The Annual Canned Food Drive

The annual Canned Food Drive at Academy has ended. Year after year, the number of cans increases, surpassing the number of cans from the year before. Hundreds of students bring in thousands of cans to donate to the homeless in exchange for extra credit. Every year, Student Government has done an outstanding job counting and organizing thousands of cans . In 2016, the Academy of American Studies had the largest amount of donations in the entire borough of Queens. This year, Academy collected 6,429 cans, surpassing the 2016 record by 4,200. Great job, Academy!!!

Written by Anita Kwok


Photo Courtesy of Anita Kwok


Transfer Students at Academy

At the Academy of American Studies, we receive a large number of transfer students from all over the world in all grades ranging from ninth to twelve. I, myself, am a transfer. I transferred sophomore year from a small all girls school in Astoria. I was able to transition easily due to the welcoming arms of Academy students. Nicoll Balanta, a student who transferred during her sophomore year, said “Transferring schools made me feel safer.” Kira Scott, a student who also transferred during her sophomore year, pointed out the diversity at the Academy because her first school was not ethnically diverse. Kira was also worried about making friends because she assumed that people had already established their cliques from freshman year and middle school. Now, Kira and Nicoll have found a home at Academy and are on their way to graduating along with their friends!

By Anita Kwok


Photo Courtesy of the Academy of American Studies

The Race for 28

The New York Yankees are going to play baseball in October for the 53rd time in franchise history. Before the season started, not many had expected really anything from the rebuilding Yankees. The Yankees proved those that counted them out wrong. The Yankees have insanely exceeded their expectations this year, thanks to well thought out trades from the Yankees front office to acquire Sonny Gray, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, and Tommy Kahnle, and surprising seasons from the likes of Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Luis Severino, and Jordan Montgomery. Players like Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, and Gary Sanchez also played very well. These factors carried the Yankees into the postseason, a place where no one thought they would be at the end of the 2017.

Several Yankees had incredible seasons, seasons that many did not expect them to have. Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Aaron Hicks, and Jordan Montgomery were outstanding. Judge dominated, and is in contention for AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP. With 52 home runs in the regular season, Judge won the AL home run title, he broke the MLB rookie record for home runs and he broke the Yankees’ rookie record for home runs. Luis Severino stepped up, earning himself the number one spot in the Yankees’ rotation. After not doing so well the year before, going 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA, Severino bounced back to become the Yankees’ unquestioned ace, going 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA, and going to the All Star game in Miami. Aaron Hicks had set career highs in nearly every offensive statistic, taking the starting center fielder role for himself. Jordan Montgomery had a solid rookie campaign, going 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA. Gary Sanchez led all catchers in home runs with 33 and also had 90 Runs Batted In. Didi Gregorius, like Aaron Hicks, had set career highs in nearly every offensive statistic, and had become more of a leader for the Yankees both on and off the field. Starlin Castro improved greatly from his first year with the Yankees, batting .300 with 25 less strikeouts than the year before. All of these players have shown that they wanted to prove all of the doubters wrong, and make it to the postseason while everyone counted them out. (All stats from,

Aaron Judge had an absolutely stellar rookie season, which not many people were expecting from the 6’7”, 282 pound, 25 year old rookie. Over the course of the season, Judge has been in the American League Rookie of the Year conversation as well as the American League Most Valuable Player conversation. There is not a great deal of competition for Judge for Rookie of the Year, as he blew most of the AL rookies out of the water with the way he played and propelled the Yankees to a Wild Card spot. As for MVP, Judge is up against Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, who won the American League batting title with a .346 batting average, and Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians, who was a very important piece to the Indians’ season and record breaking 22 game win streak. Judge has established himself as a powerhouse in the MLB, and has a chance to take home both the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player titles.

