Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Halloween Happenings

By Lily Waxler
The Ghost of The Mad Hatter Tea Shop booth,
On October 31st, this year as in every year, Project Learn School (PLS) celebrated Halloween throughout the building. The Jr. High did a lot of  planning and made fun activities for the younger kids to do. One of the ways the school celebrated Halloween was with everyone making Halloween clay pots with Joan Fox. Joan helped everyone glaze their Halloween pots and on the day of Halloween a witch came in before school and  filled them with candy. No one in PLS knows who the witch is for sure, but there is a lot of talk among the students about who the witch could be.  Some people think it’s Joan, the art teacher, but this year she wasn’t even at PLS for Halloween.  For the kids who don’t celebrate Halloween, Joan helped them make fall themed clay pots, which also got filled with candy.
    Sean Leber, the math teacher at PLS, helped the younger Jr. High students put together a Halloween carnival; the other Jr. high teachers helped too. The carnival happened in the back yard and was a time for the kids to play different games that the Jr. High kids made. Some of the games this year were: Demon Dash, The Ghost Of The Mad Hatter Tea Shop, Face Painting and Wheel Of Fortune. At each booth kids tested their skills.  If they won, they got candy as a reward.
    While the younger Jr. High students were designing the carnival and Halloween pots, the 8th grade kids were working on the Haunted House. The Haunted House  is similar to the carnival; there’s something in it for all the kids to enjoy.  This year’s theme of the Haunted House was a masquerade ball.  The kids could go in with  the lights on or lights off, or optionally colored lights, all depending on how scared they wanted to be.
    Sylvie, a student at Project Learn School said, “I really liked the Haunted House. It’s my 3rd year at Project Learn School and, it was the 2nd time I went in the whole time, and it was just the right level of scariness. It was a little creepy, yet fun. The carnival was really good too.”

    The kids at Project Learn had a fun Halloween this year. The Haunted House was great; the carnival was fun and it had a lot of games for everyone at Project Learn to enjoy.

Review of a TV Show: "Red Band Society"

By Tia Yancey
   The TV show the “Red Band Society” caught my attention when I saw in the commercials that Octavia Spencer and Ciara Bravo were starring in it. I recognized Octavia from the movie “The Help”  where she was known as Minny, and I recognized Ciara Bravo from a Nickelodeon show from a couple of years ago. I like both of the actresses, and it seemed interesting to me to see them both on the same show. I was curious.
    In the previews, it looked like a TV show about kids with cancer in the hospital. At the time, I thought that if you were a patient with a red band on your wrist, then you had some type of cancer. Although, in the show, the band means that you have had surgery. Most of the characters in “Red Band Society” are children in the hospital. “Red Band Society” would just be a regular show if Margaret Nagle, the producer, hadn’t flipped the switch and made the show about kids’ lives in hospitals. It shows that even if kids have a sickness or don’t have the same type of living style as us, their lives are like us in more ways than we think.
    The cast is a typical group of teenagers: the mean girl, Kara Souders, the cool one, Dash, the newcomer, Jordi Palacios, and the love triangle, Leo Roth and Emma Chota. Octavia Spencer is known as Nurse Jackson. She’s like the mother nurse of all the children, or to some, also known as the scary, strict nurse. Dr. Jack McAndrew is the head doctor of the patients. He’s hard working and takes care of the kids the best that he can.
   The narrator, twelve year old Charlie, is in a coma. Throughout the show, you can see how people relate to him and how they are so close to him. Kara has heart failure and is at the bottom of the list for a transplant due to her history of drug and alcohol abuse. Dash is one of the best characters on the show. He has lung cancer and even though there aren’t a lot of scenes involving his personal life you can tell by his personality that he’s a funny chill guy. All of the actors have special characters in the show which they play very well. They are all there for one reason or another, whether its working with the kids or because they are the kids with an illness. Through all of the stuff that goes on, they become close, the nurses and the patients.
   “Red Band Society” is appropriate for children 13 and older because it involves drug use, illnesses, and teenager life struggles. It’s message is something that all ages could share but some of the content may not be appropriate for younger views.

Open Houses at Project Learn School

Aisha Anderson-Oberman at the Open House table.
By Nya Hardin
   Project Learn School (PLS) Open Houses are one of the best things that happen at Project Learn. This is because they make it so people can see PLS in a pleasant way.
   Parents of young children who are looking for a school for their children and parents who are looking for a different school for their older children come to the Open Houses. They want to see if PLS is a good fit for their children.
   Aisha Anderson-Obermen is the Admission Director and the organizer of the Open Houses. Some of the helpers who make this event successful are Nadja Anderson-Obermen, Donna Waxler , Tanykia  Alston-Lucky and many others.These helpers act as tour guides for the guests and help set up the open house by putting food on the table and are tour guides for the guests. The teachers talk about what they do in their groups classes at each Open House. Guests are given a snapshot of the special teaching style of the staff which makes the school unique and keeps it in demand.
    Open Houses at Project Learn School show that PLS  is a well working school. At the evening Open House guests usually arrive at about 7:00pm because parents get off work that late and stay until 9 or 10pm. During the morning Open Houses, parents arrive around 9am and leave at 11:30.
   In between  the beginning  and end of the Open House, guests get information from a handful of the faculty members and some of the current co-op parents, and are treated to snacks and refreshments. Project Learn Open Houses do not just let people know more about the school but give them a chance to become a part of the PLS family.

