New Teacher Q&A: Dan Sussman

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New MFS English teacher Dan Sussman. Photo from mfriends.org

English teacher Dan Sussman, a new member of the Moorestown Friends School community, has already made himself right at home, and people seem glad to have him. While the transition for new teachers can be tough for some, Sussman has seemingly slipped effortlessly into his new routine, adding his own creative spark to the MFS English Department. WordsWorth sat down with Sussman to find out just what makes him tick.

WordsWorth:  So, how did you end up at MFS exactly? If you don’t mind sharing.

Dan Sussman: So, the last five years I taught at Dwight-Englewood School, which is in North Jersey near New York City, living in New York. We were very happy there. But, we have a [two-year-old] daughter. … My wife and I had never planned on raising a daughter in New York City, [we] just didn’t think it was the family experience we wanted, both culturally and because, well, New York city is an insanely expensive place. It had been in the back of our heads for a couple of years, like, ‘Okay we’ve done this whole New York City thing, time to move on.’ So, I put out some feelers for a bunch of different positions and eventually MFS turned up and I ended up getting offered a job here. It was actually a really complicated and difficult decision for us to kind of abandon New York; my wife had a job there and I was very happy at my old school, but at the same time I had liked what I’d heard about MFS. Eventually we decided to do it, one of the deciding factors being that my wife is from Philadelphia, and her parents still live around here. And for my daughter, that meant having grandparents nearby; we really wanted to keep the family close.

WW:  How has life been at MFS so far? What have you loved? What’s one thing you want to achieve this year?

DS: I’m really happy so far; to be honest, MFS isn’t all that different than my school last year, in a good way. I’m teaching the same types of classes for the most part, excluding honors. I guess there are two feelings that almost contradict each other, because on one hand it’s ‘Huh, this is new and exciting for me,’ but also I’m still a little homesick, more so than I expected, actually. As the year progresses and my family and I settle in more, I’m sure I’ll be all right. As for what I hope to achieve personally, I’d like to explore new possible ways to run and work discussion-based class, find a new structure. Each class is different, so I hope to find that right structure for each class.

WW: How have MFS’s Quaker Values impacted you since your start? Or if they haven’t, do you mind speaking about just how much they differ from your old school?

DS: I was drawn to the idea of working at a Quaker school even before a position opened up here. Because I knew the Philadelphia area, I knew the prevalence of Quaker Schools, and I knew a little bit about the philosophy, [and what] I knew seemed very consistent with my own approach. I came into MFS excited about [Quakerism], and I think, by large, that it has all played out positively. I enjoy meeting for worship; it’s a complicated relationship I guess because it’s all very new to me. We did a lot of meeting for worship simulation with the new faculty, which was of course very different than sitting down with the entire upper school. And part of me does miss the value of those first group experiences, but I’m adjusting to the ways things are done. As for in the classroom and Quakerism, I’ve really connected with the Quaker idea that ‘education needs to be ethical’ and that everyone brings their own unique spin to the classroom and they all need to be respected. Lastly, I’ve found that MFS is more traditional about clothes and rules than my old school so I’ve had to adjust my expectations in that manner, but it’s nothing drastic. Is there part of me that wishes I could come into school everyday in jeans and a flannel shirt and have my students call me Dan? Sure, but the way things are handled here also suits me just fine.

WW: Lastly, did your transition into your new classes go smoothly or has it been a tough process? Is it still going on?

DS: Overall, I’d say the transition has been really smooth. Last year I taught an American Literature class, this year I’m teaching an American Literature class. Last year I designed and taught my first Jewish Literature class, this year I’m teaching Jewish Literature. There are some interesting differences; in the 10th grade English Class, Mrs. Galler teaches the other sections, so we mostly plan in sync and work together. My old school was bigger, and there were just different expectations, so I was mostly just off doing my own thing, but I like what I have going now a lot. For Jewish Literature, last year my class was mostly taken and filled with Jewish kids and there are far less in the class I’m teaching this year, so some of the background I could take for granted last year, I’ve had to go more in-depth into, but it’s been a good experience as a teacher. And for honors, this has been my first time teaching a ‘normal honors class,’ but, really, honors is easier for me as a teacher, as I can almost sit back, not adjust much, and let you guys analyze and discuss among yourselves. Because it’s an honors class, everyone is more willing to share and put forth their ideas. But as I mentioned before, I can really put some of the new discussion techniques into play in the honors class as everyone is open to trying whatever comes their way. It’s kind of my ‘Frankenstein’s monster,’ if that makes sense [Sussman laughs] I’m excited about both second semester classes, but I think poetry especially, because I love poetry. Also, because poetry is something that usually gets very little time devoted to it, I’m excited to spend every day talking about it. I’m also excited that there are going to be students that chose the class because it’s poetry. I’m nervous because I know not everyone will have chosen that class. Poetry is very unique and I think for some high school students it’s either love or hate and there’s going to be some kids that get stuck talking about it every day, but I trust it’s going to be okay.

