Students Audition for the Spring Musical

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By Grace Walters

Winter is among us, meaning students and staff are in the throes of preparing for the 2018 spring musical, Me and My Girl.  

Set in the 1930s, Me and My Girl pertains to the life of a character named Bill Snibson, a cockney man who unexpectedly learns that he is the 14th heir to Earl of Hareford.  The musical was written by playwrights Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose and composed by Noel Gay. There is something for everybody in Me and My Girl; it incorporates a blend of romance and comedy while appealing to people’s musical appetites.  

The AHS spring musical is jointly produced by Meagan Bessette, Madalyn Kitchen, and Michael Byrne.  As the chief producer, Meagan Bessette is in charge of ordering the rights, scripts, and music scores.  In addition, she coordinates the public committee and the stage managers and organizes sponsorships.

Madalyn Kitchen mainly produces the musical aspects of the production.  She explains that her job consists of “working with soloists, company numbers, pitch accuracy, acting, staging, […] as well as delivery.”  

Michael Byrne oversees the theatrics of the production; he manages sets, costumes, acting, choreography, staging, lighting, and more.  

Auditions for the musical were held during the first two weeks of December, and the full cast list was posted on Thursday, December 20, 2018.  Audition sign-up sheets are posted on the bulletin board outside of the drama room the week before the auditions. The first round of auditions consists of three parts: singing, acting and dancing respectively.  Students are required to select a song and a monologue to perform in front of a panel of judges consisting of Michael Byrne, Madalyn Kitchen. Meagan Bessette, and the stage managers.

Most students put a lot of thought into their monologue and song choice.  Senior Ben Horsburgh, who has been involved in every AHS musical since his freshman year, says he did some research prior to his audition; he found the character who he wanted to audition for, which was Bill Snibson, and explored websites such as StageAgent which have plot synopses and character overviews.  “I found that [Bill Snibson] is quite a witty guy and a bit of a slob.  I took those adjectives and then looked for comedic male monologues […] then I just put a cockney accent over it” says Horsburgh.  

The dancing audition is similar to the singing and acting auditions.  However, rather than performing privately, students must collectively report to the Lowe auditorium where they are put into groups of four and taught a choreographed routine.  They then must perform the dance with their group on stage in front of the same panel of judges, as well as the rest of the auditioners.

Freshman Dylan Scopetski, who has been participating in musical theatre ever since his first production in sixth grade at the Ottoson Middle School, says he “never felt nervous” before his audition “because it was pretty chill and everything was really well-organized and I came into it feeling really prepared.”  However, some students have different experiences. Senior Henry Walters says, “Before your audition, it kind of feels like someone tied a string to your heart and added bricks to the other end, one for each minute as the clock ticks by closer to your audition.”

After the first round of auditions is over, callback auditions are held the following week.

“We usually need to hold callbacks for some of the principal characters just to narrow down who would be the best fit,” says Madalyn Kitchen.  “What we tell students is ‘We have a problem of who will be cast in the show and you are showing us how you can be the solution to that problem. Be the solution.”

The full cast list was posted shortly after the first and second round of auditions.  Most, if not all of the auditioners are contributing to the musical in some way. “We want our students to do well and we try to include as many as we can,” says Kitchen.  “Even if they are not cast, many of them remain involved by helping with publicity, set building, painting, stage managing, and more.”

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Annual MLK Celebration Unfolds in Arlington

Dr Oneeka Williams delivering her speech. [Image Credit: Anoushka Oke]
By Anoushka Oke

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an incredibly influential figure, known for his “I Have A Dream” speech and his civil rights activism. His birthday is observed yearly with a federal holiday,  a time for reflection and gratitude for King’s work and achievements. This year, it fell on the twenty-first of January.

For many residents of Arlington, the highlight of the day was the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Observance, run by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee. The event unfolded at the Arlington Town Hall on the night of King’s birthday observance, and featured guest speaker Dr. Oneeka Williams, a urologic surgeon.

