December 23, 2015

Countless Students Offended by Language Arts Teacher’s Cruel and Unusual Behavior

Countless Students Offended by Language Arts Teacher’s Cruel and Unusual Behavior
Eran Shapiro ‘18
On June 26, 2016, GOA Language Arts teacher Mr. Hefetz, will be marrying his fiancee in the presence of his friends and family, but not his students. No, Mr. Hefetz gleefully and willfully chose to disregard the feelings of his hardworking students and elected not to invite any of them, even his favorites.
“This is a very touchy subject for me you know,” said sophomore Faye Hochberg.
“[Mr. Hefetz] and I we go way back. The fact that I wasn’t invited… it’s just very upsetting. I just hope we can remain friends and that if he is my teacher in the future it won’t be awkward.”
Some students were very critical of Mr. Hefetz’s character.
“I think that that’s really rude,” sophomore Carly Mast exclaimed.
Fellow sophomore Jessie Ruchman, chimed in, saying she feels “very disappointed, because as a student I feel that I have impacted Mr. Hefetz in a very positive way. And you usually invite people to your wedding when you are close family or friend, so...”
Not all students were in an uproar, however, and some even seemed to understand.
“I don’t really care; I’m not gonna lie,” said sophomore Yonatan Arieh. “It’s not my business to get into other people’s business.”
While the unsurprised students were definitely the minority, an even smaller minority are comprised of students that are convinced they are still attending.
“I am invited.” said senior Jonathan Lavitsky.
As he thought this statement over and realized the painful truth he swore, “I am going anyway.”
It seems confusion and heartbreak are running through the halls of GOA. The students just want an answer from Mr. Hefetz: Why are we not good enough?
The lesson to take away from all of this is that even if you think you know and love someone, they will undoubtedly shame you publicly and scar you forever.


Social Media Street Survey

Social Media Street Survey
Faye Hochberg ‘18

Social media at Golda Och Academy is on the rise. Students are constantly bombarded with a seemingly unlimited number of alerts from electronic devices, which are either positively or negatively affecting students’ lives.
One of the reasons social media, such as Instagram and Snapchat, attracts so many teenagers is simply because it is fun. For example, sophomore Shifra Zuckerman said she uses these apps because she “just wants to have fun with friends.”
For others it is also a great way to share their opinions.
“The point of my social media accounts were only to have fun and express myself in a cool platform,” sophomore Iris Berman said.
Another positive aspect of social media is that it can be used as a good vehicle for unwinding during downtime.
“It relieves my stress,” said sophomore Jessie Ruchman, “and [it] gives me a break from constantly doing work.”
However, there is a price to pay for the privilege of having fun. One of the most obvious negative aspects of social media for teenagers is the constant distraction it creates, as many students spend one or two hours on it everyday.
“Social media is one hundred percent a distraction from my homework,” added Zuckerman.
Berman goes even further by suggesting that social media is more than a distraction; it is also harmful to her performance in school.
Many students also experience regret after posting a picture or a comment.
“I have regretted my weird posts from my beginning days on the gram and I regret every post ‘cause they are weird and not clever,” sophomore Maya Robbins said.
In order to negate the negative aspects of social media use, students have devised effective methods to control their usage. In order to prevent distraction, for example, Zuckerman keeps her phone out of reach.
“When I have to do homework,” Zuckerman explains, “I must throw my phone to the other side of the room.”
Some students, like Ruchman, find it useful to set times for working while incorporating breaks in which they allow themselves to use social media. Former GOA student Ben Kubany uses an online program called “Self Control” which helps him block social media and stay focused on his homework. Berman, meanwhile, solved the problem by taking what some would consider the drastic step of deleting all of her social media accounts.
“They were too distracting and I realized that I didn’t care about 98 percent of the people that I followed,” she said. “It was a huge realization that hours of my life were dedicated to something that aggravated me.
“It’s been really positive for me and I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything… I am so much happier without social media.”
Even with all the available means of controlling social media use, some students, like sophomore Eran Shapiro, just prefer to remain passive. Shapiro said he prefers to do “nothing” and prefers to “just let it happen.”

