The Merionite December 23, 2010
Volume 82, Issue 3
The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929
Diverse new classes to be added Exclusive talk with new Board member Josh Zollman
Class of 2012 Starting next year, several new courses will be added to the curriculum at LM and Harriton High Schools. The new courses include Modern History Through Media, AP Psychology, and AP Studio Art. Dr. Jack Maguire, LMSD’s Supervisor of Humanities, explained that the courses are consistent with the District’s strategic plan for education:
“[The courses] should help with achievement,” Maguire said. “They will open up possibilities to communicate to students about the advantages of taking an AP class in regards to college success rate. We want to attract kids who may not ordinarily take AP classes.” According to Maguire, the new courses should also “increase the overall opportunities kids have” and provide a “better chance to keep students engaged in their school subjects.”
In addition, LMSD hopes to diversify the curriculum as a whole. The District conducted informal surveys to find out if students would be interested in classes such as AP Psychology, and found that it was consistently in demand. “When I got [to Lower Merion] there were only two AP courses that weren’t math and science,” said Maguire. “We’ve tried to tried to balance
In past weeks, LM has seen a surge of bullying related incidents. In light of this epidemic, many students find themselves disgusted, saddened, or embarrassed. “When I think about the amount of bullying that has been going on at LM recently, I feel not only sad, but also genuinely sick to my stomach,” said Student Council President Shira Barlas in a speech she delivered over the loudspeaker. Many students took LM’s safe environment for granted. They did not expect to find such rampant bullying in place
have reported seeing mice. In one Spanish class, the whole classroom erupted in panic when a mouse ran across the room. “It was very frightening for all those involved,” reported junior Erica Hummel who described the class period as a “great ruckus.” Junior Tiara Baton agreed that
See RODENTS, page 2
See VIRGINIA POLLARD, page 2
See COURSES, page 2
Class of 2012
whose creed is “no place for hate.” “I did not think [bullying] would be as prevalent and as extreme at LM,” Barlas added. According to Barlas, these incidents should serve as “a wake up call” to the student body. “I hope that everyone at LM can challenge themselves to be leaders and create a safe atmosphere for us to live in,” Barlas concluded. Sometime after winter break the administration will be offering student lead conflict-resolution seminars during Academic Recovery.
LM fails to rid itself of rodents Hannah Schaeffer
Class of 2012
Leaving behind the filthy stalls and broken desks of the old school, students and faculty did not expect their problems to follow them to the new building. Recently, however, there have been reports of rodents in the new school. Students and staff have reported
sightings of vermin throughout LM, including in the costume room, in classrooms, and even in a few bathrooms. However, some still insist that LM is rodent-free. “I have not seen any rodents!” commented math teacher Diane Sweeney, who wished she was formally allowed to eat in the classroom and was not afraid of the rumors. Despite this optimism, many students
Class of 2012
Virginia Pollard was elected to the School Board unanimously on October 25. The Merionite was lucky enough to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mrs. Pollard on December 16. Pollard first discussed why she had chosen to run for the School Board: “I have been interested in being a part of the School Board for a long time, but it never was the right time,” said Pollard. “When the vacant seat came up, it was a time in my life where, I wasn’t going in twenty different directions, and it is also a time in my life where I have…the chance to be on the Board, serve a term out, find out what it’s really all about, and decide whether or not I really want to run to be able to be a part of the School Board.” Pollard continued by describing her previous experience working in education. “I have a degree in Music Education,” Pollard explained. “I actually did my student teaching out in Lower Merion. I also worked with a preschool program called Project Learning Preschool. And I teach privately, I teach piano and voice on a daily basis, and again, I tutor one-on-one as a part of [my Church’s] tutoring program.” When asked what new ideas and perspectives she would bring to the Board: “The School Board, as it stands now, has a lot of people that are really interested, and I believe have good hearts about the changes that need to be made for our school and for our young people, but if…all communities [are not represented], you can’t make… full judgment decisions if you don’t have representation from all sectors that you’re representing. And that’s what I bring to the Board, a section of the system that has been underrepresented, and not represented at all,” Pollard stated. Pollard expanded on what she has to bring to the Board by explaining her primary goal, which is to tackle the achievement gap. “Ever since my children went to school, there has been… the achievement gap,” Pollard said. “And…if [there aren’t] hands-on people who are experiencing and going through the things that helped to make the achievement gap, [one] can’t put in place programs to close it. I have worked one-on-one, our church has a program where we work one-on-one with young people that are in LMSD and other districts, and we see the challenges that they are experiencing. Right now, many of our students, even from Lower Merion, graduate and are not able to be competitive because they have not achieved the skills they need to be able to be competitive in this world.” She then described ways to lessen the achievement gap. “[There are] programs in place like S.P.I.E.S., and the
LM: No place for hate? News Staff
December 23, 2010
In spite of new rules rodents infiltrate the new building From RODENTS, page 1 the class period was chaotic, saying, “people were lifting their book bags off the ground.” Rodents have reportedly visited Spanish teacher Myra Rios’ room on several occasions. “It started about three weeks ago, when students said they saw a mouse running around. The kids started to run after it, and they tried to make a trap to catch it. I found it very funny,” laughed Rios, who now has a new class mascot, a stuffed mouse named “Ratón.” Since the beginning of the school year, food has been forbidden everywhere except in the designated cafeteria and teachers’ lounges throughout the school. Because
has been proposed that mice found their way into the new building when the old one was demolished. “It’s not a food issue. We do not eat in my room. It is probably because the winter is coming,” Rios speculated. “[The mice] just want to be part of our new school.” The “no eating” rule was introduced to curb rodent infestations in the new school. However, although some strictly many claim strict observance of this rule, it follow the rule, many students aren’t Photo by Anthony Li/Staff so careful. “Everyone hides food evSome teachers have felt the need to set mousetraps in their erywhere, I watch people eating classrooms to combat the recent rodent infestations. all the time in the school,” said
LM to provide new courses From COURSES, page 1
that out a little bit so that the kids who have more or less of a math and science base have options as well.” Out of all of the new courses, Maguire emphasized Modern History Through Media as one that he expects to be very appealing for students. “This is an opportunity for kids to study history through visual media,” he said. “I think this will be a very fascinating [course] for students to take.” The courses had to go through a fairly long and involved process before being approved. The process for approving courses and readying them for classroom takes about a year and a half and requires the cooperation of many
different people. First, a proposal for the new courses is written and presented to the principals. If the principals approve the proposal, it then goes to the Curriculum Committee of the School Board where further discussion take place. If approved by the Curriculum Committee, the proposal is presented to the entire school board where it is voted on yet again. The long road finally comes to an end when the District can begin writing the curriculum for the courses. “Starting in January we will begin to write the curriculum,” Maguire said. Students interested in any of the new courses should be sure to check the course catalog before signing up for next year’s classes in January.
“We want to attract kids who may not ordinarily take AP classes.” -Dr. Jack Maguire
Setbacks to new AR system Gilad Doron
Class of 2012
After the first couple weeks of school, a reinvented system of Academic Recovery was implemented into the student schedule for the first time since the beginning of 2009. “This year we went back to the to the computerized program when we were assured that the technical problems had been fixed and because all of the students now had laptops which made signing up easier,” said Assistant Principal Marcy Hockfield. The new computer-based system was made to ensure that students had time to meet with teachers outside of class time. “It makes it much easier to find time to meet with teachers,” said junior Ben Wortham. “After not having it last year I noticed how much of a difference it made.” Most students are now taking advantage of the given time, and signing up with their teachers to use the last 25 minutes of the day wisely. “It is much more efficient than taking the time to go in for help only during a study hall or before [or] after school because it is a period dedicated solely to extra help,” said freshman
Cindy Paul. As newcomers to the school, some freshmen were unfamiliar with the system and were not used to being held accountable for AR attendance. Despite the learning curve for freshmen, the junior class has actually been the worst in terms of signing up for AR. “There is one particular class, unfortunately it is the junior class, that has the highest amount of students that are not signing up,” said Assistant Principal Wagner Marseille. In response to this issue, Marseille called a junior class meeting, reminding students of the importance of following the system to sign up for AR. “The day of that meeting, I met with 25 students and gave 25 detentions for that day,” Marseille said. “Now I am at that definitive point that I can’t keep reminding you eight times and let you off with a warning, so now I have to start giving out detentions.” However, forgetting to sign up is not the only problem that students have faced. The server has gone down many times, leaving many students unable to sign up for AR, resulting in inconsistent or sometimes undeserved punishment. “There are some adminis-
trators that don’t care and let the people that don’t sign up for Academic Recovery go scot free,” said freshman Dania Hallak, “while my friend missed one and got a detention.” The administration has been making frequent announcements to remind students to sign up to avoid such fates. Although the administration has expressed that the announcements are necessary, some students believe that they are simply an interruption during class. “The announcements are pretty disruptive at this point,” said senior Zach Eikov. “We all know not only that we have to sign up for AR, but also [that] there is a deadline.” Although the AR system does has its flaws, it seems to be fulfilling its intended purpose. “If we look at AR this year, and we look at the results in terms of the number of kids who were signing up, and then we compare that to last year, we have made drastic progress. … Even with these high numbers, we are much better then we were last year in terms of compliance. We have 90% of the student body, if not more, signing up every day,” Marseille said.
senior Lia Mastrogiacomo. “I see students eating everywhere, that’s probably why we have rodents,” commented junior Richie Scheinfield, who wasn’t at all surprised to hear of mice in the building. Despite attempts to avoid the infestation, the administration wasn’t surprised there are mice. “We suspected this would happen. It isn’t a major problem compared to the old school,” said Principal Sean Hughes. As for a plan to rid the school of rodents, Hughes said there is “a process we will follow and a whole policy we will adhere to once things are more clearly identified.” The mice could have come running from the old school because students are eating, because of the coming winter, or because they are looking to find a home in LM. Despite the hopes of starting fresh in a new building, rodents seem to have infested the halls of LM once again.
Virginia Pollard sits down for an in-depth interview From VIRGINIA POLLARD, page 1
CARE program, and there [are] other programs doing any justice to just get a child through just in place to support young people that [learn] because the government says you can’t leave a differently, but there never [is] a follow up to child behind and when they go through they’re find out if those programs [are] doing what they not prepared to go through. So I want to be the [are] supposed to be doing, and now things conscience that says no, you can’t do this and have been put in place to have checks and bal- if you’re pushing this child forward this child ances and to measure…whether [a program needs to be prepared to go forward.” has] been able to help [students]…We need Pollard expanded on this point by advocatto be proactive and these things I believe have ing for training seminars or programs for teachstarted in the elementary school but we need to ers to help them learn more about assessing have programs that can catch our children even individual students’ needs. in pre-school, so that when they enter the school Pollard made several suggestions for such system, espeprograms, cially Lower and noted M e r i o n that “just school sysbecause a tem, which child needs has such a special wonderful help does reputation, not mean that they they need are where an [Indithey need to vidualized be and then Education have support Program], systems so or need that they can to go into Photo by Eric Cohn/Staff s p e c i a l be the best that they can be Pollard was elected to the Board on October education. Somethroughout the 25 after Linda Doucette-Ashman resigned. times there is a learning process.” growth spurt that Pollard then described how the Keystone needs to take place, and once they get over that Exams—new mandatory exams that will be three month or six month [period], then things implemented in the future to assess student begin to kick in. Sometimes it’s just the way ability in various subjects—may affect student [the material is] presented, if it’s presented in a performance on tests. different way, then that child will be able kick in “Some people just don’t test well…There and know what they have to do. So workshops are certain students who…would be able to have been put in place, but they cannot be once pass anything [they are given], but put a piece per year. Learning is an ongoing process, and of paper in front of them give them a pencil something you learn in August you may forget and tell them [they] have a certain time to do in February or March.” this, they close down. I believe the Keystone Pollard ended the interview by discussing Exams will be good for some people, but like how her time on the Board has been so far. many exams they will not be good for a lot of “It has been a good experience,” Pollard people,” she said. said. “I’m still learning a lot. I never thought… Pollard addressed how her position in and that things would be so political and…things ideas for the Board will affect students and are more complex now that I’m on the Board, teachers at LM. than when sitting on the outside or sitting in a “By being in a position to help, to revise Board meeting from a community advocate programs that are in place, to help to maybe put point of view. So it has been an eye-opening other programs in place…I would be able to be experience for me, but a good experience. It’s that catalyst to help bring about change in the going to be a challenge, it has been a challenge, education process. Everyone doesn’t learn the but I welcome the challenge, as even though I same. And so by being on the Board I hope to have been on the Board for a few months, I can give the entire Board the awareness of things see the direction the Board is going in is a good that need to be put in place to help all young direction, but there needs to be people on the people to be able to be successful. I know with Board who are more sensitive to the things that No Child Left Behind everybody’s pushing and are going on in the whole community rather trying to get every child through, but it’s not than one aspect of the community.”
December 23, 2010
Students give blood and save lives Caroline Hirsh
proposition. The blood drive took months of careful preparation and planning. On November 30, LM hosted its biannual blood drive in “First we put a notice out to get anyone who volunteers the gymnasium. Student volunteers who were 16 and above to come to meetings during AR. We have about 5-6 training and who met the necessary weight requirements, with parental sessions; I do three training sessions, the Red Cross does two permission, donated their blood to help needy patients. sessions, and the Board of Directors for the blood drive does After collection, the blood was put on American Red Cross one,” said Hoopes. “We teach [blood drive volunteers] their trucks and driven to the blood center on Spring Garden Street, jobs prior to, and during the blood drive: how to look for fainting, how to help someone who might be nauseated, how to calm people down, et cetera.” The Board of Directors of the drive consisted of dedicated students who were elected to help organize the blood drive and its 7080 student volunteers. The President was senior Jake Dulitzki and the board members were junior Sarah Cramer, senior Elizabeth Goldenberg, junior Aniqa Hassan, senior Lauren Berman, senior Norbert Csordas, senior Emily Goodman, and senior Katie McGrath. Together, the Board of Directors distributed information and training materials to student volunteers. For students interested in volunteering for the next blood drive, training sessions begin the second week of January. The Photo by Michael Lefkoe/Staff winter blood drive date is scheduled for By giving blood, each person that participated saved three lives. February 16. For students unable to attend the meetings, Hoopes stressed the importance tested for various diseases, and later distributed to assorted of donating blood. hospitals around the “Penn-Jersey Blood Drive Area.” “Every little bit counts, each donation saves three lives!” The Blood Drive has been a tradition at LM for many she exclaimed. years. The blood drive facilitator Sandy Hoopes has been “Pay it forward,” Hoopes added. volunteering since 1983. Hoopes wanted to volunteer as a way Junior Alex Nates-Perez, a blood drive donor, agreed: “I to contribute to her community. wanted to help people in need…I thought this would be a great “I wanted the kids to get a great experience about volunteer- way to give back to the community.” ing,” explained Hoopes. “My mother and father both had to Cramer felt the same way. have blood transfusions and I just wanted to give something “I love the fact that we’re helping so many people and I back.” can make a difference in so many people’s lives—it is such As it turned out, “just giving back” is not such a simple a great feeling.” Class of 2012
NEWS IN BRIEF
School Board holds elections
On December 6, the LMSD Board of School Directors re-elected David Ebby to serve another term as Board President in a 5-4 vote. Ebby, who was first elected to the Board in 2007, will serve his second one-year term as Board President. Fellow Board Member Diane DiBonaventuro, in nominating Ebby for president, believed that he deserved a second term as president after a difficult year for the District as it fought through significant laptop-related litigation. New board member Virginia Pollard, along with DiBonaventuro, Melissa Gilbert, Lyn Kugel, and Ebby himself cast votes for Ebby. Susan Guthrie, who was nominated by Jerry Novick, received four votes which came from Novick, Lisa Fair Pliskin, Garry Friedlander, and herself. Kugel was elected to vice president over Pliskin in a 5-4 vote to replace Linda Doucette-Ashman, who had resigned.
—Matt Rublin, ‘11
New midterm policy enacted
LMSD enacted a new policy this year that requires teachers to provide three days of review before midterms. This new guideline is a component of the new grading policy that was put in place earlier this year. “The new grading procedures have some necessary components to provide more consistency within each set and level of courses,” said Director of Curriculum Services Steven Barbato. However, teachers are allowed some leeway in how they decide to review. “Teachers will be using their best judgment when identifying the best time to review and in selecting what type of format is best to meet the needs of all students,” said Barbato.
—Eric Cohn, ‘12
Cafeteria staff cracks down on student lunchroom cleanup clean up the rest of the building?” And cleaning up the cafeteria has been a difficulty for LM students for a long time. When it comes to the new school, one of “The problem we’ve had is that somethe most frequent topics of conversation is times people are really good about throwthe cafeteria. Students seem to fall into one ing away their trash, other times I’ve gone of two camps: either they are grumbling down there and it looks like a landfill,” said about what they consider to be arbitrary Arnold. “I go to the early lunch, that means policies, or are puzzled by these policies’ someone who’s going to B lunch needs to apparent transience. eat lunch in a landfill… we want to leave When one student, junior Zander Miller, it in a reasonable state.” was questioned if he was confused Hughes continued, “I about the new cafeteria rules, his really think it’s important response summed up the view of that we’re cleaning up afmany students: ter ourselves. It’s the little “There are rules?” things that make a big difAssistant Principal Douglas ference sometimes.” Arnold acknowledged this sentiStudents are also disment, “First thing we’re going to couraged by the stark do is make sure it’s clear what the whiteness of the cafeteria. rules are and that they’re being “[The cafeteria] is still enforced consistently.” pretty white. I’m looking at Confusion is not the only probflat-screen TVs that’ll have lem that students are encounterrolling announcements and ing. Many are upset or frustrated play some of the sporting by the new cafeteria rules. Photo by Kei Nakagawa/Staff games. We still have sig“I do not understand why we can Students crowd as lunch aides keep cafeteria doors closed past the bell to encourage trash pick-up. nage coming in, plaques… only enter the cafeteria through one in six months, this place is door. Maybe if someone explained it to me, Still, some students gripe about having in the school outside of the cafeteria. going to look even more homey than it is. I would be more comfortable with compli- to stay in the cafeteria for the full duration Arnold elaborated on the resolution, It’s just going to take a little while,” Hughes ance,” said junior Eli Sheintoch. of lunch, and having to come up with a “We found out that as they knock [the old] stated. “I think that’s part of everybody’s… Principal Sean Hughes addressed this legitimate excuse in order to be allowed building down, all the mice that used to dislike of some of the changes, because concern, “[This was] the design of the out. live over there, now live over here. And [the old school] was really our home. It architect. We have to follow those designs. As Hughes said, “Last year you had now we’ve been seeing little critters run- had everything that we believed in, that We can adapt them to what we eventually the freedom to leave and go in and out of ning around. If there’s food all over the represented us; the walls, the paintings, the want, but that’s the flow of traffic that was lunches. You don’t have that in this build- place, it’s going to just encourage that as murals, all that kind of stuff. Now you have created for the building.” ing. … That’s the difference [between] a problem.” to redo it all. Change is tough.” However, frustration is not the position moving from an old building, where you Hughes provided further justification for These cafeteria rule changes are not the of all students. Some simply believe this is had a lot of freedoms, to a brand new facil- this decision, “A lot of [this rule] is due to only modifications that come with a new all a matter of getting used to change. ity. We’re under strict guidelines.” the rodents. But the second part of it is: you school, and students will approve of some “I think all of the anger and confusion Many pine away at the idea of being guys don’t even clean up the lunch tables and disparage others. However, students at will blow over once students accept that able to wander in and out of lunch, but the you have down there now. If we can’t clean LM do have the right to question a rule they things have to change at the new school,” administration has reason for not permit- the cafeteria, how can I trust everybody to find unclear or discomforting.
