New School Year, New Me

Updates in School’s Schedule Changes Students

By Ariela Cohen (‘21)

A sea of San Diego Jewish Academy students smiled from ear to ear as soon as they received the news of the permanent late start. “This past year I got so much homework and had so many activities outside of school,” Alex Waiss (‘21) states, “however, now with school starting at 8:20 a.m. instead of 8:00 a.m. it helped me have a better experience at school.” This year SDJA implemented various changes which have created a better, fresher, and easier environment to successfully progress through the Maimonides Upper School. Mrs. Hansen, a humanities teacher, is enjoying the new schedule, saying “I just want my students to be happy.”

Samantha Veinbergs (‘21) also likes the new schedule. “I feel refreshed and more awake during my classes,” she said. “I know that it’s only twenty minutes, but it’s more than you think!” The additional time is helping students focus in their classes as well as be better organized. Ana Gerson (‘21) added, “I don’t understand how the seniors and juniors went through sophomore year without this extra time.”

Students aren’t the only ones that enjoy the later starts. Mrs. Hansen states, “It has enabled a calmer start to the day and it also seems like the days are less frantic.”

Another change the school made was taking a few minutes off of Minyan. Maiya Hirshhorn (‘20) explained, “Last year I felt like it was too long. As it would come close to the end of Minyan, I could tell students were dozing off. It’s a change the school certainly needed and I’m glad they made it.”



      Photo: Nicole Dondisch (‘21)              Photo: Ariela Cohen (‘21) 

However, not all these changes left every student feeling happier to be at school. To accommodate for the late start, there are now three POD periods a week rather than four. This upset many students, who complained about not having enough time to meet with teachers or get work done. “Most students are complaining about the new POD schedule,” Kelsey Grolman (‘21) commented. “At the beginning, I didn’t like it either,” she says. “However, now I think that this year, with these POD limitations, I have learned how to manage my time better.” Parker Goodman (‘21) agrees. He doesn’t like the schedule because, “If you have a test on Tuesday, you have to ask teachers questions on Thursday the previous week.”

Overall, the changes to the daily routine have helped students have a better school experience. Shaye Youngleson (‘20) comments that it has been “a new school year, and a new me.”

Students in AP Studio Art Take on Human Surrealism

By Tali Gold (’20)

This November, the AP Studio Art class took on the task of creating either a 2D or hand-drawn representation of Human Surrealism. Their assignment was to transform the human form into something inhuman.

The AP Studio Art class offers professional freedom to all of its students by providing a topic and then allowing the creativity to flow as students venture out into realms of the imagination. “Most of the students have a background in art,” says Tali Eichner (‘20), “there’s a lot more adventuring that we can do because you have all of the basic platforms and you can find what your strengths and weaknesses are. With those strengths, you can choose to pursue it.”

The Human Surrealism project was one that forced students to think critically. They selected two aspects, one of the human body and one of their own choosing, and combined them to create a new idea. When asked what she thought of the assignment, Maiya Hirschhorn (‘20) answered by saying that it “allowed me to be creative in a very different way. I was able to take different body parts, different animals, and different things in general and make them my own.”


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“Heart Air Balloon” Photo: Alice Vilenski (‘20)

All of the students took different approaches when conveying their interpretation of the assignment. Alice Vilenski (‘20), a drawing student, drew a “heart air balloon,” saying that love, along with the hot air balloons that are constantly floating near her house inspired her to create this drawing.

On the other side of the class’ spectrum, Tali Eichner, a 2D student, created an “exposed spine” on Tali Gold (‘20) by using body paint to create realistic skeletal imagery on her face and throat. She was inspired by the recent Halloween festivities. “I tried to do it on myself and failed.” she said, “so when Ms. Nebo assigned this project, I thought I would go ahead and try it on someone else.”

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“Exposed Spine” Photo: Tali Eichner (‘20)

Each of the students had different inspiration for their projects. Ana Gerson (‘21) used Photoshop to superimpose an image of Froot Loops onto a photo of Ilan Leisorek to represent his brain. Gerson got the idea for her project from a phrase she has heard her father use: Tienes Frooti Loopis en vez de cerebro, which means “You’ve got Froot Loops instead of brains!” Other student artists, like Maiya Hirschhorn (‘20), also drew on personal inspiration. She chose to depict a lion with hands as its mane because her father used to call her his “lion” due to her big, curly hair.

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The President’s brain on Froot Loops Photo by Ana Gerson (’21)

All of the students’ colorful responses to the Human Surrealism project offer a fine demonstration of how AP Studio Art gives aspiring artists an opportunity to think outside the box and express themselves in brand new ways. People interested in seeing more of these brilliant works are invited to attend SDJA’s annual Showcase Night on February 24, 2018. Hope to see you there!

Do You Have a Pet Lion?

SDJA students discuss their South African connections

By Dalia Benson ’19

At the tip of the African continent lies the beautiful Republic of South Africa. After World War II, many South Africans left home and ventured to San Diego and several of them are students at San Diego Jewish Academy. South African student Kelsey Grollman (‘21) states, “most of my memories are of my house, my family, my friends, and my school.” Despite South Africa’s beautiful landscape and culture, there are some flaws to the nation. Grollman provides an example, stating, “I enjoy living in San Diego because it is much safer. I like feeling safe and secure going to bed at night. I also like being able to go out with friends, without my parents by my side.” Despite the fact that there are many South African students at SDJA, most students know little to nothing about this beautiful country.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 3.08.07 PMViews from the Peak of Table Mountain. Photo: Dalia Benson (‘19)

When asked about South Africa, juniors Alan Esses (‘19) and Joshua Barforough (‘19), say that the country makes them think of poverty, a corrupt government, and the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Alan continues, stating “I think that South Africa has beautiful landscapes and amazing Safari.”

