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There is no place like page 11 for the “Wizard of Oz” article.

Ursus

Vol. 4 Issue 2 / Friday, December 15, 2017 / Bedford Middle School / Westport, Conn. 06880 / BedfordUrsus@gmail.com

BMS Ends Work Over Breaks Nikhil Kanthan STAFF WRITER

Don’t like homework or school projects interrupting your relaxing school break? Well, you’re in luck! Recently, an email was sent by the superintendent to all the teachers at BMS about a new policy. What is it? The policy says that assigning projects over school breaks is prohibited. What does this mean? This means no school-related assignments can be assigned over any school break and until three days after the break has ended. However, though homework cannot be assigned over the break, it can be assigned right after the break has ended. For example, if a break ended on Sunday and you got back to school on a Monday, no projects would be allowed to be assigned until Wednesday, but your teacher could allocate homework right after break. That’s great, but who created this new policy? “It was the entire staff,” said school principal Dr. Adam Rosen. “I reviewed the email and they [the staff] were thankful and supportive. I also shared the policy with schools outside of Westport.” “It was the superintendent and the principals from each school,” said Vice Principal Mrs. Jacqueline Mellin. Evidently, the policy couldn’t have been in operation right away, so there was some steps to take to get used to this, right? “They [teachers] all had practiced the policy,” explained Dr. Rosen. Consequently, the teachers were well practiced and they had fully planned out everything in the year, which means there shouldn’t be any impacts on the education students should receive. What do students think?

Natalie Bandura STAFF WRITER

Mrs. Caroline Davis reviewing projects that were scheduled for completion keeping school breaks work free and family focused. “I think it’s good. Kids can enjoy their holiday and be with their family,” said 7th grader Sebastian Gikas. “I do like that, so you can spend time with your family. You get homework for the whole year. When you don’t get anything over break, it’s nice,” said another 7th grader, Jason Capozuca. Though you may be delighted about this new policy, teachers may ind it harder to plan out the school year. This policy can affect the way teachers plan out the year, and teachers need to account for breaks where no schoolwork can take place and schedule assignments during the regular school year. “It makes teachers have to map out long-term goals,” said Mr. Andrew Zold, a 7th grade social studies teacher. “It’s helpful to remind people that there are lots of things besides homework. I think it’s a reasonable policy.”

The policy hopes to allow for teachers and students alike to focus on other things besides school work. “We all agree that teachers, and students, need a break. Breaks are a time to enjoy with family, and focus on your family and not stressing about school work,” said Mrs. Mellin. “This policy was designed to communicate that everyone needs a break in the clearest possible manner, to say that this is the case, and clarify communication from the school to community.” Dr. Rosen added. Both reasons were major contributors in making the policy something that the staff could agree to. In conclusion, the policy was put in to communicate the practice that all the staff had been doing, and that it was something that we all need sometimes – a work-free break.

Teachers Coming to a Classroom Near You

Learning to Improve Student Engagement Samantha Felner STAFF WRITER

Have you noticed any teachers walk through your classroom? Were you wondering what they were doing, peering over your shoulder? These are called learning walks, but really, what are they? According to Diane McCabe, a union representative of the Connecticut Teachers Association, the point of learning walks are for teachers and staff members to see how other teachers incorporate lessons into their classrooms. Although BMS teachers have collected limited data because the district has started doing it just this year, other school districts have found that teachers learn a lot from these walkthroughs. Currently, mostly administrators have completed walkthroughs, but the goal is to igure out a way to get teachers and any staff member visiting classrooms. In order for all staff members to be able to partake in these learning walks, schedules will need to be created in order to make them run smoothly. As stated by the Principal, Dr. Adam Rosen, these learning walks were brought to the school district by John Antonetti, who wrote a book about these

Many Benefit From Coin War

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Ms. Emily Hoyt doing her own homework reading John Antonetti’s book about active learning. teacher walkthroughs, and then proceeded to come to the Westport district and taught all administrators, teachers, coaches, and all staff how to partake in these learning walks. Dr. Rosen, along with the teachers doing these walkthroughs, have yet to see an impact from them, but they hope that in years to come all staff members will bene it. “Yes, these learning walks will eventually have a great impact on students. Learning walks are not designed

to evaluate teachers, they were designed to look at the kind of work students are given, and ask the question of, is this work rigorous, or not? Rigor is de ined when students are making meaning,” said Dr. Rosen. Currently, more than half of the staff has taken part in these walkthroughs, but the goal is to have all staff members do a learning walk, at least once. The visit only takes minutes; two to three teachers go into a classroom, and try to see if they can see what type of work the students are doing. After the learning walk, all teachers pull out a rubric from John Antonetti’s book. The rubric is split into four sections, sections 1 and 2 are learning activities like recall taking notes, or restating known knowledge. However, certain class activities can be placed in sections 3 and 4. These classes were “making meaning.” Although many rubrics designed with “1,2,3,4” portray that “4” would be best and “1” would be least, this rubric is different. No numbers are better than the ones left or right of each other, “This was the big ah-ha moment when Continued on page 9

The 2017 Coin War champion was the Green Team, with a grand total of -55,185 points, surpassing the Red Team by 32,525 points and the Purple Team by 65,714 points. Regardless of the victor, the Coin Wars was an exciting and memorable experience for all 8th graders, raising a total of $6,826.64. Every year during the week before Thanksgiving, BMS 8th graders partake in a week of fundraising for the Westport Department of Human Services in Town Hall. Formerly known as Penny Wars, the event was switched to the Coin Wars this year, the 14th year of the event. Instead of striving to collect the most pennies for their team and “bombing,” or having values subtracted from, the other teams with other coins and dollars, this year students collected dollars for their own teams and bombed their competitors with nickels, dimes, and quarters. The usual system was altered due to the

Green Wins! burdensome number of pennies collected in previous years and the dif iculties that arise with transporting the heavy pennies and inding a bank to count them. To show support for their team, students from every pod dressed up in a different team themes. Black Out, Red White and Blue, Pajama Day and Twin Day dress could be seen all around the hallways of Bedford. “There has been a good amount of spirit which has been obvious from the effort that has gone into dressing up each of the spirit days. I think the Coin Wars are something good that we can do for the community, but I also think it brings each team together and gives them a common purpose,” said Mr. Kevin Cuccaro, an 8th grade math teacher at Bedford and the organizer of the Coin Wars event. Each day prior to the start of homeroom and during lunch, bins were illed up with dollars and jugs illed coins as pods competed in the annual event.. Not only did Green win, they also demonstrated the most organized spirit with “Mighty, Mighty Green Team” chants and staged dances inspired by Continued on page 5

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News

Friday, December 15, 2017

Opioid Addiction Affects Connecticut

Anastasia Thumser and Tierney Kugel

ISSUE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND STAFF WRITER

It’s practically impossible to turn on the news without seeing stories about the epidemic of deaths attributed to the opioid addiction. Although the epidemic surrounding opioids can seem unrelated to daily life in, addiction problems occur right here in Westport. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers that are legally available by prescription such as OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, and many others. Opioids are generally prescribed when an individual has just undergone a serious injury, surgery, or extensive treatment for cancer. These drugs have been chemically manufactured to mimic the effect of endorphins, which are chemicals that our body produces in order to naturally relieve pain.

