‘Matilda’: The musical shown by HPSH Theater

By: McKenna Nutter

Images taken from: Photos from
Facebook: Joel Chirhart

‘Matilda’ is about a little girl born into a nasty, unappreciative family. A genius girl, full of stories and a mind as wide as the sky, trapped in a horrible family and a horrible school, run by the nasty Ms. Trunchbull. Agatha Trunchbull, ex-hammer throwing champion, runs a school much like a prison, and depending who you ask, some place much worse.

The only sort of light that reaches the classroom is the teacher, Jenny Honey. A kind-hearted soul, just as trapped as Matilda, Ms. Honey has never been able to find the courage to fight for herself, but when a clever little girl comes to her classroom, Jenny may find a reason to stand up for herself, Matilda, and her students. 

This year, Highland Park Theater got the opportunity to share this story. Senior Briana Li-Heidkamp sung her heart out as Matilda and Junior Jaya Bird could not have done better in her role of Ms. Honey.

One of the funniest parts in the show goes to Ms. Trunchbull, and senior Cleo Foley had everyone rolling with laughter.

Our whole cast was full of so many students and every one of them are incredibly talented.  

This year has been a hard year, and in theater we had no exception. Without a full audience, it was harder to keep the spirit up in the auditorium, but between all of the hard work, the whole cast and crew were able to have fun.

We were thankfully able to have our performance recorded and have a showing for other students during advisory. 

Images taken from: Photos from
Facebook: Joel Chirhart

If you aren’t involved in theater, it’s hard to know how much goes into a performance. This year, we had actors and crew in everyday after school working hard on learning lines for a two hour show.

We had our director, Nancy Michael, there through it all.

It’s more than remembering words, and places to be. Actors were working incredibly hard on character, and seeing the story through the characters’ eyes, and learning music and choreography.

So many students worked hard for this show, and not even all of them took the stage.

A number of students worked backstage with sets and costumes.

The whole show was choreographed by two Highland Park students: senior Soren Chirhart and junior Quinn Dwyer.

Between families, and friends of HPSH Theater, we could never have pulled it off, and a huge thank you to Nancy Michael for being there everyday and working hard to give us something to look forward to everyday.

Highland Theater is a community, and even though we have seen so many people on the stage, it never ceases to amaze me how talented our students at Highland are. 

Educating the educators: HPDA club and the Schoology course for SPPS teachers

By: Caroline Crosby (Vice President of Disability Alliance club at Highland)

Highland Park Senior High School, as well as similar learning establishments around the Twin Cities, display great student body diversity. It may be inferred, then, that a variety of individuals and ranging abilities demands a variety of accommodating instruction and environments.

Inclusion and accessibility are crucial in any working facility, especially in academic settings catered towards young adults and adolescence. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics dictates that the current 7 million students with disabilities in the U.S. comprise 14% of national public school enrollment. No small number!

With this significant information in mind, HP’s own Disability Alliance club (known to many Scotties as “DA club” for short) has been collaborating with the Office of Equity, and other district staff members, to create a comprehensive Schoology course on ableism. The course is described as an asynchronous educational training tool for SPPS faculty and teachers.

The goal? To prompt reflection and growth with attitude, bias, and experiences regarding education and ableism in schools. It may* include informative content on student perspective, the history of disability rights and laws, implicit bias, inclusive suggestions for the classroom, and much more.

As the VP of Disability Alliance, my hope is that this project will prompt lasting, progressive, change for faculty and students alike. Our club has been working closely to provide an in-depth understanding of academic encounters from middle and high schoolers’ perspectives.

From April 21 to May 9, DA opened a survey recording student experiences with accessibility in school. It was available to 6-12 graders anywhere within the district, and collected written and recorded accounts that may be used in the course material.

By the time submissions closed, the survey had collected a whopping 712 responses! Members of the club’s executive board were reportedly ecstatic with the volume of data that the survey received. 

When asked about her time working with the project, HP Junior, Founder, and DA Club President Rui Rui Bleifuss said, “I’m so excited for the impact of the Schoology course, and everything that comes with it. I look forward to seeing the change, and hope it raises awareness around the topics of inclusion + accessibility!”

It appears that enthusiasm for their work was shared across the board! Fellow Junior, and Club Treasurer, Samara Hickle stated, “I love working with Sherry Kempf and the other administrators! I hope this course will educate teachers and give them a better understanding of our experiences as students.”

As those involved move forward with the Schoology course and its illuminating information; students, teachers, and faculty can work day by day to promote a more inclusive environment for all. Positive change is often founded both by organized contribution, and individual participation!

*As a disclaimer: discussed/listed aspects of the Schoology course material in this article are not indicative of the final product. Finalized features and course details are subject to change. For questions or concerns, contact the DA club directly at hpdaclub@gmail.com.

