The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
Volume CIV No.9
February 5, 2014
When senior Soham Daga was first told he was an Intel Finalist, his immediate response was something like, “Wow wow wow wow oh my god wow wow wow.” But, considering Daga is also the captain of policy debate and thus accustomed to speaking very quickly, it probably sounded more like “wowowowowohmygodwow.” Daga, whose project dealt with using Google Trends to predict patterns in the economy, was especially surprised when he heard he was one of the forty finalists chosen from across the nation, because social science projects rarely make it to the finalist stage. In fact, there was only one other finalist this year besides Daga whose project related to social sciences. Furthermore, Daga has cleared a spot for his name in the record books by becoming Stuyvesant’s first Intel Finalist with a social sciences project. In his project, Daga examined the relationship between information on Google Trends, which contains data on where and in what quantity certain terms are searched, and mortgage delinquency. Mortgage delinquency is a phenomenon that occurs when borrowers are unable to return money to the loaners as explained in a contract. Daga decided to link Google Trends to delinquency because of the widespread use of Google. “Everyone uses Google nowadays; my five-year old sister uses it,” Daga said. In his paper, Daga explained that giving banks models to accurately predict how many of their loans will be paid back would be valuable in preventing a fiscal crisis, as unpaid bank loans was one of the major causes
leading to the 2008 recession. Prior to Daga’s project, the predictors of delinquency could not see very far into the future and had a large percent error. Using data from ten different search terms on Google Trends, Daga succeeded in creating models that could predict a delinquency crisis from six to 18 months in advance with only about 1.8 percent error. This achievement enables banks to use the knowledge that a mortgage delinquency crisis might be approaching to cut down on their loans, which would help prevent another recession. Large businesses like Citibank recognize the potential usefulness of Daga’s models and have already begun to use them. Though Daga’s final models are very accurate and have wide implications, coming up with the equations that guide these models was very difficult, and Daga had to overcome numerous obstacles throughout the process. One of the hardest problems for Daga was coming up with the ten search terms he wanted to use to guide his models. Daga came up with his initial list of terms by meeting with an industry expert and brainstorming possible terms people might search when having trouble repaying loans. After eliminating some terms because of insufficient data on Google Trends and specifying other terms, Daga generated a list of 58 terms, ranging from “I am in debt” to “mortgage complaint.” He further narrowed down this list by making sure that some of the final terms had a long-term correlation with mortgage rates and others had a short-term correlation. continued on page 4
Behind the Malfunctioning Alarms By Joanne Ha and Ariel Levy When the school fire alarms went off during fifth period on Monday, January 6, without prior notification of a planned fire drill, teachers were unsure whether to exit the building or remain inside. After a period of five minutes, Assistant Principal of Organization Saida Rodriguez-Tabone eventually announced over the loudspeakers to disregard the alarms. It was one of several times the malfunctioning system has accidentally been triggered in the past three weeks. When a fire alarm sounds, the administration first must determine if there is an actual fire. Staff members look at the control panel to determine the location from which the alarm was triggered. One of the school engineers is then sent to the location of the triggered alarm and evaluates the situation. “Sometimes someone pulls the alarm, sometimes a switch breaks, and sometimes a smoke alarm goes off,” custodian Fred Arnebold said. “The most recent time, a sprinkler line broke in the school cafeteria,” he said. After determining if it is a malfunction, Rodriguez-Tabone is notified and proceeds to alert the school via the public address system. Because the elevator doors are automatically shut during a fire alarm, the amount of time it takes to evaluate the situation can vary based on the location of the triggered alarm. The school administration has been investigating the causes of these accidents for some time. Arnebold has referred the issue for special attention to the Division of School Facilities. This institution is responsible for the safety
Jin Hee Yoo / The Spectator
Acclaimed Writer Chang Rae Lee Comes to Stuy
Asian American author Changrae Lee visited Stuyvesant on January 22.
By Jane Argodale “You can ask me about my books, you can ask me what it’s like to be a writer, you can even ask me about Princeton, but keep in mind I’m not involved in admissions. But maybe, if
you’re really nice to me, we can have something arranged,” acclaimed writer and Princeton University creative writing professor Chang-Rae Lee said with a chuckle at the beginning of his visit to Stuyvesant High School. Lee came to the Stuyvesant library during and after 10th period on Wednesday, January 22 at the invitation of English teacher Sophie Oberfield and her Asian American Literature class. Her class had read his first published novel, “Native Speaker,” and Lee’s visit came on the heels of the release of his fifth and most recent novel, the dystopic “On Such a Full Sea.” Rather than giving a lecture on a single topic, Lee dived straight into Q&A, taking questions from students on everything from how he became a writer to his use of a comparison between food and sex in a scene in “Native Speaker.” After the talk, Lee signed copies of his books, and one student’s AP Calculus review book.
Senior Elena Milin came to see Chang-Rae Lee as a fan of his work, and was impressed with the format he chose as well as the answers he gave. “It was really interesting to see Mr. Lee speak, because even though he just had us ask questions instead of giving a structured talk, the conversation between him and the audience flowed very well. It felt honest and organic,” she said. From his visit, students learned a great deal about Lee’s writing process and career. One secret that Lee exposed to students was about his first novel— not “Native Speaker”, which is his first published novel, but a story written the year after he quit his job on Wall Street to become a writer. The novel was so terribly written that no publisher gave it so much as a second glance, but Lee said that this helped prove to him that writing was what he really wanted to do. “After that setback, instead of giving up, I wrote another novel,” he said.
and maintenance of all buildings under the jurisdiction of the City of New York’s school system. However, the cause of the most recent incident is still unknown. “We do not know why the alarms have been going off the past few weeks,” Principal Jie Zhang said. Fire alarms have accidentally been triggered many times in the past under former Principal Stanley Teitel’s administration. “It has happened many times in the past before; it might happen again in two seconds; it might happen again in two months,” Arnebold said. He believes the school simply needs to replace the system. “It has been in place since the construction of the building,” he said. “Right now there isn’t enough money, but we need a new one.” A more striking concern involved with the malfunctioning alarms is the safety hazard that it poses. “I think the malfunctioning fire alarm system is, in theory, a huge safety risk to students and faculty, especially in a ten-floor environment such as Stuy,” said sophomore Samuel Zhang. Freshman Cade Leuker agrees, believing that the multiple accidental alarms decrease the influential effect they are supposed to have. “The fire alarm malfunction causes distrust of fire alarms and causes people to be delayed and less reactive,” he said. Regarding the safety concerns connected to the faulty alarm system, Assistant Principal of Security, Safety, and Student Affairs Brian Moran declined to comment. Some students are dissatisfied with the alarm system for different reasons. Freshman Lydia Choi, for example, was annoyed because of the time wasted dealing with the accidental alarms. “During the fire
Justin Kong / The Spectator
How to Google Your Way to Intel By Ariella Kahan
“The Pulse of the Student Body”
Fire alarms have sounded irregularly for the past three weeks due to a defective alarm system.
drill, I tried to go to the library after lunch and the staff forced me to go downstairs, but then I had to go back up again. It took up 20 minutes of my time when I had a physics test, so I couldn’t study and got stressed,” she said. Others, however, are less worried by the issues caused by the alarms. “I have no complaints. There is some technical malfunction, but things happen; the main thing is all of our safety,” said Social Studies teacher Michael Waxman. Many students share the same opinion, saying that the malfunctions with the alarm system aren’t very important. “In practice, few fires have ever occurred at Stuy, if at all, so it shouldn’t be that much of a concern,” Samuel Zhang said. Junior Victor Gaitour agreed. “There are definitely bigger problems in the school than [the malfunctioning alarms],” he said.
see photo essay on page 4
Special on Pages 13 - 16: Surveying Homework, Sleep, Social Life, and Drug Use
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
News By Tina Jiang Starting this spring semester, Research Coordinator Rebecca Gorla will step down from her position. The Research Coordinator serves as a guide for students conducting research, especially for Intel projects, during their high school careers. From the start, Gorla had worries about taking the Research Coordinator position. When Gorla was first approached by former Research Coordinator Dr. Jonathan Gastel, she expressed limited desire to take the position, due to the great amount of responsibility it held. However, under the impression that the large responsibility would be balanced by more compensatory time (the number of non-teaching periods a teacher will receive to compensate for extra work) Gorla accepted the position. During the summer, Gorla had second thoughts about accepting the position when she discovered that she would not get the six non-teaching periods in compensatory time she thought she would. She was, however, quickly reassured that this would not be an issue and so did not relinquish her post, settling for four non-teaching periods of compensatory time. But late into the fall semester, Gorla was informed that Principal Jie Zhang was considering cutting her compensatory time to two non-teaching periods. “This was the deal breaker and catalyst for me. Being Research Coordinator takes a lot of time and there are many responsi-
bilities that include helping the students find mentors, opportunities, coordinating the competitions, dealing with paperwork, getting funds, and more,” Gorla said. “I could not effectively do my job without getting a certain amount of time apart from teaching to focus on the responsibilities of the position.” According to Gorla, when she went to Zhang to make her case for getting more compensatory time, Zhang said that in the near future it would be a possibility. “At this point, the decisions regarding compensatory time had changed too much for me to believe that I would get what I wanted,” Gorla said. Zhang declined to comment The other issue that informed Gorla’s decision to resign from her Research Coordinator position was the lack of influence she felt she had. “The position requires a lot of interdepartment collaboration. I had zero authority and could not effectively represent research interests,” she said. Gorla feels that increasing her compensatory time, possibly so that she doesn’t teach at all, and making the Research Coordinator position a full time position would put her on par with the Assistant Principals. This would allow for more effective direct communication with the principal, something she feels would largely benefit the research program. Ever since Gorla’s announcement of her decision to leave the Research Coordinator position after the fall semester ends, the administration has struggled
Screenwriter James Solomon Visits Stuyvesant By Rebecca Chang with additional reporting by Ariel Levy and Henry Walker
Screenwriter James Solomon visited two AP U.S. History classes taught by social studies teacher Robert Sandler on January 13. Solomon wrote and co-produced The Conspirator, a historical drama about the Civil War era that the classes had watched days before. The movie investigates the multiple assassination attempts that occurred on the night of President Abraham Lincoln’s death. The assassins had plotted to kill Lincoln, Secretary of State Edwin Stanton, and Vice President Andrew Johnson. The film focuses on a particular suspect, Mary Surratt, who was accused of conspiring to kill the officials. It is told from the perspective of her attorney, Frederick Aiken, who initially thinks she is guilty but changes his mind as the movie progresses. “As I talked to him about this over the phone, it just sounded like an amazing story,” Sandler said. “He talked to Robert Redford, […] and he had consultants who were actually consultants in the military tribunals during the Bush administration.” During his presentation, Solomon shared that The Conspirator was his passion project, and that he even worked on it without any pay because he was so interested in the trial of Surratt. Like most of the students in Sandler’s class, Solomon didn’t know there were multiple assassins that night until he began working on the movie. Another aspect of the film that Solomon emphasized was the reality of the situation and the characters. “History is real people making real decisions in
real time,” Solomon said. “They have no hindsight like we do.” Because of Solomon’s work on the film, he received the 2012 Humanitas Prize, which awards movies that highlight the good of humanity. Sandler admired how the movie could be applied to other trials, since one of its goals was to show the injustice in the trials of war criminals. Both before and after Solomon’s presentation, Sandler required his students to blog about their experience watching the movie and listening to Solomon talk. “[From the blogs,] I learned more about my own film,” Solomon said. “Sometimes after you see things through the eyes of others, it really helps.” “The blog was a good thing,” junior Alexander Oltarsh said. “[Solomon] knew what we were interested in and what we had talked about in class.” Solomon enjoyed speaking to the classes and sharing his story. “It was thrilling [and] I really wish I had more time to talk to the students,” he said. “I especially liked when he told us to do something that keeps us awake,” junior Derek Tsui said. “He spent 18 years working on this, and we really got to understand the enthusiasm that he put into it and how he wants us to put enthusiasm into our life projects as well.” However, students did believe that there were some weak points. “It was surprising that he wasn’t actually talking about history in the presentation,” junior Stephanie Lin said. “If he tried to tie it more with American history, then it would’ve been better.” Overall, the experience was a good one. “I feel really lucky that we had him come,” Sandler said. “The kids loved it and said it was an unbelievable experience.”
to find a replacement. “We have asked every single science teacher if they would like to take on the position and no one has stepped up,” Assistant Principal of Chemistry and Physics Scott Thomas said. Thomas believes that this is due to the large timecommitment the job would require. But he assures the student body that Zhang does have some ideas for filling the position that cannot be disclosed at this time. For now, Thomas will take over some of the responsibilities of the job. Thomas will not be taking on the Research Coordinator position formally. When asked if she would consider taking on the position again if an agreement was made regarding compensatory time and the amount of influence she has, Gorla said she would be reluctant. “I will not step up and I don’t think that anyone could step up until the level of influence has increased so that the job can fulfill its full potential.” Many students are upset that Gorla is stepping down as Research Coordinator “Ms. Gorla was by far one of the best teacher’s I’ve had in my time at Stuyvesant,” senior Samuel Matthew said. “She helped motivate me and helped me succeed in a class I was at first struggling in. She was definitely qualified to be the Research coordinator and her resignation from the position is going to be a big loss to the department and the program.” Some students believe that interest in research programs like Intel may drop as a result of
Eva I / The Spectator
Gorla Resigns From Research Coordinator Position
the issues with the Research Coordinator position. “I was originally going to take Intel in freshman year because of Dr. Gastel, but now because of the shifting positions, I will delay taking the Intel class until the administration sorts itself out,” sophomore Emma Bernstein said. “I worry that the support system that last year’s research students received will be absent this year and put me at a disadvantage,” she said. Most students are very understanding of the reasons for Gorla’s decision regarding the Research Coordinator position. “When Ms. Gorla wants to do something, she wants to do it to the best of her ability. She obviously wasn’t able to with the limits the administration placed on her and she didn’t want to do a mediocre job. It’s difficult job to be the research coordinator, so if she wasn’t able to get the influence she needed to work effectively, I understand her reasoning,” Senior Philip Shin said. Senior Zeerak Abbas, registered a different opinion. “A new
person doesn’t get influence in their first stint, they have to build and earn respect. Gorla had 11 semi-finalist in her first term, that’s a success, eventually she would have obtained whatever she wanted from the administration. She should have stuck it out,” he said. Senior Mandy Wong, however, doesn’t think anyone should be pointing fingers at all. “I don’t think blaming people will solve the problem. The underlying problem is that research coordinator is a high commitment job that should be made a fulltime position like in many other schools. There is nothing to gain by pointing fingers, especially since this is a problem that has existed since the position of research coordinator was created.” While students are still getting used to the change in staff, the administration and Gorla are moving forward. Both parties assure the student body they have plans for the Research Coordinator position.
Stuyvesant Celebrates Wellness at Fourth annual Health Fair
By David Mascio
Stuyvesant held its fourth annual Health Fair on Friday, January 24, after tenth period in the student cafeteria. The event was coordinated by the Stuyvesant Red Cross Club and SPARK. The goal of the Health Fair was to promote healthy behaviors in a fun environment. “The Health Fairs let us get the word out about how to stay healthy to a larger audience than we ever could before,” SPARK coordinator Angel Colon said.
“The Health Fairs let us get the word out about how to stay healthy to a larger audience than we ever could before.” — SPARK coordinator Angel Colon Admission to the fair was $6 at the door and $5 in advance. Admission cards were sold in advance from Tuesday, January 21 to Friday, January 24 near the second floor entrance throughout the school day and in the cafeteria during lunch periods. Seventeen clubs participated in the fair, putting up tables to spread awareness about various health topics. “Each club chose different topics to discuss. I think people get tired of facts by themselves. The fair mixes facts with fun activities,” said junior
and Random Acts of Kindness vice president Mikavla Ramnanan. Each admission card could be redeemed for six tickets. In exchange for tickets, clubs offered games, many times with a chance to a win prizes. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Spectrum (GLASS) educated students about HIV/AIDS and set up a ring toss game. Global Citizen Corps offered a chance to win a Barnes & Noble gift card for accurately guessing food calorie counts. The West Indian Club discussed diabetes and offered limbo. The Random Acts of Kindness Club let visitors play the video game “SoulCalibur.” Peer Partnership and Stuyvesant Relay for Life let visitors try their hand at dart games. Project Love and the Students Against Destructive Decisions Club educated visitors about alcoholism. To demonstrate what it was like to be drunk, the two clubs challenged people to play the towerbuilding game Jenga while wearing goggles that made it difficult to see. The Stuyvesant Environmental Club (SEC) offered a carbon footprint calculator and recycling-themed throwing game. “It’s important that people understand their impact on the environment. Even an individual can make a great difference,” said junior and SEC president Sidney Lok. Clubs also offered food and other goods for tickets, including quinoa salad, homemade gelatin fruits, and henna tattoos. The Stuyvesant Red Cross Club sponsored multiple activities at the Health Fair, including the video games “Dance Dance Revolution” and “Wii Sports.” “Dance Dance Revolution” was one of the most popular events at the fair, as visitors vied for a chance to compete on the dance pads. The club also made fruit
smoothies. In addition, Red Cross let visitors experience what it was like to have emphysema by having them exercise and then breathe through straws. The fair also featured performances to complement the booth activities. Two of these events, a Stuy Rave performance of the song “Summer Ashes” and a presentation by the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS) were new to the fair. JBFCS offers counseling services in Stuyvesant and at their center uptown. Though in previous years it has been its own event, BuildOn’s Pie-A-Teacher event was made a part of the health fair this year due to scheduling issues. Biology teacher Marissa Maggio, Assistant Principal of Safety and Student Affairs Brian Moran, biology teacher Gilbert Papagayo, and drafting teacher Steve Rothenberg were pied. Junior Daniel Kanter and senior Jiten Patel were also pied. Neighborhood businesses, including Barnes & Noble, Battery Place Market, Gourmet Market, Kitchenette, Shake Shack, Starbucks, and Whole Foods, played an important role in donating goods for the Health Fair. For example, Whole Foods donated sandwiches for the event. Stores also offered gift cards, which were raffled off at the fair. Stuyvesant’s Red Cross Club and SPARK considered the Health Fair to be a success. Colon attributes some of the success to the Red Cross’s use of social media to promote the event. Over 300 tickets were sold, and about $1,800 was raised. Part of the money will be used to fund the clubs that participated, while some of it will be donated to help out those affected by the recent typhoons in the Philippines.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
News DOE Releases New Social Media Guidelines
Seniors Given Choice to Opt Out of AMC
Philip Shin / The Spectator
By Ariel Levy
A senior uses the school network to access Facebook, one of the social media websites discussed in the DOE guidelines.
By Elena Milin The New York City Department of Education (DOE) has uploaded “Social Media Guidelines” for students onto its webpage. According to the guidelines themselves, they are meant to provide “information about how to use social media responsibly, both within and outside the school community.” The bulk of the document encourages students to monitor online presences and offers tips on how to do so. It also clarifies students’ rights when using social media—for example, the Fourth Amendment does not protect students who post inappropriate content using school social media. Principal Jie Zhang sent an email to the entire student body linking to the guidelines on Wednesday, January 15. Periodically, she checks the New York City DOE’s website, and when she saw the new guidelines, she decided to make use of Stuyvesant’s email system to make sure that students saw them as well. “I definitely think it’s a general reminder. But don’t forget that kids grow, so you have new thirteenyear-olds,” Zhang said. Zhang also mentioned that she monitors her own Facebook posts. “I do not write opinions. Nothing. Never. Occasionally I’ll post a family reunion picture online, so my friends, my relatives will see, but I don’t comment on people’s stuff, so I know that I will not get in trouble,” she said. Zhang said that at the high
school where she worked previously, she and other administrators occasionally received complaints from students who were made uncomfortable by something they had seen posted on social media, but that she does not look for potentially problematic posts, even if they are public. However, as many juniors and seniors are well aware, college admissions officers may search for applicants on social media. Many seniors change their Facebook names in order to make it harder for college admissions officers to look through their social media profiles, fearing that some things they post may hurt their chances of being accepted to their top-choice schools. Despite administrators’ concerns and the 2011 incident in which two Stuyvesant students uploaded a video of themselves rapping and using racial slurs, many students feel that the information contained in the social media guidelines should be obvious to students already in high school and is more useful for younger students. “[The information] might be useful for students younger than us, who haven’t really experienced, maybe used the Internet as often, or need more awareness,” senior Stephanie Stettner said. Many believe the guidelines won’t have any effect. “I just don’t see anyone reading this. I mean it’s like 10 years too late.” sophomore David Chen said. “It won’t have the splash they might want it to have.”
