Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chapel Talk: Appreciate cultural diversity

In a recent chapel talk, Jada '15 and Senyte '15 shared an excerpt from an article by Jeremy Dowsett titled, "What my bike taught me about white privilege," and then shared their reflection on the relevance of Dowsett's thoughts to the Peddie community.

Jada: While that was an amazing article by Jeremy Dosett using the analogy of biking to explain privilege in America, we think this topic is relevant and important to consider in our Peddie community. Peddie is a diverse place full of people from all backgrounds. I love how interesting and different the people I’ve met here are. I also think that people's individuality can get lost. Senyte and I hope from this speech we can all become stronger and wiser.

Senyte: At this school we have many resources that allow us to learn about different cultures. Peddie is a tolerant and accepting school. The only problem is that sometimes it seems that our student body falls too deeply into stereotypes of cultures rather than looking at the truth of them. For the students at this school, it can lead to people feeling isolated and unappreciated,... like the other.

Jada: When I arrived at Peddie my freshman year, my world was flipped upside down. I was categorized as just a minority whereas in my previous environment, I didn't have such labels, I was Jada. None of my teachers, dorm supervisors, or coaches were black here, and I was intimidated and hesitant. So I created a bubble for myself, I shut my mouth, and decided I would stay under the radar as best I could until graduation day. It’s worked for the most part, but I don’t like how I’ve changed. I don’t like being reluctant to talk or act like how I do around my friends and family. I want to be genuine with people.

Senyte: Coming from diverse Houston, I wasn't aware of many of the terrible stereotypes that would enclose me in my time here, as I was a very distinct individual at home and that was recognized by my peers. At Peddie, suddenly I had to share my identity with my three closest friends - even though we have incredibly different personalities, our individuality is sometimes ignored by our peers. Can you imagine how frustrating it is to get called a name in class or the dorm that isn't yours by people that you've known for years? It felt like relationships that had been built for years weren’t what I perceived them to be, because that person never really saw me for me, but was instead blinded by one similarity that all three of us shared.

Jada: I became very bitter very fast because of the assumptions individuals made about me. I would not touch someone's hair without asking because it's different than mine. I would not assume to say when I met a white person, “Hey, you must be very good at skiing!" I realized soon, though, that to blame individuals isn’t fair or productive. It is our society as a whole that has to change, and here at Peddie, it is important that we acknowledge the inequalities that still trouble our own community. I love being in a community of people with dreams and the motivation to make them a reality and I thank you all for making me a better person. At Peddie, I have met people of all different backgrounds. But witnessing some of the assumptions and generalizations that are made based on race or ethnicity are tiring to people of color here at Peddie - no matter what culture we come from! 

We are not trying to lecture you like we are so enlightened and perfect - I’m far from it! But all of us are leaders. If we take charge and learn to really care about each other as individuals, I know that we can impact society and, in turn, things will eventually get better. 

Senyte: Think about what you do when you pigeon-hole someone based on their culture. You ignore their personality, discredit their culture’s history, oppression or particular challenges, and ignore their experience as an individual. To assume who someone is based on what he or she looks like is to completely ignore that person.

We have wonderful opportunities with the various cultural clubs that are present on campus. If you feel that you do not know very much about a particular culture or racial group, consider joining a club that focuses on that culture. Pestering that one person you know of a certain culture puts that individual in charge of representing their whole race, which is never how you should go about educating yourself about race. Clubs like the Jewish Heritage Club, the African Heritage Club and the Multi-Cultural Alliance (MCA) are at this school to educate us on how to respect and enjoy other cultures, not to be exclusively for minorities! 

Jada: In life we will constantly encounter people of other cultures. Peddie has given us a great foundation from which to build, but we must understand how our actions and words can impact our peers. Being black is a beautiful thing to me and to simplify my culture through stereotypes is to completely negate its value.

Maybe people stereotype because they are afraid of not being able to control, assume, or understand why people are different. Diversity is a beautiful part of life - to be able to encounter things that we didn’t expect and love them all the same, who would want to change that?

Senyte: Despite our ideas of how awesome and perfect Peddie is as a school we have to recognize that outside problems that seem not to exist here actually do. Oppression exists within our community, luckily only in small doses, like the bumps and piles of gravel Dosett mentioned in his story. Lets try to get rid of those, and stop using stereotypes to define students of color and instead appreciate who they are.

