By Zara Jacob ’21
The class of 2021 eased into their sophomore year with a trip to New York City, exploring exhibits in the Museum of Natural History and and seeing the Tony Award-winning “Best Musical,” Dear Evan Hansen.
With not a single textbook or laptop in hand, the grade split up onto four buses and headed on a 90-minute ride to the city. After reaching the museum, they were divided by advisories, perusing the various exhibits at the museum. Unlike previous years, when a scavenger hunt was assigned, the students had the freedom to pick which exhibits they wanted to visit with their advisories. Many of the students appreciated this change; Meghan Durkin (IV) explained, “I enjoyed the museum more than I anticipated because I got to see exhibits that I thought were interesting, as opposed to a plan created by our advisors.” From fossils to dioramas filled with cavemen, the first segment of the trip maintained a good balance of fun and education.
After eating lunch in the museum, the students made their way back to the buses and headed to the theater. Despite a slight accidental detour, all 150 sophomores eventually made it to the correct theater, where they watched the 2 o’clock showing of Dear Evan Hansen. As the students crowded up the stairs, many stopped for snacks, waiting anxiously for the musical to begin.
Dear Evan Hansen tackles themes of bullying, loneliness, and suicide — daunting topics that many teenagers face today. Sanjana Biswas (IV) said, “The musical was relevant to the modern times we live in, and the portrayal of social media and its platform was very accurate.”
The musical begins with showing two teenage boys who struggle with depression and anxiety. Evan, the protagonist of the musical, desperately seeks to step out of the shadows and be noticed. We see Evan’s yearning for true care and appreciation through the passionate performance of his song, “Waving Through a Window.” His mother, juggling school and work, struggles to be there for Evan, and his therapist suggests he write letters to himself to help his self-confidence (hence the name Dear Evan Hansen). The other teenage boy, Connor Murphy, is briefly introduced to the audience before committing suicide.
Through a series of unfortunate events, one of Evan’s letters to himself, which discusses his troubling thoughts and anxieties, is with Connor on the day he commits suicide, and is misconstrued as Connor’s last words being addressed to Evan. Stuck in an impossible situation, Evan hopes for everything to blow over, but ends up meeting with Connor’s family almost every day and pretends to have known Connor as a best friend. All of Evan’s dreams begin to come true – he lands the girl of his dreams, feels the warmth of a loving, present family, and becomes famous on social media. To know how Evan fares throughout the rest of the musical, you will have to go and see it. From the actors to the captivating music, it is no wonder that Dear Evan Hansen has won so many awards.
After the show, the sophomores headed back to Pingry, their first day of school having come to an end.
By Brynn Weisholtz ’20
On a mighty first day of class trips, the junior class explored the historical sites of Philadelphia and a renowned museum.
Arriving bright and early on an unseasonably hot September morning, the junior class prepared to board coach buses and embark on a trip to Philadelphia. The students gathered in their advisory groups and, upon arriving in the City of Brotherly Love, began a grade-wide scavenger hunt.
Walking around Philadelphia on a search for historical artifacts and buildings, students rekindled friendships from last year while finding everything from jumbo-sized puzzle pieces to the famous Prince Music Theater.
Following the scavenger hunt, the students and faculty made their way to the acclaimed Reading Terminal Market. Celebrating 125 years in existence, the Reading Terminal Market is one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, offering its visitors a wide selection of produce, meats, poultry, seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and much more.
The market is not only a source of locally grown and exotic food choices – it is home to a variety of restaurants and, more importantly, is regarded as a piece of Philadelphian history that draws tourists and locals year round.
As they ate their lunch in the National Historic Landmark Building, which is home to the Reading Terminal Market, the students took some time to relax and rest after their hunt around Philly.
The final stop of the day was to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the students had an opportunity to walk the halls of the quiet museum and take in all the beautiful works, especially noting the serene water lily paintings and antique Chinese artifacts.
After a full day of touring Philadelphia and spending time learning and laughing with classmates, the students and faculty were ready to return to campus. The students’ day in Philadelphia was undoubtedly the perfect outing to kick off junior year at Pingry.
By Miro Bergam (V)
On February 9, students enrolled in American Society and Culture, a junior American History class, and American Perspectives, a spring English elective, spent the day visiting the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The trip was chaperoned by American Perspectives teacher Dr. Anne Dickerson, American Society and Culture teacher Ms. Colleen Kent, and Library Director Mrs. Eileen Hymas.
When the group arrived, they were split into two different tours. Half of the group went on the “Hard Times” tour, where they visited the tenements of the German-Jewish Gumpertz family and Italian-Catholic Baldizzi family. The tour focused on tough economic times for these immigrant families, including stories of how the Gumpertz patriarch abandoned his family during the Panic of 1873 and how the Baldizzis survived an extended period of unemployment during the Great Depression.
