Arlington High School’s Student Council is holding its second Prom Dress Drive on Thursday, February 15th in Old Hall from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
With spring approaching, many Arlington High School students have started searching for dresses to wear on prom night. Facebook pages where students can post pictures of their dresses have become filled with gowns and rompers varying in size and shape. But prom apparel, particularly dresses, can be pricey; many new dresses cost upwards of $300.
In order to help students save money while still finding the perfect dress, the Student Council created the Prom Dress Drive. A variety of new and gently used dresses have been donated to the event, mainly by AHS alumni and upperclassmen.
Devin Wright, junior class vice president and key organizer in the event, stated “We want to give people a local, cheap event for prom dresses,” and, referring to the difficulty and expense of dress shopping, said “It saves time and money for everyone.”
The event took place for the first time last year, but Wright believes that “this year it will be an even bigger success,” because it is a more established event, and the student council has made an intense effort to advertise the event, posting details on flyers around the school and utilizing social media (particularly Facebook) to spread the word.
Dress prices range from $15 to $70. Proceeds from the event go to the student council budget. This money is then used to fund student government events and trips.
The event may take place again if it is successful. “March 6th is a possible second date depending on how this first one goes,” says Laura Kirchner, Student Council President.
Junior Prom takes place on Friday, April 27th, and Senior Prom takes place on Thursday, May 24th.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Junior Cole Fanning of “Over Easy” [Courtesy of Grace Walters]
Justin Bourassa of “Educated Guests” [Courtesy of Devin Wright]
Members of “Error 404” [Courtesy of Devin Wright]
(Left) Juniors Roger Buckley and (right) Colle Fanning of “Over Easy” [Courtesy of Grace Walters]
On Saturday, Jan. 27, Arlington High School’s S.T.A.N.D club hosted the 12th annual Battle of The Bands at the Regent Theatre in Arlington.
Stereolith, Over Easy, Error 404 and Loudstreet battled it out for a title and cash prize. Each group rocked the house with hit songs like “24k Magic“ by Bruno Mars, played by Error 404, and “Today” by The Smashing Pumpkins, played by Over Easy.
The event lasted for roughly two hours, ending with a performance by a group of Arlington High School teachers, Social Studies teacher Glen Fant, English teacher Lianna Bessette, English teacher Justin Bourassa, English teacher Paul McKnight and English teacher Tim Martin, known as The Educated Guests.
Thanks to ACMi, every performance was video-recorded from various angles and by numerous camerapeople.
Getting to the battle
S.T.A.N.D club advisor Mr. McKnight held a meeting in early November of last year in which students inquired about the audition and selection process for bands who wished to compete in the event. Each band was required to send a demo tape featuring three songs no later than Nov. 18.
The band Over Easy described a demanding process for preparing for the show. Practice hours conflicted with the band members’ school schedules and the availability of a practice location was not always guaranteed.
“It’s tough, but it’s worth it,” says Over Easy’s guitarist and lead vocalist, Junior Cole Fanning.
“We’re not trying to win, we’re just trying to have fun,” Fanning added.
Fundraising for a cause
Juniors Devin Wright and Neil Tracey emceed the event. They introduced each band, adding a mixture of humor and witty banter between acts. Proceeds from the event were donated to Save the Children, a foundation whose goal is to aid children across the globe in areas such as education, hunger and the accessibility of resources.
Additionally, raffle tickets offered up prizes from restaurants and local businesses such as Menotomy Grill & Tavern and a variety of assorted baskets with themes like “Date Night” and “Treat Yourself.”
A title and cash prize were awarded to two groups: the Judges’ Choice, who received $50, and the Audience Choice, who received $100.
The judging panel consisted of the five members of The Educated Guests who deliberated while the remaining attendees were able to cast digital votes.
And the winner is…
Each band played a maximum of eight songs, most of which were covers. However, band Error 404 surprised the audience with an original song entitled “Don’t Mess Around.”
As the show progressed, an increasing number of audience members gathered at the edge of the stage where they chanted, danced, waved cellphone lights in the air, and sang along.
