StuGo partners with Cedar Village to host senior citizen prom

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Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

Seniors laced up their dancing shoes and boogied the night away on Sunday, May 3 at Cedar Village retirement home.

Cedar Village, in collaboration with Student Government senior class officers, held the first senior citizen prom and was open to all residents, as well as high school seniors, to raise awareness and money for elder abuse support.

The idea for this event stemmed from a previous senior citizen service project held first semester, according to senior Kusha Ansari.

“(First semester), we did caroling for the senior citizens near Christmas, so we went along with the idea of seniors for seniors,” Ansari said. “ We wanted to go beyond what’s been done in the past and Sonia came up with the idea of doing a senior citizen prom, which everyone was on board for…We talked to Cedar Village and they’ve been wanting to do this for a really long time…It came together really well.”

According to Cedar Village Director of Community and Resident Engagement Diane Slovin, a committee of senior citizens and high school students began planning shortly after the proposal of the event. In the nature of collaboration, Cedar Village organized catering and the DJ while the senior class officers publicized the dance at the high school and took care of decorations, mostly donated from the After Prom committee.

“We had several committee members,” Slovin said. “The committee consisted of Cedar Village residents and some of the students from StuGo…The kids and the residents decided it should be a fifties theme and we decided what food should we served and what the decorations should look like. We had four or five meetings with the residents and the students combined.”

Slovin said that she is extremely pleased with the amount of both high school students and residents that attended the dance.

“The turnout is fabulous,” Slovin said. “I wasn’t sure about our residents when they heard about a prom; some of them weren’t too excited, but we had several of the kids walk through the dining room tonight and they got everybody fired up about it.”

Students attending were required to pay a two dollar admission fee, which went to the Shalom Center within Cedar Village to support victims of elder abuse, according to Slovin.

“The students talked about having the kids make some sort of financial commitment in addition to doing the community service they’re doing,” Slovin said. “We talked to them a little about the Shalom Center for Elder Abuse Prevention, which is a virtual shelter that’s housed within the walls of Cedar Village…We get referrals from adult protective services of people who really are in desperate situations who need to be taken to a safe place and this is that safe haven for some of the residents…We house them for 60 to 90 days at no cost to them. They get medical support, they get social services, they get physical therapy, occupational therapy, they get religious support if they want that: any service that they need is provided for free. To offset some of those charges, the students chipped in a little tonight to help with that cost.”

According to Ansari, kids his age typically don’t know about elder abuse. The senior citizen prom not only raised money to support victims but also raised awareness for the issue.

“It’s really surprising,” Ansari said. “(This event) broke the silence. No one really knows that elder abuse is really a thing, so the fact that we could have this really awesome event and raise awareness for the cause too is really incredible.”

Slovin said she is grateful for the opportunity to bring the two generations together in such a unique way.

“We are really, really appreciative that the kids came to do this,” Slovin said. “It’s really fantastic to see all this energy from the students at Mason High School. Seeing the residents dance with the high school seniors–it’s the perfect intergenerational activity. Our residents are very happy and it’s a great opportunity for (the younger) generation to see that there’s still lots of life left in our residents and for the residents here to see that there’s lots of kids who want to do good.”

Click on an image below to enlarge and view in slideshow mode.

Originally published on thecspn.com on May 4.

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Roaring in the new year

Students celebrate Chinese culture with traditional lion dance

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

Watch students involved in Chinese Lion dancing practice their performance.

Video by Abbey Marshall

You’re going to hear them roar.

For most students, February consists of heart-shaped candies and roses, but some students like junior Andrew Zhan are celebrating their heritage in a traditional Chinese lion dance to ring in the New Year.

According to the Chinese school principal Jim Lee, the team was created over ten years ago at a Chinese school in the Kenwood area with only students who graduated from the school, but they have since expanded to contain any students interested in participating. The group now contains seven Mason students, as well as a group of students from Sycamore, and they are taught the routines and dances by lion dance alumni who are now in college.

“The style of the dance (is interesting),” Zhan said. “Lion dance (is a tradition) you don’t see very often in America… It connects to our Chinese and Taiwanese culture that we don’t really get in America as much.”

Zhan said that learning this art is an arduous task at first with so much going on during a performance, especially when you throw in a lion costume.

“Learning was difficult because it’s something that we never did before,” Zhan said. “I remember the first couple practices were really rough because we had to practice without the suit and then we had to practice in the suit, and it’s a lot harder when you’re in a 90 degree lion costume. It was pretty difficult at first, but it’s a lot of fun performing in my opinion.”

There’s a variety of things occurring on the stage at once to create a visually pleasing performance, according to Zhan.

“We have two (lions) and they kind of interact with each other during the performance through their moves,” Zhan said. “There’s two people in the lions… There’s also two people called fatheads–that’s the literal translation. So there’s two lions and two people and you wear a giant mask and (the fatheads) will play around with the lions and guide them and hit them.”