Class of 2012
said sophomore Kei Nakagawa. “Many things are changing for the better, but people tend to get stuck on the couple things that are changing for the worse.” While it’s true that some people are unhappy with the couple of cafeteria policies that are changing, that doesn’t alter the fact that the rules are changing. As for the confusion, Hughes wants to remind students that the rules were spelled out clearly in a PowerPoint on the first day of school.
ting this. “The lunches are still a little problematic in terms of people leaving and not going where they’re supposed to be,” said Arnold. “But I think we all recognize after being in the building for a fairly short period of time that we need to figure out a better system so that people can go to the library if they want to go to the library.” One of the mostly ardently detested new rules is not being permitted to eat anywhere
December 23, 2010
A Saturday night on the beat with Officer Cavanaugh Emily Shepard
Class of 2011 Continuing with my exploration of the Lower Merion Police Department, I decided to spend a night on the beat, riding shotgun with an officer. I signed up to participate in the Ride-Along Program, in which average citizens can spend a few hours shadowing a cop. After being granted special permission by Mr. Hughes to participate in Ride-Along (it is required that participants be 18 and I’m only 17), I was given papers to sign waiving the liability of the police, and agreeing not to bring a video camera or weapon with me on my ride. I must admit that I was rather apprehensive of the entire experience. I was expecting that the night would involve pulling over a few unsuspecting drivers, making a few Wawa runs, feeling like a complete narc, and calling it a night. I was pleasantly surprised. I was assigned to Officer Cavanaugh, who has been serving on the LMPD force for just over a year. He was extremely friendly and easygoing, down-to-earth, and had no pretense about the way that the police were viewed or about the frequency of illicit behavior among young people. Officer Cavanaugh first took me on a tour of the Police Headquarters, which lies in the heart of Ardmore, just a few blocks from our school. “If there isn’t anybody locked up in any of the cells,” he told me, “we can go take a look at them.” I asked how often the cells are occupied. “Quite often,” Cavanaugh told me—“almost always.” Luckily, the cells were vacant on this particular night, and I got to look around. They were by no means comfortable living quarters, but they weren’t cruel either—a flat bed built into the wall, topped with a mattress with a built-in pillow and a blanket, a stainless steel toilet, a camera identical to the ones that hang in the halls of LM. That was it. When I asked what the temporary inmates are fed, I was surprised to learn that meals consisted of basic Wawa foods: a biscuit with egg and cheese for breakfast, a cheese sandwich and a bottle of water for lunch and dinner. Having finished our tour, Officer Cavanaugh and I began the night’s work. He would be working from 7 PM that night to 7 AM the following morning, but I only rode along until 11. We were responsible for Bryn Mawr, but because a few officers were sick that night, we would essentially be patrolling the entire west side of the district. Cavanaugh didn’t expect much excitement that night; almost apologetic in tone, he assured me that we would at least pull a few people, monitor the bars, maybe hand out a few tickets. So we found a side street on
which to monitor traffic, using a stopwatch to determine mileages, our lights off so as not to alert cars to our presence. It was then that we got the major call of the night. An elderly woman living in an apartment building over on Ardmore Avenue had heard people moving around in the vacant apartment above her—one that was meant to be locked and unoccupied. One car was already on the scene but was calling for backup. Next thing I know, we were going 85 mph down the street, sirens blaring, cars making way for us, streetlights changing from red to green as we approached. It was strangely thrilling. I knew that it wasn’t likely to be anything particularly exotic—like a band of illegal Mexican drug lords or a family of squatters—but I couldn’t help feeling the tingle of excitement that naturally follows anything slightly risky. By the time we arrived, the delinquents were already detained. I was told to stay in the car, but craning my neck, I could see six Harriton students, handcuffed and sitting on the curb outside the apartment. “None of you are 18?” I heard an officer ask. “No officer,” answered one of the boys, “we’re all 17.” I saw Cavanaugh head into the apartment building and exchange a few quick words with a superior officer. He then returned to the car and told me that I could follow him into the building. “One of them tried to run,” he told me, referring to the kids on the curb, “so we had to tackle him.” I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the kids. Standing on the porch of the apartment building was an elderly woman in a long fur coat, looking both startled and affronted. We were going to get a statement from her, but first we needed to secure the area— meaning that we had to look around and make sure that no one was left in the vacant apartment. So we headed up to the third floor and opened the door to the apartment. “Poke your head in there,” Cavanaugh told me. “What do you smell?” The scent of weed was overwhelming. “Smells like burning vegetation, doesn’t it?” I laughed and we went inside. It didn’t take Cavanaugh long to find a roach (a burnt marijuana butt) on the floor of the apartment, in addition to a few burn and ash marks. The Property Manager then showed up—a sweet old man responsible for taking care of the interior property. “These carpets are brand new,” he told us. “They were just installed a month ago.” He shook his head. “I think the owner is going to press charges.” Confident that there were no remaining
delinquents lurking in the apartment, we and maybe have a few drinks. Don’t get me went downstairs to get the older woman’s wrong—they were doing something that statement. She had first called the apart- they shouldn’t have been. But when you’re ment owner when she was sure that she interacting with the police, it matters a lot heard people in the apartment above, which how you behave.” had been vacant for the past two months. The apartment owner told her to go ahead and call the police. “Oh I hope they don’t get in an awful amount of trouble. I just want them slapped on the wrist. Scared so they won’t come back, and so they’ll tell their friends not to come back. They gave me an awful scare.” When we had successPhoto by Emily Shepard/Staff fully collected the statePictured above is the toilet inmates use when they are ments of the Property Mandetained in the Lower Merion Police Department. ager and the elderly woman, we returned to the streets. Our next notable Our only other noteworthy action was activity was pulling over a car with a broken responding to a caller who had been egged turning signal light. After getting the driver’s by a passing car. It was a young college kid license and registration, Cavanaugh put the headed into a bar who had been randomly woman’s information into the computer in egged and had decided to call the police. We his car, which serves as a giant database found out what had happened, took the kid’s allowing officers to verify that drivers truly statement, and did our best to search for the are who they claim to be and to check if guilty but ambiguously described “white their registration is suspended or expired. SUV.” We didn’t have much luck, and we The driver checked out, so Cavanaugh just aborted our search before long. let her know that the turning signal light was When 11 o’clock rolled around, Caout, gave her a warning, and wished her a vanaugh dropped me back off by the station. good night. “See, let’s say this happens to I thanked him for a memorable experience be this woman’s only interaction with the and was picked up by a few friends, who police. I know that most people don’t have a had been receiving text message updates great perception of throughout the night and were anxious to the police. In fact, hear the complete story. After fleshing out all I usually lie when the details for them, we checked Facebook, I’m meeting new looking specifically for the guilty Harriton people—I don’t say students. As we’d expected, we saw a slew that I’m a police of- of anguished status updates, something to ficer. People think the effect of “Grounded forever OMG this that police officers sucks!!” I felt, and do feel, really bad for are out to get them, these students. But I also feel bad for the old but this is my policy: I treat everyone exactly woman who lives alone and was frightened as they treat me. I once stopped a drunk by intruders into her apartment building, and looking man leaving a bar. I only meant to for the apartment owner whose brand new offer him a ride back to his house. ‘Hey, carpeting was ruined. I suppose I feel bad for what’s going on?’ I asked him. But when everyone involved, and I feel compelled to he took off running—well then I had to echo Cavanaugh’s sentiments. It’s not that chase him. This woman that we just pulled hard to carry on illegal behavior in a private over was perfectly nice to me, and she and quiet way—a way that won’t get you probably walked away thinking that I was in trouble and won’t hurt anyone else. Just perfectly nice as well. It’s all about behavior, always pay attention to how you’re doing because the one power that police officers what you’re doing, and who could potenhave is discretion. We can use discretion to tially suffer collateral damage from your determine how guilty someone seems, and night of fun. Thousands of kids belonging to how to behave accordingly. Had those kids all different generations have had their fun just kept it down earlier, they would have without getting caught and without messing had a perfect place to smoke some weed up anyone’s property.
“One of them tried to run, so we had to tackle him.” -Officer Cavanaugh
December 23, 2010
The Merionite EDITORIAL
EDITORIAL/LETTERS Letters to the Editor
Moving Beyond Bullying
Declaration of Independence
Bullying extends far beyond the parameters of high school TV shows and extends far beyond our advisory discussions on cyber confrontation or casual “put downs” that hurt people’s feelings. It also extends I have spent many a spring day in the LM cafeteria beyond the forward bully who intentionally hurts someone in order registering students to vote. I would like to clear up a to assert dominance, avoid confronting a personal shortcoming, or, misconception that Ella Schwamm mentioned in her most commonly, to get a laugh and a nod of approval from the socially recent article, “Thoughts of a First Time Voter.” Many “respected.” The most pervasive sort of bullying present in LM today is, students (and adults) share her misunderstanding. There is no “Independent Party” in Pennsylvania. If in fact, passive bullying. It is an ability that so many of us possess - the you do not register as a member of a political party, you ability to see someone be bullied and to allow it to persist; to chalk up show up on the voter rolls as “NP,” which stands for No our silence to fear or to claim that it is not our business is simply irreParty. sponsible - the wellbeing of our classmates is our business. To absolve The functional truth is that if you do not register with ourselves of the duty to defend one another is unacceptable. a party, it means you are giving away half of your voting Recently, a Merionite editor witnessed a case of bullying that exemrights. I think you can see that this is more like foolishplifies our passivity. This editor reports that he/she knows of a student ness, not “independence.” who spent an hour or so crafting a tool from school supplies to retrieve There are 2 elections every year. Only voters who are a helium balloon hanging in the Aces Atrium about 10 feet above his registered with a political party may vote in the spring head. When proudly sporting his balloon attached to his backpack in Primary, because the Primary is about each party choosthe cafeteria, another student ran up behind this student and popped ing its candidates. (There are some states that hold open Primary elections, but Pennsylvania is not one of them.) it. The bully then returned to a table of approving laughter from his Only in the November General election can any registrant friends. About half of the students in A lunch witnessed the event, but vote for any candidate. Everyone is “independent” in not one of them spoke up, reports the editor, who regrets his/her siNovember! lence. For this reason, I always encourage voters to register In our renewed LM initiative to stop bullying, we shouldn’t just fowith a party. However, more often than you would expect, cus on the active bullies like the balloon popper in the previous story. a student will tell me they don’t know enough to vote in a Bullying is a collective effort. By failing to confront a bully, we become Primary. I reply by reminding them that candidates send active participants. The table of laughing friends and the silence of the information to registered voters, and voters can talk to witnesses gave that bully his power and his motive – it is not human friends and parents about issues and candidates. Also, nature to enjoy causing pain, but it is human nature to enjoy being keep in mind that voters all over the place, who are not liked and accepted. While it is only a few of us that engage in active nearly as well educated as Lower Merion High School students, are never the less casting their votes. bullying, it is almost all of us that have, at some point, passively sub- Phyllis Rubin mitted our approval by laughing or remaining silent. LM Parent In light of recent events taking place both inside our school and nationwide, we should all consider how our actions – no matter how harmless and passive they may seem to us – may be hurting someone else. Being inactive condones bullying. It is imperative that we defend the honor of our school community, that we confront bullies in an effort to put an end to bullying. Whether or not we have personally bulSports Editors Danny Kane, ’12 Editors-in-Chief Conor Ferguson, ’11 lied or been bullied, the effects of bullying are evident- it Wenwen Yang, ’11 Leah Rosenbloom, ’11 impedes upon the primary purpose of a high school eduLayout Editor Anna Simon, ’11 Managing Editor Matt Rublin, ’11 cation- to teach students. It creates an environment in which students feel uncomfortable and it distracts stuWeb Editor Jake Delman, ’11 News Editors Maya Afilalo, ’12 dents. If we refuse to stand up for our classmates’ morEric Cohn, ’12 Photo Editor Madeline Berger, ’11 Ian Cohn, ’12 al rights, we are inconsiderate; however, if we refuse to Copy Editor Dann Weitz, ’11 stand up for the educational atmosphere of our school, Op-Ed Editors Avi Chatterjee, ’11 Jess Lebow, ’11 we are undermining our education, as our surroundBusiness Managers Andrew Sy, ’11 Jake Wellens, ’11 ings influence the way that we learn. Nick Normile, ’11
Arts & Entertainment Editors
Elizabeth Dunoff, ’11 Lisa Li, ’11 Danielle Moskow, ’11 Emily Shepard, ’11 Han Tran, ’11
Richie Weker, ’11
Staff Artists Zach Ostrum, ’11 Liora Ostroff, ’11 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 email@example.com or in Room 200A. 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.
Additional Photos by Alissa Neubauer, Anthony Li, Chris Conwell, Ilana Nathans, Kei Nakagawa, Michael Lefkoe, Talia Lieberman, Sara Cheloha, Sarah Schelling, Naava Feingold, Robert Zhou Unsigned editorial on this page reflects the general opinion of student editors, not the views of individuals.
December 23, 2010
Question of the Month
What role should effort and good conduct play in determining a student’s letter grade?
I think in most cases, a student that works hard and displays good conduct, should be the student that receives the push from a 91 to an A, or an extra day to make up an assignment. However, more subjective assessments should play the biggest role in determining a student’s letter grade.
Maggie Walker ‘11
Good conduct should have no bearing on a student’s grade – al t h o u g h g o o d c o n d u c t c a n lead to improved grades by creating an atmosphere in which the student will perform better. Effort should play a large role in student grades. School is more about the learning process than it is about what you actually learn. As long as a student is giving an honest effort, even if they struggle with the material, they can still learn about the learning process and how they learn best.
Robert Schanne Physics Teacher
On the one hand, a standards-based grade should really be determined by a student’s level of proficiency on academic standards, not by how hard he tried to reach them or how nice he was while trying. But the reality is that those behaviors do have a role in predicting future successes, so it might not be misleading to include them in a grade. In the end, there are many assignment types in most teachers’ courses that reward focus and effort as students are trying to learn new skills. It’s probably enough to have those assignment types influence a grade, without without fudging the results on major tests or projects that assess mastery of core standards. Those latter results should be the primary ones in determining a student’s grade.
-Michael Segal English Teacher
I think effort should be considered in bringing a student’s grade up if it is on the margin. This should be made clear at the outset. Lack of effort should not bring a student’s grade down. I think bad conduct is a matter of school discipline, not grading. Good conduct should be expected, not rewarded. Ned Barlas Parent
Art by Wenwen Yang/Staff
Effort should play a major role in determining a student’s letter grade. A student should not be punished for not being adept in a particular subject but should be rewarded for trying their best to get better at what they struggle with.
Art by Leah Rosenbloom/Staff
Justin Shapiro ‘11
Protesting Protest: The Right to Be Uncomfortable Class of 2011
If you’ve been living under a rock I will do you the service of explaining this briefly. Before you board an airplane in America, or any plane
headed for America, you will be molested. I oversimplified. Allow me to be more specific. You will be frisked for suspicious protrusions (hidden weapons, drugs, means of activating bombs, body parts, etc) that can only be detected by touch. Though you may feel like you are being caressed, you are actually being searched. Frisking, though undoubtedly invasive, has always been an acceptable procedure. But now, as TSA officials must use their palms rather than the back of their hands, it implies an unnecessarily lascivious intention and adds a degree of perversion to an otherwise impersonal act. Still, it’s not a root canal, and neither is the full body scanner, which is not a person with a specific task but a futuristic contraption that undresses you with its eyes. It creates a double-sided image of your naked body so that a designated security official can make sure you haven’t tucked anything away. That the general public should initially disapprove of these mechanisms is to be expected. A culture that stresses keeping contact with strangers to a bare minimum is not one in which intimate practices like these are likely to be accepted, even under the pretense of security. To many, the presence of a choice barely
makes a difference as one will be made to feel uncomfortable either way. On the surface, there are understandable reasons for opposing these practices and there are legitimate questions to be asked. Firstly, why the switch to palms? By how much does this really enhance the ability of a well-trained official to scope out prohibited items? Why isn’t anyone trying to make this experience more tolerable by way of smooth jazz? Would this be a problem at all if travelers could choose who was doing the frisking, perhaps on a TSA-sponsored version of hotornot.com? Has the administration never considered softening the process by giving people their choice of TSA official to frisk in return? And why has no one considered hiring nudists to work the scanners so as to keep travelers from feeling compromised? Any uniform practice requiring the cooperation of a group of individualists is one that must in some way cater to them. After all, the customer is always right. But not about everything. When I first heard about these changes, I, like most Americans, was too disgusted and incredulous to consider why they might be necessary. Few wouldn’t be disturbed by the image of a cancer survivor being forced to remove her prosthetic breast during a pat-down. This incident (which actually happened) has lent itself very generously to the cause of repealing the new measures as a whole. It has been cited as another “horror story” from the airport police state, acting as a sinister face for the entire security initiative, which, as it is new, is far from perfect. The incident should not be overlooked, for it highlights a legitimate grievance with TSA policy that should in time be addressed and corrected, and it will likely be one of many incidents that test the limits of airport security. Such incidents, while certainly troubling, are
necessary catalysts to the process of perfecting the new procedures, which will have to undergo a certain extent of reform if they are to remain. Problems invariably arise. The powerful friction between rights and safety is impossible to avoid in the modern world; technological innovation has perpetuated itself as quickly as the potential for danger – and given the way this difficult fact has evidenced itself even over the past fifty years, it is easy to see why authorities are inclined to rush to extremes. Any marginal improvement in security is notable when dealing with the inevitable. America boasts almost as many internal threats as external ones. However, we manage to believe that as American citizens, we are mostly exempt from the treachery of the world, which is in fact a lot more unsafe than we’d like to admit. If anyone can be a serial killer, anyone can be a terrorist; and on a planet of six billion egos, six billion vessels of consciousness all having experiences just as nuanced and intense as the next, it makes the most sense to treat everyone like a suspect, for humanity in itself is a curious enough condition. The main objection to uniform treatment is more ideological than pragmatic. Whether you are a liberal or a conservative, the pervading rationale in America is that the rights of the individual are paramount. Inherently we all want to be perceived as something that is separate from the whole – as beings of uniqueness and complexity, of emotions and sacred convictions that must by no means be suppressed. We feel dehumanized and vulnerable when we are reduced to objects, and it is this objectification that averts us to the TSA’s new procedures. A body is like a bag in that it can carry a drug or an instrument of harm, and so it is treated like one. The nude figure that rotates on the screen
is unmarked by a facial identity and as such it is inanimate, no longer a legitimate extension of self. It is interesting to note that nudity, a characteristic that confirms our shared humanity, is one that we find very vulgar and insulting – a slap in the face to the rugged individual. But death, especially when due to unnatural causes or terroristic inclinations, is an even greater slap in the face despite being universally inevitable. An instance of terror is more horrific than an instance of embarrassment or aggravation, and it is this difficult truth that must unfortunately direct aerial security. The most expedient way to protect the masses is to subject them all to the same restrictions, and this is so that self-entitled naysayers can live to whine all about them. But what are the implications of this sameness? When one mode of transportation is made more secure, another is exposed as being more vulnerable. The most worrisome consequence of TSA’s new process is the increased potential for danger in areas more populous than an airplane. As the London subway bombings of 2005 ominously dictate, it would be very easy to bomb New York’s much more populous transportation system if one were to be even the least bit inventive. This fact provokes the opponents of TSA’s new practices to declare that the TSA directly puts the rest of the nation at a greater risk than before, and in doing so, they say, it will invariably cause security to heighten everywhere and thus make it impossible to enjoy oneself in public. While this concern is legitimate, I anticipate that public places like malls, museums, corporate buildings, trains, buses, and even city streets will eventually be tightened up anyway. Whether or not the TSA’s new practices are in place, the whole world will be fair game, and as soon as something happens it just might be too late.
