Category Archives: Entertainment

Music, Hilarity, Canned Meat Coming to HHS Stage

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

The HHS Drama Department is excited to announce that this year’s main stage musical will be Spamalot, The Musical! Spamalot is a comedic show based on the 1975 movie Monty Python and The Holy Grail, which was adapted for Broadway in 2005. This show twists the legend of Camelot and King Arthur’s journey to find the Holy Grail, a mythical cup said to grant eternal life. Arthur looks for knights who can join him on his quest, and along the way, finds groups of hysterical characters. HHS drama and music teachers – Mr. Fahey, Mr. Wade, and Mr. Harden – are looking for talented vocalists, actors, dancers, and crew members to help make this show a success! 

“We chose to do Spamalot this year for a few different reasons,” Mr. Fahey said. “Spamalot has a decent size cast with flexible casting opportunities, great opportunities for technical elements, and many hilarious characters which the audience may, or may not be, familiar with. We love Monty Python and we’re very excited to bring this wacky, fun show to life this year! “

Auditions for Spamalot, The Musical will be held November 16 from 3:30-6 pm in the HHS auditorium. Callbacks will be November 17, 3:30-6 pm. Rehearsals will be Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6-8 pm and will increase as the performance date nears. Mr. Fahey expects the show will be staged in February.

For any questions or for more information, please reach out to Mr. Faherty, Mr. Wade, or Mr. Harden.

As Windows and Mirrors, Books Can Build Empathy, Acceptance

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian/Advisor of The Hawk

When you go to the library or a local bookstore, can you find books where you see a reflection of yourself? Are there books that feature characters who look and sound like you, who live where you do, whose experiences are similar to what you’ve gone through?

These books are often called “mirrors,” important to help people feel valued, understood and represented in their communities. Every library strives to include “mirrors” for diverse populations – based not just on race and ethnicity but also religion, sexual identity, learning differences, disabilities, economic factors, health issues and more. For people outside of these populations, these “mirrors” become “windows,” allowing a look into someone else’s world. While mirrors validate ourselves, windows help us build empathy and tolerance for others.

The HHS Library has a display of “window and mirror” books for Inclusive Schools Week, and has focused on adding more diverse perspectives in recent years to reflect national conversations about race, equal rights and tolerance. The publishing industry, though, still has a long way to go before it truly represents the makeup of our country. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, which tracks new books each year, half of all children’s books published still feature white characters. In 2018, animals, trucks and other inanimate objects were featured more often than four other ethnicities combined. Those figures focus on race, but experts say the issues are the same with books about LGBTQ and other perspectives. As depicted in the infographic, this results in large mirrors for some populations and a sliver of representation for others.

Organizations like We Need Diverse Books are working to change the publishing industry, as are young influencers using social media such as BookTok to post reviews. You can help by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new genres or topics, and then spreading the word about books you like. Stop by the library and check out the latest display, or explore some of the resources for diverse books in this article. When we find “mirrors” in books, we feel more connected and understood. With more “windows” into others’ lives, we can become more compassionate and accepting. And as Inclusive Schools Week reminds us, we are stronger when we celebrate our differences and come together as a community.


Jonas Brothers Rock Fenway

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

Three brothers. Fenway Park. A sold-out show. 

It was a dream come true for me and a stadium filled with screaming fans who were excited to see the Jonas Brothers perform on October 1 as part of the Remember This Tour. Country singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini opened before Kevin, Joe and Nick took the stage.

The Remember This Tour went across the country, performing in 42 locations throughout the United States. It was a completely sold-out show, but since the venues for all 42 locations on the tour were outside, the Jonas Brothers tried to keep their fans safe from COVID-19. 

I was unable to watch the entire opening act, but from the last few songs that I heard, Kelsea Ballerini sounded great. She’s famous for Half of My Hometown, with Kenny Chesney, and I Quit Drinking.

Soon after Kelsea Ballerini was finished performing, the Jonas Brothers came on and started the show!  I’ve listened to all of their songs and was excited to be able to see them in concert, especially after the crazy year everyone went through. 

The Jonas Brothers performed new songs that came out recently, along with some of the songs they wrote when they first became a band in 2005. The show included Remember This (their newest song), What A Man Gotta Do, Burnin’ Up, and Year 3000. Jealous and Cake By The Ocean, songs from their solo careers, were performed as well.  Also, since they were in Boston, they played Sweet Caroline as a special treat just for the fans. 

For me, the show was amazing and I can’t wait to go back to another one. Seeing the Jonas Brothers live in concert was so fun, and I am so glad that I had the chance to go. Now, it’s time to wait for new music to be released. Fingers crossed!

