PHS Presents “Around The World in Seven Plays”

Pennsbury High School is proud to present its Spring drama, “Around the World in Seven Plays,” at Pennsbury High School West, 608 S. Olds Blvd. in Fairless Hills, on Thursday, April 10th at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, April 12th at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm.
 
The ensemble production will feature 28 student actors, two student directors, and a technical crew of 52 students. The play will be directed by retired Pennsbury teacher, Mary Kay Everett.  “I chose these short plays to allow for a greater number of kids to experience what it’s like to have a featured role in a production while learning how to be an ensemble player at the same time,” said Ms. Everett. “The multiple scene and costume changes will require a lot of technical know-how, as well.”
 
The audience is invited to travel around the world to explore forgotten myths and legends in seven fast-paced and humorous plays-within-the play. The tales span the continents, featuring such countries as Russia, Czechoslovakia, India, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, and the Americas.
 
Tickets are $7 and are available at the door.

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Student Council making a difference at Pennsbury High School

by Shanzeh Khan, junior, Pennsbury High School

This year Pennsbury High School’s Student Council has worked hard to help the needy and less fortunate. This couldn’t be done if it weren’t for the four student council advisors, one for each grade, including Mrs. Catherine Callahan, Mrs. Lisa Henderson, and Mrs. Tammy Pesci, all social studies teachers, along with Mrs. Elizabeth Titano, a foreign language teacher. Student Council ran two donation drives during the first semester of the school year.

The first one was a Food Drive that took place before Thanksgiving. Student Council collected over 1,400 food items for the Bucks County Homeless Shelter. In addition to the food donations, they also gave $250 to the shelter to help people in need during Thanksgiving. Student Council has been holding this event for many years.

The other donation drive they ran during the first semester was collecting money during student lunches to donate to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and the tornados in Illinois. This time the students who are part of Student Council approached the advisors themselves and asked them to do something to help the victims of these devastating disasters. They raised $175 dollars. 

These are only a couple of the fundraising efforts they have done, with hopefully more good deeds to come from students and teachers who like to make a difference.

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Pennsbury High School presents ‘Barnum’

Over 100 cast members, a 25-piece orchestra, and a technical crew of more than 50 students will present “Barnum” at Pennsbury High School, Friday, February 28th at 7:30pm, Saturday, March 1st at 7:30pm, and Sunday, March 2nd at 2:00pm. All performances will take place at Pennsbury’s East campus, located at 705 Hood Boulevard in Fairless Hills. Ticket prices are $15, $10 and $7.

The book for “Barnum” is by Mark Bramble, lyrics by Michael Stewart and music by Cy Coleman. It is based on the life of showman P.T. Barnum, and the creation of his circus, better known as “the greatest show on Earth.”

Pennsbury High School’s past musical theater productions have spawned several talented budding musical theater careers on Broadway. Come out and see the future stars of Broadway perform in this unique show. “Barnum” features a live band on stage as well as exciting circus performances and elaborate sets. In addition, audiences will be treated to a special live circus pre-show in the lobby, complete with cotton candy and live entertainment.

“Barnum” will be directed by PHS alum and Charles Boehm Middle School Music Teacher, Matthew South. The show is produced by Pennsbury Choral Director, James D. Moyer, and the Musical Director is Choral Teacher, Brian Krajcik. The show will be choreographed by Dani Tucci-Juraga.

Seniors with Gold Cards are entitled to free gallery seating, or may purchase tickets at a $7 discount. For more information call 215-949-6780 x71686.

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Relay for Life, Fairless Hills

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Fairless Hills will be held June 28th-29th at Falcon Field, Pennsbury High School. The Relay For Life is a 24-hour walk/event that highlights the yearlong efforts in this community’s fight against cancer. It is a “carnival” type, family-oriented atmosphere that has hundreds of  community members and businesses uniting to raise money and awareness to continue the 100-plus year fight that the American Cancer Society has waged. Through fundraising and education, there have been many success stories that have been achieved. Many successful treatments have been developed and through support, many families have had the chance to face these battles with an understanding that would have not been if not for the ACS. Fairless Hills last year raised over $130,000.

This year on June 28th at 11:00am, the Relay For Life celebration kicks off with food, activities for the children (and adults), ceremonies celebrating cancer survivors and caregivers, raffles, fundraisers and education all designed to fight this horrible disease. At 9:00pm the moving and inspirational Luminaria Ceremony will remember survivors and caregivers, as well as honor lost friends and family members. Named luminaria bags with candles will line the track as the names are read aloud. It is truly something to experience.

