Chorus receives high ratings at MPA

BY ZOE BIRGER Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 2.18.06 PM

Chorus attended Music Performance Assessments (MPA) at Monarch High School and Cypress’ four choirs received superior ratings. They will be attending Florida Choral States competition in April at American Heritage High School.

Junior Katherine Miller said she loved watching all the schools perform and had a good time.

“Cypress Bay sang first before everyone else which was really cool,” Miller said. “We got to watch all the other performances and it was really fun.”

The Bay performed the songs “Poor Man Lazarus” by Jester Hairson and “Dance on my Heart” by Allen Koepke.

“I think there are so many talented people in Cypress’ choir and we all sounded really amazing together,” Miller said. “We deserved the scores we got.”

At competitions, students must go through three different activities. First they warm up, then perform on stage, and then they must sight read, which is where the students read music they’ve never seen before and they have to use skills from class in order to perform the music.

“It’s not just performing songs, it is showing people that you’ve learned how to read music, so it’s a neat experience,” chorus adviser Brad Franks said.

At the States competition in April at American Heritage, around 60 choirs from around South Florida will be attending.

“There can be multiple choirs from just one school,” Mr. Franks said. “There are four choirs just from Cypress that will be attending. I’m extremely excited to go to our states competition.”


Print Friendly

Read the full story

Horror movies enjoyed year-round by teachers, students


When spring break starts, sophomore James DuPre plans on having fun and relaxing while enjoying a spooky evening by watching his favorite horror movies.

“I’m actually thinking that doing a movie marathon with some friends would be pretty fun,” DuPre said. “Watching old horror movies is always the best though, because those are actually filled with lots of suspense and can really scare you sometimes.”

DuPre is not the only who finds watching horror movies fun; other students share his opinion and find other ways to enjoy the horror genre, even when Halloween is nowhere in sight.

“The reason I like watching horror movies is that I think that it’s kind of interesting to be able to see things that can’t be explained but still happen anyway,” said sophomore Ashley Ryskind. “I like to pay attention to the small details, so that I know what’s really going on.”

A few popular scary movies that are considered great classics from horror fans include The Shining (1980), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Carrie (1974), and most recently the Conjuring (2013).

“’The Conjuring’ was pretty cool,” sophomore Amanda Nilsson said. “The plot was great, with a lot of suspense, and the special effects definitely spooked me out a lot in many scenes.”

Sophomore Christina Oliveira said she prefers to read horror through Internet sites narrating haunting folktales, disturbing memoirs, and eerie short stories to a the teenage population.

“It’s much worse when you’re reading horror,” Oliveira said. “It’s hard to explain – like riding a roller coaster because you feel excited and you don’t want stop because you want to know what is going to happen next. Reading it at night is fun, but it’s 10 times as scary!”

AP Psychology teacher Cecilia Fonseca said that there is a scientific explanation as to why people may feel compelled to frighten themselves further and expose themselves to fictional situations that are more capable of scaring them.

“Biologically, we are ‘programmed’ to fear certain things which our ancestors may have considered dangerous,” Mrs. Fonseca said. “Somehow, that made it into our DNA and helped us survive.”

Pre-Calculus Honors teacher Mrs. Amy Bass is an example of how although there are adults who enjoy their favorite shows or movies in the horror genre, they may also take the added precautions to tone down the big fear factors included in their entertainment.

“My favorite shows are ‘The Following,’ ‘American Horror Story,’ and ‘Penny Dreadful’,” she said. “But, I think [TV] has gone a bit too overboard. Sometimes I need fast forward some parts, because it gets too scary for me.”

Mrs. Fonseca said teens may like horror because they feel a natural urge to be daredevils.

“I think this has more to do with age than anything else,” Mrs. Fonseca said. “When I was younger, I used to love thrills, whether they were roller coasters, driving over the speed limit, or watching horror movies. I like my life much slower paced now, probably because I am more aware of my own mortality.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Junior stays passionate about acting


Jordan Keller has been acting since she was 6, and she has loved it ever since.

Keller, a junior, got involved in a drama program outside of school called Nadine Shapiro’s Broadway Artists Alliance with her friends and said it was the start to a passion that she would have for the rest of her life.

“I decided to become an actress because I love to become a different character,” Keller said. “It’s a very fun and creative way to express yourself.”

Keller said she remembers her first play like it was yesterday.

“My first show was ‘Grease’ in 2005. I remember loving the spotlight. I had so much fun and fell in love with theater,” Keller said.

Even though she has been in 11 musicals, Keller said the biggest role she has ever gotten was in the play “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat,” where she played the narrator.

“It was such a fun role to play and also very challenging because the whole show is narrated in song by the narrator,” she said.

