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Denebola » Sandy Shen http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 Overbooked classes make a tougher learning environment http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/overbooked-classes-make-a-tougher-learning-environment/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/overbooked-classes-make-a-tougher-learning-environment/#comments Thu, 30 Sep 2010 10:03:21 +0000 Sandy Shen http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4715 It’s the first day of school and I walk into my math classroom, glancing around to see which of my friends are with me.
I’m happy to see a group of them sitting in the far corner, and I approach them with a grin. The bell rings, and what seem like the final few students come filing in, filling the remaining seats.
Our teacher begins his lecture to a full classroom of students, assuming that the entire class is present; however, five minutes into the lecture, a bunch of students who were either lost or let out late from the class before come filing in.
Due to the lack of desks, people had to pile themselves on top of the radiator, or on the ground in the back of the room.
My psychology class was no different. There were at least five more people than desks in the classroom.
The same goes for my physics class as well as my literature class, which, at an average-sounding 23 people, is grossly overwhelming for an English class.
As a senior who is taking multiple AP courses, I find that many of my classes, due to a combination of budget cuts and high class demand, are immensely overbooked.
This, in conjunction with the level of challenge that many AP classes provide, results in an increased difficulty for students to learn, simply because of the decreased one-on-one time each teacher has with his or her students.
Obviously, the greater the student-teacher ratio, the lower quality of education a student receives.
For students pursuing a class at an AP level, this is completely backwards logic, since, assumedly, most of them will want to be learning the most they can.
For the school to inhibit that, by overbooking the classes instead of distributing more teachers over the hardest course levels, this will only hinder the students’ education.
To solve this problem, the school should start restricting class sizes at a lower number, because cramming 30 students into a BC Calculus class only lowers the efficiency of the entire class, whereas a class with maybe 25 students maximum would run infinitely more smoothly.
The catch is, of course, that five fewer students would not receive the education at all. However, I think when weighing cost against benefit, having 30 students receive a slightly mediocre education is definitely worse than having 25 students receive an excellent one.

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Opposing Viewpoints: North benefits the city http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/opposing-viewpoints-north-benefits-the-city/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/opposing-viewpoints-north-benefits-the-city/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 08:09:53 +0000 Sandy Shen http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4498 197.5 million dollars. Almost one-fifth of a billion dollars have been spent on the reconstruction of Newton North High School. Is it worth it? Yes indeed.

The new building may be, indeed, a little excessive, but it provides solutions for many of the problems with the old school. Not only was the building extremely decrepit and run-down, but there were huge issues with energy efficiency. The HVAC system never worked well. The temperature fluctuations in between adjacent rooms could be compared to the differences of that between deserts and the arctic tundra.

Also, the basic design and layout was not conductive to optimal learning; the odd turns and disorganization within the corridors provided an environment that was detrimental to the fundamental needs of a normal high school.

North has, for a very long time, needed to be replaced. The first building was established in 1898, over 100 years ago, and has received little care or modification since.

In contrast, South was only opened in 1960, and has already been renovated once since then. The construction of the new North building is a welcome and much needed improvement to the dilapidated, crumbling old building. It features a brand new pool, an environmentally friendly energy system, and a trendy zigzagged architectural plan.

It plans on making every classroom accessible to natural light, and also features a two-level auditorium with carpeted seating and a balcony. Additionally, the main entrance will still be located on Walnut Street, but will be more extravagant and impressive.

While the features seem to be a tremendous misuse of much needed school funding, the money saved from the new energy-efficient features will more than make up for the spending in 50 years or less. The all-brick exterior provides more insulation, which saves money on heating and air conditioning and the energy efficient lighting will save additional thousands per year.

More so than the practical use of citizens’ taxes, however, comes a sense of pride and accomplishment at creating literally the most expensive high school in Massachusetts. North will be known throughout Massachusetts as one of the most architecturally creative and technologically forward high schools in New England.

