For Scales, on-stage joy outweighs rehearsal pain

The Shield: So seeing all the angst, hard work and lost sleep that led up to it, was 42nd Street worth all of it?

Owen: Whenever we were onstage, I literally couldn’t remember all the blisters and pains of the rehearsal process, which I think is so funny. So in the moment, yeah, it definitely was. But on paper, it may look completely irrational because I feel this show has had the most stressful process out of all MacTheatre. Yet in those seconds on stage–it’s a whole different story.

Scales said the joy of performing “42nd Street” made the hard work leading up to It well worth it.Gregory James

TS: Honestly, Owen you looked like you were having the time of your life on stage. So your answer seems right. What made this process more stressful than the other shows before it?

OS: Through the rehearsal process, I was told a lot, “Owen, you need to do this,” or “Owen, you need to do that, or else the show will suffer.” So having that weight on me really added to my fears and anxiety over the show. And I’m sure those people didn’t mean to add that kind of stress on me. I’m sure I was guilty of it, too, but 42nd Street is such an overwhelming show, and we all had high hopes for it, so we all got really caught up in the materialistic aspect of the production and almost forgot the joy of putting a show together.

Whenever we were onstage, I literally couldn’t remember all the blisters and pains of the rehearsal process.”

— Junior Owen Scales

TS: It’s weird to hear you say that because … isn’t that what the show is all about?

OS: The materialistic aspect? Oh of course the show is extremely flashy, but I think the most important part for me is the story and what motivates the characters and what makes their world so flashy. Did I answer your question?

TS: Sort of. You said that you thought you all got so caught up in the material parts of the show that you forgot the joy of doing it. Seems to me that’s what 42nd Street is about. You think Helena’s character is going to lose her love of theatre or have her director rehearse it out of her and instead she reminds the director what is most important and he changes. It seems like you all were living what happens in the play.

OS: Oh YES YES! A few of us were talking about that today. We just realized we really pushed through. And I honestly, I’ve been training and performing for forever, and I’m not gonna let one little experience stop me or ruin my dreams. There are so many stories to be told and so many worlds to conquer.

TS: Wow. So has this been your best MacTheatre experience or your worst or both? 🙂

OS: Goodness ABSOLUTELY both! No doubt!

TS: What was your favorite part about it?

Scales and Ava Grace Whipple approach the front of the stage for their opening-night bow.Annabel Winter

OS: I think my favorite part of the whole process were the bows, especially on nights when I was dripping in sweat, and I felt like there was nothing left in me to use. Also because I got to bow with Ava Grace Light-Wipple, and she and I were like two peas in a pod for the whole process.

42nd Street used dance as a way of surviving for the characters–it almost always came from a sense of joy. ”

— Junior Owen Scales

TS: Excellent. Beyond being excellent dancers with commanding stage presence, what else do you and Ava Grace have in common that makes you say that?

OS: Our characters are always together throughout the show, so she was almost always my scene partner, and I’ve known Ava for like five years.

TS: Did you all go to the same middle school?

OS: No we did shows at KidsActing together throughout middle school.

TS: Oh. Stage siblings then. 🙂 I was wondering how you think the 42nd Street experience compared to the West Side Story experience?

OS: BAHAHAHA! Well, I personally don’t believe we, as a high school, should’ve done West Side Story because of the lack of diversity in our academy, even though I love the show and my classmates deeply. But, I, ummm, don’t know really how to compare the two because they are totally different shows, at least to me they are. I think West Side Story used dance as the primary resource to tell the story as authentically as possible, and 42nd Street used dance as a way of surviving for the characters–it almost always came from a sense of joy. But both shows did have a “If not today, then when?” type of theme.

Madison Olsen
Scales with Mia Terminella in “West Side Story.”

TS: Dance as narrative device. Do you think the success of West Side made people more anxious about equaling or surpassing it this year?

OS: Oh I’m positive some our faculty heads were worried about the outcome of this show compared to last year. Every West Side Show was sold out, and it’s scary to match that, and we almost did. … I think😂

TS: I think that argument is sound in terms of buzz and box office. Can you talk a bit about what Ms. Nat brings to the table in terms of choreography and coaching the dancers?

OS: Ms. Nat loves 42nd Street so much, and the choreography is so iconic, so we used most of the original choreography with a dash of Ms. Nat’s flare. And she was kind enough to let me choreograph a number!

TS: Really? Which number? What was that experience like?

OS: I choreographed “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.” It was really cool actually, super fun.

TS: How much did you stick to the original choreography?

OS: I believe every number of the show was the original with minor tweaks except for “Shuffle off to Buffalo.”

Annabel Winter
At Ms. Nat’s invitation, Scales choreographed “Shuffle off to Buffalo.”

