What’s New in the Art Department

By Drama Instructor Peter Tamaribuchi, Assistant Director Sophie Needleman, and the Art Department

Technical Theater


Props for Seussical which premieres Friday, February 28 at 7:30pm.

Tech Theatre Arts introduces students to the behind-the-scenes workings of putting on plays, concerts, benefits and special events. Student crews focus on scenery, props, lighting, sound, costumes, and production management. They are a part of every event in the Center for the Arts (CFTA) theater, setting up the space and running the shows. Work on the upcoming Winter Musical, Seussical, is now in full swing in preparation for our performances February 28th and March 1st. The student crews are working together creating all the elements of the incredible world of Dr. Seuss!

Distracted Review: A Total Success

distracted1We surveyed the audience and 75 percent responded that the production was excellent. Some highlights include: “The level of acting was outstanding,” “great job with some sophisticated material,” “the comedy was well delivered,” “I loved the story and the acting, everything,” “Just watching the kids put it all on the line was awesome ”

We also raised about $1000 in donations. This is a fall play record and we are so thankful for all of your generosity. This will go to making sure we keep bringing you more quality theater and film that contributes to our Athenian community.

distracted3On closing night, there was a couple who came to see the play even though they had no affiliation to the school. Their 11 year old child was just diagnosed with ADHD and they said that the play deeply resonated with them. We directed them to Jeannine Morales, Athenian’s Learning Specialist, who helped them find more resources for their child. It is so exciting to be a part of a production that can actually help improve the lives of so many of our community members.

Arts, Culture, and Identity: Freshmen Drama

ACI: Drama is the introductory drama class for all freshmen. The class is a beginning improvisation class where we cover the fundamentals like the three rules of improvisation, characterization and storytelling. 

aci dramaThis past semester, we had amazing success with our first two quarters of ACI: Drama. For the first time, freshmen put on their own improvisation shows for a live audience of invited guests. Over forty students during each show saw these classes perform exciting versions of Party Guest, Growing Shrinking Machine, The Bus and other improv games. For many of the class members, it was their first time on stage. We saw tremendous growth in every participant and the buzz among the audience was that they witnessed an impressive display of creativity and courage on that stage. It was so successful that students clamored for more. This spring, for the first time, we will be feature a Spring Improv Troupe with a mostly freshmen group performing. Stay tuned for more improvised brilliance.

Drama Arts Class

script julia

A sample from the class’s original script.

We have had a very talented Drama Arts class this year. Drama Arts is a full-year intermediate to advanced drama class. Budding dramatists have been learning the intermediate skills of performing including improvisation and scripted acting. They performed with the ACI Drama group in two performances and organized the new Spring Improv Troupe.

Their next project is an original film written, directed, designed and acted by the class. After generating many ideas, the class picked an exciting story idea by Julia Plafker ’14 about a teenager girl hacker who discovers that “the singularity” has already happened. The singularity is the moment when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and computers begin to dominate humans. We follow her journey to escape the tyranny of our new digital masters. Filming has begun this semester and we will be proud to present the final film during the Spring Film and Play Festival.

The Athenian School Video Storytelling Project: Pilot Year

filmingThis is the first year of the Athenian Video Storytelling Project. It’s an exciting real-world, project-based class where students write, direct and produce their own documentary films about Athenian stories that aim for professional quality. Films from this class will be featured both in the Spring Film and Play festival as well as the Athenian website. The class spent last semester training in film technique as well as researching ideas for their films. Now, they are in production, interviewing Athenian students, teachers and other community members, filming events and diving deep into their subjects: Athenian pillar of democracy, Athenian Wilderness Experience, ceramics and 3D art, humanities and the Darfur Benefit Show, the boarding experience, A Journey from Public to Private Schools and athletics and our soccer team.

Call for Volunteers

Extra support from parents in terms of donations and volunteering always makes our productions run extra smoothly. We are always on the search for parent volunteers and donations of food funds specifically. For anyone who is interested, please contact Sophie Needelman our Assistant Director and Parent Coordinator at sophieneedelman@gmail.com!

