Staff Member of the ̶M̶o̶n̶t̶h̶ Year: Mr. Jose Mondestin

Interview with Mr. Mondestin

By: Shane P ’18 and Jaskarn P ’18

Mondestin

What do you teach and what grade?

I teach grade 11 and I’m teaching Pre-Calculus and Geometric Optics, which are my favorite subjects to teach.

How are you enjoying QHSS since you came here? What are your favorite aspects? Least favorite? If you could change these aspects, what would you do?

It’s wonderful so far; the kids are great! They challenge me, they make me work harder, trying to make the problems harder. So when I go home, I work ten times harder compared to other schools. So I am enjoying it. Least favorite aspects? If there are any, it would be the space. If we had more space, it would be wonderful. Favorite aspects, again, would be the students. You know, they’re gorgeous and wonderful. They make me enjoy the school day. The staff also is great.

Why did you choose to work here? Do you enjoy teaching?  

Yes, I enjoy teaching. I was lucky enough to be chosen by the former principal. I’m here with you guys and I enjoy every aspect of it.

Why did you pursue a career in mathematics? Did you want to teach anything besides math?

That’s a long story. I remember back in the day, when I was back home, I did struggle with math and happened to fail one of my math classes. Then, I changed everything around 180 degrees. And since that time, I have said “I have to major in math,” which I did in my Master’s and Bachelor’s and here I am now. Teaching anything besides math, that’s Geometric Optics. It’s a combination of geometry and optics. I really enjoy teaching that, it’s one of my favorite classes.

Where are you from?

I am from Haiti. I studied statistics in Haiti, I have my Bachelor’s in Statistics. And I entered the United States in 1996, went to Baruch to study mathematics. I took too many math classes and decided to major in math. Then, I went to Lehman College and did my Master’s in Pure Mathematics. One day, I plan on doing my Ph.D. in Mathematics.

Where did you teach prior to QHSS?

Prior to QHSS, when I was in Baruch, I found this little job as a multi-subject teacher. During my last semester, I saw the flyer and I called. It was about teaching Pre-Calculus, French, and Spanish. So it was three subjects. So that was my first job teaching. It was at Smith High School. And once I graduated, I started to teach at Richmond Hill High School and then transferred to Andrew Jackson High School. And after that, I came here.

What do you think of your colleagues? Of your students?

My colleagues and the entire staff are wonderful, great people to work with. And the students, they are gorgeous as I said. You guys couldn’t get any better.  

What do you consider your greatest teaching accomplishment?

My greatest teaching accomplishment was when I worked with a student who was really weak in math. I started to tutor her one-on-one, and you know she passed the Regents with a high score. And after that, I figured, if you help people, they can accomplish great things.

Any words of wisdom that you want to give to all the students?

Be hardworking, like I used to be. If I didn’t fail math, I wouldn’t have decided to try harder and make it my career. So any student can be the same on any subject.

The Grammy’s Golden Girls

By: Rebecca P’18

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards was a star-studded night full of performances and buzz-worthy moments. From the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest’s politically charged attack on President “Agent Orange” to Bruno Mars’ stellar tribute to the late Prince, there was a lot to talk about at the Grammys. However, the talk of the night was centered on two women in particular – Adele and Beyonce.

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A Tribe Called Quest delivered a heated performance at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

The two women had delivered stunning performances throughout the show. Adele opened the ceremony with her smash hit “Hello” and later returned to the stage to honor the late George Michael with a rendition of his “Fastlove.” Despite having a bumpy start, she successfully completed her performance to a standing ovation. After Adele’s performance, Beyonce blessed the audience with a dazzling performance of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles”. The performance was an ode to motherhood, which was more than appropriate considering that she is expecting twins later this year. Accompanied by holograms of her mother and daughter, Beyonce was decked out in a gold outfit that alluded to divine figures in various mythologies.

The mononymous divas were among the most nominated artists of the night –  Adele with five nominations and Beyonce surpassing hers with nine. They faced off for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and the prestigious Album of the Year. In the end, Adele came out on top, winning all five of the awards she was nominated for. She graciously accepted her Grammy for Album of the Year but also acknowledged Beyonce’s phenomenal achievements.

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Adele and Beyonce at the Grammy Awards.

The variance between Adele and Beyonce highlights an important struggle for the Grammys and for music in general. These women are very unique artists. Known for her powerful vocal ability, Adele is a more traditional singer. Her album 25 is heartfelt and mostly apolitical. Conversely, Beyonce is a more experimental artist who addressed topics such as womanhood and black identity in her Lemonade. Both albums were met with critical and commercial acclaim, yet both focused on different subject matters. So how does one compare the two? How does the Recording Academy determine which is more worthy of being the Album of the Year?

