Class of 2020 Hosts Winter Craft Fair

 

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By: Claire Kitzmiller

On Saturday December 16 from 9:00am to 1:00pm, the Arlington High School class of 2020 will be holding a Winter Craft Festival for the greater Arlington community. The fair is open for kids up to age 10 and costs five dollars per person. There will be a variety of crafts and activities for the kids including, gingerbread houses, paper snowflakes, snow globes and mug warmers.  

Sophomore Class President, Lauren Murphy said, “we knew we wanted to host an event for the greater Arlington community, beyond AHS.” The students officers were inspired by the annual Fall Carnival that is put on by the senior class.

Murphy says events like these are important because, “AHS is part of the larger Arlington community, and it is really rewarding to reach out and give back whenever we can.” The students are excited to spend time with little kids while putting on a fun event for them.

The Sophomore class council includes Lauren Murphy (President), Molly O’Toole (Treasurer), Dylan Fournier (Secretary), and Rob Marchant (Vice President). They are still looking for high school volunteers to run craft stations. Anyone interested can sign up at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090e4aa5aa29abfb6-winter.

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Faces Project Unpacks Identity

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By: Claire Kitzmiller

Students taking Arlington High School’s Race, Class and Identity class created a project that illustrates the many layers of their complex identities. The project has been displayed in the Media Center at the school.

The students took pictures of themselves and a laser etched their images into individual pieces of plywood. On the other side of the etching, the students created a visual representation of their true identities. Some students collaged images of groups they are a part of or symbols that represent what is important to them.

The course goes beyond the face level of race and identity. Students learn to understand the many layers of one’s race and class and how that affects their identity. The course is taught by AHS teacher, Kevin Toro who created the project hoping to “deconstruct the physical judgements and prejudices that we have towards people.” The project is intended to show students that there is more below the surface, identity is made up of more than just one’s appearance.

Toro chose to display the project for the school because, students and staff at AHS “need to pay attention to our prejudices and our implicit biases” against other student and people in the community. According to Toro, the project was important because it “was a conversation starter and that’s what Arlington needs.” While Arlington is a very accepting town full of diversity, racial bias and discrimination is still very prevalent. The project is meant to address the problems that many students are still unaware of.

AHS Takes a Mental Health Day

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By: Isabella Scopetski

Arlington High is taking a Mental Health Day on December 13th from 8 am until noon. Students will get the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops that are geared towards lowering stress and learning new ways to care for the mind and body.

This year’s Wellness Day is coordinated by Andrea Razi, AHS Intervention Coordinator and Social Worker, Stacy Kitsis (Librarian), and Josh Corlew (Principal Intern). Razi mentioned that her team has received “great support from [AHS] administration and all staff”, recounting that ever since she has come to AHS, the administration “has been very supportive of mental health” and willing to aid in awareness programming. The goal of the project, as described in the Wellness Brochure, is to “increase awareness and decrease stigma associated with mental health struggles” as well as to increase “self-care and wellness skills” while taking a break from the usual routine. The coordinators hope the program will “display the importance of overall wellness and balance in our lives as both youth and adults”.

Wellness Day was founded by Razi during her first year working at Arlington High. The program was launched as a response to an encounter Razi had with an AHS senior who admitted that she did not know there were social workers at Arlington High, much less where they could be found. Razi “felt badly and wanted to reach out to the whole AHS student body” making everyone aware of the support systems they have at school. “We have a lot of supporters here and I wanted to spread the word” added Razi. And she hoped that through Wellness Day, she could additionally “decrease the stigma associated with struggling with emotional problems”. Even after the first Mental Health Day AHS hosted, Razi noticed that “more and more students came for help or to refer a friend”; a response revealing the immediate positive impact the day had on the student body.

Wellness Day is a way for teachers, staff, outside organizations, and caring adults to show their support for the students of AHS. Although teenagers may not readily regard their teachers as particularly compassionate, supportive, or understanding people, Wellness Day and the massive amount of efforts put forth by nearly the entire staff at Arlington High (along with outside organizations such as McLean Hospital, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Families for Depression Awareness, Samaritans, Start Strong Initiative, Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition, Arlington Youth Counseling Center) show just how much teachers care about the health and wellbeing of their students.

During the mental health seminars and workshops, Razi thinks that “students can expect to relax and learn some new ways to care for themselves and take a break from their busy lives”.  Participants “will hear from some regular people” Razi adds “who have struggled with mental health issues and sought support” which will spread awareness in the AHS community on the topic of mental health.

