Op-Ed: A Homophobic Society?

Michael Sam

By Alex Hunter.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Canvass or The Seven Hills School.

On Sunday, February 16, 2014, former NBA player Jason Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. As a result, Collins became the first openly gay male athlete to play a game in any of North America’s four major professional sports. Furthermore, senior Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, SEC co-defensive player of the year, came out to The New York Times and ESPN earlier in February. As the highest profile athlete to be openly gay, Sam is preparing to revolutionize American sports. In a recent Sports Illustrated issue, Sam was featured on the cover and the text read “America Is Ready For Michael Sam.” I disagree. America is not ready for gay athletes in professional or collegiate sports.

Collins and Sam are amongst several athletes to address their homosexuality. Recently, other athletes such as WNBA star Brittney Griner and current MLS soccer player Robbie Rogers have publicly spoken about their homosexuality. In each of these cases, there has been a significant amount of media attention directed towards each athlete’s sexuality. The coverage itself is where the issue lies.

A person’s sexuality should not be a topic of national media debate. Frankly, the fact that Sam or Collins is gay is none of my concern nor should it be anyone’s. The fact that there is this much media attention directed at gay athletes contradicts the purpose of these athletes’ decision. Instead of passively acknowledging homosexual athletes, American news outlets continue to single them out.

Sexuality is one of the most prevalent taboos in professional sports. Racial diversity is widespread within every sport and racism is on the decline. The NFL is expected to institute a rule that states players would be penalized 15 yards for using the n-word on the field in the upcoming season. Other issues such as steroids in baseball and fan violence are arguably on the decline, although homophobia in sports still remains a pressing issue.

In the NFL last year, of the 1,696 players, not a single one of those players defined themselves as gay. Sam is projected to become the first openly gay football player to ever get drafted. While this is a major milestone, not only in the NFL but also in the entirety of professional sports, it is distressing that Sam’s announcement is coming in 2014, a year that has seen significant advances in national acceptance of homosexuality.

According to a study carried out by Gary J. Gates at the Williams Institute, adults that identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual comprise of 3.5% of the population. This would translate into about 59 NFL players who are gay, and even though this data is just an estimate, it does suggest an alarming question: are athletes not coming out because the NFL promotes a homophobic culture?

An even more damning testimony to homophobia in male professional sports is the periodic female athletes that come out. It is much more prevalent for women in professional sports to come out. While this might be because of the hypermasculine nature associated with male sports or because female sports are more accepting, I’m unsure and greatly perplexed. Billie Jean King, an openly gay woman and one of the most prolific female players, once said, “sports are a microcosm of society.” If athletes, male or female, are shying away from coming out then there is an appalling issue throughout America with homophobia.

While athletes such as Collins and Sam are paving the way for future progress, there is still an enormous amount of work that needs to occur in American sports and American media to be ready for homosexual athletes.

William Deresiewicz, Class of 2015 Commencement Speaker?

WD

By Clarke Waskowitz.

The academic rigor and intensity of Seven Hills is no secret. Proof of the high standards to which both students and faculty are held can be seen in the numerous acceptances to top-tier colleges, academic scholarships awarded to students, and recognition of excellence through the national level in a multitude of fields.

Regardless of the opinions on how things are done or the varying views of the School, it cannot be argued that Seven Hills is one of the top schools in the nation. However, the point as to why students continually push themselves to the breaking point to achieve excellence can and must be argued.

What really is the goal that students are striving to attain? Many administrators and parents would say that at Seven Hills students learn the building blocks to attain a successful and fulfilling life. In fact, many students themselves would say the same thing. And there is nothing wrong with wanting a life that is fulfilling. What’s wrong is what students are finding fulfillment in.

A standardized idea of success is being propagated to students in elite education systems, an idea that funnels everyone into the same mind frame. Students are taught to believe that by taking honors and Advanced Placement classes, stuffing their schedule full of extracurricular activities, studying for standardized tests, and shaping themselves into the perfect college applicant, they will attend a prestigious university. From there they will graduate, perhaps with honors, and go to graduate school and get a job at a well-known institution. Then comes a hefty salary and marriage and kids and the rest of your life played out happily in front of you. But when does this stop? When we all look around and realize that we are living in the same faux Victorian houses and all vacationing at the same New England beach and walking the same golden retriever past the same white picket fence? When we realize that we have all been brainwashed into thinking the same exact thing in the same exact way?

This is not to say that the type of life just described is in any way wrong. There is nothing erroneous with wanting this type of life. What is wrong is that students have been persuaded into thinking that this is the only version of life in which success can be attained. What is worse is that it is not the parents or the teachers or even the universities that are propagating this idea. It is the students themselves that have constructed this definition of success.

William Deresiewicz, while not necessarily a household name, is one of the leading contemporary writers and speakers challenging this single-mindedness of elite education. Graduating from Columbia University and teaching English at Yale, Deresiewicz is an expert when it comes to intelligent and ambitious students, having been one and having taught them. He understands the way they think, understands the pressures they experience, but most importantly, understands how to change them.