The North students have, for too long, undeniably been using the city’s worse school in terms of building condition. The students deserve to get an upgrade, both for the sake of comfort and educational practicality. The new building provides a much better learning environment, and will be surrounded with newer, more usable athletic facilities. The overall result of the increased academic and athletic stimulation will lead to students achieving more, and an overall rise in Newton’s academic reputation.

The reconstruction of North was inevitable. The old building was much too horrid to continue using. As long as the school was going to be rebuilt (the School Committee determined that it would cost even more to continue to renovate it over a series of years), the best option would be to go all-out and spend millions at once. The school is a great investment for the future, and utilizes the latest technology in energy use, saving the city thousands of thousands of dollars as the years go on.

Now that the construction is pretty much over, one can see that the new school is truly impressive, and a worthwhile use of the city’s somewhat lacking funds.

While the reconstruction is currently extremely controversial, in a few years all of the complaints will completely blow over, and people will merely appreciate the resplendence of the new North building. After all, it is pretty awesome. To be honest, many of us South students are just jealous of it.

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College industry knows perfectly well just how to make the big bucks http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/college-industry-knows-perfectly-well-just-how-to-make-the-big-bucks/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/college-industry-knows-perfectly-well-just-how-to-make-the-big-bucks/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 08:00:12 +0000 Sandy Shen http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4514 At some point of our lives, most of us will spend days and weeks stressing over a Barron’s or a Princeton Review SAT book.

These same people will most likely take AP tests, along with various SAT I’s and II’s. The most dedicated of them will probably sign up for courses at Chyten or Princeton review, taking hours out of their schedules and thousands out of their wallets to prepare them for the utterly most important thing in life: college.

The college preparation industry (and yes, it is an industry at this point) salvages money out of students’ and parents of students’ innermost fears. For high school juniors and seniors, the most intimidating prospect in the near future is getting into college.

And for students all across America, shockingly not only in Newton, being ready for college and thus having the grades, AP scores, and SAT scores to be admitted into a school is very important.

For companies such as the College Board, those fears are just much too convenient.

The College Board provides various review books and tutoring programs to prepare students for tests that help determine the colleges they will be accepted into.

What’s better is that these tests, of course, they themselves create. On top of it all, students must pay to even take these tests.

The College Board has created a monopoly. In fact, I would even go as far to say they have created vertical integration, which happens to be a little something I learned while preparing for one of these tests.

I have to hand it them – whoever thought up the whole idea is an absolute genius.

I can just picture the dark, velvet-draped silhouette, smoking a cigar in front of the fireplace and chuckling about all the money in his or her bank account.

Honestly, we as consumers are getting millions of dollars per year sucked out of our pockets. Did you know that it costs $89 to take one AP test? Wtf?

Hey, I get that the rainforest is shrinking and everything, and that there is a service fee for those poor, unfortunate essay graders, but I seriously doubt my five-page test booklet racks up $89 in costs.

And what’s funnier is that $89 only goes to one test. If you are a student that takes multiple Advanced Placement classes, let’s just say you could have spent that money insteadbuying a lot of SAT and AP review books.

If you enroll in five AP classes and choose to take all of them, you have to pay $445.

And no, if you’re wondering, there is no volume discount. The price you pay is simply $89 x (number of AP tests you are taking.) How unfortunate, right?

Addtionally, SATs and SAT II’s take about $47 and $21, respectively, out of your bank account.

If you take just two APs and two SAT IIs in one year, along with the SAT I’s, your fees are already up to $267, and that doesn’t include review books or tutoring. Many students will spend an average of $2000 on tutoring, and books can cost up to $30 each
Of course, to an individual, such amounts of money will seem but a small investment for a promising future, and indeed, it probably is.

However, the problem seems to be that people are frantically preparing for a test created by the officials who are supposedly preparing us in the first place.

Phrased differently, these geniuses are “creating a problem, and then selling us a solution, in the words of Ms. Marder.

Would you be studying for the stupid SATs if it didn’t exist? Of course not.

But you can thank the College Board for all the grief you’re going to feel during that whole process.

