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.

 

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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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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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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!

Arlington High School alumni reunite after 60 years

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Nancy Price
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Arlington High Alumni
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Arlington High Alumni

By: Isabella Scopetski

The Arlington High School classes of 1951, 1954, 1960, and 1967 recently had a reunion in the Villages in Florida of about 40-50 Arlington High alumni. The reunion was organized by Ms. Nancy Price, who was a proud member of the class of 1954 at Arlington High School. “I thought I was going to be the oldest,” she said.

Price grew up in Arlington and went to the Junior High West for middle school and the Locke School for primary education. She lived on Paul Revere Road and Newland Road during her childhood and took the trolley to the Arlington High School because there was no other public transportation.

During Price’s high school years, Raymond Morrill was principal. Teachers included: Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Dow, Mr. Charles Downs, Mrs. Forsyth, George Fusco, Mrs. Kelly, Mr. Kroll, Mrs. Manning, Mrs. Mathews, Mr. Petratrala, Ann Willard, Mr. Toner, and Mary Thompson. Price said she had “Frank Kotchin [for drivers ed]… and the yearbook was dedicated to Doc McCarthy [the track coach]”.

Many people who live in Arlington have lived here for generations.  Nancy Price said, “My mother and aunt graduated from Arlington High in 1930 and 1932.” After Price was born in the Walnut Street hospital, which she believes was just a house, her family built their life in Arlington Massachusetts. Price said, “My father owned a taxi cab business in Arlington Center by the drug store, and my Mother worked at the Regent Theater.”

During her junior year at AHS, Price was a “drum majorette” in the school marching band. She was the female leader of the band who lead the group with her twirling baton.

Price recalled, “Polio was bad in the 1950s and one of our friends came down with Polio.” She described him as an “iron lung”. Price could only visit her ill family friend if she “wore a long gown and didn’t stay too long”. The family friend recovered for a short time until the Polio returned, causing the friend to take his life.

Like many high schoolers, Price endured the troubles of her teenage years, while proudly attending and thriving at her high school. Price encourages the students at Arlington High School today to “enjoy your school; it is one of the best”. She adds, “Have fun, work hard, and go to college!”
“We cheer today the red and gray. We know our boys will shine,” says Price, recalling what once was the Arlington High school cheer.

Safe Zone stickers disappear

By: Claire Kitzmiller  

 

In early April, several teachers came into school and immediately noticed their safe zone stickers were gone. It appeared that someone had come in the nights before and scraped the stickers off of the walls and doors.

Most stickers were taken from outside of classrooms, but some were from the inside. The teachers’ main concern was not the damage to their property; it was the hateful statement that was being made.

Drama teacher, Michael Byrne, was very concerned because he believes, “It’s a simple but really clear statement that almost every teacher has made that their classroom is a safe zone.” He knows it is an important validation for students who are unsure.

The incident also worries Byrne because “it’s a statement to students and faculty that it’s not as safe as maybe we thought it was.” The school responded immediately and gave all teachers new stickers.

The GSA also held a discussion with the freshman class about the issue and safety through the school.

In an email sent to the AHS community, Dr Janger stated, “The administration realizes that the secret removal of safe zone stickers has caused many within the AHS community to be upset and concerned for their own and others safety and well-being.  This matter is being taken very seriously and that a thorough investigation by the  administration, the town and the Arlington Police Department is well under way.”

This has been a concerning time for many students and staff at AHS, but the administration is doing everything it can to make AHS a more inclusive and accepting school.

 

 

AHS students take a stand

 

DCCF4CC2-CDA9-4392-909B-2F88B5491B80By Maya Pockrose

The 45th United States Presidential Inauguration took place January 20, 2017. One day later, protesters flooded the streets of Washington, D.C. to participate in the Women’s March on Washington.

AHS sophomores Claire Kitzmiller and Lily Snyder DiCesare are among many students who attended women’s marches. AHS Junior Tyler Dyer attended the March, too – as well as Inauguration.

Dyer and his mother won two tickets to the Inauguration, hoping that Clinton or Sanders would take the win. However, the pair still opted to attend the Trump Inauguration because Dyer felt he “has as much right to be there as a Republican does” and acknowledges the historical nature of the event.

The experience was “interesting” for Dyer, who describes being somewhat “scared” at times. He wore an outfit displaying his dissent, a shirt with the (rather politically bold) phrase “I’m A Gay Russian,” featuring plenty of rainbow patterning, and a telltale pink hat.  He received “plenty of looks” from others at the event, but nonetheless enjoyed the experience, noting that it was “empowering to be there”. Other than these looks, Dyer reports that he did not receive any negative reactions.

For Dyer, the experience reminded him that “things do change,” that “you shouldn’t be afraid,” and that “if you disagree with somebody, you have every right to speak” your mind.

Dyer also attended the Women’s March the next day. He was motivated to attend because “women’s rights are very important”.

His experience at the March was “way more positive than Inauguration”. The march, by contrast, had a vibe of togetherness and positivity, which Dyer described as “quite empowering,” noting that the sheer amount of people in attendance was “extraordinary”.  He mentioned, also, that “cis people had…huge representation,” which “they have the right to,” while there was a lack of “trans inclusivity.” Overall, however, he notes that “there was a lot of LGBT acceptance.”

Claire Kitzmiller, sophomore, attended the Women’s March in D.C., as well. She, like Dyer, says she was hesitant to go at first, being “a little worried about what would happen” and prepared “in fear of pickpockets and violence” when she did decide to go. She decided to attend because she “started to see the effect Trump has had on so many people.” She says she “knew how important it was to go”.

The experience was “amazing” for Kitzmiller. As previously mentioned, Kitzmiller had prepared for the worst, but “got the opposite”. “If anyone even dropped something,” she recalls, “someone would pick it up for them.” The attendees were kind and all “came together for the same important cause.”

The march was a learning experience for Kitzmiller, as well. She says that “the only way to make a change is to forget our differences and petty problems and work together peacefully to fight for what we believe in”.

Lily Snyder DiCesare, also a sophomore, attended the march in D.C, also. She “felt motivated as a gay woman to defend [her] rights,” adding that “as a white person of privilege, [she] wanted to do what [she] could for those…less privileged” than herself. Snyder DiCesare “found the experience very empowering”.