Alex Florian’s winning art piece for UNITED @ THE PALACE Flyer Design Contest

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The Education of Margot Sanchez

Lilliam Rivera the author of The Education Of Margot Sanchez visited the High School for Media and Communications in March, as a part of the school’s “What it Takes” lecture series.

Rivera’s debut young adult (YA) book The Education Of Margot Sanchez is about a young teenage girl who is desperately trying to fit into her expensive private school, obnoxious friends, a dysfunctional family, all while making the bad choice of stealing her father’s credit card which she must repay through a summer of working in her family supermarket, states the author’s website.

Rivera opened the event with a presentation about her life and what paved the path to her writing career. She explained that reading was embedded into her family’s tradition as she grew up which nourished her love for books. However, Rivera noticed that most books she read were not relatable to her life, ethnicity, or issues.

The author and young mother informed us, that growing up her father had already set expectations and goals for her, however, none of these goals interested her or her passions.

“There was no such thing as writing or being a writer. All of these things are meant for people who have money or white people. Definitely not hard working Puerto Ricans. We are meant to work hard and that meant not to go into the arts. That meant to not write,” Rivera explained.

Rivera then shared her life and college experiences, explaining the struggle of living alone in college without any family. “There were moments where I didn’t even have enough money to buy lunch,” Rivera said. This did not break the author’s spirit however.

She strongly believed she needed to write books that would relate to people of color and their issues. “I didn’t see any Latina or person of color, so I felt like my story didn’t count.” Rivera expressed that when reading a book as a young child and teen she never saw people of her ethnicity writing, which led her to want to see more people like her and the ones in her community  on book covers. That is why the cover of “The Education Of Margot Sanchez” is a teen of color and the main character Margot is a young Latina.

After the short introduction of her life, Rivera read a short excerpt from her book and expanded on the character Margot.

Rivera then opened up the floor to questions. Students were motivated to ask questions about the book and her personal life and took the opportunity to ask questions such as, “Was this book based off your experiences?” Rivera explained that some parts were based off of her life but she also wanted everyone to be able to connect with Margot and the 21st century issues represented in the book by making the setting of the story New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Rivera also expanded on the question by sharing how specifically the setting was in the Bronx. “The Bronx is often viewed as a bad place, but there are people who are falling in love in the Bronx, making families and art!” Rivera stated. She wanted to shine a light on the fact that the Bronx was a beautiful part of the city that holds a lot of memories and occasions which caused cheers from the crowd of students.

Rivera shared how important it was for her to hold the launch party for her book in the Bronx because it “inspired my book and story.”

After many questions from students, Rivera shared news of her second YA book she’s writing. “This book will be all about girl power, it’ll be about badass gangs made of girls running the streets. Of course I don’t support gangs, however this gang feels more like a family. It’ll be coming out soon and I think you guys will love it,” Rivera announced that the book will be coming out on the fall of 2018.

At the close of the lecture, Media students took a group picture with Rivera with The Education Of Margot Sanchez pins pinned on their clothes. The pins were a warm gift from Rivera to each of the students.

Peace In the Streets

The United Nations visited the George Washington Educational Campus to begin their “Peace In The Streets Global Film Festival” in February 2018.

According to the organization’s website, UN Peacemaker Corps mission is to create peace and tolerance among the youth.

The event drew a large crowd of people from all four schools. Principals, Assistant Principals, teachers and most importantly students. The event began with the organization’s Chairman and President of the UN Peacemaker Corps Carole Sumner Krechman speaking.

Krechman expanded on what they hope to achieve with this campaign. “You are our future,” she addressed the campus students. “We want the youth to use words not violence!” she stated.

The event organizers then shared videos created by teens about the injustice and conflicts they feel should be confronted from previous film festivals. Videos focused on different topics such as homosexuality, stereotypes, religion and world hunger.

Executive Director Suzanne Harvey then took the floor. Harvey spoke about the importance of youth taking leadership roles to resolve conflicts and making a “peaceful, compassionate, safe and tolerant” world to live in.

After the event ended I sat down with Krechman, she explained her story with teens which inspired her to start the campaign in the first place. “I owned a bowling alley where teens had a lot of fun but outside of the alley their lives were a mess!”

Krechman shared that the teens who visited her bowling alley had many issues such as transportation, acceptance from society and family issues, which led her to create the campaign and film festival to give them a voice.

The global film festival is now open for the 2018 year. Teens are given a chance to shoot an inspiring video to show their solution to world conflicts and the winner gets their video shown all around the world and on UN websites. For more information about the contest and previous winners go to

This is an amazing opportunity, for our generation who is already interested in the media world to have an opportunity to showcase their solutions for  world conflicts.

Opioid Epidemic On the Rise

Did you know that 91 Americans die from overdose everyday? Which is 33,215 people every year and 531,440 people over the course of the last 16 years (as of 2017).

Opioid is a class drug used as a painkiller substance that are used illegally that acts as a opioid receptors to produces morphine like effects. The opioid crisis broke out in the United States and Canada due to prescription and nonprescription drugs during the late 1990’s to the early decade of the 2000’s.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdoses deaths (six out of ten) involved an opioid.

