Category Archives: News

The Little Prince: Book & Movie Review by Isabelle Rideout

The Little Prince: Book and Movie Review by Isabelle Rideout

 

Friday evening, while many students went to see Endgame, I saw a very different movie: The Little Prince (2015) on Netflix. This was a follow up to my family’s reading of the classic novel of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry over break. On Saturday, we subsequently watched Invisible Essence: The Little Prince (2018), a analysis of the story.

 

For those don’t know, Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince is a classic, universally beloved novel originally published in 1943, during the German occupation of France. It wasn’t published in Saint-Exupéry’s native France until 1946. The book, which tells the story of the little prince of asteroid B-612 and his journey through the voice of a lost aviator that encounters him in the Sahara, has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects, second only to the Bible. (Some claim Pinocchio has been translated more, but no one can give concrete evidence.)

 

The Little Prince explore themes of growing up and becoming fascinated with “matters of consequence.” When I was very young I read the book, but I didn’t understand it very well. This time, I understood the themes more and the of loss of childhood whimsy that comes with becoming an adult. There are also themes on what it means to be one’s friend. I only felt mildly moved by the book, until the end, which I can only describe by saying that there is a sort of sad poetry to it.

 

The 2015 movie adaptation is less an adaptation and more a continuation. The lost aviator is an old man who befriends a young girl and tells her the story of the little prince. The animation style differs between the little prince’s story and the main story. They live in a caricature of a world, where everything is focused on efficiency and “matters of consequence.” Sometimes we hear a radio broadcast in the background, which has lines taken directly from the book. The little girl, who is never named, is preparing the attended Werth academy, which is named after Léon Werth, who the book is dedicated to. The first half is a moving story, before the girl bonks her head and we descend into a madcap adventure that is most likely a dream. I find that it has a bit too much continuity for a dream, but is absurd enough. The ending certifies its place as a worthy tribute to the book.

 

Invisible Essence: The Little Prince focuses mainly on Saint-Exupéry’s life and inspiration for the book. Saint-Exupéry was an avid aviator, and worked for Aéropostale. The movie touches upon the fact that the rose is the only female character in the book, but isn’t representative of Saint-Exupéry’s view on all women, just one: Consuelo, his wife.

 

Saint-Exupéry was lost at sea after departing from Corsica on July 31, 1944. Remains of his plane have since been discovered. Le Petit Prince remains a classic beloved worldwide, and I recommend it to my classmates.

People Opposed to GMOs Know the Least About Science by Isabelle Rideout

People Opposed to GMOs Know the Least About Science by Isabelle Rideout

 

Back in January, a peer-reviewed study published in Nature, an extremely high profile scientific journal, proclaimed that people opposed to GMOs know the least about science – but think they know the most. While this is nearly a month old, I thought this was interesting enough to write about in The Orange and Black, and seeing as no one else had written about it, I decided to.

 

But before talking about the study’s findings, let’s review what GMOs are. Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, or organisms that have been genetically engineered are living things that scientists have changed DNA in. The vast majority of people are fearful of this new technology, despite 80% of scientists proclaiming it safe. Slate announced that the case against GMOs is “full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies.” Still, many people aren’t ready to accept this new tool, especially when it reaches their dinner table.

 

NPR reported that the study asked 2,000 US and European adults about their opinions on GMO foods, how well they thought they understand the science behind GMOs, and an assortment of true/false questions of general scientific knowledge and genetics. The questions were basic science stuff, like if the center of the earth is hot or cold. There were also questions on genetics, like if a non-genetically modified tomato has genes.

 

The study concluded that those most strongly opposed to GMOs know the least about science, but think they know the most. Sydney Scott, a marketing professor at one of the schools that ran the study says, “We have to get people to recognize gaps in their knowledge before we try to teach them new things and have a meaningful discussion.”

 

This effect of thinking one knows a lot, but knowing the least in actuality seems similar to the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which incompetent people think they are super competent. The explanation behind this is that unskilled people lack the skill necessary to evaluate their own skill.

 

In short, understanding science isn’t just about passing science class. It’s about understanding the world around us and having enough knowledge to make good choices on important issues. Paying attention during 7th grade genetics will help you understand what that “Non GMO” sticker really means.

Peaceful Protesters Disturb the Peace by Kally Proctor

Come on! Hurry up! How long is this gonna take?

 

This past week, I went to London for spring break. During my stay, many unanticipated interruptions popped up while I was traveling around London, like the one shown above. These disruptions often resulted in blockages for hours, throwing off many tourist’s, and Londoner’s, busy schedules.