Jada and Senyte: Ala Viva Peddie!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Just Roomie Things

Chrissy talks about the highs and lows of sharing a room. Don't worry, her roommate didn't kill her for this post - they're still best friends!

School’s back in business, and everyone seems to be experiencing a sort of jetlag whether they’re international or not. Two weeks feels like two months and now our brains are playing catch up trying to relearn everything the holidays bumped out of our brains.

Coming back from break, it takes time to get used to moving back in. It’s not those beds or the view… I’m talking about living with that special someone. Occupying Peddie’s campus are 600 students and almost 2/3 of them are boarders. Each of these kids knows just what I’m talking about when it comes to your roommate.

Besides freshmen, we get to choose who to spend the majority of our time with throughout the school year. Coming back from winter break, I missed my roomie a lot. With our reunion I remembered all the things I didn’t sign up for: like her bags dumped out all over the floor, pizza boxes piling up, and of course, the constant camera flash when I’m trying to sleep. But all of this is worth it when you room with your best friend. After all, no one’s perfect (I just found out this morning I talk in my sleep) but these are just roomie things that we learn to adjust to.

Think about it: your roommate at Peddie sees the worst side of you more than anyone else; Just woke up, bedhead, One Direction t-shirt and sweatpants… They have the power to send that snapchat and they don’t! When you decide to start going to the gym more, your roommate is there to make that resolution with you, and quit a week later. Moving back in may be moving into the mess and mayhem, but it also means continuing a crazy adventure side-by-side with your partner in crime.

So when you wake up tomorrow at 5:30 from your roommate clopping around, and go to get a go-go-squeeze and find that they’re all gone, go back to sleep and find another snack, because this is who you chose to live with. And I really hope my roomie doesn’t kill me when she reads this...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Go back to good old peddie and take 100 selfies in a day

Brabeeba '14 returned to Peddie for a visit and with a personal challenge: to take 100 selfies with his old Falcon friends. Success!

Good to see you all! Ala Viva!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Humanities and Harkness learning

Andrea '17 is a day student at Peddie. During her freshman year, she participated in the freshman musical, Godspell, and was a member of the crew team. She started off this year as a yearbook editor, 2017 class representative, and a Blue-Key tour guide.  Here, she talks about gaining self-confidence through Humanities.

When I first came to Peddie, I was pretty shy and quiet.  I would say the thing that really changed that was my Humanities class last year and our teacher Mr. Bennett.  Humanities is a class that every freshman is required to take at Peddie.  The people in your humanities class are also in your community life class, so you end up getting really close with them.  About every other week we had a Harkness class.  In a Harkness class, our teacher gives us a topic, usually about a book we’re reading and then sits in the corner quietly observing us.  The idea of being evaluated on what I said was really scary to me at first.  Our first Harkness was probably the second week of school and we didn’t know each other that well yet.  I was so nervous to talk that I planned out what I was going to say so I didn’t mess anything up.  As the year went on we did more Harkness classes and got more comfortable with each other.  Soon I was able to just jot down some key points and a page number, and my participation really improved.  It was great to be able to see the improvement in me and my classmates as our Harkness classes went from unrelated stiff points to a casual but intriguing conversation with each other.  Humanities last year really helped me become more outgoing and confident in all aspects of my life, not to mention improved my public speaking skills.  I am so grateful for my teacher Mr. Bennett and all of my humanities classmates because they helped me step out of my comfort zone and make amazing friends.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Harry Styles and Blanche Dubois...and what it has to do with you

