The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper Opinions
A Field Trip to the Studio of Purgatory Pie Press
Read about features editor Sophie Watwood’s excursion to Purgatory Pie Press, where she meets visiting artist and author Esther K. Smith and her husband, Dikko Faust, a typographer and printer. see page 6
Volume 107 No. 10
NEWSBEAT Senior Cade Lueker won the Bronze medal and junior Allard Peng finished in ninth place on Sunday, February 12, at the Mayor’s Cup Wrestling Scholastic Tournament. Sophomore Sean Takada and freshman Lucas Amory won the annual Lincoln Center High School Chamber Music Competition. They will be performing at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday, April 27.
The Model United Nations team competed at JHUMUNC on Friday, February 10. Sophomore Joshua Weiner won the Outstanding Delegate Award. Seniors Solomon Medintz and Jackson Morgan received honorable mentions. Junior Kevin Li won first place in the Lincoln-Douglas division and junior Pacy Yan reached quarterfinals at the 42nd Annual Liberty Bell Classic Tournament at the University of Pennsylvania.
“The Pulse of the Student Body”
Point-Counterpoint: Protests Junior Raniyan Zaman and Freshmen Mia Gindis and Mehrunissa Hinckley tackle the value, and effectiveness, of modern-day protests. see page 12
February 17, 2017
Stuyvesant Purchases Online Gradebook Jupiter Grades By Clive Johnston, Mai Rachlevsky, and Jessica Wu The administration purchased the rights for teachers to use Jupiter Grades as a digital gradebook during the Spring Term. Teachers have the choice to use Jupiter Grades, but by contract they cannot be required to do so. In addition, teachers who choose to use the gradebook do not have to let students and parents view it. Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras realized that the school did not have a schoolwide on-line gradebook for its teachers. Stuyvesant had previously purchased the rights to use eSchoolData in 2015, another online tool with a gradebook. However, many teachers were unfamiliar with how it worked, and its functionality was limited. A few other online gradebooks, such as PupilPath, were also considered. Eventually, the administration decided that Jupiter Grades was the best option. “Jupiter Grades is a much more robust gradebook option for teachers. [Jupiter Grades and eSchoolData have] two different purposes. eSchoolData is our comprehensive data system. It has historic and current data
for parents and students to be able to access with multi function tabs. Jupiter Grades has some overlap, but it is a gradebook option,” Contreras said. In addition, eSchoolData was meant to be a portal for students and parents to view information, whereas Jupiter Grades is primarily intended for teacher use. “The purpose at Stuyvesant for Jupiter Grades is simply to provide teachers with another option for a gradebook,” Contreras said. Previously, teachers who wanted access to a better online gradebook had to purchase it on their own with many opting to use their Teacher’s Choice allowance, which enables them to purchase appropriate educational tools and get reimbursed. “Teachers have enough expenses on their plates,” Contreras said. “So we made the decision to buy it for the teachers.” “[Jupiter Grades] used to be a $60 per year expense for me, which I paid because it is amazing. Now I get it for free, so I’m personally very excited,” chemistry teacher and Assistant Program Chair Thomas Cork said.
Hundreds of students walked out of New York City high schools on Thursday, February 9, to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim majority nations. Hardly anybody from Stuyvesant attended. The Trump administration seems remote to many, and it is difficult to imagine his policies influencing New York City. Some immigrant families, having earned their place in society through hard work, believe Trump will create a more meritocratic system. Also, there are conservative segments of the student body which simply align with the Republican party. Background aside, nearly every student currently attending Stuyvesant will graduate, and transition to adulthood, under a Trump presidency. His administration will have major, and potentially disastrous, effects on our lives. No matter our political affiliations, we must stay informed, and look at Trump’s policies for what they really are: discriminatory and illogical.
January 21 Half a million people participated in the Women’s March in Washington, DC, along with many smaller marches nationwide. Through protest, many Americans were able to show President Trump that they are unwilling to accept the bigotry and hatred his campaign rhetoric stood for.
January 23 Trump issues a memorandum to resume construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. This action is consistent with Trump’s claims that climate change is not real, despite scientific consensus stating otherwise, and will threaten our generation and those to come.
January 24 Trump signs a pair of executive orders which called for the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and reinstated programs that allow the federal government to work with local law enforcement agencies to detain unauthorized immigrants. This causes a diplomatic spat with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto over funding, revealing Trump’s willingness to risk U.S-Mexican relations. With this policy we will see families broken apart, communities disrupted, and our country placed in a police state. continued on page 10
continued on page 3
Responding to a New Political and Social Normal By Blythe Zadrozny In the span of less than a month, the political and social climate of our country, and by extension our school, has changed drastically. Donald Trump’s first days of presidency have been filled with social unrest and uncertainty. The Spectator conducted a survey via stuy.edu e-mails to find out how these changes have affected Stuyvesant students, for better or for worse. 543 students responded. Here are the results.
How closely have you
been following the news?
Stuyvesant students are overwhelmingly interested in learning about current events. Only 2.4 percent of respondents do not follow the news. This trend is maintained throughout each grade. The majority of seniors and freshmen read the news at least once a day, everyday.
1 I do not know what is going on in the news.
If you follow the news, where do you get your news from?
29.1% 5 I read the news at least once a day, everyday.
Do you generally identify as liberal or conservative?
Keeping up with current events can take many forms. However, at Stuyvesant, the most popular method is through social media. While respondents who labeled themselves as most informed were more likely to read a newspaper, students at every other level of following the news were most likely to use social media. This number increased as levels of informedness decreased, with 75.8 percent of students who answered “two” for their level of informedness using social media.
continued on page 2
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
News Responding to a New Political and Social Normal continued from page 1
How much do you agree with President Trump’s policies? 1.7%
Do you feel you are affected by President Trump’s policies? 4.6%
“While, I am a birthright citizen, the rest of my family are illegal immigrants. Everytime news has come up about Trump, [my parents and I] would watch it intensely. His administration has [caused us] a great deal of stress lately and likely will for the next four years. It has gotten to the point where we have seriously considered just leaving the country already and emigrating to somewhere else. All of us are deeply troubled by President Trump’s policies.” “I’m not a U.S citizen, and I’m here on a visa. I’m afraid that I will never get the chance to get a green card despite the fact that my family has been working towards one for seven years.” “My parents, who are small business owners and have been having a hard time because of the heavy insurance costs of the Affordable Care Act, will be much better off after it is appealed.” “He’s shutting down planned parenthood locations across the country, limiting my access to free female health care, not to mention the choice over my body. He’s also giving many males the idea that it’s [alright] to sexualize women, and more recently, I’ve been harassed on the train many more times than I [had been] before he was elected.”
How many of your teachers
If you answered anything but “none” for the last question, did at least one of the teachers talk about the election in a biased way?
have talked about current political events and policies in class?
Have you taken action politically since the election? 24.3% 1 No, I do not feel a need.
Yes, I have done as much as possible.
“They have the ability to join in protests and convince part of their community, but they lack the power to vote and they’re not taken as seriously by some.” “We are unable to do anything other than voice dissent, which is already being done, but our voices contribute to the volume of the body.” “Some students are 18+, so they can vote, and some influence the decisions of their parents, who might be uneducated on political matters.”
Do you think Stuyvesant has an obligation to give us information and teach us about current events? “There needs to be a balance between what we learn about the past and the present. Educating ourselves about current events is what allows students to be knowledgeable about politics and have more political power.” “Some, if not all, have bias towards one party, and it’s not President Trump’s party. Teachers tend to be one-sided and are hostile to views other than their own. We just saw the recent protest of the AP Government teacher, a great example of horrific political bias in our school. As for my own experiences, when I attempted to sound politically moderate in my English paper, I got criticized for being too conservative and my English teacher dropped my semester grade by over three points. I find it hopeless, as my guidance counselor is liberal herself, and would be inhospitable to my complaints.” “Current events will always have an impact on the lives of students. It may not always be direct, but any given policy of the Trump administration will have an effect on every American. Even non-American events affect the majority our country. Considering the school considers courses in architectural drawing, calculus, chemistry, and numerous other courses that are irrelevant in day-to-day life to be important for our general knowledge, they should at least make an effort to teach students about genuinely important topics that are relevant to their lives.”
I’m not sure (12.5%)
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
News Responding to a New Political and Social Normal continued from page 2
Do you think Stuyvesant has an
obligation to provide resources and support if we disagree with current political policies or feel threatened? Other (1.7%)
I’m not sure (18.4%)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and NASA
WORLDBEAT A federal judge in Washington issued a temporary restraining order against President Trump’s controversial travel ban on Friday, February 3. The ban placed restrictions on travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the decision after the Trump administration filed an appeal. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned on Tuesday, February 14, after admitting that he concealed information about a phone call with the Russian ambassador from Vice President Mike Pence and the public. Flynn allegedly discussed American sanctions on Russia during the call late last year. This incident heightens concerns about the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia.
North Korea launched an intermediate range missile on Sunday, February 13. The missile, which uses solid fuel that allows it to be fired faster, is seen as a threat to Japan and the United States. A man armed with knives was shot by French police outside the Louvre on Friday, February 3, after he attempted to attack military personnel nearby. Though there were no casualties, tensions are running high in France amidst the string of terror attacks that have plagued the country in recent years.
“With many of the students being Asian American, immigration is a really important subject and something that had to happen for us to have the privileged life we have in America. However, some students may feel legitimately threatened because there is a significant Muslim population at our school. I know that a letter was sent out to all the students offering support and I think that this should be a continued trend.” “Since this is NYC, if Stuyvesant does provide resources, it will be for liberals and against conservatives since the majority of Stuyvesant is liberal. When the school is officially treating a portion of Stuyvesant students as the enemy, I think it has gone too far.”
A number of President Trump’s Cabinet nominees, including Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, and Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, have been confirmed over the past two weeks despite facing intense scrutiny and criticism. Nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated in Northern California after a hole developed in the Oroville Dam’s spillway. The concerns over flooding have been exacerbated by periods of heavy rain. The New England Patriots won Super Bowl LI. The Patriots overcame a historic 25 point deficit and played into overtime to defeat the Atlanta Falcons and take their fifth Super Bowl title.
What should we do going forward? “Have places for open discussion in classroom settings, so that students can get accurate information and hear each other’s perspectives.” “I think we are fine as we are. Opinions will always exist and expressing them is important. I don’t feel attacked for my political stance, though I do not share it with most.” “Give out more information that supports BOTH sides. Not just the Democratic one, even though most people voted Hillary Clinton in the mock-election. This school is full of biased liberals who make no attempt to understand opposing views and something has to be done.” “There should be a section of a wall somewhere in the building that is dedicated to providing unbiased non-partisan current events, maybe somewhere on the third floor where there is a lot of traffic [or] the wall that people face when they go up the two-three escalator. If students and/or Stuyvesant really want biased news, then there can be a section of the same wall dedicated to editorials.” “The Stuyvesant community and the younger generation in general should be more accepting of conservative and Republican minds. I feel discouraged to speak my mind on many topics because of the looming threat of being considered an outcast for not being liberal, and I don’t even consider myself a Republican all that much. I don’t agree with Trump’s Muslim ban at all and think that it is totally unconstitutional and a majority of conservatives are very accepting of the LGBT[Q population] in New York. However, I did vote for him because Clinton was going to keep ObamaCare and radicalize it even more, which would put even more strain on my parents, who are already having a tough time dealing with having to cover the insurance of their employees and the expensive New York rent. Many students don’t realize that many of the people who voted for Trump aren’t islamophobic, xenophobic Christians, but are just as diverse as liberals and [just] want the best for their families.”
swept the Grammys with five awards including all the major awards despite high expectations for Beyonce’s album Lemonade. The ceremony also offered tributes to Prince, George Michael, and other artists who passed away last year.
Stuyvesant Purchases Online Gradebook Jupiter Grades continued from page 1
To help teachers become accustomed to using Jupiter Grades, the administration will hold demonstrations explaining its functions. They will take place on professional development days and will be led by teachers who already use Jupiter Grades. “Teachers [who] want to consider using Jupiter Grades as their gradebook can go and learn how to do that. We did it already for the last [professional development] day this past month and we have more coming up. We will make a lab space available for teachers who want to come and see if this makes sense for them,” Contreras said. The administration was also encouraged to purchase Jupiter Grades by students and parents. Many students support the increase in transparency. “I am very excited as I [may] have easy access to my grades and teachers’ comments on how I
am doing on individual assignments, as well as courses holistically,” junior Eugene Thomas said in an e-mail interview. However, some students are concerned that this decision will only increase the focus on grades. “I think that the purchasing of Jupiter grades will only add to the stress and competitiveness of [Stuyvesant] and our obsession [with] grades,” junior Nadean Alnajjar said in an e-mail interview. Parents, however, are eager to gain more access to their children’s grades. “I hope more teachers start using the program. Getting a report card every marking period just isn’t enough. I’d like to be able to know how my child’s doing throughout the whole semester,” parent Eva Chen said. Contreras stressed that Jupiter Grades may not be permanently utilized. “I will see what feedback is from students, parents, and teachers at the end of the term,” Contreras said. “I believe in trying things out, and if they don’t work, we don’t do it.”
