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April 2016



April 2016 - Volume 32 No. 6




2 April 2016


NEWS Harrislam celebrates a decade of MIST with sweep Ashley An and Rabia Hasan STAFF WRITERS

THE TEN-YEAR anniversary of Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament New York (MIST NY) kicked off to a huge success, attended by Muslims and non-Muslims alike from numerous high schools across New York State. The annual threeday tournament aims to create a network of diverse peers who share similar interests, enhance students’ thoughts and ideas through creative means, and spread a deeper understanding of Islam, all through a wide variety of competitive events. Townsend Harris High School competed with its largest Harrislam team yet, consisting of fifty people. “[Our team] grew in size, which was actually pretty unexpected because a good amount of our team last year was seniors,” observed Senior Sarah DeFilippo, co-president of MSA. “We didn’t think we could replace them but we had a huge influx of first-time competitors—not only freshmen, but all grades.” This year’s tournament highlighted the Harrislam team’s morale and enthusiasm. The team broke many barriers, placing in competitions the

team had not gained recognition for in past years. Junior Tahiya Choudhury placed first in Qur’an memorization level 2, while Afeefah Anwar placed second in Qur’an memorization level 1. The Harrislam team achieved first place in both Math Olympics and Short Fiction by Aqib Sadique and Sarah Defilippo, respectively. “For 3 years we never won Math Olympics or Sister’s Quran Recitation but we placed first in both this year. We never won before in 3D Art or Original Oratory but we placed in those competitions as well. The awards ceremony was very surprising for us to say the least,” Aqib commented on his reaction to the results. Aside from the ten year celebration, many students noted changes which made this year’s event more memorable than previous years. Seniors Aqib Sadique and Malik Khan agreed attending Columbia’s main campus rather than the medical center was very memorable. Specifically, Aqib stated, “The most notable difference in MIST this year was that it took place at the Columbia University main campus instead of at the Columbia University Medical Center, where it used to be for the past


MIST members gather outside this year’s Harrislam.

three years. The change in venue was definitely a plus, since I was seeing the campus for the first time, and it was beautiful.” “It also felt really powerful seeing so many Muslims united at MIST,” Tahiya contributed to the experience. “There are lots of people who aren’t Muslim that attend MIST as well, so it was nice seeing them learn more about Islam and all the negative portrayal there is in the media.” Sophomore Zayyan Alam-

gir, who also experienced MIST for the first time, remarked, “The workshops talking about empowering us to avoid oppression and being sincere with the people around me has helped me shape myself into a better person.” Ellen Fee, who has been a part of MIST since 2012 said, “I was so proud of our underclassmen (esp. 9th and 10th graders) who worked very hard and placed in many events!”

Attending MIST for the first time as a guest, English teacher Georgia Brandeis stated, “I heard lots of students screaming and cheering for [participants] from Cardozo...I saw these students from Townsend Harris also cheering for participants from Cardozo. It was so beautiful to see just how supportive everyone is... The unity that MIST brings cannot be found anywhere else.”

that “Daedalus was a program that was a fifteen year process.” Ms. Brustein stated that “we are learning the system as you are learning.” In regards to Daedalus, “it didn’t work exactly the way we wanted it to from the beginning.” She states that she is lucky to be working directly with the software people at eSchoolData, and they are trying “to remake the program to suit our needs” and hopes to improve the system with “student feedback.” Humanities teacher and Program coordinator Ms. Chung shared similar sentiments, “If we had more training the experience would be more pleasant. We started mid-semester and that caused a lot of frustration to learn a new system. Most of the time the issue is with students not following instructions properly or miscommunication [during the elective process]. With Daedalus, it took more than five years to get used to.” Despite frustrations, Noorshifa expressed that, “Only one person [Ms. Brustein] knows the system well, and there are so many of us to cater to.”


project on the morals of NYC public high school students and rates of academic cheating. She remarked, “I was well-prepared for the competition because I’ve been doing this work since the beginning of my junior year, and I knew every aspect of my project and could answer the judges’ interview questions nicely.” Senior Billal Alamarie won a third place award in the behavioral and social science category as well as a $16,000 CUNY scholarship. He stated that “The students involved in this competition came from top schools... it was competitive. I think the presentation might have been the determining factor.” Senior Meharin Arzu won a second place award from the American Psychological Association with her project on the effects of sleep on cognitive health. She felt “very well prepared for the competition because Mr. Scardino made us practice in class a lot.” Senior Delphine Zheng also won a second place award, and seniors Nathalie Rivas and Dysron Marshall won third place awards for their research projects.

eSchool Data causes elective complications Ilma Aamir and Aly Tantawy STAFF WRITERS

THIS YEAR, Townsend Harris transitioned from the traditional method of inputting electives, Daedalus, to a new system, eSchoolData. Many students experienced difficulties that stemmed from uncertainty surrounding the process when inputting elective choices. Students expressed frustration due to complications during registration. Junior Noorshifa Arsaath explained, “I anticipated problems since it was a new system so I made sure to register on the first day.” However, the next day she received an email telling her to add comments to her selections and had to reselect all of her courses. She described her whole experience as “frustrating” and “horrible.” Freshman Oluwafisayo Adeoye, who was new to the entire process of choosing an elective, recalled, “It wasn’t until I asked others that I realized that you had to type the course manually rather than searching for it by category.” Assistant Principal of Math, Science, and Technology Susan

Brustein helped resolve these issues by providing extensive assistance during free bands. She hopes to improve upon next year’s system by learning from mistakes in this year’s system. All of these complications had many students longing for Daedalus. Despite the flaws presented in the new system for selecting electives, Ms. Brustein believes that the system has overall been a success. “More students submitted requests than ever before and there were only 20 students who did not request courses,” she said. She stated that the “high turnout could be attributed to the ‘simple menu feature’ which made the process easier for students to select their courses.” Ms. Brustein said that “since [we] were only in week one of the system we did not yet know what it was that needed to be changed.” She says she “currently has no complaints, but in a week or two, [we] can get a better sense of what tweaks [we] want to make.” Furthermore, Ms. Brustein acknowledges that eSchoolData is “not yet an improvement over Daedalus,” but

Harrisites win research awards at NYCSEF THE NEW York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF), is the largest high school research competition in NYC. Every year, hundreds of students from the five boroughs participate in this event sponsored by the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York. The competition is comprised of research projects in different categories such as mathematics, behavioral and social sciences, and physical, environmental, and natural sciences. Judges evaluate competitors on the extensiveness of their studies and their presentations. The top prizes include scholarships to study at CUNY’s City College of New York and Hunter College as well as a trip to represent NYC at the 2016 Intel ISEF competition. This year, Harrisites entered the competition with projects from their Science Research and Social Science Research classes. Senior Peony Tse won First Place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category with her


April 2016



PIPPIN LOOKS FOR MEANING: MUSIC WITH HARRISITE PLAYERS BY ASHLEY ZHAO, STAFF WRITER WITH A whimsical circusthemed backdrop and a boy’s overwhelming desire to be extraordinary, Pippin took the stage in Townsend Harris’s annual spring production. A reproduction of the Broadway classic from 1972, this year’s school play took a sharp turn from last year’s lighthearted production of Pippin, as it dealt with far more serious themes while still maintaining comedic qualities. The story begins with a young prince by the name of Pippin (sophomore Noah Sadik), who returns to the kingdom of his father, Charlemagne (junior William Mun) in the hopes of discovering something meaningful to fill his life. His journey for significance leads him to try several different lifestyles, from soldier to womanizer, king to artist, and preacher. He is unable to find happiness in any of his

pursuits, until a widowed farmowner named Catherine (junior Maria Silaban) and her son Theo (junior Leo Rodriguez) take him into their relatively simple lives. Fear of an ordinary life eventually drives him away, and despair pushes him towards the ultimate “finale.” In the end, however, he realizes that happiness can be found within the simple things in life, and returns to spend his life with Catherine and Theo. Director and English teacher Joseph Canzoneri contemplates the more serious nature of this year’s play, saying, “The major theme is a young person’s quest to fill his life with meaning. It’s something everyone can relate to because we’re all trying to find our place in the world.” Junior Leo Rodriguez further elaborated on the ideas behind the play, stating that “Pip-


pin does a great job at exploring ideas and fears we all have, like not being able to meet expectations, finding what makes some-

