MIT and Harvard Science Olympiads
by Aditi Deokar
February 17, 2020
Alvin and I frantically flipped through the pages of the protein modeling test, trying to find one more problem we knew the answer to. It was Saturday, January 25, and BUA’s Science Olympiad team was competing at the MIT Science Olympiad. We competed against 65 teams from around the US and placed 57th overall, one of our best rankings in recent years at that competition. Our competitors were June Ahn ’20, Rachel Wang ’20, Giovi Hersch ’21, Michael Lang ’21, Ava Landen ’21, Jiahe Niu ’21, Jenny Wang ’21, Eunice Yun ’21, Alice Khomski ’22, Claire Hsu ’23, William Liu ’23, Alvin Lu ’23, Adi Venkatesh ’23, and me. Our best scorers were June and William, who placed 27th in Chemistry Lab, an event in which teams take a test and perform a lab involving a specific theme of chemistry, Alvin and me, who ended up placing 38th in Protein Modeling, an event which involved building a model protein as well as a written test, and Alvin and William, who placed 38th in Wright Stuff, a model airplane building event. All of our competitors had a lot of fun at MIT Science Olympiad, and we gained knowledge that we were able to apply to the Harvard competition the following weekend.
This was our first time at the Harvard competition, which is fairly new, being only in its third year this year. As a competitor, I can say that it felt much easier to me than MIT. In Protein Modeling, Alvin and I found that we knew the answers to nearly all the questions, though we hadn’t prepared much in the week between MIT and Harvard. Overall, BUA’s team ranked much higher, placing 35th out of 59 teams. Our competitors at Harvard were Rachel Wang ’20, Aditya Bachina ’22, Alice Khomski ’22, Zoe Xi ’22, Alyssa Ahn ’23, William Liu ’23, Alvin Lu ’23, Rishi Roy ’23, Salena Tang ’23, Giselle Wu ’23, and me. Alvin and I were ecstatic when we found out that we placed 4th in Protein Modeling, the highest score on our team. Our next top scorers were Aditya and William, who placed 8th in Machines, an event in which teams build a machine to measure the ratios of different masses and take a test, Alyssa and me, who placed 13th in Boomilever, a event in which competitors build a structure similar to a one-sided bridge. Alvin and Alice, who placed 15th in Designer Genes, a test about different topics in genetics, and me, who placed 19th in Chemistry Lab. We had more top-20 ranks at Harvard than we had at any competition in the last two years! Congratulations to everyone on the team for this success! We will soon be competing at the Massachusetts State Science Olympiad on March 21st.
An Evening of Durang and Ives: The Production Process
by Anna Augart and Giselle Wu
January 28, 2020
The BUA Drama Club worked hard to prepare for this year’s winter play, An Evening of Durang and Ives, which ran from January 24th to January 26th. We interviewed some of the cast and crew members about their role in the play.
Angie Zhong (production assistant)
Angie said that her role as a production assistant was to work on building props and listen to the orders of Bill, BUA’s drama teacher. For her, the biggest challenge was that the crew was very small and that the workload varied from last year. She said, “More help and interest in crew is always appreciated! We’d love to see more people help out [in future plays].”
Lizi Zhang (lighting operator)
Lizi ran lights for the play and also helped with other tech crew jobs, such as setting the stage. Lizi said, “During the show, I change the [lighting] based on the progression of the play and our preprogrammed cues, so all the actors can be lit and the light [fits] the setting of the scene.” Lizi’s favorite part of the play was tech week, the week before the first performance of a play in which all the technical elements of the play are put together. She said she has made many friends during tech weeks. “Hanging out with them outside of usual school time and working together with them toward the same goal of putting up a good show is quite a special experience,” Lizi said. To prepare for the play, she read through the script to familiarize herself with all the light cues. She also said that on performance days, she usually came an hour early to do a light check and fix any broken lights. For Lizi, the most difficult thing was dealing with all the scene changes, since this play consisted of many short one-act plays. To anyone interested in taking part in the play next year, Lizi’s advice is to talk to Bill.