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Keeping the Faith Checking in with MFS’s New Quaker Leadership

New Head of the Religion Department Dan Christy Randazzo. Photo from mfriends.org.
New Head of the Religion Department Dan Christy Randazzo. Photo from friends.org.

Nearly every year, at least one teacher retires or moves away, leaving a hole in the MFS community; last year, when Priscilla Taylor-Williams left, everyone knew her absence would be felt. But in the 2016-2017 school year, the gap has been filled by new Chester Reagan Chair Dan Christy Randazzo.

Randazzo graduated college around 16 years ago, and decided to go into youth ministry, where he worked for seven years. Deciding to go back to work instead of finishing his graduate studies, Randazzo recognized his love for teaching, and worked as a graduate and undergraduate teacher in Baltimore. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to engage with students, and learn from them…the process of seeing students uncover new information, the burst of curiosity, it’s an amazing thing,” Randazzo told WordsWorth. In his career, Randazzo has taught numerous age groups; “[From teaching] 2 year olds up to 80 year olds, every time I have some sort of electric charge.” Intrigued by the fact that MFS is a Quaker school, and by the amount of energy devoted to religious programs here, Randazzo decided to come work at MFS. “As a Quaker, I really appreciate what Quaker schools are about,” said Randazzo.

Randazzo is not only a new teacher joining the MFS community, but also the new head of the Religion Department, replacing PTW in that role. After transitioning into the roles in September, Randazzo recognized his biggest challenge thus far; “The 6 day cycle is incredibly difficult,” he said. “I’ve gotten the handle of it but it’s a definite cultural twist and shock.”

As a religion teacher, Randazzo instructs all 7th and 8th grade religion classes, one section of 9th grade Quakerism, both Junior World Religion sections, and co-teaches Peer Leadership. Rather than feel overwhelmed by his numerous responsibilities, Randazzo has taken his work into perspective: “I think that it has provided me an invaluable opportunity to learn about MFS from the inside out,” said Randazzo. “I think that I’ve had to learn a significant amount of stuff in a short amount of time in order to be effective at this job…This job has taken the learning curve and jacked right up.”

In addition, as Department Head, Randazzo acts as the advisor to three clubs: Agenda, Service Committee, and the Worship Planning Committee. “I appreciate how welcoming the students have been,” Randazzo said about club members. “They’ve been very kind, and have opened up space for me to learn about the club and the history of it.” Finding these clubs as a less formal way to interact with students in the MFS community, Randazzo recognizes it as a valuable opportunity to learn more about MFS. Randazzo told WordsWorth, “It’s a wonderful aspect of this position, that there are so many opportunities to engage and make an impact on student life.”

As for the MFS community, Randazzo recognized the importance of MFS traditions, such as Spirit Week, and he has enjoyed spending time learning about them. “You all have some long-standing, significant traditions here,” Randazzo stated.

Randazzo is also enjoying MFS lunch. “I actually look forward to it,” Randazzo said of lunchtime. Appreciating the fact that he does not have to cook lunch everyday, Randazzo commented on the food, “It’s not only healthy but actually tasty.”

As for his time outside of MFS, Randazzo enjoys hiking and backpacking. He tries to hike somewhere new at least once or twice a month, and generally walks at least five miles a day. “[I enjoy] just sort of getting out and taking the opportunity of being quiet in the present world,” Randazzo said of his walking. He also enjoys watching Longmire on Netflix. His favorite book series (besides the Quaker Faith and Practice, of course) is Aubrey-Maturin by Patrick O’Brian, a historical fiction series set in the Napoleonic Wars. Randazzo owns a 12-year old black lab-pointer-mix named Mani.

