Author Archives: The Quill Editors

The 28th Anniversary of the Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope

By: Lea S. ‘20

The Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990. On April 24th, 2018, Hubble ushered its 28th birthday. During these twenty-eight years, it opened a window to observe the universe. It gave us a chance to travel through the mystical cosmic world. In people’s mind, Hubble is not only a telescope, it is also a sign, a legend, an era that many people can’t forget. At twenty-eight years old, the Hubble era is almost reaching an end. During its time in service, Hubble met many failures, such as aging equipment. So far, the astronauts have completed five high-profile repairs. Although the Hubble Space Telescope is a high-spending project, in many researchers’ opinions, the brilliant life of Hubble is also the golden age of astronomy research because, after each mission, people have had significant astronomical discoveries through the Hubble Space Telescope. Let’s recall our memory about the five-servicing mission completed for Hubble.Shortly after the Hubble was deployed in 1990, the observatory’s primary mirror was discovered to have an aberration that affected the clarity of the telescope’s early images. In that case, correcting the optics of the flaw in Hubble’s primary mirror was a task of top priority. The seven astronauts who were chosen for their mission received intensive training. As we know, the Hubble is the largest telescope in the world. Its size is equivalent to four big telephone kiosks and four pianos. As a result, it’s very difficult to repair. More difficult, the astronauts need to repair it in a weightless environment. The astronauts launched in December 1993. Then, new instruments were installed, and the major problem was solved. In addition, this servicing mission was the first time they conducted planned maintenance on the telescope. One of the most important things during SM1 is that COSTAR, which is the instrument designed to correct Hubble’s spherical aberration for light, replaced the High-Speed Photometer. Another significant thing is that the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) was replacing the telescope’s original camera. In a nutshell, these two replacements have resulted in a dramatic increase in the clarity of the photos the Hubble takes. The success of this mission not only brought extremely high praise to NASA, but also gave astronomers a telescope which is fully competent for space exploration.

Although the subsequent servicing missions have not been as dramatic as the first one, each time new capabilities have been added to the Hubble. The SM2 was launched in February 1997. It happened four years after the first mission and greatly improved the Hubble’s productivity from two aspects. First, they installed some new instruments which extended the Hubble’s wavelength range, allowing us to probe more distant reaches of the universe. Second, the replacement of failed or degraded spacecraft components increased efficiency and performance.

In November 1999, when the fourth of six gyroscopes failed, the Hubble temporarily closed its eyes on the universe. Gyroscopes are important because they measure the rate of motion as the Hubble moves and help the telescope retain correct pointing during observations. Without working gyroscopes, the Hubble “went to sleep” while it waited for help. As soon as possible, NASA decided to split the Third Servicing Mission into two parts, SM3A and SM3B. Through SM3A, Hubble became more fit and capable than ever before. They gave Hubble a big update, including six fresh gyroscopes, a more powerful and faster main computer, and many other new and improved equipment. SM3B was launched in March 2002. It was the fourth visit to Hubble. In this mission, Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) replaced the previous camera. This is a milestone in the study of astronomy because the Hubble would give people superb quality images through this camera. It means ACS would have ten times more discovery power than the camera it replaced. More importantly, it gave astronomers an opportunity to study the nature and distribution of galaxies in order to understand how our universe evolved.

The last servicing mission was launched in May 2009. During SM4, two new scientific instruments were installed – the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). With these efforts, Hubble has been brought to the apex of its scientific capabilities.

After these five servicing missions, the Hubble Space Telescope has become the largest and most accurate telescope ever built. It can take pictures of hundreds of stars with more than ten times the sharpness of a terrestrial astronomical telescope. The achievements of the Hubble are indelible. The Hubble is the faithful recorder of this charming universe. It is the eye for human beings to see the fascinating universe. Astronomers believe that the Hubble telescope will still deliver the goods and complete its historic mission until it is eventually replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope. Let us all witness the miracle that the Hubble will create for us for the rest of the year!

