The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper A&E
‘DAMN.’ Review: A Glimpse Into a Legend
Stuyvesant: As Painted by the Asian Palette
Editor-in-Chief Matteo Wong challenges the perception that the Asian-American population is a monolith and delves into what this means at Stuyvesant. see page 2
Volume 107 No. 14
NEWSBEAT Seniors Michelle Chen, Na-
dia Filanovsky, Kaia Waxenburg, Lawrence Kong and sophomore Taylor Woo were the winners of the NYC Envirothon competition on Friday,
April 21. Senior Zachary Ginsberg and junior Abie Rohrig were quarterfinalists at the Debate
on Monday, May 1. Rohrig was seventh speaker overall.
Sophomore Thomas Lee, as well as seniors Sharon Lin and Phillip Kutcher, placed first at the New York City Science and Engineering
The Robotics Team competed at the World Robotics Championship at St. Louis from April 26 to 30.
Junior Shameek Rakshit won second place in the category of Senior Individual Website at the New York State History
Stuyvesant placed first at the
2017 High School Fed Chal-
in the Liberty Street Winners Division. lenge
Sophomore William Lohier reviews Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, ‘DAMN,’ exploring how Lamar pushes the boundaries of rap through unique sound, flow, and lyrics.
see page 16
May 8, 2017
Stuyvesant Places First at All-Girls National Chess Championship By Chloe Doumar and George Shey Stuyvesant Chess Team members freshman Sophie Morris-Suzuki and juniors Charlie Reeder and Shaina Peters attended the All-Girls National Chess Championship from Friday, April 7 to Sunday, April 9. They were among over 400 national competitors at the tournament, which was held in Chicago, Illinois. The competitors came from all across the U.S. The tournament consisted of six rounds, with each one lasting up to four hours. In the 18-and-under division, Morris-Suzuki won five rounds and only lost one, while Reeder won three, tied two, and lost one. Stuyvesant ranked first place in the 18-and-under team competition and in the 18-and-under individual category. Morris-Suzuki placed first, Reeder placed sixth, and Peters placed 24th. All three of the competitors began playing chess before high school. Reeder and Peters learned how to play chess in kindergarten, and continued to play throughout the subsequent years. “The entire game is like a puzzle with millions of different types of combinations and possibilities. It’s very captivating,” Reeder said. Morris-Suzuki started playing chess the latest, during her sixth grade, and found
that she enjoyed the game’s competitiveness. “Besides the competitive aspect of the game, chess is also a huge part of my social life. Chess gave me the opportunity to meet other people who I fit in well with, and I made many friends from chess,” Morris-Suzuki said. The three competitors feel as though their hard work paid off at the tournament. “I was really proud of myself as I was a bit of an underdog in the section,” Reeder said. “For me, it was a really big deal to do well because I was a lot lower rated than the people I had to play [against].” Morris-Suzuki’s stellar performance has made her hopeful for the future. “It feels great because I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did going into the tournament. I guess I kind of just knew what I was doing in my games,” Morris-Suzuki said. However, they felt that participating in this event was important because of the huge male to female ratio in the chess circuit. “The ratio of boys to girls who play chess is 20 to one,” Reeder said. “This is the first all-girls [national] team that there has ever been at Stuy[vesant].” In previous years, Stuyvesant did not meet the minimum requirement of three girls to create a team that could compete at the All-Girls National Chess Championship. All three women are looking forward to attending Su-
Courtesy of Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association
Sophomore Joshua Weiner and senior Asher Lasday placed first and second, respectively, at the New York State Speech and Debate Tournament in the Student Congress division. Junior Eric Li placed first in the Impromptu division.
“The Pulse of the Student Body”
per Nationals VI, which will be held in Tennessee, from Friday, May 12 to Sunday, May 14. Hosted every four years, SuperNationals, unlike other chess competitions, is a combination of the elementary, middle, and high school national tournaments. Reeder and Peters hope that this recent accomplishment at the All-Girls National
Chess Championships will pave the way for more funding and interest in the girls’ chess team. “I’m really hoping [this causes the] girls’ nationals [team] to get funding next year,” Peters said. “We really only get funding for two events [currently]: the regular and nationals [tournaments]. We haven’t gotten funding for girls nationals, so far.”
Red Cross Holds First “America the Beautiful” Art Show
Courtesy of Sarah Osman
By Sarah Osman Stuyvesant’s first “America the Beautiful” art show took place on Friday, April 21, in the first floor hall near the Murray Khan Theater. Organized by the Stuyvesant Red Cross, the art show featured two standing boards full of paintings, sketches, collages, and photographs taken by students. Ninety students attended and perused the works of art displayed. The event was organized in order to raise money for the Save the Children foundation. Art viewers were asked to donate any amount to the foundation after viewing the art. This non-profit foundation helps children in crises all around the world, but this money is specifi-
cally going to the children refugees of the war in Syria. “[We] raised not as much money as we hoped, but a fair amount,” said junior and Red Cross leader Yuan Chen, who planned the event. Students in all grades were encouraged to draw what they imagine when they hear “America the Beautiful.” The theme was chosen to offset the current political turmoil in the country. It allowed students a safe place where they could share and discuss art that expressed their feelings. “With the new whole political landscape and everything that’s happening, we wanted to make a statement and provide a safe space for conversation to go on in school,” junior and Red Cross board member Maiko Sein said.
The colors and mediums used to create the art pieces were completely up to the students, giving them room to be creative with the theme and interpret it the way they wanted. Art pieces that drew the most attention tended to be the less serious ones. This included a painting of a cat in front of the American flag and a watercolor of “American food” in front of a red, white, and blue background. “It was really inspiring to see all the art pieces that people contributed to put this together, and the fact that it helped raise money for refugees makes it more inspiring,” freshman Yae Eun Kim said. Red Cross hopes to continue to organize more art shows in the future and display writing, as well.
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Features Stuyvesant: As Painted by the Asian Palette By Matteo Wong “It gets me lonely, sometimes… If I say I’m Asian-American, it just eclipses what I really am.” Junior Minhein Htet, who immigrated from Myanmar, a small Southeast Asian country, at the age of eight; it’s hard to know without asking. On the surface, Htet appears “Asian”—one of 2,475 Stuyvesant students encompassed by five letters next to a scantron bubble. “Asian,” however, does Htet an injustice. “If you say AsianAmerican, you think I’m Chinese, Korean, Japanese. But we’re kind of different,” he says, elaborating: “I can’t relate to some of the things a lot of Asian-American and Chinese students may relate to. An example would be festivals, the [lunar] new year, just something I don’t really celebrate.” Htet is not alone in his isolation. Like many Stuyvesant students, he associates “Asian” with Chinese. The sheer number of Chinese-Americans can make the two seem synonymous, and students with vaguely East or Southeast Asian features are often assumed to have Chinese roots. For some, homogenization is not accidental; many Chinese people, along with China’s government, don’t recognize Tibet as a separate country. “The most anyone [has] said to me that’s offensive is, ‘Oh, you’re basically Chinese,’” says freshman Dechen Pema, who is Tibetan. While tensions between Chinese and Tibetans aren’t strong at Stuyvesant, painting the student body with the sweeping brush of Asia can create misunderstandings. “When people talk about Tibet, people just don’t know what to think,” Pema continues. “I think Tibetan culture is different from others, it’s more toward the Himalayan area. The food is really good… we have a couple of dances that are great.” Explaining their origins is a challenge for both Htet and Pema, but for some, it can become too much of a burden. “There was this one time I was using the bathroom, and this guy comes up to me, and he asks me what my ethnicity was. It was just a bathroom, and I wanted to get out of the conversation as soon as possible, so I said I’m Chinese,” junior Brian Kwong recounts, grinning. He is half-Chinese and halfLaotian, and sometimes, it’s easier to fade into the backdrop of Chinese-Americans. The path of least resistance, however, has its drawbacks. “I didn’t grow up in a traditional Chinese background, I don’t speak the language, I often feel excluded. I often feel like people are talking behind my back or even in front of me in Chinese, and I have no idea what they are saying,” Kwong says, no longer laughing. And though he is guilty of not always mentioning his Laotian half, Kwong does not want his heritage to be lost: “Laotian culture is very different from Chinese culture. Most Chinese people, I believe their traditional religion and beliefs come from Confucius, whereas Laotians believe in the Buddha, and I’m a Buddhist.” Interestingly, China has over 200 million Buddhists, the largest population in the
world, showing how misunderstandings run both ways.
Myanmar, Laos, and China are not the same.
Between Asia and America
Students like Kwong believe that the ethnic bonds among Chinese-American students, which often aren’t as strong among underrepresented Asian subgroups, are a barrier; Southeast Asians make up 7.5 percent of Stuyvesant’s “Asians,” as per a survey done for The Spectator’s “Race Issue.” Laos was not on the list of countries Stuyvesant represents. Students in the majority, however, are not so critical of themselves. “I don’t think there are divisions,” says freshman Jeffrey Chen, who is Chinese-American. Chen acknowledges that “Chinese-Americans [become closer] because we can relate more on personal experiences and how our families are similar.” He also believes that their shared heritage doesn’t necessarily exclude other Asians. Chen isn’t wrong; East and Southeast Asians do share s i m i l a r i t i e s.
The experience of immigration is something most AsianAmericans share. Freshman Ayham Alnasser, who is Palestinian, says that “When [Asian immigrants] all come to America, the ‘melting pot’ makes them feel the suffering of being more poor, and they try to put aside differences to work together.” Immigration, however, does not bring all Asian students together. “There’s a large difference between people born in America and someone who immigrated,” says senior Neil Yang, who feels stuck between China and America: “A lot of Asians at Stuy, we feel that we’re never Asian enough to be ‘Asian,’ but we’re never exactly white… we’re sort of in-betweens.” White, of course, is its own monolithic category; homogenization is not a unique phenomenon. Asian-Americans from the other side of this spectrum—born in China—feel similar divisions. “I can definitely recognize who
taking care of her, however, “[she] basically forgot how to speak Chinese, [she] stopped seeing [her grandparents] as often, [they] didn’t really eat Chinese food.” At Stuyvesant, “where there are so many ‘actual’ Asians,” she feels as if she’s lost a rightful claim to her heritage. “I think most people see me as white, so that’s how I consider myself. I feel like I don’t have the right to say, ‘Oh yes, I am Asian,’ because I don’t look that Asian. Also, I don’t really know the language, I don’t know the culture, we don’t celebrate the holidays.” Telling people she’s Chinese elicits astonishment: “Whaaat?! You’re Asian?!” When asked if her peers considering her a “white girl” and not being able to speak with her grandparents bothers her, Eisenman’s bright disposition became a solemn nod. “Yeah, a lot. It sucks.” Junior Max Irikura, who is half-Japanese, one quarter Korean, and one quarter white, feels the same, despite
Vivian Lin / The Spectator
Pema cites several: “Tibet and China also [have] dumplings and noodles. I know it’s a big thing to respect elders, and that’s also a big thing in Tibetan culture.” Senior Khang Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, says, “I think I fall under Asian. I don’t really feel a distinction.” Yet, when asked, Nguyen says he is Vietnamese — adding that “Asian” is simpler, but incorrect. Cultural similarities have created the “Asian” category, and the 72 percent statistic has fostered the opinion that Stuyvesant lacks diversity. Though Stuyvesant is by no means representative of New York City, it is equally wrong to consider Stuyvesant’s student body a monolith of Asian students (or for the more ignorant, simply Chinese.) Shockingly,
a r e born in the U.S. and who are immigrants,” says junior Iris Tao, who immigrated from China three years ago. When asked how, she was unsure. “Just by looking at them, I can sometimes see. I don’t know, it’s not the face. It’s weird.” “Halfies,” or multiracial students, seem to embody the “in-between.” Senior Danielle Eisenman, who is half-white and half-Chinese, divides her life into two phases. Her maternal Chinese grandparents raised her during early childhood. “Every single day, my grandpa would walk me 20 minutes to school and 20 minutes home, and we would talk the whole way. We were really close,” she says. When her father started
being biologically more “Asian” than white. Stuyvesant was his first exposure to people raised in more traditional, “Asian” households; he considers himself “pretty whitewashed... The main difference is usually just between generations and how whitewashed they are. Someone from South Asia who is first generation has a lot more in common with someone who is Chinese and first generation than a Chinese first generation and a Korean third generation.”
The Big Three Irikura assumes that a Chinese and Korean person would
feel a strong connection; Chinese-, Korean-, and JapaneseAmericans are generally the most interchangeable. Geographic proximity, physical appearance, and China’s influence on the three cultures have created the perception of uniformity. Japanese-Americans, however, are not nearly as populous as Chinese- or Korean-Americans—the Japanese immigrant population, worldwide, is simply smaller. Junior Naotaka Kinoshita, who runs Stuyvesant’s Japanese Culture Club, feels his culture isn’t always respected. Conversations often fall on two ends of the spectrum: “‘Are you Chinese?’ And I just say, ‘No.’” At the other end, students first learning he’s Japanese almost think he’s exotic, though the infatuation quickly subsides: “People say, ‘Wow, you’re Japanese, that’s pretty cool. Oh wow, you watch anime,’” he continues. For Kinoshita, the Japanese Culture Club is a way to change these attitudes, which often border on ignorance. “[We aim] to show that Japanese culture is pretty varied; it’s not just anime and manga—there’s different aspects, like food and different holidays. A lot of kids are really into anime and manga, but they don’t really know anything about the other aspects.” Meanwhile, Stuyvesant’s Korean population, the third member of the “big three” East Asians, often feels dwarfed by the larger Chinese-American population, junior William Hong says. “It is difficult for us to express our voice and culture, because many Americans often group us with the Chinese- and Japanese-Americans as one conglomerate ‘Asian’ culture,” Hong continues. “Even the parents of many of my Chinese-American friends first spoke to me in Mandarin or Cantonese, displaying surprise when I had to tell them otherwise.” Like Kinoshita, many KoreanAmerican students want to teach others about their heritage. The Korean Culture Club, run by juniors Shaney Hwang and Sophia Heo, aims to share Korean heritage and create a more inclusive community. KoreanAmericans can “be pretty exclusive,” Heo acknowledges. “If you meet someone Korean, you tend to connect with them a bit more, a little bit faster.” Hwang adds, “We would all do the same things, we would also go to prep together, church together,” and both laughed at the mention of Korean school, which is pervasive among Korean-Americans. Yet divisions exist even within a cohesive subcommunity such as Korean-Americans, and schools and churches aren’t always bonding experiences.
continued on page 3
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Features Stuyvesant: As Painted by the Asian Palette continued from page 2
“When I attended church, Korean school, taekwondo, or other Korean-American institutions, which my parents forced me to attend as a kid, I often felt as an ‘outsider’ among my Korean peers,” Hong admits. “Many had parents who knew each other in this exclusive ‘network’ of other Korean parents. Because of the working-class status of my parents, they were often excluded.” Divisions also exist among the perceived monolith of ChineseAmericans. Chen, whose family is from Fujian province, says, “I feel a lot more connected to Fujianese Chinese people than I do to Cantonese Chinese people.” There is a mythology surround-
Junior Mansour Elsharawy, who is Middle-Eastern, says he has not encountered overt racism. Instead, he describes “this one hurdle... this divide of, he’s the only guy in the room with a beard, [and] there’s also this stigma of Islam oppressing women.” Open hostility is not common. However, divisions become pronounced through misunderstandings about South Asian cultures, one of which surrounds the “halal” carts, a Stuyvesant staple. “I don’t understand why students and even teachers refer to halal food as “halal” because halal is an adjective, not a noun,” Zaman says, frustrated. Students know similarly little about Ramadan, the holy month during which Muslims fast, or the differences between Islam and Hinduism. Among the swarms of Chinese
Race may vanish from academics, but it is ever-present in social dynamics. Alienation runs deep among smaller subgroups of Asians; even basic notions of food, like halal and other dietary restrictions, are misunderstood.
ing China—that it is a 5,000 year old, culturally uniform civilization. In fact, China’s dynastic cycles brought about great change at rapid intervals, and today there are 23 provinces, and according to Chen, “each ethnic group has stereotypes about each other.” Not everyone feels this way. Tao, who moved to the U.S. relatively recently, says regional or cultural divisions only exist in China. “I don’t think [ChineseAmericans] really care which part of China you’re from. In China, it’s definitely a big thing. People do have that kind of [stereotypes] if a person says they’re from Beijing, whereas if a person says he’s from a rural region, people will look at that person differently,” she says.
