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2017-2018 Archives BSGE by Lalla A '20 News

Absence of the PSAT for the Tenth Grade

Every year, the PSATs (NMSQT) are administered to students in the tenth and eleventh grade. They are meant to give students the chance to understand the content of the SATs, and how much they need to study for them. For those in the eleventh grade, it is a chance to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, which enables high scoring students to be contacted by prestigious universities. This year, most students in NYC sat down on October 11th to take the test, but not the tenth graders of BSGE.

Less than a week before the PSAT, tenth graders were told that they would not be taking the test, leading to many complaints of its absence. The lack of a notice for the cancellation left many wondering why the school was not able to inform students earlier, and why steps were not taken to ensure there would be a solution to it. An anonymous student said, “It would have helped tremendously if the school staff decided to convey this information to us at least two weeks in advance. If the students were told of this earlier, we could have conversed with our parents and overall have more time to bargain with the principal on terms on which to take the PSAT.” The test was supposed to play a crucial part in preparing for next year’s SATs—a seemingly critical test in the college application process. Boguniecki ’20 agreed to this, saying they felt as if “it is a good practice that allows for the students to know what to expect on the future test and what to study for in that year-long gap between now and the SAT test day.” There was definitely anger and confusion felt by the tenth grade, with no official notice being given out. It took word of mouth and a few students repeatedly inquiring about it in order for students to be first informed about the lack of the test. While it was still the beginning of the year, there was overall agreement that better organization was needed for students to be well informed about the workings of the school. The year has just started, but it can be agreed that a more efficient form of informing students on important information is needed as soon as possible.

Some were outraged that the school could not administer the test as it has a relatively cheap cost.  Registration for the test is $16 per student. While this fee is usually covered by the school or DOE, that was not the case this year. Salkanovic ‘20 said, “ I do believe that the students would be willing to pay for some if not most of it themselves, as it would personally help them in the future with scholarships and college administration.” Indeed, in the aftermath of the revelation, many discussed their willingness to pay the fee themselves, just for the opportunity to be able to take it. While it is understood that budgeting has been a persistent concern for the school, students are prepared to work together to provide the funds for aspects that the school cannot cover.

As parents got wind of the cancellation, many began to contact the school and complain about this. Around the grade, students told tales of how annoyed their parents were that they would not be taking the PSATs. Due to this, the school is now administering the test for the tenth grade, this February, in order for students to get the practice that they need. As for why the test was cancelled in the first place, it has been rumored that it was due to the DOE no longer funding the test and BSGE not having enough space.

As February approaches, anxiety for the tenth graders has been building up. Good luck to everyone who will be taking the test!

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2017-2018 Archives by Eliza P '23 Features students

Overbooked Seventh Grade Schedules?

In the first year of their BSGE career, many seventh graders are ecstatic about having such a large variety of clubs to join. However, this results in a large problem–many new students have gotten a bit too excited and decided to join one club for each day of the week. These students try to pledge every spare minute of their time to school. While there is nothing wrong with being devoted to BSGE, students need some spare time. Many seventh grade students spend every waking moment they have juggling clubs, homework, and volunteer work. Many Seventh graders no longer have spare time to spend with their families or engage in personal leisure time. Moments of rest are only acquired when multiple teachers are extremely forgiving and decide not to assign homework. Too much dedication can result in high levels of stress, which isn’t beneficial for anyone.

All of this is coming from a 7th grader who spends every day buried in tasks to complete. Mondays are booked until 3:30 for Helping Hands meetings. Wednesday is dedicated to the Robotics club. On Thursdays, I am typing away on the BaccRag. Lastly, on Fridays, I attend P.I.N.C. subcommittee meetings. I also do a large amount of volunteer work over the weekends and on holidays. Multiple others that I know have very similar schedules. For many of us, Tuesday is not a free day either; it is reserved for sports like basketball and dance.

One 7th grader with a particularly overbooked schedule is Mehak R. ‘23. Her schedule consists of Helping Hands on Monday, personal basketball on Tuesday, Robotics on Wednesday, and P.I.N.C sub-committee meetings on Friday. Her time is also filled with basketball games and volunteer work. When asked about her thoughts on her packed schedule, she said, “I don’t always want to do it all, but I feel like I have to because I want a good job.” Many people constantly feel the weight of their future resting on their shoulders.

Another seventh grader who has an overbooked schedule is Camille P. ‘23, who holds the same schedule as Mehak R. ‘23. When questioned about her schedule, she responded with, ”I sometimes feel very stressed about my future and I am not used to this busy schedule.”

