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The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper

Volume CIV  No. 11

March 18, 2014

“The Pulse of the Student Body” stuyspec.com

Philip Shin/The Spectator

Senior SING!

Congratulations to the seniors for a win in SING! 2014. Senior SING! was a phenomenal performance, and won by over 200 points.

Hayoung Ahn/The Spectator

Re-Store-ing School Spirit

Stuyvesant’s very own school store, located on the second floor, reopens with classic designs for T-shirts and new merchandise as a way to boost school spirit throughout the student community.

By Gabriel Rosen and In Hae Yap Back in business after over

half a decade, Stuyvesant’s school store lifted the shutters and welcomed back student customers late this February. The store was open regularly

throughout the school day prior to its closing, offering students a wide variety of school apparel as well as sugary drinks and snacks. Although food had been sold at the store for years without problems, the Department of Education (DOE) changed its rules concerning food sold in schools in 2008 as part of a city-wide effort to prevent obesity. Because of these new food regulations, the store was closed down mid-decade, finally to be reopened after a coordinated effort by school leadership. Students to this day express confusion about prior administrations’ decisions to not reopen the store. “Selling candy and soda is a little minor thing to close the store over, especially for such a long time,” sophomore and school store volunteer Ariel Levy said.

Efforts to reopen the school store began last November at a School Leadership Team (SLT) meeting. A member of the SLT proposed the idea, which quickly garnered the support of Principal Jie Zhang and Assistant Principal of Organization Saida Rodriguez Tabone. During the course of this meeting, Student Union President Eddie Zilberbrand and Vice President Keiran Carpen also expressed their support of the store proposal. “A lot of students appreciate being able to represent the Stuyvesant community, and a school store provides that opportunity,” Carpen said. After being informed of the store’s closing during her first year as principal, Zhang became interested in reopening it because her previous school did not have its own store. “I want our school store

SING! SPECIAL Pages 9-20

to serve two functions: one, to be a place of school spirit and pride for students, and two, for it to serve as a central location for students to access basic supplies,” Zhang said. Still, despite her enthusiasm, Zhang insisted that a trial run be held for a single night during the Freshman Open House of fall 2013. Tabone was given the responsibility of overseeing the trial run with the help of Support Staff Member Carmen Cintron. Cintron handled the store’s operations with the help of student volunteers. Zhang considered the trial opening period to be a success, and the store officially reopened its doors in the last week of February 2014 under the supervision of Cintron. The store, which only accontinued on page 2


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

News • Poet and New York University (NYU) professor Jason Koo visited Stuyvesant during seventh period on Thursday, March 6. Koo discussed literature and his own works with students. • More than 100 juniors and seniors in AP Computer Science visited NYU on Friday, February 28. The students listened to presentations from four faculty members from NYU’s Courant Institute for Mathematics, as well as from an NYU admissions officer. The trip was sponsored by the NYU admissions office and the NYU Computer Science department. • Junior Caroline Kim was among the seven runnerups in the My Inspirational Story (MIS) Video Contest sponsored by Ronald McDonald House Charities. Kim received $250 in scholarship money for her video about Asian Americans in the New York City. • Junior Stephanie Lin was selected to receive the First Place Best Essay Award in the 9th Japan Center Essay Competition for her essay titled “A Little Respect Goes A Long Way.” Lin will receive a $3000 cash prize for her work. • Senior Eun Byoul Oh was one of the winners of the New York Times scholarship, given to students who succeeded in the face of extreme adversity. Oh will receive $7500 a year in college aid, a laptop, and a variety of mentoring opportunities with the Times. • Sophomore Max Fishelson received a perfect score on the AMC10A exam and will take the American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME). Only 2.5% of AMC10A takers qualify to take the AIME.

Stuy Receives a C on Report Card By Sharon Lee and Jenny Yang When the New York City (NYC) Department of Education released the school progress reports last August, Stuyvesant High School received A’s in all categories except environment. For that section, Stuyvesant was given a grade of C, receiving only 9.6 points out of the total score of 15 points. Over the span of the last three years, Stuyvesant’s rating in environment has stayed fairly consistent, scoring a B last school year and a C the year before. According to the online progress report, the environment category involves “student attendance and a survey of the school community rating academic expectations, safety and respect, communication, and engagement.” It also factors in the cleanliness of the building as well as overall school spirit. The evaluation is based on DOE surveys sent out in the fall of 2013 that were filled out by students, teachers, and parents. Guidance Counselor John Mui believes that the surveys were an essential component of the evaluation of the school’s environment. “It measures and evaluates the communication between the administration and students, administration and parents, and administration and teachers,” he said. He continues on to say that the reason Stuyvesant received a lower score in that particular category may be due to the fact that some portion of parents and students did not return the completed survey to the school. Sophomore Caucus Vice President William Yang was surprised that the school received such a low grade. “I understand that it’s not a five star restaurant, but the majority of the classrooms and hallways are clean,” he said. Yang believes that Stuyvesant should have received a better grade on that section due to high attendance rates, even during snow days, and the clear respect that exists between students and teachers. He considers the student protests last year a factor that may have negatively affected Stuyvesant’s environment grade. Senior Calvin Yang believes

the lack of student freedom at Stuyvesant may explain the low grade. “We can’t go anywhere,” Yang said. “We need our student ID’s whether it is to go to the library or the cafeteria. Students are also restricted to certain floors during frees or lunch periods.” Biology teacher Marissa Maggio contributes Stuyvesant’s low grade to its questionable cleanliness. “While some students are working really hard to keep the environment clean, others take little pride in the state of the building,” Maggio said. “Students litter the floors and some willfully place trash in recycling bins.” After learning about the results of the NYC Progress Report, junior Deanna Taylor decided to take action. She had heard that there were some parents, particularly the parents of the current freshman class, who voiced concerns and complaints about the welfare of the students during Parent Association meetings. Taylor spoke with Principal Jie Zhang regarding the evaluation of the school’s environment and with Zhang’s approval decided to form a new committee, the Spirit Committee, in an effort to improve the sense of spirit and community within the walls of Stuyvesant High School. Taylor hopes to make an impact on incoming freshmen students and the way in which they are welcomed and introduced to the school so that the transition between their middle school environment and Stuyvesant’s is as seamless as possible. “I realized that there are a lot of flaws, particularly in freshmen transition, so I started the committee to focus on freshmen transition and then to broaden perspective to the whole school,” Taylor said. The Spirit Committee includes twelve student members, with three Student Union representatives, three sophomores, and two freshmen. As of now, the committee is discussing how to better transition the freshmen by sharing opinions on the topics of Club-Pub Fair, Big Sibs, and other related subjects. Taylor and the newly-formed committee have already begun working on new reforms regarding freshmen’s transitions into

The Case of the Mysterious AP Exam Price By Rebecca Chang On February 10, 2014, when Advanced Placement (AP) exam registration opened online, many students were surprised to see the new prices for the upcoming test: $63 per test for those with free or reduced lunch and $89 per test for those with full price lunch, compared to last year’s prices of $10 and $87, respectively. Sophomore Ben Gaebler was among those students. “I have full lunch, but if I had reduced lunch, I would definitely be outraged about this,” he said. “Coming from a family with two older siblings who have already gone to college, the $53 price difference is a lot of money, especially if you are taking or plan to take a lot of AP exams or when you start to [take] SAT IIs and apply to colleges.” These were the same thoughts that went through the heads of many other students, especially those with free or reduced lunch, due to the dramatic price spike. The price for these students is usually determined by three main factors: the amount of the College Board’s fee deduction, how much money the federal government and Congress are able to give to each state to cover AP exam costs, and if states or school districts are able to pay any remaining costs. Like last year, the College

Board decided to deduct $26 for students with free or reduced lunch, leaving the $63 remaining for the federal government, school districts, and families to pay for themselves. Typically, the federal government gives out a certain amount of money to each state, depending on the number of AP tests being administered, in order to help cover the price of the exam costs before the fees are collected from students. However, this is not the case this year, due to the slow pace of federal government in giving out these funds. Since there was no information released on when or how much the government was deciding on subsidizing the states for the AP exam fees, schools had no choice but to charge higher prices for the AP exams. However, once the information is confirmed, checks will be either partially or fully refunded, depending on the amount given. Despite this, many students with free or reduced lunch who have signed up for AP exams this year have not been informed of the possibility of a full or partial refund, and thus are still perplexed as to the big price difference between last year and this year. “Last year, I paid $10 for AP World [History], which ended up getting refunded. This year, I have to pay $63 for four AP tests, which

is $252,” junior Alyson Liang said. “That costs more than SAT IIs or SATs, but if I knew why they needed that much money, I would have a different opinion on it. But since I don’t know we’re paying so much money, I don’t like it.” Others, however, thought that the price difference was still not a problem, especially compared to high tuition rates in universities and colleges. “I don’t really mind the price,” junior Junhao Dong said. “I don’t think it’s unfair because if you do well on the AP exam, you save more money from taking the course in college.” The confusion regarding the AP exam prices, however, on March 12th, 2014 was clarified. The reimbursement from the government was finally announced, and Assistant Principal of Organization Saida RodriguezTabone sent out an email to all students stating that there would be no charge for AP exams for all students with free and reduced lunch. The administration will shred all checks that had been previously submitted by these students, and Rodriguez-Tabone also expressed that students who could not afford to pay the exam fees previously could now sign up for exams if they wished.

After receiving a C for environment on the DOE report card, the Spirit Committee was created to improve Stuyvesant’s environment for the students.

Stuyvesant. The group has spoken with Zhang about the possibility of introducing a second Club-Pub Fair that will occur around the beginning of the second semester. Another one of the committee’s proposals is sending out surveys to the incoming freshmen after Camp Stuy Part I has taken place in order to share some fun facts and statistics about the new class of freshmen students. Zhang will be working with the committee towards enacting these new reforms for next year. Besides student involvement, the administration has been working to ensure the sense of community within Stuyvesant. There were new banners that were hung up on the walls on the second floor encouraging any students to visit the guidance office for aid and support. While the banners were not a direct response to the progress report released by the DOE, Mui said, “This initiative could improve the school environment by building up school spirit.” With regards to the issue of school spirit, Freshman Lucy Wang suggests expanding participation in school spirit days. “I wish we had more spirit days. Most of them are for seniors,” Wang said. “Depending on the activity, school spirit varies from non-existent to high. It isn’t uniformly expressed,” Maggio adds. The Spirit Committee is aware of the lack of student support in certain activities, especially sports

teams. The committee plans to work with coaches on including sports teams during Spirit Week in order to build up enthusiasm for Stuyvesant’s many teams. Freshman Chloe Delfau believes that the pressure revolving around competition of grades is another influencing factor on the spirit within the school. “Competitiveness is very apparent in Stuy, even amongst freshmen. The small differences between grade-point averages amongst people is always a big deal,” Delfau said. Sophomore Spencer Eo agrees; as a member of the Spirit Committee, he hopes to lessen the stress of competition and improve and strengthen student interactions. “It’s only during SING! where a good number of students are collaborating and are engaged; this is when Stuy atmosphere is thriving. I’d like the environment at Stuy to be as if it was SING! all year,” he said. Many members of the student body agree that environment is an essential component of high school life. Junior and Spirit Committee member Genie Gorbonosov believes that the issue should be promptly addressed. “I think a school’s atmosphere directly affects the performance and general happiness of its students. In a school that can be so stressful at times, an environment that brings joy to its students is necessary and should be a top priority,” she said.

Re-Store-ing School Spirit continued from page 1

cepts cash payments and charges tax on all items in accordance with DOE regulations, will be open Mondays to Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.. Fridays will be used to conduct inventory checks in order to gauge what supplies will have to be restocked for the upcoming week. Currently, the store sells a wide range of Stuyvesant apparel, including sweatshirts, mugs, and pins, although it no longer offers sugary refreshments, opting instead to offer water. Students, such as junior Kyle Oleksiuk, have expressed their approval of the wide variety of Stuyvesant apparel the school store currently offers, despite the shift away from junk food. “I think [the store’s] really great; it’s very convenient,” Oleksiuk said. “It’s really cool to see all the Stuyvesant apparel and miscellanea from years past; it feels sort of like a museum.”

If all goes well in the following months, the store will potentially expand its selection to encompass school supplies as well as books. Both Zhang and Tabone note, however, that this aspect of the store is still under consideration and may not end up being implemented. Although the final role of the school store remains to be seen, many students expressed their excitement about what they view as a long overdue measure. “After four years at Stuy, I still did not have a single piece of official Stuyvesant apparel because I always missed the unofficial hoodie sales. The [reopening of the] school store gave me the opportunity to purchase my first Stuyvesant hoodie,” senior Zeerak Abbas said. “I’ve always wanted our school to reopen its school store since I was a freshman. In a way, it’s a [source] of pride,” senior Allen Park said. “We’ve been forced to live without for all these years.”

Jin Hee Yoo / The Spectator

Newsbeat


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

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Features What’s Up with K-pop? By Rabia Ahktar with additional reporting by Huwon Kim Would you brave record temperatures, a tropical storm, ridiculously high ticket prices, and preposterously long lines just to get a glimpse of your favorite band? For some K-pop fans in Stuyvesant, that is a piece of cake. Alumna Geyanne Lui (‘13) battled brutal weather in Hong Kong, paid over $200 at Madison Square Garden, and waited for over six hours at a high five event just to see her favorite K-pop bands such as EXO, SHINee, and f(x). For most K-pop fans in Stuyvesant, this level of obsession started casually: they might have heard of K-pop from a friend or clicked on a random video on YouTube. Usually, it is the legendary songs like Taeyang’s “Wedding Dress” or Girls’ Generation’s “I Got a Boy” that draw people in, or the popular groups like Super Junior or Infinite that catch their attention. This casual interest quickly spirals into an obsession, and, well, there you have it. Over the past few years, the number of K-pop fans in Stuyvesant has skyrocketed. As Stuyvesant’s interest in K-pop blooms, many wonder what exactly about it captivates Stuyvesant students, and how it affects their intensely busy lives. Although coming to Stuyvesant might have been the spark that ignited an obsession for K-pop for some fans, others delved into the K-pop world at a young age. K-pop club founder and alumnus Daniel Lin (‘13) is one of the oldest fans of the genre. “I first began listening to Korean pop in 2002, back when Korean pop was still relatively unheard of and Japanese pop was busy dominating the scene,” Lin said. He had heard the song that the Korean singer BoA had released for the anime Inuyasha (called “Every Heart”, the song had both Japanese and Korean renditions), and his love for the genre began from that point. Unlike Daniel Lin, other fans like junior Udita Tonne and sophomore Regina Weng were introduced to the genre by family members. “I first got introduced to K-pop when my cousin immigrated from China, around the time when I was 8 or 9,” Weng explained. “I didn’t fall in love with it until about sixth grade of middle school, but looking back on some old songs of the groups I like, my cousin used to play them constantly and I remembered them from when I went over to her house.” Like Weng, Tonne’s cousin introduced her to Kpop. “I was actually really going through [the] phase of ‘no one understands me’ and [K-pop] really made me feel happy and honestly, I didn’t like the [other] music coming out then because it was all becoming auto tune,” she added. Not all K-pop listeners fit the description of the typical passionate fan, as many take the role of casual admirers. “One of my friends introduced me to Big Bang [in freshman year], and I thought they were really hot, so I just listened to one or two of their songs, and it was super upbeat, which kept me in a good mood to do homework,” said junior Nicolette Hussain. However, both types of fans agree that K-pop has various distinct qualities that separate it from western music. “What really attracted me to [K-pop] was how diverse the

genre was because there were so many different styles, concepts, and artist personalities. It wasn’t always just about the music, it was also the choreography, the music video, the live performances, and variety show appearances,” junior Hilary Tung said. In addition to performing on up to four to five music shows in a week following a new music release, many groups have a slew of other promotional activities on their schedules, meaning that it’s not hard to find something to watch by your favorite band. After discovering and enjoying the music, fans really get to know the people behind the voices through variety shows. They get to watch their favorite groups complete missions at various locations in and out of Korea, play traditional Korean games around a campfire, talk amongst themselves, or just live their daily lives in a messy dorm. Junior and K-pop Club President Alexander Gabriel added, “K-pop stars frequently participate in reality shows and fan meets, which make them seem very human. It’s easy to get to know things about your favorite idol, and it makes being a K-pop fan more than just enjoying the music.”

“I had started the club with the intention four years ago with the intention of bringing Korean pop fans together and to this day, this community means a lot to me, because it encompasses many close friends” — alumnus Daniel Lin (‘13) For other students, it was the choreography and dancing that drew them in. “I really like to dance a lot, and I think something that is totally nonexistent in every other kind of pop scene is that pretty much every K-pop song- because [the groups] always go on stage to perform at those music showsevery song has a dance to it!” Gabriel explained. “When I listen to the music and I close my eyes, I’m doing the dance in my head! Honestly, that’s a huge part of it - that I like dancing, and I like music, and it just goes together [in K-pop].” The choreography many of these groups perform lie on a spectrum of dance styles, ranging from modern to hip hop, and can enrapture even the newest of dancers or dance admirers. “I get into K-pop usually from the dances,” Weng said. “When I listen to a song or watch the performances, instead of remembering the song lyrics I always manage to remember the choreography first, maybe because I’m a dancer.” Bangtan

Boys (BTS) is Weng’s favorite K-pop group in terms of choreography. The powerful and sharp choreography of K-pop groups like BTS that demands your attention, combining high level choreography and impeccable synchronization to create

“It makes me work just a little harder because I become more motivated to do my best every day when I see my favorite idols do their best and give back to their fans” — junior Hilary Tung a spectacular visual effect. If it is not choreography that draws you in, it might be the lyrics and content. “For one, the nature of mainstream K-pop songs is much tamer than American pop music. This isn’t to say there aren’t K-pop anthems about partying and dancing and being sexy, but it’s a lot more toned down than what you find here,” Gabriel related. “For some people I think this is large part of what makes K-pop appealing. The lyrics, even when they are suggestive, are never explicit.” Coming to Stuyvesant from a small middle school can be lonely and the work monotonous, but for alumnus Kevin Lin (‘13) it was K-pop that picked him up. “I came to Stuyvesant pretty much alone,” said Kevin Lin. “It was during this transitional time that I felt really depressed and lonely… It was around this time that I discovered K-pop. I fell in love with it right away the pretty colors, the bright and happy atmosphere, and the catchy music enthralled me.” Yet it was not the brilliant, funky colors that he adored; it was the softer, more meaningful songs that really made K-pop an obsession. “What I was feeling, music understood. When I was lonely, music was there for me and it picked me up,” Kevin Lin explained. Songs like Big Bang’s “Let Me Hear Your Voice” or 2AM’s “Can’t Let You Go Even If I Die” captivated him, as they both exhibited wistful lyrics sung on top of soft, catchy beats. Much of Asian music is less sexually charged and explicit than the western alternative, giving it a charm that attracts many students. A surprising aspect of some K-pop idols can be their young age. It is not abnormal to start training as an grade school student to become a star; Lee Taemin, who was only 14 years old when his group SHINee debuted in 2008, is a prime example. Junior Labiba Chowdhry, who only knows of K-Pop in passing, said, “It’s sort of like Disney. [The stars] start off young and [companies] control them so they don’t do anything inappropriate.” On the other hand, fans see this young age

in a positive light. “To follow a group of people, some of which might be only a year or two older than you, through everything they experience as they struggle to become famous is an amazing experience,” Weng reflects. “I just love how much work and effort they put in compared to a lot of artists from other countries that don’t have this debuting system.” Because K-pop can be considered the product of competition between entertainment companies churning out boy groups and girl groups, applying various tactics to promote both the music and the celebrities, these young idols must devote hours upon hours of time honing their talent in hopes that their next release will become a hit. In a competitive school like Stuyvesant, many students lives follow a similar track of intense studying. “It makes me work just a little harder because I become more motivated to do my best every day when I see my favorite idols do their best and give back to their fans,” Tung said. Watching someone they relate to and admire work hard at what they do can really influence students to do well in their own passions. Besides talent and personality, much of what K-pop boils down to is the attractiveness of its stars. Teenage stars are packaged as the perfect people, almost as if they were flawless demigods. Junior Tiffany Chan views visuals as an initial kickstarter of the obsession, with talent and personality carrying it through. “When [people] see this group dancing and singing, and they see their faces, if they’re pretty faces, they’ll want to get to know them more. But the thing is, after they get to know the group [...] they respect the group more for their personalities,” Chan said. “A lot of it has to with talent too, because if you’re just a pretty face, and you have no talent, then there’s no point.” On the other hand, it is rare to find a celebrity that does not fit South Korea’s standard of beauty, however talented or kind they may be. “You want to sell idols as attractive people that you dream of, and that’s the reason why idols don’t date a lot,” Gabriel said. “Even if people don’t wanna admit it, part of the appeal is that they’re these beautiful, perfect, talented people, and they’re always single, and they’re really good-looking, and I think that adds to it.” Korean celebrities are craftily catered to the young population as another product in a world that values beauty, an attribute that is viewed as a vice or virtue to different students. A major con of K-pop might be the language barrier. After all, many wonder how people listen to and love something they cannot even understand. Junior Eric Zhao pointed at this particular characteristic to explain why, despite the occasional links to K-pop songs he receives from his friends, he has not yet fell for the allure of its music. “I tend not to listen to foreign music because I don’t understand what they are saying,” he said. The language barrier is a reality for many international fans, but it is up to them to decide whether it is really a critical obstacle. “Other than the fact that [producers] put a lot of English in the songs, it’s also [that] most people listen to the music and the way the lyrics are sung- the emotion behind the lyrics,” Chan said.

