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VOL. 36 ISSue 4

the LION'S

BEHIND THE

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By Sophie Lewis

Anonymous to much of the student body, custodians work hard during all hours of the day. These are their stories.

New Safety Protocol In light of nationwide school shootings, NPS rolls out new procedure for hostile events that gives teachers options for responding to emergencies

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inside this issue Sticker Craze 16 Unified Success Students and teachers stick unique decals to their belongings to add pizzazz to laptops, waterbottles, etc.

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Newton South HIGH School Newton, MA

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In its second season, the basketball team stands undefeated as testament to the power of friendship and inclusion

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NEWS

page 2|November 20, 2019|THE LION’S ROAR|issuu.com/thelionsroar

NEws@thelionsroar.com|VOLUME 36, ISSUE 4

South implements new hostile event procedure Caleb Lazar, Alex Merkowitz & Julian Phillips

News Editor, News Contributors Newton Public Schools (NPS) has implemented a new safety procedure this year for hostile events following a nationwide increase in school shootings. The program was developed in collaboration with Preparedness LLC, a contractor that designs safety plans for businesses and schools. The program adds a fourth procedure to the three existing safety protocols, Principal Joel Stembridge said. Already, there are protocols in place for evacuations, shelters in place and lockdowns. “A hostile event response would be the response we use if there were an active shooter or some other violent event that’s in our school community,” Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education and Special Programs Toby Romer said. Stembridge said that the hostile events procedure allows individual teachers to decide how their students will respond to dangerous situations. The procedure gives teachers three options: run, hide or fight. “It’s choice-based, instead of the other three protocols, which are all ‘when this happens, do this,’” Stembridge said. “The idea is that if there’s a crisis, instead of being passive or standing there stunned, you have a choice, and you can run, hide or fight.” While the procedure gives options, the decisions are made by teachers, not students. Senior Michael Lezhnin said he is skeptical that teachers will be able to maintain control of the situation, should it arise. “No one’s going to listen because no one has ever listened to a teacher at South,”

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he said. “I’d independently choose to hide. The teachers can leave, and I’ll lock the door behind them.” Junior Cindy Liu said she would rather make the decision herself. “How is South going to trust the teachers to have a suitable judgment in whether they should run, hide or fight?” she said. Despite these concerns, freshman Andrew Hsu said he supports the new protocol. “It’s good to be prepared, and I think it’s great that Newton is taking steps to be as prepared as we can be for the unfortunate event of a school shooter or other intruder

with strategies specific to South. “Our program has been customized for our school community, but the ideas that we will be introducing are based on the most effective research we have around these areas,” he said. South introduced the new procedure to students during a “safety day” held on Nov. 19. Although safety day involved simulating a hostile event procedure, the administration wanted to avoid creating fear-inducing situations for students, Romer said. “In designing everything about our

“ ” The idea is that if there’s a crisis, instead of being passive or standing there stunned, you have a choice, and you can run, hide or fight. Joel Stembridge Principal

into the school,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction.” The new hostile events procedure at NPS is part of a national trend of reforms in the way schools react to shooter threats, director of guidance Dan Rubin said. “There’s been a movement nationally toward these types of options-based approaches to school safety,” Rubin said. “When we have other school shootings that come up, people start to wonder if just going into lockdown makes people sitting targets if there’s an active shooter. Increasingly, the law enforcement community started to advocate for these options-based approaches.” Physics teacher Alexander Kraus, a member of the safety drill planning committee, said that the new hostile event procedure combines general options-based approaches

new emergency operations plan — the materials, the language, the way that we’re practicing in Newton — we were attempting to balance the safety of students and the feeling and perception of safety and to not traumatize students or adults while we’re doing drills,” he said. In order to make students and teachers comfortable, safety day did not include artificial threats, Stembridge said. “It’s meant to feel like a combination of lockdown and evacuation, but we’re not trying to create any scary situation. We wouldn’t have anybody in the building,” he said. “We wouldn’t bring that aspect of reality to our building.” Hsu said that he appreciates the efforts to make the learning process as reassuring as possible. The safety day will

also not involve instructions on how to fight, Stembridge said. “We are not practicing fighting,” he said. “I’m really concerned about the type of experiences that we provide our students here, and I do not at all want to be involved with traumatizing students or building a culture of fear.” Liu said that she thinks proper education on fighting is critical if it is to be given as an option in the event of an active shooter. “I feel like fighting shouldn’t be an option if they don’t teach us how to,” she said. Rubin said the new procedure is just one of many administrative efforts to protect students from violence at school. For instance, South installed keypads on all of the school’s doors last year to prevent intruders from entering the building. “The first instinct that a lot of law enforcement people have is to harden schools — make sure doors are locked, visitors need to be buzzed in, keypads on doors and so on,” Rubin said. Rubin said, however, that taking proactive steps to ensure that every student feels connected to the community and adults in the building is equally as important as physical measures in preventing violence. “Most acts of school violence are perpetrated by someone who is a part of that school community,” he said. “The more that we focus on making sure that we know students and that students feel connected to the school, the more we are going to protect ourselves from the possibility of violence.” The ultimate goal of these efforts is meant to ease students’ fears of violence in school, Kraus said. “My hope is that almost nothing will change in the day-to-day operations here at South,” Kraus said. “If anything, I hope students and faculty end up walking away from the day’s programming feeling a little more secure that they’ve had some exposure to the recent updates to safety protocols and that they feel like they’re in a safe building.”


THE LION’S ROAR|THELIONSROAR.COM|NEWS

City Election

NOVEMBER 20, 2019|page 3

Breakdown

The Roar’s Caleb Lazar and Eva Zacharakis interviewed winners of the Nov. 7 local elections. These are the highlights.

City Council, At-Large

City Council, At-Large Andrea Kelley

Jacob Auchincloss

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acob Auchincloss was re-elected to be Ward 2 city councilor at-large alongside Andrea Kelley. It will be his fourth term in office. He is also campaigning for the 2020 House of Representatives election. Prior to becoming a city councilor, Auchincloss served in the Marine Corps and worked in cybersecurity. He transitioned to working in local politics to serve and improve the Newton community. “One of the things that I like about the local level of governance is that it’s very solutions-oriented, not ideological,” he said. He said his campaign successes were a result of his reaching out to voters across Newton by canvassing and communicating through platforms like Facebook and email. Since elected, Auchincloss has been working to pass a transportation policy that aims to improve walkability and traffic congestion. He said he plans to continue pushing for transportation policy.

His plan would develop a city-wide approach to transportation, as opposed to the current system of different, small-scale initiatives throughout Newton. “Greater Boston has the worst traffic in the country, and the transportation sector accounts for up to 40% of the carbon pollution that causes global warming,” Auchincloss said. “It’s a challenge that we need to address both for the planet’s sake and also for local families.”

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ndrea Kelley is set to become city councilor at-large for Ward 3. She said she first decided to run when she saw the 2016 presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. “I was so upset about the animosity and contentiousness and lack of civil discourse, and I thought I could see that starting to happen at the local level,” Kelley said. “I wanted to be the voice of stability.” Her prior community involvement includes

Ward 6

Brenda Noel

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Ward 5

Bill Humphrey

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outh graduate Bill Humphrey won his first race for Ward 5 city councilor over South parent Kathy Winters by only 34 votes. “My biggest platform items are dealing with climate change at the local level, improving public transportation, getting more affordable housing and expanding city services,” he said. “I am a big believer in government services, making those the best they can be and keeping public services and public assets in public hands,” he said.

Humphrey said he based his campaign platform on conversations he had when canvassing during the past year. Though he lost his election for Governor’s Council in 2016, Humphrey said it taught him to connect with voters for this year’s election. “I know that a lot of people would like to get our roads fixed more quickly and add safety improvements to a lot of our streets,” he said.

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renda Noel defeated South parent Lisa Gordon to win re-election as a Ward 6 city councilor. During her first term in office, Noel served on the Finance Committee where she worked to draft an effective city budget. “There [were] some projects that we didn’t approve because we didn’t feel like [they] were fiscally responsible,” she said. Noel served on the Public Safety and Transportation Committee, reducing traffic and improving transport. She also worked on the Zoning Redesign and Development Committee to widen housing opportunities. Noel said she will support climate action and work to keep Newton from becoming increasingly unaffordable. “Without making deliberate choices at the local level, we’re just going to become more financially unattainable,” she said. “There are [many] different levers in the local government to make a community more welcoming to people of different abilities.”

Ward 8 Holly Ryan

Ruth Goldman uth Goldman defeated Galina Rosenblit to be elected for her sixth term for the Ward 6 School Committee seat. While Goldman focused her platform on negotiating a new teacher contract, rebuilding elementary schools and fixing overcrowding issues at school, Rosenblit’s platform was centered around combatting alleged antisemitism in NPS. During her time as chair of the School Committee from 2017 to 2019, Goldman reached a contract agreement with the NPS Custodians Association and increased student representative engagement in the School Committee.

being a member of the Pierce School PTO and President of the League of Women Voters. “I was interested in a wide range of local issues before running for office,” she said. Kelley works as a landscape designer, which she said will help her redraft zoning legislation and demolition ordinances as a city councilor. “Right now, development is a very hotly debated topic in Newton,” she said. “Zoning is really at the core of what can and cannot be done. It helps shape the look, the feel and the character of Newton.”

Goldman said that being a South parent makes her aware of issues facing students. “I have a much better sense of the daily ins and outs and ups and downs of how our high schools function,” she said. “I became aware of the vaping issue right after it started rather than waiting for a presentation at the School Committee.” Sophomore Lucy Powdermaker, Goldman’s daughter, said she helps her mom understand students’ needs from a different perspective. “I think I give her a separate way of looking at issues that she wouldn’t get from just hanging out with adults,” she said.

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olly Ryan won her uncontested election for Ward 8 city councilor. As a transgender woman, she said that her victory shows Newton’s acceptance. “The fact that I’m now going to be the first to the city councilor from the LGBTQ community is a testament to who we are in this city,” she said. Before running for city council, Ryan served as the LGBTQ liaison at the mayor’s office. She is a founding member and former co-chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, which helped pass the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Bill in 2011. Ryan also worked for six years

with Representative Kay Khan on a bill to ban conversion therapy in Massachusetts, which was passed this past March. “I’d like to see [a] teachers’ contract. I’m very pro-union,” she said. Ryan said she pushes boundaries to foster acceptance in the community. “I’ve always been one to go into spaces I’m not welcome in because you can’t educate if you don’t,” she said. Ryan plans to focus on zoning reform and affordable housing. “I’m a big believer that police, firemen, teachers and all public servants be able to live in the town that they work in,” she said. headshots courtesy of respective candidates’ websites


NEws ISSUU.COm/TheLionsroar The Lion’s Roar

page 4 November 20, 2019

Math department standardizes skipping process Julian Fefer, Jaesuh Lee & Arshia Verma News Editor, News Reporters

The summer before ninth grade, junior Akshay Ramana self-studied a year’s worth of math. “I skipped ninth-grade math because I had been going to the Russian School of Math since kindergarten, and the math that they teach there correlates pretty well to about a year ahead, so I figured there was no point in my doing math that I already knew,” he said. Ramana said that he feels he has been in the appropriate level ever since. “I can handle the workload, and I think I can handle the level of math,” he said. “Math is challenging, but it’s not really a huge problem for me.” Students who want to skip a level in math must get permission from their current math teacher, self-study over the summer and take an assessment in August to determine their mastery of the material. The minimum requirement to skip a grade is a score of 90% on the August assessment. In previous years, the benchmark was 80%, but it has since increased to ensure only students who show mastery of the material move on. Recently, a large

number of students have opted to skip sophomore math 2 ACP and take junior math 3 ACP to open up the possibility of taking the AP Calculus AB class during senior year. If students pass the assessment in August, they are enrolled in the next level for the fall. If not, the math department works with the students’ teachers to ensure they are being challenged. Unlike Ramana, who skipped the freshman year course to be in a more rigorous class, some students are skipping grades because they want to open up their schedules for more APs in later years. Junior Andrew Li, who skipped sophomore math, said some students skip grades forthe wrong reasons. “I think people skip a grade because there is a lot

of pressure to excel academically, and they just want to skip a grade for college or because their friends are as well,” he said. “I think that reason alone is not a reason to skip a grade.” Li said that though it worked out for him, other students enter the next course unprepared. “I don’t think skipping grades is the right fit for everyone because it requires a lot more commitment and work than if one were to not skip,” he said. “When you skip a grade, you condense a whole year of class time into a couple months of self-study, which means that you may not be as well-grounded in the subjects and you might struggle a lot more in the higher level class.” Math department head Divya Shannon said that skipping levels is not always the right choice. “I’ve seen an increasing number of students saying ‘I want to take calculus early because I’d like to be able to take another AP in senior year,’” she said. “Sometimes they are making the decision to compromise their math education in favor of being able to take more AP classes.” The math department has tried to prevent students from skipping grades due to the peer pressure to take AP calculus as early as possible. c by phi l Sh an n on gra a Hil m m Ge said that math teachers have tried to incorporate problem-solving into each level in order

to increase the value of each course. “We have been working really hard to make sure that our courses have a lot of problem solving content so skipping a course means you’re missing out on a lot,” she said. For the past few years, Shannon has worked with teachers to standardize the skipping process. “We actually took some time early last year to talk about our values and philosophies around it. Then, we developed some common language so that no matter which teacher you were talking to, you were having the same conversation,” she said. “Now we’re all actually asking the same questions, which is helping every student get the same message.” In these conversations, teachers and students discuss the student’s motives for skipping and assess whether skipping a grade is the best option. Ramana said he believes that these conversations undermine student initiative. “The teachers discourage you from skipping,” he said. “It’s a little frustrating because it’s a decision that might take me a long time to decide, and a math teacher is telling me for two minutes that I shouldn’t skip.” Shannon said that although skipping grades can be contentious, students who have a passion for math should feel comfortable skipping grades upon receiving recommendation from their teacher. “Generally, the students who are good candidates for skipping are the ones who have been invested in math and truly enjoy math,” she said. “They’re not necessarily doing it just to get ahead.” Li said that understanding one’s own capacity is the most important factor when determining whether or not to skip a grade in math. “You need to know yourself and your abilities,” he said. “You need to know how much you’re going to actually enjoy the process and the result.”