The crowd was especially fervent when the band of teachers, The Educated Guests, performed “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk The Moon.
Junior Ben Clossey, the band’s drummer, said the atmosphere of the show was “very inclusive; it’s more about the music and less about who wins.”
At the end of the show, Wright and Tracey announced that the band Error 404—consisting of Juniors Sam Goldstein, Julian Carpenter, Quinn Connell, Joey Dalton, and Olivia Carpenter—won both titles.
On December 12th, 2017 there was a Global Goods Fair in the main lobby during all three lunches and after school. Twice a year Jacquie Rodgers, a retired teacher from Maynard, comes to Arlington High, bringing jewelry and other items collected from her travels around the world to sell, donating 100% of all proceeds globally and locally.
Rodgers is the founder of Global Goods; a non-profit organization currently working with locals in Guatemala, Uganda and Indonesia. Rodgers visits these places “most every year along with other countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, Thailand and Peru”. After teaching in Maynard for 31 years, Rodgers decided to focus her energy on Global Goods full time.
“It was very easy to switch because I was always helping students and now I am just helping other individuals.” said Rodgers (now 70 years old).
Upon developing the fundraising aspect of global goods, “it had a twofold purpose” Rodgers said “One was to be able to help out locally and the second was to expose high school students to global issues and the diversity in the world.”
The organization is run by Rodgers and her husband, as well as volunteers and students, all of whom receive no income, making it a true non-profit. Rodgers said she “didn’t know anything about running a nonprofit foundation,” so she has been learning and adapting on the job.
Rodger’s commitment to helping others derives from her innate curiosity of the world, different cultures and foreign languages, which she has perpetuated since childhood. “I’ve been fortunate to have many foreign guests stay at my house and to travel to over 100 countries.” said Rodger .
Rodger hopes “to be able to keep self funding global goods for many years and somehow to keep it going forever”. She feels “very committed to [her] projects and in developing [the] global goods foundation.”
Rodgers attributes the success of her non-profit to the fact that “many people want to help others but don’t know how.” She said that “by buying items from Global Goods and hearing about the stories of the Artisans who make the goods, people know that they are helping.”
Rodgers “found that there are many people trying to make a difference in the world”. She thinks that “Students need to look around their own communities and maybe do a little research online to find places that need their help”; volunteer opportunities are not difficult to seek out. Every year she has at least one or two interns from her local high school to help out. Rodger believes that being open to volunteer positions in foundations local or global “will help them learn more about the world and themselves”
“I am a firm believer” said Rodger “that you need to go beyond your local area and explore other countries to really see what the world is about.” And to Rodger, “need” is a relative term. From her unique perspective “We have needs in the United States… But the need in other countries is so much more severe that you really [should] see it to believe it”.
“I think I have a keen sense of the inequities of the world” added Rodgers, “partly because of my travel and also because of some of my personal friends”. Rodgers stresses the importance of using the life we have to help make other people’s lives better, while in turn improving the quality of our own life. She considers her circumstances to be “very fortunate”, and “by seeing some of the inequities of the world with my own eyes” she added “ I think I’ve been inspired to help more than I would have if I was just staying in the US”.
To quote Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Rodgers believes Mandela’s statement best summarizes why she continues Global Goods.
“I have seen this in action and know that it may be slow, but it is so true” she said in reference to Mandela’s quote.
To get involved or for more questions about the Global Goods connection to AHS, contact AHS teacher Ms. Donohue who helps get clubs involved in helping Rodgers set up for Global Goods. Previously, the Dance Club connected with Global Goods and helped sell Goods while receiving 10% of all profits to fund their club.
To learn more about the mission of Globals Good and the travels of Jacquie Rodgers, you can visit: http://globalgoods.org/
Last Wednesday, the Arlington High School Speakers Club invited Sam D’agostino, founder and owner of the prominent D’Agastino’s Deli Franchise, to speak in front of the group about the process of starting his business from nothing and tips on how to become successful in that field.
