Melrose High School, Melrose, MA

Melrose High School, Melrose, MA

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Opinion: Syria

In recent weeks, Syria has been a big topic in the United States.  Syria has agreed to a Russian proposal to give up their chemical weapons. President Barack Obama tells people to remain cautious; however it is unclear how the deal will pan out. The al-Assad regime has agreed to give up the chemical weapons but it does not mean that America should not step in.
Following reports that the al-Assad government used chemical weapons to kill 1,300 people, including many women and children, President Barack Obama called for military action. President Obama called chemical weapons a "red line" that cannot be crossed. In a recent address to the nation, President Obama credited the use of chemical weapons as the reason for a potential strike.
Many people in the United States, however, are opposed to idea of engaging in another Middle Eastern war. People are opposed because the U.S. is just winding down from their own involvement with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even though the Obama administration has said that the maximum time frame for a campaign would be 90 days, people are wary because President Bush deployed troops to Iraq to find chemical weapons. And still almost 12 years later, the United States is still engaged in war in the Middle East.
A potential problem with U.S. involvement, however, is that Syria has a very good relationship with Russia. This could complicate things because if the United States were to respond to the al-Assad regime with military action, then there is a possibility that Russia could retaliate. If that happens then the whole conflict could be significantly worsened.
Many citizens are also wondering why the U.S. is trying to get involved now. The Syrian civil war has been going on for two years and the conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives, many of those women and children. Why doesn't the use of conventional weapons warrant military action?
Whatever the answer to that question is, the fact remains that innocent people are still dying and no one is stepping in to help them.
Although there is a strong anti-war argument, there are also many reasons why we should get involved. For one, the use of chemical weapons warrants a military strike. Considering that the British Parliament recently voted against possible military action in Syria, Obama believes that it is the U.S.’s responsibility to intervene. The United States has always been the country that stands up for the littler countries. Since the Syrian people cannot defend themselves against their government, some else has to step in to help.
The United States needs to step up and be a country that others can model themselves after. If America deploys troops to Syria then other countries might follow.
But although arguments on both sides are strong, it looks as though a military strike as been averted, at least for the near future.

By: Alden Bedsole 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Boston Calling Music Festival

On September 7th and 8th hundreds gathered in the center of Boston to listen, dance, and enjoy some of the public’s favorite music. Boston Calling music festival took the heart of Boston, City hall Plaza, and turned it into an all day gathering filled with loud music, good food, and general joy throughout the lucky ticket holders.
      Both days, the 7th and the 8th, were sold out. The tickets, which sold for $75 for a day, $130 for both days and up to $350 for a both day VIP pass, went fast. Children under 10 had a free entry if brought along. Considering around ten bands played per day the concert was relatively affordable.
      The Lineup for the festival consisted of some of today’s most known Rock bands. The show did not consist of only Rock; however, there were genres such as Indie Rock, Rap, Folk, and Alternative Rock. Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit headlined for the two days but were also joined by such names as Local Natives, Kendrick Lamar, The Gaslight Anthem, The Airborne toxic event, and about twelve other names in the music industry.
     The festival doors opened at 12pm, but the music began at 12:50pm and continued on until 10:30pm. The length of time the bands played gradually increased as the day went on. The headlining band, the last band, played for the longest.
     The music being played was excellent. The bands had enormous stage presence and the crowds seemed to enjoy every band that played. The festival had many bands that sounded the exact same in person as they do on the recording. Many festival goers seemed to enjoy the Headlining bands the most. Dancing and singing along was a regular activity throughout the day as multiple songs with performed and many bands took the stage; lighting up the stages with flashing lights and exceptional vocals.
     Many of the musicians that played the show would walk around the festival and listen to the other bands play after they were done playing. They would talk to fans that came up to them and stand in the crowds listening to the music. It’s not at every festival that you might run into the lead singer of your favorite band walking around ready to hold a conversation, but at Boston Calling it is possible. 
     Before the band Local Natives came out to begin their set, the mayor of Boston came out to say a few words. Mayor Thomas Menino came out onto the stage taking the microphone to share his views on the festival. Mayor Menino is a major supporter of the arts and bringing the culture that comes with the arts to his city. Menino is a major supporter of the festival and spoke of what bringing the arts to Boston meant to him. Mayor Menino then went on to introduced Local Natives (Which the band later brought up several times throughout their time on stage) and was lead offstage to watch the show with the rest of his fellow Bostonians.
     Security at the festival was heightened. Due to recent events that have taken place in the city, such as the Boston Marathon and the recent events occurring due to the “Molly” drug, new regulations were put into place. No bags were allowed into the festival and upon entering the festival grounds genders had to be separated in order to be checked and patted down. When being checked, certain bag sizes were allowed to be brought into the square after being thoroughly gone through, but bags in general, backpacks were not allowed to be carried with the person.
     The festival had two stages set up to be used throughout the day. Only one stage was used at a time considering the amount of space the Square has. There were food and drink tents set up all over the square offering the traditional festival type food. Burgers, fried dough, chicken fingers, fries, and lemonade were all on sale for around $6 a piece. There was a VIP section for those who purchased the VIP tickets, which offered shade from the sun and extra food and drink tents.
     Boston Calling Music Festival has been held once before. Earlier this year, on the weekend of May 25th and 26th, the festival was also held in City Hall Plaza. The Festivals were almost identical; the only difference was in the line-ups. The May Boston Calling had performers such as Andrew Bird, Marina and the Diamonds, The Shins, and fun. When the two festivals are compared the music genre that the festival focuses on becomes clear.
     Boston Calling is a Music Festival that brings big music names to the heart of the city of Boston. It brings culture to the center of City. It allows for a gathering of people to spread joy through good music and enjoy their lovely city. Boston Calling officials hope to bring the festival back to Boston next year.
By: Madison Forsberg

