Student Activism at AHS

 

By Ellie Crowley

Since the presidential election of Donald Trump in 2016, the nation has been fraught with vast political division. This division has ignited a flame within the majority of citizens to exercise their right to freedom of speech in both support and protest of actions taken by the president. However, the controversial policies have also inspired a large majority of America’s youth to take a stand and make their adolescent voices heard. This past year, the AHS student body has embodied this rise of youth protest and created a new culture of student activism in the school’s community.

At the beginning of the school year, the community participated in the Unity Project. Drama teacher Michael Byrne first discovered the project on Facebook and proposed that the school implement its own version. The Unity Project was initially created by two women in an attempt to combat the division in their community as a result of the election. Byrne, along with math teacher Joanna Begin, applied for a grant from the Arlington Education Foundation and received funding for the project by the Dawn Moses Memorial Grant.

The project consisted of 32 PVC pipes circled around one central pipe located on the front lawn. Each of the outer poles had an identifier on it, and students were invited to wrap pink yarn from the center pole around each pole that they identified with, with the end result being a woven ceiling around the circle, representing the unity of the AHS community and a celebration of diversity.

If students felt an identifier relevant to their lives was missing, they were invited to add it to a board on the side of the installation. The board was quickly filled, and students began to write their identifiers on the pavement in chalk. Throughout the week, teachers chose to take  their classes out to the project. Students visited it during their free periods, after school, and during advisories.

The installation was also used as a setting to hold events that further unified the AHS community. During the week, the Do Something club held a bake sale to raise money for hurricane relief after the then recent devastation in Puerto Rico. At the end of the week, a rainstorm caused the structure to collapse, but that did not stop the community from appreciating its message. The next day, the Madrigal Singers used the project as a stage for an after-school performance, and on the weekend the Arlington community showed its support for the installation by holding yoga and CrossFit classes next to the fallen project.

The Unity Project set a precedent of acceptance and support for the diversity of the AHS community. This environment provided students with the support they needed to exercise their voice in protests later in the year.

Since the death of 17 students in the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there has been a national uproar calling for gun control. That the majority of protests are student-led reveals the effect this tragedy has had on America’s youth.

The AHS student body was no different and participated in a protest on March 7th for gun control. The protest was organized by the Young Democrats and took place at schools in neighboring towns as well. Students who chose to participate left their first period classes at 8:17 am and gathered on the front lawn of the high school. Griffin Gould, president of the Young Democrats, led a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Following the moment of silence was a speech by senior Ian Miller, who read the lyrics to “You’re Missing” by Bruce Springsteen. The song outlines how it feels to lose a loved one, as the friends and families of the 17 students in Parkland have. Gould then invited the protesters to join the Young Democrats and participate in a state-wide protest outside of the state house on March 14th.

Despite the snow day on the date of the state house visit, 26 AHS students still gathered outside to rally for advocacy training and stronger gun control laws. Specifically, students were lobbying for the passing of bill H.3610 and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment. Bill H.3610 proposes temporarily preventing access to firearms for extremely dangerous or suicidal individuals. The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996, states that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Students gathered outside of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and began their march to the state house, participating in chants for gun control along the way. When students were settled in the state house, state representatives each spoke and expressed their stance on both bill H.3610 and the Dickey Amendment. Following the speeches, students were invited to meet with their representatives and ask for their support and votes in passing bill H.3610 and the repealment of the Dickey Amendment. The state house visit provided Massachusetts youth with a direct means of communication with their representatives and the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Following the shooting at their high school, the Parkland students created the movement dubbed #NeverAgain and organized a national walkout for gun control to take place at 10:00 am on March 14th. The AHS student body, having participated in their own walkout on March 7th, wanted to participate in the national walkout as well. The AHS Student Council met on February 27th with principal Dr. Janger to ensure that students who participated in the walkout would not receive disciplinary actions and to begin planning the logistics of the protest, as they anticipated a much larger group than that on March 7th.

So as not to interfere with the school’s Inclusion Day, Dr. Janger scheduled a free block at the time of the walkout so that students would not have to choose between their workshops and the walkout. As the date of the walkout approached, students began to prepare by making posters and signs in the art classroom after school, the largest of which was an orange sign that read “#NeverAgain” in large black lettering and was hung right outside of the front doors of the school on March 14th.

