The Harbinger Online

The New in Brief: 10/8

New iPhone

Apple announced the iPhone 5, the newest edition to its line of smart phones, on Sept. 12. The new phone boasts many new features such as a 3D option for Apple’s map application and a panoramic camera.

Within its first week of sales, Apple sold a little over five million units of it’s newest phone. These record sales, however, were much lower than what critics had estimated.

For the most part, the phone has been received positively by the public, with just one major error in the graphics of the maps. Some images appear to be blurry or melting, such as the view of the Tacoma Narrows bridge in Washington.

A small percentage of iPhone 5 owners also reported other problems such as short battery life and faulty wifi connection. However, this is not the case with every unit sold.

Despite the errors there are also many new, well-running features. The dimensions of the phone have changed to where the screen is easier to hold, spanning four inches long. The phone also now runs on an LTE network as opposed to 3G which, according to ABC News technology editor Joanna Stern, basically means really fast web browsing.

With all of these new changes Apple is calling this, “The biggest thing to happen to the iPhone since the iPhone.”

The Search for the New Superintendent

On Sept. 20 Gene Johnson announced his retirement from his position as superintendent of the Shawnee Mission school district. His term is due to end on July 1, 2013.

Now, the District is faced with the task of hiring someone to replace Johnson.

According to Patty Mach, the president of the SMSD School Board, the first step in this process is to hire a search firm, which the district has yet to do. The search firm will look at candidates from across the nation that fit the requirements and qualifications of the position, which the community decides on.

Parents, teachers and various citizens who work within the district will tell the school board what they want to see in the candidate by writing letters, answering questionnaires and speaking at school board meetings.

“We will be putting together a leadership profile based on people’s survey answers, questions, etc.” Mach said.

Based on this information, Mach and other school board members will choose which of the candidates presented to them by the search firm is best for the job.

Mach says that the board will have hired a candidate by spring 2013.

AP/IB Language Tests

This year the IB English and foreign language exam formats are going to be different from years past. The tests were redesigned to show whether students really understand the curriculum or have just memorized the information.

English teacher Laura Beachy says that, in some ways, the IOC (Individual Oral Commentary) will be more difficult for the students but in others it will be easier.

In past years, the IOC was a 15-minute oral presentation given by the student analyzing a poem previously covered in class. This year, a brand new part is being added to the IOC–an oral discussion over one of two books covered in class that year.

“That’s a lot harder for me because I’m supposed to have some notion of what kinds of comments they’ve made in class about those books and maybe follow up on that a little bit,” Beachy said.

French and German teacher Karen Pearson says that there are major changes being made in the Internal Assessment portion of the language exam. The goal of the changes is to make sure that students aren’t just rambling on about their topic without an outline but also aren’t memorizing everything they have to say without really understanding the content.

IB Science courses will not be facing any changes in exams this year. Their changes will not be coming until 2015 due to the six-year cycle that these tests run on.

Students will first experience these new changes in the spring when exams are given.

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