like the latte, whipped topping and some crushed peppermints make a nice decoration.
December 23, 2008
Blackberry is wackberry
Class of 2010
I am addicted to my BlackBerry. I no longer look anyone in the eye while we’re holding a conversation, no matter how fascinating a discussion. My thumbs are sore from typing excessively and moving around the teeny lit-up trackball, and I will check my BBMs and texts at least four times during a five-minute chat. As much as I hate to admit it, this is technology dependence at its worst. Luckily, I’m not alone. This fall, the number of BlackBerry users in the world reached 19 million, which confirms a truth that we must reluctantly admit: no longer is the ubiquitous smartphone just for the stereotypical balding, middle-aged, and power-hungry suit too busy fumbling on its QWERTY keyboard to send mass emails to his colleagues to have any real human interaction with them. Despite competition from the iPhone and the lagging economy, the BlackBerry’s “coolness” has risen exponentially in recent months— reflected in its popularity here at LM. “I’m not cool, I don’t have one,” lamented senior Neal Berman. To begin with, teenage girls across the country lust after the glamour of the “Gossip Girl” lifestyle, where bberries abound. They envision the Upper-EastSiders bringing these phones with them everywhere, using them as accessories to their designer outfits while out all night at clubs. This fantasy lifestyle, captured by the “stalkerazzi,” is depicted in photos of the coolest young starlets clutching their Blackberries whilst dancing on tables and has inspired the most naive of tweens to covet the once-unfashionably clunky portable device. Not everyone, even in LM, sees BlackBerries as the key to the good life. “iPhones are so much cooler,” said junior Eve Laren, an iPhone owner. “Blackberries are meant for middle-aged men working at corporations who have nothing better to do with their lives.” “I’m a Mac person, so I love my iPhone,” junior Julia Vreslovic, an iPhone aficionado, enthused. “Blackberries suck and the cases are cuter for iPhones.” But clearly not everyone is so down on the ’berry: it’s spawned a slew of rip-offs. Where once the “it phone” was the Razr, and then the SideKick, copycats are now going after the BlackBerry. Junior Maris Jones is the proud owner of a FauxBerry. Her Verizon Wireless MotoQ is the optimal phone for someone with such an investment in her social life and who so frequently texts and receives emails. She also updates her blog via the MotoQ, but admits that it would be easier on the BlackBerry’s network. “But, it gets the job done,” she said. “I don’t know why you need to spend $400 dollars on the crackberry. I feel more original, and my phone fits my unique personality.” I find it interesting how the frazzled business lifestyle that the phone was designed for now resembles the life of the average LM student. Many teenagers have packed schedules
that need to be maintained via smartphones. “You can schedule your ACT tutor, community service hours, and everything else you need to do in your BlackBerry,” junior Sophie Novick commeted, the owner of a silver BB Curve. Have teenagers really become this technology-dependent? Yes, Novick argues, they have, and this reliance is not necessarily a bad thing. “Plus, the keyboard much easier to use and faster than an iPhone’s, and in my opinion, it’s more aesthetically pleasing.” Novick feels an almost parentlike affection for her BlackBerry, and cannot hold a conversation without constantly checking it. “I feel like I have an addiction. I need to be stimulated by more than one thing at a time— I talk to someone on speaker while I play BrickBreaker, and then sign onto WebAssign and Facebook from my phone.” Words like “addiction,” “com-
pulsion,” a n d “separation anxie t y ” often are associated with this device: something that an objective behavioral observer would find puzzling, if they lived under a rock. But this isn’t just a phone we’re talking about here. This is a social life. The crackberry epidemic. Like it or not, the world is now reliant on the connectedness provided by this cute little device. Stop substituting hyper-communication for real life interaction— let it facilitate your genuine social relationships, not replace them entirely. It’s not about kicking the habit: it’s about curbing it.
Image by Sam Blum/Staff
Class of 2010
uses lol “quite often” and that “Lol is used so much these days that it has lost In 6th grade, everyone lol-ed, rofl-ed its meaning, sort of like the word ‘like.’ I and OMG-ed. With cool new screen- use lol in funny and not funny situations, names like xpUpPyLUvRox49483, this especially awkward ones, and it sort of “shorthand” typing method was the only brings everything together.” way to deal with barely knowing how to Freshman Anthony Li is indifferent to type. But when 7th and 8th grade rolled loling and said “idk, people say lol when around, these “shorthand” techniques they have nothing else to say? But I can were looked down upon. The l-o-l had say that I am a huge fan of lolcats.” d-i-e-d. However at Lower Merion, we Some students believe that using are in the midst of a rev-lol-ution. What Internet jargon in conversation is is the new obsession with “rolling on the s t u p i d , but junior Shourjo floor laughing” and “laughing out loud” Chakravorty said when we are only smiling? What is the that he “lols new preoccupation with x’s and z’s online all at the end of wordz? Lolz. the time beAfter some research, cause it is funny and n so omp some unique. Now it is sort h T o orin of weird to say ‘haha’. LolNik y b Art ing is cool.” Not everyone believes that the lol p o s - epidemic is “cool.” English Teacher J.B. s i b l e Haglund, a lover of the English language, r o o t s o f went so far as to compare the lol epidemic t h e e p i - to the Bubonic Plague, stating that “The d e m i c problem with the ‘lol’ epidemic is that have been its victims live, sometimes many years u n c o v e r e d . after contracting the disease. They are T h e c o m p u t e r free to spread it to others and to fill the game “roflcopter” air with the vapid drivel that lol and other on onemorelevel.com expressions embody. I’m not saying I involves a rofl-copter (a want the disease to be deadly, but if it helicopter with a “rofl-propel- at least struck students dumb I think we ler”) shooting bullets at people on might be better off.” “lolerskates.” But is it just this computer This epidemic is unavoidable, as stugame causing a school wide craze? dents are exposed to lol at every turn. Is Ever popular “lolcats,” which portray there shelter in foreign language classes? cats in strange situations with misspelled Not a chance. The lol-epidemic has captions, dominate Facebook “bumper spread to different languages. Junior Rastickers” and even have an application chel Cohen has been known to say “ellay on the website dedicated to them. These oh ellay, menos puntos” in her Spanish “lolcats” often have shorthand included class when someone speaks English. in the captions, but are these captions takIs there safety walking through the ing over our vocabularies and our lives? hallway with headphones in your ears? Shorthand is also increasingly common Not so fast. “Lol” is even hidden in the in the media. The hit show Gossip Girl mural painting on the walls of the tech made “xoxo” a common salutation among building near history teacher Jill Knight’s teenaged girls and often shows text mes- class. However, in Mrs. Knight’s case, sages in shorthand. Has this “IM Lingo” loling could be the answer! She says traveled from the virtual world to the real herself that she hasn’t “noticed much of world through new keypad and texting the loling, but that could be a result of me phones? being completely out of touch with the Although most students interviewed phenomenon. I tried to text my husband a replied with something along the lines short message today and it took me about of “ROFL, I dont know why I lol, it ten minutes to do it! Most of the emails is embarrassing,” when junior Hanna I send and receive are work related- only Williams was asked about her lol-usage my sister-in-law sometimes stumps me she said, “sometimes I lol, sometimes I with things like ROFL.” LOL, sometimes I lolz and rarely I lulz. So when and how will this tubercuAnd I add z’s when I am making fun of lol-sis and inf-lol-enza be cured? Many people.” hope that the outbreak will stop very Junior Leah Sutton, a notorious loler, soon, while others would rather not never types lol but says LOL out loud change anything about the somewhat ironically, to “make fun of the people moronic way of speaking to which they who use shorthand lingo online. I nor- have adapted in the last few months. As mally have a decent vocabulary, and I for a cure, vaccinations are being develdon’t believe that saying lol and other oped in the science labs in the annex. abbreviated words brings me down.” JK ROFL. Sophomore Julie Prizer says that she
December 23, 2008
Religion & Spirituality
Edited by Liz Jacobs, Carolyn Chou and Emma Saltzberg, ’09 Graphics by Sam Blum, ’09 Graphs compiled Carolyn Chou and Sam Blum, ’09 Art by Marine Kambara, ’09
Survey and Analysis................12-13 Religion facts....................13 Places of Worship in LM....13 Religion through the eyes of LM students........................................14-16 From religious to secular.....................16 Separation of Church & State...............16
Religion and Spirituality at LM
beliefs and practices at LM Beliefs of both students and teachers vary widely; if teachers’ experiences are any indication, students’ beliefs may shift
Class of 2009
Religion—especially in public schools— can be a touchy subject. People are uncomfortable discussing their beliefs, and many people don’t think discussion of religion has any place at all in a secular environment like public school. Or so we’d thought. It turns out that LM students are actually quite comfortable discussing their beliefs in school: 46% student of respondents are “very comfortable”, while 28% are “moderately comfortable.” Only ten percent were “kind of uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable”. And just four percent “think it’s wrong to talk about religion in school.” Well, The Merionite is glad you’re (most likely) comfortable, because we’re about to do some serious discussing. Among the 505 LM students surveyed, Christianity was the most prevalent religion, with Judaism coming in at a close second: 35% of our respondents identified as Christian, 34% Jewish. The next largest religious group—or, more accurately, nonreligious group—was the atheists, with nine percent of the total. Agnostics followed with six percent, while Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and “Other” LMers each constituted two percent or less of the total. Of the 60 teacher respondents, 62% identified as Christian and 23% identified as Jewish. Atheists and agnostics each constituted five percent of the total; three percent identified as “Other,” and two percent identified as Muslim. These demographics provide a sharp contrast with the demographics of our state and country as a whole: in 2004, Jews made up 2.2% of the population of the United States, and 2.3% of Pennsylvania’s population. If we accept The Merionite’s survey data as an accurate representation of LM’s demographics, then the Jewish share of the population at LM is almost 15 times the share of the population of the nation as a whole. Interestingly, while 74% of LM students associate themselves with a particular religion, only 59% are members of an organized “religious community”—a church, synagogue, or mosque. That means 15% of LMers belong to a religion but not a community of others who share it. Most students— 65%—don’t belong to or participate in any religious youth group activities, while 27% are full members and eight percent attend events but aren’t members of groups. And being part of a religious community like a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque
doesn’t necessarily translate to believing in a religion; while 59% belong to a religious community, only 52% of LMers believe in God. Seven percent or more of LM students, then, belong to a church, synagogue, temple or mosque but don’t believe in God. Teachers at LM are actually in the opposite situation: while 83% of respondents believe in God, only 63% are members of a religious community. It seems that our parents have had quite a large impact on LM students’ religious beliefs: 48% of respondents adopted the belief system they have now when they were younger than five years old, and 47% are “equally as observant” of their religion as their parents are. Only 16% of LMers are “more observant” than their parents, and 34% adopted their current beliefs when they were 11 years old or older. For teachers, the most common age of belief-system adoption was also between birth and age five: 35% of teachers reported this age. However, if their teachers’ experiences are any indication of what’s to come, LMers can look forward to some personal upheaval in the years ahead—24% of teachers adopted their current beliefs when they were between the ages of 19 and 26. It seems the thirties and forties are not particularly spiritual decades, though; no teacher respondents picked up their current beliefs between the ages of 31 and 49. And a few LM teachers are late bloomers: three percent of teacher respondents started to believe what they believe now at age 50 or older. A few notes about our survey: it’s not a random sampling—participation was voluntary, and it was administered in Connections Advisory; there’s probably a good bit of bias in our results. Also, freshmen and juniors are over-represented, while sophomores and seniors are under-represented. While 19% of respondents were sophomores and 21% were seniors, 30% were juniors and 31% were freshmen.
