Documentary Film Series at BHS

Last night, the BHS Film Club hosted its first event, a viewing of the documentary Finding the Gold Within, and it was a success. The film, which follows the lives of six African American men as they spend their first year out of high school, highlights the importance of myth, storytelling, creative expression, and emotional openness in finding personal and academic success. Each of the six men spotlighted in the film took part in the mentoring group Alchemy, Inc., which works to help urban youth find their purpose, recognize their value, and contribute to their community through leadership. BHS students watched the film, with an intermission for pizza, and engaged in a follow-up discussion to share their thoughts on the movie’s meaning.


Film Club advisors chose Finding the Gold Within to honor Black History Month, as well as to provide students with an opportunity to think and talk about topics regarding race and identity. Another driving force behind the choice of this film was its connections to the BHS curriculum. Echoing the work of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell regarding universal experiences and the concept of personal transformation, the film makes the concepts of the Hero’s Journey, the monomyth, very relevant to the lives of every individual, not just the heroes in literature. The  leaders of Alchemy, Inc. work with young men to help them look inside themselves and find their own value, their gold within, to guide them on this journey. The process requires a great deal of reflection as well as sharing, and it emphasizes the power  everyone has to create his own path, no matter what circumstances and adversity he faces.

This showing was the first in the film club’s new Documentary Film Series, a program  designed to provide an opportunity for students to learn about varied topics, cultures, and contemporary issues through film and discussion. The talk-back session after this viewing allowed students to share their thoughts on the messages of the film. Students commented on how the film’s exploration of racism in America focused on the power of the individual to overcome it, and defy the stereotypes that continue to limit men of color. Other student comments focused on how the story, although centered on a very specific group of young men, could apply to all. They found the film’s messages about not letting your surroundings define you, and becoming the hero of your own story to be inspiring.


The next showing in the Documentary Film Series will be held in March to recognize Women’s History Month. We will be showing Girl Rising, a film which “journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams” (Girl Rising). We hope to see you there.

If you are interested in joining the film club or learning more about the Documentary Film Series, please see Ms. Roberts (room 315) or Mrs. Janovitz (room 320).

Four BHS Students Earn Award For Newspaper Article about Mosque Vandalism

Great news from the Devil’s Advocate, our school newspaper. Gina Anastasiades, Olivia Celeste, Meenal Khandaker, and Katrina Mastracci have received a New England Scholastic Press Association journalism award in their “Special Contest on Localizing” for their article “Community gathers after local mosque vandalized.” The NESPA is a Boston-based organization that seeks to highlight excellence in student journalism. Congratulations to our four winners! Also to Ms. Graham, our Journalism teacher and the head of the Devil’s Advocate, for her hard work!

To read the award-winning article, see the image below.

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Two literary giants -Harper Lee and Umberto Eco – have passed away

Sad news in the literary world today as both Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Italian author Umberto Eco, author of In the Name of the Rose, among other novels, have both passed away.

Harper Lee’s renown in the United States is nearly unmatched –  a 2013 study found that To Kill a Mockingbird is the most commonly read novel in grades 9 & 10 in American high schools, and if not for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it would be the most commonly read text of any written format as well.

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The American Film Industry named Atticus Finch the greatest cinematic hero of the 20th century, and in a 2015 poll from Out of Print Books, To Kill a Mockingbird was rated the best book of all time. Few authors have had such a great impact on the literary landscape primarily on the strength of a single book – up until the 2015 release of Go Set a Watchman, Mockingbird was Lee’s sole novel.

While far less popular in the United States, Umberto Eco is one of the greatest European authors of the 20th century. His novels Foucault’s Pendulum and In the Name of the Rose are novels that combine medieval history with a contemporary academic, and action-driven setting; think “Da Vinci Code” but far more literary… Attached below is Eco’s famous short essay, “How to React to Familiar Faces” in which he meditates on the blurred line between reality and fiction that has been accelerated by our increasing interaction with actors and characters whom we only know from the two-dimensional screen.

How to react to familiar faces – Umberto Eco

A few months ago, as I was strolling in New York, I saw, at a distance, a man I knew very well heading in my direction. The trouble was that I couldn’t remember his name or where I had met him. This is one of those sensations you encounter especially when in a foreign city, you run into someone you met back home, or vice versa. A face out of context creates confusion. Still, that face was so familiar that, I felt, I should certainly stop, greet him, converse; perhaps he would immediately respond, ”My dear Umberto, how are you?” or “Were you able to do that thing you were telling me about?” And I would be at a total loss. It was too late to flee. He was still looking at the opposite side of the street, but now he was beginning to turn his eyes towards me. I might as well make the first move; I would wave and then, from his voice, his first remarks, I would try to guess his identity. We were now only a few feet from each other, I was just about to break into a broad, radiant smile, when suddenly I recognized him. It was Anthony Quinn. Naturally, I had never met him in my life, nor he me. In a thousandth of a second I was able to check myself, and I walked past him, my eyes staring into space.