Save the Date

seussicalFeb 28 and March 1: Seussical the Musical at 7:30pm

April 25: Faculty and Staff Talent Show West Side Story at 8pm

May 9: Spring Arts festival begins featuring art exhibits all over campus. Play and Film Festival at 7:30pm

May 15 and 16: Spring Concert at 7:30pm

May 17: Cabaret at 7:30pm

On Exchange at Round Square’s Founding Schools: Salem and Gordonstoun

Athenian was one of six founding schools of Round Square, an international consortium founded by educational leader Kurt Hahn. This semester, two Athenian students are on exchange at two of the other founding Round Square schools, Salem School in Germany and Gordonstoun in Scotland.

Salem: Life in a German Castle

by Sasha Hart ’14

Greetings from Salem International College in Germany!

Sasha Hart - Salem #1

I’ve been here for almost a month now so I figured it was time to send an update to you all. The first week I spent getting to know the place and the people. I met the other exchange from Markham College in Peru, as well as the other girls in my wing, Mädchenbau 1, including my roommate Delia who is from Switzerland. During that first week I got to take a trip to the town of Überlingen which is about a 15 minute bus ride from campus, where most of the people from Salem go to do their shopping, go out for dinner or see a movie.

Sasha Hart - Salem #2

Headerbild_Spetzgart_2_02Since they don’t do exchanges into twelfth grade here, I am taking classes in the 11th grade in IB (International Baccalaureate) Year 1, which is the program where the classes are taught in English. There are two academic programs at the school, the IB and the Abitur. The Abitur is the German-speaking academic program and about two thirds of the 300 students here are in that program, including my roommate. Luckily, most everyone has, at the very least, a pretty good understanding of English. I am living on the 11th grade campus called Spetzgart, a beautiful old castle overlooking Lake Constance. The 12th graders live a five-minute walk away at the Härlen campus, which was built in the early 2000s. Similar to Athenian, there is a morning meeting at the Härlen campus every Monday where there are announcements and things of that nature so I’ve gotten to spend time at both campuses.

Sasha Hart - Salem #4

One thing that is different about Salem is that there are classes on Saturdays. While this was a little bit of a surprise for me, I’ve found that it is not so bad to have class on Saturdays especially because my only class on Saturdays is Art and I have plenty of free periods during the week to explore Uberlingen or hang out with friends. In fact, my schedule here is similar to what one would typically have in college rather than high school, with classes meeting once or twice a week for an hour and a half each meeting. Some days I don’t have a class until noon! They also do something called Dienst here every Monday, which is basically community service. Some people help out with the fire service or mentally ill or at the café on campus as well as many other things. I will be working at the café where I will hopefully make all the drinks correctly; I’m told the coffee machine is idiot-proof.

Sasha Hart - Salem #5

It has been interesting to experience life at a boarding school as everyone at Salem is a boarder. Not only have I gotten to meet people from all over the world, but I’ve also come to learn what it’s like to live at school. It’s great to be able to have your friends just down the hall from you; at the same time, if you’re trying to go to sleep and someone upstairs has just discovered a mouse in their room it might be a little while before you have peace and quiet. I got to be part of my wing’s photo for the yearbook where we all dressed up as stereotypical types of students (nerds, sporty kids etc.). I was supposed to be a stereotypical American high school girl, which to them meant I had to either dress up like the Mean Girls characters or the Gossip Girls characters. I don’t think I pulled off Blair Waldorf’s look but I think they were satisfied with my attempt to look the part.

Sasha Hart - Salem #3

I could go on and on about what is different and what is similar about Salem and Athenian but I’ll leave that for another time. I’ll just briefly mention a couple of things I’ve done since arriving here. After my second week here, I convinced another girl to come with me to tour another town on Lake Constance called Meersburg. There is both a big winery overlooking the lake and an old castle there. The castle is where a famous German poet lived and worked until her death. It was really interesting to look around the castle and see all the different rooms and how they lived back then. As there aren’t any organized excursions for the exchanges here, I’m going to London this coming weekend to visit a family friend and the next weekend I will be staying with Theresa’s (the exchange from Salem at Athenian right now) family in Munich and they are going to show me around there. The weekend after that we have Carnival here at Salem which as I understand it is a weekend of parties where you dress up in costumes and have a good time. Then another week and I will be home.

