Library passes create a nuisance

By Morgan Kennedy

In an attempt to control and keep track of students, a new library pass system was enacted over the past few weeks; however, this new method simply burdens study hall monitors and students alike. 

Five students from each study hall are allowed to go to the library. The new system requires each of these five students to have their own pass, signed by the study hall monitor. In some cases, three study hall classes are assigned to one teacher in a given block, forcing the monitor to write out 15 individual library passes.

Because of the unnecessary time taken to write out a pass for every student, the line to a study hall monitor’s desk is often out the door of the classroom. Students are stuck waiting in line for 10 minutes for a pass, while monitors waste just as much time writing them out.

Once students arrive at the library, they place their passes in a designated basket. This method might control the amount of students who get to the library, but it does nothing to stop them from leaving and wandering the halls. Just because a student places a slip of paper in the basket does not necessarily mean he or she is accounted for.

Requiring each student to have his or her own pass is contradictory to our “green” school values because at least 15 slips of paper are wasted every study hall.

The new system is also a nuisance for seniors who come to school late when their study hall falls during first block. Each senior checks in and gets a pass at the main office when they arrive at school, but if they wish to spend the rest of their study hall in the library, they must find their monitor and get another pass first. There is no difference between placing an office pass and a study hall pass in the basket, so both should be accepted in the library.

Under the old system, study hall monitors recorded who left the classroom and where they went, so aside from a massive increase in wasted time, not much has changed.

Allowing five students per pass would clear up classrooms quicker while still ensuring that everyone in the library is accounted for. Laminating and reusing library passes every block would improve the system as well, decreasing paper waste.

Krause said the new system is going well but recognizes that it creates more work for the study hall monitors.

“Ms. Hunt and I will meet and discuss how things are going at the end of the year,” she said. “We’re here to please, but we still need accountability.”

(0)

Freshman accepted to All-State chorus, will sing at Symphony Hall

Courtesy of Donna O'Neill
By Morgan Kennedy 

After being accepted to the Massachusetts Northeast Senior District Chorus in November, freshman Tucker Evans auditioned for and was accepted into the Massachusetts All-State Chorus.

  According to chorus teacher Donna O’Neill, Evans auditioned for the All-State chorus among 1,100 other students from across Massachusetts on Jan. 21 in Shrewsbury.

 Senior Savannah Repucci said Evans shows strong potential as a musician.

“It’s a big deal to get accepted into Senior Districts as a freshman, so to get an All-State recommendation and be accepted to the All-State chorus is a huge accomplishment,” she said.

According to O’Neill, she helped Evans prepare his audition piece, an early Renaissance song by Hans Leo Hassler entitled “Angelus and Pastores.”

“Tucker worked tirelessly on sight-singing and preparing his solo the last few days before his audition,” O’Neill said.

His All-State audition was made up of three parts including a prepared solo, vocal scales, and a sight-singing exercise.

Evans said he didn’t think his audition went well.

“I walked out of the room thinking it had been an awful audition. There were a lot of problems. The CD player broke during my solo, and the sight singing was not in the key I was expecting,” he said.

Despite these problems, Evans received a perfect score on his solo evaluation and impressively high scores for his scale evaluation and sight singing, according to O’Neill.

“I was super surprised when I found out I had been accepted,” Evans said. “I was kind of floating on a cloud for the rest of the day.”

Evans’ peers were equally as excited.

“We were all extremely proud of him when we found out. Everyone was rooting for him,” Repucci said.

As a member of the bass section of the All-State chorus, Evans will travel to Boston on March 1, stay in the Seaport Hotel, and rehearse at the World Trade Center, leading up to a performance at Symphony Hall on March 3.

O’Neill said Evans has worked hard to get to this point.

“He is absolutely driven to face new challenges,” she said. “His success comes from a unique and wonderful combination of innate talent and strong work ethic.”

(0)

Debate update: History department reforms system, incorporates debate into other classes

Courtesy of Taylor Coons

By Morgan Kennedy

Having taken over the debate program, the history department strives to create an environment where students “leave debate class feeling like they have learned something every day,” department chair Daniel Jewett said.

For the first time, the debate classes are all scheduled for the same block, and each is taught by a different history teacher, as opposed to a single debate teacher, according to Jewett.

“Four of us have worked very closely on the subject, but all six of us have studied it to some degree. It’s helped all of us grow professionally as teachers,” he said.

Initially taught according to grade level, teachers broke up the classes by category as time passed and people figured out what style of debate they were most interested in, according to Jewett. Classes are now categorized by Speech and Congressional Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and Public Forum Debate.

Lincoln-Douglas teacher Jennifer Coleman said Jewett taught the new teachers about debate over the summer.

