The Hawk's Eye

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A Look Into the Stoconomics and Microfinance Club

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Microfinance

This year over 45 returning and new clubs will run throughout the school year, which is one of the highest numbers of clubs the School has ever seen. Ranging from community service clubs like SOS Head Royce and a rapping club like Zen, this year’s clubs are quite diverse. This year there seems to be an elevated interest in clubs that focus on economical and financial issues around the world. Specifically, the returning Microfinance club and the new Stoconomics club are at the head of thisspike in interest.

Led by Seniors Glenn VanWinkle and Stuart Suplick, this year’s Microfinance club is returning once again as one of the School’s most prominent clubs. “The microfinance club sounds fancy and advanced,” said Suplick, “but our primary mission is simple: to raise money for microloans.” These microloans benefit entrepreneurs around the world in poor countries that may not have access to many necessary resources.

“These entrepreneurs have great business ideas,” stated VanWinkle, “but lack the capital to put their idea into practice. We try to give them that opportunity.” The club was originally started in 2009, and since then has changed from the lending platform known as Wokai to a platform called Kiva. Using Kiva allows the club to reach a greater number of people, in a range of countries, including Asian, African, and European countries.

After having a very successful turnout in last year’s coin drive, the club is starting with over $1,000 in their account. A good number of freshmen also showed significant interest in the club, which is a good sign for the future of the club. Similar to the Microfinance club is the new Stoconomics club.

Led by Sophomores Samit Lamba and Anish Mokha, along with Senior Ryan Kim, the Stoconomics club takes a different view on economics. “Our club promotes an informal discussion place where we will talk about current economic issues and learn basic economics.” said Lamba. With an emphasis on learning essential economic skills and stock investing strategies, the club focuses more on the technical aspect of economics.

Unlike the Microfinance club, Stoconomics has set a goal for its members to master the basics of economics and apply those skills by in investing in real stocks and entering in investing competitions. Discussions will be an integral part of the club where various guest speakers may be invited in to give talks about investment strategies.

Though the Stoconomics club is new this year, it still seems to have a promising future. When asked if the Stoconomics club would be willing to collaborate with the Microfinance club in School wide activities, Lamba replied “It would be great to receive help from a club like Microfinance that has experience and the tips to guide our club in the right direction.”

Though the School year has just kicked off, these two economic clubs are enthusiastic about each club’s potential for success. With so many great clubs this year, everybody is eager to see all of them in action and how they will help the School.

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New Prom Chairs

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The School year has just started, and although May feels far away, Prom Chairs Giovanni Ramirez and Gianni Zografos are busy trying to plan a fabulous prom. Ramirez described the plans so far: “We have a theme, Asian Casino from Skyfall. We have a company that will set up a casino-like area. We are just trying to find a venue that will fit our theme.”

Every year, the prom chairs have the challenge of raising money in order to make prom tickets affordable. Zografos stated, “We’re are planning on doing bake sales, [including] specialized sales, like samosa sales…and [foods] that are not just standard bake sale [goods].” Ramirez added, “We might sell drinks and ice cream at the Walk a Thon. At the Halloween Fair, we might plan a dance afterwards [to raise money].”

Even though planning prom is a challenging task, Zografos and Ramirez really like being prom chairs. Ramirez stated, “It’s a lot of work, but yeah, it’s enjoyable.” Zografos stated, “It’s fun looking for directions, venues, and themes.”

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Colla Voce to go on Annual Retreat

Colla+Voce+teacher+Bob+Wells+poses+with+the+2011-2012+choir+on+their+trip+to+South+Africa.+
Colla Voce teacher Bob Wells poses with the 2011-2012 choir on their trip to South Africa.

Colla Voce teacher Bob Wells poses with the 2011-2012 choir on their trip to South Africa.

Colla Voce teacher Bob Wells poses with the 2011-2012 choir on their trip to South Africa.

