CAN A TEST REALLY TELL ME WHO I AM?
AFRAID TO FAIL
WHAT TO MAKE OF THE NEW SCHEDULE?
INHERITING POLITICAL THOUGHT
STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
OP ED: RACISM AND THE MODERN MIND
28 THE POET: GIA DONOVAN
44 ZAC OF ALL TRADES
The purpose of The Highliner is to provide a forum of expression for student voices in the Avenues Upper School community.
HIGHLINER Editor-in-Chief Isabella Simonetti
Managing Board Managing Editors Lucas Hornsby Wylie Makovsky Creative Director Sophie Potter Director of Art & Design Isabella Grana
32 ARTS & LETTERS
46 28 IN A DAY THE LIFE OF CREATIVE AN ELC TITLE STUDENT HERE
Ioli Baltas, Lucas Folz, Henry Gold, Oliver Gruber, Dylan Kelly, Claire Laidlaw, Lucy Reiss, Luka Mrvic, Talia Sacaju, Alma von Graffenried, Bowen Wilder
Zachary Bilmen, Tallulah Bonay, Brandon Bundt, Clara Leverenz, Emmanuelle Cohen, Jackson Ehrenworth, Parker Jay-Pachirat, Lola Williams, Antonio Rivoli, Eva Roso, Edward Shen
Marketing Director of Communications Ally Witt Business Manager Andrew Blum
42 WHAT TO EXPECT AS A JUNIOR
49 37 HUMOR
Daniel Mendel Avery Barnes
Avenues: The World School 259 10th Avenue New York, NY 10001 www.thehighliner.nyc
EDITORIAL IMPLEMENTING OUR IDEALS: WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AVENUES STUDENT
Photo by Sophie Potter
n Sunday, March 9, 2015, millions of ship, and service for our members, based upon the ideAmericans were in awe as a chant, de- als set forth by our Founders and as specifically enunlivered by the University of Oklahoma’s ciated in ‘The True Gentleman.’” Sigma Alpha Epsilon (“SAE”) fraternity, The behavior portrayed in the video is far from echoed from their screens. The fraternity boys cheered, exemplary of a “true gentleman.” “There will never be a n—– in SAE/There will never The racist chant not only defies Sigma Alpha be a n—– in SAE/You can hang ‘em from a tree, but it Epsilon’s stated values, but demonstrates a will never start with me/There will never be a n—– in lack of empathy towards recent events. Say what you SAE.” will about Baltimore and Fer The release “AT AVENUES, STUDENTS TEND TO guson, but racist remarks are of this ten second- UNKNOWINGLY OR UNINTENTION- unacceptable, and, coming long video sparked from a fraternity that pledges ALLY NEGLECT OUR VALUES.” outrage around the tolerance, hypocritical. nation. The mis Since Avenues’ opening sion statement of Sigma Alpha Epsilon testifies to the in 2012, students have taken steps to raise awareness moral values of the fraternity —– “[SAE stands] to about issues that are often overlooked by society like promote the highest standards of friendship, scholar- LGBTQ rights, and racism. This year, Avenues
sponsored its first Awareness day, led by juniors Julian Franco and Yasemen Smallens. Awareness day was designed to inform students of systematic racism and privilege. Smallens and Franco truly understand the impact of racism in society. Many students saw the value of Awareness Day. “I believe Awareness Day was an important step for Avenues in beginning a dialogue about systemic racism, an especially pertinent concept due to larger societal events, but also one that is often difficult to understand,” said Franco. Additionally, the Queer Straight Alliance held their second annual Coming Out Day at Avenues, during which brave members of the community were able to share their stories. At Avenues, students tend to unknowingly or unintentionally neglect our values. We often make inappropriate or derogatory jokes with our friends and do not realize their impact. Some students have noticed how our actions have not aligned with our values. “We fail our mission,” said sophomore Gianna Donovan. “Racist slurs and gay jokes are often thrown around lightly, but we don’t realize how we affect the people around us.” We see how our society is struggling to come to terms with its flaws, but we need to focus our attention on what is going on right under our noses so that we are prepared to tackle bigger issues once we step out into the world. “We expect that our students here at Avenues will not only be opinionated and possess a desire to make a difference, but they will be aware of the difference that they make, and the effects of their actions,” said Connor Wise, a sophomore at Avenues. Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” At Avenues, we are provided with a variety of different outlets to confront these difficult issues, such as weekly roundtable discussions at lunch, Awareness Day, and Coming Out Day. As students who aspire to be “at ease beyond our borders,” we need to take advantage of the opportunities we have to pro-
mote tolerance and respect in unfamiliar settings. We cannot expect to see any positive change in our environment unless we work to implement what we are taught. Repetition of behavior that we know is wrong ultimately weakens our growing community as a new school. The standards we set for ourselves should extend beyond Avenues so that we do not undermine our values in everyday life.
“WE SEE HOW SOCIETY IS STRUGGLING TO COME TO TERMS WITH ITS FLAWS, BUT WE NEED TO FOCUS OUR ATTENTION ON WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES SO THAT WE ARE PREPARED TO TACKLE BIGGER ISSUES ONCE WE STEP OUT INTO THE WORLD” It is time that we begin to understand valuable lessons we are taught in school so that by the time we leave Avenues we are ready to apply them to what is going on in the world. As the first Avenues students, we set the standard for our school. The hard work done by the administration will factor into the community we are working to build; however, we, the students, are responsible for determining our future. There will never be a day when Avenues is perfect. In fact, one of Avenues’ defining qualities is its everevolving culture. However, we should strive to cultivate a culture we are proud to be a part of. We have to start this by demonstrating tolerance and respect. It is our behavior that shapes Avenues’ legacy; will we get caught up in the pitfalls of society, or finally live up to the standards we set for ourselves? - Isabella Simonetti 9
AVENEWS FEATURES Afraid to Fail: How Grades Prevent Us From Achieving Our Best Selves BY JACKSON EHRENWORTH
Photo by Clara Leverenz
am being trained as a volunteer ski patroller, mostly in Vermont, sometimes in Colorado. Most weekends and vacations, I slip out of my role as an Avenues student and can be found on slopes of places like Killington or Wolf Creek. Last year, Collin Sutton, a Colorado patroller, showed me how to dig snow pits, read snow stability, and train avalanche dogs. I trained the dogs by being buried into a hole in the ice, and waiting in the dark for the dog to come. If things had not gone well that day, I likely would have been okay. After all, I had Collin with me--Collin with his worn leather gloves, his faded red patrol jacket, and his steady gaze. I was not with him the next day, when he went out to check the snow stability. He was with his patrol group – five experts in the high cold woods. They all approved the conditions. The other responders gave Collin first tracks and he dropped in. Three turns in, the mountain came down on him. It was not okay that day to fail. In this case, failure cost a life. There are times when failure is okay and times when it is not. This sentiment is echoed by Drew Cortese, a drama teacher at Avenues. In a recent interview in the tenth floor studio, he said, “In an ideal world, I would prefer for rocket scientists and, say, brain surgeons to have a lower degree of failure because what they are doing really ends up being mission critical, or there is a life at stake.” I can understand Cortese’s sentiment. I would give anything to bring Collin back, but nothing I can do will ever make that happen. I still think that there are times and places to take risks even in the face of failure, and an educational setting should be one of them. At Avenues, students are not neurosurgeons. We are not setting avalanche explosives. We should be able to try things we are not sure will turn out well. We should be able to
take risks. In fact, Paul Tough, author of How Chil- It was not motivating. It was utterly demoralizing. dren Succeed, says that resilience is one of the most im- And punitive grading policies become even portant character traits students must cultivate. And more damaging—psychological straitjackets, of how is resilience cultivated? According to Tough, stu- sorts—when you realize that colleges have cut-offs for dents develop resilience when they tackle real chal- grade point averages. For instance, I recently became lenges and deal with failure in safe settings. And he interested in St. Andrews, a school in Scotland. It has is not the only one who believes in the value of risk a kind of cold, stony appeal. Like most European uniand failure. Sarah Lewis, in her book The Rise and in versities, it has a required grade point average, below a recent TED talk, describes what she calls “the gift which the admissions office won’t even look at your of failure.” For Lewis, failure is a gift because it is in- application. The cut off is an A-minus average. That trinsic to creativity and mastery. In other words, both might not seem so high, unless, like me, you have an Tough and Lewis are proponents of grit—and it turns F-minus haunting you. Then failure does not seem so out, so is Cortese. He has to be, he is a professional playful anymore. actor. In acting, he says, “Failure pushes you forward. When you do not make the A-minus cutoff, When something doesn’t work for me, I do not quit. I you are the one who has to try to explain that you think about how I will get around it.” embraced experimentation and, in fact, inadvertently In other words, as students, we ought to em- embraced failure. Actually, you will not even get to exbrace risk and those things that do not come easy to us, plain it, because you do not even get to apply. What is such as a challenging math problem, a writer’s-block the surest (not the only, but the surest) way to guaraninducing writing prompt, or singing soprano in cho- tee you do not lose the opportunity to apply to places rus. Actually…don’t try chorus unless you can sing. like Saint Andrews? Follow directions all the time. What if our assignments allowed for risk? Be a foot soldier. Dare not. At Av Grades enues, what gets can also “WHAT IF OUR ASSIGNMENTS ALLOWED in the way of us come to exploring this FOR RISK? AT AVENUES, WHAT GETS IN THE seem like the question? WAY OF US EXPLORING THIS QUESTION? most promi Grades. nent form GRADES.” Or rather, a parof feedback ticularly punitive when they grading policy that makes failing feel scary and unsafe. are highlighted every day. For instance, my grades light It’s a grading policy that pays excessive attention to the sky every single time I open Haiku to get a homethings like annotation, writing in prescribed formats, work assignment. If you were to see my Haiku portal, and following directions about posting and submitting it would open up first to a stunningly long display of on Haiku. Sometimes it seems as if the ability to fol- Term 1, 2, 3 grades, as well as a current (updated daily) low directions is rewarded more than depth of think- summary of my Term 4 grades. By the way, any low ing or innovation. This focus on obedience doesn’t fit grade shows up as a daily reminder, demoralizer, and a with a culture of embracing failure, or teaching grit. In cautionary tale. a survey given by The Highliner, only 4.5% of students So grades end up mattering to us even when said that the community lives up to ideals of celebrat- we do not believe in them. It is like those theories of ing failure at Avenues. how the oppressed end up internalizing the viewpoint Here is the thing. It is not about the grade of their oppressors. Oppressive discourse beats you when the grade is a good grade. But when the grade is down. an F-minus (that is what your hero got this fall, when So should we at Avenues embrace failure given his interpretation of the assignment did not fit the this double standard, this simultaneous championing prompt), it is about the grade. Because I am the one and castigating of failure from different quarters at the who had to carry or fix that F-minus. I did not even school? Odd, I think, that I must pose this question, know you could get an F-minus. It made an impact. that embracing failure at Avenues seems a risk. 11