December 23, 2010
President Obama: A New Hope or A New Hopeless? Class of 2012
Barack Obama once famously described Pennsylvanians as bitter, clinging to guns and religion. Now, I’ll take a
crack at describing his issues. President Barack Hussein Obama’s problems stem from the fact that he was caught up in a groundswell of support from Americans of all walks of life. Now, just over two years after he was elected, much of that support has faded. The enthusiasm is dead. For much of America, “Yes we can!” has become “No he can’t!” Perhaps the reason that Obama’s popularity has faded, is that he has failed to pull through for many of his most loyal supporters. He has failed to pass cap-and-trade and fund other projects supported by environmentalists. He has failed to pass the Employee Free-Choice Act, a top priority for unions. He has failed to bring home all the troops from Iraq and has in fact sent more troops to Afghanistan. He has failed to live up to his many campaign promises and now
his base is abandoning him. The legislative accomplishments that Barack Obama does have under his belt are just that, legislative. While he gets to sign the bill and brag about passing it, when the effects of his efforts are examined, results are few and far between. Take the auto-bailouts early in Obama’s term. Out of the “Big 3” American automakers, two - GM and Chrysler - accepted the bailout and one - Ford rejected it. By rejecting the government money, Ford was able to stay independent, hold reasonable negotiations with their unions, and ultimately restructure their company in the most efficient way. It paid off, because today, w h i l e Ford rebounded and is once again booming, GM is struggling to simply pay back the money it borrowed from the government and a large part of Chrysler was recently acquired by a foreign company.
Is this “change we can believe in”? With the economy on the forefront of everyone’s minds these days, it’s important to examine Obama’s accomplishments in that field. Well, recently the Congressional Office said that the effects of the “Stimulus” are “diminishing.” An unemployment rate still over 9% is not reassuring at all. And this figure more than doubles when people who have settled for part-time jobs or left the workforce altogether are included. Obama’s noble attempt to reform healthcare ended with a watered down bill that left both supporters and opponents of healthcare reform u n h a p p y. A key provision Art by Zach Ostrum/Staff of the bill that forces people to buy health insurance is now at risk of being struck down in court for being unconstitutional. Not only has Barack Obama failed to retain the brief unification of our great
Waiting to hit the road
Class of 2013
As a teen who will be able to get her driver’s permit in just a couple of months, I’m getting antsy. I can’t wait to
drive – I feel like it is long overdue. In many states, Colorado for example, you can receive your driver’s license when you turn 16. This is not the case in Pennsylvania. South Dakota has the youngest driving age in the country. You can get your license there when you are 14 years and 3 months old if you have taken driver’s education. Ok, so South Dakota has only some 800,000 people, two interstates and is almost entirely rural, whereas Pennsylvania has over 12 million people, 16 interstates and a large urban population. Maybe that explains why teens there get to drive so much earlier than teens do here. But that doesn’t really help… If a kid from South Dakota can drive at 14, then at 16, I should be able to drive too. In Alabama, the driving age is 15. So kids from South Dakota and Alabama can drive through my town at 14 and 15. It’s just not fair. Do they have an education and experience or maturity level that we here in Pennsylvania lack? Now, I know that texting and teenage alcohol use are factors that influence the driving age, and
it is true that the New Jersey driving age is 17, but if kids in other states can drive at 14 and 15, it seems only fair that teens in Pennsylvania and New Jersey alike be permitted to drive when they are 16. If not, then wouldn’t a national driver’s license age requirement be fair? Aren’t texting and teenage alcohol use national problems? If teens can vote nationally at age 18 and drink alcohol at age 21, then why not adopt a national driver’s license standard? If the problems are so great and teens’ maturity levels so low that driving ages should be higher, at 16 ½ or 17, then everyone should have to live by the same standard. Why should the driving age be uniform? Because at a certain point, we reach a maturity level when we should be able to take on the responsibility of driving. I know the importance of wearing a seat belt, not texting while driving, not drinking and driving, and avoiding distractions when behind the wheel. Personally, I don’t know whether or not a 14 or 15 year-old has that awareness or whether they are ready to take on the responsibility that goes with being behind the wheel. A national standard works for voting, it works for alcohol use, it works for military service. Why not for driving? In the meantime, here I am, waiting. Since it is unlikely that I will be moving to South Dakota anytime soon, and since it is also unlikely that the minimum age limit for driving in Pennsylvania or nationally will decrease in the next several months, I am left counting down the days until I can apply for my permit. Watch out world, sooner or later, here I come. Art by Shoshana Gordon/Staff
nation that occurred immediately after his election, but, he has also successfully managed to polarize the United States even further. With his fervent attacks on banks and other members of our financial sector, he has pitted many Americans against them in a sort of Bolshevist struggle. The irony of this example is that the record shows that in 2008 Wall Street contributed much more money to the Democratic Party than to the Republican Party. Obama’s idealism led to one of the nastiest campaign seasons in recent memory. After the triumph of finally electing a black President, the nation now has worse racial relations than it has in years. Anybody remember that fiasco in which Barack Obama said that those cops “acted stupidly” and eventually had to make up for it by inviting the police officer he insulted to the White House for a “beer summit”? Now, with a battle over illegal immigration looming on the horizon, Obama’s presidency threatens to divide the nation even further. So far, Barack Obama has failed to pull through on the many or really any of the major goals that he set for America. Perhaps he needs more time. Perhaps his plans haven’t come to full fruition yet. But he has had almost two years now, and I for one am still waiting to see results.
A sorry squad Dear LM, Many of you know us as “The Squad.” However, in reality we all are individuals with individual feelings, and thoughts. Before we continue, we would like to apologize to anyone that has ever felt threatened or has been harmed by our mistakes or actions. Though at times we may come across as bitchy and conniving, please believe us when we say that this is not who we actually are. We have made some mistakes, and we have paid the price for them. We have since learned from those mistakes and are ready to move forward and to start over. Freshman class especially, we are sorry for the way that we have treated you. We were once freshman and we especially know what it feels like to be bullied… however, none of you deserved to be victimized and harmed the way that you were by us. Everyone makes mistakes and we’re only human. Since we are viewed as a group, people often assume that we’re all a part of what happens. In the past two years, our actions have gradually
worsened our reputation at this school and in the community. Although we may seem mean, we do have feelings and we are deeply sorry for the way that we affected the community. We all feel genuinely guilty and have great remorse for what we have done. We hope that the LM community can accept this apology as a way of moving forward and as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and the desert the negative image that we have created. So again, we’re sorry to all of those who have been hurt through the actions of “The Squad.” We never intended to create a situation like this, and we hope because of this apology, people will give us the chance to show a more compassionate side and, we hope that they be willing to recognize us as individuals instead of “The Squad.” Please give us the chance to prove to all of you that we are in fact nice girls. Sincerely, Troi Williams, Bar Woidislavsky, Brielle Dunne, Stephanie Paley, Drew Williams, and Sydney Blum. Art by Jess Lebow/Staff
December 23, 2010
Class of 2013
Last month, right before Thanksgiving break, Lower Merion students sat through yet another S.A.D.D. assembly
Pasquier on drug and alcohol use among teenagers-but this assembly was different. It was a presentation delivered by the drug and alcohol education “expert” Jeff Wolfsberg, showcasing his alternative style to educating teens on the issue. Mr. Wolfsberg told funny stories, cracked jokes and encouraged us to speak freely about our relationship with drugs and alcohol in an unorthodox attempt to engage us students and incite our interest in his presentation. Following the assembly, I, along with a group of “student leaders,” participated in a two-hour seminar with Mr. Wolfsberg in which we discussed more thoroughly his views on drug and alcohol education. Throughout this seminar I sensed that through his personal experience, he had concluded that it was futile to come into schools and preach about the harm of substances and that it was altogether ineffective to strive for abstinence. This liberal viewpoint excited the student audience and led them to agree with Mr. Wolfsberg on many issues, but this agreement did not come in the form the school desired: instead, the message I saw was a vindication for the illegal, albeit sometimes fun, substance usage of students. I do admire Mr. Wolfsberg’s attempt to change the style of drug and alcohol education by engaging the students in a more fun and open presentation. On Mr. Wolfberg’s website he states: “We believe intimidation, half-truths, and scare tactics are poor choices to build a foundation of trust with students,” a statement with which I whole-heartedly agree since it is evident that these more traditional styles of education have not been very effective in permeating the teen culture of substance abuse. The traditional view of preaching abstinence may not work when done in a boring, baseless manner, but this should
not mean that Mr. Wolfsberg abandon What if that personal truth Mr. this method altogether. The notion Wolfsberg so greatly emphasized that abstinence doesn’t work and that decides it wants to do drugs? He exas a result we must accept that teens pressed to our smaller group that he will drink and do drugs constitutes believes that there should be informaan unproductive message. One that I tion available for people who make assume the school did not intend for the ‘personal’ decision to do drugs on us to hear. how to get high most safely. He even Mr. Wolfsberg’s website states: “We shockingly described to us the safe way believe that effective drug education to do ’shrooms: In a cool, comfortable needs to abandon the old style where place, familiar to the user, and with at students ask questions of the authority least one friend who isn’t getting high figure and the authority figure dispenses to watch the situation. His progressive wisdom and advice. This approach rein- views on the availability of such inforces the reliance on an outside figure formation allow for drugs to become a and the tendency to look for truth out- safe thing, thereby potentially making side ourselves. We believe students are them a fun thing. more likely to explore their beliefs and Mr. Wolfsberg’s sloppy distinction behaviors around substance between right and wrong on the isuse when programs are sue of drugs and alcohol presented that promote opens up great amengagement, trust, and biguity for teenmutual respect.” agers dealing Mr. Wolfsberg with hard demisses a funcisions every damental weekend. The element of goal of drug the issue of and alcohol drugs and aleducation in cohol- that our schools should be to use of drugs discourage students and alcohol from participating is mainly in substance use, b a s e d a goal which Mr. upon its Wolfsberg does relationnot express conship with vincingly. On others and his website Mr. with our Wolfsberg highculture. We lights what he do look for believes is the truth outside defining facArt by Liora Ostroff/ Staff ourselves betor of Drug cause acceptance of drugs and alcohol and alcohol education: Dialogue. is a societal issue, not a personal one. “Dialogue is not about judging, weighSocietal pressure plays a central role in ing, or making decisions, but about our use of substances, and therefore I understanding and learning. Dialogue disagree with his assertion about some dispels stereotypes, builds trust, and ‘complex personal connection’ between enables people to be open to perspecthe substance and the student. Drug and tives that are very different from their alcohol education’s goal should not own.” Unfortunately for him the goal be to have us “explore [our] beliefs... of drug and alcohol education should around substance,” its goal should be not be to discuss different perspectives to encourage us not to do it for many but to press abstinence - how could the life-altering reasons by showing us the school lawfully, or morally, teach us serious health risks and social risks as- anything less? sociated with substance. Ultimately, the Mr. Wolfsberg’s website claims goal for a government-run institution that “at the end of each program, the like the school should be abstinence, participants walk out with a new world because the bottom line is that these view.” That may be true, but is it the substances are ILLEGAL. right one?
Re: The “Right” Approach Sitting in the room with Jeff Wolfsberg was the only time I have ever felt
Class of 2011
The “Right” Approach to Drug Education?
comfortable talking about drugs and alcohol in school. I’ve been through health class, S.A.D.D. assemblies, and counselor sessions, but never have I felt the way I did that day. Finally, finally, there wasn’t someone wasting my time by lecturing me on the harms of drugs. I am a capable, intelligent human being—as are all of my Lower Merion classmates—and I know the consequences of doing drugs. Black lung, killed brain cells, cancer, faulty liver, drunk driving casualties—we’ve all heard these things and we all know that they’re bad. So why do high schoolers do drugs? Andrew suggests it is societal. I disagree. Jeff Wolfsberg spent the first half of his presentation explaining why he turned to drugs— and it wasn’t because of peer pressure. It was because he had a hard home life with a bi-polar mother who literally left him on the side of the road. It was because he felt lost, and because he felt alone. These are extremely personal things that Jeff shared with us because he wanted us to know that some students who turn to drugs and alcohol aren’t trying to seem “cool” or “rebel” against society, but that they are in genuine need of help. Instead of teaching abstinence, which is obviously a convoluted theory that does not work
in practice (Bristol Palin, anyone?), he taught us to support one another, especially when we make questionable decisions. Because let’s be honest—even if it’s not drug or alcohol abuse, we all make questionable decisions all the time. And when it comes time to put those decisions to practice for better or for worse, at least because of people like Jeff Wolfsberg we will have the knowledge to do so safely and with a system of support. Lastly, I would like to question Andrew’s statement that there is a distinction between “right” and “wrong” when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Of course drugs and underage drinking are illegal—there is daily bloodshed over drugs all over the world and of course the government doesn’t want violence in our communities. But just because something is illegal does not mean it is morally wrong. And it doesn’t matter which philosophy you use to define morality: putting something into your body is inherently personal, and even if it is illegal, it is not for Andrew or for anyone else to say what is moral when it comes to alcohol consumption or other drugs. It is up to Andrew if he wants to discourage people from using and drinking, but I think Jeff Wolfsberg had an exemplary message. If you want people to listen, don’t be condescending. If you want to teach students about drugs and alcohol, discuss the issue on an even playing field, and work to make the world a little safer if you can. Tell your friends that it’s okay to talk about it, because accusing all students who do drugs of being morally reprehensible is just going to further estrangement and addiction.
Mooches, alternative found: Do your own work. Class of 2011
A few years ago, my assigned lab partner refused to participate for the sixth lab in a row, and I snapped. I an-
grily demanded that he at least attempt to appear as if he were doing something constructive. Contrary to my expectations, he responded that, unlike me, he did not care whether he received an A or an F on the assignment. Since we were being graded as a group, this sentiment meant that I would have to suffer in order to make him suffer and he knew that I would not let myself fail an assignment just to prove a point.
The American education system encourages group work as a way to develop interactive skills and prevent some kids from becoming future hermits and cat ladies. Sometimes though, I wonder if a “group project” is another name for “be lazy and let one person do all the work”. While I admire the efforts of educators to promote teamwork and cooperation, I am appalled to find that so few teachers have safeguards against slackers. Putting a student who strives for a C in a group with students striving for an A is not only an injustice to the group as a whole, but also to the slacker, who ends up having a harder time learning the material as a result of his or her lack of incentive to contribute to the group. Knowing full well that the assignment is in good hands, these types of students would not personally need to worry about making sure that the project is well done. An alternative would be having an assignment where students pick their own partners.
The problem with this, however, is that the awkward turtle tends to make frequent visits when a lazy student asks to be in a group
Art by Liora Ostroff/ Staff
of studious students. Since it has become common twenty-first century etiquette to accept these kinds of offers, even at the risk of taking on a heavier workload, rejecting these offers can label the naysayer as, in the words of Michelle Tanner, a cheesehead. I do not doubt that some of these lazy students are in fact quite smart and belong in the classes they have been put in. In most cases however, being intelligent is just not enough. If a student does not contribute to the group, he or she may as well be the kid who still eats paste – no matter how smart they may be. In an effort to lessen the negative effects of this unfortunate flaw in our education system, I ask students to actually do work in a group assignment. Everyone will most likely have to face this type of situation someday, whether it may be in school or in the workplace. In any case, just try to keep in mind how much of an inconvenience it is for the other group members to have to complete extra work that should have been done by another member in a group assignment.
December 23, 2010
Class of 2013
A coin that once held much more value, the U.S. penny, has now become obsolete due to decades of inflation. The two-centimeter, 97%
zinc, copper plated coin has lost virtually all of its purchasing powers. The production and physical handling of the penny costs the US about 900 million dollars each year. As the penny’s value has decreased, the gap between the coin’s production cost and its face value has widened. As of February 2010, the cost to make a penny has risen to 1.62 cents. This money is coming directly from taxpayer’s pockets. The rise in production cost has been mainly due to the rise in the cost of zinc. The US Mint loses an average of 40 million dollars per year to penny production alone. It is more profitable to melt a penny than use it, which is why the US Mint made it illegal to do so. The transaction and handling of pennies itself also costs us money by the second – a phenomenon known as “Opportunity Cost.” “Opportunity Cost” of a decision is essentially what is given up as a result of the decision. The best way to explain this is perhaps with a simple example. Suppose Bill Gates is at work and he sees a hundred dollar bill on the floor: if he chooses to take a second away from work time in order to pick up this bill, it will cost him the equivalent of 1,700 dollars, because he makes an average of 1,700 dollars per second. Let’s apply the same thought process to an average citizen and an average penny. The average American worker gets paid seventeen dollars per hour, or two pennies per second. So the fifteen seconds this citizen is waiting for those three cents in change, he/she is losing the opportunity to make thirty cents. The opportunity cost of time spent handling money per year is estimated to be $3.65 per person. It may not seem like a lot, but when you multiply it by the number of people in United States, the money wasted is close to about one billion dollars per year. There have been many disputes between economists about whether discontinuation of the production of the penny will lead to a rise in prices. Many postulate that costs of everyday goods will rise if prices are rounded to the nickel, but that’s really not a lot more. You have to keep in mind only the total (tax included) price will be rounded. So a shopping spree extravaganza at your local Rite Aid that would have cost $789.27 would have ended up costing $789.30. For an entire purchase, the most one would pay is four cents more, and sometimes even less if rounded down. And don’t forget this is only if you are paying in cash. For those who are still hesitant about the prices- take a look at some of the discontinuations from the past. The US half-cent coin was discontinued back in 1857 due to its
production cost surpassing its face value. The half-cent coin had a purchasing power equivalent to today’s eleven cents. This just means that today’s eleven cents had the same value as a half-cent coin from the 1850s. A coin with the similar value to today’s dime was discontinued and even then there was no major impact on commerce. For a more modern example, take a look at New Zealand. The Kiwis discontinued their one-penny coins in 1989, and then the two-penny coins in 1991. Neither commerce nor consumer confidence in the monetary systems suffered from either discontinuation. As we advance in an age where technology is improving our daily lives, the lack of a physical copy of the lowest denomination of currency really is no longer an issue. The value of a cent will still exist through electronic means as it saves us more materials, time, and ultimately money. There are more credit cards and debit cards than there are people here in the United States, approximately 300 million more. Having a bank issued card has become a must nowadays in order to establish a good credit score and receive loans for colleges, cars, or houses. Looking at general trends of the past few decades, the numbers of cardholders have and still are increasing. By using these means of payment, we are actually saving ourselves precious time, a few tax dollars and other “opportunity costs.” There’s also another reason- a silly reason, I think- why some people believe pennies should stay: because small charities need them, and people are supposedly hesitant to donate their nickels. I don’t believe many people will hesitate to donate their nickels, and if they do, one donator can make up for those four other hesitators. Plus, the annual opportunity cost of using pennies is four times the value of all pennies donated to charities each year. The penny has been a part of the U.S. monetary system for more than two hundred years now. The modern U.S. penny- featuring Abraham Lincoln’s bust on one side- replaced the Old Indian Head in 1909. It was created due much to the public’s persuasion, and celebrated the 16th President’s 100th birthday. The one-cent coin also happens to be the first mass produced U.S. coin to bear a portrait. Many “sentimentalists” today argue that the penny is not completely useless and has become an “epitome of modern day circulating coin tradition.” Many people did grow up with this Abraham Lincoln coin and do not want to see it discontinued. But putting aside these penny traditions- the discontinuation of this “production at loss” coin can save the government a lot of tax money. In the 1930s, a bag of popcorn or a candy bar was one Lincoln cent. Fast forward seventy years later: there is virtually nothing that can be bought with a penny. Lincoln himself would agree to get rid of his valueless penny.
