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The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper

Volume CIV No. 8

January 14, 2014

Stuy Squad 2013 was defined by its most riveting performances—from a freestyle rap battle done by three hilarious hosts, to a standout dancer in KPOP, to the intensive and risky choreography of Belly. This was the result of daily afterschool practices on the first and second floors, printed flyers taped all over the school, and the talent within these people itself. It was promised that Stuy Squad 2013 would be “the best show yet.” When the lights finally dimmed, the show that followed was a captivating showcase from start to finish. Despite a few setbacks, we think this performance definitely delivered. The most memorable parts of the show were the routines and the dancers who showed a touch of artistic brilliance. Contemporary, as Stuy Squad’s show opener, created a dramatic atmosphere with a reenactment of the haunting Phantom of the Opera

play with the song “Requiem for a Dream.” With dancers clad in white dresses representing Christine, and those in black dresses representing the phantom Erik, Contemporary tried to illustrate their desperate love story through push and pull movements and a dramatic ending in which the dancers tumble gracefully to the floor. The only downside to this otherwise great performance was the slightly repetitive twirls and gentle arm waves that seemed to flood the dance. Later on as expected, Rave proved to be an eye-catching sight, showcasing a new move involving intricate partnership as the pairs twirled around red and green glowsticks over interlocked arms, creating a pattern of concentric circles. In the distance, Rave created an electrifying display with streaks of light that formed infinity loops, figure eights, and circling paths. In our front row seats, we could discern the black-clad figures standing in pairs, communicating silently

Yasmeen Roumie / The Spectator Computer science teacher Peter Brooks and his budding Zero Robotics team await the final round of the Zero Robotics HS Competition, to be held at MIT on Friday, January 17.

If you’ve taken physics, you’ve probably learned about the workings of outer space: motion, attraction, and forces in zero gravity. But chances are that your application of that knowledge doesn’t extend much further than theoretical homework problems or simple laboratory experiments. A small, budding team at Stuyvesant takes Regents Physics to another level by combining it with computer science. The Zero Robotics team takes on the challenge of programming robots to maneuver in the International Space Station (ISS), 370 kilometers above the earth. Computer science teacher Peter Brooks is the coach and adviser of this team, which calls itself Stuy-Naught. It has participated in the Zero Robotics High School Competition every year since Zero Robotics’s founding by MIT in 2009.

Features

Not to be confused with the FIRST Robotics teams at Stuyvesant, the Zero Robotics team, comprised of Brooks and a dozen students, uses the C programming language to program spherical eight-inch-diameter robots called SPHERES to complete a different challenge each year. This year’s scenario is apocalyptic: a comet is headed straight for the teams’ home bases, and they have to do their best to divert it, either by shooting at it with lasers or by using gravitational attraction to move the comet aside. “A certain amount of this is fake,” Brooks said. The comets and the lasers are simulated in computers. The SPHERES themselves, though, are real: “During the competition, the astronauts actually set up the robots and set them in motion, and our computer programs are running the robots, and they start to move,” Brooks said. One major obstacle that this introduces, which programmers of the theoretical world do not Article on page 8.

Remembering Ned Vizzini News Editor Lindsay Bu and Features Editor Teresa Chen commemorate Ned Vizzini’s impact on their lives.

usually contend with, is the unpredictability of reality. “Numbers don’t come out exactly the way they should,” said mentor Dan Lavin, who also guides the FRC Robotics team. The random variations in physical outcome, even when the underlying code is exactly the same, are built into the online simulator that students use to test their code. Despite being an underclassman, sophomore Calvin Lee is leader of Stuy-Naught. Lee learned Python and Java and “how to apply them and use them for very cool projects,” he said, by taking the Art of Problem Solving’s online programming courses and attending Google’s Computing and Programming Experience. “I come up with the work that needs to be done,” Lee said. “I describe the process of making the actual code and then the team [...] can contribute with optimizing these values in the code.” Having overcome three cuts and making it into the finals, as it has every year since its inception, the team is now debating strategies and optimizing its code. For example, as Brooks explained, the team has to program the SPHERES to brake in space through the use of carbon dioxide-spraying nozzles. Many similarly small, seemingly easy tasks gain complexity in space and require ingenuity to perform efficiently. “In this competition, we have to get to a particular point in space and we have to rotate around it,” said Brooks. “It’s a non-trivial thing to do. We have certain tools, but [none] that say, ‘Please rotate around that.’” Out of 108 teams from around the country, only nine have made it to the finals. continued on page 4

Ashley Lin / The Spectator

By Teresa Chen and Jenny Jiang

Robots in Zero G: Stuy-Naught Makes Finals

By Philipp Steinmann and Johnathan Rafailov

stuyspec.com

Stuy Squad 2013: A Stunning Showcase

Newsbeat • NYC public schools were closed on Friday, January 3, as a result of a snowstorm. Up to 10.5 inches of snow accumulated in parts of New York City. • Freezing temperatures on Monday, January 6, caused elevators and water pipes to break down, flooding several classrooms and hallways. • The Stuyvesant Chess Team’s 10th and 12th grade divisions each placed first at the National K-12 Chess Championship in Florida. • Before Winter Recess, social studies teacher Robert Sandler invited to his Jewish History class author Peter Duffy, who wrote “The Bielski Brothers,” and Stuyvesant parent Sally Frishberg, known as the “Polish Anne Frank.”

“The Pulse of the Student Body”

Step was one of many commendable and creative performances that easily made this year’s Stuy Squad showcase “the best show yet.”

as they juggled the colored glow sticks in perfect synchronization, creating a unique form of partner dancing as the pairs stood with their arms outstretched, facing each other. Our favorite part? When two Ravers ran down the stage, spinning bright orange

glow sticks to create a ripple effect, and generating a resounding “woah!” from the audience.

continued on page 18

A Brilliant Farce By Ben Vanden Heuvel During its London premiere a few centuries ago, “Twelfth Night” must have had its Elizabethan audience members dying with laughter—at least when they weren’t trying to figure out what was happening. Today, in Broadway’s Belasco Theater, “Twelfth Night” is commanding one of the largest crowds ever attracted to a NYC Shakespeare production, inciting the same mixture of laughter, confusion, and then even more hysterical laughter as at its premiere in the seventeenth century. The play is one of Shakespeare’s most ingenious, humorous, and ridiculous inventions. A showcase of his wit, the brilliant farce is a truly magical experience if performed well, and this production by the English company Shakespeare’s Globe has a whole lot of magic. If you don’t read “Twelfth Night” before you see the production, it may be difficult to catch what’s going on in Shakespeare’s quick-witted dialogue. The crux of the story hinges on Viola and Sebastian, siblings of very similar appearance. The sister, masquerading as a boy, appears to be her brother’s identical twin, and a comedic series of misplaced affections occurs when the two characters’ identities begin to overlap. Only at the end does Shakespeare straighten out all the misunderstandings, with every character pairing off in an equally comedic happy ending. Starring as Lady Olivia is the critically acclaimed Mark Rylance, the most flamboyant lead member of an all-male, largely cross-dressing cast. The centerpiece of a complex string of Article on page 9.

confusion and misunderstandings that you might not grasp until some time after the show, Rylance’s performance is wonderfully overblown, bold, and sufficiently obnoxious. It’s captivating, perfectly suited, and totally hilarious, and it’s hard to forget his stiff strut as he shuffles across the stage complaining in a high-pitched falsetto. The cast surrounding Rylance also helps to deliver the complicated and fast-paced play with aplomb. Among the standouts are Stephen Fry as the unfortunate and bumbling Malvolio and Samuel Barnett as Viola. The latter faces the near-impossible task of being a man playing the part of a woman who is pretending to be a man. Somehow, though, he pulls it off brilliantly, achieving the right balance of humor and uncomfortableness. His performance is as convincing as a double gender switch could possibly be. The cast’s greatest strength is that they never detract from the original elegance of Shakespeare’s language, never overstepping their role as actors. They deliver their lines with clarity and simplicity, rarely overemphasizing, and at a relatively slow pace, which allows the audience to appreciate each clever line. Though “Twelfth Night” is classified as a dark comedy, this particular adaptation definitely leans more towards the comedy end, making use of over-the-top props—including a giant hatchet brandished by an innocent countess, copious amounts of beer, and an almost excessive focus on the bawdy humor. continued on page 19

Features Stuyvesant’s INTEL-igent Eleven

A brief, layman’s overview of the projects of Stuyvesant’s 11 Intel STS semifinalists.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

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News New Software Piloted in Drafting Curriculum Imagine working on a drafting project at 2 a.m., completing the finishing touches on your design. You downloaded CADKEY, the software used to create computerized technical drawings, from a shady website, as you weren’t able to download it anywhere else. You had worked all weekend on this project when CADKEY crashes and leaves you staring at your desktop screen. You groan, thinking, “Not again,” as you opened up the program to restart the project. This unreliability and ensuing frustration was just one of many problems that students taking Technical Drawing, commonly known as drafting, faced while using CADKEY, a program nearing its 30th anniversary. Senior Tony Fitzgerald recalled his frustration with the lack of an undo key. “[CADKEY] was pretty terrible,” he said. “There was no undo feature so if you messed up, you just had to have a bunch of [saved files and] it would often crash for no reason, so if you hadn’t saved it, you would lose everything.” In an effort to modernize Stuyvesant’s drafting program and avoid such issues in the curriculum, technology teacher Arthur Griffith launched a pilot program this year with AutoCAD, the oft-preferred computer drawing tool used in the industrial world. CADKEY was first released in 1984 by Micro Control Systems, and was one of the first programs that allowed designers to work on their technical drawings without physical tools. As a result, it quickly rose in popularity, even winning the Editor’s Choice Award in P.C. Magazine multiple times for “rising above similar products.” Despite its early success, CADKEY was repeatedly sold to companies that would then go out of business, hindering its ability to adapt to modernizing advances. The Autodesk software com-

Hayoung Ahn / The Spectator

By Rebecca Chang and Felix Phillips

Drafting teacher Arthur Griffith demonstrates the application of computer-aided design programs in technical drawing, comparing the usage of AutoCAD (left) and CADKEY (right).

pany released the first version of its product, AutoCAD, in 1982. Autodesk proceeded to release a new version of AutoCAD each year for the following three decades. As a result, Autodesk was able to add new functions and fix bugs consistently, and became the preferred choice for computerized drafting. “With CADKEY, to construct a rectangular prism, you have to set up the base and you have to draw it out,” technology teacher Arthur Griffith said. “With AutoCAD, the prism is already there. All you have to do now is tell the computer what size you want to make it and it’ll draw it out.” The problems with CADKEY were first addressed by Principal Jie Zhang in the Fall 2012 semester. “When I first got here, I always heard conversations [and] discussions about how our drafting class was a little bit behind. We were using CADKEY and we needed to upgrade our course,” Zhang said. Throughout the 2012-2013 school year, Zhang, Assistant Principal of Technology Edward Wong, and the drafting teachers routinely met to discuss a solution. They

After Delay, Pool to Finally Reopen By Sonia Epstein and Jamie Wu Stuyvesant’s swimming pool, under construction since the summer of 2012, is expected to reopen by late January 2014. The renovations were funded by a grant from the School Construction Authority (SCA), a New York City organization responsible for the design, construction, and renovation of public school buildings, and were projected to be completed by November 2013. The initial renovation looked to eliminate leakage in the pool deck, which allowed water to get underneath the floor and corrode the pipes. Additional technical issues with the new tiles arose when the pool was first tested earlier in August. “The first time the pool was filled with water, there were some bubbles. So they actually took some tiles out to the lab for some testing,” Principal Jie Zhang said. “I am made aware now that they were tested, problems were identified, and they were put back in.” In an e-mail sent to Zhang, the contractors stated that the pool would be completed by Wednesday, January 15. Though it has yet to be finalized, Zhang hopes that the pool will be open for the start of the spring semester. Due to the unavailability of the pool, swimming classes, including the required introductory course for students who fail the swimming test or choose to take a swimming class for physical education credit, were suspended throughout the 2012-2013 school year. In past years, freshmen have had to physically demonstrate their swimming abilities to pass the swimming test during freshman orientation. Because the pool facilities were unavailable, the Health and Physical Education Department conducted a

phone survey at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. Freshmen were asked if they were able to swim at all, if they could put their faces in the water and blow bubbles, and if they were confident in their ability to swim in water 12 feet deep. According to the survey, 250 freshmen will be enrolled in Swim Gym next term. However, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the survey. “I think the phone call was somewhat effective but it’s possible for students to answer dishonestly either because they want to take Swim Gym or they don’t,” freshman Katherine Fennel said. Time constraints, unfortunately, do not allow for a reexamination. “Because we do not have the luxury of testing everybody [before the spring semester], we have to use whatever feedback we get from the students,” Zhang said. Currently, the non-swimming freshmen have priority, and no advanced swimming classes will be offered for the other grades until they have been caught up. However, Zhang has talked to Assistant Principal of Health and Physical Education Lawrence Barth about possibly opening the pool afterschool for noncredit swimming classes. Zhang has offered to pay teachers overtime to oversee the students. The plans are premature, though, since schedules have to be worked out with the Stuyvesant swimming team, which currently practices at Seward Park High School, and the Battery Park City Authority, which runs a community center in the building from 7 to 9:45 p.m. on weekdays. “Ultimately, we want to have eight swimming classes—five freshmen classes and one class each for the sophomores, juniors, and seniors, just as there were before the pool closed,” Barth said.

came to the conclusion that it was imperative to update the software to better reflect that used by engineers and designers today. “It is basically putting us back onto the industry standard and market,” Griffith said. “[AutoCAD] is in use today. It is in use in everything from traditional drafting, to design, and even the movie industry [...] CADKEY isn’t. It’s just simply drafting.” However, there was one main deterrent—the cost. The price of one AutoCAD program ranges from $4,000 to $5,000, and the school needed 125 copies and licenses. In addition, the computers currently running CADKEY would have to be upgraded to accommodate the new software. “We have an idea that is going to develop into something great, but money as always is in the details,” Griffith said. Ultimately, the cost was not a major issue since the purchase was made possible by a combination of extra funds from the Department of Education and a recent $60,000 grant from the Baylin Charitable Trust, led by Stuyvesant alumnus Gerald Baylin (‘44). Wong also found it possible to purchase

a special license that only cost approximately $10,000 due to a bulk educational discount. The license would allow the AutoCAD program to be installed on 125 computers, which was much cheaper than separately purchasing 125 copies. Once the software was purchased and installed during the spring and summer, all of the drafting teachers attended professional development to learn how to use the new program in July and September. However, as a pilot program, Griffith is teaching AutoCAD for the first semester. “All of the glitches and glamour [are] all going to fall on me,” he said. “Snags are going to be inevitable right now, but eventually when we work all of that stuff out, it’s going to become a very well-oiled and well-functioned piece of software.” “Mr. Griffith warned us the program might crash on us,” junior Oliver Zhang said, “but it hasn’t crashed on us a single time this week.” Though junior Lauren Sobota agreed that the program was stable, she stated that the multitude of functions available in AutoCAD could be overwhelming at

times. “It’s just that there are so many functions in it and so many different things to do,” she said. Possible disadvantages may arise with the implementation of AutoCAD into the drafting curriculum, since it is a completely different program from CADKEY with its improved functions. “It can be intimidating to learn because it’s something different and it’s more flexible,” Griffith said. “From the standpoint of a teacher now, I have to choose which method will be best suited to teach the students so they can learn a certain aspect of AutoCAD which will be easier for them and they get the same quality education and understanding of the software.” Despite any initial problems that Griffith expects to have with the program, he is confident that students will benefit from the program in the long run. “When [students] leave this school, they will be able to now go out in the industry and they will see AutoCAD,” Griffith said. “They may see [AutoCAD] 2016 [or] 2017, but the point is that they’re going to be familiar with the functionality of that program.”

Professor Blecker Visits Stuyvesant By Julia Ingram

The hotly debated issue of capital punishment was brought to Stuyvesant on Monday, December 16, when scholar and author Robert Blecker delivered a presentation on his experiences and research involving the death penalty. Blecker is a New York Law School Professor and retributivist scholar. “We retributivists see punishment differently. We don’t punish to prevent crime or remake criminals. We inflict pain—suffering, discomfort—to the degree they deserve to feel it,” he wrote in his bestselling book “The Death of Punishment.” Blecker believes that the U.S. criminal justice system does not provide punishment proportional to different levels of crimes and strongly supports the death penalty. He has been featured by The New York Times, by the Washington Post, as a cover story in USA Today, and on ABC Nightline. He has also spoken on PBS, CNN, BBC World News, and most recently at Stuyvesant. Blecker was asked to speak at Stuyvesant by senior Jack Cahn, who was intrigued by Blecker’s book and overall philosophy re-

garding the death penalty. The lecture was open to any interested member of the Stuyvesant community, as well as to the general public. During the lecture, Blecker gave a brief background of his life as it pertains to his beliefs and shared various passages of his book. The book discusses Blecker’s affirmation that criminals who have repeatedly committed crimes, such as murder and rape, deserve to be punished (specifically through capital punishment) more severely than criminals who have only committed murder once. He also expressed disappointment with the American imprisonment system, which offers citizens so many provisions that it fails in successfully punishing wrongdoers. At the end of the lecture, Blecker held a book signing. Students were thoroughly impressed by Blecker’s presentation and expertise. “You could really feel Professor Blecker’s passion and knowledge of the subject during the question and answer section. He really addressed each question from all sides, and you could tell everyone in the room was pretty astonished at the thoroughness of the answers,” se-

nior Sweyn Venderbush said. However, some students disagreed with Blecker’s views. “He had some very interesting points, but in a lot of ways, he contradicts himself to me. I just didn’t morally agree with a lot of what he was saying,” sophomore Talia Coyne said. Coyne purchased Blecker’s book and found it to be an interesting read, but continued to find contradictory arguments in his thesis. “In his book, he gives several examples of people who have been in jail for several years—maybe even decades—and have grown up and realized why their crimes are bad, and are trying to help the younger generation not commit those crimes. So to me, it doesn’t make any logical sense to kill these people before they can go out and help,” she said. Other students looked beyond these seeming contradictions. “[Blecker] was very candid in saying that his position was based solely on moral qualms with any other system. While it’s maybe not the most rationally relatable position, it’s understandable in my eyes,” Venderbush said.