Unfortunately, due to the snow day the walkout was rescheduled for March 15th. Because the walkout was no longer scheduled for Inclusion Day, students now walked out of class instead of a free block. At 10:00 am on March 15th, AHS students filed out of class and gathered at the front of the school, as they had done the week before. The protest was composed of chants, speeches by various AHS students and faculty, and a moment of silence for the victims of the Parkland shooting. As the seventeen minutes came to a close, students returned to their classes and continued with their school day.

The AHS community held a diverse range of views about the walkout. Junior Harjot Singh stated, “The walkout is a complete waste of time, and I agree that some things need to change but having a bunch of kids walk out of school is not going to bring this change.”

History teacher Scott Matson agreed with Singh’s opinion, saying “I do not think [the walkouts] are going to be very effective. In my opinion, a majority of the students around the country don’t even realize what they are doing… they are just following what social media is telling them to do.” History teacher Glen Fant made sure that his students recognized the significance of their actions by giving those who walked out lower participation grades for an in-class assignment that day. Fant explained that “I told the class that I was doing so because I didn’t want to cheapen an act of civil disobedience by making it completely free from consequence.” He continued to reflect on acts of civil disobedience by Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau, explaining that their peaceful protests were condemned but that it gave their purpose more strength and meaning. Still, many AHS students and faculty did choose to participate in the walkout. Junior Isa Dray, an organizer of the walkout on March 15th, explains that “I think it is really important that we have stricter background checks, raise the legal age for gun purchase to 21 and repeal the Dickey Amendment.” Freshman Milo Kiely-Song explained that he “decided to walk out because [he] absolutely believe[s] that stricter gun regulations are necessary to make our country and our schools safer.” Though not all of AHS participated in the walkout, those who chose to not partake in the event still respected those who did—yet another representation of the inclusive and unified environment at the high school. Participating students proved to the nation that their voices deserved to be heard and that they will not rest until stronger gun control is enacted.

More recently, students at AHS have responded to a major incident of vandalism at the school. On the night of Tuesday May 2nd, a group of young males broke into the school and shattered windows, smashed art display cases, discharged fire extinguishers, destroyed cafeteria tables, and smeared various condiments around school property. Additionally, the intruders spray-painted three messages of hate on the outside wall of the school, consisting of two homophobic slurs and a swastika on a trash barrel.

Many students were surprised that such hate was present in a community they thought was safe and welcoming. The school first responded to the incident by holding an assembly organized by the Junior Class Council, in which all student leaders stood as a unified wall in front of the rest of the student body. Dr. Janger, as well as junior class officers, condemned the acts of vandalism but inspired the student body to stand up for the school, to foster what the community wants: a culture of positivity and inclusivity. Following the assembly, students were invited to write positive messages in chalk on the front of the school, such as “Hate has no home here” and “You are loved.”

Members of the senior class, which the majority of vandals belonged to, were disappointed with the actions that would now shape their legacy at the school, and wanted to give back to the community. Senior Olivia Weiss organized a GoFundMe page to raise money to restore the damage inflicted by the vandalism. Dr. Janger, in a recent email, explained that he will be meeting with members of the senior class to discuss the best use for the funds in order to “repair the harm to our community and restore our sense of safety and unity.” Additionally, senior Ian Miller spoke on behalf of the senior class at the school-wide assembly about vandalism, and expressed their disapproval of the event and disappointment in those who vandalized. The unified backlash by nearly all AHS students against the vandalism exemplifies the activist voice that students have found in the past year.

The inclusive and united environment that the school has worked to establish this year has made students comfortable with expressing their political views and has created an activist culture in the student body.

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AHS Responds to Recent Hate Crimes

By Claire Kitzmiller & Isabella Scopetski

On the night of Tuesday May 2nd, a group of young males broke into Arlington High and vandalized the school. Their actions consisted of breaking windows, smashing art show display cases, discharging fire extinguishers, breaking tables and smearing various “items” around school property. Additionally, the intruders spray painted three messages of hate on the outside wall of the school, consisting of two homophobic slurs and a swastika on a trash barrel. This detailed information was released to the student body by the end of the day on May 3rd in an email from Principal Dr. Janger.

The administration and the junior class council spent the day on Wednesday planning a response to the hate crimes. During the last period of the day, an assembly was held for all students and staff in the building. The assembly began with a speech from Dr. Janger who condemned the vandalism and reminded his students of how AHS fosters inclusiveness and positivity at its core.

