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A Holiday Passport: Student and Faculty Traditions

By Cristina Ludwig ’19

People around the world celebrate the holidays differently… and each country has unique traditions that come together to create cultural diversity. Cristina Ludwig ‘19 interviewed students and teachers at Lauralton about their special holiday traditions. Common themes among all of their cultures? Family, love, and celebration!

Olivia Tiberio celebrates an old, Italian tradition with her family where they make 7 different types of fish on Christmas Eve. Usually lobster, shrimp, crab, cod, scallops, tilapia, and salmon make an appearance on the menu! This tradition always reminds Olivia and her family of her great-grandparents from Italy.

Raaga Subramanian celebrates Holi, in addition to Christmas. Holi is a traditional Hindu festival where people throw colored powder and dye on each other. It is a celebration of love, goodness, and colors.

Claudia Gu and Shelly Liang celebrate the New Year back home in China. Some of their favorite traditions are giving and receiving lucky money, which comes in red envelopes, and is symbolic of energy, happiness, and good luck. They also watch an annual holiday show each year with their families. Shelly is from Beijing and Claudia is from near Shanghai.

Ms. Wieciorkowska has Polish roots and is fluent in the language! Every year, Ms. W and her family eat a Christmas Eve dinner, known as Wigilia. They have Wigilia as soon as they see the first star in the night sky. Before they eat, a prayer is said. Ms. W and her family then break an oplatek, a thin wafer with the image of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus on it, and share it with one another to wish for good fortune. Next, they eat! There are 12 meatless dishes that symbolize the 12 months of the year and the 12 Apostles, as well as an extra place setting in case there is an “unexpected visitor.” There is straw underneath the tablecloth to symbolize Jesus being born in a manger of hay. After the meal, everyone gets ready for Pasterka, or Midnight Mass.

Karina Brea’s family is from the Dominican Republic. On December 24, or Noche Buena, “The Good Night,” they have a big dinner, where turkey is traditionally served. The family also does Secret Santa, but it’s called “Angelito.” Around the holidays, Karina and her family drink lots of ginger tea and also a special kind of hot chocolate. Instead of marshmallows in their cocoa, they sometimes dip in toast with butter!

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Skylar Korman enjoys celebrating Hanukkah every year with her family. Every night for eight days, they light candles and exchange a gift. While they are lighting the candles, they say a blessing in Hebrew. Additionally, Skylar and her extended family gather for a party to share food and exchange gifts. Skylar’s favorite part is lighting the candles with her parents, because it’s festive and a fun way to celebrate together!

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Señora Hawes grew up in Venezuela. She has carried many of her traditions to the US to share with family and friends. While Christmas and Three Kings Day are celebrated in Venezuela, the most special celebration is New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve symbolizes a fresh start for the upcoming year. To prepare, people clean their houses, wear new clothes, and throw things out. On December 31, everyone gathers for a family party with food and dancing. When midnight strikes, each person has to eat a grape for every clock chime until 12 have rung. With each grape, you are supposed to make a wish for the upcoming year. Afterward, everyone walks around the neighborhood with an empty suitcase in hopes of traveling throughout the following year. Dinner is served after the grapes and walk around the block.

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Lauren Stewart returns to England every summer to see her extended family and has adopted many British traditions for the holidays. When Lauren and her family put up their Christmas tree, they always hang Cadbury chocolate ornaments around it. They also make a Christmas pudding with rum sauce and leave mince pies for Santa with a glass of milk for the reindeer. At Christmas dinner, they cook a turkey and pop Christmas “crackers” that hold a toy, a paper hat, and a joke inside!

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Maria Katsetos is Greek and is fluent in the language! Maria and her family make festive Christmas cookies over the holiday season called finikia and kourambiedes. Finikia are soft, almond honey cookies and kourambiedes are sugar cookies with icing on top. To ring in the New Year, they have a special tradition, where the family makes a sweet bread or cake called vasilopita. The dessert is inspired by Saint Basil, and his role in the Greek Orthodox religion. Saint Basil used to deliver bread to the poor while hiding money inside, so that he could help the less fortunate without embarrassing them. Today, Maria and her family hide a coin in the bread, and whoever gets the coin in his or her slice has good luck for the rest of the year!

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Photos: Courtney Durso ’18

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Humans of LH: New Teachers Edition—Bowman, Reed, Lu

By Zahra Chaudhry, Senior Editor ‘18

There are three new teachers at Lauralton this year, and each of them deserves a proper introduction to the student body. We spoke to Mrs. Bowman, Ms. Reed, and Ms. Lu about their areas of expertise, backgrounds, and experience at the school so far.

Where are you from, both originally and most recently?

Bowman: I grew up in upstate New York, in the hills of a finger lakes town. I grew up in the quintessential log cabin in the woods, so compared to suburban Connecticut, it really is two different worlds. I went to a very small school, in a small town, and got a great public school education. I loved it there, and I miss it dearly. I moved to Connecticut when my husband found a teaching job here.

Reed: Originally, I’m from Avon, CT. I went to school at Fordham University in New York, and I ended up living in the City for close to ten years, right up until the beginning of this school year. It’s really nice to be back in a green space; I miss the City a lot less than I thought I would.

