A glorious bell rings at 9:45 a.m. each school day signaling the end of homeroom, and therefore, the beginning of Mustang Block. Mustang Block is 9:45 and lasts until 10:11 a.m. During this time, students are encouraged to catch up on homework and other class work, meet with teachers and other staff if the students feel they need the extra help or if the teacher requests the student to come, go to the library and utilize the computers and other resources, or, if the student doesn’t need to do any of the previously mentioned tasks, they can take a break, grab a snack, and relax in an alcove, courtyard or the cafeteria.
Many upperclassmen can be found in the alcoves catching up on homework, relaxing, or quietly chatting with friends.
“One of the benefits of being able to sit in the alcoves during Mustang Block is that we are able to use it as a meeting spot for group projects or, if you don’t need help on an assignment but a student peer could help you, there is usually always someone there to lend you that help,” said Emily Bell, senior.
Though many seniors commented that they wish students had the freedom to go off campus, perhaps to Starbucks across the street, many, if not all, praised Mustang Block nonetheless.
“I really enjoy Mustang Block because I can do whatever I feel like I need to do that day. I can catch up with friends, or if I have work to do, I can take care of that,” said Alex Connole, senior.
Most underclassman don’t have the privilege of sitting in the alcoves but many socialize, grab a snack or work on homework either in the library or cafeteria. Thrilled Eighth grade students said having Mustang Block is such a nice treat after coming from the middle school where there was no time like Mustang Block to get a snack or meet with a teacher.
“I really enjoy Mustang Block because I can snack and take a break, and even catch up on homework if I need to,” commented Ashley Smith, freshman.
Since the implementation of Schoology, many more teachers in every department have taken advantage of the new technology than ever before. The great success of this Learning Management System (LMS) comes at the expense of years of agonizing systems such as ANGEL or Access GM.
As this year’s graduating class can well remember, an easy to use, efficient LMS was not always part of classes at George Mason. In 2008, ANGEL was first introduced but was neither utilized nor greatly understood by both faculty and students alike. A year later, ANGEL was put to greater use but had an underwhelming impact. Service often broke down unexpectedly when students needed it the most, for example during the tremendous snowstorms that cancelled school for a week, and the threadbare interface did not allow for thorough posts - usually a one sentence summary of what happened in class and a brief homework assignment.
2010’s Access GM program had many of the same problems as ANGEL. Students did not get any significant value from Access GM as teachers opted to start posting information on independent Google sites rather than face Access GM’s difficult sharing methods. Probably the worst factor contributing to the demise of Access GM was the lack of any unifying tutorial on how to use it. Teachers employed unique methods for sharing items and many did not even make extensive use of it.
All of these problems that have plagued online resources have now been corrected by Schoology. This program has set a new standard for what an online LMS can do. Not only does it all have features to help teachers, the program’s capabilities are being effectively put to use. It seems as though all teachers are sharing information in a unified and very easy to use way.
The editors of Lasso Online would like to extend a well-deserved pat on the back to the administration for finding such a program and educating the faculty on how to put it to best use.
Submitting assignments from home is now more straightforward than ever as is finding additional resources and class assignments. It is our hope that Schoology can become a permanent part of every George Mason student’s learning experience.
Sports and athletics are a great activity for people of all ages to be involved in, but when it comes to the high school level all the way up to professionals, it can become more aggressive and violent than just a friendly game.
In contact sports like football, which is already violent to begin with, players are beginning to become more aggressive and push the boundaries when it comes to what’s acceptable on the field. Some examples of the aggressive acts happening are head to head contact, unnecessary roughness, and who knows what happens at the bottom of those dog piles when every player is fighting for the ball. Another example would be pushing and shoving or even fighting after the play has been called dead.
Although football is a contact sport, it is not the only sport where players tend to act violently. In baseball, for example, there are some situations where the pitcher intentionally throws at the batter or the batter charges the mound as a reaction to being purposefully thrown at. There is also cleating where a runner will intentionally raise one of his legs while sliding into a base to prevent one of the fielders from making a play and in some cases causes injury. Another sport involving certain acts is basketball, when it comes to throwing elbows and flagrant fouls that are motivated by anger.
We all know that these violent acts take place, but it is important to know what causes them. Not all of these aggressive acts are always on purpose but most of time the players that commit these acts try and act like it was an accident and didn’t understand what they did that was wrong. Most of these events involve undisciplined players who cannot stay calm and collected when competing. Some causes of this could be uncontrollable anger at a certain call or an opposing player on the other team or even a fan that is attending the game. Another reason could be over the top competition, for instance intentionally taking a player on the opposing team out of the game to better the chances of your team winning, or just the underlying motivation to intentionally hurt an opposing player.
James Hickey, a senior at GMHS on the football team said, “It depends on the moral fiber of the team. I doubt that any team would intentionally hurt other players if they were ahead, but it gets dangerous when a team is losing and feel like they have nothing to play for anymore.”
