National Champion Ryan Oosting Closes Out His High School Running Career

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From left to right: Roger Buckley, Ryan Oosting, Justin Bourassa, Adam Elyounssi, and Jeff Candell during the 2018 outdoor track season.

By Halle Snell

Ryan Oosting began running on the AHS cross country and track teams as a freshman. He is now about to begin his last season of outdoor track. During a span of almost four years (eleven seasons) as a varsity runner, he has become an extremely accomplished athlete. Oosting’s  favorite track distances are the mile and two-mile, his P.R.’s being 4:11.78 and 8:53.46, respectively. His fastest 5K time (3 miles) is 14:36.13.

Oosting helped lead the boy’s cross country team to two Middlesex League championships, in 2017 and 2018. He also attended the 2018 Nike Elite Camp, which chooses 18 of the fastest high school distance runners across the country to train together and improve by learning from each other. Oosting’s four year journey at AHS has been “rewarding, heartbreaking, and interesting” according to Justin Bourassa, who coaches the boy’s cross country and track teams.

The Beginning

Oosting had little to no interest in running before his freshman year at AHS. He signed up for the cross country team under his mother’s influence, and neglected to train before the start of the season. After being introduced to the vigorous practices and battling early injuries, Oosting realized that keeping training consistent and taking care of himself would be vital for success. As his freshman year progressed, he “ran pretty fast, and surprised [himself].” He describes thinking, I can actually be good at this.” Oosting then focused his newfound energy on training harder and improving his times.

Secrets to Success

Intense effort is required to be a strong cross country runner, both physically and emotionally. Oosting follows a strict regimen to stay injury-free, well-nourished, and mentally healthy. Drinking water, eating well, and sleeping are necessary for a runner’s health. Oosting explains that “people think they can get away with six hours of sleep, but if you’re not sleeping, you’re not only affecting school, but your running too, because it’s [harder for] your muscles to heal.” Neglecting to stretch or cool down after runs can also directly impact future performance. Oosting explains that “if you cut corners… you’re not going to be as good as you could be.” He advises new runners to “train hard, but train smart.”

Bourassa admits that “it’s always challenging to see runners as entire, whole people, not just varsity athletes.” Because of this, the team stresses balance and wellness. The coaches tell the athletes: “you don’t need to be thinking only about cross country, you always need to be thinking a little bit about cross country.”

Team Support

Cross country is primarily a team sport, according to Oosting. Everyone has personalized goals, but the bond between teammates is what drives them to reach these goals. At the 2018 league championship, “[they] ran for the team, not for [themselves],” and won the meet, beating each town they challenged during the season.

Flexibility from within has also been important for the team. When Oosting was unable to attend a traditional postseason meet due to another invitational, Bourassa explained that “he [thought] about what he wanted to do, and everyone understood and respected that decision, just like… the other guys made choices about what [to] participate in.”

There are many people in Oosting’s life whom he believes have been the “unspoken heroes” behind his successes. He doesn’t think that his coaches- Justin Bourassa, Kevin Richardson, and John Creedon- get enough credit for the encouragement and support they’ve given him. His parents come to all of his races and support his running in any way they can. He “doesn’t think [he would] be here without them.”

Coaching Ryan has helped Bourassa “put everything in perspective, in terms of looking at the bigger picture.” He feels “much more comfortable taking a loss in something that might feel smaller if [they] can keep [their] eyes on bigger [and] more meaningful meets.”

Plans For The Future

Oosting was ecstatic when accepted to Stanford, one of the country’s leading universities. He plans to study sciences and run both cross country and track. Because of his already busy schedule, he doesn’t predict that college will be a drastic change from high school. In fact, he hopes for more free time next year.

If all goes according to plan, Oosting hopes to “run post-collegiate… with a pro contract.”

The Arlington High School community is immensely proud of Oosting’s accomplishments and is excited to see what his future holds.

The boy’s cross country team continues to welcome many new members each fall. The team has dramatically increased in size in the last few seasons- there are now about 50 runners. Bourassa emphasizes the fact that “the running program… at the high school is a great place to start- it doesn’t have to be a place where you end up.” He encourages aspiring runners to “come on out- there is a spot for you. You’re already on the team.”

