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Ben Chasen

Staff Writer

Marcus Bernstein ‘18, a multi-talented junior, is coming off a great sophomore year. Last year, he played a key role in the success of the Milken Knights Robotics Team, earned All-League honors as an outfielder for the Wildcats’ baseball team, and took home the first prize at the Milken Shark Tank event for his business, “Bud’s Body Boards.” Yet, Marcus still thinks he can improve on his fantastic sophomore year. Assigned the role of captain for the robotics team, Marcus is taking the year off from baseball and is gearing up to lead the Knights to a prosperous season. The Roar sat down with him to discuss his previous achievements and experiences, as well as his goals for the upcoming year.

Last year, the seniors on the robotics team played a key role in the success of the team. Do you think that despite the loss of those important members, this year’s team can improve upon the previous year’s accomplishments?

At the end of last year, we did lose a lot of really key members of our team, but that isn’t too much of a problem because of the way we run our team. We already have 92 members on our team and we aren’t even three weeks into the school year, which I think shows that our team is really ready to improve and evolve.

You mentioned the large size of this year’s team. As the student captain, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for you with such a large group to lead?

Remembering everyone’s names… (laughs)… But on a more serious note, I think the biggest challenge of leading 92 kids, especially as the team gets larger, is just gonna be managing everything that comes my way. I want to make sure that they are all staying on task and make sure that if there is something for them to do, I tell them to do it. In robotics, there is so much to do and people can do so many different things. As the robotics build season gets closer, we plan on implementing new leadership structures so that more students can get involved in leading and running different parts of the team.

You are an inventor, an All-League athlete, and a robotics maestro. When did you start working on each craft?

Well, baseball I’ve played almost all my life, or at least for as long as I can remember. I started working on robotics in 4th grade and I was actually introduced to it by Milken alum and last year’s Knights’ captain, Austin Shalit ‘16. I stuck with it all the way through elementary school, and when I was touring Milken, Austin gave me the chance to drive the robot that was built at Milken in 2012. The robot shot basketballs into a real basketball hoop, and I thought that was really cool because I’m a really sporty guy. Robotics has been a huge part of my life ever since.

My Shark Tank project started a couple of months into last school year. It began as part of an engineering class project where we were making boogie boards. Soon thereafter, I continued to develop the technology and improve upon it to the point where it was ready to be an actual product. I wasn’t really aware that Milken had a Shark Tank event until I was approached by Ms. Schecter, Dr. Beachy, and a few other faculty members involved. I think that the teachers and students and everybody who encouraged me ended up inspiring me to enter the contest. I’m really glad I entered, not only because I ended up winning, but because it was a positive learning experience.

Following a stellar season playing baseball, you were offered the role of captain for the robotics team, and in accepting the position, you have to sit out the following baseball season. What do you think the hardest part of not playing baseball this year will be?

It’s upsetting. It’s really upsetting not getting to play because of robotics and a handful of other important commitments. It is still upsetting having to give something up, but I think what I’m gonna miss about baseball is the people. I really do love the fact that we had fun regardless of whether we did as well as we wanted or not, and I think I’m really going to miss the community that is built by that group of guys. I think I’m gonna miss that community more than the actual sport of baseball, as much as I do love it.

Lastly you are through two successful years of high school, and you are prepared to have a successful third year. If you had to give one piece of advice to a freshman, what would it be?

Find what you love and do it. Milken has so many amazing opportunities for students with the Architecture + Design Institute, the new Guerin Institute, the amazing sports programs we have; there are so many different opportunities for kids to pick what they want to pursue and just shine at it. It’s really important to remember that it doesn’t matter what it is — just pick what you want to do, be passionate about it, and you’ll be successful.

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Courtesy of Andrea Smith, Milken Community Schools

Mira Berenbaum and Hannah Newman

Social Media Director and Wildlife Editor

After 25 Milken graduations at Stephen S Wise Temple, the senior graduation will be held at Sinai Temple due to scheduling conflicts.

