2016-2017 Archives by Anokha V '19 Features students

From Poland to America: Bartolomie Halibart

Meet Bart. Bartolomie Halibart, our tenth-grade Polish transfer student, has added lots of character to the grade. Bart, as most people call him, came from Krakow, Poland. He left Krakow, the “most beautiful city in Poland”, to arrive in New York City on June 26th, 2016. However, it’s not his first time here. Previously, Bart lived in New York City from 2002 to 2007, then moved back. He used to live on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. On this Bart remarked, “They call me Brooklyn Bart.” He is to be a man of many monikers: another form of his name is Bartolomiej, which combines his English name and Bartłomiej, his Polish name.

Currently, Bart resides in Ridgewood, Queens with his parents, his sister Katarzyna or Katherine, and his Yorkshire terrier Dexter. He described his commute to school in detail, with more knowledge about the subway map than many of his fellow classmates. New York was well missed by Bart: he proudly stated how great it was to be back. Bart had much to say for his second time in the city.

by Jaime T '20 by Jasmine S '20

Nicole Rodriguez’s Personal Project: Ending Animal Cruelty

OtisCertificate2016BSGE-page-001This year, a sophomore named Nicole Rodriguez decided to adopt a pig and a sheep for her personal project to save both animals from animal abuse. Nicole has been vegan for over a year, and has always been passionate about animal rights. She has used the personal project as an opportunity to raise money to sponsor Otis the pig and Claria the sheep.

“Earlier in the summer, I went to a vegan expo which had a display on Sanctuary Farms. I knew instantly that this is what I wanted to do my personal project on,” Nicole explains. Although she was already vegan, she was inspired to do more than simply refraining from eating animal products. So she successfully guided two animals to a better life.

by Justin H '17

Personal Projects: Fundraising Edition

Two personal projects this year were more visible to the school than most. These are the fundraising projects, one by Isabelle Mah ’17 and the other by Najwa Jamal ’17. You might have seen ads for different kinds of sales around the school, such as a burrito sale or a Christmas-themed bake sale.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Mah
Photo Credit: Isabelle Mah

Isabelle raised money for the Wild Bird Fund, the only wildlife rehabilitation center in New York City, with a goal of $500. She did three different fundraisers in school for it, one joint sale with Najwa and two burrito sales. Though a burrito sale is an odd choice, Isabelle explained that “it was a fun and creative way to raise awareness about my project and fundraiser without following the usual norm.” This certainly worked, as the three fundraisers made $276 for Isabelle total, more than half of the way to her goal. The rest and more was made up by an online campaign, which, although the project itself has ended, remains open until the end of March for people to donate to, and can be found here:

Photo Credit: Isabelle Mah
Photo Credit: Isabelle Mah

Najwa’s personal project is for Services for the Underserved, an organization that helps mentally challenged homeless people in NYC. She chose this organization because she sees many homeless people,

by Moshan G '17

The Current vs. Redesigned SAT

During the spring of 2016, a new version of the SAT—the Standardized Admissions Test—will be distributed among high school juniors. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the role of the SAT, this exam claims to assess your college-readiness and is usually taken by 11th and 12th grade students in high school. SAT scores are a crucial part in the college admission process, however more and more schools are becoming SAT optional. Unlike the current SAT, this redesigned SAT contains more questions that are relevant to what you are learning in school and greatly focuses on the skills you need for college and career readiness.


By creating a new SAT, the College Board wants to fix a major flaw in the current SAT: its majority irrelevance to the high school curriculum. Many of the components involved in this current exam are not taught in high schools, which may prove to be disadvantageous for students because they will have to prep for themselves in order to prepare for the exam. For example, the current SAT reading section contains many obscure words that are rarely used or taught at school. In preparing for the SAT, many students pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to enter prep classes and purchase study books. The new SAT, on the othe

