THS Rises FAFSA Challenge
Torrington High School was selected to take part in the Connecticut governor’s FAFSA Challenge - a program whose purpose is to increase FAFSA completion rates of high school seniors across the state of CT by 5%.
THS's goal is to have at least 105 seniors complete the FAFSA - a goal that they have already reached. But the school is hoping to get the FAFSA completion rate back up to the pre-COVID percentage, which is around 65%, or 130 of this year's seniors.
THS received a micro-grant through this program to establish programs to increase FAFSA completion rates and to help encourage seniors to complete their FAFSA.
Why complete the FAFSA??
It would take around 2,000 hours to watch the movie Jaws 1,000 times. And yet, blogger Sasha Stone did so and relished every minute of it. This movie expert recently zoomed with THS students to discuss her love of movies and her recent Netflix episode, Summer of the Shark.
Summer of the Shark is part of the series Voir that takes a look at cinema throughout the years. Each episode features one visual essayist; each person focuses on a specific movie that was an important part of their childhood. For Stone, it was Jaws.
Ms. Sullivan, the THS teacher who organized this interview, wanted her students to have a hands-on experience in English class. Her AP students were tasked with analyzing Stone’s skillful use of rhetoric in the episode.
Bringing their questions to class, Sullivan and her students had an in-depth conversation with Stone. Specifically, Stone spoke of her stream of consciousness writing style and interest in minimalistic voice.
Rhetorical technique was not the only topic discussed in the interview, however. Stone also expressed her love of all things film and her life leading up to this point.
This obsession with movies started in her childhood. Stone explains, “I felt like I was escaping a chaotic home life to disappear into the dark movie theater for a few hours.”
From this young love, Stone realized the beauty of film. In 1999, she started her very successful Oscar blog, AwardsDaily.
She is also currently working on a novel: in a world, almost 80 years in the future, people only have the option of watching one movie.
She got the opportunity to create her Netflix episode because of her skill in writing. Pitching over 15 ideas for the show, Stone finally landed on Jaws: “it was a movie that shaped my own childhood, but also that of the producer David Fincher and the director, David Prior.”
Stone brought much of her insight of the Oscar world into the interview. She believes that blockbuster films have hurt the movie industry, with people being obsessed with making money.
Despite this ongoing problem, Stone reminded the class that we must all continue to move forward like the mighty sharks she loves.
You know the old saying, “good things come to those who wait.” THS’s own Mrs. Rowland may believe instead, “good things come to those who fight.” Rowland, a veteran of the AirForce military branch, has been loyal to this motto of the AirForce for her entire life, especially when life did not go as planned.
In her childhood, Rowland never saw herself joining the military. Even so, she loved her time on active duty and has brought much of that experience to her new career. In staying faithful to the AirForce motto, Rowland has truly “flown, fought, and won.”
Rowland had her life perfectly planned out by the 7th grade: she was going to become an interpreter at the U.N. She explains sarcastically, “When I got out of high school, I knew exactly what I was doing, as every teenager knows what they are going to do.” Life didn’t go as planned.
In her freshman year at the University of Chicago, she hit a snag. Her funding disappeared. Rowland was not able to return to college after this first year. “So now what do I do?...I had this whole life plan and now it is completely off.”
Rowland decided to fly and fight: she decided to join the AirForce. She started working in the health services administration department in Fort Dix, New Jersey. From this experience, she realized, “You can’t wait for life to fix itself or hand you something.” By having this set determination, Rowland won: she eventually met her husband and had her first child while on active duty.
Once she finished her time in the military, Rowland again fought for her future by enrolling at Central Connecticut State University. She was steadfast in becoming a teacher. However, this meant balancing a full-time job, working to earn her master's degree, and taking care of her young children at home. Nevertheless, Rowland flew through these difficulties and came out victorious.
Rowland has now been a teacher at THS for 17 years. She has taken this lesson into her new profession. She started at THS by only teaching U.S. History and American Citizenship. Wanting to teach a variety of subjects, she fought to teach new classes at THS. Now, her extensive class list includes Intro Psychology, Intro Sociology, Intro to Criminal Law, Criminal Justice, AP Psychology, and American Cit.
Rowland believes everything happens for a reason. If she had not been forced to fight for her future, she would not have chosen the Air Force, met her husband, or ended up on the teaching path.
As we finished our conversation, Rowland was happily heading out to watch her favorite hockey team with her family. She nodded, thinking back on her story, “I am where I am supposed to be.”
Raiders Doing Great Things
Welcome to THS Raider Times' newest blog: Raiders Doing Great Things!