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Features A Field Trip to the Studio of Purgatory Pie Press
Courtesy of Etsy.com
Sophie Watwood / The Spectator
By Sophie Watwood Esther K. Smith paces around Ms. Bernstein’s 3D art class, looking over the shoulders of students and assisting with a comment of guidance from time to time. The first day I interviewed her, she was wearing an ivory sweater dress with pink stripes over black leggings, a cerulean cardigan, and red patent leather shoes. Her horn-rimmed reading glasses rested on top of her head. Smith is a visiting artist at Stuyvesant, teaching Ms. Bernstein’s classes bookmaking, her profession. After about five minutes of talking to her, she extended an invitation to the studio of Purgatory Pie Press, which she runs with her husband. And so I went. Smith’s daughter Georgia Faust (‘04) went to Stuyvesant, so Smith remained in contact with some of the teachers. Ms. Bernstein, who reached out after liking Smith’s cleverly named “How To Make Books,” introduced the idea of working on a project with students from the school. Originally, they planned to work on projects in class with Ms. Smith using funds from a grant, but that didn’t work out. Instead, she came in as a visiting artist for ten classes, about twice a week, during which she taught students how to make books while assisting them on their individual projects. “I haven’t done a class like this before where I came in and worked with high school students. I mainly work with college kids. But Stuy kids are something like college kids,” Smith said. The short class periods and large class sizes caused Smith to adjust her teaching style. “My normal way to teach is every week I’d show them something, and then the next week something more complicated, and between the classes, usually once a week, they would make a project based on that structure. So they would learn something simple and what they can do with the simple thing, and then sort of build,” she said. “This time was a little different.” “The first time I went in, I showed them things that I had done. The next time, I brought an artist I had worked with who was a math artist, because I thought that Stuy[vesant] students might be a good audience for her. So, then, I went in four or five times before winter break and had them making very fast little models and sometimes watch me make things and show them basic stuff. After the holidays, they came back and start-
ed making their own projects, and since then, I’ve been going around and helping people,” she said. On my way to her studio, I asked about how she got into this. “Well, my mom was an artist. I always did stuff with her working with paper,” she said. “Like if I’d be sick, we’d make paper angels and things like this. One time I got really sick––I had mono for a few months––and one of her friends gave me an embroidery kit, so I learned how to embroider. I liked being able to make something that you have. At one point I said to my parents, ‘I’ve decided I’m gonna be a craftswoman,’ and they just laughed. But it kind of worked out that way.” It wasn’t until college, however, that she officially learned the craft. Smith and her husband, Dikko Faust, went to Beloit College. “It’s a small liberal arts college. Good school for a creative person. Dikko was a friend of mine in college. We did some collaborative stuff, like I made him costumes for performances, and then he was doing paper making, and I thought that was so interesting. One thing led to another, and he was [making] books and design[ing] a book. I needed a datebook, so I learned how to make it. At first, I thought I would just do the design, and someone else would do the binding, but in the end, I learned how to do it.” Before she officially became a bookmaker, Smith was involved in the set creation, lights management, and costume production for small scale productions, but she soon realized that it wasn’t her calling. Walking into her studio on the fourth floor of an apartment complex, I let out a little gasp as my eyes wandered around the complex that was filled with wooden cases that divided the room. My eyes fell on the racks and colorful ephemeras all over the studio. Every inch of the floor was covered. There was always a work table, case, or place to sit. A big, leaning stack of CD cases held itself up between a stereo and a shelf. Almost all the furniture was made of wood. A cart of ink cans almost as big as the press itself sat against the wall—a bright, sloppy mess of colors that most Tumblr blogs would go nuts for. Every surface had something visually interesting on it. It became clear that this level of tasteful detail came with her 40 years of collection. Dikko Faust and Smith both have a penchant for the mechanical, as was evident from their use of the printing press and no visible screens or electronics in the stu-
dio, other than someone’s laptop, which was buried beneath various unfinished projects. “We hand-set almost all our type,” she said. “We almost never use computer type, we just don’t think it’s as good.” The entire space had the type of aesthetic that comes from hipster Brooklyn flea markets and art fairs. I, as a Brooklyn hipster, was all over it. She pointed out her husband, who was standing next to a wall of font cases, scanning over all the font names. “So that’s Dikko, the printer and founder,” she told me. I also met Wendy Montero, the intern working on their website. She’s studying web design at The City College of New York, and after working with Smith and Dikko Faust, she says she is interested in printmaking and the letterpress. “She’s been really great assisting with the class and stuff too,” Smith said. “She didn’t know any popups, and she figured them out from the book so that she could help people.” Purgatory Pie Press makes Artist Books, which are more about the book as a work of art than what we traditionally think of as reading material. “Sometimes we work with a writer, or sometimes we work with an artist. Sometimes [we work with] an artist and then we will be the writer[s],” she said. “In any creative process, things kind of…,” she said, waving her arms in frantic circles for a second. “And something sparks. So maybe we’ll see an artist and we like their work, and we think we’d like to do a project with them. Part of what we like is our printing looks good on certain stuff and not on others, so photography doesn’t print very well with letterpress, but line drawings do and a lot of solids and lines. We also used to do postcards and stuff, so we try to do a little project like that with the artist before we do something big, just to see if we work together well, because we can’t say that what will work with one artist will work with another.” “If we’re doing a job, I’m usually the production person. Sometimes I’m the design person, but I look at how many things fit on the press at one time, thinking about the limitations and the possibilities,” she said. She then pulled out the first of many books that she would show me that day. This one, a colorful piece in the shape of a woman wearing a dress, is called “Corona de Rosas.” The dress is a popping red, with little flowers in the thick line work filled in with other bright hues. A collaboration with
artist Maria de Los Angeles, the book structure seeks to call back to her other work, most notably her painted paper dresses. The most creative aspect of this book is that it unfolds so that you can wear it as a crown, which Smith gleamingly demonstrated for me. For this book, the structure was obviously important, as it defined much of the artistic purpose of the piece, so I asked Smith how much influence the structure of the book tends to have. She responded that her collaborations start off with an idea: “I’ll think about what book I can make to house that idea instead of basing the book around what structure I’m using. But there are certain forms that I know, because I’ve been doing this for a long time, that I’ll do a Coptic book this time or a long stitch book this time, because long stitch is one of my favorites.” She’s picked up a lot of these structures from friends in the art world who will offer a solution or teach her something new to solve a problem, but she’s learned just as much by teaching. “I [taught] at Cooper Union in 1992,” she said. “At that point I was learning a lot that I wasn’t going to use but just so I could teach it to my students. But then that’s great because you have more stuff in your arsenal.” “To me, the book structure is a very important element, because we’re also printing, like you’re going to come to our print shop, and so what typeface we’re going to choose, how we’re going to print things—all of that is part of it,” she explained. She brought out another book, a collaboration between an artist and a poet, and started to unfold it for me. When closed, the book is tiny and fits in the palm of your hand. It was originally made as her contribution to a collection of small, insect-themed art books. The title, “Pests of Public Importance,” graces the white cover in elegant handset type. The font is reminiscent of the headings on colonial propaganda. On the bottom half of the cover, a printed pattern in burgundy acts almost like a border. The negative space of the plate used is cut with borders and anatomically correct illustrations of mosquitoes in different stages of life. It has a similar aesthetic to traditional African art. This pattern continues along the bottom of the double-accordion folded sheet. She paged through it delicately with her thumbs, letting me read the poetry split into different lines above the border, and then flattened out the entire sheet,
flipping it over. Upon closer observation, I notice that it is printed on a map. “We do a lot of printing on sea chart paper from somewhere in the neighborhood,” she told me. These are maps of places where the Zika virus is particularly prevalent. The artist the Purgatory Pie Press collaborated on for this piece is named April Vollmer. She makes wood cuts, and she often makes prints that reference mathematical concepts and STEM. Smith called her “A real science and art person.” The poet is Georgia Faust, Smith’s daughter, who wrote the piece after a call for poetry submissions by Smith failed to find the tone they were looking for. It’s a found poem filled with scientific jargon. Many of the lines contain facts about mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses that were later revised, referencing the evolving truth of science and human understanding. “We sell the work later and hope to make money, but we’re not very good at selling,” she confessed, laughing. This, I am familiar with. As the child of an artist, I have always had an understanding of how many brilliant and beautiful works are appreciated without making necessary profit. “There are some collections that buy our work, like the Museum of Modern Art has a lot of it, and the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney, the Tate in England, the Victoria & Albert, [and] NYU.” This, on the other hand, is surprising. These collections are hugely renowned in the art world, and being supported by them is a massive achievement. Purgatory Pie Press makes limited edition artist books, though, which means that the selling of a single book to a high-end collection like that is impressive, but not necessarily profitable. These books are also fragile, and very valuable. Most people understand books to be something you can pick up, pull open, and toss in your backpack, but unless the insurance of the gallery is fairly high, you often can’t even touch them. “We have this book––its price now is around $5000, and it wasn’t that much then, but it was still over $1000. And this kid just picked it up, and I said to his mother, ‘That book costs a thousand dollars,’ and she was like, ‘Wow, really?’ and didn’t tell her kid to put it down.” “I try not to let kids touch stuff, but I also try to have something continued on page 7
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Features A Field Trip to the Studio of Purgatory Pie Press continued from page 6 for them to touch,” she said. Little pop-up face accordion books, like the one she gave me, are a common gift to children interested in the exhibit. Smith even has a book exclusively for them; she followed up the original “How To Make Books” with “Making Books with Kids.” After a while, Smith decided it was time for her to head home. Before the elevator turned off, she said goodbye and left me in the studio with Montero and Dikko Faust. Dikko Faust invited me to come look at the press with him, and I
obliged. Dikko Faust is, straightforwardly, eccentric-looking. His hair has gone white, but it’s still a spiky halo around his head, exactly the same as it was in some older pictures of him. His voice is loud, clear, deep, and pausing; it almost seems like he’s letting you hear him think, and he seems to think a lot. In the picture of him on the “About Us” tab on their website, he’s wearing a colorful mess of a shirt. He smiles with his eyes wide open. The scruffy goatee he bore at the time was cut diagonally across his chin––whether this was inten-
tional or not was unclear. A pair of glasses hung around his neck, which he held up to his eyes while squinting in an angry-looking way at tiny typeface. To me, he is intriguing. I could have stayed in the studio talking to him for hours. “So how did you get into this?” I asked him. Dikko Faust has always liked printing, but did woodcut, etching, linoleum, and intaglio before settling on printing. He went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, the only place in the state that had a full letter press set up. He eventually founded Purga-
tory Pie Press in 1977. Dikko Faust patiently answered all my questions. I learned that in the studio, a stack of wooden trays are a makeshift drying rack. Stuff that I previously looked at as paint cans were actually high-quality ink that he received for free or bought for fifty cents in the eighties or halfused from places that were going out of business. He also explained the difference between typefaces and fonts. He demonstrated how the printing press works. It’s dark green, with a black roller and the brand name, “Vanderbilt,” printed on the
side in gold. Faust showed off his special extension, the split fountain, which allows him to only ink up and clean up half the roller at a time for smaller prints. He turned on the engine, set down the roller, and a big metal “chink” cued the whirring of the motor. The bicycle chain attached to the roller and the motor started to loop around. We stood there for a moment, listening to the magic of the room, before he shut it off with a clunk. There is moment of silence as the noise settles. I thank him, find my way down four flights of stairs, and step out into the evening.
The Majority Still a Cultural Minority By Karen Chen As an Asian American, I’ve always felt out of place in my predominantly white neighborhood and in my journey of coming to terms with my dual-identity. I know I’m not alone. However, upon entering Stuyvesant, I still felt out of touch with my own culture. As a place distinguished by its large Asian community, it seems to lack in its acceptance of Chinese culture, and oftentimes, it feels as if this minority group remains a minority, even when it is predominant.
an acronym for “fresh off the boat,” used to describe immigrants that have not yet become accustomed to a host nation’s culture, language, or behavior. It is often used when describing the stereotypical behavior of immigrants, such as the use of broken English. I grew up hearing the word FOB, but never understood it as a racial slur, and until recently, never saw its profound impact on Stuyvesant’s culture. Within the East Asian community at Stuyvesant, FOB is a word thrown around in the halls casually, but the underlying stigma surrounding the term seems to be what keeps many from outwardly embracing their Asian cultures. “If anyone calls [me] a FOB, [they are] being ignorant towards Chinese culture. [They are] placing an identity on me,” junior Michelle Chu said. Many students, Chu explained, while familiar with the term, don’t understand the negative connotation that surrounds it. “I’ve always had a negative connotation with the word FOB,” junior Joyce Wu said. In one particular experience, she recalled, “My friends and I have this ongoing joke that we’re this one big family that all immigrated from China. And two of them are actu-
ally from China, but I’m not. There was this time in sophomore year, one of my white friends in the group called me a FOB, and I told him I actually wasn’t a FOB, but he didn’t believe me. I was kind of offended, but, at the time, I felt like it was such a small deal to him when he said it that I didn’t really confront him about it.” In the case of junior Weixun Ren, he tells of how self-conscious he is when it comes to English class. “I make a lot of grammatical mistakes on my essays unintentionally, and there was this one time where I had around ten mistakes for not writing in the correct tense. When my friend read it over, he called me a FOB, but I just laughed it off.” Both Ren and his friend had grown up hearing the word being used so freely that they were under the impression that FOB was not meant as an offensive term. Though, he explained how when called one, he often used laughter as a method to hide any sort of discomfort. Despite its origins as a derogatory term, some have taken control of it and made it a source of pride. For Koreans, FOB is a label that doesn’t carry as much weight. Junior Anne Lee explained, “I never really felt concerned about being labeled a FOB because […] in some aspects, the label is probably true because Korean is my first language, and I’m very in sync with Korean culture, and, also generally, Stuy[vesant] is an environment where, even if you get called a FOB, it’s not meant in an offensive manner.”
In the halls, English is the language most commonly used and heard, but English is not the first language for many Stuyvesant students. In particular, though Chinese students make up a majority in Stuyvesant, hearing people
speak fluent Chinese during passing or in the cafeteria is often a rarity, but the use of Korean is much more commonplace. Junior Haiying Weng explains, “I would feel awkward if I were to speak Chinese in school because this is an English-speaking school. Actually, in middle school, I was talking to this girl in Chinese, and my art teacher told me, ‘You shouldn’t be speaking Chinese in school. You need to practice speaking more English.’” This stigma surrounding a Chinese background makes many students feel like they need to suppress their culture. Sophomore Qianyu Wu said, “Sometimes, when I try to talk to classmates I know can speak Chinese in school, they ask for an English translation, even when I know they can understand what I’m saying, and I think it’s because people are scared of the word FOB.” But some, such as junior Jason Kao, believe that being at Stuyvesant has allowed them to further embrace their cultural background.“I rarely see people in Stuy[vesant] speak Chinese to each other, especially in contrast to other high schools like at Seward, where the students are major FOBs” His middle school “Chinatown squad” was a group in which he felt comfortable speaking his native language to, and his open use of “FOB” also stems from how others in his group always used the term. Though a smaller subgroup within the Asian majority at Stuyvesant, Koreans don’t hesitate in accepting their culture, and Anne Lee believes it’s partially related to the fact that they are the Asian minority at Stuyvesant. Junior Andrew Lee explained, “Korean pride isn’t so much something I carry or say as much as I
feel from my parents and Korean community at large. [...] There is a very supportive and intimate community for Koreans here. When I came to Stuy, I didn’t realize my mom had already assimilated into the Stuyvesant Korean Parents Association, which I didn’t know existed. Through that association, I basically came to know most Korean students in my grade very soon and quickly.” In Korea, citizens are taught to take pride in their heritage and culture and are often reluctant to accept practices outside of their norms.“For Koreans, the formation of that culturally, ethically inclusive group speaks to the nationalism of 1960s-70s Koreans whose parents/grandparents felt Japanese oppression and saw the Korean War tear the country in two. That’s where part of the pride comes from,” Andrew Lee said. This pride was instilled within both Andrew Lee and Anne Lee from childhood, and they have never faced any kind of discrimination for it.