Though past teachers like PTW will never be forgotten, new faces such as Randazzo continue to positively add to the MFS community.

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What’s Our Status? MFS Students and Alumni React Online to 2016 Election

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In the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election, just one week ago, many MFS students and alumni took to social media to vent their feelings, both positive and negative, about the outcome. Below are just a few examples of Facebook posts from former or current members of the MFS community that the WordsWorth staff found to be especially illuminating.

Alex Horn, Senior, Class of 2017 (posted November 9)

I’d like to remind everyone posting “If you voted for Trump, unfriend me and never talk to me again” on their walls of the following:

Half the country voted for Trump. Your friends, your family, your colleagues, your classmates, and your neighbors voted for Trump. People of all backgrounds, races, genders, socioeconomic statuses, and orientations voted for Trump. The guy who pumps your gas—the girl who pours your coffee—the old, widower veteran down the street—all of these people voted for Trump.

And guess what? All of these same kinds of people voted for Hillary, too: there are a lot of people in this country, a lot of voters, and they all made their own decision, as is their right.

If you think Trump voters have lost your friendship, that is your prerogative. However poorly it speaks to your tolerance, your grace, and your understanding, it is your right. But no matter what, do not let this election stop you from granting others your respect: that type of villainization plays into the very worst instincts of the human soul, and I beg you not to give in. How can anyone claim to believe in equality, and then dismiss half the country as beneath them?

I voted for Governor Gary Johnson. I am proud of that vote, and rightly so. Many of my friends and family—people I love and admire—voted for Secretary Hillary Clinton. They are proud of their votes, and rightly so. And many of my friends and family—people I love and admire—also voted for President-elect Donald Trump. They are proud of their votes, and rightly so.

Everyone had a reason for casting the vote that they did, and most of those reasons were the same reason: they picked the candidate who, to paraphrase the Declaration of Independence, seemed most likely to bring about the safety and happiness of themselves, the people they hold dear, and the country as a whole.

To my liberal friends, who I cherish and hope not to lose over this: If you find President-elect Trump rude and improper, make those views known. If you find President-elect Trump’s policies backwards and counterproductive, oppose them at every turn. If you fear for the safety and wellbeing of your countrymen and yourselves, stand strong together and fight for what you believe.

But do not, for the love of all that we hold dear, mistake politics for morality and a vote for a character. Good people voted for Trump. Good people voted for Hillary. Good people voted third-party, and good people stayed home. The election is over: until next time, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that these good people are friends, are family, are Americans: and that regardless of who lives in the White House, we will all stand together.

David Golden, Alumni, Class of 2015 (posted November 9)

Progress is not inevitable in this country. We have to fight for it at every opportunity. After the Civil War, Reconstruction didn’t end, it was killed by white racism. What is inevitable is backlash to the progress we do make. We must maintain our fight in the face of it always.

Noah Borromeo, Senior, Class of 2017 (posted November 9)

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Mariana Goldlust, Sophomore, Class of 2019 (posted November 10)

This week, or rather, the election itself has revealed the true passion that Americans have for the overall wellbeing of our nation and its inhabitants. It has shown how each and every one of us has often complex views, that may or may not correspond with the views of those that in which we associate.

Undoubtedly, I do not support Trump and the values that he possesses and attempts to instill on the people of our country. Like many others, learning the news of his elect was both blindsiding and terrifying for me. In a day and age of progression, his presidency makes me feel as though we are being shoved backwards in history.

However, citizens of the United States carry the birthright to express their notions, freely. Everyone has the prerogative to vote for whom they choose, just like they have the right to practice the religion that in which they believe. Coinciding with this principle, individuals have freedom of expression. When someone is unhappy with a situation, they should not be afraid to speak their mind.

So, yes, the election has concluded. Yes, we now hold the knowledge of who will be leading our nation, shortly. And yes, millions, including myself, are dissatisfied with the final product.

Yet, opposed to viewing this “Season Finale” as a complete dead end, it is vital that we maintain the relationships that we have created thus far. The constitution reminds us that the United States is defined by the people. We, the people must continue to spread kindness, love, and ultimately, peace on Earth, even at a time of utter division.

