AHS to Introduce a Senior Lounge

By Eliza McKissick

Coming soon to Arlington High School is a lounge dedicated solely to seniors. This lounge will be located in one of the classrooms that is currently being used for community education and student groups. Seniors will be encouraged to go to the lounge during their directed studies, instead of crowding the cafeteria. Administration has been working hard to discourage students from loitering in the cafe, and a senior lounge may be the solution. Once the lounge is completed, it will be an environment where senior students want to spend time. Student council representative, Hikaru Koga, says that the lounge will be decorated with “murals painted by the art department, bean bags, coffee tables, string lights, and tapestries”. The senior lounge is to be seen as a perk of being a senior at Arlington High School.

While the lounge is still in the preliminary stages of planning, it has certainly faced a number of setbacks. Few have concerns with the logistics involved in running a student lounge. Jessie Cali, a junior at Arlington High School worries that “creating a senior lounge when the entire building is to be redone soon seems a bit pointless”. Junior Isabella Scopetski agrees; she suggested “make[ing] an even better, more thought out lounge in the new building”. Their concerns are shared by many; Arlington High art teacher, Mr. Moore, fears that the lounge will be prone to abuse from students. Junior Sammy Richardson agrees, she fears that the space “could get trashed, and [turn into] a really sleazy area”. For this reason, administration is looking into getting a monitor assigned to the classroom in order to prevent such action. In addition to the problem of students misusing the space, the classroom itself is in a state of despair. The doors need repair, and there is currently furniture being stored in the classroom that has proved difficult to remove. Turning this space into a senior lounge will be a challenging task, however, it is one that the Arlington High student government and administration have eagerly taken on.

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Students Participate in Intergenerational Book Club

By Ellie Crowley

In recent weeks posters for the Intergenerational Book Club have branded the windows, doors and walls of AHS in a successful attempt to raise the club’s profile. The club aims to “cherish [their] common interests of books” by “relating personal experiences” and “discussing [their] opinions” on the novels they read, according to junior Carlos Abreu. Abreu originally wanted to start his own book club, but learned of the IBC and immediately joined. He praises the originality of the intergenerational aspect of the club, as “club members pass an inclusive environment down to anybody that wants to join,” not solely students of Arlington High School, but additionally members of the Arlington community.

The IBC takes pride in creating a relaxing environment that the community can experience. The club was founded in 2013 by AHS students and town social worker Marci Shapiro. It was created to “connect two different groups in the Arlington community that have historically had very little interaction with each other,” teenagers and seniors, according to sophomore Adam Forbes. However, the club ended when the students running the IBC graduated. Fortunately, Forbes is Marci Shapiro’s neighbor. Shapiro asked Forbes if he would be interested in restarting the club, to which he enthusiastically obliged.

The club believes reading is critical “to clean the mind” and to serve as a reminder “that self care is really important for us to live long healthy lives.” Abreu’s experience entirely reflects the club’s goals, as “the first day [he] joined it gave [him] an immense feeling of inclusion, which impacted [him] as a person.”

Books read recently by the club include Boys In the Boat by Daniel James Brown, Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson, and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, a very diverse selection of novels that appeals to all audiences. The IBC “hopes new folks will be willing to just try out one meeting,” which take place once a month in the teachers conference room at 2:45 after school. If you’re looking for a means of relaxation and want to expand your community in Arlington, this is the club for you!

AHS Hosts Prom Dress Drive

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By Jessie Cali

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.

Arlington Students Represented in Lexington Art Exhibit

 

 

By Chloe Jackson

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.”

February Italy/Switzerland Trip Nears

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By Lauren Bain

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 mkitchen@arlington.k12.ma.us or sdagostino@arlington.k12.ma.us.

AHS Takes a Mental Health Day

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By: Isabella Scopetski

Arlington High is taking a Mental Health Day on December 13th from 8 am until noon. Students will get the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops that are geared towards lowering stress and learning new ways to care for the mind and body.

