Volume 33, No. 1: September 2016

Page 1


September 2016



September 2016 - Volume 33 No. 1



new year, new principal

Mr. Barbetta moves to RFK after four years by Ilyssa Delos Reyes & Sumaita Hasan, Editors-In-Chief

Mrs. Jahoda settles in to her new office.


Rosemarie Jahoda becomes first female principal of THHS by Ilyssa Delos Reyes & Sumaita Hasan, Editors-In-Chief THIS YEAR, Townsend Harris High School will be welcoming its new interim acting principal, Rosemarie Jahoda, following the departure of former Principal Anthony Barbetta. She comes to the school from The Bronx High School of Science, where she was the Assistant Principal of Mathematics. Ms. Jahoda found the Townsend Harris atmosphere “warm and welcoming,” adding that she already feels at home. “I’m proud and honored to be part of this caring and thoughtful learning community. I’m looking forward to...building on the many strengths of THHS in collaboration with all members of the school community,” she said. On her time at Bronx Science, Ms. Jahoda commented, “My nine years of experience as an instructional leader of an academic department consisting of 26 teachers and as an active member of a school cabinet provided me the opportunity to positively impact on the learning experience of approximately 3,000 students.” She cited her work in developing a sequence of computer science courses at Bronx Science as a key component of her record. As for Townsend Harris, she is similarly interested in developing course sequences for students.

As principal, she plans to learn “about the types of courses that excite and interest THHS students in an effort to provide them with course options that would most benefit them.” In addition, she plans to spend her first year conducting “a listening tour to gather information from students, staff and parents.” Ms. Jahoda has already met with many of the school’s clubs


to gain a better understanding of what students need. She described, “Students have shared with me their frustration with the course selection process. For example, many seniors who selected AP Psychology as their first choice were not programmed for the course. I believe that programming should be primarily driven by student course requests. The course selection process and

programming is an area of focus this year.” When asked if she had been met with any other challenges, Ms. Jahoda responded, “A school budget that has prompted the loss of numerous positions in recent years is our greatest challenge. Advocating for additional resources and strategically managing our budget so that we can best serve THHS students is a priority.”

Photo by Vanesa Martinez ‘13

Mr. Barbetta in his office for his first interview with The Classic

FORMER PRINCIPAL Anthony Barbetta will now move on and become the new principal of Robert F. Kennedy Community High School. Mr. Barbetta thanked students, staff, and parents for making his job “fun, challenging, and exciting.” He cited the school’s ratings at the city, state, and national level as hallmarks of his four year tenure, while also referencing achievements like the addition of new Advanced Placement courses. “Leaving THHS was a very difficult decision. I enjoy working with students and will continue to do so. I think being a principal is the greatest job in the world. Being able to influence a school and have an impact on students’ lives is an incredible responsibility, something that I take seriously and with enthusiasm,” he said. When describing his overall experience here at THHS, Mr. Barbetta noted, “I had a wonderful and memorable experience. I will miss the tremendous relationships I developed within the community and the strong collaboration with the Assistant Principals and faculty.” “There are many memories that I will take away. The events, such as Founder’s Day, Election Simulation, SING!, FON, The Phoenix readings, the interviews with The Classic, the sports dinners and, of course, graduations were always fun and exciting. The many competitions I looked forward to attending include Science Olympiad, Robotics, Mock Trial, and the sporting events. A special memory was when I attended the landmark designation of the childhood home of THHS alum Jonas Salk with colleagues and students. Another fond memory is participating in two school plays,” Mr. Barbetta described. Commenting on her experience working with Mr. Barbetta, Assistant Principal Veronica York remarked, “It’s always sad to see someone you are close with leave. I consider Principal Barbetta a colleague and a friend, I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”


2 September 2016



Assistant Principal Amy Nass Joins Staff by Aly Tantawy, News Editor ALSO JOINING the school community this year is new Assistant Principal of LOTE (languages other than English) Amy Nass, who has expressed great excitementabout taking on her new role Previously, former principal Anthony Barbetta adopted the responsibilties of this position following the leave of Lisa Mars, who became principal of Laguardia High School. Ms. Nass received her BA and MA in History and Government, as well as politics, from St. John’s University. After working in magazine publishing for a few years, she opted for a change to high school teaching and fell in love with it. She was also previously a social studies teacher and a senior advisor. Ms. Nass explains, “[In] the most recent past, I have been concentrating on my family, as I have not been working out-of-thehouse.” In regards to her return, she remarks, “What I love about the classroom (and schools) is the great energy the students bring. I enjoy seeing students learning from each other. I love that every day

is different working in a school.” She is eagerly “engaging with students, assisting teachers and learning from the students here at Townsend Harris.” Ms. Nass addresses her adjustment to the school community,

“ What I love about the classroom (and schools) is the great energy students bring. I enjoy seeing students learning from eachother. ” saying, “the teachers and staff are very friendly and helpful, making Townsend Harris a great place to come to work, so that has made it easy to adjust.” She describes the atmosphere as “very welcoming,” adding, “it is challenging to begin in a new school because every high school

is different; with its own traditions and values.” She depicts the students positively as “friendly and shy.” Ms. Nass appreciates the value that students and staff place on the curriculum. She is “learning about Townsend Harris traditions from faculty and staff” and is “looking forward to Founder’s Day.” Ms. Nass also believes that teachers are not the only ones doing the teaching in the school, saying she looks forward to “learning from the students here at THHS.” She concludes, “My door (505) is always open if students have any questions or would like to stop by to say “hi.” My goals are to help the students receive a great education and have a rewarding high school experience.” She further elaborates, “I plan to assist and be an advocate for the LOTE and Art & Music departments. I am learning about the great programs and extracurricular activities they offer [here]. I am excited to be here at THHS and looking forward to being a part of this school.” PHOTO BY RENANENIA PANGAN

Pictured: New assistant principal of LOTE Amy Nass.

FAFSA registration now moved to October 1 by Rabia Hasan, News Editor SENIORS, IT is time to add another important deadline. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, registration is starting October 1 instead of the usual January 1. FAFSA is a form filled out by college-bound students who are applying to college, and it provides them with grants, loans, and work study funds. Every year, the U.S. Department of Education gives out more than $150 billion in aid. This year, the process is starting three months earlier to ensure that students get the most money possible to attend their dream schools. One of the most noteworthy changes is associated with family tax information. In the past, families have submitted their most recent tax information. However, this year families will be allowed to use prior-prior year (PPY) tax information. For example, the class of 2017 will be submitting tax information from 2015. By doing so, families will not be estimating their taxes but providing colleges with more accurate information about their incomes. Ed M. Pacchetti, director of consumer analytics for the U.S. Department of Education, believes that the earlier date will be very beneficial for students and their families. He said, “The earlier

FAFSA start date should also give potential students and parents more time to consider their options for higher education, as well as the financial aid that they will receive to help reduce the cost of higher education.” Guidance counselor Justine Meyer has mixed feelings on the the matter. She explained, “There are many pros and cons to this recent change. Guidance counselors like myself are trying to find more information about this change, but the most apparent reason seems to be [that] the government wants to provide as much aid to students as possible.” Senior Devesh Permanan remarked, “I’m glad it’s earlier because this gives those who really need the money for college an advantage. I think the earlier, the better. Everyone should apply early because by not applying early, there will be less aid.” Senior Kelly Rendon shares similar views. She said, “It’s better doing this early. It’s better to get [FAFSA] out of the way.” Despite believing that this is a major advantage, Ms. Meyer also thinks having such an early registration for FAFSA will create certain issues. She commented, “The beginning of the school year is a very stressful time for seniors. By registering for FAFSA early, they have one

more thing to worry about.” She added, “The most important and best thing to do is start calling the financial aid offices of the colleges you want to apply to and ask them what the new FAFSA change will mean for them. Every college is different and will be perceiving this change differently.” Senior Tiffany Weng agrees with Ms. Meyer in terms of the stress load on the seniors already.

She stated, “I am very happy for the early registration because this means we will be getting more financial aid and then applying to colleges accordingly, but I still think this is very stressful. School has just started and before you know it, it will be time to apply for FAFSA.” “The biggest challenge,” Mr. Pacchetti said, “will be to ensure that all students and families know they should file the FAFSA as soon

after October 1, 2016 as possible.” Seniors can start making their FSA ID right now. This ID will set up their account with Federal Student Aid and allow them to be ready to file for FAFSA on October 1, 2016. Ms. Meyer strongly suggests that seniors and juniors attend the Financial Aid Night on November 1 to find out more information.