TS: If I understand then, you were able to do your own thing with it? How did you go about choreographing it?

OS: Well, you have to stick to some kind of original of spacing and what will be on the stage so the choreo was something that would be recognizable for that number but also something from my own head.

I would tell lil Owen to fall in love with it more–the character, the show, etc., and again to take more things with a grain of salt.”

— Junior Owen Scales

TS: What about it are you most proud of?

OS: I am most proud of the finale with staircase and the lights and the quick changes. I was a little worried on how that would turn out.

TS: It was pretty spectacular. I meant to ask what about your choreography made you most proud?

OS: Oh my bad, I think just watching the number and seeing my friends enjoying their time doing it–at least I hope they’re enjoying it–made me happy.

TS: Wait. You choreographed the number with the folks in pajamas on the train? That was awesome.

OS: Yeah, thank you so much!

Scales made his MacTheatre debut as a freshman in 2016’s ‘Cyrano: The Musical.’ Photo by Dave Winter.

TS: I was thinking about Cyrano this morning just I remembered that was the first Mac musical you were in. How do you think you have grown as a performer since then? What advice would you offer to that you?

OS: Since then, I feel like I understand the pieces I’m working on more: like I know to break them down and follow the character and his story. I also learned how to take more things with a grain of salt. As for advice, I would tell lil Owen to fall in love with it more–the character, the show, etc., and again to take more things with a grain of salt but still crave knowledge and critiques for your superiors while trusting your own gut.

TS: Owen, your answers and your patience have been awesome. Anything else our readers should know about 42nd Street before we close the book on it?

OS: Ummmm … I think I’m all good. Thank you so much!!




For senior Moore-Thoms, staging ’42nd Street’ stressful but ‘so, so worth it’

The Shield: Now that the show has closed, was it all worth it? All the sacrifices, stress, hard work and lower fourth six weeks grades?

Zora Moore-Thoms: It was super hard and stressful especially during a short six weeks. But getting to do a final musical with all my friends was really fun, and rewarding. So yes it was worth it but only once opening night hit and we go to hear the audience cheering and everything!

TS: Is there one moment where you felt, yep this is as good as it gets?

ZMT: The only time I felt like that was opening night when the curtain rose for the first time and everyone cheered!

TS: Other than the short grading period, why was this one so hard?

ZMT: It was such a huge show, with all the things flying in, the stairs, all the costume changes…And the directors were drilling us really hard with constant notes so that added a lot of stress.

Moore and her Assistant Stage Manager, senior Ramona Sever pose on two of the twenty vanities used for the 42nd Street number, “Every Situation Has A Sunny Side”.

The Shield: And a lot of the stress I imagine has to fall on the stage manager, right? How did you handle it?

ZMT: This is my fifth show stage managing at McCallum so I’ve had a lot of practice. A lot of the time it’s just learning not to take it personally when people get mad at you or yell at you. I also vent a lot a lot to my mom especially after long rehearsals just to get the stress off of my chest.

TS: Let’s hear it for moms! Fifth show? Good God. May I ask what the others were?

ZMT: Yes moms are the best! I’ve SM’ed Catch Me if You Can, West Side Story, Moon Over Buffalo, Animal Farm and this show.

TS: Is there anything in particular that makes you the most proud to be stage manager of a musical that so many people have loved?

ZMT: Yes! It’s really awesome when people come see it and I get to hear how much they loved it! And especially after this show I had multiple people come up to me after the show saying how much they loved it and it makes everything feel so so worth it.

TS: What is something important or memorable about the experience that most people don’t know about the show?

After the 42nd Street performance, Moore and junior lighting designer Zoe Griffith pose in front of the MacTheatre photo backdrop. Griffith and Moore are apart of the small group of technicians with specialties that have them work from the booths during the performances. In theatre, the booth is arguably one of the most stressful places to be during a show.

ZMT: There are so many things that are unique to McCallum shows, good show, going to Amy’s Ice Cream the first day of the show, and going to central market after strike on closing night which makes it all come to a nice ending with everyone sitting on the patio eating and talking about how fun (and sometimes super insane) the show was.

TS:  What’s next for you? No. 6?

ZMT: I’m going to Western State in Colorado with a pre-law emphasis, majoring in politics and government and history and minoring in Spanish language!

TS: Before I let you go is there anything you would like to add about the show that I didn’t ask you?

ZMT: Just that I’ve learned so much! And I’m very grateful for the opportunity even with the high highs and low lows.




