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The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

Honey, It’s 2024!

Dragon Tales, April 2009

Honey, It’s 2024! Revisiting Dragon Tales with Mr. Thompson

By Ocean Hiller and Ella-Devi Weerackody


Fifteen years ago, long before The Echo and even some freshmen existed, HSMSE had a school newspaper called Dragon Tales, which often featured advice columns from various teachers. In 2009, Mr. Thompson answered anonymous students’ questions regarding love, academics, body image, and more. We revisited that article with him to find out if his views on those topics have evolved since then. You can read the original advice column and other past newspaper articles at the Past Issues section of our website, This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


OH: In the advice column, someone wrote: “Dear Mr. Thompson, I think I’m homophobic,” to which you responded “Honey, it’s 2009! Love is a natural thing.” How do you think the queer community at HSMSE has changed since then? How has the general attitude towards it shifted?


PWT: I think the queer community has opened up more since 2009. It’s a culmination of queerness being more accepted by society, and this generation thinking “I don’t care, this is how I want to express myself.” And so I’m just hoping that that’s also being embraced by their fellow classmates. I’m not exactly sure because I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but I think it’s good. I don’t see outright bullying, but I think there’s more of an online bullying presence now than there was in 2009. Politics today are so much more polarized, and that bleeds out into everything; it’s a lot easier to hide behind a computer and express these dramatic viewpoints, unfortunately. So online bullying could be an issue that as a school community we need to address. As a specialized high school, we’re supposed to be on the top. We shouldn’t just be the top kids in academics, we should be the top kids in our behavior—our morality, our respect for others.


EDW: This image of you was published way back in 2009—how do you respond to concerns that you haven’t aged since that photo was taken? Are you a vampire? Tell us about your skincare routine.


PWT: Skincare, sunscreen, Botox. No kids, no smoking, and no drugs. 


EDW: Do you use retinol? 


PWT: Yes, I do at night. My skin is sensitive, so I can’t use stuff that’s too strong, but I do use a little CeraVe retinol from time to time. During the day, it’s a peptide serum. And then obviously toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen when it’s really sunny out. 


EDW: Not every day? 


PWT: No, actually I don’t use sunscreen every day. I know, it’s terrible. But I will say: partly, it’s genetics. And then, partly what you’re putting in your body or sometimes what you’re not putting in your body. Smoking definitely ages you, I would stay away from smoking. 


OH: You gave lots of relationship advice in the previous article. How do you think advances in technology since then have changed dating?


PWT: I don’t like what technology has done to this generation, because they’re all on their phones 24/7 and no one knows how to talk to anyone anymore. This is true for even young adults—you meet people out at a bar or something, but no one talks to anyone because they’re too nervous. No one wants rejection. And so people just rely on online dating. It could be a good thing, if it works for people, great. I just wish people would just put this *gestures towards phone* away for a moment and learn how to talk to someone, even if you get rejected, even if it doesn’t go anywhere: “Hey, how are you? My name is ___. What’s your name? Where do you live? What do you do for a living?” Online, you’re basing everything on an image, so you could be mildly attracted to a person but they could be crazy, they could be very normal—you don’t know. You’re just swiping left or right on just a few words and an image and hoping for the best, and then you’re going on all these first dates and a lot of times they don’t lead anywhere. And now you’re $50 in the hole because you had drinks and appetizers.

Photo by Ocean Hiller, 2024

EDW: In the original article, you gave Will and Grace and Bravo as examples of your favorite queer media. What media would you recommend now? 


PWT: I know, I can’t believe I did! Now, I would say Love, Simon—I think it’s a great movie for queer youth to watch. Also, I really enjoyed Heartstopper—I think that’s very heartfelt. I would even say X-Men—that kind of touches on it a little bit. When I was in charge of GSA, we watched Bridegroom. It’s a documentary type film about this young couple who were planning to get married, but one of them dies tragically. The other man wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral because his family didn’t accept it. So, that was good to watch because it gives you the reality of what’s going on. And I highly recommend Schitt’s Creek because it’s an amazing show.


EDW: Do you like RuPaul’s Drag Race


PWT: No, I don’t like Drag Race. I just get bored by it; it’s like the same thing over and over. The last full season I probably watched was with Bob the Drag Queen, because I like Bob. But otherwise, I just get bored. But I like the walkways. And I love the Snatch Game, that’s my favorite episode.


OH: What advice would you give to young people who are just starting to explore their queer identities? 


PWT: I would say: don’t feel the pressure to come out right away, and try to find your circle or community that you feel comfortable with to potentially explore it together—build connections with that. Find an adult who you can confide in when times get tough, and just live as unapologetically as you can.


EDW: Would you do an advice column again for The Echo?


PWT: Possibly, yes—maybe something different. It does not just have to be about queer topics. It could be other stuff too—plants or chemistry or just anything.


OH: That’s it for the questions; thank you so much for your time!


PWT: Great, thank you guys.


It was so fun to speak and reflect with Mr. Thompson! If you’d like to read more about MSE’s past newspapers, be sure to check out Audrey and Annalie’s articles, “I Was Late to Class Because…” and “Are You a True New Yorker?”

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