Joke of the Issue: "This is so unfair. I got expelled for plagiarism! Why should I get in trouble for something I didn't do?"
The Golden Girls: A Revolutionary Sitcom
by Lucia W.
Picture it – September 14, 1985: The Golden Girls airing for the first time. Many people thought the show was likely to fail. After all, who wanted to watch a show about 4 over-50 women--Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Dorothy’s mother, Sophia--living together as roommates in Miami? But as it turned out, a lot of people did.
The Golden Girls aired on NBC from 1985 to 1992. It attracted over 25 million viewers, and won a variety of awards, including Check Golden Globes and Emmys. The Golden Girls spanned for 7 seasons, or 182 episodes. It is known for its humor and heart, but really, why was it important?
The Golden Girls was influential in many ways. Television shows typically revolved around so called “normal” families: mom, dad, a couple of kids. The Golden Girls, whose main characters were all single women, either divorcees or widows, was one of the first to show us a new definition of family. The show’s creator, Susan Harris, said the show “showed that you didn’t need the customary, traditional relationship to be happy. It painted a picture of all the possibilities for family.” In the two-part episode, “The President’s Coming!”, President Bush considers visiting the girls’ house but later the G.G.s are informed that the president might want to visit a more “typical” family. Sophia - played by Estelle Getty - is quick to retort, “Typical? We are typical. I’m the mother and I have 2.3 children. You won’t find a family more typical than that.”
And there wasn’t just one example to prove Harris’s statement. This was the first television show to include a wedding between two men. In the episode “Sisters of the Bride,” Blanche - played by Rue McClanahan - is upset because her brother is marrying his boyfriend. Sophia responds – in what might be the most memorable Golden Girls line – “Everybody wants someone to grow old with, and shouldn’t everybody have that chance?” This episode resonated with many people when it aired, and still does today.
It didn’t stop there. In most TV shows, a woman over the age of 50 would only have a small role, such as a grandmother. The Golden Girls was unique in that all the main characters were supposed to be over the age of 50. This was a brave and important decision by the show’s creator. “A woman’s worth is tied to what she looks like,” Harris said. “At 82, Cary Grant could still be a romantic lead. But on television, a woman over 50 is cast as an ax murderer.” A New York Times article about the show begins, “Television has always had an obsessive love affair with youth.” But the creators of the Golden Girls had a different goal in mind.
Betty White, who played Rose Nylund, wanted the show to prove that women don’t “self-destruct” after a certain age. Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy Zbornak, sought to demonstrate “that middle aged people are gutsy and juicy.” And Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche Devereaux, thought it was important for people to know that “when people mature, they add layers. They don’t turn into other creatures.”
The show was also known for “fearlessly venturing into taboo TV territory,” according to an NPR article. “I remember there were episodes that dealt with subjects most network shows had shielded away from,” said award-winning British journalist, Adam Mattera. “Same-sex marriage, menopause, even AIDS at a time when Reagan wouldn’t even say a word in public.” In the episode “72 hours,” Rose learns that she might have contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from a blood transfusion six years earlier. The episode aired in 1990, when AIDS testing was still relatively new, and there were misconceptions about the disease. The myth that AIDs was a punishment for sinful behavior was something that had not yet been squashed. The Golden Girls faced that issue head-on in a conversation between Rose and Blanche. In the episode, Rose gets tested and is told that she’ll have to wait 72 hours before the results come back. In an uncharacteristically angry moment, Rose voices to Blanche how she doesn't deserve this to which Blanche responds, “AIDS is not a bad persons disease! It is not God punishing people for their sins.” In showing that AIDS did not need to be associated with shame, the show was groundbreaking.
On this topic and so many others, The Golden Girls, in its own funny, heartwarming way, did its best to change the minds of its audience for the better. It was ahead of its time then, which is why it still resonates with people today.
From Wolves to Puppy Dogs
By Sara S.