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The unnecessary loss of one’s AP virginity http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/05/21/the-unnecessary-loss-of-ones-ap-virginity/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/05/21/the-unnecessary-loss-of-ones-ap-virginity/#comments Fri, 21 May 2010 09:00:50 +0000 Sandy Shen http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4280 There’s a slight familiarity to it all: the smell of freshly sharpened number two pencils, the clamor of students frantically cramming every last bit of information into their minds, and the anticipation in the air of the horrifying task before us.

Sure, we’ve all done it; in Massachusetts, many of us have to take a rigorous standardized test about once every two years. However, this one is quite another matter. This test, the Advanced Placement Exam administered by the intimidating College Board, matters even more than the MCAS does.

Not only would doing well help boost your college applications a slight amount, but passing would mean a chance of not having to take the course in college. Forget that many colleges don’t even let you transfer AP credit, rendering the test a complete waste of three to four hours of your life.

The truth is, kids, AP tests are much more hyped up than they should be. They are merely another cobblestone on your path to success. However, they are stones that can very easily be sidestepped, rather than stepped over.

Don’t get me wrong, now. I’m not saying you should walk into the test completely unprepared. I mean, I know I spent many a sleepless night stressing over my textbook, cramming as much info as I could (by which I mean laughing in front my computer, watching as many movies as I could).

Really, how can you not take a test seriously when a three out of five garners a passing grade, and a national scale causes about a 30 out of 100 to be worth a three. In fact, for the Biology AP in particular, a raw score of 61 out of 100 earns you the highest score of five.

That’s less than two-thirds of the information correct, and you get effectively 100 percent. Granted, these statistics fluctuate every year, but they do not stray too much in either direction.

I won’t pretend that I completely winged this test. It’s actually quite hilarious how early I woke up on a Saturday to study biology the weekend before (Haha. Ha). I’m just telling you what you all probably want to hear.

You don’t need to know nearly as much as you think you do to successfully BS your way through your APs, and you definitely don’t need to pull two successive all-nighters to study for them. Not that I did that, or anything.

Still not convinced? Still think that you’re going to earn yourself the fated three instead of a full-on five? You should know that a friend of mine, who must remain anonymous, applied to Harvard with two threes as scores on the only two AP tests he took in all of high school.

Guess what? He got in.

And finally, because I feel it’s my duty to inform any people who are not avid overachievers that their futures are still intact, obviously you don’t need to go to Harvard to have an amazing life.

Moreover, you probably don’t even need to take a single AP to have an amazing life. And if you do take one, just stop thinking about it afterwards. Who cares if you get a three? Who even cares if you get a one? Your life will be just fine, I promise.

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Students should take advantage of SafeRides http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/students-should-take-advantage-of-saferides/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/students-should-take-advantage-of-saferides/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 06:24:01 +0000 Sandy Shen http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4078 The night is winding down, and you just had an amazing time at your best friend’s party. But let’s face it, sometimes at parties you don’t just drink chocolate milk and play monopoly. You have to admit that you and the people you came with all had a tiny bit too much to drink – and not of chocolate milk. You haven’t chosen a designated driver because, really, who actually does that? Is it worth the risk for one of you to drive home? At South, we have a better option: a program called Safe Rides.

Safe Rides is a taxi system that allows a student who does not trust his or her own driving capabilities to get a free ride home. On the night of a party, when students are too intoxicated to operate their own vehicles, they may call a cab and get a free ride home.

Despite having been around for two years, few people have heard of it or know how it works. A student may sign a consent form that puts him or her in the trust of a taxi company and then will be allowed to call a cab whenever her or she is in a situation where his or her own driving capabilities are impaired.

The program is completely free for students. There is literally nothing to lose from it. “Everyone should sign up. It is completely free; all you need is a signature, senior and member of the staff Stephi Dworkin said.

The website boasts, “Safe Rides is designed to give teens a free, safe ride in circumstances when they may feel unsafe and need a way home. Safe Rides is an amazing alternative to driving home drunk, and can be utilized to prevent accidents and bad situations. The program, developed by the city of Newton, utilizes taxi drivers who have passed criminal background checks and are trained in CPR to drive students home on Friday and Saturday nights between 10:30 and 3:00 am.

