‘All Shook Up!’ — An Insider’s Review

By Christopher Matthews ’20

In June of 2019, Ms. Wolanin announced to the LCDS Theater Company that the winter musical would be “All Shook Up!” We were excited to perform whatever she could throw at us, but nobody had heard of this musical before. Little did we know, “All Shook Up!” would change all of our lives for the better.

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As auditions approached, our excitement was through the roof. We learned a grueling dance routine (which later became the dance break of “Jailhouse Rock!”) and had to memorize multiple songs, all in a few short days. The days before the cast list’s release are always some of the most stressful times in the company, and this show was no different. Tensions ran high until the 22 cast members accepted their roles with glee.

From the beginning, everyone in the company knew that “All Shook Up!” would be one of the biggest productions that the Steinman Theatre had ever seen, but after a few rehearsals, we truly realized the massive scale of the production.

Typically our shows take place on one set, but “All Shook Up!” requires many distinct locations that could not possibly be condensed into a single set. We needed to figure out how to use every single inch of space backstage to store different pieces of furniture while more than 20 actors scrambled to make their entrances on time.

The further we got in the process, the bigger the show seemed to become, but with a fighting spirit (and a lack of snow days), we charged into tech week.

It took us almost two full days to set up the lights, sound, and scene changes for the show, a process that normally takes only a few hours. While this was happening, the crew organized the backstage and the actors feverishly reviewed their lines and the musical numbers.

“All Shook Up!” features more than 25 different iconic Elvis songs, all of which have challenging harmonies and difficult high notes. Our vocal director, Mr. Woodbridge, masterfully taught the ensemble all of the music in less than two months while also teaching the principal characters their solos during office hours.

As opening night approached, our nerves were through the roof, following the same path our excitement had taken before auditions.

Because we didn’t have school on Friday, traditionally one of our busiest nights, many more students and faculty decided to come to the Thursday night production. The house was packed.

After our pre-show warmups, Ms. Wolanin delivered a heartwarming pep talk that reminded us to stay grounded and to have fun. The seniors looked to opening night with a bittersweet excitement. “All Shook Up!” was the swan song for many of the 17 seniors, so every single one of us wanted to give it 100 percent.

Opening night could not have gone better because of the tremendous amount of energy from the cast and audience. Thursday’s show led us into an extremely successful weekend of theater in which we sold out two of our four shows. As we struck the set on Sunday after everything was over, the exhaustion had begun to set in, but we could not have been more thrilled with the work we put in. We put on a grueling production, but we gained a whole new appreciation for one of the most iconic performers of all time in the process.

MUN 2020: Furthering and Strengthening Democracy

By Jonah Rebert ’20

At the end of January, the Model United Nations class attended the 56th annual THIMUN conference. The Hague International Model United Nations enjoys a special status as a simulation accredited by the U.N. as a non-governmental organization.

Students prepared throughout the year for this event, which hosts over 3,000 students from around the world, all striving to further and strengthen democracy.

This year’s class proudly represented Romania, a country many students knew very little about before enrolling in MUN. However, as we completed every new research assignment and mock debate, each delegate felt increasingly prepared to defend Romania’s positions and interests in an international forum.

Thus began our trip.

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We landed in Amsterdam and headed south to the capital of international diplomacy: The Hague. But before getting down to diplomacy business, we took in the sites, most notably the Mauritshuis. This art museum houses Johannes Vermeer’s “The Girl with the Pearl Earring,” among other famous works.

Heading back to Amsterdam for a deeper exploration of Dutch culture, we visited the Anne Frank House as well as the Rjiksmuseum (the national museum of The Netherlands) and Van Gogh Museum. While these were each impressive in their own ways, the favorite landmark for many was an Amsterdam house church, known as “Our Lord in the Attic.”

During the 17th century, Holland restricted religious freedom, forcing Catholics to practice their faith within their homes. Believers began to organize over time and constructed “house churches,” with all the traditional features of a Catholic church in a much smaller, clandestine space. In addition to being an architectural triumph, “Our Lord in the Attic” is a testimony to the power of religion and the will of the faithful.

After a day trip to Brussels, we headed back to The Hague for the start of the conference. That first day, students felt their anticipation, built up from every policy paper and news quiz taken in preparation for the trip, transform into excitement. Topics ranged from the funding of terrorism to Facebook cybersecurity, depending on committee.

While each student had to have a command of a different topic, the class was united behind Romanian policy and status. For example, the former Eastern Bloc country has struggled to develop its infrastructure due to a lack of funds and technological backwardness, a fact that affected many students’ actions and strategies during the conference as they lobbied other delegations and debated resolutions.

An accident of birth led to truly special experience for the class. We visited the International Court of Justice, which adjudicates matters of international law, and spoke with a a sitting judge on the court, Patrick Lipton Robinson. Judge Robinson is the great-uncle of MUN student Maya Robinson ’20, and this connection gave us a deeper understanding of the United Nations and an unforgettable experience.

Despite the seriousness of the whole affair, we managed to share many lighthearted moments with classmates and students from all over the world. From Hasan Maqbool ’20 dancing with his new Saudi Arabian friends, to Matt Armitage’s ’20 daily battle with his necktie each morning, the conference was as entertaining as it was enlightening.

The trip served, and I think we will all remember it this way, as a global educational experience that broadened our understanding of the world in which we live, as well as providing a unique opportunity to deepen friendships and connections among classmates — by travelling 3,000 miles from home.

Building an Excellence Machine

The sixth grade FLL team isn’t hard to spot, even without the traffic-cone hats. They’ve got the skills, machines, and trophies that mark them as part of Country Day’s fledgling — and thriving — Robotics program.

Assistant Head of School Todd Trout took the stage to congratulate the sixth grade FLL (First LEGO League) squad for their second place finish at the Pennsylvania State Championships last month. The result earned the team a berth in the Razorback Invitational May 16-18 in Fayetteville, Ark., where they will compete against 80 other teams from around the world.

 

Building an Excellence Machine
Girls Make Basketball History
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“Within a short time we’ve established a tradition of excellence, and that’s something to truly be proud of,” Trout said, and the assembled Middle Schoolers roared their approval.

The Upper Schoolers compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), a competition in which teams build and program a robot to complete specific tasks on a common course. Every team starts with the same parts and has to write the robot’s code in the same programming language, but other than that, each group designs a unique robot they hope will be the most capable on the course.

This year, the Upper School FTC team has earned a first place Programming Award, a first place Outreach Award, two third place Champions Awards, as well as a spot in the Pennsylvania State Championships in March.

Stay tuned for excellence updates.