“This is my first time teaching it, but I wasn’t thrown in cold turkey. We spent at least 20 hours learning about debate before school started. I feel confident, but I am someone who realizes that you learn something new every day,” she said.

Debate president Graham Shaw said the new system has been successful.

“The new debate program has proven itself to be versatile and fluid,” he said. “Having multiple teachers opens up new opportunities to practice and learn.”

Other students responded unfavorably to the reformed system.

“My biggest complaint is the grading system. It’s based on the class average of points earned at tournaments, but I think it would be better if x amount of points earned an A and x amount of points earned a B,” sophomore Landon Komishane said.

Sophomore Fiona Davis agrees.

“There are a lot of good things about the program. The teachers are using a really great method, but I think some things need to be tweaked. It’s hard to transition how you rank at a tournament to how you perform in class,” she said.

Senior Max Rodier is pleased with the new program. He said the system is very fair and the program is steadily improving.

“We are more successful than in past years. Everything is going in the right direction, which is a testament to the way Jewett took over and gave some organization to the program,” he said.

Jewett said the program requires hard work and an open mind.

Some students may have trouble adjusting to change when “you raise academic expectations and accountability,” he said.

He is also satisfied with the reformed system.

“In terms of something that has high expectations for student learning and is sustainable, I think it has been very successful,” he said. “Of course there are growing pains, but we have teachers who want to teach it again and students who want to take it again.”

According to Shaw, students have performed well so far this year.

“Upperclassmen and underclassmen alike have been successful at recent tournaments, and we hope this continues until the end of the season and into next year,” he said.

Jewett said the department is also working to incorporate debate practices into the regular history curriculum.

“We believe the debate model is valuable and we should be using it in our social studies classes. Many teachers in the department have already done so,” he said.

Congress teacher James Wallimann agrees that connections between classes are beneficial.

“I have incorporated debate into global issues and global issues into debate. We have built a foundation this year that is a recipe for success,” he said.

(0)

Lunch: Should students be allowed to leave? (pro)

 By Morgan Kennedy

Lunchtime is meant to be spent in the cafeteria, but as long as classes are not disturbed, nothing is wrong with escaping from the madness and volume of 100 hungry teenagers to get work done in the library.

Many students do not have the luxury of a study hall, and with demanding academic and extracurricular schedules, students often save a homework assignment for lunch block the following day. Just as often, students are forced to finish assignments in between lunch bells after waking up with a book on their face when exhaustion wins the fight against homework.

One might argue that work can be done in the cafeteria after eating lunch, but many students are without laptops, which eliminates the ability to do online work. The dining hall is not just a place to eat; it also serves as a social haven for students who haven’t seen their friends all day, and the nonstop noise makes it nearly impossible to focus on work.

The library is meant for student use, so even if kids don’t need to complete work, they deserve the right to use it as a place to relax in peace and quiet during lunch if they so choose. If students abuse the privilege by going anywhere other than the library, and seniors to the senior room, then they should lose it and receive detention, the current punishment for leaving the cafeteria during lunch.

Wandering the school and disturbing classes are not legitimate reasons to leave the dining hall, but if students are only going to the library and senior room, without causing any trouble on the way there, they should not be stopped from doing so.

By leaving the cafeteria students are unsupervised and unaccounted for; however, this is no different than a study hall. Once a student signs out to the library or the senior room, they can essentially wander to wherever they choose in the school.

Students are trusted to go only to the designated study areas, so why can’t this same system be applied to the cafeteria during lunch? If a student leaves lunch and causes a disturbance, the situation should be handled individually. Otherwise, they should have the ability to use the resources available to them when they are not in class.

(0)

College acceptances: Early applicants receive answers before vacation

Morgan Kennedy Photo

By Morgan Kennedy

With 84 acceptances to date, the class of 2012 is off to a strong start, according to guidance department director Sharon Maguire.

Early action and early decision applications are becoming increasingly popular, and Maguire said about 62 percent of the class applied somewhere early this year.

Guidance counselor Karen D’Amour said it is too early on to know if the amount of admitted students is comparable to past years but the counselors are “beyond thrilled with the acceptances so far.”

Senior Casey Weld applied early decision, a binding agreement that requires a student to attend the school if admitted. He applied and was accepted to Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif.

“I took a trip to the West Coast to visit some schools. When I saw Oxy, I stopped touring because I knew I loved it and wanted to go,” he said.

According to Weld, the application process wasn’t too stressful at first, but became increasingly nerve-racking as decisions started to come in.

Weld was taking a nap when his letter came in the mail.

“I woke up to my mom running in my room screaming with a letter that said ‘Welcome to Oxy’ on the envelope. I was a little disoriented at first, but I became progressively more excited as I woke up,” he said.

Once a student is admitted, he/she goes to the guidance office to share the good news, where the entire department “jumps up and down and gets very excited,” while the student makes a star to hang on the college board, D’Amour said.