Join this year’s Relay for Life and donate what you can to fight back and experience a life-changing and inspirational event! For more information visit relayforlife.org/pafairlesshills or Fred Fletcher, Event Chair, at 267-549-5708 or fred@flamingoclean.com.

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Relay for Life, Fairless Hills

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Fairless Hills will be held June 28th-29th at Falcon Field, Pennsbury High School. The Relay For Life is a 24-hour walk/event that highlights the yearlong efforts in this community’s fight against cancer. It is a “carnival” type, family-oriented atmosphere that has hundreds of  community members and businesses uniting to raise money and awareness to continue the 100-plus year fight that the American Cancer Society has waged. Through fundraising and education, there have been many success stories that have been achieved. Many successful treatments have been developed and through support, many families have had the chance to face these battles with an understanding that would have not been if not for the ACS. Fairless Hills last year raised over $130,000.

This year on June 28th at 11:00am, the Relay For Life celebration kicks off with food, activities for the children (and adults), ceremonies celebrating cancer survivors and caregivers, raffles, fundraisers and education all designed to fight this horrible disease. At 9:00pm the moving and inspirational Luminaria Ceremony will remember survivors and caregivers, as well as honor lost friends and family members. Named luminaria bags with candles will line the track as the names are read aloud. It is truly something to experience.

Join this year’s Relay for Life and donate what you can to fight back and experience a life-changing and inspirational event! For more information visit relayforlife.org/pafairlesshills or Fred Fletcher, Event Chair, at 267-549-5708 or fred@flamingoclean.com.

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Ashvika Dhir attends Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Ashvika Dhir, a senior at Pennsbury High School, was one of 50 students from around the world and (and one of only two from the US) to be invited to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in October. Billed as the global hive of “everything entrepreneurship,” it was first held in 2010 in Washington, DC and hosted by President Obama. 

Social entrepreneurship is Ashvika’s passion. She started a website called Causehub.com to get her generation to contribute and be socially responsible. CauseHub.com is a platform for young social change-makers and innovators. It is a place for young adults to promote, educate, share, search and join causes that they are passionate about. Individuals can create their own blog/site and have their own followers. Ashvika was recommended for the conference by Farah Bandith, special assistant to Secretary of State John Kerry, and invited to attend on a full scholarship by the Ministry of Finance of the Malaysian government.

Rockstar entrepreneurs, thought leaders and researchers from all over the world converged and met to discuss, debate, share ideas, connect and network. 

PHOTO CAP: Ashvika Dhir (right) with Farah Bandith, special assistant to Secretary of State John Kerry. 

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Pennsbury Community Chorus set for musical feast at 14th Annual Christmas Concert

The Pennsbury Community Chorus (PCC) is doing an encore five years later! Due to popular demand, the Chorus’ 14th Annual Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 15th will feature the return of “Missa Carolae,” a choral setting of the Latin Mass set to the music of Christmas carols from several European countries by British composer James Whitbourn.

The mass setting, last performed by the PCC in 2008, will again be under the baton of PCC Music Director James D. Moyer. It will be held in Keller Hall on the West Campus of Pennsbury High School, 608 South Olds Boulevard, Fairless Hills, starting at 3:00pm.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and over, and $6 for students with ID. They can be ordered in advance by calling 215-949-6780 ext. 70975, or purchased at the door just prior to the show. Group tickets for 20 or more are available by phone for a 20% discount.

Moyer, Director of PHS Choral Activities and Coordinator of Vocal/Choral Music K-12, said that while the Whitbourn work is the major concert piece, the afternoon will include well-known Christmas carols, some with invited audience participation, as well as both new and newly-arranged older seasonal works.

“A most unusual feature of this presentation of ‘Missa Carolae,’” Moyer noted, “will be the substitution of a children’s choir for several sections normally sung by a soprano soloist. This role will be taken by the 30-member Select Chorus of the Quarry Hill Elementary School from Yardley under the direction of Kathy Setash. In addition, the Pennsbury High School Chamber choir will join with the Community Chorus in the Mass, as well as take the stage by itself for three seasonal choral pieces.”