K-Pop vs. C-Pop
The idea that Korean-Americans seem to be more accepting of their culture in Stuyvesant than Chinese-Americans can also be explained by the way Korean culture has become so much more integrated into Western society than that of Chinese culture. When Korean culture is thought of, what comes to mind is Korean pop (K-pop) or Korean dramas (Kdramas); when Chinese culture is thought of, what often comes to mind is not Chinese pop (C-pop) or Chinese dramas (C-dramas), but communism. “I live in a bubble where I’m less likely to feel racial profiling,” Andrew Lee lamented. Because K-pop and K-dramas are widely accepted in Western society and in Stuyvesant, with clubs
dedicated to these elements of Korean culture, “Koreans are like the cool Asians,” sophomore Chelsea Cheung stated. “I have a Chinese friend in Stuyvesant who’s trying to be a Korean person. She loves K-pop, and she’s trying to learn Korean and wear Korean makeup, and [she] likes when people think she’s Korean,” Wu explained. Koreans are placed on a pedestal when it comes to the general idea of Asian culture, from K-pop dance crews to the glorification of Korean beauty products. Kao explained, “While there is no stigma against Chinese culture, there’s no promotion either.” Because of this lack of promotion, even in Mandarin class, when a Cpop song is played, there’s a sense of embarrassment and awkwardness amongst many.
The Importance of Community
“There’s nothing shameful or wrong about speaking in your native language,” Anne Lee explained. However, the differentiation in the way Chinese and Korean students generally perceive their own cultures stems from the kind of individual Asian communities Stuyvesant has created. As the majority, Chinese students at Stuyvesant have yet to unite in terms of embracing Chinese culture, with no large Chinese organization joining the Stuyvesant Chinese-American community. However, as Andrew Lee, in relation to his acceptance of Korean identity, stated, “It’s just that the intimacy and well-bonded community speaks to pride by itself.”large Chinese organization joining the Stuyvesant ChineseAmerican community. However, as Andrew Lee, in relation to his acceptance of Korean identity, stated, “it’s just that the intimacy and well-bonded community speaks to pride by itself.”
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
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The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Editorials Staff Editorial
Keeping Track of Trump: Confronting His Presidency
The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
“The Pulse of the Student Body”
continued from page 1
January 26 White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon says the media “should keep its mouth shut.” Traditionally protected by the First Amendment, freedom of speech is essential to maintaining an accountable democracy, and is under assault by the Trump administration.
January 27 Trump signs an executive order banning travelers and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Trump’s travel ban not only undermines our constitutional right to due process, but also is Islamophobic, which should be particularly troubling to Stuyvesant students. Our school is filled with immigrants who fled dictatorships and came to America for new opportunities; Trump’s executive order denies equal opportunity and infringes upon civil rights.
January 28 Anti-travel ban protests erupts at international airports across the nation. In response, a federal judge in New York issued a temporary stay on parts of the order, preventing the deportation of some travelers. Trump invites White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council and revokes the permanent seats of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence. Bannon has little to no expertise in this field, while the actors Trump is removing are among the most qualified in the nation, casting doubt upon Trump’s ability to maintain national security, despite all his claims.
February 4 A federal judge issues a nationwide restraining order on President Trump’s travel ban.
February 7 Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is confirmed by a single, tie-breaking vote. DeVos is poorly qualified and seeks to direct funding away from free, public education, which may harm Stuyvesant. It will have a larger impact on our transition into adulthood in that it may potentially decrease funding for CUNY, making it harder for us to pursue an affordable higher education. Without equal opportunities for all income brackets, it is difficult to see how Trump is creating a merit-based society.
February 8 Trump’s nominee for Attorney General Jeff Sessions is confirmed despite facing intense scrutiny over a career marked by prejudice and racism. Sessions’ confirmation continues Trump’s trend of normalizing bigotry and sexism, making many doubt if they still belong in this country.
February 9 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns Trump’s executive order barring immigration, stating that there is no evidence that the specified nations pose a threat to national security.
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Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigns due to allegations of close ties with the Russian government and withholding information from Vice President Mike Pence, showing the fragility and dishonesty of Trump’s administration.
Stuyvesant Speaks Out Assistant Principal of Guidance Casey Pedrick sent out an e-mail addressed to Stuyvesant’s student body on the Monday after Trump’s executive order. The e-mail, sent on behalf of the counseling department, was a reassurance to those who are worried about the effects the president’s actions may have on their safety and status in this country. Pedrick reminded students of Stuyvesant’s acceptance of diversity. “This building is your second home and I want you to feel you have a safe harbor as you walk through our doors each morning,” she said in the e-mail. She then listed existing resources within the school that are available for students and parents. Additionally, parent coordinator Dina Ingram made it clear that she would be available for families who needed either legal assistance or emotional support in the wake of this controversial decision. Director of College Counseling Jeffrey Makris also reached out to students and families in an e-mail in which he included links to accessible immigration-related legal services.
Activism After the Election In the next election cycle, it will become our responsibility to select a path for our nation to embark upon. But we should not wait: even as minors, we are affected directly by federal policies. Trump’s actions have the ability to shape our families, education, and legal rights; right now, we have the ability to influence our peers and communities. Opposing the Trump administration will require us to take Stuyvesant’s motto—“for knowledge and wisdom”—into our own hands. True education does not come from the federal government, but from our school and student body. Through political discussions in our school, we can raise awareness about the uniqueness of his actions, whether that be legalizing discrimination or violating constitutional rights, and the unique nature resistance will require. Trump’s policies were made with the intent to separate people and isolate groups. Instead, we can make the choice to preserve our unity by listening to, and not renouncing, the words of our peers. At Stuyvesant, many have merged their perspectives through protest aimed at opposing Trump’s actions and supporting marginalized groups. Though protesting the new administration may seem ineffective to some, it demonstrates political agency. Participating in protests may not immediately influence policy-makers, but it does encourage people to become politically involved. The problem is what happens after the march. More often than not students don’t follow up these street demonstrations by donating to civil rights groups or keeping the issues alive within extracurriculars and conversation. Outbursts of protest will not be enough. Those of us who are privileged enough to not directly be affected have the responsibility to not only remain informed, but also to aid those who are directly affected. Families are being divided, and their ability to remain in this country is being infringed upon; we cannot stand idly by.
When the Dust Settles: What Can We Do Next? Although many of us are privileged enough to not be directly affected, we all bear the responsibility not only to remain informed, but to aid those who are directly impacted. Families are being divided, and their ability to remain in this country is being infringed upon—we cannot stand idly by. Here are some steps you can take to make your opposition clear: Find your congressional district and representative at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ Use Change.org to find and support meaningful petitions Participate with “Call Them In,” a network that seeks to connect citizens with senators by providing you with scripts and numbers to help you gain the confidence to reach out. Donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has made a goal out of combatting Trump’s discriminatory policies Volunteer for organizations like Planned Parenthood or the Anti-Defamation League Start a conversation with a Trump supporter. Listen to their perspective, and establish yours. Boycott businesses owned by, or closely associated with, Donald Trump. The recent election has deepened political divides in our school and across the nation. We ought to make the decision to reach across the aisle and listen to, instead of renouncing, the opinions of our conservative or democratic peers. Divisions will only give the Trump administration more power, and it is time to resist.
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The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
By Michael Espinosa Every morning I visit mta. info to check if there are any delays that will impact my morning commute. Next to the train statuses are press releases covering the latest news from the MTA. One such release was touted as an accomplishment: “MTA Board Approves Lowest Fare Increases Since 2009”. Yet while the base fare remains at $2.75, the bonus when adding an amount above $5.50 has decreased from 11 to 5 percent. Weekly and Monthly unlimited MetroCards have also had their prices raised. My feelings about the MTA are ambivalent. On one hand, I’m forced to endure squeezing onto
crowded trains, working around the frequent delays, and getting on at a local station that quivers whenever the express train rolls by. Some might argue that I have no right to lodge such complaints. After all, the MTA provides me with free transportation to and from school on weekdays. While I’m grateful for my free MetroCard, I take the subway seven days a week in order to get to classes on Saturday and my internship on Sunday. On weekends, I have to jump through hoops of service changes, just like everyone else, and pay a fare that has been steadily increasing since 2009. The MTA might greet these hikes with fanfare, but they are the result of the dysfunctional transit system that calls New York City home. The source of this two-fold problem stems from the authority’s administration. The authority was created during the term of former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, meaning the MTA is a state agency. Board members are nominated by the governor (with input from local downstate leaders), and confirmed by the New York State Senate, and this is where the first problem lies. Top MTA officials are supposed to represent the interests of the downstate transit system but are chosen by a body that represents the entire state of New York. State senators who represent the most
northern and western regions of the state have a say in something they shouldn’t: downstate transportation. The same way San Francisco legislators should not tell Los Angeles how to run its transit system, representatives from Buffalo or Syracuse should not be selecting the board of the MTA. Of course, upstate elected officials would argue that they should have a say in the board selection process, because the State of New York allocates some of its budget for the MTA. From their point of view, it would be irresponsible to have only downstate officials make selections, because chosen board members could turn to the state and ask for massive amounts of funding, which could instead go toward other regions in the state. However, asking is all MTA board members can do. Ultimately, budget decisions are left to the state legislature, which can allot money to the MTA irrespective of the amount the authority requests. Should the MTA not receive all the money it asks for, it can issue its own debt (borrow money) to make up the difference. This is the second major problem of the agency. Since the authority can take out loans on its own, it has more freedom to engage in risky or expensive spending, such as the Second Avenue Subway. This new subway line is slated to run
Klaire Geller / The Spectator
Mika Simoncelli / The Spectator
along Manhattan’s Second Avenue from Hanover Street in the south, to 125th Street in the north. While the MTA is celebrating the completion of the first phase of the project, no official will be willing to tell you that this expansion is already $700 million over budget. Of course, the MTA isn’t only building a new subway line. It’s also renovating stations, repairing lasting damage done by Superstorm Sandy, and even experimenting with a high-tech replacement to the MetroCard where riders can tap a phone or bank card. This irresponsible doeverything-at-once approach is a direct result of the MTA’s ability to conduct finances independent of the state, and once the spending becomes out of control, passengers are stuck with the bill. The most obvious solution is
to place the MTA under the jurisdiction of its home: New York City. But that too, has several problems. Part of the reason the MTA is a state authority is because its subsidiaries include the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and MetroNorth. While the LIRR stays within the boundaries of the state, MetroNorth has stations in both New Jersey and Connecticut, and renegotiation contracts would be complicated and costly. Even a move to put the subway, bus, and Staten Island railway systems, which stay entirely within New York City, under the city’s control would face opposition from upstate officials who are content with the status quo. However, until serious reform is voted in (whether aforementioned or otherwise), riders have no choice but to suck it up and swipe.
Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free By Jane Rhee and Eliza Spinna More than 5,500 miles of land and water separated our ancestors in Poggiomarino, Italy and Yongdong, South Korea. They spoke different languages, ate different foods, danced different dances, and prayed different prayers, but both families eventually came to the United States as immigrants. Living in a country of open doors, they raised their families, teaching them their own traditions while also absorbing American customs. And their families grew and flourished until their grandchildren ended up sitting next to each other in a high school journalism class in New York City, surrounded by children of other immigrants. Our status as immigrants or children of immigrants shapes not only our cultural and familial dynamics, but also the way we interact with each other. Our families had to enter an unfamiliar land with nothing but the shoes on their feet and the fire in their hearts to work their way up, teaching us not only the value of hard work but also acceptance. If the U.S. hadn’t accepted our ancestors into its borders, none of us would be here today. However, it seems the current government does not understand the value of acceptance. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday, January 27, that barred all Syrian refugees from entering the United States, brought to a halt all refugee admissions for 120 days, and stopped citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries (specifically Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) from entering the United States for 90 days. Already, green card holders have been held at airports in the countries affected. To students who understand the immigrant experience in this country firsthand, Trump’s ex-
ecutive order and what it stands for is intolerable. Its logic is primitive: it’s supposed to prevent terrorists from entering the United States. However, The New York Times found that the plan is highly unlikely to reduce any significant threat of terrorist attack. According to Charles Kurzman, a University of North Carolina sociology professor, no one has been killed in the United States in a terrorist attack by anyone who emigrated or whose parents emigrated from the seven countries listed in the visa ban since the September 11, 2001 attack. Conversely, The New York Times found that the order omitted countries whose people are historically known to pose a threat. It excluded Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups originated. 15 of the 19 perpetrators of the September 11 attacks were citizens of Saudi Arabia, for example. It’s also crucial to note that despite the Trump administration treating the executive order as a reasonable step to reforming the vetting process for refugees, the current screening process is already extremely thorough. A person must first meet the basic definition of a refugee: they must be fleeing a country because of “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Haeyoun Park and Larry Buchanan of The New York Times reported that they must then register, be interviewed, and get official refugee status with the United Nations, be referred for resettlement, have an interview with State Department contractors, get background checked, have an interview with Homeland Security officers, be screened for diseases, attend a class in cultural orientation, and then go through multiple security checks once they get into the country. It’s not guaranteed that refu-
gees will even get the chance to go through this process, since only the ones considered the most vulnerable get referred. The rest often spend years waiting in refugee camps. Some of the largest camps hold nearly two million people, yet only around 30,000 refugees have been admitted into the U.S. from October 1, 2016 to now. Obama’s goal was to admit 110,000 in the 2017 fiscal year. But Trump’s order halves the number of refugees allowed into the country, effectively closing physical borders and ridding the U.S. of the rep-
(including “honor” killings [and] violence against women) and shortly afterwards lists Muslimmajority nations where such cruel people are supposedly coming from. This rhetoric is at best offensive and untrue, and at worst able to spark resentment and brutality against American Muslims. Similarly, Trump’s implication that Christian refugees will be prioritized over Muslims is abhorrent and not at all true to Christian value; the Pope is a strong advocate for the protection of refugees. We are currently in the midst
process rights as well as U.S. immigration statutes.” U.S. District Judge James Robart imposed a national hold on Trump’s executive order on February 3, which Trump is threatening to overturn. As Stuyvesant students, it may seem like there is nothing we can do to alleviate the distress this will no doubt cause to some of our peers. And while we cannot alone change Trump’s decision, there are small things we can do to preserve the wellbeing of our fellow students. First, now is the time to listen.
