Author: Jean Li

The haze of summer has passed, the newest snow has fallen on the mountains, and a new year is in full swing.

And with a new year, inevitably, comes new rules. Or at least, an attempt to enforce rules that have previously been allowed to slide. This year though, the enforcement of the “classrooms should be used for academic purposes only” rule has produced a shockingly negative reaction from the student body. The administration has decided to officially declare classrooms to be off-limits and most students are not happy with this change.

Raul Soto demonstrates appropriate (left) and inappropriate (right) classroom use. The enforcement of the not-new policy has drawn the ire of many students. Photo Credit Colly Smith '16
Raul Soto demonstrates appropriate (left) and inappropriate (right) classroom use. The enforcement of the not-new policy has drawn the ire of many students. Photo Credit Colly Smith ’16

Sabina McMahon, Dean of Students, talks about why the school decided to enforce these rules more strictly this year.

“We’ve always been very clear about our policies around intimate spaces.  We talk every year about appropriate spaces and we’re asking students to use [classrooms] for [academic] purposes.”

Last year, students engaged in a school-wide survey that was also given to the parents. Both parents and students expressed concern regarding intimate sexual activity.

Michael Mulligan, the current headmaster at the Thacher School, also connects the stronger enforcement to the survey. “The research revealed most of it,” he says. “It’s all about a balance of freedom and responsibility.”

The student body, however, believes otherwise.

According to a recent survey by the editorial staff, 56.58% of 151 students responding believe that banning classrooms is unnecessary. 60% of students felt that simply banning classrooms doesn’t address the issue at hand. Around 30% of students were unclear as to what issue the administration was trying to fix or felt that the necessity of the enforcement of these rules were dependent on the situation.

One of the main issues that students bring up is the question of “Where do we go now?”

McMahon tried to answer this question: “That’s often the question: where are we supposed to go? It’s not the school’s responsibility to provide a space for intimate behavior. Thacher is like a home. At home, parents don’t provide a space for intimate behavior.”

This sentiment is echoed by Mulligan as well. “It’s a legitimate but not appropriate concern to have private space with your significant other,” Mulligan says. “It is the responsibility of the school to offer a safe and appropriate setting.”

Students believe that the deeming of classrooms to be off-limits will soon raise problems.

“The changes make sense regarding the intimate behavior happening within classrooms,” Ben Yih ‘15 states. “But the problem with this is that it just causes kids to ‘explore,’ which in many ways could cause more issues. This exploration just causes kids to go into more places they shouldn’t, i.e. beyond Perimeter Road.”

When asked about concerns of students wandering further, Mulligan smiled, “You didn’t come to Thacher to break rules. It’s all about exercising restraint.”

Another important question to ask, exactly what is the administration trying to fix or prevent?

“The goal of the school,” remarks McMahon, “is to have good and open conversations. The most important thing is that the school is very invested in the fact that this campus should be a very comfortable place for people.”

This comfort also has to extend to the faculty as well, who have raised some concerns over the use of their classrooms at night. “[The faculty] would like to be able to access classrooms at any time,” McMahon notes. “They’ve been supportive, mostly because we’ve been very transparent. And this transparency feels good to people.”

In regard to the negative student reaction received from the the student body, McMahon says this. “It’s typical to have discussion and questions and concerns when you’re trying to shift the focus or culture of a school. You can have a private conversation with the doors closed…and the lights on!”

“I think that like anything, there will be some people who agree with and some people won’t agree with them. It’ll always be the case. We’ll continue to have good discussions. We all live here together and if we’re not talking about this thing, it’ll create tension. I understand students not saying ‘This is the best thing that’s ever happened,’ but I also know students who feel better and more comfortable on campus now,” remarks McMahon.

It doesn’t look like this rule is going away anytime soon. Whether or not this will diminish the amount of intimate activity that happens around campus…well that’s a question that’s still up for grabs. But for now, don’t expect to be returning to the classrooms at night.