Afterwards, reflecting on this incident, I realized how totally normal it was. Once before in a restaurant, I had glimpsed Charlton Heston and had felt an impulse to say hello. These faces inhabit our memory; watching the screen, we spend so many hours with them that they are as familiar to us as our relatives, even more so. You can be a student of mass communication, debate the effects of reality, or the confusion between the real and the imagined, and expound the way some people fall permanently into this confusion: but still you are not immune to the syndrome. And there is worse. I have received confidences from people who, appearing fairly frequently on TV, have been subjected to the mass media over a certain period of time. I am not talking about Johnny Carson or Oprah Winfrey, but public figures, experts who have participated in panel discussion often enough to become recognizable. All of them complain of the same disagreeable experience. Now as a rule, when we see someone we don’t know personally, we don’t stare into his or her face at length, we don’t point out the person to the friend at our side, we don’t speak of this person in a loud voice when he or she can overhear. Such behavior would be rude, even – if carried to far-aggressive. But the same people who would never point to a costumer at a counter and remark to a friend that the man is wearing smart tie behave quite differently with famous faces. My guinea pigs insist that at a newsstand, in the tobacconist’s as they are boarding a train or entering a restaurant toilet, they encounter others who, among themselves, say aloud, “Look there’s X”. Are you sure?” Of course I am sure, It’s X, I tell you, “And they continue their conversation amiably, while X hears them and they don’t care if he hears them: it’s as if he didn’t exist. Such people are confused by the fact that a protagonist of the mass media’s imaginary world should abruptly enter real life, but at the same time they behave in the presence of the real person as if he still belonged to the world of images, as if he were on a screen, or in a weekly picture magazine. As if they were speaking in his absence. I might as well have grabbed Anthony Quinn by the lapel, dragged him to a phone booth and called a friend to say, ”Talk about coincidence! I’ve run into Anthony Quinn. And you know something? He seems real! (After which I would throw Quinn aside and go on about my business). The mass media first convinced us that the imaginary was real, and now they are convincing us that the real is imaginary; and the more reality the TV screen shows us, the more cinematic our everyday world becomes.

Congratulations, Poetry Out Loud Teacher’s Choice Winners

The list of the 2016 Teacher’s Choice Award winners for Poetry Out Loud is now complete. With this award, each English teacher selects a performance in the semifinals that stood out for whatever reason – because of the strength of the performance, because of the challenge that the student overcame, because of the improvements that the student made over previous years, etc. Recipients receive a $10 gift card to True North, and are recognized in our English hallway with a write-up from the teacher.

This year’s winners are:

From Mrs. Bernard – Billy Robinson
From Ms. Bularzik – Nick Campagna
From Mrs. Crossman – Claudia Webb
From Ms. Graham – Ada Wiggins
From Mr. Hill – Julianna Grossman
From Mrs. Janovitz – Jamie Thierrien
From Mr. Lally – Dan McCarthy
From Ms. Lee – Dakota Scalzi
From Mrs. MacKay – Jessica Sarver
From Mrs. McKee – Mathew Mitchell
From Ms. Netishen – Carli Boodakian
From Ms. Roberts – Muskan Kaw
From Mrs. Rose – Cally Allain
From Ms. Smetana – Oriane Hoeman

Congratulations to our 2016 Teacher’s Choice Award Winners!

Cool Recording of Ozymandias

For our Poetry Out Loud finals, poet laureate Angel Vargas recited Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. He selected this poem after seeing it recited in Breaking Bad, a television show about a high school teacher who spreads his love of knowledge to his eager students (the English Department is not sure if this description is entirely accurate).

At any rate, here is a video of Bryan Cranston reciting Shelley’s excellent sonnet, Ozymandias:

Congratulations Angel Vargas, 2016 BHS Poet Laureate!

Congratulations to Angel Vargas, who became our 2016 Poetry Out Loud Champion with his compelling recitations of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Spanglish by Tato Laviera. Angel will now represent Burlington in the statewide semifinals in Framingham on Sunday, March 6. He will compete against 15-19 other students, 6 of whom will move on to the state finals, which will take place in Boston on March 13.

This year’s competition was incredibly close, and we also wish to congratulate all of our finalists for their excellent work.

For an updated list of our BHS Poetry Out Loud Hall of Fame, CLICK HERE

And stay tuned for the announcement of the full list of Teacher’s Choice Award recipients.

Poetry Out Loud 2016 – It is on!

The 2016 Poetry Out Loud Finals are scheduled for tomorrow, and if you’d like to watch from your home, or from your job even, the finals will be broadcast live on BCAT.

