TVEC Students Shine at Evening of the Arts

Photo by Brenda Maguire
Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For 21st Century Media

On Tuesday, May 21, art and music joined forces in the Twin Valley Elementary Center’s Evening of the Arts.

“It’s a culmination of a year of work. It’s a collaboration of the art and music department to show how creative and artistic the children at TVEC are,” said music teacher Melissa Ebling.

The night included 1,000 piece of student artwork on display varying in medium and skills students have gained over the school year.

The theme of the art show was “The Earth without Art is just ‘Eh!’”

The children of Twin Valley Elementary Center performing as part of the ‘Evening of the Arts’ event which was held at the school on the evening of May 21, 2013.

A slideshow of many different pieces of art that was on display at the Twin Valley Elementary Center’s ‘Evening of the Arts’, a celebration of art and music which took place on May 21, 2013.

“It’s a way to show off everything they’ve done this year and how it connects to what they’ve learned this year,” said art teacher Meghan LeClair.

LeClair gives each of her students the chance to pick two pieces of their work to show off in the show.

For kindergarten student Anthony Chrisi the piece he was most excited to show was one in which his face was imposed on a character from “The Cat in the Hat.” Chrisi chose this piece because, “I worked hard on it.”

“It’s exciting to see what he’s been doing in school all year and the other projects he’ll be doing through his schooling,” said Anthony’s mother, Cathy.

Brooke Allan, another kindergarten student, chose a piece depicting a city with a large monster in it to be shown.

“It’s fun,” said Brooke’s mother Amy. “It’s neat to see what they’ve been doing in art class all year.”

LeClair couldn’t be more pleased with her student’s work.

“It’s a really proud night for everyone,” she said, adding that the pieces shown were “phenomenal artwork” and “beyond what’s expected of elementary school students.”

Principal Craig Sell added, “The pieces are absolutely incredible.”

Photo by Brenda Maguire
Photo by Brenda Maguire

The night also features a music portion through the musical concert entitled “Americans We”. The third graders started off the show singing the “Battle Hymn of Gettysburg” followed by “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” on the recorder.

See a video of some of the performances here:

The American theme to the concert reflects the curriculum from the school year as the students were taught early American history and the songs performed were inspired by the Gettysburg address, The Declaration of the United States and the foundations that America were built upon.

“Students don’t always have tangible work from the music room, so tonight shows what they’ve been learning,” Ebling said. “It’s a proud moment for me as a teacher to see them achieve and excel so much.

The fourth grade chorus performed songs ranging from “America We” to “Once Nation” while the fourth grade band dazzled the crown with “You’re A Grand Old Flag” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Over 150 students performed in the musical concert.

“It means a lot to come together as a community and support the arts,” Sell said, adding, “Arts are a very important part to the education.”

LeClair noted that the annual Evening of the Arts is a highlight of every school year, and at times in the night she even tears up a little.

“Seeing the pride on the students faces as they show their work,” she said, “it’s emotional.”

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A Boston Account: Five days of fright, of love and of strength

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

I woke up early on April 15, 2013. I turned on the T.V. to check on the progress of the Boston Marathon. I watched with a friend as the wheelchair race winners crossed the line. Just before noon we started walking towards the race to cheer them along. We settled in on the corner of Massachusetts Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. The sun was shining and we joked about how lazy we felt standing around drinking Dunkin Donuts while the runners were on mile 25.

After standing there for a while, we made our way to the finish line. I texted friends and family telling them I was at the Marathon, partaking in the greatest annual event in Boston. The crowd was too big, and we were stuck about half of a block away from the finish line. Then, just before 2 p.m. we left the Marathon and made our way back to my friend’s apartment in Cambridge.

It was five years ago that I came to Boston to attend Northeastern University. Over the last five years Boston has become my second city and my second home. I have cheered my lungs out at Red Sox games and have attended the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie. I’ve been known to throw the Boston-stylized version of the word “wicked” into conversation here and there and I have cheered on the runners on Marathon Monday. Although I will always be a Philly girl, Boston has become a huge part of me.

At 2:50 p.m. on April 15, 2013 something happened that would change my second city forever.

I first saw the news of the explosions on Twitter. I grabbed my phone right away, which had been in my purse since we left the Marathon. I was greeted by 10 texts, two missed calls and a voicemail from my sister practically in tears, thinking I was still at the Marathon. I quickly assured all that I was okay, but the calls and texts never stopped. The rest of the day was spent watching the news and responding to at least 40 texts and calls from my family and friends.

Where the bombs exploded is about a mile from my dorm. When I finally mustered up the courage to come back to campus it was devastating. There were military men with huge guns lined on the streets I walk every single day. I couldn’t walk ten yards without encountering a big group of policemen. This was not the Boston I’ve lived in. This was not the Boston I’ve loved.

