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MARCH 30, 2012

Pinched at the pump

Recent gas price hikes affect students and FCPS Annandale average

Arlington average

Fairfax average

Manassas average




$4.00 data from AAA Mid-Atlantic

TJ Talks

Va. average


by Mallika Patkar News Editor Senior Michael Serron used to drive to school every day for soccer practice. However, recent hikes in gasoline prices forced him to start carpooling. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), this

month’s national gasoline price figures were the highest ever recorded for this time of year. “I don’t drive to school as much anymore,” Serron said. “It was annoying filling gas once a week and having to empty my wallet every time.” According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Virginia now averages $3.89 per gallon statewide and is likely to surpass $4 by the end of the month in many locales. This is about a 20 cent increase from last year. According to EIA, gasoline prices on the West Coast are fast approaching the $5 mark, with the price of gasoline as high as $5.99 in Los Angeles. The recent spike in prices comes as the result of international pressures, such as confrontations with Iran over their nuclear program and Iran’s threats to block the shipping of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. continued on p. 2

What do you do to cope with rising gas prices? “I switched from premium gas to regular gas. It has saved me a lot of money.” —junior Stephen Nam “I don’t drive so that I can save money on gas and insurance. That’s the way to go in this economy.” —senior Karin Lehnigk “I use all of the money I earn from my summer job to pay for my gas money for the year.” —junior Andrew Draganov “I have a job, and the only thing it pays for is gas. I have to fill gas every two weeks.” —senior Emilie Anderson graphics and reporting by Mallika Patkar


Virginia legislators talk education

by Colleen Marshall Managing Editor The Virginia General Assembly adjourned from their 2012 Regular Session on March 10. Over the past several weeks, I was able to talk with four of the Northern Virginia legislators who voted on the 2,800 bills that were intoduced. In particular, I focused my questions on bills that addressed education. One such bill was the reform of teacher continuing contracts, or tenure, which was part of Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s education policy initiative for 2012. “The governor’s staff testified that they needed this bill because there are bad teachers in the state who can’t be fired easily under


Make the most of spring break

the current system,” Delegate Mark Keam (D) that every teacher would have to be formally from the 35th District said. “While I evaluated every three years. This agree that we should remove bad is already happening in Northern teachers, I asked the administraVirginia but is not standardized tion, is this bill really the only soluthroughout the rest of the state.” tion?” Supporters of the bill said it Keam, who worked on the would improve the education sysHouse Teacher and Administem while its opponents asserted trative Action Sub-committee it would discourage people from chaired by Delegate Jim LeMunteaching in Virginia because of the yon (R), closely reviewed the bill, inherent lack of job security. which gave more power to public Colleen Marshall “The governor’s bill, as origischool administrators to remove nally drafted, was like using a poorly-performing teachers. sledgehammer on a problem that needs a “From my standpoint, Northern Virgin- scalpel. It would put all teachers, good and ia is already doing this right,” LeMunyon bad, at risk of being fired.” Keam said. from District 67 said. “The bill that failed said continued on p. 14


Students pursue uncommon sports


Fast food addiction

‘Secret Garden’ P11


Seniors vary college picks Sara Asad News Editor U.Va. Check. Ivy League schools. Check. Virginia Tech. Check. M.I.T. Check. Looking at many seniors’ potential college choice checklists, one thing stands out. They are virtually interchangeable. But now and then, there’s an outlier. There’s that small but significant number of future graduates who’ve chosen colleges for application and perhaps even admittance that don’t reflect the popular choices of previous years. With decisions rolling in almost every day now, the senior destinations link on the Intranet is beginning to look more varied. David Neuberger is one of these students, and he will be entering the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, a school sometimes more associated with its sports teams than its research facilities. “Spring break of my junior year I went down south to visit some schools in Florida and Georgia, and we thought it would be good to visit schools in Alabama, too,” Neuberger said. “I first heard about it from e-mails offering scholarships to national merit students and research opportunities. Then when I visited, I loved the campus so much.” Neuberger, who intends to major in microbiology, was especially impressed by the research opportunities available at Alabama. “Alabama has a plethora of research and internship opportunities,” Neuberger said. “At a lot of other colleges, you serve as a research assistant to graduate students, but at Alabama you can do your own projects, which is a great opportunity.” Students who sought less frequented colleges were interested in a specific school atmosphere or specialized fields of interest. “I decided to specialize in musical theater in September, which was a bit late,” senior Quynh-My Luu said. “I had been considering U.Va. academically, but then I decided that musical theater was all I wanted to do.” Luu’s list of colleges included wellknown schools like New York University and Carnegie Mellon but also Pace University and Indiana University, both of which are her top choices. The process of selecting and applying to schools was very different given Luu’s major. “My voice teacher helped me figure out which schools are my reach and safety schools,” Luu said. “It’s not the same as qualifying somewhere academically because for voice, you can’t quantify talent. That’s why we have auditions.” Senior Lucia Liu applied to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA) because she is interested in pursuing art. “Technically, it’s not really necessary to go to school for art, but it can still be massively helpful to go and learn more about the art world today,” Liu said. “You will have the resources to explore your interests and be with other people who want to do the same thing as you.” continued on p. 2


Helicopter parents in the mix



Kudos & Accomplishments

march 30, 2012

Head of NASA named speaker


Hu and Zhang receive Siemens Award vSeniors Kristina Hu and Yuqing

Zhang received the 2011 Siemens Award for Advanced Placement with a $2,000 scholarship for their achievements. The Siemens Award recognizes two students in every state, one male and one female, with the greatest number of scores of 5 on eight AP math and science exams.

Chemistry teacher Taylor wins NIH Lab Challenge Award vChemistry teacher Robin Taylor was

named an NIH K-12 LAB Challenge Award Winner for her saponification lab (the process of making soap). The NIH K-12 LAB Challenge asked science educators to submit their best experiments to become part of an official lab collection that NIH will distribute to teachers across the country for free.

Hastings awarded Harry Byrd Award vSenior Helen Hastings received the

Harry Byrd Leadership Award which recognizes young men and women who excel academically and demonstrate qualities of leadership. Hastings was among 11 seniors selected from Virginia and received a $10,000 prize for her achievements.

Howerton wins poetry competition vSenior Ellen Howerton, the Poetry

Out Loud school champion, placed first at the state competition on March 15. Howerton will now proceed to the national competition in Washington D.C., in May. Poetry Out Loud is an annually-held national competition that promotes poetry learning through recitation performances at the high school level.

Students garner honors in C-SPAN Documentary contest vFour groups of seniors received honorable mentions in the C-SPAN Studentcam Documentary Contest, an annual national video documentary competition sponsored by C-SPAN. Seniors Sam Girvin and Nathan Hughes were recognized for their documentary “Intellectual Property and the America Invents Act,” Ben Boinay and Kate Sanders for their documentary “The Fourth Amendment: In School and in the Real World,” Yasmine McBride and Reece Anderson for their documentary “Unveiling Surveillance” and Catherine Ayres and Claire Egan for their documentary “When the First Isn’t First.”

Students advance to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair vSeniors Cynthia Li, Yohan Sumathipala and Daniel Jang were named Grand Prize Winners at the Fairfax County Regional Science Fair held at Robinson Secondary High School on March 17 - 18. Li, Sumathipala and Jang’s team will proceed directly to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held at Pittsburg from May 13-18.

Students receive national writing awards vSeniors Kristina Hu and Jordan My-

ers and sophomores YouNa An and Emma Hastings received national writing award recognition through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program. Hastings and Myers were awarded gold medals for their writing while An and Hu received silver medals. These students are among 13 winners from the greater D.C. metropolitan area who have been selected for the award. The students will celebrate at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 1.

tjTODAY Online

To see more news, visit our website at publications/tjTODAY

photo courtesy of Jennifer Seavey

TjTODAY editors (from left to right) senior Anna Hicks, sophomore Shayna Hume, seniors Noah Yoo and Rabia Idrees, juniors Thrisha Potluri, Tahmina Achekzai and Amy Ahn, senior Josh Baquedano and junior Michael Chao were presented with a Silver Crown Award. From March 14 - 16 high school journalists from over 100 schools gathered in New York City for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s (CSPA) 88th Annual Spring Convention in New York City.

Gas prices hit students and county transportation hard continued from p.1 “Gasoline price is determined by the world market. Sometimes in this country, we are oblivious to the rise in demand on the rest of the planet,” Geosystems teacher James Jarvis said. The price of gasoline is determined by several other factors, including the cost of petroleum, refining, distribution, marketing, retail and taxes according to EIA. The price of gasoline depends on the cost of petroleum from which it is made. The demand for petroleum has drastically increased in China and India in recent years, so the worldwide demand for petroleum has increased. “Gasoline and petroleum are not the same thing. Lots of people don’t understand that. The increase in demand in addition to the recent tensions in the Persian Gulf have brought the price of petroleum up worldwide,” Jarvis said. However, the U.S. imports the majority of its petroleum from Middle Eastern countries because the cost of refining is low. Although the U.S. is a net exporter of gasoline, the dependence on petroleum from the Middle East drives up the price of gasoline. To deal with the fluctuations in price, the FCPS fuel budget is set yearly and covers all fuel price fluctuations for the year. The current budget is $12,240,000 for gasoline. For every penny that gasoline prices increase, FCPS Central Transportation has to spend an extra $33,029 to compensate for the increase. “The fuel contract is re-priced every two weeks due to the market’s volatility,” Brian Waymire, who is in charge of FCPS Central Transportation vehicle maintenance, said. “We don’t add vehicles to our fleet easily because it’s difficult to maintain our budget in this tough economy.” To compensate for rising gasoline prices, FCPS cut the number of buses in their fleet. Two hundred fifty buses were cut in the past three years. “Transportation has become more efficient with our runs so that we spend less on fuel, drivers and maintenance,” Waymire said. Regionally, local transportation authorities do not observe a major change in commuter behavior. “At this point, it is too early to know if

more people are switching to Metro because of the increasing prices at the pump,” said Philip Stewart, Public Information Officer for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. “People tend to cut back on other expenses to adjust for high gasoline prices before they change their commutes.” Students often find that gasoline prices determine their method of transportation to and from school. “My mom doesn’t pay for my gasoline, so I have to limit how much I drive,” junior An Ton said. “I only drive when absolutely necessary, so I generally don’t drive to school.” Some parents pay for students’ gas because of the high price. “I don’t have to worry about gasoline because my parents pay for it. It would be i n c o n ve n i e n t for my family if I didn’t drive to school, so my parents cover the cost of gas for me,” junior Jake Shankman said. “I wish I had a car, but since I drive my dad’s car I don’t have to pay for gas, which is good for my wallet,” junior Iman Abdikarim said. “I will get a car this summer, and since gas prices are constantly going to go up, I’m afraid of how expensive it will get.” Students are not alone. Faculty and staff have to adjust to the rising costs of gasoline as well. Physics teacher Duncan Forbes commutes to Jefferson from Reston everyday. “Higher prices make commuting much more expensive. I would like to carpool, but it is difficult to get teachers together to do that,” Forbes said. To deal with gas prices, many students and teachers find carpooling helps lessen the impact of gas prices on the individual. Junior Willie Nuckols splits the price of gas with the students he carpools with. Although gas prices are increasing, many find ways to cut the cost. “People usually contribute for gas based on how far I drive them and how often. Most of the destinations I drive to are about 20 miles away from each other, so we split the cost of a gallon each way,” Nuckols said. “I have been sharing costs with the crew team since I was driven by upperclassmen, and we continue it now. The price of gas is too high to take the burden alone.”

