Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

At the end of their final Collection, the class of 2024 streamed onstage for a final dance, and shouts of SEN-IORS!
Class of 2024's Last Collection [Brief & Video]
With heartfelt speeches and whole-class choreography, seniors said farewell to their teachers and underclassmen.
Members of Friends Schools class of 2025 pose for a photo before their first prom.
Photos, Dancing, Memories - and Don't Forget the Food [Brief]
Missed prom? A Quill correspondent and first-time attendee recaps everything you need to know.
Friends juniors prepare for the 2023 Homecoming dance.
'Back to the Future' at Friends School [Brief]
Homecoming 2023 threw students from the '80s to the future, as DJ Ok got everyone on their feet, and even faculty busted a move.
Fans line up for snowballs from a Kona Ice truck during a break in the rain on Scarlet and Grey day.
Scarlet & Grey Day Hits the Quarter Century Mark [Brief]
On a recent rainy Saturday, Park and Friends School sports teams faced off in a series of contests, cheered on by hundreds of soggy fans.
On the final day of Spirit Week, seniors dressed in Friends School colors - scarlet and grey - for the annual Pep Rally.
A Silly, Spirited Week [Brief]
Leading up to Rivalry Day, students dressed up to show their school spirit - and sense of humor.
A senior accesses the Common App landing page for the University of Delaware. As college deadlines approach, the class of 24 is sleepy and stresses.
Seniors Feel College Pressure as Early Deadlines Approach [Brief]
The mood in senior hall is tense, as sleep-starved teens scramble to finish their essays - along with a heavy load of mid-semester schoolwork.
The Morgan State University Marching Band processes down the Friends School driveway, lined with cheering crowds of students, from preschoolers to 12th graders.
In a Year of Tragedy, Morgan Band Concert a Particular Gift [Brief]
Friends students expressed gratitude for the marching band's energetic performance - especially so soon after a shooting on the Morgan State University campus injured five students.
In Orioles fan and 12th grade dean Josh Carlins office, Friends memorabilia and a recent Baltimore Sun front page celebrating the teams winning season have pride of place.
Fans Dress for MLB Success on Friends' 'Orange Thursday' [Brief]
Led this season by an exciting core of young, up-and-coming stars, the Orioles have won back the hearts of many Friends School fans.
Award-winning novelist Jenny Offill visits the 10th grade English class of Rob Traviesso - her own former student.
Upper School Author Visit Brings Reunion [Brief]
Novelist Jenny Offill spent a day on campus meeting with students at the invitation of her own former student - English teacher Rob Travieso.
Senior Maeve Reichert, head of the literary magazine Mock Turtle, talks to potential 9th grade recruits during the 2023 clubs fair.
Highlights From Upper School Clubs Fair [Brief]
Dozens of clubs showed their stuff and courted new members at the high-energy, candy-fueled gathering on the quad.

Haunted House Makes Comp Sci Less Scary, More Fun [Review]

So many things make Halloween great:  the costumes, the candy, the parties – and of course, the Advanced Topics in Computer Science Haunted House. 
Sadie Palermo
A plastic skull greeted visitors to the computer science haunted house – then jumped at them when they got too close.

It may be November, but fond memories of Halloween continue to follow us through the months until October comes around again. So many things make Halloween one of the best holidays:  the costumes, the candy, the parties – and of course, the Advanced Topics in Computer Science Haunted House. 

Seniors Darius Danai and Noah Ripke, and teacher Joel Hammer, enjoy the creepy ambiance at last month’s computer science haunted house. (Sadie Palermo)

Last month, while searching the halls of Friends for free candy, I talked to Computer Science Chair Joel Hammer about the haunted house project he began last year. Why did he do it? 

The short answer: he really likes Halloween. 

The longer answer, he says, is that context matters in Computer Science. Opportunities for longer-term creative projects are important for learning.  

“[I want students] to realize that as hard as we work in ACS, … that you can actually do something with it, something kind of fun,” Hammer said. “I think [when you] have a broader goal – like, ‘Let’s have a fun haunted house. How can we achieve that?’ – you get an opportunity to be more creative, but also to learn more, because you’re directing your own studies.”

Walking into the computer science classroom-turned-haunted-house, I first noticed the immersive lighting. A pinkish-red glow engulfed everything in the room, creating a barrier between the haunted house and the boring hallway outside.

Hammer informed me that the lights were kind donations from his neighbors. As they were out of town and not using their decorations, he borrowed them. 

As visitors walked in the door, a plastic skull would jump out at anyone standing in front of it.

It caused a variety of reactions. I jumped. But others, like Upper School Spanish teacher Tom Binford, were unfazed.

After that, visitors had options.

“You can come play the video game, or the lights are gonna be interactive in some way. You can play with the lights or just have the spider jump out at you,” Hammer said. “Or ‘take the candy and run’ is also an option.”

One of the creepier student projects was a portrait with moving eyes created by Ronan Glick and Matthew Weisman. Flipping the poster around to reveal a mess of tape and wires, Glick showed me that the eyes were powered by motion sensors.

“So these are hypersonics, and the hypersonics basically detect movement. They detect an object and how far away it is. [The code] asks the hypersonic, ‘Hey, do you see something this close to you? Yes or no?’” explained Glick. “And if it sees something really far away, like if no one’s in the way, it will just see the other side of the classroom, so it won’t see anything. If it sees someone really close, it’ll say ‘Yes, there is someone really close here.’ ”

For their project, seniors Ronan Glick and Mathew Weisman rigged up a poster with motion-sensor-powered moving eyes that followed visitors around the room. (Sadie Palermo)

Then the sensor would judge which side the person was on, and move the eyes accordingly.

Glick’s reasoning for why he did the portrait lines up with  Hammer’s reason for creating the haunted house project in the first place. Glick says his team picked a simpler concept with the idea that if it worked, they could build on it further.

“So we can expand on it, and have creativity with it, which is why I chose it,” said Glick.

Overall, visitors and participants said the whole thing was a fun, immersive experience for everyone involved. 

Hammer says he hopes it will help make computer science feel accessible to more students. Try a class, he says.

“You can come in with no experience, bringing only your own personal interests and excitement and enthusiasm and ideas and hopes and dreams,” he said. “Whatever you put into it is what you get out of it.”

And for students worried about failing?

“I don’t think anybody’s ever failed computer science. I think it’s pretty hard to fail. If you’re worried, just give it a try. There’s really very little to lose – except, you know, a couple of free blocks that maybe people like to have,” Hammer said. 

So remember to keep a lookout for the haunted house project around Halloween, and stop by for some fun and candy next year!

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