Home » 7th Season: 2019-2020 » 2019-2020 v.06

Category Archives: 2019-2020 v.06

Examining Classism on College Campuses through a Critical Social Justice Lens

By Lina Zhang, V Form

Examining Classism on College Campuses through a Critical Social Justice Lens

This September, New Mexico planned to pass a law that would offer free tuition for its public four-year colleges for all residents of the state. While legislation like this and policies such as affirmative action are increasing education accessibility, the article in The Atlantic questions whether institutions are truly addressing the lives of low-income students after they enter competitive colleges. Through exploring several aspects of campus life, the article exposes the institutional inequalities that low-income students face on campus because of their class status and positionality. When elite colleges fail to provide for the dignified wellbeing of low-income students, they reinforce classism, a complicated and historical system of oppression that manifests itself as internalized sentiments of dominance and oppression and intersects with multiple aspects of racism, doubly disadvantaging low-income students of color.

         To begin understanding classism, we must first view classism not only in terms of individuals and anecdotal evidence but through overarching patterns throughout society. In its explanation of oppression, the textbook Is Everyone Really Equal highlights the “pervasive, historical, and political relationships of unequal power among social groups” (Sensoy and DiAngelo 65) that cause the “-isms.” In a capitalistic society like the United States, wealth has always been the clearest determinant of power. As politicians, legislators, CEOs, and—in this case—board members of colleges usually come from the upper class, this contributes to an inclination towards the benefit of the upper class and the institutional oppression of members of the working and lower classes. This perpetuates a social stratification or social hierarchy, wherein different amounts of resources are allocated to different social groups based on a good/bad binary constructed by the dominant group, or the upper class. The article examines several correlations between income and admittance and found that students from the top 1% were 77 times more likely to be admitted to an Ivy League compared to students from low-income families. It also found that, despite policies such as affirmative action, low-income students still overwhelmingly choose to pursue their education at less-selective institutions and colleges even though these institutions offer lower-quality education. As these students will then not be able to progress to a higher social class, the cyclical system contributes to the solidification of social hierarchies and the system of classism.


Understanding and Building a Tesla Coil: A Matthews Fund Grant

By Domenic (Dom) Mongillo and Aditya Mynampaty, VI Form

Understanding and Building a Tesla Coil: A Matthews Fund Grant

The Matthews Fund provides grants to students of any form who are good citizens and solid students.  Awards are based on merit and need as determined by a faculty committee. Grants are made for special needs such as tutoring assistance, special instruction, seminars, academic experiences of a national or international nature, and personal growth and advancement opportunities.  

Last year, we applied for and were fortunate to receive the Matthews Grant. Our hope was to use the resources given to us from the fund to further our understanding of electronics by building Tesla coils. We expanded upon this idea by using our Fifth Form Lion Term as an opportunity to build these coils while studying the complicated electronics inside of them with the help of resources from the school. We then continued to work on the coils throughout the summer and into this academic year. From this experience, we have learned an incredible amount about electronics and about the work and determination that goes into a complicated engineering feat.

In addition to funds for purchasing Tesla coil kits, spare parts, and equipment needed to construct the coils, our grant also enabled us to take a trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. The museum featured an exhibit called Lightning! that included a variety of machines that demonstrated electronic principles like the world’s largest Van de Graaff Generator, plasma balls, and, of course, several very large Tesla coils. We visited this exhibit and studied the coils, and we were able to go onstage after the presentation to talk with one of the people who worked to build the coils used in the demonstrations.


101 Reasons Why Any Literary Enthusiast Should Travel To Ireland AND Why Any St. Marker Should Apply For Grants

By Yevheniia Dubrova, VI Form

101 Reasons Why Any Literary Enthusiast Should Travel To Ireland AND Why Any St. Marker Should Apply For Grants

Editor’s Note on the A.A. Jones Grant: The Anthony A. Jones family wishes to inspire international educational initiatives among current St. Mark’s students by financing all or part of their travel and room and board for activities which are deemed by St. Mark’s School to be educationally stimulating.

“Believe it or not, my grandpa was Yeats’s pal. He was a poet himself, a good man he was.  He told me all about the fairies.”

“What fairies?”

It’s night here in Dublin, and I am discussing fairies and drinking tea in the kitchen of a man whom I met four hours ago. His name is Vinny, he speaks in a heavy Irish accent, holds degrees in creative writing and philosophy, works as a tourist guide, loves hosting strangers (however creepy that may sound), and his grandpa, apparently, was one of Yeats’s childhood buddies. I am trying to process the fact that he talks about the Yeats, whom I love as much as any sane person could love a poet, staring at the wall decorated with some posters in Irish Gaelic and caricatures of James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, and Oscar Wilde. I ask Vinny what’s written on the posters, to which he responds by handing me a Gaelic-English dictionary. I spend twenty minutes flipping through the pages, just to discover that most of what’s written there are Irish curse words. 

