Friday, September 28, 2018


Text Box: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”                                Robert Swan
                                                                                                                        October 1, 2018
Dear LoMA Family,

            In your science and social studies classes, you will be learning about the destruction of the environment through trash, the use of carbon fuels, and the misuse of natural resources. The most significant and dangerous result of all of this is global warming, which is leading to the destruction of many species of plants and animals, worsening storms like Sandy and Hurricane Florence, and rising sea levels which could put much of New York City under water in your lifetimes. Unfortunately, as these effects are not generally visible on a daily basis, it is far too easy for people to stick their heads in the sand until the rising water drowns them.
One reason why so many people ignore the growing threat is that most of it is caused by businesses and individuals that profit off of carbon fuels. Oil remains the largest business in the world and oil companies will lose profit if people buy more energy efficient cars, use renewable fuels like solar and wind power, and diminish their electric use. Except for reducing electric usage, most of the decisions about these things seem to be beyond our control, and so too many people fool themselves into saying: it’s not my problem.
It is definitely the problem of government, but too many politicians are not doing anything about it. One reason for this is that some businessmen, who have made billions of dollars from oil, legally pay off politicians to set policies that support more, not less, usage of coal and oil. For instance, while Obama restricted oil drilling, set higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and subsidized renewable fuels, Trump has reversed these orders in order to build up the oil industry. State, local, and foreign governments, however, are continuing to cut back on carbon fuels and are subsidizing renewable fuel sources like wind farms and solar fuels. As this all can be confusing, it is up to citizens to learn what their politicians are doing and vote for those who will save the planet.
There is, however, no reason for you to wait before you make a difference. The decisions you make now have more consequences than you may realize. You can turn off lights when not being used, conserve water when you brush your teeth and shower, and not buy stupid stuff. To me, on the top of the list of stupid stuff is bottled water. Worldwide people drink a million bottles of water every minute. The energy involved in making the plastic bottles made from nearly one billion gallons of oil a year, filling them and then shipping them by truck to your local store wastes a massive amount of fossil fuels. Then, after just a few minutes we throw out the empties which have to be transported to dumps where they can take 1000 years to decompose. And why do we do this when taste tests show that it tastes no better and is no healthier than tap water as tap water is more heavily tested for purity than bottled water?
Now, New York City is doing something about this. The NYC Department of Sustainability, working with the makers of the world’s coolest water bottle company, is giving away fancy and fashionable S’well water bottles to all of our students. We are trying to get a chilled water filter set up, but in the meantime, do what I do and fill it with good old NYC tap water. Think of it as a first step in helping the planet.

Work hard,

John Wenk
Text Box: October 1  Extracurricular Activities begin
October 2  Junior Trip to the Armory
October 3 6:00 Senior Parent Meeting
October 8  Columbus Day – No School
October 10  Junior Trip to NYTW
October 17  College Trip to SUNY New Paltz

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Text Box: “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

