SIFF Returns with More Worldly Flicks

By Noah Foster-Koth

This year’s Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) began on Thursday, May 14th, with a screening of the Melissa McCarthy comedy, Spy. Over the next month, SIFF will host screenings of several foreign and domestic films at various theater venues in Seattle, including the Egyptian Theater and the organization’s own SIFF Film Center. SIFF was founded by Dan Ireland and Darryl MacDonald in 1976. Back then, the festival lasted two weeks and showed less than twenty films. For 2015, SIFF will run for more than three weeks and feature 450 movies. The festival is known for screening small, low budget films, although mainstream movies like The Empire Strikes Back and Braveheart have also premiered at the festival. The following are The Roosevelt News’ picks for the three most promising films to screen during this year’s festival.

 

Ex Machina

Attendees can only speculate on the quality of the other films on this list, which won’t be released until SIFF opens its doors this Thursday. However, Ex Machina has already been released and is recommended for sci-fi buffs, especially fans of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.  The directorial debut of novelist-turned-screenwriter Alex Garland depicts the tense relationship between a computer programmer, an ego-maniacal scientist, and the latter’s humanoid robot creation. The central question of the film is whether or not artificial intelligence could fully replicate the mind of a living creature. Many other films have explored this idea, but Garland’s eerie, clever screenplay injects new life into the familiar premise.

Mr. Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories have been brought to the silver screen dozens of times, most recently with a machine-gun-toting Robert Downey Jr. in the title role. Early trailers for Mr. Holmes suggest that director Bill Condon and star Ian McKellen are taking a very different approach than Richie and Downey did. Unlike BBC’s TV series, Sherlock, which transposes Holmes’ adventures to the modern day, Mr. Holmes depicts a 93-year-old incarnation of the famous detective after his brilliant mind has partially succumbed to dementia. It’s a melancholy premise, but anything starring Ian McKellen is a safe bet.

Shaun the Sheep

Nowadays, most animated films are brought to life with computers, which is why many are excited to see Shaun the Sheep for a cheery change of pace. The latest film from Aardman Animations, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, was crafted using “claymation”, an old-fashioned animation technique similar to stop-motion animation. Early reviews report that Shaun the Sheep doesn’t have any dialogue; the characters only communicate with their facial expressions. Shaun the Sheep isn’t the most daring or complicated film to screen at SIFF, but it might be a nice break from the festival’s darker, R-rated fare.

You can buy tickets for screenings here

Illegal Football Recruiting Practices Bring Blanchet Coach’s Dismissal

By Nate Sanford       

     Aaron Maul, head football coach at Bishop Blanchet High School, was fired two weeks ago due to recruiting violations. The school made the decision to fire him after a month long investigation into allegations of WIAA rule violations. The investigation revealed that Maul had been using scholarships to encourage athletes to play for Blanchet, even if they were unable to pay the private school’s tuition.

That type of recruiting is a direct violation of Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rules, which state, “Students who demonstrate special skills and talent in any of the activities under the jurisdiction of the (WIAA) should not be subjected to pressures to enroll or continue to be enrolled in a member school outside of their normal enrollment area.” After making this discovery, Blanchet self-reported the infraction to the Metro League and made plans to meet later to discuss further actions.

Maul’s firing elicited a primarily negative response from the students and parents at the school, who staged a walkout in protest on May 8th. They felt that Maul was let go unfairly and that there has been a lack of transparency between them and the administration. A petition to reinstate Maul was started on change.org and gathered almost 2,000 signatures. The petition states: “We are concerned about whether Coach Maul may have been fired and personally blamed by the school’s administration for alleged future disbursal of funds by Bishop Blanchet High School.”  Since little information has yet been released about the incident, it is hard to tell how accurate this may be.

Maul had been head coach at Blanchet since 2009. He worked as PE teacher and head football coach. In the weeks following his dismissal there has been an outpouring of support from both current and former students. Raemo Trevino, former member of Blanchet’s football team, tweeted: “Sad that Blanchet did that to Coach Maul. Don’t go there anymore, but all of his work was out of love.” Maul himself tweeted: “Blessed to have coached such amazing young men, and to have worked with such a special coaching staff!!!!….onto better things!!!”

The recent incident at Blanchet is not the only incident of recruiting violations in Seattle high schools; Bellevue High School was also under investigation last year for recruiting charges. Though the investigation found no concrete evidence of violations, investigator Karin Cathey did say that she found many things that “might be easily perceived as recruiting.” Chief Sealth High School was also under investigation for recruiting violations and was stripped of its state title in 2006.

