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Newton's Laws of Bowling

Authored by Linli Chin, Physics teacher

Name a game that can be enjoyed by the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the tall and the short, male and female alike, and that list will be fairly limited.  One that makes it to the shortlist would be BOWLING!  It is a time-tested game that has been enjoyed by millions around the world in various forms.  The one that we are most familiar with is ten-pin bowling in our neighborhood bowling alley. Growing up with a family that loved bowling, the game has always had a special meaning for me.  It reminds me of good times, camaraderie, cheerfulness and sometimes, playful heckling.  I wanted to share the experience with the students in my classes, since, along with the fun and laughter of the game, there is also a lot of science to explore.  This year (as with every other year I have taught at Beekman), I brought the students in my Physics classes to play a game of bowling, where we saw Newton’s Laws of Motion in action!  We had a great time trying out the...read more

Topics: bowling, physics, field trip, Linli Chin

"It's Not Fair!"

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Computer/Technology teacher

Teenagers are obsessed with fairness. Every parent with a teenaged child knows that the slightest hint of a perceived injustice will cause a child to yell, “It’s not fair!”  And as parents and educators, we know full well that our decisions and actions will be scrutinized on whether they are fitting and balanced.   But why are teens so wrapped up in fairness? Conventional wisdom teaches that fairness, or more broadly, the issue of right and wrong, is a learned response to observation.  After all, notions of fairness seem to require an advanced understanding of behavior.  But if that is the case, why do children get caught up in issues of fairness so early on in life? It may be that fairness isn’t learned, but rather it is innate.  Children may be born with at least a basic understanding of right and wrong.  Although there are many studies that suggest children prefer nice behavior, a couple of studies taken together stand out in their suggestion that babies have an incipient...read more

Topics: fairness, psychology, teenagers, Cavin Thuring

It’s Time for Teenagers to Hold Adults Accountable

Authored by Anastasia Georgoulis, History teacher

On Tuesday, November 5th, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio and Republican candidate Joe Lhota will compete for the position of New York City mayor.  Most of our students do not meet the age requirement to vote for either candidate.  Too many students will use this restriction of their age to justify their indifference to the upcoming election.  Indifference, in this case, would be the wrong choice. Every teenager not yet 18 needs to recognize the influence they carry within their social and familial circles. They also need to acknowledge their future’s dependence on the current choices of the adults in their lives. It’s time for teenagers to hold adults accountable. If you still question whether this election could affect you, ask yourselves the following questions: Do you want job security following college graduation? Are you okay with paying rent that takes up more than 1/3 of your monthly salary? Do you trust the police force? Should the city ban sugary drinks? Has the subway...read more

Topics: election, vote, de Blasio, Lhota, New York City, politics, history, Anastasia Georgoulis

Interview Today, Start Tomorrow: Beekman's Unique Admissions Process

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

One comment that we often hear during interviews for new students is the speed of our admissions process: interview today, start tomorrow.  Prospective parents and students come in expecting the typical lengthy application process, during which a school’s administration purports to determine whether or not the student is a good fit.  I’d like you to consider a different approach.  Most students who apply to The Beekman School are coming to us from programs that have already been preparing them for a college education.  Since core academic subjects in all such schools tend to be relatively standard, it’s understood that a student coming to Beekman is usually already at (or at least close to) grade level in a college preparatory program.  We have found throughout our experience that we do not require an artificially prolonged process to determine that the student is ready to make the academic transition to our school.  The only question is whether or not the student is ready. When I...read more

Topics: private school, New York City private schools, admissions, transfer, George Higgins

History on Repeat

Authored by Ian Rusten, History teacher

I’d like to believe that everything I say has great meaning, especially when it comes to my children and my students. My words of wisdom may guide them; it may help them find their footing.  However, most times, what I see as my greatest advice (“don’t touch the hot stove,” “actually study for your test,” “don’t just continually refresh your Twitter feed”) are words not heeded. Children must try running really fast in rain boots to learn that enormous cracks in the sidewalk will actually trip them and students have to learn from their own mistakes. We all must learn from our own mistakes. Somehow, it seems that the mistakes of others do little to alter our own actions. Is history the same? Do nation states, with trails of loss, sorrow, and a collective conscious after a devastating war, use that memory to guide their actions in the future? Or is it as George Bernard Shaw said, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”  Imagine the world today if Hitler had carefully...read more