by Moshan G '17

Color War Tensions

BSGE has had a long-standing tradition of “Color War Wednesday” each year during Spirit Week, organized by the senior council. On this day, each grade is assigned a different color to wear, and despite its name, the day has always generated friendly rivalries between the grades, and more importantly, school spirit. But this year on Wednesday, October 29, sophomores rebelled against seniors by wearing black, instead of their assigned color, yellow. For the past 3 years, the students from the class of 2017 have worn red. However, this year’s transition from wearing red to yellow angered many students. Some claimed to have asked a few seniors to change the 10th grade color to maroon, and instead been told to “stop complaining.” Many decided to protest against this by wearing the seniors’ assigned color: black. “Yellow is a really ugly color,” a tenth grade student says, “so we wore black to show the seniors that they don’t own black. We can wear it too.” An anonymous sophomore adds, “Yes, seniors assigned the colors, but if they gave themselves black, we can give ourselves black too. Why not?” What started out as a mild turmoil among a few students in the 10th grade against the color yellow became a successful “revolt” that inspired more than half the grade to wear black.

The "Color War Wednesday" poster in the cafeteria, shown here ripped and damaged after 10th graders attempted to change their assigned color.
The “Color War Wednesday” poster in the cafeteria, shown here ripped and damaged after 10th graders attempted to change their assigned color.

Many seniors were offended and annoyed by the actions of the sophomores. Joshua Vaiman ’15 shared his thoughts. “I think it’s childish, honestly, when I was talking to them [sophomores] they were saying how they were rebelling against us. I don’t understand what there is to rebel against. If you didn’t want the color you could’ve just handled it in a more mature way

by Moshan G '17

The IB Science Dilemma

During each year at BSGE, high school students are overwhelmed with school work and exams, leaving them almost no time to socialize with friends and family. On top of this, eleventh and twelfth graders enter the IB Diploma program, a rigorous educational program that trains students to succeed in college and beyond. Near the end of the year, tenth grade students are asked to choose their science course for the IB program out of two choices: IB Biology or IB Chemistry. Students who are confident about which subject they like have a really easy time figuring out which one to pick, but for the ones who are undecided, the decision may turn out to be very hard. The subject they pick may impact them not only at school, but also at the college they attend. Below are explanations of what students study once they enter IB Chemistry or IB Biology, which may help you to decide which course to pick when entering the IB program.

Ms. Mihalache explains: IB Chemistry and IB Biology are both part of the IB science component (Group 4) needed to receive the IB Diploma. BSGE offers a choice of Biology Standard Level (SL) and Chemistry SL. Students get to express their choice late in June and the ultimate decision is made by the science teacher in consultation with other subject teachers. Both courses require the same number of

by Moshan G '17

BSGE Sophomores’ Personal Projects

BSGE is starting its 13th year of the Middle Years Program (MYP) for sophomores by beginning the personal project process. The personal project is an important part of the International Baccalaureate Organization’s MYP because it requires the student to use skills learned from the 7th through 10th grades. It encourages the student to explore their own interests and creativity under certain guidelines. 10th graders have to choose their own Guiding Question and Area of Interaction while exploring the project. During the months before tenth grade, part of the summer assignment was to come up with the initial personal project topic and explore the topic through research at the Mid-Manhattan Library. Not only is this project self-directed, it also helps prepare students for the IB program and Extended Essay in 11th and 12th grade. Students are required to create a product, whether it is a book, a sculpture, a film, or any other culminating piece of work. During the process, they keep a process journal to record their plans and actions for the project, and they also write a project report that describes the process they underwent. The majority of the personal project work is completed independently and outside of school, except for times when students need to discuss their project with their advisors and supervisors, usually during advisory or office hours. After finishing and submitting their projects, the 10th graders are required to present their projects to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders in order to help the students prepare for their own personal projects. Below are a few interviews from some selected sophomores on their personal projects:

1) Sakina Ali

  1. What is your personal project topic? My personal project is about memorizing the 206 bones of the human body.
  2. How are you going to display your project? I am going to create a paper mache skeleton from memory and then use many cultures of the world and their art to decorate the skeleton.
  3. Why did you choose this topic? I am interested in both art and science and want to connect them together through the personal project.
  4. What do you think will be the best part of this project? I think part of it is because I’m interested in the topic and also that it will be quite easy to document the process in my process journal.
  5. What do you think will be the hardest part of this project? The memorizing part and also when I will do the work and divide it up. I also don’t know how I will connect memorizing the bones with making a decorative skeleton.
  6. What benefits do you hope will come from exploring this topic? I will have the bones all memorized if I decide to approach science or biology as something I want to explore in the future for my career.
by Jonathan Z '18