All the effort pays off during the performance, Zhan said. In October, the group performed at the Chinese school that sponsors them and paid for the lion costume.

“The best experience is definitely seeing the kids,” Zhan said. “We throw candy at them from the mouth of the lion so they really enjoy that…They all love watching and it makes them happy, so that’s nice.”

According to Lee, the appeal of the lion derives from the connotation associated with this majestic animal in Chinese culture.

“The lion is the symbol of success and the king of the jungle,” Lee said. “We always perform during the New Year and hopefully people will get the symbol of the new coming year and that everything will be successful. People would like to see this, particularly the Chinese people, at restaurants. They want to have their business to become successful in the near future. They want to have someone or something, like the lion, to cheer up their customers, and this is really a traditional symbol for success in our culture.”

Lee said he hopes to expand his performing around the entire Cincinnati area because of its attraction to audiences of all kinds.

“We like to introduce this kind of traditional culture to the Cincinnati area, particularly for people who have never seen this kind of performance before,” Lee said. “I trust that everyone who has seen this before will like to see it again.”

PHOTO GALLERY: NHS Winter Dance 2015

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

National Honor Society held their annual Winter Dance in the large commons on Saturday, January 17 from 8-11:30 p.m. The dance was Hawaiian themed and all proceeds went to benefit the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

School House Rock Live!

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If you haven’t sung along to cheesy animations of “Conjunction Junction” or “I’m Just a Bill” at least once in your elementary school life, then the education system has failed you. Those cheesy 1970s songs that had been drilled into every young child’s head have been tucked neatly in the back of my mind and not thought about for many years. However, sitting in the audience of the Indiana Theatre on July 9, all the memories began to flood out and I felt like putting my hair in pigtails and bouncing around like a third grader all over again.

School House Rock Live! contains 21 classic songs jam packed into an hour and a half musical (which I discovered was an appropriate length; much after that would quite frankly get annoying). At first, I was a bit skeptical going into the theatre. How could a small group of college kids put all these songs together? I didn’t really think there would be much of a plot at all, more of just a string of random melodies for a trip down memory lane. Boy, was I wrong.

The play follows the morning of Mr. Tom Singer’s (played by Chad Singer) first day of teaching an elementary class, when his “ideas” (5 other characters each dressed in a costume to represent a school subject) pay him a visit to help him. There wasn’t much dialogue, but just enough to transition from one song to another. This impressed me, seeing how vastly different the songs were: from rules about multiplying by three to catchy tunes quoting the preamble. There were various ways that the mood was set in a song that weren’t extravagant; the small theatre of only 50 seats really couldn’t accommodate drastic set changes or massive props anyways. Smaller props and costume add-ons were incorporated, such as hats and vests, as well as various lighting techniques to set the tone of the song.

Being an actress, I know that plenty of my theatre friends would try to avoid performing in a small theatre. Not many people will come, it’s too crowded, the shows are usually on a smaller scale, yadda, yadda, yadda. I, on the other hand, completely disagree. Seeing this show in such a small theatre made it so much more intimate. I made eye contact frequently with many of the 6 cast members, which has never happened to me before (and trust me, I’ve been to many shows in the past) and it made me feel special, like the actors appreciated the fact that I had attended their show. Having the production in such a small space also made the play extremely interactive. Before going into the theatre, audience members were asked to color in bubble letters of an adjective that the cast could collect in the middle of the song “Adjectives” and I thought that was a very cute idea. Cast members would also put dunce caps and top hats on audience members, point at them, and even pull them up on stage.

Now, as I previously stated, I’ve attended probably over a hundred shows in my lifetime. Never once had I been yanked up onto a stage by a cast member teaching me a dance number in the middle of a song. As I swung around jazz squares and swiveled my hips while attentively watching my very nice mentor, I heard the hum of the song, “Circulation”. I hopped around the stage alongside the other guest dancers (all very young girls and one old lady), unable to contain my laughter while my best friend who had kindly volunteered me guffawed with tears in her eyes in the audience. After the song had ended, I returned to my seat, thoroughly embarrassed, yet amused. Pulling up audience members in the middle of a performance was so unheard of, so absolutely insane, and so surprising that it made this musical especially stand out.

This is a show I would definitely recommend, but to the right audience. I didn’t just sit back in my chair and enjoy the actors’ performances; I observed the spectators as well. School House Rock was designed for kids learning the basics of grammar, multiplication, and simple history, so that’s primarily who was sitting in the audience. Their faces were always joyful and filled with a toothy smile. Obviously, young children couldn’t come alone, so they came with parents and grandparents. The older grandparents seemed to enjoy it just as much as their little kids; they laughed, they clapped, and they even knew some of the words. Parents, on the other hand, didn’t seem to enjoy it as much. One mother in particular looked very infuriated to be there, probably worn out from hearing the same catchy songs over and over blaring from YouTube at home. I would say the age range that this play is sure to please are on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Beautiful melodies, cheesy acting (while was fitting for this particular musical), strong singing, and classic songs all added up to be an entertaining hour of my life. The last thing I wrote in my reporter’s notebook before I left the theatre was that, “this was definitely not the most well-written, eloquent, powerful and moving show in existence, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had sitting in an audience”.

