Baylor Players Present All the World’s a Stage
Maxing out creative options and making the most of outdoor spaces surrounding Roddy – as well as rehearsal and stage spaces within Roddy – the Baylor Players presented a collection of scenes and original student work Oct. 25-26.
Publicized as a “progressive performance,” the production took place outdoors, tickets were limited for social distancing, and masks were required of all attendees. It was unmistakably a pandemic-appropriate show, but it also gave students who are passionate about drama the opportunity to perform for a live audience and to showcase their talents in creating original work.
“Their talent and commitment to this production were on full display,” said fine arts instructor and director Beth Gumnick. “What consistently impressed me was the self-motivation and dedication of both the cast and the tech crew. Their care for each other and the work was outstanding.”
All the World’s a Stage opened with Hamlet’s “Advice to the Players” monologue, delivered by Baylor Player officer and senior Nick Skonberg. Audiences then moved through a variety of spaces in small groups as the actors presented several scenes and monologues from classic theater including William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekhov, and Molière, as well as original pieces written and conceived by members of the company. In addition to Skonberg, other members of the company included juniors May Bankston, Colby Hawk, Adelle Pritchard, Patrick Russell, Jack Smith, Kara Anne Smith, and stage manager Olivia Hankins; sophomores Abbey Cate Bailey and Nathaniel Smart; and freshman Mary Margaret Bender.
Members of the tech crew, rarely seen in a typical live theater production, were front and center as hosts guiding audience groups to various locations. They were also tasked with filming and editing various pieces and creating a final video of the production for a virtual Parents’ Day on Oct. 30. They were led by camera operators and editing supervisors junior Kye Hamilton and senior Karina Quinn. Technicians were seniors Catherine Bryant, Frankie Chamberlain, Carson Steele, Ryne Williams, and distance learning assistants Zoe Hardnett and Barry Yang; junior Jack Minehan; and freshmen Natalie Hankins, Crawford Higdon, and Sid Sullivan.
In addition to directing, Gumnick also provided costume design. Garrett Walsh provided set and technical direction.
Art Finds a Way
Even with strict safety protocols and restrictions due to COVID-19, the fine arts program at Baylor continues to endure and inspire. “The arts have always been an essential pathway for allowing student expression, connection, collaboration, creativity, and strengthening their sense of community,” said Vic Oakes, fine arts department chair and choir director.“The last several months have highlighted the vital importance of the arts, and I am proud of how Baylor has committed to supporting them going forward so that they may take place in a safe and supportive manner.”
Baylor’s student musicians have made significant adaptations as they continue perfecting their craft under the circumstances brought about by the pandemic. “Instrument covers, singing while masked, and rehearsing outside are visible reminders that they are making music differently than they were before. What hasn’t changed, however, is the zeal and enthusiasm with which they have approached their music-making,” said Oakes.
Oakes says the Upper School orchestra has recorded music for the live-streaming of chapel programs and, in doing so, has highlighted works by underrepresented composers. The Baylor ensembles have utilized FlipGrid, SmartMusic, and other online learning and recording platforms to teach lessons and to evaluate student progress for students learning at home or unable to rehearse on campus.
While adapting to outdoor rehearsals and special recording projects, Baylor band members are also participating in online master classes from professional musicians. The Baylor choir and orchestra have combined to record a virtual recording of “We Can Dream,” which premiered on Parents’ Day 2020. Baylor commissioned acclaimed composer J. Reese Norris to write a new work for the choir and Baylor singers are already working with the composer on text and musical ideas for the piece that will be premiered in spring 2021.
Middle and Upper School Dance Showcase Choreography
Utilizing Baylor’s magnificent outdoor spaces, the Middle School and Upper School dance programs presented three performances in the Bullard Quad last fall, featuring 28 dancers and highlighting a wide range of dance styles and choreography.
The Middle School Dance Spotlight showcased choreography by Margaret Harman ’14 and Elizabeth Roemer ’05, directors of Baylor’s dance program. The Upper School hosted two dance previews featuring choreography by Mary Alex Bachus ’21, Megha Chanamolu ’21, Rachel Chen ’24, and Harman.
Maximizing the opportunity to create virtual experiences, the dance department released two dance films in January in place of the traditional Vervé concert. Both films included choreography by Harman and Roemer, as well as movement contributions from the Middle and Upper School dancers.
Middle School Players Go Retro with Radio Broadcast
The Middle School play took on a new twist in the form of an old-fashioned radio broadcast that was streamed for audiences Dec. 16-19. In creating It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, students learned about Foley sound effects, a technique of adding sound to film that began with live broadcasts of radio plays in the 1920s. The most famous of the early radio sound artists was Jack Foley, who later moved into the film industry and developed techniques that are still used in modern film production.
“Some of the students were cast as our Foley artists, and the play was recorded live and edited before streaming to the public,” said fine arts instructor and Middle School play director Allison Lamb. “I decided to go this route this year for two reasons. It’s a genre that is rarely talked about and performed anymore, and I always like to find something new to work on that is a learning experience for all of us.”
Sixteen Named to 79th Round Table
Sixteen members of Baylor’s Class of 2021 have been selected for the school’s 79th Round Table. Founded in 1942, the prestigious literary discussion group emphasizes independent thought and lively debate. Selection to Round Table is among Baylor’s highest honors. Round Table members for 2020-21 are (left to right, top to bottom) Rosa Anderson Barrera, Creighton Arrington (secretary), Orly Berke, Caroline Chapman, Ava Echard (co-vice-president), Dylan Edwards, Julia Flack, Ashleigh Huang, Alyssa Kim, Evelyn Ludwick, Dana Mays, Janie Pippenger (co-vice-president), Marina Rosenlund, Paige Ryan, Molly Stanfield (president), and Steven Yao (joining from China via Zoom). English instructor Heather Ott serves as the group’s faculty adviser.