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September 2016



Rosemarie Jahoda joins staff as new principal CONTINUED FROM PG 1 Veronica York, Assistant things are the way they are... Principal of Pupil Personnel there are reasons why we are the Services, commented on her im- way we are [and] she asks about pression of Ms. Jahoda. She stat- things that we take for granted, “Her passion for education is ed. People who wouldn’t care evident. I found her to be some- wouldn’t ask.” one who asks good questions Ms. Jahoda will be the fifth and really wants to understand principal of the refounded the school. I think she will pro- Townsend Harris school, folmote a culture of collaboration lowing the tenures of Malcolm with all stakeLargmann, holders and be Thomas Cunextremely enningham, Kengaged in the neth Bonamo, “ school comand AnthoI found her to be ny Barbetta. munity. I appreciate how Though the someone who her focus is on school is known asks good ques- for its femalewhat’s best for Townsend Hardominated stutions and really ris students.” body, Ms. wants to under- dent Also reJahoda will be marking on stand the school. the first female his impresprincipal of sions, Assistant THHS in its ” principal Rafal over thirty year O l e c h ow s k i history. said, “One A native thing that really strikes me is New Yorker and one of five chilthat she comes across like some- dren, Ms. Jahoda shared some one who likes to get things details about her background: done. She’s focused on under- “My parents immigrated to standing the situation and seeing the United States in pursuit of how it can be improved. She’s the American dream. My dad very perceptive and sees even worked as an industrial painter small issues and aims to address for the Port Authority. My mom them. She also comes across as was the primary caregiver and someone who’s intensely inter- worked part-time in a bakery. ested in our school and what it My parents taught me that sucoffers. She constantly asks why cess can be achieved through

New Principal Jahoda in the principal’s conference room.

hard work and perseverance. I’m extremely grateful to them.” Though Ms. Jahoda is proud of her time spent encouraging students at Bronx Science to pursue their interest in STEMrelated subjects, she seemed equally proud of encouraging

other young people that are important to her to follow their interests in the Humanities fields that THHS is known for. “My husband and I nurtured our three daughters’ love of literature, music and art,” she said. “I’m proud that all three majored


in English and pursued their interests. The oldest is an English teacher. The middle child is in the music business and the youngest works in television and film. I have two amazing granddaughters. They are my pride and joy.”

The community says goodbye after Mr. Barbetta’s departure CONTINUED FROM PG 1 Harrisites and faculty members always felt Barbetta’s presence throughout the school. Social studies teacher Adam Stonehill recalled, “I think what was nice about him [Mr. Barbetta] was that the school continued to succeed and there was a comfortable atmosphere under his leadership. Sometimes if you’re in a great place, you have to make sure it stays great. I think he did that.” Class of 2016 alum Jason Lalljee said, “I loved Mr. Barbetta’s encouragement of all our crazy schemes—whether it was stuff we were doing around the humanities department or stuff the robotics team was getting done. I liked that he made an active effort to know as many names as possible.” “I appreciated how hard he fought for students,” noted Class of 2016 alum Noah Silversmith. Sophomore Gen Kramer said, “I never knew Principal Barbetta personally but I would always see him in the halls and he’d wave hello so that was really nice to see. I’m definitely going to miss his presence since he made me feel very welcome my first year in the school.”

Junior Cerissa Huggins compared Mr. Barbetta to a father. She added, “We all wish him good luck where he is.” “My favorite part about Mr. Barbetta was his school spirit. I would always see him at games, concerts, plays and almost every school event I could think of,” said Class of 2016 alum Evan Noblesala. Senior Student Union President Alex Chen stated, “What I appreciate and will miss most about Mr. Barbetta is something that anyone could recognize, not just a president. “I will always remember his reliability; I could always count on seeing Mr. Barbetta at the front door at 8:20 in the morning, ready to greet us, or his voice on the loudspeaker whenever it was

a significant day, or even just his constant use of quotations in his speeches. We could always rely on Mr. Barbetta to hold our best interests in his heart, despite us being over a thousand and him being one. Yet, his one voice always spoke for our thousand.” “While it may seem like a principal doesn’t play a big role in a school with highly motivated students like Townsend, his support and faith for our endeavors is what I’ll remember most,” added class of 2016 alumna Olivia Chan. Mr. Barbetta praised students’ “eagerness and passion for learning.” “I think their strong desire to achieve and be successful is in-

“ We could always rely on Barbetta to hold our best interests in his heart, despite us being over a thousand and him being one. Yet, his one voice always spoke for our thousand. ”

spiring...It’s also wonderful that students take advantage of the academic, extracurricular and sports programs.” Assistant principal Rafal Olechowski also had fond memories of Mr. Barbetta. He described Mr. Barbetta as easygoing and a problem solver. “He was [the] first principal I worked for as an Assistant Principal. It’s a personal mark for me...I got to know him very well over the last few years. He affected many areas of the school... he really changed the atmosphere of the relationship between the administration and the teachers and the students.” “He changed the school as a community because he was very approachable, very direct, [and] he was positive. He was always willing to talk to everyone and he was easygoing. [That] easygoing atmosphere was a big accomplishment because a school leader has a great affect on how the school [as] a whole feels.” Mr. O continued, “I was new and I was learning how to be an AP and he was extraordinarily tolerant of all my mistakes. [He had] an unending trust…[and was]

enamored by how intelligent and respectful and mature [students were]. “Mr. Barbetta taught me not to worry about too many things. [When] Niko [my son] was just born, I had a lot of responsibilities and Mr. Barbetta said, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t forget that you have a family at home..and that you can’t live here...go spend time with them. I want you to plaster the walls with the photos of your wife and family,’ which I did. [He said] to look at those pictures [during difficult moments]. [There was] such a human dimension [to] him, it set a powerful precedent.” In terms of leaving a legacy, Mr. Barbetta remarked, “I don’t think much about a legacy. I am proud that THHS remains one the best schools in the country with an incredible high demand for admission...I am most proud that together as a school community, we were able to continue to fulfill the vision of the school and the Ephebic Oath,” he said. “I wish you all continued success,” he concluded.

4 September 2016


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6 September 2016


Alumni Feature of the Month: Lubna Rahman by Jillissa Drayton, Features Editor EVERY STUDENT who has walked through the halls of Townsend Harris High School has learned a lesson in time management and juggling responsibilities. While these skills are vital, it is rare that a student sees the fruits of her labor so quickly after graduating. For alumni Lubna Rahmani, a graduate from the class of 2014, that is exactly what happened. Currently a third year student at Macaulay Honors College at Baruch, Lubna was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study in Japan this past May. This honor is one that many students strive to attain, but for Lubna, it was much more than an honor—it was the result of all her hard work and sacrifice. Although Lubna attended Francis Lewis High School for her freshman year due to her grades, she stated, “From deep down in my heart, I always had it set in the back of my head that I wanted my high school diploma to be from Townsend.” Like many freshmen, her experience when she first arrived was not so simple. “I’m thinking Townsend is light work like Franny Lew. Turns out my 102.64 gpa from freshman year flushed down the toilet and hit an 88.04 and I was devastated,” she explained. Not only did Lubna have to manage her transition from an “easy” high school to one that challenged her academically, but her home situation added to her responsibilities. In 2008’s recession, both of Lubna’s parents lost their jobs and wouldn’t regain them until 2014. Additionally, Lubna’s older sister, who was diagnosed with bipolar depression, gave birth to Lubna’s niece at the same time that she was entering high school in 2010. All of these factors that were relatively manageable in Francis Lewis became exceedingly difficult alongside THHS work. The pressure became so much that Lubna even considered leaving. “I had a talk with Ms. Widman and Nurse Carter, and they definitely knew I’d be making a poor choice if I decided to leave that day. It was the demanding learning pace and time-consuming homework mixed with my familial hardships at home [like] raising a newborn baby...left behind by my sister that drove me into a stressful corner. With time, I found ways to manage my stress,” Lubna explained. One method that helped Lubna relieve her stress was writing in her nikki, or Japanese journal about her feelings and struggles in Dr. Mariko Sato’s class. Lubna found the culture so comforting that she would even sing to her newborn niece, who she cared for

FEATURES Defining a fangirl By Aresha Parjohn, Staff Writer Additional Reporting by Alyssa Nepomuceno and Crystal Ng


