Ari was born in a hospital right around the corner from Latin School and has lived in Jamaica Plain all his life. He started formal education at the Rashi School, which instilled in him a strong recognition of his Jewish identity and interest in history. Soon to be a senior at Latin School, Ari is currently the Forum editor of the Argo, and loves passing on his knowledge, be it of Latin or computing, through tutoring at BLS and even a local community program. This summer he is working at the Boston Globe under the deputy editorial page editor, Dante Ramos.
The interplay of politics and media has been of interest to Ari as far back as he can remember, but the connection could probably be pinned down to watching President Clinton’s speech trying to mollify public opinion of the Lewinski scandal, followed by watching his attempts be lampooned on Saturday Night Live. At the age of 11, Ari discovered more of his technological side at summer camp, where he learned new ways to express himself through the art of web and graphic design, and was exposed to one of his (hopefully) lifelong passions, darkroom photography.
When Ari entered BLS in 2002, he knew relatively few other students, less than could be counted on one hand, and was one of the types of sixies who would actively avoid the first floor, scared of the towering upperclassmen. Somehow, he managed to make a handful of friends, and as a fivesie crafted a website for the funk band of one of these friends. Crude as it was, it attracted attention from the BLS community, and he loved receiving some recognition from his peers. He also realized that making sites was something that he could do independently of summer camp. The band broke up within weeks, but Ari was bitten by the bug of this media which seemed to be underutilized among young BLS students.
Ari continued to thrive at his studies at BLS, particularly enjoying his English and History classes. Midway through freshman year, he found a way to combine these interests with the hobby of web design: Latin School’s Seevak competition. He found two friends in the hallway who also had some technical skills, and, in order to entice them, posed the question “Do you want to win a thousand dollars?”
The topic of their site was the Kenyan activist and environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, the recent winner of a Nobel peace prize. Maathai’s story of overcoming sexism on a national scale was eye-opening for Ari, partially because he had never experienced anything similar and could not imagine that a country could allow this and be called a democracy. She courageously fought against the corrupt president of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moi, and went on to found one of Africa’s leading NGOs, the Greenbelt Movement, which does more than just plant trees, it sows ideas of civic engagement, women’s rights and environmentalism among participants from 15 countries. The team was inspired by her struggle, and tied for third place, determined to compete again.
In 2005, the team was moved by the film “Good Night and Good Luck”; and began working on a site about journalist Edward R. Murrow, and Ari also continued to increase his involvement writing for Latin’s own paper, the Argo. Later that year, the team won first place in the competition and Ari discovered that he would be the co-editor of the A&E section of the newspaper in the following year.
Ari has been interested in public service since examining the great good done by figures such as Maathai and Murrow but also from witnessing the potential damage that can be done by individuals who claim to represent the people from his studies in BLS’s Facing History and Ourselves class. He has himself seen the amount of positive change one can make by investing time and effort, interacting with young people as a counselor at camp, and also by teaching adults how to use computers and the internet at MIT’s Families Accessing Computers program.
In the future, Ari would love to continue his involvement with journalism, working on a school or community paper in college, perhaps through photojournalism or just by covering stories. He is not yet sure what he wants to study, but has a feeling it will be connected to his interests of politics and history.
Ari’s sponsor this summer is Dante Ramos of the Boston Globe.