For additional statistics on education and persons with disabilities, please visit:

What’s happening with HPSH theatre?

By: McKenna Nutter

Highland Park Senior High School definitely has its fair share of extracurricular activities. A wide range of sports for every season, awareness clubs, creativity outlets, and so many more. My personal involvement lies with the Highland Park Theatre Club. Each club and team all have their own sense of community, and theatre is no different.

The challenges that the year of 2020 has thrown at us all were hard to overcome, but we’ve been able to adapt for the safety of everyone. Unfortunately, these adaptations have left almost all of us stuck at home, and many after school activities have made plans for the rest of this year.

This last fall, Highland Theatre put together a number of student directed virtual shows. Auditions, rehearsals, meetings and tech was all done over Google Meet. The talented actors faced the challenges of portraying movement, emotion and a storyline all from the comfort of their own homes.

Each of the shows were all recorded, and are now almost all posted on the Highland Park Theatre YouTube channel at: HP Theatre. On the channel, you will find ‘The Curious Art of Critique’, ‘Please Have a Seat’, ‘The Maltese Falcon’, ‘Words, Words, Words’, and ‘Heritage’. 

As fall turned into winter, HPSH Theatre was ready to start their next set of productions and everyone prepared for the upcoming recordings:

  • ‘Twelfth Night’ directed by Nancy Michael
  • ‘4 A.M.’ directed by Soren Chirhart
  • ‘Murder in the Knife Room’ directed by Briana Heidkamp
  • ‘I Said Run’ directed by Rachel Dickinson
  • ‘The Virtual Support Group from Hell’ directed by Colin Ward
  • ‘The Discussion’ written by Anne Douma and directed by Anne Douma and Na’Riyah Johnson

With the opportunity for in-person learning starting April 14th, HPSH Theatre is hopeful to have a socially distanced live audience for a production of last year’s planned performance of the musical ‘Matilda,’ by Ronald Dahl. With fingers crossed, we are waiting to hear if a live audience will be approved in order to continue with plans for this fun musical.

Auditions for the musical should hopefully be taking place as early as the week of March 16th. Unfortunately, a live audience is required because of restrictions on recording this specific production. It is unknown what will take place if a live audience is unachievable, but we are hopeful we will not have to change plans. 

With new planned safety measures beyond the ones already being put in place, theatre is also planning to make use of outdoor areas, masks at all times, and being socially distanced both on and off stage. We are also being mindful of the spread through germs on objects, so cleaning and sanitizing will become a regular occurence.

 

Team StarKid

By: Annika Getz

Team StarKid is a theater group that produces high quality pro-shot musicals, and posts them for free on YouTube. They’ve made 12 musicals in the past 11 years.

Their first, and one the one that they’re best known for, is ‘A Very Potter Musical,’ which is a parody of the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. It was released in 2009, by a group of college kids, with a budget of $150. Since then, they’ve grown significantly, both in popularity and budgetary status. Now, I want to explain why they’re my favorite theater group.

Reason one is that they’re the only group which makes their shows accessible to the general public. For most musicals, you have to pay thousands of dollars to see them, or watch illegal bootlegs online. StarKid however, just posts the entirety of all their shows onto YouTube. This shows that they care less about money, and more about the happiness of their fans.

Now, let’s get into the actual quality of the shows. I honestly haven’t watched one and thought “Well, that sort of fell flat.” Each show has an engaging plot, good jokes, interesting characters, and most importantly, amazing actors. There really isn’t any one actor who I don’t think is talented and entertaining to see on screen. They’re all unique, and bring fun and interesting things to each show.

The shows are also very creative and unique. The stories they tell can’t really be found anywhere else (several of them are parodies of certain franchises, but even those find ways to be new and interesting). I’ve seen most of the shows multiple times, because I find each one to be fun and engaging.

So, there you have it, the reasons that I (a broke theater kid in the middle of a pandemic which stops me from being able to go to any shows), absolutely loves Team StarKid. I’d recommend their stuff to anyone who likes comedy musicals, or musicals in general.

Youth Climate Justice Summit: Part 2

By: Vivian S

On Wednesday, February 26th, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and walked out of my house. But instead of continuing down to the bus stop, I was driven to the Capitol.

…Well, not exactly the Capitol, I was driven to the Good Neighbor Building, as that is where the Youth Climate Justice Summit began.

After I managed to find my way around all the twisting roads of the Capitol, I completed my registration and went down to breakfast. Everyone sat at tables with people in the same district as them and chatted for a while. Then, youth took to the stage.

We started with some icebreaker activities, but the true beginning of the summit was a speech about the exploitation of Native American people to this day, and how it related to climate justice. That idea is a part of intersectional climate justice, which was a big focus of the summit, which says that climate change disporportionallly affects communities of color and other disenfranchised communities which are normally systematically targeted, making it not just an environmental issue but also a social and economic issue.

