Bay alumnus takes tennis talents to Vanderbilt



Ryan Smith, a 2013 Bay alumnus, took his tennis talents to Vanderbilt University. Now a sophomore, he is one of 11 tennis players on the university’s Commodore men’s tennis team and practices three hours a day, six days a week.

As a freshman at Vanderbilt, Smith won the first round of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. He won 8-4 at No. 2 doubles. This year Vanderbilt’s men’s tennis team is ranked No. 20 in the country.

His high school tennis coach Vincent Grossi said he is a driven athlete.

“A lot of players at that level are so motivated and driven themselves that they don’t need to be pushed. It’s an internal mechanism that they have that tells them to go and push themselves harder than everyone else, and that is the work they put in,” Mr. Grossi said.

During his time on the Bay’s tennis team, Smith led them to two state championships and was named Florida Tennis Player of the Year as a junior in high school.

“He was also very special mentally because mentality is harder in tennis than just the game itself,” Mr. Grossi said. “If you’re not able to think and analyze situations on the court as they transpire, then it becomes very difficult to overcome adversity. So when things would turn real quick in a match, he was always able to overcome that and think faster and react to it.”

Tennis has been a part of Smith’s life since he was 10 years old, starting out as a hobby and developing into a competitive sport when he was 13. Although he plans to stop playing tennis competitively when he finishes college, he said that it was a large part of his life growing up.

“I play mainly because I love competing and beating the guy on the other side,” Smith said.

His brother Zach Smith, 18 said that seeing Ryan at Vanderbilt shows how much his hard work has paid off.unnamed-1

“I am definitely proud of Ryan. As a younger brother, I look up to him and he has continued to work hard in order to get where he is now,” Zach said.

Ryan said the sense of unity of the Cypress team helped prepare him for his time at Vanderbilt.

“The difference between the two schools is that I was the leader as a freshman at Cypress from day one, and here at Vanderbilt I am the young guy trying to prove myself,” he said.

He said that his normal day usually consists of a morning class from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Then he has practice from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., depending on how much work he has.

“I feel like my schedule is perfect. Regular students have so much more free time in college,” he said.

Although being a college athlete is time consuming, Ryan said there are also perks like free equipment, gear, clothes, food and books that are part of an athletic scholarship.

“Being a student athlete just looks good on a resume and you get to travel across the country,” he said. Some of the places his been are Georgia, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Alabama.

Outside of school, he has played for United States Tennis Association (USTA) Florida and in International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments since he was 11 years old. He also worked with coaches Dean Goldfine and Jesse Smart outside of school in Hollywood, Fla.

“I chose Vandy because I feel like I have the best of all worlds,” Ryan said, “great school, great athletics, great city, and a fun school.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Friendships continue to last throughout childhood years


Since they were 5, freshman John Trucks and Luke Rubin have been best friends. They met in preschool, at Temple Dor Dorim, and the friendship progressed from there.

Friendships can originate in any kind of way, but the bond between people who have been friends since they were little is inevitable.

Growing up, Trucks and Rubin learned they both shared a love for the University of Marshall and playing basketball. Both also discovered their hatred for the University of Florida.

“Our parents are friends, so when preschool came around, we were put in the same class and instantly started talking,” Trucks said. “Throughout the years we’ve continued our friendship because we always go to the same school and temple.”

Now at 15 a memory that Trucks and Rubin will both always remember is when they were given the opportunity to compete in the Maccabi games, which are an Olympic-style sporting competition held in New Jersey.

“When we were given the choice to choose what we wanted to participate in during the games, we automatically both chose basketball,” Trucks said. “Even though we didn’t win, it was really cool that we got to travel together and experience the sports program.”

Rubin said that being a freshman, there is a lot ahead of them in life, but he sees his friendship with Trucks lasting for a while.

“If everything goes as we plan, hopefully we both will get into our dream college, University of Michigan,” Rubin said. “Being that we started preschool together, it would be cool to say that we’ve always been in the same school together.”

