There’s word spreading around that school time might change in the year 2021. I asked some students and teachers about what they think about the school start time starting later, here’s what some said….
Cassidy Nash (21’)
“If the school start times were pushed back I know that it would severely affect my classmates who have sports practice hours after school, but for me personally, it wouldn’t really affect me at all. I participate in soccer, indoor track and outdoor track which all take place right after school, so an hour push wouldn’t mess up my schedule too much except for giving me less time to procrastinate between school sports, club sports and sleep”.
“Some people have concerns that if the start time would be pushed back, they would just go to bed later and it would just be a continuous cycle of not getting enough sleep and complaining about it, but I don’t agree with that. I usually start my homework around seven or eight at night and go to sleep by eleven and just pay the price of getting seven hours of sleep in the morning. This new start time would really benefit my sleep for the better”.
“I think research on the positive and negative should first be examined. Focus on the academic benefits in each age group of students and include parents, teachers, and administrators and students views to determine the best decision for the students. I would be in favor of a later start in high school if the research showed that students who come to school later achieved higher scores on tests and raised their GPA averages.
The bottom line is whatever would be in the best interest of my students I would agree with”.
Jackie Molina (19’)
“I think the school should start later because some teenagers have to wake up at 5 a.m just to make it to school on time, especially the CGS (Center of Global Studies) students. That way with school starting later, the students will sleep more and have more energy when they get to school. It would make things easier even for parents that are dropping their kids off at school so early in the morning”.
“I think it’s a waste of time and resources, I think the typical teenager will stay up later and not get any quality sleep. There's a reason why High school has started so early for so long, because of traffic. I have to wake up really early to get here, to beat traffic and I'm not the only one who does that. If we get out later, what it will do is put us as teachers in the rush hour traffic to get home because at least half of our teacher live way north of Norwalk. So it is not good for the communists because if I can get out of here at 3, I can beat the traffic, but if I have to get out of here every day at 4 or every day, I'm going to have to be in the rush hour traffic.”
The waters that compose Connecticut's “Gold Coast” are renowned as one of the most captivating and enchanting bodies of water in the United States - and for good reason. The blue waves of the Long Island Sound have long enticed settlers and civilians alike, and this allure is one of the reasons that Fairfield County is the economic powerhouse that it is today.
There are few better ways to experience the Gold Coast than by boat. Fortunately, Norwalk’s own Sea Scout Ship 6 provides sailing and boating programs for high schoolers.
“We are a youth-led, off-shores sailing and seamanship program, for teens aged fourteen through (technically twenty one, but more like) eighteen,” says William “Owen” McClung (‘20), who serves as the boatswain (or, in his words, “technically the president”) of the organization. Ship 6 also provides overnight sailing excursions to areas such as Mystic, CT, Block Island, RI and Newport, RI, and participates in various competitive sailing races.
Simply experiencing Connecticut's coast isn’t the only reason to join this club, however. “It’s a good opportunity to learn to sail - you don’t have to know how to sail before joining - [and] it’s a great leadership opportunity. You learn a lot of life skills, and make a lot of friends. You get to go on a boat, too! It’s also good for finding jobs and your resume, to get to college and stuff like that,” explains Ship 6 member Matthew “Matt” Zeller (‘20).
Fortunately for opportunity seekers, Ship 6 is currently looking for additional members. “[Currently,] there are six,” affirms Zeller. “Our highest point was thirteen.” Unfortunately, the club was not aided by Principal Scott Hurwitz, despite Ship 6 being almost entirely comprised of Brien McMahon High School students.
“Basically, I asked Mr. Hurwitz if I could put flyers up, because we are having an Open House, and then, he was like, ‘I’d like to, but no, because you guys aren’t affiliated with the school.’ And I was like, ‘I get it, yeah.’ If he lets us put up our stuff, then he has to let anyone put up their stuff. So I get it - I have no problem with his decision there,” clarifies McClung.