Hundreds of Stuyvesant students compete in the national American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) each year for a chance to represent the United States at the International Mathematics Olympiad. In the past, Stuyvesant students have frequently won recognition for achievements in this competition. For example last year, 113 students progressed to the second round of the competition, and one Stuyvesant ninth grader placed in the top 24 students in the country. Thus, special considerations have been made to maximize student participation in the competition. The school day has been shortened by three hours on the day of the exam, and it has been mandatory for all students in honors math, math team, or math research classes to participate in the competition. This year administrators have decided to change AMC requirements for seniors in honors math, who now have the option to forgo the test.”[Principal Jie Zhang’s] justification for [the decision] was: ‘By the time the results are released, it would have no impact on the college decision,’” said an anonymous teacher.”The seniors have no incentive to take the AMC.” After the policy adjustment, the math department staff had conflicting opinions concerning the change. “I was feeling ambivalent. I asked around, and there was a range of answers.” the teacher said. “On the one hand, seniors are busy. If you’re not a strong math student, I can understand not wanting to sit there for an hour and a half feeling bad about yourself. On the other hand, some teachers have said that this is a math and science school; if you’re in honors math you should have to take it,” the teacher said. Sophomore Samuel Zhang agrees that advanced math students should take the AMC. “Students should be prepared to achieve, or at least attempt, more difficult mathematics upon entering such a school, especially in the honors program.” he said. As a result of the recent change, many seniors in honors math have decided to forgo the
exam this year. “There was definitely a gleeful reaction when I announced the decision,” the teacher said. In the teacher’s class, 33 seniors opted out of the competition. While many seniors have chosen not to participate, others still plan on taking the AMC. “I do plan on taking it this year because I want to try to qualify for USAMO.” senior Youbin Kim said. (USAMO is the third level of the competition) As of now, the math department is not considering extending the choice to opt out of the AMC to other grades, as the decision is meant to ease pressure on seniors. Even so, some students believe that underclassmen should be given the option of not taking the exam. “The AMC is highly competitive, and some people might not like or be comfortable with the competitive environment brought about by the AMC.” sophomore Brandon Lin said. However, other students believe that the administration’s requirement policies are valid. “I don’t feel it’s a bad thing they have to take it. If you care, it will be competitive, but that’s why you want to take it. If you don’t want to take it, don’t give it any notice, it doesn’t count for anything, and all that happened was you lose two hours.” sophomore Avery Karlin said. Some students think that while the AMC should be encouraged, it does not need to be required. “They should encourage students to take it, but with benign methods... Overachieving students will usually take the exam anyways.” Zhang said. In addition to changing AMC requirement policies, there was also consideration to remove the competition as a built-in part of the school day schedule. Every teacher in the school was given a vote in the decision, and ultimately the Stuyvesant faculty decided to maintain the current in school AMC schedule. Even so, some believe that there is a connection between the policy change and proposed schedule change. “A lot of us felt this was just the first step in dismantling the AMC system.” the teacher said.
Newsbeat • The Speech and Debate team placed first at the Columbia invitational tournament on the weekend of Friday, January 24, beating the 49 other teams. • Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Dolle spoke to social studies teacher Linda Weissman’s Civil Law class. Dolle, an expert on sex trafficking, led an open discussion on the victimization of young women around the world. • Seven Stuyvesant teams qualified for the finals in NYU’s Technology, Culture and Society competition, more than any other school in the nation. Teams submitted videos or essays answering specific prompt questions about how technology affects and shapes other facets of society. The winning teams will receive cash prizes and NYU engineering scholarships ranging from $12,000 to $20,000. • New York City was hit with 11 inches of snow on Wednesday, January 22. Although public schools remained open, overall student attendance across the city was 47 percent, a huge decrease from the 90 percent average attendance rate in January. At Stuyvesant, however, 89 percent of students attended school.
Funding Clubs and Pubs: A Closer Look By Julia Ingram with additional reporting by Hyun Jin Kim Stuyvesant is known for its wide variety and abundance of clubs, publications, and teams. This variety, however, comes with a cost. The administration, Parents Association (PA), and Student Union (SU) usually control the budget and distribution of funds for clubs and pubs, but other outside sources contribute to Stuyvesant’s extracurricular activities as well. At Stuyvesant, just about anyone can form a club. Any group of students, as long as they have a faculty adviser, can form a club after filling out the Clubs and Publications Charter Application which is later approved by the SU and Principal Jie Zhang. This ensures that they will follow the Department of Education (DOE) and SU guidelines, along with their stated goal and purpose. “The SU has a certain amount of budget that varies from year to year and is allocated to clubs and pubs because part of the Student Union’s responsibility is to provide funding for clubs so they can pursue what they want to do,” SU President Eddie Zilberbrand said. Despite the large role the SU plays in getting a club or pub started, the SU’s Club/Pub Handbook states that no club or pub is guaranteed funding. Instead,
clubs and pubs sign up to attend budget meetings throughout the school year, where they can request a grant or loan. The SU hopes to have four budget meetings this year. The SU later decides how much money they are willing to allocate to that club. After that, the clubs are set up with one of three SU budget advisors who help distribute money to the clubs. Most club requests amount to less than $500, but for those that request more, their faculty advisor must be present at the budget meeting in order to make the request. Many clubs have benefitted from the financial assistance of the SU and PA, such as the Environmental Club. The SU has recently given a grant to the Environmental Club to fund the Earth Day event for this year. The PA has also granted proposals for various supplies such as gloves, wipes, and hand sanitizer for the students sorting the trash in the cafeteria. Additionally, the garbage cans in the hallways were purchased by Ms. Zhang. “We’ve never had difficulties and the administration has been really supportive of the initiatives,” said Marissa Maggio, faculty advisor for the Environmental Club. Sports teams also seek funding from the PA, though they are not as reliant on the SU for funding. The Public Schools Athletic League funds only a very small percentage of materials. In fact,
they state that when schools apply to create teams, the schools are responsible for funding transportation, uniforms, equipment, officials for non-league games, and security. Sports teams must rely on both the PA and the alumni association to fund these things. Clubs also seek outside support for funding. The Robotics Club, for example, is more dependent on outside sponsors and students for funding. The Robotics Club gets funding from DEShaw, Con Edison, Bloomberg, and many other companies. The club is run primarily by students, so they communicate with sponsors and organize requests. However, they do not view the lack of inside support as a disadvantage. “Students are proud that our team is self-sustaining and operated by students. We learn valuable lessons from our experiences, and by the time team members graduate, they will become competent marketers/ engineers,” said Robotics Club Vice President Sungwoo Park in an e-mail interview. Additionally, students are also required to pay a $100 fee to cover the cost of materials and $150 deposit for a bus for competitions. The Speech and Debate team also requires students’ deposits, but these teams can also request funding from the SU for students who cannot afford these fees. Online sources, such as a
website called DonorsChoose, also help fund clubs. On DonorsChoose, any teacher can post proposals, and then anyone can contribute to the funding of a proposal. Stuyvesant alumni have donated from this website, including one of the largest contributors to the Environmental Club, George Hom. The allocation of funding has not changed much with the recent shift in administration. “The SU still follows the same method in running budget meetings. With clubs and pubs, we’ve just tried to make sure we’re following DOE rules more closely, because some of the statements were urging on the side of being cautious this year, and we just wanted to make sure that everything was up to date,” SU President Eddie Zilberbrand said. Despite this, the way the administration monitors the clubs has slightly changed with the shift in administration. Previously, Ms. Damesek oversaw how the clubs were functioning and made sure they were abiding by the rules. She ensured that the clubs used materials purchased with money from the SU for their school purposes. Now, however, different staff members oversee each floor. Students have differing opinions on how the allocation of funding is run. Some students find it hard to abide by the Student Union’s funding system
for smaller clubs. Sophomore Troy Ramsarran, founder of the Guitar Club, was denied funding by the SU because of a late submission of paperwork and an unofficial faculty advisor. His faculty advisor is Mr. Lack, a substitute teacher at Stuyvesant. However, Ramsarran is also in the Technology Department of Science Olympiad and has had different experiences with the SU when requesting money for Science Olympiad. “SciOly is getting funded very well by the SU. The school’s pretty supportive because we win a lot of awards at the Regionals and the States Competition almost every year,” he said. Other students believe things are run very smoothly. “The amount of money given to a club should be voted on a wide basis, like the student caucuses and student counsels,” said freshman Melanie Chow when asked how she thinks funds should be allocated. Freshman Caucus Vice President Zuhra Tukhtamisheva confirms that Chow’s ideas actually have gone into effect. “The SU is very organized. We have budget meetings where representatives of each grade vote on budget decisions. Everyone basically gets a fair say and decisions are very carefully made,” she said.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Courtesy of Soham Daga
How to Google Your Way to Intel
continued from page 1
This whole process was very time consuming, and Daga often spent hours at a time working to find the perfect ten terms. The golden ten ended up being Prevent Foreclosure, Foreclosure Notice, Negative Home Equity, Lost My Job, Lower Mortgage, Strategic Default, Value Appraisal, Mortgage Modification, Reduce Mortgage, and Delinquency. Upon finding these terms, Daga had to create equations and test his models. “We had data available about delinquency from 2005 through 2012, but we only used data from 2005 through 2011. After creating the model, we
compared the predicted value to the actual value,” Daga explained. This comparison of predicted values to actual values confirmed the accuracy of Daga’s models, informing him that his models only had a 1.8 percent error. Another struggle Daga encountered was trying to fit all sixteen of his variables into his models. These variables accounted for various aspects of the equations relating the Google Trends data to the mortgage delinquency data, and each was very significant to each model. Trying to fit each variable into each term was a difficult and ultimately impossible quest, which was very frustrating for Daga. It got especially challenging towards the end when the models were almost perfect, and if Daga tried to tinker with them to fit in one more variable, the whole model would collapse. However, Daga managed to persevere through all of these aggravating instances and was eventually able to fit most of the variables into each equation. While Daga has clearly had a lot of success with his project, he was not always fixed on working with business and social sciences for his Intel Project. He considered researching biology- or physics-related topics, as he
enjoys both of those subjects. However, Daga decided to pursue a business-related idea, despite its reduction of his chances of winning Intel, because he feels truly passionate about the subject. “I
“I decided to do social science because it was my interest and it was what I had a lot of background in.” —Soham Daga, senior and Intel Finalist decided to do social science because it was my interest and it was what I had a lot of background in,” Daga said. His fascination in business and finance is somewhat of a family tradition, since both his father and grandfather worked in this field. However,
they had no palpable impact on Daga’s decision, and they “told [him] to do whatever [he] wants,” Daga said. Daga ultimately decided to pursue his idea of linking data from Google trends to mortgage rates, and he found a mentor for his project while talking to his father’s colleagues in a business firm. Daga found his mentor Gina Papush, an analyst at Citibank, after explaining his idea for the project to her, and he is very grateful that she agreed to mentor him. In addition to revising Daga’s paper, Papush frequently spoke to Daga during his summer internship at Citibank, assisting him in summarizing his findings and transferring his raw data into his models. “She agreed to mentor me, which was very nice of her and the main thing she did was that every week I had to summarize my results and show them to her,” Daga said. This weekly correspondence was only interrupted when Daga went to debate camp, though he continued to work on his project during his time there. Daga and Papush’s work has clearly paid off, not only in winning the Intel competition, but also in helping Daga develop new aspirations for his future. Though he is currently tak-
“Everyone uses Google nowadays; my five-year old sister uses it.” —Soham Daga, senior and Intel Finalist
ing some time off his project to worry about finals and college applications, Daga hopes to continue expanding on it by adding data from other social media sites into his models. “I hope to continue to explore the use of other sites and how YouTube videos can get used and incorporate that,” Daga said. In the future, Daga wants to study engineering and then combine his knowledge of engineering with social sciences to become a “social entrepreneur who develops products for people to use,” he said.
An anonymous artist has covered the school with small pieces of paper with the Portuguese word “imaginacao” in hopes of having an artistic impact on the students. These are some of the locations with this art, hidden in the corners of the building.
By Anne Duncan
The Spectator ● Febrary 5, 2014
Features Boom or Bust? Finding Fun in Science Labs By Kachun Leung and Lisa Shi With a pair of tweezers in hand, a chemistry teacher carefully holds a small aluminum Coke can filled with water over a Bunsen burner. The smell of gas fills the room and the class is jittery with excitement. After several seconds, steam begins to emerge from the can and the teacher asks the class if they are ready to hear a bang. The class nods with their eyes glued to the can, and upon dipping the Coke can in a small container of icy cold water, a small “pop” is heard. The class yelps in surprise and lets out a round of applause after seeing the can implode. Labs and classroom demonstrations like this one are typical of chemistry classes and are some of the things that make chemistry fun. Yet, a recent incident at Manhattan’s Beacon High School is an unfortunate example of what can occur when safety regulations are not followed. On January 2, chemistry teacher Anna Poole was performing a demonstration with methanol, which is highly flammable and can be set off by the smallest spark. Poole, in an attempt to show her class the effects that chemicals have on electrons, tried a fun demonstration where a rainbow is created through flames of various colors from burning four different nitrates. However, the lab went horribly awry and it ended with two students badly hurt. One escaped with minor burns, but the other, Alonzo Yanes, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. In the aftermath of this lab, the Department of Education (DOE) found many issues with the safety procedures being observed by Beacon High School. While it is unclear what exactly occurred, a press statement was released stating that a minimum of eight safety regulations had been violated in this accident by the school, including the the creation of a makeshift lab without the necessary safety equipment, the possession of an unlawful amount of chemical substances, and a lack of a shower or an eyewash in the designated lab room. The DOE has since consid-
ered banning this lab or urging schools to take further precautions due to a history of similar lab accidents where students were burned. This event illustrates an ongoing pattern of labs being removed from New York City public schools due to stringent safety restrictions, and Stuyvesant High
“Demonstrations are fun because you get to see science in action and that can definitely be achieved while still making safety the top priority” —Kristyn Pluchino, chemistry teacher School is no exception from these rules. In previous years the school conducted a number of dangerous experiments, but many of these labs have been banned. One such lab was explained by chemistry teacher Sushma Arora. “[Teachers] used to do a gummy bear demonstration that involved potassium chloride. However, [the chemical] decomposes to produce oxygen and there is a heightened risk of an explosion occurring. Chemicals like these and lycopodium powder, another highly flammable chemical, have since been made unavailable,” Arora said. This demonstration involved isolating pure oxygen in a tube, and then placing a sug-
ary gummy bear into it. A violent chemical reaction would then begin, leading to smoke and a succession of almost shrieking-like sounds coming from the tube. The gummy bear lab and many other such labs have since been removed, forcing teachers to do other labs and demonstrations. However, with the removal of some of these labs and demonstrations, chemistry teachers are having a harder time trying to both entertain and educate their classes. “It’s a tough balance. Kids are always wanting to be entertained by explosions or other eye candy,” chemistry teacher Dr. Jeffrey Kivi said. And although many students typically think of fun as work involving Bunsen burners and chemicals, chemistry teacher Kristyn Pluchino disagrees. “There’s not a lot that can be learned by constantly lighting things on fire...it’s just a combustion reaction! Demonstrations are fun because you get to see science in action and that can definitely be achieved while still making safety the top priority,” she said. For Stuyvesant’s chemistry teachers, the decision to have safe labs and demonstrations trumps the entertainment value of showing a dangerous experiment. The process of coming up with fun and safe chemistry labs can be difficult. Dr. Kivi later explained that a good number of proposed lab ideas were considered dangerous and had to be edited or scraped. “There are lots of great labs/experiments that are fun to do. But our first consideration is safety and [if] it is appropriate for a high school environment. That eliminates many, many possible labs,” Dr. Kivi said. However, in the past few years none of Stuyvesant’s labs or demonstration ideas have been scrapped, indicating that chemistry teachers feel confident about the safety exhibited by their labs. “Most of the labs we do are pretty standard for a high school chemistry curriculum. Since I’ve been here we’ve never removed a lab due to safety concerns,” Pluchino said. Yet even though Stuyvesant does not have a history of chemical mishaps, there have been a
few incidents where labs went astray. In the beginning of the fall semester, a student fainted in one of the chemistry labs due to causes not directly related to the chemistry lab room. The Assistant Principal of Security, Safety, and Student Affairs, Brian Moran, came within minutes to assist the teacher and bring the student to the nurse. In other instances when chemicals have been spilled they were always cleaned up and dealt with within minutes. When a student in one of Pluchino’s classes spilled a small amount of hydrogen chloride she quickly addressed the issue, and it was cleaned with baking soda and brought to the attention of the custodians. “In virtually every lab there is an element of danger. To minimize the hazards of chemistry lab, teachers give a pre-lab lecture and demonstration, directions are explicitly spelled out in the lab manual, and everyone in the lab is required to wear chemical splash goggles,” Pluchino said. Another crucial part of protecting students from dangerous chemicals is the presence of Lab Specialists throughout the various science departments. Stuyvesant’s Chemistry Lab Specialist Lois Pitula, an extensively trained “de facto safety officer” looks over the safety procedures and ensures that labs are safe before letting any students experiment. When problems with safety concerns do arise with labs, the chemistry department does its best to find alternative solutions to avoid the complete removal of a lab from the curriculum. For example, an easy way to adjust a lab is to replace certain dangerous chemicals with safer ones. “For instance, a chemical might become listed as a possible carcinogen. We then respond by replacing that chemical with a safer alternative,” Dr. Kivi said. Several of Stuyvesant’s chemistry labs have been altered due to dangerous chemicals, including a lab focused on mixing several different aqueous elements to see whether reactions form between the reagents. The NYC DOE recently banned one of the lab’s original chemicals, potassium chromate, and the chemistry department
simply swapped out the original chemical for sodium hydroxide. And when simply replacing a chemical with another one is not possible, teachers have other alternatives, including the power of the Internet. “We can Google things now. If there’s a classroom demonstration we can’t perform, if teachers need to demonstrate something that may be dangerous [they] could search up pictures and videos through the Internet,” Arora said. Unfortunately these videos are no replacement for the true excitement felt when doing a live experiment. Many students agree that labs are a fun and exciting way to enhance a science class, but are dissatisfied with the lab curriculum at Stuyvesant. “I feel like it’s really important to have more labs than we do, even if it’s not required by the state, so that we can get the most out of our science courses,” said sophomore Sophia Zheng in an email interview. Numerous other chemistry students echoed this sentiment and expressed their wishes to have more labs. “Labs are good, [but] more labs is better,” said sophomore Constantin Flocos. “It doesn’t matter if they’re boring.” However, others believe that boring labs don’t cut it and that there should be changes made to the school’s current policies towards Regents level labs. “[Labs] should allow students to actually apply chemistry, not just copy what a teacher does or read off a manual,” said sophomore Brandon Lin. Lin hopes that his wish will be fulfilled in an Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry class as those labs are more advanced and grant students with more freedom. In light of recent events, safety precautions with lab experiments have indeed resurfaced as a topic of contention within the DOE, but Stuyvesant is confident in its ability to balance fun and safety within its lab curriculum. Safety is a number one priority, but this is ultimately impossible to completely accomplish. “If we got rid of every single potential safety hazard, chemistry lab would be reduced to pencil and paper activities and computer simulations,” Pluchino said.