Deresiewicz’s essays “Solitude and Leadership” and “Disadvantages of an Elite Education” have been printed in the most prestigious publications: The Atlantic Monthly and The American Scholar. Progressive or traditional, young or old, philosophy majors or marines, students have found resonance and a companion in Deresiewicz’s writing. Deresiewicz does not single people out or ostracize. He recognizes the years of hard work put into participating in an elite education and does not expect students to drop out of college simply to make a statement. Deresiewicz’s message is simple and clear:

The system forgot to teach them [the students], along the way to the prestige admissions and the lucrative jobs, that the most important achievements can’t be measured by a letter or a number or a name. It forgot that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. (“Disadvantages of an Elite Education”)

Both of Deresiewicz’s popular essays are taught in Seven Hills’ Erich Schweikher 11 Honors English course. This year in particular, students have connected with Deresiewicz’s message and have been moved to question the way they think and the future of their education, so much so that several students have taken the initiative to begin talking to the Upper School administration about inviting William Deresiewicz to speak at the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2015.

The process of reserving such an accomplished writer for graduation is daunting and filled with obstacles. Seven Hills has traditionally invited speakers with personal connections to the school, connections that have given graduating classes impressive speakers at a significantly less impressive price. The higher cost and the necessity of inviting Deresiewicz a year in advance due to his many obligations are two important aspects that break tradition. Administration also voiced concern that inviting a well-known speaker would set a lofty and possibly unrealistic precedent for later graduating classes.

However, the willingness of a resounding number of juniors to help raise every needed dollar is an example of the affect that Deresiewicz’s writing has had on this segment of the student body. Students working hard to host an incredibly accomplished and educated individual for their own graduation, an act that requires additional planning and dedication, could hardly be seen as setting a negative precedent for future classes. Students are taking initiative to fight for something they care about, to break tradition, and to make an impact. They are taking a risk, something that happens all too infrequently at Seven Hills.

A number of 11 Honors students have expressed a burning desire to share what William Deresiewicz has taught them. What cannot be overlooked is that this desire warranted a response from Deresiewicz (who usually only speaks at the top colleges and universities the country, never high schools), who even offered to lower his customary price tag to make it more feasible:

Dear Clarke,

You’ve made my day, maybe my week. You’re not the first person to write in this way, but it’s rare for me to get a letter from a high school (as opposed to college) student, still less one this eloquent or that speaks about the effect my work has had not only on the writer but on her peers.

The fact that students are not daunted by the prospect of working against the system and against traditions already shows the effect this writer has had. What these students are working for is so much greater than simply getting the graduation speaker they want. They are fighting for the chance to share this newfound universally applicable wisdom with their friends and family, to share the knowledge that has so profoundly affected them in the hopes that others may reap the same benefits.

 

Deresiewicz, William. “Disadvantages of an Elite Education.” The American Scholar. N.p., 2008. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. <http://theamericanscholar.org/the-disadvantages-of-an-elite-education/#.Uvu-wfZsjq4>

 

“Disadvantages of an Elite Education”: http://theamericanscholar.org/the-disadvantages-of-an-elite-education/#.Uvu-wfZsjq4

“Solitude and Leadership”: http://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/#.UvvE6PZsjq4

 

 

It is Worth It: An Open Letter To Canvass

Seven Hills

By Claudia Fernandez.

Recently, a fellow student raised concerns about the value of a Seven Hills education. His concerns are, no doubt, shared by most of his peers, particularly those who struggle through challenging classes only to see their GPAs take a hit. The argument he makes is that while a rigorous curriculum is an important factor for admission into college, by signing up for challenging courses at Seven Hills students are “predetermining [their] struggles and inadequacies from the start.” The article ultimately boils down to one striking question: is Seven Hills worth it?

My answer is straightforward, and it comes without hesitation. Yes, Seven Hills is worth it.

While simply looking at where Seven Hills graduates matriculate disproves the idea that successful Seven Hills students are denied the chance to attend elite, outstanding colleges, correcting the assumptions made in the article is not the point of this response. I’m writing because I am concerned with how my classmates define “success” and “the right college.” I find, especially as a junior, that we are more aware of our transcripts and the image we are trying to cultivate to get into the “best” schools. We see high school solely as a trampoline for jumping into college. We think we need to trim our personalities into exactly what colleges want, because we believe that success and happiness and intelligence are somehow directly proportional to GPAs and SATs.

High school should not be about getting into college; it should be about high school. High school provides an opportunity to be introduced to a variety of disciplines and topics, some of which we may have a passion for, some of which we hate but we study them because they are required and because, in the tradition of liberal arts, they are foundational. Taking challenging courses should not be about impressing colleges, or creating a modified, more appealing version of ourselves that simply isn’t real. Those courses are offered because they can feed intense passion that students may have for a subject; they give us an opportunity to go more in depth and to learn more than we ordinarily would. We are extremely lucky to be able to attend a school like Seven Hills, and, while it has its flaws (all schools do), just the mere chance to learn amongst such a great student body and faculty should be enough for any student who is interested in a true education.

Yes, college is important. For our generation, given the instability of the national and global economy, this is especially true. We haven’t even finished high school (some of us have just begun) and we can already anticipate the unpleasant job market we will be entering, so the concern that many students have about college is understandable. If going to an elite university ensures that we will find employment in the future, then it is natural for us to worry so much during the college application process.

