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Inspiring junior journalists at Mt. Daniel

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MtDanielPrep2-22-12 SCeditedStaff members of Lasso Online Claire Acosta, senior; Mimi Nemec, sophomore; and Allie Plata, sophomore, prepare for their class trip to Mt. Daniel Elementary School where George Mason’s journalism class will be teaching Phyllis Kravinsky’s first grade class how to write a class newspaper.  The high school journalism staff will be helping the students transform their topics into articles that will be published digitally on Lasso Online. “I’m excited to show them what we do in class in the hopes their love for journalism will continue to grow,” said Plata. 

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Jake Nystrom knows that Life is Sweet

By Andrea Dilao 

Freshman Jake Nystrom, presented with a unique culinary opportunity this past month, was able to work with notable pastry chef, Padua Player, and acquire some new skills in the kitchen, as well as get a taste of some of his own creations. Not to mention, he did it all for a great cause, through the Best Buddies Program.

Life is Sweet is an annual fundraising and chef showcase event, in its ninth year this year, that partners top local chefs in the area with Best Buddies student participants. After one meet-and-greet between the partners, they get together again the night of the event to showcase their treats, and present a tasting opportunity to the public.

“My dad and I both went {to the meet-and-greet} and I cooked at pastry place with the Chef in the kitchen,” said Nystrom. “We made chocolate mint chip sundaes and I cracked a lot of eggs, and I loved it.”

Ms. Kali Wasenko is a former employee, now active volunteer, of the Best Buddies program. She assisted Development Director, Chris Hammond, in event program management, and was also Nystrom’s relationship manager.

“I met Jake for the first time during his meet-and-greet with Chef Padua,” Wasenko said. “He’s a dynamic young man, and we are proud of his leadership. He gets to work with some of the best chefs in town and learn cooking skills from them.”

After initial introductions had been made, Nystrom waited a little less than a month for the event to take place, where he and Chef Padua planned to prepare more than 300 mint chocolate hazelnut bombes for event guests.

On April 8, the day of the event, Nystrom appeared on WJLA’s “Let’s Talk Live” program to promote the Life is Sweet benefit. He appeared as Best Buddies student representative, along with Hammond and Chef Padua.

“They talked about the food they were preparing, and Jake did a little demo of how to prep and plate chocolate bombes with strawberries and chocolate sauce,” said Nystrom’s mother, Jill Nystrom. “He had a lot of fun seeing how things work in a {television} production studio.”

The culinary tasting event does profit support programs in Best Buddies Virginia, but it is also a way to celebrate the friendship, jobs, and leadership of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

“I feel that the event has a lasting impact on Best Buddies Virginia, and it’s really able to incorporate the Best Buddies mission at every turn,” said Wasenko, “it brings the community together through the talents of people with IDD.”

“I wanted to learn how to cook,” Jake Nystrom said. “I like watching the cooking show, Take Home Chef, with Curtis Stone, and this {experience} was so much fun. I would do it again.”


It’s official: No change to bell schedule next year

By Andrea Dilao 


The proposed changes to the schedule next year will not be taking place; a final decision that had not been easily reached. Principal Tyrone Byrd made the decision on Thursday, April 10, after taking many considerations into account.


“Students came out pretty loudly in opposition of the proposed schedule but there were also many teachers who had questions about it,” Byrd said. “Based on the true educational interests and needs of our kids, there’s no research to support that moving to a fixed schedule with the anchor day is going to enhance academic achievement any more than blocked scheduling does.”


Mr. Byrd also emphasized the search for a time in the school day to help remediate students who are deficient in literacy and numeracy skills.


The proposed changes to the schedule next year will not be taking place; a final decision that had not been easily reached.


“If we can find a chunk in our day that gives us time to help those kids, then we’ll try to make the change. But absent that, we won’t be changing our schedule drastically.”


The possibility of a brand new schedule had been discussed in small groups among staff for about two years, and it wasn’t widely acknowledged by students and many others until the second and third quarter of this year.


Byrd had meetings with staff concerning the changes, and also had one with the Student Council Association (SCA) the week before the final decision was reached. At the SCA meeting, students were able to express their concerns, which Byrd was able to communicate to the staff later that day.


“I think the SCA did a good job of representing the student voice,” said English teacher and junior class co-sponsor, Ms. Angela Weston. “They were effective in terms of being a good representation of things that I’ve heard anecdotally from other students in my classes, and were able to articulate what the general concerns had been.”


“Students came out pretty loudly in opposition of the proposed schedule but there were also many teachers who had questions about it…”

Principal Tyrone Byrd


Byrd made a school-wide announcement broadcasting the decision on Friday, April 11, during the morning announcements. People have since visited him on either side of the debate, and while some wished they could’ve done more, others thanked him for keeping the current schedule.


“There really was no justifiable reason to change the proposed schedule academically,” said Byrd. “If there was an academic reason, I would have felt more compelled to make the change, but absent that information, what we currently have makes more sense than to upset {a schedule} that seems to be working.”


