Category Archives: People

Infamous Writer Kurt Vonnegut Leaves the World Remembered

Kurt Vonnegut Biography
by Nick Dahl

Kurt Vonnegut was a writer in the 1940’s all the way up to as recently as 2007. He was a very influential American writer, in genres such as science fiction, black comedy, and satire. He was also the author of many great essays, which have now been put into great collections. He wrote all the way up until the day he died, always a great role model to all sorts of writers and celebrities today from Bill Bryson to Douglas Adams. Honorary head of the American Humanist Association and writer of such great books as “Slaughterhouse 5” and “Cat’s Cradle” this is a basic overview of his life and career.

Kurt Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and Edith Lieber. His older brother was named Bernard Vonnegut who later grew up to discover artificial precipitation. With his grandfather and father in architecture, they wanted him to major in the study of architecture to take over his dad’s company, Vonnegut and Bohn. Not wishing to do so, he went to Shortridge High School. After completing his time there he decided to go to Cornell University, at which point he was majoring in chemistry, the following fall. Despite his classes being more in the sciences there he was also the Managing Editor of the school published newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun. Even though he was a decent student, Vonnegut decided that he would enlist in the army, instead of staying the course at Cornell University. The U.S. army then transferred him to Carnegie Institute of Technology and, after he finished that the University of Tennessee so that he could now major in Mechanical Engineering to assist him in his stay in the army.

Now being ready and trained properly to be in the army, Kurt was sent of to be in World War II. Upon arrival he was set up in the 423rd Infantry Regiment. After a few successful missions he and his crew went to the Battle of the Bulge. After the backup of Kurt’s regiment were cut off and ran away from the battlefield, they were alone and forced to fight. The 423rd regiment was captured and became prisoners of war, stuck in Dresden by the Nazi’s.

Because of his knowledge of how to speak German, Kurt was elected to become the leader of the POW’s. After taunting the guards about what was going to happen when they were saved he was beaten and was forced to resign from his position. They were then stored in the basement of an old slaughterhouse, which the Germans referred to as “Slaughterhouse Five”. This whole nightmarish experience was later the topic of his best selling novel “Slaughterhouse Five” and many other books that he wrote in his career. The Americans, not knowing of the prisoners being held there, bombed Dresden, the city where Kurt Vonnegut and his allies were being held. It was taken apart to rubble and almost all of the civilians died, but being trapped in the basement of a sturdy meat house, Kurt and his buddies survived. The Germans, needing someone to gather all of the dead bodies, put them to work breaking into buildings and taking away the corpses. Finally, after more suffering and torment the Red Army Troops saved him from capture. He was later awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery in the horrid situations he found himself.

After leaving the army he returned to school to get a degree so he could rebuild his life post World War II. He attended the University of Chicago while writing for a local newspaper, the “City News Bureau of Chicago”. He wasn’t given any big stories, just the ones to fill in the space between big ones. Some teachers were saying that he was not good enough and that he couldn’t make a living off of this. Continuing study for his school, he moved out to the city of Schenectady, New York. There he worked with General Electric because his brother worked in the same company and was able to get him a job.  In his spare time worked as a part-time volunteer fireman for the station right by his house.  After a while of not taking books Vonnegut had previously written for publication but would later on be publicized such as Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan. His school, the University of Chicago, accepted his book “Cat’s Cradle” and gave him the M.A. degree that he wanted in the year 1971.

Kurt Vonnegut very briefly worked with the magazine “Sports Illustrated”, where he got bored, goofed off, and quit his job. After considering very strongly quitting writing altogether, he was offered a job at the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop. After taking it, he continued writing in his spare time and produced such great hits as “Slaughterhouse Five”. He then again moved to Narnstable, Massachusetts where he managed a Saab dealership. Kurt continued to write such novels as Deadeye Dick and Breakfast of Champions and, after a failed suicide attempt he continued and wrote many science fiction books. Many of his later books either had him incorporated into the book or a character, which was supposed to be him named Kilgore Trout. He would often have the characters talk to him, as thought they were saying how they didn’t like how the story was going. In 1997, after the publication of his book Timequake, Kurt said that he was retiring from writing fiction books. He wrote a few non-fiction books and then retired for good after teaching at Harvard University for a short spell. He passed away on April 11, 2010.

Sports Exemptions at GFS

By Andreas Bezahler

Sketch by Sammy Randall

At Germantown Friends Middle School you are required to take one sport per season. In some cases though, you can get exempt for a season or in some cases even the whole year . There are many different sports or various activities that can qualify you for a sports exemption.  It may surprise you to know that at GFS there are currently about 25 exempt students.

