Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And the first term is finally drawing to a close.

The exams are over, the reports are sealed. It has flown and I’m sure you will all agree, we are all looking forward to our well-deserved rest.

Make sure you relax over the break and empathise with those sitting examinations in January with revision to include in the holidays.

Take care and enjoy.

See you all next year!

Drama Festival Review

The long anticipated St Louis Drama Festival finally took place on Wednesday, the 22nd November. Normally, the Drama Festival is held in the lead up to the mid-term break at Hallowe’en but, due to the ongoing renovations and building work, the hall was unable to accommodate the audience until last week.

If you are a senior, the festival probably passed you by but you still can remember the excitement associated with the drama festival in your junior years. The build up and hard work that went on is relatively unseen by the rest of the school but it is certainly felt within the English Department, so it is with a mixture of relief and happiness that it is all over again for another year.

The Drama Festival opened with 8X’s production of, “Anxiety is Orange”, a new play for the drama festival, this play featured a series of short scenes or vignettes, incorporating most of the class, examining how colour can be interpreted and how people should not be judged by their outward appearance.

There were some excellent performances dealing with some very difficult themes ranging from depression to dealing with spoiled princesses. The entire class were on the stage for the whole performance and the level of concentration from everyone showed a level of teamwork and maturity that goes beyond their years. Calum Lyttle, who played several roles on the stage won the Best Supporting Actor title as he stole the show as Tyler and an anxiety-riddled brother, however there were some other stellar performances- Niamh Fitzpatrick as Jealousy played completely against type, she is far too nice to play such a monster, while Rebecca Platt was really moving as a determined young woman struggling to let go of her past. There were some great group performances- too many to mention but the strength of the piece was the supportive nature of the cast and the involvement of so many to create a nicely varied production that explored human nature.

This was followed by Oliver Twist and some of the following actors that deserved a mention and really stood out were, Cameron Gribben as Bill Sykes and Tara Frazer, who played Dodger. The costumes were exceptional and the play was awarded the prize of Best Costumes (Year 9)

The third play to be shown was the Victorian Book Club, written by Mrs Calderwood herself and performed by a supremely confident and mature year 8 class. There were many students who deserved a special mention: Both Mary Shelleys, Maisie Clarke and Bobby-Joe Campbell; Ashley and Lauren who both played Mrs Minns; and, of course the two Charles Dickens actors, Tommy Cunningham and Jack McDonald, who were awarded the joint accolade of Best Actor (Year 8). There was also the unforgettable Dodger, with a pristine Cockney accent, played by Patrick Brady and the villainous Fagin played perfectly by Conor McConville. Both egocentric and narcissistic Percy Shelley’s were also unforgettable and very humourous, Roan McIntosh and Eamon Caldwell. The play was a witty tribute to the bygone superstars of the literary world and was admirably performed by a truly talented cast, the production deserved the title of Best Play for the year 8s.

The next performance was The Nose, by 8Y. Great costumes, a confident opening from the Good Fairy and the Bad Fairy took us through the play with a great speaking voice and similarly confident performance. The wigs were outstanding and the beautiful portraits of Mrs Cunningham and Mrs McMullan were a nice touch but how the poor prince chose from this selection, I will never know. The prince and princess were excellent performers and clearly very comfortable on the stage. The play took the prize for best dramatic moment for the poor prince’s attempts to wake his princess with a kiss. A brave performance in front of three year groups of your peers- well done!

Shrek was the crowd pleaser of the day with the many, many lines delivered confidently and humorously by the cast. Eoin Sloan as Shrek kept his Scottish accent and was well-supported by his Donkey side-kick. The scene with the Bachelorettes was particularly humorously done with the inclusion of Mrs Brown played by Jamie Cunningham. The play collected the prize for the best year 9 play and, judging by the reaction of the crowd was the correct decision.

Ernie’s Illucinations was the next offering and the play was held together really well by Cormac Cunningham’s excellent performance as the main lead- Ernie. We felt he truly deserved the Best Actor award for the year 9s for  a really confident and extremely convincing performance. This performance was a great ensemble piece and the cast won the Best Dramatic Moment for the boxing scene where Aunt May showed everyone what she could do- convincing moment for Connie Gibbons who is a keen amateur boxer anyway.

To sum up then the awards for the 2017 St Louis Drama Festival are:

(Drum roll please…!!!)

Year 8

Best Play- The Victorian Book Club (Mrs Calderwood)

Best Actor- Jointly awarded to Tommy Cunningham and Jack McDonald for the role of Charles Dickens in the Victorian Book Club.