D’Agostino expressed to the group the importance of having energy, taking risks, staying motivated, setting new goals, having discipline, practicing good habits, and establishing good relationships with the customers. One of the most interesting things that D’Agastino told the group was that debt is necessary and not really a bad thing when it comes to starting a business. It took him five years to pay off the man he originally bought the property of his first store from, nearly 50 years ago. When one student asked how they could take advantage of what they want to pursue early, D’Agastino replied with some advice for all of the students: “First find something you are passionate in. Get an internship in that general area just so you can get a feel of what it’s like. Most importantly, ask a lot of questions.”
Club President Winston Chen said, “It was a great discussion, we talked about everything we wanted to.” Chen explained, “Not every talk will be about business; for example we are looking into getting speakers to preach on other subjects such as college admissions, real estate, and really whatever the students want to hear advice on.” With the club’s first speaker being a great success, Chen hopes “more people see this opportunity and come to future talks.” Chen then went on to explain that “the type of people that we made this club for are those who are enthusiastic, curious, and want to better themselves for the future.”
On Saturday December 16 from 9:00am to 1:00pm, the Arlington High School class of 2020 will be holding a Winter Craft Festival for the greater Arlington community. The fair is open for kids up to age 10 and costs five dollars per person. There will be a variety of crafts and activities for the kids including, gingerbread houses, paper snowflakes, snow globes and mug warmers.
Sophomore Class President, Lauren Murphy said, “we knew we wanted to host an event for the greater Arlington community, beyond AHS.” The students officers were inspired by the annual Fall Carnival that is put on by the senior class.
Murphy says events like these are important because, “AHS is part of the larger Arlington community, and it is really rewarding to reach out and give back whenever we can.” The students are excited to spend time with little kids while putting on a fun event for them.
The Sophomore class council includes Lauren Murphy (President), Molly O’Toole (Treasurer), Dylan Fournier (Secretary), and Rob Marchant (Vice President). They are still looking for high school volunteers to run craft stations. Anyone interested can sign up at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090e4aa5aa29abfb6-winter.
Arlington High School’s Justin Bourassa auditioned and was accepted to participate in the hit reality TV show Jeopardy!. In addition to being a trivia genius, Bourassa is also an English teacher, and Track and Cross-Country coach. He traveled to Los Angeles during the first few days of school, September 5th and 6th, to film his episode of Jeopardy!. After many months of diligent studying and auditions, the air date for hisepisode is almost here. The students of Arlington High have waited several months to witness their beloved English teacher take the stage in the classic hit show.
On December 20th, 2017, at 7:30 pm, the Young Democrats Club will be hosting an official screening of Bourassa’s debut on Jeopardy!. Students, teachers and alumni can gather in Old Hall to celebrate the talents of Mr. Bourassa. Pizza will also be sold. At this same event, the Arlington Food Pantry will be collecting canned, non-perishable goods for the holiday season. The night is a combination of charity and trivia to make for one spectacular evening.
Although a significant publicity campaign for the event has embarked, all Arlington students and alumni are encouraged to attend and invite their friends. Due to Bourassa’s impressive reputation at Arlington High, as he is beloved by students, a large attendance is expected from current students as well as Arlington High alums, who will already be on their winter breaks from college. Do not forget to come support Mr. Bourassa as he participates in the competitive, nationwide broadcast of Jeopardy! on December 20th in Old Hall!
The Freshman class council has been planning their first project of the year. On Friday, December 8th, the Freshman class will be hosting an Open Mic Night from seven pm to nine pm in Old Hall. Tickets can be bought for 5 dollars at the door or at all three lunches at Arlington High School during the week leading up to the event.
The fee covers all food and entry costs, meaning that once a participant has paid to enter, they can have as much food as they wish. The Freshman class council has already secured a donation of ten pizzas from Andrina’s and plans to purchase five more. They are also in the process of acquiring a donation of snack foods from Stop and Shop. Students can sit on picnic blankets and watch the shows or participate themselves.
When talking about participants, Freshman Class President Lauren Bain noted “all you have to do is anything with a microphone.” Possible acts could be “singing, poetry, instrumental pieces, rapping, comedy.”, added Bain. The freshman student government hopes “It will be a very low key night and a lot of fun,” according to President Bain.
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.