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Me And My Girl Comes To AHS

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Ben Horsburgh and Violet De Besche dance in Me and My Girl [Image courtesy of Mr Soares]

By Claire Kitzmiller

On April 5, 6 and 7, the AHS theater was full of laughter, music, and British accents as students performed Me and My Girl, a light-hearted musical about a choice between high society and middle class.

The show follows Bill (played by senior Ben Horsburgh), a quirky man from Lambeth, who learns that he is the sole heir to a London lordship. Bill is forced to decide between the structure and luxuries of high class and the people he loves in his middle-class home in Lambeth.

Me and My Girl was composed of musical numbers performed by the students, complicated dances choreographed by students and staff, as well as a surprise appearance by the director’s dogs.

According to director Michael Byrne, Me and My Girl was chosen because, “It’s a silly, fun romp that I think is always welcome; maybe particularly now it is fun to do something light hearted and escapist.”

Preparations began in December with student auditions, and rehearsals began in January, intensifying as opening day approached. Senior Rafi Barglow, who played Sir Jasper Tring, said, “I have the most fun the few weeks before the show starts, when the rehearsals are the longest and most intensive, because it is when the bonds of community form the strongest.”

The annual musical creates a sense of community throughout the cast as well as across the student body. Bargalow said, “my favorite part of almost any show is the community that forms around it…This community is the reason I do theater, and I believe the shows are all the better for it.”

The show also builds a sense of connection within the school. Senior Ellie Crowley decided to see the show because, “it’s cool to see what our classmates have been working on for months and months now.”

“We Make More than Music Here” Benefit Concert for Empowering Homeless Women

By Grace Walters

19 months ago, Jennifer Kane, director of the Arlington-based Cantilena Women’s Chorale, decided that she wanted to make a difference in her community and show “ways in which women could be strong and utilise their strength.”  With this goal in mind, Kane, along with Leora Zimmer, director of another local women’s chorale called Voices Rising, conceived the idea of a benefit concert for empowering homeless women in the Boston area.

Over a year and a half later, their idea became a reality.  First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington hosted the “We Make More than Music Here” Benefit Concert for Empowering Homeless Women in their sanctuary on Saturday, March 9 from 4-7 pm.

The three choruses that performed at the concert were the Cantilena Women’s Chorale, Voices Rising, and the Eureka Ensemble’s Women’s Chorus.

Cantilena

The Cantilena Women’s Chorale is approaching its 40th anniversary next year.  The chorale was originally established in Arlington as an all-gender inclusive, “SATB” group (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass).  However, forty years ago, it transitioned to an all-women’s chorale.  Ten years later, they adopted the name, “Cantilena,” which is the Italian-Latin word for “song.”

Jennifer Kane, the co-founder of the benefit concert, has been the director of Cantilena for four seasons.  The chorus is very diverse with women ranging from graduate school-age to women in their seventies and possibly older.  Some members of the chorale have been singing their whole lives; others are new to singing.  “We have a mix of cultural backgrounds as well,” says Kane.  “It’s a really nice community of people.”  

The group rehearses every Monday from 7:30-10:00 pm between the months of September and May.  They have two anchor concerts at the end of each semester and occasional small concerts.  Kane says, “[The benefit concert] is a smaller performance. Although, I don’t know if I would classify it as a smaller performance because it seems like such a sizable endeavor.”

In May 2019, the chorale is putting on two concerts; one will be held in Arlington and the other in Newton.  The theme of the concert is celebrating remarkable women, namely, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and Malala Yousafzai.  

Voices Rising

According to their mission statement, Voices Rising is an all-women’s ensemble “founded upon feminist principles of community, inclusivity, activism and education.”  Voices Rising was established in February 2004 by a small group of passionate and committed women who simply wanted to sing together.

Leora Zimmer, a local musician and co-founder of the “We Make More than Music Here” benefit concert, was invited to be the artistic director of Voices Rising when it was first established.  They began performing as a group at a rally for marriage equality during March 2004 and later opened Boston’s Gay Pride week with a performance in Faneuil Hall.