Although this program is a great opportunity, students at South are failing to take advantage of it. The staff is “getting more people to sign up, but it’s not yet as big as it should be. We are working to expand it even more, Dworkin said.

Out of 20 south students asked about Safe Rides, none had signed up, and only a handful of people even knew anyone who had. Many students refuse to sign up because they feel that they are responsible enough not to get caught in a situation where the program would be necessary. Others feel embarrassed about taking part.

“I think it’s a good concept, but I just don’t know a lot of people (if any) that actually signed up for it, senior Matt Ma said. “I think the part where you have to get parent’s permission might be the deal breaker. Not many kids will go up to a parent and say, ‘Ëœhey can you sign this so I can drink at my friend’s house and not worry about getting home?’ Some students have never even heard about the program.

It should be a large concern that so few people are using this program to their benefit. Whether it’s because of social pressures or because of ineffective advertising, we cannot be sure. However, the more people sign up for Safe Rides, the more the program can help prevent accidents and make the school a safer community.

Merely having the program does nothing but provide an opportunity for people to make a back-up plan after getting wasted at serious parties. Only when people actually sign up and take the opportunity will it be a successful solution to a dangerous problem.

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The problems and pains of Semi http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/the-problems-and-pains-of-semi/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/the-problems-and-pains-of-semi/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 06:23:06 +0000 Brittany Bishop http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4082 It’s that time of year again. The trees are budding, the birds are singing, and people are scrambling madly to find a semi date.

Even two entire months before the annual event, most of the junior class is already suffering from pre-semi anxiety. What dress should I buy? How will I pay for the ticket? And most of all: Who. Will. I. Go. With?

Whispers of “do you have a date? and “who are YOU going with? fill the air as Semi swiftly approaches.

Although you can easily buy a ticket without a date, people are either relieved that they obtained one before that fateful increase in ticket prices or, for the unfortunate others, stuck with the burden of paying ridiculous amounts of more money, a whopping eleven dollars.

While students strive to find the “perfect date, most settle for close friends or just that random guy from math class.

You know the one: the strange kid who cheats off you and cracks weird jokes. Or maybe even the girl from North that you don’t know at all. Or in a rare instance, the convict. And despite the supposed chemistry between the couple, most of the time, they’re just friends.

Now that the most important factor is decided, there is always the dress, the shoes, the nails, and, of course, the hair. For guys, it’s easy.

All they have to get is a suit, and as long as he matches his date with corsage and tie, he won’t get murdered (just kidding, really¦ we won’t destroy you).

But honestly, if a girl suggests that a guy dress a certain way, he should agree (as long as it’s reasonable). A simple red tie and white corsage won’t kill you.

While we understand that guys are probably feeling a ton of pressure right now as well, they all must pall in comparison to the worries we face. We have to be careful in choosing either flats or heels –while universally flattering heels are clearly the way to go (they tighten your butt, lengthen your legs, and tone your calves), god forbid that you wind up taller than your date.

Also, the pressures of finding the most flattering dress is more than any of the opposite sex can comprehend. There’s the length, the color, and the style.

And sometimes, the perfect dress is completely sold out online, except for size 17. What a bummer. And finally, if you happen to go to semi with a certain senior, you might get some honesty box threats.

And what’s next after all of this craziness? The ride, the group, and the pictures.

Guys and girls seem to differ greatly when it comes down to these final concerns.

From what we’ve heard, girls want to go with their best friends. But what if their dates aren’t friends? Will it be awkward or a complete mess? Do the guys really care at all? It doesn’t really matter though because the guys will be forced to go anyways.

To be frank, girls only want pictures so that they can show off their date and dress, create a new Facebook photo album, and spend the next 48 hours stalking everyone else’s pictures.

By the end of the weekend, we’ll probably have seen at least 1,000 photos from semi alone, maybe more.