McClung and Zeller ask you to attend the Ship 6 Open House on Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. at Saint Philip Church at 25 France Street in Norwalk, CT. Additional information about the club will be provided at the event, or for those unable to attend, on Ship 6’s website.
Many people would like to know how to fix a car, but have no clue on how to do so. Brien McMahon High School will soon have a mechanic program that will allow high school students to learn the basics on how to get a car running again.
In order to begin the process of this program, Scott Hurwitz, McMahon principal, is finding ways to stay organized so students can understand the steps as they go. Since McMahon has no space for a car inside, nor does it have the materials that are needed, Black Bridge Motors, an auto shop, has agreed to take 15 students after school who will take a bus over to Black Bridge shop and be taught maintenance.
According to Hurwitz, 50 students want to get involved in the program, but because there isn't enough room in the shop to fit all of the students, he wants to rearrange field trips to mechanic shops and set up internships. Scott Gilbert, from Black Bridge Motors, has an idea that the students can raise money to buy a used car that doesn't run and let the kids work on it to make it work. That way, they can have the chance to bring the car to auto shows and promote the work that the students have done. Although ideas have been proposed, it is not likely that they will happen due to the rearrangements teachers are doing.
Edward Grillo, who is a physics teacher as well as the supervisor of the Robotics club, and William Pierce, Art teacher, and David Pascoe, the chief of ROTC, will all be supervising the program. They will be collaborating to create a guideline. “I believe cultivating programs such as this help broaden our school’s ability to provide meaningful and relevant real-world experiences for our students.” says Grillo.
Plenty of students are unsure of what they want to do with their life after high school. Many of those students are either doing poorly in their classes because they have no goal to accomplish or they don't have any motivation for themselves to get where they want to be. Hurwitz has proclaimed as: “What I want for them is to have an attempt to try to create a vision for their postsecondary life for students who are thinking they want to become a mechanic. Our idea is for the kids to spend half a day in school and the rest somewhere working with their hands.”
The majority of the students here at McMahon are book smart, they have good grades, they have their goal set, or they know what they need in order of accomplishing their goal. On the other hand, many students learn by doing things hands-on. “ I have a family member who was a horrible student in high school, and who ended up dropping out. He is now working on placing sprinklers in public spaces and makes over $100,000 a year. When he was in high school, he couldn't pass any math or science test, but now that all of the objectives are involved in something that he enjoys doing...he is now teaching new sprinkler fitters how to do this work,” says Hurwitz.
This program is useful for students who would rather fix their car themselves, instead of paying a mechanic. It can also give the students an opportunity to strive at school with the help of techniques from the shop.
Whenever I was asked if I was attending McMahon’s production of Mamma Mia, my punctual “yup” was always followed by an eager “which weekend are you seeing it?” Prior to investigating for this article, it was easy to reply with a naive “why does it matter?”
But it does, because despite Mamma Mia being McMahon’s only theatrical performance of the year, all four female lead characters are double casted, resulting in two incredibly different shows.
Double-casting is when two actors are both cast as the same role and take turns playing the role on alternating performances. Unlike an understudy, both people are able to perform the role regardless of the absence of one.
Handed an incredibly talented group of girls during auditions back in November, it was no question as to why Frank Arcari felt inclined to put together two completely different casts of female leads for this year’s big production of Mamma Mia. This is the sole reason the four female lead characters are double casted.
“I had a talented enough group of girls that I could literally pick two, three, even four casts if I wanted to. And they could all pull it off, but in different ways,” said Arcari.
Being a female heavy show, only the lead female characters are double casted, and they’re able to come together to bring their character to life; bouncing ideas of a scenes execution and working together reveals its benefits.
“You get ideas from each other…Like when we start blocking the scenes, we did it very differently but we’ll be like ‘Oh I like that’ー’I like that.’ And another time, I took one of Lauren’s dance moves and she took one of mine, and it worked out really well,” said Victoria Papadopoulos (‘21), who plays Sophie Sheridan alongside her double cast Lauren Kelly (‘21).
