“Richard III” to debut this weekend

Shakespeare Troupe’s production of “Richard III” will be performed in the new cafeteria on Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.

Written in 1591 by William Shakespeare, the tragedy follows the rise to power, as well as the short lived reign, of Richard III of England

“[Richard III] is considered by many to be Shakespeare’s most famous and entertaining work,” troupe director senior Marina Finelli said. “It is culturally enriching, gut wrenching, and exciting.”

Strong acting by troupe members is reason enough to come out for the show, according to Finelli.

“They interpret the language so well that audiences won’t have to focus to understand the plot,” Finelli said. “They also make the twisted manipulation and raw emotion so realistic that it has me on the edge of my seat every day, even though I’ve watched them perform countless times.”

~Abby Seitz, online editor

How to beat the winter blues

Dreary skies, bitter air, the remembrance of the Christmas past, and nothing to look forward to but Spring Break; after Christmas winter can hit hard sometimes after Christmas. So, this begs the question, how does one beat the winter blues?

Every year, about 15 million people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can cause weight gain, cravings for carbohydrates, and low energy. Plus, our bodies naturally put on weight during the winter, so along with eating excess carbs, we go into bikini season looking like bears.

1. Exercise– there’s no better way to feel good about yourself,  maintain your weight and stay healthy. Also, exercise fills your body with good chemicals and releases all the negatives ones.

2. Sleep as much as you can. When school starts after break, it’s nearly impossible to get over sit hours of sleep, but 7 or 8 hours is recommended. Go to bed at the same time, to maintain your sleeping schedule and you’ll have more energy throughout the day.

3. Eat Healthy! Eating properly has a lot to do with energy level. Unfortunately, bodies naturally crave processed foods, which lack nutrients and leave us in a negative mood. Incorporate complex carbs, like whole wheats, veggies, and fruits, and drinks tons of water.

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

Polka dots, cardigans and sweaters: Oh my!

The weather outside is frightful… so dress properly. It is always difficult to dress comfortably in winter and remain warm at the same time. And some days you just don’t feel like dressing to impress. Fight that urge. I am firm believer in “look good, feel good,” dress well to feel better about yourself later in the day. Here are some new trends to keep in style this season.

1. The classic trench coat is a basic wardrobe component, but this season it’s really making a come-back; it’s a great way to stay warm and look good.

2. Lace dresses are hip and happening: dress one up with a wide belt, tights, flats or heels and you’ve got yourself a trend.

3. Cardigans and button downs are also popular this season- especially, boyfriend cardigans and denim-collared shirts. Match these up with a pendant necklace, another staple in winter style, for something a little extra.

4. Block patterns sweaters are arriving straight from the 80s; match patterned sweaters with a solid scarf for extra warmth this winter.

