Archive for March, 2011

From the Stage

-by Grace T., 8th Grade

Anyone who has ever performed in a play will agree: there is something electrifying about opening night. Stealing onstage in the total darkness, the curtain closed, we are lost in a whirl of excited murmuring. A hush falls over us as the first, clear notes of Jenna’s violin float through the silence. There is that one final moment of raw, undiluted energy and excitement, before the curtain opens and we step forward beneath the lights. The rest of the night is a blur of music, color, dancing, and fun as the audience’s eyes are trained upon us, and we pretend not to notice a thing.

To perform in a show requires confidence, fearlessness, enthusiasm, and trust. The focus and energy it demands is unlike that of any other sport or activity that I have ever been a part of. To agree to be in a cast is to agree to spending long hours in the auditorium, sleepless nights completing overdue homework, and handling the pressure and intensity of the audition, callback, and performance without complaint. But it is something else as well. You see, to join a play is to open yourself to that rich, emotional, and unforgettable display of unbridled freedom, self-expression, and joy that can only be found in one place in the world: the theatre.

On March 3rd, 4th, and 5th, the W.S Parker Middle School Drama Club, despite numerous conflicts and obstacles, managed to pull together three extremely fun and entertaining productions of Fiddler on the Roof Jr. I think we are all very proud of what we managed to accomplish in a much shorter space of time than what we have grown accustomed to. At first, I confess, I didn’t expect much out of us. We were one very loud group of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, crammed onto what started to feel like one very small stage. Not many people seemed to be taking the play seriously, and snow days were erasing huge portions of our rehearsal calendar. It didn’t seem possible that we would be able to produce anything even remotely similar to the renowned Broadway classic.

However, as is often the case, my worries were soundly contradicted by the determination, effort, and all-around talent of the entire cast. This, coupled with the enthusiasm and much-tried patience of our director, music director, and choreographer, resulted in an impressive and memorable show that I was extremely proud to be a part of. But it was the experience of performing—along with the rest of the eighth-grade cast—in my final Parker play, that made Fiddler on the Roof Jr. truly unforgettable.

You see, something else happened this year; something different. I couldn’t quite tell you what it was. But between hard work, hard dances, memorization, competition, scripted chaos, legitimate chaos, cast parties, videotaping, and betting on the Bottle Dancers, I noticed something else beginning to take place. Before anybody had realized exactly what was happening, a bond more powerful and poignant than I could possibly have imagined had somehow formed between us.

In the hallways of Parker, we were friends. But as soon as we entered the auditorium, we were family. I have been in numerous theatrical productions, but never before have I been so sorry to see one end. I watched from the beginning as new talents surfaced, as unlikely friendships were formed, and as the bittersweet realization that this was our last Parker play gradually descended upon us. I saw more kindness and creativity in that one group of people than I would have dreamed existed there. And when tragedy struck, in the form of the death of our friend’s mother, I watched as the entire eighth-grade Fiddler cast pulled even closer together in order to support her.

In this display of selflessness, friendship, and love, I realized just how close we had all become. In times of hardship and confusion, we put on a show about faith, hope, family, and love under even the hardest of circumstances.

And that, I believe, is what made our production of Fiddler on the Roof Jr. such an incredible and deeply emotional experience that none of us will soon forget.


Link to Grace’s cast and crew video

From the Seats

-by Drew J., 8th Grade

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Friday night showing of Parker Middle School’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. Let’s start with the flaws – there were none. If someone forgot one of their lines or actions then it was unnoticeable. If it weren’t for the familiar faces and the height difference, you would have thought it was a High School performance – seriously. It was that good.

The actors are like the flesh of a performance. They are what you see on stage. They do the dancing, singing and acting. But what if a person went around with just they’re skin? Well, technically they couldn’t but it would look very messy and unorganized. That’s where the crew comes in. They’re like the bones and muscles of a performance. They provide the music, the lighting, the sets, the make-up – they do everything besides doing the actors’ jobs. The lighting was always perfect – never too bright or too dim – and the music was always at an audible level. The run crew did an amazing job too. I couldn’t imagine running around, bringing out props, switching the back drop, bringing in props and getting off stage in less than 30 seconds. They seemed to know exactly what they were doing.

I was surprised to see the turn out. I knew that a lot of people were pumped up to see the play, but I never expected to see every seat taken. It just shows how much the town of Reading cares about their fellow students, friends, family and overall community. It reminds me of last years’ talent show. Even if someone made a mistake, we would all cheer them on. That’s what it was like in the auditorium Friday night – without the mistakes part. My good friend Willy played the lead role of Tevye, so when he took his bow, my friend and I yelled his name and guess what – I could barely hear myself. It was deafening. When I left the auditorium, I looked down at my stinging hands. They were actually red from clapping so hard.

It was a great performance and I wish I could see it again. It was my first time at a Parker musical. Even though I’m in eighth grade and will become a freshmen at the high school next year, I will definitely be coming back to see another performance. I just hope that they have what it takes to top it.

I guess, in one sentence, I could say that I had a blast.

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-by Kerry B., 8th Grade

A muskrat. One sign that spring is here. It has come out of hibernation and is now swimming in the warming waters of the Ipswich River.

As I was walking in the town forest with my mom, our dog Hally, and our friend’s dog Roxy, we were lucky to see this awesome animal. With just enough time to take a picture, the muskrat was out of the water and back in. All within seconds! Who knows how long this animal has been awake this Spring. It is a clear sign that the weather is going to be clearing up.

Animals have a way of knowing when things are going to be happening. Which is why I believe “when in doubt, follow an animal.” I think that over the next couple of weeks we will see that the weather is going to become much nicer and the snow will be a thing of the past.