The competitors themselves are not the only people at sporting events who act aggressively, fans who attend games can have an effect on the sporting environment.
Fans feel that they can’t be penalized for their actions at sporting events, which lead to name-calling and heckling that can be extremely disrespectful to the other team or the officials. In some cases there can be excessive fan violence, which can lead to brawls between the opposing team’s fans. Some causes of this could include pride for their own team or just the motivation to be disrespectful and look for trouble.
In every situation, it’s different but there are discussions about where to draw the line and what official action should take place in order to improve the experience. Some officials are more lenient than others but in some situations something needs to be done in order to maintain a safe environment. For example, some of the responses to fan violence can include ejection from the event, suspension from future events and even jail for certain criminal charges.
A lot of the events and actions that take place are strongly connected to moral values, not just with the players but with the coaches and fans as well. Some people believe that people who participate in contact sports such as football tend to be more aggressive off the field, but I feel that statement is an extreme generality and cannot be applied to every single athlete who participates in contact sports.
Henry Damstadter, the kicker on the GMHS football team said, “Being a football player myself, I don’t find myself being more aggressive than others off the field, although when it comes to football it takes more of an aggressive mentality in order to be successful and compete.”
Aggressive acts can sometimes become natural to some players if they get used to contact and violence in their sport, but coaches can also sometimes influence negative behavior in their players.
Many people have different views on what should be done about controlling on-field violence and safety precautions but I feel that more should be done. The NFL is already trying to make the game safer for its players by putting new rules into play and investing money in research for safer equipment. But when it comes to on-field acts of unacceptable aggression, more needs to be done such as strict penalties and severe consequences to those that act out.
When it comes to appropriate contact, there needs to be limitations on what’s legal and younger age groups need to be separated into age and weight groups to prevent injury which are already in effect. I don’t think that contact sports should be banned from youth programs because as long as there is discipline involved, contact sports can remain appropriate and suitable for the youth and all levels of the sport.
Tommy Weber, ’13
Students always have the newest technology in their hands. So many Mason students own an iPhone. Let’s face it, the iPhone is an extremely helpful device.
Most students are seen speed walking through the hallways, with three binders, one textbook, a pencil bag, and a beloved iPhone in their hands. One of those objects is bound to drop, and it seems to be the smallest object is the first to go.
If you have a good case, your iPhone can survive the long drop from your overfilled hands to the hard ground. While there are so many options for cases, with so many different designs, the safest case arguably is the iPhone Otterbox, Defender or Commuter.
I have gone through so many cases with my iPhone and as I have tried them, some crack, some wear down too quickly, and some just don’t give any protection to my phone but yet have a fashionable design.
Later my friends and the convincing salespeople at the Apple store told me the case to buy is the Otterbox. There are two main kinds of the Otterbox cases for the iPhone, one called the defender and the other called the Commuter. While they both are very protective, the Defender is known to be a little more protective with three layers. The Commuter is a little less bulky than the defender and has one less layer.
Both cases come with a screen protector that helps prevent scratches. The Commuter and Defender both protect the iPhone if the phone is dropped and prevents dust from getting into the little nooks and crannies of the phone. Both the Commuter and the Defender have different designs like flowers and solid colors. The defender also comes with a holster to buckle on your pants while the Commuter does not.
When I got the Otterbox, I had my doubts and just wondered if it would just be like the other cases that would wear down very quickly. Although the Otterbox is a great product, there are some qualities that are not very good. Both Otterbox cases don’t fit into a dock of an iHome, so to play your music out loud you have to take the whole case off. Both Otterbox cases are not easy to clean, they get dirty quickly and it is not easy to scrub all the dirt off because of the texture of the case.
The Commuter and the Defender Otterbox cases take time to put on and off, because you have to match all the plug ins together and make sure everything is aligned, so after you play your music in your iHome you have to be careful when you put your case back on the phone. Other than those bad qualities of both the Otterbox cases, the good qualities make up for them.
The hunt to find an Otterbox can be a little stressful. Many local phone stores like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint sell these at their stores but they can run pretty expensive. Their Otterbox cases can run about $50 for a Defender case and about $35 for Commuter case. You can also get an Otterbox at the actual Otterbox website, and they are about the same prices as the local phone stores. If you want to find a good priced Otterbox, go to Amazon. They have both the Defender and Commuter Otterbox cases and you can get them cheaper than local phone stores or the Otterbox website. There all different prices ranging from $15-$25 for the Commuter and $25-45 for the Defender. Although the hunt for an Otterbox can be exhausting, if you know the design and price range you want to spend, it can be a lot easier of a job.
The Otterbox Defender and Commuter is a great product that protects iPhones, is very stylish, and can be a great investment.
“The Otterbox is great because I never have to worry that if I drop my phone that it will crack and break,” commented freshman Ginger Villamar who owns an Otterbox Defender.