How we answer this question hits deep: Do we believe the purpose of school is to prepare us for more school, or do we think the purpose of school is to prepare us for achieving at anything? But is this really a hard question to answer? I don’t think so. We might side Cortese, who clearly believes the purpose of school is to prepare students for living. Cortese is worth listening to because his whole world as an actor, like all of our lives as human beings, is tied up in failure and resurgence. “For anything that is truly worth doing,” he said, “you cannot simply be an imitation, or a facsimile, or a carbon copy. You have to be something that is yours, that you own yourself. And ownership costs. And the cost is sacrifice. It means taking some hits.” Cortese’s words are echoed by William Lidwell, a professor at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston, consultant at Avenues, and the author of the best-selling design guide Universal Principles of Design. In an email exchange, Lidwell championed the wisdom of Frederick Douglass, who wrote: “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” Our own COO of Avenues, Jeff Clark, suggests, “Of course, not all efforts are met with the outcomes we desire. Whether it be a grade, number of pages or something else, I would encourage [students] should have braced me. With the shadow of a prior to first focus on growth as opposed to absolute attain- F-minus in mind, however, it did not. It is not easy to ment.” Clark advocates reading Edward Burger’s arti- recuperate from an F-minus. That one grade defines cle, “Teaching to Fail.” In that article, Burger, presi- you. Afterward, you feel as if you can never mess up dent of Southwestern University, talks about learning again. You can not afford another poor grade. Frankly, to fail effectively, which means embracing dead ends even with a good average, you have to have some seriand mistakes as essenous courage to turn tial to pathways toward in an assignment “YOU HAVE TO BE SOMETHING THAT’S clarity and innovation. that has explicitly YOURS, THAT YOU OWN YOURSELF. AND Burger actually grades been forbidden. OWNERSHIP COSTS. AND THE COST IS his students on what Here are some SACRIFICE. IT MEANS TAKING SOME HITS.” he calls, “the quality of things that I believe their failures.” could and should Listening to Cortese, Lidwell, and Clark (and change in the Avenues Upper School. Douglass), I am ashamed of occasionally fleeing fail- First off, perhaps we should recognize that ure at Avenues. For instance, when I once asked a students do not need so many grades to know how teacher if I could write more than the required page they are doing in a subject. Teachers do not have to limit – I vividly remember being told that I was not grade every assignment or update the term summary good enough to write a longer paper. If I truly lived by on Haiku. The Avenues math and science departCortese’s, Lidwell’s, and Douglass’s ethos, this setback ments demonstrate an approach worthy of merit in 12
this regard. If, for example, I were to try to find out my grades in math or science, I would not be able to do it. I can go into the assignments for science and see which standards I am meeting and exceeding so far– and there are extensive comments to illuminate my progress. In math, I can not even look at my grades at all. How do I know how I am doing in math? I know how I am doing in math... because I know how I am doing in math. I work my tail off in math, and it is not for the grade: it is the one class where I do not even know my grade – I just know if I am understanding the math. The school also does not have to use grades to sort us. Thomas Guskey, a psychologist and specialist in school reform, writes in a 2011 study in Educational Leadership that schools have to decide whether their primary purpose in grading is to sort talent or to develop it: there is no in between. If you want to develop talent, then your grading practices are all aimed at increasing achievement. Another grading guru, Doug
Reeves, says the same thing – that when your primary aim is to increase achievement, kids are not allowed to get bad grades. Poor grades for poor work should be replaced by better work and better grades. Because the point is for students to learn. And if the Avenues Upper School does continue to depend on the use of grades, maybe we should be mindful of, “three commonly used grading policies that are so ineffective they can be labeled as toxic” (Reeves, 2008, Educational Leadership, p. 85). Those include: giving zeros for missing or incomplete assignments instead of simply demanding completion; averaging grades, which means improvement can’t overcome early disaster; and weighting certain projects so much that they overwhelm all other work. To which I would add one more: the grade that is not a zero but is so low that it might as well be. The belief that grades inspire us to work harder, or that they are needed to sort us, should be reconsidered. “No research supports the idea that low grades prompt students to try harder,” writes Guskey (16). I can tell you what bad grades inspire, though: caution. They inspire you to carefully achieve better grades by finding out and following precise directions – doing every assignment as if you were responsible for landing a space shuttle with damaged O-rings. If the goal is for students to achieve our best and nourish our individual passions, then guide us to do well, and help us when we falter. Lidwell contrasts apathetic failure, which he describes as “failure due to neglect or laziness,” with earnest failure, “a failure despite our earnest efforts to succeed.” The former he calls self-sabotage, and the latter a profound and essential learning opportunity. Surely teachers can correct the former and reward the latter? There is something more, though. If we at Avenues truly value an ethos of embracing failure, should not we be grading for courage, innovation, and daring? And should not we be credited when we subvert assignments as well as when we follow them? The Avenues Upper School, I suggest, ought to be made into a pedagogical equivalent of Google X, minus the huge bonuses and the protective eyewear. Jackson Ehrenworth Term 4 GPA currently in flux 13
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Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone AVENUES IMMERSION PROGRAMS BY LUCAS FOLZ
tudents at Avenues are very fortunate to have riences that is life-changing. It can be transformative the opportunity to experience different cul- on an academic level as well as on a personal level. If a tures through studying abroad. For this school student wants to explore certain academic themes that year, the chosen destinations for the summer they are passionate about and they are abroad, I think immersion program are Spain and China for middle, that it is such a great way of taking the learning inside and Ecuador and China for Upper School students. the classroom and experiencing it internationalized in As a team, Avenues and the Global Journeys faculty a different environment. On a personal level, I think were “Very deliberate and worked very hard to offer the type of friendships and the cultural understanding programs that are language- but also culture-immer- that the students get when they are abroad is resive” said Natasha Bhandari, Global Manager of Av- ally something that they cannot get unless they go enues Extensions. and experience it themselves,” asserts Ms. Bhandari. Ms. Bhandari believes, “The best way to learn Freshman student, Kavin Chada, who is cura language is to immerse yourself in it.” During the rently enrolled to be on the Spanish trip to Ecuador course, students will experience a classroom environ- this summer, shows obvious excitement. “When I ment in the morning that builds their language skills. think about being able to go to a Spanish-speaking Afternoons will consist of outside-the-classroom country I think about learning. Every little thing in a activities that enable students to encounter and foreign language country is an opportunity to learn. explore the culture around them. Beyond classroom A road sign, a walk in the park, a trip to the marlearning, the types of activities that students may ex- ket; all of it provides a great chance to progress in my perience range from going on language learning. Of course field trips to doing projects. “STUDYING ABROAD IS ONE OF this happens in NYC, but it All of the programs incorpois so much more apparent THOSE EXPERIENCES THAT IS rate a homestay component, how much you learn from LIFE-CHANGING.” meaning that students will be just the everyday things in a living with local families in an effort to be well inte- hispanohablante community.” grated with the unique society surrounding them. Not only is an experience like this advanta While the two week program for the middle geous for personal growth, but Ms. Bhandari insists school (30 students) provides a clear outline of the that it “really tells colleges that you stepped outside of culture explored, the Upper School program (20-25 your comfort zone and experienced something really students) will prepare students with a deep under- different. Not many schools have such great opportustanding of global society. “I believe that part of our nities to go and actually live in the culture and expemission is to help our students be globally compe- rience things that use the language you’re learning.” tent. To understand other cultures, as well as adhere For the following school years the goal of the global to what we have promised our students: being truly journeys team is to incorporate these programs into proficient in a second language and being at ease be- a school year so that students can “come back and tie yond their borders,” said Ms. Bhandari. their classroom experiences to the international “I think studying abroad is one of those expe- experiences they had.”