Survey: Fairness of Amount of Each Class

Survey: Fairness of Amount of Each Class
Jessie Ruchman ‘18
Many students struggle to complete schoolwork due to the daily repetition of classes. One method of combatting this problem is utilizing a block schedule, which allows several days to complete work before the next class meeting. The efficiency of the block schedule at GOA, however, is still up for debate.
GOA students have a 10-day block schedule, where the number each class repeats during the block schedule differs depending on the courses the student takes as well as their grade. While each student has a different schedule, many have similar opinions on whether a block schedule is beneficial and whether the system is fairly structured.
Nine of 10 students polled responded that they should have more math and science classes per block, and fewer Judaic classes.
“We have our Judaic electives almost every day, but the classes that have much more work we only have a few times a week,” said freshman Aaron Lavitsky. “It would be so much better if we had more math and science classes so that our teachers would have more time to explain the material, and so we could spread out the work for the class instead of getting it all at once”.
While most freshmen had similar opinions on the topic, sophomores polled had a slightly different argument. These students believed there should be more core classes and an equal amount of each. Some sophomores elaborated, arguing that, while the idea of having more than one day to complete work is, in theory, effective, it is in fact inadequate.
“It is unfair to have a class four days in a row while other classes are spread out throughout the block,” said sophomore Samantha Glennon. “It gets confusing to keep track of when homework is due when all of our classes have different time between them.
“There is either too much time in between classes or not enough time. If each class was evenly spread out, students would be able to manage their time.”
Senior Veronica Slater, in her fourth year of block schedules, added an upperclassman perspective. Unlike the students in the other grades, she feels that the number of each class is fair, yet math should appear more frequently while Judaic electives should appear less frequently.
Although students across these grades believe math should occur more frequently, this issue is nonexistent for GOA’s juniors; most juniors have math four consecutive days per week. Although admittedly somewhat indifferent, junior Alex Brodsky pointed out that the amount of times he has math in a block is slightly excessive.

While it is almost impossible to please every student in a high school, this much is abundantly clear: GOA’s student body would prefer a more equal distribution of classes per block.

The Military Awareness Club: Marching Where Nobody Has Gone Before

The Military Awareness Club: Marching Where Nobody Has Gone Before
Kim Robins ‘17
Can you find Afghanistan, the country that receives $4 million of American military funds every hour, on an unlabeled map of the Middle East? According to a National Geographic survey, only 17 percent of teenagers in the United States can.
This alarming statistic illustrates the widespread ignorance surrounding issues that affect soldiers and veterans worldwide. GOA juniors Emily Blum, Adi Brickman and Nava Wasser, troubled by this obvious problem, created the Military Awareness Club this year to educate GOA students about the American and Israeli militaries.
All three girls are deeply impacted by soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice. They cite emotional videos of soldiers coming home as one inspiration for the Club’s activities ­and feel that the GOA community does not discuss soldiers enough.
“We definitely want to talk about the Israeli army, because our families and community have strong connections with soldiers and units in the IDF,” they explained. “That being said, it’s important that we create a balance between America and Israel.
“America, our own country, can be at war and we will completely ignore it. Soldiers are risking their lives. We should acknowledge and honor these men and women and do anything we can to help them.”
The MAC’s primary goal is educational. Blum, Brickman and Wasser want to raise awareness about the experiences of soldiers and veterans and the hardships that they face. Club members learn about life during and after military service through videos, group discussions, current events and soldiers’ personal stories. This education, the club’s leaders believe, will foster increased support of both militaries.
Despite scheduling and organizational difficulties, Blum, Brickman and Wasser said that “Students have responded positively to the club so far. They are definitely interested in learning about soldiers and the military and are engaged in the activities we plan.”
The MAC’s first major event was the Veterans’ Day Assembly, in which Col. Seth Milstein spoke to GOA students about his time as a Marine. Blum, Brickman and Wasser introduced Milstein at the assembly, met with him afterwards and led students in the Prayer for our Country.
“The assembly was a really meaningful experience for us,” the three girls reflected. “It was important to us that students met an American soldier on Veterans’ Day. We know that our classmates received the program well and we hope that after meeting Col. Milstein, other students see how important it is to learn about the military.”
In the near future, the MAC hopes to organize more fundraisers and other special events to support American and Israeli military units. They are planning a “green out” or a “red-white-and-blue out” as an opportunity for students to have fun while displaying their pro­-military pride.
Based on its success so far, the Military Awareness Club will be a very effective way to educate and engage students concerning the American and Israeli militaries. As Blum, Brickman and Wasser said, the MAC “is an amazing club discussing an important topic.
“Everybody should join us on Thursdays [week one] in Room 311!”


