Showcase Assembly (6/1/18)

On Friday, June 1st, Staten Island Technical High School held its 17th annual student showcase. Students hurried to the Salvatore Eretto Auditorium, buzzing with excitement and eager to watch their peers perform. On the way to the auditorium, they were immediately met with the sound of the opening band consisting of William Albee, Tyler Almquist, Daniel Donnelly, and Justine Molinari, who played passionately as the students filed into their seats.

There were many different acts over the course of the showcase, with students displaying talents such as dancing, singing, spinning flags, and playing instruments.

Some of the day’s performances included renditions of “What’s Up” by students Tess Lynch, Ivy Fan, and Felix Mastropasqua, “This is Me” by Katie Schermerhorn, Ivan Bourov, and Mike Albdewi, and “You and I” by Jess Liu. In each of these performances, students sang, and, in “What’s Up” and “You and I” students played instruments to accompany the vocals. Each of these performances were met with great praise from the audience; viewers clapped and cheered for their peers.

Tech senior Felix Mastropasqua, who was in multiple performances, reflected on his experience with the showcase: “It can be nerve-wracking to put on a performance, but I was motivated to make my last show at Tech as memorable as possible.”

Students involved in different school activities also performed in the showcase. Glee Club sang “Some Nights”, the Dance Team danced to “The Greatest Show”, Dance Gym students danced to various Rihanna songs, and the Color Guard showed off their skills to “Confident”.

Rachel Kneitel, a Tech senior in Dance Gym, said of the performance, “Giving your all during practices is worth it in the end when you see the crowd focusing only on the performance.”

The audience truly did focus on the performance, captivated by the many dancers on the stage. In fact, the audience was thrilled by each performance, encouraging the performers with their energy and enthusiasm towards all of the acts. Towards the conclusion of the show, Xenia Rudchenko and Anton Logochniak sang an incredible duet of the song “Stay”, wowing the audience as they walked down the sides of the auditorium, then onto the stage, singing.

To wrap up the showcase, the final act was Anton Logochniak’s rendition of “My Way”. As he sang, photographs of the senior class were projected onto the stage as a tribute to the graduating Class of 2018.

Overall, the students in the showcase gave remarkable performances, a testimony to the many talents of students at Staten Island Technical High School.

 

The Rise of Korean Entertainment

In Tech, it’s difficult to avoid hearing some song in another language or a seeing a poster promoting a show based off of some pop stars who live across the Earth. Or if you go down to the dance gym, the cafeteria, or even outside the school sometimes, you might see groups of people diligently mimicking the dance moves of teenagers dressed in trendy, colorful clothing. Groups of kids huddle in the lunch room around a single tablet to watch a show without understanding a word they say, using subtitles to get the meaning. This is all the result of the Hallyu Wave, or the Korean Wave. Since the 1990s, people of all ages have found enjoyment in Korean entertainment with good reason. Cultural exports from Korean range from hipster street clothes, to dramatic TV shows, to catchy verses in songs sung a quarter in English and the rest in Korean. The Hallyu wave has extended to the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa, and just about anywhere internet is available.

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The MAMA Awards (Mnet Asian Music Awards)

It first started with the band H.O.T landing in China for a highly publicized, successful performance. The drama What is Love? aired in China in 1997, grabbing 4.2% of the Chinese population, about 150 million people, to watch the premiere.  From there the numbers have only increased: the band TVXQ had a total of 65 concerts in Japan, selling over 6.3 million albums over a 6 year period from 2006-2012. It had taken video platforms; Gangnam Style by Psy became the first video to have over a billion views on Youtube. Actor/singers like Rain, Won Bin, and Lee Byung Hun enjoy international success as they are invited to the Cannes Film Festival, oversees meet and greets, and award shows. BTS especially has had great success internationally- the boy group boasts over 20 million followers over Instagram, Facebook, and Instagram, performed at the 2017 Billboard Awards, and has been interviewed by Ellen and been on air with Ryan Seacrest for New Year’s Rockin Eve.

