Are we describing your child?
How do you balance a regular load of classes, sports, homework and extracurricular activities in addition to preparing for a lead role in a theatrical production outside of school? For Chase kid Mason H.'24 it all comes down to song.
"I usually just sing [my lines] a lot and lip-sync them a bunch and then I'm just like 'oh, wait, now I know all the words!'" laughed Mason, about how he juggles his time preparing for upcoming roles, both in and outside of his regular school day at Chase.
Cast for the second year as Amahl in the English language opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors," put on by Western Connecticut State University's Opera Ensemble, Mason proudly stood center stage during the ensemble's 23rd annual production on December 8th & 9th.
"You'd imagine that performing as the only kid in front of large audiences in WCSU's Ives Concert Hall might inspire stage fright in most actors, but Mason isn't like most, he's a Chase kid"
"It was a really fun experience," explained Mason, about his role as Amahl, the shepherd boy who encounters the three kings on their journey to Bethlehem. What makes the experience even more special, is that Amahl is the only child character in the entire opera. As Mason elaborated, "...just to get to do it [the production] with a bunch of people that were older than me and being the only kid in the show... it's a lot of pressure but it's really fun."
You'd imagine that performing as the only kid in front of large audiences in WCSU's Ives Concert Hall might inspire stage fright in most actors, but Mason isn't like most, he's a Chase kid, and he's used to speaking in front of groups of people each and every day at Chase. All it takes is a little reminder right before he steps on stage.
"Sometimes before [a show] I'm like 'oh, gosh, that is a lot of people out there,'" laughed Mason. "But then once I get on stage I'm like 'nah, I'm good.'"
Following in the footsteps of his older brother, who also played the part of Amahl for three years, Mason is ecstatic for the opportunities he's had to pursue the performing arts. So what is his favorite aspect of being part of an ensemble cast?
"I just kind of like seeing the show all come together," he explained. "Starting off with not a lot of people having experience with it [the production], and then this big awesome production turns into a great show."
No stranger to auditions, Mason doesn't let losing a part get him down. "I actually tried out for 'Mary Poppins' at the Warner Theater and I got a callback, but I did not end up getting the part," he explained. A resilient actor, Mason considers all of his auditions as good experience and exposure. "I've been trying to get other parts and I've gotten pretty close, but not yet, so hopefully this year I'll try and do some more stuff."
When he's not part of an official theatrical production, Mason spends his time in Chorus class and with his other passions: the saxophone, piano, and ukulele. Having helped teach the ukulele to friend and peer Grace Z.'24 as part of a collaborative performance during last year's Maggie's Follies, Mason looks forward to exploring the instrument further this year.
"For Chorus, Grace and I are actually going to have to play the ukulele for one of the songs," stated Mason, who is also excited about Chase's Spring musical production.
"I know I'll definitely be trying out for the MS show, 'Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr.,'" check font color for show title said Mason. "And then, I'm not sure? I'll just see where it goes!"
For more information about Chase's Visual and Performing Arts programming, including a recap of 2017's productions and what to look forward to in 2018: http://bit.ly/ChaseVPARecap
Inspired by Iran’s cultural elements, as well as designs that students would, “sincerely like to wear,” Chase kid Brendan Wilmot ‘18 is the artist behind this year’s International Awareness Day t-shirt. All Chase kids and faculty will don these tees during Wednesday’s Iran Day festivities.
“I created the ‘IRAN’ title by choosing a thick, brushed font that I decided to match with the colors of the flag,” explained Wilmot, whose true artistic passions usually fall in the realm of technical theater and lighting design for the Highlander Theater Company. Excited to explore a different artistic endeavor Wilmot explained his design process: “I replaced the ‘A’ with an outline of the country in an effort to seamlessly integrate the map. What actually proved most time consuming was researching what the date on our Gregorian Calendar, November 15th, 2017, would equate to on the Persian Calendar (what they utilize in Iran). I had to verify this several times!”
Wilmot’s design, created back in October as part of an art contest run by Chase US History Teacher/Chair, and International Awareness Day coordinator, Mr. Jim Wigren, was “selected from among a number of student entries,” explained Wilmot. “I was really excited when Mr. Wigren informed me at the beginning of class one day that Dr. Peterson wanted to discuss my design. It is an incredible opportunity to see the product of your efforts being worn by hundreds of people. I know the research and efforts I put forth have really paid off!”