Juniors Shani Brown and Gabriella Carraha first met each other in fourth grade through their parents who introduced one another during a girls scout meeting both girls attended. At first, Brown and Carraha didn’t like one another. It wasn’t until they reconnected in sixth grade Reading class and slowly became best friends.

“When our parents found out we had reading together in sixth grade, they basically forced us to talk,” Brown said. “Slowly we became closer and closer and from there we became best friends and haven’t left each others side since.”

Brown and Carraha both play volleyball, and therefore travel together to different places to compete.

“We’ve gone to Orlando multiple times for club volleyball competitions and also Gainesville, but our favorite competition was in Boston,” Brown said. “In Boston it was really cool to experience playing in the snow together.”

Brown and Carraha’s families have become very close throughout the years and now look at each other as family.

“I look at Shani’s mom as my second mom because I know I can call her whenever I need something, and vise versa for my mom with Shani,” Carraha said.

“Being friends for so long, I look at Shani more as a sister than a best friend.”

Seniors Eric Menin and Gaby Schwein have been friends for seven years, starting in sixth grade, when they dated. Although the relationship didn’t work out between them, they continued their friendship.

“We dated in sixth grade for a week and it was great, but we decided our relationship was better off just being friends,” Schwein said. “It’s funny looking back on it now because we are really close.”

Menin said he can always count on Schwein for anything, because he knows she’ll always be there for him.

“She is really caring and I know I can call her whenever I need something or help,” Menin said. “Even though we will be separating after high school, we will definitely get together when we are both in town.”

Juniors Courtney Carlton and Danielle Nicolay met in fifth grade when assigned a project to work on together. Having to work on the project outside of school forced them to get together, which helped them realize how alike they are.

“I always thought Courtney was a nice girl, but after spending a lot of time working on our project, I realized how cool she was to be around,” Nicolay said. “Based on our conversations, we quickly found out we both loved going to the beach, shopping, and of course, pizza.”

Carlton and Nicolay have made many traditions throughout their years being best friends.

“When we were younger we loved being in the pool together, and now that we’ve gotten older we only progressed by going to the beach together at least once a month,” Carlton said. “Some of our best memories are so simple, such as eating ice cream after the beach, but yet hold so much value in our friendship.”

A new tradition that Carlton and Nicolay recently made was when Nicolay visited Carlton in Rhode Island, which is her hometown, this past summer.

“Rhode Island is a trip I will always remember because some of the best memories I’ve ever made were there, such as going strawberry picking,” Nicolay said. “I was so happy to be able to experience where my best friend was from. Also getting to meet her entire extended family truly made me feel apart of the family.”

Freshman Manuela Gonzalez and Michelle Brito met in fourth grade when Gonzalez approached Brito, who sat at the same table as she did, and said hi.

“We bonded over a crush we both shared. I thought he was really cute and Michelle was his friend, so we both acted flirty bothering him and eventually became really close friends,” Gonzalez said.

After elementary school, Gonzalez and Brito drifted in middle school, only waving to each other in the hallways.

“Even though we weren’t really close in middle school, the first day of school freshman year we saw each other during lunch and waved,” Brito said. “Both of us were with other friends and knew we would all get along. Since then we’ve all sat together and continued to grow as best friends.”

Carlton and Nicolay value their friendship a lot and see a future continuing being best friends.

“No matter where we go to college or where we live after, I always see myself calling Danielle my true best friend,” Carlton said. “I hope we can continuing making great memories together, as well as experiencing major events in our life along side each other.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Storify: NCAA National Championship was a ball for students

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Storify: Students dance for those who can’t at first annual Dance Marathon

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Storify: Ultra fun at Ultra Music Festival

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Seen On Campus: Chokers


The Circuit takes a closer look at a trend seen on campus through still photography and video footage.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Horror movies enjoyed year-round by teachers, students


When spring break starts, sophomore James DuPre plans on having fun and relaxing while enjoying a spooky evening by watching his favorite horror movies.

