BMHS PrideTime Reporter
NORWALK- On April 25th, 2014, Norwalk High School put on its production of Hairspray.
Now almost four years later, after performances of Beauty and the Beast (2015), Legally Blonde (2016), Into the Woods (2016), and last year's Cinderella (2017), McMahon's Drama Department has chosen to put their own twist on the smash hit musical comedy, which will premiere on March 2nd, 2018.
Make sure you come see the Nicest Kids In Town in this family friendly musical for two hours full of dancing, big hairdos, jazzy music, and a powerful message about social change.
Pride Time Reporter, Alejandra Bonilla, went out and interviewed five members of McMahon's upcoming production of Hairspray.
“My name is Cathy Colmenares. I am a senior and I have been in the Drama Department for three years. This year I got casted as Tracy in Hairspray. In order to get the part, I had to prepare a song from a musical that could show off my voice and also a monologue to showcase my acting. We also got taught a dance from the musical and had to perform it with other people auditioning. And then when you get callbacks they send you music and scenes from the show that you have to prepare. In the past, I have been the witch in Into the Woods and Marie, the Fairy Godmother, in Cinderella. Ever since I became interested in Music and Musical Theater, I always wanted to be Tracy in Hairspray. I loved her energy and her ambition to do whatever she wanted no matter what everyone thought of her and I think she’s really inspiring because of that. Preparing for the role is going to be a very long and strenuous process of lots memorizing and learning and practicing, but will all be worth the end goal of performing it for all to see!! COME SEE HAIRSPRAY YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS IT."
"My name is Douglas Denny, and I am in 12th grade. I’ve been a part of the drama department here at BMHS for 2 years now. This year I am super excited about playing Link Larkin, who is one of the leads and love interest of Tracy and Amber. I didn't really do any prep for the role besides a whole lot of singing in the shower and a callback audition. I also looked up the songs and just started repeatedly singing them to myself whenever I could. I was really surprised I got a lead, since I had only had a minor role in the last show I did here. In Legally Blonde I played Kyle, the UPS guys who was the comic relief, which is pretty accurate since I’d like to consider myself funny. In terms of this show and the character i’ll be playing this year, i'd say we both see good qualities in others based on their character and not appearance which I think is a very important part of this play. Besides that, all I have to say is IT'S GONNA BE AN AWESOME YEAR AND A GREAT SHOW!!!"
"My name is Julia Forschino, and I’m a senior and I’ve been in the drama department all four years. I’m playing Amber von Tussel, the b****/camera hog on the Corny Collins Show. In terms of getting the part, basically we did pre-auditions before we even picked a show to see the department’s dance ability. Then we had auditions, where I had to sing, dance, and act. A couple of days later, I got called back for Amber and had to learn Cooties, her solo for when she tries to win Miss Teenage Hairspray. I’ve actually been a lead all four years. I was a Silly Girl in Beauty and the Beast, Margot in Legally Blonde (one of the sorority girls), and Charlotte in Cinderella (one of the stepsisters). This year, I’d say Amber and I have a lot in common. We both really like to dance (I dance at Dance Dimensions!), and my friends like to joke around that I’m perfect for this part because of the b****ness factor.
In order to prep for this role, I’ve watched a lot of different versions of the show, and just lots and lots of practice. It’s my senior show and you wanna go out with a bang, you know? I’m super excited for the next couple months getting to work on this show with some of my best friends, and I can’t wait to help the choreographer as assistant to the choreographer, my production staff job!”
"My name is Olivia Lipson, I’m in 12th grade, and I have done the musicals here at McMahon for four years. This year I am lucky enough to be playing Penny Lou Pingleton. To get this part, I went to pre dance auditions where we learned a quick dance to help figure out what musicals we can and can’t handle dance wise. I then sang, danced (again), and acted for actual auditions and callbacks. Last year I was Gabrielle (one of the stepsisters) in Cinderella as well as student producer. I think when it comes to what I have in common with Penny, it’s that I can have very geeky moments just like her, and that I am very supportive of my friends. To prepare I just practice a lot and watched a lot of different versions of Hairspray so I could see different interpretations of Penny. I can’t wait to get started and learn how to tap dance...woohoo!"