According to Adele, the impact an album has on society should be the deciding factor. When receiving the award for Album of the Year, she acknowledged how an album like Beyonce’s Lemonade made her feel. In particular, Adele highlighted the empowerment it inspired in her black friends. This is an important distinction to be made. Lemonade was made to empower all women, especially women of color. Adele recognized that the album was intended for an underrepresented audience and included the factor of an album’s impact in her acceptance speech. She even broke her Grammy in half to offer a piece of the award to Beyonce. The entire affair was a beautiful instance of women supporting each other despite being distinctively different artists and an example of reconciling the ever-growing gaps in music.

A Recap of Golden Globes 2017: A Night of New Records, Mixup Titles, and Meryl Streep

By: Valerie F’18

On Sunday, January 8th, Jimmy Fallon hosted the 74th annual Golden Globe Award Show. The dazzling award ceremony was held at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles. Fallon was greeted by a room full of famous faces from well known T.V. shows and the latest popular films.  The Golden Globes, though known as the more lively and relaxed brother to the more prestigious and serious award shows, was a lively and enjoyable way to kick off the award show season.

The award ceremony had a number of memorable moments, from Jimmy Fallon’s flamboyant opening musical number to director Damien Chazelle’s domination of the night with his latest jazz-infused film. Chazelle’s critically acclaimed film ‘La La Land’ triumphed with a record breaking seven awards, defeating the previous tied records holders “Midnight Express” (1798) and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) who each obtained six awards.

While making his acceptance speech after winning the award for Best Director of a Motion Picture, Damien Chazelle expressed his content and appreciation: “I’m in a daze now officially…”

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Damien Chazelle’s La La Land made Golden Globe history by winning a record breaking seven awards.

Along with La La Land’s success, another notable occurrence was Meryl Streep’s politically charged speech. Meryl Streep, a thirty time nominee and eight time winner, was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. Though spoken in a scratchy whisper, for she had lost her voice in “screaming and lamentation,” Streep’s acceptance speech spoke volumes. She seized the moment to comment on the recent presidential election. While she never mentioned Donald Trump by name, Streep’s stirring speech was an apparent statement on the political climate that Trump has fostered.

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Meryl Streep delivered a fiery speech that condemned President Donald J. Trump – without mentioning his name.

“Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose,” said Streep, condemning Trump for acceding bullying.

Streep continued by highlighting the importance of foreigners to American culture, the role of the press in “safeguarding the truth,” and the privilege of being an actress.

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President Trump’s response to Streep’s Golden Globes speech.

Ending her speech on a powerful note, Streep paid a touching tribute to her close friend, the late Carrie Fisher: “My dear, departed friend Princess Leia once told me, take your broken heart, make it into art.”

Streep’s speech was undoubtedly a memorable moment; however, one of the more unnoticed moments of the Golden Globes was the kiss that Ryan Reynolds and Andrew Garfield shared as Ryan Gosling walked to the stage to give his acceptance speech for winning the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture. Reynolds and Garfield, who were seated adjacent to each other at the ceremony, were nominated for their roles in Deadpool and Hacksaw Ridge, respectively. Once viewers noticed the charming moment shared by the two respected actors, social media was ablaze with excited and hilarious responses. In a later interview with metro.co.uk, Gosling joked: “ I’m happy for them. I’m happy they found each other.”

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Ryan Reynolds and Andrew Garfield share a kiss, a moment that was largely unnoticed by Golden Globe viewers. 

Charming moments, such as that shared by Reynold’s and Garfield, are common finds in popular award shows. Similarly, award shows often contain flubs made by presenters or performers. Throughout the night, the prominent blunder that kept coming up was the confusion of the titles of the two films Hidden Figures and Fences, films that both feature largely African-American casts.

The mistake first arose when NBC’s pre-show host Jenna Bush asked producer and composer Pharrell Williams about the musical score of Hidden Figures, mistakenly calling it Hidden Fences. Later on, during the award show,  actor Michael Keaton echoed Bush’s mistake when he referred to Hidden Figures as Hidden Fences when presenting the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture. Viewers quickly realized Bush and Keaton’s blunders and seized the opportunity to make the gaffe a popular joke on social media.

The morning following the Golden Globes, Bush apologized for her blunder, saying “I had an error in the night which I have to apologize for; when I was interviewing the incomparable Pharrell, who I adore, I accidentally in the electricity of the red carpet, which I had never done, called Hidden Figures, Hidden Fences.”

