Model Congress Competes In Philadelphia

By Isaiah Donovan

On Thursday, March 22nd, club members from Arlington High School boarded a train to Philadelphia. The Model Congress convened with other chapters nationwide at the University of Pennsylvania, where schools from across the country were invited to participate in a model of the legislative process. There, students proposed bills of their own and debated for support in committees, before rolling the propositions out to full floor debates.

Most weeks, Model Congress meets in Room 306 during X Blocks on Tuesdays. In this time, they propose bills and practice their argumentative skills. These sessions are often held as preparation for the Philadelphia convention, but some members come every week just to debate. The club’s meetings were put to a much larger scale during their trip to UPenn. On arrival, participants were assigned into various committees, where they voted on which bills to move forward with. After multiple committee sessions in a day, a full session was held to decide on which bills to pass.

Model Congress members had previously prepared bills to suggest to their confederates. Zach Garrigus, a Model Congress member of three years “proposed a bill that would extend the presidential term limits from two terms to three terms.” Zach not only likes proposing his own bills, but also seeing the bills of others take shape. “There was a bill that made it easy for non-convicted criminals to serve in the military, which I thought was very cool.”

At face value, debating for hours may seem dull. However, the reality is much different.. “In all honesty, I started Model Congress because it would look good on my college resume, but it turned out to be a lot of fun.” says Patrick Gallagher, a junior who went on the trip. “It’s a rewarding experience, and you really get some insight into the legislative process. Plus, the campus is very fun to explore at UPenn.” Though the majority of those in attendance were from the Northeast, many students enjoy the chance to see like-minded peers from different parts of the country. Gallagher notes that he “had a great time discussing with the other committee members, even when arguing.”

Gallagher encourages all students who are interested in Congress, the government or debating in general to come by the Model Congress during one of their meetings. “It never hurts to try something new out,” says Gallagher, “and many people may find an affinity for it.”

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The Truth About Standardized Testing: SAT vs. ACT

act-or-sat

by Isaiah Donovan

As students progress through high school, college plans loom on the horizon. For many, assembling a satisfactory curriculum is a source of unending stress. Of course, college is not in the cards for every high schooler, however the majority of students move on to some sort of further education. In their quest to condense their entire educational career into a single document, standardized tests become a way for students to express their knowledge, especially in cases where they are lacking in other areas. Standardized tests also may offer opportunity to receive merit scholarships and awards, which are crucial for many students.

Which Test Should You Take?

It is then that the true question emerges: What test to take? Most colleges and universities expect or require students to complete the ACT or the SAT. Every student has unique skills and areas of interest, and in truth, there is no test that will suit them perfectly. However, there are certainly aspects of each exam that many would find appealing over the other.

The History of the Test

Before an analysis, the history of these tests should be considered. The College Board was formed in 1900, and the organization set out to standardize the admissions process. Roughly 23 years later, Carl C. Bingham administered an altered version of the Army IQ test to Princeton freshmen, and was put in charge of a College Board committee to adapt the test once again. This exam would later become the aptitude test called the SAT (History of the SAT: A Timeline). In 1959, Everett Franklin Lindquist, a professor at the University of Iowa developed an alternative to the SAT, one that would assess a student’s current knowledge rather than their ability to learn. This ACT became more prominent over time, surpassing the SAT in the number of test takers in 2012. As of 2015, 1,924,436 students take the ACT that year, compared to 1,548,198 taking the SAT (Zhang). The SAT began to adapt its process to be more similar to the ACT, and focuses more on assessing current knowledge rather than future success.

A Common Misconception

Many students, particularly those around the east coast, suffer the misconception that the SAT is more widely accepted, or that the ACT is made for the middle of the country. In fact, the ACT is not only more prominent than the SAT, but is accepted by all universities across the country (Zhang). Whether or not eastern schools are biased toward the SAT is unknown, but there is very little evidence to support the claim.

The Key Difference

The SAT and ACT differ in many ways besides the number of test takers or areas of application. The different exam sections focus on varying topics. For instance, the ACT allows all questions to be answered with a calculator, while the SAT only allows a calculator on some portions of the test. This could be important for students with less confidence in their ability to solve more basic math problems. The ACT also has a dedicated science section centering on data analysis and scientific investigation. These aspects are important for many of the more analytically minded juniors and seniors. If they are skilled in these areas, they certainly have an edge entering the test, and those who are inclined to join engineering or math based programs in college tend want to show their affinity for the subject by displaying a high score on the ACT.

The Super Score

Another key difference between the SAT and the ACT is the ability to superscore. Superscoring is the ability to choose certain scores from each section on a college entrance exam and form a composite score of all your highest score subcategories. (Note that is is distinct from Score Choice, the chance to choose the highest score on one test from all test dates to send to colleges.) Roughly 200 schools superscore the ACT (Safier, Colleges That Superscore ACT: Complete List), while roughly 900 superscore the SAT (Safier, Which Colleges Superscore the SAT?) .

The Subject Test

Sometimes the SAT cannot be taken alone. An SAT subject test is a specialty exam that focuses on a specific skill that the regular SAT does not put emphasis on, ranging from Literature to US History to Latin. Some of the most elite universities recommend taking at least two SAT subject tests as well as the SAT, and a few even require it in the application process. However, many of these same universities will accept an ACT score in place of an SAT subject test, making it a suitable choice for those who want to be competitive in the admissions process without the added strain of studying for more exams.

Test Length

The SAT and ACT also vary in time length. The ACT has a time limit of 175 minutes (215 with optional essay), while the SAT has a limit of 180 minutes (230 with essay) (Lindsay). The SAT’s time limit is only slightly longer, but is fit for two sections rather than the three of the ACT. However, the SAT has five reading sections compared to the ACT’s four.

The Price of Knowledge

An important aspect to consider, especially for students who wish to take their test of choice multiple times, is cost. The ACT costs $103 to take ($120 with the essay), while the SAT is priced at a lesser $80 ($92 with essay) (Cheng). This is an important aspect for families under financial duress, particularly if they plan to superscore with multiple tests. There are opportunities for fee waivers, but many students do not wish to undergo the hassle or embarrassment of applying. Moreso, the SAT subject test carries a $26 registration fee, which would otherwise be eliminated if the ACT is chosen.  

What It Comes Down To

There are many reasons why standardized testing can be a poor reflection of one’s intellect or acquired knowledge, from test anxiety to poor preparation. No matter a student’s opinion on testing, chances are they will have to take some form of exam if they wish to continue to another level of education. There are certainly valid reasons to take one test over the other, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference. The more comfortable a student is with the test they are taking, the better scores they will receive.

