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2016-2017 BSGE by Owen S '20 by Princess P '22 News

The Sound of IB Music

Everyone listens to music. On the subway, in the car, while doing homework—it is something we can rely on to always be our friend. But every kind of music is made with instruments, and every instrument has a person who plays it and has extensive knowledge of that instrument. Some people only learn how to play the simplest tunes, while others like to go above and beyond by taking lessons for years, investigating music as closely as a scientist observing an experiment, and learning how to play many different songs. Many people, therefore, believe that learning to play in instrument feels better than just about anything.

BSGE is planning on implementing an IB Music program that focuses on students who are learning an instrument—voice, guitar, piano, violin, flute, and others—and to help them further their musical studies with a wider knowledge of music theory and performance. As stated by Ms. Nikkolos, “It’s up to you what instrument you’d like to choose, and when you join IB music, that will be an instrument you have already played [for] four, five years already.”

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2016-2017 Archives BSGE by Fariha H '19 by Jennifer S '19 News

All You Ever Wanted to Know About the Schedule Change

For a long time, the possibility of a schedule change had been a focus in the staff meetings, though every year it was delayed a little bit longer. This year, though, the administration changed the schedule completely. Previously, BSGE had a rotating A-Day, B-Day schedule. Each day consisted of five 70-minute classes, one of which was split into lunch and advisory, which were only 35 minutes each.

Now, the school administration has changed the schedule to the form of eight 45-minute classes, with three minutes of break time between each period to travel to the next class.

This change was caused by multiple factors, though the main reason was the lack of funding the school has. After facing three years without funding, Ms. Johnson had to let go of two teachers, which caused a strain on the number of classes assigned to those who remained. They would have ended up teaching 5 or more classes in one day, which could not have been possible with the A/B day schedule. Consequently, changing the schedule became a necessity for our school. “The changes were influenced by the reality that BSGE is a public school and is funded like a public school. Therefore the school has to be structured like a public school unless we receive grant funding or major donations,” elaborated Ms. Johnson.

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2016-2017 by Meral A '18 Faculty Features

Teacher of the Month: Mr. Yanek

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What is your cultural background?

I am a New Yorker, through and through.

Where did you grow up?

Franklin Square, New York.

If you could live in any other place in the world, where would it be and why?

New York is my first choice, but if I couldn’t live in New York I think I’d be pretty happy in Mexico City. It’s like New York, but it has public toilets. It seems like enough of a big city for me and it has a good vibe.

What type of kid were you in high school?

I got good grades, but deep down I was a fool.

If you were a student and had yourself as your teacher, would you meet the standards you hold for your students?

With a vengeance.

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2016-2017 by Lisbeth A '20 by Reshmi A '21 Faculty Features

BSGE’s New Assistant Principal

Among the many recent changes introduced to BSGE is the arrival of a new assistant principal, Ms. Maria Mamo-Vacacela. She has been appointed as an Interim Acting Assistant Principal, meaning that before Ms. Mamo-Vacacela gets permanently hired she has to undergo a trial process. Ms. Johnson explained, “She is with us now, you can think of it as a probation period to see if it is going to be a good fit. Then, she gets interviewed for the position. Afterwards, teachers, students, and parents get a chance to say, “‘yes’ or ‘no’.” According to Ms. Johnson, Ms. Mamo-Vacacela is being tried for the position because “the responsibilities placed on principals have increased, and we may eventually need more help, especially if our population will grow.”

When asked about her education, Ms. Mamo-Vacacela said laughingly, “I’m a Queens girl.” After having graduated from Christ the King High School in Middle Village, she pursued and received B.A. degree in Mathematics at Queens College. Ms. Mamo-Vacacela also holds a master’s degree in multicultural education from the College of Mount St. Vincent. She perceives this specialization especially fitting here, at BSGE, because of our school’s diversity.