Asian, Statistically; Brown, Conversationally The distinctions between East and Southeast Asian students are more often rooted in culture than physical features. For others, however, appearance clearly sets them apart under the “AsianAmerican” umbrella. “Our skin color physically sets us apart,” says junior Raniyan Zaman, who is Bangladeshi. “It’s an obvious difference—you wouldn’t mistake an East Asian for a South Asian.” Indeed, at Stuyvesant, Asians are either Brown or Yellow— South or East Asian. While “Asia,” China, and Yellow are often considered the same, South Asians (also “Asian” on paper) are easily distinguishable in person. “I don’t think South Asians are really considered Asian,” Zaman says. The divide between East and South Asians can be sharp. “Yeah, I’ve seen [racism] from East Asians before,” Zaman says. “There was a kid in my chem class who made some comment about me knowing all about chemicals since I was Muslim, and I’ve encountered a lot of people who like to say ‘Allahu Akbar’ like it’s really funny.”
students, Zaman feels not only like an outsider, but isolated from her own community. “There’s this huge East Asian culture, there are inside jokes. You don’t see that same camaraderie among South Asians at Stuyvesant, because there aren’t enough of us.” A strong Muslim community does exist, however, in Stuyvesant’s Muslim Students Association (MSA). “The majority of MSA is from South and Southeast Asia. They are all classified as Asian, e v e n though they are not what people t h i n k of when they think of Asian,” says E l s h a r a w y, the MSA’s events coordinator. Not only is the MSA a hub for Muslim students, it also p r o motes inclus i v i t y and understanding among varying cultures at Stuyvesant. “Anybody who is either Muslim or is interested in Islam or discussing topics related to Muslims” can join. In fact, Elsharawy himself falls into that cultural mixed bag. He has brown skin, a curly black beard, and in person, might be identified as “brown,” and by as-
sociation, Asian; he is Egyptian. When asked about his ethnic classification, a gentle chuckle disguises his exasperation. “I don’t consider myself Asian. I definitely don’t consider myself ‘white’ either, even though technically, that’s what I am” —Middle-Eastern students must bubble in “white” on standardized test forms. “I consider myself Middle-Eastern.” Lacking a racial “home” within the DOE, Elsharawy has found a place within the MSA. “With MSA and competing together and meeting together in a room every Friday where we can talk about anything without having to fear prejudice, it’s something really special.” Not everyone at Stuyvesant considers MSA the hub of “brown” culture. Take for example, Junior Caucus President Pallab Saha. “MSA is more Muslim students, but for me, I’m Hindu. There aren’t many Hindu students at Stuy,” he laments. “I grew up leading a very traditional Hindu lifestyle. I’m vegetarian, I have a ‘tail’,” a hairstyle among some Hindus. “Brown,” like Asian or yellow, is a misnomer. “Many people would say that there are a lot of brown people, and I think that the word ‘brown’ is just so broad, because Indian people and Pakistani people and Bangladeshi people, those are who we typically consider brown, but they’re not the same,” says junior Kartikay Sharma. Sharma, like Saha, has noticed that Stuyvesant lacks a strong Indian community. “There aren’t a lot of Indian people at Stuy. When my sister was in Stuy, there was an Indian culture club,” Sharma says. It no longer exists. Many students, like Sharma, long for an ethnic community they can call their own. Pema, who is Tibetan, mentions, “It would be really nice if more Tibetan kids were to come to Stuyvesant.” Alnasser, Palestinian, says, “I prefer hanging out with my Arab friends, because I can make jokes that only Arab kids get.” Hong worries about Stuyvesant’s dwindling Korean-
American population, and Nguyen, despite his embrace of the “Asian-American” moniker, wishes Stuyvesant had more kids with whom he could speak Vietnamese.
Many Model Minorities Stuyvesant students are, however, brought together by the immense pressure to succeed, which further compacts the high expectations put on Asian-Americans—the myth of the model minority. This stereotype homogenizes Asian-Americans as an easily assimilable group, ignoring how Asians live in cities with high living costs, have larger house-
cial stereotypes like the model minority myth seem to fade away, superseded by our experience as high school students; Stuyvesant paradoxically embodies the model minority myth and refutes it. “At Stuy, under the pressure and the duress we’re put under, here [the model minority myth] it’s not a thing. Everyone feels more of a need to become successful students rather than that issue of race,” Saha says.
Though Stuyvesant is by no means representative of New York City, it is equally wrong to consider Stuyvesant’s student body a monolith of Asian students (or, for the more ignorant, simply Chinese). holds, or that many groups, such as Laotian-Americans, face high school dropout rates nearing 40 percent. Saha, who did not know what the myth was when asked, explained it perfectly: “Everyone I know outside of Stuy will say, you’ll be fine, you’re Indian. It’s a big thing how there are so many successful Indians CEOs, like the new CEO of Google and everything”—being Asian-American is equated with success. Nearly everybody interviewed had experienced similar stereotypes—“If [Asians succeed], it’s because of race, just because they’re a mindless machine,” Zaman says. Similarly pressured, “I can’t afford to be mediocre here. I have to do something great,” Htet says, followed by a long pause. Then he starts again: “A lot of people at Stuy have some pressure to do well, to be exceptional.” Most immigrants place enormous emphasis on hard work and education, simply to gain a secure footing in society. Combine that with the conflation of Asian and
Fareeha Tabassum / The Spectator
Chinese, which is associated with Confucian standards, and a stereotype is born. At a school where being “Asian” is almost ubiquitous, ra-
The Asian Palate Race may vanish from academics, but it is ever-present in social dynamics. Alienation runs deep among smaller subgroups of Asians; even basic notions of food, like halal and other dietary restrictions, are misunderstood. For instance, it can be a struggle for Kwong, who is commonly considered Chinese, to eat Chinese food. “If I go out with some of my non-Chinese friends, I have to act like the authority figure, even though I’m not an authority on Chinese foods.” Kwong is eager, however, to clarify his own cuisine. His eyes light up when asked to discuss his background— one of less than five million Laotians across the globe, and his mind immediatel y jumps to food. “ W e don’t u s e c h o p sticks or forks or spoons, we just use our hands. My favorite f o o d f r o m Laotian cuisine is this d i s h called k h a o nom kok, it’s this coconut fritter… and it’s very good.” We remember our food fondly. Eisenman, who sometimes feels alienated from her Chinese culture, has an “obsession with all the little Chinese snacks and stuff, because those are the snacks of my childhood,” she says. And more promisingly, we are willing to expand our palates. “The first time I ever had sushi was two years ago, and I fell in love with it,” Elsharawy recounts. “As Islam says, anything from the sea is fine to eat. I can feel at home here.”
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Zaakariah Rahman / The Spectator
Dr. Markova’s Fight for Wellness
By Jerry Ye It’s 7:55 a.m. on a Friday morning. A student is running down Chambers street, frantically trying to get to school on time. He doesn’t have a history test first period, or a chemistry quiz that he’s going to miss, but he knows he can’t be late. Instead, he has to face physical education teacher Dr. Anna Markova. Dr. Markova doesn’t think she’s harsh on her students. She just wants her students to recognize the importance of fitness. “I’m not really a strict teacher. It’s just that I care. I want all my students to comprehend what they are doing and how important it is,” Dr. Markova said. Dr. Markova has always valued fitness and well-being. Even as a child, Dr. Markova was always playing sports. She used to play volleyball and table tennis, run for track, and go skiing. She attributes this physical activity to the knowledge of how important the body is. “I compare maintaining your body to maintaining your car. When you don’t take care of it, you have to go to the repair shop all the time,” Dr. Markova said. “Eventually, if your
car gets damaged enough, you have to dump the car. Unfortunately, you can’t actually dump your body. You have to live with it your entire life.” Along with her passion for fitness, she’s wanted to be a teacher since high school. Dr. Markova has always wanted to spread her knowledge and really improve the lives of not only her students, but also the lives of those that she doesn’t teach, through her students.“It’s a very rewarding profession, and that’s why being a teacher is where I felt like my place really was.” After earning her Ph. D in the treatment of disabled patients, Dr. Markova was able to combine her dream profession with her greatest passion. She first taught physical education in Slovakia as a college professor. One day, one of Dr. Markova’s colleagues told her about the Department of Education’s International Program Exchange. It offered her a chance to teach in one of New York City’s public high schools. The program brought people from Europe to high schools in New York City in order to bring a new approach to education into the United States. When the Exchange eventually offered her a job to teach in New York City, she jumped. Dr. Markova explains that the decision to leave her home country was not an easy one. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anyone where I was going. I didn’t know who I was going to teach. I didn’t even know where I was going to live,” Dr. Markova said. Despite all of these uncertainties, Dr. Markova still decided to accept the opportunity to teach in the United States. She says that teaching in the United States helped her learn more about the variety of ways that physical education can be taught.
Improving her English was another important reason as to why she made her decision.“When you go to a conference, no matter where you go, even in a country like France, the conference language is always English,” Dr. Markova said. When she first taught in America, the Department of Education’s program only gave her a chance to teach at an underperforming school. She didn’t want to stay there for long. She hoped to teach in one of New York’s best schools. “In a school like Stuyvesant, the students can really use what we teach them and spread the wealth of education and good that they learn,” Dr. Markova said.
tually, the former Assistant Principal offered her a job. Even after achieving her goal, Dr. Markova is still not ready to settle in. She hopes that involving herself with the Stuyvesant community outside of just class will enable her to better promote wellbeing. Dr. Markova still coaches the girls’ track and field team at Stuyvesant and is very proud of her team. “All of my athletes are very driven. I really admire that they are able to manage school, other after school activities, and be able to commit so much time to the team. I don’t know how they do it,” Dr. Markova said. Dr. Markova is also the faculty advisor of The Wellness Council which hopes to make Stuyvesant
and you’ll be in a better mood most of the time,” Dr. Markova said. “This is why you see more corporations offering their employees wellness programs. They understand that if their employees are healthy, then they will be more productive and have better attendance.” Dr. Markova believes that another way to promote well-being to her students is to get them to enjoy it. She wants to give everyone the opportunity to really enjoy physical education by offering a larger variety of things to do and classes to take. ”We are moving from more traditional physical education classes to more unique ones like aerobic yoga, spinning, and [rollerblading],”
“The students here are the ones that need to be educated the most in wellness, because they are going to be helping to make this world better.” —Dr. Anna Markova, physical education teacher
After years of networking, Dr. Markova was able to find work teaching at Aviation High School. While teaching at Aviation, she applied to be the coach of Stuyvesant’s girls’ track and field team. She was accepted as a coach because of her previous experience coaching track and field in college and running on her school’s Track and Field team in high school. It was difficult for Dr. Markova to do this, because she had to make her way from Queens every day to coach for the team. Even-
a healthier place. At Stuyvesant, students tend to neglect their own health in place of academic success. “Students pile on a lot of school work just because they want to be successful on an academic level. They are forgetting about themselves and their wellbeing,” Dr. Markova said. Dr. Markova believes that neglecting our bodies inhibits our academic performance as well. She believes physical education and academic success go hand and hand. “After exercising, you’ll see that you have more energy,
Dr. Markova said. “We are introducing students to new things so that they can experience everything. [For example,] There are so many people who don’t know what spinning is, but they found out that they really do like it.” At the end of the day, Dr. Markova hopes that she can do her part in uplifting the student body. “The students here are the ones that need to be educated the most in wellness, because they are going to be helping to make this world better.”
Asian Melting Pot By Rachel An and Senjuti Gayen
At Stuyvesant, a school full of students with origins and ancestors from around the world roaming the hallways, different cultures are almost bound to mix. Looking at the sea of students at Stuyvesant, one can tell that a majority of the student body is Asian. However, what most overlook is that the term ‘Asian’ is just a word representing race, that represents a group of people from a single continent. Asia itself is made up of around 48 different countries, translating to at least 48 different cultures. According to the News article published in Volume 6 Issue CVII, “Deconstructing Race at Stuyvesant,” Stuyvesant represents 55 different countries, many of
“They [Asians] want to have fun, too!” —Zheng Chen, sophomore which are Asian countries, like China and the Philippines. Since the majority of the student body are Asians, students are exposed to a variety of Asian cultures. However, despite the individuality of each of the cultures present at Stuyvesant, stereotypes are still
present. Sophomore Zheng Chen summed it up, “Basically, everyone thinks that Asians are the ‘smart’ race that are better at academics, and they do everything […] and they have no time for fun.” If the stereotypes ring true, being Asian apparently entails being academically inclined, without having any spare time. Chen, in her own experience, has seen discrepancies in this assumption, “Not all Asians are smart, not all Asians spend their time studying.” Adamantly, Chen said, “They want to have fun, too!” Stereotypes are not always aimed at a single race, but also at specific ethnic groups. Chen shared experiences with stereotypes regarding her ethnicity, Chinese, saying that many people presume they are stingy with money. These cliches are spread even more through the media. Chen explained that most of the television shows she has seen depict Chinese characters as stingy or studious. Sophomore Noelle Gloria is from the Philippines, and in her own experience, she has noticed that stereotypes for Filipinos are different from the usual Asian stereotypes. “They’re more perceived as artistically talented people, like art, music, and entertainment,” she said, which is different from the usual preconceptions about Asians. Gloria has found truth in some of these Asian assumptions, but she felt that “Nowadays, people are taking these stereotypes to a different level, where the stereotypes are considered offensive.” Sometimes stereotypes may be insulting, yet other times, they could be regular punchlines. Gloria
believes that jokes or stereotypes have been crossing “the line [between being funny and being offensive] more and more.” On the other hand, sophomore Julia Lee believes Stuyvesant is open and accepting to all these different cultures.“Stuy is a smaller version of the real world with different cultures from different neighborhoods,” Lee said. “[Stuyvesant students have become] really great at overcoming the barrier of being culturally diverse and aren’t judgmental based on one’s background.” Despite the existence of various stereotypes that we are subconsciously alert to, we try our best to be open-minded, to embrace all cultures. Being exposed to all the different Asian backgrounds, the viewpoints that one forms seem to depend on the appeal of the cultures. From Chinese to South Asian to Korean culture, some are more easily embraced than others. The interest in these various Asian cultures seems to stem from one’s curiosity and the popular aspects of the culture, like music or entertainment, in both the larger society and among peers at Stuyvesant. “I feel like I’m more inclined towards Korean and Japanese culture, which are more well known. For me, I think that’s because you hear a lot about how, say, Japan is a lot more innovative and really cool, and Korea has K-pop and is very approachable,” Gloria said. Similarly, junior Michelle Yang compared Chinese culture to Korean culture.“There are more aspects of Korean culture that seem more appealing, making it more preferable towards the vast majority of people. For example, Korean music and en-
tertainment have been a very big interest lately and it leads to a deeper [curiosity] in Korean culture. Chinese music is less well known in comparison, and because of it, Chinese culture
“Stuy is a smaller version of the real world” —Julia Lee, sophomore
doesn’t gain the same interest,” she said. A reason for this is due to China’s widely varied culture. “China is very large, and each region has a culture of its own; it makes it harder for people to embrace Chinese culture because of the very fact that there is a lot for them to learn,” Yang explained. The publicized aspects of the culture are not the only way one may be exposed to a culture and gain interest in it. Most become aware and gain knowledge of the culture through the influence of their friends, when they are introduced to the arts or entertainment values of that country. “When I was very young, all my classmates watched Japanese animes, and I started watching it pretty late than the others did,” Chen expressed. “I like anime because it’s an escape from reality,
like the settings, the characters, the different words, and it’s just so exciting.” Having the ability to connect with others through different cultures allows people to share a common interest and become more immersed in a culture. Similar to Chen, Lee gained more interest in different cultures, especially Chinese culture, through her friends. She explained, “Lately, I’ve been starting to pick up bits of Mandarin from my friends and have been practicing speaking a few words. It’s fun, and I enjoy learning new things from them.” Despite the influence that the spread of culture through friends or society may have, the way one views a culture ultimately depends on one’s own personal preference and interests. While the characteristics of a culture may appeal to one person, it may not for someone else. Sophomore Raisa Khuda stated, “How interesting one finds some aspect of a culture shapes how that person views the culture as a whole compared to the other seemingly less interesting cultures.” In other terms, one’s opinions and acceptance of a culture come down to the individuals themselves. Stuyvesant’s diversity encourages students to be curious and inclined to embrace different cultures through finding one’s own personal interests in the culture and sharing it with others. We are naturally curious, and having a diverse student body gives students a launchpad for discovery, as well as a basis for friendships. Despite the distinct upbringings we come from, Stuyvesant students have used their differing cultures as a way of unification.
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Features Teachers’ First Time Teaching By the features department Walking into a classroom on the first day of school and trying to impress a new teacher can be daunting. But what students often forget is that our teachers, no matter how experienced or at ease in front of a class, have had to start somewhere. Here are some of their stories.
Allison Barber (English)
Marianne Prabhu (Biology)
“I was nervous, I was overwhelmed, but at the end of the day, I realized that everybody here is so kind and so sweet, and they made me feel so welcome. At first, I think I was overwhelmed by how intelligent all of the students are, and I realized that’s not something to be afraid of; it’s a thing that’s amazing to have in the classroom.”
Jessica Quenzer (Biology) “I started teaching in Stuy in 2011, so I’m in my 6th year right now. My very first class at Stuyvesant was junior bio for second period, and it was in room 715. I remember it because when I walked into the class, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was so happy and grateful to be at Stuyvesant, and I was also hoping that the kids would like me.
Catherine Yu/ The Spectator
I’m there and I’m ready for the students to come in, and the first student to walk in was a boy wearing a My Neighbor Totoro t-shirt. I recognized the shirt, he was happy that I knew it, and I was like, ‘Okay, I belong here, I’m going to get along with everybody here.’ And then the next kid came in, and he was happy to see me. The first student who walked in was Curtis, and the next student who walked in was Steve, and we immediately hit it off, and then other students were streaming in and were also just happy to be at school, we were all happy to be at school. Later on in the day, I had another section during eighth period, and one of the students, Damien, came in wearing a Doctor Who shirt, and so it was just like―okay, we’re on the same wavelength here, I can connect with these students, I can interact with them, this is gonna be good! And they all like bio, I hope! Some of them, I’m still in touch with to this day; they’ll send me emails about how they’re doing in college and stuff.” “I’ve always had good first days of school. My birthday’s usually around the first day of school, and I’ve always liked school. I mean, obviously, I’m a teacher, and I’m still here, but I like it. [The first day] I had one student who came in and was like, ‘I’m really sorry, I’m going to take notes in a little bit, [but right now] I’m going to bedazzle my shirt.’ He was bedazzling his shirt in the back of the room, and it was my first week of teaching, and I really didn’t know what to do. I was like, I guess I’m just going to have to let this happen because I really don’t know what to do. No teaching class ever teaches you what to do when a kid starts bedazzling his shirt at the back of the room.”
I asked, “Do they still have the shirts?” and Ms. Quenzer replied, “Probably!”
Mark Henderson (English) “I remember I taught my first class, which was much longer than the classes here. It was an hour and fifteen minutes, and I got to the end of it and was like, ‘I did it!’ I was so relieved I did it, and I looked at the clock, and I realized that in another half an hour, I had to do it again! It was just so terrifying.”