To many K-pop fans, the positive characteristics of K-pop far outweigh the obstacle of language. This obstacle can be remedied, as Tung noted. “Besides, when you become a Kpop fan, you become fairly acquainted with something called English subtitles,” she said. In the end, as Zhao acknowledges, everything depends on a personal “preference in music,” he said. But K-pop fans believe “it shouldn’t matter what language it’s in—it’s still music. And if it’s good music, people enjoy it,” Chan said. Above all, K-pop has allowed students in Stuyvesant to grow close in the face of their shared interests. “After coming to Stuy, I’ve definitely made tons of friends because of K-pop,” Weng said. “It’s our mutual love for the idols that pulls us together.” Similarly, as Kevin Lin said, “It’s kind of like gum in a way… You ask someone if they like K-pop, they say yes, and bam! insta-friendship.” The K-pop Club has particularly fostered a sense of community among fans in Stuyvesant. When Daniel Lin came to Stuyvesant, K-pop enthusiasts existed, but there was no collective passion. “I had started the club four years ago with the intention of bringing Korean pop fans together and to this day, this community means a lot to me, because it encompasses many close friends,” he said. The club’s frequent gatherings allow students to meet other K-pop fans within the student body and develop their friendships by watching videos and movies, playing K-pop jeopardy, and dancing to songs. Unlike the tight-knit group of friends the club started off as, the club has evolved into one that has more than 150 members. “This year there has been an enormous jump in the number of sophomore and freshmen who started attending. It’s exciting to be the leader of a very popular club now, but it’s a lot of responsibility,” Gabriel said. He attributes the club’s increasing popularity to a heightened awareness of the existence of such a club. “Word just gets around, and everyone is like, oh, this club is really cool, to all their freshmen friends, [and says that they] should come check it out.” Gabriel hopes that the K-pop club can continue to “create a welcoming community for Stuy’s K-pop fans.” K-pop has definitely become a major part of Stuyvesant’s culture, and its unique style and flavor has attracted a substantial portion of the student body. K-pop has become all the more popular around the globe in recent years, and it has catered to the growing international attention it has been receiving: English subtitles have become a must on Youtube videos uploaded by major music distribution labels, video chatting sessions with fans from all over the globe are on every group’s schedule following a new release, and the number of world tours exploded in 2013. It has become much easier for international fans, like those who attend Stuyvesant, to participate in fan events and purchase goods like autographed albums and fanclub benefits. On a smaller scale, K-pop has offered a safe haven within Stuyvesant for students to relax and bond with one another, helping them cope with problems and the intense academic rigor of our school.


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

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Features

Joy Yang / The Spectator

Meet Keshara: A True Human of Stuy

By Johnathan Rafailov Still exhausted from staying up until 1:00 a.m. the night before, a senior wakes up on one of his favorite days of the year: Halloween. He puts on his large and bulky “pedo-bear” costume, worn to exemplify his personality and love for underclassmen at school, and makes his way out the door, double-checking to make sure that he has his camera and candy. On his morning train ride, he finishes his English reading while others stare and smile at his unique and hilarious costume. Once he arrives at school, he stands by the entryway scanners with a large suitcase of candy and hands it out to freshmen. Some greet him and say “Thanks, Keshara!” while others just take the candy and leave. Nonetheless, everyone walks away grinning. Senior Keshara Senanayake loves to put others in a good mood. Whether it means giving freshmen candy, buying Indicator flowers for strangers, or giving someone a new guitar for free, Senanayake is always will-

ing to sacrifice his time or money to help other people. “If [I] can make someone else’s day just a little bit better, that’s the only reward [I] need. All smiles are priceless,” Senanayake said. He often feels so compelled to help out freshmen because he knows how stressful the first year of high school can be. “A lot of people at Stuyvesant feel a lot of stress, a lot of pressure; it’s like a weight burden on you. I want to alleviate that pressure sometimes. That’s why I do these random acts of kindness and continue to do so,” Senanayake said. Integral to Senanyake’s character is his “pay it forward” way of thinking. After Senanayake received a camera from an acquaintance, he decided to give away a guitar through Facebook. Just as the camera enabled Senanyake to pursue his passion for photography, he hoped the guitar would give someone the chance to learn music. “It’s more than the instrument, it’s more than the cost, it’s giving someone the ability—the chance to pursue a musical instrument, to expand their own horizons,” Senanyake said. With this thinking in mind, it would have been easy for Senanyake to simply give the guitar to one of his friends. But instead, he spent a large amount of time compiling a list of all the people who said they wanted the guitar, and used a random chooser over the Internet to select the recipient. This was just one instance when Senanyake did far more than what was expected of him. In fact, Senanayake frequently devotes a huge amount of time to others, and he has never regretted this choice. “I know it’s so much work, but I’m willing to go through all that work and I’m willing to be [...] stressed because I grow as a person and help others at the same time,” Senanayake said. This idea of giving back to the community manifests in another occupation of Senanayake. He is the founder of Humans

of Stuy (HoS), a Facebook page well known to the Stuyvesant community. Senanayake and 10 other crew members regularly update the page with photos, aiming to “capture the uniqueness and diversity of Stuyvesant High School.” Before this year, photos were accompanied by a short interview, blurb, or quote related to the person photographed. More recently, however, photos are placed alongside personal stories. These stories offer a more emotional and intimate side to the students and teachers photographed, and the page’s followers have welcomed the change. HoS currently has over 3,400 likes, with its mostliked photo, which features history teacher Kerry Trainor and a heartfelt story about his mother’s experience in 9/11, having close to 1,200 likes. Senanayake first considered the idea of creating HoS during the summer before his junior year. He was inspired by Humans of New York (HONY), a Facebook page that showcases the individuality of New York City residents. Senanayake reached out to the founder of HONY, Brandon Stanton, via e-mail and asked for advice on how to start up his own page for Stuyvesant. Senanayake recounted the event, saying “I asked what interesting questions he posed and he told me, generally, he meets new people on the streets and tries to strike up a conversation. So [now], at the beginning of every interview, I open up with a story of my own,” Senanayake said. Specifically, in his interview with Trainor, Senanyake opened up with a story from his freshman year. “I talk[ed] about my cousin who was dying from a rare genetic disorder,” Senanayake said. In his story, he recounts visiting his cousin in the hospital and adding his cousin on her recently-made Facebook. “I remember when I’m walking out of the room, she didn’t have that much strength in her, but she was able to lift her

head up just a little bit and just wave goodbye. And three days later, she did die. She never accepted my friend request,” he recounted. Stories like that one allow Senanayake’s interviewees to open up and tell him deep, emotional, and personal stories. When asked what he looks for in a “Human of Stuy,” Senanayake said that, “there are no qualifications.” To Senanayake, everyone has a story to be told and “if you’re willing to share that story, I’m willing to share that story with [the page],” he said. In addition, by exploring the many faces of Stuyvesant, Senanayake has gotten to know an impressively large percentage of Stuyvesant’s students. “I live with the philosophy that sophomores, freshmen, juniors, we’re all equal. To me, we’re all peers. Humans of Stuy has reinforced that idea for me, personally,” he said. While some might be concerned about the future of HoS when Senanayake graduates, they do not need to worry as it will likely be left in good hands. Since there are 10 other photographers on the crew, they are already familiar with the tasks required to maintain the page. “Right now, I’m not 100% sure who I’ll pass it down to. There’re a couple of juniors that I have in mind,” Senanayake said. “I’m going to make them come onto the field and do [a] personal interview in front of me, look at their photography. But I want them to raise the bar. I don’t want the page to go down once I graduate; I want it to keep going up—make it better than I ever have,” Senanayake said. On a completely different note from HoS, Senanayake has an up-and-coming project called Buying and Selling Everything (BASE), which will be released by the end of April. This enterprise is based on the fact that today, people use social networking sites to buy and sell goods. Senanayake has been very involved in this online market, and has started and administered many groups,

including the well-known Buying and Selling Kicks (NYC), which has approximately 250,000 members. With the large user base that he has, Senanayake aims to move the groups into a new website. The project’s primary goal is to make buying and selling goods online easier. “Say you’re buying electronics off some guy on the internet. You want to have a degree of safety and a degree of reliability and accountability. I want to facilitate the exchange of goods and make it easier so you have more money in your pocket,” Senanayake said. Senanayake and his team, consisting of six juniors and seniors, have consulted with several financial experts who have offered them advice for the BASE start-up. Senanayake attributes his success in starting his project to Stuyvesant High School. “Definitely Stuyvesant has helped me in so many different ways. If it wasn’t for Stuyvesant, this would be nothing,” he said. While Senanayake will not charge any BASE users, Senanayake has a detailed method of generating revenue from the service, which he requested not be disclosed in this article. However, for Senanayake, BASE is not primarily a money-making scheme; rather, it’s about the legacy. “I want to see BASE as a big service; I want it to be a successful project. If I make a lot of money as a byproduct, that’s great. The key is to make something big, something amazing that came from Stuyvesant High School,” Senanayake said. In the future, Senanayake plans on creating and working on new projects, be it a “Humans” page or a buying and selling community for his college. Whatever it is, Keshara Senanayake says that he will stay true to himself. “I want to stay open and continue to help others every single day, see other people grow while I grow, enrich my life while I enrich the lives of others,” he said.

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Page 5


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 6

Editorials Staff Editorial

The Spectator

A More Relaxed SING! Management SING! is a spectacular expression of student talent, ingenuity, dedication and hard work. It is an opportunity to cooperate and celebrate with each other, an often rare experience in our competitive environment. This tradition represents some of the best of what we do and who we are here at Stuyvesant, and we would like to thank the administration for a successful 2014 SING! season.

“There was less censorship than in previous years, and the censorship this year was also less arbitrary” – Eric Zhang, Senior SING! coordinator

According to many involved in the writing of the three SING! scripts, SING! faced relatively little censorship this year. In the past, for example, SophFrosh SING! was told to “tone down” the sexual tension between sophomore Harmehar Kohli, portraying Nancy Drew, and sophomores Darien Cox and Coby Goldberg, playing the Hardy Boys. More specifically, there was concern about “sexual touching of the arms.” This year, Soph-Frosh was able to not only touch each other’s arms, but also perform a stage kiss! Furthermore, sexual jokes like Cox covering an erection with his hat in Junior SING!, which evoked some of the longest laughter of the night, were

allowed to remain, despite their provocative undertones. “There was less censorship than in previous years, and the censorship this year was also less arbitrary,” Senior SING! coordinator Eric Zhang said. Some dance crews, such as Senior Latin, also had more freedom to choreograph the dances they wanted. In previous years, the administration set boundaries on the dance crew’s stunts. Furthermore, costumes had been judged much more harshly; however, this year numerous dance crews were allowed to wear short skirts or clothing with cut-outs during the performances. All of this allowed for more exciting dance routines, involving impressive albeit risque moves. Rules also changed backstage for SING!. In previous years, administrators often came through the theater to check up on Tech Crew and to make sure all the set pieces were stable. Often, Tech Crew directors were told that certain pieces were too tall or too unstable, arbitrarily, as far as the students could see. Tech Crew directors have always had the support and guidance of Technology teacher Leslie Bernstein, who continues to advise them

This year, war paint went on without a hitch, and any student who wanted to proudly displayed the color of their SING! without worry.

in both design and construction of the sets, and supervises in the use of power tools. However, this year, the directors experienced more freedom to design and build the sets they envisioned.

The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper

“The Pulse of the Student Body” E DITORs

IN

Come SING! day last year, students faced resistance to the annual war paint tradition. We had to sneak around to put on face paint because of the administration’s belief that it was disruptive to the classroom. This year, war paint went on without a hitch, and any student who wanted to proudly display the color of their SING! did so without worry. On the whole, the freedom leased to Stuyvesant students to run SING! as they saw fit encouraged students to display their creativity fully. After all, that is what SING! is all about. We would like to thank and congratulate the Stuyvesant community on the smooth and successful management of SING! 2014.

O pi ni o ns

d i r e ct o r s

Alisa Su Lydia Wu L ayo ut

Ed i to rs

Kelly Luo Da-Ye Shin Neil Vyas

Ed i to rs

Ariella Kahan Maisha Kamal Emma Loh

Co py

Ed i to rs

Eliza Hripcsak Tyler Ishikawa

Ed i to rs

Emma Bernstein Daniel Kodsi Justin Weltz Ed i to rs

Chris Kim Grace Lu Annique Wong h u mo r

Shahruz Ghaemi Emma McIntosh

Ed i to rs

F e at u r e s

s p orts

Arts & e nt e r ta i nm e nt e d i to rs

a rt

Coby Goldberg Tina Jiang Andrew Wallace

On the whole, the freedom leased to Stuyvesant students to run SING! as it saw fit encouraged students to display their creativity more fully. And after all, that is what SING! is all about.

Anne Duncan Justin Strauss Jin Hee Yoo

C HIEF

Lev Akabas Teresa Chen N ews

Photo graphy Ed i to rs

Busi ne ss

M anag e r s

Andrew Fischer Deanna Taylor We b

Ed i to rs

Eric Stringham Chris Grant F ac u lt y

Advi so r

Kerry Garfinkel

Ed i to rs

Shane Lorenzen Dennis Nenov Please address all letters to: 345 Chambers Street New York, NY 10282 (212) 312-4800 ext. 2601 letters@stuyspectator.com

We reserve the right to edit letters for clarity and length. © 2012 The Spectator All rights reserved by the creators. * Managing Board

The Spectator We are compiling an archive of past issues. We are looking for issues published before 1995. Please send any newspapers to:

The Stuyvesant Spectator 345 Chambers Street New York, NY 10282 If you have any questions, e-mail us at: archives@stuyspectator.com

Why Must We Choose between SING! and Sleep?

In Issue 8 of The Spectator, the Editorial Board asked “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,” regarding the week of SING!, specifically. We were disappointed, however, that a large number of teachers did not noticeably adjust their homework when SING! week arrived. Members of this Editorial Board had teachers who assigned projects due the day of SING!, textbook reading with accompanying questions every single night of that week, and entire science labs to be completed in the one night of Wednesday SING!. These were extreme cas-

es, but we believe giving any more than the bare minimum amount of homework during SING! week, and particularly the night of Wednesday SING!, is unreasonable, considering that well over 700 students participated in SING! and hundreds of others attended. Such students could not possibly have arrived home before 10:30 p.m. on the nights of the shows, meaning that assigning homework on the night of Wednesday SING! required that students start their homework an hour before midnight, therefore discarding any chance the students may have had of getting a healthy amount of sleep. Of course, our complaints certainly don’t apply to all teachers, and we applaud the countless teachers who were respectful

of students’ time commitments and significantly reduced their workloads. We don’t expect teachers to not give homework for an entire month, as homework is essential for reviewing material and preparing for class—we simply ask that teachers be conscious of their students’ time commitments during one hectic week each year. SING! is one of Stuyvesant’s proudest traditions, allowing students to take a break from everyday classes to creatively express themselves, and students should be able to support their friends or participate in SING! without worrying about the piles of homework awaiting them when the show is over.

A Note to Our Readers: The Spectator will now accept unsolicited Op-Ed pieces written by outside students, faculty, and alumni. These columns, if selected, will be published in The Spectator’s Opinions section. Recommended length is 700 words. Articles should address school related topics or items of student interest. Columns can be e-mailed to specreaderopinions@gmail.com.

Do you want to reflect on an article? Or speak your mind? Write a letter to the editor and e-mail it to letters@stuyspectator.com or drop it in The Spectator box in the second-floor mail room.


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 7

Opinions

By Daniel Kodsi Lately, it seems Mayor Bill de Blasio’s education policy has been a little out of whack: I mean, keeping school open on days that overall attendance ended up being less than 50 percent? He probably should have listened more closely to his son Dante’s advice. And, as I wrote just a couple months ago in ‘Don’t Abolish the SHSAT, de Blasio,’ he is pushing for an overhaul of the Specialized High School Admissions Test, one of the nation’s purely meritocratic admissions standards. Now, as he had repeatedly promised in his campaign, our populist mayor is opposing yet another effective policy: charter schools. The mayor took his cause to Albany on Tuesday, March 4, the same day that, purely coincidentally, Governor Andrew Cuomo was heading a rally on the other side of the issue. Mr. Mayor, the short of it is this: not all of ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s policies need to be reversed, and especially not this one. It’s not that charter schools can’t be improved, but they are a fundamental step in the right direction for the struggling New York City education system. First of all, let’s get some context. Charter schools, of which the New York Times reports that there are about 180 in the city, are free of charge and operate with public funding (although less than normal), but don’t fall subject to most Department of Education guidelines and regulations. They’re nearly uniformly nonunionized and co-locate (share

facilities) with normal public schools to avoid paying rent, which most of them can’t afford. On February 27, de Blasio launched his first real barrage against them by axing three planned Success Academies expansions. It’s worth noting that Success Academies, which operates the largest network of charters in the city, is run by Eva Moskowitz (Stuyvesant ’82), a former councilwoman and fierce nemesis of the new mayor; he routinely directed his ire at her during the mayoral race (determining whether or not personal enmity played a role in the decision, I will leave to the reader’s discretion). While the city administration did allow more than a dozen other charters to go forward as planned, putting a halt to the charter school movement’s impetus and setting a precedent for further closures points New York City education in a direction of grievous consequence. The facts are straightforward: charter schools, especially in New York, have been categorically effectual and have provided education to many kids who would have had no other choice but to attend the dismal and failing schools in their districts. For any government policy, the first criterion always ought to be the good that comes of it. In that category, charter schools pass with flying colors. For instance, according to The Economist, on February 15, about 36 percent of those enrolled in The Noble Network, an organization of charter schools in Chicago, can expect to graduate from college; that number for others in the same income bracket, but not attending charter school, is only 11 percent. The newspaper furthers that a Stanford University study in 2013 found that the average charter school student in Illinois gained two weeks in reading and a month in math over his or her peers. This is no product of the students who choose to attend, either; most are poor and come from troubled backgrounds. The success of Chicago’s programs isn’t an anomaly. An authoritative study on New York City charter schools published in the National Bureau of Economics Research (NBER) in September 2009 found similar

results: “on average, a student who attended a charter school for all of grades kindergarten through eight would close about 86 percent of the ‘Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap’* in math and 66 percent of the achievement gap in English.” Crucially, too, applicants to charter schools are overwhelmingly poorer than the average New York City public student, with minorities heavily represented amongst charter attendees. So why are charter schools so effective? In order to find out, I turned to Joelle Milton, a teacher at the Harlem Village Academy Charter Elementary School. Milton, who previously taught for two years in Atlanta, Georgia, has a passion for her job that’s rarely found even here at Stuyvesant. She was explicit in why her school succeeds: it’s the balance of autonomy and professional development. While teachers are allowed to pursue what they want in the classroom, the school also has academic directors who would sit in and provide feedback if a teacher were to request they do so. Beyond that, Milton pointed out an immediate benefit of not being beholden to Department of Education standards—instead of having to buy a million dollar math curriculum, the school is able to fill its library with books and its classrooms with technology. Beyond that, Milton said that anything she wants to buy for teaching arrives within a week, accrediting this liberty to the trust between teachers and the principal. Finally, the last component of the school’s pedagogical framework relies on parent outreach—on top of parent-teacher conferences twice a year and weekly conference reports, teachers are encouraged to both call and text parents, and the principal mandates that they visit their students’ homes at the beginning of the year. Harlem Village Academy School is just one successful example of the charter school model. As Milton told me at the end of our conversation, “one charter school looks so different from another just down the street.” While some charters are certainly less effective than others, in the end, the competitive aspect of school funding will ensure that the better strategies

proliferate. And gradually, as teachers explore the possibilities granted to them by being free of regulation, new methods of teaching will emerge—it is this atmosphere of exploration and discovery that helps make charter schools the success that they are. The movement against charter schools must be stopped. Although a September 2013 PDK/Gallup poll found that just under 70 percent of the American public supports charter schools, charter schools continue to provide education to only five percent of students nationwide (out of the over 90 percent of students who attend public school). The most important obstacle is the force of the teachers’ union, which unconditionally opposes progress on the charter front; since most teachers at charters aren’t part of the union system, the schools pose a threat to the lobby’s reigning influence over education in New York—if it is to combat the notorious inertia of the public school system, the city administration must find a way around the unions. In the meantime there’s no reason that Mayor de Blasio and School Chancellor Carmen Fariña can’t take the successful policies implemented at charter schools and attempt to apply them to the public school system as a whole. For example, Caroline Hoxby, a chaired professor of economics at Stanford University and author of the NBER report points to some strategies correlated

with charter success. Among them are simple improvements like spending more time daily on English, a disciplinary policy based on small rewards and small penalties, and a mission statement that emphasizes academic performance. She also pointed to more ambitious policies like a slightly longer school year and the absolutely revolutionary concept of basing teacher salary upon performance, not seniority or credentials. Step by step, New York City needs to improve its public education system. The charter school movement provides a path forward: a strong education for many of the city’s most struggling pupils. In a time of national education reform like Common Core and even the recent change to the SAT, the mayor and his staff should look to continuing Bloomberg’s policies, not acquiescing to the unions’ and teachers’ lobby. New Yorkers, too, must lend their support to the nascent movement. As a city, it is our responsibility to ensure that de Blasio’s election last year doesn’t preclude education reform for the next four. Let’s push for charter schools. Quite simply, they work. * The “Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap” is the difference in test scores between students from the high-performing affluent suburb of Scarsdale and those from Harlem, Manhattan.