Keaton also apologized for his mistake when speaking to reporters before the Los Angeles premiere of his new film, The Founder, saying “I screwed the line up. I was nonchalant about it. I actually, now, I totally understand … It makes me feel so badly that people feel badly. If somebody feels badly, that’s all that matters.”

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Jenna Bush and Michael Keaton’s “Hidden Fences” flub prompted many to poke fun at the mistake.   

This year’s Golden Globes celebrated 2016’s achievements in cinemas, in both a light and serious atmosphere. With 2017 ahead of us, we should look forward to new and exciting feats the movie industry will bring, along with next year’s Golden Globes ceremony.    

New York to Move Towards Free College Tuition

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaking to students at LaGuardia Community College.

By: Kevin Megnath

On January 3, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a plan to fully cover the cost of tuition for college students in low to middle income households. New Yorkers who are accepted to state or city universities, and whose household earns less than $125,000 per year are qualified to receive this government aid.

This plan resembles the proposed policies of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who appeared with Mr. Cuomo at LaGuardia Community College to discuss the plan. If the plan passes the state legislature, New York will join Tennessee and Oregon as the only states in the country to offer free tuition to students of community colleges. Not only that, New York will be the first state in the union to offer this program to four-year colleges. Senator Sanders also hopes to expand the idea of tuition-free colleges to middle-class families nationwide and believes that New York’s adoption of the plan will convince other states to get onboard.

Current tuition costs average roughly $6,470 (and $16,320 for students on campus) per year for SUNY schools, and $6,330 per year for CUNYs. According to Cuomo’s administration, the proposal is estimated to cost the state $163 million per year. Governor Cuomo expects this plan to roll out as soon as this fall, and hopes that every qualifying family will be able to receive this benefit by 2019. He projects that 80% of New York families are entitled to free college tuition.

However, there is some opposition towards Governor Cuomo’s proposed system. Opponents argue that free college tuition has little to no effect on New York households. While families would be entitled to free tuition, students will still need to pay approximately $14,500 in other fees. The costs of commuting to school, boarding, food, and other expenditures are not covered by Cuomo’s plan. Additionally, tuition-free college is limited to only full-time students, meaning many students who attend college part-time are not entitled to this benefit.

Nonetheless, Governor Cuomo still intends to roll out his plan as soon as possible. Stated as a “revolutionary idea for higher education” by Bernie Sanders, the establishment of tuition-free college in New York and across the United States would be groundbreaking.

QHSS Girls and Boys Bowling Teams: Season Review

By: Dharam M’19

The QHSS boys and girls bowling teams have recently capped off the 2016 season with improvements in showings.

The boys bowling team, coached by math teacher Mr. Lopez, finished up the season with a 4-8 record, sixth place in the Queens II League. The tightest game took place on October 13, when QHSS pulled out a victory in the final frame of the game. The strongest outing came a day later in a victory against Bayside High School, in which QHSS put up a cumulative score of 1446.  By pinfall average (game score average), the team ranked forty-third in the city.  The team narrowly missed the playoffs, for only the top forty teams qualified.  The boys bowling team has been dominated by seniors for the last two seasons, with ten seniors in 2015 and six seniors in 2016.  

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The boys bowling team, with head coach Mr. Lopez.

The girls bowling team, under the guidance of Assistant Principal Mr. Reo, dominated the Brooklyn/Queens League with a first place win. The team finished with a 11-1 record. The strongest outings coincided with victories. The team won against Richmond High School on September 29, putting up a total score of 1160. Following the match with Richmond was the team’s October 6 play against Cambria Heights Academy. The team bested Cambria Heights with a total score of 1148. In terms of pinfall average, the team ranked twenty-seventh in the city.  Unfortunately, the team was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, losing against Beacon High School.  

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The girls bowling team, with head coach Mr. Reo.

Four seniors on the QHSS bowling teams – Sandra Cantillo, Jackie Shi, Henry Li, and Jerry Lu – were selected for the PSAL (Public School Athletic League) Individual Players City Finals. For the girls individual, Sandra came in 9th place and Jackie in 14th. For boys individual, Henry came in 9th place, with Jerry following in 11th place.   

Jackie Shi, captain of the girl’s team, offered a few comments on the experience of playing in the PSAL finals.

“It was rewarding to lead my team. Considering that most of the girls on our team were rookies and never bowled competitively before, I was really happy with the way we ended our season, despite our loss at the end.”  

She described her time on the team as a fun and enjoyable experience, and she encourages future QHSS bowlers to keep practicing. After all, “one [pin down] is better than none!”

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PSAL Individual Finalists (from left to right) Sandra C’17, Jackie S’17, Jerry L’17, Henry L’17.