CLICK HERE to go to the website – between 10:00 and 11:15 Tuesday, February 9th.

In case of a snow cancellation tomorrow, the finals will be rescheduled for Thursday, February 11th, and will run during long block 6 (from 10:00 to 11:15)

Should we have a snow delay tomorrow, the finals will go on as scheduled, from 10:00 to 11:15.

Good luck to our finalists!

2016 Poetry Out Loud Semifinals Results

We are pleased to announce the winners and the top performers from each period of yesterday’s Poetry Out Loud semifinals. The performances were excellent, and we look forward to the finals, which will be held during the long block on February 9th in the auditorium. Also, keep your eyes out for the Teacher’s Choice Awards, where the members of the English Department select a student for recognition from the semifinals – the awards will be posted in the English hallway over the next few days.

Congratulations to all of the semifinalists who delivered their poems so well yesterday! We are incredibly impressed, as ever.

Now, on to the results!


Angel Vargas
by Tato Laviera

2nd Place (3-way Tie!!)
Nina Nguyen
Rutvi Shah
& Kristina Wolinski

3rd Place
Gati Aher
Cartoon Physics, Part 1

Michael Saliba
They Are Hostile Nations
by Margaret Atwood

2nd Place
Havanah Becker
Movement Song

3rd Place
Caroline Akerley



Sarah Iodice
by Carl Dennis

2nd Place
Tiffany Wu
It Isn’t Me

3rd Place (tie)
Dan McCarthy
& Ananya Gurjar

Shannon Carey
Monet Refuses the Operation
by Lisel Mueller

2nd Place
Ada Wiggins

3rd Place
Steven Gelberg
Monet Refuses the Operation

Laura Frustaci
The Faithful
by Jane Cooper

Lorraine Kanyike

3rd Place
Mia Campbell
Wife’s Disaster Manual

Sarah Iler
The Blue Booby
by James Tate

2nd Place (Tie)
Julianna Grossman
& Christian Weisse

3rd Place
Cat Bowler
Quite Frankly


Gabrielle Goulette
The Redeemer
by Sigfried Sassoon

2nd Place
Ivy Saltsman
The Death of Allegory

3rd Place
Ben Horgan
We’re Human Beings

2016 POL Semifinalists – GOOD LUCK!!

Congratulations to the 110 Poetry Out Loud semifinalists who are preparing to storm the stage tomorrow and impress us with their courage and their poetry. Good luck tomorrow!

Period 1 (16 students)

Angel Vargas — “Spanglish” by Tato Laviera
Kosta Stamides- “The Art Room” by Shara McCallum
Ryan Morey — “Always Something More Beautiful” by Stephen Dunn
Joshua Becker – “The End of the World” by Dana Gioia
Luong Nguyen “A Poison Tree” by William Blake
Arianna Pishev “I am Learning to Abandon the World” by Linda Pastan
Kristina Wolinski “Adam’s Curse” by William Butler Yeats
Rutvi Shah – “Cartoon Physics Part 1” by Nick Flynn
Lauren Salazar- “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou
Mark Lukwago-”After a Rainstorm” by Robert Wrigley
Sarah Hoac — “Dear Reader” by Rita Mae Reese
Fiona Maxwell “I am Learning to Abandon the World” by Linda Pastan
Gati Aher “Cartoon Physics, part 1” Nick Flynn
Katrina Radice “Work Without Hope” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Nina Nguyen — “Thoughtless Cruelty” by Charles Lamb
Demetrius Sylvert– “After a Rainstorm” by Robert Wrigley

Period 2 (10 students)   

Zoe DeSantis – Choices by Tess Gallagher
Madison Hoyt “All this and More” by Mary Karr
Mufaro Mutuswa – Snowflake by William Baer
Mathew Mitchell – “Blind Curse” by Simon J. Ortiz
Lauren Carlson- “The Lamb” by Linda Gregg
Zyann Sharkah “Ways of Talking” by Ha Jin
Michael Saliba – “They Are Hostile Nations” by Margaret Atwood
Caroline Akerley – “Personal” by Tony Hoagland
Havanah Becker – “Movement Song” by Audre Lorde
Quentin Inglis “The Blue Booby” by James Tate

Period 3 (16 students)  

James Hoffman “The Salutation” by Thomas Traherne
Ananya Gurjar “I am Learning to Abandon the World” by Linda Pastan
Sarah Iodice “Candles” by Carl Dennis
Alexandria Floyd “There’s Been a Death in the Opposite House” by Emily Dickinson
Laura Schissler “Solitude” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Dhruvesh Rana “In a Dark Time” by Theodore Roethke
Hannah Lee “Self Portrait” by Robert Creeley
Nicole Woods “Floating Island” by Dorothy Wordsworth
Dakota Scalzi “The Brook” by Edward Thomas
Dan McCarthy “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendall Holmes
Nick Campagna “Solitude” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox*
Victoria Cruz – “The Cities Inside Us” by Alberto Ríos
Alyssa Healey “Self-Portrait” by Chase Twichell
Delaney O’Toole “My Brother, The Artist, at Seven” by Philip Levine
Maddie Walker – “The Rain” by Robert Creeley
Tiffany Wu — “It Isn’t Me” by James Lasdun

