New Classes for '21-'22
Should we be in school?
by Kavya Podila
Latin III ECE is a designed to allow students to pursue their interests in classical literature. This class is a combination of a continuation of Latin 1 and II, an analysis of classical texts, and a study of Roman and Greek cultural truths.
“Latin IV used to be the only ECE option for Latin students,” says Profesora Power. “Many students, however, start Latin as sophomores and would never reach the UCONN credit class. This provides those students an exciting and challenging course with the opportunity to earn college credit. We are also very excited that this course will be co-taught by a UCONN Professor.”
Latin III ECE is a perfect fit for students dedicated to the study of Latin and those with a deep interest in both ancient and modern mythology. The prerequisites for this course are Latin I and II.
Media Studies is designed to allow students to explore their interests in 21st century media formats. Students will get the opportunity to create podcast episodes, YouTube videos, photo essays, and websites. Students will learn to analyze the effectiveness of different media types and examine the purpose of media and its target audience.
“Any student interested in creation, innovation, communication, and collaboration would find Media Studies a great fit,” says Ms. Boutilier, RHS English department chair. “Our aim will be to enhance student voice and message. We need to teach students about the power of language working in concert with visual and auditory imagery to empower their effectiveness as communicators in a modern world.”
Media Studies would be a great class for students interested in modern media and its effects on society, and for those interested in creative projects.
Pictured (from bottom right): Joel Barlow HS (joelbarlowps.org), Ridgefield HS (rhs.ridgefield.org), Newtown HS (nhs.newtown.k12.ct.us), and Wilton HS (wiltonps.org)
3D Design (Jewelry and Metalsmith)
by Aditi Gupta and Zoe Lockard
Innovation STREAM is a semester-long course available to 9th through 12th graders that combines STEM and Humanities. Students will create projects that address real-world challenges. According, to Mr. Griffith, one of the teachers for this course, students will get an opportunity to cultivate communication skills and apply their knowledge and research to the real world.
“This course is ideal for students interested in self-design, creative problem solving, and self-discovery with a 21st-century approach to learning with a focus on curiosity, innovation, and civic responsibility,” says Mr. Griffith. “What's most exciting is how it will mirror elements of our existing Science Research class, which gives students greater agency to pursue their scientific passions, but it will also include humanities and social science components that aim to effectuate societal changes within our local and, potentially, broader community.”
As underclassmen begin their course selection process, they make one of the more sizable decisions in their high school careers - whether or not to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and which ones to take.
The CollegeBoard controls the AP curriculum and exam. Some subjects have more AP options than others. This, combined with decisions made by each district’s Board of Ed, creates variation in the classes offered between high schools.
There are two AP English courses, so these are common among RHS, Newtown High School (NHS), Joel Barlow High School (JBHS), and Wilton High School (WHS).
“These courses work well with the skills, content, and requirements at each grade level,” says Ms. Boutilier, RHS English Department Chair.
The contrast between the other core subjects is greater, given that there are at least five courses per subject.
In general, the RHS Social Studies AP offerings are stronger than nearby schools. Ridgefield is the only to offer AP World History.
WHS offers AP European History, but does not have AP Psychology. JBHS is the only one to offer AP Comparative Government and Politics, which examines global government systems. With that, AP Human Geography is lacking at many schools.
“AP Human Geography came about after a teacher who had taught it previously at other schools came to RHS,” says Mr. Martins, RHS Social Studies Department Chair.
All four schools offer AP Calculus AB/BC, Statistics, and Computer Science.
“We have always offered all three courses in the past and will continue to do so in the future. There is truly never a debate of not running any of these courses,” says Mr. Corbishley, RHS Math Department Chair.
NHS and JBHS also teach AP Computer Science Principles. As a result of lower enrollment interest, this fairly new course is not at RHS.
The Science Departments of the four high schools offer four of the same APs. Still, RHS is one of the few to teach AP Physics II and allow students taking AP Environmental Science to opt for the UCONN credit.
A unique class taught at NHS is AP Physics C, which focuses on mechanics and electricity/magnetism. This may be beneficial to those interested in becoming an engineer.
