AHS Students Take PACTS and PSATS

By: Maya Pockrose

The Pre-SATS and Pre-ACTS took place at AHS on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016. According to Lester Eggleston, who organized both tests, 280 students took the PACT and 235 took the PSAT, leaving about 82 Sophomores and 84 Juniors that didn’t test that day. These students were instructed to go to Old Hall and take a practice test that would not be scored.This was the first year the PACT was offered at AHS or anywhere else.

The difference between the two tests is the age group for which they are designed. The PSAT is normally for Juniors, while the PACT is the norm for Sophomores.

In the past, when only the PSAT was offered, students sometimes had not taken the math classes in particular necessary to do well on the exam. The tests are now designed for specific grades, so students are testing with their peers.

One person primarily responsible for administering two different tests for hundreds of students at the same time is bound to produce some confusion. Some students were rumored not to have been able to finish or take their tests. There were, in fact, students who did not get to take the test, confirms Eggleston, due to confusion involving students and teachers.

However, any student that spoke to Eggleston directly was allowed to test, and there were enough actual tests to accommodate anyone who wanted to test that day. Anyone who wanted to finish the test was given the opportunity to do so, but there were students who didn’t finish testing because they chose not to.

The decision to take the tests during school rather than at other times was made by the administration, which was trying to reduce the number of obstacles involved in taking the test, such as transportation, conflicts with jobs, sports, or family trips, etc. Since AHS has been administering the PSAT for a number of years, a poll may be taken at some point to see if students would be available at other times instead.

Overall, according to Eggleston, testing went well. The biggest challenge was offering two different tests on the same day, including two different registration processes, fees, and timings. Based on feedback and discussion with the administration, some changes will be made next year.

Interestingly, the PACT is a relatively short test. Students spend nearly as much time filling out surveys at the beginning as they do completing the academic testing portions, which surprised some. The survey sections on the actual test are reportedly shorter.

The ACT is trying to prepare students for careers rather than college. While college is a path to a career, the ACT want students to focus on strengths, what they enjoy, etc., which the ACT administrators believe will naturally lead to a student’s college decisions. However, this does not mean that AHS will be adding vocational courses. Rather, the test may allow students to get a better sense of what electives may attract them.

Students are able to look at their individual scores, as well as see the grades of their peers as a whole.

The PACT will be offered again next year. Changes for next year include timing (starting earlier for both tests), holding to more firm deadlines for registration (this year, some students were enrolling on test day itself, which is “kind but not real world,” according to Eggleston), and more preparation and training for staff regarding the administration of the test.

One student felt that, while she understood this was the school’s first year administering this test, the test “really could’ve been run better”. In this student’s case, and in many others, testing began over two hours late. Students were asked to arrive at school at 8:30am but didn’t enter their testing rooms until at least an hour later. Some students weren’t allowed to eat lunch until completion of the test, causing some students to have lunch at 1:30pm.

Another question that circled the halls on test day was whether the answer sheets were lost at any point. The truth is far less intriguing than one might have been led to think. The blank answer sheets were lost for roughly 20 minutes on test day. They are shrink wrapped, Eggleston said, and when one teacher went to pick up the materials for his/her room, he/she took all the sheets as opposed to just the ones for that room by accident.

During the short period during which they were lost, the organization instructed AHS staff to photocopy extras and have students start marking answers there, but once the real sheets were found, answers were put on the real sheets. Seeing as this was a fluke incident, it likely won’t occur again in coming years.

Students taking the PSATS had already filled out sections in their English classes to speed up testing, so if those had been lost rather than the blank answer sheets, it would have been more of an issue.

The district believes that the more opportunities that students get to be put in this testing environment, the better prepared students will be when it counts.

The invention of PACT gives kids a chance to compare their PACT and PSAT scores and make a conscious decision about which test they want to take for college admissions.

There’s no need to take both, “ruining all your saturdays for your junior and senior year”, as Eggleston rather accurately put it. Instead, he said, you can make this decision based on the practice tests, which is why students take them. If you perform much better on one than the other, you can choose to take that test rather than the other. The PSATS and PACTS offer valuable experience for Sophomores and Juniors that can help them make the right choices about their education.

“Citizen of the Month” Inspires Community

By: Isabella Scopetski

Each month, Arlington High School students nominate their peers for the Citizen of the Month Award. The student council President, Junior, Emily Brown is chair of the Citizen of the Month committee, developed by the students involved in student council.