Sixty Minutes and a Clue or Two By Alexia Bacigalupi and Maisha Kamal From the outside, it’s a nondescript building in Midtown, one of thousands that crowd the New York City skyline. The interior is similarly deceptive: a tiny square office on the fifteenth floor with large windows filled with filing cabinets and chests. Books lie scattered across a desk in the corner and a painting adorns the bland, off-white wall—nothing that might give away exactly what is going on. The door closes with a resounding clack and the clock begins to tick. The 10 people trapped inside the room have precisely one hour to find the clues leading to the key that unlocks the door. Welcome to Escape the Room NYC, an interactive game that tests your cleverness and ability to think quickly under pressure. The goal is simple: find the hidden objects, figure out the clues and escape the room in under an hour. Getting out, however, is not so simple. Everything in the room—the painting, the clock, the books, the desk drawers—is part of the game, and contestants must put it all together in order make it out within the time frame. Two cluemasters remain
in the room to supervise and provide help with up to two clues. It is trickier than it sounds, and only about 20 percent of teams are successful. News of the game traveled like wildfire by word of mouth, which is how Stuyvesant senior Frances Shapiro and her friends found out about Escape the Room. “I’ve always loved detective shows and clues and scavenger hunts, [so] it sounded amazing,” said Shapiro, who, along with seniors Stanca Iacob, Sweyn Venderbush, Josephine Jenks, Maia Ezratty, Michael Sugarman, William Aung, and Dorit Rein, was part of a team that made it out of the room in a record 49:45—a record that has only recently been broken. The challenge was nothing like they expected. “[The room] seemed weirdly empty and didn’t really give you any indication of how or where to start,” said Iacob. Because of this, the team often found itself overthinking things. “One hilarious thing is all the things we found that weren’t supposed to be clues. We were obsessed with a signature in a book for a while that was not related to the game at all,” said Venderbush in an email interview. In the end, it was communi-
cation that helped the team come out on top. Communication in a game like this is problematic, but it is crucial to putting together the clues and finding the final key. Though the original plan was to work as a group and focus on clues together, the time pressure made that impossible. “We just had to communicate with each other and stay organized,” Shapiro said. “As time passed [...] we found our groove and caught each other’s mistakes or remembered an old clue that could help solve a new one.” They found their groove sure enough, making it out in record time. After finding the code to the final lock, “we saw the surprise in the host’s eyes, and we knew we had set the record even before he told us,” Venderbush said. “It was so weird hearing that we beat the record, but in the back of my mind it made sense; we’re a bunch of Stuy students who are great friends—it’s the perfect combination,” added his teammate Shapiro. Other Stuyvesant students decided to try their luck as well, including juniors Lydia Wu and Coby Goldberg. “I used to solve puzzles with my dad when I was younger,” said Wu, who found out about the event from a friend
when it first started. The duo ended up working with a group of strangers, which made things more difficult. “You’re looking for keys and clues and trying to coordinate and figure out everyone’s names and talk to them at the same time,” explained Wu. Along with the complication of attempting to escape the room with people they didn’t know, Wu and Goldberg encountered other obstacles as well. “You have to remember exactly where everything was because [...] the placement of [an object] on the table is a clue essentially. So you were just trying to take everything in and remember everything and it only g[ets] worse because you were like, ‘oh God, time’s running out, I gotta do this,’” Wu said. Though they didn’t solve all the clues in time, Wu said, “it was a really weird concept but a lot of fun.” Another group of Stuyvesant students consisted of seniors Danielle Polin, Wan Qi Kong, Stephanie Liang, Choi Mak, Vera Pertsovskaya, Cassandra Silano, Brian Ye, and alumna Hema Lochan (‘12), who formed “Team Gale.” They, too, decided to split up the clues, a tactic that was clearly very effective, for Ye found a clue hidden in a secret compart-
ment of a piece of furniture. This surprised one of the cluemasters, who, Polin recalled, remarked, “Stuy kids never get the hidden compartment. I think it’s because you guys are too polite.” Team Gale made it out of the room in the nick of time with two minutes to spare. Polin said, “It felt like we had just done something of significant accomplishment— we were joking (or not joking...) about putting it under “honors” on the CommonApp.” In light of such a success, Polin enthusiastically recommended participating. “In retrospect, it was really ridiculous, but that’s what makes it memorable,” she said. Somewhat of a city-wide phenomenon, Escape the Room has had New York City buzzing in the short time since its introduction. A game of wits, wisdom, and sheer luck, it has brought Stuyvesant kids together with its mysterious clues and engaging atmosphere. Next time you’re looking to “unlock your inner Sherlock” and won’t settle for reruns of the show, Escape the Room is a justifiable second-best with a killer challenge. Just as the event’s official website says, “Anyone can get in through a chimney. Can you leave through the door?”
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Features Roving Reporter: The Neighborhood’s Thoughts By Johnathan Rafailov with additional reporting by Philipp Steinmann While I was walking around Stuyvesant’s neighborhood on a Thursday afternoon asking random passersby what they thought about Stuyvesant, I had several strange encounters. For example, in Battery Park’s playground, I came across a man playing with his daughter in the sandbox. After I asked him for an interview, he politely responded, “Sorry, I don’t speak English. I’m from Brazil.” Later, I saw a woman sitting on a bench in the playground by herself, and I decided to ask her for an interview. However, once I did, the same Brazilian man from the sandbox came running over, telling me to “get away from his wife.” Backing away, I supposed that he did not comprehend what I had asked him earlier, and, being aware of American city life, he only thought that I was trying to harm people. This was just one interaction that I had with the residents of Battery Park City in an attempt to learn about the type of impact Stuyvesant students have on the inhabitants of the neighborhood. While I was denied many interviews, I was able to speak with some of our neighbors in parks, in stores, and on the street. Overall, many had positive impressions of our school and its students, though others expressed only a few complaints regarding our drug use, impatience during lunchtime, and activity in the parks. These were the neighbors’ responses:
“From what I’ve heard about it, it’s a very good school and a lot of students would like to go there. I’ve only heard good things. Generally, the students are pretty smart and they study very hard. We have some volunteers that come here from there. They’re intelligent and they’re very focused and driven. They know what they want to do with themselves, and generally, they don’t really need that much help doing it. I would say that it’s one of the better schools that I’ve seen in New York City, especially compared to other public schools that might be in other neighborhoods. It has a lot of good resources and the students are there to learn.” –Amalia Butler, Librarian at New York Public Library Battery Park City Branch
Yujie Fu / The Spectator
“I’ve been here [...] before Stuyvesant was even built here. I’ve been down here since ’75. It can get a little rowdy on Chambers Street. I see you guys working out, you guys got a great track team, a decent football team, lacrosse teams. I see all the girls working out, which is really good. Years ago, you didn’t have female track teams in the city. It was just all guys, you know. I think it’s really beautiful that you guys are doing that. Just cut down on the smoking. That’s my biggest thing—the smoking. It doesn’t look good for the school. They’re sitting right in the park, they’re sitting over here by the bridge and there are clouds of smoke. Just be more discrete.” –Keith Morgan, Battery Park City Resident
“[It’s] a great high school. I know you have to take a test to get in. I don’t know if it’s a gifted program, I just know that it’s one of the top public high schools in New York City. It’s definitely a more diverse community of kids that I’ve seen. And I see Physical Education classes being held outside, kids practicing cheerleading, and it’s great. I’ve seen some smoking and maybe some slightly inappropriate behavior, but nothing so crazy that I’ve felt very offended. The activities I’ve seen have been pretty typical of high school students. [I’ve read that] it is very competitive. I think I have [read about the cheating scandal] but I don’t remember the specifics of it. I might be getting them confused with some of the other schools in New York City.” –Coco Park, Battery Park City Resident
“I think one kid told me that [the other] store is Terry’s and to make it different, they [named us] Ferry’s. I think it’s fine. I mean I don’t care about that. Of course, I like [the students]! They’re all good kids. You know, [sometimes] someone gives [me] a little bit [of] difficulty. They steal things and everything, but they’re kids. The big ones, the high school students, I’ve seen so many times. I just see them when they put the chocolates in their pockets. You know, you don’t have to do this. If you don’t have money, just tell me. That’s why my boss put more cameras now because they steal a lot. Sometimes they have money, but, I don’t know, they don’t want to pay. They want to save money. I think that’s the only thing that’s not nice. And so many times, if kids don’t have money, I just give them the food for free.”
–Eva Cruz, Cashier at Gourmet Market (Ferry’s)
“I had a couple of friends who graduated from Stuy years ago. They all went on to do great things. There was the little scandal recently with the cheating. Not shocking, coming from Stuy, but a little disappointing. I guess I wasn’t so surprised as much as disappointed ‘cause those kids, you guys are smart; you really don’t have to cheat. I guess my number one complaint is everyone at lunchtime in Terry’s. I understand it’s busy but [...] they seem to be a little [ruder] and I was never like that as a child. Going to school, if I bumped into someone, I said ‘I’m sorry,’ I waited my turn in lines, and I didn’t cut lines. I would say to just be a little more considerate of others in Terry’s. We’re all just trying to get our coffee and lunch.” –Michelle Kennedy, Battery Park City Resident
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The Spectator ● Febrary 5, 2014
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The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Features Capturing the SHSAT
Alisa Su/ The Spectator
the documentary. Although Chin wanted to say yes and help him, he decided against it and instead directed the student to somebody else. Although Chin’s project seems to be extremely successful, behind this cheery facade lies immense stress. This is because of how contingent the success of his documentary is on certain small jobs getting done. “There is too much stress in making films to say it is enjoyable right now,” Chin said. “I don’t know if I am enjoying anything right now but By Rose Cytryn and Ariella Kahan “Move a bit to the right... now take a small step forward...and a bit to the left... okay perfect!” Curtis Chin is directing Sharlene Gomez, a parent of an eighth grader living in South Bronx. Once Chin, a professional documentary filmmaker, is satisfied with Gomez’s position, he gives her a cue to begin. “It’s stressing me out,” Gomez says. “Because it is stressing my child out.” Gomez, dressed in a pink tank top with hair pulled back in a tight bun, is stressed about the same topic that is plaguing eighth graders and their parents across New York City: the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). Recently, controversy has surrounded the SHSAT as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) challenged the admissions policy’s sole reliance on this test. In response to this challenge, two groups have decided to create independent documentaries in order to shine a light on the process of preparing for the SHSAT. One group is being led by Stuyvesant alumnus Christina Alfonso (’01) and her friend Brian Doyle, and the other is being directed by Chin. Both teams have been working tirelessly with families such as Gomez’s to create documentaries that offer fresh perspectives of the SHSAT. Curtis Chin Chin has been working on different social justice documentaries throughout his career. One, “Vincent Who?,” tells the story of a murdered Asian American whose killers got away with little punishment. Chin decided to focus on the SHSAT because of the NAACP’s recent complaint, and also because he aims to answer a bigger question by focusing on this admissions test: how do you provide good quality education to all kids? “It’s a very emotional issue,” Chin explained. “People get very heated when they get to these topics. People get divided into little camps, and we want to start that conversation.” Chin also feels inclined to direct a documentary about the SHSAT because he was inspired by essays submitted by high school students for a scholarship his family founded in memoriam for his
father. The scholarship grants money to students pursuing higher education, and essays are a fundamental part of the application. “When my Dad passed away about a few years ago one of things that we did was that we started a scholarship; every year I get to read these incredible essays of high school students,” Chin said. To Chin, the essays reinforced the importance of education, especially for minorities, and this persuaded him to delve deeper into this topic. At the time, Chin was working as a visiting scholar at New York University. Upon hearing about the current state of the SHSAT and the political debate surrounding it, he thought it would be a good vehicle to write about educational systems. In his documentary, called “Tested,” Chin will be following the families of fifteen different eighth graders. “We’re covering a broad spectrum,” Chin said. “We want to show how families are different but every family wants the best for their kids.” Throughout the documentary each family will be shown throughout all stages of preparing for and taking the SHSAT, including when they get their results back. While the film will not project any view on the SHSAT, each family has different beliefs on how fair the SHSAT is, ranging from Stuyvesant alumni fervently supporting the SHSAT as their children begin to prepare for the exam, to minorities and politicians who earnestly advocate for change. Additionally, each student has different reasons for taking the SHSAT. One eighth grader from the South Bronx explained that she wants to take the SHSAT because she recognizes that the small number of black students at Stuyvesant is an issue and hopes to help solve it. Another student, from East Harlem, is taking the test not only to fulfill her own wishes, but also to fulfill those of her mother and her grandparents. These touching stories and the relationship that Chin forms with the families he is filming do present potential conflicts, as it proves difficult to preserve some distance between himself and the students in order to maintain a professional atmosphere. However, the lines between professionalism and being a helpful person tend to get fuzzy, and Chin sometimes finds it difficult to maintain his detached presence. Once, a student asked Chin to help him with his homework while Chin was at his house filming
“It’s a very emotional issue. People get very heated when they get to these topics. People get divided into little camps, and we want to start that conversation.” —Curtis Chin
the majority of enjoyment I get will be once the film is done.” However, even with this extreme amount of stress, Chin remains optimistic and has high hopes for the documentary. Ultimately, Chin hopes that his project will shed much needed light on the controversy surrounding the SHSAT and will create a conversation starter about a myriad of issues surrounding the test, including the problems of race versus class, social equity, and cultural differences with test preparation. The goal? He wishes to “advance the debate in finding ways to advance public education systems in America,” he said. Christina Alfonso and Brian Doyle Alfonso is driven not only by her passion for tutoring students, but also by personal experience with the SHSAT. Being a Stuyvesant graduate, Alfonso went through the process of preparing for the SHSAT, and now volunteers at a program that offers free test preparation over a nine-month period called Science Schools Initiative. This program is run by Stuyvesant alumnus Mike Mascetti (‘05), who chooses students who show a certain degree of promise on state exams taken in previous years and is very passionate for both the work he does and the students he tutors. From this, the idea for a documentary focusing on the social, economic, and racial diversity of hope-
ful students preparing for the SHSAT was born. “I really want people to get to know the characters and their families,” Alfonso said. “[I want people to] know what they are doing to prepare for test, the hopes and dreams, how it feels to wait for the test and all of that.” However, since Alfonso is an aspiring doctor and not a documentary filmmaker, she knew a more professional hand was needed to turn this dream into a reality and thus called on her friend Brian Doyle, another native New Yorker, who was very interested in helping Alfonso achieve her goal. Like any large task, there are many small steps necessary to get started, and for Alfonso and Doyle, advertising and recruitment went straight to the top of the list. “I kind of had a good idea of what types of students I was looking for, so I tried to cast a wide net in terms of advertising,” Alfonso said. She went on to explain how the application and questions were created. “I wanted students to show interest about why they wanted to be in the film and I also wanted to get to know them and their families first and know a little bit about what made their families unique, what made them unique, what made them want to be in a film like this,” Alfonso explained. In the end, she chose the best combination of students with various backgrounds, and is especially proud of the fact that she will exhibit at least one student from each of the five boroughs. With these ideas in their heads, the initial structure of the documentary came about and, with it, an informative documentary was in the making. While Alfonso does not plan on revealing her personal thoughts about the SHSAT in her documentary, she identifies herself as a supporter of the test. “I still think that the SHSAT is fair, that it is unbiased. Can it be improved? Possibly. I don’t have a problem with people trying to validate the test, and I don’t know that they necessarily find anything really wrong with it given the high graduation states of Stuyvesant students,” Alfonso said. Doyle took a different approach to looking at the test. “I think that in New York City, public high school should be public. You shouldn’t really have to go through [anything]. If you want to get in, there is
room for you. It should be a non-issue,” Doyle explained. Despite Alfonso’s and Doyle’s different opinions on the SHSAT, they have proven to be great partners for their project. “Christina and I have a good core with each other that we calm each other down,” Doyle said. “We give each other pep talks!” Their good relationship has made the process of making a documentary very fun for them, despite the stress that comes along with making a documentary. “Of course when you are doing something that requires so much work or so much attention there are times when you are tired or you are stressed out, but I feel like whenever I am at a shoot interviewing with Brian I feel so energized and it makes me realize every single time why I am pushing myself...and why it’s worth it,” Alfonso said. Like Chin, Alfonso and Doyle also struggle to maintain an objective and strictly professional relationship with the students in their documentary. “I don’t want my influence to be there at all, so when you are directing you have to be in a slight way an authority figure,” Doyle explained. “If you can’t see them well on camera, it’s just ‘go over there.’ There is not a lot of time for the ‘oh, can you please just’—no, it’s just ‘go over there.’ So I try to keep a safe distance from subjects that we are shooting.” While preserving the professionalism, Alfonso still becomes very fond of the students and their families. “Just learning about their stories and what it took for them to get them to that point really makes you feel more connected to them and their families,” Alfonso said. Doyle concurred, saying, “We have a cast of kids that you just want to root for.” While Doyle and Alfonso root for their students, their numerous financial and moral supporters have been rooting for them from the sidelines. As appreciated as this support is, one can be sure that the partners would still continue without it because the two have been truly putting their hearts into their work. “It’s very much a passion project for us because this is a project that we are doing in any waking moment that we have that is free,” Doyle said. “It is all we do with our free time at this point. And we’re happy to do it; I know that I am.”
“Of course when you are doing something that requires so much work or so much attention there are times when you are tired or you are stressed out, but I feel like whenever I am at a shoot interviewing with Brian I feel so energized and it makes me realize every single time why I am pushing myself...and why it’s worth it.” —Christina Alfonso
The Spectator â—? Febrary 5, 2014
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The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Editorials Staff Editorial
O U T G OI N G
You’re Depressed and Tired, Love to Procrastinate, and Don’t Smoke Weed
The Spectator “The Pulse of the Student Body”
academics constantly taking center stage, students are often unaware of the school’s resources to help them cope with any emotional distress. What’s even more alarming is they’re reluctant to speak up because of the stigma associated with personal problems.” We called for greater attention to be placed on mental health, particularly in terms of providing students with an adequate support system. Months later, with no substantial changes implemented, the data indicates that 61 percent of students reported feeling so depressed that they were unable to function at least once in the past 30 days. Even after accounting for framing effect biases (studies show that survey participants are more likely to chose a “rarely” option rather than a “never” option because they avoid categorical decisions), 23 percent of students said that they “sometimes” feel so depressed they can’t function, and 10 percent of students said this happens
While Stuyvesant students complain about inordinate amounts of homework and tests, the average Stuyvesant student spends just two to three hours a night on homework, and only one-third of students study more than an hour for the average test. Our findings regarding homework load and amount of sleep call into question many preconceived notions about Stuyvesant students. First, while Stuyvesant students complain about inordinate amounts of homework and tests, the average Stuyvesant student spends just 2-3 hours a night on homework, and only one-third of students study more than an hour for the average test. Still, students only appear to be sleeping an average of six hours a night. Where are they losing time? The results indicate that 67 percent of students spend at least an hour on social media websites a night, and nearly 20 percent spend more than three hours daily. Accounting for dinner, an organized student should be able to get eight hours of sleep a night. Six hours of sleep nightly should be the outlier, not the average. However, considering that 51 percent of students spend at least an hour a night on extracurricular activities, and 31 percent commit to being on a sports team, many of us are certainly challenged to budget our time wisely. In Issue 2 of The Spectator (September 2013), this Editorial Board warned that “With
often or always. Clearly, this issue needs to be revisited immediately. In Part B, we found that perceived drug use far outpaces actual drug use. Few Stuyvesant students regularly abuse illegal substances—though our findings indicate that many Stuyvesant students will try marijuana or get drunk for the first time
friends smoke weed at least once a month. Low levels of drug use should be accredited to the culture of the school—77 percent of students report no pressure to use drugs. Drinking is more prevalent than marijuana use—but also very low. Only 20 percent of students have ever been “under the influence of alcohol,” and only nine percent have been under the influence more than a few times ever. We’re a very clean school. Study drugs like Adderall are even less common: 91 percent of students have never used a study drug, and only two percent of students have used them more than a few times (within the margin of error of our study). Academic dishonesty, a topic that has received much attention since the cheating scandal, was revisited by our survey. The last Spectator survey found that 72 percent of students had copied homework. Two years later, this number is down to 43 percent. Even assuming that students were less honest when reporting their likelihood to cheat this time around due to the increased seriousness with which cheating is discussed at Stuyvesant (a likely confound), our empirical finding represents a substantial decline in cheating on homework. Yet, cheating on tests remains unchanged: 20 percent of students reported having cheated on a test at least once during their Stuyvesant career before the cheating scandal, and that number is now 24 percent. Additionally, 40 percent of students admitted to skipping English readings at least once a week, also a form of academic dishonesty. To the best of our knowledge, this year’s survey represents the most substantial compilation of data about the lives of Stuyvesant students that has been collected in this school’s history. We believe our data paints an accurate portrait of what it’s really like to go to a high-intensity high school, addressing topics from studying to cheating to drugs and alco-
Danny Kim Sam Kim* Justin Strauss A rts & entertainment editors
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Lindsay Bu* Noah Rosenberg Eugenia Sanchez F eat u res
L ayo u t
B u siness
F ac u lty
iNCO MI NG
The Spectator “The Pulse of the Student Body”
Anne Duncan Justin Strauss Jin Hee Yoo A rts & entertainment editors
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Lev Akabas Teresa Chen
Coby Goldberg Tina Jiang Andrew Wallace
L ayo u t
E ditors B u siness
hol. We encourage our readers to take a closer look by turning to the Special Report detailed detailed on pages 13-16.
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during their sophomore year. Still, fewer than eight percent of Stuyvesant students have smoked marijuana more than a few times, even though 50 percent of students say that their
Eliza Hripcsak Tyler Ishikawa
Emma Bernstein Daniel Kodsi Justin Weltz sports
Kelly Luo Da-Ye Shin Neil Vyas
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F eat u res
P hotography E ditors
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h u mor
Fewer than eight percent of Stuyvesant students have smoked marijuana more than a few times, even though 50 percent of students say that their friends smoke weed at least once a month.
P hotography E ditors
The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
Takeaways from The Spectator Survey
In November 2013, The Spectator conducted an anonymous survey. Part A assessed student workload, sleeping habits, and daily life-style. In Part B, we sought to quantify recreational drug use at Stuyvesant and measure its prevalence. The survey was completed by 50 percent of Stuyvesant English classes (a statistically significant and representative sample). Some of our findings defy popular opinion, while others confirm already well-known facts. First and foremost, we found that sleep, studying, and socializing is a zero sum game—though certain types of social activities can yield higher rates of return than others. Time on social media websites, for example, is reversely correlated with sleep, studying, and GPA. However, time spent on extracurricular activities and sports teams are associated with higher GPAs, even if they often cost students precious sleep time.