Rachel Wang (actress)
Rachel played the DMV lady, Angel, and Flora. Her favorite part of the play was the opportunity to challenge herself with playing different characters. She said, “Due to the nature of short plays, I get to experience and portray vastly different personality types within one single show.” As all the short plays were comedies, Rachel told us, “I learn to present my funniest self through various angles on stage.” She said that the whole cast works together to “create a theatrical world filled with absurd wits and cheerful spirits.” To prepare for the performance, Rachel did several read-throughs of the script. Remarking on her memorization process, she said, “I dissect the lines one by one and play with different interpretations and renditions and then choose my favorite one. Once I remember the entire play, I start to really experiment with different ways to present the character. Even after the twentieth rehearsal, I’d always improvise a little on [the] spot during the twenty-first time, or even on stage.”
Something that challenged her was portraying a character who was not her age. Her own life experiences were highly different from those of these characters, resulting in her having some difficulty relating to the characters’ emotions and actions. For example, in playing one of her roles as the DMV lady, who is older and more sarcastic than herself, Rachel said she often found herself “lost in [the DMV lady’s] words and reactions.” She also had trouble not laughing at the hilarious performances of her fellow actors.
To anyone interested in taking part in the play next year, Rachel says that the commitment level isn’t excessively high, “so there’s no excuse then not to come to rehearsals on time,” and that “nobody wants to see the stage manager, who’s usually the nicest person around, reveal their darkest side.” Rachel says the most important lesson she has learned from doing theater is to always trust herself and her audience, and to “be confident on stage, for soon you’ll find yourself comfortable in the world on stage and later, surrounded by unceasing applause.” Her last piece of advice is to “cherish BUA’s loving Drama Department — you’ll miss the small, warm community very much, as I do now, as a pathetic senior.” She says to Bill, “Bill, you’re amazing, and we love you so, so much!”
Soccer Season Highlights
by Joie Liu
December 1, 2019
As the ball soared into the goal, crowds went wild. Boston University Academy had won. It was the start of a winning streak that would lead the boys soccer team to the semifinals.
This fall at BUA was widely regarded as one of the best fall soccer seasons ever, especially with the founding of the first girls soccer team. As this was a new team, there was much anticipation to see how the girls would do. The team did not disappoint. Their final score of the season was 3-2-5, with 3 wins, 2 losses, and 5 ties. Allie Burdi, co-captain of the team, wanted to give special shoutouts to Susanna Boberg, Sarafina Madden, Cass Swartz, Benista Owusu-Amo, and Jackson Phelps. Additionally, she said, “One of the games that stood out the most to me was probably the first match against the British International School of Boston. Although ranked higher than us in the league, the girls fought hard and we managed to tie the game.” During Fall Festival, the team succeeded in soundly defeating the Woodward School 7-0.
The boys soccer team also did exceptionally well, making it to the semifinals of Division One and to the quarterfinals of the NEPSAC Regional Championship tournament. They competed against private schools of similar size across New England. According to co-captain Will Reason, two winning games that stood out during their season were home games at Nickerson against Brimmer and May, with a score of 1-0, and against Boston Trinity Academy, with a score of 3-1. These two consecutive games led the team on a winning streak that ended with a record score of 7-1-1: 7 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie. Will noted the amazing energy of the crowds during games, and wanted to point out that players Ewan Henderson, Phevos Paschalidis, Rohan Prabhu, Arman Karim, Douglas Hazel, Kealan Biebesheimer, and Nicket Mauskar all performed especially well. Furthermore, he said, “I think that camaraderie and sheer team determination to improve is what brought us to where we are. That, more than anything, is worth emphasizing.”
Open House: The Student Volunteer Experience
by Aditi Deokar
November 13, 2019
On Sunday, November 3, I, along with many other BUA students, chose to spend about four hours helping our wonderful admissions team speak to prospective applicants about our school. To be fair, most of us were probably there for the community service hours. That didn’t mean we weren’t doing the work, though. Students are essential to making the open house happen and we do the majority of talking to families.