Gasoline price is determined by the world market. Sometimes in this country, we are oblivious to the rise in demand in the rest of the planet. -Geosystems teacher Jim Jarvis

by Jenny Chen News Editor NASA Administrator and retired Marine Corps Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr., who was nominated by President Barack Obama for his position at the head of NASA, will be the Class of 2012 graduation ceremony keynote speaker. “We invited Mr. Bolden to be our speaker because, as administrator of NASA, he represents the type of field our school would be very proud to have its graduates enter,” Class of 2012 sponsor Michael Auerbach said. “He is a charismatic speaker who was highly recommended, and we are very excited that he accepted our invitation.” Before the start of his term as the first African American administrator in July 2009, Bolden served as a NASA astronaut. One of his four Space Shuttle flights between 1986 and 1994 included the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope. Bolden was not the only speaker considered for the role, however. “We had thrown around a ton of names, like the Mythbusters for their work in science and its fusion with entertainment, and Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, for his work in education,” graduation chair senior Daniel Shanker said. The Class Council also considered Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis before narrowing its final choice down to Bolden because of his commitment to service. “We were looking for a speaker that would inspire our class,” graduation chair senior Caroline Woods said, “someone who we knew was good at public speaking.”

Seniors choose

different schools continued from p.1 Liu also recognizes the practical matters regarding her major choice and is considering that in her selection of school. “As most people would expect, it’s not particularly easy making a living as an artist,” Liu said. “For that reason, I’m considering picking up another major in a more lucrative field, like business, or maybe a minor in art management or art education if the school I choose offers it.” One of the most common pieces of advice from students and advisers alike is finding the perfect fit within a doable budget. “Students should consider schools that have their major but also opportunities to receive scholarships and money,” counselor Andrea Smith said. The Lodal College and Career Center (CCC) has been showcasing lesser known institutions as “college jewels” for the past 10 years. Many of these featured colleges are well known around the country but rarely considered by Jefferson students. “These ‘college jewels’ are really to inform students of schools outside of the box, from different geographic locations and with merit scholarship opportunities,” College and Career Resource Center Specialist Laurie Kobick said. Whether it is a particular program, financial support or both, students have access to a variety of institutions which can provide the right combination for them. “There are schools other than the Ivy’s that will give students not only a great college experience,” Neuberger said, “but also opportunities to do research or work in their own professional fields.”

February Issue Corrections: • •

In the article “Determined to win,” Natalie Cheng’s name was misspelled. In the photo essay “Ten days to make a difference,” Esther Li’s name was misspelled and sophomore Andrea Li and junior Robert Dioso were misidentified.


march 30, 2012

NEWSMAKERS Jefferson hosts TechMUN

Chiben visitors taste culture

photo courtesy of Kevin Cao

The News Sophomore Varun Jain chairs the United Nations Environmental Programme committee of TechMUN 2012, which took place from March 16 - 17. Backstory The Model United Nations club hosted the annual TechMUN conference for over 800 local middle and high school student delegates. Jefferson students did not compete. TechMUN provides an opportunity for student delegates to engage in debate and discussion during three different committee sessions. These committees, all chaired by Jefferson students, covered world affairs ranging from nuclear energy to the economic ties between Asia-Pacific countries. Jefferson student chairs commended outstanding delegates with gavels and Best Delegate awards. Behind the scenes planning the conference were sponsor Alexandra Pou, Secretary-General senior Collin Jones, Undersecretary-General senior Varun Kumar and Chief of Staff junior Rachel MerrimanGoldring, among a multitude of other staff members and committee chairs. “I would have to say that the hardest part of planning was trying to anticipate problems before they happened,” Jones said. “Of course, you can’t predict it all, which led to some excitement for us three throughout the weekend.” Merriman-Goldring notes some “small glitches” that were encountered over the two days of the conference, including schools that failed to show up. Nonetheless, TechMUN proved to be a positive experience for both delegates and volunteers. “We worked really hard to make sure everything went smoothly,” Merriman-Goldring said. “It was a relief that it went well, and all the TJ volunteers kept things running.” - Jenny Chen

Pi Miler raises funds

photo courtesy of Apt3 Photography

photo by YouNa An

The News Chiben Gakuen High School students Banri Iwahashi and Yosuke Hayashi chat during lunch in the Japanese classroom. Backstory On March 3, 14 students and one chaperone teacher from the Chiben Gakuen High School in Japan arrived for an exchange program with Jefferson. “The exchange program is a great activity for the Japanese students who are here to practice English,” sophomore Emily Zhou said. “We love trying out our Japanese on them. I’m using Japanese more in this month than in the entire year.” Over the course of a month, Chiben students experienced American culture by touring the Pentagon and the Library of Congress; visiting Fairfax Hospital to view open heart surgery; and sitting in on classes. Chiben student Asami Tsuji expressed surprise at seeing students eating lunch in the hallways. This is one of the differences between Jefferson and Japanese schools that Chiben students noticed. “Classes in TJ are very free, but Japanese classes are restricted,” Iwahashi said. “In Japan, students stand up to answer questions in class.” Chiben’s chaperone and English teacher Kazuhide Kitamura considers the visit especially important because he only teaches grammar to the students. “TJ has a Japanese class, and Americans are learning to speak Japanese. So vice versa, I hope my students will speak in English with TJ students and make friends with each other forever,” Kitamura said. This is the 19th year of the exchange program. To commemorate the 20th anniversary, Japanese teacher Koji Otani will fly to Japan next year while the president of Chiben will come here. - YouNa An

SAT Prep Exclusively for High-Achievers It’s no surprise that Honors Test Prep is the SAT prep program of choice for TJ students.

Visit to review our complete ’11-’12 course schedule and learn about our SAT Course, SAT Essay Workshop, and PSAT/SAT Course.


“My son and daughter both took the Honors Test Prep course and both scored 2380 on the test. They reported that they were given individual feedback and error analysis in addition to applicable practice problems. It is obvious that Mr. Berk keeps up to date with the most recent changes in the test and is invested in the students’ achievement. I was glad to find a course tailored to high achieving students.” Gail Gardiner, parent of TJ student, Class of 2010


The News Juniors Joe Nissen, Bill Swift and Andrew Draganov run in the Pi Miler, a 3.14 mile long race hosted by the Classes of 2013 and 2015 on March 24 for a second year. Backstory The Pi Miler, which started at 9 a.m. on Minor Lane, ended successfully with 174 students, staff, family members and visitors crossing the finish line on the school track after traveling along Braddock Road and other neighboring streets. The race was held as a fundraiser for the junior and freshman classes. It was sponsored by 29 groups and businesses, managed by DC Road Runners and supported throughout the planning process by parent liaisons. “The Pi Miler was great,” 2013 Class Council vice president Kevin Jeong said. “The sun wasn’t out, but the weather cooperated, so it was awesome running weather.” The number of participants this year was a decrease from the inaugural race’s 224 participants. This change can be attributed to conflicting activities occurring on the same day, from a crew regatta and track meet to TJ Choir’s production of “The Secret Garden.” Despite the decrease, the Pi Miler still saw runners representing all age groups and multiple states, including Colorado. “I loved that there were so many people from outside the Jefferson community and that alumni came back to support us. It just shows how much TJ cares,” 2015 Class Council secretary Jenny Kim said. Plans are in the works for a third Pi Miler. “Next year, 2015 will probably co-host with the next freshman class of 2016,” Kim said. “We hope this interclass event will continue at TJ as a tradition.” - Jenny Chen


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tjTODAY Volume 27 Issue 7

2011 Pacemaker - NSPA 2011 Trophy Class - VHSL 2011 All-American - NSPA 2012 Silver Crown - CSPA

Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief Rabia Idrees

Managing Editor Colleen Marshall

Layout Editor Anna Hicks

News Editors

Sara Asad Jenny Chen Mallika Patkar

Opinion Editors Joshua Baquedano Noah Yoo

Sports Editors Michael Chao Jennifer Walter

Spread Editors Amy Ahn Claudia Lovegrove

Entertainment Editors Lakshmi Chandran Shayna Hume

Features Editors Tahmina Achekzai YouNa An Arya Dahal Sunny Kim Thrisha Potluri

Staff Reporters Steven Androphy Pritha Bhattacharyya Sam Cadd Kajsa Carlsson Lily Chaw Sandy Cho Conrad Gehrki Ellen Kan Anna Weidman Lindsay Williams

Web Master Thrisha Potluri

Adviser Jennifer Seavey, MJE

Printer Silver Communications TjTODAY is the official newspaper of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology published monthly by the journalism staff. It serves as a vehicle for student expression and is an open forum of issues of interest and concern to the school community. A full-year subscription can be purchased through the Thomas Jefferson Publications Package or by sending a check or money order for $20 to tjTODAY. The staff is deeply committed to a code of journalistic ethics that demands the exercise of accuracy, good judgment and impartiality. Unsigned editorials reflect the majority opinion of the staff of tjTODAY, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors. TjTODAY solicits advertising but reserves the right to reject any material deemed libelous, disruptive, obscene or otherwise inappropriate. 6560 Braddock Road Alexandria, VA 22312 Phone: (703)-750-8375 Fax: (703)-750-5010 Online paper: life/publications/tjtoday

march 30, 2012

Building a president isn’t easy Lead Editorial

tjTODAY ’s unsigned majority opinion Presidential elections are seven months away, and many in the senior class will be able to vote this time around. Based on a limited survey of students of voting age by the time of the elections, it seems that many are dissatisfied with what appear to be the inevitable presidential candidates. Recent kerfuffles like the “Etch a Sketch” incident have left many of us thinking about whether or not the current candidates are the ones we would want to choose between. Because it seems that there is no perfect presidential candidate for the upcoming elections, the staff of tjTODAY has decided to combine the characteristics we like best from each of the presumptive candidate options to create the perfect presidential victor in November. Candidate 1 – Barack Obama: When asked to describe Obama in one word, students responded with words like “awesome,” “eloquent,” “smart,” “misleading” and “useless.” Based on these responses, our ideal presidential contender would take from Obama his oratory skills, which have inspired audiences time and time again. They should also take from Obama his excellent educational background that includes degrees from Columbia University and Harvard Law School. The ideal president would be respectable internationally and be able to inspire young people the way Obama did in 2008. Unlike Obama, however, our candidate would not have signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and would also have been more successful in gaining bipartisan support. He or she would also have brought greater change and fulfilled more campaign promises. Candidate 2 – Mitt Romney: Students described Romney as “rich,” “handsome,” “one-percent” and “inconsistent.” The ideal president would have the experience in business that Romney has. They would be moderate and have Romney’s “good looks.” The ideal presidential contender wouldn’t change views on important issues including foreign policy and abortion the way Romney has over the last few months. Unlike Romney, they would be able to relate to the American middle class. Candidate 3 – Rick Santorum: “Extreme,” “insane,” “religious” and “ignorant” were common responses from students after hear-

ing Santorum’s name. The perfect contender would successfully separate church and state the way our forefathers wanted. They would be unscripted and candid, but not make as many blunders and not offend nearly as many people as Santorum has. Candidate 4 – Ron Paul: Students consider Ron Paul to be “cute,” “old,” “radical” and “genuine.” Based on the feedback we received, our ideal president will possess Paul’s sincerity. They won’t sway simply to appease the public. They should also value states rights and the importance of limiting the size of the federal government. Paul, however, is not as moderate as we would like our ideal president to be. Candidate 5 – Newt Gingrich: Gingrich yielded the most diverse stream of responses from students and possibly the most laughs. He was described as everything ranging from “experienced” to “chubby” including “unfaithful,” “lunatic” and “disgusting.” Our ideal president would be as astute as Gingrich, but not as untrustworthy. The ideal POTUS would not vow to put a colony on the moon by 2020 and also would have less questionable adherence to family values while pontificating on their importance. So does the ideal future president exist? It doesn’t seem so as of now. You never know, though. Let’s hope our currently candidates can clean up their acts before the upcoming elections.

