Melrose High School, Melrose, MA

Melrose High School, Melrose, MA

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Feature Student: Francesca Rizzo

One of this month's featured student is senior Francesca Rizzo, who has been named President of this year's MHS Drama Club. Including the achievement of President, Rizzo had a life changing opportunity to volunteer with the organization Habitat for Humanity this past summer. This organization helps people who do not have homes by recruiting a number of volunteers who will participate in building houses for those in need. Rizzo had the opportunity to make a difference by traveling to Lafayette, Louisiana to do just that. Once in New Orleans, she was joined with a group of 15 other students from around the world and NCCC and AmeriCorps members.  Together they traveled 3 hours from New Orleans to their work site in Lafayette, Louisiana.

"From 8:00am until 3:30pm we were on the worksite. By the end of my trip we finished framing, raising all of the walls, and getting the house ready for a roof," says Francesca.

Although the work was hard and the Southern heat was tiring, the result was rewarding.

"As cliche as it may be, Habitat really did change my life. When I met the family that would be moving into the house we were building, I really understood why I was there."

She recalls a 17 year old boy she met, who would be moving into the home she was building.

"He has been working at a fast food restaurant since he was fourteen to help contribute to the family's bills. When we asked if he planned on attending college, he said that he wasn't sure because he might have to stay home and work. We don't realize how lucky we are. I never take anything for granted anymore."

Along with the work of building the home, the volunteers took educational trips as well.

"We went on a bayou tour, went to traditional Cajun restaurants, made endless amounts of trips to Super Walmart (there were at least four in the town we were in), attended a baseball game, and went to a homeowner's ceremony," Rizzo says.

Her trip to Louisiana a success and a reward. Rizzo, who wants to major in Philosophy and minor in Peace Studies, is passionate about the work she has done for Habitat for Humanity. .

"I want to keep programs like this going. I want to work for a nonprofit... perhaps even Habitat for Humanity!"

Now back at home and in her senior year at MHS, Rizzo has been  appointed the President of the Drama Club.

"I am thrilled to be the President of the Drama Club this year! Being the President is being the face of the Drama Club; one of the spokespeople for the program. The President has to embody the program,"she says of the title.

Anticipating an exciting year for productions, with Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" as the fall production, an original production for winter's METG Drama Festival, and "Beauty and the Beast" for the spring musical.

If you don't want to audition, why come see the shows!

"The drama club has some seriously fierce actors and actresses as well as a killer crew this year, you don't want to miss it!"

With the amazing experience working alongside Habitat for Humanity and an exciting year ahead as President of Drama, Rizzo has begun her final year at MHS on a high note.

If you, a friend, or family member are interested in experiencing and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity,   Rizzo says that she would "strongly encourage them to check out Habitat's website for volunteer opportunities!"

By: Thea Burke

Review: Boyhood

Filmed over a span of twelve years, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is possibly the best way to explain human adolescence to an alien species.
Boyhood follows the fictional life of Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, and shows him from age six to age eighteen. Mason’s sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), mom (Patricia Arquette), and dad (Ethan Hawke) each age on screen as well. The film’s soundtrack acts as a timeline for viewers, too. Pop songs from 2002 to 2013 are cues to each new era in the characters’ lives and give almost subconscious background.  
The film moves from year to year in Mason’s life, only showing big events like his reconnection with his father, their move to a new city, and of course, his first relationship. Instead of a defined plot, each character is simply trying to better themselves or in Mason’s case, grow up without a hitch. The story goes as far as Mason pursuing his passion for photography, but stays constant by an array of horrible step fathers for the antagonists. Never as outlandish as the queen of Snow White or any typical parent-villain, the film’s hardest moments are difficult to sit through because of their reality. Due to this life-like structure and Linklater’s (director of Before Sunrise, Dazed and Confused and School of Rock) seamless, realistic dialogue, Boyhood is like sitting for almost three hours in someone else’s shoes, and it’s incredible.
The movie is set in suburban Texas, which is surprisingly relatable to any American town. With a voyeuristic view into the life of a middle class boy, Boyhood’s only misstep may be that it stays in that realm. It’s a coming of age film if only boys have to conquer their teenage years. The story never really touches on how Mason’s older sister, Samantha, is affected by their family’s problems and glosses over her stake in teenagedom. The closest it gets to a female perspective is Olivia, Mason’s mother, living out her dream as a professor, but always failing to keep a balance with her home life, until she is eventually crying about how fast her son has grown up. Although this one-sidedness could be considered a downfall, the film is indeed living up to its name.

Nonetheless, the movie hit the emotional points it was meant to and should be appreciated for its truth. Not many pieces of art show such an honest ensemble of characters and feel quite like Boyhood’s eerie world, too real to not exist off screen. Linklater’s latest film is an incredible look at the human experience, but it is in no way boring for earthlings who live it.

