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ACT Latest News (48)

13 ACT Writing Students Honored by Connecticut Writing Project

Willimantic – UCONN’s 2017 Connecticut Writing Project (CWP) contest has recognized 13 students at EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) magnet high school for their writing and poetry. Five ACT students have been selected for publication in the CWP-sponsored Connecticut Student Writers magazine.

“The support we receive for our art at all levels at ACT is key to the success of the writers,” said ACT Creative Writing teacher John Wetmore. “The number of awards we received is really a testament to the way we collaborate and lift each other up.”

Of the 13 students recognized for their original works of poetry and prose, 5 will be published in the annual magazine. Those recognized for publication are sophomore Jordan Pelletier, Amston, for poetry; junior Alex Castro, Hebron, for poetry; junior DJ Hettinger, Willimantic, for fiction; junior Mae Santillo, Lebanon, for poetry; and senior Juliet Duchesne, Windham, for poetry.

"This is the first time my work has been published and I feel very accomplished,” said ACT Creative Writing student DJ Hettinger. “Part of the writing process was sharing our work during workshops and receiving constructive feedback from classmates.”

Other ACT students whose work was honored by the CWP with Honorable Mentions include: freshman Rachel Charron, Plainfield, poetry; freshman Ellis McGinley, Ashford, poetry; freshman Lauren Ruggiero, Andover, poetry; sophomore Ally LaPrad, Coventry, poetry; sophomore Carson Rice, Moosup, poetry; junior Grace Ellis, Norwich, poetry and fiction; senior Juliet Duchesne, Windham, fiction; senior Nadia Jala, Lebanon, poetry and fiction; and senior Vivian Sun, Norwich, poetry.

Annually, over 1,000 students across Connecticut submit their works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or two-dimensional art or photography to the CWP. In total, 81 students statewide, from kindergarten through grade 12, will be published in the 2017 Connecticut Student Writers edition.

EASTCONN’s ACT arts magnet high school enrolls students in grades 9-12 from northeastern Connecticut. Located in EASTCONN’s historic Capitol Theater in downtown Willimantic, ACT offers small classes and a rigorous, standards-based curriculum with an emphasis on the arts and developing students’ artistic talents.

            To learn more about ACT or its Creative Writing program, contact ACT Principal Sarah Mallory at 860-465-5636 or visit www.eastconn.org/act. ACT is a magnet high school administered by EASTCONN, a public, non-profit, Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut schools and communities since 1980.
             UCONN’s CWP is one of the oldest sites of The National Writing Project (NWP). The mission of the NWP is to improve student achievement by improving the teaching of writing and improving learning in the nation’s schools. In addition, the CWP offers professional development services to schools and school districts, and a variety of opportunities for students to publish their writing. Learn more at cwp.uconn.edu.

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Theatrical Production of Getting Out in Willimantic on May 11, 12 & 13

Willimantic - The public is invited to the former Off-Broadway drama Getting Out, performed by students at EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) arts magnet high school, on Thurs., Fri. and Sat., May 11, 12, and 13, 2017, at 7 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sat., May 12, at the Capitol Theater, 896 Main St., Willimantic.

“Getting Out is a show about how women accept, challenge, or change the course of their paths with courage, dignity, hope and strength,” said ACT Director of Theater Sandra L. Evans-Abbott. “ACT students have embraced the themes that run throughout this story; namely, acceptance and forgiveness of oneself and others.”

Getting Out’s subject matter is for mature audiences and not suitable for young children.

Written byPulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman, Getting Out was produced at the Marymount Manhattan Theatre in 1978 and thenOff-Broadwayin 1979. The play concerns Arlene/Arlie, a female prisoner, just released from prison, who returns to her home in Kentucky. Although she tries to lead a normal life, her past experiences keep intruding.