Topics: history, teaching, wisdom, responsibility, Ian Rusten

No Bullying at Beekman

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Sadly, bullying is on the minds of many parents and students, and why not?  Clannish and mean-spirited behavior isn’t just a product of face-to-face interaction, but also raises its ugly head in cyberspace. The anonymity of the Internet has allowed cowards to make nasty comments about students they don’t like. Recently, newspapers have reported on a 13-year-old girl who jumped to her death in Florida after being hazed and tormented by fellow students, ages 14 and 12. Like most high schools, Beekman takes bullying seriously. However, Beekman’s unique character and mission address the bullying problem like few schools can. Because the school operates on a rolling admissions basis, many Beekman students know what it’s like to be “the new kid in class.” That experience creates a kind of empathy in our student body.  If you, who arrived in November, were warmly welcomed, wouldn’t you do the same for a student who enrolls three months after you? In addition, Beekman’s small class size of no...read more

Topics: bullying, private school, community, New York City private schools, transfer, James Vescovi

Does Literature Matter?

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

I had no expectation of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird this year. After all, The Beekman School is a high school, and most American students encounter Harper Lee's seminal work in middle school. But, to my astonishment, many of my students (and not just the international ones!) had not read the book. I myself had not cracked it open since the 8th grade. Teaching this book not only reacquainted me with Lee’s lifelike characters, but it also reminded me of why I chose to teach literature in the first place. Everything about To Kill a Mockingbird is a testament to why we study literature. Atticus, an upright lawyer in the Deep South town of Maycomb, is the living example of the central lesson of the book: always try to see the situation from the other person's point of view. Reading literature is an exercise in empathy, the kind we should be expressing in everyday life—the kind Atticus exercises towards Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Even though the town is...read more

Topics: English, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, literature, empathy, justice, Michelle Koza

Where a Mid-Year Shift is a Fresh Start

Authored by James Vescovi, English teacher

Ask any New Yorker with children what’s the hardest part of living in the city. Having enough living space is high on the list; perhaps even higher is choosing the right high school. New Yorkers cherish the city for its variety and diversity. There are more school choices than flavors in a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop. Yet, despite the amount of research parents do and how many school visits they make, no one is guaranteed to make the right choice. The question arises: Should I let my child ride out school in a less-than-ideal setting, or is there a way to still make her year productive and enjoyable? Beekman differs from its peer schools in that, since its founding in 1925, it has operated on a rolling admissions calendar.  Students from around the city and, indeed, from around the world, enroll at Beekman throughout the year. Some are transferring from unsuitable schools, while others come because their families have moved to the New York area in the middle of an academic year....read more

Topics: New York City private schools, transfer, James Vescovi

A Fixed Point

Authored by Charlie Sitler, Math Teacher

Science is elegant.  Mathematics is beautiful. That was the insight that came to me as I unexpectedly found myself leafing through a whole slew of Scientific American magazines from years gone by.  And with that insight came a whole new appreciation of the subject of mathematics that I had devoted my life to teaching. I was struck by how quickly some of the science articles had become outdated, while the math articles retained a timelessness that reflected the one-pointedness of mathematics itself--the fact that the truths of mathematics belong to eternity. The magazines had been offered to my friend Richard, who was the science chair at the school where I previously taught.  We were good friends, and I was sitting in his office one day shooting the breeze when the school librarian came in bearing a carton full of really old Scientific Americans. The offer of the magazines went to Richard (in the name of science), but he declined, which I initially found surprising, especially given...read more

Topics: math, elegant, beautiful, Charlie Sitler

Faculty Q & A with Science Teacher Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

In love with science since childhood, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez had plans to become a pediatrician. In college, however, she realized she was too tender-hearted to work with sick children. Instead, she decided to bring her love of science to young minds. After earning a B.A. in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Speech Communications at Texas A&M University, she taught in her native Texas before relocating to New York with her husband.   Some students consider science class boring. How do you make it interesting? Fight the stereotype! I try to teach the major concepts with real world applications. When my students leave class at the end of the year, it is my hope that they will never look at the world the same way. While studying electron emission spectra, we discuss the science behind fireworks. They know that the element strontium makes a beautiful red color and that hot pink is thanks to a little lithium. Tada! Spectroscopy! What other real-life applications do you...read more

Topics: science, faculty, q&a, field trip, lab, Galapagos, spectroscopy, dissection, ecology, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, James Vescovi

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