Most intriguing movies of 2019

When people are asked about their favorite film coming up this year, it’s almost as if you asked them if they wanted a cookie. Their eyes light up, they consider it, and they burst out saying what film they are the most excited about seeing. No one can blame them; there are many movies coming out that people have been waiting for, and soon they’ll finally be able to watch them. Movies like Alita: Battle Angel, Detective Pikachu, Captain Marvel, Infinity War: Endgame, Shazam!, the live-action/animations of Dumbo and Aladdin, Hellboy, and John Wick 3, just to name a few, are coming out by June, with much more later in the year.

I asked 50 random McCallum students what movie they were looking forward to watching this year and why, and overall, people most mentioned these films: Infinity War: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Toy Story 4, Godzilla, King of Monsters, Sonic The Hedgehog, Detective Pikachu, IT Chapter 2, Joker, Child’s Play and Star Wars IX.

Avengers Infinity War: Endgame has gotten a lot of attention, especially at McCallum, being the No. 1 movie people were excited about from the poll. Perhaps this anticipation is due to it being the long-awaited sequel to the original Avengers: Infinity War. The sequel wraps up the questions both its comic lovers and the regular Marvel Cinematic Universe movie fans alike have, and for those who haven’t read the comics or spoiled it for themselves have also shared their theories on what might happen in the upcoming movie. Though in the first movie, the characters within Avengers: Infinity War met a seemingly detrimental fate, their fans don’t think they’ll be gone for long.

“It could be that one of them gets a hold of the time stone or if Antman uses his new quantum-realm technology to bring the characters back,,” said one McCallum student that I talked to. “Whatever it is, I believe that the characters that died do somehow come back, like Spider-Man in Spiderman: Far From Home.

“Of course, there’s many things that could happen, and I personally don’t think anything I could think of would be accurate enough, but it’s fun to speculate on what might happen,” another McCallum student said.

For those who have read the comics, or maybe have spoiled themselves on a bit of the plotline, they cannot wait to see the portrayal how the rest of the movie will turn out, and ready themselves for a cinematic ride this April.

With everyone excited for the endgame, McCallum’s students are also interested in Spider-Man: Far From Home. With the return of Spider-Man on his vacation in Europe comes a series of obstacles when Nick Fury shows up in his hotel room. Parker soon finds himself donning the Spider-Man suit yet again to help Fury stop Mysterio from creating chaos throughout the continent. The confirmation of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man’s return is wonderful and will prove to be a popular pick in the cinemas come this July.

Toy Story 4, coming out in June, is the third most-mentioned movie McCallum students mentioned. The first Toy Story came out in 1995, with characters that are older than students at McCallum. Regardless, many of the students concluded the movies in this franchise as endeared childhood memories, and are excited that a new cast will be introduced, including Ducky and Bunny, two characters that are shown in the Toy Story 4 trailer.

“I remember growing up watching the Toy Story series; I always liked the Army Men and how they basically came and went as they please and met up with Woody when they could, even after they went in separate ways,” one respondent said.

“I can’t wait to see the new cast coming out! Bunny and [Forky the Duck] look so fluffy and funny, and Forky’s gonna be played by Keanu Reeves,” another student said.

McCallum students are ready for the year of many movies, where there’s something for everybody. Whether you want an action film such as John Wick 3, a comedy like The Lego Movie 2: the 2nd part, or a movie to bring nostalgia from childhood movies like The Lion King, 2019 is sure to bring us on a wild adventure of exhilarating, heartbreaking, and laugh-filled films that will fill the year.

Infinity War: Endgame got the most votes for which movie McCallum students were most looking forward to this year. With the upcoming release of Spider-Man: Far From Home as well, 2019 looks to be a big year for superhero movies. Graphic by Grayson Cruise.




Going out youngsters, coming back stars

42nd Street, starring juniors Daryl Hale, Toshaan Arora, and sophomores Magnus Bohls and Helena Laing, is described by director Joshua Denning as “McCallum’s most extravagant show yet.” Denning also told the company that “most high schools do not do this show because of how big and difficult it is to put on.”  Inspired by the book written by Bradford Ropes, 42nd Street includes many classic musical theatre melodies, performed live on stage by McCallum’s company of more than 120 students including cast, crew and orchestra. The show opened Feb. 1 and will close on Sunday Feb. 10 after two weekends of performances. Saturday and Sunday of the first weekend sold out, and the second weekend looks to be following that trend. 

We’re pleased to share some of our favorite opening-night images of the production as a special-bonus #TuesdayTop10 photo gallery on a Wednesday no less.




Austin Symphony performs at Mac

The Austin Symphony Orchestra came to McCallum on Wednesday to play alongside some distinguished members of the McCallum orchestra for McCallum students and faculty. The theme of the concert was “overcoming adversity,” and all of the pieces played were by composers that were, at the time of the piece, had to overcome intense adversity.