Senior Melissa Moore applied early action to Yale and was deferred to regular action.

“Being deferred from a school like Yale was more exciting than it was disappointing,” she said. “The only downside is that I have to wait until April to find out if I get in or not.”

D’Amour said that deferred students should continue to work hard and send colleges updates of any new achievements to show they are still interested.

Maguire encouraged students to apply early action and early decision.

“It makes for an incredibly hectic September and October of senior year, but it’s well worth it to have an acceptance letter before winter break,” she said. “We are thrilled with the outcomes so far, because we know how hard the students have worked. Getting to see their faces when they know they are going to college is priceless. It’s what brings us to school every day.”

(0)

Day in the life of a drama kid: student prepares for opening night of ‘1776’

By Morgan Kennedy

Independent Editor

Run lines. Project. Move stage right. Cheat out. Take five. From the top. These are only few of the hundreds of phrases senior Savannah Repucci hears during a typical drama rehearsal.

According to Repucci, a day in the life of a drama kid is hectic and tiring, but fun and well worth the time.

Her usual day of rehearsal for the drama club’s upcoming musical “1776,” in which she plays John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, goes as follows:

2:15 p.m. Repucci grabs a quick snack and runs lines in the auditorium until rehearsal starts at 3.

3 p.m. Drama director Gloria Tanner addresses the cast about how the day’s rehearsal will run.

3:05 p.m. Warm up. “Often times we do a physical warm-up with things like stretching and jumping jacks to get our bodies moving. Then, we do a vocal warm-up led by our musical director Loli Marquez-Sterling,” Repucci said. “Finally, we do some tongue twisters to practice diction and projection when saying lines onstage.”

3:15 p.m. Run Act One. “The show opens with a big company number called ‘Sit Down, John.’ It’s my favorite part of the show, because I love the music and the energy that goes into it,” Repucci said. 

4:05 p.m. Break time. Repucci gets a drink of water and talks with her cast mates.

4:10 p.m. Run Act Two. “The second act requires just as much focus and energy, if not more than the first,” she said. “Things get pretty serious as the issue of slavery is addressed and the resolution on independence is voted on.”

4:50 p.m. The cast listens intently while Tanner gives notes on the rehearsal. “She gives us feedback on what worked and what didn’t, so we can improve the next time around,” Repucci said.

5 p.m. She heads home after rehearsal, ready for dinner and homework. “It’s not easy, but I get to be a part of something really cool, and it’s so exciting when it all comes together on opening night,” she said.

(0)

Heavy backpacks: Avoid oversized loads, prevent back problems

Morgan Kennedy photo

By Morgan Kennedy

Independent Editor

By monitoring their backpacks’ weights, wearing them correctly, and taking advantage of lockers, students can alleviate the stress and strain of constantly carrying a bag full of books.

Senior Jared LaFontaine said he often finds his backpack too heavy to lug around.

“The stairs are hard enough, and carrying an extra 20 pounds on my back definitely doesn’t make them any easier,” he said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a student’s backpack should never be heavier than 10-20 percent of his or her body weight.

In a school where the majority of backpacks are over 20 pounds, nurse Cindi Aldrich suggests using the four minutes between classes to drop some books in a locker.

“They may not be able to change what they have to take home, but in school, students could go to their lockers more often and avoid carrying around so many books. That is what the lockers are for, so kids should be taking advantage of them,” she said.

Constantly carrying a heavy backpack can cause muscle spasms and back pain; however, the real problem lies in the way students are holding them, according to Aldrich.

“Whether it’s full of books or not, if you’re not carrying it correctly, it will create strain,” she said.

According to Aldrich, backpacks are meant to be worn in the middle and top area of the back. Students tend to wear them much lower, which may result in low back pain.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said, “always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.”

Contrary to common belief, scoliosis is a genetic disorder and therefore cannot arise from backpack use; however, the body can be thrown out of alignment by incorrect wear, according to Aldrich.

“Wearing it on one shoulder can distort posture and hip alignment. It’s much safer to evenly distribute the weight between both shoulders,” she said.

(0)

‘Mylo Xyloto’ provides audiences with new, modern pop sound

By Morgan Kennedy

Independent Editor

With their fifth studio release, Coldplay uses a concept album to transition to a more mainstream, electronic-pop sound, but one no less entrancing than their previous works.

“Mylo Xyloto” follows two characters, Mylo and Xyloto, who meet and fall in love in oppressive Nazi Germany, according to releventmagazine.com.

The album’s first two singles, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Paradise,” provide catchy dance beats to draw in listeners.

The group makes a daring but successful choice to include guest vocals by Rihanna on their track “Princess of China.” The collaboration provides a smooth transition from Coldplay’s classic indie-rock sound to modern pop. 

