Gilman Class of 2011 Valedictory Speech

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Mr. McBride, Mr. Schmick, Ms. Turner, faculty, family, friends and distinguished classmates, T.S. Eliot wrote, “only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” While Eliot may not have been directly addressing the Gilman class of 2011, his quotation certainly defines the character of our class. Since I started Gilman in sixth grade, our class has always carried a bit of an infamous reputation. It might be fair to say that we’ve been a little rebellious. We’ve walked the line between hubris and confidence and, well, we’ve frequently crossed that line.

Yes, we have pushed the envelope and at times gone too far. But as Eliot writes, we can only discover our true potential if we are willing to dare. What Eliot neglects to mention, however, is that daring is only half the picture. What is just as important is learning from when one has gone too far. Now, I don’t think that there is anyone in this audience who can say that the class of 2011 never risked going too far. Let’s take a look: Due to an abundance of class spirit, we single-handedly made all artificial noisemakers banned from MIAA sporting events after we deafened the opposition with vuvuzelas and a vintage crank air raid siren. Under Austin and Joe’s leadership and Sam’s spirit, we came out in record numbers to support the volleyball team, though at times with too much baby powder in an attempt to imitate Lebron James. Perhaps our greatest measure of school spirit is manifest at this very moment…this is the first year when we actually have complete attendance at graduation.

The beauty of this year’s graduating class is not solely based on the success of its students, as wonderfully talented as they may be. What defines this class is how we refused to accept infamy, and how we not only dared to make mistakes during our earlier years but how we learned and matured from these mistakes. That youthful exuberance that so keenly characterizes our class never waned. Rather, we learned to channel that energy towards class solidarity as exhibited during our senior retreat. 

This year we grew just as much as individuals as a class. Our accomplishments are not limited to school spirit either. In sports, our class came together, bringing home championships in lacrosse, track, and soccer to name a few. I also read in The Sun that Darius is pretty good at football. Academically, Byerly took the It’s Ac team back to another state championship match, Sam Davidoff-Gore won the Best Delegate Award at Model UN and oh don’t forget Prewitt isn’t too bad with a calculator. Artistically, Snouffer, Flaks and the rest of the cast kept audiences howling during a wonderful musical performance, while the artwork of Griffin, Sam, Elliot and Allan made our halls a daily pleasure to walk through. Gi mobilized the troops in his countless lunches for the homeless and Christopher’s Place campaigns, and Drew introduced us to The Wounded Warrior Project. Seniors, you really stepped up this year. Such success may have been unthinkable when we were freshmen. But it was through taking chances and then channeling this brimming energy that we have had such a successful senior year.

We are the ones that tested boundaries more “thoroughly” than others. But we too are the ones who never gave up on ourselves. We could have left Gilman in a couple of ways: at war with the administration, divided among ourselves, the same as when we entered. But instead we learned from our mistakes. We did not lose our identity, we did not conform or sell out but we learned. There was no pivotal, cataclysmic moment when the light switch turned on and we became the young men you see today. We did not transform over night; rather, we grew over four years. Our grade has a remarkable trait, which has fostered this growth, and that is our inherent energy. 

And if there is one accomplishment that symbolizes and encapsulates our class’ development and character, it is the lacrosse semifinals. Supposedly we played a pretty good game. Ryan and Connor, you may have to refresh my memory on that one. And as incredible as that comeback was and as triumphant as that following championship victory felt, its significance far surpassed the thrill of just those ten men on the field. That come-from-behind, man down, three goals in the last minute performance, serves as a vignette of our Gilman experience.

We battled back from sure defeat. We are that lacrosse team.  We are the 1980 miracle on ice team. We are the Little Giants, the Mighty Ducks, and the Bad News Bears. We are Rudy, Rocky, the karate kid and every other underdog that miraculously triumphed against the odds. We are the Jamaican Bobsled Team. We are the ones that refused to go down in infamy. We are the ones who rallied back from the steepest of climbs. We are the Gilman Class of 2011. We have all heard of Remember the Titans, but I say to everyone in the audience: remember the class of 2011.

