Hosted by Niall McDonald '18 and Charlie Hansen '18
Produced and edited by Alexandre LaBossiere '18
By Kubair Chuchra '18
Academics, athletics, and the arts. In the classroom, on the fields, and on the stage. Scholar, athlete, and artist. In chapel talks, assemblies, and everyday conversations, members of the Saint Albans community use variations of these phrases to describe the three areas of interest in which an ideal, well-rounded Saint Albans student should excel in. However, of these three qualities, our school, from a curriculum standpoint, seems to focus less on the arts. Here are three proposals on how to fix that:
Proposal One: Double the arts requirement.
Currently, a Saint Albans student can fulfill their one credit arts requirement by participating in two semesters of an ensemble, two semesters of an art or acting class, or completing 100 hours of work with the Thespian Society. Personally, I don’t think this requirement is big enough. For a school that prides itself in academic, athletic, AND artistic achievements, it's embarrassing that our students only need one arts credit in comparison to nineteen academic credits and eleven athletic seasons in order to graduate. Accordingly, I propose that our school doubles its arts requirement. Doing so will further encourage students to explore and develop their creativity. Though some students may complain about this increased requirement making their already packed days even busier, they can turn to dozens, if not hundreds, of their peers already going over and above the current arts requirement to figure out how to fit the extra hours into their schedule.
Proposal Two: Diversify the arts requirement.
A Saint Albans student can currently fulfill their arts requirement through participation in one single type of art (i.e. chorale, visual art, theater). In the interest of exposing students to a variety of forms of art, I propose that Saint Albans require its students to gain their arts credits through participation in two of the following three disciplines: visual art (any art class at sta/ncs), drama (any school production or acting class), and music (orchestra, jazz band, and chorale).
Proposal Three: Offer art during ensembles
For any student not in orchestra or chorale, the block schedule’s built in ensembles periods offer several hours of unstructured free time throughout the school week. Though some students may use this time well, many students, who are not interested in chorale or orchestra, could benefit from using it to fulfill their arts requirements. Offering an art class during ensemble would help solve this problem. Moreover, it would give many students the option to take a visual art without the burden of a sixth class. Adding an ensembles art period would also help alleviate the problem of kids who are not interested in singing joining chorale for the sake of getting an arts credit; instead, they would join ensembles art.
In order to meet the same amount of time as a normal, semester-long art class, an ensemble art class would have to meet during three out four ensemble periods in a cycle for an entire school year. This would total to around 57 hours of class time throughout the school year, just three hours shy of the 60 hours a normal class meets during a semester.
By Max Niles ‘18
Doctors, lawyers, presidential candidates—our schools seem to produce leaders in every field. But what about in the arts? Here’s a list of NCS and STA alumni making an impact in the world of performing arts:
Jeffrey Wright, STA class of 1983, has made his presence known in theater, movies, and TV over the past twenty years. He started on some off-broadway plays before winning the Tony for Best Featured Actor as “Belize” in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Since then, Wright has transitioned to movies and tv, starring as Jean-Michel Basquiat in Basquiat, acting in two James Bond movies, and playing Beetee in The Hunger Games series. Now, Wright plays Bernard Lowe on the hit HBO series Westworld.
Trish Sie NCS ‘90 comes from an artistic family, as her brother, Damian Kulash, is the lead singer of the band Ok Go. Sie has teamed up with her brother to direct many of the OK Go music videos. She has also directed Step Up: All In and most recently, Pitch Perfect 3.
The other half of the sibling duo, Damian Kulash STA ‘94, is the lead singer of OK Go, a rock band typically known for their unique music videos. Kulash is also known for his support of net neutrality and even testified in support of the issue in congress.
Brandon Victor Dixon:
Judas Iscariot. Aaron Burr. These are Brandon Victor Dixon’s STA ‘99 most famous roles, as he played Judas in the live version of Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC this year, and took over as Burr after Leslie Odom Jr. left Hamilton. Dixon has an illustrious Broadway career, as he has acted in The Color Purple, The Scottsboro Boys, Motown: The Musical, Shuffle Along, Of Mice and Men, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He also recently became a series regular on the Starz show, Power.
Robin Witt NCS ‘78 is a theater actor and director. She is a member of both the Griffin Theatre and Steep Theatre in Chicago. Witt is also an associate professor of Directing at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
By Bo Moukdarath ‘19
The Dance Gala program provides students with an exciting opportunity to choreograph any type of dance, whether it be a duet, trio, or group number. Shortly after winter sports come to an end, Dance Gala auditions begin. Students from both St. Albans and NCS can audition for the couples’ dance, jazz dance, and modern dance. During auditions, student choreographers fill out forms letting the dance director know what song is chosen for each dance, how many people will be in the dance number, and will discuss with the director in order to figure out studio availability..