Some students are upset about the venue change because they have celebrated many milestones at Wise Temple and want to celebrate graduation there. Kobi Hekmat-Niaz ‘17, a graduate of the Wise School, says, “One thing that bothers me is that I grew up at Wise and I have been looking forward to [graduation at Wise Temple] for my whole life. All the other Milken classes have graduated at Wise, including my sister’s class, and I feel like I’m not having the same experience as them.”

On the other hand, Sinai is a major feeder school for Milken and many students feel a connection to Sinai. Ashley Yeshoua ‘17 attended Sinai and says, “I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah and middle school graduation at Sinai, and I’m excited to have one more celebration there.”

Mr. Gary Weisserman, Head of School, is excited about the change in setting. “As a community school, we are delighted that we have the option of celebrating our students’ accomplishments in multiple locations,” Weisserman noted. “Being able to do so at such a wonderful place that has been central to so many of our students’ Jewish experiences is a terrific opportunity.”

The sanctuary at Sinai has some benefits in terms of the setup. The Sinai sanctuary holds over 2,000 people, so each family will be given more tickets to graduation. Additionally, everyone will be able to face the front, unlike some guests who have faced the back of speakers in the past. The procession will also be slightly different this year. Students will process down the middle of a big rectangle so everyone will be closer to the precession. The students will also sit in the first three rows instead of on the bleachers on the stage.

“This was a logistical decision, not a philosophical decision,” Mr. Beau Lindsay, Assistant Principal noted. “I don’t think it will change the philosophy of our graduation. It will still be a Milken graduation.”

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Britt Jacobson
Editor-in-Chief

Basic. A word every Milken student has been exposed to. “Basic” is the marker for someone who acts in a predictable, mainstream fashion. This includes, but is not limited to: shopping at Brandy Melville, frequenting Starbucks, taking excessive selfies and listening exclusively to KIIS FM-esque music. We’re all basic at one time or another. However, coming back to school provides us the perfect opportunity to get out of the Milken-mold and try something new.

“You look emo.” I was wearing a shade of lipstick called “blackest berry.” I loved it…though my mom didn’t. As long as I owned my look, it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. (No offense Mama!) They say that beauty is confidence. I can confirm that this is absolutely true. The less weight I placed on other’s perceptions of me, the more compliments I received. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder;” I can verify that as well. What I thought was edgy and fun looked to my mom like teenage angst. But the only important thing is how I felt. The only voice that can tell you what works and what doesn’t is your own. Embody your own style and don’t look to others for confirmation – after all, it’s on your lips, not theirs.

One bold trend that has recently been on the rise is colorful hair. The world has seen every shade of the rainbow by now: from gatorade yellow to mermaid teal, pastel pink to smokey blue. God knows I’ve read enough Buzzfeed articles, Pinterest pins, and Instagram posts dedicated to the subject. Perhaps that is why last March I had my hair bleached blonde as a base to dye colors onto.

I chose to begin with light lavender.

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I had to have my hair bleached professionally from a deep brunette shade in order to achieve this. Going into the appointment, I realized that the process of coloring my hair was much more complicated than I had anticipated. There was the debate between dying my whole head or leaving natural roots. I was also faced with deciding between one solitary shade or a gradient from darker to lighter or vice versa. I opted for the latter in both instances. I arrived with virgin brown locks and left blonde. This was a drastic change to say the least and the initial reactions really affected me. If someone complimented me, it would boost my mood, and if someone gave me a passing glance, it would deflate my confidence.

I was greeted with “are you an alien?” the first time I saw my older sister, Leigh. I had loosely gotten permission from my mom before moving forward with this experiment, but hadn’t really consulted my sister. When she looked at me like I was E.T., I panicked. I thought I had made a mistake on par with getting bangs! After her initial shock, she then nodded in approval. Since then, I’ve gotten many wow’s and love it’s! I’ve also gotten confused why’s and the incredulous your mom let you’s?!?

The only reaction I consider now is my own. As I walk down aisle 8 of Target and spot my next shade, I grapple. Should I get my “natural” brown or continue experimenting? How much can my hair actually take? To be frank, my hair has gotten damaged from this process. That is not me saying “it’s not worth it.” I don’t mean to spout the same “YOLO” message we’ve all heard before. But there is merit to it. If you see a style you like, why not just go for it? Hair grows back, makeup can be removed, but our time as teenagers is fleeting. The chance to try new things will pass us by, and pretty soon we’ll be reminiscing, thinking “what if?”