As opioid education is continually stressed throughout school health classes, these questions still remain: How much do students know about opioids, and how are health experts broadening students’ knowledge about them? In 2016, multiple cities and towns across the state of Connecticut housed residents who died from an opioid overdose. The areas who lost the most inhabitants to opioids were Hartford, with 62 residents dying from an opioid overdose and Bridgeport with 44 residents dying from an opioid overdose. Opioids aren’t always dangerous. For the majority of people, when opioids are prescribed by a professional for a short amount of time, they are relatively safe and can effectively reduce pain. However, there are certain people who develop a dependence on opioids and experience withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t on the drug. According to American addiction centers, addicts may experience lu-like symptoms 24 to 48 hours after withdrawal. The number of prescriptions given out for opioids in the United States has skyrocketed within the last 25 years. In 1991, there were about 76 million prescriptions for opioids in the United States, as opposed to the 207 million prescriptions given out in 2013. “The opioid addiction can start with other drugs. Then over the years [individuals] start trying other things, and opioids and become a problem,” said Ms. Samantha Porter, a Bedford nurse and EMT. Ms. Porter also con irms that addiction to opioids can begin at a young

age. “Although it may not seem like it, the opioid addiction absolutely affects young people. I’ve had many experiences with people in their 20s dealing with the addiction. It does generally affect older people more, but young people are still affected by it.” Melissa Fett, a health teacher at Bedford, agrees that opioid addiction within teens is a problem. “Young people don’t really seem to understand how dangerous opioids are. So many adolescents think that just because they didn’t buy the drugs off of the street from a drug dealer that they aren’t ‘doing drugs.’ They seem to believe that since the medicine was prescribed by a doctor and that it is in their medicine cabinet at home that it isn’t so bad. This way of thinking is extremely dangerous not only because it makes young people think it is okay to use opioids, but also because they are then more likely to end up abusing the drugs.” Ms. Porter, said, “The main problem surrounding the opioid addiction is the over prescribing of opioids at hospitals for pain management.” Since opioids are so addictive and potentially life-threatening, medical professionals are looking for ways to avoid prescribing opioids. Ms. Fett says, “Doctors could be a bit more selective of whom and how often opioids are prescribed. For example, it makes sense that a person who just had surgery is taking opioids for a few days. However, if that same patient is still in great pain months later and claims to need the more medication in order to function, then perhaps doctors should take a

“Young people don’t really seem to understand how dangerous opioids are.” – Ms. Samantha Porter

closer look to see what is truly going on with that patient. Continuing to medicate him or her is not going to solve anything, but it will increase the chances of becoming addicted or overdosing.” It isn’t just doctors and patients who need education about the addictive traits of opioids. Ms. Porter suggests that a potential solution to the opioid epidemic is, “Continued education for young people and being aware of what you’re taking for pain management when you need it.” Ms. Fett agrees that education about opioids is important for young people to receive. “Reducing the amount of prescriptions (and intensity of dosage) would be the simple answer, but unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. However, educating people, especially those who are being prescribed opioids, about the dangers of prolonged use of the drugs is critical. When people know and understand the dangers of abusing or overdosing on opioids, they have a better chance of being more aware of how to properly take the medication.”

Veterans Visit Enlightens Bedford 8th Graders Evan Trock

STAFF WRITER

On Nov. 10, Bedford commemorated Veterans Day by having students interact with veterans to learn about their service to our country. Mrs. Courtney Ruggiero, the eighth grade purple pod social studies teacher, has organized the event for ive years. She has a close relationship with many of the veterans so she really cares about this day. “It is an opportunity for us to take a moment and to recognize the people who dedicate their lives to service,” said Mrs. Ruggiero. “One of the ways to thank them for their service is to learn about them.” After a welcome breakfast for the veterans, the speakers went to the cafeteria to listen as some 8th grade members of the chamber orchestra played patriotic songs. All of the 29 veterans stood and saluted as they played the “Star Spangled Banner.” The veterans presented to each of the three pods their stories about the wars they fought in and the service they performed. After they presented, there was a reception in each pod. Some 8th grade band students played taps for the veterans, after which there was cake and fruit to celebrate. The time also gave students a chance to talk with some veterans one on one. Last period of the day students wrote them thank you notes. The veterans who presented fought in wars as far back as World War II as well

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Leonard Everett Fisher WWII Veteran and author telling student about his service on Friday before Veteran’s Day at an eighth grade classroom. as the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf , Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. It was engaging to hear about their basic training and how dif icult their initiation into the military was at the young age of 18 or 20. Their stories told of the mental and physical challenges the men overcame in order to be ready for what lay ahead. Although many of the stories

differed, the frequent message was that the military changed their lives forever. A Marine named Richard Fox grew up dreaming about being in the military, enlisting soon after 9/11. He spoke about how dif icult his training was including doing a 54-hour endurance test known as the crucible. He had to learn to work as a team or everyone would be

in danger. Leonard Everett Fisher was one of the older veterans who fought in the army during World War II. He enlisted after inishing college but soon was sent back to learn more about mapmaking. When he was done, he was put on a boat to help navigate to Casablanca. On their way there, they were attacked for 10 minutes by German bombers. Marines were guarding the only way out so they had to stay inside of their quarters. When he was asked what life was like on the boat, he said “It wasn’t very pleasant. You got two meals a day and you had to stand up. When the boat lurched, all of your food would get on the loor.” Although that may seem bad, when asked what his favorite parts of the military were, he said, “Being able to see the world and becoming a non-commissioned of icer with privileges,” were the best parts. Mr. Fisher served in the 30th Engineers Topographic Battalion. In this classi ied operations section of the battalion, he did planning, editing and publishing of the third, ifth and seventh U.S invasions in Italy and France. He served at home, North Africa and Hawaii with this unit. When Alex Waterworth, an 8th grader in the purple pod, was asked what was the most memorable part of the day, he said, “It was amazing to hear their stories and to get a deeper understanding of the branches of the military and what it was like in the military.”