Soon enough, Semi will be here, filled with its bar and bat-mitzvah party glory (minus the games), and once you find that lucky someone and everything comes together, it hits you. The hardest part of your junior year is over. So, how about those SATs?

Get at me.

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Spirit outfits transcend sports teams http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/spirit-outfits-transcend-sports-teams/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/spirit-outfits-transcend-sports-teams/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 07:39:16 +0000 Bianca Ho http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2940 The following has been observed at some point by most South students: a person walking down the hall, dressed in something along the lines of a pink tutu, a crocodile mask, and thigh-high polka dotted socks. This sight is merely passed off however as, “Oh, it’s (insert show or sport here) spirit today.

The concept behind spirit isn’t apparent at first. Why on earth would dressing up eccentrically on the day of a game help the team’s performance?

Wouldn’t the crazy outfits only embarrass some students and actually decrease their performance level? Some shows and teams keep it pretty low-key for spirit, but usually South seems to be a world of weird and quirky spirits.

However, spirit is a great way to make a group feel united during the school day. When everyone on a show or team goes all-out to dress in outrageous ’80s clothing or hippie attire, members feel like, somehow, they’re presenting themselves as a cohesive front even offstage or the field.

Junior Jocelin Weiss is especially enthusiastic about the idea. For theatre kids, spirit is even a way of promoting a show. “It really helps ticket sales, because in class, people are like: ‘Ëœwhy are you wearing a fancy dress/pajamas/etc. at school? she said.

This sort of inquiry spreads knowledge of shows, sometimes faster than any poster in a hallway. Weiss also loves to use spirit as a way to express herself. “I can’t speak for everyone, but a lot of the kids I’ve been in shows with like to target that love for self-expression and creativity into dressing themselves up in crazy things you’d never usually wear to school, she said.

Junior Melanie Rucinski appreciates how spirit brings close friendships even closer. “Not only do I have a show outside of school hours, but the fun and the social bonding from the activity get carried into my other classes, she said. Rucinski adds that during The Miracle Worker, actors did spirit as wacky as “baby and helmet costumes, and during the one-acts two years ago, participants did “dress up like your show spirit.

“[Alumnus] Alex Caron came in wearing a cardboard box with armholes and a hole for his neck because he was in ‘ËœEdges,’ she said.

The one acts that year’s spirit was formal dress the Wednesday before the show, and then pajamas that Friday. On the following Tuesday and Wednesday, the week that the one acts were taking place, those involved in the show do spirit related to their own specific show’€with Wednesday often being “promote the show spirit.

Not everyone expresses the same viewpoint about spirit, however. Junior Zoe Newberg believes that although the idea behind spirit is good, “it doesn’t work if nobody does it, which is usually the case, she said.

Sophomore Judy Cohen agrees. She says that “it’s a bummer when not a lot of the team does it though because it defeats the purpose.

Junior Zhuoshi Xie, who does both speech team and volleyball, prefers doing spirit for volleyball. “Very few speech people do spirit, she said, “and it just feels very awkward.

It is true that many people just don’t end up doing spirit when duty calls for it.

This completely defeats the purpose, putting more pressure on the people on the team or cast who have done the spirit to advertise the game that day, and also does not achieve the same sense of unity and teamwork.
However, we can agree that when all members do spirit, it produces exceptional results.

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Affordable clothing just around the corner: Frugal fashion is not just for Fannie anymore http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/frugal-fashion-is-not-just-for-fannie-anymore/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/frugal-fashion-is-not-just-for-fannie-anymore/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 06:01:21 +0000 Sandy Shen http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2595 As the value of the dollar continues to shrink, a new trend in clothing has become a fad. Thrift shopping is more and more common as the current state of the economy steadily recovers.

Stores like Wet Seal and Forever 21 are preferred over stores that used to be popular, but slightly more expensive, such as Abercrombie and Fitch. Discount stores, such as Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Filene’s Basement have been even more popular, as they offer designer labels for bargain prices.