Rowling Returns to The Wizarding World

Harry Potter fans: the journey is not quite over! The rumors of J.K. Rowling extending the book series are no fairy tale. Rowling is making her first debut movie with Warner Brothers Entertainment as a spin-off of the beloved series. Although this new movie does not follow the adventures of Mr. Potter and his friends, “it is an extension of the wizarding world,” says Rowling. It will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards, and all the magic laws remain the same. The script follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, who many Harry Potter fanatics will remember as being the author of one of Harry’s required textbooks: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which Rowling also published. This title will also serve as the name of the upcoming script. Although this story is neither a prequel nor sequel to the seven book phenomenon, Rowling says we can expect some familiar characters to pop up. The story takes place in New York instead of London, and has no association with the storyline of the Harry Potter books. “I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it,” Rowling says.

By: Megan Wolley 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Twelve Years Later

Twelve years ago, many families lost a member in that tragic attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and in Pennsylvania. One man, my uncle, will live forever in so many hearts.
Peter Hashem was a resident of Tewksbury, Massachusetts. He was happily married to Rita Hashem, with two children, Christopher and Patrick, who were—at the time—eleven and nine years old. My uncle was a Senior Software Engineering Manager and was flying out of Logan Airport on Flight 11 on a business trip to Los Angeles. He left his family, friends, and coworkers the loving memories of all the fun, exciting, and happy times they had shared with him.
Every year, in Tewksbury, MA, there is a memorial ceremony in honor of my uncle and Peter Gay, another resident of Tewksbury who, like my uncle, vanished from his family’s lives – though not their hearts – that tragic day. The memorial is held at Tewksbury Public Library. Almost all of Peter Hashem’s family members attend each year. Though most of them do not enjoy attending, such as his children and mother, because it brings back the memory of that horrific Tuesday morning, they still do appear at his memorial service each year to pay respects. They also go to the service to see their beloved relative one more time; even if it is in a plaque form.
Peter Hashem's plaque
The founder of this memorial, President Robert Fowler, and his Board of Directors made speeches of how our loved ones are always with us and that they would never leave our hearts. He then begins to explain the history of this memorial. “Our motto—since the beginning—is ‘Never Forget.’” President Fowler told me in an interview. “Freedom is what is keeping America, well, America. And in order to stay free, we must use September eleventh as our motive.”
Afterwards, Laurissa Gay, daughter of Peter Gay, spoke to the audience. “Each year, September eleventh moves further into existence.” She said. “I cannot believe that there were twelve year olds that weren't alive during that tragic day. I just can’t believe it.” She then proceeds to read a few poems. When I looked around, I could tell people were trying not to cry. It was truly a sad moment for everyone.
When the Fire Department and Police Department read off the 93 Massachusetts residents who lost their lives twelve years ago, everyone in the audience lit candles in memory and respect of the fallen. Everyone in the audience sang along with the Tewksbury Memorial High School Marching Band to “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” and for a moment we were all united as one.
The memorial building
After the memorial, relatives and friends took the time walk up to the memorial building. There were already two plaques; one of my uncle, Peter Hashem, and one of Peter Gay. Recently, the foundation of this memorial added two new plaques. One plaque is about never forgetting 9/11, and the other is a short biography of the attacks. Around the building, bricks are cemented into the ground. Each has a different name of every victim of the tragedy.