While 74% of LM students associate themselves with a particular religion, only 59% are members of an organized “religious community”—a church, synagogue, temple or mosque.
25% Not sure
9% Parents are, I’m not
Students: Are you a member %&$ of a religious youth group?
Students: Do you believe in God? 23% No
Teachers: How old were you when you adopted the belief system you have now?
!"#$ Students: Are you a member of a religious community %&$ (church, synagogue, mosque, etc.)? '$()"*+$","*-#$./-$(0$*&-$ 32% No ($0"0."1$ Yes 59%
Students: How old were you when you adopted the belief system you have now?
Students: How closely do you follow the laws and guidelines of your religion?
I don’t associate with a religion
Teachers: How closely do you follow the laws and guidelines of your religion?
Teachers: With which religious tradition do you identify?
They are more like suggestions I don’t associate with a religion
Not sure 7%
Teachers: How closely do you follow the laws and guidelines of your religion? Yes 83%
Tidbits about world religions !"#$
%&$ by JC Chou and Emma Compiled Saltzberg, ’09 '()"*+#$()",$-./$*&+$ Christianity
Beliefs: Christians believe in the existence of Jesus, and most sects believe him to be the Son of God. They study the New Testament of the Bible and base their religion around the teachings of Jesus. History: Apostles in first century C.E. began a religion off of the teachings of the late Jesus Christ, it survived through centuries of persecution, and was legalized by Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 C.E.. The Roman Catholic Church ruled Europe until the late Middle Ages, when Martin Luther’s 95 Theses sparked the development of Protestantism, which repudiated the primacy of the pope, the role of tradition, as well as other Roman Catholic doctrines. Following Columbus’s discovery of the new world, Christianity was spread to the Americas, Oceania, East Asia, and sub-saharn Africa under a new wave of missionary activity and colonial expansionism. Sects: Catholicism, Anglicanism, Protestantism, Anabaptism, Eastern Orthodoxy Members in USA and world: Between 1.5 and 2.1 billion Christians worldwide. A quarter to a third of the world’s population. In USA: 224,457,000 adherents, 85% of US population.
Students: With which religious tradition do you identify?
They are more like suggestions
Editors’ Note: We hope that this special feature sparks discussion in the community and pushes LM students to think more about how they interact with the world. We asked students to write reflections about their religious beliefs, but please remember that these are just opinions. As always, we wish we could have included more opinions, and we in no way suggest that these are the only views on these issues. We only hope to show a variety of opinions and experiences. If you have any questions on concerns, do not hesitate to email email@example.com
8% Attend events but not a member
Beliefs: Jews believe that there is one God, and revere the Torah (Old Testament of the Bible) as holy text. They believe that they are God’s chosen people, and most Jews believe that the Messiah will arrive sometime in the future. History: Jews trace the origins of their faith back to Abraham, the man the Torah describes as the first monotheist. According to Jewish tradition, the descendants of Abraham lived in the land of Egypt, were enslaved by a pharaoh, and then escaped from slavery in the Exodus. In 1313 B.C.E, the Israelites, as they were known, received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the desert, and then settled in Israel. The Jews lived in Israel until 66 CE, when the Romans expelled them. Jews spread throughout the Roman Empire, and later throughout Europe. Beginning in the 18th century, Judaism started to splinter: some Jews wanted to integrate modern advances into Jewish life, while others wanted to preserve the older ways of living. Out of this clash of cultures, the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements were born. In the late 19th and early 20th century, persecution in Europe prompted more than two million Jews to immigrate to the United States. Sects: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Hasidic, and others Members in USA and the world: 13.2 million Jews worldwide as of 2007; 6,150,000 in the USA
Parents are, I’m not 8% !"#$ Teachers: Are you a member of a %&$ religious community? No 14 % %&'$()*"$
December 23, 2008
Beliefs: Muslims believe in one God, and believe that God communicated the Qu’ran, the fundamental teachings of Islam, to the prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Muslims observe the Five Pillars of Islam: Shahadah, a submission that there is only one god and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God; Shalah, or ritual prayer which must be performed five times a day; !"#$ Zakat, or alms-giving; Sawm, or fasting during the month of Ramadan; Haij, which is the pilgrimage %&$ to the city of Mecca. '()"*+#$()",$-./$*&+$ History: Following Muhammad’s first recitations of the Qu’ran the Islam world spread from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Central Asia in the east. Civil war then engulfed the Muslim world due to disputes over political leadership, precipitating the split of Islam into the Sunni and Shi’a sects. During the 19th century, Islamic dynasties such as the Ot-
tomans and the Mughals fell under European powers. In the 20th century, new religious and political movements have led to rebirth as well as conflict. Sects: Sunni, Shi’a, Sufism Members in USA and world: There are between 1 billion to 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world. In US: estimates range from 3 million to 9 million for the American Muslim population.
Beliefs: Hinduism is a huge and diverse religious tradition, and the beliefs of people who identify as Hindu run the gamut from atheism to monotheism to polytheism and many others in between. Most Hindus, though, believe in the concepts of karma, ethical duties known as dharma, and reincarnation. History: Hinduism traces its roots to the Vedas, ancient texts which first appeared between 1700 and 1100 BCE. Over the next two millennia, Hinduism expanded across India and Sanskrit literary culture blossomed. Between the eighth century CE and 1674, India was ruled by the Muslim Mughal dynasty, and many Hindus converted to Islam. Hindu emperors ruled India until it was occupied by Britain, and Hindu revivalist movements were a large factor in the Indian overthrow of British rule. Sects: Hindus are categorized based on which deity they believe is supreme; there are Vaishnavas, Shaivites, Shaktas, and Smartists. Members in USA and world: 900 million Hindus worldwide; 1,204,560 Hindus in the United States as of 2007
Beliefs: Karma, Rebirth (defined by a cycle of suffering that must be broken to achieve enlightenment), the Middle Way. History: 500 BCE Siddhartha Guatama sees the suffering of his people, renounces his royal life and becomes an ascetic; discovers the Middle Way and becomes enlightened before his death around 400 BCE. Sects: Theravada and Mahayana (each divided into many subschools) Members in USA and world: 230-500 members worldwide
Beliefs: Atheism isn’t a religion; it’s a philosophical position that states that there is no God. Some atheists simply do not believe in any supernatural being, while others explicitly believe that there are no supernatural beings. Atheism can mean a belief or the absence of a belief. Types: Atheists differ in the rationales they use to justify their beliefs (or lack thereof). Members in USA and world: About 2.4% of the world’s population is atheist, while about 2% of the United States population is atheist.
Beliefs: Agnostics believe in the philosophical idea that the true value of claims regarding religion, gods, the afterlife, etc. is unknown and inherently impossible to prove or disprove. Agnosticism is considered a middle ground between atheism and theism. History: “Agnostic” was introduced by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869 to describe his philosophy which rejects all claims to spiritual or mystical knowledge. Types: Agnostic philosophies vary over questions of the ability to objectively verify any experience, over whether the existence or nonexistence of god is necessarily unknowable, and whether one can believe in a deity without knowing the existence of the deity. Members in USA and world: Agnosticism is usually grouped under Atheism.
December 23, 2008
Torah, the heart of Judaism Naomi Hachen
Class of 2009
Most of my friends know that I only wear skirts, never invite me out Friday nights, and understand why I don’t touch boys. As an Orthodox Jew, these are all lifestyle choices that I have made, and it is easy for others to define me by these choices. But to me, Judaism is much more than actions. Yes, it helps form my values—family, education, respect…—but those are only part of its foundation. Yes, it gives me guidelines and restrictions—keeping kosher, observing Shabbat, praying—but those are only how it manifests itself. Really, Judaism is a way of life. I am a part of thousands of years of this tradition. When I learn Torah, I am studying the same words that Jews have pondered for centuries, and when I pray, my mouth forms the same sounds Jews have formed through times of triumph and times of persecution. And more than even connecting me to people across land masses and centuries, Judaism connects me to God. I’ve noticed that people rarely talk about God. The truth is everyone has their own ideas about God, and leaps of faith do not come naturally or easily. But through amazing mentors, ranging from my sister and friends to counselors and teachers, I have been encouraged to immerse myself in Torah, the heart of Judaism.
Religion & Spirituality
I have been struck time and time again with the importance of studying Torah. For me it is a divine work, God’s words on parchment. If I ever doubt its divinity, I need only to engage in a conversation with several other Jews, whatever their background, equally interested in Torah study. Each person can see him- or herself in it, and each person takes a different meaning from it. The Torah does not come to life with a light skim. It takes discussion, interest and questions. You can study each word or its general concepts; you can study it with commentary or through poetry; you can study it in a historical context or read it as a brilliant piece of literature. But whatever my approach has been and whomever I have studied with, the Torah’s incredible meaning makes me a more thoughtful person, and something about its study creates a bond between me and my fellow studier. Each person understands the Torah differently and takes from it their own meaning. I study the Torah and learn to call myself Orthodox. Others study it and learn different things—that’s why there are so many divisions even within Orthodoxy. When it comes down to it, though, Orthodoxy is just a label. It does not mean that I am more knowledgeable or care more about Judaism than others. I have learned about my heritage and religion and chosen to call myself Orthodox—others have learned the same and chosen to label themselves otherwise. The most important thing to me is not that label—it does not reflect fully who you are. Rather, it is the learning, the ability to choose that label, that is important to me and makes me the Jew that I am.
Is there really a God?
Class of 2010
Many people aren’t aware that there exists a middle ground between religion and atheism. It’s called Agnosticism. An agnostic is defined as “a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena,” or “a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God,” and that’s what I consider myself. I was raised Presbyterian. I was baptized. I went to Sunday school and attended church services. I was confirmed (officially made a member of the church) when I was 13, then shortly after stopped going. I agree with many things that religion preaches—be kind to your neighbor, love everybody and such—but the whole organization just does not work for me. Each time I went to church, I left a bit more disillusioned, even though the services were aimed at inspiring faith. I know that religion does a lot of good for people, and I admire it for that, though the blatant corruption in the past still does bother me. If church is meant to inspire people to ask questions, it certainly worked for me. Instead of paying full attention to the preacher, I’d wonder: Is there really a God? If there is, why should I constantly praise Him? If I dedicate my life to Him and don’t enjoy it, isn’t that wasting the gift He has given? In being selfless to please God, aren’t I being selfish? Am I not just trying to get into Heaven? If God forgives everything, what’s to prevent sin? If God is all-loving, won’t He
love me, whatever I do? If not, why doesn’t He practice what He preaches? I know people turn to religion to answer questions, but for me it raises more questions than it answers. In the end, I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the universe and what created it, so why should I devote my life to something a human mind came up with? There were too many contradictions embedded in religion for my liking. Of course, my brother (now taking a philosophy class) tells me that life itself is contradictory so it doesn’t matter if religion is, so in that sense my argument’s worthless. However, that’s his personal philosophy, and that’s what it comes down to: personal philosophy. Another thing that bothers me about religion is blanket rules: fast on this day, wear this type of clothing, and whatnot. If you truly feel like you’re cleansing your soul or whatever ( I confess I’m not well versed in Judaism) when you fast, then go ahead and do it. But if it just makes you hungry and distracted, why bother? Why not do something that has meaning for you? In that sense organized religion bothers me—religion and beliefs should be more personal than that. I don’t care whether other people believe in God or not—I’m not going to try and persuade them otherwise. All in all, religion plays a very minor role in my life now, though my house has a Christmas tree. I’ve been dragged back to church a few times by my family, but it hasn’t changed my views. I know many teenagers go through a phase of disbelief, so maybe I’ll grow out of it. I’ll see. For now, I’m completely comfortable saying I’m agnostic. Many of my friends are, and those who aren’t don’t mind; I certainly don’t have quasi-missionaries trying to convert me. If I get inspired later in life, I’ll convert myself.
