Category Archives: Editorials

The Awkward Years: a middle school retrospective

Middle school is over for me and the other sixty-six humans with whom I have now spent much too much time over the past three years. So first, a congratulation: we actually made it! We managed to live through the first of the awkward years, the painful and humiliating years. The years that at family gatherings our relatives cringe to hear we are currently encountering. The stressful, socially inept and hormonally imbalanced years have descended upon us, and we have made it through eighth grade. Continue reading The Awkward Years: a middle school retrospective

Editorial: Our New Principal

We need a principal who cares. While this sounds self-explanatory, the Middle School often gets lost in the shuffle of a busy K-12 school such as GFS. Our principal should be willing to stick up for our division while collaborating with the entire school. To do this, he or she will need a vision for what the Middle School should be, and want to follow through. We believe that any person can be well-meaning, but it takes determination to make their job work. Continue reading Editorial: Our New Principal

Editorial: The GFS Bubble

On the other side of Germantown Avenue, just thirty feet from the end of Germantown Friend School’s campus, lies NHS Parkside Recovery, a methadone clinic.  Even if they have noticed, not many students think about it.

As a rule, GFS is very liberal. The student body is fairly affluent. Almost every family owns one, if not two cars and most live in relatively good-sized houses.  Full tuition for the Middle School costs $28,000 to $30,000 per year.  The neighborhood of Germantown, on the other hand, has somewhat less.  Average household income* is around $37,000, just 23% more than GFS tuition and only 13.1% of the population attends one or more years of college (100% of GFS graduates attend 4-year colleges).  With all this, it’s no wonder the idea of a GFS Bubble is so often brought up. Continue reading Editorial: The GFS Bubble

Editorial: Bridging the Gap

The narcissus daffodil flower is named after the myth about the dude who couldn’t stop staring at himself in the water. Keep this in mind later.

Are we the greatest generation? There seems to be a point of view that the generation we as middle schoolers are a part of isn’t as good as the ones before. Sure, not everything about us as a generation is great, but it’s not all bad either. We are certainly different from any other generation, and it’s because of the environment that we have come out of. Continue reading Editorial: Bridging the Gap

Editorial: Middle School: A Retrospective

Cassie: Middle School. The ugly stepchild of Germantown Friends; neither adorable, nor attractive. Neither charming nor intelligent. People say only two things are certain; death and taxes, but they would be wrong. In Middle School, I discovered that not only death and taxes prevail into the bottomless depths of eternity, but so did homework, dramatic diary entries, and every year spent in this pseudo-hell. It is beyond me why, at this horrific period of any human’s lifetime, they are stuffed into classrooms, told to grow up, and suddenly bombarded with the most stress they have ever experienced in their entire existence. Personally, I believe adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14 should be sent to remote countryside villages; to mope, run art blogs, and write free-form poetry-graffiti on modern architecture. The goal being, of course, to get over as much of their juvenile cynicism, judgment, and self-hatred to become functioning, thoughtful, kind, members of society. No I didn’t enjoy it. How did you guess?

Rating: thumbs-down Continue reading Editorial: Middle School: A Retrospective

Editorial: Affinity Groups

Several months ago a group of white students attempted to attend the Students of Color meeting at lunch. They were abruptly turned away by the meeting’s leader, 8th grade history teacher Aaron Preetam. This event brought up several questions about the nature of the Students of Color meeting: What’s the purpose of the Students of Color meeting, and why aren’t white students allowed into the Students of Color meeting?

Continue reading Editorial: Affinity Groups

Editorial: Dressed to Impress or Provoke?

Like most subjective things, what is considered appropriate varies from person to person, making deciding on a dress code difficult. We, as the editorial board, found it extremely challenging to come to a consensus of what should and shouldn’t be worn to school. We’ve decided that we know what’s inappropriate when we see it (i.e. we would deem coming to school in a string bikini or wearing nothing at all inappropriate), but we can’t agree on where conservative turns to racy. Continue reading Editorial: Dressed to Impress or Provoke?