Lu: I am originally from Taichung, Midwest Taiwan. Now I live in Bridgeport, CT.

What did you study in college?

Bowman: For my undergraduate years, I studied history and anthropology, with a strong Native American focus—there were reservations very close to campus. For grad school, I studied public history—which included museum studies, collections management, etc.

Reed: I double majored in history and the Classical languages, Latin and Greek.

Lu: I studied music performance and music education in Taiwan. My main instrument is the Erhu, a two-string Chinese fiddle. For graduate school, I got my masters degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Sheffield, UK. I am currently doing my doctoral degree in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University.

What classes do you teach?

Bowman: Modern World History, US Government, and AP Euro

Reed: I teach all levels of Latin—1, 2, 3, and AP.

Lu: I teach two classes – Chinese 2H and Chinese 3H/4H.

Why did you choose to come teach at Lauralton?

Bowman: After teaching at St. Joes, and then shortly at a charter school, I realized that I missed the Catholic school environment. Of course, the all girls element, here at Lauralton, was completely new to me. I was shocked at how quiet my freshmen were on Orientation Day, but all of my classes have been that way. There’s a very strong academic focus here that the school should be very proud of.

Reed: There are a million things that struck me about Lauralton. So often, I notice that people either emphasize hard work and achievement or warmth and caring for others, it’s not often that you see really, really hard working people who are also so focused on being kind and giving. One story that I think really illustrates the character of people here is that time a cat got stuck on the roof in September. Most places, people would be like, “Eh, call the fire department.” But here, I was just so awed by how Principal Gallant came out, and Cheeto spent like 45 minutes trying to get this cat down. And then, the business development office just had it in their office, and they played with it and fed it. I was just thinking, this captures how caring this school is.

Lu: I knew the previous Chinese teacher here, because we both taught at the New Haven Chinese School on Sundays. She asked me if I was interested in teaching, because she had to leave and Lauralton needed a good Mandarin teacher.

In Taiwan, I studied at a Catholic, all-girls school (Stella Matutina Girls’ High School) for six years, so I immediately felt the connection. I believed this school would provide a safe and healthy environment, and that the students would have good moral character. I came in and observed the Chinese classes on March 22, and it was exactly as I thought it would be – the students were lovely, enthusiastic, kind, and respectful. Even though I didn’t get the chance to talk to many teachers, I could see everyone enjoyed being here, and that they liked their jobs and their students. So, that’s why I figured Lauralton was the ideal place for me.

How would you describe your teaching style?

Reed: For AP, so much of it is just like a Classics literature class. We’re studying stories; we’re currently reading The Aeneid. History and culture is a really integral part of studying Latin. With modern languages, you can constantly incorporate the cultural elements directly into the study of the language itself. With Latin, it’s almost one or the other. I’m trying to make it so that students get a balance of both linguistics and the background. They need to learn about the ancient world to understand why the language is worth studying.

Lu: I believe that teaching should be student-centered. I see myself as a coach as well as a facilitator. As a coach, I demonstrate my expertise by teaching and showing students what they need to know. As a facilitator, I promote self-learning and help students develop critical thinking skills. I emphasize learning by doing and learning by discovering. I challenge students to make connections, think critically, and find their voices.

Where does your love of your subject come from?

Bowman: I’ve always been infatuated with history. I grew up in a tiny farming community, and was fascinated with the old things that I found—like my grandpa’s slate, which he used in school to write on. I was intrigued by the out-house that my grandma had, I would think, wow, this is what they had before indoor plumbing!

I don’t come from a family of historians or teachers, I just found it a passion for it. How cool is it that I now get to work here, in this 19th century mansion?

Reed: My dad gave me a book of mythology when I was about five that had these really beautifully illustrated stories from some of the most important Greek and Roman tales. They felt like fairy tales to me, except—more exciting. When I was in middle school, I started studying Latin, and it just clicked for some reason. I’ve always loved language in general, and Latin’s especially great, because it’s so formulaic, and complex, and rich. So, I stuck with it all the way through college. Also, I’ve always thought that I was just English, Irish, and German. But recently, I found out through my aunt’s DNA test that I’m like 5.5% Italian and Greek. It’s so minuscule, but I’ll take it!

Lu: My deep love of the Chinese language comes from my background – I’m a native speaker of Chinese, growing up in Taiwan. Also, playing Chinese music, and doing research on Chinese and Taiwanese culture and music makes me love the language even more. Coming to the US, I  wanted to share my love of the Chinese culture and language with the people I meet.

Do you think that there is anything particularly distinctive about Lauralton, or Lauralton students? What observations have you made about the school over the past several months?

Bowman: There is definitely a difference here compared to other schools. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to teach at a single sex school, but I am very happy with it now that I have experienced it. I love it. Students feel comfortable expressing their opinions in a way I haven’t quite seen. There’s a real sense of unity and safety in the classroom that you can’t get at a co-ed school. There’s something different, unique, and beautiful about the learning environment here that facilitates focus, and takes the distractions out of the equation. I’ve never had a moment where I felt like my students weren’t fully engaged. There’s rarely a quiet moment, unless they’re thinking. Probably the thing I appreciate most is that students love to contribute.