Alisa Su / The Spectator

Anne Duncan / The Spectator

The Kodsi Column: Pushing Forward, Not Falling Back

Jessica Wu / The Spectator

A Hairy Situation

By Danielle Eisenman When I was in the fourth grade, I drank spilled Pepsi off a grimy street. The other day at lunch, I lifted my arms. What do these two things have in common? Both resulted in the same reaction—faces of disgust along with explosive laughter. For some reason, the idea of

female body hair always evokes a considerably intense reaction from people. A tuft of hair peeking out of my shirt sleeve has sparked shrieks from my friends and family, intense sleepover gossip, and the occasional “You are vile” look. I’ve even been referred to as “Armpit Girl.” Not shaving has a pretty bad rap. If you’re on the hairy side, you’re usually thought to be one or more of three things: unsanitary, not very put-together, or a naïve hippie-type who overuses the word “feminist.” This, I think, is ridiculous. People tend to have the misconception that not shaving is dirty. Keep in mind, when I say dirty, I don’t mean it in the sexual “Let’s get down and dirty” way, because, as a certain freshman guy told me, “Of course women should shave! We [males] wouldn’t do ‘em if they didn’t!” Apparently, not shaving is unhygienic because armpits get sweaty—but heads and eyebrows get sweaty as well. And I

have a feeling that most of the guys using the hygiene excuse are not advocating to swap out Miss Billboard Swimsuit Model’s luscious locks with a bald head to go with her bald underarms, bikini line, and legs. While a woman’s hygiene is considered to be important in society, her attractiveness and appeal are even more important. Essentially, being “doable” rules above all else. There’s this idea that not removing body hair makes a woman less put-together than a woman who does. Because of society’s perception of beauty, a woman who’s a little hairy may be seen as someone who doesn’t really acknowledge all of her responsibilities. After the initial discovery of my notso-baldness at lunch one day, three of my friends sat there telling me, “You know, you really should shave.” They said this as if it is a woman’s duty to be hairless. Apparently, along with doing homework, feed-

ing my cat, and all of that other stuff, it’s my responsibility to be whatever they think is “presentable.” I asked why they thought so, and one of my friends spoke up. “It’s just society. That’s what’s considered attractive, so shaving is just something you got to do,” he said. This idea that women owe their attractiveness to society is echoed throughout the media. Every day, you see at least one Venus or Nair advertisement with women at the peak of societal perfection. They boast their tan, skinny bodies and naked legs and underarms. These are the girls who have got the goods. Remember ladies, if you want to be sexy like them, buy those razors because you have to remove every single hair from all your bodies! Girls, ignore the imaginary laws being imposed upon you by society! It’s bizarre that anyone would ever be negatively judged for not dragging a piece of cheap metal across their arm-

pit a couple times a week. Of course, it’s ultimately up to you what you do with your body. But remember this, having hair on your body doesn’t make you dirty or messy. It means you’re a healthy woman whose body does what it’s naturally supposed to do. And if it makes you a pretentious feminist hippie to some people, so be it. There should be nothing taboo about your armpits. Wear that tank top to school and throw that hand up in the air! The last thing you should feel is shame. Here’s a message for everyone (guys, that means you, too): if anyone ever judges you based on your hair, race, weight, or looks—whatever insignificant thing it may be—they are people you definitely do not need in your life. You are you, and you should never let anyone’s irrelevant opinion change that. So, the next time you think less of a girl because of the hair on her body, think about why you’re actually judging her.


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 8

Opinions By Sharon Lin The ubiquitous “No Loitering” sign that hangs outside many of the private institutions we encounter every day is almost always ignored. While many private businesses would prefer if customers came and left after their purchases, patrons often spend an extended period of time inside socializing. However, what customers don’t realize is that by taking their time and hanging out with friends in a space that is not free but rented by businesses, they are stealing from the stores. By taking up valuable room, these throngs limit the number of people a business is able to serve, sometimes even chasing away potential customers due to a rowdy atmosphere. After all, when the number of seats is finite, there are only so many patrons who can stay before space runs out. While businesses such as the McDonald’s on Chambers St. and the Barnes and Noble in TriBeCa are blooming hubs of activity during the day, they often become congested with students after school. Whether they are aimlessly chattering with friends, forming study groups, or waiting for a club event that is still hours away, these bands of teenagers have attracted attention from the businesses— for all of the wrong reasons. For instance, the employees at

McDonald’s complained that the students disrupted the atmosphere and bothered other customers, which eventually resulted in the banning of noncustomers at McDonald’s during Regents week.

When the weather outside is frosty and there’s nowhere comfortable to go in the school, what can students do? Although we often perceive these fast food joints as public areas, these businesses have a responsibility to maintain a pleasant atmosphere for customers. There is only so far a store can go before even a paying customer exceeds the limits of his or her stay. Some students complained that they simply need a place to stay, and accused McDon-

ald’s of being unfair when they kicked out the students. Places such as Whole Foods are large enough that they generally do not mind who sits in their dining area, but during finals week students were asked to leave because the placed was filled with students even before the usual lunch rush. But if students aren’t allowed to stay inside popular stores to rest and talk, where else can they go? Problems such as this often stem from the inability of Stuyvesant to lend a comfortable area for simply hanging out and grabbing a bite to eat. While the halls may appear comfortable and quiet, the dance crews, various clubs, and dirty floors make it an unattractive place for students to study and hang out. While the cafeteria is available to students during their lunch periods, complaints about how it is often loud and bothersome dissuade many students from eating lunch inside. Furthermore, there are very few floors where students may congregate during their free periods. Even on the floors where students may gather, the noise level is uncomfortably loud and teachers often complain about the commotion that students cause in the hallways. If anything, Stuyvesant ought to make a change, especially during Regents week, to allow students to stay in a com-

Philip Shin / The Spectator

Who’s Loitering?

fortable area to study and socialize. Too often, it is the school’s fault that students are caught outside causing trouble rather than staying inside. When the weather outside is frosty and there’s nowhere comfortable to go in the school, what else can students do? At the very least, the school needs to create a space that is open to the students, comfortable, and convenient. The library is a viable option, but requires that students stay cooped up in silence in yet another part of the school. And with its limited seating, there are only so many students permitted to stay there even if they see it as a desirable option. Classroom use must be requested, and even when requests are granted, classroom use comes with a plethora of rules from the teachers that students are expected to follow. What makes

spaces such as McDonald’s popular is their welcoming atmosphere and lack of rules— apart from not disturbing other customers, of course. A space such as a student lounge would be both convenient and student-friendly, creating the perfect comfortable area for students to relax after school. It could serve the same function that private businesses have served for students recently, without running the risk of disturbing other customers. In addition, students could grab something quick to eat or drink outside, and return to the room with their friends in comfort. It is not the fault of businesses that they have been forced to limit the amount of time students can spend in their establishments. Rather, it is the fault of the school for not providing a place where students can stay when not in class.

By Brian Dong Bryan Lee Curtis, a smoker of 20 years, died looking like a living corpse. Even before he reached death’s door, his atrophied body was reminiscent of a skeleton. His sharp cheekbones protruded from a shrivelled face. His neck was tainted a gruesome shade of crimson. His thin arms jutted out from his wasted shoulders. Just 10 weeks prior, this miserable body belonged to a muscular, energetic man brimming with life. He was only 34. Mr. Curtis is but one of half a million Americans who suffer through this torture every year. The grand executioner, tobacco, is one of this country’s most notorious killers. Claiming more lives than did World War II, legions of Americans still insist on consuming this horrendous plant. This needs to stop, and luckily, CVS pharmacy is attempting to stop that. The pharmacy boldly announced on February 5, 2014 that it would stop selling cigarettes. In a reality where people are poisoning themselves, this praiseworthy decision will save

lives and inflict major damage on the tobacco titans. By removing cigarettes from its inventory, CVS, as the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, will reduce the number of smokers by making it more difficult to obtain cigarettes. Let’s be honest here: we’re all lazy at the core. If customers who are not yet addicted are forced to walk an extra three blocks to get a pack of cigarettes, chances are they won’t bother getting them. The tobacco industry thrives off of addicts like Mr. Curtis; when something as addictive as tobacco is simple enough to receive by asking for it over the counter, it’s no wonder why so many people smoke. Furthermore, as easy as it is for an adult to become addicted, teens are three times more likely to develop this lethal habit. Because of their hormones and undeveloped brains, teens are more prone to making rash decisions. In fact, according to the American Lung Association, 68 percent of adult smokers began when they were 18 or younger. Many of these teen smokers are badly influenced by friends or fam-

ily, but they can still be saved. The government’s aggressive anti-tobacco campaign has exposed the horrendous consequences of smoking, and CVS’s very public statement only reaffirms that notion. Grotesque images of wasted lungs and rotted teeth combined with public denouncements may just be enough to convince a teen from picking up that first cigarette. As a large and respectable company, CVS may also influence other vendors to stop selling cigarettes. Although such a decision may cost the company an estimated $2 billion in yearly profits, the long-term benefits are very enticing. In an increasingly health-oriented society, health-related products are a lucrative industry. Over the past decade, health food has become very popular. Businesses such as Whole Foods have expanded rapidly and made great profits. Greek yogurt alone was a $1.5 billion U.S. industry in 2011. According to the Organic Trade Association Survey, from 2000 to 2010, the percentage of organic food in total food sales more than tripled. Clearly, people value their health so much that they are willing to spend more money on healthy food. Larry Merlo, CVS president and CEO, stated that the company’s discontinuation of cigarettes will help the pharmacy’s reputation “for future growth as a health care company.” Of course, CVS is not the paragon of health-affiliated businesses, but if it manages to convince enough people that it harbors the same intentions as the health giants, there’s a high chance it will attract more customers. Subsequently, compet-

itors would follow suit in order to keep pace with competition. The net result could be a massive chain reaction causing the tobacco titans to gradually suffocate from lack of demand. Tobacco’s terribly bewitching power has claimed the lives of too many people. With every puff of smoke, this seductive assassin brings us closer to

death’s door. Fortunately, however, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the dangers tobacco presents. Supported by President Obama himself, CVS’s daring decision to abandon the lucrative tobacco business will set a positive example to rival corporations and the public alike.

Zovinar Khrimian/ The Spectator

Justin Kong / The Spectator

Death on a Stick: CVS’s Grand Anti-tobacco Campaign


SING! 2014 The Stuyvesant Spectator March 18, 2014

JPhilip Shin / The Spectator

What’s Inside? Soph-Frosh SING!

p. 10-11

Junior SING!

p. 12-13

Senior SING!

p. 14-15

Behind the Scenes

p. 16-17

Top Fives

p. 18

Band Feature

p. 19

Scoreboard

FRIDAY

Seniors

Juniors

SophFrosh

Overall Script Acting Dance Band Vocal Sets Technical Costumes

86 68 77 86 80 84 86 76 72

61 53 63 66 57 61 64 55 61

66 63 64 70 69 65 50 50 66

Overall Script Acting Dance Band Vocal Sets Technical Costumes

79 68 71 68 77 77 88 70 79

58 48 59 52 55 63 59 51 65

63 60 56 60 61 57 54 42 54

TOTAL

1089

820

832

SATURDAY

(Each judge’s maximum and minimum scores dropped)


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Soph-Frosh SING!

Soph-Frosh SING! By Emma Loh with additional reporting by Annique Wong Though they promised an out-of-this-world performance, this year’s SophFrosh SING! proved to be nothing that hasn’t been seen on Earth before. A boy-meetsgirl storyline, an overbearing mother, and Starbucks all took the spotlight, making Soph-Frosh SING! feel like an ordinary day of high school, rather than an extraterrestrial expedition. However, despite being weighed down by a formulaic plotline taken from any John Hughes movie, the talent of numerous crews and actors rejuvenated the audience and transformed the performance into an enjoyable experience. As one of the best Soph-Frosh performances in the past three years, Soph-Frosh played to their strengths to impress the judges and beat Junior SING! for the first time in more than a decade. Soph-Frosh SING!, headed by coordinator Rahul Francis, executive producer Rishika Jikaria, and producers Annabelle Gary, Winston Venderbush, and Xin Italie, began with four Stuyvesant students enjoying their postfinals relief at Starbucks. While waiting on line, Lucas (sophomore Philip Chun) and Connor (freshman Alec Dai) recognized a peculiarlooking girl standing beside them, to the confusion of their two friends. In order to explain themselves, Lucas launched into a flashback of his spring break of sophomore year through an alien chorus’s rendition of Katy

Perry’s “E.T.” The chorus was generally powerful in its vocals, but the performance soon turned dull due to the chorus’s absence of choreography, instead choosing to stay anchored in a single line across the stage. During this performance, the costumes for the chorus consisted of underwhelming all-black outfits embellished with duct tape and neon-colored pipe cleaner antennae headbands. Unfortunately, this set the tone for the rest of the production, such as in “Somebody That I Used to Know,” during which most of the chorus was outfitted in typical everyday clothes rather than those from the future. Excited for vacation, Lucas and Connor arrived at the Interstellar Space Agency with the intention of traveling to Mars to build houses for the needy in an effort to bolster their college resumes. However, en route to Mars, a malfunctioning GPS caused the two to spin out of control and crash. Waking up from the wreckage, Lucas and Connor discovered that they had landed on Pluto, a dwarf planet inhabited by Englishproficient, Earth-hating aliens and reigned over by an erratic Miss Governor (freshman Kate Johnston). Johnston’s stage presence was indomitable in the production; through her whimsical hand gestures, curt diction, and oddball regency, she was one best actresses in all of SING!. Soon after first sight of her, Lucas befriended the Governor’s daughter, Violet (freshman Emily Ma), a seemingly uptight and studious image

of propriety. Despite Lucas’s and Violet’s contrasting personalities, an abundance of corny jokes and the goading of Violet’s girlfriends propelled their relationship into something more. Though this romance dominated the plotline of Soph-Frosh SING!, it felt forced and unnatural because of the lack of chemistry between Lucas and Violet. Alongside eccentric Miss Governor, it was obvious to see the disparity in characterization among the protagonists of the show. Chun’s portrayal of a typical Stuyvesant student was genuine but unmemorable. Ma played a reserved Plutonian blue blood who falls for Romeo, making her character not only predictable, but uninteresting. Not only did the cliché characterization of the two protagonists constrict their acting, but it left the audience skeptical of why the two fell in love so swiftly and so strongly. A song that described this interplanetary young love actually trivialized the relationship with trite lyrics like “He’s really nice.” Despite this, the onstage kiss between the pair at the height of the production was well-received at all three performances, garnering roars of approval. While the script was disappointing in its depth, it revealed a distinctive sense of quirky humor that produced some of the most memorable moments of SING!. Amidst a sea of stale “Mean Girls” references, immature jokes, and clever pop culture jokes that referred to Chris Christie and Venmo advertisements,


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Soph-Frosh SING!

Could Be the One a crowd-favorite of the night was the character of Millicent (freshman Jojo Attal), a tart and lanky black sheep among Violet’s girlfriends. Her awkwardly defiant dancing during “Lucas Could Be the One” and hilarious 10-second rendition of “All By Myself” made Millicent a consistent source of comedic relief. The highlights of SophFrosh SING!’s dances were those that were more unique in concept, rather than technically skilled. While difficult to match senior step’s winning performance, sophfrosh step’s cameo as flames of the spaceship collision impressed with their intriguing beat and originality. The audience was treated to a crew that stepped, clapped and snapped together until the riveting, super-speed trio of the three directors (Eunice Kim, Peter Samuel and Jenny Shen) at the conclusion. The engaging choreography refrained from constantly repeating moves. Another notable performance came from girls’ hiphop, which featured rapping from producer Winston Venderbush. While unintelligible, the idea of a Stuyvesant student decked in gold chains and a snapback was an amusing touch to the performance. Girls’ hip-hop has been, notorious in past SING! performances for its overwhelming number of hair flips, but this year Soph-Frosh was able to pull off an accurately synced performance that was choreographed well to the music for a confident effect. However, there was a lot of arm swinging integrated in Girls’ Hip Hop and the audience

would have appreciated a little more difficult choreography such as the cartwheels during the last few seconds of their routine. As a farewell gift before he returned to Earth, Lucas surprised Violet with a private performance from the contemporary dance crew, accompanied by Passenger’s “Let Her Go.” The one-maleseven-female crew was unusual, since most contemporary crews are all-female. However, the advantage of having a male allowed for impressive lifts and the ability to directly translate song to dance, as seen during the last seconds of the performance when Emmanuelle Gourier and Frances Dodin almost held hands but didn’t. Contemporary’s depiction of two lovers being separated was fresh and romantic, illustrating Lucas’s feelings towards Violet in one pensive moment. What was most undermining to the show, however, was the lack of variety in the set. The house that Lucas and Connor crashed into when they arrived on Pluto served as the set for the majority of the show, apart from the use of scrims or the addition or removal of a bench. Whether or not Connor was flirting with the local girls, or Plutonians were trying to save their planet from heaps of garbage, the bottom right corner of the stage always displayed a cracked wall with a spaceship embedded into it. While the spaceship was a well-constructed prop, the set of Pluto looked like a typical suburban house and would have benefited from the incorporation

of craters, planets, stars, or futuristic elements. While Tech diminished the overall performance, every performance in Soph-Frosh was elevated by its tenacious soundtrack. The band added another dimension to the mediocre vocal performances with its clean execution and seamless synchronization with the dances. Rock songs were dominated by the sharp performances of sophomore Jean Joun on the electric guitar and sophomore Tyler Small on the drums. Band was undoubtedly one of the strongest crews; Soph-Frosh SING! is indebted to its band for synthesizing its diverse talents into one cohesive production. Despite its uninspired script, Soph-Frosh SING! surprised spectators with the vast and impressive amount of talent in its precise dance crews and savvy band. Soph-Frosh was able to shift the atmosphere of SING! by defining a new standard of quality for an underclassmen performance. While the show definitely had its shortcomings, the pride of a second-place finish gave the class of 2016 a valuable opportunity to improve drastically over the next year. We hope to see Junior SING! break away from stereotypes in 2015 and challenge itself in creativity. SING! truly shines in the moments that reflect our own spontaneity and genuine imperfections; a gawky girl off to the side, who steals the show dancing to her own tune rather than that of the popular girls, Cindy Lauper, or anyone else.