Chess Chat: Protecting Your King

By Cole Gannon, ’22

Contributor

The first in an occassional series about chess strategy, written by members of the HHS Chess Club

When facing a good chess player, there is one move that will protect your king from checkmate for at least the better half of a match, if done correctly. 

Your first move needs to be to move the pawn in front of your king one space forward. Then, move the bishop on your kingside in front of your king.

After that, move your kingside knight to the front of your line of pawns. Now, is when you can do something called castling. In one move you can move your king next to your rook and then flip your rook on to the other side of your king. 

This will protect your king from immediate checkmate and give you time to defend.

If you are intrigued, like playing chess, or just like competition then join the Chess Club. Anyone is welcome and no experience is necessary. Meetings are Thursdays before school in room 225 at 7:15.

Questions? Ask Dylan Rice, Cole Gannon or Mrs. McCusker.

Banned Books Week Highlights “Dangerous,” “Offensive” Titles

By Mrs. McHugh

HHS Librarian/Advisor of The Hawk

Who gets to decide what you’re allowed to read?

That’s the question the American Library Association asks each year during Banned Books Week. A national group of school, public and university librarians, the ALA started the program in 1982 as more and more books were being challenged by parents, religious leaders, or politicians who believe those titles should be removed from the school or public library. The challengers argue that readers, especially students, should not have access to this “dangerous” material.  

What are these “dangerous” books? Why are they being challenged? According to the Banned Books Week website, the book George by Alex Gino was the most frequently challenged book in 2020. The story of a transgender student seeking acceptance in school, George comes under fire for its LGBTQIA+ content and because, critics say, it conflicts with religious or community values. In fact, books about LGBTQIA+ issues have long been among the most challenged. The picture book And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, about two male penguins who adopt a chick, was among eight books on the 2019 top ten list cited for homosexual content.

In 2020, the ALA noted, challenges shifted toward many books dealing with racism and police violence. Among the 10 most challenged were Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, and The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. The books were criticized as being biased, political and anti-police.

Other arguments that critics have used to launch challenges are that the books promote witchcraft (the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling), disruptive behavior (Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey), profanity (The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood) or sexual activity (Looking for Alaska by John Green). Books that deal with rape, sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug use, suicide or other serious issues are often called too mature for students. 

Librarians, book sellers, publishers and readers fight these challenges, sometimes in the courts. But the fear is that frequent challenges will result in self-censorship, making authors think twice before tackling sensitive topics, or librarians and teachers wary of including controversial books on their shelves.

Many of the books mentioned in this article can be found in the HHS library which, like all libraries, sets selection policies for choosing books. There are many factors considered when adding books to the library, including the age and social/emotional development of students, the needs of the curriculum, and the quality of the book. But isn’t choosing just some books for a library a kind of censorship? Librarians say the difference is that their focus is on including the varied interests and viewpoints of their communities, rather than excluding topics that are controversial or sensitive. 

Some books that have been challenged end up being accepted as problematic, requiring honest discussion and reflection before being used in a classroom. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, for example, uses racial slurs that, while appropriate for the setting of the book, can be upsetting to readers. It also has been criticized for promoting the idea of a “white savior,” where the white characters are the heroes who rescue the African Americans who are incapable of saving themselves. Educators in recent years have begun asking what other books might better address the issues of racism and discrimination. Is this the same as banning a book? Or is it an evolution of our cultural norms? 

Who gets to decide what is appropriate? That’s the question at the heart of Banned Books Week. If a book upsets you, should you have the power to keep others from reading it? If you find it offensive, can you demand it be removed from the library or classroom? The American Library Association says no. By commemorating Banned Books Week, which was  held this year from Sept. 26-Oct. 2, the group argues that students and adults alike should be free to read whatever interests them — no matter how dangerous somebody else thinks it is.

For more information:

https://bannedbooksweek.org/

https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10

The Show goes on for HHS drama

By Caris Mann, ’22

Staff Writer

After an unexpected year that provided many plot twists and turns, HHS Drama is ready to present its newest one-act play: 4 AM. The play by Jonathan Dorf is a “dramedy,” meaning that there are some dramatic and comedic moments throughout the piece with a varied cast of characters. There’s Frankie, the radio DJ, and Jane, the girl writing a letter to a knife company about why their product has failed her. There are two pairs of friends at sleepovers: Anne and Monica and Simon and Hale. The Monster Under the Bed runs into trouble with some Police Officers who storm a sleeping kid’s bedroom. The play also has a kid who witnesses a fire and a teen out for a morning jog. To top it all off, there’s Romeo and Juliet, two teenagers in love with each other but are afraid to make the wrong move. However, this odd group of characters all have one thing in common and that is the fact that they are all awake at the dreaded hour of 4 am. The play provides insight into how different people lead their lives during that last hour of darkness before sunrise and it does so with many comedic and heartfelt moments along the way. 