Opinions

Ursus

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ursus Ursus is Bedford Middle School’s student newspaper. It prints 500 copies, ive times a year. All content and opinions come from the newspaper staff and do not re lect those of the teachers or administrators of the school.

Teacher Walk-Throughs Unveiling the Not-so Terrible Truth Have you ever had a group of teachers or administrators walk into your classroom unannounced? Did it feel as though they were peering over your shoulder, watching your every move? Well, the good news is that teacher walkthroughs aren’t nearly as daunting as they seem. Almost every teacher in the building has been visited by a group of teachers and administrators, often when the teacher isn’t giving a particular lesson and students are doing work on their own. This change of pace from the normal learning environment is often intimidating to kids. In reality, however, the walkthroughs are bene iting students. The purpose of teacher walkthroughs is to see how engaged students are within the classroom. They observe the student’s behavior and work, and then ask questions about the topic they are learning. Through all of these questions, they are taking notes

about how engaged the students seem to be. They record notes about the kinds of task the students are engaged in and talk about ways to make learning more active and engaging. The district is partnering with John Antonetti, a teacher and author who wrote “17,000 Class-

Editorial room Visits Can’t Be Wrong.” He writes, “Up until about a decade ago, the word engagement was used in a binary way to describe student behavior - students were either working or they were not.” Today, that mindset is being changed to adhere to the needs of students. Teachers try to igure out the engagement level of students in order to make their lessons more exciting and relateable to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. If students seem engaged, they will incorporate more of the lessons that seem to excite students into the

curriculum. If students don’t seem to be that intrigued in the lesson, they will adapt the curriculum in order to make students more engaged within their learning environment. Educators who observe the classroom strongly believe that just because students are “on-task” with the lesson doesn’t mean that they are actually learning from it and interested in the topic. The notes that they take will later to be used to incorporate lessons into the curriculum that genuinely fascinate students. When teachers and administrators enter the classroom, it’s important to remain calm and not be nervous. Remember that they are not judging your skills or abilities; they are simply trying to igure out what you enjoy to learn about as a student and what needs to be done in order to improve the curriculum. In the end, teacher walkthroughs bene it everyone; teachers get to observe a classroom environment, and students will be taught more interesting lessons in the future.

STAFF Natalie Bandura Julia Berg Henry Carson Finnegan Courtney Paige Farlow Samantha Felner James Fiffer Nick Fischel Leilani Fleming Matthew Fleming Merel Kanter Nikhil Kanthan Jocelyn Kessler Jaiyana Khan Max Kirkorsky Betti Kobak Tierney Kugel Nicholas Lolis Lyah Muktavaram Naomi Rosen Curtis Sullivan Evan Trock Rachalle Ubaldo Lucia Wang ISSUE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Anastasia Thumser ADVISERS Stephen Rexford Samantha Gettings CONTACT US bedfordursus@gmail.com Bedford Middle School 88 North Ave. Westport, CT 06880 203.341.1586

Letters to the Editor The paper welcomes letters to the editor. Send letters via email to the address below or drop off letters in rm. 113. Please keep letters under 175 words. Your letter may be shortened and edited for space.

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Opinions Friday, December 15, 2017

Two Views on an Issue

Against More Restrictions Nick Fischel

STAFF WRITER

Recent mass shootings have made the gun control problem more prominent. Some think that gun control laws need to be strengthened, but more gun control laws will not solve the problem, and they are not working. There needs to be less gun control and a better system. Gun control laws infringe upon self-defense, deny a sense of safety, do not prevent criminals from obtaining guns or breaking laws, and do not deter crime as they should. In addition, a stronger gun education system is required for public safety. Gun control laws should not be strict. Sixty percent of gun owners choose to own guns for their personal safety and protection. Most people also feel safer if someone who has a gun for protection is around them. Stricter gun laws make it harder to have this sense of safety. In an emergency situation, calling 911 may take a while for results. A weapon to serve as personal defense or family protection would be better and faster than waiting for emergency response units. Guns are used for self-defense 2.5 million times a year, according to the National Ri le Association. Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA, said it well: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Collectively, gun control laws make it harder for people to get the sense of safety that they desire. Gun control laws will not prevent criminals from obtaining guns and breaking the law. Between 1982 and 2012 there were 62 mass shootings in the United States. Of these, 49 shooters were using legally obtained guns. 37.4 percent of irearm related criminals got the gun from a family member or friend. Despite heavy bans in places like Chicago, thou-

sands of murders persist. These background checks stop criminals from buying or owning guns, but most of these shooters did not have a criminal record. More gun education is needed. Gun education would be very bene icial for the population to prevent accidental gun deaths and to in luence legal gun use. In other areas, especially rural places, guns are more common because people don’t feel ‘weird’ about them. The NRA states, “Like swimming pools, electrical outlets, matchbooks, and household poison, they’re [guns] treated simply as a fact of everyday life.” Guns really are just another safety aspect that people should be aware of. When you look at one, you shouldn’t be fearful. All of the country and our society will bene it from gun education, and it will ultimately result in fewer mass shootings. The gun control system doesn’t work well. Some gun control laws deny a sense of safety to the people and they stop law abiding citizens from the practicing of their rights. Gun control laws are not even very effective, and they do not deter crime. Guns are not a tool to be afraid of, and the populations should be more aware of them. As mass shootings are happening more often, something must change because they will not stop. P

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For More Gun Control Jaiyana Khan

STAFF WRITER

Gun control is a very controversial topic in the United States because gun violence is so common here. There should be more gun control laws in the United States; they could greatly bene it the country. On Nov. 5, there was a shooting in Sutherland Springs in Texas. It killed 27 people and injured 20. Earlier on Oct. 1, there was a shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and wounded 526. These tragedies started many people talking. Many say America needs more gun control, and all of the recent shootings support their reasoning. More restrictive gun control laws can help prevent mass shootings. Some believe more gun control laws were necessary back when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred on December 14, 2012. At this incident, Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, was attacked. A man shot and killed 20 children between six and seven years old and six teachers. Where should the line be drawn? So many people have died from gun violence, and more gun control can prevent that. According to Everytown.org, a group ighting for stricter gun control, the homicide rate in America is more than 25 times the average of

other developed countries. While criminals will still obtain weapons illegally, establishing tighter gun restrictive laws will make it harder to get one and result in fewer criminals gaining access to guns. Currently, 12 out of 50 states in America require a permit for handguns. Requiring permits in all states may reduce gun violence because, once again, it would take more effort to obtain the gun. More, stricter background checks should be done, to make it harder for people with ill intentions to get a gun. It’s not that guns should be almost impossible to get or banned entirely, it’s just that stricter gun control can regulate the number of guns help prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. In Australia, after a mass shooting in 1996, the country banned certain semi-automatic, self-loading ri les and shotguns. Australia also established stricter licensing and registration requirements. This ended their mass shooting problem, and it halved the number of gun deaths. This further shows that more gun control would be bene icial to our country, and help it rather than harm it. More gun control has worked very well in many other countries; it could work here. A common argument for not having gun control is that guns are often used for self-defense and protection. The thing is, guns could still be obtainable with stricter laws, it just might be a little more challenging. If someone is eligible to own a gun, then he or she should be able to get a gun. The purpose is to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and causing tragedy. Overall, gun control would be beneicial to America because it would prevent mass shootings, reduce the number of gun deaths, and prevent guns from being owned by criminals.

