Music Awards OnlinePosted by Mark Messer on 5/21/2020 7:00:00 AM
Mr. O Presents Awards Online
Music is a big way that GSA connects our students with our community.
We expected to spend the better part of May 21 preparing to welcome families, alumni, friends, and neighbors to a campus blooming with spring flowers for our annual Spring Concerts.
Well, we may not be able to put on a show, but that won’t stop us from celebrating the accomplishments of many of our young musicians. Though Music Director Steve Orlofsky usually presents his music awards during the Spring Concerts, this year, he had to do things differently. And he got some help with this video from, you guessed it, Tate Yoder ’15.
So click the link below, sit back, and watch Mr. O as he recounts the incredible performances this school year by the GSA Band, Jazz Band, jazz combos, and Holiday Angels, and then presents his Outstanding Musician awards.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the George Stevens Academy YouTube channel while you’re there.
To watch the video, click this link: https://youtu.be/OOu_kXMW9VE
2020 Honor Parts NamedPosted by Mark Messer on 5/19/2020 7:00:00 AM
Honor Parts, Commencement Plans Announced
George Stevens Academy will honor the Class of 2020 with an online class night on Saturday, June 13, at 7 p.m. and online commencement exercises on Sunday, June 14, at 1 p.m. The school also announced its senior class honor parts.
Class night will celebrate seniors with student speeches, musical performances, the announcement of scholarships, the presentation of department and all-school awards, and a senior slideshow. These will be video recorded for broadcast online.
Though commencement will not take place on the school’s front lawn as it usually does, it also will include several prerecorded traditional elements to honor the hard work of the senior class: a welcome from Head of School Tim Seeley; remarks from this year’s commencement speaker, Assistant Head of School Libby Rosemeier; speeches from all four of the school’s honor parts; the presentation of the class gift; remarks from each senior advisor; and the announcement of diplomas. Seniors will receive their diplomas individually in advance of the ceremony.
After the presentation of the Class of 2020 and the conclusion of the video, the GSA bell will be rung live once for each graduate. Seeley plans to ask for bells to be rung at churches and other town buildings across the peninsula. The approximate time at which they should do so will be announced in advance once the duration of the commencement video is known.
Seeley also will ask fire departments to sound their sirens and others to honk their car horns or otherwise make noise for a couple minutes at that same time to show that everyone “stands with the Class of 2020 even at this disrupted time,” he said.
“I know that these events, done online,” do not replace our traditional celebrations, Seeley said. “But I also hope that what we do on Class Night and Commencement honors in a meaningful way what our senior class and graduates have achieved at George Stevens Academy in this most unusual year.”
“I hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will gather with our senior class and their families for a celebration together,” the head of school said.
GSA’s Class of 2020 honor parts also were announced recently.
The valedictorian is Syra Jackson Gutow, daughter of Tom and Amy Gutow of Castine.
Syra participated in outdoor and indoor track, the Civil Rights Team Project and programs at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. She was an after-school library assistant. She also studied and coached gymnastics and made blankets for Syrian refugees.
The valedictorian was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and recipient of the Rensselaer Medal and the Williams College Book Award.
Syra will attend Hamilton College to major in women’s and gender studies and plans a career helping the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The salutatorian is Erika Lynn Hipsky, daughter of Susan and David Hipsky of Blue Hill.
Erika participated in volleyball, tennis, band, jazz band, jazz combo and honors jazz combo. She also volunteered at the Tree of Life Food Pantry and TurnStyle Thrift Shop.
The salutatorian was named Outstanding Freshman Musician and was the recipient of the Smith College Book Award.
Erika will attend the University of Maine Honors College and plans to study science around the world.
The first honor essayist is Joseph Jack Ciampa, son of David and Carolyn Ciampa of Brooksville.
Joe was on the sailing team and math team. He also played badminton and ultimate frisbee.
The first honor essayist was the recipient of the Brandeis University Book Award.
Joe will study math at Boston College and plans to teach the subject at the college level.
The second honor essayist is Alexander Patrick Tully, son of Kelly Hawkes and Lincoln Tully of Isle au Haut.
Alex participated on the chess team.
The second honor essayist was the recipient of the College of the Atlantic Book Award and the American History Award.
Alex will study political science, public policy, English and history at Bowdoin College. He plans go to law school, become a presidential speech writer, write for The New Yorker, live in Paris for a while and “ambitiously enjoy life.”
