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.

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Columbus: The Film You Never Knew You Were Looking For

Columbus Poster
IMDb

By Miles Shapiro

Independent Cinema has already had an impact in 2017. Movies like “Get Out” and “The Big Sick” have shown remarkable success both financially and critically. Now South Korean writer and director Kogonada’s new film “Columbus” has arrived to continue the streak of pure artistic quality. While not necessarily a massive financial success, “Columbus” has gained a lot of buzz through festival screenings, including one at the Independent Film Festival of Boston where it took home the Special Jury Prize for narrative feature.

In this film Jin (John Cho) reluctantly journeys to Columbus Indiana after his architecture professor father falls ill. While there he meets Casey, played by rising talent Haley Lu Richardson, who is a recent high school graduate obsessed with architecture herself. The two form an unlikely bond as they meander through life in one of this year’s most touching films.

Every frame of this movie drips with visual splendor, and each shot on its own could be a painting. Aside from its aesthetically outstanding cinematography, however, this film boasts layered performances and an emotionally resonant and well-constructed screenplay. Cho and Richardson share a hyper realistic chemistry and wonderfully portray two lost souls searching for purpose. The story is instantly relatable to anybody who has ever felt unsure of what they want to do with their lives and it speaks to virtually all demographics. The direction by Kogonada is immaculate and precise, and manages to make a film mainly consisting of conversations in parks compelling and touching.

It should be made clear that this film is certainly not for everyone. The pacing is slow and deliberate, and information about the characters is revealed through seemingly insignificant lines and subtle nuances in the performances. It is certainly a far cry from most conventional fare, but, for those even mildly interested it is not a particularly inaccessible film and it’s worth seeing. The film also contains a strong supporting cast and subtle, yet impactful, score. Ultimately, what makes this film so wonderfully impactful is how it was able to establish such a vibrant atmosphere and craft a narrative I was utterly invested in even after the credits had rolled. This film is in a limited release and not easy to find but it’s worth seeking out for anyone even vaguely intrigued by films like this.

The Conundrum of Clever Stupidity: Kingsmen 2 Review.

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IMDb

By Miles Shapiro

Matthew Vaughn returns to direct this follow-up to his surprise action hit “Kingsman: The Secret Service”. In this entry, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now a certified Kingsman agent, must team up with the U.S-based Statesmen after catastrophe strikes. Egerton is as charming as ever and is joined by a rich supporting cast, including Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, and many others. A surprising standout in this film is Mark Strong, who plays the character of Merlin. Julianne moore also appears, in a splendidly campy turn, as the films central antagonist, alongside Elton John, who appears in an unforgettable cameo.

Where this movie succeeds is in its ridiculously fun action set pieces and delightfully over-the-top style. Vaughn once again shows his intrinsic understanding of the spy movie genre and his ability to exploit its tropes while still not falling complete into parody. Vaughn imbues each of his films with a postmodern flair entertaining enough to make the audience overlook plot holes, of which there are many.

This movie is fully aware that it makes no sense and embraces it with such gusto that one is obliged to just relax and enjoy it. As previously mentioned, the action demonstrates absurd amounts of creativity and kinetic camera work that fully engages the viewer. This inventiveness is on full display in the third act. The third act, however, in where this films flaws begin to reveal themselves. The charismatic performances and engaging action are simply unable to disguise sloppy storytelling and tedious subplots. Many of the dialogue scenes feel as though they are just filler to set up for the next big set piece, and they ultimately lead nowhere from a story perspective. The excessive subplots also serve to make the film feel bloated and disjointed.

Ultimately, this movie is an enjoyable time, and, while it is certainly not on par with the first, it’s not worthy of the slader some critics have given it . It’s dumb, but it knows it and is ridiculous enough to make fans of the first movie leave feeling satisfied.

Bourassa Takes on Jeopardy

By Chloe Jackson and Ellie Crowley

Since childhood, Arlington High School english teacher Justin Bourassa has cherished the lively game show, Jeopardy. Viewing the game show was a ritual in his adolescent home, and he continued the tradition in his own household, where his wife shares his love for the series.

Bourassa was encouraged by his wife to attempt an online audition, in which he performed extremely well, but thought nothing of it. However, his skillful results prompted a callback and a chance to display his trivia abilities at a regional competition in New York City. Along with twenty other candidates, he participated in a stimulation of the real show and endured yet another test, determining his future on the show. Eight months later, Bourassa arrived home to a message on his answering machine informing him that he was invited to participate in the real show.  

A month after his invitation to film in Los Angeles, and after hundreds of hours studying intently with his wife, Bourassa flew across the country to tape an entire season in two days, September 5th and 6th. The filming days also happened to land on the first two days of school at Arlington High School, inciting a chaotic situation.

Prior to taping, Bourassa prepared as though he were taking the SATs. With the assistance of his wife, and a database (J Archive) containing all past seasons game boards, Bourassa gained a plethora of knowledge. During the plane ride to California, Bourassa continued to expand his knowledge, scouring atlases and books about composers in order to sufficiently prep for his big moment.

Directly after two incredibly intense and grueling days of filming, he flew back to Massachusetts, prepared to embark on a fresh school year with new students. Despite his absence on the first few days of school, Bourassa eased into another school year at AHS. Be sure to catch Mr. Bourassa on Jeopardy on December 20th!