A rejection of the supernatural Niklas Thompson
Class of 2009
It all started with those little candles that Lutheran churches hand out during Christmas services. Small impatient child I was (I think I was around eight or nine years old), I found the flame of the candle far more interesting than the moralizing of the service. Engrossed, soon I discovered that by tilting the candle ever so slightly, hot wax would drip from the tip, cooling and forming crude molds upon whatever it fell. The dripping was intoxicating. Soon I had dripped upon anything I could get my hands on: the benches, the service program, my hands, the Bible. (I receive sharp reprimands from soiling the last of these objects). I guess my point is that, as a young child, I was never really indoctrinated into Lutheranism. The more I aged, the more resentful I became of being dragged to church (I was a n ungrateful brute; we only ever went to church on Christmas and Easter), and the more critical I grew of organized religion. Atheism, for me, is not merely a rejection of organized religion; rather, it is a firm denial of the supernatural, in a way, a form of materialism. Personally, I see no reason to give credence to the idea that there is something that exists outside of nature, nor to the texts that claim to be derived from such an entity. Ev-
Places of Worship in Lower Merion Township Graphic by Sam Blum/Staff
erything that occurs in our world stems from acts of either man, or nature; if this is true, why should we look outside of our reality? I find it unreasonable to claim that a supernatural entity exists when there is such a profound lack of material evidence to support this claim. There are some who argue that this lack of proof is explained by the virtue of the supernatural being supernatural; something outside of nature cannot be explained in the confines of reality. For these people, the key to religious belief is faith. Faith I cannot understand; I cannot subscribe to something that requires blind belief. To me, the “leap of faith” required by religion is an unexplained, illogical, and an ill-advised leap into the darkness, something
contrary to all my past experiences. This is not to say that religion is a cruel, misinformed system; on the contrary, I think that the grand majority of religions are, on the whole, organizations that have real merit. They have merit as community organizations that give solidarity to their members and support their localities. They have merit as organizations that instill a comprehensive (and progressive) set of morals in their followers. They have merit as organizations that preserve rich cultural histories. The reason why I discredit religion is because they perpetuate a belief in the supernatural that I cannot condone. It is this, in my opinion, misguided, belief in the supernatural that encourages the formation
of the extremist religious groups, and individuals, that cause so much chaos in the modern world (consider religion-motivated terrorism in the Middle East or our own domestic Westboro Baptist Church). Granted, these radical offshoots from the largely benign mainstream religions constitute an incredibly small minority. But, in a world where communication is so easy, and where our scientific knowledge increases daily, I see no reason why religious belief must be a part of our local solidary groups, or our cultural heritage groups, or our efforts to create a set of moral values. Personally, I believe that the negativity that spawns from religion, however small it may be, is reason enough to do away with it.
December 23, 2008
Religion & Spirituality
Religion through the eyes of LM students
Self-reflection, humility and thoughtfulness: Greek Orthodoxy Isaac Smith Class of 2009 The biggest difference between the Christianity I practice and other denominations is the fusion of national and religious identity. It is not only my duty to represent and honor the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church but also those of my Greek heritage. The dilemmas and controversies which inevitably follow such a calling is what I and roughly 1.5 million other people (including several others in our school) like to call being Greek Orthodox. Much to my dismay, however, I cannot write extensively about the travails we ethnic Greeks have in this austere, Anglo land. Nor am I the only one; the demographics of Greek Orthodox parishes around the country are changing. We are not as
fresh off-the-boat as we once were. The diaspora epicenters that were once the big three cities in the Northeast, then Chicago and San Francisco, have sprawled out to include the rest of the country, and in turn, its values and people (take notice of my name, for example). While my generation still enjoys the company of the yiayias (grandmothers) and papous (grandfathers) who emigrated from Greece and have so strongly enriched our identity as Greek-Americans, they are not getting any younger, and when they die, there is a chance the “Greek” part of our collective identity will go with them. Fortunately, there is hope in not actually knowing what will happen, for, as stated earlier, so much of our religion carries our culture. Every church service is conducted in Greek and will continue to be for as long as there is a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This plays a vital role in maintaining the Greek identity of our parishioners. Ethnic groups maintain their native culture more effectively when they maintain fluency in their native tongue. I, for example, speak no Greek, as is characteristic of third generation children of immigrants. I do, however, understand as much
Judiasm: a place for me culturally and spiritually
possess the very same homeland and speak the very same language as we did back in the time before Class of 2009 the Common Era. How many people do you know who can brag Why am I Jewish? The simple about that? answer would be because my Many, actually, here at LM. I’m mother is Jewish, and my mother’s fortunate enough to have grown up mother is Jewish. But Judaism in one of the most predominantly is more to me Jewish neighborhoods in the counthan just an try. And although I often take for inheritance; granted the time off from school we it is a spiritu- get for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipal and cultur- pur and Passover—days I would be al movement forced to miss for services at other that pulses high schools—I wouldn’t trade my through my hometown for the world. The liberty b l o o d , m y I have to believe in one omnipotent veins and my God, lead in USY and express my very soul. Jewish values is a unique freedom Now this sounds slightly ri- in high school. Anywhere else in diculous, don’t get me wrong. But America I would feel uncomfortI can’t explain it any other way. able wearing my Hebrew tee-shirts The music of Kol Nidre—music I and Israel-supporting sweatshirts. listened to on my iPod nonstop the But here, be it a Camp Ramah teeentire month leading up to Yom shirt or a kippah, here I can wear Kippur—resonates through my whatever Jewish garb I want. body with a haunting melody that It is sad that so many Jewish teenperfectly captures my devotion to agers at LM don’t take advantage of the Jewish faith. Kol Nidre, the plea these enormous opportunities in our of forgiveness for our unfulfilled kehillah, our community; between promises, is one of the oldest melo- USY, NFTY, BBYO, Jewish Comdies of Judaism, carried through the munity High School, Camp Ramah ages during times of exile from the and Camp Galil, there’s a place for Temple in Jerusalem and persecu- every Jew to feel comfortable and tion in concentration camps. It bears get involved in Jewish life. Don’t the stories of our ancestors and af- wait until someone asks you “Why firms the strength of our people. are you Jewish?” to really examine This history, ranging from the your heritage. Because Judaism time of Abraham to the conver- is not only history—it’s spiritualsion of Ruth and the reign of King ity, it’s culture, and it’s tradition. David, is why Judaism takes a spe- Whether you identify Judaism with cial place in my heart. How many your mother’s matzah balls or your people do you know who can say endless Pesach seder, find your Jewexactly where their ancestors came ish identity. I promise that there is, from? Ask a Jew his lineage and and there will always be, a place he will respond, “My ancestors for you in the Jewish kehillah of are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, the world. Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.” Jews
Greek as is used during church services and in the commands hollered at me by elders during social events. Thus it is safe to say that my religion has not only saved me from the eternal pits of hell but also from complete ignorance of Greek culture and language. While I say this half-jokingly, it is true that many Greeks attend church for both spiritual and cultural reasons, myself included. Though I feel religion is deeply personal, and even consider it in bad taste to discuss my faith, mild discussion of it cannot be avoided in the context of this article. Firstly, I am neither a scholar nor a perfect observant of my religion. That being said, I am attracted to the Orthodox Church for its emphasis on self-reflection, humility, and thoughtfulness. I find that the church impresses upon the parishioners concepts of unlimited forgiveness and charity, and expecting nothing in return. Most importantly, I find that the Orthodox Church, as represented by the Priests and Metropolitans (our form of Bishops) and Saint commemorations, really appreciates complex and moral dilemmas portrayed in the Bible, and uses those parables to make sense of our lives rather than have our lives make sense of the Bible.
Love God, love others
Class of 2009 I consider myself to be a part of the Christian faith, meaning that I believe in God and his Son Jesus Christ, and I believe in the Word of God, the Bible. My faith has definitely shaped my life in several ways, mostly having to do with the way I treat others. There is actually a bible verse that says “Learn to do good! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). To do these things on a continual basis and to love others are my life-long goals. My faith also has a lot to do with my political
views and the party I associate with, but I try not to let my views separate me from friends and from people who hold beliefs that differ from mine. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become a lot more “normal” for me to talk about my faith and about what I believe in school and with people who I don’t know very well. When I was in elementary school, I thought that I was literally the only Christian in the school. That was extremely intimidating; however, as I’ve grown up I’ve realized that people around here are extremely accepting, even though my views differ from the vast majority. I do feel like some don’t quite understand my faith, and most probably lump me in with a large group of dime-a-dozen “Christians.” So I’ll make it simple. Yes, I do go to church every Sunday and I DO consider myself to be a “Non-Denominational Christian,” however, my faith stretches far beyond a name or a label. My “religion” is this: Love God, Love Others.
Majority in America; Minority at LM Dan Saris
Class of 2009
My mom is a white Anglo-Saxon; my dad is Protestant. That makes me the supermajority in America. I’m a WASP. I’m a bred WASP, but nonetheless a WASP. It’s funny being a majority in America, and yet a minority in Lower Merion. Specifically, I’m Episcopalian. Episcopalians are kind of like laid back Catholics. We’re fine with divorce, condoms, and homosexuality. In fact, the rector at my church, St. Mary’s of Ardmore, is a lesbian. My time at St. Mary’s has been a major part of my life. I spent every Sunday morning in Sunday school and church, and last summer I went on a pilgrimage to Ireland with my group mates. That pilgrimage was what Sunday school is all about. You spend ten years learning about Christianity and the last three years you have in Sunday school finding ways to raise near $10,000
for your overseas trip. Now don’t start thinking that it’s just a vacation for us. We really did have spiritual experiences on our trip, and so did all of my brothers before me. It might not explicitly be religious growth, but everyone comes home from their pilgrimage as a more mature, more devoted Christian. I came back as an Episcopalian, and I am pretty sure I will be for the rest of my life. I’m an Episcopalian, but at Lower Merion, that doesn’t mean much. Religion has never seemed like an intense issue here. Very few students, if any, are, for lack of a better term, obnoxious about their beliefs. I’ve never felt isolated or looked down upon for my religion. Whenever my faith comes up in conversation, most people are first amazed I’m not Jewish. Then curiosity kicks in: “So what’s church like?” It’s weird how esoteric church seems to others, when it’s part of the routine for me. If you look at any religion, they’re all pretty much the same. Be nice to your neighbors, love your family and friends, don’t lie and be a good person. If you do all of this, you will have a good afterlife. There is no reason to fuss about the little nuances between this religion and that. Can’t we all just get along? It’s what He/She would really want.