Middle School Teachers Visit Stuyvesant By In Hae Yap The transition into high school is often tough for Stuyvesant freshmen, particularly with changes in academic expectations and curricula. With this in mind, the entire middle school staff from Achievement First Brownsville Middle School, a network of NYC charter schools, visited Stuyvesant on Monday, December 9. Teachers visited from 8:30 a.m. to noon on a Professional Development Day on which Achievement First students were off from school. The visit was arranged by guidance counselor Audra Parris, whose daughter attends Achievement First. The school’s principal, Keith Brooks, knew that Parris works at Stuyvesant and expressed concerns about giving his students the best education possible. “They wanted to come to see the academic expectations of the teachers

at Stuyvesant, so they’ll know not only how to prep the kids for the exam, but what the curriculum will be like and what they should teach in the classroom, so that if the kids transfer over to Stuyvesant, it won’t be a bad transition,” Parris said. Achievement First teachers arrived around 8:30 a.m. and listened to a presentation in the auditorium, in which several school representatives explained why Stuyvesant would be a good choice. These representatives included parent coordinator Harvey Blumm and one spokesperson for each academic department. Members of the Student Union, the senior class, and organizations like ARISTA and the Black Student League represented the student body. Guidance intern Natasha Kisana, who helped execute the Achievement First visit, said, “The teachers were very impressed by the senior panel, and had a lot of questions for

the students.” Questions asked by Achievement First teachers ranged from queries about the variety of electives to the number of hours students spent studying a night. After the presentation, the teachers observed two classrooms on all ten floors, in groups led by various members of the Student Union. Junior and Student Union Vice President Keiran Carpen, who led one of these groups, said, “The tour went well. The teachers seemed really interested and willing to learn, indicated by the plethora of questions asked. I even saw [Principal Brooks] taking notes in several classrooms.” “Overall, it went very well, and very smoothly,” Parris said. Achievement First hopes to arrange another visit not only for its staff, but also its students to give them a taste of Stuyvesant student life.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

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Features The Real Big and Little Sibs of Stuyvesant By Katrina Wong and Rabia Akhtar What’s better than being with someone whom you can share your problems with, especially in a school filled with thousands of unfamiliar faces? Your siblings shape who you are as much as, if not more than, your parents shape you. Their habits, advice, and support will leave a lasting imprint on your character. It is a relationship that many Big Sibs try to emulate with their Little Sibs, but having your actual sibling at Stuyvesant brings an intimacy that can’t be recreated. continued on page 4

Danielle Eisenman\The Spectator

You might have heard of senior Sweyn Venderbush before. Big Sibs, Speech and Debate, Student Union, you name it—Sweyn is probably involved. The new freshman class brought in Sweyn’s younger brother, freshman Winston Venderbush, who has already established himself as a presence in Stuyvesant by producing West Side Story and The Crucible and as a member of acapella. Having such an outgoing brother at school can be a little burdensome, but, according to Winston, “We function the same way. We do our work differently and we get things done differently, but we have the same mindset,” he said. When it came time for Winston to apply to high school, one school came to mind: Stuyvesant. Winston and Sweyn had been attending the same schools since elementary school, so Stuyvesant was an obvious choice. Attending the same schools is just one example of Sweyn’s influence on his brother. “I follow in his footsteps a lot,” Winston said. “I do a lot of things that Sweyn does. He started playing the violin, I started playing the violin. He went to St. Bernards, I went to St. Bernards.” Though Winston has taken his brother’s example, Winston does not feel like he has to be exactly like Sweyn. “I don’t feel pressured necessarily from him,” he said. “I always want to live up to what Sweyn does, [but] I’m an overachiever as well, and I like to have leadership roles because I like to have them, not just because he likes them.” One perk of having a sibling at Stuyvesant is knowing who to go to when programming rolls around. “Having me here for one year is really the perfect amount of time, because I can say you should try out this activity and this might be cool for you. I know my little brother better than anyone else,” Sweyn said. “Then I can leave, and […] he doesn’t have to deal with me for the rest of his high school life. I’m his actual Big Sib.”

Lise & Libby Ho Sixteen years of living together, attending the same school, and doing the same activities have fortified the relationship between junior Lise Ho and senior Libby Ho. Both are involved in ARISTA and the Speech and Debate team and enjoy volunteering. From there, however, they go their separate ways. Libby allots her time to science-oriented opportunities, such as doing research in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and participating in the Intel Science Talent Search, while Lise embodies the “athletic side” of the two by doing kung-fu and basketball. Lise is part of Stuyvesant’s basketball team and another basketball team outside of school. Attending Stuyvesant together has fostered the sisters’ appreciation of each others’ talents. Instead of being pressured and feeling overshadowed, they are each others’ brace in everything they do. “I find that especially in such a competitive environment like Stuy, it’s really nice to have a friend like Lise. I have great friends at Stuy, but she’s a special sort of friend, ’cause she’s my sister and [I have] lived with her my entire life—put up with her my entire life,” Libby said. Back in middle school, the two were inseparable. Though they are still together in the same building, Stuyvesant’s massive population gives them more personal space. They come to value the time they spend together more, which brings them closer. “It’s nice to have someone there who understands exactly what you’re going through and knows who exactly who you are and what you do, your bad habits, your flaws—everything,” Libby said. She mentioned how comforting it is to have Lise, because it is difficult to know somebody so well in such a huge school. Being only one year apart makes it much easier for the two to understand each other, and attending the same school adds to what they have in common. “But it’s more than just that. I think going to [...] Stuy is far better with someone you’ve already spent pretty much all your life with, because we support each other through thick and thin,” Libby said. The older they get, the more the sisters realize how lucky they are to have each other as they ride through life’s ups and downs. “Lise is one of those younger sisters that don’t come by very often. She’s always there to sacrifice something,” Libby said.

Danielle Eisenman\The Spectator

Sweyn & Winston Venderbush

William and Jonathan Aung

Imagine this year’s SING!, a battle between the grades and a battle between two brothers, senior William Aung and ophomore Jonathan Aung. Both are involved in the backstage crew. As SING! season approaches, Jonathan is considering being the director of Soph-Frosh, and William the director of the seniors. Because they share extracurriculars in school, the two are able to spend most of their day together. Jonathan mentioned that he can now relate to his brother when it comes to teachers and classes. “Whenever my sister came back from college before I went to Stuy, they would have this secret language where they talked about teachers, and I could never relate. Now I actually know what they’re talking about, [and it] makes it easier for us to bond,” Jonathan said. The brothers have also bonded over the difficult experiences they’ve been through together. After their grandmother’s passing, William and Jonathan wanted to get in touch and explore the things that really meant something to them. They visited and became monks for a day, and William talked about how the monks’ barriers from society and their closeness affected his relationship with Jonathan. The monks’ simplicity grounded the two and rooted them in a basic mindset. In a confined community without Facebook, texting, or games, the two were able to spend their time without distractions. They gardened together instead of playing games individually and sat down at the dinner table with the monk, his parents, and his brother as a complete family. “I think that was the part where it [impacted] not only our religion, but also on our relationship,” William said. A relationship is a two-way street. Whenever either of the brothers is dealing with stress, the other is always right there next to him. For instance, when William was pulling all-nighters worrying about college admissions, Jonathan stayed up most of the night to be his sounding board. “Even though I regretted it the next day, when I only got two hours of sleep, sometimes it’s worth it,” Jonathan said. Their motto is: When you’re down, look in the mirror and see a positive image. Despite being close in age and having similar interests, the brothers do not feel pressured to try to top each other’s accomplishments. “As an older brother, you always want your siblings to do better than you do. You don’t want them to follow in your shadow, you want them to do whatever they want to do.” William said. “I look up to him. Our relationship is like [this]: we push ourselves, and we also push each other. We help each other, but we also look for the best in ourselves. We always go for that goal, and if we’re faltering, we always have each other to keep us on track,” Jonathan said. “You know those cliché sayings like, ‘You’re my rock,’ or ‘You’ve got my back.’That pretty much describes our relationship. We never put each other down; we always try to look for the best in each other,” Jonathan said.

Anne Duncan\The Spectator


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

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Features The Real Big and Little Sibs of Stuyvesant

Robots in Zero G: Stuy-Naught Makes Finals

Danielle Eisenman\The Spectator

continued from page 1

Natalie & Emily Ruby When Natalie and Emily entered Stuyvesant as freshmen, they joined their older sister Charlotte Ruby (’12). When you’re going through a hard time, your friends may provide comfort, but there is nothing like a hug from someone who is experiencing the same pain as you. “After our grandmother had died and the next day we were in school and I was feeling really sad about it, and I remember running into Emily in the hallway and it was really nice, we just gave each other a big hug,” said Charlotte. As with the Venderbush brothers, Charlotte’s influence on the twins in extracurricular activities, though present, is limited. Participating in SING! is Natalie and Emily’s passion, while being on the math team was Charlotte’s. Even so, Charlotte is still able to advise them on classes and APs. “I never really connected with my Big Sibs,” Emily said. “[Charlotte] was able to tell me a more personalized view.” Like other Stuyvesant students, the twins have to balance schoolwork, their social lives, and extracurriculars. At times, this task can be daunting and stressful for Natalie and Emily, at which point they look to each other for emotional company and support. “Every night we sit down together and take sort of a breather,” Emily said. “Our relationship is more the break from school work and the emotional comfort. It’s nice to have someone who understands you.” In fact, this part of their relationship is so important to them that when Natalie was accepted into Bard High School and Emily was not, the two immediately opted for Stuyvesant, intending to maintain the support and understanding that could only be attained by attending the same school. They sought the irreplaceable stability and reassurance of having each other around through the tumultuous time of high school.

“The schedule has been very hectic,” said freshman Constantine Athanitis in an e-mail interview. “Each member must work extra hard every day, running simulations to help the team’s code do better against our competitors.” They often run their code hundreds of times, with slightly altered parameters each time, analyzing the parameters that produce optimal results. Later this month, the team will see its hard work pay off, as they will get to watch a live stream of the competition at MIT and have a chance to meet actual astronauts and tour the campus. “With ZERO, you’re learning how to collaborate with a team on a massive project over a long period time. With each hill and valley, each win and loss, you become more and more attached to the team and the vision and more dedicated and willing to contribute,” junior Omar Hegazy wrote in an e-mail interview. Generally, all Stuy-Naught members showed an effusive enthusiasm for what the team had taught them. “They’re the best programmers here at Stuy and they can make progress very fast, and the atmosphere they make motivates one to go and expand one’s knowledge,” Hegazy said. For the tightly-knit team of StuyNaught, the MIT competition on January 17 looms almost as large as their final examinations. They will soon see how well their code and that of their two allied teams will perform in a reallife setting. But, until then, they will tweak parameters, run simulations, decide upon the most optimal strategy, and struggle with the obstacles that real-life physics throws at them. “Countering these with solutions of

our own was fun and pretty interesting,” junior Norman Kontarovich said. ”If you’re into computer science or engineering, learning to apply these subjects to your own strategies is daunting but rewarding.” “I can’t tell you how much of a kick it is to watch your code run on a physical object in space,” Lavin said. “It is extremely cool.”

“In this competition, we have to get to a particular point in space and we have to rotate around it. It’s a non-trivial thing to do. We have certain tools, but [none] that say, ‘Please rotate around that.” —Peter Brooks, computer science teacher and Zero Robotics advisor

Philip Shin / The Spectator

Super Stuy Bros. Brawl

Members of the Super Smash Bros. Club enjoy their first minutes of Winter Recess by brawling against each other.

By johnathan Rafailov and stanley Chan Non-gamers believe in one major stereotype about gamers: gaming communities tend to be “sausage fests,” guys who lock themselves in the basement for hours. I believed in that stereotype to a limited extent. However, a few months ago, when I saw an excited group of people outside room 331, chattering away about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I found myself enticed to enter the room and play with them. The lights were off, and the atmosphere was relaxing. People scattered around the U-shape seats and began eating chicken quesadillas, BLTs, and other snacks. While they waited for CoPresidents Brian Lee and Emile Jean-Baptiste and Vice Presi-

dent Matthew Cook to set up the SMART Board projector and two Wiis, many of them took to playing their Nintendo 3DSes. Shortly, Lee began calling out names from the tournament brackets he set up on Facebook, and Cook arranged four seats in front of each screen. Jean-Baptiste mingled with people and their Pokémon. I entered the doubles tourney as a substitute and teamed up with senior Calvin Baker. I. The Triforce The legend is that there already was a club for this video game once, according to Cook. “The first year that Brawl came out, apparently there was a Brawl club. This was five years ago, and it died when the seniors graduated,” Cook said. “And we real-

ized that people still like the game even though it is sort of old now.” Despite rigid DOE club restrictions, “the only thing that was difficult was that I forgot to answer a question on the charter,” Cook said. Grinning, he said, “I made sure that I didn’t ask for any financial aid because they definitely would not have [approved].” Their faculty advisor, biology teacher Jessica Quenzer, is a “pretty hard-core gamer,” and “really cool,” Cook said. “[On a fire drill], we were walking out the building. I was like ‘Hey! Do you mind helping out?’ She was like ‘Oh yeah! That would be great,’” Cook said. “Then she came in and actually sat in on one of our meetings. She was like the only girl. She’s let us keep the Wii in her room a couple times.” The club has been a huge success, surpassing the expectations of its founders. At the interest meeting, for example, they were hoping for 10 or 20 people to show up, but instead found that 55 or 56 people attended. “I didn’t expect 50 people, maybe a few others and some new people for ‘friendlies,’ casual games. We never thought we’d have to do large-scale events and tourneys,” Lee said. “The ideas that I had [was] that this club would turn out to be just a place for people, not even for Brawl, just to come chill. Just people who have friends who enjoy stuff like this. They could come in and watch, maybe, with their friends. A lot of other people come just to play other games.

We’ve had people come here and just, since their friends are playing Brawl, they’d sit and come play cards or Pokémon or something. It’s just a relaxing environment,” Cook said. II. The Battle Outside of the friendly atmosphere, there was something about the competition that drew people—Cook called it “natural human nature,” and said that winning tournaments gave you “bragging rights.” In this case, the same people kept earning bragging rights. Freshman William Yao won most of the solo tourneys, while junior James Lu won the rest. Lee and Cook won the doubles tourney. “If there’s dominance by two people, then you’re going to have a rivalry,” Cook said. “William Yao and Brian Lee are two of the best people here, so it will probably be a lasting rivalry,” he said. There was a lasting appeal about Super Smash Brothers that made it different from other games. The only reason JeanBaptiste had Call of Duty was to play it occasionally at his cousin’s house. “But, I love Smash for life. Super Smash Brothers Melee is actually one of the first games I got. It’s just like, it really stuck with me,” he said. “Actually, I have to admit, I might not be a Nintendo fan if it weren’t for this game.” Similarly, Lee was only five when he got Melee. “I never really understood the complexity of the game, but this kind of transferred over. The Wii came out.

Everybody was excited about it and raving about it. I bought the Wii [and] bought Brawl,” he said. “You see someone who is better than you... I wanted to be the best,” Lee said. Even before the Super Stuy Bros. became an official club, they had a two-year-old Facebook group. It was a 140-member litmus test where members could exchange friend codes: “You could do WiFi matches and see who’s good,” Lee said. “I met [Matt Cook] outside of school. And then we just found out that we both happened to play Smash. Emile, I kind of destroyed him a few times in Brawl. Ever since then, we’ve had conversations. We’re close,” Lee said. The online matches segued into the development of a Smash community with a special kind of atmosphere for the people playing it. Junior Jeff Meista said, “When you’re playing with a massive group, you’re just going to get into it because a majority of people there just focus on whoever’s playing. When there’s this massive ‘ohhh’— this amazing moment—the entire room just ruptures in noise and celebration.” “Everything about Nintendo is nostalgic and this game brings every character we love, like Kirby, Mario, and Link together,” sophomore Kevin Mejia said. The characters became powerful avatars to assert individual style and dominance. “I used to play it by myself. My only real competition was my little brother. Coming here was a real wake-up call that I’m not that good,” Meija said.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

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The Spectator ●January 14, 2013

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The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

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So You Think You Know Your Teachers? By Lon Yin Chan and Erica Chio

Anthony Valentin, History Teacher

Rosa Mazzurco, English Teacher Past Professions: Before becoming an English teacher, she worked as an assistant editor at a well-known publishing company. “[It] was not very exciting. [I] looked at manuscripts from some agents [and had] meetings...but [I] was not very good at deciding whether something will sell.”

Hobbies/Summers Spent: She’s about 5’5”, but she can hold up to 80 pounds. It comes handy when she “scuba dives!!!” she said excitedly when asked what her hobby is. “[I] go to the Keys a lot...I’ve also been to Mexico, Bonaire, and Lambadouza.” She plans to go to the Yucatan during February break. Furthermore, she is a certified rescue diver. “I was actually certified in New York City with a group of firefighters. I was the only woman, and it was awful. We had to carry about eight pounds of equipment on the shore, and I was swaying [side to side], but once we were in the water, it’s more about being a good swimmer.” When she doesn’t have the time to travel miles away from New York, or when she’s not grading papers, she enjoys sewing and making patterns. In fact, she took several courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology several years ago and can now pattern her own clothes. Greatest Achievement: Growing fruit trees (successfully) in her garden in Williamsburg. “I have a fig tree…lemon trees, orange trees, lime trees.” She grew the lemon trees from saplings, and now they are thriving. Embarrassing Teacher Moment: Sometimes, she rushes out the door without realizing her clothes are a little skewed until a student tells her. It’s often that the buttons on her shirts that are mismatched. Her skirt once got caught in a desk but she didn’t notice until later that there was a large rip. Out of frustration, she tore off a part of the skirt’s bottom.

Cynthia Sze/ The Spectator

Rosa Mazzurco, English Teacher

Ulugbek Akhmedov, Physics Teacher: Past Professions: “I was a teacher since [I was] five. Seriously, I taught all kinds of mischievous things to my brother and to other kids…Like climbing trees and jumping off of them, crawling under the swings when other kids were swinging on them.” He was also a salesman, but he doesn’t like to talk about it because he hated it. Favorite Job: “Teaching, because it is like molding a person, a statue—like art, like creating something new, familiar, and yet unique at the same time. It is always new and fresh, new environment, new people, young people, same basic concepts based on honesty and hard work, and humor…I was a teacher all my life. It requires certain leadership skills, certain flexibility, creativity, but most of all it help[s] me learn new thing[s] along with my students. I don’t stick to a job—or rather, it does not stick to me—for long if I feel I can’t grow and learn and breathe. It becomes boring. Maybe I’d become a bouncer, and then something like Bruce Willis. I wish I was [physically] strong and flexible like Jean Claude Van Damme and do a complete split at the age of 53! But it is too late for me to get there, I think.”

Zovinar Khrimian/ The Spectator

Why English? “What’s so great about teaching here is having creative colleagues. Mr. Grossman really values creative analytical thought, which I find really inspiring. [English] teachers have so much freedom to teach what [they] love while staying in a general curriculum.”

Anthony Valentin, History Teacher: Past Professions: “I was in the United States Army for seven years. I was a tank commander.” But his favorite profession is still being a student. “I just liked being a student—it was like the best time of my life. I liked going to school and just listening to professors and people talk.” Hobbies/Summers Spent: “I like to do stuff with technology in the classroom. I like to read stuff about history and I like to travel.” However, because he’s not wealthy enough to travel everywhere he wants to, he tries to go to historical sites. His summers are also spent catching up on repairs and chores around the house. Since his favorite historical figure is Abraham Lincoln, he has specifically gone to places memorable to Lincoln, including Washington DC and Petersburg. “One spot I haven’t gone to yet is where he had his law offices, and that’s in Illinois.” Why History? “I have no idea. I’ve loved it since I was a kid—ever since I was in junior high school. It goes way back.” As does his admiration of Abraham Lincoln. “I remember taking a book out of the school library on Abraham Lincoln. So I’m reading the book and it’s got the Gettysburg Address and events that happened after the address. I couldn’t believe it. So I’m a thirteen year old kid and I read this thing and, man, I think I started crying in the train.” Embarrassing Moment: “I remember one day there was a fight in the hallway, and I’m a small person but the students who were fighting [were] bigger than me. But I didn’t want them to fight, so I tried to break it up. And I didn’t break it up, I couldn’t break it up, so I had to resort to climbing the back of one of the students because both of them were bigger than me, and they still continued to fight and I’m on the back of this student like he’s giving me a piggyback ride. Never did he attempt to hurt me or anything, he was completely focused on trying to hit this other kid.” Ulugbek Akhmedov, Physics Teacher

Why Physics? “Ernest Rutherford said that ‘All science is either physics or stamp collecting.’ Physics is the only discipline that goes in the core of problems and helps discover fundamental laws of nature.” Greatest Accomplishment: “Standing on my hands and jumping and clapping my hands…On a serious note, in my first year teaching I got 50 percent passing physics class/regents in a failing school where kids had not been passing physics regents for a long time.”

