What’s Black and White and Red All Over?

By Lucy Van Dyke and Julia Schoenberg

As the editors of Red All Over, we had one new year’s resolution: to print our first issue. Having worked all semester on editing articles and finishing the website, it seemed only fitting to introduce our new newspaper at the start of the new year.

Red All Over began with three goals: to connect the community, inform the student body, and, most importantly, provide a platform for student expression. There needed to be a place where student interests, issues and events were brought to the attention of the community.

We began at the end of last year. The plan was to work all summer, releasing our first issue by the Opening Day convocation. However, having no knowledge about starting a newspaper, writing articles, or formatting a layout, we soon realized a first-day-of-school issue might be unrealistic.

Covering election drama, debates, and campaigns was our new mission, so our team started writing in November. We believed that our new goal was achievable and began to write. Our staff worked tirelessly, covering the Trump vs. Clinton chaos, hopeful to publish  before November 8th. But November came and went, and with it went our second failed attempt at publication.

Feeling slightly discouraged, we set back to work, desperate to release something before we were forgotten completely. With the help of Ms. Blatti, Ms. Malfa, our faculty sponsors Ms. Radov and Ms. RT, our faculty editor Mr. Souser, and the technological genius of Mr. LePain, we were able to complete our first issue. It took many meetings in the science prep room (yes, that’s where we meet) and countless rewrites of articles, but we are proud to announce the very first issue of Red All Over.

Red Head

By Julia Schoenberg

In September of 2016, Roland Park Country School welcomed its seventh head of school, Caroline Blatti. Within weeks of her first day, it was confirmed that Mrs. Blatti was a perfect fit. Constantly buzzing through the halls, eager to learn the names of every student, Mrs. Blatti brought undeniable energy and excitement to her new position. Despite her busy schedule, Mrs. Blatti’s efforts to connect with students and become someone they feel comfortable with was apparent from the moment she entered our campus.

In the past, many students felt there was distance between the administration and the student body. However, with the introduction of our new head, it seemed only fitting to try to bridge this gap. With this in mind, we interviewed Mrs. Blatti to try to achieve the personable and transparent relationship between students and administrators that Mrs. Blatti conveys everyday.

Sitting in her oak paneled office, we started with the basics: wait, where are you from again? Mrs. Blatti was born in the Bronx, although she was raised in New Jersey. After attending the Academy of the Holy Angels, Mrs. Blatti went on to Princeton University, where she majored in English. Prior to coming to RPCS, Mrs. Blatti lived in Memphis, Tennessee, where she was the Upper School head at The Hutchison School, another all-girls private school. There, Mrs. Blatti not only helped run the newspaper but also founded a leadership program.

Obviously dedicated to the education of young women, we asked Mrs. Blatti, why all-girls? Her answer embodied everything Roland Park aims to instill in us. She explained that an all-girls education promotes confidence. Because the entire student body is female, all leadership roles are assumed by women. Similarly, it is very rare to come across a community that fosters both rigor and camaraderie; however, this is commonplace at all-girls schools.

Preliminary background check complete, we were able to move onto what really matters.

Favorite food? Salad. (We obviously recommended Nalley Fresh.)

Favorite TV show to binge-watch? Veep.

Superpower of choice? Super speed.

Go-to book? To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

Hidden talent? Irish step dancing..

Favorite place you have traveled (excluding Roland Avenue, of course)? Wales.

Although you may have doubted how many similarities you share with our new headmistress, hopefully now you see that binge-watching television and the need for super speed do not  diminish with adulthood. We are so excited to welcome Mrs. Blatti into our community and to get to know her more as the year progresses.

#ITCANWAIT

By Lindsay Cashman and Spencer Sutley

Did you know texting while driving makes a crash six times more likely than driving drunk does? It is estimated that you spend an average of five seconds looking at your phone while checking it. Those five seconds are considered blind driving. Every year, 1.6 million crashes are caused by using a cell phone and driving at the same time. Ninety eight percent of people are aware of the risks caused by texting and driving, but thirty five percent of those people admitted to doing it anyways. In our Roland Park community, a survey was sent out to the Upper School Students asking about who participates in distracted driving. Out of all the students who can drive, sixteen percent admitted to texting and driving, thirty three percent admitted to looking at notifications while driving, and forty five percent admitted to looking at their phones to change the music. Also, a shocking seventy three perfect of responders said their parents use their phones while driving as well. Next time you reach for your phone, ask yourself, is it worth it?

