Becoming World Changers

By: Hope Cheever and Carly Costikyan

3 years. 12 plane rides. 26 days. Over 100 hours of work – our first-hand experience in Guatemala with School the World. But what is it that inspires two high school students to travel halfway across the world to build schools and playgrounds during their February break? And what keeps them coming back year after year? Though we both have been asked those questions many times over the course of our three-year relationship with School the World, there never seems to be one right answer. A combination of the warm and welcoming people, vibrant culture, and the overall experience with School the World are just three of many reasons that keep us coming back and never wanting to leave.

While each of the three communities we have both worked in are unique in their own ways, the kindness we have been shown by every member of the communities never changes. On the first day you are welcomed with a ceremony surrounded by confetti, balloons, and other celebratory decorations. Each community does it a little differently with speeches from their leaders and students from the school. The children in each community are always so excited and grateful. Every day for about an hour we get to play with the kids at recess. The kids do not sit on phones or tablets, they would not even know what you are referring to. Instead, they play games like Duck, Duck, Goose (aka Pato, Pato, Ganzo), tag, and are absolutely obsessed with bubbles. We try and bring them little toys every day to play with during our week of work, and it is always amazing how these kids are fascinated by the simplest things. These optimistic and grateful children do not need a never-ending game of Candy Crush to keep them occupied or happy. 

One way we connect further with the community is through shadow visits. We visit the home of one of the children in the school, meet their family, and do some everyday tasks with the families. Some of the families we have visited have no electricity or running water but are some of the most grateful and giving people we have had the pleasure of meeting. The people in the communities make you never want to leave, but when it is time that you do, without a doubt, you leave with a fuller heart and a better understanding of the world.  

The intriguing, vibrant, Guatemalan culture is something that we have found to be so unique, and so different than anything you will find in the United States. The area in which we work, Santa Cruz del Quiche, comes from a large descent of Mayan influence. The traditional clothing, worn almost every day by women, and on occasion by men, is modest, yet, bursting with color, intricate designs, and sometimes even sparkles. The typical town scene with buildings coated in various shades of greens, pinks, oranges, and blues, embraces the vibrant personality of each individual. What we experience not only on the streets and radios, but during a special performance in our communities, are the wonderful tunes of Guatemalan music. A simple uplifting beat goes a long way and makes the perfect base for any one of their traditional dances. 

How could you not come back?! While some parents are hesitant to send their children to Guatemala on their own, we have always felt incredibly safe in our travels and welcomed by everyone we have met. Although we do work hard for long hours in the 5 short days we are at our communities, it is work that will never be forgotten and allows you to feel the impact you are making by building this school.

By the end of the week, we are able to see our finished product and celebrate the addition of better education with the entire community. These people understand the importance of education and want their children to have the opportunities that they, as parents, never had. Our past three trips with School the World have been completely transformational. Being welcomed into the homes and communities of the people themselves and being able to progress the education of the children in each community has made us extremely grateful for our time in Guatemala and we cannot wait to return next year! 

If you are interested in becoming a World Changer with School the World and traveling with Lauralton Hall to Guatemala in February 2020, please email info@schooltheworld.org. 

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Generation Scorned

By: Carly Weber

This generation has grown up surrounded by the ever-present, dark, looming threat of school shootings. I remember December 14th, 2012, when my parents were forced to sit down and explain to me what kind of person would raise a gun against defenseless elementary school children after the fatal attacks at Sandy Hook Elementary. I remember the countless other acts of violence that ensued throughout my adolescence; the news headlines with red increasing death tolls in the corner, the memorials filmed with shaky iPhone cameras, Instagram posts screenshotted and shared, and names that slowly dissipated from public knowledge. Mass shootings have continued to creep over our shoulders like fatal, silent shadows.

 

I couldn’t help be reminded of the kids and teachers that lost their lives and loved ones when yet another school shooter struck 5 years and two months later at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On November 27 of last year, I had the privilege of hearing recent Parkland graduate and cofounder of March For Our Lives David Hogg speak at Southern Connecticut State University about gun violence and how we as a young yet influential generation can come back stronger from such a tragedy. Hogg encourages action amongst young people and refuses, “…to let the cost of our freedom be the 17 people lost at our school.” Dwelling on tragedy will do us no good; now is the time to take action and contact local representatives in order to pass legislation that will end gun violence in schools once and for all.