Michelle Lin/ The Spectator

Hobbies/Summer Spent: “I like reading. Not a lot like some people read, every day, every week, one book after another. I like to take time to think, to imagine what I would do in the situation the hero is. And I give myself time to leave the book for a long time and then come back to it and reread it.” He also likes reading sci-fi that “does not violate laws of nature” and sports such as swimming.


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The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Features Remembering Ned Vizzini (1981-2013) “I work. And I think about work, and I freak out about work, and I think about how much I think about work, and I freak out about how much I think about how much I think about work, and I think about how freaked out I get about how much I think about how much I think about work.”

“It’s tough to get out of bed; I know that myself. You can lie there for an hour and a half without thinking anything, just worrying about what the day holds and knowing that you won’t be able to deal with it.”

“Some of the most profound truths about us are things that we stop saying in the middle.”

Stuyvesant alumnus Ned Vizzini (‘99) — a highly praised novelist and TV writer who discussed teenage anxiety without sacrificing his humor and wit — committed suicide on Thursday, December 19. The Spectator mourns the loss of a brilliant author whose candid and courageous writing still resonates with countless Stuyvesant students and teenagers in general. The four adjacent quotes all come from his memorable novel, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” Below, News Editor Lindsay Bu and Features Editor Teresa Chen commemorate Vizzini and the impact his writing and presence had on their lives.

Whenever something unfortunate happens to my mother, she—who perhaps has seen one too many Korean dramas—throws her hands up to the heavens and exasperatedly asks what she did wrong to deserve these miseries. While comedic to watch, the sentiment she expresses is one that I think many of us have felt before. We often trace our successes and failures to ourselves. When we accomplish great things, we like to think it was due to our own hard work and dedication; when we fall short, we wonder what more we could have done to change the outcome. The idea of causality is one that plays a large role in Ned Vizzini’s novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” Perhaps because Vizzini (’99) attended Stuyvesant, many of the experiences depicted in the novel resonate with my own as a student here today. The protagonist of the novel, Craig Gilner, toils away to prepare for the entrance exam to the prestigious Executive Pre-Professional High School and is elated when he receives a perfect score. His excitement is short-lived, however, when his ideals of excelling in high school, getting into his dream college, and landing a great job are shaken as he struggles to maintain his 93 average. Craig questions why his tremendous efforts amount to what he believes is only mediocrity, and his depression and suicidal thoughts eventually lead him to a psychiatric ward. This fear of mediocrity is one that has, unfortunately, shaped much of my time here at Stuyvesant as well. My parents had always instilled in me this idea that hard work and reward were directly proportional, and as I began to quantify my intelligence by the grades on my exams, I inevitably fell into a pit of self-doubt and blame. I had convinced myself that it was ultimately my own fault if I wasn’t doing well in a class, and I stripped away beloved hours of my sleep and quality time with friends or family, ironically dedicating them to the classes I was most miserable in. For a while, particularly during sophomore year, I was stuck in this place where things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to, and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. Yet, in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” Craig begins to see his life through a larger scope. As he slowly embraces his talent and love for art, his intricate drawings of mapped brains serve as an outlet to his stress and insecurities. He recognizes that the supportive people around him at the ward have allowed him to find his real passions, and that his inability to thrive at his high school in the way he wanted to was not an indication of his incompetence, but rather an indication of the environment not being conducive to his learning. When his psychiatrist suggests that Craig even transfer to an art school, the idea of this new beginning excites him. Like Craig, I think I’m coming to realize that the events in my life are not always a direct result of my actions and decisions. This is humbling, but also remarkably liberating. It is nice to relieve myself of the burdensome idea that I am solely responsible for the good and the bad. Though I still grapple with this, I now try to remind myself to be thankful for the great things that have happened to me, and to also accept that the notso-great things may have happened because that is simply the way this world works. When I first heard that Ned Vizzini took his own life, I was struck with surprise and grief. It saddened me to think that the person whose work had shone a light at the end of my tunnel had been stuck in his own tunnel as well. And though Vizzini’s death is heartbreaking and I feel that we’ve lost someone great, perhaps his passing gives me more to live by. My success is not just my own, but also that of everyone who has helped me better myself, such as Vizzini. —Lindsay Bu, senior

“So why am I depressed? That’s the million-dollar question, baby, the Tootsie Roll question; not even the owl knows the answer to that one. I don’t know either. All I know is the chronology.

I first met Ned Vizzini just last summer, when I scheduled an interview with him for a possible feature. I’d like to make it clear that this was an e-mail interview, but I use the word “met” because even through the impersonal walls of the Internet and G-mail, Vizzini’s dry humor and wit emerged through the forty-something questions I had asked him through our e-mail correspondence. Even through his shortest answers, I felt the power and personality of his words, a quality that isn’t easily achieved and that shines through his books. Ironically enough, I had never read any of Vizzini’s books until he prompted me to do so. I wanted to learn more about him, and he said, “If you spent four hours hanging out with me, you would know just as much about me as if you read one of my books. So you might as well just read my books so I get a little money.” So I followed his advice and walked into Barnes & Noble the next day to purchase my very own copy of “Teen Angst? Naaah...” I devoured the story in two train rides, and I finally understood why Vizzini is crowned as a huge part of Stuyvesant culture. Each chapter contained smattering of the little things that defined Stuyvesant life—from the Wall, where everyone likes to linger and hang out at, to the gut-punching shock felt when you saw that you’ve failed your first test. As I continued reading, I started to picture myself in his place. What I really connected to, however, was his book “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” which centers on Craig, a teenager who suffers from depression and eventually checks himself into a mental institution. Depression is not an easy topic, but Vizzini tackles it with bluntness and humor. As I read his book on the train, I found myself laughing out loud, only stopping when I saw that everyone was looking at me curiously. But it was the dark, snarling pain in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” that was striking to me, because I feel that Craig is a little voice inside all of us. We might not all be depressed, but behind my bright and smiley façade, there are days where I feel as if the world is spinning around me. No matter how much I run, I can’t catch up to everything else. On those days, my moodiness strained my relationship with my mom, as I constantly grew frustrated with her inability to understand my feelings and my stress. Our arguments usually ended with slammed bedroom doors and skipped dinners. It was not a healthy family atmosphere, nor one I wanted to keep up. Reading “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” empowered me to face my own frustrations for the first time. Craig’s story taught me how to let go of the smallest details and to spend my time doing what I loved. This may sound clichéd, but reading that book changed my life, and I only wish I had the opportunity to thank Vizzini for that. When I first found out that Ned Vizzini had taken his own life, I froze, staring at the words my friend had texted me. When I first asked Vizzini about his battles with depression, he briefly said, “I was 23 and under contract to write a book and couldn’t. I thought my career and life were over because my art had betrayed me. [Eventually] I found comfort in time. Time is also what helped me overcome. Time is great.” It is extremely heartbreaking to see that Vizzini lost his battle, but it’s comforting to know that his legacy will thrive though his words. I love Vizzini’s writing, but more than that, I love that he was brave enough to write about himself and his own struggles, struggles that everyone else was afraid of and did their best to stash away. Through his books, I felt a strong personal connection, and I felt that he understood me in a way that nobody else could. And in his own wise words of wisdom: “Things to do Today: 1.Breathe in. 2.Breathe out.” — “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” —Teresa Chen, Junior


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Features Stuyvesant’s INTEL-igent Eleven Each year, the Intel Science Talent Search scouts out the nation’s best young scientists. Hoping to become one of the selected three hundred, students across the country dedicate themselves to various labs and mentors, hoping to advance their chosen fields of study. This year, eleven Stuyvesant seniors have emerged as semifinalists for their independent research, and their project topics range from exploring the human brain to analyzing our economy. Presented below are short abstracts written by our semifinalists themselves, providing brief summaries of their cumulative research. A more in-depth feature on the following semifinalists and their Intel experiences will come in Issue 9. David Cahn: The Relationship between Functional Connectivity and BOLD Magnitude Explains Sensory Processing Deficits in Schizophrenia

Jack Cahn: The Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex is Sensitive to Uncertainty, Not Arousal

Recent findings suggest that cognitive deficits in schizophrenia may originate from sensory disorganization. Research has identified several structural pathways from which these deficits are thought to originate. If these pathways are the source of cognitive deficits, then connectivity should predict performance on task. Furthermore, increased brain activity should lead to increased synchrony between communicating regions, with structural disconnectivity causing patients to increase connectivity to a lesser extent than controls. This study used fMRI with an attention vigilance task to test these two hypotheses. Consistent with previous studies, baseline connectivity was substantially stronger in healthy controls than in patients. However, patients decreased in connectivity and connectivity was unable to explain patient performance on vigilance tasks. The results are incompatible with the “structural disconnectivity” sensory processing model and indicate its insufficiency. This study proposes an alternate model where neural communication is a function of activation and connectivity. Under this, task-induced disconnectivity is a compensatory response to sensory gating deficits. Re-analysis of the data using the blood oxygen level–dependent (BOLD) contrast, the standard measure of neural activation, supported this hypothesis, demonstrating that a statistically significant inverse relationship exists between connectivity and BOLD. This ratio explained patient performance on vigilance tests, indicating that this model is accurate and reliable.

The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) has been the subject of extensive neuroscience research and of many computational models because it is one of the most commonly activated brain regions during higher order cognitive function. At least two models exist to explain its role. The uncertainty-related processing model argues that the dmPFC is a rational processing center that is activated by decision uncertainty. The arousal-related model, however, argues that the dmPFC is an emotional processing center that is activated by fear, anxiety, and negative emotions. To test these hypotheses, I developed an emotion categorization task that dissociated uncertainty and arousal. Subjects rated the fearfulness of faces morphed between neutral and fearful extremes. Psychometric functions were fit to the behavioral data to define two orthogonal variables characterizing decisions. Ratings were used to define emotional arousal, whereas the psychophysical distance of the stimulus from its categorical boundary was defined as uncertainty. These functions were used as regressors to produce an activation map of neural activity. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), I found that dmPFC activity is correlated to decision uncertainty. Second, amygdala activity is correlated to emotional arousal and negative emotions. These findings are inconsistent with the arousal model and suggest that the dmPFC is a rational processing center that is involved in categorical decisions involving high levels of uncertainty.

Julia Cha: FoxO3 is Required For Erythroid Differentiation Through a Non-Autophagic Cellular Mechanism

Soham Daga: Using Google Trends to Enhance Predictive Models of Mortgage Delinquincy to Mitigate Risk in the Loan Lending Process

Anemia may be caused by a failure of immature red blood cells (RBC) to mature, a process that involves cell self-digestion. I studied the role of FoxO3 gene in RBC maturation. I analyzed the blood of regular mice and mice genetically engineered to lose FoxO3, and I chemically treated regular immature RBC cultures and those lacking FoxO3 expression to induce self-digestion or maturation. My results indicate that FoxO3 is required for RBC maturation through a process other than self-digestion. Since some forms of anemia may be treated by stimulating RBC maturation, I hope that a clearer understanding of the role of FoxO3 in RBC maturation will lead to the development of anemia treating drugs that target FoxO3.

Many global and national recessions have been caused by bank failures. Accurately predicting changes in consumer payment behavior will provide further certainty to banks in the lending process and help prevent bank failure. I hypothesized, tested and validated that Google Trends can be used as predictive indicators of consumer behavior with regard to mortgage delinquency. I created autoregressive linear regression models with logarithmic transformation of data to test the power of Google Trends to predict delinquency. I compared models that solely contained past mortgage delinquency and macroeconomic variables with models that combined Google Trends Data. In all cases, Google Trends helped to significantly lower the residual error of predicted mortgage delinquency values. It identified emerging delinquency risks 6-18 months ahead of the crisis—something traditional economic indicators are not able to provide as quickly. Banks and other financial firms can use these models to more accurately predict aggregate delinquency levels and suitably refine their broad loan policy decisions. This would reduce the broader risk in their loan lending process and optimize the health of their loan portfolio.

Eugene Lee: The Elusive Poncelet Point Let T1 be a triangle in the plane. Draw the inscribed circle. The tangency points form a second triangle, T2, the contact triangle of T1. Let T3 be the contact triangle of T2. Iterating this procedure one obtains a triangle sequence which converges to a point. What can be said about the dynamic behavior of the shapes of these triangles? We prove that the triangles become closer to the equilateral shape as n gets large. What are the coordinates of the limiting point? This question was raised by Synge more than 20 years ago and it is still open. We determine the coordinates of the limiting point in the case when the initial triangle T1 is isosceles, and prove that they cannot be expressed as elementary functions of the vertices of T1. Jing Lin: A Novel Azimuthal Polarizer Using a Bulk Acoustic Wave Resonator To Align Silver Nanowires My work involves the invention of a novel polarizer through the alignment of silver nanowires using bulk acoustic waves (BAWs). When silver nanowires capable of polarizing light beams are aligned by BAWs into concentric rings, a polarizer is produced. The polarized light forms unique twisted beams that hold important applications in atomic trapping, particle acceleration, optical lithography and more. Two resonator structures with different piezoelectric materials, zinc oxide (ZnO) and lithium niobate (LiNbO3) were simulated using finite element analysis and experimentally verified in a capacitance circuit with an oscilloscope to determine the frequencies corresponding to the resonance modes. The modes that the BAWs create make standing waves that align the silver nanowires.

Lydia Goldberg: The Network Behind a Secure Internet: Safeguarding the Web of Digital Certificates Internet users assume that when they connect to a bank, email service or shopping site, their communications are private and secure. But their trust is built atop a set of old protocols that did not foresee the path of growth. This includes the X509 certification protocol by which users determine that the website they are connecting to is the intended destination, and not a decoy set up to phish for information. Digital certificates (certs) issued by certificate authorities (CAs) are used for identity verification in the public key infrastructure. In the current cert system, any of these root CAs can issue a cert to any site in the world, allowing for potential abuse. To decrease the possibility of abuse, we characterize the trust chains that exist in the Internet today. We extract data from the EFF SSL Observatory to investigate the cross-border relationships. We characterize current vulnerabilities in the digital certificate system based on its international structure. Finally, we test the applicability of existing schemes to protect against attack, highlight some vulnerabilities, and suggest best practices in choosing a CA to mitigate these vulnerabilities.

Danny Kim: “Shell We Date? ESR Dating the Sangamonian Interglacial Deposits at Hopwood Farm, IL” To understand how climate will change as global warming progresses, we must understand changes after earlier glaciations. At Hopwood Farm, IL, the pollen in the deposits suggests that lake formed after the glacier retreat 128 ka (ka = 1000 years ago). Giant tortoise fossils in the lake sediment show that winters there were warmer than New Orleans now. Other dating methods did not give reasonable ages. This study used electron spin resonance (ESR). For Unit 3, the molluscs ranged from ~ 90-110 ka, which also agrees well with ages from uranium-series dating. ESR provided dates consistent with the stratigraphy from the Sangamonian, a time when global temperatures were warm. Studies like this provide us with examples to predict climate shifts.

Alex Sandomirsky: A Flexible Equivalent Circuit Model of Transformer Core Hysteresis ​The magnetic hysteresis that is present in transformer cores accounts for energy losses from the device and influences other features of the transformer. Understanding the nature of the hysteresis can thus be very useful to designing power systems because it can help predict energy consumption more precisely. It also helps predict the necessary aspects of the system, such as its current carrying capacity. As a result, models have been created about the hysteresis curve, but they are not flexible enough to be applied to a wide array of cases as they apply to certain features that are not shared by all transformer hysteresis. I present a simple method for constructing an equivalent circuit that can model the hysteresis of any transformer core based on the actual data about it. This circuit uses components found in any finite elements program, making it quite accessible, and the precision of the model can always be elevated simply by increasing the number of components in the circuit using my method. Alvin Wei: Coding a SAT-based Tool to Classify Camoflauged Integrated Ciruits Reverse engineering is a process that identifies the structure, design, and functionality of an integrated circuit (IC). Camouflaging is a technique that deters reverse engineering by covering selected parts of the IC. Camouflaging-selected gates may or may not be resolvable depending on the gate’s position.Therefore, it is necessary to design a tool to classify and to measure the strength of camouflaged ICs. An experiment was designed such that 5% of gates of the chips were camouflaged. The tool was coded and was tested on these test circuits; the classification of camouflaged gates succeeded, quantifying the number of solvable and nonsolvable camouflaged gates. The success of this tool suggests that it can be used to measure the strength of security against reverse engineering in an IC, and thus a tool to ensure a standard of security.

Michael Lim: High Chromatic Number Number Unit Distance Graphs in the 4-Dimensional Euclidian Space In 1950 Hadwiger and Nelson raised the following question: How many colors are needed to paint the Euclidean plane such that no two points unit distance apart have the same color? It is easy to show that we need at least four colors; on the other hand seven colors always suffice. Similar questions can be asked for higher dimensional Euclidean spaces. In this paper we investigate how many colors are needed to color the 4 - dimensional Euclidean space. Previously, it was known that at least seven colors are needed. We prove that we cannot have fewer than nine colors.


