All posts by Lilliana Greene

Schools Closing in Philadelphia School District

On Thursday, March 2nd, Philadelphia officials voted to close 23 schools in the Philadelphia School District. These schools make up 10% of the districts schools so the closing causes devastation across the city. The vote to close the schools was taken in attempts to erase the districts huge budget deficit and to reduce the amount of schools that are underused. The meeting on the vote took three hours of heated discussion and argument while 500 protesters stood outside the building. Despite the large amounts of opposition, the district could not afford to keep these schools that are underused open, especially because the closings will erase $1.35billion from the budget deficit over the next 5 years. Continue reading Schools Closing in Philadelphia School District

GFS Jazz Band

One of the extracurricular activities at GFS that students are able to participate in is the Jazz Band. Described as fun and jazzy by many students at GFS, the Jazz Band offers a time for expression, learning, and enjoyment. Taking place on Mondays and Thursdays, students play rock and jazz selections under the creative but watchful direction of director Jeff Torchan.

The Jazz Band consists of a different arrangement than the normal “Big Band” Jazz instrumentation giving it a slightly different sound. A Big Band consists of two alto saxophones, two tenor saxophones, one baritone saxophone, four trumpets, four trombones, a drum, acoustic or electric bass, a piano, and a guitar. The GFS jazz band has three alto saxophones and only one tenor saxophone, completely lacking a baritone saxophone. The band has only two trumpets and two clarinets in place of the four trumpets and four trombones. Most different of all the Jazz Band has an overpowering rhythm section with five pianists three bass players, and three guitarists. Because of this balance is very important to control and the rhythm section is forced to take turns throughout the songs.

The Jazz Band has already participated in the GFS winter assembly, and have many more exciting appearances to undergo. During the winter assembly, the Jazz Band wowed the crowd with their skilled performance with various soloists, some including Joseph on the piano, Michael on the clarinet, and Sam on the trumpet. The song, “What I’d Say” was performed slightly slower than usual but with just as much energy.

The Jazz Band hopes to perform in many more concerts, including GFS’s very own Jazz concert. The next concert is the Haverford Middle School Jazz Concert, where the Jazz Band will compete against other Jazz Bands for various prizes. In preparation for the concert, the Jazz Band has started working on new pieces. One of the pieces, “Work Song” includes some combinations of notes the Jazz Band has not tried before, as well as a Melody Solo by Lilliana Greene.

Jazz Band is a great experience for all Middle School Students, especially for people that want to have fun and learn great Jazz pieces.

Reindeer, and Elves. The good, the better, and the magical!

“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen! On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen.”

When someone thinks of Christmas they think of reindeer and when one thinks of reindeer they think of Christmas. The two seem to go hand in hand. But, where do reindeer really come from? What is the origin of the flying reindeer? And what are some other important holiday creatures?

Reindeer are a type of deer that inhabit the Arctic and Subarctic. Reindeer vary much in size and color but both the male and female have the large antlers so commonly associated with them. Reindeer and the general public interact most commonly through the myth of Santa and his sled pulled by his magical flying reindeer. Reindeer are a huge part of cultures in the Northern part of the world. Reindeer have been trapped and hunted from the Stone Age to present day. In Norway, ruins have been found of old stone traps used to trap reindeer for fur and meat, as well as they used there antlers to create tools.

Reindeer do not only play a resource in humans life, but are used to pull sleighs (on the ground) like huskies. Reindeer are also an important symbol in areas like Norway as a symbol for coats of arms and also, appear on the Canadian 25 cents. Most importantly, reindeer warm the hearts of millions of children around the world as they aid St. Nick on his task to deliver presents to children.

The original eight reindeer that pulled St. Nick’s sleigh are usually credited in the 1823 poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore (shown above). However, Moore uses the German version of the reindeer Donder and Blitzen, where originally they were named in Dutch as Dunder and Blixem, both meaning Thunder and Lightning.

A popular addition to the original reindeer is Rudolph. Rudolph was known originally as a reindeer who was teased because of his red nose and excluded from any popular reindeer activities. Rudolph earns his fame, however, on one foggy Christmas Eve when Santa came and said  “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you lead my sleigh tonight.” This eventually leads to Rudolph being a hero and finally getting to play reindeer games and becomes magical flying Reindeer.

Another important figure in Christmas folklore is the Christmas elf who is know as Ssanta’s little helper and given the tasks of creating children’s toys and taking care of the reindeer. Elves are most commonly portrayed as short human like creatures that have pointy ears and by the law of the North MUST wear Santa costumes. Though elves are very jolly creatures, they could also be seen as stalkers as they are given the grizzly task of discovering which children are being bad or nice, and helping Santa to know when they are sleeping and to know when they are awake.

All magical creatures are vital to upholding the magic and joy of christmas. Christmas can be argued to be a holiday of many things, Jesus’ birth, presents, giving, but  all the traditions of Christmas tie back to believing, feeling joy, and being thankful for the magic and help that the creatures provide for the children of the world.

Mark of Athena

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan carries on the engaging story of the heroes of Olympus. In the Mark of Athena, seven demigods who are prophecised to be able to save the earth from the evil earth goddess Gea come together. The first three demigods who appeared in the first book, “The Lost Hero” Leo, Son of Hephaestus, Piper the daughter of Aphrodite, and Jason the son of Jupiter (Roman side of Zeus) have finally taken off in the warship created by Leo for the journey based on secret plans from the newly discovered bunker 9 in camp Half-blood. With them comes Annabeth, daughter of Athena, with a special quest set by her mother to follow the Mark of Athena unknown to the others. As a chaperone a war crazed Satyr accompanies the demigods. The first part of their  mission is to retrieve other demigods of the prophecy from the Roman Camp, Camp Jupiter, without  a fight. These demigods being Frank, Son of Mars, Hazel, daughter of Pluto, and Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, all appearing in the second book of the Heroes of Olympus “The Son of Neptune”.

Due to unfortunate events, the seven are forced to flee the Roman Camp on bad terms with the Romans. In their journey they travel to old Rome where twin Giants Ephialtes and Otis hold Niko, Hazel’s brother, captive and plan to destroy Rome. During this time Annabeth must go on her own journey to follow the mark of Athena to unknown doom, while Percy and Jason must defeat the two giants to save Rome and delay Gea’s awakening.

For all those who have read the Heroes of Olympus, Riordan goes beyond what he promised at the end of the “Son of Neptune”. Riordan once again manages to pull off a bestseller in one year. The Mark of the Athena is a book to satisfy all readers. With plenty of action and danger Riordan keeps you rapidly turning pages to find out what happens next. For those who enjoy romance, the reuniting of Annabeth and Percy is enough to satisfy any. Riordan finally brings together the seven heroes all fans have grown to love and in doing so creates intrigue, action, and romance to satisfy all. All in all, Riordan not only continues a well laid plot, but sets up an even greater one to carry one into the fourth book of the Heroes of Olympus, “The House of Hades”.