Stay tuned, please, for more information about how to watch our Class Night and Commencement broadcasts, as well as exactly what time to stand with the Class of 2020 by making some noise!
Parade for Senior AthletesPosted by Mark Messer on 5/8/2020 11:00:00 AM
Sports fans are encouraged to park safely along this route to cheer for our senior Eagles!
Parade to honor senior Eagles
The GSA community will honor our senior spring athletes with a vehicle parade on Saturday, May 16, starting at 2 p.m., rain or shine.
With this year’s spring sports season cancelled and no chance to have a banquet to honor our senior athletes after what would have been their final high school sports season, we hope the community will join us in this safe celebration.
Senior spring athletes will ride the parade route in their own family vehicles. They will be escorted by local law enforcement and accompanied by fire trucks. Unlike most parades, no one will go on foot.
The parade will go from the Blue Hill Fairgrounds down Greene’s Hill, along Main Street, up Tenney Hill, right at the rotary onto Beech Hill Road/Hinckley Ridge Road, right onto Route 15/Pleasant Street, right back onto Main Street, up Tenney Hill again, around the rotary, back down Tenney Hill, and left on High Street. The parade will end on Union Street.
Eagles fans, you can best cheer for senior Eagles while still observing physical distancing rules and respecting restrictions on gathering size by parking in a safe place along the route and cheering from your vehicles, an important consideration in the granting of the parade permit by the town.
Let’s get out and safely show our pride and support for our senior spring athletes!
Trio Third in History ContestPosted by Mark Messer on 5/6/2020 9:00:00 AM
The top of the center panel of the group's exhibit on Galileo Galilei.
Galileo Exhibit Third in State Contest
A trio of GSA students won third place in the Senior Group Exhibits category of the Maine Virtual National History Day Contest held on May 2 for their exhibit about barriers broken by Galileo Galilei and those who laid the foundation for his work.
“In all my years with this program,” said history teacher Kate Kennedy ’99, “I have had students place with documentaries, papers, websites, and performances, but never with an exhibit, as it is the most competitive category.”
Khang Ung ’20, Chi Nguyen ’21, and Khang Nguyen ’22 chose their topic while in calculus class. They wondered why so many theorems and laws were published by notable scientists after the 17th century, but not before, even though great minds must have been exploring the natural world and the cosmos for generations before.
Their exhibit, “Galileo Set New Grounds for Modern Physics,” explores the efforts of Galileo and his predecessors to build an understanding of our world and the solar system while facing fierce opposition from the Catholic Church. It also reveals some of the advancements in modern physics that would not have been possible if it were not for Galileo’s work.
“A lot of things we take for granted today, like our understanding of the solar system, maps, etc., wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Galileo,” said Khang Ung, who is a big fan of NASA. Teammate Khang Nguyen “loves Copernicus,” whose work is related to that of his pen-pal Galileo. Chi Nguyen hopes to satisfy her interest in telescopes with a visit to the Museo Gallileo in Florence one day.
“We would like to thank Mrs. Kennedy,” said Khang Ung, “for introducing this competition to us. She has been really supportive.”
Visit https://sites.google.com/maine.edu/nhd-in-me-state-contest/categories for a virtual showcase of all the projects that advanced to the state competition. “Space Race,” by Amelia Griffith ’21, competed in the Senior Individual Exhibits category.
Congratulations to all who competed!
Community Helps Meet Emerging NeedsPosted by Mark Messer on 4/28/2020 1:00:00 PM
Elizabeth Moss with hotspot-capable smartphones ready to distribute.
Community Helps Meet Emerging Needs
“Oh gosh, that's amazing!” a George Stevens Academy junior said when teacher Elizabeth Moss told her the school would soon provide a smartphone to be used as a mobile hotspot.
The junior is one of around twenty GSA students with weak or no internet at home. Since remote schooling began in mid-March, lack of internet connectivity has been a real hindrance for these students. “I haven't been able to be on my computer since [then],” she said. “That will be so helpful. Thank you!”
Though all GSA students are provided laptop computers, those without reliable internet at home received their classwork as paper packets. Teachers worked diligently to ensure those packets provide as much academic benefit as online materials, but these smartphones will enable them to engage with their teachers and peers in a more timely manner and join online discussions starting this week.