Sophomore Selected for New England Music Festival Orchestra
Rosangel Baez-Batista, 10th grader, was recently selected to the New England Music Festival Orchestra for her outstanding skills on the cello. During auditions, she scored a perfect 140 out of 140. Great job, Rosangel!
New Exhibit Showcases THS Talent
Raider creativity is spreading throughout the school. Mr. Leger recently renovated a room in the THS library, creating an exhibit that showcases the talents of our students.
This THS teacher of 22 years came up with the idea in early October. With the encouragement of THS staff members, Leger quickly started on his mini-museum.
Leger’s two painting classes worked diligently to renovate this space that was formerly used to store AV equipment. First clearing out the shelving, THS students learned how to patch holes and paint with rolling brushes.
These painting classes are now displaying their artwork in the very space they created. Leger wants to emphasize that “this is not strictly a visual arts space, but a space meant to show off creation by any student, any teacher, any content area of the building.” He is hoping to see projects from different classes across THS, including from the math, technological education, woodworking, robotics, and graphic arts departments.
This project is almost finished. Mr. Leger plans to reveal the secret name of the gallery by putting it above the room. Staff and students can stop by the library at any time to see this creative space.
JROTC Excels at JLAB
The JROTC program is making THS proud. For the third year in a row, 6 THS cadets will be moving on to the second level of the nationwide competition, the Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB).
For Level I, teams from around the country had to complete a 1-hour test, which assessed students on JROTC, SAT/ACT-type, and current event knowledge. The cadets on the THS team included Rachel Brewer-Karimi, Mohammed Kabir, Jillian Gombos, Hollisa Liburd, Kaleb Kesl, and Olivia White. They finished the first level on November 12th, 2021.
Brewer-Karimi, third-year JROTC member and captain of the team, explained how they diligently practiced for 3-4 weeks before the competition. The team met on a weekly basis leading up to their test date. Brewer-Karimi added that, “Both the Naviance practice tests and current events trivia were instrumental in helping us to successfully complete Level I.”
Colonel Coulouras, who organized the team, explained that students met after school to practice, also using Khan Academy SAT Test Prep and NY Times News Quizzes. In this process, he wants his students to work on teamwork and standardized test preparation, but also just have fun.
The THS team plan to take the Level II test on February 11, 2022. The top 32 teams in the nation will then be moving on to the third and final round of JLAB, which will take place in Washington DC. Don’t forget to congratulate and cheer on these outstanding cadets as they prepare!
Cheerleaders Bring Raider Pride Overseas
Go Raiders! THS recently cheered on students Ivana Takeman and Kara Banche in their performance during the Pearl Harbor Parade. The two cheerleaders took the long trip to Honolulu, Hawaii to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Banche and Takemen learned a special routine along with 600 fellow cheerleaders from across the United States. Takeman thoroughly enjoyed the experience: “The opportunity to go to Hawaii and perform for people who served our country was an amazing opportunity.”
Over the summer, the THS cheerleading team attended a training camp, in which Takeman and Banche were selected for the parade team and won All American.
Banche’s favorite part of the trip “was walking in the Pearl Harbor parade and seeing how excited people get, especially the little kids smiling, waving and cheering along with us. It was such a honor to be a part of such a once in a lifetime experience.”
Takeman has been cheerleading for 10 years. Although she loves this sport, she does not plan to continue to cheer in college.
In her 9 years of cheerleading, Banche has performed in all star and school cheer. She has previously won All American in a separate year. Similar to Takeman, Banche does not plan to cheer in the future.
Raiders Football Wins Big
The THS Football team just made history. With their recent victory over Granby, the team clinched their first ever win in a playoff game.
It was a tight game, but the Raiders eventually pulled ahead, winning 39-27. Offensive lineman on the team, Mikey Iszczak states, “Being the first team to win the playoffs is an honor.” Iszczak along with running back, Sean Clinkscales, won All NVL Offense. Tyler Semonich also secured All NVL Defense as defensive back.
Come support the team in the state semifinals on December 5th at 12:30 against Rockville.
THS Theater Presents Puffs
There is magic at THS. Come see the THS Theater’s performance of Puffs: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. The play will take place on December 2, 3, and 4 at 7pm in the THS Little Theatre.
Tickets cost $5 for students and $10 for adults and will be available at the door. The play is rated PG 13, and masks are required.
Watch the magical trailer below:
Who let the dogs out? THS sophomore, Hailey Gillotti was recently awarded Best Junior Handler in the Northeast by the American Kennel Club.
With her dog Winnie, Hailey has also qualified for the Westminster Kennel Club Jr. Showmanship in NYC.
Congratulations to Hailey and Winnie on this amazing achievement.