Arya Dahal

Church and State collide, or not? VIEW FROM THE LEFT


Last month, the Obama administration was placed under fire for its decision under the Affordable Care Act to force Catholic organizations, including charities and universities (churches were exempt from the initial bill), to provide contraception as part of its health care package for employees. The White House was attacked from the right, with conservative JOSHUA BAQUEDANO pundits claiming that this stipulation violated these organizations’ First Amendment right to religious freedom. Many on the right would also have you believe that this all a part of Obama’s war on religion in this country. It’s just another instance of the president trampling on people’s right to worship. But that is not the issue here. No one’s right to worship is being infringed upon. The law is designed to make contraception easier to obtain, as part of a total health care package. These institutions that employ non-Catholics, who as citizens of this country, are entitled to this care. After the initial controversy, Obama’s administration agreed to a compromise that clarified the administration’s stance on the issue. Organizations whose religious edicts oppose the use of contraception were no longer required to provide this care to their employees, but their health care providers must still reach out to the employees to give them this care, free of any charge. Those opposing Obama’s bill have argued that the state is infringing upon the rights of religious groups by forcing them to provide these contraceptive services. But in hiring nonCatholic workers, these employers still have a responsibility to see that all employees receive the full benefits prescribed to them by the health care act. The compromise is more than fair to the organizations that oppose the contraception provision. No one is arguing that these organizations shouldn’t have religious freedom. But it can’t be forgotten that individual citizens, the employees in this case, do, too. By not receiving these contraceptive services as part of their health care, the rights of individual citizens are infringed upon.

The First Amendment to the Constitution begins with, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Very few Americans would argue that the Constitution wasn’t a work of brilliance. It was able to set up the first modern government for the people and by the people and has been emulated COLLEEN MARSHALL by countries across the globe. Much of its success can be attributed to the limits on government power that are explicitly stated in the First Amendment. Unfortunately, President Obama has shown his lack of respect for the Constitution yet again by mandating that all employers cover sterilization, contraception and potentially abortion-causing drugs in the insurance policies that they are required to provide under the Affordable Care Act. With only a small exemption for churches, many employers, including Catholic universities and hospitals, were outraged at the ruling that came down through the Department of Health and Human Services. The implementation of this particular Obamacare requirement is unconstitutional as it violates the moral conscience of religious employers and infringes on their rights to exercise their religion. It also is ridiculous because these Catholic employers have not previously supplied coverage for these drugs and their employees were aware of that before they accepted employment with these institutions. They also are not saying that their employees cannot use contraceptives, or even have abortions; they just don’t want to pay for it. When the dust storm of millions of angry Catholics settled, the government’s “compromise” was that instead of the employers paying for these drugs directly, the insurance companies, who the employers are paying, would provide the coverage. This insertion of a middle man didn’t satisfy the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and it didn’t satisfy me. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the American population has the right to employer-paid-for contraception, or healthcare for that matter. It does, however, promise that American citizens won’t have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law, and therefore one can only hope that this mandate will soon be reversed.

More is better: a most desirable idea T h e r e once lived a cheerful young bloke named Stephen Lacker (who was also commonly known as S. LackFRANK HUANG e r ) w h o got into the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. After a riveting freshman year (two Nobel prizes!), Stephen finally reached the final step before things truly got serious: sophomore year. For some odd reason, many students have constantly complained about their workload, and at the number one high school in the country, nonetheless! Personally, it seemed a b surd to S. Lacker. He was a straight-A student, top of his school in 8th grade! He smirked at reports, chortled at quizzes, and laughed at projects! He strictly believed in the widely spread motto “More is better!” After all, more workload increases the student’s understanding of the concept, right? Surely, all students are being diligent with their studies? One day, Stephen was asked by a teacher for some input on the amount of work the students had, and how to address the increasing clamor for less work. Being quite the intelligent fellow, Stephen gathered every ounce of eloquence in his response, “Dearest instructor of our young unmolded minds, I personally do not see a flaw within our expansive academic system. However, I do realize that my fellow students feel burdened by the occasional sextuple project here or quadruple test there. Some dare to say that independent study benefits them more than schoolwork! While this truly scandalous remark definitely can-

not be true, I’d suggest assigning work at a rate more considerate of students’ plights, however miniscule they may be.” Impressed by the impassioned speech, the teacher came out of the discussion with a shine in his eyes and a wide smile. He had been greatly inspired to solve the growing discomfort!

Alm o s t immed i a t e l y, all the teachers in the school agreed to put all tests a n d quizzes in the week that followed breaks and long weekends. After all, all the students must be using their vacation time to keep up with their studies and progress upon their acaillustration by Arya Dahal demic ventures! “A vacation to the beach is a chance to learn marine biology! A vacation to Colorado is a chance to learn about the scientific measurement of atmospheres!” However, to the surprise of the teach-

ers, test scores were dramatically lower than ever before! Again, Stephen Lacker was consulted. Greatly concerned for the well-being of his fellow classmates, Stephen rubbed his eyes before responding, “Dearest instructor, I believe these scores are actually due to over-studying. Quite possibly, the students studied so far ahead that they made a mountain out of a molehill, using their sharp analytical abilities to disprove the fundamental laws of physics, science, and logic before deciding that all the answers were wrong! Thus, that explains why so many students are failing! The best remedy would be to enforce our current policy with renewed vigor!” Inspired once again, the teachers did just that. Almost at the snap of a finger, projects were assigned like light hits a mirror in broad daylight. Reports were due within days, presentation deadlines shortened. “More is better.” The more work, the more the brain will work. The more the brain will work, the better the grades will be! To the constant bewilderment of teachers and Stephen, the grades and scores only got lower and lower. Students were dropping from AP courses like flies! Finally, the general population of students scored a victory. The benchmark for an A went down, and now GPAs were going back up! Even Stephen was pleasantly surprised by his straight Cs! Their worries assuaged, the teachers continued their campaign. There are always some blasphemous teachers who adjust due dates, but the proven method of education is expressed in three words: “More is better.”

Frank Huang is a sophomore.

Juniors shouldn’t do college visits The college application process for the seniors has long been over, and it’s the juniors’ turn to get ready for the big jump from high school SUNNY KIM to college. In the numerous counselor meetings that the juniors have attended, we’ve all received packets full of information about applying to college. One thing that these packets never neglect to emphasize is the importance of visiting a college and getting a real feel of what life will be like there. This is a valid point. It would truly be ridiculous for students to choose the place they will spend the next four or more years of their lives without ever having been there. The importance doesn’t lie in whether or not the students should visit colleges, but when they should do so. With the spring break just around the corner, most juniors are busy packing their bags to play “Connect the Dots” with prestigious colleges and universities of every kind during their week off from school. But not me. I’ll be spending the week practicing SATs and studying for the last chance to boost my final grades. And for legitimate reasons, too. Junior year is a hectic stretch of a year, as any upperclassman can testify. Do you really want to spend a week traveling around

5 To Google, opinion

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the country with the AP exams and finals on the horizon? Just because the spring break falls right in between the third and fourth quarter, that doesn’t mean you can let yourself go for nine days. There are assignments to be accomplished, projects to be perfected, and tests to be trained for. Traveling is tiring. Whether you will be traveling by plane or car, you will be exhausted by the end of the day. Dare I say you will feel better than that on an Anchor Day full of tests and quizzes. That paper problem set you swore you would do on the first night of spring break? Gone. That five-page essay due on the first day back? Gone. By the time you get back from the trip, even pulling all-nighters with that tired body of yours wouldn’t be enough to finish the work you pushed back. But perhaps you don’t care about the time constraint and the fatigue that comes along with college visiting. You really can’t get the real feel of the college with that lousy virtual tour. Simply reading about a place can’t satisfy you. You have to be there – to smell the air, to touch the brick walls, to feel the life of the college campus resonate within you. Then what? So what if you like the college? So what if you believe it is the flawless soulmate? So what if you think no other college will fit you as perfectly? What then? Just because you like the college doesn’t mean the ad-

mission officers feel the same about you. It’s not as if how connected you are with the campus atmosphere will get you any higher on the ranking admission officers give you. It’s not like your positive feelings about the college improved your application form. It’s not like you have the right to decide whether or not you will attend the college. Yes, you are the one who chooses which colleges to apply to, and you are the one who decides on the one you will attend. But the colleges are the ones to make the decision that gives you the latter right. It is for this reason that college visits should be saved for the seniors with acceptance letters already in hand. With the colleges’ decisions out of the way and only their own decisions remaining, the seniors will be free to like or dislike any part of the college – without fear of never getting accepted to it. At the end, if the numbers and the letters written on your application weren’t good enough before, that surely won’t change after one visit to your favorite college. During the latter half of the junior year, when the majority of the students haven’t yet been guaranteed an acceptance to their first choice college, a week of rare break from school is better spent making yourself more likable for the colleges, rather than counting your chickens before they are hatched.

College visits should be saved for the seniors with acceptance letters already in hand.

with love

Google, for all its open source software and free technology, is primed to take over the world. And really, how deliciously sneaky! Chrome is making its way to the top of the DAPHNE FONG browser foodchain. And it’s huge. Last October, Google reported 200 million active users. Why use Internet Explorer – it’s incompatible with most of the Web, forces designers to create convoluted websites, and has major security issues. Chrome? Beautiful, in every way. Think about it. We don’t notice the slow, relentless creep of Google into our lives. The expansion from being the most innovative search engine to what it is now: a huge company offering so much more than just a search bar. It’s just that good. We’ve been seduced without realizing it. We should keep in mind that Google has only been around officially since 1998. Fourteen years, and already they’ve managed to infuse themselves into our daily routines. Comparatively, both Microsoft and Apple have been around for more than twice that time. We love Apple because they’re pretty. Who doesn’t want sexy tech? But we love Google because it’s useful and everywhere. Google Search, Chrome, Maps and Street View, Translate, Gmail, GTalk, DNS, and even YouTube. Yep. Your favorite place to get videos of cute kittens riding Roombas is owned by Google, too. And they play nice. Instead of just callously trampling over other service providers with their smug sense of self-importance, they trample with a smile and a, “We’re better and we do it for free!” Companies fold into their loving embrace because defeat by capitalism is inevitable. How can you compete with efficient and free? Google’s right there at the epitome of the benign. Sure, they store all your information and you have absolutely no idea what Google is doing with it, but hey – no need to panic, they’re friendly! Until you realize with a slight factor of creepiness that the Amazon product you were just looking at is magically appearing in all of your webpage ads. That Google Analytics, a tool that collects visitor information for participating websites, is storing data in the background without ever telling you. This leaves Google with a nice idea of where you’ve been on the Internet, and consequently, where you’re headed. Then there’s Google Apps. Many companies, individuals, and even government offices use GApps, meaning that there could be private company information stored on Google servers. Just the volume of important data that we save using GApps is staggering. What would happen if Google were to freeze our accounts, for any reason? For now, Google, you seem to be satisfied making close to $40 billion a year off of advertising and other sources that aren’t me. You’re the nice guys. You’re the people we consumers can rely on to put out secure, free services. You even treat your employees well. Heck, you have, “Don’t be evil,” as a core value. You haven’t (I hope) sold my personal information to anyone, but with that information you could find out so much about my online behaviors. You could change your search engine algorithm, controlling what information I can easily access via a Google search. Perhaps even take payment to float certain results up to the top. You could drive out your major competitors one by one and have overwhelming influence in more than just the web market, creating major dependency problems. So yes, I worship you, Google. And I adore my Android phone. But I’m sitting here waiting for the day when you turn into another evil monopoly bent on exploiting me. I’m waiting for when you begin to flagrantly exert your power in politics. And you can, so easily it’s scary. Daphne Fong is a senior.



march 30, 2012

GENDER GAP Sports differ for male and female players when comparing injuries, rules of the game and equipment used



WOMEN’S Softball

Elbow injuries are slightly more common in baseball than softball. This is attributed to the throwing technique, where softball players have less elbow movement that may minimize stress. Injuries from collisions with balls can be more severe for baseball players because the ball is thrown at a greater velocity than the larger and less dense softballs.