Abby is a junior at Peddie, currently reading A Streetcar Named Desire in her AP English class. Here, she makes connections between one of the main characters - Blanche - pop culture, and a recent chapel talk by Science teacher Jim Harris.
“Na na na na na na na”
-  One Direction in Steal My Girl, What Makes You Beautiful, Na Na Na, and countless other songs.
The other day, Mia posted this article on my Facebook wall and, needless to say I was stoked. I mean, Rolling Stone Magazine? Harry Styles? Outdated quips and trivia sprinkled in to show that the author of the article is Hip and totally part of the Fandom? Sign. Me. Up.
In the article, Rolling Stone, with its trademark brilliant and nuanced reporting, discusses what makes Harry Styles so successful and why he even matters in a pop industry that is so dominated by women (see: Taylor Swift).
The reasons for his success? He’s edgy while remaining PG. His tattoos show that he’s Cool and Aloof, while his appreciation for his fans shows that he’s Super Nice and Humble. Basically, he’s able to manage all of these seemingly contradictory traits and manipulate them into The Most Successful Image of All Time, all while not having the emotional breakdown that boybands and male pop singers are famous for having.
Pretty unremarkable right? I mean, a pop star, controlling his image so he can sell more albums, sell more tickets, play at Madison Square Garden, and have articles like this written about himself?
That’s totally normal.
Which is totally fine- until you consider that maybe this Image thing is not so confined to British pop stars and Blanche Dubois, and that maybe we’re not so far away from it ourselves.
I mean, wasn’t this sort of what Mr. Harris was talking about in his chapel talk? OK, he didn’t mention Harry Styles by name, so it’s not exactly the same, but it’s the principle.
It’s that thing about being yourself and not a preconceived notion of yourself, or whatever.
And it makes sense that pop stars and movie stars and athletes cultivate these images for themselves to simultaneously create a successful brand and protect their private lives. It’s fine, it serves them well.
But bring it back to us and what excuse do we have? We don’t have tickets or albums or movies to sell. We don’t have tabloids to keep out of our private lives or brands to protect, so what’s our excuse for accumulating all these seemingly desirable traits and then marketing ourselves as if we’re brands?
Why do we spend our time on Facebook and Instagram posting things to reinforce an image we’re creating for ourselves when we’re clearly much more Blanche than Harry Styles?
And the thing is Blanche goes crazy, in the end. Partly because of Stanley, but also partly because who can keep up a fa├žade for that long and not go crazy?
So, in following up a little bit with Mr. Harris’s talk, all I’m saying is that while Harry Styles makes millions of dollars off of his created and manipulated image, by doing the same, we’re not doing much more than imprisoning ourselves, and we’re not so far off from Blanche Dubois.
So, in a few words, you might not want to be an image, you might actually want to be a person instead.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A great weekend to be a FALCON!

On behalf of the Varsity Boys' Basketball Team, I would like to say a very big thank you to our friends, classmates, fellow faculty and families for all of your support this weekend.  Your energy was fantastic and RELENTLESS!

How cool was it to share such an exciting weekend filled with competition and community? The PSIT and its long history represent the best of Peddie and our outstanding tradition of athletics and sportsmanship. Thank you for being a part of such a wonderful and memorable weekend of games.

A special thank you to all of the members of the Athletic Department who helped make this weekend a success and  run so smoothly - Mr. Sodano, Coach deLaurentis, Mrs. Gartner, Mr. Roca, Ms. Gerber,  Mr. Bauer, Ms. Hogarth, Mr. Clements, Mr. Brown and the Voice of Peddie Sports, David Loughran.

Thank you to Mr. Domoracki for setting us up to have a great weekend of hoops!

And thank you to Mr. McClellan for the awesome PSIT TShirts!

It was a great weekend to be a Falcon!

Ala Viva,
Coach Rulewich

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Vespers candles: A symbol of community

Katie '16 is a day student at Peddie. She runs cross country, writes for the Peddie News, and sings in the Chorus. This is the time of year where the strong sense of community at Peddie rings true for her.

Peddie has an extraordinary sense of community. I especially see the strength in Peddie’s community during winter term.

Before winter break, all students and teachers are invited to carol in Annenberg Hall during lunch.

The building is filled with people singing, talking, and having a great time. Students and teachers use their free time to bond as a community during that festive time of year.

Furthermore, during the winter concert, called Vespers Candlelight Service, the choir and bands perform holiday music. 

Everyone who attends is given a candle and during the last song, everyone’s candle is lit. Seeing students, teachers, and their families come to Vespers to support the music department proves how strong the Peddie community is.

When deciding which high school to attend, I chose Peddie because of its close-knit community. However, I know now that I did not fully grasp the strength of Peddie’s community until I became a student here.