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The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
By Daniel Kodsi “[President Obama] is a socialist who embraces MarxistLeninist policies like government control of health care and redistribution of wealth,” said United States Congressman Paul Broun on February 13, 2013. It’s a pity Mr. Broun didn’t wait another year to criticize the president, because then he would have been able to add “wants to raise the minimum wage” to the list of our president’s blatantly “socialist” policies. Indeed, as a member of Obama’s staff informed The New York Times in early November, Obama threw his support behind a proposal to raise it to $10.10—up from the current $7.25. And after doing that, he wants to keep it rising with inflation so that real salaries don’t decline year after year. “Socialist” is an understatement. Surely this is President Obama revealing his inner communist! But socialist, communist, or whatever, a growing database of research indicates that raising the minimum wage would lead to a stronger economy and reduce poverty in the lower income brackets. So let’s toss aside ideology and push for that necessary higher mini-
mum wage. Fun fact: did you know that if you were to work 1,790 hours a year, which the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports is average among Americans, on the current minimum wage of $7.25, you would make less than $13,000, about $2,000 below the poverty line for a twoperson household? The first reason for increasing the minimum wage is simple—it would alleviate the burden on America’s hard-working poor. As Isabel Sawhill, a Senior Fellow and Former Vice President and Director of Economics Studies at the Brookings Institution put it, such a move would drastically improve the standard of living for the hundred million American citizens at the bottom of the income distribution. In fact, she found that raising the minimum wage to just $9 could raise bottomthird household earnings by roughly nineteen percent, allowing millions to put food on their children’s tables, pay for rent and electrical bills, and put aside a little extra cash in case of medical emergency. Moreover, a significant increase is long overdue. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the minimum wage has become astonishly insufficient over the past few decades; it is now just 37 percent of the average wage, whereas 40 years ago, it hovered at above 50 percent. And since the minimum wage isn’t indexed to inflation (meaning it doesn’t rise as the purchasing ability of the dollar falls), the amount has fallen in value in regards to purchasing power, according to a separate analysis by Brookings. It’s clear that what used to be the socalled “living wage” is no longer sufficient enough to guarantee a life without tremendous poverty. It isn’t just humane to raise
the minimum wage—there is a significant amount of research showing that doing so can aid
wage increase is “essentially a shift from corporate profits to low-wage employees,” who are
“[T]wo recent meta-studies analyzing the [hundreds of studies] conducted since the early 1990s concludes that the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers.” —Center for Economic and Policy Research the suffering economy, directly counter-thesis to detractors’ claims that any raise, no matter how miniscule, would be a severe shock to employment. Kevin Hasset, former advisor to John McCain and Mitt Romney, summarized the argument of these detractors like this: “Lifting the minimum wage would result in job loss. A bunch of workers would get bigger checks while a bunch of workers would have to lose their jobs.” But Mr. Hasset’s and likeminded economists’ fears just don’t hold up. As David Cooper, an analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, explained, a minimum
much more likely to spend each and every additional dollar, resulting in more economic activity. In a report published on December 19, he furthered that passing the Harkin-Miller legislation (the bill President Obama has declared he is in favor of ) would not only constitute a wage increase for 27.8 million hardworking Americans, but could also result in GDP growth of $22 billion. Cooper’s point holds up in the face of piles of empirical data. According to a report published on February 2013 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, one of the country’s
most reputable economic think tanks, “two recent meta-studies analyzing the [hundreds of studies] conducted since the early 1990s concludes that the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of lowwage workers.” The author found that adjustment mechanisms that take place after wage increases (reduced turnover and improved efficiency, for instance) are enough to counteract the cost of paying a slightly higher salary, even for companies that employ a large amount of low-cost labor. The ball is in Congress’s court. Congress has before it a chance to ameliorate the lives of tens of millions of Americans at no economic cost. It would look good too, in the eyes of the public—a New York Times poll from late November found that 69 percent thought the minimum wage should be at least $9. The arguments against raising it are flimsy at best and deceitful at worst; the evidence points entirely the other way. Of course, passage of Harkin-Miller would be no panacea, no cure for unemployment and poverty. But it is a step in the right direction. So, I hope and I plead for our warring, factional parties to set aside their disagreements and embrace a policy that would do naught but good.
Courtney Chiu / The Spectator
Stephanie Chan / The Spectator
If You’re Going to Pass Anything, Pass This
Yueer Niu / The Spectator
Spin Control: Putin’s Motivations Behind the Amnesty
By Scott Fairbanks With the stroke of a pen, Russian President Vladimir Putin transformed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky from an icon of resistance into an instrument of political stratagem. Prior to his recent release from prison, Khodorkovsky, who was convicted of tax evasion in 2003, symbolized defiance in the face of the oppressive and unjust Russian legal system. Throughout his 10-year sentence, he never admitted guilt, vehemently arguing that the evidence against him was fabri-
cated because of his anti-Putin political stance. Yet, these ten long years of struggle were ultimately swept away by the release of thousands of other political prisoners, whose sudden release was part of the Kremlin’s recent amnesty. Members of Pussy Riot (a feminist anti-Putin punk band) and members of Greenpeace (an environmental activist organization), among others, emerged to share the spotlight. This large release of prisoners diminished the attention that would have been directed towards individual prisoners. Putin’s decision to pardon these prisoners was both a public relations stunt and an attempt to establish political legitimacy. It is no coincidence that the Kremlin issued a mass amnesty less than a month before the Sochi Winter Olympic games. Putin lobbied heavily for the games, and according to CNN, the government has spent over $50 billion on the Games since the location was announced. According to Der Speigel, a prominent German news magazine, the Russians have thus far leveled 1,000 acres of forests and have relocated hundreds of families in order to convert the small town of Sochi into
an Olympic venue. In addition, Human Rights Watch has reported that migrant workers have been exploited and forced to work on the project while being denied access to lawyers. The government will stop at nothing to prove itself on the world stage. The Sochi Winter Olympic Games is a chance for Russia to reinvent itself in the eyes of the world as a responsible power more than capable of hosting an international event on a massive scale. A study by Drexel University suggests that if Russia hosts a smooth and enjoyable Olympics, it will be viewed as a stable country, both bolstering investor confidence and stimulating trade. This is important because Putin’s popular support is based on economic benefits. If the economy does not improve, he will lose the support of his people. By granting amnesty to prisoners, Putin is distracting the international audience from the means by which he seeks to achieve his goals. The ecological destruction and human rights violations recede into the background as news of the release of prisoners takes center stage. The release of select politi-
cal dissidents also gives Russian politics a degree of legitimacy without jeopardizing the power of the Kremlin. It creates the illusion that the Russian government tolerates opposition and new ideas. This facade of political legitimacy in Russia satisfies
A facade of political legitimacy in Russia satisfies the people’s desire for change. the people’s desire for change. Yet in reality, Putin controls the state and Mikhail Khodorkovsky is just one of these chosen dissidents. Although Khodorkovsky is extremely influential in the business world, few Russians support him. According to the BBC, his approval rating in Russia rested between 30 to 35 percent following his release. This is because he represents a se-
lect group of people who were enriched by Russia’s economic transition in the 1990s, leaving millions impoverished. Therefore, he is of no threat to Putin or to the Kremlin. Last year, Aleksei Navalny, a political dissident, was released prior to the Moscow mayoral elections and was allowed to run for office. This made the elections seem more legitimate. However, Navalny could never win, so the Kremlin was able to maintain control over the office. Putin is trying to distract and ultimately deceive the international community by showing them moral progress in Russia so that it overlooks the darker details surrounding the Olympic Games. Then he plans to appease his people with economic benefits, made possible because of the increased trade. Putin also wishes to simulate increased political freedom and variety. He does this by releasing certain dissidents in a controlled manner. We must keep this in mind as we continue to assess Russia in the modern world. The Russian state will continue to hide behind attractive displays of morality and progress as it struggles against its chains of autocracy and totalitarianism.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
By Brian Dong and Giselle Garcia Dating back to the tales of ancient Greece, hubris has been the downfall of many heroes. While no one in present society would be caught battling a cyclops or insulting allpowerful gods, the deadly sin of arrogance still lives on to haunt us. It’s especially present at Stuyvesant, where the perception of academic superiority leads many students to condescend toward BMCC students. This academic elitism needs to end – it’s disrespectful and insulting. Imagine this: it’s report card day, something met with both excitement and anxiety. There are the resentful who seethe in anger over the teacher’s judgment and teaching ability. Others slam their fists on their desks and shake their heads in disappointment, quickly tucking away the dreadful sheet of paper. The class clown however, says this:
“BMCC, here I come!” Smiles begin to crack on several faces, and soon the whole class sniggers. Although at first glance it may appear to be nothing more than a petty inside joke, our excessive taunting of the Borough of Manhattan Community College is not only hypocritical and demeaning, but also incredibly inconsiderate and unthoughtful. It is easy to disregard BMCC as a mere city college, but we never seem to look beyond that superficial title. Despite our 10+ Intel semifinalists every year, stellar debate team, and outstanding college admissions, the majority of us fail to realize that many BMCC students are people like us—people who are trying to improve their lives. BMCC is far from a collegeacceptance round gone wrong. On the contrary, further investigation into the make-up of the school reveals that a large portion of BMCC’s student body did not even come straight from high school. According to official school reports, during the spring term of 2013, 35.6% of enrolled students were parttime and 24.5% were over 26. Many of them are high school or college dropouts, people who have admitted to themselves that they were wrong and are trying to amend things. These are people who have found the strength to admit to themselves that they have made mistakes. We are constantly criticizing hard-working adults who simultaneously work, take classes, and study for exams, yet most of us cannot fathom what that life would be like. Nowadays, having a college degree is be-
coming increasingly essential in a frighteningly competitive fight for employment. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, in 2009 men with associate degrees had an average salary of $55,631 and $92,815 with a bachelor’s. In contrast, a male high school graduate without a college degree made a mere $43,140.
In an ironic twist, by making laughingstock of the people who operate by the same values as we do, we are not only disrespecting ourselves but also brashly slamming the pillars of success and victory.
Tell me, isn’t this the reason why so many of us strive to be accepted into top universities? Isn’t this why we study furiously until 3 am so we can
pull off a 97 on that math test? In an ironic twist, by making a laughingstock of the values that we both share, we are not only disrespecting ourselves, but also brashly slamming the pillars of success and victory.Furthermore, many students seem to overlook the large amount of immigrants in BMCC. According to the Institute of International Education, BMCC ranks fifth nationwide in the amount of enrolled international students. New immigrants from China, India, and a plethora of other countries who often cannot speak English go there in hopes of a better life. Oftentimes, they come from impoverished backgrounds where they didn’t have access to an education. Nearly anything that they can gain in America, including below minimum-wage jobs, far outclasses the benefits they can reap from staying in their home countries. On top of that, many of them have obligations to help family members back home. The truth is that most of them don’t qualify for top-tier universities and must settle for institutions with very high acceptance rates, especially city colleges such as BMCC. My mother, a first generation immigrant, is one of the most intelligent people I know, but she wasn’t given the opportunity to attend a brand-name school. Many of you reading this have probably heard inspiring tales about how your parents persevered through countless struggles and never lost hope back in their home countries. These are the challenges multitudes of international BMCC students face in a world many of us can only
Jennifer Dikler/ The Spectator
Justin Kong / The Spectator
BMCC Students Deserve Respect, Not Ridicule: A Detailed Look at the College Next Door
imagine. Of course, going to a mere, insignificant community college completely diminishes the value of the noble sacrifices they make for their children. Once in a while, after a long, grueling week of exams, I tend to sit down and think about why I’m putting myself through the gauntlet run known as Stuyvesant. After imitating the Thinker’s world-renowned thought pose during a few comprehensive soul searches, I come to realize that it is my hard work and dedication. My fiery will and ambitious dreams for success drive me to brave those daunting all-nighters. Yet, does that not exist in BMCC? In many aspects, BMCC students are like us: hard working and driven to succeed. So the next time you go crack a joke about our neighbor, how about you place yourself in their shoes and wonder what it’s like to have swarms of ignorant teenagers relentlessly lambasting you for doing the right thing?
Stephanie Chan / The Spectator
Be Ware of Street Grub
By Reeshyal Fatima I’m sure you’ve all had a bite to eat from the street vendors around the corner, but have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? How sanitary are these cooks? Where do vendors use the bathroom? How do they wash their hands? Do you actually check if the workers are wearing gloves while they make your gyro or spread cream cheese on your bagel? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind when I consider buying from food carts. In 2012, 12 food carts were cited for having vermin and other live animals present in food storage, preparation, or
service areas. The food cart with the most violations in New York City is parked in front of the Apple Store on West 67th and Broadway. The cart was slapped with 22 violations over five consecutive inspections in 2012. The vendor was caught in the act of using a dirty, oily rag to wipe down his utensils while smoking a cigarette. Another vendor that works for the same cart was seen picking up a pretzel from the dirty sidewalk before putting it back on the pile of pretzels. Disgusted yet? Not all carts are like this, but we’re all guilty of eating from carts without really thinking about any these violations. Because of the unsanitary conditions of many street vendors, it logically makes sense to avoid eating from them. Street vendors have committed a plethora of even the most bizarre violations. In 2012, the New York City Department of Health recorded nearly 7,000 infractions ranging from live rodents to food being kept at dangerous temperatures. Having an inadequate supply of running water to wash hands is a major violation many street vendors also commit. Having oversized carts, parking a certain distance from the curb, and not keeping food in separate coolers are other forms of violations. One food cart worker
on 43rd Street and 6th Avenue was caught blowing his nose in a napkin and then using that same napkin to wipe down the food preparation area. Cameras also caught him red-handed smoking while handling food utensils. The New York City Department of Health fined nearly $16 million in violations last year, yet $15 million of those fines went uncollected. It is fairly obvious that the food served in these carts is far from healthy. Street foods are package deals. If you want the flavor, you have to take the calories with it. Also, Mediterranean food is generally prepared with large amounts of oil. Vendors, therefore, spread large amounts of oil on their cooking tops and prepare all types of food on it, Mediterranean or American. The amount of oil going into our food is way too generous and unhealthy. Instead of getting lunch from food carts, just head over to a convenience store or deli and get a sandwich from there. You can go even healthier and save money by packing a salad with some fruits. Despite all the violations, food carts are not held to the same standard as other eateries, such as restaurants. As mentioned before, carts were fined in the millions and barely any of the fines were collect-
ed. Street vendors aren’t even graded, so we have no way of knowing how sanitary they are. Furthermore, restaurants have clear menus, which describe all the ingredients used to prepare your meal. Street vendors, on the other hand, have no such ingredient list. “I admit that I am slightly suspicious of food carts. There are no nutrition facts, no ingredients lists, nothing,” freshman Yujie Fu said. “However, I must also admit that food carts like Rafiqi’s are amazing, nonetheless.” Muslim consumers have to be especially aware. Contrary to what the public thinks, street carts may not actually serve “halal.” Simply putting up a sign in Arabic that says “halal” doesn’t actually prove anything. Halal in Arabic means “permissible.” While the meat served is generally halal, as in “permissible” to eat, it sometimes is not “zabihah” (a subsect of the term halal that is used for foods). To make it easier to understand, all chicken is “halal,” but only chicken that has been slaughtered according to the zabihah laws can be consumed by Muslims. “Honestly, I think some carts are just saying they’re halal so they can get some business. I mean, you never really know, and it’s a hassle to go and ask them to prove that the meat they’re serving is actually zabi-
hah,” freshman Tahiya Tamanna, a practicing Muslim, said. Unless carts have verification certificates authorized under the IFANCA, Muslim consumers should proceed with caution. “I’m in my 4th year at Stuy and to this day I haven’t ordered from a street vendor. Outside of the aroma of the food, there’s absolutely nothing to like,” said senior Zeerak Abbas. Very much like McDonald’s and Burger King, street vendors serve fast food, removing the authenticity of the food. “Places such as Rafiqi’s are selling Mediterranean food and in my opinion are not doing it any justice,” freshman Enver Ramadani expressed. “I understand selling something like hot dogs or pretzels on the streets, because that is basically the only way they have been sold in New York’s history; but food such as gyro meat and pilaf/rice needs to be done the way it has been done since its creation.” Food carts may not be the best source to extinguish your hunger, but if you do buy from them, make sure you are going to the right carts. Approach vendors who have a strong reputation and are complying with the necessary sanitary conditions in order to prepare a healthy meal. Let’s ease our stomachs and our minds.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Special: Spectator Survey Introduction In November 2013, The Spectator conducted a three-part anonymous survey. Part A assessed student workload and sleeping habits. Our primary goal was to uncover whether or not students must choose between the three S’s—sleep, studying, and socializing. We also hoped to gain insight into the daily lives of the average Stuyvesant student. In Part B, we sought to quantify recreational drug use at Stuyvesant and measure its prevalence. Part C included demographic questions. The survey was completed by 50 percent of Stuyvesant English classes (a statistically significant and representative sample) and took approximately five minutes to fill out.
Methodology Members of The Spectator’s editorial board wrote the questions for this survey. Surveys were distributed to Stuyvesant English teachers, who then decided whether or not to administer the surveys, leading to our overall 50 percent sample size. Such selection is random and unrelated to our findings and therefore did not represent a statistically significant confound. Students in classes in which the survey was distributed uniformly participated, leading to a representative population. Error could have been introduced into this survey due to intentional dishonesty on the part of participants. We do believe a number of students did not take this survey seriously. In order to control for some of these discrepancies, surveys in which students selected non-answers (such as choosing C for a question with only options A and B) were not analyzed. Furthermore, we instructed teachers to distribute an envelope and ask students to place completed surveys in the envelope, which would be sealed at the end of the class. This procedure was conducted to remind students that the survey was anonymous and that their teachers could not read their answers. Finally, with 1,620 total responses (469 freshman, 362 sophomores, 482 juniors, and 307 seniors), we believe our large sample size should make up for any discrepancies caused by dishonest responses. Data analysis was conducted by members of the Stuyvesant Spectator’s Editorial Board independently. Students used software ranging from Excel to Matlab. The data is available upon request should any students or teachers wish to verify our findings or conduct their own independent analyses. We invite students to make further investigations, perhaps for AP Statistics projects.
Questions and Results PART A: Homework and Student Life 1. How often do you eat breakfast? A. Never (6%) B. Rarely (11%) C. Sometimes (14%) D. Often (18%) E. Always (51%) 2. How often do you eat lunch? A. Never (4%) B. Rarely (8%) C. Sometimes (16%) D. Often (29%) E. Always (43%) 3. What time do you usually go to sleep? A. Before 11:00 PM (19%) B. 11:00 – 12:00 (35%) C. 12:00 – 1:00 (24%) D. 1:00 – 2:00 (15%) E. 2 AM or later (7%) 4. What time do you usually wake up? A. Before 5:45AM (9%) B. 5:45 – 6:30 (50%) C. 6:30 – 7:15 (32%) D. 7:15 – 8:00 (8%) E. 8:00 or later (1%) 5. Students sleep different amounts every night. During the average week, what is the least amount of sleep that you will get in one night? A. All-nighter (5%) B. 1-2 hours (8%) C. 3-4 hours (37%) D. 5-6 hours (41%) E. 7+ hours (10%) 6. How often do you doze off in class? A. Never (29%) B. Once or twice a month (25%) C. Once or twice a week (27%) D. Most days (12%) E. Every day/Almost every day (6%) 7. What is your total commute time daily (one way)? A. Fewer than 10 minutes (1%) B. 10 - 30 minutes (12%) C. 30 minutes - 1 hour (54%) D. 1 – 1:30 hours (29%) E. 1:30 hours or more (4%) 8. On average, how much time do you spend on extracurricular activities every night (total)? A. Fewer than 30 minutes (27%) B. 30 minutes - 1 hour (21%) C. 1 hour – 1:30 hours (19%) D. 1:30 hour – 2:00 hours (15%) E. More than 2 hours (17%) 9. How long do you study for the average test? A. Fewer than 10 minutes (10%)
B. C. D. E.
10 - 30 minutes (25%) 30 minutes - 1 hour (32%) 1 – 1:30 hours (19%) More than 1:30 (14%)
10. How much time do you spend doing homework every night? A. 0-1 hours (7%) B. 1-2 hours (22%) C. 2-3 hours (31%) D. 3-4 hours (24%) E. More than 4 hours (15%) 11. How much time do you spend on social media websites per night? A. 0-1 hours (33%) B. 1-2 hours (30%) C. 2-3 hours (17%) D. 3-4 hours (8%) E. More than 4 hours (11%) 12. How often do you skip readings for English class? A. Never (32%) B. Once or twice a month (28%) C. Once or twice a week (20%) D. Most days (12%) E. Every day/Almost every day (8%) 13. How often do you copy homework from other students? A. Never (57%) B. Once or twice a month (31%) C. Once or twice a week (9%) D. Most days (2%) E. Every day/Almost every day (1%) 14. ams? A. B. C. D. E.