This past summer, she got accepted into a Broadway program in New York City for three weeks called the Broadway Artists Alliance. Only 50 people got into the program, though about 1,000 applied.

“It was an outstanding experience and I learned so much,” Keller said. “I was able to work with huge people in the industry and actually performed for talent agents and casting directors for Broadway shows including Bob Cline casting, Nickelodeon, Telsey and Company and more.”

Over the summer, Keller also got to perform in front of her idol, Sierra Boggess, who is a famous American theater actress and singer who is in “The Phantom of the Opera.” Boggess is someone Keller aspires to be like one day.

“She is an outstanding actress and such a cool person,” Keller said. “I don’t think I have ever been more nervous in my life.”

Keller’s mom, Jennifer Keller, said she loves watching Jordan light up the stage.

“I am very proud of all the hard work that she has put in over the years to get where she is now,” Mrs. Keller said. “I am excited to see what the future holds for her.”

In the future, Keller said she plans to go to college and be involved in her school’s musical theater program.

“I then will plan to move to New York and work hard to follow my dreams of being on Broadway,” she said.

Keller is also involved in AMT and the drama club at the Bay. She is excited for her new role of playing Belle in AMT’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.” The show will be April 8-10.

“I am so excited for the show, I have been practicing like crazy,” Keller said.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Art Honor Society hosts annual Style Your Sole event



Print Friendly

Read the full story

Trying out ‘Trio': Q&A with creator of new social media app

Imagine putting a movie clip, song and photo together with one tap. That’s what Trio does. The iPhone app, released in the App Store on March 4, allows users to put their creativity to the test by remixing content from all aspects of the media world (from GIFs to videos to iTunes music) and turn them into mashup videos. The app comes from Meograph, Inc., a company based in San Francisco devoted to creating multimedia stories. The Circuit’s Online Managing Editor Jennifer Schonberger spoke on the phone about the new app with Meograph CEO Misha Leybovich: MIT rocket scientist, former UC Berkley student body president, Guinness World Records finalist and world traveler who aims to help technology change the world.

[caption id="attachment_6484" align="alignright" width="333"]Trio founders CEO Misha Leybovich (left) and CTO Clay Garrett (right) Trio founders CEO Misha Leybovich (left) and CTO Clay Garrett (right)[/caption]

Where did the idea come from and how did you get involved?

We’ve been working on Trio for about a year, but our company has been around for almost three years. Trio is an outgrowth of our previous products. We had to learn along the way what makes for a good product – what makes it easy to create but also interesting to consume. As far as where the idea came from, I graduated college in 2005 and spent the next seven years traveling to about 70 countries. During my travels, I collected a lot of media: images, video clips, sound bytes. I was always looking for interesting ways to tell stories, and I would play with bringing in other assets that weren’t my own to remix in. After doing this just as a hobby, I realized it was really fun but also that it was really hard to actually create something. I wanted to make a tool that made it really easy, so that set the company in motion.

What was the process of creating the app like?

It took tons of different experiments. The reason the app took a year isn’t because it actually took a year to code. A lot of it was just iteration. You need to play with constraints, like how Twitter has 140 characters and Vine has 6 seconds. We played with that for a long time. How many pieces of media should be allowed? What things are mandatory and what things are optional? When you look at a simple consumer app, it feels simple but only because so much thought and effort has gone into it. You always want things to move faster, but I’m glad that we had the process that we did because it turned into something great.

What makes Trio different from other popular social media apps?

The primary thing is that you can be creative without having to capture a lot of assets yourself. There are a lot of products out there that say “Hey, you just went on vacation. Take your photos and turn them into a video.” The fact of the matter is that most of us are not on vacation all the time. I can be creative and funny and clever any time of day, but the assets need to come from somewhere. So that’s what we set out to solve – how to put the world of popular media at someone’s fingertips and let them have a playground to express themselves in different ways.

Trio-ScreenshotsWhat qualities will make Trio popular?

For the creators, you have to make the content easy to create. On the other side, for consumers, it’s got to be interesting and entertaining. Being a mashup product, we have to think about the original content owners and make sure that they’re taken care of. We’re relying on other people’s content to fuel the inputs for our content. We do linked attribution, meaning that when you tap on Trio, you see all the assets used, who made it and where it came from, and then there’s a link to go to that asset. If it’s an Instagram or a Vine, it’ll bring you directly into that app, to that post or user. If it’s a movie or video or music clip, it takes you to iTunes where you can buy it if you want to. Here’s a crazy stat so far just based on our beta tests: when you use music on Trio and tap on the music icon, it brings you to iTunes and tells you what song it is. The percentage of people who then buy that song from that link is 35 percent, which is crazy. This is a strong win-win. The consumers get what they want, and the artist gets to sell more music.