Since the start of freshman year, I have been choreographing duets with experienced dancers, and this year I had the opportunity to choreograph in coordination with a good friend for the third time around. We had the chance to do a tap solo choreographed by a professional at the Catholic University of America. Given only a month and few weeks before the final performance, student choreographers work on choreography twice a week, forming a unique and creative dance number for the show.
Choreographing with a duet partner for the past three years taught me the skill and patience needed to put a dance together. First, my partner and I choose a song fitted for the mood and story our dance would unveil. Next, I cut the music to our liking; then it’s straight to rehearsals. A choreographer may have brilliant ideas for a new work. However, translating this imagination into dancers' bodies and shaping it into a dance that is ready to be performed is a very challenging, yet equally rewarding, process. For most choreographers, making dance is a passion. To be completely honest, my dance partner and I have faced "dancer's block" multiple times and it can be frustrating at times. Choreographing different dance moves for every second of a song can be difficult, but it's fun when you put your mind and motivation to create something no one has seen before.
However, if a student decides to choreograph a dance, there is a trial called "Student Choreography Adjudication,” a process in which the director and a dance teacher determine whether the dance is allowed in the final program or not. Usually, the majority of dances are approved, and once the dance is revealed, the director gives notes and ideas on how to improve and perfect it for the final show. Besides adjudication, student choreographers are given the chance to choose appropriate costumes and backdrop for the performance.
At the final show, my duet partner and were are ecstatic and grateful to be performing a piece we've worked so hard on. With the addition of costumes, lights, and music, we were content with our dance number, and we could not have come this far without our knowledge of dance and working together—not just as dancers, but good friends. It is truly rewarding recognizing hard work that pays off. Friends and family members exuding a roaring applause at the end comes to show how much they enjoyed the piece. Seeing the audience entertained by the contemporary dance piece holds a special place in my heart knowing that as a dancer, I can make someone smile by just doing what I love most.
By Raj Sastry '20
For the first time in St. Albans’ history, a team of Form IV students has won the Euro Challenge nationwide competition. The contest, sponsored and organized by the European Union, was founded in 2006 to introduce America’s talented youth to the EU—specifically the socioeconomic challenges that its member nations face. The EU consists of twenty-eight member nations, nineteen of which are joined in monetary union (sharing the Euro as their single currency). This year, the St. Albans team chose the overarching topic of Living with a Single Monetary Policy, and selected Spain as their focus country. At the heart of the team’s presentation was the concept that while in theory a tariff-free sector and a stable currency should mean zone-wide prosperity, some key challenges hold back individual member nations. These challenges stem from the inability to pursue country-specific interest rate policy, and to devalue currency for economic stimulus, policies controlled by the European Central Bank (ECB), rather than national central banks.
After the 2008 financial crisis, the ECB employed several corrective measures designed to aid in the recovery of struggling member nations. Now, 10 years later, countries like Germany have rebounded, sporting some of the strongest economies worldwide. Others, though, haven’t seen such momentous growth. Spain, for example, still lags far behind other EU nations in a host of metrics. This imbalance is especially concerning as the ECB begins to scale back the expansionary policy which, for many countries, has been successful. However, nations like Spain still need these provisions to continue their slower recovery. So, the ECB faces a dilemma: continue to scale back expansionary policy to avoid inflation in strong Eurozone economies or keep them in place to help countries in their slower recovery.
They chose the former, announcing scale backs of expansionary policy a few weeks before the preliminary round. These changes, therefore, mean that it becomes Spain‘s responsibility to use the tools it has to neutralize problems it faces—namely high unemployment and low productivity, not to mention significant budget deficits and unmanageable public debt. After researching for hours, pouring through data, and designing a slideshow, our team—advised by Mr. Ted Eagles ‘54—theorized viable policy proposals and presented our findings through video conference to judges, all of whom were distinguished economists and diplomats.120 teams, broken down into regional subcategories—STA faced competition from DC, Maryland, and Virginia—were whittled down to 25 semifinalists. The semifinal and final rounds took place in New York City, at a satellite location of the Federal Reserve of New York and the main building, respectively.
