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-by Grace T., 8th Grade

I took a deep breath and stepped forward into what felt like an entirely different world.

The rumble of cars and chattering of the crowd around me faded away, until the very air was still. A solemn hush settled over us. Although people pushed by me on all sides, some still whispering, I felt completely alone. Elegant glass towers stretched skyward; their transparent walls glinting. A calm garden of smooth stones surrounded us. Sunlight filtered through the glass, and below our feet there twinkled a thousand tiny lights; like stars in a midnight sky. There was a sense of serenity and fragility in the air; impossible to ignore and unthinkable to break. It was a beautiful and sacred place.

The walls of each tower were lined with chilling descriptions of the Concentration Camps, as well as millions upon millions of tiny numbers; one for each person whose life was claimed in that time of fear and chaos that we have come to know as the German Holocaust. My gaze fell upon a quote engraved in the glass: “My younger sister went up to a Nazi soldier with one of her friends. Standing naked, embracing each other, she asked to be spared. He looked into her eyes and shot the two of them. They fell together in their embrace- my sister and her young friend.” Upon reading this, I paused for a moment, and closed my eyes. People continued walking around me, the gentle summer breeze worked its way through my hair, and I was surprised to feel a tear slip down my cheek.

I am not Jewish. These were not my people. And still, I cried. I cried for the millions of people who lost their lives; victims of cruelty and injustice. I cried for the children who never lived to see adulthood. I cried for the families, friends, and lovers torn apart by the Nazi movement. And I even cried for the Nazis themselves; whose minds had been twisted and warped by the lies of Adolf Hitler. But tears of joy mingled with tears of sorrow, because I realized, as I stood there alone in the silence, that this beautiful memorial was concrete evidence that false truths and tragedy are always overshadowed by triumph, compassion, and love. And when I opened my eyes again, and felt a final tear trickle down my face, I didn’t wipe it away. I let it stay there, sparkling in the light of the sun.

Let it serve as a reminder to those who would otherwise forget.

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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.

L’chaim.

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 Grace T., 8th Grade

Kelstar’s Riddle: “Is time the wheel that turns, or the track it leaves behind?”

Time is the Wheel that turns.
And also the Track which the Wheel leaves behind.
The Wheel is never present;

It does not falter, does not waver, does not cease.
It does not stop in its forward venture
To see what it leaves in its wake.
Unstopping, unstoppable, the Wheel pushes on.
It strives to reach the future.

The Wheel of Time creates life.
Devours life.

Builds mountains.
Tears them down.

The Wheel is the whisper of softest memory
The lullaby of birth
The grinding scream of death.

The Wheel dances in the laughter of a child,
Smiles through the wise eyes of age.

***

The Track is both history
And that which is beyond.
It is the path of the past,
And the foretelling of the future.

The Track began before the Wheel,
And forever stretches on.
It is that which remains unseen
And yet, is seen by all.

The Track is the howl of a lone wolf,
Traveling through the years,
To bridge the present with the raw beginnings of life
In the primitive age when wolves ran free.

Time is the Wheel that turns.
And also the Track that it leaves behind.

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