Fantasy Supreme Court prepares students for AP exam

Approaching the Advanced Placement exam, the AP United States Government class is participating in a fantasy Supreme Court league.

AP U.S. Government teacher Jennifer Coleman hopes that the fantasy league will help students grasp a better understanding of how the United States federal court system works.

“For AP test, we focus a lot on past Supreme Court cases, so I thought that paying close attention to the current court would help prepare the class,” she said.

Coleman stated that the present judicial system is changing precedents set by their former counterparts, making it an ideal time to study this branch of government.

“We have a Supreme Court right now that is making monumental decisions that could affect the rights of all U.S. citizens, especially students,” she said.

According to junior Tyler Quade, the league is educational, yet still fun.

“The league makes you do a lot of research. It is important to know all of the justices and their opinions or rulings on past cases,” he said.

Participants are expected to make accurate predictions for each justice of the Supreme Court, on whether he/she will overturn or uphold the decision made in a lower court.

The class has been predicting outcomes of a select few cases such as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch.

According to Coleman, the winner of the league will receive bonus points on their next test. That being said, the league is not just restricted to students.

“Our league is specifically students in the class, but I also opened it up to any faculty who wanted to join. Anyone can participate in a league, ours is exclusive [to members of the class] though,” she said.

Junior Nathan Evans found that the idea has helped bring excitement to an otherwise bland topic.

“The fact that some extra points are at risk really helps get everyone involved. I have found that it encourages me to learn more about the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said.

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School readies new schedule for next year

Changes to the high school class schedule will take effect for the 2015-2016 school year. The schedule will continue to rotate but in two different segments, according to Principal Patricia Puglisi. “We’ll be locking the beginning of the day,” she said. The last four blocks of the day will be the other locked section, according to Puglisi. “Class periods will still remain the same amount of time, and we’ll still have A through G. The only difference will be that the blocks don’t rotate all the way through the day. The first three blocks will be an A, B, and C rotation, and the afternoon classes will also rotate with each other,” Puglisi said. The two separate rotating blocks will allow the school to hire more part-time teachers. “[The schedule change] gives us the opportunity to more easily hire part-time staff,” Puglisi said. Regarding the addition of part-time staff members, French teacher Erin Fortunato said that the change would make scheduling easier for prospective part- time staff because they would hypothetically be able to schedule their classes in one of the two rotating sections. “It would just make it easier for a person to have a part- time position. The change is in the hopes that we will be able to find a part-time teacher, which is already difficult as it is,” Fortunato said. There are some challenges that the school will have to overcome as a result of the changes to the schedule. “We’re separating our staff from the middle school, so there are two challenges that we’ll face; we’ll need to hire additional 0.6 teachers, and also music will still be shared [with the middle school],” Puglisi said. Although the schedule will have logistical benefits for the school, junior Nathan Evans said that he thinks the system will be difficult to grasp at first. “It’s always hard to learn a new schedule, and I think it will be especially difficult for high schoolers who are used to the current schedule,” Evans said. Junior Chris Milne also brought up a possible fallback to the new schedule plan. “It definitely might be difficult to go through difficult classes when they are only in the morning and before lunch. I feel like kids will constantly be tired so grades might be worse in the morning classes,” he said. The bell schedule will be reevaluated for after next year’s trial year, according to Puglisi.

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‘McFarland, USA’ tells inspirational true story of underdog track team

  “McFarland, USA” shows Disney’s ability to take a true story and transform it into something meaningful for viewers.

The movie opens when Jim White, played by Kevin Costner, moves with his family to the poor, largely Mexican-American town called McFarland when he loses his previous job as a football coach.

He gets a new job at McFarland High school teaching P.E. and a science class.

White learns that high school boys in McFarland have to work in the fields to support their families, and he notices that they have developed fitness from running to and from school as well as from working in the fields. He therefore decides to start a cross-country team that helps the teenagers free themselves from their difficult lives.

The team encounters many obstacles in the sport that is predominantly run mostly by wealthier white schools.

Although the film follows the predictable underdog sports movie theme, director Niki Caro still manages to keep viewers interested.

She incorporates comedy into the movie to give it the light tone of a typical Disney movie, often humorously portraying at the family and food-oriented Mexican culture.

Sub-plots within the film help to excite the audience. The movie is not entirely about the cross-country but also about the lives of the team members within the poor agricultural town.

The acting in the film is satisfactory; however, it is Kevin Costner who brings the film to life.

His sincere performance in the role of the relentlessly determined coach entertains viewers while keeping emotionally invested.

The film also includes a strong performance from Carlos Pratts, who plays Thomas, the top runner on the team. Although Pratts is not a well-known actor, his ability to put emotion into his role enhances the film.

