Thank you for all the love and support throughout this pandemic, we hope next year we can create many more issues to hand out in person just like we used to. Thank you all very much and we hope you all have a good summer!
-The BaccRag staff
Thank you for all the love and support throughout this pandemic, we hope next year we can create many more issues to hand out in person just like we used to. Thank you all very much and we hope you all have a good summer!
-The BaccRag staff
By Alexandra L. ’20 and Kevin W. ’20
Like most public New York City high schools, a school dance is an event that many students seem to look forward to. BSGE’s Snow Ball was no exception to this. Started by the Helping Hands subcommittee, Smile Train, Snow Ball was held on February 1st in order to raise money for children in developing countries with cleft lips and cleft palates. “Smile Train has been a Helping Hands subcommittee for the past two years, and every year we try to top our amount raised the previous years. We thought a dance would be a great way to do that,” says Aoife Kenny ‘20, the founder of the subcommittee. The dance was planned to be from 6 to 10 pm, and with tickets sold for $6 beforehand and $10 at the door, the promise of good music and food lured people to purchase.
Come the night of the 1st, the cafe-gymnatorium was decorated to the max. String lights hung along the walls and tables, balloons were taped and strewn across the floor, and paper mache flowers dangled from the ceiling. As the party began, kids from grades seven through twelve gradually streamed into the lobby, and into the dance. Food was available for purchase at the end of the room. However, SnowBall was the first BSGE dance where no outside students were allowed, and this took a hit to the ticket sales: “Unfortunately, no outside people were let in, so we had to turn a lot of people away at the door, and even some people from BSGE who wanted to come in with their non-BSGE friends left,” said Anab K. ‘20. Nonetheless, the auditorium slowly began to fill with people, especially after 8 pm, when the basketball game at the nearby YMCA ended. While it wasn’t as full as it possibly could have been, people still enjoyed their experience: “I was expecting more of a turnout, but it was fun regardless,” said Mollie S. ‘21. In fact, because there weren’t as many people there, the room didn’t get as overheated as some of the previous dances. According to Rachel Z. ’20, “The music was good, not too loud, and it didn’t get super hot, which is always good.” All in all, the Smile Train did make a profit out of the event and while it may not have been the most successful BSGE dance, those who attended were able to have a good time even with there being less people than they had expected. Although this dance was not hosted by Junior Council, it was organized by some people in the 11th grade, and it was a great way to demonstrate to the juniors the hard work it takes to make a school dance happen, as they will need to do this again to raise funds for Senior year. “We appreciate everyone coming– even if you didn’t buy a ticket but just donated, you helped fund a surgery that may change a child’s life,” said Rahoul Kumar ’20.While this is an event the Smile Train committee hosted, many other events such as Candy Grams, Open Mic Night, or general bake sales, are all events that make way for us BSGE kids to support good causes, and more importantly, to support each other.
On January 11th, BSGE’s senior class embarked for three days filled with a haunted hotel, shots to the head, and blown-off tires. The eagerly anticipated trip occurred in Honor’s Haven Resort in Ellenville, New York, one of the six towns in New York without a Starbucks, to many of the over-caffeinated seniors’ chagrin. For one weekend, students were free from the constraints of the first-semester of senior year, able to ignore impending college deadlines and IB assessments. However, In typical BSGE dysfunction, the tire of the coach bus blew off forty minutes into the voyage. Yet seniors didn’t let this dampen their spirits, and proceeded to share snacks and play games while waiting. Finally, another bus arrived, and the trip resumed. However, on the first night of the trip, one could peek into hotel rooms and view people hunched over their laptop screens, colorful art slides reflecting in their glazed over eyes. Graciously, Ms. Tramontozzi extended the due date for these slides until after the weekend. That’s when senior trip really began.
