From January 13th to January 28th, the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society hosted the 22nd Annual Regional High School Artist Show. The exhibit was comprised of students from Burlington, Lexington, Bedford, Waltham, Winchester, Lexington Christian Academy, Concord-Carlisle, Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical, and Arlington high schools. The exhibit was full of impressive pieces displayed with pride to the public. With free admission and parking for the Parsons Gallery on Waltham Street in Lexington, the exhibit attracted parents, students, and many Massachusetts patrons.
Around fifty handpicked artists from Arlington High School were represented in the art show, accompanying pieces from neighboring school districts. Among many of the talented artists selected by Arlington High staff to have their work represented, was Eliza McKissick, a Junior in Mixed Media and Sculpture taught Ms. Rebola-Thompson. McKissick appreciated the opportunity to have her work displayed in a formal setting, and when visiting the show enjoyed the dozens of other “really fantastic pieces” on display.
A well-attended reception commemorating the hard work of these young artists was held on January 28th, the final day the exhibit was open, from 2pm to 4pm. Arlington High School art teachers Ms. Rebola-Thompson, Ms. McCulloch, and Mr. Moore worked to construct as well as deconstruct the display at Parsons Gallery before the opening of the show on January 13th. On January 28th, the reception took place to celebrate an end to the creative and thoughtful exhibit, contributed to by students and faculty.
Arlington High art teacher Ms. Rebola-Thompson continues to look forward to the annual event, where her students are recognized for their effort and talent. Rebola tells how she gleans much from the experience, affirming that “the art teachers get to connect with a bunch of different art teachers from around the local area and see what other people are doing in their classrooms.” Not only do the art teachers retain skills and information from the Regional High School Artist Show, but students also gain a positive inspirational experience, according to Ms. Rebola. Along with numerous members of the Arlington artistic student body, Rebola believes that, with an “eclectic and diverse” array of pieces, it was “wonderful to have students work out in the community and share their work with a greater audience.”
From Thursday, February 15th to Saturday, February 24th, members of the Arlington High School Madrigal Singers, Honors Orchestra, and Jazz Band will embark on a performing trip to Italy and Switzerland. There, they will tour major cities throughout Italy and Switzerland, as well as their local churches, schools, and museums. Beyond venturing internationally as high schoolers, students will perform at the Teatro Santuccio in Varese, Italy, Tradate High School in Tradate, Italy, the San Giovanni Battista Basilica in Milan, Italy, and attend a three day workshop followed by a performance with Lugano’s Conservatory members in Lugano, Switzerland.
A large trip such as this takes time, organization, and money. The provided travel agency is organizing flights, hotels, meals, buses, sightseeing expenses, performances, and other critical details. Part of each student’s payment will go into covering these expenses.
Expenses will also be subsidized by fundraisers that the performing arts department are hosting throughout the school year leading up to the trip. Fundraisers include car washes, yard sales, spaghetti night, a Barnes & Noble performance, the Jazz Band concert, the Madrigals concert, and the sale of raffle tickets at concerts. This Friday, February 9th in AHS’ Lowe Auditorium at 7:00pm, a Farewell Concert will be hosted in celebration of this trip. The students have already completed many fundraisers and still have more planned.
The trip’s popularity took off under the leadership of Sabato D’Agostino and Performing Arts’ prior department head, Pasquale Tassone. D’Agostino, a Salerno, Italy native, is AHS’ instrumental director, who leads band and orchestra. Through the trip, D’Agostino and Tassone have deepened the ties between AHS students and international music education. To this day, global citizenship and education serves as a foundation of the Arlington Public Schools. Arlington World Languages department hosts the Global Competence Program, providing graduates with the ability to contribute internationally and employ a broad-minded mindset throughout their lives.
When asked about the benefits of performing abroad, Madalyn Kitchena, a choir teacher at AHS since 2014 and head of The Madrigals, replied, “Instead of just performing for our own community, you are among strangers and a very different culture. The students are representing their school, but also their state and country for others outside it, which brings its own pressures and personal expectations.” On the importance of a strong foundation of education in the performing arts, Kitchen notes, “Students brains are used in different ways than in other things, and that tends to enhance their abilities in other areas of school and life. It enriches their experiences, and since music has such a strong connection to emotions, I believe that participating in music creates or contributes to a more healthy mind and emotional state.”
If you are a student at AHS interested in the prominent Performing Arts program featured at the school, both Mr. D’Agostino and Mrs. Kitchen advocate for everyone to join. D’Agostino deems the program’s environment, “very relaxed, passionate and welcoming,” while Kitchen highlights how important music is to all parts of your life. Fundraisers will continue to be held for this trip until February Vacation and will be broadcasted on the morning announcements. For more information about how you can help, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students taking Arlington High School’s Race, Class and Identity class created a project that illustrates the many layers of their complex identities. The project has been displayed in the Media Center at the school.
