Bands Battle Saturday Night

By: Maya Pockrose

The 11th annual Battle of the Bands will be Saturday, January 28th, 2017 at 7:30pm at the Regent Theatre.

The six bands performing are Giulia and Caroline, Haley Wood & the Greater Good, Error 404, Saturn VI, Star-67, and Insight. Tickets are $15 in advance or at the door.

The STAND Club organizes the event, which is a fundraiser. The money will be donated to the  organization Save the Children.

Paul McKnight,  teacher and advisor for the STAND Club, says,“The situation in Syria and the Syrian Refugee crisis are issues on people’s minds as well as the millions of displaced people, especially kids. We want to support and recognize them this year.”

McKnight says,“We’re calling this the 11th annual event. We have done at least 11.”

To audition, bands had to fill out a form and submit a CD or links with 3 songs. There was no cost to submit audition material.

In addition to the band performances, there will be a raffle. “The Arlington businesses are very generous,” says McKnight, in their donating raffle materials.

Last year, the prizes were assembled into baskets to raffle off. This will likely be the situation this year, as well. The raffle helps to generate more money for the cause.

Each band gets 20 minutes to perform. Although there is no intermission, there will be about five minutes between each band. The event usually ends between 10:00 and 10:30pm.

For McKnight, who plays music and was in a band during high school, playing in the Battle of the Bands was the first time he got to “show [his] classmates what [he] did in [his] spare time,” in high school. For him, aside from the fundraising aspect of the event, giving bands the chance to play is the best part.

Each year, there are typically students who may never have played on such a large scale. “They’ll come up, and they’ll be really thankful,” he says. That’s the part that is “most rewarding” for McKnight..

There will be a prize for the winning band, but it has yet to be determined. A cash prize is a possibility, and, of course, “bragging rights,” says McKnight. In years past, music store gift certificates have been given as prizes.

McKnight will “very possibly” be performing at the event this year. The Educated Guests, a band comprised of AHS teachers, will “definitely be performing,” for about 10 minutes towards the end of the event.

Battle of the Bands is open to the community. Although he realizes that $15 can be a lot, McKnight stresses that the event is a fundraiser and that this year’s bands are a good bunch. It’s a family-friendly event and is open to students from other schools besides AHS.

Team Skates at Fenway

hockeyBy Anna Hinkel

On Wednesday, January 11th, the Arlington High boys’ varsity hockey team played on their biggest stage yet: Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, which had been transformed into Frozen Fenway, a massive outdoor ice rink, for the two weeks of January 3-16th.

Arlington High was selected to play against Burlington High at Frozen Fenway; they were the first public high schools that were not from Boston to be chosen.

Other teams that played from Massachusetts include the Boston Bruins, Boston University, and Boston College.

The game was meant to be for entertainment, not competition, therefore, the outcome would not affect either team’s record. This did nothing to take away the Arlington High boys’ desire to win.

Though the pressure to win wasn’t there, it was different and daunting to be under big lights and more on display than normal. Not only did they want to win for themselves, but also wanted to win to prove they could perform in a higher level stadium, not just in local indoor rinks like Arlington’s Ed Burns Arena.

Everything in a rink is controlled, the temperature and the quality of the ice, especially. One would expect the conditions at Fenway to be less than exemplary, but the ice was smooth and well-kept, despite the high 50s temperatures.

The only thing that was really affected was the depth perception of the players, which was thrown off slightly by the bright lights of the park.

At a local rink, the spectators are usually just parents and fans from the school, such as classmates and maybe people from the opposing team’s town.

At Fenway, there is a huge crowd, people from both towns and some people who just come to watch a game at Fenway. There is no home team; it’s neutral ground for both teams.

This was a change of pace, but it was also amazing for them to play at Fenway – a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Frozen Fenway experience would not have been complete without some behind the scenes perks for the team, which they got. The team dressed in the clubhouse and went  into the visitors’ batting cage. They also viewed all the old and new framed photos.

The team came out of this with not only an incredible experience, but also with a 6-3 win.

Senior Michael Curran had one goal. Sophomores Dara Conneely, Cameron Ryan, and Joel Hanley all had one, and freshman Brendan Jones, who provided all the information for this article, scored two goals.

AHS Students Take PACTS and PSATS

By: Maya Pockrose

The Pre-SATS and Pre-ACTS took place at AHS on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016. According to Lester Eggleston, who organized both tests, 280 students took the PACT and 235 took the PSAT, leaving about 82 Sophomores and 84 Juniors that didn’t test that day. These students were instructed to go to Old Hall and take a practice test that would not be scored.This was the first year the PACT was offered at AHS or anywhere else.