In July, the Yankees made two trades to help their chances to clinch a playoff berth. The first trade sent one of the Yankees’ best prospects, Blake Rutherford, relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, minor league pitcher Ian Clarkin, and outfielder Tito Polito to the Chicago White Sox for former Yankee relief ace David Robertson, third baseman Todd Frazier, and relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle. The Yankees strengthened the bullpen with the additions of Robertson and Kahnle, and the addition of Frazier allowed the Yankees to fix their problem at third base and focus on first base. The problem at first base was soon fixed by Greg Bird, who came back very strong and helped the Yankees secure their playoff spot. Todd Frazier also became a leader for the Yankees. He wanted to be a Yankee his whole life, and when he finally became one, he started the rallying cry for them. When Frazier hit a home run at Citi Field against the Tampa Bay Rays, a fan in the stands put his thumb down, as he was not happy about Frazier’s home run. Since then, whenever a Yankee records a hit, he sends a thumbs down to the dugout and everyone there sends him a thumbs down as well. The next trade came right before the trade deadline, and the Yankees sent infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo, outfielder Dustin Fowler, and pitcher James Kaprielian to the Oakland A’s for starting pitcher Sonny Gray. Bringing Sonny Gray into the Yankees’ rotation added a powerhouse to their pitching staff. These trades gave the Yankees an even greater chance to make it to the playoffs, and Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Sonny Gray helped the Yankees secure their 53rd playoff berth.

Eric Matesic is a die-hard Yankees fan. He was very surprised at the fact that the Yankees were able to play in the postseason this year. The Yankees surprised him, “I did not expect this team to make the playoffs, I was just hoping to go over .500 before the season started. I didn’t think they were going to make it till at least next year, but I was pleasantly surprised.” Also, Eric believes that Aaron Judge should indeed win American League MVP. “Last time I checked being the MVP is about who is the best player in the league, and someone who can help their team win. Aaron Judge leads Jose Altuve in every stat except batting average, hits, and strikeouts.” Eric had also said that Indians player Jose Ramirez is pretty much out of the race, and the MVP is either going to be Judge or Altuve. With the success that the Yankees had achieved this season, Eric believes that the pressure is on the Yankees for years to come. “Next season, this young team will be put to the test, and pressured to do the same they did this year, only better, anything less is a failure. The Yankees are a future playoff team and favorites to win the World Series. It will be tough, but I have great hope in my team and I hope to attend my 4th parade next fall.”

Written by Nick Giovanelli


Photo Courtesy of Nick Giovanelli

Rebuilding the Knicks

The New York Knicks are arguably one of the most popular teams among those in the NBA and have one of the largest followings. They’ve had quite a few prominent lineups and players throughout their history, however recently, they having been performing well enough to compare with their popularity. The last time the Knicks had success was in the 2012-13 season, when they made it to the second round of the playoffs and lost to the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks are currently projected to have 26-30 wins this season, which is abysmal. What caused this demise of the Knicks organization? And more importantly, what can be done to fix the Knicks and bring them back to their previous form?

The Knicks have a long history in the NBA. They were one of the original teams in the NBA alongside teams such as the Boston Celtics. The Knicks team of 1970-71 which included legends such as Willis Reed and Walt Frazier is known as one of the top 10 NBA teams of all time. That organization won two NBA championships in the 1970s. In more recent history, they had a very competitive team through the 90s with NBA legends such as Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston. However, this success diminished over time. The last time the Knicks made headlines was in 2011 with the acquisition of  Carmelo Anthony and again in 2012 with the rise of  “Linsanity”, where Jeremy Lin singlehandedly brought the Knicks to the Playoffs. Ever since then, The Knicks have been on a downward spiral, especially since the hiring of Phil Jackson.

However, changes were made during the offseason. On draft night, the Knicks had the 8th pick in the first round and with it they selected a 19 year old out of France named Frank Ntilikina. The Dallas Mavericks selected Dennis Smith Jr. out of North Carolina State University. Many claim him to be the steal of the draft and the Knicks made a mistake in not picking him, but it is much too early to tell. In free agency, the major pick up made by the Knicks was Tim Hardaway Jr. who last season was a starter at the small forward position for the Hawks. He came at a hefty price with a 4 year, $71 million contract. This locks in the starting small forward position for hopefully the next few seasons. As for the biggest move for the Knicks this offseason, Carmelo Anthony was moved to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a blockbuster trade for center Enes Kanter, forward Doug Mcdermott, and the Chicago Bulls 2018 2nd round pick. Carmelo has been the primary scorer and leader for the Knicks for the past few seasons and without him, someone new has to fill both roles; most fitting would be the 22 year old Latvian power forward Kristaps Porzingis.

