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Isabella Simonetti


Zac Bilmen

Wylie Makovsky

Managing Editor

Samuel Boyce

Jackson Ehrenworth Sophia Koock Ally Witt

Andrew Blum

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Managing Board


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Staff & Contributors

Tallulah Bonay Brandon Bunt

Gia Donovan

Eva Hwang

Ethan Friedman

Lucy Reiss

Blake Eagan














Olivia Miller Cooper Stallings


Daniel Mendel

Founding Faculty

Chris Meatto

Faculty Advisor

Avery Barnes

Founding Faculty

* Cover Art by Brandon Bunt

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The Promise of a New School: The Growing Relationship Between Administrators and Students


anielle Paz has been in and out of schools her entire life, and her decision to attend Avenues was an important one. She knew that the quality of her high school education would play a significant role in her future. But since it was a new school, Paz had to have faith that Avenues would keep the initial promises it made to her. Among these, the most important, was unconditional support from the faculty. Paz recalls a time when she did poorly on a test in 9th grade: “After school one day, I got a test back and noticed that my grade wasn’t what I wanted it to be. The teacher asked me if I thought he was hard on me. I told him he was. He said that he was only hard on me because he thought I wasn’t working hard.” Paz was extremely disappointed by this reaction: “What I needed to succeed in that class was a teacher who would push me in the right ways and be empathetic.” As founders of a new school, Avenues administrators made many promises that years later, it appears they could not keep. Yvette Lopez, a junior at Avenues, also explained her frustrations with the school. “When I first came to Avenues, the academic expectations were high. But I was lacking in a lot of subjects. Immediately, that’s the way teachers judged me. They saw me as someone who did not try hard. I came to Avenues for a fresh start, but instead, they took my initial ability and ran with it.” Avenues students are unique. Like Paz and Lopez, they were willing to take a leap of faith to come to a new school that they thought would help them grow not only as students, but as citizens. One of the first promises made to Avenues students was that the school would impart substantial opportunities for its students to shape their community, as well as their own education. For students and families willing to take the risk of joining a brand-new school, this was a huge selling point. And in many respects, Avenues has lived up to its promise. “The administration has been really great to me,” said sophomore, Justin Levine. Levine believes the administration encourages students to shape Avenues’ culture, and “...they offer a lot of support, but you need to use it right and be resourceful.” On the other hand, Zak Gelfond, a current junior, was thrilled at the prospect of attending a global school, and expected to become well-versed in a variety of languages. “When I first applied, administrators promised that I would be able to take any language I pleased through special programs at NYU,” said Gelfond. “I have been at Avenues for nearly three years, and no such opportunity has presented itself.” Perhaps it is okay that Avenues has broken some of the prom-


ises it made to its students in its early years. As a new school, Avenues has constantly faced unexpected obstacles that interfere with its initial goals. “In life it’s always nice to keep promises,” said Judy Fox, the head of the Upper School. “But when there is a new venture, like a new school, sometimes one’s initial intent has to be modified.” Most students and their families understand what they signed up for, as any “new school of thought” is bound to make changes while paving the way for education in the twenty-first century. What has been less acceptable though, is the lack of transparency between the administrators and the student body, which leaves students feeling left out of important decisions. As pioneers of a cutting-edge school, Avenues’ students have been made to feel it is their job to cultivate a community they are proud of. This promise from administration is what inspired many of us to enroll. Avenues senior Yasemin Smallens, has expressed her frustrations at the reality of this promise. “Students are left out of decisions regarding how they want to craft and focus their studies,” said Smallens. Avenues has placed a premium on math and science by offering advanced courses starting in grade 10. Such courses have not been offered in the humanities. This leaves many students, like Smallens, feeling that they must take a more intensive math and science workload if they want to remain competitive for colleges. “As an institution, Avenues should provide [its] students with the opportunity to focus their studies to their interests without compromising their perceived ‘competitiveness’ for colleges,” said Smallens. The reality is that most students feel their opinions have not been taken into account when the school has undergone major changes. “It’s commonplace knowledge that students have regularly been left out of important decisions that affect their lives,” said junior, Connor Wise. “A school that prides itself on encouraging students to become ‘great leaders when they can be’ should not be denying students the opportunity to become leaders in their community. Leaving students out of crucial decisions on scheduling, CCC rules, and extracurricular activities directly denies us ability for leadership.” Just this year, Avenues students returned to school to find that their schedules had been divided into STEAM and World Weeks. During STEAM weeks, students strictly attend science, math, and art classes, while completing homework for humani-

ties, language, and world courses in the evening. During World weeks, the schedule is flipped. “I was very annoyed,” said Avenues junior Bowen Walder. “I realized that the new schedule would create unbalanced, unequal work periods for students, and cause students to have to recap what they learned in their homework for hours in order to be effective in the classroom discussions and writings.” The new schedule received a variety of different reactions, the most prominent being anger. But students were not angry because of the new schedule. They were angry because they had no say in its creation. Clearly, Avenues students are disappointed with the role their voices play in decision-making. From the beginning, Paz’s experience with teachers left her feeling like she had no voice. “I felt let down,” said Paz. “When I came to Avenues, I really thought everything administrators promised was going to be implemented. But things didn’t work out that way.” Avenues students have thoughts on how to improve their education that have not been taken into consideration. The line of communication between students and administrators is in

need of reform. In return for having their voices heard, Avenues students must accept the difficulties of being members of a new community. Oftentimes, seemingly great ideas can end disastrously. These instances produce anxiety for both students and faculty. In order to alleviate some of the pressure that comes with spearheading a new school, administrators must seek students’ opinions on hot-button issues. At the same time, students need to accept that things will not always work out as planned. “Whenever students come to speak with me about their ideas, I listen,” said Fox. “Student voices are always welcomed and heard.” In order for the Avenues community to grow, administrators and students must understand one another. Avenues must live up to its ideals, and cultivate a productive relationship between administration and students, in which students’ voices are heard and respected. As Paz said, “We [are the ones who] experience the changes that take place [and] we should at least have the opportunity to tell the administration how changes will positively or negatively affect the community.”- Isabella Simonetti


Letters to the Editor Dear Highliner Managing Board,

Dear Isabella, I read The Highliner article “Necessary Conversations” (by Grace Franco and Sophia Koock), along with a handful of others, but this article was very meaningful. It was written in a respectful manner towards everyone, explaining several serious issues concerning the Avenues community. These issues do include drug use/addiction in the Avenues high school, and students who are involved in those activities should find help, but a bigger, overarching problem is students’ reactions towards this type of behavior, along with the spreading of rumors, whether true or false. As the article summed up very well, it is not kind, helpful, or productive to judge or spread rumors about students who have issues with substance abuse; as a community, it is our job to support and care for those who need help. Although I have no personal or firsthand experiences with the issues discussed in this article, I acknowledge that these sorts of ideas are a problem in basically all high schools, including Avenues. “Necessary Conversations” was a well-written, informative piece and reflected The Highliner mission statement very well. The mission statement says that The Highliner should be a forum for student voices, and I believe this article to be a strong example of this — students themselves are writing pieces that reflect well on their school community and environment, contain relevant quotes from teachers, and provide insight into how the community as a whole can support (instead of ostracize) students who need help. Overall, I was very pleased to see that informative articles like these are being published in Avenues’ The Highliner, and I hope articles of this quality continue to be written. I also hope that students, including myself, will put more time into reading The Highliner to appreciate the work that The Highliner’s writers and editors put into the magazine.

Best, Sam Boyce

As I absorb the articles written by my fellow classmates, I am genuinely intrigued by the content chosen. Before reading the magazine, my expectation was quite different. I was expecting articles dedicated to politics and world news, but was pleasantly surprised to see articles composed about social media, daily school life, and even the best coffee shops around. However, even as the writing was superb, the artwork and photography is what stood out to me. The cover page displaying a freshman and and senior immediately pulled me in to the loop of gorgeous pictures. Ever since the beginning of school, seniors have made it clear that they are the top of the hierarchy, which is perfectly understandable. Due to this, I was expecting the cover to be of the senior class, or maybe just two seniors. By having a senior with a freshman, it reassures the sense of community I felt the school had been lacking. The pictures within the magazine felt natural and un-staged, something atypical of most standard magazines. On page 49, a group of students stand, looking as if they are waiting for something; they look as if a picture being taken was not something they were anticipating. This truly captures what the daily life at Avenues looks like. Students don’t sit with their legs crossed with perfect posture, or stand in neat arrays. In reality, Avenues is an organized chaos, which is expressed within this picture. Overall, I think this magazine exemplifies that a picture is worth a thousand words. The smiles, poses, and cumulative happiness can’t possibly be described with a few words. These photographs coupled with the also artistic writing makes for an enjoyable read.

Excited for the next edition, Sophia Shapiro

To Alice Giuffredi, In response to your question, feeling alienated and alone may be in our head, but it is there because an event caused it, making it something very real. Though I was not present for the Hispanic Heritage Assembly, I am deeply moved that Avenues held such an important meeting. I, myself, am Hispanic and struggle with various cultural identities. Half of my family is from the Dominican Republic, while the other half identifies as Puerto Rican. That itself is enough of a cultural struggle. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans have been known to despise each other, so being a mixture of the two makes me quite the unwanted child at family reunions. I have always struggled when speaking of where I am from. Before coming to Avenues, I went to a small school in the middle of Williamsburg that was predominantly Hispanic, more specifically Dominican, so I identified as Dominican — hiding the Puerto Rican side. While this pained me, I knew it was for the best. No one wanted to be known as that one Puerto Rican kid. However, I was soon thrown quite out of my comfort zone when I transferred here. Avenues is a predominantly white school, and while I knew that in the world I was a minority, I was never so aware of that until coming here. I had always been called a gringa at my old school, but I never expected to become the one representation of a culture that saw me as foreign. It’s hard being one of the few Latinas in the 9th grade, as if having to face the stereotypes as a group is enough, it’s even worse alone. I remember, quite keenly, the trip 9th and 10th grade took to El Museo Del Barrio. I remember being looked at by the tour guide and even being called out to answer the questions he asked. I knew some of the answers but I remember thinking to myself, why would I even be here if I knew all of the answers to the questions you’re asking? I am here to learn, not teach. As one can imagine, it’s hard being the teacher, and I don’t mean in a history-class kind of way. History is constant, it’s in the books, but people change; people vary. Misunderstandings are hard, but they can leave one feeling alone, and well, misunderstood.