Boys and Girls Scouts Better Together Lyah Muktavaram STAFF WRITER

With a new way of thinking, the Boy Scouts of America has made the decision to allow girls into the program. After the new decision to let girls join the Boy Scouts, some complaints have risen in protest of the organization. In October 2017, the Boy Scouts of America, or the BSA, openly came to the decision of recruiting girls into the 2018 program. The program claims it will continue with its guiding principles, and enabling the girls to participate will not affect the outcome. “The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls,” says the Boy Scouts of America. Girls are now able to participate in new ranks and activities, providing a reason for the request. Girls are now allowed into the ranks and are able to join in some scouting activities. However, they can’t join the popular programs, such as the Cub Scouts, or earn the Eagle Scout ranking yet. The Eagle Scout rankings are the highest awards given out, and these can even help scouts when applying to college. Some Girl Scouts are now looking forward to being able to attempt the badge.

Despite the newfound ranks that girls are able to obtain, the reactions between the genders are mixed. Some think the decision fuels diverse communities, while others are unsure. “Only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success,” says the Girl Scouts of America. They are among others that think the experiences that girls get from the Girl Scout program is something that could be more useful to them. Even though there is still controversy with the reactions of the new changes, scouts have a greater opportunity to work together between genders and give girls and boys a different experience. I believe that the new changes to the program will overall positively impact

the community and scouts. Scouts will have a greater chance to learn skills they could not have learned on their own, such as being able to work together. Girls and boys will be able to work hand in hand to move forward in a task. Another reason this change can be a positive outcome is that the scouts are moving forward. Boy Scouts have made changes to the recruitment, allowing gay and transgender troop leaders in 2015. This thinking can transfer into our community, creating more diversity. “I feel that all genders should participate in Boy Scouts because it is an interesting activity which shouldn’t be limited to one certain gender,” said Jordan Chiu-Skow, an 8th grader and a current BSA member. He believes both girls and

boys learn different skills from each scout program, and learning together will help strengthen their knowledge. Other students think that is the problem, and say girls and boys should learn different skills, as they do now. Boy Scouts usually learn more survival skills and wilderness techniques, such as camping. Boys go on to teach merit badges and have more hands on experiences. On the other hand, the Girls Scouts usually work with the community and also help with the environment. So, the skills each scout learns makes them unique to that program. Lauren Lesher, an 8th grader in Girl Scouts, understands the differences. “The main differences between the scouts is that Girl Scouts tend to lean more to be artistic and help communities.” I believe that even though there are potential problems, by working together, the changes could help our scouts learn new skills while creating a diverse community. Moving forward, the girls’ and boys’ values are similar. Michael Surbaugh the Chief Scout Executive, says, “The values of scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example, — are important for young men and women.”


Features

Ursus

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Three Traditions Make December Special Lucia Wang

STAFF WRITER

The air is humming with holiday cheer and lights dazzle around porches and trees, illuminating the streets of Westport during dark December days. The holidays occurring are enough to brighten spirits and allow a joyous blanket to settle. This month is home to several holidays, but three in particular stand out in this country: Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Each of them holds their own histories, traditions and commemorations; many students at Bedford celebrate at least one of them, if not two. Christmas, observed on December 25 of every year, is celebrated by Christians who make up the majority of religious people in the United States. The festival commemorates the birth of who Christians believe to be the son of God, Jesus Christ. Red is a frequently used color at this time, representing the holly berries said to symbolize the blood of Jesus on the cross. The exchanging of gifts to friends and family is also a hallmark of Christmas; in 2015, the average American spent $882 on presents, according to “Investopedia.” Many students at Bedford thoroughly enjoy this shimmering holiday. Frankie O’Brien, a sixth grader, said, “Usually, every year we do a Secret Santa and put up a Christmas tree. It’s a time for family and I always really like it.”

Another prevalent holiday in Westport is Hanukkah, which typically falls sometime in December. In addition to lasting for eight days, its time differs each year because of its placing on the Hebrew calendar. While it is relatively minor to the Jewish people who celebrate it, it’s grown in recognition probably due to its overlapping with Christmas. Hanukkah, the word meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, commemorates when the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks) attempted to force the Israeli people to adopt Greek culture and beliefs instead of their own. A small group of Jews, however, managed to reclaim the Holy Land in Jerusalem. When they arrived to light the Temple Menorah, only a day’s worth of oil was found. They still proceeded to light the menorah and, miraculously, it lasted for eight days - hence the span of the holiday. A signi icant symbol is the menorah; a nine-branched candelabrum where a candle is lit each evening of the holiday.

Numerous students at Bedford celebrate it. “We normally have school during Hanukkah unless it happens really late, so we do all the celebrations in the evening,” said Sam Paris, a seventh grader. She went through the typical Hanukkah routine, telling that her family irst lights one candle on the menorah at around sunset each day, saying prayers for the family as they do so. Sam then continued, “At least once, my mom hosts a Hanukkah dinner, where a lot of my relatives come over. My mom made a little booklet for a ‘service’ beforehand, so we go through it, with everyone reading at least one part.” She briefed on the substantial meal each night, which is partly composed of latkes and applesauce, along with explaining that her family will play games such as spin the dreidel. “Right before we go to bed, we each get to open one or two presents. Then inish off the night by calling the people who gave us presents,” she said.

Kwanzaa, which is celebrated this year Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, is a more recent holiday combining several traditional African harvest celebrations. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to bring the African American community closer together after a neighborhood riot and help them connect with their heritage and culture. Feasts take place where customary foods are eaten such as kozi, an appetizer made from black-eyed peas, and okra and greens, a traditional side dish. Gifts are also exchanged. A well-known symbol is the seven candles, showing a single black candle to represent the people, three red ones depicting the struggle, and three green ones to portray the future and hope transpiring from those struggles. Some students celebrate more than one holiday for a variety of reasons. Henry Levin, also in seventh grade, is an example of this. “I’m Jewish, but my parents think Hanukkah is a pain because it’s eight days of presents, so we do Christmas. We still do the lights and [other traditions] for Hanukkah though,” said Levin. No matter the holiday, if it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another, the festivity throughout December and into the new year is a time to rejoice and set resolutions. Overall, it is also the time to spread as cliche as it sounds - even more love and happiness with not just family and friends but everyone.