Eric Grossman (AP of English)
Thomas Strasser (Physics)
“When I think of my first day of teaching, I really think of my first day student-teaching here. The official teacher, [Debbie Schmitt], introduced me to the class, and she sat down in the back of the room. Then, I came up to the front of the room. I was so nervous and out of my depth that I don’t really know what happened for that period. My vision tunneled to a pinprick. I may have just swayed and hummed for the period. I’m pretty sure I handed out the syllabus and we read it together and I said some things and probably passed out index cards and got kids’ names. I just felt totally out of my depth. The one thing that I took from that is that I would have to get better really quickly because I couldn’t sustain days like that for very long. It feels like learning to drive. When you first get behind the wheel, you’ve never done it before, and you’re aware of and uncertain about every move you make, or at least I was. I was like, okay, I’m going to look out the rear view mirror now. Now I’m putting on my left-turn signal. Teaching felt analogous to that: I’m going to hand this out now; okay, I’m going to step to the left side of the room. After a while, both in driving and in teaching, those kind of things become fluid and second nature. You integrate them. It’s not that you don’t think about what you’re doing, and it’s not that there aren’t moments where you’re much more conscious of it, but the basic business of getting through the structural aspect of a class becomes second nature to you. None of that was in place on day one.”
Dr. Lisa Greenwald (Social Studies) Sarah Chen/ The Spectator
“My story isn’t that funny, but I think it highlights the poor training that the DOE provides to new teachers without distinction for academic milieu or teacher―call it non-differentiated instruction. It was the first six months or so of my high school teaching career, and a kindly, retired teacher who had been assigned to me as a mentor by the DOE dropped by and saw me about once every 4-6 weeks. One day, [she] made a strong suggestion that I use stickers to inspire my students. I remember swallowing hard, not wanting to offend, and not wanting to seem so arrogant that I couldn’t take advice, especially as I sought advice from all quarters. But stickers? They seemed so demeaning and so grade-school. She assured me that students loved stickers and that they worked miracles―inspiring students every day. She brought me some and insisted I try the stickers. I remember walking up and down the aisles of the classroom putting stickers in the notebook pages of each of my students―’super!’ ‘good job!’ ‘good work!’—and wondering how I was going to continue to teach high school if I had to do that every day. PS: When I tell current students this story, their response is invariably, ’but I love stickers!’ Go figure…”
Victor Greez (Social Studies) “There’s a Bob Dylan song that goes, ‘I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.’ When I was young, I wanted to look old to my students, so I had a big beard and wore a tie, and I wore these old-man corduroy pants, and so forth. I really kept a barrier, and I feel that, 30 years later, I’m so much younger now. The students made a lot of fun of me on first day because I wrote so enormously on the board, and people thought I was crazy.”
“I don’t really remember my first day of teaching, so I cannot really answer that because I really wouldn’t know. I went to school in Austria, and teacher education works totally differently there, so the reason I can’t really remember my first day of teaching is because there was not really a first day of teaching because you’re sliding into it, it’s not like you’re done with college and then you teach, so that’s why I don’t really remember, because even as a student, you already teach. What I do remember is that on my first day as a teacher [in America], they gave me a program that had everything from earth science classes to physics classes on it. It was a little strange that a physics teacher was allowed to teach a different subject because that would totally be illegal in Austria. The whole first week was totally strange for me; just the fact that you have to stay in class and new students come in is puzzling for me, because in Austria, it works the other way around; the students stay in their class, and the teachers rotate and walk around. Most people don’t realize if you only grow up in one educational system, you just have no idea how different it could be in other places, and if you start in a different place, it’s quite strange, because a lot of things you just take for granted are totally not straightforward and obvious to people who are not growing up in the system.”
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Features Vito Bonsignore (English): “My very first day teaching was a mix of a disaster, more or less. It was a mixed bag, as a starting teacher―I needed to develop a sense of confidence, which would come with time and not on the first day. At the same time, I wanted desperately to succeed, but this would also come with time. I learned the first thing a teacher should do is bond with the students. The rest follows: confidence, trust, and learning. There’s a give and take as it gets better with every day. At the end of a week, it gets better. At the end of a month, you’ve learned everyone’s names, learned students’ peculiar interests, the ways they look at you, and their responses. Before you know it, they are in the palm of your hand. As long as you feed them your energy and accept what they give you, you are in the game. And the game is a winner because the students will appreciate your efforts in wanting them to learn. [On the first day], I wouldn’t say I wasn’t shaking in my boots, but I was pretty close to it. You are given an offer and a responsibility in a classroom. You need to make the students feel safe, appreciated, and loved, because what brings the student and teacher together is love of learning. Otherwise, no one would be there! The book, the words, the concepts, the feelings. I started teaching English in Middle school, for seventh and eighth graders in the South Bronx. The student population was challenging, not as focused on learning as Stuyvesant students, who are driven to excel. The challenge was reaching students to get them to the book, to get them to appreciate the word. Many did not have a strong interest. Anna Yuan/ The Spectator
The first day―and in fact, most of the semester―was spent disciplining students in seventh grade. They were little, jumping around, distracted and excited. As Frank McCourt said, ‘You need to get them to behave, to listen, and then they can learn.’ After six years teaching middle school, I had the desire to move to different kind of teaching. I chose the high school system, which suited me better. You can reach students on a higher level when they are older. They have exponential intellectual, emotional growth. The feelings expressed in their writing and speech is magnificent.”
Sau Ling Chan: Daring to Fail By Thibaud Roy
memorable from the students who did not do well in my class.” Chan’s most embarrassing moment as a teacher came when a student of hers expressed strongly to her in front of the class that Chan was at fault for her bad test grade. “When you’re young, your ego tends to be very big. When you get older, you become more humble,” Chan said. At first, Chan was angered that the student would fault her for her own test. “It’s the adults that have the problem, not the students. The same student that got upset at me before bumped into me and was the first to say ‘good morning’ [the next day]. I was the one who was still holding a grudge,” she explained. Chan learned from this and focused on making herself better at guiding students. She realized that the students are a reflection of the teacher. “I want the students to have fun and be challenged while they’re learning. Doing both is not easy, because what is challenging is not always perceived as fun,” Chan said. Moving on from teaching at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, Chan taught at a research program for 11 years. “I had school leaders who trusted in my work and would let me do whatever it takes to raise the program,” she said. “My favorite part was the field work. It is a huge challenge, but it is a lot of fun. The students come together, and you get to see the fun side of them.” Speaking about how she taught the students, Chan explained how her teaching process had changed: “I used to think that if it was a biology class, then you had to do a research paper within biology. But then I learned from my former assistant principal that ‘No, why don’t you open up completely and let the kids choose. Let them decide.’” Chan kept these ideas with her and continues to follow the advice. With Stuyvesant students, she had to adjust her teaching style. “Working with a group of talented and gifted students like [Stuyvesant students], you have to get to know your students first. For instance, you need to find out how much they already know. I emphasize connecting with my students. I try to get my students to laugh a little bit at the start of the lesson, because regardless of what I’m trying to teach, I’m interacting with humans,” Chan said. “The knowledge that you get in class, though it is important, it may not be something you necessarily need down the road. But, by getting to know the person who is standing in front of you, you get a broader picture.” Five years ago, she started her own non-profit organization called International Research Experiences Inc. She takes students to conduct research all over the world and forms collaborations with scientists from different universities to assist the students in their research. She
Kaia Waxenberg/ The Spectator
During third period, as students rush to get to class, they bump into biology and AP Psychology teacher Sau Ling (Charlene) Chan pushing her cluttered black cart. She smiles warmly at the students and continues to walk towards her next class. She is always dressed in business attire, and her thin, flowing, black hair bounces in rhythm with her confident gait. Without her cart clearing this large path, it may have been hard to spot her in the crowded hallway because of her small stature. However, if students are in either her Advanced Topics biology or AP Psychology class, they know to look for her and never forget the lasting impression she makes on them every day. Chan has only taught at Stuyvesant for about nine months, but already, her impact at Stuyvesant is evident. From a distance, her formal nature and precision with her actions and words may make her appear very serious. However, when a student spends five minutes talking to her, they will find that their initial impression was wrong. Chan enjoys telling interesting stories from her fascinating career as a teacher and research program director. She is an understanding and kind person, and her intriguing personality has her students looking forward to attending her classes. When Chan was in school, she always did well, acing all of her classes with top marks. “My parents tried to sway me to go into medicine, as is common among Asian communities,” Chan said. Yet Chan always wanted to be a teacher. “When I was young, I still remember playing with my younger cousins at home, where I would roleplay being the teacher, and they would be the students. It was a lot of fun,” she said. While attending New York University, she had a difficult time deciding what to pursue. After two years, she was forced to make a decision on what her major would be. With such a critical decision placed on her shoulders, she suffered from a lot of psychological turmoil as she questioned who she wanted to become. Chan knew that she wanted to go into teaching, but out of respect for her parents, she decided to put more consideration into being a doctor. She took pre-Med classes that were geared towards taking the MCAT, a standardized test that is required for admission into most medical schools. They were advanced math and science classes, and she took them because she thought that by taking these courses, she would benefit regardless of whether she became a teacher or a doctor. Making her decision was further complicated because she had never had any experience with either ca-
reer. Chan lamented on the fact that there were not as many internship possibilities as there are now, so she was not able to truly see what she enjoyed doing at the time. Fortunately, Chan finally heard about an opportunity to volunteer at a hospital. On the day that the application was due, a nurse at the hospital checked over her vaccine record and told her that she was missing a booster shot, so she would have to go to the doctor again. Chan said, “I thought to myself, ‘I’m volunteering, and yet you ask so much of me.’ I was actually upset.” After leaving the hospital, Chan realized that the nurse actually did not ask for much. It dawned on her that she was simply overreacting because she did not have a real interest in being a medical doctor. Her parents understood her decision to not continue pursuing this career path. “My parents always tried to be diplomatic. They weren’t entirely surprised. They weren’t exactly entirely happy with it, because they thought that, you know, I could have a different lifestyle,” she said laughing. “Now, I think they are very proud.” Chan fully embraced teaching once she was given the chance. During her her junior year at NYU, she was hired to teach by the elementary school she went to. She loved teaching the students and found that it was easy for her to spend late nights grading because she truly enjoyed what she did. Chan was noticed for her talent as a teacher and was accepted into the Columbia Summer Science program. She humbly acknowledged that it was rare for someone like her, with so little teaching experience at the time, to be accepted into the program. The program is highly prestigious, allowing only 10 teachers from the whole city per year into it. During her second summer at the program, Chan got a scholarship at NYU, where she was able to get her masters degree. Even now, as a teacher at Stuyvesant, with all the grading she has to do, Chan is still enthralled by teaching.”The students here are extremely intelligent; teaching them is a continuous challenge. For example, they bring up some things I have never heard of, and it motivates me to let me go and research it. That’s really cool,” Chan said. “You form a relationship. It would make me happy to see [the students] excel beyond what I was able to achieve as a student and then as an adult. That’s what we need in society. Where else can we find this group of students, than at Stuy.” Her first job teaching was at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics in 1996. “It was a steep learning curve; you make all your rookie mistakes. My first year was very hard because teachers have to write all of their own lesson plans, and you have to write your own exams.” Chan said. “I learned a lot my first year, and it was most
has taken students to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, the Netherlands, Malaysia, and Cambodia. She and the students spend time in forests and labs collecting research while collaborating with experts in the field. When asked about the time she spent on these programs, her eyes lit up and asked if I wanted to see some footage of her and the students in action. Her favorite memory was when she was leading a program in a forest in Vietnam. Her group consisted of her, her American students, a videographer, a professor from Columbia, a professor from Vietnam, and Vietnamese students, who received scholarships to come on the trip. “We’re literally working in the forest, where we have to hire a forest ranger to hold a machete to open rows for us, with the rain pouring down on you, your shoes all wet, and it’s truly unforgettable,” she said. Chan did not feel the need to have children of her own at that time, because she felt that her students were her own by proxy. At one of her first teaching jobs, Chan realized that one of the students in her class was having family issues and could not afford tuition. Chan offered to pay for her, which would have cost nearly 80% of Chan’s salary per month. Despite the student saying no, this shows how Chan does not see teaching as a job, but more of a calling. Now, Chan has her own toddler named Quentin. She does find it difficult balancing teaching and taking care of her son. She wants to spend more time poring over research and new discoveries. “[However] when you’re a parent, you have a huge responsibility of nurturing them,”
Chan continued. “As a teacher, you’re sometimes asked about your teaching philosophy, you know, what do you think is the most important thing to be taught. But the same is true about being a parent, what kind of parent do I want to become, how will I achieve that without imposing it on someone else. That’s challenging.” Chan’s worst fear is not being able to meet the expectations she places on herself. She has been able to achieve everything she has wanted in her career up until this point. She attributes her success to her willingness to try new things and her resilience. She wants her life to be fun and adventurous. But, with a child, she is finding it harder to be adventurous with someone dependent on her. She expressed her concern on finding a happy medium. “How do you maintain a career, elevate those around you, the students in my case, and my non-profit work, while I’m raising a child?” she said. Looking towards the future, Chan is excited for her summer. She wants to gain perspective on her first year teaching at Stuyvesant, and she wants to figure out ways to improve on how she taught. She also wants to integrate more Stuyvesant students into her non-profit research program. She is looking for ways to gain financial assistance for students, so that more students can travel abroad for the program. Her message to Stuyvesant students is to not become wrapped up in grades as the defining trait for success in life. Instead, it is much more important to dare to think bigger. An enriched life is one with intense dedication to finding your passion.
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Features The Glittery Gangster: A Conversation with Ms.Genkina By Paulina Klubok and Farah Alam Sunlight streamed into Room 325, quiet and airy as we walked in on a Friday afternoon. With her usual effortless cheerfulness, she was laughing with a student as they planned an upcoming computer science event. Putting everyone at ease with her excitement and bright smile, computer science teacher Yulia Genkina can be found bouncing around the third floor, endlessly busy, but always optimistic. With a myriad of unexpected passions and professions, Genkina is an amazingly multi-talented individual, whose colorful life is a clear reflection of her unique charisma and character.
supposed to kind of run them like your own business, because it was like a business school, so I had like a business training younger kids to be in like an econ competition, but I was a poor kid in a private school, you know, so I still kept my gangster vibes and was very aggressive and like, ‘No, you don’t understand me.’
What extracurriculars were you in? I had a band in Russia in high school, and it was like a small school, so everyone knew that I could sing. So they were like, ‘Let’s make a band,’ so we made a band, and it was like a rock band, and I was supposed to learn how to scream on stage and I did. We
this society and this system that it’s really just an image at this point.
and who decided that you should come to the United States? Why?
I wanted to leave Russia in high school. I looked at colleges in Europe; I didn’t wanna go to the States—I have too many relatives here, and woah—but Europe doesn’t have scholarships, and my dad said, ‘we’re not paying for your school,’ because school in Russia is free, so I eventually found a school in Russia that works with a school in the U.S., so I figured that’s where I was gonna be going.
glitter on my chair every time I got up and a trail of glitter on the floor every time I walked. I loved it. No one said what I could and couldn’t wear, I mean the teachers did tell me, but who cares what they think, because clearly, they’re wrong.
were in a circus. drew you into that?
So I was in a small town, and the circus was in town, and they had so many after school programs, like the unicycle club, and they were friends with the music store where I worked and where I met my husband, so I got involved just kind of through that community. They taught me how to unicycle, how to juggle, and
was life like growing
a child, what were your dreams and goals for the future?
I was going to be a gangster in Russia because that was the cool thing to do, but I realized, being a girl, it’s not really an ambition you could have there. You gotta be a dude to be a gangster. Then, I wanted to explore art history, to just live in museums, tour museums, and tour cities and go to different cities and look at architecture and things like that. Then, I wanted to be a singer. I was in a band and everything, like I was really into that. And then I wanted to leave the country so bad, so I was like fine, I’ll do math, because only immigrants that know math things and science things are really welcome here. So I was like, ‘yeah, I know math.’ And I got here, and then, I decided that I would do math for a little bit and then I’ll still do art history and history of religion, and then I just ended up in math. You know, all over the place.
there a particular hob-
by you are most passionate about?
I love working in the theater. I love hands-on things, like I love fixing things or breaking things and decorating things. I kind of just bounce around different activities. I just like doing a lot things, you know like sometimes I’ll sit down and sew a skirt.
have you continued your talents/interests today as a teacher and outside of school?
did you teach before
I did just a little bit; I did student-teaching in the South Bronx for a semester, in the Bronx Academy of Letters. That was cool; I really liked it, and then other stuff, it wasn’t like teaching 30 kids teaching, it was like tutoring and teaching small groups and stuff like that, it doesn’t really count.
How did you end up teaching at Stuy? I didn’t know what to do with my life, [for] a career, and I needed to decide something before I got deported; I needed to find a job that was a solid contribution to society, the United States, and there aren’t enough math teachers, so I decided I was gonna go teach math, but I didn’t like teaching math here because it wasn’t like Russia, and I liked the Russian way more. And then computer science came along, and I was like, ‘that sounds fun, that sounds more relatable, so I just did that.”
role did your parents play in your goals?
Definitely the idea that I’m a gangster. My dad just decided that’s how he would raise me. I was raised by my father mostly, and he’s a tough guy, a tough Russian guy, and fed me all these stories about the gangster life, and I said to myself, ‘Yeah, I’m totally down for that.’ But it was weird, because he was definitely also not, he just thinks that he is. [It was] this world of illusion, that just because I live in a poor neighborhood, I have to be this way.
was that transition like for you, going into teaching?
We don’t have high school in Russia; we have like a school school and only the last two years count as high school, and for that, I got a scholarship to go to a private high school, even though I was like an average C, B student, but they were like, ‘Hey, you’re active and energetic—you should come here. We’re gonna give you a scholarship.’ So, I was on a debate team on TV; I was playing basketball; I was causing all sorts of trouble. It started at 10 in the morning, which was amazing, but it ended at 10 pm because of all the afterschool activities that you were required to do. You’re
Frankly, teaching just eats up your life. But I try when I teach students I’m like, ‘oh do you guys want to learn how to juggle?’ It’s literally the only opportunity I get to like practice continue this activity. It’s nice to see students doing, like I have one student who comes in and juggles all the time, and it’s like I’m practicing through watching her. My husband reminds me to play an instrument now. We just bought a piano, then like he’s like, ‘Why don’t you practice the piano,’ and I’m like, ‘I will.’
Growing up as an adult is much different than growing up as a child. I grew up in Russia, so it’s very different from here. I played with things that children aren’t allowed to play with here, like sticks with rusty nails, and I killed rats. It was fun; I was mostly outside all the time skipping school.
was your high school experience like? How different was it from the typical high school experience of a Stuyvesant student or any student today?
want to; that’s it. I mean, there’s math in it, and it makes total sense, but it’s the one thing I don’t wanna invest my time in.