“To my knowledge, if there is a class that is not being offered, it is not necessarily something that changes easily in a year. It requires board approval and a teacher has to get certified. In Ridgefield, we have kept most of these courses for years now,” adds Mr. Martins.
While there is some distinction between the courses at each school, RHS does offer a wide range of APs across the subjects for those who are interested in the challenge.
3D Design is a half year class open to all students. It is a hands-on, project-based class that allows students to experiment with materials such as copper, silver, brass, and specialist tools involved in manipulating small scale works.
“As the course develops we will incorporate other technologies; forging, casting, etc…” says Michael Rivera, chairperson of the Art department. “The major understanding behind the course is rooted in the concept of artistic adornment. Since the beginning of humankind we've adorned ourselves with reminders of our experiences both personally and culturally. To give significance to our collective life experiences through symbolic means is uniquely human.”
This class is the perfect experience for students who wish to better the abilities in the art field and wish to create beautiful pieces of art.
Latin III ECE
New Classes At
AP: Assorted Possibilities
For the Love of the Game
anywhere but home
While some high school coaches have used covid as an excuse to overlook senior athletes and develop younger players, others have put winning aside and focused on what matters
a satire by Aaron Cohen
Most sports fans are familiar with "tanking": purposefully fielding less skilled teams in order to amass higher draft picks to build a better future.
In the final game of the 2020-2021 NFL season, the Washington Football Team played the Philadelphia Eagles. If the Eagles won, the New York Giants would have won the NFC East and continued to the playoffs. If Washington won they advance to the playoffs instead of the Giants.
Throughout the game, Eagles head coach Doug Peterson made multiple calls that caused NFL analysts to scratch their heads. Despite these poor coaching decisions, the Eagles were still only three points behind going into the fourth quarter in a tight game.
However, everything changed when Peterson benched his starting quarterback Jalen Hurts for the third string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld. Sudfeld, as everyone expected, threw an interception on his first drive and fumbled on his second, letting the score slip to 20-14. Washington went on to win the game, securing their playoff spot and eliminating the Giants.
Eagle’s players were furious after the game and Peterson was fired soon after.
This is not the first occasion when coaches, owners, and general managers have purposefully tanked a game or even a season.
During the COVID-19 pandemic tanking spread to high school sports. The class of 2021 lost much of their junior season, the time when a relationship with a varsity coach would begin for most athletes, to the spring shutdown.
With nothing to owe the older athletes and no real championships to play for, some coaches are cutting more upperclassmen in order to give their younger athletes more experience.
On the other hand, some coaches are making no cuts because the last thing students need this year is another disappointment. Schools and coaches have nothing stopping them from making no cuts to players returning to their program.
The RHS Ski team is an example of a team that made no cuts this year.
Senior captain, Riley Peters spoke about how happy she is “to be able to compete and get to know everyone on the team.”
“Especially this year with COVID and many things being canceled, it's great everyone is able to have this special experience, even if not everyone will be racing.”
It will be interesting to see how schools and coaches address these decisions and the effects they have on the players.
At higher levels it is clear players are against tanking or rebuilding because everyone deserves the chance to win and every athlete should have the goal of giving their maximum effort every game.
No matter the level, athletes and coaches should be playing because they love the game and want to compete. History has shown success will follow.
As you get off of the 4pm shuttle bus, the first thing that hits you is the cold air. Then the feeling washes over you, slowly at first then all at once, the deafening sound of a place that isn’t Ridgefield. And it’s paradise.
Danbury is a picturesque town in Connecticut’s southwest corner once known for its bustling hat industry. But with COVID-19 holding most of Ridgefield captive in this once-beautiful (the downfall happened about 2 months into quarantine) place we call home, Danbury is transformed into a South Pacific utopia. A pocket-sized Bora Bora you can visit for just twelve dollars.
Much like Bora Bora, Danbury has a particular ambience that washes over you in the most exotic of ways after nine months of quarantine.
Sure, it isn’t necessarily a tropical breeze and the soft lapping of ocean against sand, but there’s something beautiful about the dull hum of traffic in downtown Danbury - especially when you recognize it isn’t the same cars that line the streets of downtown Ridgefield.