Pictured: Class of 2014 alumni Lubna Rahman. as her own daughter, in Japanese. For Lubna, her seemingly inescapable situation at home gave her all of the motivation she needed to succeed. “My unique differences, such as not being able to study ever in peace and quiet... reading and typing up essays in the bathroom sometimes for the lack of space and ability to focus [and] at times because of all the fighting, arguing, crying, and ruckus of sorts at home, have always been my reasons to ensure that I at least paved a way out of this mess,” she said. While her brother, who attended Bronx Science, was “sleeping in class, serving detention, and in no way engaging with the school setting whatsoever,” due to his familial issues, she continued, “my motivation to give a better life to the little baby has been the only reason my junior and senior years at THHS were so much better. It wasn’t about grades anymore, it was about the time and amount of smiles I gave to my little girl.” When it came time for Lubna to apply to colleges, her options were limited. She decided she “was not leaving [her] kid solely for the dorming experience” and even promised her dad she wouldn’t make him pay a cent for her education. Macaulay was the option that fit everything she was looking for. After getting into the school and deciding to major in international business, Lubna faced a new problem. “I always thought that studying abroad wouldn’t be possible until law school for me because my baby, well at least to me, is still a little baby, and I am really not comfortable leaving her,” she admitted. However, at Baruch, “every International Business major will need some form of international experience in order to graduate with a degree in international business.” After

talking to the dean and explaining her unique situation, she was given the green light to only spend a few weeks abroad to fulfill her requirements through the aforementioned Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Not only did Lubna get to complete her required study abroad credits, but she finally got to experience the country that had so long been an object of her fascination thanks to her uncle, who had once studied there, and Townsend’s own Dr. Sato, who helped further her learning of Japan. Lubna’s story can be mistaken for one of misfortune, but she wants to clarify her true mindset: “If you don’t give up on your dreams, there’s no way they’re giving up on you, so keep at it, and an opportunity will roll in at one point or another. Just be there to grasp it.” Lubna is extremely grateful for the experiences Townsend afforded her but is “aware of the fact that others have better ways, resources, and outlets… [she doesn’t] underestimate [her] competition and overestimate herself.” To conclude, she had a resounding message to share with current students: “Look to your right. Look to your left. What kind of a world do you see? I know it’s a mess. It will stay a mess if you choose to do nothing about it...Don’t be ignorant. Know your world. Understand your place and recognize your strength and what exactly you are capable of doing. Yes, you are a citizen of America. But are you really a citizen of the world? Learn to take action and speak when it is necessary. Think before you say, and say it with passion. Make a difference for our world and let our future generation understand that their duty is the same; live for one another and have good intentions for all.”

A FANGIRL is not just an ordinary fan of a television show, book series, or actor or actress—a fangirl will not only skip homework to watch their favorite television show, but will also follow the social media accounts of the cast. While some may view this as a personal hobby, others believe it to be an unhealthy obsession that not only wastes time, but money. The label “fangirl” has been given a negative connotation within today’s pop culture. The love that many girls have for their favorite TV shows, actors or actresses, and musicians have been deemed “over the top.” Many women find that they are unfairly targeted when it comes to their level of fangirling, whereas men, who might show an equal amount of passion for activities like sports, are not as reprimanded. Thus, the term fangirl poses yet another roadblock to equality, especially women that identify as both fangirls and feminists. Senior Vanessa Lau states, “Whenever I am on social networking sites or even attending events for the things that I like, I will always hear or see people belittling the actions that I’m doing.” Junior Victoria Harris expands on why she thinks there is no term created to label the male counterpart of fangirling, stating, “I think there probably isn’t a specific term for guys being so passionate over something just due to the fact we don’t really associate emotions or just feelings with guys. Girls are always known to ‘overreact.’ As a result, girls are seen as more expressive in general just because of certain things, while guys are taught not to really show feelings, hence the term: ‘boys don’t cry.’” Sophomore Khalil Foster explains his view, stating, “In my opinion, fangirls are given this bad reputation due to the fact they like boy bands or certain celebrities, things considered

‘girly.’ However, there isn’t a term used for boys or men that are obsessed with a certain brand or sport. They are just fans.” Students find that discrimination towards fangirls can prompt young women to feel as if they should not be pursuing their hobbies. Instead of going out into the world ready to embrace and share their passions with others, girls are more likely to hide their interests because they fear that someone is going to scorn them. Vanessa, like Jessica, has experienced issues with others telling her that voicing her interests in public and online are not acceptable. Vanessa continues, “If I am being told to constantly hide my interests then shouldn’t everyone else hide theirs? The things that people are interested in makes them them.” Sophomore Dahianna Murillo expresses her views as a feminist and fangirl, adding, “One of the main reasons why I consider myself to be a feminist is because of the ideals that people push upon me because I label myself a fangirl. Is there are problem liking a band to the extent where I’ll go to their concerts? No. Yet society makes it seem like there is.” Freshman Amrin Rahman simalarly comments on the negative impact of bias towards fangirls, saying, “It is hard enough for women to share their opinions about controversial issues without being judged. Now, since we are being judged for our music taste [and] TV shows we watch, it might be even more difficult to voice opinions in the future. It may even result in some women feeling like their opinions don’t matter or that they do not have a voice in the world.” Junior Agata Turula concludes, “I guess it’s just society that enforces these ‘rules’ on what girls and guys should like. That’s how it’s always been. I think we can change it, though. If more and more girls and guys start trying new things, we can change the stereotype.”

“ It is hard enough for women to share their opinion about controversial issues without being judged. Now, since we are being judged for our music taste, TV shows we watch, etc, it might be even more difficult to voice opinions in the future. ”


September 2016



One post at a time: social media creates a new activist culture by Sarah Gafur, Features Editor THERE IS a growing sentiment among activists and the general public that social media activism is not a viable form of creating change. However, many movements, ranging from small to large in size, are using social media to attempt to effect change. Some of the groups range from the Black Lives Matter movement to smaller scale campaigns like the Asian American Studies at Hunter College campaign. There have been multiple protests put on by Black Lives Matter, legal gains for the LGBT community, and new frontiers faced by feminism; throughout it all the media has covered it all. However, despite this, many feel that the media either covers these movements in a biased fashion or focuses too much on certain news stories while ignoring others. Social media has undeniably allowed for the faster spread of information across the world. News stories that would have otherwise gone unreported (or under-reported) are now finding themselves on the homepages of your Facebook account. Social studies teacher Alex Wood explained, “If something happened in a small town far away and we were able to have proof, then social media would play a major role in raising awareness. If the story is compelling enough

and the injustice great enough, social media will grab a hold of it.” Many are using social media as a means to manipulate the mainstream media. The Black Lives Matter movement began with a hashtag and is now a nationally recognized force. Their use of hashtags on Twitter and Facebook have sparked a national conversation in response to the deaths of black folk at the hands of police. Senior Genova Brown commented, “I definitely see bias in the way black folk murders are reported. When black folk are murdered, it seems like the [news] media tries to find background history in an attempt to validate their murder in a way.” The BLM movement began with the intention of creating a new narrative on the issue of police brutality. BLM claims that mainstream media outlets have skewed the way that these cases are reported. Through the creations of these hashtags, they’ve been able to spotlight cases like those of Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and many others. Online activism is a growing niche that many are falling into. Posting articles, sharing donation links, inducing dialogue on certain issues and orchestrating groups devoted to issues all contribute to the online activist “culture.” Senior Sangida Akter ex-

plained ways she gets involved with social media activism. “I get involved in many ways, one being exploring my options of events and rallies. Liking and supporting

“ Social media activism is definitely only one part of the puzzle; I think it will be very hard for a movement to strictly be effective with only an online presence. ” grassroots organizations through likes and post shares that could foster policy change. Also, opening dialogue with friends about these issues that I see we have a common rage for is important to me as well, like the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said. Junior Victoria Harris explained, “I find most of the protests I go to through Facebook. Friends

that share the common interest of social work share events and that’s how I find them. For me social media activism leads to physical activism.” The Asian American Studies program at Hunter College is in danger of being shut down next year. Students took to the internet to begin their campaign to keep the program alive. Using Google Hangouts, hashtags, Twitter and Facebook they were able to curate a group of students willing to come together and face the school’s board. Kevin Park, representative of CRAASH (Coalition for Asian American Studies at Hunter College) explained their use of technology in their campaign. “in addition to our photo campaign called #WhyINeedAAS, we did a Google Hangout with Cornell and Northwestern University’s APA groups about the struggle for AAS on our campuses which was moderated by Vijay Prashad. The Google Hangout was also part of a Twitter Townhall going on at the same time.” Some view social media activism as unnecessary and without reward. The activism many envision entails parades through the streets, fists raised in the air, and a sea of posters. However, with this new wave of accessibility online many fall short in the physical

realm of protesting. Kevin went on to explain, “Social media activism is definitely only one part of the puzzle; I think it will be very hard for a movement to strictly be effective with only an online presence. However, when people put media activism down, I think it sets us up for an exclusive movement than an inclusive one.” However, identifying with movements also opens you up to the same prejudices and injustices that are being protested. When protesting topics like immigration policy or deportations or LGBT rights, students open themselves up to physical harm or deportation. Mr. Wood commented, “The ability for students to participate in these protests are dependent on a lot of factors, like their citizenship status. Many undocumented students wouldn’t readily come out with that information which makes it seem like they’re not pursuing these issues.” Junior Victoria Harris explained, “Safety when it come to protests is always questionable, in a matter of seconds it can become violent. However, I don’t think that should be a deterrent from protesting. Yes, it could get ugly but it’s all for the greater good of equality.”