First, now is the time to listen. Those who are not directly impacted by the ban should make an effort to hear and understand the feelings and fears of those who are. utation as a country where one can create a new life. The immigration ban is often referred to as the Muslim Ban for this reason, but such a ban is unconstitutional. President Trump cites the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows the president to “suspend entry...of any class of aliens” that he alone deems to be unsafe and against the best interest of the country. However, he conveniently forgets that three years later, Congress restricted this act by adding that no person could be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence” to protect immigrants and their families. But regardless of the goal of the executive order, we will all feel its results. In the executive order, Trump implies that Islam is an inherently violent religion: he notes that “the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred
of a global refugee crisis, with about 64 million displaced persons worldwide. Syria contributes the most to this number by far. Now is precisely the time to be taking in refugees, especially since they place a huge strain on the already struggling governments of Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran, pushing them towards collapse, where they would become breeding grounds for even more terrorism. Luckily, there are groups working to fight the executive order, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqi men, one of which is Hameed Darweesh, who worked as a translator for the U.S. military and put his life in danger. He was detained at JFK Airport in New York by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and threatened with deportation. The ACLU states that his detention “based solely on the executive order violates their Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due
Those who are not directly impacted by the ban should make an effort to hear and understand the feelings and fears of those who are. Just being there to listen to and comfort someone can make the coming ordeal slightly less traumatic for them. Anonymity at this time is really important, so these worries should not be publicized with the person’s name attached. Second, we must stay politically active. Joining protests and writing articles are ways to get involved in the resistance against this policy. If you can, donate to the ACLU or any organization that works to protect refugees worldwide (the International Rescue Committee is one of many). Take just a half hour on a Saturday to make a call to a senator, congressperson, or other elected official to tell them that this is not what we stand for and should be fought in any way. Do not let Trump get away with this.
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Opinions Point-Counterpoint: Protests The Fine Line Between Valuing Activism Over Apathy Protest and Pandemonium
Stephanie Chan / The Spectator
to violence as a means of getting their point across. Critics argue that such protests undermine the legitimacy of their causes with their callous disregard of individuals harmed. These are the same people who denounce violent acts, such as punching white supremacist Richard Spencer. But this argument overlooks several reasons to support violent protests. Overwhelming evidence indicates violent protest has been historically effective. The protests of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and ‘60s were coupled with violence that underscored the power of the protesters. The 1967 Detroit Riot was one of the deadliest riots of American history, but also a success for peace advocates; following the riot, government departments began recruitment drives for people of color, while Congress voted on legislation for fair housing, one of the By Raniyan Zaman protesters’ key concerns. In 1970, the Kent State riots arose in criticism of America’s A sea of pink hats engulfed the streets expansion of the Vietnam War into Camof Washington D.C. as the protesters gath- bodia. Following firebombing, President ered on January 21. Signs read, “Women’s Nixon withdrew troops from Cambodia. Rights are Human Rights,” “Nasty Wom- In the early 1990s, the Mount Pleasant poan,” and “Refugees Are Welcome Here.” lice force and LAPD hired more minorities Some targeted Donald Trump’s cabinet after high-profile riots. picks, proclaiming “Ikea has better cabiClearly, violent protests have been nets.” As the march became a movement successful. However, some argue that the present in 60 countries and the largest end doesn’t justify the means, and that protest in U.S. history, an image of a Mus- oppression doesn’t legitimize retaliating lim woman wearing the American flag as in a comparable way. They fail to grasp a hijab became popular. that protesters turn to violent means be Nearly five million people partic- cause they feel that they are the only effecipated worldwide in the Women’s March, tive way to reach their aims. People don’t which championed feminism, the rights spontaneously loot stores and vandalof immigrants, and the LGBTQ commu- ize cars. They do so if they feel that their nity, and called for an end to Islamopho- movement isn’t taken seriously when it bia and climate change denial. The mul- restricts itself to nonviolence, and radicaltifaceted nature of the movement incited izing their methods is their only remaincriticism for not having a clear, singular ing tool for preventing the stagnation of message, but if anything, the diversity of their cause’s progress. Moreover, violent the marchers and their signs and slogans protest can engender camaraderie, since represented the global and national diver- it is often the reaction of a group of people sity they were pushing to extend into pub- who feel directly threatened by an institulic policy. David Brooks of the New York tion and thus revolt together. Times denounced the march’s focus on But enough about violence: focusidentity politics, arguing that long-lasting ing on the violent actions of prochange must take root within party testers, something that the politics rather than coalitions. media and opponents of In reality, protests serve protests often do, only as a source of empowerment and draws out the very inspiration for the protesters violence they conand those who the protesters demn. Rather than are advocating for; motharguing about ers brought their daughters whether violence (and sons) to the Women’s is justified, or March to spark hope for a worse, respondworld where gender equality ing to violent is a reality. To write off a proprotesters with test as a product of identity an unwillpolitics, which is often misingness construed as a divisive force, to comdoes not credit it as a show of promise, solidarity. Identity politics celwe should ebrates inclusion by seeing seek to differences; the Women’s end the isMarch inspired women sues that Vivian Lin / The Spectator of all backgrounds to rally drive people around shared experiences. to violence in the first place, whether they But protests have a social and legal are racial, such as in the case of the Black impact, too. No one expects a protest to be Lives Matter (BLM) movement, or rooted the only step necessary to reach a group’s in other socio-economic imbalances. aims. Rather, a protest is a springboard Either way, as soon as part of a protest for more aggressive social action: more becomes violent, the focus shifts from phone calls to senators, letters, petitions, the larger, nonviolent bulk of the proinvolvement in local and community test and the violence is overdramatized. causes, and lobbying of politicians. BLM’s critics utilize its violence as a tool The Tea Party movement is an example for undermining BLM’s cause. It’s too of going beyond mere protests in order to easy to condemn a group for the violence coagulate into a powerful opposition of they commit without acknowledging that liberal aims and the Democratic agenda. addressing the frustrations that lead to On the surface, their protests were simi- such violence would curb it. This applies lar to their liberal counterparts; they also to individuals, too; the attack on Richmarched on Washington and protested ard Spencer shouldn’t be seen as solely on important dates, notably Indepen- a physical assault, but a denunciation of dence Day. While I don’t agree with what white supremacy. Riot violence is a warnthey sought to promote, their tactics were ing from protesters that it’s high time their certainly effective; they strategically pres- demands be met, and this makes violent sured politicians into supporting their protest valuable in a political system that platform and were successful with fund- delays acting on pressing issues. raising. If the attendees of the Women’s This atmosphere of frequent protests March are able to preserve the unity they is a beacon of hope in a turbulent time and displayed and apply it to building a net- signifies a renewal of political activism. I work that can sway politicians and har- myself wasn’t able to attend the Women’s ness community efforts, their movement March. But you can bet I’ll be there for the can sustain momentum. next one. Oftentimes, however, protesters turn
By Mia Gindis and Mehrunissa Malick
The American dream has perpetually been fueled by an unabashed willingness to protest. Voicing dissent is arguably not just a right, but a duty we hold as citizens. Demonstrations throughout history such as the March on Washington of 1963 and the Women’s Suffrage Parade of 1913 opened the eyes of the public, opposed immoral legislature, and inspired major political change. Unfortunately, the way America’s activists once challenged oppression seems to have evolved into a fun outing for the predominantly upper middle class. Considering the recent trend of misguided and violent protests, the modern-day demonstration is in dire need of an overhaul. Unsurprisingly, the inauguration of President Trump has sparked massive retaliation from voters who backed his opposition. While the disdain of those who cast a losing ballot rings crystal clear on homemade picket signs and unifying chants, the actual changes they want made remain blurred. While renouncing substandard policies and social ideals is a crucial first step, political activist Buckminster Fuller poses an interesting philosophy: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” On top of lacking a clear overarching agenda, however, many protesters are often unwilling or unclear on how to advance their cause. According to NY Daily News, almost 60 percent of the attendees at Portland’s protests never cast a vote, and half weren’t even registered in Oregon. With 42 percent of the nation’s voting-eligible population failed to cast a ballot on November 7th, statistics are widely indicative of a lack of national engagement in the time when it’s most appropriate. This isn’t to say one must be exceptionally politically active in order to participate, but simply that such demonstrations must be purposeful; an expenditure of time and energy would be better used inciting change rather than just calling for it. Moreover, modern protests often vaunt a sense of exclusivity which isolates anyone who doesn’t adhere to a narrow set of beliefs. The recent Women’s March allegedly advocated for all women’s rights and social equality, yet attendees turned their backs to pro-life feminists. According to Vox, Women’s March organizers refused to partner with any pro-life organizations, and a few pro-life protesters were even harassed.
According to Gallop, the event woefully misrepresented, and even excluded, the 46 percent of American women who consider themselves pro-life, as well as certain religious/immigrant groups of women to whom the right to an abortion is essentially unsolicited—a far cry from the tolerance being preached. Additionally, activists often seem to forget that in order for a protest to incite change, it must be held in high esteem. When protesters resort to violence, their message is trampled by the chaos created. One infamous example of this was after Trump’s inauguration, when 217 protesters, many of which were armed and were vandalizing property, were arrested. The most jarring effect of this conflict was how it was covered by the media; rather than being focused on the hundreds of people that had come together to protest the new president, journalists emphasized that the protest had snowballed into a riot. While this is partially the fault of the media itself, when protests become aggressive it is natural for it to become the focus of the public. And the view of the public matters: when people allow protests to be characterized by violence, they appear to not be educated or civilized enough to have a purpose which deserves actual recognition. One instance in which this could be seen is the Black Lives Matter movement. This campaign for equality was a very justified one and strived to better and strengthen the American community. However, when passionate activists get carried away and turn to violence, their message becomes delegitimized and they are put under scrutiny. In fact, if the violence is ceased, legislators and the public are more likely to be moved by the devoted activists and the purpose they’re fighting for. In a recent Ted Talk, Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist, presented data proving that nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful, and are more likely to achieve goals than violent ones. It’s clear that American activists have become fixated on the glorified image of a protest in lieu of actually trying to better their society. Abraham Lincoln preached, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” His remarks still ring true; America’s future holds uncertainty in a very similar way that it did in the 19th century. As of now, the strength of the American people is being tested. Consequently, we need to focus on peacefully and civilly working to unify and advance our democracy rather than undermine it.
Vivian Lin / The Spectator
The Spectator ● February 17 , 2017
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The “Anti-Vax” Movement
By Anta Noor Medical improvements have improved public health throughout the last century. Vaccines in particular are partly responsible for decreasing mortality rates and occurrences of diseases such as polio or meningitis C. According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, the meningitis C vaccine decreased cases of meningitis in people under 20 by 99 percent. In the very recent epidemic of the ebola virus, particularly in West Africa, the vaccine provided 100 percent protection. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines have an “excellent safety record” and are able to provide herd immunity, which is when an overwhelming majority of a population is vaccinated against a disease, so it’s
not unlikely for it to spread even if some people in the community (such as pregnant women or people with threatening conditions) aren’t able to be vaccinated. WHO data shows a clear correlation between vaccines and mortality rates, yet some people still have a problem with them. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website, a study done in 2016 on school immunization rates shows that 18 states in the U.S. allow parents to exempt their children from vaccines based on their personal beliefs. 29 states allow parents to exempt their children if there’s a religious conflict, including NY. Only three states, Mississippi, West Virginia, and recently California require vaccinations for everyone, without exception. However, Mississippi is starting to think about making their laws less strict. Just a little over a decade ago, measles was eradicated in the U.S. However, in the spring of 2015 the first death caused by measles in the last ten years in the U.S. was reported. According to CNN, 23 percent out of the 77 percent of parents who have not vaccinated their children said it’s because they do not trust the medical community compared to the 5 percent out of the 95 percent of people who vaccinate their children and do not trust the medical community. The number of parents immunizing their children has decreased due to lack of trust for the medical
community. This small but growing vocal minority that opposes the use of vaccines are proponents of the “Anti-Vax” movement. The position that vaccines could be harmful first gained credence when a gastroenterologist, Andrew Wakefield, published a study in a highly-esteemed medical journal, The Lancet, that showed a correlation between the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine and autism. The study was later shown to have been heavily falsified and Wakefield even had his medical license revoked, but his ideas continued to spread. Despite the wealth of evidence in contrast with Wakefield’s supposed findings, vaccination rates in developed countries began to drop. Media attention also plays a factor in the decrease of vaccination rates. Many celebrities believe vaccines are harmful, one of them being Jenny McCarthy, who, according to The NY Post, has “made it her mission to connect autism with childhood vaccinations,” saying that because of vaccinations her son now has autism. Another celebrity is political commentator Bill Maher, who once tweeted, “If u get a swine flu shot, ur an idiot.” He questioned his audience on his show “Real Time with Bill Maher” on why they would want doctors to “stick a disease into their arm” and then ended it by saying that he doesn’t trust the government with his health.
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When you have parents who only want the best for their children and they see and hear all these frightening stories about vaccines, which they then assume to be harmful, it is natural that they begin to give in to the influence of friends and media. Even President Trump is suspicious of vaccines.When anti-vaccinationists start to get a voice and influence, vaccination rates will start to drop and could possibly lead to the revival of deadly diseases and potential deaths of many young children. As epidemiologist David Fisman says, “He [Trump] bears the responsibility for outbreaks and epidemics that occur as a result of these signals, because he’s in a leadership position.” Even though vaccine rates haven’t dropped much yet, enough momentum could cause a drastic drop very soon. If vaccine rates do start to drop drastically, then herd immunity will be threatened. According to National Geographic News, in 1991, a measles outbreak in Philadelphia spread to 1500 people, killing nine, because 350 students in two separate private schools had not been immunized against the disease. Vaccination rates dropped in that area, causing herd immunity to drop, therefore making it easier for people to get measles. A more recent measles outbreak occurred in California in 2014. According to The LA Times, 131 residents of California were in-
fected with measles, along with 26 people from several other states, Canada, and Mexico who came to visit the park. The reason for this was again a decrease in vaccination rates since 7 out of 10 people who contracted measles during the outbreak were not vaccinated. It goes to show how severely herd immunity is threatened if vaccination rates drop. Thus, personal opposition to vaccines must be outweighed by a greater public responsibility when parents consider whether to vaccinate their children. Since herd immunity is so vital in keeping a community safe, doctors should enforce vaccinations even if the parent(s) don’t agree. If adults choose to smoke then not only are they putting themselves at risk of getting lung cancer, but also others close to them because of secondhand smoke. It’s the same concept with vaccines. Parents should understand that, by not vaccinating themselves or their children, they are hurting themselves and their children, and potentially the whole community, if vaccination rates drop. The only way to get the rates up is to stop the problem at its root and to do that, we have to begin by educating parents on vaccines. Doctors should tell them exactly why vaccines must be given and how the needs of the community outweigh the needs of the individual.