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Colla Voce is attending their annual three-day workshop at the Choral Institute along with about five other schools in the area. This workshop will be held in Occidental, California from September 20th to the 22nd. Bob Wells, the director of Colla Voce, will be taking the kids down to Occidental, near Bodega Bay, which is about an hour and half journey. They will be singing with some of the elite schools from the area including: the San Francisco School of the Arts, Piedmont Choir, and the Acalanes Choir. Their big piece will be, “Francesco Durante’s, Magnificant. It is a setting of a Latin text, it’s about 15-20 minute work” Wells said. The workshop contains about 150 students who will work together with the directors, and receive constructive criticism on their performance as a whole. They will also be singing with a professional choir in San Francisco called Volti. These professional singers will work with the school choirs to help them perfect their singing as well learn their music. This trip is also a way for the new group to build chemistry and bond as a choir. The students will sleep in cabins, have campfires, and do bonding activities with all of the high schools as well as the individual choirs. This specific workshop is not meant to be a competition. It is meant to be a learning experience for Colla Voce to help them improve their repertoire.

A typical day consists of waking up fairly early, eating breakfast as individual schools, and then rehearsing their set in between breakfast and lunch. After lunch the individual choirs do different workshops and activities before dinner. There will be a school campfire at the end of the day. Sunday morning, the parents come to pick up their kids and the choir performs for them at 11:00am. Then they go home and arrive back at school at around 2pm.

Photo Credit: http://southafricatrip.headroyce.org/

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New School Portal

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The start of a new school year means new beginnings, even for the School’s student portal. Over the course of the summer, the portal’s operating system, Final Site, underwent advantageous upgrades creating a more user friendly platform for both students and teachers. Ray Louie, Chair of the Technology Department said, “One of the winning features is that… all of the different classes show up in one calendar… It will help in terms of students organizing when to study for what. It will also help teachers to see what type of assignments kids have. We always run into the problem of too many tests in one week, or too many large assignments in one week, and this will help teachers communicate with each other to see what’s going on.”

This upgraded portal not only allows for better communication, but it also has a sleeker and more high-tech appearance. Some of the more obvious improvements to the existing software added a more visually pleasing aesthetic.  For example, class pages became better looking with color coding, and backgrounds resembling different kinds of paper. Students’ Math classes may have a graph paper background, while their English classes may have a nice papyrus touch, making it easier to distinguish which class section is where.

Sophomore Lexi Gentry shared her favorite part about the portal: “I like that it is super organized. I also find it very helpful that when I click on an assignment, I can read a mini description about it.” Many students would agree that the layout is neater, and easier for students to follow without confusion. Sophomore, Nick Tubach, said, “It’s easier to find links to various things. You also don’t have to scour the website to find the necessary tabs for classes and assignments.” Along with easier navigation comes, arguably the best improvement, the new “Activity Stream.” Similar to a newsfeed on Instagram or Facebook, this new feature allows students to stay updated on all of their courses just by looking at one window on their computer.

Because technology has advanced so quickly, schools are finding new ways to enrich classes by utilising it. For example, the upgraded portal allows for more group discussions outside of class’ often restricting time limits. Students are now able to more easily communicate and continue class discussions with a forum-like feature where they may converse over topics relevant to their courses, responding to each other and their teachers. As Louie said, “Teachers can now more easily activate a blog, or activate a discussion group. So all of the kids in the same class can participate in that…I think what students will see as the biggest difference, is that all of their teachers will be using the same software. You’ll still have teachers with their own personal websites that they’ve developed, but most of them are slowly moving more and more resources over to the portal.” The new portal not only allows students to have easier access to more consolidated, organized information, but it also shows how lucky students are with the very up-to-date nature of the School. This new technological development is not the first, and surely not the last.

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School Participates in Week of Silence

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Mina Huh

The School’s Gay Straight Diversity Club (GSD) organized events for the week of April 15th to recognize the Day of Silence on April 19, Friday. The GSD members made posters to educate the School community about the LGBTQ community, defining terms and asking questions to get the students and faculty thinking in preparation of the week ahead. The Week of Silence started with an announcement at Morning Meeting about the upcoming events and activities. On Monday, Bob Parlin from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) came to the School to talk with the students during lunchtime. On Tuesday, the GSD Club had a table set up for teachers to pick up an Ally Poster and write an Ally Statement. The Ally Statement, a short paragraph explaining why and how one is an ally, was on the posters. The intent of this new poster system is to show how the teachers will make their class a safe place. Finally, during the Assembly on Friday, Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case and listeners to the Supreme Court hearings of it and the DOMA, talked about Marriage rights. GSD also handed out Day of Silence stickers and sold pins for one dollar. Freshmen GSD member Kevin Feng gave his thoughts on how the week went: “I thought that the week went well, and it was really great seeing some people look at the signs we put up around the campus and learning from it.”

