Three years ago, I wrote a version of this column. Because it went viral — often listing me as the high school principal who actually gave this speech! — I am revising it and publishing it here. I believe that if every school principal gave this speech, America would be a better place.
As a Hillel director for the last seven years, I have come to love this time of year. Graduation is the moment to celebrate not just academic learning, but the personal growth and discovery students experience during their university years.
“You are a felon.” Those were the words texted by one high school kid to another after the boy bragged via text about raping an unconscious 16 year old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.
Imagine asking your 16-year-old daughter and day school student, Maya, “What did you learn today?”
Shalhevet high school is close to finalizing a deal to sell more than half of its 2.4 acres to a property developer who plans to build an apartment complex on the lot at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard. The plan will put Shalhevet on firmer financial footing, head of school Ari Segal told the Boiling Point, Shalhevet’s school newspaper. The school currently carries heavy debt and has limited funds for capital improvements and programming, Segal said.
A recent break-fast meal, held in the courtyard of the Westside Jewish Community Center, began with the blowing of a shofar. The sun hadn’t yet set, so the baskets of pita and dried dates placed on every table remained untouched.
On a Thursday this past March, at around 11:40 a.m., the alluring scent of chicken schnitzel – freshly breaded and pan-fried — wafted through the parking lot of New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) in West Hills.
Having recently attended the college graduation of our middle child, I could not stop thinking what I might have said if given the opportunity to offer the commencement address. Here are five thoughts:
This November, approximately 100 high-school students from around the country will participate in the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Grosfeld Family National Youth Leadership Mission, an annual three-day trip to Washington, D.C., for students, with all expenses paid for by the ADL.
The Jewish Journal is seeking nominations for our "Outstanding Seniors" issue. We are looking for high school seniors who have distinguished themselves as role models and leaders, either by taking on causes and following through with action, or by personally overcoming odds and thus inspiring others. These may be students who excel academically, or students who excel in other areas. Strong nominees will have a good story to tell, a narrative that explains who they are and how they came to accomplish so much.
The Beren Academy Orthodox Jewish day school should never have been accepted to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, the association's director told a Texas newspaper.
In a city where some of the very rich are willing to pay $1 billion-plus for the bankrupt Dodgers baseball team, why can’t anyone spare $500,000 to support an Academic Decathlon program that brings luster to the often criticized Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)?
On the morning of Feb. 28, 2012, Alyza Lewin of the law firm Lewin & Lewin invited me to participate in a conference call to discuss a burgeoning controversy involving the basketball team of the Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish School in Houston, Texas.
While Jews all over the world gathered on March 7 to retell the story of Purim, the nine Jews on the Calabasas high school boys basketball team celebrated differently: by playing in their first California Interscholastic Federation State Tournament.
An Orthodox high school in Texas was rejected in its request to have the state basketball semifinals rescheduled to avoid a conflict with the Jewish Sabbath.
A Jewish student at a Maryland high school was asked to prove that he wore a yarmulke for religious reasons.
At one point in “Bring It On: The Musical,” inspired by the rival cheerleading film of the same name, Bridget, the team’s chubby mascot, gets some moxie from a pep talk about a boy she likes.
Each year, we profile a group of “outstanding high school seniors” culled from the many nominations sent in by you, our readers. And each year, we find it almost impossible to decide between the many extraordinary leaders, givers and enormously talented graduating teens.
One of the three Calabasas High School students who confessed to defacing their school with anti-Semitic and racist graffiti last month is Jewish, a detective from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department involved in the investigation told the Jewish Journal on Thursday. “One of them has a mother who fled Iran because she is Jewish,” Detective J. T. Manwell of the Lost Hills/Malibu station said. “So it’s kind of complicated.”
On Wednesday, April 27, just hours after three Calabasas High School students had been arrested in connection with the anti-Semitic and racist graffiti scrawled on their school’s campus late on Friday night, life at this well-groomed, suburban public school seemed to be back to almost normal.
A Baltimore Jewish day school will close its high school division at the end of the school year due to financial problems. Yeshivat Rambam, which opened 10 years ago, announced Sunday that it would close its high schools for boys and girls while working to strengthen the enrollment and retention of its middle and elementary schools, as well as its kindergarten and early childhood programs, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported. Sixty-three students are enrolled in the boys' high school and 33 in the girls' school. The total enrollment at Yeshivat Rambam is 350.
A high school where a group of students played a highway chase game called "Beat the Jew" will study a new tolerance curriculum.
There is a new tension between my inherent self, and my impacted self. I am referring to what is simply known as the college process.
Laptop use involves a lot of controversy, from students who believe they should be used to their maximum potential to those who don't want to see laptops at all.
