Alejandra Bonilla & Josefa Herrera
BMHS PrideTime Reporters
NORWALK- As students rushed out of the building last Wednesday due to a fire alarm that went off in the building, a sense of uneasiness fell upon everyone’s shoulders.
“Between what happened last week in Parkland and Norwalk High the other day and our early morning building evacuation yesterday, you know I will admit as a principal of this building that when the alarm went on at 7:30 in the morning my heart jumped for a second and i’m like are we just evacuating or… and I think people were thinking a lot about this” said Scott Hurwitz, principal at Brien McMahon.
Given the events that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and even recently at Norwalk High School, several students had more questions than answers from the administration. What was their response going to be? Why wasn't the shooting at Parkland, Florida addressed when students came back from February break? How would McMahon tackle this as a school?
To address these concerns, a forum took place in the Library. Students and faculty alike sat in an open circle to see eye to eye and have a critical conversation about an important matter; What do we do now?
Despite the short notice, a considerable amount of the student body appeared to voice their opinions, with the headcount surpassing sixty students.
Hurwitz opened the discussion by setting basic guidelines and expectations. “We reconsider this an attempt to do things that are not only going to have an impact in a greater world but also potentially help us do a better job within this building."
With this being the case, student's hands promptly sprang up with suggestions.
One of the more popular proposals was the introduction of metal detectors to the building. "In this school, we should have metal detectors. I think it's a good idea the metal detectors. We have metal detectors in banks, and I mean what is more valuable than us. We are the next generation. And behind that line of defense, arm guards there and not just one police officer for the whole school" said one junior.
The mention of arming teachers steered the conversation to one about militarizing the school, which others were not exactly in favor of.
"Teachers didn't sign up to have to carry a gun and have to kill somebody and I don’t think that we should ever have to make anyone make that decision because a lot of people believe in faith or their religion," said Gabriela Duran ('18).
AP Spanish teacher Hector Mirabal agreed, claiming, "I do not think the teachers should be armed. If ultimately it was an option I would not resist a training but I think that the relationship of the teachers with the students is very complex so that the teacher has a firearm. I believe that with everything that is going to be invested in weapons for the teachers, can be paid to train and have more security in the schools, whose function was that. I have no problem with armed guards."
Aidan Bowman (‘19) concurred to an extent by saying, "While I think adding security all these measures are extremely beneficial I also think that at some point it does fall to us I think that we should probably be talking about it in our classes and educate ourselves about what is going on because at the end of the day it’s us... It falls to us, we are the ones at school, we are the ones doing everything."
Other recommendations came up about policies McMahon has already adopted.
Mason Lapine (‘19) suggested, “if there is ever a situation like this if something horrific happens I think we should establish a rendezvous spot beside McMahon." Jackeline Lopez (‘18) also emphasized focusing on the other aspects of Run, Hide, Fight. "We always practice hiding, but we never actually practice running or fighting."
The forum was well received, with many praising the decision on behalf of the administration to have it. However, there were suggestions on how to improve upon the framework established last Thursday. "It is possible that a lot of students that have difficulty with English and having a discussion like this is at an academic level. We shouldn’t have to expose a student to such difficult thing if they don’t feel comfortable with it yet," said Mirabal. He also expressed that there were several points overlooked.
"The day of protest and another of commiseration was not talked about enough. Those are important things so I think we should pay more attention. Also, because we are not an isolated school, we need to talk more about mental health. The majority of the attackers had mental problems, they say that the shooter at Las Vegas that killed so many people also had mental problems so if that is the case that should not escape the dialogue between us. Some are saying the mental problem is treated, but if the problem is not identified until it’s too late, what then?...There are just things that go beyond the limits of the school and that are political problems that students should be able to discuss more in depth."
To Mirabal's point, several students have demonstrated an interest in making an impact bigger than McMahon alone. Juniors Aidan Bowman and Maggie Luong are exploring the possibility of even marching on the 24th this month. In fact, they have gone as far as creating a google classroom which includes important information, an itinerary, and financial projections. The code to join is aubd2n.
The discussion may have only scratched the surface of this complex issue, yet, there is one thing that is certain; this event has sparked a flame within the youth of not only McMahon but this nation as a whole. In the words of Bowman, "The world is not going to get change by sitting in a classroom and hiding behind walls. We need to be out there doing things and expressing our beliefs because I think that’s the only way things are going to get changed."
