Political Primaries 101 Reply

What is a primary election? Why do we have primary elections?
We have two major parties in our nation today, the Republican and Democratic parties.  Within each party, there is a variety of opinions and sometimes there is more than one person in a party who wants run for a particular office.  A primary is the election within a party to choose the candidate to represent that party in the general election.  It’s like the election before the election.  There are primaries for many different offices such as President, Senate, Mayor, city council, etc.

How does our primary process work?
When it comes to the Presidential Primary elections, each party decides when each state has its vote.  In 2012, the primary elections started in January with Iowa and finish up in June in Washington D.C..  More…


BSGE Class of 2015 Receives Record Number of IB Diplomas with 49 Reply

BSGE’s class of 2015 received a school record 49 IB diplomas, smashing the previous record set by the class of 2014 who received 40. In addition, they set a record with 77% of those graduating receiving the diploma also breaking the previous year’s record of 69%.

Commenting on the achievement, 10th and 11th grade English teacher, Ms. Connie You, said that the students “did incredibly well but that’s something we can’t really take credit for since there were so many strong students with great work habits.” Because the students were so well prepared, Ms. You added, she didn’t have the usual “heart bumping moment when looking at the IB exam results.”

Achieving these results reflects the progress of both the staff and students. Ms. Jennifer Dikes, 12th Grade History teacher and IB Diploma coordinator said More…

BSGE Staff Marathon Runners, Gretchen Schwarz and Tim David-Lang Reply

Congratulations to BSGE Art teacher Ms. Gretchen Schwarz for completing the New York City Marathon on November 1st. It was her first marathon.

Congratulations also to Tim David-Lang, BSGE’s Guidance Counselor and advisor for the Running Club, completed the Chicago Marathon on October 11th. He previously ran the New York City Marathon in 2013.


Ms. Gretchen Schwarz along the marathon path in Brooklyn hugging her nephew, Rafael, and sister, Mariah. Photo credit: Erin Lewis

Tim David-Lang at the Chicago Marathon

Tim David-Lang at the Chicago Marathon

Ms. Lily Shen to Retire at the End of the School Year Reply

LilyLong time BSGE teacher, Ms. Lily Shen, recently announced that she plans to retire at the end of the current school year. Ms. Shen has been teaching Chinese at BSGE since it opened its doors in 2002 and was one of its founding members.

When asked why this year was the right time to retire, Ms. Shen said that she’s been teaching all her life and that “it’s time to do something different while I’m still young enough to make the change.”

Ms. Shen started teaching right after she graduated from high school in China and has been teaching for 35 years total. She’s taught students from Pre-K to 12th grade at different points in her career.

Ms. Shen does not plan to be idle in her life after BSGE. She wants to remain involved in education in a different capacity by helping train new teachers and continuing to work with the IB. She also wants to go back to school herself. She was interested in pursuing a PhD but was unsure about what field to study. Her years spent teaching informed her curiosity about children and how they learn. She said that she’s “fascinated about how kids learn and how to find better ways to help them learn.”

She would also like to spend time volunteer at New York Chinese Scholars Garden in Staten Island. She wants to help bring student groups to visit the garden built by Chinese artists entirely More…

BSGE Running Club Runs McCarren 5K Reply

Mr. Anderson, Mr. David-Lang, Betsy Morales, Eammon Kelsall, Kohen Rahman, Aadarsh Dekvota, Ms. Schwarz, Ms. Rabines, Brandon Chu (Left to right)

Mr. Anderson, Mr. David-Lang, Betsy Morales, Eammon Kelsall, Kohen Rahman, Aadarsh Dekvota, Ms. Schwarz, Ms. Rabines, Brandon Chu (Left to right)

Members from BSGE’s running club ran in the McCarren 5K at McCarren Park in Brooklyn on Saturday May 30th. The run was organized by NYCRUNS and benefitted St. Nicks Alliance. BSGE’s running club had been meeting and training together twice a week for almost three months prior to the event. Each week the club, composed of both students and staff members, followed a training regimen at Astoria Park. The regimen was designed to help participants go from a lifestyle of very little physical activity to be in good enough shape to run a 5k. The Running Club was new this year but will continue in September.



