Author Archives: The Quill Editors

London Calling

By: Olivia L. ’21

My first memory of our London trip begins as we made our way onto yet another long bus ride, soaking in the sights and information along the way. After that rainy ride, we arrived at Warwick Castle­ — a location that had not been visited on the London Trip for ten years. Despite originally feeling uncertain about what was to come, Warwick Castle was a kind surprise, and one that is now many student’s favorites. We first walked through the gate that gave us the rather grandiose view of, not only the Castle itself, but the world it was laid upon. A mix of everything from dungeons and weaponry to portraits and elegant dining halls, Warwick Castle provided a full experience of the Tudor-Stork period (the era it represented.) The highlight of Warwick was surely the haunted hallway where fear and history came to play. Along with a few of my friends, Mr. Weissman and Mr. Crane accompanied us. Nothing seemed to frighten Mr. Crane in the slightest, and Mr. Weissman was chopped to bits before we were able to leave the maze (not literally, of course).

Stratford-upon-Avon, the next stop in the London Experience, proved to be a spot brimming with history. The town came to life as much of what we had learned about in school was displayed there. We toured Shakespeare’s birthplace and the cramped house he lived in with eight other family members. A replica of the infamous “second-best bed” could be found before making our way out into the courtyard, where reenactments of Shakespeare’s most famous plays were performed, and even some of the students joined the actors on stage! In Stratford, we briefly toured the Guild Chapel, known with regards to William Shakespeare because John Shakespeare had whitewashed the paintings inside of it. Many of the murals inside are still being restored to their former glory. It is lucky they were not destroyed at the time, but it was decided to only cover them for the time being because the accepted religion by the Church of England was constantly changing from Anglican to Protestant.

The streets of London were becoming ever so quiet as our group walked briskly to what would be one of the best dinners in London. We had eaten Italian style, and the sound of the pan sizzling was a faint reminder of how hungry I had been after all of the walking. It was well worth it, as most of us easily cleared out plates. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Twelfth Night came next on our list, and some of us were familiar with the high school’s production of it only last fall. Though confusing at first, with Mr. Weissman’s help, we all had a grasp on the story by the end. With mistaken identities, cross-dressers, and even a character named Olivia, the plot of this comic play never fails to amaze.

Wednesday, on what undoubtedly felt like the longest day, our class ventured far and wide throughout the city of London and beyond. Beginning with Trafalgar Square, a wide expanse of sculptures, fountains, and other aesthetic monuments, we split into groups to head into the National Gallery. We had already prepared for the paintings we were about to see, as each student was assigned a painting to present. Intermittently, between presentations, we sketched some of the paintings. From Monet to Titian, painters from every walk of life could be found in this museum.

The Mall…no, not the one you’re thinking of. You can’t buy Jordans or a lipstick at Sephora here. In the City of Westminster, between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, The Mall has been historically used for royal events, as it sits right outside of the palace. In direct connection with Buckingham Palace, the center for many British celebrations, The Mall has been a place for crowds of people to wait for the Royals public appearances. According to the flag positioning (raised in this case) indicated that the Queen was in Buckingham Palace for the time being, though unfortunately, we did not catch a glimpse of her.

On our way to Westminster Abbey, on the south side of The Mall, we walked through St. James’s Park. Along the path, a lake can be seen on one side, and a history of the royal guard museum on the other. During James I’s reign in 1503, St. James’s Park housed exotic animals, including crocodiles, elephants, camels, and a variety of wild birds. Having finally arrived at Westminster Abbey, we split into groups and began our tour of the coffins of some of the most famous figures in history. Kings and Dukes, poets and authors could be found throughout. A special section was set aside called “Poet’s Corner.” Here, after each of us was assigned to one of the authors buried just below our feet, we saw the epitaphs inscribed on our poet’s grave and sat down to sketch some of the magnificent architecture.

The highlight of the day was the London Eye. At this time, it was just dark enough for the London Eye to illuminate off of the South Bank of the River Thames. As we made our way up to the top, we stopped for pictures. At the highest point, we looked down below us and tried to fathom the enormity of it all.

On Thursday, we ventured to the Roman Baths in the city of Bath, England. The entrance was tucked into a building in a complex of restaurants and shops. We walked through the entrance to a museum about the history of Rome and its connection to the Baths. Ancient artifacts like coins, bronze heads, and replications of ancient sites could be found throughout the museum. After learning about much of what we were about to see, we stepped outside of the second floor overlooking the Baths. My first observation was how unclean the water must have been as it was a deep shade of green, indicating it probably wasn’t cleaned regularly. As I looked to either side, I saw the architecture that would have been the center of social gatherings during Rome’s height. At the floor below, we interacted with Roman characters acting as either slaves or masters. The slave we talked to provided us with yet another layer of understanding as if we were a character, and not an onlooker, as well.

