Tag Archives: School

New Year and still directionless…

My Fall 2009 Grades came in.

At the beginning of the semester, I really wanted to get a better GPA than I had my first two years (I hadn’t achieved anything higher than a 3.66) I told Dean Donahue that I was shooting for a 3.75 and he replied that was very ambitious of me. I knew it would be a challenge because I was taking 6 classes instead of 5, but I buckled down for the most part and aimed for the stars.

The end result: My best semester yet. The GPA is a 3.78  which brings me up to a 3.63 cumaltive.

Subject Course Course Title Final Grade
CRWR 190D LEVEL II – PSY OF CHARACTER A-
ENGL 116 SHAKSPR-LATER PLAYS B+
ENGL 192L GAY AND LESBIAN LITERATURE A
GERM 103 ADV GERMAN LANGUAGE A
PHYS 005 (NS) LIGHT A-
RELI 018 (HP)SACRAMENTS, SEX & THE CITY A

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The Benefits of Catholic Schools

During Finals week,  I had an hour-long conversation with my friends at dinner. (When I should have been studying!) We were talking about religion mainly, as most of my friends were observing the conversation that was happening on my blog. My friends were all from a variety of religious backgrounds, and I was the only practicing Catholic at our table. I remember suggesting that sending your child to a religious school for their elementary years was immensely beneficial to the child, especially if you were raising your family in that faith. I used myself as an example because my Parents sent both myself and my brother to a parochial school a town over because the public school options were rather slim when I was 5. I suggested to my friends that what I learned in the house about morality was reinforced at school and what I learned about my faith at school was reinforced at home (and by going to Mass every week)

I didn’t realize that there are other reasons why a family might prefer a parochial education for their young children until I stumbled across an OP-ED column on the Boston Globe’s website last night/this morning.  The author, who is a freelance writer living in Cambridge MA, needs to pick schools for his children for next school year. The Cambridge School district allows parents to choose 3 elementary schools out of the dozen in the city. If the child doesn’t get into those three, then what are the parents to do? A plan B for private schools usually comes with a $20,000 a year price tag, but the parochial schools offer education for less, sometimes a fourth of the cost of regular private schools.

There have been studies that determined that students in elementary parochial schools have a leg up on public school kids. Also students from economically disadvantaged areas/families tend to excel when they are in parochial schools. The benefits seem to go beyond just the (possible) religion reinforcement.

I don’t feel that my personal experience really falls into either of the above examples. While I know going to St. Anthony’s for seven years (Kindergarten through Sixth Grade) was beneficial to my upbringing, I have trouble seeing how it was beneficial to my education. I seemed to grasp concepts quicker than my class and sat at top of my class all six years they kept track. (At the end of every year, I had the highest average) Looking back, I wasn’t very challenged at all. It was only when I tested into Boston Latin School for seventh grade that school became a (mostly fun) challenge for me.

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‘Meep’ follow up

A column from the Ideas section of the Boston Globe follows up on the story about the Danvers High school banning the word meep.   ( Which I wrote a blog post about a month ago)

Meep has been used many ways as slang. The column says that Urbandictionary has 71 entries for it!

A word is only as powerful as people says it is. So why am I still hung up about the principal banning the word? Maybe because by banning it, he gave it more power than it had before. I don’t really know…  but I found the ending of the column to be really interesting:

All words mean only what we all collectively agree they should mean, no more and no less. In Danvers, meep came to mean: “We’ll obey your rules when we feel like it.” And that, in the end, made it a dirty word.

~Erin McKean

When I take that in to consideration, banning the word makes more sense. It was never about the word (the school was quoted to not banning the word for the sake of the word itself) but what it stood for. In effect, they banned the word for its definition.

It’s just a little surreal to see meep on a list of words that should not be spoken at school with the likes of real four letter words and other swear words.

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Religion Class Part II

For Thursday’s religion class we needed to read Andrew Sullivan’s column from 2003 about leaving his Church.

There were a lot of emotions in the class, but unfortunately we only really discussed the article for about a half hour. We had 3 presentations and had to do class evaluations as well.   I was not the only one who was shocked, angry or depressed after reading the column. Mr. Sullivan was unable to reconcile being gay and going to Church after his parish asked a gay couple to leave the choir when they went to Canada to get a marriage license and had a newspaper article written about it. This couple had been members of the choir for over 25 years. It brought up the way Vatican has handled gays over the past few years. Pope John Paul II met with the man who tried to kill him, but he wouldn’t meet with openly gay Catholics.

I really sympathized with Andrew because I could feel his anger and pain. I could imagine that going  from attending mass weekly at the same parish for your whole life (Andrew says 40 years…) to being unable to enter a church because of all the anger would be very painful. I wouldn’t be able to handle not going to church because of the strong connections I’ve made.