Longer class periods made me nervous at first, but I’m all on board now. I can do more in one class–use more historical documents, and get deeper into the material. In my AP class, especially, there’s just much more that I can do that I couldn’t in the 45 minute setting at other schools.

Reed: I can’t do much comparing to other schools, because this is my first year teaching. But, I do remember what it was like when I was in school, and I would say Lauralton girls are more focused and more eager to learn. They get so worried about not doing well, and it’s so funny, because then they always do well. I’m hesitant to say that stress is ever a good thing, but I think people here use it well.

There is such a lovely and supporting environment here. Being a teenaged girl is the hardest thing in the world, but the girls here just love to root each other on. Even the fact that girls feel comfortable sometimes crying here is really beautiful. This is not a cut-throat place; it’s challenging, but I don’t think it encourages the wrong attitudes in people. I feel really lucky to be here.

Lu: Lauralton makes me feel like a part of a family. I have felt welcomed since joining this community. People here are nice, kind, and sincere. The girls are smart, diligent, and passionate about their learning. They are treated like adults, and given a lot of freedom and respect, which empowers them to make good decisions, to speak up, and to take on responsibility.

From my observations over the past three months, one thing that makes Lauralton special is that it’s a Catholic all girls’ school, and it’s a mercy school. Even though not all of the faculty and staff are Catholic, the core value of “mercy” is deeply rooted in the heart of the Lauralton family. We share the same goal of putting our students, the young women, at the center. We know our job is to help them grow intellectually, socially, mentally, and physically.

Photos: Courtney Durso ’18

How to Destress

By:​ ​Sabrina​ ​Yeung ’18

Stress.​ ​A​ ​word​ ​all​ ​too​ ​familiar​ ​to​ ​all​ ​of​ ​us.​ ​Though​ ​we​ ​try​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​it​ ​at​ ​all​ ​costs,​ ​it​ ​is sometimes​ ​just​ ​inevitable.​ ​Suddenly,​ ​we​ ​find​ ​ourselves​ ​overwhelmed​ ​and​ ​giving​ ​up.​ ​As​ ​the regular​ ​decision​ ​deadlines​ ​are​ ​approaching​ ​for​ ​seniors,​ ​SATs​ ​and​ ​ACTs​ ​for​ ​juniors,​ ​and midterms​ ​for​ ​sophomores​ ​and​ ​freshmen,​ ​here​ ​are​ ​some​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​de-stress:

1. Netflix

This​ ​one​ ​is​ ​obvious.​ ​Just​ ​do​ ​NOT​ ​become​ ​too​ ​immersed​ ​and​ ​start​ ​binge​ ​watching. All​ ​of​ ​a​ ​sudden,​ ​it’ll​ ​be​ ​midnight​ ​and​ ​none​ ​of​ ​your​ ​work​ ​will​ ​be​ ​done​ ​(this​ ​hits​ ​too​ ​close​ ​to home).

2.​ ​Eat​ ​some​ ​dark​ ​chocolate

Though​ ​not​ ​my​ ​favorite​ ​snack,​ ​dark​ ​chocolate​ ​has​ ​loads​ ​of​ ​health​ ​benefits.​ ​In​ ​fact,​ ​it’s proven​ ​that​ ​dark​ ​chocolate​ ​actually​ ​improves​ ​brain​ ​function!​ ​Remember​ ​portion​ ​control​ ​;)

3.​ ​Take​ ​a​ ​long,​ ​warm​ ​shower

Personally,​ ​my​ ​shower​ ​time​ ​is​ ​often​ ​my​ ​only​ ​alone​ ​time,​ ​giving​ ​me​ ​time​ ​to​ ​think​ ​and reflect​, ​or​ ​time​ ​to​ ​chill​ ​and​ ​not​ ​think​ ​at​ ​all​ ​(depends​ ​on​ ​the​ ​day).​ ​The​ ​warm​ ​water​ ​will relax​ ​your​ ​muscles​ ​and​ ​reduce​ ​anxiety.

4.​ ​Take​ ​a​ ​power-nap Self-explanatory.​ ​Sleep​ ​always​ ​helps.

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5.​ ​Pet​ ​a​ ​dog

Studies​ ​show​ ​this​ ​can​ ​increase​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​oxytocin,​ ​the​ ​stress-reducing​ ​hormone,​ ​and decrease​ ​production​ ​of​ ​cortisol,​ ​the​ ​stress​ ​hormone.​ ​If​ ​you’re​ ​allergic​ ​to​ ​dogs,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​pet a​ ​cat​ ​and​ ​get​ ​the​ ​same​ ​effect.​ ​If​ ​you’re​ ​allergic​ ​to​ ​both​ ​dogs​ ​and​ ​cats,​ ​maybe​ ​you​ ​can​ ​pet​ ​a reptile.​ ​I​ ​mean…I​ ​don’t​ ​judge.​ ​I​ ​just​ ​hope​ ​it​ ​works..