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2016-2017 Archives by Janielle D '19 Culture Entertainment and Culture Student Life

Tips for New Bees

Transitioning into a new school is difficult, especially one as demanding and rigorous as BSGE. In order to make that transition smooth, all new students should remember these seven suggestions:

  1. Be polite; stay to the right!  If you’re not on the right side, you’re on the wrong side.
    • The school hallways are very small, so the general rule is to stay to the right so that you help minimize the amount of traffic (especially with only three minutes between classes).
  2. Say hello to your new best friend: your locker.
    • Not everyone is privileged enough to have a ten minute commute to and from school, and no one wants to injure their back with tons of binders and notebooks everyday. Before leaving, think to yourself: do you really need your whole binder? Can you just bring a few sheets home to complete your work? Get everything you need to finish homework and study, then leave the rest in your locker! Your back will thank you later.
  3. Stay organized and on top of things.
    • If you didn’t know, there are calendars on the first floor for teachers to write big assignments on so that we are not bombarded with too much work within one week. However, this does not always work in our favor. There will be weeks in which you’ll have three tests, five quizzes, and a paper due, and it will be solely up to you to get everything done. With this amount of work, life will be much easier if you actively use a planner – whether a physical book or your phone’s calendar app. This way, you will be able to correctly prioritize and optimize your time and energy.  If you don’t have a planner, you can buy one from Margaret Pasach, the parent coordinator, for only $5.
  4. Communication is key!
    • While it would be nice to understand everything on the first try, that will not always happen. It’s fine to struggle; everyone does. But you don’t have to be embarrassed or or ashamed! Many teachers are available after school to answer your questions. It’s reasonable to feel like you’re bothering them, but remember that teaching is what they do. They want to make sure that you understand what’s going on, and they cannot read your minds to know whether or not you need help if you don’t say anything. If your teacher isn’t free, you always have classmates that you can go to for help!
  5. Don’t be afraid to get involved.
    • If it wasn’t already obvious, BSGE has a plethora of clubs and extracurricular activities that are available for everyone to join! Joining these clubs is a great way to make new friends, especially ones who are in other grades, while doing something after school that interests you. To see the clubs schedule this year, check the front page, and if you don’t see anything of interest, you can always try to start a new one!
  6. Sleep is not for the weak. It’s for the productive and successful student.
    • This one ties into the third tip because it’s important to plan out everything accordingly, especially sleeping. Without enough sleep, you run the risk of being too tired to concentrate during class. If that happens, you’ll not only get in trouble, but you will also possibly miss important information. Especially as growing teenagers, sleep is essential to growth and health, and it isn’t wise to miss out on that because you didn’t manage your time well. Sure, there’ll be a few days in which your workload is too heavy, forcing you to only get three hours of sleep, but try not to make it a habit!
  7. Grades are important, but they’re not everything.
    • Everyone wants to have straight sevens, and it makes sense: the pressure to get good grades is extremely high. However, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important. School is supposed to be a place to learn , and while grades do matter, achieving that goal is far more important. Aim for those sevens, but don’t stress out too much if you fall short.  It is extremely difficult to get perfect grades, and that’s okay. Just don’t forget to learn from your mistakes and have fun!

Keep these tips in mind to make your experience here as pleasant as possible.  After all, you are at school for ten months a year: you might as well make the most of it!

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2016-2017 BSGE by Krista P '22 News

The Bell That Rings for the New School Year

All of a sudden the bell rings, and it sounds like a flat lining heart monitor. That blasted bell is a stopwatch that starts counting three minutes until the next period begins. Teachers tell us stories about that bell. They say that the sound can be annoying and is a vexation to class. This is the first time it has rung successfully. Now BSGE is stuck with this bell as long as it keeps ringing all day, every day. But overall the bell helps teachers keep in line with the new schedule even though it can badly startle students who are not expecting it.

Teachers had different reactions to this change.  Ms. Nikkolos said, “They tried before and it didn’t work. If they could get it to work, they’re geniuses!” She showed  disbelief, since the bells never worked successfully before.  On the other hand, Mr. Anderson said, “I have no problem with it. It’s just getting used to the scheduling of it”.  He showed neutrality, neither strongly hating it nor loving it greatly.

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by Justin H '17

Model UN: A Model for the World?