The difference between the two tests is the age group for which they are designed. The PSAT is normally for Juniors, while the PACT is the norm for Sophomores.

In the past, when only the PSAT was offered, students sometimes had not taken the math classes in particular necessary to do well on the exam. The tests are now designed for specific grades, so students are testing with their peers.

One person primarily responsible for administering two different tests for hundreds of students at the same time is bound to produce some confusion. Some students were rumored not to have been able to finish or take their tests. There were, in fact, students who did not get to take the test, confirms Eggleston, due to confusion involving students and teachers.

However, any student that spoke to Eggleston directly was allowed to test, and there were enough actual tests to accommodate anyone who wanted to test that day. Anyone who wanted to finish the test was given the opportunity to do so, but there were students who didn’t finish testing because they chose not to.

The decision to take the tests during school rather than at other times was made by the administration, which was trying to reduce the number of obstacles involved in taking the test, such as transportation, conflicts with jobs, sports, or family trips, etc. Since AHS has been administering the PSAT for a number of years, a poll may be taken at some point to see if students would be available at other times instead.

Overall, according to Eggleston, testing went well. The biggest challenge was offering two different tests on the same day, including two different registration processes, fees, and timings. Based on feedback and discussion with the administration, some changes will be made next year.

Interestingly, the PACT is a relatively short test. Students spend nearly as much time filling out surveys at the beginning as they do completing the academic testing portions, which surprised some. The survey sections on the actual test are reportedly shorter.

The ACT is trying to prepare students for careers rather than college. While college is a path to a career, the ACT want students to focus on strengths, what they enjoy, etc., which the ACT administrators believe will naturally lead to a student’s college decisions. However, this does not mean that AHS will be adding vocational courses. Rather, the test may allow students to get a better sense of what electives may attract them.

Students are able to look at their individual scores, as well as see the grades of their peers as a whole.

The PACT will be offered again next year. Changes for next year include timing (starting earlier for both tests), holding to more firm deadlines for registration (this year, some students were enrolling on test day itself, which is “kind but not real world,” according to Eggleston), and more preparation and training for staff regarding the administration of the test.

One student felt that, while she understood this was the school’s first year administering this test, the test “really could’ve been run better”. In this student’s case, and in many others, testing began over two hours late. Students were asked to arrive at school at 8:30am but didn’t enter their testing rooms until at least an hour later. Some students weren’t allowed to eat lunch until completion of the test, causing some students to have lunch at 1:30pm.

Another question that circled the halls on test day was whether the answer sheets were lost at any point. The truth is far less intriguing than one might have been led to think. The blank answer sheets were lost for roughly 20 minutes on test day. They are shrink wrapped, Eggleston said, and when one teacher went to pick up the materials for his/her room, he/she took all the sheets as opposed to just the ones for that room by accident.

During the short period during which they were lost, the organization instructed AHS staff to photocopy extras and have students start marking answers there, but once the real sheets were found, answers were put on the real sheets. Seeing as this was a fluke incident, it likely won’t occur again in coming years.

Students taking the PSATS had already filled out sections in their English classes to speed up testing, so if those had been lost rather than the blank answer sheets, it would have been more of an issue.

The district believes that the more opportunities that students get to be put in this testing environment, the better prepared students will be when it counts.

The invention of PACT gives kids a chance to compare their PACT and PSAT scores and make a conscious decision about which test they want to take for college admissions.

There’s no need to take both, “ruining all your saturdays for your junior and senior year”, as Eggleston rather accurately put it. Instead, he said, you can make this decision based on the practice tests, which is why students take them. If you perform much better on one than the other, you can choose to take that test rather than the other. The PSATS and PACTS offer valuable experience for Sophomores and Juniors that can help them make the right choices about their education.

“Citizen of the Month” Inspires Community

By: Isabella Scopetski

Each month, Arlington High School students nominate their peers for the Citizen of the Month Award. The student council President, Junior, Emily Brown is chair of the Citizen of the Month committee, developed by the students involved in student council.

The initiative got off the ground November  2016. “We basically take nominations from other students and teachers in the building,” relays Brown. “Then we read through them all and decide who is going to be citizen of the month for each month.”

Brown referenced the morning announcements and the daily post as the current displays of these student nominees. In the process of choosing students to be citizens of the month, Brown and her fellow committee members must select a student who, “contributes to a positive environment at AHS”. “Positivity and helping others” are mainly what embodies the outstanding citizens, recalls Brown.