5. In addition to block patterns, polka dots are a total asset. Wear them on sweaters, shoes, and even pants!

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

Retirement heralds end of era

As December closed and students began to prepare for winter break, principal Roger Sites revealed his own holiday surprise: after 45 years at FHS, as a marketing teacher, assistant principal, and, finally, principal, Sites will retire at the end of this school year.
“I had made definite plans a couple of years ago about when my time would be, but it was kept very close-knit – only two or three people knew,” Sites said. “It went along with the opening of this new building. I think it’s a good time for a transition. I know every crack and wall, and it’s a good time for someone to learn everything about that building as I know this one.”
Sites became principal in 1993 after years of striving for the post. Although he only expected to be in the position for a short time, his relationship with the school has lasted.
“During that time, I had said I’d like to be principal for about five years, and then go on and do something else,” Sites said. “That was 20 years ago. It’s been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done, other than family and my faith.”
As a teacher, Sites was the senior class advisor, and, for many years, planned graduation with math department head Tyrone Baltimore. After overseeing over 40 graduations, including the ceremony that Elizabeth Taylor attended with Senator John Warner, the observance has become the pinnacle school event for Sites.
“Graduation is an experience that you can’t really define,” Sites said. “I will miss thanking the kids for what they’ve done, thanking the parents, thanking the veterans. The majority of them have been times of joy and happiness with the graduates smiling, screaming, and waving. It’s just a great experience.”
Baltimore and Sites also planned and attended many eventful senior class trips, including an adventure to the 1982 World’s Fair in Tennessee; three buses of students arrived in Knoxville to a hotel that was still being constructed. (The seniors were relocated to Gatlinburg.)
“Those senior class days were very nice,” Baltimore said. “It’s really a pleasure working with him; he’s a great person, role model, and administrator. I was surprised when he made the announcement that he’s going to leave. I couldn’t believe it.”
Stephanie West, who has been Sites’ secretary for 19 years, has also enjoyed working with Sites, and will lament the loss of day-to-day moments with her principal.
“I get him his coffee or water each day,” West said. “I know that doesn’t sound like what a secretary should do, because people don’t do that anymore, but I’m going to miss those daily little small things.”
West, who describes Sites as “genuine, sincere, supportive, and a good listener,” has worked with him through thick and thin; after another job opportunity opened up at the School Board Office, West left FHS for a few months. She returned, gratefully, to a welcoming Sites.
“He’s definitely been supportive of me over the years,” West said. “He likes to tell people how I left him – as he likes to say, ‘you came crying back.’ He never lets me forget it. I just told him, but you’re leaving me and you won’t come crying back.”
After retirement, Sites doesn’t plan to squirrel himself away or sit still; he will be spending more time with his family and at his West Virginia farm, as well as continuing to be active within the FHS community. However, he does believe this is the time to step down.
“Every day, I’m just thankful for another day,” Sites said. “[But] when things are really great, that’s when you go out. It’s a good time. I didn’t want to leave with deficiencies or voids. I want to leave a smooth-sailing ship.”
Sites is also grateful for the students, parents, faculty, and staff who have made his years at FHS more than worthwhile.
“It doesn’t get any better than that for a principal,” Sites said. “If there’s a school any better than FHS, I can’t think of it. It’s a joy for me every day. If I weren’t the luckiest person in the world, I wouldn’t have stayed for 45 years.”
~ Sophie Byvik, editor-in-chief

‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’: Bilbo Baggins of bag end and jazz

