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june 6, 2013

Selection Committee chooses “Outliers: The Story of Success” for One School, One Book David Li & Amelia Stern News Editors

The One School, One Book Selection Committee has chosen “Outliers: The Story of Success,” a non-fiction book by Malcolm Gladwell, for this fall’s One School, One Book event. The committee, composed of teachers from various subjects, juniors Hannah Nahar and Andrew Dembling and Julie Sall of the Newton Schools Foundation, started meeting in February to determine next year’s book. Committee members said they are confident students will embrace the selection despite its non-fiction genre. “Outliers” discusses why some people succeed and others do not. According to English teacher and Chair of the One School, One Book Selection Committee David Weintraub, Gladwell argues that success depends upon a complex set of circumstances and opportunities. “The way I see it, the central question that Malcolm Gladwell asks us is: are we responsible in making our own success or are we deluding ourselves to think we have control over our own success?” Weintraub said. “My guess is that most people at South would say

that we have the ability to make our own success; we have the ability to control our own future.” Freshman Gabriela Taslitsky, however, said that the book’s genre could deter readers. “I think it’s going to be hard for students to be interested in it since it’s a nonfiction book,” she said. Nahar agreed that a nonfiction book could be problematic, but said she remains optimistic. “I think people are a little nervous that it’s going to be boring, but there are different kinds of non-fiction, [and] hopefully this one won’t be dry,” she said. Weintraub said he recognizes concerns about non-fiction writing but said “Outliers” was chosen for its potential to have meaningful effects on a wide range of students. “It’s always a challenge with the One School, One Book process — you know there’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to like the choice,” Weintraub said. “You hope there are going to be a lot of people who discover something, but we wouldn’t have chosen ‘Outliers’ if we didn’t think that every student couldn’t love a piece of it or couldn’t grow to love it as the book continues.” “Outliers” was also selected for its wide range of appeal, according to Weintraub. “I think ‘Outliers’


photo by Yu-Ching Chang

The One School, One Book Selection Committee chose “Outliers: The Story of Success” as this year’s read. is going to appeal to a very broad spectrum of students in school,” he said. Although all students can relate to the book, according to Nahar, the subject matter has particular resonance at South. “I thought it would be a really good choice for our school specifically since there is so much pressure to succeed,” Nahar said. Librarian Jennifer Dimmick said many students will enjoy “Out-

liers” because it can also provide guidance in the turbulent time of adolescence. “The topic of the book will be particularly interesting to kids who are in a time in their lives [where they] are trying to figure out what success means,” she said. Freshman Kieran Fitzmaurice, who has read the book, said that one will gain perspective after reading it. “‘Outliers’ ... makes you think more about the world around you and how it works, and it makes

you think less about the individual people in it,” Fitzmaurice said. According to Weintraub, the book’s new perspectives generate interest and constitute a rewarding read. “You can crinkle your nose[at] the idea of the book, but once you start reading the book you’re going to be drawn into the mystery,” he said. “You’re going to be challenged to think about things in a new way and the experience will be very satisfying.”

Senate passes a resolution decrying club fees Carter Howe & Julia Mount News Reporters

South Senate has unanimously passed a resolution recommending the Newton School Committee to eliminate the $125 student activity, or club, fee, because, according to senators, it hinders club activity and participation. Senate President junior Jack Lovett spearheaded the effort, and the Equal Opportuniy Committee brought the resolution to the floor. “It’s definitely been an issue that’s been close to my heart; I’ve been wanting to address it since the end of my freshman year,” he said. The fee was instituted in early 2011 as a way to collect revenue to defray a $4 million deficit. “The hope was that we would raise a million dollars in extra fees so that we only had to cut $3 million in programs and staff,” chair of the Newton School Committee Claire Sokoloff said. Lovett, the Equal Opportunity Committee and the rest of the Senate worked together to form the resolution, “The Equal Opportunity Committee took up our Student Activity Fee ... and they started to do some research and ... we all put it together and put the resolution out,” he said. Member of the Equal Opportunities Committee senior Wendy Ma said that the committee undertook the issue of club fees in order to represent of student interest. “We felt like we wanted to make a bigger impact on the community, and we were looking at issues that a lot of students brought to us,”

Ma said. The Senate passed the resolution Jan. 17, 2013, but it was readopted with revisions March 28 and sent electronically to the Newton School Committee for consideration April 27. The Board of Aldermen also released a resolution against the fee on May 20 as a part of the operating budget for the next fiscal year. The resolution comprises nine arguments to abolish the club fee. “Our arguments were first that the club fee discourages the creation of clubs in our Newton high school community,” Lovett said. “We thought that in the Newton South community it wouldn’t be a smart idea to discourage people from

fee went on.” Understanding that the fee could disproportionately burden students, members of the Newton School Committee have tried to make the fee more accommodating. “There’s a waiver program and it’s pretty simple straightforward: ... any student whose participation in a club would be deterred because of the fee is encouraged to apply for a waiver,” Sokoloff said. According to Lovett, however, the fee should be waived for all students, as it is no longer necessary. “[The School Committee] passed the override and taxes have [been] raised in this city, [so it is] time to get rid of the fee because if you’re getting more revenue

We want people to keep their faith in the community and feel comfortable joining whatever they want to join without having any of this extra baggage to worry about. - Wendy Ma, Class of 2013 joining clubs.” Sophomore Senator Eli Levine said this argument resulted from clubs’ recent inability to maintain a base of students. “We found that many clubs run by students were shut down or went underground simply because there wasn’t enough interest by students who were going to pay the club fee,” he said. Junior William Su said that he has also noticed the club fee’s effect on participation. “A lot of people have stopped going to clubs because of [the fee],” he said. “I used to go to badminton club with some friends, but a lot of them just dropped out as soon as the

then there’s no point in charging unnecessary fees,” he said. Sokoloff, however, said that while there is no longer a deficit, the budget is still not stable. “Basically the last two years have not had a gap but we have not had extra money either ... so if we cut all of our fees then we would need to make it up elsewhere,” she said. Lovett,though, said that the club fee’s ineffectiveness means that its removal would not be damaging. “[Senate] Vice President [senior Nick Hurney] did look at the budget information, and [the city] expected to get $200,000 in from the fee and only ended up

getting $2,000,” Lovett said. Sokoloff said she acknowledges these shortcomings but maintains that the fee is important. “It hasn’t raised quite what we expected, but there are definitely significant additional revenues coming in from the additional fee,” Sokoloff said. The resolution aims to preserve and improve clubs, according to Lovett. “On the resolution we made three requests: first that they remove the fee; second, if they don’t, that at least they lower the price of the fee and third that if you are not going to do any of those options then at least be more transparent and start spending the revenue that they get on clubs in Newton South,” he said. Ma said she hopes that a response to the resolution will come sooner rather than later. “As soon as possible would be best because we want people to keep their faith in the community and feel comfortable joining whatever they want to join without having any of this extra baggage to worry about,” she said. According to Sokoloff, the School Committee’s verdict, which will come sometime in the next school year, hinges on data that will determine whether clubs are truly struggling under the fee. “We are taking a deeper look at that fee to understand the impact it has on the number of clubs,” she said. Lovett said he has faith the resolution will have a significant impact on the community. “I would like to see this fee taken down as soon as possible,” he said. “Especially for the 2013-2014 academic year, I’d like to see no one have to pay this fee.”