 

AHS Opens Food Closet

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By: Grace Walters

Sponsored by the local food aid organization Arlington EATS, AHS now has a fully stocked food closet in which students can find “teenager approved,” fulfilling snacks and food bags. The closet is located in the nurse’s office near the main lobby and is available during all hours of the school day, including after school. Additionally, students are welcome to bring food bags home over the weekend if need be.

There is arguably nothing more important for adolescents than a well-scheduled and balanced diet—both before and after an arduous day of school—in order to perform well academically. “I definitely need a substantial amount of food to perform the way I do, or to at least get me through the day,” says sophomore Emily Narinsky, “especially for playing sports.”

The idea of a food assistance system at the high school was first brought to administrators’ attention by Arlington EATS, a town-wide volunteer organization whose main focus is to assure that no child is hungry in Arlington and other neighboring communities. For years Arlington EATS has been providing and sustaining a snack supply at each of the public elementary schools and middle school. In doing so, students of all financial backgrounds are able to access food without embarrassment or discomfort—further aiding the goal of dissolving the stigma around the need for food.

While Arlington High School has offered snacks to students in need during the day for some time, the idea of a substantial, accessible food supply was only recently deemed a must-have. The food closet at AHS is more capacious than those at the elementary schools due to students’ busy schedules; balancing extracurricular, jobs, homework, and tutoring is burdensome and older students are thus in greater need of food to sustain them. It is ensured by the nurse staff that the food closet caters to all students through the grab-and-go food bags. “Students are so mobile at this age, what with sports and after school jobs— ” says school nurse Sarah Lee, “it’s important that kids are being fed at home as well as in school.”  

Students at AHS generally agree that they prefer food that is satisfying in taste—i.e. may lack some nutritional value—over food that is whole wheat and low in fat. Luckily the food closet satisfies the average teenage pallet, meaning that its contents are both nourishing as well as appetizing. The supply includes Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Chef Boyardee, Campbell Soup, spaghetti condiments, and various other products.

“The important thing to remember about the food closet,” says Lee, “is that it’s open to everybody, regardless of whether you’re food insecure or simply just need a quick snack.” The nurse staff does not gate check the food closet nor do they discriminate against or alienate students who seek it out. Whether you need a light snack, or ingredients for tonight’s dinner, the AHS food closet is there for you.

 

Bourassa’s Jeopardy Debut

By: Chloe Jackson

Arlington High School’s Justin Bourassa auditioned and was accepted to participate in the hit reality TV show Jeopardy!. In addition to being a trivia genius, Bourassa is also an English teacher, and Track and Cross-Country coach. He traveled to Los Angeles during the first few days of school, September 5th and 6th, to film his episode of Jeopardy!. After many months of diligent studying and auditions, the air date for his episode is almost here. The students of Arlington High have waited several months to witness their beloved English teacher take the stage in the classic hit show.

On December 20th, 2017, at 7:30 pm, the Young Democrats Club will be hosting an official screening of Bourassa’s debut on Jeopardy!. Students, teachers and alumni can gather in Old Hall to celebrate the talents of Mr. Bourassa. Pizza will also be sold. At this same event, the Arlington Food Pantry will be collecting canned, non-perishable goods for the holiday season. The night is a combination of charity and trivia to make for one spectacular evening.

Although a significant publicity campaign for the event has embarked, all Arlington students and alumni are encouraged to attend and invite their friends. Due to Bourassa’s impressive reputation at Arlington High, as he is beloved by students, a large attendance is expected from current students as well as Arlington High alums, who will already be on their winter breaks from college. Do not forget to come support Mr. Bourassa as he participates in the competitive, nationwide broadcast of Jeopardy! on December 20th in Old Hall!

Stranger Things Season 2: The Art of Catching Lightning Twice

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Courtesy of http://www.vulture.com

By: Miles Shapiro

After the massive breakout phenomenon that was “Stranger Things” season one, expectations were incredibly high for this new installment of the 80s-set, supernatural adventure series. Season one followed groups of kids, teenagers, and adults occupying the small town of Hawkins, Indiana after the disappearance of one boy, Will Byers, and the arrival of a girl with astonishing powers, named Eleven. Season two features the return of the entire main cast along with a few new additions, most notably the characters of Max, Billy, Bob, and Dr. Owens. This season picks up around a year after the first; however, many characters are still coping with the events of the previous year. Now, when new supernatural threats seem to emerge, the beloved residents of Hawkins must jump into action once more while still dealing with the events of season one.