Hitting the Green With over three months of the school year already in the books, most of us are finally getting comfortable in the new Class of 2014
Scolnic school. We’ve accepted that lockers might still be as useless as they were in the old building; we are coping with the fact that our C-day schedule might have us going from the third floor, down to lunch, and back up to the third floor for our next set; we’ve faced the reality that we might have to bring two chairs with us to our lunch table every day, just to be able to sit with our friends. Once we accepted all of that, most of us also had to see that this new school is nothing like the old one. Like it or not, there are things in the new school that are here to stay, and we have to adapt to them. I’m not talking about the amazing new spots like the black box theater or the Aces Atrium, but more about the things we put in those spots. The old school never had motion-sensor water fountains, waterless urinals, or energy saving lights. Most of these appliances have been installed because in some way or another, they are saving us energy and operating more efficiently than their obsolete predecessors in the old LM. All of this sounds great on paper, but when put into use, they might not be as revolutionary as you’d think. During the course of my first weeks of school this year, I struggled with the new technology. Last week after a hard gym class, I stopped at a water fountain. I leaned over, ready to drink, but nothing came out. I expected the motion sensor to pick up my body, but I guess I wasn’t noticeable enough. Since I was walking with my friend, I decided to make a joke by stepping back for a moment and danc-
ing in front of the fountain. I figured that if I could teach the water fountain how to “Dougie,” then maybe it would give me some water in return. Thankfully, after two moves, I got my 5 seconds worth of water to come out. However, that experience got me wondering—is this technology really all it’s cracked up to be? I asked a few other students how they felt about the new water fountains. Freshman Monica Weitz had an opinion that I didn’t even think about. “I think they are a waste of water because if you just slightly walk past them they can turn on and waste water,” she said. While I had been thinking about how difficult they were to turn on, Weitz realized the opposite. She found the sensors so easy to trigger that the fountains might actually be wasting water as opposed to saving water like they are supposed to. However, the motion sensored water fountains aren’t the only new technological “improvements.” Half the school doesn’t have to deal with them, but any male student knows about the waterless urinals. Most guys have opinions on them too. “The urinals are disgusting because there is no running water. It makes the bathrooms smell like urine because nothing gets washed away,” said a freshman boy who asked to remain anonymous. If you have been in the boys’ bathrooms lately, you would find it hard to disagree. Upon entering the boys’ bathrooms your nostrils become flooded with a foul stench that makes you want to run back out and hold it till you get home from school. On the other hand, some students are completely indifferent to the technological advances in the school. “The building is basically better, but at first the new technology felt disorienting and unnecessary. [The changes] are definitely not easy to get used to,” said Senior Ben Edelman. Edelman feels that over time, students won’t even care about the new technology. He brings up the interesting view that students will become accustomed to the new technology. Once we get used to our bathrooms smelling terrible, will they really smell terrible, or will they just smell like bathrooms? According to Dennis Witt, Supervisor of Safety, Security & Custodians for LMSD, the new school doesn’t require more cleaning, just a different approach to the job. When asked about the ever smelly urinals he said, “In a nutshell, [the urinals] don’t require more upkeep, just cleaning a little differently than we were in the old building.” He seemed optimistic about the new school as a whole. “The school as a whole will be easier to clean for custodians because of the new condition of the building. The old building was broken up into many additions, but this building has a better flow to it.” So whether or not you like the changes in the school, get used to them because they’re going to be here for a while. If it means learning how to “jerk” just so you can get a drink of water, then that is just what we’ll have to deal with. *Art by Shoshana Gordon/Staff
December 23, 2010
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LM’s Future Through Its Superintendent
Class of 2011 Education in America is under a microscope. Pundits, parents and politicians alike are analyzing and questioning the way in which students are being taught and new technology is being used. States are beginning to create new standardized proficiency tests. Some are even saying that the achievement gap is getting wider and that little is being done to solve the problem. How has our District fared during this scrutinizing time? In my exclusive interview with Dr. Christopher McGinley, Lower Merion School District Superintendent, we discussed these wide ranging topics, which included those dreaded Keystone Exams and the District’s attempts at closing the achievement gap. If approved, the class of 2015 would be the first class of students to be mandated to take the Keystone Exams. In May, eighth graders in the District will be taking an Algebra proficiency test, the first ever Keystone Exam. Once the District reviews the test and sees whether or not it is a good indicator of success, a final decision will be made about its future in our district. McGinley, however, questions the usefulness of this new wave of standardized testing. He called the Keystone Exams “completely unnecessary” and maintained that, “We have high expectations as a School District—we’re a successful School District. We have other indicators of success. We have meaningful midterms and finals and we don’t need the Keystone Exams.”
McGinley went on to say that he has, “been opposed to them from the outset and [has] spoken out against them to any political figures that would listen.” Though McGinley acknowledges that he will, “certainly follow the mandates of the state,” he insists that the District, “won’t sit by and allow our students to waste their time on these exams.” McGinley ensured that if the exams are state-mandated, the District plans on creating its own assessment as an alternative to the test and will then petition for the state to approve their version. In an attempt to close the achievement gap, the District adopted the “one child at a time method”— the philosophy whereby helping one child at a time in math, science, or English will eventually have a larger effect by improving individual improvement while simultaneously closing the cumulative gap. However, McGinley notes that, “over time, districts tend to realize that they need to address a number of issues that are related to the achievement gap. So it’s usually not enough to have a strong tutoring program or a strong intervention program to try to narrow the achievement gap. You usually need to go deeper and look at the structure of the instructional program and look at the interaction between teachers and students.” “We’ve looked at parent and student engagement as an issue and we’ve looked at the knowledge base of our teachers and have developed a core of teachers who have studied cultural proficiency… so that people could
become more aware that a [student’s] identity McGinley stated that, “using technology for the as a learner is a factor in how the learning occurs sake of using technology is not the mission of the in the classroom.” school district. Using technology in support of McGinley pointed to the Minority other goals is the mission of the school district.” Achievement Program He then said that the recent (MAP) as an example of lawsuit regarding the laptops a District initiative that has put heightened awareness has been instrumental in on how the computers are jumpstarting the effort being implemented into the to close our school’s student’s curriculum and achievement gap. He he laments that “while the boasted that, “the MAP district was innovative in model is unique in the way its use of technology, [some that it was teacher-initiated of] the innovations weren’t and teacher-driven. The connected directly to people that were closest student learning and weren’t with the students and really connected directly to our understand what goes on curriculum.” in the course of the day As you will see on the came up with their own following pages, it is a crucial solution to a problem.” time in American education. McGinley then noted the Radical changes are on the newfound successes of horizon, some of which could the Committee to Superintendent McGinley pledges influence education in Address Race in to petition Keystone implementation Lower Merion for years to Education (CARE). come. Though the changes He mentioned that the District had taken Dr. have the potential to send shockwaves around Deitra Spence, the Principal of Welsh Valley the community, Dr. McGinley insists that, “we Middle School, out of her position and has made are obviously one of the premier school districts her a special assistant to the Superintendent in the country and we are one of the top School that focuses on parent engagement and parent Districts in the state. I would like us to be the outreach through the CARE program. top School District in the state in the next five In addressing technology’s role in the district, years.”
December 23, 2010
Will LM Change Its Grading Policy...Again? Class of 2012
How did you do this quarter? How was the midterm? How was the final? While these questions –posed from student to student after major exams and the end of quarters– have remained the same for years, the grading policies that determine their answers certainly have not. Until this year, grades were determined by a Quality Point Average (QPA) system, under which a student’s final grade was calculated according to the letter grade received for the quarters, midterm, and final. Before the QPA system, a similar system was in place named the “trend system.” According to Principal Sean Hughes, this system was “radical” when first introduced in the late 80s to early 90s. Under this system, a student’s grade was calculated by consulting a chart that listed every possible combination of quarter, midterm, and final grades. The chart listed the final year grade next to the combination. Beginning this year, the QPA system was replaced with a percentage-based system. “My understanding was that it had a lot to do with accuracy of the grade, with what you were being assessed upon. [The grading committee] wanted a system that gave a better view of the student all four quarters and the exams than what you could have with the QPA system,” said Hughes on the reason for the switch in systems. “[In the QPA system] if you got straight As, first quarter second quarter, you could blow off the rest of the year. And that’s not a good assessor of how you’re doing in [school].” Hughes added that the new system is a better indicator of academic life in college.
The Keystone Exams- what an ominous idea. Since spring 2009 when the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the state legislature compromised on the “Keystone Exams,” rumors have been circulating and teachers and school districts have been fretting over what may well be one of the biggest changes to our educational system in the last half-century. And this controversial change to graduation requirements in Pennsylvania is not unique—the Keystone Exams reflect a growing trend within the United States towards the more prominent role of standardized assessments in our educational system. Over the last two hundred years as our society has industrialized and our population has expanded, we have created a system of standardized education in order to cope with the large numbers of students and in order to set base standards on which to compare the multitude of students. Standardized testing was not traditionally part of Western teaching; instead, education was based upon the Socratic tradition of open-ended dialogue and assessment, and often it was only available to the societal elite. During the Industrial Revolution when education became compulsory, it became necessary to create a system of standardized assessments in order to ensure the students were retaining the basic levels of knowledge instituted by the government. In the same way the huge increase in pupils within the United States forced increased standardization in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the increased globalization of the world and competition from abroad today has again caused the United States to escalate the role of standardized testing. Almost a decade ago the No Child Left Behind Act, created with bipartisan support, outlined a standardsbased education reform in which federal education funding is tied to the states implementing their own standardized assessments. Last year, Pennsylvania took the trend a bit further and laid out new graduation requirements, the central element of these new requirements being the Keystone Exams. As summarized on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website, students will have to “demonstrate proficiency in each main subject as determined by a state-developed Keystone Exam counting as at least
“In college you’re not going to want to blow off, not study for your final. You’re going to need that,” he said. Others echoed Hughes’s sentiment. “I think the new grading system reflects the attitudes people have in an increasingly competitive country and world,” said junior Aziz Kamoun. According to a survey conducted by the District last year, before the implementation of the new system, parents and teachers supported the new system, while students opposed it in a 2:1 ratio. “In the old system, a student could have an average of 87 and receive and A, and another could have an average of 95 and get a B. That’s shady,” said math teacher John Vaccaro, who sat on the grading committee. Although the percentage-based system has only been in place for a little more than a quarter, there has already been talk of replacing it with a new, “standards-based” system. Under this system, students would be graded based on whether they have mastered the content taught in class on an advanced level, a proficient level, or a basic level. “At this point, we’re just having some preliminary discussions in terms of terminology. … [The real question is] are
33% of a course grade.” These changes will replace the PSSA’s, the current tests which do not have much bearing on us as students, with high-stakes exams on which students will have to achieve the state-determined “proficient” in every subject in order to graduate from high school. Initially, the exams will act as the final assessment in the courses of Algebra I, Biology, English Composition and Literature, with more required courses to be added two years into the program. These exams could drastically affect seniors and add much stress the last few months before graduation, doing away with the usually afforded repose for the second-semester senior.
Luckily for all of LM’s current students, we dodge the bullet, as the new graduation requirements do not apply until the class of 2015. Regardless, this overall trend towards higher-stakes standardized testing will still be felt by us as the test phases of the Keystones are implemented in the next couple of years and as LMSD prepares for these major changes. Several weeks ago, I sat down with the LMSD Curriculum Coordinator Steve Barbato to get his view on the implementation of the Keystone Exams and the move in general to standardized testing in our education. When asked whether he thought the Keystone Exams would change the curriculum, Barbato predicted that “there might be some components in the Keystones that have us adjust the curriculum a bit, but I don’t think it spells a wholesale change, because it’s written from the current state standards—so theoretically [the district is] already aligned to those. Is it going to change what we do dramatically? I don’t see it.” He did, however, express agreement when I pointed out that the new graduation requirements would probably greatly affect the student. “Well that’s the thing—the pressure now changes from one that was on the PSSA’s, which is more about us looking at the data and seeing how we
Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff we grading based on procedures – do we do all our homework? – or are we learning?” said Hughes. The standards-based system would aim to reward students for learning the content of the class as opposed to merely completing procedures for the class (e.g. turning in work on time, doing homework, etc.). From the trend system to a standards-based system, and everything in between, grading at LM will always be a controversial issue that elicits strong student, parent, and teacher responses.
can tweak it and work with our instructional practices, to now for graduation [students] have to be proficient or advanced in all major subjects. I don’t think it’s going to harm [students], and I think most of our kids will do well. But is it going to create more angst and stress along the way? It will.” Barbato also explained what he believes is the reason the state is implementing these high-stakes exams. “From an educational value perspective, the reason that the state is purporting this is because they want to be able to have students leaving high school, entering higher education, without having to take remediation courses. Altruistically, I would say that that is a good reason, but I don’t think that’s reality. The reality is that because of No Child Left Behind legislation from 2001 and because of the direction the state is going with accountability, they are more driven right now to show that there’s a standardized test that they’re improving on.” The reality of this trend leads the state governments and school districts to develop new hard-line standards for schools to meet, but does Barbato think this is a good thing? “Not really. I think our assessments now do a pretty good job on seeing how you’re doing, and I wish we could prove that to the state but you know we’ve already done our testimony at the state. We lost that battle.” Now the task is for us as students and us as a nation is to determine exactly what type of standardized assessment produces both an accurate and telling picture of a student’s knowledge in relation to our educational goals as a country. “Yes I agree with that goal, [of] being held more accountable and comparable nationally and internationally,” says Barbato. “I do think it’s a good thing, but I do think they went about it the wrong way with this high-stakes test, because if you compare the students in Lower Merion School District to the students somewhere like in Philadelphia the task of preparing students for the Keystones is a lot more daunting.” Regardless of your opinion on the Keystone Exams or this overall trend towards standardization, let us all hope we as a nation and we as the Lower Merion community will continue to strive to improve our educational system to secure our success in today’s global environment.
The will of LM: an analysis Matt Rublin
Class of 2011 In the fifteen months since the Lower Merion School District established the 1:1 laptop initiative at LM, computers have become a common sight inside the classrooms. Students are more likely to be seen typing on their MacBooks as they are to be seen reading a textbook. Yet do these computers hinder the learning process they are supposed to enhance? In a pair of comprehensive surveys, The Merionite found that teachers have mixed feelings on the use of computers in their classrooms while students have become heavily attached to their laptops- that is, for both learning and leisure. The polls, conducted over a three-day span, gathered the opinions of 555 students and 71 teachers on a wide variety of topics including the usefulness of Advisory and Academic Recovery, the four-day schedule cycle, and the current curriculum. But perhaps the most noteworthy results came from questions about the role of the 1:1 laptops in students’ daily learning. The Merionite found that students, on average, spend 2.9 hours per day on their 1:1 laptops doing school-related work and studies and 2.3 hours on social networking, games, music, and other non-educational activities. Thus, for a student who wakes up at 6 AM and goes to sleep at 11 PM, almost a third of his/her day is spent in front of the 1:1 laptop screen- which does not even include time spent on home computers or other electronic devices. 73% of student respondents said that, overall, they are permitted to use their laptops at least 50% of the time in classes. This is a stark departure from less than two years ago, when students would have access to school laptops only if their teacher granted them permission to the classroom laptop carts. Even as students have seemed to have enthusiastically accepted the 1:1 laptops, teachers are still unsure of their effects. While a majority of teachers support the 1:1 program and 59% permit their students to use them in an average class, almost 60% of teachers think that students do not pay the majority of their attention to the material at hand when using their laptops in class. A plurality of students—47%— acknowledged they are less likely to pay attention to teacher instruction when using their laptops in class. “I do wonder how much psychic energy it takes for students to resist email and other distractions while on laptops,” wrote one teacher. The Merionite granted anonymity to teachers so they would speak freely. Allan Collins, a former co-director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Center for Technology in Education and author of the book Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America, sees a clash between schools and new technologies. “The culture of schools demands that teachers control what their students are doing in class. The culture of technology empowers users to pursue their own goals and interests,” Collins told The Merionite when presented with the poll data. “Unless
high schools can figure out how to give students more responsibility and control over their learning, teens in particular will go their own way, having been empowered by the technology they grew up with.” Some teachers noted that the vast array of distractions on the Internet has a much larger affect on students who may have already been struggling. “Most significantly, I believe it has really hurt at-risk students whose learning behaviors are already problematic,” wrote another teacher. “The biggest downside I see is, for students that have attention deficit issues, the computer is a constant humming drag on their ability to focus,” said a different teacher. In a sign of technology’s deep influence outside the classroom, more than 55% of teachers thought that students’ work habits and time management skills have changed for the worse. With YouTube and iChat a click away, students face heavy temptations when using their 1:1 laptops for homework or studying. “Students have a toy, so they are going to play,” said one teacher. Perhaps the sentiment of teachers in regards to the 1:1 laptop initiative is best seen through one teacher’s response to whether laptops have helped student learning. “Hopefully.” This is the third straight year that LM has used a four-day cycle with a skip day for the core subject areas. The Merionite found, however, that almost half of teachers disapprove of the schedule, mostly because of that skip day. “I have nothing against the cycle, but the skip is detrimental to student learning and retention,” wrote one teacher. “I like [the schedule] because it allows for the longer classes, although the frequent skips can cause continuity issues,” wrote another teacher. Indeed, some teachers may only meet with their classes for as little as 165 minutes a week. If LM had no skip days and students had each class every day for 45 minutes, students would have 225 minutes of class instruction per week—a 27% increase. “One skip every four days is a big loss of time. How about one skip every 5/6/7 days?” asked a teacher. The LM student handbook says Advisory (also known as Connections) is “designed to include interpersonal activities such as team building and conflict resolution, and to have activities/discussions that engender thinking and communication skills.” Yet, 74% of students responded that in a typical Advisory period, students are left to themselves—no discussions or interpersonal activities take place. In fact, some believe that it is just a mini 25-minute study hall. Even 45% of teachers acknowledged that the purpose of Advisory is not being achieved in their classrooms. “Students are rarely interested in talking about issues that should be important to them,” said a teacher. “It’s too forced,” said one teacher, who along with others, noted that they sometimes only hold discussions with their advisories to discuss pertinent issues.
Taking a byte out of the Apple
An educator’s view on computers and the classroom: are they too big of a distraction to handle? Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of education and history at New York University. He has two beloved daughters at LMHS, Sarah (Class of 2011) and Rebecca (Class of 2014). He was kind enough to write this editorial for The Merionite. Dear Lower Merion Student: Can we talk? You know, talk. About that thing. That thing you hate to hear adults talk about. No, not that thing. (Is that all you can think of, really?) I’m talking about computers, of course. And believe me, I’ve done my share of talking—and writing—about them. In two Op-Ed pieces published over the past year, I tried to persuade you that computers are bad for you. I failed. The first piece noted that social networking has a narcotic effect on teenagers, enmeshing them ever more deeply in the things that teens really care about: who’s cute, who’s cool, and who’s going out with whom. “So what else is new?” you replied. “And what’s bad about that, anyway?” So, in the next piece, I took a different tack. Computers separate you further from the people who love you the most: your parents. (Really, we do.) That’s especially true when your school district issues you a taxpayer-financed laptop, which you can take to your own room whenever mom or dad is getting on your nerves. And again, you answered: “What’s bad about that?” From where you stand, I now realize, it was all good. You get to hang out with your “friends” (the real kind, and the Zuckerberg kind) 24-7, and you also get a needed break from the ‘rents. What’s not to like? So I’m going to try again, dear LM Student, and I’m not going to pull any punches this time. Instead, I’m going to hit you where it hurts the most, at least if you’re a high-achieving Organization Kid in a leafy American suburb. Computers make you dumber. There, I said it. But so have numerous researchers, from a wide array of fields, and it’s time to take them seriously. The first thing computers do is distract you. Did you catch that? Or were you checking Facebook? If you were checking Facebook, we now have strong data showing that you won’t understand or remember what I wrote as well is if you were only reading my article. Now that you’re completely distracted, open another window and Google “Clifford Nass.” You’ll see that Nass and his Stanford colleagues have shown, over and over again, that high “multitaskers” perform worse on almost every cognitive skill than low multitaskers do. They expected to find the opposite, because multitaskers have suckered all of us. Even more, they have suckered themselves! They told Nass and Co. that they were better at the different tasks when doing them simultaneously. “Look, I can study for calculus AND watch Glee AND I-Chat with my boyfriend, all at the same time!” Yes, you can. And you do all of them less effectively than you would if you were doing them separately. Are computers the only reason that multitasking has spiked? Of course not. There’s also this little gadget called a cell phone. And then there’s TV, and radio, and your annoying younger brother. But no serious person can question the fact
that computers have increased our propensity to do more than one thing at once. And that makes us do each individual thing worse. The second research area has to do with books. Remember books? You know, those antiquated relics from a long-lost time, with pages and bindings and covers? It turns out that the more time you spend on a computer, the less you read for pleasure. Again, you might say, “Duh,” and “So what?” Well, here’s what: the less you read, the worse you do on standardized reading tests. Here ye, here ye, o SAT-obsessed citizens of Aces Nation! If you want to improve your score, don’t invest in a high-priced tutor. Just turn off your computer, and open up a book. It works. Really. And here you might reply, well, I do read, but I read on a computer. That’s right, you do, which brings us to our third and perhaps scariest research finding. Former Sun Microsystems engineer Jakob Nielsen has shown that people who read on screens do it differently and—yes— worse than people who read print. Using an eye tracker, Nielson found that onscreen readers jumped about from thing to thing and rarely absorbed a full article or even a paragraph. Why do that, when there’s something else—maybe more interesting, more engaging, more cool—calling out to you, in its digital flicker? Click on me! Click on me! And if that’s not to your liking, well, here’s another link, and another . . . Now, if you’re really clever, you’ll hit me with a good ol’ fashioned dose of American techno-futurism. See, Professor Zimmerman, you’re from that “1.0 World,” where people actually digested full articles—and books!—and wrote boring linear texts like your boring Op-Ed pieces. But we’re entering a Brave New “2.0 World,” my friend. And you’d best get on that train, because it’s leaving the station. It’s a revolution! It’s “21st-century learning”! In the soon-to-be-eclipsed age of books, students had to sit passively and absorb whatever the text said. But now, they interact with it. No passive consumers here! They inquire, they collaborate, they innovate, they discover . . . Please. Every time a new technology is developed, there’s an American telling us it’s going to transform education. Thomas Edison, of all people, predicted in 1922 that the motion-picture films he invented would “revolutionize our educational system.” In the 1930s, similar claims were made for radio; ditto for educational television, in the 1950s and 1960s. And now, computers. But education itself hasn’t changed. And it won’t. I teach college students, and the things I ask them to do—analyze, synthesize, critique— are exactly the same things I learned at their age. And computers don’t make it any easier. To the contrary, they get in the way. Back in the 1980s, as the so-called War on Drugs gained steam, television stations ran public-service announcements showing a young guy with a frying pan and an egg. “This is your brain,” he said, holding up the egg. Then he’d crack the egg into the pan. “And this is your brain on drugs.” Cue back to the guy. “Any questions?” This is your brain, the most remarkable and dynamic learning machine ever devised. And this is your brain on computers, which make you learn less. Any questions?
“But education itself hasn’t changed. And it won’t.”
December 23, 2010
The Merionite From LM to Masillon: comparing American and French schools Lenna Blistein
language (since students are required to take two foreign languages). And imagine having Class of 2011 every class taught like an AP class: straight to Is seven hours and forty minutes too long a test (since the final two years of high school for the school day? Try ten hours. Don’t like end with national exit exams). The education double chemistry? Try double lit, or double at Masillon was good—the teachers were good APUSH. Wish you could leave school during and even I, who didn’t speak French, mostly your free periods? Try being confined to a understood the material. But everything is study hall room with children aged six and up much more restricted and academic than it for all four years of high school. Can’t wait for is here. A Lunch at 10:30 in the morning? Try eating Another big difference is the lack of at 12:15 every day. And don’t even try to eat in class- it’s a cultural rule, not a school one. Life at l’École Masillon, a small, private Catholic K-12 school in France, seems much tougher than it is here at Lower Merion, but the numbers don’t say everything. I had much less homework than I have here, for Photo courtesy of Lenna Blistein whatever Located in France, l’École Masillon stands in stark contrast to LM. reason, and the fifteenminute breaks were really nice, as were the community. LM students aren’t always decked hour-long lunch periods. But when I really out in maroon and white, we don’t always think about it, there is no competition between all show up for every game or match, but French and American education. Lower when Radnor Week or Maroon Madness rolls Merion just has so much more to offer than around, you can bet that people care. But in Masillon. France, where there are no extra-curriculars, Imagine school without sports, clubs, there’s nothing that unites the students. School theatre or music. Imagine having all of your is just a place to be during the day. Sure classes with the same twenty people (I shared your friends are around, but aside from the all of my classes with the same seven). Imagine occasional ‘repas de classe’ (meal with the being forced to take the national standard other twenty-some kids in your class), there course requirement all four years of high is nothing unifying about being at the school. school. Imagine that your choices for electives I definitely learned to appreciate ‘school spirit’ are between a standard art class and a third while there, as well as the freedom I have.
The United States ranked, on average, 24th among 65 nations in the PISA test administered to approximately 5,000 15 year-olds across the nation. The study shows the nation lagging behind Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. In an increasingly globalized economy, experts and citizens alike see this as worrisome. The US, however, can look to these Asian countries for ways to improve education: making teaching an attractive occupation, extending school days, and putting more emphasis on a core curriculum.
New teachers’ contract signals compromise, but raises concern among community
After months of stalemate, a new two-year contract was reached in October. Yet long-term questions still linger about pension benefits and bloated budgets.
Class of 2011
This past June bore the responsibility of closure in Lower Merion. The school year, much to the delight of the district’s 6788 students, had reached its conclusion. So, too, had the old Lower Merion High School arrive at its ceremonious end, its destruction shortly forthcoming, soon to be substituted with a stateof-the-art, $100 million replacement. Eras were ending; new ones were sprouting. Yet lost amidst the fanfare of summer’s arrival and a brand new high school was the expiration of an item equally as integral to the students’ education than the physical school building itself: the teachers’ contract. Brokered between the Lower Merion Education Association (LMEA), the union that represents 1,320 district employees, and the district’s school board, the five-year agreement had run its course. Unlike the school, however, there was no immediate replacement. Efforts to craft a new contract began in January, but little progress was made while class was still in session. June crept into July, and talks met a snag between the sides regarding salary and medical benefits. As July beget August, the summer stalemate carried on. With negotiations sputtering, community citizens and taxpayers voiced concern over the perceived lack of progress. Many questioned the wisdom of the union’s expectation for salary increases that did not reflect the dynamics of the recession-hit economy, in which many salaries had either frozen or depreciated. Others hoped the union would be more willing to compromise, in light of the lucrative compensation packages they have habitually received, oft recognized as some of the best in the Philadelphia region. Yet others maintained that the district’s excellence was largely a reflection of the teachers’
excellence, that the teachers are generally better qualified than their regional counterparts, and that they should be compensated accordingly. Community consensus largely mirrored the contract talks themselves: fragmented and unresolved. But fears of the stall carrying into the school year and producing a teacher strike were quelled when news broke in early September that a tentative deal had been agreed upon. Not formally announced until mid-October, the new collective-bargaining agreement sets district precedence by mandating that district employees pay into their health care plan. In a move that will save the district $2 million over the next two years, employees will pay 1 percent of their gross salary in the first year, and 1.2 percent in the second year. The speculation is that this provision generated contention between the school board and LMEA. In what is seen as a concession on the union’s part, many community members have applauded its compromise and willingness to adapt to the economic circumstances. Others are not so congratulatory. They see a 1 percent contribution as only a timid nudge in the right direction that will fail to solve the long-term obstacles of balancing district budgets as health care costs continue to escalate at higher rates. Some taxpayers remain disillusioned with having to foot the vast majority of these health care (and pension) benefits, a system perceived not only as unfair but also unsustainable. The salary increases as outlined in the contract have also received mixed opinions. They are limited to 1.2 percent in the first year and 1.4 percent in the second year. These
are modest figures compared to past salary increases, an acknowledgement on the union’s part that more desirable compensation was simply not feasible in this economic condition. Still, some community members cannot come to terms with salary increases of any kind whilst 10 percent unemployment lingers, inflation remains relatively low, and property taxes continue to fatten. Additionally, this specific compensation will increase the salary and benefits portion of the budget by 2.2 percent in the first year and 2.9 percent in the second, a trend that worries some budget-conscious taxpayers. Concerns have begun to replace the temporary relief of a finished contract. How do these increases project into the long-term future, after the expiration of this two-year deal? Indeed, why does this contract have a two-year structure, comparatively short when judged against the five-year norm? Has the union hedged its bargaining chips for the future, where they may look for a longer, better contract (regardless of the economy) and use this current contract as evidence of having compromised enough? Most likely not. But the fear and looming threat is that as salary and benefit expenditures, which comprise roughly 70 percent of the district budget, continue to increase, the budget will eventually exceed the district’s accepted rate of inflation of 1.4 percent as determined by Pennsylvania’s Act 1. Under the 2006 law, such a scenario would trigger a “backend referendum” for the community members in our district to vote directly on the budget. Indeed, the district has so far prevented
“Concerns have begun to replace the temporary relief of a finished contract.”
such fallout by using the school construction exemption as delineated by the act, which allows budget costs to exceed inflation rates if a new school is being built within the district. With construction essentially complete, the district has no exemption protection and must face the threat of an Act 1-catalyzed referendum. If a future budget were to rub against the Act 1 inflation threshold and necessitate a referendum, it could spell trouble for the current school board, which has been especially sympathetic and fair to LMEA. They would face the prospect of losing their re-election bid, with their replacements potentially ushering in a new era of policies far more hostile to the district’s professional staff. Layoffs could become viable if other budget costs were not curtailed; Radnor, Great Valley and Tredyffrin-Easton school districts were forced to fire twenty or more staff members this year in light of their own budget crises. Programs could be cut, class sizes increased. The very fabric of this excellent school district could be frayed and ripped. There is reason to dampen some of this concern. This high school’s construction marked the completion of an over decade-long, district-wide project to renovate all 10 schools. We are continuously recognized as a district of excellence and outstanding achievement. But troubles do loom on the horizon; conflict could be coming to a head. Are tax hikes inevitable to fund future health care and pension costs? If taxes continue to increase, how will the community respond? How long can the district maintain its triple-A bond rating, one of only two in the entire country? No one can know the answers yet, but with a new contract in place, the dialogue can again pick up. Serious compromise, even more so than this current contract displayed, will need to be realized to ensure Lower Merion can provide an excellent education for posterity to come.
December 23, 2010
The Merionite ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Mushlit, Flynn, and the art of teaching Lower Merion’s student artists Rebecca McCarthy
hours in my studio…I think that’s important for being an art teacher so that I Class of 2013 know when I’m going through the same For six weeks this past November thing my students are going through.” and early December, two art student Mushlit attended Springfield High teachers, Jamie Flynn and Lawrence School in Delaware County. He had a Mushlit, completed their assignments very solid high school art experience. with art teachers Dan Hazel and Russ After receiving criticism for his love Loue. Flynn attends the University of the Arts and Mushlit attends the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, both in Philadelphia. “I knew when I wanted to become an artist,” Mushlit told The Merionite. “I was in seventh grade and I bought this book called ‘Cartooning with the Simpsons’ and I mastered how to draw the Simpsons. That’s why I wanted to become an artist. I was like, ‘Man, if I can draw the Simpsons, what else can I draw?’” In contrast, Flynn recognized his artistic yearning at a much younger age. “I’ve always loved art. Always. Ever since I was young. I painted. I loved to draw,” says Flynn. “It’s always been a part of my personality; it’s always been a part of my life.” Both student teachers had strong, but different, high school art experiences. A native of Coatesville, Flynn describes his high school art Photo by Anthony Li/Staff program as “…very unstructured. We Jamie Flynn: a UArts student hoping to had very small classes; we had one art soon obtain a degree in art education. room; my teacher really gave us a lot of freedom.” Flynn’s favorite artistic of animation, cartooning, and pop art medium is oil paints. He explained that in college, Mushlit decided to pursue a while he is training to become an art teaching certificate to ensure that kids teacher, he remains an artist. “When I know that they have a safe haven in go home everyday, I spend two or three art, at least in his class. Mushlit said,
“I want kids to know that if they are I take Ceramics II this semester and primarily interested in illustration, car- have gotten to know and learn from toons… whatever, I don’t want anyone Mr. Flynn. He is very enthusiastic and to say to them that that’s not considered encouraging. Also, he provided some high art.” Mushlit enjoys a variety of interesting demonstrations and had us artistic mediums including pen and ink, try certain techniques which we would watercolor, and ceramics. not have done otherwise. While Mr. To Flynn, the LM art program is very Mushlit did not teach my class, I did diverse. “This reminds me more of a get the opportunity to talk with him and college BFA [Bachelor of Fine Arts] art enjoyed getting to know him. I think program than a high school program, so that everyone in the art wing, myself I am very impressed.” When comparing included, wishes them both great suchis other experiences in student teach- cess in the future. ing, which include an elementary school in Radnor and a summer program at Phoenix Village Art Center, Flynn said that he liked the one-on-one time he had with students at LM. “I get to interact more with the students and I get to know them better,” he explained, since classes meet three out of four days of the rotation. Mushlit assesses the LM art program as being “very open… it’s not very restrictive. The teachers and the staff here respect their students… The program here is much like a foundation year at a college level.” When asked what he might change about the LM art program, Mushlit suggested that “the teachers should invest in ‘Heelys’ so they can skate up and down the halls [because there are so many art classrooms].” Overall, Mushlit learned a lot from the art teachPhoto by Anthony LI/Staff ers here as well as the students, Lawrence Mushlit: a student at Temple’s saying that “[he was] very fortunate Tyler School of Art who served under that [he] was placed here.” LM’s own Russ Loue. A personal note from the author:
Third Street thrifting Margaret Meehan
Class of 2013 Only five years ago, Northern Third Street was packed with galleries and other art exhibitions. As times changed for artists, they were forced to leave. Although Third Street kept its artsy vibe, it moved from sculptures to clothing. As the scene expands, Old City is finding a new groove through this stylish street. If you venture into the area, do not be taken aback by some forbidding looking storefronts nearby, because they hold some gems. In some stores, you have to be willing to spend, but in others you can find cheap pieces you’ll be dying to add to your wardrobe. A store that I always start out at is Lost + Found (133 North 3rd Street), a popular place for both men and women. The owner of Lost + Found keeps a low price range in mind, but still manages to choose items with worthy quality and style. Men and women can find wearable and interesting t-shirts, jackets, accessories, dress up clothes, and also a small vintage section in the back. Just across the street is Franklin Square (128 North 3rd Street), and I am not referring to the park. Besides vintage clothing and other knick-knacks, this newly opened store adds something fresh to the street with hand made accessories. If you are looking for a true second-hand store, head to Sazz Vintage Clothing (38 North 3rd St). This place comes complete with crazy costumes and other weird stuff you wouldn’t dream of wearing, but if you look deep enough you will find yourself a priceless t-shirt or an old pair of Levi’s. Now, if you are willing to spend big for truly good quality, you’ll be in heaven. Sugarcube (124 North 3rd Street) and its neighbor Art in the Age of Architecture (116 North 3rd Street), two sources of immaculate clothing for all types, will have you saving your dimes for that cashmere sweater. Sugarcube’s spacious store (complete with a vintage motorcycle) and simple wardrobe staples are not all it offers, but also retro shoes, hand-made jewelry, perfect bags, and other accessories. Then, there is Art in the Age of
Lose yourself at Lost+Found, one of Third Street’s many independently owned thrift and consignment shops, where you’ll be sure to find all sorts of treasures from years past at reasonable prices. Architecture, whose small storefront might make it hard to spot, but right when you walk in you will never want to leave. Besides awesome clothing, the store is focused around supporting emerging local artists, musicians, and more. This makes it a great spot to learn about up-and-coming people, places, and ideas. Trust me, spending time and some cash at these stores will be worth it. Before you venture up to Market Street or Chestnut Street for a costly meal, take time to stop for some treats. Make sure you sneer at the people in Starbucks as you walk to Café Olé (147 North 3rd Street), a comfortable café where you can get the best mocha in
the city, with plenty of breakfast and lunch options. The food is a little pricey for a café atmosphere, but you know you are getting what you paid for. If you are looking pastries, around the corner you’ll spy a little pink shop named Tartes (212 Arch Street). Do not let the modest appearance or lack of accommodations keep you away. This little shop unexpectedly churns out the most scrumptious individual pastries in Philadelphia. Though these are only a few of Third Street’s treasures, these alone are enough to make a short trip there. Hopefully this little part of Old City continues to rise up to its stylish new name.
