Thursday, January 29, 2009


Mason Cleveland, class of 2011, wrote this essay in Ms. Alsup's Contemporary American Culture class after students read two novels on immigration.

America is a place that was founded by immigrants. People came here in order to escape from persecution and oppression, only to end up placing the same persecution and oppression on the people that America rightfully belongs to. We killed off the native population, and then sent them into “reservations”, which is just a nice term for what is essentially a concentration camp.

Now, with a new wave of immigrants that are coming to America from their home countries to find many of the same freedoms that we desired, we do not give these rights to them, and we begin a new wave of hatred and oppression. If we were able to come here and do whatever we wanted, why can’t they? Is it because we have a government and we thought the Native Americans didn’t (even though they did)? Is it because we are losing jobs and money to these “illegal aliens”? These people come here, willing to do the jobs that other Americans aren’t, if it weren’t for them, our society would most definitely collapse.Immigrants that come to America rarely find what they are searching for. They think of America as some sort of Shang Gri La, only to find that they are only slightly better off than they were before. Despite this, though, only a certain kind of immigrant meets this sort of oppression and hatred. Without a doubt, America is not a melting pot of cultures; you must adopt American values, customs, and even the language. If you do not know English (or rather, with how Americans are acting now, it should be called “Americanese”) you have a hard time getting by, and you face stereotypes and hatred everywhere.

However, families that do know English and have money are significantly better off than others. And this difference can be seen from two books, “Donald Duk” and “The Circuit”. America can be a place of refuge and opportunity, as long as you are invested in American society and culture.

In “Donald Duk”, America has proven to be an excellent place for the Chinese immigrant family that the story focuses on. The father of the family owns a successful Chinese restaurant, and he is closely associated with a famous Cantonese opera performer.

This novel is a good representation that if you have a concept of the English language, and a good deal of money to begin with, you can be very successful and well off in America. Although the Duk family lives in the Chinatown of a major city, they are still well accustomed to society and American life.

Despite the fact that the book does not so much focus on the hardships that the family faces as a collective because they are Chinese, you can still see some forms of racism and stereotypes, such as the non-Chinese schoolteacher. When teaching about the Chinese New Year, he calls the Chinese passive and indecisive. This is far from the truth, as shown when Donald, a Chinese boy, learns about the Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroad system in the 1800s. Even looking back into Chinese history you can see that what the schoolteacher said is the opposite of the truth. If a nation can build a wall that can be seen from space and that spans nearly their entire country just so that they can keep out barbarians, they are nowhere near passive.

But despite this, the book shows that people still have misconceived views and opinions on people of other races even if those other races are born on American soil. Often, you can hear these words just by walking down a hallway in school. I can’t begin to say how many times I have heard people from the Middle East called “Sand-n******”, and everyone thinks they are terrorists or religious extremists. I often listen to Japanese music, and I have heard many people complain and insult the Japanese, calling them strange, weird, perverted, disgusting, and even so far as stupid names like “Yellow-skin."

This goes to show that just because a family like the Duk family can live well in America, not all people can, and they still face hideous amounts of racism, and this can be seen in the story, “The Circuit”.

Certainly through reading even a little of the book, you can see that America is not all warm apple pies made by grandma and kind Mr. Abernathy giving you a dollar and a glass of lemonade for mowing his lawn. America in this book is a place of hard work, and little rewards.
The family in “The Circuit” works by picking cotton, and then more jobs after that. Aside from the fact that the cotton picking sounds an awful lot like African slavery in America, they are from Mexico and are actually paid for their work. The main character is a young student in school, and this is where the oppression can be seen the clearest. America is not a place of happiness for immigrants.

The teacher yells at him for speaking in the only language that he knows, Spanish. He begins speaking with another student that knows it, and the teacher comes over and yells at him. It can be wondered if this teacher understands just how difficult it is for a young child to learn two languages, and just how troublesome English can be.

This book shows that America can be a hard place for the family that is not able to speak English fluently, and is poor to begin with. In contrast the Duk family can already speak English and they are already well off.

But this also brings up the point that racial minorities in America are often better off when they are with others of their country. This is a sad fact that promotes segregation, but it often seems that races are not as oppressed when they make little communities with each other, like the Chinatowns. Of course, Native Americans are exempt from this because, you know, we Americans are so scared that they are going to scalp us.