Pitchers close location to the batter in both sports makes them particularly vulnerable to line drives. Baseballs on average are thrown almost 50 percent faster than softballs. Softballs are also less dense than baseballs, making them slightly less dangerous to a pitcher, but the softball mound is located closer to the batter. As a result, pitching is dangerous in both sports. For protection, pitchers will sometimes wear mouth guards.



Unlike in girls lacrosse, boys are allowed to physically check opponents with their sticks, as long as the stick remains above the waist and below the shoulder of the opponent. While the purpose of checking is not to injure opponents, it has the potential to lead to injuries. Boys lacrosse players are encouraged to be more physically aggressive than their female counterparts. As a result, boys lacrosse requires helmets with face masks, chest protectors and elbow protectors. Gloves also have more padding for boys.

While boys lacrosse is a contact sport, girls lacrosse is a noncontact sport that depends more on strategy and ball control than physical checking. The main protective equipment required for girls lacrosse is goggles, but even these are a new addition to the sport. There is some opposition to the goggles, as they might reduce peripheral vision, leading to collisions. However, a study by Fairfax County has determined these concerns to be unfounded. The lack of equipment, specifically helmets, compared to boys lacrosse, occurs mainly because aggressive physical play is more discouraged for girls.

Concussions According to a study by The American Journal of Sports Medicine, “In similar boys and girls sports, namely baseball, softball, basketball and soccer, girls had roughly twice the concussion risk of boys.” The difference in concussion rates is theorized to be caused by weaker necks in girls and a greater willingness among female athletes to report injuries. Symptoms also differ by gender. Amnesia, confusion and disorientation were reported as more common symptoms in boys while drowsiness and sensitivity to noise were reported as more common in girls. Reported concussion rates have been increasing across both genders. However, the American Journal of Sports Medicine claims that “the increase over time in all sports may reflect actual increased occurrence or greater coding sensitivity with widely disseminated guidance on concussion detection and treatment.” With concussion rates shown in increasing prominence, protective measures and diagnostic methods are improving. “Eventually, in your life time, all sports will have helmets,”Head Athletic Trainer Heather Murphy said. Head gear is indeed becoming more common in sports, with soccer players increasingly wearing padded headbands, softball players wearing face masks and girls lacrosse recently incorporating goggles.

Knee injuries

Senior Robbie Clark

Junior Rachel Dyment

ATHLETES WEIGH IN “In baseball, the pitcher and fielders throw the ball harder and softball players tend to wear face masks.” —Junior Jack Brown, Baseball

“Girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse feel like different sports. ” —Junior Sean Watterton, Lacrosse

“Girls lacrosse is more about stick skills, and it’s more of an air game while guys lacrosse is more physical.” —Sophomore Tessa Muss, Lacrosse

“There really isn’t any difference between boys and girls soccer.” —Junior Cici Vollbrecht, Soccer

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament in the knee which can be injured from collisions, twisting, awkward landings, hyper extension and abrupt decelerations. The most common cause of injury is pivoting or recovering from a jump. Severe knee injuries are also caused by illegal play. Information about ACL injuries has gained prominence in the media because of the comparative damage caused and long recovery time for athletes. Data from the 2005 to 2007 National High School Sports Injury Surveillance Study showed that knee ligament injuries, like injuries of the ACL, were 13 times more likely to afflict women than men and were responsible for 75 percent of surgeries on women for soccer injuries. This discrepancy between injury rates is theorized to be caused by hormones, stretchier ligaments, hip position, stiffness in females landing after jumps and differences in posture between the genders. While these differences are recorded nationally, Jefferson hasn’t experiencedasignificantdifferencebetween girls and boys’ knee injuries. photos and reporting by Jennifer Walter


march 30, 2012

Ho ranks nationally in squash by Michael Chao ning most of them. That’s what got me Squash teams in this area are also a Sports Editor really interested.” little bit hard for Ho to find. Most of the The ball zips across the court and In his first national tournament, Ho teams are associated with college and ricochets off the far wall back towards placed third after losing two intense the only high schools that have squash the starting end. Nationallyteams are prep schools. Beranked junior Zach Ho furrows cause of this situation, Ho his brows in concentration as travels from state to state in he winds his racket back for search of squash tournaments another blistering volley. to participate in. This sport, a hybrid between Such commitment is fairly tennis and racquetball, is more low for the benefits that being commonly known as squash. a nationally-ranked squash Beyond that, however, there player brings. Ho admits that is not much that people know colleges are also why he still about the sport because it is not plays squash. very popular in our area. “You tend to be recruited “I think not as many people more by top notch liberal in this area play squash bearts colleges and ivy-league cause of where we are,” Ho schools when you’re ranked said. “It’s really big up north in fairly high nationally in a prep schools and we don’t have sport like squash,” Ho said. that many around here.” Despite the lack of teams Ho’s interest in squash stems and the tight travel schedule from his family. His father was that squash requires of Ho, he a squash player in college and still maintains an upbeat athis brother has also been suctitude toward the sport. The photo courtesy of Zach Ho cessful in the sport. However, individualistic nature of the his interest in squash wasn’t Zach Ho ranks number 77 in his squash age group in the country. sport appeals to him, even constant, as Ho at times flirted though Ho wishes that somematches in the quarterfinal round of the times more people were interested in with quitting the sport. “I was never fully interested in Bronze National Championship at Yale the sport. squash until recently when my brother University two years ago. “More people would be interested As of this year, Ho is ranked 4th in the in squash if there was more exposure started playing it again,” Ho said. “Then I started playing in different state while 77th in the country amongst in this area,” Ho said. “It truly is a fun tournaments and realized I was win- fellow 17 year-old squash players. sport to play.”

Sharpshooter Hahn excels on the range by Jennifer Walter would have then joined Woodson’s rifle Sports Editor team. However upon coming to JefferSenior Stewart Hahn is an ACORN, son, a school without a rifle team, this or, in layman terms, he shoots rifles. idea was dashed. Hahn shoots rifles in his free time, “It didn’t outweigh going to Jeffertaking 41st place in the 13th Annual Pal- son, and I knew the Mavericks would myra Invitational Small bore Competi- still be there,” Hahn said. tion in January as part of the Arlington The Mavericks are a team in the PoOptimist ACORNS Junior Rifle Club. tomac High School Rifle League that The sport first appealed to Hahn recruits shooters from schools without when he entered the seventh grade. rifle teams, like Jefferson. Hahn shot “I was a Boy Scout, so I went to Boy for the Mavericks for over a year before Scout camp and did shooting. being recruited for the I always thought it would be ACORNS, a group of elite fun to try,” Hahn said. “It was shooters during his sophosomething I was interested in more year. that my parents, of course, “They’re a more elite encouraged.” group of shooters,” Hahn Due to his growing intersaid. “In addition to shootest, Hahn’s parents placed ing air rifle, they also shoot him into the Northern Virginsmall bore.” ia Sharpshooters, The process of actu“They take in lots of new ally shooting the rifle is inphoto by Jennifer Walter shooters and teach them tense, with Hahn lining up about rifle shooting,” Hahn said. a shot and then waiting in a hold for at With the league, Hahn learned how to least seven seconds before firing the gun. shoot sporter rifles despite having never “Sometimes your hold doesn’t solidihunted game. fy so you have to set the rifle down and “I know hunters whose dads took restart the process,” Hahn said. them out to hunt when they were kids,” The actual action of putting the rifle Hahn said. “My parents never really did down after taking aim is one of the hardthat.” est parts of the sport for Hahn, but he Had Hahn gone to his base school, he doesn’t let it get to him.

photo courtesy of Stewart Hahn

Stewart Hahn shoots at an indoor range.

“It’s a sport that’s all about focus,” Hahn said. “It’s 90, 95 percent mental.” As a rifle enthusiast, Hahn is affected by gun control laws. “I’m a proponent of lighter gun control,” Hahn said. “Obviously, I’m not of the opinion that anyone should be able to buy an automatic gun, but I don’t think hunting rifles should be heavily restricted.” With the end of the last rifle season of his high school career, Hahn dropped off of the ACORNS.


Upset mania rocks fanbase

Upset. Heartbreak. Drama. It has been a crazed month thus far in the world of basketball as the annual men’s March Madness NCAA basketball MICHAEL CHAO tournament reaches the last leg of its month-long marathon. With the surprising first-round losses by second-ranked Missouri and Duke, many fans across the nation had their hopes of having perfect brackets shattered on the first day of action. Both games were decided by five points or less and were still up for grabs until the final seconds, causing pain for die-hard fans across the nation. Injuries were also a major factor in deciding the remaining teams for the Final Four round. Star North Carolina player Kendall Marshall’s wrist injury required surgery and prevented him from playing in the pivotal Elite Eight game against powerhouse Kansas. Louisville makes a hard-earned appearance in the Final Four after cruising to an easy victory over Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen. However, they face a daunting task in their Final Four opponent, Kentucky, before they can make it to the finals. Kentucky’s success so far into the tournament comes with the play of superstar freshman Anthony Davis. While some may know him for his interesting eyebrows, opponents know him for his 6’ 10” frame and 7’ 4” wingspan, which easily swallows opposing ball handlers and has drawn him comparisons to NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Ohio State has also been dominant in the tournament, as showcased by their seven point victory over number one ranked Syracuse in the Elite Eight. However, their Final Four game against Kansas will prove to be a difficult task as they try to limit the damage Thomas Robinson will do in the post. With all this firepower packed into three intense games, which school has it in them to capture the Final Four and ultimately the national crown? The teams have journeyed from Dayton, Ohio to New Orleans, Louisiana and prepped themselves for the ultimate finale. Kentucky is the heavy favorite, but with all that has happened this month, nothing is impossible. Amidst all the anxiety building up, one thing is certain: with the NBA season dwindling to an end, the last bits of March Madness will provide a source of entertainment for basketball-starved fans to gorge on. We’ve had enough of LeBron James’ gravity defying dunks and Kevin Durant’s silky smooth shots playing on ESPN. Now is the time to crown our national collegiate basketball champion.



march 30, 2012


march 30, 2012


Label fast food harmful to body and budget COST

THE FACTS: Going for that quick fix? Think about the addictive consequences of eating your favorite burger and fries by Amy Ahn Spread Editor As students look out their windows during their daily commute to school, they see the roads littered with fast food restaurants and their notorious signs luring in customers left and right. Just a 10-minute drive down Little River Turnpike from campus opens up a copious amount of fast food choices such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Popeyes, KFC, Taco Bell and the Jefferson favorite: Five Guys. Students here frequent Five Guys so often, the franchise’s management’s painted a mural of the Jefferson signature sculpture on their wall. The omnipresence of fast food has changed the way Americans consider its role in their lives. Over the last several decades, Americans have been consuming a greater proportion of their total calorie intake outside of home. “I eat fast food about once or twice a week. I usually eat it for convenience just because I’ll be out and about, and it’s easier than waiting for eating at home,” senior Ian Ladner said. Fast food may be a staple item in the American diet, but how many people are aware of the actual nutritional value it provides and how it affects their health and their wallets? A common misconception about fast food is that it’s cheaper. A Combination Number Six (two chalupas, a crunchy taco and a large drink) and a Combination Number Seven (a chicken quesadilla, a crunchy taco and a large drink) at Taco Bell costs over $12. A number six and a number seven feeds two people. Mark Bittman, an op-ed writer for the New York Times, stated, “You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people.” An even more harmful effect of fast food is on a person’s health. Most people are aware that fast food is not a healthy alternative, but are unaware of exactly how unhealthy it is. Junior Niraja Bohidar said, “I’ve never really paid attention to nutrition. As long as it isn’t completely drenched in butter and oil and it tastes good, I eat it.” An Angus Bacon & Cheese Burger from McDonald’s contains 790 calories, 350 calories from fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, two grams of trans-fat, 2070 milligrams of sodium, and 63 grams of carbohydrates. Saturated fats are responsible for the body’s overproduction of cholesterol. Trans-fats have been directly linked to an increased risk of heart disease and risk of depression. They cause an increase in LDL cholesterol, which collects in the walls of blood vessels, and a decrease in HDL cholesterol, which help remove the body of bad cholesterol. The 17 grams of saturated fat from the burger is about 87 percent of the suggested amount for a 2,000-calorie diet, and the trans-fat from the burger makes up about 49 percent of the daily-suggested amount.

