Tag Archives: School

School Pride(!)

So there’s a new reality, but good reality that tugs at your heart strings, TV on NBC called School Pride. It’s basically Extreme Makeover School Edition with lesser-known celebrities. Failing schools submit a video and the renovation is done in a week and is pro-bono. As I was watching the first episode on Hulu one day when I was avoiding work, I thought that it looked great on the surface but didn’t have any substance. That went for the theory too, that they were making things look pretty but not solving the real problems like sub-par teachers or uninvolved parents or just plain old not enough money.

And yet… there are studies out proving that when kids are invested in their learning environment, they perform better. So this show is trying to get kids across the nation invested in how their school looks. In the first episode, there was a post script saying test scores already improved in the six months since the renovation (done during spring break) but the other schools were renovated during the summer so there wasn’t enough time to see if test scores did improve or not.

I wrote my Chronicle Column on the show. Mainly because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about, and I was pressed for time too. Maybe I should stop avoiding my work!

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Lost in Translation

No, this isn’t about the movie.  I’ve been in Munich for a month now. In class I’m only using German. I have some friends from my program that only speak German outside of class too. Then I have friends that only speak English outside of class.

There’s a sign in JYM that says we must only speak German. The alternatives are Bayrisch (local dialect) Afghanisch and Shakespearean. But we use English anyway among ourselves. We have to speak German to the staff. Some of use have no problem with it, while others avoid speaking to the staff because their German is bad.

I’ve realized that I’m frustrated with my German. I’m so expressive with my English because it’s my Muttersprache (mother tongue) and I want to say the things I say in English in German too. But I’m not there yet. It sounds impressive when I say I’ve studied German for over 6 years. Problem is I was forced to take a year and half off, (No German was offered) and for the last year I’ve only met with my German professors one hour a week! So when we had a placement test, I tested into the middle of the pack with my listening comprehension being the worst out of Grammar, writing and reading comprehension.

But I love it here. And most of the Germans I’ve encountered smile/are amused when they hear me speak German. They’re nice about how bad/American it sounds. Most of them will speak English to me (especially in the Tourist areas) but I try to only speak German back.

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Life Philosophy

I found some interesting mini essays I wrote for my Humanities class in senior year. They were several questions and answers, mostly regarding philosophy.  I have taken a look at what I wrote at the end of my senior year, and have revised my answers, for the most part.

Who Am I?

Where am I going?

Where do I come from?

What is Power?

What is Knowledge?

What is Time?

And I found an Emerson Quote with my assignment that I had forgotten. I think it’s a great quote, even better than his ‘To be great is to be misunderstood’ quote that I have under my email signature.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

–Emerson

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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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