“I’m actually thinking that doing a movie marathon with some friends would be pretty fun,” DuPre said. “Watching old horror movies is always the best though, because those are actually filled with lots of suspense and can really scare you sometimes.”

DuPre is not the only who finds watching horror movies fun; other students share his opinion and find other ways to enjoy the horror genre, even when Halloween is nowhere in sight.

“The reason I like watching horror movies is that I think that it’s kind of interesting to be able to see things that can’t be explained but still happen anyway,” said sophomore Ashley Ryskind. “I like to pay attention to the small details, so that I know what’s really going on.”

A few popular scary movies that are considered great classics from horror fans include The Shining (1980), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Carrie (1974), and most recently the Conjuring (2013).

“’The Conjuring’ was pretty cool,” sophomore Amanda Nilsson said. “The plot was great, with a lot of suspense, and the special effects definitely spooked me out a lot in many scenes.”

Sophomore Christina Oliveira said she prefers to read horror through Internet sites narrating haunting folktales, disturbing memoirs, and eerie short stories to a the teenage population.

“It’s much worse when you’re reading horror,” Oliveira said. “It’s hard to explain – like riding a roller coaster because you feel excited and you don’t want stop because you want to know what is going to happen next. Reading it at night is fun, but it’s 10 times as scary!”

AP Psychology teacher Cecilia Fonseca said that there is a scientific explanation as to why people may feel compelled to frighten themselves further and expose themselves to fictional situations that are more capable of scaring them.

“Biologically, we are ‘programmed’ to fear certain things which our ancestors may have considered dangerous,” Mrs. Fonseca said. “Somehow, that made it into our DNA and helped us survive.”

Pre-Calculus Honors teacher Mrs. Amy Bass is an example of how although there are adults who enjoy their favorite shows or movies in the horror genre, they may also take the added precautions to tone down the big fear factors included in their entertainment.

“My favorite shows are ‘The Following,’ ‘American Horror Story,’ and ‘Penny Dreadful’,” she said. “But, I think [TV] has gone a bit too overboard. Sometimes I need fast forward some parts, because it gets too scary for me.”

Mrs. Fonseca said teens may like horror because they feel a natural urge to be daredevils.

“I think this has more to do with age than anything else,” Mrs. Fonseca said. “When I was younger, I used to love thrills, whether they were roller coasters, driving over the speed limit, or watching horror movies. I like my life much slower paced now, probably because I am more aware of my own mortality.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Grade inflation elicits varied conversation

Grade inflation Emma GBY EMMA GOETZINGER

Carolene Kurien, a junior at the Bay, is a student who has spoken out against the topic of grade inflation.

“The problem of grade inflation at Cypress has definitely gotten way out of hand. If something isn’t done soon to control it, I think it’s going to start having an even more negative effect on the fairness of the learning environment,” Kurien said.

Grade inflation is the tendency to award or receive higher grades for academic work that would’ve normally deserved a lower grade. It exists in many forms, ranging from taking extra classes to have more weight factored into a person’s GPA to simply asking a teacher to bump up a grade.

Professor Diane R. Deane of Illinois State University and co-author of “Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student” said that grade inflation exists. Administrators are also aware that they’re doing little to stop it. In fact, until recently, it was believed that nothing needed to be done to stop it, said Ms. Deane in an email interview with The Circuit.

“For many years, although the situation seemed outrageous, it was not regarded as something that was important,” Ms. Deane said. “Grade inflation was something everyone knew about, but nothing that anyone wanted to do anything about.”

Ms. Deane said despite the awareness of this subject, some of the country’s universities have chosen to ignore it, but since grade inflation is becoming more apparent, disregarding it is something that can’t necessarily be done. Ms. Deane said that even at Illinois State University, the school where she is employed, hasn’t done as much as it could to stop this problem from escalating.