Dogs and humans have a fascinating history together. Did you know that dogs are so closely intertwined with humans that when a person looks a dog in the eyes, the brain releases the same chemical that is released when parents look into the eyes of their child? This brain chemical helps parents and children bond with each other, and this phenomenon has not been found to occur across species with any other animals but humans and dogs.
But originally, dogs were wolves, animals that would make humans run away in fear. In fact, some the most famous stories involve wolves terrorizing others, such as Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. So how did the fierce, predatory wolf, for which our school's mascot is named, ever morph into what we know as the modern cute and lovable dog?
Let’s rewind time. Though the domestication of dogs began about 130,000 years ago from the gray wolf, the “dog” that we recognize today did not reveal itself until about 12,000 years ago. According to History magazine, the first wolves to reach out to humans most likely had been bold wolves encroaching on human settlements in search of food. As these more daring wolves bred, the next generations learned their habits until wolves and humans began to form a partnership. People began to keep wolves around to hunt and carry heavy loads and in exchange, both were assured a meal. With scarce resources this helped both species survive. But little did wolves or people know this was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.
To better explain this topic, the difference between the terms “tamed” and “domesticated” must be highlighted. Tamed refers to an animal born in the wild, which then loses its wariness and violent impulses towards people. On the other hand, “domesticated” is when humans control the breeding of an animal and the acceptance of humans is genetically altered through selective breeding. The full domestication of dogs occurred over a period of 20,000 to 40,000 years.
Domestication led to a diverse array of very specific, select breeds. Consider how vastly different a Great Dane is from a Chihuahua. There are a multitude of distinct characteristics that separate one type of dog from another, including fur type, size, ear type, differently shaped faces, and even some personality traits! How did such drastic differences develop? Selective breeding. Selective breeding is when people select dogs that best embody a specific characteristic they are looking for. They breed those dogs over generations to make dogs look different, act different, or enhance their senses. This process, which is still going on today, has led to finely tuned breeds that are a collection of different select features.
It is hard to tell when people began to keep dogs as pets, but they played roles in many different societies. For example, during the Middle Ages, dogs would be used to guard the house or to aid people on hunts. In Renaissance art, dogs would often be included in painting, sitting on a lady’s lap. They symbolized guidance, protection, loyalty, and other positive traits. This demonstrates how far dogs have come from the ferocious wolf.
Of course, dogs also have pivotal roles today. Many have been bred or trained to be service dogs. Service dogs have jobs that vary, but these include therapy dogs, guiding eyes dogs, and police dogs. Of course, most dogs today are around for one reason – to be our lovable pets.
Kids Need Backpacks Back!
By Anna S.
Did you know that before 2020, JJMS students had never carried their backpacks around to their classes before? Ever since the school was built in 1968, students always had to use their lockers to store their notebooks and papers.
But with COVID-19, because the lockers were so close to each other and the school was trying to practice social distancing, the school did not allow them to use their lockers and had kids carry their backpacks around to their classes instead. Students liked that!
However, starting this past January, the school started to force students to use their lockers again and not allow them to carry their backpacks around anymore. Unfortunately, this decision was not only bad for kids, but also bad for the Earth!
Though no one realized it would become a problem, not using backpacks, it turns out, creates more plastic waste. Since COVID-19, the water fountains have been closed out of fear of spreading the virus. So instead, they made available water coolers around the school that use plastic cups. But if students did not want to use the plastic cups, they were allowed to carry reusable water bottles. It was easy to carry their water bottles because their books were tucked away in their backpacks.
Now, without being able to use their backpacks, students must carry their heavy water bottles along with all of their other books. Trying to manage all of that is difficult, and students may ditch their water bottles and just start using the plastic cups, instead. There are over 600 kids in the middle school, and if most kids use the cooler multiple times throughout the day, then more than 1,000 plastic cups could be used and thrown out per day. And because most of the plastic cups do not get recycled, that could lead to a thousand more cups a day going to landfills, which is really bad for the Earth and us.