This series was originally planned as an anthology, with each season being disconnected. However, after early responses to the season one script, the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, decided to continue the adventure in Hawkins. It was unclear how the story would continue to capture the magic of the first season, while still bringing something new to the audience; the task seemed impossible. Season two, however, managed to prevail, much to the viewer’s delight, delivering a new and engaging entry in the saga and somehow managing to live up to extraordinarily high fan expectation. The subsequent  season was even able to accomplish the inconceivable feat of, in the eyes of some fans, being superior to the first season.  The brilliance of the series lies in its ability to identify successful elements from the first season and and make them still feel fresh in the second season.

As hoped, this season delivers due to its phenomenal supporting cast, gripping story, and masterful directing and pacing. Whereas the first season was only eight episodes, this season bumps it up to ten—using its extra screen time to flesh out old and new characters in unexpected ways. One thing “Stranger Things” does better than most other contemporary series is character interaction and development. The way the show’s writers reveal information about characters is incredibly natural and viewers leave virtually every interaction, even seemingly meaningless ones, with a deeper understanding of the characters’ psyches. This feat is attributed not only to the air tight teleplay but also to the nuanced performances of the entire cast.

Finding a weak link in the cast proves almost impossible with each actor adding heaps of personality to already layered characters. Standouts from this season include, as usual, all the kids—especially Dustin, Will, and Eleven portrayed by Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, and Noah Schnapp respectively. Will and Dustin, in particular, came into their own this season with their character arcs solidifying a layer of complexity we only saw glimpses of in the first season. David Harbor’s portrayal of Hopper was also fantastic this season and his relationship with Eleven is possibly the most engaging and emotional aspect of the show so far. The most underrated performance of the season, however, may be that of Joe Keery who plays Steve Harrington. In the beginning of season one Steve is, for all intents and purposes, a bully. Over eighteen episodes, however, Steve transforms into possibly the most likable character of the show, in no small part thanks to Kerry’s incredible charisma and ability to emote. These characters run the gambit of bright to brooding; either way, you can’t take your eyes off them.

As much as the cast and writers deserve praise, the technical aspects of this season are also to be commended. The Duffer Brothers have visibly grown as filmmakers in the past year and a half. The transitions, pacing, and visual storytelling of season two have greatly improved. Moreover, the improved visual effects, combined with stronger directing, imbue this season with a cinematic whimsy.

This show is of course not flawless and while there are no gaping issues, there is certainly room for improvement. On the performance side, Winona Ryder, while portraying the character of Joyce Byers well, did not seem to ever hold a candle to her supporting cast, save for one climactic scene where she literally holds a candle to her supporting cast. That scene is one of her best, however, and it is certainly a standout for her.

In a show with such a large ensemble there will always be one character who does not get the screen time they deserve and unfortunately that role went to Mike this season. Mike is a fantastic character and did have the occasional powerful scene, unfortunately he did not receive as much of an arc as many of his cast members. The real elephant in the room when it came to flaws in this show, however, is episode 7 (aka “The Lost Sister”). The introduction of Eight at the beginning of the season seemed like an intriguing exploration of the world of the show, so only using her to drive Eleven’s story seemed like a missed opportunity. The episode is not bad by any means and was necessary for Elevens arc, however it took away from the show’s cinematic quality by introducing a campier episodic tone.

This season is as equally delightful and emotional as the last entry and the series has a bright future ahead of itself. Those who liked season one will adore this season; it may even convert those who were originally skeptical. It’s cinematic, it’s lovable, it’s mysterious, and, while it may not have completely captured the urgent magical tone of the first season, it has enough engaging stakes and characters for an excellent binge.

Freshmen Host Open Mic Night

By Isaiah Donovan

The Freshman class council has been planning their first project of the year. On Friday, December 8th, the Freshman class will be hosting an Open Mic Night from seven pm to nine pm in Old Hall. Tickets can be bought for 5 dollars at the door or at all three lunches at Arlington High School during the week leading up to the event.

The fee covers all food and entry costs, meaning that once a participant has paid to enter, they can have as much food as they wish. The Freshman class council has already secured a donation of ten pizzas from Andrina’s and plans to purchase five more. They are also in the process of acquiring a donation of snack foods from Stop and Shop. Students can sit on picnic blankets and watch the shows or participate themselves.