Focus on a Teacher: Sean Leber-Fennessy

 By Lily Waxler
Sean Leber-Fennessy is the middle years, and Jr. High math teacher at Project Learn School (PLS).  He started teaching at PLS in 2013. He enjoys working with kids and helping them solve problems.
   Sean started teaching in 2008 through an organization called, Teach For America. He was interested in finding something meaningful to do while his wife went to grad school.
Sean Leber-Fennessy
   Teach  for America is an organization that recruits college graduates to teach in inner city schools. Sean taught at Olney High School where he taught statistics and algebra. He also taught statistics at school called Nueva Esperanza, as well as pre calculus and algebra.
   Sean thinks that all teachers should teach problem solving. “People face problems everyday and having critical thinking skills helps them make wise decisions,” said Sean. He loves being a teacher because he can watch kids figure out things and not give up.
    In his free time, Sean enjoys cooking, taking care of his son, hiking, listening to music, planning things for the kids to do in class, and playing board games. He lives with his wife, Kelilah Miller, his son, Gabe, and his cat, Jeffrey. In his years of teaching he has learned to be patient with his students, and with himself. Teaching takes a lot of patience.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Focus on an Alumni: Shiggy Rosenzweig

   By Carol Mei Rosenzweig                             
   Often the Journalism students focus on an alum. This journalist wanted to focus on Shiggy Rosenzweig.
    Shigeo, or Shiggy as he is known to his friends, graduated from Project Learn School (PLS) in 2012. Shiggy is 16 years old. He goes to Friends Select School (FSS) in Center City and is in his Junior year.
   “I chose FSS because I liked the classes that I shadowed,” Shiggy said. Shiggy misses PLS where he went for 8 years. He reflected, “I loved the community. I am still friends with Raz Reed and Jonas Bromley. I miss the the teachers and the art program, at PLS. However, I did not like FTGOTS, because nothing happens and it was boring and it was a waste of time. I like playing Magic, The Gathering with friends, riding my bike and going to circus [arts] classes. I have made some friends at FSS and I like playing chess with them ... I think that they are interesting people and I think that is cool.”
Shiggy Rosenzweig
   Shiggy says that his favorite subjects at PLS were Science and Art but at Friends Select they are Art and English. He says that it is because of the teachers and their teaching style. Shiggy’s main complaint about FSS are the homework and his commute. “I don’t like the amount of homework at FSS and the way I have to get there. It takes too long and sometimes I miss the place where I have to get off, because I fall asleep on the train. I do think that FSS is actually preparing us a lot more then we need for college and I am thinking of going to college. I just don’t know which one yet,” Shiggy says.
    Shiggy has a 12 year old sister named Carol Mei Rosenzweig, a mother, Hideko L. Secrest and father, Laurence G. Rosenzweig. Shiggy also has a dog named Elijah;he is a black lab mixed with cattle dog. He also has two cats named Thoren and Estella. He was always friends with Raz and Jonas.  Shiggy does not like attention. For his own Bar Mitzvah, he did not want to dance, play any games or say hi to his guests. Shiggy is funny at home, trying to make people laugh and imitates people and does a really good job of it.  This journalist has notice that he only does this around his friends or family.
    Shiggy, Mei, and their mom Hideko all went to Israel for winter break with many people. They are part of a congregation called Germantown Jewish Center, and a lot of people signed up to take a trip to Israel. They started in Jerusalem, traveled to Haifa for a day, and then went to    Tel Aviv. They met their guide and then the journey began. Their bus driver's name was Mosche, and the guide’s name was Asire. They went to the hotel named Dan Panorama and  checked in and went to sleep. The next day they all had breakfast at the hotel, and then went outside and walked to a windmill that did not work and talked about what they will be doing and seeing that day. Not much happened on the second day since a lot of people still had jet lag.

    The next day they all had breakfast at the hotel, the group walked to the city and walked around in the Christian East Jerusalem.There was a guide for that area and she talked about what was going to happen and some history about the Christian area. They saw the place where Jesus was buried; it was a very holy place and many people came here. People had lunch on their own looking around to see where they wanted to eat. This is where Mei met a nice girl named Lillian, and they were friends in their first conversation. Mei and Lillian hung out with each other for the rest of the trip. Shiggy was sick for some of the trip, but he did not have a favorite part. He loved all of the trip. Shiggy loved the trip and some of the food.