“Schools and employers have always been well aware of what was going on behind the scenes, but now, grade inflation has become a serious problem for current undergraduates,” Ms. Deane said. “For example, even though I’m well aware that grade inflation exists, as well as my colleagues, no serious efforts have been made to reverse this trend. I have talked to friends who work out numerous other schools, and it’s obvious the grade inflation is starting to become a very common trend.”

Allen Groves, dean of students from the University of Virginia, said current undergraduates are significantly more sheltered and spoiled than previous students. He attributes this directly to the amount of grade inflation that occurs within the school system.

“This is a generation that has never been allowed to fall on their knees. They’ve grown up with an inflated and skewed sense of accomplishment, which tends to grow very strong during high school, and they carry it with them all throughout college,” Dr. Groves said in an email interview.

What parents, students and even teachers who have experienced and seen the effects of grade inflation find concerning is that it starts at young ages like 5, but then bursts at the high school level, often during junior year. Eric Adzima, a social studies teacher at the Bay, is very familiar with the grade inflation.

“I have a 5 year old daughter, and I’ve already seen the behavior that leads students to feel entitled to higher grades,” Mr. Adzima said. “Children are always awarded trophies for every game, whether they win or lose. My older students’ parents are always there to fix any issue that they may have, and students of all ages are always told good job. This is the root of the problem.”

Grade inflation and the manipulation of GPAs make it harder for students to compete with their peers who use grade inflation to their advantage.

“When people think of grade inflation, many just picture a student going into a teacher’s classroom and arguing for a higher grade,” Kurien said. “Grade inflation doesn’t have to be that direct. I think that the amount of BC [Broward College] classes that students take is probably the most uncontrolled form of grade inflation here.”

Kurien is not only concerned about the fact that students have the ability to take classes outside of school, which can inflate their GPA, but she also questions why there are no limits as to just how many classes students are able to take.

“There are absolutely no regulations placed on the amount of extra classes students can take,” Kurien said. “It makes all the classes that I’m taking at school feel a lot less valid, and it skews my ranking just because I’ve been taking all my classes at school.”

Junior Cecilia Padron has also seen the effects of grade inflation. Not only are students allowed to take extra classes, which can inflate their grades and GPAs, but they are also able to take extra online classes in order to finish more credits to take more challenging classes that weren’t intended for their grade levels.

“As a student who hasn’t taken a BC or online class, I see a huge problem with doing so,” Padron said. “No matter how hard I work taking my difficult classes at school like students are intended to do, it’s really hard for me to compete with some students who are taking extra classes just to factor them into their regular GPAs.”

Students who do it may believe that this inflation is beneficial, but in the long run, it may not be. BC classes can tend to be less rigorous than those offered at the Bay.

“Students come into rigorous classes [at Cypress BayGrade inflation Emma G] automatically expecting to get A’s by taking the easy way out…They often think they can just ask teachers to bump up their grades, sometimes by quite a bit,” Mr. Adzima said. “I know many of my students take extra BC classes, and it definitely affects their attitudes and performance in class. I’ve also heard that they’re much easier, and if that’s actually the case, then it definitely makes matters unfair.”

Parents are just as concerned as students when it comes to the topic of grade inflation. Elizabeth Kurien, mother of Carolene, doesn’t want students entering college or the workplace with the false feeling that they will be able to face challenges with more ease than others just because of elevated grades on their report cards.

“Anyone can take and succeed at any easy extra class and boost their GPA, and people who may not be as bright or try as hard as those taking rigorous classes at school can end up having higher GPAs, providing them with a false sense of accomplishment,” Mrs. Kurien said. “Although I do believe this is the case, I can also understand why students do take extra classes to inflate their GPAs. But I still don’t agree with it.”

Some still stand behind their decision to take extra classes and believe that they’re more than just means by which to inflate their GPAs.

“I think it’s a misconception that people only take extra classes to inflate their GPAs. Although this is what some students do, I know from my own experience that this isn’t always the case,” sophomore Aaron Carrio said. “Some students take extra classes for help with what they’re doing at school, or if a class is not offered at Cypress, BC is the second best option. I think it’s wrong that people automatically assume that BC classes, or any extra classes, are just for the purpose of grade inflation.”