First, from 11:30 to 12:45, we walked with families over to the Law School Auditorium, where a panel of other BUA students was holding a Q&A session. Since the walks over were the families’ first introduction to BUA, it was important to keep them engaged. As a tour guide, much of the information about BUA flowed naturally, so I focused on making a conversation and getting the students engaged. Most students are a bit shy since they are in a new environment, so I often did not receive many specific questions. In those cases, I asked the student what their favorite subject was and talked about how that subject is taught at BUA. The parts of BUA life that I highlighted most often were the ability-based math placement test, the inverted science progression (physics-chemistry-biology), the BUA-only BI 107 class that prepares students for BU classes, and the discussion-based English and history classes. These are some of the most distinctive facets of BUA classes, and student volunteers who have attended classes in all the subjects are better equipped to talk about them and share personal experiences than a teacher or an admissions officer.
The next portion of the open house, from 1:00 to 3:15, involved volunteers being assigned to specific rooms, one per subject, where they told students about that particular subject. This open house, I was assigned to history — in the past, I have spoken about classics, math, and science. We noticed that, compared to the last open house, there were many more seventh graders who were looking to apply in another year.
All in all, I had a very fun experience at this open house, and I enjoyed telling prospective applicants about the great community we have at BUA.
Halloween Costume Competition
by Anna Augart and Giselle Wu
November 5, 2019
As you may know, the BUA Halloween Costume Competition took place on October 31! There were 3 categories for the winners: Most BUA, Most Creative, and Most Scary! We interviewed 2 of the winners, Sidra Tully and Aditi Deokar, as well as a few other people who dressed up. Congratulations to the winners, and great job to everyone who was in costume!
Most BUA: Aditi Deokar
Aditi dressed up as the Raven from Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven.” Her costume was composed of black wings, a raven mask with a beak, black pants, a black dress, and a black netted shawl, which Aditi noticed had created a “surprisingly cool effect of feathers.” She also tried to say the refrain of the poem, “Nevermore,” as much as possible. Last year, Aditi’s costume was the Green Knight from the medieval poem “Sir Gawain,” which she read in English class. She said, “At that time, I won the prize for Most BUA Costume, and I wanted to go for the same prize this year. The most interesting and Halloween-y costume from English this year I could come up with was the Raven.” She bought the wings on Amazon and the mask at Party City. Congratulations, Aditi!
Most Creative: Sidra Tully
Sidra’s costume was a dress made out of plastic bags. Sidra loves art, and this dress was her independent art project. She put a lot of effort into this dress, and she told us, “I made my costume by cutting the bags and hot glueing them back into the shape of a dress.” It took her about 10 hours to make this amazing dress! Great job, Sidra!
Claire’s costume was a black cat, and she put a lot of effort into making it! She is very interested in fashion design. First, she designed the costume and drew a rendering of it. She then selected a soft velvet fabric to create her costume. She said, “I drafted my own pattern for the costume based on my measurements and the stretchiness of the fabric. This process took a very long time! I then constructed the costume with my serger, a special type of sewing machine used for raw edges and stretchy fabrics.” Claire finished her costume off with a pair of cat ears. Her costume took her around 20-30 hours.
Dr Bain’s costume was a replica of the exact stormtrooper costume worn in the original Star Wars movie. He had wanted a stormtrooper costume since he was young, and he told us, “Now that I’m an adult, I can afford one.” He bought the plastic pieces on the internet, and has spent about 20 hours gluing and assembling the pieces, although it still isn’t done!