If there has been one person who has symbolized the adult support for the Gilman Class of 2011 throughout our four years in high school, one person who dared to believe in us, it has been Ms. Hammer. While Ms. Hammer may have been the most vocal supporter of our grade, she is emblematic of the patience that the faculty and all of our parents allowed our grade. From our freshman year antics to this very day with a class of Gilman’s finest graduates, she has unwaveringly supported us.  She would always say, “Just you guys wait; with all that energy you are going to come together and you are going to be great.” That patience on the part of all that supported us is what allowed us to grow. And for that I would like to say thank you. 

You saw our chutzpah and our energy not as destructive signs of arrogance and defiance but rather as the sure mark of irrepressible youth. Our potential has always been there, budding, waiting to be realized. And it is because we dared that our potential remains so great. It is because we had the courage to question and ask why that we have become one of Gilman’s most unforgettable graduating classes. That audacity, that boldness, that daring, that courage is what defines the class of 2011.

So important is that courage: the courage to do the right thing in the face of adversity, the courage to speak one’s mind, the courage to have an opinion. Our grade has never feared making mistakes, but more importantly we have always possessed the courage to learn from past failures.

As we leave for college, we feel like there is nothing we cannot accomplish, and that is because we learned and became a closer class as a result of it. We didn’t just make it here by stumbling across the finish line either. We roared onto this stage as students, as artists, as athletes, and most importantly, as a class. We will forever go down in Gilman history, and I challenge anyone to tell me otherwise. 

There is no doubt in my mind that we will approach the world with the same daring and the same willingness to learn. There is such talent on this stage. With such talent, there is enormous potential. We have already made our mark on Gilman; now let’s do so in the world.

I could fill this speech with mere maxims and platitudes, Seize the day class of 2011 or The world is your oyster, class of 2011, but the truth of the matter is you don’t need me to give you advice. Graduates, you don’t need me to give you encouragement as we prepare to leave for that unknown world ahead. You, each and every one of you on stage, have made it, not in infamy, not at war, but united with the willingness to dare and the courage to learn from past mistakes. Underclassmen, you have big shoes to fill…Go for it.

Graduates, I began this speech with a quotation, and so too will I conclude this speech with one by novelist Paulo Coelho. “The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and who take the risk of living out their dreams.” Class of 2011, congratulations. It is an honor and a privilege to be standing here alongside each and every one of you. Keep daring and never stop learning. Now go out into the world and make a difference. Thank you

 

Farewell to the Valedictorians

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When Justin Schuster sat down to pen his valedictory address to Gilman School’s class of 2011, the administration gave him very loose guidelines:  address the occasion and keep it under ten minutes. Even so, Schuster says with a laugh, “I still didn’t really listen to them.” Instead of speaking in airy generalities, Schuster spent his ten minutes “talking about what made my class unique. I wanted to make it personal, rather than just reflect on the occasion.”  (Read Justin’s speech in Students Speak on the Baltimore Fishbowl Schools page.) 

Justin had the right idea. In the competitive rush of senior year, it can be easy to forget that valedictorians are people too, with their own quirks, aspirations, strengths, and weaknesses. And increasingly, the traditional valedictorian is being phased out, or revamped to honor many students, instead of just one. So what does it take make it to the top of the class in today’s uber-competitive high school environment?  To that end, we caught up with Justin and a few other local graduates who rank first in their class and got them to talk about their high school experiences, their plans for next year, and what they do in their free time (if they have any). 