Matt Nadel ‘17

Standardized tests – they are a pain to take but every high school student that wants to go to college must take them. Two standardized tests dominate the college acceptance landscape: the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the American College Testing exam. Both the SAT and ACT are accepted by almost all colleges in the United States, but most students are still unsure which is the best exam to take.

Dr. Kanrich, GOA’s college guidance counselor, has a very simple solution to this decision.

“Strong students tend to do well on both exams,” Kanrich said. “Students who perform well in school, but are not good at taking standardized tests, tend to do better on the ACT.”

The ACT is generally the more popular of the two tests. Its questions require practical thinking and test students on subjects actually learned in school. The passages in the reading sections are generally easier to comprehend and the math is more advanced on the ACT than that on the SAT, but most people seem to perform better.

“The ACT is easier, plain and simple,” said senior Dylan Mendelowitz. “The SAT is much more complicated.”

Despite the SAT being much more complicated, people still like to take it. Its critical reading sections and vocabulary are challenging, but the test makes students focus on improving reading comprehension. The math section is also significantly simpler. While the ACT’s math includes calculus, the most demanding math problem on the SAT is an Algebra 2 problem.

“I took the SAT because it gave more time per questions and a greater opportunity to reason answers,” senior Andrew Schwartz said.

An important part of both tests is, like Schwartz explained, how much time students have to take each test. The SAT allows more time per question, providing students more time to either make educated guesses or decipher a tough answer, while the ACT gives students on average less than a minute to answer each question.

The SAT is changing, however, and no one really knows what to expect for the new test because it is still being created. In the meantime, students considering taking the SAT prior to the January 2016 alterations still have to decide whether to take the exam or select the ACT instead.

“Every student has strengths and weaknesses in different areas,” said guidance counselor Ms. Trinker thinks. “It is important to know yourself, recognize your learning style and make an educated choice.”


Feature: Nina Robins

Feature: Nina Robins
Maya Wasserman ‘19
The link between tennis and the Bible often goes completely unnoticed; however, there in black-and-white, it is written, “And Joseph served in Pharaoh's court.” GOA freshman Nina Robins, though, doesn’t just know about this link; she is living it.
A student at GOA since kindergarten, Robins has many loves – hanging out with friends, swimming and playing piano and trumpet, to name a few – but playing tennis is tops. She is widely recognized for her accomplishments as a key member of the girls varsity tennis team, which went undefeated in divisional play this year and will be moved up a division for the 2016-17 season.
“The team is super ­welcoming and everyone is so friendly,” Robins said. “The coach is so amazing!”
Among her accomplishments is her second-place finish in the Country Tournament. Robins attributes her success to her competitive nature and passion for the sport, alongside the support from her family and coaches.
“I played really well in my semi­final match so I was pumped going into the final, and it was an honor to play Stephanie [Schrage], so I just decided to have fun with it,” Robins said, remaining true to her “live in the moment” mantra.
Interestingly enough, this teen who excels at an individual sport loves the communal aspects of Judaism.
“I’ve grown so attached to Judaism through my exposure,” she said.
Robins expressed her favorite Jewish custom is Havdallah or anything involving a big group because she “like[s] the enthusiasm” and enjoy’s Judaism’s focus on community, taking action and being surrounded by outgoing people who are willing to help.
Given her strong stance on communal activities, Robins feels Tefillah at GOA needs to be more communal so students can bond with those outside of their “cliques.” She believes that praying in larger groups will build more enthusiasm toward prayer.
Robins reads Torah and is actively involved in United Synagogue Youth on both the chapter and regional level. She credits this to the immersion in Jewish life from her family; they go synagogue every Shabbat and chose GOA as well as Ramah in her early years. She imagines herself an observant Jewish adult, having been positively impacted by the Conservative Jewish Movement.
Robins also aspires to be an anthropologist and study Jewish archaeology, infusing Jewish ideology into her studies.
Robins would clearly be right at home in Pharoah’s “court.” Her practicality and sense of community would have been a great asset to Joseph’s rationing squad.