Most people are aware of the fact that fast food lacks in nutritional value. However, the fact that fast food can have harmful effects on one’s brain is often overlooked. Many scientists have begun studies that investigate the changes in the brain caused by foods that have very high concentrations of fat and sugar. Because fast food usually offers portions that are much larger than the suggested amount, binge eating has become very common. To supersize an order costs little more than buying the regular size. Biologists believe that the binge eating that comes from eating fast food causes physiological changes that alter the hormones that would usually signal the brain to stop eating. People who gain weight begin to develop resistance to the power of leptin. Senior Sruthi Poduval from the Neuroscience Research Tech Lab said, “Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite, so there’s higher amounts of it when you’re full and the hypothalamus keeps track of the hormone levels in the body and regulates them through the pituitary gland.” A study conducted at Scripps Research Institute by Associate Professor Paul J. Kenny and graduate student Paul M. Johnson suggests that fast food is not only harmful in a physical way, but a mental one as well. Kenny and Johnson’s research suggests that the engineering that goes into producing hyper-processed foods makes it just as addicting as many drugs. When fast food is consumed, a neuroaddictive response is released, which makes the release of dopamine more difficult. “There’s the same kind of response your brain has to high calorie food and drugs since both activate the reward systems in your brain, making you feel happier,” Poduval said. “Your brain then develops a tolerance for both and needs more food or more of the drug to achieve the same level of happiness, leading to more consumption of the food or drug, and therefore to obesity or drug addiction. It’s pretty much the same process for both.” The study Kenny/Johnson study also showed that the lab rats that had been constantly exposed to junk food would even tolerate electric shocks to get the food. The other rats would not eat the junk food once they felt the shock. “Junk food might be slightly addictive to a few people to a small degree due to changes in blood sugar level, caffeine and lipids that might be in the food. But it would probably also take repeated exposure over time,” Biotechnology Lab Director Andrea Cobb said. Constant exposure to high calorie foods brings the habit closer to being an addition than being a choice. The fast food habit becomes an even bigger problem for children who are around fast food and junk food without knowing all of the repercussions that come from eating them. “I don’t think knowing about the addictive qualities about fast food would make them less inclined to eat it,” Poduval said. “I think that occasional fast food is fine, it’s just that when it’s everyday that it’s a problem.

“In terms of athletes and the general student population, they’re active and if they’re not refueling their bodies properly then they don’t have the energy to sustain their daily activities.”

“I keep nutrition in mind when eating, but I don’t always let it limit what foods I choose to eat.”

Junior Christina Shincovich

Health teacher Barry Potoker



- 1 Double Quarter Pounder Meal - 1 Medium fries - 1 Medium drink

DOUBLE QUARTER POUNDER NUTRITIONAL FACTS: Calories 740 Total Fat 42 g Cholesterol 155 mg Carbohydrates 40 g


$3.79 - 1 Popcorn Chicken Kid’s Meal - Small juice - String cheese - Small potato wedges

$5.69 “Nutrition doesn’t factor into my choices. Eating fast food pretty much throws it out the window.”


tjTODAY staff compared price and nutritional value at three local fast food outlets.

Taco Bell:

How much does nutrition factor into your food choices?


- Combo #6 - 2 Chalupas - Crunchy taco - 1 Large drink

POPCORN CHICKEN KID’S MEAL NUTRITIONAL FACTS: Calories 260 Total Fat 17 g Cholesterol 30 mg Carbohydrates 12 g

CHALUPA SUPREME NUTRITIONAL FACTS: Calories 700 Total Fat 36 g Cholesterol 70 mg Carbohydrates 58 g

Sophomore Zoe Wang photos, graphics and reporting by Tahmina Achekzai, Amy Ahn, Arya Dahal, Claudia Lovegrove, Thrisha Potluri and Noah Yoo



march 30, 2012

Card’s latest effort fails for aficionados

From left to right: Turntable users seniors Gabe Boning, sophomore Tom Stone, senior Daniel Shanker, sophomore Rebecca Duke and junior Michelle Wang.

photo courtesy of Tor/Forges Blog

by Noah Yoo Opinion Editor Orson Scott Card’s quintessential science fiction novel “Ender’s Game” has captivated the minds of readers across the world. Ender was introduced in 1985, but Card is still hard at work expanding the universe and giving us more insight into the worlds he created. “Shadows in Flight” is the latest installment in the Shadow branch of the series, following Ender’s right-hand man Julian Delphiki, aka Bean. Bean suffers from the genetic disorder known as Anton’s Key, giving him extraordinary intelligence but also a startling case of giantism, one that will lead to an inexorably premature death in his mid-20s. He embarks on an intergalactic journey at lightspeed, slowing down time so that he might find a cure for himself and his three children – Ender (named for the original boy genius), Carlotta and Cincinnatus, all of whom also suffer from the disorder. “Shadows in Flight” is a bit different from most of the other novels in the Ender saga in that it takes place entirely on the Herodotus, the ship carrying Bean and his progeny through space. Card’s practice of illustrating every thought behind Bean’s brilliance, which he applied throughout the Shadow series, is now being used for Bean’s children. Problem is, I didn’t find myself caring about Ender (who also isn’t nearly as gripping a character as the one he’s named after), or about Cincinnatus’ grand military aspirations. Bean, as a character, also seems like a shell of his former self as he guides his children through their missions and makes references to the events that occurred in “Ender’s Game.” He’s still a genius, but he’s no longer a child showing off his brilliance, using it to get the better of the people above him – he knows his children’s every intention before they can even realize it. At the end of it all, the direction of the plot just feels rather disappointing. “Shadows in Flight,” like “Ender in Exile,” published in 2008, serves more as a bridge between stories rather than a story that can stand on its own merit. It stands on the shoulders of its phenomenal predecessors in order to appeal to fans of the series, and in that sense, it does a fairly good job. For such a short book, it also feels way too long. Card flexes his expository muscle, telling us more about the alien Formic race, but do we still care? In the end, it really is a book meant for the diehard fans of the Ender series. It’s sure to keep their hunger satisfied until the release of the final novel in the series, tentatively titled “Shadows Alive,” but as a stand-alone novel, “Shadows in Flight” doesn’t spin a very gripping tale.

Coming Attractions infographic by Lakshmi Chandran

by Shayna Hume Entertainment Editor Late Sunday evening, when most teenagers are doing last minute cramming for tests the next day, groups of users are logging onto Turntable is a social music website, that has been rapidly gaining in popularity over the last few years. It allows its users to interact with each other as they share their favorite tunes. “Turntable attracts the younger age group, and those with slightly more obscure music tastes,” senior Daniel Shanker said. When you log onto Turntable, the first thing that you see is a directory of “rooms” available to join. Some of the rooms are immediately identifiable by genre, such as ‘Dubstep,’ but most of the time the users get creative with their ideas, leading to such themes as ‘Indie While You Work,’ ‘Ambient Chillout & Trip Hop’ and ‘Trance out!’ Senior Gabe Boning, who found the site shortly before the start of the current school year, created the group of Jefferson students that now spend time together on the website. “I thought it would be lots of fun to do with friends at school, so I made my own room and invited a few friends. Eventually it grew into a Facebook group with over forty members,” Boning said.

sophomore Will Ashe said. However, what makes Turntable unique among all those websites is the social aspect that it highlights. As well as having a system much like other music websites, where you can give the equivalent of “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” for each song, there is a highspeed chat interface for user-to-user communication. “The only bad thing I can think of about Turntable is that someone can play a song you don’t like. But there’s always the option to down vote the song or just mute it,” sophomore Rebecca Duke said. The last and perhaps most popular feature of Turntable is that the songs being played aren’t generated by a computer algorithm. Rather, they are being chosen and streamed in real time by users acting as the “DJ” for the rest of the group. This comparing of musical tastes is what more than anything else creates Turntable’s appeal. “A good friend with similar tastes always has better recommendations than any algorithm, and it makes music listening more social than plugging in earbuds on the bus,” Shanker said.

graphics and photos by Lakshmi Chandran and Shayna Hume

Shakespeare Troupe performs at Folger by Christine Jacobs and Rishi Malhotra Special to tjTODAY “Come, we are friends. Let’s have a dance to lighten our hearts ere we are married.” The audience applauded, and thus ended TJ’s Shakespeare Troupe’s hilarious and heartwarming performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Secondary School Festival hosted by the Folger Shakespeare Library on March 20. Shakespeare Troupe is a student-run 8th period club dedicated to the study and performance of Shakespeare’s work. In addition to attending the Festival every year, Troupe also hosts various other events at Jefferson throughout the school year. Every year, the Folger Shakespeare Library in D.C. invites schools from all over Virginia, Maryland and D.C. to participate in the Secondary School Festival. Each school prepares a rendition of a Shakespeare play to perform on one of the days of the Festival. It provides students with the opportunity to view the work of other schools and get constructive feedback from professional actors and directors. “It was truly excellent to be able to see other schools perform,” sophomore Adam Friedman, one of the two student directors, said. “But I was most proud of TJ’s performance. Everyone performed the best they ever had.” Friedman and his co-director,

‘Game of Thrones’ April 1: HBO

That particular Jefferson group active on Turntable doesn’t have any traditions that are set in stone, but as a whole, typically remain online over the weekends, with peak hours on Sunday evenings. “It’s kind of like a combination of Twitter and Spotify,” sophomore Tom Stone said. Because of its quirky graphics and infinite variety, Turntable is proving a more than viable alternative for popular music websites and applications such as Pandora, iTunes and Spotify. After all, it’s both free and without advertisements, an accomplishment which almost none of the other medias can boast. “I started using Turntable because it sounded like a cool idea. Instead of having to send a YouTube link, which I would have to remember to watch, my friends can just play the song during a Turntable r o u n d instead,”

‘The Cabin in the Woods’

April 17: Theaters everywhere

sophomore Siboney Shewit, had been working on the performance for months. Auditions for the show were held in January. “We were looking for characterization and preparedness,” Friedman said. “In callbacks, our focus was on the chemistry between characters. We wanted to see what each actor could bring to the part.” Rehearsals were conducted primarily during eighth period, occasionally spilling into lunch and after school. At the end of the Festival, awards were given to certain performers in each of the plays. Senior Kate Sanders, sophomores Alex Le Floch, Ben André and Liesl Jaeger, who played Beatrice, Benedick, Claudio and Hero, respectively, received the “Perfect Pairs” award. The “Convincing Villain” award was given to senior Graham Schmidt for his portrayal of Don John. Friedman and Shewit received the “All the World’s a Stage” award, recognizing their exceptional directing. Senior Rishi Malhotra, who played Don Pedro, received the “Distinction in Acting” award. Whether it is helping out another school or performing a rendition of their own, members of Shakespeare Troupe love to share their love and understanding of the Bard’s work. “The thing about Shakespeare is it’s timeless,” Friedman said. “As confusing as the language is, the themes are universal.”