So heading into this season, the Knicks should not have any other plans than to tank and develop their young players. The roster is full of young talents such as 23 year old center Willy Hernangomez, who put up a promising 8.2 points and 7 rebounds last season in 72 played games. Along with him is 26 year old Enes Kanter who has a very well developed post up play style, but also lacks a defensive edge in the paint. Let’s not forget the staple of this front court and this team, the Latvian Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis, who gains great comparisons to Former League MVP and future Hall of Famer, Dirk Nowitzki. Porzingis is a 7’3 player who can shoots 3s, Post up in the paint, defend positions 3 through 5, and will be blocking shots all game. He also surprisingly has a nasty crossover for a player of his size. The only place where he needs to improve is his weight. He is very skinny and light for a big man and easily gets boxed out by any decent rebounder. As for the point guard, Frank Ntilikina, he’s not much to talk about. He can shoot the ball from 3, but not too well. The most to hope from him is about 10 points and 6 assists a game.

Knicks fans seem to have high hopes for their team. They all unanimously believe that Kristaps Porzingis is “the best Knicks player for the foreseeable future” and even “MVP material”. They also threw out names such as Enes Kanter and Courtney Lee as underrated players who have been pivotal for the Knicks success. There was a disagreement as to how the Knicks should carry on running the organization. One super fan, Gabe Allen Cummings, believes that the Knicks are now playoff bound with this roster and ultimately, Kristaps Porzingis is good enough to lead them there. However, the others believe that the Knicks are good, but to become championship material, they’ll need another all star during free agency or they’ll have to pick up a 5 Star prospect out of the draft.

Written by Matthew Bassi


Photo Courtesy of

Are Emergency Centers Actually Safe???

It is well known that the Atlantic hurricane season is from August to October. Unfortunately, this past year had a record breaking season as it is ranked as one of the most active. As everyone knows, millions of people were affected worldwide by these hurricanes. People lost their homes as their houses got destroyed by the strong wind speeds and over-flooding. People were forced to evacuate and continue to live without food, water, and power. Those who were left with no place to stay were sent to shelters. However, what many people don’t know is that these hurricanes have put women and children at risk for domestic violence and abuse.

An emergency shelter is a place for people to live temporarily when they cannot live in their previous residence. A post-disaster emergency shelter, however, is often provided by organizations or governmental emergency management departments, in response to natural disasters, such as a flood, hurricane, or earthquake. With more than 6 million people across Florida ordered to evacuate because of hurricane Irma, thousands of people were crammed into shelters. In fact, there were so many people that many needed to be turned away. “At least 50,000 people have taken refuge from Irma in 260 state shelters…” (USAToday). Due to the expected turnout in the shelters, officials began preparing the shelters in advance, after Florida was declared to go under a state of emergency, in early September 2017. “All of the shelters are built to withstand hurricane-force winds, all are equipped with generators, and all will have police and medics on hand, and all will serve three meals a day,” (PalmBeachPost). People who head to a shelter are advised to bring changes of clothes, snacks, blankets, pillows, any necessary medicine and books, games or other entertainment. This demonstrates how emergency shelters are prepared to protect the people from these disasters, and help them survive.

While shelters may be equipped with food, beds, and medicine, people don’t seem to realize that loss of property, scarce food, water, and the stress from a loss of income during disasters can leave domestic abuse victims vulnerable. During and after a natural disaster it can be more challenging for these women to obtain services and aid. “Domestic violence hotlines may be disconnected, and emergency responders can be overwhelmed, sometimes leaving abuse victims to fend for themselves,” ( That in turn, can lead them to return to or remain with their abuser. The article, “Amid Hurricane Chaos, Domestic Abuse Victims Risk Being Overlooked,” also goes onto state, “When you’re trying to rescue lives, domestic violence remains that hidden thing,” ( First responders are focused on saving as many people as possible, so they don’t usually focus their attention to what goes on behind closed doors in the emergency shelters.