Sincerely, Apryl Adames

The mission of The Highliner is to provide a forum of expression for student voices in the Avenues Upper School community. 8


Lucas Ward senior dumplings that they have sometimes, “ IandlikeI the like when they have various meats — like

the ribs, I like the ribs. And then they had mussels once. That was pretty good. I like the lobster mac and cheese. That was pretty good. How do I feel about food? I like food. I enjoy eating food that is particularly, like, tasty. Except when it’s mushy.


he food system at Avenues is something that is mysterious to many students. Julie Clarke, the head of the FOOD program at Avenues, is in charge of managing the complexities of executing meals efficiently for a school with hundreds of students and faculty members. Nearly 1775 people are served five meals per week. Avenues uses a program called “Trim Tracks,” which records the amount of waste, leftovers, or burnt or inedible scraps, produced each day. To do this, the kitchen staff are equipped with a twenty quart bucket where they put all of these leftovers and scraps. “Trim Tracks” helps the kitchen staff plan for future meals by recording data about past meals served. They can see how much food is left over after each meal and adjust accordingly when planning future meals. The Avenues FOOD program also records what meals are most and least popular. However, when creating the lunch menu, Ms. Clarke must also take into ac-


count the amount of waste that each type of meal creates. Although the goal is for the last group of students at lunch to be provided with the same options as the first, creating a copious amount of waste is not ideal. Ms. Clarke tries to prevent waste in many ways. “Leftovers are not necessarily waste — my whole philosophy is total utilization. If you made too much sliced chicken for that day, you have to say, OK what can I make with this for the next day that will be a quality product that doesn’t really look like a leftover. Twenty pounds of leftover chicken... perfect — ­ chicken noodle soup,” said Ms. Clarke. To try and reduce waste, the menu changes monthly, and the kitchen staff is constantly keeping records of their food production. Another guideline for the kitchen staff is to serve students only one spoonful, using certain utensils with precise amounts. “It is supposed to be all you can eat, but not all you can eat on one plate. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach and then

half the food goes in the garbage. Go, sit down, eat, relax, come back for more if you are still hungry,” said Ms. Clarke. Culturally, it is hard to do this because some students are used to taking large portions at home. However, Ms. Clark believes that as well as avoiding waste, being mindful of what you eat teaches you to respect the values of community. Ms. Clarke also has the difficult responsibility of trying to appeal to many different tastes and preferences, which can be time consuming. For example, for two hours everyday, a staff member just cuts fruit so that there is always that healthy and popular option. Even then, some of the foods served are controversial. The current topic of debate centers around the availability of juice. “It’s about what people want, what the kids want, what the parents want, what teachers want and what the administration wants,” said Ms. Clarke. “I get a lot of input, and I have to decipher it in order to make positive changes.” •

sophomore tortellini “ IbutlikeI don’t know why.

Parker Jay-Pachirat junior favorite food is cranberries — the “ My dried ones over there. Cranberries ARE

food. And then basil is my other favorite food, sometimes it’s on the tomatoes.




an an Avenues student truly achieve total mastery of time per day should prove beneficial to the Avenues community writing through a new, innovative writing program? and further academic skills. This year, Avenues has adopted a new section into But in a recent survey polling the upper school students’ reacthe schedule each morning. High Intensity Practice tion to HIP Writing, roughly 60 percent of students responded Writing, otherwise known as “HIP Writing,” is a 45-minute pro- that they do not like the program. Many students would prefer gram that students attend from 8:45-9:30 am. this time be used for an independent study, which would help The intention of the program is to foster student development offset some of the pressures for high grades, and provide needed in writing, with the ultimate goal of achieving mastery. breathing room in their already busy schedules. “A ceramics instructor once divided his class into two: one Sophomore Justin Levine responded, “It often feels like a group was assessed based on waste of time.” the weight and number of Both the head of the pro“WHILE THEORETICALLY THE pots they produced,” said Todd gram and upper school stuPROGRAM MARKETS ITSELF AS Shy, the curriculum specialist dents were asked what actions FOOLPROOF IN IMPROVING for HIP Writing. “The other could be made to improve HIP was assessed on the quality STUDENTS’ COMMAND OF A MAJOR Writing. While Mr. Shy has of a single pot. The instrucfocused his attention more SUBJECT, WHAT CONSTITUTES tor found that the best pots in on extending the program, MASTERY IN A CERTAIN SUBJECT the end — the highest quality the students’ thoughts ranged FIELD IS SUBJECTIVE.” pots — came from the group from removing HIP periods that made a lot of them.” altogether to having a period In this way, the aim of HIP Writing is to push students to where they could work on writing from their classes. write as many pieces as possible to become more comfortable Students also voiced that it could be beneficial to have HIP with creative writing and responding to prompts under a time Writing at a different time in the day, as many feel it hard to constraint. focus immediately after one arrives at school. Other suggestions In Outliers, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell proposes a included incorporating current events into prompts which might theory that 10,000 hours of practicing a skill or action is neces- make students more passionate and inspired to write. sary to achieve mastery. Gladwell’s argument is currently being While theoretically the program markets itself as foolproof put to the test with HIP. in improving students’ command of a major subject, what conMr. Shy said that such vigorous practice is “important for stu- stitutes mastery in a certain subject field is subjective. No one dents to leave school with flexible, creative minds.” person has the exact same definition of mastery. Students attend HIP Writing three out of every ten days, Mr. Shy believes that the program’s main focus is the progresand they do not receive grades on their work. The thought is that sion of a student’s work individually. “We expect growth for each without grades, feedback can be more constructive. This pro- student in both fluency and confidence,” said Mr. Shy. “We plan motes a form of risk-taking. In theory, 45 minutes of writing to develop benchmarks in the future.”


One sophomore, Kavin Chada, commented that, “It seems However, some students feel that they are not receiving any really great right now, the only thing I want is a little more time. constructive feedback, thus impeding mastery. Eliana Ben-Dov, a junior, responded, “I feel like it’s a bit of a Maybe less talking, more writing.” Furthermore, as the prowaste of time if we just work gram progresses and builds but get nothing in return “...AS THE PROGRAM sturdier foundations, a that helps us understand why or how we were wrong, or PROGRESSES AND BUILDS MORE STUDY school culture anchored by FOUNDATIONS, THE SCHOOL CULTURE HIP Writing will too. how we can do it better, etc.” “One of the things we Although the introducAND APPRECIATION OF COMMUNITY hope HIP will do is build a tion of HIP Writing to the ESTABLISHMENT OF SUCH A PROGRAM community around writing upper school has met mixed WILL HOPEFULLY GROW WITH IT.” at the school,” said Mr. Shy. reviews and marked a signifi“Imagine how interesting — cant change to the daily lives of students, the idea of having a creative outlet for students to and instructive — it will be to see how students in Brazil or Chiexpress themselves without fear of a grade should prove to be a na think differently about an idea — or the same! — as students beneficial practice moving forward. at the New York campus.” •


Teacher Feature: Ms. Melore BY EVA HWANG AND GRACE FRANCO After making time for us to meet during our lunch period, we gathered at Ms. Melore’s hallowed desk on the 8th floor. She greeted us with her signature smile and cheerful attitude and as we sat across from her, she moved out of her cubicle to a closer seat. Have you girls eaten yet?” She asked maternally. “I know this is your lunch period. You should go down.” Interviewer How did you come to Avenues? Melore I worked at a gifted public school and one of my teacher colleagues was working in the Avenues ELC department. From there, I ended up coming here as well. Interviewer What’s your daily routine? Melore Well, I arrive here and talk to Ms. Fox about the day’s plans.

What is it like managing snack and attendance every day?

Then, I’ll respond to parents, tend to sick kids, and then I have meetings with different committees. But I like my schedule busy or what’s the point of going to work? Interviewer How is your ‘snack’ experience? Melore I like snack time and everyone likes to chat. Because I have so many kids at home, I’m used to the hecticness and noise. Interviewer

Melore Snack is easy and people are friendly. But attendance is tough; we need an attendance system improvement. We were discussing a possible cell phone badge, because kids always seem to forget their IDs but they always have their cell phones.

Interviewer What do you think makes Avenues students different from others? Melore I think their willingness to learn especially, with taking on a new language. They always seem willing to step outside of their comfort zone in order to learn.

Interviewer What’s your favorite snack (if you are able to have any)?

Interviewer What is your favorite part of your job?

Melore I don’t actually usually eat snacks. But I love to watch people’s reactions to different snacks. I think the students really love banana bread, and chips, and occasionally we have chocolate covered pretzels which I think were really popular. As for snacks they don’t like, definitely Fig Newtons — I always hear a groan. Or cereal like cheerios, that doesn’t seem to be that popular.

Melore Interacting and helping the kids with everything Interviewer Do you consider Avenues to be a part of your family?

Interviewer How many people do you think come to you every day for chats? Do you have any regulars?

Melore I would definitely consider Avenues to be very close to me and even a part of my family. In fact, I actually had my one of my daughter’s bat mitzvah and my other daughter’s sweet 16 here at Avenues.

Melore It is the best part of my day. Between 20 and 30 kids come a day to have a chat, and I definitely have regulars!

Interviewer What about your background do you think could have influenced your interest in this job in particular?

Interviewer What is your favorite part about Avenues?

Melore I have a degree in psychology and graduate credits in special education. Also, I was a stay at home mom with each of my children in different schools and I was always greatly involved in all of their schools.

The kids, without a doubt.




Interviewer What do find most interesting about Avenues?

Interviewer What advice do you have for Avenues students?

Melore Well, they are so many different things. I think it’s really interesting that they go from nursery to 12th grade. Also, there are so many different ways for the students to learn and the fact that you can and are encouraged to be bilingual is incredible.

Melore It is important not to focus on the grades or the college, but getting happier and appreciating experiences. Just try to be your best self and don’t compare your own situation to what is going on with your friends.•





here are only two significant references to racial, sor Scott Page revealed that diverse groups, compared to groups socioeconomic, and cultural diversity on the highly with members that come from similar backgrounds, are more designed Avenues website. The first reference dis- creative and productive. Additionally, McKinsey & Company, a cusses socioeconomic diversity with the promise of management consulting firm, came to the conclusion that comfinancial aid. Briefly, it describes cultural diversity, which, it says, panies that have diverse executive boards have consistently higher will come inherently as Avenues expands profits. into different parts of the world. The second “...STUDENTS OF COLOR COMPRISE Besides havsearch result reiterates the first. ing efficiency and ONLY 29 PERCENT OF THE STUDENT Alan Greenberg, the President of AveBODY OF AVENUES, AND ONLY 12 financial success, nues, says that diversity at Avenues will be PERCENT OF STUDENTS RECEIVE there is a more natural since Avenues, “will be a magnet for intimate experiFINANCIAL AID.” students from all over the world.” ence that being in This is an admirable sentiment. In its misa diverse commusion statement, Avenues says that it will “advance education by nity can supply one with. setting an example as an effective, diverse and accountable school; At Avenues, the Harkness method, in which students lead by continuously investing in ways to become better at what we their own learning through discussion, is heavily stressed and do.” Though Avenues administrators may say that in earnest, used in almost all classes. Specifically in humanities classes, Avenues is not teachers endeavor to sculpt a curriculum that living up to its “BESIDES HAVING EFFICIENCY AND tries to explore narratives that are usually left promise. CurFINANCIAL SUCCESS, THERE IS A out of traditional English and History classes. rently, students The historically controversial topics that are MORE INTIMATE EXPERIENCE THAT of color comcovered in those classes, however, are only BEING IN A DIVERSE COMMUNITY spoken about in a fairly homogenous group. prise only 29 CAN SUPPLY ONE WITH.” percent of the “If everyone comes from a similar backstudent body of ground, there is little room for a new viewAvenues, and only 12 percent of students receive financial aid. point that has never been heard to come about,” said Brandon There have been several studies that have highlighted the Bunt, a sophomore at Avenues. “When we are exposed to other advantages of learning and working with people from different people who are very different from ourselves, I view the differbackgrounds. A recent study by University of Michigan profes- ence in perspective as an opportunity to learn something we are