“Hearing music from composers who went through tremendous adversity is really interesting,” musical director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra Peter Bay said. “You get to learn more about the person behind the music.”

Kristen Tibbetts
Junior Jack Montesinos plays upright bass with the Austin Symphony Orchestra during their concert at McCallum. Montesinos and some other McCallum orchestra students joined the orchestra for their last song of the day.

The orchestra played pieces by Beethoven, Lili Boulanger, Shostakovich, William Grant Still, Korngold, and then the McCallum orchestra students joined in for a piece by Tchaikovsky. Bay said the orchestra hopes to introduce young people to classical music and perhaps motivate them to come see a Long Center show. He also said the symphony loves to give high school musicians the chance to play with the whole symphony.

“We hope that if there are students in the audience that have never heard a full orchestra before, that they were interested or excited enough about the sound and the music that we played that they may want to come and hear a concert where we play at the Long Center,” Bay said. “That’s the number one goal. And the number two goal is to expose this kind of music to an age group that may not gravitate towards classical music.”

Mac orchestra with Austin Symphony (second show)




Making the (North)cutt

Full of musical numbers, sarcastic skits, odd outfits, and of course, talented teachers, McCallum’s fifth annual Teachers & Tiaras offered something for everyone.

I feel awesome, shameless, proud.”

— 2019 Teachers and Tiaras winner Nikki Northcutt

On Friday evening, in the midst of 42nd Street opening night and a boys varsity basketball game with major playoff implications, the pageant was held in the Fine Arts Building Theatre and featured nine brave Maculty contestants, including Paul Pew, Daniel Vega, Mickey Folger, Oakley Barber, Steven Strong, Nikki Northcutt, Katie Carrasco, Richard Cowles and Lucy Griswold. The field also included a masked mystery teacher.

The evening was co-hosted by Diana Adamson and sophomore Jude Gravois. The nine contestants battled it out with the talent, evening wear and question portions of the night with the winner being determined by votes purchase by audience members. The event, which was not held last year, is a fundraiser for the film program.

In the end, Northcutt took home the first place prize, followed closely behind by Strong in second place and Carrasco in third.

“I’m glad they got a second tiara,” Northcutt joked after the last champion, 2017 winner Georgia Gonalez, was reluctant to part with the first one. “I feel awesome, shameless, proud.”

The show included everything from a horrifying skateboarding story (Folger), to an anti-bullying song number (Strong), to an onstage zumba class (Griswold) and more. It even featured the Unknown Teacher comic (we are almost positive it was Mr. Rogers), a MAC faculty member performing a comedy sketch with a paper bag over his head to conceal his identity. 

Teachers & Tiaras (Elisha Scott)




Classic cookie thin on ingredients but not on taste

Hey y’all! I’m back with another food review! Today, I’m going to be talking about Thin Mints. Yes they’re just Girl Scout cookies, and just because I’m a foodie doesn’t mean that I have to have everything fancy; that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Speaking of food reviews, I’ve got a cookie to review. The cookie was  decadent but still not too rich in mint or chocolate flavor. The best part of the cookie is that it is covered in a delicious coat of chocolate. I don’t really know how to further carry on this review, as the list of ingredients that make up the cookie is very thin.

For taste, I would give these cookies a 10 out of 10. I give the taste of the cookie a nine out of 10. The flavors mixed well; however, I think the texture deserves a slight knock because I feel like the chocolate should have been a bit thicker, to help envelop the crumbs. Eight out of 10 for the texture, so I would say an overall rating of 85 will suffice.

Now I’m going to go back to my kitchen and grab some more cookies. I have some lemonades calling my name.




The show can’t go on without them

They run around unseen, unrecognized, in the darkness. They’re always there, waiting for something to go wrong, waiting for a change. They work tirelessly, rarely stopping, sacrificing everything to finish what they start.

Behind every show at McCallum High School are the technicians. They build the sets, make the costumes, and design the lighting. Working upwards of 18 hours a week and up to 13 hours a day, these dedicated students work not for the fame, not for the pay, not for the thrill of performing, but simply because they enjoy what they do so much. To them, it’s worth their grades, social life, and a stress-free life.

“Tech week is literally just eat, sleep, grind. You don’t have time for anything.”

— Sophomore Dashel Beckett

“You gotta really enjoy doing what you do for doing it,” sophomore Dashel Beckett said. “Not for anyone else, or for the recognition you’re going to get, just doing the tech because you enjoy doing tech.”

And they do.

At 42nd Street tech call, MacTheatre’s musical that premieres on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. and runs through Feb. 10, technicians laugh and talk with each other while working, even if it’s hard, due to the fact that they are lacking lumber and an adult or teacher at rehearsal. Although mainstage shows can be stressful at times for many different reasons, they’re also a lot of fun, according to junior technical theatre major Zoe Griffith.