Justin Schuster has attended Gilman School since sixth grade (before that, he attended Ft. Garrison Elementary, a public school in the Owings Mills/Pikesville area), and deems it “a phenomenal place — and I promise Gilman isn’t pressuring me to say that!” He’ll attend Yale in the fall, where he hopes to double-major in political science and Near Eastern Studies. If all goes according to plan, he’ll continue his coursework in Arabic and end up doing something related to politics or law. “I used to want to run for office,” he says, “But lately I’m thinking State Department, CIA, something in intelligence, Assistant U.S. Attorney…” This interest in politics is no recent whim; Schuster spends summers working with a political consulting firm in Bel Air, interacting with politicians on a day-to-day basis; he also had an internship with Baltimore City’s state’s attorney, and worked on a Congressional campaign.

Dana Katzenelson, a graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute who will be attending Harvard in the fall, has the whole valedictorian thing in perspective. When asked how her life might’ve been different had she not ended up at the top of her class, she pauses then says, “Well, then I wouldn’t have to write a speech right now.” Not that the speech should be much of a problem for her; Katzenelson has run for student office a few times, and has been otherwise active in the school’s decision-making processes. “There’s a lot of opportunity at Poly for people who are looking for it,” she notes — two examples being the school’s new strategic plan and its search for a new principal, both endeavors that Katzenelson participated in.

David Goodman has been at Boys’ Latin since kindergarten, and credits the school’s close-knit, supportive community for his scholastic success: “I had a serious accident in lower school and it was because of the help and support of the students and the faculty that I was able to make a full recovery and become the student I am today,” he writes in an email. “The class of 2011 was an especially close group of 71 students and [we] have always had each other’s backs.” Goodman kept busy in school taking college-level math courses like linear algebra and multivariate calculus; editing the school newspaper; and playing on the varsity soccer and baseball teams.  He’ll be another Baltimore-area valedictorian at Yale in the fall, where he plans to study math and economics.

While these students may be thriving, the valedictorian is something of an endangered species at highly competitive schools in some parts of the country — and Baltimore is no exception. Bryn Mawr, McDonough, Roland Park Country School, Friends and the Park School don’t recognize valedictorians in the traditional sense. “We honor students for academic achievement in all disciplines,” notes Nancy Mugele of Roland Park Country School, pointing out that the school awards more than 30 academic awards to its students. Why sidestep this traditional honor? For one, competition over class rank can lead to pressure and competition between classmates, and the final verdict often comes down to a fraction of a percentage point. Howard County schools don’t recognize a valedictorian, and Montgomery County schools don’t put class ranks on college transcripts.

Alas, eliminating the valedictorian doesn’t necessarily make students at these schools (or their parents) any aware of who got the best grades. For example, while Bryn Mawr doesn’t recognize a valedictorian, they do give a special award (the College Scholarship Prize) to the senior with the highest cumulative GPA. Which begs the question — if everyone knows who the de fact valedictorian is, why not just have a valedictorian?

Nationwide, other school districts are taking a different tack — honoring multiple valedictorians for the same graduating class. One Colorado district boasted a total of 94 valedictorians at its 8 high schools, all of whom had a GPA over 4.0, while a high school in the suburbs of Houston recognized 30 valedictorians — or 6.5 percent of its graduating seniors. Perhaps these kids are all so brilliant that it’s impossible to distinguish between them — or perhaps other forces are at work? “It’s honor inflation,” Chris Healy, associate professor at Furman University, told the New York Times

The valedictorians we spoke to all seemed to have a good sense of perspective about the honor. For one, they recognize that they weren’t alone in their academic achievement. As Goodman notes, “the top portion of my class [all] challenged themselves academically. For us, there were many long nights working on AP and honors assignments….[We] pushed each other to work hard and I share this honor with them.” Will being valedictorian have a big impact on Katz-Nelson’s future? “Not really,” she predicts. “It’s not as significant as other people think. It just means I focussed on getting good grades more than other people did.”  Schuster agrees:  “Quite frankly, I think it’s a title and nothing more than that.” What’s important to him is not so much the title itself as the skills that got him there:  his work ethic, and his ability to organize his time. “I didn’t stay in on Friday and Saturday nights, cramming over SAT books. I just did my homework.”