The “award” itself, Brown feels, is, “helpful in promoting unity [and] bring[s] everyone together as a community”. The project is meant to “bring about a more positive environment as a whole by recognizing people who are doing that and encouraging others to do the same,” reflects Brown.

“Student council is taking over bulletin boards [in the front lobby],” adds Julia Aleese, sophomore and  member of the committee. Brown assures that soon enough there will be pictures of the highlighted students throughout the year in the front lobby and hopefully announced on the student council website. Emails are sent out monthly as well, recognizing the new citizen of the month, with an attached google form for students and teachers to nominate more of their students and peers.

For Brown, the committee has been a great asset to the student council because they have been “delving into other areas and working on the actual school environment, and not just… specific events that happen for one day and then are over”.

Brown and Aleese enjoy the uniting quality of the committee and commemorating people who may not always be in the spotlight. Aleese agrees that she, “enjoys seeing that there are people who do good things.” She feels it “inspires people to do things just to make a more positive community”.

Vandals Destroy Property

By Claire Kitzmiller

This November, students in the Downs House were rushed out of the school because  smoke billowed out of the second floor girls’ bathroom. Vandalism has always been an issue at Arlington High School but in the past few months, it has reached a peak. Teachers’ cars have been targeted and keyed, car windows have been smashed, classrooms have been vandalized, and a bathroom has been set on fire.

A faculty member has had her car repeatedly vandalized on school grounds. Officer Porciello, the school safety officer, has reason to believe a student is causing the damage because everyday, the teacher parks her car in a new location, and still it is vandalized.

Two faculty members have even had their rear windshield windows smashed. Porciello is cautious before saying the smashing is caused by a student, because the windows were smashed on Mass Ave. He thinks it could be anyone.

When talking about the ongoing investigation of the vandalism, Porciello said, “The biggest asset is the student body, because there’s definitely more than one person who knows who’s doing it. People talk about stuff.”

Porciello says there are two ways to catch whoever is vandalizing the cars. Someone reports it to him, or someone is caught in the act. There is an ongoing investigation into the vandalism of faculty members cars, but no one has been caught yet.

When someone is caught, he/she will be charged for the penalty which is “malicious destruction of a vehicle”. The severity of the punishment is based on the cost of the damage.

The fire in the girls’ bathroom is also an ongoing investigation. The evidence shows that the fire was set on purpose. It is being considered arson, a serious offense.

When students smoke in the bathroom, they often smoke close to the stall, so they can quickly throw their cigarettes in the toilet. The fire in the bathroom originated on a piece of furniture, relatively far away from the stalls. This causes investigators to believe that the fire was started intentionally.

When asked about the investigation, Porciello said, “I’d like to ultimately catch the person/people who are responsible for doing this destruction, but at the end of the day, the number one concern is to make sure that whoever is doing it, stops doing it.”

Project lights Darkness

By Claire Kitzmiller

On January 19, 2017, at 5:30pm people all across the country will gather in and around theatres to participate in the Ghostlight Project. The Ghostlight Project is a movement across the country to bring light to the darkness.

The movement is “to make or renew a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

A physical ghostlight, is a light, required in many theatres, that must stay on when all others lights are off, to prevent an accident in the darkness. A ghostlight provides safety and security among the darkness.

On January 19, Michael Byrne, AHS Drama teacher, invites students students to sing, read a poem or play an instrument to bring light to the darkness. This will be taking place in Byrne’s classroom.

When asked why Byrne is participating in the project, he responded, “I think it is important to have voices heard.” Byrne believes in the power and unity of having a common goal with people all across the country.

Byrne said, “It’s just this sort of statement of safety about who you are and safe to be who you are regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

The Ghostlight Project states, “We aim to create brave spaces that will serve as lights in the coming years. We aim to activate a network of people across the country working to support vulnerable communities.”

The Project is not limited to January 19 at 5:30 pm. It is an ongoing mission, trying to accomplish equality and tolerance across the nation. This is a new project that may continue into the end.

Students Head to Cape Town

By: Eveline Ho

History department teacher Melanie Konstandakis will be the advisor for a trip to Cape Town, South Africa. The trip will take place during February break, 2017, from the 16th to 28th. Other chaperones include Mrs. Bavuso, Mr. Bavuso, Ms. Daley, and Mr. Mahoney, a geography teacher from the Ottoson.

The purpose of this trip is to “help students connect to a culture very different from their own and experience a different part of the world,” says Mrs. Konstandakis. Students will learn to develop a sense of self confidence and “inspire students to know that they can make the world a better place,”announces Mrs. Bavuso.