The Spectator â—? February 17, 2017
Art Caption Contest Each issue, we provide an ambiguous cartoon or image in need of a caption. You, the reader, can submit your caption to www.tinyurl.com/SpecArtCaption. We choose two finalists and their captions will appear in the following issue along with its respective image.
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The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
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The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Video Game By Tiffany Chen Nintendo finally went into the mobile gaming industry with their popular franchise, “Mario,” and it does not disappoint. “Super Mario Run,” an app for iOS released in December 2016, is a cute, fun, and accessible game for all players. It’s Nintendo’s first “Mario” game on a non-Nintendo console, making for a unique experience. The “Mario” franchise is wellknown for its storyline: Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom, populated with mushroomlike humanoid characters called Toads, gets kidnapped by Bowser, and Mario has to run across different worlds to save her. Along the way, he encounters enemies such as Goombas, brown mushroom-like creatures, and Koopas, turtles with green or red shells. At the end, he fights Bowser and wins Peach’s freedom and heart. The game does not diverge too much from this trope, but it does make notable changes. “Super Mario Run’s” gimmick is that the game runs for you, unlike other games where the player is allowed to explore the level by running wherever they want. Instead, the only way you can control the character is by jumping. This makes the game easy to play with one hand, but it also creates a challenge: you can’t go back if you miss a mushroom or pink coin. The emphasis on jumping forces the player to learn different tricks for jumping. The tricks are easy to learn, but hard to perfect, and are essential for mastering the game. The nuances to jumping are especially important in the main modes of “Super Mario Run”: World Tour and Toad Rally. World Tour, most similar to
Film By Thomas Chen Americans love two things: reality TV and talking animals. “Sing” combines the two to form a charming film about the production of a singing competition, hosted by the peppy and slightly immoral koala with big dreams of saving his theater, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey). The promised prize money of $100,000 attracts competitors from all over town. However, problems arise as Buster attempts to find a way to gain the money in time, and hilarity and chaos ensue. “Sing” is an animated musical comedy produced by Illumination Entertainment, the same company that produced “Despicable Me” and “The Secret Life of Pets,” written and directed by Garth Jennings and co-directed by Christophe Lourdelet. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song, and won a Hollywood Music in Media Award for Outstanding Music Supervision - Film. Despite a slow beginning and a predictable ending due to the film being geared towards
Super Mario Runs Its Way to The App Store the adventure gameplay found in “Mario” games, is addictive for its colorful coins. Getting all of the coins is a challenge of time and persistence, and this is the thing that repeatedly brought me back to World Tour. Toad Rally, on the other hand, makes “Super Mario Run” a battle against a friend for coins and who can get the most Toads cheering for them. This competitive spin of “Super Mario” pits the player against a ghost run of someone on World Tour, and Toad Rally gets harder as the player progresses through World Tour. Collecting multicolored Toads, which unlocks different decorations for your Toad kingdom, is the most fun component of the app, and designing the Toad kingdom makes the app a unique experience for each person. Plus, seeing adorable Toads of different colors run around a pipe or sit on a roof is entertaining and heartwarming. Despite these addicting qualities, the game felt lackluster for me. First, there are notable flaws: World Tour, once all of the special coins are collected, becomes useless to play, and Toad Rally can be incredibly repetitive, as the player must repeat the same seven levels just to garner more Toads in his or her kingdom. There are minor changes to the game that make it easier, but
this is a deterrent for veterans in “Mario” games. Additions such as Mario automatically jumping over Goombas instead of being killed b y
Emily Lee / The Spectator
them and Mario being saved by a bubble when falling to his demise made the game easy to de-
feat, and I did so in a couple of hours. In addition, the game got rid of staples of the “Mario” franchise, such as some power-ups and boss battles. “Super Mario Run” also has six different characters to unlock, and all of them have different features. Toad and Toadette, characters of the Toad species, run faster than Mario; Luigi jumps the highest out of all of the characters, and Peach and Yoshi have a glide and flutter, respectively, which keep them in the air for a longer time. However, not all of them can use the mushroom power-up, which makes some characters, like Mario and Luigi, more usable than others. This deters users from using their favorite characters (I never use my favorite, Peach, in “Super Mario Run”), which can further discourage seasoned players from coming back to the game. Still, with flawless animation, the game is able to make the most out of the mobile platform. While the game functions on Mario running from the left of the screen to the right, it does its best to change this up. This is most notable with the haunted house levels that feel more similar to a maze than a 2-dimensional run-and-jump level, packed with different doors that can warp you back to the be-
ginning and an ominous ghost named “Boo” following you. Vibrant colors and characters bring the game to life, only adding to the positive experience the game has to offer. Plus, the main characters all have specific phrases and voices, personifying them and enhancing their likeability. With strong animation and graphics, the game is a solid template to build off of for other Nintendo franchises, such as “The Legend of Zelda.” The game even paves the way for other games in the “Mario” franchise similar to those in the “Mario Kart” and “Mario Party” series, which are known for their multiplayer functionalities. This is important for Nintendo, who has been losing money lately with the flop of the Wii U, a home video game console Nintendo released in 2012. The success of “Super Mario Run” is important for Nintendo to break out of their niche of gaming consoles such as the portable DS and the outgrown Wii into the mobile game market, which can be more profitable in this age of iPhones and Androids. “Super Mario Run” is a standout game for gamers looking for a relaxing app to play from time to time. It’s well-programmed with addicting qualities, but with the $10.00 price tag on it to unlock all of its features, the true question is if the app is worth the money. For those who like to play leisurely rather than blitz through a game, it is. Hopefully, as time goes on, Nintendo will update the app with new worlds, powerups, and characters to play with, as “Super Mario Run” is a lovable app with addictive features that brings players back again and again.
An Important Message Belted in “Sing”
children, “Sing” remains a lighthearted and entertaining movie. The film manages to dazzle and entertain viewers with comical supporting characters, such as a stereotypical female J-pop band made up of five red pandas, and bright, colorful visuals, especially during the scene featuring luminescent squids
neglected stay-at-home pig with many children, Ash (Scarlett Johannson), a passionate porcupine who especially enjoys rock music, Johnny (Taron Egerton), the son of a gorilla gangster, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), an overly arrogant mouse, Gunter (Nick Kroll), a cheerful and flamboyant
one could identify with. From Scarlett Johannson and Beck Bennett’s original and catchy rock song, “I Don’t Wanna,” to Reese Witherspoon and Nick Kroll’s amusing cover of the funky ‘80s hit “Venus” or Tori Kelly’s touching rendition of the soulful “Hallelujah,” “Sing” had me singing along from start to end. But what
Emily Lee / The Spectator
changing color and dancing. And, unusual for an Illumination movie, the number of fart jokes made is, thankfully, limited to one. The movie also features a cast filled with A-list actors and famous singers. The competitors of Buster’s singing contest include Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a
pig, and Meena (Tori Kelly), an introverted elephant. This starstudded cast is easily recognizable with their powerful vocals and voice acting skills distinguishable throughout the film. In addition, “Sing” has a soundtrack filled with a diverse selection of popular songs any-
makes this film truly stand out is its relatable characters, each of whom have their own flaws. Viewers may find ruder characters such as Mike more sympathetic after they face their problems or they may identify with Rosita, who feels unappreciated and burdened by her family,
Ash, whose boyfriend constantly belittles her, or Meena, whose introvertedness and lack of selfconfidence prevent her from doing what she loves. Johnny seems to be one of the most realistic characters, as his father pressures him into following his footsteps and becoming the leader of their gang, despite Johnny’s reluctance. Instead, he wishes to become a singer living a proper, clean life. He constantly struggles between making his father proud and following his dreams, but ultimately decides that he should do what he wants rather than let his life be dictated by someone else. Through their character arcs, the cast members of “Sing” teach their viewers to become independent and pursue their dreams because anyone can become successful, no matter his or her background or appearance. And this lesson may particularly resonate with Stuyvesant students, many of whom have figures in their lives who discourage individuality and big dreams in favor of more realistic goals with higher chances of success. Like Johnny, we should remember that we are in charge of our lives, and we should be able to choose our own futures. And with a sequel planned to be released on December 25, 2020, “Sing,” though simple in concept, will hopefully continue to both amuse and teach viewers deeper lessons.
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Arts and Entertainment A Somewhat Unfortunate Series
Television By Shaikh Z. Mahsheeat
Christine Jegarl / The Spectator
With the outpouring abundance of new and enticing shows and movies on Netflix comes an option for the dark-humored. “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a Netflix original, was released tim-
ingly on Friday, January 13. The show, based on a children’s book series by Lemony Snicket, follows the adventures of newly orphaned Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire in their search for a suitable guardian and escape from their fortune-hungry “uncle,” Count Olaf. The show is star-studded with Neil Patrick Harris, from “How I Met Your Mother,” and Patrick Warburton, from “Ted.” But does the series itself live up to expectations? Yes and no. Let’s break this down into some of the different elements of the show: the writing, the cinematography, and the acting. Typically, when a cinematic production is made based on a book, the challenge is to go beyond the story without disregarding what has been written. This is nearly impossible and thus can go either of two ways: sticking to the book completely or creating an entirely new story. In this situation, the Netflix rendition of Snicket’s books did not escape his
lines of shadowy satire. However, due to the quality of the filmmaking, neither did it bore the audience. One interesting development in the show is how each book is turned into two episodes instead of one. The first episode of each duo presents the problem of each new scenario and ends at the climax, whereas the second episode resolves the problem and provides a segue into the next scenario. The lengthening of the plot into two episodes builds suspense in the show and allows more room for detail rather than each book being a single episode. The cinematography is one of the most crucial and impressive factors in the production of this show. It is crucial because of its necessity to preserve the gloomy precedent for the absurdity, and it’s impressive because of how the execution adds another layer to the show. First and foremost, the color palette is absolutely breathtaking. The different colors used in each setting truly capture the essence of the scene. The story’s gothic premise is portrayed in the Victorian style of the mansions, households, libraries, and streetcars. However, the depth of the cinematography comes with the layers of various aesthetics added to this foundation, from the pal-
lid and lifeless sand and skies of Briny Beach to the vivid emeralds of Montgomery Montgomery’s reptile room. The costumes are largely neo-Victorian (strange twists on classic Victorian style). Though this style does not fit into any particular time period, it remains consistent throughout the show and contributes to its gothic essence, further enhancing the color palette with dark browns and off-whites. Like much of the classic work of Wes Anderson, the use of motion also contributes to the quality of the cinematography. For example, a still shot with a single moving figure is frequently used. The most common example of such would be the narrator, Lemony Snicket, walking through the scenes of the story as all the other characters remain still. The books are known for their absurd and ironic humor and, to some extent, so is the show. This can be attributed largely to the performances of the actors, particularly Neil Patrick Harris, K. Todd Freeman, and Patrick Warburton. Harris establishes the mood before the show has even begun in his ridiculous rendition in the opening credits. His portance of Count Olaf exhibits ineptitude yet perseverance of villainy, transforming the character into some type of gothic Dr.
Doofenshmirtz. Harris’s faulty, dark Count Olaf is balanced out by recurring characters on the show by K. Todd Freeman’s Mr. Poe. Poe is a banker at Mulctuary Money Management and is in charge of the fortune and guardianship of the orphans. Though he is a good-natured man, his oblivion to Count Olaf’s various disguises and inability to identify appropriate homes for the children after their parents’ death shows his ineptitude as an adult. This incompetence is only highlighted with the superior intellect of the children, creating ironic comedy. Though the characterizations of the children support the comic darkness, the actors themselves aren’t a good fit. Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes, despite being very convincing, are far too serious for the purpose of gallows humor and would be better suited for a more dramatic production. Not much can be said of Presley Smith, who plays Sunny Baudelaire, but the subtitles for her baby talk add another layer of comedy. Overall, the show makes a valiant effort to keep the ridiculous amusement that the books are known for. Although the mood is somewhat lost in the casting of some of the actors, it’s a good watch and a great binge.
The Last Oscar (of the Ceremony) By Sunny Zhao Thousands of people will gather at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, February 26 to celebrate last year’s achievements in the film industry. As the premier awards ceremony for cinematic excellence in the United States, the Oscars will showcase the creativity and hard work of actors, directors, producers, and many others who dedicate their lives to film. For the coveted Academy Award for Best Picture, the nominees include “La La Land,” “Arrival,” “Lion,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea,” and “Fences.” Welcome to the 89th Academy Awards, where musical dramas like “La La Land” or sci-fi movies like “Arrival” are all represented and honored.
Directed by Damien Chazelle, “La La Land” has received 14 nominations at this year’s Academy Awards, tying it with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most nominations for a single film. It stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a tale of love between two struggling artists. Gosling plays a down-in-the-dumps musician who longs to pursue his passion for jazz and Stone plays an aspiring actress who’s trying to make it big. They meet and their stories intertwine in a dramatic and music-filled tale set in Los Angeles.
Based on Ted Chiang’s short story, “Story of Your Life,” “Arrival” was directed by Denis Villeneuve and has eight Oscar nominations. Starring Amy Adams as a linguist, extraterrestrial spacecrafts begin appearing across the Earth, and she is recruited by the U.S. military to help decipher the alien language. An international coalition is formed to work together and uncover the aliens’ secrets. Unsure of whether the aliens’ intentions are hostile or friendly, Adams races against time to determine their true purpose before the planet descends into a chaotic global war.
“Lion,” Garth Davis’ directorial debut, has received six Academy Award nominations. It is based on the true story, “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley. Dev Patel plays Saroo, who is separated from his family and village as a young boy, with no knowledge of how to return. As an adult, his long and almost hopeless search for his biological mother and the family he never got to grow up with creates a deeply moving story.
Hell or High Water
“Hell or High Water” was directed by David Mackenzie and has received four Oscar nominations. It stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two brothers who are grieving after their mother’s death. They learn that the bank wants to foreclose on their family ranch because of a bad loan. Determined to secure their family’s future, the brothers begin robbing branches of the bank to raise enough money to pay off the debt. However, two Texas Rangers, played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, become intent on catching the brothers. In a constant struggle between the Rangers and the bank, Pine and Foster fight to save their family.
Based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, “Hidden Figures” was directed by Theodore Melfi and has been nominated for three Academy Awards. It stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians at NASA. They are amongst the few African American women working in the national space program. The film follows their struggle against rampant industry inequality to prove that they are more than capable of making NASA successful.