Best Supporting Actor- Calum Lyttle- Tyler in Anxiety is Orange

Best Scene- The Kissing scene from The Nose.

Year 9

Best Play- Shrek (Mr Quigg)

Best Actor- Cormac Cunningham as Ernie in Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations.

Best Supporting Actor- Alesha Clare as Nancy in Oliver Twist.

Best Scene- Auntie May’s Boxing Match in Ernie.

Well done everyone and we look forward to a break next year  because… (you will have to wait and see).

CK

 

Pets As Presents?

Christmas is nearing, and people are rushing about searching the internet for present ideas. What present can I get for my sister? My uncle? My son? It’s a steady pace of ‘What if’s” filling every person’s head. Everyone wants to know what the perfect gift is. Then they think; what if they don’t like it? What if someone else already got it for them? What if I embarrass myself?

In some cases, despite all the reminders, people buy puppies as presents for children. But have these parents forgotten the struggle of keeping their child constantly entertained? Children get bored easily, they’ll play with toys for a couple days and then want different ones. They don’t understand the concept of being grateful, of accepting a present at Christmas that they don’t like, without causing havoc by crying. They don’t quite comprehend the effort people put in to get the perfect presents for their family members.

The majority of the population love puppies, kittens and rabbits. Anything small, fluffy and cute seems to appeal to people. I just feel that in the rush of dread that some people feel when it comes to December, they tend to think impulsively. Most children like puppies and kittens, but some people just don’t realise the effort you have to put in, in order to look after these pets.

Those puppies grow up. If they aren’t trained, they bark and growl and rip up your furniture. Some dogs like to jump up on children, some are protective of their food, some will show their teeth and threaten to bite you. I’m not saying that’s the case with all dogs though. Some are sweet and shy.

I remember one night when I sat down with my family to watch this film about dogs. At the end it was revealed that the mean dog had been a Christmas present for a little boy and the boy didn’t want it, so the dog was thrown out onto the cold streets filled with winter snow. That’s how it turned into the evil nemesis of the film. It was heart-breaking.

I just feel that cruelty is a common thing in the lives of pets, specifically with people who don’t know how to look after their pets. When someone doesn’t know how to look after an animal, they tend to mistreat it. It’s not fair on the animals that have to deal with the pain and suffering of neglect. It’s not fair that they have to deal with the cruelty and mistreatment of an uneducated or careless owner. It’s not fair that families could be so irresponsible to an animal just because the child gets bored.

Adopting a dog is like adopting another family member, but people don’t seem to see it that way. Dogs cost money after they are bought. Dog’s cost you time to train them. They cost you your attention. Pets aren’t just a toy you can buy for your child, but a living-breathing animal that needs just as much affection as a child.

The old adage remains true “a pet is for life not just for Christmas” bear this in mind in your letters to Santa.

Ellie

Music!

Music.
Now that I would love to write,
Something as memorable as a symphony,
The flow of the semi quavers and the lowering and raising of octaves,
The melody coming through in valiant roar of strings,
The Brass providing little insights into the story being told,
The wild percussion telling of the coming storm,
And the orchestra itself,
On stage like a great author,
Each part intertwined to weave a masterful tale,
Yes.
I think I would like to write music.

L.M.M

Stranger Things- Believe The Hype!

Stranger things 2: Is it over hyped?

Recently, Stranger things 2 was dropped and, the heads of fans almost exploded at the sight of the notification telling them they could start watching. Last year when the show premiered people were quite slow to hop on the Stranger Things hype train, including me, but oh… how that changed.

In case that you have a life outside of Netflix and have no idea what the show is about let me give you a brief run down.

In Hawkins Indiana in around 1983, a young boy goes missing after a game of Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. The town fears the worst as they band together to find Will, they think it’s a common missing persons case where the person will never show up again and have fallen victim to some sort of hideous crime. However, this isn’t an ordinary missing persons case, Will is actually transported to a parallel dimension named the “Upside Down” by the children and the only people who can save him are those closest to him.

At the same time an unusual your girl with the strange name, Eleven, escapes from Hawkins lab (naturally this town has a mysterious, government-run lab). She has been experimented on ever since she was a baby as she is incredibly gifted. She can manipulate objects with her mind, in one episode she flipped a car which blew my mind. This backstory was inspired by true events (the experimenting on people that is, not car flipping to be clear). In the 80s MK Ultra was a pretty big thing, it was a covert CIA programme started in the early 1950s, it expanded its remit to research everything from mind control to telepathy, ESP, psychic warfare and “remote viewing” and used children as special agents.