Saturday morning began at 8am, where the seniors sat together at the round tables, feasting on their fluffy eggs and crispy bacon. The sounds of heartbreak quickly filled the dining room once they learned they would not be served coffee. Desperate to satisfy their Mimi’s Deli addiction, some spent $4 on upstate iced “lattes.” Newly energized, the seniors continued their trip at the roller skating rink. Some were more successful than others, particularly Christina who mastered the artful Heel Toe. Coming back with bruised bums and sore thighs, the seniors finally faced the well-known bouncy castles of the Winter Festival. Later, they attended a two hour hike around the resort. Some seniors momentarily parted from the group, tentatively exploring some abandoned houses with rotting wood and a lone Entenmann’s box. After a group photo at the bottom of the hill, and some quick pushes on rope swings in the area, the seniors headed back to the hotel, their noses red but their hearts warm. That evening, seniors gathered in the auditorium for some heartfelt renditions of classic Karaoke songs. Taking to the stage to perform Everytime we Touch by Cascada were Stella, Matthew, Malika, Fariha and Jennifer, the high paced bop done justice by their singing. Following that performance were Joanna, Janielle, Anokha, Ona, Wei, Grace, and Annie, who artfully performed Love Story by Taylor Swift, complete with mock proposals and endless jumping. Another memorable performance was the heart-string tugging Country Roads by Matthew, Kai, Christian, Leon, Christos, Stefan, Justin, and of course, Mr. Caccamo. Finishing off the session on a touching note, Eliana, Marc, and Rodrigo sang ‘Hey There Delilah’ their voices reverberating throughout the hall as the BSGE audience waved their phone flashlights through the air. That night, seniors gorged on chocolate and vanilla ice cream, drowning their bowls in sprinkles and chocolate sauce, then burning off all the calories with some sweaty dance circles in the karaoke hall. At midnight, around half the grade participated in an exhilarating game of Manhunt. People took to the hills, running through darkness, their shadows and foggy breath perhaps the only visible things in the pitch black night. Crawling over dried goose poop, or hiding in fetal position under lawnmowers (*ahem* Kai), they crouched with baited breath, desperately hoping not to be revealed by someone’s sweeping flashlight. The fear was only heightened by hair-raising tales told to Mr. Mehan by the trip manager about the history of the hotel. In the distance, the frozen lake was said to contain the charred bodies of children and teachers, burned in a fire a century ago by some vengeful town dwellers against the teaching of science in their schools. After a few rounds, it was time to return back to the hotel. Throughout the hallway resounded the sounds of the munching and crunching of chips, and giggles from raucous games of Cards Against Humanity and Uno.
The next morning came with perhaps one of the most awaited events of the weekend: Paintball. Covered head to toe in camouflage gear, participants trudged to a lawless terrain, armed with paintball guns and their iron will. Braving through butt-shots, back-shots, arm-shots, and some head-shots, the Class of 2019 went to battle, playing Capture the Flag, Mr. President, and King of the Hill. In Mr. President, Mr. Caccamo relied on his trusty team to protect him, and protect him they did. Word to the wise: If you are proposed with a game of Civil War, do NOT participate.
After a fulfilling weekend in Ellenville, New York, the seniors returned home to the Big Apple. On the ride home, most everyone slept soundly, exhausted by the thrilling weekend’s events.
By Anokha V. ’19 with contributions from Joanna K. ’19
If I could only use one word to describe college, it would be serendipity. From arriving at the campus on move-in day to cramming Sociology vocabulary words at 3 a.m. to going stargazing with my friends in the middle of nowhere, freshman year at Colby College for me has been a roller-coaster of a ride.
My name is Moshan Guo, a rising college sophomore transferring to Columbia University this fall. I call myself a preparer; in the summer before entering college, I tried to prepare the best I could for this upcoming new life by ordering dorm necessities like laundry hampers or looking into classes I was interested in taking. I spent countless nights too excited to sleep because I could not wait to experience being the cool college student without curfew or parents by my side telling me what to do. But I was not prepared for adjusting to college; no one had warned me about it.
I cried through my first semester, homesick and stressed from coursework. I would go to class in the mornings, be the most active participant in class discussions, eat alone in the dining halls and then return to my dorm room, where I spent the remainder of the day doing homework and video-calling my best friend from high school. I had almost no social life on campus and instead tried to devote the rest of my time to extracurriculars like volunteering or visiting professors’ office hours.
But it was also on this lonely, quiet campus that I learned to grow, both academically and spiritually. As editors before me have emphasized, college, even after taking IB classes, is challenging. There were weeks when I would go to Miller Library right after classes to study and return to my dorm after 4 a.m. for only four hours of sleep. Although I found myself aware of what quality of work professors expected from me, living up to their expectations was often stressful. As my social circle expanded, especially since the start of the second semester, I found myself bonding with other students over the common woes we shared. There were plenty of times when several of us would work together on a study guide for Biology or help each other with editing essays for Chinese Feminism class.
The majority of you, like me, will initially find yourselves to be isolated in college. If there is one thing I regret about freshman year, it would be stepping outside of my bubble too late in the year. At one point, everyone around you will seem to be having a great time making new friends and excelling at their coursework, while you are the only one struggling to find friends or do well in class. But I promise you that the majority of the people are also struggling with you. It was only after I opened up to my new friends that I realized like me, everyone else around me was nervous about making friends and facing pressure from coursework. Once I stepped out of my bubble, I started spending a lot less time in my dorm and spent more time with friends, even if it was just studying countless hours together in the library. There were times when we impulsively decided to watch a movie at 1 a.m. despite having class the next day or drive down to Waterville for a quick meal at McDonald’s.
The point is, much of the memorable parts of my freshman year come from time spent with friends. I realized that I could get a lot more work done with the help of fellow classmates, even if it meant having endless distractions or side-conversations here and there. College is a miraculous platform in which you will find people coming from very different backgrounds who still share common interests and worries with you.