My great aunt, Peter Hashem’s mother, walked up to the plaque of her late son just to see his face and touch it one more time. My uncle is gone from our lives, but he has not left our hearts nor our thoughts. The same goes to Peter Gay and his family who misses him dearly. My uncle has touched many people; family, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers. He—and every other victim—will never be forgotten.

By: Christian Hashem

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Policies at the High School

It’s a new year and with it have come many new policies for Melrose High School. The most noticeable for everybody is the new schedules, which were changed over the summer to accommodate the new Advisory blocks, which have replaced homeroom this year. The Advisory period will meet every other Tuesday and are designed to allow students from different grades to interact and build relationships that they would not normally have. Older students can offer advice to their younger companions and the younger students can meet and interact with the juniors and seniors who have traditionally held themselves apart from the freshmen almost entirely. “The goal is to give students a source of experience that they can draw on and help them build relationships with other students they normally wouldn't come into contact with,” said Mrs. Farrell, MHS’s principal and one of the designers of the policy, “We want to try and see if having these extra advisors will help students be more successful over the course of their high school career.” 
However, the addition of these new periods has required a major overhaul of the schedule. As everybody has probably noticed, G block is now locked as the last class of the day, similar to how A Block is locked as the first. “We wanted to give students a little more stability for anything after school that might cause them to have to leave early or affect their schedule,” said Assistant Principal Mr. Stephen Fogarty. “This also makes it easier for us to find students at the end of the day if we need to pass out anything or talk to any students. They’re always in the same place, so we don’t have to spend as much time tracking them down.” This has also affected the lunch schedule, as some blocks now are lunch blocks multiple times within the seven day schedule rotation. What most people probably haven’t noticed, however, is that there are now two extra minutes added to the school day, giving students a full five minutes to get from their second to last class to, the locked last block, G Block. This will hopefully reduce the number of people who were reporting late to their last block every day last year.
Another change most people have noticed is the extra emphasis being placed on the food and drink policies. Food is not allowed outside the cafeteria, period, and all drinks must be in a sealed travel mug. The singular exception to the rule is that water may be had anywhere in the building (though the Resource Center frowns on it). Although, contrary to popular belief, these are not new rules but ones that have been in effect for years now, this year the administration is enforcing the rule much more strictly mainly because they have gotten sick of seeing spilled drinks and food in the hallway. “We come in, the first day of school, and before school even started we saw three different coffee spills around the building,” said Mr. Fogarty, “Really, enough is enough.”
When asked if there was any policy that he thought could use a little extra attention, Mr. Fogarty mentioned the skateboard policy: “We can’t have skateboards being ridden around in the hallways during school. It isn't safe. And there have been issues where students want to keep the board on their desk or next to them and they end up arguing with the teacher about it. It wastes class time.” So now skateboards are required to be checked in and left at the first floor office during school hours. “Just head down there, drop your board off, and come back and pick it up at the end of the day. Nobody’s going to take them or mess with them; they’ll just be kept there while classes are in session,” stated Mr. Fogarty.
By: Andy Griscom

Friday, September 13, 2013

Lee Daniels' The Butler: Movie Review

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whatever we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

–Vince Lombardi

Lombardi’s wise words apply to one man in particular, Eugene Allen, who worked as a butler in the White House for 34 years before recently passing away in 2010 at age 90. The Butler is based off of Allen’s experiences in the White House. The main character is Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker. Gaines starts the movie by telling the story of when he was a young boy in the 1920’s growing up as a slave on a cotton plantation in Macon, Georgia. In his teens, he leaves the Westfall plantation in hopes of becoming something better than he’s been raised to be.