Austin Harris, Alumni, Class of 2013 (posted November 10)

One thing I truly can’t stand is people policing the reactions of others to this election. Especially when the people doing the policing were never on the receiving end of Donald Trump’s vitriol. Freedom of speech is one of the founding tenets of this country (you keep reminding us), so I’m going to react however I want, just like you did when Obama was elected. The difference is that Obama never tried to ban an entire religious group from entering the country, and Joe Biden never supported using electric shocks to make gay kids straight.

Alex Ouinjan, Alumni, Class of 2015 (posted November 12)

Honestly since this trump victory I’ve seen so many people from across races make an effort to come together and show that we are united. I’m really happy about that.

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Head of School Larry Van Meter Announces Retirement

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Moorestown Friends Head of School Larry Van Meter announced his retirement at the end of next year at a meeting with Juniors and Seniors this morning, preceding an email blast that went out to the school community at the end of the day.
“I am writing to share our deep appreciation to Larry Van Meter for his 16 years of service as Head of School, and to accept his notice of retirement effective June 30, 2018” wrote School Committee Clerk Nick Smith in the email.

The quickly organized meeting was scheduled in an email with Juniors and Seniors on Sunday evening. They met second period in the auditorium, where Van Meter made the announcement. He explained that he wanted to let them know that they will be the last classes he will be handing diplomas to.

The faculty and staff were not informed prior to the student meeting. Dean of Students Mike Brunswick, who came into the position the same year Van Meter became Head of School, could not speculate on why that decision was made.

“You know…coaches when they step down…they tell their team first, and since this is the group that would be the last two groups that he’ll be doing graduation for…maybe that [played a factor],” Brunswick commented.

Van Meter, who graduated in MFS Class of 1968, has been instrumental in change at MFS. He oversaw the new coding program for preschool through fifth grade, the introduction of the Mandarin Chinese program, and the addition of Hartman Hall, among a long list of others.

While no replacement has been named, a head search committee has been created. The committee consists of “trustees, faculty, alumni, current and past parents, and Quakers.” It is co-clerked by Barbara Caldwell, retired associate head of school, and Smith.

“There’s much still to do over the next 19 months,” Van Meter writes. He continued that he is still focused on “achieving important goals for the school.”

WordsWorth wishes Mr. Van Meter a congratulations on his retirement.

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From Moorestown to the Big Screen MFS Runs Commercials on TV

Imagine A Place (30 sec spot) from Moorestown Friends School on Vimeo.

With the new schedule, new Advisory programs and new core curriculum classes, it is clear that the 2016-17 school year is a period of immense change for students and staff alike. The new project the MFS Communications team has been developing is no exception to this trend of change.

Don’t be alarmed when you’re scrolling through TV channels and you spot the all-too-familiar Moorestown Friends signature cupola – with the help of the Moorestown-bred design company, Hypno Design, and representatives of Comcast, the communications team at Moorestown Friends has recently decided to release two commercials. Soon to be broadcasted on Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, TLC and Lifetime, these 15- and 30-second commercials will market the school in a more accessible manner than ever before.

One purpose of the commercial is to right misconceptions viewers may have about the accessibility of Moorestown Friends. When questioned about the decision to broadcast commercials marketing the school, Mike Schlotterbeck, MFS Director of Marketing & Communications, stated, “The main purpose is to market the school, but more specifically get word out that we’re more than a high school – we also offer a great education for students in K-12.” He also offered future insight into how this series of commercials may develop, noting, “We may change our campaign in order to highlight some specific MFS programs, including the coding program.”

While seeing familiar faces on the big screen isn’t usually something most of us are used to, avid television watchers in the MFS community may eventually become accustomed to watching as friends and teachers’ faces are displayed across their home television screen. And if the commercials yield success, the entirety of the MFS community will be presented with new faces as the next year rolls around and enrollment increases throughout all grades. 

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From The Primary to Election Day A Look Back at MFS’s Mock Primary Election

The full cast of students representing candidates for both parties in the 2016 MPE.  MFS History Teacher Judy Van Tijn, who ran MPE, is center. Photo credit to mfriends.org

If you listen really closely, you can almost hear the first few notes of “Hail to the Chief”. With the 2016 Presidential Election less than 24 hours away, WordsWorth is taking a look back at last year’s Mock Primary Election (MPE).

