Streams

STEM Makes Headlines in School Newspapers

Friday, April 05, 2013 - 04:00 AM

WNYC
(Elbert Chu)

Between disc-tossing robots in Queens and a study on the structure function of Leptomycin B in Brooklyn, student reporters are on the STEM beat, covering the science, technology, engineering and math programs that have taken over their schools.

“We proved to be the best nerds in the city,” Demeara Torres told The Classic after her school, Townsend Harris High School, won first place at the Science Olympiad earlier this month.

But students are doing more than studying the role of pyrite in the iron-sulfur theory (Midwood High School). Recent editions of school newspapers show an active and engaged student body.

Photo Ops and Oaths
High schools are popular spots on the campaign and speaker circuit in the city.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke visited Edward R. Murrow High School. After congratulating the chess team on their citywide win, Markowitz said: “It really shows that Brooklyn is the chess capital in America. There’s no question about it,” The Murrow Network reported.

In the Bronx, the High School for Contemporary Arts welcomed Malaak Shabazz, Malcolm X’s daughter, for African-American History Month. Shabazz “shared parts of her life experiences with the students and explained her current endeavor promoting human rights with the United Nations,” HSCA Expressions reported.

But Townsend Harris had the biggest thrill of all when it hosted the inauguration of alumna Nily Rozic to her seat in the New York State Assembly, The Classic reported. “When I look at Nily’s career, it bears a striking resemblance to my career,” Senator Chuck Schumer told the crowd, which featured a Queens County Supreme Court judge and city councilman Mark Weprin. In her acceptance speech, Rozic acknowledged the Ephebic Oath that Harrisites commit to yearly. “This oath set me on the path to public service, to leave my city greater than I found it,” she said.

Rights, Wrongs and Weights
According to The East Sider, the temporary relocation of East Side Community High School to Norman Thomas High School wasn’t ideal. Students’ learning was challenged by security scanning and fewer library books.

“There are barely any books occupying the many shelves. People walk through the library as they transfer between classes. It is not a welcoming space,” Zipporah Genyard and Patricia Polanco wrote. “It seems like the kids at Norman Thomas are coming to jail every day. This doesn’t seem like a healthy learning environment.”

School newspapers reported on citywide policies as well, such as teachers not being able to grade their own students for the Regents and next year’s PSAL policy requiring students receive a passing grade in five classes plus gym to participate in after school athletics.

The BaccRag at Baccalaureate School for Global Education took its reporting into the community with Vivian Yan’s article “Panera Bread’s Discriminatory Policy.” According to the story, the Panera Bakery on 35th Avenue in Astoria will not let anyone under 18 in without an adult Monday through Friday after 3 p.m.

“They wouldn’t even let us go in to just order and leave.” Beatrice McAviney told Yan. Panera officials explained the rule was due to teens smoking pot in the cafe’s bathroom.

But to some, that wasn’t a good enough reason.“They’re doing this to us because we’re kids and seen as powerless,” Brianna Carty said. “If an adult was caught smoking weed in the bathroom, they wouldn’t be able to ban all adults.”

Teens at Bard High School Early College have found a safe spot on the Bard Complements page on Ask.fm, a forum for anonymous comments similar to FormSpring, according to The Bardvark. “I was just hoping that coming home at the end of the day knowing that people throughout the school are thinking positively about you would help to bring us together as a community,” the page’s creator, Cena Loffredo, told the newspaper.

The automated calling system at Queens Vocational and Technical High School is getting the attention of students who have been erroneously accused of being absent from class. Students feel victimized by the calls to parents, according to the Vocational Voice. “The only reason I keep getting these phone calls home is because some teachers are being careless with attendance,” said Hommy Pena.

Across the river in Brooklyn, International Minds took a different approach on reporting on the school culture at International High School at Lafayette. Instead of featuring school events or profiling teachers, the staff, which are all relative newcomers to the U.S., tackled big picture issues, including “Are the internationals [schools] the best place to learn English?” and the administration’s attitude toward a free student press.

These weighty issues can be contemplated in the new exercise room at Cobble Hill School of American Studies. The Stallion provided a detailed floor plan of the $63,500 weight room that will be open by the end of the month.

Voices that Will be Heard
Never shy to share what they think, student scribes took on the dirty, the annoying and unjust in their editorial and opinion pages.

The Kangaroo Voice at Boys and Girls High School wanted students to be allowed to participate in “meetings that may hold our education at risk,” Christine Johnson wrote.”They claim us as the future so let us hold them accountable for what we don’t know.”

Her peer Catherine Moskos takes on the city’s health policies, which doesn’t allow school nurses to administer ibuprofen, causing students to share medications like Advil and Tylenol freely. “Wouldn’t it be safer to have the luxury of taking medication from a trained adult who could carefully administer the process?,” she asks.

Adults are getting a little too personal for some when it comes to distributing free condoms at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School. The Verdict wants to know why teachers ask for students’ ID numbers before handing over the goods. According to writers Yenisel Ravelo and Cariahnna Collazo Cintron, “This process is supposed to be anonymous for the comfort and safety of the students.”

Argus went large with its editorial demanding that all states seek federal approval before making changes to voter qualifications, an issue that came before the Supreme Court earlier this session. To writer Irissa Cisternino the law “represents the heart of the racism debate, and the Supreme Court's ruling should reflect that.”

The Classic and The BaccRag handled the gun control debate with pro-con articles from students that mirrored the national discussion.

By The Numbers
Interesting math by Andrea Gonzalez of HSCA Expressions determined that public school parents may pay more than $30 million a year for cell phone storage. English teacher Joseph Cummo suggested to Gonzalez that schools build their own phone storage room, cycling money back into the system. A wise 12th grader remarked in the article, “It’ll reduce cutting and phone robbery, however, with every solution, comes other problems.”

The Gateway Gazette got survey happy in its recent issue. Polls were taken on Queens Gateway to Health Sciences uniforms (overwhelmingly against), the closeness of student relationship in new building versus former one (split, 50/50) and on the awareness of recent changes to Colorado’s and Washington’s marijuana law (70% were aware).

Other school newspaper polls found that World Journalism kids thought Doritos had the best Super Bowl commercial this year (The Blazer) and 30% of Midwood students walk, bike or skate to school (Argus).

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