Blanchet currently plans to have Maul continue as a PE teacher next year; the position of head coach will be filled the current freshman coach, Kyle Moore.

See the change.org petition here

Dance Team Champions

By Simone Archer-Krauss

This Friday, March 27th, the Roosevelt High School Dance and Drill Team, the Riderettes, took first in the WIAA 1A/2A/3A state championships for hip-hop. This is the first time in the teams six year competition history that they have taken first at state. Previously, the closest they have come was 7th place. The team can’t be more excited about their win, especially because last year at state they received a disappointing deduction for the content of their music, which dropped them down to 18th place. The team was moved to tears when their win was announced. After putting in hard work with three hour practices four times a week since January, the team was gratefully that it all paid off with a huge win for the Riderettes. If you would like to see their performance there is a video below or you can visit the NFHS website, search for “Washington”, and then pick the “Dance” filter and watch the entire competition with the creation of a free account. The Riderette’s piece starts around 1 hour and 49 minutes in sets 6-9. With their competition season over, the dance team is preparing for their showcase performance on April 24th at 8pm. The showcase is in the Roosevelt theatre. Tickets are $10 for RHS students and staff, $12 for others, and $15 at the door. Come out and support Roosevelt’s newest state champs!

The dances can be viewed here:

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Indiana-Religious Freedom Compromised?

By Clara Raftery

A new piece of legislation signed in Indiana in late March by Republican governor Mike Pence has caused large-scale controversy and opposition in the past few weeks. Called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law states that the government is not allowed to ‘impose’ itself onto an individual’s ability to follow their religious beliefs, and if it does have a reason to do so, it must interfere in the “least restrictive” way possible. This has caused outrage amongst many communities, in Indiana and otherwise, because the law is believed to justify legal discrimination against the LGBT+ community. However, Pence himself has claimed that the law is not a “license to discriminate”, and only serves as protection for citizens under state law. He stated that the RFRA “only provides a mechanism to address claims”, and not a “license for private parties to deny services.”  Some who support the law point out that the law is simply replicating the federal law protecting religious freedom effective in 20 states, but those opposed retaliate saying that the Indiana law extends to cushion private companies, and opens new opportunities for discrimination not only on an individual level, but on a corporate one as well.

Resistance has snowballed in various social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the #BoycottIndiana and similar slogans have been shared by several public figures, such as George Takei, Tim Cook (the CEO of Apple), and Jeremy Stoppelman (the CEO of Yelp). Throughout Indiana there have been marches and rallies against the law, and various municipal groups, companies, and state governments are threatening to cut off any business partnerships with the state. Salesforce, a tech company rooted in San Francisco, has decided to diminish its business investments in Indiana, and is refusing to send employees out to work in the state. The National College Athletic Association expressed unease over the issue, as the men’s basketball Final Four was scheduled to commence in Indianapolis. The organization assured the public that its affiliates would do all they could to assure that athletes and fans would not be affected adversely by the law. The LGBT Sports Coalition, however, did not feel that equality would be guaranteed at any sporting event based in Indiana, especially for LGBT+ individuals planning on participating or attending. The group singled out various events to be relocated, including the NCAA’s Women’s Final Four basketball tournament, scheduled for next year. Similarly, supporters of the LGBT Athletic Association also commented on the legislation, asking for all sporting events occurring in Indiana to be moved to other locations. This issue continues to run at the forefront of equality activism efforts, especially as similar laws are passed in other states. Indiana’s controversy has been echoed in the recent verification of a religious freedom bill in Arkansas, which was passed apprehensively by Republican governor Asa Hutchinson, who feared receiving a response similar to Indiana’s. Indiana’s law, while having been expected by governor Pence to receive little criticism, has garnered mass denunciation that shows no sign of slowing as the country rallies for the advancement of equal rights.

What’s Up With the SBAC?

By Karinna Gerhardt

Next week, 11th graders will kick off a new era of standardized testing at Roosevelt with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, commonly known as the SBAC. Sophomores completed their own week of testing yesterday.

Misinformation has been flying over this controversial new test, along with a severe lack of clarity over the reasoning behind giving the SBAC to junior classes who have already met state graduation requirements with the HSPE in sophomore year. This is the first year that standardized tests will be administered to Roosevelt juniors.

