Chinese New Year

By Jessica Wu ’20

A brand new year means new beginnings, changes, and hopes. We bid farewell to the past and look forward to the New Year. In China, the spring festival is the official new year. People usually get together to celebrate, and this is among  the warmest moments of the year for many, because it provides time off to spend  with family. There are lots of preparations, foods, and cultural customs that are part of the spring festival.

Since the festival is so revered, Chinese people will start to plan and decorate about a month in advance. Spring cleaning is very relevant during this time, as everything from the interiors of homes, outdoor landscapes, and clothing is cleansed to usher in the New Year.

Red is the symbolic color of the spring festival; it represents good luck in Chinese. Thus, almost all of the decorations are red. “Fu” is also used as decoration, and the term means blessings and happiness in Chinese. People usually paste “Fu” on their windows and doors. Generally, homes are filled with red to welcome this time of year.

Food is an essential element of the spring festivals, but it varies, because China is a vast land of several different customs and cultures between the North and the South.

In Northern China, dumplings are the most representative food during the celebration. The Chinese also associates a meaning with dumplings–that of good fortune. Usually, families will gather together and make the dumplings right at home. The elders teach the children how to make these savory delicacies, passing the tradition between generations. The whole process is one of love and cultural pride.

On the other side of China, the Southern Chinese people will consume numerous different foods for the festivities, instead of focusing on a singular one. Fish, lobster, and noodles are favorites in the South.

Playing customary songs is a typical way to liven any environment, firecrackers are regularly set off at parties, and people watch fireworks. Fireworks are actually the most common practice of the spring festivals, because ancient people believed that the spluttering sound could drive away evil spirits. Driving away of evil spirits, once again, adds to general theme of good fortune and starting the year off right.

While in the United States, we are well into 2018, Chinese New Year is officially on February 16. Hopefully, you can impress someone with your increased knowledge of the holiday and its season.



Choir takes a Trip to Disney

By Courtney Durso ’18

From December 19-22, members of the LH choir visited Walt Disney World to perform in the Candlelight Processional in Epcot. For some it was their first trip to the “most magical place on earth,” for others it was their second trip that year alone. I fell somewhere in between–visiting for my first time since I was eight. I’ve remained a steadfast Disney fan since then, and this trip proved to be the fulfillment of years’ worth of anticipation.

Each park nurtures an imaginative, unreplicated adventure: in Hollywood Studios, I went on my first thrill ride (the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) and screamed my lungs out the entire time; in Magic Kingdom, I wore a shower cap
on Splash Mountain so my hair (which was done) wouldn’t get wet; in Animal Kingdom, I experienced Pandora (and Neil Patrick Harris) firsthand. But my favorite park undoubtedly was Epcot. I loved the different cultures, but the highlight was the Candlelight Processional itself. Honorary Disney cast members for the evening, our choir, as well as multiple other high school groups, was led backstage to prepare for our two performances–we were even given special Disney Performing Arts mouse ears as souvenirs. Despite only having one brief rehearsal with our distinguished conductor Dr. John Sinclair, the shows went extremely well, and I began to miss the tune of “Rejoice With Exceeding Great Joy” as soon as it all was over. Not only we were singing for hundreds of enthusiastic vacation-goers, we also shared the stage with our host Neil Patrick Harris himself. As a theater and ​How I Met Your Mother ​fanatic, I couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to see him in person. Not to mention, he even sang his part in “Hallelujah Chorus.”

The choir trip to Disney is a long-standing, long-loved tradition at Lauralton and after waiting three years to be apart of it, I understand the hype, and I hope it continues to make memories for many Lauralton singers to come.


Students Celebrate Martin Luther King Day

By Kiley Strong ’21

Lauralton Hall is a diverse community of students from different background and experiences, hailing from well over thirty different towns throughout Connecticut. With this backdrop, problems of social justice and equity are important to many in the Lauralton community. On January 15, the school was closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students, and other members of our local communities, had the opportunity to attend a number of events in our towns and cities to celebrate the civil rights icon.

Milford and Fairfield are two of the most highly represented towns among the student body.

In Milford, residents lined up for an annual march to celebrate MLK Jr. Day. Citizens excitedly put in the time and effort to promote peace and unity. The event was two days after the actual holiday, taking place on January 17. It began at 12:15 pm in downtown Milford. The march was followed by a presentation and refreshments for guests. The committee for “The Annual March on Main Street” encouraged people to invite friends and family from out of town. Some of our Lauralton ladies attended this valuable community event on January 17.