There will, however, be a few small adjustments made to the placement of homeroom. Starting the school year of 2014-2015, homeroom will be made a part of blocks one and two, while upcoming ninth graders will have a block of TA before Mustang Block. Although, the bit about next year’s freshmen doesn’t impact anyone currently attending Mason


“The kids and teachers reached out and said that homeroom hasn’t proven to be effective as a way of creating relationships, so in order to use that time wisely, it is being moved to the beginning of the day.”














Major changes in store for 2016 SAT

College Board has startled the education world with its announcement of major changes in its new and improved 2016 SAT

By Julie Smith 

College Board, the creator of the scholastic aptitude test, made an announcement that it will introduce what it calls a ‘new and improved’ SAT starting April 16, 2016. Students of the current sophomore and freshman classes will be the first to tackle the new format, and College Board believes their experience will be a positive one.

“When students open their SAT test books in spring 2016, they’ll encounter an SAT that is more focused and useful than ever before,” said Collegeboard.com

According to College Board, the new SAT will offer a more accurate reflection of what is taught in today’s classrooms, thus being a more accurate assessment of college readiness and success than todays outdated model of the test. The redesigned SAT is centered on five key changes, which very closely resemble the ACT’s testing model

“I saw this coming from the get go,” Judy Bracken, George Mason’s college and career specialist said, “the new SAT is almost exactly like the ACT.

The new test is essentially the same as the ACT. The essay section is optional, points aren’t deducted for wrong answers, and while the ACT doesn’t have vocabulary, the SAT will still have more common vocabulary

The new test will require students to master only relevant vocabulary, whereas the current SAT requires students to spend hours by flashcards memorizing out-of-date and obscure words that they will simply forget the moment they finish the exam. The new SAT will replace the out of date vocabulary with vocabulary that is more often used in classrooms.

There will be no penalty for wrong answers. Currently, the SAT marks off a whole quarter of a point for any incorrectly answered question. College Board is changing this method for the 2016 SAT as it discourages guessing. The new method will allow students to feel confident that they can always try to provide their best answer to every problem, on the test and beyond.

There will also no longer be a required essay. The current SAT requires students to plan, write, and edit an essay all in just 25 minutes. Test makers now believe this to be an inaccurate representation of real world writing and are doing away with it. The new essay will be optional and students who do chose to take it will be given 50 minutes, instead of 25, to plan, craft, and edit their writing.

The new SAT will move back to a 1600-point scale, merging the current sections of critical reading and writing into one new section called evidence-based reading and writing. This redesigned section will more accurately reflect the work of college and career, where a flexible command of evidence is essential.

The new math section will focus on three key areas, problem solving and data analysis, the heart of algebra, and passport to advanced math. Test makers believe that these areas contribute the most to college and career readiness, and that that an understanding of them is essential for most majors and degrees.

“The change is definitely due to the SAT losing market share,” Bracken said. “More kids were taking the ACT, and the SAT definitely noticed, California was even thinking of having its state schools not require the SAT any longer.”

College Board realizes that the old SAT format might not be as beneficial for students in the long run. The re-designed test is supposed to help students better prepare for their lives in college and beyond by using relevant context and questions. Additionally students who will take this test currently have a full two years notice of the changes so that they will be more fully prepared.


Your favorite exhibit-- closed for 5 years?

Your favorite exhibit-- closed for 5 years?

From April 28, 2014 The Deep Time Hall within D.C’s Natural History Museum will close for renovation till spring of 2019

By Blaise Sevier 

Take a deep breath, the whole Natural History building will not be closed for five years-- construction will only take over one section of the building: The Deep Time Hall or more formally known as D.C’s favorite Dinosaur Exhibit. Viewings of the famous Hope diamond, the big elephant, butterfly exhibit will all still be shown on the regular schedule.

The reason for this redesign is simply to refurbish the dinosaur skeletons and expand the exhibit. Also, some of these pieces have been on display for more than eighty years.

“It takes 5 years to do that? That is surprising-- I mean I don’t frequently visit there, but I used to, so I know that parents and kids in the district are going to be kind of scrambling because it is a really great place for kids,” said freshman Hannah Hiscott.

Paleontologists in the National History Museum will be dismounting and removing the visitor favorite, the Wankel Tyrannosaurus Rex very soon.  With this removal, such angst has erupted over this removal that the museum has created a caste of the skull to supplement.

A whopping total of 48 million dollars is the total amount the institute will have to pay for this new design-- but will the dinosaur magic be extinct forever? Even the Director of the Deep Time Hall is slightly worried.

“It’s definitely going to be traumatic for me, because I’m a paleontologist . . .. I’m also thinking of the kids who won’t be able to see the dinosaurs,” said Kirk Johnson, Director of the Deep Time Hall.

In 2013, yearly the Natural History Museum receives more than 8 million visitors-- many come to see this exhibit. To further supplement for the lack of dinosaur presence NIMNH created an online interactive version of the hall.