not accustomed to.” beginning of the discussions that Avenues students and faculty An essential part of Harkness is being openminded. Everyday, must have. Avenues students are taught and encouraged to reevaluate their Jules Franco and Yasemin Smallens, seniors and co-leaders of stances on topics, and even change their viewpoint in discussion. the Awareness Day Committee, have suggested the addition of However, this can be difficult to do, especially when many of a diversity office to the Administration at the beginning of the those participating in the discussion come from similar racial and next school year. socioeconomic backgrounds. “A diversity office [would] work with Admissions to make sure Avenues is not holding itself to the high standard its founders that the value of an applicant’s diverse experiences and how such set for it: it is not a diverse school. If Avenues is not living up perspectives will benefit the community are considered,” said to its mission statement now, Franco. “Additionally, a diverwhile it is still a new institution, sity office [would] partner with “...AVENUES IS NOT HOLDING then what will happen in the ITSELF TO THE HIGH STANDARD ITS the faculty and administration coming years? to make sure that the curricFOUNDERS SET FOR IT: IT IS NOT A In order to be a successful ulum represents the diversity DIVERSE SCHOOL.” international school that inof the world at large, and also cludes people from all walks of [would] provide training on life, Avenues must recognize that it cannot rest on its plan to how to talk to students and other adults about tough topics like have a global campus. It needs to challenge itself to become a racism, sexism, and homophobia.” more diverse learning environment, even before the international In whichever iteration is most suitable, a diversity office would campuses are created. be a division of Avenues that would benefit the whole institution. There have been some steps to diversify Avenues and allow for While having a diversity office is not the only step that should be a dialogue to begin. For example, the Awareness Day Commit- taken to diversify Avenues, and shouldn’t relieve teachers of their tee, which plans an annual day dedicated to discussing systemic duties to integrate diverse narratives into their curriculum, it is a societal issues such as white privilege and gender inequity, holds step in the right direction. roundtables at which students discuss issues surrounding race, By implementing a group of people who are dedicated to makgender, class, and privilege. ing Avenues a more open and socially aware environment, they There is also the Diaspora Club, which students can join will promote diversity and ingrain it in our school culture unlike to gather and speak about race, socioeconomic inequity and dis- any other effort has so far. • crimination. However, these opportunities should only mark the


Dennis Betanco, Restore Cafe Supervisor BY WYLIE MAKOVSKY


ennis Betanco is a favorite of the Avenues community. He is the supervisor of the ‘Restore’ Cafe, and after a hectic morning of serving Avenues parents, Dennis turns an open ear to the many trials and tribulations of the Avenues Upper School. Many of you know Dennis from a trip to the Cafe when he gave you an understanding smile and word of advice with your coffee. What you might not know is that he is an avid basketball player, he loves trying new restaurants, and most importantly, he is passionate about helping others. I was lucky enough to take Dennis aside and ask him a few questions about his life and his impression of Avenues.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself ? What’s life like outside of Avenues? Well, I was born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx. My family is from Guatemala and Nicaragua, so living there hasn’t been easy. Because my parents were immigrants, anytime we got robbed or threatened by others, we could not say anything cause we were afraid the cops would send them back to the motherland. Fortunately for us, we stood strong in our morals and always put God first, and he has been nothing but liberating. However, life outside of Avenues has been challenging. It hurts me to say that getting a well-paying job, or even a fair job, is hard to come across not knowing anyone. It’s who you know that will define your true moment of opportunity. What led you to Avenues? What was it like getting started here? It’s funny how I got to Avenues. I had just graduated from La Salle Academy, and my mom and dad needed help paying the bills. We were struggling a lot. My parents never asked me to work because they always wanted me to focus on school. Still, there was no money for school books, metrocard, food—the little things people take for granted. My friend told me about a place in the city that was hiring people. I had no idea what kind of job was it, nothing. I go to Avenues and the front desk asked me who I was there for. I had no clue, and all I had was a resume in my hand. I just said the name “Julie,” not knowing who she was, and then security took me to the 3rd floor and I sat and waited there. I was nervous to the bone not knowing what to expect, and I began to pray. Eventually, I met Julie and she says to me “are you the one that has been emailing me ?” I said “no, but my name is Dennis.” I handed her my resume, and she hired me on the spot. Getting started at Avenues was a major change for me but like most people I just adapted to my environment, knowing I had no choice but to help my family and myself. I had the mentality of survival of the fittest, and that kept me afloat. Tell us about your job. What are your various roles and responsibilities?

This is my fourth year at Avenues. The first year I worked in the cellar, and slowly but surely I was a hard worker, so they gave me the option to choose where I wanted to work. I said let’s try the 3rd floor, where all the food is cooked. Did I like it? No, but I did love the environment that Avenues provided. Everything from the building itself, to the altruistic students, the staff, and even some of the faculty. Then someone got fired in the cafe, so I had to cover it. My managers liked the way I operated it, so they kept


me there and I enjoyed being there. I wake up at 4 a.m. every day to be at Avenues at 5:30. From there, I had to start making coffee make sure that the pastries were being made and everything was stocked and ready to go by 7:30 a.m. Although it sounds easy, it’s not: there’s always, and I mean always, something going wrong. But overall, I enjoyed it because I got to meet a very special group of people that never judged me and saw me as one of their own, and that is the Upper School. I enjoyed their company in the cafe and they enjoyed mine. If you ask me would you change anything? I wouldn’t have it any other way. From your observations while working in the cafe, what do you think about the Avenues Upper Schoolers with regard to how they treat each other?

Well, first and foremost, I think that they are a great group of kids. Um, how they treat each other? I’ve seen some stuff and I’ve seen, you know, great camaraderie within the student body. I think they’re a very diverse group in the sense that their culture, principles, and morality…like, there are a lot of kids who are very very humble, and I notice that, I notice all of the humble kids. There are certain cliques and groups…of course you are going to have the kids who, you know, feel privileged. Although these kids can be somewhat misguided because some of them think they are better than each other—and they sometimes go around and belittle each other for whatever reason—some kids honestly don’t care and treat everyone with respect. But, I mean, as far as how people treat each other goes, life is a learning process, and everyone is going be around people who treat them with respect, and people who don’t, for the rest of their lives.

Have you noticed any divisions between certain types of people or among grade levels? You know, this happens everywhere: school, outside of school, and at home with your family. Overall, I think that compared to any other school, the way people treat each other at Avenues is not a problem. Kids here genuinely care for each other, and their cliques are just the people they feel most comfortable around and where they have people they can open up to. For example, you and I: I feel comfortable talking to you right now, just like I do with a few other kids. I think naturally there will be divisions because of age differences and they way each age thinks. But, I feel that overall the upperclassmen do a good job of unintentionally mentoring the underclassmen: whether it’s on the basketball team, where the Varsity players will support JV at games, or it’s older kids seem to uplift the younger ones in general by being good to one another, there is a good community. Have you noticed any divisions between certain types of people or among grade levels? I always see faculty members and Lower or Upper School parents when they come to the cafe, and they always ask, “Oh how are the upper schoolers?” or “Are they rude?” And it is surprising because everyone seems to think they’re rude based the things they’ve seen or experienced. Then when I tell them, “No, they’re great, they’re a great group of kids, they are so respectful. Of course you’re going to have a couple knuckleheads, but this is high school and you’re going to have to deal with that anywhere.” They will say “wow,” and they act so surprised. They ask me, “really? are they really that good to you?” and I’ll tell them, “yeah, they are a loving crowd that is very accepting of different people and it has been an honor to just work with them and work for them.” So Dennis, sadly you are leaving Avenues this week. Is there any advice you would like to leave us with? Well, I wish the best of luck to everyone, and like we say in the Bronx, “just keep it one hundred.” Just be real and be true to yourself. Don’t worry about what everybody thinks. Be your own person, it’s your life; you’re going to have haters, and you’re going to have people who support you… and that’s just life. I feel like Avenues is one of those places where you can just build one another up to be a truly global citizen, as is its mission. Overall, just stay true.•



Achieving the Avenues Aesthetic

+ Leather Jacket The most needed item in your closet — besides the black jean — is a black leather jacket. Leather jackets are perfect for in-between weather, days that are not too hot but not too cold. While the leather jacket is a must-have look, many feel conflicted about contributing to the cruelty of the leather industry. If ethics factor in to your wardrobe decisions, I recommend investing in a leather jacket that was manufactured from plant fibres (the feel is even softer than REAL leather!). The leather texture insulates your body, while the thinness of the material ensures you never feel overheated. A leather jacket is a versatile piece of clothing that can be worn throughout every school season: fall, winter, and spring.


Building a sophisticated wardrobe that fits your school’s dress-code policies can be difficult, especially when elaborate patterns and colors are off limits. People are distressed by the narrow clothing palette Avenues allows its students. But, since when did black and white become a bad thing? Many highly recognized fashion designers have evolved their clothing into being monochrome. And quite frankly, the amount of black, white, and grey clothing in your closet gives you the ability to look clean-cut, effortlessly. Here are some go-to items needed to create the black and white aesthetic Avenues requires students to abide by.

+ Black Jeans

+ White Tees

This is a given. One cannot complete a monochrome look without the simplicity of the black jean. Black jeans are the ultimate staple behind achieving the Avenues uniform. Black “skinny-fitting” jeans as well as slightly distressed and ripped oversized jeans, should be worn in variation. For guys who also dread the Lands End loose fitting dress pant, look towards more simple fitting jeans — not too tight, not too loose — such as by Zara Men or Uniqlo. They work best with laid-back grey/black sweatshirts or can be “prepped up” with fitted sweaters.

Buttoning up a polo every single day can be tiring. The best item to throw on last minute for a seamless yet easy look, is a white t-shirt. A t-shirt that is simply white, with no extra additions, will do the trick. But sometimes, it’s good to mix it up and invest in white t-shirts with pockets, small rips, or embroidery. Small embellishments can make an ordinary t-shirt a signature piece. When you have to stick to a strict monochromatic dresscode like Avenues’, you should keep more than a few tees stocked in your closet for a casual look that goes with anything.

+ Boots Finding the perfect pair of boots can be more challenging than one might think. As Avenues students and New Yorkers, we tend to walk a handful of miles each day; whether it be to the subway station, up the white painted staircases, or even to and from classrooms. Many people struggle finding boots that are both comfortable and attractive. Start by finding the perfect ankle boot. Ankle boots can be thrown on last minute, yet always leave you looking well put-together. For extra comfort, aim for a smaller heel. Once you have invested in this staple, you can branch out to other variations, whether it be the mid calf, knee high, or even below-the-ankle boot.


+ Chunky Cable Knits New York City’s weather, as most of you are aware of, immediately switches from scalding heat to brisk foggy winters. During these winters, Avenues’ classrooms and stairwells tend to maintain chillier temperatures. Personally, I find it hard to focus on my academics when I am cold. Bringing/throwing on a simple chunky cable knit sweater not only gives a winter feel to your outfit, but supplies warmth and looks perfect when layered with dark wash jeans.

+ Sneakers Sneakers can help complete a perfect look. Not your typical “tennis shoes” of course, but the light, supportive shoes that match almost any outfit combination. Picking the color of your sneakers is where the dress code allows you to be more creative. You can aim to find a pair that abides to your monochrome look or make your shoes the statement of your outfit. Many students are seen wearing sneakers with gold and silver material patches, or even neon soles.