So, what was the most challenging part of designing a t-shirt, especially with another country’s culture and history in mind?
“...I really struggled with finding a symbol that was culturally acceptable for the front of my shirt...” stated Wilmot. “The white silhouette on the front of the shirt (ancient ruins) was a second alternative to other emblems and symbols that most, including myself, initially assumed would be acceptable.”
After running into a couple roadblocks and emblems that could have proven controversial based on the history of Iran and the country’s revolution in the late 70s, it was actually the day’s keynote speaker who proved to be an incredible help to Wilmot.
“Our keynote speaker, Dr. Trita Parsi, was an incredible resource during this process,” explained Wilmot.
Speaking of Parsi, Wilmot is thrilled to have the opportunity to delve into even more of the history of Iran on Wednesday, including Parsi’s speech with Chase US and 8th-grade students.
“I’m looking forward to the US-Iranian Relations [breakout] session being taught by a former ambassador, as well as the sessions on Iranian history being taught by a UConn Professor,” explained Wilmot, whose goal is attaining as much knowledge from visiting speakers to Chase as possible. “I am excited [about] the speech by Dr. Parsi, who is sincerely an expert on the controversial Iran Nuclear Deal, " explained Wilmot. “He has authored several books and has an impressive education and list of accomplishments behind him.”
Follow along with our International Awareness Day: Iran festivities live on our Chase Instagram account, and follow us on social media as we share photographic highlights of this year’s event. For more information about International Awareness Day or Trita Parsi, read the News Release here: http://bit.ly/ChaseIranDay
When a group of Chase kids visited the 'On the Trail of Calder' exhibit on Freight Street in Waterbury last month, 5th grader, Sarah, never imagined she'd end up translating for one of the international artists inspired by the works of American sculptor Alexander Calder.
"I thought it would be fun to talk to him, maybe, to see where he was from," explained Sarah, about her initial reaction when the first of multiple visiting artists, Eduardo Giannattasio, stood up to speak about his sculpture - in French! Rather than use a translator, instead an immediate collaboration developed once Sarah heard Monsieur Giannattasio greet the kids in French. Her instinctive reaction was to respond "Bonjour!"
"When he asked me to come up - I was sort of shocked!" laughed Sarah. "But it was fun to get to speak with him."
Having grown up with both her mother and father speaking French at home, Sarah naturally developed a fascination with the language. As she remembers, “My mom and my dad - their families were from a country in Africa that spoke French, so when I was about 5 or 4 ½, my mom started really introducing me to the language. And then, when I had my 6th birthday party in French, I just started speaking a lot more French.”
Sarah admits that while she loves knowing more than one language, it wasn’t always easy. “When I was younger, like at school, sometimes I would get mixed up,” she explained about her tendency to slip back and forth between both English and French. And even while translating for Monsieur Giannattasio, certain parts were tricky because of his accent.
So, what are Sarah’s plans for pursuing foreign languages in the future?
“I can write a little bit of French and can read a little bit too, but I want to learn more,” stated Sarah, who plans to continue to study French once in the Upper School. “I speak a little bit of German [too] because I went to the Netherlands two years ago,” added Sarah. “And a little bit of Spanish.”
And what was Sarah’s favorite part of the getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the Calder inspired public art installations that will now be donated to the City of Waterbury?
“I liked getting to know how different artists process their art projects,” explained Sarah. “Seeing all of the art [and knowing] that is going to be put up in the area.”
‘On the Trail to Calder,’ was a partnership exhibit between the Mattatuck Museum, the Waterbury Public Art Committee, and Pisani Steel Fabrication. To learn more about all of the international artists involved, why they were inspired by Calder, how they created their sculptures, and how the City of Metal and Brass became their chosen studio and final public art space, visit Facebook: @onthetrailofcalder or https://onthetrailofcalder.wordpress.com/
If you follow Chase on social media (what are you waiting for?!) then you've seen our recent post in the vein of Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick's 'ISPY' picture riddles, teasing a surprise for our US Chase kids at the conclusion of Chase Spirit Week. Among the random baubles and Halloween themed knick-knacks in the 'ISPY' photo, perches a tiny silver-flecked goose floating on the serene Pirate Booty waters. This enamel pin, a token, and Chase Collegiate inside-joke of sorts, now shines brightly on Chase blazers and bags seen around campus. But how did this tiny keepsake makes its way home to Chase? We have one very talented and artistic Chase kid to thank for the gaggle of shiny pins: Chase Junior Soph Medeiros.
