Class Spotlight: Big Issues

Picture of the map found in the classroom where the Big Issues class is held.

Picture of the map found in the classroom where the Big Issues class is held.

Out of the ever changing list of Village School electives, 2016’s spring semester features a Village favorite: Big Issues. Taught by Jeff Bernstein, students learn about some (big) issues happening in the world. This year, we started by learning LD (Lincoln Douglas Debate), a technique that helps us argue our points of view with supporting facts. The topics we discuss in class are chosen by students. For each topic, we are introduced to several examples, hold class discussions, and then complete writing assignments. The class is purposely set up in a way that forces students to depend entirely on the facts, rather than our opinions or personal biases.

A Village school senior, Jared Gomberg, who is currently enrolled in this class and has taken it before, says it is his favorite social studies elective. So far, his favorite part of class was an LD debate about whether or not violent crime against an oppressive government is okay. Other topics he is looking forward to exploring in debates are controversial issues such as abortion, gun control, the criminal justice system, the death penalty, and police brutality.

The New Superintendent (according to Steve..)

I recently interviewed Steven Goldberg, principal of Great Neck Village School, about our district’s new superintendent, Dr. Teresa Prendergast.


Dr. Teresa Prendergast

My first question was about the history of superintendents. He mentioned sadness to see Tom Dolan leave, which all of you probably know. He’s soon-to-be former superintendent. From Steve’s knowledge, Dr. William A. Shine was superintendent for 24 years, followed by Dr. Ronald Friedman, and most recently, Dr. Tom Dolan.

And if you’re wondering why you should continue reading this article, it’s actually really important when a new superintendent is chosen because it actually is an extremely big deal. Steve used words like “educational leader” and “top-notch”. Not only that, Steve went on to say that the board of education has an exceptional skill set to be able to fill the positions of Great Neck educators. The superintendent is the go-to person for school principals and anyone in between. Aimagend Dr. Prendergast now has the power to make the majority, if not all, of the educational decisions. So, it’s a big deal.

There is no question about the qualifications of the superintendent because the job requires a bunch of degrees. Starting with an SDA, which stands for School District Administrative Degree, next is an SBA, (School Building Administrative degree), and with some other credits you’re qualified to be a superintendent. (If you didn’t know, Steve actually is qualified to be a superintendent too!), but he’s fully satisfied as principal.

After acquiring those degrees, it takes a while to climb to the top. You can jump from position to position very fast either, because you want word to get out that you’ve been good at each and every position. It takes a while. Steve said he’s never met a superintendent under 45.

Steve continued on to say that Dr. Prendergast was very kind, competent, and eager to teach, as well as learn. She is probably going to come to our Village School graduation as well.

Wrapping up the interview, he wanted to thank the board of education for having a talent for finding amazing people to keep Great Neck, well… Great.

Student Profile: Ben Varughese

I recently interviewed Ben, who joined the Village community this January, and asked him a few questions about himself. He was born in Jamaica, Queens and moved around a lot through the city for years at a time. After 2011, he moved to New Hyde, where he lives today. He was traveling a lot and subsequently missed a lot of school, even up to six weeks at one point. Village has helped him attend school much more often than he did at South.

Ben is extremely passionate music, writing poetry and his own lyrics. He’s actually going to be working at his friend’s studio soon. Moving around a lot and struggling with personal problems, Ben has developed the music taste he’s into today, anything he can relate to and has relatable meaning.

Below are some other questions I asked Ben, directly quotes from our interview:

What do you do in the studio?
“I mean I kinda just play around with everything. Like it’s no problem, and we have an ill time. I’m a poet, a lyricist, and a storyteller.”

Why were you missing so much school?
“I mean I was busy with my own hustle, traveling and all that. Also, I just couldn’t focus for my life so class had me like: what’s the point?”

Class Profile: AP Environmental Science

Most of the AP Environmental Science class on a field trip to a sewage treatment plant.

Most of the AP Environmental Science class on a field trip to a sewage treatment plant.

By Jonah Wolmark

This year, Tobias Hatten has had the honour of teaching the first AP class to ever be offered at the Village School, and he’s done an amazing job at it so far. The AP Environmental Science class is an extremely difficult, yet extremely fun and interesting 2-semester course on anything anyone could want to know about the environment, and some more! Recently, I was given the opportunity to interview Toby about the class and his thoughts on it.