Photos by Philip Shin, Justin Strauss, and Jin Hee Yoo


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Junior SING!

Clowns, Elephants, Freaks, and Creatures By Emma Bernstein and Tina Jiang Welcome to the Junior SING!ing circus! Get ready for the show of a lifetime, where you’ll witness dysfunctional families, adorable romances, catchy tunes, and more! Junior SING!, led by Coordinator Emily Ruby and Producers Isaac Gluck, Natalie Ruby, Claire Burghard, and Chloe Long, produced an engaging, but sometimes perplexing, circus to watch. The script, written by Coby Goldberg and Kyle Olesiuk, was filled with lighthearted jokes that referenced everything from Mean Girls to the imminent SATs. Although the juniors attempted the most complex plotline of the night, juggling topics of sabotage, romance, and self-discovery, they were a little too ambitious for their 60-minute slot, ultimately leaving the audience dazed and a bit confused. As the curtains opened, the audience was immediately impressed by the work of Art (directed by Anna Kheyfets, Samantha Wong, and Lydia Wu) and Tech (directed by Anne Duncan and Andrew Fischer) as an impressive circus tent of vibrant reds, blues, and yellows adorned with colorful balloons took center stage. This shared the spotlight with a whimsical ticket booth accompanied by twinkling lights and a beautifully crafted elephant dressed in a tutu. The SING!ing circus was ready to run. The opening scene started with representation from all cast and crew members, with focus placed on the line

of clowns dressed in colorful patterns of stripes and dots swaying as they sung a rendition of “Pompeii.” Contemporary, posed as acrobats, kicked off the show with impressive cartwheels and twirls, a creative routine that sought to combine dancing with gymnastics. Unfortunately for Chorus (directed by Julie Kim and Aida Piccato), however, the small size of Junior SING! particularly affected their 18-member group, which could not clearly project their voices over the sound of the band. As a result, voices were muddled together and song lyrics could not be heard, save the “eh eh oh” melody that starts the song. Following the song, the plot opened as Britney (Sophia Hargil), the ring leader, welcomed everyone to the SING!ing circus with grandiose introductions and flourishing hand gestures: her uncle, George Clowney, tightly clutched an LSAT prep book (Maks Bondarenko); Pirro the “sass-tastic” fortune teller (Franco Caputo); Ella the lion tamer (Rebecca YusteGolob); Amelia the mime (Jasmine Aurora Thomas); Colette the snake charmer (Gabrielle Giles); Gregor and Igor, the strongmen (Jarek Liang and Matthew Binshtok); and Ursula, the bearded lady (Coby Goldberg). The struggling circus was met by the DOE (Department of Entertainment), represented by its agent (Camille Perral), a cross woman with a tight bun and clicking heels. Perral’s flawless tone and strict movements coupled with her uptight business attire brought

the serious and mature character to life. Unimpressed by the opening scene, the DOE representative planned to grade the circus’s performance on a letter scale of E, S, N, and U, which would ultimately determine if the circus remained open. And as if this wasn’t enough drama, Britney’s sister, Jamie (Harmehar Kohli), decided to take advantage of the SING!ing circus’s predicament. She concocted a plan to ensure the circus received a U, so that she could use her husband, Black Heart Joe’s (Shane Lorenzen) riches to claim the ring leader position from her sister once the circus flopped. Kohli’s ability to bring a perfect mix of deviousness and sensitivity resulted in the most relatable and well-developed character of the night. The ongoing tension between Jamie and Britney became a huge part of the script, culminating with a brilliant, yet unbalanced, rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. Both Kohli’s and Hargil’s voices were excellent; however, Kohli had a more heartfelt tone that left the duet forced to lean on the hastily developed plot. Making up for it was the soul and passion of the two actors, helping to bring the animosity and conflict between the sisters to life—spreading the feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal to the audience. Lyrics like “The fights between us, you’ve lost all my trust” and “Cause we’re broken, in too deep,” added emotional depth and sincerity. Unfortunately for Junior SING!, the number of characters and subplots in this


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 13

Junior SING!

Beyond: Enter the SING!ing Circus! production was overwhelming, contributing greatly to the confusion felt by the audience. In addition to the two major frameworks of the story, it seemed as if each character had his or her own storylines throughout the development of the show, such as the cute love story between Dumbo and Ella, which drew smiles from the audience, and the internal conflicts of Uncle Clowney as he contemplated corruption as a means of getting into Lawvard. This ultimately created rushed development of the entire story as a whole, and left the audience spinning as they tried to keep track of the events that had happened. Despite the setback with the plot, Junior SING! was defined by a number of different highlights that clearly exemplified the talents and abilities of the grade. At the circus’s lowest point, when ring leader Britney loses all hope of maintaining control of the circus, the mime finally breaks out of her silence to save the day, symbolizing the importance of speaking up. Agitated by her fellow performers’ low morale, she decides to boost the team’s confidence with an upbeat delivery of “Just the Way You Are,” striking a chord in our hearts, along with adding a much-needed surprise. Thomas performed one of the best sung tunes in the show and enveloped the music with pure emotion and passion. The song allowed her to show off her incredible vocal range and technique, making us wish she had played a larger role in the show. The audience also fell for the innocent love between Dumbo and Ella, best repre-

sented in their “You and I” duet. Dumbo is hat crazy— and after learning that Ella had some killer “feet-hats,” he spent a few awkward seconds gawking her way, providing a much needed base for their romance. In comparison to the heated and intensive relationship between the two sisters, Dumbo and Ella provided a lighthearted break and connected with the audience through their clumsy and adorable interactions. As Cox plays the ukulele, lyrics like “Let’s get rich and buy some feet-hats so I can always match with you” struck a soft spot in the audience and melted their hearts. The melody was beautiful and sweet, providing a window into the two’s adorable relationship. The harmonies were well done and the two blended well, signifying their naive and innocent union. Certain crews also deserve applause for their unique choreography and their overall performances. Latin (Danielle Isakov and Michelle Li), introduced as circus lions, danced to the band’s version of “Run The Show” by Kat DeLuna. One of the most exciting crews of the night, Latin’s furry costumes and their powerful “roar” at the end of the performance portrayed fierce personality. The crew was well coordinated and the movements were almost always in sync, an impressive feat with their fast pace. Particularly outstanding were Isakov and Li’s assertiveness and passion on the stage, coordinating quick and powerful footwork, in addition to the twists and lifts that drew huge applause from the audience. Boys’ hip-hop, introduced

as magicians, was also an impressive crew that effectively had the honor of closing the show. The performance was one of the most creative performances of the night, with the boys incorporating a variety of different props, such as the blue magician capes and the wands. Perhaps their signature routine was that with the shoelaces, portraying the movement of puppets across the stage. The unfortunate lack of coordination was dismissible by the immense creativity within the routine. With such an innovative idea, the potential for an even better performance was there, but was definitely not achieved. After seeing this performance, the DOE agent came in to grant the circus an E for outstandingly excellent, saving the show and validating their hard work. As a whole, Junior SING! definitely ran the show with their persistent level of creativity during the production; one just has to take into account some of the little things incorporated into the storyline to notice it. Take, for example, the shower of Zhangbucks that Black-Heart Joe loved so much (100-dollar bills with Principal Zhang’s face), or the innovative jackin-the-box designed by Tech, or even the silly “Next Day” transitions played to the tune of “Afro Circus,” as Chorus hilariously made its way across the stage. Our grade for the SING!ing circus? A solid S, with room for improvement in next year’s Senior SING! performance.

Photos by Philip Shin, Justin Strauss, and Jin Hee Yoo


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Senior SING!

Senior SING!, (Pre)Historically By Daniel Kodsi and Justin Weltz Good afternoon, I’m Daniel Kodsi and I’m Justin Weltz, and welcome to our review of Senior SING! This year, the show began with the recognizable voices of Clay Walsh and Marie Frolich over the sound system, doing a witty riff on their daily announcements and proclaiming the coming of an imminent ice age. Overall, the seniors wove love, segregation, and jokes about Congress into a impressive performance. By the time the seniors broke out into their spirit song, there was no doubt who had stolen the show. And now, please rise for the pledge of allegiance… Although the plot might have been cliché—a distillation of any love story where the two sweethearts are separated by circumstance (poor boy loves rich girl)—the seniors’ overall performance, produced by Alexander Chung, Zoe Handy, Regana Alicka, and Shafeen Hemnani, and the script, written by Elena Milin, Mashfiq Ahmen, Jeremy Karson, and William Chang, more than made up for any weaknesses. Winning with a total of 1089 points (over 200 more than the runners up), the seniors had the best disses, the most engaging dance crews, a brilliant band, the strongest actors, and a set good enough to get 10s from eight out of nine judges on Saturday night. Jibes at everything

from Toronto governor Rob Ford to rapper Kanye West solicited a constant flow of laughter from the audience and though some of the humor was sophomoric, senior screenwriters largely refrained from making the easy jokes and disses and instead were more creative. As the curtain lifted, the chorus sang “Baba Yetu” while surrounded by a dynamic set that included pterodactyls hanging from the ceiling above a lush prehistoric landscape with a glimmering waterfall painted on the backdrop. The set included a bridge, perhaps the greatest technical feat of any of the three shows. The Step and Contemporary dance crews performed during the opening number and, at one point, were accompanied by Ms. Leslie Bernstein on drums for a stellar rendition that ultimately left the audience in awe. The band not only provided an incredible accompaniment to the first song, but also was a highlight throughout, ensuring that every musical number was a triumph through their use of interesting instruments to create a variety of sounds. This striking intro segued into some girl talk between the Chief’s daughter, Aliya (Juliette Hainline), and her friend, Keira (Josie Chun), with Chun delivering one of the funniest lines of the play about her long-lost love - the glorious Mr. Park. The following speech by the “village chief, Big Sib chair, ARISTA president, SU presi-

dent, Assistant Principal of Security and Family Affairs, and Assistant Treasurer of the Pokemon Club” (Nick Kaidoo), an introduction to the Sacred Annual Pyrofest (SAP), humorously—yet also potently—highlighted the tensions between the dominant Homo Sapiens and the subservient Neanderthals. Kaidoo’s “African” accent combined with his flawless delivery made every time he spoke a pleasure to watch, fully justifying the best actor posters that can still be found taped to the school’s walls. Theo (Gene Gao), too, was phenomenal, playing an awkward, shy teenager with a crush on a girl out of his league (or in this case, species). Not just a strong actor, but also a singer, both his solos, “Do You Want to Date a Caveman?” and “Very Superficial,” were fantastic. The high note at the end of the latter was unexpected and impressive, fully capturing the audience’s attention and powerfully ending the song. The two male leads weren’t the only strong members of the senior’s troupe, however. Frances Shapiro, who played “Chief’s Wife” and Israt Hossain, the Neanderthal leader, were both great choices for their parts. Hossain, especially, gave real credence and depth to her character as she dealt with her rebellious son and commiserated with Kaidoo while the village froze to death. Additionally, Hainline did an excellent job of portraying her emotions to the audience


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

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Senior SING!

Victorious, Dominates Once Again throughout her character’s roller-coaster love story, and showed off her unbelievable singing range in the song, “Let it Go.” Even the minor roles were expertly filled. For instance, the Medicine Man (Ethan Schwab) peppered every village scene with unexpected outbursts such as “THE PLOT THICKENS,” which lightened the mood of even the most serious scenes. The well executed transitions between his sleepy presence on stage and his energized contributions to random conversations demonstrated Schwab’s skill as an actor. Even the village messenger’s role (Zane Birenbaum) was made interesting as Birenbaum cracked jokes about Chris Christie and made every entrance attention-grabbing. Oleg (Tasmuir Rabb) also provided constant comedic relief as he passed himself off as just a dull-witted caveman, but later revealed that he was a savvy investor in the derivatives market. The acting, however, was not flawless. Even though Thaosin Bari is a highly talented actor who delivered his lines with energy and passion, his character Frederick spent most of the performance yelling at the top of his lungs, a shtick that grew old after the first few scenes despite the laughter it drew from the audience. After a beautiful routine by Contemporary, who sported unique costumes (green tops with leaves running along the arms and legs gave them a nature theme), it was revealed that someone extinguished the tribal

fire on which everyone’s lives depend. The chief decided to send a ragtag group composed of Frederick, Aliya, Oleg, and Bertha (Dorit Rein), an old, brave woman who volunteered, in order to find a new source of fire. Back in the village, the audience was treated to an exhilarating, creatively choreographed fight scene that came down to a showdown between the martial arts crew director Hudson Lee and taekwondo expert Luke Morales, both incredibly gifted athletes who pulled of flips and jumping kicks with ease. The highlight was when one of Hudson’s cronies gave a ‘purple nurple’ to Morales, who responded by throwing a blue rave stick at his attacker and shouting ‘Hadouken!’ Though the pretext of the fight was the class difference dividing the small village, that message ended up muddled and lost amongst all the noise. Perhaps if it had been explored further, this year’s Senior SING! could have reached the next echelon of excellence. The travelers, on their search for fire, encountered dinosaurs. Barney (Eddie Zilberbrand) came out next and introduced Step, who wore cute dinosaur hoodies as they sang a catchy and all-inclusive diss to the other grades’ shows to go with their opening stomps. Their well-rehearsed pinwheel formations, during which they divided up into three groups and did different steps, put them leagues above the other two step crews. The expedition was, in

fact, able to get fire from the dinosaurs, cuing the entrance of the Latin crew. All nine couples managed to pull off an impressive and difficult variety of lifts, while remaining synchronized and performing with smiles on their faces and energy. After the audience was led to believe throughout the show that Theo stole the village’s fire, in a major plot twist, Aliya revealed to Theo that she put out the fire in order to unite the tribes and pave the way for their love. The two lovers made amends and kissed, which marked the climax of Senior SING!. After the main characters left the scene, Zilberbrand engaged in a funny, though stereotypical, conversation with the offscreen voice of an Asian mother (voiced by Gao). In an uplifting conclusion, Theo and Aliya relit the wonderfully designed, fanpowered fire with embers from Barney’s village. Although this ending resolved the superficial obstacles condemning Aliya’s and Theo’s love, it did not address the problems that defined the relationship between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens. However, the seniors’ wellwritten script, great actors, and creative dance crews overshadowed this minor failing. Keira, still tied up for being the supposed executor of Aliya’s plot to steal the fire, pointed out that they forgot just one thing… a win for Senior SING!

Photos by PhotosKim, by Danny PhilipStrauss, Shin, Justin Justin Strauss, and Sam Kim and Jin Hee Yoo


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Behind the Scenes Behind the Curtains of SING! By Caroline Bredthauer, Rose Cytryn, Omar Hegazy and Elvin Shoyfer

It begins in the middle of January. Facebook groups are created, administrators are selected, and then everyone begins to get notifications; director apps are up; apply to be a producer! People cluster in groups on the half floor, discussing and planning what they want to do; everyone contributes different themes, from fairy tales to superheroes to the Roaring ‘20s. And then suddenly, like a meteor hitting Earth, SING! season takes over the Stuy population. For a month, a large portion of the student body dedicates their time to endless rehearsals, late nights, and countless modifications in the attempt to make their SING! production nothing short of perfect. Finally, the first day of SING! comes around. On stage, weeks of hard work are brought to light, but what exactly happens behind the curtain? SOPH-FROSH SING! Beyond the hundred or so kids that stay up until 8 at night occupying separate corners of particular floors rehearsing, building, or painting, many Stuyvesant students only see the SING! performances on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night in the middle of March. Though many students participate, not many people outside of the SING! atmosphere truly understand the effort creating and producing SING takes. It takes weeks for the writers of the script to settle on a single plot, with cues cut and pasted in different parts of the script. Every crew stays after school over the course of February, despite the snow, to nail down every second of their routine. Even minutes before the performance, stage directions are being finalized over walkie talkies and Tech is going over every moment of the show in order to prepare for quick and flawless set changes. As most students are studying for finals or regents, the five chosen writers along with the producers and coordinator meet outside the New York Public Library to go over the script. They’ve been sharing ideas for over a week and now finally have a working script that will undergo frequent revisions and changes. Besides looking up space puns that will inevitably have the audience laughing out loud and making sure the plot is easy enough to follow, the writers have to work within certain boundaries. They have to constantly remind themselves they only have 60 minutes, and that they can only have one set, so the consistency of the production’s setting is crucial. It’s a constant loop of second-guessing when it comes to crew placements and song choices, and many backup choices are needed because Juniors and Seniors get first pick.