Sarah Chen/ The Spectator
were doing covers on Cranberry’s stuff and like songs about zombies. Then, my husband and I had a band, and it was completely different, and we had like old-timey music, like country music with a guitar and a violin.
did that influence who you are today?
Honestly, I don’t know. What I tell my teachers, who I barely keep in contact with because I was an awful student, is that ‘Oh, I’m a teacher now,’ and they’re like, ‘What? Somebody let you near children?’ Maybe I grew up with a full sense of rebelliousness that I feel like I still have, but I really don’t. I feel like [rebelliousness] is too much integrated into
did it feel like when coming to the United States?
I was excited. I didn’t really feel very at home in Russia. Like on the one hand I did, but on the other hand, I didn’t quite fit in with the way things were going. Like I always wore bright colors. Places like Petersburg had people who mainly wore gray colors, so I didn’t quite fit in with my colors and my smile. I didn’t choose this personality; I think a part of it was my rebelliousness, and since my dad raised me, he didn’t really have a sense of style, so I experimented a lot with my clothes. Like, I remember in 7th grade, I wore this really pink, sparkly dress that would leave a pile of
then they were looking for volunteers, and I had worked at the theater for a few years before that doing lights mostly and some sound, and I was like, ‘I can do all these things. Sign me up,’ so I volunteered for them.
What work did you do in the circus? I [volunteered] backstage, so bringing out swords that would be swallowed onto the stage, or if there are props that need to be brought out, or lights and sound, just backstage, backhand stuff.
I was like super scared for the first day or year or two, but I’m used to audiences because working in different places, I’m comfortable talking to so many people. [But it still makes sense to be nervous because] English is not my first language, and I mix words up, and I’m still afraid to say stupid stuff, and when you’re standing up in front of a bunch of people singing a song you’ve rehearsed a million times, it is very different.
How do you incorporate your creativity into your teaching? I try. I’m still beginning in my career, so in the beginning, you try to follow all the standards, and then every year, I add in something new.
do you feel about the
culture at Stuy?
Can you solve a Rubix cube? No, not gonna learn. I don’t
continued on page 9
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Features The Glittery Gangster: A Conversation with Ms.Genkina continued from page 9
Honestly, I’m worried about it. On the surface, it looks fabulous, but the longer you’re here, the more you realize that the people are nice here because you’re a teacher. God forbid, you’re a school aid or janitor. Like right away, there’s no respect. People are only nice to each other because they’re in a classroom, but outside, all kinds of stuff go on. There’s not enough drive to fix this environment, and there’s no guidance for you guys as students as to why these things are happening or how to fix them,
and we as teachers don’t see it, or we just take it as, ‘oh, we don’t have to deal with discipline, so we’re not going to pay attention to the small things,’ but these small things accumulate into big problems.
of contact there, so I’m hoping to run that event a couple of times a year in the future and reach out to schools that are underrepresented, low-income middle schools. There are smart kids everywhere that definitely deserve to be at Stuy, and this school does not represent the demographics of the city at all, and to help fix that or slowly change that, I hope that this event will help. So I’m just starting, and obviously, if there’s some comments I hear in class, I think it’s enough. Like for example, some people just throw around the word ‘racist’ like it’s a joke, and just, you can’t do that with a word. So I think I’ve made
How do you try to challenge the elitist culture at Stuy? Actually, we just had our first Cyber Stuy event to try to [diversify comp sci] a little bit, and it just did not address that at all, because it was the first time we ran it, and we didn’t reach out to the right schools, but I made a lot
enough pauses in class and comments about that so people don’t do it in my class anymore, but I’m convinced that when they come out of the classroom, they’re still gonna use the word. I can do what I can in my classroom, but beyond that, it’s kind of hard.
Do you wish you worked in a less hyper-competitive environment? Um, no, I like it. Every place has its challenges, so if I go to a less competitive environment, there’s gonna be a million other problems. It’s gonna be the same amount of energy invested into making or try-
ing to make any sort of change.
you ever want to start up or do your previous professions again? Do you miss them?
I want to get back to playing music definitely. It was lots of fun, plus we would play out in the restaurants and get free food and drinks. It’s a nice sort of break in like this happy world of music. It was just a nice atmosphere. I like a nice atmospheres where people are just relaxing and enjoying themselves, which is really hard to find in New York City.
NEED A TUTOR?
WHERE LEADERS EMERGE
Teen Resource Center
ᾄ ࿋ ⎠ ݰ㚗 ⅼ ό ႇ
TRC: (212) 226-2044 Pediatrics Dept: (212) 226-3888
Ȉ Getting Into Top Colleges Ȉ How to Write Winning College Essays Ȉ Leadership Development for High School Students ivy.gl/stuyseminars
Ȉ 99th Percentile Instructors Ȉ Small Classes Ȉ Real Practice Tests ivy.gl/stuyclasses
New York, NY
Recent Matriculations Brown University (13) Columbia University (13) Cornell University (22) Dartmouth College (17) Duke University (3)
Harvard University (29) Princeton University (18) UPenn (15) Yale University (15)
And many more...
College Application Help and Essays
Learn more about our consulting services and 1-to-1 essay help at ivyglobal.com/consulting
White Plains, NY
All levels. All levels. Study Skills, Study Skills and Strategies Strategies Taught.Taught. Dr. Jeffrey Liss Dr. Jeffrey Liss, Ph.D.
Ivy Global SAT
Ph.D.| History Math | English Provides Outstanding SAT in| ACT | SHSAT Tutoring Math, English, History, Regents SAT, ACT, SHSAT, Regents.
Silicon Valley, CA
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Editorials Staff Editorial
Coming Out From Under Stuyvesant’s Workload Every night, students come home after extracurricular activities and an often exhausting commute from school. Many face the issue of not having enough time to finish all their work in one night while also getting a suitable amount of sleep. They wake up with heavy eyes and begin to memorize Spanish vocabulary words as they brush their teeth. They finish their reading while being squashed between people on the train, and then tiredly enter the school building. While keeping an eye on their teachers, many students resort to quickly finishing their leftover homework under their desks. As the final bell rings, they trudge out of school prepared to repeat the process again. With the incredible pressure to achieve, students look for shortcuts: copying homework, cutting classes, and even cheating on exams. Motivation erodes as intimidating, make-or-break assignments pile on top of each other, causing many to put off the most important tasks until the last minute. A vicious cycle begins, in which a mounting workload makes students even more anxious, encouraging even more procrastination, and eventually taking a serious toll on physical and mental health. Many teachers ignore the time guidelines for homework altogether. Non-AP classes are not supposed to assign more than 30 minutes of homework a night, and AP classes should not be more than an hour — an estimate that should be based on the average student, rather than the teacher’s ideal. But these guidelines are rarely upheld by many teachers. Stuyvesant also has test day policies in place: Each subject is assigned a certain day for administering exams. Using “Quests” or heavily weighted quizzes to circumvent this policy undermines the workload and schedule of Stuyvesant students and ignores the efforts of the student body and administration to relieve mounting pressure. The same goes for assigning final projects due during already stressful periods, like AP week.
Many of the problems with workload stem from a flawed perspective on homework and grading. Much of the homework assigned is busy work. A 30 minute time suggestion for homework doesn’t mean teachers should feel a responsibility to give students 30 minutes’ worth of monotonous practice with straightforward concepts. Some teachers, such as Chemistry teacher Jeffrey Kivi, have found, over the years, that giving homework does not heavily influence test grades in their subject. We encourage experimentation with this on a departmental level to figure out exactly how much homework actually makes a difference for students’ learning. Certain classes also weigh tests heavily. This issue is especially prevalent within STEM subjects. While this is difficult to address because it raises the question of how to best assess student knowledge, we encourage teachers to seek more holistic methods of assessment. In math, for example, more of a focus on graded group work, randomly collected from a student in the group, could better value the efforts of each student by forcing collaboration through challenging problems. We also propose that if a class weighs tests and quizzes as more than 50 percent of the final grade, test corrections should be allowed for every test in order to earn back partial credit. This would both reward the efforts of struggling students and soften the risk of basing a student’s grade for several weeks of work on a single day. Moreover, students would also be encouraged to learn concepts that they didn’t fully grasp before the test. Generally, empathy for the priorities and schedules of students at Stuyvesant is rare. Teachers who assign homework over the break, particularly projects, undermine the purpose of a break. School-wide events like SING! week, or various band and chorus concerts, are time-consuming, but not a waste of time. If a teacher is not willing to forego giving homework on nights like these, he or she should at least grant extensions on work
due the next day to participating students. At Stuyvesant, giving homework creates a dilemma for students: your grade or your sleep schedule. It is also difficult to catch up after missing a day of school. Students are often reluctant to take a day off due to physical or mental illness because they worry that their workload, built up by makeup classwork and homework, will become unmanageable. Teachers are not always understanding about absences, and a paralyzing fear of being left behind causes many students to ignore their health and attend school no matter the circumstances. When students beg their teachers to accommodate their absences in the case of illness or a trip, or to give an extension due to personal difficulties, teachers should not be dismissive and tell the student that it is their own doing. Students are frequently told that they came to Stuyvesant to work hard and succeed, and thus should withstand the intense workload without complaint. However, the severity and length of an illness is never within a person’s control, and extracurricular activities play a key role in a student’s high school experience, just as grades do. Many teachers are also inflexible in offering students more personal assistance. Only meeting with students during specific periods, and refusing to accommodate those who cannot make inconvenient office hours, makes it difficult to seek assistance in the learning process. A little flexibility would go a long way. Along with this comes responding to emails, an important medium for making teachers accessible; typing a short message shouldn’t be an inconvenience. Teachers ask their students to understand that they have lives outside of their jobs. However, we pose the same request to our teachers: we are teenagers who also want to stay healthy, and even enjoy our last moments of youth before we jump into the real world.
The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
“The Pulse of the Student Body” E DITOR S
Anne George* Matteo Wong* N ews
Ed i to rs
Nishmi Abeyweera Shameek Rakshit Blythe Zadrozny F eature s
Ed i to rs
Archi Das Asim Kapparova Sophie Watwood* O pi ni o ns
Ed i to rs
Jane Rhee Eliza Spinna S p orts
Ed i to rs
Ray Jones Sam Merrick Max Onderdonk* h u mo r
Ed i to rs
Kerwin Chen Shaina Peters Michael Xu* Please address all letters to: 345 Chambers Street New York, NY 10282 (212) 312-4800 ext. 2601 email@example.com
Arts & En t e r t a i nm e n t Ed i to rs
Karen Chen* Sophie Feng Eliana Kavouriadis Photo gra phy Ed i to rs
Ting Ting Chen Julia Lee Mika Simoncelli Art
Di re cto rs
Klaire Geller Christine Jegarl Vivian Lin L ayo ut
Ed i to rs
Arpita Nag Jessica Wu Katie Wu Co py
Ed i to rs
Vincent Jiang Michelle Lai Venus Nnadi Busi ne ss
M anag e r s
Saloni Majmudar Donia Tung We b
Ed i to rs
Jason Kao George Zheng F ac u l t y
Kerry Garfinkel We reserve the right to edit letters for clarity and length. © 2017 The Spectator All rights reserved by the creators. * Managing Board
A Note to Our Readers: The Spectator will now accept unsolicited Op-Ed pieces written by outside students, faculty, and alumni. These columns, if selected, will be published in The Spectator’s Opinions section. Recommended length is 700 words. Articles should address school related topics or items of student interest. Columns can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you want to reflect on an article? Or speak your mind? Write a letter to the editor and e-mail it to email@example.com or drop it in The Spectator box in the second-floor mail room.
Where Does the Time Really Go? We asked students to send us a rundown of their day between the end of school and the beginning of first period. Here’s what we found out:
3:35 pm - 4:15 pm: Transit to upper east side 4:15 pm - 6:30 pm: internship 6:30 pm - 7:10 pm: transit to penn station 7:10 pm - 8:30 pm: get home 8:30 pm - 9:00 pm: eat and youtube
9:00 pm - 12:00 am: hw and emails 12:00 am - 12:30 am: facebook and shower 12:30 am - 1:30 am: review/do stuff due later in the week 1:30 am -1:45 am: listen to music 1:45 am - 2:00 am: get everything settled and ready to sleep continued on page 15
2:00 am - 2:15 am: look at facebook and be sad about sleep deprivation 2:15 am - 6:00 am: sleep 6:00 am - 6:35 am: wake up and get things ready 6:35 am - 7:35 am: commute
VOICES Would you like to share a personal narrative with the school? Whether it’s an essay you’ve written for class, or a piece you’ve been working on by yourself, if it’s in first-person and it is nonfiction it could get published in The Spectator’s issue-ly Voices column! Send your stories into firstname.lastname@example.org, or email us with any questions or concerns you have.
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Opinions Where Does the Time Really Go? Junior
continued from page 14
6:00-10:00: Do hw, study for SAT 2 Physics, study for AP Human Geography 10:00-10:30: Eat dinner 10:30-12:00: Take a break, rest, go on my phone and scroll through Facebook or Instagram 12:00-6:30: SLEEP! 6:30-6:45: Get ready, change clothes, take shower 6:50-7:10: Take Q31 from Jamaica Estates (Utopia Pkwy/80th Rd) to Jamaica LIRR (Archer Ave) 7:15-7:35: Take the Jamaica LIRR to 34 St- PENN STATION 7:35-7:45: Take the 2/3 to Chambers St 7:45-7:50: Walk to Stuyvesant High School
12:30 am - 1:00 am: getting ready for bed/social media 1:00 am - 6:00 am: sleep 6:00 am - 7:00 am: shower and hearty breakfast 7:00 am - 8:00 am: getting to school
9:30 pm - 11:30 pm: hw 11:30 pm- 12 am: shower and night routine 12:00 am - 6:00 am: sleep 6:00 am - 8:00 am: commute to school
3:35-3:45: Hang out on the half floor and wait for all my friends to come down, so we can all take the train home 3:45-3:50: Walk from Stuyvesant High School to the 1/2/3 Chambers St Station 3:50-4:00: Take the 2/3 train to 34 StPENN STATION 4:00-4:25: Waiting for the Great Neck LIRR, hanging out with my friends, getting food together 4:25-4:55: Take the LIRR to Bayside 5:00-5:20: Take the Q31 from Bayside LIRR (41st Ave) to Jamaica Estates (Utopia Pkwy/ Union Tpke) 5:25-6:00: Get cleaned up, change clothes
3:35 pm - 6:30 pm: sport 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm: subway home 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: dinner 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm: social media 9:30 pm- 12:30 am: uninterrupted schoolwork
3:35 pm - 7:30 pm: track practice and travel home 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: dinner and family talks 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm: social media
3:35 pm - 3:40 pm: at my locker, exchanging any necessary things between my backpack and locker 3:40 pm - 3:41 pm: walking out of Stuy via 2-3 escalator and bridge entrance/exit 3:42 pm - 3:46 pm: walking down Chambers St to and into the Chambers St/World Trade Center A/C/E Station 3:46 pm - 3:50 pm: walking to E train station, boarding E train 3:50 pm - 3:54 pm: E train waiting in station 3:54 pm - 4:01 pm: E train travelling from WTC to West 4th Street 4:01 pm - 4:01 pm: getting off E train, going downstairs to southbound B/D/F/M station at West 4th 4:01 pm - 4:05 pm: waiting for southbound D train 4:05 pm - 5:02 pm: riding D train (no seats available), occasionally sending a text or two, most of the time spent playing mobile games and checking Facebook 5:02 pm - 5:04 pm: getting off D train, walking 1 block to apartment building where I live 5:04 pm - 5:05 pm: walking up 4 flights of stairs 5:05 pm - 5:07 pm: entering apartment, putting down my backpack, unpacking said backpack, changing out of school clothes and into home clothes, using the bathroom 5:07 pm - 5:27 pm: riding indoor exercise bike
5:27 pm - 5:35 pm: resting, cooling down 5:35 pm - 6:05 pm: using the bathroom, taking a shower 6:05 pm - 6:20 pm: doing homework (Spanish) 6:20 pm - 6:32 pm: eating dinner 6:32 pm - 10:00 pm: doing homework (Pre-calc, USH, Physics, etc) at a rather slow pace while watching YouTube videos 10:00 pm - 4:00 am: sleeping (poor quality) 4:00 am - 4:13 am: waking up, using the bathroom 4:13 am - 5:54 am: finishing homework (English), beginning drafting plate, watching YouTube videos 5:54 am - 6:03 am: eating breakfast 6:04 am - 6:55 am: working on various other homework assignments due later in the week (due to lack of adequate time later this week) 6:55 am - 7:17 am: getting ready for school 7:17 am - 7:19 am: walking to 20th Avenue D train station 7:19 am - 7:24 am: waiting for northbound D train 7:24 am - 7:57 am: riding D train (usually seats available), listening to music and playing mobile games, falling asleep from around 55th Street until Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station 7:57 am - 7:59 am: walking from D/N/R train station to northbound 2/3 train station 7:59 am - am 8:03 am: waiting for 2/3 train
We Get It, You’re a Liberal By Danielle Eisenman I am, too. Don’t get me wrong. I, like most of you, hate the president. I subscribe to the overused, but nevertheless valid notion that “now, more than ever” we need to protect the various oppressed groups in our society. But, come on! How can we be successful in our fight for safe spaces when we repeatedly make things so unsafe for anyone who disagrees? We’re only hurting our own agenda by making our
chosen enemies victims of leftist ignorance and martyrs for free speech. Administrators at the University of California, Berkeley cancelled a scheduled speech on April 19, 2017, that was to be delivered by controversial conservative writer Ann Coulter. They cited concern for Coulter’s safety as the reason for the cancellation. (However, they uncancelled the speech a few days later, rescheduling it for April 27. The administrators felt a large and expensive police presence would be enough
to guarantee Coulter’s safety.) Two months before, Berkeley administrators also prevented former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopolous, another conservative provocateur, from speaking after violent protests erupted in response to his scheduled appearance. The situation at Berkeley is not unique in the slightest. Student protesters attacked conservative social scientist Charles Murray (who is mainly controversial for writing about what he sees as racial differences in intel-
ligence) and the professor who invited him to speak at Middlebury College last month, leaving the female and left-leaning professor with whiplash and a concussion. Such acts of hostility by selfdeclared progressives against their conservative counterparts aren’t always this extreme, but are all too ubiquitous at this point in time. Stuyvesant students in particular need to realize that stomping out inflammatory opinions doesn’t make you a valiant so-
cial justice warrior. While the more radical members of our overwhelmingly liberal student body don’t set things on fire, they do arm themselves with virtual threats and insults. These overzealous cyberbullies have proven that they can be far more hateful than the supposedly hateful opinions they crusade against.
