Drama Club members achieve a year of firsts at Drama Festival

For the first time in Manchester Essex history, the Drama Club advanced to and won State Finals in the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Festival with its performance of “The Complete History of America (Abridged).”

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  For the first time in Manchester Essex history, the Drama Club advanced to and won State Finals in the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Festival with its performance of “The Complete History of America (Abridged).”

  After hosting the preliminary round, the club advanced onto semi-finals. “Although I had already advanced to semi-finals my sophomore year, the fact that we were moving on my senior year made it that much more special,” senior Drama Club president Maura Driscoll said.

  Although the group was very confident in their show, according to co director Gloria Tanner, when they announced their show was moving on to the state finals, Tanner and the group did not believe it. Part of their amazement was due to the fact that for the first time in 27 years, the third time in history, St. John’s Preparatory School did not advance to States.

  “We always assume that St. John’s is going to do very well, so the fact that we moved on and they did not was an amazing achievement for us,” Driscoll said.

  The club traveled to the State Finals on March 31 to April 2. “States was incredible. The whole experience was so amazing from seeing all the different shows, to hanging out with our Hamilton-Wenham friends, to staying at the Copley Marriot Hotel,” junior actress Morgan Kennedy said.

  The cast and crew were even more astounded when their name was called first at the award ceremony. “I was stunned. It was magical. I still don’t quite believe it…not that we didn’t deserve to win, but it is an amazing thing,” Tanner said.

  “I mean, the decision is up to three judges, and it is all about who brings it. Our set wasn’t as large or amazing as the other schools, but our work showed in our acting and clearly the judges saw that,” she added.

  Not only did the club win the state championships, but a few members also won awards.  In the preliminary round, Driscoll, Kennedy, and senior Connor Hoff won awards for their outstanding acting performance. During semis, Driscoll, Kennedy, and Hoff won acting awards again; freshman Charlie Hoff won an award for excellence in lighting design, and junior Ian Gillis won for his violin playing and acting. In finals, Driscoll, Kennedy, and juniors Matt Corwin and Katerina Eichenberger won outstanding acting awards.

  The Drama Club consists of 31 members, including actors and tech crew. “The actors get all the praise, but the people who aren’t seen are just as important. They are the ones who keep the show moving and who keep it together,” Tanner said.

  The next round, which is non-competitive, is New Englands. The event will be held at Andover High School from April 16-18. Finalists from each state competition advance to perform with the finalists from other New England states. It  is not necessary to go even if a school wins States, but the cast and crew will be traveling to Andover this year, according to Driscoll.

  “Winning the entire competition still doesn’t even feel real. I can’t even describe how ecstatic I am with our performance and how proud of our cast and crew I am,” she said.

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Class of 2011 savings allow for more activities during senior week

Due to the “boatload” of money the senior class has made over the last four years, their senior week is going to be full of fun activities, many for free, according to the senior class advisor Eric Magers.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

 Due to the “boatload” of money the senior class has made over the last four years, their senior week is going to be full of fun activities, many for free, according to the senior class advisor Eric Magers.

  Most classes are advised to make around $25,000 in order to pay for things like prom and a white water rafting trip, but this year’s senior class has made more than $42,000 due to an abundance of very successful fundraisers, according to Magers.

  “It’s the most amazing fundraising this school has ever seen,” Magers said. “The parents have really united over the years, and students have always been there to help. We wouldn’t be able to do the things we are about to embark on without everyone’s help.”

  Senior week starts on Friday, May 27, with a mandatory Memorial Day assembly at 8:30 a.m. After the assembly, seniors are free to leave until 5:30 p.m., when the buses leave for prom. This year, prom will be at the New England Aquarium. Tickets are $50 for seniors and $70 for underclassmen.

  “I have been getting a lot of complaints about the pricey tickets, but we decided it was worth it for the new, more interesting and exciting venue,” Magers said.

  The senior class will travel to Prince Pizza in Saugus on Sunday, May 29 for a pizza and comedy night. The night is $25 per person and $250 for each bus, but it is all paid for with the money made by the class. Magers received good feedback about the comedy night. “I’ve heard it’s very funny and age appropriate,” he said.

  Next on May 30 through May 31, the class will be going on a white water rafting trip on the Kennebec River in Maine and will be staying at the Northern Outdoors lodge in Forks. The trip costs about $12,000.

  “It is a great way for the class to really bond. There is a lot of ‘remember when’ conversations and a time for the Manchester and Essex kids to reminisce,” Magers said.

