Voices

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Railroad tracks at Birkenau.

Lauren Deutsch

Guest Writer

This is the first post in a series of reflections from Milken seniors currently on March of the Living

A few days ago, I had the once in a lifetime chance to march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the concentration camp that my grandma was forcefully taken to 72 years prior to that day. When we arrived, I looked out into the acres filled with chimneys, brick bunkers, and watch houses, and couldn’t help but imagine six million unique faces peering at me through the endless gates. I looked down at the grass, which was overflowing from the train tracks, and questioned how nature could grow and stem from a place that houses death and endings. The March of the Living has ultimately changed me and my appreciation for Judaism and its people’s inhibition and perseverance. We are still here and we are not going anywhere.

 

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Michael Schulman

Staff Writer 

Every generation has a coming-of-age movie: the 80’s has The Breakfast Club, the 90’s has Clueless and my generation…we have High School Musical. Growing up as a Disney kid, High School Musical greatly influenced my idea of what high school would be. No, I did not think the entire student body was going to break out into song and dance at lunch time, but I expected that the social dynamics of West High School would be similar to Milken’s. However, to my delight, I was wrong. My high school experience was better than any stereotypical Hollywood movie because it was unique to me and my class.

For those of you who have not seen the cinematic masterpiece High School Musical, it centers around popular basketball “it-man” Troy Bolton, played by my boy Zac Efron, and his quest to break from the social stigmas of high school. The film cleverly comments on how no one is bound to the norms of their clique, as Troy longs to sing in the school musical, an act which would be looked down upon by his team.

No, I did not think the cliques at Milken would be that extreme, but I definitely thought they would be exclusive like they were in Hollywood films. Yes, I have my “squad,” and everyone at Milken kind of has their group, but the people at Milken have always been welcoming even if I was not that close to them. That is the other thing the movie got wrong, friend groups at Milken are not so strictly organized like they are in pop-culture. People are usually friends with those who share similar interests, but the people who I have met in high school are far more unique. The reality is that we are all different: we are not just athletes, student leaders or artists. We are much more. This place has not just been a school, it has been the place where we discovered who we truly are. Not only did I learn that I love being a student leader, but I learned that I have the ability to make people laugh. Whether laughing at me or laughing with me, I found joy in making my teachers and peers smile.

I am proud to have gone to a school with warm, kind people who have made me feel part of a family. Every movie about high school views the experience as a “job,” and just a stage in your life that you have to get through. High School was not a smooth road, but when I look back on this experience I will not remember the stressful study sessions or the up-hill climb that is the college process. Rather, I will remember the incredible people who endured and experienced it with me. This place has given me a safe space to fail and grow. I can now enter the world confident in my abilities. Every student every day entered Zeldin’s Way with the goal of being better. Even though it was a short amount of time in the grand scheme of our lives, we were “all in this together.” And for that I am forever grateful.

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Evan Satlin

Staff Writer

 

As Americans, we are now in an awkward period where the president has been elected and inaugurated, and we are waiting to see how his legislative actions will affect the world. We wait patiently because we want to know if President Donald Trump is going to be the president America needs. However, this does not stop the public from sharing opinions that are often not based on facts. Although I support the right for people to publicly express their beliefs, I prefer for such opinions to be backed with research and facts.

 

I have spoken with people and have seen countless posts on Facebook from friends who voice their opinion with inaccurate information, and frankly, it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. “Obama was the worst president in American history.” “Women should not complain about their rights.” “Donald Trump deserves to be dead.” “Why do old people vote? The election isn’t for them.” Hearing opinions like these without factual evidence makes me sad as an American. We now live in a time where articles, information and facts are right at our fingertips, yet people still refuse to do a quick Google search before blabbering about why they are right about a certain subject. Granted, looking at a few articles may actually confirm your biases, with all of the fake news and “alternative facts” available

 

I took Race, Class and Gender (RCG), which is probably from where my intolerance towards opinions made without evidence stems. On multiple occasions, my teacher, Dr. Nick Holton, has said “Assumptions make an ass out of you and me.” He makes a point to teach all of his RCG students that they should not assume that they know something without actually taking the time to research or learn about it.  