Right now my hair is (albeit faded) Vidal Sassoon’s “Midnight Blue.” Before that it was L’oreal “Red Velvet,” Adore “Sweet Mint,” L’oreal “Smokey Blue” and L’oreal “Smokey Pink.” I’m fairly jaded from having most of the rainbow on my head, though not done yet. I’m thinking about black next. How about you?

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Sawyer Kroll with Josh Berenbaum

Editor-in-Chief & Sports Editor

Justin Leff ‘17 started as a dark horse in arguably the most important presidential election of 2016. It was a combination of an effective grassroots campaign and creative speech that catapulted him into the most powerful student position at Milken: President of Student Government.

Leff has been a part of the Milken student leadership scene for the past two years. He served as the VP of Finance in 10th grade and a Student Government Representative in 11th grade. One of his greatest accomplishments was the successful Mrs. Fields fundraiser which raised about $900 in 2014.

However, Leff wants Student Government to expand beyond its routine of only undertaking established events like Homecoming, Winter Formal, and Color Wars.

“I think student government has really done a great job at bringing more spirit to Milken the last few years. I want to take it a step further and make some changes that provide students with more opportunities to pursue their passions and share it with the school” he explained.

One of the main reasons Leff wanted to be President was to have the influence to help execute his ideas. Among other plans, he hopes to create a student radio station that would give students the opportunity to voice opinions.

“Students could talk about student life, politics, movies, clothing — anything that interests them,” he said.

Broadcasting from home, students would be able to play music or talk during a block of time from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays. Leff also hopes to implement a floating quiet room (“The quiet room is not big enough”) and buy more furniture and outdoor games like cornhole.

Leff is in favor of lowering the price of pizza which has long been the main source of revenue for Student Government and of complaints among students. Student Government will meet next Fall to make more official changes.

Brandon Pourmorady ’18 is Leff’s Vice President. While some questioned the strategy of running with a Sophomore, Leff’s unorthodox gamble clearly payed off. Leff believes that Pourmorady is a great partner.

“Pomo and I became close on Student Government last year,” Leff said. “I loved his ideas so I’m very excited to work with him.”

Leff has also brought a few others onto Student Government with him. Under the Milken Student Government Constitution, the President is allowed five appointments (Leff believes in a loose interpretation which may allow him additional appointments). So far, he has appointed his opponents in the election, Lauren Cohen ’17 and Jonah Cohen ’17, and also newcomers including Max Ptasznik ’19, Sam Bloom ’18, and Saba Amid ’17.

Ultimately, Leff wants to leave a legacy of a changed student body. He wants students to be more unified and excited about coming to school.

“I want people to say that I come to school and have a good time,” he said.

Also, Leff would like to clarify that the clock change right after his election speech was a mere coincidence.

“I can assure you that with practice, you will be able to read [the clocks],” Leff added.

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Sawyer Kroll

Editor-in-Chief

This past week, Milken students participated in the New York Tiyul where they explored several aspects of the New York theatre scene. Led by Mr. Menna and Ms. Frangipane, 15 students took part in a week of musicals, plays, meetings with Milken alumni and industry experts, and just experiencing the city.

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The group saw five shows in their five days in New York, including both straight plays and musicals. Some favorites included The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a Tony Award-winning play about a boy with autism, and the smash hit Hamilton, a musical about Alexander Hamilton with an innovative hip-hop soundtrack. Hamilton has become a cultural phenomenon; millions of fans, talk show hosts, and even President Obama have hailed writer and star Lin Manuel-Miranda as a genius. So it was quite the opportunity for participants to witness the original cast of this monumental show. Students were ecstatic about seeing Miranda from only a few feet away after the performance.

Throughout the week, students had the chance to meet with people involved in the theatre industry. Many were Milken alumni, including John Behlmann who has had a successful acting career with roles in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and on Broadway like a starring role in The 39 Steps. He talked to students about his experiences in the industry.