Street Survey: Extreme Room Temperatures

Street Survey: Extreme Room Temperatures
Sophie Goldman ‘19
Extreme temperatures inside the school building affect students and faculty, leading to disruptions and a lack of focus.
“The temperature of the school is uncomfortable, makes it hard to concentrate, and lowers the quality of the day.” freshman Sam Lurie said.
Many have noticed this issue and feel either freezing cold or boiling hot throughout the building. In most cases, this problem would be quickly resolved by changing the thermostat; however, this is not an option.
“Teachers have no control over [the] thermostat,” science teacher Ms. Sonet said.
In fact, locked boxes have been put around some thermostats to prevent changing the temperature. If temperatures need to be changed, it can only be done by a janitor via the computer system. Even though some students may agree with freshman Nina Robins, who said the temperature doesn’t affect her concentration in class, others find it a major distraction that diverts their attention off of their work.
“In Ms. Steinberg’s room, it was really cold, but then I was in room 314 and it was too hot and I had to take off my sweater,” sophomore Dina Doctoroff said. “I don’t want to have to worry about if I need a sweatshirt or not.”
Although it may seem minor, Doctoroff’s worries are shared by freshman Amanda Feldman. She feels she spends too much time in class worrying she will waste time by getting a sweatshirt and then loses her train of thought.
Normal activities as simple as sitting at a desk have become annoying for Ms. Sonet, who said she cannot grade in her own classroom due to the cold. On the other hand, Doctoroff said she spent a class standing next to the door in room 316 because it was too hot.
Sometimes, temperatures in the new multipurpose room have been so high that it is impossible to use the room. For Lurie, putting on tefillin when it is hot, but tolerable, in the room is very uncomfortable.
In addition, freshman David Wingens cites the science labs as a problematic area.
“When I’m in science,” he said, “sometimes it’s really cold and I can’t focus.”
When asked why the problem still continues, nobody seemed to know. According to Wingens, it has always been a problem.
The only solution, most students reported, is to wear layers. Ms. Sonet said sometimes she even offers her sweater to students in her room; however, there is no easy solution to the problem in cases where it is too hot.
It seems everyone has been disrupted by the extreme temperatures in some way. The temperatures cause problems which could be easily fixed with better temperature control, distracting students and teachers alike.
Until a proper solution is found, it seems there is no other choice but to listen to Ms. Sonet’s advice: “Be prepared.”

December 22, 2015

GOA’s Drama Queen

GOA’s Drama Queen
Faye Hochberg ‘18

Though you could never tell by looking at her, GOA Sophomore Rachel Berger was once a Muppet. At least, she pretended to be.
Berger, known for her talent in singing, dancing and acting, has been immersed in the world of the performing arts since she was a toddler. Her parents are both passionate about the arts - Berger’s mother toured with Sesame Street Live and performed as costumed characters at Great Adventure - and were eager to foster her budding interest in theater and music.
By the time she turned three, Berger was already taking dance classes and attending shows at the JCC. Her first moment in the spotlight came when she was five, as the aforementioned Muppet in the JCC’s production of ‘The Muppet Show.”
“I loved it, I was really happy,” Berger reminisced. “I loved being there and being on stage.”
“The Muppet Show” marked the beginning of Berger’s impressive early career. She continued to perform at the JCC, at the Mountain Lakes Community Theater, and later in GOA productions. Her biggest roles thus far include the title role in “Annie,” which she was excited for because of the show’s popularity and iconic songs; and Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” a story that Berger has always loved.
“I prefer musicals,” said Berger, “because I love the singing and dancing aspects of the shows. You don’t get those in a play.”
In recent years, Berger has pursued professional training in the performing arts. She has twice attended the Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Conservatory, where students practice their singing, dancing and acting for several weeks. For her, the experience has been educational and a lot of fun.
“I loved performing on that stage,” Berger said. “I loved learning from professional directors.”
In addition to the Summer Conservatory, Berger performed in the Paper Mill Playhouse New Voices Concert, which featured songs from classic and modern musicals. She returns to the Paper Mill several times a year to see the main stage productions.
Outside of the theater, Berger takes voice lessons, which she enjoys because “gets to practice and feel comfortable in the songs.” She also sings in GOA’s choir, participates in the Dance Workshop elective and dances on the Dance Team.