City councilor and mayoral wages set to rise Julian Fefer, Preethika Vemula & Sarah Wei News Editor, News Reporters

Newton City Councilors voted on Sept. 16 to increase their salaries by 59%, their first pay increase in over two decades. The process began in December 2018 when the City Council created a Blue Ribbon Commission, which is typically created when the city considers compensation increases for elected officials, to examine councilors’ salaries. In May 2019, the Blue Ribbon Commission suggested pay raises of 44% for councilors, 54% for School Committee members and 12% for the mayor. The Commission’s suggestions were reviewed by the Finance and Programs and Services committees on Sep. 9 and Sep. 4 respectively and came before the entire City Council on Sept. 16. The council passed pay increases of 59% for City Council and School Committee members — from $9,750 to $15,500 and $4,875 to $7,750 respectively — and 24% — from $125,000 to $155,000 — for the mayor. Prior to this year’s pay increase, city councilor and School Committee member salaries had remained unchanged since 1998, despite increases in Newton’s cost of living. On Sep. 26, however, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller vetoed the pay raise, the first mayoral

veto since 1999. On Oct. 7, the City Council voted 21-2 to override Fuller’s veto regarding mayoral and city councilor salary increases. They did not override Fuller’s veto of School Committee salaries, though they said they would revisit School Committee wages later in the year. The City Council pay hikes will go into effect in January 2020, while the mayoral

Pay rates for city councilors in Newton are some of the lowest in Massachusetts, City Councilor James Cote said. “Newton is $6,000 under some of the poorest cities in the state, and it just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. Junior vice president Andrew Li said that the city councilors deserve a raise for their hard work. “Their salaries should be increased

“ ” They have to juggle another job and they have to dedicate so much time to their job as a city councilor. Andrew Li junior class vice president

raise won’t go into effect until January 2022, as mayoral wage increases can’t go into effect until the term of the current mayor ends. City Councilor Greg Schwartz said he believes that many city councilors are underpaid, which discourages people from running for office. “Nobody does this work to get paid, but if you’re somebody who doesn’t have a lot of other ... resources, it might prevent [you] from serving,” he said. “It’s a very small amount. It’s less than $10,000.”

because their work is really time-intensive,” he said. “They have to juggle another job, and they have to dedicate so much time to their job as a city councilor.” Fuller, however, remains opposed to the salary raise because it forces Newton to cut from other expenses. “I believe in the appropriate compensation for elected officials, the reason being we want to attract people from a wide variety of backgrounds to serve in elected positions,” she said. “It came at a difficult time, when we

are in the process of negotiating with all of our unions, including our teacher’s union.” Junior Aidan Higgins said that the money going toward raises could be better allocated elsewhere. “Given the teachers’ current position, it’s not acceptable that city councilors are raising their own wages, especially given the disproportionality between the teachers’ requests and the city councilors’ demands,” he said. Cote, however, said that the City Council salary increase and contract issue are unrelated. Even if they were, the money required to raise councilors’ wages is inconsequential compared to that for teacher contracts, Cote said. “There’s no relationship whatsoever,” he said. “The whole City Council pay raise is equivalent to getting rid of one assistant superintendent at the Ed Center. The total budget is $350 million, so it’s not even a blip.” Cote said that it’s important that elected officials receive adequate compensation for their time and energy. “People automatically think, ‘Why do these elected officials need to be compensated?’” he said. “It’s like, let’s step back a little, and think, ‘Why would any professional work that many hours for no compensation while they’re taking away from their job and home and their family life?”


The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar NEWS

South Stage supports Perkinson Abigail Arndt, Sanjana Deshpande & Siya Patel

News Contributor, News Reporter, Features Editor Costume supervisor Paige Perkinson devotes an incredible amount of her time and energy to her students, both on and off stage, junior Elianna Kruskal, a member of South Stage, said. “She stays way later than she needs to, and she’ll go shopping on breaks with the costume designers to get costume pieces that they still need, even though it’s her day off,” he said. In 2017, Perkinson’s part-time position was cut down from a 0.6 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) to 0.5 FTE, and then again to 0.4 FTE in 2018. While Perkinson’s FTE was increased this year to 0.45 with the addition of a J-block costuming program, projected cuts suggested that she would soon be cut down again, this time to 0.3 FTE. Throughout October, South Stage families and students fought to restore her original status through letter-writing campaigns. On Oct. 31, Leary-Crist announced in an email that Perkinson’s position would be restored to 0.6 FTE. Perkinson said that while the cuts were in effect, she was not able to perform her job fully, despite her commitment to her students. “My goal is to train student costume designers and to act as their mentor so that they can, in theory, fly on their own, design on their own and run a show on their own, but having the safety net of a teacher and mentor is essential,” she said. “I’ve noticed that if and when I do try to step away, it makes their process worried or rushed or they just feel like they’re not getting quite the right support or feedback from me.” Theater department head Jeff Knoedler said the potential cut in Perkinson’s salary reflected the school’s perception of her value. “It seems as though being asked by the institution you work for to do the same amount for less money year after year means

that the institution doesn’t really value your contribution,” he said. Perkinson is not the only one in the theater department that was affected by the budget cuts. Cheryl Stober, the communications manager of the South Stage Parent Group, said that she is concerned that cuts have impacted theater participation. “There are already kids who don’t get to participate due to the cuts as they exist,” she said. “To not give those extra kids the opportunity when the arts have shown to have a great impact not just on a child’s sense of community but on test scores and their ability to do well in school … doesn’t feel right to me.” If funding continued to decrease, South Stage would be forced to limit opportunities for students to be in productions, Perkinson said. “The constant reduction and no promise of restoration means I am going to have to reduce my labor,” she said. “The only way to ensure that labor is reduced is by reducing the number of costumes made. And how do you do that? You reduce the number of actors you have to costume, and you reduce the number of shows you have to work on.” There is a resource gap between the after-school theater programs at Newton North and at Newton South. North has 2.6 total FTE in the theater department while South only has 1.4 total FTE. Student costumes leader senior Isabel Flessas said this difference is unrecognized. “It really disappoints me because I know that the work that I put on stage is probably going to be directly compared to the work that [North] puts on stage, and people probably don’t realize the disparity in resources that there is between the two

schools,” she said. Stembridge said that the discrepancy in school theater funding is largely due to how each school chooses to allocate the funding provided by the School Committee. Due to a growing student body, the available funding has decreased. “We have more students with the same amount of money. We had to tighten our belts a little bit,” Stembridge said. “I do want to support theater, but I also have to fund the entire building.” In response to the budget cuts, the South Stage Parent Group, as well as students and alumni, urged Stembridge, assistant superintendent Toby Romer and the School Committee to restore the funding. Flessas said she campaigned through social media to encourage students and alumni to write letters to the School Committee. Along with the community’s efforts, both Knoedler and fine and performing arts department head Megan Leary-Crist worked to return Perkinson’s position to 0.6 FTE and restore theater department funding. “Mr. Knoedler and Ms. Crist were looking at the budget that we do have, and they were able to make some adjustments. We are going to be taking some funds that are in a stipend account and moving them over to the costuming,” Stembridge said. “Mr. Knoedler, as well as Ms. Crist and I, felt it was important if we could make this switch.” Kruskal said he is thrilled that Perkinson’s position and the department’s funding have been restored. “All our hard work really paid off,” he said. “Ms. Perkinson really deserves that, and overall South Stage will be better.” Perkinson said South Stage is now a stronger community. “Our community was banding together to make our voices heard about something we value, and it was nice to feel heard.”

November 20, 2019 Page 5

South Spots Mattress Sale At the Fall Festival Concert on Nov. 7, the fine and performing arts department unveiled its quick moneymaking scheme. The plan is simple: South is hosting a mattress sale in which an outside company will sell mattresses. Their homebase will be Gym B. Students who refer customers to the sale will receive “NSHS Aesthetics Department” sweaters. If you go to the Nov. 24 sale, please say you were referred by news editors Julian Fefer and Caleb Lazar.

PTSO Breakfast The PTSO held its annual teacher appreciation breakfast on Nov. 12. At least the PTSO, unlike the city government, makes sure our teachers don’t starve. Like the teacher contract negotiations, however, the event had some difficulties: Cutler House failed to send parent volunteers to set up and clean up, boding poorly for their performace in this year’s House Cup. If you’re a Cutler parent, you better watch your back.

Powderpuff

photo by Netta Dror

Perkinson prepares costumes for South Stage. Administration attempted to cut her position, but student and parent activism helped to restore it.

Junior and senior girls will go head to head in their annual Powderpuff game on Nov. 27. The girls will foster class spirit by harassing their rivals in the build up to the big game before viciously tackling each other in their “no-contact” football faceoff. Principal Joel Stembridge’s refusal to acknowledge Powderpuff as a schoolsanctioned event will protect South from liability when a junior is inevitably crippled. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on class Facebook groups.


EDITORIALS page 6|November 20, 2019|THE LION’S ROAR|issuu.com/thelionsroar

editorials@thelionsroar.com|VOLUME 36, ISSUE 4

Powderpuff controversey exposes spirit dilemma Every year, on the last school day before Thanksgiving, juniors and seniors, dressed head to toe in blorange jerseys, head out to a field after the pep rally to battle it out in the annual illicit inter-grade brawl — Powderpuff. Since 2013, the tradition that used to take place on the football field has been banned from school property for inciting violence and hostility among upperclassmen, especially girls. This year, the administration ended the fall lip dub, first created in 2017 with the intent to replace the traditional pep rally, and instead held a pep rally on Oct. 4. The action seemed to imply that the administration hopes to keep spirits mellow and discourage the notorious Thanksgiving event. The change, however, is futile. The October pep rally fell flat, and upperclassmen have nevertheless prepared for the upcoming game. Powderpuff will take place as an inevitable manifestation of class rivalry and student tradition. The game has long departed from its original intentions to spark friendly competition. Over the last few years, without administrative oversight, Powderpuff has evolved into a dangerous activity, with an increase in injuries and illegal substance use. Moving the event off school property has not eradicated the tradition. Neither has changing the pep rally date. If the admin-

istration’s goal is to foster school spirit and protect students from injury and substance use, then it should sanction Powderpuff. At many schools in neighboring towns, Powderpuff thrives as a great showing of school spirit and class pride; we believe it can be restored at South. It’s not so simple, however. The powderpuff controversy runs into the larger issue of school spirit. Year after year, students bring back the game against administrative caution because they seek freedom in defining school spirit for themselves. For some students, sports games like powderpuff are the obvious answer, but to those who prefer a less rowdy atmosphere, such events fail to fill the void of school spirit. South is home to a student body with diverse interests, not just athletics. Although football games are an important facet of spirit, it is imperative that our administration takes a cue from its own students and expand its spirit events. At South, spirit doesn’t always look like obtrusive mismatches of blue and orange, cheering crowds in the field house, or students lip-syncing to an overplayed pop song. A significant number of students skipped the October pep rally, while a similar mass

was locked outside the auditorium doors to Tertulia last year. Talent shows and cultural festivals exemplify untraditional ways students have celebrated their community and should receive more support from the administration. One thing is for sure: school spirit cannot be contrived. By encouraging school spirit, the administration should adhere to its own values: take responsibility in protecting powderpuff players, and listen first to its

student body when planning new events. For now, this means regulating the powderpuff game and embracing student participation in the activity. Simple observations of students’ hobbies and attendance at school events can provide insights into the school culture. Until the administration stands behind events that reflect the multitude of student interests, students will continue celebrating their class through unnecessarily dangerous events.

Volume XXXVI The Lion’s Roar Newton South High School’s Student Newspaper 140 Brandeis Road Newton, MA 02459 Srstaff@thelionsroar.com

Editors-in-Chief Jennifer Wang Dina Zeldin

Managing Editors

Send an Email to srstaff@thelionsroar.com for more details Editorial Policy

The Lion’s Roar, founded in 1984, is the student newspaper of Newton South High School, acting as a public forum for student views and attitudes. The Lion’s Roar’s right to freedom of expression is protected by the Massachusetts Student Free Expression Law (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 71, Section 82). All content decisions are made by student editors, and the content of The Lion’s Roar in no way reflects the official policy of Newton South, its faculty or its administration. Editorials are the official opinion of The Lion’s Roar, while opinions and letters are the personal viewpoints of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lion’s Roar. The Lion’s Roar reserves the right to edit all submitted content, to reject advertising copy for resubmission of new copy that is deemed acceptable by student editors and to make decisions regarding the submission of letters to the editors, which are welcomed. The Lion’s Roar is printed by Seacoast Newspapers and published every four weeks by Newton South students. All funding comes from advertisers and subscriptions. In-school distribution of The Lion’s Roar is free, but each copy of the paper shall cost one dollar for each copy more than ten (10) that is taken by any individual or by many individuals on behalf of a single individual.

Peri Barest Carrie Ryter

Section Editors News

Opinions

Julian Fefer Caleb Lazar

Centerfold

Features

Copy Editor

Sophie Goodman Shoshi Gordon Ellyssa Jeong Siya Patel

Graphics Managers Gemma Hill Emily Zhang

Sophie Lewis

Rachael Wei

Business Managers Fletcher Smyth

Faculty Advisor Ashley Chapman

Isabel Flessas Chunyu He Anya Lefkowitz Gillian Tobin

Sports

Dorra Guermazi Aron Korsunsky Jackson Slater

Photo Manager Netta Dror


November 20, 2019 Page 7

The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar editorials

Finding unfettered space for EDITOR’S reflection and dreaming in journaling DESK from the

Dina Zeldin Editor in Chief

The other day, my older sister came home with a 30-year finance plan. In her presentation, she outlined how she’ll apportion her future incomes to savings, housing, loans, car payments, an emergency fund and so on. My dad had plenty of questions and suggestions, but I found it uncomfortable to talk of a future so distant. When I imagine what I’ll be like four years from now, let alone 30, my vision is still foggy. But, I can wipe away the condensation. Senior year presents a short span of time to anticipate what comes next. In my diary, I can draft out a skeleton of myself, and outside of it, I can work to become her, skin and flesh. I started journaling in August, part of my larger goal to become more introspective. Or, perhaps I was inspired by a friend who showed me her notebook, each page covered in thick, illegible black ink. Mine is a small, grid paperback covered in smudged pencil streaks, equally illegible. It fits snuggly in between the other folders and notebooks I carry, so small that it practically slips through the cracks of my to-do list. It’s a habit that comes and goes: scribbling anecdotes and subject-less love letters, I have filled pages, only to then give my hobby a holiday, finding time to write just one sentence in the span of several weeks. I like my self-reflection as volatile as it is — insight

and introspection can’t be forced. Part of what’s so great about keeping a diary is how free language becomes. I have reverted to pencil on paper, where there is no thesaurus waiting in another tab. What comes to mind spontaneously is what I write down. The words come naturally and are exactly what I am thinking. In essays and other assignments, I am pressured to be succinct in my word choice. When I journal, words flow without a backspace key, without doubt. Perhaps they

In my journal, I keep track of hopes for the future, no strings attached on meeting them. My goals in the past were always metric. I could graph GPA and sleep vs. time, and a few quick clicks on my TI-84 could measure what I accomplished. But the x-axis has almost ended now. There’s a finality to senior year: everything that could have been done was done in the manner it was and set in stone; nothing this year could drastically change three years of hard work. Sure, I’ll slump, but what comes next?

“ ” Senior year presents a short span of time to anticipate what comes next. In my diary, I can draft a skeleton of myself, and outside of it, I can work to become her, skin and flesh.

are less precise, but they are more accurate. Mostly, I write about the future. It’s something that has been vague throughout the past three years, but as high school wraps up in the coming months, the future draws closer. I am already living in the future I imagined on the eve of freshman year. It’s senior year, I know how to drive, and I have found my place in a building of 2,000. It’s a reality that seemed far away not too long ago. I forget what I expected, but I wish I knew.

As I journaled through the fall, one sentence I stumbled across online struck me: “Writing lets you put a stop on the clock to reflect what is and what was. And that’s invigorating.” And empowering. Reflection has allowed me to think forward, to move on from my perceived failures or successes in what is and was, onto what will be. Who am I? Who do I want to be? These questions are too big to tackle in one sitting. Journaling allows for revision as I shift from one state of self to the next, as I wax and wane

from phase to phase. For the past four years, my New Year’s resolution was to moisturize my elbows. Five days into every January, I would lose the Aveeno bottle and spend the next 360 days waiting to buy a new one and try again. But a realization came: would I spend the rest of my life hoping to be someone who remembers to moisturize? Hoping for — but not being — that girl? I was limiting myself by leaving the future so nebulous instead of carving a clear path toward it. Could I only find better habits once the clock strikes midnight on December 30? It feels unreasonable to expect such radical change, even if it is as trivial as dry elbows. The future can start once I set myself up to succeed, and a journal offers a year-round space to create those guidelines. I’m proud to report that since school started, I have moisturized both my face and my elbows every night. New habits can start without arbitrary constructs. The act of writing allows one to be more thoughtful, to acknowledge thoughts and daydreams rather than let them be forgotten. It’s also proactive. When I am myself four — or 30 years — from today, I will want to know what I expected it to be like, to move from high school to college, and from college to whatever comes next. The future is set on its course to come closer, and I’m excited to chronicle everything I think until it’s finally here.

