Senior seminars prepare students for life in college

Boys learn about sex 

By Jonah Rosenbaum

“Check your underwear, change the socks and take a good look in the mirror. Say to yourself, ‘If I get naked tonight, will I be OK with how I look?” Athletic Director Terry Barnum told to a group of senior boys attending the “Sex in College” seminar for boys. 

Barnum, along with Director of Student Affairs Jordan Church and Dean Coordinator Ryan Wilson, gave advice regarding sex and sexual situations in colleges. Among the topics covered were hygiene, dealing with roommates learning that a friend is gay, safe sex and respectful approaches to girls and sexuality. Wilson advised that students really get to know a girl before sex, and Church stressed the importance of frequent showering and grooming. All three seminar leaders reiterated that “guys can be hoes too.” 

Language teacher explains existentialism

By Allegra Tepper

“Explaining it in 40 minutes is preposterous,” French teacher Simona Ghirlanda told the seniors signed up for the seminar, “Hell is Other People: An Introduction to Existentialism.”

Merriam-Webster defines it as “a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad.”

Ghirlanda took a more personal approach to defining it.

“[Studying existentialism] teaches you to be a more decent person,” she said. “You become aware of the fact that we are hell for someone else just by looking at them and judging them.”

Ghirlanda said that after a threatening note was left in a gay student’s backpack almost two weeks ago, she knew teaching this seminar was meant to be.

“To the existentialists, someone who leaves an anonymous note might as well be invisible,” Ghirlanda said. “You are assuming a position of nonexistence.”

Ghirlanda explained that while the concept might seem like an extremely intellectual belonging to the past, it’s less remote than we think and is actually around us every day.

“If I helped and made just one person think about being less judgmental today, then I’ve done my part,” she said.

Classmates honor Kutler by studying Japanese director 

By Sammy Roth

To honor their former classmate Brendan Kutler, six Directed Studies in the Cinema students presented “The Films of Akira Kurosawa” as a seminar on Senior Transition Day.

Kutler had planned to do his directed studies end-of-year project on Kurosawa, an acclaimed Japanese director. After Kutler died in his sleep in December, all but one of the Directed Studies in the Cinema students decided to drop their own projects and work on Kutler’s.

Jesse Orrall ’10 said the decision to switch from his own project to Kurosawa was not difficult.

“For me it was a really easy decision because Brendan was so excited about Kurosawa,” Orrall said.

Forty-nine students signed up for the seminar. Kutler’s parents, Jon and Sara Kutler, were also in attendance.

It was the only seminar which was not about transitioning to college and was also the only one to last two periods instead of one.

“It was a unique event,” Cinema Studies teacher Ted Walch said. “It seemed the right time and the right place to honor Brendan in this way.”

Seniors Jacob Gindi, Reid Lidow, Kyle Martin-Patterson, Jesse Orrall, Austin Park and Graham Parkes made presentations about Kurosawa’s films. Anthony Bundak ’10 intended to make a presentation, but got sick the night before and was unable to participate, Walch said.

Walch was pleased with how the seminar went.

“Without any exaggeration I can say that the seminar was one of the highlights of my teaching career,” Walch said. “The clarity, composure and compactness with which each student made his presentation spoke to the thoroughness of their preparation.”

Orrall said he was “a little freaked out” during rehearsal about how the presentation would go, but that everything worked out perfectly in the end.

“I was thrilled with how everyone did,” Orrall said. “They had great things to say and showed awesome clips.”

Many clips had no dialogue, which was part of Kurosawa’s style.

“Kurosawa has a really good way of conveying emotion via action, and not dialogue,” Gindi said while explaining the film, “Ran,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”

“I know that Brendan was very interested in Japanese culture,” Orrall said. “I always assumed that it was natural that he would be interested in Kurosawa.”

During the seminar, the students and Walch wore matching shirts reading “AK BK,” for Kurosawa and Kutler.

Seniors learn to sew

By Alex Edel

After walking out of the senior seminar on “Mending and Sewing, students had the tools and materials to mend a seam and sew on a button. Costume Designer Lisa Peters had two pieces of cloth, a box that held 200 different safety pins and a box containing colors of thread, scissors, needles small buttons and various colors of thread for each student.

Peters started the seminar with the basics, putting thread through needles. She taught the attendees to do a simple stitch that would mend any ripped seam in a very short amount of time. The seminar’s aim was to teach students to be able to manage clothing disasters by themselves.

“When I went home that night I sewed together a hole in my sweatpants and I sewed a button on one of my sweaters,” Alex Glancy ’10 said. “I felt so productive fixing my own clothes.”

Peters also gave each person a packet with information on how to wash clothing and a table to help organize a cleaning schedule for dorms and bathrooms.

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