Chengdu Students Experience Arlington High

By Eveline Ho

Students from Chengdu, China visited Arlington High on January 24th. This event was the result of a collaboration of the two parties involved in China and Ms. Ritz at AHS. The mandarin students led the 32 visitors around for a full school day to learn about what Americans study and shed some light on our culture.

The program helps “promote an understanding between two very different cultures”, notes Ms. Yuen, the Mandarin teacher at Arlington High. The foreign exchange students are a part of the Chengdu Foreign Language School. They are the only school who are permitted to tour AHS due to the large quantity of students. They spend their vacation to come to America.

They are quite surprised when they find many differences between our schools.

“An American’s student life is more relaxing and follows their heart because they choose the courses that they’d like, but in China, we can’t actually choose the courses that we like. We must learn all the courses, nine courses a day… When I saw you guys playing the violin, I was really surprised because we don’t have these kinds of classes in China,” said Jane Kan, a Chinese foreign exchange student.

“I think that the biggest difference between China and America is that the people here have more freedom. We have to follow teachers, parents, and do homework,” voiced a male student, Sherlock Li.

These students  were quite happy to see the different foods in the cafeteria, the free time in Old Hall, and the many different classes here.

The freedom of speech in America is often taken for granted. These foreign exchange students greatly value their time in America, especially seeing the ability of students here expressing what they feel in public.

“You can’t always live in one atmosphere; you have to change and see the world. Because China and America have a lot of differences,  it is important to see where the differences are from,” said Kan.

Ruby Xu, a supervisor for the exchange students,  shared, “I think now we must get to know  the culture of the East and the West due the diversity of the world.”
This program is expected to continue. Students from China will visit every two years.

Hockey team honors Catherine Malatesta

 

unnamedBy Anna Hinkel

On Sunday, February 12, the Arlington varsity boys’ hockey team took on Hingham at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena in a game to honor Catherine Malatesta.

The game started out fast. Cully Curran, assisted by Drew Malatesta and Kevin Ouellette, scored the first goal during the first period.

Throughout the rest of the first period, through the second, and into the beginning of third, the score remained the same. Both teams were playing hard and the game was close.

Then John Piggot, with an outstanding pass from Michael Curran, scored the second goal for Arlington. The fans cheered and the stadium came alive again.

Desperate to somehow come back, Hingham pulled their goalie in favor of putting an extra player on the ice. This sealed the deal for Arlington, when Kevin Ouellette scored on an empty net, assisted by Cully Curran and Michael Curran.

At the end of the game, Drew Malatesta was named Player of the Game, chosen for his assist of Cully Curran in the first period.

Arlington finished the game with a 3-0 lead, making their record 10-0-1.

Art Raises awareness

By: Lauren Murphy

Ian Miller, a junior at AHS, is using art to battle mental health issues within our school. He is organizing young artists to come together and create a mural that will offer support to students struggling with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

Andrea Razi and Jessica Klau are the social workers at the high school who are available for students in need of extra support with mental health issues. The guidance department is another resource which can help students.

Miller wants to present the resources of AHS in a visual way that will inform students as well as promote creativity.

The inspiration for this project came during a student council meeting back in the fall. Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition discussed the mental health issues students often battle  and how the community can better support them. As the discussion wore on, “we found that  awareness of resources in the school and throughout the community were severely lacking,” Miller says.

Trying to find a way to effectively inform students of the mental health resources available, Miller says the group “tossed around a few ideas and the mural is the one that stuck”.

From there, the project has been put into motion. If all goes according to plan, the mural should be executed in the Links hallway by April vacation and “feature resources in our community that can help students [with] a variety of issues”.

Miller is hoping that this mural can be a positive and engaging way to promote dialogue about mental health while creating a piece of art for all students to enjoy.

 

Foreign Languages Share Fun Facts

By: Juliana Bird

February is worldwide National Language Month. In honor of this, the National World Language Honors Society (NWLHS) of AHS is providing the school with fun facts about the languages.

Throughout the month, members of the NWLHS will be submitting facts about their designated language to the officers, Eleni Blanas, Sharon Lincoln, or Peter Mitri. Facts can be emailed to these officers. These facts will be read out loud over the announcements every morning during the month of February, so keep an ear out!

National World Language Honors Society President Eleni Blanas says that the purpose of the language facts is to “promote foreign languages throughout the school, and to gain knowledge of different cultures.”

Each member of the NWLHS who submits a fact about either the Latin, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Italian languages will gain points towards graduating with NWLHS credit. They will be accepting three facts per language for submission.

 

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”.

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.

Students Head to Cape Town

By: Eveline Ho

History department teacher Melanie Konstandakis will be the advisor for a trip to Cape Town, South Africa. The trip will take place during February break, 2017, from the 16th to 28th. Other chaperones include Mrs. Bavuso, Mr. Bavuso, Ms. Daley, and Mr. Mahoney, a geography teacher from the Ottoson.