While these students have plenty to be proud of, there’s something a little wistful about the valedictory moment, as well. After all, “valedictorian” comes from the Latin for “farewell sayer,” and it’s true that these students are leaving a lot behind. But judging from what they’ve accomplished so far, the future should be pretty exciting, too.

Sex, Drugs, and Defamation: Anonymous Gossip on Campus

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If you want to see the smiling, multicultural, frisbee-throwing side of college students, look at a university brochure. But if you were curious about their darker side — their gossip, profanity, and racist/sexist/homophobic comments, say — you’d find it all conveniently located at the school’s ACB, or Anonymous Confession Board. Until recently, that is.

The site — founded in 2008 by two college students — was controversial from the very beginning. Anonymity seemed to encourage rampant rudeness; students saw their full names attached to speculations about their sexual preference/habits, or comments about their looks. Some schools blocked the site from their wireless networks; others argued that the boards — as odious as they often were — counted as free speech. Not surprisingly, controversy led to popularity:  by January of this year, the site covered 150 schools and logged more than 20 million monthly page views.

Recently the site was bought out and underwent a name change; it’s now Blipdar, and includes a few features that seem to try to steer posters to chat about less unsavory topics — say, which buildings are good to live in on campus, rather than compiling a list of the school’s biggest sluts.

Will it work? Unclear. A fair number of posts recently up on the Johns Hopkins Blipdar were complaining about how stupid Blipdar is. And a competing anonymous Hopkins-centric site — Hopdirt.com — has sprung up. Odds are, neither site will make you feel particularly encouraged about the state of the contemporary undergraduate:  Bipdar has a post up entitled “Homosexual sex is not beautiful,” while a Hopdirt poster posts something too vulgar/irritating to reprint about a particular sorority. But it’s not all quite so dismal. There are also posts about what kinds of exercise burn calories most efficiently, and which science classes are easiest.

Ultimately, though, all the trashy talk begs quite a few questions:  Should a school try to limit students’ access to anonymous gossip sites? Are today’s students more heartless than those in days of yore, or does technology make everyone more vicious?

The Drama of the SAT II

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To the parents of the rising junior: Congratulations! Your child has just finished sophomore year. You probably have a fair sense of his or her academic style and capacity at this point, and hopefully you are both feeling good. Two years down, two to go, right? 

Now let me invite you to dip your toe into the cool stream of college admissions vernacular. It’s coming your way soon, so you might as well get started! There are terms you may already know, and some that may be unfamiliar. Everyone knows about the SATs, and PSATs, but not everyone has heard about the SAT IIs – or SAT subject tests. (These should not be confused with the AP Exams, or CLEP Exams, all of which are administered by College Board. More on those later…) The SAT IIs are one-hour multiple choice tests, in specific subject areas:  Literature, US History, World History, Mathematics Level 1, Mathematics Level 2, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, French with Listening, Chinese with Listening, German, German with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese with Listening, Korean with Listening, Latin, Spanish, Spanish with Listening. Not all schools require the SAT subject tests, but most of the highly selective colleges and universities require one, two, or three subject tests in addition to the SAT. You cannot earn college credit with the subject tests, but they certainly can make your application more competitive, assuming you’ve done well.

Here’s a twist: Your child cannot figure out which SAT subject tests he or she will need to take until he or she determines where s/he wants to go. Different colleges and universities have different requirements, and you have to figure it out one by one. Now, it is true that you probably want to take your subject tests in the areas where you are academically strongest.  But you will have to figure out if your dream college requires physics or chemistry, even if you are gunning for a liberal arts degree.