Passing by pastures of cows and sheep, our class journeyed to the most tucked away parts of London. However, when we arrived, similar to the Roman Baths, we learned the history of Stonehenge through the ages and the impact it has had. Stonehenge, what appears to be a random series of rocks, has bewildered archeologists and historians for years. Neither the “what” or the “why” has been determined for certain. The utter mystery of the placement of these rocks has made it a well visited tourist site. While most students took pictures of the Stonehenge rocks and each other, other students took interest in the “possessed bird” as they called it, providing ­– what they claimed was — further evidence of the unsettling mystique surrounding Stonehenge.

Our last stop before returning to the bus was the Salisbury Cathedral. Before this, we had dinner and an unexpected show. We just happened to eat at a restaurant on the outskirts of a tree lighting festival. Although we didn’t stay long enough for the end, we took pictures with floating angels and danced to songs from the Sister Act. Although we did not walk into the Cathedral, as there was a mass going on, we observed the Gothic elements of Salisbury Cathedral and ones similar to it, marking a new era in architectural design that allowed larger windows and more light.

Trinity Square Garden was located in Tower Hill, London and was preserved as a public park around two hundred years ago. It currently houses Memorials for the Tower Hill War, WWI, and WWII. After visiting this site in the morning, we took pictures of London’s famous Tower Bridge. Paul Daley, our tour guide, recited all of the kings of England flawlessly before entering the Tower to see the changing of the guard and the Crown Jewels. The jewels were truly magnificent, some dating back to the 1500’s and still intact and in use for coronations. We then split into groups and walked through halls of armor, torturing devices, weapons, and even churches. The hall of weaponry featured artillery that would have been used by guards in the Tower of London, and for the Royal Guard, through the Ages. Some military personnel still live and serve on the property. Those that have served for at least 22 years were eligible.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Tate interactive modern art gallery could be found across the way. We visited the Tate briefly and were immediately immersed in modern art exhibits like the three-person swings and the constantly mobile swinging ball that gave the illusion that it could hit the people walking below, but never did. The stripes on the path below it added yet another layer to this optical illusion. A street down from there, a recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, was built on the piece of land that would have been where the original most likely was. The new Globe acts as a spot for tourists and students, but also for performances as well. With limited modern technology and seat prices set as close to the original theatres equivalent as possible, everything at this theatre is meant to be in the likeness of one at the time of Shakespeare. We were able to sit in the audience, walk on stage, and go backstage as well. On stage, it felt as if we were the performers, and backstage gave us a glimpse of what tech crew’s responsibilities might entail. After this, we had a discussion in a lecture-like room. In the shape of an amphitheater, we discussed and performed.

At the British Museum, our last stop in London on Friday, we spent most of our time sketching the Parthenon Marbles. Each student in our class was assigned a frieze — a decorated sculpture with low relief — to draw during class. These drawings and pictures were taken with us to the museum so that we could sketch them and a number of others. The Parthenon Marbles themselves have sparked a controversy that continues to this day. They are also known as the Elgin Marbles, after Lord Elgin who “took” the sculptures directly off of the structures they were attached to in Greece. Lord Elgin brought them back to London to be displayed in the British Museum so that they could be viewed by everyone.

Overall, this trip brought back so many fond memories, not only of London itself, but with new friends and teachers as well. I can’t wait to visit the city again and see what new experiences it has to offer!

Kudos to Cast and Crew of Anything Goes!

To cast, crew, Mr. Weissman and all,
Rave review from this audience member for your performance of Anything Goes.
 
Never knew we had so many talented tap dancers!
What a delightfully delicious and “delovely” way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon!
Kudos.
Mr. Rapp
P. S. The Quill staff congratulations the members
of the musical production on a job well done!

Be Not Afraid of Greatness: Twelfth Night

By: Mia W. ’18

On November 4th and 5th of 2016, the play production of Twelfth Night took place here at SIA. Not only was this brilliantly directed by Mr. Weissman, but the entire cast seemed to radiate a wave of energy and engagement throughout the whole show. Not to say this was accomplished easily; it was hard work, late nights, and dedication that brought this play to life. “It’s a little hard acting Shakespeare, only because you really have to understand the lines and what they mean, but it wasn’t too difficult to understand because Weiss goes through lines very thoroughly with us,” said Sandra P. ’18 who played Maria in the production.

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This year’s fall play included a twenty-five minute long pre-show, right before the Shakespearean production. The comedic parody, which featured lots of talented new faces to the stage, was a perfect way to introduce Twelfth Night. “It was fun to dress in basic costumes and props to put on Shakespeare in only 25 minutes…doing it in the atrium was more fun because actors had a better sense and connection to the audience” said Grace A. ‘18 who played Lady Macbeth and Judge. As an audience member watching the actors so closely helped you engage with every person on stage, and it was also really funny!