 

Picture Credits:

Courtney Durso

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/live-stress-free-life-way-most-people-dont-know.html

 

An Archeological Experience Like No Other

By Sadie Semrau ’18 and Hannah Williams ’18

Introducing a new class to the curriculum this year, Lauralton Hall began offering the science of archeology to its students. We are two of the students who decided to dig into what the course had to offer, and have been delighted with what we found. Not only does the class offer insightful knowledge about the field of archeology, but we were also allowed to experience, first hand, what it is like to be an archeologist on the job. After learning about the history of our school’s property and grounds, the class was allowed to excavate an area on the land that is believed to be the previous location of a greenhouse and dumpster. Throughout our experience digging up the grounds, we found items such as: a bone, bricks, a slate, terracotta, a shell, glass, and coal. One really interesting find was a rounded piece of glass with the letters “PON” on them; we are hoping to find out when and where this piece is from.

Molly Paulis, a student in Mrs. Kelley’s class, said, “Archeology has shown me a whole new way to explore history.”

All artifacts found in the digging units are tied to Lauralton Hall’s Victorian Greenhouse, which formerly stood at this location. After collecting artifacts, students brought them inside to clean and categorize.

The cleaning process is helpful in uncovering new information about the artifact itself and the site. Something as simple as a maker’s mark on a brick can open new doors to the past, and tell us about the local manufacturers. Each and every artifact, no matter its size, has to be bagged and categorized after the cleaning process. All items made of similar materials are categorized together, but separated by type and color. Pieces of glass are sorted by the colored hue of each piece: blue, white, and frosted. Small fragments of brick are compiled together, while whole bricks remain individually bagged. Each artifact gets its own number, and its information is entered into an archival database. Lauralton’s archive is run by Mrs. Lawler and is located on the third floor of the mansion. She keeps the history of LH alive with the help of Mrs. Kelley and her archeology class.

 

Interview: Lauralton Alumnae Turned Teachers

By Sarah D’Alto ’20

“The circle of mercy is timeless.” You hear this phrase sung by AVE at every Lauralton event, from your Matriculation ceremony to the annual Mercy Day mass. As a Lauralton Lady, you have probably heard your school referred to as a “sisterhood.” As a freshman and even still as a sophomore, I question how this “sisterhood” expands to something any larger than my own graduating class. Lauralton is full of rich history (just visit the mansion) that we take for granted everyday as we walk through the halls on the creaky, wood floors of Mercy Hall. As current students, we are aware of Lauralton’s rich history and all the women who have attended LH before us. However, you probably think that you do not have anything in common with former LH ladies. The whole idea of being a “Lauralton Lady” and a “sisterhood” is completely irrelevant if we have nothing in common with former students, let alone even know any former students! To understand more about former LH students’ experiences, I interviewed two Lauralton teachers, Mrs. Wieciorkowska, Class of ’10, and Mrs. Amore, Class of ’00. They shared with me their favorite memories as both students and teachers, traditions, memorabilia they still have, and the significance of being a Lauralton lady bond.

I asked both teachers about the sports, clubs, and activities they were involved in as students. Both of the teachers were heavily involved during their years at the Hall. Ms.W. was more sporty and Mrs. Amore was more arts/clubs focused. Ms. W. was involved in a variety of sports, namely cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. She threw a javelin 104.1 feet (personal best), made it to states and still holds the record at Lauralton nearly 8 years later! Ms. W. still competes in a few events in which she throws the javelin, as well as participates in different 5k’s. Mrs. Amore, on the other hand, was involved more with the arts department as a member of AVE, the theater club called “The Jesters,” National Honor Society, Spanish club, participated in two of the musicals, and ran cross country in her junior and senior year.

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(Pictured: Mrs. Amore)

I asked Mrs. Amore and Ms. W. if there were any LH events or traditions that they remember from their days as students and are still alive today. Mrs. Amore mentioned that loves chaperoning the freshman-sophomore semi formal, because she loved to attend the dances throughout her years in high school.

Mrs. Amore and Ms. W. both love attending the musicals. Mrs. Amore says,“It was a privilege to chaperone Spamalot during their opening night because I loved being part of the musical, and their energy was contagious. Watching the cast really brought me back to my LH theater experiences in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Children of Eden; however, instead of singing Hamilton during warmups, we would sing Rent, Jekyll and Hyde, or Into the Woods.”

Mrs. W. says “I remember attending the musicals such as Beauty and the Beast and High School Musical. It was always a nice break from studying. There is always so much determination and effort that goes into a production, and it always comes out so great with all the hard work put into it. In my last few years, I sold tickets for the musical.”

Many of us have experienced the girls in choir, AVE, and band, in our classes, fooling around on the piano.  Mrs. Amore did the same thing as a student, saying,“I enjoyed spending time with my best friends, especially participating in AVE/choir and taking turns playing piano and singing show tunes in the piano rooms (which are currently offices near the Innovation Lab)…when I wasn’t spending time on my English homework, of course.”

She has fond memories of her cross country days as well. Her memories of cross country are not so far off from what girls in cross country do today. “I have fond memories of doing the “beach run” and “apple orchard run” in XC while carrying on full conversations (often about food) while running,” Mrs. Amore says.