Works Cited

Cheng, Allen. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” SAT Cost, ACT Cost, and How to  Save Money, blog.prepscholar.com/sat-cost-act-cost-and-how-to-save-money.

“Here Are the High School Classes That Prepare You for the SAT and ACT.” Prep | The Princeton Review, http://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/high-school-classes-prep-sat-act

“History of the SAT: A Timeline.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sats/where/timeline.html.

Lindsay, Samantha. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” The History of the ACT Test, blog.prepscholar.com/the-history-of-the-act-test.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Colleges That Superscore ACT: Complete List, blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-that-superscore-act-complete-list.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Complete List: Colleges That Require SAT Subject Tests, blog.prepscholar.com/complete-list-of-colleges-that-require-sat-subject-tests.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Which Colleges Superscore the SAT?, blog.prepscholar.com/which-colleges-superscore-the-sat.

Strauss, Valerie. “What Does the SAT Measure? Aptitude? Achievement? Anything?”The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Apr. 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/22/what-does-the-sat-measure-aptitude-achievement-anything/?utm_term=.af2f50a1611a.

Zhang, Dr. Fred. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Do Colleges Accept ACT Takers as Much as SAT Takers? Is the ACT Disadvantaged?, blog.prepscholar.com/do-colleges-accept-act-takers-vs-sat-act-disadvantaged.

Stewart Competes on National Frisbee Team

By Chloe Jackson

 

Arlington High senior Clara Stewart has recently been offered a position on the USA National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. She has played ultimate frisbee since seventh grade, where she joined a pick-up game at Thorndike Field in Arlington. As she grew to love the sport, Stewart joined the Ocelots in eighth grade at Ottoson Middle School, and carried on the legacy of the team into her years at high school. Stewart assisted in founding a co-ed ultimate frisbee team at Arlington High, and captained it for her tenth and eleventh grade seasons. She now has coordinated and founded a successful all women’s ultimate frisbee team for this coming spring sports season.

Stewart has played ultimate frisbee in a range of settings, whether it is pick up games, youth leagues, high school clubs, women’s regional club teams, or even the prestiged USA National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. To tryout for the National team, Stewart underwent a rigorous application process, which entails a preliminary application and tryout of fifty young women in North Carolina. A tryout on the East Coast and the West Coast was held, each of fifty young women, to determine the National team roster of twenty four players. Stewart, in addition to her friend Tessa Johnson of Lexington, Massachusetts, earned a position on the roster of this highly selective team.

Until the World Championship game and other tournaments, Stewart and her teammates are expected to maintain their shape and skills, and they will attend several multi-day or week long training sessions to prepare for games. Stewart will attend the the WJUC (World Juniors Ultimate Championships) in late August in Toronto, Canada with her team of twenty four young women. After over five years of pursuing ultimate frisbee and gaining the impressive title of National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team Member, Stewart will continue her ultimate frisbee career as she begins college in the fall.

Stewart plays ultimate frisbee because of the “tight knit community, especially in Boston” where everyone is “supportive and helping each other.” These past few years have been only the beginning to Stewart’s successful career in the “fast-paced, difficult” (Stewart) sport of ultimate frisbee.

Students and Teachers Respond to AHS Walkout

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photo by Isabella Scopetski
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photo by Isabella Scopetski

On March 14th, students around the nation walked out of their schools for 17 minutes to honor the victims of school shootings, specifically the recent shooting where 17 young lives were tragically lost at Parkland High School in Florida, and to call for gun control reform. Due to the snowstorm, however, many New England schools closed on the 14th, so those schools walked out at 10am the following day. 

Arlington High School students and faculty members each made an individual decision about whether or not to walk out. Some chose to remain inside while others organized the events, and still others participated in the walkout by leaving their classes and listening to their peers give speeches in front of the high school.

As the number of school shootings around the nation increases each day, students and teachers alike think about the best solution to a problem currently plaguing America. There are varying arguments regarding gun control and the justification of the second amendment. This article represents a sampling of student and teacher opinions regarding the effectiveness of the walkouts, as well as gun laws in America. This article is meant to expose the many layers of arguments which discuss the best ways to keep people safe.

Isa Dray

Ponder Page: What was your role in organizing the walkout?

Isa Dray: “I organized the AHS #NeverAgain walkout in collaboration with Laura Kirchner, Sophie Plotkin, and Gayatri Sundar Rajan.”

PP: What change do you hope to see in gun control laws?

ID: “Nationwide I think it is really important that we have stricter background checks, raise the legal age for gun purchase to 21 and repeal the Dickey Amendment, which prevents federal funds awarded to the Center for Disease Control from being used to advocate or promote gun control via studies of any sorts. This is a huge deal because it means that no comprehensive studies can be performed to assess the United States’ gun violence and gun culture. In Massachusetts, we need to continue to lead the way in gun reform by passing the Extreme Risk Protective Order, which would allow a judge to order a temporary removal of guns from someone ruled to be a danger to themselves or others. With many shootings that take place, family members or friends had prior knowledge or had seen signs of intent. Passing this bill is essential to making us safer and ensuring that guns only stay in the hands of those fit to carry them.”

PP: How do you feel about how the walkout went, reflecting from a week later?

ID: “I was really happy with how the walkout went! Seeing it all come together after two and a half weeks of hard work was very fulfilling. The event also went really smoothly thanks to the large support system we had and our comprehensive planning. I loved hearing the speakers; they all had really powerful messages and it was great to hear a variety of students speak. Having elected officials Sean Garballey, Dave Rogers, and Joe Curro, their listening to us and supporting us along with our community meant so much to me. It was really awesome to see AHS students come together for the second week in a row to show that this matters to us and to confront the reality that this could happen to us too, which is why we need to take action!”

PP: Further thoughts? Main takeaway?

ID: “I think it’s super important that people stay engaged. The national walkout to call for gun reform is not a one and done thing. We need to continue the momentum, keep this conversation in the headlines and continuously work towards comprehensive gun laws. Change doesn’t happen overnight and I encourage everyone to not let the walkout be the only thing you do. The biggest danger to this movement is the potential for it to die out if people do not stay engaged. Attend the March for Our Lives Saturday March 24th in Boston, attend the Young Dems workshops that are focused around contacting reps and making change, continue meaningful conversation with those around you, and pay attention for more walkouts scheduled for the coming weeks. Students are pushing for the Extreme Risk Protective order to be passed in Massachusetts by mid-April and we need to really work towards this by contacting our reps and demonstrating our frustration and commitment.”

