By Aneesh Karuppur (V)
Welcome back to another edition of The Pingry Record Tech Column! Let’s see how the new decade started off in the world of technology.
But first, a brief update on Pingry’s wonderful Student Technology Committee (STC). STC’s various groups are working hard in hopes of having significant results by the end of the school year. One team built a charging station near the cafeteria and is currently working on equipping it with cables. In addition, mobile charging carts have arrived and are under construction.
STC has also started a top-secret project relating to technology and interpersonal communication! Stay tuned for more updates on that group’s proposal to our existing technology issues.
STC’s 3D Printing team hosted its first workshop of the year, when Julian Lee (V) ran an AutoCAD workshop for STC members. In the near future, the team expects to roll out workshops for the student body and faculty, which will focus on integrating 3D Printing into specific curricula.
As of now, anybody can use the 3D printer for a valid, school-related reason. In fact, architecture and art classes have already started using it. To print, simply make a model using your CAD software of choice, save it as a .stl file, and speak to an STC member for help printing.
Now, let’s broaden our scope of discussion and take a look at some global tech news, starting off with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.
The buzziest part of the show was Neon, a Samsung subsidiary that is planning to make artificial humans for use in various settings. Neon ended up being completely overhyped. When excited showgoers went to the booth, they discovered that the life-sized images of people were actually just actors and not artificially intelligent cyborgs. Although Neon promises results eventually (as is the case for many tech startups!) it may take a while for anything to come of it.
One of the main focuses of the CES was the new display technology. Samsung showed off an 8K television (which has about sixteen times more pixels than a standard MacBook screen), which would not be very special if it were not for the fact that the TV has no bezels (black bars around the edge). This means that the visual content extends the entire length and width of the TV and provides an immersive viewing experience. In other news, LG, TCL, and other major TV manufacturers introduced some minor improvements to their existing lineups.
Another interesting development was the increased emphasis on 5G. 5G is the next-generation cellular network and has been reported to be much faster than existing 4G LTE technology. 5G has already been rolled out in numerous places across the country. Since it requires special phone models, its adoption has been fairly limited thus far. Nevertheless, major carriers have promised that more devices will support 5G by next year. At CES, laptop makers like Lenovo and HP jumped on the trend by offering 5G-enabled laptops so users can work anywhere with a cellular connection.
Well, that about wraps it up for this edition of the tech column! Be sure to continue reading in the next issue to observe the trends of the tech world.
By Brian Li (IV) and Carson Shilts (V)
In the past year, the Pingry Upper School English Department has undergone major changes involving the Junior and Senior curricula. Previously, the Junior/Senior electives were a collective affair; now, Juniors and Seniors take their spring electives separately, resulting in a shift in the works used and courses that are taught by faculty. As Pingry students, it is important to understand exactly what purposes these changes serve and what you may be losing and or gaining from the new curricula. To further understand this topic, I interviewed Upper School Director Dean Chatterji, who helps oversee any and all curriculum changes.
Dean Chatterji explained that curriculum change is a “two-year process” and that these changes are “big changes that we are not undertaking right now.” The sentiment seems that course adjustment is a difficult and lengthy process that is only undergone when it is necessary. Dean Chatterji also discussed how the most recent changes have been those made to the English curriculum. This prompted me to reach out to Dr. Dickerson, Chair of the English Department, for further clarification.
Dr. Dickerson said, in the case of English, that “last year was a year of great change.” Dr. Dickerson explained how the English spring elective program was revised for Juniors and Seniors. Both classes used to take their second semester English elective together, in a mixed class; that method was discarded. When asked why, Dr. Dickerson stated, “We felt that the Juniors did not have enough options for Junior electives.”
The English department added three new electives: Gold Rush, Waterways, and American Contemporary Poetry; these courses are meant to “complement American Literature” which is the required fall semester course. Dr. Dickerson further explained that “American Literature can be kind of rushed and packed so we felt that this would give students a chance to further explore these topics.” She also discussed how it was difficult for Juniors to keep a certain level of rigor up when mixed in a class with seniors, as seniors leave early for their Independent Senior Projects. Seniors now take a full year of courses related to world literature, and new electives have been added to their course sheet as well. Rising Juniors and Seniors may have noticed that they both have five different spring electives to choose from, which is new to this year. Rising Juniors have the option to take The Contemporary American Short Story, which is a new course that will run next year. Rising Seniors have two new options to choose from Creative Writing and The Great Epic: The Trojan War & Its Aftermath, making the number of spring electives between Juniors and Seniors equal.