When people were asked if they were aware of what has been going on in the emergency shelters during natural disasters, many were out of words, and in complete shock. Eva Gasparis commented, “That is very heartbreaking. I honestly wouldn’t expect that to ever happen in emergency shelters, I had no idea. These shelters are supposed to be a safeguard for people during their time of need, not put people in harm.” If there is ever a time where New York residents would have to evacuate, she would refuse to stay at an emergency shelter.

Many people like Eva, refuse to reside to emergency shelters. There were many people who had been forced to evacuate, and  leave their hometown during Irma. In fact, Bobby Kaltsas and his family had to evacuate from his hometown Jacksonville, Florida. He drove all the way to New York City from Florida for about 17 hours when Florida declared a state of an emergency and ordered people to leave their homes. He stayed at his mother’s house for a week, as his son had off from school for about two weeks. “We left not knowing how long we will be gone for,” (Kaltsas). Bobby and his wife didn’t know how long they would be without work. When asked why he did not go to an emergency shelter instead, he told me that he never trusted the people in those shelters. He felt safer staying with family, even if it meant taking a 17 hour drive to get to them.

In response to the previous national disasters, the National Disaster Housing Strategy was created.  It describes how we as a nation currently provide housing to those affected by disasters, and it charts the new direction that disaster housing efforts must take to better meet the emergent needs of disaster victims and communities.  “Key lessons include the need for effective communication to manage expectations, proactive planning, and clear delineation of roles and responsibilities in disaster housing” (FEMA-National Disaster Housing Strategy). In support of disaster housing, DHS works across all Federal departments and agencies to ensure coordinated Federal support, identifies and resolves policy issues, and integrates housing with all the other incident management activities (FEMA- National Disaster Housing Strategy). This proves that emergency shelters are indeed making efforts.

It is important that everyone becomes aware of what is happening in emergency rescue shelters. If people have knowledge about what happens behind closed doors, people will pay more attention and be more alert. While natural disasters may be very stressful for first responders, emergency shelters need to be taken into consideration as well.

Written by Maria Milonas



How scary is Pennywise the Dancing Clown? To many, he’ll leave you trembling at the edge of your seat. Others feel “It”, the newly released adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel, is quite possibly the funniest horror movie that Hollywood has released yet. According to Variety, the entertainment magazine, “It” is currently the highest grossing horror movie of all time crossing the $500 million mark on worldwide grosses. It surpassed the $441 million international box office success of “The Exorcist” which until “It”, held the title of highest grossing horror film. The movie gained a tremendous amount of popularity and Pennywise made it to social media as the star of an abundance of memes. However this isn’t surprising; a movie that can both give you nightmares and have you laughing as if you were watching an Adam Sandler movie, who wouldn’t want to watch that?
The film starts off with young Georgie chasing after his paper boat which is floating on a dirty stream on the side of the street during a rainstorm. The boat falls into a gutter on the street, which is when Pennywise is finally introduced as he hands Georgie back his boat. However, taken in by the clown’s smile and surprising friendliness, Georgie had no clue that death would soon be upon him. After his disappearance, Georgie’s brother Bill restlessly tries to reason out what happened to Georgie and soon, he and his friends embark on a search for answers. They all then begin to be haunted by freaky appearances and nightmares such as hypochondriac mothers and creepy paintings.
Aside from the movie’s funny and scary sides, the film also yields some heartwarming feelings amongst viewers. Throughout the entire movie, the kids all work cooperatively to f ight of the sinister face that has been in charge of terrorizing the often bullied so-called “Losers”. This leads to a whole bonding experience amongst the group and even sparks romantic feelings between Bill and Beverly, the only girl in the group. All the relationships in this movie are very endearing despite the fact that this is a horror movie and has the initial intention of scaring you.

Hollywood never fails to amaze us with movie adaptations of Stephen King’s chill-provoking novels. Each film is more frightening than the previous one. “It” however, is more comedic than scary if you ask me. Ian Bock, an Academy student, comments it was clearthat “It touched all cylinders…it was ironic the fact that such a scary movie could have some sortof sense of humor.” Props to Pennywise for his splendid combination of dread and amusement. But if you thought you saw the last of Pennywise, think again; because a sequel to the movie iscurrently in the works, so watch out kids! The killer clown will be back soon.