Photo by Sophie Potter
What to Make of the New Schedule? A Student’s Perspective BY BOWEN WALDER
o say that the new schedule was an- time, and time to get help from teachers.” nounced before it was announced One thing we know for sure is that the is an understatement. The mas- new schedule will be less structured, and stusive rumor about a completely new dents will have fewer classes each day. This schedule echoed through the hallways of Av- will allow for students to focus on a particuenues in early January, weeks before it was of- lar idea or subject. For instance, Kavin Kopada ficially announced by the Upper School Lead- is “Excited to have a whole week of humaniership Team. Some rumors were correct, and ties,” because humanities is a passion of his. some weren’t. Over time, all of these rumors While students continue to display a molded into one big, mostly correct rumor. wide range of feelings about the new sched Months later, in March, Avenues stu- ule, most are simply confused. Students candents were surveyed by The Highliner and “WHILE STUDENTS CONTINUE TO DISPLAY A WIDE given the chance to RANGE OF FEELINGS ABOUT THE NEW SCHEDULE, voice their concerns MOST ARE SIMPLY CONFUSED.” and recommendations about the new schedule. Students voiced their not recall when — or even if — the school anconcerns about homework. Luca argued that nounced this to them, and most know far too the more time students had to do their home- little about what their school lives will look like work, the more problems would arise. She next year. Most wish there could have been a and several other students stated or implied formal assembly to announce the changes, if that they would prefer to have the homework only to offset the confusion caused by hearsay. in increments, rather than be given an entire Some students feel the school owes it to their week to procrastinate. Luca said, “Currently, students to not make such sweeping change. there are teachers who assign more than 45 Ryan Ng said, “It would have been fine for them minutes of homework, even though we only [the administration] to implement the new have two days to do it in the current sched- schedule if they had given us all two years notice.” ule. I can imagine that this will be magnified Despite the uncertainties about the with an entire week and weekend to do work.” schedule, it is a go for next year. And if it does Despite the potential pitfalls, stu- not make complete sense now, it should by the dents like Eleanor Davol see more time beginning of next year. One thing we can all be as an opportunity. Eleanor said, “With certain of is that Avenues will continue to live the new schedule there will be more free up to its name in being a “new school of thought.”
Photo by Emmy Cohen
racism and the modern mind WHAT DOES RACISM LOOK LIKE TODAY?
BY LOLA WILLIAMS
Drawing by Lola Williams
ace is a concept that never seems to evade my mind. I hear race everywhere. On the train, on the street, at my school; it never stops being heard. I hear it when I see young, beautiful chocolate girls complain about their natural hair. I hear it when I see new movies come out about slavery and black history. I’ve heard it more and more since the election of our first black president. I hear it when I see African women with bleached skin—the ones who are too ashamed of their natural, brown color. I hear it in the moments I myself become the victim of explicit and implicit bias. I was born, and mostly 20
raised, in New York City, but a large part of my first two years of life were spent in London. I come from a socioeconomically comfortable family; I constantly receive things I know many people can’t afford. When I was younger, I never really thought about my social status and privilege; after all, I was just a child. What does a child know about the economy? I never even realized how lucky I was to attend private schools with other privileged students. My grade school was The School at Columbia University -‐ a laboratory school located on the Upper West Side. Each year, I was one of a few black students. I never thought of
this as a problem. After all, I was just a child. I was innocent with an open mind— free of prejudice and racial bias. As I grew older, my parents began to discuss race with me. I learned about how black people endured slavery. I learned about the Confederate flag and the Civil War. I learned about the Emancipation Proclamation. I learned about segregation and the civil rights movement. Many of our conversations were inspired by the presidential election of President Barack Obama ‐ the first black President of the United States of America. My parents felt the impact of this election more than I did, as if they had a real connection with him— it was as if he became a part of our immediate family. I understood the importance of the election of the first African‐American president in America, but at the time, I didn’t feel the way they did. I didn’t understand. When I got to eighth grade, my eyes finally opened up to the subject of race and the challenges that remain. I was twelve years old. I had very kinky African hair that was tamed with cornrows that finished in one big braid tucked into a bun. My hair didn’t embarrass me. On the contrary, I took pride in it.
I took pride in my heritage, for it “racist” if they do not actively as- of racism, work to spread the beis who I was, who I am, and who I sociate with other races? lief and in turn propel implicit bias always will be. It was at that school that I further. Some people truly believe Anytime a discussion about began to see people and their in- we are living in a post‐racial socierace sparked in the classroom, all volvement in discussions on race ty. And to those people, I was a byof my white classmates would turn differently. The sudden discomfort product of these new “ideals” in the towards me in anticipation of my that would fill a classroom when classroom. I was the bright light comments. Because I am black, I the topic of race arose, became shining as an example of our counam the speaker for all black peo- a frequent observation. I would try’s progress whenever race was ple, from every time period— that’s scan the room, making note of discussed. I was the poster child what their eyes said. My mouth their sore faces that were meant for the end of racism: an educated rarely said anything. to prove they wanted nothing to black girl, from a comfortable fam Almost every class I have do with these conversations. They ily, sitting in a classroom where disever taken has made me feel like would hold stiff until the words cussions about race are taking place. Rosa Parks on a bus. Simply because around color and privilege passed. But I am not like many of my other I am not white. I classmates, and “EVEN TODAY, THIS DISCOMFORT REMAINS, FROM am a black girl in I am not like POLITICIANS DISCUSSING IMMIGRATION TO a white America. what many of TEACHERS TEACHING AMERICA’S TROUBLED A black girl with my classmates Nigerian heritage think I am. HISTORY. IT IS AS IF OUR SOCIETY HAS BEEN who can still hear I feel differFALSELY INDOCTRINATED WITH THE IDEA THAT the murmuring of ent than they DISCRIMINATION AND RACISM race everywhere. do, perhaps NO LONGER EXIST IN AMERICA.” Why had because I can people assumed I knew more than It was as if they wanted to exit the hear the sound of racial injustice in I did? Does being black automati- conversations to continue on with our society— I can feel it crawling cally confer greater knowledge their lives, oblivious to the reality on my skin. about race? In most cases the an- of racial tensions. They said little— All we have to do is look swer to this question is yes, but not and the silence sounded like our to the media. Most news networks always. The School was very keen first black president of the United highlight crime— often black on on associating itself with diversity States was no big deal, or slavery white or black on black crime. They and representing itself as diverse. was not the cause of the Civil War, reinforce the stereotype of blacks as Its mantra is Collaboration, Com- or the civil rights movement never criminals. munity, Diversity, and Innovation. took place, or the nine brave, black I remember watching a This is a noble mission, but one souls who started the first ever in- television show called “Samantha the school’s demographics did not tegrated school in America hadn’t Who?” when I was younger. There reflect. More than eighty percent existed or mattered. It was a real was one episode where Samanof the students who attended the kind of discomfort. tha, the protagonist, noticed she school were white. The rest of the Even today, this discomfort didn’t have any black friends. The students made up the black, His- remains, from politicians discuss- only black person she knew was panic, and Asian populations. It ing immigration to teachers teach- her doorman, Frank. Throughout was in this setting that I asked ing America’s troubled history. It is the episode, she strived to befriend myself: Why are some people so as if our society has been falsely in- Frank to ensure she did not apdriven to associate themselves with doctrinated with the idea that dis- pear to be a “racist.” By the end of races other than their own? Is it crimination and racism no longer the episode, Frank realized he was a deep desire to be inclusive? Are exist in America. The thousands of being used as a tool, and that her they truly color blind? Or, are they people who believe that our black friendship was not genuine. I redriven by a fear of being labeled president is a testament to the end member being deeply confused by 21
the episode. Why is there a forced he called an “oreo.” in a fairly privileged family, I spoke nature around racism? Why did “What the hell is an Oreo?” well, I got my homework done on Samantha feel she needed Frank’s I asked. time, I had great grades, I was confriendship as proof of her accept- “A black person who acts sidered a nerd, and my family was ing ways? Why did my classmates white,” he said. composed of doctors, lawyers, enfeel uncomfortable discussing race An Oreo cookie: white on gineers, and accountants. My black with me in the classmate on the room? other hand was from “SLAVERY WAS CONSTITUTIONALLY ABOLISHED IN Raca middle class famAMERICA IN 1865, AND WHILE BLACK PEOPLE HAVE ism has nothily, his spoken EngSINCE BEEN GIVEN, AND CONTINUE TO HOLD, CIVIL ing to do with lish was considered RIGHTS, I CANNOT SAY THAT TOTAL having friends “ghetto,” his written ENSLAVEMENT HAS BEEN ABOLISHED. from another English was also conTHE PSYCHOLOGICAL QUALITIES OF race. It is a sidered “ghetto,” he DISCRIMINATION HAVE NOT LEFT OUR MINDS” function of a rarely completed his person’s behomework, he held liefs and the condition of his or her the inside and black on the outside. less than average grades, he was heart. These questions of implicit Later that day, a white classmate very popular, and he came from a bias danced around me until they of mine approached me and said, single parent household. Although drew themselves as clear divides. “Even I can say the N‐word. I act I was the same race as him, our I was in 8th grade when blacker than you.” This was when differences subconsciously reclasI encountered the N word. It was I stopped to think. To me, these sified the race I belong to. Instead nearing the end of October, and remarks were a form of implicit of considering the circumstances of my history class started its