Beautiful Las Vegas

Originally published on 4/25/17.

When many think of Las Vegas, a common picture is painted: the lights, the casinos, the iconic strip. Many think of the famous city of sin and vice, yet there is so much more to the area than the famous Vegas Strip. In fact, you could spend an entire vacation without doing any activities in Las Vegas and only hit up the surrounding area. Of course, the city itself is going to play a massive role, but there is still a good time to be had without staying in the stereotype. Many are just unaware of where to find these cool activities, but they’re all around, both in Las Vegas and in the surrounding area.

One of the coolest parts of Las Vegas is that, all around, it’s like one gigantic amusement park due to all of the cool attractions. For instance, many are aware of New York, New York’s rollercoaster. Or, the Stratosphere is known for its fear rides on its upper levels. However, there are other thrills to be had in Las Vegas that are much lesser known. For example, the Rio has a zipline 51 stories high for those looking to truly see the skyline. For the weak of heart, there’s also the Slotzilla zipline that has two levels at 11 and 7 stories high, respectively, that travels over downtown Las Vegas. Attractions like these are all around the city and the surrounding area and can provide fun for those who are brave enough to try them.

Of course, venturing out of Las Vegas also proves to be worthwhile. There are many landmarks just a short drive away, such as the Mojave Desert or the Hoover Dam. These could easily encompass entire day trips just for sightseeing purposes and due to the history behind these locations. Similarly, there are many “ghost towns” in the surrounding areas. Many of these ghost towns lay abandoned, but some, such as Goodsprings, still have small populations. These towns were built in the 1800s and still have architecture of this time period. Again, there are many wonderful sightseeing opportunities to be had to encompass entire day trips.

While these are just some examples, there really is much, much more to the city than what meets the eye. Of course, activities will opened on what an individual person wishes to do, but with so much variety there will certainly be something for everyone, even if it defies the stereotypes!

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The Bear Print

Originally published 2/7/17.

At David Brearley High School, there are very few clubs enjoyed by students. There are plenty of sports, but what happens to those who would rather use their brains? The new school paper, the Bear Print, seeks to alleviate this issue. While the school has always had a newspaper through the Journalism elective, students who weren’t in the class didn’t have an outlet to write. Students now have an independent paper for the first time, and students don’t even need to write to be involved! Just take it from Sydnie Edwards, the first layout editor of the paper.

According to Edwards, she is “responsible for writing articles and making the layout of the newspaper each edition. [She] decide[s] where each story goes, what pictures are included, and the overall layout of the paper”. “It’s a lot of work,” she adds. “That said, it’s also a lot of fun. We all enjoy it and make it work together. I just make sure the final paper looks great.”

Edwards also adds that she would recommend that others get involved with the paper. As she puts it, the paper “doesn’t have enough writers. It’s a shame because of how much fun we have doing it. We just never get enough.”

While the newspaper only has a few editions out so far, more are certainly to come. In fact, the next edition’s layout is currently being finalized for the newspaper to be released before Valentine’s Day. Each edition is themed around current holidays and events, hence the next release date.

When asked if she had anything else to add, Edwards included that she “really wants others to get involved. Like [she] said, there aren’t enough people doing it and the paper would be so much better if we had a larger staff.” Students looking to get involved should speak to Mr. Weinstein, the club advisor, to get started. She continues, “I still am proud of how the paper is turning out and can’t wait to release the next paper!”

PARCC Testing

Originally published 3/14/17.

The logo of the very controversial test.

While many standardized tests have received criticism over the years, no test has received as much criticism as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, as it is commonly known. With the PARCC right around the corner for some, it’s as great a time as ever to question the merit of the highly controversial test. When it was first administered in the 2014-2015 school year, the test was vilified by teachers and parents everywhere. However, it was also receiving praise and is evidently being administered in several states for the third year in a row. This raises an important question: three years later, is the test still worth administering? Unfortunately, the most resounding answer would be a firm no.

While schools are better prepared, many schools still struggle to meet the technological demand that PARCC puts on schools. Schools were drastically under-prepared when PARCC began. In fact, at my school there was a power outage on the first day of PARCC because of how under-prepared the school was for this technological drain. Like many schools, the school was forced to invest in better technology, which led to budget cuts in other areas. PARCC forced the school to accommodate it, rather than accommodate to schools.

Of course, while the technological drain cannot be blamed fully on PARCC, the test has some other bad qualities that have remained. For instance, the exam is unnecessarily time consuming. Teachers must spend time during the year preparing students for standardized tests like PARCC, which takes time away from other subjects. Likewise, the time allotted to PARCC is a time that school may not in session. At my school, we are only coming in at 10:30 on all PARCC days to allow for testing to run in the mornings. As someone who is not taking the PARCC test, this means I miss out on four classes every day for a seemingly pointless test.

The kind of setup that students may be taking these tests in.

Additionally, there is backing to attest that this test is pointless. For starters, students can take other tests to be exempt from taking the PARCC altogether. There is no reason to push a test that others can make up for. Likewise, there is still no solid backing that the PARCC is capable of preparing students for either college or future careers. Without any solid proof of preparation, it seems pointless to push for something aimed entirely at preparing students for the future.

While standardized testing, as a whole, is a completely different ballpark, it can undeniably be said that the PARCC has no place in schools. Due to the continued technological drain, the lost class time, and the fact that the test is rendered useless, it seems that the test has not changed to be valuable for students. Thus, this particular test has no place in schools and should not be administered for a fourth year.