When talking about participants, Freshman Class President Lauren Bain noted “all you have to do is anything with a microphone.” Possible acts could be “singing, poetry, instrumental pieces, rapping, comedy.”, added Bain.   The freshman student government hopes “It will be a very low key night and a lot of fun,” according to President Bain.

Boys Varsity Soccer Scored More Than Just A New Record

By: Lulu Eddy & Eliza McKissick

The Arlington High varsity boys soccer team had a successful season. They were number one in the Middlesex league, and made it to state semi finals until they were knocked out by Concord Carlisle on November 13th at Manning Field in Lynn, MA. The boys battled until the end, only falling to the last penalty kick, in a shoot out 5-4. This is the farthest the boys soccer team has ever gone into tournament, and was their first time winning the Middlesex league title.

Going into the season, the boys did not expect such success and victory. Many of the players had not experienced the varsity level before. However, the “strong chemistry” between the boys brings them all together and prevents cliques, mentioned a few of the athletes when questioned about the integrity of their team dynamic.

The boys attribute the team’s success to their coach, Lance Yadzio. He did a great job “listening to the players and bringing the input from the captain’s into games” said Cleary. Yadzio brings up any concerns with the whole team, keeping the players unified, which helps with the overall team dynamic.

When bench players hop on the field, they all give 110% of their effort and energy. Cleary points out that “their spot is on the line”, so they must give it all they’ve got to prove themselves to their captains and coach, as the three captains additionally help their coach with the starting lineup.

While sophomore Perry Sofis-Scheft is off the field, he takes his time to scan the game so he can bring what the team is lacking when he gets put in the game. He picks up where the starters left off.

Over the summer, many of the upcoming underclassmen attended captains practices, allowing them to gain a lot of skill and ball control. Senior captains Max McKersie, Lloyd Cleary, and Adrien Black kept these gatherings focused. Manager Jeff Pacheco observes that  “players such as Noah Aarons and Lucas Plotkin have earned their time by proving their dedication on and off the field”.

Cleary notes that “by being number one in the state, the team has come into some games too cocky” costing them a win. “You must take things one step at a time”, advises Pacheco. “Be there for the grind” Perry says. “Never give up” Pacheco adds.

 

Witches In Arlington Post-Halloween

By Lauren Bain

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The Crucible (1368)
Photo credit John Soares

Autumn in the Lowe Auditorium of Arlington High School typically means a few things: Freshmen Orientation, Speech and Debate Club competitions, college visits, class assemblies, Japanese exchange student performances, and, of course, the annual fall play.

Michael Byrne, a seventeen-year veteran teacher in the drama program and a part-time theatrical aficionado, has chosen this year’s play to be Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The work, which, according to Byrne, “resonates in the time in which we’re living,” follows a story that took place roughly 24 miles northeast and 325 years ago, in the midst of the Salem Witch Trials.

Aside from the inevitable romantic facets, The Crucible explores ideas of mob mentality, as well as the ramifications of blame, lies, and betrayal, all of which Byrne sees remaining pertinent today. “This play was written in 1953,” he states, “so why do we have to reexplore it in 2017? I think the notion of the damage that lies can do is something that is relevant today. And scapegoating, whether that be scapegoating ethnic groups or religious groups, or people of different sexual orientations or gender expressions, I think that a lot of people are being scapegoated in our world today.”

Above all, the climate that Arlington High School’s Theater Program strives to create, coinciding with that of the school as a whole, is one that is encourages all students to freely express themselves. In fact, a hallmark of the High School is the longstanding professional reputation its Theater Program upholdsits glory years continually lengthening under Michael Byrne’s direction. The program’s increased prominence has made Byrne aware of the need to push students, too. “Well, certainly, the most important thing is that [the school environment is] a safe one but also one where they can be pushed to take risks and dig deep into characters. You’re not going to take risks if you’re in a safe environment.”

Past performances that have taken place at Arlington High School (AHS), ranging from Hello, Dolly! and A Christmas Carol, to Peter and the Starcatcher and Crazy for You, have not failed  to outdo their predecessors. Miles Shapiro, a junior who portrays Giles Corey in the play, lends an insider’s perspective to acting in The Crucible. “AHS has an exceptional theater program,” Shapiro commented. “The plays are consistently well rehearsed and directed. The production value is fantastic and the shows have an level of professionalism not always seen in high school shows. AHS has always been a community that supports the arts, and we are very grateful to live in an area where artists are allowed to thrive and do what they love.”