On Wednesday afternoon I decided to walk around the perimeter where the police had blocked off. As I walked past my grocery store, I saw the first blocked off area. Walking closer, I saw the Marathon tents were still set up. Any other year, those would have been taken down by Monday afternoon, but not this year.

At each end of the perimeter there were makeshift memorials set up. People left flowers, notes, stuffed animals, Red Sox hats and various other mementos to honor those who were lost or injured. I’ve visited these three times now. Each time the memorial has grown bigger and bigger, showing the love in this city.

Thursday night I received a similar text to those on Monday: “Please tell me you’re not at MIT right now” with a screenshot of the report there was a live shooter on campus. The text came from my sister, who knows I spend a lot of time with friends at MIT. Thursday night I was up until 3 a.m. watching the situation in Watertown unfold. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Friday to learn school had been closed, so I put the coverage right back on.

Gov. Deval Patrick urged all Boston residents to stay inside, so that is what I did. The day was spent glued to the television just waiting for the second suspect to be caught. It will easily go down as one of the longest days of my life.

Finally, while hiding in a boat, just seven miles from my apartment, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody. And then, we celebrated.

Hundreds from my campus gathered. I dressed in my green Boston t-shirt and my Red Sox hat. We chanted “USA! USA! USA!” Students thanked Boston Police, asked for pictures with them and cheered loudly anytime a police car would drive by.

April 15 through April 19 was only five days. Five days of fright, of love and of strength.

Looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the city that adopted me back when I was an 18-year-old, wide-eyed freshman. Over the past week, this city has shown togetherness and a compassion I have never seen before. The way everyone has pulled together, within my school and the city as a whole, is something I’ve found to be nothing short of amazing.

I could not be prouder of this city and can say, with no doubt in my mind, that I will forever be Boston Strong.

Brenda Maguire is a senior journalism major at Northeastern University. She is currently working as the Web Editor of The Huntington News and as a freelance correspondent for the Tri County Record. She is currently living in Boston, MA and is originally from Bucks County, PA.

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Samurai! exhibit makes its US debut at the MFA, explores collection from Japan

By Brenda Maguire, News Staff

The thought of a Japanese samurai may bring many images to mind. Some of these might include samurai wielding swords in one-on-one combat or in battle.

But as art? That is a new one.

The Museum of Fine Arts’ new exhibit “Samurai! Armor from the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” opened April 14 and showcases 140 works from the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection of Dallas. Gabriel Barbier-Mueller had an interest in samurai armor from a young age, which inspired him to start collecting pieces, which ultimately led to his creation of the the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection in Dallas with his wife, Ann.

“This exhibition superbly complements the museum’s own collection of works from Japan, which was first assembled in the late 19th century and since then has become internationally renowned,” Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA, said in a statement.

This is the United States debut of “Samurai!” and it will travel across the country after its stay at the MFA, which ends Aug. 4.

When entering the exhibit, 16 flat screen TVs showing images of the pieces greet visitors as a preview for what is coming next. Upon entering the dimly lit first room of the exhibit, visitors will have the chance to view three samurai suited ceremonial armor. The armor is intricate and colorful, leaving very little exposure to the body of the samurai. Much of the armor is made up of small rectangular plates that are connected with leather or silk.

Moving away from the body armor, the exhibit also features a chronological display of helmets to show the evolution of the headpiece. The display starts with a riveted helmet that would have been worn during the Kamakura period, from 1185 to 1333. Visitors will see the masks evolve to be more detailed and colorful. Some of the masks shown are only half masks and one is made to look like a human head, although the ears are not properly placed.

On the decorated helmets, spectators can see various elements including animal images and mustaches made of horsehair, which are placed on the helmet where the person’s upper lip would be.

Alaric Wrasman, a sophomore digital art and interactive media major, attended the exhibit on the opening day and said that although the exhibit was very crowded, he enjoyed taking in the different forms of art.

“I think it says something interesting about their culture and our culture because the mustaches were meant to be intimidating but I find them endearing,” he said.

Historically, constructing samurai armor was considered an art form and required a full team of workers. Blacksmiths, soft metal craftsmen, leather workers, braid makers, dyers, painters and other artisans all worked together to create armor that not only protected the wearer, but also incorporated motifs reflecting samurai spirituality, folklore and nature. Samurai armor was often showcased for guests to see when it was not in use, according the the exhibit’s press release.

Further along in the exhibit, guests can see five samurai standing, dressed in full uniform. Right across from them are three samurai sitting on horses, which, in addition to the samurai on top of them, are also dressed in armor.