Under other circumstances, being a double cast for someone entails you help one other in a way no one else in the cast would be able to.
“For me, I missed the first two weeks of rehearsal cause I was at a study tour for CGS. So it was a relief that someone else was my part and could help teach me everything I missed,” said senior Olivia Lapine who plays Rosie alongside her double cast senior Anastacia Negron.
While being a blessing, a double cast also comes with its difficulties of an unsaid competitiveness and insecurities of being compared to one another.
When asked about some of these difficulties with her Rosie double cast Olivia Lapine, Negron responded with, “definitely competition and the idea that you wanna be better than your double cast.”
However, Arcari anticipated this. According to him, everyone except the Sophie and Donna's were unaware of which cast they were going to be apart of. As a result, the pairs of double casts needed to understand they had to perform to their best and that was the most important thing.
“They found out three weeks before the show. They couldn’t form up in teams, couldn’t be competitive to be in ‘this cast or that’. They just have to get along and learn from one another and perform their best,” says Arcari.
Regardless of their differences, it was important for each performer to understand that they were on that stage as a result of their love for theater, and less about being better than the other.
“It all works out once you come to terms with the idea that you are two different people and you play the role differently. We realized that we shouldn’t be competitive, but instead we should want to push each other to be the best,” continued Negron.
The Cast that opened last week on March 8 and 9 at 7:30, and will perform again on March 16 for the matinee at 3:00 includes…
The Cast that performed this past matinee March 9 at 3:00 and will continue on this upcoming weekend for performances on March 15 and 16 at 7:30 include…
“We do the shows so differently, like when you come it’s two completely different shows. It’s so exciting, and that’s one of my favorite parts of this show: nobody plays the part the same. Even the people who are single casted, they do it differently,” said Lauren Kelly.
If you’re on the edge of whether or not to see both casts, definitely go! With a different dynamic each time, you’re sure to have a blast every time!
“Sheep shove, sheep grunt, sheep don’t think to look up front,” proclaimed BMHS Principal Scott Hurwitz.
This intriguing statement was read on Friday, March 1, 2019, at Brookside Elementary School. Students from Brien McMahon High School’s Senior Adolescent Literature class, led by English teacher Dani Brown, trekked up (a largely unshoveled) Highland Avenue to Brookside, in order to partake in the district-wide “Read Across America” event.
This event entailed a high schooler, administrator, or district official reading a noted piece of children’s literature (including the works of Dr. Seuss) to a class of elementary schoolers from Brookside. Notable attendees included Hurwitz, Roton Middle School Principal Joseph Vellucci, Norwalk Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo, Anthony Allison of Norwalk ACTS and Janine Goss, Norwalk Director of Humanities.
“Today is a day that you can spotlight the great things that actually go on every day here,” says Brookside Principal Sandra Faioes. “So everyday here, we try to get kids excited about reading, everyday we try to have kids apply the skills that we are teaching them in different ways, so today is a culminating event that captures what we try to do here… literacy and promoting literacy is really at the heart of the school, and making reading exciting, just because we know how important being a good reader is, how it ties into being a good writer, and how it is that you rely on those skills when you start getting into complex content areas, when you go to high school.”
The walls and ceiling of the school were lined with colorful decorations. Inspirational posters depicting the likeness of the Cat in the Hat and other noted characters in children’s literature adorned the sides of the library. A copious amount of books were situated on the shelves of the room, while a unique group of students and adults mingled nearby. The atmosphere was cheery, jovial, and positive - which served in stark contrast to the bleak, overcast weather outside.
“I’m kinda happy. Its cool that I am a high school student coming here to read to kids, having a good environment with the children,” said McMahon reader Thaddeus Burrus (‘19).
Following a breakfast in the Brookside library for the readers, the elementary school students were funneled into an assembly with librarian Audra Good, who introduced the readers and PrideTime reporters to the school populace. Afterwards, she announced “Charlotte's Web” as this year’s “One Book for Brookside,” an annual event in which a selected book will be distributed for free to all students. The announcement was met with a very high level of joy and enthusiasm from the elementary schoolers.