Harjot Singh

“I just feel like the walkout isn’t really going to accomplish anything. The walkout is a complete waste of time, and I agree that some things need to change, but having a bunch of kids walk out of the school is not going to bring this change. Most of the kids that I talked to said that they were just walking out just to miss class and a lot of others don’t know what they are protesting against. For why I didn’t walkout, that’s because I don’t believe in what this movement is about. I was inside and I had my 17 minutes of silence to pay respects to the 17 people that had died, but I don’t think that the banning of semi-automatic rifles and other firearms is going to help. I know that this is not what the main goal is behind the walkout, but that’s what it is becoming. People that I have talked to, that support the walkout, have said that this is what they are trying to accomplish. I believe that if all guns in general disappeared we would be in a good place, but that is unrealistic. With the ban of assault rifles, the only thing that would happen is that law abiding citizens would turn in their guns, and criminals would not, and then there would be a large group of armed criminals that have an advantage over unarmed law abiding citizens that use their guns for good. But onto the third question: I definitely did feel supported by the teachers in the school. In both classes, the teachers engaged in conversations with me and there was no judging except by a few other students but that doesn’t matter.”

Laura Kirchner

PP: Why did you decide to become involved with the walkout?

LK: “The National Walkout started being planned, and we noticed a lot of posts for other schools that were participating, but we noticed that there were no posts for Arlington High School, so we figured it would be better to have an organized event where we were all walking out with a purpose and we had a plan for what we would do with those 17 minutes rather than people aimlessly walking out, because it’s more powerful if we actually know what we’re doing and what we’re walking out for.”

PP: Were there any challenges you faced as an organizer?

LK: “We did have some trouble communicating with the administration, especially with the snow day, because instead of walking out with schools across the country we walked out with schools across New England. We all knew that we wanted to make it as soon as possible after the snow day, and we essentially said to the administration, ‘we will be walking out at 10 o’clock’ and we just had to organize with them; they of course wanted students to be safe during the walkout so we just had to figure stuff out with the police to make sure there was some separation between the community and the students, but then again we didn’t want the community to be excluded because it’s affecting the community as well every time there’s an event like this.”

Mr. Fant (history dept)

Last Wednesday, March 7th during A block I addressed my AP Governments students concerning the walkout. I told them that I was not personally offended if they chose to participate in the walkout and that I support them exercising their right to free speech;however, if they chose to walk out of the graded moot court assessment scheduled for that period, it would affect their participation grade for that assignment. I also told the class that I was doing so because I didn’t want to cheapen an act of civil disobedience by making it completely free from consequence.

Here is my reasoning.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote about his decision to not pay his taxes as a way to protest the war with Mexico in the 1840s he knew he would be arrested for breaking the law. In fact, when he was bailed out of jail by a relative within 24 hours, he was angry that he could not stay in jail longer because he believed that suffering a consequence for his act of civil disobedience gave it more strength and meaning. This is why Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi engaged in direct action and civil disobedience and suffered the consequences of fines and jail time for their causes.

Additionally, students have a constitutional right to disruptive protest in schools as seen in the Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines. When Mary Beth Tinker and her friends wore black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam, they intended to disrupt the regular educational activities of the school day. That’s the point of protest, not just to signal virtues, but to cause conversation hopefully change through disruption.

Rescheduling assessments (such as the moot court) or excusing absences to accommodate the walkout creates two problems. The first is that doing so would undermine the protest itself by separating civil disobedience from consequence, however small it is in this case. The protest would be less disruptive of the regular school day and therefore less effective.

I support the aims of this walkout and this student-led movement to make our schools safer by demanding more gun control. I am inspired by Arlington High School students and their willingness to demand action and take part in protest movements like this one. Furthermore, I am looking forward to participating in the scheduled rally on Inclusion Day and I imagine I will see a lot of AHS students at the March For Our Lives rally on March 24th when I exercise my own First Amendment right concerning the issue of gun violence.

My support for this walkout brings me to the second problem inherent in accommodating it in my class. Doing so in this case, because I support the movement, would set a precedent that all future walkouts will be sanctioned as well, regardless of what those walkouts are protesting. Public school teachers should be hesitant to punish or sanction speech no matter how popular or unpopular. Therefore, I plan on applying the same policy to future walkouts and protests which cause students to miss all or part of a scheduled assessment.

Mr. Matson (history dept)

PP: Do you believe in penalizing students for participating in the walkouts? (such as a lower participation grade)

Scott Matson: “As far as the penalties are concerned, I didn’t do any penalties, but I think it’s up to the individual teacher.”

PP: How effective do you think the walk outs are going to be in the near future, or long term?

SM: “I do not think they are going to be very effective. In my opinion, a majority of the students around the country don’t even realize what they are doing… they are just following what the social media is telling them to do.”

PP: Why do you think students are targeting the ‘wrong people’?

SM: “They are targeting people who are NRA members, who I know a lot of, and they have nothing to do with [gun laws in America].” Additionally, Matson thinks,“there are other issues that should be more focused on, like the whole social media issue” rather than the issue of gun control.

Milo Kiely-Song

Milo chose to participate in both AHS walkouts.

PP: What do you think about having a penalty on the walkout?

Milo Kiely-Song:“Here’s my thinking: it’s a walkout, if you are going to participate, you shouldn’t expect the full support of the administration … it’s not a school sanctioned event.”

PP: Why did you decide to walk out?

MK-S: “I decided to walk out because I absolutely believe that stricter gun regulations are necessary to make our country and our schools safer.”

PP: In what way do you think the walkouts will move things forward?

MK-S: “I think the walkouts will serve a twofold purpose: first of all to simply demonstrate the discontent in our country at the moment, especially among our generation … the generation moving into the position of being able to vote. Secondly … it’s a launching point, it spreads the word, it gets people involved and interested in the process of making change.”

PP: In what way do you find your own views to be different from other students at AHS?

MK-S: “I am a Libertarian. And Libertarianism is the belief in one’s own freedoms … property rights, land rights, etc. And in terms of gun laws for me, that means I do not believe in banning the distribution of guns in this market. I don’t think the government should have that much control over business and what they chose to sell. However, since guns are very dangerous, especially semi-automatic weapons, I believe that it us necessary for us to impose stricter regulations on the purchase of such guns. A lot of people talk about putting a ban on semi-automatic weapons being sold, and, personally, I do not think that is necessarily the best idea for us. Everyone wants to preserve their liberties, [and] nobody’s against that. And in this time of social and political turmoil, I think it is important to retain those liberties. And if we do implement stricter background checks and more comprehensive systems towards buying a gun, I don’t think we need to actually ban semi-automatic weapons to get the same result.”