A misunderstanding among Seven Hills students, however, is that taking Honors or AP courses at a school with lower academic standards gives students a better shot at getting into an elite college, since theoretically our grades would be much higher. The Seven Hills School profile that is sent to colleges includes a matriculation list, average SAT/ACT/AP scores, and course offerings/requirements that could convince any college admissions officer that Seven Hills is not just another average school, where “effort” earns you an A and AP classes are taught strictly for the test. Our school prepares us for the rigor of college, and, if this is hard to see now, it will be clear in the future. When we see students at college who cannot articulate their ideas at the same level as us, we will realize that Seven Hills was worth it. When, at college, we will be some of the few students who will know how to cope with rigorous courses and low grades, and the value of Seven Hills will be obvious. It is not absurd that we have to work hard to get accepted into elite colleges (as is implied by the term “elite”); high schoolers nowadays are expected to spend countless hours each week building up their transcript and resume, which begs the question of whether our eventual “applications” are  even true to ourselves at all. Perhaps we should focus more on the education we are receiving rather than the one we hope to receive in college or graduate school. Perhaps we should stop basing every waking minute of our lives contriving an ideal student with perfect grades and perfect scores and perfect essays and perfect athletic skills and perfect style and perfect friends. This person doesn’t exist.  And to begin with, it’s an absolutely artificial goal.

The article written by Alex Hunter (11) accurately explains that, “Seven Hills rests upon a superior academic level in comparison to the majority of schools, public or private, in Cincinnati.” What follows this statement, however, is astonishing to me: “in the great scheme of things it doesn’t really matter.”  It is this statement that I disagree with the most. It does matter. Learning for learning’s sake, and not just to race through AP curricula, matters. Forming an exceptional ability to communicate both with your peers and your teachers matters. Having the opportunity to question your teachers, to voice your concerns, and to learn what you are most passionate about at a deeper level, matters. We have been given a chance to learn more – and to learn more creatively – than the majority of students our age, and that is certainly “worth it.” All of these opportunities, many which are unique to Seven Hills, foster a type of individual thinking that is not taught at other schools. How could a student conscious of Seven Hills’ unique environment contemplate a change in schools, knowing always in the back of his or her mind that a more holistic, in-depth education is not available elsewhere?

Snow Day Establishes A Need For Technology

GK Article

By George Karamanoukian.

7:30 am, Wednesday February 5th. I wake up to my mother telling me there is a 1-hour delay. I sadly get up, still groggy, and begin my day by checking my phone. I check Twitter to see how everyone is reacting and am surprised to see a few tweets saying that school is actually closed with a companion picture of the Seven Hills website. Thinking it was a joke, I texted three of my friends to make sure. One responded telling me to check the Seven Hills Facebook page, saying it is more reliable. Within the time it takes for me to check the official Facebook page, which would bear the same news as Twitter, the other two people I texted responded that school was closed.

However, where was the second call amongst all of this confusion to declare it a snow day? Upon reading more Facebook posts, I learned that the company of the call system that the School uses was having trouble getting calls out. In fact, I was close to walking out the door and leaving for school until I read the Facebook page. Further into my morning, many other people were posting on Facebook and Twitter as well as texting friends to ask, confirm, and then rejoice.

So why does this matter? This instance is showing us, for the first time, a true necessity for technology within the school community. The question has been raised on the success of the iPads and apparent dislike for the presence of technology in the school has been felt before, such as the unreliability of the wikis last year. Now, technology seems to have some actual value. The social networks and mobile devices that we have in our lives can serve to make students aware of school delays, closings, and other last minute schedule changes. Most importantly, they can better prevent students from risking their lives on treacherous roads. If it hadn’t been for Facebook and Twitter many students would have arrived at Seven Hills to locked doors.

I again raise the question, where was the call home in all of this? This instance not only shows how technology is beneficial for mass communication, but it also shows that it is better and more reliable than the calls and e-mails the school sends out.

I am not moving to see a complete change in heart in how the school and its community view technology, but it must be acknowledged that on this morning mobile technology and social networks outperformed the call center.

It seems as though this New Year may hold a change in the school with regards to technology, if not in the classroom, certainly in how the school communicates to its families and faculty. It cannot be denied that technology is coming to have a place in the school, and if it saves me a few extra hours of shut-eye and keeps me safe and off icy roads, then I have no complaints.

A Response to “Is Seven Hills Worth It?”

Faber_U

By Lara Magdzinski.

The recent article, “Is Seven Hills Worth It?” is a thought-provoking and well-written piece about the rigors of Seven Hills and their relation to students’ post-secondary prospects.  The piece brought some very interesting points to the debate, all of which are worth exploring, and my aim is not to dismiss or belittle these in any way.  Nonetheless, I would like to add my own opinion and perspectives on the matter as a former college admissions professional, a current college counselor, and an avid believer in the Seven Hills way.

I would contend, on the contrary to the argument presented in the article, that it is precisely the intense rigor of Seven Hills that, on the one hand, prepares its students for success at first-class post-secondary institutions and, on the other hand, opens doors to access these.  As an example, allow me to share a short backstory on my initial introduction to Seven Hills, which happened long before I took on my present role.

I first learned of The Seven Hills School about 5 years ago, when I was working as a Graduate Assistant and application “reader” in the Undergraduate Admissions Office at a prestigious research university.  Assigned to a team responsible for recruitment of and admissions review for the state of Ohio, among others, it was our responsibility to familiarize ourselves as best possible with the state, its communities and, in particular, its schools.  The rationale?  When considering applicants, school context was always key –- as it was in my subsequent admissions office and as it is, I assure you, in all the admissions offices of the Ivy League and myriad other colleges across the country.  I came to know Seven Hills then as I continue to view it now: as a highly rigorous, academically focused institution where students are motivated to learn and where teachers challenge these students to reach their full potential.  Along with this came the understanding that, at Seven Hills, top grades are not awarded lavishly and that, unlike many other schools, Honors and Advanced Placement courses retain the gravitas and the rigor they were intended to have.

