Local and School News

Blach Book Club Trying to Make a Big Difference

by Haley F.
Newly inspired Blach 8th graders have decided to make a difference after reading a motivational novel in their book club. Students Haley F., Reilly K., Carolyn S., and Samantha H. are planning fundraisers, taking donations, and spreading the word about the nonfiction novel, The Garden of the Lost and Abandoned by Jessica Yu.

The book is about Gladys Kalibala and her efforts to protect children in poverty. The book takes place in Uganda where homeless children are common, and the government is so corrupt that many children are forced to run away because of the abuse in their homes.  

Admirable Gladys finds these children from local police stations and from her friends who know of her organization. Once she finds these kids, she puts their pictures and their storys in her newspaper column to help them find their families. Unfortunately, many times, she is unsuccessful and ends up caring for the child herself. She was able to send many children to an amazing school, despite her low income.

After reading the novel, these students are unable to forget these problems across the globe. Recently they have contacted the author about their plans to give to her funds for Gladys. Enthused by this information, the author has given them signed copies of the book. In her email she said, “Next time I am headed up there I’ll let you know… it would be nice to have the chance to meet.”

Not only has Jessica expressed her gratitude in the form of signed books and a possible chance to meet, she has gone as far as telling Gladys about these girls.

These students could not be happier to know that someone they truly admire knows who they are and is appreciative of them. Even though they are enjoying their connection with the author, they all say, “We aren’t helping because [we] wanted signed books. We feel that there is no cause more worthy than Gladys’ Garden.”

Haley, Reilly, Carolyn, and Samantha would encourage everyone to donate, however, most importantly, they believe everyone needs to read the book. “After reading this book, you will be so touched that you have to do something to help,” they all agreed.

Major Drama

Sawyer G.

Here at Blach Intermediate school we are pretty good at including the arts in our curriculum. In total we have about eight classes of the arts, one of which is drama, taught by Ms. Meckler.

So what is drama like as an elective? Many kids don’t even consider taking drama, however I speak from experience when I say it is a fun, social class for those who wish to act or to express themselves.

We interviewed Ms. Meckler to find out why she became a drama teacher and what she thought of the program. She has been teaching drama for two years and she started because she has always loved the arts and theater and knew there was a lot of talent here at Blach.

Meckler thinks the theater gets a lot of support in the form of the “awesome” theater and great lights and sound system. Ms. Meckler likes to set the program apart from others by picking more diverse plays that challenge the actors and entertain the audience more.

We also interviewed several drama students to find their views on drama. First time drama student 7th grader Madison Bystrom says drama is really different from other electives. She says they do a lot more, “hands on work” than other classes. Bystrom thinks the other electives are more like subjects and drama really is a free choice elective.

In terms of improvement Bystrom just said that all she would do is make drama a year long elective so more could get done. She believes that Ms. Meckler is really good at teaching and is quite impressive to be able to teach english and drama at the same time, Ms. Meckler says “theater and drama are actually more related than you would think.”

The second drama student we interviewed was Anne Eggleton. Eggleton says drama is a really great way to express yourself and meet people you wouldn’t normally talk to. She says that Ms. Meckler really knows what she is talking about and helps the kids learn more about drama as an artform.

However, Miss Eggleton does wish there were more people in the drama class because they could do bigger productions and she could get to know more people. Other than that she would do nothing more to improve the elective.

So how is drama as an artform? Meckler says that drama is important to children’s development. Studies show that teens need to take risks and compared to the many dangerous risky experiences in our world drama is a safe alternative. It is also a great chaperoned, sheltered way to gain confidence in yourself and in others. It’s important to remember that a production in drama won’t be successful if it’s a one person show.

Next time you are looking for a new elective, check out drama, the elective for social, fun, and loving people who enjoy or wish to express themselves, in other words, my kind of people.

Discipline Levels Plunge: The Lack of Discipline at Blach

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

By Atli A.

The overall discipline level at Blach has been gradually decreasing. Many students have noticed that some teachers have a very high tolerance, and that causes kids to not think about what’s right and what’s wrong to do.