“They are so excited, and having that with the One Book kickoff, they looked forward to that reveal today… it’s great,” said Principal Faioes. Roton Middle School Principal Vellucci was similarly impressed. “I just said to the secretary that it's so wonderful to see the kids be so excited about reading, and I’m really more used to the older kids. So it was great to come in and see the enthusiasm for reading.”
After the assembly, the guests were led to their assigned classroom, where they read their piece of literature. “It went really well, the kids enjoyed the book a lot. I think it was because [the book included] dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs were really colorful. They were excited to see pictures,” said Burrus.
Following his reading, Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo was pleased with the day’s events. “I don’t remember doing it when I was in elementary school, because we don’t celebrate enough in school… it’s good for kids to just have something different, different people speaking to them, reading to them. It’s something we celebrate in Norwalk and will continue to.”
Janine Goss, K-12 Director of Humanities within Norwalk Public Schools, thinks that Read Across America Day is an important event to put on. “It’s very rare that we as a district can all come together because we are such a large district. To come together for one purpose, in something that really matters, and this is something that we all have in common - reading is so important, it’s something that we all love, and that we can help to inspire all of our kids.”
The choir room was swarming with anxious students as they awaited their turn to audition in front of the Chambers or the Women’s Ensemble Choir.
Friday, February 22 was the beginning of week long auditions to determine next year’s choir placement.
The school requires at least one art credit; choir is a full year course that is able to fulfil that credit if singing is something you enjoy. You aren’t required more than year of choir to acquire your art credit, but for students who are looking to be apart of a more advanced level ensemble, these auditions are mandatory.
The four choirs in McMahon can be compared to a hierarchy in which: Chamber Choir and Women’s Ensemble are on the top tier as being the elite ensembles, advanced choir is in the middle, and freshman choir as being on the bottom and where most first year choir students are placed.
Those looking to climb the choirs must undergo these these auditions.
Choir director Frank Arcari opens up the auditions to all his students and provides any student ability to audition into these higher choirs.
Arcari sent out a listing of students on all his Google Classrooms on the night of February 21. Next to the names is either a “first period” or “fourth period” indicating which time Arcari is hoping to see the student for their audition.
B day block one and four are during the higher choir classes: first period is Chambers and fourth period being Women’s Ensemble. Students are expected to sing a song in front of their assigned ensemble; this year’s song is titled “My Spirit Sang All Day” by Gerald Finzi.
“When I first found out I was like: ‘Wow great, I have to sing in front of the entire Women’s Ensemble, and that’s terrifying.’ I spent at least like two hours practicing,” says Sarah Chute, a freshman choir student who was told to sing for fourth period.
Chambers and Women’s Ensemble looks at specific critiques like…
The student sings in a quartet, or a group of four singers which are comprised of a soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. These four singers must hold their part during the entire song and ultimately should come together to create a harmonious sound.
Depending on how the student does, Chamber Choir or Women’s Ensemble (depending on which period the student is auditioning in) discusses whether that individual belongs to Advanced, Women’s, or Chamber Choir.
“Everyone in Women’s and Chambers has gone through this process. I still had to sing a solo in front of advance choir last year. The auditions are not a big deal. You just have to go in, have fun, and keep a smile on your face.” says Chamber Choir member Lauren Kelly (‘21), who is able to empathize with the nerves the entire process invokes.
In the end of the day, the final placement of the students is Arcari’s call. However, he believes discussing an individual as a group teaches his students what to look for when auditioning, and more importantly: to create a passionate spirit amongst the ensembles.
“Collaborative music making is reliant upon other people’s performance, so if they don’t have drive or ambition, it’s not only affecting them but everyone else. If you’re not good at math, that’s on you. But what this is group project every minute of everyday,” says Arcari with regards to the importance of keeping a passion amidst his choir’s hearts.