I have just spent two weeks traveling through the county and visiting places where Irish writers and poets lived and worked, which, it seems to me, is basically any place in Ireland. To quote Vinny, “there are more poets in Ireland then stars in the night sky.” Sounds poetic to me.


Stories That Need to Be Told: Reflections on an “Educated” Conference

By Kendall Sommers, IV Form

Stories That Need to Be Told: Reflections on an “Educated” Conference

I recently attended the Women’s Breakfast to benefit Horizons for Homeless Children. Every year that I have had the privilege of attending, I feel empowered by the time I depart. Although each keynote speaker has been different, including authors, poets, and business owners, there is one constant in their speeches: the corrupt financial systems and the corruption in the way that we think. The breakfast opens with a typical video showing the adorable kids who benefit from the organization’s play spaces for families who are struggling with homelessness. Following the video is one of my favorite parts of the day: the speeches. There are typically two speakers who have been in the Horizon’s program and have benefited from their support. This year, a woman named Latica spoke. She is a victim of domestic violence and subsequent homelessness while being a single mother of three children. Her experience is one that would impact with anyone, making every person in the room tear up and feel for her. But she did not want us to simply feel for her and her past experiences, but rather to take pride in supporting a program like Horizons which has helped her support her two twin toddlers and has counseled her in finding a job. The other speaker shared how Horizon’s employed her, leading to her role as a family counselor. These personal stories set the stage for the main speaker for this year, Tara Westover. 

Westover is the author of the best selling memoir, “Educated.” She grew up in Idaho in a Mormon survivalist family. Her parents took on typical patriarchal family roles and raised her and her siblings in a similar way. Growing up, Tara was not allowed to attend school and was abused by her brother. She taught herself enough science, math, and English that she was able to take the SAT and attend Brigham Young University. But, in her interview style speech, Westover neither shared her background story nor described in detail how she got to school or what it was like attending a college after no formal schooling. Instead, she focused on why stories like hers are told. 


Alzheimers: The Nature vs. Nurture Debate

By Samantha (Sam) Leslie and Isabelle (Izzy) O’Toole, VI Form

Alzheimers: The Nature vs. Nurture Debate

Editor’s Note: This study was made possible by the Class of 1986 V Form Fellowship. At their 25th reunion, the Class of 1968 created a fund to provide grants to V Form students for independent study during the school year or, more commonly, during the summer between V and VI Forms. Their intent in establishing this fund was to reward independent thinking, ingenuity, and planning and to encourage the student exploring non-traditional fields of inquiry or using non-traditional methods of investigation.

Through talking with various doctors, caretakers, and volunteers, we learned the different ways that a person can delay or progress Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  One of the first people we talked to was a man who had years of volunteer and caretaker experience, and his biggest takeaway was that each case is different, so it is hard to tell what will work with each patient.  We heard similar answers as we talked with various doctors and caretakers, but some of the more common ways to delay Alzheimer’s include diet, exercise, and pharmaceuticals. There are also many ways in which a person can progress Alzheimer’s such as drugs and alcohol, sleep patterns, and diet (Rowlett).  Regardless of these lifestyle choices, some people will still get Alzheimer’s at an early age or old age, and it will progress faster in certain patients. Having a good caretaker and staying social is a big key to staying happy and connected after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis (Lynch).


The Sun Shines on the Mood: Mood in “All Summer in a Day”

By Joel Lawore, III Form

The Sun Shines on the Mood: Mood in Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day”

Instructor’s Note: Students were tasked with writing a concise, clear, analytical paragraph on a topic of their choosing in response to Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day.”

In “The Lottery,” by Ray Bradbury, the sun coming out for the first time shifts the mood from gloomy to joyful through the use of buoyant words and the reaction of the children. Bradbury carefully chooses certain words and phrases with bright connotations to shift the mood. An example of this occurs when he writes that the children were “feeling the sun on their cheeks like a warm iron” (Bradbury 3). Here, Bradbury uses jovial words such as “warm” to describe the sun. Bradbury’s diction creates a positive mood, shifting the overall atmosphere from dismal to radiant. In addition, Bradbury goes into detail when describing the children’s reaction to the sun to emphasize the joyful mood. For example, when the sun comes out, the children “ran for an hour and did not stop running” (Bradbury 4). They did not stop running because they were ecstatic that the sun had come out. The bright words that the author uses to describe the positive reaction of the children help to shift the mood from morose to merry. Ultimately, Bradbury’s word choice to describe the sun as well as the description of the children’s reaction to the sun shift the mood.