Getting Out’s lead characters will be played by senior Juliana Sliva, from Brooklyn, who will play Arlene, and junior Jocelyn Hoagland, of Willimantic, who will play Arlie. The remaining cast members play people who have influenced the life events and choices of the main character. The cast: senior Rachael Vroman, Chaplin; senior AJ Saulnier, Wauregan; senior Samantha Morowski, Danielson; senior Victoria Sun, Norwich; junior Tayon Kulos, Norwich; senior Caleb Burelle, Hampton; senior Matthew Hohman, Chaplin; junior Blake Peterson, Pomfret; sophomore Josh Grover, Willimantic; sophomore Naremean Aumaree, Willimantic; and sophomore Malia Peres, Willimantic. Senior Max Mayo of Willington, and junior Mary Neal of Windham will stage manage.

Getting Out’s lighting design is by ACT Technical Theater Instructor Christianne Glenn-Long, audio/visual production is by Audio/Video and Technology Education teacher Dan Boisvert, and costume design is by Costuming instructor Sarah Murphy. Former ACT artist/teacher, Chris Hoyt, who currently teaches and designs for Central Connecticut State University’s theater department, is the special guest scenic designer.

 “In preparing for their roles, ACT students have conducted extensive research on women’s rights in America, statistics on incarcerated women and social services/rehabilitation,” said Evans-Abbott. “All actors are being trained on the myriad of dialects employed for these characters.”

Regular tickets for Getting Out are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students and $5 for alumni and military. For tickets, call the Capitol Theater Box Office at 860-465-5636 or visit the Box Office prior to show time for walk-up ticket sales (cash or check only).

ACT, which is administered by EASTCONN, is a four-year, arts magnet high school, located in the historic Capitol Theater in downtown Willimantic. Visit www.eastconn.org/ACT to learn more. EASTCONN is a public, non-profit, Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut schools and communities since 1980. 

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Slots Still Available for 2017-2018 at EASTCONN's Magnet High Schools

Willimantic – EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) performing arts magnet high school and Quinebaug Middle College (QMC), a regional magnet high school, have a limited number of seats remaining for students entering grades 9-12 this fall.

ACT, housed in Willimantic’s historic Capitol Theater, enrolls students seeking intensive study in the performing arts. Students have daily access to creative experiences through a rigorous curriculum that integrates the performing arts with more traditional academic high school subjects.

The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with the latest technology to meet the demands of each performing arts focus-area: acting, audio/visual, creative writing, dance and theater production. Notable among the many features that characterize ACT’s high school program is the opportunity to participate in numerous professional-quality performances throughout the year; enroll in college classes and earn free college credits through a partnership with Eastern Connecticut State University; and the positive school environment, based on the principles of “Respect Yourself, Respect the Work, Respect the Community.”

QMC is located on the campus of Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC) in Danielson, CT. QMC students are non-traditional, academically motivated, capable learners who are interested in designing their own learning plan and accessing a rigorous, Humanities-rich curriculum infused with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

QMC offers small class sizes, state-of-the-art classrooms and investigative experiences on EASTCONN’s Mobile STEM Lab. Every QMC student has an opportunity to earn free QVCC college credits while still in high school.

Students who are interested in enrolling in QMC for the upcoming school year may call 860-932-4040 or visit www.eastconn.org/qmc to download an application. Students interested in ACT may call 860-465-5636 or visit www.eastconn.org/act.

EASTCONN, which administers ACT and QMC, is a public, non-profit Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut’s schools and communities since 1980. Learn more at www.eastconn.org.

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ACT Student Places Top 5 Among Thousands in State Poetry Contest

Juliet Duchesnse

Willimantic - A student of EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) magnet high school has placed among the top 5 in the final round of Connecticut’s 12th Annual Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. More than 7,000 students from a record-breaking 43 Connecticut high schools participated in Poetry Out Loud this school year.

ACT senior Juliet Duchesnse of Willimantic, captivated the audience on Mar. 4, 2017, at Cheney Hall in Manchester with her recital of “Under the Vulture-Tree” by David Bottoms, “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in)” by E.E. Cummings and “The Paradox” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Connecticut Office of the Arts , produced in partnership with Connecticut Humanities, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

According to the Connecticut Humanities website, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Students who participate in Poetry Out Loud practice public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

“The most rewarding aspect of participating in this competition is how much growth I’ve made through the preparation. I have built confidence, and further developed my understanding of poetry and love for the poetic form,” said Duchesnse. “It has been so rewarding to put in the amount of work I did and be recognized for doing so. I had a lot of fun.”