My time here is flying by and I’m really going to miss all the great people I’ve met here and experiences I’ve had.

Until next time! Auf Wiedersehen!

Gordonstoun: Adventures in Uniform 

by Cade Niles ’16

I’ve been at the Gordonstoun School in Scotland for over five weeks now and I’ve had many notable experiences.

An interesting experience for me has been my participation in seamanship here at Gordonstoun. Seamanship is a three-day training program for all year 10’s in order to prepare them for a larger sailing voyage later in the springtime. Although I will leave for home before this larger sailing trip, I had a fantastic time during those three days. We began our instruction in a small school-owned building near Hopeman Harbor, and then worked our way to the boats. Still in the harbor, we began learning how to operate the many different and complex parts of the boat. Here is a photo of the boats still in the harbor:


boat2Once our instructors were satisfied with our ability to “lower and dip” the sails, we set out into the Moray Firth. (You can look it up on Google maps to get a sense of where that is.) To safely exit the harbor, we had to row for a time. I also enjoyed the rowing quite a lot, strangely. Once we got out into the water, this is what it looked like:

While I have been known to get very seasick in the past—just ask Redden, Addison, Haley, or Abigail–I felt completely fine for the many hours we were out on the water. Unlike a few of my classmates, I was ecstatic to be out on the water instead of in classed. This experience has made me seriously consider taking up both sailing and rowing.


Being at Gordonstoun has made me appreciate both the relaxed environment Athenian creates as well as the democratic nature of the school. There is a uniform at Gordonstoun: black shoes, black slacks, a white button-down shirt, and a blue school sweater. I didn’t really get comfortable in it until four weeks had passed. Being in a uniform every day makes me miss the choice around what I wear to school every day. Over all though, wearing a uniform hasn’t been bad at all.

More notably, I miss the democracy we have at Athenian. It seems to me that Gordonstoun is fairly bureaucratic and that things do not easily change. While many people here comment on how casual Athenian is (calling teachers by their first names), I have to keep reassuring them that our classes are very challenging and we all work very hard. Because of the democratic nature of Athenian, we as a community can assess what needs to change and how. To me, Gordonstoun suffers from doing things traditionally because “that’s how it has been done for a long time.” Athenian benefits from playing largely by its own rules and constantly evolving to better educate its students for the modern world.

photo[1]Both Athenian and Gordonstoun are Round Square schools and both represent the IDEALS in many ways; however, I think that Athenian is more academically challenging. For both schools, service, adventure, and internationalism are all taken very seriously, and time is allotted for students to have opportunities in all of these fields.  In order to make time for these, I believe that Gordonstoun somewhat reduces the difficulty of its academics. I have found that this is one of the main differences between the schools. However, the daily schedule at Gordonstoun is much more full and simply cannot provide the time required for more nightly homework. While this may sound like an insult, I don’t intend it to be and am simply commenting on the different ways each school has decided to spend its students’ time.

photoDorm life has been much more comfortable than I had assumed it would be. I’ve made many great friends in my dorm. It feels a bit like a school trip sometimes, staying in a hotel and joking around with classmates late at night. I am constantly around people my age and it’s a bit liberating to be immature around people who won’t scoff at it.

My time on exchange has taught me how sociable I can be. I’ve been going to Athenian since 6th grade and have only had to make new friends occasionally at summer camps. Never have I had an experience quite like this one. While I was quiet and reserved for a few weeks, I slowly began to extrovert myself and make many new friends. It has been really fantastic to make so many new friends from all around the world. It has given me new confidence and has eased my worries about making friends once I leave for college.

In the past five weeks, I’ve learned a lot about myself. This has been a fantastic experience that I would recommend to all. I anxiously await seeing you all when classes resume in April.

Simone ’15: Taking Museum Advocacy to Capitol Hill


Simone in an astronaut suit at Chabot.

On February 24, Simone Batiste ’15 will travel to Washington, D.C. to tell Congress why museums are important. One of two nationwide selected by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), Simone will join more than 300 museum leaders from around the country for the 6th annual Museum Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. Appointed as a Great American Museum Advocate, Simone will meet with our local California representatives and speak to a join session of Congress to make the case for federal support of America’s museums. Simone will be engaging directly in the embodiment of the Constitutional right of citizens to petition the government, sharing her first-hand experience of the powerful impact museums can have on the life of an individual.