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Video Game Review: Fallout 3

By: Shawn K. ‘19

Back in 2004, Bethesda Softworks announced in a press conference that they had bought the rights to the critically acclaimed RPG series Fallout: A Post-Nuclear Role-Playing Game, where the protagonist assumes the role of a human living in the future after the nuclear bombs were dropped, in an alternate reality of course. However, while the first two were made by Interplay Entertainment, Bethesda had bought all the rights to the franchise. What ended up happening was a critically acclaimed masterpiece at the time of its 2008 release, managing to bring home the 2008 Game of the Year award from the Game Awards, among other many acclaimed prizes and praise. However, in the modern day, where universally praised masterpieces like Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Fallout: New Vegas, and the Dark Souls trilogy manage to revolutionize the Action-RPG genre, can Fallout 3 still manage to hold a candle?

Fallout 3 follows the story of the Lone Wanderer, the son/daughter (depending on what the character picks) of James, a doctor, who both live in the secluded Vault 101, not too far from the ruins of Washington D.C., many decades after the nuclear bombs fell. The Lone wanderer lives a peaceful, and a quiet nineteen years in the vault, before his father escapes and his mentor Jonas is killed. Now, it’s up the Lone Wanderer to leave the vault, find his father, and quite possibly change the landscape of the Wastelands as we know it.

Fallout 3‘s story is still remarkable in this day and age. Not only are the characters compelling and fascinating, but they grow alongside you and develop with you. This is stacked on top of outstanding voice acting from notable works such as Ron Pearlman, Liam Neeson, and Malcom McDowell voicing the Narrator, James, and John Henry Eden respectively. Fallout 3 also has a very gripping story around sacrifice, completing dreams, friendships, and hope. Without spoiling it, FO3 has an immaculate sense of storytelling and world building unmatched by modern games today in its genre, especially when taking into consideration that your dialogue choices as a player affect the overall outcome of your journey. Sequels such as New Vegas and 4 don’t come near 3‘s marvelous adventure in terms of scale and depth.

London Calling

By: Olivia L. ’21

My first memory of our London trip begins as we made our way onto yet another long bus ride, soaking in the sights and information along the way. After that rainy ride, we arrived at Warwick Castle­ — a location that had not been visited on the London Trip for ten years. Despite originally feeling uncertain about what was to come, Warwick Castle was a kind surprise, and one that is now many student’s favorites. We first walked through the gate that gave us the rather grandiose view of, not only the Castle itself, but the world it was laid upon. A mix of everything from dungeons and weaponry to portraits and elegant dining halls, Warwick Castle provided a full experience of the Tudor-Stork period (the era it represented.) The highlight of Warwick was surely the haunted hallway where fear and history came to play. Along with a few of my friends, Mr. Weissman and Mr. Crane accompanied us. Nothing seemed to frighten Mr. Crane in the slightest, and Mr. Weissman was chopped to bits before we were able to leave the maze (not literally, of course).

Stratford-upon-Avon, the next stop in the London Experience, proved to be a spot brimming with history. The town came to life as much of what we had learned about in school was displayed there. We toured Shakespeare’s birthplace and the cramped house he lived in with eight other family members. A replica of the infamous “second-best bed” could be found before making our way out into the courtyard, where reenactments of Shakespeare’s most famous plays were performed, and even some of the students joined the actors on stage! In Stratford, we briefly toured the Guild Chapel, known with regards to William Shakespeare because John Shakespeare had whitewashed the paintings inside of it. Many of the murals inside are still being restored to their former glory. It is lucky they were not destroyed at the time, but it was decided to only cover them for the time being because the accepted religion by the Church of England was constantly changing from Anglican to Protestant.

The streets of London were becoming ever so quiet as our group walked briskly to what would be one of the best dinners in London. We had eaten Italian style, and the sound of the pan sizzling was a faint reminder of how hungry I had been after all of the walking. It was well worth it, as most of us easily cleared out plates. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Twelfth Night came next on our list, and some of us were familiar with the high school’s production of it only last fall. Though confusing at first, with Mr. Weissman’s help, we all had a grasp on the story by the end. With mistaken identities, cross-dressers, and even a character named Olivia, the plot of this comic play never fails to amaze.

