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Jonnie Leszczynski ’17 Directs and Produces “A Lie of the Mind”
When Chase kid Jonnie Leszczynski ('17), decided he wanted to student direct and lead a play production during his senior year, as part of an independent study project, he knew immediately that his endeavor would include a community service element.
"I had expressed that I wanted to do a drama, a show that would help raise awareness for a specific pressing issue in today’s society," explained Leszczynski, about how his idea initially sprouted.
Happening upon Sam Shepard's "A Lie of the Mind," after a suggestion from Mr. Cutrofello, it quickly became apparent to Leszczynski, and Chase cast mate Veronica Johnson '18, that, "A Lie of the Mind" lends itself to domestic violence awareness. As a result, Leszczynski and Johnson decided to reach out to the Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury for a community collaboration. “We felt speaker would give people [in our community] more incentive to help,” explained Johnson, who contacted Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury, to secure an advocate to share her story with US students the week before the play's performance.
"'A Lie of the Mind' was actually the first play I stumbled upon," stated Leszczynski. " I read through the script and I guess you could say I fell in love with it."
The play, which targeted mature audiences, "opened with the aftermath of a severe domestic incident," explained Lesczynski. Continued drama within the production develops around the main character, Jake, thinking he's killed his wife, Beth, while his family tries to determine what happened. At the same time, Beth, the victim of the violence, is dealing with permanent injuries and the hurdle of integrating back into her family, who is also coping with the ordeal.
All proceeds from ticket sales from "A Life of the Mind" were donated to Safe Haven. Students also held a toiletry drive to support the organization as well.
“It was a bit hectic," explained Leszczynski, about finding the time to recruit volunteers and rehearse on top of school work, school-led musical production rehearsals, and sports practices. "We rehearsed after school, and during free CHAD periods we ran lines or rehearsed scenes. It was tricky but the cast found a balance... [We] worked extremely hard on the show and it really came together."
Recently, we have been featuring Founders' students on social media. Our final Founders' Feature of the month is a DOUBLE! Chase juniors Aneesh Avancha ('18) and Trey Atkins ('18) have a lot to say about how Founders' is more than just a scholarship program. Here's why these Chase kids consider the Founders' community so important
Avancha: I think we represent the leaders of our grade. We literally do represent our grade [Atkins is class Secretary and Avancha is class President]. I think it’s very important that we go out and take initiative in the community because we're very fortunate to be in Founders’ in the first place.... others may not be as fortunate. We need to reach out and support other people.
Atkins: I remember getting accepted [into Founders'] and thinking “I get to be a part of this.” Now, I'm so thankful... the opportunities it gives you are very under-spoken.
Avancha: Yeah, I think the financial aspect of [Founders'] really overshadows what people really think about it.
And their advice for Founders' Freshman?
Avancha: Don't be afraid of the upperclassmen... I realized that immediately once I was here [at Chase]. I don't feel like we are even really separated by grades... interact with everybody.
Atkins: Take a chance. That's what I'd say. We have so many unique chances here.
Avancha: Yeah, it really is a special place here.
Atkins: I have so many shadows [on school visits and tours], I tell every single one of them, “have you heard about Founders’?” I tell them, “go for it. Write the essay. It's going to take you two hours at most and it’s going to change the rest of your high school experience.”
In the fall of 2016, Timex partnered with Chase Collegiate School and they provided 5th through 12th grade students three Chase-ivation challenges. Timex executives visited Chase in October to partake in the group presentations. After poring over the materials from the day, they selected the presentations that most excited them. Six student groups traveled to TIMEX headquarters in November to share their work with all employees at Timex's corporate headquarters. Students received a standing ovation.
The partnership benefited Chase students by allowing them to dedicate themselves to a challenge with a top-notch company that will result in both meaningful outcomes and educational experiences. Timex gained the efforts of over 200 students committed to exploring product possibilities and developing age-specific marketing approaches geared towards attracting that population of potential customer.
2016 was the second year that our Founders' Scholars participated in the Wellmore Behavioral Center’s Festival of Lights by donating a tree.
Founders' kids Michael Nejaime ('18), Trey Atkins ('18), David Dostaler ('20), and Ethan Puc ('20) pitched the idea for the construction of this year's innovative tree-shaped bookcase. "First, we wanted just to donate books and place them in a certain way to look like a tree," explained Nejaime, but when the kids hit an obstacle, they regrouped and came up with an innovative solution.
"We found certain plans online, and decided to double the dimensions...After a comical process trying to put the blade at a twenty-five degree angle, we finally cut all of the wood, screwed it together, and sanded it down to create the final product." Thanks to some mentoring and tips from Mr. Talbert and Mr. Beaulieu in our woodshop, the tree bookcase is complete. The rest of our Founders Scholars, along with Mrs. Sharnick, donated books and decorated the shelves. Talk about Chase teamwork!The Founders Tree was auctioned off during the Festival of Lights event held at Chase on 12/7.
This year, Chase participated in the 27th Annual Trees of Hope event; a partnership between the Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut and the local New Haven communities! Chase kid Hailey Falcone ('19) established a 'Trees of Hope Club' at Chase after deciding it was time to involve the Chase Community in a cherished tradition of the Falcone family.
"My grandmother was the initial inspiration," said Falcone. The Falcone family started donating to the Trees of Hope event in honor of Hailey's late grandmother, Margaret Falcone, who had been active in the Ronald McDonald House fundraisers.
"It's cool knowing that what we did will help a family stay at a Ronald McDonald house while their child is being treated," explained Falcone, who is President of the club, which is currently comprised of 10 Chase kids and faculty advisor Senora Maryellen Holden. "We had a bake sale to fundraise for decorations, and I also went out to local restaurants to get gift cards donations for our tree," said Falcone, about the preparations that led up to Chase's tree decoration this past weekend. The Chase Tree of Hope Club settled on a "Mexican Fiesta" theme because it was a theme that Falcone had not seen during her previous years participating in the fundraiser. "Next year we want to make the tree even bigger and better, so we can raise more money for the RMH" said Falcone, who went on to thank Señora Holden, her parents, her club peers, and all the other Chase kids for their support.Chase’s "Mexican Fiesta" Tree was up for display and raffle at the Maritime Center in New Haven, 12/3 through 12/11. All proceeds from the $1 raffle ticket sales go to children and families staying at a Ronald McDonald House.
"I like when the kids [at the Bristol Boys & Girls Club] get excited when they do something they didn't think they could do," explains Jack Cook, Junior at Chase, about why he started a community service project in partnership with our Chase athletic teams. "We want it to be a hands-on experience that really benefits other people," states Cook while pitching the project during an US morning meeting. Our Chase kid volunteers spend Monday evenings from 7-8pm helping youth and adult community members with physical or mental disabilities develop their basketball skills.
The group continues every Monday through mid-December. New volunteers are always welcome and additional projects will be planned in the future!
These Chase wrestlers attended Penn State Wrestling Camp in June. The first photo is Tanner, Soph, Kevin M, Will and Jake with the Nittany Lion, Penn State's mascot. The wrestlers spent 4-8 days, stayed in dorms, and were trained by Penn State coaches and wrestlers. This is a great opportunity for them to train with the best while getting a feel for college life. Soph was the only girl at the entire camp!
For the second year in a row, Allie Burns ’17 initiated a clothing drive at Chase for Comeback Clothes, a collaborative program of H & M and dosomething.org. This year, Allie collected 1932 items - more than last year and in only had half the time!
“The clothing that is in good condition gets donated to charities, while the other clothing gets recycled into different things such as insulation and automotive products,” she said.
Since speaking in public is second nature for Chase kids, Allie promoted the drive to students by making announcements in each division and speaking to parents at the Lower School’s weekly morning meeting. She placed collection boxes in each division and regularly emptied them, inspiring students to fill them up once again.
For their spring 2016 Innovation Challenge, sophomores were charged with using their iPads to create an original piece of art that celebrates the human experience. One group collected personal photos from members of the Chase community and used them to illustrate the stages of life in this short video.
Nurturing creativity through work with clay
"By the time you graduate, you should know how to make your mark.”
Senior Ally Feldman spent her summer working for global anti-poverty agency. During her sophomore year, she participated in “Swiss Semester,” a three-month program based in Zermatt, Switzerland, where she participated in a rigorous academic curriculum, traveled to Italy and France. More
Morgan Maisto '16 presented a project that she completed for her Anatomy and Physiology class on the Circulatory System. As you can see from the pictures, Morgan made a "walkable" model of the heart as an interactive approach to helping her classmates better visualize blood flow and the oxygenation of the blood.