PP: Why were you uncertain that your opinion would be valued or “fit” in my article?

MK-S: “I think I can have a lot of great conversations [here at AHS] with people who respect my opinions, but this is Massachusetts… which tends to mean that there are less people with more conservative outlooks and similar opinions to mine.”

Arlington High School Students Walk Out for Comprehensive Gun Laws

By Anoushka Oke and Katherine Richardson

 

Since seventeen people were killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there has been nationwide uproar about the United States’ gun laws. Students from all over the country have come together in protest against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and in support of common-sense gun laws by walking out of school.

The movement was created by survivors of the Parkland shooting, and word of it spread all over the nation through the news and social media. The protest was set to nationally take place at 10:00 a.m. on March 14, 2018, and to last seventeen minutes.

Bringing the Walkout to AHS

Upon hearing about the walkout, AHS students took it upon themselves to ensure that it would happen at the high school. Students reached out to AHS principal, Matthew Janger, who, in response, called a meeting with interested students on February 27.

The meeting on February 27 was headed by the AHS Student Council, with the purpose of obtaining Dr. Janger’s permission to participate in the walkout with a guarantee of no punishment, and to begin planning the logistics for the protest. Various ideas were discussed, including suggestions for a lobby display, an outdoor memorial, a banner, and posters to hang up around the school. Because the walkout was to take place on Inclusion Day, Dr. Janger scheduled an X-block so that students would not have to choose between their Inclusion Day workshops and the walkout.

A few days later, on March 2, the Student Council held a second meeting to discuss the logistics of the protest. Ideas from the previous meeting were revisited, and students volunteered for projects that had been suggested at the previous meeting.

The March 7th Walkout

Prior to the national walkout, some AHS students also participated in a separate walkout on Wednesday, March 7. This walkout was organized by the Young Democrats and took place at schools in neighboring towns as well.

Participating students filed out of their first period classes at exactly 8:17 a.m., gathering on the front lawn. Sophomore Griffin Gould, leader of the Young Democrats, first led a moment of silence. This was followed by a speech from senior Ian Miller, in which he read the lyrics of the song “You’re Missing” by Bruce Springsteen. The lyrics of the song outline how it feels to lose someone important, as the friends and family of gun violence victims have. “Children are asking if it’s alright,” Miller read, “will you be in our arms tonight?”

Gould then informed students of the Young Democrats’ plan to take a trip to a protest in front of the state house directly after the March 14 walkout, and invited all of the assembled students to join them.

Preparations for the Walkout

As the date of the national walkout approached, students began working to prepare for the protest.

Some of the students who wanted to create signs for the walkout met in an art classroom on Monday, March 12.  The art department provided students with materials to create compelling signs.

Simultaneously, a small committee of students created a large, orange banner that read “#neveragain” in black text. This banner was hung outside of AHS on the morning of the walkout.

On the other side of the room, another small group of students worked on painting pieces of a memorial, taking breaks in between coats to make signs. The memorial was painted in the art room by freshmen Genevieve Baldwin, Anoushka Oke, and Sierra Curro.

The memorial consists of three gates, one five-feet tall, one six-feet tall, and one seven-feet tall. From the top of each gate, there are nine blue strings and eight white strings alternating, adding up to seventeen strings on each gate– the number of people who were killed in the Parkland shooting. On each white string, there are twenty-eight bingo chips of varying colors to represent the twenty-eight people who died in the Sandy Hook shooting five years ago. The varying colors of the bingo chips on the white strings represent the youth and childishness of the elementary-age children who were killed. On each black string, there are seventeen red bingo chips, which, like the amount of strings in each gate, represent the number of deaths in the Parkland shooting. The red bingo chips represent the blood that was shed in the shooting. This memorial is not yet up.

The State House Visit

On March 14, almost every American school had the walkout, excluding schools in the Greater Boston area who had school cancelled that day. Despite school closures and the two feet of snow on the ground, twenty-six AHS students joined students from all over Massachusetts at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul to rally for advocacy training and a state house visit in the interest of stronger gun control laws.

The students were lobbying for the passing of bill H.3610 and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment. Bill H.3610 proposes temporarily preventing firearm access for extremely dangerous or suicidal individuals. The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996, states that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Students gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Soon after arrival, two state representatives and some students gave quick introductory speeches, and then the huge gathering marched to the state house. Students held signs and chanted phrases such as “Not in our streets! (Not in our schools!) No justice? (No peace!),” “Show me what democracy looks like! (This is what democracy looks like!),” and “State house? (Our house!).”

When the students got inside and were seated, some student representatives spoke briefly. Then each representative introduced themselves, stated the districts of Massachusetts they represented, and expressed whether or not they would support the bill H.3610 and vote to repeal the Dickey Amendment.

After the speeches, students lobbied their representatives by going around room to room, asking for their support and votes. Finally, students made their way back to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul for free pizza and closing speeches.

The Delayed National Walkout

Even though the national walkout was scheduled to take place on March 14, Tuesday’s nor’easter and Wednesday’s snow day meant that most students in or around Greater Boston were forced to move their school’s walkouts. AHS’ walkout was moved to Thursday, March 15, the day following the national walkout date. Because the walkout would no longer be taking place on Inclusion Day, students would now be walking out of class rather than a free period.

Speakers and key organizers of the event left class ten minutes early in order to set up and prepare for the wave of students that would shortly emerge from the school. At 10:00, participating students began heading to the front of the school, while students not participating went to their next class.

Outside of the school, students began to fill the front sidewalk and some of the parking area. Once most of the participating students had filed out, freshman Nate Pokress used a megaphone to lead the crowd in chanting “What do we want? (Gun control!) When do we want it? (Now!)” for about a minute.

After the chanting had died out, Student Council President, senior Laura Kirchner, stepped up to the podium to give a few opening remarks. In her speech, she emphasised the importance of students taking action. Kirchner stated, “some may dismiss us, some may ignore us, some may say we’re just children, but as we stand here today… we are making our voices heard, even though many of us cannot vote.”

Following Kirchner’s remarks, Junior Class Vice President Lucy Voges took Kirchner’s place at the podium. Voges announced the Student Government’s support of the walkout, and also described what they were advocating for: “stricter background checks, a higher legal age for gun purchase, and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment.”