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The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Features By Sanam Bhatia Everyone has that one practically perfect friend; she’s sweet, insightful, and extremely talented. For quite a few people at Stuyvesant, that friend is sophomore Rishika Jikaria. A part of what makes Jikaria so great is the wide range of activities she partakes in. On many days, she runs to the speech room after 10th period to practice before dashing to cheerleading practice. But what defines Jikaria isn’t her extracurriculars but the way that she handles them, coming to school day after day with a bright smile. With Jikaria, the sun never sets. One look at Jikaria’s lean and graceful posture told me that she was a dancer, and my suspicions were correct. “Ever since I was very young, two years old, I started doing ballet, so dancing has been a really important part of my life, and it really just shaped who I am,” she said. With 13 years of classical Russian ballet, five years of Latin dance, seven years of jazz and modern training, three years of Turkish and Egyptian belly dance, and several forms of South Asian dance—modern Bollywood dance, Bharatanatyam, and all kinds of Gujarati and Rajasthani folk dance—under her belt, Jikaria has wholeheartedly dedicated herself to dance. Despite her sleep-depriving schedule at Stuyvesant, she continues to attend dance school. “[We put] on a production of The Nutcracker Ballet each December and practice for this production starts in late September,” Jikaria said. “Being able to get up on stage and perform

different dance numbers… provides me with much of the confidence I have today.” Though she isn’t in Stuy Squad, Jikaria found a way to immerse herself in dance at Stuyvesant when she joined the cheerleading team, another huge commitment that lasts year-round. “It gives me the chance to go and stretch a little and work out,” Jikaria said. She also has a “speech legacy,” as her older sister and alumna Omika Jikaria (‘11) was the speech captain in her senior year. “I would watch her and go to her tournaments and rounds. It really motivated me to join. And it made her a better speaker, which is something I was looking for,” Jikaria said. Currently, Jikaria competes in declamation, a category of speech in which one

“Ever since I was very young, two years old, I started doing ballet, so dancing has been a really important part of my life.” —Rishika Jikaria, sophomore performs oratorical and formal speeches; oral interpretation, in which participants interpret

characters through prose and poetry; and duo interpretation, a skit involving two people. “I like doing speech because it allows me to come after school and form a character who does not live a life like [mine],” Jikaria said. She has already won multiple awards, including a first-place finish in declamation at the prestigious Patriot Games Invitational at George Mason University in December, and first place in duo and third place in declamation at the Saint Joseph’s University Villiger National Invitational in November. Jikaria and her duo partner, sophomore Danielle Hahami, currently perform as a pair of sisters trying to invent a machine to “fix boys.” The two work together incredibly well and have great chemistry, making for adorable little moments throughout. Another part of what makes Jikaria so unique is that her two primary activities are on opposite sides of Stuyvesant’s spectrum of extracurriculars. “It’s very different to be on the cheerleading and speech and debate team,” Jikaria said. “There are different cliches [for both].” Nevertheless, she balances both well, spending as much time as possible on both. The reason Jikaria enjoys participating in all these activities stems from beauty pageants, which she started participating in when she was just five months old. “I still continue to do them today, because each time I attend a new pageant, I learn something new,” Jikaria said. “That and dancing have really helped me become an outgoing person.” She also explained that many

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Sophomore Rishika Jikaria manages to balance being a national speech champion, a talented cheerleader, and a frequent beauty pageant participant with her usual schoolwork.

people have misconceptions about beauty pageants. “It’s not really about how you look all the time,” she said. “There’s an interview part, and it helps you realize there’s a new side to things you may not have realized.” In the talent portion of the pageants, she incorporates dance, either ballet, ballroom dancing, or Indian classical dance. Though many people may envy Jikaria’s ability to juggle so many activities, there are downsides to having so many commitments. She often gets home from cheerleading practice late or stays at dance until nine or 10. Furthermore, speech tournaments take up the time she has on the weekends to finish her schoolwork. To accommodate her busy schedule, Jikaria tries her best to finish as much homework as possible in the library during lunch or free periods. “I do procrastinate,” she said. “But I try to spend as much time doing work and try to prioritize that.”

Despite her busy life, Jikaria wants to get even “more involved in the student body,” she said. She is on the communications department of the Student Union and was last year’s producer of Soph-Frosh SING!. “That was honestly great. I met so many great people and it was a great experience.” This all connects back to her general outlook on everything she does. In fact, Jikaria views every experience as an opportunity to learn. As she eloquently explained, “I always believe in doing what you love and loving what you do. Everything that I get myself involved in is special to me, and I have a reason for doing it. It does get difficult to manage my time and sometimes I do have to prioritize, but at the end of the day, I learn something new from each of my activities. If anyone were to ask me which is my favorite, I really would not be able to pick.”

Nicole Rosengurt / The Spectator

Taking Center Stage: Rishika Jikaria


The Spectator â—? January 14, 2014

Page 11

Over the Years

Upcoming Photo Editors Justin Strauss, Anne Duncan, and Jin Hee Yoo, along with the entire photo staff, would like to thank the outgoing senior photographers for their work. These are photographs taken by (clockwise from top left) Alice Li, Sora Kim, Danny Kim, Philip Shin, Sam Kim, and Vivian Huang.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 12

Editorials Staff Editorial

If You Build Better Homework, We Will Be Happy to Do It A prescription to teachers on how to improve homework and thereby promote a more positive learning environment The Good

The Bad

Though we complain to our friends and sigh to our teachers, we don’t actually mind all homework. In fact, some of it can be interesting and engaging. If all our homework were like that, the Stuyvesant workload would be far more manageable. Students want an incentive to do their homework, such as being tested on the material with an exam or paper. If teachers check over homework thoroughly instead of just glancing at it, students are more likely to do it. Education

In the end, what really gets to us is when our homework is overwhelming. The regular workload is understandable at a top-notch school like Stuyvesant, but some assignments send us over the edge. Receiving homework before important school-wide events, such as the Wednesday SING! show, Wednesday or Thursday STC shows, concerts, school dances, or holidays like Halloween put students in a tricky situation: From the event, homework, and sleep, we can comfortably pick only two. Since most students put their homework first, this leaves them either left out of the event or sleepdeprived. This not only impacts the student but also leaves school events sparsely attended and students exhausted. We ask teachers to help us prioritize something other than homework just a few days a year, to make small changes so that we can support each other in our performances and enjoy school-run social events or widespread holidays. However, we occasionally feel overwhelmed during ordinary weeks, when teachers push us a little too far. Having a test and a project due in the same week, or even on the same day, leaves students struggling to keep up with the work while still finding time to study for the test. Having homework assigned the day of a test is also difficult, because after finishing a whole chapter, we feel we deserve a break from work. This is especially since it is doubtful that we’ve learned any new material yet, so the new homework won’t help us master learned material, as homework is meant to do. It’s better for students if the curriculum is spread out evenly, even if that requires an overall quicker pace. Certain classes, such as advanced placement history classes and computer science classes, are also known for assigning strenuous amounts of homework nightly, because it takes some students longer than others to do a reading or finish a program. When the workload is piling up, it is very frustrating to spend time on busywork. We want to be reassured that the work we put into an assignment will be valued, because otherwise it seems like the teacher doesn’t care. Infrequent homework assignment and collection also decrease the value of the students’ work. We need more consistency and concern from our teachers. However, we want something more than just homework. Spending a whole class period just going over the homework creates unwanted monotony. What is truly unacceptable to this Editorial Board is bending or breaking the rules set by Stuyvesant’s administration, rules that are intended to make the Stuyvesant workload manageable. Some teachers assign full-period quizzes, or “quests,” on days other than their department’s testing day, requiring students to spend extra time studying and tiring them during the day. The other rule we see frequently broken is assigning work over break. Yes, teachers can technically assign homework a few days before break and collect it a few days after, but if the homework is not an appropriate size for just a few nights (for example, some teachers assign whole projects over break). then the assignment is unfair to every student who needs a break to catch up on sleep, but especially to those who travel or celebrate religious holidays. The Spectator’s Sean Gordon-Loebl brought up this issue to former Principal Stanley Teitel in 2007. Teitel then created the rule against extensive written homework over break due to concern from students and parents about homework over break causing stress, depression, and decreased love for learning. We are not asking for the chance to slack on our work, or for teachers to completely rearrange their teaching styles and lesson plans. We simply need the occasional break from our constant workload in order to create a better learning environment. We want to be inspired to enjoy our education and to be able to balance every aspect of it—which includes more than homework.

The Spectator

should come from a student’s curiosity and desire to learn, but sometimes mandatory and interesting homework helps us to learn the value of our education. We also see homework as worth our while if it is relevant to our lives. Homework can be reviewed in class the next day, to make it worth doing, but it should be applied and expanded in the next day’s lesson to make it really interesting. Aligning homework with the rest of the class demonstrates to the students why they did the homework in the first place. It also shows that teachers have really thought through their lesson plans and that they value their students’ work. Some of what we would like to change is purely logistical. Seeing the upcoming week or marking period’s homework assignments online is a great help, because it allows students to plan ahead and make sure they can accomplish everything. Seeing homework grades online also helps students know where their grades stand and allows them to plan to improve it with future homework. Some computer science teachers offer homework submission and grading online through their own websites. Having homework assignments easily accessible makes them easier to complete. Some classes assign really great homework,

We want to go home each night and actually enjoy the work we put into our educations. and they earn reputations across the student body for being worth the effort students put in. These classes include history and English classes that tie powerful readings directly into discussions the next day. Math and science classes that assign reasonable amounts of challenging homework excite the problem-solvers among us. We want to see every class earn this reputation. We want to go home each night and actually enjoy the work we put into our educations, because education is worthwhile and can be very exciting if presented in the right way.

Danny Kim Sam Kim* Justin Strauss

The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper

“The Pulse of the Student Body” E DITOR S

IN

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F e atures

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Education should come from a student’s curiosity and desire to learn, but sometimes mandatory and interesting homework helps us to learn the value of our education.

Ph o t o g r a p h y E di to rs

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We reserve the right to edit letters for clarity and length. © 2013 The Spectator All rights reserved by the creators. * Managing Board

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The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 13

Opinions By Evan Lieberman Too many public schools are failing low-income children, leaving them without a future. Proposed in the 1990s, one solution involved the use of charter schools, which have dramatically increased in number in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Charter schools are controversial because they receive city funds while remaining free of city-mandated curriculums and teacher-union restrictions. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desire to slow the growth of charter schools and focus on improving the city’s entire public school system has reignited the controversy. De Blasio has also expressed his desire to force charter schools currently occupying public school space for free—a somewhat common occurrence in New York City due to the expensive real estate market—to either relocate or pay a rent. De Blasio, however, should reconsider. For many students— including the low-income students he wants to help—charter schools provide a quality education not found in local public schools. The structural differences between charter and public schools grant charter schools many noteworthy merits. Firstly, their independence from teacher-union restrictions and city-mandated curriculums allows them more flexibility in educating students. More flexibility can translate into

a better education. For example, many struggling public schools lack enough high-quality teachers and are prevented by union rules from getting rid of ineffective ones. The fact that charter schools are not obligated to comply with union-hiring restrictions

For many students— including the low-income students de Blasio wants to help—charter schools provide a quality education not found in local public schools. gives them more opportunities to select a teaching staff that is truly motivated to teach in a particular school, and to fire those who don’t function well in that environment. Furthermore, if charter schools believe that lengthening

school days and providing fewer vacation days is educationally beneficial, they can have teachers work longer hours. Because of their freedom from many public school curricular regulations, charter schools have created innovative curriculums. Some, such as the Brooklyn Urban Garden School, emphasize hands-on learning, with children spending some of their school hours building gardens and inventing “sustainable technologies.” In the Success Academy charter schools—some of the most successful and well-funded charter schools in the city—the school day runs from 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Within these hours, children, beginning in kindergarten, take part in fascinating science experiments and field studies, and even learn chess to “sharpen analytical and competitive instincts.” At the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls, students take Suzuki violin classes, classical ballet, and have dual language instruction in Spanish and English. These are resources not usually available to low-income children. While the results of these creative curriculums have varied, Success Academy stands as an example of schools in which an innovative learning model has succeeded. Its students are in the top seven percent of New York City schools in English Language Arts proficiency and the top one percent in math proficiency, with 82 percent of students proficient.

Jessica Lei / The Spectator

Don’t Abandon Charter Schools

De Blasio disapproves of charter schools freely using public school space and has cited overcrowding as a serious problem with these arrangements. Some charter schools do, in fact, have significant private funding and could afford to pay rent or move out, but many do not, and paying rent would force them to close. Though overcrowding is an issue of legitimate concern, de Blasio should work on fixing that problem, instead of simply getting rid of many charter schools by exploiting anger over co-location. If the city is to make any progress on finding a balance between charter and regular public schools, it must resolve this controversial space issue by forcing

well-funded charter schools to pay a reasonable rent while allowing the many struggling charter schools to keep the space they occupy for free. This is a compromise between the two poles, in which fewer charter schools occupy public school space for free while under-funded charter schools that rely on this free rent would be able to stay open. Charter schools are not a panacea for fixing public education, but de Blasio must recognize that, when executed well, they provide rich educational opportunities that low-income children deserve.

By Emma Bernstein A few weeks ago, I argued with one of my classmates about what to choose as a topic for our upcoming research project. Though I typically consider her a friend, the best word to describe her right now is an opponent, my enemy. While I wanted to pursue a project on recent sea urchin embryonic incubation technology on the premise that sea urchin populations were in danger, she engaged me in a war of words that lasted for hours. Throughout the week, this issue seemed to invade almost every interaction we had, whether it was before history or running up broken escalators. But then something happened: she found that some of the studies I had presented had overestimated population decline and the impact it had on the surrounding environment. I felt defeated. I had been arguing something so passionately about something that didn’t have any real significance. It’s hard to let ideas like that go—when you so desperately want something to be true, but it just isn’t. We all like winning. It feels nice to know that you’re right, but it’s easy for a discussion to mutate into something better described as a belligerent debate.

You now feel obliged to win less so because of your standpoint, but now more so because you don’t want to deal with a loss. Different from asking for help on math homework, these are your own ideas and beliefs; they de-

“Fallor, ergo sum” —Augustine of Hippo

fine how you perceive the world you live in, and now you’re putting them out in the open. Sometimes it’s hard to speak up, but it’s harder when what you say is perceived as wrong. This one-sided defensiveness comes across very clearly in situations where you’re forced to ad-

vocate for a particular side, and I’ve experienced this throughout my time on Stuyvesant’s debate team. You’re defensive, not to maintain your own viewpoint, but to do what’s required to win the round. When presented with an opposing viewpoint, you immediately search for flaws, instead of considering why they might be really right. Sometimes you might even prepare arguments that you know are incorrect, but are too obscure for your opponents to have the knowledge base necessary to take them down. The issue here is that we approach arguments, whether it is to protect our own beliefs or to win rounds, with a barrier around our advocacy. We don’t give our own standpoints the necessary room for growth and improvement that they truly deserve. Sophomore and former member of the policy debate team Tina Jiang explains the issue that this mindset brings to the debate activity on an educational level: “The idea of debate is to learn about various topics, but when we use obscure arguments that will never help us in the real world, the learning process has been destroyed. That’s really one of the issues with policy debate.” Debate is great for critical thinking, and advocating the opposing side is a vital aspect of its educational value, but outside of a competitive environment, the mindset that provokes this behavior is a threat to intellectual well-being and development. What does it mean to lose an argument? You back down first. You find validity in what your opponents say. You replace your own viewpoints or adapt them so that they hold aspects of other’s opinions. In essence, your personal opinion was deemed inferior to someone else’s, all because you were wrong, or at least not particularly right. But those

considered to be “winners” and “losers” in these types of discussions are doing anything but. It’s a lot easier to see if we tally up

Wrong isn’t a state of inferiority or stupidity; instead, it’s somewhere where we can search for growth and reach for our potential.

an intellectual score. For the socalled loser: 1. He has thoroughly thought out one viewpoint, un-

derstanding its benefits and now its faults as well. 2. He has now gained a different perspective that broadens his viewpoint of this subject. As for the winner, he takes away what he came in with: the argument which has been deemed superior. So who benefitted? The loser is the only one who has gained any substantial knowledge from this encounter. But when the two depart, who feels victorious? This is where the issue lies. That same wave of shame and embarrassment that crashes down on us when we realize that we’ve lost applies to the way we feel when we realize that we are wrong. However, wrong isn’t a state of inferiority or stupidity, but a place where we can search for growth and reach for our potential. What makes us human is that we take great pride in being correct, and quite the opposite when we’re not. But that’s what drives us to work towards being right. We need to stop ostracizing wrongness and learn to occasionally step back and realize that errors are what make us human, but more importantly, they’re also the precursor to being right.

Vahn Williams / The Spectator

Hayoung Ahn / The Spectator

When Wrong is Right


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 14

Opinions

By Wenhao Du It is a few minutes into fifth period, and a Stuyvesant student blazes into the library, making a dash to the textbook line. The student proceeds to

without are (thankfully) funded either by our alumni or our parents association. Of course, an ever-expanding collection of books isn’t really something to complain about. Few would deny the

Every year the DOE approbates our school about $20,000 and a limited time to spend it, on the condition the school uses it to purchase books, magazines, and “educational” DVDs. Nothing else. No computers, no printers, and definitely no textbooks for the library.

use the textbook he requests for the next twenty minutes. After finishing using the textbook, the student heads over to the computers to print out a study sheet and work on an English essay. The student never pays much attention to the shelves of books in the background. While the Department of Education pays for the seldomread books, it does not fund the valuable computers or library textbooks. More than a decade into the 21st century, the Department of Education apparently still thinks that books are the only things that should be in a library. Every year the DOE approbates our school about $20,000 and a limited time to spend it, on the condition the school uses it to purchase books, magazines, and “educational” DVDs. Nothing else. No computers, no printers, and definitely no textbooks for the library. Beyond a measly school tech budget, one that is also responsible for the computer science department, all of the latter, things we Stuyvesant students can’t survive

importance of reading something other than a textbook. Reading fiction, or well-written nonfiction for that matter, has been found to better our writing, increase our empathy, and significantly reduce our stress. In short, the books (which the average Stuyvesant student often tends to ignore) are great. But can they be used to do homework? Not likely. Can they be used to study? A textbook or study sheet would be a better choice. Simply put, they aren’t needed for the two things Stuyvesant students spend their waking hours doing. Many of us have sacrificed lunch and free periods for the sole purpose of studying or doing homework in the library, without a single thought of picking up one of those books ever crossing our minds: books can be checked out, computers and textbooks can’t. How many times have you ever picked up a book from the school library and actually finished reading it? For many of us, it’s probably at most once or twice. The truth is, many of us simply don’t have the time

to read. Between grades and extracurricular activities, the only reading us students get are the books we’re assigned for English class-and even then Sparknotes, or an equivalent, is often the go-to instead. And, for the bookworms out there who buck this trend, their local libraries, along with those a few blocks from school, offer a much wider selection of books than our school library can. Most students see the library as a workplace, a relatively quiet place to study or do homework. Just a quick look at the computer area every period shows that computers are in high demand. This is also true of the textbooks; circulation statistics show that our 303 textbooks, less than 3 percent of the total 12,758 items, have been checked out over 100,000 times this year since January 15, exceeding 85 percent of all checkouts. That’s more than 330 times per textbook! In contrast, the books are hardly touched. In fact, over the course of this year, the other 12,455 items were altogether checked out little more than a mere 15,000 times. This means on average, if something isn’t a textbook, it would be lucky to be noticed more than just once or twice a year. Clearly the DOE funding policy doesn’t make sense. First of all, the DOE is violating a basic law of sound economics: supply and demand. It believes that it should still increase supply, though there is clearly no demand. Every year the $20,000 is spent on the arguably useless, including CDs and DVDs, over the “useful.” We’re not allowed to use the funds to purchase the textbooks for the library that almost all of us use, but instead have to squander the $20,000 on a large collection of books that goes untouched. Even if other schools have a large percentage of regular books checked out (which is generally not the case in NYC where almost 30 percent of students don’t graduate high school), the Department of Education should realize that top-tier schools like Stuyvesant, which already has almost a surfeit of library books, may want to spend it on other areas.

Moreover, the DOE policy is contradictory. The DOE is giving school libraries like ours money to buy a large number of books, even though it has also instituted a hiring freeze for school librarians. This means if a school wants to hire an extra librarian to help

York State Software Law sets aside money for educational computer programs; and so on. This distribution policy is wasteful and does not work effectively for every school. Instead of restricting what a school can buy, the state should combine its multiple

The DOE is giving school libraries like ours money to buy a large number of books, even though it has also instituted a hiring freeze for school librarians.

manage the influx of books, it wouldn’t just be expensive (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a librarian is $26.20 per hour) it would be impossible. The hiring freeze is in fact one of the reasons why in recent years our school library has not been open afterschool. Though the Parents Association has repeatedly offered in the past to fund this, a lack of available

distributed funds, including the $20,000, into a total lump sum to cover all expenses, thereby granting schools, and their libraries, more flexibility to spend their funding however they see fit. School libraries, ones just like ours, should have more freedom in spending funding to suit their needs. The sixth floor library isn’t going to get any larger just because it has

While the Department of Education pays for the seldom-read books, it does not fund the valuable computers or library textbooks. staffing meant those proposals were ultimately rejected. In order to address the problem, I propose that the DOE change the funding structure of schools. Currently, the state distributes funding to schools in several strict categories. The New York State Textbook Law dictates that a set amount of money the DOE distributes is be spent on only classroom textbooks, reference materials, and newspapers; The New

more books to hold every year. The restrictiveness of current policies cause more grief than good. It is time for the DOE to move into the 21st century. In the meantime, Stuyvesant is fortunate to have a well-furnished and modern library. We have, and will continue to take steps to make it better, with or without the DOE.