BSGE Hosts Fourth Annual Team Geography Bee Reply

photo 5Ms. Dikes and Mr. Lakhaney hosted BSGE’s fourth annual Team Geography Bee on Thursday, May 28th. Students from grades 7-12 participated with 27 teams and almost 100 students in attendance. “The Betty White Power Rangers,” a team composed of 10th grade students, Malcolm Sherman-Godfrey, Adrian Kulesza, and John Bost, finished in first and each took home $20 gift amazon gift certificates along with copies of Chimera by David Wellington. “The Bomb.Com,” composed of 7th graders Owen Smith, Rashmika Batra, More…

Helping Hands’ Spring Blood Drive Collects 33 pints of Blood Reply


Senior Nick F ’15 donating blood on the New York Blood Center Bus


The New York Blood Center bus parked outside BSGE

Helping hands hosted its annual Spring blood drive on March 19th. The New York Blood Center parked its truck outside BSGE and collected 33 pints of blood from the BSGE community. Students, parents, and faculty all donated during the blood drive. Many more students were interested in donating but were excluded for various reasons. The potential pool of BSGE donors is strictly limited by the minimum age requirements. To be considered for donation, you must be at least 16 years old. Interested individuals who are old enough are then asked to complete a questionnaire about their personal histories. Those who make it past that step are brought onto the donation bus and have various health metrics measured such as blood iron levels, weight, and blood pressure. Only those deemed healthy enough to donate are allowed to. 57 members of the BSGE community were interested in donating but only 33 were able to based on the process.

Each pint of blood can save up to three lives. Not enough New Yorkers donate blood to meet local needs and New York City is chronically short.

Class of 2014 Receives Record 40 IB Diplomas Reply

BSGE’s class of 2014 received a school record 40 IB diplomas. Of the 63 students who graduated in 2014, 56 completed all of the IB requirements and 40 received enough points to earn the IB diploma. 2014’s class also had the highest percentage of graduating seniors receive the diploma in BSGE’s history (see table below).

Ms. Jennifer Dikes, IB coordinator and 12th grade history teacher, commented that it was “sheer awesome that they did so well. I’m really proud of them.”

Ms. Dikes added that what differentiated this group of students from past groups was their attitudes toward attaining the IB Diploma. “Almost all of the students understood that More…

New Boys Soccer Team Finishes 7-1-2 Reply

DSC_0103The newly established BSGE Boys soccer team finished its inaugural season with 7 wins, 1 loss, and 2 ties. Though BSGE’s team was far less experienced than its opponents’ more established teams, BSGE outscored its opponents 49-9 over the course of the season.

Because this was the first season playing PSAL soccer, BSGE was considered a developmental team which meant that the team played a full schedule against other schools but did not qualify for the playoffs regardless of its record. In order to move past developmental status, PSAL looks to see that BSGE “participates in all games, has proper equipment, dedication, and strong interest from the school community” according to Virge Ramos and all indications are More…

7th Grader, Annelie Hyatt, Performs at Writopia’s Spoken Word Reply

Annelie copy

Annelie Hyatt performing on stage. Click on the image to view her performance.

BSGE 7th grade Annelie Hyatt performed her spoken word poem titled, The Immaturity Dissection (full poem included below), at a recent event at Writopia’s Spoken Word at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Annelie wrote this poem as part of a program she attends at Writopia Labs where she has been developing her writing for the past couple of years.

Annelie says that she was always into writing and then two or three years ago her mom helped her find this program. At Writopia “there are instructors who are published authors in literary magazines and newspapers who come to teach kids who like writing once a week” Annelie explains. Each week the kids get to More…

Long Time BSGE Teacher, Linda Ellman to Retire Reply

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Linda Ellman with her daughter, Leah

At the end of the current school year, long time BSGE history teacher, Linda Ellman, plans to retire.  Linda has been teaching for 17 years and upon retirement she is looking forward to continuing her lifelong engagement in social activism as well as to the arrival of her first grandchild.