Overall rating: 5/5 stars

By: Devin Castaño

Melrose High Junior Elizabeth Hirsch qualifies for All States

Melrose — Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hirsch is known at Melrose High School as one of the school's top notch athletes, as well as for her kindness and academic achievements. In 7th grade, after playing basketball and soccer, two sports that she says she was "very mediocre" at, Lizzie found her passion when she joined the middle school cross country team. Now, as a valued teammate on the Melrose High Cross Country team, Lizzie has qualified to participate in the All State Championships. How exactly does one do this?
"I qualified for the race by finishing 15th at the [Eastern Mass division] race last weekend," says Lizzie.
"The top four teams and top ten individuals from each division go to All States, and I was one of the top ten individuals. It will basically be a huge race with lots of really fast runners from all over the state, held at Franklin Park."
For Lizzie, this is not a first time State Championship; it is her third year in a row that she has achieved qualification. Even if it is her third year the excitement an nerves of the race still run high.
"I am nervous, but also excited because I've had a good season and hopefully this will be a really good race."
As a member of the Melrose Cross Country team, it seems as though Lizzie will receive a lot of support from her teammates.
"I love my team; it is made up of some of the best people at our school and everyone is supportive of each other," she says fondly.
As well as having a team aspect, running also has personal rewards.
"Running still excites me now because every race is a different experience and a challenge. It is exciting to push myself to my limits and to see how the hard work of training can pay off. Another is the stress relief that running provides. If I am frustrated with school or angry at someone, I just run, and I feel a lot better afterwards."
As for her plans after high school, Lizzie is sure that she will incorporate running into her life. She hopes to run on a college team, and "after college I will definitely find a way to fit running into my life, even if I'm not on a team, since it is such an important part of my life and I really enjoy it."
As a prominent member of the cross country team and a kind person to all who know her, there is no one more deserving of the qualification for the All States than Lizzie Hirsch. In the next coming weeks, hopefully all of her hard work, training, and excitement will pay off once again as Lizzie prepares to take on the All State Championships at full speed.

By: Thea Burke

Melrose Masters "Safe Streets, Smart Trips"!

Melrose High School’s Andrew Dell Isola and Christian Poutre won the recent Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s PSA competition, a contest that included sixteen Massachusetts high schools.

“[Poutre and Dell Isola] had to promote pedestrian, driving and bicycle safety in sixty seconds or less, which is kind of ridiculous,” said Anthony DiBenedetto, the MHS Television Production teacher.

The Safe Streets PSA contest is one of many programs the school has participated in. Similar contests organized by the Middlesex District Attorney and State Fire Marshall are among the others. Poutre and Dell Isola walked away with first place and Paris Peterson, winner of last year’s fire safety PSA contest, took home an honorable mention.

“I try to alternate between kind of fun and goofy projects and things that are a little more serious,” DiBenedetto explained about TV production class. Public service announcements are only a portion of the fun projects they complete throughout the year.

“All of the music they composed themselves,” DiBenedetto said about his students’ video. With this particular project, Dell Isola and Poutre spent a week working in class as well as some time on their own. They even completed an original jingle which happily closes the video, “Safe Streets, smart tips, keeping you safe.”

“I’m a musician, a music producer,” said Dell Isola, who wrote and performed the video’s music and jingle. “I used their slogan, which they liked.”

“I love the ability to produce a video exactly how I imagine it in my head” Poutre said when explaining why he loves his TV Production class. “Video production is something I will keep in mind for a career,” he added.

Dell Isola described his affection for the class, “I’ve always loved making videos and I’m also an actor.” He later stated, “I want to do music production and film production, so, having won that contest for both of those two things is pretty good.”

“It gives validity to what we’re doing,” DiBenedetto said about the award and his classes will continue the year in with competitive spirit.

By: Devin Castaño

Local Filmmakers Give Boston a New Scene

FADE IN: There is a spotlight on Boston and the focus is on its filmmakers. From documentaries to comedies, Boston has its fair share of hard working creators. Local directors had a lot to say about their experiences. Of course, they had a lot of advice for aspiring movie makers as well.
“Emmys don’t come around too much in public access” said Andrew Eldridge, the producer, director, and editor of NewTV’s “The Folklorist.” The series recently received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program. Eldridge, one of the show runners explained, “I’ve always had a passion for film making and television since I was thirteen or fourteen.”
A comparable story was told by David Ells of In the Car Media, who said, “I got my first video camera between eighth and ninth grade.” Ells progressed his skills through, “doing a lot of free hours of labor” and even completed his first documentary as his senior thesis at Gordon College. In the Car Media constantly makes advertisements, music videos, and short films out of the North Shore area.
Similarly, director-producer, Alecia Orsini Lebeda unveiled, “I have always wanted to be a filmmaker,” accrediting her passion to stories of a film project of her father’s. Lebeda got her start in Boston while in Los Angeles. “There was a job as a production designer in Sandwich,” she explained, and there was no one more qualified than Lebeda, who hails from the area.  She continues her work with her production company, Good Natured Dog, known for their web series, short films, and promotional videos.
Thanks to local movie makers, more and more outlets for young talent are occurring in the area. Eldridge recommended Open Screen, “[where] you can screen films for no charge,” at Coolidge Corner Theater on the second Tuesday of every month. Rightfully, the film community has grown for the world of narrative film and documentary film as well. The Salem Film Fest is a local event being held in March especially for enthusiasts in documentary film. Closer to home, cinephiles can appreciate an endless supply of free screenings at the Harvard Film Archive. There, they show works ranging from Markopolous to home movies dropped off by viewers.
As far as the cause for their successes, each filmmaker gave reason to believe that making films in Boston needs the same discipline as anywhere else. Ells said that it is all about, “finding the opportunities to practice,” as well as answering to my misunderstanding of using lights on a film set. Eldridge advised, “If you have an interest in it, surround yourself with people that have that interest.” Lebeda included, “[in film making], you kind of become a jack of all trades” and each skill will come in handy in making a movie, especially in Boston. “Director-producers are a big thing” She later added about the local film culture, “You end up wearing two hats.” And to young filmmakers, Eldridge said, “Make a ton of bad things. Get them out of the way and you take away something every time you make one of those films.”

“We’re storytellers” said Lebeda. Simply put, each Boston filmmaker hopes to tell a good story.

By: Devin Castaño