After graduating GOA, Berger wants to audition for commercials in order to “associate herself with that part of the business.” Though she doesn’t plan to act professionally as an adult, she is looking forward to studying drama in college. For now, though, Berger is content starring in “Into the Woods” with all of her GOA friends.


Safe Spaces: a Weapon?

Safe Spaces: a Weapon?
Zach Colton-Max ‘17

Many GOA students remember walking into Ms. Lowenthal’s sixth grade class each morning and being greeted by a familiar phrase.
Just above the blackboard sat a poster emblazoned with the words “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” As Ms. Lowenthal would explain, the poster was designed to foster dialogue and create an open, nurturing environment for each student. The classroom became a safe space, in which all students could feel comfortable being themselves and learning freely.
Recently, the concept of a “Safe Space” has come into the spotlight, as more and more colleges call for safe spaces. One aspect of safe spaces involves increasing efforts to help minorities on campuses. Most recently, at Missouri University, students staged massive protests against campus racism. When minority students were taunted and threatened and the administration did not act against it, their classmates and others from around the world condemned the administration and brought on the dismissal of two prominent school officials.
The protests at Mizzou became a symbol for the desires of our country’s disenfranchised youth: to create a safe world free from racism. Not only were the students able to make a change in the school’s administration, but the support they received from students all over the country portrayed their generation as much more accepting and willing to defend minorities. However, while the media thoroughly covered the fight for a safe space, it essentially ignored another major narrative.
Tim Tai, a student at Mizzou, was hired by ESPN to photograph the protests. He should have been able to do so, as the protests took place outdoors in the public domain and therefore, he was just exercising his First Amendment right. However, the second that Mr. Tai arrived to photograph the protests, he was told to leave. After his initial resistance, he was surrounded by a group of protestors, intimidated, then forcibly removed.
“We ask for no media in the parameters so the place where people live, fellowship, and sleep can be protected from twisted insincere narratives,” a Twitter account associated with the protesters said, adding that “it’s typically white media who don’t understand the importance of respecting black spaces.”
Essentially, the protesters saw the media and Mr. Tai, an Asian male, as a threat and a subsequent violation of their “safe space.” In their minds, his pursuit of knowledge was making them unsafe. In doing so, the students weaponized the term and essentially completely changed the meaning of it. While a safe space was designed to protect all individuals and ensure that all people are allowed to pursue knowledge free from fear of others, the protesters deemed that safe spaces should be created to protect only certain groups and individuals.
In the words of Ken White, a blogger for the law-oriented blog Popehat, “many use the concept of ‘safe spaces’ as a sword, wielded to annex public spaces and demand that people within those spaces conform to their private norms.”
While Tai’s case may sound like an outlier as a result of the lack of media coverage, there have been similar situations in which safe spaces have been used as a weapon or as a way to censor the media or individuals.
At Smith College, student protesters at a sit-in refused to allow members of the media to cover the protests, unless said members of the media pledged support for their cause.
Most ridiculously, student leaders at the University of Ottawa had the school cancel a free yoga program for handicapped individuals, because they claimed that the leaders of the program and the program itself were racially insensitive and created an unsafe environment.

While Golda Och Academy has managed to steer clear of this concept of ideological hegemony and superiority through the creation of safe spaces, all students should keep an eye out for their own safety. Because while the power to censor the public, individuals and ideas used to come from the barrel of a gun, a new weapon has taken its place: the “safe space.”