The back-to-school season, which normally garners huge revenues for retail stores, revealed a miserable outcome for American Apparel, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Zumiez. Their sales figures have dropped a devastating 29 percent, while a much more inexpensive store, Aeropostale, has posted a nine percent increase in sales. Unlike others, Aeropostale is flexible about dropping its prices frequently and is eager to advertise sales and bargains.

What Stapleton doesn’t realize, is that people are much more willing to spend 50 percent less on clothes that are 80 percent as good.

Abercrombie and Fitch director Craig R. Stapleton explains that the reason for maintaining constant prices was a means of “brand protection –– lowering the prices would cause the store to lose the appeal and luster it currently holds as a “luxury store. What he doesn’t realize, is that people are much more willing to spend 50 percent less on clothes that are 80 percent as good.

South students are joining in on this trend. Sophomore Kathy Sun likes to shop at places like Delia’s and Forever21 “obviously because it’s cheap.

“It’s not bad quality or anything, and you can get more stuff because it’s a lot less expensive,

Junior Campbell Rogers said, who prefers to go to similar places. “I shop a lot at Delia’s, but their clothing is quite expensive sometimes, she said, “I try to buy from clearance or at cheaper places like Forever 21.

Where to Shop:

The Garment District

200 Broadway

Cambridge, MA 02139

Take the Green line, then switch to the Red line, get off at Kendall/MIT, and you will be within a short walking distance to the store.

The Garment District calls itself “an alternative department store, and it truly is one. The store sells both second hand and new clothing from every decade. You can find everything from vintage to current, modern day fashions.

If you’re really adventurous and patient, head downstairs to the infamous mountain of second hand clothes called the Dollar-A-Pound. The pile is replenished daily with fresh clothes.

It’s not easy to find anything wearable among the various sweaters, pants, and sheets (even underwear!) but every so often, with a lot of patience, you’ll find the perfect garment.

Not only are the clothes unique and interesting, but also the prices are more than reasonable. It’s the frugal shopper’s paradise, with inexpensively priced new clothing, and of course, the Dollar-A-Pound’s impossible-to-beat prices ($1.50/lb, $1/lb on Fridays). If you’re really tight for money, you can even sell your retired clothes for store credit or cash.

Filene’s Basement

215-227 Needham Street

Newton, MA 02464

Conveniently located on Needham Street in Newton, Filene’s Basement is the perfect place to shop.
This store specializes in designer items. All the clothing exudes sophistication, and no one will believe the amazing prices you paid for them.

You can buy items from classy labels such as Calvin Klein, Seven for All Mankind, Ralph Lauren, and Armani (if you’re lucky) without breaking the bank.

Filene’s Basement also has great accessories and an awesome shoe section. Head across the street for the second half of the store, which sells men’s clothing, women’s shoes, children’s apparel, and home items.

275 Needham St
Newton, MA 02464-1507

(617) 964-4987

Just down the street from Filene’s Basement, Marshalls is similar in that it carries designer items for affordable prices. Marshalls, however, has a larger juniors section and tends to carry more from your average mall store, like American Eagle and PacSun.

The overall atmosphere of this store is more teen-friendly, as it carries brighter colors and less flashy clothes than Filene’s Basement does. It also carries houseware items like pots, pans, and even scented candles.


Located on the 1st floor of the Natick Collection

1245 Worcester St
Natick, MA 01760
(508) 655-4800

While stores like Marshall’s and Filene’s Basement depend on outside retailers to send them overstocked or undersold items, Forever 21 has the dependability of holding clothes that will stay in stock and probably come in your size.

While at times it is a bit disorganized (and the lines can be absolutely chaotic), the clothes are chic for less, and you can feel like a true recessionista by shopping there.

Another benefit of this store is that it is located right inside the mall, so you can drop in during the middle of your shopping, and get great deals along with an occasional splurge at Neiman Marcus. It is also right below the food court, allowing you to refresh yourself after waiting in those long lines for the changing rooms!