5 out of 5 stars
In the 70’s, the U.S. supported Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Shah Pahlavi was notorious for his luxurious spending while his people were starving, leading to a revolution where he was overthrown and replaced with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had anti-American sentiments.
This is where “Argo” began. Shortly after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, an attack was made on the U.S embassy led by a group of students and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, a supposed ally of the U.S.
The U.S. Embassy was stormed and taken over by the Revolutionary Guard for 444 days.
What many didn’t know about, until the mission was declassified, was operation Argo. The plan was to sneak six American diplomats out of the Canadian Embassy by disguising them as a Canadian film crew.
Ben Affleck plays the lead, Tony Mendez, a CIA operative, who comes up with the plan to create a fake movie with the help of Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers. They come up with “Argo,” a space movie with a Middle Eastern feel, to get the diplomats to safety.
Though the movie was made in 2012, it has a very authentic late 70’s early 80’s feel with the costumes, hair, music, language, and set.
This is Affleck’s best work to date. It is historically accurate from what happened leading up to the Hostage Crisis to how the situation was dealt with and the overall gravity of the situation. This was a hard topic for anyone to make a move about and Affleck did it flawlessly with a perfect blend of historical accuracy and thrill to keep anyone engaged.
The movie is 120 minutes of sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, intensity and gripping moments. The fact that these events really happened and real people’s lives were on the line makes the movie that much more exhilarating. This is a must see movie for everyone.
Walking through the hallways, leftover food, wrappers and napkins are littered throughout the junior and senior alcoves. One could make the case that Mason upperclassmen forget that, although it is their privilege, the alcoves are not their home.
Every year, new junior and senior classes are awarded their respective alcoves and, every year, each class mistreats them and, unfortunately, the custodial staff is left to clean up empty bottles, crumpled lunch trays, smashed foods and liquid puddles across the floor.
“It’s dirty, honestly,” senior Natacia Gentrup simply declared. “Their job is to tidy up and not clean up; there is a difference,” she passionately stated in respect to how the seniors mistreat their alcoves and leave food for the janitorial staff to clean up.
Some seniors, like senior Anna Strohmeyer, argue that because of the lack of enforcement of the rules, seniors believe they can carelessly mistreat their privileges. “People throw food because they think they’re not going to get in trouble.”
Potentially, the seniors could lose their privileges, which may include the alcoves and also the ability to go off campus. In previous years, the loss of senior privileges has occurred and if the 2013 senior class does take action and responsibility, they too could lose their privileges.
The George Mason custodial staff goes above and beyond their duties to keep the alcoves clean.
George Mason seniors, help the custodial staff out and show your appreciation by cleaning up after your lunches, and encourage fellow senior classmates to clean and show respect for their alcoves too.
Is poetry still fun when it is forced? The annual Poetry Out Loud competition is nearing as English teachers prepare students for classroom poetry recitations.
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest which begins inside school classrooms and then moves to competitions within the school, region, and state. It concludes in a national competition held at the end of April in Washington D.C.
Imagine standing in front of a crowded English classroom filled with fellow peers while your hands nervously sweat and shake. You take a deep breath, beginning your recitation but suddenly your mind goes blank. You realize you have forgotten the words and begin to imagine your previous grade in English slowly lowering as your teacher scribbles red-inked notes across a rubric. This is how it feels to recite poetry in class.
The annual Poetry Out Loud competition is one of George Mason’s most participated-in competitions arguably because some of George Mason’s English teachers require a poetry recitation as a graded assignment, in contrast to other teachers who offer poetry recitations as extra credit.
English teacher Maggie Webster, among other teachers, strongly believes in the skill of poetry recitation and states that “People lost that skill to technology. Recitations make kids think deeper about the words.”
Undoubtedly, the skill of reciting poetry as well as public speaking is important and it is an essential skill to possess. However, is there another way to encourage such skills without risking students’ grades?
When asked to describe how she felt about poetry recitations, eighth grade student Giselle Terrazas-Lopez shared her pre-recitation jitters, “I haven’t even done it yet, and I already know I’m going to be nervous.”
Most students, including myself, strive to do well in Poetry Out Loud solely because of fear of a lowered grade.
“It’s so fun,” tenth grade student Claire Schmitt sarcastically joked before revealing her true sentiments about Poetry Out Loud. “I definitely just do it for the grade.”
Consequently, in their effort to invoke deeper thinking, teachers are causing students to focus on the grade rather than the enjoyment of reciting poetry and obtaining the skills of public speaking and recitation.
In order to save recitation and public speaking from becoming “just another graded assignment” and to restore the enjoyment of recitations, teachers should consider other alternatives such as replacing their critical grading rubrics for a simple participation grade, offering students additional attention outside of class to help students practice their recitations, or join some of their fellow staff members and offer recitations as extra credit and not for a grade.
If the English department does not come together and collaboratively decide the fate of future recitations inside the classroom, without a doubt, teachers shall see future generations of students completely lose all appreciation and skill of recitation to technology, which some fear have already begun to occur.