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Korean boy-band BTS

What’s the appeal? Can’t you find the same songs or TV shows in the US? Korean media in particular offers a degree of excitement and drama that American media rarely does. The viewer is usually enraptured in the oftentimes unrealistic love stories or “concepts”. Companies use expert advertising tools like giving their pop groups “concepts”, a theme around which they can sell their merchandize, capture the attention of people who want that fantasy, or boost their clientele’s appeal through, for example, an image of “sweet innocence,” or a “bad boy.” Oftentimes the viewer and listener follow famous celebrities in their careers, from show to show, or TV interview appearance to TV interview appearance. Similar to American viewers, but Korean entertainment companies have used their celebrities’ fame to blast their image everywhere to get the most money possible, and the payout is hefty. But no matter the price, we will continue to watch and support, because what else is more entertaining than fashionable teenagers dancing spectacularly while singing effortlessly?

Spring Musical 2018: Mary Poppins!

On April 20th and 21st, Staten Island Tech presented a practically perfect production of Disney classic Mary Poppins to an audience of students, alumni, teachers, and family. Whether they were from the cast/ensemble, band, stage crew, tech crew, or studio crew, the students involved in this year’s annual spring musical had been working hard on the show since January.

Ensemble performs during a rehearsal.

The cast wowed us with their passionate acting, singing, and dancing. The musical’s story follows the flawed Banks family and the arrival of their new magical nanny. It’s a story about family, being kind, and the whimsicality of life. With everyone speaking in British accents and never missing a beat in their lines, the actors shared the touching story of Mary Poppins. The dancers and choreographers showed impressive skill from the quick gestures of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to the neat tap dancing in “Step in Time.” The costumes dazzled us; the actors sported Victorian-era wardrobe, shimmering drapes of statues, professional monochrome attire of bankers, eccentric fashion adorned with colorful wigs, and chimney sweeper outfits complete with soot on their faces.

Julianna Torres, who played Mrs. Brill, commented: “Being in spring musical this year was absolutely surreal. The play we put on felt straight out of Mary Poppins’s handbag, and although I never dreamed I’d grow so attached to the show, I can safely say that there’s no show and no cast I’d rather have had the honor of being a part of!”

The band brought even more emotion to the show with their lively melodies. The orchestra pit accompanied the cast, playing songs like, “Chim Chimney,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Anything Can Happen,” and softly played under some dialogue. Like in a traditional Broadway play, there were several students who played more than one instrument during the show. Maximus Saenz, who played trombone and tuba, shared: “Being a part of band is very rewarding. You are surrounded by so many talented people and you learn so much. Band for spring musical is interesting because of how non-traditional it is; there are harmonicas, recorders, and the brass has many mutes.”

Emmett Bergeron (Bert) and Victoria Nicoletta (Mary Poppins) pose backstage.

The studio crew recorded the live show, while tech crew provided lighting and spotlighting, operated the microphones and sound system, and controlled special sound and visual effects. Tech crew member Serena Low helped with the iconic shadow projection of Mary Poppins flying with her umbrella and expressed, “There are a lot of different people in tech crew and working with all of them has given me much diverse knowledge. Working in the show made me feel good because I was able to be a part of something bigger than myself that needed a whole lot of cooperation between a whole lot of people.”

The stage crew displayed vibrant backgrounds for the stage and matched the magical character of Mary Poppins. The students showcased various sets, including the Banks home, the children’s room, the kitchen, the park, and a city skyline from a rooftop. They also showcased colorful kites, seemingly infinite space within Mary’s handbag, and self-moving kitchen utensils. Stage crew member Debby Lin commented, “My favorite scene was probably the kitchen scene. Since I was one of the students tasked with moving and turning the giant flies, (whilst trying to do it as quickly and quietly as possible), the 10-to-15-second change was pretty stressful to make. But once the scene began, it was pretty incredible to see. Students literally hid inside tables in order to make it seem as if the pots, pans, bowls, and spoons were moving on their own […] Everything was meant to look effortless, but there was clearly a lot of passion and dedication put into the show. I hope the audience could sense that passion that was present throughout the entire auditorium.”

The cast, orchestra, studio & tech crew, and stage crew made the spring musical a delight to watch! Thank you and congratulations to the production team, the teachers who directed the students, and all who were involved in it. Until next year!

 

 

Why We Need The Arts In Education

     Recent years have witnessed a rapid decline in emphasis on the arts in high schools and universities in favor of math and science courses. As a society, we have formed a distinct line between science and the arts, with many believing the optimal side is science. While there is value in teaching science and math courses, the arts are also essential to a quality education and should play a prominent role.