Coin Wars Continued from page 1 “Remember the Titans.” In addition to the excitement it brought, the Coin Wars greatly bene ited its participants. “It can give students the opportunity to give back to the community and feel part of something bigger than just a classroom activity. I think the Coin Wars offers a chance for all students to be involved, whether you donate a dollar or a hundred, every little bit helps and it’s only successful if the entire grade feels like they can participate,” said Mr. Cuccaro. While the Coin Wars was a great experience that built collaboration and spirit in the pods, it is essential to remember where the donated money goes to, and the people it helps. “All the donations go to the Westport Department of Human Services at Town Hall. We work with families in Westport who have inancial troubles, are ill, or lost their jobs. Every penny is used to buy gifts for the holiday season for clients of the department,” said Mrs. Patty Haberstroh, a guest speaker from the Human Services organization who spoke to the 8th graders the Friday before the week of the Coin Wars. The record number of people helped occurred last year, at 414 Westport citizens, as well as families whose children attend Westport schools, and sometimes senior citizens in town who are alone for the holidays. “Our organization gives a happy holiday season to people where the parents have been worried that they won’t be able to buy anything for their kids. I really appreciate the spirit of giving to those less fortunate that is shown throughout the Coin Wars,” said Mrs. Haberstroh. But while the intention of the Coin Wars is a great one, there have been

discussions regarding the speci ic method of fundraising. Some believe it would be better to raise money through activities that are more bene icial to students and help them set and achieve goals, such doing community service to raise money. However, the common opinion seems to be that the Coin Wars is the better alternative. “I prefer Coin Wars because it involves the entire grade, instead of just optional participants, and I feel like you can’t force people to do most other types of events, and not a lot of people would,” said 8th grader Leah Chapman. “I think it depends on what kind of person you are, and some people may be too busy,” said Jane Cheema, a student in the 8th grade. “I think the Coin Wars is better because it’s fun and gives people a lot of spirit,” said Oliver Clacko, an 8th grade student. Olivia Marshall, an 8th grader, adds, “It also depends on what your interests are. I like running, for example, so I’d love to run a race to raise money instead.” “It’s better if students set and achieve goals, but it’s equal in the sense that, either way, you are helping and doing something charitable,” said Annabelle Harr, a student in the 8th grade. Mr. Cuccaro’s response to the discussion is positive for the Coin Wars, “While I think students should look for additional opportunities to be an active participant in supporting those in need, I think the competitive spirit and the enthusiasm of the student body lead to an extremely successful fundraising initiative. I’ve never seen another type of fundraiser generate the amount of funds that the Coin War has done.”

Ruggiero is Westport Teacher of the Year, State Finalist Jocelyn Kessler STAFF WRITER

Mrs. Courtney Ruggiero, a social studies teacher at Bedford, has been awarded the 2018 Westport Teacher of the Year for outstanding teaching and was one of four inalists for Connecticut teacher of the year. “She is smart, always asks questions, cares about her students, and tries to be the best teacher possible,” said language arts teacher Mrs. Alison Antunovich who teaches right next door to Mrs. Ruggiero. Her students appreciate her work in the classroom. “She doesn’t try to prove her authority. She makes everyone listen and look up to her,” said Amy Ginzburg, an eighth grader in Mrs. Ruggiero’s pod. “She relates historical events to our lives now and makes everything seem relevant.” The Teacher of the Year committee receives anonymous nominations from fellow teachers at Westport

schools. Each year roughly 10 teachers are selected as inalists in the town. The committee picked Mrs. Ruggiero as most deserving of the award. The state Teacher of the Year committee had been sent to Westport in late September to watch her in front of her class, and to talk to the people in the community she interacts with in day-to-day life. This was to determine whether or not she’d move from Westport Teacher of the Year to Connecticut Teacher of the Year. In late September, it was announced that she was one of the four inalists in the state. For being a inalist, Mrs. Ruggiero will get to be involved in meetings with fellow educators and State Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell over the course of next year. “This has provided a great experience for me” Mrs. Ruggiero said.


The Center Spread

6 Ursus

YEAR

ONE TRUMP

Ursus

Friday, December 15, 2017

Do you agree with how President Trump has dealt with North Korea and its nuclear program?

Do you approve of the job President Trump has done within the past year?

7

How hopeful are you for Donald Trumps’ presidency? I am very discouraged.

No I’m indifferent.

I’m indifferent.

No

I am very hopeful.

OF PRESIDENT

Yes

I am discouraged.

Yes

How do you feel about President Trump after his year in office? I’m indifferent.

I disliked Trump previously, I like him now.

By: Finnegan Courtney & Anastasia Thumser

Do you agree with President Trump’s immigration policies?

I am somewhat hopeful.

How do you feel about his work to protect the safety of our country?

I liked Trump previously, I dislike him now. I’m indifferent.

I liked Trump previously, I still like him now.

I feel he has done nothing.

No

STAFF WRITER AND ISSUE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

President Trump has been in of ice for almost a year, and he has been controversial since his inauguration. A new poll published by the Pew Research Center, published on Dec. 4, shows 32 percent of Americans approve of the job President Trump has been doing, which is his lowest poll rating since he took of ice. “Ursus” decided to do a poll of its own to see what Bedford thinks about President Trump’s irst year in of ice. We came up with questions and posted them on Schoology, where 132 kids and some teachers followed the link and responded. Here are the results of our poll on his irst year in of ice.

I feel he has done a lot.

11.3 % Yes

I’m indifferent.

I feel he has done a little

I disliked Trump previously, I still dislike him now.

Do you feel President Trump has met his promises that he made on the campaign trail?

I feel he has done a little.

Has President Trump’s business experience had a positve effect on his presidency? No

I’m indifferent.

I’m indifferent.

No

Do you think Twitter hurts or helps his presidency?

I believe it hurts.

I believe it helps.

Yes

Yes

Ursus lets you

Speak Out By Natalie Bandura & Finnegan Courtney STAFF WRITERS

How do you feel about President Trump’s first year in office?

NICHOLAS RAMSEY

ALEXANDER PERKL

MATTHEW EVANS

ELENA LIM

GEORGE KOCADAG

“He’s in way over his head, making up stuff as he goes along. I don’t know why he ran, with the whole mess with the Russian ties going on.”