Now, with just under 70 members ranging from 20 to 65 years of age, Voices Rising performs in two fully produced concerts of roughly 10-15 pieces of memorized music every spring and fall.  Additionally, Voices Rising sang backup for Demi Lovato on the Boston stop of her “Self Love” tour.  

Voices Rising is now celebrating their 15th year, which, according to the chorale’s social media director, Ruthanne Corthell, “is a testament to the strong foundation that those first members laid for us [in 2004].”

The Women’s Chorus

The Women’s Chorus is a subgroup of the Greater Boston-based Eureka Ensemble and is entirely comprised of women who are facing severe poverty or homelessness.  They rehearse two times a week at the Women’s Lunch Place, a homeless shelter for women on Newbury Street that offers food, medical care, and community.

In March 2018, faculty members of the Eureka Ensemble held auditions at the Women’s Lunch Place—for women from homeless shelters in Boston and Cambridge—where they learned how to sing and be in a choir.  From these auditions grew a cohesive group of strong female singers.  

Today, the Women’s Chorus frequently performs at concert events, many of which address and raise funds for the issue of homelessness.  

The co-founders of the Women’s Chorus, David McCue and Kristo Kondakçi, say that “There is a critical need for those experiencing poverty and homelessness to bring their voices to the public discourse, to increase their access to the performing arts, and to expand public awareness about the realities of homelessness.”

Fundraising for a Cause

The proceeds from the benefit concert are going towards both the Women’s Lunch Place and the Women’s Chorus.

“We originally talked about doing a collaboration to benefit a women’s issue like cancer research and things along that line,” says Kane.  “It seemed like a really nice pairing to talk to [the Women’s Chorus] about being the beneficiaries of this concert, and not only did they want to be the beneficiaries, but they [also] wanted to participate, which was even better.”

The suggested donation for attending the benefit concert was $20 per person, which, combined with additional donations, grossed a lot of money.  

The Concert

The program began promptly at 4 pm on March 9.  However, the First Parish sanctuary was chock-full of people as early as 3:30 and guests overflowed both the lower and balcony seats.  Audience members sat eagerly with their programs in their laps until a multitude of women wearing purple robes entered the sanctuary.  The audience applauded the women as they assembled themselves towards the front.  

The three choruses presented a beautiful repertoire, incorporating a nice blend of both older and contemporary pieces, many of which were created by female composers.

The concert lasted for roughly three hours, ending at 7 pm.  At the end of the program, coffee and cake was served in the First Parish community center.

First Parish

First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington is a congregation of over 400 members, many of which are AHS students.  Their community is founded upon UU principles, such as “justice, equity and compassion in human relations” and the “inherent worth and dignity of every person.”  

Events that benefit social justice causes are frequently hosted at First Parish.

Mary Cummings, Co-Chair of the Social Justice Committee at First Parish, says, “Homeless women are extremely vulnerable, [both] physically and mentally, and they are a population that does not receive much attention.  We are glad to have the opportunity to support them.”

Students Intern For High School Credit

By Isabella Scopetski

As students craft their schedules for the upcoming Fall semester, the internship program remains a popular choice for incoming juniors and seniors at AHS. Students who have previously participated in the internship program reflect positively about the program and the impact it’s had on their education.

How It Works

Many students and are enticed by the program because of the promise of a G block study second semester, however, most do not fully understand the process.

Melanie Konstandakis sheds some light on how the ever-popular internship program operates and what her relationship to the students is. Konstandakis is the program director; she works with the students to help them choose the site that meets their needs, and she works with the sites to understand their needs and goals of the organization. “I also do an orientation to help prepare students to be successful in the host site,” she explains. Konstandakis plays a key role in overseeing the work students do at their sites and works with individuals when challenges arise.

The internship program has been in effect for six years at AHS. “Many other high schools have internship programs,” said Konstandakis, “but there are a few things that make ours unique.” The AHS internship program is unique in that it “allows all students to choose their site,students get course credit, it is in the fall, so students can use it on college applications, and it has a diversity of sites so students of different academic levels can find a site that meets their needs,” said Konstandakis.