“This vandalism is an attack on our entire community”, announced Janger, “hate speech and vandalism are the opposite of everything we stand for at AHS”. Further in his letter, Janger expressed his concern for the “students who feel particularly targeted by these symbols and words” and his sadness for the “vandals who feel a need to express hate in [the AHS] community”.

Throughout his message, Janger commented on the continual dedication AHS as a community has to “creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive community” which, he noted, “requires ongoing work, [but] Arlington High School is in a good place and moving in the right direction”. However, when events such as this extreme case of vandalism occurs, many wonder who these individuals are, and others ask themselves, how could these people be a part of my own community? It is disturbing and puzzling to many students that members of their own school, or even their own classmates, would display such violence for seemingly no reason at all.

During the grade-wide assembly, members of the junior class student government spoke to their peers, each reading a speech they had prepared during school that day in light of the assembly.

Junior Class President Neil Tracey spoke specifically about the “150 years of legacy to look at” when events shake the AHS community. “We need to talk about the good work that we do” advised Tracey, “because we are defined by that good work and not by the hateful actions of a few individuals”.

Junior Class Vice President Devin Wright responded to the events by saying “The one thing we should all have in common is wanting to make our school a safe and welcoming place for all who attended it”. “We are all just people trying to live our lives with the respect and safety that everyone deserves”, she added.

After the assembly, students and staff were invited to draw welcoming and uplifting chalk messages on the front of the building. Messages include, “Hate has not home here” and “You are loved.”

Many community members were surprised to see such hate in the community but many students feel the hatred expressed by vandalism in school everyday. One junior at AHS believes the vandalism is “just reflexive of how a lot of people think in our school but don’t usually act on.” It is upsetting to many students that the administration only takes action against the ever present hatred in the school, when it becomes visible to everyone.

After the vandalism, students and staff were forced to take a closer look at a problem that has been hidden to many. Biology teacher, Shannon Knuth said, “I think there’s a bigger problem here than what I really understood about.” Many students and staff who are not directly affected by the hatred at AHS, feel the same sentiment.

While the administration did have a quick and effective response to the vandalism at AHS, many community members recognize that the Arlington High School still has a long way to go.

Arlington’s Fourth Scoopermania: AHS Students Scoop for a Cure!

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Photo by Wicked Local

By Connor Rempe

The members of Arlington High School’s Scoops Club are planning this years’ annual Scoopermania event. Scoopermania is a nationwide fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund, an organization that supports research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Hosted on the lawn of the Cyrus E. Dallin Museum in Arlington Center, Scoopermania brings the community together over a sweet treat: ice cream! For just five dollars, customers get unlimited ice cream with toppings. This year, for the first time, local bands will even be performing. In the past three years, the event has seen huge success, raising over $10,000 towards cancer research. The organizers of the event are AHS students who reach out to the community for all aspects of the fundraiser. Local ice cream stores provide all of the ice cream, and many other businesses donate materials, as well as monetary support, for renting equipment.

The president of the club, Sagar Rastogi, sums up Scoopermania as “a great event for families and friends that brings the community together over a few scoops of ice cream, while also raising money for a great cause.” This year’s Scoopermania will be hosted on Saturday, May 19th from 1 to 5 PM. It’s a great opportunity to eat some ice cream, listen to music, and, most importantly, fight against cancer.

 

AHS Compost

By Jessie Cali

Arlington High School is implementing a new pilot composting program in the school cafeteria. Every Friday, AHS students will have the option to discard their food scraps, napkins, compostable trays, paper plates, and paper food boats into collection toters lined with compostable bags in the cafeteria. Black Earth Compost, a compost collection service, will then process and distribute the contents to local farms.

During the pilot period, the Arlington Department of Public Works will cover the cost of the collection through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Maya Pockrose, a junior at Arlington High School, attended a semester school program in Maine this past fall where she was inspired to bring sustainable practices such as composting to AHS.

When describing her experience at the semester school, Pockrose said, “By harvesting and then eating much of the food we ate, then helping to compost it on site, we were able to clearly see the process and the nutrient cycle and how food waste could be used beneficially. No food scraps were wasted there, and when I returned to AHS I wanted to bring with me that same spirit of natural resource conservation and environmental awareness.”