April 18: Jammin’ Java

Sponsor and English teacher Marion MacLean (second from right) waits with members of the Shakespeare Troupe outside the Folger facility.

photos by Jacqueline Jacobs

The cast of Shakespeare Troupe’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing” bows after their performance on March 20.


April 24: Stores everywhere

‘The Raven’

April 27: Theatres everywhere


march 30, 2012

Album photo coutersy of

‘Port of Morrow’ by Noah Yoo Opinion Editor It’s been over 10 years since indie songwriter James Mercer released his first album with The Shins - and five years since his last outing with the band. Since then he’s kept busy, collaborating with acclaimed producer Danger Mouse under the moniker Broken Bells, releasing an album and an EP. When fans learned that Mercer was revamping The Shins’ entire lineup, they worried about the direction that the next release would go. While their worries were not completely for naught, the end result is an incredibly satisfying indiepop album that looks to be one of the best of the year. There are some moments where The Shins’ fourth studio album, “Port of Morrow,” tries to stay true to the indiepop rock form that Mercer spearheaded in 2007’s “Wincing the Night Away.” Of course, that isn’t to say that it’s a repeat of their past work. Indie-pop has changed since then, and Mercer has, too. The layers of minimalistic guitar and sparkly electronica blend perfectly on every track, making the album a continuously pleasant experience to the ears. What you realize as you listen to “Morrow” is that The Shins aren’t really a band in the traditional sense - they’re a group of musicians, brought together by Mercer to help him play his songs. His time in Broken Bells is readily apparent in songs like “The Rifle’s Spiral,” which opens “Port of Morrow” with a bright, driving soundscape, and “Bait and Switch” with an upbeat bassline and smooth melodies. Mercer’s changed since the early days of The Shins, and while some elements of his voice haven’t - the uncompromising, sincere melodies and sweet falsetto - his writing certainly has. ` My personal favorite is “It’s Only Life,” an honest story about trying to help friends fallen on dark times. It’s likeable music and certainly a great introduction to The Shins for those who haven’t heard them before. However, the signature Shins sound has changed with the times. Die-hard fans might not appreciate it, but at the end of the day, “Port of Morrow” is the most maturely written and produced Shins record to date.


photo by Lakshmi Chandran


photo courtesy of


‘Hunger Games’

by Lakshmi Chandran Entertainment Editor When one hears about a tea shop, it is easy for some stereotypical images to come to mind. Perhaps it is one of a frilly little place filled with old ladies, or perhaps a pompous establishment frequented by those intellectuals who are simply too good for coffee. But the boho-chic atmosphere that greets you as you walk into Teaism on R Street in Georgetown provides some strong contention to those ideas and paints a whole new picture. To the untrained customer, the assortment of teas can be imposing. Infact, it is very likely that seeing the names on the menu is the firsttime many people have even come in contact with a Guaranse (a type of black tea) or a Tie Guanyin (a type of Oolong tea). But as long as one is up for a surprise, it can be exciting. Tea is served by the pot, so the quantity of tea can become an issue if one chooses to go there alone. It is also possible to get teato-go, which is served in a Starbucksesque coffee cup. To compliment the assortment of teas, Teaism also has a wide selectionof food, with a range of Asian-inspired fullblown entrées, along withlighter options. It caters to any time of day, though the casual nature of Teaism lends itself more naturally to an afternoon snack. It is a small place, the size of a narrow townhouse, but the cramped feeling doesn’t seem to deter any customers. The clientele ranges from couples who stopped in during a stroll through Georgetown to entire families, complete with strollers and all. The seating space on the main floor is limited to a couple of barstools by the counter, but one only has to walk upstairs for better seating availability.With all three of its locations in Washington, D.C., parking can be difficult as well, but with easy Metro access, this issue is very avoidable. Overall, it is an interesting place, with an eye towards those who want to try something fun and a little different.

by Shayna Hume Entertainment Editor From the first words that flickered onto the big screen, it was obvious that the movie adaption of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling young adult novel “The Hunger Games” wouldn’t disappoint. In a style atypical of the fast-paced movies of the last couple years, the first half of the film served as an introduction to the world of Panem. During that time, what I found the most striking was how the actors and actresses, Jennifer Lawrence in particular, slipped into their roles with supernatural ease. Lawrence, cast as the film’s heroine Katniss Everdeen, doesn’t once appear to be an overage celebrity dolled up to be a teenager. The landscape of the Capitol was the second thing the producers appeared to have done perfectly. Its fashions are ludicrous, leaving us with a bitter aftertaste as we witness Katniss forcing herself to come to terms with her imminent demise. For one of the most anticipated moments in the movie, when Katniss appears as the girl on fire, it’s impossible not to feel a little bit of disappointment. Most of the shots of her chariot are from afar, and few allow us to experience the full impact of her flaming attire. Another satisfactory but less than perfect moment was Katniss’s time in the arena. Once in the games, we are confronted with rapid conflict and blurred cinematography, no doubt constructed to secure a PG-13 rating. All in all, the conclusion of the movie felt weak, with a noticeable lack of believable violence. Katniss herself seemed to emerge from the Hunger Games just as she had gone in, without any emotional trauma. The movie was far from a failure, but the stunted interactions during the games let many audience members forget that the threat of death was more than just a threat. With the first installment in the trilogy scoring big at the box office, it’s time to think about how “Catching Fire” will succeed where “Hunger Games” fell short.

Musical photo by Lakshmi Chandran

‘Secret Garden’ by Lakshmi Chandran Entertainment Editor Last year’s production of “Les Misérables” definitely set the bar high for Jefferson’s choir, but this year’s fully-staged performance of “The Secret Garden” still managed to clear it with ease. The audience was pulled into the world of Mary Lennox as she transforms from a petulant 11-yearold into a sweet and endearing pre-teen. Sophomore Hannah Pho, who played the orphaned Mary, did not fail to impress with her wide vocal range, as well as her acting. Throughout the musical, one could see her transformation progress as she grew more accustomed to her uncle Archibald Craven’s (played by senior Peter Reischer) home. My personal favorite song in the play, “I Heard Someone Crying” featured Pho and Reischer, as well as Quynh My Luu. The harmonization between the three powerful singers with each other as well with the ensemble produced a beautiful wall of music and emotion. A dark song, the staging and lighting was done wonderfully. The entire set was minimal, but in this case, less is definitely more. This drew more attention to the singing. The cast consisted of a total 75 people included an adorable junior choir. It consisted of 8-12 year old children who really brightened the overall atmosphere of the play. The TJ orchestra at 30 pieces strong served as accompaniment to the musical the entire way through and played with aplomb linking scene to scene. Overall, “The Secret Garden” really showcased some of the great talent found here at Jefferson. It brought new life to a classic, and in the process, showed us some of the best that the Fine ArtsDepartment has to offer. All one can do now is look longingly towards whatever the choir has in store for next year.

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march 30, 2012

Parents who hover can be socially damaging

Helicopter Parents



by YouNa An and Arya Dahal Features Editors he race is on. Getting into just the right highly selective college – or even any college – is more competitive than ever. Test scores, grades and extracurricular activities continue to take on greater importance. And for Jefferson students, whose primary concern is to score the most impressive list of admission letters, overinvolved parents, sometimes known as “helicopter parents,” are a common occurrence. “My mom keeps on buying reference books to make my siblings and me study more. We have six bookcases full of them,” sophomore Katherine Au said. “She also used to e-mail my teachers if I wasn’t getting an A.” With the publicity that Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” received last year and the mounting popularity of Pamela Druckerman’s “Bringing up Bebe,” published on March 8, the topic of overzealous parenting is on the minds of many. “When I’m not doing well in school, my parents look for extra sources online. My mom supervises me while I do the supplementary work,” sophomore Joseph Kannarkat said. “Depending on how concerned they are, my parents will ask me to find out my grade in the class.” The Oxford Dictionaries define the term “helicopter parent” as “a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.” The term originated in 1982 with the Millennial or Generation X. Doing their children’s work for them, removing obstacles from their children’s lives, frequently contacting their children’s teachers and dictating extracurricular activities are all characteristics of typical helicopter parents. “I’m certain there are helicopter parents at TJ now, as there are at many other schools,” school psychologist Greg Myers said. “The funny thing is that so many schools would love to have this problem — too many parents who are engaged, even excessively involved — and would trade that any day for parents who don’t or aren’t able to invest their time and effort in the educational success of their children.” For Jefferson students, helicopter parenting seems to be mainly associated with keeping up good grades. “The worst conference I’ve had was when parents were upset that


sketches by YouNa An

their child didn’t receive an A plus in my class, and I told them it was because Fairfax County doesn’t have A pluses,” psychology teacher Donald Majeske said. “I’ve also had parents look at notebooks and challenge the answers on tests.” With the pressure to take more AP and honors courses, students and parents alike are becoming extensively involved in academic decisions. “Part of the reason a lot of kids are here is because of their work habits that they develop from their hovering parents,” freshmen Mike Lidwin said. Along with the academics, hovering parents tend to dictate other aspects of their children’s lives. In some cases, college decisions, extracurricular activities as well as sports are heavily regulated and monitored by impassioned parents. “When I was in elementary school, my parents told me to do Kumon, a math and English tutoring program. It was probably beneficial, but I hated it then,” junior Pierce Eggan said. Life after high school can also be affected by hovering parents. A study conducted by the Washington Post investigated how the independence of young adults is hampered by intrusive parents. According to the Post, by the end of high school, such students have the academic maturity to succeed but lack the self-independence which is restricted by overzealous parents. “Our American societal expectations lean heavily on the power of the individual and, as such, it can be socially damaging to be viewed as someone who constantly needs the assistance of one’s parents,” Myers said. “After all, it is developmentally typical to become more and more autonomous through adolescence. But in extreme forms, helicopter parenting may impede such developmental tasks.” On the contrary, there are some students here that have less active parenting than they would have had in their country because of language and culture obstacles. “Because of the language and cultural barrier, it’s hard for parents to get really involved in school and academics in the U.S.,” junior Thomas Lee said. “For example, my mom doesn’t know what’s going on about me in school because she can’t understand e-mails she gets.” Believing their child’s future depends primarily on their academic success, many parents easily transition from concerned to hovering. The key to prevent that, notes the Washington Post, is to let go while still remaining an integral part of the child’s life. “Of course, the tricky part is that, ultimately, the goal has to be the independent application of skills by the student,” Myers said. “After all, how long would it really be healthy to have that parent hovering around?”

Kid in the hall: To what extent are helicopter parents justified?

“They seem to be what push children to work harder. Ultimately what decides your own success is yourself, but a push is a good thing most of the time.”

Ganley (10)

“They’re not very beneficial because their children might go to a good college and get a better education, but they might not get the social skills to succeed in life.”

Xu (11)

“I think they don’t trust their kids to do what they’re told to do. At the high school age, students should have more responsibility. They’re almost adults.”


Seung In




Le (9)

“I think as long as parents respect the boundary between what kids want to keep private and what they want to share with them, it’s OK for them to be involved.” infographic by YouNa An


march 30, 2012


Juniors or seniors? Aspiring students pursue fast track

Hu accumulates enough credits to graduate after three years

photo by Noah Yoo

Hope Flaxman, who is skipping senior year to attend MIT this fall, enjoys her time on Chemistry Team.