Follow The Highliner on At the heart of journalism lives an open mind and a critical eye. Empathize, inquire, and communicate in today’s Awareness Day workshops and discussions; in other words, give yourself a chance to learn and to teach. Our publication’s primary goals are to provide a platform for student expression and to facilitate thoughtful discourse within the Avenues community. Accordingly, we invite you to submit any pieces you may write reflecting on today -- and on further discussions in the community -- to Lastly, kudos and thank you to the students, faculty, and invited speakers who have worked tirelessly to organize this event! #avenuesnyc #thehighliner

Avenues: The World School

As high school students, we are tasked with balancing our obligations and passions. Sometimes we neglect our passions altogether; other times, we begin to fulfill our potentials. Last week, Avenues senior Tyler Pasko (#24, pictured) scored his 1000th point for the boys’ varsity basketball team. Congratulations, Tyler! May all Avenues students find and pursue their passions as you have. #avenuesnyc #thehighliner

Meet Geoffrey! He’s a senior at Avenues and was seen sporting black snow boots for the storm last week. Great way to make the Avenues uniform look effortlessly chic and convenient for the snow. #avenuesnyc #thehighliner

stay connected

This past weekend, Winter Storm Jonas (Nick, Joe, and even Kevin!) blanketed NYC with a near-record 27” snowfall. The spikes in hot cocoa consumption and beautiful photos -- as well as road closures and public transportation delays -- came as a surprise in what has so far been a mild winter. Stay warm and dry in the slushy days to come! #thehighliner #avenuesnyc #stormjonas


新年快乐!Today, millions around the world — from Wong Tai Sin temple in Hong Kong to Trafalgar Square in London, from Di Tan Park in Beijing to Chinatown in our very own New York — celebrated in bright red and gold the Chinese New Year. May the year of the monkey be filled with prosperity and happiness for all! Stay tuned this week for more on the Chinese New Year at Avenues. #avenuesnyc #thehighliner


Recently, on Saturday, February 27, Avenues welcomed more than 200 visitors attending Design For Impact, or D4i, a student-organized conference aimed at promoting designdriven social impact work in K-12 education. The conference brought together educators, students, and professionals in a day filled with learning and doing. Co-founder and UX Lead Connor Wise ‘17 reflects on his experience organizing the conference: “It’s not common to see a group of students take on a project as large as D4i, and it really has been a privilege to be part of such an amazing team. D4i just goes to show you what passionate students can do if given the time and the space.” Tomorrow, Connor Wise and fellow leads Sophie Potter 16’, Ella Weinstein ‘16, Christina Kopecka ‘17, and Luca Leung ‘17, as well as Ivan Cestero, the director of the Social Innovation Program at Avenues, will be leading a summit at SXSWedu, one of the nation’s leading education conferences, in Austin. The Highliner and the rest of the Avenues community are extremely proud of the student leads’ hard work and wish them the best of luck tomorrow! Tune in later this week for more about D4i at SXSWedu. #thehighliner #avenuesnyc

Words of wisdom to keep in mind this week. Remember there's a long weekend around the corner! #avenuesnyc #thehighliner #presidentsdayweekend

Winter sports are over and spring has sprung in the Athletics department (and the gym, pictured, is bustling)! Support your track, golf, crew, tennis, and baseball teams this season, and check out @ avenuesathletics for more updates #thehighliner #avenuesnyc


Hudson Guild

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most rewarding part about working with the Hudson Guild is that we “ The have built deep relationships with the local community which is not only

good for Avenues, but it feels good to give back and to make these types of connections.

Oren Schweitzer



This Spring, Join the Avenues Birding Club

With weekly visits to The Highline and Central Park, The Avenues Birding Club is eager to get outdoors and explore the winged wildlife of NYC. Students interested in joining need only a pair of binoculars and thirst for exploration and learning. For more information, please email Ms. Tingley or Mr. Mendel.

Expeditions are once-a-week on school days and start promptly at 7 am. Early birds are encouraged to apply!





hen the new schedule was announced last year, it plied with a shrug and a laugh. An additional challenge has been adapting to students with was met with an array of opinions. While some were suspicious of the alternating “on-” and “off-weeks,” an involved extra-curricular schedule. Many teachers have found the new schedule presented an opportunity to learn to adapt. themselves frustrated with the lack of knowledge about sports In theory, “on-weeks” (in-class time) would be used to culti- games, theater performances, and other activities that conflict vate knowledge gained during “off-weeks” (homework time), with their classes. This illuminates a problematic flaw in the line of communicaand vice versa. This switching would permit deep-dives into content and improve students’ long term memories. In execu- tion between students, administrators, and faculty. Uninformed tion, however, this type of scheduling has not proven beneficial. teachers struggle to understand the lives of their busy students. Take, for example, Another touted advantage of the “on-week/ “THIS SWITCHING WOULD PERMIT DEEP-DIVES junior Nikaila Saunders, off-week” system is the INTO CONTENT AND IMPROVE STUDENTS’ who participates on the opportunity for students girls’ Varsity Volleyball LONG-TERM MEMORIES. IN EXECUTION, to learn how to schedteam and Basketball HOWEVER, THIS TYPE OF SCHEDULING HAS team. ule their own time. I.e. if all homework is due on “We want Avenues to NOT PROVEN BENEFICIAL.” Monday, it is up to stube this academic school,” dents to decide when to complete it. she said, “but athletic reputation is important; no one wants to be However, in order to create check points and make sure all stu- the school with the trash team.” The sports teams put in morning and evening practices, leaving dents are up-to-date, some teachers began having semi-weekly and daily assignments due. As the year progressed, this became them little time for homework. On a normal game night, a player can get home anywhere between seven and nine. more common practice for teachers. One might be asking, “Why is this problematic if all the While many students feel this is not what was proposed last year, it seems there is no consistent policy for homework, and if homework is due at the same time?” But that’s exactly the problem— for some classes, it isn’t. there is, they are largely unaware. There seem to be inconsistencies in what time an assignDuring an off-week, how much homework can a teacher assign per night? Are teachers allowed to assign daily assignments? ment can be due. For some teachers, they like their homework When I asked Mr. Wang, the 11/12 World cohort leader, if to be turned in at 8:00am so students can have a little time in there was a homework standard teachers had to abide by, he re- the morning to finalize their work. Other teachers want their


homework due at 10:00pm so students aren’t staying up all night enjoy their other responsibilities. But, it is based on the quality of the communication that the student initiates.” doing homework. To adapt to this new schedule, the Athletics office has creFor students, keeping track of these varying times can be incredibly stressful, especially when you don’t get home until well ated the new position of Academic Advisor to act as a voice for student athletes. Mr. Misler just began as an advisor for the boy’s after seven. Connor Wise is one of the many students who lives outside Varsity basketball team. “I think [this] is important of the city. His commute often gets him home around 6pm, “THERE SEEM TO BE INCONSISTENCIES to recognize,” said Mr. Misler, “to help all students engage and that’s only if he doesn’t have any extracurriculars. He IN WHAT TIME AN ASSIGNMENT CAN BE in extracurriculars, to balance also pointed to the inconsist- DUE. FOR SOME TEACHERS, THEY LIKE their extra-curricular comencies between the two weeks. THEIR HOMEWORK TO BE TURNED IN mitments with their academic “For me,” said Connor, And, I think AT 8:00 AM .... OTHER TEACHERS WANT commitments. “during my STEAM week, my that’s how I see my role as an classes are generally a bit easier. THEIR HOMEWORK DUE AT 10:00 PM” academic advisor. I can hopeHowever, I have more classes, fully support the teachers in which makes the day a little more stressful. Also, lunch ends ear- making communication between the teachers and the athletic lier so we have less down time. That’s also when I have World department more productive.” week homework, which [takes] much longer and is harder than When a student is trying to schedule homework around extracurriculars, it is up to each student to accommodate each teacher. my STEAM week homework.” The confusion over homework is not exclusive to students. It It’s a challenging system. If there were a consistent policy at least among the cohorts, the is the teachers themselves who have to stand in front of a classroom of groggy teenagers who stayed up all night doing the other students could initiate a grounded conversation. Moving forward, students and teachers alike should lead the cohort’s homework. Across cohorts, there seems to be a lack of conversation be- charge together in creating policies that benefit all of the parties involved. This is especially true as the upper school adapts to a tween teachers of different disciplines. When asked about his policy on extensions, Mr. Inaltong said new Dean system next year. Open communication between students and teachers must that “as long as it is communicated with me, it is okay. I think I am trying to accommodate my best so they [the students] can become a necessity. •


Political Views & Avenues The implications of “welcome, safety, and respect.” BY DIDLANE PIERRE


s Avenues students, it is hypocritical to support presidential candidates that do not agree with the school’s mission statement: “Welcome, Safety, and Respect.” Certain Republican presidential candidates (I.e. Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and the infamous Donald Trump) are fully supportive of ending birthright citizenship and/or enforcing harsh immigration laws. To kick people out of our country is the exact opposite of making them feel welcome. When people are without a state, who will be there to protect them? What kind of respect are we showing by only entitling ourselves to these benefits and opportunities? It seems at odds with what the country stands for. The Republican candidates justify restrictive citizenship laws and harsh immigration policies by touting a need for greater domestic control. Essentially, their argument is that there is not enough space. They want to limit opportunities for immigrants so that citizens can reap the benefits of our country. Benefits such as more jobs and more money. These political candidates have a campaign promise or goal to reform or put in laws that change what the fourteenth amendment stands for today. The fourteenth amendment tells the people of the world that when you are born on American soil or jurisdiction, you are thereby a citizen; with the exception of foreign diplomats and other foreign political people. This amendment seems to be the spotlight of political discussion because it can be interpreted in various ways. Singleminded people see the amendment as a passageway only for families who have been living in the United States of America for many generations and their relatives in other countries. They do not believe other people should be able to come in. Everyday people claim that these immigrants steal jobs and are a nuisance to society. These “people” speak barely any English, have scarce connections with people in the country, and are able to take a job from someone who has been here for decades. Republican candidates say their political arguments and their plans to revert the fourteenth amendment come from the weakness of the Mexican border, and the costs and maintenance of all immigrants. Donald Trump of course, has the most to say on the topic. “It is a scandal when America cannot control its own borders. A liberal policy of immigration may seem to reflect confidence and generosity. But our current laxness toward … immigration shows a recklessness and disregard for those who live here legally,” said Trump. “I’m opposed to new people coming in … We have to take care of the people who are here.”