BMHS PrideTime Reporter
NORWALK, CT- On February 22, twenty-three students from Junten high arrived at the CGS community room where they met their host families, performed and had lunch together.
Last week, twenty-three Junten high school students from Japan came to CGS for the first time. They joined their host students in their second period classes, then returned to the community room to give presentations to most CGS students.
After, they had a pizza lunch provided by CGS with salad and cookies. At 2:15, the Junten students went home with their host families for their two night stay.
I went out and interviewed a Japanese student who was experiencing their first time in America and a CGS student who had hosted once before, but this was their first time with the Kakehashi program. This time they were hosting two students.
With Japanese student:
PrideTime: What did you think of McMahon/CGS?
JP Student: I think McMahon high school is very active because many students, Japanese studies or Chinese studies. There are very global things. I think it’s very good.
PrideTime: What have you thought about America so far?
JP Student: It’s very different from Japan, like for example the food is very different. American food is very big. Also, American people are very kind and friendly so it’s easy to communicate with others.
PrideTime: What do you think about hosting?
JP Student: Wonderful because if I go to different countries and go to host families, hosting is a good experience to learn different cultures and their lifestyles. Also, we can learn more about the languages and how to communicate with confidence it’s very good.
With CGS student:
PrideTime: What are your thoughts on the Kakehashi project?
CGS Student: I think the Kakehashi project is amazing. I think Traveling and seeing different cultures is really important and the fact that they helped fund and plan this trip is really cool. The students seemed very excited.
PrideTime: What do you think the Kakehashi project brings to CGS?
CGS Student: Obviously it brought a lot of excited students, a lot of them it was their first time in America. It also brought a unique and unforgettable experience and a different culture.
PrideTime: What did you do on Saturday with your student?
CGS Student: On Saturday, first we stopped by Walgreens, then we went shopping in the Stamford mall, them we went ice skating, and then we went to New York (Times Square) they wanted to go to the "New York" Starbucks and McDonald's. They also wanted to buy some chocolate and "I love New York" souvenirs for their family.
PrideTime: Was there any nervousness with hosting?
CGS Student: Of course I was nervous they wouldn't like where we brought them or they'd be disappointed because we couldn't bring them somewhere they really wanted to go (Statue of Liberty.)
PrideTime: What do you like about hosting?
CGS Student: I love hosting because I learn more about Japan each time, I get cool stuff from Japan and I get to meet wonderful new people and kinda see America through their eyes while they are here which is always interesting. My girls thought America was a little obsessed with things being "sexy" they were shocked at how different it was from Japan.
PrideTime: What is the feeling you get every time CGS hosts?
CGS Student: Every time I host I of course feel excited and a little nervous but mostly excited. I can't wait to have an eventful weekend and share everything I can about my culture. Especially since I'm black and a lot of the students probably haven't been around of black people or other minorities (Hispanic, Indian, etc).
PrideTime: Do you think the students that come here get a feel for the CGS community?
CGS Student: I think they definitely get a feel for the CGS community. From the videos we watched and then conversations we had. It's hard to miss how nerdy, crazy, and close CGS can be. I loved sharing our school life with them and I know my girls had a lot of fun talking to CGS students.
Don’t be afraid to welcome host students when they come, McMahon.
BMHS Pridetime Reporter
On February 3rd, 2018, eighteen motivated Center for Global Studies (CGS) students left school for two weeks to go to Hiroshima, Japan.
They practiced their Japanese speaking skills and learned more about Japanese culture by staying with a Japanese host family and touring Hiroshima and the surrounding areas.
Although the students toured places like Peace Park, the memorial for the first ever Atomic Bomb used in history, most of the students would admit that their most memorable experiences were those who stayed with their host families.
The CGS travelers stayed with students of Nagisa High School in Hiroshima, Japan for a little over a week, going along with their everyday routine as well as going on day trips with their host brothers and sisters.
Unfortunately, the students’ Japanese excursion ended on Friday when they returned home from their long twelve-hour flight.
PrideTime: “What was your first impression of Nagisa High School?”
