Controversy and Cultural Appropriation Reply

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. More…

BSGE’S Lack of High School Ranking Reply

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.” More…

The Flapjack Fundraiser: Making More Than Just Profits Reply

The Flapjack Fundraiser is an annual occurrence at BSGE that not only supports the school’s softball team, but also unifies the school community. This year it was “extremely successful,” according to team member Anela Salkanovic ‘20. The fundraiser provided the softball team with enough money to buy new jerseys and prepare for the upcoming season. It also gave them a chance to celebrate with teachers, parents, and other students in anticipation of their future victories.

The ticket sales are always the biggest producers of the team’s funds, but not the sole basis for the fundraiser’s success. Emily Costa ‘17, one of the team’s captains, explained that “raffles were a big deal” because they profited the team several hundred dollars. She continued, saying that these gains were one of the factors making the fundraiser “at least as good as last year’s…if not better.”

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The Blood Drive of 2017 Reply

With the motto of, “Donate blood now…people can’t live without it,” plastered on posters across the school, some may wonder what exactly went on at the blood drive. This blood drive was sponsored by the Helping Hands Committee, meaning that the general group of people in Helping Hands sponsored the blood drive rather than any specific committee. Peter Wilson, the advisor of Helping Hands, was the one who facilitated the blood drive on the day of. This blood drive was the first blood drive of 2017 and was hosted in partnership with the New York Blood Center. On March 17, from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM, a bus known as the bloodmobile was available with staff, donor beds, and refreshments to ease the process. Helping Hands’ was to collect at least 35 pints of blood for New York City hospitals and other medical facilities to use.

Approximately 45 appointments were made BSGE students, despite the cold weather on the day of the blood drive. However, of those 45 appointments, only 25 were accepted. Despite how enthusiastic students in BSGE were to donate blood, factors including blood type, blood iron level, weight,  height, and countries recently visited affected whether or not one would be accepted to donate blood. Peter mentioned that during the dozen years Helping Hands had sponsored the blood drive, around 65 people would sign up during warm weather, but of those, about one-third to one-half would be rejected. More…

BSGE’s 2017 Winter Concert Reply

On Friday January 20, BSGE’s cafegymatorium was packed with excited parents, teachers, and students, all looking forward to the annual winter concert. The 7th grade, some of the 9th grade, the school orchestra, and several soloists performed specially chosen pieces, including one written by the 9th grade class themselves. These soloists included Lynca Saito ‘21, who played Chopin Nocturne, Erica Lei ‘20 performing River Flows in You, and Ethan Yung ‘19, with the piece La Campanella.

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New Technology at BSGE Reply

Computers. Most students use them all the time in school, whether simply for printing or for working on a major project. Both at home and at school, many could not imagine their lives without them. On the other hand, BSGE’s computers are not exactly high-quality. Many are old and cannot connect the to the Internet, or are just outdated. Only a small portion of our computers are the silver 2013 model Macbooks that both look excellent and perform satsifactorily. However, things might change soon for the better.

According to Shantanu, the technology teacher, BSGE is getting a grant of $70,000 from an organization called Reso A. This grant would cover “New equipment,  a full cart of new computers, several printers, and interactive whiteboards. We hit a snag, and we were at single grant of 70,000 originally, but the grants came from 2 different city councilman so we’re getting 35,000 each,” Shantanu explained. The brand new equipment could end up making a big impact on the school. However, Shantanu cautioned that it could take some time to get final results. The BSGE Administration decided to split the grant into two individual parts. On November 9, the first part of the grant was signed, and, according to Shantanu, “By the end of 2016, we should have the half grant that just got approved.” With the end of 2016 fast approaching, this could be very important news for BSGE. More…

From Poland to America: Bartolomie Halibart Reply

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. More…

BSGE’s Movie Night: When Dory was Found Reply

On the afternoon of Movie Night, students sat in groups, huddled with popcorn, candy, and soda, as they begin to watch the movie. The sounds of the opening of Finding Dory fill the room and the lights dim. The one hour and forty five minute movie came out on June 17th, 2016, but was available for play during Movie Night, which took place on Friday, December 9th. Tickets for admission were $5 before the event, while at the door they were $8. All the raised money went to the Toy Drive, the fundraiser in which advisories raised money to buy sick kids gifts for the holidays.