December 23, 2010
Aces of The Arts Olivia Lindy - Class of 2013
Photo by Molly Rowe/Staff What arts do you do on a regular basis? Mostly just singing, including voice lessons and Aces Angel’s How did you get involved in the arts, and what advice do you have to other artists? I’ve loved singing since I was a toddler and first did theater in elementary school and just kept on doing it since then. As far as advice, I would say that even if you don’t get the part you want the first time, just keep trying, because if you work hard enough and keep a positive attitude, you’ll get there before you know it. What’s your favorite holiday tradition? My favorite holiday tradition is playing my family’s version of dreidel, or as we like to call it “head-to-head dreidel combat.” Who are your heroes? Who inspires you? I’d say that Beyonce is definitely one of my heroes because she’s so incredibly famous and talented, but she stays down to earth and true to herself.
Neil Zhang - Class of 2011
Photo by Naava Feingold/Staff What arts do you do on a regular basis? I enjoying partaking in Players as an actor and I am a co-founder and member of the Lower Merion Improv Troupe. I also occasionally dabble in poetry (sonnets especially) and screenplay writing. How did you get involved in the arts, and what advice do you have to other artists? Mrs. Mastriano’s English class really gave me a new perspective on creative writing and the performing arts. It was in this class that I realized just how fun acting and creative writing could be. From there, Ben Edelman provided all the convincing I needed to begin asserting myself in the arts. As for the youngling artists seeking words of wisdom: “Slice the meat thinly.” What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Playing kvitlech and singing Ma’oz Tzur. Who are your heroes? Who inspires you? My hero is Barry Sanders because no matter how badly his team was doing, he just kept running as hard as he could. The only thing that could stop him was ten seasons without a Superbowl. There’s gotta be a great life lesson in there somewhere.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Wintry trends for the LM fashionista A. Mann/M. Meehan
Sources of Inspiration If you are looking for inspiration to keep your fashion energy flowing, then consider reading fashion blogs: a rising part of the vogue world. Instead of thinking of a blog as somebody’s personal vanity page to blab about his or her life or what they think is cool, use them as a place to learn something new about the industry and find helpful fashion tips. These zines can vary from following one’s more elite-model self, like fashiontoast.com, to just taking pictures of people that they think defines style, like thesartorialist.com.
Class of 2013 For many of us winter seems like the season to forget all about fashion. We start worrying about studying for midterms, catching up on sleep, and simply staying warm. But with some key clothing pieces, there is always time to keep your sense of style and keep cozy. Since major fashion has turned practical, it is easy for us to take the runway trends to our own lives. For women, the first must-have accessory of the season is socks. Although a small investment, you’d be surprised at how interesting socks can transform an outfit with texture and color (not to mention warmth!). Socks that go over the knee can be worn with tall boots, skirts, and casual dresses. Shorter socks that go to the ankle work with cute lace ups or chunky platform heels. Socks are the perfect way to spruce up the plain winter basics you already have in your closet. The next practical accessory every girl should invest in is a great scarf. Loop scarves with bright patterns that double, or even triple up around your collar take any outfit to a new level. On the clothing front, start off your wardrobe with a big, boyfriend style jacket- keep it practical and plain so you can wear all the patterns you want underneath. Stay extra cozy under a shearling trimmed, leather or suede jacket. Warm up with layer upon layer of wooly knits, plaid flannels, and shirts with strong shoulders (extra padding or material on the shoulder). Stocky, masculine footwear, like Photo by Anthony Li/Staff a leather oxford or rugged lace up boot, will Boys: Keep warm and trendy with fashion staples such as a bold knit keep your feet protectsweater and dark demin cords topped with bright accents. ed from the cold. Pairing them with more If you are trying to find the perfect balance feminine accents will balance your outfit. between the two, songofstyle.blogspot.com Shimmery pieces (mixing both silver and is a corresponding contender. It isn’t hard to gold!) are a great way to add festivity to the fall for Aimee Song’s style, a mix of flawless holiday season. Investing in a sparkly headband, sophistication and grunge, while still following metallic eyeshadow, a sequined vest, or a pair of her videos and photographs of street fashion and shiny gold oxfords is a good idea to easily sneak other artistic concerns. in the shimmer, with out overdoing it. Hitting closer to home, collegefashionista. Denim, lace, leather, velvet, suede, and com is a great way to see what college and high chunky knits are just some of the textures win- school age kids like ourselves are wearing on ter fashion provides for women; so make sure their campus. Collections of pictures and entries to look out for possible layering pieces to keep fill up the site with sources of ingenuity that you warm. aren’t hard to re-create. For boys, the key to winter style is looking efAnother source of inspiration is Karla, from fortlessly cool. As long as you have a few winter karlascloset.blogspot.com. This lovable girl is fashion staples, you will be set. One trend that easy to relate to and enthralls us while showing continues to pop up all over the men’s fashion off her colorful, vintage style. Her quirky use runways include rugged, lace-up boots. These of brights could be your motivation to kick the will keep you warm all on their own, but pair- melancholy winter shades to the side. ing them with a colorful, thick sock will look whowhatwear.com is full of tips and trends and feel great. Button downs will go perfectly of the season, and how the fashion icons are with dark denim, cords, or loose fitting khaki sporting them. If you’re following the endless pants. Layer a bold knit sweater over the shirt. sections of style reports from professionals Remember, winter colors tend to be muted, so themselves, it is impossible to stay out of the try to add in bright accents. ever expanding style loop. So make yourself ‘Tis the season!---the season to get creative, a hot chocolate, whip out your laptop, and get get shopping and embrace the cold months to cozy, because trust us, you could get lost in these come, in style. sites for hours!
December 23, 2010
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Movies to watch home alone this winter break...other than Home Alone Matthew Kaufman
Class of 2013 Ah, the holiday season. Nothing like good food, good films, and crisp falling snow to make my day! There’s something magical about Christmastime that brings out the best in humanity (and cinema), no matter
family viewing. Santa Hats: GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) You’d think a film that’s called Groundhog Day would best be saved for watching on, well, Groundhog Day.
what religion or beliefs you care to follow. For this article, I bring you the best cinematic offerings filled with yuletide c h e e r, H a n u k a h bliss, and Kwanzaa celebration! It’s M a t t K a u f m a n ’s Movie Winter Break Wish List! Try saying that five times fast! The Merionite has ranked these movies on a scale of 5 Santa hats! Artwork by Anna Simon/Staff GREMLINS (1984) Who would have thought that an 80’s horror-comedy about a bunch of demonic little minions could be so endearing? Directed by Joe However, Harold Ramis’s 1993 comedy classic Dante (The Howling), written by Chris Columbus fits right in there with other Christmas treasures (who would later go on to make another holiday such as It’s a Wonderful Life, and Scrooged (which, classic, Home Alone), and executive-produced by coincidentally, also happens to star Bill Murray). Steven Spielberg, Gremlins is truly one of a kind. Here’s the plot; egotistical TV meteorologist Phil It’s funny, frightening, and creative from begin- Connors (Bill Murray), finds himself reliving the ning to end. The plot is simple enough: a teenage same wintery holiday (Groundhog Day) again and kid named Billy (Zach Galligan) gets a strange again. Nobody except Phil (get the name yet?) looking pet known as Mogwai from his father for seems to notice this strange phenomenon, leaving Christmas. Mogwai (who Billy eventually renames him to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants Gizmo) must be treated in certain ways, or else to, day in and day out. Sound good? It is. Murray, death/horrible catastrophes may occur. For instance, backed by an exceptional cast and solid screenplay, Mogwai cannot be exposed to bright light and water, really shines through for what might have otherwise and must never eat food after midnight. Of course, been a lackluster film. So, don’t hesitate to go with rules as hard to follow as those, something is home, turn on your tellie, and watch this cinematic bound to go wrong. I’ve said too much, so go rent milestone. Grins, laughs, and tears are practically this movie with a couple of friends. You won’t be guaranteed. disappointed. Santa Hats: Santa Hats: THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1978) (1987) A movie so bad that it’s good, The Star Wars For those of you who don’t know, the late John Holiday Special remains the one thing George Lucas Hughes was perhaps the most prolific and consis- is actually ashamed of (and we’re talking about the tently interesting director of teenage comedy films. guy who made Episode II: Attack of the Clones). Products of his extraordinary brain include The Riddled with pointless cameo appearances (Bea ArBreakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen thur, anyone?), horrendous musical numbers, endCandles, and more. So what’s there to say about his lessly painful dialogue sequences, and animation masterpiece, Planes, Trains, And Automobiles, that so bad that it makes South Park look good, I found hasn’t already been said by its legions of admirers? myself half petrified/half barreled over with laughNothing, really. Instead, I will mostly just stick to ter while watching this late seventies train-wreck. describing the plot for this film, in hopes that you’ll What’s the plot? There isn’t one, really (unless, of go out and rent it ASAP. Neil Page (Steve Martin), course, you count Han Solo mentioning a Wookie a high-strung advertising executive, must make festival known as Life Day at the very beginning of it home from Chicago in time for a Thanksgiving the film)! How about emotional substance? None dinner with his family who lives in New York. Un- to be found! Still, despite its laughable shortcomfortunately, all flights from Chicago are cancelled, ings, The Star Wars Holiday Special remains two leaving Martin’s character to hitch a ride home with hours worth of weird, trashy fun. Go ahead. Watch an obnoxious but well-meaning shower curtain ring this one on YouTube (there are no DVD or VHS salesman named Del Griffith (John Candy). If what copies). I dare you! I’m describing sounds similar in any way to the new Zach Galifianakis flick, Due Date, it’s because they Santa Hats: are basically the same silly movie. The difference is that years from now, nobody will be watching Due So if you find yourself in need of entertainment Date. As a screwball comedy with lots of heart, this winter break, look no farther than these four Planes, Trains, And Automobiles comes as essential movies. You won’t be disappointed for sure!
Christmas Carols 101
Class of 2014 “…Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow…” Who’s ready for some Christmas carols? I hope you’re in the holiday spirit, because Christmas carols are all around this time of year. As you probably know, Christmas is one of the most important, adored holidays that many people across the world enjoy. Also, the holiday season signals that it will soon be Winter Break! There are tons of different Christmas carols like “Noel” and “Let it Snow.” You can hear Christmas carols on Q102, B101 or any other radio station that you know of. My favorite radio stations that I listed to carols on are Q102, B101, Wired 96.5, My 106.1, and even Praise 103.9. B101 is the #1 radio station that plays Christmas songs and carols more frequently than any other radio station. Despite the tendency of radio stations to play carols during the holiday season, carols are traditionally performed on the streets when you walk or pass by, and even by door-to-door singers. These days it’s much easier to listen to them on the radio – it is also a wonderful feeling
when your favorite Christmas classic comes over the radio. My opinion on Christmas carols is to listen to them first before you get the chance to sing them. It is much better if you listen to them first, so that you get comfortable with the tune and know all the lyrics - then sing along with it. After all, there may be some carols that you do know, but there’s surely some that you don’t know as well. Christmas carols are a favorite to me in life. And it ’s not just the carols – the whole Christmas season is my favorite time of the year. For me, listening to Christmas carols is like listening to classic rock music that everyone knows and loves, or like going to church with your family during the holidays. On the day of Christmas and during winter break, listen to some Christmas carols, either on the streets or on the radio, and spend some good times with your family and friends. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! “Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad…”
The Perfect Hot Chocolate
Class of 2013 Although opening a packet of Swiss Miss instant hot chocolate mix certainly has the element of instant gratification, next time you come in from the cold, think about taking the time to make yourself something a little more indulgent. Skip the multiple Starbucks trips that can really blow out your wallet, and cozy up with this recipe for candy cane hot chocolate. From the first sip, you’ll be filled with holiday cheer. What you’ll need: (serves 4) - 4 cups of milk - 3 one-ounce squares of semisweet chocolate (chopped) - 4 peppermint candy canes (crushed) - optional: whipped cream for top, extra candy canes, chocolate shavings In a pot, simmer the milk on low heat. Stir in the chopped chocolate and crushed candy canes. Combine until smooth. Serve and top with whipped cream, extra candy canes, and chocolate shavings.
Artwork by Aviva Mann/Staff
December 23, 2010
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
An interview with spoken word artists Alex and Austin Emily Shepard
Class of 2011 I recently sat down with Alex Santiago and Austin Rapkin-Citrenbaum - two Lower Merion students who write and perform spoken word poetry. As artists, how do you guys classify yourselves? Austin: Spoken word poets. How did you originally get involved with spoken word poetry? Alex: I used to be a diary writer, sort of. Then there was a reality TV show that came to my school – it was called ‘Teach’ with Tony Danza. There was this segment of his class that was all about poetry; I would write poems and also watch people perform poems on youtube. I performed for his class, and I also did my school talent show – the first time I ever performed a poem in front of a crowd. And one of the producers came up to me and said ‘Hey, you’re really good, how do you feel about getting involved?’ He took me to this little open-mic thing so I could see the environment and the type of people. And then he told me about this organization called Philly Youth Poetry Movement. So I went to one of the open-mics, and one of the ‘slams,’ and I did a slam, and I eventually went to the finals months after that. Austin: I got involved through Alex. Were either of you nervous the first time that you performed? Austin: The first spoken word piece that I ever performed was a group one that Alex and I did together called ‘Fire.’ I was kind of nervous that first time, but after that, I never got nervous again. Alex: I was nervous. I found myself on stage and like, I had never even in my life said a poem in front of more than a few people. I mean, I was a diary writer. I come on stage and this crowd that I’m in front of – it’s all the kids from my school, and my school had a mean crowd who bullied everyone. And I go up, and everyone’s just clapping. Then I started, and the crowd went silent. I finished my poem, and at the end, they gave me a standing ovation. And it was the greatest feeling in the world. Ever since then, I’ve grown a lot as a poet, and I’m not nervous anymore. What’s the spoken word poetry scene like in Philly? Alex: We’ve got a mean scene – and when I say mean, I mean a great scene. It’s all love – you’ll never feel uncomfortable, because it’s like your family sort of… So it’s sort of like grief therapy for me. When I come off stage after performing, everyone’s giving me hugs.
Austin: Yeah. It really is like your family – it’s a lot of people who really care about you. It’s a whole different world than living in Lower Merion. You could be talking to someone for an hour and when that hour is up, its like you’re there for each other after that. What inspires the two of you? Are there any themes that show up a lot in your poems? Austin: I think a few things inspire me. Number one – the connection that I have with the people when I’m performing – whether I’m in a crowd and I lock eyes with someone when I’m performing and I can feel something, or whether it’s just a comment someone makes to me after I perform, I like the feeling that someone saw something I did and really listened to what I had to say. And also, I think it’s just that I ’ v e writt e n for a long time,
and I’ve always loved to w r i t e – i t ’s j u s t part of who I am. In terms of themes, its usually just about whatever I feel, like if I’m upset or happy or whatever. The first spoken word poem I ever wrote was right after my grandfather passed a w a y, a n d it was a poem about him. I try to write about things that I know a b o u t , Photo like I might write about a girl, or bullying, or school - cause I know all those things. Alex: The main reason why I write is because it makes me feel like I’m not chasing the dream anymore, I’m living the dream. And my dream is to get my voice heard. What inspires me to write is that I’m tired of running away from my past, and the only way for me to get free is to speak, and when I do speak, or when I do recite a poem – it feels like, all that stuff, well –
even if its only for three minutes of my life, I’m free for those three minutes, and it feels good. My themes? Well, I used to write a lot about my parents; I’ve been writing ever since my parents passed away. In seventh grade, my father was in a car accident. And a year later, my mother was murdered – she was stabbed to death; it was drug related. And then it was like, okay, I have no one. And then in school, I was assigned to write a poem about who inspires me, so I wrote about my father, and my teacher told me that it was great and I should go further with it, so it just went from there. And now, sometimes I try to step into other peoples shoes, like with my bullying poem, I hopped into the shoes of three people – Tyler Clementi, Pheobe Prince, and an eleven year old boy names Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, and they all killed themselves cause they’d been bullied. And so this kind of poem – it’s like, I writing it to speak up for everyone who’s afraid to speak. People recognize both of you as spoken word artists – both of you have a voice that is listened to and appreciated. In what ways do you guys feel obligated to use your voices to help people? Austin: I feel like, as an artist, I feel like it’s my job to write something that someone could hear and say ‘I feel like that was written about me.’ And it’s my job to help people feel like they’re not alone. Alex: I use my voice to free myself, but at the same time, there’s no greater feeling that knowing that I touched someone. I once performed this poem called “Wake Me Up” in a church, and of course that poem freed me, but when I was done, an older woman came up to me and said ‘Hey, I don’t really know you, but because of you, I’m going to talk to my daughter again.’ If you guys could communicate one thing to the school, what would it be? AU: I think we need to love eachother more – be more of a family. AL: As a new student at Lower Merion – I’ve been here for like 3 weeks – I feel like everyone’s in a box. And it could be the cool kids, or the squad – or some nonsense like that, but no matter who you are or who you’re friends with, you shouldn’t be afraid to step outside of the box. And most important – you have to love yourself. If someone wants to get involved with spoken word poetry, what should they do? AU: Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement hosts monthly poetry slams, and before that there’s an open mic – anybody can go up. AL: Also, if anybody really wants to get involved, they can contact me or Austin.
Music piracy in the digital age: An ongoing battle
Class of 2012 October 26, 2010 - a day that will live infamously in the minds of hackers, computer junkies, and music lovers everywhere. It was the day on which a court order ended Limewire’s illegal music and video sharing indefinitely. Ever since, music titans took down Napster in 2001, there has been an all out assault on file sharing websites throughout the world. Metallica famously spearheaded the fight against illegal music downloading but they were backed by some other notable artists; Elton John, Dan Henley, Sheryl Crow and Lilly Allen. In contrast, there are a few artists who actually support free music downloading; Prince, Kid Rock, and Radiohead are notorious supporters of file sharing, even offering free albums, concert videos ect. F u r t h e r m o r e , e v e n n o w, a f t e r L i m e w i r e , Frostwire, and many other heavyweights in the peer-to-peer music-sharing world are falling to the lawyers of EMI, Sony, Universal, Warner, and many other record labels, there is a emerging prominent group of growing music and file sharing websites, such as mediafire, topinweb, filestube, beemp3, and many more. These websites however are claiming that their websites are intended for sharing documents, powerpoints and other non-copyright infringing items, however the users are misusing the product so the website owners cannot be blamed. This is a battle that has been raging since the beginning of the ‘Modern
Age Technology’ and one can only assume that it will go on until there is an easier and faster way to get free music. This music sharing is inevitable, the risk is minimal and the reward is high, so people will keep on downloading and logically speaking, there’s not much that Corporate America can do about it.