EDITORIAL: Defined Lines

You probably have heard the song “Blurred Lines,” but it’s a good chance you haven’t heard that it’s sexist, or for that matter, taken the time to learn why it’s sexist. It’s hard to believe that a song so widely played and so frustratingly catchy, a song named the Billboard song of the summer, and also the official theme song of the recent NBA playoffs, could be so blatantly offensive, but alas, Robin Thicke and Pharrell have achieved a new low.

Continue reading EDITORIAL: Defined Lines

Editorial: Teachers’ Pets

What is a teacher’s pet? We all think we’ve seen them before. They’re the kids the teacher picks to answer the questions in class all of the time; the ones who always are obnoxiously polite to the teachers; the ones that they never scold. They’re always smart, and always seem to go above and beyond on class assignments. This is a position that is at once envied and shunned in our society. Continue reading Editorial: Teachers’ Pets

Editorial: Dating in the Middle School

DATING

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines it like this: Dating (v.) – An appointment, especially to go out socially.

The Middle School definition of dating: Dating in Middle School (v.) – A title or label promoting the idea of romance that children are not yet capable of.

So why do it? You could probably ask a select circle of boys and girls in each grade, but as The Corner Editorial Board, we decided to think about this subject for this issue’s editorial. Continue reading Editorial: Dating in the Middle School

Editorial: To Deck the GFS Halls or Not!

There is often controversy around the holidays in regard to decorations in schools and other public places. For example, some say that there is a “War on Christmas” because of signs that say HAPPY HOLIDAYS instead of Merry Christmas. On the other side, those who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa often feel that their beliefs are underrepresented in public areas that are festooned with Christmas’ wreaths and decorations. At Germantown Friends School, the main lobby is decorated with a Christmas tree and multi-colored lights. There is  mistletoe hung over the center of the lobby, which most everyone gives a wide birth.  Just as an aside, the significance of mistletoe started in pre-Christian Europe in the midst of Norse mythology, where it was used to kill somebody. In the sixteenth century it somehow became a symbol of Christmas and a popular excuse to kiss somebody. Mistletoe is an example of a cultural symbol that doesn’t really have any religious significance, and in the opinion of the editorial staff should not be offensive to anyone. The windows in the lower school building are adorned with hand drawn symbols of many religions. This showcases the school’s attempt to educate and be inclusive to many religions.

All of these decorations beg the question: Is it appropriate to have holiday decorations displayed at Germantown Friends since we have many non-Christian students?  And, do such decorations offend minority groups who feel underrepresented? We would argue that as long as a variety of religions and customs are represented these symbols as a group help us to feel excited about the upcoming holidays. Although GFS strives for diversity, we are a Quaker school and as a Christian religion one would expect that you would encounter more Christian decorations than others.

Because of this we believe that holiday decorations do have a place in GFS and serve to help us get into the holiday spirit. The editorial staff believes that as a schoool, GFS respects all student holiday beliefs The festival of lights celebration is a case in point.  All students are encouraged to share their family customs and traditions.  Therefore, feel free to hang as many wreaths, as much mistletoe and as many holiday decorations as you desire, just keep the kissing to a minimum. Happy Holidays!

~ The Corner Editorial Board 2012-13

Query: Do Queries Help Our Community?

Anyone who has gone to GFS has heard queries about the value of community. This year, because one of our “featured” testimonies is community we will hear even more. However, do these queries really work? Do the questions posed at assembly in preparation for Meeting for Worship really inspire people to behave differently? Can we build a community with just words?

There are many reasons why these queries may not be taken to heart. The most obvious reason is that people don’t pay attention when the queries are announced. Perhaps this is because the queries are announced right before lunch when people’s minds are more focused on a turkey sub than what they can do to help build community.

Another reason queries don’t penetrate the minds of middle school students is that some students might think they are too cool to actively be a part of a growing community. Maybe this is because the word community conquers up images of hippies and peace signs.

The reality is all people, no matter how cool they may act, really do want to be a part of a community. Maybe the word community is getting in the way of people understanding what it means. It’s like telling a joke and announcing it’s going to be funny rather than just telling it and letting people laugh. Rather than a non-specific long-winded query along the lines of: “Were the consequences of a growing disquietude and grade level separatism responsible for the inadequate geopolitical frame of our community?”, why can’t we just have kids from different grades work on the dance committee together? Middle school students respond much better to a humorous skit or more of an open discussion where people aren’t afraid to share their opinions.