We then were given a short presentation of how to talk to representatives, and on the bills that the summit was trying to get passed, and those they were trying to stop from passing.

The bills that were being supported were:

  • Solar on Schools (HF1133 & SF1424): which is a grant program to give schools solar panels which will eventually take on a great part of the electricity load of the schools.
  • Energy Conservation for Schools (HF1148 & SF2016): which would make a loan-fund for schools to make investments in energy conservation.
  • The Women of Color Opportunity Act (HF841 & SF1123): which is a collection of grant programs for organizations working with women of color to develop small businesses, expand access to STEM careers, provide internships, etc. to combat the how women of color are underrepresented.
  • Trash-burning is Not Renewable: which would declare that trash-burning is not a renewable energy source and companies cannot keep claiming it as such. It is still being drafted.
  • Green Affordable Housing: is a proposal by Governor Walz to make massive investments into affordable housing that is energy efficient as well.

The bills that weren’t being supported were:

  • Felony Free Speech & Guilty by Association (SF2011/HF2241 and SF3230/HF2966): 4 bills which would make harsher punishments for water and pipeline protesters.
  • Clean Energy First Act (SF1456): which, while it says that electric companies have to prioritize carbon-free energy, it also defines trash-burning as renewable and coal and gas plants “carbon free resources”.
  • Exempting Climate Impacts from Environmental Review: which says that new projects in Minnesota don’t have to consider the impact they would have on the environment due to carbon emissions. This bill is still being drafted.

After we were given these bills, and an overview of them, we then went to meet with our representatives. I went to meet Rep. Dave Pinto.

We were let in, and about 10 of us squeezed in. We went around introducing ourselves, then got straight down to business. Rep. Pinto immediately expressed his support for what we were doing and the bills we were talking about. The meeting was short, and we only had the time to bring up a few ideas, like how to get moderate Republican support, and short discussions on the bills. By the end of it, Rep. Pinto said that he would co-author the House Solar in Schools bill, which would mean he would be signing his name as someone that was supportive of the bill.

Then, we tried to go meet with Sen. Dick Cohen. We didn’t have a meeting with the senator though, so our meeting failed, but we left letters expressing what bills we supported and what we didn’t.

After that, I participated in one of the student-led workshops. There were many of those over the day, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to see most of them, but I managed to catch one. “Raising the pressure on legislators”, in which one of the students led us through how to contact your legislators and more effectively express your opinions and ideas to them. We were given instructions and how to write letters and emails, how to make phone calls, and how to be active on social media and the community.

We were also given a list of places to look for other events to become active in: US Climate Strike, MN Climate Strike, and Yea! MN.

Then, there was lunch, which may have been my favorite part of the day.

After that, all of us walked up into a sanctuary and filed in row by row, to listen to a whole host of speakers.

The first speaker introduced Will Steger, who founded ClimateGeneration, one of the programs leading the summit. Then came Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan who discussed the need to be active in politics and the fight against climate change. Following her came Governor Tim Walz, who talked about the urgency of battling climate change and how we as young people had to protest, to demand our rights.

Before this summit, I had barely known who Governor Walz was, much less how much of a contested character he was to the climate change activists at the summit. He only spoke for ten minutes, and left at the end without taking any questions. The entire group had a discussion about what he had said, with many of us coming to the consensus that we were disappointed by his lack of specifics.

After that, we had the chairs of both the house and senate climate justice committees talk to us, in which they discussed the specific actions they were taking, their problems, and how to get involved.

All in all, it was a very long day.

I enjoyed it, getting to talk to our representatives was important and it did feel like having a bit of a voice in politics, but the summit could have been managed a bit better, and I wish we got to meet with more representatives.

I would urge all of you though, even if you were unable to make it, to contact your representatives and make your voices heard, and to join in other events.

PRIZM

PRIZM is a magazine that displays the artwork created by the students at Highland Park. The staff advisor of PRIZM is Nancy Michael. 

PRIZM has been a group that has been created and recreated many times by the students at our school. There have also been other groups created that are similar to PRIZM but were put under a different name.

What is the purpose of PRIZM?

PRIZM gives the students at Highland an opportunity to be creative and create something that they like. It also allows them to show off their own hard work with the people of the Highland Park High School community. 

What can you submit?

You can submit anything that you consider to be artwork!

Things such as:

  • Writing pieces
  • Drawings
  • Paintings 
  • Sculptures
  • Photography
  • Pottery

How can you submit your artwork?

You can submit your artwork by sending it to the PRIZM email. This year that email is: Highlandparkprizm2020@gmail.com. If you have any questions, or issues with your artwork, you can email PRIZM as well. 

