Matt Marr, Class of 2018, will be going to Fitchburg State University next year to study Game Design. Matt has been a student at Sizer School since the seventh grade and in an interview with Ms. Craigen, described his seven year journey with Sizer.
Coming from Gardner Public Schools and homeschooling, Matt described himself as not being “very socially inclined” when he started in the middle of his seventh grade year. A friend had recommended Sizer to him and after doing a tour of the school, he was surprised by the smaller classroom settings and individualized attention that teachers were able to give the students. Soon after, he found himself falling in love with Sizer School’s mission and getting involved in multiple different activities at the school including athletics and after school programs.
Matt described his teachers at Sizer as “a good change” and attributed his abilities to overcome personal and emotional obstacles to his teachers and guidance counselors. It was in his two ninth grade years that Matt found his passion for singing and performing, participating in both Chorus and Sizer Theater Arts (SiTA). With his mother being a member of Sizer’s PTSO, he has volunteered for multiple events such as Open Mic Night, House of the Rising Starts, and spaghetti suppers.
In tenth grade he was persuaded by Mr. Prescott, Athletic Director and Cross Country Coach, to join the Cross Country team. Admittedly hesitant at first because of his distaste for exercising, Matt was surprised when he found a true passion for running.
“Mr. Prescott has said before that I’m the heart of the team. The truth is, he’s the one that really made me enthusiastic about running. One person that also made me happy to run and someone who inspired me to keep running is Julie Gambill [Class of 2016]. It has surprised me to notice it, but kids have started to look up to me as their role model too”.
After his first year of Cross Country, Matt also joined the Track and Field team alongside Coach Prescott. His advice to anyone is “Exercise is good for your physical and mental health! It will make you happier. Do it! Run! You’ll get better”. He plans to participate in Cross Country at Fitchburg State University in the Fall.
In addition to athletics, Matt successfully launched a Dungeons and Dragons after school club in the Winter of 2018 after multiple years of trial and error. He learned from his previous mistakes, adapted his approach, and started his senior year with optimism and positivity. With this and help from his peers and 12th grade teacher, Mrs. Sweeney, he created balance with academics and emotional stress; this allowed him to start this club after having tried three times before. Matt is passing the club leader responsibilities over to his peers and their intent is to continue meeting in the 2018-19 school year.
When asked what advice he would give to anyone who is considering coming to Sizer next year, he said, “We’re willing to help no matter where you come from and no matter what you’re background … we are always willing to help. We will be your shoulder to cry on if you need, your backup system if you’re having trouble with someone; but most importantly we are all your friends. And no matter what, we are here for you”.
One of Sizer’s teachers knows his mom, and told her about Sizer. Mom checked it out, and thought it would be good for Alex. He said it’s been fun to meet so many new students, and he also knew a few students from his old school that also chose Sizer this year.
Alex likes advisory especially because he gets to know other students even better. If you’ve met Alex, you KNOW he likes music. We asked him to tell us about music in his life. He has been making music for about two years. “I do mash-ups. I do classic hard style, big room, and electro house.” He says he specializes in big room, specifically electro-progressive type. He first discovered his interest in this hobby when he listened to a Big Room song on Youtube that his father had saved. “I remember the song that hooked me, ‘Ready for Action’ by Alvaro & Joey Dale. It got me interested in mashups and I wanted to make some.” His dad downloaded “Virtual DJ” and Alex started experimenting with it. When he had gotten used to the program and had practiced with it, he got his first 2-deck turntable, which came with Cross DJ software. “It let me do mashups but it didn’t have a lot of plug-ins, which limited me.”
Last year, he got his second turntable, a Numark Mixtrack Pro 3, one of the most professional turntables, as a gift from his grandparents, dad, and uncle. “I also got a laptop, because I needed it to do my mixing right on the turntables. I had the program Serato DJ Intro, but I couldn’t record on it, so I went back to Virtual DJ again.” Alex was excited to talk about the his new music coming up. He is working on his My Sound of Revealed 2016 Mashup pack. He’s got 52 mashups already of songs from 2016; he’s aiming for 60 songs. He’s also working on the first episode of his brand new radio show, called DJ Alexander on Air, or DJAOA for short.
You’ll be able to listen to it on Soundcloud, Mixcloud, or Wavo. If you’ve only got a few minutes, you can listen to minimixes on demodrop. It’s free to listen to DJ Alexander. Alex loves to talk to people about music, if you see him, please say hi!