new bias; black on black racism; white our lives and all of the factors that unit about slavery and black his- on black racism. A bias that occurs influenced the people who we were, tory. The introduction to this topic when one’s subconscious associ- he reclassified my race— I couldn’t was about the N-word: when it ates positive and negative words possibly be black. was used, why it was used, what to each race, or between races. Be- This is the tragedy of racit meant, and why it is still be- cause I was well educated, I was ism. This is what Martin Luther ing used. As usual, because I was considered to have a “white soul.” King, Jr. was referring to when he the only African‐American in the Although my black classmate and I dreamt that one day “my children class, I was the center of attention. were of the same race, we were dif- will not be judged by the color of After the class, my friends and ferent people. Because I did not use their skin but by the content of I continued the discussion over ghetto slang and spoke properly, he their character.” Slavery was constilunch. I remember another Afri- subconsciously considered me to tutionally abolished in America in can‐American classmate stating, “I be of a higher status than him, clas- 1865, and while black people have can say the N‐word because I am sifying me as white, and therefore since been given, and continue to black.” I, of course, said that I could indirectly supporting the notion of hold, civil rights, I cannot say that say it too, but that I wouldn’t be- white superiority. total enslavement has been abolcause of its hurtful meaning. So I ask: why does implicit ished. The psychological qualities Despite the effort of black bias occur within races? To answer of discrimination have not left our people overusing the N-word to this question, I set out to observe minds. Racism and discrimination strip away its original meaning, the the differences between me and my are both very much alive. Young word remains highly offensive and black classmate. These differences minds are indoctrinated into beexplosive. My defense of prohibit- included the way we spoke, our lieving that racism has ended and ing the word was met by my black written language, our work ethic, blacks are overreacting. I believe we classmate saying that I am “not our grades, our social statuses, and have only shifted racism from beeven fully black,” but instead what backgrounds. I was a child raised ing explicit to being implicit. 22
CAN A TEST REALLY TELL ME WHO I AM? UNPACKING THE MYSTERY OF THE MBTI PERSONALITY TEST
iscomfort with the unknown is a fundamental part of human nature. Since ancient times, humans have tried to describe and categorize themselves in a variety of ways. Greek physician Hippocrates consolidated age-old legends into medical theory, which held that humans fall into one of four “temperaments:” sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Key characteristics of these are extraversion and optimism, dominance and irritability, emotional sensitivity and caution, and introversion and tranquility. Over time, the evolution of psychology has brought us more detailed personality tests, such as the MyersBriggs Type Indicator. Throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, mother and daughter Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers developed a questionnaire that sought to identify key strengths and weaknesses of one’s personality. Katherine Briggs became interested in personality typology in 1917. Her passion grew deeper when she met her future son-inlaw, who she noticed had a markedly different personality than the
BY LUCAS HORNSBY
rest of her family. Ms. Briggs then embarked on a journey to better understand human identity, which she achieved through extensive research of biographies. She developed categories based on patterns she found in these biographies. Her project coincided with
to identify their natural professional inclinations even if they had little to no experience in the workforce. Isabel and her mother worked tirelessly for almost two decades before the test was finally published and acquired by the Educational Testing Service. Before this was possible, a beta version of the test was administered to more than 5,000 students at George Washington University’s medical school. The results were carefully dissected by the mother and daughter, who sought correlation between respondents’ results and the medical fields in which they chose to specialize. Almost 50 years after its publication, the MyersBriggs is one of the most widely used personality indicators in the world, taken by roughly 2 million people each year. According to The Washington Post, “CPP, the private Photo by Clara Leverenz company that publishes Mythe translation of Carl Jung’s 1923 ers Briggs, brings in roughly $20 English translation of Psychological million a year from it and the 800 Types. Essentially, Ms. Briggs built other products, such as coaching upon Jung’s similar — yet far more guides, that it has spawned.” This detailed — ideas to construct a test. test, known as the MBTI, takes The original purpose of this into account the answers to place test was to aid American women the respondent in one of sixteen in filling a growing number of jobs personality types, each a fourletter during World War II. Ms. Myers acronym. hoped to provide a tool for women According to the Myers 23
riggs Foundation, the first letter, B E or I, describes the respondent’s “favorite world;” in other words, it determines whether the respondent has a propensity for Extraversion or Introversion. Those who are prone to reticence tend to receive an I, whereas outgoing individuals are more likely to receive an E. According to Charles R. Martin’s “Looking at Type” an I personality prefers to get energy from within their heads — ideas, memories, pictures. In contrast, someone who falls into E has a more active interest in the world around them. The second letter, S or N, relates to the manner in which one comprehends information. Those who merely take it in fall into Sensing, while those who prefer to interpret and add meaning are said to possess Intuition. Moreover,
practicality or personal concerns and the feelings of others when making a decision. In a situation where a T chooses to analyze the pros and cons, for instance, an F might consult his or her values before aiming for a more rational and objective approach. The final pair, J or P, is based upon the respondent’s flexibility. Those who prefer a structured, task -oriented lifestyle fall into Judging. In contrast, respondents who are more adaptable and spontaneous in their decision making are described as Perceiving. Since a small group of Avenues students took the test a few months ago, numerous others have joined in, and many have even encouraged family members and friends outside of school to take it. Tenthgrader Connor Wise was among the first Avenues students to take the Myers Briggs, sharing, “THERE ARE A VARIETY OF “my friend sent me FACTORS THAT GO INTO THE a link before all the “CONSTELLATION” THAT IS A hype gathered. So I HUMAN’S PERSONALITY. took the test.” DR. GURTMAN EXPLAINS THAT IT C o n n o r ’s CAN BE PARTICULARLY HELPFUL first impression was FOR TEENAGERS TO UNDERSTAND that the test had litHOW THEIR MINDS WORK.” tle meaning, but as he read more about someone who is prone to Sensing his personality type — ENTJ — feels most comfortable collecting he came to see a lot of himself in information based on physical real- the results. ENTJs are described ity, or what can be captured by the as confident, energetic, and effifive senses. On the other hand, Ns cient, but also commandeering, and process data more deeply and place sometimes arrogant and intolerant. greater trust on their subconscious Connor claims that since he took than Sensors do. the test, not only has he become The third letter, T or F, more aware of his thoughts and accategorizes one as either prone to tions, but he has also sought ways thinking or feeling. In other words, to become more balanced. it expresses whether one tends to At the same time, he says, take into consideration logic and “it’s important to embrace my per24
sonality.” As for the format of the test, Connor admitted that some questions required more careful consideration. When asked if he placed himself nearer the side or the center of the room, for instance, Connor realized that he often adjusts his level of participation depending on the situation. In other words, many of the questions on the test call for more thinking than one would expect, which illustrates the ambivalence and diversity of the human character. Although Connor considers himself more of an introvert at times, he identifies as extroverted and sociable most of the time. He advises that those who take the test should answer as frankly as possible, as sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate the person you want to be from the individual you actually are. Furthermore, he wholeheartedly agrees with his preference for “thinking” over “feeling.” He was glad that the test identified his tendency to look at facts and evidence rather than to be guided by emotion when making a decision. Dr. Gurtman, our school psychologist, agrees that one can learn a lot from tests such as the MBTI; however, he warns that these tests’ predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. He adds that that it is impossible to derive a complete determination about a person based on a questionnaire. There are a variety of factors that go into the “constellation” that is a human’s personality, Dr. Gurtman explains, but it can be particularly helpful for teenagers to better understand how their minds work, and for them to look for ways to incorporate that insight into the way
they interact with others, interpret information, and tackle problems. Furthermore, knowledge about his or her traits can help a teengager excel academically. In the words of Dr. Gurtman, “Personal insight can potentially beget a lot of good things for adolescents. If you have a certain vulnerability, you can advocate for what you need.” Nevertheless, Dr. Gurtman concludes that humans are too complex to rely heavily on circumscribed definitions of who we are. Although such answers will likely never be complete, Dr. Gurtman says that we are living in an exciting time in the world of psychotherapy; neuroscientists, psychologists, and the like are collaborating like never before. Each discovery brings us closer to understanding the galaxy contained within ourselves, the intricate and multifarious web that makes us who we are and provides us with
an innate character upon which we can build ourselves. Despite its popularity and potential benefits, however, the Myers-Briggs has received sustained criticism by psychologists. One of the leading criticisms focuses on the MBTI’s low “test-retest reliability,” which statisticians describe as the similarity of results of one respondent over time. Analyses of the Myers-Briggs test have shown that there is a 50% chance that one will get different results after only five-weeks from taking the test for the first time. In general, many professionals also criticize the test’s assumption that such fundamental human qualities fall into mutually exclusive, artificially delineated categories. There is significant support of the belief that, in reality, most individuals exhibit very eclectic and dynamic personality traits that cannot be accurately labeled.
Amy Poehler Socrates Stephen Colbert
Virginia Woolf Rousseau John Lennon
ESTP the dynamo
Alexander the Great Winston Churchill Madonna
Hillary Clinton Henry Ford Courtney Cox
the craftsman Jack Dorsey Clint Eastwood Tom Cruise
Karl Marx Mark Zuckerberg Jay-Z
the counselor Plato Mahatma Gandhi Cate Blanchett
the performer Bill Clinton Ronald Reagan Beyoncé
Sarah Palin Pope Francis Anne Hathaway
Nelson Mandela Oprah Winfrey Dakota Fanning
Sigmund Freud Angela Merkel Matt Damon
Margaret Thatcher Bill Gates George Clooney
Mark Twain Julian Assange Keira Knightley
Abraham Lincoln John Locke Tina Fey
Simply reflect on your own character and that of others, and this will become apparent. That is not to say the MBTI should be discarded. Each of us possesses tendencies whose identification and understanding can illuminate parts of us that were previously in the dark, unfulfilled. This kind of introspective exploration, be it sparked by the MBTI or any similar test or conversation, yields limitless growth. Further, this behavior should be adopted as a lasting component of one’s character, and not an ephemeral fad obsession. Personality tests should spark a broader conversation about identity, and not deliver a single, definitive narrative about an individual. The Myers-Briggs is one tool in a toolbox of immeasurable dimensions; it does not provide the truth, but rather a pathway to it.
George H.W. Bush Rosa Parks Naomi Watts
the composer Ulysses S. Grant Michael Jackson Jackie Kennedy
Inheriting Political Thought BY OLIVER GRUBER
To what degree do we inherit apparent in the interviews with able to reach a place of independour political thought? The evidence students who were not politically ent thought. Being that Avenues is a high speaks loudly. After interviewing aligned with their parents. The poan equal number of Avenues stu- sitions they expressed were devel- school, the majority of our students dents from ninth, tenth, and elev- oped through independent think- are not at the stage in which free enth grades, I found that nearly ing. These high schoolers were far political thinking normally flour80% of our student body identifies more politically engaged than the ishes. Conventionally, this occurs as students get older, go off to colwith the same political position as average student. This shows us that students lege, and become eligible to vote. their parents. First, I asked students if they must take it upon themselves to Avenues, in contrast, teaches us to identify as liberal, conservative, or think through political topics as always question and is more enother, and I followed up by asking individuals, and only then can couraging of political expression them how their parents identify. I they legitimately claim a political than many schools. We can change approached students only when identity. Most high schools fail to this culture and create a stimulatthey were alone, as group inter- expose students to political issues ing environment where students views often force interviewees to and engage them in conversations are encouraged to develop their conform to the pressures of their that develop political identity. opinions. There are many students, peers. “MOST HIGH SCHOOLS FAIL TO particularly juniors, at Avenues After assessing the stuEXPOSE STUDENTS TO who will be able to vote in the dent body’s general posiPOLITICAL ISSUES AND ENGAGE THEM 2016 presidential election. The tions on the political specIN CONVERSATIONS THAT DEVELOP question, of course, applies: will trum, I asked students for POLITICAL IDENTITY. THIS MAKES IT IS we vote for the same candidate their stances on particular EASY FOR STUDENTS TO ADOPT THEIR as our parents, and if we do, issues. I discovered that PARENTS’ IDEOLOGIES BLINDLY.” why? And what influences will while most students could affect our decision? easily list their party affiliFirst, we must acknowledge ation — liberal or conservative — This makes it is easy for students many found it difficult to explain to adopt their parents’ ideologies the daily dose of bias — subliminal and explicit, at home and on the positions on said issues. The blindly. In the 1960s, the hippie move- the streets — to which we are exmajority of students were not able to clearly express an opinion when ment emerged when the children posed. This includes the political prompted with controversial issues of the baby boomers went off to environment of our own house, as that split party lines, e.g. gun con- college. These liberal teens defied evidenced by aforementioned data trol, abortion, and wealth distribu- the modern republicanism of their that shows that a majority of Avparents and protested established enues students claim the politics of tion. Students who mirror their par- conservative conventions and poli- their parents. Although true objectivity is ents’ political positions are less cies, with a uniquely widespread likely to give consideration to in- and loud force unlike that of the rare, and arguably, unnatural, it dividual issues and more likely to previous generation. Once they is possible to combat the biased, forge an emotional connection by left the protection and influence unjustified political identities that found under the wings of their befall most teenagers. We must party line. This trend was made yet more parents, these young adults were make an effort to filter all the in26
formation we receive for its possible prejudices. It is crucial to always question sources and see the biases they hold. In other words, we should nurture a healthy degree of skepticism and curiosity. We rely excessively on the media for the foundation of our opinions. Specifically, most Americans receive information about current events from cable news programs. Often, these programs broadcast news wrapped and packaged neatly in deceiving or incomplete ways that promote a political agenda. Available in two different colors. Unfortunately, there is no scientific method in politics. Data and facts can be skewed to support a variety of conflicting claims and to persuade different demographics. A prime example of the distortion of data for a political purpose is Ted Cruzâ€™s validation of his anti-global warming efforts with a single satellite data study. Cruz ignores the abounding evidence that undermines his arguments. These examples of convenient omission and cherry picking exist across the political spectrum as well as in a number of other fields. Such manipulations of evidence can be craftily
constructed into arguments that seem strong to a passive observer. Truth-seeking, critical citizens, however, refuse to swallow information blindly. This behavior poses a healthy threat to a system built on half-truths and misconstructions in which audiences are swayed all too easily. To be an informed citizen, one must seek out independent news sites and papers. These, however, are difficult to find, as objectivity is difficult to identify. A more realistic alternative is to obtain news from sources that span a wide array of political inclinations, then filter this information to paint a clear, more veritable picture. It is ignorant to believe that at any point you are not ignorant. In our nurturing and education, our minds are subjected to the encroaching opinions of others and society as a whole. Your mother, your father, your teachers, your friends, and even your life experiences have all supplementarily created, within your brain, a tendency to latch on to certain preconceived notions and ideas; this is simply human nature. We must acknowledge this inclination and not let it hinder our ability to perceive, judge, and decide. 27
The Poet: Gia Donovan BY JEAN LI SPENCER
ianna (“Gia”) Donovan loves cofand a fresh wave of students come in, I give fee. up and we begin talking. It is a particularly cold day Gia is charming as we speak. She in the Avenues building when Gia seems unbothered by our surroundings and and I meet for a I find that it is quick cup of cofeasy to make fee at Restore, her smile. “Pothe parent cafe. etry has always We are bundled been imporup in scarves tant to me,” and sweaters, she explains. “I commenting on constantly sit the unpredicted down and write. indoor chill, as Through my the sun shines project, I want brilliantly outto show peoside. Pedestriple every step ans walk by in of my thinking short-sleeved process, not just shirts. The clock the results you on the tiled wall usually see from reads ten fortypoint A to point five. It is an unB.” Gia’s project, fortunate time which is a comto be meeting, pilation of her as swarms of poetry, focuses Upper School on her thought students come process as a into the cafe writer, which during advisory is a refreshing and create a crescendo of noise. However, Gia twist from the traditional “final product,” usuis unfazed as ally shared by “MY WORK IS NOT JUST THE EXPERIENCE OF she calmly writers. As Gia POETRY, BUT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE POET sips her capphrases it, “My HERSELF” puccino. I am work is not just inclined to wait a few minutes before starting the experience of poetry, but the experience of our interview, but as the elevator doors open the poet herself.” 28
Gia admits that it was hard for her to begin writing. “This whole thing started out so intensely,” she groans. “I would write everything, literally everything, out on paper. It took hours and really drained me.” Now, Gia only writes when she feels inspired to. Her passion for writing, is just as strong as when she began, but she has figured out how to manage her time better. “I think it’s wise not to force writing and let it happen naturally,” she says. I ask Gia what the most memorable experience has been so far in her project. “I wrote this one poem and then I sat down with Mr. Mendel,” she tells me. “I had already edited four times but he told me to scrap the complete thing. It was memorable to me because
editing does not have to be taking things out or scrapping certain bits. It can also be completely reworking the entire thing.” At this point, the masses of students in the cafe become overwhelming. I indicate to Gia that we should wrap up soon, and she agrees with a nod as somebody bumps into our table. As a concluding thought, I ask Gia what she hopes to accomplish with this project. “I’m really looking forward to sharing my finished book of poetry with the community and those who really matter to me. So far my poetry has been very private, but it really took a lot out of me showing works to others. I think they definitely learned a lot about me though, and I want to share this experience with others.”
VALENTINES DAY Love is the way my dad clinged on to a future, that was never his. When we first kissed, I felt a thousand cliches but not one described us. We fell in love head first, and must have collided on that whirlwind trip. You mapped the stars on my skin with your fingers and left an explosion. The love poems I write are only the feelings I never expressed.