But plastic cups are not the only thing that might wind up in a landfill. Taking their backpacks away also will lead to more electronic waste getting thrown out. Without backpacks, there is a greater chance students can drop the things they have to carry from class to class, and that includes our iPads.
Most kids have a binder that holds papers but is not quite big enough to fit everything, and so many kids are just carrying their iPads outside of their binders. It is hard for students to carry a lot of loose items, and sometimes some of them can slip and fall, including iPads. Furthermore, accidents where two kids bump into each other happen all the time in the hallways, and there have been accidents where people’s iPads have fallen. Sometimes when the iPads falls, it can get severely damaged. The school will usually replace it for the student, but much of the broken iPad will have to be thrown out.
In conclusion, although COVID-19 has been difficult, having backpacks had benefited, not only kids, but also the environment. Backpacks kept both plastic cups and iPads out of landfills. This is important because the Earth’s health is precarious, and we need to do every little thing we can to save it.
On a side note, there is another lesson to be learned here, and that is that without this awful pandemic, we would have never known the environmental benefits of backpacks, teaching us that sometimes unfortunate circumstances can help us see good things that we never did before.
How JJMS Has Changed Due to The COVID-19 Pandemic
By Redmond M.
Once, there were tables in the cafeteria. Once, students didn’t wear masks in class. Once, there was no Schoology, and Zoom wasn’t a household name. Once, school was “normal.”
But that was before March 2020. When COVID-19 hit, JJMS changed. School became virtual. For the first half of the next year, in-person school returned, but we went to school for only two days, and the rest of the week was spent on Zoom or Schoology. In April, we went back to school full-time. But we didn’t go back to normal. We still used Schoology a lot, wore masks, and socially distanced. For a while there were even plastic shields around our desks. Lunchtime was also socially distanced, sitting on seats in the hallways or gyms. School was not “normal” anymore.
As the pandemic is starting to end, however, which of these changes at JJMS will last after the pandemic is over?
Social distancing will not likely survive, which is good for students, because no one likes it. When we no longer need it, it’s going in the filing cabinets to be used another time. This will enable teachers to bring seating arrangements back to normal, not only in the classroom, but also in the dining room. Currently, lunch seats are kept six feet apart, making it hard to talk to friends, especially with the multitude of other kids talking louder than normal to be heard from six feet away. When there is no need for distance, kids will return to big tables in the dining room, just like we did in elementary school.
Zoom is another pandemic solution that will no longer have widespread use because distance learning did not work for students very well. In a survey of 1,000 teachers, the majority of K-12 public school teachers reported a “major loss of learning” during the lockdown, 97% of educators saw a decline in their student’s test scores in 2021, and one third of teachers feared that more students than average would need to repeat a grade.
But remote learning through Zoom doesn’t just hurt academics, it can also hurt students’ mental health. The CDC warned that remote school presents more emotional and mental health risks to students than in-person learning, and 57% of teachers in the survey above also estimated that their students were behind three months in their social-emotional learning. In the end, remote learning is a poor substitute for regular learning, and the last thing anyone – teachers or students - wants is more Zoom. But it does have it’s uses and may be dusted off when there’s a snow day, gas leak, or even another pandemic scare.
Maybe Zoom will go away, but will Schoology? Undoubtedly, Schoology will stay in use here at JJMS. It’s easier and is more eco-friendly for kids, and it also has its bonuses for teachers. As Mrs. Reiss, JJMS Latin teacher said, “I can now more easily weave together a variety of resources for students to choose from on the Schoology platform.” But like remote learning in general, Schoology can also be an annoying tool to students, because teachers now can assign new work during a snow day. The threat of being handed a new assignment used to be only in the actual classroom, but now it is available anywhere there is an internet connection.
A debate has sprung from our pandemic experience on whether we should continue wearing masks to prevent the spread of other viruses. Back in the Middle Ages, the Black Death spread less quickly because there were fewer people, but as Earth’s population continues to grow, diseases are becoming more transmissible. In densely populated places like Japan, people have regularly worn masks even before the pandemic, and 2020’s flu season was significantly less impactful than in previous years in large part because of masks.