"My name is Anthony W. Mayhew Jr, and I am in 10th grade. This is my second year in the music and drama programs here at McMahon. Last year I did Cinderella, and was an ensemble member for that. This year I really stepped up and got the role of Seaweed Stubbs, who falls in love with Penny Pingleton. In order to get in the mindset of the show before my audition, I had to practice, and I watched all the movies and play remakes of Hairspray to get an idea of who the character is. Getting the part was big for me, especially since the last time I was a lead was at my middle school’s production, Annie, in the 8th grade.
When I think about Seaweed, I automatically think about how we both love to sing and dance and we are pretty damn good at it. I’d like to think that the way to perfect my performance of this character is gonna be to practice, practice, practice. Music is my love, passion, my life, and I hope everyone will be able to see that when they go see Hairspray!"
BMHS PrideTime Reporter
On Monday, Dec. 11th, twenty-six CGS students, along with their guardians, met up for the study tour seminar after school. There, they discussed the details for the December Japan trip.
What is the Kakehashi Project?
In the thick, about ten-paged packet our CGS kids received, the project is described as a “people-to people” exchange program, called the “Japan’s Friendship Ties Program” and done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (JICE) “to improve Japan’s image in the North American regions.” It is an eight day study tour where the kids will attend lectures and workshops, visit historical landmarks, experience a homestay and finally, conduct a presentation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. CGS will also be joined by another school from Seattle.
PrideTime reporter interviewed Mrs. Parham, director of CGS, for more information on the trip:
Jennifer: How was CGS chosen?
Mrs. Parham: “Last spring, when Keiko-sensei took her students to the Japan Bowl, three of those students were selected and invited through the Kakehashi Project to go to Japan over the summer. Two of them were able to go, so they spent several weeks there over the summer, free of charge. Great trip. It was very exciting. And...in the fall, Arisa Wada, who works for JICE, contacted us and said; well since we had sent some students over the summer, would we be interested in hosting students. And we said, well of course we will always host students. So they asked if they could send 26 students in February, and we said, "Of course, that would be great!" But then that was in our initial meeting, so she came a few months later with another representative and they saw the school and we talked about what the exchange would look like and then in the middle of that conversation, Keiko-sensei very boldly said, "well, we only sent a few students over the summer. Is there an opportunity for us to send a larger group of students?" And Arisa Wada was very surprised and said; "You haven't sent a whole school?" And we said, "well no, just two students." And she said, "well I'll look into that." And then about three weeks later we got a call that said do you want to send 25 students, people to Japan free of charge? You can either go in February (which is when our Kojo students come so we're like hm no that's not gonna work. Or in six weeks, in December. And we said, "we'll do it!"
Jennifer: What teachers are going?
Mrs. Parham: “Oh! Yeah so, this is a crazy group of teachers. So we've got Keiko-sensei, Mrs. Lovro(who's a Chinese teacher), and then Ms. Swain(who's an art teacher). So she's the head of the art department, she teaches IB art, and she does some other cool things too. She's gone on, not with McMahon but she's actually gone on study tours to Russia, with students before. Which is really awesome. And she's traveled all over Asia except for Japan.”
Jennifer: Why is she going on this trip?
Mrs. Parham: “Well, so we had to find chaperones last minute right? So we were all ah! What are we doing! Then Sean-sensei was having a baby so he couldn't go. And we're like okay, so let's see how we can get creative? So we invited Mrs. Lovro because she's teaching World Language seminar which is a ninth grade class that's new, so it's all about cultures of China, Japan, and the Middle East.. And she's like "I've never been to Japan." And like let's send you! And she's like, "that's awesome!" But also, Keiko and Mrs. Lovro are also IB teachers and so I thought it would be really cool if we could get, Ms. Swain, Mrs. Lovro and Keiko-sensei to kind of work on some interdisciplinary projects together. And this is a good opportunity for them to like, have some common ground.”
Jennifer: How are most study tours funded?/Who:
Mrs. Parham: “So we set a price tag for every trip and we try to keep it. Right now, our kind of standard price is 2500 dollars for a trip. And if you are to compare that to like EF tours or something like that, the standard price for those are closer to 4000-4500 dollars. They don't get much cheaper than that. So we really, through the host families and some budget travel stuff, we really keep the price down. And CGS pays for the chaperones, so we ask students who can afford to pay the whole 2500 to pay it. If anybody can't, then we fund it through school based budgeting. So Norwalk helps pay for some of it, we get grants from certain foundations. We get grants from private individuals make donations, the PTO helps. A lot of people who have either worked at CGS or been in CGS will make donations that go to study tours. So we get a lot of money to help pay for trips.”