One text or call could wreck it all. #Itcanwait

The New Exam Cram

By Lindsay Cashman and Kendall Lambert

Over these past few months, particularly the frantic month of December, there was much speculation as to whether this new exam schedule would reign superior to the previous.  With the pressure of the holidays, and the desperate ache for winter vacation, the thought of only two to three exams surely sounded luxurious, however as those exams came and went, it became clearer that there were many mixed opinions.

In contrast to the old exam schedule, in which, after winter break, there were two hour assessments in every class that a student was enrolled in, including a full reading day dedicated to seeing teachers, the new exam schedule has exams in only two subjects (math and science), as well as 90 minutes of a normal school day dedicated to seeing teachers. During this modified exam week, teachers in humanities classes could not give major tests or projects. In the weeks after break, humanities classes may then give major assessments, assign projects, or hold exams similar to those prior to winter vacation.

With a desire to uncover the opinions of those in the Roland Park Country School community, we asked select students and teachers their thoughts on this new schedule. According to those students, the most difficult part about the exam schedule was the excessive amounts of homework they were given, on top of having to study for exams. Some students still had tests and quizzes the same week as exams, one student even stating that she, “had 3 major assessments due on ‘review’ week.” Many students complained that their stress levels were increased with the instillation of this new exam schedule. A comment from one student states that she among others now have, “make up work that they were unable to complete prior [to exams],” that she now must complete over the holidays. Though many students possessed positive thoughts about the new schedule going into the weeks leading up to the assessments, they expressed frustration with the amounts of homework and stress as the exams drew nearer.

Yet, it wasn’t just the homework amounts that left some students worrying, but the shortened reading day troubled not only those students, but some teachers as well. Transitioning from a full day of review into a 90-minute period squeezed into a shortened schedule, the same day as the Christmas program, was a difficult change. A number of students expressed their dislike of the shortened reading day, rather reading 90 minutes, saying that, “all the science and math teachers were completely overloaded, so there was very little opportunity to review with your teachers during that time period,” and, “it was nearly impossible to meet with a teacher.” One student even said that the stress of reading day “discouraged [her] from trying to study for exams.” Of those students interviewed, 75% expressed distaste for the revised reading day, and the other 25% were not present during reading day, a few stating their reason for absence as being in the Christmas program.

However, it wasn’t just the students who expressed discomfort for reading day, but a few teachers spoke of their difficulties as well. With those instructors being bombarded with the entirety of their classes, all in a short span of 90 minutes, within one classroom, the complexities are only imaginable. Teachers want the students to succeed as much as the students do, yet with only one of them, plenty of us, and an hour and a half, there will be some problems. Upon asking several teachers their thoughts on the reading day experience, many mixed opinions were shared. Some teachers brought up the point that in their science and math classes, students have the chance to increase their grades after the exams. Some teachers said that, “the 1.5 hours of reading day were not ideal,” however went on to say that “the schedule worked out” based upon the number of classes they taught. Though some students did feel as though they did not get all of their questions answered as, again, there is only one teacher and many students with questions.

Of all the students that we reached out to, 38% expressed their wishes to return the schedule to what it once was, yet the other 62% stated that changing the exams to before break instead of after was a smart transition, however they also all said that adjustments should be made if the schedule were to stay. Some suggestions include, “having all exams before break,” and the “two exams before winter break idea, but [bringing] back review days and reading day,” However many students felt uncomfortable with this new exam schedule, it is important to be reminded that the goal was not to confuse and worry the students, but to figure out a way to make the exam period a less stressful time. Now that the math and science departments have finished their exams, and as we move onto January with humanities preparing their projects and assessments, the faculty observes and takes in all that has happened in order to better the students’ and the teachers’ exam experience. To gain better insight on the new exam schedule, we reached out to our upper school head, Mrs. Malfa, to hear her piece pre-exam period:

“…We wanted to reduce student stress and gain instructional time.  We also wanted to make sure whatever we did aligned with our missions as college preparatory schools… The other thing we felt strongly about was we wanted students to have a real break from work over the winter holiday.”