 

Hogg spoke with wisdom and maturity beyond his years, accredited to his experience in talking with protesters that want him dead. As young people, often under the age of 18, its difficult to find a voice and make a change. However, Hogg believes that we are the most influential generation there is. Our unlimited access to the Internet and social media makes our voice powerful in a way like no other. We need to, as Hogg stated, “fight for those who no longer can,” and utilize our voice to the best of our abilities. Together, we can be the generation that ends gun violence.

Source used- NPR

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/13/694175068/ex-marjory-stoneman-douglas-students-quest-to-end-gun-violence?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20190213

 

 

 

Traditions of Chinese New Year

By: Cecile Wang

Happy Chinese New Year!

In 2019, February 5th is the first day on the lunar calendar, meaning that it is the first day of Chinese New Year or Spring Festival of China. This is the year of the Pig, which is the last animal of twelve Chinese zodiac animals. Chinese New Year celebration always starts on the Chinese New Year Eve till the fifteenth day of lunar new year. Let us take a close look to see how Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year and their traditions.

 

  1. Family Feasting

On the Chinese New Year Eve, or on the first day of Chinese New Year in some reign of China, Chinese people will have a family reunion in their hometowns. Even though different regions of China have their own dishes, however, there is one dish, which is fish, will show up everywhere of China because “fish” means that wealth and luckiness will be leftover from last year for the new year.

  1. Red Envelope

Getting red envelopes is one of the most exciting traditions for Chinese kids. On the first day of Chinese New Year, kids can get red envelopes from their parents and grandparents. There is money in red envelopes. The amount of money usually ends with a 6 or an 8, which are lucky numbers in China. Kids sometimes will be asked to put red envelopes under their pillows at night during Chinese New Year in order to get rid of evil spirits.

  1. Spring Couplets

Spring couplets are lucky messages include bringing goodness and wealth written on red papers. People who are good at calligraphy will write poems by themselves, but most of the Chinese people will buy these in the stores. Before the beginning of Chinese New Year, people stick spring couplets on household gates. Chinese people think that spring couplets will bring them luckiness, money, happiness and everything good in the new year.

  1. Setting off Firecrackers

Setting off firecrackers is an old tradition in China, but it is not allowed in big cities because of air pollution. Chinese people believe that setting off red firecrackers can frighten evil spirits.

  1. Making Dumplings

Most people in China will make dumplings together with their family during the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, when Chinese people are making dumplings, they will put a coin in one dumpling, which is the “lucky dumpling”. And whoever has the “lucky dumpling” is the luckiest person of the year; and he or she will sometimes get an extra red envelope with money in it.

  1. Guessing Lantern riddles

On the last day of the Chinese New year celebration, there is a holiday called the Lantern Festival. There are a lot of lanterns hanging by the street on that day. Kids will come out at night and guess the riddles written on the lanterns. Then people will get together with their families and have sweet dumplings.

 

Are these sounds fun to you? Hope you understand the Chinese New Year traditions more deeply after reading this article. Xin nian kuai le! (Chinese pronunciation of “Happy Chinese New Year”)

The Problem With Fast Fashion

By: Sofia Cholewczynski

When you step into a clothing store, what do you look at first? Maybe you check the price tag, or pick up styles that you think are cute. Did it ever occur to you to check what materials the clothes are made of, and where they were made? Most clothes are manufactured outside of the US, especially in China, Bangladesh, and India. This contributes to a larger social and environmental problem: fast fashion.

Traditional fashion typically consisted of four seasons of clothing produced each year. Now, major retailers such as Forever 21, H&M, and Zara produce fifty-two seasons a year, which means new styles hitting stores every week. Fashion has become something many people believe is disposable. With trendy items being sold for incredibly cheap prices, anyone can buy a shirt, wear it for a month, and get rid of it once they’re done.

This toxic cycle is being supported by the cheap cost for labor overseas. Factory workers, most of whom are women, are forced to endure horrible working conditions, long hours, and very small wages ($2.00 a day). They breathe in harmful chemicals all day and have no position to speak up about their situation.

Fast fashion results in an increased need for cotton. Entire fields of cotton will be sprayed with Round Up, an herbicide produced by the company Monsanto. They have monopolized the agriculture industry by patenting their pesticide. Among other issues, weeds grow resistant to specific herbicides over time, which means that these farmers need to keep buying stronger spray from Monsanto. This spray might be linked with the high rates of cancer among farmers in India who are using this product without proper protection. The increased need for cotton has caused environmental and societal issues that many people are not informed about.

Many people have piles of clothing that they don’t want anymore, so they decide to donate them to charity. Great idea, except that only 10% of donated clothing is actually given away. Most of it is sent to developing countries, such as Kenya or Haiti, to be sold there instead. This disrupts the local clothing industry in these countries. Not everyone in Kenya wants American clothes, especially when the fabrics are obviously worn out and old. Many garments end up being burned in bonfires, which contributes to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Fast fashion is negatively affecting our lives as well. Readily available inexpensive clothing is contributing to our consumerist society, and we buy into it. We think that once we have that one pair of jeans, then we’ll be happy. Unfortunately, this atmosphere leads to unhappy people who are not content with their lives or what they have. People become poor because they spend all their money on inexpensive clothing because it’s there, and it’s cheap. Who can pass up a deal, right?

This is a huge problem, but it’s not without solutions. The best thing to do is reduce the amount of clothing you buy. Don’t buy into short-lived trends and purchase clothing you really love so that you’ll want to wear it forever. Support companies who are dedicated to helping the environment and society. Patagonia, for example, is very environmentally aware. Check the tags of clothing and find out where it’s been made. Donate your clothing to organizations you can trust. Consigning clothes is a great way to get rid of old garments and make money on what is sold. A recent trend has been “thrifting”, where people go to consignment shops or thrift stores to find cool clothing. Reusing clothing is great for the environment. Clothes are not disposable and should not be treated like trash. We have the power to end fast fashion by being aware of how it negatively affects society and actively working against it.

For more information on fast fashion and how it has become a worldwide problem, watch “The True Cost” on Netflix.

Looking Ahead at Lauralton

By: Biyeni Eusebio, ’21

Although it feels like school started ages ago, the fun at Lauralton has just begun. December has Christmas in the Mansion, our yearly Christmas party; even better, we have more than two weeks off for break in order to celebrate the holidays with family and friends! However, we do have to take midterms before the fun holiday adventures begin. January starts a new year (and new struggles), but also new ideas. As second semester rolls in, students get a fresh start with classes, activities, and as always during the new year, get to set new goals. February consists of break which, of course, makes it go by faster. For all you ladies who like to dance and be creative, March has semi-formal and spirit week. Spirit week brings the entire Lauralton community together with fun activities, costumes, and challenges. Then comes May for all the juniors and seniors excited for Prom! Located at The Waterview in Monroe, students at prom dance, sing, take photos, and enjoy the beautiful venue. And, of course, June eventually rolls around, bringing the end of the school year but also bringing more fun on the horizon.

 

Picture: Lauralton Hall Website

Find a Way with Diana Nyad

By: Maya Welber, Junior Editor ’20

In recent issues, my spotlight interviews have had as their subjects women who are larger than life, inspiring humanitarians who are accomplished and well known. This month’s interview features a woman who checks all of those boxes, adding some of her own. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Diana Nyad, a marathon swimmer, who swam over 100 miles (110.86 to be exact). Where was this epic swim, you ask? It was from a little island known as Cuba all the way to the mainland, Key West, Florida. Still not impressed? How about if I tell you it was her fifth attempt at completing this swim? Oh, yeah, and she was 64 years old.

According to Nyad (whose last name, according to her father, means “champion swimmer”), she was lucky, realizing swimming was her life’s dream at the age of five.

It was as easy as that. She started getting up at 4:30 am and doing 1,000 sit ups every night, until she was one of the strongest swimmers in the competitive circuit. The training was rigorous, but she embraced and thrived in it. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.

At only 14 years old, on the eve of a big race, she was molested by her coach, a man whom she considered a mentor and surrogate father. She lost her first race, a 100 meter freestyle. Her dreams were so big, yet had been eclipsed by this loss. Her sister asked her, “How long does it take you to swim the half moon of a pinkie nail?” Nyad replied perhaps a fraction of a nano second. Her sister then told her, “I want you to live your life as if you couldn’t do it that fraction of a pinkie nail better. Win or lose doesn’t matter; just give it everything you have.”

She took this advice to heart and, after a few Olympic medals and an illustrious thirty year career as an ESPN sportscaster, she got down to the business of marathon swimming. She started by swimming for eighteen hours and twenty minutes in a freezing, 48 degree Lake Ontario, then a record-breaking 28 hour swim around the Island of Manhattan.

But no matter where she swam, she always came back to her first failed Cuba-Florida swim at age 28. She started her final, fifth attempt at the age of 64. There were a multitude of challenges that came along with this race. For starters, a large chunk of the swim ran across the Gulf Stream, a 70-80 miles bandwidth of water where the currents were six times faster. Even stopping for thirty seconds for a sip of a drink could result in a perilous push eastward and off-course. Starving tiger and lemon sharks circled the water, sensing vibrations in the water 2 miles away. There was no light at night because it would attract Portuguese man-o’-wars and the painful stings of their tentacles. Nyad’s tight cap and foggy goggles didn’t help either; she searched for ways to keep her mind occupied, choosing to sing the Neil Young song “The Damage Done” start to finish 1,000 times. The song, originally lasting 2:03 minutes, became an 11 hours and five minutes long solo concert.

Expert scientists, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and even the New York Times all sent Nyad charts and graphs detailing why, due to human limitations, this swim could not be completed. Her response? “When you show me the same calculations and tell me they pertain to the limitations of the human spirit, then I will listen.” She had her team, 44 strong, and space telemetry from NASA showing where the eddies were, and wore a special silicone face mask to protect her from jellyfish stings. Most importantly, she had that unflagging tenacity that had served her well her whole life. Everyone has an other shore they want to get to in life. This was hers, not just physically, but figuratively and spiritually as well.

After the talk, I had the opportunity to talk to her one-on-one. I asked her if she could say one thing to us Lauralton girls, what would it be? She said, “Don’t let anybody tell you what your limitations are. You have to get real. You can’t say ‘Oh, tomorrow I’m gonna go to Mars.’ We’re not going to Mars yet, but don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it, that you’re not good enough, that you’re not smart enough. YOU decide. You look in the mirror and you look into your soul and you say, ‘If that’s what I want to do, no one’s going to limit me. I’m gonna do it.’”

You can find the rest of Nyad’s journey in her truly inspirational book, Find a Way.

 

Picture: Maya Welber

The Addams Family Musical

By: Vic Sogueco, Junior Editor ’20

After weeks of rehearsals, members of this year’s musical presented The Addams Family Musical on (when else) the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Halloween. The show included students from Lauralton, Fairfield Prep, and Notre Dame West Haven, some as actors and others as stage crew members. Fans of the movies will find that Wednesday, now eighteen years old, has ditched her signature dual braids and Pilgrim-chic black dress for a sleek bob and a yellow dress. The musical centers on her (secret!) engagement to one Lucas Beineke, a cautious, suit-wearing Ohioan (“A swing state!” as yelled by Gomez) who brings his reserved parents for one normal dinner party — only to have the party descend into Acrimonium-laced chaos. And, of course, as the Addams learn, even the most seemingly innocent families have dark secrets.

As rain fell and shadows rose, audiences were treated to the Addams’s old tricks, including dark truth serums (Acrimonium), torture instruments, and good old family fun. Wednesday, portrayed by masterful junior Brynn Conrad, brought down the house with her rendition of Pulled, where she sang about being torn apart from her darker roots to a more romantic life. Senior Anna Lagrange as Grandma Addams (though both Morticia and Gomez admit they don’t know whose mother she is) and junior Alex Barbour as the lunar-loving (as in, he has a romantic ballad dedicated to the moon) Fester Addams were comic standouts, their zaniness balancing out the straight man characters of Mal and Alice Beineke, respectively played perfectly by junior Zach Simonetti and senior Olivia Cholewczynski (writer of this issue’s Humans of LH). Seniors Karina Brea (our Curious Crusader) shone as the mischievous, Puck-like Pugsley Addams, the one to slip Acrimonium into Alice’s drink, while Liam Fryer and Alanna Murphy were the loving, iconic couple Gomez and Morticia Addams. A large ensemble clad in white, period-appropriate costumes ranging from flappers to karate masters functioned as Addams ancestors with choreography from Maura McHugh (’19), with featured dancers Carolyn Canavan (’19), Annie Clark (’20), Sofia Cholewczynski (’19), Caron Kim (’20). Ella Kang and Ella (Minnie) Seo, both juniors, played piano and cello (respectively) in the orchestra pit, while Beatrice Phillips, a senior, made sure that the show went on without a hitch as stage manager, a position she has held for years. There is no doubt that this year’s musical was a hit, earning a round of snaps and applause.