Jonah: What gave you the idea to teach AP Environmental Science?

Toby: The students. They needed a challenge. They needed to have a taste of college classes.

J: Why Environmental Science instead of any other AP?

T: It allows students to see the impact we can have in a negative and positive way to sustain the future.

J: What was the reaction from the rest of the staff when they heard that you are teaching an AP course?

T: Curiosity. (After asked to elaborate, Toby kindly declined.)

J: How difficult was it for you to prepare to teach the class?

T: Difficult. It took a lot of summer time. I’d say it was about 10 hours a week.

J: What topics have been covered in the class so far?

T: Ecology, water resources and pollution, economics, geologic hazards.

J: What has been your favourite topic to teach in the class?

T: I liked energy. I like to see the environmental impact that all our small actions make and I love to quantify it.

J: Do you think the students are well prepared to take the AP exam?

T: Yeah. I’m not too worried about that.

J: Do you have plans to teach any other AP courses in the future?

T: I think I’d need to discuss it with the faculty, but yeah.

Student Profile: Ezra Hyman

Interview by Peter Leonardo

Recently, I was able to sit down and talk to Ezra, a senior at Village, about his future plans for college as well as other random topics!


Ezra, just sitting around…

I was accepted into Vassar College in Poughkeepsie in NY, SUNY Geneseo, and Binghamton University, also in NY.  I would like to major in Word History and Philosophy at Vassar Collage.

What do you want your career to be?

I don’t know for sure what I want to do yet, but I’m thinking about being a professor at a college or an author.

What does Village School mean to you?

It’s a great school for kids who need to learn differently and need extra help.

Are you excited to leave or sad to go?

I know Village was a good trip for me, but I don’t know what college is going to be for me. I know college is going to have a lot more freedom, but less supervision; I know I’m going to be able to make mistakes and I’m going to have to figure out how to get through them.

What are some of your hobbies and passions?

I don’t do much outside of school, and I know my social skills are lacking outside of school, so I greatly enjoy my video games… my hobbies are basically school, video games, and eating and sleeping.

Whats the craziest thing you have done in your life so far?

I met a girl online that lives in Connecticut and I actually got my family to go there on a trip just to meet her… I kept it PG-13!

What kind of music do you like?

Post Grunge and Rock — I listen to Three Days Grace, Rise Against, Breaking Benjamin, and Billy Joel and I like some songs from Five Finger Death Punch but they’re a little too heavy for me.

Have you ever been to a concert? If so, who did you see?

I’ve seen a couple American Idols live….Against my will!! (he laughs). But for my birthday, I saw Nickleback.

Where do you go to lunch during the school week?

I bring lunch from home and usually do my work during lunch.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Telekinesis (a type of paranormal ability that allows you move objects with your mind),  so I can use my mind as a physical force.

Student Profile: Jonah Wolmark

By Elliot Esterman

Jonah: Computer Guru

Jonah: Computer Guru

Recently, I was able to sit down with Jonah Wolmark, a freshman at Village who actually enrolled in our school during the spring semester of his 8th grade school year!  Jonah is known for being very fluent in the topic of computers and video games, as well as various different programming languages, so I got to pick his game about all things ‘tech’.

What got you into programming?

I’ve been using computers basically all my life, so I’ve  been interested in computers and wanted to know how they work.

What are your hobbies?

I play a lot of video games and watch YouTube videos and i talk with my friends over Skype.

What kind of programming languages do you know and what was the first one that you learned how to use?

The first language i learned was Java and since then i learned C, C++, Python, Perl, and small amounts of other languages like PHP and HTML.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

Some job involving writing code or IT work.

What kind of video games do you like to play and why?

I mainly play indie games and roguelikes. Some examples of games that I play are Super Meat Boy, FTL and Papers, Please.

So, if you’re ever in need of tech help or want suggestions about new video games to play, you know the man to see!

Great Neck North Baseball: Breaking New Ground

Interview by Christopher Helms

At the beginning of the baseball season, I was given the opportunity to speak with Coach Bailin, Great Neck North’s varsity baseball coach about his expectations for his team this year.


Coach Bailin is at the helm of The Blazer’s baseball team.

1. What is your biggest focus this season?

Biggest focus this season? Probably getting these guys to work even harder this season; the end goal is to get into the play-offs.