Once Voges had stepped away from the podium, Student Council Secretary Isa Dray held a moment of silence for everyone who has died as a result of gun violence.

A minute later, Student Council Treasurer, senior Sophie Plotkin stepped up to conclude the moment of silence. She then read an open letter to U.S. Senators, prompting them to take action about gun violence, rather than simply sending their “thoughts and prayers” after every shooting as they accept money from the NRA. “…I am one of the 74.6 million students who have been let down by the system that is supposed to protect us,” she read, “…we will no longer stay silent while you sell our souls for seats in the Senate!”

Once Plotkin finished reading the letter, sophomore Sky Milstein stepped up to give a speech, explaining their experience living in a country where mass shootings are the norm; AHS English teacher Rebecca Walsh-Bradley told the assembled students about her experience with gun violence during her first year of teaching, when a student came into the school with a gun; and Freshman Livia Freeman then spoke of the fear caused by gun violence. Freshman Elizabeth Gromfin, Oke, sophomore Darcy Coleman, and Freeman each read a statistic relating to gun violence, outlining the scale and severity of the gun violence problem. Then, Baldwin came up to the podium to give the final speech of the morning, focusing on the power of students taking action. “Maybe most of us don’t have the adult power to vote quite yet,” Baldwin said, “but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any power at all.”

Student Council Vice President Gayatri Sundar-Rajan then gave closing remarks, reminding students that “[this walkout] is only the start of the fight for gun control.” She emphasised that student action would keep the fight going. “Let [today] be the end of students sitting on the sidelines,” she said.

As the seventeen minutes came to a close, students began to file back into the school.

What Comes Next?

Like many of the student speakers said, the walkout was only the start of student action and protest for gun control.

A group of students have begun working on a lobby display, and plan to put it up soon. Likewise, Baldwin, Oke, and Curro are looking to install their memorial outside the school as soon as enough of the snow melts.

On Saturday, March 24, the March for Our Lives will be taking place throughout the entire United States. In Massachusetts, it will be in front of the state house. This protest will be another opportunity for students to publicly demand an end to gun violence.

Arlington High School presents Wonderful Town the Musical

By Isabella Scopetski

 

 

“Despite the snow, the show must go on” was the motto of this years Arlington High School musical Wonderful Town directed by AHS drama teacher Michael Byrne. Although three snow days and an unusually early show date leaves the cast pressed for time, Wonderful Town  is to be performed March 23rd, 24th, 25th. Tickets are to be sold at all three lunches, online (by cast members, and at the door).

Currently students are entering tech week of the show, somedays spending more than nine hours in the auditorium fine tuning their production and making art. The students patiently and cooperatively collaborate with each other and their director, Michael Byrne, to raise the show to its fullest potential.

The show takes place in Greenwich village, New York City during the 1930s. Wonderful Town is about two sisters who come to the city to follow their dreams, the girls originally hailing from Ohio. Byrne chose to direct Wonderful Town this spring because the music is by Lenard Bernstein, who would be celebrating his 100th birthday this year. Lenard Bernstein wrote West Side Story; a famous show which most people are familiar with. Byrne “like[s] the energy of the music” as it is similar to that of West Side Story and successfully “propels the story along”. Byrne mentions that “it is also a show that is driven by two interesting, strong women who don’t define themselves by a love interest”. Byrne seeks to introduce high school students to a show were woman (specifically Ruth and Eileen Sherwood) are able to define their worth by “who they are in the world and how they contribute to the world” rather than their worth being defined by a man.

For Byrne, the most rewarding part of any show is “having the privilege of asking students to step out of their comfort zones”. As a drama teacher at heart, Byrne enjoys watching his students succeed and thrive in the new situations they are put in. And it is the journey for Byrne, which makes directing worthwhile as he is able to, “see the transformation in these young people”.

Although Byrne has worked with adults and college students, it is the “enthusiasm” about high school students which has led him to continue teaching at the high school level. “ The energy that a high school student brings in is different than any other population [he’s] worked with”.

Undoubtedly, the most difficult part of the show for Byrne has been the snow, which robbed the cast of nearly three full days of rehearsals leading up to the show. However, he also added that he thought the difficult music presented it’s own challenge for the cast, on top of the time crunch, making the cast work doubly hard to be performance ready.

Despite the organic obstacles and setbacks directors and actors faced in the process, all would agree that it is their fellow cast members and colleagues which make such hard work worth it for them.

Junior Devin Wright, starring in the lead female role Eileen Sherwood, says the most rewarding part of the process was “to be able to work with actors like Olivia [as Ruth Sherwood] and Ben [as Bob Baker]”. Wright noted her co stars having lead roles since she was a freshman at AHS, and “being able to perform with them, singing songs with them [and] talking with them” has reassured Wright of her part in the show and that she worked hard to be a lead.

 

New Talent

 

For freshman Franco D’Agostino and Junior John Fitzgerald, Wonderful Town is serving as their high school musical theater debut. Both D’Agostino and Fitzgerald act in a number of roles in the show depending on the scene, each having to make multiple costume changes between numbers such as the switch from Tour Guide to Police Officer, or Navy Seal Cadet to village ballet dancer.

Looking back on the process, as tech week commences, D’Agostino finds “being able to work with different people that [he] might not have known” has been the most rewarding part of the experience.

In an interview, Fitzgerald confessed that the show was easier to join, socially, than he had expected; being a junior in high school and new to performing. He appreciates how “everyone gets along very well” and how fun the show has been for him. Although he is not a lead, Fitzgerald enjoys the company and the many personas he is able to take on in each scene.

Admittedly, Fitzgerald’s confidence levels in past years had prevented him from auditioning, despite his inner passion for the theater. However, Fitzgerald currently finds the show to be rewarding in the sense that he was able to “learn a whole show” and “have it all come together” in the end.

And as many others struggle with, singing and dancing at the same time, as well as learning counts for dance numbers, has been one of the most challenging aspects of performing for Fitzgerald. A main takeaway of the show for Fitzgerald was “to be happy with who you are… [and] enjoy what you are doing”. For Fitzgerald, “it’s all about having fun”.

 

The Mechanics of a Well-Oiled Machine

 

The Arlington High School productions wouldn’t be the professional grade performances that many community members, parents, teachers, and fans have compared them to each year, without the dedicated students behind each aspect of the show. Wonderful Town relies heavily on its knowledgeable and well equipped team of student stage managers in order to run smoothly and seamlessly. Being stagehand for two years now has given Michael Graham-Greene increasing leadership opportunity and growth in his role. Stage managers attend every rehearsal of the entire process, seeing the show through from start to finish, sometimes spending longer hours with director Byrne than the cast, doing clerical work, managing props and the set. “Seeing the actors having fun on stage”, says Graham-Greene, “makes the harder days less difficult”.