“ The major theme is a young person’s quest to fill his life with meaning. It’s something everyone can relate to. ” one special, and wanting to stray from what’s just ordinary.” In spite of the deep ideas

touched on by this year’s play, humor remained an integral part of the performance, with senior Sarah Defilippo expressing her belief that “the humor was the most unique part of the play... the jokes were incredibly engaging, and their executions were perfect.” A large part of this unique humor throughout the play must be attributed to the overwhelming number of sexual innuendos, mainly stemming from King Charlemagne and Pippin, both relatively licentious characters. Junior Daniell Morales added, “What makes this play unique is the fact that it is the first one with a direct sex scene,” showing the success of a risky move in the name of plot development and comedy. However, senior Elina Niyazov, who stars as the Leading

Player, points out the important difference between the type of humor used in this year’s and last year’s play. “This year’s play has deeper meaning, it’s more of a high comedy, compared to last year’s knee-slap comedy [Legally Blonde].” She also addresses the relative mystery behind this year’s play, saying, “People were more aware of what Legally Blonde was about, unlike Pippin.” Clearly, the general lack of knowledge of this year’s play did not take away from the audience’s enjoyment of everything it had to offer. Junior Keefa Lovelace liked “how [the performers] incorporated the humor with the acting and the singing.”


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4 April 2016



Summer Camp

Start Date: Saturday, June 25, 2016 – Sunday, August 21, 2016 Class 1: Test 1 (June 25) Class 2: Review 1 (June 26) *NO CLASS Saturday July 2* *NO CLASS Saturday July 3* Class 3: Test 2 (July 9) Class 4: Review 2 (July 10) Class 5: Test 3 (July 16) Class 6: Review 3 (July 17) Class 7: Test 4 (July 23)

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April 2016


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6 April 2016


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR H A R R I S I T E S R E S P ON D : “ S H OU L D L E GI T I M AT E C ON C E R N S B E D I S M I S S E D A S ‘ I s l a m o p h o b i a ’ ? ”

In the January issue of The Classic, our staff reported upon incidents of Harrisites experiencing an Islamophobic backlash following recent global attacks. In our next issue, English teacher Robert Babstock sent in a letter to the editor questioning the use of the term “Islamophobia.” Since that letter’s publication, numerous students have sent in their own responses. We have published and excerpted from some here. The rest are available at

“Don’t use LGBT youth as a way to justify Islamophobia.”

“From what I gather, the recent rise in verbal and physical hostility to some of our Muslim students prompted the celebration of culture from the Middle East. Religious hatred is wicked. That should go without saying, but certainly recent events like attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and many German cities inspire legitimate concerns. Are legitimate concerns to be dismissed as “Islamophobia? - Robert Babstock, The Classic, March 2016

by Sarah Gafur and Daniell Morales

IN A letter to the editor in last month’s Classic, Mr. Babstock wrote the following: “Most of us know that such an event as the GSAhosted event are impossible to conceive in a Muslim majority nation.” The inconceivability of an event like The Phoenix’s GSA reading in an Islamic country isn’t far fetched. However, one must wonder how likely it is for such events to happen in certain parts of America. In states like South Carolina, North Carolina and Mississippi, many schools have banned the inclusion of non-curriculum clubs as a way to stop the creation of Gay-Straight Alliance. There have been multiple cases brought up by the American Civil Liberties Union fought against different states and their high schools for the refusal of creating a GSA. In 2015 there were 25 murders of trans women, 41% of the trans community has attempted suicide at one point in their lives, compared to the 4.6% of the general public, and everyday you see another state coming forward with antigay or anti-trans laws. It is hard to believe that any gay pride march would happen on the streets of Saudi Arabia, but don’t think it’s easy for people to walk around out of the closet in America as well. As president of the GSA and someone who has Islamic ties within her family,

I can tell you all it’s possible having their hijabs ripped He proclaims that the only to be a part of more than off their heads, and mosques mode to rejuvenate a Musone community. It’s impor- being vandalized. There is a lim’s faith and title in the tant to keep our perspective corporatization of the LGBT culture is through radical intersectional. It’s impor- struggle with rainbows be- acts such as bombing the tant to ensure that we don’t ing trademarked. There is sources that interfere with leave behind any parts of an erasure of their religious views. In ourselves because someone certain summary, a bomb is the believes that they can’t co- sexreligious cleanser for exist. It’s easy to think that a Muslim which there are molds that everyis beyond an one fits into, a Muslim mold Islamophobic with a hijab and a gay mold accusat ion. with an ever present rain- “Scapegoating Islam in this ‘cru- To referbow, but that’s not what ence such a the real world looks like. sade’ for tolerance of LGBT youth xenophoWe’re all a part of difwhilst simultaneously being in- bic article ferent communities and in a school tolerant of Islam earns one, to a made up of value different things within ourselves. There immigrants superlative degree, the label are not cement walls bewill do noth‘islamophobe.’” tween marginalized peoing to further ples allowing for one socithe point. etal, economic, or personal S c ap e go at i n g disadvantage per person. u al i Islam in this “crusade” In the article Mr. Bab- ties withfor tolerance of LGBT stock asked Classic readers in the spectrum and the youth whilst simultaneousto review there is massive thought that since marriage ly being intolerant of Islam praise for the land we live is legal, there are no longer earns one, to a superlative in. “People leave the Mid- hurdles every LGBT per- degree, the label “islamodle East for the West, in son will have to face. There phobe,” the same label that particular Europe and the are people being murdered is trying to be disproved. United States, because it is every day for being trans, It is unfair and incorrect to an oasis, not the hellhole children kicked out of their think that Islamic countries many of them came from,” homes by homophobic par- are the only ones where author Victor Davis Hanson ents, exorcisms conducted LGBT youth wouldn’t have states. Of course, we have in church basements where a voice when in parts of the appearance of a sta- the “gay” are banished. America they don’t have ble society due to current Hanson scrutinizes the a voice either. Don’t use worldly situations. America religion by blaming exter- LGBT youth as a way to is a desireable place to live nal sources for their issues. justify Islamophobia. Gay in, but to be glorified as a “The more a Muslim youth muslims exist. utopia is far from accurate. enjoys casual sexual hookAmerica, the melting ups, easy access to liquor pot—here you have people and drugs, and unapologetic drowning in the diversity, secular indulgence, all the drowning in the melting more the voluptuary feels pot, with students being he has betrayed his culture, called terrorists, women religion, and very identity.”