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“Let’s get there at 5:30. No, 5:20. No, 5:15. No, 5:00. Yup, let’s get there at 5:00.”

These words were on the tongue of every single student as they eagerly awaited Chef’s Table: the annual dinner where Bon Appetit chefs from various other schools and colleges join the Thacher kitchen staff in order to host one of the most celebrated events of the year.

Whispers of Chef’s Table filled the air over a week before the actual dinner. By Sunday, it was the biggest and latest news around campus.

I can’t speak for the other students around, but I’d been looking forward to Chef’s Table since I arrived on campus in September. The creme brulee that Robin had made last year was burned into my mind. Every other week I would stare at the online menu. When was Chef’s Table going to come?

To my delight, Chef’s Table was announced for November 12th. I prepared to go early. In fact, by the time I sat down with my first dish, dinner technically hadn’t started.

Food Service Director Richard Maxwell works with local farmers, like Robert "BD" Dautch, to ensure Thacher maintains its commitment to sustainability in all forms. In addition to Chef's Table, the Bon Appetit staff have helped plan events like "Eat Local Challenge" from earlier this year.
Food Service Director Richard Maxwell works with local farmers, like Robert “BD” Dautch, to ensure Thacher maintains its commitment to sustainability in all forms. In addition to Chef’s Table, the Bon Appetit staff, as part of their company’s mission, have helped plan events like the successful “Eat Local Challenge” from earlier this year.

I tasted almost every dish, excluding the flatbread. By the time my friends and I stumbled back to our dorms, we were so full that we were sure we’d all put on another ten pounds. Satisfied, we went happily to rest our full bellies.

Felicia Jiang ‘14 commented that she loved the desserts. “They had excellent desserts, and it is the best dinner of the year besides the holiday banquet.”

In a recent survey of Chef’s Table, most students were extremely satisfied with the event with 53% of respondents giving a score of 5 out of 5. Most seemed absolutely delighted with the food turned out by both our usual staff, headed by Executive Chef Ismael Martin and Director Richard Maxwell, and the guest chefs who came over from other schools. An overwhelming majority of students clamored for Chef’s Table more frequently, including myself. I know it must be a tiring endeavour, but the amazing food produced is incomparable.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” Maxwell commented, “but the excitement that fills the Dining Hall during the Chef’s Table makes it fun. It’s also the one night when using a tray is cool!”

While most students appeared satisfied, a few complaints had to deal with the variety of food. Some students lamented that the quality of food had been decreasing through the years.

“It was better last year,” was a sentiment echoed by several students.

I certainly felt more hyped up for Chef’s Table last year and this year as I lay on my bed recovering from the feast, I didn’t feel quite as satisfied.

Still, Chef’s Table remains an outstanding idea that I will continue to look forward to each and every year it occurs. Hopefully as the next two years come to pass, Chef’s Table will continue to improve, both in variety and quality of food.

Until then, I’ll just have to keep hoping (along with the majority of the school population) that somehow, miraculously, Chef’s Table comes back more than once a year.

By now, everyone knows about the typhoon that swept through the Philippines.

Though sympathetic, the students at Thacher are clearly distanced from the destruction left in the storm’s wake. What fewer people know is that the typhoon in the Philippines much more clearly impacts those in Thacher than we may understand.

Jasmin Arculli ‘17, a freshman at Thacher, hails from the Philippines.

Her parents currently still reside in the Philippines and while the disaster still remains far away for her, it is very real for her parents, who are currently helping with relief efforts through volunteer work and relief packs.

“Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do at Thacher,” Arculli admits.

The infamous Thacher bubble has a tendency to close students in and they are often late to realize the significance of important events. As the end of the trimester draws to a close, there is very little that Thacher students can still do before heading onto break.

Arculli suggests that a snack bar in the winter trimester might be the best way for Thacher students to raise money.

While Typhoon Haiyan may be thousands of miles away on the other side of the world, it’s important for Thacher students to go the extra mile to be up to date with the news and try to help where they can.