You can submit your artwork with any name that you’d like. You can also submit it anonymously and your artwork will be the only thing presented in the PRIZM magazine. 

When can you submit?

Now! The PRIZM email is ready and open to accept the fresh new pieces of artwork from all the students at Highland!

Want to be a member of PRIZM?

If you would like to be a part of PRIZM you can simply email the advisor Nancy Michael at: nancy.michael@spps.org

As a member of PRIZM you will be able to be considered a real publisher which sounds pretty cool on college resumes! 

PRIZM meetings usually occur in the auditorium or in the field house area. Meeting times vary, but there usually are at least two meetings a month. At meetings you help come up with ideas to promote PRIZM, ideas for fundraisers, and you get to decide what is accepted into the PRIZM magazine/book. 

The Good Club Vol. 2: Food drive

By: Vivian S.

One of Highland Park’s newest clubs is back at it again. The Good Club will be holding a food drive this week.

They will be collecting donations of food and/or hygiene products up until December 12th, when later that night, during parent-teacher conferences, they will be passing out the food to HP students next to the auditorium from 5-7pm.

If you have any donations, you can bring them to Ms. Jane’s room or Ms Ostendorf’s room (2207 and 2208).

So, once again, to find out more, I interviewed Cailin and Delaney, two of the people running the club.

Please note that these are not direct quotes. 

V: What is your goal for the food drive?

C&D: To make food security less of a taboo topic in our school, as many of our students do need food, we’re hoping to make it more normalized.

V: What do you want people to donate, and is there anything you do not want?

C&D: Anything is fine, especially canned and boxed food, stuff kids can make for themselves. Not fresh produce, milk, or eggs though. Healthier options if you have any.

V: What do you plan on doing with any remaining food?

C&D: There is a food shelf here, so it’s going to be put there, and if there isn’t enough room, the rest will go to a local food shelf.

V: Do you plan on doing it again?

C&D: Yes, if given the opportunity and resources to do it again, we’ll do it again.

V: How much more food do you need to reach your goal?

C&D: A lot, we don’t have a goal, we just want as much food as possible.

V: How are you getting donations, and who from? I heard you talking about getting donations from Cub and a dentist’s?

C&D: Members of the club reached out to specific stores to ask for donations, and neighbors and friends. 

V: Why did you choose to do a food drive?

C&D: Hunger is something that isn’t really talked about in our school, and we wanted to bring awareness to it as it is important.

V: Do you have any plans for your next project?

C&D: No.

Speech team at HPSH

The speech team at Highland is directed by Mr. Russel and Dr. Sandra Wieser-Matthews and is on Tuesdays and Thursdays right after school from 3:15-4:15 (room 2304). 

In speech there are 13 different categories you can choose from: Drama, Poetry, Prose, Dramatic Duo, Humorous, Storytelling, Extemp Reading, Creative Expression, Original Oratory, Informative, Extemp Speaking, Great Speeches, and Discussion. 

In Drama, you are able to pick a play, story, or any other work that has been published. You are able to play all the parts that are in the work of choice. You may not use any props or costumes. 

In Poetry, you choose one, or multiple poems that are published, and you must express them. 

In prose, you choose a novel, or another published piece of literature, and analyze it. You write an analysis in your own words of the work that you choose and present that. 

In Dramatic Duo, you work with a partner and can choose any type of published piece and act it out. You can’t touch or look your partner in the eyes. 

In the Humorous category, you choose a published piece and give the speech in a humorous way while using body movements and tone.

In Storytelling, you choose from different books that fit into the theme of that year, and then perform and try to express its story as best as possible. 

In Extemp Reading, you are given three pieces and you are able to choose one to read as your speech. You get 30 minutes to come up with an introduction and read the speech beforehand. 

In Creative Expression, you are able to write your own speech that can be on whatever topic you want. 

In Original Oratory, you are able to write your own speech on a specific topic. The idea is to argue your point and try to get your point across. 

In the Informative category, you must write a speech that is attempting to teach others about a topic you know, and you can use visuals.

In Extemp speaking, you are given a piece to read and you get 30 minutes to write a speech on the topic and your reflection on what you read.

In Great Speeches, you analyze a speech that has already been given and write a speech on it. 

In Discussion, you are given a topic/problem and research it beforehand. You are in a room with other students and you all discuss the topic and try to find solutions.  

Joining speech will enhance your speaking and analyzing abilities, allow you to meet new people, and to talk about something you’re passionate about. 

Highland Park food drive!

Please contact Ms. Jane Schwark in room 2207 with any questions.

The HPSH Theatre Program proudly presents: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Come fall in love with this romantic comedy featuring young lovers, a disapproving father, a band of simple-minded actors, and mischievous fairies.

Performances are this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:00pm and a Saturday matinee at 2:00 pm.

The running time is just under 2 hours with intermission.

Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults.