Thursday, April 24, 2008

To the Great Wall and back

CM Assistant Principal Dr. James Keane '82 and Director of Admissions Mr. John Mazza '98 have just returned from an important trip for the growth of the Catholic Memorial community. Their second trip to the far east in as many years involved visiting the People's Republic of China and South Korea at the invitation of the President of CiCiEdNet Corporation, Mr. Eu Eng Pai. Dr. Keane and Mr. Mazza were featured speakers at a series of seminars and recruitment fairs held in seven different cities over a period of thirteen days. In addition to Seoul, South Korea, the cities in China on their tour included Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, Qingdao, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
Above: Dr. Keane and Mr. Mazza give a presentation about
CM's international collaborative at a seminar in China.

Although one of the goals of the trip was to continue to attract outstanding international students to CM, Dr. Keane and Mr. Mazza also initiated and negotiated a new educational collaborative between Catholic Memorial and a high school in Shanghai that will open the door to future student and teacher exchanges. The recent trip to China and Korea was the latest of several international initiatives begun by CM over the past three years that include the introduction of Mandarin Chinese and the acceptance of international students to CM from Asia,the Philippines, and Latin America.
Above: Dr. Keane and Mr. Mazza at the demilitarized zone
on the border between North and South Korea.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rockin' the Boat with the CM Players—by Michael Flaherty '08

I thought last night's play, "Guys and Dolls," was awesome. I went with the lacrosse team to support our lacrosse teammate Christ Stathopoulos who was in the show. The play started off on a high note with Brother Phelps's joke about the history of cell phones. The first musical number by the Madden brothers (Graham '08 and Ethan '11) started the actual play off with the right kind of chemistry. The Maddens' voices were remarkable, accompanied by another accomplished singer, Sam McGee '10.

Guys and Dolls is about a mid-20th century New York City gambling circuit and the people who are directly affected by the "sinners." The main characters Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson, played by Pat Simas '10 and Dan Masterson '08 respectively, make fairly odd bets to get a game of craps off the ground. In the middle of the first act and near the end of the second, they sing the title song "Guys and Dolls" to explain that every guy needs a girl who will always be behind him. In Nathan's case, it's Adelaide, and in Sky's case, Sarah Brown. For these roles, director Craig Spaner recruited professional actresses Johanna Parri and Diana Doyle. Doyle's falsetto was almost unearthly in its glass-piercing tone but the sound was euphonious.

There was a wide variety of classes represented onstage, from freshmen Madden, Kevin Beazley, Cuinn Hanscom, Matty Kim, and Chris Stathopoulos to sophomores McGee, Simas, Connor Lynch, and Alex Lee to juniors Greg Sabina to seniors Madden, Masterson, Brian Hickox, Giddens Rateau, and Dan Ruggles. Other faculty guest stars included Mr. Ryan as Lieutenant Branigan, Mrs. Eberly as General Cartright, and Mr. Spaner as Big Jule. In the pit were professional musicians Mario Cruz and Peter Evans, joined by Andrew Fanikos '10, Sung-Eun Park '10, and John Clinton '08. Mr. Murray was also in the pit on trombone.

In the audience with me were Dan Conlin '08 and Joe Murphy '08. Both of them were flabbergasted by the talent of their peers onstage. Dan's favorite character was the "Big Jule" played by music teacher Mr. Spaner. "I just liked his stupidity!" Conlin said. Joe's favorite performance was Graham Madden's. "I'm biased towards Graham because he's one of my good friends," Joe joked. A lot of the students in the crowd also liked Johanna Parri's staged Brooklyn accent.

Aside from a little disruption in the audio and microphones during the show, overall, the entire CM community in attendance raved about the performance.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Palace of the Arts: CM Art Show dazzles

The front lobby became a little more Louvre-like this week with the annual Art Show. On exhibit were hand-picked portraits and landscapes in traditional forms and challenging abstract works that revealed the complex side of their creators' minds. At a reception Monday evening, art teachers Ann Malachowski (high school) and Stephanie Peacock (middle school) greeted guests and discussed their favorite works.

CM students earned top honors from the Boston Globe's art competition this winter. The school received a special award as did Vincent Coviello '08, Dan Ruggles '08, and Michael Murphy '10. At the All-State competition this spring, John Repucci '09 and Martin Giordano '09 also earned honors.
Above: art by Jake Uminski '11

Ms. Malachowski's Advanced Placement Art students--Guilet Libby '08, John Flanagan '08, Vincent Coviello, and James Wellemeyer '08, have been busily preparing their portfolios for presentation to the College Board committee that will evaluate them. "These four boys have worked very hard," Malachowski said, "to move past their horizons and push themselves in new ways. They've honed their skills beyond realism to abstraction. I'm very proud of the work they've done."

Coviello displayed a panel of his work, mostly portraits and sketches. For his AP project, the theme was a tarot deck. "It gave me the ability to put my perspective on something old," Coviello said. One more colorful portrait revealed a man caught in between reality and fantasy. It's possibly how Coviello feels about sharing his first name with the fantastical Van Gogh, or about his prospects in leaving CM to study art at the Art Institute of Boston. His classmate Guilet Libby will also pursue art at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Senior Kyle Thompson, who elected not to enroll in AP Art but who has studied in the CM arts program for four years, pointed out his work to visitors. "Cam Dunbar ['09] painted the joker," he said. "That's pretty jazzy. And I like [junior Robbie] Kane's landscape. It's pretty cool."