It has been 31 years since Arlington’s first birthday observance for king; it originally started when a minister named Charles Grady noticed an increase of anti-Semitic acts in the community and, according to event emcee Pearl Morrison, decided that “it [was] time [they got] together and [had] a community celebration of Dr. King [in order to bring] out the conversation about diversity and being accepting in Arlington, Boston, and Medford.”

Hearing the call from Grady, Morrison and some others responded by organizing the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Observance event. In its first few years of operation, the event consisted of a dinner and was held at the First Baptists Church. Morrison explained that attendees of the celebration “used to have a potluck dinner and then stay in the hall, have the [guest] speaker, have a little music, [and] recognize people in the community that exemplify Dr. King’s philosophy, his work, and his education, and this life.”

Eventually, it shifted into the event it is today

A heavily attended event means a great need for meticulous planning. Though it was just last weekend, the members of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee have been working hard for months in preparation for the celebration. Morrison, a founding member of the committee, works with the group to prepare for the celebration by getting a guest speaker, finding someone to play music, and asking members of the Arlington community for sponsorship. Additionally, the committee works together to choose the recipient of the Community Award, who is awarded at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Observance.

According to Morrison, “the Community Award is given to people that have done something in the way of furthering Dr. King’s legacy.” This year, it’s going to a local activist named Barbara Boltz.

Boltz has a history of participating in activism for social justice; prior to her residency in Arlington, she had participated in protests against the Vietnam War, was involved in the anti-apartheid movement that opposed racial justice in South Africa, and was a member of a group called the Rainbow Coalition that worked to get minorities elected to the City Council and the School Committee. Since coming to Arlington, she has continued her social justice work, involving herself in groups such as the Vision 20/20 Diversity Task Group and establishing the Arlington United for Justice with Peace. “Barbara Boltz is a community person: she volunteers on the the Mystic Valley NAACP, [is an advocate for] fair housing, [and is] on the Superintendents Diversity Advisory Committee,” explained Morrison.

The responsibility of choosing someone to speak at the event falls on Morrison, as part of her Mistress of Ceremonies duties. After careful contemplation, it was decided that the honor would be given to Dr. Oneeka Williams. Morrison first heard Williams speak at the 25th annual Women of Courage Convention Awards Luncheon; Williams had delivered an acceptance speech after receiving the award.

Like Boltz, Williams empowers others through her work; her main focus is the lack of women in STEM fields. On top of being a urologic surgeon, she is also a children’s book author. Her books feature a girl super-surgeon called Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo, who is a super-surgeon. By introducing Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo as both a girl and a person of color who loves science, Williams’ creation of the character breaks barriers. She believes that displaying diverse, science-loving role models to children is the key to fixing the gap between the amount of men and the amount of women in STEM fields. “Girls seeing themselves being successful in STEM fields… comes from the images that they see and [are] surrounded by very early, in terms of ‘what does a STEM career person look like,’” says Williams, “Is it an old white guy with spectacles, or do they see women in multiple shades and ages being successful?”

Williams’ passion for encouraging girls to integrate themselves further into STEM fields comes, in part, from her own experiences. Williams is one of 0.001% of urologic surgeons who are both female and African-American, and has personally witnessed the shortage of diversity in STEM careers. Since both her race and her gender are underrepresented in her area of work, Williams’ entrances into patients’ rooms are sometimes met with comments like “you don’t look like a surgeon.” Williams is determined to prevent science-loving girls to endure the same experiences.

Williams’ gave her speech towards the end of the commemoration, following a night of playful music and thought-provoking speeches that rang through the Arlington Town Hall.

As the night’s program began, baskets in which people could contribute cash donations to the committee began circulating the room. When each basket was returned to the hosts of the celebration, Morrison stepped up to the podium to introduce Boltz before presenting her with the award. In her introduction, Morrison read of a few quotes of King’s that she felt described Boltz. Morrison highlighted Boltz’s tendency to fight for others with quotations such as “life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”

It was then time for what many would consider the main event. Williams was introduced by Brian Greene, her pastor, then got up to the podium to deliver her speech.

Williams was met with a burst of applause. She started out by thanking Greene for his “spiritual leadership,” and also thanked Morrison and the rest of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee for the opportunity to speak about King, who had greatly inspired her in the past. To show her gratitude to the committee, Williams announced that she would donate a set of her books to each of the elementary schools.