Directed by Barry Jenkins and based on the play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, “Moonlight” has received eight Oscar nominations. It follows the story of Chiron, from his abusive childhood to troubled adulthood. As a shy and withdrawn child, Chiron is constantly bullied and is only able to find solace in the crack dealer Juan, who becomes a mentor to him, and his classmate Kevin, who becomes Chiron’s closest friend. “Moonlight” shows the story of how Chiron learns from his companions and eventually makes his own path in life.
“Hacksaw Ridge” was directed by Mel Gibson and has six Academy Award nominations. It stars Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss, an American combat medic during World War II. The film retells the true tale of Doss, a Christian pacifist who refused to carry or use a weapon during the war, subsequently facing ridicule and attacks from his fellow soldiers who believe he’s a coward. “Hacksaw Ridge” epically displays how against all odds, Doss continues to live by his beliefs and saves the lives of those who are injured on the battlefield.
Manchester by the Sea
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan and nominated six times, “Manchester by the Sea” stars Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler and Lucas Hedges as Patrick Chandler. Lee solemnly returns to his hometown after his brother, Joe, dies of a heart attack. He is surprised to discover that he is now the legal guardian of Patrick, Joe’s son. However, Lee is plagued by the horrible memories that had originally driven him away from his hometown. As he struggles against these memories, Lee begins to reconnect with his nephew, Patrick, to become a family again.
Based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning play of the same name, “Fences” was directed by Denzel Washington. It has four Academy Award nominations. Washington plays Troy Maxson, a waste collector in 1950s Pittsburgh who begins to see his family life unravel before him as he alienates his son and wife. Despite struggling to keep his family together, Maxson continues to erect more personal barriers and is forced to face the consequences of his actions. Nikita Borisov/ The Spectator
LA LA LAND
This year’s nominees for Best Picture feature incredibly diverse casts and stories. Four of the nominees possess a predominant minority focus, showing Hollywood’s growth from the past. Their stories also feature many themes, from drama to action. Millions of people around the globe will watch and hope with all their hearts for their favorite movie to win that final Oscar. We will all be waiting for that moment when the winner is finally announced; the audience grows quiet, “And the Oscar goes to…”
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.
Stuyvesant Dictionary: Defining a New Dialect By Angelique Charles-Davis and Benedict Ho The everyday linguistics of Stuyvesant High School have branched into an entirely new sect of language, with mutual comprehensibility unlike that of Shakespeare. Phrases such as “Gang gang, I straight up copped a 52,” “Deadass what an L,” and “Smh hmu with those notes you scholar pass ‘em by 2 a.m. yeet” fascinate linguists as a result of their sheer linguistic complexity. To better understand this new dialect, we have compiled a dictionary for the Stuyvesant outsider, on the off chance that someone would find a Stuyvesant student mildly interesting. 1) Snake: A backstabbing snitch. The student who tells the teacher, “They told me they would be cutting.” 2) It be like that sometimes: An idiomatic phrase that is intended to comfort students who have found themselves in an unfortunate situation. This student got above a 95 in all graded classes but failed the pass or fail class. It be like that sometimes.
6) We get it, you’re in calculus: Used to show respect to overachieving AP Calculus students.
“Did you see how that guy friended two girls on Facebook?” “What a mackgod!”
“What’s 1 + 1?” “2.” “Stop! We get it, you’re in calculus.”
11) Yeet: An exclamation used to describe extreme satisfaction.
7) Cash me ousside howbow dah: A new and improved version of what was formerly “Battery after 10th.”
3) Fail: Anything below a 90.
“I got a 1580 on my SAT—bet you got lower.” “I got a 1590; cash me ousside howbow dah?”
“I failed my Spanish final.” “You need to chill; you got an 89.”
8) Finesse: When you have perfected the art of BS-ing.
4) L: A loss, so basically everything.
I finessed my 17 essays and my French project on the train ride this morning.
The L train has no service to Manhattan—what an L. 5) Scholar: An irritating student who says anything remotely intelligent or is seen doing anything intellectually stimulating throughout the day. “Yo, what are you doing?” “I’m doing this Buzzfeed quiz about what brand of yogurt I should eat.” “Woah, you’re a scholar!”
9) Deadass: An adjective to describe seriousness in a situation. When used in a phrase with fail, it means a grade below a 65. “I failed my math final.” “Are you deadass?” “I’m being deadass.” 10) Mackgod: A sign of reverence to anyone seen engaging with the opposite sex.
“My math teacher curved me up 93 points to a 94. YEET!” 12) Whose mans: A way to honorably discharge a student when they disgrace themselves. A loud fart permeated through the entire 10th floor. Whose mans? 13) Shook: An adjective used to describe when you learn something completely new. “Alright class, today I’ll be explaining the mechanics of a bedroom. If you get a bigger bed, you have more bed room but less bedroom.” “I’m so shook!” 14) Flex: To parade around the two digits that commemorate your scholarly success. Four students flex their biceps, but no one notices. The last student pushes back his glasses and says, “Hey girls, I have a 97 GPA.” Two girls faint. Flex successful.
Trump’s Brain Analysis By Marie Ivantechenko and Alexandra Wen Many are baffled in light of the Trump administration’s actions over the last month. Not even the most skilled psychologists can truly identify Trump’s characteristics. Is he chaotic good? Chaotic evil? Or maybe just chaotic? People are still concerned that Trump is simply not fit to be a politician, let alone the president. In response to this outcry, scientists have taken it upon themselves to scan and analyze Trump’s brain in search of an explanation for his poor judgment. Although it appears to function normally, most of Trump’s brain activity seemed to be focused near the temporal lobe, which is associated with speech and behavior. Scientists found that there was no brain activity when shown emotional photographs, such as a photo of ragged and vulnerable Syrian refugees. However, Trump’s brain activity spiked abnormally when shown a photograph of the American flag. Shortly after, Trump waved his hands about, repeatedly pinching his thumb and forefinger together as he said, “I’m going to make America great again.” Scientists also found that the left hemisphere of his brain showed abnormal activity when the word “Mexico” was mentioned around him. There appeared to be a deactivation of the left hemisphere of his brain—the hemisphere associated with logic and reasoning. This effect was successfully replicated when Spanish was spoken in his general vicinity, and it was accentuated by Trump exclaiming, “I will build a great wall. Nobody builds walls better
than me, believe me.” Despite the lack of activity in his left hemisphere, the right hemisphere of Trump’s brain was found to be overactive, providing an explanation for Trump’s creativity throughout his candidacy. The increased activity of his right hemisphere reflects his clever plans, including methods to tackle ISIS that demonstrate a clear understanding of deliberate and precise military planning. Further studies on Trump have confirmed these results, demonstrating more of the intricacies of Trump’s brain. The first part of the study consisted of Trump listening to a series of recordings about topics including Hillary Clinton, ISIS, and Obamacare. The scientists conducting this study found that these topics triggered an extreme reaction from Trump, stimulating his brain activity by 300 percent. The second part of the study consisted of Trump being asked what his plan was regarding these various topics. In response, he exhibited a completely opposite reaction to that of the first study. His brain activity diminished to almost zero percent. The researchers also observed that Trump’s prefrontal cortex has not fully developed. The prefrontal cortex controls foresight, and Trump’s lack thereof has been continuously used to his advantage. His lack of ability to deliver carefully executed plans allows him to express simpler ideas, which tends to be more relatable to the average voter. Due to the nature of the results, the scientists wanted to keep Trump for more testing. Yet when Trump was informed of the results, he declared their study to be “fake science” and refused to participate in any more of their studies.
Stuyvesant Senior Gets Into Stanford With Alternative Facts By Eliana Kavouriadis Not long after Kellyanne Conway’s interview with “Meet the Press” where she cited false claims as “alternative facts,” senior George Wu received the best news of his life: a letter of acceptance to the highly selective Stanford University. Wu was surprised to hear back from his dream school so soon after he sent in his application. Before applying, he was almost certain he would get rejected from the prestigious institution. “Calling Stanford a reach school for me would be an understatement,” he said. “I didn’t have the grades, the extracurriculars, the test scores—anything, really.”
When reflecting on his application process, he realized that there was only one aspect of his application that could have conceivably earned him a spot at Stanford: his use of alternative facts. To look more impressive in the eyes of college admissions offices, Wu’s application was comprised entirely of elaborate fibs. He had hoped his blatant lies would look somewhat believable to blearyeyed admissions officers sitting at a roundtable, but thanks to a new policy implemented by Stanford University allowing the use of alternative facts in college applications, admissions officers did not have to buy Wu’s claims. “In the spirit of maintaining political neutrality and not acting
directly in opposition of President Trump’s agenda, we simply could not disregard his statements as lies. Instead, we had to accept them as alternative facts,” Stanford’s chief admissions officer told the Stuyvesant college office on Thursday. The admissions officer argued that she would have preferred to have seen concrete proof of Wu’s achievements, but with the lack of transparency in the current political climate, proof was no longer a required part of the application. This is how Wu got away with saying he was an Intel finalist in physics, the president of Stuyvesant Biomedical Engineers, an intern at a prestigious law firm, and proficient in eight languages. He wrote one of his essays about
building wells and teaching German in a small Malawian village, and he wrote another about his time conducting research on parasitic organisms in Antarctica. Wu even found a way to bluff the parts of his application that were out of his hands. “Well, yes, they did see my transcript, but I explained in my forged SSR that one of my peers hacked into the system to sabotage my grades,” he said. He attached a copy of his selfmade alternative transcript to his application, where the overwhelming majority of his grades ranged from 98 to 100. “I did give myself a 94 in Honors Analytic Geometry, though, just to be realistic.” He fabricated a similar story to explain his SAT and SAT II scores,
claiming that the College Board had mistakenly sent the scores of another George Wu. The news of Wu’s success quickly spread through the halls of Stuyvesant High School, where his peers expressed nothing but shock and in some cases, jealousy. “When I saw all the posts on [Wu’s] Facebook timeline congratulating him, I thought it was a joke. That kid sat next to me in physics. He would cut [class] at least twice a week and his highest test grade was a 60,” a classmate of Wu’s said on Thursday. Wu, on the other hand, is thankful for his amazing stroke of luck. “Man, I’m just happy I got in. I was afraid that no colleges would buy my alternative facts and that I wouldn’t get in anywhere,” he said.
Humor Department to be Renamed Alternative News By Tiffany Chen
take her spin class?” Indeed, the Alternative News department has demonstrated time after time that it is the top department of The Spectator. According to a very official survey administered by The Spectator, the Alternative News department was voted the most influential, after they went about deducting the invalid ballots of illegal freshmen. “Alternative News is just as valid and factual as the rest of The Spectator,” Xu stated in a press conference. “We can rename ourselves as we see fit. This executive order is only being criticized because the media and the News department are butthurt losers.”
Although the Alternative News department faces heavy criticism, it is determined to proceed forward.
“The Alternative News Department will be dedicated to making The Spectator great again,” Peters declared.
Suzy B. Ae / The Spectator
The Humor Department will be renamed Alternative News following an executive order by the Alternative News (formerly Humor) editors sophomore Kerwin Chen and juniors Shaina Peters and Michael Xu. The executive order is to take place immediately, without further consultation with other departments of The Spectator. The executive order follows several muted years of the Humor Department being mistreated by the News Department. “We are so sick of News acting like they’re all that,” Peters berated. “We are the only reason The Spectator gets read, after all.” With regret, not everyone is amused by the recent developments. Editors of other departments, mainly News, took to the
floors of Stuyvesant with signs and words of protest. “Not our editors!” was a common chant throughout the school, and the hashtag #NotMyEditor went viral. “This is absolutely absurd,” junior and News editor Blythe Zadrozny retorted, holding a sign that read, “Real News, Real Fax.” The protests have escalated to the point that some are demanding the impeachment of the Alternative News editors. Nonetheless, the Alternative News editors are unfazed, as they are unsure as to why the name change has garnered so much negative attention. “Alternative News has always been consistent in informing the student body about the real issues,” Chen quipped. “Has any other department bothered to inform the student body about the time Dr. Markova invited Ariana Grande to
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Humor Take a Tour of Stuyvesant By Michael Espinosa
Hello, and welcome to Stuyvesant High School! My name is Michael, but you can call me Charon because we’re about to take a journey through hell. For the parents, try not to be overly intimidated by Stuyvesant, but just in case, I brought a stretcher and a defibrillator. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them, and without further ado, let’s get started. Tour participation will be 15 percent of your grade, and after touring a department, there will be a departmental final. I don’t intend on giving pop quizzes, but if y’all are just taking photos on your phones, I’ll have no choice but to give one. First Floor: Behind me is the entrance to the pool. Here at Stuy, the pool is the one place you won’t find students falling asleep. Down this hallway is the music department. Depending on how musically gifted you are, you’ll either spend one or eight semesters here. Realistically speaking, however, it is rare that band or chorus students spend more than 10 days here in a semester. Before we go upstairs, I’d like to point out that this is the Hudson staircase, and it’s a great place to study alone—just make sure to bring some good noise-cancelling headphones and a visor. Second Floor: Exiting the Hudson staircase on the second floor leaves us right by the Programming Office. Notice the stains on the floor; those are made by residue from prayer candles and blood from necessary animal
sacrifices. When we talk about learning life skills in high school, this a great example. The only time you will beg more than when you plead to the Programming Office to put you in New York City History is when you beg your employer to give you one more chance. Down this hallway, you’ll find the base of the escalators. Although they remain broken, they are no more broken than our sanity. Past the escalators is a landmark that we call the Senior Bar. This is where you’ll meet with your friends, or at least pretend to. Third Floor: As we exit the East staircase, on the left you’ll find the computer lab that we call the Dojo. After school, this is where you’ll find me trying to feign interest about recursion to frustrated sophomores. This floor is also home to the history department, where they
have censored any mentioning of the Stuyvesant atrocity in the U.S. History textbooks. On the new exhibit boards, we can see the freshly-minted tears on students’ work. Fourth Floor: We’re going to skip the fourth floor because that’s the math department, and I really need to limit my exposure to integrals. If not, I think I’m going to start deriving myself. Instead, we’re going to walk up the broken escalator to the fifth floor. Fifth Floor: Welcome to the fifth floor. On the other side of the floor is the locker rooms. That’s where you’ll change for your physical education class and see the abs of the ripped gymnastics team and then the ribs of scrawny people like me. Next up is our student cafeteria, which has been awarded 12 Michelin Stars, and arguably
A Letter to a Special Someone By Kai Hin Lui Dear Mr. Perfect, We first met in the cafeteria, where I caught you lunging desperately for my French fries and stuffing biscuits into your mouth. I was enthralled by your ravenous appetite, the velocity at which you shoveled the food into your gaping maw, awestruck by the amount of spittle that flew forth, and delighted by your stunned expression when you realized that you were eating my food. The first time I laid my eyes on your bushy hair and beady eyes, you reminded me of this really chubby, diabetic squirrel that I had once fed ice cream to. But then I looked at you more closely, and then I discovered your finer features. You have the dreamiest eyes, a piercing green. You’re like every girl’s version of a cute guy kneaded, pounded, stretched, and steamrolled into one dude—and to top it off, your hair is a reddish-blonde I never thought was possible in a person. Love at first sight! I was determined to have you. Looking back, I recall when we were dissecting a sheep heart, and I squeezed diastolic fluid into your face. I remember how you screamed,several octaves too high, but it was music to my ears. And you better not have forgotten the time when I dumped hydrogen on your head and set your hair on fire. What an intoxicatingly beautiful smell that was—the smell of our chemistry lingering for weeks in what was left of your hair! Ever since, I have been at your side—secretly of course. I ravished the moments when I had come too close. As you showered after your football practice, you frantically searched the bathroom floor to ceiling after I sniffed your clothes too loudly. As you hung out with your popular buddies, I sat in the shade, sketching your jawline. You may think you want out of all this, but you and I both know you are compelled to stay. After all, it is hopeless and foolish to flee. Wherever you go, I will be there. I have a very particular set of skills, you see, skills I have acquired over a very long career of looking for people like you. I will pursue you to no end, and one day, I will finally steal a kiss from my Prince Charming. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Carrie Ou / The Spectator
the best food in the city. Here’s where you get to try organic prison food and lemon water fresh from the Hudson River. And when you’re done, you can painstakingly separate your plastic wrappers from your paper napkins while supervisors from the Environmental Club berate you to hurry up. Sixth Floor: As we exit the Hudson staircase, you’ll find the home of Speech and Debate, as well as The Spectator. If we keep walking down this hallway, (which during the day, looks more like a prison; the walls are crammed with people who didn’t get to read on the train) we’ll eventually arrive at the library. The library is where you’ll find students printing out their 89page Dunkel review packets. Seventh Floor: The seventh floor is the biology floor. There are so many plants here that the security
guards sometime overlook me making out with my imaginary girlfriend. Eighth Floor: So here we are on the eighth floor, which is the physics department. Here you can calculate the amount of potential energy a Stuyvesant student has. Ninth Floor: The ninth floor has the chemistry department. For a second, the view from the windows makes you forget about your urge to break free. Tenth Floor: Apparently we have an art department up here? That concludes our tour. Please leave immediately before the gates of hell close on you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another tour group to worry.