It’s Time for AP Science

It’s Time for AP Science
Sam Russo ‘18

Anyone who has attended a GOA open house or promotional event in the last year knows that our school consistently emphasizes two things: the importance of student advocacy and the exciting new STEM initiatives. Now, advocacy and STEM are coming together in a new student campaign to introduce  an Advanced Placement science course to GOA.
Last year, a team of dedicated then-sophomores organized, wrote and circulated a petition encouraging the administration to create an AP science class for juniors to go along with the four other AP classes that are already offered. About 75 then-eighth graders and high school students signed the petition, but the administration has taken no public action for or against it since receiving the petition in March.
Junior Kim Robins, an organizer of the petition who is known for her passion on the matter, explained that the administration is still reviewing the proposal and that they have “been very receptive” to the idea. Robins expressed hope that there will be an AP science class at GOA in the coming years; however, a number of Robins’ peers don’t share her optimism.
Junior Emma Weiss expressed a feeling of hopelessness, saying “[The lack of progress on the issue] is annoying, but it’s not like there’s anything we can really do about it.”
Nevertheless, she agreed that although it seems unlikely, students should still work toward the goal of instituting AP science.
Many students are also frustrated and confused by the relationship between the new STEM center and the rest of GOA’s science curriculum.
Sophomore Lara Brown said that she didn't “really understand how we can have… this huge STEM building and keep advertising our STEM program and how great it is and yet lack something as basic as an AP science course.”
Of the ten students interviewed, the single voice of dissent against AP science came from senior Jacob Gutstein.
“The workload of an eleventh grader is hard enough as it is,” he said and added that he did not feel that AP courses were necessary at all.
This opinion, however, is refuted when one considers that AP classes are completely optional, and that the entire purpose of AP is to allow students to excel in certain subjects and become even more prepared for college. Any student taking an AP class acknowledges the extra work and responsibility that he or she will be assuming, but sees the tremendous benefit that can come out of it. The addition of an AP science class allows interested students to challenge themselves and be more competitive candidates to colleges and jobs, but places no obligation or stress on students who do not elect to take the course.
There will undoubtedly be challenges in implementing an AP science class at GOA. The school will need certified teachers, an understanding of student interest, and a well-managed budget.

As Robins said, however, none of these obstacles are really “insurmountable” for a school that places such value on students’ voices and the on the sciences.

The Silent Majority

The Silent Majority
Aryeh Lande ‘18

Within just a few days, terrorists swearing loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria brutally ended the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians in Paris, Kenya and Beirut. Established in 2013, ISIS is gaining strength as a major threat to the West. This terrorist organization grew from a small band of militants to a self-proclaimed caliphate, with large territories and an advanced army. After capturing land in Iraq, ISIS expanded westward into Syria, exploiting the power vacuum created by the Syrian civil war.
Other than its sheer size and power, what makes ISIS different from other terrorist groups is that its sole purpose is to restore the medieval Islamic Caliphate through violence. The group’s  brutal methodology suggests that it wants to bring Western nations to their knees and launch an aggressive jihadist campaign against those who oppose the Caliphate-to-be.
ISIS’ deranged leader, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi – who derives his name from the second ruler of the Islamic Caliphate – managed to recruit tens of thousands of fighters through propagandized media. He continues to radicalize challenged or conflicted youth who find purpose in radical jihad. What makes ISIS much stronger and more of a threat than any other terrorist group in history is not its crude barbarity, but rather this ability to breed and convert terrorists at home.
On November 13, ISIS launched large-scale attacks conducted by only eight men in Paris, a city with a history of free expression and a symbol of the West. It was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in modern European history. The terrorists, in three separate locations, massacred over 130 people and seriously injured many more. This attack is more shocking than any other by the group, as this assault begins a new strategy within ISIS. Instead of calling on recruits to flock to their new “caliphate,” ISIS leaders are encouraging their “soldiers” to stay at home and launch terror attacks in their own country. In the case of Paris, ISIS claimed the attack was retaliatory, in response to French airstrikes in Syria, but that is nonsense. A retaliatory attack would be one aimed at soldiers; this was an inhumane war crime, targeting civilians who were just enjoying a Friday evening.
In response to the attacks, many governments have declared their commitment to ending terror and standing by France. Many feel that it is the West’s duty to destroy the Islamic State in revenge for the deaths in Paris. This is, unfortunately, not a viable solution.
A full invasion will only cause more violence, more senseless killing, which is what ISIS wants. They realize that if the United States invades, it will lead to more deaths and will perpetuate the view that the US is the enemy of Islam, causing ISIS’ support to bolster once again. ISIS is also far too vast and established to destroy quickly. Their elaborate infrastructure and networks of militants makes them too deadly to quickly destroy. Additionally, such a war would displace more people, inflicting great harm on civilians and worsening the refugee crisis. Therefore, this plan will not work.
I believe that we must put the pressure on mainstream Islam to stop this violence. I do not want our government to change policies in order to restrict social media or monitor and survey citizens in order to prevent a small few from becoming radicalized, rather it is an issue for the Muslim community. An internal debate within Islam may be the only solution. The world has seen the power of radical Islam, therefore, to stop it, we must learn the power and values of moderate Islam. It is time for the members of the silent majority of Muslims to step up and stand against radical Islam once and for all.
Some presidential candidates seem to believe that all Muslims are terrorists, going as far as to propose measures to document all Muslims and monitor information being preached in mosques. Violating freedom and constitutional rights are not the answer and are merely blatant acts of prejudice hidden behind a thin façade of fear. These actions are the wrong kind of pressure.
A far better approach would be to put pressure on the Islamic countries that support radical Islam to stop funding their extremist clerics. One of the leading producers of extremists is Saudi Arabia. We can, for instance, refuse to complete arms deals if they do not minimize support for violence-preaching clerics.