Artwork by Anna Simon/Staff
December 23, 2010
Class of 2011
Just like the city of New Orleans, my interview with Josh took on a life of its own. He began by telling me his story—he was accepted to Tulane University early action, and has also applied to Washington University in St. Louis, William and Mary, and Vanderbilt. When I asked him if he was applying anywhere else, he was pretty adamant about his answer. “No. I already got into my first choice. As long as they give us a good enough financial package, then I’ll probably go to school there.” “Tulane?” I asked. I didn’t really know much about Tulane, and was eager to hear about it. “Why Tulane?” What had started as an exploration of the school itself (Tulane has “great facilities and courses, including a [quality] film program”) became a genuine love for Tulane’s surroundings, the city of New Orleans. “The first thing I love about Tulane is the city…the city of New Orleans is on the rise, and I want to be a part of that.” I was thoroughly impressed with his passion for the city and curious to hear more, so I stopped asking questions and just listened. “I also think I could really contribute something to the community,” Josh continued. “There are a lot of places where you can make a difference, where you can offer a lot. You could go the Katrina route, but like any big city there’s poverty, and you can help there.
“There’s just a great backbone to the city- it has a Someday soon, Pat will be a leader soul. There’s a reason everyone talks about the soul of the new technological generaof New Orleans—the jazz—there’s just an overall tion. When you fly in an airplane ten feeling that they want more for themselves.” From years from now, what he was saying, it seems like Josh genuinely or go up to space cares about the struggle, the customs, and the sucin fifty, you can cess of the city—he fit right in with the “soul” of thank Pat—an aspiring aerospace New Orleans. engineer. With all of the parades “I like and holidays, festive New The message? math and sciOrleans sounds like the perFind someplace you love to be! The ence,” Pat told fect place to go surrounding area of a college is just as imme earnestly to college. Josh portant as the college itself. After all, you’ll when I asked has found his be living there for four years. him why he niche—a place was interested Josh’s Other Tips: he cares for deeply, that gets - Keep a running list of all of your in engineering. him excited about leaving extra-curriculars. Josh’s mom has kept one “Physics has home. I think we—the for him since seventh grade, and it really always been collective LM student helped him out with the Activities section r e a l l y f u n . body—have a lot to My grandfaof the CommonApp. learn from Josh. - Write your CommonApp essay about ther was an He fell in love with something personal. Josh tried to personal- engineer too, a city, worked hard ize his essay as much as possible by telling so that helped for the opportunity an anecdote close to his heart: he said it had influence me to live there, and his his English teacher “showering him in her [too].” work paid off. Josh has “So, what golden shower of compliments.” found a place where he kind of school belongs: something most of would an enus seniors can only hope to achieve for ourselves. gineer go to?” I asked, thinking of I am sure the next four years of Josh’s life will be schools I’d heard of with good underjust as exciting as he hopes them to be– life is what graduate engineering programs. you make it, and Josh certainly intends to make it “Wooster Polytech, for example,” grand. Pat answered. Worcester Polytechnic
Be practical and logical! The college application process can be crazy, so do everything you can to keep calm throughout.
Alex’s Other Tips:
If you need help writing essays, look for a trusted teacher to help you edit your essays. For Alex, it was Ms. Kirsche: she says, “It’s really nice to have that one teacher.”
I’ve known Alex since we were kids. We live on the same street in Ardmore, so we conducted the interview on our bus ride home from school—and the more we talked, the more I realized how little I knew about certain aspects of the application process. Apparently, there is such a thing as a free application: if a college really wants you, they will send you an application without any fees or extra essays.—one with no application fee or extra essays. “I got offers in the mail for free applications to schools,” Alex
Attention athletes: Alek has some great advice regarding the recruitment process! Not only has he been successfully recruited to Loyola, he has the next four years completely planned out. Even non-athletes have a lot to learn from Alek: he’s certainly on top of things. First, I asked him about how he got recruited. He said, “I just talked to a bunch of my friends who were athletes, [because] the recruiting process is pretty uniform all around—you usually get contacted via email, but you can reach out to a school if you want—Loyola reached out to me.” That sounded like a pretty casual approach, but “reaching out” is just the beginning. Over the past year Alek has been attending special recruitment camps, called combines, where students interested in playing college sports go for week-long intensive courses; at the end of
Institute has a great engineering program: “it’s one of—if not the first— engineering school in the country. It has a history; a lot of people have gone through to become really great engineers.” “I visited it there a lot, [and] I liked the campus,” Pat continued. “I actually did a program there over the summer, with some professors there and it seemed like the classes were good.” The program introduced him to a new interest—aerospace engineering. “I want to be an aerospace engineer,” Pat told me, but qualified it with his uncertainty of the future: “I’m not sure if that’s going to happen, because I’m not sure if I actually really like it or not.” “What I like about [engineering] is that I haven’t fully focused on one type of engineering. There are so many different types– if I went into one and didn’t like it, I could try another. And if both of them didn’t work, I could go into math or something. But I haven’t really focused on a specific type of engineering yet.” Pat intends to ease his way into engineering, and choose a focus once he finds something he’s really passionate about.
told me when I asked her how she decided where to apply. I asked her how she’ll pick between all of her schools after she hears back, and she divulged honestly, “whichever [college] offers me a better scholarship.” I think everyone could benefit from being more downto-earth during the college process, especially when it comes to rising tuition costs. I wish Alex all the best, and I hope she gets the small class sizes and low tuition she’s looking for!
the week, there are a series of games for scouts do anything—essentially saying ‘I’m goto watch. “They put you through a couple ing to play lacrosse at your school.’At this drills, throw you on a team and have a roundpoint they’ve already run your unofficial robin tournament…they’ll see which transcript through admissions and then players stand out to which coaches, and on national signing day, which was a who suits whose needs.” Hundreds couple of weeks ago, they mail out of colleges come to these camps, their letters of intent… Once you so they are an essential part of the sign, you are no longer allowed recruitment process. to play a Division 1 sport at any Other recruitment other college.” techniques? “Make sure With such a serious they’ve seen you enough,” commitment on the line, Photo courtesy of Alek Klincewicz I wondered why he chose Alek advised, articulating a
principle that should be adhered to by everyone applying to college. “Go down for a couple visits.” And once you’ve found the perfect school? Time to commit: “you make a verbal commitment—on your word, because you’re legally not allowed to
Loyola —why not try for the ivies? “Lacrosse is very intensive,” he answered, “and it’s really hard to balance a Division 1 sport with intense ivy-league academics. I found someplace that’s a good balance and a top 10 Division 1 program
Be involved with different programs and take any opportunity to explore a field of interest. You never know what you might find there—Pat found aerospace engineering!
Pat’s Other Tips:
Finish your applications early, and don’t try to squeeze them in all at once! Pat did his in any spare time he could find, and ended up finishing in mid-November. Devoting a few minutes a night to applications could mean a world of difference. that has great people.” It turns out Loyola is also, as Alek puts it, “really big on helping others.” The stadium is right next to a children’s hospital, so Alek can go volunteer every week with the kids there. “I really like that aspect,” he said. What impressed me the most was Alek’s independence, especially about financial aid. “My parents aren’t paying for a lot of it,” he said, then explained his plan. “Everyone on the lacrosse team is automatically hooked up with a school store job, and we also help out around the athletics department.” He even has a special opportunity lined up once he gets to Baltimore: there’s a “pending internship for me at a law firm once I really get my stuff together at school.” Well, it sounds to me like Alek already has his stuff together, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll be up to in five years’ time.
Advice from the resident Frosh in a Box
Class of 2014 Class of 2014, welcome to Lower Merion High School, an exceptional institution where students carry around state of the art MacBooks and often complain about the new multi-million dollar building. After four months of high school, I’ve definitely learned a few things. Besides grasping the concepts of parallel and perpendicular lines, cell organelles, and the history of the caste system in India, I’ve learned how to successfully make my way through high school, both inside and outside of the classrooms. In fact, inside the
classroom is the easy part; outside is where it all starts to get complicated. I now present to you a few tips I’ve compiled for navigating freshman year at LM. First, accept the fact that no one likes you. Even though all the intimidating upperclassmen were once in the same position, they still don’t care about you. Later in life you will most likely forget what it was like to be “lower class” and will dislike freshmen too. So, don’t come into school every morning expecting everybody to love you, because in reality that will never happen. Second, stay out of the way in the hallways.
Yes, this is a new school, which means wider staircases and hallways, but standing in the center of the hallway chatting with friends during the five minutes between classes is not a good idea. This will only result in being shoved and humiliated. Third, get used to being completely exhausted all week. First set starts around the time you might have woken up for middle school last year. So learn to live with your fatigue because, realistically, you won’t be getting to bed an hour earlier. Believe it
or not, the workload only goes up from here, so cherish what other grades would call “minimal” homework. Finally, don’t be alarmed when the rest of the school boos while you shamelessly “shake your booty” at the first pep-rally. Come to the realization that it’s a tradition and there is nothing you can do about it. So fellow freshmen, take the next six months in stride and live ‘em up. Get your homework done and try to make amends–and maybe even friends–with the rest of the school. Photo by Kei Nakagawa/Staff
December 23, 2010
Take control of your diet:
avoid holiday weight gain this winter
Class of 2011
With the holiday season within reach once again, we’re already buying presents, singing carols, and baking sweet treats. As always, food plays a huge role in Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. The average holiday weight gain is about one pound, and for most people, that one pound is there to stay. But bountiful food doesn’t necessarily mean that the holidays have to make an impact on your weight. There are many easy ways to keep away from this seemingly unavoidable tradition—all you have to do is be mindful of what you are eating. Stick to the following tips and you’ll be on track to starting a New Year feeling great. 1. Eat in moderation This is the big one. If you were to remember just one tip, it should be this one. Keep your servings sizes small so that you can enjoy all your favorite holiday treats without consuming excess calories. Use a small plate, and don’t be tempted to go back for second helpings. 2. Don’t forget to exercise When you exercise, you are not only burning calories, but also using up time that you might otherwise have used to eat. Exercising can be very enjoyable, and it keeps your heart, lungs, and bones strong and healthy. If you have a treadmill, put it in front of the TV so that you can watch your favorite show and exercise at the same time. Spending time outdoors playing in the snow is sure to
burn some calories, or avoid the cold and hit the mall to engage in some serious speed shopping. 3. Indulge in hot drinks Hot drinks such as cider, hot chocolate, and eggnog are delicious fluids to have during the winter season. Even though they can be calorie rich, you’ll be having fewer refills– people tend to drink hot drinks more slowly than cold drinks– which means fewer total calories consumed. 4. Fill up on your fruits and vegetables You should be following this rule all year round, but especially during this time of year when junk food is readily available. Aim for at least five servings of produce a day, in a broad range of colors. Differently colored fruits and veggies provide different nutrients, so that you can get all your essential vitamins naturally. Enjoy your crunchy veggies raw and unadorned, or with a healthy dip such as hummus. 5. Stay hydrated Stay hydrated, stay hydrated, stay hydrated! Although
Hope for the courtyard Robbie Warshaw Class of 2014
The heart of the new building is the courtyard…or at least it should be, right? One would think that an area designed for relaxing in fresh air would immediately become a favorite spot for students, yet the courtyard has been anything but this. The courtyard is awkward. Many of us would rather risk the extra thirty seconds walking around the courtyard than being under the scrutiny of the prying eyes stationed in the surrounding windows. Any trip or stumble could be seen by dozens of students! To learn the principal’s intentions of adding such a confined space of “outsideness,” I interviewed Sean Hughes about the planning and intricacies of the courtyard. I hope by sharing this information, more students will choose to venture into the courtyard and see all that it has to offer. Before the plans were made for the new building, the architects spent countless hours talking to community members, students, teachers, and administrators about what they wanted to see in the new school. The idea of a courtyard was very popular. The architects designed the courtyard to be in the middle of the school. They also decided to make the courtyard into an “L” like shape to allow more light into the classrooms lining the inner walls and the music rooms. The architects originally drew up the courtyard to be all grass, but the administration decided that the courtyard could be more versatile if it were half hard surface, half grass. Although it doesn’t seem like it, the courtyard has already been used quite a bit. Science classes have gone out
for demonstrations, English classes have used it for discussions, musicians have gone outside and jammed on the benches, students have had frisbee and football catches. And for the first time ever, an intramural Wiffle ball tournament took place. Students also go to the courtyard to get cell phone service (something that is lacking in this new building). But what is being done to make the courtyard more appealing?
Photo by Lisa Li/Staff The administration is currently in the process of buying picnic tables for the courtyard. These tables will be beneficial by providing students an area to do their work somewhere other than on their laps. The grass has also had some trouble growing, but is expected to be luscious and green by springtime. Mr. Hughes hopes that the horticulture classes will integrate the courtyard gardens into their curriculum. But is there any good news for the courtyard for this winter? In the case of snow, students will be allowed in the courtyard, but only after all the pavement has been shoveled for safety reasons. So, that’s the courtyard’s story. It may be new and seem a bit awkward, but work is being done to improve it. Hopefully the changes will make the courtyard more fun, relaxing, and entertaining.
the temperature outside has dropped tremendously, and you may not feel as thirsty during the winter months, your body still needs to stay hydrated. Water should always be your first choice when selecting a drink– it’s vital for the regulation of body temperature and metabolism. It’s also refreshing, cheap, and best of all, calorie free. Drink one or two cups of water before every meal—you will feel just as full, without consuming as many calories. If you guzzle that hydrogen and oxygen, your body will surely thank you for it. 6. Eat some candy now and then When it’s time for dessert, suck on a candy cane or nibble a piece of dark chocolate. An Photo by Lisa Li/Staff average cookie adds 200 calories to your daily intake, but you can enjoy a candy cane for just 60 calories. Alternatively, chew some minty gum. Gum kills your desire for food, and inhibits you from chewing anything else. Small doses of sugary candy will fulfill your sweet tooth without overwhelming your diet.
The flamboyant Christmas sweater
more unpleased recipient, sometimes for more than half a century. However, the thrift store Class of 2013 sweater’s vintage flair is not enough to save At some point in your life, you will untie it from the wrapping paper fire in the hearth, the bow, rip off the paper, open the box…and and it usually sees a fiery, painful end. At the will be struck with complete horror at the bottom of the totem pole is an ugly holiday atrocity of the garment sweater so appalling that staring back at you—a it is only ever seen in blizzard of green, red, very few areas of upstate and blue, snowmen leerNew York and the Miding from besides the west. It is the appliqué buttons, reindeer and sweater. This sweater is other furry animals with used, reused, dirty, and sadistic smiles on evworn all year round. Afery panel. It is the ugly ter all the horrors of the holiday sweater. Then ugly sweater world, this comes the “Oh thank year we had a few other you so much! It is really ideas of what to do with beautiful. A thoughtful those holiday sweaters gift! I love it,” when so that they will never you really just want to plague you again. rip the sweater to shreds The pet sweater: As and turn it into hamster soon as your relatives bedding. Sometimes, Photo by Madeline Berger/Staff take their eyes off of you, you are even forced break out the scisMrs. DeFranco shares some to wear it for every sors! With a good Christmas spirit with LM students single family photo, pair of shears, you dread building becan easily make your hind your fake smile own pet sweater in less as you know that than ten minutes. It the photos will no looks so much better doubt end up on on the dog anyway! Facebook, Flickr, A casserole dish and Tumblr. warmer: You know On top of the typical that horrible cassePhoto by Ilana Nathans/Staff ugly holiday sweater that you role that no one wants to might see your grandma wearing, eat? At least if you turn there are four main varieties of sweater offend- the ugly sweater into a warming cover, the ers. Starting with the luxury sweaters—these casserole won’t be cold! sweaters are top of the line, 100% cashmere A re-gift: The thoughtfulness of the threads, gold plated buttons, and the occasion- sweater you were given is transferred to its al Swarovski crystal cuff. The next step down new owner, who will (hopefully) be happy to is your Barney’s, Saks, or Nordstrom holiday now own such a happy holiday gift! sweater and then the thrift store sweater that Finally, if worse comes to worse, you can is circulated from unpleased recipient to even just grin and wear it.
December 23, 2010
Get ready for the
Best Winter Break Ever! After the exciting novelty of winter break wears off, don’t let boredom set in. Instead of spending your days lazing around the house, take advantage of the many holiday-themed events taking place around the Philadelphia area. For those who can’t get enough of the Christmas spirit, we highlighted many holiday-themed shows and events in the city. Alternatively, if you’ve already overdosed on holiday cheer, we’ve included some cool concerts – and even a Jewish event – in the mix. So close your computer, get off of your couch, and head out to enjoy everything the season has to offer! –Elizabeth Dunoff, Class of 2011
Graphic Generated by Merionite Staff
Are you ready to invest? Walker Mills
Class of 2011
Lose twenty thousand during your physics double; gain it all back plus ten percent over C lunch. Sell high set six and reinvest in the tech sector. The 9:30 bell not only signals the start of second set but the opening bell of the Virtual Stock Exchange. Many LM’ers are oblivious to the daily rise and fall of the stock market save when it crashed last in ’08, or back in ’29. But a growing minority is finding their way to Stock Club and its Virtual Stock Exchange or VSE, enough to make it LM’s “fastest growing club.” Stock Club is sponsored by Mr. Hawkins, with president senior Sam Hollin, and has regular meetings with discussion topics ranging from the recession to selling short, though arguably the main facet of the club is the Virtual Stock Ex-
change league. cannon breaks. A word from the president The Virtual Stock Exchange is basi- of the club, Sam Hollin: “The thing that cally Fantasy Footmakes Stock Club ball, for Wall Street. great is that it turns Each player starts with the stock market into $100,000 cash and ana game where you other $100,000 in a no can compete against interest loan—all viryour friends. It’s adtual of course. You are dicting.” You have then unleashed into a available to you simulation of the real all the tools of the stock market, albeit modern Wall Street one with a twenty-minbroker: selling short, ute delay. The Virtual commodities, muStock Exchange mirtual funds, and put rors all of the ups and options. You can downs in the New York Photo by Ilana Nathans/Staff do it all, and make Stock Exchange and its thouyourself a regular Bersands of stocks. Updated every few sec- nie Madoff. The league leaders are topping onds from 9:30am to 4:00pm on weekdays, gains of $50,000 less than two months into the VSE can take some serious time away the game. The league is open, and anyone from your usual bubble shooter, and kitten can join, but be warned, only one can win.
To join, go to vse.marketwatch.com, create an account and join the LM game: Game ID: LMWallSt Game Password: lmstockclub Now a few tips on reaping the biggest gains: Everything you invest you can lose, so don’t put it all into that one stock, no matter what the Hulbert Interactive says. Diversify, most of the times stocks in a certain sector will rise and fall together, so don’t put it all in Google, Yahoo, and Apple. Follow current events. If the Fed just decided to buy up 600 Billion in bonds, invest in gold. Sell high. It may seem elementary, but don’t spend your time waiting around for a peak, you’ll never see it until it has passed. Buy low. Again elementary; but many people are buying stocks already on the rise that are nearing or have already peaked.
