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Students, parents weigh in on middle school STEM proposal

This Monday, Nov. 25, the Board of Education [BOE] had planned on voting on expanding engineering in the middle schools via the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program. But, after a meeting which more than 40 people attended and 16 spoke on the proposal, the board, in light of all the questions and differing opinions, decided to postpone a decision.

The proposal would expand engineering from the current one period a week for eighth graders to two a week for eighth graders and one a week for sixth and seventh graders. To make room for these new courses, the proposal cuts computer classes altogether, sixth grade general music and eighth grade drama and presentation skills.

Many students and parents argued that the loss of the eighth grade drama and presentation skills would really hurt students.

Cutting drama would be “truly a loss,” parent Lisa Mezoff said. Another parent, Greg Greta, agreed,“the idea that we can compensate for this cut is disingenuous.” Many students active in Players, Staples theater organization, also spoke.

Director of Secondary Education Lisabeth Comm noted that the proposal only cut 12 hours of presentation skills over the course of three years.

Not all students are interested in engineering, some said. According to Theo Koskoff, an eighth grader, “It’s more often like a study hall.”

Several parents argued in favor of the proposal as well. The board had originally planned to vote on the issue but postponed its vote until its next meeting, Monday, Dec. 2.

“The board basically has to pick its poison here,” BOE member Michael Gordon said.

The proposal would also expand presentation skills in sixth grade from two periods a week for one quarter to one period a week for the year as well as move music and technology from once a week to twice a week in sixth grade. The proposal would create a “push in” model for computer classes, in which computer teachers come to regular classes to teach when the students are doing something that requires technology, to the sixth and seventh grades that is already in place in eighth grade and kindergarten through fifth grade.

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Ben Goldschlager
Ben Goldschlager, Web News Editor

Ben Goldschlager ’14 is an involved member of the Staples and Westport communities. He’s the president of the Model UN and Artists’ Club, the web news editor for Inklings and is involved in Debate Team, Junior States of America and Young Democrats.

Goldschlager has also spent time volunteering at the library working with the new 3D printers. He gets to train people from the ages of 7 to 60 on how to use them, and he can print things for fun and for practical reasons.

“We have a bookcase at my house that uses these little plastic pins to support the shelves,” Goldschlager said, “but we’d lost two, so I designed and printed two replacement pins and they work.”

After writing his favorite piece, “5 Ways to Seem Like You Get Pop Culture” last year, Goldschlager is excited to come back for a second year of reporting for Inklings.
Bailey Ethier
Bailey Ethier, Editor-in-Chief
Editor-in-Chief Bailey Ethier ’15 has self-described himself in one word as “Texan.” Growing up in Texas, Ethier dreamed of being a professional athlete. Soon enough, however, he realized he didn’t have the athletic ability to do so, and turned to the next best thing, in his opinion: journalism. When he moved to Westport before ninth grade, he decided to join Inklings given the fact that he enjoyed a seventh grade project on sports broadcasting. As a sophomore, Ethier was a Web Opinions Editor, and was then a News Editor as a junior. He is ready to lead Inklings as Editor-in-Chief this year, and is fully committed to the paper. “I absolutely love this paper,” Ethier said. Deeply committed to journalism and hoping to pursue it in the future, Ethier is constantly trying to improve his journalistic skills. This summer, he attended a journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. He then headed to Texas for his eighth year at Camp Champions summer camp in Marble Falls, Texas, completing a three year senior camper program. During his senior camper program, he learned many valuable lessons, including how to lead by example. He hopes to carry his leadership at camp to Inklings this coming year. Ultimately, Ethier hopes to accomplish much during his final year on Inklings. “When people think of highly acclaimed newspapers, I want them to think of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Inklings.”

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