In the 2015 MFS Mock Primary, the school’s 15th, the MFS community elected Donald Trump, portrayed by then-junior Nick Tursi, as the Republican nominee, and Bernie Sanders, portrayed by then-junior John Barton, as the Democratic nominee. While the student body correctly predicted Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican primary, they did not anticipate Hillary Clinton’s victory over Sanders on the Democratic side. Senior Rachael Whitley, who portrayed Hillary Clinton during last year’s MPE sat down with WordsWorth to discuss the impending election.

Whitley stated that she would “watch the footage of how Clinton is responding to the WikiLeaks” when asked about how she would defend the claims made of sending and deleting emails. Whitley also informed WordsWorth that she supported Clinton regardless of the fact that she had portrayed her, but noted that the process of portraying her allower her to more precisely understand her views.  

Just like in real life, Donald Trump won MFS’s Republican Primary, thanks in no small part to Nick Tursi’s bombastic, well-articulated portrayal. he won the MFS Nick Tursi, the senior who portrayed him. Tursi criticized much of Trump’s handling of the general election campaign, explaining how he would have done things if he had still been portraying the candidate. Specifically, Tursi explained that he would “criticize ‘Crooked Hillary’ more and keep sharing ways on how his campaign is better for the country and make sure everyone know they are electing not just the first woman but also the first criminal as their president.”   

Tursi also described the experience of being Trump as a “blast [which] enabled him to expand his horizons on Trumps views and policies”.  Tursi chose not to disclose who he is supporting in the upcoming election, but when asked which candidate he would choose to portray if he could go back and do it over, he said “Trump 100%” without hesitation.

In 2008, MFS correctly predicted the results of the general election, when Barack Obama, who had won the Democratic MPE, won the General Election. With the election so close, students will soon know whether Donald Trump will continue that streak, or whether Hillary Clinton will pull out the win. With partisanship around every corner, only one thing is sure: if either Whitley or Tursi ever decide to run for President themselves, they have WordsWorth’s endorsement.

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MFS Seniors at the Polls: Some First Times During a Year of Last Times

Photo credit Theresa Thompson on Twitter 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/theresasthompson/

While senior year is filled with nostalgic “last” experiences, it is also filled with brand new experiences; this year, numerous MFS seniors will vote in their first Presidential Election. While only a few seniors turned 18 years-old in time for the election, and even fewer registered to vote by the required deadline, these MFS students will make their mark on the United States by voting tomorrow for a Presidential candidate.

Senior John Barton both registered to vote and will be voting on Tuesday. “I think it’s important to have your opinion heard … [I think that] you owe it to other people to have an influence on the government,” said Barton. Out of the political issues in discussion this year, economic inequality is most important to Barton.

Leo Rivera will also be voting on Tuesday; “Yes I intend to vote this year because I feel that this election especially, it’s quite, let’s just say it will impact my future greatly, my future and the future of my friends,” said Rivera. He’s watched the Presidential debates as a way to inform his decision for the upcoming election. Rivera told WordsWorth, “Following the debates is just, it’s analyzing how these people approach situations.” In addition, Rivera has paid attention to political issues he is concerned with, such as LGBTQ+ rights. However, he hasn’t heard any discussion on another important topic. “I’ve also been listening for Black Lives Matter, however that hasn’t come up at all,” Rivera said.

Senior Brad Geyer also plans to vote, saying simply, “Because this election is important.” As for the craziness surrounding the election, Geyer said, “I don’t really care.” When listening in on political issues, Geyer focused on the economy.

After voting in his first Republican primary, Alex Horn will vote in his first Presidential election. “I registered as a Republican when I got my driver’s license, and I voted after Trump had already won the nomination. He’d already had enough votes, but I voted for John Kasich, kind of as a protest vote I guess,” Horn told WordsWorth, regarding the primary.