Junior Moriah Seymann (‘19) says, “A few years ago I did not know much about South Africa, I just associated the African continent with poverty. I thought of starving kids. I now know more people from South Africa, I also have seen pictures of the streets and homes and it does not look the way I imagined.” she continues, “I also know that at traffic lights people wash your car windows for money, it seems to be a place filled with a unique, rare culture.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 3.08.26 PMThe Beauty of Blyde River Canyon. Photo: Dalia Benson (‘19)

Maya Sharf (‘19) thinks “people live in huts and that there are really cool animals [in South Africa.]” she continues adding, “I am also sure that there is great nature and wildlife to see over there.” Josh Nachassi (‘19) says, “South Africans are genuinely nice people, they also have really awesome accents.”

Do you have a pet lion? Did you live in a house? Why are you white? Do you speak the click language? These are the questions several South Africa students were asked when they first moved to San Diego. “They are just asked out of curiosity, it is actually kind of funny and fun to answer them,” states freshman Geena Benson (‘21).

Despite some of the stereotypical images SDJA students associate with South Africa, what they don’t see are the beautiful mountain ranges, the great Indian and Atlantic coast line that stretches for 1,600 miles, and the amazing culture and tradition.

In-n-Out vs. Shake Shack: The Burger Battle

 By Joseph Vilenski (‘19)

West coast, “best” coast, East coast, “beast” coast. The iconic struggle between the East and West Coasts can be traced back to the 90’s with the legendary Death Row Records which represented Tupac Shakur, and Bad Boy Records which produced Notorious B.I.G. Although this rivalry turned violent and quite tragic, the beef today between the two seashores is enclosed by buns and is drenched with a “secret” sauce. This clash has materialized into the In-n-Out versus Shake Shack battle.

Recently, Shake Shack has forced itself into California at the Westfield Mall of University Town Center, and while many San Diego Jewish Academy students are willing to give it a try, most know that it can never become part of what  Jose Galicot (‘19) calls the “Cali vibe.” He also says that when he walked into Shake Shack “something just didn’t feel right.” He describes Shake Shack as “just there” and with “no good vibes.”

In-N-Out has been notoriously known to be “the perfect way to end the night”, as Sion Memun (‘19) puts it. There’s nothing better than eating a decadent and juicy burger after a long night out. The decorum of In-N-Out adds to this feeling as the familiar bright reds and yellows, and the 1950’s diner themed aura would give any Californian a comfortable, homey feeling. “Everyone there has the same mentality,” Sion states, “to have fun and have a good meal”.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 2.54.46 PMIn-N-Out’s signature Double-Double and crispy fries. Picture credits: Silvia Galante (18’)

In war terms, one could describe the In-N-Out burger as Machiavelli, willing to break the rules to get what it wants, while the Shackburger would be Sun Tzu, determined to follow certain rules to get the best results. As Shake Shack declares on its website, “sourcing high-quality natural ingredients, cooking food to order, and placing a major emphasis on the happiness of its customers and employees” are the keys to a great burger.

The war begins on the battlefield called the tongue. The intricate and nuanced Double-Double, “Animal Style” Cheeseburger, which Jack Hanlon (‘21) describes as “just better,” strikes first with its toasted buns and crisp lettuce, cut into triangles, that provide a satisfying crunch, while the simplistic Shackburger, which Mia Hansen (‘20) calls “original and different,” fights back with a pillowy and supple bun that gives the burger  a softer bite than the competition’s burger. The melty, bright yellow American cheese and the “secret” sauce (mayonnaise, ketchup, relish and vinegar) add a layer of smooth creaminess to the “Animal Style” burger, but the ShackBurger’s sharp American cheese and “shacksauce” (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, dill pickle brine, and cayenne pepper) highlight the level of the burger’s creaminess.

The cavalry, also known as the patty, is Shake Shack’s best army unit. It is made up of a blend of first-rate, natural meats, whose quality can be tasted from the first bite, hence the more expensive price ($8.09), while an In-N-Out Double-Double is cheaper ($3.45). However, the secret to the success of the In-N-Out patty is the light brush of yellow mustard as it cooks, that gives the meat a nice, flavorful, but overlooked crispiness. The brown, finely chopped, caramelized onions insert a bed of sweetness into the burger, while the pickles, (the most underrated part of a good cheeseburger), give it a much needed acidity and crunch. In response, the Shackburger employs fresh and juicy and colorful, plum tomatoes.

For Californians, In-N-Out is clearly the victor, as the refined burger and the familiar setting, “hit the sweet spot” as Jack Hanlon (‘21) puts it. However, only time will tell who the national winner is. On the other hand, though, Whataburger, a popular Southern and Midwestern burger chain, has inserted itself in this burger battle, and its defeat is only possible if the East and the West join forces, and so as Sun Tzu said, “It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.”