JOIN THE R AR Come to a meeting any Monday J block in room 1201 to see what The Roar has to offer:

Photos

Improve your technique by shooting sports games, school events and staged illustrations.

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Conduct interviews, report on compelling topics or write about your own opinions.

Draw, paint or use digital techniques to create pieces that accompany printed articles.

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OPINIONS page 8|november 20, 2019|THE LION’S ROAR|issuu.com/thelionsroar

opinions@thelionsroar.com|VOLUME 36, ISSUE 4

SHOULD TEACHERS VOICE THEIR POLITICAL OPINIONS?

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ould you rather live in a society of informed citizens who often engage in politics or one in which politics are subjected to the backburner? You would think that Americans would value the former, but according to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center, only 30% of Americans ages 18-24 voted in the 2018 midterm elections. The road to creating a politically informed and engaged population should start in the classroom, where one’s ideas about the world take shape. Teachers play a vital part in nurturing these developing ideas, and they should be able to foster political discussion by voicing their own political opinions, which would lead to more personal interest and inquiry among students. Teachers’ openness would encourage student’s political conversation in and out of the classroom, provided that teachers share their political beliefs for educational purposes and not simply to force their own ideologies on students. First of all, it is imperative to establish the legality of teachers’ rights to free speech. Not only does the First Amendment protect free speech, but the Supreme Court also ruled in Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) that public employees, such as public school teachers, “do not relinquish their right to speak out on matters of public importance, or public concern, simply because they have accepted government employment.” Evidently, all educators have the right of freedom of expression. But why is teachers’ right to free expression especially important? Since teachers are respected and trusted, students would form much stronger connections and responses to their arguments than to those of random online people or the mainstream media. Teachers’ arguments are more meaningful and relatable, encouraging students to participate and become engaged in the conversation. Even if a teacher has a different interpretation of a common fact, students will learn different perspectives of a given issue and how the opposing side uses their own reasoning and evidence to reach different

YES

NO

By Mike Sun

By Ari Gordon

conclusions. Teachers can be more passionate about their own opinions and thus give better reasoning and arguments to support their beliefs. Teachers voicing their opinions not only fosters better discussion, but it can also challenge students to form their own opinions, tolerate others’ opinions and learn to debate respectfully. Teachers’ views also helps students understand that teachers are not just obsessed with handing out grades, but they actually care about politics, discussions and students’ personal development. If students can understand that teachers have political views and beliefs, then teachers become more relatable to students. A healthy student-to-teacher relationship is essential in high school. One way to encourage and facilitate this relationship is by allowing teachers the freedom to express their views in class. Colleges all across America and the world are infamous hotbeds for freedom of expression and freedom of political opinions. By the time students are in high school, they should be exposed to new and different political ideas. Although teachers may have unique perspectives on political issues, overall, teachers can present a justified political view. History teachers, for instance, are often more educated in the field of politics; they are a reliable source for students who are interested in other peoples’ political opinions. We need teachers who are willing to discuss politics now because of the lack of political discussions we have at South. As long as teachers respect the opinions of all students, discussing politics can foster many interesting conversations in the classroom that will encourage students to pursue political engagement outside of the classroom. It is teachers’ duty to guide students to become active members of our society, and the best way to do that is by facilitating political discourse in class.

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olitics: it’s the best and worst topic known to man, the creator, and destroyer of friendships, but ultimately, it is the universal outlet for people to express their opinions. With politics being such an important part of our lives, we must ask ourselves where to draw the line, especially at school, where students do most of their learning. Who knows what allowing teachers share their opinions in class could affect the learning environment in school? The line should be drawn at the door because the classroom is a place for learning facts, not opinions, potentially dangerous ones at that. Although it is imperative for kids to have a strong understanding of how the world functions in order to develop a strong moral compass and become upstanding citizens, it must be done without teachers expressing their personal opinions during class. Political opinions aren’t factual, they are simply an individual’s beliefs. Therefore, people will always have varying opinions on certain political issues, good or bad. School is not meant to teach students about people’s opinions about the world, rather to simply learn about facts about the world. In an ideal world, everyone would agree. In such an environment where everyone has the same political opinion, teachers sharing their opinions could not have any negative effects on their students; however, that is not the case. If a teacher has a particularly radical view, it may have a strong, almost dangerous impact on some students. Moreover, people tend to state their political opinions as facts, when in reality they are almost all based on personal experiences and perspectives. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the difference between expressing personal political opinions and political facts. Even if teachers heavily stress that their opinion is just an opinion, students will still perceive their opinions as facts because teachers have power at

school. This power dynamic can deny students the chance to form their own views. Of course this does not mean that teachers should refrain from political discussions, as it is vital to ensure their students are politically-informed. If a teacher is in favor of a specific idea or group, they must show all sides of the argument. Sharing fair information extends further than just partisan opinions. Teachers should present nonpartisan opinions, official sources as well as the opinions of those well educated on the topic. If a teacher is in support of President Trump’s potential impeachment, for instance, then they should be allowed to facilitate a class discussion about the issue, but only while stating facts, thereby leaving space for students to form their own opinions. This balance between facts and equal reasoning from all sides would allow students to form their own opinions, devoid of a subjective belief telling them exactly how to think and feel. Although there is no law prohibiting teachers from sharing their opinion in a public school, it is South’s choice for what teachers are allowed to say or do in the end, as federal law protects the firing of someone based on race, religion, and gender, but not political affiliation. In a city like Newton, where only around 30% of all registered voters are Republicans, the majority of citizens are left-leaning. Therefore, most teachers in Newton are going to be liberal, and very few are going to disagree with the students who grew up in the city. However, in places with close ratios between different political parties, conflicts and disagreements often occur among students and parents. Having teachers share their political beliefs in public school will widen the political divide in such communities, as it is potentially harmful for students’ growing minds. Teenagers can learn just as much from one another as they can from a teacher, so it is vital that teachers create a safe environment in which students can develop and share their own political opinions, rather than listen and follow to someone else’s.

photo illustration by Netta Dror and Emily Zhang


november 20, 2019 Page 9

The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar opinions

Superheroes are Overlooked and Underrated by brad chavin

You may have recently heard that Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, famous film professionals, have bashed superhero films, calling them “not cinema” and comparing them to theme parks. Scorsese compares these movies to theme parks to suggest there is no meaning in rides or thrills and that this art form is meaningless. However, their claims are false. Superhero movies indeed have cinematic value, as they serve as parables, highlighting modern-day issues prevalent in our society. The characters in these movies, as well as the situations in which they find themselves, teach the audience meaningful lessons that can better their lives. Superhero movies are truly morality plays and not just melodramatic roller coaster rides full of computer-generated imagery. In Brian Singer’s “X-Men: First Class,” mutants, genetically different humans that are granted unique powers, are treated as second-class citizens and, therefore, are perceived as less human than others. It is not until a small group of these mutants enter a special division of the CIA that they are treated with respect, as all humans should be. Despite the plentiful dramatization and action in the movie, its core lesson is that there is strength in diversity; the movie teaches that it is incorrect and immoral to

look at someone differently because of how they were born. For instance, when Charles Xavier and Mystique, two mutants, meet for the first time, Mystique is afraid of Charles’ opinion of her true form — a blue-skinned woman with scales. Charles,

overcome adversity. The film “Green Lantern” serves as yet another example of a superhero movie with cinematic value. It teaches the importance of self-confidence. The movie’s protagonist, Hal Jordan, struggles with

however, welcomes her, saying that he is glad that he is not the only one in the world that is different. This scene illustrates that we are all individuals with our own strengths and that this same individuality helps us

being chosen to wield a power derived from the strength of his will, for he lacks confidence in his abilities. Over the course of the film, Jordan is faced with the impossible obstacle of saving the Earth from Parallax, a super-

villian who sucks the power of fear out of a planet, and is a seemingly unbeatable threat. Through a series of tests, which includes vanquishing a powerful foe, Jordan is able to to prove to himself that his fear was never a weakness at all, but his greatest strength. Through this central message, the audience realizes that with a little perseverance and self-confidence, one can accomplish their goals. Furthermore, the widely popular “Avengers: Endgame” has another important lesson. In this film, a multitude of heroes come together to face an almost unvanquishable adversary. In contrast to the series’ previous film, “Avengers: Infinity War,” which showed that when the Avengers split into different factions, they lose, “Avengers: Endgame” argues that, when all of the heroes use their diverse powers to work together, they win the day and save the universe. This conveys a message of unity and individual contributions, regardless of personal origins. Despite Scorsese and Coppola’s erroneous opinions, with a little more scrutiny, it is clear that superhero movies are more complex than emotionally superficial amusement parks. Superhero movies reach far deeper than critics suggest and ttouch on the ethical issues that we all struggle with.

Choose Your Own Adventure, Schedule-style by Matan Josephy and Rose Plottel Most freshmen can remember the moment that we fully realized we would be entering high school. It was in February of this year, and the eighth grade classes of Oak Hill and Brown Middle Schools began what most teachers dubbed the “high school transition process.” For the next two months, we were bombarded with placement tests, course sheets and small, yet persistent ,reminders of our upcoming move. While this sudden overload certainly gave us and others a much more anxietyfilled impression of high school than what we previously expected, it also filled us with a sense of excitement. After the tightly controlled and restrictive schedule we had in middle school, the prospect of choosing what classes we took and what subjects we studied seemed like a dream. Upon entering South, however, we were hit with the reality of the situation — the hope for freedom in choosing much of our schedules would likely not materialize for years. Instead, we would again be bound by a curriculum that seemed to have little reason for its structure and only served to restrain our intellectual curiosity and passion for certain subjects. Now, this isn’t to say that South solely consists of a strictly regulated order of courses. In fact, it’s important that we take note of how lucky we are to attend a school with dozens of elective offerings, many of which are catered to students’ specific interests. Most schools across the country don’t have South’s same caliber of theater, engineering or art departments, and the opportu-

nities that these classes offer enable students to explore countless interests and passions that may extend beyond the confines of the classroom. Nevertheless, this doesn’t change the fact that, for certain departments, the current course outline and inflexibility is more flawed than helpful—it must be changed. Currently, there is a common misconception among freshmen at South that the course overview is built carefully, so as to ensure that every class builds directly off of material taughtthe previous year. While this typically holds true for math classes, it doesn’t take much

observation to realize that in other departments this building block method simply does not work. For instance, in the science department, while some chapters of chemistry do require prior knowledge from physics, the connection proves insignificant in comparison to the amount of unrelated material in the course. The same relationship exists between chemistry and biology; while some aspects of the two do overlap, the lack of deep interrelation between the two disciplines in South’s curriculum fails to justify the structure in place. If South allowed underclassmen to decide which classes they

take and when — within the constraints of graduation requirements — then students would receive a more individualized education. Students would have the opportunity to take classes with a more varied subset of South’s community. Students would be exposed to subjects that they find interesting earlier on, subsequently laying the groundwork for future interests or career paths. Classes like psychology, neurobiology and astronomy are all only available to seniors, yet cover topics that, if taken earlier, would likely only benefit students by enabling them to further expose themselves to topics that they consider interesting, potentially increasing engagement and encouraging students to do well in class. Although the current structure focuses on developing the skills necessary to be successful students and aims to teach students fundamental methods of approaching problems and hypothetical situations, implementing a more flexible academic pathway would increase the scope of knowledge and skills present in classrooms. Students would be exposed to a wider variety of perspectives, thus learning valuable new ways to approach their schoolwork and collaborate with their peers. From having students choose their own paths freshman or sophomore year, to simply freeing up more upperclassmen electives and making the order of classes more flexible, there are a wide variety of ways to address the current situation and change it to benefit everyone.


Opinions ISSUU.COm/TheLionsroar The Lion’s Roar

page 10 November 20, 2019

CRASH COURSE

COMMUNITY Getting in a car accident changed my view of the South community By Isabel Flessas By Isabel Flessas

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ne moment, I was turning off of Brandeis Road on my way home from a Friday afternoon of costuming, singing along to the “This Is: Queen” playlist on Spotify, and the next moment, my lungs were filled with chemical dust that tasted of burnt rubber and smoke. Another car flew in my direction, smashing into the front of my car and effectively obliterating the bumper and what lay beneath it. I stumbled out of my car as soon as I processed what had happened. A passerby stopped at the scene and coached me through the next few minutes. I began to cry as I talked to my mom on the phone and sat in the shade waiting for her to arrive. Police cars began multiplying with every minute, and, although everyone involved was safe, first responders seemed to be the product of spontaneous generation. I had never seen so many ambulances and police cars on one street,

nevermind for any reason related to me. At some point, one of the policemen asked me to go turn my car off. I hadn’t even realized that “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” was still blasting out of the slightly lowered car window, only yards away from where I sat crying. In the coming days, my life became

seatbelt, and wearing my backpack hurt. I couldn’t seem to get through a single class without seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling everything that had happened only three days prior. It was like a video loop in my head, playing over and over again, and then once more. The car would speed around the corner and then crash into me without fail.

“ ” While students at South may not consider themselves lions for life, or deck themselves out in blorange for every football game, they sure do care about the people around them.

more interesting than it had ever been. My arm was in a sling, and my friends and family were coming over to check on me periodically. My entire body ached deeper than it ever had before. It turns out that being in a car crash feels like a really intense workout — except your body ends up covered in bruises, and you don’t get any abs. Going back to school on Monday took another toll on me physically. My collar bones had rug burn from the jerk of t h e

The cabin would fill with ashen dust, and I would examine my fingers, only to see that they had small bloody scrapes on them. I would emerge from the car, and it would all happen again. This is the point at which I will tell you why I’m writing this article. People get in car accidents all of the time. However, I am pleased to report that the community at South has exceeded my expectations with the care they have shown me since my accident. Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, but wait, doesn’t South have a chronic deficiency of “school spirit?” Didn’t South hire someone specifically to treat this issue and promote the public school equivalent of nationalism? Well, if my car accident has taught me anything, it’s that South has a richer, more supportive community than most people give it

credit for. In my time here, I’ve gotten to know a handful of kids, most of whom overlap with me in the activities I’m involved in. Outside of The Roar and South Stage, many faces in the hall remain unknown to me, even after four years here. Therefore, I was surprised when I returned to school on the Monday following the accident. Word had quickly spread over the weekend about what had happened the previous Friday, and I was met with many questions. While at first, the natural curiosity of my classmates was what I expected, things took a more emotional turn; some of my classmates — people I had never talked to much before — were telling me how glad they were that I was OK. In fact, those around me almost seemed more shaken than I felt, even though I was the one involved in an accident. Even days after I had first shown up with my arm in a sling, the kids who sat next to me in every class were asking how I was doing. In fact, even a week or two after, people were still telling me how glad they were that I was OK. When I gave a presentation in AP Biology, there were numerous (yet unrelated) questions about how I was doing. Whenever I bumped into a classmate who I hadn’t seen in a while, even if we were just acquaintances, I was greeted with a concerned “how is your arm doing” or “have you gotten a new car yet?” I received an outpouring of Schoology messages from teachers, some of whom I haven’t talked to in years, checking in on me. In fact, as recently as I write this article — almost a month after my accident — there are still people checking in on me. This strange support network that had once been invisible to me has completely changed the way I view South and my peers as a whole. While students at South may not consider themselves lions for life or deck themselves out in blorange for every football game, they sure do care about the people around them. Since my accident, I’ve taken note of how often kids at South come together, even if they don’t know each other very well. Whether they are rooting for a snow day, mourning their grades after a pop quiz in Bio or supporting a classmate after they suffer a loss in the family, South students care deeply about each other — even if they don’t always show it. So, to end on a rather cheesy note, to those of you at South who feel like nobody out there cares about you, I can promise you that they do, and I hope you can find that out for yourself someday. Let’s just hope that your uncle’s car doesn’t get totaled in the process.

mma y Ge hic b grap

Hill


November 20, 2019 Page 11

The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar Opinions

UPGRADE

9 Listening to Christmas music without judgment Roar to NSPA Black Friday deals

campus chatter The Lion’s Roar asked ...