December 23, 2008
Religion & Spirituality
Mark Levy on the Separation of Church and State
LM’s theology teacher offers a unique perspective on a contentious issue Theology teacher Mark Levy, who grew up in England, talked to The Merionite about his views on the separation of church and state. As told to Liz Jacobs Religion is not democratic, so seen on its face value, to exclude religion from the system is a good idea. You don’t want to add something non-democratic into a democratic system. But when you restrict something, instead of trying to change things from within, it will change them from without. In Europe, in most countries, we have an official religion, with obvious religious toleration, there’s no issue of that. The people who are religious don’t feel that they need to bang on the door of Parliament or Congress or the President or the Prime Minister or whatever it is to get their voices heard, because there is an official religion, and religions get
money from the state, and religions have official placement in the state, they’re already in the system and they don’t need to fight against it. What you have in America, I think, is because they’re so desperate to put this wall between religion and the state, that religious people feel like they’re being excluded. I’m not religious, but religious people feel like they’re being excluded. And therefore they shout louder, they form their own groups, and they form protest groups against the system or lobbying groups against the system as religious groups, because they’re excluded. So, for example, every politician in America has to explain how religious they are. Five of, I think, nine candidates for the Republican nomination [for president] at least claimed that they didn’t believe in evolution, because they wanted to appeal to those people. Whereas in England, Tony Blair did make an oblique reference to God’s will to do war, but everyone laughed at it, and Margaret Thatcher twenty years ago made a reference to God and, again, everybody ridiculed her, and politicians in Europe don’t [really mention] God, a n d y e t t h e r e ’s no separation of church and state. T h e r e ’s r e l i g i o n everywhere in this country, because
Art by Leah Rosenblum/Staff
you separate church and state, and therefore the people who are religious feel like they need to throw their religion out there. If church and state weren’t separated, they wouldn’t feel that need; it’d be much more comfortable. You try to include things in a democracy; you want as many voices heard as possible, even if they aren’t democratic voices.… I think it’s much more, for me, to do with the atmosphere of the country. It’s interesting to me that you have separation of church and state in this country, yet this country is more religious than basically any other Western democracy. I think there’s a connection between the two, so if you are against religion, as most people who seem to be in favor of separation of church and state seem to be… it would seem to me that the European model, the Canadian model, the Australian model—it would seem to imply that what you should in fact do is not separate church and state, and that would increase secularism
Art by Marine Kambara/Staff
in the country. And then the president wouldn’t have to tell you what religion he is every five seconds.… I think we should be including religion in our lives in a positive way, and let religions promote themselves; and at the same time, I think we should be ridiculing and arguing against religions and not make them precious things that can’t be offended, either. It works both ways. Because we separate church and state, we also don’t have a chance to criticize religion. And religion should be just as open to criticism as liberalism, socialism, capitalism and fascism. It’s just an ideology that people believe in, and it should be as open to ridicule or criticism as anything else. Again, by separating, we don’t afford ourselves a chance to do that, either. … You criticize religion—you can’t do that. If you criticized my belief in democracy, why is it any different? … Everything’s fair game. And I think that’s a truly liberal view.
The switch from religious to secular school
L. Rosenbloom/E. Saltzberg
Class of ’11/’09 Although 74% of students surveyed told The Merionite that they feel at least “moderately comfortable” discussing religion in school, religion isn’t really a big part of life at LM; mostly, teachers and students avoid much discussion of religious matters. For many students, this is natural, but some LMers have experienced another way of doing things. They made their decisions for different reasons, but most say they wouldn’t have done it any other way. Senior Aaron Glickman, who moved into Bala Cynwyd Middle School from Perelman Jewish Day School in sixth grade, said, “It was a little difficult to make friends when I had to do Shabbat stuff Friday night and Saturday...when most kids just hung out.” Despite this initial trouble, Aaron does not regret his decision. “I wouldn’t [switch back], I like public school. More fun.” As might be expected, the religious schools formerly attended by LMers instructed students in religious
matters as well as secular ones. Some students interviewed felt that this compromised the quality of their education. “The secular education [at LM] is much better than the private school…probably because half the day was devoted to religious studies,” said Glickman, “but it would have been really nice to be able to keep studying Hebrew at LM.” Senior Shauna Pierson concurs. “I do miss studying Hebrew, but I already seem to have such a busy workload and I could never imagine sacrificing any of my classes to take Bible Studies for example. So, how do the kids at Jewish day school manage when they only have half a day to cram in everything we do in a full day?” “Freshman and sophomore years, I went to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bryn Mawr,” said senior Emily King, “and the … most important reason [I transferred] was just because LM, compared to my old school, had so many more opportunities for me in terms of academics and extracurriculars.”
And LM’s diversity extends farther than academics and extracurriculars; several former religious-school attendees cited the wide variety of people at public school as another reason they’re happy they made the switch. Senior Adam Hoch, who also transferred to BCMS from Perelman, said, “Getting to know not-Jewish kids made me different and unique.” Though she approached it from the opposite side of the religious divide, King has had a similar experience. “I had never actually met a Jewish person before in my life, and now I can probably say that the majority of my friends are Jewish, so I just love the fact that everyone at LM is different and there are so many great people.” All in all, people who have transferred to LM from religious schools are glad they did. But that doesn’t mean they discount religious education on the whole. Pierson summed up her thoughts this way: “I absolutely adore Lower Merion and I can’t image having a better high school experience, but religious school is definitely valuable, so I am glad I got to experience that, too.”
December 23, 2008
Charitable Gifts: Spreading the Holiday Cheer C.Hua/H. Goldberg-Morse
Class of 2010
This holiday season, amidst all the gifts we may receive, it is important to think of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And as much as we enjoy our much lusted-after Apple products, brand-name clothing, and other highend gear, we should also feel guilty and uncomfortable when we turn on our TVs, pick up magazines, and check our emails, hearing stories of the people whose deprivation provides a stark contrast to the excesses of the holiday season—in our communities, in our country, and around the world. But the best of both worlds are combined when retailers make great gifts with charitable intentions. And this holiday season, with the economy dragging, there is really no better time to truly help the needy. For the beautyproduct aficionado in your life, check out the LUSH Charity Pot. The hand and body cream is not only scented with floral undertones, it’s also made out of Fair Trade cocoa butter, which guarantees equitable payments and acceptable working conditions in all levels of production. Even better, unlike some other companies’ products that give only a portion of the proceeds to charity, LUSH keeps absolutely none of your money. That’s right— the entire selling price of the item will be donated to support animal rights and environmental protection. Charity Pots can be ordered online or purchased at the LUSH store on Walnut Street.
Photos courtesy of Google Images
A less expensive gift option is the “Believe in You” green tea flavored lip balm manufactured by Pin Up Lip Balm. Priced at just five dollars, all net proceeds from this product go towards Count Me In. The organization specifically supports entrepreneurial women all around the globe. In addition to providing resources and education to women, Count Me In ultimately strives to help women achieve economic independence. For a little more sparkle in your smile, try MAC’s Viva Glam lipsticks, lip “glasses,” or lipstick palettes—every cent of the selling price goes to the MAC Aids Fund. F o r those w h o e s chew makeup, a Kiva gift certificate makes a great present. Granted, gift certificates are hardly original, but this is not any average gift card. Kiva’s motto? Loans that change lives. Many aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries lack the start-up capital needed to begin their businesses. Their stories are posted on the Kiva website, and individuals and groups can invest in these promising businesses. A Kiva gift certificate can be as little as $25 (or as much as $5000), and will truly change someone’s life. The recipient of the card can choose the lucky entrepreneur. And the gift is everlasting- as the loans are repaid, new aspiring entrepreneurs can be chosen. While more expensive, another gift option is the XO laptop. The One Laptop Initiative program provides a great way to give a laptop—something many of us take for granted—to disadvantaged children who don’t have access to such technology. For $399, two XO laptops can be bought: one for you and one for a child in need. The laptop is loaded with tons
of cool and practical features. For example, it’s solar powered, for children who attend school miles away from any electrical source, and it’s heavy plastic exterior makes it virtually indestructible. If you don’t need a laptop for yourself, a laptop for a child costs only 200 bucks. Just looking for some stocking
stuffers? How about a pair of school uniforms or mosquito nets? Through Oxfam America’s “Unwrapped” site, you can buy either. The nonprofit organization offers a plethora of different gifts, from beaded jewelry to a goat or donkey, for purchase. The downside, of course, is that you never actually receive these products- they go towards communities with which Oxfam works. The upside, though, is that they provide essential or helpful items to those who need them, and come with a card for the donor. For someone with a sweet tooth,
to fund Relief’s women’s center in Darfur. One option is the exquisite African chocolate collection, a five-piece box of chocolates flavored with ingredients like caramelized plantains, cardamom, and coconut. Also included with each order is one of Relief’s “Breads for Darfur” bracelets. All proceeds go directly towards funding the only women’s center in Darfur. This holiday season, kill two birds with one stone. Go out and give (or get!) presents that you love, but at the same time, make sure they support charity. That way, we all feel a little less guilty when all the presents are unwrapped and someone out there has benefited from our gifts. WHERE TO FIND THEM: 1.LUSH Charity Pot, $21; lushusa. com, 1428 Walnut Street, Philadelphia 2. Pin Up lip balm, $5; pinupbalm. com/countmein 3. MAC Viva Glam, $14-23; maccosmetics.com, many department stores 4. Kiva gift certificate, $25-5,000; available at kiva.org 5. XO laptop, $200/400; laptop.org 6. Oxfam Unwrapped gifts, $1810,000; oxfamamericaunwrapped.com
Compartes has just the product. The ultra-luxe California-based chocolate emporium has a new partnership with Relief International, which helps
Graphic by Sam Blum/Staff
In light of recent events, The Merionite felt the need to publish an addendum to last month’s “Cold Stone Mystery.” On Thursday, December 4, the Cold Stone Creamery of Suburban Square miraculously reopened, much to the surprise and delight of its LM fans. While the employees cannot be quoted directly, they have insisted that the store was forced to close temporarily because of management concerns but is now back in business for good.