How often do you cheat on exNever (76%) Rarely (20%) Sometimes (4%) Often (1%) Always/Almost Always (0%)
15. How much sleep do you get on the average night? A. 8 hours or more (9%) B. 7 hours (28%) C. 6 hours (32%) D. 5 hours (21%) E. 4 hours or less (10%) 16. How often during the past 30 days have you felt so depressed that you were unable to function? A. Never (39%) B. Rarely (28%) C. Sometimes (23%) D. Often (7%) E. Always/Almost Always (3%) 17. Are you on a sports team? A. Fall sport (7%) B. Winter sport (4%) C. Spring sport (8%) D. More than 1 (11%) E. Not on a sports team (69%) PART B: Drug Use
18. How often do you smoke marijuana? A. Never (87%) B. A few times ever (5%) C. A few times a month (3%) D. Once a week (1%) E. More than once a week (3%) 19. How often are you high while in school? A. Never (93%) B. A few times ever (3%) C. A few times a month (1%) D. Once a week (0%) E. More than once a week (1%) 20. How much money do you spend on marijuana per month? A. $0 (92%) B. $10-$20 (2%) C. $20-$30 (2%) D. $30-$50 (1%) E. $50+ (2%) 21. On a scale of 1(A-min)-5(E-max), to what extent have you been pressured to use marijuana? A. 77% B. 12% C. 5% D. 2% E. 1% 22. How many of your friends smoke marijuana more than once a month (estimate)? A. None (50%) B. A few of them (35%) C. Half of them (7%) D. Most of them (3%) E. Almost all of them (3%) 23. How often are you under the influence of alcohol? A. Never (80%) B. A few times ever (11%) C. A few times a month (5%) D. Once a week (1%) E. More than once a week (2%) 24. How many of your friends are under the influence of alcohol more than once a month? A. None (59%) B. A few of them (30%) C. Half of them (5%) D. Most of them (2%) E. Almost all of them (2%)
B. A few times ever (5%) C. A few times a month (1%) D. Once a week (0%) E. More than once a week (0%) Left Blank: (62%) 27. How often do you use hard drugs recreationally, including but not limited to cocaine, LSD, heroin, methamphetamines, and ecstasy? A. Never (93%) B. A few times ever (3%) C. A few times a month (1%) D. Once a week (0%) E. More than once a week (1%) 28. How often have you taken drugs without a prescription to aid academic performance or overused your prescribed medication? A. Never (91%) B. A few times ever (5%) C. A few times a month (1%) D. Once a week (0%) E. More than once a week (1%) 29. On what occasions have you used drugs without a prescription or overused prescribed drugs? A. Never (92%) B. Studying/Practice exams (2%) C. For in-class exams (0%) D. For standardized tests such as the SAT, APs, and Regents (0%) E. More than one of these categories (3%) Part C: Demographic Information 30. Gender A. Male (59%) B. Female (39%) Left Blank: (2%) 31. What is your ethnicity? (Leave blank for other) A. East/Southeast Asian (59%) B. South Asian (9%) C. Hispanic/Latino (2%) D. Caucasian/Middle Eastern (22%) E. African American (2%) Other (Blank): (6%) 32. What grade are you in? A. 9th grade (27%) B. 10th grade (21%) C. 11th grade (29%) D. 12th grade (19%)
25. How often are you under the influence of alcohol while in school? A. Never (94%) B. A few times ever (2%) C. A few times a month (0%) D. Once a week (0%) E. More than once a week (1%)
33. What is your overall GPA? (Freshmen, please leave this blank.) A. 85 or under (5%) B. 85 – 88 (8%) C. 88 – 92 (22%) D. 92 – 95 (21%) E. 95+ (12%)
26. When you drink, how often to you lose control of yourself (leave blank if you don’t drink)? A. Never (32%)
Note: Not all percentages may add up to exactly 100% due to students who may have left some questions blank.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Special: Spectator Survey Results&Analysis Substance Abuse Student-Body’s Substance Abuse Overestimated and Divided By Eugenia Sanchez Actual use of illicit substances is overestimated and much lower than perceived usage among the student body. Despite a school-wide reputation that alcohol use among students is widespread, an overwhelming 80 percent of the total students surveyed said they had never been under the influence of alcohol, and 11 percent had only been under the influence of alcohol a few times. As to be expected, freshmen that were surveyed had even less exposure to alcohol use than the school average, with 86 percent never having consumed alcohol. However, these numbers shifted significantly for seniors, among which the number of students who had never been under the influence of alcohol dropped dramatically to 63 percent (an almost 30 percent decrease in the number of students who had one or more experience with alcohol consumption). The numbers show a steady increase in alcohol use from freshman to senior year. Similarly, only 6 percent of freshman had consumed marijuana at least once, with that number going up to 21 percent by senior year. Despite these findings, which confirm that most students who have had contact to illicit substances have overwhelmingly done so between their sophomore and senior years, reported drug and alcohol use is much lower than what those within the student body believe it to be. In total, 50.4 percent of the students surveyed believed that at least a few of their friends consumed marijuana more than once a month, despite the fact that only 7 percent reported actually having done so this frequently. The data demonstrates a significant discrepancy between the actual use that students reported for themselves and their perception of their friends’ drug use, which could account for the surprisingly low number of students who actually use these substances, as opposed to the school-wide perception that drug and alcohol use is rampant among the student body. This raises an interesting question: which members of the student body are actually consuming illicit substances? The data reveals a strong correlation between a student’s race and ethnicity and the frequency with which he or she consumes alcohol and/or marijuana. Of all the seniors who reported smoking marijuana at least a few times a month, 55 percent were Caucasian or Middle Eastern, 31 percent were East and Southeast Asian, and 14 percent were South Asian. But among the seniors who reported consuming marijuana at a rate of more than once a week, the race division shifted dramatically, with 75 percent being Caucasian or Middle Eastern and 25 percent being East and Southeast Asian. The data also shows a significant correlation between a student’s GPA and the frequency with which he or she consumes marijuana and/or alcohol. As GPA increases, the likelihood that an individual has used drugs or has been under the influence of alcohol decreases. There were also significant correlations between students who consumed marijuana and/or alcohol and those who copied homework, cheated on exams, and used hard drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and LSD recreationally. But the most poignant question still remains: why is the behavior of these students broadly accepted as the norm when the numbers demonstrate that they are, in fact, part of a small minority of the student-body? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that, despite being a numerical minority, these students are incredibly open about their use of illicit substances, often embracing it in the form of social-media posts and conversation topics. They have taken control of school-wide perceptions with a strong cyber and real-world presence, and as a result, have created a pseudo-majority in Stuyvesant’s social scheme that may account for the gross overestimation of illicit substance use in the student body.
Juniors Under Most Pressure to Use Marijuana By DaYe Shin and Anne Tan Who would be more vulnerable under the peer pressure to use marijuana during his school year? A freshman who wants to fit in a new environment, a sophomore who is no longer a freshman and wants to get a “cool” reputation, a junior whose workload and stress lead to a dependency on drugs, or a senior who wants to explore new areas as he approaches an end of his high school career? We hypothesized that despite the innocence that characterizes most incoming freshmen, the curiosity which also develops in a new environment will leave freshmen more susceptible to their peers’ enticement into marijuana use than students in other grades. However, the survey results show otherwise. Juniors, it turns out, are under the most pressure to use marijuana (30 percent said they were under some pressure), while freshman are under the least pressure (only 15 percent reported any pressure whatsoever). Seniors and sophomores both fall in between these two grades (23 percent reported some pressure). While juniors may be under more pressure to smoke marijuana than their peers in other grades, the pressure is certainly minimal—only 6 percent of juniors ranked the pressure a 4 or 5 on a scale from 1-5. Stuyvesant’s Sports Players Are Clean: Drug/Alcohol Abuse is Minimal, Though Slightly Higher than Average By Michelle Lin We conjectured that there would be a correlation between being on a sports team and substance abuse due to the social relationships formed by members of these teams and their culture. With large drinking events such as Homecoming, we suspected that there might be a higher likelihood of drinking and drug use. Meanwhile, because smoking affects the lungs and could harm performance, it would make sense for sports players to smoke marijuana less than average. For the freshmen, there was no correlation between drinking and smoking, which was expected because freshmen are usually excluded from the sport circles and are more timid. Sophomores, junior, and seniors were found to have a statistically more significant relationship between drinking/smoking and the individual’s participation on a sports team. Junior athletes were surprisingly the most likely to smoke marijuana and to drink alcohol. There also exists a significant correlation between the junior athletes and their friends drinking alcohol more than once a month. Senior athletes were no more or less likely to abuse illegal substances. Taken on a whole (averaging the grades), we find that athletes are slightly more likely to drink/smoke than their peers. That being said, the significant finding here is that even sports players, who are known in pop culture for greater levels of substance abuse, are relatively clean at Stuyvesant.
Mental Health Facebook Doesn’t Make You More Depressed
Alcohol Consumption Doesn’t Predict Depression
By Andrew Wallace, Coby Goldberg and Noah Rosenberg
By Jane Argodale
The Spectator investigated the relationship between time spent on social media websites and depression. The connection has been investigated by other institutions and a positive correlation between the two has been proven to exist. Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan found that the use of Facebook in particular causes people to feel both less happy from moment to moment and less satisfied with their lives in general. Our data, however, showed no such correlation. Time spent on social media websites by Stuyvesant students has no impact on their likelihood to report feelings of sadness or depression. One explanation for the discrepancy between Kross’s findings and our own may be that Stuyvesant students are younger than Kross’s subjects, whom he defined as “young adults.” Also, while there was no correlation with severe depression per se, a survey cannot examine the nuances of students’ dispositions to account for subtler forms of unhappiness and depression.
There was surprisingly little correlation between alcohol consumption and depression in the survey results. The only grade in which the correlation was significant was juniors, perhaps suggesting that in this particularly stressful year, drinking is most likely to become a coping mechanism. However, it’s important to note that the outcome of data may have been significantly affected by how the depression question was phrased, especially since one typically expects a greater correlation between alcohol and depression than the one seen here. The question asked students how often in the last 30 days they had felt too depressed to function, a very extreme measure of depression. As a result, this question might have gotten fewer affirmative responses than a question that asked about depression more generally.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Special: Spectator Survey Mental Health Contrary to Popular Belief, Depression is Equally Frequent in All Grades By Thomas Bajko It’s a common sentiment that the competitive and demanding atmosphere of Stuyvesant can induce or exacerbate symptoms of clinical depression in students. But there are also several preconceptions prevalent in the Stuyvesant community regarding how “challenging” certain years are for students, and how typical it would be for a student in a certain grade to be affected mentally or emotionally by the stresses of Stuyvesant. The stereotypes we’re all aware of are that freshmen have it easy when it comes to their first-year workload, sophomores still haven’t faced the full brunt of the Stuyvesant storm, juniors are bound to have a rigorous year with a bevy of stress-inducing responsibilities, and seniors have to deal with college applications. However, based on the findings of the survey, there’s no perceptible difference in the frequency of depression among freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. What the results of the survey do is shed light on how certain grades are perceived regarding stress versus the reality—it counters the stereotypes of the stressed-out, anxious junior or the laidback, at-ease senior that we’ve all become familiar with. Now, when considering how to help Stuyvesant students with mental or emotional problems, we should keep in mind that those problems might be more universal than we had thought. Eating and Sleeping Makes You Happier, Try It By Luke Morales and Timothy Diep It is a widely accepted notion that the nutrients in the foods we all consume have an effect on our mood. Whether it’s the tub of ice cream we eat after a bad breakup, or the celebratory chicken dinner, we link food to our emotions. We believed that this connection between food and mood would hold true for Stuyvesant students as well. We hypothesized that there would be a correlation between students who skip breakfast and students who are depressed to the point of listlessness. Upon analysis of the data, we have found that the frequency of breakfast consumption can predict the possibility of severe depression at a confidence level of 99 percent. According to the online publication Food for the Brain, the specific vitamins that most affect depression in our everyday meals are vitamins B and D. Common breakfast foods such as eggs, cereals, dairy products, and bread all have high levels of these essential vitamins, and thus promote both brain health and an upbeat mood. This would indicate a causal link between eating and positive mental health. Next, we examined the reasoning behind missing out on the first meal of the day. Students often vouch that they forgo breakfast in favor of the minimal sleep they already get, thus we hypothesized that there would be a correlation between the two. After analysis, we found a statistically significant relationship between sleep and breakfast consumption. The more sleep you get, the more frequently you eat breakfast. This confirms our hypothesis, demonstrating that individuals who skip breakfast do so because they don’t sleep enough. We then proceeded to wrap up this love triangle by comparing sleep and depression. Once again, the finding supported our hypothesis, indicating that the amount of sleep you get can predict whether or not you are depressed at a statistically significant level. Though these findings don’t prove causation, they do indicate that not eating and sleeping in order to do better in school may take significant tolls on students’ mental health. Students ought to reconsider their priorities—eating and sleeping are important parts of a healthy life.
Academic Guys Cheat More than Girls By Alvin Wei Despite an education system that ties success with high test scores, of those surveyed by The Spectator, 76 percent answered that they have never cheated on exams while 20 percent answered that they have rarely cheated on exams. But of those five percent who answered “Sometimes,” “Often,” or “Always/Almost Always,” is there a tendency for one gender to cheat more often than the other? According to the survey’s results, there is no significant correlation between gender and how frequent one cheats on an exam with respect to freshmen and sophomores. Yet, there is a significant correlation within the junior and senior student bodies—more males tend to cheat on exams than their female peers. For the junior class, 24 males answered “Sometimes,” 4 answered “Often,” and 5 answered “Always/Almost Always,” while only 7 females answered “Sometimes” and none answered “Often” or “Always/Almost Always.” For the senior class, this correlation is also true: 11 males answered “Sometimes,” one answered “Often,” and none answered “Always/Almost Always,” which pale in comparison to the two females who answered “Sometimes,” one for “Often,” and one for “Always/Almost Always.” The majority of current Stuyvesant students hardly ever cheat on exams, yet for those students who do, more males tend to cheat than females, although they might just be more likely to admit their academic violations.
Less Sleep Leads to Less Focus During Class
GPA and Extracurricular Participation are Directly Related
By Anne Duncan and Andrew Fischer
by Justin Strauss and Danny Kim
Stuyvesant students often talk about pulling all-nighters, and it is not uncommon to see students sleeping in class. But is there a relationship between the two? Apparently, most people who sleep seven or more hours each night rarely or never fall asleep in class. Not surprisingly, the less sleep students get, the more likely they are to doze off in class. The numbers drift towards the other extreme, sleeping in class every day. About one fourth of the students who pull all-nighters also doze off in class every day. This proves that pulling all-nighters decreases ability to learn in class, as students may doze off during the lesson. Most students, however, sleep three to six hours nightly, and only doze off occasionally.
We hypothesized that a student’s level of participation in extracurricular activities impacts his or her overall GPA because participating in extracurricular activities leaves less time for work and study. Therefore, more time spent doing activities should lead to a lower overall GPA. However, the survey results show a direct correlation, in which those who spend more time participating in extracurricular activities tend to have higher GPAs and those who spend less time participating in extracurricular activities tend to have lower GPAs. This suggests that students who are involved in activities outside of school demonstrate a certain level of commitment and motivation, not only to participate in these activities, but also to strive for a stronger academic performance.
Extracurricular Participation and Studying is Not Zero Sum By Severyn Kozak We posited that the time students spend studying for an average test inversely correlates with the time they invest in extracurricular activities, for the arguably obvious reason that students must divide a set amount of free time between the two activities. Conversely, students who spend greater amounts of time on extracurricular activities may simultaneously be more devoted to their academic careers, and thus study for lengthier periods. Our survey, however, disproved both assumptions—there exists absolutely no relation between the two sets of data, a finding that may prove consequential for our administration’s approach to regulating extracurricular participation. Students with flagging grades are often barred from competing on teams and joining theater productions, under the argument that after-school activities prevent them from completing coursework. The lack of relation between time spent on extracurriculars and studying implies that there does not exist a causal link between falling grades and after-school participation, potentially heralding a much-demanded change in administration policy.
A Slippery Slope: Cheating One Way Leads to Another By Teresa Chen According to the Department of Education, academic dishonesty is a black and white concept that includes the following: cheating on tests, either by copying answers or by learning the test questions beforehand; copying homework from other students; and plagiarizing written assignments. However, we believed that students at Stuyvesant drew blurred lines between different forms of cheating. While skipping an English reading or taking a friend’s homework are thought of as harmless events, cheating on tests and plagiarizing essays are actions with serious repercussions. This is why we believed that there would be significantly more students who admitted to copying homework than those who admitted to cheating on tests. In addition to this, we also thought that those who cheated on tests would be more inclined to copy homework. Both hypotheses were proven correct by the analysis of survey results. The number of students likely to copy homework exceeded the number of those inclined to cheat on tests by 111 students. Furthermore, as students become older, the likelihood of committing an act of academic dishonesty increased, with a peak at junior year, known as the most stressful of the four years in high school. For example, 17 percent of juniors surveyed admitted to copying homework on a regular basis, compared to eight percent of the freshman population. Nine percent of juniors surveyed admitted to cheating on tests often, compared to a stark one percent of freshmen. What was perhaps most startling was that in all four grades, there was a striking correlation at a confidence level greater than 99.9% between students who copy homework and those who cheat on tests. The unfortunate implication of this is that the same students who commit one act of academic dishonestly are likely to commit other acts of academic dishonesty. Cheating is a slippery slope.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Special: Spectator Survey Miscellaneous No Relationship Between Commute Time and English Reading By Robert He There is no correlation between the commute time of students and how often they skip English readings. This pattern is ubiquitous and is apparent throughout the four grades. One would assume that some students, having nothing else better to do on the train, would start or finish their English readings while commuting; however, this hypothesis is based on a generalization, as it assumes that students are traveling by public transportation or through some other service that allows them to read while commuting. Commuters Are Not More Likely to Skip Breakfast By Joyce Koltisko We’ve all met (or been) the person that consistently complains about how long it takes to get to school, how unfair it is that some people live just blocks away, how little time there is in the morning to get ready, how they wish they had time for breakfast, and so on. But just how true and prevalent are these complaints? Responses to The Spectator’s questionnaire indicate that just a little over 5.6 percent of those surveyed never eat breakfast. On the other hand, 828 of the 1620 students surveyed, a good 51 percent of the population, indicated that they always make time to eat breakfast. Also, the survey responses show that only 1 percent of students actually live just 10 minutes away from the school; the majority (54 percent) of students take 30 minutes to 1 hour, and only 4 percent of all students take more than 1 hour and 30 minutes to commute to school one way. So is there a link between breakfast and commute time? The truth is that there is no evidence to support a link between the two. Students who take less than 30 minutes to get to school every day are not more or less likely to make time for breakfast in the morning, whether at home or in school. And interestingly, the data also shows that the majority (62.7 percent) of those who do have a commute time of over 1 hour and 30 minutes often or always eat breakfast. Although there are several factors left unaccounted for (such as the fact that many students with fourth period lunch choose to combine breakfast and lunch), the general conclusion that can be drawn is that there is little truth to the claim that commute time affects whether or not one chooses to eat breakfast.