Tes Dejaeger (‘18): “It's very clean, modern and beautiful. All of the students look very professional in their uniforms and the school is just so clean.”
Katelan Heslop (‘18): “Nagisa was a very big, modernized school with Japanese elements incorporated-- it felt more American than Japanese.”
Jude Icoy (‘18): “It was so huge! I thought it was some elite high school for really serious students (I was told it was a private school). The kids were really smart, as expected, but not overly serious. The student body and the school itself was very impressive (although they could use some central heating lol).”
PrideTime: “How do you think Nagisa students are different from McMahon students?”
Dejaeger: “Nagisa students act a different way in school. They are extremely respectful to their teachers but oddly, sleeping is acceptable in school.”
Heslop: “I think the students at Nagisa High School have a larger respect for authority than students at McMahon, but I think we both have similar senses of playfulness (like we know how to have fun)”
Francesca Yalong (‘18): “They’re probably a lot more studious and mature, but to be honest, they were still lots of fun and got (very) excited about seeing foreigners. They also seem to take school way more seriously, but the English teacher begs to differ.”
PrideTime: “How did you get to school in the morning? What time did you leave the house?”
Dejaeger: “Normally we took a train and it took about an hour but my family was really nice and drove me every day. They would drive us off in front of the train station and we'd walk to school. I loved the walk because I felt like I was a part of a system: seeing everyone commuting.”
Icoy: “I walked to the train station, road to Itsukaichi station, then walked to school from there.”
Yalong: “I got to school by streetcar which is like a trolley but better, and we left the house around 7:30 every morning for school.”
PrideTime: “On a school day, what was lunch like?”
Dejaeger: “I actually enjoyed hot lunch more than bentos (packed lunches), which is the opposite of how I feel in America. Their hot lunch is fresh and actually hot.”
Kendric Void (‘18): “A bento box. It was very healthy and included multiple kinds of food (vegetable, fruit, grain, and meat).”
Yalong: “I either had awesome supper cute bento or AMAZING cafeteria food. Like restaurant quality curry.”
PrideTime: “What were the teachers at Nagisa like?”
Dejaeger: “I didn't experience many student-teacher classes but my hosts' homeroom teacher was very friendly and seemed to be a mentor to her class. Hanabi Sensei (the English teacher) was very nice but very sarcastic. At times I wondered if all Japanese teachers were sarcastic.”
Heslop: “The teachers were all very friendly and greeted me in the hallways even though I'm sure they had no idea who I was-- even in classes they were very accommodating to my being there, regardless of how it affected their schedule.”
Void: “Teachers in Nagisa were similar to teachers at McMahon. Some were relatively laid back while others were strict, but all appeared dedicated to their job.”
PrideTime: “What was your experience like living with a Japanese family? How did their routine differ from your own family’s?”
Dejaeger: “The homestay was amazing. The biggest difference as definitely the living quarters. My host daily lives in an apartment with 5 people. Also, I think everyone in Japan accepts their job/profession and is proud of it. In America, you are almost out into an invisible hierarchy.”
Heslop: “It was fun -- they were like a home away from home because they treated me like a member of the family, not a foreigner. Usually, at my house, we don't have breakfast lunch or dinner together, but all meals at the house were with the families-- there was like a specific time to eat, watch television, and then bathe and go to bed, which I don't really have in my own home.”
Yalong: “My host family was awesome! They were always super considerate and thoughtful. Meals were really delicious and beautifully presented, the baths were crazy great, and they’re so freaking generous! The routine was a little different from mine because they all took night showers and used the bathtub a lot. It also took a lot longer to get dressed in the morning because their uniforms have so many layers. But they also woke up a lot later so I actually got sleep. Crazy, right? There was a huge language barrier, but they made the utmost effort to speak English and I really appreciated it.”
PrideTime: “What was the biggest difference you noticed between Japanese and American high schools?”
Dejaeger: “Japanese students have to wear uniforms and clean their classrooms at the end of each week. American students can freely express themselves and move from classroom to classroom instead of teachers moving classroom to classroom.”
Heslop: “The classes are bigger, there are fewer break times, fewer students in the hallways during class time, and you can't use the bathroom during class!!!”
