Cardinal Notes

information and reflection about Joseph Case High School

Volume 12, No. 3 *** September 21, 2015

Two important reminders

No School for students on Friday, September 25 as teachers will be engaged in their frist in-service day of the year.

A reminder that Tuesday, September 29 is a late start day at Joseph Case High School. Students should arrive at school no earlier than 9:45 a.m. for a 10 a.m. start to the day. Buses will pick children up approximately two and a half hours after their usual pick-up time.

Reminder: School Council

The first School Council meeting will meet this Thursday, September 24 at 6 p.m. in the main office's conference room..

As required by Massachusetts General Law, the School Council is comprised of parents, teachers, administrators, students and community members.

Faculty school council members include Karen Fisher, Christopher Kenyon and Anthony Palladino. The community representative is Janice Partridge. School Council meetings are open to the public.

Zeitoun Interdisciplinary Day

Two years after the success of our 2013 school-wide interdisciplinary day focused on Thorton Wilder’s Pulitzer prize-winning 1927 classic The Bridge of San Luis Rey followed by the 2014 study of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Case High faculty and staff looked this year to Dave Eggers’ non-fictional work Zeitoun.

For the third consecutive year, faculty members at the high school volunteered to read the book over the summer in preparation for an interdisciplinary event in September. Teachers were challenged to come up with an activity linked to the character of Zeitoun’s heroism in the face of disaster while a victim of racial/ethnic unjust incarceration. Some classes chose to spend the period focusing on the work; others looked for supplementary or complementary activities to be done in class, ranging from an entire lesson to one question within the given period.

Zeitoun resonates because of its twofold relevance: first as a remembrance ten years after Hurricane Katrina, one of the country’s biggest natural disasters since the Dust Bowl. Secondly, from a social justice point of view given the events in the past year in Ferguson, MO, last spring’s riots in Baltimore, and this week’s school suspension of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Texas freshman who was detained by police after bringing in a homemade alarm clock to school to show his engineering teacher.

By the end of the school day, Joseph Case High school provided students with multiple opportunities to participate in and bear witness to a true, varied, collaborative and profound interdisciplinary experience.

The activities include, but are not limited to:


· Philosophical chairs focusing on profiling and the influence of media

· Socratic Seminar focusing on human rights issues

· In-class written response on Zeitoun’s decision to remain in New Orleans as opposed to remaining with his family and the impact of that choice.

· In-class written response on the impact of Katrina and its aftermath on Kathy Zeitoun resulting in both physical and psychological struggles.


· Department-wide math problems:

  1. The average nationwide flood insurance premium in 2004 (pre­Katrina) was $438. There were 5.3 million people paying flood insurance in the US. Using the inflation rates below, what should have been the average nationwide flood insurance premium in 2014 if Katrina did not hit the US?
  2. The average nationwide flood insurance premium in 2014 (post­Katrina) was $700. How much did Hurricane Katrina cost each flood insurance policy? How much did it cost the country in flood insurance alone?


· U.S. History has been defined, at least partially, by the rights of citizens. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to explicitly state what rights must be protected at all costs. However, at times of great peril (Civil War, World War I, World War II, etc.) these rights have not always been interpreted in the same manner. In the book Zeitoun, the protagonist of the story is arrested in New Orleans under suspicion of looting. He was denied medical treatment, a phone call and a lawyer. Many would argue that his fourth, fifth, and sixth amendment rights were violated. In this Socratic Seminar, we will discuss the book Zeitoun in the context of the following guided questions.

  1. In your opinion, was Zeitoun targeted as a result of his race or his religious beliefs?
  2. What were the social and legal consequences of Hurricane Katrina?
  3. When chaos emerges, will people inevitably choose order over freedom?
  4. Were Zeitoun’s constitutional rights violated?
  5. Do you believe the events of Zeitoun mirror the modern race issues in Baltimore and
  6. Fergusson?
  7. Has your opinion of Zeitoun changed as a result of his legal issues after the book was published?

The effects of Katrina on the Louisiana economy and the U.S. economy are still being felt today. While the estimated insurance cost for rebuilding the homes in New Orleans was 25 billion, the multiplier effect in economics tells us that the impact is greater.

Students will be given an article on the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina.

  1. They will then be given an explanation of the multiplier effect.
  2. Students will be shown a video of the devastation of Katrina
  3. Finally, a class discussion will emerge. What does the desperation of Katrina in the
  4. context of the story of Zeitoun teach us about the economic repercussions of a natural disaster? What does it teach us about the relationship between economic and social issues?

Showing the students a 10-minute segment from the Jane Elliot “Blue Eye/Brown Eye” Experiment, which was televised and called the “Eye of the Storm.” After this video we will discuss the following questions:

  1. In what ways were the students divided?
  2. What pledges were given?
  3. What did this division do to the class and the students individually?
  4. How did their body language indicate excitement or anxiety?
  5. What happened to their assessment scores (the card pack)?
  6. What did this experiment show regarding division? Let’s focus on the effects it had on the students physically and cognitively. Let’s also think about how privilege played a factor.

