NEWS: Civil Rights Torchbearer Minnijean Brown Visits USN

by Halle Greenbaum ’21

Published on May 16, 2019

Minnijean Brown was one of the nine African American high school students chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. University School has the pleasure of hosting Minnijean Brown each year, and the fifth graders have the pleasure to meet with her after they finish the book Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals.

Warriors Don’t Cry is a reflection of Melba Pattillo Beals’ time at Central High School as one of the nine African Americans in this otherwise white high school As a part of the fifth grade curriculum, they combine English and Social Studies to fully immerse themselves in learning about the Civil Rights Movement. During this time, they read Warriors Don’t Cry and while learning about the sit ins, bus boycotts, and school integrations in Social Studies.

Minnijean Brown’s yearly visits provide a unique experience for students to even better understand her experiences due to the lack of formality of her lecture style. Her lively personality provides a comfort to students, which allows them to ask their questions without hesitation and nerves.  

This year, Minnijean Brown visited on Apr. 25. She met with the fifth graders in the morning, and she also held a lunch and learn where high school students had the opportunity to either hear her speak again or for the first time.

John Kleiner, one of the fifth grade English teachers, hears Brown speak every year, and each time she has a different effect on him. He believes it is important for his students to meet with her as a conclusion of their Civil Rights unit.

 “She makes them feel good about themselves. She validates them as intelligent, informed human beings who have the power to make a difference in the world. Talking to her gives a face to the civil rights movement and to the struggle at Central High. She makes the events that they read about in Warriors Don’t Cry real – not just words on a page,” he said. “They hear her perspective on the events that took place at Central High during the 1957 integration Even though she, Melba, and the others were all part of that experience, they each saw it from a different perspective.”

Minnijean Brown shows the fifth graders the effect they can have on the world. She teaches them from her personal experience. Kleiner says this is the largest lesson she can teach them.

“It’s often children, the young people, who have the greatest impact. They are not powerless. They can stand up for others by being an ally, not a silent witness. They can stand up for what’s right and  advocate for justice by writing to politicians or being vocal in other ways. It’s all about supporting the victim, not giving attention to the bully,” Kleiner said.

After she spoke, the fifth graders were asked, “What does Minnijean Brown teach you?” There answers vary between brief one word answers to more complex sentences; however, that is the goal. She is able to teach each person something different.

Claire Ward, one of the fifth graders, said Minnijean Brown impacted her by teaching her the lesson that a person does not only better themselves, they fight to better everyone.

“That she just didn’t do it for herself, she did it for everyone else that would benefit from it,” she said.  

While Ward was able to take away the value of selflessness, some of her peers believe the biggest impact Minnijean has on them is to never give up, to forgive, to keep fighting, and to not let fear stand in your way.

This is what makes Minnijean Brown so powerful; her impact is unique to each fifth grader who listens to her. These lessons do not only relate to the Civil Rights Movement either. Brown shows them what it means to be passionate about something and what they should do to channel that passion.

Opinion: Why Social Commentary Classes Should be Required

by Sydney Stevenson ’19

published on May 16, 2019

Throughout my time at USN, I have been very fortunate to be a space where there is such a love of learning. I have been able to take classes that I found interesting while simultaneously fulfilling my graduation requirements in the process. Something that stands out to me about our community is not only our love of learning, but the push to expand our learning beyond the walls of our classrooms. To think beyond what’s in the structured curriculum.

To complement this idea, there are a wide array of upperclassmen courses and seminars tailored to expanding our learning into communities larger than our own: Transforming Discourse, Ethics, Social Conscience, just to name a few. In these classes and electives, students are pushed to explore real-world issues and take the time needed to digest and analyze all sides of the matter. In academic classes such as Transforming Discourse and Social Conscience, the seminars are established not necessarily grade book oriented, but more focused on participation in discussions and debates. Through these classes, students are not only open to talk about world issues, but also analyze the why and how behind what’s happening around us. As well, opening up to debates and discussions allow students to strengthen their opinions, or change them, and develop a stronger sense of why one may have those opinions in the first place. These spaces are vital to our community and important when thinking about our future generations going into the world.