We also asked for her post-exam period thoughts:

“The biggest benefit I can see right now is classes have gained significant instructional time.  (This comes from cutting out a week of exams, a full day for reading day, and a make-up day.)  The biggest difficulty/problem I see right now was the loss of reading day and the impact of the timing of exams and the Christmas program.”

With the start of the new year, and going into the end of the semester, we suggest that everyone keep an open mind regarding the schedule. The faculty has everyone’s best interests in mind. It is unknown what the exam schedule for winter 2017 will look like, however we wish everyone luck in the months between now and then.

ISIS, Syria and the Refugee Crisis

By Laura Rockefeller

We hear a lot about ISIS, the Syrian Civil War, and the refugee problem in the news, but the talk can be difficult to keep up with and understand. Here are some up front answers, brought to you by the Current Events Club at RPCS.

Syria is currently in a complicated, messy, and bloody civil war. In 2011, protests broke out against the regime government and its leader, Bashar al-Assad. In an effort to stay in power, Assad tried to suppress the protests by using chemical weapons, torture, and other fear tactics. Violence on both sides escalated into a full-blown civil war, with rebel forces vs. Assad’s forces.

Here’s where it gets confusing: The rebels fighting Assad are NOT UNIFIED—different groups have different goals. They are fighting each other as much as they are fighting Assad’s regime. Some are still fighting to bring democracy to Syria. But some are fighting for Al-Quaeda and other terrorist groups. Also, some are Kurds… a story for another time.

But it gets more confusing. In 2014, ISIS entered the picture. Syria, in the midst of all the fighting explained above, was a perfect breeding ground. This is why terrorist organizations like ISIS can thrive in crisis: because governments can do little to combat them. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) enforces sharia (Islamic extremist) law. Their territory, as the name suggests, is in Iraq and Syria. Ultimately, their goal is to create a Sunni caliphate across the entire Middle East. They are fighting all the other rebel groups in Syria.

As a result of air strikes (bombs dropped from planes or drones) led by the United States and other countries, ISIS has lost 45% of the territory it once held in Iraq and 20% of the territory it once held in Syria (total of 65% of their territory lost).  However, there are obvious ethical issues to consider with air strikes: It is extremely difficult to avoid unintentionally bombing innocent civilians.

The fighting between rebel groups, Assad’s forces, and ISIS, combined with airstrikes from all players, has left at least 400,000 dead in the last 5 years… and that’s as of April 2016. Far greater numbers of desperate Syrians are fleeing the carnage, making Syria the number one global producer of refugees. As of September 2015, 4 million people had fled the country (even that’s outdated). 95% of those who have escaped the country are living in neighboring countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan. Many refugee camps in these countries are crowded and undersupplied. The fighting has also left a third of the country’s population homeless, displaced within Syria. Cities such as Aleppo are struggling to get food and medical supplies, leaving people hungry and without medical care.

Keep in mind, this fact package is only some essential facts about this complex and messy issue, since we only have so much time and space. If you want to keep learning about this and more news, come to Current Events club! Day 7 in Ms. RT’s room!

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvOnXh3NN9w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzmO6RWy1v8

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/07/losing-ground-fighter-morale-is-it-all-over-for-isis-syria-turkey

 

Uber Everywhere?

By Kelly Fennessy

Earlier this year, Uber stopped running in Austin, Texas when local authorities urged the company to enforce fingerprints and background checks on its drivers.  This seemed like a reasonable request, but Uber would not comply.  Instead of doing simple fingerprints and quick scans, which even small taxi companies can do, Uber abandoned its base in Austin.  Why did Uber not take this seemingly simple safety precaution?  Because adding this measure with their drivers would make them employees.

Uber drivers are technically independent contractors that work for the company.  This means drivers do not receive any benefits, Uber is not liable for any accidents, and drivers cannot unionize.  By requiring these safety measures from their drivers, Uber would be making them seem increasingly like employees, resulting in legal obligations that the company is able to avoid at present.  Having independent contractors as drivers gives Uber an edge that taxi companies do not have and it is partly what has made the company so successful.

Pulling out of such a large city was no doubt financially stressful for the corporation, but Uber is still one of the top competitors in the field of transportation.  Their goal is to become a monopoly, but this hole in Austin has opened space for a wave of new players . Austin has managed to find new companies similar to Uber that can fill the void, and these businesses fingerprint.  Uber has always had competitors like Lyft and other taxi-like services; however, as these companies begin to accept further background checks on their drivers, the future of Uber has become unclear.  While Uber still seems to be at the top of its game, there is a possibility that other cities may request more safety precautions as well. Because of this, it seems less likely that Uber could reach its goal of maintaining its place as #1. Cities are likely to want more transportation options, as competition is good for prices, but it is not only safety concerns that could be the cause of Uber’s demise.

Drivers are getting fed up with their lack of benefits, such as not receiving tips, being judged on the five-star system, and not being able to unionize.  These drivers have other options as more transportation opportunities become available, and that could potentially hurt Uber in the future.  The company may face more than one issue that could pull it downhill.  Only time will tell, but with the other options on the market I would not be too worried about finding a ride home.

Riveting Reviews and Recommendations

By Kendall Lambert

Hello to all those who took the time to stop and read my article. What you are about to skim over is how I believe you should be spending your time. Sit back in an uncomfortable desk chair and lean your head at an awkward angle as you read this month’s edition of movies and TV shows to watch.

First, let me tell you about an incredibly enlightening movie that I watched at 11:00 PM on a school night instead of doing my homework. Like Crazy. That’s the name of the movie, not a description of my way of life using a false qualifier. Like Crazy is actually one of the most heartfelt and beautiful films that I’ve ever taken the time to watch, and I’m pretty picky when it comes to this stuff. The flick stars Felicity Jones, whom you may have seen in another movie I would recommend, The Theory of Everything; Anton Yelchin, the young Star Trek star who recently died in a car accident; and Jennifer Lawrence (If you don’t know who she is at this point then you’re doing something wrong). If you’ve just gotten out of a relationship, if it’s that time of the month, or if you are simply in the mood for a good cry, then I recommend watching Like Crazy. The two characters, Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) have a complicated relationship full of ups and downs beginning in college and continuing through the next few years after graduation. It made me think, laugh, and cry. In fact, it made me sob so hard that when my mom came into my room while I was watching, she genuinely thought something was wrong. Like Crazy will leave you thinking about the ambiguous ending after the credits have rolled and the screen has gone black. I rate it 7.5/10 . I hope you take the time one day whether it is tomorrow or 13 years from now on a lonely night having high school flashbacks, to watch this film. It is worth your time.

In complete contrast to Like Crazy I am going to recommend a television show that some call the best in the world: Game of Thrones. Before you roll your eyes and skip over this paragraph entirely, hear me out. I, too, was once a judge of those who watched this fantasy show. It seemed like every adult in the world watched it and was raving about it, including my parents., My automatic instinct was to push it away. However, given the fact that my start of summer this year was as boring as it gets, I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and I have never looked back. I was hooked from episode one. When I say that the start of my summer was boring, I mean to say that Game of Thrones literally changed my summer experience to make it more exciting. In fact, the highlight of the season was sitting in my room at 1:00 AM, having just finished episode 9 of this amazing television show, in complete and utter shock, and thinking to myself, ‘This is where it heats up.’ It took me two short months to finish the enthralling series and I am still completely attached. The show itself is not just about dragons, knights, and kings, so if that was what held you back then I suggest testing the waters and seeing for yourself. here are also some extremely attractive people who star in it. (Don’t believe me? Google the cast.) When you need the opposite of a good cry, watch Game of Thrones. I often leave after watching an episode with high adrenaline levels and a powerful, strong feeling. The theme song alone is enough get to my blood pumping. I easily give this show a 9.9/10, as each episode only gets better. You can find this show on OnDemand, as well as on HBO GO..(If you don’t have an account then just use your friends’. They’ll never know.) I anxiously await season 7, and I hope by the time it comes back on in May, you will be ready to watch with me. Next month I’ll have a new movie and TV suggestion ready for you. Happy watching!

(Side Note: If you do choose to watch Game of Thrones I would also recommend not getting too attached to ANY of the characters. )

Fit Class

By Catherine Knipp and Emma Shaw

After three years in the making, FIT Classes are here. Your original PE requirement class has been nixed and the FIT Class elective system has replaced them. Since this change has begun the responses have varied. According to many students the biggest problem is finding where the FIT Classes fit into their schedule. Regardless of grade, students have struggled with placing these classes into their busy schedules. A freshman advisor said that the most frequently mentioned complaint was that there were not enough times that were both available to her advisees and compatible with their schedules. When asked about this problem the PE department acknowledged this issue and said they are working to change it for the next trimester. They admit to not having anticipated some of the scheduling issues and claim they are taking steps to fixing them.

The current order for signing up for classes begins with the 9th graders; the grade with the fewest frees. Next are the 10th graders in double science or double language and finally juniors with the most free periods fall towards the bottom of the priority list. They also plan to look into which classes were most popular and take that into account when creating the fit class schedule for the next trimester.

When asked about how the previous PE log stands in comparison to the now FIT classes, the PE department said that they believe this new system is significantly better. They said that the PE log grew out of necessity from when the school’s gym was under construction and that it would be a shame to not use our current facilities. A faculty advisor also claimed she thought the FIT class system was a step up because most students would either not complete their PE log, forget to turn it in on time or makeup the activities. They also plan to make the FIT classes a requirement for seniors next year. However, they want to honor the hectic schedule of senior year and therefore will only require seniors to complete two trimesters.

However, upperclassmen have generally had more complaints than praises when it comes to these new classes. A disadvantage to the required FIT classes, as noted by the junior class, include the elimination of their free periods in which they could do homework. As everyone knows, junior year can be emotionally and physically draining due to the amount of work students receive. Although many argue that physical activity can reduce stress levels, students are arguing that it does the opposite. Instead of working out independently or on an outside sports team, students feel as though this requirement to get active takes away the purpose of working out outside of school. This reasoning comes from the FIT classes’ taking the place of their free periods, leaving homework as a main priority for after school. However, it is currently being discussed whether or not an out of school sport that regularly practices during the school week counts as the sport requirement to get out of taking FIT classes.

However, students in every grade can have very few free periods; classes such as STEM, extra AP courses, and electives can take up multiple periods in a ten day schedule, leaving some with only four frees a cycle (note: four FIT classes are required per cycle). It is difficult to maintain these extra courses and the work that they require when extra time is being consumed by the FIT classes. Time to see teachers cannot be limited to office hours when it comes to the workloads students are facing.

Lastly, students are having a hard time understanding how these required classes help them prepare for college. As upperclassmen, college is quickly approaching and many helpful habits are encouraged in order for students to succeed after graduating from RPCS. Many believe that instead of using required classes to encourage physical activity, the PE logs from the past should be brought back to teach independence in working out as generally in college, it is not required to take such classes.

Overall, FIT classes remain a controversial topic as different students see advantages and disadvantages. Due to the difference of circumstance between freshman and junior year, students have varying opinions depending on their grade. In the past, underclassmen have been required to take physical education classes while juniors and seniors had to complete a PE log showing their independent exercise outside of the RPCS community. For freshman and sophomores, the FIT classes offer an exciting alternative to past  PE classes, allowing flexibility with their schedules while choosing amusing classes of their choice. As this idea of required classes has never been implemented among upperclassmen, it has come as a bit of a shock, adding to the important yet stressful priorities of being an upperclassman.