"I feel like it's kind of a joke," laughed Medeiros, as she talked about Chase's unofficial mascot - the Canadian goose. While Medeiros reminisced about past Innovation projects dedicated to scaring the geese off campus, she admitted her admiration of the birds' persistence. "I don't mind them. It's nice to have some wildlife on campus."
Now, thanks to an assignment given to her by the School's External Relations department, US Chase kids have a token of that stubborn goose persistence that they can take with them everywhere.
"I was excited," explained Medeiros, about being asked to take on the art project. "I was excited that it was for a pin because enamel pins are really 'in' right now. It's really cool to know my art might actually be a physical thing that people can wear and I can see them wearing. I was really happy to do it."
Medeiros, who is known by her peers for her artistic abilities, approached the project with the same brainstorming and planning processes that she uses while approaching all of her art.
"First, I took my sketchbook and did some quick pencil sketches. I looked up pictures of geese just to help me get a feel for what I should be going for," she explained. "I sketched it out on paper first, then I took a picture of the sketch with my iPad and used a digital drawing program to do line work over those sketches... to see what I liked." Eventually, two versions of the Chase geese emerged, one geared toward our LS and MS kids and one for US and Chase alumni. "I tried different things and settled on two that were kind of different, but I thought still good options to have."
So, how have Chase kids reacted to the pins?
"I've seen people wearing it around, so I think that is kind of a good thing," laughed Medeiros. "I feel like people were like, 'oh that's kinda cool,' because it is kind of a fashion trend now. And most people didn't know, 'oh, someone I know actually made these.'"
Speaking of secrets, External Relations wanted to keep the entire project under wraps until the big reveal which led to a pleasant surprise for Medeiros from her friends.
"When the pin first came out, no one really knew who made them. But I came down to my lunch table and all of my friends were like 'did you make these?' They recognized my style and that was really cool - just knowing that my friends can tell my art just by looking at it."
As you travel around campus for class or for a visit, keep an eye out for our Chase geese (both real and pin form) and congratulate Medeiros on her artistic work the next time you see her.
"I'm just super thankful that I was given the opportunity by Chase to do something like this," explained Medeiros. "To know I can hold it and be like 'that's my work!'"
You know Chase Senior Drew Barbeau is our 149th Commencement speaker, but which Chase kid will represent the Class of 2021 at their Closing Exercise? We are pleased to share that Chase kid Aydin C. was chosen by his peers and teachers to represent the 8th-grade during June 8th's ceremony.
"I feel extremely honored that my peers and teachers chose me to be this year's speaker," explained Aydin. "I actually wasn't expecting to be named as I was running against a tough group of well-spoken competitors... [but] I did throw my own name into the hat as I have a love for public speaking."
Reluctant to share too much about his plans for his speech, Aydin did hint that his theme is "the Class of 2021 as a community." And what about next year? This future Founders' kid is excited about his next chapter at Chase. "I am most looking forward to meeting new friends and going through my 9th-grade year with them."
“I would give you a spoiler, but the truth is I’m still coming up with it myself,” laughed Chase Senior Drew Barbeau, about the speech he will deliver as Class of 2017 representative during June’s commencement.
Barbeau was unanimously chosen by the US faculty as the Chase kid who best “represents every single person in the senior class. That is what it is all about,” explained Señora Holden.
“I was honored,” explained Barbeau. “Señora said that the faculty made their decision based on a wide variety of things… speaking ability, how involved you get, the connections you make with your peers, the connections you make in extracurriculars, and how you carry yourself throughout the day. It means a lot to me that [the faculty] selected me based on those guidelines.”
Barbeau admits he wasn’t always as involved with extracurriculars as he could have been when he first came to Chase in the 8th grade. “[My involvement] definitely increased throughout the years. I always played two sports. I was always out on the fields after school, but in terms of [volunteering] within the community, clubs, the play, it all started to build as I tried to expand my boundaries. I seriously regret not starting sooner because I found that the more I did, the more I loved [being involved].”