December 23, 2010
LM catches Fantasy Football fever New pool, new hopes Josh Niemtzow
One of America’s quickest growing hobbies, Fantasy Football is played in leagues consisting of anywhere from eight to sixteen people who choose players on different teams in the National Football League, in order to create a “Fantasy team” and compete against others teams with the ultimate goal
Class of 2012
about winning the competition and enjoying the title of champion, others, like avid Fantasy player junior Jeremy Comer, enjoy the game because it “adds to the stakes of watching other games with teams you normally wouldn’t follow.” Despite the fact that NFL owners and coaches have never truly embraced Fantasy Football, it is becoming impossible to ignore the influence that it has had on the NFL. The NFL has also made deals with numerPhoto by Talia Lieberman/Staff ous cell phone Professional football has transcended the field providers that and become a large part of many Aces’ lives. provide free applications, updates, stat trackers, and last of winning the league. Most minute player news. A once leagues are of the Head to Head nonexistent fad has even paved format, meaning that each week the way for Fantasy Football two teams face off to see who can accumulate the most Fantasy specials on ESPN and The NFL points. Others prefer “Rotis- Network. In the last few years, the serie” style, where there are no matchups but whoever scores Fantasy Football craze has the most at the end of the season begun to take a greater hold on wins. Most leagues tally up the LM. If you walk into the library points after the regular season or past study hall rooms, you consisting of thirteen to fourteen are bound to see someone, facweeks, and the top six to eight ulty or student, updating his or teams enter a single-elimination her Fantasy team. In fact, LM’s playoff format similar to that of Boys’ Cross Country Team has the NFL. had a league every year for the And why is this fun you might past few years. This year there ask? While some believe it’s
was such a great interest that the team felt it was imperative to create three leagues, which combined consisted of almost half the cross country team! Junior Josh Zollman, League Commissioner of one crosscountry league, strongly believes that “having a Fantasy league with other members of the team helps bring the team together and allows us to have a fun way of competing with each other away from the course.” Next time that you hear people talking about football in class, realize that it is probably Fantasy-related and it’s not only students who are doing the talking. Teachers also enjoy chatting about Fantasy between periods since a number of them participate in leagues with each other and they often ask other students for their opinions on Fantasy matters. Math teacher and avid Fantasy player Brian Feeney says, “it is always fun to talk to students about Fantasy as it is always fun and something that I can relate to them on.” Unfortunately it’s too late to sign up and participate this year. But next year, head over to fantasysports.yahoo.com and get a league together. You’ll find that even if you weren’t a fan of Football, you too will become one. Sign up, and before you know it, you too will be watching football with a passion you never knew you had.
Wiffle ball a hit among Aces Alex Liu
According to Dawson, “No one took it super-serious, Class of 2012 unlike intramural basketball where some kids go Throughout the years, the more unique, bizarre overboard. Kids had the right context.” Junior Austin sports have replaced the standard, simple ones. One Levitt, a participant in the tournament, states, “It was particular sport that deserves some worthwhile atten- a fun and competitive league, and a good thing to tion is Wiffle ball, a fun little activity that has become do after school. Playing against teachers who have one of America’s favorite backyard games and has taught me in the past made the league even more recently become a popular hobby at LM. exciting.” Despite its Each team had the pleasure of creating lack of glory its own team name. Some were: Dazzling similar to that Daisies, Big Hitterz, the Underdawgs, of the Golden Bats Covered in Lava, Team Narberth, Stick Wiffle ball and Ashley Shaeffer BMW. But the true League, which champions were the Gaza Strippers, brings the best winning the inaugural Lower Merion Wiffle ball playIntramural Wiffle ball League. Consisting ers in the nation of seniors Justin Shapiro, Steve Lipman, together, the Richie Weker, Jesse Cohen, and junior newly formed Peter Siciliano, the Gaza Strippers domiWi f f l e b a l l Photo courtesy of Peter Dawson nated the tournament and easily claimed league here at The Gaza Strippers strike a pose in cel- first place. Siciliano reflects on his overall our very own experience: “The League was a huge ebration of their victory. LM deserves success with a surprising amount of fans some real recognition. The founder, history teacher showing up as the season progressed and the word Pete Dawson states, “I do intramural basketball, but got out…next year we hope to see the league expand I wanted to do something that could incorporate the and get more awareness.” new school. A lot of kids said they would be into a So, is Wiffle ball a sport or just a backyard game? Wiffle ball league and I noticed on the tour of the Well, it’s a little bit of both. It requires hand-eye new school a fairly large courtyard, ideally a good coordination and good reflexes as baseball does, but place to have it. The league has since become part it does not call for the same strength. Young or old, of the new building.” weak or strong, anyone can be good at Wiffle ball. Not even Mr. Dawson could have predicted the Junior Ben Friedel states “Wiffle ball is our game, great success the league has had. Over ten teams America’s game. Instilled in the wondrous minds of signed up, including “The Dirty Dozen,” a team con- American kids and enjoyed by all generations.” And sisting of some of the teachers in the social studies the best part about the game is, you don’t need that department at LM. Want to play Wiffle Ball against many people to play. So, before you hit the Black Mr. Kelly, Mr. Reed, or Mr. Henneberry? Well, sign Ops, consider your backyard, and how you could be up for the next tournament this upcoming spring. playing a simple, yet enjoyable sport/game called The tournament was both enjoyable and intense. Wiffle ball.
mers this year as opposed to Class of 2012 previous years that I’ve been here,” states junior Niles The start of the 2010 swim season Davis.The Boys’ and Girls’ swim marks the beginning of a new age teams practice together so they both of success for the Boys’ and Girls’ will be able to reap the benefits of Swim teams. Both teams believe the new pool on campus. Not havthat the new pool and changes in ing to take the bus to St. Joe’s pool leadership will bring them closer to like the previous year gives the two their goals. teams much more valuable time for practice. “This year is way better than being bussed back and forth, which took an extra half hour,” says senior Julie Loeb. Seniors who have previously swam in the old pool, which was only three feet deep the entire length, all agree that the pool Photo by Michael Lefkoe/Staff far outshines the old Coach Speicher demonstrates form and one. On the other technique to the Boys’ swim team. hand, Julie says, “I For the Girls’ Swim team, the do miss our unnecessarily big locker journey has been a tough one. The room since the one this year’s locker constant switching of coaches in pre- room is so cramped.” The new locker vious seasons has caused disjunction rooms and showers are a bit on the and confusion on the team; however, small side, but the features of the the arrival of its new permanent new pool greatly outweigh these coach Katie Fitzgerald has helped disadvantages. The new pool’s moveable bulkstrengthen the team’s morale and head allows for both the diving and camaraderie. Coach Fitzgerald has the swim teams to practice simulincorporated the benefits of a new taneously, again giving both teams pool into the teams’ rigorous trainmany more opportunities for pracing schedule. The regimen includes tice. Access to the equipment of the the addition of dry land workouts new weight room also helps to make and optional morning practices from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Junior Leslie Rothstein believes that, “Katie is exactly what our team needed. Spirit has always been our team’s driving force and now Photo by Michael Lefkoe/Staff we have the rigorous trainLM swimmers race in the new pool. ing to match.” Senior Captains Frances Loeb, their practices even more intense. In addition to the potential the Taylor Scott, and Izzy Shapiro also new pool brings, the team’s great help make swimming an exciting chemistry and spirit are sure to help team sport, bringing everyone closer each of the swimmers to reach their together. greatest potentials. The Girls’ team “They are great captains because has spirit dinners on nights before they listen to all of our team mates meets, spirit families, and crazy and they push us to do better,” states spirit day and regardless of how junior Ali Burgos. “We would not well they do at meets; all of the succeed as a team if we didn’t have Boys’ and Girls’ team members are everyone on the team pushing us to also extremely supportive of each do better.” In support of this, Loeb adds, “I love the girls on the swim other. “Whether it’s during meets, team and I’m excited to get closer practices, or spirit dinners it’s always with everyone and really get to know natural to see fellow teammates cheering each other on, even if it’s the new freshmen.” Led by coach Paul Speicher and maybe during a hard set,” says Gu. With the new pool, the teams are captains Alek Klincewicz, Zach Osalso receiving support from spectatrum, and Billy Gu, the Boys’ Swim tors who now find it much easier team also hopes to beat their last to support and cheer for the team year records with the help of the new during home meets. “It really makes pool. Harder practices, strong new a difference during swimming to swimmers, and continued spirit will hear people cheering you on,” says allow the team to accomplish this Burgos. goal. “There are no more excuses The pool is like a clean slate. anymore because we have our own The swimmers this year have the pool,” says Gu. responsibility of building up a good Although the Boys’ team lost reputation for the pool and setting many star swimmers from last year, precedence for the years to follow. the new freshman class has proWith a new pool, a new coach, tough vided the team with a new batch of workout regimens, and a revived amazing swimmers. Since they will mentality to win, the two swim teams have the opportunity to practice in are ready to see their hard work the school for the rest of their high finally pay off during this winter school careers, there are high hopes season; they are eager to make their that these freshmen will someday mark and find success as the first exceed their upperclassmen. swim teams to use the new pool. “We have a large crop of swim-
December 23, 2010
The Merionite Girls’ track season out of the gate in a flash Vered Schwell
Class of 2012
While many of us are sitting at home enjoying a delicious cup of hot chocolate, there is a group of girls who are pushing themselves up steep hills and through the icy wind. Many of us are strangers to such conditions, but this group of girls faces these obstacles almost everyday. The runners are extremely committed, running through harsh winter conditions, and although the team is small, the girls are cohesive. Every member of the team is expected to run her hardest. Coach Dermot Anderson expects every member “to be open-minded to facing new challenges.” All of the girls are expected to do their best at every practice. These high expectations make the team very strong. Natalie Plick, a junior on the team and a veteran runner, describesd the team as “a very friendly, close team, but also very serious about running.” In addition to after school practices, all members of the team are expected to dedicate weekends and much of winter break to training. Captain Audrey Utkus said their schedule is practice “every weekday except Wednesdays and long runs at 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings.” Also, “the girls who run indoor track train outside in the coldest weather,” Hannah Schaeffer, a junior on the team, pointed out. These girls display incredible discipline by training outside in the bitter cold. They are “tough because they run through the winter,” stated Plick. The hardships that the girls must face together strengthen the bond between each runner. Another unique attribute of the girls’ indoor track team is the support the members give each other. Although the team is a hodgepodge of runners at different stages in their careers, this does not prevent the girls from becoming close within their groups: distance and sprinting. The reason for this split is because after running a warm up together the team must split themselves into sprinters and distance runners. But senior captain Patty Neckowicz said that, “within these groups, people are very close.” These groups are very supportive of each other. “My favorite part of running on a team is the sup-
Freshman Brett Katz
Hi, I am part of the Lower Merion Cross Country team and the Lower Merion Ice Hockey team. As a ninth grader, I think that it is really cool to support my school by playing for its various sports teams. It is great to have a sport that I love to play available to me every day for school. I love hockey and I really can’t wait for the season to get going. I also plan to play tennis or run track this upcoming spring.
port and friendship that the team offers,” stated junior Erica Hummel. Captains Laura Peterson, Neckowicz, Utkus, and Maddie Gold lead this years team and are trying to bridge the gap between the sprinters and distance runners.
Photo by Talia Lieberman/Staff
The girls’ indoor track team runs against the cold wind in preparation for a workout.
“I think relationships aren’t generally as strong between the whole team as they are within these groups,” said Neckowicz, “We’re going to try and fix that this year.” They intend to do this by “trying to integrate sprinting and distance,” said Utkus. They are also changing the dynamic of the season. As Lacey Serletti, a junior and veteran runner states, “We’re gradually building up our mileage and our workouts. This is different from past seasons.” The team is also employing the use of the weight room for the first time. The purpose of the weight room is “to try to add some upper body strength,” stated Anderson. With the values of hard work, deidication, and determination, along with top talent across the board, the girls are optimistic for a succesful season.
Sophomore Jane Urheim
Hey, I run cross country in the fall, play basketball in the winter, and play Ultimate Frisbee in the spring. I love reading Harry Potter and enjoy eating dark chocolate, avocados, and cookies n’ cream ice cream. Two of my favorite actors are James Franco and Rachel McAdams. My favorite TV shows are 30 Rock and The Office. My life’s ambition is to be accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When I grow up, I would like to be an archaeologist or a geologist.
Dehydration attacks LM winter athletes
Class of 2012
As winter sports teams begin their season, athletes must overcome the dry, cold, and harsh wind each day. One of the most fundamental issues these athletes face is dehydration. Dehydration, often associated with high temperatures, is also a serious problem that athletes practicing and competing in cold weather must overcome. During exercise and athletics, keeping hydrated is one of the most important things to monitor. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, and has a direct link to a decrease in performance. According to the Boys Track coach, Megan Capewell, in cold weather ”the same principles apply- your muscles can’t contract fully without being properly hydrated. Even a 2% loss in bodyweight due to water loss will negatively affect your performance.” Without the heat of the weather of their surroundings to remind them, athletes often do not drink enough fluid. Dehydration is often a bigger issue for athletes mostly because they do not take in enough liquids in the cold weather. This is often due to the fact that under cold temperatures, the thirst mechanism is not activated the same way. The process of retaining core body heat covers up many of the signals of dehydration, preventing people from feeling thirsty. Because people rely on the thirst mechanism to indicate when they need to drink, they often forget to keep hydrated when the temperature drops. Cold weather, by affecting the process through which bodies monitor hydration,
Junior Zach Kleiner
Hi, I am actually a junior and also a two year varsity wrestler at the 103 lb. weight class. The things about wrestling I love the most are the fairness of the sport, and the togetherness of the team. I love getting green checkmarks on AP Physics WebAssigns and eating carrots with Shane Votto. My wish for the team and myself this season is to finish over .500 and to beat Harriton.
causes athletes to not drink enough to stay hydrated. In the cold, athletes’ thirst mechanisms are untrustworthy, and in general there is no natural tendency to drink as opposed to when it is hot. Not only do athletes not drink enough in the cold, but they also underestimate the amount of fluids lost during practices or competitions. In dry, cold weather, water evaporates faster than it does in warmer environments. The dry air pulls the fluid out, and sweat and saliva leave the body quicker than they usually would. Because of this it is difficult to determine how much athletes are actually perspiring. It is logical to assume that they would not sweat in the cold, however, all exercise results in perspiration. Moreover, the extra layers worn during the winter keep bodies warm when the temperature drops. When exercising though, the extra clothing can cause the body to overheat and sweat just the same as it would in warm weather. Dehydration is a crucial problem that winter athletes must be aware of. Athletes often lack the necessary liquids without even knowing it. It is important to recognize the fact that athletes always need to take in liquids, even when it is cold and the body is not demanding a greater intake. Capewell adds that hydration is “more tricky in the winter because we don’t automatically think this is one of our main concerns.” The trick to staying hydrated is to find the balance between input and output. It is imperative to know how much sweat is being produced, and how much liquid the athlete has already taken in.
Senior Sarah Eisenlohr
Yo what up? I’ve been on the varsity swim team since freshman year. I’m the resident distance senior, so at meets I’m usually hitting up lane three or four in the 500 and 200 freestyle. This year, hopefully I’ll get to do either the 100 backstroke or 100 butterfly. For personal enjoyment, I like to cut up pomegranates, climb statues, roll down hills and play with people’s hands. I probably know more about demons than you do.
December 23, 2010
Class of 2013
All photos courtesy of Jon Nimerfroh
“You sustain us, you inspire us, you gladden our hearts. I treasure that fact that you are a part of our family. I love you for that.” - Jeanne Mastriano
Celebrities who attended:
“It’s very important to me to help the next generation of students that come from here. I want you guys to continue to have dreams, continue to have goals and don’t let anybody say what you can and can’t do, because I certainly didn’t do that.” - Kobe Bryant
- Shannon Brown
- Kobe Bryant
- Jimmy Rollins - Derek Fisher - Steve Blake
- Matt Barnes
- Devin Ebanks
- Derrick Caracter - Chiddy Bang
Lower Merion Family Celebrates Kobe’s Return, Dedicates Gym
Sports Staff John Legend…Kevin Bacon… Michael Vick…Usher…It may seem ridiculous now, but for a while, these celebrities and many others were believed to be attending the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium Dedication Ceremony that took place at LM last Thursday. While none of these folks actually showed up, there was still a great deal of enthusiasm and anticipation for this groundbreaking occasion. Many students throughout the school were hoping to catch a glimpse of one of these celebrities, or, even better, of Bryant himself. With excitement in the air, questions ranged from, “Will Khloe Kardashian (wife of Kobe’s teammate Lamar Odom) attend?” to, “will diehard Lakers fan Jack Nicholson give a speech?” As rumors continued to swirl around the event, students became increasingly excited for the big day. With thoughts of athletes and movie stars galore, tickets to the dedication sold, and sold fast. By the Sunday before the event, all tickets had been bought. Capitalizing off the tickets’ nascent commodity status, some ticket owners began selling their tickets at two or thee times its original value.
Many students thought that the event would be so full that attendees would have no choice but to spill over into the next rooms. Every seat in the seemingly small gym, many predicted, would be filled to the brim, with hordes of fans waiting by the sidelines, forced to stand. While all these rumors were spreading like wildfire, the gym was being set up. Students curiously crowded around the windows in the Aces Atrium the day of the event, looking down upon a magnificent stage. It was a scene fit for the stars, and thus it was not hard imagine a red carpet with celebrities of all kinds populating it. The stage itself appeared out-ofplace and transformed the gym into a completely new, awe-inspiring place.
Hoping to catch an earlier glimpse of what was believed to be a celebrity-filled event, many students arrived much earlier than the 6:30 call time. However, the event was delayed and ended up starting about an hour later than scheduled. The security for this evening was tight; guests were patted down and forced to show
valid photo identification. This greatly slowed up entry into the gym, with
lines of patrons circling around three walls of the school. Students, alumni and community members flooded the building, donning Bryant jerseys from his tenure with the Lakers, US Olympic team, and even a few from his time at LM. The turnout of press at the event was something that did exceed the expectations of students. With rumors swirling of a possible Barack Obama appearance, talk of reporters and cameramen from sources such as ESPN were diffusing throughout the school. As it turns out, students’ expectation of this aspect of the event turned out to be fairly accurate. Along with ESPN and the Philadelphia Inquirer, local television, newspaper, and radio sta-
tions all had reporters at the scene. In the end, some of the anticipation for this event was quelled. Nicholson, Kardashian and Bacon were all three thousand miles away from LM in Los Angeles. Michael Vick was in his West Deptford, NJ home preparing for his big Eagles’ showdown with the New York Giants. Yet some of the hype was justified. Upand-coming Philadelphia rap duo Chiddy Bang treated all attendees of the event to a show-stopping performance. Former MVP and lifelong Phillie Jimmy Rollins and Flyers superstar Claude Giroux made appearances, and Bryant’s teammate Derek Fisher gave a rousing speech to introduce the man to whom the celebratory night was owed. Ultimately, this event was made not by the celebrities there, but from people in the LM family. Basketball Coach Gregg Downer and English Teacher Jeanne Mastriano gave emotional speeches, which harped on Bryant’s time at LM how much he means to the school and community. Even though this event may not have had every A-List celeb on the planet, it was still a night to remember for all in attendance.
Published on Dec 23, 2010
the december 2010 issue of the Merionite including a special feature on education and coverage of the gym dedication