Flaxman skips senior year for the opportunity to attend MIT by Noah Yoo Opinion Editor For many Jefferson students, junior year is a long and arduous journey. Senior year is already on the mind, and college seems like it’s eons away. Junior Hope Flaxman, on the other hand, isn’t worried about college applications or even graduation. Next year, she plans on enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. “I made the decision to apply last year,” Flaxman said. “After being offered admission, I realized that this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.” As of the end of the year, Flaxman will not have completed e n o u g h credits for graduation, and so she won’t be receiving a Jefferson diploma before she departs for MIT as a member of the Class of 2016. Her application was considered alongside all the other applications from current seniors. “Nothing I have done during the time I have been at TJ was done specifically with the goal of getting into college early,” Flaxman said. “Each set of circumstances is unique. Given my circumstances, I felt ready to move on.” “I think that for Hope, this was the perfect choice,” counselor Sean Burke said. “From an academic standpoint, she could have easily attended college after her sophomore year. She’s the third student I’ve ever sent off to college early,

and I think that she’s ready for the experience.” Flaxman excelled in science and mathematics throughout middle school even before she got to Jefferson. She cites her excellent math instructors and being a part of the nationallycompeting Science Olympiad team at Longfellow Middle School as being the turning points in her love of math and science. “Hope is extremely talented,” computer science teacher Michael Stueben said. Stueben taught Flaxman in his Accelerated Computer Science class when she was a freshman. “She was very quick and selfmotivated. And she seems to be a very wellbalanced person as well.” Flaxman’s first high school math class was AP Calculus BC when she decided on taking the test to skip pre-calculus before starting her freshman year. She is enrolled in postmultivariable calculus classes this year, taking Complex Analysis her first semester and Advanced Math Techniques her second semester. While she doesn’t yet know what she’s going to study in college, Flaxman is going to make sure to pick a major that has many options available to her. “Right now I’m most interested in chemistry, physics and math, but I am keeping my mind open until I have a chance to explore my interests at MIT.”

After being offered admission, I realized that this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. –Junior Hope Flaxman

by Anna Hicks Layout Editor Senior Kristina Hu — yes, she is a senior — is set up to graduate with the Class of 2012 after just three years at Jefferson. Hu first drew attention when, as a freshman, she took on a course load including Multivariable Calculus and AP Physics C, two classes almost exclusively taken by upperclassmen. It was in the fall of her sophomore year when Hu realized, with the help of her counselor Tonya Lathom, that she wanted to graduate in three years. “At the rate at which I was challenging myself freshman and sophomore year, I would exhaust all levels of math TJ has to offer by the end of junior year,” Hu said. “Since mathematics is something I want to pursue as a potential major in college, I felt that a fourth year course load that is not sufficiently challenging would not prove beneficial in the long run.” With this in mind, Hu arranged her schedule in order to complete the credits required for the specialized Jefferson diploma by the end of her third year. Though Hu was ahead in math and science, her humanities courses required special expediting. This year, Hu is taking HUM II, the junior humanities course, and both singleton AP Language and Composition and AP Government, traditional senior humanities courses. Luckily, Hu is happy to be taking on the extra humanities workload. She was recently named a national medalist in the Scholastic Writing Awards competition. “My love for humanities has made my senior year’s course load extremely enjoyable,” Hu said. “However, my favorite subject would have to be math, hands down.” Hu fostered her love of math throughout middle school and continued to do so at Jefferson. Her first math teacher here, Jonathan Osborne, who taught her Multivariable Calculus first semester of her freshman year and now teaches her Differential Equations, had a particularly significant effect on her. “Before coming to Jefferson, her math classes consisted mainly of independent study, and she seemed to have been graded more on answers than explanations. She started asking more questions after the first test,” Osborne said. “Sometimes when you have a freshman in a class of mostly upperclassmen, they’ll be very quiet; others have the confidence to really speak up — step up to the plate. Kristina definitely falls into the latter category.” Hu’s unique circumstances put her in a situation where she is technically a senior but still identifies with the junior class as well. In the end, she found it was easy to be a part of both classes. For Friday’s Homecoming spirit day this year (blue day for juniors, toga day for seniors), she wore a blue toga. She has good friends in both

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classes. Outside of academic and social activities, Hu is also an active participant in several extracurriculars. “Balancing extracurricular activities has always been difficult,” Hu said. “However, I strongly believe in having a well-rounded set of interests.” This year, she is the captain of the Varsity Math Team, takes dance classes every week, and even regularly updates a YouTube channel where she sings and plays piano, doing covers of pop and dubstep music. Her most popular video — a piano cover of the Skrillex hit “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” uploaded under her username TheUnsungHeroine — has more than 200,000 views and better than 99 percent positive feedback from thousands of raters. “It’s fun to hear the way Kristina plays dubstep on the piano. It’s a really cool combination,” junior Jane Berkowitz, who subscribes to Hu’s YouTube channel, said. “She’s so talented.” As for the future, Hu remains open to possibilities. She has been offered admission to Harvard University, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but is unsure where she will attend in the fall. She plans to pursue a career in any of the fields of mathematics, computer science or economics. “Even though I know I’ve given up some things in choosing to graduate a year early, I’m extremely excited about my future,” Hu said. “I know I will find many open doors and opportunities wherever I choose to go in the coming years.”

photo by Anna Hicks

Kristina Hu is taking senior year classes in order to meet graduation requirements.

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march 30, 2012

Colleges try innovative marketing strategies by Tahmina Achekzai and Sunny Kim Features Editors


he grass is green, the sky is blue, and there’s a tree in the corner under which three diverse students are sitting, laughing and smiling as they study. This may be the

typical photo filling high school students’ mailboxes as they get overwhelmed with college “spam.” But students rarely find these brochures helpful in choosing the ideal college. “I think the best way to decide is visiting the schools,” senior Emilie Fortman said. “When I visited the colleges, I knew within 10 minutes if I wanted to go there or not.” Seniors are finally receiving the acceptance letters they’ve been anticipating for months and are preparing for the ultimate decision of choosing the right college. At the same time, colleges try to influence their decisions through varying marketing techniques. “After I had been accepted there, Kansas University sent me a beanie. Even though it wasn’t my top choice, that hat really bumped it up,” senior Madison Russell said. “Also, once I got a handwritten letter from a school in South Carolina and it really stood out among other college mail.” To combat the notion of college brochures being simple “spam” worthy of a trip straight to the trash, the College of William and Mary decided to change a few of their marketing techniques to appeal more to the prospective students. It decided to abandon its traditional “three and tree” technique. “Our expectations for our new marketing technique, the Ampersandbox, is that it will be distinct from what other colleges and universities are sending to prospective students and will therefore stand out in a mailbox,” Senior Assistant Dean of Admission Wendy Livingston said. “Our previous viewbook had passed its prime.” The Ampersandbox features a number of different postcard type letters, with more specific images on the front. Each of these cards shows a different aspect of campus life, featuring attention-grabbing phrases such as “Down and Dirty” or “Naked and Friendly.” On the back of the cards, more detailed information is laid out about lists of student clubs, study abroad options, research opportunities and academic majors. “If a college doesn’t provide substantive information in their booklets, there’s no way I’m going there,” senior Alice King said. The University of Maryland used a more playful approach this year. They sent home comic book-style brochures, and on their website, students appear as superheroes.

Even though colleges put much of their effort into mailable booklets and pamphlets, those readable items don’t satisfy some students. King requested a book from the University of Pennsylvania. For her, seeing photos of the campus and being able to read a description of life as a student was more than enough to substitute a visit to the campus. “If a school doesn’t look good in pictures, it’s not going to look good in person,” King said. However, the pretty pictures weren’t the only things King noticed. The University of Pennsylvania gave abundant information about what their school was really like, going into detail with different aspects of it. College Career Specialist Laurie Kobick notices other trends in college marketing. She sees some schools such as Harvard University changing their on-campus visit strategy. Holding regional meetings at various hotels and convention centers is becoming preferable to going from school to school. Senior Akhila Ananthram sees college interviews with alumni as more effective than regional and local meetings. “They tell you a lot of things about the college that you wouldn’t otherwise have known,” Ananthram said. “For my Princeton interview, the alumnus talked about food clubs and how he learned to cook there.”’ Still, many colleges also participate in conventionstyled interest meetings, where each school sets up a booth with alumni volunteers to provide information and talk to prospective students. Senior Sid Rajesh attended one of these conventions during his junior year. “The information I got at these meetings could all be easily found online,” he said. As indicated by Rajesh, the quality of the college websites is rising as well. “Much of the schools’ advertising occurs through Facebook and Twitter nowadays, and they’ve kept their websites updated,” Kobick said. But the colleges’ efforts in advertising in social media aren’t as fruitful as the improvements in print and websites. “I used social media to talk to friends who were already in colleges,” Rajesh said. “I only visited the Facebook groups of colleges after I had been accepted, but it didn’t really influence my decision.” Some students, such as senior Kwan Lee, see no importance in the colleges’ effort in marketing. “What attracts me to a college is how well known it is, whether it is suitable for my major and the location, because I don’t really like cities,” Lee said. No matter how students perceive college marketing ploys, the schools’ methods for attracting students are evolving quickly, along with greater ease of communication.

Old to New

OLD photo by Tahmina Achekzai

Rochester Institute of Technology

If a school doesn’t look good in pictures, it’s not going to look good in person.

–Senior Alice King

NEW photo courtesy of Erika Ferrin

University of Maryland, Baltimore

NEW photo courtesy of the College of William and Mary and Stephen Salpukas

College of William and Mary

Northern Virginia legislators weigh in on recent session continued from page 1 The bill passed the House but died in the Senate on March 8. There is a possibility the governor would bring it up again next year, but LeMunyon has confidence that any new legislation will treat teachers fairly. “I don’t know if the governor will push this legislation again next year, but if he chooses to, I know he’ll continue to work with teachers, parents, school administrators and elected officials to improve the legislation even more – to ensure accountability but also to honor our hard working teachers,” he said. While the vote on the teacher contract reform bill was mostly split down party lines, another bill, the proposed law that would repeal what has come to be known as the Kings Dominion Law, co-sponsored by both Keam and LeMunyon, was strongly supported and opposed on both sides of the aisle. “This wasn’t a partisan issue,” Delegate Tim Hugo (R) from the 40th House District said. “The school start date is a regional debate. Tourism driven regions don’t want to see schools starting before Labor Day because of the potential lost revenue.” The bill, that would allow local school boards to set the beginning of the school year before Labor Day, has traditionally been opposed by the tourism industry and has more of a regional divide of opinion. But that doesn’t mean things can’t change. “I grew up in Virginia Beach and have always voted to preserve the Kings Dominion Law, except for this year. I changed my vote,” Hugo said. Hugo joined the majority of his fellow Northern Virginians in voting for this new bill that would especially help students preparing for nationally standardized tests. “A student in North Senator Dave Marsden (D) Carolina who begins 37th District - Burke

school three weeks earlier than a Virginia student has three extra weeks to prepare for the national AP tests given to all students at the same time in May. That North Carolina student also doesn’t have three weeks of unproductive down time at the end of the year like our students currently do,” Keam said, to explain his support for the bill. Senator Dave Marsden (D) from the 37th Senate District, who introduced a similar bill to the Senate on behalf of the governor, agrees that the full year should be utilized for learning, as is best decided by local school boards. “We would be better served to have the school boards make this decision because they are only concerned with the welfare of their students and not the local business interests,” he said. The bill passed the House with a hefty margin and was narrowly defeated in committee in the Senate. This issue is a perennial favorite for the General Assembly, and there is little doubt it will be back next session. With its gaining popularity and the governor’s support for the first time this year, the repeal of the Kings Dominion Law may not be too far off. The final issue that could have particularly influenced the lives of new drivers would have been the bill introduced to make texting behind the wheel a primary offence for drivers under 18. The bill passed the Senate but was left in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee at the end of the session because of the House’s caution in passing bills that target cer-