Harrisites celebrate hispanic heritage month by Daniell Morales and Alyssa Nepomuceno, Staff Writers THE MONTH of October is dedicated to Hispanic heritage, meaning the heritage of those from a country with Spanish speaking origins. We decided to put Hispanic students to the test to see how much they really knew about their country’s culture. These are the results: Q: Who are some famous figures from your country? Colombia: Sophomore Matilde Cardoso said, “Shakira and Sofia Vergara are some celebrities I like to name when anybody asks about my country, mainly because other famous figures don’t have a great reputation.” Ecuador: “Maria Elisa Camargo and Roberto Manrique are Ecuadorian TV stars that have appeared in several Telemundo telenovelas like ‘Doña Barbara’ and ‘Porque el Amor Manda.’ They’re both good looking people. Christina Aguilera is also half Ecuadorian,” stated junior Josselyn Navas. Peru: Senior Nicolas Barrios mentioned, “Mario Vargas Llosa [won the] Nobel prize for literature.”

Mexico: Freshman Adamary Felipe said, “Vicente Fernández, Juan Gabriel, Jenni Rivera, Maria Elena Velasco, and Cantinflas are all famous figures that have dealt with issues most would rather not deal with and have impacted the music and television worlds in their own ways.” Q: What is your country well known for? Ecuador: Junior Josselyn Navas stated, “In the tourist perspective, we’re known for our landscape; volcanoes, waterfalls, and deep-gemstone lakes. As for food, I feel like a lot of people relate the word ‘cut’ to Ecuador, but in reality this tradition of eating guinea pigs is only something practiced in the highlands.” Peru: Senior Nicolas Barrios mentioned that Peru is known “for the food, llamas, and Machu Picchu.” Mexico: Osiris Guerrero addressed recent political rhetoric about Mexico noting that some say Mexico is known for “bringing illegal immigrants who are rapists and other criminals into the US.” He added, “This is not true, just a very biased opinion made

by people who don’t know the facts. The country itself is popular for its beaches and rich culture and history, like the Mayans and Aztecs and their pyramids.”

Vallarta. Also the ancient artifacts of Mexico are huge with tourist spots like Chichén Itzá, the Mayan Metropolis and the Ancient Fortress of Tulum. ”

Q: What are some of the most famous tourist locations?

Q: What is a tradition from the country?

Colombia: Sophomore Matilde Cardoso explained that “there aren’t many famous tourist locations in mainland Colombia, but the beaches in Cartagena and San Andres are very well known for scuba divers.” Ecuador: Junior Josselyn Navas recommended that “for those seeking an adrenaline rush, there’s “La Casa del Arbol” or “the Treehouse” for my non-Spanish takers. You get to swing over a mountainous abyss without any safety measures whatsoever- it’s just you, a swing, an old treehouse, and the beauty of nature.” Peru: Senior Nicolas Barrios knew of “Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes, Cuzco, the Nasca Lines, Lago Titicaca, and El Valle Sagrado.” Mexico: Freshman Adamary Felipe stated “Some of the most famous tourist locations are the beaches like Cancún and Puerto

Colombia: Junior David Betancur said, “dancing and partying for almost anything, huge festivities during Christmas and also a huge flower festival where people carry great designs made up of flowers on their backs” Ecuador: Senior Eileen Jimenez knew of “a tradition that occurs every year in Ecuador is on New Years called los años viejos. People make giant-sized dolls of cartoon characters, celebrities, or even people that they don’t like. “When the clock strikes twelve, people light the towering doll on fire. For Ecuadorians, this is them symbolically getting rid of all the negative things in their life and making room for all the positive things the new year may bring.” Peru: Senior Nicolas Barrios stated the “Inti Raymi (Sun Festival).” Mexico: “A tradition

that’s the same for almost every other hispanic nation is the famous party where a girl turns into a woman called a Quinceñera.”


8 September 2016


INCOMING TEA by Rabia Hasan and Aly Tantawy, News Editors

























Mr. Dunbar is starting his 9th year teaching. Pre-


viously, he has taught at Louis Pasteur Middle

Ms. Magnan recieved her Bachelors in Com-


School and Chaminade High School. “I’m look-

munications from Marist College and her Mas-


ing forward to working with some of the most

ters in School Counseling from CUNY Hunter Col-


academically curious students in the city,

lege. She has prior experience at Hunter’s Point


collaborating with administrators and col-

Community Middle School and The Beacon School.


leagues that value student achievement

Regarding her experience here at THHS, “It’s been


above all else, and doing everything I can

an immensely positive experience and both students


as an English teacher to instill a love of

and staff have been incredibly warm and welcoming.”


the humanities in each of my students.”
























D Dr. Zhang received his education in China and his PhD in

Ms. Ramdhany, a Long Island native, holds a BS in

biomedical science. He has received a Master’s Degree in

biology and received her Masters in Secondary

Chemistry. “I teach the chemistry class and the science

Sciences from Hofstra University. “I love the end-

research class. I look forward to teaching my chemistry

less possibilities of the classroom, and creating

students everything I can about the subject. I want them

inquiry-based activities. I love making new les-

to fully learn and not memorize content for a test. I am

sons because they push me as a teacher to look

very excited to be part of the science research class. I

at concepts in new ways so that I can present

see these very hardworking students and I want each

them to different types of learners (and mostly

kid to participate, compete and win the competitions.”

because teaching science is intrinsically fun).”


September 2016




Photos by Sarah Gafur, Renaenia Pangan, Devjani Paul, Adam Sosnicki, and Justice Williams

























Mr. Stern attended Binghamton University for his Bachelor of Arts in Physics. “I want my legacy to be one that inspires students to strive every day to become the best iteration of themselves. I want students to look back on their time in my classroom and remember how I pushed them that much closer to fulfilling their true potential. I want students to feel infected with a passion for learning that stays with them forever. Henry Adams once said, ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’ Nothing would be sweeter than that.”

Mr. Lemanczyk has a Bachelors of Science degree in Sociology. He previously taught in the Great Neck public school system. “THHS has an incredible reputation, in both New York State and in the country, for being one of the best and the brightest high schools… [This was] a great opportunity. I am definitely excited about this school because of its tradition and history… This will be my seventh year teaching and I’ve never seen anyone so excited and eager to learn [as these students] and teachers seem ready to provide them with the tools they need to learn.”













Mr. Claesgens is an alum of Penn State University, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He worked in finance for two years, before joining the NYC Teaching Fellows and earned a Master’s Degree in Education alongside teaching. He is delighted “when students develop an appreciation for math in their daily lives outside of the classroom.” He adds, “I am passionate about traveling, Penn State football, and ultimate frisbee.” With eight years of experience teaching in New York City under his belt, Mr. Claesgens is extremely glad to join the faculty at Townsend Harris High School.

Layout based on a template created by Christina Wang ‘15

10 September 2016

Dreading cultural appropriation


by Mohima Sattar & Diego Ramos, Opinion Editors


CULTURAL APPROPRIATION, in and of itself, is a particularly sensitive topic when it comes to pop culture and the media in the current age of digital exposure. Such a case was made apparent in New York’s Fashion Week when designer Marc Jacobs received harsh criticism online for his use of dreadlocks on his models during one of his final shows.

