All posts by Emily

I like writing out-of-the-ordinary articles and about unique points of view. I always read the New York Times book review and Lives on Saturday morning.

Not A Shakespearean Quote

At GFS discussions happen every moment of the day about every imaginable subject. Listening to students in the middle school, there is a lot of babble and giggle and hubbub; but what some don’t realize is that as one goes through life speaking, they actually play a role in the evolution of language.

Contractions are integral parts of our language and they are necessary for the natural flow of conversations. Can you imagine going a day without saying “it’s” or “there’s” or “I’m”? Looking deeper into this idea, the reason for contractions is simple. Contractions are more efficient and require less articulation, so in the murmur of the Sharpless hallways filled with “I’m going to the cafeteria,” and “there’s a game today,” there isn’t much focus on grammatical correctness (though both these examples are perfectly fine).

Language is an interesting idea. Whatever is correct is usually due to popular use. For example, the word omnibus, from the Latin meaning “for everyone” (thanks Julie!), was once used in ordinary conversations as in “Suzy, I’m taking the omnibus home from school,” but throughout time, this was shortened to “Suzy, I’m taking the “bus” and later, “Suzy, I’m taking the bus.” This idea is also discussed in the book Frindle by Andrew Clements.  In this book a boy makes up another word for pen—frindle—and it gains popularity.

One change in language that has an uncertain future is the verb “to be.” Looking at a chart of this, much like one would in foreign language class; English has one of the simplest conjugation structures of any language. I am, you are, he is, we are, they are, y’all are (Hey! It’s a contraction! [And another! Wow!] Actually in English, there isn’t [contraction!] a difference if “you” is singular or plural—lucky us.). The simplicity of this is both beneficial and harmful to our way of communication.

Most recently, I’ve (contraction!) noticed sentences like “There’s doughnuts (or donuts? Another conversation here) in the cafeteria.” At first glance this sentence appears to be perfectly acceptable, but when the contraction “there’s” is pulled apart the sentence becomes “there is donuts (or doughnuts) in the cafeteria,” which is incorrect, because there are multiple doughnuts (donuts) in the cafeteria; so, the verb to be (I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, they are) is clearly not  followed.  Donuts in this case is “they” because the sentence could go “there are donuts” and “they are in the cafeteria,” where doughnuts is “they” because it (as a group) is a third person plural subject. More frequently this sort of sentence has come into popular use and most people don’t even notice they’re (they are) doing it.

Sometimes the difference between when one should use “is” and when one should use “are,” such as in the context of “there is an elephant and there are two giraffes” can become confusing because the total subject is three. “There are two giraffes and there is an elephant,” but when the two are together “there is an elephant and there are two giraffes” is a longer version of a simple idea, which is that there are three things and two of them are the same. Another way of communicating this idea would be: “There are two giraffes and an elephant” and the “are” in the sentence is communicating the two giraffes as well as the three animals. The incorrect way of attempting to convey this idea is “There is an elephant and two giraffes.”

What does this mean for the English language as a whole? In the future, will we only have two forms of the verb to be? I am, you is, he/she/it is, we is, they is, or will our need for a distinction of number prevent the change?

Image courtesy of penelopeillustration.com

What’s in your locker?

by Emily Beiser

Equality is a Quaker testimony, but at GFS, we have inequality in the assignment of lockers. Why should some people have bigger lockers than others?

It’s Monday. A student comes in to school and opens up their locker. It’s about a foot and a half wide cube. He moves books around from his backpack to his locker and puts his coat in. He jams his sports bag in too. Then he attempts to put his squash racquet in his locker, but sighs as it is too long for the locker, and brings it into his homeroom.

Downstairs, a girl opens her four-foot tall, eight inch wide locker and hangs up her coat. A door above her head opens to a compartment of a one foot wide cube. She stashes her unnecessary books and hangs her squash racket next to her coat. She attempts to put her sports bag in the locker too, but the locker is too thin, and she sighs as she brings it into her homeroom.