My very brilliant child took two subject tests last Saturday. She will score somewhere between 200 and 800. Naturally, we are expecting 800s, but you never know. She figured out that she should take World History and Chemistry this spring, after her sophomore year, when the information was freshest in her mind. Good idea. Now I hope she figures out the rest of this testing mess. To AP or not to AP? In the same subject as the subject test? What is the CLEP, and how is it different from the AP? You can earn college credit through the AP and the CLEP, so how are they different, and are these tests like the SAT and SAT subject tests, just more data for college admissions officers to consider when her application hits their desk? When she figures it all out, I will be sure to pass it on. 

Get Some Culture (in Belvedere Square)

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FroYo fans, rejoice. A new TCBY opened in Belvedere Square in April, one of only three in the area—the others, in Timonium and Columbia, were such a hike that I often opted for heavy premium ice cream. It’s actually not my first choice, for flavor or nutrition.

I grew up in the 80s eating frozen yogurt fanatically, during its first waffle-cone-bearing swirl of popularity (H.P. Hood originally introduced the stuff in England in the 1970s, tagging his concoction Frogurt). And have been frustrated in recent years by the lack of abundant yogurt options around Baltimore. Thank goodness, tart/minimal yogurt chains like Pinkberry, Red Mango, and Blush have driven “FroYo’s” demand, and beckoned numerous competitors. (Tart yogurt is a throwback to Hood’s original recipe; the flavor might take a minute to grow on you, but trust one dedicated yogurt aficionado: Yum.)

Anyway, if you dig frozen yogurt, there’s much to love about this new TCBY. The décor is space-age-retro adorable and the cups serve-yourself—rare for TBCY—which means you can dish a tiny or tremendous bowl of good-for-you dessert, any day of the week.

Best of all, TCBY, too, has caught this less sweet, fat-free “tart yogurt” fad creaming the country, and now offers its own similarly clean, minimal flavor they’ve labeled Classic Tart. TCBY’s stab at the recipe is a total success, I’m pleased to report. And at 90 calories per four ounces, the stuff is a smart snack, though still pretty sugary (17 grams), and it tastes as terrific as Pinkberry, if not a bit more silky + ice-cream-esque.

Other TCBY-traditional flavors, like White Chocolate Mousse and chocolate-and-vanilla-swirled, are always on handle, plus certain sugar-free and dairy-free options.

TCBY products contain at least seven types of live and active cultures, which can aid digestion and bolster one’s immune system. While I like the wholesome idea, I care less about the bacterial benefits than the cool deliciousness of the lightweight cream, and the fact that I can eat a great big cup for fewer calories and way less fat than ice cream.

Oh, if you’ve caught Classic Tart fever, be sure to try the fantastic frozen yogurt at Evergreen on Cold Spring, and at Mr. Yogato in Fells Point. It’ll nearly make you pucker—which means I highly recommend.

All My Exes Live on Facebook

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Dear Sara,

My boyfriend is friends with his exes on Facebook and I just don’t think this is appropriate. I mean, sometimes he’s quite familiar with them too. I hate being able to read it when he has special little inside-jokes with them. I don’t want to see that. It is wrong for me to ask him to de-friend them? 

In a word, absolutely. If it bothers you, you should delete your own Facebook account. You shouldn’t have access to the temptation to feel bad about something awesome; that your boyfriend is evolved enough to have rich, meaningful friendships in his life with both sexes. That your boyfriend is still friends with his exes is the best testament you can ask for regarding how cool (comfortable with himself) he must be. I would know because I am friends with 97% of my exes. That other 3% are those who just can’t stand being friends with me, and I actively judge them for it. Relationships aren’t ownership, and when you date somebody, you share something between two people that is unique because of who you were at the time, individually and with each other, and what you learned from each other. Just because you’re now dating, or engaged to, or even married to one-half of that now-extinguished pair, it belongs to him, not you, and trusting him to handle that aspect of himself responsibly is a million times more rewarding than asking him to cut it off and hand it to you as some sort of proof that he loves you more.