What’s your most awkward holiday memory? “We didn’t have a turkey for Thankgiving Dinner because my grandmother forgot to turn the oven off. ”

- Finn Kennedy, Class of 2021

“I went to a party, and my family left early without anyone noticing.”

Friendsgiving

- Lily Smith, Class of 2023

Flexing your Canada Goose jacket Starbucks holiday drinks Downloading snow day calculator Pumpkin pie

9

DOWNGRADE

College Supplements Below-freezing weather Sunsets at 4 p.m. Awkward family get-togethers Cranberry sauce Watching classmates attempt No-Shave November Snow that turns to rain No pep rally

photos by Netta Dror and Chunyu He

Soylent: A First Taste By Piper Kelton and Gillian Tobin Soylent, which The New York Times described as a “contrarian food replacement company,” was founded by Rob Rhinehart in 2014. Marketing itself to bustling Silicon Valley employees and other young urban professionals, Soylent strives to provide its consumers with all the nutrients of a well-balanced meal in liquid form. For people too busy to sit down for an entire meal, one bottle contains 400 calories, 20 grams of plant-based protein and 26 vitamins and minerals. Soylent is sold in a variety of flavors, including Original, Cacao, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Mint Chocolate. In our review, we opted for the Café Vanilla flavor, which like all Soylent flavors belonging to the Café line, contains approximately 150 mg of caffeine, roughly equivalent to one cup of coffee. Our expectations before the first sip were quite dismal. The Huffington Post called Soylent “offensively bad,” while Arwa Mahdawi of The Guardian claims to have “poisoned herself in the name of research” by sampling the beverage. Surprisingly, we did not find Soylent to be as terrible as critics had initially led us to believe.

Its consistency was slightly thicker than that of a glass of milk, and its flavor mirrored a coffeebased drink you might order from Starbucks. The hint of vanilla in it was delightful, especially for those who do not always appreciate coffee’s typically harsh bitterness. Its chalky aftertaste, however, was a bit unpleasant. While we cannot imagine replacing three meals a day with Soylent, we recognize its merits as an alternative for its intended audience: working professionals who find the process of chewing and swallowing solid food to be all too time-consuming. For other demographics like the environmentally conscious, however, Soylent does not necessarily deliver. Soy was chosen as its primary protein base because of its environmental sustainability and bioavailability compared to other proteins — a step in the right direction. But since Soylent is predominantly sold on online retailers like Amazon, shipping and packaging processes create a carbon footprint that negates this sustainability. Thus, if you are on a mission to save the planet through your diet, it’s prob-

ably better to eat local or go vegetarian or vegan instead. While Soylent fulfills a niche in food consumption that we did not even know existed, the beverage is unexciting and hardly revolutionary. Its slogan,“drinking your breakfast,” only appeals to specific demographics, and it’s minimally ecofriendly. Maybe trying Soylent will bring you excitement at first, but we doubt this product will change your life.

photo courtesy of Soylent

Soylent: An Addiction By Ryan Normandin, Physics and Math teacher I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to review each of the flavors of Soylent that have danced across my taste buds during my extended flirtation with what might become the future of food. All flavors are a similar consistency: a bit thicker than skim milk, but certainly thinner than a milkshake. When you guzzle it down your gullet, instead of becoming full, you simply stop feeling hungry. Original (2/10): The Original flavor is, in fact, defined more by its complete lack thereof. Original Soylent is not quite unpleasant to drink, but I could certainly see the slight flavor that does exist to be a tad off-putting to some. When I first tasted Original, I was disappointed. While I was prepared to enter into a relationship with this new way of obtaining nutrients, it looked to be bland and boring, and I became skeptical

that things would work out. Cacao (10/10): Then, everything changed. I discovered that Original was not the only option; there was also a chocolate flavor! The chocolate drink is smooth, rich, and subtle. There is a hint of sweetness, but it is far from being too sweet. It tastes like a slightly less sweet, thicker version of Nesquik. Once I discovered chocolate, I gave away my remaining Original bottles and haven’t looked back since. Strawberry (5/10): Cacao was satisfying all of my nutritional needs, but then, one summer in San Francisco, I discovered Strawberry. I couldn’t resist and ordered a case to spice things up. The first bottle I had was unpleasant. It lured me in with its sweet scent, calling up childhood memories of strawberry milkshakes, but it had a bitter aftertaste that ruined the experience. Now

strange the thing was: the more I drank it, the more the flavor grew on me, and the aftertaste faded. While Strawberry isn’t my favorite and requires some getting used to, it is certainly an option worth considering. Vanilla (7/10): Vanilla is exactly what you would expect. It tastes vanilla, looks vanilla and smells vanilla. While not as outright delicious as Cacao, I certainly enjoy mixing things up by gulping down a Vanilla a couple times a week. Mint Chocolate (10/10): It smells like ice cream and doesn’t taste too much worse. This flavor is brand new and absolutely incredible. It’s sweeter than chocolate, and I’m trying to figure out whether I can drink it all day without getting sick of it. I suspect the answer is yes. This flavor is as, or more, delicious as chocolate, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.


BEHIND THE

SCENES Anonymous to much of the student body, custodians work during all hours of the day. These are their stories. By Sophie Lewis Photos by Dina Zeldin

O

n Thursday, Nov. 7, a student broke the glass panel on one of the cafeteria’s vending machines. Those who heard the crash swarmed the scene, curious about who did it and scheming about the best way to snag free Welch’s fruit snacks. As administrators rushed to keep students away from the damaged property, one figure stood out, unruffled by the chaos. A 64-year-old custodian with neatly combed graying hair, parted to the side, and a slightly hunched back, Paul Rush had begun his daily routine of cleaning the 6000s when a voice on his walkie talkie summoned him to the frenzied scene. Between excited students and flustered administrators, he stood calmly in the mess, methodically sweeping away the glass shards that littered the hallway tiles. For Rush, this was just another day on the job, another hour spent picking up the pieces left by students who disrespect their surroundings. Like the other dozen or so custodians at South, he works hard behind the scenes, committed to keeping the building clean. He receives little appreciation in return. At 11 a.m. nearly every day of the year, Rush arrives promptly to start his day. He said he takes great pride in keeping the building as spotless as can be, occasionally staying past the end of his shift at 7 p.m. to finish cleaning. Other custodians sometimes tease him for being a slow worker, but Rush said that he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’ve noticed that if I keep everything clean, people respect it, understand it and don’t make things as messy as they were,” he said.

A Winding Road

Very rarely does someone set out in life to become a custodian, and Paul Rush is no exception. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 1982, he found a job overseeing Verizon’s payphones. That department was quickly shut down, but Rush continued to work hard and was promoted to project manager at the company. He survived three rounds of downsizing, but when the fourth round of cuts came a few years ago, Rush, almost 60, was let go. Initially, he considered becoming a construction worker because of his experience renovating his Watertown home (twice). The prospect of spending every day outdoors in New England weather, however, quickly turned him away from the idea. So, he became a custodian for the Newton Public Schools, first working at Pierce Elementary School and then the Education Center, before ending up at South in 2016. Rush had planned to retire two years ago, at age 62, but

when he told his wife, Celia, who is a few years younger than he, about his intentions, she just laughed. He recounted their conversation: “Let me see if I understand this. You’re going to be staying at home in your slippers and bathrobe drinking a cup of coffee, waving to me as I drive off to work,” Celia had said. “Well, that was my plan.” “I don’t think I like the sound of that.” She ended the discussion. Hence, Rush has continued working as a custodian, counting down the days to his retirement from NPS, when he plans to pursue his hobby of finance by opening up a casual investment company. Looking forward to this next chapter of his life helps Rush keep up a positive attitude at school, even when the monotony of his work feels tedious. “It gets you through the day,” he said. Rush said, nonetheless, that he doesn’t have any regrets about the course that his life has taken. His most important accomplishment has been raising his daughter, which to him is worth more than cleaning up any amount of broken glass off the floor. And besides, working as a custodian is a stress-free job to him, while at Verizon, he sometimes had to be on call during all hours of the night. Likewise, custodian Mike Kelly said that he ended up at South because of a career shift. He used to manufacture airplane parts for General Electric, until his two daughters were born and he needed to look for a job with better hours. “This is a lot more satisfying. You’re not punching the clock and having to do the same thing all the time,” he said. Custodian Willie Torres said that when he was growing up in Puerto Rico, he wanted to be a maintenance worker, like his father. From painting floors to fixing plumbing systems, “it was a little bit of everything,” he said. Torres moved to Massachusetts to attend high school in Waltham, where he worked as a custodian for seven years after graduation. But he was always bored with the job and eventually decided to move to New York to start his own maintenance business — an endeavor that proved to be more difficult than he had anticipated. “Little by little, things started to go downhill, and it was so hard for me to maintain my family,” he said. So Torres moved back to Waltham and applied to various custodial positions in Massachusetts. He was the “lucky one,” he said, to get a job in Newton with great benefits and a welcoming environment. Torres, unlike Kelly and Rush, works the second custodial shift, starting after school ends and finishing around 11 p.m. He rarely interacts with members of the school community.

While some might find these circumstances lonely, Torres said that he enjoys the peace and quiet. “It helps me a lot to concentrate more on what I’m doing,” he said.

After Hours

When Torres leaves the building around 11 p.m., South’s night custodians take over the final shift of the day. They work until 7 a.m. Last week, Yardeny Perez began working at South as a night custodian alongside co-workers John Henry and Kaiss Horani. Perez was the shyest of the triumvirate, tentative about his ability to speak English. He said he used to be a full-time Uber driver and came to South because of the employee benefits, like healthcare. His co-workers were glad to have another pair of helping hands on the job. Night custodians clean the areas at South that are in use during the day, such as the field house, bathrooms and hallways. “The night guys are the backbone of the custodial staff, don’t let anybody tell you any different,” Henry, tall with graying hair and a friendly demeanor, said. Horani grew up in Newton, attending Zervas, F.A. Day and North, but never expected to return to school as a custodian. He used to be a small-business owner, managing a gas station, until, like Perez, he found a more stable job. “The older you get, the more responsibilities you have,” he said. “Sometimes the other work around the city that could potentially get you easy money like Uber or Amazon Flex or things of that sort that could potentially give you the freedom, but it also doesn’t offer you the solid benefits that a job like this would offer.” Despite his unusual work hours, Henry said that the night shift actually enables him to spend more time with family. Henry has seen his two children, age 11 and 13, grow up during the past 10 years he’s worked as a night custodian. He and his wife, who works during the day, split their familial responsibilities quite nicely, he said. She drops their children off at school on the way to work, while he is around to pick them up at the end of the day. “They always have a ride home from school. They have someone to help with homework when they get home, take them places to meetings or activities,” he said. Wealthier children, on the other hand, see far less of their parents, according to Horani. “It’s funny because the households that have the larger incomes are the ones that are hiring outside help because they need to keep making that money and keep supporting that life-

style,” Horani said. “People who are on a bit of a lesser budget or a fixed budget, they’re giving more time to their children.” Because their hours rarely overlap with the student schedule, night custodians are “unknown faces,” Henry said; nonetheless, he is fiercely dedicated to his work, always asking himself, “Does it look good to me?” before leaving an area of the building. “We take pride in our work,” Horani agreed. But cleaning the school every night is hardly the custodians’ toughest responsibility. When students, teachers and administrators leave South for summer break, the custodians stay put to deep clean every inch of the school, from emptying out the classrooms and cleaning every piece of furniture to stripping and waxing all the floors. “People think, ‘It’s summer time, school’s closed, those guys are probably not doing much,’ but that’s when we really work,” Henry said.

Union In Action

Henry and Horani attributed the benefits of their jobs, such as health insurance and steady pay, to the dedication of Newton’s custodial union. In 2014, the custodial union saved their jobs from Newton elected officials who wanted to outsource the custodial staff. When an outside company, rather than individual workers, is hired to perform custodial tasks, school districts can save money. Newton custodians worked without a new contract for four years while fighting the School Committee over a contract clause from the 1990s that prohibited nonmembers of the custodial union from working in the schools. Eventually, the city legislators who pushed for outsourcing left office, while the custodians stayed put. Horani said he was glad to see the issue resolved. “Especially being from Newton and knowing the demands of the city and the wealth that’s here and the services we provide, outsourcing will not care about or could not provide that,” he said.

Student Accountability

Looking around the cafeteria towards the end of third lunch is never a pleasant sight. Just about every table is littered with used napkins, broken utensils, half-finished meal trays, leaking soda cans and empty chip bags. The floors aren’t any continued on next page

Chris Dickey worked at North for five years before switching to the afterschool custodial shift at South. He brought his trash barrel with him, which is covered with stickers bearing messages like “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and “Shark attack.” Some of the stickers were his own, others he found lying around the school.

Yardeny Perez poses on his second night working as a custodian at South.

Kaiss Horani stacks chairs in the cafeteria after students and staff have left for the day.


BEHIND THE

SCENES Anonymous to much of the student body, custodians work during all hours of the day. These are their stories. By Sophie Lewis Photos by Dina Zeldin

O

n Thursday, Nov. 7, a student broke the glass panel on one of the cafeteria’s vending machines. Those who heard the crash swarmed the scene, curious about who did it and scheming about the best way to snag free Welch’s fruit snacks. As administrators rushed to keep students away from the damaged property, one figure stood out, unruffled by the chaos. A 64-year-old custodian with neatly combed graying hair, parted to the side, and a slightly hunched back, Paul Rush had begun his daily routine of cleaning the 6000s when a voice on his walkie talkie summoned him to the frenzied scene. Between excited students and flustered administrators, he stood calmly in the mess, methodically sweeping away the glass shards that littered the hallway tiles. For Rush, this was just another day on the job, another hour spent picking up the pieces left by students who disrespect their surroundings. Like the other dozen or so custodians at South, he works hard behind the scenes, committed to keeping the building clean. He receives little appreciation in return. At 11 a.m. nearly every day of the year, Rush arrives promptly to start his day. He said he takes great pride in keeping the building as spotless as can be, occasionally staying past the end of his shift at 7 p.m. to finish cleaning. Other custodians sometimes tease him for being a slow worker, but Rush said that he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’ve noticed that if I keep everything clean, people respect it, understand it and don’t make things as messy as they were,” he said.