Seven Hills students were considered against this backdrop and this backdrop alone.  In my time in the admissions profession, I have witnessed first-hand Seven Hills students being considered favorably in the admissions process with GPAs well below those expected from students of many other schools, and for precisely this reason.  In other words, to argue that the role of school context in the admissions process is somehow exaggerated is simply untrue.

To go beyond casual assertions, I offer some factual proof in the form of admissions statistics.  Thanks in part to Naviance, the web-based program we use to manage many aspects of the college search, Seven Hills does an excellent job of tracking historical data regarding the admissions process and how our students have fared.  Using this data, we can access information regarding the average GPA for Seven Hills students admitted to Ivy League schools and the other elite institutions referenced in the article.  A search of publicized college admissions data can also provide us with information on the average GPA of all students, across the applicant pool, admitted to these same institutions.  A comparison of these two data sets is telling.  To highlight a few:

Princeton University

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 4.06

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.36

Harvard

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 4.16

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.31

Northwestern University

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 4.07

Overall average admitted GPA:  4.25

Cornell University

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 3.91

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.21

University of Chicago

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 4.03

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.23

Williams College

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 3.86

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.17

Stanford University

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 4.1

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.28

University of Pennsylvania

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 4.1

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.23

MIT

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 4.08

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.33

Tufts

Seven Hills average admitted GPA: 3.88

Overall average admitted GPA: 4.18

Furthermore, I am quite sure this trend continues with many, if not all, other colleges to which our students apply – from the top-tiered universities to small liberal arts colleges to large state schools and everything in between – perhaps even in a more pronounced way than the examples listed here.

On a different note, it is quite correct that the majority of students who graduate from Seven Hills are not going on to attend Ivy League institutions.  The reason behind this, however, has much more to do with today’s college admissions landscape than it does with Seven Hills’ academic intensity and corresponding grade deflation to which the article addresses.  To say that the admissions landscape is highly competitive, in particular at Ivy League and similar institutions, is a gross understatement.

In recent years, acceptance rates at these institutions, and numerous others of every selectivity level, have realized significant drops in the percentage of applicants accepted.  Many of these, in fact, now report single-digit acceptance rates: Harvard – 5.8%, Yale – 6.72%, Columbia – 6.89%, Princeton – 7.29%, Stanford – 5.69%, Brown – 9.2%, University of Chicago – 8.8%, and MIT – 8.2%.   With statistics like these, is it really any wonder that Ivy League acceptances are few and far between, regardless of school, curriculum chosen, grades and/or test scores?  With a current senior class of 62 students, odds like these would suggest that (ignoring the actual admissions profile of these students) we would be lucky to see 3-4 students accepted to Harvard.  In truth, though, the number of students in a given class to apply to Ivy League institutions is exceedingly small; in turn, the fact that we do see a number of Ivy and comparable acceptances each year is actually quite impressive.

Beyond this, the assertion that comparable schools in our area are sending kids to the Ivy League and/or other elite institutions at rates that surpass or far surpass those of Seven Hills does not hold up.  In fact, in many cases Seven Hills is sending as many, and often more, students to these colleges.  Take, for example, Cincinnati Country Day School, a peer school that our students view as an equally rigorous institution.  A comparison of CCD’s 2009-2013 matriculation statistics to our own, as reported in each school’s profile, indicates that Seven Hills has actually had a greater number of students enroll at the following schools: Columbia, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Duke, University of Chicago, Georgetown, Washington University in St. Louis, Middlebury, Pomona, and many more.  And for others still, the numbers are frankly quite comparable if not identical.

Although I won’t jump into a lengthy discussion of the matter here, this does bring me to raise another question – “But what does it matter?”  Yes, Seven Hills does send students to Ivy League and other “big name” elite institutions.  But just as importantly, Seven Hills graduates also attend an impressive variety of institutions that might not fit this bill.  Rather than a result of some kind of deficiency or unreasonable grading policy, I contend that this is something much different –- the result of one of Seven Hills’ most impressive strengths and successes.  Specifically, college counseling here (and the educational philosophy as a whole) is defined by and operates under the very valid notion that “fit” should be first and foremost in the college application and selection process, much more so than a college’s position on some rankings list or how well its name might look on a bumper sticker.

Seven Hills is not a factory designed for the sole purpose of gaining admissions to the Ivy League.  However, I would contend that it is an outstanding academic institution that prepares its students extraordinarily well for post-graduate success (and beyond) at whichever college or university they ultimately attend –- be it an Ivy or Ivy-esque institution or any of the countless other excellent, best-fit institutions they matriculate.  Does this not, in and of itself, merit a resounding “yes” to your question, “Is Seven Hills Worth It?”

 

If you would like to read more articles related to this, here are some archives that you may enjoy:

“The Best and the Brightest, at What Cost” By Katherine King (13).

Alumna Responds to “The Best and the Brightest, at What Cost” By Broti Gupta (12).

Is It Worth It?

Seven Hills

By Alex Hunter.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Canvass or The Seven Hills School.

Year by year, graduating class by graduating class, a majority of Seven Hills Seniors are denied the opportunity to attend Ivy League colleges. The reason: Seven Hills’ education system is too rigorous and unbearable for its students to uphold desirable grades. What this ultimately boils down to is that Seven Hills is not a high school where students graduate and go forth to attend elite colleges; Seven Hills is a school in which students receive an Ivy League education at the high school level.