“Arts of the samurai have long attracted audiences here at the Museum and this exhibition provides an unparalleled opportunity for our visitors to experience striking works of tremendous artistry,” Anne Nishimura Morse, the MFA’s William and Helen Pounds senior curator of Japanese art, said in a release.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors can learn more about samurai history and bushido, which translates to the “way of the warrior” through panel descriptions on the wall. Bushido encompasses both martial and ethical traditions, which include honesty, courage and loyalty. It also includes a warrior’s acceptance of death, whether it be in battle or ritual suicide, which was often performed if the warrior broke the code of conduct.

In addition to the armor on display, multiple paintings of samurai at war decorate the walls.

“I liked the long panel painting,” Wrasman said. “It was majestic and it put a perspective on the size of story telling art.”

“Samurai!” concludes with a showcase of three suits of armor that show how the decorative nature of the outfits increased during the 250 years of peace, which ended the dominance of the samurai. This evolution will be obvious to visitors due to the increase of decorative elements as the exhibit goes on. This includes the addition of animal or spiritual symbols on the helmets and armor.

The museum is also offering a Samurai Saturdays program, which will feature samurai-inspired activities, such as performances and art making, for children and adults. The exhibit also features an interactive online game for children, which can be accessed on the MFA’s website. The game, which was created through a partnership with Stan Sakai and video game company HappyGiant, pins the main character Usagi Yojimbo in battles against anthropomorphic animals representing ninjas, demonic samurai, evil spirits and monsters.

“Usagi Yojimbo gives us a fun way to engage young people and attract families to the MFA’s exciting new exhibition,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund director of the MFA, in a statement. “This playful game offers a window into feudal Japan and showcases the impressive armor on view in Samurai!”

Although some of the armor and masks had a scary appearance and were used in battle, it is obvious that there was great focus put on the appearance and presentation of the pieces in the “Samurai!” exhibit.

Wrasman said he would urge any of his fellow students to explore the “Samurai!” exhibit because, “You get to take a walk through a different and exciting world.”

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ChesCo Student Enjoys ‘Far Out’ Learning Experience

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

Growing up, children are told to “reach for the stars.”

And as it turns out, Downingtown STEM Academy Sophomore Eric Wan might already be half way there.

Wan, a 16-year-old Chester Springs resident, was awarded a scholarship to the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy (HCLA).

The scholarship, which was awarded to 227 students across the world, made it possible for Wan to attend two programs, each a week long, from February 23 to March 8 at the United States Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

“I was really excited,” Wan said, reminiscing on when he learned he would be attending HLCA. “I didn’t know what to say.”

Wan’s mom, Yonghong Chen, added, “I think it’s wonderful and he got an experience he never got before.”

HLCA, which is a part of Honeywell Hometown Solutions’ corporate citizenship initiative, was open to the children of Honeywell’s employees so when Wan’s mom asked him if he wanted like to put in an application to the program he said yes.

The program gave students an opportunity to engage in sessions addressing current issues in science, technology and engineering. HLCA offered interactive activities including, simulating jet-fighter pilot training and scenario-based space missions, to develop students’ capacities and build leadership skills.

“The program was solely based on learning to work with people around the globe,” Wan said, adding that they focused on not just being a team member but a team leader as well.

Wan noted that his favorite part was working as a team with the space simulators. Wan was acting in the role of the mission controller for his team and said he learned the functions of “a lot of buttons” and “what to do when things went wrong.”

HLCA also gave students the chance to meet with top scientists, engineers and former astronauts who provided first-hand accounts of their professional experience.

The speaker that resonated the most with Wan was a space shuttle pilot who he, incidentally, did not remember the name of.

“It was interesting to see him because he wanted to be a pilot when he was a kid,” Wan said. He added that the speaker spoke of his interest in science and aviation that started when he was a kid and it was interesting to see how that interest led him to a career.

“I enjoyed hearing his experience and story,” Wan said.

There were students from 30 countries and 26 U.S. states at HLCA, and Wan enjoyed meeting people from other places and hearing about what it was like where they were from.

“I did enjoy meeting new people,” he said. “It was just great to talk to people form around the globe.”

Wan, who hopes to major in an applied science field in college, noted that learning to work in groups was an important skill for him to learn.

“As a scientist in real life you have to work with people,” he said, adding that he is glad he now knows that he can work in a real science environment with others.

Chen believes that attending the program increased her son’s interest in science.

“He learned real world applications from the technology he learned in school,” she said.

In addition to the academic benefits Wan received from attending HLCA, he will definitely always look back at the two-weeks as being a great time.

“It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun,” he said.

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