“You’re with all of your friends and everyone’s just doing their best,” she said. “It’s fun helping showcase [the performers] since we have such talented students at our school.”

During these tech calls, technicians work on projects within their individual strand for their show, which corresponds most of the time with an student’s specialization. At McCallum the five strands are: scenic, props, lighting, sound, and costumes. For this show, Griffith is co-lighting crew head and designer with junior Graham Protzman. 42nd Street will be both of their ninth mainstage shows at McCallum, so they know firsthand how much work goes into a show.

“It’s mentally and physically challenging,” Griffith said. “I don’t think many people know how serious technical theatre is and how much training and work goes into it.”

Caleb Melville
The scenic crew works on various aspects of the set during rehearsal. The show features seven wagons that rotate and roll on and off of the stage to create different scenes and many backdrops. Photo by Caleb Melville.

The build for 42nd Street spans three months, with planning happening as early as the year before. The technical directors and all of the crew heads from different strands of technical theatre have to collaborate with the director in order to make the director’s vision a reality.

Lighting designers like Griffith and Protzman have to draw up lighting plots; select angles, effects, and colors; and hang, focus, and program each individual light. During Starmites, MacTheatre’s fall musical, this had to be done for more than 400 lights.

Collaborating incredibly closely with the director, costumes crew heads have to rent, buy, find or make hundreds of costumes for each show, each of them specific to every single actor. This is especially a challenge for the upcoming show due to the sheer number of costumes for every ensemble member.

Scenic crew heads must create blueprints for the set pieces, choosing dimensions, types of lumber and hardware, and paint colors. During the build, their crew must follow these plans incredibly closely at the risk of having to start over.

Caleb Melville
Sophomore Emma Lindsey, Viv Osterweil and freshman Sophia Lindsey-Boeck work on measuring fabric for costumes. Costumes crew is in charge of not only the costumes for the show but also the wigs. Photo by Caleb Melville.

Props crew must build, find and buy or rent dozens of different kinds of props, from anything to a vintage telephone holder to a ten foot “telepod.” For 42nd street, they are building a multitude of giant dimes that ensemble members will dance on during the number “We’re in the Money,” one of them six feet wide.

During the show, each sound crew member has to pay incredibly detailed attention to how it sounds. They must “mix the show” and trigger sound effects live because timing and the intensity of the actors’ voices varies night to night.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” Protzman said.

All strands of technical theatre involve detailed planning and execution of those plans. It’s incredibly time-consuming, and it takes a toll on the technicians. Both Griffith and Beckett agree that working a show takes time away from other important things, like homework and family, especially as it gets closer to tech week, or the week before opening night of a show.

Caleb Melville
Junior Zoe Griffith looks over the lighting plots for the show in the booth of the MAC. Griffith is co-designing the lighting for 42nd Street with junior Graham Protzmann. This is Griffith’s second show she has designed for, her first being spring straight play 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. Photo by Caleb Melville.

“Tech week is literally just eat, sleep, grind,” Beckett said. “You don’t have time for anything.”

Griffith agrees.

“I often don’t see my family until a show is done, from tech week leading up to the end of a show.”

Rehearsals can extend far into the night, sometimes even lasting 13 hours, starting at 9 a.m. and and ending at 10 p.m., according to Protzman. Because of this time commitment, technicians often learn better organization and time management skills. Despite the long hours and hard work, they find shows incredibly rewarding, especially when the show is put on for an audience and the cumulation of all their hard work is finalized and shown off.

Technicians, however, are needed for more than just plays and musicals. Technical theatre majors also have the option to work “special events,” which include dance shows, choir performances, the fashion show, the Fine Arts Academy showcase and more. These events differ from MacTheatre’s shows because they are a lot faster-paced and less structured.

Without us, there would just be naked people on a stage, like, yelling. That would be it.”

— Sophomore Viv Osterweil

“You have a lot more independence and responsibility on yourself,” Griffith said.

The students make more of the design decisions than they would when working a mainstage show. They also get paid, which is one of the perks of working an “freelance” event. Plus, these students have the opportunity to interact with students and teachers from other fine arts strands at McCallum that they normally wouldn’t interact with on a daily basis.

Working both shows and special events are very different than technical theatre class during the school day, for both majors and non-majors. According to Beckett and sophomore technical theatre major Vivian Osterweil, technical theatre class, especially this year, is taught in hypotheticals, rather than working hands-on like it is done during shows.

“Tech class, it’s basically theory,” Beckett said. 