Pockrose spearheaded the initiative, sending a proposal to Arlington sustainability coordinator Rachel Oliveri along with the AHS administration.

“Student participation in the pilot is critical to its success,” Oliveri said on the new program,  “Food waste is a concerning global issue. The US wastes about 126 billion pounds of food per year. In Arlington, our food waste goes to an incinerator to be burned. In other parts of the country, food waste sits in landfills. Both release greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. Composting is a much better option, as the food scraps and paper trays combine and biodegrade into a nutrient-rich soil supplement that supports new plant and tree growth.”


Six of the other Arlington Public Schools (Bishop, Brackett, Dallin, Peirce, Stratton, and Thompson), also have compost buckets in their cafeterias.

The goal of this program is “not only to improve our sustainability as a school but also to raise awareness about the environmental issues we are facing and how we can actually help,” Pockrose added, “Composting is an easy, attainable way to ensure that the nutrients in food waste go back into the earth instead of into landfills.”

 

16 Year-Olds are Ready to Vote…So Why are We Waiting?

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By Connor Rempe

On March 15th, much of the student population walked out of Arlington High School and stood in front of the main doors to protest our country’s current gun control regulations. Student leaders made speeches and presented statistics in an attempt to grab the attention of politicians across the country. However, there was one speech in particular that stood out. Freshman Genevieve Baldwin used her time at the podium to warn this country’s leaders that our time is coming. Soon we will be able to vote and it is clear that our generation has a strong and powerful voice. She said that we had always been told by our parents that “someday you’ll be old enough” and that now our “someday was coming.” While this message might be inspiring, I could only think one thing while listening to it: “Why wait for someday? Why can’t someday be now?” We were told “someday” as kids, but if there is one thing I am certain of it is that the people on the steps of the high school that day were not children in the traditional sense. We were engaged in the democratic process more than most adults and ready to make a change. The leadership of youth in today’s America has proven that teens shouldn’t be considered apathetic children but rather a driving force in shaping the future. Furthermore, in order to allow teens to influence the laws and lawmakers that very much influence them, the legal voting age ought to be lowered to 16 years old.

The debate over voting age has pervaded U.S. history as early as 1942 and most notably during the Vietnam War.  During WWII, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt lowered the minimum draft age from 21 to 18, and while at the time voting ages were decided by states, across the board the legal age to vote was 21. 18-year-olds were conscripted without any say in the process of their government. “Old enough to fight, Old enough to Vote” became a slogan for the fight for voting rights and in 1942 Georgia lowered the minimum age to vote in state and local elections to 18. Many states followed suit. Congress, however, did not until similar circumstances arose in the Vietnam war and moved them to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, the situation is similar; a group of empowered, young people want a say in the important decisions that affect their lives.

Those who oppose lowering the minimum voting age often question why 16-year-olds deserve to be given the vote. David Davenport of Forbes feels that until 16-year-olds pay taxes or can be asked to participate in the military, they should not be able to dictate the actions of those who do. Additionally, Davenport says, support for lowering the age in the government by senators such as Nancy Pelosi is purely partisan. He says that until teens have to pay taxes, they are more frequently liberal-leaning. Ultimately, Davenport claims, until we have “evidence that we need or even want 16-year olds voting,” there is no reason to make a change.

While these concerns are valid, they rely on misconceptions about the motivations of teenagers. People, let alone teenagers, don’t vote for only themselves. Studies by the American Psychological Association show that by the age of 16 teens can gather and process information, as well as weigh pros and cons in low-pressure situations, such as voting. Teens think about many different angles when making decisions, so the fact that they themselves don’t pay taxes doesn’t disqualify them from being able to vote based on what they think is best for the country and their families. Secondly, we want 16-year-olds voting because they have unique and educated opinions, which are always necessary for a good democracy. In order for that voice to be heard to its fullest extent, the voting age ought to be lowered.

Today’s youth have demonstrated that they are ready and willing to participate in the democratic process. In order for their voice to not only be heard but also affect real change, they need to be given the most powerful tool in our government today: the ability to vote.