Instrumental accompaniment for the concert will be provided by a guest brass ensemble as well as organ and piano. Jason Vodicka, a former Pennsbury High music teacher and current assistant professor of music at Susquehanna University, will play the Allen organ. Playing piano will be Brian Krajcik, a PHS music faculty member. Another PHS music faculty member, Dereck Cressman, will conduct one of the concert’s briefer works, “Awake, Arise and Hail the Morn,” an anthem for voice, brass, percussion and organ arranged by Mack Wilberg. 

Other Christmas songs on the program include “Joy to the World”; “O Come, All Ye Faithful”; “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”; and J.S. Bach’s “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light” from the “Christmas Oratorio.”

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Pennsbury Marching Band Festival Hosts Area Bands Including Temple University Marching Band

 

Pennsbury High School played host to area marching bands in the 13th Annual Marching Band Festival on November 2nd

Participating marching bands included Catasauqua, Owen J. Roberts, William Tennent, Pennridge, Neshaminy and Cherry Hill East.  Pennsbury Marching Band also performed, but as host was not considered a festival competitor.  All competing bands received judges’ ratings of “Outstanding” or “Superior”.  Owen J. Roberts received the award for best drum major.   Pennridge won for best color guard, brass section, and marching, and Neshaminy received awards for best music, percussion, and woodwinds.

Attendees at the Marching Band Festival were treated to a guest performance by the Temple University Marching Band.  The band entertained the crowded Falcon Field football stadium with music from Queen, Fall Out Boy and Justin Timberlake.

The Pennsbury Marching Band, under the direction of Frank Mazzeo, will conclude their fall season by marching for the 30th straight year in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Pennsbury High School Marching Band, known as the “Long Orange Line” has performed on four continents and is internationally recognized as one of the premier high school marching bands in the United States.  The Band has the distinction of being the only band on the planet to have performed at all 5 Disneylands worldwide.

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Julia Sismour earns highest rank at International Thespian Festival

by June Portnoy

Yardley’s Julia Sismour, a junior at Pennsbury High School, was recently awarded “highest rank” for performing two contrasting monologues at the Education Theater Association’s 2013 International Thespian Festival. This annual festival, which honors achievement in educational theater, was held in June at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Earning this prestigious designation at the International Festival was a long journey that began right at PHS. As a sophomore, Julia auditioned for and received a leading role in “Anatomy of Gray.” She played the role of June Muldoon, whose husband passes away while she is pregnant with their child. While still pregnant, June discovers she is terminally ill.

Julia described her role as “challenging to perform.” Despite playing the role of an adult faced with grown-up decisions to face, Julia, who was just 15 at the time, put herself in her character’s shoes, resulting in a believable and successful performance.

Julia knew her school’s drama program would be performing this play at the Pennsylvania State Thespian Festival last December, and decided she also wanted to compete in this festival’s Individual Event (IE).

“This competition is open to every high school throughout the state,” explained Julia. “Students can choose to perform a monologue, dialogue or group performance.”

In order to perform in the monologue category, students had to choose two contrasting monologues within a mandatory three-minute limit.

Julia chose “Be Aggressive” by Anne Weisman for her dramatic monologue. This monologue is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mother dies from cancer. The monologue begins during a vulnerable moment when Julia’s character opens up to her friends about her feelings of loss for the first time.

Julia chose her comedic monologue from “’Dentity Crisis,” written by her favorite playwright, Christopher Durang. This monologue is about a depressed patient talking to her psychiatrist about a story from her childhood, but like the rest of the play, it’s an absurd and amusing account that pokes fun at the notions of identity and sanity.

Julia practiced her monologues for months with the guidance of Mary Kay Everett, the director of PHS’s drama program, who Julia refers to as “her mentor.”

Pennsbury’s Thespian Troop 830 has been participating in at the Pennsylvania State Thespian Festival for decades. The festival takes place every December at Central York High School in York, PA.

“It was an incredible learning and social experience to watch other students my age with completely different theater experiences performing,” commented Julia.

What was even more incredible was that Julia received the All-State Award for her performance in “Anatomy of Gray.” One cast member who stood out from each production was awarded with an All-State Award, and Julia was bestowed that honor for her school’s show. Julia was also the only one from PHS who performed monologues for the IE event. 

All students performed before three judges and were rated fair to superior based on professionalism, characterization, voice, movement/staging and effectiveness.        

In order to qualify to perform at the International Thespian Festival, students must receive at least two superior votes and one excellent vote. All three judges rated Julia “superior.” She became one of a very small percent of students from this festival to receive this rank.