Written by Christine Huerta

ian it bicgichg.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Christine Huerta


Oxytocin is a hormone secreted from a pea-sized part of the brain and has long been known as a hormone that promotes feelings of love.  It has even been dubbed by scientists as the “love hormone” since it is released when people cuddle up or bond socially. Even playing with your dog or hugging a friend can cause an oxytocin surge.

Oxytocin has a great reputation, because it is thought that it can make us feel better by reducing anxiety and making us feel more benevolent.  An ideal example would be the relationship between mother and child, where oxytocin can play a role in emphasizing maternal instinct and impression, says Psychology Today. Additionally, the hormone is popularly prescribed as an anti-anxiety drug among youth, in products such as nasal sprays and dissolvable strips that increase its production. Even well known and credible websites, magazines and blogs such as Discover Magazine and Scientific American promote supplements that claim to help relax and reduce blood pressure and cortisol (stress) levels, increase pain thresholds, and stimulate various types of positive social interaction. Before you shop for the “cuddle” hormone to relieve stress and enhance your social life, know that new developments show that the hormone is not as cordial as it seems. On the contrary, studies imply that blocking the production of oxytocin in the brain, may be the better option.

As it turns out, the love hormone is two-faced. New research from the UC Davis institute show that oxytocin levels actually increase in perceived difficult or threatening situations. Postdoctoral researcher Duque-Wilckens says that these findings support the theory that oxytocin amplifies the effects of social experiences. “Rather than promoting positive social interactions, oxytocin amplifies the experience of both positive and negative social interactions. In a negative context, like bullying, oxytocin could promote social avoidance” says Kathleen Holder, UC Davis researcher. An insurge of the hormone can increase fear and anxiety within a person’s body. Studies on mice for example, as displayed online in the journal Biological Psychiatry, show mice going into depressive states after a small dosage of the hormone. When stressed, these mice showed a form of social anxiety, staying away from unfamiliar mice instead of approaching and initiating social connections. Blocking the activity of oxytocin shows restoration of normal social behavior.

In a more real context, social anxiety among teens is at an all time high. Social anxiety disorder or SAD,  even affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population and is equally common among men and women as young as 13 years old. According to a survey from Anxiety and Depression Association of America,  in 2007,  36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years since childhood before seeking help. Studying the full effects of oxytocin can further help researchers understand and help prevent or even cure social phobias. Alicia Klages, psychology teacher at Academy of American Studies, explains that both anxiety’s cognitive (mental) and physical effects must be interpreted before it can be treated. For instance, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most widely used therapy for anxiety disorders. According to the Social Anxiety Institute, CBT is a combination or a “pulling together” of methods, strategies, and techniques that work to help people successfully overcome their particular emotional problems. Research has shown it to be especially effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorder, among many other conditions. Instead of relying on artificial sources of happiness, it may suit people with social anxiety better to make changes in lifestyle; exposing yourself to people, stepping out of your comfort zone, and practicing what you fear can help acknowledge that worry.

Written by Evan Akter


Photo Courtesy of  Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Unraveling the Triumph of Fenty Beauty

On September 8th, 2017, Rihanna released her Fenty Beauty line; her first cosmetics collection, globally. Indeed, the release by the well-known artist shook up the beauty community and many rushed to their local stores to buy the products from the exclusive line. The collection has been highly praised by makeup gurus and youtubers and has been proclaimed to be something that has never been seen before. One of the most talked about and popular features of the line are the 40 shades of foundation that are offered, which many women and men have been raving about. The collection offers a variety of products that are meant to attract a wide range of customers. However, many people are speculating if the line is really as special as people are claiming it to be. In order to find out if the expense and the trip to your local Sephora is worth it, it is necessary to learn more about the products and identify whether they live up to the hype.

From the 40 foundation shades to countless creme sticks, there is no doubt that the release of Fenty Beauty became a hot topic. Many fans waited endlessly for the female artist to release her makeup line, when the day came, a huge number of people lined up at their closest beauty stores to get a glimpse of the products. Moreover, many people turned to Youtube to see their favorite beauty gurus review the products and see what others really thought about it. Jeffree Star, who has over 4.6 million subscribers on Youtube stated in his video that he “has been highly anticipating the release of the makeup line.” Furthermore, he eventually tested all the products and later proclaimed, “the foundation is flawless, it looks really nice,” and he even commented on the packaging, stating that it is “heavy and sturdy.” Hence, as more youtubers post reviews about Fenty Beauty, more customers cannot wait to get their hands on one of the products.