A Winding Road

Very rarely does someone set out in life to become a custodian, and Paul Rush is no exception. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 1982, he found a job overseeing Verizon’s payphones. That department was quickly shut down, but Rush continued to work hard and was promoted to project manager at the company. He survived three rounds of downsizing, but when the fourth round of cuts came a few years ago, Rush, almost 60, was let go. Initially, he considered becoming a construction worker because of his experience renovating his Watertown home (twice). The prospect of spending every day outdoors in New England weather, however, quickly turned him away from the idea. So, he became a custodian for the Newton Public Schools, first working at Pierce Elementary School and then the Education Center, before ending up at South in 2016. Rush had planned to retire two years ago, at age 62, but

when he told his wife, Celia, who is a few years younger than he, about his intentions, she just laughed. He recounted their conversation: “Let me see if I understand this. You’re going to be staying at home in your slippers and bathrobe drinking a cup of coffee, waving to me as I drive off to work,” Celia had said. “Well, that was my plan.” “I don’t think I like the sound of that.” She ended the discussion. Hence, Rush has continued working as a custodian, counting down the days to his retirement from NPS, when he plans to pursue his hobby of finance by opening up a casual investment company. Looking forward to this next chapter of his life helps Rush keep up a positive attitude at school, even when the monotony of his work feels tedious. “It gets you through the day,” he said. Rush said, nonetheless, that he doesn’t have any regrets about the course that his life has taken. His most important accomplishment has been raising his daughter, which to him is worth more than cleaning up any amount of broken glass off the floor. And besides, working as a custodian is a stress-free job to him, while at Verizon, he sometimes had to be on call during all hours of the night. Likewise, custodian Mike Kelly said that he ended up at South because of a career shift. He used to manufacture airplane parts for General Electric, until his two daughters were born and he needed to look for a job with better hours. “This is a lot more satisfying. You’re not punching the clock and having to do the same thing all the time,” he said. Custodian Willie Torres said that when he was growing up in Puerto Rico, he wanted to be a maintenance worker, like his father. From painting floors to fixing plumbing systems, “it was a little bit of everything,” he said. Torres moved to Massachusetts to attend high school in Waltham, where he worked as a custodian for seven years after graduation. But he was always bored with the job and eventually decided to move to New York to start his own maintenance business — an endeavor that proved to be more difficult than he had anticipated. “Little by little, things started to go downhill, and it was so hard for me to maintain my family,” he said. So Torres moved back to Waltham and applied to various custodial positions in Massachusetts. He was the “lucky one,” he said, to get a job in Newton with great benefits and a welcoming environment. Torres, unlike Kelly and Rush, works the second custodial shift, starting after school ends and finishing around 11 p.m. He rarely interacts with members of the school community.

While some might find these circumstances lonely, Torres said that he enjoys the peace and quiet. “It helps me a lot to concentrate more on what I’m doing,” he said.

After Hours

When Torres leaves the building around 11 p.m., South’s night custodians take over the final shift of the day. They work until 7 a.m. Last week, Yardeny Perez began working at South as a night custodian alongside co-workers John Henry and Kaiss Horani. Perez was the shyest of the triumvirate, tentative about his ability to speak English. He said he used to be a full-time Uber driver and came to South because of the employee benefits, like healthcare. His co-workers were glad to have another pair of helping hands on the job. Night custodians clean the areas at South that are in use during the day, such as the field house, bathrooms and hallways. “The night guys are the backbone of the custodial staff, don’t let anybody tell you any different,” Henry, tall with graying hair and a friendly demeanor, said. Horani grew up in Newton, attending Zervas, F.A. Day and North, but never expected to return to school as a custodian. He used to be a small-business owner, managing a gas station, until, like Perez, he found a more stable job. “The older you get, the more responsibilities you have,” he said. “Sometimes the other work around the city that could potentially get you easy money like Uber or Amazon Flex or things of that sort that could potentially give you the freedom, but it also doesn’t offer you the solid benefits that a job like this would offer.” Despite his unusual work hours, Henry said that the night shift actually enables him to spend more time with family. Henry has seen his two children, age 11 and 13, grow up during the past 10 years he’s worked as a night custodian. He and his wife, who works during the day, split their familial responsibilities quite nicely, he said. She drops their children off at school on the way to work, while he is around to pick them up at the end of the day. “They always have a ride home from school. They have someone to help with homework when they get home, take them places to meetings or activities,” he said. Wealthier children, on the other hand, see far less of their parents, according to Horani. “It’s funny because the households that have the larger incomes are the ones that are hiring outside help because they need to keep making that money and keep supporting that life-

style,” Horani said. “People who are on a bit of a lesser budget or a fixed budget, they’re giving more time to their children.” Because their hours rarely overlap with the student schedule, night custodians are “unknown faces,” Henry said; nonetheless, he is fiercely dedicated to his work, always asking himself, “Does it look good to me?” before leaving an area of the building. “We take pride in our work,” Horani agreed. But cleaning the school every night is hardly the custodians’ toughest responsibility. When students, teachers and administrators leave South for summer break, the custodians stay put to deep clean every inch of the school, from emptying out the classrooms and cleaning every piece of furniture to stripping and waxing all the floors. “People think, ‘It’s summer time, school’s closed, those guys are probably not doing much,’ but that’s when we really work,” Henry said.

Union In Action

Henry and Horani attributed the benefits of their jobs, such as health insurance and steady pay, to the dedication of Newton’s custodial union. In 2014, the custodial union saved their jobs from Newton elected officials who wanted to outsource the custodial staff. When an outside company, rather than individual workers, is hired to perform custodial tasks, school districts can save money. Newton custodians worked without a new contract for four years while fighting the School Committee over a contract clause from the 1990s that prohibited nonmembers of the custodial union from working in the schools. Eventually, the city legislators who pushed for outsourcing left office, while the custodians stayed put. Horani said he was glad to see the issue resolved. “Especially being from Newton and knowing the demands of the city and the wealth that’s here and the services we provide, outsourcing will not care about or could not provide that,” he said.

Student Accountability

Looking around the cafeteria towards the end of third lunch is never a pleasant sight. Just about every table is littered with used napkins, broken utensils, half-finished meal trays, leaking soda cans and empty chip bags. The floors aren’t any continued on next page

Chris Dickey worked at North for five years before switching to the afterschool custodial shift at South. He brought his trash barrel with him, which is covered with stickers bearing messages like “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and “Shark attack.” Some of the stickers were his own, others he found lying around the school.

Yardeny Perez poses on his second night working as a custodian at South.

Kaiss Horani stacks chairs in the cafeteria after students and staff have left for the day.


Custodian Paul Rush shows off his trusty mop, which he’s named Mr. Bill after a stop-motion figurine that starred on SNL in the 70s. Rush said to include his boots in the photo because their griminess indicates the hard work he puts in around the school. That afternoon, he had to deal with an exploded radiator causing a raining classroom in the 4000s.

continued from previous page neater. The mess is impossible to ignore, but Kelly said that students rarely pick anything up, which makes the jobs of custodians far more difficult. “No one cares,” he said. “You walk up to the kids and they’re like, ‘That’s not mine.’ No one wants to take responsibility.” Kelly said that he’s observed a sense of “entitlement” in some South students — after all, everyone is a product of the environment in which they grow up. “Right now they’re not cleaning up their messes, and maybe that’s what they have at home,” he said. “But once they get to the real world you’re going to be in for a surprise, especially in college. You’re on your own, you’ve got your own dorm, and custodians aren’t going to be around to pick up for you.” In raising his own daughters, now 20 and 26 years old, Kelly said that he emphasized cleanliness and responsibility. Senior Elie Berman said that she’s constantly frustrated to find trash all over the halls, and she does her part to clean it up. She believes that her small actions can have a meaningful impact on the jobs of South’s custodians. “I’m always getting more napkins and cleaning up my stuff, and if I see a piece of garbage left, I will pick it up, whether it’s mine, whether it was my friends,” she said. “But it also makes me uncomfortable when I don’t know where

that food has been. I don’t necessarily want to pick it up, but I feel really bad for the person that does.”

Building Relationships

During her sophomore year, Berman would start her days by tracking down a custodian who could unlock the door of the Lab Theater, where she was participating in a work study project. Through these simple interactions, Berman said she began to develop a relationship with the custodial staff and enjoyed having a welcoming face to greet every morning. But most students don’t bother to reach out to custodians, or to even learn their names, and according to Berman, this lack of connection can explain students’ impatience with school conditions. “I want soap in the bathroom as much as anyone else,” she said. “But when you don’t know the person who’s doing it for you, it’s just easier to be more annoyed more quickly.” She said it’s important for students to acknowledge the work of South’s custodial staff. “I may not have a deep relationship with them, but I don’t think that that means that I can’t appreciate them for doing the work that they do,” she said. Kelly said that he’s willing to spend time with any student who approaches him. In particular, he’s developed a close relationship with students in South’s inclusion programs. “It’s just how I was brought up, to treat everyone the

same,” he said. “They’re great kids, I love those kids.” For Rush, receiving compliments on the cleanliness of his section of the building, the 6000s, doesn’t happen often, but they leave him pleased with the quality of his work. “A thank you is always appreciated,” he said. Even during the night shift, occasional interaction with students who happen to be around the building is always welcomed. (Henry and Horani’s cheerful banter was lovely to listen to, as they finished each other’s sentences with the ease of friends who had worked together for many years.) “We’ll cover events, dances or shows or whatever, and we’re here early at a time when kids are around, and kids’ll talk to you once in a while,” Henry said. “I’ve had kids offer to help me do things.” “Absolutely, absolutely agreed,” Horani overlapped. “Kids surprise me, out of nowhere they’ll say, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’” “Or they will thank us. I’ve been thanked dozens of times,” Horani said. “Oh yeah, I’ve been thanked,” Henry said. “It does happen. It’s nothing that’s never happened.” “And it’s nice, you know, it’s nice to be recognized.” Horani added that he doesn’t expect constant affirmation from students because it’s not why he and South’s other custodians do their jobs. “It’s our pleasure. We’re here for you guys,” he said. “So whatever you need, just let us know, and we’ll do the best we can.”

Vanessa Rosario prepares vegetables for student lunches. Cafeteria workers, like custodians, are essential employees at South, but students rarely get to know them.

Custodian Willie Torres vacuums a classroom in the 1000s. He said he enjoys working afterschool because he can concentrate on his tasks.


FEATURES page 15|November 20, 2019|THE LION’S ROAR|issuu.com/thelionsroar

features@thelionsroar.com|VOLUME 36, ISSUE 4

ALL JOKES ASIDE Junior Miks Rotberg transforms his comedic passion into a career by pursuing stand-up By Rachael Wei

W

hen junior Mikael “Miks” Rotberg, performed his first stand-up routine at The Comedy Studio in Somerville, he said it was the happiest moment of his life. “I couldn’t stop smiling,” he said. “You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine. It was so cool getting up there and making people laugh, even just for a moment.” Rotberg said he learned about openmic performances from his friend, junior Sam Prudovsky, who had previously done stand-up routines and encouraged Rotberg to try it himself. It was only recently, however, that Rotberg decided to finally bring his humor to an audience. “Sam had been doing stand-up comedy for a while, and he told me about these open mics back in June. I thought it was pretty cool, but I didn’t really do anything about it,” he said. “On Yom Kippur, we had some guests over, and the father of the family that I’m very close with, I just told him that I was planning to do stand-up comedy at the Comedy Studio. … I hadn’t even told my parents. I guess I just decided that I wanted to perform.” Rotberg said that even before he began performing, he was constantly creating material for future shows. “I’m always thinking about stand-up material. It’s one of the only things that goes on in my head when I’m by myself. I’m always thinking about material, and then I write it down. I have a bunch of material in my notes,” he said. In his routines, Rotberg said he likes to focus on his identity. “I’m a white, pale, Mexican Jew. How many people get to say that? I love talking about my identity because everyone is unique, and I can bring my own personal experiences to my routines,” he said. In addition to exploring identity, Rotberg said he likes to talk about his experiences and struggles as a teenager. “There are so many relatable experiences that I can talk about in a funny way. My last two jokes in my last routine were about stuff that happened at school. The first joke was about my low score on a biology test, relatable.” Rotberg said he likes to explore these experiences in his routines to connect more with his audience. “You can use it as comedy material. If there are actually situations that you have, and you can talk about them, that’s really funny. A lot of material I’ve written have been my experiences, as a 16-year-old kid who stresses out about school and the future

and about trying to be a comedian at a young age,” he said. Rotberg said that he’s drawn to comedy because of its ability to make people happier. “In the case of stand-up, which is the type of comedy that I enjoyed the most, I think it’s how you can make so many random people just a little happier. Even if you tell one joke, and they laugh at one joke, they’re happy in that moment. That, I think, is special about comedy,” he said. Rotberg said this sense of joy fuels his future comedic dreams. “I want to have a comedy career. That’s the thing I’m most passionate about. I could sit here and memorize biology, but why do I want to do that? Do I want to do that for the rest of my life? No, I don’t want to do that. Maybe for the sake of my future family, but I don’t actually want it. I want to perform comedy. I want to do stand-up,” he said. Rotberg said he looks up to Pete Davidson from Saturday Night Live, minus the substance use. “I look up to Pete Davidson as a role model,” he said. “He’s exactly what I want to be in the future, without all the drugs. I want to be young and maybe be a big, famous comedian on Saturday Night Live.” With aspirations in comedy, Rotberg said he plans to participate in open-mics every Tuesday. “The whole point of the open mics is to improve your material,” he said. “You’ll have a few sets maybe, and then you can add in new jokes to just test it with the audience. There are people there that are part of comedy companies, sometimes. I’m not sure if they’re agents, but they’re people that might be looking to hire. Sam, who I mentioned earlier, he’s my age, 16, and he books gigs. Right now, I’m looking to purchase sets, improve them and show them to my friends.” Rotberg said he also plans to continue his Instagram account @Miks_Rotberg_Comedy, which he said he hopes will help him reach a wider audience. Rotberg posts videos and updates of his weekly stand-up comedy routines on the page. “I want to be posting all of these performances on Instagram because I know that social media is a really great means to reach a lot of people,” he said. “It’s not like I want to be a

social media star, but I just want to post it on social media because my friends have been really, really supportive of it.” Rotberg said he appreciates the amount of support he has re-

ceived. “I’m really grateful for the amount of support that I got in my first session. My family was super supportive, and my dad has always pushed me to try new things and get out of my comfort zone, and he’s been a really big supporter of my doing comedy. This past Tuesday, my mom came to watch, and she said that she really liked the experience of just going to the club, watching all of the other comics perform and seeing her son doing the same thing.”

photo by Kate Esbenshade


page 16 NOVEMBER 20, 2019

FeaTURES ISSUU.COm/TheLionsroar The Lion’s Roar

ATHEISM RISE On The

Recent years have seen a decline in religious participation in America as millennials reject institutionally-based religion in favor of other communities By Lev Rosenberg