When Griffith and Protzman were freshmen and sophomores, they focused on training and projects for hypothetical shows in their tech classes. But even though a class is dedicated to teaching technical theatre, most students still learn more actually working a show than they do in class.

“I feel like that’s when you can learn the most,” said Protzman, “because you can learn a lot of situations that would happen.”

The reward of a thing well done is having done it.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beckett agrees, saying “I learned less in my first semester of tech class than I did in my first two weeks of West Side [Story].”

During the first few weeks of a show, students also learn whether they enjoy technical theatre enough to continue with it simply because they enjoy it. It’s time-consuming, and receives little recognition, according to sophomore technical theatre major Vivian Osterweil.

“There’s like that one little hand wave that the director gives at the end.”

“If you’re lucky,” Beckett added. Despite this lack of recognition, Osterweil said that the fun and satisfaction of putting on a show makes it all worth it. Technicians are a crucial part of any performance, whether they’re given the appreciation they deserve or not. But they don’t mind.

After all, Osterweil said, “Without us, there would just be naked people on a stage, like, yelling. That would be it.”




A Paradigm postscript in 400-plus photos

The MAC stage was transformed on Jan. 12 into a runway for the McCallum visual arts department’s annual benefit fashion show.

Featured student designers, models and directors were given the chance to showcase their work for a sold-out audience.

I find the process of being able to take something from vague sketches to tangible, complete outfits really rewarding, and it’s always amazing to look back and realize like, ‘Oh hey, I did that!”

— Benefit fashion show winner Skel Gracie

The show’s theme, Paradigm, was also crucial to the process designers used to create their looks. Each designer pulled inspiration from a paradigm, a selected archetype, and portrayed it in their line.

Before the show began, VIP audience members were gifted with a special goody bag, access to the VIP room with live music and food during intermission, and reserved seats on stage during the performance.

At the end of the show, the winner was announced for the 2019 benefit fashion show, senior Skel Gracie. Gracie was awarded a prize of $500 and the opportunity for her line to be featured and walked in a professional fashion show.

“My archetype was ‘creature of nightmares’” Gracie told The Shield.

“I drew inspiration from my own, personal nightmares, as well as the common themes of pop-horror like American horror story.”

2019 was Gracie’s second year designing in the fashion show.

“My favorite part about making the line was the creativity I was able to have, such as the problem solving aspect of a lot of the garments.” Gracie said. “I find the process of being able to take something from vague sketches to tangible, complete outfits really rewarding, and it’s always amazing to look back and realize like, ‘Oh hey, I did that!”

The student-run show was led by senior directors Chloe Shields, Elijah Stephens and McKenna Carpenter and junior directors Finn Shehan, Brooke Miller and Byron Kinard.

Faculty sponsors Ana O’keefe, Sarah Hathaway, and Margaret Smith took on the considerable task of replacing long time faculty sponsor Mary Ghazi, who retired at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

We are pleased to share our exclusive MacJournalism gallery of more than 400 images of this year’s show and dress rehearsal. Photos by Ian Clennan, Risa Darlington-Horta, Scarlett Houser, Gregory James, Caleb Melville, Bella Russo, Stella Shenkman, Gabby Sherwood and Luca Snowhorn. 




Where HOPE once lived

Given the opportunity (and the assignment) to tell a story in 10 photos, many photojournalism students gravitated to a special location in Austin, motivated to use their camera to tell the story of a place. Perhaps no site better typified this type of photo essay than the Hope Outdoor Gallery, the famed Austin graffiti park which closed its Baylor Street location on Jan. 2, very near the end of the fall semester when photojournalism students had to complete a photo essay for their final exam.

I won’t go 10 miles out to do something I can do here.”

— Jose Hernandez

Third-period photojournalism students Lily Dashner and Jacob Kuhlenbeck both went to Castle Hill in an effort to preserve the popular Austin location in photographs before it was no longer there. The graffiti park will live on in a new location, Carson Creek Ranch, next to the Austin airport. The original location, which has housed the gallery since March 2011, will be the site of new homes built by Mid-City Development.

Many of the artists and visitors are upset with the move because the location on 11th and Baylor streets was near the city center and afforded beautiful views of the Austin location.

“The [move] is inconvenient for many Austinites,” one visitor said.

It’s not the place that matters.”

— Robert Lopez

For one visitor, Blake Jones, it’s going to be different. “I think something was lost here,” Jones said.

Not everyone in Castle Hill is upset the graffiti park is going elsewhere.

Some local businesses see the graffiti park’s closure as if a plague has finally been eradicated. One employee said, “The parking’s a mess around here. I’m glad our parking spots are going to be for customers and not [for] visitors [to the park].”