Opinions By Anne Duncan and Coby Goldberg Early in Junior SING!’s Saturday night performance, one of the alumnus judges stood up and left the audience, reportedly in tears. The judge’s scoring of the SING! performances was ignored, since she did not watch Senior SING! The exit was in response to the role played by junior Darien Cox as the dull-witted assistant to millionaire Black Heart Joe, played by junior Shane Lorenzen. The judge believed that because Cox is a Caribbean American, his role as a servant to the rich white character indicated racial stereotyping. Another issue was the role of biracial Asian and Black junior Jasmine Thomas as a silent mime. This was by no means the intended message of the Junior SING! writers, producers, cast directors, or mem-

Run-through after run-through, the writers work to pencil in better jokes and funnier lyrics, wondering if a certain crew would be better placed at the beginning or the end of the show, all the while picturing just how this will all play out on stage. Every student at Stuyvesant knows of SING!, so it’s no surprise that freshmen know exactly what they’re signing up for when choosing to become a part of it. Freshman Livia Kunins-Berkowitz, one of the cast directors of SophFrosh SING!, was more than excited to take part. “I feel like this is really about showcasing all the different talents we have at this school,” Kunins-Berkowitz said during Monday’s extended SophFrosh dress rehearsal. Kunins-Berkowitz, also a writer, also commented on how far this year’s SophFrosh SING! has come. “It’s really great to see how it progresses; we didn’t have a show during finals week […] and now we have the dances and acting and singing.” Kunins-Berkowitz is right. The first run-through in the cafeteria is choppy and unorganized, with stand-ins and partially choreographed dances. The cast reads from scripts and is learning stage directions, art crew has only started covering the canvas in paint, and each dance crew is on their own on some part of the fifth floor still finishing their routines. The transitions are off, and it’s obvious everyone knows how much work is ahead of them. Between the constant breaks to go over new ideas and the continuous comments, everyone watching sees the makings of a final SING! performance, a standpoint they just haven’t reached yet. Problems like these are expected, as SING! season is incredibly tense and time consuming. SophFrosh SING! Coordinator Rahul Francis, who has been working on this show from the very beginning, said, “We’ve made quite a few design changes in our sets. We’ve had trouble finishing it, due to waiting on materials, not having enough crew members, and other general stress.” As universal as this feeling is, crews continuously stay late fine-tuning every second of their performance. Many SophFrosh SING! participants leave school at 8PM after multiple run-throughs and hours of practice. Francis added in a long Facebook message, “I don’t know what we could’ve done without the few incredibly dedicated people on Tech and our amazing people on Art. They have literally been here every single day for the last few weeks. […] Shout out to them (they know who they are) because without them, we might not have such an amazing looking set.” At the beginning of the final week of rehearsals, cast director Fiona Cohen works hard to ignore the makeup crew’s chatting and Tech’s electric saw to focus on the

actors who she can barely hear. Between trying to figure out how to pass a cordless microphone between three girls during one of the funniest musical numbers in the script and scribbling a note that everyone backstage needs to walk behind the set or else they will be seen, Cohen finds a moment to tell me what she’s feeling: “I love SING! but it’s so stressful.” As the days count down, it seems that everyone is wishing for an extra week or a few more days to practice, but the first performance swiftly approaches. Teachers try to lighten the workload, but students still come to school exhausted. They meet at 4:50 in the third floor gym to review lines, go over steps, or note their cues one last time, because once the Seniors take a bow, it’s curtain up on the first performance of SophFrosh SING! 2014. JUNIOR SING! Before even making it to the first floor I could hear the sound of stomping, and I immediately thought that a herd of elephants had made its way into the junior SING! Rehearsal. However, I was surprised to find that a group of ten or so juniors was the source of all the racket: the junior step team was not averse to making a lot of noise. I had only been behind the scenes of junior SING! a few minutes, and I could already see that rehearsal was taking the “circus” theme very literally. Although rehearsal might have been chaotic, the juniors believed in the strength of their upcoming performances. Audrey Green (Latin) said, “Rehearsal was definitely stressful, but by the runthrough before Wednesday’s show our SING! really came together… Just like Stuy students, we procrastinated on working with band and finishing choreo, but we got it together in time for an honestly fantastic show.” Elsewhere in the lobby, several members of Rave were wandering the scene, twirling glow sticks with abandon, making it look easy. Juniors in clumps of twos and threes streamed in and out of the auditorium, many of them in garish clown face paint and brightly colored leotards or tutus. Glancing behind the stage, I discovered a whole host of actors and dancers chatting while preparing themselves for the full run-through taking place later in the evening. Upon entering the auditorium, I was surprised to notice several people simply sitting and watching the goings-on, seemingly just curious bystanders like myself. I found myself a bench and joined them. The stage was crowded with stagehands directing performers. Muted music wafted from the orchestra pit as the band practiced. An electric guitar riff suddenly burst through the relative quiet, and was met with much amuse-

ment. A duo with a lamp walked into Lecture Hall A and turned off the lights. Then they turned on their lamp, suffusing the room in bright purple, like the inside of an indigo carnival tent. There were so many things going on that I found it difficult to focus on one of them. Despite the apparent chaos, each individual group was working hard in order to prepare for the upcoming performance. People were joking and talking, but everyone I observed seemed intensely focused on what they were doing. The atmosphere was one of preparation, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time. At one point, a performer onstage struggled with her microphone, finally realizing, “Oh, it is on!” which got a laugh out of everyone in the theater. Tracy Yu (Co-Ed Hip Hop) agreed that the last days before the show inspired tons of focus in the actors and performers. “I think we got a lot done in a short amount of time,” she said. “It’s been tiring, but fun.” Tracy and her crew rehearsed in the lobby to music just loud enough that it would not disturb the neighboring step crew. After every successful run-through, they would stop dancing and take a short break to discuss how to do better next time. It was clear that a lot of effort had been put into their choreography, and it was equally clear that the same amount of effort had been put into every crew I’d seen working. The dedication of everyone involved in junior SING! was impressive. They were able to keep the mood light while simultaneously working very hard in order to put on a great show for the Stuyvesant community. Based on what I saw backstage, I was unsurprised by the level of focus and energy that took place during the actual performances. Next year’s juniors are going to have some big (clown) shoes to fill! SENIOR SING! With the great expectations of Senior SING! hanging over them, the Class of 2014 sought to deliver a spectacular performance while having fun and creating a memorable experience. “This is Senior SING!—this is something people look forward to for all four years of Stuy,” said a producer. Carrying four years of experience under their collective belt, the seniors were prepared to deliver a spectacular performance; however, this did not come without its roadblocks. The Wednesday performance was plagued with communication issues, and it was difficult for many seniors to come in on time during non-school days. Despite this, the seniors set out to achieve their vision of the show with determination. In one case, the costumes were used to emphasize particular themes or differences presented

The Theater’s Blind Eye to Race

bership as a whole. In the creation of the SING! characters, the script writers did not have race in mind at all. All roles in a SING! production are created before any casting begins. The role of Dumbo was designed to be one of comic relief, a frequent technique in writing SING! plots. Cox played that type of character very well, and, by any standards, he did an outstanding job. When casting began, six people were called back to read for the role of Dumbo, including Cox. “We chose Darien to play the role of Dumbo because of his ability to not only act comedically, but also to improvise,” junior cast director Thomas Perskin said. “Darien, as a comedic and improvisational actor, is as close to perfect as there is in this school.” Cox himself thought that he fit the role. “I loved my part and felt it suited me most

after reading just a few lines during auditions,” Cox said. “I felt really good about the performance we put in and it’s really upsetting to think that our loss would be due to such a ridiculous reaction to my character.” Clearly, Cox was the most fitting actor for the role. To not have cast Cox in the role solely based on his race would have been a real loss not just for Cox but for the show as a whole. And even if one is to jump to the conclusion that there was racial stereotyping in the opening of the Junior SING! script, one would only have to watch the show to its conclusion to see how misguided these assumptions are. By the end of the show, Thomas rallies the band of circus misfits to save the show in its final performance, and Cox stands up to his former boss, spending the boss’s money and quitting the job. “I just

feel that there are many more important things to focus on in the show,” Thomas said. In short, these characters have so much more to offer than their race. What’s most unfortunate about this whole situation, however, is the effect this response could have on future casting decisions. As it is, roles in shows are decided with a largely blind eye to race. If one looks at the most recent Stuyvesant Theater Community musical, West Side Story, the single African American actor, Peter Samuel, played the leader of a white gang in a play full of ethnic minority roles. The Stuyvesant mindset simply allows for us to overlook this. If any casting director must be put in the position where they are better off casting a weaker actor of a different race solely to make a judge feel more comfortable, we’re disappointed.

in the script. The Homo Sapiens, the upper class villagers, were depicted as more civilized and of a higher class—their costumes were made out of higher quality fabrics; conversely, the Neanderthals were treated as second-class citizens and donned tattered rags. The seniors interviewed emphasized their innovative usage of dance crews. Rather than rely solely on the incredible strength and talent of this year’s crews, they meticulously incorporated them into the script. Battles between different groups allowed them a unique opportunity to shed light on the differences and unique characteristics of characters and tribes. “For example, we had the boys hip-hop group’s dance represent a battle between the Neanderthals and the Homo Sapiens,” a member of Boy’s Hip-Hop said. Additionally, each crew was matched with specific elements of the show based on the nature and properties of its specific style. Contemporary Dance was chosen for the festival scene, for example, due to its association with the celebration of the human body. Dinosaurs were an obvious choice for the step crew, with their connotations of power and strength; likewise, the energetic and sensual nature of Latin dance made it a natural choice to represent fire. The participants in senior SING! were certain that their music played an essential role in setting them apart from the other grades. This year’s band featured a distinctly orchestral slant; with five exceptional string players, they were able to create a far more grandiose acoustic sound that suited the over-the-top nature of the production. “If you look at Soph-Frosh, their band comes primarily from a metal background; we’re different. We have a far more varied, orchestral group of players,” a member of the band said. Additionally, the band stepped it up this year in terms of discipline—-within the first two weeks, all pieces were arranged and learned; the remainder of SING! practice was spent purely on rehearsal. The Seniors paid great attention to technical creativity as well. They achieved a beautiful waterfall effect with a green screen and lights behind the set. After years of throwing around the idea of a waterfall with real water, they pulled off a fake one that looked just as good. The final effect was achieved with the efficient use of a cheap, yet good-looking, green screen saved from their underwater-themed Junior SING!. With their attention to detail, the greater thematic and symbolic structures of their performance, and their four years of experience and marvelous array of talent, the Class of 2014 will go down in (pre) history.

Finally, some have mentioned that stereotyping was, in general, too frequent and too extreme in all of the SING! performances this year. We do not seek to endorse or condemn the use of taking stereotypes to the extreme for the sake of comedy. We simply wish to say that if you create a caricatured role, whether it be of a gay man (a la Junior SING! 2013), an evil woman, or an unintelligent assistant, a talented actor such as Cox has the right to play that role. We apologize if we Stuyvesant students are at times naive about racial issues, or if anyone watching the show felt offended by the portrayal of black students in the SING! performances. We wish that the audience could have seen our SING! the way we intended. But we stand by the decision to attempt to cast with a blind eye to race.


The Spectator â&#x2014;? March 18, 2014

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Behind the Scenes

By The Photo Department


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Top Fives Spicing up nearly every scene with ridiculous comments, adorable facial reactions, and amusing wanderings and diversions on stage, Cox was an audience favorite from start to finish. His relationship with lion-tamer Ella was the cherry on the cake for his performance. 4. Shane Lorenzen, Black Heart Joe, Juniors In the hands of Lorenzen, Black Heart Joe, a money-obsessed caricature of a one-percenter, became hilarious and memorable. Combining superb delivery and projection of his lines with a great presence on stage, Lorenzen rapped, bribed and joked his way into the spotlight. 5. Tasmuir Rabb, Oleg, Seniors With a playful voice and funny punch lines, Oleg was one of the funnier characters in the senior show due to Rabb’s energy on the stage. Rabb cleverly and purposefully stumbled and giggled through his lines, delivering witty puns and gaining a very positive response from the audience.

Jin Hee Yoo / The Spectator

Songs

1. “Baba Yetu”, Chorus, Seniors The opening scene of Senior SING! featured this Swahili-language translation of the traditional Christian “Lord’s Prayer.” The striking reds and greys of the lighting, the stunning set, the swelling voices of the chorus, the contemporary and step dancers who moved with the music, and the richness of the string-heavy band (with the addition of a flute), combined with the song’s celebratory evocation of humanity’s more primitive past, provided for an epic opener. 2.“Just the Way You Are”, Jasmine Thomas, Juniors Although playing a silent mime for most of the show, Thomas’s most memorable line, “This is our

home,” and subsequent transition into “Just The Way You Are” were brilliantly executed. This great song choice was brought to its full potential by her ability to project her incredible range of vocals with the power of an entire chorus backing her up throughout the song. Although Junior SING! placed last this year, Thomas’s solo was a highlight of all three performances. 3.“Rolling in the Deep”, Harmehar Kohli and Fia Hargil, Juniors This duet between seemingly irreconcilable sisters is the perfect portrayal of the emotional turmoil both are experiencing. Kohli and Hargil’s facial expressions, body language, and strong vocals brought

a new meaning to the lyrics of the song and conveyed the tension and anger of the two characters in a way the words of the script never could have. The audience was truly transported into the drama of the circus and finally came to understand what the circus truly means to the sisters. 4. “Viva La Vida”, Chorus, Seniors Senior SING!’s chorus was truly incredible. Harmonizing perfectly and with every singer throwing emotion behind his or her words, its adaption of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” was even better than the original. The lyrics, too, flowed beautifully as the Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals drew in the audience with their story of change and societal evolution. 5. “Do You Want to Date a Caveman”, Gene Gao, Seniors This adorable rendition of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” from Disney’s Frozen, brought this prehistoric love story to life. The innocent nature of the song made this a perfect choice for Theo to express his love to Aliya. Executed with shyness and sincerity, this single verse brought out emotion from the audience, making it one of the most memorable moments for this inter-tribe relationship. Honorable Mention: “Superstitious”, Gene Gao, Seniors “Let it Go” Juliette Hainline, Seniors

Philip Shin / The Spectator

Moments

1.“You and I”, Dumbo and Ella, Juniors With the aid of a mime-delivered ukulele and microphone, Darien Cox and Rebecca Yuste delivered an endearing cover of Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I.” Set to a pink backdrop, Dumbo and

Ella sing of their plans to buy “feet hats” together and help the circus. The simplicity of this scene and the spot-on characters’ enthusiasm and naivete created a charming moment that captivated the audience. 2. Fire Reveal, Seniors Serving as the climax of the senior performance, the use of an Olympic-style torch to the fire pit was a memorable moment. Good coordination between Tech, the cast, and band made the surprise magical. 3. Mr. Trainor’s Cameo, Seniors Cleverly introducing Mr. Trainor as a “personal trainer,” the seniors’ teacher cameo received the strongest reaction from the audience. 4. Millicent’s Dancing during “Lucas Could be the One”, Soph-Frosh Clearly the odd one out in Violet’s posse of friends, Millicent (Josephine Attal) makes this obvious though comedic relief. As if the “Shut up Millicent!” line isn’t

enough, Millicent stands off to the side, dancing alone during the upbeat and lighthearted “Lucas Could be the One” number, with whacky and outdated moves such as the disco and the sprinkler. This created an uproar of laughter from the audience, and makes it a favorite moment from Soph-Frosh SING!. 5. Ursula’s Accident, Juniors Although the juniors had problems with this moment during the Friday show, the bearded lady Ursula’s (Coby Goldberg) “accident” went off without a hitch on Saturday night. When snake charmer Colette (Gabrielle Giles) popped the balloon in Ursula’s shirt, emphasizing that the supposed lady was no lady at all, the crowd went wild. Ursula’s tearful and shocked reaction topped off the scene. Honorable Mention Mr. Barbin and Mr. Miller’s Cameos, Juniors

Justin Strauss / The Spectator

Lines 1. “I used to have a crush once; he was beautiful, but then he just packed up his bags and moved away... I’ll love you forever, Mr. Park!” —Kiera (Josephine Chun), Seniors 2. “What do you mean they’re spending the entire student union budget on Mr. Moran’s haircut?” —Oleg (Tasmiur Raab), Seniors 3. “Aliya, am I third wheeling?” —Kiera (Josephine Chun) “What’s a wheel?” —Aliya (Juliette Hainline), Seniors

4. “Leave Britney alone!” —Pirro (Franco Caputo), Juniors 5. “I love you too, money. I mean, I love you too, honey” —Black Heart Joe (Shane Lorenzen), Juniors Honorable Mention: “I hear Lucas rides the subway. I hear Lucas uses Venmo” —Stella, Bella, Zetella, and Millicent, Soph-Frosh

1. Harmehar Kohli, Jamie, Juniors A fiery presence from the moment she came onstage, Kohli managed to unceasingly hold the attention of the audience, perfectly embodying Jaime, the ring-leader’s jealous sister and one of the primary antagonists of Junior SING!. Kohli brought an emotional depth to her character by portraying her with an appropriate amount of facetiousness as well as sadness (after all, she really did miss her sister all along). Kohli’s acting ability is not all that she can be commended for, however. Her vocal talent, which she showed off in such numbers as “Ruin this Show” and “Rolling in the Deep,” was almost unparalleled in sound but also believably expressed her character’s emotions. 2. Kate Johnston, Miss Governor, Soph-Frosh As Miss Governor, the leader of the Plutonians, Johnston didn’t seem to act, but instead, lived and breathed her role. With a confident strut and eccentric hand gestures, Johnston was able to pull off the part of the comedic yet fearless ruler. And in addition to this, she elicited a huge amount of laughter through her portrayal of the embarrassing mom that everyone knows all too well, as illustrated by her funky dance moves in front of Violet and her friends. 3. Fia Hargil, Britney, Juniors Playing the circus ringleader, Hargil was the heart of the juniors’ play. Passionately dealing with both

Justin Strauss / The Spectator

laughing from start to finish. His truly memorable accent was consistently hilarious and made each one of his lines that much funnier. Kaidoo truly embodied his character, and stole the show. 2. Gene Gao, Theo, Seniors Gao has a genuineness to his acting that is unparalleled; the “awwws” of the audience were a strong indication of that. He is able to take a typical love story that we have seen many times over and turn it into something new and unique. The emotion that he feels is visible through his facial expressions and hand gestures, clearly giving the audience a window into his heart and creating a real connection. Not only was his acting impeccable, but his voice has a smooth and rich quality to it that complements the depth of his character. 3. Darien Cox, Dumbo, Juniors Playing the well-meaning yet dim-witted assistant of the rich Black Heart Joe, Cox gave a hilarious yet heart-warming performance.

the stresses of a failing circus and a vindictive sister, she created an extremely sympathetic character. 4. Juliette Hainline, Aliya, Seniors Acting as a girl in love with a boy she believes she will never be with, Hainline depicted the struggles of her character with her hand motions and passionate line delivery. She has a great sense for displaying emotion and connecting with the audience, both of which she accomplished in this role. 5. Emily Ma, Violet, Soph-Frosh Ma acted genuinely, portraying a Plutonian girl who is trying to hide the fact the fact that she likes a boy from Earth. Her interactions with her friends and her mother were convincing and entertaining, and the way she subtly showed her love for Lucas made the starcrossed lovers’ story adorable.

Dances

Justin Strauss / The Spectator

1. Nick Kaidoo, Chief, Seniors Kaidoo portrayed a self-centered village chief concerned only with his own status and well-being. The main source of the play’s comic relief, Kaidoo’s jokes and outrageous actions kept the audience

Actresses

1. Step, Seniors “Hey Dinos!” Following their well-received performance as swashbuckling pirates in Junior SING! 2013, Senior Step brought their A-game to reclaim the number one dance. Barney’s “I Love You” theme song was creatively incorporated into the beginning, but once the dancing got going, the crew displayed an unmatched ferocity on the stage, fitting their roles as dinosaurs. They displayed unique moves, such as a division into three groups with differing choreography. With the best synchronization and the most rambunctious voices in all of SING!, Senior Step’s performance invigorated and captivated their enamored audience, who were left coveting the green dinosaur hoodies donned by everyone’s favorite crew. 2. Martial Arts, Seniors The seniors showed off their creativity by performing a fight scene between warring tribe members to the music of the band while incorporating impressive flips and kicks, thanks to Hudson Lee’s agility, Luke Morales’s taekwondo skills, and the athletic ability of the whole crew. Excellently choreographed and executed with precision, this fight was a treat to watch. 3. Latin, Seniors Introduced as fire spirits, Senior Latin wheeled and spun across

the stage in a dazzlingly well-executed representation of that spontaneous element, featuring nine pairs of well-coordinated dancers. Throughout the routine, the boys proved themselves in the complicated and impressive lifts that sent the girls flying around the stage. The girls obviously trusted their partners but also carried out their moves with a vigor and expertise that was delightful to watch. 4. Contemporary, Seniors Done up with Tinkerbell-inspired costumes and leaves lining their arms, the girls of Senior Contemporary Dance performed beautifully. The crew had particularly graceful movements and showed off their skill excellently with a clever blend of well synchronized pirouettes, turns, solo leaps, and tricks. 5. Boys’ Hip Hop, Juniors With a creative spin on classic hip hop moves, Junior Boys’ Hip Hop managed to win the crowd over with its original choreography that embodied their roles as magicians. Transforming into marionettes by utilizing elastic bands that doubled as puppet strings, the group delved into their characters even further with rigid and robotic movements. Honorable Mention: Contemporary, Soph-Frosh

Disses 1. “What do you think this is, some kind of circus?” [Juggling clown runs across the stage] —Seniors 2. “Do you feel that? The ground is flat! Just like Junior SING!’s chorus.” —Seniors 3. Why didn’t anybody go to the restaurant on the—NO!” —Juniors 4. “It’s so easy a caveman can do it” —Soph-Frosh 5. “Do you mean it has to be as bad as…” “Yes. As bad as Soph-Frosh SING!” —Juniors

Philip Shin / The Spectator

Justin Strauss / The Spectator

Actors


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 19

Band

Jin Hee Yoo / The Spectator

Inside The Sophfrosh SING! Band Pit

Sophfrosh Band Directors, Noah Amick, Tyler Small, and Jake Waksbaum, from left to right