S

enior Max Marrinan has not entered a church sanctuary in four years. He does not celebrate Easter, and he certainly does not worship God –– nor does he plan to in the future, he said. “I don’t believe that God exists,” Marrinan said. Like many of his peers, Marrinan is a religious “none” –– shorthand for anyone identifying as atheist, agnostic or just nothing in particular. This is an abrupt switch from Marrinan’s childhood. In his elementary and middle school years, Marrinan, along with his parents, went to church every week. Then, when he entered ninth grade, Marrinan’s parents gave him a choice: he could attend services or stay home. He chooses the latter every Sunday. Living in a nation where all coins have ‘in God we trust’ inscribed on the surface, one would assume that Marrinan is an outlier. Nevertheless, religiously unaffiliated young people are on the rise in the Boston area. “The majority of [my peers] aren’t religious,” Marrinan said. Senior Justin Foong said he feels similarly. If forced to choose a label, Foong said he would identify as a Christian, but the only holiday he observes is Christmas. However, as a child, Foong went to church school almost everyday after his regular day at Countryside Elementary. “I would go to a school in Chinatown where [students] would pray and be super religious,” he said. Unlike Marrinan, Foong said he believes in God, or at least some higher spiritual power. Yet he says that he did not understand the religious practices imposed by his parents. “I just did it because, I was told to,” he said. “But as I got older, I was like, why the f--- am I doing any of this stuff. I don’t believe in any of this.” This trend away from religion is not limited to Boston, nor has it solely affected Christianity. According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, one in five Americans raised in a religious household are now religiously unaffiliated. Moreover, the study notes that the trend exists “across a variety of racial and ethnic groups, among people with different levels of education and income, among immigrants and the native born and throughout all major regions

17%

(2009)

of the country.” Unsurprisingly, membership at religious institutions is rapidly declining as a result. To compensate, Shoni Aronovich, youth director at congregation Beth El in Sudbury, said that he constantly attempts to make religion feel more relevant to his students. “I’m trying to make sure that what

the religious school, I hated it because it was all Asian kids doing s--- I didn’t understand.” Marrinan said he sees the value in religion’s community aspect, but he finds that people can find such community in other areas of life. “In high school, sports teams, music, clubs, South Stage –– those are all groups that people find community in,” Marrinan said. For himself, Marrinan has developed

“ ” I believe in treating people well and spreading happiness. That comes from my own self-reflection and my experiences in life. ... I didn’t need religion to come to that. Elijah Sarvey class of 2020

we do here encompasses a lot of areas of people’s life, so it’s not just you come here, and you talk about Judaism, because that doesn’t hold,” he said. Aronovich said that the main pull of religion is the community, and that much of what drives Hebrew school attendance through senior year is a bonded class. “If you walk into a place and the people are like you, you are going to stay in it no matter exactly what it is they do,” he said. “It’s difficult being on that journey [of life] by yourself. It helps to find that community with you –– to support you, to guide you through hard times.” According to Heather Curtis, chair and associate professor of the Department of Religion at Tufts University, religion has both sociological and psychological benefits. “Sociologically, people gain community which helps improve emotional and physical health,” Curtis wrote in an email. “Psychologically, people gain a sense of belonging, security and identity.” For Foong, however, the homogeneity of his religious community was exactly what drove him away from religion. “I’d rather be around more diverse people,” Foong said. “When I went to

26%

a tight-knit group of friends on the Speech and Debate team. Besides merely finding church’s community unnecessary, Marrinan said he was turned off by “the stuff that goes on inside the church –– cover ups and such.” These scandals delegitimize the authority of religious institutions. Moreover, religion is becoming increasingly twisted with politics to include notions of bigotry and xenophobia. “Pompous right-wing political chestthumping, and an unwillingness to listen on matters like climate change or racism, has contributed to a perception by millions that Christianity is irrelevant, or worse yet, a threat to progress,” Reverend Richard Cizik said, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, in an interview with The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristoff. Curtis said this “crisis of confidence in institutions, especially in the era of #MeToo and the various clergy sex abuse scandals,” is acutely

concerning. Because young people today are turning away from organized religion, “nones” have become the most common religious group among millenials, according to the Pew Research study. 35% of American millennials are religiously un-affiliated. This is significantly more than the 21% who identify as evangelical Protestants, the 18% who identify as Catholics and the 16% who identify as mainline Protestants. Nonetheless, Aronovich said he believes that religion is redeemable, for in it exists something that other groups cannot provide. He said that the key aspect separating religion from other community-centered groups is its focus on self-improvement. “I think it offers a more holistic approach to one’s life. If you want to do sports, it doesn’t tell you much about your personality, how to be a better person, how to improve your life,” Aronovich said. Curtis defined this aspect of religion as its philosophical realm, where “people gain a sense of meaning, purpose, ethical guidance.” However, non-religious Americans are outsourcing this aspect of religion as well. Senior Elijah Sarvey, another “none,” said he has found the philosophical realm without religion. “I find a lot of spirituality in music –– writing music and playing music. That has a lot of value to me, and [it makes] me feel like there’s a purpose for life,” Sarvey said. He said that people should be able to make their own conclusions in regards to ethics. “I just trust my own internal moral compass. I believe in treating people well and spreading happiness. That comes from my own self-reflection and my experiences in life. ... I didn’t need religion to come to that.”

of American millennials identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” Source: Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Studies (Aggregated Political Surveys)

26%

(2018)


The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar Features

THE

November 20, 2019 Page 17

COMMON APPLICATION

The Roar follows four seniors with different interests as they navigate the college application process and will reveal their identities and college plans as they make their decisions

By Ellyssa Jeong

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orey applied early decision to Brown University and early action to UMass Amherst and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Korey said submitting applications was relieving. “The day after it felt pretty nice,” he said. “However, I wouldn’t say I feel completely satisfied, especially since there’s still school going on and the regular deadlines.” Korey said that his list of regular decision schools will likely include Tufts University, Amherst College, Williams College and the University of Pennsylvania. As his last season of soccer closes, Korey advises seniors who play fall sports to start the application process early. “Everyone talks about how hard junior year was, but term one senior year was really hard for me, mainly because we had a lot of work to do and a lot of writing,” he said. “I definitely do think playing soccer made my term a little bit more stressful, but at the same time it was really fun, so there are positives and negatives.” Korey said he is proud of his peers for making it through the early college application deadlines. “I hope everyone will be able to stay focused to make sure you get your applications in for regular decision schools,” he said.

C

andace, who looks to continue her cello studies at a conservatory, said that her top choices are the Juilliard School of Music, New England Conservatory, Rice University and the Eastman School of Music. She is currently focused on her performances at non-conservatory schools which have earlier deadlines. “Right now, it’s really just doing as well as I can in these competitions, finishing up my last few visits, making a good impression on those teachers and just practicing,” she said. Candace said that she is on track with her timeline. “The recording session actually went pretty well. I ended up getting everything I needed with the one session,” she said. Candace said she simplified the application process by finding commonalities between supplements. “You don’t have to answer a million different questions. A lot of them overlap, and you can use similar ideas” she said. During application season, she said she’s found more understanding from her teachers and peers. “Everyone’s in it together, so everyone’s sort of sympathetic, and teachers have been great about not overloading us.”

A

ustin applied early decision to Brown University and early action to the University of Chicago, Northeastern University, Case Western Reserve University and UMass Amherst. However, he said that he still remains uneasy. “I’m done writing [my suppliments], but the admissions office isn’t done evaluating them,” he said. “I’m good with whatever I’m in control of because I know I can finish everything and plan everything out.” Austin said the application process has been an introspective experience. “Your entire life is summarized in 20 pages, so then it feels like what you’re writing is less than who you are as a person,” he said. “There is a lot of insight into yourself.” In anticipation of applying regular to Yale University, Williams College, Harvard University, Stanford University and Georgetown University, he is working to finish his supplements as soon as possible. Austin said he is glad that his peers are open to discussing their process. “Last year, people were so uncomfortable talking about anything, but this year people are pretty open about where they’re applying [and] what issues they’re having,” he said. “I really enjoy the positive attitude.”

F

graphics by Emily Zhang

rancesca applied early action to Emmanuel College, Northeastern University and UMass Boston, Lowell and Amherst. She also applied to the University of Houston and Manhattan College, which have rolling decisions Francesca is in the process of applying for the full-tuition Posse Scholarship and has been invited to the final round of interviews. The scholarship can go toward one of five schools, her first choice of which being Bryn Mawr College. Like Austin, she said that the application process has provided an opportunity for self-reflection. “Before, I just did things because I got to do it, but now writing stuff about them and really reflecting, ... it’s made me think more about my actions,” she said. Francesca plans to apply regular decision to Bowdoin and Bates Colleges. Thanks to the resources at the College and Career Center, she said she finished most of her applications early. “Having multiple people who were willing to look at my application was really nice,” she said. “Because I did everything early, it was pretty stress-free. I got the chance to just focus on school, although I was helping friends with their essays and all that.”

Cheese Club thrives, others face precarious future Oliver Ciric & Sophie Goodman

Features Reporter, Features Editor “We’re going to go around, say our names and say our spirit cheese,” senior Matt Reinstein announced as he leaned back in his student chair. On the table lay an array of cheeses, including havarti, lanquetot, belletoile, brie and gruyèère. One member said parmesan was their spirit cheese, another saw himself as gouda, and another identified as goat cheese. The members gathered around the table to indulge in the varieties of cheese at the weekly meeting. Senior Samson Cantor started Cheese Club during his sophomore year, when he brought a hunk of brie to school. When his friend asked to try some cheese, Cantor realized that cheese-tasting was an interest

worth pursuing as a club. The rest is history. “The goal of Cheese Club is to bring people together under a mutual appreciation of cheese,” Cantor said. “The idea is to have this community based around eating cheese and discussing cheese, but also meeting other cool people and making connections.” Cheese Club is one of many clubs that center around a hobby and build low-pressure communities from shared interests. Senior Becky Kaplun’s Kosher Food Club uses food as a segue into discussions about Jewish culture. Though Cantor said he’s already found his successor for Cheese Club, Vice Principal and clubs and activities manager Christopher Hardiman said that some niche clubs struggle to survive after their founders graduate. Nevertheless, inactive clubs have piled onto a spreadsheet; there are 15 to 20

additions every year. “There’s an interest, they start a club, their intention is to continue it,” Hardiman said. “And then sometimes for various reasons, the student gets too busy. They may get disappointed [when] they advertise at our club fair … and no one shows up.” Senior Grant Geyerhahn’s Mukbangout Hangout club, which meets for bingeeating, will likely end once he graduates. To him, what matters is the impact of his club on students while in existence. “I don’t need the club to be remembered when I graduate. I don’t need it to exist after I leave. I just want it to be a club people remember

as, ‘oh, it was very stress relieving or a fun part of my day,’” he said. Senior Elijah Sarvey said that he found belonging at the late acapella group, Euphonic. Now, due to shrinking participation and lacking organization and commitment, Euphonic is merely a memory. Kaplun said she would advise underclassmen to pursue new clubs that align with their interests. “Don’t be scared to start a club because if there’s something you’re interested in, even if it may seem like something small or that other people might not have the same interest. There’s always someone who has the same interest,” she said. Cantor said that clubs at South allow for endless creativity. “If you can think of it, you can make it into a club. Anything can really be a club at South.”

photo by Oliver Ciric

Cheese Club members re-create Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” with crackers and cheese. Follow @nshscheeseclub for similar content, meeting updates and cheesy puns.


FeaTURES ISSUU.COm/TheLionsroar The Lion’s Roar

page 18 November 20, 2019

sticker for your

thoughts

Sticker fever sweeps South, spicing up computers and waterbottles in every classroom By Laura Braudis and Shoshi Gordon

photos by Laura Braudis, Netta Dror and Shoshi Gordon

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few weeks ago, history teacher Andrew Thompson, lost the love of his life at the gym — his water bottle. “I looked everywhere. … There are so many cool stickers on there. It did feel like it had more emotional attachment than just a water bottle I lost.” A week after the tragedy, he found his long lost bottle perched in a corner of the gym. “I was psyched when it was in exactly the same place a week later, just sitting on the floor ... though also kind of disturbed no one touched it. … I cleaned it a lot.” Thompson started his sticker collection when a student designed a sticker for their Sustainability project. “I thought it was really cool, and I wanted to keep it, so that might’ve been the first one that I had on my water bottle. It was kind of an evolution of having stickers I liked and nowhere else to put them.” Soon his water bottle and computer became home to all sorts of stickers, from environmentally conscious messages to a Manoa Poke Shop decal. Thompson said he enjoys sharing his quirks on a smaller scale. “I’d rather have some of these things about me and my values somewhere where I can keep it close, and I’m not broadcasting it all the time.” Behind Thompson’s computer cover, a rainbow-striped drawing that his daughter, Malia, made projects a message of positivity. “Malia made this about five years ago, and it says ‘You shine as bright as all the stars in the world,’ and putting aside that there aren’t stars in the world, I love the message,” he said. “I’m very happy for students to see it, and if I ever need it, I’m happy to have it pick me up.” But not all of Thompson’s stickers are inspirational. His most recent addition, a fancy pig sticker, was an impulse buy. “Malia and I were at the Harvard Museum of Natural History a few weeks ago, and in the gift shop they had a bunch of different fun anthropocentric things,” he said. “I just loved the very sophisticated, thoughtful pig.” Personalizing his water bottle and computer, however, is not his only form of his self-expression. “I think in recent years I’ve decided socks, stickers and my Hawaiian shirts are my means of self-expression.”

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n a sea of black Chromebooks, one Chromebook has broken the school’s no-sticker rule. Junior Shona Goodkin is the proud owner of this computer, which is decked out in multicolored stickers, encouraging others to “Focus on the good!” and “Grow through life.” Goodkin said that, for her, it’s important to stick to who she is when selecting stickers for the artistic masterpiece that is her laptop. “I think if you’re going to go ahead and put a sticker on, you should put it for something that you believe in or something you enjoy because you’re going to be looking at it all the time, and people may associate you with your stickers.” In the search for stickers, Goodkin has turned, like many Gen Z-ers, to a subscription service — the Feminsist Sticker Club — where she got her “Yes You Can” sticker. “It represents something that I believe in. I personalized [my stickers] based off of what I like or what I’m a part of.” Goodkin said she is cognizant of how her stickers’ messages may be perceived “If you don’t want someone to point [the sticker] out or ask you a question about it, then maybe don’t put it on,” she said. Goodkin said she opted for the subtle feminst “Yes You Can!” sticker over a more overtly feminist one. For Goodkin, her stickers provide an opportunity to display certain elements of her identity, she said. “Stickers, like the Newton South Speech and Debate ones, are really great.” Goodkin said. “You get to represent your school and your club.” Stickers can serve as a personal cheerleader, Goodkin said. “This one is probably my favorite, the ‘Focus on the Good,’” she said, pointing out a round puffy sticker. “During the school day, being able to look at that, it just motivates me a little bit.” As a Chromebook user under the 1:1 initiative, however, Goodkin said that the no-sticker rule stunts personal expression. “For Chromebooks, specifically, stickers easily come off,” Goodkin said. “They don’t damage it. I think that if students are going to be required to use Chromebooks, then they should be able to put stickers on them.”

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enior Jamin Liu wants everyone to know he is not his Supreme sticker. Like many, Liu has stickers plastered on his computer — one being the iconic bright red logo — but he said he isn’t trying to send a message with his collage. “I feel like sometimes people get really judged for having a sticker collection,” he said. “People care a lot more about someone’s sticker collection than the person who has the collection.” Liu began plastering stickers onto his computer as a means of storage. “I found that I had a bunch of stickers lying around, and I was like, maybe I’ll just find some cool stickers and slap them all on my computer,” he said. “It’s not a very thought-out conglomeration of logos.” Liu said his stickers don’t fully encapsulate his interests. “I’ve definitely seen guys with a few stickers on their computer, but I feel like it’s really weird because then those three stickers seem to represent you entirely. … I feel like you either have to have a bunch of stickers or no stickers.” Liu’s Andrew Yang sticker is no exception. “I definitely see other people with laptop stickers that are a lot more politically oriented. … That’s I guess another way of them being confident and saying what their beliefs are. I mean I have that one [political] sticker … I feel like it’s not as big of a part of the collection.” Most of the time, Liu doesn’t have to look for stickers — they find him. “People give me stickers because they see I have a sticker collection, and my parents are just like ‘I found a sticker,’ and I’m like ‘Oh, thanks, mom.’” His favorite sticker, a circular Pho Viet tea leaf logo is not officially for sale. When he noticed the restaurant staff labeling their drinks, he took a chance and asked for one. They said yes. Other stickers remind Liu of trips he has taken and places he has visited, like his Alta snowflake sticker. “People definitely comment on what stickers I have on my laptop,” he said. Though Liu does not feel his stickers represent him, each is still special to him. “Each one has its own little story, however significant.”