The other half of the group attended the “Irish Outsiders” tour, where they studied the Moores, an Irish-Catholic family living in the tenements in the late 19th century. The tour focused on the struggle of celebrating Irish heritage while enduring the prejudice that existed at the time.
“The tour connected really well with the work we are doing in American Perspectives,” said Jeffrey Xiao (V), “where we are currently reading Hungry Hearts by Anzia Yezierska, a short story collection about different immigrants coming to America and living in tenements.”
“Pingry has sent people to the Tenement Museum in the past, but this is Dr. Dickerson’s and my first year chaperoning the trip,” said Ms. Kent, who learned about the museum while visiting with a professional development program she attended last summer. She explained, “I thought it was a great fit for American Society and Culture. Getting to see the conditions of the tenements in real life is much more powerful and is a really good example of experiential education.”
After visiting the museum, the group had lunch at several different local eateries, ranging from a Chinese wonton shop to a small Italian restaurant. “We decided to split up and eat at a few very different places that were all a bit spread out to show off the diversity of the neighborhood that developed around these tenements,” explained Ms. Kent.
At the end of the day, the group reconvened and took the bus back to Pingry. All of the classes that attended the trip discussed the museum experience and how it related to their coursework at their following class meetings. When asked about what she gained from the experience, Lexy Beard (V) said, “It was cool to use the Tenement Museum to connect the modern New York City, a place we all visit very often, with history that we are studying in school.”
By Brooke Pan (III)
On February 1, the students in the Drama program visited the McCarter Theater to see a live performance of the play Stones in His Pocket by Marie Jones. There, students were captivated by the performance of two actors, Garrett Lombard and Aaron Monaghan, who each played more than ten characters throughout the performance. Though different from a standard play in terms of the number of actors, Ms. Stephanie Romankow, the drama teacher, remarked on the importance of how just two actors “were able to portray such a unique story” by “rearranging their physical roles.”
Stones in His Pocket, set in a rural town in Ireland, tells the story of two friends who are hired to play extras for a movie. In the beginning, the friends are enthralled by the idea of being in a movie; however, as the film carries on, the charm and appeal of life on the silver screen starts to disappear. The play is set in motion when a local townsperson commits suicide from the humiliation he underwent when trying to socialize with one of the movie stars of the film. The two friends and the townspeople are devastated by his passing and are conflicted when the film crew are unwilling to let the extras take time off to attend the townsperson’s funeral. After fully understanding his situation, two friends gain a new perspective, allowing them to recognize the reality of how the film crew’s selfish desires to finish the movie left them uncaring for the people of the town. To try and honor the local townsperson, the two friends try to rewrite a script dedicated to his life. When they present the script to the director of the movie, the director ironically suggests the lack of romance would not appeal to the general audience.
After returning to Pingry, classes reflected on their perspectives of the play. When asked about the most important message of the play, Ms. Romankow emphasized “the importance of extras in life,” suggesting that “no one should be overlooked…. Everyone has their own story.” Ms. Romankow thoroughly enjoyed the trip and is looking forward to more drama field trips.
In addition to the teachers, the students also had their own takes on the show. “Watching seasoned actors perform in a show like Stones in His Pockets really allowed us to see how the skills and techniques we learn in drama are implemented at the professional level,” said Megan Pan (VI). Overall, the field trip to the McCarter Theater offered a unique experience for the drama students, one from which they could learn and grow as a community of actors.
By Mariam Trichas ’18
On Tuesday, November 14th, the photography, portfolio, film, and drawing and painting classes visited the Chelsea Galleries in New York City for their annual gallery trip. They went to many different types of galleries, including ones that specialized in photography, painting, and abstract art, inspiring a variety of different reactions amongst the students.
One of the more abstract art galleries the students visited was the Paul Kasmin Gallery, which showcased Lee Krasner’s Umber Paintings. Many students commented that these paintings, which looked like random brush strokes, reminded them of Jackson Pollock’s paintings. They later learned that Lee Krasner was actually Jackson Pollock’s wife.
Another gallery had wooden floors and a variety of suspended sculptures, along with green fuzz-looking material; it looked like a forest of abstract art. Other interesting galleries included one in which there was a gigantic beard suspended in the air, another with a variety of rotating furniture items, and one in which there were photographs of crumpled pieces of paper.
“This was my second time going on the Chelsea trip, and even though we didn’t see as many galleries as last year due to a traffic jam that caused the buses to be delayed, it was still nice to walk around the city and see the variety of artwork,” said Jewell Strickland (VI) of the experience. “My favorite part was probably going to Eataly.” She added that her favorite gallery was the one with suspended sculptures that looked like a forest.