Those looking for something to do in Danbury could head to the ever-popular Danbury Fair Mall, a pretty average place, but one with just enough to do to remove any thoughts of being stuck in Ridgefield from your mind. The mall is home to close to 200 shops, including some of my personal favorites in Panda Express and Build-a-Bear (a timeless classic of stuffed animal design).
Those who are especially daring might attempt the mall’s famous carousel, which has been routinely ranked as one of the top moving-horse rides for children 10 and under in the greater Danbury area.
For those who want a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a trip to Danbury’s downtown might be in the cards. Ridgefield kids usually stick to the mall area and its surroundings, but Danbury’s Main Street is a peaceful slice of Americana, and not as painfully bright as Ridgefield’s, which has been lined with burn-your-eyes-out level lights for the foreseeable future.
With the coronavirus pandemic still looming and most trips to Bora Bora canceled for the time being, it’s time to find a new travel destination. One that is unexpectedly nice, and cost-effective, and most importantly, not Ridgefield.
I'm talking about a little place called Danbury.
Three years after winning the Super Bowl, Doug Petersen was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles.
By Max Crowley
As the first month of the new year comes to a close, the RHS population has undergone many changes.
More and more students are choosing to learn remote in Cohort C out of fear of being contact traced or becoming infected with COVID-19. With this rapid demographic shift, some students are using the absence of peers from classes to their advantage. Students have expressed interest in coming into school every day in order to learn in person. Thankfully, a new cohort was created solely for this purpose.
Cohort D originally started out as the grouping for students who needed educational aids or those with failing grades in classes. With the increase in fully-virtual learners, however, more and more students were granted the opportunity to learn in Cohort D.
"I switched to Cohort D because I believe I am better educated when I can have in person connections to my classmates and teachers," says Taryn Furey, a junior currently in Cohort D.
According to Furey, Cohort D is benefiting her, and being in school has more advantages than learning from home.
A question that arises from this situation is whether letting students attend school full time is safe and if the risks outweigh the benefits.
As a student currently in this cohort option, I can say with full confidence that changing to this cohort is the smartest action I've taken this year. Not only am I receiving a better education, I am now able to see my teachers in person and create fuller relationships with other students. Lessons are easier to understand, asking questions in person is easier and distractions are limited.
Cohort D has allowed me and other students to finally get the chance to find some normal in this crazy time. If you find yourself struggling to learn from home and would rather be in school for all days, I highly suggest you email your guidance counselor and change to Cohort D!
Junior Sabrina Porter
Junior Taryn Furey
The Best Decision
You Can Make
By Sabrina Porter
Junior Molly Lyons
"I check the state of CT portal each day for updates on when teachers will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination."
Aaron Crook, Health & Safety Compliance Liaison for RPS
Some familiar faces in Cohort D:
by Isabella Crowley
COVID-19 has brought countless new challenges for everyone in the past year, and many decisions regarding the pandemic affect the entire Ridgefield school system each day.
These decisions include contact tracing or the status of our presence in school (i.e., hybrid, remote, or full time.)
“As we receive new information from DPH and CSDE, we modify our approach," says Ridgefield Superintendent Dr. Susie Da Silva. "It has changed a great deal since the start of the year, [including] our original reopening plan.”
Dr. Da Silva adds that there are “daily planned discussions and many unplanned” as a result of the new information introduced to the administration each day.
The status of our learning model is reviewed weekly according to Dr. Da Silva.
From another perspective Mr. Crook, the COVID-19 Health and Safety Compliance Liaison for the district, shares the daily tasks he deals with regarding the pandemic: “We stay up to date of current guidelines and recommendations from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the CDC. We meet every other week to review cases and process questions and scenarios with our Medical Adviser Dr. Ahern.”
Our status in school or the guidelines we must follow are not the only factors that must be dealt with.
“I check the state of CT portal each day for updates on when teachers will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in CT. As of today the website says 'likely March,'" says Mr. Crook.
“Probably the greatest challenges have been the quarantining procedures, keeping the building properly staffed, and communicating with students and families around it,” explains Dr. Greenwood, RHS principal.
It is clear through Dr. Da Silva’s, Dr. Greenwood’s, and Mr. Crook's perspectives that many factors go into every decision in our school system including the status of our learning model.