And what would a Byrne production be without some dance? Since Wonderful Town includes large, dance heavy numbers such as “Swing”, “Conga”, and “Ballet at the Village Vortex”, Byrne was met with the challenge of choreographing. As a director, he chose to collaborate with student dancers Annie Schoonmaker, Aubrie-Mei Rubel, Megan Hall, and Katherine Hurley. Each dancer takes classes at their own studios and together they bring a wide range of knowledge to the process and each other. Choreographing the show was no small task, each number taking many rehearsals to teach and refine the dances. As a team, the girls found it helpful to be able to “bounce ideas off of eachother for different scenes”, as mentioned by Schoonmaker. The team agreed that being able to see their work performed by their peers and come to life was the most rewarding part of the process.

The students and adults involved in the show encourage the Arlington community to come out and support them this coming weekend and see the pay off from months of hard work!

 

Students Compete Against Teachers in Basketball Game

By Ellie Crowley

On Thursday, March 15th Arlington High School hosted the student teacher basketball game. The game was the second of its kind, with the first game being in November. Teacher James Barry says that following the first game “there was a lot of interest among students and faculty to do it again.” Director of the Foreign Exchange program, Mary Villano, had the idea for the game, and all proceeds are donated to an Arlington family in need. This particular game earned the students a victory, but despite losing, Barry says that “it was a lot of fun.” Be sure to catch the next game for some student teacher rivalry and the chance to support your community!

AHS Students Attend Semester Schools

By Claire Kitzmiller

Every year, juniors at Arlington High School have the option to spend half the year at a semester school. A semester school is a high school where a small group of students from all over the country come to study for one semester. Few students take advantage of the unique opportunity, but those who do find the experience unforgettable.

There are eleven schools that students can apply to all across the country. Some examples  include CITYterm in New York City, The Mountain School in Vermont, Chewonki on the coast of Maine, and The Island School in The Bahamas.

Students apply during January through March the year before they plan to attend and find out whether or not they have been selected at the end of March. The application process includes questions about students’ educational interests, personal interests, and reasons why they want to attend the school.

Several students at AHS attended different semester schools across the country during the fall of 2017. Maya Pockrose attended Chewonki on the Maine Coast, Clara Tully attended CITYterm in New York City, and Jessie Cali attended The High Mountain Institute in Colorado.

 

Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki

 

The Chewonki school is located in Wiscasset, Maine, on the coast. The school focuses on science, sustainability, and farm life. Students live in cabins heated by wood stoves with seven other people; each cabin does two weeks of farm chores, starting at 6:30 am each morning. Students also take part in work programs, field trips, wilderness trips, and cooking.

For field trips, students visit different environments while answering prompts in field journals. Twice a week, students also engage in work programs, which include helping the maintenance crew, working on the farm, writing for the blog, working in the kitchen, and pulling out invasive species on campus.

AHS junior Maya Pockrose attended Chewonki during the fall of 2017. Pockrose was able to take many classes that corresponded to AHS classes such as Pre-Calculus, Spanish, and A.P U.S. History, but Pockrose also got to take classes unique to Chewonki. For science she studied “Natural History of the Maine Coast.” For the course, Pockrose learned about species and ecosystems local to the Maine Coast with the opportunity to visit the unique environments on field trips.

During the weekends, Pockrose spent her time going on walks, playing music, spending time with friends, and sometimes cooking dinner. She also went on special trips including a five-day wilderness trip, 2-night solo, and an outdoor leadership weekend.

Pockrose decided to apply to Chewonki because “the community, setting, and academics really appealed to [her].” Pockrose says, “the experience was truly life-changing and it’s a great opportunity.”

 

The High Mountain Institute

 

The High Mountain Institute is located in the Rocky Mountains in Leadville, Colorado. Students focus on leadership and sustainability while being immersed in the unique cultures around them. Students lived in cabins, chopping their own wood for heat while engaging in hands-on learning. The students also go on two eighteen-day backpacking trips while continuing their classes on the canyons and mountain peaks.

AHS junior Jessie Cali studied at the High Mountain Institute in the fall of 2017. Cali took classes such as AP U.S. History and Pre-Calculus, but she also got to take unique classes including “Ethics of the Natural World.”

Cali was drawn to the school because of the time outdoors, backpacking trips and location. Through the program Cali states that “I learned how to advocate for myself and develop closer relationships with teachers, and [how to] become comfortable and confident being my true self,” giving her, “control over my academic, social, and emotional success.”

 

CITYterm

CITYterm is located in New York City, held at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, forty minutes from Grand Central Station. Students spend every other day in New York City, applying in-class learning to the diverse, urban setting. Students study an interdisciplinary curriculum, including classes about the Urban Environments of New York City. During classes, students design projects and address complex problems related to the city.

AHS junior Clara Tully attended CITYterm during the fall of 2017. Tully was drawn to the school because she has always been “fascinated by New York City” and heard incredible reviews about it. At the school, Tully learned how “to ask really great questions…[and] how to be an effective group member.” Tully’s favorite part of the experience was “the amazing friendships [she] formed with not only [her] peers but also the teachers.”

 

To find out more about semester schools, go to the website https://www.semesterschools.net/

Students Travel Abroad For February Vacation

By Isabella Scopetski, Chloe Jackson and Claire Kitzmiller

The week of Feb. 18, Arlington High School students traveled overseas to take part in school organized trips meant to connect exploration and enjoyment with education and hands-on learning experiences.

AHS sent students to northern Italy, Switzerland and South Africa and many of the participants came back enthused and passionate about their experiences. Each trip involved more than a year’s planning and fundraising by the adult organizers, chaperones and parents.

Musical Italy Trip

Students in honors level Jazz Band, Honors Orchestra or Madrigal Singers traveled to Europe for 11 days to tour northern Italy and part of Switzerland. The three groups performed six concerts while abroad and prefaced the trip with a “farewell concert” performed at Arlington High the week before their departure.

Sabatino D’Agastino, conductor of the Jazz Band and Honors Orchestra, and Madaline Kitchen, conductor of the Madrigal Singers, collaborated in planning the trip to Italy over a year in advance. Preceding the trip, the conductors worked closely with the parents of the students going on the trip to plan nearly a dozen fundraising events.

