Video Games and Violence Reply

Source: sportskeeda.com

Source: sportskeeda.com

It’s a cold Saturday morning and you are in your cozy room. Outside, snow is falling peacefully onto empty streets. Dim light floats through the window and onto your desk, where a warm cup of tea is waiting for you to drink. You feel like you’re in your own little bubble, playing a video game where the troubles of the world seem to disappear into the pixels.

Video games have long been something that people of all ages have turned to for a fun way to relieve stress and explore countless numbers of virtual universes. As someone that has played video games for well over 3000 hours of their life, I am no stranger to the joy that comes from hearing the crinkling sound of plastic as you tear it off a new game, or even the satisfaction you feel when something has been downloaded in Steam, just waiting to be opened. More…

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Reflecting on a Social Media-Free Month Reply

From November 8th to December 8th, I decided to try a little social media experiment. I decided to cut myself off from all social media that I had to see what effect it would have on my grades and my daily life. The three main social media apps I used the most were Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. For the span of one month, I deleted all apps relating to social media from my phone and I was not allowed to use my computer to check anything either. Here is a summary of my experience and how this experiment affected my views on social media:

The app I missed the most was Snapchat. Prior to starting this experiment, I had been using Snapchat an awful lot and it was definitely a big distraction for me while doing homework. I would snap people constantly as a form of procrastination and it eventually led to me finishing my homework in the very early hours of the morning. Snapchat also kept me occupied at times when I should’ve been socializing or actually spending time with my friends and family. I would be constantly checking my phone rather than actually enjoying what was really around me. I definitely wanted to see how much my studying habits would change without Snapchat. More…

Editorial: Students Preparing for College; too Busy to Prepare for Life Reply

Throughout this school year college applications have loomed ominously over our heads. We Juniors are told we need to start thinking about how appealing we will be to colleges which means not only worrying about our grades and our SAT scores but also partaking in extracurricular activities (for CAS hours). One scenario we are presented with over and over again is if two people apply to a prestigious college, have perfect SAT scores, perfect grades but one of them didn’t do much outside school and the other joined lots of different clubs and engaged in various activities outside school the latter will be accepted. Not only are teenagers expected to perform off the charts in school but to be socially, creatively and physically fit. Colleges are looking for leaders, virtuosos, accomplished athletes; charismatic, “interesting”, ideal individuals. In other words they are looking for evidence of a so-called defined identity, a “strong personality”. To me that expression makes no sense. It’s ridiculous because not only do colleges have a narrow criteria for people they are More…

Dr. Helfenbein On Movies: Science Fiction of the 1950s Reply

Dr. Helfenbein is an avid film watcher (or, as some would say, cinephile) and will be writing a semi-regular column for the BACC Rag in which he recommends older movies students might be interested in watching. 

The first two decades of the sound era (the 30s and 40s) saw few science fiction movies (notable exceptions being the serials Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers). Whether it was due to the atomic era and Cold War or just to the fact the time was right, the 1950s saw an explosion of science fiction on the big screen: space monsters, alien invaders, colliding planets, giant invertebrates, and mad scientists all made it to the big time in the decade that gave us Fortran and rock ‘n’ roll. In this column I’ll deal with selections from the unfriendly-visitors-from-outer-space subgenre.

            The Thing From Another World (1951), directed by Christian Nyby, tells the tale of a group of scientists, military personnel and news reporters at a station in Antarctica. They find, buried beneath snow and ice, a space ship . . . and its lone occupant. The Thing is a classic of claustrophobic horror with most of the action between humans and bloodthirsty alien taking place in the confined quarters of the station, the exterior an inhospitable frozen zone. This movie served up the UFO-mania r More…

Opinion: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

If you were to look up the phrase “Je Suis Charlie,” I am Charlie in French, you would find all types of products supporting the cause such as t-shirts, pins and caps. As with most political trends, many people don’t even really understand the true meaning behind the phrase – they just like the idea of supporting a cause, which is understandable. After all, who doesn’t like solidarity?

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When it’s blind solidarity, I don’t. I do not support the market that has sprung up from this tragedy, from this idea that the freedom of speech in France is being limited, and as a result, we have to fight for that right. There is a limit to just how far your freedom of speech extends. There is a fine line between hate speech and satire, and it could easily be argued that Charlie Hebdo crossed the line with their comics that poked fun at the Prophet Mohammed. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right in France. But by not allowing French media to publish anything anti-semitic, France has created a bit of a double standard- one that makes them seem a bit hypocritical.

In 2009, 80-year-old Maurice Sinet, a political cartoonist who was with Charlie Hebdo for 20 years, was fired for publishing anti-semitic cartoons. No one said a word. No one tried to sell “Je Suis Sinet” products. Sinet ridiculed Israel, and he was shut down. Based on this, it can be seen that freedom of speech in France was already limited. People already had to censor themselves from publishing things about certain political views. How does it make sense, then, to fight for the freedom of speech to make fun of Islam? Either fight for the right for complete freedom of speech, or don’t bother trying to be a part of the cause at all. More…

Funny Teachers and Kind Seniors – Thoughts from the 7th Grade Reply

What is it like to be a 7th grader in BSGE? How has your transition been to BSGE?

