Category Archives: Interviews

Greetings From Japan

by Marisa Kaplita

As much as any Branford student says they hate being here and wished they could go to a different school, they can’t deny that going to Branford High does have its advantages.  One of the coolest advantages by far is we are so close to Yale and therefore are presented with a variety of different exchange students each year whose parents came to America to study there.  In the past we have had students from Turkey, France, Italy, China, and this year we are presented with three Japanese exchange students.

Eisuke who is a freshman and Shunsuke and Hisashi who are both sophomores, came to Branford at the beginning of this year and are now used to much of the school, language, and wild American lifestyle.  They have been here for half the year and their English is improving immensely, but even Eisuke told me that, “the hardest thing about learning English is reading and writing.”  Which is true, we have one of the strangest languages and spelling systems, I feel for anyone who has to learn English as a second language.

Being a new student is a difficult adjustment, so begin a new student in a new country must have been a real shock, but they all seemed to adjusted well into our school and seem to be enjoying it greatly.  I’m hoping that they will have great things to say about Branford to all of their friends and family back home.  Hisashi even mentioned that he thought, “All the people here are so kind and the teachers are all very nice.”  He has yet sees the dark side of America, so as long as he stays clear of watching Jersey Shore while he’s here he should have a pretty good view of teenage life in America.

All three students are also very much into music, Eisuke plays the piano, Shunsuke plays the violin and Hisashi plays the cello.  Both Shunsuke and Hisashi play in the school orchestra, taught by the wonderful teachings of Mrs. Christine Cohen.  Both Shunsuke and Hisashi both love playing in the school orchestra and Shunsuke even said that,” [His] favorite thing about Branford High is that there is a class for orchestra.”

So, if you haven’t gotten a chance you met any of our new friends, make sure you do quickly, because Hisashi will be leaving soon in March, and Eisuke and Shunsuke at the end of the year.  We need to make sure they leave America with full knowledge of fist bumping, Lady Gaga, Fruit Roll Ups, and the rest of our goofy American ways.


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A Close-to-Home Nobel Prize Winner


by Meglin Bodner

Growing up on a farm with two brothers and sisters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Thomas Steitz didn’t expect to be a Nobel Prize winner later in life.  Well, as it turns out, that is exactly what happened.  He won the prize for studying the structure and function of the ribosome. His work helped others to create drugs that helped cure diseases.

Professor Steitz was just an average kid in school.  In fact Mr. Steitz almost flunked the 2nd grade, but he gradually got better in school. It wasn’t until high school that he started to become interested in science. Then he moved on to get his post graduate degrees at Harvard and was an undergraduate at Lawrence College in Wisconsin.

He said his “teachers were inspiring” and both them and his mentors have been very important to his work. His first interest was stimulated by Jim Watson (who studied ribosomes), Wally Gilbert (who determined the sequence of nucleotides in nucleic acid), Paul Berg (who made contributions to the basic research in nucleic acids), and Francis Crick (who revealed the genetic code). At Lawrence College, Mr. Steitz had Professor Bob Rosenberg who got him interested in chemistry. (The professor was his ticket to an uncharted island that he would later find as remarkable.) Max Perutz also inspired Mr. Steitz on the path to chemistry.  He even gave a speech after Mr. Steitz won the Nobel Prize for building the first atomic model of hemoglobin.

Mr. Steitz became a professor of biochemistry and pursued macromolecular (large molecule) structures. A man named Brian Hartley (an enzymologist) suggested Mr. Steitz’s first independent research project. Mr. Steitz studied the enzyme wall and it surprised him that RNA was so tightly packed.

The Nobel Prize Banquet was held on December 10, 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden. About 1,500 people attended this big event. Professor Steitz was privileged to meet the King (Carl XVI Gustaf) and Queen (Silvia) of Sweden. After the banquet, he returned to his home in Stony Creek, CT. Professor Steitz was honored for his accomplishments.

We were very lucky to have Mr.Steitz and his wife, Mrs. Steitz, come to our school and give our school a lecture on their life work.  It was a privilege for us to meet a Nobel Prize Winner, because not many schools have the same opportunity.  It was a pleasure to have Mr. Steitz come to our school, and hopefully he will come in future years as well.

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