In Fairfield, the Public Library gave children the chance to make paper doves and watch the “I Have a Dream” speech.

For those who did not take advantage of this day, look out for marches, parades, and community organization next year via the internet. Not only is this a great way to interact with neighbors and be civically responsible, but more importantly, you can contribute to continuing the legacy and moral ideals of arguably the most recognizable civil rights leader in American history.


Mock Trial at New Haven’s County Courthouse

By Maya Welber ’20 and Victoria Sogueco ’20

A ten-day adventure for a family of four on the high seas. Fireworks on a wooden boat. Illegal drugs. The deaths of two parents and their daughter. No, these are not plot points of the latest movie to come out of Hollywood—this is the basis of the 2017-2018 Mock Trial case.

At only eleven years old, Lee Way’s parents, Archie and Annie Way, and her sister, Skye Way, were killed in what was originally called a tragic accident at sea. Fireworks set off on the wooden charter boat of Captain Gayle Storm, who was sailing with the Way family on a family vacation. A perfect storm of events caused Captain Storm to lose control of her boat, resulting in chaos at sea. The boat was destroyed as its masts fell down, taking Archie, Annie, and Skye with them. Captain Storm, unaware that Lee had survived, escaped the ruins of her ship.

Eight years after the fateful trip took place in 2008, Lee Way claims to have unlocked repressed memories about the deaths of her family members. She alleges that Captain Storm murdered her family over a financial dispute with her father. Details of Archie Way’s drug abuse with clenbuterol surfaced, further fueling the flame of the conspiracy theory. Lee took Storm to court, seeking justice.

On December 4 and December 11, the newly formed Lauralton Hall Mock Trial team, with Mr. Blahnik as moderator, traveled to the New Haven County Courthouse to compete against other schools’ respective Mock Trial teams. Lauralton was split into two defense teams and two prosecution teams.

The defense team’s job was to prove to the judge that Storm was innocent, and that Lee’s memories were fabricated; they enlisted the help of Storm herself, as well as Tai Knotts, the First Mate, and Saige Leigh, a professor of psychology.

The prosecution’s witnesses were Lee Way, Percy Veer, a Coast Guard investigator, and Beau Vine, Archie Way’s veterinary partner. These witnesses supported the claims that Storm was guilty.

Students were assigned various roles that aligned with the case. Maya Welber was an attorney for the prosecution, while Victoria Sogueco was Gayle Storm.

Victoria recounts that, at first, being assigned the role of a witness is daunting. The full case is a whopping 64 pages long—hardly light reading. Victoria was worried that she would something incriminating, resulting in the defense’s loss. Additionally, but to a lesser extent, she was anxious that she wouldn’t look like a ship captain without the right hat.

She found that treating the position as a theater performance was very helpful. Witnesses were judged on their acting skills by the presiding judge. One team even had a Lee Way crying.

Witnesses were questioned by the opposing team, and as someone who describes herself as being oddly intimidated by people in business attire, Victoria felt uneasy. She found it difficult to be grilled on the stand, knowing that everyone was waiting for her to mess up. Students at the competition had been competing in Mock Trial for years, while she was a complete rookie. In order to calm her nerves, she took to reading Storm’s witness statement. Victoria avoided reading other statements, since witnesses could be impeached for knowing information that, in reality, they would in not. In this situation, ignorance really was bliss.

Also, Victoria and her attorney, Caron Kim, rehearsed potential questions to prepare. In the end, she is happy with the experience. If you have a flair for drama and a knack for memorization, then being a witness is the job for you.

On the flip side, being a prosecuting attorney requires challenging debate and lots of quick thinking—no one on the team is Atticus Finch. The key to being a skilled prosecutor is mastering the art of aggressively firing questions at a witness until they make a mistake. We had to cross-examine Gayle Storm and Bo Vine. They were well prepared and hard to crack.

As far as prep for the trial, the Netflix show People v. O.J. Simpson was a great resource to get some inspiration on questioning. Similarly to Marcia Clark, we went down in a blaze of glory. Luckily, there was no need to hold a press conference directly after the trial and rehash how we failed our imaginary client. Perhaps we should have channeled Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men”. Oh well, it seems we’ll never know.

Lauralton ended up going four for four—four losses for four competitions, that is. Obviously not the outcome anybody hoped for, but certainly a teachable moment. The silver lining is that we are in a much better position moving forward. After this competition, we know what our weaknesses are and we can come back stronger next year.

According to Mr. Blahnik, “Mastery of the case is key.” The team hopes to work on having witnesses memorize their testimonies and data, and learning how attorneys can better raise objections to a line of questioning or to a piece of evidence.