Dr. Dickerson explained that “it’s all a trade off; you’re always losing something and you’re always gaining something,” which is something that is always important to keep in mind. Though some books such as The Adventures of Huck Finn are no longer part of the curriculum, many great novels have been added in response. As literature and world issues progress, the curriculum will continue to change to keep it as relevant and valuable as possible.
By Martha Lewand (VI)
On February 1, Upper School students attended the annual Snowball Dance at The Westin Governor Morris in Morristown, NJ.
Students spent the night dancing, having fun with their peers, and enjoying dinner while a small group of faculty chaperoned. This semi-formal dance was a great way for the student body to enjoy themselves after the end of a long first semester.
Snowball is a “Sadie Hawkins” style dance—a school dance in which girls traditionally ask boys to be their date. Some students asked their dates to Snowball through creative “promposal”-style ways. At Snowball, most girls wore corsages as guys bore boutonnieres. A majority of girls styled dresses and jumpsuits from stores like Revolve, Free People, Lulus, and more, while most guys dressed in different colored suits with ties.
Once students began to arrive at around 7 p.m., they checked in with chaperones and hung their coats. Shortly after, the dancing commenced. For roughly three hours, the DJ played many hit songs from the past few decades. The songs ranged in style and tempo from Rihanna’s “We Found Love” to The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” to Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.”
“I had a lot of fun dancing,” said Nicole Gilbert (VI). “It was the most enjoyable Snowball of all the years I’ve been.”
In the midst of the often crowded and lively dance floor, students took breaks to eat dinner and drinks catered by the hotel. Food options included pizza, dumplings, pasta, and more. At the end of the dance, there was an ice cream bar with an expansive selection of toppings to choose from. In addition, drinks such as non-alcoholic piña coladas were served.
“The food and drinks were a great mix of student favorites and more formal options” said Jessica Hutt (VI). “There were lots of crowd-pleasers as well as classier selections to fit the evening’s dressed-up vibe.”
After the dance, students collected their belongings and headed out. Some went straight home, to a diner, or hung out with friends. For some seniors, it was a night they made sure to cherish.
“It was emotional because of the fact I never wanted to leave,” said Josh Thau (VI), a senior lifer. “I sincerely enjoyed it.”
By Andrew Wong (IV)
As the ball in Times Square finished its long descent, with the chants of over a million people in Times Square and millions more glued to their TV screens counting down, our world would be ushered into not only a new year, but a new decade.
5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Happy 2020.
For many of us here at Pingry, 2020 will be a year of great accomplishments and change. Seniors will go to college. Juniors will embark on the college process. Sophomores will start another hectic year of high school, and the freshmen will no longer be the wide-eyed newcomers they once were when they first walked in. This year, we will meet new people, we will learn new and fascinating subjects, and we will write the next chapter of our lives, as we enter another year, full of hope for the future.
At least, that was the plan.
On January 3, I opened Instagram to find a deluge of posts about World War III. These posts were in response to the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, and they ranged from sensationalized faux news reports on how the US was about to start a war with Iran, to memes detailing how to dodge the draft that the U.S. government would soon supposedly start. Media outlets had a field day with this news, as they scrambled to point a finger at who was to blame for this sudden escalation of panic.
As tensions rose, Iran would launch missiles at American troops, and 176 people would tragically die in a commercial airplane crash after being accidentally shot down. Maybe World War III would start after all. Of course, as we know now, World War III never did start, no one would be drafted, and the world breathed a collective sigh as we stepped back from that tense moment.
But it was just the start.
Later that week, I read on Hong Kong news that a new SARS-like virus had infected around 100 people in Wuhan, China, and medical experts were scrambling to identify what this new deadly virus was. By the next week, experts called it the novel coronavirus, which was spreading at an exponential rate and killing hundreds. As of February 2020, coronavirus has now spread to 28 countries, infected 35,000 people, and has killed 700 people.
As the world focused on the possibility of World War III and the spread of coronavirus, there would also be terrible and highly destructive environmental disasters. New wildfires would ravage the Australian Outback, there would be devastating earthquakes in Turkey and the Caribbean, and the worst locust swarms in over 70 years in East Africa would destroy thousands of acres of crops, eating over 1.8 million tons of vegetation a day.
On January 26, I, along with many other people around the world, watched in horror at the news that the great Kobe Bryant, at age 41, and his daughter Gianna, age 13, had been killed in a horrific helicopter accident in California. Fans around the world mourned the basketball legend, who had been an inspiration to the whole world on and off the court.