When reading his words closely, it is clear to see that Donald Trump has a distaste for new people, new ideas, and diversity coming into this country. In a survey conducted with 50 Avenues students, ranging from freshman to seniors, 64 percent come from a family of immigrants. I am one of those children whose parents came from another country. Our parents came here to gain a better life and better opportunities, not only for themselves, but for their future generations. Other families want the same thing, however, some may not have had the chance to move here legally. Immigrants often come from dire situations. When Trump says that Mexico only brings in rapists, criminals, and drugdealers, he neglects the masses of immigrants who are running away from unsafe homelands — well-intentioned immigrants. Mexico is currently suffering from immense crime. With the drug cartels pushing through most of the country, many families are fleeing in hopes of a better life. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and other republican candidates, throw around the term “anchor babies” to describe the children that have gained citizenship and are helping their parents stay in the country. They “anchor” their parents to the country. There are roughly 400,000 anchor babies in the United States. Many who feel at odds with the current state of illegal immigrants in the US do not fully recognize the fourteenth amendment, and see these children, who are in fact American citizens, as illegals. Anchor babies are born into a world that is trying to push them out. By reforming the fourteenth amendment or adding in laws that limit its power, these anchor babies and their parents would be left stateless. Many immigrants have been pushed out of their countries without the option of return. Where will the stateless go if they cannot return? When a family is made stateless, not only do they lose a home, they are subject to arbitrary detention, arrests with no rights, and can live a life that is inhumane and cruel. “Stateless people have no legal protection and no right to vote, and they often lack access to education, employment, health care, registration of birth, marriage or death, and property rights. Stateless people may also encounter heightened vulnerability to sexual and physical violence, exploitation, trafficking in persons, forcible displacement, and other abuses.” (“Statelessness.” U.S. Department of State). Imagine bringing your unborn child to a place with the intention of giving them the best life possible, only to find that said country intends to remove you from their soil. It is a


country’s responsibility to ensure that their borders be secure from hostile people to protect its citizens. However, it is also a country’s responsibility to see the grim and hopeless situations that people are coming from and accept them with an open mind. This notion should always hold true in The United States of America, seeing as this country was founded off migrants who suffered persecution in other lands and found sanctuary on this soil. Avenues prides itself on being a welcoming community. Being a part of a community with these core values has crucial implications. Every student at Avenues has the responsibility to uphold the values “Welcome, Safety, and Respect” in all that we do. Since we attend this school, Avenues’ mission is our mission. “We will share our prosperity with those who need it .… Avenues’ leadership team is interested in advancing education worldwide—not just within the walls of its own campuses but for all students … We will advance education by setting an example as an effective, diverse and accountable school …” We are called “The World School” for a reason. We bring in students from every corner of the globe, have summer trips to China, Ecuador, Spain, New Zealand, and many other places. If we, as Avenues students, expect to be accepted in the homes of other countries, how can we be obstinate towards people who want to do the same on our land? What are the implications of our mission statement and what relationship should they pose with our political views?

“I think that deportation is very harsh because it goes against American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every person.” said junior Ryan Ng. Some candidates also argue that illegal immigrants cost the country too much money to sustain. What people forget, is to take into account the amount of labor and finances immigrants add back into the country’s well-being and economy. Illegal immigrants make up about 53% of the farming labor in the country. If the promised actions of the republican candidates were to take place, dramatic steps would have to be taken to replace the workforce, costing much more money than before. “Personally, making stricter immigration laws, and deporting the 11 million illegal immigrants in America is unrealistic and extremely not empathetic,” said freshman Lauren Schulsohn. Not only is the proposition of deporting illegal immigrants currently living in the United States unrealistic, but hurtful to American soil and economy. According the USDA, the deportation of a substantial number of undocumented farm workers would lead to a tremendous labor shortage in the states. I am in no way posing that we should not care about our borders and ignore each person coming into the country. Secure borders do secure safety. However, having and/or supporting laws that strictly restrain immigrants and their goals undermines the very freedoms and values our country and school are founded on. To be an Avenues student means to carry out welcome, safety, and respect. •


Why Your American History Course Matters

BY ANDREW BLUM If you are a junior at Avenues, or just a forward looking sophomore, you might be thinking about the courses you have (or have yet) to take. From advanced language to pre-calculus, junior year is packed with an array of options. However, as I sat down one Sunday watching the 2016 Democratic debate, one course’s importance, in particular, stands apart from the rest--American History. There are many reasons why US History is integral to a sound American education; but most importantly, it brings together cultural, political, and economic events to explain how and why our country is the way is. The applications which stem from this course, whether it be understanding the current movement against police brutality to America’s nuclear deal with Iran, are endless, however one specific one has gained prominence in the media recent--the Glass-Steagall Act. For those of you who have yet to explore the intricate history of the United States, Glass-Steagall, also known as the U.S. Banking Act of 1933, was a bill which Franklin D. Roosevelt put in place after the great stock market crash of 1929 which separated commercial banks from investment banks. This is because part of what led to the crash was the plummeting of the risky investment banks which were tied to commercial banks. The time period that followed, commonly referred to as The Great Depression, was treacherous. However, as FDR’s policies began to kick in, including--but not limited to--Glass-Steagall, the economy recovered under a heavily regulated private sector. Fast forward to 1999 and the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton, dismantled the moratorium on the amalgamation of commercial and investment banks. Now, if you are a high-achieving US history student, this may all be news to you. However, by looking at the current political climate, we can see what the fight over Glass-Steagall is really about. There has been talk on the political stage to reinstate

Glass-Steagall or a “modern form” of such as bill. Politicians such as Bernie Sanders campaign on the individuals distrust of the banking sector and attempt to lead the brigade to a new era of Glass-Steagall. He rallies his proponents behind his anti-big banking rhetoric shouting how a new Glass-Steagall will change things for the better. But will it? If one examines the collapse of the housing market in 2008, it can be seen that certainly some banks such as AIG and Bank of America were too big to fail which crashed the economy and required the government to step in and use taxpayer dollars to save them. So yes, Glass-Steagall would have prevented that, right? Wrong. Although Glass-Steagall would have helped to prevent banks like Bank of America from going under, it would not have assuaged the burden on the debt-ridden banks which specialized and insurance and investing. In other words, a bank like AIG would have still gone under without a government bailout resulting in a collapse of our economy. So no, a reinstatement of GlassSteagall would not have prevented the crash of 2008. These banks which are not regulated as thoroughly as commercial banks are termed “shadow banks” for the lack of regulation placed upon them. That being said, Glass-Steagall is not completely negative. The separation of large banks would have potentially lessened the blow of the crisis in 2008, but to prevent a future crisis, more oversight must be given. This means not just a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, but a completely new oversight method of the banking system restricting their power and forcing them to be accountable (one method is by forcing them to keep more money in the bank based on how risky their investments are) is necessary to prevent the US economy from another collapse. So, if you are heading to the polls this election, or if you are just talking to your friends about your favorite candidate, think about what Glass-Steagall really does and what our economy really needs. •


Addictions and Connections BY JACKSON EHRENWORTH



monotony to the day. Other kids seem to find it easier. There’s a way to feel better though. You slip into a bathroom. You sit inside a stall and, quietly, you use something. It might be some tobacco, nestled inside your lip. It might be nicotine, which you inhale, the way your parents smoked when they were young. It’s something small, which takes the edge off. As you soak it in, remind yourself that you have to go back, back into the halls and classrooms, not just today but every morning and every afternoon of every day of the year for as long as you can do this. Now picture, if you can, what it would be like to be a ninth grader in a bathroom, in the minute between classes, with a student who is older than you by at least a year (a Medici sovereignty of status in high school), who offers you an e-cig filled with nicotine. It’s a relatively harmless substance, not illegal for adults. Picture that moment, standing with a student whom you admire, that moment when you can do something small, that will forge a bond. You know that it’s forbidden, but it seems like a very small bad thing. Pedro Noguera, author of City Schools and the American Dream, calls these moments ones of conflicting, unbearable pressures. When the pressures on a teen from family, peers, and school are different, Noguera argues, these conditions cause one of two results – fragmentation, or deception. It’s virtually impossible for the student to please all around her. Please don’t condemn that teen, for getting into that situation, or for not handling it better. She may not handle it well because it is a difficult situation. She may have gotten into it by being a young adult in a high school in New York City, or, according to news reports, anywhere in the country. One last story, a small one, but it’s important to me. It’s a conversation that I find myself in again and again with other students. Students say to me that “these kids” shouldn’t be in our school. Students

I trust and like and respect say they are disappointed in me because I don’t give up friends. I seek pools, oceans of empathy, and find desiccated harshness. I hear often from fellow students that “these kids aren’t worth saving.” The idea is that they’re losers. They’re write-offs. They’ll never really do anything. There’s a shocking cruelty to these statements. And they’re also not true.

I’m not personally condoning the use of drugs, but there is no evidence that people who have never, ever tried drugs are better people. They are not more innovative or more creative or more successful. They are not kinder or smarter or more compassionate. The discourse that labels teens who try drugs as eternal losers is one that is pathologizing, oppressive, and most of all inaccurate.


magine a school where students suffer from drug problems. The good news is that the causes of problems like these are well understood, and the solutions are well-researched and easy to find. The bad news is that such schools are often seduced by a default response of punishment: a solution that allays immediate fears, but does little to mitigate the problem of drug use. We are in danger of becoming a school like this. I am a teen myself, but I ask you, parents and teachers, school leaders and peers-who-think-we-have-this- figured-out, to think again. Reconsider if ‘tough’ is really the way to go, or if there are other, more compassionate and effective approaches to fixing a drug problem. We need to spend more effort on helping students develop skills to deal with a real part of life that school won’t always be there to protect them from. Let’s be frank. Our school, like almost all schools in America, has students that use drugs. To provide a frame of the problem, I want offer some stories from students, a party rarely listened to on issues of this sort. This is because the students who are doing drugs may not be who you think they are, or even be, in their own hearts, the same as others see them. Begin by imagining, if you can, what it feels like to be a student in our school who has been accused of drug use and who may have used drugs. This student gets to school and gets his bag searched. He’s late to class then, so the teacher pulls him aside, already “disappointed in him.” He goes to the bathroom and teachers go in after him, to “check on things.” When he walks out, he gets pulled aside again, by a teacher or by security. They check his bag. They smell his clothes. He walks the halls and is treated with suspicion by kids, by faculty, by security. “Ah, Jackson,” you are thinking, “you overstate the case.” No, I understate it. This is a reality. For right now, hold that feeling, of being that kid who has been searched and smelled and followed by teachers and rejected by students. Imagine what a year of those kinds of days would feel like from inside. Understand that, and you’ll understand a little about the need we have for human connection, and about the terrible, willful ignorance it is to refuse empathy. Let’s imagine another scenario. You’ve been at the school for years. You think you give a lot to your school. You wake early in the damp, cold winter mornings. You are not going to do drugs on the street, you’re going to morning basketball practice, hours before a lot of other kids are even awake. You run and you sweat. You work physically hard, for an hour or more, then you begin the school day. That’s when it gets hard. It doesn’t really feel like a place where you perfectly belong, or where you know exactly how to be. There’s an endless


Yet it gets repeated again and again, in the micro-language of critique, so that its very repetition reinforces its reality, holding up some students as ‘normal/good’ and others as ‘flawed/bad.’ We have to create a discourse that recognizes the fractured celebration that is teenage life. This is what it feels like: a student’s perspective on a policy of punishment Our community currently treats drug use most visibly with punishment: disciplinary hearings; suspension; expulsion; combined with secrecy. I think that two students have been expelled or asked to leave this year for drug use, but I’m not completely sure of the circumstances. Their actions and their treatment are shrouded. It’s understandable, the need to protect students’ reputations. When students are here, and then not here, however, that creates its own issues. There’s a sense for the rest of us of imagined peril that is distinctly unsettling. We don’t know what is going on. We don’t know how to act or what to learn from the disappearance of peers. We know only that some of our peers are gone from the community, and that next, ARTWORK BY LUCY REISS it could be us. It often feels, to us, that students are invited to inform on each other. Students who are caught at something are asked to tell the