In a class, a multitude of students get detention and even more get warnings. For example, one day the second period class, alone, got four warnings and a detention. At that rate, there would be twenty warnings, and five detentions per day.

This is not the case due, to the fact that some classes tend to be better behaved than others.

I asked Ms. Narula what she thought about the fact that 87% of Blach students have cursed, and she said, “I appreciate you sharing this data with me. We have never had data on just cursing behavior- this is helpful data to us.”

Profanity is a large discipline problem at Blach. Profanity is strictly banned yet plenty of students use profanity at school on a daily basis.

When asked about whether she knew about this profanity, Ms. Narula stated that she hadn’t. Then, we asked for her for what message she wants to send to those who profanatize at school. She said, “Many times, we think that ‘it’s cool to curse’, that’ everybody curses’ and a student feels ‘that they can control when they curse’. The reality is that none of that is true. When cursing becomes a habit, it becomes hard to change.”

She continued saying, “There is nothing funny about it and it usually targets a particular  group. That is not what Falcons stand for and you would not want to be a target of someone’s cursing. When one person makes a decision to not curse, many others follow-Be the leader-understand the power of one!”

She also wanted to mention, “As students, we represent our families and our school -think about it- would you say some of those words if your mom or dad were listening? What about your grandparents? What about your teachers?”

An anonymous source defended profanitizing at middle schools saying, “I believe that profanity should be allowed at school because it hurts no one but no racial slurs should be allowed.” Several others agree with this opinion. They agree, showing that they have likely experienced it or said it themselves.

Some oppose this sentiment, such as Langston James. When asked, Langston James replied, “That profanity shouldn’t be allowed because some cultural beliefs go against it so profanity should only be said in private and not loudly.”

According to the planner, given out at the beginning of the school year, profanity should result in a disciplinary referral. A disciplinary referral is a form that is given to a student if he/she has done something that is very bad. They should also be talked to by Mr. Dewberry or Ms. Narula, according to Mr. Dewberry and Ms. Narula.

It is rather surprising that out of the students we surveyed, 87.5 percent said they have cursed at school. A minority, 13.5%, claimed they haven’t. Profanity and discipline are still problem at Blach.

Blach music program encourages lifelong love for music

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

By Langston J.

Blach students playing music piece “Flight of Valor”

It’s a worthwhile Thursday and the eighth grade band is playing a piece titled “Flight of Valor”. The students who participate in the orchestra and band at Blach feel the program is special in many different ways. Our music program is taken seriously, and the teachers motivate the students to musical futures.

The Blach music program encourages  musical talent in many ways, shapes, and forms. Our teachers use unique tactics to help the students push through stumps that they come across during lessons.

Mr. Vincent Lewis is the band and orchestra teacher at Blach. His lessons are one-of-a-kind and something that the students won’t forget. “It just depends on what the student needs. Sometimes I push them, and sometimes I back up if I see they need it.”

Music can truly impact your life. “I practice almost everyday, which is why I am the first chair. I have worked my way up to it,” states Joey Davancaze, a seventh grade trumpet player.

“I have music [playing] everyday, which is how [it] has impacted me,” comments Mr. Lewis.

In the Los Altos school district, you are required to do a type of music for 4th through 6th grade. If this did not apply, less students would join Blach Music because they would not know what the program would be like.

Joey Davancaze has been playing trumpet since fifth grade. “I really look up to my trumpet teacher when it comes to music. Both of my sisters also did music,” he points out.

Blach Music is known for having a great program among other intermediate schools. There is an immense variety of many instruments because our school has a music fund. Some schools might not have this, which is why there are less students taking music.

“Music is unlike acting; you can play the same song for your whole life, but you cannot play a child’s role as an adult.” Mr. Lewis describes.

To balance out students musical abilities, each instrument section is separated into different “chairs”. The first chair has the most difficult and complex music, and the second has a less difficult, but still challenging, role in the piece.

Mr. Lewis’s first job in music was a band teacher at the Fremont High School in 1997. One year later he moved to Blach.

The Blach music program is special and something to treasure. With remarkable teachers and outstanding curriculum, the music students will have music within them for the rest of their lives.

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