America is place of refuge and opportunity, as long as you come here legally, can speak English, and have money. Otherwise, you are in trouble, and will have a hard life. This is not right, simple as that. People that speak against immigrants coming here are being hypocrites, because we all came here from somewhere else.

It can only be hoped that a day will come when America will stop thinking of itself as a nation of born citizens, and as a true bastion of freedom and peace. A time must come when we do not care where our neighbor comes from, and stop thinking of them as British or Chinese or Mexican, but start thinking of them as people, people who deserve the same rights as us, the same freedoms, and the same opportunity. Only after America stops thinking about Americans, and starts thinking of the human race, will there be be true peace and freedom for all.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Physics teacher Sally Hair writes: Students in Beta Physics had an exciting start to the second semester today. They went to the gym for Physics class and experienced the "Big Swing," part of the 9th grade physical education program. Students donned climbing harnesses and were pulled up to the top of the gym by classmates. They released one of the two the ropes holding them and swung in an arc about 5 meters vertically and 15 meters horizontally. Students will use a video of the swing to analyze their motion. They will calculate the potential energy before the swing and the the kinetic energy at the bottom of the swing. We are highly optimistic that energy will be conserved.

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Monday, January 26, 2009


Thirty-two students from Greta Mills's Mathematical Modeling class participated in the 2008 High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling, sponsored by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications. During November student teams constructed solutions to one of two modeling problems within a thirty-six hour period. This year’s choices: develop a model for analyzing and addressing the national debt, or develop a model using carbon sequestration to achieve carbon-emissions neutrality. Solutions were then sent to a regional panel for review and ranking.

The Consortium has now announced that two HHS teams earned the ranking of Regional Outstanding, which was earned by only 18 of the 269 teams competing. In addition to the Regional Outstanding awards, four Hanover teams earned a Meritorious award and three earned an Honorable Mention. Team advisor Greta Mills commends all students for their hard work and creative solutions. Solutions will be published on CD-Rom and in the annual contest journal.

This year 52 schools participated from eleven US states, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul. The top award, National Outstanding, was won by four teams. Hanover’s Mathematical Modeling classes have participated in this contest for five years.

The Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications is a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization. Complete results, including the original contest problems, can be found at

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


January's Staff Member of the Month is Carl Mehrbach. Carl Mehrbach is the Hanover High physics teacher, as well as the founder of Mehrbaville, inventor of the Mehrbarocket, and C.E.O. of the Mehrbatowers. It is this creativity, coupled with his artistic passion, that makes his classes the unique and powerful learning experiences that they are. One is never quite sure what to expect from a class with Mr. Mehrbach: from impromptu and unintentional self-dousing while spinning cups of water, to dissertations on automobile safety and highway construction, the only constant is Carl’s quick laugh, and jovial grin. Because of his willingness to go above and beyond to assure our grasp of complex concepts, as well as his holistic, personal approach to teaching, Mr. Mehrbach is saluted and named the January Staff Member of the Month. Congrats, Mr Mehrbach!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Senior Kyle Van Leer from Hanover is Hanover High's Student of the Month for January.

Kyle is one of the founding members of Kids for a Cooler Planet which organized the use of green bags (fabric bags instead of plastic) at the Co-op grocery stores. Being civic and ecologically minded, he helped get two resolutions passed in NH and Vermont endorsing reusable bags. Kyle is on the Math team, is self-taught and fluent in sign language, and recently performed in “Fish Tale” with the Trumbull Hall troupe at the Richmond Middle School. Kyle is a fabulous student with an easy going and congenial demeanor who is admired by his peers and the staff at HHS.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


HHS musicians joined with the band from Mascoma High School to take part in workshops with the Synergy Brass Quintet. The professionals then played a joint concert in the HHS auditorium with the two high-school groups.

Synergy has visited more than 500 high schools, and says it performs more overall engagements than anyone in classical music today, averaging nearly 300 a year. The top photos show Synergy's Jesse Chavez, tuba (left), and Bobby Thorpe, trumpet, and Jordan Witt, trombone, playing with students. The middle photos show John Hurrell, French horn; at bottom, Chavez and Rachel Rodriquez, trumpet.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Jared Geilich, class of 2011, wrote this as a Persuasive Essay assignment. Life and Times encourages students to submit class essays for posting.

Most kids look forward to turning sixteen so they can get their drivers’ license. They think it will be so much fun to be able to go wherever they want whenever they want. What they don’t realize is that the downsides to getting your license much outnumber the perks, at least before you finish college. The best thing to do is to hold off on getting your license until after college.