Mr. Ford dressed up as a Red Sox player. He informed us that the Red Sox were a major part of his childhood, especially since his mom is a huge Sox fan. Mr. Ford was inspired by Game 7 of the World Series, which was the night before Halloween, so he “felt in the mood for some baseball stuff.” His costume was composed of items he already owned: A Red Sox cap, his baseball mitt, and his jersey. Mr. Ford told us, “My jersey has FORD on the back and features #33. Some of my favorite Boston athletes have worn #33. My absolute favorite is Jason Varitek, who was captain and catcher for the Red Sox from 1997-2011, but [I also like] Larry Bird of the Celtics, Zdeno Chara of the Bruins, and Kevin Faulk from the early-2000s Patriots, so I have worn #33 whenever I could [when] playing sports.”
You may have noticed Ms. Barr’s Halloween-themed skirts around BUA. For Halloween, she wore one of her spooky skirts and dressed up as an enchantress casting spells. She told us, “I based my outfit idea and inspirations around my retro skirt by Ben Cooper, Inc.” She bought most of her costume pieces from Party City. Mrs. Barr finished her costume off with an evil makeup look that took her 45 minutes.
Once again, congratulations to everyone who dedicated themselves to the Halloween Costume Competition! Thank you for making this Halloween memorable for us, and we look forward to seeing everyone in costume next year!
Interview with Incoming Head of School Mr. Kolovos
by Aditi Deokar and Zoe Xi
October 26, 2019
How did you get to where you are now? More specifically, how was your high school experience? Did your time at Roxbury Latin influence your decision to become an educator and/or an administrator?
I feel so lucky because I am one of those people who is doing exactly what I dreamed of doing when I was a kid. My parents are immigrants from Greece; they never went to college, but really value education. With their support and guidance, I found my way to Roxbury Latin from 7-12th grade. That’s where I found my people! I was surrounded by friends who loved to read, loved talking about big ideas, loved the arts — just like I did. Plus, it’s where I made some of my best friends, who are still close to me to this day. I had incredible teachers and mentors: my headmaster, Mr. Jarvis; my chemistry teacher and newspaper advisor, Mr. Pojman; my history teacher, Mr. Ward; my art teacher and soccer coach, Mr. Buckley; my English teacher, Mr. Kerner; my theater director, Mr. Frank; my Latin teacher, Mr. Brennan; my college counselor, Mrs. Melvoin; and so many others. I loved school and wanted more than anything to devote my career to doing the kind of work I watched them do. It took me a while to do that, though. I studied history at Harvard, but rather than go right into teaching, I spent some time as a management consultant. Like a lot of kids who are in that first generation, I felt some pressure to find a career that is more lucrative and, according to some, has more social status. Then I headed back to Harvard for law school, clerked for a wonderful judge, and was all set to work at one of the big law firms in Boston. That’s when, with the help of one of my best childhood friends, I decided to take a chance. I took a job at Belmont Hill School teaching history, coaching soccer, coaching debate, and directing musicals. And I loved every minute of it! Just like I suspected when I was a teenager, teaching was for me. That was not an easy decision, but I am so glad I made it. I worked at Belmont Hill for nine wonderful years, before moving on to Greens Farms Academy in Connecticut, where I’ve been for the past seven years. Ever since I started working in schools, I have loved going to work every day. And all those experiences have made me a better teacher and leader, ready to join the community at BUA and help lead the school in this next generation.
How would you connect to the students?
I’m a teacher. The reason I started working in schools is that I love spending time with young people. At Belmont Hill, I connected with students as a history teacher, advisor, coach, director, and mentor — I still stay in touch with many of the alums I taught there. At Greens Farms Academy, I still teach and coach, in addition to my other work. It’s so important to me to stay connected to students, for two reasons. One is that it helps me lead. How can I know how to lead a community if I’m not connecting with students every day? Students are the ones who live the experience and are the experts in the culture. Another reason? Spending time with students is where the joy comes from! My best days are ones when I get to spend most of my time with students. Ask any of your teachers — they will tell you the same thing.
On my visit to BUA this October, students were my priority. That’s why I greeted every student on the way into the all-school meeting, why I sat with the juniors during their class meeting, why I visited a dozen classes, why I had lunch with students both days, and why I hung out at Fall Fest and the soccer games (way to go to both teams on their big wins!). Students will be my priority throughout my time at BUA, which I hope is a very long time!