Delegate Mark Keam (D) 35th District - Vienna

tain technology and age groups. After dealing with all of these issues, the General Assembly finished their Regular Session without a budget and has been in Special Session to have a plan to fund the Commonwealth for the next two years since March 10. On Monday, the Senate put forth their $85 billion budget plan, which was voted down in the House on Tuesday. The bill is now in a conference committee but looks like it will be passed soon. “I think we will have a budget within the next few days,” LeMunyon said. “The delay is starting to effect planning on the local level.” One of the main dividing issues between the conservative House budget, which was killed by the Senate at the end of the Regular Session, and the more moderate Senate plan is funding for education. The Senate plan includes $42 million for “cost of competing” funds for Northern Virginia schools, compared to the House proposal of $24 million. This difference in funding shows the different party goals when it comes to education policy. “I think there is agreement on both sides of the aisle that good education is key for the success of our state,” Keam said. “However, I believe that Democrats generally want to focus on fixing problems with the public schools we have now, while the Republicans generally are looking at other options beyond traditional public schools like home-schooling, virtual, charter and private schools.” So what can one conclude about the direction of Virginia schools from the General Assembly session this year? Not much, if we’re looking at bills that passed. But lawmakers were able to use this session to address some of the paramount issues that face Virginia teenagers and the eduphotos by Colleen Marshall and courtesy of Mark Keam cational system, and Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R) maybe will have more Delegate Tim Hugo (R) 67th District - Oakton success next year. 40th District - Clifton


march 30, 2012


Tutors engage Cluster III elementary students Book Buddies read at nearby Weyanoke ES

photo by Joshua Baquedano

Junior Dan Matson teaches division to fifth graders.

Hispanic Alliance promotes STEM by Joshua Baquedano Opinion Editor The lack of Hispanic students at Jefferson is no secret, but through their work at Weyanoke Elementary, Hispanic Alliance hopes to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). For years, the students of Hispanic Alliance have made frequent trips to Weyanoke as tutors, first helping the Hispanic students there, then later expanding to help full classes. “Hispanic Alliance hopes to open up more educational opportunities for young Hispanic students,” club president Nicole Gonzalez said. “We want to give them the guidance they need to realize what they are capable of achieving.” The program used to be a special activity for Hispanic students at Weyanoke, as tutors from Jefferson would be assigned as buddies, who would participate in educational activities with their charges throughout the entire year. However, this year the program has undergone a shift. “This year we began doing classroom work, assigning three or four tutors to a class for the whole year where they work with the teacher,” Gonzalez said. One of the Weyanoke faculty members, ESOL teacher Nicholas Vandegrift, thinks the program is beneficial for both sides. “It gives the Jefferson students a chance to guide other students academically,” Vandegrift said. “They can share their expertise and knowledge with kids of other ages.” Club sponsor and Spanish teacher Nanette Mateo believes the group’s work could promote an Hispanic presence at Jefferson. “The elementary school students perceive Jefferson students as role models,” Mateo said. “It opens a door to a more diverse community that could eventually feed into Jefferson by awakening the desire for the fields of science, mathematics and technology.” Gonzalez has noticed the same thing. “One of my students came up to me and said, ‘When I grow up, I want to go to Jefferson so I can do math and science just like you,’” Gonzalez said. “I thought that goes to show exactly what we are doing, that if they work hard they can accomplish their goals no matter how high.”

by Tahmina Achekzai Features Editor A first grader points curiously to an illustration, wondering aloud what the picture is supposed to resemble. Students behind him strain their arms as they try to get the attention of the Jefferson student who is reading aloud to the group. Slowly, but with much amusement, groups all over Weyanoke Elementary School make their way through red fish and blue fish, green eggs and ham, and 45 “Cats in the Hats.” These 45 “Cats in the Hats”, otherwise known as Book Buddies members, went over to Weyanoke Elementary School on March 2 to celebrate Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday. While this was an enjoyable experience for many of the Weyanoke and Jefferson students, it was just one of the many weekly visits that Book Buddies makes to Weyanoke Elementary. At regular meetings, the Book Buddies members pair up or group with students in either kindergarten or second grade. Although the members don’t choose their students, their buddies generally remain the same throughout the year, giving them time to get to know each other. “Having a relationship and being responsible about that relationship are life long skills,” English teacher and Book Buddies sponsor Mildred Waterfall said. “Reading together expands into being able to talk and laugh and wonder with another person.” The Book Buddies members make friends with their students as they help them improve their vocabulary and reading skills. “I look forward to spending time with my reading buddy all week,” junior Christie Freund said. Staying with the same buddy or group for the whole year helps the members figure out what kinds of books the students like best, as well. “My buddy loves reading Arthur books the most, so I dig through my shelves searching for old Arthur

photo by Tahmina Achekzai

Juniors Rebecca Applin and Paul Naanou read a Dr. Seuss book to Weyanoke Elementary School students.

books to read to my buddy,” sophomore Alex Chae, who joined this year, said. “It is a blast because the Arthur books were my favorite children’s books, too, and they bring back so many memories.” The Book Buddies mentor students which teachers and staff select as needing assistance or extra attention. In addition to improving their reading skills, the students grow to love reading and get excited about it. “It definitely motivates the kids,” sophomore Josh Chung said. “The teacher of the kindergarten class tells me that the kids read a lot more since we’ve been visiting them.” Chae thinks that the program also makes the students feel special, which is important for students who may lose self esteem due to their lower reading levels. “When I pick up my buddy in her classroom, the rest of the class moans, as they all want to come with me,” he said. “I wish I could take them all out and read with them.”

TJ Buddies tutor at Belvedere and Columbia by YouNa An and Arya Dahal Features Editors Sophomore Vashali Jain arrives at Belvedere Elementary School around 2:30 p.m. She has only half an hour to help the students there. She hurries to her assigned third grade classroom and is immediately greeted by animated faces and a hug or two. “The staff is always welcoming, but I think the best part about volunteering is being able to see the children,” Jain said. “Every single time, the children are so excited to see you. It really brightens up your day.” Jain is one of the 30 students called TJ Buddies who drive in student and adult-driven carpools to Belvedere Elementary School during A block on Wednesday to work with students. Participating Jefferson students guide Belvedere students while they read out loud, assist in scientific experiments and work with students on in-class assignments. A similar tutoring program focused on reaching out to

local elementary schools is the Columbia Elementary School program, where Jefferson students get to either work with a student one on one or hold class activities. Senior Katherine Sheridan started tutoring at Columbia as a junior. “Although it has been a little weird to go from Multivariable Calculus class to tutoring second graders in math and then back to multivariable tutoring, I enjoy getting to know the children and seeing them excited to do whatever activity is planned when I arrive,” Sheridan said. Stephen Fitzgerald, a school counselor at Belvedere, believes that the elementary school students benefit from the role model interaction that TJ Buddies provide. “TJ Buddies allow our teachers to provide individual or small group remediation or enrichment,” Fitzgerald said. “I value this program because these high school students enter our building committed to helping our students and providing them with another resource to learn and have fun while at school.”

Every single time, the children are so excited to see you.

– Sophomore Vashali Jain

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march 30, 2012


Innovative technological forums supplement more traditional classroom instruction

by Thrisha Potluri Features Editor “60 Minutes” segment on March 11 highlighted Khan Academy, a free online educational tool that is revolutionizing the way students learn. With its extensive video library, practice exercises and assessments, Khan Academy provides additional step-by-step resources for students as a supplement to school material. “I use Khan Academy mostly for math,” sophomore Nikhil Garg said. “It works for people who are visual learners because it provides a step-bystep walk through of how to solve certain problems.” Khan Academy is just one of the online forums that students and teachers use to supplement classroom education. In addition to Khan Academy, WebAssign, Google Documents (Google Docs), YouTube videos and Facebook are some of the more recent and popular forums being used. Although Khan Academy is mostly used by students for their science and math classes, others also use it for other classes such as history. Recently, World History and Geography teacher Carolyn Gecan assigned her Humanities I class to watch Khan Academies on the French Revolution. “The reason I like the videos is because the presentation is quite different from the way I would present a lecture, and I like Khan’s sense of humor,” Gecan said. “Also, I think it’s a nice advantage that you can pause it and go back.” Students are not the only ones who benefit from Khan Academy. With access to different features such as focus reports, teachers can monitor the progress of students in real-time. WebAssign is another online educational tool currently embraced by the physics team. Each week, students are given problems sets and are


expected to submit their assignment by Sunday night each week. “Having problem sets online is a great idea. Before WebAssign, problem sets were the same for every student, so they could have copied down each others’ answers,” junior Michelle Wang said. “But with WebAssign, everyone has different numbers for questions, so it forces you to actually do the homework.” Although WebAssign is designed to be an individual effort, students often collaborate to work out complicated steps to problems. As the clock nears 11 on Sunday nights, most juniors can be found online in the “TJ Physics 1 20112012” Facebook group. Google documents and Facebook groups are two of the more common tools used by students to keep in touch with classmates, find out information concerning class assignments and ask others for help. “The benefits of Facebook groups are the study resources that can be shared and the possibility of discussing problems with peers at any time as long as they’re online,” freshman Katya Plotnitskaya said. Like Facebook groups, Google Docs are helpful, especially when working on group projects or with study groups. Many students prefer these forms of communication to the now outdated method of emailing several drafts back and forth because information can be shared in real-time. Students can also work on assignments at the same time from different locations. “The help that our physics Google Docs provides is phenomenal,” junior Kevin Jeong said. “It’s much easier to explain a concept once - completely fleshed out and in a coherent manner - than multiple times to different people.” This reasoning was why Physics teacher Adam Smith decided to create YouTube videos for his students.

The help that our physics Google Docs provide is phenomenal. -junior Kevin Jeong

“I saw Khan Academy, and that seemed like a useful thing to do,” Smith said. “I started doing the videos as problem solutions which saved me the difficulty of having to repeat myself many times in a day.” While Khan Academy has many instructional videos for all subject matters, students often turn to YouTube personalization in the way they learn. Khan Academy offers more problem solving videos, while YouTube offers access to a wider range of instructors and video styles. While many teachers have started using online tools in their classrooms, AP U.S. History teacher Scott Campbell decided to take a different approach and use social media to further expand his students’ online learning experience. Each week, a group of 12 students is assigned to manage the class Twitter account, where they are in charge of tweeting information they learned that week. Each group is also required to answer any questions that are tweeted their way. “It’s useful to have the Twitter account because you can ask it whatever you want, whenever you want,” junior Sebastian Lerner said. “The tweets summarize what we learned in class, and it helps me remember the information that was taught.” In addition to helping students learn and review class material, Campbell also hopes to reach a wider audience. The Twitter account is not only accessed by students, but also by out-of-state followers. “The goal of the whole project is to allow students here at TJ to use the knowledge and the things they’re gaining to have a broader impact on other students around the country,” Campbell said. “Right now we have about 215 followers, with students from such states as California, Oklahoma, Alabama and North Carolina.”

TJ TALKS: What are the cons of shifting towards a more technologically-oriented classroom?

It‘s more difficult to communicate with a teacher through a chat room than talking to them face to face.

~ junior Sebastian Lerner

I believe the personto-person discussion is still a vital role in learning that shouldn’t be removed.

~ freshman Katya Plotnitskaya

Many textbooks are going to be online soon, and that’s a terrible idea. I can’t read unless there are no distractions, but if my book is online, then Facebook is only a tab away. ~ junior Michelle Wang

March 30  

March Issue 2012