continued on page 13
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Lumi Westerlund / The Spectator
On Military Overspending
By Hristo Karastoyanov
Right now, there is an American out there wondering what he or she could possibly sell in order to scrape up the funds needed to pay their $300,000 hospital bill. 11,000 kilometers away, there is an Iraqi parent crying over his or her dead child’s body after a U.S. airstrike. Their fates are intricately interconnected, and one’s plight most likely wouldn’t exist without the other’s. Whenever anyone suggests that college or healthcare should be free in the U.S., a flurry of pessimistic dissent arises, with issues cited such as the supposed need for higher taxes. However, one gluttonous behemoth is never mentioned: the United States military. If one were to consider the top 15 countries with regard to military spending per capita, one would see that this is hardly a flattering statistic to be near the top of: three of the countries are currently at war and most of the others were
recently engaged in an armed conflict. Those aren’t the countries the U.S. should be comparing itself to, and this is also the statistic that separates the U.S. from the countries which truly epitomize socioeconomic development. For example, Norway, a paragon of social equality, spends 1.4 percent of its GDP on the military, compared to the U.S.’s 4.35 percent, according to Index Mundi. This significantly lower military spending allows funding to be directed toward organizations and projects that help the public, which, some radicals might even argue, are more beneficial to a given country’s residents than slaughtering foreigners by the droves. Even more stunning is how m u c h of that m o n e y comes out of taxpayers’ pockets. A staggering 59 percent of American taxpayer money is spent on the military, compared to a paltry six percent on education, according to the National Priorities Project. Perhaps this exorbitant spending could be deemed acceptable due to the fact that the U.S., owing to its status as a great power, needs to have strongly protected borders to prevent any threats to its sovereignty. However, in actuality, only half the military’s budget is spent
on defense; the rest is used on military actions abroad. Another problematic consequence of the U.S.’s great power status is its self-assumed role as the worldwide protector of democracy or, more accurately, the worldwide protector of capitalist interests, disguised beneath the pretext of defending democracy. U.S. interventionism abroad has not done anything to benefit anyone outside the American oligarchy. American wars have re p e a t e d l y been
Bush famously lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which ended up simply being a pretext to benefit defense companies that steal Iraq’s natural resources for the profit of a few, all at the cost of many American and Iraqi lives. The view of the American government and, by extension, its military, toward the lives of people in third world countries is that they are expendable so long as the pockets of the rich are kept lined. To make matters worse, the U.S. is also responsible for the creation of terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda, precisely through military actions in the Middle East. By butchering vast amounts of people in the region
shown (370,000 to be corpowere diratocratic rather rectly killed in than democratic in the wars in Iraq nature, and any popu- Janice Tjan/ The Spectator and Afghanilar support about said stan), the Unitwars is brought about by lies ed States alienates the popuregarding their intent and pur- lace and turns them against pose from those in power. the West. It is no coincidence The most notable example that Osama bin Laden referred of this is Iraq, where George W. to Westerners as “crusaders,”
drawing a parallel to the Holy Wars and deliberately presenting the War on Terror as an Islamic struggle against Western aggression in order to take advantage of growing disdain toward America among Middle Easterners and channel it into his jihadist cause. In addition, the U.S., in its attempts to appear to be the people’s liberator, usually installs a weak, faux-democratic puppet government, which in its predictable failure tends to create a power vacuum that is seized by terrorist groups (a prime example is Iraq, where ISIS came to power in the space left by the U.S.). With the aforementioned factors in mind, it’s unreasonable that American students should have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to receive a university education, given that almost 10 times as much money is spent on the military than on education. It’s unreasonable for this country to have spent $4.8 trillion to butcher Iraqi civilians, while its own citizens are often forced to pay thousands of dollars for medical care for something as simple as a broken leg. It’s unreasonable that Americans lack access to so many first world givens, when all it would take for them to be available to the public would be a reduction in the budget of the military, not even a tax increase. The spearhead of American imperialism and, by extension, the American corporatocracy, simply needs to be trimmed down, for it benefits no one but the wealthiest in our society at the cost of the lives of many.
By Ben Platt
Established by President Theodore Roosevelt and implemented by President Woodrow Wilson a little over a 100 years ago through the Organic Act of 1916, our national park system is a jewel of the American people and its government. This system was inspired by the preservationist writings of naturalist John Muir, who believed that these areas of nature should be left untouched by man because this nature was too unique to be destroyed. Muir’s favorite place, Yosemite National Park, is truly one of a kind. Preserving these lands was not easy. Wealthy industrialists, the “robber barons,” could have easily bought these areas for themselves, either to be enjoyed by only a select few, or for multinational corporations to ravish them for natural
resources, destroying the environment in the process. Instead, our preservationists and environmentalists prevailed, making these lands open to the public. I’ve been lucky enough to visit more than 15 national parks, all of which contain spectacular landscapes and unforgettable flora and fauna. Millions of people visit national parks because of their cheap leisure, educational opportunities, stunning biodiversity, and their status as an essential American institution. There are many endangered species that face a chance of extinction if proper action is not taken, such as the black-footed ferret, the Ozark hellbender, and the desert pupfish. Taking away people’s opportunity to enjoy these treasures because of a relatively negligible amount of money (in comparison to total government spending) is irresponsible and neglectful on the part of Donald Trump and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Even before Trump was elected, our national parks were tremendously underfunded— right now they face an $11.9 billion backlog of repairs that the National Park Service is unable to fix. And under Trump’s proposed budget, the lack of funding for our national parks will only increase. Trump has proposed cutting the budget of the Department of the Interior (the parent agency of the National Park Service) by $1.5 billion. He is supposedly offsetting
this reduction by donating his $78,000 salary to the National Park Service. The repairs that the national parks need to make are critical: roads are deteriorating, visitor centers need to be replaced, and search and rescue workers need to be hired. In the grand scheme of a $4.0 trillion federal budget, the money to repair our national parks shouldn’t be hard to come by. This isn’t even the worst danger our national parks are facing; climate change poses the biggest threat. Trump, along with Zinke, are doing nothing to mitigate this. Glaciers are receding in Glacier National Park, extreme weather events such as droughts and flash flooding are happening more often in the Everglades, and huge forest fires are ravaging parks in the West such as Yosemite and Rocky Mountain. Despite this,
Trump has tweeted that climate change is a Chinese hoax and that he wants to keep coal as a major energy source, already removing Obama-era regulations on the efficiency of coalburning power plants. In addition, Zinke has admitted that global warming is occurring but has doubted how much of it is man-made. Yet how much climate change is man-made shouldn’t matter because it poses a threat to the environment anyway and deserves a strong response. Destroying the national parks would set an example that our environment is open and ready for exploitation and destruction. Zinke has also been open to the idea of more mining, logging, and other environmentally dangerous activities on national park land. This is not to say that other national priorities, such as rebuilding American infrastruc-
ture or finding out a way to prevent illegal immigration, don’t deserve government resources, but our national parks are often overlooked by lawmakers when it comes to creating a federal budget. Voters do not choose a president based on how many national parks they promise to create, yet the president has an outsize impact on what will happen to the state of our national parks. John Muir was writing about the need to protect our most beautiful natural areas as early as the 1860s, and he left a legacy that future presidents would expand and improve on. Barack Obama designated 33 national monuments in his eight years of office, and hopefully President Trump will follow in his footsteps. Letting national parks sink into a state of disrepair would be a dereliction of duty by Trump and Zinke.
Israt Islam/ The Spectator
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
Save Parks, Not Parking Lots
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
ZhenHong Chen/ The Spectator
Are We United Against United?
By Rohan Ahammed On a United Airlines flight headed towards Louisville, Kentucky, from Chicago, Illinois, Dr. David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American, was forced to deboard the plane by security officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation, on April 9, 2017, when he refused to give up his seat for United Airlines crew members on an overbooked flight, saying he had to see patients the next day. Passengers on the plane captured the moment the doctor was dragged out against his will. He eventually suffered a significant concussion, lost two front teeth, and had his nose broken. The unnecessary amount of violence used in his removal resulted in him being knocked unconscious. The violence used by law enforcement against Dr. Dao was avoidable. It simply does not make sense to call in law enforcement when the airline manager could have handled the situation by giving Dr. Dao a voucher to another airliner for his destination, offered more than the initial $800 offer to passengers who would give up their seat, or arranged an alternative method of transportation for the airline crew — it’s a five-hour drive from Chicago to Louisville. The cost of doing so would not compare to the bad public relations United has received because of the incident. This incident brings to light the problematic policies of United Airlines, as well as other airlines, and the need for airlines to have better customer service.
The first issue deals with race. The amount of force used on Dr. Dao was excessive, and it is unknown if the security officers had any racial motives. This incident is symptomatic of the increase in high-profile incidents of law enforcement using excessive force on minorities when compared to their white counterparts. The violence used against Dr. Dao sheds more light on the idea o f white privilege and systematic problems in our country regarding m i norities; h ow e v e r, it seems highly unlikely Dr. Dao was specifically targeted because of his race, especially since he was randomly chosen by an algorithm. Dr. Dao’s attorney, Thomas D e m e t r i o, suggests that Dr. Dao is not the Asian version of Rosa Parks, but rather a poster child for treating passengers improperly. This incident should bring more attention to United’s problematic policies, which allowed the airline to call law enforcement and ask customers to deboard, rather than to Dr. Dao’s race. Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, afterwards promised to make sure law enforcement isn’t called in to force passengers to deboard and to fix some of the problems brought to light by the incident. “We are not going to put a law enforcement official to take them [passengers] off,” Munoz told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Munoz’s initial response to the incident was lackluster at best, but he gave a somewhat better apology to Dr. Dao after receiving backlash. United has also changed its policy concerning crew bookings. The new policy states that
airline crew traveling as passengers are required to book at least one hour before departure. This means that a passenger like Dr. Dao cannot be removed from a flight after he or she has boarded. Their new policy for crew bookings is a fundamentally flawed public rela-
the problem of airline crews being stranded in airports and the need to book seats for the crew on passenger flights; however, it has not taken the initiative to put in place any system to fix this issue and improve customer service and its current infrastructure. A system that
Joyce Liao/ The Spectator
tions ploy. Instead of forcing passengers to deboard the plane to make room for their crew, United Airlines will be able to take their seats at the boarding gate. The one-hour difference is not significant enough to be beneficial for passengers. This policy also does not address the issue of airline crews taking seats from passengers. It does not protect United’s passengers; it protects their public relations. It also fails to recognize and address the cause of the incident, the airline crew’s need to be on passenger flights. This policy ensures that United will not experience bad public relations disasters like this one. However, it has not done anything to fix the problems that caused the incident in the first place. United has the infrastructure and money to fix
could easily fix this issue is to reserve seats for airline crew and not sell those seats. United Airlines should be able to logistically track and coordinate which flights airline crew need to be
on so the seats for the crew can be reserved in advance. Implementing this system will make sure passengers will not have to give up their seats. The 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) found that United Airlines had the lowest ranking out of the four major airlines in the United States. United Airlines was found to have an increasing mishandled baggage rate, an increasing number of late flights, and a history of bad public relations incidents concerning passengers. Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman, notes, “Customer satisfaction has never appeared to be a goal for airlines. Compared to other industries, the financial return on passenger satisfaction is not much of a n incentive.” This explains why airliners have neglected their passengers when formulating their policies. This extends to the broader issue of airlines creating reactionary policies that do not impact customer service, rather than preventive policies that would solve the issues in customer service. United Airlines does not care about their passengers because they take for granted that whatever bad public relations they may receive, people will forget about it and still fly with United, especially when they offer cheap, frequent flights all over the United States. United needs to fundamentally change its approach to customer service and not take its popularity for granted. This should be a wake-up call for airlines to actually start caring about their customers and policies.
We Get It, You’re a Liberal continued from page 11
We need to differentiate real hate speech from speech we find misguided or even offensive, but not objectively dangerous. The most harmful part of this whole situation is that hostility toward people with opposing opinions only strengthens and confirms their feelings that they are the ones being persecuted by the majority. If one of our goals as progressives is to fight misogyny, for example, we shouldn’t go about doing that by making misogynists hate us. Someone who gets mocked doesn’t think, “Hmm, they have a point!” I’ve been the righteous liberal, too, and often still am. A few issues back, when I was one of editors-in-chief of this paper, I made the decision not to publish an article by senior Stiven Peter about why marriage should exist solely between a man and
a woman, and why being transsexual is immoral. (This decision, thankfully, was overridden by our faculty advisor). I told myself I didn’t want to publish the article because there were logical gaps, but it was really because I wasn’t receptive to an opinion so different from my own. From the cushiony walls of my echo chamber, anything else sounded foreign, almost alien. I realize now that the intrinsic value of the socially conservative opinions expressed in Peter’s articles outweighs my worries about their inaccessibility. If The Spectator is truly “the pulse of the student body,” it should accurately represent the politics of the entire student body and not just the students who agree with me. And for the majority of leftleaning students—who are often inclined to think that virtually everyone shares the same opinions as us—any article expressing a
conservative viewpoint is invaluable. If you are a true liberal or progressive, you want to make the world a better place for all the
It is imperative that we learn how to not ridicule other opinions, even if we think they’re ridiculous. People will only be receptive to what you have to say
you can educate others (and educate yourself along the way). It’s a shame that Stuyvesant’s environment was not hospitable enough to allow a handful of stu-
How can we be successful in our fight for safe spaces when we repeatedly make things so unsafe for anyone who disagrees?
diverse people in it. The only way to change the minds of racists, homophobes, Islamophobes, xenophobes, sexists, etc., is to understand how they think, and what circumstances mold their worldviews.
if you demonstrate willingness to hear what they have to say, as well. Once you have achieved this level of respect and understanding, you can express your concerns and even challenge opinions with which you disagree so
dents with unpopular opinions to organize, because exposure to different opinions and different types of people is a rarity, whether you’re in New York City, Berkeley, Middlebury, or really anywhere else in the country.
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Culture By Grace Goldstein “Cuz no one knows me no one ever will if I don’t say something, take that dry blue pill they may see that monster, they may run away But I have to do this, do it anyway I can’t keep quiet”
Film By Lena Farley The 2016 documentary, “The Eagle Huntress,” starts out panning across vast, snowy mountains and rigid hilltops. Here, viewers get their first look into the profession the entire film is based on—the traditional Kazakh profession of eagle hunting. An older man, dressed in layers of intricately embroidered clothing, climbs to the base of a mountain. He sets a dead lamb down in front of his eagle. He says his goodbyes to the eagle and climbs back onto his horse to ride away. Aisholpan Nurgaiv is a teenage Kazakh girl who lives with her family in yurts, the traditional housing of Kazakh people. She goes to school during the week, and on weekends, she and her father train her eagle. A tradition often passed from father to son, eagle hunting— when one trains an eagle to capture prey and then releases the eagle after seven years—brings food to the family and, in many cases, is vital to a nomadic family’s survival. Much to the chagrin of many
zones. I couldn’t wait. MILCK, along with her friends (including “Pussy Hat” creator Krista Suh) and a devoted crowd of excited fans, myself included, huddled in front of the arch in Washington Square at exactly 1:00. With MILCK herself in the lead, the women and girls around me seemed to release every word into the air as if it had been buried in their souls or caught in their throats for far too long. Constantly moving as she feels the music, MILCK sings as if it comes to her as easily as breathing does. The crowd directed every word and note towards MILCK’s vibrant stage presence, unbroken. Her connection to her message and to her audience was evident, and as the song finished, the crowd (myself included) screamed to sing it again. MILCK obliged, and again, Washington Square swelled with voices. Before “Quiet” hit the scene, MILCK (born Connie Lim) already had a growing songwriting career and released a successful debut single, “Devil Devil.” MILCK lived through depression, anorexia, and domestic abuse, but she found her power and fueled it into her voice to use it in her singing and songwriting. MILCK’s musical battle-cry shares what life has taught her with women and girls around the world: “I can’t keep quiet,” and she encourages them to “let it out now.” Curious about the journey MILCK has taken since she was a teenager herself, I asked her over e-mail what she wants to tell girls at Stuyvesant High School, like
me. “I want teenage girls to know that even if they feel out of place or unheard, they are not alone. I felt so isolated, even though it looked like I was so happy from the outside. I want teenage girls to know that they have so much power, beyond their external appearances or academic/athletic achievements. The obsession with our achievements can keep us from finding our true selves. There is a little voice in your heart, a.k.a. your intuition, that knows what’s best for you. You are already enough and already worth all the good things in the world. Don’t think you have to wait for love or happiness until after you get that A, or lose those five pounds, or get those sunglasses that looked so good on that model from that magazine.” I think that many of us know exactly what she’s saying. I always feel like I haven’t accomplished quite enough yet, and I need to reach another higher level, where it will be okay for me to take care of myself and just be happy. Maybe the most important thing we can do, as we all strive to reach our goals, is to recognize that now is as good a time as any to respect ourselves and to find our own voices. It is from her own experiences that MILCK draws inspiration from in her songs, and she described the message she would give to her own teenage self, explaining, “I would encourage myself to think about things outside of my weight. I would encourage myself to not let media’s
Courtesy of Grace Golstein
Singer-songwriter MILCK wrote those lyrics about her own struggles as a woman, but when she brought a group of female singers together to perform the “guerilla style” at the January 21 Women’s March in Washington D.C., a viral video of the performance quickly turned her song “Quiet” into an anthem for all women. My first glimpse of MILCK was on Facebook in the days after the Women’s March (I marched in NYC when my bus to D.C. was cancelled). I was immediately struck by what I saw. It was a flashmob of women singing a song that I’d never heard, but knew I’d never forget, with this woman and her powerful presence at the center. In the weeks following the Women’s March, women all over the world, in places like Sweden and Zimbabwe, began spontaneously creating their own flash mobs of “Quiet” and posting them on Facebook and Youtube. Soon, #ICANTKEEPQUIET Day was born. MILCK called singers and choirs all over the world to sing together on April 8, at 1:00 p.m. in their respective time
I Can’t Keep Quiet Day Rocks Washington Square
portrayal of sexuality to pressure me. I would tell myself to laugh at myself often and to take time to journal my gratitudes. I think gratitude is the surefire way to being more present and in the moment. The more present [I am] with where I am in my life, and the less focused I am on the outcome, the happier, and more impactful I am.” She recognized the serious issues many teenage girls are known to face and struggle with. “I also want teenage girls to know
that it’s very common to experience body shame or pressure to be sexy during that age. I felt it so much. It’s common to feel unheard and for you to feel like nobody knows who you truly are. I encourage you to journal, to paint, to run, to skate, to dance, to sing, to draw, to take photos, to take walks in nature, to read. Spend a little time every week doing something just for you... to remind your soul that you are beautiful as you are.”