Thompson himself had "Cave" on display, a surreal acrylic vision that started, he said, as a painting of a mountain. "But I didn't like it, so I turned it upside down." The result is an ominous view from the inside of a cave at the (former) mountain and a stalactite growing slowly over the millennia towards its symmetrical counterpart.

When asked what promise the underclassmen showed for the AP program in years to come, Coviello pointed to works like the observation piece Michael LaRocque '10 put together of things out of his pocket and the Atlas-inspired lunarscape of Jake Uminski '11.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Haiti comes to Baker Street

This Friday's senior presentation came to us via Dr. Claude Noel's organization, Partners with Haiti. Dr. Noel founded Partners with Haiti over twenty years ago as a way of micro-investing in one of the most stable and local institutions in rural villages in that developing country: the church.

Although CM Theology teacher Dr. Andrew Malionek has yet to visit the country, his friend Pastor Dieuseul Estivene invites him every year to visit Haiti and see the good work organizations like Partners with Haiti are doing. "I invited Pastor Estivene here," Dr. Malionek said after his friend's talk to the senior class on April 11, "because we just read Mountains Beyond Mountains, and because the present situation of unrest in Haiti makes this timely with what we're doing in class."

Above: Magda Estivene speaks
about health care in Haiti.

Pastor Estivene spoke to the seniors about Partners in Haiti after a brief slideshow displayed the work local church groups in Boston and Rhode Island (where the organization calls home) have done in past years in villages outside Port-au-Prince.

"We are helping to build schools and community centers in Haiti," Pastor Estivene said through a translator, "that will help people get out of their situation. It's a dream for them to see their lives change." One school that church groups in Massachusetts have helped build, noted Estivene, has grown in recent years from ten to over four hundred students.

One thing the churches and schools teach ordinary Haitians about is better health care. "There's a close relationship between poverty in Haiti and HIV," said Pastor Estivene's wife Magda, whose position with Partners with Haiti revolves around public health. "When the immune system is so reduced by HIV," she told the seniors, "any illness can effect them--tuberculosis, typhoid, and malnutrition."

After the event, seniors were able to offer comments and ask questions about the solutions that groups like Partners with Haiti are devising.

"It was good to get feedback from people who have lived there," said Silverio Conte '08, "rather than anything exaggerated or biased an American might bring back." Conte found the statistics he heard about Haiti remarkable. "Over 80% of the country, they said, live below the poverty line," Conte recalled.

For their summer reading and accompanying their study of liberation theology in senior religion classes, seniors study groups like Partners with Haiti. Every senior reads and discusses Paul Farmer's biography, Mountains beyond Mountains, written by Tracy Kidder.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Declaiming their way to fame

Standing in the Ron Perry Gym at CM on Sunday afternoon, you got a good feel for how that space is used for such a variety of purposes, other than athletics. Only a few nights before, Giddens Rateau, Dan Masterson, and Sungeun Park, among others, had crooned their best against the acoustics of the seventy-foot tall ceilings at the annual Spring Talent Show. After school the next day, Mr. Spaner and his cast for the upcoming Guys and Dolls concert held one of their final practices.

Then on Sunday afternoon, Graham Madden '08 took the stage and got the 8th annual Afternoon of Exceptional Oratory, an event organized by the CM Forensics team, off to an inspiring start. His performance of "Soda Jerk" was a series of poems by Cynthia Rylant about a young man's thoughts on growing up while waiting tables at his local restaurant.

Madden, a co-captain of the Forensics team, showed guests like District Attorney Dan Conley, State Representative Mike Rush, City Councilor John Tobin, and others just how far the Forensics team has come under Mr. Rob Croteau and Brother Anthony Cavet's coaching.

In one room that afternoon, guests and classmates watched Michael Giovanucci '09 perform a play he had performed and competed with throughout the year, then saw Brendan McGowan '13 recite his declamation and Patrick Simas '10 read a few poems he knows all too well after having recited them at a dozen speech and debate tournaments. The team, which on Saturday had earned 4th place in the state at the State Tournament in Westford, New Hampshire, is what Mr. Croteau calls "a complete team."

"We had winners in all grades this year," Croteau said, "not just great seniors."

Co-captain Liam Concannon likes the Afternoon of Exceptional Oratory because it shows the younger students on the team just what lies ahead, because few of them actually get to watch each other perform for a live audience through the year. "Kids--and parents," said Concannon, "get to see what you can become if you stick with the program."

"It was nice to see my brother [Ethan '11] perform," Madden said of the afternoon. "I'd been working with him all year, but never saw him perform for an audience. It's nice to know that when I leave he'll keep it going. He's come a long way."

Mr. Croteau took the time to congratulate Mrs. Eberly for her superhuman efforts with the middle school students, observing to the audience in the Perry Gym that the program wouldn't be as successful without their formative experiences in Forensics in 7th and 8th grade with her. Croteau also thanked all the parents, especially Mrs. Jean Ahern, for their work in putting the event together and being so supportive all year.

Congratulations are in order to the following students for excellence in Forensics at the state meet:

Joseph Murphy--State Champion in Radio Broadcasting
Aram Gurekian--2nd place in Declamation
Graham Madden--3rd place in Prose
John Labelle--3rd place in Play Reading
Matthew Connolly--4th place in Play Reading
John Labelle and Liam Concannon--5th place in Duo Interpretation
Ethan Madden--5th place in Declamation
Graham Madden--6th place in Poetry
Kevin Tobin--6th place in Radio Broadcasting
Brian Murphy--6th place in Dramatic Interpretation
John Federico--Top Novice in Radio
Matthew Connolly--Top Novice in Play Reading