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Student directed one-acts are ACTually amazing http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/student-directed-one-acts-are-actually-amazing/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/student-directed-one-acts-are-actually-amazing/#comments Wed, 13 May 2009 17:00:55 +0000 Bianca Ho http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2330 A troubled playwright caught up in his own fantasy world. A Jewish child disguised as a Nazi soldier during the Holocaust. A lost boy searching for the meaning of true love.

From April 30-May 2, these main characters of South Stage’s one-acts from the Student Directed Festival grabbed the audience’s attention, each one of them teaching a distinct message to the, and every one as meaningful as the next.

The first play, Old Saybrook, directed by senior Mark Galinovsky, opens with two couples having a small get-together in the middle of their house.

Couples Norman and Sheila (played by junior Ariel Shvartsman and sophomore Sarah Wanger) and David and Jenny (played by sophomore Jake Light and sophomore Charlotte Sall) have their own inside jokes and shared experiences. They gently tease each other about their shortcomings and insignificant faults, and there seems to be a healthy relationship among the four of them.

As the rest of the story unfolds, however, a third couple joins their company to visit the house where they first got married. Newcomers Hal and Sandy (played by senior Alex Brodsky and sophomore Tanya Lyon, respectively) know about every nook and cranny of the house, including a secret vault behind the fireplace.

Sheila discovers a diary that Norman has been keeping in the vault and reveals to the audience that Jenny, Sheila’s sister, has been having an affair with Norman.

The scene then breaks out into chaos as David becomes aware of the situation and proceeds to bring out a shotgun.

There is another twist in the plot, however, as the former owner of the house, a writer named Max Krolian (played by freshman Daniel Bender-Stern), reveals to everyone that those four people are not real, but characters he invented in a play he failed to finish writing.

Hal and Sandy then take this opportunity to compare how this play fits in with their real life experiences, and reveal to each other affairs they have had.

When it seems like nothing can be helped, and their relationship is in jeopardy, they make up, realizing that life is about forgiveness.

Theopolis, the second play, was written and directed by senior Jonah David. The play consists of no speaking, but rather movements, music and sounds. The play about the Holocaust begins with a scene taking place at a Nazi-infested camp, where two officers are patrolling the areas. The Jewish people oppressed by the Nazis are introduced, and the audience embarks on a journey following the story of a young Jewish child hidden beneath a Nazi shell.

Though the play is a silent one, the message is no less powerful or meaningful than that of any regular play. The occasional sound effect and the simple piano score, played by freshman Patricia Ho, provides all the sound needed for the impact of the story.

The third, and final play, Women and Wallace directed by senior Anya Whelan-Smith, is a memoir of a boy’s life, beginning at age six.

The first thing the audience hears from him are all the reasons Wallace (played by freshman Aaron Wolff) loves his mother, and he continues to skip off to school. The plotline takes a twist, however, as the audience watches in horror while Wallace’s mother kills herself with a kitchen knife.

The story traces the rest of Wallace’s life, as he bears clumsy interactions with girls as a result of his mother’s suicide. We learn that he is afraid to allow himself to become too emotionally attached in a relationship because, as he learned at the age of six, “all women desert in the end.

He finally learns from his grandmother that he cannot blame all of his mistakes on the death of his mother and he has to come to terms with the fact that he would make mistakes on his own, even if she were still alive.

Galinovsky, David, and Whelan-Smith, put together an astounding show. Each play was unique, and the audience never lost interest. The night was filled with an appropriate mix of comedy, tragedy, and even a mixture of both in Women and Wallace.

By beginning the show with a light-humored comedy that had a meaningful message, the directors successfully grabbed the audience’s attention.

The serious undertone of Theopolis was an effective continuation of the show, and finally, Women and Wallace was both uplifting and humorous.

All in all, the Student Directing Festival was an incredible show, which garnered laughter and almost-tears while capturing the watchers’ hearts.