Gaines finds himself in Washington D.C., where he goes through a series of jobs and intensive training before he is hired as a butler in 1957 during Eisenhower’s administration. His eldest son, Louis, joins a student-run program at Howard University that brings together and encourages African American students to spread the message of peace and equality. Meanwhile his youngest son, Charlie, has plans of joining American forces in the War in Vietnam. Throughout the movie, Gaines struggles to find a balance between his rigorous work at the White House and putting food on the table for his family at home.
The Civil Rights Movement is heavily touched upon in this movie as they display many brutal attacks and hangings before the March on Washington in 1963. There are plenty of people who could argue that this movie is far too graphic for a PG-13 rating, but the educational aspect of The Civil Rights Movement is something we are taught from a very young age. Equality is practically engrained into us when we’re in our Pre-K years. We were all taught to share our belongings and care for one another as individuals, and none of that has ever been based on the color of our skin. 
Although I must say, I was genuinely surprised that I was the youngest, and one of the only people in the theater. Teenagers may not be drawn to this movie simply because they think it’s just another movie about boring historical events: it’s not. The actors take great pride in their characters, as they should. The direction and cinematography are both beautifully done, making the audience feel as though they are witnessing these horrible crimes at the time of The Civil Rights Movement. This movie tells the story of a problem that is still occurring nation-wide and we may not know enough about it. So if you have any free time on your hands, or even if you don’t make time to see this movie. It can be appreciated by all audience members.

by: Natessa Storm

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Inside Look On The New Science Labs

Over the last year, a completely new set of  science labs have been designed and constructed in Melrose’s own high school.  In total, the  new space contains nine lab/classroom combinations and prep rooms. The renovations were intended to modernize the science department. The new middle hallway is lined with a number of posters honoring  and detailing the lives of many famous scientists, including  Nikola Tesla for example, as well as Sewall Wright who was born  here in Melrose. Cole O'Brien's iRaiders mural still remains in  the main hallway. Just looking down at the floor shows the transition from the old hall to the new labs: fresh white and  green tiles, rather than the worn brown ones.
The classrooms each contain both standard  equipment and a few features dependent on the specific class’s subject. Each room has between 10 and 12 computers with flexible mounts, as well as goggle storage, eyewashes, a shower, and  multiple sinks and gas outlets. For safety purposes, the science labs are hooked up to a different water system, because there can  be problems in the labs that may contaminate the water. Therefore it is considered unsafe to drink from the water in the labs, even  though the chances of the water getting contaminated are very slim. Most of the physics-oriented labs have extended power outlets with extension cords attached, as well as a heavy load-bearing bar for pendulum experiments. The majority of the Biology labs have a space for hanging plants. The chemistry labs have large vacuum hoods for working with potentially dangerous  fumes. Every lab with windows is equipped with blackout shades, capable of completely cutting off natural light.
The labs, while certainly high quality, did not  come cheap. Melrose High was among six schools in Massachusetts  to qualify for a part of a large city budget to improve school  buildings. The overall cost of the renovations to the 18,000 square feet labs was about 5.2 million dollars. Of this large budget project, $250,000 went to the furniture alone (benches,  stools, tables). Design work began in June 2012, construction started in February of 2013, and the overall time of the build was  about six months.
In a public interview about the improvement of the schools, Mayor Rob Dolan revealed some further information regarding construction of the labs and potentially other big projects coming up. The following  information has been confirmed by the city planner, Denise Gaffey: the new labs were a part of a large city initiative to improve the high school over time without disrupting the school year (like the middle school remodel).

By: Duncan McLeod