Many students still struggle with adjusting to their schedules. It is tough on the students and builds stress. Regardless, these busy schedules are sure to provide the Class of 2023 with successful BSGE futures.

 

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2017-2018 Archives by Janielle D '19 Entertainment and Culture Health

Eczema: Not Just A Punch Line

October was Eczema Awareness Month, and as someone who has continuously struggled with it since birth, I have been quite literally itching to talk about it. 

Skin issues run in the family; my brother and sister had eczema, my aunt had skin rashes as a kid, and my nephews deal with it as well. Until my first nephew, my eczema was the worst my immediate family had ever seen. The raw blistering rashes plagued my face, neck, stomach, elbows, legs — my whole body. At such a young age, I was exposed to countless steroidal creams, moisturizers, and even oral steroidal medicine to subdue the pain. Of course, time was only the most consistent and effective remedy.

Growing up was difficult, with the trauma extending far past my skin, leaving scars that couldn’t be seen in the physical keloids on the inside of my elbows. As a young child, I couldn’t understand why it was so itchy, or why my mom would get mad when I succumbed to the temptation to scratch. Obviously, it was because I was literally tearing away at my skin and putting myself in more pain, and she didn’t want that. What mother would just sit back while her daughter ruined her body, even if it was involuntary? We tried everything past the medicine: wearing gloves or socks on my hands–yet the friction of the fabric would always find a way to relieve the itch— or placing warm damp towels on my rashes. Sure, the itch was overpowered by the pain of the temperature and water, but the water would just make it itchier. I even resorted to hitting it instead of itching. Nonetheless, the itching persisted.

It wasn’t until I started going to school that I finally realized that this wasn’t normal. I thought every kid was like this. Don’t get me wrong, many kids are; the countless “Oh you have eczema? I had that when I was younger, but I grew out of it”s got redundant quickly. The point is that no one around me was like that. Every other kid I knew swam in the ocean without the salt water torturing him or her. Every other kid I knew wore spaghetti strap tank tops without glaring red patches on his or her shoulders. Every other kid I knew didn’t stutter and feel isolated when someone pointed on his or her arms asking, “What’s that?”

I don’t think I ever consciously started linking all of this to my skin until about third grade when I transferred to a different school because of its Gifted and Talented program. My first year the school still had uniforms, so I was able to hide behind long sleeved white collar shirts until it got to late Spring, when it was too hot to function. I remember one instance so vividly; it was one of the first times I stopped caring about hiding because it was compromising my comfort—as if eczema itself doesn’t do that. One of my close friends pointed at my rashes during lunch and asked me, “Why don’t you hide it?” I have no idea what I said to play it off, but that was one of my earliest memories of actually feeling bad about not having skin like other kids’.

As I progressed through elementary school, my physical appearance stopped being a top priority; hello chapped lips and awkwardly shaped glasses. By pushing back how badly I felt about my skin, I was able to find who I was in something else: my grades. I grew up as the “smart kid” – the stereotypical Asian girl who had glasses, played some musical instrument, and got 100s. Who cared about my skin if everything else about me was perfect? I didn’t. By distracting myself—and hopefully everyone else around me—from my skin, I created an obsession for perfection in every other part of me. Looking back on it now, it was one of the biggest roots of my continuous struggle of accepting that I’m “good enough.” I know a 97 is good, but a 100 is great, and a 105 is even better. While I’ve recently identified this perfectionism as compromising to my mental health, it is still an uphill climb.

Even after fifth grade graduation, sixth grade at my zone school, and seventh and eighth grade at BSGE, my skin was still quite bad. I wasn’t blistering on every inch of my skin, sure, but I was still in constant and excruciating pain. Even simply stretching out my arm would be unbearable. Even with mounds of moisturizer to soothe it, the skin was so raw and dry that it would crack the moment it was taut. Everyday tasks such as taking a shower were made ten times harder. I would have to cup the back of my legs with my hands and bend my elbows while doing this, which resulted in an awkward crouching position, in the shower to make my skin slowly accustomed to the water, which sent sharp and sudden pain when making the slightest contact with any of my rashes. Even when my skin became accustomed to it, washing it with soap was a whole other story.

It was just so frustrating. I knew it was bad for me, so why couldn’t I stop? Why did I consciously relieve the itch temporarily just to bring myself to exponentially greater pain later on? I knew what was wrong with me: I had eczema. But what was wrong with me? I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just use that information to stop and be normal. Even to this day, I mentally yell at myself for scratching. It’s something that I should be able to stop doing, yet I just can’t.