During the gallery trip, students were given the assignment of taking three photos of art that they liked, three they were confused by, and one they would “gift” to a friend.
After visiting different galleries for around two hours, the students then boarded their buses to Eataly NYC Flatiron, which is always one of the students’ favorite parts of the trip. There, they lined up at the variety of cafes and counters for pizza, pasta, and other Italian foods and desserts. At school the next day, the classes continued discussions about the gallery artwork as well as artwork they may have been confused by during their art classes.
Overall, the gallery trip to Chelsea was a success, much enjoyed by those who went.
By Madeline Skapper (IV) and Martha Lewand (IV)
On Wednesday, September 6, the sophomore class embarked on their Form IV trip to New York City to visit the American Museum of Natural History and view the award-winning Broadway musical, Groundhog Day.
Students travelled from Pingry to New York City by bus, where they would begin their day at the museum. Shortly after arriving, advisories competed in a scavenger hunt that took them to different exhibits throughout the museum.
The scavenger hunt had clues and riddles to find objects in different exhibits of the museum. The team or advisory with the most correct answers to the riddles received the highest amount of points, enabling them to place somewhere in the top three–provided that their team name was judged worthy. Once the entire grade gathered back together, the winners received their medals in a short ceremony and everyone headed off to lunch.
After lunch at the museum, the sophomores boarded their buses to see the Broadway play Groundhog Day at the August Wilson Theatre. Students were given tickets and sat with their advisory groups to watch the matinee performance of the show.
Groundhog Day, based on the 1993 movie of the same name, focuses on a weatherman named Phil Connors (Andy Karl), who travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog. His exit from the town goes awry when all of the roads are blocked, and he is trapped in a blizzard. Waking up the next morning, he realizes he has been trapped in a constant loop of the same day. Through this ordeal, Phil gets to know associate TV producer Rita Hanson and learn the stories of the other people in the town. Through Phil’s struggle to finally get the day “right,” he grows as a character and gains a new perspective on life which would not have been possible without his tribulations on Groundhog Day.
After the performance, the students and teachers got back on the buses to return to Pingry. Overall, the sophomores enjoyed their day in New York City, reuniting with friends before the school year officially began.
By Ouarida Benatia ’18 and Calvary Dominique ’18
From August 30 to August 31, the annual Freshman Retreat was held at the Bryn Mawr Mountain Retreat and Conference Center in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
The peer leadership program, a part of the Pingry tradition for the past thirty three years, is designed to to make the middle school to high school transition less daunting for freshmen. Transitioning from middle school into high school is one of the most challenging and exciting times in one’s life. Especially at a school like Pingry, where academic and personal excellence are stressed, there is a pressure to perform perfectly in and out the classroom. Freshmen also need to learn how to manage their newfound free time wisely so that they do not fall victim to procrastination. Without a strong support system, all the pressure can seem overwhelming.
Giancarlo Castillo (VI), a peer leader, remarks that “the most special thing about peer leadership is that the class helps [everyone] grow not only as leaders but also as people.” There are thirty-six peer leaders who are split into eighteen pairs; each pair mentors a group of about eight freshmen. This year’s advisors are Mrs. Ostrowsky, Mr. Ross, and Mr. Murdock, who run the discussions and activities for the class. After the peer leaders bonded during their own retreat in June, the freshman retreat was meant to establish a strong bond between seniors and freshmen.
Upon arrival at Bryn Mawr at the start of the retreat, each peer group made a flag symbolizing their group. The first activity was generally focused on getting the everyone into the habit of working together within their groups. The rest of the day was devoted to team-building activities including making a protective device for an egg drop, building a carriage that could withstand the weight of a person for a carriage race, making a catapult, and going through the “Gauntlet,” a timed obstacle course which could only be completed with the teamwork and contribution of every person in a peer group. After dinner, it was time for the dance. As soon as the DJ played the song “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men, the peer leaders rushed out to surprise the freshmen and began engaging everyone in the dance. The spirit was truly infectious, and a lot of the freshmen began to let go of their reservations and start having fun. The next day of the trip was game day. Anxiety filled the air as the peer groups launched their catapults, dropped their eggs, raced their carriages, and heard the results of the Gauntlet race. Alex Kaplan (III) said he liked “the building part because [everyone] put their heads together and sourced [the] idea for the chariot and made it all together, which was a good time.”
In sharp contrast from that exciting atmosphere, everyone boarded the buses for a relaxing trip back to Pingry. Kayley Taylor (III) says that peer group has definitely helped her transition to the high school and that “it’s better that we have one block where we don’t have to worry about anything and we can just talk to our peer leaders and actually get things done at the same time.” The freshman retreat was a clear success, and the prospective year in peer leadership is sure to be a success as well.