Jennifer: What is the reason CGS encourages students to go on study tours?
Mrs. Parham: “Well it's foundational to our mission. But you know, this idea of being globally minded I think is, it's always been important to CGS. And I think the reasons why it's been important to CGS has changed over the years. But I think right now being globally minded is becoming a political statement, and I feel really strongly about it. You know when we travel, we're sending a message that we're not happy just knowing ourselves and that we value the voices and opinions of other people in part of the world and that we're not always right, and we can learn things. One more reason why we go is because you can't learn about yourself until you see what you're not. If that makes sense. You know what seems common sense to us is a lot of times, it's culturally based. But you can't see that until you experience something where your common sense isn't common sense.”
Center for Global Studies (CGS), McMahon’s magnet program, has been getting everything ready for the Japan study tour that will take place Dec. 17th until Dec. 25th. They are all prepared for an amazing, free trip to Japan to learn new things/experience a different lifestyle.
BMHS PrideTime Reporter
During the last week of November, McMahon’s Drama Department held auditions for this year’s musical “Hairspray”, famous for it’s fun music and entertaining storyline.
If you aren’t familiar with the film turned into musical, Hairspray is based around the year 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland and follows a young ambitious and bubbly girl named Tracy Turnblad on her journey to try to end segregation on The Corny Collins Show.
PrideTime reporter Kiwana Alveranga had the opportunity to interview two students, Cathy Colmenares (‘18) and Anthony Mayhew Jr. (‘20) who decided to audition, getting insight on their reasoning for auditioning for certain roles and what is done to prepare for the play.
In the musical “Hairspray”, who did you desire to be and what’s the reason behind wanting that character?
Cathy Colmenares: “Tracy. I started doing musical theatre when I was like 10 years old and that was like the first show that I ever watched because I had the movie version with Zac Efron. I wanted to be Tracy because she gets to kiss Zac Efron.”
How do you have to get prepared, hair and makeup wise?
Cathy: “Well for makeup you always have to go a tone darker than you are because the lights drown you out. Hair... it depends on the year of the show but for this one, we’ll probably wear wigs since its the 60s.”
How do you guys prepare and how often you do you guys rehearse?
Cathy: “We rehearse our parts on stage and the movements/dances and when it gets closer, like two weeks before the play, it’s “hell week” because we are here all night practicing. Depending on if you are a lead or ensemble, ensemble practices like two times a week and if you’re a lead you are practically here every day.”
What’s your experience in performing on stages?
Anthony Mayhew Jr: “From 6th to 8th grade, I was lead in each school play we did. In 9th grade, I was ensemble. I had 5 or 6 costume changes so that was a lot of work and this will be my first year in highschool being lead.”
How does the whole drama department prepare for the play?
Anthony: “We make sure we know our lines. We go over each routine for the play and yeah we just make sure we know our stuff.
Who did you audition for? What song did you audition with and why?
Anthony: I auditioned for Seaweed and got Seaweed. I auditioned with “Without Love” because it’s from Hairspray.
Are some roles more difficult than others?
Anthony: “I’m pretty sure every role is like hard(ish) because yeah there’s a lot of lines but the only easy part for me would the dancing because I love dancing.
In Spring 2018, “Hairspray” will be put on for the school and the drama department will finally get to show off what they have worked long and hard for.
Michelle Perea & Yanira Matute
BMHS PrideTime Reporter and Editor
NORWALK, CT,- In this year’s McMahon‘s Got Talent, a wide variety of talented acts ranging from rapping to singing a duet on a popular 90’s song wowed the audience and displayed hidden talents never before seen in some of these shy students.
The event, held in the Dr. James J. Forcellina Auditorium, was hosted by the class officers of the class of 2019. Michael Macari, the class President, and Dejanah Lorthe, the class social chairman, both kicked off the show at 6:45 p.m. and started off by introducing this year’s judges.
The talents lined up for the show changed but the judges sure haven’t. If you attended last year’s McMahon’s Got Talent you may recognize the judges. Mrs. Okrentowich, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Scalise were back for another year of excitement.