  “I am definitely looking most forward to the white water rafting trip,” senior class vice president Molly Friedman said. “The bonding aspect is what really makes me most excited. We are all going to be a lot closer after the two days.”

  The senior class begin the day  with a mandatory graduation practice on Wednesday, June 1and then at 10 a.m., the seniors will leave for their Six Flags trip until 8 p.m. The class funds cover the cost of about $29 per person.

  A mandatory athletic and academic awards ceremony is held on Thursday, June 2. After the ceremony, seniors will attend another graduation practice and then a potluck lunch at Tucks Point, put on by the senior parents. Later that night at 7 p.m., the Baccalaureate ceremony will take place in the high school auditorium.

  Graduation will be held at the Joseph Hyland Field on Friday, June 3, from 5:50 to 7:30 p.m.

  “The time we have all been waiting for will finally be here. I cannot wait to walk across that field in my cap and gown,” senior class secretary Grace Gillette said.

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New Wii video game makes every player dance, has enormous success

One of the newest hit video games in the world today, “Just Dance 2,” has been entertaining billions of people, old and young, since it was released on October 12, 2010.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  One of the newest hit video games in the world today, “Just Dance 2,” has been entertaining billions of people, old and young, since it was released on October 12, 2010.

  “Just Dance 2,” the sequel to “Just Dance,” requires the players, each with a Wii Remote, to follow on-screen choreographed moves set to classic dance tracks, mimicking crazy and colorfully dressed animated dancers.

  Whether it’s the awesome music, fun dance moves, or new game modes, this game has been a huge hit and is an absolute crowd-pleaser.

  “Just Dance 2” has a huge selection of songs, ranging from the 1920s to present day pop. Some include, “Sway” by the Marine Band,  “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls, and “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce. Players also have the option to download songs such as “Barbie Girl” by Aqua and “Firework” by Katy Perry.

  Along with the updated track list, the new game also has four new dance modes. In “Just Dance Mode,” players can dance for as long as they want with options like “Non-stop Shuffle” and “Medleys,” a mix of 5 shortened songs put together.

  The second new mode is “Duets” where instead of dancing by themselves, the players dance together. The players still compete to see who does best, but it makes the players pay attention to those around them and adds a fun new concept to the game. An example of a duet in “Just Dance 2” is the song “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne.

  Another new mode is “Dance Battle Mode” where teams can be made of up to eight players and each individual score adds up to make the overall team score.

  “Just Sweat Mode” is the last of the new modes. It is an exercise mode that allows the players to measure the energy they use while dancing and set different goals to be achieved by the end of their dance session. The original game was already a great workout to begin with, and with this new mode, the energy spent playing can only increase.

  Overall, “Just Dance 2” has gotten great reviews and much better than those about the original “Just Dance.” IGN, or Imagine Games Network, entertainment in the United Kingdom gave “Just Dance 2” eight out of ten stars while they gave “Just Dance” only 2.

  After 19 weeks of being released, “Just Dance 2” sold around 6 million copies worldwide and around 4 million in the Americas alone. A third “Just Dance” is currently under development and will be released sometime this year.

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‘Robots by the C’ constructs robot for FIRST competition

Although the robotics class and the robotics team have a lot of the same members, the two operate completely separately. The robotics team is an independent program, started about 5 years ago, and was not affiliated with the school until about 4 years ago, according to junior member Sean Halloran.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Although the robotics class and the robotics team have a lot of the same members, the two operate completely separately. The robotics team is an independent program, started about 5 years ago, and was not affiliated with the school until about 4 years ago, according to junior member Sean Halloran.

  The team has 24 members. Halloran is this year’s team captain, and Learning Center teacher Robert Meltz is the adult leader. Juniors Ben Scarafoni and Peter Goulakos are co-captains. “The team is a lot like running a business. We have a corporate structure, and we raise our own funds, and we budget our money on buying the supplies we need,” Halloran said.

  Although the class and the club share some of the same members, they are still very different. “The big difference is that we raise our own funds and participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which stands for ‘For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,’” Halloran said.

  In the First Robotics Competition, the team is FIRST Robotics Team 2084, and their name is “RobotsByTheC.” They meet all year round to work on small projects and to fundraise, and in the first week of January, the team went to the national kickoff event in New Hampshire where they were presented with the game of that year.

  The game this year, “Logomotion,” consists of robots from three different teams moving around inflatable shapes and putting them on pegs at the end of the field to form the FIRST logo.

  After the game is presented, the teams have six weeks to build the robot. “These are six weeks of intense work,” Halloran said. “We meet every single day at the school in room B137 and go through the design process of researching, prototyping, and testing.”

  Last year, the team placed 11 out of 53 teams at the tournament, and they made it to quarterfinals before a mechanical failure rendered them helpless. This year, the competition is April 7, 8 and 9, and they hope to be one of the four teams to move onto the National competition in St. Louis. If the team wins Nationals, they will get to meet the president at the White House, according to Halloran.

  Despite problems this year with budget and snow days, the team has created a great robot, according to Halloran. It has a mounted camera to send video back to the people driving the robot, an action claw mounted on an arm capable of reaching nine feet, and an accelerometer to detect impacts on the robot.

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‘Robots by the Sea’ constructs robots for FIRST competition

Although the robotics class and the robotics team have a lot of the same members, the two operate completely separately. The robotics team is an independent program, started about 5 years ago, and was not affiliated with the school until about 4 years ago, according to junior member Sean Halloran.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Although the robotics class and the robotics team have a lot of the same members, the two operate completely separately. The robotics team is an independent program, started about 5 years ago, and was not affiliated with the school until about 4 years ago, according to junior member Sean Halloran.

  The team has 24 members. Halloran is this year’s team captain, and Learning Center teacher Robert Meltz is the adult leader. Juniors Ben Scarafoni and Peter Goulakos are co-captains. “The team is a lot like running a business. We have a corporate structure, and we raise our own funds, and we budget our money on buying the supplies we need,” Halloran said.

  Although the class and the club share some of the same members, they are still very different. “The big difference is that we raise our own funds and participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which stands for ‘For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,’” Halloran said.

  In the First Robotics Competition, the team is FIRST Robotics Team 2084, and their name is “RobotsByTheC.” They meet all year round to work on small projects and to fundraise, and in the first week of January, the team went to the national kickoff event in New Hampshire where they were presented with the game of that year.

  The game this year, “Logomotion,” consists of robots from three different teams moving around inflatable shapes and putting them on pegs at the end of the field to form the FIRST logo.

  After the game is presented, the teams have six weeks to build the robot. “These are six weeks of intense work,” Halloran said. “We meet every single day at the school in room B137 and go through the design process of researching, prototyping, and testing.”

  Last year, the team placed 11 out of 53 teams at the tournament, and they made it to quarterfinals before a mechanical failure rendered them helpless. This year, the competition is April 7, 8 and 9, and they hope to be one of the four teams to move onto the National competition in St. Louis. If the team wins Nationals, they will get to meet the president at the White House, according to Halloran.

  Despite problems this year with budget and snow days, the team has created a great robot, according to Halloran. It has a mounted camera to send video back to the people driving the robot, an action claw mounted on an arm capable of reaching nine feet, and an accelerometer to detect impacts on the robot.

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Swimming relay team, diver advance to Sectionals, States

After finishing their first regular season at varsity level, the ski team sent four of its members to the State Alpine Championships.

By Morgan Kennedy

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  After finishing their first regular season at varsity level, the ski team sent four of its members to the State Alpine Championships.

  Senior captain Molly Friedman, sophomore Megan Jones, sophomore Brian McAuliff, and eighth-grader Alex Marshall raced the slalom and giant slalom at the state competition on March 1, at the Berkshire East Ski Area in Charlemont, Mass.

  Being eligible to compete at States, each of the four racers was ranked in the top 12 in their league, according to coach Chris Ahearn.

  According to McAuliff, the racers prepared for states by skiing a giant slalom course 3-4 days a week at Bradford Mountain.

  At States, three racers constitute a team, allowing the girls to compete for the team title as well as individually, but restricting McAuliff to individual scoring only, according to Jones.

  Ahearn is pleased with the racers’ performances.

  “Molly rallied and put on a great time in the slalom after unfortunately crashing in the giant slalom. Alex put together great times in both runs, and our best result was a seventh place finish, out of 135 girls, in the giant slalom for Megan Jones. The girls finished 12 out of 25 teams,” he said.

  According to Ahearn, McAuliff crashed during both runs due to an unfavorable course.

  “He had an unlucky bib number of 100, meaning 99 racers went through the course before him, leaving it rutted and icy. The course was also three time longer and much steeper than that of Bradford,” Ahearn said.

  Jones was also challenged by the course.

  “It was definitely more difficult than what we are used to, especially because we didn’t race slalom during the regular season, but difficulty is to be expected at such a big event,” she said.

  Overall, Ahearn said the ski team met its goals for the season.

  “They exceeded all possible expectations. These kids sacrificed countless hours for the team, and they deserve every accolade possible,” he said.