Students Embark on Cultural Trip to France & Spain

On April 1oth, thirty six BSGE students varying from sophomores to juniors, went to France and Spain for a cultural immersion trip. This year’s trip marks the third time BSGE students have traveled to a foreign country. Accompanying them to Europe were six chaperones, all teachers from BSGE. The number of chaperones increased drastically from the prior cultural trip, given the amount of students attending this year. This year’s chaperones included yoga teacher Ms. Jackson, humanities teacher Mr. Lakhaney, math teacher Mr. Mehan, and chemistry teacher Ms. Mihalache. Other chaperones included foreign language teachers Mr. Giraldo and Mr. Rajiv Mahajan, who teach Spanish and French respectively. Students spent their entire spring break visiting various landmarks and experiencing the cultural influences of both European nations.

Students departed for Europe on a Thursday, a typical school day. After school ended, students stayed after school with their baggages to take a bus to the airport. Mr. Giraldo said how some of the students looked “so excited and couldn’t wait to go on the trip.” At the airport, the students boarded a flight to Paris, France. The next morning, they arrived at Paris and dropped of their luggage at the hotel.


by Vivian Y '16

10th Grade Spanish Class Cooking Field Trip

BSGE’s Spanish teacher, Mr. Giraldo, started the school year with a plan of three field trips for the 10th grade. The first trip was an international outing to Spain and France during Spring Break. The second trip he planned was to the Museum of Modern Art to view a special exhibition on Hispanic artists. Mr. Giraldo’s students briefly studied famous Hispanic artists like Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Fernando Botero, and Salvador Dali to prepare for their trip to MoMA. They learned about the history of these artists and the many styles of art that were exemplified in their works. Students were paired with partners to create Powerpoint presentations on the artists that they chose to study. Unfortunately, the trip to MoMA was cancelled because of conflicting schedules.

However, Mr. Giraldo had planned yet another trip for his students. It was a trip to A La Carte, a cooking school located in Lynbrook, NY. Since Mr. Giraldo teaches two separate groups of students in the tenth grade, his B-day students went to the trip on Tuesday, May 27th, and his A-day students followed after on Friday, May 30th. To get to A La Carte, students met Mr. Giraldo and the chaperones, English teacher Ms. Meisler and school aid Ms. Noboa, in the lobby at 8:55am. Students and chaperones took the MTA subway train and Long Island Railroad.

Photo Credit: Mr. Giraldo
by Maya J '16

Personal Project Focus: Gabriel Steinberg Creates a Full-Length Album

For his 10th grade personal project, Gabriel Steinberg wrote, recorded and produced an album of original music. The album, titled Into the Arms of Morpheus, includes ten instrumental tracks. You can listen to his music here: Into the Arms of Morpheus


1) What was your inspiration for this project?

I have wanted to record an album since I started really enjoying playing music, and since too often I start big projects and never finish them, I figured the personal project was a great opportunity to give me extra incentive to finish this project.  I would have eventually recorded an album anyway but I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by making it my personal project.

2) What was the hardest part of the process?
The hardest part of the entire process was motivating myself to not just improvise for hours once I picked up the guitar.  That was what I would normally do but I couldn’t do it anymore since I had to get an album done.  It was hard to convince myself to cross the border from just messing around all the time to actually sitting down for hours on end and recording music.  Sometimes it felt a little more like work than fun but I’m glad that feeling was rare for me, because I’m sure other people felt that throughout their entire project.
by Mr. Lakhaney

Personal Project Focus: Christian Trotti Writes a Civil War Novel

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

by Maya J '16 by Mr. Lakhaney

Personal Project Focus: Maya Juman Photographs Invisible Beauty

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