What do you think is the most important job of a head of school?
When I have a hard decision to make, the first question I ask myself (and my colleagues) is “What’s in the best interest of the students?” My most important job is making sure that we keep students at the center of our conversations so that we move the school forward in a direction that best serves the students who are here and preserves a wonderful student experience for generations to come. That means making sure we have the resources to support the tremendous teachers at BUA. That means making financial aid a priority so that we can open the doors of BUA as widely as we can to the best students from around the Boston area. That means ensuring that the curriculum and the extracurricular program gives students the skills they will need to navigate their courses at BU, to succeed in college, and much more importantly, to live happy, successful, and purpose-driven lives as citizens of their communities. That means celebrating those core parts of BUA’s culture that make it distinctive and that we all love. And that means unifying the whole community around a vision for the future that embraces the school’s history and gets everybody excited for how we change and move forward together.
What changes would you make to BUA, and specifically to the BUA curriculum?
My first job at BUA is to learn. Like I did during my visit to campus in October, I plan to do a lot more listening than talking; fitting that we have two ears and one mouth! I have already learned so much about this beautiful community where students love learning, where young people form life-long friendships with one another, where there is such a close, mentoring relationship between teachers and students, and where students have access to the incredible opportunities at Boston University. Those are things that will not change. That is who we are. They are part of BUA and part of why I have fallen in love with the place. As I listen and learn, I also want to pay particular attention to the ways we can all make this community better. I want your ideas.
What is something you do for fun, and why do you enjoy it?
Can I offer a few things? I love to do the New York Times crossword puzzles, especially on Sundays. There’s something so relaxing and fulfilling about matching wits with the puzzle creator and discovering the puns and tricks embedded in a puzzle. My wife and I like to do them together sometimes, which makes them even more fun. I also love taking my dog Circe for long hikes. She’s a 45-pound rescue dog who loves to run through the woods and chase after unsuspecting squirrels! She has never caught one and probably never will, but I admire her determination! Cooking has been a hobby of mine for a long time. I grew up cooking Greek food with my mom, and we still cook together sometimes, but I’ll cook pretty much anything these days — it’s a nice way to be creative and a great way for me to relax. And I’ve been playing guitar and singing since I was little. My father was a professional musician, so I grew up around music. He and I still play Greek music together, which I love. Maybe we’ll play at BUA sometime. What do you think?
What are three adjectives that you would use to describe yourself?
Kind, Curious, Motivated. If I say humble, is that ironic?
Freshman Student Council Elections
by Tatum Mueller and Joie Liu
October 17, 2019
With the student council elections coming up this Thursday, please take some time to read through this article and get to know the 9th grade candidates: Condredge Currie, Alex Jin, Ittai Nelken-Regev, Ajay Raman, Rishi Roy, Lizzie Seward, and Matthew Volfson! Although some of them already chose to tell us about their plans and goals for this year, we expect to hear more about their ideas during their speeches on Thursday. We wish them all the best of luck with their campaigns. There are only three 9th grade positions available so be prepared to vote for three people. As you read, keep in mind that you will hear all of them speak on Thursday during class meeting, so don’t make any final decisions yet!
Condredge is eager to contribute towards BUA’s success in any way that he can, whether it be through changes in policy, fun events, etc. He wants to make school an enjoyable experience for everyone.
“I am eager to create a pleasant and cohesive environment that we as the class of ’23 and those who follow will be able to enjoy to the fullest while we walk these great halls.”
Alex’s main goals for the student council this year include relieving stress for students, and we expect to hear more about the ways in which he plans to do so during his speech on Thursday.
“As an elected representative for student council, I want the best for those I represent. For me, that includes relieving stress by optimizing student schedules (for example, postponing final week school start times) and increasing representation by streamlining feedback processes and listening more to what students have to say. If I am elected, I will devote myself to my public duty.”