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In pursuit of goal, swim team beats Ipswich in recent meet with hard work and determination

Carrying a record of 1-6-1, the swim team has achieved their goal of winning a meet, with their recent meet against Ipswich, head coach Katie Garvin said.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Carrying a record of 1-6-1, the swim team has achieved their goal of winning a meet, with their recent meet against Ipswich, head coach Katie Garvin said.

  “It was a really satisfying meet because we have lost to not only Ipswich in the past, but every other team for the last three years. Winning was an amazing feeling,” senior captain Nick Bouwer said.

  According to Bouwer, the key swimmers in their meet against Ipswich were senior captains Matt and Nick Bouwer and Maddy Huleatt and sophomore Dustin Ferzacca.

  According to Garvin, the meet against North Reading, which they tied, was one of their best meets this season. “The meet was back and forth the whole times in terms of the score, and our kids worked ridiculously hard from start to finish with amazing attitudes and support for each other,” she said.

  “We were really proud of the kids for the tie,” Garvin said.

  “Our tie against North Reading was huge, and our intensity and want for the win definitely came out in our meet against Ipswich,” Huleatt said.

  The key swimmers this year have been Ferzacca, sophomore Alex Walder, the Bouwers and Huleatt, according to Garvin.

  There have also been multiple swimmers who have really improved and stepped up their game this year including, freshman Michael Phelan, sophomores Ellie Mortillaro and Alex Shepard, and seventh-grader Nathaniel Rautio, Garvin said.

  “I’m really impressed with our team this season,” Huleatt said. “Katie and Reeve have been doing a tremendous job at improving our team and making us more competitive. Everyone’s been working really hard and contributing to the team effort.”

  According to Garvin, their toughest meet in terms of the competition was either Hamilton-Wenham or Lynnfield. “Both teams are very strong. Though Hamilton-Wenham has a stronger group of girls, they were both very tough to compete against,” Garvin said

  Last Sunday, February 6, the varsity team competed in the Cape Ann League championships.

  Although the team, as a whole, does not yet know how they finished, nearly everyone stepped up and beat their personal records, according to Huleatt. Walder also won the diving competition by a huge margin.

  “It was a great way to end the season, and we all look forward to seeing how Alex and the others perform in the upcoming sectionals and states,” Huleatt said.

  Along with the CAL championships, Ferzacca, Walder, and the Bouwers will be competing in the Boys’ Sectionals meet on February 12. at MIT. Walder will be diving in that meet along with the Boys’ North State meet the following weekend.

  “Our team has come a long way this year, and our coaches have been really good at pushing everybody to do their personal best. I was really happy when we tied, and even happier when we beat Ipswich,” Matt Bouwer said.

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Nicholas Seafood and Grille mixes tradition, American cuisine with seafood

Nicholas Seafood and Grille, a new restaurant recently opened in Manchester at 40 Beach Street, has hopes of sticking around longer than previous businesses in the same location.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF 

  Nicholas Seafood and Grille, a new restaurant recently opened in Manchester at 40 Beach Street, has hopes of sticking around longer than previous businesses in the same location.

  The restaurant has a tasty mix of seafood and other American cuisine, offering soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, beef, seafood, and dessert. The wide variety of foods, great atmosphere, and friendly staff all prove to be very promising for the new restaurant.

  Nicholas’ has moderate prices and is able to compete with other restaurants in town such as The Landing and Cala’s. One can get a soup or a salad for $5 to $8 and a burger, sandwich, or other entrée for under $20.

  The swordfish entrée was flavorful and crisp while the delicious key lime pie was tangy and light. The clam chowder was a perfect blend of clams and potatoes, and the haddock special was unique with tomato and basil surrounding it.

  The restaurant has a commodious location near the train, harbor, beach, and shopping area and should attract many tourists in the summer with outside seating. It has ample parking, including handicap parking spaces, and is wheelchair accessible.   

  Nicholas Seafood and Grille offers a warm and inviting atmosphere with a Christmas tree up for the holidays, lights surrounding the room, and comfortable table and chairs. It’s perfect for families because of the wide variety of foods and the additional kids menu. The bar and restaurant are separated enough so neither are intrusive of the other, but both are easily accessible.

  Although not technically family-owned, the staff are mostly family. Marcia O’Brian owns the restaurant. Her brother-in-law brings the fresh lobsters, and her nephew supplies the fresh clams. Both of her sisters work on the staff, and the new head chef, Manny Marques, is O’Brian’s cousin.