First of all, driving costs a lot of money. Gas is expensive, and when you drive you need to use it. Not only that, but the prices change drastically from one day to the next. You could be driving along, humming a little tune, when you notice your tank is almost empty. You pull over to the nearest gas station, and you notice it’s a dollar more expensive a gallon than it was yesterday! You look into your wallet only to find you don’t have nearly enough money to put in enough gas to make it home. Another possible scenario is if a complete stranger hits your car. You have to have insurance to drive, which can get very expensive, especially if you are a teenage boy, which is the group that happens to be the most expensive to insure because we are in the “highest risk”. 35.3% of all crashes in the United States are by teenagers, and more than half of that are by males. Little do they know that I would be a very safe driver, and they shouldn’t be charging me so much. They shouldn’t be clumping me in a category with all the doofuses of the world.

If you get your license while you are still living with your parents, you will constantly have to run errands for them. You might be working very diligently on a homework assignment, when your mom calls to you from the kitchen that she forgot an ingredient for the cheesecake for the party that night. Guess who is going to have to go get that forgotten ingredient. She won’t care about the assignment you are so close to finishing. Since you have your license, she is free to send you to get groceries. Another trap you might fall into would be the pick-up-your-sibling-because-I’m-busy scenario. This unexpected requisition will be thrust upon you when you least expect it, and as often as possible.

So if you don’t want to end up broke and overwhelmed with unreasonable demands, you should wait until you get out of college to get your license. You won’t need a car at all during your college years to get places, since everything you need is right there on campus. In fact, most colleges don’t even allow freshman to own cars. The smartest move you can make is to wait to get your license.

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Friday, January 9, 2009


Chorus director Jane Woods writes: The school's full chorus of 125 students sang its fall concert repertoire in the three-story rotunda of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center just before Christmas. The concert featured a Phantom of the Opera medley and songs of the winter season -- Let it Snow, Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, and Sleigh Ride. The performance has become an annual tradition. Grades 9 through 12 took part, with seniors playing bells and percussion.

HHS's Footnotes sang at the Bugbee Senior Center for the 18th straight year (!!), offering a Gershwin medley with choreography (big band songs are a favorite) and winter season songs. Singers also mingled with the folks at their tables and encouraged them to sing along.

The Footnotes then performed at the annual holiday party for Residential Life employees at Dartmouth, the fifth time they've appeared. The employees were kind enough to contribute toward the group's upcoming trip to Joigny, France. Footnotes alumnus Josiah Proietti joined the group in singing.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009


English teacher Margaret Caldwell writes: After students made sculptures out of cans of donated food, they packed 70 bags of groceries and we drove the van full of rattling boxes to the Listen Food Bank.

Among the awards in the annual holiday can-sculpture contest were: Most Nutritious (excellent food quality per Red Cross recommendations); Most Cans; and Best Architecture. In all, 28 student groups participated and others donated cans without building their own "work of art." The real point, of course, is the FOOD, so many thanks for every can out there.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Heidi Robbins wrote this essay for Ms. Alsup's Senior Writing Seminar. Life and Times encourages students to submit class essays for posting.

The ornaments now cover the sofa, the coffee table, the flat back of the piano, and the fire threshold. My sister and I had spent the afternoon carefully tugging away the yellowed newspaper that protected these ornaments and pulling them out of the dusty Wal-Mart’s storage bin in which they had nestled the past year. Tree decorating submerges the living room in chaos. The ornaments claim every flat surface, the lights lie in a haphazard heap on the floor, boxes rest in piles, the cat jumps from beneath the coffee table and tackles a strand of lights, and the radio plays Charlie Brown’s Christmas.

The tree dominates the holiday bedlam; its long, needled branches reach out in all directions. The two German Shepherds snore at the base of the tree, ignorant of the fact that their bodies add to the confusion. I step over their paws to hang a sequined turtle on a branch. Liesel hands me another ornament. My mother comments on the significance of each ornament: “Yes, that was your great-grandmother’s” or “Oh, of course, your grandmother, Mo, got that doll from Russia.” There are the terracotta Mexican dancers, the teacup from “Beauty and the Beast,” and the pair of Dutch clogs. Though each ornament tells a story of my family’s history, the tree tells a saga of my family’s present.