 

 

Works Cited

Davenport, David. “No, We Shouldn’t Lower The Voting Age To 16.” Forbes, 25 May 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2016/05/25/no-we-shouldnt-lower-the-voting-age-to-16/#7e382a55531e. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

History.com Staff. “The 26th Amendment.” History.com, A+E Networks, 2010, http://www.history.com/topics/the-26th-amendment. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

Steinberg, Laurence. “Why We Should Lower the Voting Age to 16.” The New York Times, 2 Mar. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/opinion/sunday/voting-age-school-shootings.html. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

Model Congress Competes In Philadelphia

By Isaiah Donovan

On Thursday, March 22nd, club members from Arlington High School boarded a train to Philadelphia. The Model Congress convened with other chapters nationwide at the University of Pennsylvania, where schools from across the country were invited to participate in a model of the legislative process. There, students proposed bills of their own and debated for support in committees, before rolling the propositions out to full floor debates.

Most weeks, Model Congress meets in Room 306 during X Blocks on Tuesdays. In this time, they propose bills and practice their argumentative skills. These sessions are often held as preparation for the Philadelphia convention, but some members come every week just to debate. The club’s meetings were put to a much larger scale during their trip to UPenn. On arrival, participants were assigned into various committees, where they voted on which bills to move forward with. After multiple committee sessions in a day, a full session was held to decide on which bills to pass.

Model Congress members had previously prepared bills to suggest to their confederates. Zach Garrigus, a Model Congress member of three years “proposed a bill that would extend the presidential term limits from two terms to three terms.” Zach not only likes proposing his own bills, but also seeing the bills of others take shape. “There was a bill that made it easy for non-convicted criminals to serve in the military, which I thought was very cool.”

At face value, debating for hours may seem dull. However, the reality is much different.. “In all honesty, I started Model Congress because it would look good on my college resume, but it turned out to be a lot of fun.” says Patrick Gallagher, a junior who went on the trip. “It’s a rewarding experience, and you really get some insight into the legislative process. Plus, the campus is very fun to explore at UPenn.” Though the majority of those in attendance were from the Northeast, many students enjoy the chance to see like-minded peers from different parts of the country. Gallagher notes that he “had a great time discussing with the other committee members, even when arguing.”

Gallagher encourages all students who are interested in Congress, the government or debating in general to come by the Model Congress during one of their meetings. “It never hurts to try something new out,” says Gallagher, “and many people may find an affinity for it.”

Stewart Competes on National Frisbee Team

 

By Chloe Jackson

Arlington High senior Clara Stewart has recently been offered a position on the USA National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. She has played ultimate frisbee since seventh grade, where she joined a pick-up game at Thorndike Field in Arlington. As she grew to love the sport, Stewart joined the Ocelots in eighth grade at Ottoson Middle School, and carried on the legacy of the team into her years at high school. Stewart assisted in founding a co-ed ultimate frisbee team at Arlington High, and captained it for her tenth and eleventh grade seasons. She now has coordinated and founded a successful all women’s ultimate frisbee team for this coming spring sports season.

Stewart has played ultimate frisbee in a range of settings, whether it is pick up games, youth leagues, high school clubs, women’s regional club teams, or even the prestiged USA National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. To tryout for the National team, Stewart underwent a rigorous application process, which entails a preliminary application and tryout of fifty young women in North Carolina. A tryout on the East Coast and the West Coast was held, each of fifty young women, to determine the National team roster of twenty four players. Stewart, in addition to her friend Tessa Johnson of Lexington, Massachusetts, earned a position on the roster of this highly selective team.

Until the World Championship game and other tournaments, Stewart and her teammates are expected to maintain their shape and skills, and they will attend several multi-day or week long training sessions to prepare for games. Stewart will attend the the WJUC (World Juniors Ultimate Championships) in late August in Toronto, Canada with her team of twenty four young women. After over five years of pursuing ultimate frisbee and gaining the impressive title of National Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team Member, Stewart will continue her ultimate frisbee career as she begins college in the fall.

Stewart plays ultimate frisbee because of the “tight knit community, especially in Boston” where everyone is “supportive and helping each other.” These past few years have been only the beginning to Stewart’s successful career in the “fast-paced, difficult” (Stewart) sport of ultimate frisbee.

AHS Students Attend Semester Schools

By Claire Kitzmiller

Every year, juniors at Arlington High School have the option to spend half the year at a semester school. A semester school is a high school where a small group of students from all over the country come to study for one semester. Few students take advantage of the unique opportunity, but those who do find the experience unforgettable.