Not only did the makeup itself catch customers’ eyes, but so did Rihanna’s  beauty campaign for the line. A diverse group of women are seen in the campaign and many shades of color are represented in the collection. The promotional images, which feature models like Paloma Elsesser, Duckie Thot, Slick Woods, Halima Aden and Leomie Anderson, had more models of color than white models. Rihanna even told Refinery29; “I also wanted things that girls of all skin tones could fall in love with. In every product I was like, ‘There needs to be something for a dark-skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl; there needs to be something in-between.” Rihanna wanted the line to promote diversity, and she wanted consumers in need of makeup for all skin tones to be able to buy the products, especially dark skinned women, who are usually not represented in many brands. Thus, Rihanna worked hard in order to fix a problem that many women in the makeup industry were facing in order to attract a wider range of people towards her line.

With the success of Fenty Beauty also comes doubt about its success and whether the hype about the products is accurate. Seventeen-year old Alisa Hot from Academy of American Studies in Long Island City expresses that she “likes the makeup line and loves how Rihanna branched out from her clothing line and her music and decided to do makeup.” She also talks about her favorite products and what worked out for her, including the foundation which she commented was “good for dry skin.” Another favorite of hers was the foundation primer because it “kept her makeup on all day.” Hot also talked about her views on how the makeup line promotes diversity. She says that “The dark toned foundation shades are what’s being raved about and it’s really impressive and such a benefit to the beauty community.”

Rihanna’s Galaxy Collection was released in October, and indubitably became a hit with customers. The release included the Galaxy Eyeshadow Palette, lipsticks, and even eyeliners. Fans who were disappointed about the absence of lipsticks and eyeliners finally have the chance to purchase what they have been waiting for. Rihanna’s success has been praised by many because of its quality and inclusivity, but recently a makeup company showed dissaproval of Fenty Beauty. On Instagram, Makeup Forever posted a picture of their forty foundation shades that they have had since 2015 and stated that it was “nothing new to them.” But, Rihanna was quick to respond and commented under the post, “lol. Still ashy. Shook.” The famous female artist and growing business woman was going to defend her makeup line to the end.

Fenty Beauty has made a significant impact and is believed to have been a successful release. Around the globe, many beauty lovers bought the products and expressed their opinions about them on social media. The praise and easy accessibility of the products seems to have been a big hit with customers because it was announced that Fenty Beauty earned 72 million in one month. Rihanna made a line that she wants every single person in the world to enjoy. As Hot said about the products-”I love the line and cannot wait to buy more products!”

Written by Jessica Venturina


Photo Courtesy of

Violence in Media

Violence. It’s everywhere, it’s stench lurks in schools, homes, workplaces, even theatres. We are exposed to violence in movies, videogames, and in the actions of violent people. Gory movies such as “300,” and The “Saw” series, depict a multitude of brutal deaths from decapitation to burning alive. These depictions of violence cause controversial discussions about how far we truly can go with what we do in movies, and whether or not it affects us as a people in some way. Where did this fascination with violence derive from? There were times when movies were based off of romance, story, and other things such as comedy and drama. Lately, however, it seems as though everything revolves around violence. Paul G. Mattiuzzi from Everyday Psychology states that, “In the real world, we are fascinated because of the powerful emotions aroused when we consider the fate and fortune of the victim and the pain that remains for their survivors…. We actively seek the clues that tell us that we are safe, that it couldn’t happen to us.” This, essentially, means that humans are in love with violence, the way people love drugs. The thirst of a world of what ifs, could have beens and would bes sucks people into a hole. They are constantly desperate to see a new gruesome way of killing somebody, and the death of a character on a screen gives them the illusion of safety. Lying within this entanglement of illusions and falsehoods is the truth. People are not invincible because they’ve seen the right movies, as all people are mortal. They can die, the same way people on a screen die, albeit, hopefully, in a less painful way.

This mortality can be best illustrated in the effects that violence truly has on a human brain, more specifically, that of a child.Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, may be more fearful of the world around them and they may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.” These are all mental effects that an article in Psychology: Science in action highlights as problems violence can cause in the minds of children. Realistically speaking, some of those effects aren’t exactly negative. For example, in a society such as ours, where mass shootings are becoming an all too common sight on media news outlets, is it wrong for children to be fearful? Relations with Russia and Korea are less than stellar, mass shootings happen on an almost monthly basis, with hundreds dead as a result, and Neo-Nazis have marched on towns.

At what point do we help children understand that what the world is, in its current state, is a bit terrifying and that they have every right to worry? At what point does this concern become a downfall? Of course, this isn’t to say that the article is wrong. It brings up excellent points regarding aggression and harm. The exact effects violence has on children are still widely unknown, and aggression towards others may very well be a serious issue society faces in the future. We, as a people, will have to discover ways to overcome these hurdles, but action cannot be taken until we understand the full ramifications of violence. For now, we’ll have to settle for what the New York Times said about it; “Watching violent movies really does make people more aggressive – but only if they have an abrasive personality to start with…”

How serious is the issue? At the Academy of American Studies, 20 students were asked for their opinions on the matter. Of the students asked, 65% related to violence in some way, especially when suicide was brought up. To these students, violence is something they make jokes about while not fearing for their safety. On the other hand, some students argued against violence in the media, saying: “Honestly, violence numbs people… their emotions, it teaches us a world where violence is normal and acceptable. Not exactly picture perfect…” When asked what they thought about times where violence was acceptable, and even glorious, more specifically in Roman times, one student had this to say: “Life will be life. Brutality was a part of life in Rome, in Greece, in China, in countries that controlled incredible portions of the world. That same brutality is gone now, at least, it should be.” A second student vented their frustrations, saying that “Death and violence are a part of life, it is better that people understand that, so they see that actions have consequences, that people are mourned. Sandy Hook, and Columbine were two instances where young children and teens were taken from lives that could have been, but never were. This needs to be covered, so people understand what violence means to the people.” When the student was asked whether or not they believed that violence was the product of seeing other  violence, the student dismissed the question by saying, “Comparing violence to violence is like comparing water to other water, it’s always the same.”

Written by Karlo Krstulovic  


Photo Courtesy of

Classicism in the New York City Education System; Slipping Through the Cracks

Horace Mann realized the importance of education in the 1830s with the establishment of the first public schools in America. Mann believed that, “ Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balanced wheel of social machinery.”

Based on data from the Department of Education more than 1.1 million New York City students reap the benefits of a public school education. However, there are an additional 500,000 students attending elite private schools across the five boroughs. What is the difference you might ask?

There is a general stereotype that private schools are better because they have their own independent funding, rather than public schools which receive money from the department of education. However, the clear line between public and private schools has become more rigid with the establishment of specialized and charter schools in New York City. Charter schools embody a combination of private and public schools practices. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools defines a charter school as an institution which receives government funding, but operates independently and can be privately owned in some cases. Additionally, specialized high schools such as Stuyvesant High School and Bronx Science are public, but rank as the city’s top nine elite schools by the New York Post poll with college readiness rates reaching 95% and above. With so many options how do you decide on the best school for your child?

Eighth graders, in their last year of junior high school, attempt to take a stab at the specialized high school exam hoping to receive a score adequate for one of the nine schools. While some students simply peruse their notes the night prior, other students start studying for the SHSAT as early as elementary school by taking weekend prep classes. The Princeton Review offers a variety of test prep opportunities such as ten hours of preparation for $1,500. This sum, however, was too high for a current New York City public school student, Dawilka Caraballo, who dreamed of attending Stuyvesant High School three years ago. She could barely beg her single mother of three to spare twenty dollars on a review book. Dawilka also applied to Beacon, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Millennium High School because she scored all threes and fours on state tests, and had a cumulative 98 average at the beginning of her eighth grade year, yet she was denied acceptance from all three. When she emailed the admissions office at Eleanor Roosevelt High School for the reasoning behind her rejection they stated that they prioritize Manhattan students for their 500 seats offered to freshman. Only about 2% of the freshman population are students who reside in the Bronx.