In addition to the daily decisions arising from the pandemic, RHS moved to a block schedule this year. This was implemented with the intent of enhancing COVID-19 mitigation strategies, by reducing the frequency of student movement and interaction.
“I think the block schedule was an unintended consequence that was perhaps a positive for the whole school community,” says Dr. Greenwood. “Next year we are looking at keeping a similar style schedule.”
In Chinese culture, each year is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals. The zodiac cycle of 12 years always goes in the same order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The Chinese myth behind how this ranking was created takes place in heaven, where the Jade Emperor (the mythical emperor of heaven) decided to host a grand race. He invited all the animals in heaven to participate in the race, but only 12 showed up. Because the animals made an effort to partake in the race, the Emperor awarded each of them a spot on the Chinese zodiac calendar. However, their rank on the calendar would be determined by which place in the grand race they finished in. The race started and the animals ran, with the goal of reaching the Heavenly Gate before the others. The Rat was in the lead when it came upon a wide and deep river. Unable to cross, it thought of a brilliant plan and waited until the Ox arrived. Once the Ox arrived at the river, the Rat jumped onto the Ox and stayed there undetected. It traveled on the Ox for the rest of the race and right before arriving at the Heavenly Gate, it jumped off the Ox and finished the race in first place. The Ox came in second, and though it realized the unfairness of the situation, its maturity allowed it to let its resentment go.
2021 is the year of the Ox. As a Zodiac, the Ox is known for its hardworking, reliable, and calm personality. And though 2020 was just like it’s zodiac the Rat, deceiving and unfair, as the 2021 Chinese New Year just passed, on February 12th, we should used this new year to improve ourselves to be as mature and level headed as the Ox.
By: Casey O'Brien
On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow to decide if winter would persist or spring would come early, depending on the presence of his shadow. This Dutch custom goes back over a hundred years, but this year, Groundhog’s Day seemed like less of an annual tradition and more of an everyday occurrence.
Last February, the first transmitted cases of COVID-19 were detected in the United States. Almost a year later, the same issues that faced our world back then are prevalent in our lives today. Case numbers are still high, staff and students continue to quarantine and daily routines stay to disrupted.
“I believe every day has been repetitive and slow, yet somehow it has almost been a year of being in quarantine. It has felt like a bit of a blur,” says freshman Fiona Carcich.
Like 134 year old Phil, COVID seems like it’s never going to go away. Days have seemed to roll into one as the never ending cycle of COVID talk dominates our lives, leaving everyone wishing for a long awaited break. COVID Fatigue is stronger than ever as the weight of the past year grows.
“I am very ready for COVID to be over… I have felt that it has been harder to get out of bed. Some days I have been very unmotivated due to the unusual changes,” says Carcich.
If you are feeling like every day is Groundhog’s Day you are not alone. Just remember that spring inevitably comes after winter, there will be an end to this pandemic and life will eventually return to normal.
Should We Be In School?
An Editorial by
Photo courtesy of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club
As a student at RHS, I have a deep concern for my fellow peers who have decided “take their talents” to Cohort C.
The global pandemic continues to infiltrate students' educations across the country, and RHS is no different. As a result, the infamous “Cohort C” has grown exponentially throughout the school year, and in the process, created an outlet for cheating, dishonest work, and blatant neglect of student standards set by administration at our revered high school.
In the past, the competitive academic nature at RHS has, more often than not, proved effective in student’s learning. However, this year that desire that resides in students at RHS to receive the best grades possible has manifested itself in a negative way. The utilization of online resources in order to receive higher marks has become too common for comfort.
As these educational websites are being abused at higher rates, the value of education cheapens. Students now feel no motivation to pay attention during class, much less engage in any activity.
Too many students ask themselves the hypothetical question: "why would I waste energy paying attention during class when I could cheat during my tests and still receive higher marks?"
Aside from education, socialization with peers remains one of the bedrocks of the educational system. According to the United Health Foundation, suicide rates in America in 2020 set an all time high of 11.1 per 100,000 people, ages 15-19.
The ability to see friends, classmates, and teachers on a daily basis provides a relief from all the societal issues occurring. In unprecedented times, a setting of constant comfort for students, which for many takes the shape of an open high school, is needed more than ever.