In addition to the obsessive perfectionism and internal self-punishment, the insecurities regarding my skin still linger. Eczema still plagues me, even if it’s just on the back of my neck, inside my legs, and inside my elbows, with the seasonal rashes on my upper chest, back, and shoulders. The steroids have left their permanent marks on my body, from the keloids on my skin to my lack of a growth spurt; all thanks to the medicine I ingested a child. There are so many outfits I wish I had the confidence to wear, had my skin not decided to be so ugly. There are days I wish I could wear makeup without the skin under my eyebrows and my eyelids being flaky. This isn’t even mentioning the number of future situations I’m afraid that I’ll deal with – what if a boy stops liking me because of my skin? Sure, it sounds stupid written down, but I’d like to tell myself that it is a valid fear after 16 years of “Is that contagious?” and “You can always cover it up!” and “You’re still pretty!”.

While a lot of my problems were internalized and self-inflicted, so many of my insecurities and issues with myself were rooted in how other people had viewed me during crucial developmental points of my life. I’m not saying that we’re ever going to stop curious children from trying to learn more about people whose skin doesn’t look like theirs, but by late elementary school and even middle school, you’d think this ignorance would have been expelled already.

The stigma around eczema specifically ranges from being associated with bad hygiene to being the basis of jokes and roasts. It’s something that leaves so many children and teens with long-lasting problems linked to body dysmorphia and other mental illnesses. From simple things such as having a more inquisitive tone as opposed to a disgusted one when asking someone about their eczema, or to larger ways such as supporting eczema cure research, we could minimize these effects. If you’re ever interested in learning more, there are some interesting articles on nationaleczema.org that range from basic information to physical self-care and mental self-help.

How could you do this if you’re someone who deals with eczema? In my opinion, reaching out to other people you see struggling is one of the most effective ways. I will never forget the one time a freshman—at the time—direct messaged me on Instagram when I was in seventh grade, telling me how she understood how I felt and that it does get better with time and treatment. This is almost my way of repaying the universe for bringing her to me; now it’s your turn.

 

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2017-2018 Archives BSGE by Krista P '22 News

BSGE Blackout!

Friday the 13th. A day full of paranoia and caution for some, but a day of anticipation and giddiness for others. BSGE Blackout—which was on October 13th, if you NEVER check your email—was the start to the school’s annual festivities. Last year fostered the Fall Ball and the French Club’s Mardi Gras dance. Both events had mixed reactions, but regardless, both were still successful school-run events. This year’s Blackout was fairly similar in organization to many of the previous dances the school has run; held in the cafegymatorium, balloons, streamers, loud music, the infamous oversized beach ball, strobe lights, and a multitude of excessively sweat-drenched entities trying not to pass out from all the dancing they’ve mustered all their courage to do.

With these mixed reactions, came both receptions of content and pure hatred. Very few provided full-length stories stating the beginning, middle, and end with very prominent opinions on each aspect of every moment. Farah T. ‘22 said, “It couldn’t beat the Fall Ball, but it had a lot of nice people. The seniors made it really fun!” Katherine Y. ‘22 said, “I honestly didn’t have fun, whatsoever. The music wasn’t my taste; it was all rap.” , Maria R. ‘18 said, “ In my opinion, Blackout met my expectations. Our DJ, Eamon, another senior at our school, did a good job of keeping the music upbeat. Even though I was working, I still enjoyed the party atmosphere that the DJ, senior council, and the student body created.”

To conclude this very exciting occasion, the Blackout was one of the many BSGE-related “raves”, full of every reception in the book, ranging from the strongest feeling of dislike to the strongest feeling of ecstasy. This dance will go down in the books as an objectively memorable dance (except for those like me, who were drunk on adrenaline and made pacts with their friends to not bring up anything that happened at Blackout again). Also, for those of you who didn’t attend this was just a very big social gathering where everything that you could imagine to happen, happened.

 

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2017-2018 Archives BSGE by Artemis C '22 News

What is the SHSAT?

On Saturday and Sunday, October 21 to 22, New York received a blast of beautiful weather, perhaps the last before winter set in. While people all over the city were relishing in  this fleeting blast of summer, thousands of eighth and ninth grade students gathered at a designated high school in their area to take the formidable SHSAT. Hopes of getting into their dream school were high, with many having prepared for this moment for months, or maybe even years.

The SHSAT, or Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, is an exam used by eight of the nine specialized high schools in New York City to determine whether students were qualified to attend one of the schools. The eight high schools that use the SHSAT in their admission process are Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn High School, Brooklyn Technical School, High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, High School for American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School. The ninth Specialized High School is Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, a school that specializes in visual and performing arts, and selects its students through auditions.