All of these horrible events, in the span of just a month into the new year. It is evident that this is not the 2020 we were looking for.
Browsing the internet today, it’s very easy to find memes or articles lamenting just how bad the start of the year was. The memes try to find some sense of humor in all the tragedies, while the articles will try to find a source of blame for the problems, whether in politicians, climate change, or even ourselves. Both sources continue this fearmongering with the argument that 2020 will only get worse. These memes and articles, while trying to be funny or push a pessimistic message, expose a wider, pernicious problem. It is evident that there has been a loss of hope in our world these days. According to a recent YouGov/Economist poll taken on January 9, 2020, less than 39% of respondents said they are optimistic about 2020.
Is this the world we want to live in? As we move deeper and deeper into 2020, we should not be afraid of this new year.
Pope Francis told diplomats in a speech at the Vatican in early January as tensions rose between the U.S. and Iran that “Precisely in light of these situations, we cannot give up hope. And hope requires courage. It means acknowledging that evil, suffering and death will not have the last word, and that even the most complex questions can and must be faced and resolved.”
If we move on past all the terrible events of January, there is a lot of hope that 2020 will be a good year. Already, efforts are being made to combat the spread of coronavirus, with new treatments and potential cures being discovered every day. New technologies will be unveiled that have the potential to change our world forever. We will meet new people and start new friendships and relationships that will change our lives forever. The year is still young, and there is so much to look forward to in this new year, regardless of all the tragedies that have befallen us. All we have to do is just remind ourselves there still is good in this world, and there is so much more to look forward to.
I am ready for this new year. Are you?
Noah Bergam (’21) is the co-editor-in-chief of the Record. He joined the staff in his freshman year, when he was asked, coincidentally on his birthday, to help edit sports articles.
He specializes in opinion pieces and enjoys their ability to share stances on important issues while also telling a story. He enjoys shedding light on the competitive atmosphere of Pingry but also creating windows into broader political stories––and in all his work, including LeBow speeches, he sure loves a good overarching analogy! As Ki-Jung from Parasite says, “This is so metaphorical!”
Noah enjoys watching film, playing Taiko drums, and teaching math. He has an educational YouTube channel and he would love to get both your feedback and your subscription.
The Pingry Record Editorial Staff
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By Meghan Durkin (V) & Andrew Wong (IV)
On Thursday, March 12, amid concerns over the novel Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, Head of School Matt Levinson announced that Pingry would adopt a remote learning model until at least April 10. On Friday, March 27, heeding Governor Murphy’s updated advisory, this remote learning regime was extended to April 17.
School-sponsored activities, including athletics, were suspended as well, in hopes of keeping the Pingry community safe. This news followed the cancellation of multiple spring break trips, including the French exchange program and the athletic trips to Florida.
Prior to Spring Break, as New Jersey reported its first case of COVID-19, Pingry prepared for likely disruptions as a result of the virus. Mr. Levinson assembled a task force, led by Associate Director of Operations, Safety, and Strategic Initiatives David Fahey, to monitor the situation as it evolved. This model “allows us to act with deliberate speed and care in our decision-making, while also being nimble and adaptive to changing circumstances,” said Mr. Levinson. So far, the biggest challenge for the task force “has been the speed at which [COVID-19] has unfolded.” While COVID-19 spread from China to South Korea to Italy, the virus seemed to be a distant threat. Though, by late March, the United States had over 27,000 confirmed cases.
As Pingry does its part to slow the spread of COVID-19, a new reality of “social distancing” has affected faculty and students. Governor Phil Murphy ordered a statewide lockdown, which encourages people to stay home and shuts down all non-essential business, leaving vacations cancelled, standardized tests postponed, and store shelves empty. Pingry’s remote learning model looks to continue fostering educational growth, while keeping Pingry and the greater community healthy. Teachers, by using virtual classes and online assignments, hope to make remote learning engaging and effective. Mr. Tim Grant, a chemistry teacher, explained the “need to try to create a classroom feel where everyone can feel heard and be involved,” as he believes “a class does involve the transfer of information, but much more importantly it must have the feeling of community.” For many teachers, including Mr. Grant, effectively using remote learning will be a “journey that to me looks like I’ve been air-dropped into the Amazon and I can’t imagine what comes next. The journey will be both scary and exciting with many new discoveries.”
Dean Ananya Chatterji echoed this sentiment in an email to Upper School students, expressing the faculty’s shared hopes for the extended closure. She explained that transitioning to online learning “is NOT going to be perfect. Everyone knows this, and no one — not a single one of us — expects that this will go smoothly. We are hoping to treat it like an adventure: something we can try our best at, knowing there will be pitfalls and successes. Most of all, adventures should be fun. So our hope, as a faculty, is to have fun with it.”