Justin Strauss / The Spectator
By Lev Akabas Stuyvesant students are very good at solving problems (one reason we have so many AP Comp Sci classes). But here’s a problem we can’t solve: how to do homework and still get enough sleep. We spend from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at school. According to The Spectator’s survey results, the average Stuy student also spends slightly more than an hour each afternoon participating in extracurricular activities: the sports teams, SING!, and after-school clubs that give Stuyvesant its enthusiastic environment that we all love. Com-
Sleeping is Not an Option at Stuyvesant muting takes a typical student a little more than 50 minutes each way, which means arriving home around 5:30 p.m. and having until 7:00 a.m. the following morning to leave for school - only 13.5 hours. The vast majority of studies confirm that a healthy night’s sleep for teenagers is at least nine hours, leaving just 4.5 hours in the day. Accounting for dinner, breakfast, brushing teeth, showering, dressing, and packing backpacks, the average student would have about three hours to complete homework. In a different survey conducted by The Spectator in October, 2013, we determined that teachers expect students to spend 32.2 minutes per day on homework, and that students do indeed spend 32.1 minutes completing homework for the average class. With three hours to spare, only students taking the minimum six classes could do all their work at home and still get a healthy amount of sleep. And only if those students take no breaks (an unreasonable expectation after a long day at school) to get a snack or to clear their minds for a few minutes listening to music or talking to their families. So, indeed, while the average student spends a total of slightly more than two and a half hours working nightly at home, according to our survey, many students do the rest (including the 30-60 minutes that the average student spends study-
ing for each test) working diligently on the train and during their lunch periods. And remember, we’re only dealing with average students taking the minimum number of classes. What about students who have a full schedule or take several AP classes, which, according to our October survey, give roughly 10 minutes more homework per night than the average class? Such students do exist in large numbers, as 39 percent of students spend more than three hours a night on homework, and 15 percent slog on for more than four hours. Additionally, overall GPA was found, not surprisingly, to be strongly correlated to both amount of time spent on homework and amount of time spent studying for tests, so if students want to work extra to improve their grades, they literally do not have enough hours in the day to do so and still get a reasonable amount of rest. On a similar note, the 31 percent of students on sports teams and the 17 percent who spend more than two hours on extracurriculars (overlap may exist between those two groups), who won’t arrive home until around 6:30 p.m. on average, have less than two hours for work at home. As expected, amount of sleep is strongly inversely correlated to amount of time spent on extra-curriculars, meaning that indeed students are forced to choose between pursu-
ing their creative passions and sleeping. Admittedly, 67 percent of students do also spend more than an hour on social media websites nightly, but asking students to completely surrender their social lives for a cloistered academic life would be unjustifiable. In fact, the notion that Stuyvesant students only get little sleep because they procrastinate on Facebook is exaggerated. On average we sleep a paltry six hours per night, a situation that is aggravated significantly by fluke nights in which a student will have a sports meet in another borough, attend or perform in a show, dance, or concert, or have a test or project due the following day. In the average week, 50 percent of students will sleep as little as four hours at least once, 13 percent will sleep as little as two hours at least once, and five percent will pull an all-nighter sometime during the week. Teachers should rethink the 32 minutes of homework that they give for each class. If you still think sleep and homework are not a problem at Stuyvesant, consider this survey result: only nine percent of students (and five percent of upperclassmen) sleep more than eight hours a night, which is still a full hour less than ideal. The lack of sleep students get is extremely detrimental to both kids’ health (lethargy leads to overeating and obesity) and to our school environment. According to a study
conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 73 percent of teenagers who claim to be depressed or moody also admit to being sleep deprived. Furthermore, sleep deficiency has been linked to an inability to remember and recall new information, which is what we must do in the classroom. Stuyvesant students are also forced to compensate by dozing off in class, a strategy that 46 percent of students admit to using “at least once a week” and 18 percent do “most days.” Many teachers may not realize that while 32 minutes seems modest, when multiplied by six, seven, or even eight class periods, the product skyrockets. By simply capping each night’s homework assignment at 20 minutes, teachers can free an hour of time each night, and make the arithmetic work out for their students to relax, enjoy their high school lives, and, hopefully, sleep. If teachers reduced their nightly homework assignments to only what is absolutely necessary for learning the material and gave students multiple nights to complete longer assignments, our school could stop forcing kids to complete 25 hours of tasks in a 24-hour day, and may also make Stuyvesant a healthier, happier, less stressful and, possibly, a more educational place.
because he was running bogus classes that were designed to allow athletes to meet graduation requirements with hardly any effort. While the clear disregard for academics by his students is obvious, it is important to note that a strong education is still important to many high school and college athletes. As it turns out, being part of a sports team doesn’t necessarily mean that your grades will go down. In fact, athletic participation in both high school and college can actually help one succeed by making one more intelligent, hardworking, and ultimately successful throughout one’s entire life. Being on a sports team in high school and college is both healthy and academically helpful to athletes. A sports team can provide a strong work ethic, making it a lot easier to finish homework without procrastinating. The focus and dedication required by athletics also
has real academic benefits, such as significantly higher test scores and far lower dropout rates. Researchers at Michigan State found that, on average, students who participate in a rigorous sport have GPAs that are at least 10 percent higher than those of non-athletes. The Spectator’s own 2013-2014 Survey found that Stuy students on sports teams had an average GPA of 91.53, whereas the average GPA for the rest of the school lagged at 90.69. Furthermore, the regular exercise provided by daily practices has been shown to help reduce stress, increase one’s general happiness and promote healthy sleeping patterns, all of which makes a student’s life easier and allows them to perform at higher levels. A study conducted within the United States found that students who exercised more often had a 12 percent larger brain capacity compared to those who exercised less often, which translates into better
performance on a variety of cognitive tests. The benefits of athletic training in high school and college, however, are not limited to a student’s educational career. It is safe to assume that athletes won’t completely abandon a sport they know and love, but rather will find a way to continue practicing it regularly. According to the World Health Organization, regular exercise for adults helps reduce the likelihood of stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases. Basically, athletic adults will live longer, happier, more productive lives. However, there is no reason for everyone to drop their textbooks and run to the gym to work out. One should never go to the extremes found at Chapel Hill, nor should they try to become test-taking vegetables. Without a proper focus on academics, stu-
dents will find themselves limiting their options later in life. There are simply fewer available jobs in profootball than there are in the fields of computer science or medicine. While the life of a professional athlete may seem glorious (and the lives of many are), for every celebrity, there are hundreds of hopefuls who haven’t even set foot in a major stadium. A strong education can provide unique opportunities which should never be sacrificed in the name of athletics. As Stuy students, we tend to worry a lot about how high our grades are and whether we will get into a good college. Many students often decide they shouldn’t join a sports team because they believe the time commitment will lower their grades. While it is true that some athletes often do suffer academically, athletics still provide students with lots of positive benefits that can help them succeed throughout their lives.
Ashley Lin / The Spectator
Join a Sport’s Team: It’s Good for Your Health and Your Grades
By Nino Dickersin A professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was indicted for fraud last month
A special thanks is in order for Assistant Principal of Chemistry and Physics Scott Thomas, who allowed us to use his Scantron machine to read our data. Without his consideration and patience, this survey would not have been possible. We also want to thank Stuyvesant’s English teachers for allowing us to distribute our surveys during their classes.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Arts and Entertainment Calendar
Looking Forward: February SUNDAY
Sports Boys’ Basketball vs. Washington Ivring 4:30 p.m. @ 3rd floor gym Sports Girls’ Basketball vs. Graphic Communications Arts 4:30 p.m. @ 6th floor gym
Concert One Ok Rock Best Buy Theatre – Times Square 7 p.m.
Concert Eric Bibb Highline Ballroom 8 p.m.
Concert Garrick Ohlsson Carnegie Hall – Isaac Stern Auditorium 2 p.m.
Album release Temples’s “Sun Structures” Genre: Alternative rock
Sports Boys’ JV Basketball vs. Bayard Rustin 4:30 p.m.
Art exhibition Eleanor Hubbard: “Just One Look” Walter Wickiser Gallery (Chelsea) Available through February 26, 2014 Concert Europa Galante Carnegie Hall – Judy & Arthur Zankel Hall 7:30 p.m.
Sports Girls’ Basketball vs. Seward Park 4:30 p.m.
Sports Boys’ Basketball vs. Economics and Finance 4:30 p.m.
Art exhibition Kathleen Ching: “Pain is Invisible” Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space (Lower East Side) Available through March 2, 2014
Movie release “Robocop” Genre: Action, adventure Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson Sports Boys’ JV Basketball vs. West 50th Street Campus 4:30 p.m.
Art gallery opening Anna Navasardian: “Anna Navasardian” Claire Oliver Gallery (Chelsea) 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Available through March 15, 2014
Art exhibition Don Ahn: “Paintings” Walter Wickiser Gallery (Chelsea) Available through February 26, 2014 Concert Nicole Atkins Bowery Ballroom 9 p.m.
Sports Girls’ Basketball vs. Fashion Industries 4:30 p.m.
Concert Arctic Monkeys & Deerhunter Madison Square Garden 8 p.m.
Movie Release “The Lego Movie” Genre: Action, comedy Cast: Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Channing Tatum, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill
Movie release “Winter’s Tale” Genre: Drama, fantasy Cast: Matt Bomer, Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay Movie release “Endless Love” Genre: Romance Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Robert Patrick
Art exhibition Charles Schucker: “Paintings” Walter Wickiser Gallery (Chelsea) Available through February 26, 2014
Concert Melanie Martinez Gramercy Theatre 7 p.m. Concert Galactic Terminal 5 7 p.m.
Sports Indoor Track and Field Borough Championships 4:00 p.m. @ Armory Track
Art exhibition Deborah Brown: “Outer Limits” Lesley Heller Workspace (Lower East Side) Available through March 9, 2014 Concert Melissa Manchester B.B. King Blues Club & Grill 8 p.m.
Art exhibition Group Show: “A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio” MoMA Available through October 5, 2014 Art exhibition “Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Available through September 1, 2014
Album release Ashanti’s “BraveHeart” Genre: R&B, hip hop
Art exhibition Laura Westby: “Congruent Spaces” Phoenix Gallery (Chelsea) Available through March 1, 2014
Album release Phantogram’s “Voices” Genre: Indie, synthpop
Concert Justin Timberlake Madison Square Garden 8 p.m,
Joy Yang/ The Spectator
Concert Earl Sweatshirt Webster Hall 7 p.m. Concert Into It. Over It. Bowery Ballroom 7:30 p.m.
Movie release “Pompeii” Genre: Action, adventure Cast: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland Album release Papa vs Pretty’s “White Deer Park” Genre: Rock, Indie rock
Concert Starkillers Bowery Ballroom 8 p.m. Concert Railroad Earth Best Buy Theatre – Times Square 8 p.m.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Arts and Entertainment Food
Cooking Up Home in a Belgian Chain Restaurant
By Liana chow
Le Pain Quotidien directly translates from French to “the daily bread” in English, and its meaning strikes deep within our psyche. Bread has always been a huge part of living and culture everywhere—when bread is not available, bloody revolutions are inspired. As an old-school slang word for money and as a metaphor of life, the idea of Le Pain Quotidien is to create an environment similar to home, and despite being expensive and a chain restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien achieves that. The smell of bread baking, the rustic décor, and the hands-on experience make Le Pain Quotidien more welcoming than your typical chain restaurant. Luckily, Stuyvesant students can stop by two locations of Le Pain Quotidien, each about three blocks from the school, for uncluttered sandwiches and satisfying snacks. For sunny days that call for outdoor seating, the Battery Park City location (at 2 River Terrace) is a nice place to eat lunch or have an afternoon snack. Although the restaurant is cramped inside—the tables barely fit in the
small space in the back—you can get fresh air at the outdoor tables that offer views of Rockefeller Park, the Irish Hunger Memorial and the Hudson River. In the winter, the Tribeca location (81 West Broadway, corner of Warren Street) is a better choice because there’s sufficient space inside to eat and for students to do work. The interior is decked in warm colors and wood, maintaining a tranquil atmosphere. There’s free Wi-Fi, which about 80 percent of the customers took advantage of when I was there. In fact, two people had a Japanese lesson over their tea. The highlight of my meal was the curried chicken salad tartine ($11.95, an open-faced sandwich. On the sides of the plate, waiting for you to pile them on the sandwich, are smooth cucumbers, spicy curry, and sweettart cranberry chutney. They allow for exploration of tastes and textures that still create a balance and work in harmony. It’s even an aesthetically pleasing sandwich to look at, with the mixture of colors coming together on the plate. Another of the restaurant’s homemade-feeling attributes, the Mediterranean hummus
($5.95), takes advantage of simplicity with its rich flavor and thick texture. Although most of the items on the menu are great choices, one thing you should avoid are the dishes labeled with the “100% Botanical/Vegan” carrot symbol. Although I was looking forward to butternut squash soup, the special changed to a flavorless organic vegan soup with brittle chickpeas, quinoa, and spinach. (At least the waiter was kind enough to bring me a sample, so that I knew not to order it.) Similarly, the vegan kale Caesar salad was a bland disappointment with barely any dressing. However, a few sips of dark hot chocolate ($4.85) put me back at ease. As a nod to his grandmother’s traditions, the founder of the restaurant, Alain Coumont, serves hot drinks in bowls. The hot chocolate comes as a bowl of foaming milk and a pitcher of melted chocolate for the customer to pour in, then drink directly from the bowl. It’s another delicate touch to the rustic atmosphere of Le Pain Quotidien and speaks of the characteristic Belgian generosity. The items on the menu are
a little pricy, and that’s why students might prefer the costs of the “Takeaway” menu, which are about a dollar less than the dishes served at the tables. If you just want a snack from the pas-
“The interior is decked in warm colors and wood, maintaining a tranquil atmosphere.” try counter, Le Pain Quotidien is very good at classic sweets. The cheese almond Danish ($3.50) is one of my favorites for its flaky crust. The croissants that are served are delicious when paired with Le Pain Quotidien spreads (but the croissants are pricey at $3.35—you can get fluffier ones
for 60 cents less at Financier in the World Financial Center.) You can choose from apricot jam, “Four Red Fruits” jam, Brunette praline spread, and Noisella, which is like a Belgian version of Nutella. Once again, however, the low point of the desserts comes along with the healthy selections such as the vegan organic carrot cake ($3.95) and organic quinoa spelt scone ($3.35). They clearly taste too healthy, with the grains ruining the texture. Overall, Le Pain Quotidien creates the feeling of an eclectic neighborhood café in Greenwich Village, despite its status as a chain restaurant. With a quaint and simple atmosphere, it presents itself as a quiet study place for students and as a pleasant hangout spot for friends. The prices may be a little too expensive, but you can save money by sharing plates and eating them outside. However, you won’t get the intimacy of putting together your own food and feeling the rough wood on the tables, which may be part of what you’re paying so much for.
Playlist 1. “Oceans” by Coasts Genre: Indie rock
5. “Body Electric (Blue)” by We The Wild Genre: Alternative, punk
9. “Icarus” by White Hinterland Genre: Indie
2. “Nicotine” by Panic! At the Disco Genre: Pop punk
6. “Hang With Me” by Robyn Genre: Synthpop
10. “Brightly Wound” by Eisley Genre: Indie folk
3. “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade Genre: Indie
7. “So Good to Me” by Chris Malinchak Genre: Alternative, indie
11. “Romanticise” by Chela Genre: Alternative
4. “One Last Time” by Jaymes Young Genre: Indie
8. “Nevermind The End” by Tei Shi Genre: Alternative, electronic
12. “Crystallized” by Young the Giant Genre: Indie rock
13. “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths Genre: Rock 14. “Frontier Psychiatrist” by The Avalanches Genre: Plunderphonics, disco 15. “Holding On to You” by twenty one pilots Genre: Alternative rock
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The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Arts and Entertainment Theater
A Village Haunted By People, Not Spirits By Shahruz Ghaemi The bleakness of New York in winter makes a fitting setting for this year’s STC Winter Drama, “The Crucible.” Written by playwright Arthur Miller in 1953, it is a touchstone of American theater, telling the story of the persecution and mass hysteria surrounding witchcraft in 17th century Salem. At the same time, it presents a reflection on the ongoing anti-communist panic. As an anti-establishment morality play, “The Crucible” is often produced in order to reinforce a wariness of authority by the audience, but because this message seems a bit redundant in today’s jaded, post-9/11 society, the STC’s most recent production focused instead on the play’s merits as a historical character drama. One way it did this was by firmly placing the play in its historical context. The production opened with a voiceover taken straight from the 1950s. A man explained to listeners how to spot a communist and warned them to beware of secret agents of the enemy. Overall, the scenery designed by the STC was sparse but effective in establishing the feeling of a small colonial town. A table and a fireplace clearly put us in the home of a simple farmer, whereas a towering judge’s bench told us we were in the courtroom, the center of all authority. The backdrop depicted plain wooden houses surrounded by a bleak landscape of dead trees and
rocks. The level of lighting was consistently low enough to contribute to this dreary mood. However, as soon as one actor had to stand next to another, they were often cast into the others’ shadow, a drawback that is difficult to manage given dim lighting. This minor annoyance aside, it was clear that the cast directors, juniors Thomas Perskin and Gabrielle Giles, coordinated an impressive production as a team, and they were undoubtedly assisted by an impressive cast. Senior Tasmuir Rabb played the haughty Reverend Parris, whose niece Abigail Williams (freshman Kate Johnston) begins to accuse various members in the Salem community of witchcraft after being caught by Parris dancing naked in the woods with some of the other village girls. Among her victims is Elizabeth Proctor (junior Jasmine Thomas), the wife of Abigail’s one-time lover John Proctor (senior Clay Walsh). As Abigail continues to accuse the souls he’s supposed to be saving, Rev. Parris is understandably distraught, but Rabb’s shrill, panicked tone became grating after two consecutive acts. It should be noted, however, that between the Thursday and Saturday performances he had noticeably improved in portraying the nuances of his character, such as his huge ego as a Harvard-educated minister. As Abigail, the consummate villain, Johnston took on a scarily stiff posture and deliberate
movements that easily sent chills through the audience. This was evident when she blackmailed the other girls she was with in the forest into joining her in doing God’s work, exposing witchcraft in Salem. Johnston maintained her creepiness even while being love-struck whenever John Proctor entered the scene. Although she spoke of love and of a bright future together, Johnston placed forceful emphasis on her words, and hinted at threats to Proctor’s wife, creating an image of obsessive love. Even as Johnston holds a rose in the deep night, her secret conversation with Proctor is devoid of any innocent and romantic atmosphere, and this works in maintaining a strong reaction from the audience. The other side of this love story stars Thomas and Walsh, who acted well together onstage as the couple struggling both against the tensions within their marriage and against the community that seeks to disgrace Elizabeth as a witch. Thomas’ endearing performance as Elizabeth Proctor caused Walsh’s lines accusing her of being unreasonable about his conduct with Abigail to appear patently ridiculous. Her genuine and sincere tone, in addition to her willingness to forgive her husband for his infidelity, ultimately influenced a sympathetic audience, and allowed Thomas to be recognized as a leading actress in the performance. As the male lead, Walsh captured the genuine helplessness
of a man trying—and failing—to bring reason to a hysterical community manipulated by a powermad, love-crazy teenage girl. He brought deep emotion to his role as the tragic hero, from reasonable pleading to frustrated defensiveness to rage. Walsh was extremely sympathetic as a good man struggling to demonstrate his own goodness by standing up to the injustices of Salem’s witch hunt, and the conflicted emotions that build up to his unfortunate hanging at the end of the production lead to heated arguments: did Proctor die as a failure to his goodness, or did he die as a martyr for the goodness of man? Junior Rebecca Yuste-Golob played Mary Warren, a young woman overwhelmed by the power now thrust upon her as a witch-revealer. She eventually turns against Abigail and the other girls out of guilt for sending Elizabeth, her employer, to jail. The single most spine-tingling moment of the production came when she confronts Abigail in front of the assembled officials of Salem. Abigail starts to see a bird above the audience’s heads, a sign of Mary’s witchcraft. When the other girls join Abigail in seeing it, Mary pleads with them to stop. The girls only repeat her appeals back to her in a mocking tone, louder and louder, driving Mary to madness in the creepiest echo chamber I’ve ever been in. Another impressive performance came from sophomore Henry Rosenbloom as the Dep-
uty Governor of Massachusetts in charge of the trails. His soft but exasperated tone provided a good contrast with the hysterics of the rest of Salem, but was sadly hard to hear at times. Overall his portrayed impatience and stubborn belief in the idea of Satan’s influence proved to be outstanding, as it generated the intended effect of frustration in the audience. This was especially clear when Rosenbloom continues to push Proctor for his confession in order to excuse him from death as punishment. In addition, freshman Liam Elkind notably transcended his small stature in his role as Reverend Hale, another out-of-towner seeking rhyme or reason in the madness of Salem. Elkind’s voice and movements always impressively conveyed the emotions of his character, despite being visually an unusual choice for the role, as Elkind’s youthful appearance highly contrasted Hale’s wisdom and stature. Placed against a stark backdrop and a dreary storyline, the cast was phenomenal at adding color and energy to Miller’s wellknown tale. This is a story told through passion and internal conflicts, and the cast members succeeded in telling it. Through their performance, this quaint Massachusetts village gone absolutely crazy was excitingly brought to life in the STC’s most recent production.