— Gianna Donovan
ARTS & LETTERS POINTERS FOR PROPER PROSE #2: IN SUPPORT OF THE OXFORD COMMA
BY IOLI BALTAS
ince we have entered the 21st Century, humanity has seen many strange and important events, including, but not limited to, the evolution of social media, the end of the world twice over, multiple celebrity deaths, Pluto unbecoming a planet, and Disney’s brainwashing of children (but that was always a thing). Perhaps the most overlooked of all events was the sneaky decision—somewhere along the line—to discredit the Oxford comma. I am here, not to make up your opinion for you, but to demonstrate the importance of the Oxford comma as a grammatical weapon. For those who do not know, the Oxford comma (also known as the serial or series comma, and more haughtily known as “the Harvard comma”), is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction in a series of three or more terms. Confused? Below you will find a series of sentences that explore both options. Option 1. We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin. Here we see that the lack of the prestigious comma leads the reader to believe that well-known rulers, such as JFK and Stalin, were strippers. In real-
ity (or some warped version of it), they were guests invited along with the strippers. The Oxford comma should precede the word ‘and.’ Option 2. We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin. To drive home the point, check out the following sentence:
After school today, my friends and I discussed religious figures, Tony the Tiger and the CCC.
In the following sentence, the Oxford comma should have preceded the ‘and.’ Its failure to do so gave the impression that Tony the Tiger and the CCC are religious figures. Once again, the Oxford comma should precede the word ‘and:’
After school today, my friends and I discussed religious figures, Tony the Tiger, and the CCC.
As can be seen by any of these examples, not using the Oxford comma can cause serious confusion and strange implications. Don’t let the Oxford comma die out!
snapshots from SoHo BY ALMA VON GRAFFENRIED
young girl sits on a ledge, studying the small bodies walking to and fro beneath her. She observes their pedestrian dress, reading movement as best she can, wondering who they are and what they do. She invents fake names and backstories. Glancing six stories up, they’d see only two dangling legs, the bottoms of dirty white Keds swaying out of ripped jeans. The girl likes this feeling of anonymity. A lazy spring wind passes by as a voice startles her daydream. A boy, standing with his back against the wall, has been watching. He studies the way she twirls her hair, how she taps her fingers. He studies her back, and he is uncertain only for a moment that it’s her, until he recognizes headphones, beat-up and familiar,
Photo by Alma von Graffenreid
resting between her curls. What’s she been listening to? He assumes it must be underground, some band he’s never even heard of. After all, how many times has he seen disappointment flicker across her face, the differences between them silently apparent? “You know you’re trespassing?” She looks over at him, an incredulous eyebrow raised slightly. “And you haven’t gone where you shouldn’t before?” she asks. He releases a sigh, “I brought you coffee.” “I don’t accept your apology,” she says as she turns to look at the crowd. “It’s not an apology” he says, pausing, “it’s just coffee.”
She climbs from her sentry, swinging her backpack onto a shoulder. Her sneakers hit the ground. In seconds she has passed him, like the rooftop breeze that had left her hair moments ago. He wonders whether to follow her. The unwanted coffee has cooled in his hand, another thing he mistakenly assumed she had wanted. In the background, he hears the stairway door close. He looks down at the sidewalk wondering what below had intrigued her moments before. Like the song she had been listening to, there were so many things he would now never know about her. Leaving the building behind, she crosses to the coffee shop on the other side of the street, staring straight ahead, paying no attention to the passersby. 33
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LOST BY PARKER JAY-PACHIRAT
ow I longed to bury my ears and my muzzle into the arms of my owners, to sniff their day. The other dogs they petted, the aroma of coffee and orange peels still fresh on their fingertips. I remember the days spent snuggled up with them, eating peanut butter and carrots, the time I ate Godiva chocolate and had to go to the vet. My owners were always with me. Yet here I am, standing on a pebbly roadside, with the hot wind infesting my fur with dust, feeling far away from home. The incident began on a quiet, slightly rainy morning. In fact, it was my morning walk. We went by a similar route each day, passing the red car, up and down the long grassy hill, and finally to the coffee shop, before heading home. Since it was rainy, my fur got a bit wet, and for that reason, I was not allowed in the coffee shop that day. There was a curious sign posted on 38
Photo by Isabella Grana
the wall: “No WET dogs allowed.” So I was left outside. Negative thoughts floated away as I noticed interesting things things I had never noticed before. Cats, little birds, plastic bags fluttering around from the wind. All of my senses were heightened. My owner never tied me to a post or a leash. I was trustworthy… Until I began to trod across the zebrastriped street, farther and farther away from the cozy coffee shop. I am now on a hard, concrete road. Dry and dusty, my paws feel as if they have been dipped in chalk. My tounge is stripped of all moisture and my head is heavy and weak. Recalling this memory has taken too much mental effort, and the thought of rain makes me pant even harder and more sporadically. The pale blue in the sky is matched with the dead, naked, skinny trees that line it. Where could I be? I follow my nose until it leads me here, which is nowhere. I long
to see another dog, another animal. Will I ever see a human again? As if the big blue sky hears my wishes, the sound of tires driving over pebbles snaps and crackles. And in a few seconds a pale yellow truck pulls up the long, empty, dead road. I sniff and immediately recognize the burning Marlboros, sweat, and rubber boots. A pair of grey rubber boots caked in mud plant themselves on the ground to reveal a short, bony woman. She has a deep tan, and her wide forehead and big eyes remind me of my owner. She reaches down and tugs affectionately at my ears. She says, “You don’t belong quite here, do you doggy?” I nuzzle my face into her palm, and although she doesn’t smell like Godiva, or orange peels, I know that the smell of warm grass and sunshine is a smell I will learn to love.
IN THE MORNING The way the sun shines so definitely through my curtains every morning cutting clearly across flat walls In my bed, I watch dust moats dance frantically In the illuminated room I think of how this will be my routine over and over again in a different room, in a different body. In a different life? With opened eyes, blinking away my dreams, the morning always comes. I feel my hands, the way my hair curls gently against the curve of my neck. Moments donâ€™t last long. Air is never still. It accompanies me throughout my life. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. My youth scatters like dandelion fluff in the wind. I am eternalized only in my own memory the flush of my cheeks the brightness of my eyes. Grass ripples in the graveyard. A quietness is always present. O how life seems to fly by! â€” Jean Li Spencer
The Canna Flowerâ€™s Lesson BY BRANDON BUNDT
Photo by Brandon Bundt
A year ago, I went to Hiroshima as part of a school trip. Six months ago, as I was holding a sketching pencil during an art class at Avenues, memories from the trip came back to me. Memories of visiting the memorial museum and Ground Zero, where the nuclear bomb dropped nearly seventy years ago, vividly flashed through my mind. After the bomb dropped, the bright red Canna flower emerged out of the ashen black-and-white world. Many people were inspired by this Canna flower, and it became a symbol of hope and rebirth.
During that art class I decided to create a piece centered around the motif of a canna flower. The day before I attended that art class, I learned how my great-grandfather was killed in the war. Until now, my family believed that my great-grandfather passed when his boat was bombed. I learned he did not die when his boat was bombed, but rather, he died from starvation on an isolated island. In fact, it was an American blockade that prevented the Japanese ration ships from delivering food to his island. To think how that manâ€™s greatgrandson would be half American; I let these thoughts wander as I began to draw the picture of a Canna flower I found online. 40
“When the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima, what did the inhabitants of the other cities do?” asked one of the Avenues students. That day, Hibakusha from Japan came to tell their individual, personal stories to us at Avenues. Acting as translator, I listened to one of the Hibakusha’s responses to the question, which I could not comprehend for a few moments. He explained, “The Japanese military did not want to share anything with the public. All they said was that the a-bomb was a ‘new bomb,’ and that if the public painted themselves with oil, they would be able to save themselves from this new bomb.”
It was that instant the Canna flower from that art class breezed through my mind once again. What point was there for Japan to fight at the time if it was killing its own people?
If I had never gone to Ground Zero, if I had never heard of the Canna flower, if I never was given the opportunity to listen to a Hibakusha tell me his story, or if I was never exposed to the other viewpoints about the nuclear bomb, would I understand the conflict to the extent I do now? Had I just read about nuclear bombs from a textbook, would I have the same opinion I have today?
student life THE TOP FIVE THINGS RISING JUNIORS NEED TO KNOW BY ANDREW BLUM
Photo by Creative Team
For many, junior year represents the epitome of stress. The multiplicity of standardized testing, the heightened importance of grades, and the stockpiling of extracurriculars all seem to culminate into a perfect storm. At Avenues, juniors fall on both sides of the stress-spectrum: some walk around, perpetually frazzled while others seem to be more or less unaffected by the dreaded junior year. Whatever the reaction, one thing is for sure, junior year is exponentially harder than sophomore year. That’s why this article was created, to get some advice for you nervous sophomores.
“Make compromises” - Noah Neve Junior year is full of activities. From school, to sports, to clubs, to standardized testing, and still seeing your friends, lack of time can feel overwhelming. One way to mitigate that stress is by planning out your time. Although it can feel cumbersome to waste time to plan out when you will do everything, in the long run, it will help lessen the stress of not knowing when you have time to study for the SAT or do your math homework. You also may have to cut back your time spent with friends. Junior year is hard, but it doesn’t last forever. “Ask for help when you need it; it will be worth your time” - Ella Weinstein Junior year is hard, but there is no need to make it harder by bearing the burden all by yourself. Your teachers were juniors once too, they understand the stress you are under and are more than willing to work with you to help in any way they can, but communication is key. If you are completely inundated in other work one day, don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for an extension. Your teachers want you to understand the material, but they also want you to sleep.