Despite the official closure and eventual relocation, many artists say they will continue to spray paint the original location. “This is the location,” Jose Hernandez said, ”and I won’t go 10 miles out to do something I can do here.”

Other artists are more resigned and said they will support the new venue as a place to continue the HOPE tradition.

”It’s what I do,” Robert Lopez said. “It’s not the place that matters.”

We are pleased to share Lily and Jacob’s photos and captions as a double-feature #TuesdayTop10 this week.




Arora performs on national stage

Junior Tosh Arora performs “L’Ultima Canzone” by Paolo Tosti at YoungArts Miami. YoungArts is an application based award program for emerging artists. YoungArts winners can receive up to $10,000, educational mentor programs, and future performance opportunities. Arora was one of the only two tenors selected as a YoungArts winner nationwide. As a part of YoungArts week, winners perform in a recital at the New World Center in Miami. “The crowd when I walked on the stage was roaring and it made me so happy” Arora said “everyone is so kind and supportive and it feels so incredibly great.” Arora competes for a second time tomorrow making him eligible for a possible cash prize. 




Cowles’ cooking chops are right on thyme

When co-organizers Rachel Murray and Jeff Seckar-Martinez announced that the Friday morning professional development day on Jan. 4 would consist of faculty members teaching their passions to their peers, there were some expected sessions: Natalie Uehara taught tap dance, Carey West taught pottery-wheel throwing, Scott Pass taught juggling, Audrea Moyers taught circuit building, and Seckar-Martinez taught oil panting.

Cooking is all about experience and experimentation.”

— culinary guru Richard Cowles

But some of the sessions had nothing to do with the primary discipline that the presenter taught at Mac. One such class was entitled, “My Favorite One Pot Meals,” taught by Richard Cowles. Cowles is known around campus for his math prowess and his excellent work mentoring the PALS program. But what many in the Mac community probably do not know is that Cowles is a former employee at Chili’s and, more importantly, that he loves to cook.

Science teacher Elaine Bohls-Graham put into words what many observers discovered during the course of Cowles’ 45-minute class.

“We have a lot of hidden talent in our midst,” she said, “and it is great that there is this opportunity to showcase those talents and passions.”

Before teaching his students, an intrepid group of wannabe Gordon Ramseys comprised of 12 teachers and one administrator, the proper way to dice an onion and a garlic clove (see related video), he offered some sage (not the spice) advice about the culinary arts.

“Cooking is all about experience and experimentation,” said Cowles, adding that his time in the Chili’s kitchen was not nearly as valuable as his time trying out and tinkering with recipes to suit his palate.

“There’s no such thing as too much cilantro,” he told his pupils after he had dispatched them to the stovetops in Room 160 to make one of the five can’t-miss one-pot recipes he brought for them to make.

The outcome of his pupils’ culinary adventures are posted below along with the recipes Cowles gave them to guide their cooking.

You can cook really delicious and flavorful meals in less than an hour and it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, dishes, pots, and pans.”

— aspiring chef Chastity Colbert-Davis

One of his star pupils, math teacher Chastity Colbert-Davis said she took the class because she loves food and likes to cook and would like to be better at it.

“I thought I could learn a few things,” she said. “At first, I didn’t really think we were going to cook. I thought it would be more demonstrations by Mr. Cowles and sharing of our recipes that we cook.  I was surprised that we all got to cook and we cooked different dishes. The class was so well run and organized by Mr. Cowles.”

Colbert-Davis made skillet tamale pie, along with her culinary cohorts, Elizabeth Sanders and Richard Whisennand. Beverly Evans and Jennifer St. Lawrence made skillet lasagna. Joshua Amy and Brandon Grant made Mediterranean style orzo. Katie Carrasco, Shelly Pringle and Georgeann Shockley made Peruvian quinoa and corn chowder. Elaine Bohls-Graham and Larry Featherstone made skillet strata with cheddar and thyme.

The cooking experience was great, but Colbert-Davis said the camaraderie of the class was even better.

“I really liked working with my colleagues and getting to know them better, and eating all the yummy recipes.”

The class decided to eat their lessons before they departed for the second session of the assigned professional development course. After sampling each of the five skillet dishes, class members also tried a candied Meyer lemon peel, which Cowles made beforehand with lemons from a tree in his backyard.

Colbert-Davis said that her dish, skillet tamale pie was her favorite, followed by the Mediterranean orzo and the skilled lasagna. Bohls-Graham had a similiar ballot but was also a fan of the chowder.

“I really liked the Mediterranean Orzo and the Peruvian Corn Chowder,” Bohls-Graham said. “I can see ways that I can tweek these two recipes in a couple of different ways to accommodate different occasions and ingredients. Both make a great base dish with which to start.”