Don’t use the word community. Don’t use it at least for just a little while; instead use another word: society, commonwealth, partnership, culture, semblance, affinity, kinship or just GFS.

But really, if you want to build a stronger community stop talking about it in assembly and start being a part of your own society/commonwealth/partnership/co-partnership/semblance/affinity/kinship/(community).

Tell us how you think we can better build a better community at GFS. We’d like to hear from you at thecorner@gfsnet.org. Make it readable to all audiences and include your name so it can appear in our next issue under Letters to the Editor. Thanks.

~ The Corner Editorial Board 2012-13

Editorial: The Student’s Toolbox, an Unnecessary Load?

You know you’ve got a problem when you are in pain from your backpack as you are going back up to your room to grab those two extra binders you’ve forgotten. And yet, this happens quite frequently to the average GFS middle school student, particularly in the 7th and 8th grades. One’s backpack becomes more than a pain in the neck, it becomes a serious pain in the back; And not only can it hurt to walk around with a backpack, it can, depending on just how much is in the bag, actually cause long-term problems in a student’s back. While there are understandably many tools of the student, the “toolbox” of the student should not harm them even when they are not wearing a backpack, let alone while they are.

Of course, it is not as if teachers are oblivious to this. Some may assign rather heavy loads, but most, if not all teachers are aware that backpack weights are a problem. They have even gone so far as to create a solution,lockers. Except, if lockers are so widespread (after all, we literally see them in every hallway of the Sharpless Building), why is it that backpack weights are still an issue for schools that have them?

The primary answer is that, as it happens, many students do not even use their lockers. In reality, to actively use one’s locker can take a fair amount of time, relative to the time limit placed upon getting from class to class. There are the locker combinations to remember, and when they escape a student’s memory, the student has to track down the piece of paper on which their locker combination was originally given to them, if this even still exists. And even with the locker open, the compartment given is smaller than the space the average backpack offers, and is a pain to deal with when a student has such a heavy payload of binders and papers to work with. Here, a student could spend a maximum of five minutes (or even more) just getting their locker open, and dealing with loading and unloading, a range that already exceeds the grace period.

Lockers, as one might see, are not exactly the end-all solution to lowering one’s backpack weight. While some use them better than others, it is a hassle any way you go about it, especially if your locker is inconveniently placed in the building. However, they might do a bit of a better job if not for another factor, the actual kinds of homework that students receive.

When the average middle school student looks inside their binder for any of their four-to-six main classes, they will generally find it filled with worksheets, notes, loose-leaf paper, quizzes and tests, and other miscellaneous handouts acquired through the year. With all this crammed into a single binder, four to six classes at a time adds up to a lot of weight; this doesn’t even include the other textbooks and workbooks most students carry in their bags. There are some things that have been created to lessen this such as periodic binder clearings, but even these don’t do all that much, considering how quickly they fill up.

A much better idea is to replace some of these worksheets and textbooks with online files. In some subjects such as Math, a student can acquire one or more worksheets or handouts per day. Imagine how much less paper would be used, and how much lighter backpacks would become, if all these were suddenly on one’s computer. The digital world actually has a lot to offer in this regard, and to transfer some of a backpack’s weight to virtual documents would be beneficial to both teachers and students; the students carry less, and less papers get crumpled in bags or simply lost in transit.

This is not to say that the student body should simply ignore the options it has. For starters, lockers, despite their imperfections, can be used on trips where the locker is on one’s way to the next class, and the common strategy of only taking the books one needs to get through the next break could certainly be used more than it is now. Plus, some backpacks have waist belts and shoulder straps that can effectively lessen the strain of a backpack, and students don’t even use them.

Clearly, backpacks and binders should not be replaced, because they both serve us as students daily in at least a dozen ways, but they should not be so full that it is painful to walk around with them. Through a combination of the strategies above and, hopefully, new implements to this field, we as students can lessen what we carry, and how much of a toll it actually takes on us.

~ The Corner Editorial Board 2011-12