“It was really cool to talk to him about auditioning for a big movie versus theater,” said Sam Bloom ’18.

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But the tiyul was not just theatre. Students also visited several favorite New York City spots including the Empire State Building at 1 a.m. and Ground Zero. Another highlight was a tour of NBC Studios.

Other less standard highlights were fueled by the fun group of people that were on the tiyul. One favorite was when Mr. Menna and Daniel Yadegar ’18 missed the subway that left with everyone else.

Brandon Ptasznik ’17 said, “I learned that the theatre industry is a vibrant and exciting community.”

Students took away many things from the tiyul, from their theatre experiences to the great moments they had with each other.

“It was a great to experience New York from the shows to the food to the great people,” explained Bloom.

photos courtesy of Sam Bloom ’18

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Micah Chasen and Natalie Pashaie

Co-Editor-in-Chiefs

After four years of intense studying, social development, and all-around frenzy, it is what some would call “the end of an era.” The Milken class of 2016 graduated Sunday morning, and although the farewell was bittersweet, we know that their futures lie bright ahead no matter where they choose to continue their journeys. Without further adu, the Milken Roar presents: The 2016 College List.

(This map is interactive. Feel free to move around, zoom in and out, and click on the red markers to see what school each student is going to!)




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Lauren Mokhtarzadeh

Wildlife Editor

This year, 32 students got the opportunity to go deep into the Amazon Rainforest and experience what most people don’t get to see in a lifetime, making it a popular tiyul choice. The Amazon tiyul included many activities: bird watching, piranha fishing, community service at a local village, hiking, canopy walks, visiting a shaman, trading with local villagers, visiting a sugar cane factory, learning about the Yagua lifestyle, and collecting scientific research.

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There were many highlights on the Amazon trip, but here are some of the most memorable events of the trip. Piranha fishing was one of the activities that all the students got to do; it was so popular that the students got to do it twice. Piranhas can bite your finger off in an instant, so fishing for piranhas is pretty exciting. Students like Samson Isaacson ‘17 and Jake Rosenfeld ‘17, caught several piranhas and had the opportunity to eat the piranha they caught for lunch or dinner. Another highlight of the trip was the sunrise canopy walk. After waking up at 4 a.m., students got to experience the sunrise from at least 100 feet above the ground. Despite the rain, students got to go to the canopies with their friends to see their last sunrise in the Amazon.

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Another highlight of the Amazon tiyul was the community service project that the group got to be involved in. Students went to a village along the Amazon River where they built tables, painted walls, and played with the most adorable children. Students felt that spending the day at the village dancing, assembling tables, playing soccer, and swimming in the Amazon River was an experience that they will never forget. Another highlight was the viewing of bioluminescent fungi. On the last night, all the groups went on a night hike to an area of the rainforest where they could see the sky over all the tall trees. After looking at the star-filled sky, the guides told the groups to look down. When the students looked down, the whole ground of the rainforest was glowing.

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Students that went on the Amazon tiyul gained an appreciation for the world around them and for what they already have. The world of Peru introduced the students to nature, education, religion, and people of Peru. Students on the trip were surprised about how friendly the people living in the Amazon were,  how resourceful your creativity and body can be, the wonders of nature and animals, and the mental and physical strength of the villagers living alongside the Amazon River.

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Danielle Lewis

Spotlight Editor

The 33 students who participated in the City of Angels Tiyul were given the opportunity to tour various organizations that work towards providing residents of Los Angeles with the help and resources they require to live. Advisors of this tiyul had the intentions of opening the eyes of Milken students to the throwaway culture of their own city, a culture not often exposed.

Overview

The tiyul began with an insight into a whole other side of Los Angeles. Participants of the tiyul convened at the Culver City Metro Station where they used public transportation to arrive at Union Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization that supports the homeless. They set up camp on the roof of the organization and split into two groups, one serving members of Union Rescue Mission and the other serving those of the Midnight Mission organization. That night, they heard the captivating stories of multiple residents of Union Rescue Mission.

The next morning, the two groups got the chance to serve the mission they had not yet served. For lunch, they headed to Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps former convicts and gang members “redirect their lives” with resources and job opportunities. They got a personal tour and reserved seating for lunch at Homegirl Cafe.