Ittai is clearly dedicated to student council, and he will put in the effort to make real changes in our school.
“I hope to reduce student stress levels, and I am ready to make the required commitments that it takes as a member of the student council.”
Ajay is committed to student council; he has attended every student council meeting during Friday academic block since the beginning of the year. Although he also attends MUN, he says that he will put in the effort and time necessary to be an active member of student council.
“I am very passionate about student council and wish to accurately represent the Class of 2023 in the Student Council in order to make change in the BUA community.”
Rishi is committed to student council, and he has been present at the student council meetings. He enjoys public speaking, traveling to other countries, drawing, and track.
“One of the reasons I am running for student council is because I want to help ensure that all students get their voices heard. Everyone wants to get their opinion across, so I want to make sure no one is left out of decision making. I believe that my creative touch can contribute a lot to the BUA community, and I’m extremely serious about the upcoming election. If I am chosen, student council will be a top priority for me.”
Lizzie is dedicated to student council, and she has been present at student council meetings.
“I’m running because I want to help the community.”
Matthew is interested in history and politics, and in addition to student council, he is a dedicated member of MUN.
“Though I have not been in student council before, I am still interested in political affairs and working and talking with real people about real issues. Last year, my friend Evan and I worked at his school to start a Green Club encouraging middle schoolers to be more environmentally conscious. At one point, one third of our middle school joined the club. But I don’t think that this is the only important description of my experience and eagerness to connect and voice the opinions of other fellow students. I believe that it is possible for me to push teachers and other important school officials to a certain level to increase the power of the student council. Also, I want to encourage BUA students to be more respectful of our environment, specifically, starting a new trash pickup close to the highway next to our school. Additionally, I want to have a fundraiser to increase the power of our student clubs by possibly selling hot chocolate and cookies every Monday at the school.”
The Classics Declamation Contest: Behind the Scenes
by Aditi Deokar
April 12, 2019
As a two-time participant in the Classics Declamation contest and one of the winners this year, I would like to share some insider information on what it’s like and what goes into the short performance that you see at ASM. It’s a lot of work, so you might wonder why anyone would choose to do it on top of all their other homework. I personally do it because I truly like Latin, especially Latin poetry, and I really enjoy saying and hearing the language as real Romans would have.
The first thing I always do is to make sure to pick a passage in which a person is talking, instead of narrating, and in which there is a strong emotion, such as anger, love, or hate. I’m sure you noticed that the people who actually captivated your attention were all displaying such emotions. This year, I chose a passage from the Aeneid where the ghost of Aeneas’ wife, Creusa, is telling him not to grieve for her because he has such a bright future ahead of him. Aeneas responds by trying to embrace the ghost, an action that proves futile, as it slips from his grasp three times. Personally, I prefer doing poetry because I find the rhythm of the meter helpful in memorizing.
In this regard, the first thing I do after picking my passage is scanning it, or figuring out the exact meter of each line. Then, I translate it with the help of my Latin teacher. While not necessary, this helps me get to know the passage, and the conversations we have about each line can also help me with memorization and make it easier for me to act them out.
Then, I start memorizing. About a quarter of this happens before spring break, about half during break, and about a quarter after. Some people like to do one or two lines each day, but I prefer to memorize a larger chunk of four or five lines on one day when I have some free time and then keep solidifying it for a few days until I feel ready to move on. Usually, I don’t set aside specific time to work on it every day. Instead, I keep the text with me on my phone and try to recite as much as I can when I have spare time.
Finally, I have to think about the best way to act out the emotions and the words. Acting is what distinguishes the few people who know all the lines, so it is the most important part of the declamation for someone aiming to win. It’s also what makes the biggest impression on the audience. Mostly I focus on this only in the last few days, because after I have perfected the memorization, I can focus most of my attention on the acting.
All in all, participants in the Classics Declamation Contest must spend much effort, but the experience is rewarding and the workload shouldn’t be stressful as long as you spread it out and make the most of spring break.