“The Eagle Huntress”: A New Look on an Age-Old Tradition traditional Kazakh men in the film, Nurgaiv is passionate about eagle hunting. As a 13year-old girl, many people say she should not have anything to do with eagle hunting because women should instead learn how to cook and serve a family. Nurgaiv’s parents don’t share this mindset. They just want her to be happy no matter which life path she chooses. Nurgaiv is the first girl to enter—and win—the annual Golden Eagle Festival, a Mongolian festival in which eagle hunters compete with their peers. As shown in the documentary through radio announcements, the festival is a highly anticipated event, where eagle hunters can take the profession they work on all year long and show off their skills to others. The cameramen followed Nurgaiv throughout her daily life, documented her win at the festival, and finally, recorded the last test to determine her validity of being an eagle huntress— whether or not her eagle could catch prey in the wild. The cameras are present at personal moments—family din-
ners full of laughter and chatter, mornings spent g e t t i n g ready at the dorm rooms of Nu r g a i v ’s school, where she lives five days a week, or Nurgaiv’s dangerous experience capturing her eagle. We see her as she slides down a rocky cliff and onto the steep ledge where the baby eagle is resting. The cameras are also there at pivotal moments in her life, like when she wins the Golden Eagle Festival and everyone is cheering and crying or when she makes a big trek into the snowy mountains to capture prey. The film gives viewers a lens into Kazakh life and lets us develop a kinship with Nurgaiv’s community. The film depicts members of Nurgaiv’s community going about their daily lives, often through conversations spoken in Kazakh with subtitles displayed
The film never directly talks about the patriarchal situation leading to Nurgaiv’s disadvantages, but instead illustrates it through the actions of the people in the documentary.
on the screen. “The Eagle Huntress” isn’t like a traditional documentary with many one-on-one interviews. There are only a few interviews, and even then, they are short and
men, because she is already at a disadvantage—she’s a girl. The film never directly talks about the patriarchal situation leading to Nurgaiv’s disadvantages, but instead illustrates it through the actions of the people in the documentary. Viewers see a direct contrast between Nurgaiv’s feminist parents who want Nurgaiv to achieve anything she wants and the old men, who are set in the tradition of women staying home to cook. Nurgaiv did not enter and win the festival to prove a point about feminism. However, Nurgaiv unknowingly inspired generations of girls when she stood proudly on her horse and turned her head at the heckling crowd. She inspired generations of girls when she just laughed off the men telling her she wasn’t a real eagle hunter. “The Eagle Huntress” brings attention to the power of young girls to change the future of females, a task Nurgaiv starts.
have a specific purpose. There are five older men the film keeps going back to, before and after Nurgaiv wins the festival. They talk about her place at home and how they don’t consider her to be a real eagle huntress. Throughout the film, Nurgaiv experiences discrimination like this. As part of the festival, competitions are judged by appearance. Her dad states that she needs to be even more aware of her appearance and hold herself better than any of the other competitors, all of whom are grown Tiffany Leng / The Spectator
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Film By Thomas Chen As the youngest child in my family, I’ve never had a problem with getting attention from my parents. My older sisters, though? Not so much. They most likely detested my presence as much as Timothy Templeton detested his brother, Boss Baby, in “The Boss Baby.” “The Boss Baby” follows the story of a young boy named Tim (voiced by Tobey Maguire), whose perfect life as an only child shatters when he is introduced to his new baby brother, an undercover, arrogant, businessman-like infant called Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin). In a hilarious twist of fate, the two have to put aside their differences and work together to stop the villainous corporation Puppy Co., or else Boss Baby will lose his job and be forced to stay with Tim’s family forever. However, on the way, the two end up bonding much more than they had expected. “The Boss Baby” is an animated comedy produced by Dreamworks Animation, directed by Tom McGrath and written by Michael McCullers. It was inspired by the picture book of the same name, which was written and illustrated by Marla Frazee.
Music By William LOHIER Kendrick Lamar released his third studio album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” to near universal acclaim in 2015. His third collaboration with his record label Top Dawg Entertainment, the envelope-pushing “To Pimp a Butterfly’s” heavy hitting content, as well as its eclectic fusion of funk, jazz, hip-hop, and rap, succeeded in not only cementing Lamar’s position at the top of the rap game, but redefining the genre itself. Since the release of the Grammy-winning “To Pimp a Butterfly” and the follow-up compilation album “Untitled Unmastered,” Lamar fans have been eagerly awaiting news of Lamar’s fourth studio album. Preluded by the album’s lead single, “HUMBLE.” and the standalone “The Heart Part IV,” Lamar’s newest album, “DAMN.,” released on April 14, has been the best-selling Billboard 200 chart debut of 2017 thus far, selling over 600,000 copies in the first week and outperforming both Drake’s “More Life” and Ed Sheeran’s “Divide.” The album consists of 14 tracks and includes features from Rihanna, U2, and Zacari. Each track is styled the same way as the album’s title, in all caps and followed by a period. Within 14 tracks rich with the symbolism and heavy themes that Lamar fans have come to expect, “DAMN.” is more conservative than “To Pimp a Butterfly” in terms of sound, yet far less so in terms of content. Upon first listen, the flurry of sounds, motifs, and evershifting beats and tempos take a backseat to Lamar’s virtuosity and complete control of his instrument. If “To Pimp a Butterfly” succeeded in voicing the anxiety, fears, and aspirations of the #blacklivesmatter protesters of 2015, “DAMN.” is a multifaceted and expansive exploration of Lamar himself. A kind of lyrically existential
A Heartwarming Take On “Where Do Babies Come From?”
The film begins with a very inventive premise—babies are mass-produced in the heavens rather than born and are divided into two groups: those who will be sent to families and live normal lives and those who are too adultlike and will be sent to work at Baby Corp., a company whose goal is to make sure babies stay loved forever. Boss Baby, who is part of the latter, is sent to Tim’s family, tasked with the mission of infiltrating Puppy Co. and finding information on its plan to release a secret puppy that will replace babies in the public’s hearts. However, “The Boss Baby” disappoints viewers due to this uninspired plot line. The antagonist’s goal of making puppies more beloved than babies and reasoning for doing so feels very uncreative and brainless, and so much more could have been done with it given the imaginative setting the film sets up. Overall, the film seems to drag on the plot for longer than necessary with somewhat repetitive “Tom and Jerry”-like chase scenes. The film manages to keep the
Michelle Chu / The Spectator
audience captivated, though, with humorous lines and scenarios, such as the brothers’ parents walking in on the two sucking on Boss Baby’s pacifiers and slowly walking back out. The gruff Alec Baldwin’s (who coincidentally plays Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live”) portrayal of a baby is satisfying to hear, as he cracks some jokes and references more suited towards older audiences, like the line “Put that cookie down! Cookies are for closers!” alluding to one of his prior movies, “Glengarry Glen Ross.” In addition, the constant juxtaposition of Tim’s imaginative, action-packed view against the duller reality is very clever, typically utilizing a 2D, cartoon-like visual for Tim’s dramatized mind, such as a scene using silhouettes where a ninjalike Tim sneaks through a hallway. It’s especially amusing to see the film shift from Tim clinging on to a dan-
gerously fast police car for life to his parents watching him be sluggishly dragged by the Boss Baby’s toy ride, face-planted into the ground. Though “The Boss Baby” is lacking in plot, it makes up for it in its budding relationship between Tim and Boss Baby. The two gradually shift from mortal enemies vying for their parents’ attention to brothers who truly care for each other, as they are forced by their parents to spend more time with one another. It’s sweet to watch the two brothers being forced to dress up in sailor costumes for pictures and playing as pirates together. Possibly one of the most touching moments in the film is when Tim sings Boss Baby the song his parents always sang to him, “Blackbird,” in order to bring him down. Tim sends Boss Baby a letter allowing him to stay with him and thousands of his small colorful toys, representing their love. This brotherly love is what makes “The Boss Baby” so memorable, as the two brothers’ few heart-to-hearts feel truly genuine and personal. Perhaps we all could learn a thing or two about dealing with our siblings from Tim and Boss Baby.
‘DAMN.’ Review: A Glimpse Into a Legend unravelling of the basic components of Lamar himself, each track isolates and expands an element of Lamar’s life in a way that at once humanizes and further deifies him. It is this duality and internal strife that becomes the defining focus of tracks like “LOYALTY.” featuring Rihanna and produced by Sounwave and
“HUMBLE.,” a brazen, hard-hitting shot at rap culture in which Lamar seems to finally gain the confidence to put himself in his place, rapping “Sit down, lil’ b**** be humble.” Perhaps in the vein of humility, a central focus of the album seems to be Lamar’s relationship with faith. Besides referencing
over a nebulous track, punctuated by a driving beat. Lamar also takes the time to address his detractors, among which Fox News is the most prominent. In multiple tracks, Lamar samples Fox’s derisive and often tone-deaf comments, such as Geraldo Rivera’s remark that “hip-hop has done more dam-
Christine Jegarl / The Spectator
DJ Dahi, an inert reflection on the price of fame on relationships. One of the more radio-friendly tracks on “DAMN.,” “LOYALTY.”’s vaguely gospel-sounding electronic track, as well as Lamar and RiRi’s laid back vocals over a swaying, dancehall beat, have all the trappings of a summer hit. Beyond the novelty of hearing RiRi rap, “LOYALTY.”’s whimsical lament, “It’s so hard to be humble” truly gains meaning within the context of “PRIDE.,” an introspective venture with a chilling Alchemist-produced beat in which Lamar raps, “I can’t fake humble just ‘cause your a** insecure,” and finally in
immaculate conception and multiple bible verses, Lamar’s insecurities and bravado when it comes to faith often take center stage. In “FEEL.,” Lamar floods the listener with a sinuous tidal wave of doubts, fears, and speculations that have been drowning him; subtly building up over a melancholic beat, there is an enormous outpouring of feeling while he intermittently raps, “Ain’t nobody praying for me.” In “GOD.,” Lamar takes the opposite perspective as he muses whether he knows “what God feel[s] like” after having been at the top of the rap game; the song features unconcerned rapping
age to young African Americans than racism in recent years.” These samples provide a much-needed counterpoint to Lamar’s mostly internal musings and only elevate tracks like “DNA.,” in which a Whitmanesque “I contain multitudes” moment that jackhammers Lamar’s humanity into the listener with its trap beat and clear metronomic flows. The antepenultimate track, “FEAR.,” features a meandering, Alchemistproduced existential crisis that highlights Lamar’s fears from childhood to present, dejectedly slurring, “If I could smoke fear away, I’d roll that mother******
up,” over a woozy track. Repetition is a tool used throughout the album that, instead of becoming monotonous, only highlights Lamar’s multifacetedness. This constant interaction between tracks, combined with the recurring existentialism and philosophy of puzzling themes like “What happens on earth stays on earth,” an idea repeatedly introduced by Kid Capri, give the album conceptual unity and flow. The track “DUCKWORTH.,” Lamar’s family name and the dynamic conclusion of “DAMN.,” highlights Lamar’s prowess as a storyteller by regaling the listener with his own fascinating origin story of Ducky, Lamar’s father, and Anthony, the future creator of Lamar’s record label, Top Dawg Entertainment. If Lamar is to be believed, 20 years ago, Anthony held up the KFC Ducky was working at and would’ve killed Ducky, ending up in prison and leaving Lamar without a father, had Ducky not been kind and diffused the situation by giving Anthony free chicken. 20 years later, Ducky’s son recorded a song about the incident while signed to Anthony’s record label. The track reinforces the themes of faith, continuity, and fickleness that define the rest of the album, especially since it cycles back to to the first track “BLOOD.” Another story in which Lamar gets shot by a blind woman, who may be interpreted as Lady Justice, while helping her look for something, the symbolism is up for debate. However, it is this inherently human theme of helping us find something within ourselves, perhaps our own humanity (“Is it wickedness? Is it weakness?”), that serves as a fitting send-off for the Homeric pilgrimage on which Lamar embarks. continued on page 17
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Sparkling Strokes of Music, Color, and Light in a Broadway Revival
Film By Liana Chow
Lillian Xiao / The Spectator
her talents on the small roles of Frieda and Betty. The squabbles, flirtations, and complaints depicted are brief and trivial— only the way George intently observes and paints them gives them importance. As a result, the one gripping plotline is George’s artistic process. Gyllenhaal’s agitation seems to swirl around the stage. George is the only character not putting on affectations or judging people; he observes closely and paints everyone. Still, his work is critically derided and people call him crazy. Where George finds light, all the other characters find things to scorn. The first act culminates in the gorgeous song “Sunday,” which contains the iconic mo-
ment when each character steps into his or her place to complete the painting. Though the moment lacks the visual magnificence of previous productions, the song’s chilling harmonies do the trick. The petty park fights of the first act seem so unimportant when compared to the goal of finding harmony in an image. Just as dots of color coalesce into light in George’s paintings, disparate people come together in a composition that will outlive them, and their previously distinct voices lose all affectation to swell in unison. In the second act, Gyllenhaal plays George Seurat’s great grandson, also a critically ridiculed artist named George. (Like other plot points, this aspect is fictional: Seurat’s children died in infancy.) George has produced a sculpture he calls a “Chromolume.” This production represents it as a showily breathtaking light installation that descends from the ceiling of the Hudson Theatre and flashes above the audience. This time, Gyllenhaal’s character is concerned about financing and publicity rather than color and light. Gyllenhaal brings back his hypnotizingly frenzied thought processes. Ashford now plays his grandmother, Seurat’s daughter, whose deep love for the faceless figures in “A Sunday on the Grande Jatte” seems at first silly and then inspiring. By pointing out emotional connections in the painting, she convinces George to ground his thoughts back in the meaning of his art. The modern George’s work has clear roots in Seurat’s pointillism, as both are composed of dots of light. The juxtaposition of these two innovative yet struggling artists reminds us that only time will tell how artists are remembered. This production of “Sunday in the Park with George” is a love letter to hopeful artistic visions. If we could all try to observe each other with George’s eye for beauty, perhaps our world would become a little less like the park and more like the painting.
‘DAMN.’ Review: A Glimpse Into a Legend
continued from page 16
“DAMN.” is a reaffirmation of the roots of rap and hip-hop music. Especially when viewed in the context of recent albums like Migos’ catchy, yet poorly written “Culture,” and Drake’s total abandonment of conceptual and sonic cohesiveness in “More Life,” “DAMN.” is perhaps more in line with the hardhitting rhymes of legends like
Tupac and Biggie. It is the bottomless symbolism, interconnectedness, and ruthless innovation of the tracks that not only ensure cohesiveness, but elevate and differentiate Lamar from others in the rap game. With “DAMN.,” Lamar not only reinforces his status as a rap legend, but also challenges what “rap legend” even means. As a poet, lyricist, and virtuoso, Lamar arguably outperforms every other rapper in the game at
the moment. However, Lamar’s true strength as an artist is that he can simultaneously push the boundaries of the genre, while being aware and in control of his relationship to it. Lamar defines the rap game at the moment, not the other way around. By keeping a measure of independence and not stooping to conform with other rappers, Lamar continues to solidify his reputation for perpetual growth and change.