The first full week of remote learning, Moss reached out to teachers and parents to find out which students were struggling with online access. When administrators realized that remote schooling would be extended, Moss moved quickly to find ways to provide internet access. The best option was to purchase smartphones to be used as hotspots and to pay for short-term data plans for students. Though the school’s finance committee authorized the unbudgeted expenditure, the hope was that community members would hear about the need and give to ensure these students the best chance for academic success.
The GSA Advancement Office announced the special Internet 2020 fund in an April 14 email to alumni and other members of the larger GSA community updating them about how life had changed at the school since the onset of the pandemic. A social media post also mentioned the fund and other emerging needs at the school. The need was quickly met with more than $4,000 in gifts to the fund and U.S. Cellular’s decision to donate the phones.
“Members of our GSA community,” said Director of Advancement Rada Starkey, “are demonstrating that they’re eager to help during the COVID-19 crisis and have proven to be extremely generous. In less than a week, trustees, staff, alumni, parents, and friends came together to meet the need for the internet initiative and the yearbook initiative.”
The yearbook initiative, announced at the same time, provides copies of “The Mountain Echo” for seniors who cannot afford them. Though all GSA students are missing out on spring activities, seniors have lost their last chance to participate in spring sports, concerts and plays, and to attend the prom. For them, it is more important than for any other graduating class to have a memento of their final year as Eagles. Though most seniors purchase their own yearbooks, donations from community members to this second special fund have enabled the school to buy yearbooks for seniors for whom $50 is just too much to pay.
The greatest emerging need, however, was the first identified. Students from 46 GSA families regularly depend on the school’s Food For Thought Fund to help pay for their school lunches. Food Services Director Kristyn LaPlante realized that every student who depends on that support comes from a family that needs help now more than ever, so she initiated a team effort to provide food care packages to those families, as well as others experiencing food insecurity for the first time.
Since March 25, more than a dozen members of the GSA staff have helped assess the need for, order, pick up, prepare, and pack approximately two tons of food that has been distributed to these families. School baker Toni Staples, a GSA graduate with a daughter in the senior class, “has been making homemade treats for families,” LaPlante said.
A loaf of Staples’ banana bread went into each box distributed April 22. Also included: tuna, eggs, milk, bread, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans, cereal, crackers, soup, sugar, flour, toilet paper, rice, pasta, celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, apples and oranges. These large care packages go out to about 25 families every two weeks.
This is a labor of love LaPlante and everyone involved. Toni “loves baking for our families,” LaPlante said. “Chef Lu donated masks for us to wear while packing and distributing boxes. Right now, we are grateful to do this work. This work is a gift.”
And it is a gift buoyed by the support of many. According to Starkey, more than $11,000 has been given to the Food For Thought Fund to support this current effort to feed families, and an additional gift of $10,000 was made to the FFT Fund endowment to support GSA’s efforts to address food insecurity in the long-term.
The endowment, established by Blue Hill resident Dottie Hayes in 2017, has nearly doubled since her initial $100,000 gift thanks to the generosity of many, but the local need for support in the short term is expected to grow, especially if GSA continues distributing food to families after the end of the school year in June, a move being considered by the administration.
“We continue to accept gifts to purchase, package and distribute food for food-insecure students and their families,” Starkey said. Gifts can be made online at georgestevensacademy.org/onlinegift or by mail: George Stevens Academy, Advancement Office, 23 Union Street, Blue Hill, ME 04614.
“And to everyone who has stepped forward during these challenging times,” said Starkey, “we thank you.”
Quarter 3 Honor Roll 19-20Posted by Mark Messer on 4/27/2020 12:00:00 PM
2019-2020 Quarter 3 Honor Roll
Click here for a PDF of the quarter 3 honor roll for the 2019-2020 school year.
High Honors: 90-100 in all subjects (called "highest" in the list)
Honors: 80-100 in all subjects
Honor rolls are announced after the end of each quarter. To be eligible for honor roll, a student must carry five credits or more. Honor rolls are published quarterly in the local newspapers.
Yoder Doc to Honor Mr. OPosted by Mark Messer on 3/26/2020 12:00:00 PM
Image from themroproject.com
Tate Yoder Crowdsourcing Stories
Tate Yoder '15 is producing a documentary about Steve Orlofsky, the single biggest force in building GSA's reputation for music excellence, and he needs help from the thousands of students, parents, staff, and community members who have been impacted by Mr. O's passion for music education.