Admissions officers during every college visit reiterate the same message: challenge yourself at your school by taking a rigorous course load. However, at Seven Hills, by enrolling in the uppermost courses one is predetermining his struggles and inadequacies from the start. Advanced Placement (AP) courses and Honors courses should be challenging as their name would insinuate, but there is a line when a course becomes too agonizing for its students. Frankly, Seven Hills crossed this line a long time ago. Students should not be receiving less than five hours of sleep on a regular basis because they are attempting to cram their brain with facts regarding solids of revolutions or thermochemistry. Certain upper level classes at Seven Hills have become notorious for their immense workload and their ability to significantly lower students’ GPA’s. Moreover, students that are experiencing success in these courses should be students that attend America’s most elite colleges, because they are excelling in some of the most difficult classes in the state. But, for the majority of the student body, these courses inevitably lead to a meager transcript, and as a result students are frequently being deferred from the most selective of colleges.

However, at other high schools in Cincinnati, these exact same courses are being offered to students, and grades in such courses are significantly better. The tacit and accepted justification for this issue at Seven Hills is that Seven Hills students score well on the AP exam or that other schools aren’t of equal academic standards. While Seven Hills students do score well on the AP Exams, the fundamental problem is that these exams are and will always be a large stack of paper. The overarching issue with the AP exams is that anyone can prepare for a test as long as they have the proper materials, and colleges understand that. For that reason, the AP exams are beginning to become worthless as they do not help you get into college, and they rarely place you out of college-level classes once you are there. Therefore, the grades students receive in AP classes, and that appear on a transcript, greatly outweigh the score they receive on the AP exam, and that is one of the main issues at Seven Hills.

The other justification for lower grades at Seven Hills is the idea that Seven Hills rests upon a superior academic level in comparison to the majority of schools, public or private, in Cincinnati. While this is true, in the great scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. Of course, Seven Hills sends a “School Profile” to colleges that depicts the rigor of our School, backed up by AP exams and scores. This description can only mean so much. There is a notion surrounding Seven Hills that colleges know of Seven Hills’ academic prowess and that Seven Hills students are given more leeway in terms of their grades. This idea that casually floats amongst the upperclassman is simply incorrect. Other schools such as Ursuline Academy or Walnut Hills might not be as “challenging” as Seven Hills, but from an admissions standpoint an A in any course at either of those schools appears to be much more desirable than a B in an equivalent course from Seven Hills, despite the difference in academic difficulty. Furthermore, this conundrum proves to be even more harmful for students who are excelling in the College Preparatory (CP) level classes at Seven Hills. For students who are receiving A’s in CP courses, they are faced with a concerning dilemma. If they remain in CP classes they will be docked by colleges for not taking a challenging course load. However, if these students decide to challenge themselves and take AP and Honors level courses then they are destined for the unpleasant grind and tedium just to get by with a C.

Why is Seven Hills worth it then? A plethora of Seven Hills students, even a majority of students not in the highest level courses, could obtain a GPA of Ivy League desire at any other private or public school in Cincinnati while still taking upper level courses. But, at Seven Hills, by enrolling in the upper level courses a student is likely to obtain an unacceptable GPA in the perspective of elite colleges. So, prospective students and current students at Seven Hills have this to consider: do they remain at Seven Hills where they are challenged to their limits everyday even though it might mean not attending an elite college, or do they possibly look somewhere else where they can comfortably manage their high school career with a promising college education in the near future?

 

If you would like to read more articles related to this, here are some archives that you may enjoy:

“The Best and the Brightest, at What Cost” By Katherine King (13).

Alumna Responds to “The Best and the Brightest, at What Cost” By Broti Gupta (12).

OP-ED: The Persisting Tardiness of the Mason Bus

Former Mason Schools Transportation Supervisor Carole Adams stands in front of a few of school buses for the

By Angie Li.

Former Mason Schools Transportation Supervisor, Carole Adams, stands in front of the school buses in service for the Mason City Schools. Photo courtesy of http://masonbuzz.com/2011/01/17/295/.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Canvass or The Seven Hills School.

The school bus known to Seven Hills students and faculty members as the infamous “Mason Bus” holds a well-deserved reputation of being unfashionably late to school every morning. The bus is provided by Mason City Schools to allow Seven Hills students living in Mason a way of getting to and from school. Transportation is a main concern of any parent with a child at Seven Hills who may not be able to personally drive their child in the morning or afternoon for a variety of reasons. Especially for working parents who may live farther away from the school, a lack of adequate transportation could mean the difference between choosing Seven Hills or a local public school. For example, when my parents decided to send me to Seven Hills, an important factor in their decision was the fact that there was a bus that relieved them of the major problem of physically sending me to school. Of course, transportation is not a complete deal-breaker because since Seven Hills is such a good school many parents are willing to make sacrifices and go through a little trouble getting their children to school. However, the inadequate transportation from Mason is unfortunate issue, especially because Seven Hills has absolutely no control over the Mason Bus.

The question often asked surrounding this issue is who does have control over the Mason Bus? Clearly, not the families who depend on the bus every day. Multiple complaints have been filed to the transportation department of Mason City Schools, but nothing has been done so far. According to students who ride the Mason Bus in the morning, the bus does not leave the transfer point until 7:30 AM. School starts at exactly 8:10 AM, giving the bus only forty minutes to drive 13.0 miles in heavily congested traffic. As someone who lives in Mason, if I am not already on I-71 South by 7:20 AM, I already have a fifty-percent chance of being late, depending on the traffic. It therefore comes as no surprise that students riding the Mason Bus are almost always about ten minutes late to school each morning. In previous years, being ten minutes late was annoying, because it meant missing assemblies and hearing announcements about school activities.