September 24, 2018

Dear LoMA Family,

One of the things that makes LoMA unique is our wide variety of extracurricular activities for extracurricular credit (EC). Yes, they are required for graduation, but we have never had a problem with our graduates not meeting the 16 EC requirement because our students always enjoy their extracurricular activities and understand how important they are in building their social, artistic, and athletic skills. These activities help them nurture deeper friendships, develop leadership skills, and learn about themselves and the world.
In addition to being fun and interesting, participating in extracurricular activities makes it much more likely that students will get into good colleges. Imagine that you are a director of admissions for New York University choosing between two applicants. One student has good grades, but nothing else. Another applicant has good grades, has played volleyball, has been in three school plays, has created a photography portfolio, and has helped senior citizens through NY Cares. Which applicant would you accept?  For some students, these extracurricular activities will make the difference between college acceptance and rejection.
Tuesday at 1:40 p.m., advisors and presenters from a host of community-based organizations and school-based clubs and teams will visit LoMA’s classes to discuss the programs they have for extended day activities. Some of the things that students can do include: act in a LoMATE play, complete community service, compete with a PSAL team, or join a code writing class and work with computer engineers from Google and Microsoft. Students can also earn credit by attending weekly tutoring with any teacher for ten hours and then turning in their signed tutoring log to Ms. Dowridge. If students are already participating in a similar activity in their own neighborhood, they simply need to bring Ms. Dowridge documentation and a note from their parent explaining what they are doing and how many hours they put in.
When I did my research for my dissertation, I asked graduates about what made high school meaningful. I found that students who had participated the most in extracurricular activities generally had the highest grades and the closest friends. These students knew that the best lessons often take place outside of classes. As students work together to put on a performance at the Educational Alliance, compete in a swim meet, or plan special events with Student Council, they discover the meaning of  hard work and responsibility, think through meaningful projects and learn important interpersonal skills. Best of all, they have a good time in the process and make friends. I found it very sad when some of our graduates told me that they never got involved in anything and regret that they left high school with few good friends. That is why I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s good work in these activities.

Work hard,

John Wenk
September 25              1:40-3:00        Extracurricular activities carrousel
September 26              5:00                 Parents’ Association Meeting and Curriculum Night
October 1                                            Extracurricular Activities begin
October 2                                            Junior Trip to the Armory

Friday, September 14, 2018


                                                                                                                                                September 17, 2018

Dear LoMA Family,

I want to thank everyone for making the start of this school year so smooth and successful. Our new teachers are teaching like old LoMA pros, the old LoMA pros are trying out some new ideas. The counseling team was able to get everyone programmed and settled in quickly. The senior team organized the internships and about half our seniors are taking advanced placement classes this year. It’s remarkable how well everything goes when we work cooperatively as a team. Our students are also working diligently. As I visit classrooms, I see that nearly everyone is trying their best - they are prepared, attentive and completing all of their class and homework. There have been hardly any disciplinary issues and I see a lot of effort. We are in what experienced teachers call the honeymoon period.
Of all of the seasons of school – Regents Weeks, the holidays, the home stretch, graduation – the honeymoon period is the most universally optimistic. Students come in with their new notebooks and pens full of hope that they will keep up on all of the work, that they will be in school and on time every day, and that they can keep their focus on academics. They complete their homework every day and study for tests. In return their teachers think they’re the greatest kids they ever had and treat them accordingly.
And then something happens. Some students start making new friends in their classes that they cannot resist talking with during class, they miss a homework assignment or they come to class late, and their teachers start treating them accordingly. Less resilient students may then give up trying for the marking period, the semester or the year. The honeymoon often ends for these students sometime in mid-September.
I want to try an experiment at LoMA. My hypothesis is that if we can keep the honeymoon going for six weeks until the end of the marking period, students will see high grades on their report cards, realize that they really can be great students and in this way build their resiliency sufficiently to keep trying their very best throughout the year even when things get difficult. For this to work, students need to keep their commitment to class work and homework for six solid weeks. Now, of course, some students will fail to complete a homework assignment, get confused in their classes, or be legitimately absent. When this happens, they need to go to tutoring. Too many students only use tutoring after they fail a class and are required to go. This year, all freshmen must report to tutoring Tuesday through Thursday. Other students need to see their teachers as soon as they are absent, miss a homework assignment or start getting confused in a class. We have thirty-two weeks to go, if students start feeling even a little lost or confused now, it is only going to get worse, and June is a long way off. That is why it is vital to get to tutoring immediately, before they lose their resiliency, give up and turn this season of hope into one of despair. If we can prove my hypothesis correct, we can instead extend this season of hope to a year of success.

Work hard,

John Wenk

September 19                                      Yom Kippur – no school
September 25              1:40-3:00        Extracurricular activities carrousel
September 26              5:00                 Parents’ Association Meeting and Curriculum Night
October 1                                            OctExtracurricular Activities begin