     The humanities, or liberal arts, includes subjects such as English, History, Philosophy, Art, Music, and Theatre – all of which are incredibly valuable to students. More so than other courses, these subjects promote critical thinking and analysis, enable students to think and write clearly, and teach invaluable skills that can apply to virtually any job. The skills emphasized in these subjects allow students to empathize, navigate social relationships, and develop an understanding of themselves, others, and society as a whole.  

     According to Bradley C. Thompson in “Liberal Education and the Quest for Truth, Freedom, and Greatness”, studying the humanities ensures that humans are capable “[…] of understanding the world and man’s relationship to it; of distinguishing between true and false, good and bad, just and unjust, honorable and dishonorable”. The humanities enhance the skills that enable people to understand aspects of the world and the people around them. Sufficient knowledge in the humanities can enable a person to think broadly and potentially alter society for the better. Especially in a democracy such as the United States, society needs people who can differentiate between good and bad, or just and unjust.

     There are also numerous studies that suggest the arts are greatly beneficial to students academically. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, low income high school students who were not exposed to the arts were over 5 times more likely to drop out of school. Furthermore, studies have shown that students who took art classes for four years scored an average of 91 points higher on their SATs than those who took art classes for a year or less. This indicates that there is tangible evidence that emphasis on the arts in schools can help students improve academically.

Additionally, the humanities can be used to enhance students’ understanding of other subjects, as discussed by Fareed Zakaria in In Defense of a Liberal Education.  In 1988, Dr. Irwin Braverman, a professor at Yale Medical School, noticed that his students’ power of observation and diagnosis were weak. His solution was to take his students to an art gallery, where they were asked to “examine paintings, forcing them to unpack the many layers of detail and meaning in a good work of art”. As a result, Braverman found that his students “performed demonstrably better at diagnosis after taking the class”.  The way that the humanities require deep analysis and examination demonstrates a level of deep, critical thinking that can be valuable in all aspects of life and can apply to numerous disciplines. This suggests that the arts can be highly beneficial to students, regardless of what degree they wish to pursue. In this way, emphasizing the humanities in education is invaluable to all students, no matter what their career goals may be.

     For all these benefits, the arts need to take on a more prominent role in schools. The humanities teach skills essential to thriving in today’s society and can be extremely beneficial to the overall education of students. The arts should not be deemphasized in high schools and universities; they need to take on an equal role to science and math courses.

Reading: 8 Second Attention Span

“There are worst crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” -Ray Bradbury

Reading is defined as “the action or skill of reading written or printed matter silently or aloud”. This can occur through any media evolving from the earliest historical records written on papyrus in ancient Egypt to modern-day E-Books from the Internet. During periods of history, only scholars and the privileged were allowed to learn to read making it a defining factor between the rich and the poor. This shows how literacy was valued as a skill throughout history and how now that almost everyone has access to it, we have to utilize it to educate ourselves.

In the 21st century, technology has advanced so far from its earliest forms especially when talking about access to literature and related subject matter. The creation of the Internet allowed for the development of digital libraries and thousands of databases that gives people access to unrestricted amounts of information at their fingertips. Instead of only professionally published works being available, now anyone can publish their writings through blogs and websites, consequently supporting the lack of quality control on the Web that can affect the public’s literacy and comprehension.

But, despite the issue of quality from the Internet, there is a more pressing concern.

Students are not reading. Current studies have shown that this generation only has an attention span of around 8 seconds. These 8 seconds make them unable to pick up a book and finish it without getting distracted, and compared to the decade prior, it takes more effort to complete a book.

Staten Island Technical High School students are no exception to these discoveries.

Mrs. Callan, an English teacher at SITHS shares that “Having taught 15 years I [can] see a decline in the student’s love of reading and reading outside the class.” After surveying a couple students about the last time they read, many of the responses demonstrated parallels to the discoveries.

Many couldn’t remember the last time they read a book of their own choosing but many did remember the last time they read, which were the textbooks pages assigned for homework by the school.