“Don’t compare yourself to others and be proud of what you can accomplish” -- Talia Sacajiu Juniors are presented with many challenges, all of which I do not desire to enumerate, however, many of such challenges are quantitative. It’s easy to get wrapped up in comparing SAT scores, extracurricular lists, and grades, all from which no good can arise. It is not about other people, but about yourself. If you can focus on your goals and striving for your personal best, that’s all you can ask for.
“Do what you love, focus on your school work and colleges will see that” -- Casey Hartzell Many people try to take part in as many extracurriculars as possible during junior year, joining things because it will “look good” for their applications, rather than because they are interested. Junior year is challenging and there is no need to make it more work than it is by adding something which you are not passionate about. Avenues has plenty of clubs and activities, all of which will look good on a college application because they want to see what you are truly interested in.
“When it comes to picking a college, go for personality over brand name” -- Jules Franco You may be thinking that this is not a relevant advice for junior year; I haven’t even picked my first choice school yet. However, junior year is when you visit colleges and form important opinions. Try to remove yourself from popular opinions about colleges. Form your own ideas about a college: don’t rely on others. There are many good colleges where you can get a good education, so find a college that has what you are looking for--a good swimming program, a Chinese major--not just a college that everyone wants to attend.
Whether you are nervous, anxious, or excited for junior year, one thing is true, it is objectively hard. The current 11th graders’ status as the first graduating class put us in a unique position, we did not have any students who went through the experience to give us advice. This article helps by providing experiences from Avenues’ first junior class that can be used to help get through it all. If you take nothing away from the article, remember this: Focus on who you are and what you are passionate about, your work, your time, and your needs. By doing so, you will not only finish junior year, but you will finish with pride in your work.
Zac-of-all-trades STUDENT ADVICE COLUMN BY ZAC BILMEN
Dear Zac, This is my first year in the Upper School. Last year, in eighth grade, I was told how different classes would run in the Upper School, but I didn’t realize how truly daunting Harkness would be for me. I do all of my work and understand most of the concepts my classes are covering, but I am very shy. I thought I’d open up to the idea of taking initiative in class by now, but ninth grade is almost over and I am still not contributing as much as I should. I don’t want my teachers and peers to think I am not participating but I can’t seem to bring myself out of my shell. Did it take you a while to adjust to Harkness? Do you have any advice for a shy student who wants to become an active participant in class discussions?
Hey Shy Guy, First of all, welcome to the Upper School, and congratulations on nearly completing your first year. Harkness method can be a bit of transition for anyone, particularly someone who is shy. You have to remember that Harkness is designed to teach you how to be an active participant in your own learning. And well, like anything else in life, there’s a learning curve to learning how to engage in academic discussions. We have all gone through the process of working towards improving ourselves in a specific area. The key word in this experience being “process”— there must be a series of actions or steps tak-
en in order to achieve a particular end. Some processes take longer than others to achieve, and most processes never end because there is always room for improvement. This is true whether you are getting better at a sport or at an academic subject, or anything of the sort. A recent example for me is with the Design Challenge. The Design Challenge is something new and outside of my comfort zone. I had to think of things I have never thought about like how to design a bar of chocolate or how to organize an event. With this new experience, I also had to bring together skills that have been honed in every student here in Avenues: collaboration. Harkness, like the Design
Challenge, by design encourages you to collaborate with your peers. We need to work together efficiently to make a large project work or to explore new ideas. This level of collaboration can be intimidating, but you should also find assurance in the fact that your classmates are working alongside with you. I felt pretty vulnerable during the Design Challenge because I’m not used to thinking about those kinds of ideas— I felt like I didn’t have anything to contribute. Not long into collaborating with my classmates though, I realized everyone else was on a similar page. We were working beyond our borders together. I can see why participating in class may seem daunting
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to you, but remember that you are not alone in this feeling. Look to your classmates for ideas on how you might better contribute to class discussion. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification during class if you’re not following the conversation— admitting you are confused or unsure about something is contributing. It can seem embarrassing to speak up about your ideas at first, but once you realize that you’re a part of a collaborative community of open-minded individuals who, like you, are learning the ropes for themselves, speaking in class isn’t so bad. A very unique aspect of the Avenues Community is the level of empathy we all possess and share with one another. Events such as
the Day of Silence and Awareness Day are a testament to how committed Avenues students are to practicing empathy and working with those around them. If you are struggling with something, and perhaps embarrassed by that struggle, this is the best place to be struggling. There’s a collaborative environment of open-minded people who are looking to push their knowledge and yours further, not down, all around you. Remember that your teachers and advisor are here for support too. You should be transparent about your anxieties. In communicating that you want to work on your shyness to be more involved, you let your teachers know that you do care about your experiences as
a student. Essentially, that’s what Harkness is all about: affording you the opportunity to learn through experiencing. Once you conquer your fear of speaking up in class, your ability to effectively communicate, along with numerous other skill sets, will be strengthened. Avenues’ learning spaces provide us with numerous opportunities to improve our skill sets and further our thinking. Continue to encourage yourself, seek help from those around you, practice, and remember that getting over shyness wont happen overnight— experience the process. Wishing you all the best, Zac
Wishing I Was Four Again A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ELC STUDENT BY LUCY REISS
Have you ever considered what it might be like to be a preschool student here at Avenues? Located a mere seven floors below the Upper School, the Early Learning Center (“ELC”) feels worlds away. While many of us attended preschools between the ages of three and five, we likely take for granted the critical role it played in our lives. A few weeks ago, I let my curiosity lead me downstairs--out of our hectic world of grades, SAT prep, projects and papers--to remember, and most of all, to learn. As I navigated the hallways of the ELC, I was immediately taken aback by the prominence of art displays. The children make art with materials from “The Possibilities Place,” a term coined by an ELC preschooler. The name refers to a closet used by the ELC this year as a storage for recycled materials found by students and brought in by parents. The idea was strongly influenced by the Reggio Emilia schools, which also firmly believe in the use of recycled products to make art. As Nancy Schulman, the head of the ELC, explained, “When someone hands you something that has a specific look to it—[it isn’t the same as getting to build something yourself ].” Schulman has been in the business of educat-
ing children and working with groundbreaking and effective childhood programs for over thirty years. She is one of the most highly regarded educators in the country, and generously took time out of her day to explain the kind of work that students do in the ELC to The Highliner. I noticed frequent blocks of time were taken up by structured playing, creative activities, or essentially free time — one example is “Centers time,” when the children rotate between four different tables, each one pertaining to a different game, project, skill or “motor activity.” While one child spends 15 minutes building a huge structure out of blocks, another spends the time painting or completing a game. Essentially, the preschoolers have their own version of what we call “mastery” in the Upper School. Much like our curriculum, skill-based learning is a foundation of the ELC. “There’s a lot of opportunity for kids to be following their interests and following their leads,” said Schulman. “It’s not quite mastery—the brain is elastic at this point in time, you want to stretch all the elasticity in all possible ways. But giving kids opportunities to do the things that they’re passionate about and that
they love — that’s good for everybody.” Schulman advocates for taking time to teach the small things. Things we take for granted, like spreading cream cheese on a bagel, are skills taught in the ELC. I never considered spreading condiments on a bagel to be a skill— why would I? Yet, learning this action is crucial at four years old. Before any of the creative, skill-based learning, collaboration or immersion takes place, a very interesting and important process occurs. Schulman described this process as, “Not easy for parents always, but works for children.” This is the process of assimilating to the school environment, letting go of the comfort of always having parents by your side, and learning to with your parents to spending that feel comfortable around teachers. time with a group of strange chil Avenues offers a slow dren. But Schulman strongly bephase-in process, in which the lieves it is very important to teach children can feel safe and secure to children from the youngest age separate from their parents— this possible, that it is not just about is something I can say, from first- them anymore. They must deal hand experience, not all schools with their anger or disappointmake an effort to do. The phase-in ment more maturely, and be careful portion of the process is enacted about the way they treat others— through consecutive visits of gradually long- “PLAYING IS HOW THEY SHARE IDEAS AND GAIN NEW INSIGHTS AND er and longer PERSPECTIVES — ALL CRUCIAL periods to let the children FACTORS IN CREATING AWARE AND assimilate. The WELL-ADAPTED CITIZENS.” teachers slowly start to scaffold their routines, add- something I think us teenagers and ing new classes every day— again, adults tend to forget. something like having lunch with The last basic skill in the ELC classmates and teachers is a huge is building independence. This indeal for three year olds. volves the most basic actions like As far as making friends, going to the bathroom on your Schulman uses the mantra, “Be a own, or putting your coat on the friend, make a friend.” It is difficult rack. As Ms. Schulman put it: to go from spending so much time “Take risks. Try new things. Build
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some resilience.” This is heavy stuff to be teaching preschoolers, but Avenues is doing it— or at least trying. Harkness, the method of discussion used in both the Middle and Upper School, is essentially a large extension of the ELC’s play and interaction models. Playing is how they share ideas and gain new insights and perspectives— all crucial factors in creating aware and well-adapted citizens. Schulman thinks the characteristics that make the Avenues ELC most unique are its language program, the multicultural mix of families, the fact that it is part of a bigger institution, and the attitude of the teachers— having visited the ELC, I can attest to their flexibility, warmth, adaptability and playfulness. While Schulman admits the ELC is not economically or racially diverse, she says it is very much so culturally. This explains 47
the fascinating role that language I had just entered an ELC Avenues’ mantra is “Welplays in the Avenues ELC. Lan- classroom, when suddenly Ms. come, Safety, Respect.” I can conguage is huge part of Avenues, and Larson was introducing me to the fidently say these kids are learning a huge part of its ELC program. class. “Bluebirds this is Lucy. She’s these values very early. And if these Children three to five get familiar- a big kid at Avenues, she’s in 11th values are intended to play a large ized with a target language (Span- grade.” The children immediately role in the creation of the Avenues ish or Chinese), and slowly start to exclaimed, “Hi Lucy!” There was graduate — “a Global Citizen”— assimilate into the new language. barely a pause. There was not an then maybe the Upper School Just to give some pershould look to the ELC spective, we are talk- “THESE ARE FOUR-YEAR-OLDS— I AM for inspiration a little ing about trilingual 16. AND YET, I DO NOT SEE THE KIND OF more. four-year-olds! Avenues preschoolMATURITY OR PHILOSOPHY OF I got to tour ers are going to be WELCOME I SAW SITTING WITH THOSE a few classes briefly, thoughtful, emotionally CHILDREN, IN THE UPPER SCHOOL.” and generally what I mature, problem-solvwitnessed was a playing, and conscientious ful, engaging learning environment. uneasy hesitance— these children high schoolers. Avenues’ ELC proTeachers were excited, children are learning very young to adapt gram and Ms. Schulman are going were engaged and enthusiastic, to their situations, to go with it, above and beyond by making sure everyone was learning and having to make friends, and to enjoy new kids know the importance of treata great time. As I scanned class- experiences. These are four-year- ing others well, recognizing diverrooms, one commonality caught olds— I am 16. And yet, I do not sity as a positive, and learning to my eye: Regardless of what a stu- see the kind of maturity or phi- solve problems in interesting ways. dent was doing, they were learning, losophy of welcome I saw sitting Let us make sure we help these imand they were curious. with those children, in the Upper pressive kids become “Global School. citizens.”