Void: “Teachers switch classes, there’s school on Saturday, and most students did not go to the cafeteria.”
Yalong: “Japanese high schools are immaculate. They’re so clean and beautiful and they have VENDING MACHINES. They’re also hella freezing because they don’t heat hallways in Japan.”
PrideTime: “Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience at a Japanese school?”
Heslop: “I feel like it's a more collective effort to welcome visitors when they come than there is in Brien McMahon -- of course this is because technically only CGS is hosting and not BMHS but still, it felt more friendly over there.”
Void: “Something I found interesting was when I learned from my host that all students are required to take a longer route to school so they don't disturb nearby houses. I couldn't see this happening in America.”
Dejaeger: “I wish I was there right now. Best. Experience. Ever.”
Jessie Holmes & Aija Andrews
BMHS PrideTime Reporters
NORWALK-As we all know, February is the month of Black History Month. Many students of Brien McMahon participate in activities that have to do with Black History and activities that involve people of color.
Michelle Menard (‘19) is the overall leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth club here at Brien McMahon and loves to be apart of a great movement. The purpose of this club is to educate people about the colored/mixed community, and to teach people about the hidden figures that aren’t shown in a textbook.
“The NAACP was founded by a mixed group of individuals that surrounded themselves with one idea, and in one unit and that’s what I’m trying to preach with my chapter here at McMahon.” Says Michelle.
One of the main messages from this club is that you don't necessarily have to be African-American to join. “The NAACP youth council is a good platform for African American and other minority students students to take part in fixing a societal issue that could affect their future,” says former member, Calen Razor (‘19).
Outside of the school club, the youth council participates in many events in Norwalk that have to do with minority groups.
There will be NAACP t-shirt sale at the end of the month, and also various events that represent the black and mixed cultures around this area will be planned. The NAACP youth council is something everyone should definitely try to be apart of and make their mark in Brien McMahon High school.
Schuyler Luthy & Natalie Pitteway
BMHS PrideTime Reporters
NORWALK- On February 10th, 2018, the Brien McMahon Robotics team travelled to the University of New Haven to compete in their first and last robotics tournament of the season. Despite being unsure if they were going to have enough funding to compete until 2 weeks before, the team was still able to build their robot and place in the top half of teams.
At the beginning of his senior year, Brien McMahon alum Jake Yonkers (‘17), started the robotics team recruiting Mr. Grillo, his Digital Electronics teacher, as the club advisor. This year the team is composed of roughly ten students who each possess different skills, from building to programming, that are essential to completing the robot. “I like the programming aspect and the teamwork,” said Mason Lapine (‘19), who joined the team this year as a programmer to help with software development.
Saturday, after waking up at 5 am, Lapine, Donny Shaffer (‘19), Ben Piro (‘19), Margarette Kabangbang (‘19), Tom Warde (‘19), Evan Lander (‘19), and Mr. Grillo arrived at the University of New Haven at 7 am with their robot ready to compete.
“Every April, a company called Vex Robotics releases a set of guidelines for the upcoming tournament,” said Shaffer of the tournament process, “We seperate into a building team and programming team once we have the materials we need”. Each team uses the same set of materials to create their own robot ahead of time to ensure fairness across teams.
At the competition, the teams then attempt to gain points by moving cones with their robot. Even though the robots are built beforehand, Lapine noted that some difficulties arise “on the fly.” At this tournament, “there was a programming problem with one of our robots. The robot would fall backwards and not be able to get up so I had to program a way for it to get back up,” he said. After a day of competing, the McMahon robotics team was able to place 22nd out of over 40 teams from across Connecticut. “I think we did amazing for our first competition. We weren’t expecting much and just went in with an open mind,” said Shaffer.
Although this was the last competition of the year, the robotics team will continue to prepare for their future competitions. The members of the team agreed that improvements can be made for next year by having more meetings and learning from the teams they compete against. Kabangbang stated, “We know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully we can get some new members for next year which will only add to the team.”
For the year of 2018, the Brien Mcmahon football team turns the page from an 1-9 season as coach Queiroga, former defensive coordinator of the football team, is the new head coach. Q of course keeps his head up as he knows the system and is ready to be the underdogs in the FCIAC and come out with a winning season.