But the biggest question that reading the column brought up for me was whether you are denying part of yourself when you sit in the pews and are gay. I think your sexuality is between you and God. Period. God knows what you do and who you like, but God loves everyone equally (and probably couldn’t care less about your love life…)  But I’m reminded of what happens with a Bishop finds out when a politician voted Pro-Choice. He’s denied Communion, asked not to participate in mass. I can only imagine what would happen if those same bishops who would deny Communion to people who voted for Pro-Choice politicians found out there were gay Catholics in their diocese.

Gay Catholics are out there. There’s an organization called Dignity USA that celebrates all LGBT Catholics. I looked at the Boston chapter and learned they worship in an Episcopalian church. They don’t receive any support or resources from the Boston Archdiocese.

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Taking a Religion Class on Your Own Faith

This semester I’m taking a class on Catholicism, which is quite interesting. It is not a theology class, but almost everyone in the class has been exposed to Christianity or Catholicism in particular. I am not the only practicing Catholic in the class. This past week we have tackled very big problems in the Church. For Tuesday we had to read the Apolistic Letter by Pope John Paul II regarding the ordination of women.

The class reaction was generally one of disbelief. Most in the class couldn’t comprehend why the Vatican would deny women the chance to become Priests. I for the most part agreed with them, but I wasn’t nearly as vocal in the class as I could have been, because I already discussed it with my professor.

If given the chance, I would want to go to the Seminary. (There’s a reason why I still serve Mass whenever I’m home – I love being on the altar) I saw the shortage of Priests in the US, and in my archdiocese and thought the ordination of women would solve the problem. But now I realize it wouldn’t make a difference. The way my professor explained it to me, the Vatican made even discussing ordination of women off-limits because they’re only seeing a priest shortage in the US. In their mission countries across the world: in Latin America, Africa,  and India, Vocations are thriving. There are already some international priests serving in the US. I have heard my grandmother complain that she can’t understand Father Martin because of his thick accent. I present to you the future of American Catholicism. In a reversal of fortune/fate, the US will become the mission country, with Priests being sent from other countries to the US to keep parishes open because there are no domestic priests to run them.

For the next class, we have to read a column by Andrew Sullivan, about being Gay and Catholic. I’ll post on Friday about that class.

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Meep – a four letter word?

According to an blurb on boston.com website, the principal of Danvers High School has banned the word Meep. The principal went further and warned that suspension is a possibility if students say or display the word again.

All because “students said it to repeatedly interrupt school.”  The students had planned it on facebook.

This is a little extreme. I think it was harmless. Most of the comments on the article say that it was harmless as well to varying degrees.

At the root of the problem is the principal’s fear of losing control – which is pretty pathetic that he feels threatened by  a word used most often by a character from “The Muppet Show.”

It’s just a show of exercising power that ends up being useless. The students are most likely going to ignore his threat. It would be better for the Principal to ignore the Meep and just deal with the disruptions on their own.

Also it is an example of the widening gap between generations. I don’t know exactly how old this principal is, but I can bet by his reaction to Meep that he doesn’t understand it as a trivial word the way high school and college kids do. Meep is just a random word to say, nothing more and nothing less.

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The First Day of School

Classes started a week ago yesterday, but my old high school just started today. That is insanely late if you ask me. If they have any snow days, then they’re going to sit in that building until the end of June. At the risk of getting burned at the stake, I think this is one of the ways that it hurts the students. We started the second of September and still had Labor day off. Why should Boston Public Schools have to wait until after Labor Day to start classes? Boston in particular and New England in general still have the school schedule from agrarian times, where kids had to wait until after the harvest to start school and still be available to help with the spring plantings. We already know that the US is falling behind the other nations of the world in school testing and that it has one of the shortest school years (180 days or 36 weeks) I think the school leaders should change it. Add at least another two weeks to the school calendar. (Or maybe another 4 to bring it up to a nice even 40 weeks of school)

Also there needs to be some reform about the teacher unions. (Treading on thin ice here) In my school experience, I did not learn a lot in classes where the teacher was just ‘riding on their tenure’ – meaning the teacher did not do much in the class but was protected by the fact they had already taught a certain number of years. I was fortunate that the one teacher I had who was nearing retirement age wasn’t for a vital class. But my brother, who was two grades behind me got the same teacher for a vital class.  From what I heard, she didn’t start their Senior Paper, a graduation requirement, until all the other Senior English classes had started theirs and were a couple weeks ahead.  I don’t think we need to fire these teachers or punish them. I think instead, the schools should work with the unions to work out a system that rewards teachers for, well teaching, once they reach tenure. Get these elder teachers to teach again and share their experiences with the students!

Although as I am writing this, I realized that students have very little control over their education. I think Boston is very fortunate to have a  seat on the School Committee reserved for students to give input. However I don’t think may BPS students were aware that they had a representative on the committee.  But did you ever stop and realize that the majority of the people controlling the lives of young people are over 40? They never seem to remember what it was like for them when they were our age either.

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