Category Archives: Tech

Gadgets and essentials

iPads for the Future

Kayla Preston ‘17 | Staff Writer |

There is an iPad trend in the Bishop McNamara community, with students and teachers using it for educational purposes. This idea has been incorporated by teachers into their daily class lectures and discussions, but has it helped?

iPads come with bluetooth capability, which allows keyboards and other devices to be synced, including televisions, speakers, and even classroom projectors. While some are concerned that iPads will replace the need for books, magazines, and even newspapers, support for the iPad in school appears to be strong among students.

Many students point to benefits in speed, familiarity, and convenience, believing the possession of iPads will allow them to contact teachers regularly and bring fewer books home in the afternoon.

“The use of iPads will help benefit us because we’d need less books, carry less weight, and be able to email teachers homework assignments and to ask them anything when needed,” Jaylin Bolden ‘17 said.

Some students believe the device will help prepare students for a changing world. Dana Hentz ‘17 said, “iPads will be good for the future because as the world is becoming more technologically advanced, so should the school.”

Other students believe incorporating iPads will speed things up in the Bishop McNamara community. “The computers we have in classrooms and in the library are slow and having your own iPad will help get work done faster,” said Temesghen Tesfay ‘17.

The teachers’ iPads are currently provided and maintained by the school and have beneficial apps already downloaded on them which most teachers enjoy and use.

“They are a useful tool in the classroom, but should be used judicially just as any other tools,” said Ms. Jan Steeger, a science teacher at Bishop McNamara

Ms. Ashley Graham, an  IT teacher, said “I love them and feel they are a great asset to the class. I like the visual material, especially for graphing and it helps my students understand better.”

Within McNamara, the addition of iPads may not just benefit students but also help teachers in their daily class routines. Technology itself has arguably benefited mankind greatly, and if this is true, iPads aren’t any different.

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Increased Security Measures Seen Around School

One of the school's three security guards, known by the student body as Anthony, lets students standing under the canopy know that it is safe to cross the parking lot at the crosswalk. Ensuring the safety of all students in the parking lot before and afterschool is one of the major jobs of our security guards. (Megan Ardovini '13/STAMPEDE)

Automatic gate and more security guards have stepped up school security in 2012

Megan Ardovini ‘13 | News Editor

Bishop McNamara is seeing increased attention given to the security of the school and the safety of its campus. There is a new automatic gate in the back parking lot, a greater amount of security guards on campus as compared to last year, and plans for setting up more cameras around the school.

According to Mr. Reginald Brady, the administrator who oversees school security, plans to increase our school safety have been talked about and in the works for a while. Although both the gate and increased security guards have occurred this school year, they have been considered for a while before. Recently, we have had some problems regarding car safety and thefts of personal property, primarily in the Mount Calvary and Union parking lots. Mr. Brady said this did not cause our increased security, but rather pushed us to “jump to it” faster.

“We reinforce security because it is an issue wherever you are,” Mr. Brady said. “Schools everywhere should be concerned about security.”

Each day there are two to three security guards on campus making rounds, securing the perimeters, patrolling all three parking lots, and reinforcing school polices. One of our newest security guards, Ms. Felicia Calloway, has been here since the beginning of the year. Usually Ms. Calloway works at apartment complexes, but she enjoys the change in atmosphere that McNamara gives her. She sees no real threat from the area surrounding McNamara, and does not anticipate any future incidents occurring now that greater security measures are in place.

“[Our] main concern is people who are not supposed to be here getting on campus,” said Mr. Brady. The new automatic security gate addresses this major concern because unlike the old gate, this new improvement only allows people already on the school property to get out, but not anyone from the outside get in.

For some students like Corey Snowden ’14, security never crosses their mind. Having transferred to McNamara in early November of this year from a public high school, Snowden says there are less security features here than were present around his old school, which he attributes to the fewer amount of incidents and threats our community has seen.

When asked whether he felt safe at his school, Ben Hartmann ’12 immediately said, “Of course. We are stepping up the security in the form of guards.” For Kevin McKeown ’12, security is “not a worry” mostly because of the presence of security guards on the campus as well as the new automatic gate in the rear of the school building. The automatic gate system is a good idea because “no unwanted guests can get in,” said Coye Gerald ’12. The overall consensus of students is that they do in fact feel safe here at McNamara.