As for the cast’s dynamic, Shapiro couldn’t have supplied a more glowing review. “The atmosphere among our cast is fun, energetic, and extremely supportive. Strong friendships are formed across all grades and the cast makes time outside of rehearsal to bond. As soon as I enter rehearsal I feel immediately comfortable to be myself and there is no hostile energy or discrimination.” Earlier last week, the cast went on a field trip to Salem, both to grasp the historical context, and to deepen their bond as a theatrical unit.

Now an upperclassman and experienced in the ways of high school, Shapiroalso a member of the student government, Journalism Club, and Model Congresscautions that involvement in the play deepens the seemingly insolvable mystery all students face: balance. “The play is a huge time commitment, and it is a lot of work, but it’s all worth it,” he notes. Despite the perpetual uphill climb of managing time, Shapiro and Byrne both encourage students to look at the plusses that they believe overwhelmingly trump the minuses.

Shapiro preaches his open-call-like testimony to students at AHS by encouraging them to try as much as they can during their four short years. “To the aspiring actors/actresses at AHS, I urge you to get involved as soon as you can. The people in the Theater Program are one of the kindest, most accepting groups (of people) I have ever been a part of, and we would love for you to be part of our community. If you are skeptical, try doing crew first, or working with the publicity committee to get a sense of what the program is like. If acting is really something you’re passionate about don’t waste any time, and take every opportunity to do what you love.”

Byrne suggests, “Be patient with yourself. Everything you do and experience should inform your performance on stage. Every person you meet can expand your own horizons; you can learn so much from other people. Be a sponge…learn everything you can from dancers and singers and actors and comedians, and other people you see on the bus. Everyone is an opportunity to learn.”

You can see Shapiro in The Crucible this Friday, November 3rd at 7:30 pm, and this Saturday, November 4th at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm in the Lowe Auditorium alongside castmates Matteo Joyce (John Proctor), Bella Constantino-Carrigan (Elizabeth Proctor), Dana Connolly (Reverend Samuel Parris), Laura Kirchner (Abigail Williams), and Ben Horsburgh (Reverend John Hale).

Tickets ($8 for students and $12 for adults) will be sold at all three lunches everyday this week at the high school, in the main office of the High School, online (ticketing fee will be applied), and will be available at the door of the theater before you enter.

The entire cast is elated to have their countless hours of hard work pay off this weekend, and hope to see as many Arlingtonians support the Theater Program as possible.

Project Brings Unity

By Claire Kitzmiller

From September eleventh to eighteenth, students at Arlington High School and the greater community participated in the Unity Project. The project was an installment of 32 PVC pipes circled around one central pipe. Each pole had an identifier on it and students and members of the greater Arlington community were invited to wrap pink yarn from the center to pole to each outer pole that they identify with.

AHS drama teacher, Michael Byrne discovered the project on Facebook. Byrne said the project was created by two women who are “responding to the division in our country right now.” Byrne teamed up with AHS math teacher, Johanna Begin and they applied for a grant with the Arlington Education Foundation to bring the project to AHS.

Students were invited to wrap their yarn around each pole with an identifier that they felt represented who they are. If there was an identifier that is important to someone but was not on one of the poles, participants were invited to write that identifier on a board next to the project. So many identifiers were added, that people started to write them in the pavement.

Byrne and a group of students chose a list of 32 identifiers including, “i am a Conservative, I am a liberal, I am single, I am in a relationship

The week of the installation was full of events embodying unity within the community. On Wednesday the 13th. The Do Something Club held a bake sale to aid hurricane relief in the country. On Friday the Madrigal singers performed at the project after-school and on Sunday there was crossfit training and yoga on the front lawn.

On Thursday night, a rain storm caused the structure to collapse. The yarn absorbed a great amount of rain, making it too heavy for the poles to hold it. Byrne responded to the fallen structure positively by taking class photos on it and inviting the madrigals to use it as a stage.

Byrne thinks this is an important project because, “We do have disagreements but you don’t have to hate someone you disagree with” and “We can still disagree with each other and respect each other.”

A majority of the school participated in the project. Teachers brought their classes out and students went after school to participate in the Unity Project. While this project is over, Byrne frisées more throughout the year, this project is “one of many moments of  conversation and activity that happen throughout the year.”

The project received the Dawn Moses Memorial Grant, a non monetary award, recognizing innovations in education. The Arlington Education Foundation unanimously chose the Unity Project as the recipient.