She then led the audience to picture an imaginary situation in which she was seeing King as a patient. She fabricated a conversation between herself and King, then determined that the solution to his woes was positivity. To close out her speech, Williams told the audience the five habits of positivity that she sticks by, all of which she believes allowed King to be successful in his activism:

  1. Believe that, if there is a problem, there is a solution.
  2. Know that any limit seeking to keep you in a box can be converted into an opportunity.
  3. When confronted with positive things and negative things, keep the positive and get rid of the negative.
  4. Know that we all have a specific purpose for which we are here.
  5. Have an attitude of gratitude and believe that there are no limits.

Inside the Young Americans and Young Progressives

By Anoushka Oke and Lauren Bain

The recent push towards greater public involvement in politics coupled with widespread differences in opinion have resulted in a tense political climate within the United States. Often basing their beliefs on news stories and political events, most people in the country align themselves with either liberal-leaning or conservative-leaning views. The duality of the general public’s political beliefs has reflected itself in the students of Arlington High School.

Despite the relatively liberal demographic of the town, there are both students who identify as liberal and those who identify as conservative in the school. As a way of encouraging students to express and act on their political beliefs, there were previously two clubs — Young Democrats and Young Republicans — that met regularly. However, no clubs by those names exist this year; Young Democrats changed their name to Young Progressives, while Young Republicans disappeared altogether and was in a way replaced with another conservatively-aligned club called the Young Americans.

The Young Americans

The Young Americans is a club that meets every Tuesday during X-Block in Mr. Matson’s room. Led by club president, Mike Pugliese (sophomore) and vice president, Aidan Fecteau (sophomore), meetings typically include discussions about current events from a conservative standpoint. Pugliese says that they “do a four corners activity like agree/disagree.”

While they maintain a good amount of attendees per meeting, Pugliese and Fecteau acknowledge the challenges of presenting conservative ideals to a school that is mostly liberal.

In classes, Pugliese and Fecteau often worry about their political views affecting their grades. Fecteau knows that “teachers have different views than I do, but other students with left wing ideas can express them freely. I feel affected. My grade could be affected.”

Aside from teachers, Pugliese and Fecteau battle misconceptions other students have about them and their club. Pugliese says, “People just think that we’re all just straight white males that are just jerks at this school, and that we’re all athletic and a part of sports teams, and that we’re kind of stupid. I think we’re stereotyped.”

Despite the challenges their club faces, Pugliese and Fecteau still want to challenge the status quo of Arlington High School’s political dynamic. Pugliese remarks, “We’re not as different as you think just because of the color party we are. You’re blue, we’re red. We’re more similar than you think. We both are striving for the same thing, which is peace. We’re just going about it in a different way.”

The Young Progressives

The Young Progressives meets after school on Wednesdays in computer lab 321, with Mr. Snyder as their teacher advisor. It’s led by a team of student officers: co-presidents Griffin Gould (junior) and Jack Simon (senior), vice-president Maya Pockrose (senior), and secretary Adam Forbes (junior).

The club ran under the name Young Democrats until they joined a non-partisan group called March For Our Lives, which does not allow members to have any party affiliations. The club’s membership in March For Our Lives resulted in their name change from Young Democrats to Young Progressives before the 2018-2019 school year. Additionally, Gould mentions that the club “wanted to be part of the growing movement to shift away from the two party system.”

Young Progressives is an action-oriented club; Gould says that the club’s main purpose is to “facilitate volunteer opportunities, [by] keeping an ear to the ground about what’s going on in Arlington, in Massachusetts, [and] in America, and then relaying that information to the members of [the Young Progressives].” Though they are technically non-partisan, the club tends to focus on causes that have been, in recent years, associated with more liberal ideals, such as gun control or environmental activism.

The club helped organize last year’s walkouts for gun reform, as well as one this past October for consent education. They also work with an environmentalist cause called the Sunrise Movement, which Gould explains to be “a movement to combat climate change with A Green New Deal, which is a comprehensive piece of legislation.”