In Islam, there exists the principle of ijtihad, or personal struggle in an effort to modernize Islam. I believe that this struggle is currently underway in the Muslim world but it must be spread and aided. We may not be able to alter the physical battle, but we can help shape the dialogue of the spiritual battles, allowing Muslims to reclaim peaceful Islam. This can end the senseless racism Muslims face today in the West, degrade ISIS and ultimately prevent another attack.


Grades, Gym and Getting Fit

Grades, Gym and Getting Fit
Iris Berman ‘18

Since the beginning of September, students have had access to their grades through the school website. This has not only allowed students to closely monitor their grades so they know what to improve upon, but it has also made students and parents somewhat hyper-aware and critical of their grades. One example of the effects of the usage of this new program is the new debate regarding a student’s gym grade.
In gym this year, a grade was comprised of three sections: preparation, skills and fitness.
The fitness category, the new controversial addition this year, was made up of a single evaluation - the mile time. Students that earned a grade of 90 achieved high fitness, while those in the 80s range achieved average time. Grades in the 70s reflected lower fitness. This raised many questions from students because many feel that fitness is not a good representation of how much effort they put into the class.
No matter how much we run it still doesn't always amount to a desirable grade,” said Sophomore Maya Robbins. “It is out of our control as students and is completely unfair.”
Like Robbins, many other students argue that it is unfair that a student who put in less effort during the mile run, but still received a “good score”  will receive a much higher grade than someone who trains and tries their hardest, but is unable to achieve this score. Although many students were upset by it, many of the more athletic students did not believe that this was a problem and even saw the merit to testing on fitness.
I think it's fair because it's only one of the aspects of our grade.” said sophomore Andy Antiles. “A part of physical Education is being in shape. That's like saying in math that our math skills shouldn't be taken into account for our grade.”
Those who adhere to Antiles’ argument essentially believe that while effort is a major factor in life, the output is what is judged and what should be graded in class.
While this argument may have valid points, many argue that it is irrelevant.
Sophomore Sam Russo argues that even if that argument was completely sound, the Physical Education syllabus itself claims not to grade by said standards. According to the syllabus, “15 percent of the grade will be based on fitness development and improvement.”
In addition, Russo said that in all previous years students were told that they were only being graded on their improvement.
There were some students who not only had a problem with the reasoning behind it or even what the syllabus says, but the ethics that come with grading students on their fitness.
“How is it fair that we are all expected to perform the same as everyone else,” asked sophomore Eran Shapiro, “and how is fair that your physical body affects your grade?”
Shapiro feels that students shouldn’t feel judged or insecure because of their physical health and fitness and that the current grading system restricts certain types of people from ever achieving high-fitness grades.
Mrs. Herman, the head of the Physical Education department said there was a misunderstanding within the fitness grade.
“In the future the grade will be reflective of all fitness components obtained or sustained in the marking period, including the student’s personal improvement,” Herman said.
That said, Herman added that this grading process is not new and that “fitness has always been incorporated into the student's’ grades.”
Many students believe that there was some sort of miscommunication and that the system will be fixed as quickly as possible.
If this is true that a miscommunication occurred, it can only be expected by students that for the next marking period the issue will be resolved and that everyone involved in the matter learned from the possible errors that took place.
“The entire experience was kind of degrading.” said sophomore Jessie Ruchman. “I just hope that both teachers and students can learn something from this.”

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