Some of the outside sports which are exemption approved include horseback riding, ballet, ice-hockey, swimming, martial arts, Irish dancing, cheerleading, fencing, tennis, table tennis, travel soccer and hiking. I decided to interview some people who are exempted from sports.  One person with an exemption who I interviewed is a current 7th grader named Alexandra Rhoads.

Me: Hi Alex

Alex: Hey

M: What sport are you exempt for?

A: I swim indoors at Cheltenham High School

M: Is there a reason why you didn’t choose a sport at GFS?

A: Because, I really wanted to swim and it wasn’t an option for middle schoolers at GFS

M: Do you think that GFS should broaden their sports to include swimming?

A: Yes, but I think it would cost a lot of money and there may not be enough people to make a team.

M: Do you think that GFS should make it a priority?

A: Yes, I think it would also make GFS a more attractive school.

M: Well, thanks for your opinion and I enjoyed talking with you.

A: You’re welcome

In conclusion you can see that a lot of children are exempt because they want to play various sports not in the GFS middle school athletics program.  The majority of children though love and enjoy playing for our school, and think our athletics program is a great asset for a school.

A Wonderful Winter Break Survey

I decided to take a survey on what people did over their Winter Break- 2 weeks of no school to do what they want. Most of the results did not surprise me, only a few stuck out of the crowd. I surveyed 20 people and my results are below:

  1. Traveled: 9
  2. Lazed Around: 7
  3. Family & Friends: 6
  4. Skiing: 3
  5. Other: 2

Some people did a couple things, while most only did one. For some people, Winter Break was full of exciting times. For example, Rhonda had watched the whole first season of Dexter. Last time we spoke, she was up to season 5. Others did things such as visiting exotic countries, meeting new family, and even trips to the hospital.

It is disappointing how many people lazed around. Let’s try to do something more active this spring break. Then we can see how many people were able to do it!

Should Laptops be Allowed in School?

Laptops in School, The Great Debate
By Gabe Buyske

Parents, teachers, and students have been arguing about laptops in GFS for about as long as I can remember (I’m new). That’s why I interviewed one representative from each group and talked to them about their opinions so we can finally get an answer to THE GREAT DEBATE

Should laptops be in school? Interview with parent:

Question: What is your general view of laptops in school?

Answer: Overall, I think that they allow you to access a lot of information. Also I think they are a good use of technology.

Q: What are some pros of laptops?

A: Well, for one thing, students can write on them eliminating the issue with handwriting. It also lets you practice using laptops at an early age as you will when you’re an adult, it  gives you access to internet, and easily allows you to receive emails from teachers during the day.

Q: What do you think are some cons of laptops in school?

A: They provide access to Facebook and social networking sites wich can be distracting, they allow for less serious research such as use of Wikipedia, they are expensive and are easily lost or damaged.

Q: How do you think they can be funded?

A: More money needs to be put in student education and should be government funded but damage or loss of the laptops should be the student’s responsibility.

Should laptops be allowed in school? Interview with Rhonda:

Q: What is your general view of laptops in school?

A: I think they will eventually be used more and this will eventually happen.

Q: What are some pros of laptops?

A: The fact that you can bring your files with you and you don’t run the risk of losing data. I also think its good for students who have problems with organization.

Q: What are some cons of laptops?

A: There could be a chance a student could use it inappropriately.

Q: How do you think they can be funded if we do get them?

A: I think we could get donations from ex-students who have graduated.

Should laptops be allowed in school? Interview with student 1

Q: What is your general view of laptops in school?

A: They can be useful. While I don’t bring them in, other people might want to.

Q: What are some pros of laptops?

A: They can provide resources and can be a powerful tool as well you can use it for math and writing as well.

Q: What are some cons of laptops in school?

A: Can be used for non-school things such as social networking and can be distracting.

Q: How can we fund laptops?

A: Donations from parents.

Should laptops be allowed in school? Interview with student 2.

Q: What is your general view of laptops in school?

A: I don’t think that anyone under ninth grade should be allowed to have laptops in school because until that age I don’t believe that students will be responsible. Sixth to Eighth Graders are very unorganized and laptops might help them keep everything together.  Also students with bad handwriting should not be deprived of good grades because the teacher finds it difficult to read.

Q: What are some pros of laptops in school?

A: Organization, no excuse for forgetting work, easy way to type homework, makes finishing work easier and faster so you can do a better job and learn more.

Q: What are some cons of laptops in school?

A: They’re distracting, would distract students, students may go on Youtube and inappropriate sites, easily cheating on tests and work, for example going on a history site because you didn’t study and that promotes dishonesty.

Q: How can laptops be funded?

A: Not funded by school, but by parents so the school can save money and since laptops are not essential  this will be a good punishment but will not hurt the students grade.