‘truth’ about their actions and sources, when that truth is damaging and scary. The atmosphere begins to be one of condemnation, fear, and reckoning. It seems like the great hope is to punish the way to deterrence. I get it. The reason this solution seem enticing is it offers a simple solution: get rid of students who have drug problems, and you will eliminate the drug problem. For us that means: get rid of some of us, and the school will be better for the ones who remain. It’s an awful feeling for those of us remaining, and it’s an even more awful feeling for the ones who had to leave. You kick or counsel a student out of school and it will feel (and it may be true) that you have ruined that child’s life. It doesn’t matter if, to the surrounding adults, an expulsion or invitation to leave is considered something temporal. To the student it is everything. I’m haunted by what happened to Teddy Graubard. He was a star physics student at Dalton. Junior year, once, he cheated on a Latin test. Catching him in the act, his teacher had a brief conversation with him, arranged to get back to him later, and left him to his own devices. I feel a physical pain in my own gut when I imagine his tortured thoughts. To a kid, it is so easy to imagine what he was think-

ing. Would they put a note in his permanent record? Would they to the likelihood that they seek a solace from chemical substance make an example of him? Would his family and friends find out? that they are not finding from their fellow humans. Would colleges have to know? Whilst adults did what they did, You need to know more about drug use they left Teddy alone. He went to the eleventh floor and jumped In order to understand my argument, you have to understand from a window. Trauma followed by isolation followed by despair. something about why people use drugs. Johann Hari, a reporter You can’t do this to kids. Our school, and so many schools, are for The Independent, the New York Times, and Slate, and author doing this right now. of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on I know, you’re thinking this is an exaggeration. I’m telling Drugs, spent years investigating this topic, and he shows that viryou that this is what it feels like, and it feels scary and awful. The tually everything people think they know about drugs, drug use, school finds a student who uses. Do they whisk that student into and drug deterrence is wrong. a safe environment, cocooning this student in layers of support What I used to believe, and what is a common misconception, and treatment? No. They cocoon that student in layers of trauma. is that there are chemical hooks in drugs that make users addicts. Discipline procedures, including inquisitions that ask a troubled This is partly true. Coffee, for instance, or tobacco, creates very teen to somehow miraculously show good judgment and integ- real cravings for caffeine or nicotine. It turns out, though, that rity in the midst of trauma. Secrecy. And then sometimes, giving the real reason that people return to drugs is their environment. the student the ultimate rejection – pushing him or her out of the It is not a chemical hook that leads to repeated drug use. It is an school. In that single act, our community pronounces a judgment environment of loneliness, boredom, or despondency. that is final and awful. We reject the entire human being. Hari shows that the idea of addiction stemming from how I recently read Discipline and Punish, which I’m sure thou- drugs hook the user came from a series of experiments done in sands of students have read and the twentieth century with rats. thought was specifically about Reinarman and Levine wrote “WE’RE A NEW SCHOOL WHICH their school, even though we about this in a famous study MEANS OUR DRUG PROBLEM IS are so lucky in how marvecalled Crack in America. A sinNEW, AND OUR POLICIES ARE IN A gle rat is put into a cage, and givlous our school experience is CHRYSALIS STAGE.” overall. And it is marvelous, en access to unlimited quantimostly. There is this one part, ties of cocaine or morphine. Rat though, that did feel like he really was talking about our school. after rat would use compulsively until it died. Later scientists, When Foucault looks at how schools act as disciplinary institu- though, thought harder about the environment these rats were tions, he describes the perils when, “the disciplinary apparatuses in. The sequel to the rat in a cage study was done in the 1970s by hierarchized the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ subjects in relations to one Professor Bruce Alexander. another... a differentiation that is not one of acts, but of individuAlexander hypothesized that the conditions these rats were als themselves, their nature, their potentialities, their level or their living in mattered. So he built what he dubbed “Rat Park.” Hari value.” Already we see this schism at our school. Students name calls Rat Park a paradise. “Within its plywood walls, it contained themselves as the “smart kids/good kids” or “the bad kids/kids everything a rat could want – there were wheels and colored balls who use drugs,” as if those are now inevitable binaries. Letting and the best food, and other rats to hang out with.” Like the us settle into these identities, at a time when we should be con- rats in earlier studies, rats in Rat Park had access to water, and structing nuanced, resilient identities, forces a false dichotomy to water laced with morphine. The rats in isolation used until between kids who might otherwise recognize connection. And it they killed themselves. The rats in Rat Park barely touched the means that kids who don’t quite fit one or the other feel like they drugged water. Not a single one became addicted or overdosed. have no rational identity. I feel like that now. As Alexander declared, “these guys have a complete total twentyPlease don’t do this. Don’t push out kids who need help. Don’t four-hour supply, and they don’t use it.” isolate and punish kids who may become brilliant members of Rat Park teaches us that we are going about dealing with drug the community. Somehow we are sliding into a policy of trauma, use at school in exactly the wrong way. As Hari puts it, “it isn’t punishment, and isolation. We say it is to protect the community, the drug that causes the harmful behavior – it’s the environment.” and to deter drug use, which is, after all, illegal. But the simple It is not that hooks in chemicals don’t play a role in drug use truth is that research doesn’t back up the claim that punishment and addiction. They do. It’s just that isolation plays a far greater acts as a deterrent for drug use. The research on how trauma plays role. Withdrawing community, isolating students who are already a role in drug use and addiction has grave implications for our fragile is the very worst thing schools could do. current treatment of students. In fact, what we’re doing is the People who have researched the problems of addiction and worst possible thing. We are driving students who might be very drug use would give us advice to do the opposite of what we’re occasional users, who have experimented with substances in mild doing. Hari says this: “I think the core of that message – you’re ways, into conditions of isolation and humiliation: the very con- not alone, we love you – has to be at every level of how we reditions that lead to increased drug use. These students are being spond to addicts, socially, politically, and individually. For one irresponsible. No one argues with that. They are making mistakes. hundred years now we’ve been singing war songs about addicts. Certainly. But they are teenagers. Isolating them is only adding I think all along we should have been singing songs of love to


them, because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The op- saying we’re a school that isn’t equipped to deal with… kids. We posite of addiction is connection.” need to equip ourselves. We have learning specialists, we have Let’s take a look at Portugal. security specialists, we have curriculum specialists, we have comIn Hari’s book, he devotes an entire chapter to the way Por- munity service specialists. We also have a drug problem. We need tugal responded to its drug crisis. In 2001 Portugal was facing a specialists in this area. Arguably our high school needs these spestate of emergency due to the number of people who were ad- cialists more than any other kind. We need an office where studicted to heroin. Out of every hundred people, one was addicted dents and teachers can seek help. We need highly trained specialto heroin. Not just using or experimenting. Addicted. ists who understand about addiction and experimentation and Here’s what the political leaders of Portugal did: the Prime adolescence. Minister and the leader of the opposition got together. They We can solve the drug problem in our school. We just have gathered an independent team to look at the problem in a more to go about it a different way. We need to think more like AA sophisticated way. The panel reported back that, “drug users has. There is a reason that AA is known in psychological studies should be treated as full members of society instead of cast out as one of the few institutions that changes people’s behaviors. as criminals or other pariahs.” Portugal decriminalized all drugs, “Social context factors are a key,” says Harvard medical school from crack cocaine to cannabis. Where they had been spending professor John Kelly. Patients with heart disease will revert to di90% of their money on policing and punishment, and 10% on ets that will kill them; lung cancer victims revert to smoking betreatment and prevention, they reversed these percentages. They cause… they are trying to change alone. AA, on the other hand, gave tax breaks to employers who would give opportunities to with its circles of friendship and hope, and its commitment to recovering users. They put all inclusion and partnering, gets “WE CAN SEE DRUG USE AS A SIGN their efforts into treating drug people to change. AA abanusers and pushing recovering dons no one, even if they slip THAT A CHILD NEEDS MORE COMdrug users back into society. and make mistakes; even if MUNITY, MORE LOVE, MORE UNDER- they lie. AA does the opposite What happened next is STANDING, MORE CONNECTION.” nothing short of astounding. of what we’re doing now, and Across the board, problematic it has a track record of success. drug use declined. According to Hari, “in the years since heroin There has been similar success, with entire nations, when drug was decriminalized in Portugal, its use has been halved – while in problems have been tackled with the same methods. the United States, where the drug war continues, it has doubled.” To sum up, if what we want is to stop students from using, and The level of cocaine use is now at almost half of the EU average. to heal those in our midst, then every time, compassion is a better Most importantly for schools, “children aged 15-16 also reported approach than punishment. This isn’t a philosophical or ideologione of the lowest lifetime prevalence of cannabis use in Western cal debate. It has been shown that compassion helps more than Europe.” punishment, that connection lowers drug use. We should focus Portugal reversed its drug problem. on therapy, service within the community, counseling and peer Can schools, can Avenues, become a Portuguese Rat Park? connections. We should have counselors on staff who are specialWe’re a new school, which means our drug problem is new, ist on teens and drug use. We need a peer-counseling group that and our policies are in a chrysalis stage. We’re a school focused on educates itself on how to bring students deeper into the commuinnovation. Let’s be innovative. Let’s be Bruce Alexander, who nity when they are endangered. lured all his lab rats away from drug use through companionMostly, we have to fulfill the covenant we made when we ship and play and opportunity. We know that disconnection is brought students into our community. We have to make a permathe classic cause of drug use and addiction. So let us shun poli- nent, cannot-be-broken vow to protect all students by educating cies that stigmatize, separate, and isolate those who most need and caring for them through the hard times, so that all students more connection. Let us pledge not to not send students home in our community will be less vulnerable to situations that are to spend hours and days alone, or force them to leave the com- either emerging now or will emerge later, inevitably, because they munity. Instead, let us come together to bring them deeper into live in New York City. the community. We are strong enough for this. Together, we are There are drug issues in every high school. There is no “getnot so fragile that we need be threatened by the frailty of some ting rid of drugs.” There is only helping students make smarter of our members. choices and strengthening their belief in themselves. Practically, we need to strengthen our support systems. We If focus on getting rid of drugs and those touched by drugs, need to offer in-house counselling and on-going layers of sup- all you’ll really do is drive the problem underground, where it will port that are varied and insightful and most of all, in school. If fester, damaging all those it touches in lasting and invisible ways. troubled students need to spend time reflecting, or hours atoning, We can, and must, do better. We can look at the conditions that let them do that in the heart of the school, among us and amidst are leading students to seek drugs. We can see drug use as a sign a cocoon of care. that a child needs more community, more love, more understandSometimes I hear a counter-argument that schools, our school, ing, more connection. We can seek and build un Parque Rato at isn’t equipped to “deal with” these kinds of problems. That’s like Avenues. •


Finding Political Identity in an Age of Polarization



views on those provided by politicians and members of the media rather than those gathered through personal interactions. The most frightening aspect of this trend is what it does to communities across the country. When friendships and relationships are found on the expectation of mutual political alignment, they falter when one doesn’t conform to these expectations. I remember the first time I read an article from the National Review (a popular conservative magazine). I opened an incognito win-

I returned home that night to my mother cooking as Countdown with Keith Olbermann hummed in the background like it had my entire childhood. My senses became inseparable, as the fumes of simmering olive oil clung to the impassioned voices of my T.V.. As Olbermann preached liberal ideology, a rush of both shame and disappointment entered my body. While I certainly agree with Olbermann that healthcare is a human right, he failed to address the issues of quality and efficiency of public health services that The National Review discussed. While there are certainly liberal rebukes to these conservative arguments, these opinions are often left-out of discussion, for claims based in morality strengthen the liberal sense of identity. The emphasis on rhetoric over pragmatism is not an issue of just the left or the right, it’s an issue facing the entire country, an issue caused by the rampant polarization and homogenization of communities across the America. Luckily, our generation, unlike any other before, is uniquely equipped to escape these echo chambers. The internet has granted Americans with unlimited access to countless podcasts, editorials and opinion pieces, from across the political spectrum. As digital natives, our generation is the most capable of curating a collection of reliable and diverse news sources. This technological intuition places a great responsibility on our generation to further intellectual discourse through political exploration and experimentation. The incredibly polarizing president Ronald Reagan once said, “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Over the past few decades Americans have witnessed their country divided into camps of red and blue with little to no correspondence between the two. Although our country prides itself on freedom of speech, we have failed as Americans to fully honor these rights as we’ve drastically limited political discussion due to the Big Sort. In order to preserve and grow our democracy, our generation must fight to reverse decades and decades of political degradation through diversifying our own viewpoints. • PHOTO BY LUCAS HORNSBY