Benefits

“I think the program helps students experience workplace situations to experience life outside of a traditional classroom,” said Konstandakis. It is her philosophy that “not all people are suited to classroom learning.” Konstandakis sees the internship program as an essential learning experience for some students because it introduces them to new ways of expressing their ideas and solving problems outside of the classroom, in a real world setting. Many student interns “have already taken all the classes that apply to their interests or are just ready to try something new and different,” said Konstandakis, which is why she believes the program is successful and popular among eager upperclassmen who are about to enter a new stage in their lives.

Since many student interns go on to higher education after they graduate, Konstandakis commented on how she thought the program geared students well towards college. “My graduates report that it does,” she said. Students learn a lot about communication, confidence, teamwork and pushing themselves to try new things. “In most internship settings, there is a supervisor but [they are] not necessarily by your side constantly, so students have to problem-solve more independently and take what they have learned and apply it on the spot to make things work,” added Konstandakis.

Although the internship program seems to benefit the students well, according to Konstandakis, it also seems to benefit the adults who run the work sites. “The students bring new ideas and often new knowledge,” said Konstandakis, which is helpful to adults who may need new strategies and ways of interacting with their community. The collaboration of students and adults has reportedly aided these sites in reaching a younger demographic through social media and newer technology which students tend to be more adept with than most adults.

Student Experience

Senior Isa Dray interned with Massachusetts state representative Sean Garballey at the state house in Boston during her junior year. Dray ventured into downtown Boston two days each week and worked for two and a half hours in Garablley’s office. Dray’s internship involved taking notes at meetings, hearings, and sessions with Garabally and his team. Dray also researched different bills, specifically the one hundred percent renewable energy bill; the goal was to understand how legislative action happens.

For Dray, the internship program was an overall positive experience. She enjoyed working with her advisors: Garabally’s own advisors. “It ended up being a really good working relation,” Dray recalled, despite the fact that her advisor was new and sometimes struggled to find work for Dray to fill her time with. Through her experience, Dray unexpectedly learned that she is more interested in being on the other side of government where lobbying takes place, rather than being an elected official.

A few drawbacks to the experience for Dray included the hour-and-a-half commute she had to make each way by train to her internship each week. Working in an office was admittedly “boring at times,” said Dray, “when all I was doing was working in the office all day, researching, and taking notes.” For Dray, the job became more exciting when she “got to sit in on hearings for bills and sit in on the committee.”

Reflecting back on her experience, Dray expressed how she might do a few things differently. “I think I would try to come in with some more of my own ideas that I could work with my representative about,” as opposed to only working on issues Garballey was already working on.

Another Student’s Experience

Lulu Eddy interned with Arlington Community Education during her senior year. She worked on various projects during her semester, which included working on social media outreach by launching the Community Ed. Instagram page and posting on the site’s Facebook feed to remind people about upcoming classes. “I also edited their catalogue,” said Eddy, “organized data on spreadsheets, and I organized classroom proposals.” The summer before she began her internship with Community Ed, Eddy interned with ACMi and built a relationship with Konstandakis, which led her to continue a similar internship through the school year. Eddy expressed her appreciation for the program as it was “accommodating to her demanding sports schedule.”

Eddy’s experience is exemplary of how personal and specific internships can be for students at AHS. While Community Ed benefited from Eddy’s experience with social media and technology, Eddy was able to gain from working with adults and learning the demands of a job in marketing or advertising, within her own town.

 

Eddy enjoyed her experience overall, especially with the people she worked with. “If I had more time, I would have liked to do something a little more hands on in my greater community,” admitted Eddy, “although this worked out because I was also playing sports.” Additionally, Eddy believes that her communication skills improved through her internship. “By the end I felt really comfortable communicating with my boss and the other women I worked with about my needs,” said Eddy. She also took away a greater understanding of event planning, which came into play when she helped organize various Community Ed classes.

Main Takeaways

Konstandakis and student participants find the internship program an overall success. Site supervisors also learn and benefit from their student interns, which maintains a working relationship between AHS and each site.

“Students can still sign up for the fall by putting internship into their schedule and I will set up a time to meet with them and get them matched!” says Konstandakis.

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