When the club is not planning, running, or participating in events, they spend their afternoon meetings discussing and debriefing current events.

Relations Between the Clubs

Despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum, the two clubs typically have friendly relations. Members of each club occasionally show up at the other’s meetings; sophomore Mike Pugliese of the Young Americans explained that “[the Young Americans have] had three people from [the Young Progressives] club come here” and that himself and some others from the club have attended a few of the Young Progressives’ meetings. The trend of members from each club sometimes attending the other’s meetings was also noticed by Gould, who recounted that “sometimes the leader of [the Young Americans], Mike Pugliese, comes to our meetings, just to sort of observe.”

Other than occasional attendance at each other’s meetings, the clubs remain mostly separate; however, there have been a few attempts to bring the two clubs together and organize various activities. They have communicated a bit about potentially running a four-corners activity or holding a public debate.

They’re Not All That Different

Looking in from the outside, these clubs might seem like polar opposites. But, if you take a closer look, they are much more similar than you may think.

At their cores, Young Americans and Young Progressives want to appeal to both sides of the aisle, but don’t deny that conservative and liberal ideals are what their clubs center around, respectively. Gould noted that many of their “volunteer and activism opportunities are non-partisan, like our environmental actions…and a lot of the gun reform actions are technically non-partisan… A lot of our consent-ed actions are non-partisan. So I think there’s a lot to appeal to anybody, but in general our discussions and our morals and beliefs and where we look for opportunities is more liberal-directed.”

Pugliese had a similar diplomatic response, emphasizing Young Americans’ desire to find mutual values among political ideologies: “The purpose of this isn’t just to spread right-ideology and poison minds, it’s to find common ground between the right wing and the left wing, so we can have a better environment in the school for everyone.

The Ultimate Message

Overall, both clubs simply want to communicate their beliefs and have their point of view understood. Pugliese expressed that “both [clubs are] trying to express our opinions in a respectful manner, and have our voices be heard.”

According to Gould, the Young Progressives’ main message to the school is that “it’s not hard to get involved” and that “getting involved is as easy or as hard as [one] make[s] it”. He believes that getting involved is a great way to create change in the world. To experience such opportunities, Gould encourages students to reach out by emailing him, joining the Young Progressives Facebook group, or coming to the meetings.

The main point that the Young Americans want to promote about their club is that their relatively conservative beliefs do not instantly make them horrible people. Pugliese and Fecteau also encourage people to come to their meetings, even if one’s opinions are “not [the same as] what we believe; that’s actually what we want more of.” They believe that having varying opinions expressed in their club will help find a balance between the right wing and the left wing, which will, according to Pugliese, create “a better environment in the school for everyone.”

Transgender Students in AHS

 

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By Lucy Spangler

In the Massachusetts midterm elections, three ballot questions were voted on. Question 3 ended up passing; however had it not, the consequences could have been dire for the Massachusetts transgender community. Question 3 is a gender identity discrimination referendum dealing with Senate Bill 2470, also known as the bill that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places. A “yes” vote would support the bill and a “no” vote would repeal the bill.

I first heard about this bill while attending Boston pride last June. I was curious, so in the weeks leading up to the midterms I was able to interview the leaders of Arlington High School’s GSA, Joanie Cha, Henry Walters, and Morgan Curley. I was hoping to gain some insight through the GSA into what it is like for transgender students at AHS.

I started out by asking them if, in a state that traditionally votes democratically, did they find it odd that a bill like this was being proposed in the first place.The general consensus from the three of them was that it was shocking that a bill such as this was being disputed in the first place. Next we talked about AHS as a community, specifically whether or not AHS provides adequate support for trans students. Cha and Curley brought up how one of the main day-to-day problems is the lack of gender neutral bathrooms, a struggle that not a lot of students may realize, simply because it does not affect them. “There are only two gender neutral bathrooms in the school” Cha said “[and only one] gender neutral locker room.”

Another issue is the inconsistency within the school community when it comes to support and education. “I feel like the school is very supportive in specific ways and provides resources but it is not consistent in the community,” Cha mentioned, illustrating how, while the administration might be supportive, there is a slight lack of support and understanding within the general student body.