Students will also have to adapt to new circumstances, not only academically, but also extracurricularly. With delayed athletic seasons that face possible cancellations, students look to make the best of the unexpected situation. Mr. Grant, who coaches girls’ varsity track, explained his realization “that [he] must give enough information so that each athlete can learn how to coach themselves.” Both students and coaches must find “some gems against the rubble,” as they stay in-shape and prepare for a potential season at home. Along with sports, clubs face new challenges, as they hope to keep members connected online.
Furthermore, this new territory of remote learning changes many students experience socially. Sanjana Biswas (V) said, “I’ll miss my friends the most and just the experience of being in school. As much as we complain about it, we all have fun talking to our friends during lunch and flexes and going to class.” Though, she added, “It’s pretty easy to stay in touch through FaceTime and text.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the Pingry community looks to be cautious, as the possibility of extended closure looms. Students and faculty alike promise to remain open and positive throughout these uncertain times. Gia Kalro (V) believes that while “we’ll have a lot of trial and error, eventually it will all work out.”
As of March 22, global Coronavirus cases have surpassed 300,000. In just a few weeks, everyday life in the United States and abroad has been replaced by social distancing and self-quarantining, while each day the number of cases grows. Though, during this time of uncertainty, both the Pingry and global community has stressed the importance of staying calm and maintaining hope. Mr. Levinson encourages students “to have fun, try new things, be creative, and take the time to get outside for some fresh air,” while finding “ways to build community remotely, whether it’s around a shared interest like a club, or around a passion project.” He asks the community to “be patient as we all discover new ways of learning and being in community together.”
By Alex Wong (I)
On Thursday, March 19, Head of Middle School Ms. Laurie Piette sent out an email to Middle Schoolers, detailing the schedule for Remote Learning amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. The schedule detailed days of the week for live check-in sessions, due dates for asynchronous work for classes, and when students would receive feedback on their asynchronous work. The start of remote learning in the Middle School has caused mixed reactions among the faculty and students alike.
Like their Upper School counterparts, Middle School students were instructed to use Google Meet to attend their remote classes. Throughout the week of March 23, students received a variety of communications from Middle School Dean of Academics Mr. Allen Thomas, Middle School Director of Athletics Mr. Gerry Vanasse, Middle School Dean of Students Mr. Michael Coakley, their advisors, and their subject teachers, culminating in an advisory meeting on March 26. Laura Young (I) remarks, “I think remote learning is something we are all not familiar with, and it will be rough in the beginning with mistakes, but I think that remote learning is just as good as learning in school. This is not a step back, this is just a different way of learning.” Tyler Katt (I), mentioned, “It is a lot more relaxed however you have to be responsible with timing out your work and attending your online classes.”
With these hopes in mind, on March 27, Middle Schoolers logged on for their first remote class, English, where they were able to ask questions to teachers, learn new class guidelines such as muting your microphone during class, and start to get a feel of learning remotely.
Remote Learning has certainly brought its own changes to the Middle School, whether it be a massive reduction of classes (1 or 2 classes per day online versus 5 classes normally) and the switch to a pass/fail grading system for all core classes. When asked about how he felt about the changes, Ian Konops (I) remarked, “My feelings on remote learning are mixed. I’m happy to be back at school but I had hoped that the classes and work would be more interactive. I would like more live classes and interaction with teachers and students.”
Outside of academics, Middle School Director of Athletics Mr. Gerry Vanasse stepped up and made daily home workout videos for the Middle School students to watch and do. Mr. Vanasse has featured workouts such as light weight resistance, circuits, and dynamic warmup. When asked about what inspired him to start making the exercise videos, Mr. Vanasse commented, “Just as students will make time for their remote academic learning, they need to schedule time in their day to exercise their bodies. The videos are designed to provide a variety of workout types that are fun, effective, and can be done at home. I hope the videos will continue to help motivate and inspire our Middle School students to stay fit and healthy.”
In conclusion, everyone knows that this is an unfamiliar and uncertain time. Everyone in the Middle School is trying their best to pursue life as normal, and in these next few weeks, we will see if this new remote learning model can work.
By Alex Wong (I)
On December 20 and January 10, the Middle School held its annual Geography Bee, Talent Show, and Spelling Bee. These events featured performances by various students in the Middle School, showcasing academic, musical, speaking, and spelling skills.