As you can imagine with all the hype and overused Halloween costumes spawning from the show, season one was amazing. However, can the same be said about season two? My answer is I truly don’t know. While watching season one, I was already off the edge of my seat, bawling on the floor, screaming at the TV while covered in popcorn. Conversely, while I watched season 2 (which I had anticipated for over a year) I just well… watched. Some moments were spectacular, yet some were just bland, and honestly, I can’t decide on whether I agree with the statement that it was better than season one.

When I finished the season two, I felt content. I was not clawing at the screen searching for a new episode I was just simply happy. I felt like it was good ending and if the show somehow couldn’t carry on with a new season, I wouldn’t be upset because I am perfectly satisfied with the conclusion. Which, now that bothers me because I shouldn’t be, in my opinion a good TV show should leave me actively involved, rambling continuously to family members about it and eagerly counting down the days until the next episode release.

So, does this mean its over hyped and a let-down? No, it was still great, action packed and entertaining. My criticism is, that they should not try to please the fans too much. Almost every character received a happy ending (except for Bob, justice for Bob he did not deserve that, and while we are at it justice for Barb too #RIP) and while that made me happy for them because I am way too emotionally involved in every single character, I don’t want another season that will likely dismantle all that joy.

To conclude my point because as I always tend to do with TV shows, movies and books, I am rambling. Stranger Things two wasn’t over hyped, it can’t be overhyped because it genuinely is amazing. The acting was outstanding from all cast members, the cinematography was beautiful, and the storyline was incredibly well done. It was just too safe. It felt like at some points a naïve fan girl/boy was writing a happy and fluffy fan fiction about the show, when in reality, things don’t always go so smoothly, for example not every character can be partnered up with a love interest. With this all being said I am ready for season three, I am ready to be heart broken (again), bring it on Duffer brothers.

Anastacia

Ode to Dogs

Dogs. They’re the best. If you tell me otherwise I’d have to disagree.

They’re the most loyal and loving cute companions to have; it makes my day brighten when my dogs try to cheer me up after a dreadful day, by running around the house or giddily barking and growling at me to play with them. Petting dogs makes you more relaxed, making them fundamentally THE best distraction when you’re stressed, I know during my summer exams my dogs were my go-to when I wanted to scream over all the work that had to be done and the stress was piling up.

They’re called “man’s best friend” for a reason you know, acting as guide dogs for the blind and emotional support friends for the nervous. Whenever I see a smiling Samoyed or a cheerful Corgi my heart melts and I instantly think “we don’t deserve dogs”. My own dogs bring so much joy to my life that when I see other doggos, whether on my screen or in person, I like think of the joy they’re bringing to their owners life. If you look after your dog, your dog will look after you – I would say that’s a fair trade!

If you’re reading this article and you have your very own pup, please go and pet your ball of fluff, call them a good boy and give their belly a good rub.

Daniel

 

Concern critically concerned about youth’s involvement in the developing world.

On Thursday the 16th of November four students from St. Louis and St. Pauls will come together for a Concern debate on whether or not ‘Young people today are indifferent to the problems of the developing world’. On our own team there is myself, Claire, Aine and our esteemed captain, Matthew. Right now we are running around like headless chickens rushing to get speeches perfected, delivery practiced and coordinating what our main argument is. We are supposed to oppose the motion therefore we need to make a case for the argument that young people are not indifferent to world issues.

I know every debate team thinks this, but I truly do believe we have the better argument however the other team may prove me wrong. The true beauty of the situation is that the other team basically must roast themselves to win. They have to have proof that young people are lazy and couldn’t care less about the developing world. When all they have to do is look at themselves: they are young people a part of a debate team, taking part in concern debates and Concern is a humanitarian organisation. They themselves are involved in promoting conversation about the developing world, I mean the first motion this year was heavily focused on the developing world.

Even in our schools there  examples of young people getting involved all the time. All schools in Northern Ireland are now registered on the Eco-Schools Programme and within our own school St. Louis many students in all year groups are actively involved. Eco-Schools is an international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education that aims to empower students to be the change our sustainable world needs.

Furthermore St. Louis organizes a jersey day every year with proceeds going to GOAL which aids those in developing countries this year raising over £800. Some young people even get their hands dirty and travel straight to the developing world, past pupils Fiona Cunningham, Niamh McDonald, current Year 14 Emma Cousins and Elizabeth Trail, travelled to India and Romania with Habitat for Humanity and took park in building safe homes and healthy toilets. Not only does this show that young people are aware in the developing world, but they are also involved.

So now we wait until the debate, I am excited as now this will be my second debate this year and I love the thrill you get out of it. All my team can do now is practise our speeches and wait until the clock hits eight.