Christine Jegarl / The Spectator
Instead of props or set pieces, it is the characters’ thoughts, ambitions, and harmonies that fill the stage in “Sunday in the Park with George” at the Hudson Theatre. This revival of Stephen Sondheim’s classic 1983 musical about the life and legacy of postimpressionist George Seurat is actor-driven and glimmers with a few key moments of magic. For a show grounded in a painting, the minimalist set is mostly disappointing. Behind a nearly bare stage platform, various Seurat works are projected onto a scrim to form the backdrop. The projected dappled light can’t quite capture the luminous, stately quality of Seurat’s work—it occasionally makes the set feel like a slideshow. Instead, Sondheim’s sparkling score breathes life into the empty stage. The set shifts the focus to the actors and their music. Just as with impressionism, which uses small brush strokes to capture light, your mind must fill in the details. The first act weaves through the stories of George, his mistress, and the characters in the painting “A Sunday on the Grande Jatte,” and the second act chronicles his impact on characters 100 years later. Annaleigh Ashford, playing Dot, George’s mistress and muse, and later George’s daughter, carries both acts. In the opening song, “Sunday in the Park with George,” she takes on the challenge of belting in scathing tones while standing statue-still in order to model for George. Ashford’s Dot wears her sultriness as a consciously ironic outer layer: in her mind, she is so much more than a mistress, but she is physically and metaphorically not allowed to break free from her feminine pose. The role of George is movie star Jake Gyllenhaal’s first singing role. He is at his most captivating when showing the frustrated side of the artist. His eyes take on a manic glint while he frantically paints and sings in “Color and Light,” and he delightfully lets loose when pretending to be the dogs he is sketching in “The Day Off.” Gyllenhaal portrays George as so focused on art that he lacks chemistry with people. Unfortu-
nately, he treats even Dot with an aloofness and impatient tone that makes their love story unconvincing. The stories about the gossiping people George paints in the park are also hard to feel invested in. These park scenes, though they do offer social commentary about interactions between social classes, are played mostly for laughs but are only slightly amusing. And the actress Ruthie Ann Miles, who won a Tony for her role in “The King and I,” has wast- e d
The Bouvier Affair: Insights: An Outlook on Legal Gray Areas Art in the Art Market
By Matthew Fairbanks For the past 13 years, art and business mogul Yves Bouvier has procured art for Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, with works ranging from Picassos to Renoirs. The collection, in its entirety, is said to be worth almost $2 billion. On February 26, 2015, Bouvier was arrested in Monaco after Rybolovlev claimed that Bouvier had defrauded him of almost $1 billion over the sale of 38 paintings since 2003. According to Rybolovlev, Bouvier was a broker representing Rybolovlev, negotiating prices for artwork, and receiving a commission. Bouvier denied this relationship, instead presenting himself as an independent party who merely gave special preference to Rybolovlev. The legal battle consisted of lawsuits in both Monaco and Singapore. Art dealer company Sotheby’s brokered a sale between Bouvier and a group of experts in the Old Masters (e.g. Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael) in 2013 for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.” The group acquired the work for only $10,000 at an estate sale, where it was thought only to be from the school of Da Vinci. Then, they authenticated it, proving that it was made by the master himself. The work was sold to Bouvier for $80 million. A couple of days later, Bouvier sold it to Rybolovlev for $127.5 million. However, Rybolovlev was not the only one who felt conned. The group who had Sotheby’s sell the work for them also felt like they were cheated out of millions of dollars, alleging that Sotheby’s was in league with Bouvier. Indeed, Bouvier had been a valued client of Sotheby’s over the years, and the group alleges that Sotheby’s was biased towards the buyer. In both cases, millions of dollars’ worth of conflict were created by legal grey areas and minutia. Sotheby’s relationship with Yves Bouvier during the sale of the Da Vinci is a perfect example. Bouvier was actually the one who brought Sotheby’s in on the sale, asking them to approach the sellers on his behalf. However, Bouvier did not want Sotheby’s to approach the sellers as his representatives, but
rather as a third party. As a third party, Sotheby’s could either be a neutral arbitrator or a broker for the seller. If an auction house becomes a broker, an “agency relationship” is created, where the auction house is legally obliged to act only in the interests of the seller, i.e. to get the best conditions and price for the work. In this case, it was unclear whether Sotheby’s functioned as a broker or just an arbitrator. The luxury art market is inherently expensive and fundamentally illiquid, causing the pool of buyers and sellers to be quite small. Thus, the sales of high-priced works are based on personal connections and reputation. For Sotheby’s, personal connections with men like Yves Bouvier prove to yield a tremendous amount of business. Nevertheless, relationships cannot come at the expense of reputation. Both auction houses and successful brokering careers are built on reputation, for no buyer or seller would want to use an auction house as a medium if he or she suspects it does not want to facilitate the transaction as fairly and efficiently as possible. However, while brokers and auction houses need to tread very carefully in the legal gray areas of the art market to maintain their reputation as trustworthy, there is a lot of profit to be made. Yves Bouvier made up to a billion dollars, treading the fine line between broker and third party. This applies for both buyers and sellers. While buyers run the risk of overpaying and sellers may risk underselling, they can also underpay and oversell. This gives the art market a much higher risk or reward ratio than it would have with a more regulated market with less grey areas. For the public, the result of this is mixed. Museums are one of the largest buyers of art, so a higher risk-return ratio means that they would be able to buy more valuable works than they could normally. However, they can also run into financial difficulties from being overcharged. So, as a museum-goer, expect to see some great art, but don’t get too attached to the museum you see it in.
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.
United Airlines Drags Passenger Onboard Underbooked Flight By Omar Ali
and tied onto a baggage cart. Many onlookers took the opportunity to record the extravaganza. Facebook live streams were blowing up with angery reaccs. Many commenters encouraged the United agents, and one comment read: “You should push [Divad] really hard on the moving walkway and just let go!” Though Divad remained tied up, flight attendants gave him warm welcomes, and the captain himself came out to kindly thank Divad for flying United. Despite the flight being absolutely empty, Divad was dragged into the very last row of the economy section. “It was hilarious watching the poor guy being pushed into his chair as he screeched and flailed in response. I almost broke my flimsy seat laughing,” the only other passenger onboard said.
Student Complains “Too Much Break”
Klaire Geller / The Spectator
Lady Gaga’s ‘The Cure’ Debuts as a Song and Treatment
By Kerwin Chen
contract agreement, Milligan was successful in marketing the song as a cure for “general discomfort and non-specific anomalies.” “The Cure” has seen its greatest impacts in school, especially at Stuyvesant itself, where a large portion of the population is failing classes, feeling sick from sleep deprivation, and experiencing a caffeine overdose. “‘The Cure’ is really a gamechanger and lifesaver for me,” school nurse Danielle Karunadasa said. “I’ve never been to medical school because I couldn’t pass biology, so I didn’t know what I was doing. How can you pass if you had Ms. Maggio? Now with ‘The Cure,’ all I need to do is tell the student to strip down and hand them the music, which they just listen to for a period before leaving. Oh, and don’t worry about the stripping. I need to monitor them. It’s all medical purposes. Nothing happens. We’re not Brooklyn Tech.”
A Guide to APs By Michael Xu
If you were conscious during the class, you’ll have a good chance of getting a five on the AP. Have some self-efficacy! Make this a self-fulfilling prophesy!
La baguette! Le pain! Le Pen??!!
AP European History:
Well, you had the Romans, and then things kind of just got broken apart after that. Like, really broken up. Better study up on all of those German fiefdoms that can be walked across in under five minutes. Did I mention the 20 Louises that ruled France, the eight Edwards of England, and the 16 Pope Benedicts?
AP World History:
Refer to AP Euro, except with an area 19 times larger and with a period of study quite a bit longer. No, Joan of Arc didn’t get reincarnated, and Austria and Australia aren’t “similar things.”
and some more details. And Trump.
AP US History:
Let’s give it up for Columbus for discovering this majestic and unspoiled continent and then populating it with rebellious religious dissidents and greedy plantation owners who seized slaves as if they were being auctioned off (they were) and raided Native American lands (from sea to shining sea right?), creating a beautiful wreck of a nation that somehow came to the world’s rescue twice! Well, that
AP US Government:
Is there anything left of it?
AP Computer Science:
First, there were ints and doubles. Then, it evolved into inheritance and polymorphism. By the end, the only history is my grades.
AP Art History:
Van Gogh never made much Monet. Katherine Lwin / The Spectator
Klaire Geller / The Spectator
After the release of singer Lady Gaga’s “The Cure” Friday night at Coachella, its impacts have not only shaken up the entertainment industry, but another quite unexpected industry as well—the pharmaceutical industry. “I’ve never seen anything quite
as extraordinary as this before,” CEO of Gilead Sciences John Milligan said. “I’ve had deprived-of-new-Lady-Gaga-music syndrome for over a year. I couldn’t sit still in my office pretending I actually had something to do and my body violently shook if ‘Bad Romance’ wasn’t playing, but after listening to this thing, all the symptoms were magically gone.” Several of the Coachella attendees who spoke on the condition anonymously have also reported strange recoveries after listening to the song, and as a result, Milligan reached out to Gaga Saturday evening. “I wanted to create a song that was more than just another failure,” Gaga said. “Since I’ve watched all the seasons of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ which basically makes me a certified physician, I used my medical skills along with my extremely amazing vocal abilities to compose this song.” After a mulch-million dollar
Katherine Lwin / The Spectator
United Airline’s recent incident involving Dr. David Dao’s violent removal from Flight 3411 inspired an uproar in the media and across many social platforms, creating a nightmarish boycott of the airline. This boycott has caused a severe dip in United’s bookings. Recent accounts report that their planes have been so light that they have experienced difficulties in landing: there have been 57 “mayday” incidents with the moon. Baggage carousels have been revolving with only one or two bags on them—of those bags, most belonged to pilots and flight attendants. As a result, United has decided that they will fill up their empty seats, no matter what the cost. Oad Divad was patiently awaiting the arrival of his son at New-
ark Liberty International Airport when events suddenly took a turn for the worse. Divad had just purchased a $45 week-old hotdog and $36 can of Pepsi from the airport’s food court. Little did Divad know that a United flight was set to depart to Mar-A-Lago in half an hour and that it was severely underbooked. To fill up the flight, United offered passengers a free one-night stay at Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, including a complimentary Trump-tailored suit, a well-done Trump steak, a Trump footlong, a vial of Trump Water, a scholarship to Trump University, and let’s not forget the iconic one-year Trump golf course membership. Despite these incentives, United’s offer did little. In desperation, United personnel slowly began to creep up on Divad. He was subsequently tackled onto the ground
By Daniel Knopf As Stuyvesant opened its doors after spring break, excited students streamed in and began kissing the floor, the scanners, and Mr. Moran’s shiny head in their sheer happiness to be back. “I’m just so happy I’m back at Stuyvesant,” freshman Sudat Khan said. “My parents forced me to go to the Caribbean over break, and it was awful! Do you know how hard it is to study honors advanced ATP French Biology in a hula skirt?” Many students resent that they had to leave school at all and have decided to end spring break once and for all. Led by junior Shiva Vum, supporters of this movement decided to call themselves the “Spring Break Breakers.” “First, the administration forces me to stop sleeping in the computer science rooms overnight, then they make me go home over the weekends instead of hiding in the biology lab like I usually do,
and now they tell me I have to leave school for a whole two weeks! This is terrible!” Vum declared. After being left on seen by junior and Student Union vice president Tahseen Chowdhury, the “Spring Break Breakers” decided to take matters into their own hands by creating a Change.org petition. “I know that every Change.org petition created in the past has failed miserably, but I’m confident that this time will somehow be different,” freshman Qiong Huang said. “I’m sure the whole school will sign to cancel spring break.” Students have high hopes that unlike every past Change.org petition, the administration will in fact enact change. “I still can’t believe that my petition for an extra snow day didn’t do anything,” junior Tasdid Khandaker bemoaned. “I don’t understand how the Department of Education didn’t see the 300 student signatures and immediately close all public schools.”
NYCDOE to Introduce School Lunches with Less Rubber
By Sara Stebbins
In a major victory for the health and nutrition of children attending public schools, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has announced a new nutritional initiative to reduce the amount of rubber used in school lunches. “As it stands, rubber accounts for about 30 percent of the material used in school lunches,” NYCDOE spokesperson Carla Delaney said. “Some very recent research
has led to some revelatory scientific breakthroughs. Apparently, rubber is unhealthy. At the Department of Education, we only want the very best for the children of New York City and are taking steps to significantly reduce the amount of rubber within the next five years.” Foods most likely to be affected by the new Rubber Reduction Initiative (RRI) include the cheese used in hamburgers and sandwiches, the beef used in the cheesesteaks, and the mandatory “fresh” fruit. “These foods have the highest concentra-
tion of rubber per gram of substance and have been deemed the most dangerous to our students’ health,” junior August Hochman said. According to many, this change is a long time coming. “I’m very excited to see what this change means for the overall health and nutrition across the city,” freshman Matthew Carlson said. “I mean, I can’t even recall how many times I’ve choked on hunks of meat at this school.” However, this initiative has been met with controversy. Some even
say that they will miss the rubber currently found in school lunches. “I used to have a nervous habit of chewing on erasers,” junior Jacqueline Moshkovich said. “But then, I decided just to keep some of the school lunch beef in my mouth and chew that instead. It lasts for hours, and it has the exact same flavor and texture as an eraser does. It’s also probably a little less dangerous to ingest, I think!” Others say that the rubber in the school lunches can be useful. “When I run out of staples, I use
the cheese from the grilled cheese sandwiches we get in the cafeteria to stick the pages of my biology labs together,” sophomore Daisy Kim said. “If the cheese no longer contains rubber, it won’t be that perfect rubbery, tacky consistency anymore.” The RRI will go into effect at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. “The NYCDOE could get rid of the toxins in the food right now,” Hochman said.“That’s mad work, bro.”
The Spectator ● May 5, 2017
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Sports Girls’ Fencing
Vipers Start Undefeated
By Allison Eng, Muhib Khan, and Susan Lin
Mika Simoncelli / The Spectator
The fencers paused for a moment after the bout began, swords held in a defensive stance, carefully regarding the other’s movements. Then, quick as a flash, swords clicked as they danced across the floor of the gym at NEST+m, while the referees and coaches looked on. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Stuyvesant’s fencer was holding her point to the other’s chest, while her teammates cheered from the sidelines. The Vipers continued their successful start to the season with a 90-34 win against NEST+m on April 28, their fourth game and fourth win this season. The match got off to a rocky start, with the Vipers losing the first bout of nine total in the match. Despite this, they managed to pull it back in the second bout. Stuyvesant also faced some difficulty in the middle of the match, losing the fifth bout, but managed to come back and win the last four bouts. “The NEST épée team forfeited because they didn’t have enough fencers, but the foil game went pretty well. NEST is probably our toughest competition in the division, but we worked well as a team and pulled through in the end,” senior and co-captain Stephanie Yoon said. Earlier in the season, the Vipers won a decisive 90-43 victory against Millennium High School, in which the foil team won 4520 and the épée team won 4523. They also won against Long
Junior Katherine Hwang strikes an opponent during practice.
Island City High School with a score of 90-27. Following a forfeit by Information Technology High School, the Vipers sit at the top of their division with an undefeated 5-0 record.
However, the Vipers are looking far beyond an undefeated regular season. After winning silver in the playoffs last year, the Vipers have high expectations for themselves. “I hope that
our team goes undefeated in our division this season, and, as always, we are shooting for gold at playoffs,” Yoon said. However, the Vipers will be facing challenges to this ultimate goal, par-
ticularly the loss of eight fencers after they graduated. “I still think we have a pretty strong and deep team though,” Yoon said.
Eagles in Fourth Place at Season’s Midpoint By Dimitriy Leksanov, Ronin Berzins, and Perry Wang After winning consecutive city titles, Stuyvesant’s co-ed golf team, the Eagles, is looking to build another season of success. Though there were some concerns about the departure of star Niel Vyas (‘16), this season’s opener against Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy seemed to put those worries to rest. With senior Nicholas Ng and junior Christopher Chan leading the way, the Eagles brought in a championship air in a dominating 5-0 sweep. Even more impressively, not one member of the starting five lost a single hole, with the lone hiccup coming as freshman Han Namgoong tied his second hole 8-8—the team’s worst hole of the
day. However, Namgoong made up for it on the third hole, scoring only three strokes, the lowest of any player on either team. After an overall solid performance, Namgoong looks to have a promising future on the links, being the team’s first freshman to start since veteran Christopher Chan. After a forfeit victory against Mott Haven Community High School, the Eagles faced John F. Kennedy Campus High School in their second real contest on April 20. Once again, Stuyvesant won in dominating fashion, taking all five matches. Though Ng was shaky in the first match, having started with two straight sevenstroke holes, he came out a lot stronger this time, keeping four of his five holes under seven strokes. Chan was even more dominant, scoring under five strokes for four
of five holes, including a three on the third. “We expected to win, and we did,” coach Emilio Nieves said. One highlight was the debut of freshman Alexander Camaev, who started as the number four golfer. Though he started off slow, tying his first hole and scoring two consecutive nines, he evened out, outscoring his opponent in each of the last four holes. Though he did not have the flash that Namgoong had with his three-stroke third hole, Camaev still looks to be a promising young player. As Nieves said, “the freshmen are coming along.” Though the Eagles glided through their first two matchups, their first real test came against Bronx High School of Science. As Stuyvesant’s opponent in the past two city finals, the Wolverines put
up an impressive showing in their 3-2 victory against the Eagles. Despite losing in a tiebreak, Chan played his best round of the year, keeping all but one of his hole totals under six strokes. Ng was even more impressive, posting only four strokes in holes five through eight. Though senior Kevin Zheng won his round for Stuyvesant, it proved to be insufficient, as the Eagles lost 3-2 to their divisional rivals. Though some of the struggles may be attributed to the weather, Chan urged against making excuses. “We still need to learn to play under all conditions and not let anything distract us from what we want to do: win,” he said. This now puts them at a distant fourth in the Manhattan League, behind Bronx Science, the undefeated Eleanor Roosevelt,
and Hunter College High School. Stuyvesant’s best shot at a good playoff seeding is to perform well in the last half of its season. Additionally, Bronx Science still has to face Hunter, a game that they could feasibly lose that would put them below Stuyvesant. “After these three matches, we will have a better idea where we stand in the PSAL,” Nieves said. The pressure is on for the Eagles to do well in the upcoming weeks as they hope to secure a high playoff seed. “[Stuyvesant’s] margin of error is thinner now than in years past,” Chan said. Coach Nieves is optimistic for the team, despite setbacks. “We may have lost our shot at the number one seeding, but it doesn’t change our status as a legitimate contender for the PSAL championship,” he said.