The Geography Bee was held on December 20, with 24 contestants participating (eight from each grade level). It featured both a written and oral round. Questions included questions relating to territories such as Ascension Island to natural phenomenons such as avalanches. Eventually, the field of 24 was narrowed down to two contestants, Dhruv Nagarajan (I) and Alex Wong (I), with Dhruv ultimately winning on the fifth question of the Championship round. He will now advance to the state tournament in March.
Directly after the Geography Bee, the Middle School hosted the Third Annual Talent Show. For the first time in three years, all students who auditioned for the show were accepted. Performances ranged from rapping to poetry to various musical performances. The crowd showed great enthusiasm for the various performances, such as playing the violin while hula hooping.
The Fourth Annual Spelling Bee (a Pingry tradition started by student Noah Bergam (V) in 2017) was held on January 10. Each grade had ten preliminary round winners, so there were 30 contestants. The Spelling Bee featured both vocabulary and spelling rounds. Nick Henry (I) remarked, “It was fun to participate in the Spelling Bee, since it was the first time I was involved in it.” Words in the Spelling Bee included “lightning,” “Sinai,” “artillery,” and many others. Ultimately, with a field narrowed down to two contestants, Dhruv Nagarajan (I) and Vinav Shah (I) remained. Vinav won the Bee with the word “austere.” He will now advance to the state round of the Spelling Bee in April.
The Middle School ended 2019 and started 2020 with impressive displays of student skill. All of the middle schoolers had a great time watching their peers participate in the three events. The enthusiasm that every middle schooler displayed for their fellow students was amazing.
By Brian Li (IV)
On Monday, January 21, Pingry hosted its eighth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. In the morning, students, family members, and faculty volunteered for various organizations, including Cancer Support Community, The Sharing Network, and Color a Smile. In 2012, 50 families volunteered during the first MLK Day of Service; this year, over 200 members of the Pingry community participated. Ms. Shelley Hartz, Director of Community & Civic Engagement, created the event after hearing the slogan, “Martin Luther King Day: A day on, not a day off.” She spoke with members of the Pingry School Parents Association (PSPA) and put together a day where “we [invite] other community organizations and provide opportunities for our community to do service for these organizations.” Ms. Hartz also decided to include an informative aspect on “Martin Luther King, social change, and civil rights.” The MLK Day of Service provides the community with a chance to give back and contribute to society. To Ms. Hartz, the best part of the day was seeing students volunteer. “It is very heartening to me when students choose to participate instead of sleeping late. [I am] able to step back and see them having fun while they’re helping another organization.”
By Hugh Zhang (V)
Following successful seasons across the board last winter, Pingry boys’ athletics have raised the bar even higher this year. Outstanding accomplishments from all teams continue to demonstrate Big Blue’s athletic excellence, and Pingry is poised to finish strong this season. Here is a look at some of the most memorable highlights so far.
Coming into the season, Matt Fallon boasted several records on his résumé. Only a junior, Matt is already one of the best swimmers in the country, and this winter he added a few more achievements to his list. Against North Hunterdon, Fallon broke the national independent short course records for the 200 meter IM and 100 meter breaststroke. He also claimed the meet record for the 100 yard breaststroke at Lawrenceville. Regarding these successes, Fallon commented, “The hard work during practice definitely paid off, and I couldn’t have done it without the team.”
Armed with one of Pingry’s best lineups in recent memory, the powerhouse boys’ swimming team, led by seniors Reid McBoyle (VI) and Will Stearns (VI), swept both the Skyland Conference and Prep Championships, and won its 13th consecutive state title, breaking the state record for the most state titles won back to back in a 98-72 win over Bishop Eustace. Upon winning the state title, captain Reid McBoyle remarked “After seeing the other captains in years past win the state title, it’s been an important ritual for us to come here, do well and win. And this year if feels really good because we finally broke that record. It’s awesome that we got to go through the program and become the first team to beat that record.”
The boys’ winter track team is also having a terrific season; as Captain Henry Wood (V) remarks, “we are consistently dropping PRs each race.” The team put up impressive results at the Prep Championships, with James Draper (VI) coming in fifth for shotput and Wood winning the 1600 meter run. Wood also broke the 1000 meter school record at the New Balance games and placed second in the 800 meter at the Skyland Conference Championships.
Pingry has dominated the ice as well, with the boys’ ice hockey team heading into the state tournament as number one seed. Juniors Eric Bush and Jared Kordonsky both hit the 100 point mark this season, and the team has secured multiple victories, including a recent win against The Hun School. Overall, it has undeniably been a “solid season,” according to hockey captain James Cummings (VI).