Duchesnse plans to attend college at University of Maine at Farmington this fall and aspires to teach English and creative writing at the secondary or post-secondary level.

 “The process for preparing students to recite involves selecting poems they connect with, researching background on the lives and inspirations of the poets, and then practicing memorization and participating in performance workshops,” said ACT Creative Writing teacher John Wetmore. “The goal is to help students develop a strong understanding of the poem, as well as work on skills like diction and articulation—as both are key components for the judging of the competition.”

Twelve ACT students in the advanced poetry course at ACT participated in the school-wide competition.

ACT, a performing arts magnet high school, is now recruiting academically motivated students who will enter grades 9-12 in the 2017-2018 school year. Students have daily access to creative experiences through a rigorous curriculum that integrates the performing arts with more traditional academic high school subjects. Visit www.eastconn.org/act to learn more or download an application.

EASTCONN, which administers ACT, is a public, non-profit Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut schools and communities since 1980.

 

 

 
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18 ACT Writing Students Honored in Regional Contest; 5 Move on to Nationals

Willimantic – Eighteen students at EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) magnet high school have won 26 awards for their writing and poetry from the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a prestigious national program that has supported teenagers’ artistic development since 1923. ACT received the second highest number of awards in the state of Connecticut, behind Rockville High School in Vernon.

“The number of students recognized for their work is evidence of their dedication to their art and the quality of instruction they receive at ACT,” said ACT Principal Sarah Mallory.

Five of ACT’s 18 student winners earned 7 Gold Key Awards, Scholastic’s highest honor, in the first round of regional writing competitions among Northeastern states. ACT’s Gold Key winners are junior India Arriola, Hampton, for her poetry; senior Shannon Gorman, Plainfield, for her writing portfolio; freshman Frankie McGinley, Ashford, for his poetry; junior Mae Santillo, Lebanon, for her poetry; and senior Vivi Sun, Norwich, winner of 3 Gold Key awards for her poetry, a humor piece  and portfolio. Their works will now compete with regional Scholastic Gold Key winners from across the United States. Winners of the national Gold Key Awards will be announced later this spring.

"The Scholastic contest is a big opportunity because it helps provide motivation and a surge in writing,” said ACT Creative Writing teacher John Wetmore. “I am happy that our students received awards, but I am most proud of the process the writers went through to revise and polish their pieces so that they could submit their best work.” All of ACT’s Scholastic winners take Wetmore’s Creative Writing classes.

Other ACT students whose work was honored by Scholastic with Silver Keys and Honorable Mentions include: junior William Beaudry, Willimantic, poetry; junior Alex Castro, Hebron, poetry; freshman Rachel Charron, Plainfield, poetry and short story; senior Juliet Duchesne, Willimantic, poetry and flash fiction; junior Grace Ellis, Norwich, poetry; sophomore Aracelis Gomez, Norwich, personal essay; junior DJ Hettinger, Willimantic, short story; sophomore Jordan Pelletier, Amston, poetry; senior Sammi Rain, Rogers, poetry; freshman Nayeli Ramos, Willimantic, poetry; sophomore Carson Rice, Moosup, poetry and short story; freshman Sonya Surface, Willimantic, poetry; and senior Michael Williams, Andover, poetry.

EASTCONN’s ACT arts magnet high school enrolls students in grades 9-12 from northeastern Connecticut. Located in EASTCONN’s historic Capitol Theater in downtown Willimantic, ACT offers small classes and a rigorous, standards-based curriculum with an emphasis on the arts and developing students’ artistic talents.

To learn more about ACT or its Creative Writing program, contact ACT Principal Sarah Mallory at 860-465-5636 or visit www.eastconn.org/act. ACT is a magnet high school administered by EASTCONN, a public, non-profit, Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut schools and communities since 1980.