“If everyone knew what Islam really was, there would be no Islamophobia.” by Sarah A’idah Defilippo IN RESPONSE to the letter to the editor, I’d like to raise a few of my own legitimate concerns. I am legitimately concerned that one day, I will be locked out of this country, that a brother of mine will be targeted and scapegoated like Ahmed Ferhani was. I am legitimately concerned that society will fail to become inclusive, and that people will, in perpetuity, equate being Muslim with being violent, sexist, racist, or homophobic. I have a fear of what Islamophobia will do to our country, while the

more prevalent fear seems to be simply of Islam and of Muslims—where did they come from? Do they really want to kill me just because I’m not Muslim? But before I go off into the Crusades and the statistics of whom Muslim extremist terrorists really kill, I must ask: if Muslims believe that God himself dedicated an entire chapter of the Qur’an to “The Disbelievers,” people who don’t believe in Islam, or—as many critics like to say—”infidels,” in a book meant for the establishment of peace and justice on

earth, the lesson at the end of that chapter being: “for you is your religion, and for me is my religion,” how is it justified to say that Islam is a religion of compulsion and obligation? The establishment, rise, and criminal history of DAESH/ISIS are anything but Islamic—and if that seems unreal, just look up the Letter to Baghdadi. And while Americans worry about Islam and invasion, we forget about the havoc that our government and our army have wreaked on the outside world. We selectively forget the history

of winner-take-all capitalism that destroyed tens of other economies and, yes, brought many of us here in search of opportunity. Yet one, or maybe even two, diasporas later, we stand here facing the threat that our blood may flow into the rivers of milk and honey that we dreamed of. To think democracy and civil liberties are at stake are quite crippling fears, and the rush with which they come about certainly do not make it easier to fight against them. It’s so easy to forget to ask yourself what the

other side is, to really touch base with your conscience, and to ask, “does this make sense?” Fear may be innate, but it is not always justified. Our pursuance of deconstructing Islamophobia is not a dismissal of your fears, but an indictment of what they really are: a sad ignorance. More importantly, it is an invitation for everyone to remove the wool from over their eyes and see because if everyone knew what Islam really was, there would be no Islamophobia.


April 2016




eSchoolData complications cause chaos


T THE start of the 20152 016 ye a r, To w n s e n d Harris HIgh School students were introduced to eSchoolData: the system replacing the well-loved Daedalus. Students were told by the administration that eSchoolData was the best suited replacement for Daedalus, as it would provide much of the same features, but just on a different interface. However, the experiences of students prove contrary to this statement, as can be seen with the frequency of complaints against the system, particularly involving the recent elective selection process. W h en c ho o s i n g e l e ctives, students found themselves in the midst of a string of random courses or a lack thereof—Punjabi was offered as a language course although it does not exist at THHS, while an option for the science research class was nonexistent until a few days before the deadline. Some courses listed on the PDF on the school website were also not consistently available on eSchoolData throughout the week. A course would appear one day only to disappear the next day; senior volleyball was not listed, despite being on the PDF. In addition, eSchoolData presented a whole slew of problems in regards to prerequisite courses. As the courses taken by students in previous years were not transferred over from

Daedalus, students were told that they were not qualified to take certain courses because they failed to fulfill prerequisites even if this was not the case. Despite being a fully electronic system, eSchoolData made it tedious for students to choose their preferred courses. If a student needed to change one elective, he or she would have to delete all the courses listed previously and redo the entire process.

Many unfamiliar students have resorted to ignoring the system or pestering the few faculty members who are somewhat familiar with the system.

A nother issue with eSchoolData was its accessibility. Busy THHS students spend much of their time in school and with such a cramped schedule, it is more convenient for students to access the website from anywhere. While Daedalus was compatible with cellular devices, eSchoolData hosts an awkward interface difficult to navigate on phones. Other problems include a lack of access to full transcripts or overall averages, issues that were never obser ved with Daedalus. In addition, there is a separate system to log in community service, known as x2VOL, and the information from eSchoolData and x2VOL are not synced. The dissatisfaction with

eSchoolData is not limited to the student body. Many faculty members have expressed frustration at the difficulty of sending out mass emails to their students, a feature that many teachers were easily able to use with Daedalus. There have been multiple occasions on which the grades that teachers entered into the system were not visible to the students or inaccurately reflected in the gradebook. More recently, teachers received a list of students who applied to their classes for next year, but this vague list listed all of the students who applied to the class without distinguishing between who listed the class as a first or second choice. The complicated nature of eSchoolData has even driven some teachers to opt out of using it entirely, giving their students no way of knowing how they are doing in class. Although the chaos that arose during the transition from Daedalus to eSchoolData is understandable, it continues to affect the student body and faculty to an overwhelming extent. Many unfamiliar students have resorted to ignoring the system or pestering the few faculty members who are somewhat familiar with the system. There was even a petition created for the school to abandon eSchoolData, confirming its negative reception by students and teachers alike.We agree with the student body; THHS needs a new system that is more capable of meeting the needs of a 21st century education.


“My voice has been distorted.” Rafa Sattar STAFF WRITER

In last month’s letter, the author described the fear that some may possess of my religion as a “legitimate concern.” The anger, sadness, and sense of alienation that I share with so many other Muslim-American students ought to pose to a teacher a very legitimate concern. The letter quotes a scholar who describes how Muslims must respect the liberties granted by the United States if they likewise expect to be treated with respect. Not only do I “put up” with the all-encompassing

freedom that America bestows; I cherish it. And yet, the scarf that decorates my head warrants that I be punished, that my fears and perspectives be ignored, that I be treated as an outsider. The desire to distance oneself from the stagnant, homophobic depictions of Muslims has instilled in many a sense of self-loathing for their religion, culture, and ethnic heritage. Far from such gross distortions, Islam is intertwined with my identity as a free-wheeling, freethinking Muslim-American woman; it overwhelms me as to why so many feel the need to

convince me of otherwise. For Muslim-Americans, we live in the pursuit, not of terrorizing others, but of being embraced as equals. Our voices enrich the American spirit, and yet our anger is undermined as overreacting. We refuse to be treated as second-rate citizens for the sake of appeasing the “legitimate concerns” so many often use as just reason to stigmatize us. The nonchalance of others will not discourage us from granting ourselves a voice. We refuse to succumb to the expectations of others.

EST. 1984

The Classic is an open forum for the expression of student views. The opinions expressed therein should not be taken to represent those of the administration or faculty, or of the student body as a whole.

EDITORIAL STAFF EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Sumaita Hasan Jason Lalljee NEWS EDITORS Olivia Chan Poonam Dass

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8 April 2016



Article by Ashley Zhao CONTINUES FROM PAGE 3

Freshman Jacqui Valenti thought “[the performers] had really great costume design, and the acting was excellent.” Daniell, who played Professor Callahan in last year’s Legally Blonde, expressed great nostalgia over watching Pippin as an audience member. “I can still recall the feelings from my times in the play. The pressure, nerves, and all eyes on you, yet no one seemed affected. Everything went flawlessly,” he said. Behind this “flawless” show were the countless hours of hard work and dedication by the cast, crew, and directors. Director Rich Louis-Pierre said, “The hardest part of putting any play together is putting all the pieces together.