By Justin Strauss
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Arts and Entertainment Theater
Are We Recording? By Geoffrey Luu “Ladies and gentlemen: please turn all of your recording devices…ON.” This is how the television and live show “HitRECord” begins, and it already shows the level of uniqueness exhibited by the production. The series, which airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Pivot and premiered on January 18, is an extension of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s production company, HitRECord, founded in 2005. Given Levitt’s impressive body of work in recent years, including supporting roles in “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well as a directing and starring role in last year’s “Don Jon,” I had high expectations for the show, all of which were met and exceeded. Each episode of “HitRECord” revolves around a different theme, and consists of several segments exploring its various aspects. Material for the show is made collaboratively, with the majority of its footage taken from the company’s website, hitrecord.org, which was originally started as a smallscale site for collectively pro-
ducing short films. Members of the site can make text, audio, image, or video contributions on the site; these contributions are curated and edited by Levitt and his crew to produce the final versions of each segment that appear on TV. One might expect at least a handful of these contributions to be of subpar quality, but the members of the HitRECord community conduct themselves with maturity, at least on screen, and keep things classy. Despite the show’s wealth of original material, I originally doubted that it could avoid becoming formulaic or predictable. Fortunately, its first three episodes dispelled those doubts with ease. The series’ inaugural episode, “RE: The Number One,” serves as our introduction to the unorthodox format of the series; the episode discusses first times, unity, and loneliness in segments that include a short documentary about Utah’s Pando Forest and a cartoon about a group of musicians who must unite to defeat silence. A short film included in the show best shows the level of collaboration encouraged on HitRECord, as
Levitt took a heart-wrenching memoir about a girl who saw the stars for the first time, and then developed a video for her words: in total, it required the participation of 12 videos, 75 images, and 13 audios files from a pool of 1,440 contributors. The end result was a breathtaking collection of artwork and that illustrated a beautiful story. The second episode, “RE: Fantasy,” begins with an upbeat musical number called “Oh It’s Fantastic” featuring Levitt and guest star Tony Danza, who had a supporting role in “Don Jon,” with HitRECord contributors invited to participate on stage. It then delves into the neuroscience of fantasy and the imagination, with input from professors from the Universities of Toronto and Kuwait. The third episode, “RE: Trash,” takes a wildly different turn, discussing, as Levitt states, the “notso-polite” topics of guilty pleasures and trashy entertainment in an interview with filmmaker John Waters, known as the Pope of Trash, and in a low-quality Bmovie in which Levitt stars. Each episode and segment has a unique atmosphere,
whether humorous, saddening, or surreal, that is created through imagery, dialogue, and music, and because the format and organization of an episode changes from week to week—similar to “Saturday Night Live”—viewers will never really know what to expect. This is one of the show’s multiple strengths; the changing format should be enough to keep viewers invested and interested in tuning in each week to see what comes next. As host and creator of the show, Levitt shows a great deal of charisma, enthusiasm, and pride in his own work and in the work of the show’s many contributors. He often speaks directly to the audience in order to introduce a segment or discuss the episode’s theme, and, from time to time, participates in a segment himself, joined on stage or on screen by audience members. For a show that focuses on displaying content created by its audience, this style of hosting works very well. Levitt devotes equal attention to every segment and never focuses too much or too little on himself, though he is given
a large amount of time to show off his own talents beyond film, including his musical skill. “HitRECord on TV” offers a fresh and original viewing experience, taking simple, everyday subjects and exploring them in depth while offering humor and emotional weight and, at times, raising fascinating philosophical and psychological questions. The show’s emphasis on user-generated content allows the audience to show off their own work or share their stories with the rest of the world. This alone makes every episode feel new and innovative, and creates an eclectic collection of talent and art. The show’s constantlychanging format and Levitt’s skill in acting, directing, and curating, as well as his energy and enthusiasm as the series’ host, only add to the show’s strength. Hopefully, “HitRECord” will prove to be another milestone in Levitt’s career. “HitRECord on TV” airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Pivot; episodes are available on iTunes the morning after.
Drumming is Joy. Imagine...
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The Drum School
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.
Junior Scheduled for Twelve Finals
By Daniel Goynatsky
• Dante de Blasio received a week-long suspension from Brooklyn Technical High School after he was seen eating a hot dog with a fork and knife. • Principal Zhang closed the Tribeca Bridge last week because of a “school safety study that had to be conducted,” creating a weeklong traffic jam on the West Side Highway. • Waiting until 5:30 a.m. to announce last Wednesday’s snow day, Mayor de Blasio became the first mayor in the history of NYC to procrastinate as much as his son. • Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 162 games, the entirety of the 2014 baseball season. In the wake of Rodriguez’s suspension, a new Major League Baseball Hall of Shame has been created. • An AP Statistics project has shown that since the start of the new year, Colorado has seen a rapid increase in hippies, singers, juvenile delinquents, and politicians alike. • Senior and Chess Team captain Justin Duda is out indefinitely after spraining his wrist while moving a bishop from f1 to b5. “After a long season, sometimes the physical toll of the sport becomes too much, and your body just breaks down,” Duda said.
Junior Ben Kessler was astonished when he was handed a sheet during homeroom informing him that he had to take 12 finals during finals week. “I don’t even remember signing up for QRP11CX43AD,” said Kessler, as he scrambled to study for what he discovered was a new hybrid class that combined Ceramics, Astronomy, and Step Aerobics. The administration has not been helpful in aiding the student body in their plea to remove some “superfluous” finals. The entire first floor and guidance offices are covered with signs that simply say “Deal with it” and “Sorry not sorry.” Students aren’t the only ones complaining about growing piles of work. The newly-appointed Assistant Principal of Organization, Mrs. Rodriguez-Tabone, has been on voluntary leave for the past week because of “too much schoolwork.” The administration has allotted five days for students to take all their finals. While this seems like a large amount of time for a small number of tests, the planning and creation of the time slots for individual students was far from perfect. “This can’t be fair. I have nine finals on Tuesday. I
have to come to school at 4:30 in the morning and leave at 11 at night. I’m not even allowed a bathroom break in between,” said Kessler, choking back tears upon his realization that he would not be able to purchase his daily Iced Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks that early in the morning. This finals craze has also affected teachers, as many found out that they now actually need to create and grade finals. “How are you even supposed to give a Polar Bear final?” physical education
Gideon Leeper/ The Spectator
Junior Brian Lee has begun studying for his 13 finals, having attended only 8 this semester.
“How are you even supposed to give a Polar Bear final?”— Mr. Bologna, Physical Education Teacher
teacher Mr. Bologna asked on a brisk -9ºF day. Every P.E. class is now mandated to administer a final, and yesterday, physical education teachers were on the lookout for volunteers to be the “drownees” for the Lifeguarding final. “I didn’t even know we had a Masochism club,” said an ecstatic Mr. Bologna, after getting six volunteers to sign his waiver. “I just don’t understand why we have so much work. Everything is due so soon, and we don’t have enough time for projects,” said junior Ervin Flores, while taking a break from writing a six-page essay on the negative effects of stress due the next day for his
Health class. While some students are extremely stressed out about finals, others seem unmoved by the pressure. “Are you kidding me? Of course I’m not going to study for my finals. The snow-day calculator says there is at least a 34% chance of there being a snow day this week. I’m not in AP Stat or anything, but those seem like good odds to me,” junior Elvin Shoyfer said. there was almost no funky business in class,” math teacher Paul Chen said. “The only problem was the smut dressed up like a naughty cop.”
SING! Predictions By Winton Yee and Laszlo Sandler
Soph-Frosh Theme: 90s Cartoons/Film Noir/Sports
Junior Theme: 2014 Political Races
Senior Theme: “We can’t wait to get outta here!”
Description: Unable to decide on a single topic, the sophomores and freshmen have instead opted for the triple threat of one mediocre theme, one bad theme, and one awful theme.
Description: Who doesn’t love a show filled with ethical concerns and door-to-door campaigning? In what is being called “the greatest thing since evolution,” the juniors will show a fascinating race for county councilman.
Description: Instead of cherishing their final months at Stuyvesant, the Seniors will put on a production that expresses everything they hate about Stuyvesant—in particular, the underclassmen.
What to Expect: A spellbinding and seamlessly incorporated hip-hop routine—with an accompanying ballad—during a taxation disagreement.
What to Expect: The show will probably just consist of five or six seniors sitting in chairs, yelling “SECOND-TERM SENIOR!” for 45 minutes. The unfortunate audience members who choose to sit in the front row will regret doing so.
What to Expect: Expect many poor puns and bodily injuries, most of which will be caused by the puns. Two to six teachers will be guilted into making brief, two-second cameos that don’t really make any sense, but, hey, they’re teachers. What people are saying: “I learned this in Algebra II. Three themes means three times as many points.” - sophomore math prodigy Jason Lau. “I really hope my voice doesn’t crack while I’m singing.” - freshman Asher Lasday “As the heavy favorites, we’ve got a lot to live up to. We’re hoping that set will use more than four colors this year.” - SophFrosh SING! coordinator Rahul Francis
By Lev akabas
What people are saying: “After almost losing to SophFrosh these last two years, we’re thinking of stepping our judges’ bribe up to $3.50.” - junior SING! coordinator Emily Ruby “Aw, man, does that mean my Facebook suggestion of ‘Junior Mints’ won’t be our theme?”junior Emile Jean-Baptiste “I haven’t seen a political race this engaging since all those toddlers ran for Freshman Caucus.”- junior George Kitsios
What people are saying: “Get out of my face, freshman.”- senior and Big Sib Aaron Coppa “I don’t think I’ve heard of a more original SING! idea since, well, ever.”- freshman Shabob Alam “What is a ‘Second Term Senior’?” - senior Rosalie Campbell “They’ll probably still win anyway.” - Principal Jie Zhang
NFL Outlaws All Contact with Quaterbacks
The NFL (National Football League) Competition Committee has decided on a new rule for the 2014-2015 season. Any defender touching a quarterback will incur in a 15-yard penalty. The rule change is yet another that the NFL is instituting to make the game safer by eliminating all excitement. “When going in to shake hands with a quar-
terback after the game, you can shake with one hand, but once you get that second hand in there, that creates the type of dangerous play we’re trying to avoid,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “And hugging is even worse because it simply makes it too hard for the referees to get a good angle and make an accurate call.” One clause of the new rule, however, is that not only
penalties, but also fines, will be given to those touching certain quarterbacks. “We’re really looking to protect our white quarterbacks, especially those with the first name Peyton, and I’ll add a few more names to that list after I draft my fantasy team next year,” Goodell said. “Remember, our primary goal is player safety, and if we have to steal a little money from our hard-working players and redistribute it
to our obscenely rich owners and overcompensated executives, it’s a consequence that we’ll have to live with.” Others, when asked about the new rule, did not give straight answers. “Omaha, Omaha!” Peyton Manning said. “With this rule in place, I guarantee that the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl next year,” New York Jets’ coach Rex Ryan said.
Kansas City Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid stared blankly at his clipboard, pondering where his timeouts went. “I wonder if this rule change will reduce the number of sacks,” he said. “It’s unfair that some quarterbacks get special treatment,” Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick said. “But, then again, I’m not even starting anymore, so I don’t have a dog in this fight.”
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Sports Brains, not Brawns By Rayyan Jokhai When you ask Stuyvesant students about some of the sports clubs that they are aware of, they may mention the rowing, ping pong, or maybe even the badminton club. Often, one club is left out—the chess club. That’s right, chess is a sport. As of 1999, the International Olympic Committee recognizes it as one, even hosting the biennial chess tournament known as the Chess Olympiad. Chess itself is a rather popular activity among Stuyvesant students, so naturally the chess club is one of Stuyvesant’s more active clubs. With an average meeting attendance of around 20 people, games are not difficult to come by. In the research chemistry laboratory, up on the eighth floor in Room 815, these unsung athletes meet twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays for an hour and a half to play competitive games of chess with each other. “We simply provide a place for people to come in and play a friendly game of chess. For those of us who are on the [chess] team, it’s a great place to get practice because we aren’t able to go to tournaments often. For those of us who aren’t, it’s just a place to come and have fun,” club president and senior Justin Duda said. The chess club is interrelated with the chess team, in which certain skilled members of the club compete and represent Stuyvesant at a national level. The club’s faculty advisor is social studies teacher Bill Boericke, who plays a major role in the coordination of events for both the club and team. “Mr. Boericke is an integral part of the chess team and club. He works closely with the club officers to ensure that the club and team run smoothly. In addition, he often acts as a liaison between the administration and the chess team and club,” Duda said. Meetings tend to be rather simple and straight to the point.
You come in, you play chess, and you leave. “To make sure that games are competitive and fair, there’s a ladder system that we use to organize games,” senior Miguel Garcia said. Members tend to play around three to four games on meetings in which attendance is rather high, and even more on days on which not too many people show up. “The chess club is just a place for me to play chess. I come here after school to relax, and play friendly games with the rest of the members. I get good practice and just get to have fun,” freshman Kai Kronberg said. The chess club, despite its laid-back appearance, is where the members get their best practice, because they don’t have time or opponents to play at home. Because of the many other talented members, everyone has the opportunity to play against better players to improve at the game. “I’ve definitely gotten better at chess since coming to the club. After joining, I picked the game back up and feel that I have gotten much better,” senior and vice president Aaron Coppa said. To encourage completely novice members to join the club, Mondays were used to help rookies improve. However, due to lack of attendance, that service has been stopped for a while and will continue when more people attend. “I would encourage many people who have never played chess before to join the club. We’re a really tight club that helps each other out, and chess is simply a great game. It’s fun to play and helps people do better in school,” Duda said. The team, which is composed largely of club members, has accomplished a lot in chess tournaments. The team’s most recent tournament was the 2013 National K-12 Chess Championship, which was held in Orlando, Florida. “In the December tournament, our ninth grade team won first place, our
tenth grade team won third place, and our senior team also won first place. We generally perform well in the national tournaments, and were second last year in the city,” Duda said. In the most recent national tournament, some of the best players from across the United States met to compete and represent their schools. “In the past national tournament, I was up against a 2100 player, and had I lost or even drawn, we would not have been able to win first place. However, I somehow managed to beat him and we were able to win first place,” said Coppa, who has an impressive 1800 ranking. Other skilled players who compete for the team are junior Danny Feng, who has a ranking of 2097, sophomores Kyle Moon and Alex Spinnell, who have rankings of 2059 and 2055, respectively, and Garcia, who has a ranking of 1951. In addition to simply providing an opportunity to play chess, the club fosters friendship between members. Because of the one-on-one nature of chess, members are bound to play people they haven’t met before. “I was actually friends with someone in my grade who was part of the chess club before I even became a member. After joining, our bond just became that much stronger and he became one of my closer friends,” Coppa said. Additionally, chess is a sport that helps with school because playing the game requires thinking and logic. By being a part of the team, students can hone in on these skills, translating into improved grades. “I really feel like chess helps me do better in school. The game requires a clear thought process, similar to that of math,” Kronberg said. “If I were to tell someone who was unsure as to why to join the club, I would tell them to do it because they’ll meet so many new people and will make many friends,” Duda said. “It’s a place where everyone shares a common interest and comes to practice and have fun.”
A Lukewarm Start to the Season By Samantha Lau The Lemurs came into their first meet of the season excited to see how they would perform against the Long Island City Bulldogs, the two-time city champions, on Thursday, January 9. “They always perform consistently and highly, but I was curious to see how our new team would perform,” senior and cocaptain Hudson Lee said. The team’s personal goal for the first meet was about 110 points, but it ended up only scoring 108. Some of the point loss was due to to the judging on the floor event. This event is usually the Lemurs’ highest scoring event besides vault, but the scores were a little shorter for judges Kevin Manrique and Frank Murphy, who were very critical on the press handstands. Many of the gymnasts’ strong strength skills were a lot lower because he downgraded them for a slight shuffling of hands. There is requirement on floor to have a B strength skill (A is the lowest skill level and as the skills get progressively more difficult, the respective letter is bumped further along the alphabet). Many gymnasts include the straddle press to handstand in their routine, which is a C skill, but since they moved their hands while pressing, it was deducted to an A skill. “The judges didn’t have the proper understand of scoring floor. We could have gotten another three points if I put in a protest but I’ll let them know for the next meet about what the kids should be scoring,” coach Marvin Autry said. On pommel horse, sophomore Aaron Orelowitz and Lee showed dramatic improvement from last season. They tied and both got seven out of 10, compared to their threes and fives, respectively, last year. Orelowitz added loops, for which a good extension is necessary to clear the horse, and circles, the basic foundation for learning skills, which shot his score up. Lee had
full scissors, the crossing of the legs over the horse. He was the only one to have a C skill in his routine. On rings, sophomore Greg Redozubov decided to risk the straddle planche, a difficult move that involves a holding push-up position held by your arms, while gripping the rings, with your legs extended and spread apart behind you, into his routine. Orelowitz, once again, had a very solid routine, but because his competition club routines only have eight skills and he uses those for school meets, he was unable to receive as high of a score as he should have. “As a club gymnast, his form is great and he has great swings which we don’t have because we can’t practice it that much. His swinging skills and dislocates are a lot better than the rest of the team,” Lee said. On vault, all the gymnasts did front handsprings and had scores in the 7.0s. However, there was one void because junior Scott Min went for a straddle over vault, a move involving spreading legs spread wide to each side, and did not end up getting enough height on the spring, resulting in a crash into the vault. Rings and high bar are a work in progress and are not the Lemurs’ best events. One of the main reasons is that they have to share the gym with the girls’ gymnastics team. The gymnastics gym is a confined area so when the girls have an event like uneven bars or beam out, there is not much room for the boys to set up their rings or high bar. Because of this, the Lemurs are only able to set up these events once a week. In each event, the Lemurs were three to four points behind LIC, so it was no surprise that they lost 120.80 to 108.20. “Overall, the team did good, but they were a bit sloppy on all the events. We didn’t do enough routines so next week I will concentrate a lot more on routines as opposed to skills,” Autry said.
Sabrina Chan / The Spectator
A Lost Game but not a Lost Cause
Michael Berlin (right) attempts to save himself from a leading Wingate wrestler.
By Tahmid Khandaker Underdogs are called underdogs for a reason: they are expected to lose. For the Brooklyn Technical Engineers, every opponent is an underdog, including our very own Spartans. Riding a three-game win streak, the Spartans ran into a brick wall on Thursday, January 16, suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Engineers. With a combined 32 wins and 0 losses dating back to 2010, the Engineers walked in, took care of business, and walked out, exposing some of the Spartans’ biggest weak-
nesses in their last regular season meet of the season. “We pretty much know we’re gonna lose,” said junior Henry O’Donnell on the day of the meet. “They’re just too good of a team.” But although the meet was set in stone before it began, the match against the juggernaut Engineers was highly anticipated by the Spartans. “I personally cannot wait for our match with Tech because they’re filled with wrestling experts, but I think that with enough spirit and dedication we just may bring about a miracle,” said senior and captain Michael Berlin prior to the meet.
The spirit and dedication were there in the 72-0 rout by the Engineers, but the miracle wasn’t. The Spartans were outmatched in every category, and key injuries and absences further decreased their slim chances of winning. Key starters such as O’Donnell and junior Allen Na did not wrestle, while other starters like juniors Tony Chung and Taras Klymyuk battled injuries. Berlin, an almost-guaranteed winner who was undefeated with six wins in the regular season last year, was pinned wrestling at the 170-pound weight class. Captain George Liu, another consistent winner, was also pinned resulting in six points for the Engineers. From the get-go, Liu had a difficult time overcoming his opponent, who caught Liu by surprise with the tilt maneuver, driving him to the matt with a thud. However tough the loss was, it was also a wake-up call for the Spartans, who have an opportunity to reevaluate their gameplan by addressing their issues such as consistency and injuries. “Consistency is a big issue for us,” junior Abrar Ahmed said. Another glaring issue was the Spartans’ lack of strength against the Engineers, who possessed not only technique, but also toughness. Though the Spartans “focus a lot on stamina,” junior
Pavel Kondratyev said, the Spartans had to rely more and technique and strength against the Engineers, an issue since the preseason. Finally, some of the Spartans’ lack of commitment was unveiled. A roster of 45 players seemed depleted as lately more and more Spartans have missed practices and games. Since senior and former captain Jae Bum
“This year was pretty disorganized.” —Abrar Ahmed, junior Ahn quit the team, new questions surrounding the team’s leadership have emerged. “This year was pretty disorganized,” said Ahmed, summing up a 4-3 season in which the Spartans finished less than third in their division for the first time in the past four seasons.
The loss to the Engineers still unveiled some upside for the Spartans. Unexpected starters gained valuable experience, something they lacked, during and after their matches. “A lot of people that didn’t start, and even a few that started, wrestled in exhibition matches after the meet,” said Ahmed. For matches that do not mean anything, exhibition matches meant everything for the Spartans. Both starters and bench wrestlers alike accumulated valuable time on the mat, which can be key in future meets. “We needed the extra practice as preparation for the tournament season,” coach Michael Cigala said. The Spartans also displayed effort, which was prominent during their three-game win streak in which they destroyed Murry Bergtraum, Automotive High School, and Canarsie Educational Campus, which is ranked third in the division. “Most people knew we were going to lose, but still gave it their all anyway,” Ahmed said. “We showed good effort and I’m still proud of these guys. Right now we need to focus on the positives for the tourneys,” Cigala said.
The Spectator ● February 5, 2014
Sports Girls’ Basketball
After Appearing Unstoppable, Phoenix are Finally Stopped
Ella McAndrews / The Spectator
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Senior Wei Dan Yang protects the ball from her defender.