Students performed in venues including a Roman Catholic church, a Swiss conservatory and an Italian music-specific high school. Between concerts, the groups toured the cities and regions of Milan, Varese, Lugano, Verona, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore.

The groups were accompanied by tour guides Guiseppe and Lorenzo Tarzia, two brothers based out of southern Italy who are knowledgeable about Italian culture, history, food and geography.

D’Agastino found the most rewarding part of the experience was “witnessing [his] students being so happy on and off stage.” He sees the trip as “a great opportunity to learn about other cultures…to perform with other musicians all from over the world…to socialize… [and] to learn how to be on their own.”

“Traveling is one of the biggest favors we can do for ourselves in terms of gaining experience, becoming more understanding, and growing love for our fellow humankind,” Kitchen said. “Performing in unfamiliar circumstances always helps improve musicianship.

Jazz Band members Joanie Cha and Nico Riley called the trip a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” and reiterated it was “a great bonding experience for everyone involved.”

One concert on the tour was held at an Italian high school of music. Each student attending the school must study two instruments throughout high school, along with their core classes. Arlington High musicians had the opportunity to talk to the Italian students who attended their concert, as well as sing with them on stage in an encore of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“We were with kids who didn’t speak the same language, [yet] we were able to connect through music,” said Cha, a Jazz Band saxophonist. For them, the most rewarding part of the experience was when everyone was on stage together and “there was a universal respect for each other as musicians.”

Not only was the music fulfilling for Cha, but simply having the privilege to “learn so much about people who [they] didn’t even know went to [their] school” was truly a gift.

While performing in new venues each concert and touring European cities were major aspects of the trip, senior Caroline Dressler’s favorite part about the trip was “getting to know everyone better,” a sentiment shared by the many students who participated.

South Africa Trip

A group of 46 students, 37 from Arlington and nine from Ashland, travel around 20 hours to South Africa. After a minor hiccup because of a delayed flight out of Boston, the group was able to spend a day exploring Paris as well as South Africa.

The students spent time working with kids at Elkanah, a private high school with grades 7-12, Atlantis, an after school program similar to a Boys and Girls Club, Table View Primary School, grades 4-7 and Ysterplaat Junior Primary School, kindergarten to third grade.

Junior Izzy Manion valued “being able to play with the kids and showing that you made an impact on their lives,” while junior Ellen Gerberick loved when she first walked in to her sixth-grade class and “all the kids’ faces just brightened.”

In addition to assisting classes in several South African schools, Arlington students visited Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, botanical gardens and penguins on the beach. They hiked Table Mountain and Lion’s Head and also set up a street store to donate their own personal clothing to the South African homeless.

Gerberick and Manion are eager to travel to Cape Town again and established lasting bonds with the teachers and children they worked with in Cape Town. Gerberick added “it’s good to experience a new culture and to step into someone else’s shoes, even if it’s a little uncomfortable and emotional.”

Latin Italy trip

Eight Latin language students and two teachers traveled to Italy to enrich the learning they’ve done in class . The group landed in Milan and traveled to Florence for three days before driving to Rome for another two. Latin teachers Cassandra Mea and Veronica Quinn began planning the trip with their students a year before they left.

In Florence the students traveled with a tour group, comprised of students from other schools. The group visited historical landmarks including the Birth of Jesus, The Statue of David, El Duomo and The Church of Christ. In Rome, the students traveled to the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps.

Sophomore Alevia Doyle decided to go on the trip because she loves Latin and was interested in seeing all of the places she had been learning about. Doyle’s favorite part of the trip was “getting to know different people [she] would not have talked to at school.”

 

Oscar Movies Review

By Eliza McKissick

download

 

Oscar Winners

Best Picture: The Shape Of Water

My Final Order for “Best Picture” Films

  1. Call Me by Your Name
  2. Get Out
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Phantom Thread
  6. The Post
  7. Lady Bird
  8. Darkest Hour
  9. Shape of Water

 

Lady Bird:

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson  is a senior at a Catholic high school in Sacramento California. The film follows the outspoken Lady Bird as she navigates her way through friendships, relationships, family drama, and the pressures of being a teen.

  1. Storyline- 7
  2. Originality-2
  3. Acting- 9
  4. Realism/ accuracy- 10
  5. Resonance- 6
  6. Bonus: none

Total-  34/51… 67%

The overall plot of “Lady Bird” is far from original. There have been countless films released that touch on practically the same subject. That being said, what sets “Lady Bird” apart is the acting, and the accuracy of the relationships being portrayed. Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) have a somewhat destructive relationship, something that many teenage girls, and mothers alike can relate to. Both Ronan and Metcalf do a tremendous job dedicating themselves to these characters. I definitely enjoyed the film, and I believe “Lady Bird” deserved to be nominated; however, in my opinion, the lack of originality prevents it from being a serious contender for the award.

 

Call Me by Your Name:

Set in the summer of 1983 in a small town in northern Italy, the film follows Elio Perlman as he comes to terms with his sexuality. Elio falls in love with his fathers intern, Oliver, but spends much of his summer trying to repress these feelings.

  1. Storyline- 10
  2. Originality- 9
  3. Acting- 10
  4. Realism/ accuracy- 10
  5. Resonance- 9
  6. Bonus: soundtrack-1

Total- 49/51… 96%

“Call Me by Your Name” was spectacularly done; the acting was incredible, the storyline was amazing, and the relationships portrayed were heartwarming. Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver’s (Armie Hammer) romance was beautifully captured; both actors did a tremendous job. The romance between Elio and Oliver was not the only well developed relationship: Elio and his parents shared a moving connection. Their continuous love and support for Elio added to the films overall storyline. I would label “Call Me by Your Name” as most deserving to win the award for Best Picture.

 

Darkest Hour

Based on true events, “Darkest Hour” follows Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, through his decision of whether or not to negotiate peace deals with Nazi Germany. Churchill was forced to make this decision just days after accepting the role as Prime Minister; he had to do so while dealing with opposition from his own party, skepticism from the King, and civilians who were not yet ready to fight a war.  

  1. Storyline- 4
  2. Originality-9
  3. Acting-9
  4. Resonance- 1
  5. Realism/Accuray- 8
  6. Bonus: filming-1

Total: 32/51… 63%

Full disclosure: I am not a huge fan of war movies, so going into this, I was a bit biased. That being said, my biggest issue with “Darkest Hour” was its plot. Churchill’s (Gary Oldman) struggle over his decision to either negotiate a peace deal with Nazi Germany, or fight for Britain’s liberty, is interesting, but not enough so to stretch it out over 2 hours. I feel like I could have gotten the basic premise of the film in a 20 minute clip. However, Gary Oldman does a great job in his role, and the filming was excellent. “Darkest Hour” was docked a few points in the accuracy section because of the scene with Churchill on the train. With some quick research it became clear that that never actually happened. Overall, the film was impressive, but not my top choice.