While we were talking, the topic of the vandalism last year came up, when homophobic graffiti was found spray painted on the outside of the school. On the day after the vandalism, an assembly was held where Dr. Janger and some of the senior officers all spoke out against the vandalism and about how it did not reflect the AHS community. One would think that the GSA would have been the first ones to know about this assembly, but as it turns out, they were not even notified. Walters expressed that “it alienated a lot of people”. According to Walters, he also explained how, when they tried to reach out to Dr Janger about organizing something with the GSA and the student council, they were more or less shot down. This type of response from the administration was disappointing to members of the GSA and is an example of the disconnect between the administration and the people actually affected by issues with homophobia and transphobia within the school.

Despite these issues, they all agreed that, whatever the outcome of the midterms, the environment in AHS would not change; however, Curley and Cha both expressed their worries about the results. Curley stated that they felt that it could “embolden transphobic and homophobic people”, while Cha expressed that they “would feel less safe”.

When asked if any of them had any suggestions for how the school could improve the environment for transgender people, suggestions such as including more gender neutral bathrooms and locker rooms, as well as including questions about each student’s pronouns in student questionnaires and giving teachers basic gender diversity training were all brought up. Also suggested was, including gender diversity in sex ed classes and having the GSA work alongside the school to educate students. Overall, the changes proposed by Cha, Walters, and Curley are very simple changes; they would not be too difficult to implement, and would make life at school much easier for transgender, gender neutral, genderqueer, gender fluid, and non binary students at AHS.

The mention of such changes made me wonder how much training teachers actually receive and what protocols are in place for the protection of transgender students. When interviewing Mr. DiLoreto, his response to the question was that, “It’s a two part answer: our superintendent and school committee have taken on an initiative to support diversity in the Arlington schools, as a result our teachers have been a part of multiple programs and developments to support our students over the past few years”. He also added that the topic of gender diversity “is very broad. It would be very helpful for our staff to be trained better on how to support our transgender students in the issues they face on a daily basis, [issues like] name changes and identity changes have all been discussed”.

In the end, question 3 passed, which shows that there is support out there for transgender students. The fact that these issues are currently being discussed among the administration shows willingness to provide support however, the concerns from the students are also very real and there is a definite need for them to be addressed. The changes they are asking for would not cause too much disruption among the general student body, and in the end the act of acceptance and tolerance is free. The issue appears to not necessarily be a lack of support, but is a lack of comprehension and communication within the school community.

Bright Future for Burnett

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Burnett (left)

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By Ellie Crowley

Senior Ian Burnett started rowing for Arlington-Belmont Crew during the spring of his freshmen year. Choosing to row led Burnett to many opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have encountered, and eventually would lead him to represent his country in a world competition.

Freshman year, Burnett was already looking to follow in his mother’s footsteps who rowed in college and for the U.S. national team. He rowed throughout sophomore and junior year, but his rowing career peaked junior year.

During the spring season of Burnett’s junior year, he qualified for the U.S. Rowing Youth Nationals in the pair event with senior Brendan Youmell. The pair finished in the top final of the event, which Burnett describes as his proudest accomplishment.

“This was a special accomplishment” explained Burnett, “coming from such a small team as Arlington-Belmont, and going on to race against some of the best rowers in the country was an awesome experience, even if we couldn’t bring back a medal.”

The summer following his success at Youth Nationals, Burnett rowed for Community Rowing Inc. (CRI) and competed in U.S. Rowing Club Nationals in the U19 Mens 8+. His boat placed first in their event, and Burnett decided to continue rowing with the club during his senior year.

Burnett’s senior year started off successfully, placing 6th at the Head of the Charles race in the Men’s Youth 8+ event for CRI. This victory set the tone for the rest of Burnett’s fall season.

He soon received offers from numerous schools for rowing, and committed to Brown University for men’s rowing. Burnett is looking forward to his future, saying, “I am most looking forward to racing bigger and better teams in college.” College rowing attracts rowers on an international scale, implying a significantly more competitive field for Burnett to compete in.