The students took pictures of themselves and a laser etched their images into individual pieces of plywood. On the other side of the etching, the students created a visual representation of their true identities. Some students collaged images of groups they are a part of or symbols that represent what is important to them.
The course goes beyond the face level of race and identity. Students learn to understand the many layers of one’s race and class and how that affects their identity. The course is taught by AHS teacher, Kevin Toro who created the project hoping to “deconstruct the physical judgements and prejudices that we have towards people.” The project is intended to show students that there is more below the surface, identity is made up of more than just one’s appearance.
Toro chose to display the project for the school because, students and staff at AHS “need to pay attention to our prejudices and our implicit biases” against other student and people in the community. According to Toro, the project was important because it “was a conversation starter and that’s what Arlington needs.” While Arlington is a very accepting town full of diversity, racial bias and discrimination is still very prevalent. The project is meant to address the problems that many students are still unaware of.
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 upholds—its 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, Shapiro—also a member of the student government, Journalism Club, and Model Congress—cautions 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.
From April 3-14, sculptures, paintings, and mobiles were displayed in the teachers cafeteria. These works were from Ms. Rebola, Ms. McCullough, Mr. Moore’s classes. Each student from Art I, Art II, Mixed Media, Painting, Portfolio Prep, Digital Photography I and II all have at least one work present in the show that was chosen by their teacher.
Beautiful banners will wave on Massachusetts Ave. in May to greet pedestrians and drivers. The banners were created by students in Arlington. High school art teacher, Annie Rebola, describes them as “a really nice burst of color”.
In January ninety-five students from all over Arlington, submitted art to be hung around Arlington center. Of the ninety-five, twenty submissions were chosen to be turned into banners six feet tall and four feet wide. Students were encouraged to use any media as long as it stayed two-dimensional.
The theme this year was Compassionate Community. Students, ages 12 to 18 living in Arlington, were asked to submit art encompassing this theme. Rebola commented, “It couldn’t have been a better theme for the climate right now.”
Art director, David Aditto, said, “It ties into the communities response to hate…Arlington won’t stand for that.”
The contest began in memory of Gracie James. Gracie James was a student at AHS years ago, when she died in a car accident. Her family wanted a way to celebrate her life. In remembrance of Gracie’s love for art, the banner competition began. The bottom of each banner will read “This project was funded by the Gracie James foundation”.
When asked about the projects and its origin, Aditto, said, “It’s a wonderful way to commemorate her life.”
Martina Tanga has been the key organizer of the project for the past two years. Tanga spoke at a reception for all of the artists who submitted to the project. Matina helped to chose the theme.
The judges of the contest were Selectman Joseph Curro, Graphic Artist Jill Manca, and the chair of the Public Art Committee Adria Arch.
Ian Miller, a junior at AHS, is using art to battle mental health issues within our school. He is organizing young artists to come together and create a mural that will offer support to students struggling with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
Andrea Razi and Jessica Klau are the social workers at the high school who are available for students in need of extra support with mental health issues. The guidance department is another resource which can help students.
Miller wants to present the resources of AHS in a visual way that will inform students as well as promote creativity.
The inspiration for this project came during a student council meeting back in the fall. Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition discussed the mental health issues students often battle and how the community can better support them. As the discussion wore on, “we found that awareness of resources in the school and throughout the community were severely lacking,” Miller says.
Trying to find a way to effectively inform students of the mental health resources available, Miller says the group “tossed around a few ideas and the mural is the one that stuck”.
From there, the project has been put into motion. If all goes according to plan, the mural should be executed in the Links hallway by April vacation and “feature resources in our community that can help students [with] a variety of issues”.
Miller is hoping that this mural can be a positive and engaging way to promote dialogue about mental health while creating a piece of art for all students to enjoy.
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.
Caroline Dressler playing the fiddle at the competition on September 10th. Photographer: Samantha Fleishman By: Claire Kitzmiller
On Saturday, September 10, 2016, Caroline Dressler won first place at the National Junior Scottish Fiddle Competition. At the competition Dressler also won Best Strathspey and Best Reel, both types of tunes.
In addition to the title of First Place, Dressler won a trophy, medals for the other awards, one hundred dollars and a scholarship to a summer fiddle school.
Winning the national competition means that Dressler will automatically get to return to the competition next year without winning her regional competition. Instead of going to her Regional competition, Dressler plans on attending the adult competition, an incitation she received as a result of winning her junior tournament.