 

Just the other day, I had a very civil and educated debate with a good friend of mine about America’s financial status, and which candidate would have made the greatest impact on immigration, the economy and social affairs. It was one of the most productive conversations I have had in a long time because we agreed on some opinions, disagreed on others, but in the end we stayed civil and did not get heated…in fact, our friendship grew even stronger. As Americans I feel we should not just make it our civic right to be able to vote, but our duty to research all of the candidates, and vote for who we most agree with and can be most comfortable with running our country. This election, only about 50% of Americans voted. If we want change, we need to put in the time to pursue that change.

Looking at even more current events (wiretapping, editing the immigrant ban, terrible voter turnouts in local elections), it is important to not only consider multiple sources, but it is equally as important to know what those sources are. If you are looking at a biased article, look at another one favoring the other side. As I’ve stated before, the best opinions are those that are completely thought out and well-researched, but they can be hard to distinguish without research of your own. With all of these opinions going around (especially in the political world), it is important to listen to all of them and filter out the ones that you think are best. We are the future of our country. Let’s represent the United States as best we can.

 

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Tiana Torkan

Guest Writer

As second semester seniors, much of our thought processes revolve around the concept of time. I mean, at this point in our lives, who could blame us?

As second semester seniors, we have all reached the final stage of the — dare I say it — college application process, and the tedious process of writing variations of the same essay is thankfully over. However, almost all of us have found the waiting period to be just as dreadful. By April 1st, we will receive an answer from every college we have applied to letting us know if we have been (worst-case) denied, (best-case) accepted, or (ugh-case) waitlisted. These college decisions are not just pieces of paper stating whether or not we’ve been admitted to a university; they represent where we might potentially spend the next four years of our lives, who we might be surrounded by in that period of time, what we will spend extensive hours studying, etc., etc. At some point within the next year, our lives will completely deviate from what we’ve forever been accustomed to, and given that this change is so incredibly pivotal, it would be nice to know in what direction we will diverge. Yes… April 1st doesn’t seem to be that far away. But as we continue to approach the date, each day seems to be growing longer than the one before.

As second semester seniors, we also have numbered days— 14 days to be exact. Fourteen days until our time of sunbathing in the amphitheater, listening to music and playing some variation of volleyball will come to an end. Fourteen days until we will be thrown into a foreign environment with a completely different population, until our high school career is entirely over. Like I said before, at some point this year, our lives are going to completely change. So as I look at my calendar, counting down the days until April 1st’s approach and realize that it’s nearly the same amount of time us seniors at Milken have until we leave, I begin to hate myself for not using what little time I have left to truly appreciate where I am. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back at my last semester of high school and regret having wasted so much time idly dwelling on my future, even if it is going to change so drastically. I’d rather reflect on the late night adventures I went on with friends, spontaneous day trips to the beach, new friendships I formed, or old ones I rekindled. I want to look back at my last semester of high school and think of the moments my friends and I spent messing around on campus, or the times I dragged all of them to come with me to Bigg Chill. I want to remember the endless laughs we shared, the feelings of immense gratitude I held towards both friends and faculty, and frankly anything but the times I chose to stress out over something that’s out of my control.

Waiting for these letters may be annoying and frustrating and tiresome and maddening, but there will be time for us to think about our futures later. Right now is not that time, and in our last few weeks of high school, I encourage you to indulge in the now rather than being consumed by the uncertainty of our futures.

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Justin Leff

Editor-in-Chief

If you ask ten Milken students what their favorite Milken tradition is, odds are you’ll get at least a few senior Purim shpiel responses. The senior shpiel has become an integral part of student life at Milken, and the annual viewing of the parody video at the Purim town meeting creates an unmatched excitement surrounding the school day.

The annual senior Purim shpiel is a video of about 20 minutes that satirizes and ridicules Milken’s many faculty as well as the overall character of the school. The graduating class is privileged with the responsibility of creating a shpiel that accurately and hilariously depicts the Milken experience.

The shpiel also serves as an opportunity for seniors to prove that they can create one of the most memorable shpiels in Milken history. The most widely acclaimed shpiel in Milken history is “Gong with the Wind” (2013), which follows Milken security guards as they search around the school for a missing gong (which each grade used to have and would feature during their class meetings). The guards would end up around campus in various classrooms and other situations as faculty members were impersonated by their senior students.