“When I first heard of Movie Night, I was interested, as no one had done it before,” said Danielle Gutkovich ’17. The movie played was determined by a school wide online survey, which asked for a vote on one of the movies from a list which included Kubo and the Two Strings, Middle School: Worst Years of my Life, Secret Life of Pets, Finding Dory, Hotel Transylvania, and more. By plurality vote, “Finding Dory” was the selected movie. Fabbiha Islam ’20, one of those who planned the event, said that “The idea of movie night had been the idea of another classmate, and the idea seemed like a good one, so everybody had voted to organize a movie night.” More…

7th Grade Open House Reply

Around one hundred parents and sixth graders packed into BSGE’s cafeteria and hallways for the 7th grade Open House. They were all milling around in anticipation for the evening event to begin. The event, which started at 6:00 pm on December 6, 2016 and ended at 7:30 pm, was an opportunity for parents and students to learn more about BSGE and determine whether this was the right school for them. Although the event started at 6, many parents started flooding in through the front doors as early as 5:30 pm. So many people came that the parents had to be divided into two groups. One group took self-guided tours through the second to fourth floors while the second was downstairs in the cafegymatorium for a presentation run by guidance counselor Tim David-Lang, a few student speakers, math teacher Mr. Mehan, and history teacher Mr. Rabinowitz. The presentation talked about the curriculum at BSGE, the atmosphere, and the differences between BSGE and other schools.

Not only were there a lot of visitors that night, there were also many volunteers. Approximately 30 students in all volunteered in order to make this night memorable for the parents and children visiting. These volunteers were placed strategically at different intervals along the school corridors. Sets of five were stationed near the main lobby, the cafegymatorium, and the hallways on each floor. One or two teachers were also stationed on each floor to answer any questions about the school that students wouldn’t be able to. More…

Curriculum Night: Important but Overlooked Reply

While this annual occurrence has been overlooked by many, Curriculum Night recently proved to be crucial for parents who wanted to come a step closer to their children’s education. Held on Wednesday, September 28th, the night included a bake sale for student funds with many parents attending. Those who were able to be there realized how essential such an event is to their child’s education. One seventh grade parent said, “Before this I had absolutely no idea what my children were doing to be honest, now I know what to expect of them.”
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All You Ever Wanted to Know About the Schedule Change Reply

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. More…

The Bell That Rings for the New School Year Reply

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. More…

Lady Sting’s Playoff Run Ends in City Quarterfinals Reply

DSC05467This year, BSGE’s varsity softball team had their longest and most exciting playoff run yet. During the regular season the team was undefeated, finishing 15-0 in their PSAL Queens B Division, led by captains Nina Don ‘16 and Rakia Islam ‘16. Lady Sting was seeded #1 in Queens, and was given a first round bye. In the second round, the team defeated Robert H. Goddard High School 10-9 in a 6-run seventh inning rally. BSGE was then granted the overall #3 seed in the city out of the remaining 16 teams. After beating Sunset Park High School 8-1 in the third round, Lady Sting advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in BSGE history. Despite losing 3-0 to the High School for Math, Science and Engineering, Lady Sting still finished the season as one of the top 8 teams out of the total 133 in B Division softball, an accomplishment that the players, the coaches, and the many spectators and fans are truly proud of. More…

A New Cafeteria Mural for CAS Reply

IMG_5372The vast majority of BSGE students eat lunch in the cafeteria, and many spend time there after school for various extracurricular activities. Thus, for a group of five determined seniors, repainting the cafeteria mural seemed like the obvious choice for a CAS group project that would impact the entire school community. Isabelle Lee ‘16, Alvaro Bermejo ‘16, Joly Zakaria ‘16, Akib Rahman ‘16, and Sara Asprilla ‘16 wanted to replace the long-standing mural with a brighter, fresher design. With the supervision and input of the art teachers, Peter Wilson, and Vanessa Rabines, the group put in 20 hours of after-school work over the course of 2 months, sanding and repainting the original mural and creating the new design on the wall. More…