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Ode to Pencils

-Matthew S., 6th Grade

They are held in my drawer
ready to write, imagine, and explore!
When I pick one up it is filled with so much glee
waiting, just waiting to explore my imagination and ingenuity.

A pencil like a golden boat writing down everything on its sea.
It’s a traveler and the paper is its course.
It’s like a car
riding upon the road
and it makes skid marks everywhere it goes.

It is speechless yet it says so much.
It is a recorder, a writer, a poet, a Picasso.
One side a constructor…making new things.
The other side like a magician making things disappear.

One side is like a little kid making a mess
while the other is the mom
the one to clean things up and fix the mistakes.

It is like a horse making prints upon the ground
and the only sound it makes is a “snap”
when the graphite breaks
and it must take a nap.

Then I pick up a new pencil
because he has been waiting for his journey to begin.

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-by Megan L., 8th Grade

An eruption of protests in Egypt has broken out recently in efforts to expunge President Hosni Mubarak from office.

Egyptians were not happy with the unfair leadership of President Mubarak and they banded together to voice their opinions. They were unhappy with the amount of authority that was given to the police force, and many citizens were beaten by police on a daily basis.

Additionally, the unemployment rates and low wages led to a wide gap between the rich and poor. The unemployed citizens living on less than $2 a day are unable to succumb to the ever-increasing food prices. Simply put, Egyptians feel that President Mubarak has lost his ability to produce change in his 30 year reign.

The riots were different from previous revolts in significant ways. Unlike before, the rioters joined together and marched; in some cases police could not stop them.

But what really set this revolution apart from other revolts was the method of communication between the rioters- consisting of students, unemployed youth, industrial workers, and other courageous men and women. They connected by social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and police could not keep up with their unexpected, fast-paced riots across several Egyptian cities. Despite the police’s violent attempts to suppress the revolts, the rioters remained peaceful as they chanted “Kifaya kifaya!” (“Enough, enough!”) This message became the name of the movement, whose new message is “Too much, too far, for too long!”

Their nonviolent approach served them well, and on February 11, Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed over his power to Egypt’s military leaders.

This successful rebellion, inspired by the 2011 Tunisia revolution, has sparked similar flames in Libya. Unlike in Egypt, after tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Benghazi, President Muammar Khadafy ordered police to suppress the revolts. They mercilessly opened fire, threw rocket propelled grenades, and used tear gas on the rioters. Over 200 injured people have arrived at local hospitals, adorned with bullets and wounds from grenades.

Sunday, February 27, President Obama said that Khadafy has “lost his legitimacy and must step down immediately,” after what he had seen in Tripoli in recent days. Journalists reported that snipers were shooting at innocent, unarmed citizens. Witnesses say that Libyan security was removing dead and wounded bodies from streets and hospitals in an attempt to hide the shocking reality.

Currently, orders have been made to revoke travel visas for Khadafy and his five children, as well as several Libyan officials and their immediate family. What President Obama plans to do next is unknown, but hopefully the chaos will subside in Libya soon.


Dave, Paresh. “Why Are People In Egypt Protesting? – INFOGRAPHIC | Neon Tommy.” Neon Tommy | the Voice of Annenberg Digital News. 28 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2011. .

Tisdall, Simon. “Egypt Protests Are Breaking New Ground | Simon Tisdall | Comment Is Free | Guardian.co.uk.” Latest News, Comment and Reviews from the Guardian | Guardian.co.uk. 25 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2011. .

Reuters. “Libya Protests: Dozens Killed As Anti-Gaddafi Protests Continue.” Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. 20 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2011. .

Kirkpatrick, David D. “Libyan Capital Still Rocked by Violence.” Boston Sunday Globe 27 Feb. 2011, The World sec.: A 13. Print.

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-by Drew J., Grade 8

“I didn’t really plan on it at all,” says Willy Downing, who plays the lead role of Tevye in Parker’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, when asked why he decided to try out for the musical. “When people told me to [try out] I guess I felt I had to, otherwise I would let a lot of people down.” He later goes on to say “I thought there was little to no chance [I’d] get the role…When I got called back for the role of Tevye, I actually thought I had a chance.”

Fiddler on the Roof takes place in 1905 Russia. The country is in the midst of major political changes, and one of the things going on is unkind treatment to the Jews in Russia. This musical follows the family of Tevye, who is a Jewish milk man and the father of five daughters. They go through some of the changing traditions and hardships of a Jew living in Russia during this time.

Willy also says that he sings in most musical pieces and believes he has over 100 lines. They’ve been rehearsing since January, so he feels he should be ready by opening night. “The last couple of weeks we rehearse every day.” said Mr. Clark, who is Parker’s music teacher and the director of the drama club. I asked Mr. Clark if he likes working with kids more than adults. “Absolutely,” was his response “I have never directed adults [and] don’t plan on working with adults…I relate to kids better.”

If you think that this production will be low-tech then you’re wrong. There are over a hundred different people other than the cast involved working on things such as props, lighting, sound effects and music. “It’s a huge community effort,” said Mr. Clark. He goes on to praise Mrs. Davis, Ms. Copeland and Mrs. Webster for their contributions. There is a lot to do, however Mr. Clark seems confident saying “We will definitely be ready for opening night.”

Willy seems to be enjoying his time acting, saying “The most fun thing by far is actually being on the stage…It’s almost like the whole place you’re in changes to that scenario…I’ll probably be in more plays after this.” Willy is currently in a band, but I asked if his musical career doesn’t take-off would he ever consider acting. He responded “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

I’ve heard many great things about past Parker productions and I’d expect no less from this one. Tickets are $9 and $7. You can find more information on how to buy them on Parker’s Edline page. Show times are listed below.

Thursday March 3rd @ 6pm
Friday March 4th @ 7:30pm
Saturday March 5th @ 2pm

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