Witches In Arlington Post-Halloween

By Lauren Bain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Project Brings Unity

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.

Columbus: The Film You Never Knew You Were Looking For

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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!

Town’s Spirit Shines In Relay For Life

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Members of Team “Alvin 2.0” – (from left, rear) Abby Mooney, Karenna Ng, Alexandra Tse, Maya Pockrose, Emina Hamzic, Juliette Stokes, Jackie Smith, Sowmya Yelleswarapu, (front) Grace Biondi

By: Michael Graham-Green and Patrick Gallagher

Dozens of Arlington residents circled the high school track accompanied by family and friends on Saturday, June 10, in a show of defiance against a deadly disease that has taken so many held so dear.

Arlington’s Relay For Life, one of the thousands of Relay For Life events held annually across the globe,  raises funds for the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society uses the donations collected through these events to fund cancer research and support for those diagnosed with any of the multiple types the disease.

This year, 57 teams participated in Arlington’s Relay For Life, raising a total of $114,806.46. Leading the pack, with a donation total of $28,537.48, was “Keepin’ Up With The Joneses” . Team members Clara Tully and Cade Johnston explained why the team was participating. “We’re walking for Courtney Jones, who passed away in January,” Tully said.  Johnston added, “Courtney never wanted anybody else to suffer, so we wanted to carry that on and make sure no one else has to be in pain like she was.” “Last year I walked [the Relay] with Courtney,” Tully explained, “so this year I’m walking in honor of her.”

Julia Hazen, a member of team “Up All Night for the fight!”, also told of a personal connection with the effects of cancer. “I’m participating because last year my mom had breast cancer,” she said, “and it’s just really important for me to raise money for this cause because if she didn’t have the supports and the research done by this foundation, she might not be here today.”

Members of team “Alvin 2.0” jumped at the chance to explain why they were taking part. “We are relaying to raise money for cancer research because we care about this very important cause,” said team member Maya Pockrose. Several other members of the team explained that they were participating because they had lost relatives to cancer.

Lasting from 6 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday, Arlington’s Relay For Life touched participants with both the sorrow of loss and the joy of survival. It brought a town together in an effort to do the incredible: stop cancer.

Car wreck warns drivers

On the week of May 21, a red, totaled vehicle was placed on the front lawn of the high school. The car had two dummies that were victims of the crash, both portrayed as fatally injured as a result of not wearing their seat belts.

The Director of the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division, Jeff Larason said that, “Massachusetts has one of the worst seat belt use rates in the country.  We are #45.   We want people to recognize the importance of wearing their seat belts, to understand the very real dangers of driving unbelted, and to put their belts on every time they are in the car whether they are a driver or a passenger”.

The car was displayed on the front lawn of the high school because teens have a much lower rate of wearing their seat belts than adults. From this position in the front of the school,  the wrecked car is visible to anyone who passes by on Massachusetts Avenue.

Larason says, “We chose to focus on seat belt use because it’s the one thing you can do to protect yourself from other drivers.”  Larason conducted a unscientific study at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Pleasant Street in which “23% of the drivers… were not wearing their seat belts”. Larason hopes that having the mock car crash on the front lawn will help to diminish this large number.

This is the first year that the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division has displayed a vehicle. The Division has participated in the Click It or Ticket program for almost 20 years according to Larason.

This program is targeted towards teens or young adults, aiming to increase seat belt use. May is when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts their national Click It or Ticket campaign. The car was towed to the front lawn by AAA New England and provided by the junkyard “Car Heaven” in Berlin, Massachusetts.

 

Ayla Rose pursues singing career

IMG_4629By: Chloe Jackson

Seventeen -year- old Ayla Rose, a junior at Arlington High School, is tackling her musical goals professionally. Ayla records her music, typically categorized in the blues genre, at various studios, combining her vocals and skills on guitar.

  Her ambition and talent has been recognized by the magazine Pop Matters, which features an article on up and coming soloist  “Ayla Rose”.

   This past year, two of her singles were released, including “Give Me One Reason”, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

At a young age, Ayla found herself musically inclined, partially due to the musical aspirations of her father, who is also adept in the music field. Although she does not participate in school related activities pertaining to singing, such as drama, chorus, and other groups, Ayla continues to devote her time to pursuing her music.

   Singing as a career is not Ayla’s end goal, but “as a hobby” she will continue to work on it. A preferred genre of Ayla’s is R & B, although she plays and sings a variety of music.

       At the moment, Ayla is a soloist, releasing her own music within the past few months. However, she has been in a band and is open to the possibility of forming one again.  

Ayla enjoys “doing what [she] loves and hopes other people will enjoy it”. She inspires other teenage artists with her individual success at such a young age.

 

Manion Sells Slime

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By: Jessie Cali

Videos of people playing with “slime,” a Silly Putty-esque toy, have taken over the internet. Inspired by the videos, Arlington High School sophomore Isabel Manion has started making and selling her own slime to AHS students.

Manion was shocked by the high prices of slime on the internet, so she began looking into how she could make it herself. “It wasn’t something that people at school were really making, so I decided I would give it a shot,” said Manion.

Manion started off by posting on her Instagram to gauge interest for the products, and her followers were excited about the idea. Manion began selling her slime through Instagram, but she says that “now people will approach me in school with slime requests”.

She has started experimenting with adding glitter, foam balls, and other goodies to her slime.

Manion’s homemade slime typically sells for about $3.

Students Rebuild New Orleans

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Abandoned lot in the Lower 9th Ward. [Courtesy of Henry Walters]
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Slavery memorial (and Katrina). [Courtesy of Henry Walters]
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Abandoned hospital (it would cost the city more to take it down, so they leave it)               [Courtesy of Henry Walters]

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Courtesy of Lulu Eddy
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Courtesy of Lulu Eddy
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Courtesy of Lulu Eddy

By: Claire Kitzmiller

In 2005, devastation surrounded hundreds of people in New Orleans, Louisiana, when hurricane Katrina struck. After twelve years, the city has not been fully rebuilt.

During this past April vacation, a group of students from the Follen Unitarian Church in Lexington went to New Orleans to perform a variety of services. The students rebuilt houses, gardened, mulched, and  participated in dialogues about racism.

They worked with service groups, NOLA Tree Project and Edible School Yard.

Several of the student who went on the trip are from Arlington High. Sophomores, Isabella Scopetski, Lulu Eddy, and Henry Walters are part of FUUY, Follen Unitarian Universalist Youth.

 Outside groups have done the majority of the rebuilding of New Orleans, because of the government’s insufficient funding.

The trip is important to Scopetski because she “learned a lot to take back to Arlington to better the community”.

Walters enjoys the work because he knows he is making a difference and helping people. Walters said, “You take a lot from it by giving.”

The theme of the trip was “Intent versus Impact”. Students learned the importance of asking what is needed instead of assuming.

Even though the people in New Orleans have experienced so much devastation, Lulu Eddy says, “It fills me with happiness to see how friendly and happy everyone living there is.”

The New Orleans community is grateful and welcoming to all those who offer their services and help.