Coming back to the city for college for the next three years may be daunting; I will once again have to go through the tasks of finding new friends and integrating myself into the campus community. However, I am determined to make the best out of my experience. Freshman year has indeed allowed me to witness the highs and lows of being a college student. But most importantly, it taught me to persist.
Hi all. This was surprisingly hard for me to write, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything I could say that would be memorable. So I didn’t bother. I don’t expect I’ll say anything in this column that you haven’t heard a thousand times already, but I’ll try my best.
Living on campus in college is extremely different from high school, especially a high school as small as BSGE. You have a world of choices in picking your own classes, there isn’t a clear separation of school time and home time, and you’re far more responsible for taking care of yourself than ever before. Personally, I found it liberating. At Stony Brook, I got to get away from my family and be myself. I was finally able to take a physics class, though some of you lucky students got to do that at BSGE now. I performed in a short theater piece and was stage crew for a much longer one, fumbling blindly on a pitch black stage trying to move giant flats into place.
One thing I didn’t do, though, was try to join Stony Brook’s student newspaper The Statesman in any capacity. Editing for The BaccRag is an experience I’m very glad I had, but one I have no desire to repeat. I originally joined in 8th grade because my father insisted I wasn’t busy enough and so I needed to join another club, and as time passed I kept going. Eventually I became an editor, as much because I was one of two seniors participating as because it was something I had a positive desire for. It was very interesting, trying to manage a fleet of young writers to produce decent writing in a reasonable timeframe, but that experience was vastly different than anything I would have done with The Statesman. Besides, this way I got to focus my time on extracurriculars that BSGE doesn’t have, like theater.
I suppose the advice I have to give is to use college to seek out new experiences. Most of what made my first year as great as it was were the parts I couldn’t get at BSGE or ever before. Use college to its fullest. Do things you’ve thought about for a while but never tried. Or at least, that’s what worked for me.
In 2017, a year in which most people have Netflix, Hulu, or one of the many streaming services available, everyone seems to be binge-watching 20 different shows at once. September has brought around new episodes of captivating shows, such as Stranger Things and The Flash. One new, well-known show is Riverdale, a production created by the CW. The CW is a network that tends to focus on television adaptations of famous comics from the 1940s. Riverdale is a recreation of the Archie Comics, and surrounds the lives of four teenagers from a small suburban town who attend a drama-packed local high school. So naturally, many people love it.
Soon after the release of its first season, Riverdale received mostly positive attention from the media, and currently has an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Riverdale and many of its actors were nominated for eight Teen Choice Awards, including Choice Breakout TV show and Choice TV Drama. Its actors Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, and Madelaine Petsch each won an award in different acting categories. Although KJ Apa did not win his nomination, he won the Breakthrough Performance Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
Despite promising reviews, not everyone appreciates the many differences between the show and the original comics. An eighth grader who chose to remain anonymous says, “The Archie comics were the original, and it’s not as deep and as dark as Riverdale”. This is probably because the Archie comics focused on humor, superhero, and crime genres. While the show has elements of crime and action, it revolves greatly around drama and romance. However, most people love the show because of its drama and action, like Lizbeth Mendoza ‘21. “It keeps you on the edge of your seat,” she claims.
All in all, Riverdale is a great show for anyone who loves mystery and action-based shows. The entirety of the first season is already out on most streaming platforms, and the second one is about halfway through, airing on The CW every Wednesday night. So the next time you are flipping through TV channels with nothing good to watch, you may want to give Riverdale a try.
What comes to mind when you think of fidget spinners? To the students of BSGE, they bring on mixed opinions. Approximately 66 students were surveyed for their opinions on the toys; whether they completely hated, liked, or were indifferent to them. Here is what they had to say:
Given the current backlash fidget spinners receive, a surprising 40.9% of responders said that they liked the toys, while 30.3% claimed they disliked the spinners, and 28.8% were indifferent on the matter, neither liking nor disliking them. When asked if they have ever owned a fidget spinner, the majority of responders (68.2%) said that they had, and only 31.8% said that they hadn’t. An even bigger difference percentage-wise happened when the responders were asked if they’d ever used the spinners, in which an overwhelming 89.4% of people said that they had, and only 10.6% said that they hadn’t.
Why did they respond in this way?
When asked why they liked fidget spinners, the vast majority of people simply said it was all down to the fact that they spun, with Brandon C. ‘18 simply responding with, “They spin.”. Multiple others said the same. A sizeable amount of people also claimed it was because of their initial purpose to help children with ADD/ADHD, and on this, Kayla P. ‘20 says, “They can really help people with attention/movement issues.”