While the plot line for the movie may not be anything outside of the typical sports film, the underlying themes of racial and economic inequality within sports shine through to differentiate it from the rest.

“McFarland, USA” is rated PG by the MPIAA for violence and harsh labor conditions.

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Students represent Manchester Essex at All-State Concert

By Maura McCormick:

Junior Sara Rhuda and senior Tucker Evans took part in the All-State concert at Symphony Hall on Mar. 21.

The performance required two days of preparation. Rhuda and Evans left school early Thursday morning and practiced all day at the World Trade Center in Boston on Thursday and Friday.

According to Rhuda, the practices took all day with a few short breaks.

“The rehearsal schedule was strenuous, but our director was very understanding and gave us 20-minute breaks when he felt we needed them,” she said.

The director of the concert this year was Rollo Dilworth, a professor of choral music education and chair of the Department of Music Education and Therapy at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia. 150 of his compositions and arrangements have been published, as well as various books about choral singing.

“He is basically famous in the choral world,” Rhuda said.

Evans, who has now attended three All-States concerts, said Dilworth was his favorite conductor.

Choral director Donna O’Neill was also impressed with the director.

“Hearing high school students perform at that level under the leadership of such phenomenal talent is tremendously gratifying. I am so happy that some of our students get that opportunity,” O’Neill said.

The chorus performed five different pieces, one of which was composed by Dilworth himself.

“The repertoire was unbelievably challenging and extraordinarily well-done,” O’Neill said.

Rhuda said the music was more complex than the music she is used to in chorus class.

“There were a lot of weird rhythms and phrases that were extremely difficult and required intense focus and practice,” Rhuda said.

Evans said the more challenging music forces the group to work harder but also makes the experience more fun.

Rhuda and Evans also brought warm-ups and techniques they learned at All-States back to the high school chorus, according to O’Neill.

Rhuda said her favorite part of the experience was meeting new people with similar interests.

“Everyone at All States was extremely kind, and I felt so lucky to be able to bond with them over the fantastic music we were singing,” she said.

Upcoming choral and band events at the high school include the Spring Concert on April 16 and A Cappella Night April 27.

O’Neill stressed that she hopes to see a lot of students going out to support the chorus and Soundwaves.

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Unjustified presence of Islamophobia in the U.S. increases, negatively affects Muslims

Following recent terrorism attacks spanning the globe, more and more people have become increasingly afraid of the Muslim population, a fear that is unjustified.

Islamophobia, prejudice or hatred against members of the Muslim community, is especially on the rise in America.

The fear that Americans have of Muslims stems from the fear of terrorist attacks; however, data from the FBI shows that Islamic extremists committed only 6% of all terrorist attacks in the US between 1980 and 2005.

Americans do not have an adequate amount of information to make judgments about members of the Islamic faith. The Arab American Institute reported in 2014 that 52% of Americans felt that they did not know enough about Islam and Muslims.

The existence of this prejudice cannot be denied, and it has made lives of Muslims living in the US become increasingly difficult.

Data from a Gallup.com poll in 2010 shows that about 60% of Muslims living in America feel that non-Muslim Americans are prejudiced towards them.

Islamophobia is a form of racism, and Muslims face daily difficulties of racial profiling and snap judgments from those around them.

Gallup.com also reported that about 28% of Muslim students in the New York public school system in 2010 reported being stopped or searched by police officers due to what they considered racial profiling.

BuzzFeed recently released a video in which four non-Muslim women were asked to wear hijabs, a headscarf typically worn by Muslim women, for a day. The video depicts the daily struggles and prejudices that Muslim women face.

One participant said in the video that she “felt the need to be weirdly smiley and really nice.” Another was patted down more than normal at the airport, and all the women felt like they were stared at by strangers throughout the whole day.

The four women were not even Muslims, yet they were still victims of snap judgments and misconceptions from the American population just because they were wearing something that a Muslim woman would typically wear.

It is time for people, especially Americans, to realize that members of the Muslim of the population need to be accepted into society rather than fall victims of prejudice.

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What to read, watch, and listen to

What to Watch: “Something the Lord Made”

By Courtney Fraser

The hard-hitting film, “Something the Lord Made,” tells the true story of two medical pioneers, one celebrated and one overlooked, and their road to making medical history. Alfred Blalock, played by Alan Rickman, is chief surgeon at Johns Hopkins University during the 1930s when he meets the local carpenter Vivian Thomas, played by Mos Def, who expresses a strong passion for medicine. Despite facing harsh discrimination and the absence of enough money to afford college, Vivian works alongside Blalock as a lab assistant where they progressively develop a technique that allows them to correct a common congenital heart defect in children. The G-rated drama that was released in May of 2004 stresses the importance of determination and bravery as Vivian Thomas defies the norms in society by facing segregation head-on. The moving film strongly represents passion and drive as viewers watch Thomas refuse to accept defeat. Director Joseph Sargent powerfully highlights the struggles Vivian encounters and his charismatic character that evolves over time.