 

It turns out these disruptions weren’t the result of an accidental jam of foot-traffic, but actually a carefully planned event, made possible by a well organized group of climate change activists called the “Extinction Rebellion” who generally resided in London, and were here to cause a big commotion for the issue. The Extinction Rebellion’s main goal, is protesting the British government’s “failure to tackle the causes of climate change,” and rebelling until they do something about it. For a time period reported by some lead activists as two weeks (starting Monday, April 20th), the protesters have rampaged over London, creating “pop-up” blockages on major roadways often to busy tourist attractions.

 

At one point during my trip, we were on a bus bound for one of London’s numerous tourist attractions, and we happened to arrive at Piccadilly Circus just as the activists decided to settle down and block the whole road. (Piccadilly Circus is one of London’s busiest crossroads, known for its bright e-billboards, sort of like Times Square in New York). If we had arrived just a few minutes earlier, and we would have been past them and slowly but surely on our way. But as fate would have it, approximately 100 or so activists decided to plop down in the road just front of us, soon before our arrival.

 

And what exactly did the activists do? Well, after the initial action died down (I saw a smoke bomb being set off!) some held signs saying things about our climate change problem, while others simply sat on the road and lounged around chatting and munching on food supplied by supportive Hare Krishna’s (a local food truck that stopped by the square).

 

The protesters seemed very relaxed and happy, sitting and mingling in the middle of the street, blocking all traffic. As it turns out, this scene was repeated at key tourist and commercial spots across London throughout the week, and by most accounts into next week, and possibly even after that.

 

What about the British police? Surely they would do something about the disruption. Well, despite more than 400 reported arrests through Thursday, the police didn’t seem in any kind of hurry to prevent future disruptions or clear out the currant blockers. In fact, according to one senior officer, their protocol was to warn the activists twice and then ultimately take action by forcibly removing and arresting them.

The “problem” is that the police have been very relaxed here: we’re talking hours and hours from from the first blocking until the police actually remove anyone. It seems like the first warning doesn’t come right away, and the wait time between that warning, the second warning, and any direct police action is hours, not minutes.

 

Most of the time, the police stand around chatting and just watching the peaceful, but disruptive scene in front of them. The police strategy seems to be to prevent violence by allowing the disruption to continue. And, obviously, they’d prefer to avoid having to make arrests, because it takes four officers to remove and arrest each protester.

 

But, you have to wonder whether the police couldn’t have achieved the same peaceful result while acting more quickly, avoiding such prolonged disruption. The cost, which has been reported to have been hundreds of millions of British Pounds, which is significantly more than dollars, and many wasted hours stuck in traffic.

 

For us (meaning my family and I) the cost was “only” about 90 minutes of precious lost sightseeing time, and an additional £14.90 pounds for the subway tickets to get away. When you multiply that times hundreds of thousands of people and add in other factors (like missed food and other important commercial deliveries), and the Extinction Rebellion has actually been very effective at making an impact. And, despite all the arrests that have been made, the activists seem to be getting stronger and more organized still, perhaps strengthened by replacements or perked up by the constant local and international news coverage of their activities — which seems to be their primary objective.

 

But when will it end? Well, my family and I have already come and gone, so for us, it’s over. But for London’s residents and future tourists, it is still unknown. Recent announcements by some of the leaders of Extinction Rebellion have implied (and sometimes outright said) that they will “escalate their civil disobedience campaign if the British government doesn’t step up action against climate change.”

 

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

Questionably Musical by Kally Proctor

Twang…bong…plink…screech…

 

Whether it’s classical, rock, jazz, or pop, most of us probably enjoy listening to some kind of music. But for the majority of us, there will always be that one genre of music that we just don’t “get”.

 

Recently, I participated as a solo pianist in a recital at the 41st Seminar on Contemporary Music for the Young at the Rivers School Conservatory. The event constituted many different performances of contemporary classical music by middle and high school students. So, I not only had intimate exposure to my own piece, but I got to listen to all the other kids’ musical performances.

 

My takeaway is how uncomfortable so many of the pieces were. While some pieces were more “traditional” sounding, many of the pieces just made no sense to me. At one point, there was a boy who was playing a song where he would play one note and then stop for 30-ish second; I just sat there thinking: “What? This is music?”

 

While there’s a fine line between what people consider “classical” and “contemporary” music, the range can be huge. Stepping back, what I think most people think of as conventional classical music is music that is flowing and elegant, as contrasted with contemporary classical music which often sounds jarring and edgy. With conventional classical music, people may have preferences as it relates to composers and compositions, but most people tend to appreciate the melodic rhythms. With contemporary classical music, most people have to make more of a concerted effort to listen multiple times before they can come close to appreciating it. That’s a big difference.

 

So, how do we learn to appreciate contemporary classical music? While it may initially sound weird, awkward, and confusing, instead of thinking why would someone listen to this? try thinking with a more open mind: you might find yourself appreciating music you don’t initially understand.