Of course, COVID still remains a risk for many in society. This is why Cohort C should remain an option for students who feel in danger for their own safety or the safety of their loved ones.
However, for most families that view educational standards as a priority, the school should remain open for all students to return.
Ridgefield High School has the space and the resources to provide in-person education for students while still maintaining safety measures such as mandated masks and social distancing, but lacks the will and creativity to do so.
If RHS cares about the education and welfare of their students, administration along with teachers should create a united effort to encourage kids to return to school.
THE YEAR OF THE OX by Tiffany Yin
As the one year anniversary of COVID-19 approaches, it is still impacting our lives.
In November, winter sports were postponed until January 19th, and last week, sports considered low risk by the National Federation of State High Schools and the Connecticut Department of Health, such as Basketball, Boys Ice Hockey, and Boys Swim and Dive were approved for tryouts.
Unfortunately, Wrestling, Competitive Cheer, Competitive Dance, and Boys/Girls Indoor Track & Field were not approved to start at this time.
As a Cheerleader myself, the loss of a competition season is heartbreaking. Cheering for Football in the Fall is fun, but nothing compares to performing and competing.
"Winter Competition season is my favorite part of the year, and I have been looking forward to my senior season for four years." a senior on the Cheerleading team said. As for sports that are still on, they are nowhere near the same as what they usually are.
"Everyone is adapting in a new way," a player on the girl's basketball team said. "With the masks and the new way we play, it can be really hard."
It goes to show that even sports with the best-case scenario still have to make their adjustments.
And for the sports not as fortunate as basketball, RHS and the CIAC are trying to find athletic alternatives.
The school is striving to have expanded coaching contact and strength and conditioning options, and will follow up soon with more information.
The Cheer team still gets to cheer at all the home basketball games this year. So hopefully, every sport that has been postponed will have some form of season.
As cliche as it sounds, everyone is doing their best in these unprecedented times.
Ralphie Gets a Fish
To Be Continued...
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By: Max Crowley, Carter Schroppe, Mike Stamatis, and Juwon Lee
Graphic courtesy of we-ha.com
and winter sports for . . . some
By Cora Fitzgerald
"I've been looking forward to my senior season for four years."
Letter from the Editor
My friends and peers,
It is nearing the time of year where we enter the true depths of winter: a time of isolation, despair, lethargy, and insipidity. However, I urge you all to stay hopeful and optimistic. I urge you all to not forget what we have to look forward to. The beauty and vigor of spring are just right around the corner, despite anything that Punxsutawney Phil claims. . .
Now, let us delve into this month's letter:
I recently received a question from a reader concerning romance during the pandemic. In light of the holiday this month, I thought it would be more than prudent to share some of my advice regarding the inquiry.
Disclaimer: I have had extremely minimal success in the romantic world. I am not qualified to be offering love advice in such a manner. Please don't rely on my words for your future endeavors; however, feel free to take them into consideration :)
The question was as follows: "Mr. S, how can couples possibly maintain the same level of spirit and vitality in the midst of a pandemic? Given all the restrictions and ongoing health risks. . ."
Well, I cannot speak from experience, but I can try my hardest to relate (which will be difficult considering my relationship status). I think the main piece of advice I would tell you is to look for opportunity. As a culture we frequently focus on the bad, when there is infinite good. Allow me to elaborate.
For young couples, I see this pandemic offering opportunities they may never have gotten. I see opportunities to explore the great outdoors with your partner; to go hiking, fishing, biking, sledding, snowman-building, whatever it may be. I see opportunities to enjoy previously-overcrowded activities like ice skating or skiing. I see opportunities to explore new hobbies as a couple, like baking, cooking, sewing, gaming, woodworking, painting, and more. But perhaps most importantly, I see the pandemic as an opportunity to assess the strength of your relationship. Sure, it will be tougher to maintain frequent face-to-face contact, but that does not eliminate the ability to communicate; you can call each other, FaceTime, and my personal preference, write letters.
The pandemic is truly a test of your relationship's integrity. Challenging indeed, but not impossible. As always, I implore you to pursue the positive, rather than dwell in the negative.
Thank you all.