7. Compartes’ African Chocolate Collection, $20; compartes.com
December 23, 2008
Too cool for school: J.B. Haglund Kyra Sutton
Class of 2009
stress-free approach to the application proA note to the overachievers who may be cess remains unchanged: “I would advise reading this article: there is a teacher in our you to ignore it as much as possible.” He midst who sees right through you. Don’t suggests applying to “three or four schools let this interfere with your daily routine— max” and using the remaining time on your five APs, thrice-hourly Powerschool your hands to cherish high school—which checks, and the smile you plaster on your he asserts, “really is a pretty good time.” exhausted face day after day to impress the And for those students who would care to teachers who control your collegiate destiny. disagree? Don’t bother looking forward to Although English teacher J.B. Haglund college, your salvation from this rotten pit claims he finds this “impressive,” as a natuof adolescence. “You will be complaining rally talented student who “never tried that about the same things there as you do here,” hard in school,” he also finds it somewhat Haglund warns, “so spending all your time amusing. After all, in his first year teaching now imagining this idyllic world somewhere AP English Language, Haglund has already else is a huge waste of your time.” Good to formed an analogy for you hard-working know. After all, “Haverford was a lot more hooligans: “Some students are to academics work than Brentwood High School was, what gym-tryers are to gym.” Disclaimer: but it was also populated with a lot more “don’t get offended, guys!” lame people who complained a LOT more As if we’re about all the work surprised enough to they weren’t doing take offense. Any(they were too busy one who has ever complaining).” conversed with HaBut rather than glund is probably busy himself comnow well aware of plaining, Haglund the white, privileged has occupied his time enclave that is Lowdeveloping his prower Merion, and can ess in a multitude probably guess at of areas. Despite the Brentwood High his affinity for EngSchool of his past—a lish, Haglund is far public school in Tenfrom the stereotype nessee whose maof the bearded, inteljor difference from lectual recluse. Yes, Lower Merion is that he’s still bearded, its students “never but his love of bikhad to think about ing, running, religion college.” and— believe it or “Just kidding,” not—singing, make Haglund concedes, him quite the Renaisbut “there wasn’t sance man. Photo by Esther Hoffman/Staff much stress and go Haglund’s preMr. Haglund keepin’ it real. ing to games was ferred mode of transawesome, especially Friday night football portation is biking—in fact, he bikes to games.” But, somehow, the carefree student school every day. However efficient biking “got lucky” and landed a spot at Haverford may be, Mr. Haglund’s athleticism has College, a highly regarded liberal arts insti- always been directed into competitive runtution, “without thinking about it or trying ning. The former Haverford College runner as hard as most of you guys try today.” His and current LM Girls and Boys Indoor Track
coach still able should you care to tries to run ask Haglund yourself, about 10 he will allow that he miles a day. thinks “a lot of students I am m i s feel like the ‘hip’ thing taken in my to do is to be an atheassumption ist.” Whether deemed that he must unhip or not, religion find it someobviously plays a role what pleasfor the English teacher, ant— “I don’t who says “I actually try really enjoy to live my life in such running by a way that it demonitself, moststrates my religious ly it evokes feelings pretty clearly feelings of so I don’t feel the need pain and to talk about it, again boredom,” unless people have he tells me. questions.” The real reaMr. Haglund’s exson behind pertise must also extend the 10 mile to the love department, habit? “I am as he was recently mara very comPhoto by Esther Hoffman/Staff ried. I wondered on bepetitive person,” Haglund half of his students why explains, “and I still have hopes of competing they did not receive a sought-after invite to seriously for a few more years before I transi- the soiree. Haglund answered me with an tion into racing exclusively on Mr. Ghodsi’s equation: “if (My wife’s family’s money) + old Mercury TT bike.” (my family’s money) + (my wife’s money) So Haglund defies high school norms + (my money) = not very much, and (my as we know them: he is both an athlete and desire to go on a honeymoon) > (my desire intellect. Hard to imagine that the young to pay to fly my students to New Hampshire teacher could possibly possess any other tal- for the wedding), then the Haglund property ents, but he certainly does! The little-known is once again proven true.” What exactly, gift? His voice. When I inquired as to his you may wonder, is the Haglund propcurrent musical obsession, Haglund men- erty? Why, of course, that “Mr. Haglund tioned that he’d been listening to Handel’s is clearly more interested in his own selfish Messiah quite often, “because I am singing it desires than making his students happy in a choir in a couple weeks and particularly and is a selfish, selfish, horrible man.” It’s since I am singing tenor instead of bass, I pretty similar to his philosophy on Faceneed a lot of practice.” book friend-ing students, which is that he And so with all these skills to harness, will “start friend-ing my students as soon Haglund once again defies our expectations as there is a legitimate reason for doing so for the typical liberal intellectual—rather than and that reason outweighs all the potential turning to atheism, he has embraced religion. negatives.” He claims, however, to have a “I’ve always felt like people will ask if they “backlog of requests and a few angry notes really want to know, so I don’t generally bring threatening me for not friend-ing people.” it up,” he tells me, “it surprises a lot of kids Rather than feel disturbed by this array of to find out that I am ‘a Mormon.’” Though online predators, Haglund admits honestly, the details about his own beliefs are avail- “it is nice to feel wanted.”
The igloo: inside the winter wonder
Class of 2011 Winter is arriving. This means only one thing to LM students: snow days. Besides getting out of classes for an entire day, there’s something about snowball fights and hot chocolate that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy. And with every snow fight comes the challenge of fort building, an art that has been passed from generation to generation. King of all forts, the igloo sits upon its snowy throne adorned with ice blocks and intricate designs. But what is it about these Inuit structures that make them so fantastic? How can mere Pennsylvanians mimic their elaborate construction? Perhaps the coolest part of the igloo (or iglu in Inuit) is that the structure is made entirely of ice, yet is designed for warmth. In this seemingly contradictory method of building, a series of snow blocks are used to build a dome, starting
with nearly flat pieces. Placed in a circle, popular belief, authentic igloos are rather the blocks gradually incease in size and cozy. Most are lined with fur and blankets are piled on top of one another in a spiral. to help retain warmth, although these Initially, the design might not measures are unnecessary since seem particularly stable, snow has amazing insulatas the blocks are simply ing properties. The tunnel leaning on one another connected to the igloo is to stay together, but a often a vital part of igproperly made igloo loo design because can support a full it traps the cold grown man standa i r. T h i s e n ing on top of it! trance tunnel One cause of the is actually igloo’s strength is built below a traditional lamp ground level called a kulliq. Art by Esther Hoffman/Staff and the livWhile using the igloo, the Inuit ing quarters are people light the lamp in order to built above it, slightly melt the inside of the house. The considering heat’s tendency to rise. ice then freezes again, strengthening the Unfortunately for LM students, our walls and insulating the interior. region doesn’t often receive enough snow Most people assume that igloos are un- for snowball fights, let alone igloo concomfortable and unsafe. But contrary to struction. Winter architecture requires
a vast amount of snow of the right consistency. If the right conditions are not present, here are a few suggestions on how to scrap together an igloo: The key is packing snow. The best place to find good snow is on the corners of streets after the ploughs go by. Even after useful snow is acquired, it usually isn’t cold enough to make individual blocks. A shortcut, though, is to build a giant hill of snow. After packing down the snow as firmly as possible, you can carve a hole near the base and carefully hollow out the entire mound. This results in a comfortably sized and custom-made original igloo that can house you until the snow melts. When the next snow day comes around, be adventurous and build an igloo. There are no guarantees you’ll win the snowball fight, but you’ll definitely have the best fort—and the most multicultural one!
December 23, 2008
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
B red over winter break? Chris Frederick
Class of 2009
I won’t be here over winter break—look for me in a cabin in Willow, Alaska. But don’t despair if you can’t get in on the dogsledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling; Philly and our own lovely suburbs have plenty to offer while school’s out. Here are a few ideas: Ice skating If, like me, you last tried ice skating ten years ago, you can give it another go this winter break. The Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing is open until February. Don’t break your face. When: All winter break, including Christmas and New Year’s Day Where: Columbus Boulevard and Market Street, at Penn’s Landing If you don’t feel like trekking to Philly, the Philadelphia Skating Club & Humane Society offers public skating on Friday nights, and is conveniently located in Ardmore. When: Fridays, 8:30-10 p.m. Where: 220 Holland Avenue, Ardmore Sing-along in the suburbs Sometimes the R5 is scary. Sometimes people need to sing. For those two reasons, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute will be putting on a three-hour sing-along to The Sound of Music! The Film Institute has some helpful costume ideas for potential
moviegoers: “wear a wimple, lederhosen, or even dress as ‘a drop of golden sun.’” Wimple-ful or wimple-less, the sing-along is an unusual opportunity to participate in an event the British already know and love—sing-alongs to the classic Julie Andrews movie, with subtitles to jog the memory, actually began in the UK in 1999. Join Julie Andrews and the von Trapp family this winter break for The Sound of Music. When: 12/23, 7 p.m. Where: Bryn Mawr Film Institute Macy’s Holiday Light Show Speaking of Julie Andrews, guess who narrated last year’s light show at Macy’s in Philadelphia? Yep. She did. Since 1955, the Wanamaker Building in Center City has been home to a holiday light show, with musical accompaniment provided by the Wanamaker Grand Organ. LED lights project an assortment of images on the four stories of the building’s atrium. Sunshine may be tough to find, but you’ll find plenty of light at Macy’s. Where: The Grand Court at Macy’s Center City, Market Street When: 11/28/2008 - 12/31/2008. Shows begin every hour. The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music Another Philadelphia tradition, Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker draws 50,000 people every year to the Academy of Music, formerly home to the Philadel-
phia Orchestra. Any current or former LM ballerinas will likely remember The Nutcracker, as will members of our orchestra, who performed excerpts from the ballet at the music department’s annual Winter Concert. When: 12/24 – 12/31 Where: The Academy of Music, at Broad and Locust Streets
Gogol Bordello Tired of listening to New Year’s Eve fireworks? Try a concert instead. Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello will perform at the Electric Factory, competing for fans with the admittedly less gypsy They Might Be Giants, which is putting on a show of its own the same night. When: 12/31 TMBG – 7:30 p.m. Gogol Bordello – 9 p.m. Where: TMBG – Theater of the Living Arts, South Street Gogol Bordello – The Electric Factory
New Year’s Eve Fireworks Deafening, colorful explosions? Yes! Catch twenty minutes of them at the New Year’s Eve fireThe Mummers Paworks show at rade Penn’s Landing On New Year’s Day, in Philadelphia. January 1, the 108th This show, the annual Mummers Palargest New rade will wind its way Year’s Eve firethrough Philadelphia. works display Parade participants, in the country, all members of New Photo courtesy of businesstravellogue.com can be enjoyed Year ’s Associations, on both sides of A group of Mummers compete in the fancy are judged on their perthe Delaware, in category of the New Year’s Day Parade. formance in one of four Philadelphia and ingeniously-named catin Camden. However, experts predict that egories: Comics, Fancies, String Bands, the show is 60% percent less enjoyable and Fancy Brigades. It turns out The when seen from New Jersey, attributing Mummers Parade is not just a Philadelphia this largely to the state of New Jersey classic, but classically rooted as well: some itself. have traced its origins back to the Roman When: 12/31 – 1/1, fireworks begin festival of Saturnalia, a week of irreverent 12 a.m. celebration dedicated to the god Saturn. Where: Penn’s Landing When: 1/1, 9 a.m. Live music: They Might Be Giants and Where: Market Street, Philadelphia
Girl Talk “feeds” its fans another hit Jake Wellens
with these copyrighted musical gifts. Well, he doesn’t exactly have the authorization. What he Poll the youth of America does have, however, is the exand ask them to name their ploitation of 100 favorite songs of all time. the greatest Manipulate them until they legal justifit together perfectly, and add fication of a beat that challenges your piracy, the mind’s control over your limbs. Fair Use What you have just created is a doctrine. Girl Talk album, and, accordFair Use ing to The New York Times allows the Magazine, “a lawsuit waiting use of unto happen.” authorized Girl Talk is really just Gregg copyrighted Gillis, from Pittsburgh, PA, and material if his laptop. Girl Talk’s third its use is album, Night Ripper, was the in no way first to hit the mainstream in detrimental Photo courtesy of dessertticket.blogspot.com 2006. In 2008, he released his to the effects, fourth and highly anticipated Gregg Gillis and his laptop perform as Girl Talk at a character, or album, Feed the Animals, which concert while excited fans dance around them. profit of the combines over 300 different original masamples into just 14 tracks. This terial. Gillis gives each song a new, multi- Roy Orbison, Pete Townshend, is technically protected by this dimensional feel that remains Twisted Sister, Huey Lewis and law, and has thus far remained unmatched by anything in the the News, Lil Mama, Ludacris, unchallenged. mainstream. Each song, no, and Jurassic 5, all within the first Anyway, the album does more each symphony, blends hip-hop two minutes and 36 seconds. And than mix some of our favorite with rock, pop, R&B, and oldies you know we ain’t done. Gregg songs; it unearths so many of to create a unique and uplifting Gillis blesses us with Birdman, those long-forgotten gems of the experience. Listening to Girl Rage Against the Machine, Aa- late 80’s and 90’s that we used Talk is unlike listening to any one liyah, T.I., Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and to love so much but never got song before it… because it’s like Edwin Starr samples within the around to putting on our iPods. listening to every song before it. last two minutes of the song. That “Oh yeah, I remember this Let me give you an example. You may be wondering how song!” moment is just another The first track on the album, he got the licenses to supply us part of the incredibly multiClass of 2011
“Play Your Part (Pt.1),” contains samples from 25 identified songs from recent to ancient music history. We got UGK, OutKast,
faceted Girl Talk experience. As those of you with siblings attending a New England liberal arts college may know, Gregg Gillis and his laptop are big on the college-concert scene. He is known for inviting fans on stage and removing his shirt in the process, and insane happenings are always expected at his concerts. There are many stories about fans breaking equipment, breaking through stage floors, and even, in one bizarre instance, having sex on stage. What makes the fans so crazy? The real answer
is probably a combination of alcohol and codeine, but I like to think it’s purely the music’s “danceability.” LM sophomores Emily Shepard and Sam Hollin both recently attended Girl Talk concerts, and had a few words to add. Shepard called the show, “Raw. It was a mosh-pit of sweaty, half-dressed bodies, all but fornicating, and all rocking and vibrating in stereo to Gregg Gillis’s fresh and funky beats.” Hollin claims the show, “had the energy of a hardcore rocking show with music you could actually dance to. It was nuts.” Girl Talk may not be the most emotional and inspirational pieces of auditory art, but it’s awesome party music. The ultimate party music. The tracks seem to flow together seamlessly with barely any silence in between them, as to avoid disturbing the entrancPhoto courtesy of pastemagazine.com ing effect of the music. It may not Girl Talk’s most recent album, Feed the Ani- move you to tears, mals, was named among Rolling Stone’s top al- but it will move bums of the year. you to the beat.