After hearing the news of the retirement, Linda’s former and current students communicated a lot of praise and appreciation for her work. Current student, Lydia Stetson ’15 said, “Linda is not only an amazing teacher but also a great person just to sit down and have a conversation with…BSGE won’t be the same without her!”

Former student Jolijt Tamanaha ’11 shared, “I loved her! I think Linda has a huge amount of passion for everything she believes in and does, including teaching, which is More…

BSGE Alumnus Jolijt Tamanaha Sells Company, has New Start Up Reply

Farmplicity copyBSGE Alumnus and former BACC Rag editor, Joijt Tamanaha recently sold her St. Louis based startup company, Farmplicity, to Sunfarm Food Service in May 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

Ms. Tamanaha (BSGE Class of 2011) created the company as part of an entrepreneurship class at Washington University in St Louis where she is currently a student. The company was created to allow local farmers to sell their produce, fruits, and meats to area restaurants through a simple,


Personal Project Focus: Christian Trotti Writes a Civil War Novel Reply

For his personal project, Christian Trotti wrote a historical novel that takes place during the Civil War. His final work, titled, A Brother’s Blood, ended up being over 100,000 words. He is currently looking for a publisher so that he can share his work. You can download and read the prologue to the novel here: Prologue of A Brother’s Blood

Below is an interview with Christian Trotti about his project.

1. Where did you get the idea for this project?

The idea of creating a historical novel about the American Civil War had been present in my mind since the beginning of the Personal Project. I have always been passionate about creative writing, especially in the form of short stories and poems. However, I had never embarked on writing a longer work such as a novel because I never felt I had the right opportunity or a significant amount of time to work extensively on it. When I was presented with the Personal Project, I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to write a novel, because it would force me to complete the task. I wanted to challenge myself and achieve something that I had never achieved before. As for the historical aspect of my novel, I chose the Civil War as the setting and main event because the Civil War is my favorite time period in American history. Ever since I visited the Battlefield of Gettysburg four years ago and read Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, I was inspired by the glory and horror of this bloody conflict. Therefore, I wanted to write a book that would inform people, especially students, about this significant time period while providing a dramatic and engaging historical fiction plot.

2. Can you describe the process of going from an idea to a finished product?

The process of going from an idea to a finished project was very difficult and lasted months. First, I needed to develop the basic plot of my book before researching information. I decided that the novel More…

Personal Project Focus: Maya Juman Photographs Invisible Beauty Reply


Photo of a Sunset Moth wing

For her personal project, 10th grader Maya Juman photographed natural objects through a compound light microscope and compiled her favorite images into a photo book. She waded through thousands of images and chose her favorite forty to include in her book titled, Invisible Beauty. You can download a pdf of her book here: Invisible Beauty

1. What was your inspiration for doing this project?


I was inspired to explore photomicrography for my personal project after seeing a photo gallery at the American Museum of Natural History, with microscopic images of insects, fossils and artifacts. I was interested in photographing feathers, insects, sand and other organic materials on my own, using the compound light microscope instead of a high-powered electron microscope. I took my photographs using a Nikon 1 V2 camera with a macro lens. I was also inspired to look at insects because of my own mild phobia of them. I wanted to take photographs that would reveal the beauty in bugs to myself and others.


2. What did you learn while doing this project? 


This project gave me a greater appreciation for the natural world, especially the world beyond the naked eye. Without it, I never would have had the chance to examine a spider’s knee, or the scratches on More…

Scaffolding Goes Up Around BSGE Reply

ScaffoldingScaffolding went up around the BSGE building in March 2013 so that the landlord could make some much needed repairs. It is no secret that our building has many issues particularly when it rains. The current repairs are focused primarily on dealing with the “water infiltration issue” according to Darnell Murray Jr., BSGE’s handyman. This is the first phase of the project in which workers cut into the exterior of the building in various places to assess the state of the steel beams underneath the surface of the building to see whether any of them need replacing and the extent of the damage done from the chronic leaking. Then they plan to run some tests to figure out how the water is getting into the building. Finally they plan to use these assessments to complete repairs that should stop the water from leaking through the windows and ceiling tiles each time it rains.