Most recently, Burnett received an invitation to train with the United States National team, with the chance to race at the 2019 Junior World Championships in Tokyo this summer. What started as a single season of rowing on a small, local team has progressed into opportunities on the national level which indicate a bright future for Burnett and his rowing career.

Glenn Doyle flips his way through the Circus Smirkus

 

By Claire Kitzmiller

Most high school student’s extracurriculars consist of  a varsity sport, or student-organized club, an instrument, or musical theater, but, freshman Glenn Doyle spent the summer creating and traveling with the Circus Smirkus as an acrobat.

Doyle got his start while living in the Netherlands in 2013, participating in competitive acrobatics. During his first year in competition, he won the Dutch national competition, becoming a national champion at age 9.

The next year, Doyle was unable to compete so he turned to Circus. He found a love for Circus and wanted to continue after moving to Arlington in 2015.

During the summer of 2018, Doyle joined the Circus Smirkus, working and living with the group for ten weeks.

For the first three weeks, the performers put together the show.  Doyle described the creation of the show as a collaboration with the other performers, like “a coloring sheet: they have the lines and you just fill it in.”

For the next seven weeks, they toured around New England and New York performing their show, many of which were sold out. Doyle performed as a clown as well as doing some acrobatics.

Doyle said his favorite things was, “spending time with my friends and performing and just having a blast!”

Doyle encourages everyone to check out the Circus as he believes “it will change their view of the circus and clowns because if you see me as a clown, you’ll think, he’s not that scary.”

While Doyle currently competes on the Arlington High School Varsity Wrestling team, he still has a love for gymnastics and plan to continue working with the Circus in the future and possibly as a career.

 

Traditional Class Rank Ends to Improve Student Emotional Health

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By Halle Snell

Academic grades can be one of the highest anxieties in a student’s life. There is competition and comparison between students in many schools, which increases already existing stress. Some U.S. high schools administer class ranks, or numbers assigned to students that rank them from the top to the bottom of their class. This tells students how their grades compare to those of their classmates and where they fall academically in comparison to everyone else.

In many high schools, each student is assigned a number, or a rank. For example, if there are 400 students in a class, and a student’s rank is 100, they are in the top 25% of the class. If their rank is 350, they are in the bottom 25% of the class. Traditionally, the student who has the highest class rank is the valedictorian.

Class ranks are scored differently based on the school and on what classes students take. Rankings don’t take course level into account. So, if a student takes AP or honors classes but gets mostly B’s and C’s, their class ranking will be lower than a student taking standard level classes and getting all A’s.

About 60% of schools in the United States use class ranks, but AHS does not. According to guidance counselor Linda Buckley, “we did, up until a few years ago.” However the guidance department decided emotional health is more important than ranking the student’s performance, and promptly ended the tradition. “Students were stressed by looking at the ranks,” recalled Buckley, “ and making themselves sick trying to get one step higher than their classmates”.

Sophomore Genevieve Baldwin explained that class rankings would “add another level of pressure… and another thing that people can judge you about.” Baldwin has a twin sister in her grade, and they would be ranked in comparison to one another. She confessed that even if they tried not to let this affect them, “it could still be… not that great, having one of us ranked above the other.”

Many people believe that colleges value class ranks, and take where a student stands among their grade in high regard. However, this is not always true. Because of the problems surrounding class ranks at AHS, the guidance department called colleges of all tiers and asked about ranks. They are not as important as previously believed to get into college.

Ms. Buckley confirmed that in actuality, “GPA makes more of a difference. What matters most to colleges is what you do each day, the level of classes you are taking, and that you are healthy and well rounded.”

Ms. Buckley confirmed that since the removal of class ranks, the administration has “not seen kids jockeying for position since.”

Global Goods Fair Returns

By Chloe Jackson

On Tuesday, December 11th, Arlington hosted the Global Goods Foundation in the main lobby. Global Goods sold handmade jewelry, purses, and other artisan products from 11:30 AM- 3:30 PM. Students and faculty were able to browse and purchase items with the knowledge that 100% of funds are donated to programs abroad.

