Tag Archives: Student Newspaper

How many clubs is too many clubs?

2016-09-05-77

by Eden McEwen ‘17

Who remembers club fair? The throngs of underclassmen and overeager club leaders put on the show of a festival, offering everything from mini donuts to fun sized candies to samosas as not so subtle bribes for student emails and half hearted pledges of  interest. The Fitness and Athletic Center last September was stuffed with dreamy promises of a club filled future. What happened to those promises?

The first weeks of a club are glorious. As a long time club leader I can tell you 30+ people at a meeting feels like an early Christmas. But by Christmas, the email lists or Outlook group members dwindle from plenty to enough to depressing. That is just the number of those willing to receive the weekly emails, never mind who actually bothers to show up.

Why does every club season have such a drop off? And why, every fall, do two dozen clubs pop back up just to die before November? It seems that we have too many clubs and too few club survivors. The culture of clubs at George School follows a steep wave of interest, but there must be a secret to those who survive the winter.

The long lasting clubs are easy to name. Argo, JSA, MUN, Body Project, UMOJA, Open Doors, Goldfish, and Java. They fulfill the basic needs of club culture, hitting on the basic interests of George School students. Other clubs have been born and died all the while, or existed as a “why not” instead of a “must have.” They are harder to name, as they come up only as we laugh at the yearbook page in May. Anyone remember PRO, or maybe Puzzle club? Terra, Beatbox Club, Medical club, or Young Writers? They have come and gone, but existed for the hot second long enough to be featured in an decently size club photo taken in late October.

If you look at any population graph, there is always a carrying capacity, an asymptote that represents the line the population will always return to when it crosses over. Let us break it down. Let us talk rabbits.

Spring sees a huge spike in the cotton-tailed population, but the environment they are in can’t sustain such rapid growth. There are only so many holes to live in and so much grass to eat, and with the introduction of predators the population is forced back to a stable carrying capacity.

Clubs can be seen to operate the same way. There are only so many places we can comfortably congregate in, only so many days of the week, only so many times.

We only have four days in our club-week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday  (Friday only sometimes, for those leaders who are daring and believe in their club members’ loyalty). There is only a limited number of meeting places, too. For large clubs, a classroom does not cut it, and there are not many community spaces focused enough for the agenda of a club.

But what kills off clubs the fastest are the predators. Sports games, night classes, and the relentless struggles of stressed-out, overloaded students kill club attendance like the plague. No one is going to tell their teacher they could not study because they had to go to Badminton Club; no coach is going to take Wednesday night Improv as an excuse out of a varsity tournament.

So what happens to the club community? Is it possible that the number of clubs George school allows shoots the clubs themselves in the foot, stretching the student body too thin to keep any one of them alive?

There have been attempts to curb the club population. A few years ago, Student Council had proposals up for different kinds of clubs, downgrading some to interest groups and raising the prestige of others. There was outrage, there was apathy, and ultimately the plan fell through. As of now, with all of the things George School demands of students, club participation is the first sacrifice.

Our club population will forever fluctuate, you can tell by looking through past yearbooks. Take a look at the Club Fair week one, and then at the Community News postings by the last month of the year, and you can see the decimation. Is there a way to build a healthier club system that will get approval of Student Council members?

Until something in the culture of clubs changes, it does not seem likely that we will have any more long term clubs, or any fewer short-term start up clubs. The constraints of George School keep our outside gatherings at a steady carrying capacity. Living the life of a struggling club’s leader is heartbreaking. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that the behemoth clubs of 30+ attendees could ever fail.

In the long run, far longer than any of our matriculation here, clubs will maintain themselves according to the student body’s interests.

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Sky Report

by Joey Cifelli ’19

March 27, 2017

Starting off the week with some gloomy notes, it seems. Ah well, a mellow, cloudy day never hurt anyone. Perhaps this is an omen of the tumultuous times sure to come. Anyway, we here at the studio like to think of these skies as blank canvases. Simple, open to interpretation, and maybe a little bit unexciting. Please feel free to add in your own visions of what this sky could be. 7.7/10

March 28, 2017

Today’s sky is almost a perfect copy of what we had yesterday, which leads me to believe that we might be dealing with identical twins. If so, it is worth deciding which is which, in relation to the Sprouse twins of course. This sky is almost certainly Cole. It’s slightly lighter tone is clearly a direct connection to Cole’s more whimsical nature. Yesterday’s serious mood reflects the dark horse aura Dylan Sprouse carries around him. It should be noted that our opinions on the Sprouse twins are subjective, and should not be taken as fact. 7.7/10