December 23, 2008
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
YouTube turns talented New CD Fierce? teens into celebrities Ariel Julian
Class of 2009
First, Beyoncé was Crazy in Love with a debut solo album that won the former Destiny’s Child leader much acclaim. Then she came out with B’Day, the Grammy-winning album targeted at anybody getting over a good-for-nothing ex. Now, her third studio album, I am…Sasha Fierce, produced by Columbia Records, is showing off a side of Beyoncé that nobody saw coming. Knowles worked on the album for a year prior to its release. She said she is more artistically involved in this album than any of her previous albums, having collaborated with many writers she hadn’t worked with before, emerging with what she thinks is a whole new personality. Completely veering off the B’Day route, Knowles takes all kinds of liberties with this album, introducing her alter ego Sasha Fierce. Though the “Fierce” persona caused some confusion among her fans, the new double album sheds light on Knowles’ dual-persona, with the two discs aptly titled I am…, and Sasha Fierce. “‘Sasha Fierce is my alter ego ... I have someone else that takes over when it’s time for me to work and when I’m on stage…The double album allows me to take more risks and really step out of myself, or shall I say, step more into myself, and reveal a side of me that only the people who know me see,’” said Knowles on her website. Upon listening to the two discs, it becomes very obvious that Disc I (I Photo courtesy of amazon.com am…) demonstrates much more delicate, Beyoncé as herself on the I am... emotional Beyoncé. side of her new double album. “‘That’s why half the record, I Am…, is about who I am underneath all the makeup, underneath the lights, and underneath all the exciting star drama,’” wrote Knowles on her official site. Songs like “Halo” (“Baby I can feel your halo/ Pray it won’t fade away”) and “That’s Why you’re Beautiful” (“And my heart used to be cold/ ‘Til your hands laid on my soul”) are filled with heartfelt emotion and powerful declarations of love. Tunes like “Ave Maria” took most of her fans by surprise by portraying an almost spiritual connection. “If I were a Boy,” Beyoncé’s first single from Disc I, was a fairly accurate representation of the rest of the songs on that side
Photo courtesy of amazon.com
Beyoncé as her on-stage persona Sasha Fierce. of the album: sappy ballads with a bit of a punch. Disc II (Sasha Fierce) oozes the attitude and sexuality missing from Disc I. The celebrity-status lyrics in “Diva” (“The female version of a hustler”) and the suggestive hints in “Video Phone” (“If you want me, you can watch me on your video phone”) are a little more “naughty girl” Beyoncé. “Sasha Fierce is the fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken side and more glamorous side that comes out when I’m working and when I’m on the stage,” said Knowles of her alter ego. It’s the bootylicious side of Beyoncé that she separates from her more intimate songs. This is what her fans anticipated. If you found yourself dancing around the room to her only single off of Disc II, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” then Disc II won’t disappoint you. If you enjoyed the two singles that came out, you will probably enjoy this album. However, if you’re expecting songs in the B’Day range, I am…Sasha Fierce is…underwhelming.
videos, they all have one thing in common: the results of their videos were much different than their initial goal. The result is instant fame, while most post on YouTube At the start of his junior year, Bo Burnham was a for fun, or in the hopes of some minor recognition. typical high school musician attending an all-boys But what makes these videos so special? What charCatholic school. Two years and fourteen satirical acteristics of these videos make them stand out from songs later, his name and YouTube, the site that made the other 100 million videos on YouTube? it all possible, are synonymous with American teenage Tay Zonday posted the infamous “Chocolate Rain” culture. song in 2006. The song, distinguished by Zonday’s Bo Burnham, whose songs unique deep voice and include “Bo Fo’ Sho’” and distinctive mannerisms, has landed him a record “I’m Bo Yo” is now writing a deal and numerous Inscreenplay with Judd Apatow, ternet awards. the now-famous producer It is not only the of The 40 Year Old Virgin, strange, however, that Superbad, and Knocked Up. gain popularity, but Burnham is just one example also the skilled. Ysaof the numerous individuals bella Brave first posted who have gained instant fame videos of herself singthrough YouTube. YouTube’s ing in 2006. She soon simple-to-use interface, easily gained a following, creatable profiles, and capaciPhoto courtesy of blog.wired.com which led to a record ty to global video sharing with the click of a button suddenly YouTube celebrity Bo Burnham now has a CD, Bo Fo contract with Cordless Recordings. transform regular Internet us- Sho, available on iTunes. It seems that the ers into celebrities. Besides Burnham, Brooke Brodack, Lisa Donovan, pattern between all these videos is uniqueness and and Chris Crocker have also gained fame through talent. The video must contain some individuality if it YouTube. Brodack started posting her comedic videos is going to capture a YouTube users’ interest. It must in late 2005 and is currently working in development also contain some sort of talent, be it humor, intellect, with NBC. Donovan created video parodies which have vocals, or anything in between. Now, thanks to Youtube, anyone has the ability to earned her a spot on MADtv, and Crocker is well-known for his “Leave Britney Alone!” video. show his or her skills, for better or for worse, to the Despite the vastly different subjects of these peoples’ world. Class of 2012
Economy pushes Broadway away from new shows, towards revivals Danielle Moskow
attract people to their Extravagant theatres, talented actors, and powerful r e v i v a l s performances—only the best of the best is found on by casting Broadway. Unfortunately, Broadway is experiencing a l r e a d y difficulties as result of the current financial crisis. famous acDue to this economic predicament, attendance for tors. Also, Broadway shows is faltering, leaving some shows revivals are without the money needed to keep the show afloat. o f t e n l e s s Because of the uncertainty of success, shows that have e x p e n s i v e become classics are closing. After twelve successful to produce. Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com years of performance, the iconic show Rent ended its G u y s a n d A new revival of 1968 hippie hit Hair run in September. Relatively new shows such as Spring D o l l s a n d returns to Broadway in February, afAwakening and Legally Blonde are closing or have H a i r a r e ter a stint at the Delacourte Theater. closed, as well as Hairspray, and Young Frankenstein, a l s o b o t h which are ending January 4. Even brand new shows being brought back as revivals. such as 13 and [title of show] have already faltered. “These shows are a predictable success because Fewer people are willing to spend money on tickets, they were both originally produced in New York and which typically cost around $120, though premium did very well. I think they will do really well again. orchestra seating can cost much more. Guys and Dolls is also a family show which will do On the othwell, because if one is seeing a show at all, er hand, many most will want a whole family show,” said revivals are Dina Friedler, a producer of The Charlotte opening as a Wilcox Company, a Broadway production result of the company. recession beThis is certainly not the first time Broadcause they are way has been in a situation like this. “There safer to prowas a time in the 70’s when hardly any duce. Revivals shows were being put on or produced, and are shows that people didn’t know if there would continue have previousPhoto courtesy of situatedlaundry.blogspot.com to be shows on Broadway, or if Broadway l y p l a y e d o n 13, a new musical about pre-teens, will be clos- would die out. At this point, we’re not in Broadway, and ing soon, though it only opened in October. a situation like that, but the shows that are brought back are faltering are faltering more quickly,” either as the original version or revised. For example, said Friedler. West Side Story is being redone incorporating more With new revivals and potentially successful shows Spanish components. Revivals tend to do well because in store, Broadway has its woes, yet continues to push people like seeing familiar plays. Producers further forward to future success. Class of 2011
December 23, 2008
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Jack is back: the return of “24”
Class of 2011
This January, audiences all over the country will finally get what they’ve been waiting for—“24” is coming back for its seventh season. This season was supposed to air during the 2007-2008 season, but unfortunately was delayed due to the Writers’ Guild of America strike. Luckily, “24” was able to use the strike to its advantage; it has come back with a made-for-TV movie and new cast members. Like the last few seasons, FOX will start season seven over two nights in a four-hour premiere. The first two-hour long episodes will be broadcast on Sunday, January 11, 2009, and the third and fourth episodes on Monday, January 12, 2009. After the premiere, “24” will be aired every Monday for the rest of the season. For those of you who don’t watch, here’s a brief summary of the show. “24” stars Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, a man who fights terrorists for the US government. Probably the most innovative element of “24” is that it’s in real time. This means that one minute of show time corresponds with one minute in the story, and one entire episode of “24” is equivalent to one hour in the characters’ lives. Commercial breaks are strategically aired when something that
isn’t important to the plot happens. To Although Almeida was a “good guy” avoid confusion, a digital clock is placed in previous years, he will be one of the on the screen before and after commer- main antagonists this season. Kiefer cial breaks to show the time in the story. Sutherland himself commented that he Because there are a total of 24 episodes believes season seven will be the best in a TV season, and one TV season is one yet, so “24” fans can expect a great equivalent to one day in Jack Bauer’s season this year. life, the show is called “24”—for 24 The producers of “24” certainly hours. know how to This season respond when of “24” has life gives them some plot fealemons. Most tures that have TV shows never been would lose all seen before. hope because For starters, of a writers’ Tony Award strike; howevwinning actress er, the people Cherry Jones behind “24” is joining the were able to cast. She will step up to the portray the ficchallenge and tional first fePhoto courtesy of ew.com still make the male President fans happy. of the United Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, re- T h e y t o o k States, Allison turns with a bang in the seventh season of the time to figure Taylor. Also, a Emmy-award winning show “24”. The show out the story returns with a two night, four-hour premiere on character pre- January 11. for the whole viously preseason before sumed dead, Tony Almeida (portrayed starting to shoot the episodes. This made by Carlos Bernard), will return to “24.” the plot much stronger, and gave the Tony Almeida was one of the few actors more of a sense of where their people Jack Bauer could trust, but had characters were going. Additionally, the tragically been killed in season five. producers regained some lost money
A wintry music mix to fill your holiday season Emily Shepard