2.  How do you expect to do this season?

A lot better than we have the last two years. We’re getting a lot more talent, we’re stronger top to bottom, we have a good pitcher, we’re going to play a good defense and there’s a lot of experience… a lot of varsity experience. We have a lot of young guys who are now juniors who have two years of varsity experience. They don’t fear this level of play now.

3. What are your teams greatest weaknesses and their greatest strengths?

Our greatest weakness I think, is that we don’t know how to win yet. Because we haven’t done any of it– in two years. I think that in itself, when we figure out how to win games, will be really beneficial down the road. I think that’s our greatest weakness, right now. We’ve played in a lot of good games, a lot of close games, in the past two years. Especially last year. But, we didn’t win those games. Our biggest strength, I mentioned, is our experience. We have a lot of guys who have multiple years of varsity experience even though they’re juniors. We have a sophomore catcher who played every inning of every game last year. So, even that, he’s a tenth grader now and he’s young, he has a lot of experience at this level.

4. What makes baseball special?

Uhh, boy, I’ve never been asked that before. It’s a unique game, that there’s no time limit. I do like the game to move quick, but, it’s very much a game of strategy, a lot of cat and mouse; and I enjoy the coaching aspect of it from a strategy standpoint, which as a player, I didn’t appreciate as much. And, I know these guys don’t fully understand it because they’re not in the position I’m in now. But you know, I enjoy the strategy part of it.

5. What advice do you wish everyone would follow?

Never stop working hard. Because the only way you get anything in this game is to just try and work harder than everybody else.

Their hard work is paying off.  Currently, The Blazers’ record is 2-2, an outstanding improvement from the last two years!

Class Profile: Street Law

Interview by Max Cruz

This is Jeff.

This is Jeff.

One of the classes that Jeff teaches is Street Law. This a class that will really have an impact on students even when they graduate from school (hopefully assuming that they all graduate). Being in this class, it’s rather curious how the minds of the students are blown every lesson.

Once you think you know something, another student’s view could flip the way you think about that topic. I had a chance to interview Jeff this week. Note that Jeff is a very busy man. This interview is completely unaltered and unedited.

Max: Jeff, what do feel is the importance of teaching this class?

Jeff: To teach students how to understand how the law works.

Max: Do you think students will be applying what they learn in this class to real life situations?

Jeff: Yes.

Max: Do you think these lessons will have an impact on the way people think of the law?

Jeff: Yes.

Max: What subjects will you be covering in the class?

Jeff: The law.

Max: Thank you Jeff.

Jeff: You’re welcome.



Student Profile: James Heinlein

By Jon Roshan

Village School junior, James Heinlein.

Village School junior, James Heinlein.

Here at Village School, there are so many different students with different personalities who impact the school in numerous ways. James Heinlein is a student who has brought something to the school that is irreplaceable. That thing is his attitude. James is known for his hilarious and quirky sense of humor, which can be completely random at times. James’s sense of humor touches upon things such as references to internet memes to jokes about his favorite food, bacon.  And although these are things that anyone can speak about, James finds a way to make them funny in ways others can’t.

But, there are many instances when James shows his ability to be a kind friend and a great listener. When speaking to James, you feel like no matter what is going on, everything will end up being alright.

When asked what he thought about the school, James responded, “I think The Village School is a great place because it is a more interesting learning community than any other school.” James has expressed his gratitude for the teachers of the school when he said “A lot of the teachers here have a lot of insight on how I may obtain my goals of getting into college and getting a job.” When asked about his favorite class James stated, “I would probably say Business Math because some classes seem to give us information that seems to be irrelevant for the time being as opposed to Business Math, which teaches you actual useful skills in managing your finances and whatnot.”

When asked about his plans after high school he said, “My future plans after leaving the school are to go to college and get a job where I make a comfortable amount of money and see the world.” James also mentioned why he loves making people laugh and smile with his sense of humor.  “I like making people laugh because it’s much better than being bored. I like to notice things that just happen and make jokes of them. When I make a person laugh, I feel like it adds to the atmosphere, rather than everyone just sitting around tired and unamused.”

In expressing these sentiments, it’s clear James loves it when others are happy, which is a generous and wonderful thing. People like James make this school what it is and we are so grateful to have such a kind and interesting student among our Village School Family.