Bilbo Baggins was going on an adventure. I was coming home.
Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of three movies chronicling J. R. R. Tolkien’s prequel to the Lord of the Rings saga, isn’t a perfect adaptation, (although neither were his LOTR films,). What matters to me isn’t the movie. I want the world-building. I want to be in Middle Earth. And as the film opened to the lilting notes of Howard Shore’s ‘The Shire,’ I shed a little tear, because here was home.
Jackson opens An Unexpected Journey in much the same way as Fellowship of the Ring; nearing his eleventy-seventh birthday, an older Bilbo (Ian Holm) places finishing touches on the narrative that will become The Hobbit. We learn of the Lonely Mountain, where a large, fierce dragon called Smaug guards inconceivable wealth that once belonged to the greedy dwarf king, Thror. Then the film launches into its main narrative; the quiet, well-appointed life of a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is thrown into whirlwind when Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellan) arrives to persuade him to join Thror’s grandson, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and 12 other dwarves on a quest to retrieve the golden hoard and to oust Smaug.
While at first understandably reluctant to travel so far from the comfort of the Shire, Bilbo joins the band as they fight trolls, wargs, and sentient mountains, all while evading Azog the Defiler, the Pale Orc, and his nasty compatriots, who gives An Unexpected Journey a suitable antagonist.
I’ve said that An Unexpected Journey isn’t a perfect film. The CGI has that odd glowing quality, as if it’s trying to make itself look more real, when in fact it looks like it’s right out of a bad tourism advertisement. There is the drawn-out conflict between of the tough-as-nails Thorin and the unhappy camper, Bilbo Baggins, (do not worry, they learn to tolerate each other through mutual life-saving, and even become bros). And there is a bizarre, questionably romantic moment of cheek-stroking between Gandalf and Galadriel (Cate Blanchette) while the company rests at Rivendell, which will surely lead to a smattering of bad fanfiction. Eurgh.
What is easily the most wonderful aspect of the film, is, surprisingly, the music. Many viewers don’t know (not having read the books; please do) that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring are filled will poetry, song, and dance. Inhabitants of Middle Earth sing about everything, and there is no lack of chants and odes about drinking, and, er, eating. The film is replete with the happy lightness of flutes, dwarf chants sung low low low, and the heartbeat-matching tha-thump of drums. Music is the most seamless aspect of the world Jackson constructed.
The famous riddle scene between Bilbo and Gollum (Andy Serkis) passes without much fanfare. Gollum is oddly charming, and, dare I say it, cute, in his babbling determination to win the riddle-banter and eat Bilbo. The audience was chortling gently at Gollum’s antics, but I couldn’t laugh. Behind the jokes, behind the darling oddity that is Gollum, is Smeagol, a being that was a Hobbit at some point. This cute riddle scene, is so gut-wrenching because the Smeagol in Gollum so desperately wants to play a game. All he wants is a riddle or two. He needs to feel at home again.
Martin Freeman, is Bilbo Baggins. He’s got a sort of Hobbity look about him, compounded by the odd aura he gives off, a mixture between a love for good food and drink, Dolores Umbridge’s need for order, and Queen Victoria’s utter lack of amusement. Freeman adopts that slightly stilted, extremely specific speech and movement some personalities acquire under the duress of change, and it’s perfect and charming and wonderfully amusing.
Go see it, if you love Tolkien. It’s isn’t a great movie, and probably not one that will even get recognition for effects or cinematography. Peter Jackson will have trouble stretching The Hobbit into a trilogy; there can’t be enough information in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings appendices to fill a third three-hour movie. (Just film The Silmarillion instead.) But Jackson’s vision of Tolkien’s world remains thoroughly enjoyable, for me, at least, and I know I’ll be taking my youngest brother to see it. I’ve been there, and I will go back again.
~Sophie Byvik, editor-in-chief

“Django Unchained”: Daring, ground-breaking film jangles raw nerves

I typically enjoy action thrillers, but I have limits when a movie is filled with excessive bad language and enough blood to keep Red Cross in business for years. Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, Django Unchained, defiantly crosses these limits and shamelessly blows them away.

The film is no softer in plot. Django (Jamie Foxx) is a timid slave who is acquired by force and treated surprisingly fairly at the hands of bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Together, the two form an effective alliance that escalates into a quest for vengeance and the rescue of Django’s wife from the Candie plantation in Mississippi.
Enter Calvin Candie. Played by charmer Leonardo DiCaprio, Candie is deceptively slick and easily one of cinema’s most despicable villains since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. The only cast member who compares is Samuel L. Jackson (looking far older and more menacing than in The Avengers), whose performance as a sharpened house slave sends chills.
Also notably impressive in their roles are Waltz and Foxx, the two members of the story’s unstoppable bounty hunting team. Waltz, possessing his role with a domineering sense of determination, takes Foxx right up under his wing. Later in the film Django undergoes a proud transformation from a timid slave into a fearless slayer of his oppressors.
A plethora of other well-known actors compliment the screen, including Jonah Hill in one of the film’s more lighthearted sequences. In fact, that is one of Tarantino’s trademarks: a star-studded cast who are unapologetic in their use of foul language.
Though I may sound annoyed with Tarantino’s excessive language and over-the-top violence, I acknowledge that he is very good at presenting a raw examination of something very real. Tarantino’s depiction of slavery is very harsh, but as a result, satisfyingly realistic. However, the elements he chooses to employ are widely unnecessary. Roots was a moving drama that provided social commentary on slavery, as does Django. The difference is that Roots employed a sophisticated script, with a vocabulary not limited to the F or N word for every other word, as well as passable content that gets its point across.
As much as I would like to love this movie for its distinctly entertaining plot, its drawbacks are far too noticeable. I had high expectations, and it’s a shame that they weren’t met. I can’t give this multi-Golden Globe nominated Tarantino treat more than three stars.
~Ryan Perry staff reporter