Being a parent is a heroic act. Being a parent of a teenager sometimes makes us feel less than heroic. Indeed, we, as parents, often become an embarrassment. Congratulations to those of us parents who "embarrass" our kids in a manner that shows how much we love them.
In the early 1980s, when Dina and her husband Michael were applying to Los Angeles Jewish high schools, there was only one choice -- YULA (then known as Yeshiva University of Los Angeles). The Los Angeles Jewish community has expanded and matured since then, and its high school scene now offers nuanced choices with differences in overall philosophy, academic approach, religious level and social atmosphere.Because of that range, a steadily growing number of families with teens are opting for Jewish immersion.
Milken Community High School students joined the space race this week when two seniors won the first-ever X PRIZE competition for high schoolers. On Sunday, Michael Hakimi and Talia Nour-Omid took home the first Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award for their concept of developing bio-monitoring sunglasses to keep space travelers healthy during civilian spaceflight.
The annual California high school debate tournament traditionally attracts more than 800 contestants to its weekend-long event, many of them Jewish and all of them students who have worked long and hard to prepare for the intense competition.
Educators these days are taking a new look at homework, attempting to measure its value and to re-examine the underlying assumptions about how kids learn, the pace of their development, family life and the role of work in our lives. Despite the complexity of the issue and a lack of consensus about the research, the battle lines in the debate have been redrawn.
Jimmy Rotstein and Brian Rubinstein had never played in a college football game, but the 72nd annual Vitalis Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 proved to be a tale of two walk-ons for these UCLA Bruins. The second-string players not only came off the bench, they collaborated on an extra point play. UCLA beat Northwestern and, in their own way, these two athletes made a larger point about hard work and good sportsmanship.
Racially motivated brawls at Jefferson High School this spring made the school appear, at times, like a miniwar zone. Which makes it especially interesting that L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) officials are learning lessons from Israeli and West Bank schools, where violence, even terrorism, is an ever-present undercurrent.
The person bringing those lessons to Los Angeles is USC professor Ron Avi Astor, who has spent his career studying school violence in Israel and the United States. His newest book, co-written with Israeli professor Rami Benbenishty of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, is titled, "School Violence in Contest: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender." The two scholars conducted studies encompassing 30,000 Israeli students at a time.
Attention young Orthodox high school graduates: Planning to attend college this year on the East Coast? Why not do something really radical: Stay in Los Angeles?
My school has trained us for the academic rigors of a university. However, it has failed in preparing us for the necessities of the real world, or what my grandmother calls the "nuts and bolts of life." We aren't alone. Today, this lack of practical skills among high school seniors is an epidemic. Web sites across the Internet list instructions for college students on everything from how to use a dishwasher to balancing a checkbook.
For one brief, shining moment this week, the Los Angeles Times achieved the impossible: it united the Jews. All across the region, we went out to get our Sunday paper, saw an 8,000-word, front-page, above-the-fold story on a minor brouhaha at a small Orthodox high school, and said, as if in unison, "Huh?"
"The U.S. had all the right reasons for going to war with Iraq without the support of United Nations," said Jordana Friedman, an eighth-grader at Kadima Hebrew Academy in Woodland Hills. "[Their leaders] lied. They said they were disarmed. Do we want another Sept. 11? I think we're totally justified."
"Why go to war?" Dr. Aryeh Cohen, chair of rabbinic studies at the University of Judaism, asks a group of teenagers at Milken Community High School.
Somewhere in America, a few high school students made a porno video, "by accident" they said, starring themselves. Whatever it was, a couple of kids were fooling around, and someone else had a camera. They showed the tape in the locker room and what followed was, of course, a big scandal. Somewhere else in America, there was an eighth-grade party, mom or dad took pictures, and when the photos came back from the lab, you could see two partygoers having oral sex near the shrubbery in the background of one of the shots. What upset the parents most was that the students weren't even trying to hide.
Four Caucasian men, appearing to be neo-Nazi skinheads, attacked three Jewish high school boys last Shabbat shortly after midnight in Beverlywood.
The three observant students, in their midteens and wearing kippot, were walking through the quiet neighborhood on April 6, when a dark-colored car containing four men pulled up, according to a police report. Two of the men emerged from the car shouting slurs such as "Heil Hitler" and attacked the Jewish teens.
One of the Jewish boys escaped, while the other two, both 17, were beaten, despite their efforts to fend off their assailants, according to one of the victims. The Jewish boys were punched and kicked. One of the boys was held down, and the assailants shouted slurs, calling the boy "a dirty kike." No weapons were involved in the incident. At the parents' request, the names of the Jewish teens have been withheld.
At his aufruf, Shana Kramer's oldest son stood up in front of all his rebbes at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore and said, "It would be impossible for me to thank everyone that I have to thank for bringing me to this point, but there is someone I have to thank publicly because she stood there and cried every time I left the house to go back to yeshiva."