March 29, 2017

The gloom has finally receded, leaving us with a chipper blue gradient to admire. The darkest blues are appearing in the Northeast, which is slightly unusual. Normally they would occupy the entire North, but the extra light from the sun takes up more space. I believe this is the first time people have been in the shot, so there’s a new milestone. They provide a good reference point for the scope of the image. I’d estimate that the tall tree to the right of them is about eleven persons high, adjusting for inflation, and the sky is fifteen thousand persons high. 7.3/10

March 30, 2017

Quite a work of art we have here today. I see at least three separate cloud formations all emerging from a single point. The emergence of these clouds from the East is reminiscent of the Big Bang, the explosion that brought the universe into existence. What we are seeing now is still that same stardust, just manifested in a unique way. The ribbed pattern of the formation in the Northeast has a stair-like appearance, which acts as a bridge over the more turbulent clouds beneath. Meanwhile in the West, splinters of pale blue are fracturing the dense cover. Maybe they will break through completely, but then again, maybe not. 8.5/10

March 27 2017

March 27, 2017

March 28 2017

March 28, 2017

March 29 2017

March 29, 2017

March 30 2017

March 30, 2017

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Sky Report

by Joey Cifelli ’19

February 27, 2017

Sorry gang, today just was not a great day to look at the sky. Just kidding, it always is! There was some slight overcast today, but that is no reason to dislike it. A seasoned veteran will know that an overcast sky just needs to be examined more. For instance, you will notice that fledgling cloud in the lower center frame. Ordinarily, that would not be anything special, but the plainness of the backdrop really brings out those darker notes. A cozy sky to kick off exam week, what could be better? 6.8/10

February 28, 2017

The tiny wisp of a cloud we observed yesterday appears to have matured into a full-blown specter. Little bit more color this time around, along with a hint of checkering near the top. The continuous flow of the vapor mass creates a lively sense of motion, enough so that the image may look like a babbling brook to the right eyes. It gently ebbs and flows, nestling up against the trees that form its bank, wandering into someone else’s photo. 7.5/10

March 1, 2017

Quite a turbulent sky we have had today. I do not know if anyone watched it for a bit, but boy, were they moving. By the time I checked to see if this photo had come out okay, that large formation coming in from the top left had already gone out of frame. Despite the blistering speed (or maybe because of it), today’s sky was cool and refreshing. The central piece of this portrait is that dwindling Northwest formation; the one I mentioned earlier. Accompanying are several smatterings of misty clouds, which give the image of ducklings following a mother goose. Very nice. 8.1/10

March 2, 2017

Much as the anxiety and nervousness of exam week leads to the euphoria of spring break, the gray masses that have been haunting our sky chose to go elsewhere, leaving behind a radiant blue. I am not certain of the exact nature of that color gradient, but dubbing it “Inverse Ocean” seems appropriate. Also, readers may be interested to learn that when you flip the picture, the sky looks like a mountain. Neat! I’ll be away for break, but expect to see more of our beautiful celestial ceiling when we return. 8.2/10

February 27 2017

February 27, 2017

February 28 2017

February 28, 2017

March 1 2017

March 1, 2017

March 2 2017

March 2, 2017

 

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We Live in a Republic, Not a Democracy

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by Chris Brodbeck ’18

Just how does the electoral college work?

With the installation of President Donald J. Trump as the forty-fifth president of the United States, many people throughout the United States are still questioning his leadership and even how he got into office. In this article, though, I will not be discussing whether Russia hacked the election in favor of Trump; a more fundamental question is what role the Electoral College plays in every presidential election.

Now, according to NPR, Hilary Clinton received almost 2.1 million more votes than President Trump. This fact leads many people to raise questions about the Electoral College. Many are saying it is undemocratic and does not go along with the people, and, believe it or not, that is what it was built to not do. The United States is not a democracy; we are a republic.

The issue goes all the way back to 1787 and the Constitutional Convention. There was great discussion about the smaller states feeling oppressed by the bigger states with greater populations. New Jersey and Rhode Island wanted an equal representation of the states, while bigger states (Pennsylvania and Virginia, at the time), wanted representation by population.

The men in the room realized that they would not have a country without everyone’s help, so they decided on both. Very creative. There would be a Congress focused on the will of the people, with representatives elected or re-elected every two years, and therefore remaining more accountable to the people’s will. Then there would be a Senate, whose members would be elected every six years, and which would focus on the state’s needs, with each state being given two senators no matter what.