We don’t have to always be completely closed off to the world. To learn how to help, see Ana Levy’s report below.

Debris lines the streets of Tacloban, Leyte island. This region was the worst affected by the typhoon, causing widespread damage and loss of life. Caritas is responding by distributing food, shelter, hygiene kits and cooking utensils. Photo Credit Eoghan Rice - Trócaire / Caritas / CC BY 2.0
Debris lines the streets of Tacloban, Leyte island. This region was the worst affected by the typhoon, causing widespread damage and loss of life. Caritas is responding by distributing food, shelter, hygiene kits and cooking utensils. Photo Credit Eoghan Rice – Trócaire-Caritas / CC BY 2.0

5,000 people are dead or missing. 4 million have been displaced. The destruction left two weeks ago in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan is overwhelming. While sometimes it may seem that from  inside our Thacher “bubble” we are powerless to help in times of tragedy, this is not one of those times.

Sometimes it seems like the money that we donate to causes may not always help the people in need. You may be worried that in the Philippines, a country famous for corruption, your funds will find their way into a politician’s pocket instead of a refugee’s.

In response to these worries, the Philippine government launched the online Foreign Aid Transparency Hub, or FAiTH. FAiTH is an online portal that allows users to see exactly where funds are coming from and where they are going – giving you some assurance that your money is going to the right place.

Below are two links to ways you can donate to the victims of Haiyan (UNICEF and World Food Program have both received 4 out of 4 stars by Charity Navigator).

unicef_donation_typhoon-help-philippines_detail

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A hot Saturday, sweat and grime, three flags, a barbecue, and sixty missing freshmen. You guessed it—Big Gymkhana.

Starting several hours earlier than previous years, the extra time certainly did help. Up bright and early, for some even earlier than they usually get up, the freshmen headed to the field, bleary-eyed and tired, though nervousness penetrated their dazed looks. I remember sitting on the back of my horse with the sun already warming my back, having only been on the field for an hour. It was going to be hot.

Before anyone had any extra time to reflect though, all riders were immediately plunged into the ceremony. Going from most to least points, Green team entered first, followed by Blue, and rounding up was Orange. Representatives proudly carried flags of their team colors and the flags for the flags ceremony. Parents were hushed, cameras were taken out, and the teenagers would’ve been more embarrassed if it wasn’t for the looming task ahead of them. As each of the teams filed in, I couldn’t help wondering how a year had passed so quickly. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was getting on the back of a horse (not the first time for me personally, but that is the exception, not the rule). And suddenly, an amazing amount of parents and horses are standing all around, ready to celebrate one of the greatest accomplishments of a freshman’s year.

And so it begins.

For those of you who remember, when Gymkhana season first starts, everyone is a bumbling mess. No one is at their race when they’re supposed to go and most people are clueless about the rules. Things are very different now. After almost an entire trimester of preparation, the freshmen know the rules of the game and they’re certainly ready to play. Jackets have already been passed out and the top ten wear them proudly, knowing that they have earned their place. The music kicks up and look at those horses go!

Races pass in a blur. By the time you and your horse have crossed the finish line, someone’s calling your name for the next one and just when you think you can relax, the teams switch around. It’s an eventful day and suddenly, the nervousness vanishes. Not because you think you’re going to win or that you’re set, no. It’s gone because there is too much to focus on and too little time to waste.

The day concludes with the Silver Dollar pickup. As Mr. Okin says, there are three things necessary to pick up the dollar. “Skill, guts…and luck.” Three of the many eager attempters managed to find the perfect combination: Nick Johnson ‘16, Colly Smith ‘16, and Peter Callan ‘16. As the contestants raised their fists in the air, sand trailing behind them and loping onwards, you could see a look of pure exhilaration in their faces and a beautiful ending to a long, stressful, but amazing day.