“Young Lady Are You Sexting?!”

The Supreme Court Attempts to take action against the teen trend of “Sexting”.

Annie Czecha ’10 Opinion Editor

Recently, a teenage trend has many parents, teachers, and government officials worried. “Sexting” is the act of sending nude or revealing pictures between minors that are often paired with suggestive words and descriptive wording of inappropriate acts. According to a survey by the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “roughly 20 percent of teens admit to participating in ‘sexting.'”

My biggest concern is that minors are sending these pictures out into the cyber world which qualifies as child pornography. This is where the government becomes worried. In Maryland alone, sexting can result in charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and creation, possession and distribution of child pornography. Many concerned parents are petitioning for a law that is constructed to handle sexting directly rather than as a form of child pornography. An article on UPI.com highlights Parry Aftab in Pittsburgh who is fighting for the supreme court to make a law that directly deals with sexting. “You get a slap on the wrist … or you go to jail and your life is ruined,” Aftab said. Currently, no specific laws have been created, however, the supreme court is trying to figure out how to handle all of the charges.

Many teens are caught off guard when they are informed that sending such suggestive pictures can be considered a felony, and they can be placed upon the sex offender list for the rest of their life. Sadly, because of how common it is, teens are rarely aware that this felony is also considered child pornography. In the case of Hope Witsell, a thirteen year old girl living in Tampa Florida sexting proved to be more than exchanging pictures. She was so mentally exhausted and hurt after a picture had been spread around the school that she took her own life. The Supreme Court will have a hard time discerning which accounts can be looked into because of the way the phones are registered. Viewing of these accounts will walk the fine line of being a invasion of privacy and the protection of minors.

It is very apparent that this not only is illegal but degrades all whom take part in it. In general, this “sexting” is a much bigger problem than the abuse of cell phones. Not because it is a form of child pornography, but it can distort relationships and put even more pressure on body image for all people involved. A relationship is more likely to become physically based and sexually active because of this change in our culture. It is a good thing that the government is finally taking action in this epidemic, but sexting is much more complex than sending and receiving suggestive images.

Facebook Changes Default Settings

Facebook’s mission is to make it easier for people to find each other on the web, but what if you don’t want to be found?

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by Brandi Bottalico ’10
News Editor

If you woke up on Wednesday, December 9th and did not change your personalized Facebook privacy settings, then much of your information became available to anyone who has access to a Facebook. Facebook has changed its default privacy settings to include not only the name, hometown, and profile picture of Facebook users, but also all photos and videos on users’ walls.

According to Facebook’s “A Guide to Privacy on Facebook” (Dec. 14) the privacy settings were changed in order to make it easier for people to connect. Yet it seems as if the new settings sacrifice users’ privacy for this goal. The new default settings have become more lenient, encouraging users to share their profiles with a broader viewing audience, whereas before Facebook tended to stick to the safer side. This new Facebook is a part of a fundamental shift in the way users share personal information.

Previously Facebook asked users to join networks, which have now become inconvenient to users due to their large memberships. Facebook now groups people into three categories: “friends,” “friends of friends” and “everyone.” The new default allows for friends of friends to view almost everything on your page, including photos, videos, comments, wall posts, picture comments, friends list and basic information. The only thing it seems to limit is the ability to comment on a user’s page. The same amount of information is shown to users who share no mutual friends, unless you are a minor. In that case, only “friends of friends” and “friends” can view information such as your wall posts, status updates and photos.

(Click for info on how to change settings.)
When you go to change your privacy settings, make sure you access the drop down menu and select the appropriate settings for each type of information. (Click for example.) Also, photo albums have separate settings that you must change for each album.

To test the way that users have adapted to the new privacy settings, The Stampede chose 25 random Bishop McNamara students to see whether these default settings had been detected and changed. Out of the 25 students, 22 had profiles revealing photos, videos, wall-to-wall comments, notes and date of birth, to users who were not friends, but shared at least one mutual friend.