People immediately took to social media to voice their opinions over the controversy, criticizing Jacobs for the use of faux dreads on models without crediting black culture. Fashion shows are known for making statements, and it is the norm for these shows to exhibit clothes we would never in our dreams imagine wearing; they are more of an art form. Jacobs was “making a statement” with the dreads by using them as a homage to ‘70s American culture. Along with the dreads came sky-high platform boots and brightly colored patterns. Jacobs himself provided a response to the complaints on Instagram, implying that he was not even aware of it being an issue, and that he was not attempting to appropriate aspects of any culture with the multicolored pastel dreads. Because the fashion industry is always challenging boundaries, it must be prepared to receive backlash from people. However, the point of the

show was never to disrespect black culture or politics, and it did not claim to have invented the

“ There is a fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, and society unfortunately often misses the mark and considers many things to be the latter. “ concept of dreads. The show contained models of all races, and the style of the dreads, multicolor pastel and in a knot, was to be an art piece to

compliment the style of the clothing, which also borrowed from past eras and punk cultures. The use of other cultures’ traditions and looks should not be frowned upon when practiced by those of different cultural groups. There is a fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, and society unfortunately often misses the mark and considers many things to be the latter. Townsend Harris High School’s Festival of Nations is a perfect example of cultural appreciation, as people of all ethnicities celebrate and delve into each other’s cultures. There can be a Chinese student in Punjabi FON or a Russian student in French-African FON, and everyone still recognizes such as an appreciation of culture and a showcasing of art. Marc Jacobs’ presentation of his spring line is similar in that he draws inspiration from the past American culture, whether it be black or punk.

F for filthy: displaying grades on food carts by Kristiana Deur, A&E Editor TOWNSEND HARRIS High School students are often seen eating from the food carts scattered around the Queens College campus. Each vendor sells a different selection of food, but they all share one thing in common: the absence of a sanitation grade. Although carts must have regular sanitation inspections, they are not required to post their grades outside their establishments like restaurants are. After an inspection, the business will receive a letter grade from A to C that reflects how many of the health code guidelines they follow or violate. A grade of C, which can amount to 28 health code violations, will require the vendor or restaurant to close down. Expectedly, customers often shy away from restaurants rated with low grades because they indicate the obvious disregard to cleanliness. Level C can indicate the use of spoiled food, both features that customers typically want to be aware of and stay away from. The inspectors post the grades given to the food trucks online, but they do not require vendors to have the grade visible anywhere else, as restaurants do on the front of their establishments or somewhere customers can clearly see it. The posting of this vital information online is rendered useless due to the difficulty in

accessing it. In order to discover the grade of the cart or truck, the consumer must know the permit number, which most people tend not to do simply because they do not have the time. Food trucks’ main consumers tend to be people who don’t have ample time to sit and eat. While this is not always the case, customers usually cannot be bothered to go through a lengthy process to find out whether or not their food is safe to eat. It should be the vendors responsibility to guarantee that the food is being prepared under sanitary condi-

tions. Sometimes, food vendors do not have a permit at all or obtain one illegally. As consumers, it is our right to know what we are buying and eating. If the grade were posted outside, the customer would have a better sense of the conditions the chef prepared the food in, as well as give the vendors a motive to improve their sanitation conditions. Posting the grades outside would provide incentive for the vendors to keep a clean environment and improve their grade because it would directly

have a result on their business. The higher the grade, the more likely people would buy their food. At the same time, the customers know that what they are consuming isn’t contaminated. Customers and owners of food carts would both benefit from this implementation because consumers would have a more trustworthy opinion regarding the cleanliness of certain trucks and owners would experience potential business advantages with health regulations being on their side. PHOTO BY PATRICK MENCHACA


Students share opinions on what needs to be changed at THHS “It would be nice if the school handled scheduling more efficiently and before school actually starts so there isn’t such a hassle.” -Junior Rabia Khan “I’d want the school to create a more efficient system for when students get out of gym to go to their next class. Sometimes things happen and I would hope teachers understand that gym causes us to be late, so if there was a card that allowed us an extra few minutes of convenience printed with our gym band it would be much appreciated” -Junior Zayyan Alamgir “As a senior looking back at my years at Townsend Harris, I’d like to change how we can only access our lockers before zero or first band, before our lunch band or at the end of the day. When I was a freshman, I had lunch 7th band; it was really bothersome having to carry around all my books until then (and you all know freshmen and their need to carry five pounds of books in their bags). It would have be easier if the rule wasn’t put into place so I wouldn’t have to strain myself everyday carrying my stuff.” -Senior Rheo Aguilar “I would want students to have a varied schedule rather than the same schedule everyday; I feel that it gets monotonous and boring.” - Freshman Olivia Biedrzycki “I do wish the music between classes was slightly louder.” -Freshman Bethany Leung “[I would prefer] a more balanced workload throughout the classes.” -Sophomore Gen Kramer “Although the homework schedule is meant to aid students by lightening their burden, the schedule is not distributed that evenly. This leads to some days of the week where the amount of homework is very little, and other days where the pile of homework seems colossal. If the homework schedule was modified, perhaps this would allow students to focus individually on subjects so that their work would be more thorough.” -Sophomore Dilpreet Kaur


September 2016




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.



Pictured: The co-Editor-in-Chief of The Classic and Principal Jahoda signing The Classic charter, which allows students top publish their opinions without being censored.

Keeping our spot as number one WITH THE departure of former principal Anthony Barbetta, new principal Rosemarie Jahoda has decided to begin her year with “a listening tour to gather information from students, staff and parents.” Over the past few weeks, she has set up meetings with components of the student body to try and familiarize herself with the school (including a lunch meeting with our editorial team). We commend these efforts and wish to help further the goals behind this listening tour by providing our thoughts about what a new leader of the building should know about our strengths and weaknesses. There are endless things that make THHS so unique. Our small population minimizes the distance between students from other grades, the faculty, and the administration. A large school environment can be highly impersonal. The connections one makes here, however, establish permanent familiarity; those who graduate from THHS continue to reminisce about traditions like Founder’s Day, SING!, and FON. Within the school, the various clubs and teams likewise represent the diverse interests of students and perpetuate these connections. We believe that these aspects of THHS life, which go beyond the classroom, are as important to the education provided here as what goes on in the classroom. That is not to say that what goes on in the classroom is lacking. The Election Simulation is a great example of what THHS classes can produce. It is another event that make us so distinctive, and shows that at our best, our classes can push us to do something beyond note-taking and test-taking. What you will see during the Simulation is that THHS welcomes political discussion and few other schools take politics and social issues into such intense consideration. The Simulation successfully allows students to weave in current issues beyond the class-

room, creating an interactive platform for all. It is a model for the rest of the school. In addition to the aforementioned, THHS prides itself in its partnership with Queens College. Students have full access to QC resources and seniors are allowed to take two electives per semester on campus. It is essential that we maintain this (and nurture it), as it is directly prepares students for college and gives them the opportunity for free credits. We hope to foster all the above aspects that make us unique while constructively improving other areas of the school. On that note, every fall, one of the main issues students face involves scheduling. We are looking into whether or not this year produced more problems for students than previous years (for a future article), but we know the student body feels strongly that the process needs improvement. Perhaps other schools like ours feature the same scene every September: a guidance office full of students desperate for schedule changes. This year, students hampered guidance to such an extent that they even had to close their offices momentarily. Many seniors were highly unsatisfied with their schedules this year as the bridge year at QC posed a problem of dealing with two schedules and QC classes were built around THHS classes. The QC programmers efficiently dealt with certain issues, but they can only do so much within their limits. Since the two schedules are in sync, oftentimes this means that students must be placed into classes against their will solely to meet graduation requirements. Seniors wish to claim senior priority so that during their last year, they can take classes of their choosing in time for college applications. On the whole, students feel that better communication would improve these issues. Many assume

budget cuts produce scheduling issues, but it’s not clear to us how or why that happens. Some students would like, for example, to see more funding in the arts and music departments. In previous years, the band department has asked their students to contribute a set amount of money to assist in purchasing sheet music and paying for instrument repairs. Students must battle with old instruments and battered music stands and would like to see an upgrade. Most likely, however, each department has students who would like to see new and better equipment (and more). Transparency about what we can and cannot do because of budgetary limitations would help. On a much larger scale, there have been other major issues where students feel in the dark and would prefer to have an administration that regularly shares key information with the community. It is not uncommon for students to see a number of key changes made without announcements that explain them. At this point, seniors in this school have seen three teachers removed from the building in four years. In the absence of official communications about such events, rumors run rampant, and regardless of what the reasons for these dismissals may be, students and parents have a right to know what is going on in their school. Moreover, students who have spoken up in these scenarios should know that the administration publicly supports their coming forward, which would assure other students that they can do the same if need be. It is a matter of both honesty and safety. We are grateful for the opportunity to share these thoughts and believe this is a strong way for Mrs. Jahoda to handle this transition so promptly and dynamically. We hope to aid her in her efforts and encourage the rest of the student body to do the same.