“Preparing for the International Thespian Festival was even more exciting and yet stressful, knowing I’d be competing against the best of the best students my age throughout the world,” said Julia.

“Once at the festival, I watched the other performers in awe, amazed at their ability to express their emotions in such realistic ways.”

Julia performed the same contrasting monologues at the International Festival that she performed at her state festival, also before three judges. And once again, she scored “superior” for her performance. Only 15% of the competitors at the International Festival were rewarded this highest ranking.

“It’s still hard to believe that after this entire journey of auditions, I got the highest possible score competing against students from around the world,” commented Julia.

Julia plans to perform another set of contrasting monologues again this year in the IE at the December State Festival, but explains that this year, the stakes will be higher. Now that she’s a junior, she’s hoping to catch the attention of college recruiters, as she’ll soon be applying to college where she plans to major in theater.

You can see for yourself why Julia has achieved international recognition for her acting ability by going to her upcoming school performance in “Twelve Angry Men,” in which she plays the lead antagonist. “Twelve Angry Men” will be presented at 7:30pm on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th at the PHS West Orange Auditorium, 608 S. Olds Boulevard, Fairless Hills. You can purchase tickets at the door for $5.

PHOTO CAP: Julia Sismour

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Justine Wallace publishes book of poetry

by June Portnoy

Fairless Hills resident Justine Wallace, a junior at Pennsbury High School, recently published “My Heart Speaks,” a collection of 97 of her best poems expressing her innermost feelings that she has written over the past four years.

“’My Heart Speaks’” is not just a jumbled mass of words strung together haphazardly to form poems,” describes Justine. “It is a glimpse into my emotions and the inner workings of my mind.

“When you read my poetry, you are reliving an emotion or a situation that I’ve felt or lived through, respectively. Hold this book in your hands and you are holding a part of me.” 

According to Justine, she turned to poetry as form of self-expression in seventh grade.

“I had all these emotions bottled up inside of me and I didn’t know where to put them,” explains Justine. “I felt like if I kept all those feelings inside, I’d explode, so I started to express them in poems.”

The book’s overall theme is about all the emotions a person goes through in the course of their life. Justine acknowledges that her life has gone through lots of ups and downs as she has entered her teenage years, experiencing many conflicting emotions.

Justine’s mother, Chris Wallace, adds, “Justine conveys such powerful emotions that many people feel, but don’t know how to convey, and yet here’s this 16-year-old who has accomplished a way to express these thoughts.

“Her poems are very intense and relatable, and apply to what many of us go through as adults, as well as teens.”

Approximately two-thirds of the poems written in “My Heart Speaks” relate to Justine’s romantic interests. Her 12-part series of poems entitled “The Forbidden Fruit,” written in 10th grade, describe her feelings about a boy she considered to be the love of her life, “but ended up being just another stupid crush,” recalls Justine.

She dedicated the first poem in her book, “To Grandpa,” to her grandfather who passed away when she was almost three.

“We all lived together and he raised me as his own,” says Justine. “My poem expresses the impact he made on my life and how grateful I am for him being there for me during my earliest years.”

Justine admits that while she was writing them, she never considered putting her poems together in a book. However, when she started sharing them with friends and family, she received such positive feedback that she felt motivated to create a poetry book.

“I have no regrets about putting my feelings out there in print for everyone to read,” reveals Justine. “If you truly want to know and love me, you need to know me at my best and my worst.”

Justine’s hope is that her book will evoke some strong emotions from her readers, whether it’s anger, sadness or happiness, and that they’ll be able to empathize with her feelings.

When Justine isn’t writing poetry, she’s making jewelry for her business, The Starving Jeweler, which she established last year. She makes earrings, necklaces and bracelets and sells them in person and from her Facebook page found under “The Starving Jeweler.” For each sale she donates a dollar to the American Heart Association in memory of her grandfather.

Justine was recently invited by Barnes & Noble in Fairless Hills to a gathering of local authors to do a book signing. 

“She was significantly younger than the other authors, and yet, strangers who met her walked away talking about how poised and accomplished she was at such a young age,” remarks Chris.

Justine’s first solo book signing and reading will take place on Saturday, November 9th, also at Fairless Hills’ Barnes & Noble, between 1:00 and 3:00pm. 

Come meet Justine and let her poetry touch your soul. For more information, visit her Facebook page at Justine Wallace – Poet.

PHOTO CAP: Justine Wallace

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