2005 Album, How to Save a Life, and well-renowned group who has has returned to the scene with a new opened for Radiohead, appeared on self-titled album. They will be at the “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” As temperatures start to plum- TLA on January 15. On January 22, and performed at the Bonnaroo and met, and the holiday season begins, Reel Big Fish, an American punk Lollapalooza music festivals. If you winter ushers band best known for its have yet to hear them, you should in a whole new work during the late nine- definitely check them out. Dropseason of conties, is coming to the TLA kick Murphys is also coming to the certs. Regardwith Streetlight Manifesto, Electric Factory on March 8. Dropless of your preand Tip the Van. Looking kick Murphys is a Celtic punk band ferred musical several months in the future, which fuses traditional Irish music genre, Philly ofKaty Perry will be playing and hardcore punk. Although it fers a host of difat the TLA on April 5, 2009. sounds like a bizarre fusion, if you’re ferent concerts She will be playing songs at all interested in Celtic or alternacertain to satisfy from her altive music, everyone, death bum One of they’re worth metal and rap the Boys, and looking up. fans included. is sure to perWhether Lil’ Wayne is per- form her latest On December you’re going 28, The Susque- forming at The Susque- single “Hot to see one of Bank Cen- ’n Cold.” Alhanna Bank Cen- hanna your favorite ter will be host- ter on December 28. though the bands, or exing Lil’ Wayne show is four perimenting along with Keyshia Cole, Keri months from now, if with some Hilson, and Gym Class Heroes. Lil’ you want to see Katy Photo courtesy of Google Images new music, Wayne will perform all the hits off perform you should Dropkick Murphys is a seven- seeing it perhis newest album, Tha Carter III, definitely get tickets person band from Boston that formed live including “Got Money,” “A Milli,” early, because her fuses punk rock with Celtic mu- is a unique and “Lollipop.” On February 7, the show will undoubt- sic. They will be performing at experience. same stage will be home to heavy edly sell out fast. the Electric Factory in March. Furthermore, metal band Slipknot, which will be On January 24 the with the holitouring with its fourth and newest Electric factory will be hosting Get days just around the corner, concert studio album, All Hope is Gone. the Led Out, a Led Zeppelin tribute tickets will make perfect, thoughtCoheed and Cambria, fellow metal band. For any Zeppelin fans born ful gifts for your musically inclined artists, will be opening for Slipknot. a few decades too late, this is an family and friends. If you’re planThe Theater of the Living Arts awesome opportunity to see some ning to stay on the receiving end of (TLA) has an exciting and dynamic of the most legendary rocks songs giving this year, ask your parents for line-up for this winter; On Decem- performed live. On February 5 the concert tickets as your holiday gift. ber 27 All Time Low will be com- Black Keys will also be coming to Either way, there are plenty of coning to the TLA, joined by Sing the Electric Factory. The Black Keys certs to satisfy a whole range of fans, it Loud, The Friday Night Boys, are a blues-rock group whose most and tickets are an excellent way to Mercy Mercedes and Runner Run- recent album is titled Attack and Re- spread the musical holiday cheer. ner. The Fray, best known for their lease. They are a widely recognized Class of 2011
and kept fans in touch with the show by making a TV movie called “24: Redemption” which was aired on November 23. The movie links seasons six and seven together so audiences would not forget previous plot details when season seven airs. When it was aired, “24: Redemption” had about 12 million viewers watching. Needless to say, “24” certainly used the strike to its advantage. A great number of LMers enjoy “24” and are excited for the new season to debut. “I love 24! I love its intensity and I have become so attached to the characters....I’m very excited for the new season because I have missed having the nail biting suspense of ‘24’ every week but I’m nervous that it will be a disappointment like the last season was,” said sophomore Maggie Walker. “I watch ‘24’ every week during the seasons and I also own seasons 2 and 3 and watch those when I have time.” “I used to find ‘24’ really thrilling and got addicted to the show very rapidly, however I haven’t kept up with it since the pressures of LM leave me with so little extra time,” said junior Kira Goldner. So for all the “24” fans out there, get ready for January 11! The season starts with two episodes, and all your waiting, grief, and patience will have paid off.
The Velveteen Rabbit comes alive at Wolf Performing Arts Center Elizabeth Dunoff
Class of 2011
Photo courtesy of Google Images
in the nursery, and by real rabbits when he is left outside. However, Alex loves him very much, and his love makes the rabbit real. Alex gets very sick with scarlet fever, which is personified in the play as Scarlet Fear. The rabbit must try and help heal his precious owner. LM Chemistry teacher Glenn Brooks, sophomore Jake Delman, freshmen Rachel Fishbein, and Darcey Watson, and alumni Betsy Wolf and Kimi Iizuka were all involved in the show, which brought together students and adults from all over the Delaware Valley, from as many as ten different schools. In addition, the illustrator of the picture book, the late Don Daily, was the parent of LM graduates. His widow Renee helped create sets for the show. Delman, who worked on lighting for the show encourages LM students to support the center. “WolfPAC is a great organization that does so much good for the community,” he said.
Wolf Performing Arts Center (WolfPAC) put on a production of The Velveteen Rabbit last weekend at the Narberth Community Theatre. The play was written by Phil Grecian, and is based on the classic children’s picture book by Margery Williams. Bobbi Wolf, founder of WolfPAC and a former Bala Cynwyd Middle School teacher, will be directing the play along with Joel Braverman, father of two LM graduates. The Velveteen Rabbit tells the story of a stuffed toy rabbit who becomes real through the love of his owner. The message of the show is, “‘Love makes all things real’ no matter how different we are,” said Wolf. “There is an appreciation for individual differences because that’s what ‘makes us special.’” The play’s storyline remains true to the beloved picture book, and was easily recognizable to viewers who remember the story from their childhoods. It revolves around the relationship between Alex, a young boy, and the Velveteen Rabbit, who lives in Alex’s Photo courtesy of wolfpermormingartscenter.org nursery. The WolfPAC put on The Velveteen Rabbit at the rabbit is teased Narberth Community Theater last weekend. by the other toys
December 23, 2008
Inexperience hinders boys’ ice hockey J. Kraman/E. Peltz
Class of ‘10/’09
Eight games into the season, the varsity boys’ hockey team has seen better times. Its most recent game, a 3-1 loss to Haverford, brought the Aces record to 0-7-1. “The season has been tough and one that has fallen below our expectations as a team, however we do continue to grow,” said senior captain John Lundy. With only three seniors, the inexperienced squad has still demonstrated resilience and promise. Captains John Lundy and Sam Stevens spearhead
the team on and off of the ice. Stevens, the team leader with three points, has been sidelined recently with an injury. According to Coach Michael Moeller, “[Stevens] plays both ends of the ice very well and plays full speed the entire shift.” Lundy continues to be a vocal leader for the Aces. Sophomore Jake Stevens has shown vast improvement in his game from last year and continues to work hard. “He works hard every practice and wants to get better. He has a great attitude,” said Moeller. Freshman Tyler Kopen has also shown much promise,
registering one goal and one assist. “Kopen and sophomores Jon Zeidman and Jake Stevens as well as [junior] Joey Stedeford continue to show a lot of promise and are a big reason of why I am hopeful that Lower Merion will be a good team for years to come,” said Lundy. Competing in a difficult Central League, the team has recognized that extra effort and effort is needed for improvement. And Moeller is hopeful that the team’s increased focus will pay dividends. “They are realizing the intensity, concentration and physical sacrifices all of them
will have to make in order to be competitive in a league that’s up for grabs this season,” said Moeller. The team is practicing hard and is working on the basics of the game in order to be a more experienced and complete team for the remainder team. “Due to the restructuring of the Central League, the schedule has become tougher. Every team we have played and will play is very good, but hopefully this will help us become a stronger team in the second half of the season,” said Lundy. The team has suffered several difficult losses to Ridley,
Strath Haven, and Radnor but tied Boyertown High School 4-4—a bright spot to an otherwise subpar season. With lots of new players on the ice, the squad is attempting to focus on the fundamentals of the game. Moeller hopes to develop the additions to the roster and with a lot of hockey yet to be played this season, the Aces still have a chance to compete in the Central League. “Our goal for this season is to remain competitive in the Central League and to create a solid foundation for the years team and hopefully make a run for the Central League playoffs,” said Lundy.
Wrestling pinned by loss of seniors Xinran Wang
Class of 2010 Over the past two seasons, LM wrestling has enjoyed the presence of two great wrestlers, including Regionals winner Anthony Fulginetti and Sectional champion Marcus Neafsy. The losses of these two over the course of the offseason and a difficult schedule have led to a rough start to the season. After losing Fulginetti and Neafsy, the team is going through a tough rebuilding season. The two players provided valuable experience and a veteran presence that will be sorely missed. “It’s never easy to lose such great talent like Marcus and Fulg.
Along with being our best wrestlers, they were also great leaders,” said sophomore captain Zeke Zimmer. This season, the team has called upon underclassmen to step up and contribute. The new captains, juniors Ben Gidaro, Curtis Gage, and Zimmer, have helped the team this season, replacing Fulginetti and Neafsy. “To deal with the losses, we as a team are all going to have to carry a lot more of the load; everybody is going to have to try a lot harder and try their best everyday so that we can make up the slack,” said Zimmer. So far, the team has started off with a 0-4 record, losing to
Springfield, Cardinal O’Hara, and Ridley. The early season schedule has proved difficult with five of the hardest matches. Also, the team plays in the extremely competitive Central League. “We have to compete in the
Central league which is always stacked, there is never a match off when we wrestle in league, any night any team can upset anyone,” said Zimmer. For the season’s goals, the team hopes to compete hard and try its
hardest in every single meet. Moreover, as usual, the team looks to beat the district rival Harriton. The team hopes to succeed and build a foundation this rebuilding season, while giving opponents everything its got.
Photo by Esther Hoffman/ Staff
Aces squared off against Radnor on December 17.
Merionite’s Monthly Health Tip: Mr. O’Boyle Myth or Fact: Does turkey make you sleepy? Myth. But other holiday foods do! What we do know is that turkey contains an amino acid, tryptophan. When tryptophan reaches the brain, serotonin and melatonin — chemicals responsible for making you feel tired and sleepy —are produced. However, many researchers believe that the other amino acids found in turkey interfere with allowing tryptophan to reach the brain.
Courtesy of www.igourment.com
So, why do you feel sleepy after a holiday meal? Many scientists believe that it is due to the excess carbohydrates that we consume— mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, stuffing, etc. The carbohydrates cause an increase in blood sugar, which in turn cause the body to produce insulin. Also, if you overeat and fill the belly with too much food, a rush of blood is sent to the stomach causing a decrease in blood flow to the brain. Finally, there is some evidence to suggest that carbohydrates are needed to assist tryptophan in reaching the brain. Whatever the reason, you may want to stop blaming just the bird.