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enior Maia Kahn embarked on her sticker adventure at the beginning of her junior year. “I saw other people putting stickers on their [laptops], and that was when I was getting into more TV shows, so I went on Redbubble, and I ordered a bunch,” she said. At a summer writing program, the quirky stickers on Kahn’s computer planted seeds of friendship. “I was using my laptop and this one girl was like, ‘Oh my God, is that from ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’” Kahn said. Similarly, her “thwoorp” sticker referencing the web series “UNHhhh”deepened her friendship with senior Shoshanna Dansinger. “We weren’t really close when she asked me about ‘thwoorp,’ … and then we started talking about it, and now I’ve watched ‘[RuPaul’s] Drag Race’ too.” For Kahn, stickers are the perfect way to connect with people without having to go out of her way to interact with them. “It’s a fun way to decorate the stuff I have with things that I like, so I can express who I am quietly to people at school or people in public,” she said. “It shows other people, even if they’re not paying attention, ‘Oh, she likes that,’ or it might start conversation.” Many of her stickers have references embedded in them, Kahn said. “I liked this one a lot because it’s David from ‘Schitt’s Creek’ drawn in the style of Gene from ‘Bob’s Burgers.’ So it’s two shows in one,” she said. Kahn doesn’t discriminate when selecting her stickers. Some of them, like her cookie bike and a lavender sprig, are there, she said, because they’re cute. Others, like the circular face from ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch,’ refrence a musical or play. Stickers often fall into two categories: political or amusing, Kahn said. “Some people have Joey and Chandler doing a thumbs up from ‘Friends’, but some people have something related to feminism,” she said. “So it can be a political statement or it can be self-expression.” She added that some can be both, citing her “Hasan Minhaj was right” sticker. Since junior year, more stickers have appeared in her life, Kahn said. “I put them on my phone. I put one on my planner. They just go everywhere.”


The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar Fun

CROSSWORD PUZZLE

November 20, 2019 Page 19 A handful of hints for a happy holiday

ACROSS:

1. South Stage production. See this how Nov. 21-23 4. Common road block; Thanksgiving entrée 7. What a 50,000 word novel over 30 days for this annual event abbr. 9. New hostile events procedure gives teachers three options: run, hide or ____ 10. Chris, John, Kaiss, Mike, Paul, Willie and Yardeny 11. Red sticker that does not define senior Jamin Liu 13. Junior and senior girls will face off on Nov. 27 as part of the illicit tradition 15. The ____ beat the Philadelphia Eagles 17-10 on Nov. 17 16. Data storage site that’s always full; evaporated H2O 17. Melting due to climate change; frozen H2O container 21. Nickname for constume supervisor and theater and public speaking teacher with restored FTE; advantage synonym 23. ____ basketball team went undefeated in their season 25. Central vessel found in plant cells; H2O and food container

DOWN:

2. Drink of the future; Normandin recommends the mint chocolate flavor 3. ____ flask; VSCO girl H2O container of choice 5. Beaver-manufactured H2O container 6. ____club re-enacted “The Last Supper” 8. The love of Mr. Thompson’s life; H2O container 12. Inter-house competition; H2O container 14. Tying against Brookline was this varsity team’s season highlight 17. Roar opinions editor who survived a car crash 18. Friday sales; absence of light 19. First LGBTQ city councilor in Newton 20. Toyias brothers’ nickname 21. Donate these to FEM Club’s sanitary product drive (donation boxes located in house offices) 22. Pete Davidson wannabe; former editor-inchief ’s brother 24. Where Roar staff is going for the 2019 JEA NSPA fall convention

Follow @NshsLionsRoar on Instagram or scan this QR code to to see the answers!

POP QUIZ!

Which Thanksgiving food are you? Where will you be spending Thanksgiving? A. At home with lots of family visiting me B. With just my immediate family C. Bouncing between three parties D. Traveling across the country

Who will you be with? A. Me, myself and I B. Friendsgiving all the way. C. Tons of people at a friend’s party D. Grandparents and cousins galore

What will you be watching on TV? A. Football B. National Dog Showe C. Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special D. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

What time is your Thanksgiving meal? A. 2:47.53 B. It said 5 o’clock on the invitation, but no one really knows C. All day – the party never stops D. 6 o’clock, because we’re normal

Stuffing? A. Ew B. Cornbread stuffing for the win C. From a box D. Grandma’s famous recipe What does Thanksgiving mean to you? A. Christmas is here … pull out those lights! B. Remembering the hardships inflicted upon Natives by white settlers C. Black Friday deals D. A chance to connect with family and express my gratitude Discussion topics you’re least looking forward to … A. Why you aren’t married yet B. Impeachment inquiry C. “So have you considered [insert Ivy League school]?” D. Who baked the best pie

If you answered mostly... you got....

A

Turkey You are always the center of attention, but everyone loves keeping you around.

B

Cranberry Sauce You may not be a fan-favorite, but those who love you are loyal to the end.

C

Potato You’re a classic. You thrive in any and all situations and are great in every form.

D

Pumpkin Pie You’re a crowd pleaser. You’re sweet and set the bar high for the holiday season.

Overheard at SOUTH Yes, we heard you say that. Newly-inducted Germaphobe: “When I was 21, I peed in a pool for the first time in my life, and I’m never going in a pool again” Boundary-setter: “I’m fine with you talking about using PCP, but don’t say the F-word” Vicarious Biologist: “I want to be an eating cell. I practically am, except I’d want to eat the good things, not toxins.” Empirical therapist: “Your whole life is error analysis.” Hallway militant: “Let’s take a five minute break. People can get water, use the restroom, terrorize freshmen.”


SPORTS page 20|November 20, 2019|THE LION’S ROAR|issuu.com/thelionsroar

Sports@thelionsroar.com|VOLUME 36, ISSUE 4

STRONGER TOGETHER Unified program carves out new paths of athletics and inclusivity for athletes with disablilities

J

unior Abebe Ticktin remembers playing basketball as soon as he could walk. Now, nearly 14 years later, Ticktin spends his afternoons practicing his dribble-moves and jump shots in the gym. “I’ve played since I was two,” Ticktin said. “I love the game, and I try to get better and better.” Unlike most basketball lovers, however, Ticktin has an intellectual disability, which has limited his basketball opportunities. Nonetheless, Ticktin returns to that hoop in the driveway, working on his dribble-moves and fadeaways, where, just like many athletes his age, he models his game after two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry. Curry, Ticktin’s idol, is widely regarded as the greatest 3-point shooter of all time, and his handles are among the best the hardwood has ever seen. “I’m a shooter and dribbler,” Ticktin said. “I love the three-ball.” Before coming to South, Ticktin had played on only one team that he could recall: a rec-league team near his former home in Hyde Park. To Ticktin, this team was nothing special. “I was like 10 years old ... and they taught us advice, like what to do in situations and the rules,” he said. “It was okay.” This fall, Ticktin joined the unified basketball team, a program that places students with disabilities on the same team as students without. Together, they compete as one team and fight to win games, just like any team does. The unified squad takes on other schools in a nine-game regular season and then finishes their season with a “jamboree,” during which teams play each other in a round-robin-esque style tournament. The team with the best record is recognized by the Special Olympics as the state champion. Freshman Kavin Chadnock, who also has intellectual disabilities, did not have a great experience with basketball in the past, he said. Several of his friends had introduced him to the sport in middle school, but he never truly enjoyed it. “Playing at Oak Hill when I was a little kid, I was always getting chosen last,” Chadnock said. “But this year is different, ... everyone’s kind, everyone’s happy.” This unified team has provided Chadnock, Ticktin and their peers a better opportunity than other teams could have. “There’s more collaborating and passing the ball. It’s better,” Ticktin said. “Kids with disabilities can have fun without being on the bench and being sad.” This fall, South’s unified team went undefeated in their regular season and was the only team in the South section of Div. I to do so. Ticktin’s on-court dominance

By Jackson Slater helped lead the team to success, unified team co-head coach and RISE program aide Alex Strongin said. “Ticktin is our best offensive player, he’s averaging 20-30 points per game,” Strongin said. Strongin, inspired by his work in special education and his background in sports, helped found the unified track team in the spring of 2017. Enrollment exploded, and Strongin, with the help of others, added a unified basketball team in the fall of 2018. Strongin said the unified teams are a space for students with and without disabilities to engage in extracurricular activities together. “I saw many students [with disabilities] who didn’t have any afterschool programs. They didn’t have a place to go. We found after that they didn’t have anywhere they belonged, and so we needed something that these kids could call their own,” he said. “Unified track is what we started with, and it took off. It did fantastically.” In just their

second season, the program ran out of roster space at 36 athletes, Strongin said. South’s is the largest unified team in the entire division. Though the team does not have tryouts, students with disabilities are given first priority. The program then opens its roster to the rest of the student body. The large team would make little sense for a typical basketball team; in basketball, only five players touch the court at a time, so most teams have only 11 to 14 players. Strongin said that the large unified team, however, gives the program flexibility. While some athletes barely touch the court, the huge roster allows athletes with disabilities to engage at different degrees of involvement in practices. “In a team with 11, there’s a lot more responsibility on each of the kids,” Strongin said. “Some kids want more responsibility and, in this case, I can let them have more, and some kids want less. They want to be more free, to have more of a social aspect. Some of our kids really need that social aspect more t han t he y need to be the

Juniors Tre DePalmer (right) and Abebe Ticktin (left) embrace after a win photo contributed by Lily Altman and photo illustration by Jackson Slater

best basketball player.” Strongin said that he and co-head coach and campus aide Jesus Rodriguez strive to treat all of their athletes equally. “We treat every athlete the same, regardless if they have a disability or not. This is a common misconception,” he said. “For a game, however, rules require that we have a 50/50 ratio. Since we have so many athletes without a disability and so few athletes with intellectual disabilities, the athletes by default get more game time.” Despite seeing competitive success in their opening years, this squad is not truly about winning, Ticktin said. Rather, they place a higher value on kindness, community and friendship. “Everybody’s so great at unified basketball,” Ticktin said. “Unified, where they put everybody together with kids with disabilities, makes a really big difference in people, and in how they are as a person, inside and out.” “The culture is really encouraging for us, … no matter what happens, everyone’s supportive of each other,” Chadnock said. “It’s not about winning, it’s about having fun. Truly.” “It’s being with my friends, family, community, mainly,” junior Lydia Scott said. Strongin said that establishing true friendships is difficult, and the program allows students with disabilities a space to branch out. “A rule we have always seen in the field of special ed is: people can be kind, they do the ‘hi,’ they do the ‘hello, how are you?’ But that’s when it ends. It doesn’t go anything past that,” he said. Unified has defied this norm. “I have kids now on each others’ Instagrams, kids going to birthday parties, kids high-fiving in the hallways. The friendships are growing, and they’re real. That’s the most important thing. They’re not just a symbol. You’re not just being nice to this kid. You’re legitimately friends with this kid.” Far beyond the programs at South, unified’s values are celebrated at the professional level — NBA superstar Steph Curry regularly meets with children with disabilities and often asks these fans to help him warm up for his games. Curry’s on-court skill is one form of art, and his off-court kindness and inclusion is another, piquing Ticktin’s admiration. “Curry is the one who inspired me to play basketball, because of the way he shoots and dribbles.” Ticktin said, “And because of the way he makes people with disabilities a part of something.”


November 20, 2019 Page 21

The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar Sports

Jenks commits to Stanford, wins MA Div.1Title two days later Jackson Slater Sports Editor

All-American Stanford commit senior Lucy Jenks has been on a historic tear. Jenks began her junior year an integral piece of a girls soccer team that ranked fourth in the nation, then won every DCL race she ran in during the indoor track season. She capped off that season at Indoor Nationals, where she placed fifth in the nation for the mile and earned the All-American title. Jenks gave up soccer this fall to run cross-country. For most of the season, however, Jenks was injured and did not compete. Since her return, Jenks ran in and won three 5K races. She first captured the DCL title with an 18:34, then took the divisional title with an 18:13. Jenks won this second

race by a full minute. “DCLs was my first race, and [my coach] wanted me to stick with the leaders, not go out too fast on my own and just stay with them and kick at the end,” Jenks said. “For [Divisionals, he said] take it out by yourself and set your pace a little bit faster.” Jenks then won the Massachusetts Division I Title on Nov. 16, finishing in 18:53 on a notably difficult and hilly course. The weekend after Thanksgiving, Jenks will run at Foot Locker Regionals in the Bronx, where the top 10 finishers qualify for the national championship. “Hopefully I’ll be able to qualify,” Jenks said, “but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself because I’ve been injured, and this is my first cross country season.” While many elite athletes work with club coaches to supplement their high school

coaching, Jenks has only worked with South girls running head coach Steve McChesney. “He’s a really good coach. ... He really knows what he’s doing,” Jenks said. “I tried to keep [running] fun and light, and had I done a lot outside of school, it would have just been too much.” Jenks officially committed to run at Stanford University on Nov. 14. She received offers from many schools and narrowed her decision down to Duke, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Stanford this fall. After visiting the schools, Jenks said Stanford was the clear choice. Stanford is both an elite academic and athletic school. This fall, both their mens and womens cross country teams ranked in the top three nationwide. “It wasn’t too hard a decision when everything lined up,” Jenks said.

SHOWTIME BROS Brothers Joe and John Toyias play varsity football together, reaching a new level of character, play and relationship By Jackson Slater

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ach weekend, sophomore Joe Toyias and his freshman brother John sit in reclining chairs in their basement, playing NBA2K and arguing over the trifle calls in their virtual game. Interspersed within these shouting matches are more serious discussions about their plays on the varsity football team. Joe and John, or “Showtime” and “Lil’ Showtime,” live and go to school together just like most brothers, and although both are avid football players, before this fall, they had not played together since elementary school, when the brothers played on the same Newton “Mustangs” travel team. Now, both brothers play on South’s offensive line, just like they did when they were barely 4 feet tall. “On the Mustangs, Joe and I played next to each other on the line just like we do now for South. It’s been great both times,” John said. “It’s been a joy.” “He’s playing varsity with me, and I just love it,” Joe said. “Jesus, I love it.” The young brothers have made an early impact on the field; Joe began his career on the varsity team a year ago as a freshman, where he spent most of the season playing linebacker. In his second year, he transitioned to playing on both offense and defense, starting at both defensive end and offensive tackle this fall. John started his varsity career playing center but has since shifted over to guard. For several games, the Toyiases played directly next to each other on each offensive snap; even as a freshman and sophomore, the brothers make up an integral part of the offensive line. In a sport as physically demanding as football, most don’t usually make plays until they are upperclassmen, yet the Toyiases stand out for their skill despite their youth; John is the only freshman starter on the varsity squad, and Joe is one of just two sophomores. Through years of debating their favorite athletes, playing mini-golf and spending late nights on the Cape, the Toyiases have

built impeccable brotherly chemistry. Their on-field play is reminiscent of this, John said. “Having [Joe] puts less worry on me and just lets me play my game,” John said. “We know each other very well. … It just helps navigate on the line.” “John and I have a really good relationship, especially with football,” Joe said. “It’s just better having him than any other teammate.” “They always get the most out of each other in games and in practices,” junior teammate Gio Rodriguez said. “They bring out the competitiveness in each other, which makes them play better together.”