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All in all, this play was one for the books! For many students, this was their last fall play at SIA, and it was a great play production to end on. Congratulations to all of the cast and tech crew for putting on such an enjoyable show.

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” –Malvolio (played by Trip M ‘17)

 

The Wild West at Academy Day

By: Cassandra C. ’17

Every year on a Saturday in October, Academy Day brings people from the SIA community past and present to campus for soccer games, raffles, and delicious food. Whether you’re two, twenty-two, fifty-two, or ninety-two, Academy Day is always a fun time. Several alumni came back this year to cheer on their former classmates and catch up with their favorite teachers.

For this year’s event, the theme of Academy Day was the Wild West. Every grade had their own appropriately-themed game, while the seniors all lent a hand at the barbeque with the money raised funding part of the annual senior service trip to the Dominican Republic. Nearly every student contributed some time to Academy Day, either helping set up, cleaning at the end, or running one of the booths.

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My favorite event of the day had to be when it was Ms. Crig’s turn to volunteer at the pie-throwing booth. While she was yelling, “You got nothing!” some students from the lower school managed to hit her square in the forehead with a whipped cream and graham crackers pie. And yes, we have pictures.

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SAC Day Spirit

By: Cassandra C. ‘17

From the very first event, it was clear that this school year would include an intense competition in SAC for the house cup.

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In my four years in upper school at SIA, this was perhaps the most spirited I have ever seen our students: from painted faces, foam fingers, to a serpentine (?) mascot, everyone wanted to partake in the competition, even if they could not contribute athletically. Despite the events not going quite as planned due to the rainy weather, students still managed to enjoy the relays, penalty kicks, musical chairs competition, and the delightfully punny “Cheese the First” table.

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The overall winner of SAC Day was Methfessel House, taking 100 points, with Partington, Merrick, Stettinius, and Willard-Mundorf following in second, third, fourth, and fifth, respectively. As a comeback from a long history of lackluster house spirit, Merrick House was awarded 25 additional points, taking Merrick to third overall. The next event for the year will be the House Decorating Competition in December. As I’m sure Ms. Large would say, this year is going to be a great year for SAC! (Also, go Merrick House!)

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What It Means To Be a Tiger

By: Connor F. ’16

Commencement is a day of celebration, congratulations and excitement! But it will also be remembered with some tears, sadness, and long goodbyes. I always knew the day would arrive. However, I could never have imagined my path nor expect the journey the Class of 2016 all would take together.

I have been a student here for 15 years, and I can honestly say that Staten Island Academy has become my home away from home. It is a place that has provided me with amazing friends, trusted mentors, and countless memories that will last a lifetime. For every commencement since I was in the fifth grade, I have sat with the orchestra, listening to so many speeches that seemed to have very similar messages. Every year it seemed that at least one speaker mentioned that the high school years would fly by.  And they were absolutely right.

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It seems like only yesterday that I was that wide-eyed fifth grader thinking my commencement was so far away. However, it has arrived, and instead of simply re-telling you all just how quickly the time does indeed pass, I want to implore you to stop every now and then to cherish your time here! Not every moment is going to be a memorable, triumphant, or glorious one, and that is okay. Because of all those years sitting on the other side of this stage—watching, listening and learning—I have taken the words and advice I have heard so often and managed to slow down time as much as possible so that I can appreciate the people in my life every day, the experiences we go through, and even the difficulties we encounter together.

I now view my high school years through the rearview mirror, but I am ready to move on with no regrets because I have valued my time here.  I am not sure too many students value their high school years as much as they should. It seems that we want to move onto the next stage of our lives too quickly, but believe me when I tell you that the Academy is a second home that should hold a special place in your heart.

With this in mind, I feel compelled to share three ideals that have been important to me throughout my journey at SIA. First, I want you to know that it is possible for you to find the best in every situation. Try to understand that all your experiences, both the positive ones and especially the challenging ones, will shape you. These moments will be connected and become “the big picture” that is your life. In the book, Chop Wood, Carry Water, author Joshua Medcalf reminds us to, make sure the life we are living today, is a story worth telling in the future. I believe in living each day to the fullest.  A lot of times we are caught up in a moment or complain about a little discomfort, and we lose sight of what is really important. I challenge you:  when you feel uncomfortable or feel like quitting, find something positive for which you are grateful for in that situation.  For example, during our ninth grade trip to Fairview Lake, our class—not known for our ability to “rough it”—complained endlessly about mosquitoes, dirty cabins, and inedible meals. However, these moments helped us bond together, and by the time we got back to school, we had grown closer as a class. By recognizing the benefits of a difficult situation, we will make the most of our years and be able to look back on all of our great achievements.