Former special education teacher Jacquie Rodgers of Maynard, Massachusetts, founded Global Goods following international travel and a passion for service abroad. When visiting a small town in Tanzania, Rodgers and her husband encountered a young man, Amon Elisha, in search of a higher degree. Rodgers generously sponsored Elisha through university at Dar Es Salaam University. As an offer of thanks, Elisha offered Rodgers handmade items to sell as retribution for the college expenses.

What blossomed out of this initial encounter was an organization that assists countries worldwide. Rodgers began to work with more countries to better each small community through sales of beautiful artisan items. After continuing her work abroad, Rodgers’ realized her endeavors could be accomplished on a larger scale.

After thirty years teaching, she eventually retired to focus her energy on Global Goods. She now sources her goods, which she acquires when travelling abroad, from around twenty five different countries, and then sells them in local locations. Many high schools, such as Arlington, have hosted the Rodgers’ Global Goods organization and made a significant impact in the lives of others by purchasing these original items. Rodgers recognizes that “none of this would happen without Global Goods customers,” and is happy to donate 100% of profits to the organization.

Rodgers currently has projects in Uganda, thirty educational scholarships in Ecuador, and funds toward a town in Indonesia where a high percentage of citizens have disabilities.

A project she is passionate about is a new high school being built in a volcano town in Guatemala, where students will have increased academic access thanks to sales from Global Goods. Despite her hefty contributions and years of selflessness abroad, Rodgers still feels that “sometimes [she] gains more out of it than they do.”

On Tuesday December eleventh, Arlington High School students supported individuals abroad by purchasing Globals Goods products. After this holiday season tradition was completed once again in the Arlington High School lobby, students and faculty were yet again given the opportunity to give back.

The Global Goods Project, founded with heart and generosity by Jacquie Rodgers, allows individuals to directly involve themselves with international endeavors. The Arlington High School community appreciates their presence array of goods to purchase each year. More information can be found at globalgoods.org, of on Facebook at Global Goods (Maynard).

AHS Cracks Down on JUULS

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By Lulu Eddy

This past summer, administration increased the consequences of being caught with a JUUL in Arlington High School from being treated under the tobacco policy, to being treated as drug paraphernalia. A JUUL is a type of e-cigarette that uses nicotine salts for its key ingredients.

The school board talked to administrators from surrounding schools to compare the level of severity with which they handled vaping on school grounds. “Most other schools handled the offense with more severity last year than did Arlington High School,” said Paul McKnight, dean of Arlington High School’s Collumb house.

McKnight said that last year, vaping “became a sudden phenomenon,” so administration was not quite sure how to go about handling the issue. Last year, the tobacco policy was a fee of $100 for students caught smoking or in possession of tobacco. However, most students avoided the fee by attending tobacco education and screening for addiction.

Many reports of JUULs being used in classrooms were brought to the dean’s offices. This is an issue that Mr. McKnight personally dealt with regularly.

A student from Arlington High School said, “there should be rules about [vaping] and then some education about nicotine, but calling JUUling drug paraphernalia is over the top. Calling it drug paraphernalia isn’t gonna make people stop. Just ramping up the consequences isn’t going to cause any real shift in kids’ behavior. If kids are JUULing, they’re gonna JUUL.”  

Another Arlington High School student feels “offended” when they see students vaping in school. They said, “I don’t want that here”. In response to the increased punishment surrounding vaping, “I feel like rules and restrictions aren’t what we need. I feel like we need the school to educate people about it”. This student also agrees that, “kids are going to do what they want… I feel like rules and restrictions aren’t what we need I feel like we need the school to educate people”. As vaping is new phenomenon, the effects it has have not been fully uncovered.

When McKnight responded to the idea that increasing punishment would decrease general use, he stated,“I don’t know if discouraging it in school would necessarily change out of school behavior…I guess we would hope so.”

One major concern with vaping in the school is the variability in what students fill their devices with. “There is a gray area in terms of determining what exactly students are vaping,” said McKnight. “What we’ve learned is that there is a method by which those pods can be filled with THC oil.” He points out that marijuana creates a disruption in classroom learning, and it can be “psychologically addictive.”