Therefore, masks might stay around for a while. Even if they’re not required in future years at JJMS, kids might still carry them around and wear them during flu season. In future venues and gatherings with large numbers of people, masks might be required even long after Coronavirus ends. Mask mandates continue to change. The governor of New York says that mask mandates in schools might be lifted soon. This decision and all future decisions about masks will all depend on whether it is in the best interest of public health.
JJMS changed during the pandemic, and everybody thinks that it was for the worse. Because it was. But as the pandemic nears an end, we have the chance to take some positive innovations that it forced us to adopt and hopefully make JJMS an even better school going forward.
Film Review: "Tick, Tick...BOOM!"
By Emily B.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In the 1980s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferris reminds us of the very important concept of carpe diem - that people should seize the day. This is also the theme of a recent movie, “Tick…Tick…BOOM!”
Tick...Tick…BOOM! takes place in the 1980s and is about a man named Jonathon Larson who is trying to figure out if he can make it as a musical playwright. He has already written a musical called Superbia that he is trying to get picked up by a producer for Broadway or off-Broadway, and he is not having much luck. Sadly, his girlfriend does not share his dream, and she wants him to move away from New York City to live a safe life in the suburbs. Likewise, his best friend, Michael, is also pressuring him to give up his theater dreams, like he did, and take a more stable job in the business world.
The movie is called Tick…Tick…BOOM! for two reasons. The onomatopoeia of the title represents the sound of the clock ticking in his mind, reminding him that time is running out: He is already thirty years old, and he has not had any success in show business. The ticking also represents his heart, beating faster and faster as he deals with the pressures coming from the tough decisions he must make. Will he go to the suburbs and have a “safe job,” or continue his dream, even if it is risky?
This film will appeal to anyone who is interested in theater. It is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer, producer, and star of Hamilton!, as well as writer of the soundtracks for Moana and Encanto! It also is an autobiography of Larson, who wrote RENT, which won four Tony Awards in 1996.
But film will also appeal to us middle schoolers because it teaches us a valuable life lesson - not to waste our lives. At the end of the film, Michael reveals to Jonathon that he has HIV, a disease he knows that he will die from within a few years. In fact, learning about Michael’s disease is one of the reasons why Jonathon decides to follow his dreams in the end. We middle schoolers waste a lot of time. We do not look up from our phones and computers, missing out on experiencing life in the real world. Particularly after experiencing the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we should be very well aware that life is precious, and we should enjoy every day while we can.
The Auto-Tune Argument
By Hayley F.
Auto-Tune took the music industry by charge and has completely changed what music sounds like today. Created in 1997 by U.S. scientist Andy Hildebrand, Auto-Tune is exactly what it sounds like - a piece of software that automatically tunes someone’s voice. More specifically, it is a piece of software that corrects singers when they sing out of tune, live or in the studio. “Auto-Tune works by receiving an input signal, detecting its pitch, and then altering it based on your specifications,” Sweetwater Sound, Inc. writes. Based on the impact it has had on music today, people have different opinions on whether Auto-Tune has had a positive or negative impact on music. Some dislike Auto-Tune, arguing that it has made music less authentic, while others counter that it adds power and an interesting aspect to songs when used in unique ways.
A bit of background information may be helpful in order to demonstrate how Auto-Tune has completely transformed the music industry. The story of Auto-Tune begins deep underground, figuratively and literally. Andy Hildebrand had created a set of algorithms to interpret sonar-generated data to locate oil in the Earth. When he was challenged by a dinner party guest to create a machine that could help people sing in tune, he realized that his algorithms, the ones that were previously used in the oil industry, had the same logic that could be applied to pitch-correction. And so, Auto-Tune was born.
In 1989, Hildebrand founded “Antares Audio Technologies”. Although Auto-Tune was an immediate hit in the music industry, which was no surprise, music producers wanted to keep it a secret from the public. They didn’t want the fans of the biggest songs of the time finding out that their favorite singers weren’t “effortlessly perfect”.