You have to deal with the musical component, the technical component, and all these parts start coming together towards the end.”Mr. Canzoneri emphasized the difficulties of having performers with conflicting schedules, saying, “The hardest part of putting the play together is getting everyone to come to rehearsal. We have a cast of 27, and we still haven’t had the entire cast together.” Some performers cited the rigorous songs and dances as a challenge they had to overcome, while others found their character roles to be difficult to master. Junior William Mun belongs to the latter group, as he believed “emanating the character’s personality was very difficult [for me],” though he was able to get past this with help from Mr. Canzoneri, as well


April 2016

PI N “EXTRAORDINARY” ONSTAGE Photo Journal by Faheema Syahbal as some in-depth analysis of his lines. Noah, on the other hand, said, “The most difficult part is the songs and dances that I have, just because I have a lot high notes that I have to sustain for a long period of time, and the dances are all pretty complex.” Even with these obstacles and difficulties in creating the play, no one in the cast or crew expressed a single regret about their work over the past few months. Senior Fahim Nousad, who played the Baron and the Peasant, believed that the experience of dancing and singing with everyone on stage “helped bring all of [them] closer together in [their] friendships.” Leo stated, “What makes the play worth it is seeing your hard work come to life. Whatever

your part is, no matter how big or small, it really shows when you put all your passion into it.” Mr. Louis-Pierre summed up his take on the play, stating that “it gives students a skill set that cannot be learned in a classroom... Socially, it gives everyone a sense of belonging. You become part of a group working towards the same goal.” Elina, reflecting on her experience in the past four years of THHS productions, stated, “Towards the end, you start learning the meaning behind the character, and you realize that it’s more than just a play.”


10 April 2016



Remove the stigma of interfaith dating Irene Soekiswo STAFF WRITER

IN OUR society, there are many interracial and homosexual couples, but there are very few interfaith couples. Interfaith dating has been labeled taboo, mainly because of parents, as most want their sons and daughters to date and marry people of the same religion. However, it is difficult to find a person you not only like, but someone who also shares the same beliefs as you. The emphasis on dating someone of the same religion should not be so valued and esteemed as it is in our society today. Of course it is nice to have a significant other of the same religion, as parental approval would not be a problem, but in many cases, dating a person of another belief can be a meaningful learning experience. There are other major factors besides religion that can influence a relationship. In many families, parents wish for their children to marry people of the same belief sys-

tem, as it ensures that the be liefs o f their ancestors and the family honor will be preserved through their children and grandchildren. This need has changed over time, as modern values have influenced original traditions. But even with some evident changes, very few interfaith couples exist. People have developed a fear of dating someone of a different belief, or a person with no belief. Especially as teenagers, we should be able to experiment and see what it’s like to break out of these boundaries that society has imposed on us. Dating a person of a different belief system is one of the few things that confine our age, and it is something that does not necessarily have to cause harm in the future of

a rela-








Along with the belief that dating people of the same r e l i g i on en s u r e that a paren t ’ s belief is passed down unto his or her children, many believe religion creates a strong bond between two people. But religion, while useful in establishing compatibility in couples, isn’t the only unifying factor of a relationship. Intimacy, communication, and trust are all qualities of a healthy relationship. A strong bond is created through the actions, words, and emotions that each partner shares with the other. Interfaith dating also has many positive results that cannot be found in couples of the same belief system. For example, interfaith couples obtain new knowledge about different religions, and some may even

take part in traditions that are new to them. Someone who is not religious may discover that he or she enjoys certain traditions or aspects of a belief system and choose to take part in it. Interfaith dating can be a way to broaden our horizons, reflect on our own values, and develop a respect for a certain religion of which we may have little knowledge. In this way, it is not necessarily a divisive issue; rather, it can give rise to the harmony and understanding we desperately need in a society broken by hate crimes and discrimination associated with religion. Overall, love is love, and religion shouldn’t get in the way of it. Especially now as students, we should be given the chance to explore, instead of being confined in our social lives. Breaking with tradition is always difficult, but perhaps it is just what we need in order to find true love and peace. Other types of relationships have gained acceptance, so why can’t interfaith couples?

Gender disparities Dispel “senior status” inhibit male sport opportunity Zion Kim OPINION EDITOR


AT OUR school the ratio of male to female students limits opportunities for participation in sports. While it is understandable that many more teams are required in order to be proportionate to the number of girls, it is not fair that boys’ opportunities to participate in sports teams are trumped because of their imbalanced presence in the community. Many teams available for girls would most likely have a highly competitive participation in part by boys in the school. It is not only the junior varsity teams that are missing for boys. In some cases, the representation of males is not even accounted for. In sports such as swimming and flag football, only girls varsity teams exist with no male counterparts. These and many more sports should be accounted for boys because there are surely many male athletes that would find themselves at home with playing for such teams. More of the male population would be involved with athletics since not all the boys that try out for varsity basketball or volleyball are able to make it. This possibly comes as a means of a lack of space in the rosters of these teams. Also, perhaps the skill level associated with JV competitions could be better suited for some individuals. This would give the chance

for more students to participate in school rather than playing for outside teams and clubs. The inclusion of more male sports reaps benefits for the

“ The inclusion of more male sports reaps benefits for the school for more city championships. ” school, since this would offer the opportunity for more fundraising as well as contention for more city championships. Basketball and volleyball games already attract a lot of attention when home games are played, so adding another basketball and volleyball t e a m guarantees more

school spirit and support. By adding more sports, the opportunity for more teachers of becoming coaches increases as well. The lack of these sports teams is just one small controversy in the many that inhabit THHS, because of the out of balance population in the school. By giving males more opportunities in athletics, it is a step towards enhancing the circumstances students face. Fairer representation will come from introducing more athletic teams such as JV volleyball and basketball, swimming, and flag football, to male students. The school will also benefit tremendously from these efforts seeing as though sports competitions are highly attended and supported by both the staff as well as the students.


THERE IS an implied hierarchy of seniority in every high school. At Townsend Harris, seniors enjoy special privileges not granted to underclassmen. For example, seniors have free periods throughout the day, which provide time for them to relax, hang out with friends, catch up on assignments, or concentrate on extracurricular activities they love to do outside of school. There is also the senior lounge, an exclusive haven in which many seniors spend their free periods. Events such as the senior trip and prom are also reserved only for seniors. While I personally am thankful for many of my privileges as a senior, the problem lies in the fact that many seniors use these privileges to justify a sense of snobbery directed at the underclassmen. These advantages should not be used to encourage the idea that seniors are better than underclassmen in any way. The only difference between seniors and underclassmen is that seniors have been in the school for a longer period of time than the underclassmen. But is this really a reason to look down on them? Seniors were all once freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. The claim that seniors have earned these privileges or special status just because they

have been around for longer is absurd. All the underclassmen will eventually become seniors and enjoy the same privileges— they are not just granted to one graduating class. The leadership positions many seniors have in various extracurricular activities may lead them to the misconception that they are immediately above the underclassmen in terms of skill or capability. It is true that seniors often possess more knowledge in various areas than the underclassmen simply because they have been at Townsend for a longer period than the underclassmen. However, this does not give them the right to disparage the underclassmen. Rather, seniors should be acting as helpful mentors and role models. In fact, seniors should always be ready to learn from the underclassmen. This humble and open mentality will only help seniors once they graduate and head off to college. As they begin their freshman year, they will find themselves back at the bottom of the assumed social and academic hierarchy. It won’t be pleasant to be treated condescendingly by college upperclassmen, so why do the same to the underclassmen at THHS now?


April 2016


SCIENCE & TECH Steel Hawks take on Hofstra University


EQUIPPED WITH their robot, Red Tail, The Townsend Harris Steel Hawks competed in the 17th annual regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) this past week. The competition, held from March 30 to April 2, called the SBPLI (SchoolBusiness Partnerships of Long Island) Long Island Regional, took place at the Hempstead campus of Hofstra University. FIRST, a non-profit organization based in Manchester, New Hampshire, motivates high school youths to pursue futures in science and technology fields. The host of this competition, SBPLI, awards promising students with internships, scholarships, and employment. Similar to the recent New York City Regional competition held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the tournament required teams to be grouped into two different alliances, the Red Alliance and the Blue Alliance. In a medieval-style competition area, teams cooperated to cross moats and launch balls into castle towers. Competing teams ranged from Long Island and the New York metro area to

as far as Brazil. The Steel Hawks, also known as Team 2601, ranked in 19th out of 51 places, with a record of 6-4-0. The team participated in eight qualifying rounds before moving onto the quarterfinals, ending with six wins, four losses, and zero ties.