However, with the new block schedule implemented this year, being late ten minutes means missing the first ten minutes of a first bell class. The first ten minutes of class are extremely important because that is usually when homework is reviewed, when teachers give the class instructions about what they will be doing for the rest of class, or even when quizzes might be given over the previous night’s reading. A student walking into a class ten minutes late is not only detrimental to the tardy student’s education, but it also affects the focus of the rest of the class. Such an alarming issue has raised many concerns amongst parents, who have tried to have changes made to the bus schedule, but to no avail. The Mason Bus is currently unable to leave the transfer point earlier because Bus 67, the bus that makes the drive to Seven Hills, also transports Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (CHCA) students in the morning. The bus cannot leave until the CHCA student transfer bus arrives and the CHCA students get off of the bus going to Seven Hills.

Why not have the CHCA transfer bus arrive earlier so that Seven Hills students can get to school on time? According to the Director of Transportation, Carolyn J. Thornton, the answer may be that she has to “look at the efficiency for all of the students who ride the bus,” including the CHCA students who also use Mason City Schools services.

As well, the Mason Bus has changed its afternoon route as of this year. In previous years, it stopped at the Montgomery Rd Kroger in the afternoon, where a quick transfer was made for students needing a transfer bus. It was also where parents could pick up their children so that they would not have to wait until the bus dropped off the children at their homes one by one. And finally, it was where I and other licensed drivers parked our cars in the morning so that we could get off the bus in the afternoon and drive ourselves home. This year, the bus changed its transfer location to Cottell Park, a location that the bus does not stop at in the morning. I was confused by this change, so my mom emailed Mason City Schools and this was the reply:

Ms. Cao,

We changed the PM transfer location last year to Cottell Park.  It is less congested than Mason Montgomery Rd and the children are able to get home in a more timely fashion.

I understand that this is not convenient for your family, however I have to look at the efficiency for all of the students who ride the bus.

Several parents meet the bus at Cottell Park in the afternoon.

The only option I see is for your daughter to park her car at Cottell Park and have someone take her to Kroger to catch the bus in the morning.

I know this is not the answer you were looking for, but changing the route will impact all the students on the bus.

CJ

Carolyn J Thornton

Transportation Director

Mason City Schools

Although I was not happy with the response, I accepted the change because I thought that the change in the route might make it more convenient for the other students on the bus. However, according to bus-rider Chauyie Wei (11), she actually gets home later with the new bus route. “I used to get home around 4:05,” she said, “but now I get home around 4:15. That’s ten minutes later than last year.”

I agree with Carolyn J. Thornton to a certain extent. Changing the route will indeed impact all the students on the bus. I know that I personally feel the impact of the change made by the Mason City Schools. Now, the question that remains is: if a change is made in the current bus schedule, would it impact students on the bus for better or worse?

Of course, despite the difficulties presented by the Mason Bus, one must acknowledge that it is very appreciated for existing at all. By law, Mason City Schools is only required to take kids to other schools if they are within a thirty-minute radius of the closest Mason City School District school. A few years ago, this radius was officially tested for Seven Hills, and we were a few seconds over, so the Mason Bus almost stopped its services. It was not until a petition was made to the school district that the Mason Bus was allowed to continue making its runs. Additionally, it is important to note that Seven Hills is the school farthest away from Mason that uses the bus service provided by Mason City Schools. This means that all of the non-Seven Hills students actually get to school early, even though Seven Hills students usually arrive to school late. An earlier bus transfer in the morning would mean that students from many other schools, including CHCA, Liberty Bible Academy, and St. Margaret of York, would have to wake up earlier and arrive at school much earlier than they need to. The issue of the tardiness of the Mason Bus therefore does not have a simple solution. It will take the combined efforts and ideas of everyone to improve the system of transportation that allows private school students living in Mason to arrive at school on-time. For the sake of all the students who use bus services provided by Mason City Schools, I sincerely hope that a solution can be found soon that will benefit everyone.

Of course, despite the difficulties presented by the Mason Bus, one must acknowledge that it is very appreciated for existing at all. By law, Mason City Schools is only required to take kids to other schools if they are within a thirty-minute radius of the closest Mason City School District school. A few years ago, this radius was officially tested for Seven Hills, and Seven Hills was a few seconds over, so the Mason Bus almost stopped its services. It was not until a petition was made to the school district that the Mason Bus was allowed to continue making its runs.

Additionally, it is important to note that Seven Hills is the school farthest away from Mason that uses the bus service provided by Mason City Schools. This means that all of the non-Seven Hills students actually get to school early, even though Seven Hills students usually arrive to school late. An earlier bus transfer in the morning would mean that students from many other schools, including CHCA, Liberty Bible Academy, and St. Margaret of York, would have to wake up earlier and arrive at school much earlier than they need to. The issue of the tardiness of the Mason Bus therefore does not have a simple solution. It will take the combined efforts and ideas of everyone to improve the system of transportation that allows private school students living in Mason to arrive at school on-time. For the sake of all the students who use bus services provided by Mason City Schools, I sincerely hope that a solution can be found soon that will benefit everyone.

OP-ED: The American Need for Gun Control

GC 2

By Alex Hunter.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Canvass or The Seven Hills School.

 

Week after week, month after month, there is a new gun related incident that plagues our country. The possible solution: take away guns from American citizen so names such as Adam Lanza and James Eagan Holmes don’t become cemented into the history of this great nation.

Earlier this week, a twelve year old student entered his school, Sparks Middle School, located outside of Reno, Nevada. The 7th grader, armed with his parents’ firearm, proceeded to kill his math teacher and then shot two more of his classmates who were running away in fear before he took his own life. The teacher, Mike Landsberry, was a Marine who had served several tours in Afghanistan. His life was not valiantly lost protecting this country, but instead he was violently slaughtered by one of his students who had access to a gun.

A candlelight vigil for the victims of the Virginia Tech Shooting in 2007.

Moreover, around a month ago, Aaron Alexis, a former member of the Navy, brutally shot and killed twelve innocent civilians in a secure military facility in Washington D.C.. These massacres and others like it are manifestations of why the public cannot be trusted to own guns.

In response to gun related killings, the topic of gun control has served as a primary debate in the media and in Washington during recent months. Some look towards the 2nd Amendment as justification for the possession and the right to bear arms. However, I  encourage gun supporters to understand that this amendment was created 223 years ago and it no longer has any application to society. This “unalienable right” is simply outdated and there is no legitimate reason why the average man or women of America should have the need to own a gun.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold armed in the cafeteria of Columbine High School in 1999.

A percentage of the American population strongly believes that the possession of guns in homes is essential to the safety and the well being of civilian life. However, this notion is simply theoretical and there is no credible evidence that supports possessing a gun in the house reduces the risk of being a victim to crime or home break-in. In addition, the health risks of owning a gun are so concrete and supported that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in 2000 that recommended Pediatrics to urge their patients to remove all firearms from their homes. Notice that the issue doesn’t suggest to lock up the guns, but it stresses the complete removal of guns. By owning a gun, the only feat one accomplishes is drastically increasing their death rate, and this is why guns should not be allowed in the hands of the American people.

In April of 2012, two days before Senate’s decision to uphold the 2nd Amendment, the Boston Marathon Bombings occurred. As families from Sandy Hook Elementary participated in the event and watched the finish line as “honoree guests,” two bombs detonated and sent the nation into chaos. Within a span of months, these Connecticut children had classmates gunned down in front of them and watched as had hundreds of people were severely injured as a result of two pressure cooker bombs. While these tragedies are rightfully overwhelming for these families, the more concerning issue is Senate’s blatant decision to not prevent future attacks that could traumatize other American lives.

So as fear of another Seung-Hui Cho terrorizing a college campus or a Columbine repeat quietly looms over society, Senate continues to ignore the innocent lives lost as a result of guns. So far in 2013, 9,144 people have been killed by guns. Instead of creating laws and harsh restrictions to prevent similar deaths, Senate is doing nothing, and those 9,144 lives are lost in vain.

A memorial for the victims of the Aurora Movie Theatre shooting in 2012.

This notion of Senate refusing take action in response to the thousand of gun related deaths is simply inhumane and atrocious. How many American lives need to be lost before Senate understands that placing guns in the hands of  citizens is a poor decision? The guns used in the Sparks Middle School Shooting, Sandy Hook Shooting, the Aurora Movie Theatre Shooting, and the Virginia Tech Shooting were legally purchased firearms. It’s not only the people who commit these atrocities who are responsible for the bloodshed, but it’s also the people who allow the guns to be put in their hands who are responsible as well.

Furthermore, for the opposition of gun control who argue firearms are just a means to an end, I beg to differ. Guns allow the ability for anyone no matter their skill level with a weapon to kill large amounts of people with ease. While there is a larger question of why people commit these horrible crimes, by removing guns from the public sphere will increase the chances of survival for everyone involved.

No matter your political views or the values you live by, there is no person who is for the innocent slaughter of 9,144 individuals. Every single life cut short as a result of gun violence cannot be lost in vain; there needs to be reform in gun control, immediately. If one does not occur soon, our government needs to take a hard look into the mirror and determine whether we are still the same nation that was founded upon the insurance of “LIFE, liberty, and happiness.”

OP-ED: The Influence of the Block Schedule

Block Schedule

By Emma Uible and Alex Hunter.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Canvass or The Seven Hills School.

 

Introduction

In 2013, the Seven Hills Middle and Upper Schools moved from a bell schedule to a block schedule. The process of developing a block schedule began two years ago in the Middle School and the schedule was finalized over the summer. Two months into the school year, students weigh in on the effectiveness of block scheduling in the classroom.

 

Emma Uible

The new block schedule has impacted the life of every Seven Hills student in some form or another, but I think it has been a positive change, allowing students to space out more challenging classes and balance homework more easily.

Our previous forty-minute classes would only scratch the surface of an idea or concept, especially in humanities classes like English and history. Now, the extended time allotted for each class allows teachers to have more discussion time and enables students to ask more questions and enrich their education. In addition, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I appreciate the 35 minutes of extra help time starting at 2:40.

Last year I felt like I was “bouncing around” to and from seven classes a day, and each night it was a mad rush to prepare for those classes. Early into my Junior year, I found it nearly impossible to do all of my homework the night before it was due, and I’m not even talking about English and history papers or long term projects. Now, I’m elated that my teachers are embracing the concept of homework sets due once or bi-weekly, which is a result of block scheduling. Additionally, I feel more able to ask questions in class without fearing that I’m wasting the teachers’ precious time.

