Spring has Sprung!

APRIL ’16 NEWSLETTER

 

There’s only two months left in the school year, Pinnacle Prep Student’s. Let’s make them count. Now is the time to put forth our best effort so that we can finish the year strong and carry the momentum into the 2016-17 school year. April, a month known for its cleansing rains, provides us with a great opportunity to shake off any dust from the months prior and start fresh for the final stretch.

A Classic April Fool’s Day Hoax

April also starts us off with a day to get a little goofy. Many companies and networks even manage to have a little fun on April Fool’s Day. Google pulls a prank on its users just about every year, including last year when they announced PacMan view for Google Maps which would allow people to play PacMan through renderings of real streets.

April Fools DayHowever, before Google was announcing something wacky every April 1st, a British news program managed to convince its viewers that spaghetti grew on trees.

Panorama is the world’s longest running televised current affairs program. The show first launched on the British Broadcasting Channel in 1953, and even today it still retains a peak time slot on BBC One.

Highly regarded as it was, Panorama still decided to have a little fun with its viewers. On April 1st, 1957 the program announced that a mild winter had rid Switzerland of its dreaded spaghetti weevil problem. Thanks to the species’ near-extinction, Swiss farmers could finally begin harvesting the spaghetti crops. In order to sell the hoax, the announcement was paired with footage of farmers removing long strands of spaghetti from “spaghetti trees.”

The announcement garnered huge ratings. Viewers were captivated by this seemingly absurd natural occurrence. An estimated eight million saw the broadcast, and hundreds more even called the network, seeking advice for how they, too, could grow their own spaghetti crop. BBC representatives replied, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” But not just the public was fooled by Panorama’s story. The BBC director-general at the time even admitted that he opened up his encyclopedia to see if that was how we really got spaghetti after hearing the story.

Panorama cameraman Charles de Jaeger was the mastermind who created the whole idea. He claimed the plot came from remembering how his teachers in Austria used to tease students by telling them that they’d believe spaghetti grew on trees. With a budget of 100 euros, de Jaeger got to put his teachers’ old joke to the test. Respected broadcaster Richard Dimbleby lent his voiceover to the story and gave it the credence it needed to work. Dimbleby knew that his authority would make or break the joke, and so he tackled the broadcast with enthusiasm.
CNN would later call the broadcast “the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.” This year, Pinnacle Prep School will have April Fool’s Day off, so if you want to try a prank of this scale, you’ll have to pull it on your family or wait for 2017.

Earth Day

While April’s first day may revolve around pranks and goofing around, the month is also home to Earth Day. Every April 22nd commemorates national and global efforts in environmental protection.

celebrate-earth-dayThe first Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. On that day, 2,000 universities, 10,000 primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities participated in the event. The Environmental Protection Agency describes it as an event which “brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.” Both Republicans and Democrats supported the holiday’s creation, but many were surprised by just how successful it was. As such, historians often credit the event for launching the modern environmentalist movement.

That year also saw the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a book also heavily cited as the beginning of environmentalism. Carson initially released the book in a serialized form via the New Yorker before the collected essays became a national best seller later that year. The book took its name from Carson’s musing that fewer and fewer species of birds would be singing each spring unless the nation did something about pesticide, and her mission riveted and revolutionized an American public disillusioned by the Vietnam War. Skeptics criticized her book of basing its claims shallow science, but audiences flocked to her cause regardless. Environmentalism was off and running in the United States.

In the shadow of the first Earth Day and Silent Spring, the US would pass the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Those landmark legislations were some of the first and most influential of the US’ environmental laws. The Clean Air Act, in particular, is one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world.
Earth Day would eventually go global twenty years later, spreading to 141 different countries. Its organizers claim that 1 billion people now participate in the environmentalist holiday. This makes it the “largest civic observance in the world.”

Environmentalism has been prominent in recent news thanks to a conference in Paris held just last year. At that conference, scientists gathered to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Over the course of two weeks, the conference negotiated a series of regulations and policies that would eventually be the Paris Climate Deal. Symbolizing Earth Day’s importance to the movement, 55 of the world’s highest greenhouse gas producers would need to sign the deal between this year’s Earth Day and next in order to make it legally binding.

Jazz Appreciation Month

You probably already knew that April housed both April Fool’s Day and Earth Day, but you might not be aware that the whole month is also Jazz Appreciation Month (appropriately acronymed JAM). In 2002, John Edward Hasse, PhD., curator of the Smithsonian, created the event to “honor the history and heritage of Jazz,” one of the first distinctly American art forms.

This month’s featured musician is Benny Carter, a black musician, composer, and bandleader. Known as “The King,” Carter is remembered for the strides he made in both music and social justice. He began playing at a time when venues barred certain musicians from playing because of their race. By the 1940s, Carter broke barriers by being one of the first black musicians accepted into Hollywood. He arranged and composed music for major motion pictures—even though jazz wasn’t commonly scoring films during the ‘40s.

In addition to writing music, Carter helped negotiate the merging of unions for white and black musicians in Los Angeles. His negotiations increased the number of job opportunities for musicians of color who were often blocked from bands and venues because they were denied the proper credentials. And his efforts didn’t stop at music. In 1945, Carter fought a legal battle that would eventually grant African Americans the right to buy homes in certain neighborhoods where they had once been restricted.

Though not often written about, Carter maintains a great deal of relevancy today. As such, the Smithsonian has chosen to bring his career to the limelight during the month of JAM. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will honor Carter with a concert this April in which the group will explore his vast discography, highlighting his innovations in saxophone, trumpet, and composition.

Pinnacle Prep can learn a lot from Carter and from jazz in general. Carter, and many other black jazz players in the early twentieth century, rose above their station and created one of the most influential genres in the era of modern music. Many forms of jazz revolve around improvisation and experimentation with many elements of a given song written on the fly between the interplay of just a few musicians. Life is often compared to jazz given that both are at prone to many twists and turns, and while the comparison may be a little stale now, it maintains some level of truth. Like the members of a jazz quartet, Pinnacle Prep students are learning to be comfortable in the ever-changing song that is life. As a result, they will be the innovators of the future, using their solos to send the song in new, enthralling directions.

Upcoming Events

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April 1 – No School
April 15th – Heritage Village
April 22nd – No School
April 27/28 – Day Camping K-4th
April 29-30 – Camping Upper School

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