Having worked as a writer and executive producer of the upcoming 2017 Purim shpiel, I have learned a lot of insider information from speaking with administration and former shpiel creators. Each year, the plot is a much debated issue amongst the seniors. The 2014 shpiel parodied The Hangover and the 2015 shpiel parodied 21Jump Street. However, based on YouTube viewership and the overall consensus amongst current students, a parody of a movie is not the best way to go. I believe that parodying a movie takes away from the focus of shpieling what’s most important: the faculty and the school. A movie parody creates guidelines that often limit where a shpiel can go.

“Gong with the Wind” and “Finding Gary” are both hits on YouTube, each with thousands of views. Both shpiels went with an original idea and were, therefore, able to highlight all the classic moments we remember today. Even the 2012 shpiel, “My Milken Moment” succeeded since its simple plot of recalling a Milken moment allowed for classroom scenes and teacher impersonations to constantly flood the screen.

This year, I can confirm that we went with an original idea following the style of the sitcom The Office. A camera crew comes to film the new promo for Milken and travels through the school to capture their footage. The Office is a style that we followed, but not a theme that we needed to stick with. The simple plot allows for a lot of flexibility, as opposed to the rigid structure of parodying a movie plot.

This year’s shpiel will premiere at the Purim Town Meeting this Friday, March 10, and will be available on YouTube shortly after.

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Hannah Newman

Wildlife Editor 

We’re almost done. Isn’t it crazy to think about all the time that has passed? The stressful weeks and the fun weekends. All the memories we’ve made together, at school and after. We’re about to go from seeing the same people every single day to meeting a new person every single day we walk to class.

We’re all spreading out, whether it’s across the country or around the world. With our time running out, we shouldn’t take one second for granted.

Thank the teachers who have helped you along the way. Don’t forget that your college acceptances and accomplishments are because of your teachers who have been there for you no matter what and supported you unconditionally.

In these last few weeks, don’t throw everything away.

Continue working hard in your classes, even if only to show respect for your teachers. Make an effort to get to know people outside your close circle of friends and appreciate those who have been there throughout the whole ride.

Pick one teacher and talk to them outside of class.

Do something outside of your comfort zone.

Take a lot of pictures.

Explore your city.

Once you’re gone, the last thing you want is to regret your last few months of high school. So get out there and make sure to make the most of the time you have left at Milken. I know I will.

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Michael Schulman

Staff Writer

It’s a regular Wednesday night and while some are relaxing and unwinding with The Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory, I relax and rewind with my favorite show of all time: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Though Will and the Banks family have not been on air for over 20 years, I find a way to spend 30 minutes with the family every night. A simpler time the 90’s was: N’Sync was still together, Shaq and Kobe liked each other, and technology was pretty much nonexistent. Why does this appeal to me? Why do I love reruns of a TV show that was made before I was born?

As it turns out, today’s modern pop-culture is actually anything but modern. Corporations try to capitalize on consumers’ nostalgia through retro toys, film and even food. Netflix, for example, brought back the 90’s family sitcom, Full House. All the old cast members were brought back not to finish an important storyline, but to tug at the hearts of fans who remembered the fondness of the show. While this may give Netflix an excuse to stop creating new shows, from a financial perspective, this is genius. They brought back Full House to cash in on all of the grown up Millennials who grew up watching the show. Millennials also happen to make up the largest percentage of viewership on Netflix. Nostalgia does not just affect Millennials, as I soon learned that older generations look to recreate the past too.

I used to think that my dad was not very sentimental about the past until I saw him watching the reboot of the 1980’s detective show, Macgyver. I tried explaining to him that the show “is not very good, and just a cash grab.” I was totally expecting him to defend it, but he simply said, “I know.” My dad was in college when the original came out and tells me that he is “reminded of college every time” he watches it. He watches Macgyver because it reminds him of a simpler time in the 80’s when he was a free, somewhat rebellious graduate student exploring Los Angeles on his own.

Theme parks, carnivals and baseball stadiums are examples of attractions that use nostalgia to boost their profits. Baseball, for example, is known as America’s pastime. The organ music, Cracker Jacks, and overall aesthetic of the baseball stadium transports me to the past.  I have fond memories of watching the Dodgers and my favorite player, Shawn Green, with my dad. Even to this day, I go back to Dodger Stadium and eat the original chocolate malt that is only served at that particular place. Although I do not even think it is very good, I must have one every time I go to the ballpark. It’s tradition. I feel like I missed out and did not gain the entire baseball experience until I get my six-dollar ice cream. Everytime I step into a baseball park, I try to recreate a childhood memory that has long since faded away.