The third day brought the students to LA Kitchen, where they learned the power of repurposing food that would have been thrown out, such as produce that does not meet cosmetic standards. Students washed, cut, and bagged vegetables to be later transformed into healthy meals and snacks. The next stop was Ron Finley’s garden, a source of fresh produce for a neighborhood in South Central considered a food desert in which quality fresh food cannot be found for miles. Despite the city’s opposition, Finley uses the government grass in front of his house to make his street not only beautiful, but also a source of healthy food. The last day had a theme of water conservation, giving the students a tour of two water treatment facilities that repurpose wastewater for agriculture.

Highlights

Although the trip consisted of countless meaningful moments, there were a few personal and inspiring ones that stood out. While serving dinner at both missions, students especially recall the gratitude of the patrons. By just placing an apple on a tray, Milken students heard multiple people respond with “God bless you” or “thank you, man.” This left students feeling fulfilled. Students were then given the opportunity to hear heart-warming stories from mission patrons about hitting rock bottom and bouncing back with support from sources like God, family, and Union Rescue Mission. This inspired their own table conversation reflecting on the stories, discussing God, homelessness, and Judaism, leaving students thinking deeply about the power of community and religious passion. The next day, students were in awe of Ron Finley’s enchanting grass strip garden. He expressed vast generosity by sharing life experiences, lessons, and words of wisdom with the group while allowing them to eat from the plants he grew. Finley then gave each one of us a sunflower plant to care for and grow on our own and sent the students on their way back to Milken, minds filled with inspiration and an overwhelming admiration for Ron Finley.

Takeaway

City of Angels put a whole other side of Los Angeles on display for Milken students to experience. It popped the Milken bubble by exposing the prominent throwaway culture of the city. Not only does the city throw away 40% of its food, but it throws away people, water, and opportunities for improvement. By witnessing the enormous homeless population and hearing their tragic stories, students saw the unjust ramifications of being raised in poverty or developing an unhealthy addiction. They also saw how the city does not provide enough resources for support, but instead throws these people into crowded and dangerous neighborhoods like Skid Row, leaving thousands of homeless people in the care of a few organizations. After seeing how precious food is to these people, students were then exposed to how much those with sufficient food supply waste. While repackaging food, they thought back to the many faces they saw lining up to eat a free hot meal who would have utilized the wasted produce. After meeting Ron Finley, the students were enlightened by the ability of one man and one strip of grass to create something lush and useful instead of letting the land go to waste. Water waste is also especially prominent in California and with the establishment of powerful treatment plants, students saw how Los Angeles works to decrease the amount of water wasted. The tiyul left the participants with a sense of obligation to change the throwaway culture of their community.

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Justin Leff and Samantha Behar

Editor-in-Chief and Spotlight Editor


Last week, Milken students who participated in the Righteous Conversations Tiyul had the opportunity to meet with Holocaust survivors and create meaningful public service announcements, photographs, and original compositions that document and build off of survivors’ stories. Students documented the lives of the survivors through photo journaling, and their public service announcements carried the conversation further by addressing the issue of unequal learning opportunities. The musical pieces composed attempted to express the emotions of the survivors as well as those who perished during the Holocaust.

One highlight of the week was the tour of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust on the first day of the program. Each participant was given a headset so they could listen to a information about the Holocaust and other firsthand accounts. The participants also had an opportunity to visit the children’s memorial and write a message to a child victim of the Holocaust. Touring the museum allowed the participants to view artifacts firsthand and get a better overall understanding of the events that occurred during this time.

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Another highlight of the program was that each day at lunch, the participants shared an object that had meaning to them. Some of the Holocaust survivors brought in objects from the war, giving the participants a glimpse into what life looked like for Jews at that time. One of the survivors, Harry, brought in a picture of his extended family from before the war; many of the individuals in the picture were murdered during the Holocaust. Since he was young at the time the Holocaust, he can only remember his family members that passed away through the pictures that remain.

A third highlight from the Righteous Conversations tiyul took place on the last day, during the presentations. Participants had the opportunity to showcase their photographs, public service announcements, and musical compositions they had worked on throughout the week. Parents of the participants and other guests joined the participants to celebrate their hard work and creativity.