During Q’s high school career , his junior year he won 5 games and following his senior year won 8 games. Coach q plans to “flip the switch” with the 2018 Brien McMahon football team and head out with a winning season this year. “We have good kids and they all want to do well. We have learned to trust one another and the seniors are starting to realize that as time runs out for the seniors.” stated Q.
Mcmahon football has some of the coaching staff returning from prior seasons. Coach Joseph from last year will be the new Defensive-coordinator. Coach Konopka is also returning , and there is also an assistant coach from staples joining.
Coach Q started his McMahon coaching career in 2006 taking charge as the freshman head coach for two years. After 2 years he moved up to the varsity coaching staff under coach Santa Luccia. In 2010, Coach A.J. Albano was named the new head coach of the McMahon varsity football team. This is going to be Q’s 12th year coaching here at McMahon
Being under Coach Albano’s wing for about 8 seasons, coach Q says” I’ve seen successful and unsuccessful teams” From his high school career he has learned to be able to turn around situations as football is a game of momentum. Although the team has had a rough past three seasons, “ I look to preach the message to the team that time is running out” Q quoted. Coach believes this season can be a good season despite the past.
BMHS PrideTime Reporter
Recently, PrideTime was able to interview a student that is currently in the EMT class in hopes of sharing the knowledge of such a wonderful program to all McMahon kids.
Did you know that through a connection with Norwalk Community College, McMahon students are able to take the EMT class offered for everyone? Even if it’s too late to apply as the program started this January, it’s never too late to notice how great it can be for McMahon students interested in the medical career. Pride Time met with one of these students.
The McMahon EMT trainee explains that the classes are Mondays and Thursdays from 6pm to 10pm-and sometimes on Saturdays at 8am to 4pm. In these classes, the students, who are not just McMahon kids, but adults, read over and study their EMT textbook as they are taught by a certified EMT and paramedic. Eventually, they will do labs.
The student tells Pride Time that the studying is not hard as acquiring all this new knowledge is a grand opportunity and that hanging out with other McMahon students as she learns is a fun experience.
We asked some questions to get more info.
Pride Time reporter: What is your favorite part about the class?
EMT student: “Is just acquiring all this new knowledge and I love it-even though it’s four hours, I’m never like, looking at the clock and hoping for it to end like I am in some of these classes that I have in school but um I think it’s nice to know that you’re gonna be able to help people after you complete this class. Like you’re going to make a real difference in people’s lives and you’re gonna see a real difference in people’s lives.”
PrideTime Reporter: What are some words you have for McMahon?
EMT student: “Just that there’s a lot of opportunities in this school for whatever job you want to do so, look for them and you’ll be surprised at what you can find.”
So don’t let those opportunities pass you McMahon!
BMHS PrideTime Reporter
Back in early December, CGS students were offered the chance to go to China for two weeks and stay with a host family for half the time. This time, it was China’s turn to come to the US and stay with an American family. Some of Brien McMahon CGS students were nice enough to open their home to the exchange students.
The exchange students traveled to Seattle, Washington, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, NYC, New York, and Norwalk, Connecticut where they lived with their host families from 2/2/18 to 2/7/18. While in the well-known cities like Seattle and Pittsburgh, they went on a lot of history tours and the main premise was to learn about the history of the US.
While in Connecticut, some of the things they did with their host families included a trip to New York City, bowling, and skyzone. In New York, they walked the Highline and did some shopping. Cailey Martin(’19) also hosted a Super Bowl party for everyone who hosted and their exchange student.
“It was cool to see them have their first American football experience and especially because it was such a big game” Celine Demee(‘20)
Some of the highlights for Stephanie Skidmor’s host brother 摊至恒,(Tan Zhi Heng), were the comic stores in NYC, the Norwalk high vs McMahon Boys Basketball, and the overall American experience that not many kids his age in China get.
“Overall I had a good experience and I will host again. 摊至恒 was very kind, he was supportive of all my sports and we bonded over burgers and Basketball…A LOT of Basketball.” Says Stephanie.
There weren’t too many complications except the language barrier and culture differences. For example, some of the exchange students lacked gratitude and manners that someone from America might have. Also, some of the hosts had very busy schedules due to sports or other after school activities, but each host tried their best to accommodate them to satisfaction.