It’s because of this line of reasoning, that I believe a class under the discipline of a ‘Social Commentary’ class should be required in the High School curriculum. This could come in the form of classes I previously mentioned, more focused around the cultural issues we face, or it could be a class based on something more abstract: like philosophy or sociology. The upperclassmen seminar nature of these courses allows for students to build up their confidence as they head out into the real world outside the bounds of Edgehill Avenue, and build the groundwork for personal development of one’s own thoughts and opinions.

As we grow older and go off to college and beyond, it is important for us to have a strong base self-confidence, so as not to lose who we truly are in the process. To foster these ideas in an academically based setting is something so uniquely special at USN, and something that should hold more weight when thinking about student development.

This is especially timely because of the new adjusted schedule for the 2019-2020 school year. As we think about the credit system and what is important for students to leave USN with, it is the perfect time to modify what is vital to the USN curriculum. We are in a new age with a neverending digital media news stream, and having a space to disassemble and analyze what’s happening all around us is more necessary, now than ever. There’s a lot to think about for next year and beyond, and as our world shifts, it’s important to take a step back every once in a while and take a holistic look at how we prepare for it.

SPORTS: AAF Folds After NFLPA Denies Access to Players

By Jackson Evans ’22

Published on May 13, 2019

On Saturday, Feb. 9, football fans were starstruck by the arrival of the newest professional sports league, the Alliance of American Football. After an extremely successful first weekend of games with 40,000 viewers on their broadcast from CBS Sports and Bleacher Report Live broadcast, the league created a major buzz within the sports world.

As the weeks continued, viewership started to decrease, to the point of averaging only up to 10,000 views. After the inaugural week, the talk about the new league and its success started to fade and continued almost unnoticed in the sports world. The league was still doing a good job of getting their current field of players noticed by the NFL. One of the AAF’s biggest highlights of the inaugural season was the Memphis Express signing former Heisman winner, and college football star, Johnny Manziel.

However, on the weekend of Apr. 27, news broke that the AAF season would be cut short, and be ended due to one reason: as the NFL preseason is getting ramped up, many players from the AAF were being signed to NFL practice squad rosters. When the AAF requested to still have access of these players, even though they were on NFL rosters, the NFLPA (National Football Leagues Player Association) declined the request, causing an abrupt end to the AAF’s debut season.

With half of its players being taken by the NFL, the AAF lost the majority of its talent and decided to call it quits, ending its season early, and ultimately deciding to shut down the whole league.

The AAF’s shutdown is a true showing of the dominance and power the NFL has in the professional football world. The AAF was already planning ahead to their second season as a league and planned to bring four new teams, further expanding the leagues reach. Sadly, the idea of expansion was cut short due to the NFL’s dominant and somewhat oppressive rule. The overall idea of the AAF was short-lived, establishing itself as a league and drafting players, to playing most of its regular season, to finally less than a year in shutting down operations.

The AAF is a prime example of the power that the NFL has in the sporting world; however, there were many great takeaways from the AAF that one day the NFL might even implement into their own game.

The future of the AAF is unknown. As of now, it will remain a league of the past, but the future could bring back this promising league.

NEWS: 2019 Student Council Elections

by: Kyle Wolfson ’22

Published on 5/13/19

Oscar Fox ’21 speaks at the Candidate Assembly

This spring’s student council election has been unlike any in recent memory, with two rising juniors winning races for president and secretary, and two runoffs for president and vice president.

The student body council has many jobs and they elected to be are the leaders of the whole high school student body. The student body president oversees all student councils, hosts sports banquets, and numerous other tasks, while the vice-president’s main job is to run and oversee assemblies. The treasurer handles the money, makes sure clubs get the money that they need through the grant program, and the secretary is mainly in charge of planning the leadership retreat and communication with students and faculty.