“I do not like him. In the wake of his presidency, a lot of racism has come up. He’s cooled down as the presidency has gone on though.”

“President Trump made some mistakes but I’m sure it will get better. But, I also think we should impeach him if it gets worse.”

“I don’t like Trump because he’s overly aggressive and does things spontaneously,”

“I don’t care about politics until I can vote. He did a lot of stuff and was very active in what he did, and I was impressed with how active he was in what he did.”

7TH GRADE

8TH GRADE

7TH GRADE

8TH GRADE

8TH GRADE

SPENCER GREISS 6TH GRADE

“I don’t think he’s doing very well. He’s not very smart, and he’s making enemies with other countries, like North Korea.

AALOK BHATTACHYRYA 7TH GRADE

“I think his tax cut on the middle class is not good. He’s not coming up to his promise of building a wall between Mexico and U.S., and I don’t like him, but he’s our president and there’s nothing we can do,”


8 Ursus

Features Friday, December 15, 2017

Untold Feats of Teachers Rachalle Ubaldo STAFF WRITER

PUT

Standing right in front of you are teachers who not only know a lot about their subject, but have done some pretty cool things that they don’t often share with students. So we thought we’d turn this into a game. On the line next to their story, write the corresponding letter of the pictures below.

THIS

ON OR I Y TAKE AWA YOUR

PHONE FOR A WEEK!!!!

1.

This teacher traveled around the world after college.

2.

This teacher played the national anthem at Shea Stadium where the New York Mets played.

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This teacher walked 15 feet on burning hot coals while barefoot without getting a single blister.

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This teacher removed the brains from people who were no longer living and brought them to Harvard for research.

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This teacher was on the rowing team for his/ her high school in Pennsylvania.

6.

This teacher has a famous family member. When he was a kid he had a basketball court on his driveway and his younger cousins would come over and play on the basketball court. They were both really good but one of them grew extremely tall and ended up playing in the NBA for nine years. Search up the name Marty Conlon, he’s my irst cousin.

7.

This teacher swam with nurse sharks and stingrays at Shark-Ray Alley in Belize.

8.

This teacher has been skydiving with his wife.

B.

A.

Traveling with Parents STAFF WRITER

December break is almost here! This is the time when BMSers are out of the classroom and in vacation mode. Yes the trips are fantastic, but to be honest there is a slight downside. Parents. We all love them, but sometimes they can be a bit much for we middle schoolers looking for our own relaxation. Here are three parent troubles to look out for and perhaps a suggestion or two on how to deal. The Overprotective Parent When traveling, parents always ind something safetywise to remind you about; whether it’s fastening your seatbelt, slathering you in sunscreen, or holding your hand when you cross the street. If those don’t sound like your parents, there is more: swimming in waves an inch too tall or walking close to the edge of a path. Parents are always making sure you’re safe and sound. You may feel like they are treating you like a little kid, but they always have your best interest at heart. Keep in mind that if you happen to get hurt, medical care is not as strong in some countries outside of the United States, and your parents might not want to take that risk. Also, in places closer to the equator, the sun is stronger which makes it extremely important to wear sun sunscreen. So on this one, our advice is to do as they say, because they’re just

making sure that you stay safe. The Shutterbug Standing in front of statues. Click. Staring at paintings. Click. Wading into water. Click. Every moment of every vacation day they love to capture us on camera. It may be a sel ie, portrait, or landscape. Parents love to take pictures while traveling for scrapbooks, but the cloud works too. Almost every parent has gone through this phase, but not all will admit it. Climbing up a light of stairs? Click. Walking through a hallway? Click. In case you forget a single moment of your trip, no need to fear. It’s somewhere buried among your parents thousands of photos. We recommend to just pose for the photo. It will be over with faster and you can get back to the sites. The Communication Blackout Parent To get the full cultural experience, your parents may ask you to go unplugged. No Snapchat. No Instagram. No Facebook. No phone. Many kids complain about this tactic, but parents may be onto something. In some parts of the world, people are still off the grid. You may think that it is enough to just know this, but it’s completely different to experience it. You may hate your parents for it, but they are just trying to help you connect to the real world. Our advice is to just hand over your phone. Who knows, you just might learn something.

Mr. Timothy Lyons

Mr. Daniel Barbierro

C.

D.

Mrs. Colleen Rondon

Ms. Samantha Gettings

F.

E.

Mrs. Laurie Gray

Mr. Stephen Rexford

H.

G.

Mr. David Deitch

Mrs. Sarah Harding

ANSWERS IN ORDER FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: 1.E, 2.A, 3.G., 4.C, 5.H., 6.B, 7.D., 8. F.

Naomi Rosen


Games

Ursus

9

Friday, December 15, 2017

Our Obsession with Social Media

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This teacher is always in the halls if you need a good laugh. He can be found near a downstairs pod that is the color of being environmentally friendly. Can you guess this BMS teacher from the picture and his answers to these “Coke or Pepsi” questions?

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ACCOUNT BLOG CHAT COMMENT FACEBOOK FILTER FLICKR FOLLOW FRIENDS GIF

REPLY RETWEET SELFIE SNAPCHAT SUBSCRIBE TUMBLR TWITTER VIDEO VINE WHATSAPP

HASHTAG INSTAGRAM LIKE LINKEDIN MEDIA MYSPACE OOVOO PINTREST PROFILE REDDIT

Learning Walks

1. Chemistry or biology? Chemistry 2. Cat or Dog? Dog 3. Ecology or Physics? Ecology 4. Left or right? Left 5. Test tube or beaker? Beaker 6. Baseball or Football? Baseball 7. Middle east or Europe? Europe 8. Synthetic or natural materials? Natural 9. Breakfast or dinner? Dinner

For answer, go to ursus.news!!

Help Snowfia the snowflake navigate the winds! We need her to get to Westport so we can have a snow day!

continued from page 1

START

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“This was the big ah-ha moment when staff were taught, and began to realize this,” said Dr. Rosen. When classrooms fall on the right side of the rubric, this means that they are “making meaning,” and this is known as the “rigor divide.” The goal for classrooms is to have 20 percent of the tasks be highly engaging learning. Dr. Rosen explained that learning walks have three rules: Do no harm, No interrupting and don’t make teachers or students feel as if they are being criticized. Have fun: Enjoy the opportunity to look and analyze learning, without being responsible for any students. No feedback: This is a process of self -re lection, it is all about professional development. Dr. Rosen concluded, “Learning walks focus directly on professional development; they are not for evaluating teachers.”