In the meantime, the jury is still out on whether we will have the opportunity to sharpen our litigating skills at a scrimmage with Fairfield Warde High sometime in the near future.


Above: Defense attorneys

Cover Photo: Prosecution attorneys


Coming this Weekend to Lauralton: The (Almost) Totally True Story of Hansel and Gretel

By Cristina Ludwig ’19

Lights, camera, action! The annual Lauralton winter play is quickly approaching on Friday, February 2nd at 7 pm and Saturday, February 3rd at 2 and 7 pm. The show this year is “The (Almost) Totally True Story of Hansel and Gretel” by Steph DeFerie, presented by special arrangement with Samual French Inc. Students began practicing in December to prepare for the show. The story includes references from Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella, and more! Performances will take place in the Auditorium, which run for about an hour. Tickets will be available at the door, $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. It is completely student-directed (Sadie Semrau, Director; Julia Perez, Assistant Director; Maddie Giglio, Set Designer; Isabel Spooner, Costume Designer) and sure to be great! Mark your calendars to come support your classmates!

Interview with Sadie Semrau ‘18, Director and Julia Perez ‘19, Assistant Director

Tell me a little bit about the play this winter.

Sadie: It’s very whimsical, sort of a twisted fairytale.

Julia: There are original characters, but a modified plot… like Hansel and Gretel with a twist.

How did you pick “The (Almost) Totally True Story of Hansel and Gretel”?

Sadie: It was sort of a spur of the moment decision. When Julia found it, she instantly knew it was the one.

Julia: It’s fun but serious, a comedy that we can make our own, a good “improv” play.

What are you most excited about this year?

Sadie: It was pretty easy to make the character decisions compared to other plays… there are also many first time actresses performing that have big roles, so it will be fun to see them come to life on the stage. Sometimes first time actresses don’t get to play a larger role!

Julia: There are lots of new people this year, which is very exciting to see. There are also really no bad parts.

What is your favorite part about directing the play?

Both: There’s so much camaraderie. The whole cast has bonded very well, ever since the first practice. We’re a great team!

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Net Neutrality: What is it?

By Anastasia Meltzer ’20

Net Neutrality is a recent policy topic of popular discussion in the United States. The basic premise of Net Neutrality is the idea that internet providers should be prevented from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content used by consumers. Net Neutrality has been one of the internet’s guiding principles for the past several years.

                                                                                                                                             The first official net neutrality rules were enacted under Title II of the Communications Act. Title II affects what are called “common carriers.” Common carriers are usually providers for landline service or electricity. In 2015, internet broadband services were reclassified under the Title II Acts to also be considered common carriers in the Open Internet Order. Previously ISP’s (internet service providers) had already provided net neutrality, but now the Federal Communications Commission was legally able to enforce the practice.

Things changed on December 14, 2017 when the FCC’s Republican majority approved Ajit Pai’s plan to end Net Neutrality. This means service providers will be able to control which content, websites, and applications are up to speed. They will be able to slow down connection to certain websites or even block content that has opposing views. They can use this to eliminate competition, and they can charge websites or consumers more money to have equal access and streaming. It might become difficult for smaller businesses and websites to get off the ground, because they will not be able to compete and pay the cost of giving their websites as much exposure as larger, more well-established businesses. Eventually this could lead to “bundling,” where the internet will be grouped into smaller packages, as is done for television channels. Consumers might have to pay for individual packages, such as social media, or streaming services.

Most likely, changes such as these, will not be seen in the immediate future. And because of the public outcry, these changes may never take effect at all. Some are calling upon Congress to use a “Resolution of Disapproval” to overturn the FCC’s vote. There could also be many lawsuits to force the vote to be overturned. But as for now, the future state of internet access remains uncertain.


[Picture Credit:]

Interviewing Fall and Winter Athletes

by Isabella Foncesa ’21 and Babette Gilles ’21

Interviewees: Kelly Brown (K) and Kate Bachus (K.B.)

Interview with Kelly Brown:

What sport did you play in the fall?

K: I was on the swim team

What winter sport are you doing now?

K: Ski Team. Whoo!

How have you benefitted from doing swim and dive in the fall?

K: I benefitted from it because since it started at the beginning of school, I made a lot of friends, which helped me start the school year, and I experienced a lot of team bonding. It included a lot of healthy competitiveness, but I also had a lot of fun.
What made you decide to continue your athletic experience at Lauralton Hall by joining the ski team this winter?