December 23, 2008
Seniors anchor swim teams as season starts With strong leadership and camaraderie, the boys’ and girls’ swim teams hope to improve upon last years record. Both team are looking to their seniors who have been pivotal members of the program for the past four seasons. As of December 16, the girls’ record was 0-2, suffering from two tough and extremely close losses in their first two matches to Springfield and Ridley. Many returning swimmers look strong, having improved immensely since last year. The three senior captains Liz Thompson, Paulina Marcucci, and Meredith Guss have helped to guide the team’s improvement over the course of the preseason. The squad expects much from senior Betty Walker and juniors Aly Miller and Eve Laren. “The team is looking good this year,” said Marcucci. Besides the sheer talent and guidance provided by the senior class, the team also sees potential in its underclassmen. Sophomore sisters Julie and Francis Loeb have performed well, along with fellow sophomore Sarah Eisenlohr. This season, 11 new swimmers were added to the squad, adding depth and some inexperience to the roster. “I’m excited about this year and have high hopes for all the new swimmers,” said Thompson. Coach Nikki Cunningham, a graduate from Penn State University and former swimmer for Abington High School, has been a great influence. “She is great,” said Marcucci. “She brings a fun and encouraging atmosphere to the team.” Unfortunately for both the boys’ and girls’, the swim team has been
“Our coach always says that the end of the season matters most,” said Farber. “When March roles around, we are going all out.” As of print time, the team held a 1-2 record, their first loss to Springfield in a close 12-10 defeat. The team had an exciting 12-9 win, however, over Glen Mils. “We were down seven swimmers and we were missing many key people like JJ, Drew DeSantoa and Jake Heyman,” said junior Oren Lawitt. “We still beat them by 18 points – a nice margin.” “I think we have a some great swimmers on the team,” said senior Chris Rowe. “We have a lot of potential this year.” Both the swim teams look to improve off of last years record, and with the talent of each team, both have definite potential to do so. “We’re a spirited and hardworking bunch,” said Thomspon. “Our goals are to work hard and have fun – and hopefully win some meets along the way.”
Photo by Esther Hoffman/ Staff
Alek Klincewick practices the freestyle during practice. The teams have been practicing at St. Joseph’s and Episcopal.
Furcht competes at national championships
At the Footlocker Northeast Regional tournament, seniors Ben Furcht and Neal Berman finished tenth and eleventh, respectively in a race of the top cross country runners of eleven states. With 600 meters left in the race, Furcht exited the woods in sixth place while Berman was in ninth. Competition was heavy, however, and both had to fight to the very end. Furcht claimed the final spot for Nationals with a time of 15:53:50. Berman, unfortunately, only one spot behind, did not qualify, finishing in 15:59:80. On December 13, Fucht headed out to San Diego and placed an astounding 31st in the Foot Locker National Championships. He finished the 3.1 mile course in 16:07, capping an extraordinary cross country career at LM.
Girls ultimate sweeps tournament With the closure of the fall ultimate season, the girls team has reason to be very optimistic about the upcoming spring season. In the Kat in the Hat tournament on October 25, the girls’ team, with a few additions from Cardinal O’Hara, swept through the competition to win the tournament. Led by star junior Emily Eisner, the girls played brilliantly in defeating defending state champs from New Jersey and Virginia, and New Jersey’s #2-ranked team. Kathy Rowe, the girls’ coach, has noted that this year’s team has been particularly strong, with many rapidly improving players. Building upon a successful fall season, the girls teams hopes to have a strong showing in the more important spring season later in the year.
Squash starts winter season
Faces of the Aces
After commencing the regular season schedule, the boys’ and girls’ squash teams—both joint with Harriton—find themselves in very different situations. The boys have lost their first two games to Shipley and Germantown Friends, while the boys are off to a 2-3 record including a key win over Central League rival Conestoga. The girls have been working to re-establish their status after losing several seniors. Seniors Kara Silberthau and Clare Chitester return while upcoming players including freshmen Emely Levyn and Sarah Hyman, sophomore Leah Puklin, and seniors Yuxin Liu and Toby Leventhal have shown promise. The boys pride themselves on their depth and unity. Key returning players are senior standout Danny Greenberg and juniors Mark Potter and Ethan Moritz. The boys hope to finish over .500 and both squads look to perform well at Nationals in February. --Compiled by the Sports Staff
The best athletes that LM has to offer
Class of 2009
forced to take a bus to practice everyday, due to LM’s current state of construction. The girls are shipped off to Episcopal, while the boys head to St. Joseph’s University. Like the girls’ team, the boys’ team has been improving season to season. Three years ago, they didn’t win a single meet. The following two years, however, with the help from this year’s current seniors, the team won several games and sent several individuals to the postseason. This year, they hope to build even more on this momentum. There are multiple skilled individual swimmers on the boys’team, but the squad hopes to join everyone’s efforts and come together as a team. Junior J.J. Warshaw and sophomore Alek Klincewick lead the team in the 100 breast stroke and 5300 freestyle, respectively. Warshaw went to States last year and hopes to return again, this time along with Klincewick. This season, the team looks to improve from last years 5-8 record, with help from the entire team. Hoping to qualify for Districts, additionally, are seniors Ryan Farber, Dave Loeb, and Drew DeSantola.
A brief look at the LM sport stories you may have missed
Sports: Varsity Basketball Sports: Varsity Soccer Sports: Varsity Tennis Sports: Varsity Ice Hockey Track Varsity Squash Lacrosse Goals for Goals for Goal for Goals for Win States, and better my Season: Win Central League in season: WIN! Season: Hanging with friends and Season: game fall, make run in state playing sports Reading, playing sports, playoffs Hobbies: Speaking French and Hobbies: Having a .500 season and Hobbies: and hanging out with Hobbies: Lifeguarding, working playing violin playing sports friends out, movies Winter Winter Winter Break Plans: Going snowboarding, Winter Break Plans: Hibernating hanging with friends, and Break Plans: Being with my friends, Break Plans: Washington, D.C. Quote: “If you think you can’t do and relaxing playing hockey something, then you Quote: “Refuse to lose.” Quote: “Sports do not build probably can’t.” “Too much is given, much character. They reveal it.” Quote: is expected”
Volume 80, Issue 4
The Merionite Swimming
Boys look to postseason; girls Inexperience hurts, yet the team has use experience to improve great potential for improvement See Swimming, page 23
See Ice Hockey, page 22
December 23, 2008
Wrestling tries to recover from loss of last year’s star seniors See Wrestling, page 22
Girls’ basketball dominates; starts season undefeated and on fire Mike Buchwald
Class of 2011
A certain excitement in the air can only mean one thing: it is the start of the 20082009 girls’ varsity basketball season. The girls have a strong and deep returning senior class with captains Molly Hanlon, Amy Woods, and Lil Carney leading the way. Carney, a three-point specialist, runs the show bringing the ball up court, Hanlon provides scoring, averaging 12 points a game last season, and Woods is a force at both ends of the court at the center position. Aided by a steady cast of players including sophomores Lila Jones and Sheba Hall, juniors Dana Albancy and Kiki Worku, and senior Erin Knox, the team is coming off of an incredible and unexpected run last year that ended with a first-round loss at States. “We had one of the best wins in school history in the second round of district play with a come from behind victory at home vs. Upper Dublin, ” said
coach Lauren Pellicane. After the tremendous victory, the team lost a hard-fought battle to perennial powerhouse Downingtown East that was followed by a loss to Wilson High School at States. “The experience will help us this season [infusing the team] with a newfound sense of urgency to get it done,” Pellicane said. Without the loss of any graduating seniors, the team returns with a squad full of chemistry and experience. “Our team last year was pretty young. We had no seniors on our team, and we still did really well,” said Hanlon on the matter. With such a level of Courtesy of www.philly.com camaraderie, the girls’ Molly Hanlon wrestles for a loose ball main worry is injury
risk. According to Carney, a couple of the girls on the teams suffered shin splints before the regular season began. Predicted by many to win the newly expanded Central League, the team opened its season against Upper Darby, who according to both Carney and Hanlon, will most likely be their toughest opponent. “They lost some of their girls but their two best players are back,” said Hanlon. Surviving a scare, the team pulled off a 40-38 victory with Hanlon and Woods scoring 15 points a piece. The team now holds a 3-0 record with additional wins over Garnet Valley and Spring-Ford. The team will also travel to Florida to compete in the Rock Holiday Classic. The team has set high expectations this year, hoping to win the Central League (the league will inaugurate a new playoff system this season). Secondly, the players look to make a run deep into the District 1 tournament and, in the process, qualify for the state tournament. We all know our Aces have it in them.
BB at BC: Boys’ basketball tries to settle in new home for the season Emily Eisner
Harley Williamson, however, believes that “playing in the new gym should be exciting.” He even goes as far as to project that After many triumphant years, the boys’ “the new location should bring a good home basketball team is facing a year of changes court advantage.” in location, key players, and strategy. The In addition to the change in location, boys are, however, confident that they will the team is struggling to master a new ofovercome these difficulties and have a re- fense called the “Princeton Offense.” The warding year. Princeton Offense is an effective strategy for The destruction of the Main Gym last a smart team with neither racing speed nor year left the basketball team without a home good one-on-one matchups – it uses a lot of court. The team has been using the large sharp cutting, movement without the ball, gym at Bala Cynwyd Middle School, and and pick-and-roll technique. has had most of its practices from 6-9 PM Coach Downer may have explained the at night, which, according to Coach Greg change this year when he remarked that the Downer, “has taken its toll.” One con- team is “not quite as fast as years past.” The cern about the move in location would be team has yet to feel any positive impact from a smaller student turnout to games. Senior the new offense. “It remains a work in progress,” said Downer, who hopes to “see a positive impact in midJanuary.” The final obstacle is the health of many of the team’s players. “We have many key injuries currently,” said Downer. “When we get Photo by Noah Zucares/ Staff healthy I hope we can reach Senior Harley Williamson, charging through defense, our full potenthinks the team will be “unstoppable.” Class of 2008
tial.” The team has been without its desired starting roster for the entirety of the season thus far, including losing senior point guard Eric Stahler. As currently injured players recover and return to the team, Harley Williamson projects that “[they] will be unstoppable.” As of print time, the team had a 1-3 record. The lone victory came in a 44-30 win over Garnet Valley. On December 16, the Aces played a critical game against rival Conestoga. The boys lost by a meaPhoto by Noah Zucares/ Staff ger four The Aces suffered a close loss to Connestoga on December 16. points So far, the team is working hard and many and held star Jake Cohen to eleven points. players are stepping up their play in hopes With all of the adjustments that the bas- of achieving some of these goals. Both Wilketball team is making this year, one may liamson and Downer commented that many find it hard to see any hope for the success younger players are really steeping up their of the team, however players’ hopes remain game, especially sophomore Matt McKhigh. enna. “[We’re] off to a poor start but I think The team is motivated and working hard. we’ll be able to figure it out and get the sea- The last element to success is strong school son going in the right direction,” said junior spirit and large turnout to home games. The Oliver Cohen. new location may throw some people off; The team’s goals include qualifying for however, this year’s success lies partly in the Central League playoffs and the State the cheers and cries of an excited student playoffs, while improving on a daily basis. body.
Published on Dec 23, 2008