E

Julia Berg

FINISH


10 Ursus

A&E Friday, December 15, 2017

The Wait for ‘The Last Jedi’ is Over

The Force is Strong in this Franchise Finnegan Courtney STAFF WRITER

Star Wars! A franchise that started decades before we were born and will be remembered for decades to come. But this year the excitement from fans is at an all-time high as not only the new movie “The Last Jedi” arrives on Dec. 15, “Star Wars: Battlefront II” comes out along with tons of new toys. “The Last Jedi” is a sequel to “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,” released in 2015. These two movies are the third part of the sequel trilogy that follows the original six ilms. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” made over $2 billion worldwide and is one of the highest grossing movies in North America and the world. It also got strong reviews from fans and critics and the expectations are even higher for “The Last Jedi.” Fans want a great movie and this ilm with a budget over $200 million only serves to ramp up expectations even higher. Along with the movie, a new game has been released, “Star Wars: Battlefront II.” The irst iteration, Star Wars: Battlefront was a colossal success and was released in 2015. In the game, you can play story mode, battle online in multiplayer mode and battle your friends with iconic Star Wars characters. The game was released in November and sales and reviews are decent for the next big game, where you can play as old characters like Han Solo or new characters like Finn or Rey. And many will be opening Christmas and Hanukkah Lego kits over the holidays. One thing is sure for BMS fans: this holiday season will be spent in a galaxy far, far away.

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In “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi,” Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, continues to develop her powers to battle the New Order.

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New Star Wars toys are released to add to the frenzy that occurs when a new Star Wars movie is released and also,to bruise the wallets of parents.

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Star Wars: Battlefront II has been one of the most highly anticipated games of the holiday season and it’s sure to be high up on fans wish lists.

Marvel v. DC: Superheroes Battling for your Attention Lucia Wang and Lyah Muktavaram STAFF WRITERS

DC and Marvel are among the highest tiers of pop culture, entertaining fans of all ages. While originally comics, these companies are now raking in billions of dollars with their movies and product licensing. Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” and DC’s “Justice League” are no exception; both released this past November. These new movies have added to the ongoing competition between DC comics and Marvel. “Thor: Ragnarok,” having come out on Nov. 3, is the third ilm in the Thor series. The story is that Thor, the god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth) inds himself imprisoned on a distant planet. While he faces the threat of death, he comes across his old friend the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). While they get reacquainted, the evil goddess of death Hela (Cate Blanchett) ravages Asgard, Thor’s homeland. His brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) also appears, in addition to a scene starring Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The director, Taika Waititi said to Business Insider that “We were just doing whatever we felt we wanted to see in the ilm.” Creating unconventional scenes for a superhero ilm, the movie turned out to thoroughly please the audience. Marvel Comics, founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman, is a series of comics featuring popular superheros. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company bought the Marvel for $4 billion. Like DC, Marvel has

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Above, DC’s Justice League and left, Marvel’s Avengers. Both franchises battling non-human creatures to save the world and earn your money. .

produced several popular movies, such as the “Captain America: Civil War” franchise. From the DC comics, “Justice League” was released on Nov. 17. It takes place after the events of “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” The ilm was directed by Zack Snyder who has directed many DC movies in the past. The movie starts with the death of Superman, and so Bruce Wayne and ally Diana Prince are attempting to put together a team of other heroes (or metahumans, according to the ilm). The team consists of Superman (Henry Cavill), Bat-

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man (Ben Af leck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), all who have featured in DC ilms already. The heroes must ight to save the planet from Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and come across many dif iculties in the path. It will also debut the following, aside from their respective short scenes in BvS: the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). They must, as expected, save the planet from an enemy who has returned to earth, greater than ever seen before. Justice League worked with a budget of $300 million, making it one of the most

expensive ever released. Sets were created in Iceland, London, and Scotland. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has a rough recent history, including “Suicide Squad” which received a 26 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with a 27 percent. Both of them had just over 60 percent from the audience. However, the recent Wonder Woman is acclaimed as one of the best action ilms from this past summer, competing against Marvel’s “Spider-man Homecoming” which was also highly praised. The franchise is known to have a signi icantly darker aesthetic than Marvel. DC has several ilms planned for the upcoming years, including Aquaman in 2018, the Flash with “Flashpoint” in 2020 and Cyborg also in 2020. In addition, “Justice League Part Two” will be released in 2019. Students at Bedford have their opinions on the ilms. James Dobin-Smith, a seventh grader, said, “The old DC movies used to be good, but now they’ve turned really bad. They might take a turn for the better with the Justice League, though. So, I prefer Marvel.” Other students who prefer the DC movies tend to take a liking to Superman and Batman. Overall, the new releases of the movies have added to the already suspenseful world of the superheroes. Though there is competition between the DC and Marvel Comics, the superheroes themselves, have never been better.


A&E

Ursus

Friday, December 15, 2017

11

Bedford Acting Group Follows the Yellow Brick Road Paige Farlow

STAFF WRITER

The most recent Bedford production was of the Wizard of Oz, an impressive show that the took time and effort of many seventh and eighth grade students. The students practiced almost everyday for three hours after school, working on their singing, acting, and dancing to put on a breathtaking performance for other students, parents, and faculty at Bedford. The original Wizard of Oz was produced on August 25, 1939. When a tornado rips through Kansas, a young girl, Dorothy, and her dog, Toto, get swept away in their house to a land of wonder and magic, known as Oz. They go on a journey to the Emerald City, hoping to ind the great and powerful wizard of Oz to take them back home. Though she got interrupted numerous times to help others who joined her on her magical adventure to the Emerald City, she gained four great friends who helped her along the way; the brainless scarecrow, the heartless Tin Man, and the cowardly lion. In order to get the wizard’s help, they had to complete “one simple task”: get the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. From the long rehearsal hours to the excitement the actors feel when on stage, it creates friendships between the cast. “You become family with the rest of the cast and, by the end of the play, you’re not just playing best friends on stage, you really have become that close with these people,” said 8th grader Ally Schwartz who played the Tin man on the Friday night show, along with Saturday matinée. The crew put in a lot of time creating the set of the play, along with the costumes that really brought the show together. “It was very busy getting ready for the show, and dancing takes an insane

Colin Konstanty, Chloe Manna, and Ally Schwartz pick up apples as well as applause. amount of time,” said Ms. McCormick. There is a lot going on during the show; you are always excited and at the edge of your seat. “The cast, crew, costumes, and makeup all worked together and gave 110% to create something so amazing! Everyone involved was so kind and supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!” said Chloe Manna who played Dorothy on Friday night, along with Saturday matinée. The Wizard of Oz actors felt alive when they were on stage acting. “It was the best show that I’ve ever done at Bedford, and I had so much fun. As soon as I got on stage, I felt the en-

ergy in the room and just became the Scarecrow,” said by Colin Konstanty, the Scarecrow in the Friday night show and Saturday matinée. “Being on stage was awesome because you were in the spotlight and the whole cast and crew were fun to be around. It was a great middle school show for me,” said Jack Edwards, who played the Lion. The last time the Wizard of Oz production was done at Bedford was during the 1990s. For past years, the music has been alive during the shows. This is the irst year doing the show with a recording and it has been a success. Everyone worked hard to put on the show, and it blew everyone away.