“ We’ve had a lot of bad luck and some tough breaks, but I’ve never been so proud to call myself a Steel Hawk. ” Robotics coach and AP Physics & Regents Physics teacher Joshua Raghunath is proud of the team members, commenting that “they performed well against higher caliber teams than [those] at Javits, the NYC regional.” Moreover, the Steel Hawks exhibited commendable sportsmanship, as they “assisted numerous other


The Steel Hawks compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

teams in getting their robots competition-ready.” Teams are scored based on the effectiveness of their robot, their teamwork, and their determination. Awards are given out for a team’s skill in engineering, which includes the technology and design of the robot. Additionally, musical theme and sportsmanship are taken into account. Assistant Principal of Math, Science & Technology Susan Brustein stated, “The team accomplished some amazing procedural changes. This year, for the first time, they cut and designed their

own [robot] parts using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) device, which is phenomenal for the high school level.” This competition was an opportunity for the team to test out its latest competition device, a grappling hook scaling device. It allowed Red Tail to grab onto the sides of a tower and lift itself up to place a ball in the goal. With their season coming to a close, the Steel Hawks are already gearing up for the upcoming building and competition season. Junior team member Mitchell Mu commented,

“We must quicken our pace during build season next year and improve communication to build efficiently while implementing as many effective ideas [as possible that] apply to the game.” Robotics President and senior Marcus Barbu stated, “What I personally hope is that the team keeps inspiring people, that we continue to have new team members who fall in love with engineering. We’ve had a lot of bad luck and some tough breaks, but I’ve never been so proud to call myself a Steel Hawk.”

Practical lab demonstrations hit bulls-eye David Zarowin STAFF WRITER

PHYSICS TEACHER Joshua Raghunath is changing the way Townsend Harris students learn Physics. Using innovative labs to teach students about gravity, ideal projectiles, and more, he hopes to instill a deeper understanding in the students while having fun. For example, he built an obstacle course in the gym to demonstrate the forces of impulse and momentum: “the Archery Tag Lab… [explains] why a heavier arrow receiving the same impulse from the bow flies further than the lighter arrow which would have a higher acceleration.” The students formed teams of ten and competed in multiple rounds, trying to get out as many of their opponents while keeping their teammates in the game. The students from teams not par-

ticipating in a given round filmed their friends shooting, and subsequently, getting hit, by foam arrows. “There are several things that they look at: the maxi-

“ Mr. R’s labs are unorthodox but make the normal slightly dull lab procedures more enjoyable. ” mum range the arrows fly, [comparing] the two different arrow types, and determining the velocity the arrows fire at,” Mr. R said. What do the students think? According to Mr. R,

they are pretty happy for the most part. “Mr. R’s labs are unorthodox but make the normal slightly dull lab procedures more enjoyable”, commented junior Alex Chen. Sophomore Jaewoo Nam added, “[Mr.] R’s labs are really fun…considering how [Mr.] R can make any topic fun while still teaching is pretty amazing.” Even Mr. R himself wishes he could do more than just explain the rules, “they’re a lot of fun and I wish I could play around with them more.” Whether these labs are beneficial to students’ studying, though, is as of now indeterminable. He believes in a few years down the road we will be able to tell. That being said, Mr. Raghunath plans to expand his program even further over the course of the next few years.


Mr. Raghunath and junior Marie Kessel shoot during the archery tag lab.

12 April 2016



Science curriculum makes room for more computer science courses Vicki Jagdeo STAFF WRITER

THIS MONTH, students at Townsend Harris will be selecting which elective courses they would like to see on their programs in September. As a result of the high demand for computer science classes, this year the elective brochure will include two advanced placement computer science courses: AP Computer Science and A P Computer Science Principles. While AP Computer Science will spark some familiarity, AP Computer Science Principles is a fairly new course and it is suggested that students take this class before AP Computer Science. The pr i nciples cla s s is designed as an introductory course to college level computer science. Students get a broader sense of the field. While AP Computer Science is more focused on the coding aspect of the field, the principles course is designed to give students the essentials of the field and it’s impact on the world. Cur rent A P C omputer

S c ience t eacher Ti mot hy Connor suggests that students take the principles course before the regular advancement placement computer science class. “The principles class is designed for people that want to get a general sense of what computer science is like on a college level. It’s less focused on the coding aspect of computer science and that the AP Computer Science is heavy on,” he added. With the new course soon to be integrated in offered science classes, current AP Computer Science students have various opinions on whether or not they would have taken the principles class first. Some students with prior experience to coding claim that the old course [AP Computer Science] is not a difficult adjustment. “I had prior knowledge of coding and computer science, but some of my classmates had difficulty in adjusting to how a computer functions and communicates with humans. I wouldn’t have first chosen AP Java since AP Comp Sci is a more general explanation of computer interaction and it explains more of the necessity of it being coded

a certain way rather than plain java syntax,” said junior Max Prohorov. As Max mentioned, many of those without prior exposure to code faced more struggle and frustration in the class assignments and lessons. Even those with experience found some difficulty in the beginning of the course. Nonet hele s s , t he A P Computer Science course does cover the basics for all students. “It actually wasn’t that hard without prior knowledge because AP Computer Science A doesn’t require it. Mr. Connor paired us up with someone who had some experience which also helped because if we didn’t understand something, we could ask our partners,” said sophomore Nivedita Attada. The question of whether or not students should take AP Computer Science Principles prior to AP Computer Science A still remains, but it’s a question of their experience and exposure to the field that should determine the decision.


INVENTORS MARK Barker and Robert Hoffman have created the Scribble—a pen that allows the user to scan a color and then use that color to write or draw. The smart pen industry has seen its share of installments, between Adobe’s “Mighty” stylus and Livescribe’s word scanning tool; Apple is also reportedly investing in a pen venture. None put forward the exact color capabilities of the Scribble, however. There will be two versions of the Scribble: one that contains an ink cartridge that allows users to write on paper and the other that works as a stylus for mobile devices when the proposed Scribble+ app is installed. Both types use a color sensor and LED illumination to sample any color and up-

load it to a computer or mobile device which then sends the color back to the pen. The pen will be able to reproduce over 16 million colors, but only 100,000 can be saved onto its 1 GB onboard chip. It connects through Micro-USB cables or Bluetooth technology and uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Although there is presently only a working prototype of the Scribble, there is currently a Kickstarter campaign to fund money in order to make the pen available to the general public. Social studies teacher Jaimie Baranoff stated, “The pen seems to be a cool idea. I would use it because I like to use color pens for grading and checking homework.” Senior Daphne Zhu mentioned, “Although the pen is a cool idea, I don’t think it’s very practical. I wouldn’t really have any use for it, and it’s less expensive to buy just a pack of color pens.”

BE Adventurous.


Creative Writing Classes. College Essay Coaching. w w w. g o t h a m w r i t e r s . c o m


April 2016


SPORTS Fencing strikes high with key players Daniel Singh STAFF WRITER

THE TOWNSEND Harris girls fencing team has found recent success in its team as a whole and individual fencers. Winning the first four matches of its season as well as having multiple fencers place in invitational tournaments, the fencing team has had a great start to its 2016 season. In the beginning of its season, individual fencers placed in the top ten in both the PSAL Girl’s Season Opener and the PSAL Girl’s Invitational. One such fencer was senior captain Rebekah Jones who placed first in the opener and third in the invitational, both in the épée style. With regards to her performances Rebekah said, “I was obviously happier with my performance in opener but I also am aware that every athlete has their good days and their off days. We don’t train for the good days, we train for the bad ones.”