Model UN – a club that many have heard of, but few know anything about. Unlike most activities, there are no regular weekly meetings, no advertisements to be in a certain place at a certain time to join. But occasionally a school will hold a Model UN convention, such as the Dalton School in the Upper East Side did on April 23rd, and BSGE will be well represented.

Three juniors and five seniors, along with supervisor Ms. Meisler, attended said conference, where students from many different schools attempt to solve world issues in eight to ten hours. Each school is assigned one or more countries to represent, and for the weeks leading up to the conference, the students learn about their country’s strengths and issues so they can be accurate representatives. In this case, BSGE was assigned Australia, Belgium, and the Philippines, but due to a lack of people, the Philippines ended up being ignored. During the conference, there are many subcommittees that focus on world issues such as climate change and disease control, and each participant joins one of these subcommittees to represent their country. Hours of spirited debate ensue. Eventually, proposals are created, voted on, and announced to the rest of the conference, sometimes with awards for countries and/or schools whose representatives stand out.

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by Chloe H '20

The Renovation of Dutch Kills Playground

Running, playing, throwing, catching – Dutch Kills Playground is used daily by BSGE students for gym class. It is located next to P.S. 112 and regularly visited by children, adults, and seniors living in the community. The park has not been renovated for 20 years until now, when Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski announced on April 12, 2016 that they acquired $4.5 million in funding from Mayor DeBlasio to renovate Dutch Kills Playground.

“Our children come to this playground every day, and they deserve a modern, up-to-date park to use during recess, gym class, and with their families and neighbors on the weekends. Our parks and public spaces are an integral part of the fabric of our communities,” Van Bramer said.

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by Justin H '17

Nearby Gymnasium Helpful for BSGE Sports

Credit: nydailynews.com
Credit: nydailynews.com

This past basketball season has seen vast improvements to both the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams, thanks to the availability of a new court. It is the gymnasium of Most Precious Blood, a Catholic school taken over by the NYC Department of Education. They agreed to override Most Precious Blood’s principal, who wanted to prevent BSGE from using the gymnasium, so it became accessible to the teams on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons. In previous years, both basketball teams had to practice outdoors, weather permitting, and either play their home games in the Long Island City YMCA or in the stadium of the opposing team. Unfortunately for the boys’ team, however, their games were scheduled before the court was acquired, so they could not hold any home games there this season.

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by Justin H '17

All’s Fair at the Club Fair

In a successful attempt to raise money and help clubs all over the school advertise their existence, the BSGE Business Club hosted a club fair. It took place on Tuesday, November 10, in the school cafeteria. From 2:30 to 4:30 the club ran for students only, and then it continued from 6:00 to 8:00 during the open house for families, too. When asked about the process for creating the event, Carolyn Wang ’16 explained that the BBC first came up with the idea last June, and started planning to make it a reality by the end of September. She said that the most important concern the club had was to make sure that there would be enough people participating for the event to be profitable. Due to the vast number of new clubs this year, that did end up being the case.

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by Justin H '17

Human Rights Class: A Last Look

Human Rights is no longer taught at BSGE, starting this year. One of the many changes that went into effect in September is that Health has replaced Human Rights as the weekly “elective,” and Physical Education has replaced Health as a main class. Human Rights, taught by Peter Wilson, has been a distinctive feature of ninth grade ever since this school opened, but scheduling and homework concerns have trumped tradition.

There are two main reasons for the change: scheduling issues and parent pushback. Ninth graders in past years have had gym/yoga only for half of the year, which when combined with the fact that juniors only have it once a week meant that BSGE students weren’t getting enough physical activity overall. Health, which used to replace it, now has its own slot in the schedule so ninth graders can be more active. The other reason is that recently, parents of ninth graders have been complaining that their children receive too much homework from what is theoretically an “elective” course. Together, this ended the class.

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by Justin H '17

The Buzz: Which teacher are you most similar to, and why?

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“I’m closest to Mr. Mehan because I like math and he likes Doctor Who and he likes to joke and I guess we’re pretty alike.” – Janice Ng ’21

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“Ms. Nikkolos because she is very fun and outgoing. She finds the good in people.” – Shaima Mannan ’20