School’s 105th Honor Council Seated
In May 1916, the Baylor student body unanimously adopted the Honor Code and established the Honor Council. Members of Baylor’s 105th Honor Council, pictured above, are (front row, left to right) junior Margaret Dowling, sophomores Zach Ubamadu and Marguerite Pippenger, freshman Carter Garrett, sophomore Mallory Alling, freshman Thomas Tipps, and senior Nick Skonberg; (back row) seniors Callie West (secretary) and Emrick Garrett (vice-chair), junior Spratt Allison (clerk), senior Eli Bowen (chair), junior Nick McKenney, and senior Sam Christensen. Not pictured is junior Brett Cooper.
2020-21 Student Leadership Board Named
Congratulations to the 2020-21 Student Leadership Board. Members include (bottom row, left to right) freshmen Addie Margio, Kaylee Snyder, Hamilton Edelen, and Wade Edelen; (second row) sophomores KD Hill, Jeb Martin, Lee Dozier, Ava James, and Helen Webb; (third row) juniors Sara Grace Snead, Georgia Wilson, and Caroline Renegar; and (top row) seniors Haley Rice, Lydia Bohannon, Camilla Zavala, Frances Brantley, and Sierra Haberhern. Members not available for the photo are senior Barry Yang and juniors Caleb Nunes and Couriyah Stegall.
New Health Advisory Council Named
A new student-run health council has been created to work with the Health and Wellness office in programming activities and initiatives that address the needs of the student body. The Baylor Student Health Council will allow students to be more involved in their own health and wellness journey by giving the student leaders the ability to communicate and collaborate with the Health and Wellness department, as well as the Baylor Health Center and Counseling office. Members are juniors Fatima Sohani, Lola Esho, Connie Ni, Ashleigh Huang, Sophia Baleeiro, Caleb Nunes, and Maddie Kim. Faculty sponsors are Health and Wellness director Jenny Green and Upper School health and wellness instructor and program co-coordinator Rachelle Parman.
Six Seniors Earn National Merit Honors
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced that Baylor seniors (pictured, top row, left to right) Creighton Arrington, Alyssa Kim, and Sophie Peirano are semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. In addition, two Baylor boarding students, (bottom row, left to right) Matthew An and Dake Peng, and one former Baylor boarder, Erica Wu, qualified as semifinalists but, as international students, are not eligible for the scholarship competition.
Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.
Ten Seniors Named National Merit Commended Students
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) named (pictured, left to right, top to bottom) seniors Caroline Chapman, Ada Cruikshank, William Hamn, Evelyn Ludwick, Paige Ryan, Avery Santin, Daniel Snyder, Gracie Tomisek, Margaret Webb, and Christopher Young Commended Students. They are among some 34,000 students throughout the nation being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2021 competition for NMSC awards, Commended Students placed among the top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT.
Abshire Fellows Enjoy Virtual Leadership Course
Fourteen seniors chosen last spring as Abshire Leadership Fellows enjoyed a virtual day of speakers, leadership activities, and presentations from alumni on politics, leadership, medicine, and business on Oct. 26. Fellows would normally have embarked last summer on the David M. Abshire Civic Leadership trip, an eight-day experiential course of study on similar topics; however, the trip was cancelled due to pandemic restrictions. The program was created in partnership with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and in honor of the late Dr. David Abshire ’44, who served as president and CEO of that organization. Abshire Leadership Fellows are pictured above: (front row, left to right) Alexa McCarren, Orly Berke, Margaret Webb, Rosa Anderson Barrera, Frances Brantley, Ashleigh Huang; (back row) Harrison Williams, Eli Bowen, Lydia Bohannon, Creighton Arrington, Sophie Peirano, Janie Pippenger, and Callie West. Not pictured is Grant Burks.
Middle School Advisory Council Named
Congratulations to the 2020-21 Middle School Advisory Council representatives who were elected by their peers in October. Sixth graders are Reese Finlay, Matilda Joels, Sarah Johnson, Avery Levin, Eva O’Kelley, Riley Swinford, Mary Handly Templeton-Phillips, Frank Treadwell, and Katie Grace Tuder. Seventh grade representatives are Lily Bernard, Mason Finlay, Calen Hawk, Kate Henry, James McCorkle, Braylee Newell, Brandon Oakes, David Sabou, and George Stowe. Eighth grade representatives are Drake Alling, Franny Brooksbank, Julia Gardner, Reife Hawkins, Edie Herndon, Max Hickman, Grey Kelley, Reed Martin, Reyna Park, Aly Sohani, and Caroline Stickley.
The Baylor Middle School Advisory Council (MSAC) was founded to provide Middle School students meaningful leadership development opportunities. Up to 30 students are selected by their peers to represent their advisories and take on leadership roles in shaping their class’ community service and class bonding initiatives. Students selected to the MSAC build leadership skills through learning how to solicit feedback and form a consensus with their peers, as well as through advocating on behalf of their classmates to Baylor Middle School faculty and administration.
Student Entrepreneurs Launch Spirit Shieldz
Baylor freshman Lily Simpson and her brother, sixth grader George, have built a business that is filling a need in the community and, perhaps, making a little money for themselves. Seeing that face coverings would be crucial for the community as the pandemic unfolded and noticing the general shortage of available masks in retail stores, the Simpsons founded Spirit Shieldz. Their product is a lightweight, breathable, and washable face mask that has been used by Baylor students, faculty, staff, and athletic teams. They are available, although often sold out, in the Baylor Spirit Store. They have also found an element of community service in the venture, donating masks to several businesses and ministries including Mustard Tree Ministries, which battles homelessness and poverty in Chattanooga.