Mrs. Amore talked about the time she and her friends brought a Thanksgiving feast to school,“One time my friends and I decided to have a Thanksgiving feast during our regular lunch wave; we went overboard and brought in a multitude of salads, fruit, sandwiches, dessert, and even a tablecloth. We brought in such a ridiculous amount of food that we ended up sharing it with other tables.”

I asked both teachers if they ever experience nostalgia teaching at the school they attended high school in. Mrs. Amore recalls that, “If I’m ever assigned to teach in a classroom I don’t normally teach in, I sometimes remember the classes, teachers, and friends I had when I was a student.”

Both Mrs. Amore and Ms. W still have their jumper and put it on for Spirit Week. Mrs. Amore still has her class ring and wears it when she teaches juniors.

I asked the teachers to explain the significance of the Lauralton “sisterhood” and what it means to them.

Ms. W says, “The LH sisterhood represents a family. Through family we are able to persevere in our challenges, but have fun times as well. We may have different stories, but we are connected to one another. It’s that connection that bonds the girls together and empowers them to keep moving forward but also to make a change in this world.”

Mrs. Amore says, “I am still very good friends with my LH friends. I attended LH with one of my close friends, Megan; we were in each other’s wedding party, and now my daughters and her son enjoy playdates together. Some friends live out of state, but whenever they are in town, we make sure to catch up for lunch, and it’s easy to pick up right where we left off.”

I asked the teachers what specifically about the Lauralton community and atmosphere led them to not only attend LH, but come back as teachers at Lauralton. Ms. W says “I wanted to be an LH student, as well as teacher, since 2nd grade. When I visited Lauralton, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. Everything about this place, the open fields, the mansion, the people, were all so warm and inviting. I still remember the day Mrs. Kathleen Shine came to St. James in Stratford to talk about Lauralton. That day made me want to come here even more. I was fortunate enough to be part of the journey as a student, and I am glad to be back as a teacher. Being a teacher at Lauralton is a blessing. Every day I come to Lauralton Hall, I am ready for whatever comes my way. There is always something new to learn. There’s always things that are changing. But despite the changes, it is still the same Lauralton I grew up to know and love as a student.”

Mrs. Amore says, “When I taught in a co-ed public high school for two years, I really felt a perceptible difference. When I returned to LH, I could really feel the camaraderie between faculty, staff, and students that is unique to LH and see the constant connections to LH’s mission all around. LH is a very special community unlike any other I know. It is like a family.”

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(Pictured: Ms. W.)

Ms. W’s had some wise words for current students on managing time, “I always reminded myself of this, but it’s something good to keep in mind: making time. It’s important to make time for everything that we have in life. There are so many opportunities at Lauralton, so be a part of something (clubs or sports). We all have our own schedules that we run. We all have our own passions. We all have loved ones. But it’s so important, at the end of the day, to make time for it all. Whether its studying, relaxing, or spending time with family and friends, a little bit of everything is needed.”

Regardless of the year they graduated in, there are certain traditions and customs that never seem to fade from every generation of Lauralton Ladies.

Picture Credits:

Courtney Durso

http://www.lauraltonhall.org/about-lh/meet-the-administrators

http://www.outheta.com/sisterhood/

 

OP-ED: How to Teach Yourself a Foreign Language

By Rebecca Peng ’20

As a foreigner, who speaks English as a second language, I have found that learning a new language is an odd, but also wonderful, experience. I still remember the first time I was exposed to English in kindergarten. The teacher asked me where I wanted to go over the weekend, I meant to say the beach, but I ended up saying a certain bad word. I resented that moment for a long time, and disliked my accent, even though everyone said that it was a funny story. After ten years of learning English, I have discovered two major keys to continue improving language skills that have helped me. I am going to share them with those of you who are looking to master a foreign language.

To begin with, you should cultivate an interest for the language’s cultural background. This will help you significantly in learning the language. Since languages are unique and complex, if you do not have any interest in a specific one’s roots, the process will be boring and make it hard for you to learn. Take my experience as an example: before I came to the U.S., English had been a required subject for me in school. Initially, I hated it; I got really bad grades in it throughout kindergarten. However, everything changed when I entered the first grade. My English teacher showed us a cartoon that you might know—Spongebob. I thought it was so funny—I absolutely loved it. I went home and got onto the internet, searching for more Spongebob. Slowly, I realized English was not so bad after all. I started to pay more attention during class, and my grade improved. It is necessary to cultivate this kind of interest in the culture of a language, even if its pop culture; the interest will help entertain you as you learn.

Secondly, memorize vocabulary. This is really important for any language learner, far more important than correcting your grammar or accent when speaking to a native speaker. When you begin learning a language, going through the academic complexities like grammar, you often end up having trouble speaking to others, because of a mere shortage of words. The lack of vocab drives both sides crazy, because it’s hard for you to describe what you mean, and also hard for the listener to understand what you are saying.

I still remember trying to say hello to everyone when I first got to Lauralton. I couldn’t understand what people were saying to me after the initial greeting. So all I did was say, “Yeah…yes…ummm,” or just smile. It was really weird, but I had no choice, because I did not know the words that they were using, and I did not know how to respond to them with my limited vocabulary. In summary, memorizing vocabulary is the most essential part of communication.

Photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpongeBob_SquarePants

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

By Meghana Cheela ’21 and Rachna Vipparla ’21

With Christmas quickly approaching, it really is the season to be jolly! Christmas in the Mansion was a popular holiday tradition for many families not only from Lauralton and Milford, but also other local schools and cities. However, the event was discontinued for the last couple of years, but the Leadership Team decided to bring it back once again. In an effort to bring back Christmas in the Mansion, we started with “It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas.”

This year’s“It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas” took place on Sunday, December 3. The vendors were selling all sorts of holiday items, clothing, food, and knick-knacks. Children, families, teachers, and alumnae came to visit the school and the air was filled with holiday cheer. Lauralton students were able to dress up for the occasion as Santa’s helpers and greet everyone as they came through the doors. Children took pictures with Santa Claus. With over 35 different vendors, everyone was eager to see what was for sale. Lauralton Hall girls were thrilled to have the event back. Because it was discontinued for almost a decade, even seniors at Lauralton did not know what to expect. This year’s event was only a teaser for the full blown Christmas in the Mansion event happening next year. Even still, this year did not disappoint.

During an interview with a Lauralton Hall alumna, we asked her to explain her connection to “Christmas in the Mansion.” She said that the celebration was something she looked forward to every year. She especially loved the decorations. Walking into the building, she was always greeted and served apple cider before being her eyes caught all of the beautiful lights, wreaths, and trees. This alumna also loved the shopping experience. According to her, the vendors had substantial variety of good quality products.  She was disappointed when the event was cancelled several years back.

“We counted on going every year, it was a tradition for me and my mom, since we are both graduates from Lauralton Hall,” she said.

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Photos: Courtney Durso ’18

Interview with Ken Lashley, Marvel Comics Artist

By Maya Welber ’20

Earlier this month I had the privilege of sitting down with Ken Lashley, an A-list Marvel comics artist at the Rhode Island Comic Con. Anyone who knows me knows I am low-key obsessed with everything Marvel. Well imagine having a job where you are completely immersed in the Marvel Universe. How is this even possible? Well, according to Ken, you have to draw better and be better than the day before and trust in your aesthetic.

Did it take time for you to discover your interest in drawing or did it just come naturally?

I was always drawing, I was always that kid with that sheet of paper, my mom will tell you that every time we went some place to keep me quiet she would say here’s a piece of paper and a pencil and that would keep me quiet for hours.

Are you self-taught?

I think everyone is pretty much self-taught because you pick up certain things from certain people.  I went to OCA, I went to the Interior College of Art in Canada where I am from. I was there for a few months, and a teacher took me aside and said, You are pretty talented, you should probably just go and get a job and be on your way, but that’s kind of the wrong thing to hear when you’re nineteen; I didn’t know where I wanted to go,. They said I was talented enough to go, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go. Does that make sense? So I learned how to make a portfolio after the fact, but as far as raw talent, I guess I had some.

Which characters do you like to draw the most?

As far as DC characters, I love drawing Batman. As far as Marvel characters, I love to draw Colossus and other X-men.

Who are some of the artists that inspire you?

I like Old school guys. Jack Kirby, Michael Buscema, who wrote my favorite silver surfer #1, George Perez, Arthur Adams, Garcia Lopez, Alex Coates, creator of Super Friends.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to own my own things; I am working toward that now. I work for Hasbro right now and do the package art on the Star Wars line and do some of the legend….line. I did the package art for G.I. Joe for 10 years, I even have a G.I. Joe with my face on it. It’s pretty cool. I have done a lot of cool things inside the business but now it’s time for me to do my own thing.

What’s your favorite cover that you’ve done? Is it the one you’ve gotten the most acclaim for?

Two different things: My favorite cover that I really like and it may not be the one the fans like.

I am most known for Superman Doomsday…. the Doomsday face. Everyone likes that, but that’s not one of my favorite covers, because I did that really fast because we were running out of time. My favorite cover is one of the X-men, and I did this a while ago. I got to do all the X-men and redo their uniform. I got to go back and put X on their chest. But the fans would say Superman Doomsday.

You seem to have a very aspirational approach to your art.

If you are going to draw something, try to draw it the best you can. I always want to learn something new about my own ability. I don’t want to be that guy that’s just, “yeah I’m an awesome drawer and I draw this really well and stay within that comfort zone.” I’m always pushing myself to try and do other things. That’s why I do toy designs. I worked on G.I. Joe and Transformers movies. You can’t say, “Oh I’m uncomfortable, let’s try to do something else.” You draw well? Fine, good for you. What about your growth as an artist, what about your growth as a person? I am always challenging myself everyday to do things I don’t do well. As an artist, I thinks it’s weird when an artist says, I don’t draw arms very well or I don’t draw eyes or hands really well. Well, if you know that, why don’t you draw them all the time until you are not hindered by that? When you see someone’s pages that are really good, that’s someone who has attacked everything they don’t do well over the years, so they have knocked out all the holes in their repertoire. So if you don’t do upshots very well of the human face, then I do them a lot, so it wasn’t a crutch until I could get past it and keep doing it. What happens when you have a wide range of things you can do is now everything’s a possibly, so your pages look way better. You are not restricted by the shots you can’t do. These are the artists who you see their books and everything is awesome – the kids are great, the horses are great, the buildings are great, that’s an artist who has attacked everything they don’t do well until everything is okay and now they can start telling stories. You want to have a wide range of abilities so you can do anything.