Link to Photo:http://www.gastongazette.com/polopoly_fs/1.121432.1365024581!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_445/gay-straight-alliance.jpg

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Laptop Carts: A Danger to Us All?

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Laura Cook

The week before spring break, a computer cart began to smoke and smell. Math Teacher Warren Fernandes described, “I was wondering, ‘what is that smell?’ [It] smelled like something was burning. It was that strong. People thought there was something in chemistry going on, but it turns out the it was the cart.”

The third floor computer cart is usually stored in Fernandes’ classroom. Fernandes described, “I was not aware it happened. It did not happen in my room. Someone pulled the cart [that] was already [plugged] into the wall, and [the plug] just yanked out. Inside the computer cart, whatever happened, when they pulled it, it smoked.”

While Fernandes is not sure to the degree of the damage, the spark could have been more serious than many of the students realized. Fernandes stated, “This was serious. Mr. Louie was quite upset. Someone could have been hurt, [even] electrocuted. That’s serious enough. At this point, it goes beyond damage to the cart. It goes to safety of the students and the teachers or the staff.”

Many students are wondering if they will be allowed to the use the computer carts or if they will be completely off limits. Technology Chair Ray Louie informed, “No consequences … No new rules. Teachers have always had the responsibility over the carts. They are asked to carefully unplug and roll the carts. Students should never be asked to move the carts.”

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School Trip to Peru Cancelled

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Mary Kate Engstrom

The School’s trip to Peru was cancelled because of a potential threat on American tourists in Cusco on Friday, February 15, the day before the trip was set to leave.

On February 13th, the U.S. Embassy issued a warning “of a potential kidnapping threat in the Cusco Area,” according to an embassy memo. After much consultation between the trip leaders, school administration, and the board of trustees, an executive decision was made to cancel the trip. “How could I send somebody else’s child into that situation and not be able to guarantee their safety?” said Head of Upper School Carl Thiermann.

This morning, emails were sent to the 21 students going on the trip and their parents notifying them of the trip’s cancellation. While the students were upset about the cancellation, many understood the decision. “I think everyone’s really disappointed that the trip’s been cancelled,” said Senior Claire Binder, “but at the same time, I perfectly understand the school’s concern regarding safety.”

Spanish Teacher Luz Diaz has been planning the trip since the beginning of the school year, and like many of the students who were signed up, is upset that they can no longer go. “This is life. Sometimes you can’t control it.”

Whether the trip is officially cancelled or if it will be postponed to a later date has yet to be determined. “We’re just trying to be responsible—take care of our students,” said Assistant Head of School Crystal Land.

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Sports Teams Change Method of Transporation

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 Joey Chipman

The School’s sports teams are beginning a new system of transportation this year: taking buses instead of vans. Athletic Director and Varsity Men’s Basketball Coach Brendan Blakeley explained that bus travel solves many problems that teams have faced in past years and seasons: “Using buses takes the pressure of driving off of coaches, reduces the number of vans we have to maintain and pay for, and is more environmentally friendly.”

Nevertheless, bus travel confronts players with various disadvantages. Senior Basketball Captain Scott Miller criticized the new system, stating, “I can’t imagine having to cram into a tiny school bus with the entire JV team. I won’t be able to get comfortable and take naps like I did in the vans.” Additionally, varsity players will have to leave earlier than usual for away games, and JV players will have to remain at away gyms later than before, through the end of the varsity game. “Students will have to take books with them, so that when they’re not playing they will be able to do homework before or after their games,” said Blakeley.

The bus system will undoubtedly be well-received by coaches, as it frees them from the burden of driving and maintaining the vans’ condition. It is a point of disgruntlement, however, for many JV and Varsity athletes.

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