The block schedule has allowed students to balance classes that are more challenging because they often won’t meet on the same day. In previous years, I found it hard to have a difficult math class, and then be expected to transition the next bell into a difficult science class. For most students, the schedule prevents this by having challenging classes on different days.

However, this schedule is by no means without faults. I have to say, I miss the doughnuts Mrs. Faber would bring to advisory on Wednesday mornings, and lunches are way too short. I think the school should shave off some time from the break between second and third bell, and add extra time to lunch to solve this problem.

 

Alex Hunter

In the weeks leading up to the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic school year, I was filled with high expectations regarding the implementation of the block schedule.

Unlike most of the Seven Hills community, I have already had ample experience with block schedules. At my previous school, students began using a block schedule in fourth grade. Although I was only at that school for three years by the time I came to Seven Hills, I was familiar and comfortable with the block schedule format.

While the fundamental benefits of the block schedule are evident, significant changes still need to be made to ensure that it is used to its full potential. The first glaring issue with the schedule is C day, the only day a week when classes all meet for forty minutes. Unlike the A and B block days that make up the week Monday through Thursday, C day’s shortened bells on Fridays result in obnoxious amounts of homework and unnecessary stress for the student body over the weekend.

This problem stems from the increased amount of homework students have been receiving this year in core academic classes. Personally, I do not find the boost in homework the problem because students have two nights to complete their homework before a given class meets again. However, this proves problematic on Thursday nights for the student body. Classes that meet on Thursday are still assigning lengthy homework assignments that are due the next day, and this is leaves students overwhelmed as they attempt to finish their homework in a short amount of time. The only solution to this issue is to completely eliminate the C day.  Although, this would result in having a possible eight or six letter schedule that would serve to improve the block schedule.

My second concern with the current block schedule is that it is too stagnant and there is no rotation in the school days. At my previous school, the block schedule consisted of an eight day rotation. In this cycle, classes would alternate in terms of the time they met in the school week. For example, a math class would meet last block on a Friday and then the following Tuesday it would meet first block. This type of variety ensured that all classes would meet on a different block before the rotation was complete. Without having this aspect integrated into the Seven Hills block schedule there is no excitement as the block schedule is already becoming a part of a very structured and boring routine. By implementing a rotation to the schedule, students would be able to add variation to their everyday lives that would create a pleasant change in each school day because every day the order of classes would be different. I believe this type rotation in the schedule could spark further interest and motivation within Seven Hills.

The Seven Hills administration made a very positive step forward by introducing the block schedule. Both students and faculty have embraced and welcomed this change, which has played a beneficial role in the school year thus far. However, the administration simply cannot stop here. They need to continue to develop the block schedule and provide beneficial solutions to the problems that have arisen amongst the student body.

Open for Debate: Are iPads Beneficial in the Classroom?

iPad-in-education-classroom

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Canvass or The Seven Hills School.

Introduction

In 2011, Seven Hills began an iPad pilot program to explore the advantages and disadvantages of iPads in sixth and ninth grade classrooms. For the 2012-2013 school year, the program was expanded to the entire middle and upper schools, and iPads were given to all students in grades six through twelve to use as a learning tool. Six months into the school year, students and teachers weigh in on the usefulness of iPads in the classroom. Read the full debate by clicking on the title links.

The Debate

A Distraction-free Environment is Necessary to Develop Learning Habits 

Senior Priyanka Parameswaran.

Responsible use of technology and self control will come with age and maturity. For now, keep the iPads at home so students learn to pay attention to critical moments in class, even when their minds begin to wander. Help students build better habits for the future in a distraction-free environment. 

 

iPads Teach Lack of Respect in the Classroom

Senior Katherine King.

The iPad program introduces new technology into the classroom and is cohesive with the school’s goal of creating “future-ready learners.” However, the iPads are eliminating the last of the students’ technology-free time. Now, the devices teach students to ignore their surroundings, and to develop a lack of respects for classmates and teachers. 

 

iPads Are Useful If Students Take Initiative 

Senior Cullen Deimer.

Students should take it upon themselves to find creative uses for the iPad instead of waiting for specific assignments from each teacher. iPads can make school work more organized and efficient with note taking apps, and lighten the backpack load with electronic copies of handouts and textbooks. 

 

Classroom iPads Encourage an Unhealthy Addiction to Technology

Freshmen Bennett Smith.

Students reach for their iPads during class because the connection to other people through instant messaging or the internet provides an instant gratification. As teenagers, seeking this instant reward often wins out over giving the class full attention. However, we cannot remove technology from the classroom because is vital in our everyday lives. So, we must work to find a healthy balance.

 

Technology is an Amplifier of Productivity and Distraction

Junior Gregory Sun. 

With the increasing speed of access to information, productivity can be multiplied. But, distraction can be amplified as well. iPads are not the source of distraction, but an aid. If students are passionate about a subject, the class will interest the student more than the content on the iPad, and the iPad will not be a source of distraction. 

 

 iPads Make Teaching and Learning More Productive and Efficient

Upper English Teacher Nate Gleiner. 

The introduction of the iPad has allowed teaching and learning in my classroom to function more efficiently and productively. Students now take reading quizzes in Socrative, submit essays to ebackpack.com, and review research paper assignments in Goodreader. While the iPads pose a potential distraction, Seven Hills have never shied away from empowering our students with responsibility.

 

 

See the results of the Student Survey Here.

 

Photos By Cullen Deimer.

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