Joining the Highlander Theater Company this year and performing in school concerts, both had a huge impact on Barbeau. “Love Songs was a blast. My friends had always done it, and they had tried to get me into it, but I was always a little hesitant. I have Chase to thank for helping me become comfortable with these things because if I had gone to another high school, I’m not sure I would have tried [theater].”
Now, with just a couple weeks left to reflect upon his time at Chase, Barbeau is turning to his Senior Speech advisor to help him focus in on the “meat” of his commencement speech. “I’m going to talk to Mr. Kahuda very soon,” stated Barbeau. “I wrote my Senior Speech with Mr. Kahuda, you know it's both of our last years here, and I think it's only fitting that I do this with him.”
With a Senior Speech that was all about “a boy, a move, a school,” Barbeau shared his realization about the impact his actions have on others. It is no surprise that this Chase kid has aspirations to help others in the future. Attending Salve Regina in Newport, RI in the fall, Barbeau hopes to study Behavioral Neuropsychology.
“I want to focus in on possibly developmental years in kids,” explained Barbeau. “Throughout my life, I was always talking with a psychologist or someone of the sorts, in and out of different places as I moved, and it helped me a lot. After my parents got divorced, my mother, who I stayed with, thought it would be helpful and it certainly has [been]. It was never anything I was embarrassed by doing.”
Never one to waste an opportunity, Barbeau plans to gain insight from Chase Alumna, and this year’s Commencement Speaker, Keneisha Sinclair-McBride ('05), who attended Yale and Vanderbilt Universities, where she earned a degree in Psychology (2009 -Yale) and a Master of Science (2011-Vanderbilt) and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (2015-Vanderbilt). Sinclair-McBride currently works as a Staff Psychologist at Boston Children's Hospital and is an Instructor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School.
“Our Commencement speaker is pretty renowned [in the field],” stated Barbeau. “She does what I want to do. She’s someone I’ll definitely speak with. I know I want to go back to school after undergrad and pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology of some sort, maybe not a psychologist, but definitely something in the field.”
So, what will Barbeau miss most about his time at Chase? According to him, losing the close-knit community will be the toughest part about the impending changes come the fall.
“It’s going to be up to us now [in college], you know, it's not going to be ‘try it’... no one is going to [necessarily] support you in terms of making that decision that could turn out to change your life…" explained Barbeau. “I think Chase, not just high school, but Chase specifically, is a great place to help figure [yourself] out. There are so many opportunities and things you can try… and you know, you try things and it doesn’t work out and sometimes it does - and this is a great place to experience everything.”
Chase’s 149th Commencement is Friday, June 9th on the South Porch. Celebrations begin at 10:30 am. We can’t wait to hear what our speakers will share with our Chase community.
National Teacher's Day isn't just for our current Chase teachers. We think our aspiring teachers are pretty important too! In honor of National Teacher's Day, which was Wednesday, our featured Chase kid was Maria Frennesson ('17).
Frennesson, an aspiring teacher who plans to major in Equine Therapy with a certification in Elementary & Special Education when she attends the University of New Hampshire in the fall, wanted to gain experience working with younger students.
"I decided to work with every grade [preK-Gr. 5] and teacher - to broaden my experience," explained Frennesson, who spent her semesters helping Chase kids who were having trouble with their work, teaching and planning lessons, and bringing kids to different activities around campus.
"Third [grade] and kindergarten were really fun," exclaimed Frennesson, about which grade level she preferred. "In third, I saw myself being able to actually teach [the kids]. But kindergarten was amazing because the kids brought so much joy to my life - especially during exams."
Frennesson is also thankful for Math and Science teacher, Mrs. Terri Hale, for taking the time to be her advisor and mentor throughout the process. "Mrs. Hale has really influenced me. She's helped me to see what I have to do [as a teacher]. I fell in love with teaching even more just watching her. I just want to be [like her], and I hope I'm on the right path!"
In honor of college decision deadlines on May 1st, our Chase Class of 2017 sported apparel that featured the colleges and universities where they'll be spending their time after Chase. Why feature one Chase kid when we can feature the entire Chase Class of 2017 instead? Oh! The places they’ll go!
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!