This year, there were three candidates for president: Taylor Hartman ‘20, Claire Kim ‘20, and Michael Gordon ‘21. These candidates all gave very different speeches. Kim, who served as junior class president, promised better sports banquets and a longer Field Day, while Gordon served as sophomore class president, focused more on putting more attention to clubs. Hartman focused his campaign about how he would not hold back when he talked to the administration.

Freshman Piers Mason had a strong reaction to Hartman’s speech.

“It was extremely convincing,” he said.  

After the first round of voting, there was a runoff between Gordon and Hartman, and Gordon won, becoming the first junior to hold the position in over a decade.

“I am so lucky that I get to help lead next year’s student body,” said Gordon.

The race for vice president was a competition between Zoey Fink ‘20, Jacob Green ‘20, Ella Nordberg ‘20, and Gideon Mosse ‘20. There were lots of promises made about how each candidate would change assembly. Fink campaigned that she would get rid of assembly in its entirety, while Nordberg talked about inputting games to make assembly more entertaining. The election ended in a runoff between Mosse and Nordberg, with Nordberg winning the election and running her first assembly on Wednesday, May 2.

For the position of treasurer, there was only one candidate: Dabney Moore. Moore’s campaign focused on making student council money more accessible.

“I want to make it easier for the student body to find information regarding club money and grants,” she said.

The student body elections made history by having another rising junior running for secretary: rising junior Oscar Fox running against rising senior Jordyn Sheats. Fox shared his plan to speak with the current secretary in order to plan a more engaging retreat. Sheats campaigned about her numerous leadership roles in various groups. The election resulted in Fox winning, resulting in two rising juniors on the student council for the first time ever.

The upcoming year is sure to be like no other with a new and young student council eager to help and bring their new ideas to the table.

A&E: The ACT: A Life of Lies Exposed

By Zoe Rosenblum ’21

Published on May 13, 2019

Dee Dee Blanchard (Patricia Arquette), Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King) shown. (Photo by: Brownie Harris / Hulu)

Hulu announced a year ago they were coming out with a mini series based on the true life story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s life story has fascinated me for years, so I knew I had to watch this recreation of her life.

Her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, suffered from a disease called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, which according to the Michigan Medicine website, “is a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability.”

Dee Dee, played by Patricia Arquette, convinces doctors that Gypsy has many chronic conditions that all turn out to be a scam to get money. Arquette convinces the audience of this too and the viewer can’t help but feel that all she is doing is looking out for her daughter.

Arquette does a fabulous job of embodying a woman who appeared grateful and needy, but on the inside was a master scammer.

The makeup on Arquette is exquisite: she looks like two different people from the time she becomes a mom to the day she is murdered. She goes from having glowing skin and luscious brunette hair to a face full of wrinkles and a head of gray, kinky curls.

In the mini series, Joey King plays Gypsy Blanchard. Gypsy is submissive to her mother throughout her entire life and King captures this nature of Gypsy perfectly. The shakiness in her voice makes the viewer scared for her and the amount of trust stripped away from her when she starts to figure out her life has been a lie is so raw.

The viewer sees King take Gypsy from an innocent and naive girl to a vengeful and ultimately abandoned woman.

Everything – from King’s voice to her teeth – resemble Gypsy perfectly in real life and make the viewer feel as if they are part of the story. King even raises her voice a few octaves to match Gypsy’s shrill tone.

Gypsy’s boyfriend, Godejohn, is played by Calum Worthy. Godejohn has multiple personality disorder, and Worthy does an amazing job of making this condition part of his character. It is the driving force of why he commits the murder in the first place, and Worthy lets that part of his character drive him to be the man Gypsy falls in love with.

The set of this show is incredible. The pictures of the real house that the Blanchards scammed their way into was shockingly similar to the one built for the show. It feels as if they copied every detail from the original house onto the set.

The exterior of the house is the same hue of pink and features an identical wheelchair ramp leading to the front door. The wheelchair ramp is a necessity to the story because it introduces the viewer to a disabled, young Gypsy. It sets her up to look weak, when she is really building up the courage every time she wheels over that ramp to leave her abusive mother.