Laura Eng / The Spectator

Hayoung Ahn / The Spectator

DOE: It’s Called Supply and Demand, Stupid


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 15

Opinions

Jennifer Dikler/ The Spectator

PETA- The False Front of Feeding Rights

English dairy farmer and active blogger “Dairy” Carrie Mess was driven to blog about the treatment of her cattle in a post entitled “Sometimes We are Mean to Our Cows.” The post features point-by-point refutations of common misconceptions of the ethical treatment of cattle in dairy farms, with a hint of resentment towards organizations such as PETA for spreading such untruths. This is merely one facet of the larger problem that is PETA—an organization so focused and yet so unfocused on the ethical treatment of other species that it resorts to using rather unethical modi operandi, alienating those who might have otherwise been persuaded. Carnivores—myself included—continue to adhere to our flesh-devouring doctrine, espe-

cially when we are attacked by sensationalist beliefs that meat is murder. Just a while back, PETA published a Thanksgiving parody of the popular Nintendo series Cooking Mama, starring Cooking Mama as Murderess Mama hell-bent on disemboweling and decapitating turkeys in the most gruesome manner possible for a meat-pie delicacy. A joke it was, but it was one that relied on pure shock value to deliver an already extreme and still widespread message: the act of preparing and eating meat is analogous to “murdering” the poor creatures. This is not an attack on the slaughterhouses and meat-packing facilities—unsanitary structures which are of actual concern— but rather an ad hominem towards the average Joe who likes his meat. People are less likely to listen and alter their perspective when

implanted with the intention of beefing up these creatures for profit, instead only beef up our chances of getting cancer. The United States’s situation

Even though it’s already been planted deep into our minds, organizations like PETA should not be the face of veganism, vegetarianism or animal rights.

in particular is bad to the point where the European Economic Community sought to ban all U.S. meat products from being sold in European nations. Endocrinology director Roy Hertz at the National Cancer Institute performed studies on the carci-

nogenic properties of additives in U.S. meat, in which a dimesized slice can hold up to millions and billions of hormonedisrupting molecules. Since additive hormones are not easily distinguished from bovine or other natural hormones, their use is unfortunately unregulated. So, while our canine teeth are there for a reason, putting down the BBQ sauce may not just give us an opportunity to explore a new lifestyle, but avoid another source of potentially harmful toxins found in just one bite of steak. Not to mention, of course, not having to worry about whether or not the tofu on one’s plate suffered before it ended up there. Even though it’s already been planted deep into our minds that they are, organizations like PETA should not be the face of veganism, vegetarianism, or animal rights. I learned the ramifications of harmful animal treatment and the benefits of altering one’s diet from true activists. Writers like Dairy Carrie, mentioned above, aren’t going to pop up every time there’s a misconception to be dissolved, but if one wishes to drown out the idiocy of avaricious corporations, they need only to open their eyes and ears to the people around them who are willing to share their message in the first place, not groups like PETA, who attempt to force-feed their beliefs in a most unpleasant manner.

Senior Ugly Sweater Day

Anne Duncan/ The Spectator

By MUNAWAR RAHMAN

they feel they’re being targeted, even if they would otherwise be an advocate of PETA’s policies. This relates to a form of bias known as reactive devaluation, in which people are less likely to value a proposal if it originated from an antagonist or someone who was attacking them. PETA is certainly perceived by many as the “enemy” in this scenario, but most of their recent actions have painted them less as a vocal minority and more as a force of pure evil. If analyzing their motives isn’t enough to convince one of PETA’s treachery, cold hard statistics will: in the last decade, PETA has killed 29,426 dogs, cats, bunnies and other domestic animals. In 2012 in particular, out of 733 dogs that PETA impounded, 602 were euthanized and only 12 adopted. These critters were killed in the name of love, with PETA’s founder Ingrid Newkirk claiming they had received the “gift” of euthanasia. This has gone beyond radical agendas, and more into the realm of cult madness. Even if associates of PETA have accomplished good deeds in its name, one cannot ignore the sheer magnitude of murder committed under guise of mercy and compassion. In reality, PETA is a hypocritical organization that fails to serve the cause of animal rights. With this being said, I admire general animal rights and foodsafety advocates. Hormones used in factory farms, though


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 16

Arts and Entertainment Calendar

Looking Forward : January MONDAY

TUESDAY 14

Album release Album release James Vincent McMorrow’s “Post Tropical” Genre: Indie folk Concert Hedley The Studio at Webster Hall 8 p.m. Sports Boys’ Varsity Basketball vs. Julia Richman Educational Complex 3rd floor gym @ 4:30 p.m. Sports Boys’ Wrestling vs. Canarsie Educational Campus 6th floor gym @ 5:00 p.m.

Concert St. Lucia Bowery Ballroom 8 p.m. Age restriction: 18+

Art exhibition David LaChapelle: “LAND SCAPE” Paul Kasmin Gallery (Chelsea) Available through March 1, 2014

Album release Sophie Ellie-Bextor’s “Wanderlust” Genre: Pop

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Album release Young the Giant’s “Mind Over Matter” Genre: Alternative rock Concert Cody Simpson Highline Ballroom 7 p.m. Sports Boys’ Varsity Basketball vs. Bayard Rustin Educational Complex 4:30 p.m

Art exhibition Keren Cytter: “HOME” Zach Feuer Gallery (Chelsea) Available through February 15, 2014 Art exhibition Danny Lyon: “Murals and Montages” Edwynn Houk Gallery (Midtown) Available through February 15, 2014 Sports Boys’ Junior Varsity Basketball vs. Martin Luther King Jr. 4:30 p.m.

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Concert Bastille Webster Hall 7 p.m.

THURSDAY 16

Concert A Great Big World Highline Ballroom 8 p.m.

FRIDAY 17

Movie release “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” Genre: Action, adventure Art exhibition Cast: Chris Pine, Group Show: “Illus- Kevin Costner, Keira trators 56: Part One” Knightley, Kenneth Society of IllustraBranagh tors (Upper East Side) Album release Available through Warpaint’s “WarFebruary 1, 2014 paint” Genre: Indie rock Sports Boys’ Varsity Basketball vs. Eleanor Roosevelt 4:30 p.m.

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Concert New York Philharmonic: Tchaikovsky Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center Spoken word, Open 7:30 p.m. Mic The Café at BroadArt exhibition way opening 310-318 West 53rd Solo exhibition: Street Anoka Faruqee 8:30 p.m. Koenig & Clinton Entrance: $10 (Chelsea) Available through Sports March 1, 2014 Girls’ Varsity Basketball vs. Economics and Finance 3rd floor gym @ 4:30 p.m.

SATURDAY 18

Concert Disclosure Terminal 5 7 p.m. The Zlatne Uste Golden Festival 2014 The Great Prospect Hall Brooklyn, NY 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Tickets: $45

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Art exhibition Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison: “Global Mapping” Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (Soho) Available through February 8, 2014 Art exhibition opening Carrie Mae Weems: “Three Decades of Photography and Video” Guggenheim Museum Available through May 14, 2014

Sports Boys’ Junior Varsity Basketball vs. Beacon 6th floor gym @ 4:30 p.m.

Yasmeen Roumie/ The Spectator

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Concert Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven Highline Ballroom 8 p.m.

Cynthia Zhou/ The Spectator

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WEDNESDAY 15

Cynthia Zhou/ The Spectator

SUNDAY


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 17

Arts and Entertainment Exhibition By Liana Chow New York City recently welcomed shining examples of Dutch culture—and mischief— in the form of 400-year-old paintings by masters such as Johannes Vermeer. The Frick Collection on the Upper East Side currently boasts fifteen of these paintings. For its exhibition, “Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis,” the Frick borrowed the paint-

The exhibition boasts “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” the most famous of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings, with a recent paint renovation.

ings on a loan from Holland’s

prestigious Mauritshuis museum, which is now being renovated. You should go see them; they’re worth the time. The exhibition depicts the thriving Dutch Golden Age of Painting for modern viewers. It is a testament to the greatness of Dutch artists that their paintings, full of color, emotion, and an emphasis on scenes from everyday life, remain resalable in the 21st century. Among the genres of painting featured, the most salient is the tronie, a portrait showing a stereotypical character, like a gypsy or a merchant, with an exaggerated expression. The rarity of Vermeer paintings adds to the exhibit’s appeal. Only 36 Vermeer paintings are known to exist, and nine are in New York now, with four in the Frick. Among these paintings, the most famous is “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” painted by Vermeer in 1665. Focused on the girl’s face, the painting is minimalist in composition. Vermeer shrouded both the girl’s whereabouts and identity; he painted only clues, such as the delicate light on her face and her clothing. Instead of a place and time, the reality that he immortalized is the unaltered image of a teenage girl in her youth. Recently, the fallen paint chips were cleaned up and the paint renovated to rejuvenate the famous subject,

bringing a freshness and clarity to her enigmatic face. She is cleaner than before, her lips and titular earring gleam more brightly, and her gray eyes stare out wistfully. Maybe she is daydreaming, or maybe she is observing the viewer as closely as we scrutinize her. The entire “Oval Room” of the Frick holds only this painting so that no viewer can ignore her gaze. The result is powerful. By contrast, the Frick’s other Vermeer paintings, not part of this exhibit, capture a person’s

His scenes, which could not have been posed for obvious reasons, roar with life.

daily life. “Officer and Laughing Girl” and “Girl Interrupted at her Music” feature upper-class Dutch people at their hobbies, in finely furnished settings.

Sora Kim / The Spectator

The Dutch Golden Age Shines in New York

They are representative of the Northern Renaissance on a whole, capturing its emphasis on port portraiture, landscape, and istoria (history painting) A portrait in the “tronie” style by Rembrandt, “Man with a Feathered Beret” (1640), hangs nearby. It depicts an oddly dressed person who likely never existed outside of the painting. He appears to be an exaggeration of frilly upper class members, such as the married couple painted by Frans Hals in his wedding portraits, “Jacob Olycan” and “Aletta Hanemans,” which flank the door to the rest of the exhibition. The couple is stiffly posed and dressed. Despite the pleasing symmetry, the large doorway separating the haughty man from the woman seems to doom their marriage. The carefree partiers in Jan

Steen’s paintings come as a relief. Rewardingly, Steen uses angelic faces, characteristic of Vermeer and Rembrandt’s work, to instead create an aura of mischief. His scenes, which could not have been posed for obvious reasons, roar with life. In “As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young,” toddlers are taught to smoke. Steen’s paintings reveal a lower class of the Netherlands, showing us that not all was as proper as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals tell us. After visiting the Frick’s exhibit, it’s not hard to believe that the Dutch artists thrived in their Golden Age and understand why so many museums strive to obtain their works. I encourage you all to see them for yourselves while we’re lucky enough to have these immortal paintings in New York City.

Cindy Li / The Spectator

A New Look on an Old Atrocity

By Claire Burghard For most of us, the almost inconceivable brutality of war is a distant abstraction—the kind of thing we read about in heavy textbooks or hear about on the news, but cannot resonate with. “WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY,” a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, intends to change that. The exhibit includes an incredibly diverse collection of war photography taken over the past 165 years, from the Mexican-American War to the current civil war in Syria. Its presentation techniques expose the various aspects of wartime that all wars possess, thereby creating a deep and meaningful illustration of the concept of war. Rather than separating photographs by time or place, the

exhibit establishes sections that each concentrate on a particular aspect of war, laid out in a relatively chronological fashion. As the viewer walks through the exhibit, the photographs’ arrangement—beginning with pieces of recruitment and ending with pieces of remembrance and impact—makes it feel as though he or she is witnessing wars develop, progress, heighten, and conclude. I first encountered photographs concerning training and preparation. This includes Cecil Beaton’s 1941 photograph of two English junior airmen sitting with determination and poise as they learn the skill of aircraft, and Robert Capa’s heartwarming 1944 scene of two female ambulance drivers, in uniform, knitting on a defaced sidewalk. Following these are photographs of com-

bat. Here, pieces capture the adrenaline and dynamic movement of combat and the heroism of those combating, both of which are exhibited in the U.S. Navy Photograph Team’s photo of the Japanese destroyer Yamakaze’s sinking. Others convey the community and love that exists among soldiers and the victims of war, such as Loomis Dean’s 1958 picture of Elvis Presley playing his guitar in uniform for his comrades. But the most violent and terrifyingly emotional photographs in the exhibit can be found in the sections on the effects of war. Pieces like Don MuCullin’s 1968 photo of a dead Vietnamese solider— eyes rolled back and splattered with blood, reaching his hand out to a pile of journals and memorabilia scattered in the

“War/Photography” creates a deep and meaningful illustration of the concept of war as a whole. mud—show war’s cold, cruel side. Felice Beato’s 1857 photo, taken after a hanging in Italy, conveys a similar emotion. The

helplessness of the victims of the hanging and the desolation of the setting suggest the loneliness of death by war execution. There are several photographs that, even standing on their own, are incredibly powerful pieces of art. John Adams Whipple and James Wallace Black’s 1857 portrait of John Brown sends chills through the viewer despite its simplicity. It perfectly captures the strong silhouette, rigid face, and cold, piercing eyes of the slaughterer who (debatably) started one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. Ziv Koren’s 2006 photograph of a snipers-eye view in the Southern Gaza strip is equally shaking: the viewer, now in the perspective of a sniper aiming at its running target, feels both the sniper’s anticipation and guilt. Conveying a different but still powerful emotion, Dimitri Balternant’s photograph of Russian soldiers in Germany in 1945, titled “Tchaikovsky, Germany,” exudes a peculiar sense of irony. As the men sit relaxed in the rubble of a freshly bombed house, listening to their comrade play Tchaikovsky on a somehow untouched piano, the dust from the attack lingers in the air and diffuses the light. The tranquility is profound and unexpected. Though very different in subject and concept, these photos expose a perspective of war that is unexpected and thoughtful. Every sub-display includes photographs from many, often unrelated wars. This design is key to the exhibit’s success. It

suggests that all wars have certain things in common and that war is a common aspect of human nature, no matter when

But while most of the pieces wouldn’t be considered masterpieces alone, the combined effect of the exhibit is a powerful one.

or where. Considering the collection’s impressive size, not every piece is equally riveting. But while most of the pieces wouldn’t be considered masterpieces alone, the combined effect of the exhibit is a powerful one. Leaving the exhibit, you might feel like you comprehend war more fully. But as the exhibit reveals war’s unbelievable, otherworldly truths, the thin protective glass between you and the photograph might come to feel like a mile thick.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 18

Arts and Entertainment Review

Stuy Squad 2013: A Stunning Showcase continued from page 1 Unlike Rave’s almost expected brilliant performance, Belly surprised us this year with a risque and passionate routine, contributing a piece of world culture to the show with an explosive amount of energy. The most captivating part of the routine occurred when all of the belly dancers twirled around slowly in stiff, upright stances as they gyrated their hips, causing the bell-like sequins on their hip scarfs to shake to the beat of the song. We have to applaud Belly for this daring choreography, as it toed the line of risk and grace, and ultimately created an invigorating performance. And of course, praise is needed for the comic relief provided by hosts DJ Lil Kidd Yung OG Gangsta Thug Shiloh (senior Nicholas Kaidoo), Shawn S-Dollaz Gilhooley (senior Shawn Gilhooley), and senior Junho Han, which included a number of corny puns, slapstick dance imitations, and a humorous and epic rap battle to close the show. Stuy Squad also boasted a number of featured dancers in this year’s performance, all of whom add a layer of flair and individuality to their respective routines. The KPOP crew became a huge sensation due to the appearance of junior Alexander Gabriel in the otherwise all girl group, and it was clear why. As the only male member of the group, Gabriel was a clear standout, and his ability to partake in this cute and upbeat, almost cheerleader-like dance ignited the crowd. Unfortunately, his hype alone could not cover the rest

of his group, many of whom appeared unconfident and shy on stage, leading a number of mess-ups and a sense of unfamiliarity and incoordination. As for Hip Hop, the Boys crew was unique in that each crew showcased a different and refreshing type of dancing, separate from the stereotypical style associated with hip hop. Boys Hip Hop A, for example, dressed in suits and opted for a more romantic style of dancing that fit the love ballads at the top of their routine. This later morphed into a classic rough-and-tough hip-hop style in which members tried to enact the roles of boxers, bouncing on the balls of their feet and throwing punches. The crew also featured a powerful solo of the newly formed UNit subcrew, which consists of juniors Brian Tran, Kevin Yip, Sadman Fahmid, and Joshua Chan. UNit was formed in 2012 when the friends were inspired to start dancing as a group, creating unique hip hop choreography that encompassed Tran’s urban contemporary and Yip’s breakdancing. Boys Hip Hop B chose a more classic hip hop style, creating a bad-boy routine centered on songs with heavy beats. B was full of fresh new faces, particularly from sophomores, but the boys pulled together a nice performance despite being a bit out of sync during the first song. With the help of senior Hudson Lee, Boys Hip Hop C was able to receive the praise and recognition needed to prove its talent. With a lackluster routine involving repetitive and rather awkward jumps and arm-waving

gestures, Boys Hip Hop C steered away from conventional hip hop but offered nothing absolute. Lee, however, came to the rescue and elicited gasps from the audience with his impressive backflipping abilities, giving the crew something to boast about. The Girls Hip Hop squads were unfortunately the complete opposite of their male counterparts, as they offered nothing particularly enticing or creative, though Girls Hip Hop B has definitely improved from last year to this year, especially with less hair swinging. All three squads portrayed fierce concepts with no lack of strut, and incorporated cliché moves such as body rolls and booty shakes. The playlist for C was deplorable, as one song broke off for the next, leaving the audience’s ears squeamish with choppy rhythm. In fact, Kaidoo sassily and jokingly commented on this, offended that they cut off “Queen Beyoncé.” More disappointing were performances done by Latin-O and Step, two dance crews that were highly anticipated before the actual performance. Latin-O performed a relatively simple routine that contained intricate footwork and demanded partner-to-partner communication, but it struck a sour note because the chemistry was not there. Besides the two center-most pairs on stage, the dancers of Latin-O fell short because they lacked the intrinsic confidence and fiery passion that are so crucial to a successful Latin dance. The performance would have been made more special if

the students who dance seriously outside of school were to demonstrate their talents onstage in solo performances rather than disappear into the crowd of novice dancers. As always, Step was commendable, especially with a creative routine focusing on this year’s popular “Cup Song” medley. Here, Step recreates this catchy rhythm with echoing claps and snaps coupled with almost flawless coordination, and includes a circle of Steppers sitting on the floor with the same routine, as if they were actually passing cups around. Unfortunately for Step, this could not top the impressive skills and fervor achieved during last year’s SING! performance in all three shows, and shows why Step took a backseat. Looking back at last year’s disappointed Stuy Squad review, it is clear that this year’s show has remarkably improved in comparison. There were still some ups and downs in this year’s performance, but overall, the show leaned somewhat more toward the positive spectrum with an eclectic collection of dances and routines. This year we would like to applaud the talent seen in Stuy Squad, the passion exhibited by each dancer, and the energy displayed by the crews as a whole. Even the dance party at the very end of the show was electrifying, as the crews merged together for a celebration with bright smiles, leaving the audience with an impression filled with gasp-worthy moves and well-deserved pride.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 19

Arts and Entertainment Theater

A Brilliant Farce It is no surprise that this production is such a hit and attracts so much attention on Broadway, just as it had in England. The superb acting, lighthearted and funny interpretations of Shakespeare’s text, and simple setting are all perfectly geated to appreciate the work itself.