But in 1998, Cher, an American singer and actress who got her start as half of Sonny and Cher, one of the biggest pop duos of all time, released her hit ‘Believe’ which exposed the use of Auto-Tune in the music industry. However, Cher used Auto-Tune in a way unlike the other singers of her time. She distorted her vocals by manipulating Auto-Tune, rather than just using the algorithm to correct her pitch. After ‘Believe’, the use of this pitch-correcting software as part of music itself became much more prevalent. Nowadays, artists like T-Pain and Kanye West use Auto-Tune to distort their voices, following in the footsteps of Cher. In fact, the “Cher effect” is used in most rap songs today.
Yet, many people feel that Auto-Tune has made a negative impact on music throughout the years. For instance, before the invention of Auto-Tune, music was...well...real. It may not have been perfectly on pitch, but music back then had character, and each voice crack and flat note symbolized that. When you listen to John Lennon’s voice in the Beatles’ version of Twist and Shout, the “imperfectness” of his voice is made obvious. And still, this version of Twist and Shout is so famous and celebrated for that exact reason.
Human experience is imperfect. The entire concept of something being “perfect” isn’t natural. When we try to make something perfect, we run the risk of losing its purpose altogether. As humans, we connect to these imperfect aspects of music. Auto-Tune robs music of its imperfect beauty.
In addition, many believe that pitch-correction means that anyone, even those without proper training and scarce musical talent, can sing and make a lot of money off it. In a few decades, as Auto-Tune continues to transform the music industry, who knows what’ll happen? It’s possible that people will stop taking voice lessons and cause voice coaches to lose their jobs. It’s even likely that singers with actual vocal training won’t be as successful.
However, many believe that Auto-Tune has changed the music industry for the better. As an illustration, although Auto-Tune is considered “unnatural”, the reason music that uses Auto-Tune openly is becoming more prevalent is because many people like listening to it. Isn’t that the most important aspect of music? If people enjoy listening to music that incorporates voice-distortion, then isn’t Auto-Tune making a positive difference in people’s lives? Given how quintessential music is in our everyday lives, good must be coming of this phenomenon known as Auto-Tune.
Additionally, for those who aren’t the best at singing, pitch correction provides a way to share their songwriting and experiences with the world in a way that people can bear to listen to. Despite the fact that many songwriters form contracts with trained singers if they’re not particularly good at singing, sometimes heartfeltly written songs are most powerful when sung by those who wrote and experienced the lyrics.
What seemed to be the all-around perfect invention to some people was a disastrous idea to others. However, when you think about it, many new forms of art or new technologies are originally predicted to be disastrous and are rejected by most. For instance, when movies were first introduced, the idea seemed preposterous to many. Before film, there was theater. In a theater production, everything is live. There are no re-dos or multiple takes, and the show must always go on. However, in movies, these things are not only possible but used in every single scene. Originally, films were seen as cheating, similarly to Auto-Tune. Nowadays, many view using Auto-Tune as cheating, a cheap way to find success. Yet, movies are such a significant and appreciated part of society today. Who’s to say Auto-Tune won’t have the same fate?
How to Make a Movie
By Olive M.
Everyone has made a silly movie before. Whether it was just something you did because you were bored or something to do after school, you made a cyborg-unicorn style movie or something similar to that. But even though you’re a kid, it doesn’t mean you have to make a silly movie. You have the power to make real movies—great movies. You just have to get the right skills, people, and the technology.
Put Your Film in Action!
First off, you may think you have no experience making a real movie. That may be true, but you can change that. Some of the skills needed are patience, being able to work with actors, being persuasive, and managing your time. Even if you do not feel like you have all of these skills, you can learn them, and they will help you make your movie.
Then there’s the people. You'll need actors, and you can start by holding auditions. Put up posters or spread the word through social media so you get as many people as possible. Although you can ask your friends to audition, you should choose the best performers, even if they are not your best friends. Because you will be working with a group of people, be sure to be flexible with everyone’s schedule.