Although the privacy settings now start very broad, they can be tweaked to fit the needs of users more accurately. Recently Facebook created an individual setting for every time something new is posted. This allows you to specify who is able to view each post, overriding your default. The lock below each post indicates where to choose exactly who you would like to include and exclude.

Facebook’s new changes have made it more versatile, but users must learn how to adjust their settings to fit their needs. Now, Aunty Cindy doesn’t have to read that status about how mad you are at your parents. And those embarrassing family photos from last Christmas can stay in the family.

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Brandi will be writing a follow-up story to this piece.  If you have any questions, comments, or stories to share, please email her — get.trampled[at]gmail.com

Thanksgiving: Turkey, Stuffing, Pumpkin pie, and… E-learning?

Students Test Distance Learning (eLearning) in Virtual Classes

by Megan Ardovini ’13
Staff Writer

Nothing gets a high school student more excited than an extra two days off school. On Nov. 23rd and 24th, students had two extra days added to their Thanksgiving break.

Was it a break from having to go to the school itself? Yes. Was it a break from the school work? No.

WHY eLEARNING?

Flooding in McNamara was the cause for our ten-day Thanksgiving break. On Oct. 7th, Principal Marco Clark sent a notice to the Bishop McNamara community to inform them of the repairs. But most likely, it was the headline “School Closure on November 23rd and 24th,” or the bold, underlined sentence in the middle of the page (“the school will be closed on Monday, November 23rd and Tuesday, November 24th) that stole their attention. In all of their excitement over the new prospects available over Thanksgiving break, some may have failed to read down to the third paragraph where Mr. Clark states that in an effort to not lose the two instructional days, distance learning, also known as E-learning, would take place. He also informed us of the reason for the school closure; major underground water leaking necessitated that the water be turned off throughout the entire building for repairs to begin on Nov. 23rd and and to be concluded no later than the end of that week. With the intention of maintaining the 23rd and 24th as days of instruction, the administration decided to initiate distance learning to be available to teachers to stay on track in their classes.

EXPECTATIONS

With the spread of the H1N1 concerning many schools in the DC metropolitan area, the school board wanted to prepare the administration for the possibility of a long term closure due to this influenza or other catastrophic event. The distance learning that took place on the 23rd and 24th was a “test run” of sorts that was meant to show if the school could sustain a distance learning program in the case of a unexpected closure.

The administration hoped that this would serve as a way to reveal the weaknesses of the program as well as what needed to be altered to better accommodate the students and teachers. Some confusion was expected when trying E-learning for the first time, but it was a great chance to learn more about this process that may be of great use in the future.

Not only would online learning keep us from getting behind in our work, but it will also teach us how to use new types of technology. With so many programs out there at our finger tips, it would strongly benefit us to learn how to use them.Teachers were not required to administer online assignments or projects, and many chose to the stick to the packets, book work, or papers. Yet, some teachers were excited to try the new technologies available to them, and discovered a variety of new sites and programs available to utilize. The Assistant Principal for Academics, Mindi Imes de Duclos said, “[Distance Learning] challenges teachers to try something new and keeps the students on track with their content so they don’t fall behind.”

Principal Marco Clark tells us, “This is not meant to be a burden over your Thanksgiving break.” Yet as expected, some students feel that it would prove itself to be a hassle anyway. Daniel Deplata III ’13 says, “Break should be for sleeping and relaxing.” Many students feel the same way. The truth of the matter is we had two extra days off. Although students are asked to complete work on these two days, administration did not expect them to spend the same amount of hours in front of a computer as they would in a classroom. “[It is] a way to still learn, even though not all of us are together,” said Mrs. Imes de Duclos.

SO, HOW WAS IT?

Upon returning from Thanksgiving, students had mixed feelings about the distance learning assignments they had just completed. Generally, most students felt that there was too much work assigned. “It didn’t feel like a vacation for me with all the work,” says Michelle Anne dela Paz ’12.

Some could even be heard saying they would have rather been in school for those two days. Some believe less work would have had to be done if they were in class opposed to at home on break. Either way, we would have had to complete some form of work on those two days. The distance learning that took place was in lieu of these two full days of school that we missed. Students were not asked to do work all break or to alter their Thanksgiving plans because of this work either.