There is far less gravity given to the parts of the play that could be interpreted as dark—Malvolio’s unjust imprisonment after being falsely accused of madness, for instance, could be disturbing, but is handled lightly and comes off as funny. Though this may detract from the few serious elements of the “dark” comedy, the play seems best suited to wholehearted humor and never seems to lack depth. The play is set very traditionally, taking no part in the common modernization of the setting of Shakespeare plays. The actors wear traditional costumes that they actually put on onstage (the audience is welcome to attend this 15-minute period prior to the show). They are accompanied by an extremely simple set, comprised of just two backdrops and some furniture, and the show is complemented by frequent interludes of 17th-century court music or drinking songs of the period. Elaborately arranged candles fill the stage and flicker with elegant light. The Belasco Theater also adds to the conservative environment. The opulent, Tiffany-designed interior and restored original woodwork give the inside of the theater a very traditional feeling. This

Rumours of Grouplove Grouplove is for the nights when my own life is too overwhelming and I would rather think about someone else’s drama. Their songs are not exactly carefree, but in singing bouncy songs about promiscuous parties, beaches, and love affairs, they still focus on social woes I usually don’t have the privilege to care about. While the band’s latest album, “Spreading Rumours,” may be little more than an extension of this previously explored theme, it demonstrates all the reasons I love their music. Grouplove is an indie rock band formed in 2009, when the members met by chance while traveling. The band released its first self-titled EP in 2010, and its first full album, “Never Trust A Happy Song,” in 2011, both of which established the artists’ upbeat tone about their laid-back lives. The lyrics of “Naked Kids” describe a typical Grouplove scene: “Cruising down the highway with my friends, top down, and we’re all on the way to the beach.” Despite the topic, the upbeat guitar and pleasing melodies always imply a casual tone. The rhythm is easy to follow, and the vocal harmonies are in simple thirds. Though Grouplove is perhaps not the most musically impressive band, their candidness is what makes their songs so appealing. Yet most of their messages are trite, focusing on relationships and emotions. Scattered throughout the lyrics are the occasional metaphors, but their meanings are rarely difficult to understand. The appeal of Grouplove lies instead in their simplicity and ability to stimulate their audience’s emotions through basic manipulative musical techniques. Part of what makes the Los Angelesbased band unique is its ability to insert the sea breeze and California attitude in their music. The dance beats, light piano and guitar melodies, and antsy lyrics (“I could never sit still because someone was always watching”) evoke compulsive foottapping and head-nodding that keeps the music interesting to listen to. I can’t really sit still while listening to Grouplove. Grouplove’s new development in “Spreading Rumours” is the employment of an obvious dramatic dynamic. The album starts with near silence in its first song, “I’m With You,” but slowly builds with the dramatic build of the rhythmic piano until the song is in full swing. The

helps the audience imagine that it is watching the show’s original production in the Globe. The turnout for “Twelfth Night,” especially over the Thanksgiving weekend, has been astounding. The Belasco Theater has filled the house every night. It is no surprise that this production is such a hit and attracts so much attention on

Broadway, just as it had in England. The superb acting, light-hearted and funny interpretation of Shakespeare’s text, and simple setting are all perfectly geared to appreciate the work itself. This production of “Twelfth Night” is an honest appreciation of Shakespeare’s genius and a well-spent three hours for all New York theater-goers this winter season.

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Music By Anne Duncan

Yujie Fu / The Spectator

continued from page 1

band employs distinctly shouty vocals, often using lead singers Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper’s harmonies to create more interesting patterns. In “Shark Attack,” for example, Zucconi and Hooper start in unison and use their harmony to build the song up to the regular passionate almost-yelling. Still, the transition between sweet singing and passionate shouting is usually easy to predict, due to the simplicity of the instrumental lines. This technique of rising and falling is not as common in Grouplove’s old music, which consisted mostly of blasting dance songs and a few slow songs. “Spreading Rumours” includes songs with a bit of both. Listening to the latest album, I am torn at times between gently swaying and energetically jumping to Grouplove’s quintessential party music. Some songs do not employ the backand-forth dynamic style typical of “Spreading Rumours,” but are instead either strictly loud or sleepy. “Save The Party For Me” (genuinely about going to sleep) and the bonus track “Girl,” for example, lull the listener into a state of anticipation for a party that might not come in the current song. Instead, the party springs back to life in the next one, as it did after “Girl” in “Flowers,” with a fast-paced acoustic guitar and drums. Some songs start loud and stay loud, such as the electric guitars and intense vocals in “Borderlines and Aliens,” while others consistently develop soothing guitar lines, as was the case in “Schoolboy.” The contrast between Grouplove’s pianissimo and fortissimo styles in this album creates a distinct dramatic contrast that reminds the listener that while life may be quiet now, things are about to start up, and as good as every party is, it must subside eventually. Grouplove simplifies their world to black and white, the way I sometimes need mine to be. They say what they think and play what they feel, but the whole experience is made convincing by the thrilling build from serenity to intensity, which takes your emotions on a ride through the album in spite of the simplicity of the notes along the way. While “Spreading Rumours” is not strikingly different from Grouplove’s first two albums, it continues to charm its audience with its dreamy tone, describing a cinematic life most of us cannot afford to live.


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The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Arts and Entertainment Video Game

By Geoffery Luu In 1991, Nintendo released the third entry in the Legend of Zelda video game series, titled “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” This entry introduced nearly all of the series’ traditions, and is remembered by many fans as the best in the series—the quintessential Zelda game. In November, Nintendo revisited the world it introduced over 20

years ago with the release of “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.” While the game is far from Nintendo’s most creative effort, it is still very entertaining, offering a high level of nostalgia and a handful of new mechanics to appeal to old and new players alike. “A Link Between Worlds” brings players back to the version of Hyrule kingdom introduced in “A Link to the Past,” complete with a castle, villag-

“Despite lacking in new material, the game successfully experiments with new mechanics and formats not seen previously in the series, and its combination of the classic and the unfamiliar make it an enjoyable experience and a worthy successor to ‘A Link to the Past.’”

es, and a variety of more hazardous environments. Those familiar with the layout of the previous game’s overworld will have no trouble navigating the mostly unchanged landscape. The game will feel very familiar to those who have played “A Link to the Past,” and seems just as much like a retread of its predecessor as it does a new game. Its plot is no exception. Major plot elements from “A Link to the Past” are reused with several adjustments. In “A Link to the Past,” the hero Link must stop the plans of Ganon, the king of thieves, who aims to use a wish-granting artifact called the Triforce to conquer Hyrule and the Sacred Realm, the place in which the Triforce is hidden. Ganon’s dark magic has corrupted the Sacred Realm, turning it into a twisted mirror version of Hyrule known as the Dark World. Link eventually defeats Ganon, restoring the Sacred Realm and saving Hyrule. At the start of “A Link Between Worlds,” Ganon has been sealed away for generations, but a new villain named Yuga plans to revive Ganon and take his power. A new incarnation of Link must repeat his predecessor’s deeds and seal Ganon away once more. This time, the Dark World has been replaced with a new kingdom called Lorule, which serves an identical purpose. Link must travel between the two kingdoms to hunt down and defeat Yuga. While the reuse of plot elements is not a serious flaw, the overall lack of originality is something of a let-down. While Link isn’t the type of person to work in groups, he gets help from an eccentric merchant named Ravio. Traditionally, Link found new weapons and items in each dungeon he navigated, making each of his quests relatively linear. This time, however, Ravio is willing to rent or

2.“Down in a Hole” by Alice in Chains Genre: Grunge 3.“Lies” by Fyfe Genre: Indie rock, alternative 4.“That’s All There Is” by The Black Ghosts Genre: Alternative, electronic 5.“Creep” by Radiohead Genre: Rock, grunge 6.“Heartbreaker” by Justin Bieber Genre: R&B, pop 7.“Bambi” by Tokyo Police Club Genre: Indie rock 8.“Winter Song” by The Head And The Heart

sell to Link any equipment he needs. As a result, the game takes on an open-world format in which Link can enter dungeons and defeat bosses in any order, as long as he has the right tools for the job. This is a welcome change from the series’ most recent entries, in which players had little freedom to choose their own path. Apart from the new item rental system and some minor technical overhauls in terms of audio and graphical quality, “A Link Between Worlds” doesn’t innovate very much. The overworld in both games is nearly unchanged, which seems unlikely, given the length of time between them. Bosses and music are recycled, and while this adds to the game’s nostalgic value,

The Hobbit

Playlist 1.“Willow” by Jasmine Thompson Genre: Indie

“In November, Nintendo revisited the world it introduced over 20 years ago with the release of ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.’”

it doesn’t do anything to set the two games apart. Given the large number of references to the previous game, the reuse of those elements feels unnecessary. Anyone who is not familiar with “A Link to the Past” probably won’t mind this, but players looking for a complete overhaul of the traditional Zelda formula will be disappointed, although they will find plenty of new material in the game’s dungeons. While the dungeons are all in the same general locations as they were in “A Link to the Past,” nearly all of them have been completely redesigned, seamlessly incorporating Link’s equipment into puzzle solving and combat. In addition, this version of Link has an ability that his predecessor lacked. Thanks to a bracelet given to him by Ravio, Link can transform himself into a two-dimensional painting to merge with and travel on walls, opening up new routes and possibilities for exploration and navigation. This new mechanic is somewhat awkward and unfamiliar at first, but its use is heavily encouraged and is a necessity for progressing, making it much easier to master, and thus, more fun to use. “A Link Between Worlds” succeeds on two fronts: it pays tribute to one of the Zelda series’ most fondly remembered entries and makes some innovations of its own, though, as a new installment in the series and not a remake, it could have used a few more. Despite lacking in new material, the game successfully experiments with new mechanics and formats not seen previously in the series, and its combination of the classic and the unfamiliar make it an enjoyable experience and a worthy successor to “A Link to the Past.”

Genre: Folk 9.“Shape of My Heart” by Sting Genre: Rock 10.“Went to War” by Amason Genre: Indie 11.“Infinity” by The xx Genre: Indie pop, alternative 12.“Ran Before the Storm” by Roo Panes Genre: Singer-songwriter 13.“Wild West Rain” by Jadea Kelly Genre: Singer-songwriter, folk 14.“Crystal Ball” by Grimes Genre: Electronic, singer-songwriter 15.“She’s 22” by Norah Jones Genre: Singer-songwriter

Judy Lee/ The Spectator

Cynthia Sze/ The Spectator

A Link Revisted


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 21

Arts and Entertainment Special

The Best of Disney By EMMA MCINTOSH and LEV AKABAS

Considering the revolution in animated films that occurred over the past two decades, it’s no surprise that Disney movies became a major part of the childhoods of an incredible number of today’s teens. As Disney continues to release high-quality animated motion pictures, we couldn’t help but look at the breakdown of films over the years. From the 1937 premiere of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to the recently released “Frozen,” nearly every Disney movie has astounded audiences worldwide with its score, animation, characters, and more. The following compilation consists of what are, in our opinion, the strongest Disney films. Bear in mind that we did not consider any Pixar or live-action films. Best Plot: The Lion King

Best Song: Mulan, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”

“The Lion King” is undoubtedly an emotional roller coaster of a movie when it comes to plot, but credit must be given where it is due. Not many realize that the storyline is drawn primarily from “Hamlet,” specifically the power-thirsty uncle’s betrayal followed by his nephew’s hunger for revenge. Nonetheless, it takes a considerable amount of originality and creativity to successfully adapt the classic story into a plot revolving around a pride of lions.

The dynamic rhythm of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” coincides with an equally exciting training sequence led by Captain Li Shang. However, the song’s sound isn’t its strongest attribute. The cleverly ironic lyrics are completely appropriate, as the plot centers around Mulan pretending to be a man. Then, later in the movie, several of the men even dress up as women. One of Disney’s most popular numbers, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” is also one of its most well-written and spirited tunes.

Other Nominees: Tarzan, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dumbo Best Sidekick: The Lion King (Timon and Pumbaa) The most enjoyable aspect of Disney movies may just be the main characters’ hilarious, helpful sidekicks. Mushu, voiced by Eddie Murphy, is arguably the funniest of these characters, but Timon and Pumbaa are the most lovable of all because of their carefree attitudes, as summed up by their motto, “Hakuna Matata.” They were so popular in “The Lion King” that Disney produced a movie titled “Lion King 1 1/2” in which they are the main characters. Other Nominees: Mulan (Mushu), Aladdin (Genie), The Little Mermaid (Sebastian), The Jungle Book (Baloo) Best Animation: Fantasia Surprisingly enough, this category is dominated by “Fantasia,” which came significantly before the revolution in animation. The animation is presented along with music from primarily classical composers, such as Beethoven and Stravinsky, and it weaves itself together with the rhythm of each song, creating beautiful and ahead-of-its-time imagery. The way the animators play with color during Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, in particular, is spectacular.

Other Nominees: The Lion King “I Just Can’t Wait to be King,” The Little Mermaid “Part of Your World”, Aladdin “A Whole New World,” Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” Best Villain: The Lion King (Scar) Has there ever been a scarier-looking animal than Scar? His creepy appearance, including his black mane, bright green eyes, and curved posture, is a feat of Disney’s animation. His solo song, “Be Prepared,” is terrifying enough to make kids skip the scene when watching the movie. Not to mention, Scar kills Simba’s father and convinces Simba that he is at fault, which is possibly the cruelest action of any Disney villain. Other Nominees: Aladdin (Jafar), Hercules (Hades), The Little Mermaid (Ursula), 101 Dalmations (Cruella de Vil)

Other Nominees: Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Tangled, Pocahontas Best Protagonist: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Quasimodo) Quasimodo’s sad story—an orphan closed off from the world by an evil master—makes him worthy of sympathy more than any other Disney character. As an outcast because of his deformed body who simply wants to fit in and belong, he is also very relatable. Lastly, he is sweet and caring, as shown by his loyalty to Frollo and the way he protects Esmerelda from her pursuers. Other Nominees: The Lion King (Simba), Mulan (Mulan), Lilo and Stretch (Lilo), Beauty and the Beast (Belle) Funniest: Aladdin

Alisa Su/ The Spectator

Stealing the spotlight in “Aladdin” is undoubtedly the Genie, voiced by Robin Williams, who evokes plenty of laughs during every appearance. The Genie’s ability to change into any shape he wants allows Disney to be creative with amusing animation. But there are several other hilarious side characters, including Jafar’s inane parrot Iago, who has an entertaining dynamic with his evil owner. Other Nominees: The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tangled, Frozen

Best Music: Frozen

Lydai Wu/ The Spectator

Songwriters (and husband and wife) of “Frozen,” Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, worked with composer Christophe Beck to create the movie’s astounding score. The soundtrack is already top on iTunes—and for good reason, as songs such as “Let it Go” and “For the First Time in Forever” are arguably catchier than other Disney songs. The score’s mixture of music inspired by traditional Norwegian songs and powerful pop ballads, all complete with exceedingly clever lyrics, places it at the top of this category. Other Nominees: Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas

Justin Chan / The Spectator

Best Movie: The Lion King With so many categories and even more amazing movies produced by Disney over the years, choosing one is nearly impossible. However, “The Lion King” has all the elements that you could ask for in a movie: an engaging plot; funny, relatable, and likeable characters; strong themes and messages driven home by touching scenes between Simba and his father, Mufasa; and a top-notch soundtrack written by Hans Zimmer and Elton John, featuring several classic songs. It’s arguably the most complete movie, as well as the most enjoyable one to watch, of all of Disney’s classics. Other Nominees: Aladdin, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 22

Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.

President Barack Obama was recently rejected by Harvard University.

By Daniel Kodsi According to a recent leak from an anonymous government official, President Barack Obama was denied entry into Harvard College in mid-December. Although he is a graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School, Obama told

The Spectator that without attending Harvard as an undergraduate, he would always consider himself a failure. “I don’t know what to do now,” the leader of the free world, who counts universal health care among his accomplishments, confessed in an interview. “I really believed that

Why it is Imperative to Go to an Ivy League School

By Ethan Schwab

There are countless reasons why going to an Ivy League school is the only way to get a real college education. So if you find yourself choosing between any other schools, you might as well skip college and join the army. First of all, college was invented solely so that upon graduating, students could impress people at cocktail parties. Stuyvesant alumnus and Harvard graduate Quinn Dinkleberry (‘03) boasted, “I am 30 years old and I wear loafers and a collared shirt to walk my dog. I also have

many friends—thanks Harvard!” In comparison, graduates of non-Ivy League schools, such as Tom Jones (‘02) of Davidson College, reportedly wear sweatpants to walk their dogs and have very few friends. This leads me to my next and final point, which is that anyone who goes to any other college is a peasant. Students at subpar universities like Middlebury or Carleton College actually have a layer of grease on their skin. Many contract severe chronic noninfectious diseases because the filth builds up in places like their ears and armpits, leading to osteoporosis.

There is one downside to attending an Ivy League school— you will be heavily prone to suffering from first-world problems. For example, studies have shown that graduates from the prestigious sports league frequently receive sandwiches cut horizontally, even when they very clearly request diagonal cutting. Furthermore, restaurants that Ivy League graduates go to often only have Pepsi when the graduates want Coke. Though these issues are grave and protestworthy, they are a small price to pay for the wonder that is an Ivy League education.

Lower East Side Story: Red Cross and ARISTA Clash in Violent Gang Feud By Bill Chang The Stuyvesant community was shocked last week when news concerning two of the school’s most beloved service organizations surfaced. In an elaborate sting operation, the administration— specifically, Assistant Principal of Safety, Security, and Student Affairs Brian Moran; the New York City Police Department; and social studies teacher Linda Weissman’s Criminal Law class—discovered that the Red Cross Club and ARISTA are actually rival gangs operating out of the East and Hudson staircases, respectively. Suspicions first arose when Red Cross members received volunteer hours for participating at events where their attendance was unsubstantiated. Junior Tony Fung’s name appeared on the Red Cross hours sheet for volunteering at a homeless shelter for parakeets with type 1 diabetes on Wednesday, December 18. Fung’s friend, however, who asked to remain anonymous, held that Fung made no mention of the event. “Then he ran off to Modell’s and Tribeca Hardware to pick up a Louisville Slugger and three rolls of duct tape. Seemed a little weird to me,” the anonymous friend said. When questioned about his purchases, Fung asserted that they were for “an Intel project.” In

a morning press conference, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed that “the splintered bat and half-used rolls were discovered in the East Staircase, along with multiple Red Cross wristbands and a box set of The Sopranos.” At that time, ARISTA members were under inspection for fabricating tutoring hours. Sleuths were tipped off to the organization’s dubious activities when they realized that, though records indicate that members had roughly four million hours of tutoring in health, the student body showed no progress in the subject. When asked about tutoring he allegedly received from junior Maria Kollaros, sophomore Alonzo Ding broke down in tears. “She broke my kneecaps and threatened to shave my facial hair if I didn’t fill out the form,” Ding said. “They have to be stopped.” At the head of Red Cross is gang boss and sexting convict G-ten Paddle. Though he has had close scrapes with the authorities in the past, Paddle has mysteriously disappeared in the wake of new accusations. Described by his associates as “cunning, ruthless, and sinister,” Paddle should not be taken lightly, given his impeccable accuracy when shooting pictures and his self-proclaimed universal knowledge. (He was once quoted as saying that he knew everything.)