This year’s Wellness Day is coordinated by Andrea Razi, AHS Intervention Coordinator and Social Worker, Stacy Kitsis (Librarian), and Josh Corlew (Principal Intern). Razi mentioned that her team has received “great support from [AHS] administration and all staff”, recounting that ever since she has come to AHS, the administration “has been very supportive of mental health” and willing to aid in awareness programming. The goal of the project, as described in the Wellness Brochure, is to “increase awareness and decrease stigma associated with mental health struggles” as well as to increase “self-care and wellness skills” while taking a break from the usual routine. The coordinators hope the program will “display the importance of overall wellness and balance in our lives as both youth and adults”.

Wellness Day was founded by Razi during her first year working at Arlington High. The program was launched as a response to an encounter Razi had with an AHS senior who admitted that she did not know there were social workers at Arlington High, much less where they could be found. Razi “felt badly and wanted to reach out to the whole AHS student body” making everyone aware of the support systems they have at school. “We have a lot of supporters here and I wanted to spread the word” added Razi. And she hoped that through Wellness Day, she could additionally “decrease the stigma associated with struggling with emotional problems”. Even after the first Mental Health Day AHS hosted, Razi noticed that “more and more students came for help or to refer a friend”; a response revealing the immediate positive impact the day had on the student body.

Wellness Day is a way for teachers, staff, outside organizations, and caring adults to show their support for the students of AHS. Although teenagers may not readily regard their teachers as particularly compassionate, supportive, or understanding people, Wellness Day and the massive amount of efforts put forth by nearly the entire staff at Arlington High (along with outside organizations such as McLean Hospital, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Families for Depression Awareness, Samaritans, Start Strong Initiative, Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition, Arlington Youth Counseling Center) show just how much teachers care about the health and wellbeing of their students.

During the mental health seminars and workshops, Razi thinks that “students can expect to relax and learn some new ways to care for themselves and take a break from their busy lives”.  Participants “will hear from some regular people” Razi adds “who have struggled with mental health issues and sought support” which will spread awareness in the AHS community on the topic of mental health.

 

AHS Opens Food Closet

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By: Grace Walters

Sponsored by the local food aid organization Arlington EATS, AHS now has a fully stocked food closet in which students can find “teenager approved,” fulfilling snacks and food bags. The closet is located in the nurse’s office near the main lobby and is available during all hours of the school day, including after school. Additionally, students are welcome to bring food bags home over the weekend if need be.

There is arguably nothing more important for adolescents than a well-scheduled and balanced diet—both before and after an arduous day of school—in order to perform well academically. “I definitely need a substantial amount of food to perform the way I do, or to at least get me through the day,” says sophomore Emily Narinsky, “especially for playing sports.”

The idea of a food assistance system at the high school was first brought to administrators’ attention by Arlington EATS, a town-wide volunteer organization whose main focus is to assure that no child is hungry in Arlington and other neighboring communities. For years Arlington EATS has been providing and sustaining a snack supply at each of the public elementary schools and middle school. In doing so, students of all financial backgrounds are able to access food without embarrassment or discomfort—further aiding the goal of dissolving the stigma around the need for food.

While Arlington High School has offered snacks to students in need during the day for some time, the idea of a substantial, accessible food supply was only recently deemed a must-have. The food closet at AHS is more capacious than those at the elementary schools due to students’ busy schedules; balancing extracurricular, jobs, homework, and tutoring is burdensome and older students are thus in greater need of food to sustain them. It is ensured by the nurse staff that the food closet caters to all students through the grab-and-go food bags. “Students are so mobile at this age, what with sports and after school jobs— ” says school nurse Sarah Lee, “it’s important that kids are being fed at home as well as in school.”  

Students at AHS generally agree that they prefer food that is satisfying in taste—i.e. may lack some nutritional value—over food that is whole wheat and low in fat. Luckily the food closet satisfies the average teenage pallet, meaning that its contents are both nourishing as well as appetizing. The supply includes Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Chef Boyardee, Campbell Soup, spaghetti condiments, and various other products.

“The important thing to remember about the food closet,” says Lee, “is that it’s open to everybody, regardless of whether you’re food insecure or simply just need a quick snack.” The nurse staff does not gate check the food closet nor do they discriminate against or alienate students who seek it out. Whether you need a light snack, or ingredients for tonight’s dinner, the AHS food closet is there for you.

 

Witches In Arlington Post-Halloween

By Lauren Bain

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The Crucible (1368)
Photo credit John Soares

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.

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.