The purpose of this trip is to “help students connect to a culture very different from their own and experience a different part of the world,” says Mrs. Konstandakis. Students will learn to develop a sense of self confidence and “inspire students to know that they can make the world a better place,”announces Mrs. Bavuso.

This trip was open to any AHS student willing to join. Students of many age groups will be attending. The total cost of the trip is $3250, and there are currently  42 participants this year.

Students will be expected to perform community service for Cape Town and do site work.

During day four, students will hike up Lion’s Head, a mountain in Cape Town with an elevation of 2,195 feet.

On day nine, the students will experience a tour of Robben Island, an island about 4.3 miles(6.9km) off the coast of Cape Town.

On their last day in Africa, before returning home, the students will go on a safari.

There will be two freshmen on this trip. The freshmen share their thoughts before the trip. “I am very excited and I am very lucky to be able to have this opportunity to see all the cultural diversity in Africa,” says Lillian Hempel. “I’m kind of nervous… we’re the only two freshmen. It’s going to be kind of dangerous, but it’s a good experience,”Lena Goodnow adds.

Africa is expected to be an interesting experience for these students! There is no room for more students this year, but the trip is anticipated to be available again in a couple of years.

Styrofoam… Still Here?

By: Lauren Murphy

Every week, Arlington High School alone sends nearly three thousand styrofoam lunch trays to the dump. These trays take 500 years to naturally decompose, and they release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, tarnishing our air quality.

According to the Green Restaurant Association, plastic and styrofoam materials make up 25-30% of the waste found in landfills. Many wonder, why then does AHS, amidst this recent push for a “green community”, continue to dispose of roughly 600 styrofoam trays per day?

“The problem with compostable trays is that you actually have to compost them; you can’t just throw them in the trash,” says Food Service Director Denise Hunt Boucher.

Composting waste requires organization of the school’s trash and specific machines which AHS does not have access to at this time. Boucher continues, “And we don’t have the facilities to do washable trays. There are some school systems that have the reusable ones. They have huge kitchens with the machines that they can wash and sanitize the reusable ones but we don’t.”

It is also a matter of budget. On average, styrofoam trays cost about 3.5 cents each. Switching to a compostable alternative would nearly triple the cost per tray.

Arlington Public Schools has managed to make progress with styrofoam waste within the elementary schools. The Brackett and Pierce schools have developed programs which allow them to replace the styrofoam lunch trays with a compostable substitute. Boucher explains that at Brackett “they actually compost them. We buy the compostable trays for them” .

The Brackett School began a partnership with Whole Foods Arlington in 2013, in which families in the community volunteer to deliver the school’s compostable waste to Whole Foods. From there, Whole Foods delivers the waste to a Bio-Digester in Marlborough, MA.

Still, Boucher remains hopeful. She says, “Obviously, no one wants to throw this much styrofoam away everyday. We know it’s not good.” She says that if a solution were presented that made sense in terms of budget and accessibility, that she would support it completely.

Tate Kokubo Skates Ahead

By: Wyatt Dupont

Tate Kokubo is an upcoming sophomore at Arlington HIgh School, but unlike most high school students, he is well on his way to becoming a professional skateboarder. However, Kokubo does not bust himself with ideas of fame and sponsors but rather skating purely for the fun of it.

Kokubo began skateboarding when he was eight-years-old and gained recognition from one of his local skate shops, The Boardwalk, which has since closed.

Over the years, Kokubo continued to draw the attention of others, accumulating sponsors form Maximum Hesh Skate Shop, Matix, Converse, and Fancy Lad Skateboards. As he progressed, Kokubo began to compete in skate contests, including Tampa Am, an annual skateboarding competition in Florida that attracts amateur skaters from all over the country.

Although Kokubo does not currently have any contests coming up, he will most certainly compete in more in the future. Kokubo has even had a skateboard part put out by Matix that is on Thrasher Magazine’s website, a famous, monthly skate magazine that has been around sing the 80s.

In addition, Kokubo has a part in Fancy Lad’s Is This Skateboarding video which is also up on the Thrasher website.

Q: “So, how has skateboarding impacted you? I know that may be too general but like, where has it taken you and who have you met?”

A: “It has taken me from New York to as far as California. I have met tons of awesome people throughout the time I’ve been skating. I think it is safe to say I have close friends in every city I have traveled to.”

Q: “Ok, any pros or notable skaters?”

A: “Yeah, I have met quite a few. One of my favorites is Donny Barley, and he is now a good friend of mine.”

Q: “Describe or tell why you like skateboarding.”

A: “I like skating because there are no rules. You can do it however you want and no one can tell you that you are doing it wrong.”

There are four levels, starting with Shop, the Flow, then Am, and finally, Pro. Kokubo considers himself to be Flow, meaning that he receives free products from companies and is also sponsored by several. Regardless of what “level”, Tate does out and skates for fun.