Photo by Isabella Grana
YEAR IN REVIEW
BY HENRY GOLD
The Highliner, in all of its strength and majesty, could not cover everything this year. With this in mind, we have compiled the following headlines of stories you might have missed! Shy classmate finally speaks up in Harkness, nobody listens CCC actually stands for Courtroom Cliché Club Smart classmate who understands everything, out with a cold; anarchy ensues Mr. Dunnan’s pet monkey stumbles out of Hudson River with eye missing, harrowing tale of survival Elevators move really fast when nobody uses them Sophomore looks at daily announcement page on Haiku iPad dies, laptop at home, student uses pencil Junior remembers when it was quiet Teachers discover command H Teacher misses class, no search conducted Student thinks next year will be less crowded Junior proves that sophomores and freshmen have it easier than they did “Students are really eager to study,” says Alex the Tutor Freshmen FAQ: What’s dress code? Sophomore FAQ: Do people even know we’re here? Junior FAQ: When will this madness be over? Teacher FAQ: Do we have to keep repeating ourselves? Uber discount password: Avenues259 New reality show featuring Avenues students: Bae-Watch Cafe profits higher than tuition rates Avenues administrators want parents to think they’re not weird; implement five-day schedule
the tsunami BY EDWARD SHEN
Photo by Isabella Grana
The hotel’s water park was stained with colors of various swimsuits and skin. There was one attraction that caught my eye, “The Tsunami,” as it was called. I nudged my twin brother, pointing to the side where “The Tsunami” resided. I was bubbling with excitement, like any eight-year-old would be in a water park. Many people had life jackets, so I picked up the last one. Even though I knew how to swim, I took the life jacket just in case. My feet pressed against the cold and slippery floor. Each step I took led me deeper into the pool. Sirens started to wail on the walls in front of me. I looked around in panic, but the crowd around me seemed not to care. 50
Ahead, I saw a giant wave. I closed my eyes and the water collapsed over me. However, I rose again. Grinning widely, I glanced at my brother. He coughed, “I can’t swim here. I wish I didn’t forget my goggles in the hotel room…” The sirens went off again, louder this time. I was ready. The waves crashed upon me. I returned to the surface with a gasp for air. All the movement from the water had pushed me closer to the deeper waters. I looked around but I failed to see him. Where was he? Did he drown? Was I separated? Another wave hit. I felt flailing arms grab me, and I began to sink. I saw my
brother’s arms around me, hugging me as he struggled to catch his breath. The water was getting into my eyes. As my brother went up, I went down. My life jacket didn’t work; my brother was weighing me down. I fell deeper and deeper into darkness. Someone dragged me out of the water and onto the fake shore. It was the lifeguard. My brother was still hugging tightly on me. “Stop clinging onto him. You almost made him drown!” the lifeguard told my brother while I coughed out the salty water. Eyes stared at me from all around. I must have looked like a fool... a kid wearing a lifejacket but still almost drowned!
marcel & marcia BY LUCY REISS
Marcel sat in the all-burgundy living room, sharpening his wooden spear. Marcia sat in the kitchen with bright floral wallpaper, making an apple pie. There was a knock at the door. Marcia looked at Marcel. Marcel looked at Marcia. Marcel and Marcia looked at the clock. The clock looked back at Marcel and Marcia. Who could be calling upon the house at 2:22 PM on a Wednesday?
Ms Bingham jauntily replied: “Oh well I was just returning the sugar.” “That’s very kind of you but we see no use for your sugar here.” There was a pause as Ms. Bingham looked confusedly at Marcia. “But... You lent it to me...” “And I’m sure you’ll find a Photo by Lucy Reiss more profound way to repay us in the future, but at the moment, Ms. Bingham, we happen to be very busy and we really don’t need the sugar. Please leave now.” “Well then. Have a nice day.” Ms. Bingham mumbled before she walked briskly through Marcel & Marcia’s garden towards the sidewalk and out their white gate.
Not the mailman, no, he came at 7 AM on Mondays. And besides, he’d begun to avoid Marcia & Marcel’s home.
Meanwhile, Marcel had finished sharpening his spear.
Not a friend no, there were none that Marcel or Marcia knew of.
“That was Ms. Bingham returning the sugar. What an odd woman.”
When Marcia finally opened the door, she found her neighbor smiling, holding a pot of sugar.
“Quite.” said Marcel as he ran his finger along his wooden spear.
“--Oh, Ms. Bingham. What can we do for you?” 51
coming attraction BY ANTONIO RIVOLI
If you hear a rumbling sound, you know your stomach is digesting. If it is accompanied by sharp pains, there is something else going on down there. You are suddenly feeling a tightness in your stomach. Hmmm... you think to yourself. It feels like tiny bubbles of air are being blown in your stomach, compressing against one another. You twist and turn to escape from the mold of the movie theater seats, desperately trying to pop the bubbles. You peer over to the left: a lovely young couple. You peer to the right: a hippie brushing his hair out of his face. Are they far enough away or will they feel the effects of this? This project that is taking shape inside of you. For a second you appear to feel normal. Maybe it was all a false alarm, maybe nothing was happening... oh… wait… there it goes again, only now the bubbles have graduated to a large balloon. This is definitely happening. You fidget in your seat trying to find the correct trajectory position. What’s that hippie doing? He’s moving one seat closer? Why? This certainly just made this situation more stressful. That balloon is on the move. Gravity has a hold on it. There’s no stopping this from happening. It’s speeding up... The theater lights dim... Here it comes. You try to tense up your stomach to hold it in, but all that does is speed it up. Your brow sweats, you purse your lips, squint and hope for the best as (Boom!) the coming attractions hit the screen so loudly, it’s all anyone can hear.
whatâ€™s the word?
Love where you learn. Love where you live.
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I remember walking into advisory the first day of 9th grade and immediately feeling welcomed by Mr. Dunnan. His happiness is contagious. He’s always concerned about how we’re feeling in and out of school. He cares about us, and I really appreciate his emotional involvement. He’s always smiling and invested in what you’re doing. Mr. Dunnan always has the right answers, and he’s my biggest advocate. He has provided me with so much guidance and leadership. He’s always done his best to keep the entire student as possible and body as happy reduce our stress level. I know I can always go to him for any issues I may have. He’s always willing to start off on the right foot. I love his positive energy. He dedicate this issue to Mr. Dunnan, head of never holds a theWeUpper Mr. School, for his vision and dedication to grudge. the Highliner. Thank you! Dunnan has helped me tremendously and I really appreciate everything he has done for me and others within the Avenues community. He put his heart and soul into this school. He is always kind and compassionate, and continues to make an effort to connect with everyone whether it be a pat on the back or a hug in the morning.