On why they disliked fidget spinners, almost all the responders said it was because they were “annoying”, with many specifically citing how distracting they could be. Edward S. ‘23 and Agomoni S. ‘23 said, “They keep you occupied”, and “They’re a complete waste of time and don’t help anything”. Many responders also noted the noise that the spinners made to be irritating, with Sara H. ‘18 saying, “They’re useless and annoying to hear spin”. Alexis W. ‘22 stated, “They do make noise sometimes and it gets really annoying when people use them in class.”.
Despite the controversy and conflicting opinions, Arif E. ‘20 sums it up when he says, “I mean, they are harmless toys. They can understandably be pretty fun to play around with,” since that’s all fidget spinners are; popular toys of 2017.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in New York and lived here for 10 years. I moved back to Greece with my family and stayed in Greece until I was 22 years old. I then moved back to New York for my Master’s degree.
Why did you move back to Greece?
My family decided they wanted to move back to Greece, as that is where my parents are from. They sold a house that we owned here and decided that with money, they could start a new life in Greece.
What was it like living in Greece?
It was very hard at first. I didn’t speak the language very well and I needed a lot of extra help with grammar, literature, and even math—math was taught in a very different way in Greece. My parents hired a private tutor for me to guide me through my work. Even though it was hard to communicate with people, due to not speaking the language, some things I enjoyed were the weather and a more laidback school life. However, I still would always miss New York and would want to go back.
Did you experience anything new in Greece that you wouldn’t have experienced if you hadn’t moved?
First of all, I wouldn’t have met very important people in my life. If I had not moved to Greece, I would not have met my husband. I would not have had a lot of people in my life, meaning friends, and the opportunity to get to know a lot of my relatives. I also am very appreciative of the fact that I had schooling abroad. If I had studied in New York, I think I would not have had the opportunity to do a lot of after school activities and become fluent in Greek.
Where did you previously work?
I have been in the field of education for ten years and the first class I taught was a Greek afternoon class. I previously worked at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School for International Careers.
Which college did you attend? What was your major?
I attended the University of Athens, where I majored in American/British Literature. I completed my Master’s degree in English Adolescent Education at Hunter College.
What kind of a student were you in high school?
As a student, I cared about my grades and was the kind to always seek extra credit. I had always liked reading, writing, and debating, and even as a student, I was extremely interested in English.
Were you always interested in teaching literature?
I’ve always wanted to teach, however, the real turning point for me was in college, where I sat for many classes reading literature intensely. There was one class where we read Jane Austen intensely for a whole semester, and during that time, I ended up imagining myself teaching literature in the future. This is when I realized I wanted a future in teaching.
Speaking of literature, what books, if any, have you read recently that have stood out to you?
I’m a member of a book club at Astoria Bookshop called the Feminist Book Club. We recently covered a graphic novel called Fun Home that I really enjoyed. It was a story about a young girl who came out to her parents. It speaks about her father who was also homosexual, featuring his struggles with his identity and trying to hide that. Even though I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels, this particular book changed my view.
What do you like most about BSGE? What do you like about your students?
I really enjoy the multiple perspectives in the classroom. The experiences and culture of students really shine in the classroom. I guess what I like most about BSGE would have to be the students. The students like English class and take it seriously. This reveals a lot about their character and future.
What kind of standards do you hold your students to?
I have very high standards for my students. Ultimately, it depends on what we do in class. Participation will always go a long way though. I also like to have a rubric or a grading guide that is fair for both the student and the complexity of the assignment.
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?
I would like to be a writer or open up a bookshop in my neighborhood. In the case of the bookshop, customers wouldn’t have to pay; they could just read in the bookshop. If I weren’t a teacher, I would just like a job in the field of literature.
What are your hobbies?
I love travelling whenever I have the opportunity. I like doing activities with my children. I also love listening to music, especially Bob Dylan. I obviously love reading also, and I’m pretty sad that I don’t have enough time to read books just for myself.
Where have you traveled before?
I love to travel a lot. Unfortunately, my traveling experiences are limited to two continents. I’ve visited the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and many others. I also like to travel within the US every opportunity I get, whether it’s a day trip somewhere in the Northeast or a long weekend trip across the country. Whatever good deal my husband can find with our airfare and the miles we collect is one we’ll take. We’ll always make sure to bring our children along as well.
What kind of activities do you do with your children?
I love taking them to “storytime”. We either go to the local library here in Astoria or Astoria Bookshop. During the summer, I would bring them every Thursday morning and they would have half an hour of storytime. I love taking them to the park. They can play with their friends and I can easily watch over them. I also take them to art classes whenever I can, but my older son also takes swimming classes while my younger son takes music classes. We like just doing things that are in season and that I know that they’ll enjoy.
What/who drew you to BSGE?
I live in Astoria so I know the area well. Because of that, I had heard about the school and its rigorous curriculum. However, it was ultimately the IB program that drew me to this school because it isn’t offered in many other places in NYC.