When an informal survey was conducted, the result was that roughly one-third of the teachers actually assigned an online assignment. The other two-thirds of the teachers assigned packets, papers, take home tests, book work, or other miscellaneous assignments. Colleen Fleming ’10 makes a good point when saying, “Effectiveness depends on whether people actually did it.”

Although it will take a little more time to discover whether this process to maintain these instructional days was successful, it was a great way to discover how a system like this would work, and now we can go from there. Mrs. Imes de Duclos reminds us, “You can always get better at something.”

Are Wii Fit?

Megan Timms ’11
Staff Writer

Photo Illustration by Jacqueline Wills '10 and Thomas Ingle '10, Photo Editor and Staff Writer / Images from Nintendo Co.
Photo Illustration by Jacqueline Wills '10 and Thomas Ingle '10, Photo Editor and Staff Writer / Images from Nintendo Co.

Technology has taken yet another step towards our wildest dreams with Nintendo’s recent release of the Wii Fit, a video game that helps players lose weight.

Could this take the place of the hard work and exercise that many Americans have grown to hate? Upon arrival there were many disbelievers, but those that have experienced the Wii Fit say otherwise.

“It’s really fun and addictive but its a workout!” said Kirsten Lawrence ’11.

Wii Fit features body analysis programs that keep track of a player’s heart rate, calories burned, and energy exposure. In fact, sports medicine professionals at the University of Maryland are testing to see if this new gaming technology could provide alternative methods of rehabilitation. They have discovered that this gaming device could serve as an inexpensive aide for their athletes as its strength exercises provide a full body workout.

The Wii may not be a very good training tool if you are planning to run a marathon, but it may be ideal for nursing a minor injury, recreation, or to simply get an extra workout.

Players create a character, called a Mii, and then stand on a board that weighs them, helps them balance, and monitors their performance during a game. Then, they do different exercises that tells them how old they are compared to their actual age, based on how well they performed.

So if you’re 16 but out of shape, you might be told you’re 80 years old. Based on your health, it helps you find exercises to improve your score.

Not everyone is a fan. Eric Darnell ’12 said “I have played it, but I don’t like it because it’s an inside thing. It feels like it’s for people who are too lazy to go outside and exercise.”

And according to Garrett Tucker ’13, users may not be getting the workout they think. “Someone may use it in the wrong way, not the workout intended, so they don’t get the workout.”

The majority of the people interviewed did not know about the Wii Fit or care for it, because of other video game devices that they already have. Will the Wii Fit be as successful in the teens perspective? As of now it is up in the air, but with advances within the gaming industry to come, it’s highly debatable when teens will give up their remotes to get into shape.

Eyes Around the School

Brandi Bottalico ’10
Staff Reporter
Feel like you’re being watched? You could almost swear that the eyes of that statue of Bishop McNamara were just following you? Well, no worries — the school’s security isn’t invasive and doesn’t subtract from the enjoyment of our building. Due to recent security breaches, the administrative board has decided to take some precautionary steps to tighten up the security. There is now a mass of metal fixed above the door frame between the beginning of the concourse and the morning entrance hall. This security gate is the beginning of the process of advancing the school’s safety.
Soon, another security gate will be added in Holy Cross Hall. Another brand new accommodation is LED lights, to be added within the next three weeks, in the front and back of the school in order to illuminate the parking areas. Lastly, there are security cameras in room 306 currently undergoing testing. “We are testing them to see whether they will be beneficial to us or not,” stated William Cassidy, IT Coordinator. The results of this testing will determine whether or not the cameras are to be added. These improvements are being drawn from consultation of a recently hired safety expert who took a walk through our school and made security recommendations.

These new features are in addition to a highly effective alarm system, the outdoor gates that don’t allow intruders in, and also the cameras that are already installed and monitored from the main office. President Heather Gossart says, “Don’t be reactive people, be proactive people.”  In fact, she says that preventative measures are taken in almost every decision, from the flower pots in front of the school to the disability accessible features. Believe it or not, the large concrete pots that hold flowers in front of the building are not just for aesthetic purposes — they actually act as a boundary between students and the cars, in the event that a car goes astray.