Colbert-Davis added that all the dishes were delicious and that her takeaway was that she and her husband might be able to go for takeout less often in the future.

“It takes me FOREVER to cook at home during the week. My husband and I usually just go out because we don’t feel like spending all that time cooking, and I’m too tired from the day. My takeaway from this class was that you can cook really delicious and flavorful meals in less than an hour and it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, dishes, pots, and pans.”

Mediterranean Style Orzo

½ teaspoon salt
1 pound lean ground lamb, beef, turkey
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 or 2 cans (14.5 oz) tomatoes
1½ to 2 cups hot water or chicken stock
½ teaspoon dry oregano leaves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup (about 8 oz) dry rice-shaped pasta
1 or 2 packages (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more)

Sprinkle salt into a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Crumble meat into pan and cook, stirring often, until meat beings to brown (3 to 5 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium, stir in onion, and continue to cook, stirring, until onion is soft but not brown (about 5 minutes). Spoon off and discard excess fat.

Add garlic, tomatoes (break up with wooden spoon) and their liquid, bouillon cube, water or broth, oregano, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then stir in pasta. Reduce heat, cover, and boil gently, stirring once or twice, until pasta is just tender to bite (10 to 12 minutes; or time according to package directions).

Meanwhile, squeeze as much liquid as possible from spinach. Stir spinach into pasta mixture just until heated through. Serve with cheese to add to taste.

Skillet Tamale Pie

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
Salt and ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 or 2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 (6.5 to 8.5 ounce) package cornbread mix and needed ingredients
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in ground beef, beans, and tomatoes, and bring to simmer, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix cornbread batter according to package instructions.

Stir cheddar and cilantro into filling and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dollop cornbread batter evenly over filling and spread into even layer.

Bake until cornbread is cooked through in center, 10 to 15 minutes.

from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best 30 minute Recipes

Skillet Lasagna

1 pound ground beef, pork, turkey
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper
6 ounces curly-edged lasagna noodles (8 noodles), broken into 2-inch pieces
1 (26 ounce) jar tomato sauce, such as marinara
1 to 2 cups water
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
¼ cup minced fresh basil

Cook meat in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, breaking it into pieces with wooden spoon for 5 minutes. Drain meat and returning to skillet. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Pour tomato sauce and water in skillet and bring to boil. Sprinkle noodles into skillet. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, until noodles are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Off heat, stir in half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot heaping tablespoons of ricotta over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let stand off heat until cheeses melt, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best 30 minute Recipes

Peruvian Quinoa and Corn Chowder

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup aji amarillo paste
3 tablespoons fresh, or 1 tablespoon dried, oregano
Salt and ground black pepper
8 ounces sweet potato, peeled and cut in ½-inch pieces (1½ cups)
1½ to 2 cups corn kernels
¾ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
5 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 lightly packed fresh mint, chopped
Lime wedges, to serve

In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the aji amarillo paste, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the sweet potato, corn, quinoa and broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and quinoa are tender, 16 to 19 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Off heat, stir in the cream. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with mint and serve with lime wedges.

From Milk Street, Tuesday Morning

Skillet Strata with Cheddar and Thyme

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, minced
Salt and ground black pepper
6 large eggs
1½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 slices high-quality sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch squares

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in 10-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat skillet, until foaming subsides. Add onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, thyme, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together, then stir in cheese; set aside.

Add bread to skillet and, using rubber spatula, carefully fold bread into onion mixture until evenly coated. Cook bread, folding occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

Off heat, fold in egg mixture until slightly thickened and well combined with bread. Gently press on top of strata to help it soak up egg mixture.

Bake until edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of pan, about 12 minutes.

from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best 30 minute Recipes

Candied Meyer Lemon Peels

• 3 organic Meyer lemons, rinsed and dried (you can use regular lemons too)
• 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
• Semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

  1. Cut lemons in half and juice Using a sharp paring knife, remove flesh from skin and discard (leave white pith attached to peel). Slice peel into strips.
  2. Place strips into a saucepan and fill with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Drain water and repeat two more times.
  3. After draining the last batch of water, place peels aside. Combine 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar has dissolved and reduce heat to medium-low. Add peel strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent, about 15-20 minutes. Drain (reserve liquid for other use – this lemon simple syrup can be used to sweeten drinks or desserts).
  4. Pour remaining sugar in a bowl and toss strips until coated with sugar. Place coated strips onto a sheet of wax paper and let dry overnight (if you’re impatient, you can dry it in a 200°F oven for an hour, checking frequently).
  5. If you want to cover in chocolate: once peels feel dry to touch, dip in melted chocolate and let dry on wax paper.
  6. Store in airtight container at room temperature.