BSGE Travels to China! Reply

IMG_3890During spring break, a group of BSGE students and teachers embarked on a trip to China, which was our school’s first trip to a country in Asia. This year, the school decided to give an opportunity to students interested in Chinese culture and language to experience the country firsthand. The group consisted of 23 students and 4 teachers—Ms. Mihalache, Ms. Silva, Mr. Giraldo, and Ms. Xia. During their 10-day stay in China, they visited a total of three cities: Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. More…

BSGE Fitness Room Gets a Makeover Reply

The second floor fitness room is used by most BSGE students who have gym for their physical education class. Some students even like to go to the fitness room after school and work out then as well. The room has recently been renovated, with the addition of a mirror and the rearrangement of equipment. However, there are still more changes to come.

Margaret Pasach, the parent coordinator, explained the process of renovating the room. “The PTA worked on getting money from the councilman, because the machines were in disrepair. And he came through. They’d been working on it for 2 years. They were able to bring in enough money to redo the fitness room.” The floors were repainted a bright blue, and mirrors now line the wall behind the weight racks. Some machines, however, were removed, like the equipment for lateral pulldown, and a dysfunctional machine that is supposed to work out the legs but now only serves as a rest station. Over the summer, new machines will be added, like new bicycles, since many of the current bicycles are not entirely functional. More…

BSGE Team Comes Third in Pi5 Math Competition Reply

On Saturday, May 7th, 20 students from the BSGE Middle School Math Club went to compete in the New York Pi5 Math Competition, led by Mr. Mehan. The competition is a publicly held event open to students from grades 6 through 8 in any of the 5 boroughs. This year, the competition was held at The Armory (at 168th Street) in Manhattan.

Students formed four teams of five, working together to solve math problems of varying levels of difficulty to earn points. The more difficult the questions were, the more points those questions were worth. The point values ranged from 100 to 500 points. There was a total of 45 minutes per team to answer as many questions as possible. “The quicker and more accurately you answer, the better the chance you have of advancing in the competition,” said Christie Choi ‘20, who represented BSGE at the event. More…

Helping Hands’ Eco-Partnership Reply

Helping Hands, a fundraising organization in BSGE, has long been known for collaborating with organizations that wish to help the environment. Surprisingly, Helping Hands’ most recent eco-friendly project is with the successful makeup company L’Oréal.

L’Oréal is in the process of moving into a green building in Manhattans’ Hudson Yards, and has contacted Helping Hands to make 1500 keychains for their employees by reusing unwanted art supplies. All of the supplies are being provided through Materials for the Arts, which some BSGE students may be familiar with. More…

BSGE’s Night Out in Flushing Reply

For the second consecutive year, BSGE students, parents, and faculty purchased tickets to see the Mets at Citi Field on Friday, May 20th. For every $25 spent on a ticket, the school made $5. 85 members of the BSGE family sat together in a block of seats at the baseball game, and although it was a smaller turnout than last year, the school successfully raised $425. Although it was a chilly day, May 20th was an exciting game. The Milwaukee Brewers scored first, but the Mets ultimately won 3-2. Everyone in attendance also took home a free shirt from Citi Field. More…

Lead in BSGE’s Pipes? Reply

After some routine water quality testing, BSGE has recently found a hint of lead in the water pipes of the school. The lead was only found in second floor pipes, and has been specifically located in the water fountain in the yoga room.

“We had some guys come and run some tests and figure out what to do from there,” said the school’s janitor, Darnell Murray Jr. Some may wonder if these tests were run as a result of the water crises in other areas like Flint, Michigan, where high levels of lead were found in the universal drinking water of the city. The lead found in Michigan was a serious health hazard. But BSGE’s test was part of a routine examination. “In our case, it only came back positive in one location [room 214].” More…