By Martine Bigos (IV)
The annual Art Faculty Exhibition was on display in the Hostetter Gallery through January 31. The exhibition featured the work of many Pingry studio art teachers, including Ms. Xiomara Babilonia, Ms. Melody Boone, Mr. Miles Boyd, Mr. Russell Christian, Ms. Rebecca Sullivan, Mr. Rich Freiwald, Ms. Patti Jordan, and Ms. Nan Ring.
Last year, the faculty exhibit, entitled “Now and Then,” explored the teacher’s artistic evolutions. By comparing their older pieces to new creations, viewers were able to see the growth and development of the teachers’ styles. Once again, this year’s exhibit displayed the faculty’s creativity and talent. On Wednesday, January 29, Pingry students and faculty were invited to a reception that celebrated the exhibit. While enjoying snacks, visitors explored the various pieces and appreciated the beautiful artwork.
Among the pieces on display was Ms. Nan Ring’s “Veiled Figures” series. Throughout the series, she explores “the way we fit in—or not—to our bodies, our clothes, our culture, and the planet.” When searching for inspiration, Ms. Ring was drawn to a veil’s “myriad folds and geometric patterns formed by the way the gauzy material overlaps itself as it is draped on the wearer.” She’s hopes that her “paintings evolve for viewers as the viewer evolves” and that they “mean different things to the viewer at different times of their life, just like a poem does for a reader.” In her paintings, Ms. Ring showcased the beauty and complexity of veils, as she explored the versatility of them.
Next up in the gallery is the 24th annual Student Photography Show, which will be showing in the gallery until March 3. The show features the works of students from eleven different private and public schools across the region. Both exhibits, back-to-back, put the talent and creativity of the faculty, and the students they help mentor, on display for the whole community.
By Rhea Kapur (IV)
In preparation for Snowball, Pingry’s annual winter formal, there are a couple items to consider. One is, of course, the look. For female students, it’s finding the perfect dress—classically beautiful, yet original—and for the gentlemen, a suit that stands out. Refer to this issue’s fashion column for more! Other items that come to mind include finding a date, perhaps, a group of friends to get ready with, and everything in between. In all the mayhem that ensues in the week leading up to the event, many don’t stop and think about the music. Out of sight, out of mind—until the event starts. There, it’s, “Ugh, what are the words to this again? Let’s go get a drink and wait ‘till something we know comes on.” The cycle repeats itself every year. The real fun at Snowball—or any dance, for that matter—is to vibe with your friends and just enjoy the music. Many upperclassmen I’ve talked to agree: at a dance, we enjoy the music to the fullest when, first of all, we like the songs, and even more importantly, we know the songs– the chorus, when the beat drops, and a cool freestyle that matches. And let’s be real here: a lot of the time, that isn’t the case.
To investigate this further, I reflected on exactly what type of music is played at Snowball. A friend on Student Government sent me the suggested playlist, which is curated by members of the group and sent to the Snowball DJ. Looking at it, we see that the songs mainly fall into two categories: hip-hop and iconic bops. The latter is self explanatory: the likes of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” and John Legend’s “All of Me” are commonplace. These are songs that we’ve grown up listening to on the radio, the kinds of songs that friends scream out loud together, smiling, arm in arm—the songs that bring us teenagers together. These fall under the wider umbrella of “pop,” and they’re perfect for a close-knit, school-wide dance. An observation, though, if I may—at Snowball, it’s mainly the female students who dance to these songs, while the males stand on the side awkwardly. Maybe it’s because the lyrics are more touchy-feely, and that, even though male students know the words, singing along goes against the “masculine” image that they must project. Or, maybe this music just isn’t as popular among male students—but I digress.
The roles quickly reverse, though, when songs from the former category—hip-hop—come on. These are characterized by rhythmic beatboxing and clean beats accompanied by raw, flowing rap lyrics. The most popular of them—Drake’s “One Dance,” Travis Scott’s “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM”—are decently well known to all genders and bring most people out to the dance floor. However, when just slightly less popular songs come on—Lil Uzi Vert’s “That’s a Rack,” Migos’ “Narcos”—it’s the male students that jump up and crowd around the middle of the dance floor, enjoying the beat and shouting the lyrics, while female students step back.