Ninth-grader Stephanie came to Sizer in seventh grade, from a local middle school. Her old school wasn’t working for her; she felt her individual academic needs were not being addressed. She came to Sizer because she had friends here, and “I also found out another friend was coming here, so I told my mom about it. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but kept an open mind, and insisted that we investigate before making a decision, so we came to an info session.” After that, Mom felt like Sizer was a place Stephanie could really succeed; and after Steph did a shadow day, she agreed.
How does Stephanie feel about her expectations versus the reality of education at Sizer? “It’s actually better than I thought, which surprised me because after the info sessions I had very high expectations. I was most surprised that teachers treated students with more respect than I was used to. For instance, I have difficulty working in brightly lit rooms. I talked to my teachers, and we were able to problem-solve together to come up with solutions that work for me and for the students who didn’t like dimly-lit rooms.” She says that at her last school, if a student got in trouble, instead of being spoken with about the situation and coached on expectations, the student was disciplined (often loudly) without any investigation. She felt injustices were taking place and it made her feel angry, frustrated, and powerless. “This school feels safe to me; I can take academic risks such as answering questions in class that I’m not 100% sure of, and no one will make fun of me. I can ask for help, because I trust the teachers to not make me feel inadequate for wanting or needing help.”
Stephanie is an excellent student, but we wanted to talk to her because we found out that outside of school, she is a competitive figure skater. She’s been doing it for 7 years (she was 7 when she started), and has membership in three different clubs, although when she competes, it is with the Colonial Figure Skating Club. She first started taking lessons at the Wallace Civic Center so that she could skate with her family at her uncle’s pond. The original idea was to just learn enough to get her started with skating at the pond, but Stephanie took to it immediately, and the coaches at the rink encouraged Stephanie to continue lessons.
She started moving up through the levels established by the US Figure Skating Association, and performed in yearly shows. When she was nine, she joined a synchronized skating team for Wallace, and competed with them. She started ice dancing when she was ten at Colonial, and Stephanie joined the team there and started competing. Her first year with them, the team went to Lake Placid for a regional competition and came in third. They received their medals in the Olympic Oval, which is one of her favorite memories. Her name is now included on a wall at the Olympic rink! This year, Stephanie is focusing on free dance, and is searching for a partner. At the moment, she is getting ready for the yearly show, where she will be performing a solo, and a free dance program with her partner/coach.
Why does she love skating so much? Stephanie says she likes that she can accomplish goals, such as landing jumps and passing tests for levels, and it makes her feel powerful, giving her confidence on and off the rink. She generally skates five days a week.
How does Stephanie balance school and skating? First, she says, she makes very good use of her time in class, which leaves her with less homework. What homework she does have, she does immediately after school, because she knows that if she doesn’t, there’ll be no time later. Before she goes to skating, however, she goes downstairs to help her mother with her day-care business. After all that, she heads off to skating, comes home around nine, and heads straight to bed.
Even with this tight schedule, Stephanie seeks out challenges, such as formally studying ASL (American Sign Language), as well as reading about psychology in her “free” time. In school, she was accepted into the Peer Mediation Training this year, has taken the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) World of Difference training, is a peer tutor, and an SST office apprentice.
If you can catch Stephanie between classes and activities, say hi and wish her good luck with her skating!
Congratulations to our amazing, creative, and talented students for a successful showing at the Drama Festival!
This winter, the Sizer Theater Arts club (SiTA) has been working on a performance called Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker. This past week the actors took their production and competed in the the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival. Students and adults all walked away very impressed with the production.The students, directed by Mr. Noah Dawson, worked incredibly hard on the show and were excited to share their work with an audience from across the state.
After performing in the preliminary round and winning a total of 6 awards for stage manager, lighting design and execution, three acting awards, and a student recognition award for most thought provoking line, Sizer Theater Arts proudly moved onto the semi-final round with their show.
The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, Inc. exists for the charitable and educational purpose of promoting and strengthening excellence, access, and education in the theatrical arts for middle and secondary school students and teachers. For more than 80 years, the METG has been a leader in arts education, believing that theater has a unique power to enrich and transform young people’s lives.
In Circle Mirror Transformation, an unlikely collection of strangers sign up for Marty's creative drama class: a recently divorced carpenter, a high school junior, a former actress, and Marty's husband. Throughout, the group plays Marty's imaginative (and sometimes awkward) theatre games. But as their relationships develop over the course of the summer, the seemingly silly games generate some real-life drama.
SiTA will continue to the semi-final round of the Festival on Saturday, March 19th. Learn more at the Massachusetts Theatre Guild website