 

Mason Drama Club sees success with production of “Urinetown”

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

Mason Drama Club sees success with production of "Urinetown"

“Urinetown”: what a wonderful ex(pee)rience!

This past weekend, the spring musical came to life in the Mason High School Auditorium. The show focused on a revolution started by Bobby Strong protesting a fee to pay to use public restrooms during a major drought.

According to sophomore Cara Severson, who played Hope Cladwell in the production, this has been one her favorite shows so far.

“I think it went really well,” Severson said. “I think it’s one of the best productions from what I’ve seen that Mason Drama Club has put on.”

The months of stress and rehearing finally paid off once the actors set foot on stage opening night Thursday, according to Severson.

“Even though tech week is really stressful, the most rewarding thing is seeing the audience react and finally when you get on stage and you don’t even have to think about it anymore; it’s natural,” Severson said. “That’s what’s most rewarding.”

According to junior Dillon Drozdz, otherwise known as Bobby Strong in “Urinetown”, the production got a lot of fantastic reviews from their audience.

“We had a lot of positive feedback,” Drozdz said. “Because the show has such a weird title, we didn’t maybe have as big of a turnout as, say, West Side Story, but of the people that did show up, they said it was one of their favorites they’ve ever seen in high school.”

The audience might’ve been skeptical of the title at first, but they quickly changed their minds after witnessing the performance, according to Severson.

“When people think of ‘Urinetown’, they think, ‘That’s going to be weird’, but when they come see it, [they see] the themes of hope and rebellion,” Severson said. “I think it’s really special to see how in a show that’s really weird, it can have a positive message. That was special.”

“Urinetown” took the actors to new heights in their performing careers, according to Drozdz.

“It’s the first time I’ve been stretched that far, not only vocally, but acting-wise,” Drozdz said. “Just in terms of everything, it’s the first time I’ve ever had to sing that high and it’s my first lead in the musical.”

The experience in “Urinetown” is not one that the cast and crew will soon forget, according to Severson.

“I just feel blessed to be given this opportunity and hopefully for the next seasons to come we’ll do good shows too,” Severson said.

Goin’ Gatsby

NHS gets green light to host Roaring ’20s winter dance

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

gatsbyPhoto by Abbey Marshall

National Honor Society is partying with Jay Gatsby on January 25, and they don’t intend to make it the small affair it was last year.

There were many lessons to be learned from last year’s neon dance, according to senior co-chair Jess Hart. Hart said there are improvements being made to lure in more students, starting with the glitzy Great Gatsby theme.

“Last year the leaders did a really good job but it was sort of last minute and I think this year it’s a little more thought-out and it will feel more like a dance, whereas last year it just felt like an NHS event,” Hart said.

In addition to more planning time, another goal of the winter dance is to increase underclassmen attendance using greater publicity than last year, according to Mathur.

“Last year, we didn’t do as good of a job of advertising as we could have,” Mathur said. “A lot of juniors and seniors were there, but not a lot of freshmen or sophomores attended the dance. Our goal this year is to market it to everybody. Last year, our turnout was around 200 to 300 but I expect at least 700 people to go this year. We’re going to put up a lot of posters and have a lot of announcements to tell everyone about it.”

According to Mathur, better organization will help get the tasks at hand accomplished and create a more exciting experience.

“Another thing we’re doing this year [to improve] is to organize,” Mathur said. “We’re trying to find a better DJ to play better music. We’re trying to make the dance just run more smoothly than it did last year.”

In contrast to the neon theme last year, this winter dance is taking on a classier approach, according to Hart.

“Last year we did neon and we got a lot of complaints that [students] wanted to be dressy,” Hart said. “I think

Gatsby has that informal, dressy touch.”

Mathur said the decorations are going to be top-of-the-line, displaying the glamour of the Roaring  ‘20s, including a cardboard cutout of the famous Gatsby car for guests to take photos with.

“We’re going to dress up the large commons really elaborately with decorations and a lot of ornaments to try to make it as Gatsby as possible,” Mathur said.

The most important achievement the dance is hoping to accomplish is to havefun while raising money for a noble cause, according to NHS Advisor Barb Shuba.

“It’s not meant to be another homecoming or prom; it’s meant to be a fun event that people can come low key, dance,” Shuba said. “It was another way to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma [Foundation] without donating what’s in your pocket,” Shuba said. “That’s kind of where it stemmed the challenge of, ‘Let’s find different ways to raise money aside from just giving money’… sadly, so many students at Mason are impacted by this disease.”