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McKenzie Didio’s performance complimented by great pyrotechnics.

‘Stranger Things’ Leaps Out of the Upside Down and into Middle Schoolers’ Lives Finnegan Courtney and Betti Kobak STAFF WRITERS

“Stranger Things” seems to be a fan favorite for teenagers and adults everywhere, but what makes this television show so extraordinary that makes it a global phenomenon? “I like it because it’s exciting and that makes me want to watch more,” said seventh grader Elliot Klein. “Stranger Things” was written by the Duffer Brothers. The irst season aired on July 15, 2016 on Net lix. Viewers of the show could not get enough, and were constantly waiting for the new season to arrive. Season two recently aired on October 27, 2017 on Net lix as well. What makes this show so compelling is the concept of science iction involved. There is a supernatural element to an ordinary town in Indiana. The plot takes place in 1983, and for middle schoolers, the show has a special connection. “The main characters look like us and do stuff we would do,” said seventh grader Ty Levine. The main characters are four teenage boys who are best friends, Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Mike Wheeler (Finn

The stars of the show are middle schoolers, which makes “Stranger Things” relatable to many at Bedford.

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Wol hard), and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb Mclaughlin). One day, Will Byers mysteriously goes missing and it is up to the three boys to ind him. Along their journey, they meet a strange girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Eleven has powers, and you know when she uses them because her nose starts to bleed. The boys are convinced that she is connected to the disappearance of Will, so they ask her to help them. What these kids do not realize is how much trouble they will be getting themselves into, and that inding Will just might lead to them seeing some unimaginable things. Season two takes place one year after season one. Just when no one thought season one could be topped, the release of season two found a way. New characters were introduced and the plot continued. The only question now is, when will season three appear on Net lix? Season three drops in the summer of 2018, so there is a long break in order to catch up and watch the irst two seasons. “Stranger Things” shows adults a glimpse of their childhood, kids a glimpse of the past, and the world a glimpse of Demigorgons, mysteries, Eggos and an incredible show for all ages to see.


Sports

Friday, December 15, 2017

Students Drawn to Fencing’s Physical, and Mental Demands “Most people do not understand the culture of fencing and how special it is.”

Henry Carson STAFF WRITER

Fencing is a sport truly like no other, with risky strategies, historical backgrounds, and whacking people with a sword. Fencing has been around ever since it was irst used in military training, but recently, this unique sport has been struggling to ind its ways into the halls of our school. Anna Pan, an eighth grader in the Red Pod, started her journey as a fencer six months ago after seeing her sister fence. She was “intrigued by the idea off h tting somebody with a sword.” So far hi ssh he ha has competed in three tournaments, and d iss ho op ping to move onto level E. Fencing is i catteeggor o iz ized ed in alphabetical levels, similarr to how w martial arts are ranked by belt color. “I think of it as a uni niq qu ue sport,” says Anna. “Although musclles aarre he helpful, having a strategic mind is mo orre re im mpo port rtant.” Anna also has to it this four-d day y-aa week activity into her schedule, alongg with archery and string chamber. Before, she also did Kung Fu, dance, tennis, and swimming. Fencing has been at every Olympic games since the 1896 Summer Olympics, and has varied to three modern forms of fencing, épéé, sabre and foil. “I practice every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for an hour and a half each,” says PJ Loranger, sixth grader in the Red

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Anna, besides fencing, also enjoys archery and music.

Jim Roberts, Fair ield Fencing Academy

Pod, who decided the year before last to become a fencer. PJ and Anna both go to clubs to practice all year round. PJ goes to the Fairield Fencing Academy, as there are no fencing programs in Westport. While some fencers still dot the area of Westport, fencers are rare, and fencing is not regularly advertised as an option in Westport athletics. This seems like a strange surprise, as Staples athletics covers sports like squash, water polo, and skiing. Fencing equipment, which you can buy from professional stores or on Amazon, costs about the average of other sporting equipment, or even less. This lack of education for the sport is one of the reasons it is not so popular around town. “Fencing is de initely not receiving public attention that is deserves” says Jim Roberts, manager of Fair ield Fencing Academy, “Most athletes gravitate

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Foil:

A foil is one of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing, all of which are metal. It is lexible, rectangular in cross section, and weighs under a pound.

towards the big sports mostly because of the access to it and the revenue that is generates” One of the only places in Westport to have a fencing team is Greens Farms Academy, with their varsity co-ed team lead by coaches Jesse Robinson and Matt Steinschneider. Yet, the town, and Fairield County as a whole, is missing out on the opportunity to expand its athletic horizons. “Most people do not understand the culture of fencing and how special it is,” Mr. Roberts says. “Fencing is a great sport for discipline and can offer so

Épée: A sharp-pointed dueling sword, designed for thrusting and used, with the end blunted, in fencing. Sabre: One of the three weapons of modern fencing, and is alternatively spelled saber in American English.

Moves

Referee calls

En garde: French for “on guard”, the position that fencers take before a bout begins or after a break in the action.

Red card: A penalty card from the referee signifying a penalty hit has been charged against a fencer for a rules violation.

Parry:

Thrust:

A defensive action where a fencer blocks his opponents blade To extend the arm and sword toward the opponent.

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Anna Pan doing a sport that has struggled to have popularity in Fairϔield, County. much more in growth of both young minds and seasoned minds as well.”

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Right of way: A rule established to eliminate virtually simultaneous attacks between two fencers in foil or sabre by allowing a referee to determine who was on offence at that moment and had “right of way” to score a point.

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Fencing still sticks with PJ throughout the day.

A Unique Sport Few Know About Equipment

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Jocelyn Kessler STAFF WRITER

Match rules Bout:

A contest in its entirety between two fencers.

Double hit: Successful contact with the sword by both fencers within .04 of a second, counted only in epee competition. One-meter penalty: A penalty where the action is moved a meter further back on the piste for the offending fencer before a bout is restarted.

December 2017  

Bedford Middle School's student newspaper

December 2017  

Bedford Middle School's student newspaper

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