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June 4, 2012
A Night of Games, Music, and Art
Elated baseball fans and disappointed softball fans have watched an incredible spring sports season. I won’t humor readers and embarrass myself with descriptions of foul balls or grand slams, but I am proud to recognize the talent, concentration, and elegance of our athletes who played in Friday’s state quarter-finals. A roundup of high school sports news can be found athttp://www.reformer.com/ci_20765916/buhs-boys-tennis-and-l-g-baseball-move.
After the games, a crowd stepped into the gymnasium to hear the annual Pops Concert and view the student art show. The evening was an experience in joyous jazzy music that brought out the best. The Windham Central Supervisory Union Jazz Band, directed by music teacher Michael McKinney, launched the night with students dressed for the part, playing with the unusual combination of nervousness and nerve. Their talent slid into the next group of middle and high schoolers, who looked a whole bigger but in reality, the youngsters will fill their secondary shoes in a blink of an eye, at least for the parents.
Music teacher Ron Kelley began by tuning up the JV Jazz Band, opening with “Killer Joe” and the knees started bouncing with the beat. Sophomore Arik Clark donned shades and held his seven players together, though each held on their own. Joe couldn’t possibly be a killer; the tune was upbeat, a cool strut down the street, followed by trumpets and saxophones. Senior Isaac Cohen’s pleasant piano solo invited the audience to get down and more feet started tapping. When eighth grader Susie Francy stood for her solo, she twisted Joe into a new path and you know you’d love to get to meet this guy. No fear here, especially when seventh grader Gabbi Walton led on the bass with acute accuracy on Joe’s character, and then the band comes together close behind Joe’s footsteps. Then I realized Joe must be a lady-killer, the type of guy who wins every woman’s heart, and even when she’s dumped she forgives him, as the finale is a smooth finish and he’s missed.
A Cappella, also directed by Ron Kelley, began with “I Saw You Blink,” featuring senior soloist Phoebe Gunther-Mohr, female backups, and male mouth music. Junior Jesse Newton rattled, “thump, thump, thump,” as if rapping on a boom box. Phoebe traveled up and down her range with lyrics of the country and love, “What are you thinking over there?” to which she got no answer. Sophomore Addie Mahdavi piped in, echoing the sadness, and Phoebe ended in shy laughter – everything would be all right.
In “All the Things You Are,” A Cappella’s harmony sounded almost electronic, as if a master composer had placed their voices on a music staff, each scientifically placed to attain just the perfect deviation between each sound. Sophomore Zoe Soule broke the mold into her own. Senior soloist Kira Begnoche sang, “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” with Jesse humming loud as a harmonica while the remaining group chanted. Kira seemed to encompass the varied and contradictory emotions of leaving high school. At times she sounded gleefully excited to share the simple phrase, but then she intoned sophisticated soul stemming back generations of legacy. And she smiled with happiness, spreading this special joy to the audience to put all else aside and be, right now, happy.
Many thanks goes to music teacher Robert Zimmerman for his work with L&G students over the past two years, and for his director’s role in the Jazz Band. In every piece, the mood felt like good times, perhaps in the places where Killer Joe hangs out. Special recognition goes to freshmen Carl Judd-Wright and Giannina Gaspero-Wright and sophomore Genevieve Darling, all on the trumpet.
L&G’s faculty and administration wish for great opportunity and fortune for all of the Class of 2012 and ask their musicians, Will Bass, Kira Begnoche, Isaac Cohen, Phoebe Gunther-Mohr, and Jonah Ullman to come back and play at Leland and Gray concerts and assemblies for years to come. Special thanks to Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven John, for singing tenor with A Cappella once again.
Art teachers Stephanie Nyzio and Kristen Wilson displayed their students’ work from this spring term. With so many works of beauty and creativity, describing just a few jewels proved to be a challenge. Fortunately junior Kori Griffin provided explanation for several works. She compared her colorful square of a nose and mouth with a separate square of a junior Jackie Hazard’s sensitively painted eye, paired together by accident, as both drawings in “Face Fractions” were sketched onto a computer sight unseen, though matched in color, style, and proportion. Kori’s style was bold and confident, capturing the big picture through line quality and direction and letting the viewers’ mind fill the rest. Her pencil drawing of puffy, plump chicken and itty-bitty baby chicks under the full feathers demonstrated her exceptional understanding of form.
Freshman Jesse Cannella’s contour drawing of a forearm and fist was four times life-size, with each line reflective of the surface it traced. An orange of many overlapping colors, yet watery and ripe, was painted by freshman Savanna Shields. A peacock, a little abstract and a whole lot geometric, painted by seventh grader Greer Bills, confounds the viewer on positive and negative space with no distinction between feathers to background. How did she achieve such an aesthetic wonder? The works of freshmen Kara Bronson and Emily Thibault shone among many attractive compositions in “Functions of Design.” Each black background held a symmetrical layout of different shapes and colors. Business tip: If silk-screened onto clothing, all these designs would sell out fast.
Few professional artists can teach both two- and three-dimensional design. The benefits Leland and Gray students receive from our multitalented teachers are evident in their achievements. Freshman Erica Cutts’s superb gargoyle, a cross between a Japanese caricature and an omen from the Dark Ages, was a bold yellow with red-orange accents. Freshman Jake Topping’s red and brown goblet constructed of coils harked back to Medieval times, save for the inscription of “Mom” on the base instead of some groveling treatise beginning, “Oh Noble Lordship to Whom I am Beholden.” Seventh grader Dani Dezendorf crafted a black-spotted yellow leopard cup, from the proud profile on top to the back tail for a handle. This creature’s pensive eyes revealed a readiness to pounce, despite the squatting legs weighed down by the heavy vessel soon to be filled with hot cocoa.
Senior Caitlin Persa crafted six sculptures combining found objects and crafted materials, likely her semester’s masterwork. In Advanced Placement Art, she created, “Waste in the Fine Dining Industry,” a visual testimonial to the destruction of the environment right under one’s nose. Most striking was a platter of folded napkins, one absurdly huge made of cardboard and its twin of torn newspapers coiled into wide wire mesh. Surrounding both, dozens of baby white napkins sit like birds unable to fly away, all condemned to this place at the table, no matter the environmental cost. Alongside each sculpture was a description of each contributor to the earth’s destruction, from importing flowers from Guatemala to wasting utensils and glass.
Congratulations to all the athletes, musicians, and artists who gave their all – their time, commitment, and passion for the field, not just for their own satisfaction, but for the enjoyment of hundreds of spectators. When students share their hard-earned achievements, the youngest children envision attaining these goals themselves someday. And our elders feel “nachas” (pronounced with a guttural “ch”), which is a Yiddish term for the pride and joy felt from the accomplishments of children and grandchildren of one’s own and community.
Quick Note Regarding Next Year’s Schedules
The school counseling department has requested that parents/guardians only contact counselors if they have concerns about their students’ 2012-13 schedules of courses, after these have been issued.