We had roughly three weeks to refine the script, memorize, and make an even more detailed slideshow. Though time was limited, the team—consisting of Matthew Chalk ‘20, Nolan Musslewhite ‘20, myself, and Constantine Tsibouris ‘20, as well as Mark MacGuidwin ‘20 and Yash Somaiya ‘20 who were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts—left for New York on April 25th. In the past, St. Albans teams made it to the semifinal round—meaning they, too, received an all-expenses-paid trip to New York. However, they never progressed past the semi-final found. Naturally, then, we didn’t have high hopes for our study.
The morning of April 26th, we walked from our lodging at the Milenium Hilton—no, that’s not a typo, Hilton misspelled it on purpose—to 33 Maiden Lane, a Federal Reserve office building where our presentation would be observed and questioned by world-class economists, bankers, and journalists. After pleasantries were exchanged and light breakfast consumed, we were brought back to a medium-sized room with a conference table. We sat merely three feet away from the judges. The presentation went remarkably smoothly, as did the Q and A session. The judges actually seemed interested in our policy proposals, and seemed to especially enjoy our slides. Still, we walked out of the room thinking that the other teams probably were just as good if not better.
We were not due back to the official Federal Reserve Bank for some time—lunch was to be served for all teams, then the finalists announced—so we had some time to explore the city. Thanks to Mr. Eagles and Mr. Carlos Larreategui ‘12—employed at J.P. Morgan Asset Management—we were given an exclusive tour of the New York Stock Exchange floor, a space off-limits to the general public. Mr. Pete Castelli, a broker on the floor and friend of Mr. Larreategui, showed us the ropes with some real-life trading orders. Needless to say, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Finding our way from Wall Street to the Federal Reserve Bank was simple enough, and before we knew it, we were listening to a series of long speeches given by diplomats about the EU—after all, we were a captive audience. Finally, the five finalist teams were announced. We were—to our excitement—selected, presenting second of the five teams. After some brief celebrating, we ran the script one more time, and about a half an hour later, we gave our thoughts on Spain‘s challenges under the single monetary policy and our policy solutions to alleviate them. The judges were much more reserved, showing no noticeable signs of like or dislike, approval or disapproval. We were clueless as to who would win what place. Nevertheless, we were happy to get that far.
After a quick walk to the hotel to pick up our luggage, we made our way to the headquarters of Moody’s Financial, who provided monetary support for transportation and cash prizes. After more speeches—one was by the EU ambassador to the US—the final rankings were finally revealed: we had won first place. Our group of four people—everybody else had five members—had managed to win. Sometime in June, we’ll receive our cash prize ($1250 per person) and a free trip to, of all places, Washington DC. Thanks to Mr. Eagles, Dr. Chalk, Dr. Tsibouris, and Mr. Ethan Goebel for their invaluable support and guidance in this enterprise. Though previous years haven’t been quite as successful, it is clear, then, that the future of the St. Albans Euro Challenge program looks bright.
By Brandon Torng '20
The Bulldogs had an action packed week featuring a series with Bullis and two other non conference matchups. Last Tuesday, the team went out to Bullis, winning by a score of 13-3. Scoring 9 runs in the first two innings, STA came out strong and never looked back. Lead by strong pitching performances by seniors James Howe and Zach Shauer, the Bulldogs were able to extend their winning streak to 4 games. Unfortunately, the Dogs suffered a loss the following day to Lake Braddock, a team just out of the top 10 in the Washington Post’s latest baseball rankings. With the score tied up at 1-1 going into the top of the eighth inning, Lake Braddock’s leadoff hitter hit a solo homerun, giving them the lead. The Bruins would tack on another run in the top of the eighth, before shutting out the Bulldogs in the bottom half to secure a 3-1 victory. After losing another close matchup to Bullis on Thursday, the Bulldogs were back in action on Saturday with a non-conference game against Langley. The Bulldogs won comfortably by a score of 6-1, giving them a 2-2 record for the week.
The Bulldogs are now 5-3 in IAC play, following their split with Bullis. Upcoming is a series against St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, where the team aims to finish out the season on a high note and end up at 7-3, putting them in a strong position to receive a first round bye in the playoffs.