Finally, there's the tech. You probably think, “But my camera stinks!” But there is a lot you can do with today's camera-phones, which are pretty good quality. Or you might think, “In real movies, they use multiple cameras." Try borrowing phones from friends and filming the scene from different angles. These different shots can be clipped together later on the computer to liven up the shot. There are many programs you can download on computers or mobile devices that are cheap and allow you to easily clip together your movie. You may also think, “My movie will look so amateur!” With this, one thing that can be helpful is paying attention to how the lighting affects the shot .
Don’t worry! Just keep your cool and prepare beforehand, and you’re movie will be great!
Being the Boss
Producing a movie will require you to do some other things. For example, you will have to choose a script. For your first film, maybe try doing a shorter script. Consider what kind of sets a script will need, and make sure that they will not be too hard for you to make. This also goes for outfits, dialogue, and actions. You might be able to find one online, or you can always write your own. You'll also have to manage a budget to pay for materials needed for sets and costumes. Buying pre-made costumes, fabrics for costumes, and props might cost a bit of money, so consider getting donations or looking around the house for useful items. And don't forget make-up! Make up can be expensive, but maybe you can borrow some. There will be a lot of things to get, so it might be helpful to make a list.
Why Filmmaking Is Fun?
At first, the idea of filmmaking may sound like hard work, and it is. But it really is also very fun! First off, when casting, you can meet new kids who want to audition. Second, movie-making is such a fun project! Each day you film or prepare, you’ll feel the excitement. And last, responsibility. This is probably the most compelling thing about making a movie. Yes, it is work. But this kind of work actually makes you feel important.
Now that you know almost everything about moviemaking, go do it! Movies and videos are part of are lives more than ever, which is why you can use this movie to connect with people and the world. Moviemaking can open a new future for you!
What in the Worldle?
By Redmond M.
Everyone has heard of Wordle, the new game that is sweeping the nation. But have you heard of WORLD-LE, (as in the World.) Well, if you’re looking for a game to play while you are waiting for the next Wordle, Worldle is a geography game. In this game, you are presented with the outline of a country or territory and have to guess what it is, just by the outline. Your score is measured in kilometers from the country of the day, and every time you make another guess, it tells you how close you are and what direction you need to be moving in. For all of you Geography enthusiasts – or anyone looking for a challenge – check it out!
Here is the website:
Teachers Were Once Middle School Students, Too!
Collected and Edited By Parker Whitney
It’s hard to be a middle schooler. There’s homework stress; balancing school, home life, and extra curricular activities; trying to fit in or find your place with your peers; and living up to other people's expectations of you. Sometimes, we think that adults have no idea what we are going through. But, when we think about it, they were middle schoolers once, too.
So, the Purple Press decided to ask teachers to share their middle school photos so that we could see that they really were once just like us. So, take a look and see if one of YOUR teachers submitted a photo.
Thank you to all of the teachers that contributed. We hope that by seeing how amazing all of you turned out, it will assure us that we will be fine, too.
What is the Purple Press?
The Purple Press is a student run newspaper at John Jay Middle School. We have been actively publishing since 1998. The articles are student chosen and cover a variety of topics.
Interested in Joining?
- Meets in Room 162 on Wednesdays
- Runs 3:00-3:30PM
- See Schoology group page for meeting dates
- Schoology Join Code = G6WZ-54QV-F9F7M
- Faculty Advisor:
- Mr. Ley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- High School Student Interns
- Grant Vialardi
- Nina Vigil
- Pierce Berke
- George Caratzas
- Sophie B.
- Emily B.
- Kiera C.
- Julianna F.
- Hayley F.
- Emma G.
- Madison K.
- Christian K.
- Redmond M.
- Olive M.
- Anna S.
- Sara S.
- Adam W.
- Lucia W.
- Nonie W.
- Parker W.