 

My lesson is that with “new” genres of music that it can take repeated times for the right feeling to set in. While contemporary music doesn’t always sound the great the first time you hear it, its complexity and intricacy compels the listener to dig deeper into the meaning and listen for hidden melodies – if the listener is willing to make the effort and take the time. This discovery part is what makes contemporary classical music fun: it engages the listener into active discovery whereas with convention classical muse, the listener be more passive and just sit back and absorb.

 

So, next time you hear a particular piece of music that at first glance might seem awkward, might dislike, from my experience, it’s important to try to: be open, listen repeatedly, and look for emotional connections that might not initially be so obvious.

 

You may surprise yourself. I did.

A Titanic Anniversary Amid Hope for the Future

One-hundred-seven years ago this April 15th, the RMS Titanic sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg. Over fifteen hundred people lost their lives that evening. While life has changed dramatically since 1912, I believe there are still important lessons to be learned from this terrible tragedy, one that shook the world and broke a collective confidence in mankind.

We should never accept the arrogance of the Gilded Age to come back and blind us again. We should continue to depend on scientific analysis and fact-based thinking in all that we do. We should never divide ourselves by classes, treating people differently because of the color of their skin, the size of their bank account or their nation of origin. And we should never put profits over safety.

It is also important to mark how far we have come since April 1912. Women are now allowed to vote in the United States, the European nations have united to overcome the bloody struggles that plagued them throughout history, including the first half of the 20th century. Safety standards among sea-going vessels have dramatically improved, and travel itself has evolved to the point where flights across oceans are as routine as horse-pulled carriages used to be.

There will always be room for improvement and it is my hope that we here in the US continue to strive for a more perfect union, and that throughout the globe, to quote General Douglas MacArthur, “a better world will finally emerge from the blood and carnage of the past… a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice.”

I hope that the people who are able to reflect on the Titanic’s 200th anniversary will be able to say that these wishes have been fulfilled and that the world they live in has progressed even further than we here in 2019 had hoped.

Selected Haikus

Haikus are super coolish

School is super doomish

The car goes vroomish

-Anna Varney

 

How much can I fit

into a haiku

format oh no I’m out of

-Ella Moscoffian and Katelyn Chirayanth

 

Why do we do math

Math teachers feel my wrath

I really hate math

-Felix Kissell

 

North Carolina

South Carolina are states

that are United

-Cole Duffy

 

My name is Lula

I like cupcakes and pizza

Cupcakes are really great

-Lula Dunkelberg

 

I just sold my house

For three gallons of ice cream

Wish I had my house

-Maxim Rjanikov

 

The Pariplavi

The most amazing person

Angel of the world

-Pari Sontha & Emmie Williams

 

I broke my femur

Hospital gives whole wheat food

get me out of here.

-Cole Snyder

Junior Districts Auditions by Kally Proctor

Junior Districts Auditions

By: Kally Proctor

 

Nerves. A bundle of nerves. Excited, stressed, and worried. These emotions totally encapsulated what I’m sure everyone auditioning for Junior Districts felt. They had been practicing for weeks and months to prepare for this moment and it was finally here. Now, they would get to prepare themselves one final time before being judged, and figuring out whether it was all enough.

 

Last Saturday, kids from various towns along the Eastern side of the U.S. gathered together at Needham High School to audition for Junior Districts: a prestigious contest that accepts the best kids of their instrument and style. These kids had been preparing for this event for a while and they felt as ready as ever. Still, when we got there I cannot deny that we all felt (at least a bit) nervous to go on, but eventually we were lead to the practice rooms where we would be called to our audition.

 

But, of course, the anticipation of the thing is often worse than the thing itself, the auditions moved along smoothly, with students often saying “That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.” because of course, they had practiced it many times. Afterwards, students sighed in relief, laughed with friends over how they thought they did, and worried over results.

 

I overall, thought that this experience was fun, exciting, and a great way to bond with friends, and get feedback on my music (which would also be helpful for next year). I would definitely do it again.

 

Congratulations to those of you who made it into Junior Districts this year!

Seasonal poems by Janiya Walton

 

Winter brings cold,

Cold brings snow,

Snow falls down,

Oh oh oh,

Snowflakes appear,

Stick out your tongue,

And let it go.

 

The sun is out,

Summer is here,

Time to hit the beach,

And just swim it out.

 

When Fall is out you know what that means,

Time to rake,

Then jump it out.

Seven Fun Facts About Winter by Madison Ngai & Jordynn Lee

7 Fun Facts about Winter

  • In some places, during Winter it doesn’t snow at all
  • The Earth is closest to the sun during Winter
  • One cup of water equals half a gallon of snow
  • Most of the famous kids movies take place in Winter
  • Frost the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are related.
  • Most people don’t get sick during Winter
  • Snowflakes are different sizes, but not every snowflake is unique.