There are eleven schools that students can apply to all across the country. Some examples  include CITYterm in New York City, The Mountain School in Vermont, Chewonki on the coast of Maine, and The Island School in The Bahamas.

Students apply during January through March the year before they plan to attend and find out whether or not they have been selected at the end of March. The application process includes questions about students’ educational interests, personal interests, and reasons why they want to attend the school.

Several students at AHS attended different semester schools across the country during the fall of 2017. Maya Pockrose attended Chewonki on the Maine Coast, Clara Tully attended CITYterm in New York City, and Jessie Cali attended The High Mountain Institute in Colorado.

 

Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki

 

The Chewonki school is located in Wiscasset, Maine, on the coast. The school focuses on science, sustainability, and farm life. Students live in cabins heated by wood stoves with seven other people; each cabin does two weeks of farm chores, starting at 6:30 am each morning. Students also take part in work programs, field trips, wilderness trips, and cooking.

For field trips, students visit different environments while answering prompts in field journals. Twice a week, students also engage in work programs, which include helping the maintenance crew, working on the farm, writing for the blog, working in the kitchen, and pulling out invasive species on campus.

AHS junior Maya Pockrose attended Chewonki during the fall of 2017. Pockrose was able to take many classes that corresponded to AHS classes such as Pre-Calculus, Spanish, and A.P U.S. History, but Pockrose also got to take classes unique to Chewonki. For science she studied “Natural History of the Maine Coast.” For the course, Pockrose learned about species and ecosystems local to the Maine Coast with the opportunity to visit the unique environments on field trips.

During the weekends, Pockrose spent her time going on walks, playing music, spending time with friends, and sometimes cooking dinner. She also went on special trips including a five-day wilderness trip, 2-night solo, and an outdoor leadership weekend.

Pockrose decided to apply to Chewonki because “the community, setting, and academics really appealed to [her].” Pockrose says, “the experience was truly life-changing and it’s a great opportunity.”

 

The High Mountain Institute

 

The High Mountain Institute is located in the Rocky Mountains in Leadville, Colorado. Students focus on leadership and sustainability while being immersed in the unique cultures around them. Students lived in cabins, chopping their own wood for heat while engaging in hands-on learning. The students also go on two eighteen-day backpacking trips while continuing their classes on the canyons and mountain peaks.

AHS junior Jessie Cali studied at the High Mountain Institute in the fall of 2017. Cali took classes such as AP U.S. History and Pre-Calculus, but she also got to take unique classes including “Ethics of the Natural World.”

Cali was drawn to the school because of the time outdoors, backpacking trips and location. Through the program Cali states that “I learned how to advocate for myself and develop closer relationships with teachers, and [how to] become comfortable and confident being my true self,” giving her, “control over my academic, social, and emotional success.”

 

CITYterm

CITYterm is located in New York City, held at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, forty minutes from Grand Central Station. Students spend every other day in New York City, applying in-class learning to the diverse, urban setting. Students study an interdisciplinary curriculum, including classes about the Urban Environments of New York City. During classes, students design projects and address complex problems related to the city.

AHS junior Clara Tully attended CITYterm during the fall of 2017. Tully was drawn to the school because she has always been “fascinated by New York City” and heard incredible reviews about it. At the school, Tully learned how “to ask really great questions…[and] how to be an effective group member.” Tully’s favorite part of the experience was “the amazing friendships [she] formed with not only [her] peers but also the teachers.”

 

To find out more about semester schools, go to the website https://www.semesterschools.net/

Oscar Movies Review

By Eliza McKissick

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Oscar Winners

Best Picture: The Shape Of Water

My Final Order for “Best Picture” Films

  1. Call Me by Your Name
  2. Get Out
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Phantom Thread
  6. The Post
  7. Lady Bird
  8. Darkest Hour
  9. Shape of Water

 

Lady Bird:

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson  is a senior at a Catholic high school in Sacramento California. The film follows the outspoken Lady Bird as she navigates her way through friendships, relationships, family drama, and the pressures of being a teen.

  1. Storyline- 7
  2. Originality-2
  3. Acting- 9
  4. Realism/ accuracy- 10
  5. Resonance- 6
  6. Bonus: none

Total-  34/51… 67%

The overall plot of “Lady Bird” is far from original. There have been countless films released that touch on practically the same subject. That being said, what sets “Lady Bird” apart is the acting, and the accuracy of the relationships being portrayed. Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) have a somewhat destructive relationship, something that many teenage girls, and mothers alike can relate to. Both Ronan and Metcalf do a tremendous job dedicating themselves to these characters. I definitely enjoyed the film, and I believe “Lady Bird” deserved to be nominated; however, in my opinion, the lack of originality prevents it from being a serious contender for the award.