By Yash Somaiya '20
After a year full of designing, coding, and building, the STA Robotics team concluded their strong season, which included a D.C. state championship, with a trip to Louisville, KY for the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship. The team, comprised of Sam Slack ‘18, Ian Chang ‘19, Alex Ghorbani ‘19, Liam Chalk ‘19, Yash Somaiya ‘20, Luc Harbers ‘21, and Damian Hackett ‘21, and coach Dr. O’Brien, took an early-morning flight to Louisville on Wednesday to kick off the four-day long tournament with over 600 other teams from 39 countries and all 50 states. The STA robot quickly became known to its opponents as a defensive nuisance, including one match where our robot, called “Bringing Vexy Back”, held our division’s #1 seed scoreless. Another team admitted to us after a match that our defense “rattled them.” Overall, the team finished 3-7 in its matches, improving upon last year’s record at Worlds. Additionally, the team enjoyed the city of Louisville, its delicious food (especially the famous Kentucky Hot Browns and the extremely spicy “Gonzo” chicken made with ghost peppers), and each other’s company. Now, the team is optimistic for next year and is confident that we will improve, especially with such a young team. More about our trip can be found on our Robotics team blog.
By Nina Davy ‘21
In our game on Wednesday, against St. John Paul the Great, CVL had a well deserved win! We came out strong scoring 4 goals in the first 5 minutes, but devastatingly lost Cooper Garret, one of our starting midfielders, to a broken wrist. Despite this setback, we maintained the momentum, and lead the half 12-6. Our motivating half time talk reminded us to stay mentally tough and to keep the game under our control. We entered the second half even stronger, possessing the ball almost the whole time on the offensive end. Meanwhile, our defense with Lily Keller in goal held St. John Paul to zero goals the half. CVL scored 8 additional goals after half time, leaving the score as 20-6, Cathedral; it was a good win to prepare us for the match against GDS the next day. With the season coming to an end in the next month, we’d love to see more NCS and STA students get out to our games!
By Margaret Downing ‘19
The One Acts Festival is a series of short, student-directed, one-act plays that are presented in NCS’s Lower School assembly room every spring. This year, our wonderful directors each directed their own short and hilarious plays ranging from 5 to 25 minutes each, with casts of students ranging from seasoned thespians to first-time actors. This also marks the first time that the acting assistant stage manager of the school year (in this case, me) starts calling sound and light cues, while the other assistant stage manager, Hadley Pade ‘20, gets an idea of what it will be like backstage alone. (Notice: Hadley Pade is not “deck crew” or someone who “helps with stuff backstage,” contrary to popular belief). One Acts is a time for students to try their hand at something new, either on or off stage, and for one last low-key performance before the school year wraps up.
Dating isn’t always fun, especially when your date is social-media-obsessed, a fake linguist, or the star of TLC’s Sister Wives. Check Please: Take 2, directed by Jake Duffy ‘18, follows “Guy” and “Girl” on a series of dates ranging from awkward, to horrible. This hilarious series of failed first dates couldn’t have done a better job starting off the festival.
Squad Goals, directed by Katharine Boasberg ‘18, follows the two crazy coaches of a non-traditional basketball team as they search for the perfect new team member: one who has heart, can pose for posters, that no one believes in, plays through an injury, gives an inspirational halftime speech, has a tragic backstory, plays in slow motion, and… is a dog? Coach Weebly is hilariously infatuated with narcissistic Coach Morrison as they continuously reject player after player. Will they ever find a 5th team member? (Spoiler: they do).
The Working Title, written and directed by Zack Martin ‘18 is a satire of the theater, as the inexperienced director and playwright struggles to keep his fed-up actors from abandoning his efforts to put on his horrible play with “no plot or direction.” Atrocious directing, crazy costumes, and almost-too-awkward pauses fill Zack’s original play, as the director frantically attempts keep the show as tightly as his Lululemon leggings.
The Restaurant Sketch, directed by Jonathan Rufino ‘18, is a short, but sweet, play, lasting only 5 minutes, that follows a couple into a nice restaurant—three stars—with one complication: a dirty fork. After hell breaks loose, all I can say is: it’s a good thing they didn’t mention the dirty knife.
Break-ups suck, but what's worse is the timeless excuse: It’s Not You, It’s Me. Mady Jones ‘18 directed this ridiculous series of break-ups that were both guiltily hilarious and cringe-worthy. Whether the real reason is that your significant other can see into your miserable future, is a pathological liar, got a tattoo of your full name, or isn’t as funny as Preston, you’ll be glad that it isn’t you on the receiving end.
Romeo and Juliet is a classic play, and almost impossible to mess up, unless you have a series of ridiculously Bad Auditions By Bad Actors (directed by Anna Youngkin ‘18). A casting director and her assistant struggle to come up with a actors for the roles of Romeo and Juliet. They see auditions from an actress with an inTEnSE acTiNG coACh, a hypermasculine guy who “just picked up a script,” a woman who just doesn’t know what to do with her hands, a method actor taking it to the extreme, and guy who just really likes the DiCaprio version. Who knew that the casting process could be so hard?