SPORTS: Recap of English Premier League Battle for the Top Four

by Reid Murray ’22

Published on May 13, 2019

The 2018-2019 Premier League season has brought us a down-to-the-wire race for the league title, some great derbies, the rise of the Wolverhampton Wanderers, and recently, the impressive play of Everton FC. But one of the most intriguing parts of the season has been the battle for the top four and qualifying for next year’s UEFA Champions League, which consists of the top teams from leagues all across Europe. All the way to the last two weeks of the season, Chelsea FC, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal FC, and Manchester United have been battling for a spot in the top 4 of the league’s standings, which would give them a spot in the 2019-2020 Champions League season.

Of the four teams competing for top 4 late in the season, Chelsea was the first to clinch it. After they defeated Watford at home and Arsenal drew with Brighton at home, Chelsea rose to third place and had their spot in next year’s Champions League guaranteed. Although there has been some talk of sacking manager Maurizio Sarri, he has proven to be able to lead his team well, as they have clinched the top four, gotten second place in the EFL Carabao Cup, and made it to the final of the Europa League vs Arsenal. (which is the secondary European competition)

Tottenham have had a very up and down season. They won only two out of their ten games against top six sides this season, one of which was a 4-2 loss to their arch nemesis Arsenal. Despite their struggles against the big clubs of England, it has been their consistent success against the smaller ones that has helped them remain in the top of the table for so long. They have won all of their matches against Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Brighton, Cardiff City, Fulham, and Huddersfield Town. After their final fixture of the season against Everton, they just beat out Arsenal and finished in the number four spot of the league. This means that next season, they will once again play in the Champions League. In this year’s Champions League season, they have proved that they are more than worthy of competing in the prestigious competition. They have made it all the way to the finals, after making a fantastic three-goal comeback against Ajax. In addition, they were able to take down very good squads such as Borussia Dortmund and back-to-back Premier League champion Manchester City. In the Champions League Final, they will face Liverpool, who they have two 2-1 losses to this season.

Fifth place Arsenal have also been inconsistent this season. After losing the first two games of the season to top four sides, they went 22 games unbeaten across all competitions (including Premier League, Europa League, and Carabao Cup). As their successes started to pile up, supporters of Arsenal began to get very hopeful and cocky, which ended up catching up to them in the later games of the season. In March and April, an away draw against Tottenham and home wins against Manchester United and Newcastle put Arsenal ahead of Tottenham. However, while the Gunners’ supporters were singing, “Tottenham, mind the gap,” some of their issues began to come back to haunt them. The mistakes from Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka, the injury of Aaron Ramsey, and the inconsistency of Mesut Özil proved to be too much to handle for AFC. In the final 7 games of the season, Arsenal only picked up (if they beat Burnley) 7 out of 21 possible points (if they draw with Burnley) 5 out of 21 possible points (if they lose to Burnley) 4 out of 21 possible points. These games include embarrassing losses to Crystal Palace, Wolves, and Leicester City, as well as a weak home draw with Brighton. However, even after not making the top four, there is still another way for Arsenal to make the Champions League. They will face Chelsea in the Europa League final on May 29, and although Chelsea is a difficult team to beat, it could be done. Arsenal have been playing remarkably better in the Europa League than they have been in the Premier League and a Europa League championship would give Arsenal an automatic bid to next year’s Champions League.

Manchester United’s season has been filled with uncharacteristic struggles, making it one of the most interesting and crazy seasons that they’ve had in a while. They began the season with match after match being dangerously close wins, draws, or losses to bottom-of-the-table clubs, including a loss to Brighton and draws with Crystal Palace and Southampton. Used to large success, Man U fans and owners had had enough of their losing form. This, in addition to disagreements and drama with mercurial midfielder Paul Pogba, led to manager José Mourinho being fired on December 18. New manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over at Old Trafford and Man U had immediate success. In the beginning, the supporters couldn’t say enough good things about him, but as the season progressed, that changed. The last quarter of the season brought a 4-0 loss to Everton, a loss to cross-town rivals Manchester City and a home draw with Chelsea. These matches, as well as the several dropped points from the beginning of the season, are what kept Man U out of the top four. In addition to these losses, Man U were recently eliminated from the Champions League by FC Barcelona, by a brutal score of 4-0, so missing out on the Champions League next season will hurt. However, the last time they were in the Europa League, 2017, they won the final against Ajax, which could bring some optimism to the supporters of Man U.