 

Call Me by Your Name:

Set in the summer of 1983 in a small town in northern Italy, the film follows Elio Perlman as he comes to terms with his sexuality. Elio falls in love with his fathers intern, Oliver, but spends much of his summer trying to repress these feelings.

  1. Storyline- 10
  2. Originality- 9
  3. Acting- 10
  4. Realism/ accuracy- 10
  5. Resonance- 9
  6. Bonus: soundtrack-1

Total- 49/51… 96%

“Call Me by Your Name” was spectacularly done; the acting was incredible, the storyline was amazing, and the relationships portrayed were heartwarming. Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver’s (Armie Hammer) romance was beautifully captured; both actors did a tremendous job. The romance between Elio and Oliver was not the only well developed relationship: Elio and his parents shared a moving connection. Their continuous love and support for Elio added to the films overall storyline. I would label “Call Me by Your Name” as most deserving to win the award for Best Picture.

 

Darkest Hour

Based on true events, “Darkest Hour” follows Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, through his decision of whether or not to negotiate peace deals with Nazi Germany. Churchill was forced to make this decision just days after accepting the role as Prime Minister; he had to do so while dealing with opposition from his own party, skepticism from the King, and civilians who were not yet ready to fight a war.  

  1. Storyline- 4
  2. Originality-9
  3. Acting-9
  4. Resonance- 1
  5. Realism/Accuray- 8
  6. Bonus: filming-1

Total: 32/51… 63%

Full disclosure: I am not a huge fan of war movies, so going into this, I was a bit biased. That being said, my biggest issue with “Darkest Hour” was its plot. Churchill’s (Gary Oldman) struggle over his decision to either negotiate a peace deal with Nazi Germany, or fight for Britain’s liberty, is interesting, but not enough so to stretch it out over 2 hours. I feel like I could have gotten the basic premise of the film in a 20 minute clip. However, Gary Oldman does a great job in his role, and the filming was excellent. “Darkest Hour” was docked a few points in the accuracy section because of the scene with Churchill on the train. With some quick research it became clear that that never actually happened. Overall, the film was impressive, but not my top choice.

 

Dunkirk

1940, Allied forces were trapped on Dunkirk beach by an encroaching German army. British and French civilian boats were brought to evacualte the soldiers, saving over 300,000 soldiers. The film spans between a few British soldiers fighting to get home, a boat with three British citizens sailing to Dunkirk, and a British Air Force pilot.

  1. Storyline-9
  2. Originality-9
  3. Acting-9
  4. Realism/Accuracy-10
  5. Resonance- 4
  6. Bonus: Soundtrack-1

Total: 42/51… 82%

Despite my general unenthusiastic attitude towards war movies, I genuinely enjoyed “Dunkirk”. The story is incredible, and the film does a great job capturing it. There is no real character development, but that could be a creative choice to show that in times of war one doesn’t really have the time to get to know their fellow soldiers. The soundtrack does an great job building up the suspense in a scene, and keeping the overall sense of nervousness present throughout the film. “Dunkirk” was not my favorite of the nominated movies, but it definitely deserved its nomination, and it was, altogether, an impactful film.

 

Get Out

Rose takes her boyfriend Chris upstate to meet her parents for the first time. Chris is anxious to meet them because he is black and they are white. Upon their arrival everything seems okay; Rose’s parents are doing their earnest best at welcoming Chris. Chris then begins to notice strange behavior from the families servants, who happen to be the only other black people on the farm. As the film progresses, the family’s motives appear to be more sinister than anticipated, and Chris decides it is time to “Get Out”.

  1. Storyline- 10
  2. Originality- 10
  3. Acting- 9
  4. Realism/ Accuracy- 7
  5. Resonance- 10
  6. Bonus: Content- 1

Total: 46/51… 90%

“Get Out” was spectacular. The filming was incredible, the blend of horror and political/racial satire produced a wonderfully unique film. What hurt “Get Out” in terms of my (possibly flawed) scoring system was the realism aspect. I decided to remain optimistic in my decision that the specifics of the plot would never happen. That being said, “Get Out” definitely made the audience think about racial injustice. The horror aspect of the film was not so much fear of a tangible person, but more a fear of the reality of racism, and of whites who are complicit in the exploitation of blacks. In the current political state that America lives in, this film was crucial. While “Get Out” did a tremendous job tackling major issues, I do not believe that it will win the award for best picture.