Wednesday, on what undoubtedly felt like the longest day, our class ventured far and wide throughout the city of London and beyond. Beginning with Trafalgar Square, a wide expanse of sculptures, fountains, and other aesthetic monuments, we split into groups to head into the National Gallery. We had already prepared for the paintings we were about to see, as each student was assigned a painting to present. Intermittently, between presentations, we sketched some of the paintings. From Monet to Titian, painters from every walk of life could be found in this museum.

The Mall…no, not the one you’re thinking of. You can’t buy Jordans or a lipstick at Sephora here. In the City of Westminster, between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, The Mall has been historically used for royal events, as it sits right outside of the palace. In direct connection with Buckingham Palace, the center for many British celebrations, The Mall has been a place for crowds of people to wait for the Royals public appearances. According to the flag positioning (raised in this case) indicated that the Queen was in Buckingham Palace for the time being, though unfortunately, we did not catch a glimpse of her.

On our way to Westminster Abbey, on the south side of The Mall, we walked through St. James’s Park. Along the path, a lake can be seen on one side, and a history of the royal guard museum on the other. During James I’s reign in 1503, St. James’s Park housed exotic animals, including crocodiles, elephants, camels, and a variety of wild birds. Having finally arrived at Westminster Abbey, we split into groups and began our tour of the coffins of some of the most famous figures in history. Kings and Dukes, poets and authors could be found throughout. A special section was set aside called “Poet’s Corner.” Here, after each of us was assigned to one of the authors buried just below our feet, we saw the epitaphs inscribed on our poet’s grave and sat down to sketch some of the magnificent architecture.

The highlight of the day was the London Eye. At this time, it was just dark enough for the London Eye to illuminate off of the South Bank of the River Thames. As we made our way up to the top, we stopped for pictures. At the highest point, we looked down below us and tried to fathom the enormity of it all.

On Thursday, we ventured to the Roman Baths in the city of Bath, England. The entrance was tucked into a building in a complex of restaurants and shops. We walked through the entrance to a museum about the history of Rome and its connection to the Baths. Ancient artifacts like coins, bronze heads, and replications of ancient sites could be found throughout the museum. After learning about much of what we were about to see, we stepped outside of the second floor overlooking the Baths. My first observation was how unclean the water must have been as it was a deep shade of green, indicating it probably wasn’t cleaned regularly. As I looked to either side, I saw the architecture that would have been the center of social gatherings during Rome’s height. At the floor below, we interacted with Roman characters acting as either slaves or masters. The slave we talked to provided us with yet another layer of understanding as if we were a character, and not an onlooker, as well.

Passing by pastures of cows and sheep, our class journeyed to the most tucked away parts of London. However, when we arrived, similar to the Roman Baths, we learned the history of Stonehenge through the ages and the impact it has had. Stonehenge, what appears to be a random series of rocks, has bewildered archeologists and historians for years. Neither the “what” or the “why” has been determined for certain. The utter mystery of the placement of these rocks has made it a well visited tourist site. While most students took pictures of the Stonehenge rocks and each other, other students took interest in the “possessed bird” as they called it, providing ­– what they claimed was — further evidence of the unsettling mystique surrounding Stonehenge.

Our last stop before returning to the bus was the Salisbury Cathedral. Before this, we had dinner and an unexpected show. We just happened to eat at a restaurant on the outskirts of a tree lighting festival. Although we didn’t stay long enough for the end, we took pictures with floating angels and danced to songs from the Sister Act. Although we did not walk into the Cathedral, as there was a mass going on, we observed the Gothic elements of Salisbury Cathedral and ones similar to it, marking a new era in architectural design that allowed larger windows and more light.