 

What to Listen to (Album): “Racine Carré”

By Courtney Fraser

Rising star Stromae is a Belgian vocalist, songwriter, and producer whose music intertwines hip-hop with the calm rhythms of house and several other variations of electronic music. In Aug. of 2010, Stromae’s popularity reached its peak when collaborations with Kanye West began with a remix to his popular song “Alors on Danse.” Released from his globally popular 2013 album “Racine Carré” was Stromae’s hit song “Papaoutai.” As the lead single from his second studio album, the song reached number one in Belgium and France following its release. The upbeat tune and steady beat keep listeners in tune as the song gradually explodes into a passionate and energetic rhythm. The French song speaks from the perspective of both a child and an adult as the child struggles to understand the responsibilities fathers have to their children.

 

What to Read: “Night Road” by Kristin Hannah

By Courtney Fraser

Night Road is an emotionally driven novel that draws readers to question their opinions on identity, love, and forgiveness. The brilliant, heartbreaking story discusses the impact the main character, Lexi Baill, a former foster child with a dark past, has on the Farraday family as she falls deeply in love with Zach Farraday, the family’s only son . One night, however, Lexi must make a decision that will change the course of her life and deeply affect those around her. In the years that follow Lexi’s decision, she struggles to face the extreme consequences of that one summer night and find a way to forget what happened. The novel drives home the pain of loss and the amazing power of hope as Lexi strives to find courage in facing her mistakes. Kristin Hannah does an amazing job luring readers into Lexi’s life, showing readers the strength of courage and resilience during hard times.

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Science Department Removes Physics First

Twenty freshmen of the class of 2018 piloted the new science sequence arrangement, enrolling in biology as opposed to Physics First.

In 2008, the science department announced that all freshmen students should begin their high school careers taking Physics First to provide a solid introduction to basic physics.

Recently, however, the school staff expressed the idea that freshmen should enroll in biology as opposed to Physics First, essentially because Physics First isn’t considered a lab science by most top tier colleges.

High School Principal Patricia Puglisi reviewed the Course of Studies for students alongside several staff and faculty members prior to the 2014 school year.

“After surveying a variety of colleges, we found that most of the top tier schools require students to take three years of a lab science. Allowing our students to take biology freshman year provides most opportunity and greater offerings to students involved in science,” Puglisi said.

As eighth-grade students enter high school, they will be given the option of enrolling in biology or Foundations of Science and Engineering, a new class that was introduced in 2013.

Biology teacher Erica Everett expressed her opinion upon removing Physics First from the science department program.

“The advantage is that students would be able to gather their three lab sciences earlier on in their career, and they would have greater access to science electives,” she said.

Taking biology freshmen year would enable students to take the electives MERHS offers, which include anatomy, anthropology, robotics, ASR etc.

“This change isn’t tremendously dramatic. The Physics First program had its time at the high school. Kids are coming in more prepared from the middle school, and we need to keep up with their needs,” Puglisi said.

Freshman Chanel Bullock, one of the 20 students currently enrolled in biology, expressed her thoughts on taking the class a year in advance.

“I’m glad that I took the class earlier because I can fit more science classes into my schedule. When I grow up, I want to play a role in the medical field, so taking more science classes would be best for me,” Bullock said.

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Get immersed in “The Secret Life of Bees”

If you have been craving some warm, weather then imagine yourself in South Carolina, on a honey bee farm with a warm loving family of African American women and you have the basic plot line of “The Secret Life of Bees.”

“The Secret Life of Bees” is the story of a fourteen-year-old white girl named Lily Owen who runs away from her abusive father with her black nanny Roasaleen and finds safe haven in the large pink house owned by three African American women.

The story covers a wide spectrum of ideas about life and how people treat one another. Topics such as racism, feminism, and finding where one’s home is are greatly explored, leaving the reader feeling more whole yet entirely sad after finishing the book.

Throughout the story Lily learns to be a strong girl who follows her own path on how she views other people, black or white, and she works to overcome different social stigmas that are constantly being placed on the ones she calls family.

Although “The Secret Life of Bees” was written over 10 years ago by Sue Monk Kidd, the issues of racism that are seen in the stories setting of 1964 are still an issue in today’s time. The messages that the book can give about life are ones that anyone could benefit from.