 

The Post

Katherine Graham, the first female publisher the Washington Post had seen, must decide whether or not to publish top-secret government files that expose the details of the Vietnam war, which the U.S. government’s  had previously kept secret. If the Post were to publish the leaked documents, they could be charged in federal court for Contempt. If the Post chooses not to publish they are abandoning the American ideal of “Freedom of the Press”. Graham must struggle with this decision while facing the doubt of many of her peers.

  1. Storyline-7
  2. Originality-7
  3. Acting-9
  4. Realism/Accuracy-10
  5. Resonance-3
  6. Bonus: none

Total: 36/51… 71%

The plot of “The Post” was fascinating. The film did a great job covering the events that transpired, and was definitely informative. Meryl Streep, who played Katherine Graham, did a fantastic job. However, there wasn’t anything that really set “The Post” aside from the other nominated films. I enjoyed it while I was watching, but didn’t think about the film once I had left the theatre. Overall, a decent film, but I do not believe it deserves to win the award for best picture.

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frustrated by the lack of action in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes purchases three billboards and platers a controversial message directed towards the chief of police, William Willoughby. By doing so, Mildred Hayes is waging war on her local police force. The film focuses on the grief of a mother mourning the loss of her brutally murdered daughter.

  1. Storyline- 10
  2. Originality- 9
  3. Acting- 10
  4. Realism/ Accuracy- 8
  5. Resonance- 6
  6. Bonus: Character development-1

Total: 44/51… 86%

The acting in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was outstanding. Frances McDormand, who played Mildred Hayes, gave an incredible performance. I appreciated the character development throughout the film. The audience was able to see Mildred working through her pain, Chief Willoughby coming to terms with his personal affairs, and Willoughby’s right-hand man, Officer Dixon, turn his life around. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” did a beautiful job blending the juxtaposition between grief, redemption, and humor. This film was one of my favorites out of the nominated, and I would not be completely surprised if it won best picture.

 

The Shape of Water

Set in Baltimore during the 1960’s, the film follows Elisa, a mute woman who works as an overnight cleaner in a military lab. During her shift, Elisa discovers a new “asset” that has been brought to the lab. Elisa and this creature form an intense bond, and the film focuses on the development of their relationship.

  1. Storyline- 4
  2. Originality- 10
  3. Acting- 9
  4. Realism/Accuracy- N/A
  5. Resonance- 2
  6. Bonus: none

Total: 25/ 41… 61%

“The Shape of Water” was very visually appealing; the effects were stunning. However, the film lacked any character development. On top of that, the film was boring. The ending was predictable, and the lack of character development allowed the audience to anticipate each characters next move. The romance between Elisa and the “Asset” seemed so forced, and was a bit disturbing. Overall, I was not a fan of the film, and I do not believe it deserves to win the award of best picture.

 

Phantom Thread

Set in 1950’s London, the film follows renowned couturier, Reynolds Woodcook. Reynolds and his sister, Cyril, work together to maintain a tight regime in their shared business, The House of Woodcook. Reynolds finds inspiration in the various women who come and go from the House of Woodcook. All of this changes when Reynolds becomes fixated on Alma, a strong willed waitress who quickly becomes his muse.

  1. Storyline- 9
  2. Originality- 7
  3. Acting- 8
  4. Realism/ Accuracy- 8
  5. Resonance- 5
  6. Bonus: visuals- 1

Total: 38/51… 75%

The storyline of “Phantom Thread” was quite compelling. Daniel Day-Lewis, who played Reynolds Woodcook, did a fantastic job in his portrayal of obsession. The entire movie is composed of microaggressions between Reynolds and Alma, each trying to establish their power over the other. Unfortunately, the film gets worse as it progresses. The constant struggle in Reynold and Alma’s relationship grows old quickly. The film never reaches a true climax, and the issues plaguing Reynold and Alma’s relationship are never fully resolved. For me, this made the ending particularly unsatisfying. Overall, the film was well done, but left some to be desired.

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.