K: Because I had so much fun on the swim team, I wanted to continue being on a team and supporting my school.
Did you do any of these sports before starting school at Lauralton Hall?
K: Yes, I have been swimming competitively for seven years, and I have been skiing since I was five or six years old.

Do you recommend doing any sports at Lauralton to incoming freshman girls who haven’t previously played them competitively?

K: Yes, because I think the coaches are so wonderful that they can help you become the athlete you want to become. You can make a lot of friends and it’s just really great.
Are you planning on doing a spring sport at Lauralton Hall and why?
K: I don’t know if I am going to do a spring sport, but I will figure it out as the year goes on. I kind of want to focus more on my school work, but I will continue with swimming again next year.

How have you managed both a school sport and schoolwork? Which do you take more seriously?
K: I manage it because I try to do my schoolwork whenever I am free. Especially during swimming, you want to get done before practice because it starts a little late. I take both equally serious because your grades are important, but not missing a practice is also key to being part of a sports team for your school.

Interview with Kate Bachus:

What sport did you play in the fall?

K.B: I did Cross Country.

What winter sport are you doing now?

K.B: Indoor Track.

How have you benefited from doing Cross Country in the fall?

K.B: It helped me with the transition to a new school. It also helped me get involved in the school as well as other students.
What made you decide to continue your athletic experience at Lauralton Hall by joining Indoor Track this winter?

K.B: The team and coaches were really nice.

Did you do any of these sports before starting school at Lauralton Hall?

K.B: No.

Do you recommend doing any sports at Lauralton to incoming freshman girls who haven’t previously played them competitively?
K.B: Yes, I do! Even if you don’t have experience or background in the sport, it’s a great way to make new friends and meet new people. It also challenges you to be more active and it helps keep you focused on academics (which is always a benefit).

Are you planning on doing a spring sport at Lauralton Hall and why?

K.B: Yes, I’m planning to play tennis as I have experience in the sport and I’ve had a positive experience in the athletics at Lauralton Hall.
How have you managed both a school sport and schoolwork? Which do you take more seriously?

K.B: Although I’ve both perfectly fine, I do take school work more seriously. However I do personally think it depends on the person.

Sports include lots of team-building events, and you never know what friends you’ll make in the process. You don’t have to have already played the sport competitively, and it’s never too late to start.

[Picture credits:]

Are Movies Going Out of Fashion?

By: Olivia Cholewczynski ’19

2018 started off with a bang for the entertainment industry with the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 7th. The Golden Globes presented lots of twists this year compared to last year, when La La Land swept the floor and won almost all of the awards. The winners were more evenly spread out this year with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and Lady Bird winning best films, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Handmaid’s Tale winning best TV series. Additionally, everyone wore black to show their support of the TimesUp movement against sexual assault and harassment. However, Variety magazine published an article in September claiming that last summer had the worst box office sales in over a decade ( So, why are movie sales dropping suddenly? Were there just not enough noteworthy movies produced, or are people losing interest in the theaters?

Isabel Spooner and Claire McCrory from the Class of 2019 and Dr. Cavar and Ms. Boynton, teachers at Lauralton Hall, were interviewed on this topic, and a survey was conducted (only about an eighth of the school responded, so results are not extremely accurate). The results show that by far the most popular way to access movies and entertainment is by streaming them on websites like Netflix. Although they have to pay a monthly fee, people find that streaming websites are more economical than going to movie theaters. When asked about the dip in ticket sales this year, Dr. Cavar responded, “Today, people have more options and they don’t have to go to the movie theater and spend a lot of money. You can find the movie someplace else on a streaming website for a reasonable price.” However, going to the movies offers some people a unique and special experience. It makes an occasion out of seeing a movie, and it is often an excuse to get together with friends and family. Both Dr. Cavar and Ms. Boynton said that some movies deserve to be seen on the big screen with surround-sound, something you just can’t get in your living room.

Another speculated cause of the box office decrease in sales is that the movies that came out this year simply were not good, like Isabel Spooner and Ms. Boynton commented. Too many remakes, explained Ms. Boynton, while Isabel blamed it on poor writing and lack of substance. Remakes and sequels are big money-makers in the movie industry, especially when they follow a very successful movie. However, is there a point where too many remakes and sequels just get boring and tedious? Perhaps the public is just aching for an original story to fall in love with.