Dressler also plays in many groups in and outside of Arlington High School. She has released an album with Giulia Haible, also a junior at AHS, called Dragonfly. Dressler’s other group, Scottish Fish is working on releasing their first album. Dressler plays with various other groups, The Shenanigans, a group in her church, the AHS honors and full orchestras.
Dressler learned to play the fiddle when she was only five. Inspired by her mom, Dressler started taking lessons. She studies at the Crescendo Music School in Bedford with Carlough Faulkner-Carroll.
Outside of fiddling, Caroline is a runner on the AHS Cross Country and track teams. She is also an active member in her church’s youth group.
Arlington High School senior, Jacob Deck, was crowned “most likely to take over the world” by the senior class this winter, and he continues to exhibit the unique spirit that had him recogni
zed in the first place. In his last months of high school, Jacob has embraced new opportunities, challenges, and passions, all the while creating an unmistakeable reputation for himself. I caught Jacob backstage at the school’s musical, Hello Dolly, on of the busiest weekends of his year. Between costume changes and dance breaks he chatted with me about his past, present and future.
Olivia: Is this the first musical you’ve ever been in?
Jacob: Yes, it is. I’m kind of surprised by this fact. I was in the band in A Christmas Carol, and I had so much fun with everybody then, being around the theater people in their natural environment, I felt like I had to come back.
Olivia: What has been your favorite part about being in the musical?
Jacob: Every day when I come home, I have a new story about what happened that day. Honestly, everyone here has started to feel like my family up on stage. It’s been really special and now I’m thinking, ‘Where has this been all my life’?
Olivia: What other extracurricular activities have you done this year?
Jacob: Well, pretty recently I won the South Shore Folk Music Club youth ballad contest. I sang a Scottish border ballad called “Jock O’ Braidislee”, and I played my harp. It was fun. There’s a video of my performance somewhere on Youtube.
Olivia: When did you learn to play the harp?
Jacob: Well, I wanted to learn for a while, but last summer I actually got a job, so I was able to make enough money to buy one that I found at Wood and Strings in Arlington Center. One afternoon in October, my parents looked out the window and saw me and my friend, Nate Wright, hauling a harp up our hill in a wagon. I’m not the best player, but I’ve been teaching myself with things I found on the internet and from books. I’m lucky because it’s really hard to sound bad on a harp. I’m so glad I picked it up.
Olivia: Do you see yourself pursuing music as a career in the future?
Jacob: Yes, right now I’m looking at small liberal arts colleges with music programs.
Olivia: Are there any that stand out to you at this point?
Jacob: My top choice is this place in Appleton, Wisconsin called Lawrence University. I’m visiting there soon. It’s going to be a great time.
Olivia: What is the biggest draw for you at that school?
Jacob: The music culture. It’s not completely a music school; no one has to do music 100% of the time; you can still have fun, but there definitely is an emphasis on it. Over 50% of the people there are official involved in some sort of music. When I go, I’ll be visiting the Lawrence Fiddle Club.
Olivia: I know you play harp, but around school you’re more well known for playing recorder in the hallways. When did that start?
Jacob: I’ve always really liked the instrument. I picked it up because I needed something to play for a LARP (live action role play) event. I started playing it, then I figured out I really liked playing it. Also it seemed to make people happy. I kept playing once I discovered Irish music, Scottish music, and Breton music, leading me to realize I love it all to bits.
Olivia: It seems like since your recorder is so portable, you’ll play anywhere. Where’s the craziest place you’ve played?
Jacob: Oh, this is a really good story. I was just coming back from this event called “Pipes in the Valley”, which was substantially lamer than it was cracked up to be. It was just a bunch of bagpipe enthusiasts gathering around and listening to people playing really bad covers of electric pipe band songs. It was so lame that my dad found another pub, and we went there instead. I walked in, and I was wearing a checkered vest. I had two little tin whistles in my belt. Someone pointed them out and said, “Oh, you were at pipes in the valley,” and I said, “Yes! yes, I was.” I got into a place where people were asking, “Can you play something?” I said,“Yeah, of course.” There was this girls’ soccer team that had just come off of a game. I think they’d won, and they were really hyped, so when they heard me play, they started clapping and cheering. Someone even tried to step dance. Eventually, I was asked to leave the restaurant to thunderous applause, which I did. That evening was the source of my motto: Why just leave anywhere when you could be politely asked to leave instead.
Olivia: You’re so outgoing, Jacob. To me, it seems all your charisma definitely makes you a good candidate for “most likely to take over the world”. Why do you think you won that?
Jacob: I think it’s because they put the people they don’t know what to do with in that category. I’m kind of surprised; I don’t see myself taking over the world exactly, but I can see myself in a position of that flavor.