Does this mean that the music tastes of our generation, our age group, also split into these two strict categories—and that the gender interests do as well? I would disagree. Take a look at recent breakout stars like Lil Nas X or Billie Eilish, for example. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” a smashing hit, combines a country sound with the classic hip-hop beat. Both sounds are prominent, and by putting them together, Lil Nas X becomes original, a pioneer, and instantly popular. Eilish’s sound is also definitive, original; she specializes in horror pop, with tunes that are uncannily catchy but also creepy and spine-tingling, and even have a bit of the hip-hop influence mixed in with the beat. As such, Eilish’s music has an entirely different, captivating sound, unlike anything that has been heard before. Both artists have a fantastic following with teenagers of all genders and backgrounds, including Pingry’s own—both artists are on the Snowball playlist and stirred the entire crowd to their feet when played. They’ve blurred the lines between the different genres. I believe this is also reflective of the world our generation is growing up in as a whole: we’re more accepting, more fluid, more willing to combine different aspects of what is known to create what is not. Although there may not be as many artists like Lil Nas X and Eilish out there just yet, with the same degree of popularity, I think that’s the direction we’re going in. Soon, popular music will be more obviously made up of more than just two sounds. Just imagine what the dynamics at Snowball will be like when that’s the case.
By Sarah Kloss (IV)
This past winter, many students were disappointed to hear that the Student Activities Committee’s (SAC) annual Holiday Assembly was cancelled. The assembly is a beloved (and entertaining) Pingry tradition, and many were surprised and confused as to why it would not be running. This resulted in a number of rumors and speculations about the cause for cancellation, but, according to Upper School Director Dean Chatterji, the real reason was the timing of the assembly. During the month of December, the school was dealing with a bout of poor decisions made online, which had impacted other members of the Pingry community. Dean Chatterji said, “Our highest concern is that the people in the community know that they are cared about, and during that time, people did not feel comfortable or cared about. We as a community could not be making fun of each other. We did not want people to be targets of public humor.”
Therefore, on the night before it was to take place, the assembly was cancelled. This upset many students, including the leaders of SAC. According to Dean Chatterji, the content of the assembly had no impact on the cancellation, and SAC was ready to present their hard work to the school. Ola Weber (VI), a leader of SAC, explained that she didn’t think it was handled in the best way, as she was told the night before the assembly. By that time, they had pulled several all nighters to be fully prepared with a finished master script. She believes that the school could have been more proactive in alerting the student leaders well before then. When asked about what the future of SAC looks like, Weber responded with “It’s concerning, we have to be really careful with our future content. We are not going to be able to make any jokes because we are afraid it will hurt people’s feelings. But the point of SAC is to make people laugh.”
In regards to the holiday assembly, the content will be scrapped because it was mostly holiday focused. Even so, the club is pushing onwards and beginning to prepare for their next performance, which will be the spring assembly. Hopefully, SAC will remain an important part of the Pingry community because of the joy and humor it brings to the student body.
By Vicky Gu (VI), Meghan Durkin (V), and Eva Schiller (V)
On Friday, January 31, Form V and VI students attended Pingry’s annual Career Day, in which they were able to interact with a wide variety of Pingry alumni and gain insight into future career options.
The event began with a keynote presentation by Dr. Jennifer Weiss ‘89, who spoke to students about her unique position as one of the few women who specializes in orthopedic surgery. After the keynote, students dispersed and were able to attend three career panels––two chosen before the event, and one that the student could decide that morning. Each panel was led by two or three Pingry alumni involved in a specific career––among the careers featured were law, media and communications, and medicine. Students had the opportunity to ask the alumni questions about their education, career paths, and projects, as well as general life questions.
At the end of the school day, after speaking about her profession, talking to students, and participating in numerous panels, Dr. Weiss was interviewed by the Pingry Record Staff. The following are excerpts from our conversation.
How did Pingry prepare you for the world of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine?
I found Pingry to be more rigorous than college and medical school. My teachers [Mr. Lavalette, Mr. Grant] took an interest in where I thought my limits were, and pushed me past my limits. It is a place where I went from being a shy rule-follower to being proud.
How did you become interested in orthopedic surgery/sports medicine?
My dad was an orthopedic surgeon. Then, I had a funny route: as I got older, my dad was really excited about me being an orthopedic surgeon, so I got really unexcited about being an orthopedic surgeon. But, when I did my orthopedic rotation, I fell in love with it.
What attracted you to a male-dominated specialty?
I was very comfortable with a group of my friends who were boys from a very early age. I believe that I grew up in a bantering environment, so when I came into the world of orthopedics, not as my father’s daughter, but as a medical student, I was comfortable with the way people spoke to each other. I fell in love with it socially.
What do you think was the most challenging part in your entire career path?