Placing in the top ten throughout in the whole city, Rebekah was still very proud of her accomplishment. She added on, “There was a good group of girls in both competitions,” adding to how remarkable her accomplishment was. Senior Lavonia Duncan fenced in both competitions as well, placing eleventh in the opener and fourth in the invitational, both in the foil style. Giving the breakdown of each tournament, Lavonia explained that in the opener, competitors can fence anyone who is invited to the tournament regardless of their experience level. But the invitational on the other hand is a much more competitive tournament, as Lavonia described, “[the invitational] is for the most experienced of the team.” Yet in the end, Lavonia still thought that the tournaments were still very competitive and great learning experiences. Concluding she said, “In the

end once you give your best effort you leave knowing that the experience you gained can only help you improve.” Junior Doreen Wu who also fenced in the invitationals, placed fourth in épée. She commented, “Placing fourth at invitationals showed me exactly where I stand

ing to let those conditions hold us back.” Owen went on to say that he wasn’t content with his performance, but he did all he could, which was most important to him. Furthermore, boys Coach George Rio added, “The weather was absolutely terrible; it was cold and windy, which led to some poor times and distances. But we competed and we’re proud of the kids; they were out there that day and tried their very best.” Co-captain and senior Matthew Sullivan also stated that the team performed relatively well in “extremely adverse conditions, mainly high wind, rain and very low temperatures.” Regarding expectations for the future, Matthew, who has faith in the boys, expects “more success from the team in the upcoming meets because the weather is supposed to get better.” Matthew placed seventh in the 3000 meter steeplechase, trailing junior Agastya Vaidya, who finished sixth, by a mere 2.5 seconds. As for the girls’ performances, only one relay group participated in the 4x400 meter relay at the Mayor’s Cup because of weather. Senior and captain Yasmeen Ally stated, “Due to weather conditions, we were unable to put together another relay. However, the freshmen were extremely tough and performed well, placing ninth out of 20

teams (with a time of 4:59.27).” In field events, freshman Patricyja Lis cleared a height of six feet six inches on the pole vault, placing in tenth. Senior Kellie Zestanakis placed first in the pole vault, clearing a height of eight feet, and also placed third in the javelin throw. Junior Noreen Mohsin placed 11th in the 3000 meter run with a strong time of 11 minutes 28 seconds. Regarding her performance, Noreen said that she endeavored to run “with a really positive mentality” and tried to take away the pressure and put “her head in the race.” Although she did not beat her best time, Noreen was content with her performance as she overcame several obstacles, such as pain and the weather, to finish strong. With the outdoor track season still far from over, the boys and girls look to focus on future meets and competitions and preparing for them as best as possible. Noreen remarked, “I think we can definitely improve as a team if we put in the hard work and have a better ‘in the moment’ race mentality, where we focus on the race and nothing else.” Furthermore, Abdoulaye stated, “We’ve been training hard and being able to run times very close to our personal bests in unfavorable weather conditions just shows how much we are improving.”

“ ...I think that this will be the year THHS takes home first overall in the city. ” compared to the other fencers in the city. The competition gave me a chance to put my training to use and test out the field.” Looking towards the future, Doreen said, “I am very excited for playoffs because the team has

been working hard and I think that this will be the year THHS takes home 1st overall in the city.” Behind the scenes and at practice day in and day out is coach Katherine Yan who is working hard to help her team take home the gold again this year. Commenting on her fencers’ performances at these tournaments, Ms. Yan said, “Each fencer performed well under pressure. The competition was tough but they executed touch after touch and brought home some medals. Doreen Wu and Lavonia Duncan has remarkable finishes.” She spoke high of Rebekah as well, saying, “I’m so proud of Rebekah and impressed by what she has already accomplished this season thus far. This is a testament to her dedication to and passion for fencing. I remember when she was a timid freshman, hesitant to fence in a match and now she is confident and dominates the fencing strip.”

Due to her leadership skills and fencing capabilities, Rebekah is one of the top fencers in the city and will be continuing her fencing career at Cornell University. Ms. Yan feels that Rebekah has a good shot at The Wingate Award. This award, formerly known as the PSAL Heisman Award is presented to the best fencer in the city. The winner of this award will be presented with it around the middle of May. Coach Yan said, “She’s the most deserving. Not only is she a decorated fencer but she is also a scholar. Her humility despite all of her accomplishments is to be admired.” Looking forward, the girl’s fencing team is getting ready to fence their way through the playoffs in yet another year. The girls hope to continue its successes in order to win the city championship.

Track team sweeps Mayor’s Cup George Adamou STAFF WRITER

The BOYS and girls outdoor track teams participated in the NYC Mayor’s Cup Championship meet, claiming several top-10 finishes in their respective events. The renowned annual meet took place in Randall’s Island at Icahn Stadium on April 8 and 9. The competitors ranged from public, private, and charter schools from all over New York City. Weather conditions were not optimal for the team, but the boys made the best out of the situation. Senior and cocaptain Abdoulaye Diallo commented, “Conditions did not favor any sort of running. As a result, neither the sprinters nor the distance runners did particularly well.” Abdoulaye himself finished in first place in the 400 meter dash with an impressive time of 51.38 seconds. The Townsend Harris boys placed fifth in both the 4x400 meter sophomore relay and the 4x100 meter varsity relay, with times of four minutes four seconds and 45.1 seconds, respectively. Senior Owen Larosiliere described the track’s team perseverance during the competition. He stated, “We fought through [the weather conditions] and gave it our all, because we weren’t go-


Senior Owen Larosiliere runs in the Mayor’s Run.

14 April 2016



Kellie Zestanakis: NY1 Scholar Athlete of the Week Noah Silversmith SPORTS EDITOR SHE’S CLEARED more than a few heights. Senior pole vaulter and javelin thrower Kellie Zestanakis has marked herself as one of Townsend Harris’ most outstanding athletes in the school, as well as in the city, being named “Ford Lincoln of Queens Scholar Athlete of the Week” by NY1. The honor is bestowed upon New York City public high school seniors who demonstrate excellence in both the classroom and in their respective athletic field. In addition, the student-athlete must show they are an active participant in their community or other extra-curriculars. The title is accompanied by a $1000 scholarship to be used for educational purposes, a plaque denoting the athlete’s achievement, and a short filmed segment for NY1. Filming began earlier in this week while the actual segment aired on television on April 8. Kellie expressed her gratitude for winning. She said, “I knew that being a part of Townsend

Harris and a [three-time] city champion really helped me stand out among the other candidates.” Track and field coach Timothy Connor said, “I nominated her because she deserved it, with her winning [PSAL] City Championships in pole vaulting three seasons in a row as well as [in] javelin, on top of maintaining a [high] average.” THHS has sheltered a number of these scholar athletes, the most recent one being alumna Debra Chan, a member of the class of 2015. Debra, who was nominated last year by basketball coach Lauren Caiaccia, showed similar remarkable qualities of athleticism and studiousness. She now plays Division III basketball at the City College of New York (CCNY). Kellie discussed the academic benefits of being able to play her sports. She said, “Track keeps me balanced and I know that at the end of a terrible school day, I can run it off or in my case, throw or jump it off. It’s a stress reliever and definitely difficult, but not going straight home after school to do work actually helps me.” Her personal best in the pole vault is 9’1”, but Kellie has


Senior Kellie Zestanakis pole vaulting during a meet.

set herself the goal of breaking PSAL’s outdoor track all-time record of 9’8”. “It really is all in my head and if I jumped as well as I did in practice during competition, the record would have been broken a

year ago,” she said. “My coaches and my teammates really are a blessing when it comes to me and my performance… Even though I’m the one jumping off the ground, I could not have accomplished

most, if any, of this without them,” she said.