Making all the Shots By Samuel Fuchs The Phoenix earned yet another victory on Monday as they took down the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex Titans in one of their best performances this year. This matchup exemplified exceptional performance for the Phoenix as they had a great game in terms of scoring both defensively and on rebounds. Though the Titans were the first to score, momentum quickly shifted as Stuyvesant got a strong lead early in the first quarter. After the Titans put up their first two points, senior and captain Marie Frolich responded with a shot from the paint. The rest of that quarter, and the game, was Phoenix dominance. It was a great show of shooting as they made their first
five shots. After the score reached 11-6 Stuyvesant, the Titans did not score again in that quarter. Leading 21-6 heading into the second quarter, the Phoenix displayed an ability to score well even when their starters were not in the game. As substitutes were put in, Stuyvesant scored another 12 points to close out the half with a score of 33-13. “We hit some jump shots early which allowed us to open the gap in the first and second quarters,” coach Vincent Miller said. “We moved the ball well and made some good cuts to the basket which led to some easy points.” Frolich had a similar outlook on the game. “I think that we can always improve on ball movement and filling in our spots on offense, and of course, playing tight defense,” Frolich said. “But on both ends I think we accomplished that well on Monday.” The rest of the game was composed of consistent scoring for the Phoenix as well as a defense that did its job with some struggles. “On defense we left the middle of the paint open too many times,” Miller said. The Titans were able to pass or drive into the paint on several occasions. What saved Stuyvesant was the Titans’ inability to shoot well. Gershon had an outstanding game on defense seeing as she had 17 rebounds, 12 of which were defensive, against one of the biggest teams in the league. The final score of the match was 63-29, with Stuyvesant on top. Twenty-two of those points came from Gershon, who also had seven assists. Though Gershon had a fantastic game, junior and point guard Lauren Sobota scored 13 points but struggled in the passing game. Missed passes and miscommunications created a lot of turnovers throughout the game. Gershon and Sobota both had plays in which they took bad shots when passing was a better option. “Sometimes we get into the habit of taking the first shot down the
court,” Miller said. “What I tell the team is to try pass the ball a second, third, fourth, and maybe fifth time to find the best open shot available. When we pass and move the ball consistently, we are that much of a better team.” Preventing turnovers must be a top priority for the Phoenix considering that the Titans could not capitalize on the turnovers the way that better teams, such as Lab Museum United, will. However, Miller believes that the team has been playing with more intensity as of late. “We have been more aggressive and physical on the court,” Miller said. “We are boxing out more, attempting to take a charge on defense, and we are being more aggressive with loose balls. If we continue with that intensity we should be able to continue to do well down the stretch.” Phoenix Fizzle Out against Lady Gators By Anthony Cheang For both teams, the game between the Phoenix and the Lab Museum United Lady Gators had critical value in deciding the pecking order of the division. Both teams headed into the game undefeated, and the winner would have the momentum going into the final stretch of the season. Watching the warm-ups before the game, the game didn’t seem like it would be close. While Stuyvesant shot around with lackluster energy, The Lady Gators were a well-oiled machine, with a cohesive unit of players that could do it all, even extending their range beyond the three point line. The game on Thursday, January 16, was a frantic boxing match with the Lady Gators trying to deliver a knockout punch, while the Phoenix hung on for dear life. In the first quarter, the Phoenix could not get in rhythm, looking slow and sluggish. Used to playing against less prepared teams in the division, the Phoenix
were startled when the Lady Gators showed a willingness to play tenacious defense and prevent the patented fast break run-outs the Phoenix are so accustomed to. The Lady Gators were equally surprised by the aggressiveness of the Stuyvesant team, as the Phoenix did what they do best: push the ball. However, they were not able to convert on the easy chances, only managing a measly four points in the quarter as a team. “Coming into this, we knew it was going to be a tough game,” coach Vincent Miller said. The second quarter belonged to the Lady Gators, as their shooters started to find their touch, with juniors Elma Kolenovic and Julia Winnik combining to score 12 of their 18 points in the quarter. On the other hand, the Phoenix’s engine still sputtered, as they only managed to score eight points against the stifling zone defense of the Lady Gators. Junior point guard Lauren Sobota had her worst game of the season due to the opposing defense, only managing 10 points, four assists, and eight rebounds for the game. Going into halftime, the Lady Gators led 22-14. The third quarter, Stuyvesant managed to finally break the zone of the Lady Gators by attacking with junior Sophie Gershon, who scored eight of Stuyvesant’s 18 points in the period. By focusing their attacks on the inside, the Phoenix were able to stretch the floor and allow easy opportunities for their wing players. “I think we need to be more aggressive and try to get in [the paint] more,” Gershon said. Through most of the first half, Gershon was reluctant to take shots close to the basket, but in the third, her outlook changed as she was aggressive on the offensive end. Through her efforts, the Phoenix managed to cut the deficit to just three, making it a 35-32 game going into the fourth. The fourth quarter was in all likelihood the most hectic quarter
of the season for both teams. The Lady Gators started off the fourth with a furious run, extending their lead to 49-42 with two minutes remaining. At this point, all the Lady Gators needed to do was protect the ball and play defense, and with a 30 second shot clock, the Phoenix would have little chance of coming back. The game was effectively over. However, the Lady Gators didn’t use the time to their advantage, letting shots fly with over 20 seconds left on the shot clock, and gave Stuyvesant a chance to fight back into the game. From two minutes on, the Phoenix let loose a herculean effort, led by junior Marie Frolich, who had eight of her 16 points in the quarter. Ultimately, the entire game came down to one play, when Kolenovic scored a crucial bucket for the Lady Gators in the final minute, extending the lead to three. The Phoenix came back with a score two possessions later, but it wasn’t enough. Ultimately, the Lady Gators barely managed to hold on by a single point, leaving the score at 51-50. Undoubtedly, this was a crushing defeat for the Phoenix, who were underdogs to win. However, in that last two minute stretch, the Phoenix played their best basketball of the season, only allowing the Lady Gators to score two points, while managing 12 of their own. “Even though we didn’t come out on top, we are not going to let it keep us down. We’re still going to maintain our confidence,” Sobota said. If the Phoenix had maintained that two minute spurt of basketball at the very end for the entire game, they would have won. The only punch in the gut was how close they came to a comeback. “I think that we came in to the game of course wanting to win, but also wanting to play well and compete against a great opponent. So even though we lost, I think at the end we gained our spunk back and we’ll carry that into our upcoming games,” senior Marie Frolich said.
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Despite the loss, there were many positive aspects to the team’s play. “I thought we played well defensively. Their two scorers we focused on in yesterday’s practice today only had 29 points combined, which I’ll take in a heartbeat,” senior Nick Kalantzopoulos said. Though the Huskies’ third highest scorer had 14 points, the rest of the team scored a mere 10 points combined, a clear accomplishment for the Peglegs’ defense, who were playing without Krasucki, their starting center. However, the Peglegs’ offense stagnated during the game. “Usually, we’re up and down, run and gun, and this is the only team so far that forced us to not get away with our offense without having it perfect,” Kalantzopoulos said. “The Huskies have been the most fundamentally sound team we’ve played all season.” Unless they can improve their record to at least 8-8 by the end of the season, the Peglegs are currently at risk of not qualifying for the playoffs. They realize this and have attributed their source of error to concentration. As senior and captain Imtiaz Hassan said, “We have to fix our mentality. We aren’t focused.” As they stand right now, the Peglegs face a rocky road ahead if they want to sneak into the playoffs. Three of their final five opponents have winning records, and the Peglegs will need to win at least three games for a chance to compete in the playoffs. The team will need to strengthen their focus during future games, and with Krasucki out for the rest of the
season with a torn ACL, the Peglegs will be forced to play bigger in order to ensure a coveted seat in the playoffs. Clutch Victory Leads to Favorable Playoff Chances By Timothy Diep and Ari Hatzimemos In every up-and-down year, for any team, there comes a time when the season hangs on the balance of a single game. It is a time when, even though a loss may not lead to mathematical elimination, the players would begin to hope for miracles and divine intervention. For the Peglegs, that moment passed. Out of their final four games, the 6-6 Peglegs had to win two of them to make the playoffs. But with three out of those four games against the three best teams in the division, all of which beat the Peglegs earlier in the season, the Peglegs’ playoff chances seemed grim. On Thursday, January 30, the Peglegs faced the number one team in the division, the Bayard Rustin Titans, who obliterated the Peglegs in their 79-51 season opener. But with their physical prowess, smart play, and skill, the Peglegs managed to return the favor by destroying the Titans 69-51. The Peglegs’ ability allowed them to break Bayard’s press defense and shoot a high percentage, leading them to victory. On the first play of the game, it seemed that the result wouldn’t be much different from their first encounter. Bayard senior and leading scorer Dontae Putmon drove right down the middle and finished a layup. Just seconds later, the Titans led with their infamous
full-court press defense, causing the rattled Peglegs to foolishly turn the ball over. But once the Peglegs settled down, they took control of the game. Highlighted by an incredibly difficult fadeaway corner three-pointer from senior and co-captain Matt Dalton, the Peglegs’ stellar shooting in their next possessions set the tone for the rest of the game. “We were breaking their press defense and started hitting our jumpers,” Dalton said. The change in attitude from the Peglegs’ season opener included smarter decision-making and more physicality, highlighted when senior Noah Kramer pumpfaked, forcing the defender to mistime his jump, and went up strong to finish a layup off the backboard while getting fouled. “Our first game against them our players were still new and inexperienced,” senior and co-captain Imtiaz Hassan said. “Now, we had a different mindset from the start knowing we needed a few more wins to make it to the playoffs.” By the end of the first quarter, the Peglegs had a comfortable 21-10 lead, and by halftime, they were in cruising along with a score of 41-19. The Rebels’ offense was the deciding factor in the game. They scored 18 more points in this game than in the first game of the season—a huge improvement. Oddly enough, inexperience had no factor in this game, as the veteran seniors stole the spotlight. Hassan, the team’s leading scorer, hit four three-pointers en route to 25 points, along with eight rebounds, while Dalton dropped 18 points of his own, including eight of the team’s first 10. Senior Nick
Katherine Fennell / The Spectator
Peglegs Push Towards Postseason
Seniors Matthew Dalton and Imtiaz Hssan, and juniors Noah Brook and Henry Luo communicate on defense.
Kalantzopulos was also in double digits as well, with 10 points along with his four assists, and finished a highly contested reverse layup over his shoulder in mid-air to put the icing on the cake for the Peglegs in the fourth quarter. With 17 total assists, the Peglegs were able to swing the ball from side to side nicely and create open looks for their shooters. In the second half, the Peglegs continued to penetrate Bayard’s press defense and keep up their pinpoint shooting, despite losing the rebounding battle by a large margin. Unaccustomed to being manhandled, the Titans began to lose their cool and were called for three technical fouls, all for cursing. At this point, the Peglegs knew they had the game in the bag. The game was a huge victory for the Peglegs, as they now only need one more win to make
the playoffs, which will probably come in their last game of the season against the 0-13 Economics and Finance Panthers. But they aren’t content with barely making the playoffs and look to take the next game too. “It definitely builds our confidence going into our next game against Seward, who play very similarly to Bayard,” Dalton said. “It’s a big confidence builder, but I hope we don’t get too loose and easy thinking now that we beat the best,” said Hassan. With a successful formula of the ability to create open shots, along with hot shooting, the Peglegs flashed the offensive potential that could carry them not only into the playoffs, but also into the deeper rounds as well. Coach Philip Fisher told his team after the statement victory, “You don’t realize just how good you can be.”
February 5, 2014
The Spectator SpoRts Sports Wrap-Up
Sabrina Huang / The Spectator
Junior Jason Wong and Sophomore Beck Zhu swim the 100 yard breaststroke.
By Grace Lu They’re back on top—for now at least. The Pirates accumulated a sufficient number of power points at the Hunter meet on Tuesday, January 7 to clinch the coveted first seed of playoffs. With the seed comes with the expectation of winning the finals. However, these seeds are not always accurate: last year, the Pirates were ranked first but were defeated by Brooklyn Tech. With the final regular season meet against James Monroe completed, the Pirates look to hold onto this season’s undefeated record. Spirits were high at the Monroe meet on January 24. With the first seed in the back of their minds, the Pirates were cheering louder than ever. The James Monroe team consisted of seven people, two of whom were girls. The Pirates clinched first and second in every event, some by more than 60 seconds. Despite the easy pickings, “we still had to just put in our best,” freshman and athlete-of-the-month Lawrence Kwong said. Coach Peter Bologna agreed. “Coming into this meet, one of the things we wanted to do was
to continue qualifying for Opens and get a little diversity for the lineup at Opens,” he said. Diversity is key at Opens, an important competition for all qualifiers in the city, because there will be four swimmers per event for every team, rather than the usual two. Fortunately, “I would say more than half of the kids I put in qualified for Opens in new events they haven’t swam yet this year,” Coach Bologna said. Of these swimmers, “Lawrence [Kwong] was one of the best surprises of the year,” sophomore Aaron Glas said. Kwong, who had never swum the 100yard breaststroke before, swam a 1:08.43, the fourth fastest time on the team for this event. He also swam his 50-yard breaststroke in 29.81 seconds, also one of the fastest times on the team. “The team has pushed me so hard and I really appreciate it,” Kwong said. “Their support has made me feel confident about myself. I push myself a lot harder now.” Looking forward, Opens will take place on the weekend of February 8 and 9. None of the Pirates expected to be ranked ahead of Brooklyn Tech this
year, since “[Tech senior] George Tilneac is the best swimmer in the PSAL right now. They got a really fast freshman, as well as other returning swimmers in a lot of different disciplines,” Bologna said. That being said, having the most power points among the three powerhouse schools has only not only boosted the Pirates’ confidence but has also made their path to Finals easier. As the first seed, the team will only have to defeat the fourth seed, Bronx Science, to advance; Tech and Francis Lewis will have to race each other to determine the other finalist. Despite not having any National level swimmers, the Pirates agree that their strength is in their depth. “We have a lot of kids that are very good—not exceptional or elite, but very good. We do have a few elite swimmers, but we’re very [well-rounded] in terms of our lineup,” Bologna said. However, there are those elite that he expects to deliver during playoffs, including senior and co-captain Brandon Koo and sophomores Glas and Peter Strbik. Rather than feeling pressure, these swimmers feel more motivated to swim fast. “It is an honor having [Coach Bologna] recognize me as one of the top swimmers that he expects to perform at a high level,” Strbik said. Strbik is aiming to qualify for States in the 100-yard breaststroke. He currently holds a 1:02.90 in this event, making him the fifth fastest breaststroker in the league. The Pirates received a bye for the first round of playoffs and defeated Fort Hamilton on January 31, 2014, putting the team in the semi-finals. The team, however, is now focusing its attention on Opens and Finals, and spirits are building up. “It’s going to be a tough run,” Strbik said. “But we can do it. LET’S GO PIRATES!”
After Appearing Unstoppable, Phoenix are Finally Stopped
Phoenix Enlighten Beacon By Omar Siddique
Having not lost a single game in the first month and a half of the season, the Phoenix had high expectations facing off against the Beacon Lady Demons on Friday, January 10—expectations that were not only fulfilled, but exceeded. The Phoenix governed the game, finishing with double the total points of Beacon and then some. The first quarter was like any other of this season: the Phoenix controlling the game 10-1, not allowing a single field goal for the Lady Demons, most likely due to the defensive prowess and intimidation factor of junior center Sophia Gershon, who blocked numerous shots. Not long after, halftime came around with the Phoenix continuing to command every aspect of the game, taking a 27-8 lead. They did everything: forcing turnovers, grabbing rebounds, and converting it all into points. On the other hand, The Lady Demons were wholly disorganized, scrambling to advance the ball past the half-court line, let alone
to the basket, which led to many turnovers and points for the Phoenix. Junior point-guard Lauren Sobota, who averaged a near double-double last season, was three assists shy of her fifth double-double of this season in points and assists. Gershon was a force to be reckoned with in the paint, scoring 25 points and relentlessly crashing the boards for 24 rebounds. However, the skill and talent level of the Phoenix aren’t the only things that made this game such a success. “We played a very good game,” coach Vincent Miller said. “We were very aggressive, which I like to see.” They haven’t always been the most physical team and to see the team change that was a good sign. Miller has been training the girls to be more aggressive, drilling them on taking charges, stealing the ball, and grabbing rebounds. In fact, everyone on the team who played in the game recorded at least one offensive rebound. Nonetheless, the team still has to work on certain aspects of physical play. “We need to do
more boxing out,” sophomore Kate Boyle said. Gershon and Miller agreed, mentioning that securing the ball on rebounds is a priority. Along with a lack of physicality, the Phoenix have struggled continuously this season with bad decisions such as poor shot selection or poor passing. “We still need to work on not taking the first shot we get and choosing our shots better and passing around until we get that shot,” Gershon said. “We turned the ball over a little too much in transition,” Miller said. “During transition play and fast-breaks we need to make better passes and accept the passes better too.” Despite the necessary improvements that the team will aim for in physicality and decision-making, after a seventh consecutive victory, in which the Phoenix led 40-10 at one point, their chances of finishing the season with a division title are promising.
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Senior Philip Shin won the Winate Award for best scholar athlete in fencing.
After claiming the #1 seed in the playoffs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ swimming team, the PIRATES, won their first postseason meet in dominating fashion over Fort Hamilton, placing first and second in every single event. Senior Brandon Koo swam the 100-yard freestyle in 49.28 seconds – the fastest time in the PSAL this season for that distance. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of sophomore Peter Strbik, juniors Andrew Guo and Victor Gaitor, and Koo, swam the race in just over 3 minutes and 31 seconds, good for the third fastest time in the city this year.
The REBELS, Stuyvesant’s boys’ basketball team, are starting to find their groove, having won four of their last five games, all but one of which was against a winning team. Senior and co-captain Imtiaz Hssan averaged 18 points per game during this most recent stretch, which has put the team within one win of clinching a playoff berth.
Despite picking up their first loss of the season at Lab Museum United, the PHOENIX, Stuyvesant’s girls’ basketball team, won their following three games against weaker opponents to advance to 11-1 and remain at the top of the division standings. Against Economics and Finance the day following the team’s defeat, junior Lauren Sobota helped the team bounce back by recorded a near tripledouble of 16 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds.
Stuyvesant’s girls’ gymnastics team, the FELINES, qualified for the city team championships on Thursday, February 6, by winning five of their eight meets.
Peglegs Push Towards Postseason A New Start By Louis Susser
every win gets them one game closer to the postseason.
In any high school division, there is at least one team that is, (based on win-loss percentage and statistics) completely outclassed by the rest of their divisional peers. On Wednesday, January 14, the Stuyvesant Peglegs faced off against the Julia Richman Educational Complex Panthers—one of these very teams with a 2-7 record. It was apparent through both the course of the game and the outcome that the Peglegs had treated this game more like a practice, ultimately resulting in a 54-26 victory. The team saw excellent play from senior and captain Imtiaz Hassan, who generally averages nearly 15 points per game, and junior Arlex Gole, who, with 11 points, had the team’s second highest point total. Many bench players got playing time, which evoked a reaction out of both the crowd, and the starters. “It was truly a team effort. What I loved most about today’s game was the reaction seen from the bench when the non-starters scored,” coach Philip Fisher said. “That was the high point for me.” Fisher, however, pointed out certain things that would not have worked if they had been playing a more competitive team. “The team we played today is learning, and there were things we did today that we wouldn’t have gotten away with had we played a better team,” Fisher said. For example, the Peglegs are still working on stopping the ball on the defensive side and capitalizing on fast breaks. This is a new start for the Peglegs as this game, their second win in a row after a threegame drought, can improve their hopes for making it to playoffs. This late-season momentum can be beneficial; each player understands the importance of each and every win. The road ahead may not be as easygoing as this game against the Panthers, but
Peglegs Can’t Run on Huskies By Eric Morgenstern Let’s face it: big guys have a tremendous advantage in the game of basketball. The Peglegs only have one true big man, 6’6’’ junior Konrad Krasucki. As soon as he hit the deck 14 seconds into the game, the team became worried. This was an extremely unfortunate game for Krasucki to injure his leg, because his height was essential against the towering 6’8’’ Eleanor Roosevelt Huskies’ center. Unfortunately for the Peglegs, Krasucki’s injury removed him from the rest of the game, allowing the Huskies’ goliath, junior Kelly-Hami Drougge, to grab 16 rebounds and add 15 points, ultimately leading his team to a 53-46 victory over the weakened Stuyvesant team. Despite the loss, coach Philip Fisher said that, for a team lacking a real post presence, “they played a hell of a game.” The game was tied 8-8 at the end of the first quarter, and the Peglegs managed to fall behind by just three points at halftime. Though the Peglegs were sloppy at times, committing unforced turnovers, they were able to move the ball on offense. The third quarter, however, was a completely different story. Through a series of turnovers and poor decisions, the Peglegs found themselves down by 16 points. “We took a breather in the third quarter. We let them get ahead of us. Too many turnovers, and we weren’t generating offense,” senior and captain Matthew Dalton said. The team would end up cutting the deficit to four with 40 seconds left in the game, but at that point it was too late for a full comeback, and the Peglegs would lose by seven points. continued on page 23