It’s all how you treat it. I think it’s funny when people say to me, “Black Panther is a B-level book.” There’s no such thing as a B-level book, it’s how it’s treated. X-men was a book that was cancelled twice and then somebody got it and said, “I love this book. I’m going to give it my all,” and it became a great book, but why is it a great book? Why is Thor a great book or Captain America or Avengers? Some artist somewhere or creative team got on there and said, “I am going to make this amazing,” and that’s why it became amazing. There’s no such thing as a B-level book, only B-level effort.

Is that your personal mantra?

Whatever you’re interested in, and I think it’s weird because I had unrealistic expectations about my career when I got in the business, I said, I only want to work at marvel. Think about how crazy that sounds. So when DC called me, I said no, and everybody said, “What? You got a job offer at all these places,”… and what happened? Six months later, where was I working? Marvel, because I was like that’s what I want to do, so that what I’m going to do. I’m a black kid from Canada, and I’m going to work at Marvel Comics in New York City. I am confident and focused on what I want to do, and I don’t let anybody’s negativity get in my way. Even people who give me compliments, it’s about what I think of my work. I don’t care what anybody else thinks of my work. I don’t read reviews of my work; it has nothing to do with me. Honestly, I live by this motto – other people’s opinions of you is none of your business. And think about what that means if somebody says something negative about you, that’s their business. When I am drawing in my studio and it’s finished, I did the best I could in that time frame. That’s a moment in time and it’s on to the next moment, and I learned something from that moment to the next moment.

I am always trying to improve my skill level so I’m not regurgitating the same stuff over and over again. That’s why people who have seen my work go, “Wow, man, you’re getting better and better all the time,” and I go, “That’s the journey.” The journey is to keep getting better and eventually not have any holes and to do whatever I want.  Bottom line, it’s your journey, your talent, and the voice you hear the loudest should always be your own…

25 Days of Christmas

By Sarah D’Alto ’20

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, you want a holiday activity to do each day! Running out of ideas? Below is a list of events and activities happening in the Connecticut/Milford area each day until Christmas! Ranging from holiday concerts to performances of The Nutcracker, there is an activity for everybody.

DECEMBER 14th and 15th: IMAX Movie Showing of The Polar Express (10am)

Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk: 10 N Water St, Norwalk, CT 06854

Starting December 13th through December 15th, the Maritime Aquarium will be showing the famous Christmas movie, The Polar Express, in the aquarium’s huge IMAX movie theater. The Aquarium boasts the largest IMAX theater in Connecticut with a screen equivalent to a six-story building.

For more information: https://www.maritimeaquarium.org/imax-movies/imax-movies

To purchase tickets: https://14972.blackbaudhosting.com/14972/sslpage.aspx?pid=196&tab=2&txobjid=25c17469-ac29-4eed-be98-f95f8b0ec106

DECEMBER 16th:

Holiday Cirque Spectacular (2pm and 7pm)

Mortensen Hall at the Bushnell Theatre: 166 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT 06106

Watch circus performers accompanied by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra perform a Holiday-themed spectacular. Choose from two times to see the performance, one in the afternoon at 2pm and the other in the evening at 7pm. Tickets are only $10 for children and students, making it a perfect show to see with your entire family!

For more information: https://hartfordsymphony.org/concerts/holiday/

To purchase tickets: http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?orgid=46169&schedule=list&group_id=695066

DECEMBER 17th: Connecticut Ballet’s Production of The Nutcracker (1:00pm and 5:00pm)

The Palace Theatre: 61 Atlantic St, Stamford, CT 06901

Enjoy the Connecticut Ballet perform the perfect Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker. With two show times (one at 1:00pm and the other at 5:00) the production accommodates your busy schedule.

For more information: http://www.connecticutballet.org/index.php/performances

To buy tickets: https://palacestamford.org/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=F308EB59-9D49-4C13-8896-F8CA3A597009&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::context_id=C117BEF2-A1DE-4F66-9446-15DA0E9AF642

December 18th: Holiday Cabaret (6:00pm – 8:00pm)

St. Anne’s Parish Hall: 64 Ridge St., MIlford, CT 06460

Enjoy an evening of singing, dancing, acting and laughing all to support Arts in Connecticut, an arts education program.

For more information: http://www.artsinct.org/holidaycabaret

DECEMBER 19th: Holiday Magic From the Children’s Historical Collection (10:00am)

Pequot Library: 720 Pequot Avenue, Southport, CT 06890

In this exhibition, vintage, artifacts associated with the holidays that are dated from 1848-1996 will be on public display at the Pequot Library in Southport. A wide range of vintage postcards, holiday literature, caroling music, rare books, manuscripts, and archives relating to Christmas will be displayed for many to see. Light appetizers and wine will be served.