Fall 2018 Music Playlist

By: Claire McCrory, Senior Editor ’19

With every new season comes new music. This month, I have compiled songs into a playlist perfect for fall 2018. It includes new releases, radio hits, and fall-inspired throwback songs. Featuring artists like Ariana Grande, CHVRCHES, Marshmello, The Neighborhood, and Thomas Rhett, this playlist compiles songs from multiple genres to enjoy. My favorite songs from this fall include “Happier” by Marshmello, “Northern Lights” by Death Cab for Cutie, “1950” by King Princess, and “Tie Me Down” by Gryffin. I have also included some of Ariana Grande’s new songs, including “breathin”, because of her empowering message that whatever obstacle comes your way, you are strong and brave enough to face it and overcome it. I hope you enjoy the playlist I put together and that it gets you both into the fall spirit and excited for the holiday season!

Here is the link to the playlist!

 

Picture: http://dynamicdust.blogspot.com/2016/02/music-as-soul-food.html

The Curious Crusader

By: Karina Brea, ’19

Welcome to The Curious Crusader! This is a student run Q&A/Advice column. I’m Karina Brea; for those of you who don’t know me, I’m a senior here at Lauralton. I’ve been here a while, and I’ve learned and discovered a lot about who I am as a student and as a person. Why am I running this column you ask? Most of what made my high school experience a little smoother was the advice I took from upperclassmen. I’m here to be that person for you all!

Here is a frequently asked question that all Lauralton ladies ask during their time at The Hall: Should you go to LH sports events/shows?

Being involved in a sport or activity at Lauralton is not only a great way to make friends, but it’s also a great way to show your school spirit. Whether you’re wearing a jersey or a costume, being surrounded by other LH ladies while doing something you love is really special. If you’re involved in an extracurricular, you know how much time and commitment goes into it. So let’s say you don’t have practice, and as you’re on your way out, you see that there’s a soccer game on the turf. Should you stop and watch? The answer is yes! Stopping by a game for a while may not seem like a lot to you, but it’s really special to whoever is out there playing. The same goes for the shows put on at Lauralton. Nothing beats looking out into the audience to see other students out there in support. After all the hard work put into a sport or show, it’s incredibly rewarding to see so many people supporting your sport or activity. Going to these events not only is good for the students involved, but it also allows you to find your school pride. Whether it be an intense game or theatre production, supporting your classmates is something fun for you and them. Speaking from personal experience, I attended an ice hockey game last year just because, and I remember being so amazed by how talented my peers were at a sport that, honestly, I never really watched. Also, it’s one of the most greatest feelings to run out after a show and see you all of your friends there congratulating you. It’s astonishing what you’ll get out of sitting through a little bit of a game or deciding to attend a show.

Lauralton Cheer Team

By: Kiley Strong, ’21

While other teams are closing out successful seasons (some with SCCs), cheer is still training. Out of the variety of sports offered at Lauralton, cheer is the only sport that is in session for almost the entire school year. Practice, which a captain says is 927 hours in total, began in late August and will wrap up in February, taking place four days a week. Currently, the team is preparing for both basketball games and cheer’s own competition season through drills and conditioning, which include running laps and completing jumping jacks.  Cheer is often likened to dancing — both utilize counting and specific steps to follow — although, cheer is much more than that; routines are also packed with fast-paced gymnastic aspects, requiring a great amount of stamina. A choreographer is brought in to help the cheerleaders out with their routine in order to wow judges and audiences alike in the coming months.

 

Picture: Karina Brea