My mother, Liesel, and I do all of the holiday preparations on our own. We rush into the frenzy of the holiday singly motivated by the fact that “Daddy’s coming home at Christmas.” My father works overseas during the fall, returning to the States three days before Christmas. His arrival spurs all of our efforts, and we relish our opportunity to surprise him with the holiday cheer. Picking out and cutting the eight-foot Balsam fir is always a source of girl unity and pride. (click to continue.)

Armed with handsaws and a tape measure, we three girls trudge along the rows of trees. The snow, often at knee-height, collects in our boots, and Liesel and I resort to pushing each other into the snowdrifts and targeting snowballs at my mother’s derrière while giggling hysterically. We pause in front of several promising trees, circle them to determine how they rate in the scale of “Christmas tree perfection,” and usually move on. At long last we reach the perfect tree. After clearing away the snow from the base, we start the sawing. We take turns sawing, marveling at the deepening gouge. The tree finally falls with much pushing and tugging. The process is slow as Liesel and I drag it to the car; we continually trip and face-plant into the snow, rising to our feet again with snow on our eyelashes and noses.

The tree arrives home safely enough. Among the three of us, we wrestle its bulging branches up the front steps, across the porch, and through the front door. The green needles leave a trail behind us. As the tree lies across the threshold, filling the house instantly with the strong fragrance of wet evergreen, we fasten the stand to the trunk, only to realize that we sawed the end off unevenly and that more branches at the base need to be cut. Finally, we raise the colossal tree teetering to an upright position. The tip of the tree scrapes across the ceiling. “Drats!” puffs my mom from between clenched teeth, “Liesel, will you get the scissors and chop the darn thing off?” In the end, we heave the tree into position and then quickly secure it by rope to the wall. Our tendency to choose “Perfect Christmas trees” with crooked trunks is inevitable; we have learned from past experiences in which tree, ornaments, and all crashed to the floor to secure the tree.

Our holiday preparations continue. Liesel and I bake the pies for the upcoming family Christmas Eve dinner at our house while crunching on spare apple-slices dipped in cinnamon and crimping the crusts. My mother chops the chicken for the chicken, artichoke, and wild rice casserole. I set the table, folding the napkins into the animal napkin rings and placing the red candles in their stands. At midnight the kitchen still hums. I lay the sides of the gingerbread house on the drying rack, surveying my first attempt at constructing a homemade gingerbread house. Unfinished hand-painted ornaments spread across the counter-top.

The next afternoon, though, everything is spit-spot clean. The gingerbread house takes center stage on the table—its roof admittedly droops—and is ready to be plastered with candy. The colored lights and garland are strung across the porch. The tree glistens. This is the afternoon that Daddy is coming home, and we are all bursting with excitement.

At 4 pm, the Dartmouth coach pulls into Lebanon. My mom, sister, and I huddle together on the sidewalk waiting expectantly, looking for his tall form to stride off the bus. A family gets off the bus, two college students, a young woman, and then... “Daddy!,” Liesel and I scream and run towards him. We all share a bear hug that lasts for minutes.

Daddy’s arrival signals that Christmas can truly begin.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Several dozen ninth-grade English students took turns onstage in the auditorium performing scenes from Macbeth, which they had been reading this semester. They learned how to memorize and how to perform under the bright lights in front of an audience. They earned applause from the whole ninth grade and many parents.

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Monday, January 5, 2009


Coach Bill Murphy writes: In the Fall Knowledge Master Open, Hanover placed 20th overall among 695 reporting schools from across the country. Hanover placed 5th among schools with enrollments of 500 to 1,000 students, and placed first in New England among 24 participating schools. This year's team was Zach Sheets, Nick Sinnott-Armstrong, Nick O'Leary, Aaron Watanabe, Phil Tosteson, Gabe Brisson, Will Smith and Asie Makarova. We seemed to be particularly strong in math and science.

The Knowledge Master Open describes itself as "a challenging, low-cost academic competition in which teams of students compete without leaving their own schools." High-school teams receive 200 curriculum-based multiple-choice questions on a CD and compete on a computer at their own schools. Teams may use pencils and paper but not books or calculators. The team gets the most points for correctness but faster answers get more bonus points. The fourteen topics range from American History and World History to Math, Physics, Biology, Fine Arts and Useless Trivia.

The Open began in 1983 with 72 schools. Now its two annual contests attract over 3,000 high schools and middle schools and 45,000 participants from the U.S. and several foreign lands.

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