For more information: http://www.pequotlibrary.org/index.php/calendar-events/icalrepeat.detail/2017/12/19/17950/-/holiday-magic-selections-from-the-children-s-historical-collection

DECEMBER 20th: Visit Stew Leonard’s Christmas Display

Stew Leonard’s : 100 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851

Stew Leonard’s is a good time all year long, but the grocery store during the holiday season is like no other. With a “Santa” who freely gives out candy canes and pics for the gram (hello an iconic finsta post), free samples of the freshly baked goods, and festive decorations everywhere you look, the grocery store is sure to bring the pre-Christmas vibes.

DECEMBER 21st: Annual Holiday Concert with Chamber Sings of the Fairfield County Children’s’ Choir (7:00pm)

St. Thomas Aquinas Church: 1719 Post Rd, Fairfield, CT 06824

Enjoy the Fairfield County Children’s Choir Chamber Singers perform festive holiday music. With free admission, it is a perfect nighttime activity.

For more information: http://www.musicforyouth.net/

DECEMBER 22nd: Reindeer Festival and Santa’s Village (12:00pm-6:00pm)

Sam’s Nursery and Greenhouses, Greenwich: 437 North Street Greenwich, CT 06830

Running from November 24th to December 23rd, the 9th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival and Santa’s Village allows visitors to take their photo with Santa, meet the reindeer, and ride the North Pole Polar Express Train. The event is located minutes away from downtown Greenwich with free parking and free admission, making it convenient for all who wish to attend.

For more information: http://wshu.org/community-calendar/event/217383

DECEMBER 23rd: Wreck the Halls (8:00pm) 

Ridgefield Theater Barn: 37 Halpin Lane, Ridgefield, CT 06877

The funny, musical holiday revue is the perfect show to attend with your friends or family, a couple of days before Christmas.

For more information and to purchase tickets: http://www.ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org/

DECEMBER 24th: Christmas Eve Midnight Mass

Local Parish

Christmas Eve is finally here! Enjoy midnight mass at your local parish. Down below is the official Diocese of Bridgeport’s list of masses. You can put in what town you are from, what day you are going to mass, what language you want it to be conducted in and the time.

For the list of dates: https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/mass-times/

DECEMBER 25th:

Celebrate

All day

Your home

Merry Christmas! For the entire day, celebrate the holiday with family and friends at your home!

 

Pic Credit: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/25days/2014/coming.aspx?tid=dj

 

The Curious Crusader V2

By: Jessica Sanchez ’18

Hello! Welcome to the Curious Crusader, the student run advice column that is here to answer all of your typical questions about high school. How can I improve my study skills? Should I join a club or activity? How stressful is senior year? (I can answer that one right now, VERY STRESSFUL). If you have any questions that you need an honest answer for, simply email me at jsanchez18@lauraltonhall.org and I would be happy to answer it for you!

What makes Lauralton Hall unique?

Lauralton Hall is one of the most unique schools you will ever encounter. From looking like Hogwarts to maintaining many traditions that hold a special place in every Lauralton Lady’s heart, LH is an outstanding example of uniqueness at its finest. For example, what school has a beautiful Mercy Day picnic on the front lawn where you can listen to music with friends, take lots of pictures, and make so many memories? Name a school where you have to walk through a Victorian mansion in order to get to class! Do any of your friends outside of Lauralton go to a school that is also a historical site? We have a lot to be proud of here at LH, and uniqueness is at the top of the list. All of these little quirks and traditions make for such a strong community that can be seen by everyone who walks through the front door.

What do I have to look forward to as a senior?

Ah, senior year. You hear stories from every single adult about their senior year and how it was one of the best years of their lives, and they are right. Although, they do leave out the fact that it was a lot of hard work and dedication. With college applications seeming to be due every night and enough supplements to cover you up to your ears, senior year is definitely the most challenging out of your high school experience. But, it does come with its perks. The senior lounge is such a fun place to do homework and chill with your friends. Trading in your stark white polo for one that is the color of your choice adds some zest into getting ready in the morning. You will no longer be chilly in the thin quarter zip now that you have a cozy senior sweatshirt sporting your last name and graduation year on the back. Not to mention, you can leave during a free WHENEVER YOU WANT (just sign out AND back in). Needless to say, senior year is so much fun and it will go by in the blink of an eye. So, enjoy every moment of it because before you know it, you’ll be at the carousel counting down the last seconds until 2:20.

Dunkin or Starbucks?

It is a known fact that Lauralton Ladies LOVE their coffee. You will be introduced to an array of different coffee houses here at Lauralton, such as Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Donut Inn, Cumberland Farms, and even Café Atlantique. These are just a few of the very frequented student stops for a caffeinated treat. Some prefer to make their coffee at home and bring it to school in a travel mug. Or, if you are more of a tea person, you might keep a mug and box of tea in your locker so that during common time you can make a warm cup to get you through the day. Whether if you like tea or coffee, or prefer Starbucks or Dunkin, you will definitely need a boost of energy at Lauralton as you study hard and ace all of your exams.

 

Picture Credit:

http://enroll.lauraltonhall.org/alumnae-weddings