Examining these two dilemmas of the lockers: Too thin and too short, I wonder: Which locker is better? In the tall thin lockers, like this girl has, she can easily fit her coat in her locker and access her books at the same time, while in the square locker like the boy has, he has to remove his coat if he wants to access his books again. In the tall lockers, there is also space for sports equipment, like a squash racket or a field hockey stick.

The square lockers do have their advantages. The boy can fit his sports bag in his locker, if he squashes it in, but the girl’s locker is too thin. He can also fit larger items, like a box of cupcakes or a soccer ball. But how often do you bring that in? And why leave cupcakes in your locker?

Examining the real estate of the two lockers, the tall, thin lockers seem to have more space, with 10,101 cubic inches, while the square lockers have 3,712.5 cubic inches. In theory, the tall thin lockers have more space to store things, and are better overall. Plus, they’re way bigger.

It’s time for sports. Two girls go into the locker room. They both open their lockers- one has a full locker, while the other has a half-locker. The girl with the half-locker pulls open the door and a pair of shorts and a basketball shoe fall out. She dumps her stuff on the bench, and changes. When she’s done, she puts her school clothes,(including the nice shirt she had to wear for an orchestra concert that day) sneakers, her coat and her lunch bag in a heap in the locker, and slams it closed before it all falls on her. She leaves her backpack on the floor outside the locker, and runs downstairs, before remembering her water bottle. She runs back up, opens her locker. Her coat falls on the floor, and she moves it to the side. She removes her clothing, (her shirt is wrinkled) sneakers and lunch box from the heap they make in the locker, and finds her water bottle in the bottom. She sets it on the bench and begins to stuff everything back in. Finally, she slams the locker closed and locks it, and leaves the locker room.

Meanwhile, the girl with the full-length locker unlocks and opens the door. She changes and hangs her clothes and coat up on the hooks. Her boots go on the floor of the locker, and her lunch box and cell phone go on the shelf. She can’t fit her backpack either, but she sticks it under the bench. She locks her locker and begins to go downstairs, when she realizes she forgot her water bottle. She goes back to her locker and opens it up. Her water bottle is on the shelf, next to her lunch bag. Her shirt isn’t wrinkled, and she can probably get away with not having to wash and iron it before the next concert. She grabs her water bottle, closes the locker, and goes downstairs.

We all know who the winner is here. The girl with the full length locker is clearly at an advantage. Her clothes stay neat, her stuff doesn’t go everywhere when she opens her locker, and she can get ready much faster than the other girl. It seems like there are plenty of lockers in the locker room. Why do we have small ones? In fifth grade, we were told we had small gym lockers because the older students had bags and more stuff. It seems like we have plenty of lockers, and lots of people don’t use or even know they have lockers assigned to them. Why should they have lockers that somebody who uses their locker wishes they had? And how is it practicing equality to have such different facilities for different people?

Where do you go?

By Emily Beiser
With help from Owen Chung and Elizabeth Wallace.

When you have to go, you have to go. But where? At GFS, not only do we have diversity in students and faculty, but we also have a diverse selection of bathrooms. Some are good, some bad, and some ugly, but don’t fear venturing into new and unexplored loos! We’ve done that, so read on for reviews of both the Ladies’ and Mens’

The rating is  done in rolls of toilet paper, out of five.
1- Awful
2- Quite Bad
3- Good enough
4- Nice
5- Great

Sharpless Building
Girls’

Home sweet home. This bathroom, convenient for most middle schoolers, is functional and well-used. The soap dispenser is sometimes out, and the automatic paper towel dispenser is hard to use (which can be embarrassing). The facilities work well, though, and toilets are rarely clogged, if ever. The dark grout and lack of windows detract from the environment, but overall is fine.

Cleanliness: 4.5
Accessibility: 5
Facilities:4
Environment:3
Overall Average:4.125

Boys’
Not new, but works fine. No windows, ugly mustard yellow walls. Counter gets wet often.