In response to the craziness of this election, Horn said simply, “I think it’s hyped up because of media, because if you look historically there have been previous elections with a lot of mudslinging, back and forth … so I don’t think it’s anything new.” When picking a candidate, Horn also stressed that the President does not have as much power as a lot of people might imagine, and therefore may not have the power to act upon certain campaign promises; “For example, if you’re thinking about voting for Donald Trump, he might say he wants to build a wall, but whether or not he can actually do that, that’s something you have to bear in mind … that just because a candidate says something doesn’t mean it’ll happen,” Horn said. Overall, he pointed out that “you have to weigh reality with campaign promises.”

As for those of eligible age to vote, some MFS students did not register in order to vote in the Presidential election. Amanda Kezbari, though meeting the age requirements, did not register in time; “I forgot until it was on the news that it was the last day to register,” said Kezbari, “I’m not really into politics.” As for the election, Kezbari can’t wait for it to be over. “The commercials annoy me,” she said.

In addition, senior Lauren Buck consciously chose not to register. “I don’t know what’s going on, not that I don’t follow it,” Buck said, “but there’s so much inconsistency of the candidates that are running, all the articles and commercials lead you different ways.” Concerned with the legitimacy and differences between sources, Buck chose to recuse herself from voting.

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New Year, New Block MFS Advisor Program is Revamped

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The new school year is always exciting: filled with new schedules, new classes, and old friends. But this year, something even newer is afoot in the Upper School schedule: a brand new advisor period.

Previously, the advisor time was not a block in the schedule, but rather a 20 minute break every A, C, D and F day. Though it benefited many students to have a short break to talk to other teachers, finish any last-minute studying, socialize, and eat a quick snack,  MFS faculty felt that something was missing. They decided to alter the program, replacing four 20-minute advisories a rotation with one forty-minute advisory once a rotation. The new advisor period is scheduled every D-Day from 12:14 – 12:57. Despite the fact that we have only been able to experience this new advisor period a few times this year, the new addition seems to have students voicing a myriad of reactions and opinions.

Ms. MacKenzie had high expectations for this new program. “Most important to me, is for advisors and advisees to spend more meaningful time with each other,” MacKenzie said. She wanted students and their advisors to be able to connect and bond with each other, and strongly believed that the added 20 minutes will allow for that. While the longer period means less meeting times, it also welcomed “First Period Prep.” “We see each other less frequently, but it’s more meaningful time together. And the First Period Prep block allows students to get extra help, make up quizzes and tests, and talk with other teachers,” MacKenzie told WordsWorth.

Though many advisors are pleased with the possibilities and benefits that this program can bring, student responses have been more mixed. Junior Ally Maier was quick to point out her doubts about the block. “It may solve one issue, but it creates more issues,” she said. “We’re kept out of the loop because not meeting your advisor more than once can cause you not to get informed about important things.” Janasia Copling, a senior this year, agreed with Ally, saying, “I liked the consistency of seeing your advisor and advisees more that once a rotation.” Senior Spencer Dennis added in agreement, “I don’t like the 40 minute block because I can’t get to know and spend more time with the advisees.”

However, many students also recognized the period’s benefits; namely, more time to study, complete homework, make up assessments, talk with teachers, and work with classmates on projects. Junior Han Nguyen expressed her liking toward the longer period, saying, “I prefer the 40-minute block because I need time to do work and see teachers.” Maier seconded that opinion; “We can definitely get more done in this block.”

Overall, the new program has produced mixed opinions from students as to whether the revised program is beneficial or not.

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Field House Gym Gets A New Coat of Pain

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New years come with new things: new students, new teachers, new schedules—even, as many of us have seen, new bathrooms. But 2016-2017 did us all one better: there’s a new gym in town and it looks good.  

The Field House Gym (FHG) had not been refurbished for many years, and with the other ongoing refurbishments, this year was a perfect time to make sure the gym stayed up to date.  Danielle Dayton, head of the Athletic Department, explains that the newly revamped FHG was redesigned to bring “more school life, our new foxes logo, and the representation of our league.”

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 The new foxes logo, less than ten years old, is now the official sign of all MFS athletics, and as such is proudly on display in the gym.  Surrounding the gym are banners representing each of the other schools in the Friends League, displaying both the Foxes’ competitive spirit and our sportsmanship towards our opponents.  