Events like the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards stir up excitement for the recently released movies. They reaffirm the glamour of Hollywood (amidst the scandal) and make legends of actors and directors. Also, they recommend the best movies of the season for those wayward moviegoers who get lost in the previews. According to the survey results, people were more likely to watch the movies nominated for Golden Globe awards. So maybe the reason that people are not seeing movies as soon as they premiere is because they need a trusted source like the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards to tell them which movies are the best. Keep in mind, though, that not all good movies are nominated, and not all nominated movies are good. Art is subjective! Hopefully, with award season in full swing, Hollywood will see an increase in movie sales as people rush to watch the nominated movies for the Oscars before the awards air in March. 

Picture Credit:

Common New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

By: Olivia Dunn ’19

Over the course of a few weeks, multiple juniors were asked what they had set as their New Year’s Resolution and recorded below are some of the most common responses. 

1. Be more outgoing – Many people said they wanted to be more open and outgoing. This can be scary when people our age are constantly focusing on what others think of them, but surrounding oneself in a safe environment, such as Lauralton, makes it much easier to achieve this goal. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time can lead to great friendships, and it can help you to discover new passions and interests.

2. Be less judgmental – On the flip side, many also responded that they wished to be more open to others’, interests rather than assuming the worst. Achieving a less judgmental outlooks helps one to respect others’ opinions and perspectives and receive the same respect in return.

3. Exercise more – This one is probably the most common goal every year, both for the fitness benefits and stress relief that exercise brings. The great thing about exercise is that any routine can be tailored to your specific needs and goals; just remember exercise is supposed to be fun and slightly challenging, not exuberantly tiring!

4. Have fun – Most students at Lauralton value working hard is and prioritizing academics. However, when the day is done and all of your priorities are in line, there is no shame in taking time for yourself and doing something that you truly enjoy.

5. Be kind – This goal is very fitting with the currently on-going Lauralton “Great Kindness Challenge.” Evidently, students here often describe their peers as incredibly kind individuals. However, remembering to go that extra mile to help someone out every once in a while is always needed, even in the most noble, Mercy-dominated communities. Kindness is contagious!

As a new year begins and another chapter in students’ lives takes its course, remember that all the New Year truly marks is another revolution around the sun. The pressures of a new year does not mean one has to change who they are, but instead, it is merely a reminder of passing time and the need to be goal-oriented. Here’s to 2018. 

Picture Credit:’s%20resolution/


Activity: Lauralton Riddles

Jessica Sanchez ’18

As you try and decipher these riddles, the hope is that you feel connected to our unique and tight-knit community. The Circle of Mercy is certainly timeless and only a Lauralton Lady will be able to decode these mysteries.

I’m a staple food in a Lauralton Lady’s diet.

I am loved by all, I can start a riot.

I’m round, but I’m not a car-controller.

I go well with milk, but I’m not a bowl of cereal.

I sometimes contain chips, but I’m not a technology-box.


I perch on top of your knowledge-dome, knotted and tousled

You disassemble and recreate me, never improving my appearance.

My body-sprouts spread in every direction.

My bone-house is round but lacks perfection.

If you’re lazy and busy, you choose me,

But if you prefer to look clean I will never be seen.


I conceal your sole-palms, if you dare.

Catching stares from professors, you better beware.

An iconic check mark, I’ve become a landmark.

I do not fit in, though my contrast is stark.

I’m stealthy and subtle, hiding in your feet-covers

Expect a violation, if I am discovered.


My shape is timeless, and my crest is regal.

I am precious, and I am unique.

One of a kind, as some may speak.

Spin me one way–receive good luck.

Spin me the other way, you are wedded.


I am the mother of a sisterhood influencing centuries of women.

I founded your learning-facility, and the center of your mission.

I am no longer with you; I’m living in the promised-land.

My quest is mercy and lending others a helping hand.

My followers voyaged from Saint Patrick’s country to your home-base in 1843.

I am the founder and basis of a Lauralton Lady


I am a potato sack as some may say

Placed over your body every single day

A timeless symbol from years past

A tradition that is meant to last

My body is pleated and my torso is sleek

The hue of my face is blue and deep.


Essential as life-liquid, you are addicted

Winter or summer, I’m never evicted

Conquering slumber, the color of umber

I keep you alert while you calculate numbers 


I am dark and old, many secrets to be told

Six doors to explore, many myths to implore

Sisters living in the walls, apparitions in the halls

Once an old cellar, now full of school dwellers

Answer Key

  1. The cookies
  2. Messy bun
  3. Illegal socks
  4. Class ring
  5. Catherine McAuley
  6. Jumper
  7. Dunkin Donuts coffee
  8. Catacombs

Photo: Courtney Durso