This trip was open to any AHS student willing to join. Students of many age groups will be attending. The total cost of the trip is $3250, and there are currently  42 participants this year.

Students will be expected to perform community service for Cape Town and do site work.

During day four, students will hike up Lion’s Head, a mountain in Cape Town with an elevation of 2,195 feet.

On day nine, the students will experience a tour of Robben Island, an island about 4.3 miles(6.9km) off the coast of Cape Town.

On their last day in Africa, before returning home, the students will go on a safari.

There will be two freshmen on this trip. The freshmen share their thoughts before the trip. “I am very excited and I am very lucky to be able to have this opportunity to see all the cultural diversity in Africa,” says Lillian Hempel. “I’m kind of nervous… we’re the only two freshmen. It’s going to be kind of dangerous, but it’s a good experience,”Lena Goodnow adds.

Africa is expected to be an interesting experience for these students! There is no room for more students this year, but the trip is anticipated to be available again in a couple of years.

Styrofoam… Still Here?

By: Lauren Murphy

Every week, Arlington High School alone sends nearly three thousand styrofoam lunch trays to the dump. These trays take 500 years to naturally decompose, and they release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, tarnishing our air quality.

According to the Green Restaurant Association, plastic and styrofoam materials make up 25-30% of the waste found in landfills. Many wonder, why then does AHS, amidst this recent push for a “green community”, continue to dispose of roughly 600 styrofoam trays per day?

“The problem with compostable trays is that you actually have to compost them; you can’t just throw them in the trash,” says Food Service Director Denise Hunt Boucher.

Composting waste requires organization of the school’s trash and specific machines which AHS does not have access to at this time. Boucher continues, “And we don’t have the facilities to do washable trays. There are some school systems that have the reusable ones. They have huge kitchens with the machines that they can wash and sanitize the reusable ones but we don’t.”

It is also a matter of budget. On average, styrofoam trays cost about 3.5 cents each. Switching to a compostable alternative would nearly triple the cost per tray.

Arlington Public Schools has managed to make progress with styrofoam waste within the elementary schools. The Brackett and Pierce schools have developed programs which allow them to replace the styrofoam lunch trays with a compostable substitute. Boucher explains that at Brackett “they actually compost them. We buy the compostable trays for them” .

The Brackett School began a partnership with Whole Foods Arlington in 2013, in which families in the community volunteer to deliver the school’s compostable waste to Whole Foods. From there, Whole Foods delivers the waste to a Bio-Digester in Marlborough, MA.

Still, Boucher remains hopeful. She says, “Obviously, no one wants to throw this much styrofoam away everyday. We know it’s not good.” She says that if a solution were presented that made sense in terms of budget and accessibility, that she would support it completely.

Tate Kokubo Skates Ahead

By: Wyatt Dupont

Tate Kokubo is an upcoming sophomore at Arlington HIgh School, but unlike most high school students, he is well on his way to becoming a professional skateboarder. However, Kokubo does not bust himself with ideas of fame and sponsors but rather skating purely for the fun of it.

Kokubo began skateboarding when he was eight-years-old and gained recognition from one of his local skate shops, The Boardwalk, which has since closed.

Over the years, Kokubo continued to draw the attention of others, accumulating sponsors form Maximum Hesh Skate Shop, Matix, Converse, and Fancy Lad Skateboards. As he progressed, Kokubo began to compete in skate contests, including Tampa Am, an annual skateboarding competition in Florida that attracts amateur skaters from all over the country.

Although Kokubo does not currently have any contests coming up, he will most certainly compete in more in the future. Kokubo has even had a skateboard part put out by Matix that is on Thrasher Magazine’s website, a famous, monthly skate magazine that has been around sing the 80s.

In addition, Kokubo has a part in Fancy Lad’s Is This Skateboarding video which is also up on the Thrasher website.

Q: “So, how has skateboarding impacted you? I know that may be too general but like, where has it taken you and who have you met?”

A: “It has taken me from New York to as far as California. I have met tons of awesome people throughout the time I’ve been skating. I think it is safe to say I have close friends in every city I have traveled to.”

Q: “Ok, any pros or notable skaters?”

A: “Yeah, I have met quite a few. One of my favorites is Donny Barley, and he is now a good friend of mine.”

Q: “Describe or tell why you like skateboarding.”

A: “I like skating because there are no rules. You can do it however you want and no one can tell you that you are doing it wrong.”

There are four levels, starting with Shop, the Flow, then Am, and finally, Pro. Kokubo considers himself to be Flow, meaning that he receives free products from companies and is also sponsored by several. Regardless of what “level”, Tate does out and skates for fun.