NEWS EDITORS Rabia Hasan Aly Tantawy

SPORTS EDITORS Agastya Vaidya Alexander T. Velaoras

FEATURES EDITORS Jillissa Drayton Sarah Gafur

SCIENCE & TECH Gustavo Delgado Sarah Yu

OPINION EDITORS Mohima Sattar Diego Ramos

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS Renaenia Pangan Adam Sosnicki Justice Williams

A&E EDITORS Francesca Filiberti Kristiana Deur COPY EDITORS Ashley An Ashley Zhao MULTIMEDIA EDITORS Laura Marsico Mahira Raihan

LAYOUT EDITOR Tara Jackson LAYOUT TEAM: Blanca Capan

MANAGING EDITORS Mehrose Ahmad Arifa Baksh

ADVISOR Brian Sweeney

We welcome letters to the editor. Townsend Harris High School 149-11 Melbourne Avenue Flushing, NY 11367 thhsclassic@gmail.com

The Classic reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and concision.


Introducing the Class of 2017: Find our page on Facebook, which profiles the senior class as they prepare to graduate. FROM THE EDITORS

Have an opinion on an article published in The Classic? Want to have your thoughts on a topic published? Write a “Letter to the Editor” and email it to thhsclassic@ gmail.com.

12 September 2016


Seniors win in NYC summer tech program

SCIENCE & TECH Steel Hawks prepare for upcoming year

by Gustavo Delgado, Sci & Tech Editor TOWNSEND HARRIS High School is well-known for students who excel in academic pursuits within its walls, but excelling outside of school has its own special novelty. From internships to summer learning programs, Harrisites shine bright in their pursuit of knowledge. Seniors Maria Silaban and Max Prohorov won a $5000 prize alongside a team of fellow high schoolers after the rigorous NY Metro Startup Summer Tech Program for their app, YuMu. The members of their team were Brian Lu, Aminata Dieng, and Plai Ravangpal, from Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, and Hunter College High Schools, respectively. Concerning the purpose of the program, senior Maria Silaban stated, “Summer Startup Tech serves as an opportunity to provide NYC youth with the skills necessary to succeed in the business world and the competition aspect attempts to simulate what being a real life entrepreneur may entail.” Through hands-on experiences and mentorship, teams of high school students throughout

New York City were given out, they were always there to that contributed to their success. the opportunity to develop the guide us.” Positions on the team included bare bones for an application and After eight weeks of devel- analysts, developers, and CEO, market their idea. During this ten opment, Max described, “YuMu, and operations officer. With these week program, the students were a mobile application that consoli- roles, the tasks were divided given two weeks to immerse dates the preferences of teens and evenly amongst the group to enthemselves in cod- young adults who are planning a sure that both the business and ing languages such group outing and produces sug- the technical sides were handled as HTML, CSS, gestions that will satisfy each properly. Thanks to their teamand JavaScript and person. By finding a solution that work, each of these high schoolform teams to de- everyone can get behind, YuMu ers left with a large cash prize velop a mobile app secures more time for friends to and valuable knowledge. and business plan come together and make lasting Senior Aminata Dieng of aimed at improv- memories.” Brooklyn Tech stated, “The larging education or Senior Maria Silaban fur- est effect the program’s had on the quality of city thered this by saying, “You can me is showing me that being an life for NYC stu- poll and come to agree on the entrepreneur is now so much dents. Later, they perfect place. The greatest thing easier than I thought it would be, worked in a more about the app is that you don’t but also so much more difficult. c l a s s r o o m - l i k e even need the app to poll. If one Anyone can start a company as setting in various of your friends has it, they can long as there’s a vision, but not company offices alongside skilled mentors. The mentors included re p re se nt at ive s from companies such as AppNexus, JP Morgan, and Google. The Demo-Night, during which the apps and plans were brought before a panel of judges, was held on September 7. Senior Brian Lu of Stuyvesant High School explained, “We got to our final product by listing a bunch of features our app should have. As time went on, we made some of these ‘visions’ and prioritized ones that would be more important. Once again, PHOTO COURTESY OF MARGARET FOX our mentors were a huge help. Seniors Maria Silaban, Max Prohorov and fellow high schoolers win at They knew what was realistic, the New York Metro Startup Summer Tech Program. but also knew what people liked in an app. From making our app send you the suggested list so that everyone can keep that vision as inclusive as possible, to what you can take part in the polling.” smart and innovative. I do think, people would actually care about Each member of this suc- though, that anyone can learn.” when choosing a place to hang cessful team had a specific role

“ Anyone can start a company as long as there’s a vision, but not everyone can keep that vision... innovative...I do think though, that anyone can learn. ”

Students volunteer with Queens hospital partnership by Stephanie Chain, Staff Writer IN 2014, the Queens Hospital Center and Townsend Harris High School created a program that allows students to be partnered with healthcare professionals to gain experience and knowledge in the field of medicine. Students who are 16 and older are able to volunteer at the hospital during the summer or school year. There are many departments that the students can work at, including physical therapy, psychiatry, ambulatory care, and much more. Then freshman, now senior Vinod Raghunath, first brought forth the idea of establishing the connection between the two facilities. He stated, “I volunteered at

the hospital when I just entered eighth grade, and from then on, I built up my reputation there and met a lot of new people. After hearing my proposal to have students from Townsend volunteer with them at Queens Hospital, they were ecstatic.” Since then, students have been going to the hospital to volunteer. THHS has become a common name at the place, and lots of students of all ages volunteer there. Some students even got to work there over the summer as youth interns with a salary. Volunteers and interns do a wide range of tasks ranging from clerical work to field work. It’s a great experience for anyone who wants to go into the medical field, especially because there are so many areas to work in the medi-

cal field such as the financial and administration aspects of it. Other than volunteering, the program also allows opportunities such as research. Students who are currently taking sophomore, junior, and senior science research and social science research classes will be able to conduct more research within the hospital and visit the Queens Hospital Center Medical Library. The school will invite employees from the hospital as guest speakers for Career Day, and sex education lessons and demonstrations will be provided by THHS staff along with hospital professionals. Senior Devjani Paul volunteers at the pediatrics clinic. She stated, “I love the program the hospital has with the school be-

cause it gave me an opportunity to volunteer which I wouldn’t have gotten if there wasn’t a program. Volunteering was one of the best experiences I had because it showed that I am able to work well with kids, and it gave me a lot of memories that I will not forget.” Coordinator of Student Activities and Biology teacher Sarah Oberlander also praised the program, stating, “I think this program is a great opportunity for students to gain hands-on skills and experience in the medical and research field.” The school usually holds Queens Hospital volunteer interest meetings after school at the end of the fall and spring semesters, announced through email.

by Christopher Gerbasi & SM Shariar, Staff Writers WHEN PEOPLE initially think of the Steel Hawks Robotics team, building until 8:05 PM every day and a lack of sleep are usually what come to mind. However, nobody ever thinks of the team members’ continued work after the competitions end and when summer begins. In fact, some Steel Hawks take it upon themselves to spend their summer analyzing the shortcomings that the robot had the previous year in order to not only increase the team’s rankings for entry into the FRC World Championships, but to relieve the pressure on their fellow team mates when the scramble to build begins. Junior Derrick Mu, with the help of junior Angelina Huang and the mentoring of Priscilla Wong, was the leader in Vision, a programmed autonomous aiming system for future competitions. He observed, “During last year’s competition, we were not able to score as much because we could not align the robot properly. This is where vision comes in. The team wanted to use a camera to see the goal and make the robot align itself using the camera. This was a daunting task since our team was never able to accomplish this, but I was up to the task. It required a lot of programming that I worked on with Angelina and the use of new programs. This is a ma jor milestone for the Steel Hawks and I am proud to have gotten us there.” However, a Steel Hawks’ work is never truly complete. When asked about goals for the upcoming year, Derrick plans to work with the team to integrate PID (proportional integral derivative) into the new designs to minimize error as much as possible. In addition to Vision, the new updates will allow for ma jor improvements to the robot versus last year’s model and allow a ma jor advantage to upcoming competitions such as Brunswick Eruption (in New Jersey) and Half Hollow Hills (in New York). With high hopes for the new season, Junior Vice President Sam Diaz remarked, “Well, as every year before, our aim is to not only make it to worlds, but to compete our best and hopefully win as we do.” While new improvements benefit the team’s chance of success in the upcoming season, passion, hardwork and dedication is the Steel Hawk’s true trump card.