Visit https://themroproject.com to learn more about the documentary, to submit your story, and to read stories already shared by Molly (Gross) Varnum ’95, Matty Harris ‘97, Kate Durost ‘03, and more.
Check out Tate’s video introducing his crowdsourcing effort at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWHS88lrYBU.
Tate, we look forward to seeing the documentary and all the love that our community has for Mr. O. Thanks for doing this!
And if you know someone else with stories to tell, share this story with them!
Student Lands Prize PerchPosted by Mark Messer on 2/28/2020 7:00:00 AM
Perch Wins Derby
Layla Pickering '23 landed a 2.65 pound white perch in the recent G&M Family Market Hancock County Ice Fishing Derby. Though not a state record fish, it was big enough to win her the derby in that category.
Click here to read John Holyokes article in The Bangor Daily News.
Students Present Recycling ResolutionPosted by Mark Messer on 2/28/2020 6:00:00 AM
Seniors Lead Effort
Wanda Gould '20 and Cassidy Carlson '20 recently led efforts to present a recycling resolution to the Blue Hill Board of Selectmen. They were inspired by a presentation in Megan Flenniken's Maine Environment course in the fall.
Click here to read all about it in Eli Forman's article in The Weekly Packet. Way to go, Wanda and Cassidy!
Jazz Heading to StatesPosted by Mark Messer on 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
Every GSA Ensemble Advances
All three jazz combos and the jazz band at George Stevens Academy will move on to state competition after performing in the District 6 High School Instrumental Jazz Festival at GSA on Feb. 26.
The GSA Jazz Band, composed of Erika Hipsky on alto sax and flute, Margaret Nevin on alto sax, Jenna Blodgett on tenor sax, Ian Bowden on tenor sax, Will Kaiser on tenor sax, Ian Howell on baritone sax, Gabe Hall on trumpet, Dawsen Astbury on trumpet, Will MacArthur on trumpet, Kelly McKay on trumpet, Duncan Howell on trombone, Chloe Sheahan on trombone, Nora Spratt on trombone, Joseph Mitchell on guitar, Morgan Davis on vibes, Juliette Claybaugh on piano, Quinn Stabler on bass and Zeke Sacaridiz on drums, earned a gold rating.
Soloist certificate awards were presented to these jazz band members: Astbury, Davis, Hall, Hipsky, Duncan Howell, Ian Howell, Mitchell and Sacaridiz.
The GSA combo Melodious Thunk, composed of Hipsky on alto sax and flute, Hall on trumpet, Ian Howell on bari sax, Duncan Howell on trombone, Mitchell on guitar, Stabler on bass guitar and Sacaridiz on drums and vocals, also earned gold. Soloist awards went to Hall, Hipsky, Duncan Howell, Ian Howell, Mitchell, Sacaridiz and Stabler.
The GSA combo River of Jazz, composed of MacArthur on trumpet, McKay on trumpet, Nevin on alto sax, Blodgett on tenor sax and vocals, Hunter Sargent on guitar, Davis on piano, Emily Whiting on bass guitar and West Hope on drums, earned a bronze rating. Soloist awards went to MacArthur, McKay, Blodgett, Sargent, Davis and Hope.
GSA's Big D’s Septet, composed of Astbury on trumpet, Jillian Eldridge on alto sax, Will Kaiser on tenor sax, Amara Birdsall on vocals, Grace Broughton on piano, Andy Hipsky on bass guitar and Tony Esposito on drums, also earned a bronze rating. Soloist awards went to Astbury, Eldridge, Birdsall, Broughton, Hipsky and Esposito.
Ensembles from Brewer, Bucksport, Ellsworth, MDI and Shead also competed at the district festival. Combos advancing to state competition from those schools were MDI’s Finger Lickers, Milkmen and The Gallery; Bucksport’s Spread Too Thin and Kitchen Sink; Brewer 1 and Brewer 2; Ellsworth’s Rhythm Wall and Viable Frequency; and Shead.
Jazz bands from Brewer, Ellsworth and MDI also advanced.
The Maine Music Educators Association State High School Instrumental Jazz Festival, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14, will take place at South Portland High School. Admission costs $3 for students and seniors, $5 for other adults, $15 for families.