Kids aren’t reading for pleasure. Sabrina Tang, a Junior and member of the Creative Writing/ Literary Magazine Club reflects on the value of reading prior to this year. “Reading was a pastime for me… to relieve my stress… forget reality [and] all the troubles that were there.” But nowadays some of the books she reads are often school assigned.

With a keen interest in reading Ms. Callan similarly reflects that reading is, “a way to enter different worlds and places and to expand knowledge and thinking.”

However, despite the positive response and acknowledgment of reading there is still a problem that prevents kids from doing it. Distractions from social media platforms and the lack of time places a strain on kids and reading, widening the gap between them.

With many students at SITHS taking rigorous classes and extracurricular activities, the time left over is often devoted to spending time on social media platforms in order to socialize with friends or to relax. Online videos and television shows can extend the 8-second attention span of youths which lead reading to be defeated in comparison.

Although this decline may be seen as nothing but a side effect of technological progress has been reported it is detrimental. Studies have found that those using the online medium translates into the hobby of “skimming” in order to collect the most amount of information in a short period of time. However, regardless of the speed of information, there are also studies indicating the detriment to cognitive functions as people are constantly skimming such as the decline in reading comprehension.

However, how can youths change this decline?

They can start with themselves.

“Always have a book on you digitally [or] a hardcopy,” Mrs. Callan shares, a valuable piece of advice she has learned from Mr. Callahan himself who has an authentic passion for reading. While this may still be a challenge it can be considered a first step in the right direction.

Senior Franklin Zhu also offers another piece of valuable advice, “Read what you want to read [because it’s something] you should enjoy.”

As reading continues to decline it is useful to accept the idea that school commitments and lack of time pull away even the most avid of readers. But to all students out there, it is never too rekindle that dying flame.

Tech’s Annual Multicultural Show

On Friday, March 16th, Staten Island Technical High School celebrated its annual Multicultural Show: a whirlwind of songs and dances that lit up the stage all evening. At around 7:30 PM, people filed into the auditorium, which eventually became a full house. Whether they were there to support a student involved in the show, to appreciate culture, or to spend an otherwise uneventful Friday night, the audience members were buzzing in anticipation of the performances to come.

The Asian American Club (AAC) performing one of their final numbers.

Before the show began, we caught up with performer Allyson Pan. This was her first year being a part of both the Multicultural Show and Desi Club. What drew her to this club in particular were her friends, who have been part of the club for a few years. Being in the club for a few months now, Allyson was able to give us an insider’s look into the club and the making of its number for the Multicultural Show.

She told The Tech Times that the Desi Club had been practicing their dance for about three months, starting in January. The dance the Desi Club performed was almost entirely modeled off of Bollywood movies, with a dash of Western and Latin influences. Thankfully, those who were inexperienced in the art form had impeccable guidance from the club’s presidents: Aruni Ahilan, Priyal Thakkar, and Shruthi Satty. All three are experienced Desi dancers. Not only was the experience informative, but it was widely enjoyable, as shown by Allyson’s newfound interest in dance. Though she was a not a dancer before, she enjoyed her experience in Desi so much that she plans to continue participating in dance extracurriculars in college.

Participants showcase their respective flags at the end of the performance.

Back in our seats, all eyes were glued to the stage up front as the show began. From the more mellow movements of the Greek and Russian clubs to the sharp and rapid movements of the Korean Culture and Jewish Clubs, there was never a dull moment. In between dances, seniors Anton Lagochniak and Xenia Rudchenko delivered stunning renditions of Russian songs. To wrap up the show, Desi Club took the stage with music and dance moves that were impossible not to move along to, leaving the audience in enthusiastic applause. The cheers in the crowd only grew louder as all of the show’s performers ran out on stage and held up their respective flags, representing cultures from Hispanic and Chinese to Indian.

Of course, like at any good show, refreshments were served. Perhaps refreshments is an understatement, as the school’s cafeteria was essentially transformed into a buffet of food from various cultures. Lines of people formed outside the cafeteria, all eager to delve into cultural foods such as Russian cookies, fried rice, churros, empanadas, chicken, or cupcakes decorated for St. Patrick’s Day. Once their plates were loaded up with goods, people sat down with either their friends or families, still buzzing with adrenaline from the show. The general consensus regarding the show appeared to be positive, but then again, who isn’t happy when they’re surrounded by seemingly limitless delicious food?