Cleanliness: 2
Accessibility: 4.5
Facilities: 4
Environment: 2
Overall Average: 3.125

Alumni Building
Girls’

This potty is not used much, so it is quite clean, and in a good location if  you are in the Alumni Building. It has nice, natural light from the window. The only drawbacks are the paper towels on the floor by the garbage can and the lock on one of the stall doors being fidgety.


Cleanliness: 4.5
Accessibility: 3.5
Facilities:5
Environment:5
Overall Average: 4.5

Boys’
Beware of the steps by the door of this bathroom. When you enter the room, you have to walk down two steps, which, according to Owen, he almost fell down. Overall nice and clean.

Cleanliness: 4
Accessibility: 4
Facilities: 4.5
Environment: 3.5
Overall Average:4

Main Building-By the Cafeteria
Girls’

This restroom is a big improvement on what it used to be. The walls are freshly painted (last year the walls sported yellow wallpaper with giant pink and purple flowers), and the bathroom is clean. The floor dark red linoleum, so you can’t quite tell if it is dirty or not, but the bathroom overall is nice and well-kept.


Cleanliness: 3
Accessibility: 4
Facilities: 3
Environment:2.5
Overall Average: 3.125

Boys’
Far away from the cafeteria, down a few hallways, so if you don’t know where it is, you had better ask someone, because you won’t find it on your own.

Cleanliness: 4.5
Accessibility: 1.5
Facilities: 4.5
Environment:5
Overall Average: 3.875

Field House Gym
Girls’

Everything is new and clean in this loo. It’s well lit and nicely laid out so you don’t feel cramped or trapped. (It’s also easy to take a good photo of it.) If you’re in the Field House already, the bathroom is easy to get to, and it’s not a puzzle to find it.


Cleanliness: 5
Accessibility: 4
Facilities: 5
Environment: 4
Overall Average: 4.5

Boys’
All right bathroom, the facilities are new and work. No windows and trash are drawbacks, but everything is clean and bright.

Cleanliness: 3
Accessibility: 5
Facilities: 4
Environment:3
Overall Average: 3.75

Smith Gym
This bathroom is Unisex.
The bathroom in the basement of the Smith Gym smells like sweat, probably because it is right next to the wrestling room. Even though it says Ladies’ on the door, nobody cares if boys use it, and most people don’t even know the sign is there. It’s a single-toilet bathroom, but is smaller than most, so don’t go here if you’re claustrophobic.  The yellow walls make the experience more unpleasant, and Owen claims he once saw a cockroach in it, even if it was dead. The bathroom also has a leaky faucet.


Cleanliness: 2
Accessibility: 3.5
Facilities: 3.25
Environment: 2
Overall Average: 2.6875

Loeb Lobby
Girls’

This bathroom is used on certain occasions (like intermission of plays) by a lot of people, but is not used much, or at all, for long periods of time. The bathroom is clean and works well, but it has a bad smell of human feces. The venting is not great.

Cleanliness: 3
Accessibility: 3
Facilities: 3
Environment: 4
Overall Average:3.25

Loeb Basement
This Bathroom is Unisex

This is the scariest lavatory on campus. It’s probably where Myrtle spends most of her time. The lavatory, though only used by actors during  plays, is dirty and badly kept. The majority of the toilets are clogged most of the time, and the stall doors are western-style, so they lock in the middle. Some of the doors don’t even lock, so you have to have somebody hold the doors closed for you. The lavatory is also unisex, so it can be a bit awkward during intermission of upper school theater productions. Lisa Burns, the theatrical director, once broke her nose down there, so be careful. Since the lavatory is in the basement, the floor is concrete, and the lavatory is damp despite the fan. Nobody is actually supposed to go in the basement lavatory except for during productions, so thankfully, most middle schoolers won’t be going there any time soon.

This is probably Myrtle's stall. Best to stay away from here...

Cleanliness: 2
Accessibility: 2
Facilities: 1
Environment: 2
Overall Average:1.75