It’s a typical Sunday night in the Smallens house. We throw migrants, we’ve alway struggled to find affinity within our own popcorn in the microwave, heat up four cups of hot chocolate, borders. In the absence ethnic cohesion, American politicians and turn on the TV. Tonight we’re watching Sicko, a Michael have framed political parties to be a source of moral and cultural Moore documentary about America’s healthcare crisis. This will grounding. As these parties have become entwined with ethical be the third (fourth?) time we’ve watched this film as a family; value systems, it’s become harder than ever before to bridge the other favorites include An Inconvenient Truth, Bowling for Col- divide between Republicans and Democrats. umbine and Citizen Koch. The current apprehension and dichotomy between Democrats We’re liberals, that’s obvious. What’s not so obvious is what and Republicans is the product of what many political scientists it means to be a liberal in 2016. There are the typical things, like call the Big Sort hypothesis (a theory provided supporting bigger government, gay marriage, and abortion rights, by Bill Bishop). This hypothesis is based on the and sure, there are people on the left and the right who will stray fact that liberals want to marry other liberals, confrom party values on one or two of these issues, but that’s the servatives want to marry other conservatives, and exception, not the rule. couples want to raise children in communities that When I grew up, I didn’t really understand what expanding share their own political values. Quantitatively, medicaid, or overturning Citizens United, or reinstating Glass- this theory is supported by many studies, includSteagall meant. I thought being liberal was just the norm. I was ing one Pew Research poll that found 63% of coninundated in liberal media, listening to Air America on my way sistently conservative Americans share their views to school and watching Keith Olbermann while my mom pre- with most of their family and friends, and 49% pared dinner. I was taught in a liberal school, my 5th grade teach- of consistently liberal Americans share their views er mocking Bush’s response to Katrina in earth science and my with most of their family and friends. A politically 6th grade chorus instructor conducting anthems about equal pay homogenous community, such as the liberal one in for equal work for our final recital. I was raised in predominantly which I grew up, provides the breeding ground for culturally liberal communities, my Muslim family citing the is- antipathy between liberals and conservatives. lamophobia of the right, and The same Pew my Jewish cousins elucidating “AS A CHILD, I OFTEN THOUGHT THE study also reveals the history of antisemitism in DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEMOCRATS that political parAmerica. Being a liberal wasn’t ties have become a political identity growing up, AND REPUBLICANS WAS AKIN TO THE more contentious DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHREK AND than ever recorded it was a moral one. As a child, I often thought before; in 2014 38% LORD FARQUAAD” the difference between Demoof Democrats stated crats and Republicans was akin to the difference between Shrek they feel very unfavorably about the Republican and Lord Farquaad. We, Shrek, were the underdogs, the ones party, and 43% of Republicans stated they feel very who accepted people of all identities and fought against the evil unfavorably about the Democratic party comtyrants (Bushes...) that ran the kingdom. While our enemy, Lord pared to 16% and 17% respectively in 1994. UnFarquaad, despised ogors and other minorities, while trying to fortunately, it appears that these divides are only retain his own power. I wish I could say that as I got older I’ve getting greater as college campuses become more seen more complex characterizations of these political parties politically homogenous, news networks become more partisan, than that provided by Shrek, but that would be a lie. and communities become less politically diverse. The animosity Modern American political parties no longer serve as effective between the two parties is the product of political self-segregameans to solve the great crises of our time, rather these parties tion. As fewer personal exchanges occur between Republicans have come to serve as sources of American identity. As one of and Democrats, and the further propaganda can be made for the most diverse countries in the world, a country built by im- and about each party (i.e. Shrek vs. Lord Farquaad), we base our

dow on my browser, entered the website’s URL, and sped read the first article I saw. As I read the article, which happened to be on healthcare, I went through each paragraph trying to debunk every conservative theory with liberal rhetoric I’d been provided at home. Yet, as the article began to cite statistics and case-studies, my own liberal toolbox began to run out of supplies.




magine this: one Thursday after school, there is a fencing match in the fitness center right at 4:15. The room is quite crowded as the fencing strip barely fits the long way down the fitness center. Fencers from Avenues are crammed into one bench section, with their gear neatly tucked underneath their fold-out chairs, while the opposing team, composed only of two



members are surprised how small the room of the tournament is. On the other side of the strip, (the long black mat in which fencers must remain inside during their matches), another row of chairs seats the parents and family of both teams. Other than the coach and one of the team’s captains, Edgar Guzman, there are only three students standing behind the rows of chairs, sup-

porting the team. The opponents are a strong team, and the tense environment is intensified from the noticeable lack of support from Avenues. There is not much noise difference from when Avenues’ team scores a point and the opponents team scoring a point. Many fencers recognize how fencing is pushed to the side, and only viewed for the entertainment it provides in seeing two people poke metal sticks at each other. Guzman, varsity team member, expressed that at the end of the day, performance on the strip was often determined by how much motivation the fencer already had. Regardless, he identified support from peers as another very important aspect that positively and significantly changed the atmosphere of the bouts. However, Avenues’ fencing team is seldom given priority in the school. One fencer who wished to remain anonymous said, “It does shake our team up a little bit when even the athletic office doesn’t mention games or give any support or encouragement to a degree even close to the other teams.” They expressing how they weren’t asking for everyone to stay after school to support the team, but rather to not be pushed out of the gym even on a tournament day just for one of the Basketball team to be able to have practice in the gym. Clearly there is a disparity between the support provided to the basketball teams and fencing teams. Kavin Chada, another avid fencer, reluctantly accepted how the Fencing Team is currently perceived at Avenues. “If we could just have group conversations about sports other than basketball it would be really nice. My friends know I do fencing and they completely acknowledge that part of my life and the community, they are even interested in it, but outside of that circle I feel a little bit stupid talking about fencing and expecting them to care,” said Chada. Of course, that is the part that is difficulty. No one can force someone to “care about” something. However, let us imagine Avenues’ basketball teams for a moment. Would the teams perform as well if they didn’t get as much support? Would the teams have been as motivated as they were if their accomplishments were not expressed during Assembly or Sports Night? At an Assembly recently, a student was commended for his contributions for supporting the Girl’s JV and Varsity basketball teams. Eoin O’Byrne showed up to nearly every home game, cheering on the team.

For Eoin, staying after school to support Avenues’ teams started one day while he was staying at school to finish all his homework and decided to stay for one of the Senior sports nights. “When the boys game ended at around 6:30 though, most of the crowd, students and teachers, left. Many of the supporters still in the gym had jobs and roles relating to the Girls Varsity team.” said O’Byrne, “To be honest, I was almost one of those people too. I made it all the way down stairs, out the lobby doors, and across 26th Street heading north, before coming to realize that I should go back, and my reasons for leaving were no more legitimate or urgent that they had been for the earlier game.” When O’Byrne was recognized for his support of the teams by seniors Dan DeMonte and Geoffrey Ravenhall Meinke during Assembly, he was already expecting the response he heard from from some of his peers. This included comments like, “You know you’re just doing it cause you like the girls” and “Really, Eoin? Really?” “I thought it was very immature. I shrugged if all off and let them laugh, but I asked myself, “Why don’t you come?” said O’Byrne. He remains proud of himself for being recognized for his voice and enthusiasm, especially because it is a confirmation that the athletes playing also heard his support. O’Byrne’s suggestions to improve the lack of spirit include encouraging some students, who feel spirit at Avenues is limited to spirit week, to come and support the teams. O’Byrne said, “In the same way we have the Writing Lab to encourage and help our writers grow, we have our friends and teachers to support us for sports.” While to many, this may seem like a small issue being blown out of proportion, imagine yourself in a scenario of working hours up until a tournament only to be encouraged by a noticeably bare set of bleachers. This year at Avenues, lack of a sense of community has been topic covered in both grade meetings and Student Council. Grade-wide events and upper-school-wide spirit weeks have helped, but perhaps it is time for everyone as individuals to consider how they can contribute to school spirit and the identity of Avenues. Even if one’s interests don’t align with what one’s peers are involved in, support extends past helping motivate individuals on a team, and contributes to the larger picture of “Avenues school spirit.” •


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Arts & Letters



The Ten Dollar Founding Father’s Hit Musical

roadway has just adopted a new genre of musical with Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the lyricist and composer of In The Heights, brought the story of America’s founding fathers to life through a mix of classical musical and rap. Miranda specifically focused on the story of Alexander Hamilton, who was, among many things, the creator of America’s financial system, the first Secretary of the Treasury, and one of the most influential founding fathers. Miranda centers the musical around the message: “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” Miranda portrays how in the end, we have no control over how our stories are told. He wrote and composed Hamilton based on a biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. “I grabbed a book at random from a bookstore, and it was Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. All I knew about Hamilton was that he died in a duel. So I thought, ‘This will have a good ending at least.’” said Miranda in a speech at the Hudson Theatre. Last year a group of Avenues students, accompanied by teachers, had the opportunity to see Hamilton before it went to Broadway. The students who saw the musical were awestruck. Teachers and students alike obsessed over the ingenuity of Hamilton, and the following weeks were filled with allusions to the musical. In the beginning of this year, the Hamilton soundtrack landed on Spotify. Since then, Hamilton has been a leading topic of discussion across Avenues. So, why has Hamilton become an obsession of Avenues students? Is it the diverse cast? The inventive lyrics? Every aspect of Hamilton seems to engage its audience. The music is so powerful and inspiring, even people who haven’t had the opportunity to see Hamilton yet (it is currently sold out until the summer) are deeply invested in the meaning and potential of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical. Olivia Shapiro, a freshman at Avenues, said, “I connect to Angelica so that brings me close to it.” Angelica, one of the Schuyler sisters, is known for caring for her sisters and putting their needs before her own. Ms. Reedy, who came with the group of students last year said, “Putting music to history gets me every time. Making the characters we’ve read about so much become human is the most


powerful way to learn anything.” Since Hamilton’s music revolves around the events of the American Revolution and delves into the politics of that time period, could Hamilton be used as a teaching tool? Livy Bernstein, a sophomore at Avenues thinks that it could be. “Yes! Most of all, it sparks interest. It makes kids WANT to learn about American history. It is full of facts woven into catchy Hip Hop songs which makes it so relatable for kids our age. Before Hamilton, I thought Burr was just ‘the dude who shot the guy on the 10 dollar bill’ but now I know the story leading up to why. I never knew Hamilton was actually responsible for the foundations of our entire financial system. I didn’t know Eliza established the first orphanage in New York City. I learned all about our treaty with France... and again, the list goes on! And hey, I can now name 10 founding fathers off the top of my head!” she said. But Hamilton does not only have incredible music; it has a diverse and talented cast. Lin-Manuel Miranda told America’s story from the perspective of the people of modern America. Students at Avenues recognize and appreciate the diverse nature of the musical. Jacob Spiegel, a senior said, “It’s super super important, as minorities are woefully underrepresented in theater. Additionally, it ties into the message of Hamilton himself being an immigrant (comin’ up from the bottom), showing how this country is truly built on its diversity.” Hamilton has become a sensation on Broadway and will definitely have an impact on America. Its quick success illustrates it’s enormous potential. It’s captivating, educational, and bound to make a lasting impact on viewers. It deals with topics of legacy and heartbreak, history and friendship. This genius play surpasses the expectations of a good musical, and on the whole, the Avenues community is enthusiastic about it. The fans of Hamilton in Avenues have formed a community. The passion for this musical has strengthened friendships and brought Upper School students and teachers together. Bringing the Avenues community closer is the key to creating memorable high school experiences, and the relationships that stem from Hamilton are a model that students should emulate. Hamilton love is not only strong on Broadway, but strong at Avenues. •





