Week #7 of Summer 2018: July 17 – 23

Mr. McAlpin Returns from Program at Steinbeck Institute

Mr. McAlpin is a teacher of environmental science and geology as well as a faculty advisor of Belmont Hill’s sustainability club. He has played a key role in bringing notable speakers to Belmont Hill, most recently State Senator Will Brownsberger, in the hopes of furthering our community’s environmental awareness. Looking to expand his own awareness, Mr. McAlpin participated in the 2018 Steinbeck Institute, a program which, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, explores much of the life and work of renowned author John Steinbeck. Most celebrated for his literary treasure Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck also kept a keen eye to ecology. The program, which has also been held in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013, is broken up into two core parts. The institute’s first part focuses primarily on Steinbeck as an author, allowing participants to fully immerse themselves in his literary endeavors. While Mr. McAlpin had much experience with Steinbeck’s work ahead of time, he described the re-reading process as “amazing,” adding “Steinbeck is for me the greatest of our American writers – flawed to be sure but the scope of his ambition and vision and sense of what it is to be American is second to none.” The second part, however, examines Steinbeck’s work as an ecologist, a side of his life in which he often collaborated with Edward F. Ricketts, a prominent American Marine biologist and philosopher. Commenting on the relationship between Steinbeck and Ricketts, Mr. McAlpin observed, “These people were of very different disciplines but the time they spent together influencing one another was important for each of their developments and intellectual achievements.” Mr. McAlpin’s three weeks in the 2018 Steinbeck institute afforded him a unique and exciting opportunity to study the life of a man who, in addition to having a celebrated writing career, earned himself a Nobel Prize and a United States Medal of Freedom. Furthermore, the Steinbeck Institute fostered invaluable friendships: “Professor’s Gilly and Shillinglaw (husband and wife) are new friends and I know I will be seeing them again in the future.” Mr. McAlpin returned with wonderful photos (shown below) documenting many of the program’s field studies in the Salinas Valley region, giving a glimpse of the tremendous impact which they had on him. Several of Mr. McAlpin’s most memorable field studies included touring the Red Pony Ranch, hiking Point Lobos, whale watching, dissecting a Humboldt Squid, eating lunch at the Steinbeck family’s house, and touring Edward Ricketts’ lab. Finally, reflecting upon his experience as a whole, an experience he feels benefited greatly from its incorporation of “people of very different backgrounds and perspectives,” Mr. McAlpin revealed that, to him, “The challenges these men and women face and the energy, creativity, and heart they give their students made them the heroes of this experience for me. I am indebted to them and in awe of their efforts on behalf of the nation-building that needs to begin at home.”

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Jackson Stone ‘19 Wins Two Gold Medals at CanAmMex Regatta

In early June, The Panel chronicled rising Senior Jackson Stone’s invitation to the exclusive USA U19 Men’s National Team Selection and Training Camp in Chula Vista, California, where he and 70 of the top U19 rowers in the country striving for a spot on the US team which will compete in the Junior World Championships this summer. In his first week at the camp, Jackson described being slightly starstruck by his surroundings. “It’s really quite humbling to see the caliber and strength of the rowers here,” Jackson said. “Among me are people who have won world championships, who have world record times in the ergometer, and lightweights that put the 6’6, 230-pound rowers to shame.” After weeks of demanding training, Jackson has added a milestone of his own to his impressive crew career, winning two gold medals, one in the Eight-man boat race and one in the Pairs, at the CanAmMex Regatta in Mexico City. Jackson, with the stars and stripes emblazoned on his back, beat out top crews from Canada and Mexico as well as his fellow Americans to secure the top spot. As the upcoming captain of the crew team, he hopes to lead Belmont Hill back to the NEIRA title. Congratulations to Jackson and good luck to him for the rest of the summer!


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Jalen Walker ‘21 Completes Three-Week Arabic Course

Following up on an academic passion, rising Sophomore Jalen Walker ‘21 wrapped up a three-week course at the Arabic Summer Academy in Boston in which he began to learn the Arabic language. Jalen’s interest follows the lead of recent graduate John Markis ‘18, who took an Arabic class last summer. “I had never thought about ever seriously learning Arabic,” reflected Jalen. But after a semester of World Issues brought out a “deep interest in the Middle East,” Jalen leaped at the opportunity introduced to him by his teacher, Ms. Zener. Jalen said he found his venture into the language, which reads from right to left instead of the standard left to right, to be a difficult adjustment: “In the Arabic language there is a completely different alphabet, writing system, and letters that don’t correspond to sounds we normally make in English. However, once you get the hang of memorizing the letters and their sounds it is not as challenging to continue learning.”

Jalen’s unique experience learning the language provides numerous opportunities. Spoken by 420 million people in more than nineteen countries, Arabic holds both historical and geopolitical significance. Jalen says he “definitely [plans]” to develop his new skill by traveling to the Middle East and exploring rich new cultures. He hopes to study abroad in Jordan next summer through the NSLI-Y exchange program but says if that plan falls through he will still go back to the Arabic Summer Academy next year to take the level two course.

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