A question some people may have is how are judges chosen exactly? It’s actually quite simple. The class officers go around and ask certain teachers if they wouldn’t mind being the judge for the show. Of course, Mr. Scalise, Mrs. Okrentowich and Mr. Phillips couldn’t say no and miss the opportunity of watching such talented acts perform.
Another thing that may confuse people is the way that the contestants are scored. “There’s a rubric or a list of the different things we judge on and we score 1-10. So one of the things could be audience reaction, presentation, talent straight up, stage work.. All those things would be actual things we look at there,” said Mr. Phillips. After the contestants are scored, the original list of 11 acts is narrowed down to top three acts and are chosen from there after careful consideration amongst the three judges.
With judging comes difficulty. Mrs. Okrentowich mentioned that choosing just one talent as a winner was so difficult given the fact that so many people have different talents when it comes to either singing and dancing, it’s hard to chose a winner because of the completely different acts that are presented. “It’s really hard to put talent all in one level of ground. I was thinking can we pick one dancer and like one--I wanted to pick everybody,” said Mrs. Okrentowich.
Although all the acts were great, only one can go home a winner. Anthony Mayhew Jr. (‘20) and Brandon Joseph (‘21) came out as the winners this year. The two performers opened up the show with a song by Boyz II Men, “End of The Road” and immediately caused the audience to roar. Joseph’s high notes and Mayhew’s soft voice immediately won the hearts of the audience-- and the judges.
The other performers felt the love. Oliver Belfort (‘18) chose a song that also had a positive audience reaction. The song he chose was “Ahora Dice” by Chris Jeday featuring J. Balvin, Ozuna and Arcángel.
Other honorable mentions include Breana Montero (‘20), CYL with vocals by Daniella Donzelli (‘20), Daniella Bolivar (‘19) Carrie Sangiovanni (Future Project), Juan Hincapie (‘19), Angel Mendoza (‘20) Amy Ozols (‘18), McMahon Dance Team and of course everyone else who performed that night. If you missed this year’s talent show, don’t worry! The next one’s just a year away!
BMHS Pride Time Reporter
Say goodbye to the adorable Halloween costumes and hand print turkeys, as Brien McMahon's child development course is no longer going to offer child-care services as in year's past.
Mrs. Pirro, teacher of child development, in her first full year of teaching at Brien McMahon is facing adversity as new changes in the child care program will result in new lesson plans for the students and less time with the children.
The previous child development teacher, Ms. Sell, who left during the school year last year, created an opening for Mrs. Pirro to take over. Mrs. Pirro had been teaching with kids for over 40 years now and has plans for the future of the child development program as she keeps her head up with many bright ideas.
The reason for the children leaving is the State makes requirements every year for the program, and we haven't kept up to date with them. Dr. Allen, house master of the 11th grade, says, “there’s not enough children for the program to be running. All the children are being sent to the early childhood center where they will be there for 5 days a week instead of 3 days here at McMahon, and will also be with a larger group of kids."
Many of the students are sad the children are leaving as it was the biggest part of the program. Jeanine Maldonado (‘18) who has been taking the program for three years says, “my first year it was hard learning how to teach the kids, now the students ask me for guidance. I love the children and that’s why I’ve been taking the class for three years. It’s sad to see the kids leave”. Jeanine stated there were about 40 children her first year of taking the program in 2015 and now there are only about 5. Melissa Gomez (‘18) says how much she loves the kids. “It's sad for them to leave, with it being my first year. It’s going to be a lot of extra work going on field trips to see the kids now.”
McMahon students are also going to have the chance to partake in parenting lessons, such as parents magazines and to also invent toys for the kids. Mrs. Pirro plans to talk to private companies in funding the child development program in order to see if the companies will sponsor the program with toys or start an adopted day care center.
BMHS Pridetime Reporter
Earlier this month, The Center of Global Studies offered a chance of a lifetime trip to china. The trip allowed students to tour around and stay with a host family while going to school with the children within that family. Multiple students took up the offer and quickly adapted to their way of life and loved it. One of these students, Tess Jordan (‘20) described her trip with the ups and downs.
“Something that's always a little difficult about going to a completely different country is adapting to their environment and way of life, however some things were a little hard at first. “It was especially hard to adapt when staying with the host family because you are much more involved there, then walking around with a group”. She explains how being without friends and being with the total strangers was a little strange at first but eventually everything turned out good.