By Grace Stempel and Katrina Wong “That’s what I’ll miss most, just jamming out,” said sophomore Jake Waksbaum, reminiscing over the past month’s music-filled afternoons as Sophfrosh SING! band director. Waksbaum and his fellow directors juniors Noah Amick and Tyler Small, couldn’t stop chattering about how much fun they had directing band. Their close friendship was immediately apparent from the way they finished each other’s sentences. The endless list of songs they liked to play together revealed that music is not only a personal hobby of theirs, but also a closely knit part of their relationship. Their interests in music started at an early age. Amick, whose father was a musician for most of his life, acquired his passion from his dad and transferred it to his own

bass playing. Waksbaum’s musical pursuit also came from his father, and they now bond over their shared instrument: the guitar. On the other hand, Small got involved with music in spite of his parents. “I just liked to bang on stuff when I was little, so my grandparents got me a drum set to annoy my parents. And then, I started getting lessons and I liked it,” Small said. Amick, Waksbaum, and Small did not have a difficult time deciding whether or not to join SING! their freshmen year. “As soon as I heard about SING! I knew I wanted to be involved,” Waksbaum said. “And I play guitar so I thought that would be a good way to be involved.” Amick and Small’s Jazz Band director had suggested it to them, and with their musical talent, they were all accepted into the band. “We had a lot of fun last year, and all of us wanted to do [the same] for the other people in

the band—give them the fun and awesome experience we had,” Waksbaum said. As friends, they were all thrilled when they heard they would be able to experience it together. After being informed that they were directors, they had to select the band members for the SING! production, and began by creating a Google form. They posted it on Facebook, and not long after, auditions began. Once the members were chosen, Amick, Small, and Waksbaum had to start getting to know the music inside and out. “Once we knew what the songs were, we would just listen to them. Doing homework—listen to them,” Amick said. However, the band was not able to simply play the songs as they had originally composed. Instead, the directors had to rearrange the music in order to turn pop songs with computer generated sound into completely instrumental versions, all while making adjustments to fit the other crews’ requirements. “All the different crews don’t want songs exactly the way they are in the recording; they want maybe a verse here, a chorus there. They send us times and want us to compile it into a structured piece,” Amick said. “Most crews usually want cues to emphasize the dance as well,” Small said. “It was annoying at first when people were telling us we were behind, because they don’t really seem to understand that band has just as much to do as everyone else combined.” “The hardest thing is trying to speak your language to someone who doesn’t understand music. And it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just we’ve been studying music for so long that we can communicate

with each other,” Amick said. In addition to the difficulty the directors encountered while rearranging the songs, they ran into another problem: too many people. “[My biggest regret is that] we have a really talented band, and it’s really disappointing that we didn’t get to showcase it the best we could,” Waksbaum said. “The band is so diverse that some instruments do not have their parts written on the original music score.” He cited their clarinet player as an example: “We have a phenomenal clarinet player, and he plays on one or two songs, I believe. And I feel bad because he’s in the corner playing on his iPhone. He’s asleep half the time,” Waksbaum said. “He’s an amazing, amazing player. But it’s just unfortunate most of the music doesn’t involve the clarinet. Maybe next year, we’ll take fewer instruments, and also make more of an effort to add parts so that way everyone’s doing something.” Their last issue was a bit less serious. Being such great friends working on a completely studentrun production like SING!, the group said it was easy to get offtrack. “We get distracted so often [...] play songs that aren’t with the production half the time. Russian songs, etc. Oh, Muse—we played every Muse song there is!” said the directors excitedly. Despite occasionally getting sidetracked, Waksbaum admitted to being the one who kept people focused. Even so, they named Small as their most important member, since the drums held the pieces together, though Small denied the title wholeheartedly. The nostalgia really set in when the three friends realized it would all soon be over. “On Sunday morning, I’m going to be so depressed.

I’ll be crying,” Amick said. “I’m going to sleep—for a long, long time,” Waksbaum said. “Then I’ll be crying.” Despite the lost sleep, the directors excitedly recounted their best moments. “Isn’t She Lovely,” “The Sexy Cowbell Song,” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” were just some of the countless songs to which they remember jamming out. The directors also think of Sophfrosh as the luckiest of the divisions since it is composed of sophomores and freshmen, who aren’t as intense and victory-focused as the juniors and seniors. “We aren’t expecting to win, so it’s just more fun,” Amick said. “I’ve had fun the whole time. There isn’t a moment where I was stressed out about, ‘Oh, are we going to win?’” One clear highlight as band directors was being able to teach the freshmen the ropes to SING! band. As sophomores, they can pass the torch on to the freshmen. “Today we have the ceremonial passing down of the Sophfrosh headband. Every year, one of the band members of Sophfrosh gets awarded with the Best Player headband,” Amick said. Small pulled out a worn-out strip of cloth with the words “Sophfrosh Band” in huge, bold letters. Last year, Small received it. “This year, we’re giving it to a certain someone [...] It’s existed for about 20 years,” the directors said. The headband went to Jean Joun, a freshman guitarist. As the interview drew to a close and voices over the loudspeaker informed the directors they had to exit the building, they had just one more musician to recognize. “Our piano player, [freshman] Leigh [Cordisco], deserves a shoutout […] She is a great piano player,” they said.

The Band Pit Can’t Hold Them: A Conversation With Senior Band By Shahruz Ghaemi As the curtains closed on Junior SING! on Saturday night, blackclad seniors rushed into the band pit. Standing on a stool, one of them hung a sign above their heads that read “ROCK BAND,” a play on the seniors’ theme of prehistory. The drummer adjusted his kit, the cellists tested their bows, and the guitarist checked his cables. Senior SING! band was ready to go. Featuring a lush strings section

and several members with serious compositional talent, the seniors’ band brought a vibrant sound to this year’s production. Members of the band spoke with Arts and Entertainment before the Saturday night show. Cellist Jonah Shifrin said that his favorite piece of their repertoire was “Baba Yetu,” the Swahililanguage translation of a traditional Christian hymnal that the seniors used in their epic opening scene. Violinist Jason Polychrona-

kos singled out their rendition of “Egyptic,” which Polychronakos arranged himself, and which accompanied the Senior Belly crew’s dance. Senior SING! band received a huge accolade and applause from the audiences of the three days, and much of this is due to the chemistry and familiarity among the members of the band. Many were involved in previous SING! performances and knew each other’s working style. Even those

who joined this year, like Shifrin, found an agreeable working atmosphere—of a kind. Polychronakos and cellist Noah Rosenberg good-naturedly described Music Coordinator Brian Ge’s iron-fisted rule over “a democracy where you get your way by yelling the loudest.” Shifrin agreed, saying, “Literally everyone here is an ego. Except for Keo.” Turning around, I saw guitarist and bassist Keo Chan standing by the amplifiers, jamming away.

Shifrin and Rosenberg also commented on the band’s cover of Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” a song meant for Girls’ Hip-Hop. They augmented the song by playing the melody of “Wrecking Ball,” meant for Contemporary Dance, at the end. “It started as a joke, but it sounded pretty decent and I don’t think [Girls’ Hip-Hop has] noticed yet,” they said. Chan added that “we played ‘Wrecking Ball’ over every song that we could.”

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By SCOTT FARBER, founder, A-List Education Before we begin, you might want to know why on Earth you should take the advice of some company that decided to advertise in your newspaper. At this point we know that many of you are desperate—if we said that the secret to a higher score on the SAT or ACT was a diet of tarantulas and Red Bull, some of you might just try it. But before you run out in search of killer spiders or try to sprout a set of wings, take a deep breath. Trust us. We’ve worked with thousands of students, we train teachers how to teach the SAT and ACT, and (because we’re huge nerds) we tend to take the test every year just to make sure we’re still getting perfect scores. (It’s okay: most of us are over 30 and have master’s degrees; we should be getting perfect scores). So let’s get to it. Sophomores, we’ll get to you in a moment. For now, we’re talking to you, juniors. You guys have spent your entire high school careers studying, taking tests, and writing essays all in the hopes of getting into that dream school. And yet, there are still SATs/ACTs to take and scores to improve. Before you throw up your hands in frustration, break down and cry, or decide that you’re dropping out and working a minimum wage job instead of going to college, let’s talk about what your next few months should look like: 5 COMMANDMENTS FOR THE FINAL COUNTDOWN 1. Keep Studying. Hope alone will not raise your SAT/ACT score any more than it will win you the lottery. (If you’ve already won the lottery, why are you applying to college?) You can’t change your score without changing your habits. Students who take practice tests, study vocabulary, and refine their techniques are much more likely to see higher scores than those who are simply hoping to sit next to the smart kid and cheat. 2. Don’t Cheat. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CHEAT ON THE SAT OR ACT. As the pressure builds, students sometimes feel the urge to find any advantage they can, even if it’s dishonest. It’s just not worth it. Stealing a few answers from your neighbor to pick up a couple of points will not be the difference between acceptance and rejection—colleges see your scores as a range anyway. But if you get caught, you aren’t getting in anywhere. You have spent years building an academic profile. You don’t want to live in your parents’ basement for the next few years. 3. Don’t Give Up. Many students think they have little chance of scoring higher on a 2nd or 3rd attempt at a test. There is still plenty of time to study, and plenty of opportunities for

improvement. Even just the confidence that comes with experience can have a positive impact on your score. 4. Don’t Stress. Adding pressure to a test only hurts your problem solving abilities. If you’re stressed with AP Exams and finals right now, consider taking a test in the fall. Fall tests can be less stressful, particularly when you already have scores from the spring. If you do better in the fall, great. If not, you don’t have to submit those scores at all—you’ve already submitted your spring scores. In fact, many of our students have hit their top scores in October, November, or December precisely because they went in stress-free. (Score Choice for the SAT works differently for different colleges. Check on collegeboard.com for details or contact us at A-List for advice.) 5. Get a Grip on Reality. Taking the SAT or ACT may seem overwhelming at times, but it’s just a test. It’s just a bunch of English and math questions with some bubbling thrown in. True, bubbling can be hard and the reading passages may not be your idea of a good time, but it’s only one piece of your college application. Colleges look at the whole picture, and you should too. Now sophomores: let’s talk. You might be wondering why we’re talking to you now when it seems like you have a million years until your exams. Well, you don’t. Your exams are closer than you think, and if you’re smart, you’ll start preparing now. Here are the top 5 things we tell our sophomores: 1. It’s NEVER too early to start prepping. The skills you build for the SAT or ACT are the same skills you need for school. Pick up books by the test-makers (The College Board and ACT, Inc.) and take a practice exam. Find out what your weakness are early and start doing things to strengthen them. 2. Read a book—ANY book. But actually read it. We don’t particularly care what you’re reading, as long as you engage yourself with words. Read blogs, read newspapers, read magazines. There’s no more essential skill on these exams than becoming a better reader. This will not only help your reading and writing scores, but can also help improve your comprehension of math problems. 3. Study one SAT word a day. SURELY you can find the time for this. If you can do this and do it well, you will have 365 new SAT words before you even need them. If you do two words a day, well, we hope you can do that math. Vocab is worth up to 160 points on any given SAT. It’s time to get to work. 4. Start thinking about a tutoring program. We suggest ours, obviously. But whatever direction you go in, make sure they’re using real exams and that full-length tests are part of their program. You also want someone who covers not only the exam content but also the strategies that help you get through the test quickly and effectively. The most highly regarded programs will start filling up by the end of your sophomore year, so plan early and do your research. 5. Don’t lie to yourself. If you don’t know the material at this point, don’t pretend that you do. Not in school, not with your tutors, not anyone. It’s ALWAYS better to find out that you’re missing essential pieces sooner rather than later. The sooner you find your weaknesses, the sooner you can attack them head on with practice. Questions? Looking for a tutor? Engage us through all the things— www.facebook.com/alisteducation, Twitter @alisteduny, and our website www.alisteducation.com.


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 21

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

• The College Board announced changes to the SAT that would make the test less arbitrary and meaningless. Just kidding! • Russian President Vladimir Putin won the men’s biathlon (skiing and shooting) by successfully invading Finland. ZQT-10 forms are now available on the Stuyvesant website for returning spring athletes. The “Q,” added to the code this year, is believed to stand for either “Queer” or “Quidditch.” • A post on the Stuyvesant subreddit reached a new record of sixteen upvotes, prompting hysteria among the subreddit’s four members. After junior Inan Ali was hospitalized as a result of over-excitement, the subreddit was again down to three members. • Relations between Sophomores and Juniors have drastically improved as a result of SING!.

Dalai Lama to Remain a Student at Stuyvesant By Dennis Nenov After spending just five months as a student in New York City’s most prestigious high school, the 14th Dalai Lama has announced—after little hesitation or deliberation—that he wants to resign from his role as a world religious leader. “I believe stepping down is the only way I can freely roam the great plains of New York City,” he said. “While the green pastures of my native Tibet entice me with the smell of wet yak, those of New York City— and those of Stuyvesant in particular—tempt me with the company of my friendly fellow New Yorkers, the exotic scent of the subway, and the potential of an Ivy League education and career in the future.” He continued his speech by crediting the official Stuyvesant admissions website, Try4Stuy, with informing him about Stuyvesant. “I randomly came upon the Try4Stuy website, and I happened to like it because its mid-90s aesthetic reminded me of the ancient ruins of my native Tibet,” the Dalai Lama said. “After I finished browsing the site, however, I was convinced that attending Stuyvesant would change my life for the better.” He also credited the admin-

istration with guiding him away from his naïve Buddhist ways by denying him his special request for religious lunch. Though the Dalai Lama requested to have religious lunch during third period, the programming office scheduled him for eight period religious lunch. Thinking this was a mistake, he waited after school for two hours to have his program corrected, but his request was initially rejected. “I asked him what his deal was because every other kid was fine with praying during eight period,” programming officer and sergeant first class Jason Alvarez said. “He explained that he has a different prayer time because he wasn’t Muslim like all the other kids who have religious lunch during eighth, but I couldn’t really do anything because a ‘want’ request, like the one he made, requires special approval. I’m only allowed to process ‘need’ requests.” The Dalai Lama was then told by Jason to talk to Assistant Principal of Technology and Brigadier General Edward Wong about his request. “If a student has a special request for religious lunch, he or she must fill out an F-SPIR-122499-ZSHDG-KAFKA-0Q waiver form, which requires the signature of the student, the signature of the student’s religious mentor,

Courtesy of New York Daily Post and Huffington Post

Newsbeat

and the signature of the student’s dentist,” Wong said. “But when that Llama kid signed two boxes in front of me, I told him that we take dishonesty very seriously here at Stuyvesant and that he can’t get away with blatantly forging the signature of his religious mentor.” The Buddhist spiritual leader was then hauled to the office of Assistant Principal of Security, Safety, and Student Affairs and Lieutenant General Brian Moran for a stern lecture on the importance of decency. “Being forced to read The Stu-

dent Discipline Code and to sign a contract that says I agree to the terms in the code helped me understand what being virtuous truly means,” the Dalai Lama said. But the crux of the Dalai Lama’s speech dealt with the rigorous curriculum here, and the Dalai Lama ended his speech by praising it. “The academics here are so accelerated that sometimes you end up lying face down on the half-floor with a Red Bull in one hand and a textbook in the other,” he said.

Commercial,” was executed perfectly. With the completely relevant character of Barney the Dinosaur, the seniors sang, danced, and boogied to the beat of a predetermined victory. Seniors Juliette Hainline and Gene Gao took us through a rollercoaster of emotions. We laughed, we cried, we covered our pants with our hats. Special note goes out to senior Nick Kaidoo, who brought the single greatest impression of Eddie Murphy from Coming to America that SING! has ever seen. The senior tech crew truly went above and beyond for the production. Extracting the DNA of the extinct pterodactyl from fossilized amber, the crew was able to bring the species back to life and then kill them again so they could hang them from the rafters above the stage. Though most of the audience enjoyed the performance, some had criticisms. “Whoever did casting obviously never learned their Punnett Squares,” a parent observed. The show was finished when the fire was returned to the original village in a glorious closing ceremony. We give Senior SING! a 96% “Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes and 12 points.

your lighting cues,” sophomore lighting director Eric Stringham said. “Sound needs a medium to travel though.” The costume crew really outdid themselves by mastering the look of a Stuyvesant student. “They had me wear some really weird stuff, but it felt comfortable nonetheless,” said lead actor Phillip Chun, who rocked a pair of jeans, Nike sneakers, and a white t-shirt purchased from Urban Outfitters the night before the show. SophFrosh also featured a kiss, which stunned many audience members, including Chun’s mother. “What…” she said. “He’s not even 21 yet!” Chun, on the other hand, was extremely excited to finally get a real life kiss. “I was so hyped for SAP, but when I found out that my ticket was a fake, I realized that my only hope for getting some action was on stage, so instead of faking the kiss like we usually do, I just went straight for a hickey,” Chun said. Others, though, believed that credit was due to different actors. “We couldn’t have done it without [sophomore] Kryzysztof [Hochlewicz],” sophomore and SophFrosh cast director Henry Rosenbloom said. “When he walked across the stage for a brief five seconds to deliver a letter—literally the only part he had in this production—it just made the entire play. I was in tears by the time he was halfway off.” The SophFrosh show ended with a huge musical number featuring the cast and the chorus, though almost everyone in the audience had hoped it would be another rap solo from Winston Venderbush. We give SophFrosh SING! 3 thumbs sideways and a Tony Award.

SING! Review By Daniel Goynatsky and Winton Yee Junior SING! Junior SING! started off extremely well. A quirky rendition of “Pompeii” by Bastille was masterfully contrasted with happy-sad clowns swaying back forth, as if repeating dance moves from the SophFrosh semi-formal. The juniors’ plot was centered around a clown who has high hopes but is being bribed by a rich man (who is in turn persuaded by his wife and sex) to sabotage the circus. What ensued was act after act of hilarious episodes of the mischievous actions of the clown and his new companion Dumbo. The rich man, played by junior Shane Lorenzen, was meant to portray

Jin Hee Yoo/ The Spectator

a hairful Rob Ford who has money for seemingly no reason. Many found that the play was racist to a certain ethnicity. “I was extremely offended by [junior] Maks Bondarenko’s character,” senior Ethan Schwab said. “He was a sad clown wearing white makeup. I’ll have you know my Viking ancestors in Napoleonic France didn’t die for that.” The dancing, however, was superb. The step crew truly expressed the emotions of a parade of elephants rampaging through a small village. The seemingly random stomps and beats truly demonstrated the chaos of the situation. The stars of the show, though, were Mr. Vincent Miller and Mr. Howard Barbin. As of press time, the selfie they took

on stage had surpassed Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscar selfie as the most retweeted item of all time. We give Junior SING! one thumb up and two gold stars plus a 7.5. Senior SING! Building on the theme of copyright infringement introduced by Junior SING!, Senior SING! proved to be influenced largely by Frozen and our lord and savior Kanye “Yeezus” West. Assisted by gross faculty and judge favoritism, the seniors were able to pull off a stellar show. The production started shakily, as the chorus accidentally began their performance with a song that was in Spanish or something. The seniors’ theme, which was “A Cocoa Pebbles

SophFrosh SING! In the greatest upset since the 1898 SING!, SophFrosh SING! was able to defeat the juniors. The first scene screamed SophFrosh, as the chorus couldn’t form a straight line. Clearly none of them had passed Geometry yet. As the actors were introduced one by one, we began to see the ingenuity and creativity of the SophFrosh play. Half of the play was set in the dark, as the light crew had decided to take a more realistic approach. “In space, no one can hear


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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Humor I Still Refuse to Believe It By Daniel Kodsi In a shocking and unbelievable turn of events, Stuyvesant student Claude Taylor is reportedly “happy with [his] grades.” As the rest of his peers go around with their noses buried in their report cards for the next three weeks, Claude, a junior, is apparently “content with what [he] got.” Impossible, right? I take it upon myself to investigate. Monday I spot Claude in the halls wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and even a smile. A smile during report cards week? Perhaps the rumors are true. Out of the blue, he runs into a friend. Carefully following behind them, I whip out my phone to seem like the kind of guy that wouldn’t eavesdrop on a conversation. It

takes a full seventeen seconds for them to begin discussing grades. “What’d you get?” “I don’t share grades; pretty good, though.” “Oh, ok.” Claude’s friend seems perplexed (as am I—who doesn’t immediately blurt out their average? And what does “pretty good” even mean? Is it code for above a 103? ). The late bell rings. I swear mildly and run up three flights of stairs to class. This mystery runs deeper than I thought. Tuesday No sighting of Claude today. I’ve been having nightmares, though. Like, last night, I had a dream where a column of 80s marched by and mooned me. 80s! I’ve now memorized every detail of the sheet with grades on it. Did you know that if you

look really, really carefully, you can see the faint contours of a giant middle finger? Wednesday Claude is nowhere to be found. Is he missing school?? Oh god, that could cost him at least .05 points on his average for the term. I wonder if he cares. Why do I care? What does it say about all of us that we care so much about grades? Is getting one point higher overall worth torturing myself over for four years? Wow, my subconscious is a hippie. Of course it’s worth it. I brush off the thought and go back to calculating my GPA for the term in my Spanish notebook. Thursday Today, I finally manage to engineer an encounter with Claude on the half-floor.