The play will be entered in the annual Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Fest. This year, with COVID guidelines, the Drama Fest had to be conducted differently. The process began with Zoom auditions and callbacks in January. This was quite different from the in-person auditions of the past. Students had to select a scene or a monologue to read and perform it over Zoom. After the cast list was announced, rehearsals began the following week — once again on Zoom. For a month, rehearsals were conducted via Zoom as it was the safest way to practice. Then, in March, it was announced that rehearsals could be conducted in-person and in the auditorium. This was a huge step forward because now the actors could have a space to work in and be able to interact with each other. However, guidelines were still implemented with actors having to work within their own set boxes on the stage and remain six feet apart. Google forms were also filled out for contact tracing before every rehearsal. In addition, the entire cast was not able to be in the theater together so different groups of actors were brought in at different rehearsals to work on specific scenes. For two months, rehearsals continued in person, with the cast unsure whether the final performance would be in-person or virtual. In the end, Drama Fest officials decided upon virtual performances, and cast members performed separate scenes that were filmed and then edited together. With the hard work of the cast, crew, and HHS Drama Teacher Mr. Fahey, recordings ended on May 12th with the video set to premiere next week.

By far, this has been the craziest year in HHS Drama. But even though this has been a long and unusual process, the end result is something to look forward to. This has been the first production in over a year, which is truly something to celebrate.

“At the beginning of the year, we were all missing the element of performing as a group,” said  Stage Manager Maggie Godin, a senior. “Getting to come in every day and seeing people in the theater again, building sets after school, and rehearsing scenes together has been really great.” 

Mr. Fahey shares the excitement, noting that many school drama programs were unable to perform at all this year. Pulling off 4 AM, though, took a huge commitment from everyone involved. While in typical years the Drama Fest one-act play comes together in about a month, this one took five months.

“We have spent this extra time creatively trying to figure out what to do and hitting roadblocks and trying to adjust,” he said. “We have also spent this time nitpicking every scene which is extremely important in theater. I am excited for the community to see it and I think that those who are involved are excited and believe 4 AM to have been a good experience.” 

However, 4 AM is a bittersweet moment for some in the cast such as senior Elise Falvey because this is her last show. “I’m extremely grateful that we were able to at least put on one show this year, even though it’s being done in a more nontraditional or unconventional way than usual,” she said. “I’ve had so much fun rehearsing and I’m really happy to finish senior year out with such an incredible and touching show.”

Make sure you tune in to watch 4 AM when it streams on Youtube!

Dread Nation: American History, with Zombies

By Mrs. McHugh

Zombie plagues have been the rage in TV, movies and books for years. But setting a Zombie plague during the American Civil War? Now that’s something new.

Justina Ireland turns historical fiction on its head with her two-book series Dread Nation. Titled Rise Up and Deathless Divide, the books explore the racial, social and economic impacts of the ‘War Between the States’ and give new meaning to the term Reconstruction, the period of rebuilding and reunifying society after the war’s end. While no book involving zombies can be historically accurate, the stories build on the real people, events and issues of the time to highlight the brutality of slavery and the inequality that remained as the country moved forward – and westward. As the author explains in her notes, she wrote the books to give voice to characters often left out of history.

The books focus on Jane and Katherine, two Black teens taken from their homes after the dead begin to rise during the Battle of Gettysburg. Like other children of their race, they are deemed inferior – and therefore expendable – and sent to boarding schools that train them to protect rich whites from the undead. (These boarding schools resembled the facilities that Native Americans were sent to in the 1800s, when the U.S. government stole their land and forced their assimilation) The girls excel in their training, but before they can be assigned to protect society ladies, they uncover a sinister plot to build a “utopia” to replace the Eastern cities falling to the zombie plague. This new community is founded on the principles of Jim Crow, the discriminatory laws that rose to continue the oppression of Blacks after slavery was abolished. This means Blacks have no rights and are assigned the most dangerous jobs and the worst living conditions.

Tough-hearted and quick to temper, Jane resolves not just to survive, but to find an escape. Light-skinned and able to pass as White, Katherine plays along with the cruel society in order to help Jane’s plan to secure their freedom. There are tense battles, sorrowful deaths, cruel betrayals, heart-wrenching romances and epic friendships. And that’s just in book one. In the second book, the main characters venture west. Alive but forever changed, one seeks safety and peace while the other pursues vengeance.

The books are a unique way to explore the issues of American history including slavery and Reconstruction, the government’s treatment of Native Americans, the cultural clashes that came with waves of immigration, expansion of the western frontier, and the search for the “American dream.” But if you aren’t really interested in the history, the books aren’t slowed down by it. The series provides enough action and adventure for any reader.