Did you have to get rights from the brands that are being used for mashups?

Most of our content comes from public APIs such as Instagram, Giphy or iTunes. They give us access to use their content and they want that to happen. With things like movie clips, fair use comes into play where we can use copyrighted work as long as certain conditions are met. Not only do we not compete with the original, but we also drive sales to the original content, which is great for them. For instance, you might have not seen “Wedding Crashers” in years, but now you saw a clip of it and remembered how funny it was and then you’re one tap away from buying it.

Do you expect there to be any popular themes in what the mashups are about?

There are lots of tributes where people take their favorite celebrity like Harry Styles or Ariana Grande and put a bunch of GIFs and clips of them. People use their favorite sports clips or clips of favorite movies to create highlight-reel type things. There are a lot of funny juxtapositions, like two movie clips that don’t belong next to each other. It can fit whatever suits you best. When you first open the app and consume content, you start with a ‘yes or no’ page. What’s cool about that is that every time someone watches a Trio, we get data. We always surface the best content possible that most people like. As we get more sophisticated, we’ll be able to tell users, “Other people like you like this kind of content.”

What is the purpose of the Challenges tab on the app?Trio icon and wordmark white on purple

You know how trends like the Ice Bucket Challenge and Harlem Shake were successful. We analyzed what made these things work, and it’s that people creating content pick a topic and have a formula so that everyone knows exactly what to do. You sort of have a friendly competition and see who can do it the best and the funniest. We put up a Challenges feature so that everyone can create content around a particular theme. We want that to solve the problem of inspiration, when you don’t know what to create in the first place or don’t have any ideas. You can search what Challenges there are and see what to create from that.

What kind of role do you think Trio could have in exploring different forms of creative expression?

When you look at other apps right now, they’re all about you using the camera on your phone to take photos or selfies. There’s a notion of this success theater that people are almost doing things just so that they can show it on social media and it gets really tiring. People feel like they always have to look good or say, “Look at this good place that I’m eating at,” or “Look at this place where I’m traveling.” With us, it’s a new form of creativity. People still want to be liked by their friends and want social engagement, and that doesn’t change. But to be able to do it based on the strength of your wit and of your humor is a whole different kind of thing and is much more accessible.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Review: Teen movie is a twist to a classic story


“The DUFF,” released on Feb. 20, gives a makeover to a classic movie scenario involving an outcast named Bianca (Mae Whitman) who tires to fit in with the help of a popular mentor. The director, Ari Sandel, who is also known for directing “West Bank Story” (2005) and “Kadaddi Goes Hollywood” (2011), does a great job illustrating the point that people should look at others for who they are, not their appearance.

Bianca has two best friends who are the most popular, prettiest girls in school, Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca Santos). When Bianca attends a party, she discovers from her neighbor Wes (Robbie Amell) that she is the Designated Ugly Fat Friend (DUFF) of the friend group. Bianca is the most ignored friend in the group and the gatekeeper for those interested in her more desirable pals.

Bianca sets out to rectify her situation by getting rid of Jess and Casey and enlisting Wes to renovate her life by helping her talk to boys and climb up the social ladder. Bianca spends a lot of time with Wes, but she has to watch out for his evil ex- girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne), who is extremely jealous of the duo and tries to ruin Bianca’s name. Bianca tries to make her social status better and overthrow Madison.

The acting is amazing. All of the actors do a great job executing their roles in a believeable fashion. Most notably, Mae Whitman does an excellent job at portraying Bianca by showing raw emotion in her character. The best thing about the movie is that it gives people an understanding of how mean others can be in school and how to deal with that situation.

It seems that Sandel made the film to exhibit how Bianca’s dilemma isn’t one about figuring out how to fix personal failings, but how to embrace who she is while still branching out in order to become an even better version of her true self. “The DUFF” is a great teen movie that is relatable and fun to watch.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Review: Travel back in time with the Renaissance fair


The 23rd annual Renaissance Festival, at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach, truly sends visitors back in time. From morning to evening, the shows and interactive games captivate the attention of people of all ages. Guests still have a chance to experience the festivities from 10 a.m to sundown for $21 until March 15.

The Middle Age theme is apparent as soon as visitors first step out of the car in the parking lot. Carts pull up, with the driver in full medieval costume, to transport guests to the entrance to purchase tickets. Women dressed in long skirts complete with corsets and waist-cinchers use rehearsed English accents to offer guests decorative park maps.

Only a few steps into the festival, a booth is set up for people to rent costumes for the day. Men and women walking around the park in kilts and skirts create a sense of being sent back in time. The historical atmosphere is astonishingly accurate. The artwork directly correlates to the era of the rebirth. Paintings, plays, and sculptures, all for sale, depict the importance of the arts felt at the time.