The S.I.T. Down

Since 2017, Staten Island Technical High School’s Advanced TV and Studio Production class has been filming an entirely student-produced show called the S.I.T.

Screenshot (22)Down. Guided by TV Studio Production teacher Mr. Van Buren, students are divided into different categories and work on multiple projects. One of the biggest projects throughout the entire school year being the S.I.T. Down. Some students produce field packages to cover past school events or promote upcoming events, and others conduct interviews introducing little-known opportunities for students. Other students work in the studio: directing, shooting, and hosting the show. After filming and editing, the episode is promptly posted on the S.I.T. Down’s Vimeo webpage.

Currently on its second season, the show has an Instagram page: @thes.i.t.down:

Fidget Spinner Field Package

A scene from a field package skit addressing fidget spinner addiction from the S.I.T Down episode 1.7.

Some of the major school events that were covered include SING and Spirit Week, while other field packages have covered interviews of accomplished students and even amusing skits about Advanced Placement test studying.

The class produces a new episode frequently, so check out the webpage for updates about school events! Anyone with coverage requests may also bring ideas to Mr. Van Buren or other Advanced TV and Studio Production students to be covered.

The Last Jedi: A Divided Galaxy Review

WARNING: This review contains spoilers – read at your own risk!

It has only been two years since The Force Awakens, and fans are again gearing up with Star Wars memorabilia, costumes, and of course, anticipation. The newest installation, The Last Jedi, has shocked and delighted many and I am not an exception to this. The Last Jedi continues the saga in surprising ways, and keep fans on their toes about Rey, Poe, Finn, and the fate of the galaxy.

Of course, the newest installation of the sequel trilogy is a visual wonder. It is studded with imposing spaceships, brilliant colors, and new planets. The entire film places a wider lens on the whole galaxy, exposing the viewer to worlds that have never been seen before. The action sequences are also quick, fast, and suspenseful. Shots of red and blue rain across the screen as the Rebellion fights the First Order, and it is quite a spectacle to behold. New aliens, namely the adorable Porgs, add a touch of humor to the drama of the entire tale. Furthermore, the music that accompanies these scenes is no joke either. Hauntingly familiar, it mirrors the original trilogy in fascinating ways while adding its own spin to the mix. While audiences may not hear the iconic Imperial March, they do hear Rey’s own motif winding throughout the movie and in climatic scenes. It is quiet and grand, and tells a tale of its own throughout the entire film.

One of the most anticipated parts of the film was arguably the reveal of Luke Skywalker twenty or so years after the original trilogy. In The Last Jedi, we are met with an old, tired Jedi master who has made mistakes that he could not take back. Guilt constantly prevents him from properly teaching Rey about the Force. Our young protagonist fervently seeks his guidance, but it only reveals the extent of her own power, which makes her a target for Supreme Leader Snoke. She is defiant, but no less unaware of who she is and what she holds inside of her. Though Rey was explored more in this film, it seems to have left audiences with more questions than answers. Finn and Poe are given their own separate adventures to branch off of. Finn gains a new friend, Rose, who accompanies him on a journey that hopefully can breach First Order starships. He does not interact much with Poe or Rey, having just recovered, but it is interesting to see how he develops more as a fighter for the Resistance rather than just a rogue stormtrooper.

Then we have Kylo Ren, formerly Ben Solo, with a fresh new scar and the conflict of Light and Dark still tearing him apart. We see Luke recount his spiral into the darkness, but he is arguably more powerful. He and Rey have a strange dynamic in these films that trumps the other trilogies in its ambiguity. It is not clear whether Ren or Rey will turn to the other side, as it tiptoes throughout the film. This is both muddling and clarifying: it offers a freshness to the sequel trilogy, but again opens another can of questions.

Poe Dameron still maintains his impulsive, driven nature, and embodies the spirit of the Resistance throughout the film. He shows new leadership and depth that was not explored in the previous films, and we get a taste of his relationship with Leia. She treats him as almost a son: admonishing, yet trusting to the highest degree. He is earnest throughout the film, which gives hope to the seemingly dismal circumstances that occur time and time again. The First Order is still after them, and seems to be one step ahead, but Poe insists that they are “the spark.” Contrast is clear, and it really cuts through the somewhat dark tones of the film. Of course, Poe’s companion BB-8 still continues to be funny, and his increased interaction with Finn and Rose certainly add to his character.