A common sight above windows around the building

Personal Project Focus: Jamie Carroll Sells Cupcakes to Raise Money for Charity Reply

photoFor her 10th grade personal Project, Jamie Carroll raised money for charity by baking and selling cupcakes at BSGE. In order to raise more money, each cupcake she sold was also a raffle ticket that allowed those who bought cupcakes also to have a chance to win either $50 or $100. The winning cupcakes had the winning dollar amounts written on the bottom of the cupcake wrappers. Below is an interview with Ms. Carroll about her project.

1. What charity were you raising money for? How much did you end up donating? How many cupcakes did you sell?

I raised money for the Hour Children Foundation. The Hour Children Foundation is a foundation that owns a facility that is used to help children who have incarcerated mothers. The foundation is located in Long Island City which is not too far from our school and it helps guide mothers and children to have a healthy and stable relationship while the mothers are in jail and even when they are released. I raised a total of $507 between cupcake sales and donations. I made a total of 216 cupcakes and I sold approximately 180 of those cupcakes because after the fundraiser, I gave the remaining cupcakes to the French Club and asked them to sell them at the Mardi Gras party. More…

Full Tuition Scholarships Already Awarded to Four BSGE Seniors Reply


The Award Recipients: Ivan Pereda, Ricardo Aguayo, Andrea Joseph, and Kyle Diangkinay.(Left to right) Photo Credit Kei Hyska

BSGE Seniors Andrea Joseph, Ivan Pereda, Kyle Diangkinay, and Ricardo Aguayo have already received full tuition scholarships to college by receiving highly competitive, esteemed awards.

Andrea Joseph received a full scholarship to Vassar College through the Quest Bridge College Match program (http://www.questbridge.org), the first BSGE student ever to win this prestigious award. Her scholarship covers full tuition, room and board, books, and a work study job with a total value over $200,000.

quest bridge

Ivan Pereda, Kyle Diangkinay, and Ricardo Aguayo received full tuition scholarships through the POSSE program (http://www.possefoundation.org): Mr. Pereda to University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mr. Diangkinay to Wheaton College and Mr. Aguayo to Brandeis University. Each POSSE scholarship also includes full tuition with the total awards varying by school.

Several of BSGE’s past graduates have also More…

BSGE Donates a Record 39 Pints of Blood Reply

BSGE held its annual Blood Drive in conjunction with the New York Blood Center on February 16th.

The BSGE community contributed a school record 39 pints of blood.  The blood is separated into its component parts and distributed around the New York area to patients and hospitals.

The New York Blood Center Truck parked in front of BSGE

Though many in our community were enthusiastic to donate, the Blood Center has strict criteria for donation.  Prospective donors can More…

Environmental Issue at BSGE Reply

The week of November 14th, 2011, the BSGE community was informed that there was a presence of two chlorinated solvents, tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) in the soil vapors underneath BSGE’s foundation.
The level of each of the chemicals has always been well below the New York State Department of Health Air Guideline Values (NYSDOH AGV’s) but when testing was first done in 2008, the levels were above the routine background levels found in the average New York State home.
The New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) has More…

BSGE Class of 2011 Receives a Record Number of IB Diplomas Reply

                         The Class of 2011 at Graduation.                             Photo Credit: Ms Van Schilfgaarde

BSGE’s Class of 2011 received a school record 36 IB Diplomas last year. Of the 64 students who graduated in 2011, 55 were IB Diploma candidates and 36 students received enough points to earn the full IB diploma, a major achievement for the students and the school. “They worked together to support each other in the gauntlet of senior year and the IB exam process. Hopeful- ly this will continue to benefit them in their college years” said 12th grade IB History of the Americas teacher and Diploma coordinator, Ms. Jennifer Dikes.

In addition to their hard work, Ms. Connie You, 10th and 11th grade English teacher, identified More…