Second, and one of the most important aspects of my years at SIA, is living a life of service. Not just the kind that is written down on a form and receives recognition at the end of the year. I am referring to the ideal that by serving others, we can change the world!  Always serve! Always look for ways to give in every interaction—with strangers and also with people you know. You must find a way to serve, as only through service and sacrifice can we become great! The Class of 2016 has found their own ways to serve, and I’m talking about service beyond our required internships. From the Bread of Life Food Drive to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, from Habitat for Humanity to the Wounded Warrior Project, we have looked beyond our own lives to help others, enriching ourselves and others in the larger community.

Finally, I want to share my thoughts on leadership since we are given so many opportunities to lead here at SIA. Whether in the classroom, on stage, or on the playing fields, we all have honed our skills of leadership. As president John F. Kennedy once noted, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” During my time in each division—Lower, Middle, and Upper School—I was able to model my leadership style by learning from so many dedicated and caring teachers, coaches, and captains. Some lead from the front, others from the rear. Still others show leadership without saying a word. Over the past four years, the baton of leadership has been passed to us, and our learning has been enhanced through our roles as team captains, as leads in plays, as House representatives, as SAC leaders, and as club founders and presidents. In following our passions, we have led others. Leadership then is an integral part of who we are. And since we are Tigers, we have learned to be strong, fierce and patient leaders.

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Now, to the Class of 2016, commencement marks a new chapter in our lives. A chapter looked upon with anticipation, nervousness, and a whole lot of excitement. In the fall, we will all be off to our respective colleges and universities, ready and prepared for the challenges to come. I know we are prepared to serve, to lead, and to create positive change in the world. I hope to see each of you on the roads you choose to follow. After all we have been through together, we are connected to one another forever. Do not forget where you come from and when you get where you are going, do not forget to turn back around. Remember that the Academy is the home from which we all came.

What is Scholarship?

By: Trip M. ’17

Hello everyone! It is my job to discuss the idea of scholarship and it is out my sense of duty to the school, and not Ms. Crig’s Taser that she carries, that I have the pleasure of writing for you today. In preparing this article, the big quandary that I was faced with (apart from vague Taser threats, of course) was what is scholarship? And I think the issue is that the term scholarship is grotesquely and incorrectly defined in the sense that it is too often coupled with someone being smart. Even intelligence in this day and age is misinterpreted. If someone does well on a math test does that immediately make them smart? Is intellect that one-dimensional? Well, the math test may win you a hug from Justin Almeida, but can school assessments validate or invalidate someone as a scholar? Why was one of the world’s most famous geniuses, Albert Einstein, a sub-par student? (I am so sorry, I had to put at least one golf reference in.) So, what is it then that defines the scholar?

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In order to attempt to explain this idea of scholarship, let me tell you a story. The year is 2006; I am a bold and inquisitive six-year-old. My mother, sister, and grandparents are on a vacation in Rome. Our destination is the Vatican and I have the odd misconception that the pope will be waiting there for us. Well, before we can meet his exaltedness, we have to actually get there. The whole family piles onto a city bus that we just assume is going to the Vatican. And let me tell you, I am killing the style game as always, donning a mustard yellow shirt, dark mesh shorts, and socks with sandals. And to top it all off, a jean-blue Fannie pack. I know. I am basically the younger incarnation of an elderly woman named Bertha. So, Bertha and the family squeeze onto an overcrowded bus with commuters, gypsies, and many other tourists. Looking back at it, we are probably the most shameless tourists that Rome has ever seen. But back to the bus. It seems that every stop takes at least 15-20 minutes, and with the patience of a six-year-old, this city bus basically becomes a torture chamber. After about two hours, we decide to hop off the horrid bus, and look up to see a wonderfully tall and impressive building: but it happened to be our hotel. Yep. I spent two hours in a crammed bus doing nothing with half of the family being robbed by the time we got off, and in the end, we are exactly where we started. But what does this mean? How is it relevant? Well, perhaps that’s just what scholarship is.

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Scholarship is not about the result you achieve; it’s about the journey and the approach. Academic excellence ought to be measured in one’s diligence and attitude, not the result. So, if you take a Platis’ test and you don’t get the result you wanted, but you know that you gave your all, everything you had…that is scholarship. If you wanted to know the end to my story, my most beloved bus ride did not actually prove to be in vain. The next day, we oversaw a ceremony in which the pope did make an appearance, and now that I look back, perhaps my exasperating experience only strengthened the bond between my family and me. Similarly, the academic journey of the scholar, although not always successful, will build from past experience, until habitually sound academic practice becomes academic excellence! But it all has to start somewhere. And that somewhere is the determined mindset and educational insatiability that embodies the heart of a true scholar.