Freshman John Toyias (left) and his brother sophomore Joe (right) run alongside eachother on a kickoff photo contributed by Will Lacamera

Joe said that he tries to act as a mentor for his younger brother. “I have to help him get to that level where he is the best player he can be,” Joe said. “He’s like a young rookie, and I’m like an experienced ballplayer.” John says he has looked to Joe more to help him navigate the transition into high school and the football program, rather than to serve as an on-field guide. “He’s been through the high school environment, … he’s experienced diversity, the competition [and] the atmosphere,” John said. “Him telling me like, ‘Oh this is how you need to get over this hump, this is how you get over that hump,’ helps me.” The brothers are known for their easy-going, goofy character, junior Will Lacamera said. “They definitely both have big personalities,” he said. “They just like to have a good time. Everybody likes them, ya know. They’re funny guys.” “Joe cracks me up all the time with the random, funny things he says,” Rodriguez added. “And I could just talk to John all day; he’s always laughing and smiling.” The brothers’ personalities have earned themselves numerous nicknames. “Countless,” Lacamera said. “Within the first month last year, Joe must’ve had 10 different nicknames.” Despite their antics off the field, the two have great work ethics and are on-field beasts, Rodriguez said. “There is definitely no

photo courtesy of the Boston Globe

offseason for the Toyias brothers, who are respected amongst the team,” Rodriguez said. “They get competitive with each other, [which] is definitely where some of their motivation comes from: always fighting to be better than the other.” “They’re very hard workers, both of them ... They’re always working out, going to the gym and playing hard in practice,” Lacamera added. “You can tell just by how good athletes they are. ” Joe and John are each a talented football player in their own right and spent years on different fields succeeding, but playing together makes both stronger, John said. “We’ve just known each other for as long as I’ve been alive, so I think it’s having that bond and having us just be together,” John said. “ Having us play on the same team, and knowing our strengths and weaknesses creates a big, powerful force.” “Their chemistry plays to their advantage,” Lacamera said. “They’ve obviously grown up with each other and know each other very well, better than anyone else on the team does, so I’m sure that helps them when they’re on the field together.” When the two get home from practice, they collapse onto the couch, order Comella’s and relax, while still talking football. The Toyias family lives and breathes sports, John said, and having a family who understands the game helps him improve his game. “We come from a football family. … It’s not only the coaches, but Joe and my dad specifically tell me, ‘I need you to do this on this play.’ And that makes you even better,” John said. “I feel like it’s great to have that guy in your house just to talk, to tell me what happened in this game.” Unfortunately, injuries cut short both of the Toyias’ seasons: John suffered a concussion, and Joe injured his thumb. Not only does being brothers make the two better at football, but playing together makes the Toyiases better brothers; playing high school football beside each other will make for one of the greatest times of their lives, Joe said. “We were just successful because we would communicate and know who we were. We would just go kill,” Joe said. “It’s just the best of all time playing with your brother. … My dad always says cherish these moments that you have playing football with your brother because you’re not going to get it back.” “Going on the field and playing the game that I love every day is the best,” John said. “And adding that element of playing with the person you’ve known for 14 years, it’s just the best.”


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sports Issuu.com/thelionsroar The Lion’s RoaR

After two difficult games, what’s next for the Patriots? Aron Korsunsky Sports Editor

After a 37-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 3 and an unconvincing 17-10 win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 17, Patriot fans are hiding behind an 9-1 record to avoid the attacks that they aren’t as good as their record shows that experts recently have been throwing at the team on social media. It is evident that the nine wins have come against low-ranking teams. The combined record of the teams that the Patriots have beaten is 32-58. Any way you shape the statistics, the Patriots won games against sub-par teams — teams that would make any team look good. But the Patriots aren’t a bad team, right? Numbers can be spun to support either point of view. Anyone can point out that the Patriots, even after the loss, only allow fewer than 11 points a game and have a whopping +18 turnover differential or that their defense and special teams have tied or outscored the opponents’ offense in four of their first nine games this season. The Patriots evidently aren’t bad, and quite honestly, there is a case to be made that they are still the best team in the league. Even in the game against the Ravens, after a poor first-quarter performance, the Pats’ defense only gave up a standard 20 points. But it would be misguided and shortsighted to assume that the team doesn’t have any offensive woes. First off, their running game has been

awful. Through their first nine games, the Patriots have averaged 3.3 yards per carry this year. That number is only higher than that of the 1-7 Jets, the 1-7 Dolphins and the 0-8 Bengals. Only one running back, second-string Rex Burkhead, has averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry. In terms of big plays, the Patriots running backs have had only three carries of 20 or more yards (tied for 22nd with five other teams) despite having 253 attempts (7th most in the NFL). The Patriots have not only had trouble maintaining a consistent running game, but also an explosive running game. It’s hard to blame the running backs, however. Much of a team’s running game is defined by blocking. In recent years, the Pats have often relied on combination-blocks by their “big guys” for run-and pass-blocking, specifically by fullback James Develin and tight-end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski retired and Develin is currently out with injury. The offensive line has had its fair share of woes as well. The return of both Develin and second-year offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn in the weeks ahead should help the Pats out in this regard. Gronk left behind a gaping hole when he retired at the end of 2018: the tight-end group’s blocking and receiving have become dismal. There was an obvious expectation for a recession in receiving once Gronkowski retired, but no one thought that it would become this bad. Through nine games, Pats tight-ends have accounted for only 27 receiving yards per game and have scored only one total

Ask us Jack Wylie

Sports Debate Club Co-Founder

Aron Korsunsky Sports Section Editor

How are the Bruins doing as of mid-Nov.? Korsunsky: The Bruins, after only 18 games into their 2019 season, have shown incredible improvement from last year’s elite Stanley Cup Finals squad. Wins against powerhouses like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues, who beat the Bruins in the cup last year, have propelled the Bruins to an 12-3-5 start, currently standing at third in the league. Their record, however, is not the Bruins’ proudest feat. As of Nov. 17, Bruins’ forwards David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand are tied for third in the entire NHL in points scored, with Pastrnak leading the league in goals (17) and Marchand being fourth in assists (19). In plusminus, a stat that measures the goal differential for players in their time on ice, Marchand, forward David Krejci and captain Zdeno Chara are among the top 13 leaders league-wide. On the back end, goalie Tuukka Rask is enjoying one of his best starts to a season ever, third in the league in goals allowed per game (2.14) and fifth in save percentage (92.7%). As a team, the Bruins are third in the league in power play percentage (28.1%), meaning they score a goal on 28% of their power plays, a margin 8% higher than the NHL average. This hot start gives Bruins fans high hopes for the remainder of the season and come playoff time.

photo courtesy of Grand Forks Herald

The Patriots give up a touchdown to Ravens’ running-back Gus Edwards in a 37-20 loss on Nov. 3

touchdown all season. Roughly 80% of other NFL teams see better yardage production from the tight-end position than the Pats do. Someone needs to step up soon, whether it be veteran Ben Watson or rookies Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse. Finally, over the course of the first several weeks, it’s hard to say that the Pats have had a consistent second wide receiver behind Julian Edelman. A revolving door has seen Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon and now Mohamed Sanu play this role. Young wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Philip Dorsett have played well at times, but have yet to carve out a significant role in this offense. Until the Patriots find that solid second wide-receiver

behind Edelman, their passing game will continue to suffer. A football team is connected in terms of their offense and defense. When the Patriots defense has been playing well, the offense seems to be playing well, but as witnessed in their game against the Ravens, the moment their defense lets up a couple of big plays, the offense falters. The next several weeks have tough opponents in store for the Patriots, and if Brady and the offense cannot improve their recent lack of yardage and touchdown production, the Patriots may not be the same championship contender they have consistently been over the past two decades.

Who will win NFL MVP? Wylie: As much as I enjoy watching MVP-contender Christian McCaffrey terrorize defenses, there is little chance that he will win the MVP award. Since 2007, only one non-quarterback, Adrian Peterson, has received this title. Over the course of that season, Peterson recorded 2,314 total yards and 13 touchdowns, just 8 yards short of the record, despite coming off an ACL tear. Through 10 games, McCaffrey has 1,576 yards and 14 touchdowns. Despite being on track to beat Peterson’s stats, McCaffrey must achieve at least 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns, as well as lead his team to the playoffs, to even be considered a true contender to win the MVP award. My current NFL MVP front-runners are Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Each player has effectively carried the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks respectively to one of the top records in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers currently has the edge for winning the MVP award because he is playing under an inexperienced first-year head coach, which is a significantly more difficult situation than Russell Wilson, who is working with the same coach that he has been for the past decade. Of the two, whoever has the better second half of the season will win the MVP.

Should the NBA change the playoff format? Wylie: The Western Conference of the NBA is significantly better than the Eastern Conference. By the time this season ends, there will be multiple non-playoff teams in the west that have better records than multiple playoff teams in the east. Here are a couple solutions to this problem. The best proposed publicly known playoff format change would eliminate the conferences that teams play in and instead take the top 16 teams from the league. This approach is feasible, but the regular season format would have to change. Teams currently play teams that are in their own conference more than teams outside their conference. If this were to change, East Coast teams would play West Coast teams more often. My proposal is that the NBA keeps its current scheduling and conferences, but instead allows only the top four teams in each conference guaranteed playoff berths instead of the eight in today’s format. The remaining eight playoff spots would go to the teams with the best records, regardless of conference, to ensure that the best teams make the playoffs and avoid the current massive difference in skill between the two conferences.


NOVEMBER 20, 2019 Page 23

The Lion’s Roar Issuu.com/thelionsroar SPORTS

SPORTS

SUMMARY FIELD HOCKEY

photo by Grace Denninger

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lthough the field hockey team ended its season with a 0-19-1 record, they ended it content with their progress. “Overall, despite the scoreboard, we had a really good season, and we all improved a lot,” junior Bella Greenbaum said. "Not only in the game but in our communication and team skills.” These numbers fail to highlight the team’s accomplishments, captain senior Katelyn Hatem said. “Although our record does not emphasize this, our team did an amazing job of coming together and playing

Four fall teams reflect on their past seasons and look forward to future successes By Henry Blanchette, Dorra Guermazi and Emily Schwartz

0-19-1 as a team,” she said. Tying their game against Brookline was a milestone this season, junior Kat Papaporfiriou said. “It was special because a couple of weeks before, we had lost to them 1-4, and we walked into this game expecting it to be a tough game, but we stayed on our game, and we ended up tying 1-1,” she said. Despite their losses, the team kept up their morale and found motivation in their improvement. Hatem said. “We surrounded ourselves with positivity and constantly boosted each

other up,” she said. As a result, their skills and team chemistry improved, junior Shahar Ezrach said. “We all got much stronger this year, and that helped us grow as a team together and really give it our all every game,” she said. Ezrach said she remains optimistic about next season. “I’m looking forward to still being on a team with such amazing people and growing as a team together and really becoming stronger and attaining more wins and just making sure everyone has fun playing the sport they love,” she said.

BOYS SOCCER

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nding with a record of 2-8-7, the boys soccer team faced and overcame the hurdle of leadership change while playing through a competitive season. Head coach John Conte was placed on administrative leave weeks before the season’s end for several OUIs and inappropriate behavior. Despite this sudden change, the boys were hopeful through the remainder of the season. “The team, in a way, coached ourselves at the end of the season,” senior John Wend-

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

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inishing the regular season 11-11 and advancing to the playoffs, the volleyball team is proud of their performance, junior Maddie Xerras said. “We’ve all just had a really great bond with each other,” she said. “You win some, you lose some, but we’ve gone through it all.” Even in moments of defeat, the team was able to bounce back, junior Maggie Xu said. “Our team dynamic changed a lot from the past year because we’ve gone through so much together and became so much closer in the process,” she said. “Everyone on the team genuinely loves playing this sport, and it really shows through their dedication to the team and this program.” Following their regular season, the team won their first playoff game 3-0 against

2-8-7 landt said. “It brought us closer, if anything. We played together. Through all the losses, the ties, the wins, we stayed together as a team.” “We were really close,” senior Nick Wilson-Thayer said. “Everybody knew each other really well, so our chemistry was definitely really good.” Though they only won one of their first 17 games of the season, the team finished strong with a 3-0 victory over Newton North. “We ended the season in the best way

possible by beating North convincingly,” captain senior Isaac-John Enelamah said. The win was especially significant for the seniors as it was their last game. It uplifted the team’s spirits and showcased their talent after a difficult season, Wendlandt said. “I felt our record didn’t represent how good our team was,” he said. “We beat North 3-0, and they’re making it to the playoffs. It shows we have potential.” Given that potential, the team should have worked on their offense and teamwork,

Wilson-Thayer said. “We could have improved on scoring,” he said. “We could have improved on playing more as a team and not individually.” With new players and a new coach next year, the future of the boys soccer team remains uncertain. “Next year is going to be almost a completely new team,” sophomore Daniel Stevens said. “With our former coach not necessarily coming back, it’ll be interesting.”

11-11 Medford. Having played under three varsity coaches over the last three seasons, the team has faced frequent leadership changes. Making playoffs under varsity head coach Lucas Coffeen in his first

season coaching was a huge accomplishment for the team, Xu said. “I’m proud of everyone who stepped up and adjusted to these circumstances so that our team could advance into the postseason,” she said.

The girls ended their season on Nov. 4, after losing 3-0 in a playoff game against Newton North. Nonetheless, junior Hannah Balcanoff said she is already looking forward to the next season and future opportunities for the team to excel and for veteran athletes to help incoming and rising varsity players. “I’m really excited to help the younger kids have the same experience as I’ve had, and I’m eager to continue to grow and learn as a player,” she said. Xu said she is also looking forward to what the future holds for the team. “I’ve always looked up to our seniors for their leadership, positivity and contributions to the program,” she said. “It will be very exciting to take their place and become a role model for the underclassmen.”

at night,” Ware said. Di Leo, however, said the team is not as spirited as he would like. “I wish dance team would get better every year, getting excited about spirit because I think it really does make a team more cohesive and fun,” he said. Though the DCL competition results were disappointing, the team still qualified for an upcoming invitational where they will face defending champions from Framingham High School.

“It’s basically been a competition b et we en S out h and North about who’s going to get second,” Ware said. The dance team is looking forward to continuing to improve in the winter season.

photo by May Chiu

DANCE TEAM

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he dance team spent their season preparing for the Endicott College Fall Invitational on Nov. 17. While they performed at football games, the dance team is more than just halftime entertainment, captain senior Callie Ware said. On Oct. 30, the team competed at the DCL competition in order to advance to more competitive dance-offs. South placed last of two teams, which came as a surprise to the squad, Ware said. “Usually, we’re the only dance team

who’s competing. We were really surprised because we had no idea [the other team was] going to be there. Despite the competitions, junior Michael Di Leo said that his favorite part of the season is performing at football games, especially at Friday Night Lights. “It’s probably the best thing about the entire football season,” he said. “It’s a highlight for everyone because the whole school is there, everybody’s watching, and I think it’s really fun to just be there

photo by Netta Dror


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