A Rollercoaster of a Season Continues for the Peglegs By Lee-Ann Rushlow and Sean Stanton The Peglegs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ lacrosse team, have had a season filled with ups and downs. After starting out with two losses, they went on to improve their record to 6-2. However, the Peglegs seem to be slowing down, having lost their last two games and making their record 6-4. Defense has been the key to success for the Peglegs this season. When their defense is strong, they win games, but they have struggled without it. In their first two losses, they gave up 14 goals,
compared to only 11 in their next five games, all of them wins. In their next two games, they gave up a total 17 goals, setting themselves up to get blown out. Along with their shaky defense, the offense has been inconsistent. In their first two games of the season, the Peglegs only scored five goals, relying on veteran players to carry the team. However, when some newer players stepped up, the whole team played stronger, and their offense was able to execute. On their five game win streak, they scored 36 goals and scored at least five goals in four of the games. Since
then, their goal production has wavered, with the Peglegs only scoring five total goals in their past two games and only three players contributing to that total. Senior and co-captain Michael Joh leads the team with 13 goals, along with senior Enoch Lee’s eight goals. In some games, the team has depended on their top scorers to produce, and some of their losses have come in games where not many other players have scored. However, when other players are able to get in an offensive groove, like junior Dmytro Hvirtsman who has six goals this season, or junior
and co-captain Sam Brimberg, who also has six goals, the Peglegs have consistently been able to get the win. “Our offense still definitely needs improvement. We have a few very solid players, but we need more depth in our rotations to really bring out wins on competitive teams like we faced the last two games. I think the biggest things [are] more movement and more rotation, especially down low by the goal,” senior and co-captain Winston Venderbush said. The role players in the offense will need to step up, especially since senior Ledion Lecaj, who has scored nine goals
this season, is out for the rest of the regular season with an injury. After the past two seasons ended in unexpected first round exits for the Peglegs, the team is looking for revenge. “Only time can tell how far we will go [into the playoffs]. I plan on taking it one game at a time, especially because these are my final times touching a lacrosse stick with this team,” Joh said. The Peglegs have three games remaining in the regular season, and they are going to need every win they can get if they want to get a good seed for the playoffs and end the season with a bang.
The Spectator ● May 8, 2017
Renegades Rally Mid-Game to Blow Out Hunter By Jared Asch and Brandon Rim
By Allison Eng, Muhib Khan, and Susan Lin “Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who?” The echoes of the Stuyvesant boys’ volleyball team, the Beasts, cheering for a block rang throughout the gym. This season has been marked by the team playing with a lot of heart and grit in their exciting games that was missing in previous years. This energy has helped them to a record of 9-0, currently atop the Manhattan A West division. Though most of the season has been smooth sailing for the Beasts, Coach Vasken Choubaralian is still doing his best to train the team at a higher level. “I’ve seen us play good teams, and we play them close, but we don’t win. And at some point in the playoffs, we’re going to play a good team, and I don’t know how it will go,” Choubaralian said. Though the Beasts will most likely be seeded high, they will face competition of a much higher level than their division play later in the playoffs. The Beasts played the High School of Environmental Studies (HSES) on Friday, April 28. Last year, the Beasts were second in their division, only behind HSES, who they lost to in both of their season meetings. This year, however, HSES isn’t doing as well because their top player and setter was removed from the team. At the beginning of the game, the Beasts and the Eagles were toe-to-toe, trading leads and short runs. Junior and setter Ray Jones overset his hitters a few times, causing a difficult situation for them on some plays. The Eagles, plagued by many unforced errors of their own, allowed the Beasts time to settle into the game and adjust their issues. With well-placed hits from junior and outside hitter Shun Bitar and senior, middle hitter, and co-captain Jackson Deysine, as well as some strong serves from senior and libero Isfar Patwary, the score was soon 21-11. Choubaralian decided to substitute sophomore and middle Kevin Mitchell. He brought new energy into the game, and he had two kills on consecutive points, leading Stuyvesant to end their first
Courtesy of Tomas Engquist
In the third inning, with the Renegades behind by five runs, sophomore Ally Archer stepped up to the plate. With the offense struggling, this was their big chance to break through and cut down the Hunter College High School’s lead. With two runners on, she smashed the ball to deep left-center field. She made her way home easily, closing the gap down to two runs and starting the third inning rally which would put Stuyvesant ahead by six runs. The Renegades, Stuyvesant’s girls’ softball team, are on a roll this season after a 20-6 win against Hunter on April 27, bringing them to a 6-1 record. They currently sit atop the Manhattan A division, tied with Manhattan Center for Science and Math, who they defeated earlier this year. The Renegades struggled through the first two innings against Hunter, giving up six runs while scoring only one themselves. “The game started off slow for us. Pitching was a little off and [there were] two errors in the early innings,” coach Vincent Miller said. Going into the third inning, the team was not looking optimistic. “When we were down 6-1 in the third inning, [junior and co-captain] Charlotte [Ruhl] called the team into a huddle and tried to light a fire under the team,” Miller said. Ruhl’s team meeting did just that, with sophomores Talia Kirshenbaum, Ally Archer, and Allie Lennard each hitting home runs. In the third and fourth innings combined, the Renegades scored 19 runs to give them a 20-6 lead over Hunter. Junior and co-captain Frankie Michelli finished off the game strong on the mound, shutting Hunter out through the last two innings without giving up any hits. Although their offense struggled in the beginning of the season, the Renegades have since dominated, outscoring oppo-
nents 56-8 in three games alone. In the win against Hunter, every batter scored at least once, proving the true depth of the team. “Something we’ve been doing well in the last few games, and really all season, is being aggressive at the plate,” said sophomore Talia Kirshenbaum, who is batting .600 with 16 hits on the season. Ruhl is having a phenomenal season, currently leading the division in slugging percentage (1.500), RBIs (22), hits (16), doubles (5), home runs (4), and stands second in the division for batting average (.727). Her success leads the way for the team to follow and is just one part of Stuyvesant’s offensive efforts this year. In addition to the impressive offense, the Renegades have had solid pitching throughout the season, led by Michielli, who has racked up 47 strikeouts in just 41 innings pitched. She averages more than one strikeout an inning, an impressive statistic. With solid pitching and a strong offense, the real issues lie with the defense. “We still need to work on limiting the errors and making sure one defensive mistake doesn’t turn into more,” Kirshenbaum said. In the team’s only loss, eight of the 12 runs scored by Beacon High School (4-3) were on errors. “A lot of our issues were mental and resulted from not being aware of the whole field and where the ball was,” Ruhl said of the team’s 12-9 loss. Since that game, the Renegades have been solid on defense, giving up only two runs on errors in the past three games. In their upcoming games, the Renegades will look to continue their success by tightening up the defense and continuing the explosive offense. Stuyvesant will finally have a chance to play Manhattan Center for Science and Math on May 5 after having two of their matchups postponed. This, as well as their other games, will determine the Renegades’ playoff fate as the season’s end approaches.
Beasts Continue Undefeated with Win over Environmental
Junior Shun Bitar gets vertical as he spikes the ball.
set 25-12. “It was really exciting to get in the game and make some plays. I feel like I’ve improved a lot since freshman year, and I hope that I grow as a player to earn more opportunities,” Mitchell said. The entire team was proud of Mitchell; teammates surrounded him in a huddle and cheered his name. Like the first set, the beginning of the second saw the lead change a couple of times, with neither team being able to really pull away. Soon the Eagles retook the lead, but it was short-lived, as they continued to make unforced mistakes. As the Beasts once again took a large lead, near the end of the match, Choubaralian subbed in some more sophomore players, Scott Abramowitz and Mitchell Leung, to give them some playing time. Abramowitz won the game point
by hitting the ball off of the opposing block and out of bounds. In the future, Choubaralian will be looking to use his younger players in more games, in order to give them more experience for future seasons. “I anticipate the sophomores are going to improve. Throughout the years, [all the players] have improved. I expect the same for my sophomores and freshmen.” With only one more game to go, the team is looking to have a deep run in the playoffs. They will be seeded amongst top teams and wish to focus on improving smaller things. “Our team has highly anticipated playoffs since the beginning of the season—it’s exciting and motivating to know that we have had such a successful regular season and have a lot of potential to finish the season strong,” junior Kevin Li said.
Peglegs Take Back Division Lead from Beacon continued from page 28
Following victories over William C. Bryant and Norman Thomas the following week, the Peglegs sit atop the AAA Western league at
9-2, with Beacon sitting one game behind at 7-2. Going forward, the team will look to continue their impeccable defense, which many credit as a main reason for their success this year. “Our defense this year has been lights out. Last year mak-
ing a routine play was celebrated, but now, it’s actually just a routine play. Having a strong defense behind me makes me feel more confident as a pitcher because I don’t feel the need to strike everyone out,” Lange said. Aside from the blowout loss
against Beacon, the pitching staff has allowed only 18 runs through ten games and will look to continue their dominance on the mound in the final stretch of the season. “We have to continue playing our style of baseball, not letting the opposing pitcher quick pitch us,
playing small ball and keeping up our timely hitting, strong defense and solid pitching. We still have a lot of season left so hopefully we can continue playing like a team. The boys have worked hard all year and it is showing.” said Carlesi.
Huskies on the Hunt Looking for 6 in a Row By Tahsin Ali and Perry Wang Riding a five-game winning streak, the Stuyvesant girls’ lacrosse team looked forward to continuing its electric play in a rematch against Christopher Columbus Campus. The first game between the two schools saw the Huskies win a closely contested battle by a score of 7-5. They hoped to win by an even greater margin than their previous victory against Columbus, but had a good idea of how much they would have to scrap and claw in order to beat the opposing Sharks again. The rematch saw complete domination by the Huskies, who outscored the Sharks 14-4. This came after a long a stretch of excellent play in previous games,
which saw them outscore their opponents by a score of 64-25 in six games and ascend up the divisional standings to contest the only two teams they have lost to: Hunter and Bronx Science. The Huskies were able to play well at both ends of the field to secure their sixth win in a row. Senior and co-captain Lucy Wang had an exceptional day, tallying 10 goals on 19 shots, which brings her season total to 72 and puts her in first place for the most goals in all of the Public School Athletic League. Her excellent play has frustrated opposing teams and coaches while garnering high praise from her teammates. “Lucy’s been absolutely amazing for us,” junior and co-captain Inbar Pe’er said. Junior Leila Storkamp was also a standout and showed off
her all-around ability on the field with three goals, two assists, and nine ground balls. Her recent performance brings her season total for goals up to 18, second only to Wang on the team. In addition to scoring goals, the Huskies have also been a near perfect embodiment of the adage: “Defense wins championships,” as they have complemented their impressive offense with lockdown defense. Senior and co-captain Maddie Ostergaard has done a good job of protecting the net, keeping the Sharks at bay with 15 saves and holding them to only four goals. The defensive players on the team also played exceptionally well, constantly pressuring their opponents and preventing many shots from even reaching Ostergaard. Led by mostly juniors, the defense has
found new life during the current win streak. “Our defense has really stepped up a lot, and we’ve gotten better at shutting girls down,” Pe’er said. The team came into the season with many players from last year gone, uncertainty about who would be their next coach, and few chances to practice due to inclimate weather. These obstacles have fueled the team to achieve success, and it has been evident in their play. They have already doubled their win total from last season, with five games still remaining. “We have even more motivation, and I think we have really come together as a team,” Storkamp said. Wang has been able to witness the transformation of the lacrosse team from her first few seasons, where the playoffs were
nothing more than a pipe dream. Her leadership has been an integral part of the change of the lacrosse team at Stuyvesant and it has been especially influential this season. She has been a vocal leader and has not been shy to push to her team to the success they are capable of achieving. She has also done a great job of leading by example, with the city’s second place goal scorer sitting at just 48 goals on the year, 24 fewer than Wang. The Huskies will look to continue their win streak in the final part of the season. Their final five games include rivals Hunter High School and Bronx Science, and the team will be playing with an edge in those games, as they will have a major influence on their standings.
May 8, 2017
The Spectator SpoRts Baseball
Peglegs Take Back Division Lead from Beacon
Tasdid Khandaker / The Spectator
Boys’ Lacrosse vs. Lehman Campus Randall’s Island Field 84
Monday Senior Dean Steinman prepares for an incoming pitch against Norman Thomas High School.
By Tahsin Ali and Ariel Melendez Bottom of the seventh and final inning, two outs, and senior Joseph Halim was lined up at the plate with senior Kenneth Chu on second base. The game was tied up at 2-2 in a rematch against the same Beacon High School Blue Demons team that had defeated the Peglegs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ baseball team, 11-1 a day earlier. The Blue Demons pulled ahead 2-0 early in the game, but a rally in the bottom of the fifth brought them back with big hits from Halim and senior and co-captain Tobias Lange to tie up the game, setting up a walk-off situation for Halim. “When I walked up to the plate, I knew that the fate of the game could rest on my shoulders, and I didn’t want to let my teammates down. The fact that we were playing our rival school only intensified the pressure. When I stepped in the batter’s box my mind cleared, I knew I had to keep the inning alive no matter what” said Halim. With the embarrassment of their loss now behind them and a chance to win just one hit away,
the Peglegs were determined not to drop their third straight game. Halim delivered, driving a fastball down the middle to the left field fence and bringing Chu home in walk-off fashion, moving the Peglegs to 7-2 on the season and to the top of their division over Beacon. “I knew we had a good chance of winning especially after knocking their starter out of the game. Halim has been hitting the ball well lately and I was surprised that Beacon did not intentionally walk him to keep the force play in order. The Beacon win was a total team effort” said head coach John Carlesi. The victory was led by stellar pitching from Lange, who threw a complete game with seven strikeouts, an impressive zero walks, and two runs allowed (one earned). He also helped the team on the offensive side of the ball with a huge two-out, RBI-single in the fifth inning to tie the game at two. Despite a tough start, with Beacon scoring one in each of the first two innings, Lange continued his fantastic season and pitched a nearly impeccable gem for the remainder of the game. “Beacon is our rival, and we wanted it so badly
against them, we put the previous game behind us and just focused on the game at hand. I had done well against Beacon last year and felt confident I could do the same this year,” Lange said. Following a strong outing against Norman Thomas the following week, he remains undefeated in his starts this season, with five wins on the season along with 44 strikeouts in 35 innings, and an ERA of 1.00. Halim also had an impressive game, with game highs of two hits and two RBI’s, as well as a walk. It goes without saying that the walk-off double was a nice finishing touch on a solid game for both Halim and the Peglegs as a whole. He leads the AAA Western Division in batting average (.424), hits (14), and is second in slugging percentage (.667) behind teammate Jack Archer (.828), who is tied for the top spot in all AAA divisions in home runs (3). Despite the victory over Beacon, the Peglegs’ undefeated run to start the season came to an end with back-to-back losses against John Adams and Beacon.
Girls’ Lacrosse vs. Bronx Science Randall’s Island Field 82
Boys’ Lacrosse vs. Lehman Campus Randall’s Island Field 84
WRAPUP With wins against Fiorello H LaGuardia and Martin L. King, the Girls’ Handball team, the Peglegs, improved to a record of 9-1 and finished the season tied for first place in the Manhattan division. The Boys’ Handball team, the Dragons, beat Walton Campus and the Bronx HS of Science to bring their record to 12-0 and finish first in the Bronx/Manhattan division. The Birdies, Stuyvesant’s Girls’ Badminton team, beat the HS of Fashion Industries but lost to Seward Park Campus. With a record of 8-1, they are in second place in the Manhattan Division.
continued on page 27
Hitmen Look to Bounce Back After Bronx Science Loss
By CELINA LIU and JEREMY RUBIN
mance in their upcoming games. In previous years, the team struggled playing against other schools in their division, but this year they have capitalized against the weaker teams, such as Hunter College High School (3-5), High School of American Studies (2-5), and Eleanor Roosevelt High School (0-8), against whom Stuyvesant is undefeated. Coach Marvin Autry believes the mentality of their team going into the matches has had a significant impact on their performance. “Most of my guys, in fact all of them, think that we’re going to win every match, even against Beacon,” Autry said. The team has every reason to be confident, with many improved returning players. “[Junior] Derek [Lung] has been more dominant, as well as [Pustilnik] and [junior] Michael Kaydin,” he said, proud of the players who have stepped up in the recent months. Last year, the Hitmen were able to reach semifinals of the playoffs with a 5-5 regular season record. This year, with playoff inclusion clinched, the team can concentrate on its preparation for the coming games. Wakefield is justifiably optimistic as well as proud of the team’s growth over the season. “We have definitely stepped up our game. The team has a lot of love for each other and [for] tennis,” he said. One component of being on a team the Hitmen have worked on
Stefan Engquist / The Spectator
Senior and co-captain Zachary Wakefield, with his doubles partner senior Julian Neuman, bore down against Hunter College High School’s tandem. After a back and forth rally with neither side giving in, the other team finally crumbled, and Stuyvesant won the point. Wakefield, fired up, shouted at the top of his lungs, simultaneously crushing Hunter’s late rally and energizing his own teammates. The two would go on to win their sets 10-4, contributing to Stuyvesant’s boys’ tennis team’s 4-1 victory on April 24. The starters dominated, and the only loss was due to a backup replacing a member of the starting lineup. The Doubles teams were especially strong, with seniors Brandon Huang and Chris Zhao defeating Hunter’s men 10-4 as well. Just two days later, in its most recent match, the Hitmen’s performance made for one of the more forgettable matches, as they were shut out by the Bronx High School of Science 5-0. However, the team will not lose sleep over this thrashing, considering the circumstances. It was the night of the school concert, so the team was playing shorthand. “It was very much an outlier,” Wakefield said. “We were missing [more than half ] of our starters and were up against one of the toughest
teams in the league, so of course it was clear we were not going to be victorious.” The intense rivalry between the Wolverines and the Hitmen is nothing new, as earlier in the year, Stuyvesant defeated them in a hard-fought 3-2 win at Pier 40. This time, even though the match probably had a foregone conclusion, the Wolverines joked around and did not take the games seriously. This angered some members of the Stuyvesant team, who believed that Bronx Science should have won in a more respectful manner. “Bronx Science didn’t have the best attitude about the match,” Wakefield said. “They took it all [somewhat] as a joke.” Tensions are high between these two squads, and this rivalry will undoubtedly pervade in the case of any postseason matchups. This season, the Hitmen are tied for second in their division with a respectable record of 5-2. However, the team believes they can improve that mark before the regular season ends. “I think that we’re on track to be 7-3. We should win two matches, and then Beacon [High School] is very tough,” junior Nicholas Pustilnik said. Stuyvesant will face Beacon on May 8 and will end the season on May 10 with a match against High School of American Studies. A 7-3 finish for the Hitmen could be the difference between second and third place, depending on Bronx Science’s perfor-
Senior Zach Wakefield returns a shot against High School of American Studies.
this year is dedication. “I think the guys have learned about not just winning and losing, but also about the commitment to just getting to the away matches or a match on time and being responsible,” Autry said. The Bronx Science game aside, the Hitmen are in good
shape as the season winds down and only three matches remain. With a strong finish, the team can secure a higher seed than last year and perhaps will have a chance to face Bronx Science in a playoff rubber match.