Leading ARISTA is criminal mastermind Christine Xu. She is an exemplary student, but her credentials should not fool anyone: Xu is trained in the ancient martial art of Latin dance. She is thought to be connected to the multiple backstage deaths during Soph-Frosh SING! 2012, the victims of which were discovered with confusingly fabulous blunt trauma to the head. Though Xu has also gone into hiding, we believe it is imperative that students, especially young couples, do not venture into the Hudson Staircase until further notice. “It’s dangerous in there,” Student Union President Edward Zilberbrand said. “Be a gentleman and take her out to a nice dinner instead.” Getting rid of the two hostile factions has been easier than expected. Tension between the groups has been building in recent years, and the revelation of their true motives has sparked violence. During a recent standoff in the senior atrium, the gangs drew knives and proceeded to perform a choreographed dance number, leaving Fung and ARISTA Vice President Eric Zhang mortally wounded. Tickets for the spring premiere of the Broadway adaptation are now available, and proceeds will be donated to the charity Parakeet Owners Opposing Poverty and EarlyOnset Diabetes.

I could get in this time around. I suppose I just didn’t have enough AP’s. I do know my essays weren’t the problem, though, since I got really good at writing while I was President of the Harvard Law Review. I also feel that Dreams from My Father (one of my numerous New York Times bestsellers), which I sent in as a supplement, dealt insightfully with race relations in the United States,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said bitterly. “To be honest, I thought the recent nuclear deal I negotiated with Iran would impress the admissions officer, and I was under the impression my interview had gone really well—I mean, after all, I dominated Mitt in the Presidential Debates on both domestic and foreign policy,” the world’s most powerful man continued. “And while I might not have actually built any houses in Africa recently, I figured that having the United States continue to pay for almost a quarter of the United Nations budget would show that I care about the poor and their suffering.” Further investigative reporting by the Spectator found that the twotime winner of the United States popular and electoral vote had only

received a 2310 on his SATs, having absolutely bombed the mathematics section. “They were careless mistakes!” the former Senator and Professor of Constitutional Law at University of Chicago Law School lamented. “And although I did earn an 800 on my Math 2 and Physics subject tests, I guess I should have abandoned hope after not becoming one of the nation’s top ten Intel Science Talent Search finalists or getting an article published about me in New York Magazine,” the country’s first African-American president acknowledged. When asked to comment, the Harvard admissions officers claimed that Obama’s failure to distinguish himself by receiving the Academy Award for Best Actor had been the clincher in their decision. “Everything else looked good,” one member of the Admissions Panel said. “But since he only graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, not summa, we felt that taking Lloyd Fitzgerald, a national badminton champion and triple legacy from Phillips Exeter Academy, was in the college’s better interests.”

Senior Fielding Several D-1 Offers By Robert Melamed

The country is on the edge of its seat as highly recruited all-star and Stuyvesant senior William Chang has just announced that he is close to making his decision regarding where he will play club lacrosse in college. Chang, who began his lacrosse career at the age of seven, has developed into one of the borough’s most lethal scorers. At press time, Chang narrowed down his top choices to Cornell, Princeton, and Syracuse—all great lacrosse powerhouses. When asked about how he attained his level of play, Chang attributed much of his success to “missed practices, bogies, and Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey,” he said. Club team recruiters have been following Chang around games through his entire Stuyvesant lacrosse career. “The most important thing we look for is improvement,” Cornell Club Lacrosse coach, captain,

and frat boy John Manzfeld said. “Chang may have not filled up the stat sheet freshman or sophomore year, but we see that he had a big junior year finishing up with two minutes played and one ground ball.” Stuyvesant has been long been known as a feeder team to D-1 club programs all across the country. “Sure, it may not be the actual varsity team, but I’m playing lax and getting girls, and that’s all that matters,” Chang said. “D-1? Club? Intramural? It doesn’t make a difference to me, D-1 level commitment never stops.” The lacrosse team has supported Chang through these difficult times. “Dude, I haven’t seen him at practice since freshman year,” senior and captain Noah Kramer said. It is believed that the wait will soon be over and that Chang will announce where to take his talents on national television early next week.

What Did the Dean Just Confiscate?

By Spencer Weiss Sharar Rasha’s ID - 9% Someone’s hopes and dreams - 18% Some pocket lint - 10% A stick of gum - 8% Senior Samuel Fuch’s gun rights - 16%

“Rasha Burnz”’s mixtape- 10% Chico feo - 8% A set of dice - 6% A single sock - 3% A cell phone - 4% Hearts - 8% Nothing - 0%

Yueer Niu / The Spectator

• Bill de Blasio gives the city 8 inches during his first night as mayor. • NSA official Jerry Stockman announced the cessation of spying on the American people last week because “they are so freaking boring.” • New evidence reveals that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie blocked three lanes of traffic last September by standing in the middle of the road. • Teenage girl and Stuyvesant senior gets ask.fm questions asking if she wears a thong and if she would hook up with a sophomore. • Expecting the start of the New Year to finally bring change, people everywhere are dismayed to realize that they still feel perpetually lonely and long-term happiness still doesn’t exist.

President Obama Rejected by Harvard University

Courtesy of Liberty Voice and Weasel Zippers

Newsbeat


The Spectator â—? January 14, 2014

Boots

By the Photo Department

Page 23


The Spectator â—? January 14, 2014

Page 24

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The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 25

Sports Point-Counterpoint: Divisions in the NBA The Not-So-Great Divide Divisions in the NBA are Here to Stay By Anthony Cheang

The NBA has always been a league with two conferences. Ever since its conception, it has separated its teams into East and West. However, everything changed in the 1970-71 season. The NBA was facing radical changes. Expansion of the league and the inclusion of 17 new teams forced the NBA to separate its teams into two conferences, with two divisions each. This remained the format until the inclusion of even more teams, which inflated the total number to 30 in 2004, leading to the two-conference, six-division league that we have today. However, given the current state of the league, divisions have proven to be detrimental for the NBA. Under the current system, all division winners must be awarded top-four seeds and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, regardless of their records in comparison with those of other teams in the conference. However, the

The fact that a team with a losing record could get a free ride to the top four is unfair to say the least. seeding system shows its flaws in years such as this one, in which the entire Atlantic Division is posting an abysmal 72-110 record. If the trend continues, some Atlantic Division team will end up limping into the playoffs with something like a 38-44 record, or possibly even worse. But the question is, does that team deserve that spot? The answer is a resounding no. Teams in the NBA kill over playoff seeding, in order to gain crucial home court advantages that could sway any playoff series, and the fact that a team with a losing record could get a free ride to the top four is unfair to say the least. Divisions exist, in theory, to ease travel and promote inter-divisional rivalries, but it does neither of these things. Regardless of divisions, proximity itself would promote these rivalries. I mean, look at Los Angeles. The Clippers and Lakers play in the same building! It’s clear that the eradication of divisions would not end that rivalry. In fact, teams in different divisions have great rivalries too. Look at the Knicks and the Pacers: after bitter playoff encounters from the past, most notably the grueling battles in the mid-1990s, they hate each other. With or without divisions, they would still hate each other. The same goes for teams such as the Celtics and Lakers, which make up one of the greatest rivalries in sports history. They’re not in the same division, but their rivalry is perhaps the bitterest in the NBA simply due to how good both teams have been in their franchise histories. The argument that divisions reduce travel is equally weak. Theoretically, teams play division opponents four times a year in order to lessen travel. However, they

The fact of the matter is, people don’t care about other teams in their division, and so automatically giving the division winner a spot in the playoffs does not necessarily attract more viewers. also happen to play six of their remaining conference rivals, who aren’t in the same division as them, four times per season as well, and the remaining three teams in the conference three times each. Dividing the league into Eastern and Western conferences reduces travel. Divisions do not. The Boston Celtics, who are in the Atlantic Division, play the division rival New York Knicks in the freezing North just as many times as they play the Orlando Magic down in warm Florida. The argument that divisions are created so teams from every part of the U.S. make it to the playoffs, and thus promote better television viewing, is invalid. The fact of the matter is, people don’t care about other teams in their division, and so automatically giving the division winner a spot in the playoffs doesn’t necessarily attract more viewers. I’m a Celtics fan, but if they get knocked out of the first round (like they probably will), I would cheer for the Spurs, not the Raptors, simply because they play in the Celtics’ division. The Celtics and the Knicks have a long withstanding rivalry. If the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs, nobody from New York would suddenly jump onto the Celtic bandwagon. A team from a given division making the playoffs doesn’t equate to the people living in that division watching their playoff games. Basketball fans watch the teams that they like. Generally, fans do not care about division winners. The league has tried to minimize rewards for divisional winners as much as possible, only guaranteeing them a top-four seed. However, this rule becomes irrational when there are many nondivision-winning teams worthy of higher seeds but at a disadvantage because they play in stronger divisions and face off against tougher opponents. Divisions are simply not worth this much trouble. The NBA should just use a two-conference system and pick the top eight teams in to make the postseason. Playoff positions should be determined by skill, not by the chance that a team could get lucky and land in a terrible division. With all the problems the NBA has with balancing fairness between the East and the West, getting rid of divisions is a first step to having a fairer system for the entire NBA.

By Rayyan Jokhai The NBA first implemented the current six-division system in the league during the 2004-05 season. This was the same season in which the Charlotte Bobcats franchise was revamped, allowing a 30-team league to be split into divisions of five teams each. The system was first brought into the NBA to promote competition between teams of close proximity and change the dynamics in which the playoff standings were decided. Recently, however, soon-to-be league commissioner Adam Silver said on the NBA Sirius radio channel that ridding the league of its divisions has been a topic of conversation for quite a while now. “Historically, based on geography in terms of ways to schedule and convenience of travel, the goal [of divisions] was to enhance rivalries, and I’m not sure if that’s still what’s happening,” Silver said. “That’s something I’m sure the competition committee, when they next meet, will be taking a fresh look at.” With all due respect to Silver, getting rid of divisions in the NBA is not a good idea at all. I see significant reasons for the league to keep divisions, the first of which is organization. The division system in the NBA neatly separates each conference into three sets of five teams. This aids in the coordination of the NBA schedule, making it much easier to decide who plays which teams and when. Making a convenient schedule with 15 team blocks would be difficult, as pointed out by Steve Aschburner, an NBA.com writer. While the life of an athlete may appear glamorous on the outside, with fame, a hefty paycheck, and the ability to practically play a game for a living, the behindthe-scenes work isn’t pretty at all. With the grueling practices, workouts, and competitive games, players could use a break whenever and wherever possible. Keeping divisions ensures that each team will play the other four teams in its division four times. Since the divisions are grouped by geographic location, the plane travel time is significantly lessened, as the distance between cities is decreased. As fun as a life traveling from city to city may seem, doing it on a nightly basis and having to

To prevent further injuries, the NBA should keep divisions so that the time that players spend moving from city to city is minimized. play a 48-minute game of basketball afterwards definitely takes a toll on the body. Divisions also prevent player injuries. NBA players already have to make sure that their bodies are in the best possible shape. They need to make sure that they don’t suffer any injuries whatsoever, because their careers literally rest on their ankles and knees. With so many star players going down to injuries this season, NBA fans have been robbed of seeing as much great talent as they could have. To prevent further injuries, the NBA should keep divisions so that the time that players spend moving from city to city is minimized. Traveling can seriously irritate the body, causing muscles to tighten up, which can cause injuries. These injuries need to be prevented in as many ways as possible, and divisions aid in this cause by lessening the wear and tear on athletes. Divisions also promote regional rivalry, which is something that fans can get excited for. While everyone is excited about the next time the Miami Heat play the Oklahoma City Thunder, having division rivals allows fans from each region to look forward to watching their home team face off against that of the neighboring state. This brings more excitement and viewers to the games between teams that don’t have superstars like LeBron James or Kevin Durant and makes these games matter more, because the winner of each division automatically gets the benefit of a home-court advantage in the playoffs. This fuels interest in more NBA games and, again, brings revenue to the league. In addition, divisions make a greater percentage of the games in a team’s schedule meaningful. While each team wants to win the most games as possible, the added motivation of securing a top-four spot makes teams compete even harder against each other when they are from the same division. The division system is part of the MLB, NFL, and the NHL. There is no sig-

While everyone is excited about the next time the Miami Heat play the Oklahoma City Thunder, having division rivals allows fans from each region to look forward to watching their home team face off against that of the neighboring state. nificant reason for the NBA to be the odd man out in terms of major American professional sports leagues. The six-division league system was only implemented in 2004, and sure, there may be a few flaws in it. While it may need to be tweaked a little to be perfected (juggling teams around or increasing the number of games a team plays against those in its division), in the end, it should remain an integral part of the NBA.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 26

Sports Girls’ Basketball

Ella McAndrews / The Spectator

Phoenix Keep Cruising

Junior Sophie Gershon shoots a free throw for the Stuyvesant Phoenix in the first quarter of their January 8 game against the West 50th Street Campus Lady Seahawks.

Phoenix Fly Past Falcons By Jason Lee Coaches are always satisfied when their teams build up big leads early in the game, allowing coaches to play bench players who normally don’t get an opportunity to play. Coach Vincent Miller was able to do just that on Wednesday, December 18, when the Phoenix stormed into the High School of Fashion Industries Falcons’ gym and the game was over just minutes after it started. Stuyvesant started the first quarter with great ball movement thanks to junior Lauren Sobota, who recorded 13 assists and created numerous opportunities for her teammates. The Falcons managed to score only four points during the first quarter due to mid-range inaccuracy, and the Phoenix’s capitalized on their opponents’ scoring drought with dynamic

offense. At the end of the first quarter, the Phoenix had taken a commanding 21-4 lead. “We moved the ball around really well and our shots were falling,” Sobota said. “We were quicker, smarter, and overall better than them.” At halftime, the Phoenix led 38-8. “I think that the game really swung in our favor early in the game, when we started playing aggressive defense and [causing] turnovers,” co-captain and senior Marie Frolich said. Junior Sophie Gershon played a major role both on the offensive and defensive ends, grabbing 11 offensive and 12 defensive rebounds. But in the third quarter, the Falcons came out trying to cut their large deficit. They were able to cause a few turnovers and, outside of Gershon, the Phoenix struggled to grab rebounds. The Falcons took advantage and gained

momentum when they scored six unanswered points. “We definitely need to work on our boxing out,” junior Megan Mullaney said. “With [Gershon] being our only real height on the team, the only chance for others to get rebounds is to box out.” However, the Phoenix destroyed any ensuing momentum by closing out the quarter on an 8-2 run, enabling everybody on the bench to play. The reserves played with the same intensity and level as the starters. Sophomore Alexis Kushner was a major contributor to the bench’s great play, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds, and the Phoenix won 64-22. “I think that a lot of people who came off the bench today—Lise [Ho], [Kushner], and Christina [Chong] in particular—played really well,” Frolich said. The Phoenix have started the season on fire and finished the 2013 year strong. The road will only get more difficult for them, and they will need to commit fewer turnovers and rebound better. “Our 4-0 record has definitely brought us confidence, but by no means are we underestimating how good the other teams we’ll be playing this season are,” Sobota said. Phoenix Roast Panthers By Zhe Lee Lob. Catch. Layup. This was the play the Phoenix executed on repeat in their transition offense against the unorganized defense of the Thurgood Marshall Panthers. After a painful

32 minutes for the Panthers, the score was 78-29, and the Phoenix added another win to their undefeated record of 6-0. The Panthers certainly didn’t seem like they were on

“Today’s game was definitely one of the best we’ve played all year. We moved the ball around really well and our shots were falling.” —Lauren Sobota, junior and co-captain their own home floor, as the Phoenix bullied their way into the paint for a 21-8 first-quarter lead. They manhandled the Panthers with great half-court and full-court defense, ultimately forcing the Panthers to turn the ball over and force up bad shots to avoid committing shot clock violations. Moreover, the Phoenix converted the Panthers’ turnovers into fast break

layups, making it seem as if the Phoenix were practicing lay-up lines. Lack of transitional defense and organized half-court defense from Thurgood Marshall led to easy points for the Phoenix. At one point during the third quarter, all five Panthers converged on sophomore Alexis Kushner, who quickly passed the ball outside to a nearby teammate for an easy dishand-swish. As far as dish-andswishes go, the Phoenix had 20 assists on 34 field goals. Juniors Lauren Sobota and Sophia Gershon led the charge with respective double-doubles, combining for totals of 42 points, 15 assists, and 30 rebounds, all of which were more than those of the entire Panthers team. With spectacular court vision, Sobota was able to pass to open teammates using an arsenal of nonchalant but on-target cross-court lobs and no-look passes, tallying 10 assists on her own. “I was very comfortable with [Sobota’s] decisions. She is a very experienced player and knows how to move the ball,” coach Vincent Miller said. Gershon was also the Panthers’ worst nightmare in the interior, grabbing nine offensive rebounds, which led to more possessions for the Phoenix, furthering the gap between the two teams. With a relatively easy win, the Phoenix have climbed another rung in the ladder toward the postseason. If this type of play continues, they have hopes of besting last year’s 12-3 record and going deep in the playoffs.