If you don’t figure this out now, you’ll eventually stifle him, so if you want to hang onto him, consider this: Jealousy is one of those things that for some reason we aren’t taught to grow out of by the time we’re twelve. But it should be. It’s the emotional appendix, totally superfluous. When you catch yourself feeling it, you should regard it in the same manner as if you just caught yourself tempted to shoplift. And also note: Facebook is the lowest common denominator when it comes to friendships; Facebook exists for the people we still care about, but who cannot be a part of our lives actively for one reason or another. I would hope that in addition to being Facebook friends with the ones who live close, your boyfriend still meets with them from time to time for coffee. You are the one he chooses to be with for the given time. That is awesome; that is more than enough.

Got a dating-related question? Write to: [email protected]

Baltimore Swim Team: We’re All Members

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It’s not even officially summer and already there’s that certain steamy something in the air that makes us wish we were small enough to crawl into our fridge and stay there until mid-September. We considered haunting the city’s air-conditioned spaces for the next three months, but then we’d end up pale and boring at the end of the summer. Instead, we’ll brave the heat – but make sure we’ve got a few places to cool down along the way.

The Pool:  Baltimore City boasts 22 public pools. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you’ll have to wait a couple weeks to enjoy them on a weekday, as they’re weekend-only until June 25. (A couple were opened early due to our recent heatwave, however.) The bad news, part two: on a hot day, it can seem like the entire city already beat you there. The best way to avoid the crowds is to plan your timing carefully; the pools tend to be least crowded right after opening hours. Our favorite is the recently-spruced up Roosevelt Park pool in Hampden, complete with playground and misting sprinklers!

The Private Swim Club: It’s a simple formula:  fewer people, more money.

The RiverGunpowder Falls snakes through the area north of the city, with plenty of swimming spots along the way. Odds are you’ll have to hike in a bit to find a space that’s wide and deep enough to fit your splashing needs, but that makes the eventual immersion all the more refreshing.

The Reservoir:  The best thing about reservoir swimming is floating on your back in a cool lake surrounded by trees, then lying on a rock to let the sun dry you off. The worst thing about reservoir swimming is getting a $1000 ticket for swimming in a place you’re not supposed to swim. We’ve never heard of anyone actually being charged that much, but we do know some folks who’ve come home with $100 fines. (It can also be dangerous.) Makes for an expensive and non-relaxing afternoon; attempt at your own risk.

The Inner Harbor:  Just kidding! (Or maybe not?)

Where do you go to cool off on a hot Baltimore day?

Four Women Priests Ordained in Catonsville

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Dissent within the Catholic Church is always complicated. The dogma of infallibility of the Church, that in certain circumstances the accuracy of the teachings of the Church is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, is an article of faith for Catholics. You would assume a concept like this would preclude disobedience among church figures and active laity, which is why the recent ordination of four Roman Catholic women as priests in Catonsville is so remarkable.

The Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement began in Germany in 2002, when seven women were ordained by three bishops. Despite a 2008 Vatican decree that promises excommunication for women seeking ordination and bishops who participate in the ceremonies, the movement has been gathering momentum since the “Danube Seven,” as the first women priests are called, have gone on to ordain more women, with more than forty women ordained in the United States alone.

Of the four women ordained in Catonsville (two of whom are local), at least three are married, which further puts them at odds with the Vatican’s position on eligibility for priesthood.

It doesn’t seem likely that the Vatican will change its position on the ordination of women anytime soon, especially considering Pope Benedict XVI’s conservative papacy, which just in the last couple years has put great effort into a constriction on the practices of Catholic nuns. Given the long-running decline in the number of priests, perhaps it should reconsider.

The whole issue has yet to come to a head. Time will tell whether the women’s ordination movement will eventually be accepted into the larger Catholic fold or produce a new schism in the Church. Either way, it’s history in the making, and Catonsville will have played at least a small part.