Psychologist Sigmund Freud was one of the first to note the power of the past. He believed that our childhood memories shape our personalities and behaviors. To an extent, he was right. Alan Hirsch from the Center of Consumer Research defined nostalgia as “a yearning for an idealized past, the bittersweet nature of it becomes clearer. One can never return to this past.” Our memories are not just images. They are special moments that define our character. Nostalgia can help us evoke some of these long lost feelings; however, we can never truly recreate the past.

So is there something wrong with being so fixated on the past? As we grow out of Heelys, Hot Wheels and Ring Pops, and enter the world of college, taxes, and responsibility, sometimes we need nostalgia to maintain a positive attitude.

I love The Fresh Prince of Bel Air because it reminds me of my family. As a child, during every family event or holiday, I would sit down with my cousins and watch another re-run of that show. Today, as I turn on my TV to watch the show once again, my heart warms with the memory of my childhood “cousin time.” The whole family is older now and we have all gone off on our own paths so we do not get that time together anymore. However, we can still benefit from nostalgia to make us feel better even on our worst days. That is why if I ever have a “rough day” at school, I always know that I can end my day with a much younger Will Smith and a story about how he became the Prince of Bel Air.

 

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Lauren Cohen

Voices Editor

As 2016 drew to a close, social media teemed with accusations – convictions even – of the supposedly wretched year. “Goodbye 2016, we won’t miss you.” “Thanks for taking all of our musicians… and Harambe.” Such allegations personify the year as though it had biting and malicious intentions. 2016 featured a highly divisive presidential election, the Orlando nightclub shooting, Brexit, the Brussels attack, the Aleppo crisis, and the death of many celebrities, including David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Muhammed Ali amongst others.
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Also in 2016, the gene responsible for ALS was found after years of research, global malaria rates dropped by 60%, the tiger population grew for the first time in a century, global suicide rates dropped, a mind-controlled robotic arm was created, the rights of transgender individuals were affirmed by the Rabbinical Assembly, and Harriet Tubman was confirmed to be the first woman on American currency.

Yet, at the end of each year, people seem to focus solely on what went wrong and perceive promise in the upcoming year. When the next year finally does arrive, people continue to brood. This attitude is emboldened and encouraged by news outlets and social media accounts that highlight the unpromising and threatening aspects of the year that was supposedly going to be “the best one yet.” What results is a ceaseless and dreadful pattern.

It goes without saying that each year includes both regressive and progressive incidents, ones worthy of condemnation and and others worthy of praise. What is less obvious is the responsibility of the individual – not the year – to bring happiness. How? By celebrating advancement over failure.

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Although 2016 memes make it seem as if the year itself had some sort of fatal flaw, the real flaw lies in our society’s ubiquitous promotion of self-victimization. The memes that floated through Instagram and Facebook in December were all funny on the surface; one can’t help but chuckle at how relatable the presented issues are. One feels a rush of relief and warmth when it becomes clear that others are going through similar struggles. But beyond the instant gratification and the hearty laugh lingers a subconscious residue of cynicism and self pity that primes us to focus on failure and disappointment.

Defeatist memes are merely a component of America’s flawed media culture. Unprecedented advances in medicine, social equity, and environmentalism were all overshadowed by coverage exaggerating both Donald Trump’s threatening comments and Hillary’s deceitfulness. Subjected to a media industry that thrives off of our fear and subsequent interest, we are fed a disproportionate amount of negative imagery.


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In light of these issues, it is incredibly important that anyone who seeks happiness takes the dismal realities portrayed by 2016 memes and news outlets with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of current events and global issues, it is also important to distance oneself from the pessimistic and dramatic nature of media. It presents a skewed image of the human experience – one likely to influence the way you see your own life. Happiness becomes increasingly elusive when you remain engulfed by reductionist and exaggerated perceptions of reality – or a year, for that matter.

I suggest separating yourself from this culture and, for example, analyzing how 2016 was for you as an individual. What were some of your greatest moments and accomplishments? Where did you fall short? Allow the answers to these questions – rather than a meme or a news story – to shape your perception of 2016. Next time you see a meme depicting how terribly your day, life, or year is going, I suggest that after you laugh and feel validated, think about how bad things truly are and realize how many blessings you are ignoring.