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Students in the Righteous Conversations project learned the importance of being an advocate for the Holocaust. As the few remaining survivors get older and older, it is more important than ever to carry on the memories and the realities of this terrible, not-so-distant tragedy. Many Holocaust survivors dedicate their time and energy to help Righteous Conversations students with their projects. They know the participants will leave having a newfound connection to the Holocaust, and want to be a part of that process. Not only do the students leave as witnesses to the horrors of the Holocaust, but they also become advocates for problems going on in the modern world. The participants learned the importance of standing up to injustice in the world and the danger of staying silent. The students who created the public service announcement picked a current problem to learn about, then worked to a create a video using the information they found. The tiyul left a lasting impression not only on the students, but on the Holocaust survivors who were able to connect with the students and work together to make the world a better place.

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Josh Berenbaum and Michael Schulman

Sports Editor and Staff Writer

Over Tiyul week, a group of Milken students journeyed into the vibrant, eccentric city of New Orleans to continue rebuilding the city that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina eleven years ago. In addition to rebuilding, students had a chance to experience the distinct culture found in New Orleans by way of music, tours and food. The students saw the damage done by the hurricane, and the dire need to finish the rebuilding project.

The service aspect of the New Orleans Tiyul was done with the Saint Bernard Project, a local organization that was started by New Orleanians in response to Katrina. Students on the tiyul worked on houses that were rebuilt, and in the final stages before a displaced family could return to the New Orleans community.

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New Orleans Tiyul group at one of the work sites on DeBore avenue.

The sense of community in New Orleans is strong, and the tiyul group saw a community event firsthand when Mr. Lee, a 94 year old World War 2 Veteran and grandson of a slave, returned to his rebuilt home, courtesy of the St. Bernard Project. The “Welcome Home” party took place right on Mr. Lee’s new front lawn. Neighbors, friends, family and spectators, about 200 people in all, gathered for a ceremony in honor of Mr. Lee’s return. Abby Zuckerman ‘17 was very moved by the ceremony and thought “it was touching to physically see someone’s life change. Mr. Lee has such great character, and it was wonderful to see that the work of the St. Bernard Project payed off.”  

Michael Schulman '17 with World War 2 Veteran Mr. Lee receiving his new home.
Michael Schulman ’17 with World War II Veteran Mr. Lee receiving his new home.

Vibrant culture was also present for the students in New Orleans. Students had ample opportunity to eat beignets from the famous cafes, such as Cafe du Monde and bakeries in the French Quarter. Additionally, students were treated to a concert in the famed Preservation Hall. After waiting in line for two hours, the group sat on the floor and heard five songs from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. “I’m not a fan of jazz,” said Lila Hanish ‘17. “But I really enjoyed listening to some of the best performers there are.”

The airboat tour across the swamps of Louisiana was a thrill-seeking adventure that students will never forget. Wildlife experts, Arthur Matherne and his sons, took the group on an exciting ride through the marshes, and encountered plenty of alligators- big and small. Students were introduced to a 13 foot, 1,000 pound alligator named “Big Al.” Big Al and his friends were not afraid of their guests, some even had the chance to climb aboard the boat. Some significantly smaller alligators were let on the boat, so students could hold these beautiful creatures. Aaron Harouni ‘18 said, “It was a scary and nerve-racking experience, but it was really cool to hold the baby alligator.” While these reptiles may seem viscous, the group learned that these baby alligators have only a five percent chance at survival. Students left the swamp with a newfound appreciation for the wildlife and unique ecosystem of New Orleans

Britt Jacobson '17 holding a baby alligator.
Britt Jacobson ’17 holding a baby alligator.

Even after eleven years, the people of New Orleans still need help. Aaron Lawrence ‘17 was deeply affected by the Tiyul, explaining “I now understand how much damage can be done by natural disasters, but as large as the damage is, I now know that I can make a difference.” While the group’s efforts did not rebuild the entire city, their hard work and dedication to service made a difference in the lives of people affected by the hurricane. They now have a hand invested in the rebuilding effort.