However, while the new gym has been warmly received by the student body as a whole, many athletes were disappointed that the resources spent to redo it had not been allocated elsewhere.  While the new gym is great for indoor sports like basketball, outdoor athletes for sports like lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer, expressed dismay that the Athletic Department had not decided to get new turf fields, as many schools now have. Ewan Larkin, senior on the Foxes’ soccer team, agrees with the disappointment: “Almost every other school in the Friends League has a turf field.  Our field is hard to play on with chops in the ground causing the ball to fly in different directions.  Also, being able to play in the rain on turf would be very helpful.”  Larkin is one of many soccer players who has concerns with the grass field.  He also added that one day he hopes to come back to MFS and see turf fields.

 Dayton addressed these concerns by saying, “We have seven beautiful fields that our maintenance department works very hard on and they are in great shape: the grass is beautiful and the fields are lined well.  We feel like we are fortunate to have five soccer fields and two field hockey fields in the fall and two baseball fields and  four lacrosse fields in the spring.”  Additionally, while the FHG was relatively inexpensive to redo, with the school only having to recoat the court, put in new wood planks for the logo, and paint the walls, a turf field would require much more significant investment. And while the FHG was old, the grass fields are still top-of-the-line.

There still may be room for improvement, but it is clear that the Foxes’ athletic facilities are improving one step at a time. Many athletes eagerly await the day when they can play on turf fields, but will their dreams be granted? Only time will tell.

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Lost Time Schedule Changes Lead To Late Students

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Everyone has noticed. It has been impossible not to. School starts earlier, but ends at the same time. There is an intriguing ten minute break after third period, but no double block before lunch. And for students, perhaps the most pressing of all: some periods have no passing time between them, leading students to be late to their classes. Love them or hate them, one thing is certain: these changes are here, and they may be here to stay.

Ever since the first bell rang on the first day of school—at 8:00 A.M., no less— students have been asking themselves one question: why were these changes made? Is it because of some cosmic shift in the universe? Or perhaps the stars have aligned to create such a catastrophe? And of course, the most important question: How will we get to Hartman Hall on time?  

WordsWorth sat down with Head of Scheduling Michael Omilian in order to get the answers to these pressing questions.

Tackling the questions one-by-one, Omilian explained that the main reason for removing the passing time was to make room for both the new break period and the hour-long block. According to him, when adding in the break period and the extra-lengthy class to the schedule, he noticed that due to the passing time, there were about twelve extra minutes to the school day. In order to accommodate this change, the passing time was removed between certain periods.

But why remove the passing time between sixth and seventh period, as opposed to any other break? As it turns out, this time was not randomly selected. During seventh period, most classes are either electives or advisor — in fact, only one day out of the seven does any high school student have a major class during seventh period. By taking the extra minutes out during that block, Omilian ensured that major courses did not lose any class time. Also, this period serves as Middle School lunch; according to Omilian, it is only fair that if the Upper School loses passing time for lunch, the Middle School should, too.

While all the changes clearly had thought-out logic behind them, many students are still reacting negatively against them. There has been much disgruntled complaining from the student body, mostly concerning being late to their minor classes. Senior Janasia Copling expressed her wishes for the new break period to be split up and distributed throughout the day in the form of passing time, rather than a ten minute extension. Ian Millstein had a statement about how the changes affected science. “For sciences, we normally had a lab at the double block, now we have to do labs at home.” Mattie Sloan had an even more radical view, saying that the new schedule change is “ridiculous.”

New MFS teachers do not seem to be bothered by this lack of passing time; science teacher John Winter, who came to MFS this year from Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, noticed that while old teachers occasionally grumbled in meetings about students being late to classes due to the lost passing time, he had never known the schedule to be any different, so it did not concern him. Other teachers have shared the view that even though they have noticed the changes, it did not affect them that much. When asked, science teacher Andrea Robinson stated that “Students get to first period without a warning bell, so they should be able to manage their time and make it to the period after lunch.” English teacher Katie Stutz also agreed with this opinion, saying, “It hasn’t affected me that much. I think teachers are on board with letting students out four minutes early.” However, there has also been some strong dissent among the teacher population, particularly concerning minor teachers. Nicole Edmund has stated that the changes particularly affect the minors, which she primarily teaches.

However, Omilian, one of MFS’s longest-serving teachers, has shed some light on something interesting. Apparently, there was a ten-year period, from 1996 to 2006, where there was no passing time at all; clearly, what is new is old, and what is old is new.

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