Catherine Pugh’s Twitter Account Hacked? Sounds Familiar…

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Add Baltimore mayoral candidate Catherine Pugh’s name to the list of politicians whose social networking gaffes (or hacks, depending on whom you believe) have become news stories. While Pugh was attending a gala for the Associated Black Charities Saturday night her Twitter account published a tweet that read: “Mmm mmm good looking men here,” which is fairly tame as regrettable tweets go. It’s unbecoming of a state senator and mayoral hopeful, maybe, but it would be a stretch to call it scandalous. Pugh denies sending the tweet.

Certainly it’s nothing compared with the over-reported (and over-photo-illustrated) “sexting” scandal of the unfortunately named Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose confusing half-denials gave way to defiant confessions as photo after half-dressed photo of the New York congressman surfaced on the Internet as evidence of his inappropriate cyber-behavior. The two stories are similar only in medium, but the medium is the message to the larger story here.

Social media scandals could be the wave of the future. Digital information is particularly leaky, and once out is quickly copied and distributed. A single private message intended for the eyes of a friend or family member can become a media event in a matter of minutes.

It’s possible that these scandals could become less common as the current politicians are succeeded by a more tech-savvy generation, but I have my doubts. So often I’ve seen younger people post information to their Facebook pages that I would never dream of posting. I wonder if these immature and inappropriately personal messages will cause problems for them in the future with relationships, employment, or running for public office.

It’s unclear how culpable the news media are in the reporting of these scandals. Certainly Rep. Weiner’s social networking “affairs” are some kind of news story, but how relevant are they really? Are the media working in the name of greater transparency or simple voyeurism? Perhaps blaming news outlets is itself outdated. Even without coverage of  Weiner’s Twitter scandal by legitimate news sources, surely the story would have spread far and wide through retweets and Facebook posts. Have we come to a time when the people determine what’s newsworthy? And is this the kind of thing we’re into?



 

Gibson Island Stunner To Get Away from it All

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HOT HOUSE: 712 Stillwater Road, Gibson Island, MD 21056

A 1928 English country home on Gibson Island, with a private dock and frontage on freshwater, spring-fed Otter Pond: $3,295,000

What: A five bedroom, three and a half bath house on two stories, with superb views out the back. Beautifully situated, with panoramic views of both the Chesapeake Bay and Otter Pond, this house appeared recently in American Luxury Estates magazine. A screened-in porch and upstairs open porch have wonderful breezes in addition to the water views, and the house has a nice flow – great for entertaining but also for cozy family living. Inside, are the original edgegrain Georgia pine and cherry floors, plus radiant underfloor heat in  kitchen , breakfast room, bathrooms and office. The dining room has gorgeous floor to ceiling palladian windows and living room has a cathedral ceiling. Upstairs landing overlooks living room, and in addition to bedrooms, there is a large professional office with sweeping water views – could be either distracting or inspiring. Also,  skylights, fireplace, picture windows, electric awning, state-of-the-art heat and air conditioning. Separate oversized garage with workroom. The lot is .68 acres –not large, but with the time and money saved on lawn care, you can fish, swim or boat from your private dock. Otter Pond, all 42 acres of it, is your real backyard.  Or, join the Gibson Island Club, (not included with home ownership) and take advantage of world class yachting, pool, golf, tennis (on clay courts) and a popular summer camp for kids.  

Where: Not too close, not too far, Gibson Island is an easy commute-–about an hour from Washington, half-an-hour from BWI airport and Annapolis–but about 55% of the residents are full-time. There is a small elementary school just off the island. 

Why: If security is important to you, Gibson Island is the place. There’s a 24-hour, 365 day-a-year security guard on duty, and no one gets on to the island unless invited. Also, there’s a nice, slow pace here, without actually being “rural.” Feels like stepping back in time. 

Why Not: House is not as pretty from the street as it is from the back.

Would Suit: Tweeting congressman “getting help.” Foreign diplomat under a death threat.  Weekend commuters, or families who want a break from the action.