Since 1999, the number of drug overdoses involving an opioid (including prescription opioid and heroin) has quadrupled. From 2000 to 2016, more than half of million Americans died from a drug overdose.

When did the opioid crisis begin? It all started in the 1990’s when a small group of physicians started to receive funding from drug firms, which led to the mass creation of multiple painkillers like Vicodin, Morphine, Methadone. But what really set the opioid epidemic to the bar was the Sackler family foundation.

American brothers Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler started the groundbreaking business behind the opioid crisis with their infamous Purdue Pharma family company. Before Purdue Pharma was “Purdue Pharma’’, the company was founded and formerly owned by John Purdue Gray and George Frederick Bingham back in 1892 when it was known as “Purdue Frederick Company” in New York, New York. Nearly halfway through the 20th century, founders sold off the company to the Sacklers in 1952. With the rise of the new of the 1990’s, Purdue Pharma L.P. targeted mainly towards pain medications and more. The company that “pioneer in developing medications for reducing pai, a principal cause of human suffering,” is the producer of OxyContin” stated from a article from The Conversation.

With Marijuana, Magical Mushrooms, and Hallinates being some of the substances that sparked up the generation in the 60’s and mid 70’s, Cocaine sparking in the mid 80’s, these were just infamous events that led opioid epidemic to be with the letter creation of OxyContin. OxyContin is described to “a specific brand name for a pain medication in the opioid class (narcotic drugs) that contains the extended-release version of oxycodone…”, according to the american addiction centers.org. Oxycodone is “an opiate agonist that is the active ingredient in a number of narcotic pain medications, including Percocet, Percodan, and Oxycontin” according from the same source.

Since the public approval of stocking Oxycontin in 1995 and Purdue Pharma introducing it as a drug that would prevent the pain, the world of pain medication had taken a new turn. By 1998, a new classed drug called  Actiq also known as Fentanyl was released as another pain medication that helps relieve critical ongoing pain that’s the result of cancer.

As of recent, everyone who has ever prescribed opioids, sold, and or benefited from opioids have now come to the realization that opioids is extremely addictive and harmful to the body. Which is pretty ironic considering numerous of sources many years ago claimed that these substances didn’t do anything. But the thing that is fascinating about the whole concept is the fact that the main consumers are people of the Caucasian descent. According to an Huffington Post article, “White people with money weren’t by the crack epidemic, it was out of sight, out of mind.” This statement followed by a study from JAMA Psychiatry citing that “… heroin usage among has risen dramatically over the last decade.” (also from the same article.)

With the percentage of drug overdoses and the popularity increases in multiple painkiller companies and brands, the more people who truly believed that opioids wasn’t a big issue has now develop a certain interest in stopping this dilemma. Numerous of politicians to the president of the United States have now urged the mass public about the dangers of opioids and how we should put a stop to this horrendous crisis.

The Arts That Will Change the Heights

The NYCDOE Community School District 6 office presented the 4th Annual UNITED @ THE PALACE arts showcase at the United Palace in Washington Heights, NY on May 25th. According to Community School District 6, the district held a student wide arts showcase that serves as a platform to amplify young people’s voices by displaying the talents of the students in the Northern Manhattan community.

Comprised of 40 schools in Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood; District 6 has approximately 18,000 Pre-K through 12th grade students. This year’s UNITED @ THE PALACE showcase included 21 diverse acts (including pre-show performances) of children and teens from the district’s schools representing grades K-12.

This UNITED @ THE PALACE arts showcase is “an opportunity that we are creating as a district to put arts back in schools,” stated District 6 Superintendent Manuel Ramirez. Over 3,000 people were expected to attend the event, claimed Mr. Ramirez.

When asked why arts are important to the Washington Heights community, Mr. Ramirez said he has confidence that the arts will enhance the students’ “academic performance, teamwork, moral skills and their perseverance and focus.”

Zulaika Velazquez, the Artistic Director of GWEC, believes students who are engaged in the arts are able to “stretch their minds beyond the boundaries of the printed text or the rules of what is provable.”

Confirming Mr. Ramirez’ and Ms.Velazquez’ words, before the show begun the young people acted upon the responsibility of entertaining 3,000 plus people. In each school’s group, students demonstrated a great amount of leadership and commitment as they practiced. They communicated to each other through the frustrations of being in such a big production. Ana Made, a junior at the High School for Media and Communications and volunteer working backstage, described the children, as “dependable because they knew what to do on stage and off stage.”

Once the doors of the palace were open, hundreds of guests consisting of parents, friends, teachers, school leaders, and elected officials Senator Marisol Alcantara, Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez attended the event.

From beginning to end, the audience was amazed and in awe. The acts consisted of singing, dancing, poetry, cheerleading, instrumental music and amazing remakes of film and popular pop songs. Students of all ages passionately danced and sang across the stage. Some students did stunts that made the crowd scream with delight and others used art to teach the audience of the importance of different cultures.