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Jordan Brenner

Community Editor

It is no coincidence that midterm week ended on Friday the 13th. While I am not superstitious, having just completed the busiest week I have ever encountered in over three years at Milken makes me wonder. However, I can not say with confidence that I will retain any of the information I learned this week for longer than a few weeks at most due to the sheer amount of information that was crammed into my head. After all, isn’t the main point of school to learn useful and meaningful information that will be with you for the rest of your life?

I write this article in the hope that a change to the midterm schedule is made. Midterms should be spread out through several weeks for two main reasons:

First off, when there are multiple midterms in one week, a student’s highest quality of work is not represented. In my experience, it is extremely challenging to retain a semester’s worth of information for multiple classes, especially when the exams occur during the same week. I often mix up the information from different classes, similar to how some multilingual people switch languages mid sentence. This year, I confused a data type from Intro into Computer Science called boolean with a concept in AP Government. Luckily, I caught my mistake before handing in my work. There was simply too much information in my head at the same time for me to perform at my highest level in all classes.

The second reason why Milken’s midterm schedule should be reformed is that exams are not held before winter break. Unlike most other schools, Milken’s semester does not end before winter break. It is my belief that the only way to overcome the challenge of having multiple midterms in one week is to begin studying weeks in advance. However, Milken’s course scheduling forces students like myself to have to choose between studying over winter break or only have a week to review. Having to study for midterms over winter break prevents students from getting the vital time to regenerate and come back more focused in the new year. If students choose to utilize that time for relaxation, the week following break is not sufficient time for intensive, comprehensive studying. Either way, it is a lose-lose situation for students.

Criticizing the school is not something I am accustomed to and I feel obligated to mention that this issue is minor compared to what many students face in less fortunate areas. We are extremely fortunate to be attending Milken. That being said, the scheduling of midterms is highly frustrating and inconvenient for many students and it, therefore, should be addressed by teachers and administrators.

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Hannah Newman

Wildlife Editor 

We live in a diverse world. A world of different cultures, races and religions. Regardless, many people live their lives without interacting with someone they don’t identify with. Although we are gifted with a vibrant and pluralistic community at Milken, beyond the spectrum of Judaism, there is little diversity. We live in a bubble, a sheltered and privileged bubble. While our bubble is safe and comfortable, it provides us with a false reality. A reality of uniformity and invariability.

Students who have taken Race, Class, and Gender with Dr. Holton most likely experienced culture shock when taken to the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row for a mandatory field trip. When I had the opportunity to go, I watched my fellow classmates lower their heads in order to avoid seeing the minimally clothed children living on the sidewalk. Not following their lead, I looked into the eyes of starving children and tired mothers. I handed them trays of hot food and listened to their narratives of hardship and discrimination. I was exposed to the pervasiveness of inequality and the extent of poverty through stories of unemployment due to race, gender or ethnicity. This experience opened my eyes to the inequalities that exist not only in the world, but even 20 minutes away from my house. The stories I heard that night hit close to home, literally.

After this night, I took an interest in empathy and more specifically, ethnocultural empathy. I started noticing current events that had roots in racial or cultural conflict. Chicago’s 500th homicide of 2016 stands out in my mind most particularly, as nearly all of those killed were African American. The victims mostly lived in neighborhoods stricken with unemployment and poverty. This illuminates the perpetual cycle of inequality and grief that exists in our country. Many people would say that the violence in Chicago is a police problem. I would say it is a societal problem.

This past semester, I took Honors Advanced Social Science Research in order to learn why my fellow classmates put their head down that day on Skid Row, and the science of ignoring those starving on the sidewalks. I researched our biological ability to empathize with those who we perceive as different from us. So far, I have found that both visual cues and the emotions we experience can alter and impact this process. Differences in race, gender and class all have the ability to affect our capacity to empathize, but only if we allow them to. We have an innate ability to feel the pain of others. If we continue emphasizing our differences and not uniting through our belonging to the human race, we will continue to live among hatred. Yet, if we are able to join forces and create a global, empathic civilization, we could work to stop the perpetual cycle of oppression and discrimination, and ultimately change our culture.