“Hey Claude!” “Do I know you…?” “No, but I know you! Or I’ve heard of you. My friend told me you didn’t complain when you got your report card; she said you looked at the numbers and didn’t immediately whip out a calculator or anything.” “Oh… that, yeah. Personally I just don’t feel like grades contribute to happiness, you know? Like, I feel that I would be better off doing something I love or even playing video games. I mean, my mom will love me even if I’m not valedictorian. And I don’t even want to go to Harvard, either. I visited the campus and just didn’t fit in.” “What??” And thus our conversation comes to an end. I am left reeling and, partially because of math class, unable to process words for the next hour.

Friday I run into Claude again as I walk home. He gives me a nod as I pass—I can’t decipher the meaning of it. Is he making fun of me? I reflect on his words from yesterday. Those don’t make any sense, either. Well, the week is over, at least. Usually it’s exciting that I get to enjoy two whole days before the cycle repeats, before the endless tests and projects. Not this time, though: I’ve heard this rumor that if you read the textbook over the weekend, your grades magically improve, and I want to test it out. Oh, and there is this secondary benefit that you might stand a chance at, like, learning something. Although, who on earth cares about that? Editor’s note: The Curious Case of Claude Taylor remains unsolved.

ARISTA Applicants Have SING! After Party Renamed Saucy Yet Another New Anaconda Party to Distance Affiliation Requirement to Complete with Stuyvesant By Miki Steele and laszlo Sandler Considered by many to be the most honorable and prestigious tradition of the student body, the SING! After Party (SAP) has recently dwarfed the event it’s supposed to shadow. For years, students throughout the school have gathered to dance, mingle, and enjoy each other’s intimate company at this high class event. This year, however, the party organizers decided to change the name of SAP because the large majority of party-goers were unaware of SING!’s existence altogether. “Isn’t SING! the same thing as The Crucible? Why you are asking me about this in an article about SAP?” junior Tommy Parker asked. Party organizers feel that the event would be more successful if it wasn’t associated with an event that’s as frivo-

lous, overpriced, and grimy as SING!. “SAP is the quintessential Stuyvesant event. It represents community, connection, and the power of poor lighting. Having such a soiree connected to SING! is an affront to the values of the student body,” senior and party organizer Robert Melamed said. However, the administration claims the name change was imposed by the school. Assistant Principal of Security, Safety, and Student Affairs Brian Moran offered some insight into the reasoning behind the name change. “I was tight that I couldn’t cop a ticket, so why not try and get a lil vengeance, amirite?” wrote Moran in an email intended to address the concerns of worried parents. Many students were excited about the name change. “I’ve always wanted to go to a snake themed party,” sophomore Ari Hatzimemos said. “But who

gives a hoot what it’s called or what it’s about? I just want to party!” Others did not respond as favorably. “This sucks. Can’t a guy get a little turnt up every now and then? No one’s gonna roll through if it’s not connected to Stuy. The SING! after party has always been a great opportunity for Big Sibs to get close to their Little Sibs and make lifelong friendships,” senior and Big Sib Chair Sweyn Venderbush said. Despite pressure from party-goers, the party organizers had a firm restriction on glass bottles because glass bottles are commonly associated with SING!. The party organizers also insisted on having the right to deny entrance to anyone whom they felt was not in the right state of mind to appreciate the elegant event.

By Shindy koo

Last Friday, ARISTA President Christine Xu announced that she would be adding a new condition for entrance into ARISTA. “All prospective applicants must now be able to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute. The purpose of this new requirement is to ensure that all students can put ARISTA before the rest of their less important work. Getting accepted into ARISTA helps your college application more than any grade you could possibly earn. I wish good luck to all applicants,” Xu said. The administration has supported this new policy. “I did not intervene because it’s better this way,” principal Jie Zhang said. “This policy punishes the kids who have spare time. How dare they get more than four hours of sleep per night!” Despite these benefits, the announcement, which was publicized only three days before the due date for applica-

tions, led many students to pull all-nighters turning and twisting the famed puzzle. “I’ve been awake for the last fortyeight hours,” junior Elvin Shoyfer said, holding a Rubik’s Cube and a can of Red Bull. “Down, left, up, turn.” Whether they were fully awake or not, students were tested in designated rooms in accordance to their surnames. A proctor was assigned to each room to time the students. “My proctor thought the birthmark on my arm was some kind of esoteric cheating code and I was disqualified immediately,” sophomore Harry Wu said. “Now my chances of going to an Ivy League college are gone.” Other ARISTA hopefuls did not have much luck either. “I solved the cube a half second after the one minute mark,” said sophomore Brandon Lin as tears ran down his face. “I’ve been practicing filling out ARISTA applications since the age of five. This is so disgraceful.”

By Jacob Faber-Rico and Nathan Mannes Last week, Russian troops were reported to be taking up covert positions surrounding Stuyvesant High School in the Tribeca area. However, according to multiple eyewitness reports from dog walkers and park rangers, they were not well hidden. Junior Maks Bondarenko was the student who first noticed the influx of Russians. “I just asked the guy at Fake Terry’s for a bacon avocado chipotle, and he forgot the sauce, so I was like ‘excuse me, I asked for chipotle sauce on this but there isn’t any,’ but then he just exploded at me in Russian,” he said. “It was really harsh. He said, ‘Я заставит чипотли соус в мочеиспускательный канал, если вы когда-нибудь возвращаться в это место’, if my

memory serves me correctly.” After the plot’s discovery, President Vladimir Putin released in a letter to the public that he would send the Russian Army to invade Stuyvesant High School because it was in the best interests of the Russian people. As he slurred in a news conference/Vodka shot contest, “Я клянусь, что буду защищать права русских в школе Стайвесант. Именно по этой причине я вынужден вводить свои войска в эту школу. Я обещаю, что к концу своего президенства, я полностью уничтожу школу Стайвесант мои войска сотрут эту школу слица Земли. Когда я покончу с этой школой, у нее даже не будет страничке в Википедии,” he said. Students of Stuyvesant seem to be more or less excited by the prospect of deadly conflict with foreign military per-

sonnel. Fencing team captain Kyle Oleksiuk said, “I’m really hyped for this. I’ve never had the chance to fence a Russian soldier armed with a rifle. All the other times I’ve done it they had tanks, and it just wasn’t that fair: I destroyed them all.” Junior Shamay Osipov was less excited, but still looking on the bright side as he said, “At least the shelter-in drills weren’t done for no reason.” Teachers felt a lot differently about the incoming invasion. “I thought I told them to get out of my neighborhood,” Chemistry teacher Brian Dibbs said. “I told them, ‘if you come back here, then two things are gonna happen. All of you are going to die, and I’m going to go to prison for the rest of my life.’” “On the bright side, I will have a verifiably true story to tell you guys,” teacher Michael

Justin Kong and Courtesy of flickr.com / The Spectator

Russia Invades Stuyvesant High School

Russian Tanks drove down Chambers St.

Waxman told his class during a lesson on Ancient Greece. No teachers from the physics department could be reached for comment, as they were

too busy enriching uranium in preparation of the predicted arms race between Russia and Stuyvesant High School.


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 23

Humor Poetry in Motion Program Criticized for Its Decline in Quality By WINTON YEE

tion recently began accepting submissions from all residents of New York City because the usual writers for the collection have been unable to produce creative and original poetry. A majority of the new submissions reportedly came from teenagers, while the rest came from lonely 40-year-old men. Stuyvesant students were among the many who submitted works for the display.

“My soul just needed to be expressed,” said junior Jeffrey Yan, who submitted his poem “Your Eyes Are as Blue as This Blue Color Pixel on this Color Wheel I Found on the Internet.” Describing his artistic process, Yan said, “Like raindrops crawling down a window, I placed my submission in an envelope. Then, like a mother kangaroo licking the wounds of her injured joey, I dabbed my tongue

on a stamp.” The MTA has been surprised by the consequences of the organization’s new submission policy. “I just don’t know what went wrong,” MTA chairman Thomas F. Pendergast said. “The entire art world was at our feet. Now the critics have moved on to that stupid ‘Lucas Uses Venmo’ exhibit.”

Sara Chung/ The Spectator

Bonny Truong/ The Spectator

Once known as one of the finest collections of poetry in the world, the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) “Poetry in Motion” exhibition has recently been blasted by critics for its noticeable decline in quality. The exhibition, which used to draw millions to the dank and greasy underground tun-

nels of New York, has recently only appealed to the bottom feeders of New York’s art world. “At this point, they probably have the same number of fans as ‘Writing on the Wall’ does,” Pulitzer prize-winning Spectator A&E editor Shahruz Ghaemi said. “Two.” The program’s new submission policy has been blamed for much of the recent deterioration in quality. The exhibi-

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The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 24

Arts and Entertainment Looking Forward : March SUNDAY

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY 14

Movie: “Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club” (Drama/Comedy) Starring: Tyler Perry, Wendi McLendonCovey Movie: “Veronica Mars” (Crime/Comedy) Starring: Leighton Meester, Daran Norris

16

Parks: NYC Half-Marathon Central Park-Downtown Manhattan, 7:30 a.m.

17

18

Film: 17th Annual NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival The Center for Jewish History, 5 p.m.

Concert: NY Choral Festival Stern Auditorium @ Carnegie Hall, 8 p.m.

24

25 TV: “Brooklyn NineNine” finale Fox, 9:30 p.m.

Festival: St. Patrick’s Day Parade 5th Ave, 11 a.m.

23

Basketball: Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers Madison Square Garden, 7:30 p.m.

Album Release: “Supermodel” Foster the People, Indie Pop

TV: “Teen Wolf” finale MTV, 10 p.m. Album: “Transpose [EP]” Bad Suns, Post-punk Rock

Concert: Selections from Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music Carnegie Hall, 3 p.m.

19 Basketball: NY Knicks vs Indiana Pacers Madison Square Garden, 8 p.m.

26 TV: “Psych” season finale USA, 9 p.m.

20

Gallery Opening: New Paintings by Gary Stephan

27 Parks: Carousel Opening Prospect Park Carousel, 12-5 p.m.

Concert: GROUPLOVE, MS MR, Smallpools Terminal 5, 6:30 p.m.

21

Movie: “Divergent” (Drama) Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort

SATURDAY 15

Parks: Greenmarket Farmer’s Market Grand Army Plaza, morning-noon Festival: Purim begins @ nightfall Museum Exhibition: Robert Heinecken: Object Matter Museum of Modern Art, March 15-September 7

22

Parks: Greenmarket Farmer’s Market Grand Army Plaza, morning-noon

Movie: “Muppet’s Most Wanted” (Adventure) Starring: Steve Whitmire, Tina Fey 28 Movie: Cesar Chavez (Drama/Biography) Starring: Michael Pena, Rosario Dawson

KenKen 4-

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The Spectator ●March 18, 2014

Page 25

Arts and Entertainment Playlist: On The Go

Culture Beat By Shahruz Ghaemi Here are some of the coolest exhibitions and shows currently running in the city’s cultural institutions: • MoMA—“Robert Heinecken: Object Matter” A retrospective on the work of photographer and experimental West Coast artist Robert Heinecken. He drew on the images of mass media— magazines, TV dinners, and consumer items— to humorously explore daily life. Runs through 9/7/14.

Here are some of the songs our staff has been listening to during their daily commutes. 1. “East Harlem” by Beirut Genre: Indie 2. “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers Genre: Indie Pop 3. “Wine Soaked Preacher” by Corb Lund Genre: Country

4. “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” by Coldplay Genre: Alternative Rock 5. “Ballin’ Artist” by Chief Keef Genre: Hip-Hop 6. “Shenzou” by Steven Price Genre: Electronic, Cinematic 7. “Home” by Paradise Fears Genre: Pop 8. “Yukiko San” by Midori Genre: Punk Jazz Fusion/Noise Rock

Crossword Puzzle: Let’s Go to...

• Met—“Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China” The first major exhibition of Chinese contemporary art presented by the museum, it showcases works that specifically continue the ancient Chinese tradition of using ink as an art medium. Runs through 4/6/14. • New Museum—“Laura Prouvost: For Forgetting” The first solo museum presentation for Prouvost, who deconstructs connections between imagery and meaning. In her installations, she invites audiences to reconsider the relationship between imagination and reality. Runs through 4/13/14.

Across 2. Central Park’s ____ pond 4. Old graffiti site: 5-____ 6. Stereotypical hipster neighborhood 9. University on the Upper West Side 12. 7 Train Destination 13. Fort on Governor’s Island 17. Winter attraction at Rockefeller 19. Street where Peter Stuyvesant made his last stand 20. Top of Manhattan 23. Free ferry to ____ Island 25. Ethnic neighborhood bordering Chinatown: Little ____ 26. Barclay’s ____ 29. Historic immigration stop: ____ Island 30. Bus hub: ____ Station 31. Mac & Cheese destination 32. Last surviving original pier 34. Midtown building guarded by lions 36. Predominately Greek area in Queens 38. Terminal with a starry ceiling 40. Raised walkway from W. 14th to W. 34th 43. Brooklyn’s Central Park 46. Historic seaport: ____ St. Market 47. Chambers St. Courthouse 48. New name for Shay’s Stadium: ____ Field

Down 1. Nearby vacation island 2. Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass 3. Brooklyn’s art and music center 5. Family destination in the Bronx 6. ____ ____ Center Memorial 7. Popular park for ice skating 8. Pricey residential area in the Bronx 9. Mayor’s workplace 10. Train to Long Island 11. Columbus ____ 14. Home to old modern art 15. ____ 1668 16. Free art and history museum 18. Downtown park popular for picnics 21. Triangle Below Canal St. 22. General admission concert venue: Terminal ____ 24. Transportation option to Roosevelt Island 26. Home to the boardwalk and Luna Park 27. Popular bubble tea place 28. Uptown Hudson River park 33. Brooklyn’s county 34. Center for music and theater 35. Manhattan’s community college 37. Grand ____ Plaza 39. Downtown university 41. Sister to West Village 42. Largest airport in Queens 44. ____ Fellows Hall on Grand St. 45. ____-Borough Bridge

Thank you to everyone who participated in the last issue’s crossword competition! Among many competitors, one was the fastest of them all, and chose this theme. If you solve this whole puzzle, and send a photo to speccrosswords@gmail.com, you can help pick the next theme! By ANNE DUNCAN


Page 26

The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Sports Boys’ Lacrosse

Jake Brimberg /The Spectator

Sometimes Less is More

The Boy’s Lacrosse Team is preparing for the season ahead with agility drills.

By Tahmid Khandaker For most teams, a new season creates a necessity for new players. However, it’s a different story for the boys’ lacrosse team: for the Peglegs, less is more. More than 35 hopeful

team members poured into tryouts hoping to earn a spot on the downsized 25-man roster. Plagued by mediocrity, not finishing above fourth in the division in any of the past four years, the Peglegs, who finished sixth in their division last

year, are aiming to amass more wins by implementing stringent policies, keeping a smaller roster, and instilling confidence in their players. With these strategies, the Peglegs hope to meet their potential and succeed in a new division with less competition. While some players found the competition for a spot in the team’s limited roster overwhelming, others welcomed it. “It’s exciting to compete for a roster spot and see everyone working so hard,” junior Terry Zhao said. The Peglegs needed to assess the ability of members and efficiently teach the new players. To increase familiarity with lacrosse and help decrease the amount of time devoted to the basics of the sport during the season, the Peglegs held more than eight preseason practices for new members who planned to try out for the team. In an attempt to take advantage of a new division stacked with teams who had losing records last season, the Peglegs hope to increase productivity by decreasing roster size. “While it’s good to see so much in-

terest, [having a large roster] doesn’t creative a cohesive team, and the kids who don’t have as much talent fall by the wayside and end up quitting or not getting better. This year we are only taking 25 kids for the team, both so that everyone appreciates that they are actually on a real team and so that we can focus on developing the skills of the new and old players,” said senior and co-captain Noah Kramer, the city’s top-ranked lacrosse player. Although many players usually join the team, in the past four years the number of inactivated players has hovered around 10, indicating a lack of commitment. “If we can get a group of guys that actually want to play and know what it means to commit themselves to a team and a sport, we will do well. While it’s important to have good physical skills, it’s more important to have a committed team,” Kramer said. The Peglegs attempted to develop their raw talent and increase player maturity even before the season began. By holding more than eight preseason practices and two coach practices, the team at-

tempted to address questions that emerged regarding its talent last season. “The seniors on the team are trying really hard to condition us in the preseason so we are ready to win this season,” Zhou said. Practices have already unveiled the promise some players have. “Aron Lam and Jonathan Lee can both have a huge impact and Robert Melamed can be a brick wall around the goal. Clay Walsh can run the defense well, and Luke Ogunnaike has a lot of potential since he is athletic and a quick learner,” Kramer said. In a new division composed of poor teams such as the A. Phillip Randolph Campus High School, which had a 0-14 record last season, the Peglegs have a great opportunity to win the division title. Furthermore, the absence of Curtis High School and Fredrick Douglass Academy, teams with 12-2 and 11-3 records, respectively, place the Peglegs in prime position. With more dedicated members and a focus on excelling in a relatively bad division, the Peglegs hope to do more with less.

Girls’ Softball

By ari Hatzimemos For most softball teams in the city, a season with a 11-5 record is an accomplishment. But for the Stuyvesant Renegades, it wasn’t very successful. For the third year in a row, they were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. “The goal is always to go farther and farther into the playoffs,” coach Vincent Miller said. “This year maybe we can get to the second round.” As with every sports team, seniors play a pivotal part. Sometimes, an entire starting squad can be composed of seniors, which means that the next season will be left in shambles. The Renegades have lost five out of their nine starters. “It’s tough because we lost five amazing seniors, taking out most of our infield and one of our outfielders,” senior and co-captain Julia

Wazowski said. Miller isn’t worried because, “[We] still got our ace, [senior] Marie [Frolich],” he said. Last year, Frolich started every game for the Renegades, pitched an astounding 98.1 innings, and had an ERA of 5.28. However, last season when games got close, Frolich would often crack under pressure and give up necessary runs. With the added pressure of being the “ace” of the team, it will be interesting to see if Frolich has learned to keep her composure or if she will continue to drop the ball. What the Renegades are really looking for this season is a deep playoff run. Last year, they lost to Madison 9-3 in the first round. “In our game against Madison we could have put up a better fight if we had played at the top of our game. We just can’t get psyched out when we

play better and more competitive teams,” Wazowski said. The team was clearly “psyched out” when it lost twice against the last year’s Manhattan A division’s first-ranked George Washington Trojans, 12-3 and 15-0. If the girls want to advance further in the playoffs, they need to be more consistent. Last year, the Renegades were very unpredictable and gave up anywhere from 1 to 18 runs. “[We]gave up too many runs last year,” Miller said. Even with a necessary improvement on defensive, the Renegades are hopeful, as they are using their disappointing playoff loss to fuel the season. “Although we want to win playoff games, we are going to take this season one step at a time, one game at a time,” Miller said.

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Alice Oh / The Spectator

Primed for a Playoff Season

The girls softball team practices throwing and catching the ball at practice.