September 2016


Sci & Tech

Team Townsend catches ‘em all

Top 4 Pokestops around THHS Art and design by Blanca Capan and Alexis Castro Photos by Renaenia Pangan and Melissa Wong

by Sarah Yu, Sci & Tech Editor SINCE ITS launch on July 6, Pokemon Go has risen as a global phenomenon, becoming one of the world’s most popular mobile apps with over 100 million downloads. Developed by Niantic, the augmented reality game uses a mobile device’s Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate wild Pokemon in the same real-life area as players, who are then able to catch and train them. Gyms, locations for players to battle each other, and Pokestops, sites offering items such as eggs, Poke Balls, and potions, are scattered throughout the game. Gyms and Pokestops are placed according to places of interest. For example, historical landmarks or buildings such as the Empire State Building are labeled as gyms. Therefore, urban hotspots such as New York City hold the most gyms and Pokestops. Senior Bernard Silverstein commented, “I enjoy the physical aspect of Pokemon Go because it doesn’t feel like I’m exercising. It’s just fun to go outdoors to search for gyms, Pokemon, and Pokestops.” Queens College campus is a Gym and Pokestop hotspot. The four gyms on campus are called The Summit @ Queens College, James Baldwin, Queens College Student Union, and Queens College Smokestack; they are all within a mile of each other. The map for Pokemon Go is essentially the same as that of Ingress, Niantic’s previous augmented reality game. Using crowdsourced data from Ingress, Niantic was able to pinpoint locations for Pokestops and gyms in Pokemon Go. In a “King of the Hill” game style, players and their respective teams hold a gym for as long as possible until another team overpowers them and takes over. The three teams, Valor, Mystic, and Instinct, are signified by the legendary Pokemon Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos, respectively. Senior Sidney Tolentino, who is a Valor player, remarked, “There’s friendly rivalry between the different teams. It’s fun to compete against my friends, who are mostly on Team Mystic. There’s also a sense of camaraderie amongst players of the same team. It’s pretty cool that I’ve been able to strike up conversations with people at gyms and Pokestops.”

Pokemon Go may seem like just a silly game, but there are reasons connecting back to the human body and psychology that explain its immense popularity. Psychologists believe that people are addicted to the game because they are experiencing the fear of “missing out” (FOMO). Players grow increasingly paranoid that they will miss a rare Pokemon or useful Pokestop, so they put themselves in the habit of constantly checking the game. Pokemon Go allows players to stimulate the reward centers of the brain and experience doses of dopamine when they accomplish a task. Moreover, the physical activity related to the game makes people produce more endorphins and neurotransmitters, which improve overall mood. Science teacher Joshua Raghunath added, “Especially for the THHS kids who don’t like going out, they seem to enjoy running around chasing augmented reality Pokemon. There were four hundred people in the park near me; it was incredible. Anything that can get people outside and active is a good thing.” The game can certainly get addicting, with some even taking precaution to prevent it from becoming so. Science teacher Joel Heitman commented on his two sons: “If they were given free reign of their electronic devices, they would definitely be addicted.” However, Pokemon Go has not come without its setbacks. When it first launched, the app servers frequently crashed due to the overwhelming number of players logging in at once. In mid-July, the game’s old Pokemon tracking system, which displayed from zero to three footprints depending on how far away a Pokemon was, was rendered useless. Named the “three-step-glitch,” it was never fixed, and Niantic wiped it from the game completely. Nintendo is currently working on developing Pokemon Go Plus, which is a wearable Bluetooth gadget that allows users to play the game without looking at their phone or tablet. The device is expected to be available to the public this fall. Junior Rabia Khan remarked, “I’m looking forward to new updates to the game. I hope Niantic allows us to trade and battle with each other soon.”

1) Ampitheater Sculptures, Colden Auditorium

2) A journey of a thousand miles, Queens College Science Building

3) Janseung Guardian pole, Dining Hall

4) Ants Art at QC, Dining Hall

14 September 2016


Fall season sports preview


by Agastya Vaidya & Alex Velaroas, Sports Editors

THE START of the new school year brings with it the beginning of fall season sports, which many students have already started training for. Bowling The girls bowling team had success last year, finishing with a noteworthy record of 12-1. The Hawks finished at the top of their respective division by a margin of five games and even enjoyed an 11 game win streak, which ended in their final match of the season with a tight loss to the Stuyvesant Peglegs. They hope to add on to their previous strong season by following up with another this upcoming year. The boys bowling team also hopes to build on last year’s season, where they finished fifth in their division with a 5-7 record. Senior and Captain Kennis Kong explained,“I feel confident that the next season will be extraordinary because we all had time to be comfortable with each other and with bowling. Many of us had several years of experience, and we know what to expect since we’re playing in the same division again, so I believe we can do even better than last year and advance further in the playoffs. If we stick to our coach’s advice, which is to focus on ourselves and look ahead, we can achieve great things regardless of our history.” Cross Country Last year, the boys cross country team won their first ever Queensborough Champions, and expect to do so again this fall. Senior and cross country co-captain Muhamed Bicic spoke about his expectations of the team this fall season. “I look forward to our team defending our title as Queens Champions for the second time in a row. I am confident that my team members have trained hard and will continue to so that we can hit new personal best times,” he said. Sophomore Jairo Reina added, “I have great expectations for the team and myself this year. All of us have something we want to work towards and the simple fact that we’re willing to work enough for it means that we’ll be able to get those results. A personal goal that I have is to go sub 18:30 in the 5k event.” The girls cross country team also fared well last year, finishing second in the borough by a mere 12 points. Senior Maressa Cumbermack explained, “I’m really excited, but I think we might struggle this year because we lost a lot of key runners from last year. But I definitely think that we all have worked extremely hard all year and that we can step up, and hopefully achieve the triple crown throughout Cross

Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track. We will have to work harder because we are lacking these people, but I definitely think that we can do it.” With training having began in late August, the Hawks seem prepared for another robust cross country season. Soccer The girls soccer team is also enthusiastic for their upcoming season, looking to improve upon their 7-5-1 season in 2015. Last year, the Hawks played miles above their previous season, accumulating nearly five extra goals for the season, and a better overall record. Senior Chelsea Chaug commented on this improvement: “Every year we get more girls who have an immediate impact on the team. The team chemistry has also improved tremendously, which I believe plays a great role in our recent success. We’ve been practicing all summer together and work so well together. Also most of our players are once again healthy and super motivated to train everyday. I personally think that this season will be extremely special. The team hopes to become even better so that we can finish on top of our division.” Similarly, the boys soccer team is looking to get even better this year, after finishing with a sturdy 8-2-2 record last year. Though they have started the season 0-1, the team definitely expects to maintain a higher level of play for their upcoming season. Junior Udipto Chowdhury explained, “I hope that the team can play well together and can build good coordination between each other. Improving communication when actually playing and also just the strategies we use [are] essential. My goal for myself is to be physically fit and score even more goals by improving my volleys.” Swimming The girls swimming team made a splash last year, tying rival Francis Lewis with the top spot in the Queens A division, and then making it all the way to the second round of the playoffs. Senior Angelica Moratos said, “I’m confident that we can win Boroughs, and I know that the girls are super pumped for this season. We’ve been practicing our strokes all summer and now that the season is finally here, we’re ready to compete with other teams and hopefully go deep into the playoffs.” The Turtles’ first game is on September 22 against the Queens HS for the Sciences at York College. Fencing The boys fencing team’s season starts on September 28, against the