In addition to the vague ideas that undercurrent the entire book, there is a ton of amazing imagery in describing the south and what surrounds Lily.

Whether Kidd is creating an image of the way the peach trees sway in the moonlight breeze or the happiness Lily feels when she smells pancakes cooking on the stove, Kidd delivers every word with a casual ease, which can bring the reader right into the scene.

Not only is the book wonderful unto itself, a movie was made in 2008 starring Dakota Fanning as Lily. The movie stays true to the book and leaves the viewer with a similar wholesome feeling and a desire to have some honey.

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Band students perform in Atrium at Montreal

By Courtney Fraser

Fifty-nine members of the high school band departed for Montreal, Canada on March 20 for three days at the Hotel Gouveneur Place Dupris.

Accompanying the students and band director Joseph Sokol were six chaperones and the tour escort, Peggy Williamson.

On Friday morning at 6:30, students boarded the busses, for a six-hour long ride to Canada where they explored the city and performed at Atrium Le 1000.

Upon their arrival in Montreal, the band began the concert at Atrium playing the “Star Spangled Banner,” followed by “O’Canada,” and ending with “Great Movie Adventures.” In total,  the students performed eight songs for the audience.

“It’s nice to have the whole group together to perform because it’s a memory. To have an opportunity to leave Manchester and to leave the country and to tour with all of your friends is a great time,” Sokol said.

Many of the students treasured the trip especially because it was the final trip their director, Sokol, will be taking because he is retiring at the end of the year. The trip to Montreal was marked to be his 12th trip with the high school band.

“This trip was really exciting because it was such a great group of people going, and the activities we did, like going ice-skating, were pretty fun. Since it was Mr. Sokol’s last band trip, we all were determined to make it memorable,” junior Molly Lynch said.

While in Montreal, the students and chaperones went on a sightseeing city tour, which lasted roughly two and a half hours, and had the opportunity to go shopping in the Old Montreal area.

Students were divided into two groups on the 21st where one group departed to see the Museum of Contemporary Art and the other left to go ice-skating at Atrium.

“All in all, the trip to Montreal was a great trip. Performing in front of a new audience from a different country was a fun experience. I hope to attend the trip next year too,” junior Gillian Guerin said.

The last stop the band students made in Montreal was to the Biodome and to the Olympic Tower.

 

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Thinking about going vegan

Although being a vegan can sometimes be connected with just eating pasta and foods that are unhealthy but are technically vegan, the Raw Till 4 form of veganism removes that dilemma.

Not only are the people on the Raw Till 4 diet not killing helpless animals, they are also making healthier eating habits that can change a person’s well-being for the long run.

On the Raw Till 4 diet, one can only eat raw foods such as fruits like apples, pears, pineapples and bananas – lots of bananas especially – and vegetables like cauliflower, spinach, and potatoes and many more.

Then, after four in the afternoon, they are allowed to eat something that requires some form of cooking but still fits under the vegan category.

The Raw Till 4 diet should be seen less as a quick solution to weight gain but more as a lifestyle. Those on it often talk of the difficulties in sticking to it in the beginning but after a while they will notice that they, “feel incredible, [that it] keeps their body in balance and harmony, and keeps their weight where they want it,” the Raw Till 4 website said.

While some critics of the diet such as Christopher Wanjek from Live Science may have said, “The most apparent problems are the nutritional deficiencies,” The Raw Till 4 diet removes the limited choices of foods that one can eat on a strictly raw diet.

Fad diets come in and out of style very quickly often because they do not work long term and when someone is on it they cannot enjoy themselves, but on the Raw Till 4 diet, the idea is less about being hungry all the time but instead being full on fruits and vegetables, according to the Raw Till 4 website.

With the vegan world becoming more front and center recently, many people in the blogging and YouTube world have joined in on this way of life.

Youtubers like Freelee the Banana Girl and Essena O’Neil talk lengthily on their channels about their experiences with Raw Till 4 diets and have “What I Ate Today” videos that go over all the fun ways one can enjoy vegan foods.

The more ideological side of the vegan diet focuses on having no animal byproducts, and there are a number of reasons for doing so.

Whether it is because humans do not really need animal products to begin with in their diet – think of gorillas – or because the idea of killing an animal even in a humane way is still a life taken, one who might start the Raw Till 4 diet for health reasons will then continue to do it for more moral reasons, like feeling bad for the horrific way the chickens are treated at factories.

Short documentaries and speeches can be found on YouTube as well. Some good ones to check out would be “101 Reasons to Go Vegan” and “If Slaughter Houses had Glass Walls.”

Both of these videos focus on the removing of animal products from one’s diet, and even if one is not thinking of becoming a vegan, the videos are still very informational as to where the meat people eat comes from.

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