Daniel: It feels very great to be a 7th grader at BSGE. I feel very good about the switch for many reasons. I feel that for one, the environment is a lot better than it was in my old school. Everyone here is  a lot nicer than the people in my old school. Another reason I feel comfortable about this switch  is because the work here will give me a challenge, which is a really nice change from my old school.

What is the best thing about BSGE? The worst?  More…

Opinion Piece: Statewide Exams Reply

Ugh! was the exclamation that crossed my lips when I realized the statewide exams were this April. It’s a tedious thing. No one sane would be willing to sit through three days of ELA and math examinations and read the most boring passages ever written or spend ninety minutes crunching numbers.

statewide exams

This terrible thing is not only a “New York thing”. All other forty-nine states have their own form of statewide tests for public schools. Many of these state tests are taken only from third to eighth grade. Some states like Alaska and Kansas have children take state tests third through twelfth grade. There are complaints all over the internet about state tests being ridiculous. Californians have accused their common core state test as overly complex math for such young students. New York City residents are blaming their rise in taxes on these states, or as they call it, “Cuomo Core Test experiment”. More…

Catching Fire: Book VS. Movie Reply

The Catching Fire book came out on September 1, 2009. The book starts out with Katniss and Peeta’s new lives in the Victor’s Village a year after they won their Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta no longer have to worry about death lurking at their sides. Or at least that is what they believe. The second book of the series describes the 75th year of the annual Hunger Games, meaning it was time for the 3rd  Quarter Quell. Since the Quarter Quell only came every 25 years, President Snow and More…

Is it Time to Change the Rules on Cell Phone Usage? Reply

It has been in the rulebook so long that it has become one of the most typical bans in classrooms. No chewing gum, no cheating on tests, no cell phones. Teachers hate the sudden sound of a phone ringing in class, or the downward gaze of a student texting under the table. But it might be time to reconsider this ban as technology has changed a lot in the past several years.

Ten years ago, the cell phone was only used for a few things – texting, calling, and maybe playing a very pixelated game of Snake. It was clunky, it usually flipped open, and for the most part, we only used it to communicate with other people. When schools banned the use of cell phones, it made sense – there was truly no need to have students texting their friends in classrooms. But the cell phone has evolved remarkably fast, and the school rules have failed to evolve with it. Now, our smartphones can access social media, take photos, record video, go on the Internet, and download thousands of apps, games and songs. We can essentially find the answer to a question in less than a minute. Our phone is our camera, calculator, planner, mailbox, iPod, television, everything. Students already use their phones to quickly check their email for assignments sent from a teacher, or to monitor their grades on Engrade or Jupiter Grades.

So does it really make sense to ban cell phones so strictly? If most More…

Teachers Should Not be Allowed to Carry Guns Reply

Educators should not be allowed to carry guns because although their job may be to secure their children, carrying a gun is not the most efficient and effective way to accomplish this. When asked about her opinion towards this topic, Lauren Ouaknine’ 14 said, “Teachers shouldn’t carry guns because their job is not to shoot potential intruders. They don’t have any experience to do so and would be more harmful than useful.”  Without any training, the aftermath of any incident could actually be detrimental to the students. As well as this, another danger in mandating teachers to carry weapons is monitoring and regulating their usage. How would the government ensure that teachers would not use the guns for other purposes? If they happened to be extremely aggravated and acted rashly, what would truly prevent them from using their guns and shooting someone? After all, teachers are humans and no feasible approach would be able to stop them from abusing this privilege.

What if all BSGE teachers were required to possess guns and had the right to shoot any potential intruder?  With the increasing number of More…

Do the SATs Really Matter? Reply

The SATs, who doesn’t know about them? We all know that millions of high school students take these tests each year in order to impress top universities. Many students take SAT prep, spending up to thousands of dollars for SAT instruction, not including the costs of SAT prep books. The average SAT scores (25th/75thpercentiles) for Harvard and MIT are 2090/2390 and 2080/2330, respectively. Those are some pretty high scores, considering the 2011 national average SAT score is only 1500. Most students freak out when they look at these statistics and probably think that they have no choice but to study hours a week to hit 2200+. The truth is that the SATs More…

Reevaluating BSGE’s Summer Homework Reply

Summer homework: The most dreaded assignment for students everywhere. Although it’s supposed to prevent your brain from melting, who wants to work during time off from school? But with no Mathematics, Science or Language subjects assigned, book choices not everyone enjoys, and students rushing to finish it the last two weeks (and sometimes two hours) of vacation- does summer homework really help? The Board of Education does not require More…