Boys’ Swimming

Pirates Bounce Back from Bronx Science Nail-Biter to Shut Out Hunter By Grace Lu After an unexpected nailbiter against Bronx Science two days before winter recess, the Pirates entered Hunter High School with less confidence than usual for a regular season meet. They had soundly defeated the Hunter Hawks by a 30point margin last year and expected another victory, but after barely edging the Bronx Science Wolverines by six points, the Pirates learned the consequences of overconfidence. Last year, the Pirates decisively quashed the Bronx Science Wolverines by 31 points. But in their match on Thursday, December 19, 2013, the Wolverines proved to be much stronger than the Pirates expected. As the score fluctuated between the two teams, the meet came down to the final events. In the end, however, Stuyvesant propelled to victory from four points behind.The Pirates clinched first and second place in the 100-yard breaststroke and first and third in the last 400-yard freestyle relay. The winning relay was comprised of sophomores Aaron Glas and Peter Strbik, junior Victor Gaitour, and senior and cocaptain Brandon Koo. “I knew our last three events count as

our best events, so I wasn’t too concerned. The team was a lot more concerned than I was,” coach Peter Bologna said. The Pirates, however, had never encountered such tight meets against non-powerhouse teams like Bronx Science. “It was crazy that it came down to the last race; it never happens like that to us during the regular season. So our relay came together and said, ‘Listen, we have to do this,’” Glas said. Strbik, who swam back-to-back races and won the breaststroke event, swam a season best of 51.58 in the relay. Glas and Gaitour broke their personal records with times of 52.36 and 52.67, respectively. Highlighting the emotional strain placed on the team, many of the swimmers became misty-eyed after the race. “If there’s one thing we learned from the Bronx Science meet, it’s that we can’t take any wins for granted,” Koo said. With the unexpectedly close Bronx Science meet fresh in everyone’s minds, the atmosphere at Hunter was tense. Some swimmers anticipated another nail-biting and strenuous meet. “People were pretty demoralized because we came really close to losing the Bronx Science meet,” Koo said. This matchup against Hunt-

er was the first meet of the new year. During the holiday break, the Pirates had no pool to prac-

“It was crazy that it came down to the last race; it never happens like that to us during the regular season. So our relay came together and said, ‘Listen, we have to do this.’” —Aaron Glas, sophomore tice in, so the team worked out in the school gym to stay in shape. Despite only one practice in the water the day before

the meet, Bologna had high expectations. He put into the pool “a very good lineup, because this is our ranking meet for playoffs,” he said, pointing to the fact that the meet’s results would be used to formulate the 2014 playoff brackets. Following an anxious warmup, the Pirates started the meet with a bang. The team’s 200yard medley relay finished first and third, followed by a onetwo victory in the 200-yard freestyle. The Pirates carried this momentum through the rest of the meet, accumulating a total of eight one-two finishes. By the end, the atmosphere was more relaxed. “This win was good for our morale after last meet,” Koo said. Notable performances included Koo’s 100-yard backstroke, in which he swam a personal best of 55.83—nine seconds faster than the Hunter swimmers—and the 100-yard freestyle, in which Strbik and Guo broke personal records with first and second place times of 50.17 and 56.62, respectively. The team went unofficial for the final three events and dominated Hunter with a final score of 55-36. “Having those two [Bronx Science and Hunter] behind us means a lot to the team, be-

cause now it’s about qualifying for Opens,” Bologna said. “Our focus is to build to a taper.” The team will continue to perfect technique, specifically “starts, breathing in and out of turns, and underwaters,” Bologna said. Unfortunately, starts will be difficult to practice because the Pirates’ current pool at Seward Park does not contain starting blocks. The Stuyvesant pool, however, is scheduled to be ready by playoff season. “Our more attainable goal for this year, [as opposed to winning the City Championships,] is to win back the A Championship Cup,” Koo said. The A Championships, commonly known as “Opens,” allows every team to enter four qualified swimmers in each event. “This would help us play to our strengths because, overall, we have a very well-balanced team, even if we don’t have some of the stand-out swimmers that some of the other schools may have.” With less than a month to the A Division Championships and two weeks away from the final regular season meet, the Pirates have completed the grind of the season. With non-powerhouse teams posing a threat to the Pirates’ dominance, it is clear that this playoff season will be one of their most challenging.


The Spectator ● January 14, 2014

Page 27

Sports Not Your Typical Stuy Alum continued from page 28

be at this school and to be at the highest academic level, and how well you have to do on the test to get in, and the fact that the students come here to be the leaders of the next generation. So there’s a huge honor and responsibility that comes with going to this school, because you are the best,” Scott said. Scott was then recruited by the University of North Carolina (UNC), a groundbreaking move that made him the first black scholarship athlete in the school’s history. In fact, this paved the way for future UNC basketball stars, including Michael Jordan. Scott also became the first African-American to join a fraternity while at col-

lege. While these achievements evidently came later on, Scott recalls that his experiences as a black scholar-athlete during the heart of the civil rights movement are rooted in Stuyvesant. But he also notes that he does not remember experiencing race discrimination at Stuyvesant. “When I came [to Stuyvesant], the school was not very diverse. I was one of only a few African American students, but it was an important experience to open myself up to different kinds of people,” he said. After making a name for himself at UNC by leading them to two Final Four appearances, Scott was drafted by the Boston Celtics. He opted, however, to play for the Virginia Squires of the ABA—the younger and flashier up-and-coming league. Scott

jumped right out of the gate by winning Rookie of the Year in 1971. The following year, in only his second season, he led the league in scoring by averaging over 34 points per game, while simultaneously proving his versatile talent by recording close to five rebounds and five assists per game. Seeking the bigger crowds and tougher competition of the more established NBA, Scott signed with the Phoenix Suns. Despite maintaining his impressive individual statistics, Scott returned to the team that drafted him, the Boston Celtics, in search of better team success. It all came together when he united with Hall-of-Famers John Havlicek and Dave Cowens to win it all in Boston. “[My favorite memory of my career] was win-

ning a championship with the Boston Celtics,” Scott said. Because Scott’s best years occurred when he played in the lesser-known ABA, and because his career only lasted until his very early thirties, he is often overlooked in the scope of basketball history, but his resume is that of an all-time great. In fact, boys’ varsity basketball coach Philip Fisher believes that he is one of the fifty greatest players in the sport’s history. During his visit, Scott stopped by Fisher’s basketball elective to give the students a few words of advice. He talked about how in America these days, it is common for people to accept mediocrity, and that it is the obligation of Stuyvesant students to break boundaries and strive to be the best. “Stuyvesant just taught me

to challenge myself in everything that I did in life, and it gave me confidence to go forward and do what I wanted to do,” Scott said. When I asked Scott about what has changed the most about Stuyvesant over the past fifty years, he replied with a big smile, “The biggest difference is that when I was here there were no girls.” Though the people, location, and diversity of Stuyvesant are clearly different from when Scott attended, he believes that the core principles of the school still remain. “The school has changed a lot, but the idea behind the school is still that the students here are going to be the leaders of the next generation, and that hasn’t changed,” Scott said.

Boys’ Basketball

Peglegs Start to Turn Things Around Peglegs Continue Win Streak Against Art and Design By Rayyan Jokhai The Peglegs looked to rebound from a dismal 1-3 start to the season at their game against the High School of Art and Design Bulldogs. Students packed the sixth-floor gym to the brim on Thursday, December 19 to help get the team back on track. The Peglegs eked out a victory, but they will have to play better if they hope to make playoffs this year. The first quarter began slowly, as both teams struggled to find any rhythm due to their countless turnovers and wasted possessions. Neither team was able to move the ball to their side of the court when getting turnovers or intercepting passes. Stuyvesant suffered early, as they were unable to find the basket. To add to this, senior Imtiaz Hssan, a major offense player, picked up his second foul only 40 seconds into the first half, As a result, Hssan had to sit for the remainder of the half, only adding to the team’s inability to score on its offensive possessions. Despite this early setback, the Peglegs took a 4-0 lead and was able to hold on to it, ending the first quarter up 6-5. Despite their lead, the Peglegs knew they had to polish their offensive performance and convert on their side of the court. In the second quarter, both

teams continued to perform poorly. Stuyvesant looked to be on a roll after finally converting on a forced turnover with an easy open layup, but their subsequent play mirrored that of the first quarter. The Bulldogs rarely worked the ball inside and seemed to settle for three-points shot every time down the court. However, they didn’t make a single three-pointer the entire quarter. Stuyvesant was able to score six points during the second quarter and hold the Bulldogs scoreless, going into halftime with a 12-5 lead. Coming out of half-time, the team knew that it had to gain much momentum. Coach Philip Fisher knew that he had to motivate the team to play harder on the defensive end, which in turn would lead to better offensive possessions. “I told the team that the shots would fall if the effort was the same on the defensive end. I knew that if we did that, we would get our running game going,” Fisher said. Stuyvesant proceeded to push the ball up the court and force their opponents back on their heels on defense. The Peglegs moved the ball along the perimeter much more effectively, allowing them to gain easier shot attempts. “During the second half, we were able to play our style of basketball. We were able to play smarter and give ourselves more space, which helped during the third quarter,” junior Konrad Krasucki said. With ma-

jor improvements in their play, especially on converting fast breaks into points, the Peglegs outscored Art and Design 20-9, riding on an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs tried to make strides in cutting down their deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter. However, their efforts were repeatedly thwarted by Stuyvesant pushes on offense. In addition, the Bulldogs rallied solely behind one player (#11, whose name was not available on the PSAL website), making it easy for Stuyvesant to stop the threat. “Despite our slow start, we were able to stay strong on defense throughout the entire game, and eventually our offense came through for us,” senior and captain Matthew Dalton said. The Peglegs outscored their opponents in the fourth and final quarter, winning the game 45-26. Stuyvesant looks to build on this two-win streak, as they face Norman Thomas High School in their next game. “Hopefully, we can continue to play with this defensive intensity that brings us success and makes up for our lack of height and speed,” Fisher said. With Season on the Line, Peglegs Deliver Against Hawks By Chris Kim 2014 was not a fresh start for the Peglegs. After losing two

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back-to-back games, the Peglegs entered their third away game of the week frustrated and disappointed. A third consecutive loss would leave the Peglegs second to last in their division, squashing all hopes for a berth in playoffs. To make matters even worse, the Peglegs were up against the Hunter High School Hawks, who were also looking to break a two-game losing streak but had a much more successful record of 6-2. However, against all the odds, the Peglegs came together to bring out their true potential on the court, taking a much-needed 55-35 victory over the Hawks. “We came in here with the mindset that this is do or die for the season,” senior and captain Matthew Dalton said. With the exception of a few turnovers and wide passes, the Peglegs started the first quarter off well. They came in with a substantially improved offensive game, consistently breaking the Hawks’ press defense with crisp passes and good decision-making, which led to wide-open shot and lay-up opportunities. “We worked a lot on spacing and not getting flustered by the press right away, and today we did a great job of moving the ball without the dribble,” Dalton said. On the defensive end, the Peglegs actively pressured the ball, forcing multiple turnovers and causing the Hawks to take some poor

shots. During the first quarter, the Hawks had to call two timeouts within a five-second interval because of their inability to cope with the Peglegs’ defense. The Peglegs were already up 15-2 at the end of the first quarter and looked forward to only increasing the gap. The second quarter, and even the entire second half, followed a similar storyline. Though some of the Hawks’ shots began to fall in, the Peglegs were able to shut down any potential signs of a comeback. The Peglegs continued to run their offense and communicate on defense; consequently, the team never lost control of the game. “What changed for us was that we were talking on both offense and defense, and we were able to slow it down today,” senior Imtiaz Hssan said. The convincing victory over the Hawks wasn’t just a simple addition to the Peglegs’ number of wins. It was a crucial morale booster and a pivotal turning point for the Peglegs’ season. “We had to prove to ourselves that we can beat this team, and if we can beat this team, we can beat all the teams in their division,” junior Arlex Gole said. With two crucial home games coming up for the Peglegs, they will have to bring in the same passion and intensity to keep their playoff hopes alive.


January 14, 2014

Page 28

The Spectator SpoRts Wrestling

Taras Klymyuk (left) goes against Wingate opponent on Thursday, December 19.

By Eric Morgenstern Junior Dylan Li, a secondyear Stuyvesant wrestler, stepped up to the scorer’s table. Only the referee stood between him and his opponent: the Wingate Generals’ 145-pound junior Wensnel Pierre, who has been a successful wrestler since his freshman year. The Spartans were up by two points due to key victories by junior Allen Na and sophomores Neil Meepagala and Ninoslav Dickersin. If Li won, he would solidify a hardearned win for the home team. A loss would lead to a Wingate come-from-behind victory and a disappointing loss for the Spartans. In the end, it was not to be, as the undefeated Pierre easily handled and pinned Li to secure the narrow victory, 4036. The Generals clearly had the upper hand throughout the match. The Spartans could only

muster up three wins, in the three lightest weight classes. The Generals, although they forfeited three weight classes (the Spartans only forfeited one), were able to beat the undersized Stuyvesant team in all of the middleweight and heavyweight classes. Many of the Spartan losses were not unexpected, as the Wingate team had several strong wrestlers who made the city tournament this year. Despite the disappointing loss, many of the Spartans were satisfied with the team’s performance. They believe that experience and skill level played a large role in the match’s outcome. “It’s not necessarily what we did wrong [that led to the loss]. They are just a stronger, more experienced team,” senior and co-captain Michael Berlin said. “Last year, a lot of seniors graduated, and we have a lot a freshmen this year. When

they’re up against a third-year [wrestler], it is not really a match.” Coach Richard Murray agrees with Berlin. “I think the loss was just due to a lack of experience. We’ve been working hard in practice,” Murray said. “A couple of us got caught in some moves, but I see it as a function of inexperience. I give credit to the other team.” Senior and co-captain George Liu, however, had a different opinion. “We didn’t come into this match with the right mindset. We should’ve fought a little harder,” Liu said. “We definitely had a good chance of winning this match. It was a close match, but we should have won.” The match was also full of surprises. “I didn’t expect [junior] Taras [Klymyuk], our best guy, to lose, but I think it was because he didn’t expect to wrestle today,” sophomore Neil Meepagala said. Taras had won all three of his previous wrestling matches, and hadn’t lost one since the beginning of last season. Many of the individual wrestlers showed tremendous improvement from the season’s start. “I’m actually happy with the way they are developing. It’s the type of sport where you need experience, and you can’t get it in three months, six months, or a year, even. It takes three to four years to really be good. I see good potential here,” Murray said. In fact, the team only has seven seniors, none of whom have been on the team since their freshman year. Thus,

Rain Dampens Snow, Not Spirits By Jeffrey Zheng and Erica Chio There is something peaceful and serene about standing at the peak of a snow covered mountain. The white snow glistens in the sun for a second before you ride down the mountain, filling you with a sense of thrill as the wind hits your face. “It’s one of my favorite things in the world. Going out in the soft snow with a few friends. Messing around, shredding the slopes. Relaxing in the lodge with hot chocolate,” senior Daniel Thin said. Thin and Alex Mandell, with aspirations of bringing together fellow aficionados of snowboarding and skiing, created Stuyvesant’s Skiing and Snowboarding Club this year. “We both really like to snowboard, and we thought it would be fun to have a club to gather everyone else in Stuy who enjoys skiing and snowboarding. We also wanted to go on trips with our friends and having a club is a great way to organize it,” Mandell said. At first, creating the club was not easy for the two due to the mass and complexity of paperwork they had to fill out in order to go on trips. However, after talks with Principal Jie Zhang, the Skiing

and Snowboarding Club was able to launch its first trip of the year. The trip was scheduled for the beginning of winter break, December 21, at the luxurious Hunter Mountain in upstate New York. The Hunter Mountain ski resort has over 50 different trails that accommodate a variety of skill levels. Hunter Mountain provided trails that were suitable for beginners, while also providing advanced trails for the more experienced skiers. “It was really fun, but extremely terrifying and frustrating at times because it was my first time snowboarding,” senior and attendee of the first trip Victoria Li said. “We were just having fun and messing around. We taught Victoria how to snowboard because it was her first time. Snowboarding’s one of my favorite things in the world,” said Thin. While the first trip was filled with enjoyment, it was overshadowed by adverse weather conditions. The harsh rain left only Thin, Mandell and fellow seniors Li and Sean Zhou to make the two and half hour commute to Hunter Mountain. “I would definitely go on another trip in the future if I was asked but it really depends

on the timing and the weather. It wasn’t too great snowboarding on wet snow,” said Li. Though the weather was not optimal, Zhou, who joined the club to meet other snowboarders, felt that “even though there weren’t as many people as we originally hoped there would be, there was still a pretty wide spectrum of skill in the four people that were there,” Zhou said. The Snowboarding and Skiing club hosts a variety of skill levels; some are experienced leisure skiers and snowboarders, while many are beginners and just learning. Thin and Mandell are extremely hopeful and already looking forward to future trips. They feel that the “next trip will be better since college apps will be over, so seniors will have more free time,” said Mandell. The club will be using OvRide, a snowboard and ski resort planner, to plan their future trips. OvRide makes it easy to book trips to variety of mountains to accommodate the numerous members of the club. For the club’s recent trip to Hunter Mountain, it cost $84.99 for the bus ride and lift ticket and an additional $35 if you needed a snowboarding or ski rental.

everyone on the team has a lot to gain from the experience of competition: win or lose, they will be improving their skills for the future. Berlin described what he perceives as his team’s biggest weaknesses: “We have to condition more. We have to work on mindset. And we’re not very strong. I mean, we’re strong, but not compared to [other wrestlers],” Berlin said. He is also concerned with the mentality of this young team. “I feel like a lot of people [weren’t as] aggressive as they should have been,” he said. Meepagala, who is in the 106-pound weight class, ironically has some concerns of his own for the team: weight. “We need to get some heavier guys, because we ended up forfeiting our highest two classes since we don’t have heavier guys,” he said. Last year’s 285-pounder, Lawrence Yoon (‘13), graduated, and last year’s 220-pounder, junior Akira Taniguchi, decided not to join the team this year. Unfortunately for the Spartans, finding students who are big, muscular, and interested in wrestling is not an easy feat at a school like Stuyvesant. They are few and far between. Inexperience is hurting the Spartans, but with every match the team gets better and improves its chances for future victories. For now, they will focus on beating Murry Bergtraum High School and take things step-by-step, one match at a time.

The PHOENIX, Stuyvesant’s girls’ basketball team, is undefeated through their first seven games under new coach Vincent Miller. Junior Lauren Sobota is fourth in the PSAL in assists, and junior Sophie Gershon is sixth in the city in rebounding. Stuyvesant’s boys’ basketball team, the PEGLEGS, came back from winter break entering what coach Philip Fisher called their most important week of the season, in which they had to play three difficult road games consecutively. After two tough losses in winnable games against Norman Thomas and East Harlem Pride, they blew out rival Hunter by 20 points to improve to 4-5 in the season. The SPARTANS, Stuyvesant’s wrestling team, is in second place in the division with a 4-1 record. The team lost a nail-bitter to Wingate Educational Campus in its last game before the vacation but bounced back in its following two games with decisive victories. To no surprise, the PIRATES, Stuyvesant’s boys’ swimming team, is 7-0 to start the season. Sophomore Aaron Glas has swum the third-fastest 200-yard freestyle in the PSAL, and senior Brandon Koo has the third fastest 100yard backstroke in the city. Sophomore Peter Strbik and Koo are first and second in the PSAL, respectively, for the 100-yard freestyle.

Not Your Typical Stuy Alum By Lev Akabas When you hear “Stuyvesant alumnus,” what comes to mind? Software developer? Nobel Prize-winning chemist? Math professor? In the case of Charlie Scott, the answer would be a three-time NBA All-Star, former NBA champion, and Olympic gold medalist. Scott visited Stuyvesant on Friday, December 20, 2013, to tour his alma mater. It certainly wasn’t hard to spot his 6’5’’ lanky frame in the hallway, and even at age 65, he looked well enough to still be playing basketball. Without hesitation, he had agreed to sit down with me for an interview, and two things were immediately made apparent: he was tremendously articulate, and he loved to talk. After an early childhood filled with pick-up basketball games in Harlem, Scott realized that his prowess on the basketball court matched his strong academics. He attended Stuyvesant for his freshman year of high school in 1963. “It was the first time that I really left Harlem, and being from that economic background, coming to Stuyvesant was a big change for me,” Scott said. “It was the first time I had to challenge myself academically, and it really helped me consider and open

Courtesy of The LA Times

Sabrina Chan / The Spectator

Young Spartans Lose Heartbreaker Against Top-Notch Generals

Sports Wrap-Up

Former professional basketball player Charlie Scott visited Stuyvesant on December 20.

up my options for what I was going to do in life, and where I was going to go.” Scott was not allowed to play for the Stuyvesant basketball team because, at the time, the coach did not allow freshmen to play. Scott’s family moved to North Carolina after one year at Stuyvesant, which enabled him to have a more competitive high school basketball experience. However, despite its brevity, his time at Stuyvesant was extremely influential. “I understood the honor that it is to continued on page 27


Volume 104, issue 8