The Last Jedi, in all, is a film based on suspense. It asks “will they?” and “won’t they?” so many times, which can either confuse or drive you to the edge of your seat. But even with its harrowing and gripping scenes, it creates so many more questions. It seems almost unfinished in a sense, as you are left with the question of “how?” by the very end. The film’s subplots can seem a bit rocky at times, and Rey is still not quite as a developed character as one would like. This film, however, is the middleman to the beginning and end. It isn’t supposed to introduce grandly or conclude satisfyingly. It is just supposed to explain and connect, and The Last Jedi does a good job. It’s unfinished, but guides the viewer to understand how and why.

Anastasia, the Musical!

Students and chaperones pose after the show.

On December 1st, some of our students went on a school trip to see Anastasia on Broadway. This journey to the past was graciously organized by one of our Russian teachers, Mrs. Dobry.

“This was a fantastic and mature show that was good for high school students learning about the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution. I like how it left some the story to our imaginations,” she shared.

From the students excitedly singing on the school bus, to watching the amazing musical, to meeting cast members at the stage door after the show, the overall experience is one I will always remember.

The heartwarming musical was inspired by the 1997 animated film, and follows the story of Anya: a determined young woman with amnesia trying to find her family and herself. Set in the downfall of imperial Russia and the rise of communism, the rumor that the youngest Romanov princess, Anastasia, survived the Russian Revolution of 1917 brings hope to the resentful citizens of the new Communist government. Upon hearing about the generous reward the Dowager Empress in Paris is offering for the return of Anastasia, conmen Dmitry and Vlad launch a plan to find a girl to impersonate Anastasia so they can escape the economically grim country. After Anya, Dmitry, and Vlad cross paths, their adventure begins. They start traveling to Paris, with Anya training to act as an impostor but slowly discovering herself. Soon, as Anya finally comes face to face with her past; her limited confidence and her belief that she is truly Anastasia is tested with her life at stake. Enchantingly hopeful, the musical pulls the audience deeper into the remnants of imperial Russia, and expresses themes of self-identity and individual happiness.

Students Michelle Ma and Iandra Ramos meet Zach Adkins after the show.

Located in the Broadhurst Theater, the stage and costume designs of Anastasia are truly unique compared to any other show. The constantly rotating props, digital screens, and the light projections on the sides of the stage transport the audience to the ever-changing settings of the characters’ journey. Although some have argued that the digital screens hinder the musical from advancing beyond the animated movie, I think the screens and accompanying props tremendously helped to tell the story.

In a musical that emphasizes the importance of location and home, the set is a vital part of the performance. I can see the effort put into the art of location in each scene, from the moving train cart, to the cherry blossom park, to the ballet opera complete with booth seats for the actors. In addition, the costumes are precisely detailed, capturing the gorgeous grandness of imperial Russia, the militaristic style of Soviet workers, and the lively essence of 1920s Parisian nightclub fashion. At the end of the play, we could see that the nostalgic Anastasia is also a story of accepting modernization and change. 

The cast and band of Anastasia blew us away with their talent and Russian enthusiasm. Since the musical was inspired by the 1997 animated film, many of our students were familiar with the characters and excited to see their personalities further develop. Christy Altomare brought a sense of pained hope and innocence to the originally sarcastic and stubborn Anya. John Bolton shined with his persistent and humorous interpretation of Vlad. Zach Adkins, though being an understudy, wowed us with his selfless and loving portrayal of Dmitry. The musical also developed the Dowager Empress’s heartbreak more efficiently than the movie, and clarified the relationship between Vlad and Countess Lily in a more comedic way. A major adaptation from the movie was the replacement of the evil wizard Rasputin by the misunderstood Bolshevik general Gleb (Ramin Karimloo). Although the change emphasized that the villain was not one-dimensional, the complexity of Gleb’s underdeveloped character was difficult to notice in the beginning. Still, the play became more historically accurate and surprisingly unbiased with politics. The audience enjoyed classic songs from the movies, including the hauntingly pretty melody of “Once Upon a December,” and the hopeful “Journey to the Past.” With more than 20 new songs added to the original score, the new pieces are equally as catchy. We loved the patriotic undertone from “The Neva Flows,” the romantic plot of “A Crowd of Thousands,” and the euphorically wistful yet jazzy “Land of Yesterday.” I particularly loved “Quartet at the Ballet,” which was both visually and musically fascinating to watch. The composer combined the traditional Russian ballet, Swan Lake, with reprises of each Anastasia character’s theme song.