“Our student performers and group leaders did a spectacular job and delivered on high expectations with a seamless run of show,” stated District 6 Family Support Coordinator Cimary Hernandez.

Ms. Hernandez shared that the main directors of the event were herself, Ms.Velazquez, Community Education Council (CEC) 6 Administrative Assistant  Porfirio Figueroa, and Superintendent Manuel Ramirez.

In addition to the performances, awards were also given out to the finalists of the UNITED @ THE PALACE art competition and the NYCDOE Big Apple Award. Henry Whopschall, an 8th grader who attends P.S. 187 Hudson Cliffs, won 1st place in the district wide art competition. Ms. Raya Sam, a math teacher at the Hamilton Grange Middle School, won the Big Apple Award.

Throughout the event many people praised how great the show was and how proud they were; including Assistant Principal and district 6 parent Emel Topbas-Mejia. “It was a magical event and seeing the talents of our young people brings our community great pride,” shared Ms. Topbas-Mejia.

The arts provide a way for students to express themselves freely in our northern Manhattan community. This event will create a chain reaction throughout the community as more students become interested in the arts.

Black Panther

By Angel Fernandez, Class of 2020

Black Panther (2018)

 

After Boseman’s film debut in Captain America (2016), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) finally has his solo film debut and this is a big deal because he is the first African-American actor to get his own solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

The story follows King T’Challa taking the throne after his father’s death and figuring out what it means to be a king. Things get more difficult when Erik Killmonger, (Michael B.Jordan) shows up with the intention to take the throne.  King T’Challa and his General Okoye (Danai Gurira), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and his friend Nakia (Lupita Nyong`O) join forces to prevent this from happening.

Will King T’Challa defend his throne with the help of friends and family? Or, will he give up his rights to Erik? Find out in Black Panther.  

Now let’s move on to my personal opinion of the movie. I liked it personally but it’s not my favorite MCU film (Marvel Cinematic Universe). That is held by Avengers: Age of Ultron. But, Black Panther is a great film. I give it a Geek Approval of: It’s worth seeing opening weekend.

What is the Geek Approval? It’s a rating system I’ve created where I, the geek, give it a rating as follows:

  • It’s worth seeing opening weekend
  • I’ll wait for the bootleg to come out
  • I’ll wait for it to come out on DVD
  • I think I’ll pass

Hey and if there are ever any movies you’d like me to review or be featured, just let me know. I’ll most likely be wearing an Avengers: Infinity War sweater.

Cooper Union FREE Saturday Arts Program

My name is Tenisha-Terry Moultrie and for three years, freshman to junior year, I have been taking a Saturday arts program at the college Cooper Union. This program is a great way to make new friends, develop new skills, and see new things you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

This college is strictly geared for the arts. When I say the arts I am talking about graphic design, painting, sculpting and drawing. They also offer additional courses to prepare students to submit professional portfolios. If you’re interested in submitting a portfolio to a prestigious school like Cooper Union your best bet is to begin working with them while you’re in high school.

The Saturday program provides all materials for FREE and they show you how to use them. The program does not require you to have any prior knowledge and skills before joining.

When I applied it was competitive for acceptance, as I mentioned before this is a school known for arts at high value. However, with the help of my art teacher Mr. Montalvo, I was provided with a special code that allowed my application to be reviewed first. But now the program is accepting anyone who applies!    

All of the teachers teaching the Saturday classes are undergrads at the actual school. They give you skills and tips that help you greatly with your performance in the class. They’ve experienced the application process firsthand and have went through the process of building a great arts portfolio so they can give you an insight on what it’s like.

One of the biggest benefits of the teachers being undergrads is that they are closer to our age as high school students. This means they can better understand us as teenagers and talk to us more as our peers rather than our average teachers in school. The setting is also great, there are two teachers in the class and no more than 25 students. We always work in a large studio with long tables, lots of empty space, and large windows that let in natural sunlight.

Even though the school focuses on art, there is also a writing component where an instructor named Ms. Berry, who is full of energy and excitement, teaches us to express our work in terms of poetry. I personally love this section because I love to write. When it is time to begin our hour long session of using literary devices and attitude to convey our theme, I barely realize that the time is passing by.

Besides classroom work, we also do a lot of hands on work. The instructors take students on trips to art museums and fun places around Cooper to give us a chance to incorporate the real world within our work. Twice throughout the semesters, we have a large gathering where students get to share and perform their work on stage. Through doing this everyone gets a feel of what it is like to be in each class. We show our appreciation for everyone’s art and collectively celebrate our achievements.

Being at Cooper takes dedication. The classes are on Saturdays from 10AM to 5PM. You may look at these hours and think, “ Oh, nevermind…I have a life.” But, when you’re engaged in an area that you are passionate about like sculpting, drawing, and creative writing,  the hours go by much faster than you think.

If you are interested in applying for a program at Cooper Union, visit:    http://cooper.edu/art/saturday-program

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Tenisha’s art piece. (Tenisha Terry-Moultrie/Class of 2019)
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(Tenisha Terry-Moultrie/Class of 2019)
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(Tenisha Terry-Moultrie/Class of 2019)