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Go down the rabbit hole with Alice in Cabaret http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/26/go-down-the-rabbit-hole-with-alice-in-cabaret/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/26/go-down-the-rabbit-hole-with-alice-in-cabaret/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2009 20:33:10 +0000 Sandy Shen http://www.sandbox.denebolaonline.net/?p=2022 Cast members of South Stage’s Cabaret graced the stage of the lab theater March 19-21 with their unique self-written production, by seniors Alex Caron and Valerie Coimbra. Intended as a spin-off of Alice in Wonderland, the show included characters that belted out every kind of song from excerpts of musicals such as Nunsense to Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name. Two days before opening night, the tickets had already been sold out, and people were waiting in quiet anticipation for the promising production.

Producing Cabaret this year was no easy feat. Budget cuts to the South Stage program made it harder for shows to be produced with the same kind of flash as last year’s Peter Pan. Even without extravagant flying machines, however, Cabaret captured the audience’s attention and produced images they will never forget.

Memorable scenes occurred at every turn, all the way to the finish. Comedic characters such as Sunshine, played by sophomore Ellie Crowley, and Shadow, played by freshman Charlotte Cohen, brought on rolls of laughter to everyone in the room. Singer after singer dazzled viewers with their spectacular voices and incredible sound.

In past years, Cabaret has been directed and run by staff and faculty of South. This year, it was entirely student-run by Caron and Coimbra. Also, instead of following past patterns of creating a series of disconnected musical excerpts, this production was the first cabaret to actually include a real plot line that joined everything together.

Their unique script consisting of allusions to Alice in Wonderland and references to common south affairs made a familiar setting for the audience to connect with. The self-deprecating humor directed toward its own scriptwriters made the show even more hilarious. The show also consisted of original and creative humor, including one scene, which included some stage crew techies, senior Gaul Porat and sophomore Max Nathanson, singing and dancing along with the cast members, and another where sophomore Melanie Rucinski, piano accompanist and assistant musical director, repeatedly got her boa stolen by competitive auditioners.

The show began with a few uncertainties, starting off as a vague, umbrella concept conceived during mornings in Chemistry class by Caron and Coimbra, and then began to focus on Alice in Wonderland’€this conclusion was finally reached after many unsuccessful attempts.

“Some of [the rehearsals] were a little rough, but we definitely pulled it together, Rucinski said.
On a snow day, when a badly needed rehearsal would have been canceled, many dedicated cast members simply met at Caron’s house for an extra rehearsal; from the final product, you’d never be able to tell that there were any tough rehearsals. Everything went smoothly, and the show was virtually seamless.

The choreography, done by senior Juli Spier, was riveting and innovative, and the acting convincing and, at times, moving and sentimental. The music was well chosen, and appealed to a wide variety of tastes. The twisting plot, as random as it may have been, made the show that much more interesting to watch, and the audience responded positively. “Cabaret was out there, but was amusing and very funny, freshman Jake Abramson said.

The story follows the confusing and seemingly unrelated adventures of Alice, an adolescent girl played by sophomore Tanya Lyon. At the beginning, Alice finds herself in a situation not so unfamiliar to the audience: she catches her boyfriend Freddie, played by sophomore Gabe Goodman, “canoodling another girl.

Her aunt, played by senior Lily Simon, encourages her to “not take any of his shenanigans. Alice confronts Freddie and the two break into a rousing musical number “Cry For Me by Jersey Boys.

Unlike the original book, this performance did not include the fantastical, crazy creatures, but rather modern, realistic versions of the bunny, the mad hatter, and the caterpillar. The bunny is a Jack-Johnson-guitar-playing bunny, the mad hatter is a step mom, and the caterpillar is a bubble-blowing caterpillar.

Alice’s journey brings her to explore the soulful depths of the people around her, and to answer the pressing question: “WHO are you?

She talks to her father, a street corner who answers the question “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

“The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

The show ends with an inspiring, shiver-inducing number, in which all 18 members of the cast dance and sing in breathtaking unison to the appropriately chosen, “He Lives In You from the Lion King.

In the end Alice finally learns to be comfortable with herself, while instilling introspection in the audience. The show was exciting through out, and brought a wonderful close to the journey everyone embarked on.

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