It was my second year of being a resident. The newness had worn off. It’s like when you’re going on a long run, the middle miles are the most tiring. The second year, I thought, is this ever going to be over? The fatigue set in mentally and physically.
What is the biggest challenge you face on a day-to-day basis?
I struggle with maintaining perspective of how privileged I am to have a healthy family, to have a job that I love, and that I can send my kids to a good school. I still get lost in the weeds because I want everything to be better and more perfect.
How have you balanced your family life with your professional life? What was it like when you first had children?
I like the phrase work-life integration. I brought my kids with me today, and I will try to bring one of my three kids to each meeting with me. My son mountain bikes with me. Lila will do her homework, and I’ll be in the room on my computer next to her.
What would you like to tell the greater Pingry community?
I want the people in this community to know how the Pingry family and the alumni network is extensive. People are open with their time and hearts through this connection. It’s gonna be there for you.
By Meghan Durkin (V)
It’s February 1979. The phone rings. The clock reads 3 a.m. as my grandfather holds it up to his ear. It’s 11:30 a.m. in Iran, where the Shah, Mohammad Raza Pahlavi, had fled in response to insurgency a month earlier. At the time, my grandfather was working for American Bell International, an AT&T subsidiary tasked with facilitating the improvement of telephone and communication systems in Iran. However, with the overthrow of Pahlavi and the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, AT&T’s project ceased. Over the next few weeks, my grandfather, who handled insurance for the company, worked to repossess valuables left by AT&T employees, who were forced to leave their apartments in Iran following the fall of the Shah. After finding where workers had left clothing, jewelry, pets, and more, my grandfather transferred that information to employees still in Iran, in hopes of reclaiming their belongings.
Prior to the winter of 1979, during the height of AT&T’s project in Iran, U.S. relations with the country were bolstered. The pro-Western policies of Pahlavi fit American economic interests, specifically in regards to the oil industry. However, to many Iranians, the Shah’s policies felt repressive and tyrannical. The “White Revolution,” a number of reforms established by Pahlavi in the early 1960s, implemented land redistribution, and the expansion of women’s rights. These policies were quickly met with popular dissent, as the poor found little relief. By the end of the Shah’s reign, the U.S. appeared to support a leader unpopular with his own people. Once Pahlavi fled, his favorable relations with the U.S. seemed to continue, much to the resentment of Iranians. U.S. President Jimmy Carter went so far as to allow Pahlavi into the U.S. to receive cancer treatment.
In November of 1979, in retaliation for Carter’s action, Iranian students took 66 Americans hostage at the U.S Embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran. The crisis, which lasted 344 days but ultimately ended in the safe return of the hostages, began a long history of strained relations between the U.S. and Iran.
These historic tensions were in the spotlight this January, when President Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. After the strike, Trump threatened to carry out further attacks. On Twitter, he referred back to the 1979 crisis, noting that the 52 Iranian sites that had been identified as targets represented “the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago.” Many Iranians, who considered Soleimani a hero, were quick to declare revenge and violence against the U.S. However, President Trump and his administration have continued to justify the act as a preemptive attack against a supposed plan of Soleimani to strike a U.S. embassy.
Over 40 years after the overthrow of the Shah and the consequent American hostage crisis, U.S.-Iran relations seem rockier than ever. Under President Obama in 2013, the countries attempted reconciliation through the Iran Nuclear Deal, which outlined that Iran would restrict their nuclear activities. In 2018, however, President Trump abandoned the plan, and the two countries have faced growing tension and subsequent violence over the past few years. Now, after Soleimani’s death, there seems to be no end in sight.
Thus, the question remains: is compromise between the U.S. and Iran possible? Is an amicable relationship on the horizon, or will we continue towards aggression and animosity? To me, the two countries have grown too divisive to ever find a real compromise, and the U.S. does not have a compelling reason to concede to the Iranian government. When President George W. Bush coined Iran one-third of the “axis of evil,” it was clear the United States viewed the country’s regime as radical and dangerous; the government has been accused of supporting terrorism and seeking to bolster weapons of mass destruction. Thus, our government doesn’t owe the Iranian government diplomacy, but it does have a responsibility to support the Iranian people. As a result of economic sanctions placed on Iran in 2018, its people have faced an economic recession, rising prices, and stagnant economic growth. As innocent people suffer, the U.S. government seeks to break a regime, without thinking of the consequences for the average citizen. So, while I believe I will never see a time like my grandfather’s, where the United States and Iran came together for economic gain, I do believe it’s possible for our government to protect itself against Iranian threats while still treating the Iranian people humanely.