More recently, ways have been discovered for parents, students, and teachers within the high school system to detect grade inflation. Alfie Koh, a sociologist and author, has written 14 books, including “No Contest: The Case Against Competition” breaking down just what these ways are. He said with students who take AP classes, it is much easier to tell who has taken advantage of grade inflation in the past.

“Parents can compare the report card grade to the AP test score and understand that inflation has probably occurred if the grade is significantly higher than the test score,” Mr. Kohn said during a phone interview. “Numerous studies have been conducted that show that a 4 or a 5 on an AP exam is closely equivalent to a high school A, a score of 3 is similar to a B and a 2 is comparable to a C. Besides this, there still really isn’t a definitive way to detect grade inflation, and until students and teachers discover one, the issue of grade inflation will remain the same.”

Mr. Kohn said despite this method, it is still not possible to always know when grade inflation is present. He said thatthis would involve students confessing to what they’ve done and how they’re manipulating their GPAs, which isn’t always easy to get students to do.

“Although this isn’t always the case and may not always be effective, this is one way that I’ve seen students and parents busting grade inflation because when asked, many people simply just don’t tell the truth about it,” Mr. Kohn said.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Club of the Month: Best Buddies

IMG_1374Club of the Month is a recurring segment that highlights one of the 89 clubs at the Bay. This month, staff writer Jessica Russo interviewed senior and president of Best Buddies, Erica Strum.

What is the purpose of the club?

This club’s purpose is to create one-to-one lifelong friendships with students with disabilities and students without them. Best Buddies strives to make everyone feel comfortable and make strong relationships with any student.

What are events are coming up?

Some of our upcoming events include an Art Honor Society Event where we do arts and crafts with all the buddies, an Uncle Louie G’s fundraiser, a Friendship Ball, which is a big dance that the club members and the buddies attend to have a fun night that everyone can enjoy, and the annual Friendship Walk where we all walk together as group to promote our club.

What sets you apart from other clubs?

I think Best Buddies is special because it is interactive and directly changes the lives and families of children with disabilities. I feel like it is one of the most important clubs at the Bay because we really care for our buddies and treat them as real friends.

What are your goals for this year?

Our goals for this year are to keep members involved, create even more friendships than we already have, and raise at least $4,000 at the fundraiser walk.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Excuses range in credibility, creativity


Sophomore Olivia Giknavorian walks into her math class two minutes before the bell just to realize she does not have her homework. Instead of trying to finish it quickly, she asks her peers for an excuse as to why she doesn’t have it.

“I believe that if you’re going to make up an excuse, it should be realistic,” Giknavorian said.

Teachers have different rules regarding homework assignments. World History teacher Michelle Tobon doesn’t allow late work.

“I don’t allow late work because I want students to be responsible and develop a good work ethic,” Ms. Tobon said.

Biology teacher Jamie Dillon said that a student once used the excuse: “My homework got wet and destroyed from the rain.” She reasoned with the student and agreed on giving him an extra day.

“Some students tell me they did the wrong assignment. How can they do homework on something I haven’t even taught?” Ms. Dillon said.

Senior Lexi Goldstein said she is able to come up with very random excuses on the spot.

“I forgot to do my assignment, so I told my teacher that I left my backpack in Israel,” Goldstein said.

Geometry teacher Richard Kline said his students have tried to make up unrealistic excuses in the past.

“A student told me he got into a battle with aliens the night before, and the only way to save himself was to give the aliens his homework,” Mr.Kline said. “I thought this was so creative and funny.”

Economics teacher Patrick McNamara has heard many unbelievable excuses.

“If a student is going to make up an excuse, they should at least come up with a believable one,” he said.

English teacher Amy Lupu said that she always hears the same old excuses.

“Students are always telling me their dog ate the homework.” Mrs. Lupu said. “One girl brought in her work with teeth marks on it!”

Print Friendly

Read the full story