Although the historically real Anastasia was proven to have died in the Bolshevik takeover, the musical’s ending hinted at these facts and brought a beautiful meaning that will last with you for days. The musical has received some complaints of the plot being stale, and at some points confusing without background context. However, I think it is ideal for our generation, who loves the nostalgic children’s film but also recognizes the historical tension of the time. The musical was able to balance its whimsical and emotional elements to tell a story enriched with culture and history. The captivating legend of Anastasia lives on here, and I hope everyone can see this musical once upon a December!

Painting with a Punch!

Written by Pamela Stark

This past Saturday, Mrs. Sanguinedo and Mrs. Sokolovski of Staten Island Technical High School coordinated Tech’s first ever “Painting with a Punch” event. As a partnership between the school and the arts program at Sundog Theatre, “Painting with a Punch” brought together students, parents, and faculty alike in an evening full of laughs, food, painting, and, of course, punch.

“These kinds of events are becoming more and more popular,” commented Mrs. Sokolovski, the advisor of the Art Club and one of the event organizers, “You spend time with friends and loved ones, and at the end, you get to take home a beautiful painting to serve as a memory or a gift.”

Indeed, the spirits at Tech’s painting extravaganza were high: the cafeteria was filled with joyous chatter as the guests, sipping on their hot chocolate, attempted to recreate a winter wonderland scene with the direction of Samuel Vega. A look at the works of art, despite the similar subject matter, revealed very distinct scenes and art styles. One student’s painting featured a lime green sky contrasting a foreground of vivid blue pines. When asked to comment on her painting, she replied, “Something went very wrong.”

 

A unique illustration – Photo Credits: Pamela Stark

But, as in the words of Victoria Colella, the Arts and Education Manager at Sundog Theatre, there is no right way to art.

“Art really allows you to tap into your creative side,” Victoria explained, referring to the dozens of unique works-in-progress. “It is entirely subjective. It looks like how you want it to look- there is no right or wrong.”

It is with this mindset that the original founders of Sundog Theatre created their nonprofit organization. Their purpose? To bring art in all forms to the schools of Staten Island. Sundog Theatre provides enrichment programs in dance, theater, playwriting, and the fine arts to schools all over the island. As stated by Samuel Vega, their program attempts to rejuvenate the art scene and keep people involved in art.

“Events like this are important because access to art isn’t as widespread as it once was,” noted Vega. “We are trying to keep people involved and passionate about the arts. We want people to enrich themselves and pursue more creative endeavors in their life.”

Beyond providing the participants with a way to tap into their creative side, the event functioned as a fundraiser for Staten Island Tech’s Art Club. Over the last couple of years, the art program has lost some of its funding. Previously, the after school art program in Tech was able to welcome a professional artist to provide instruction for the members of the program. This year, however, the program lost its grant for a teaching artist.

“We’re doing all we can to bring back the program to Staten Island Tech,” explains Mrs. Sanguinedo. “Between this event and the Bake Sale later this year, we’re hoping that we will be able to reintroduce this essential part of the program.”

Thankfully, the evening ends in high hopes for the Art Club, as “Painting with a Punch” seems to have been wildly successful. As the event draws to a close, people come together to admire each other’s work and to take pictures with one another. It is evident that the evening’s experiences will long be engraved in the minds of all those who attended.

The Sundog Theatre representatives – Photo Courtesy of Pamela Stark

Mrs. Sokolovski comments: “I am incredibly happy with how the event turned out, and I hope we are able to bring it back next year. This has been an amazing experience for everyone, and I hope it brings more people to our Art Club meetings after school.”

For more information about the art program at Tech, contact Mrs. Sanguinedo and Mrs. Sokolovski. For more information about Sundog Theatre and their programs, visit www.sundogtheatre.org.