The initiative got off the ground November  2016. “We basically take nominations from other students and teachers in the building,” relays Brown. “Then we read through them all and decide who is going to be citizen of the month for each month.”

Brown referenced the morning announcements and the daily post as the current displays of these student nominees. In the process of choosing students to be citizens of the month, Brown and her fellow committee members must select a student who, “contributes to a positive environment at AHS”. “Positivity and helping others” are mainly what embodies the outstanding citizens, recalls Brown.

The “award” itself, Brown feels, is, “helpful in promoting unity [and] bring[s] everyone together as a community”. The project is meant to “bring about a more positive environment as a whole by recognizing people who are doing that and encouraging others to do the same,” reflects Brown.

“Student council is taking over bulletin boards [in the front lobby],” adds Julia Aleese, sophomore and  member of the committee. Brown assures that soon enough there will be pictures of the highlighted students throughout the year in the front lobby and hopefully announced on the student council website. Emails are sent out monthly as well, recognizing the new citizen of the month, with an attached google form for students and teachers to nominate more of their students and peers.

For Brown, the committee has been a great asset to the student council because they have been “delving into other areas and working on the actual school environment, and not just… specific events that happen for one day and then are over”.

Brown and Aleese enjoy the uniting quality of the committee and commemorating people who may not always be in the spotlight. Aleese agrees that she, “enjoys seeing that there are people who do good things.” She feels it “inspires people to do things just to make a more positive community”.

Vandals Destroy Property

By Claire Kitzmiller

This November, students in the Downs House were rushed out of the school because  smoke billowed out of the second floor girls’ bathroom. Vandalism has always been an issue at Arlington High School but in the past few months, it has reached a peak. Teachers’ cars have been targeted and keyed, car windows have been smashed, classrooms have been vandalized, and a bathroom has been set on fire.

A faculty member has had her car repeatedly vandalized on school grounds. Officer Porciello, the school safety officer, has reason to believe a student is causing the damage because everyday, the teacher parks her car in a new location, and still it is vandalized.

Two faculty members have even had their rear windshield windows smashed. Porciello is cautious before saying the smashing is caused by a student, because the windows were smashed on Mass Ave. He thinks it could be anyone.

When talking about the ongoing investigation of the vandalism, Porciello said, “The biggest asset is the student body, because there’s definitely more than one person who knows who’s doing it. People talk about stuff.”

Porciello says there are two ways to catch whoever is vandalizing the cars. Someone reports it to him, or someone is caught in the act. There is an ongoing investigation into the vandalism of faculty members cars, but no one has been caught yet.

When someone is caught, he/she will be charged for the penalty which is “malicious destruction of a vehicle”. The severity of the punishment is based on the cost of the damage.

The fire in the girls’ bathroom is also an ongoing investigation. The evidence shows that the fire was set on purpose. It is being considered arson, a serious offense.

When students smoke in the bathroom, they often smoke close to the stall, so they can quickly throw their cigarettes in the toilet. The fire in the bathroom originated on a piece of furniture, relatively far away from the stalls. This causes investigators to believe that the fire was started intentionally.

When asked about the investigation, Porciello said, “I’d like to ultimately catch the person/people who are responsible for doing this destruction, but at the end of the day, the number one concern is to make sure that whoever is doing it, stops doing it.”

Project lights Darkness

By Claire Kitzmiller

On January 19, 2017, at 5:30pm people all across the country will gather in and around theatres to participate in the Ghostlight Project. The Ghostlight Project is a movement across the country to bring light to the darkness.

The movement is “to make or renew a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

A physical ghostlight, is a light, required in many theatres, that must stay on when all others lights are off, to prevent an accident in the darkness. A ghostlight provides safety and security among the darkness.

On January 19, Michael Byrne, AHS Drama teacher, invites students students to sing, read a poem or play an instrument to bring light to the darkness. This will be taking place in Byrne’s classroom.

When asked why Byrne is participating in the project, he responded, “I think it is important to have voices heard.” Byrne believes in the power and unity of having a common goal with people all across the country.

Byrne said, “It’s just this sort of statement of safety about who you are and safe to be who you are regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

The Ghostlight Project states, “We aim to create brave spaces that will serve as lights in the coming years. We aim to activate a network of people across the country working to support vulnerable communities.”

The Project is not limited to January 19 at 5:30 pm. It is an ongoing mission, trying to accomplish equality and tolerance across the nation. This is a new project that may continue into the end.