The 93-year-old Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S., and the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers. Begun as a small writing contest with six winning applicants in 1923, the contest today draws entries nearly 320,000 works of art and writing in 29 categories from students in grades 7-12 across the U.S. Top winners have access to more than $3.5 million in scholarships. Winners also earn an opportunity to exhibit and/or publish their work. The Awards are presented on behalf of Scholastic by the non-profit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers (www.artandwriting.org).

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Praise for ACT Portfolio-Based Education Pilot

Now in its second year, an innovative educator evaluation pilot at one of EASTCONN’s magnet high schools has drawn praise from teachers and administrators alike, who say they are pleased with the program’s results, and in particular, with its teacher portfolio component.

Two years ago, EASTCONN implemented professional portfolios as a new option within its Professional Learning and Evaluation Plan, which was designed to align with state requirements, and create pathways for the continuous learning and advancement of teachers throughout their careers. The EASTCONN Plan represented EASTCONN’s commitment to incorporating current, high-quality research into the creation of professional learning opportunities that improve teacher practice and student outcomes. At the plan’s heart are teacher portfolios, a tool that can help track professional progress over time.

Educators at EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) arts magnet high school in downtown Willimantic chose to pilot the portfolio evaluation plan, which aligns well with the reflective, analytical and research-based components of Connecticut’s TEAM program, which supports and helps retain new teachers.

 “The original EASTCONN plan required a lot of filling-in of boxes and plugging-in of data that would be used to calculate a final, summative rating of a teacher’s practice,” said Toni Ryan, Ed.D., EASTCONN’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment and Accreditation. 

“But we found that teachers didn’t feel like they had a connection to the whole evaluation process. It was something they had to get through. With this pilot, teachers feel much more connected to the purpose of evaluation, and to their own desire to enhance their professional practice through an evaluation system. For our teachers, it’s not about that number at the end, it’s about ‘What have I learned,’ ‘How did I improve my practice?,’ ‘How did I improve my students’ outcomes?’ and ‘Where do I go from here?’ The portfolio helps them answer those questions.” 

According to Ryan, teacher portfolios have helped create a sense of ownership among ACT teachers, as they build a professional repository of information related to their practice, and track the research they’ve done and the progress both they and their students have made over time. 

“The portfolio evaluation process has allowed me to provide much more targeted feedback to teachers regarding goals that they have for their own practice and for their students,” said Sarah Mallory, ACT’s principal. “We’re able to brainstorm and research specific instructional strategies to try in the classroom and they’re able to reflect on these trials in their portfolios. This process encourages risk-taking, growth and reflection on the part of teachers and their students, and has the added benefit of creating an artifact (the portfolio), which teachers can use as a resource down the road.”

 “It results in a much richer conversation,” Ryan said. “The observation moves away from an isolated data point, a moment in time, to something that has a very purposeful connection to an educator’s professional goals.”  

“The portfolio was easy and useful,” said ACT math teacher Marcia LoRicco, a pilot participant. “I collected work as I went along.  At the end, I was able to look back on the work and write a reflection. It was all physically right in front of me, and I could see both my growth and my students’ growth … With the portfolio, I could go through the domain, step by step, and easily find what applied and what didn’t. I did not have to click, link by link, to remind myself what I had uploaded,” she said, referring to the traditional, platform-based evaluation process.

“I think that the use of portfolios has been extremely helpful in the evaluation process,” said ACT science teacher Rebecca Weir. “It has helped me develop my questions better and given me an opportunity to see the research process and development of my goal. I think that it is also much better to actually be able to see the changes in student work instead of just quantifying data and putting it into a spreadsheet.” 

Ryan said EASTCONN’s ACT evaluation pilot still requires teacher observations. But teachers can ask observers to focus on specific aspects of their practice that are related to their portfolios. Post-observation conferences provide a forum for discussing aspects of the professional practice rubric, and for reflecting on goals.

Learn more about the ACT portfolio pilot from Toni Ryan at tryan@eastconn.org

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