On the official Smarter Balanced website, the SBAC is touted as being able to “accurately describe both student achievement and growth of student learning in English and math.” The test apparently measures success by having students solve “real world problems” on an online interface. The difficulty level shifts according to previous answers – however, it remains unclear how final scores are accurately calculated when every student experiences a different level of difficulty.

The SBAC will replace the HSPE in the years to come; beginning with the class of 2019, the SBAC will be administered only to 11th graders and the HSPE will be phased out.

Both the ELA and Math sections of the test are estimated to take three to four hours to complete – in total, 6-8 hours of testing. According to projections from their field test of 4.2 million, Smarter Balanced expects almost 70% of students who take the SBAC will fail to meet standards. That number rises to 90% for students enrolled in special education programs.

The state is requiring all districts to administer the SBAC to high school juniors; however, juniors are not required to take the test if they have have already met standards with the HSPE. To opt out, fill out the form linked below and turn it in to the counselors office before the end of the day on Friday, 4/3.

Opting out: http://smarterbalanced.www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/gwp/1583136/4928830/File/AssessmentRefusalForm%281%29.pdf?sessionid=3d6c9ddb37619ecdc6ecc975d2750495

Roosevelt’s Now-Defunct Chess Classroom Captured in Documentary

by Noah Foster-Koth

Last November, I wrote an article for the print edition of The Roosevelt News called “Unearthing the treasure chess-t: Roosevelt’s underground chess-playing community revealed.” The article described the chess group that Roosevelt social studies teacher Jibril Rashid hosts in his classroom during second lunch.

Mr. Rashid approved of my article and requested that I expand it into a short documentary about his classroom. Four months later, I finished the documentary, which I titled “Chowing Down with Chess: The Story of Jibril Rashid’s Lunchtime Chess Group.” Several of the students interviewed in the original article also appear in the film, including Zach Rodan, Fredrik Hernqvist, and Joel “Sijay” Musafiri, not to mention Mr. Rashid himself. There are also several new student interviews in “Chowing Down with Chess” that did not appear in the original article.

 

 

“Chowing Down with Chess” is not a product of The Roosevelt News. However, it depicts the culture of a classroom at Roosevelt and thus constitutes news about Roosevelt, hence it’s appearance on this website.

 

 

GED Drama in Washington State

By Malcolm Roux

In 2014, the GED exam, a test which offered an alternative to a high school diploma, was overhauled, and made significantly harder.  In 2013, the last year of the old exam, 86% of testees passed the exam, earning them an equivalent to a high school diploma; comparatively, only 71% passed in 2014.  However, this is not the area the new exam is having the most effect. The gross numbers of people taking the exam drastically dropped from a whopping 18.5 thousand to a dismal 2.8 thousand.

Although most agree that the old GED exam did not mimic the skills learned in today’s high schools, many thought this change came too quickly. The pure numbers show that a much smaller base of people even feel confident enough to take the exam, and those who do take it pass at a lower rate.  Additionally, this disadvantages those who are seeking their GED certificate now as opposed to only two years ago.

Proponents of the new GED see the change as long over due.  “At the core of it we had to ask, ‘Does the GED actually measure what a high school diploma would provide?’” asks Dr. Bob Hughes of Seattle University, interviewed my King 5 News, “I don’t think anybody, with the old GED, would have said that it did that.”  This point often comes up during the discussion of the GED. The old GED was simply not comparable to a high school diploma, and it was affecting certificate holders after their examination.

“It didn’t hold the same way it used to,” explained CT Turner, spokesman for the GED Testing Service as quoted by the Seattle Times.  As those who passed the GED continued to university and other higher education, they were often forced to take remedial corses which do not count toward a degree, courses that the vast majority of high school students have already passed.  Those organizing the GED did not see the logic in making students spend hard earned tuition on courses that should be learned before one receives a high school diploma.

Turner continued to explain that even employers were seeing drastic differences between those who passed the GED exam and those who graduated high school.  Employers were simply losing confidence in the GED exam. Supporters believe that this discreditation of the GED exam was hurting those who took the test more than an easier test was helping them.

The change has also pushed more students towards alternative ways of getting their high school diploma. A program which pushes prospective graduates to take classes and receive credits for skills learned outside of high school, and eventually resulting in a similar certificate to the one offered by the GED.

Roosevelt High School (Seattle, WA)

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