Not forgetting their old ways, the band incorporates a few stripped-down ballads to the album including “U.F.O.” and “Us Against the World.” The latter is an inspirational song of hope and determination: “Tonight I know it all has to begin again / So whatever you do, don’t let go / Through chaos as it swirls / It’s us against the world.”

“Up with the Birds,” the album’s closing song, provides a happily-ever-after for Mylo and Xyloto. “A simple plot, but I know one day / Good things are coming our way.”

In an interview with nme.com, Bassist Guy Berryman said he is proud of the new release.

“We’ve been brave and bold with these songs. We approached it with a lot of confidence,” he said.

The risk paid off, revealing an exciting new side of the group.  Although the concept itself may be a bit weak and overdone, it creates an album that is relatable to all audiences and provides a perfect mix of dance beats and feel-good songs.

(0)

Summer volunteering provides experience in health science fields

By Morgan Kennedy 

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

Throughout the summer months, nine students gave their time to Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals as summer volunteers. 

According to Jane Karaman, manager of hospital volunteer services, seniors Maddie McNamee, Melanie Tognazzi, Eliza Rohner, Kirsten Coale, Lucia Ansara; juniors, Maggie Lehar, Ella Silag Sterns and Ivy Silag Sterns were among 90 student volunteers this summer.

McNamee volunteered to experience the health science work force.

“I am hoping to go into nursing or speech and language pathology, so it was a great opportunity for me,” she said.

Students volunteered three days per week covering 30 different departments, according to Karaman.

Tognazzi worked in a range of different units this summer.

“My favorite department was the child development center,” she said. “There was never a dull moment.”

Students who volunteered as patient assistants were sometimes faced with challenging situations, according to Karaman.

“They work the floors, talking and sometimes playing cards with patients. Some of the people they run into are very ill, which can be difficult, but I’m always touched with the stories they bring back,” she said.

McNamee was also challenged in Addison Gilbert’s senior adult unit.

“It was challenging to work with patients who were unsure of where they were or patients who had you trying to call family members for them,” she said. “Most of the time they didn’t know the phone number for their family or friends, so I would have to tell them I couldn’t get a hold of the person at the moment.”

Karaman enjoys seeing volunteers return year after year.

“I have some students for all four years of high school,” she said. “It’s fun to watch them grow up. A few students even volunteer during the school year if they’re not playing a sport at the time.”

Karaman encourages students to sign up in advance, as volunteer spots fill up quickly.

Tognazzi continues to volunteer a few hours a week after school, and McNamee plans to volunteer again next summer.

“It’s pretty difficult to fit it into my schedule now that school has started and I’m focusing on college applications, but I definitely plan on helping out next year,” she said.

(0)

Band members venture to Montreal for performance, tour during week in Canada

Led by director Joe Sokol, 64 band members traveled to Montreal, Canada on March 18 for a weekend trip and performance at the Olympic Stadium.

By Morgan Kennedy

INDPENDENT STAFF

  Led by director Joe Sokol, 64 band members traveled to Montreal, Canada on March 18 for a weekend trip and performance at the Olympic Stadium.

  According to Sokol, the band left Manchester on Friday at 6:30 a.m. and arrived in Montreal at 12:30 p.m.

  After arriving, the band ate lunch and prepared for a 40-minute set at the Olympic Stadium, home to the 1976 Summer Olympics.

  The band performed for passing tourists in the lobby of La Tour de Montréal, a tower at the Olympic Stadium, with a set of nine songs including “O’Canada,” “Eagle Mountain Overture,” and “A Beatles Medley,” Sokol said.

  According to senior Grace Gillette, the performance was a success.

  “We had a great concert this year. There were more fans than we expected, and Mr. Sokol was asked to sign his first autograph,” she said.

  According to Sokol, the rest of the weekend included various activities and tours. The group took a guided tour of Montreal on Saturday, and band members were given time to shop and eat lunch on their own afterwards.

  On Saturday afternoon, 10 students visited a museum with art teacher Marion Powers, a chaperone on the trip, while the rest of the group went ice skating.

  Junior Brianna Malik enjoyed the freedom to choose which activities she wanted to do.

  “I liked that we had options on this trip. Whether you went to an art museum or ice skating was entirely up to you,” she said.

  According to Sokol, other activities included dinner at a sugar shack and a visit to Montréal Biodôme to see animals in a variety of ecosystems.

  Gillette said the weekend was well spent.

  “The whole trip was a blast. We all had fun going out to dinner, walking around the city, and just hanging out in the hotel,” she said.

  Sokol said his favorite part of the trip was watching the students have fun together.

  “One night at dinner I looked at the students and thought, ‘This is what it’s all about, being together like this,’” he said. “The students are always practicing, and it was neat to kick back, have fun, and enjoy each other.”

(0)