To apply to the specialized schools, a student registers through their school’s guidance counselor. On the application form, they must rank the schools they want to apply to from one to eight, with number one being their most desired school and number eight being their least. There are also boxes where one checks off whether they will audition for LaGuardia. These papers were due on October 12. From there, one receives a ticket from their guidance counselor that details the date, time, and location of their test/audition. The last step is taking the test or auditioning.

SHSAT and LaGuardia results are received in mid-March, a time of anticipation and sometimes dread for several New York City eighth (and ninth) graders. Though about 30,000 students take the SHSAT annually, less than half get into one of their desired schools and even fewer get into their first choice. If one is displeased with the school they have been admitted to, they have to go through the process again in ninth grade. Although there is a second round of the high school application process, the Specialized High Schools do not participate in it.

The majority of eighth graders in BSGE took the SHSAT, and for many, this opportunity has been long awaited. Sadly, many students who did not take the SHSAT still plan on leaving the school. Instead, applying to schools such as Bard and Townsend Harris. Through this hectic process, there have been mixed reactions about the test and high school applications in general. Katherine Y. ‘22 says “I thought the SHSAT was difficult, but not to the point of being impossible. Some questions were so easy you started to doubt yourself, while others were extremely difficult. I don’t know if I made it to my first choice, but it’s okay if I don’t because I like this school.” There are many students that share this sentiment, but others seem a lot more determined to stay in BSGE. Sama N. ‘22 says “I did not take the SHSAT because I wanted to leave this school. I have always liked small schools, since everyone knows everyone, and it feels like family in a way. I am not leaving the school and I am proud to say I go to BSGE.” Others, like Alyssa P. ‘22, are bent on leaving the school, however. She says, “To say I was prepared is fair. I really wanted to go. It’s been my dream to go to Stuyvesant since I was 10.”

BSGE loses students to other high schools every year, creating a large ongoing conflict about the SHSAT and high school applications. Regardless of where they plan to go, best of luck to all the eighth graders in their high school applications!

 

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2017-2018 Archives by Nidhi P '21 News World

Diwali: The Festival of Lights

In BSGE, there are many ethnicities and many different cultures from all around the world. However, in the past week, there was a very popular Indian holiday known as Diwali or Deepavali. This is one of the biggest holidays that is celebrated throughout India. Even so, over the centuries, this holiday has also been celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, regardless of religion. Diwali is as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians.

The meaning behind Diwali holds much significance and has a metaphorical explanation behind it. The word Diwali/Deepavali has been retained from the row (avali) and clay lamps (deepa) that are placed throughout homes. For Hindus, this symbolizes the light that is forcing away the darkness. In short, it conveys that good triumphs over evil.

Correlating this to India, Diwali is celebrated with great grandeur and lots of noise. People have been accustomed for generations to using fireworks and distributing presents, as well as wearing/buying new clothes. Even in the USA, the majority of the Indian population practice such customs. However, the only difference is that the fireworks may not be used everywhere. Diwali is a fantastic sight—homes are illuminated with beautiful lights which would be an exquisite sight in the dark night.

As many BSGE students celebrate Christmas, and shortly thereafter, New Year’s, Diwali is a similar concept. In specific, Diwali serves to be a Christmas as well as a New Year. For Indians, the day after Diwali starts the New Year in the calendar. Therefore, this illustrates a connection that many can feel towards Diwali. In religious terms, during this time, different Hindu goddesses and gods are worshipped, and the main one that is worshipped is Lakshmi.

Diwali is a very enlightening holiday in the Hindu culture and creates a lively environment. This holiday has a lot of splendor and is celebrated throughout the world. The holiday is known as the “Festival of Lights”, a suiting name, as lights cover every inch of the streets. Diwali is known to be India’s biggest holiday and will continue to be so.

 

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2017-2018 Archives by Mrittika H '20 Faculty Features

BSGE’S New Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry Teacher: Mr. Gehlaut

Mr. Gehlaut, BSGE’s new edition to the math department, never intentionally set out to be a teacher. Born and raised in a small village in North India, he left his hometown for America.  After migrating to the U.S., Mr. Gehlaut used to work in Manhattan with a small newspaper called News India Times. He occasionally saw an advertisement for “New York City Teaching Fellowship” in the subway and decided to apply out of pure curiosity. After several interviews, he suggested that he teach Global History and Economics, as he had traveled to many countries. Since he had his undergraduate degree majoring in Math and Economics, the interviewer asked him to teach math. Thankfully, Gehlaut said yes.

When asked what he likes about BSGE, he said, “I like BSGE as a whole institution. Starting from the supportive school leadership and teaching staff to the most important student body, everyone has really impressed me by their motivation and aspirations… I love all my students and their learning styles.”