Thank You Notes Reply

The Bacc Rag experienced its first taste of controversy in April. Our right to free speech (and our right to make a joke) was ignored when the issues were collected. But I am grateful it happened because it gave me a moment to reflect on the amazing opportunity that I have had working on this newspaper at BSGE. Over the past six years, many, many people have been extremely supportive.
When Kristen Spang, Nathan Nikolic and I first approached then-principal Bill Stroud about creating a newspaper for the seventh grade he didn’t hesitate. Mr. Aly Lakhaney signed on as adviser. The “Popcorn Weekly” was born and distributed (kinda) weekly for two years. In the 100th issue, we announced that we would become “The Bacc Rag,” a tabloid-sized, school-wide newspaper.
Not once did someone question (at least not to our faces) whether More…

EDITORIAL: THIS YEAR SHOULD END WITH REPORT CARDS FOR TEACHERS Reply

Every year students are issued two report cards and two periodic assessments. These evaluations tell us, our parents and the colleges we apply to, how well we do our jobs as students. When the evaluations are positive, the rewards are great but when they are negative, the consequences can be dire. The same should be said about teacher evaluations.
Teachers do get official annual reviews, as required by the Board of Education. Ms. Johnson rates their performance as either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” based on her observations throughout the year. Recently, the New York State Assembly changed the system and starting in 2012, 40% of the evaluation will be based on student performance on standardized tests. However, neither the current system nor the future system leaves room More…

Editorial: Obama’s First Year in Office Reply

I began writing this article with the full intention of providing an unbiased, objective review of Obama’s first year in the White House.  As I began doing research and once my brain started functioning normally from whatever state it had been operating in before, I realized that this would be impossible.  This is because different people say that he has done different things.  For instance a majority of the far right Republican Conservatives believe that he has destroyed the economy, taken away all of our freedoms and that he is a fascist planning to euthanize all of our grandparents.  However the left wing liberal democrats will tell you that Obama has done nothing at all.  They (I) am upset that he has not come across harder on many issues other than healthcare, and just how effective the healthcare reform will be is More…

“I left BSGE and wanted back in” Reply

It’s that one inescapable choice every high school student must face: to transfer or to not transfer? Are there greater opportunities awaiting me elsewhere? Is transferring going to benefit me, or will I end up sobbing in regret? Decisions, decisions, decisions. For those of you who think it an easy process or an advantageous experience, you might want to think twice. Unfortunately, I was forced into this situation during the very beginning of the year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love BSGE…sometimes. No, I mean it, Baccalaureate really made my mind reach  higher levels of thinking, and I found the majority of teachers to be very caring and concerned More…

Editorial: Beyond Partisan Conflict Reply

Work hard.  Stay in school.  Go to college.  All sound advice coming from a parent, a friend, or a teacher.  But from the President of the United States?  Barack Obama’s address delivered these messages to the students of America, and was broadcast, live, in classrooms nationwide.  Despite the speech holding “no political influence”, according to the accompanying White House press release, President Obama’s address was met with strongly-worded criticism across the country.
Objections to the President’s speech ranged from the radical to the cautious.  Of the documented protests, Jim Greer’s, Florida’s GOP chairman, was the most extreme, and therefore the most prominent among the general media.  In his immediate response to the speech, he claimed to be “absolutely appalled that taxpayer More…

Editorial: School Spirit Reply

It is obvious that BSGE’s students are not the best with school spirit. During previous school years, there has been a serious lack of enthusiasm and pride for our school. Evidently, school events that used to be well-received have drastically lost their popularity. For instance, a couple of years ago, BSGE’s Annual Boat Dance was the biggest party of the year. But it has been canceled for the past two years because not enough people have bought tickets. This year, however, seems different from the previous years. Over the past few months, there has been a sudden renewal of school spirit. With a stream of extremely popular school events such as the Masquerade Ball, Free Movie Night, and bunches of bake sales, More…

The Health Care Debate Reply

Health Care is the major issue of our time.  During the antebellum period the great problem was slavery.  During the sixties it was human rights and foreign policy.  Each generation has its calling, and though we should never stop pushing forward on all fronts we must recognize that health care is our calling.  For a hundred years presidents have been calling for Health Care reform, and in the sixties we created Medicare to secure health care for our seniors.  Later on we created Medicaid for the poorest segment of our country, but today millions of people still struggle to find affordable health insurance.  If you are not a millionaire or living in abject poverty, health care is probably a struggle for you.  Of course the degree to which this struggle affects your life depends on what coverage you have, on whether you are self-employed or not, and on many other circumstances, one of which is pre-existing conditions.
As of now, health insurance companies such as Aetna, or Anthem, or More…

Editorial: Scare Tactics Reply

June of last year, I was in the cafeteria with the rest of BSGE’s class of  ’11 and our parents and our teachers. We were at our middle years program (MYP) certificate ceremony, the “graduation” at the end of tenth grade. A few speeches were made, awards were handed out and then Ms. Johnson began giving us our MYP diplomas. Tension quickly flooded the room; it wasn’t clear who would be getting a diploma and who wouldn’t. There were gasps and tears when students noticed that their names had not been called. We all then suddenly realized that receiving the diploma—an accomplishment that we had earlier trivialized—actually meant a lot to us.
After the ceremony I was upset that my classmates More…