Over time the idea of sports has changed dramatically. Now McMahon offers a club called Unified Sports which gives kids with special needs the opportunity to play sports and compete against other schools.
They usually start their day off with a warm-up and stretching, then some dribbling drills, and take some shots then end with a scrimmage.
Unified Sports started about four years ago at McMahon. They compete in sports such as soccer and basketball. The team competes with differents schools that have the same program.
“From what I can remember we’ve played Stamford, Masuk, Ludlowe, Norwalk High and definitely a few others,” says senior captain John Gatt.
Most kids enjoy different parts of the club whether competing, training or interacting even if you've been a member only a year.
“This is my first year and it's been a great experience so far because my favorite part of it all is playing and hanging with the kids,” says Julia Bale (‘21).
“I've been apart of the club for two years. My favorite part of the club is bonding with the players because it's the best feeling to see them in the hallways and watching their faces light up,” says Meghan Sisk (‘21).
Unified Sports creates an environment where kids can feel free to express themselves and get to meet new people to create bonds with.
“I would say I developed a special bond with Ralph Laguerre, we would text and facetime and even though he graduated last year, we still keep in touch,” said Gatt.
Unified Sports connects to special-ed by giving them the opportunity to play in team sports that otherwise they wouldn’t normally participate in. It is all about connecting students with and without disabilities through team sport.
Lights, camera, action! Emily Rooney is a sophomore at Brien McMahon High School in CGS. With the upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” Emily has been cast with her first-time lead in a BMHS play as the role of Donna Sheridan.
“Any sort of person would love this show because the music is so appealing to all audiences,” says Rooney.
She stated with confidence in her eyes. With fun songs for kids like Super Trooper, Dancing Queen, or Mamma Mia! and more for adults who were around during the whole Sonny & Cher time (1960s-1970) who would enjoy songs like Waterloo, Voulez Vous and The Winner Takes it All.
“I think it appeals to all age ranges, especially teenage girls because it takes on the fantasy of having some guys chase after you and finally having to end up with one of them,” Rooney says while laughing out her words.
With Rooney playing the role of Donna there’s no doubt that there are some similarities between the two.
“Donna and I are both very much stubborn and can hold grudges, but also the fact that Donna just wants to have fun and I just want to have fun too connects us there also,” she says.
Donna has many good and bad qualities which makes her the unique character she is which gives Rooney a lot of fun while playing her.
“I definitely love the fact that Donna is a free spirit and how she always wants to have fun but she doesn’t know how to act when Sam comes back after being in love with him for 21 years after he broke her heart, like calm down sis!” Rooney says, fed up with her actions.
The expectations Emily Rooney set for herself is one of her biggest challenges and that some others around her also have. Being a sophomore in a young cast for a high school play there’s a lot to uphold.
“There’s still a lot of seniors whom I look up to and some alumni whom I know are coming back that I definitely don’t want to disappoint,” Rooney said anxiously. Trying to present herself as a leader is one of the hardest things to work within the production.
Mamma Mia! is a female-dominated musical when it comes to the leads. If not cast as Donna, Rooney has a different approach of where she would like to see herself in the play.
“I would definitely want to play Tanya because of her song ‘Does Your Mother Know’, and it’s just so fun”.
With this being her first lead role in a McMahon musical, she is still highly experienced as a sophomore. She was featured in BMHS production of “Hairspray” as a part of the ensemble. She also does Crystal Theater year-round, mainly in the summer, and takes part in a lot of their shows. Along with all her acting and singing experience between the two, she also takes vocal lessons with Joe Santaniello at “Santaniello Vocal Studio” in Norwalk, CT.
“I think how our school's production of Mamma Mia! makes it unique is through all of the character relationships we do a lot of extra studying into why would this person say that and how does this affect their relationship. So I think the cast members can connect to their character more and to the person, they play opposite with and that chemistry on stage will set Brien McMahon aside from everybody else.”
With BMHS bringing the Mamma Mia! production to life we get a taste of the talent here many have yet to see.