The Spectator ● March 18, 2014

Page 27

Sports Boys’ Gymnastics

Girls’ Basketball

Lemurs Narrowly Miss Finals with High Hopes for the Future By Erica Chio Gymnastics is often associated with high flying flips and gravity defying acts. The Lemurs’ tricks, however, fell short when they were shut out of team finals. To qualify, the team would have had to rank in the top four teams of the city. They were only one win away, and their closest game was against LaGuardia on January 21, when Stuyvesant lost by 0.1 points, essentially keeping them out of the top four. Though the team was disappointed, LaGuardia was a formidable opponent, having finished the season with a total of five wins and two losses. Still, the loss to LaGuardia by only 0.1 points was frustrating for the team, providing even more motivation to make finals next year. Despite falling short of finals as a team, four members qualified for the individual finals, including sophomores Constantin Flocos and Gregory Redozubov and senior and co-captain Hudson Lee. Lee originally qualified for all six events: floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bars, on the first day of qualifications. However, on the actual day of the finals, Lee was not able to medal, stating that he wasn’t feeling at his best that day. Still, Lee feels proud of the two sophomores who were able to medal, something not done since Lee accomplished the same feat two years ago. Flocos received a final score of 8.0 in floor, earning him 8th place, impressive considering Flocos had no prior training before this season. “I think I did pretty well, considering this is my very first year in gymnastics. There were a few

minor errors, but overall I’m content,” Flocos said. Redozubov was surprised when he qualified for vault and parallel bars, expecting to only qualify for floor in the individual finals. Still, he placed 8th for vault, 9th for bars, and 8th allaround in the city. Sophomore Aaron Orelowitz, an all-around gymnast, also made individual finals but was not able to attend because of an international meet in Florida with his Chelsea Piers club team, with whom he practices with year round. “But, I can guarantee that if he had went to finals, he would’ve won something impressive,” Redozubov said. “By my senior year, he will be one of the best in the city, no doubt.” As a whole, the season was a success, despite original misgivings about a season without last year’s seniors. “Our average score was close to 118 to 120 whereas in the past years it was closer to 110 or even 100,” Lee said. Redozubov, however, is not satisfied. “We scored higher than we did last year, but [we still didn’t make finals],” Redozubov said. “However, there are a bunch of really hopeful novices.” The novices pulled through the season, aiding the team as they strengthened their own skills. “We started off with a handful of guys learning basic skills on the floor like cartwheels. Slowly but surely kids diversified, found what events they fit best on, and raised [their] difficulty. We ended the season as an organized and talented gymnastics team,” Orelowitz said. Coach Marvin Autry was a major factor in the team’s improvement. “He just pushed us

really hard to get new skills and was willing to let us try the skills by ourselves once he thought that we had a solid foundation and understanding of it. The previous coach was really cautious about us getting hurt,” senior and cocaptain Steve Zhu said. With the new skills, sophomore Justin Oh was able to complete half and full back layouts, a twist in the air while flipping and landing on one’s feet. Flocos was able to complete a full back layout diveroll, a full back layout in which the gymnast essentially dives to the ground and rolls back up onto his feet. Orelowitz could navigate the pummel horse with skills including loops and circles. Redozubov and Lee were also able to learn the proper execution for a full scissor, one of the most difficult skills competed at the PSAL level on the pummel horse. “[Autry] has helped us achieve skills we ourselves hadn’t even considered ourselves possible of doing, and is an inspiration to all of us as a former PSAL high school gymnast himself. He uses his experience to help us perfect our techniques and skills. He knows our limitations and potential even more than we do,” Lee said. Having missed the finals this year, the team is excited for a comeback next year. The team will have to deal with the loss of seniors such as Lee, who is their best all-around gymnast. Though Lee will be absent, the sophomores are the team’s strongest group with the highest scores on the team and two more years to develop. “It’s the opposite for most of the other teams, where the seniors carry the team,” Zhu said.

Indoor Track

Three Greyducks Fly Over the Competition in City Championships By Eric Morgenstern This year’s girls’ Greyducks team may have had an uneventful City Championships, but the boys’ team has some athletes who will go down as some of the top track stars in the school’s history. Seniors and co-captains Jeremy Karson and Alex Lui, and junior Eric Chen all earned trips to Cornell University to take part in the state championships. The boys’ team garnered the sixth most points in the city. The girls’ team, unfortunately, finished in a mere 24th, due to some unexpectedly low finishes from quality athletes. Although the team has sent people to the state championships in previous years, this year is special. For the first time since the 1920s, Stuyvesant sent a sprinter, Lui, to the tournament. The last Stuyvesant sprinter who made the state championships was Frank Hussey, and he “was a member of the gold medal 4x100 meter relay at the Paris Olympics in 1924,” coach Mark Mendes said. “A noted track and field historian who was at [the] meet said that Alex Lui may be the best sprinter to represent Stuyvesant since [Hussey].” Lui came in fourth in the city in the 55-meter dash, but was only 0.08 seconds behind the leader. In the state championships, he wound up finishing 19th. Lui, despite his great sprinting success, came off as modest after the race. “It’s obviously a great achievement, but I credit my suc-

cess to my coaches and teammates, who pushed me to the fullest,” he said. “There has been a lot of sweat poured and countless hours of pain, but pushing my limits is something [that] I’m really passionate about.” In addition to Lui’s sprinting success, Karson ran a career-best time in the 1600-meter race, topping his old record time of 4:40.75 by over ten seconds, and leading him to a narrow victory of 0.87 seconds. However, such success was not entirely unexpected by his teammates. “I was really surprised that Jeremy won, but sort of expected it seeing how hard he works,” Lui said. Karson is used to winning, with first place finishes in the 1000-meter run and the 4x800 meter relay in the city championships. The other runner headed to the state competition, Chen, came in second in the 3200-meter run. He came into the race as the first seed, and was upset by the third seed by just less than two seconds. Although he is only a junior, “Eric’s already better than me, and next year I think he will become a true leader of the team,” Karson said. Chen finished 20th in the state championships, and will likely find himself competing there again next year. The girls’ team, on the other hand, did not fare as well in the city championships. The team’s top performer, junior Luo Qi Kong, finished fourth in the 1500-meter race walk. The three other Greyducks competing in the 1500-meter race walk placed

relatively poorly, including senior and captain Wan Qi Kong, who surprisingly finished all the way in thirteenth place out of the fourteen athletes. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams are excited for the futures of their teams. “We have a lot of young guys with talent, and also a lot of guys that are going to be seniors next year that have worked hard to develop into good runners,” Karson said. Lui also specifically mentioned juniors Eric Chen and David Chen as non-seniors who have the potential to become star runners, as well as team leaders, next year. Senior Vera Pertsovskaya also thinks her team will continue its success not just next year, but for the next several years. “I think the team will be in fantastic shape for next year. We have some really, really strong freshmen, Dina [Re] and [Zovinar Khrimian], who are simply amazing and who are only going to keep getting faster,” she said. Re came in seventh in the 1500 meter run, and Khrimian came in tenth in the 1000 meter run. The outdoor track season starts soon, and many of the athletes from the indoor team will have the chance to place even better in competitions than they did in the winter. It will be the last season of running for the seniors, who will do all they can to help their team win the city championships, as well as strive for individual success in hope of making the state championships.

Phoenix’s Fire Put Out By Omar Siddique

The second round of the playoffs seems to be the bane of the Phoenix’s existence, having lost in this round for the second year in a row, both times by more than 35 points. Second round losses are particularly bitter because not only do they occur relatively early in the playoffs, but they also bring an excited team, one that had just won a first round playoff game, back down to earth. Coming off a large win against Forest Hills, the Phoenix held their heads high prior to facing Port Richmond, hoping to beat out another team on their road to the championship. Unfortunately, Port Richmond had other plans in mind and stopped the Phoenix in their tracks, blowing them out 70-34. The first quarter was unlike most of the Phoenix’s other games this season; the Raiders were the ones to take the lead, and they not only went ahead, but also led with a whopping 32-7 score. The Raiders’ primary scorer, Kelly Nola, finished with 29 points, and everyone on the Raiders tallied at least two rebounds, as Stuyvesant was unable to contain them.

“A lot of the younger players really played well this year, and I hope that they get more confidence next year and continue working on shooting and rebounding.” —Marie Frolich, senior and cocaptain “We didn’t make our shots, didn’t get back on defense, and overall didn’t gel together,” junior Lauren Sobota said. However,

not all went wrong for the Phoenix. On one particular play, the Phoenix broke through the Raiders’ half-court pressure and ran a back door cut for junior Sophie Gershon, scoring their first points of the game. Unfortunately, this was one of the very few highlights the Phoenix had. Many factors contributed to the team’s disparaging loss: defensive pressure by the Raiders, a lacking offense by the Phoenix, being out-rebounded 60-28, and perhaps shaky nerves coming into a road playoff game. “I think we were intimidated by how good the other team was and we started rushing shots and turning the ball over,” senior and co-captain Marie Frolich said. The Phoenix must target their weaknesses and turn them into strengths for next season. Coach Vincent Miller has been training them to play more aggressively by boxing out and drawing more charges, something the girls could not do as well this game. “I think that we were aggressive on defense but not necessarily as much on offense as we could have been,” said Frolich. Although the leading scorer for the Phoenix this game was Frolich, with 11 points, the team next season will have the court vision of Sobota and the doubledouble machine that is Gershon, who still managed to finish with 10 points and 11 rebounds this game. While these statistics fall short of her average of 18 points and 18 rebounds per game this season, it is still encouraging to see that despite the tight defense of the Raiders and the complacent offense of the Phoenix, Gershon was still able to add another double-double to her record. Sobota finished the game with five points, five assists and five rebounds, all shy of her 13-point, six-rebound, and eight-assist averages this season. Although this season did not end the way the team wanted it to, there is nothing they can do but further develop their skills for next season. “A lot of the younger players really played well this year, and I hope that they get more confidence next year and continue working on shooting and rebounding,” Frolich said. It’s not often that a team gets two rising seniors as talented and as accustomed to leading as Sobota and Gershon are, and the Phoenix will try to take advantage of that next season.

Boys’ Basketball

Hawks Fly Too High for the Crippled Peglegs continued from page 28

Although next year’s team will lack the leadership qualities and basketball skills of Dalton, Kalantzopoulos and Hssan, the nine returning members have the experience and ability to fill in the missing gaps. “They’ve learned how to play at the speed of varsity, and a lot of fundamentals. They’ve learned our offense. They’ve learned our defense, and I’ll expect they’ll do very well next year,” Dalton said. The Peglegs will be losing their starting point guard, as well as their best shooter and one of their most intelligent players. However, Gole has the potential to take over the team at the point guard position, as he has brought the ball down the court

a fair amount this season. Junior Konrad Krasucki, who has been out because of an injury, should return by then, and he also has the ability to dominate in the paint due to his immense size. Only time will tell who will step up next year to fill in the shoes of the former seniors. The Peglegs have made the playoffs for the past four seasons, and seven of the last eight seasons. Next year’s team is looking to keep the post-season streak alive, following up with another playoff appearance. Coach Fisher is very encouraged by the potential of next year’s team: “I expect to be right back in the playoffs next year. They’re going to work their butts off this summer, and they’ll be ready to basketball the way Stuyvesant likes to play basketball,” he said.


March 18, 2014

Page 28

The Spectator SpoRts Boys’ Volleyball

Ashley Lin / The Spectator

New Faces and Hopefully New Places

Stuyvesant Senior Mingyung Jiang hits an outside set during the boys’ volleyball team’s scrimmage against Brooklyn Tech.

By Omar Siddique It has been three years, 35 wins, and three divisional championships since the boys’ varsity volleyball team last advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Despite all the effort and hard work put into their last three seasons, the boys once again failed to advance to the second round,

falling to Seward Park Campus last season. Since they couldn’t advance the last three seasons, what makes this season different? Training, experience, and strong new members all play major roles. Although most coaches naturally aim for the championship every season, coach Vasken Choubaralian is different. Of course, he would be

more than happy to win it all, but Choubaralian says he is focusing on simply getting past the first round of the playoffs. “It’s been the same goal for the past few seasons, and that is to get past the first round of the playoffs and see where we advance from there,” Choubaralian said. “I’d really like to get the team past that first round to prove that we have gotten better and are a stronger team.” Instead of focusing the team primarily around the veterans, this year more attention is being paid to the new additions to the team in order to hopefully provide them with the experience and talent the team needs, not only for this season, but also for future seasons. “Hopefully by the end of the year, they will have established themselves as players that benefit the team and play key small roles come playoff time,” sophomore Dimitar Novakov said. The team has lost some very skilled and highly valued members of the team, so it is up to the newcomers and the returning players to fill the void. “We lost our setter and captain Cal-

Hawks Fly Too High for the Crippled Peglegs The Peglegs were in very optimistic spirits in school on February 26, excited for their playoff game that afternoon against the Hawks of Hillcrest High School. “We’re going to win by forty points,” senior Nick Kalantzopoulos said to me jokingly that morning. In fact, the team tried to garner support by sporting dress shirts and ties during the school day. They were hoping to do better than last year’s disappointing first round playoff loss to William C. Bryant by 12 points. Unfortunately for them, they faced an extremely hard task in the game: beating a faster, stronger, and more athletic team, without the athleticism or size to match up well. The first quarter started off rather bizarrely. After Hillcrest scored the first basket of the game, the Peglegs’ ensuing offensive possession lasted over a minute; the team demonstrated fluid ball movement with crisp passes back and forth. “They were playing the defense that we wanted them to play,” Kalantzopoulos said. However, the possession ended when a Pegleg threw an errant pass that sailed out of bounds. The Hawks then dominated most of the first quarter due to their superior athleticism and size. On one occasion, a Hawk would just dribble through the whole Pegleg team before making a rather easy shot to finish off the play; such instances occurred many times throughout the game. But the Peglegs stayed resilient, and were only down 12-8 at the end of the quarter. Although the second quarter was also relatively low scoring, senior and co-captain Imtiaz Hssan started heating up for the Peglegs and made several of the team’s baskets. However, the rest of the team was unable to sink any shots. “Nick [Kalant-

Connor Pfister, and junior Geon Woo Lee on the team. Looking to aid the players with and without experience, Choubaralian plans to incorporate a new strategy this year: scrimmage with harder opponents to give them a taste of what the playoffs will be like. “I want to get them a little more competition during the season with stronger opponents by scheduling scrimmage games with top ten teams, so exposing us to those challenging teams will hopefully show us what we need to do to be at that level,” Choubaralian said. Although the team has its sights set on giving the beginners some experience and training, there is one thing above all else: getting past that first round and taking it from there. With the improved talent and experience from returning veterans and the hard work and intensive training the newcomers will go through, perhaps this season the boys’ varsity volleyball team will finally see themselves not only winning the first round of the playoffs, but also going further.

Boys’ Baseball

Boys’ Basketball

By Eric Morgenstern

vin He (’13) last year, so we definitely need our current setter [junior] Vincent Huang to step his game up,” senior Mingyung Jiang said. “He is doing well but sometimes needs to be more aggressive.” Huang led the team with a total of 81 assists throughout the regular season last year, so he could have what it takes to fill the void left by last year’s captain. It is also up to the novices and returning veterans to fill the hole left by William Huang (’13), which will require extensive training and practice. Senior Elton Pan said, “We hope to train them and give them the experience they will need in future years to keep our team as strong as possible.” However, two seasons ago, half of the team was composed of underclassmen, all of whom brought their skills forth after the loss of six of their 15 members the year before. If the team was able to come back just as strongly after losing nearly half of its total members in 2012, then they can handle losing only three this year, especially with star players such as Huang, senior

zopoulos] had open shots, but he didn’t hit them today. [Senior and co-captain] Matthew [Dalton] had open looks, but he didn’t hit them today. The only one who hit [shots] was [senior and co-captain] Imtiaz [Hssan],” coach Philip Fisher said. Despite their struggling offense, the Peglegs surprisingly narrowed the gap due to the Hawks’ unproductive offense. The Peglegs were within reach by the end of the half, trailing 18-16. The game started to become very sloppy in the start of the second half. Both teams were forcing passes to covered men, leading to many turnovers and a fast-paced game. However, neither team could capitalize after the other team’s mistakes, and so the game was essentially a large race back and forth across the court. Although the Hawks were making many errors, the Peglegs were also struggling with the ball. This was due, in part, to the fact that the Hawks switched up their defense at halftime to a box-and-one. “We were never used to playing against that defense; a boxand-one hasn’t happened yet [this year],” Hssan said. A boxand-one is a defense in which each player has a zone, except for one, who guards the other team’s best player, who in this case was Hssan. The inability to adapt to that defense was very apparent, and the team was yet again down by four, this time 27-23, at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter started off very similarly to the third quarter. The Peglegs got sloppy, and the Hawks were unable to capitalize on the Peglegs’ mistakes. The Hawks’ inability to take advantage of turnovers helped the Peglegs come back and make it a three-point game, 31-28, with two minutes to go. Thirty seconds later, the

team was all of a sudden down by seven points, because they started to panic and tighten up due to the pressure of the moment. With 40 seconds left on the clock, Fisher knew it was a bit too late for a comeback, and decided to empty out the bench, putting in Senior Jason Luo in the game alongside juniors Kyler Chase, Jeffrey Zheng, Henry Luo, and Roman Szul. “We had a young team this year, with nine juniors. [It was] a great learning experience for them,” Dalton said. Hssan finished the game with a team-high 12 points, and junior Arlex Gole and Kalantzopoulos each contributed six points. Dalton had four points of his own, while starting senior Noah Kramer was held scoreless for the entire game. Junior Brian Quang was the only other player to score in the game for the Peglegs, evidently demonstrating the poor Pegleg offense. Considering that the Peglegs, composed of nine juniors and five seniors, were so young, the team definitely played better than they expected to. “Before the season, I wasn’t sure if we were going to make playoffs. Since that first game when we got destroyed, we came a long way,” Hssan said. Although they qualified for the playoffs, it was a close call; playoff-eligible PSAL teams must have at least eight wins, and the Peglegs had exactly that. Kalantzopoulos, however, was expecting such success from the get-go. “I looked at this team, and totally expected to make the playoffs,” he said. “In my mind, the team was either going to surpass or stay the same as last [year’s team], because I only view [success] as how far you get in the playoffs.” continued on page 27

Comeback Season By Louis Susser Spring is right around the corner, and so is the Hitmen’s baseball season. The Hitmen take the field this season with a burning passion to rectify not making the playoffs for the first time in 16 years last season. To re-establish their tainted reputation, coach John Carlesi will have to make some changes to whip his team back into shape. Ending the 2013 season with a record of 6-10 did not bode well for Carlesi or the team. “[The team] was very immature. We had about a 60 percent attendance for practices and non-league games— not a good combination for a winning team—that’s why we didn’t make the playoffs,” Carlesi said. It is not clear exactly why some players did not heed their coach’s directives to attend practices regularly. Carlesi speculated that the reason for reduced commitment was the inability to balance their academic and athletic commitments. Although he recognizes the importance of academics at Stuyvesant, he firmly believes that his players need to develop time-management skills to balance the demands of being part of the baseball program and being successful in the classroom. Some players blamed last year’s under-performance on poor leadership. “The captains [last year] did not do a good job to motivate the team, and whenever we seemed to be in trouble, we were never able to be picked back up,” senior and co-captain Timothy Diep said. When up against competitive teams such as those from George Washington or Beacon, the Hitmen were unable to bring the fire and intensity they had carried for a decade as a team under Carlesi. Despite

this, he is trying to motivate the team with productive practices, near-perfect attendance and full-team cooperation. The team has implemented more winter workouts and have even begun indoor practices at Pier 40 in the winter months. “The team’s work ethic this year has been fantastic. Almost everyone has been able to go to my winter lifting and conditioning clubs,” Carlesi said. By practicing at the pier, the Hitmen have been taking advantage of these rare opportunities to play baseball throughout the winter months, which can only benefit the team. Most public school teams have not been training during the off-season, which allows the Hitmen to stay one step ahead of the game during the season. To lengthen the stride even more, the Hitmen will be continuing the tradition of going to Florida for spring training during spring break. The Hitmen are excited to see potential from their underclassmen teammates. Jack Archer and Tobias Lange are two freshmen additions to the varsity roster. The last time a freshman played on varsity was in 2008. Also, sophomores Max Schneider and Nathan Chandler are both very much excited to be playing at this high level of competitiveness. On junior varsity, Chandler was a top pitcher in the league, so he will surely be a positive addition to the varsity pitching staff. The Hitmen are ready to perform at a caliber above last year’s. This is a well-rounded team that can be very successful if they continue to put in the hard work. “The main reason why the Stuyvesant Hitmen have been so successful in prior years is because, as a team, we work hard on and off the field,” senior and co-captain Ben Sydel said. “Our fundamentals are always sound.”


Volume 104 Issue 11