Spotlight On: Valentines of Stuy By Karen Chen As February approaches, many single Stuyvesant students become acutely aware of their crippling loneliness, and attempt to fill the void with scrumptious, gastronomic delights. Oh, perhaps a valentine as well. In this month’s edition, Humor will be putting the spotlight on some of the valentines in Stuyvesant. Winnie Li: Winning Her Boyfriend’s Heart We patiently waited for senior Winnie Li and her boyfriend, senior James Wong, to arrive in light of an apparent obstruction in the Hudson staircase. “We met during freshman
looking to put a ring on him,” Chen excitedly expressed. “There’s definitely some chemistry with us, and we’re very much attached,” Kevin endearingly articulated. “He’s there to wipe my tears away when I fail my Pre-Calc test or when I’m going through an existential crisis at two in the morning.” When asked about what they would do on Valentine’s Day, Kevin had a plan. “I’m a classic romantic. I’m going to ask him to go on a movie date with me. I think it’s going to be an enjoyable time for the both of us.” Mr. Hand could not be reached for a comment on his popularity. Rather, Mr. Hand merely rested and listened in quiet approval
“We’ve really had a lot of history together ever since Global Studies in my freshman year” — Jason Yang, sophomore
year square dancing, and James dosey-doed away with my heart,” Li cooed. “Although it’s been four years, we’re definitely still in the honeymoon phase.” Li and Wong can be found aggressively making out on the escalators, to the aversion of friends and students. “Oh, we know how frequently our mouths are attached to each other. We do it to remind the rest of the population how single they are,” Li responded. The interview ended abruptly after Li and Wang began to cuddle in earnest. Mr. Hand: He’s got your heart! Mr. Hand is a staple of our list of valentines year after year, with ruggedly good looks. Junior Kevin Chen has had an on-andoff relationship with Mr. Hand for several years now. “I’ve been
during the interview. Mr. Valentin: Will you be my Valentin-e? Stuyvesant students whittle away their school day with their attention on the teacher, so it is natural that some have their sights set on Mr. Valentin. “He’s always full of surprises,” sophomore Jason Yang observed when asked about why he wanted Mr. Valentin to be his valentine. “Like his pop quiz that I just failed.” Although many students are planning to send their dear teachers some chocolates, Yang is looking to surprise Mr. Valentin. “We’ve really had a lot of history together ever since Global Studies in my freshman year,” Yang remarked. “I’m buying him some test review books so that way, we can study together.”
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
By Ariel Glazman and Sean Stanton
The Cleveland Cavaliers Slump Into The All-Star Break: The Cavaliers stumbled into the All-Star Break with losses to some of the worst teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA): the New Orleans Pelicans, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Sacramento Kings. Following these losses, LeBron James complained to the media that the Cavaliers needed another playmaker on the team. Besides himself and point guard Kyrie Irving, there aren’t many reliable ball-handlers on the Cavaliers. This forces the Cavaliers to have at least one of them on the court at all times, tiring out these players before the playoffs even start. As tension rises between James and the team’s management, the pressure is on to find a playmaker for James. They hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference, so they are clearly going to make the playoffs, but with their recent record
Winners and Losers in the First Half of the 2016-2017 NBA Season and the pressure to win weighing on the team, the Cavaliers don’t look like the championship team they were last year.
The Golden State Warriors Look Championship Ready: Boasting a record of 43-8, the Warriors are running through the NBA. It’s looking like they are going to be clear-cut favorites for the championship. The one problem people were worried about during the offseason was team chemistry. In the offseason, the Warriors replaced two of their starters, one of the replacements being Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the game. However, that has not been a problem for them. They are clicking on all cylinders, leading the league in points scored, assists per game, blocks per game, and steals per game. With a season this good and the recent slump of the Cavaliers, it is once again the Warriors’ championship to lose.
Harden Edging Out Westbrook For the MVP Race:
Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook are playing the best basketball in the NBA right now. Contrary to popular belief, Harden is edging out Westbrook for the most valuable player (MVP) candidate right now. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double with 31.0 points per game (PPG), 10.4 rebounds per game (RPG), and 10.3 assists per game (APG), and he has 25 triple-doubles already this season. Despite the statistics favoring Westbrook, the reason Harden is currently the favorite to win the MVP is because he’s brought much more success to the Rockets than Westbrook has to the Thunder. The Rockets are in third in the West with a record of 4017, while the Thunder are currently in the seventh seed, with a 31-25 record. The past three MVP winners—Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James— have all been on teams at the
On March 5, the boys’ indoor track team, the Greyducks, will finish its season with the Freshman/Sophomore City Championships—a meet exclusively for freshmen and sophomores. Prior to then, the Greyducks will be heading to the varsity City Championships on February 19. This season, the team has competed extraordinarily well against its competition and hopes to continue its success at the upcoming city championships. On January 28, the team competed at Ocean Breeze Track & Field Athletic Complex in Staten Island. The highlight of this meet was undoubtedly the extraordinary victory of the 4x1600-meter relay team, in which Stuyvesant placed first with a time of 19:12.76 (19 minutes 12.76 seconds). The four-person relay team consisted of senior Harvey Ng, seniors and co-captains Kiyan Tavangar and Gregory Dudick, and freshman Baird Johnson. “Although none of us hit season bests, we raced intelligently, which allowed us to get the win, and the result gave us confidence going into our last meets of the year,” Tavangar said. One week later, on February 5, Stuyvesant came in first place in the Borough Championships. The Greyducks outperformed Hunter College High School and The Beacon School, which finished second and third, respectively. Stuyvesant has not lost the Borough Championships for over a decade and was feeling confident in the weeks leading up to it. The Greyducks finished with 248 points—over 100 points higher than Hunter’s score. “[There were] definitely a ton of crazy good performances,” senior Noah Fichter commented. In addition, Stuyvesant swept the 1000-meter race with Tavan-
Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson Trade Drama: Along with the upcoming February 23 trade deadline comes the inevitable drama. The most controversial trade rumor is coming from Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. Anthony has been on the Knicks since 2011, and nothing has come from it. In the past seven seasons, the Knicks have had a slew of first round exits, or in some cases, have not even made the playoffs. This has come because of poor decisions from team president Phil Jackson. He has traded away Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, had a couple of poor picks in past NBA drafts, and recently signed Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee, all
shells of their former selves. The most recent signings of these out of date players have caused the Knicks to go 23-33, putting them in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. Jackson now wants to do a rebuild, as his previous decisions as general manager haven’t worked very well. The one piece they have to do the rebuild around is 21-year-old Kristaps Porzingis. He is an upand-coming star in the NBA and a great player to build a winning team around. And when there are rebuilds, there is also the trading of players, meaning the nine time all-star Carmelo Anthony. The only problem is Anthony has a no-trade clause, which means he has to personally okay the trade. He has previously said that he will only allow the trade if it is to a good playoff team. There have been rumors of him going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Clippers, or the Boston Celtics. This rebuild is probably Jackson’s final chance at showing he is a good president, or it will prove the complete opposite. However, if he isn’t able to trade Anthony, there won’t be a rebuild for the Knicks in the near future.
Distance Runners Shine in Boroughs By nikki daniels
top of their conference, which the Rockets are, and the Thunder aren’t. Not only that, Harden has some incredible numbers as well, averaging 28.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 11.4 APG, with 14 triple-doubles himself. If Westbrook wants to become the MVP this year, he is going to have to carry the Thunder farther than he already has.
gar, Ng, and sophomore Justin Zhang finishing in that order. Tavangar scored an unbelievable 26 points for the team and came in first in the 3200-meter race as well as 1000-meter race. In addition to scoring well for Stuyvesant, Dudick achieved a personal record in the 3200-meter run, with a time of 10:16.23. Ng also set a personal best and came in second in the 1000-meter race with a time of 2:43.33. Freshman Baird Johnson came in second place at the Borough Championships with an impressive 4:37.49 mile performance—a whopping eight seconds faster than his previous record. “I’ve been trying to break 4:40 all season, and it’s finally nice to do it,” Johnson said.
Shevchenko placed first in the 55-meter race with a time of 6.87 seconds. Senior Eric Cao finished just a hundredth of a second behind Shevchenko, adding to his first place performance in the 55-meter hurdles and his second place performance in the long jump. Although the Borough Championships proved to be no tough challenge for the Greyducks, the City Championships will be more difficult. “City [Championships] will be harder, we can probably get top five, but our goal is to get top three,” said Tavangar. The Greyducks have been working hard to try to come in at least third place this season, especially after they missed third place by one point last year. Dudick is
“Although none of us hit season bests, we raced intelligently, which allowed us to get the win and the result gave us confidence going into our last meets of the year.”—Kiyan Tavangar, senior and co-captain
Johnson is now also qualified for the New Balance Indoor Nationals (a competition that takes the most elite runners in each category and has them compete for a national title) that will take place in March. The sprinters also had many impressive races. Junior Alex
content with the team’s performance and is optimistic for the upcoming championships. “I think that Borough’s was a nice and decisive victory to have,” he said. “We still have hopes to go into the outdoor season confident afterwards.”
Relay Teams Lead Victorious Effort
By BRANDOn RIM
The Greyducks, Stuyvesant’s girls’ indoor track team, came in first place at the Manhattan Borough Championships once again. As their success came as no surprise due to a lack of strong competition, the Greyducks saw the meet as a chance to showcase the progress they have made this year. This is especially important as they head to the City Championships on February 19, where they will face much tougher teams. After having a strong season, Stuyvesant was confident going into the meet. Senior and cocaptain Zovinar Khrimian feels that the returning members of the team excelled in their events. Mentioning senior Catriona Breen and sophomore Clara Mohri in particular, Khrimian is proud of many of the runners’ achievements. “They hit lots of personal records and have made names for themselves [approaching] the City Championships,” she said. Throughout the season, the Greyducks have proved their strengths in both running and field events, which have had an enormous impact in the Borough Championships. “We have a lot of strong field eventers on our team, and most of them placed in the Borough Championships,” said senior and co-captain Kamila Radjabova. Sophomore Kaitlin Wan had an impressive performance, placing first in both weight throw and shot put and earning a total of 20 points for Stuyvesant. The Greyducks also dominated pole vault, filling the top three spots in that category, with senior Michelle Chan claiming first and senior Lucia Liu and junior Venus Nnadi tying for second. Radjabova helped to secure first place in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 4:24:01 (four
minutes, 24.01 seconds), along with junior Anya Wang, senior Catriona Breen, and fellow cocaptain Khriman. “Both of our relays for the 4x800-meter and the 4x400-meter placed first in Borough’s, and it was the first time in Stuyvesant history that our 4x400-meter placed first in the borough,” Radjabova said. The Greyducks attribute all of their success in the Borough Championships to a strong work ethic and consistent training all season long. “We’ve been training the entire year, every day until 5:00 p.m. since the start of September,” said sophomore Stacey Xue. Xue emphasizes the instrumental role practice played in the team’s success. “It is extremely important and helps us improve every time as an individual and as a team,” she said. Regardless of overall meet results, the Greyducks are proud of their improvement, highlighting personal records as true measures of development. Setting her own personal best in weight throw at Borough Championships with a distance of 27 feet and 9.5 inches, Wan is just one of many to have seen noticeable improvement since the beginning of the season. “While every member does try to beat their own personal bests, the Greyducks were competing for the team as a whole,” Wan said. Despite the individuality of the sport, Wan believes that it was the team effort that earned Stuyvesant the first place title. Despite a dominant performance at Boroughs, the team is still in high gear as they hope to succeed in the City Championships on February 19. “Most of the girls are still training hard, and the season is not yet over for them,” Radjabova said. “They’re all looking to beat their personal running records as they finish off strong.”