Queens High School of Teaching right in the Townsend Harris gymnasium. Last year, the team didn’t do as well as expected, winning just 4 of their 10 total matches, but this year the team looks forward to a better season. Regarding these expectations, Junior Andrew Glus said, “I just hope we make it to the playoffs and that everyone really tries their best this year. Personally I want to improve my footwork.” Junior Jaewoo Nam added on, “All of us want to make it to playoffs because this school team has done so for the past twenty years, and it would be humiliating if we were to break that streak.” Badminton Comparably, the boys badminton team also hopes for major improvements, as they finished with a 4-6 record in their Northern Division last fall. However, last year’s mark still proved to be an improvement from the team’s play the year before, and Coach Stephen Rusgo explained how this year he believes that the team will be even better. Senior Captain Christian Foronda further explained, “It’s my first time playing singles on the team so it’ll be a harder season but a goal of mine is to reach playoffs as an individual. As captain, I also want to welcome the new members to our team and bring out their inner competitiveness. Badminton may seem like an easy sport but it takes a lot of practice and hard work to be able to play at the competitive level. I want to make sure that we [the seniors] are leaving the team in capable hands, which I’m pretty confident in. As a team we would love to reach playoffs either together, or individual players, which we’ve shortly missed in the past but I think we have a very strong and competitive team this year and I’m already seeing great skill and chemistry in our leading players. But most importantly I want the team, especially the new guys, to learn to love and enjoy the sport, whether we win or lose.” Volleyball Both the girls junior varsity and the girls varsity teams are starting their seasons this fall. Last season, the girls junior varsity team was able to bump, set, and spike their way to an undefeated season of 6-0. This season the team looks to match the success of last year, and be first once again in the Queens II division. Finishing with a record of 4-6 last season, the girls varsity volleyball team also looks to build on this and make the playoffs. Senior Vanessa Xu spoke about the offseason training, “The girl’s varsity volleyball team definitely has a lot coming their way this season. Although


it is only the beginning, we have been working hard at practices and scrimmages to strive to be the best. My expectations are really high, especially having Coach Avivi guide us in this journey and coaching us to become better. The team is always motivating each other at practices and scrimmages, also the team spirit is always there. Our goal this season is to make it

to the playoffs. No matter what we all come together as one and we are one big family. During the off season, the team members worked on becoming stronger volleyball players by conditioning. Now that the season has begun, on the court we work on our defense and offense. I am looking forward to a great season this year.”


September 2016


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENTT Fresh off the BoBa: bubble tea places in Flushing By Kathy Ling & Valerie Mui, Staff Writers WALKING THROUGH the crowded streets of Flushing, there’s a high possibility of spotting at least one bubble tea café on every block. These tea-based drinks, originating from Taiwan, involve a variety of sweet ingredients shaken together, with tapioca pearls on the bottom and ice on top. We decided to visit four popular locations to find the best of these drinks—CoCo, Gong Cha, Kung Fu Tea, and Ten Ren. Along with bubble tea, these cafés also provide a large range of fruit and milk teas that taste just as delicious. The first stop was CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice. With so many locations, this particular shop has become synonymous with “bubble tea” for all Flushing frequenters. We visited one of the locations when CoCo was having a promotional offer. Each customer was able to spin the “wheel of fortune” once with each purchase to win upgrades, additional toppings, and a buyone-get-one offer. With the classic pearl milk tea ($3.00), although on the sweet side, you can’t go wrong. We then constructed a unique drink with taro milk tea, tapioca, and sago (free from the promotional offer). While tapioca seems to be a must-add ingredient, you may want to skip out on the sago; these smaller pearls add no further taste, only texture. The taro drink costs $3.75 ($3.25 for the taro tea, $0.50 for the tapioca) but on a normal day, it would have cost

$4.25. Go to CoCo for a good milk tea, but skip it if you’re looking for something more special. Another popular place for bubble tea fanatics is Kung Fu Tea. Its multiple locations always seem to be full of customers; in fact, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently made a stop here. Kung Fu Tea has a wide range of drinks that encompasses more than just tea. You can also order coffee, punch, yogurt drinks, and their signature slush drinks. To start off, we bought the standard bubble milk tea, with red bean added ($3.50 + $0.50). This was not as sweet as CoCo’s version, and the red bean added a nice texture with more natural flavors. With so many choices, it was hard for us to decide what drink to get next, but we eventually settled on the yogurt grapefruit juice ($3.75). Overall, the drink was very refreshing. However, we must warn you that the grapefruit leads to a lingering aftertaste; whether that is good or bad will depend on the person. Our next location was Ten Ren. Unlike others, Ten Ren is known to makes its own bubble tea rather than powdered packaging. Normally a popular spot to sit and enjoy a natural taste, we found the shop close to empty on a Friday evening. Starting out simple, we ordered the Jasmine Green Milk Tea ($4.00). The first sip gave us a refreshing feel, and the drink had just the right amount of sugar and texture. On top of that, it tasted completely

of natural green tea, with no artificial sweeteners. However, the bitter aftertaste made it a little less favorable; even the bubbles seemed more bland than others. The Thai Milk Tea ($4.50) gave a similar impression. This experience was a break from the average bubble tea shops, as not only were the drinks in Ten Ren natural and fresh, but also healthier in sugar level and taste. Known more for its fruit teas, yet still popular for its bubble tea, Gong Cha was the last stop we made. Surrounded by various restaurants in the food court of New World Mall, this shop always has a line. Because there was a limited variety of bubble teas to choose from, we decided o n the

original Pearl Milk Tea ($3.00), followed by the Caramel Milk Tea ($3.50). The Pearl Milk Tea was a relaxing blend between sweet (from the bubbles) and smooth (from the milk and tea). Compared to the original drinks from the other locations, this milk tea was sweeter, with a strong aftertaste. Nonetheless, it was one of the better drinks. Next, we chose the Caramel Milk Tea, which stood out on the menu. Served with only ice and no tapioca, this drink reminded us of a caramel iced coffee. It was extremely sweet.

This drink isn’t recommended if you’re craving tapioca. In general, this shop doesn’t provide many options for bubble tea; however, if you’re looking for various options of flavored tea, this is the place to go. After much deliberating, we decided on this ranking for the four places we visited, from best to worst: Kung Fu Tea, CoCo, Ten Ren, and Gong Cha. Nevertheless, all four are good places for bubble tea, so give them a try the next time you find yourself in Flushing.

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

16 September 2016


Arts & Entertainment

A walking gallery: street art in the city by Kristiana Deur and Francesca Filiberti





Pictured above are murals from the around Astoria and Bowery in Manhattan. Many take the form of activism, depicting minority social organizations such as the Gulaabi gang (center picture) and the boycotting of Driscolls for the use of child labor (far right).

ARTISTS ALL over New York City, whether published or unpublished, make their work known. These countless examples of street art in our city transform isolated homes into a united community. Scattered throughout Astoria, Queens are over 130 examples of classic New York wall art. The Welling Court Mural Project, hosted every year, allows artists to come together and paint different surfaces all over the area. Junior Irene Anastasi says she spends a lot of her time in Astoria because of the many activities to do in the area and the countless pieces of artwork to see. The art featured in this public exhibit ranges in its underlying message, but still manages to convey something insightful despite lacking words. One of Irene’s favorite murals is a collage of different elements from Greek culture since she is Greek herself. The works of art include the many diverse religions and cultures found throughout Astoria and New York City as

a whole. A more well-known and polished set of unpublished works of artists in the city is on the High Line in Manhattan. This oldrailroad-station-turned-aboveground-park features murals on the sides of buildings both full of color or monochromatic. Some of the High Line’s most famous murals include the “Kiss Mural” and, a favorite of many, the “Love is the Answer” mural. Senior Alyssa Chao explains why the “Love is the Answer” mural is her favorite, saying, “I think [the message is] absolutely true and we often forget that sometimes. Also, I like the irony and contrast between Einstein, a scientist, and the rather non-scientific ‘answer’ he holds up.” Although these murals have recently been p a i nt ed over, there a r e still

more to see,

as well as sculptures along the walk. Many students feel that the High Line is a great stop to visit, including senior Amanda Lin, who explains, “It’s a great location for taking photos not just because of the murals, but because of the amazing views and architecture of the actual High Line itself.” An ever-evolving and funkier choice of street art is the graffiti hall of fame on Park Avenue. This features art from anyone that has a can of spray paint. The area surrounding the outdoor artwork is full of recreational activities which add to the neighborhood vibe the art gives off. Some Townsend Harris High School students have their own personal favorite spots of hidden art. Junior Leah Harrigan says, “Most of the street art that I see isn’t in one specific place but all around the Soho/Little Italy area in the city,” including the angel wings wall located in Soho and the Audrey Hepburn mural located in Little Italy. Sophomore Matthew Neil finds much of his photographic

inspiration in Soho, Manhattan. The art that’s found in all of these areas is not tarnished by an outside voice or restriction; it is whatever that person is feeling at that moment which really speaks through. This is what makes street art so special and meaningful.

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