By Darlene Fung (V)
On September 6, rather than visiting the Eastern State Penitentiary as juniors have done in past years, the Class of 2019 explored the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of the American Revolution.
Students spent the two-hour bus ride catching up with peers after summer vacation, and they were ready to explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art when they arrived. Once they were given their tickets, the students were free to roam the museum, exploring rooms that contained a diverse array of art installations. One favorite display was called “Arms and Armor,” a collection of full body armor, swords, and even armor for horses. Advisor and English teacher Mr. Thomas Keating said, “The museum had such a fantastic collection. I saw my favorite artists and got to enjoy time with my students.”
After spending a few hours in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the students enjoyed lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, choosing from a variety of food options in the bustling market, including burgers, Chinese food, Italian food, fresh deli sandwiches, several dessert options, and of course, Philly Cheesesteaks.
After lunch, the students went to the Museum of the American Revolution, which recently opened on April 19 of this year. Groups of around fifteen students were assigned a tour guide and given an interactive worksheet to fill out during the tour. Students were also given the background information of a prominent figure during the American Revolution. As they experienced the tour, students were encouraged to imagine what the revolution would have been like for their specific character.
As students walked through the museum, they watched educational videos, touched various displays, and even smelled a piece of rope that would have been used on a ship bringing goods to the New World. One interesting artifact included a punch bowl from an old tavern, which was excavated at the very site of the museum. With its pieces glued back together, one could see a picture of the Tryphena, an English brigantine ship, painted on it.
Interacting with signs that said “Please touch” and “Please smell” throughout the museum was a unique and engaging experience compared to the “Please do not touch” signs that are in most other museums. Commenting on her experience at the Museum of the American Revolution, Veronica Williams (V) said, “I really liked the interactive Revolutionary War museum. All of the videos made it very entertaining. In general, I thought the trip was a lot of fun and a great way to start the school year.”
By Alyssa Chen (VI)
On September 5, the Class of 2018 boarded three buses to the Pocono Valley Resort in Reeders, Pennsylvania for their Senior Retreat, the annual overnight trip in which the graduating class bonds through fun activities and prepares for college admissions through workshops.
After arriving at noon and dropping off their bags in outdoor cabins, the students were given the remainder of the afternoon to relax, hang out with classmates, and take part in the numerous activities the resort had to offer. These activies included swimming in the pool, kayaking out on the scenic lake, playing sand volleyball, and completing the tree-top ropes obstacle course. Of the ropes obstacle course, Ethan Chung (VI) said, “It was challenging, but still doable and fun.”
Near the end of the afternoon, it started to rain. “We were lucky,” said Ryan Fuentes (VI), “because we had just enough time during the day to do all of the activities we wanted to before it started pouring in the evening.” Even with the downpour outside, the seniors continued to enjoy their afternoon with indoor activities like basketball, table tennis, and board games. Popular board games included Scattergories and Spot It!, while over twenty seniors partook in a friendship bracelet-making session led by Sehyr Khan (VI), who had brought more than enough bracelet-making thread.
After a delicious dinner served in the cafeteria of the resort, the seniors dressed up for a dance with the theme of “High School Stereotypes.” Seniors went as nerds, jocks, goths, and everything in between. After the dance, the students unwinded by making s’mores and snacking on pizza before heading back to the cabins and sleeping.
The morning was filled with hot breakfast followed by several college workshops led by Ms. Amy Cooperman, Ms. Meghan Finegan, Ms. Susan Kinney, and Mr. Timothy Lear of the college counseling department. The workshops were focused on various aspects of the college application process the seniors were about to begin, such as essay-writing and discussing the admissions office’s point-of-view.
“The college workshops were pretty helpful,” said Melissa Tungare (VI). “I understood more about what colleges were thinking. Also, the workshops made me feel better, because coming back from summer, I didn’t feel ready. But afterwards, I realized that we’re all in the same boat and that the college counselors are there to help us.”
One memorable activity had seniors act as the Pingry admissions committee, tasked with choosing only one student out of six prospective students to admit, while waitlisting and rejecting the five others. From the exercise, students learned how subjective and difficult admissions decisions can be, and that, unfortunately, schools can only admit a few students from a pool of qualified students.
Other workshops saw students reading and evaluating sample college essays while brainstorming for their own. Another workshop was led by Coordinator of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Dr. Diana Artis, Peer Leaders, and the Student Diversity Leadership Club, in which students read about and discussed issues relating to discrimination in their lives and in the world today.
After the educational college workshops, the seniors ate one last meal at the resort, packed their bags, and boarded the buses back to school. The Class of 2018 arrived at Pingry, relaxed, excited, and ready for the first day of school and their final year of high school. As Fuentes said, “It was a great bonding experience and I thought it was a perfect end to the summer.”