The Spectator ● February 17, 2017
Sports Boys’ Gymnastics
Lemurs Hopeful For Championship By CELINA LIU The Lemurs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ gymnastics team, have hit their mid-season stride with a promising outlook for the future. At their second meet of the season against the John F. Kennedy Campus Knights, Stuyvesant pulled away with a win by a mere tenth of a point. The very tight score would put any team on edge for future meets, but the Lemurs’ confidence remains unwavered. At the meet against John F. Kennedy Campus on January 19th, the Lemurs were relying on their players to perform exceptionally well. Senior and co-captain Matthew Aleksey, an all-arounder, had scores similar to those of JFK’s Jhon DeJesus. The two ended up having the highest overall scores of the meet, but Aleksey fell just barely behind DeJesus with a total score of 42.40 to 43.30. Other members of the team stepped up at the meet and contributed to the win. Sophomore Ricky Lin scored a 5.90 in the pommel horse event, while fellow sophomore Dylan Kim scored a 7.90 in vaulting. A regular all-arounder for the team, junior Boqin Zhang also had scores similar to those of JFK’s Stephon Phillips. The two scored 33.10 and 36.20, respectively. “JFK is our toughest opponent, and we were worried about losing to them. [Our results] show that we have the potential to score even higher than we already do,” sophomore Muhib Khan said. Many of the newer team members participated in the meet and received minute point deductions, to the surprise of the veterans. Most of the point deductions were from fixable mistakes, such as falling while tumbling. By winning against JFK 115.0 to 114.9, the Lemurs have high hopes for the future, especially since Stuyvesant hasn’t won the gymnastics championships in over 20 years. “So far, this season has been
pretty good, and we have a fair shot at placing first in the city this year,” senior and co-captain Edwin Liu said. While the team had previously been unsure of their ability to place second or first in playoffs, defeating one of the league’s top competitors has really boosted the ego and morale of the team. “We learned that the competition out there this year is really good and that we need to bring our best to each competition,” Liu said. The team has future plans for its underclassmen, and the meets to come will provide means of experience for them. “We have some of the best gymnasts in the city, so we are hoping to continue our winning streak,” Liu said. “The season has been going well, some of the newcomers are making decent progress, which is good to see,” sophomore Andy Zhang said. Currently, the team has around a month to prepare for the PSAL finals and is set on giving their all during practices. While practice is strenuous, the team will need it in order to secure future wins against JFK and other tough schools. Noticeably, team members have been practicing more vigorously to further develop skills on their designated events. Additionally, at a recent PSAL invitational, multiple members of the Lemurs earned first and second place in their respective events. Aleksey scored first place in parallel bars and second place in all-around, Liu won first place in rings, and Khan ran second in pommel horse. As a team, Stuyvesant won first place, with JFK right behind them. Overall, the Lemurs have high hopes for the rest of the season and maintaining their success. After victories against Tottenville, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, and Bronx Science, they sit at the top of their division with a 5-0 record. “We’re undefeated, and I have a good feeling that won’t change,” said Khan.
Just For Show By MICHAEL GILLOW Awards in sports are measures of a player’s career achievements, and they represent the best players in the game during a certain period of time. Every eligible National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The best players in the NBA are perennial All-Stars, and the number of AllStar Games a player has played in is directly related to his legacy. In the National Football League (NFL), awards such as the MVP or Defensive Player of the Year come into debates over the best to ever play the game. Yet, the manner in which these awards are given oftentimes puts the decisions in the hands of people
ant was the top vote-getter for the NBA All-Star Game, despite being far from an elite player. This year, Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia had the second-most votes for frontcourt players, despite being one of the worst starting centers in the NBA. Being on the most popular team in the NBA and having a fun name almost got him a prestigious honor reserved for the best players in the game. The media voting for awards usually leads to players with better storylines, which make for engaging headlines, winning the award. While probably the best out of the three voting systems is player voting, it is also flawed. Generally, more well-liked players will receive the award, while players that are more physical or
“With the current awards systems, statistics and actually watching a player play are still much better ways of gaging how good a player truly is.”
who are biased or unqualified to make these decisions. Generally, awards given to players are either voted on by fans, the media, or other players. Each of these awarding systems has its flaws. Awards voted for by fans are really just a popularity contest, and bigger name players on more popular teams nearly always win. Last year, Kobe Bry-
play “dirty,” but may be better, are often snubbed. In 2012, cornerback Richard Sherman had arguably the best year of his career, yet he didn’t make the Pro Bowl. This is because many players disliked Sherman due to his physical style of play and trash-talking on the field, so he didn’t get enough votes from fellow players.
Besides the problems with the voting processes, many players who are voted in don’t actually participate. This year, Tom Brady didn’t participate in the Pro Bowl because he was playing in the Super Bowl and didn’t want to get injured. This leads to many undeserving players being awarded spots in these games to fill in gaps for players who don’t participate. The MVP awards have their flaws in their voting as well. In the NFL, the MVP award is extremely biased towards quarterbacks. The media is responsible for voting, and quarterbacks are much more popular and marketable, so it’s not surprising that they’re chosen so often. Only two nonquarterbacks have won the MVP award since 2006. If this weren’t the case, J.J. Watt may have won in 2011, as he had arguably the best season for any defensive player in NFL history. In the NBA, one of the problems is how the NBA releases the list of journalists that vote for the MVP. While the race was actually tight between Stephen Curry and James Harden, no voter wanted to be attacked for not voting for Curry, leading to Curry being the first ever unanimously voted MVP in NBA history. Before 2016, the NBA never released the list of voters, so no one ever felt pressured into voting for a particular candidate. While awards and accolades are certainly a nice indicator of success, oftentimes, these awards can have little meaning. While being in contention for an award generally shows that a player performed well, it doesn’t always mean the winner was better than other candidates. As long as we have this current awards systems, we shouldn’t judge a player’s career or legacy on recognitions derived from popularity and marketability.
Runnin’ Rebels End Season with Playoff Hopes on the Line continued from page 24
also performed well this season, leading the team in both the assists and rebounds columns. Senior George Kalantzopoulos enjoyed a successful season as well, providing another scoring option and helping spread out the offense. He finished with an average of 10 points per game, a significant leap from his 3.6 points per game last year. The stat sheet also reflects increased ball movement—one of the keys to the team’s relative success this year. In comparison to last year, the team had two more players scoring upwards of 10 points per outing. Not only did the top three scorers score more points, but the supporting cast saw increased success as well. The depth of the Rebels is a huge reason behind their success, and Fisher emphasized the importance of depth in the beginning of the season. Senior and co-captain Nikolaos Ziozis provided a physical body in the starting lineup, playing intense defense and setting hard screens. Juniors Michael Gillow and Nicola Manfredi also saw significant playing time this season, each providing a reliable, strong performance. “Going into the playoffs, we know we may not have the best seed, but we are going to work hard and do our best to progress as far as possible,” said Feinberg. The Rebels have proven they can
Courtesy of Thomson Lee
However, at the start of the second half, Norman Thomas gave the Rebels a run for their money. Both offenses were in sync, scoring 23 points apiece. The Rebels went into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 59-39 lead. Late in the fourth quarter the Rebels faced a scare; the Tigers rallied to bring the game within single digits. Nevertheless, the Rebels’ second unit was able to band together and play strong defense to ensure the victory and consequently the playoff spot. This was one of the best team wins of the season, as well as an extremely strong game for Lange, who finished with a season high of 35 points. “I was shocked I scored as many [points] as I did, and I think it was a product of our system more than anything else. There was excellent passing, and I was put in positions which set me up for easy baskets,” Lange said. Two days later, the Rebels ended the season with a loss against Murray Bergtraum High School, showing the importance of the victory against Norman Thomas. The Rebels finished sixth place in the Manhattan A-division with an 8-8 record and a trip to the playoffs, a quite satisfactory and very different ending from last year’s record of 1-13. Despite the loss, the Rebels head into the play-
offs confident. This was one of the best seasons the Rebels have had in recent years, as they fought all season despite facing many tough opponents in the year. “We have a lot more experience with this year’s team. We basically brought back our entire core, so we had already adjusted to the speed of a varsity game,” said Lange. “Almost every team we play is taller and much more athletic, but we have solid fundamentals and run our offense to death.” After a slow 0-3 start to the season, the Rebels enjoyed a fivegame win streak. Since then, they have gone 3-5, putting them at 8-8 on the season. Despite struggling slightly in the absence of longtime Coach Phillip Fisher (4-5 without him) the Rebels have mentioned that they feel comfortable under their new coach, Michael Atzlan. They are still confident and have noted improvement compared to last season. “Before Fisher left, he really gave us everything we needed to succeed in the rest of the season in terms of what we needed to practice and how we needed to play, and we’ve really tried to do that in his absence,” Feinberg said. In terms of statistics, the Rebels knocked down three pointers at an elevated rate this season, led by Feinberg’s 20 three-point field goals. Feinberg also lead the team with 19 points per game. Lange
Captain Tobias Lange goes for a layup in a game against Hunter College High School.
compete against the Manhattan A-division competition throughout the season and look to prove it again in the playoffs. As a lower ranking seed in the playoffs, the Rebels are likely to meet some tough competition, including division champions Seward Park Campus, Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, and
East Harlem Pride. Six of the Rebels’ eight losses have come at the hands of these teams. “We’re happy to be here, but ready to make some noise,” Lange said. “Teams will underestimate us because we’re Stuyvesant, but we think we can pull off a couple of upsets.”
February 17, 2017
The Spectator SpoRts Wrestling
Spartans Finish Strong
Boys’ Gymnastics Home
Courtesy of Adam Belkebir
Senior Adam Belkebir (120 lbs) in a tie up against a Petrides High School opponent.
By CELINA LIU and Jeremy Rubin Stuyvesant Spartans’ senior and co-captain Cade Lueker circles the wrestling mat, eyeing his opponent, senior Feras Zedeia of William C. Bryant High School. With first place in the city on the line for the 170-weight class, they exchange a few quick taps to the head, when suddenly Zedeia strikes, locking their arms, and brings Lueker down, giving himself a 2-0 advantage. With seconds left in the first round, Lueker fights back and ties it up 2-2. After the second round, it’s still even at 4-4. Soon after, the referee blows his whistle to signal the start of the third and final round, Zedeia manages to pin Lueker down, making the score 6-4. With seven seconds left, Lueker makes a desperate lunge at Zedeia, gaining a point in the process. However, that’s all he gets, as the final whistle signals the end of the match, 6-5 Zedeia. Lueker silently takes off his helmet and shakes hands with Zedeia and the Bryant coaches before making his way to his parents and Spartans’ coach Michael Cigala. Even though he came in second, his placement is a major accomplishment. “[Stuyvesant] has
a lot of work, and [students don’t] have the most time to train,” Lueker said. “Last year, I was out because I hurt my back, but getting better and training over the summer and getting ready for this season helped me a lot,” Lueker said. Cigala, while disappointed that Lueker had lost the match, thought that the team was phenomenal overall. “Our younger guys won a lot of matches… 170 [weight division] is one of the best in the city, and Lueker had come out and won four other matches before this, […] we’re happy,” Cigala said. “We’re a pretty young team with a lot of sophomores and juniors, and they’ll be juniors and seniors next year, so we’re looking forward to competing again next year.” Senior and co-captain Valerie Leung, one of the two girls on the team, competes with the boys’ team because Stuyvesant does not have a girls’ wrestling team. Even though she is facing off against boys, she loves the sport. “Wrestling is definitely one of the most challenging and time consuming sports but I love it,” Leung said. Her dedication to the sport is what coaches want in their wrestlers. The first day of city championships was tough for the rest of the Spartans who competed, including junior Adam Abbas and junior
Allard Peng. Abbas went 0-2 but lost very marginally in his second match. Peng was forced to forfeit his matches after suffering a concussion. For Abbas, even with the disappointing first day, the future of the Spartans is looking bright. Though it was his first year wrestling for Stuyvesant, he was successful enough to make it to the city championships. Unfortunately, he went 0-2 the first day, but he’s using his newfound knowledge of the sport to set goals for next year. Abbas thought his weaknesses during the season were his technique and lack of experience. “Wrestling isn’t a sport you can master instantly,” Abbas said. He is looking forward to working a lot on his technique and learning new strategies during the off-season. “I’m going to have a lot more motivation [next year], considering it’s my last, and I know how good it feels to do well.” “We train 12 months out of the year. We’re ready to go into our offseason program and our weighttraining program,” said Cigala. The Spartans are only losing six seniors out of the 23 on their current roster. The team will, for the most part, be unchanged for the next season and will again look to compete at a high level.
Boys’ and Girls’ Indoor Track: PSAL City Championships Armory Track
Boys’ Basketball vs. TBD, First Round of Playoffs TBD
Wednesday Junior Varsity Boys’ Basketball vs. West 50th Street Campus High School West 50th Street H.S.
Runnin’ Rebels End Season with Playoff Hopes on the Line By Tahsin Ali and Ariel Melendez On February 7, the Runnin’ Rebels, Stuyvesant’s varsity boys’ basketball team, were one win away from clinching their first playoff berth in three years as they took on the Norman Thomas Tigers. Coming off a tough loss against Hunter, the team had only two games left to clinch a playoff spot. With their last game of the season against a strong Murry Bergtraum team, the Rebels had a win-now mentality facing the 0-14 Norman Thomas team. “We knew it was a must-win and felt cautiously confident. We had beaten them earlier in the season by 24, but we knew they would give us a much better fight this time. We were nervous, but also excited, to do something none of us had
done in our time at Stuy, make the playoffs,” senior and co-captain Tobias Lange said. The team knew the importance of this game and showed it in their play. “Going into the Norman Thomas game, we had just come off a tough loss against a team we should have beaten, and basically, we weren’t going to let that happen again. We had high intensity and were focused on what we needed to do,” senior and co-captain Michael Feinberg said. From the opening minutes of the game, the team played strong defense, forcing Norman Thomas to take many contested shots. Despite the absence of senior point guard Angelo Jud Yu due to injury, junior Sean Chung made the most of his starting spot, running the offense and creating shots for his teammates. Of these teammates
was Lange, who had the hot hand from the opening minutes of the game. Averaging 14.63 points per game on the season, Lange proved a helpful factor in the team’s success. The Rebels’ dominance continued in the second quarter as they outscored Norman Thomas 21-7. Coming into the game, the Rebels knew that Norman Thomas had a strong offensive playing style. They were led by senior Emmanuel Mayfield, who is third in the city in points per game. “We knew they were going to shoot a lot, so we adjusted our zones. We knew he [Mayfield] was going to score, but we couldn’t let him beat us single handedly,” Lange said.
continued on page 23
Sunday Boys’ and Girls’ Indoor Track: Freshman/Sophomore City Championships Armory Track
WRAPUP After defeating LaGuardia High School on February 14 by a score of 41-27 in the first round of the playoffs, the Phoenix, STUYVESANT’S GIRLS’ BASKETBALL TEAM, ended their season in the second round in a 59-28 loss to Bayside High School the following day.