  Prior to working at Nicholas’, Marques spent 15 years working for the popular restaurant The Gull in Gloucester. He then spent five years at the Gloucester House and eight to nine years at Woodman’s, according to O’Brian.

  While The Landing and Cala’s have recently been taken over by their bars, Nicholas’ still remains a family restaurant, enticing for all ages. One can enjoy a quality and well-priced meal while being entertained by their full bar and wonderful staff.

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Golf team competes at States for first time, finishes fifth

Finishing fifth in the division while competing in the state finals for the first time in Manchester Essex history, the golf team far exceeded their goals for the year, coach Jane McConnell said.

By Piper Browne

 INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Finishing fifth in the division while competing in the state finals for the first time in Manchester Essex history, the golf team far exceeded their goals for the year, coach Jane McConnell said.

  The team’s goals were to win the Old Cape Ann Classic, win the division championships, qualify for the state tournament, and go to the finals. According to McConnell they achieved every single one.

   “Our goal wasn’t just to make it to the qualifier rounds, but make it to the state tournament, and we ended up finishing fifth in the division,” said Cape Ann League Player of the Year, senior Connor Howlett,

  “It was a great way to end my high school golf career,” he said.

  According to McConnell, because golf is such an unpredictable and challenging game, it is difficult to pinpoint the hardest match of the season. One of their highest achievements, she said, was losing to Masconomet, the strongest team in the league, by only one point.

  “Golf is a different animal,” McConnell said, adding that Newburyport, Amesbury, and Wilmington were also very challenging because the players were so evenly matched.

  The five players that took part in the state finals were seniors Alex Porter, Corey Barstis, and Howlett; sophomore Josh Christopher, freshman Miles Wood, and eighth-grader Ben Bichet. Wood scored the highest individual score with 76, and Howlett was close behind with 81.

  According to McConnell, these were the six key players for the whole season, but the team would not be nearly as successful without the help from the other players on the team who played an important role in earlier matches.

  The goals for next season will be decided by the next year’s golf team but, “now that [the younger players] have had a taste of this level of success, they will want to try it for themselves,” McConnell said.

  According to Porter and Barstis, what helped the team improve this year was their closeness to each other off of the golf course.

   “We hung out together a lot more this year, outside of school, and it has really brought us together,” Porter said. Both Porter and Barstis advised the team for next year to stay confident and show as much commitment as the team did this year.     

  Due to the strong leadership from the four captains, determination, and positive energy, the team was able to be a complete success this year, according to McConnell.

  “They were an absolutely outstanding group,” she said.

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Shannon Alger brings passion, creativity to teaching staff

Joining the special education department as a teaching assistant to special education teacher, Robert Garrett has allowed Shannon Alger to bring out her hidden creativity, she said.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Joining the special education department as a teaching assistant to special education teacher, Robert Garrett has allowed Shannon Alger to bring out her hidden creativity, she said.

   Before coming to Manchester Essex, Alger worked as a counselor in the Boston Regional medical Center in the children’s unit.

  After her job at the medical center, she took a 14 year break from working outside of her home to be a mother for her two sons. She continued to work from her house for a software company and then in media correlation for Pearson Publication.

  Alger attended University of New Hampshire where she majored in psychology. She also swam competitively, and continued to coach the swimming team in her later years at the university.

  Alger says she hopes to complete her masters in education in the next year at Salem State University.

  While in college, Alger knew that she wanted to teach special education. “I have always wanted to be a teacher, and it was my perfect avenue to teach,” she said.

  Special education helps bring out Alger’s creative side as she searches for different and catchy ways to teach the information, she said.

  According to Garrett, Alger is very passionate and pushes her students to work as hard as they can.

  “She goes above and beyond to see them succeed and has a great rapport with her students,” he said.

  According to Alger, she works with about six kids at the school and loves them all. Along with her students, the faculty, the small community feeling, and the warm and welcoming attitudes of the school, she loves seeing what math teacher Rick Brown will wear every day.

  “She’s my long lost BFF…I laugh every time we’re together,” Brown said.

  Something unique about Alger’s new job at Manchester Essex is the fact that she works in the same environment as her husband, David Alger, a math teacher.

  “Working with Mr. Alger is great! I get to come up and steal his food at lunch time, and if he ever gets a flat tire, I can give him a ride home,” she said, laughing.

  Alger has participated in several athletic events including the Boston Marathon and various triathlons. She has also competed in a Half-iron Man, where she had to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles.

  During the summer, Alger enjoys working in Ipswich at Fellows Farm, an organic farm that donates food to organizations in need.

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