A Wrestler’s History: Mr. A discusses coaching, charity



Physical education teacher Mr. Adamkiewicz

RAYMOND ADAMKIEWICZ, one of Townsend Harris’s physical education teachers and former wrestling coaches, has left behind him an astonishing career as a wrestler. Originally a soccer player, Mr. A was introduced to wrestling as a junior in high school by his older brother’s friends who had attempted to recruit him. Although his mom was clearly against his participation, Mr. A. decided to join the team anyway. Fortunately, he enjoyed the competitive nature and comradery of the team, ultimately causing him to stick through it as much as he could. Mr. A’s “late start” in wrestling did not hinder his success at all; He placed first and second in the city in his St. Peters Boys High School career, and qualified for Division III nationals while attending Hunter College. Many of the struggles that Mr. A faced as an athlete are similar to what the Harrisites face today, with the main struggle being the balance of schoolwork while participating on a team. He regards weight management as one of his largest struggles in college. As a low body-fat individual, it was difficult for him to maintain his weight or cut down to a lower weight class. Despite

such obstacles, Mr. A’s love for the sport and team remained prominent, defining his team as “a brotherhood of friends that you have for an eternity.” THHS did not have a wrestling team initially. However, Ms. Nix had given Mr. A an opportunity to coach knowing that he wrestled in college before. At the time, Beat the Streets, a non

“ Wrestling has taught me to redirect my anger and improve the values of myself and those I coach. ” profit wrestling organization, was up and coming, with the goal of trying to improve and increase the number of teams. Today, Beat the Streets works with all schools in an attempt to create wrestling programs and

improve the lives of students in NYC. It is well known that Mr. A no longer coaches the wrestling teams of THHS. However, this is not permanent. Mr. A. states that he is on a “coaching hiatus.” Several reasons for his temporary leave include other business pursuits, changes in student demographics and interest, and the over exhaustion from coaching for 18 years. Though many students are unfamiliar with Mr. A as a coach, he “instills the same discipline among students.” Coaching has worked hand in hand with Mr. A’s teaching career. “I would not recommend this sport to just anyone” claims Mr. A. He feels that wrestling requires an athlete’s will to endure the competitiveness and long hours of practice, and is not suitable for the weak-minded. Not only that, the person must be motivated and dedicated to their team. Overall, wrestling has made profound changes in Mr. A’s life. He concludes, “Wrestling has taught me to redirect my anger and improve the values of myself and those I coach.” His arduous wrestling career has defined Mr. A for life.


April 2016


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Seniors discuss traditions, legacies Sasha Balkaran STAFF WRITER THERE ARE a handful of traditions here at Townsend Harris High School that have taken root and flourished. From sports teams rituals to the celebrations of the school’s rich history, these traditions are what make the THHS student body a family. Founder’s Day reminds us of the beginnings of Townsend Harris. In the annual senior skit, the plot behind the senior skit for the past years has been introducing a freshman to the atmosphere of THHS. Freshman Melanie Esterine believes that “the senior skit gives freshmen the chance to learn about teachers they may encounter in the future as well as teachers they may have missed out on. It also gives the chance for upperclassmen to reminisce on teachers they may have had in previous years.” The Founders’ Day roll call is a tradition every grade looks forward to. Every year the Principal takes attendance by calling out the graduating year, and when he reaches the senior class, they stay silent before exploding into raucous cheers and chants. This year, the senior roll call featured Yuriy Markovetskiy inciting the Class of 2016 into cheers with a “Can I get a hoo yeaaaaah!” Seniors play an important role in creating these traditions. It is by leaving something behind, or changing the school, that they are able to be memorialized. However, it is up to the underclassmen to keep these traditions alive, especially in teams

and clubs, where underclassmen must inherit leadership roles. The previous leaders often create traditions in order to help their successors get used to being a leader and help new members become integrated into the group. In the girls track team, underclassmen purchase gifts and make scrapbooks for the senior

“ I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned in doing this is that everyone wants to be remembered somehow. ” track members. Senior track captain Joanna explains, “the juniors in charge of the entire thing get to apply leadership skills and communication skills that they will need to run the team the following year.” But she stresses that this tradition is important because “senior gifts are a way of showing our appreciation and love for the seniors who will no longer be running with us the following year.” The clubs at Townsend Harris also have many traditions. The MSA (Muslim Student Asso-

ciation) holds Hennafest. Senior Najila Zaman said that during Hennafest, students “have guest speakers, put on henna, introduce everyone to the religion of Islam, and encourage them to try traditional food.” There is also an annual picnic and water balloon fight in the Quad with the past and present members of MSA. Traditions also exist within the Festival of Nations groups. The Filipino dance group often refers to themselves as a “Pamilya,” with the harrowing experience of jumping in and out of sticks uniting them together. After the FON season ends, the members have one more Pamilya reunion and eat out at a Filipino restaurant. Flip FON also conducts a ceremony in which the current leaders present the flag to the next leaders. Junior Christian Foronda says it’s a fun tradition that helps “to crown or identify the new leaders of Flip FON.” New traditions are constantly being created and passed down. Stephanie Loo, alumna of Class of 2014, created the ‘Introducing Class of’ just two years ago. Stephanie says, “I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned in doing this is that everyone wants to be remembered somehow.” The project continued the next year with the Class of 2015 and subsequently the Class of 2016, cementing it as custom among the senior class. Additional reporting by Sarah Gafur and Pridha Kumar

A “clothes” look at culture Kristiana Deur and Francesca Filiberti STAFF WRITERS

EVERY YEAR, the eclectic population of Townsend Harris is showcased at FON. Adorned with clothing from cultures all around the world, the audience is exposed to the rich history of Harrisites. Sophomore Marisha Liliah embraces her Hindu heritage through garments such as sarees, lehengas, and salwars. The saree is likely the most well-known piece of Indian clothing for girls. Marisha says the garment “consists of a top that varies in size, most of them exposing the stomach. The bottom [is] a wrap around material, like a skirt, once you almost reach the end of wrapping the

material around, you then place it on the shoulder like a shawl.” Freshman Kaitlyn Wu says that in her Chinese culture they wear a Qui Pao, “silk button up shirts [or] dresses that have many different types of colors and designs like flowers” and represent femininity. The men’s clothing consists of silk pants and a jacket that have more masculine colors and designs. Qi Paos are typically worn on Chinese New Year and at Chinese weddings. In Polish culture, the traditional outfit worn is called a “krakowianka” costume, worn while dancing the “krakowiak,” the traditional dance of Poland. Sophomore Agata Turula describes the krakowianka, saying that “the girls usually wear red, floral skirts with corset-type tops.

The [men] wear black vests with red pants.” This traditional clothing not only is symbolic in the culture itself but holds sentimental value to those who wear it. Agata shares the pride she feels when representing her culture, “In the past years [of FON], the costumes have been simple dresses, and I thought that by wearing the traditional polish dresses, I’d really be representing my culture. I’m proud to be polish, even if that means walking around in this huge poofy dress.” Marisha similarly adds, “I wear the traditional clothing to show my respect for my religion. It is to show that I am proud to be whoever I am.”



Junior William Mun and his friends watched The Crucible this past April.