As a result, Dawilka is currently a senior at the Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists. When asking her to comment on her high school experience she stated, “ …they don’t have the appropriate teachers for certain classes and some classes I can’t even take because they don’t offer them…”. She fears that this high school experience will repeat this year as she applies to college. Dawila used terms such as  “unprepared” and “lost” when mentioning the college process being a first generation, minority, and having no one to guide her through it all.

In addition to the SHSAT for public schools, certain private schools offer other forms of examination such as the ISEE ( Independent School Entrance Exam) or the SSAT (the Secondary School Admissions Test) . For example, the Dalton School located on the Upper East Side reviews ISEE scores when choosing which students to admit. The test is administered during Fall, Winter, and Summer/Spring seasons, and takes three hours to complete. The prices solely to take the exam range between $105.00 to $185.00 depending on the form of registration, and students who score 8’s and 9’s on the 1-9 scoring scale are considered for admission to prestigious schools like Dalton, Riverdale, or Horace Mann. (

What am I paying for? Is the common question many parents ask when deciding to go private with their child’s education. Dalton incorporates the arts and athletics into its everyday curriculum to stimulate the student bodies well being as proven on the school website. Teachers of core classes such as English, mathematics, sciences, and history are graduates of Ivy League and  private institutions. Students take computer science classes, and learn how to use various technological programs such as Microsoft excel preparing them for future tasks in the employment world. While students like Dawilka struggle to get their college applications completed correctly, Dalton seniors are assigned to their individual college counselors towards the end of their junior year, and learn how to fill out a mock college application prior to completing the real one.(

However, the benefit of attending a public school is the diversity that can be seen when stepping into school hallways. Based on a study made by the Southern Education Foundation in 2016 forty-three percent of the nation’s private school students attend virtually all-white schools, compared to the 27 percent of public- school students. Some minorities who attend private schools on scholarships have trouble fitting in. A current University of Pennsylvania sophomore who attended Trinity School on the Upper West Side shared his experiences in a  New York Times article titled, “Admitted, but Left Out”. Ayinde Alleyne, a son of immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago living in the South Bronx, spoke of roaming through his school hallways hearing students discussing their amazing weekends in the Hamptons, or their spring break trips to the Bahamas. He shared that minority students have been ostracized from the student body due to physical and economic differences, or they “fake it till they make it” attempting to change themselves in order to fit in. Based on data from the National Dropout Prevention Center; 48.9% of American students dropout of high school due to “push-out” factors such as “not feeling like they belong” and “ not getting along with others”.

Annually over 1.5 million students drop out of high school. The Live United Organization concluded that the three main reasons why students choose to drop out are lack of parental engagement in their child’s education, poor academic performance, and familial financial need. Dawilka Caraballo openly spoke about her families low income. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays she rushes to catch the train to make it on time for her 3-7 P.M. shift at the midtown Chipotle. Yet, she manages to maintain her status as valedictorian, volleyball captain, and Student Diplomacy Program Ambassador. Overall she commented, “ My mom always complains about how I’m never home. She wants to train me to be a wife, but there is more to me… I want to be the greatest version of myself. She doesn’t understand the importance of my education.” There are many students like Dawilka who feel like giving up when surrounded by doubt and disapproval. When asked about what keeps her going she responded, “…when I see myself in twenty years from now I want to be on a private jet to Paris or Milan, rather than living in the same old project in the South Bronx…”

Theresa Pfister, a former fourth grade teacher at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant Charter School, and a current program manager at the Sponsors for  Educational Opportunities Program claims, “ All students have the potential to succeed, but not all of them are given the opportunity to do so. This is why we have a lower, middle, and upper class which usually remains unchanged because these students don’t know how to break through the ceiling without proper guidance and support which is usually offered at these private schools. That’s why programs like SEO are created.”  Programs like SEO Scholars, Minds Matter, and The Opportunity Network offered in the metropolitan area aid low income, first generation, minority students who have academic potential, but lack support when trying to gain admissions to competitive four year institutions.

Education, indeed, is the great equalizer of all men, but there is a difference if this education is being absorbed from a dusty textbook dated back to the 1990s, or a newly purchased ipad.

Written by Carolina Bzowski