Period 4 (12 students)

Sammy Scioli– “September 1918” by Amy Lowell
Laura Harder “The Salutation” by Thomas Traherne
Steven Gelberg — “Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller
Jake Hanafin “The Second Coming”
Patrick Creedon – The Rain by Robert Creeley
Shinji Coram — “Zoom!” by Simon Armitage
Neil Bhammar – Beautiful Wreckage by W. D. Ehrhart
Matt DiRico “The Donkey” – G.K. Chesterton
Ada Wiggins – Onions by William Matthews
Stephanie Brincklow – Envy by Mary Lamb
Shannon Carey – Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller
Dakota Ikier– “Catch a Little Rhyme” by Eve Merriam

Period 5 (16 students) 

Emily LoRusso “Corn Maze” by David Barber
Dan Xue – Beautiful Wreckage by W. D. Ehrhart
Sophie Mitchell –  ”Learning to Swim” By Bob Hicok
Hannah Currie “Pity the Beautiful” by Dana Gioia
Simran Jakhu- “It Isn’t Me” by James Lasdun
Mia Campbell – Wife’s Disaster Manual by Deborah Paredez
Rima Patel – “A Thousand Martyrs” by Aphra Behn
Kevin Shields “Epitaph on the Lady Mary Villiers” by Thomas Carew
Lorraine Kanyike – “Kin” by Maya Angelou 
Laura Frustaci – “The Faithful” by Jane Cooper
Jamie Theirrien – “Coy Mistress” by Annie Finch
Billy Robinson — “Advice to a Prophet” by Richard Wilbur
Malika Rodriguez “Layabout” by John Brehm
Crystal Curran – “American Smooth” by Rita Dove
Cally Allain “Quite Frankly” by Mark Halliday
Natalie Haddad “Envy” by Mary Lamb

Period 6 (18 students)

Sarah Iler – “The Blue Booby” by James Tate 
Becca Rigoli “Every Single Day” by John Straley
Muskan Kaw  “The Albatross” by Kate Bass
Hannah Miksenas – “The Larger” by Joanie Mackowski 
Isabella Alessi- “Waving Goodbye” by Gerald Stern
Jessica Sarver “Testimonial” by Rita Dove
Allison Murphy “April Midnight” by Arthur Symons
Kobe Russell – Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson
William Robinson “Advice to a Prophet” by Richard Wilbur
Julianna Grossman “Quite Frankly” by Mark Holladay
Christian Weisse – I Felt a Funeral in my Brain by Emily Dickinson
Noel Goulette “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
Claudia Webb “Personal” by Tony Hoagland
Madison Metzdorf – “The Gift” by Li-Young Lee
Cat Bowler “Quite Frankly” by Mark Halliday
Carli Boodakian — “Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert
Caitlin Shea “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
Ryan Giogas — “Self-Employed” by David Ignatow

Period 7 (22 students)

Sarah Owens “On Quitting” by Edgar Albert Guest
Sameer Khalifa — “Enough” by Suzanne Buffman
Courtney Brown – “Ah! Why, Because the Dazzling Sun” by Emily Bronte
Chloe MacNeil “After the Winter” by Claude McKay
Mikenna Mattson “The Obligation to Be Happy” by Linda Pastan
Jess Abrevaya “April Midnight” by Arthur Symons
Gabrielle Goulette “The Redeemer” by Siegfried Sassoon
Hannah MacNeil — “A Barred Owl” by Richard Wilbur
Sasha Festi “End of Summer” by Stanley Kunitz
Niket Patel – “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen (in print anthology)
Anders Selli “The Last Laugh” Wilfred Owens
Peter Lynch “A Sign From My Father, Who Stressed the Bunt” by David Bottoms
Becca Haded – “The Obligation to be Happy” by Linda Pastan
Dorothy Mulo The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Yaju Tuladhar – “Youth” by James Wright
Ivy Saltsman “The Death of Allegory” by Billy Collins
Oriane Hoeman – “Personal” by Tony Hoagland
Amanda McCombs – “And Soul” by Eavan Boland
Tehniyat Hakim- “The Way it Sometimes Is” by Henry Taylor  
Ben Horgan “We’re Human Beings” by Jill McDonough
Gianni Newman- “Invitation to Love” by Paul Dunbar
Nadia Zaganjori “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” By Adam Zagajewski