Some of the things that came into play with this trip was cost. Jordan mentioned how she was surprised on how affordable it was. “It was only $2500 which is pretty cheap considering we went for two weeks and did lots of different things.” Some of those things include touring around different parts of China, eating amazing food, and seeing what the schools in China are like.
“I got an enriching experience from observing the culture and lifestyle there”. All the girls that were privileged enough to go on the trip were extremely satisfied with the outcome that they got to be apart of. And thanks to Brien Mcmahon there are so many other opportunities to be apart of and go to.
BMHS Pridetime Reporter
On November 17th Superintendent Dr. Adamowski called out the ABC television program American Housewife in a letter because of their targeting on Norwalk students. The show casted a negative light on Norwalk and its students after using the city as part of a joke on their October 25th episode.
In the episode, Taylor Otto (played by actor Meg Donnelly) dresses up as a “Norwalk Prom Girl” for Halloween by stuffing a pillow underneath a prom dress insinuating that she was pregnant.
This is not the first time the show has mocked Norwalk, on previous episodes, characters on the show refused to swim in a Norwalk swimming pool in fear of disease and in another fake polo t-shirts were sold to unsuspecting kids in Norwalk.
Many students and faculty felt it was offensive and a distasteful attempt at comedy. Maddy Gordon, a senior at McMahon, feels that “the comedy works to highlight the disparity between Norwalk and surrounding towns.” Liz Murphy, also a Senior at McMahon, says the show “doesn’t represent Norwalk as a whole.”
Which gives way to the question, “What is Norwalk really like?”
“We are very diverse, we are a community that gets along and we’re well-rounded” says Murphy.
And she's right. Brien McMahon is currently the most diverse public high school in Connecticut according to Niche.com; while Norwalk High follows behind at #33. In comparison to the towns bordering Norwalk like Westport, the town where American Housewife is based on, diversity lags dramatically among students. Niche.com listed Westport as a town as #244 in Connecticut's most diverse towns.
With 41% of Norwalk students speaking a second language and programs like the Center for Global Studies, different cultures, and backgrounds are a large part of the community.
The median household income in Norwalk is $76,987 according to the U.S Census Bureau. That's almost 25,000 more than the average median household in the United States.
Besides the economy, Norwalk's crime rate is 32% lower than the national average and is safer than 41% of the cities in the United States. In terms of education,the average graduation rate between Norwalk High and Brien McMahon is 93%.
“There are wonderfully intelligent and successful people in this town,” say Gordon.
ABC recently announced that they will “omit any mentions of the city from future episodes” due to large number of concerns.
BMHS PrideTime Editor
In 2016, the beauty industry was worth around $445 billion dollars. This isn’t all that surprising,with stores like Sephora, Ulta Beauty, CVS Pharmacy, and Sally Beauty offering some of the most popular beauty products to date, it has now become more accessible for people all around the world to get a chance to experiment with makeup.
Even here at McMahon, students are showing their love for makeup everyday- which isn’t a bad thing. “Makeup makes me feel different and pretty,” Melissa Gomez (‘18) says, “People in today’s society think that you’re insecure in your own skin if you wear makeup...but you don’t have to be insecure to wear makeup.”
But how do other students at McMahon feel about wearing makeup?
Kyra Calarco (‘11) says “I have been using makeup since the 7th grade, but got serious in the 9th grade.” When asked about what products Calarco’s prefers to wear, she said “I don’t use full face makeup, like foundation. I just use a Kat Von D brow and a subtle highlight.” Natalie Zullo (‘18) I also don’t wear full face makeup, saying “All I do is my brows and put on carmex or vaseline.” Vickie Quetant (‘18) also doesn’t wear that much makeup, and said “I don’t do my makeup because I have combination skin, but I do use Anastasia Dip Brow from time to time.”
However, wearing a full face of makeup isn’t a bad thing. Aliza Perez (‘20) at Brien Mcmahon says, “Makeup enhances my features and allows me to express myself, but I do have my days where I don't want to wear makeup.” Many people start wearing makeup for different reasons or at different parts of their lives, such as Deyannah Vaughn (‘18), who said that she started wearing makeup because the women in her family wore it. However, Vaughn adds that “Even though makeup makes me feel beautiful, I know that I could live without.”
There is no 'right' way to wear makeup- it's all dependent on how the individual uses it. It's amazing to see how makeup preferences vary and how
BMHS Pridetime Reporter