Galaxy Explorers in Hong Kong

Simone has been a regular volunteer at Chabot Space and Science Center through their Galaxy Explorers program, doing live public science demonstrations and explaining interactive exhibits. This past summer, she participated in a science exchange with the Hong Kong Space Museum. Cross-cultural teams explored differences in Western and Chinese astronomy in both Hong Kong and at Chabot. In September, Simone delivered a speech at Chabot’s fundraising gala outlining the value and personal impact the trip had on her: 

I have been a part of [the Chabot] community since the age of 5 when I attended science camp and learned how to make ice cream from just dry ice….Little did I know that my experience at Chabot Space and Science would lead me to travel to the Hong Kong Space Museum as a member of the peer-to-peer digital sky student partnership. During this adventure, I had an opportunity to meet and interact with students from across the world who shared similar passions and interests as I….I gained so much more than just learning about the stars in our universe. I developed life-long friendships, extensive new skills with technology, and personal growth and development.

Helping Chinese students with an experiment at Chabot.

Helping Chinese students with an experiment at a school in Hong Kong.

My experience with Galaxy Explorers has been truly beneficial and applicable to my life and activities beyond the museum. For instance, the knowledge that I acquire when I show demonstrations to the public, I can use in my physics, biology, and chemistry classes….Due to my love for life sciences, I would like to extend my passion in biology, study at Stanford, and become a doctor…I applaud each of you in this room and countless others, who inspire me to start by starting, do by doing, so that I and others can see our dreams become realities.

Simone and Mayor of Oakland Jean Quan

Simone and Mayor of Oakland Jean Quan at a Chabot event.

Simone does not actually know who nominated her to be a Great Museum Advocate. AAM received a video of her speech and found her experiences to be a perfect fit for a Museum Advocate–an individual whose life was changed by their involvement with a museum. Simone’s experiences at Chabot, combined with her opportunities to further her science exploration at Athenian, have positioned Simone well to be a poised and articulate representative of the cause.

Good luck in D.C., Simone! We look forward to sharing your report of the experience upon your return.

Understand Elasticity or Else! Dropping an Egg on the Upper School Head’s Head

By Emily Golding ’14

IMG_0632On January 24th, the 2013-2014 Advanced Physics class  dropped eggs on Dick Bradford’s head. Lucky for Dick, they were attached to a very specific number of rubber bands, calculated by students to drop a precise distance without cracking on Dick’s head. To find this number, we had to understand elastic potential energy and its relation to gravitational potential energy.Relating the equations for these two types of potential energy, after finding the length of one rubber band, the spring DSC07813constant, and the distance from the drop height to the top of Dick’s head allowed us to solve for how many bands would be needed to get an egg as close to Dick’s head as possible without ruining his shirt.

As we had not tested our rubber band ropes with eggs attached, we were duly wary of the imminent danger to the head (pun not intended) of the upper school, and our first trials only came within around 20cm of Dick’s waiting pate. This large amount of error inspired us to to attempt the experiment again, lengthening our bungee cords with additional rubber bands. On the second trial, Dick still remained clean, but our re-calculations successfully brought the eggs well within the danger zone at 2.13cm.

m*g*h = 1/2 * k/n * ( h – nL)^2: Equation we derived relating elastic potential energy and gravitational potential energy.

DSC07781Elastic potential energy: When something elastic, such as a rubber band or spring, is stretched (or compressed), it gains the capacity to perform work. Represented by half of the above equation: =1/2kx^2 (k=spring constant, x=distance stretched/compressed from equilibrium)


Gravitational potential energy: When an object is lifted so as not to be resting on the ground, when you let go, gravity is going to give it the capacity to do work. Represented by the other half of the above equation: =mgh (m=mass, g=gravitational acceleration, h=height from ground)

Spring constant: a number representing how stretchy the rubber bands are. Found with equation: f=kx (f=force applied, x=distance stretched/compressed from equilibrium)

Work: Energy transferred to or from an object by means of a force acting on the object.

Thanks, Dick!

Thanks, Dick!