Town Meeting Tradition

By Sylvie Goodblatt
Town Meeting is an important part of Project Learn School’s (PLS) identity, and has been happening since PLS first started in 1970. This whole community meeting is held eight times a year on the third Wednesday of each month, except for December and June. It’s a time where the parents and teachers of PLS’ students get to meet and talk about important issues.
      Eric Moore, a PLS Jr.High parent, says, “I like to be with the other parents of the school and get to know them all. I think it’s helpful to know all the faces behind the children’s faces.”
      Jordan Shapiro, the lead parent of PLS says, “My favorite part about town meeting is that it gives the families an opportunity to have an impact on the education of the children.”
       During Town Meeting, there is an educational portion, where the parents learn what is going on in their children’s classrooms. They then all meet in the Community Room, where the parents and teachers talk about important issues. A recent discussion, at the November, 2014 Town Meeting, was a proposal for having a loading zone in front of PLS for drop off and pickup. The decision was reached that it would not happen without further investigating; some worried whether it was illegal or not. There were also concerns that the people living around the school might object to it. In this case the person who brought the proposal was asked to revise it and bring it back to Town Meeting, but some people don’t go any further with their idea.
     Each March the school budget is decided on which is presented by the budget committee that anyone can be on if they want. In November all the budget changes that happened over the summer are approved.
     Often there is a Town Meeting where everyone meets each other, a community night, and everyone talks about their hopes for PLS. The topics brought up are then written down and used to further enhance the school.
    To reach decisions, the school uses something called the “modified consensus process.” Everyone gets four different ways to express their opinion: yes, no, no with blocking, and abstention (the “ I don’t have a strong opinion” vote). If everyone chooses either yes, or abstains, then it is called a “unanimous decision .” If the choices are yes, abstention, and no, the proposal still passes. However, if even just one person chooses to block, though, the proposal is stopped and further discussion happens. Through these discussions proposals can be revised and decided on later in the meeting or reintroduced at a future Town Meeting.
    In past years, Town Meeting has been run by the lead parent. The lead parent’s job also includes signing important documents and checks with the lead teacher. This year the Project Learn Administrative Committee (PLAC) is trying something different: each time two people from PLAC runs the Town Meeting. Ten parents, four staff and one or two alumni parents need to be on PLAC each year. There needs to be at least ten people at each meeting. There are two PLAC meetings a month.  It is at PLAC where the agenda is decided on for the month’s Town Meeting.
    Since Town Meeting is from 7:30 PM to 10:00, kids don’t usually come, and if they do, there is someone who takes care of them while the adults have the meeting. Jordan Shapiro says that he would like it if the kids had more of a part in town meeting, though, and if they came.
     Town Meeting really makes PLS what PLS is. It helps parents be part of their child’s education.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

By Ian Holbrook
The Hunger Games Trilogy symbols.
The Hunger Games Trilogy is a popular book series by Suzanne Collins. The series is about a dystopian society, made up of twelve districts, a capital and one secret underground city in the place of a no longer existing district. Every year the capital picks two children, one boy and one girl, from each district, in what is called “the reaping.” The kids are between the ages of twelve and eighteen. The twenty-four children are set up to fight to the death in an arena.
The main character is Katniss Everdeen. She is best friends with Gale Hawthorne. They go out to hunt together when they need food. Gale wants to run away with Katniss on the day of the reaping, to get away from the society that kills children for entertainment and pleasure. At the reaping, Katniss’s sister Primrose is chosen; Katniss volunteers in her place. Peeta Mellark is chosen in the boy’s place. At the end of the first book, the capital decides that a pair of children from a district can win. Both Peeta and Katniss survive, but when the capital goes back on its decision, Katniss and Peeta decide to kill themselves.  Right before they do, the capital declares them the winners. This sparks a rebellion and the start of the second book of the series, Catching Fire.
In book two, the capital decides to put only the victors of previous games into the choosing pot instead of new tributes. So Katniss, Peeta and their trainer Haymitch Abernathy are the only ones in the choosing pot. Katniss, being the only female victor from district twelve is picked and Peeta volunteers for Haymitch, who is getting old. Once in the arena, they notice that it is a clock and that every hour in a different section of the arena there is a different disaster. At the end, Katniss ends the games by shooting an arrow into the force field around the arena. It is connected to a wire that is about to be electrified by the lightning tree which is the 12:00 disaster, which causes the arena to collapses. This causes the capital to firebomb district twelve and start the full-on rebellion. This sets up book three, Mockingjay.
In book three Mockingjay, Katniss and her family move to the underground city of district  thirteen where Katniss joins the war and acts in “propos,” video propaganda that is streamed through regular television programs using hacks. While Katniss is doing this, Peeta is in captivity and being tortured by the capital to go against Katniss. The ending is not entirely happy but satisfying.
I really liked this series because the action never seems to stop. The suspense is also a major positive, because it makes things more believable in some cases. The details were good because the books told us, not just about violence, but also about nature-inflicted dangers of the games; for instance hunger, thirst and fatigue.   
I would recommend this to people ages 11 and up because of violence that may not be suitable for younger people. Readers who like stories like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and the Olympians will enjoy the Hunger Games. An overall rating for this series is 8 out of 10.