Eight times each year, the members of Kelly Hamburger and Carmen Pagan-Colon’s newspaper club at Beacon High School publish Breaking Beacon, the first student-run publication at the school in more than 30 years. Here, we share some of their work.
Reporters: Rachel Thorne (editor), Nadeen Ahmed, Sophia Campagiorni, Jacob DiNoble, Rubio Castagna Torres, Jonathan Echevarria, Evan Lombardi, Skhy Morris, Annabelle Notarthomas, Mikaela Sanchez, Kayla Selander, Brandon Soria
Teacher of the Month: Ms. Nesha
By Rubio Castagna Torres
Nesha Prahaladsingh is one of the three chemistry teachers at Beacon High School. She has been teaching at Beacon since 2018.
Mrs. Nesha was born in Trinidad and Tobago, a small country in the south of the Caribbean, where she lived with her mother after her parents divorced. In her teens, she moved to Canada to live with her father and attended the University of Toronto.
She was driven to move to New York after meeting her husband online while playing a video game, and she ended up completing college at Mount Saint Mary College. She was originally a biology major but fell in love with chemistry. Mrs. Nesha has taken almost all the chemistry courses one can take and finds it intriguing and interesting.
Mrs. Nesha shared in an interview that her favorite part about teaching is being able to meet and interact with new students every year.
According to her students, she is always attentive and ready to answer a question during class time, and eager to chat with students. Her students say that one of her most admirable traits is being able to stay calm and positive, no matter the situation.
Her advice to high school students is that things “won’t always go your way. Just keep your goal in mind and keep doing your best because things will be OK, even if your plans fall apart.”
Sudden Change in DCC Policy
By Rachel Thorne
A sudden change in Dutchess Community College policy earlier this year caught students and parents by surprise.
The long-dreaded update from college officials hit the high school on Jan. 10 with confirmation of a newly implemented charge for students enrolled in DCC classes, beginning in fall 2023.
These fees, while still amounting to only about a third of the price that full-time college students pay for the classes, threaten to serve as a barrier for students interested in taking higher-level courses. The fees amount to about $70 a credit, or $210 for a three-credit course such as pre-calculus and $420 for a six-credit course such as Calculus BC.
Dutchess Community College credits are transferable to a wide range of colleges. Previously, these classes were free for all students, allowing them to graduate high school with almost a full year of college credits.
Almost 46 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged and this change effectively creates a separation between students able to afford the classes and participate, and those whose families may struggle. This creates a dramatic disconnect and a policy that favors students more economically lucky.
Resistance from the students and community was swift and hopeful. Several members of the school board protested before the Jan. 10 announcement, including student representatives Harsh Gupta and Ari Carmona, who advocated the reduction or reversal of the policy.
Officials from DCC claim that this act will keep the school in line with state laws. A representative said the change was in response to a new State University of New York mandate, and the change is legal, although not required. Whatever the reasoning, this unwelcome change threatens the fairness of student access to high-level courses and alters the fabric of education at Beacon High School.
Video Game Design Class Makes Debut
By Evan Lombardo
The video game industry has seen an exponential increase in market size over the past decade, reaching $107 billion in 2023, according to Statistica.
Growth in local schools is also visible, especially at Beacon High School. The 2022-23 school year brought multiple new courses, including a video game design class taught by James Corbett.
The curriculum revolves around the basic ideas and strategies used in creating a game, as well as history lessons with older gaming systems. The class is hands-on, with students using consoles made by top companies like Microsoft.
Esports at BHS
By Brandon Soria
Christina Alvarez is the first esports coach at Beacon High School. The esports team was formed in spring 2022. It competes in three games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rocket League and Madden 23.
Any student can join. There are 20 spots available on the roster, and 10 players so far. The team competes against other high schools in Dutchess County, such as Arlington, John Jay, Ketcham, Webutuck and Millbrook. Rombout Middle School in Beacon and Orville A. Todd Middle School in Poughkeepsie are also in the league.
There are a lot of New York colleges that have esports management programs and scout senior players.
When asked about what the class means for the industry as a whole and for students interested in pursuing game design as a career, Corbett said, “It’s an incredibly forward-thinking class on the part of Beacon High School. They were smart to invest in it as early as they did.”
Another future path aside from game design is esports, which has made its own niche in the gaming industry. Competitive gaming has always been a part of gaming, but now we are seeing it as more of a professional sport than just a fun opportunity for fans.
Last year, an esports team was created at Beacon High School and now is holding its own Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament (see accompanying story). The winner receives a new controller and a chance at making it on the team. “With the level of talent we have in this school, I’m surprised [a tournament] hasn’t happened sooner,” Corbett said.
Multiple Beacon High School teachers have signed up for the tournament, including Corbett, who says his students “all want a piece of yours truly … Being in my position it’s just good to set a nice example for something they can achieve — even though they will never beat me.”
Freshmen vs. Seniors
By Nadeen Ahmed and Kayla Selander
Is it harder being a freshman or senior? Some might argue that as a freshman, you have to make all the right choices to build the base for the rest of your high school career: One wrong move can affect your future as a whole. They could also say that seniors can get an early release or late arrival while freshmen don’t even get the choice.
Others might say that seniors have to worry about college and SATs and have to take harder classes. Who better to answer this question than freshmen and seniors?
Freshman Samiha Golden said: “Academically, seniors have a harder time because everyone considers them to have it so easy, but that’s only in comparison to their junior year. But it’s still a lot harder than ninth grade. At the end of the year we have more work and they don’t, but still, the overall work is harder. It’s also stressful getting a college application.”
Senior Lina Ahmed agreed that seniors have it worse. “Most classes you take if you are on the honors course is going to be a DCC or AP class, so you get more work.” In addition, “freshmen don’t usually do varsity sports; JV schedules aren’t as demanding as varsity schedules are.”
But, Lina added, “you’re probably asking the wrong person; you have to ask someone who doesn’t have a full schedule.”
So is it easier being a freshman or senior? According to Samiha and Lina, it is easier being a freshman. What do you think?