EVERY YEAR, there are three major productions at Townsend Harris; FON, SING and the school play leave the student body wanting more of the colorful costumes, mellifluous melodies and vibrant dance moves. Many students have to venture outside the walls of THHS to fill their theatrical needs and make their way to Broadway. Townsend Harris students are well acquainted with the shows on Broadway, but all of them have different reasons to go. Junior Raya Kazdan was introduced to Broadway when she watched “the classics as a kid on dvds.” In contrast, junior William Mun was not introduced to Broadway musicals by his parents but he gradually began to grow a preference for them. Freshmen Joshua Villas was introduced to Broadway because of his brother’s love of it. When he saw his first musical he “loved watching people add their own little twist, flare, or style to their roles.” Due to the extensive selection available, Harrisites embark on jaunts to see shows that greatly differ from one another. In addition to Cabaret and Rent, Raya mentions Les Misérables as one of her favorites. Sophomore Elizabeth Teperino commends Les Miserables for “the history involved” and for the characters, who are “martyrs” and “passionate about what they love.” Despite the difficulty in relating to the audience to demonstrate “what they were going through,” this barrier was overcome with “the emotion conveyed through the acting and singing.” Other Broadway musicals met with acclaim are Wicked, Newsies, Kinky Boots, The Phantom of the Opera, Matilda, and West Side Story. The price of Broadway musicals are a common setback for THHS Broadway “junkies,” as

Elizabeth puts it. William expresses this struggle saying, “I can’t see Broadway shows often, that’s a lot of money that a lot of people like me don’t have.” Sophomore Aaron Fernando has similar opinions saying that although the performance he saw was “breathtaking,” tickets are “fairly expensive.” Aaron expresses interest in acquiring “tickets one day through the daily Hamilton ticket lottery.” Although he has not yet seen it, Aaron lists Hamilton as one of his favorite musicals for “the music—hip-hop and rap conveying the life of a historical figure, with brilliant lyrics by LinManuel Miranda.” Furthermore, he views “the fact that the cast is mostly minorities” as “refreshing, because sadly, as in most of entertainment, minorities are underrepresented.” Additional musicals on Aaron’s “bucket list” include: Wicked, Aladdin, West Side Story, and Les Miserables. William attributes his Broadway thrill to its “unlimited potential to whisk the audience’s minds to the world on the stage.” He says that Broadway shows “tend to be more wondrous” and have “bigger choreography, bigger sets, bigger casts, bigger numbers, just bigger everything!” Raya adds, “I saw the play Harvey a few years ago in Stage 54. Then this past year, I saw Cabaret also at Stage 54 and it seemed like a completely different theater.” Broadway musicals have touched Harrisites from all grades, inciting their imaginations through the media of dance, acting, and singing. According to sophomore Elizabeth Teperino, “the thing I love about Broadway is that it’s not just one way to tell a story like other shows, but is a balance of all three [media] making it all much more interesting to watch.”


April 2016

The Classic

16 April 2016





Top 5 dating spots

World Ice Arena $

13135 Avery Ave, Flushing, NY 11355 Distance from Townsend: 20 miles

Allergies aside, there is nothing more romantic than being surrounded by blooming flowers in the springtime. The Queens Botanical Garden is the perfect place to take your date; there is no end to the lush green lawns and the vibrant flowers. You can even have a picnic on the grounds with your companion and admire the beautiful gardens and fragrant aromas of the flowers.. Admission is just $2 if you present your student ID.

At Bourbon Street, you can have the romantic candlelit rooftop dinner of your dreams, spiced up with the festive flavors of Cajun cuisine. This New Orleans-inspired restaurant is not the norm for Bayside; so for under fifty bucks, treat your partner to a staycation with the ambiance of decadence and the ardor of mardi gras. With the menu providing authentic Louisiana fare like flavorful seafood, rices, and gumbos, Bourbon Street is accommodating and diverse, making it a beautiful date spot. It is just the perfect combination: a party of flavors for a party of two.



Eddie’s Sweet Shop $$

105-29 Metropolitan Ave #1, Forest Hills, NY 11375 Distance from Townsend: 3.0 Miles

Queens Botanical Garden $

Picture this: a day of twists, turns, and smiles around an ice rink with the one who makes your heart flutter. If you and your significant other love to ice skate or simply want to try something new, the World Ice Arena is just the place for you to go. The World Ice Arena will leave you both gliding across the ice, and into each other’s arms. Senior Emmaly Gutierrez went to the World Ice Arena for her first date. “It was a cool way to break the ice— literally. We were able to see each other fall and laugh about it.”

43-50 Main St, Flushing, NY 11355 Distance from Townsend: 1.6 Miles Any hankerings for sugary substances will be satisfied at Eddie’s Sweet Shop. This one of a kind eatery is the perfect place for you and your companion to enjoy savory ice cream topped with hot fudge, whipped cream, and — of course — a cherry on top. Travel back to the 1920s, as Eddie’s Sweet Shop sports an antique cash register and an authentic soda fountain. You and your loved one will fall in love one sugary bite at a time.


Queens Museum of Art

New York City Building ,Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY 11368 Distance from Townsend: 2.5 Miles

Named one of the most enthralling hidden places in Queens, the Queens Museum of Art holds some of the most fascinating art pieces you’ll ever find. Not only will you and your companion be able to admire artwork together, but you both can do so for free. A must-see in the museum is the 3-D model room which contains a panoramic view of the city. There is charm and artistry inside and outside of the Queens Museum, so if you happen to be hanging out around Flushing Meadows Corona Park, don’t hesitate to take a look.


Bourbon Street $$$

40-12 Bell Blvd, Bayside, NY 11361 Distance from Townsend: 4.9 Miles

“Going out” is outdated

by Mehrose Ahmad

“CUFFING SEASON,” (a period in the year when couples notoriously date to pass the frigid months of winter) has technically ended, but teenage dating culture is still very much alive, even at Townsend Harris. However, with the passing of generations, the nature of dating culture has changed with the emergence of slang and the manipulation of typical social media for dating purposes and dating apps. Tinder, an app primarily used for hookups, has gained prominence with its customary swipe as a way to find a long term relationship. Though Tinder is popular among those who consider themselves single, THHS students have had varied experiences with it. An anonymous senior writes, “I’ve met a jerk, a really nice ‘mama’s’ boy’ from an affluent family, a weirdo who never spoke to me again after our date, and some guys that I am very good friends with.” This senior

feels “like there is someone out there for everyone and Tinder makes it easier to connect to a larger crowd.” She adds, “I feel that Tinder is allowing us to meet people we may not meet on a day to day basis, something hard to do when you go to a small school with mostly girls. It also grants a student the ability to keep a wall of separation between school and his or her romantic life.” Although some apps are exclusively designed for dating, other softwares have also evolved into applications that couples can use to their benefit. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are popular locations where people post statuses about or images of their significant others. These apps can also be used to catch up with your significant other through instant messaging. Junior Alexis Sarabia, who is currently in a relationship, uses Snapchat and Facebook Messenger to catch up with her significant other after a long day.

“We use the apps to send short messages to each other sometimes but mostly to have long conversations. It’s an everyday thing.” Despite the prominence of these technological and alternative methods for maintaining and beginning a relationship, many THHS students do still believe in reverting back to the dating practices of older generations, which involve people more formally asking others out without the assistance of any apps. These social media trends can have both positive and negative repercussions, but regardless of the consequences, social media for many is the crux of the relationship whether the relationship be blossoming, steady, or dwindling.


Art by Cindy Wu

Volume 32, No. 6: April 2016  
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