The main reason the founders did not want to have a democracy (besides the fall of Athens, the quick conversion from democracy to a republic in Rome and the divisiveness in other democratic communities down through history) was that they did not want two wolves and a lamb deciding what is dinner. (You get that?) So they went with being a republic.

Now, one might be thinking that is unfair. However, when one casts their vote for Hillary or Donald they are casting their votes for a panel of men/women who will vote for their choice of candidate. In half the states, the panel is forced to vote for the candidate the state wants, but in all the other states voters actually vote in a panel of people who will hopefully vote the way the state voted.

In Washington State this year, there was a person who voted for an Indian chief. A vote like that is mainly a throw away or protest vote.

Wyoming, according to statistics of people and population, has more electoral voting power than California. It is meant to be that way. We are NOT a democracy. The founders wanted the candidate to focus his attention throughout the United States and not only in the south, north, east, coastal west, Midwest, or southwest. They wanted the candidate to have appeal throughout the states, so the states would have the voting power to determine how many senators/congressmen they would have. The candidate has to appeal to city workers and farmers in order to gain control of the electoral map.

This is a control mechanism that is used to stop a specific populace from gaining power, which by the way does not work out all the time, as is obvious if you consider the elections of Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt (3rd and 4th term), and Donald Trump.

One criticism of the system is that, under it, candidates usually focus on bigger swing states and not little states. In 2000, however, George W. Bush won not just the state of Florida, but also West Virginia, a safe democratic state, after it flipped to being a Republican state, winning Bush five electoral votes. This last election, Donald Trump campaigned in northern Maine and he gained one extra electoral point for campaigning in a four elector state.

The Electoral College is a safeguard against campaigning only in populous states, encouraging presidential hopefuls to appeal to a range of people throughout the United States because this country has a range of different beliefs and backgrounds.

You may like that idea or not, but that is the way it is. We live in a republic, not a democracy.

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Uncomfortable Conversations

Students who attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) spend a weekend engaged in dialogue that challenges their morals and beliefs.

by Ayushi Kokroo ’15

In a room filled with African American students, there was a single different face. The room was silent and the girl repeatedly received disapproving glances and whispers from the people around her. Contrary to what many in the group believed, the girl was not an outsider. In fact, she was one of them. Her Asian appearance caused confusion, but once she uttered her first words, she left everyone in the room speechless. With her heavy Jamaican accent, she called out each and every person in the group who had judged her for being different, and they realized their mistake.

This is only one of many realizations people make during SDLC, the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, where young people across the nation come together and think about diversity through different lenses.

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George School students Miranda Riccardi-Coon ’15, Paolio Aligheri ’13, Fatima Akbar ’14, Arne Nelson ’13, Maia Valdepenas-Mellor ’15, and Qudsiyyah Collings ’15 at SDLC 2012.

This three-day conference takes place once a year and thousands of students of all ages are able to meet, discuss, and share their viewpoints and experiences on diversity issues with others similar to them as well as those who are very different. Students are first divided into different groups of around fifty people and then broken down into smaller groups, called family groups, of five to ten people.

Qudsiyyah Collings ’15, who attended the conference last year said, “I definitely connected the most with my family group. I felt safe and I could talk about anything with them.” Most of the activities students partake in are conversation based, and they categorize discussions based on a wide range of topics that include race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. While at the conference students have to live by guidelines, but especially when difficult discussions arose, which included being respectful to others and being willing to share experiences.

“Because we’re having discussions about diversity, which can be uncomfortable, we have to be respectful but we also have to lean into the discomfort to be able to really have the discussions and also help group mates understand our situations,” Qudsiyyah said. The conference affects people personally based on the people they meet, the activities and discussions, or just from the experience as a whole. Last year a boy spoke about how he hated when people assumed he was rich just because he had a big house, and this caused Qudsiyyah to think about her judgments. “This was one of the uncomfortable experiences I had. I thought about how my mom raised me and how she judges people whom she considers wealthy, so that made me think a lot about how my mom has affected my views.”

In only three days students are able to learn a lot about other individuals across the country, but most importantly, they are able to learn more about themselves. This conference enables students to realize the judgments they make rather than ignore and continue them in the future. “I feel like everybody should go to SDLC,” Qudsiyyah said, “It was such a great experience and everyone should get the opportunity to reflect on important parts of their lives.”

Once a year students are given the opportunity to go on a trip that widens their understanding of diversity and what it means to different people. Although it is only a three day conference, the experiences and learning from those three days are enough to last much longer.

This post originally appeared in The Curious George, the George School student newspaper. Select articles from The Curious George will appear here. To learn more about The Curious George, visit our website

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