OPINION: Sri Lanka Easter Sunday Attacks Send Shockwaves Across the World

by Esha Karam ’21

Published on May 13, 2019

All opinions expressed are strictly those of the writer and do not reflect the views of University School of Nashville or The Peabody Press.

A blood splattered figure of Jesus from the remains of the church in Sri Lanka

On Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, 253 people were killed in a series of religiously motivated bombings in Sri Lanka, the latest attack in a world of increasing religious hostility.

The first set of attacks targeted three churches – St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Zion Church in Batticaloa – in the middle of morning Easter services.

Several additional bombs targeted four luxury hotels in the capital city Colombo, a popular tourist location. An eighth bomb exploded at a house during a police raid, killing three police officers.

Ten days after the attacks, Sri Lankan police identified and arrested nine local perpetrators in connection to the bombings. A local South Asian Islamic terrorist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) was labeled as responsible, but officials claim that the group received aid from a larger international organization.

The explosions sent shockwaves all over the world. For one, 39 of the victims were foreigners, hailing from Australia, Britain, China, Japan, Portugal, and the United States.

On another note, the attacks come at a time when divides between religions are deepening. As of late, the world seen an uptick in religious hate crimes. On March 15, shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand killed 50. Inspired by those attacks, a shooter killed a woman at a synagogue in Poway, California on April 27. Six months prior to that, on October 27, 11 died in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. This endless violence and deepening divide between religions reaches to religious communities in our own city too.

Not only is the world experiencing more severe violent attacks on religious communities, but certain countries, particularly South Asian ones, are experiencing an increase in identity politics centered on religion. In Myanmar, Buddhist leaders have enforced ethnic cleansing campaigns against Rohingya Muslims. The government is establishing a clear national identity, excluding those of a particular faith. With big elections coming up in India, leaders have also stepped up their religious rhetoric, as the governing Hindu nationalist party attempts to push the Muslim minority further away. Additionally, Muslim leaders in countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh are leaning further conservative and rejecting secularism.

This mix of politics and religion only leads to more violence and even deeper divides. The violence seen around the world today is a direct result of dangerous ‘us vs them’ mentalities promoting one belief or faith over another.

On Tuesday, March 5, Middle Tennessee State University held an forum discussing rising religious tensions titled “Protecting Places of Worship.” The forum featured a panel of religious leaders from various temples, synagogues, and churches across the city along with law enforcement officials. The event was coordinated in conjunction with the US Department of Justice Community Relations Service. An official from the Department of Justice Walter Atkinson said the program was created “in response to a series of violent acts against houses of worship across the country.”

According to the event organizers, the purpose of this discussion was to “to provide faith-based community leaders and members of the community with information to help them develop and implement security measures, share information, and address potential risks, such as an active shooter situations.”

Education events and interfaith panels such as this one, help facilitate a conversation about the dangerous path of hate our world is headed down. The way to combat these hostile feelings is through education and open discussions. Receiving an unbiased education regarding other religions and various beliefs will help to eliminate the divide between faiths and promote understanding instead of hostility.

The United States’ strategy to addressing terrorism is complicated and convoluted. The international situation in the Middle East regarding terrorist organizations will require a nuanced solution. However, as members of an international and domestic community, it is our responsibility to ensure that hate does not succeed; that terrorists do not succeed in their attempt to incite fear and create divisions. This can be achieved through understanding and compassion and through a recognition that terrorists do not represent the beliefs of large groups of people.