In his scarce free time, he loves reading newspapers—current affairs and world news—and watching Discovery and National Geographic programs. He also enjoys playing chess to relax. If he were not a math teacher, he would have been working for a newspaper as a journalist, as the topic had essentially led him to America. Mr. Gehlaut became the first person to get an undergraduate degree at the age of 20 in India. He was also named the first Hindi Journalist to win the prestigious British Chevening Scholarship to go to London and study at the University of Westminster and work with the BBC World Service. He is an inspiring addition to the BSGE staff and we wish him the best of luck for his first year at BSGE.

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2016-2017 Archives by Daleelah S '19 Entertainment and Culture Style

Controversy and Cultural Appropriation

Fun in the Sun Friday was the final day of Spirit Week for the 2016-2017 school year, but it didn’t end up being very fun for many people.

Quite a few students came in that day wearing “traditional” Hawaiian apparel, such as leis, luaus, and grass hula skirts. In response, plain posters with text on them were put up in the school’s staircases. They included phrases such as “Hawaiian culture is not your theme” and “Hawaiian culture is not your costume.”  Rather than sparking a conversation, the posters ended up creating controversy and exposing deeply contrasting viewpoints. Generally, students that had come in wearing these items felt personally victimized and targeted, and maintained that their outfits were harmless and not at all an instance of cultural appropriation. This raised debate throughout the school about what does or doesn’t constitute cultural appropriation, a phrase which many people understand differently, and the moral values of which are fairly complicated and debated on by anthropologists and sociologists alike.

First, there needs to be an understanding of what the term “cultural appropriation” implies. The word “appropriation” has traditionally been used as a synonym for institutional or widespread theft. The cultural aspect of this has normally been defined as when “members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.” In the case of Fun In the Sun Friday, the dominant culture would be mainland American culture, while the oppressed culture would be native Hawaiian culture. It’s important to distinguish the two, given Hawaii’s history.

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2016-2017 Archives BSGE by Lalla A '20 News

BSGE’S Lack of High School Ranking

The U.S. News and World Report annually publishes a list of the nation’s, and each state’s, top high schools. For the past few years, BSGE has ranked among the top ten high schools in the state, and among the top 50 in the country. Last year the school was placed at #5 in New York, and #32 nationwide, ranking above Bronx Science and Stuyvesant, among others. This year though, BSGE was not listed among the top ten, or even the top 50 in the state, but rather has lost its high ranking.

This is because of “the lack of IB data,” as stated by the U.S. News and World Report. This year, the newspaper was unable to receive data from the IB, dramatically dropping the school’s rank. As the school is based of the IB program, there was very little data for the newspaper to base the school off of. The most that was gathered was the general statistics, such as number of students and their ethnicities, as well as standardized math and English test scores. There was no mention of the fact that most of the students take IB  exams, which is necessary for an important statistic known as the “college readiness index.” This means BSGE now has a bronze medal with no official ranking, besides being “nationally recognized.”

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

What Do You Meme?

Memes: there is no escaping them. From the Instagram explore page and Twitter relatable accounts to company marketing advertisements and BSGE bake sale posters, memes are used to reach a wide audience, with purposes including entertainment and advertising. While the iconic Pepe and Kermit the Frog memes made their viral Internet debut in the 2010s, memes have been around since the 1940s, connecting people around the world.

The word “meme” was first coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, who described it as “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Under Dawkins, memes were analogous to genes and were considered a “unit of culture” that reproduces itself. Inspired from Dawkins, the study of memes, known as memetics, arose to act as an evolutionary model of the transferring of information within cultures. Despite its scientific beginnings, memes have taken a different route that most people can understand.

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2016-2017 Archives by Rachel R Z '20 Faculty Features

Teacher of the Month: Ed March

Where did you grow up?

I was raised in Brooklyn, New York.

What was your previous job?

My last job was working as loss prevention for Prada in a mall.

What kind of student were you in high school?

I was kind of this odd under-achiever; I could’ve done better, but besides that, I did pretty well.

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2016-2017 Archives by Krista P '22 Features students

How to Make Something of Your Free Time

Free time. Those are words some haven’t heard in a long while, yet don’t realize when they experience it. Therefore, when students get any amount at all of time with almost nothing to worry about, tests or homework, they can just relax. But this leads to frequent boredom, staring at phones, debating whether or not to like a photo from 56 weeks ago.  There has to be a better way to spend the time.

Since free time is so rare, few know how to spend it. Spending free time wisely is meant to give a sense of accomplishment and contentedness with yourself.