In comparison to other schools, Arlington High School faced a higher instance of kids JUULing in class. From surrounding towns, Arlington High School was seen as a place where students could openly vape in class according to Mr. McKnight. He responded to this with the following fear: “Well, what does that project as an image? The climate of the school? That’s why we take [vaping] very seriously.” Having high numbers of students vaping in school creates a bad reputation for Arlington High School. These concerns for the appearance of the school to bordering towns was a major reason for why the level of punishment increased so dramatically over the summer.

McKnight ends with a warning: “Is the benefit of engaging in it worth losing the privilege of being able to go to dances, prom, or [to] be able to go these kinds of things? Because we just don’t want it in the building.”

This year so far, reported instances of vaping in class have decreased with the new rule. While the students have mixed feelings about this rule, it has proved effective. JUULing transcends academic performance, demographics, age, gender, and social standing so it is a heavy threat. Student health and running the school day without constant disruption is still a priority to administration. While students will find a way to use substances one way or another, the in-school use is being successfully monitored.  

AHS English Department Increases Diversity in the Curriculum

By Maya Pockrose

AHS English teachers piled into the classroom of Matthew Cincotta (a fellow AHS English teacher) after school one unseasonably warm October afternoon for one of their regular meetings to discuss classes and curricula. Chocolate-covered almonds circulated around the table as everybody got settled, talking and laughing, before Deborah Perry, the district English director, began the meeting.

As a goal, the Arlington Public Schools district strives to achieve cultural competency. According to the National Education Association, cultural competence is “the ability to successfully teach students who come from a culture or cultures different than our own” (NEA). Perry says that a goal of the English department at AHS is to “put an increased emphasis on voice and perspective” as well as to “help kids find their own voices, and see other people’s voices.”

At AHS, there is an emphasis on a “living curriculum” that is “always changing and morphing to the times,” in the words of Cincotta. Justin Bourassa feels that “it can always be better,” but the department is “getting much better representation in terms of protagonists [and] much better representation in terms of the authors and their identities, across all spectrums and all factors of identities.” But teachers also want students to feel included and seen even if the books do not feature characters who exactly match their own identities: Megan Miller says focusing on students’ voices provides “an opportunity for students to take their own unique perspective” and think about “what their voice can contribute, just like the character or the authors contributing a voice.”

The English Department is working hard to emphasize perspective. Bourassa clarifies that the department is not embracing different perspectives “simply to check boxes,” but rather they are choosing “good, powerful pieces of literature” that also stem from different origins. One course that particularly emphasizes these choices is the Missing Voices 12th grade course. In the curriculum for that course, teachers have been “broadening” the texts they use and have and “knocked walls down,” according to Bourassa. Perry notes how “in the last four years or so [the department has] consciously changed the senior Missing Voices course” to introduce new and different voices and texts.

Accessibility is also key to diversity in an English curriculum. Perry says that “even adding a graphic novel is another way to add diversity” and telling a story through visuals “is a whole other way of seeing.” And approach plays a key role, as well. “Even if it is an older piece of literature, the lens might be different dependent on the times,” explains Lauren Geiger. She adds that “your parents didn’t read Fahrenheit 451 the same way we are reading it now,” which is why older texts still hold value and have merit even today.

Though the English department is making great strides in adding different types of diversity, it is certainly a group effort that takes time and thought. Erin Bradley, emphasizes that she and other English teachers “all need to and … want to put in that effort to keep [the] curriculum fresh and keep it reflecting the society we see around us.” Bourassa brings up “the idea of ‘updating,’” and notes that “there are a lot of very contemporary texts that are also very good, teachable, powerful, meaningful texts.”

The AHS English curriculum is constantly evolving, and the department has not stopped examining their curriculum and making changes as everyone sees fit. This aligns with the National Education Association’s assertion that “educators become culturally competent over time” and not “as a result of a single day of training, or reading a book, or taking a course.” And the teachers at AHS are certainly putting in that time and effort. The district as a whole is very supportive of this initiative as well; Geiger feels that “the great thing about Arlington is that we’re, as professionals, really afforded the creative space and time to focus on what we teach and how we approach it.” And none of these changes are made arbitrarily or artificially; as Bourassa says, the department is not “doing anything for the sake of doing it.”