 

Dunkirk

1940, Allied forces were trapped on Dunkirk beach by an encroaching German army. British and French civilian boats were brought to evacualte the soldiers, saving over 300,000 soldiers. The film spans between a few British soldiers fighting to get home, a boat with three British citizens sailing to Dunkirk, and a British Air Force pilot.

  1. Storyline-9
  2. Originality-9
  3. Acting-9
  4. Realism/Accuracy-10
  5. Resonance- 4
  6. Bonus: Soundtrack-1

Total: 42/51… 82%

Despite my general unenthusiastic attitude towards war movies, I genuinely enjoyed “Dunkirk”. The story is incredible, and the film does a great job capturing it. There is no real character development, but that could be a creative choice to show that in times of war one doesn’t really have the time to get to know their fellow soldiers. The soundtrack does an great job building up the suspense in a scene, and keeping the overall sense of nervousness present throughout the film. “Dunkirk” was not my favorite of the nominated movies, but it definitely deserved its nomination, and it was, altogether, an impactful film.

 

Get Out

Rose takes her boyfriend Chris upstate to meet her parents for the first time. Chris is anxious to meet them because he is black and they are white. Upon their arrival everything seems okay; Rose’s parents are doing their earnest best at welcoming Chris. Chris then begins to notice strange behavior from the families servants, who happen to be the only other black people on the farm. As the film progresses, the family’s motives appear to be more sinister than anticipated, and Chris decides it is time to “Get Out”.

  1. Storyline- 10
  2. Originality- 10
  3. Acting- 9
  4. Realism/ Accuracy- 7
  5. Resonance- 10
  6. Bonus: Content- 1

Total: 46/51… 90%

“Get Out” was spectacular. The filming was incredible, the blend of horror and political/racial satire produced a wonderfully unique film. What hurt “Get Out” in terms of my (possibly flawed) scoring system was the realism aspect. I decided to remain optimistic in my decision that the specifics of the plot would never happen. That being said, “Get Out” definitely made the audience think about racial injustice. The horror aspect of the film was not so much fear of a tangible person, but more a fear of the reality of racism, and of whites who are complicit in the exploitation of blacks. In the current political state that America lives in, this film was crucial. While “Get Out” did a tremendous job tackling major issues, I do not believe that it will win the award for best picture.

 

The Post

Katherine Graham, the first female publisher the Washington Post had seen, must decide whether or not to publish top-secret government files that expose the details of the Vietnam war, which the U.S. government’s  had previously kept secret. If the Post were to publish the leaked documents, they could be charged in federal court for Contempt. If the Post chooses not to publish they are abandoning the American ideal of “Freedom of the Press”. Graham must struggle with this decision while facing the doubt of many of her peers.

  1. Storyline-7
  2. Originality-7
  3. Acting-9
  4. Realism/Accuracy-10
  5. Resonance-3
  6. Bonus: none

Total: 36/51… 71%

The plot of “The Post” was fascinating. The film did a great job covering the events that transpired, and was definitely informative. Meryl Streep, who played Katherine Graham, did a fantastic job. However, there wasn’t anything that really set “The Post” aside from the other nominated films. I enjoyed it while I was watching, but didn’t think about the film once I had left the theatre. Overall, a decent film, but I do not believe it deserves to win the award for best picture.

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frustrated by the lack of action in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes purchases three billboards and platers a controversial message directed towards the chief of police, William Willoughby. By doing so, Mildred Hayes is waging war on her local police force. The film focuses on the grief of a mother mourning the loss of her brutally murdered daughter.

  1. Storyline- 10
  2. Originality- 9
  3. Acting- 10
  4. Realism/ Accuracy- 8
  5. Resonance- 6
  6. Bonus: Character development-1

Total: 44/51… 86%

The acting in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was outstanding. Frances McDormand, who played Mildred Hayes, gave an incredible performance. I appreciated the character development throughout the film. The audience was able to see Mildred working through her pain, Chief Willoughby coming to terms with his personal affairs, and Willoughby’s right-hand man, Officer Dixon, turn his life around. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” did a beautiful job blending the juxtaposition between grief, redemption, and humor. This film was one of my favorites out of the nominated, and I would not be completely surprised if it won best picture.

 

The Shape of Water

Set in Baltimore during the 1960’s, the film follows Elisa, a mute woman who works as an overnight cleaner in a military lab. During her shift, Elisa discovers a new “asset” that has been brought to the lab. Elisa and this creature form an intense bond, and the film focuses on the development of their relationship.

  1. Storyline- 4
  2. Originality- 10
  3. Acting- 9
  4. Realism/Accuracy- N/A
  5. Resonance- 2
  6. Bonus: none

Total: 25/ 41… 61%

“The Shape of Water” was very visually appealing; the effects were stunning. However, the film lacked any character development. On top of that, the film was boring. The ending was predictable, and the lack of character development allowed the audience to anticipate each characters next move. The romance between Elisa and the “Asset” seemed so forced, and was a bit disturbing. Overall, I was not a fan of the film, and I do not believe it deserves to win the award of best picture.

 

Phantom Thread

Set in 1950’s London, the film follows renowned couturier, Reynolds Woodcook. Reynolds and his sister, Cyril, work together to maintain a tight regime in their shared business, The House of Woodcook. Reynolds finds inspiration in the various women who come and go from the House of Woodcook. All of this changes when Reynolds becomes fixated on Alma, a strong willed waitress who quickly becomes his muse.

  1. Storyline- 9
  2. Originality- 7
  3. Acting- 8
  4. Realism/ Accuracy- 8
  5. Resonance- 5
  6. Bonus: visuals- 1

Total: 38/51… 75%

The storyline of “Phantom Thread” was quite compelling. Daniel Day-Lewis, who played Reynolds Woodcook, did a fantastic job in his portrayal of obsession. The entire movie is composed of microaggressions between Reynolds and Alma, each trying to establish their power over the other. Unfortunately, the film gets worse as it progresses. The constant struggle in Reynold and Alma’s relationship grows old quickly. The film never reaches a true climax, and the issues plaguing Reynold and Alma’s relationship are never fully resolved. For me, this made the ending particularly unsatisfying. Overall, the film was well done, but left some to be desired.