After this we will transition into Zeitoun. As a class we will discuss the following topics:

  1. Was Zeitoun specifically targeted because of his differences? Please give specific evidence as to why you believe this to be true.
  2. How has Zeitoun’s opinion of America changed because of his experiences during
  3. Hurricane Katrina? Again, let’s cite specifics from the literature.
  4. What parallels can be seen between the student’s experiences in Elliot’s study versus Zeitoun’s experience in New Orleans?
  5. Looking specifically at mental processing and behavior modification, which we see in both these examples, which psychologist do you feel best explains this?


· A look at environmental consequences- habitat loss, pollution, erosion - by examining before and after pictures.

· The students will work in teams of 2, using a smart phone as their web search, for approx 20 – 30 min and then write a one-page response to the following questions:

When the levees failed in New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina, the city was flooded with water mixed with raw sewage and dead people and animals. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Red Cross, and government officials became very concerned about infectious diseases. What diseases were they worried about and why? What can be done, if anything, to minimize this danger in future storms?

· The students will work in teams of two, using a smart phone as their web search, for approximately 20 minutes and then write a one-page response to the following questions:

What did engineers determine as the reason why the levees failed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina? How could it have been avoided? What needs to be done to assure it doesn’t happen again?

· Students will use an interactive Touchcast video (accessible by searching 'Zeitoun' at This video focuses on paint, the source of Zeitoun's livelihood. Links are included to written and video resources, so that students can access information at their own pace. They will learn what paint is, a bit about its history, and how to prepare tempera paint. Students will demonstrate their new knowledge by answering a short quiz, and the results of two survey questions embedded in the video will be used to decide how we will extend what they learned to a future laboratory experiment.

· Students will look at the natural and man-made reasons why Katrina was such a deadly storm:

· Students will consider the concept of "home," and give some thought to what they envision a good home to be like. Also, students will give thought and expression to the book of their own lives, of which they are increasingly assuming authorship.

· Students will investigate ongoing account of the Temple professor who was recently wrongly accused of espionage and compare his story to Zeitoun’s.

Foreign Language

Department-generated vocabulary lesson of cultural concepts in Zeitoun.

Teachers will discuss the character of Zeitoun in the novel versus his character as reflected in recent media.


· Imaging a character in the text using the features learned so far in Visual Basic

· How does Zeitoun relate to thinking and problem solving as in programming

· Video recording of different Case High Zeitoun activities with subsequent viewing and discussion

· Using paint, draw a character from Zeitoun, insert it into a word document, an then using Word write about the character

Phys Ed / Health

Classes will be participating in the following activity in respect to the summer reading:

The Great Escape from the Big Easy

· We will set up the gymnasium as follows: PE equipment (nets, balls, racquets...etc) will be placed on the gymnasium floor throughout the facility. This equipment represents the rubble that was present in the streets of New Orleans as Zeitoun was navigating his canoe.

· The class will be divided into two teams and given 4 scooters per (representing either a canoe or skiff) that students will need to decide how to use.

· The scooters will be used to navigate from one house to the next, rescuing items in the "water".

· The goal of the activity is to navigate everyone in class from one house to the "safety" zone (that we will distinguish pre-activity), while collecting "important" items in the water along the way.

· The team who reaches the safety zone first, with all of the items, will be determined the winner.


· Paper Marbling using color with shaving cream and liquid watercolor paints; simulation of the murky waters in New Orleans as seen in the documentary clips of Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke (Friday, 9/11/15).

· Zydeco dance steps and music.

· Paper Marbling using value with India ink and Photo-Flo 200 solution; simulation of the murky waters in New Orleans as seen in the documentary clips of When the Levees Broke.

· Lobby Bulletin Board based on the documentary clips of When the Levees Broke

· Exploring Hurricane Katrina through a photojournalist’s lens. Responding to imagery and video from Katrina both positive and negative depictions.

· Using Photoshop to create digital art with mood. Using layers and opacity to overlap images and text.

Tech Ed

· Emergency rules and regulations as in the spirit of the regulations verses actual implementation. What the book was about, history of Hurricane Katrina, and Zeitoun's record after the book.

· Emergency protocol issues: 1. mandatory evacuation 2. Why did some of the characters have large amounts of money on them? 3. Is it fair to risk the lives of first responders to save people who did not follow protocol (evacuation)?

In closing

Lots of info to share with you today. I hope to complement it later this week with more pictures from the event and our first Parent Professional Development opportunity as well as share some of my reflections on the first month of the school year. It's been a great start of school. Let's keep the momentum going!