Trinity Square Garden was located in Tower Hill, London and was preserved as a public park around two hundred years ago. It currently houses Memorials for the Tower Hill War, WWI, and WWII. After visiting this site in the morning, we took pictures of London’s famous Tower Bridge. Paul Daley, our tour guide, recited all of the kings of England flawlessly before entering the Tower to see the changing of the guard and the Crown Jewels. The jewels were truly magnificent, some dating back to the 1500’s and still intact and in use for coronations. We then split into groups and walked through halls of armor, torturing devices, weapons, and even churches. The hall of weaponry featured artillery that would have been used by guards in the Tower of London, and for the Royal Guard, through the Ages. Some military personnel still live and serve on the property. Those that have served for at least 22 years were eligible.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Tate interactive modern art gallery could be found across the way. We visited the Tate briefly and were immediately immersed in modern art exhibits like the three-person swings and the constantly mobile swinging ball that gave the illusion that it could hit the people walking below, but never did. The stripes on the path below it added yet another layer to this optical illusion. A street down from there, a recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, was built on the piece of land that would have been where the original most likely was. The new Globe acts as a spot for tourists and students, but also for performances as well. With limited modern technology and seat prices set as close to the original theatres equivalent as possible, everything at this theatre is meant to be in the likeness of one at the time of Shakespeare. We were able to sit in the audience, walk on stage, and go backstage as well. On stage, it felt as if we were the performers, and backstage gave us a glimpse of what tech crew’s responsibilities might entail. After this, we had a discussion in a lecture-like room. In the shape of an amphitheater, we discussed and performed.

At the British Museum, our last stop in London on Friday, we spent most of our time sketching the Parthenon Marbles. Each student in our class was assigned a frieze — a decorated sculpture with low relief — to draw during class. These drawings and pictures were taken with us to the museum so that we could sketch them and a number of others. The Parthenon Marbles themselves have sparked a controversy that continues to this day. They are also known as the Elgin Marbles, after Lord Elgin who “took” the sculptures directly off of the structures they were attached to in Greece. Lord Elgin brought them back to London to be displayed in the British Museum so that they could be viewed by everyone.

Overall, this trip brought back so many fond memories, not only of London itself, but with new friends and teachers as well. I can’t wait to visit the city again and see what new experiences it has to offer!

Kudos to Cast and Crew of Anything Goes!

To cast, crew, Mr. Weissman and all,
Rave review from this audience member for your performance of Anything Goes.
Never knew we had so many talented tap dancers!
What a delightfully delicious and “delovely” way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon!
Mr. Rapp
P. S. The Quill staff congratulations the members
of the musical production on a job well done!

Be Not Afraid of Greatness: Twelfth Night

By: Mia W. ’18

On November 4th and 5th of 2016, the play production of Twelfth Night took place here at SIA. Not only was this brilliantly directed by Mr. Weissman, but the entire cast seemed to radiate a wave of energy and engagement throughout the whole show. Not to say this was accomplished easily; it was hard work, late nights, and dedication that brought this play to life. “It’s a little hard acting Shakespeare, only because you really have to understand the lines and what they mean, but it wasn’t too difficult to understand because Weiss goes through lines very thoroughly with us,” said Sandra P. ’18 who played Maria in the production.


This year’s fall play included a twenty-five minute long pre-show, right before the Shakespearean production. The comedic parody, which featured lots of talented new faces to the stage, was a perfect way to introduce Twelfth Night. “It was fun to dress in basic costumes and props to put on Shakespeare in only 25 minutes…doing it in the atrium was more fun because actors had a better sense and connection to the audience” said Grace A. ‘18 who played Lady Macbeth and Judge. As an audience member watching the actors so closely helped you engage with every person on stage, and it was also really funny!


All in all, this play was one for the books! For many students, this was their last fall play at SIA, and it was a great play production to end on. Congratulations to all of the cast and tech crew for putting on such an enjoyable show.

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” –Malvolio (played by Trip M ‘17)


The Wild West at Academy Day

By: Cassandra C. ’17

Every year on a Saturday in October, Academy Day brings people from the SIA community past and present to campus for soccer games, raffles, and delicious food. Whether you’re two, twenty-two, fifty-two, or ninety-two, Academy Day is always a fun time. Several alumni came back this year to cheer on their former classmates and catch up with their favorite teachers.

For this year’s event, the theme of Academy Day was the Wild West. Every grade had their own appropriately-themed game, while the seniors all lent a hand at the barbeque with the money raised funding part of the annual senior service trip to the Dominican Republic. Nearly every student contributed some time to Academy Day, either helping set up, cleaning at the end, or running one of the booths.


My favorite event of the day had to be when it was Ms. Crig’s turn to volunteer at the pie-throwing booth. While she was yelling, “You got nothing!” some students from the lower school managed to hit her square in the forehead with a whipped cream and graham crackers pie. And yes, we have pictures.

img_2283 img_2284