Finally, at the end of a long, hot day, the awards are presented. The team rankings have not changed, with Green Team in first, Blue Team in second, and Orange Team wrapping up the season with third. Individual awards are also announced. Daniel Kruth ‘13, Lachlan Nutting ‘14, and Alex Morris ‘14 proudly take their place on the stage as the top three overall riders of the year. The top three freshmen–an achievement just as great or perhaps even greater than top three overall–are taken by Serena Warren ‘16, Alessandro Lorenzoni ‘16, and Nick Johnson ‘16.

All too soon, it has ended. A year that was both everlastingly long and unbearably short at the same time and a year that will be remembered, but never quite relived. Years from now, people will recall fondly the memories on horseback and laugh at the naivety of their freshman year and horses and Big Gymkhana are certain to be part of it. Why this experience is so magically unique is difficult to define, but Serena Warren, top freshman of the year, puts it this way. “Gymkhana really brought our class together. The competitive aspects gave our classmates motivation work hard, although it was quite frustrating at times. The best part of Big Gymkhana,” she adds, “was how much fun all of the teams had. I felt so much pride entering on Big Gymkhana riding with all of Orange Team!”

A conclusion then, to the first chapter of high school. But then again, as they say, every ending is the start of a new beginning. May the next year be the best year yet.

JEAN LI ’15

From the start to the finish, for those in Thacher School’s most recent play, it has been a long haul. Students have been sacrificing their own time in order to make this production work and there is not a single member of the cast or crew who will tell you that it was easy.

Unlike many of the audience, I was not familiar with the play in the least. I had never heard of the word Spamalot until Mr. Sandy Jensen announced the play at assembly to my dubious confusion and the enthusiastic cheers of the rest of the crowd. When I walked into the Milligan Center to see Spamalot on the Friday showing, I was completely unprepared.

Like many musicals, the show began with a remix of the many soundtracks. While somewhat long, it did give the audience enough time to settle down and quiet until Harry Hayman stepped on stage. With a 50% of pestilence and famine, the show began…in Finland. Naturally, this was quickly corrected.

Paul Cresanta leapt into the role of King Arthur. He portrayed a regal, haughty, and hilarious King Arthur who also had a certain degree of self-pity when it came to being alone. Strutting around on his ‘horse’, his delivery and passion never failed to make the audience laugh. Accompanied by Patsy, the Jewish horse and servant, the two made an unfailing duo and somehow managed to pull King Arthur out of his brief depression.

Sir Galahad, played by Jonathan Chang (and also known as Sir Prat), was possibly another one of my favorite characters in the play. The best line he ever delivered was directly following the Lady of the Lake’s beautiful song. Two words. “Oh wow.”

We come, of course, to Jacqueline King’s beautiful (if somewhat spoiled) Lady of the Lake. She perhaps had the more serious songs in the show, but even they made the audience chuckle and, occasionally, gasp with laughter. The scene where she was prodding Arthur to marry her was certainly one that can not be overlooked. Secretly though, I was actually hoping Arthur would marry Patsy.

Perhaps my favorite two characters of the entire show though were Sir Lancelot and his beautiful bride–Prince Herbert. Played by Jackson Dolphin and Colin Troughton respectively, the two made a beautiful couple. Dolphin’s reactions as Lancelot to Herbert’s declaration of his homosexuality was perhaps one of the most hilarious (if controversial) moment in the entire play. Colin Troughton also played his role to perfection and after watching the play twice in a row on both Friday and Saturday, it was still one of the parts I could re-watch over and over again. Of course, the pair’s final line would serve as the icing on the cake.

“They are a different people, a multi-talented people, a people… who need people… and who are, in many ways, the luckiest people in the world.”

While the stage in the Thacher School is not Broadway, the actors remain true to the words of Sir Robin (though not necessarily Jewish). Each and every member of the cast and crew are different people and a multi-talented people. And to have been in such a beautiful production, they are indeed in many ways, some of the luckiest people in the world.

JEAN LI ’13