Flash Fiction






thousand camera lights flashed in the brisk December evening as Robert Masendorf shook hands with the Mayor of New York City. “Thank you for your generosity, Mr. Masendorf,” the Mayor said, smiling towards the cameras. For a moment, Robert Masendorf was speechless, confused by all the lights and commotion surrounding him. He did not get a chance to reply, as polite society requires, to the Mayor’s comment because within a blink the mayor was whisked away by one of his aides. The hazy glitz which included many well-known celebrities was evaporating faster than he had expected. “Hail to the World” was still stuck in his head, playing on an endless loop. This was mainly because he did not know any of the other songs played live just an hour ago. He had been invited to Rockefeller Center to celebrate the lighting of Christmas Tree. Robert just so happened to be this year’s donor of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. He was a pale-eyed old man from a small town in upstate New York. Robert’s face held no stories. The wrinkles scattered around his nose and mouth were lines drawn to display the passage of time. His eyes showed no spark or interest for the festivities surrounding him. Intrigued by his indifference, a woman with thin lips rouged with a glossy pomegranate color lipstick smiled at him. Her high heels clicked on the concrete as she inched closer. “So kind of you to share your tree with the world,” she said. Her phone fell as she fiddled with her extra-long ivory scarf in one arm while the other held a red crocodile bag almost the size of a carry-on suitcase. She turned around and deposited her bag and scarf on a nearby chair when it was evident that Robert Masendorf did not intend to pick up her phone. She bent with ease, her tight skirt rolling up and exposing more of her skinny legs. Still, Robert Masendorf did not even blink. Her tone changed. “Your backyard must be quite empty without the tree,” she said. His reply came fast and unexpected as he corrected her. “Front yard. The tree graced my front yard. Still, even

four haiku I How much can you watch in the muffled, lit up dark ‘till your eyes grow tired? II Cat, why do you sit upon the very cushion where my white shirt lays III The house is empty a perfect time to play guitar without a shirt on IV You’ve been wondering since last Tuesday evening did OJ do it? without the tree, my front yard’s quite crowded.” Surprised by his reply, she glared at him as if his comment was irrelevant and inappropriate. “I would never have given up such a magnificent tree for a moment of glory.” Her head moved up and down twice, staring at him from the tip of his non-designer old sneakers to the top of his head which was covered with a beat up Yankees cap. Angered by his ungentlemanly behavior, she was ready to fight. She stared at his worn jeans which were unfashionable by at least two decades and at the thrift shop quality jacket that was zipped up to his neck and moved her nose as if she smelled something unpleasant. “A glorious tree indeed,” he said, surprising her again with an answer. Robert Masendorf looked up at his tree and felt like a dwarf. It was a familiar feeling. At ninety-seven feet tall, decked with forty-five thousand colorful lights, nestled amidst skyscrapers in New York City and towering over a skating rink, his Norway Spruce was a mass tourist attraction. He barely controlled his grin. Not long ago, the shadow cast by this splendid tree hid many unsavory activities that Robert Masendorf orches-

— Mikaela Strauss trated. His first wife and her bitter mother were buried in his front yard, under the tree. As were the next three unpleasant women he met not long after. In the small town Robert Masendorf lived, jet-black nights and the protective extra dark shadows the tree provided kept his ways private for a long time. All was well until last winter when strong storms threatened to unearth the Norway Spruce which was about eighty years old. Masendorf wasn’t scared that the tree would crash on top of his modest two bedroom ranch style home. He was worried that if the tree crashed, its roots would also unearth the half a dozen women buried in his front yard. As Robert Masendorf liked his secrets buried and didn’t have the money to pay for the tree removal, he uploaded a picture of the glorious tree as soon as spring arrived, offering to donate it to Rockefeller Center. He was surprised when he was contacted right away. And right now, his Norway Spruce was Rockefeller Center’s main attraction. Robert Masendorf ’s small black eyes held a hint of contentment when he looked at the woman in front of him. The woman, who believed him provincial and unsophisticated, puffed and rolled her eyes before taking her belongings and walking away.



Digital Art

答应我 - 作者:Gianna Donovan 董吉亚 答应我,离去的时候你不会做声, 你不再触碰我的心 你不再恣意闯入我的生命。 答应我,离去的时候你不会迫不及待, 你会辗转,难过,你会痛彻心扉,如我一般 想象你与他人相伴。 答应我,今晚会是结局 会是守候,希望,乞讨的终止。 我要这结束无声无息。 答应我,你不再伤害我。 你的往事我听到过那么多 一路留下破碎的心仍在舔舐伤口。 答应我,我不像她们。 答应我,你在乎我, 哪怕曾经如此。 答应我,至少这一瞬,你爱我。

BEFORE YOU GO by: Gianna Donovan


Promise me you’ll be quiet when you go – you won’t play with my heart anymore and you won’t be reckless, the way you dove in. Promise me when you move on, it won’t happen soon and you’ll suffer, pine, and agonize the way I already do, thinking of you with someone else. Promise me that tonight will be our last of me waiting, hoping, and begging for another one. I want our end to be painless and quick. Promise me you won’t hurt me anymore. I’ve heard the stories about you before and the trail of broken hearts you’ve left behind. Promise me I’m not like them. Promise me I matter to you or I did at some point. Promise me, at least now, you’ll love me. 47


Arts & Letters




Music Review


It’s 4:00 AM on a Sunday morning. The temperature has dropped, but I can feel a warm being beside me. It whispers, “I’m a blackstar, I’m a star’s star, I’m a blackstar.” This voice is, of course, that of Mr. Bowie. His words sink and weave into my cotton sheets, haunting, yet genial. Some critics claim that Blackstar, Bowie’s final album, documents the artist’s confrontation and acceptance of his own death. Yet, this assertion of self-grieving implies that Bowie could die. But just like the biblical character Lazarus (which is also the title of a single from the album), Bowie prevails over death, as his spirit resides in millions of followers, forming a global diaspora. Bowie, the so-called man who fell to earth, visits these followers unannounced -- in the shower, on the subway, at the grocery store. Blackstar is not Bowie’s attempt to achieve self-closure, rather it offers assurance to his followers that Bowie is no mere mortal being. Attempting to categorize this album is a futile task, as the songs’ tempos are erratic, instruments varied, and harmonies divergent. The title track is a ten-minute journey beginning with an ominous synth melody which is followed by an ensemble jazz performance. The vocals are heavily treated, producing an otherworldly narrator who guides the listener through a fanciful world of sacrifice, extraterrestrialism, and sadomasochism. The union of pleasure and pain, as elucidated in the reactive relationship between the soft horns and harsh synths and the lyrics, “On the day of execution/only women kneel and smile/ Ah-ah, ah-ah,” reveal the complexity of death, readying Bowie’s mortal followers. The album begs listeners to embrace the reality of Bowie’s physical departure through his vivid depiction of execution, while prompting them to “kneel and smile” surrendering themselves to his alien vision. The other single from the album “Lazarus” can best be understood as an extension of “Blackstar” (the song). While “Blackstar” speaks to the duality of death, “Lazarus” establishes its epilogue. The song once again acts to ensure Bowie’s followers that his death is only physical, stating “You know, I’ll be free/Just like that bluebird/Now ain’t that just like me.” The use of vernacular like “You know” and “ain’t that just like me” indicate an intimate relationship between Bowie and his followers. Bowie, with the strong faith of his listeners, utilizes symbols such as the bluebird to indicate immortality. Bluebirds are seen in the Cochiti and Navajo tribes as a sign of the rising sun. This symbolism is especially intriguing in juxtaposition with the first words of “Lazarus”, “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” Bowie investigates the cyclical nature of life not only through


his lyrics, but with the instrumentals as well. The song reaches its peak with screeching saxophones alongside rhythmic reggae, before dipping into valleys of pulsating bass. Yet, even in these valleys there’s a tidal current of synthesized melodies that, at times, overwhelm the bass guitar. The absence of pure singularity and the frequent crowd of clashing melodies, once again speaks to Bowie’s eternal spirit as “Lazarus” refuses closure and welcomes vivacity. While Bowie concedes that he’s “in heaven,” his music remains boundless. The album, which includes seven songs and has a runtime of 41 minutes, is the culmination of Bowie’s past, present and future. The frequent use of saxophone throughout the album is an homage to his childhood as the instrument was the first he learned to play at the age of twelve. The references to his previous works, especially the album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars and the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth, continue throughout the album as he once again enters the occulist and alien universe shared by his previous characters Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, and Starman. Bowie also grapples with his current state of demise, exploring both the depression and liberation that follow his deteriorating health. This is seen most prominently in “Blackstar” as he captures the transcendental atmosphere of a sacrificial ceremony. Finally, Blackstar calls on Bowie’s prophets to uphold his artistic legacy. Just as the astronomical use of “blackstar” describes the death and eventual rebirth of celestial bodies, the album guides followers beyond grief and into genesis. Bowie will continue to greet worshipers unannounced, waking them, as he woke me, with enchanting breathes of fable and fairytale — an undying muse for generations to come. •


SUSAN M. SINGER Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker C: 917.207.6368 TOWN FLATIRON LLC 110 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor New York, NY 10011

TOWNRESIDENTIAL.COM TOWN Residential LLC (“TOWN”) is a licensed real estate broker and a partnership of Buttonwood Residential Brokerage LLC and Thor Equities, LLC. Real estate agents associated with TOWN are independent contractors and are not employees of TOWN. TOWN Flatiron LLC is a licensed real estate broker and a subsidiary of TOWN.


Headliners BY HENRY GOLD The Highliner, in all its strength and wisdom, could not cover everything this winter. With that in mind, we have compiled the following headlines of stories you might have missed! Class email sent out, student replies all, three hospitalized. Moment of Irony: Lower schoolers singing about being quiet in the elevator. Student struck with terrible illness right before really important thing due in class. School always cold... say students who never wear sweaters. Seniors dream of Easter Bunny delivering their college acceptance letters. Coffee officially deemed more essential than water by students. CCC acronym revealed: covered eyes, covered ears, and covered mouth. Student learns to be discreet while doing stupid stuff in school. Meta club puts off procrastinating by doing school work: “We’ll get to netflix eventually,” says peer leader. Film Club suggests huge flat-screen TV to cover living wall: “It will really bring it to life!” says club member. Faculty goes color blind, spirit week extended indefinitely. Moment of Clarity: Loud people forget to talk in Harkness.




The Highliner Issue 5  
The Highliner Issue 5  

Winter 2016