Nearly every half hour, shows are put on all over the park. With over 50 different shows and demonstrations to see, crowds form to watch story readings, comedy shows, metal tool and glass making, live music, and even jousting on horseback.

The delicious scent of homemade food is pervasive. Though not really following the theme, food trucks are set up serving steaming plates of American, Mexican, and Greek dishes. Craving anything from fried Oreos to falafel served over rice, everyone’s palette can be satisfied.

Set up between activities are snack stands selling foods like fresh squeezed lemonade, turkey legs, corn on the cob, and pickles. Experiencing all of the food at the festival is part of what makes the overall atmosphere so unique.

A day at the Renaissance Festival would not be complete without taking home a souvenir to remember the day. Gift shops are open selling items such as flower crowns, wooden swords, and jewelry representing the era. Souvenirs also come in the form of body art. Henna tattoo artists offer intricate designs.

The Renaissance Festival is an enjoyable experience filled with great food, entertainment, and historical atmosphere.

Print Friendly

Read the full story

CyBay Percussion show in the works


Indoor percussion is putting together an “Art of Suspense” competition show. They are working on an advanced performance to compete around the state every Saturday at local high schools and, ultimately, to hopefully win at nationals.

“The key to this show is creating suspense by developing acrobatic skills to look like someone is being suspended and have the audience filled with suspense,” band teacher Johnathan Jadvani said.

Mr. Jadvani said indoor percussion has been part of the band program since the Bay opened in 2002.

“I wanted to keep indoor percussion going for this year because it is a very big part of the band program and students love performing it,” he said.

While rehearsing and practicing, the 27 members learn more than just music.

“Staying after school forces our members to learn time management skills. Too much free time is detrimental,” Mr. Jadvani said. “If you are always busy you can plan out your next schedule more carefully.”

He selected senior Gaby Schwein to lead the competition show. She is first female percussion captain and section leader.

“Our director sees me as the one who can lead the group the best and can really drive everyone to get better,” Schwein said.

The group, called CyBay Percussion, practices three times a week and first competes in the gyms at local high schools almost every Saturday. The band can then move on toward nationals, which takes place on March 28 in Loxahatchee, Fla.

“In the past years our group has competed in world championships in Dayton, Ohio, which was the coolest experience ever,” Schwein said.

Schwein is confident that the indoor percussion group will win this year because it has improved a tremendous amount in the past few months.

“The chances are always high for us because Cypress has one of the best scholastic percussion programs in Florida. We are working on growing as an ensemble,” Schwein said.

Being indoor percussion captain also has helped Schwein grow as a person.

“This program has helped so many kids’ character grow, including my own, and being a part of CyBay Percussion has definitely made my years in high school memorable,” she said.

Like Schwein, senior Jessica Thomas sees the many benefits gained from competing.

“I have a visual part because I don’t play an instrument. I make it interesting by doing stunts on the floor, and I stand on props,” she said.

Even though Thomas is a senior, this is her first year doing indoor percussion.

“They asked me to help out last minute with the show,” she said. “It has been a great experience working so hard with the band.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story

Review: Mexican restaurant brings more heat to Miami Beach


Lincoln Road is known for its high-end shops and upscale restaurants. When craving tacos after shopping, one should not expect anything less than gourmet. Bodega, a Mexican restaurant, can spice up any day on South Beach.

The unique tacos are what set this restaurant apart from other Mexican restaurants. The combination of unexpected ingredients such as pineapples included in salsa gives the restaurant’s food a fresh taste that ranges from sweet to spicy, depending on what is ordered. All of the food can be spicy if one chooses to use one of the three hot sauce options.

Bodega is also worth the visit for the decorations. The customer orders meals inside the restaurant through the window of a realistic food truck display. Catchy slogans are on a movie show time board above the food truck. This makes the restaurant look unique and appealing, and the food combinations such as kale and avocado salsa fit right in with the uniqueness of the decorations.

There is something for everyone, ranging between fish, pork, beef and chicken. Bodega also offers a variety of appetizers such as chips and salsa, quesadillas, and mozzarella sticks. There is a selection of Coca-Cola products offered in glass bottles or its own brand of soda from the soda fountain. They also make three hot sauces that go well with any item on the menu. Popsicles and chocolate covered frozen bananas are available for dessert, a fun option for a hot Florida day.

The food can be expensive depending on what a customer orders. One fish taco costs $4.50, but a customer can order two chicken or beef tacos for $5. A basket of chips is sold separately for $6 and does not come with any meal.

A lounge is located in the back of the restaurant for different events, with live music, a full bar and pool table. This is directed toward older customers because of the bar, but people of all ages can enjoy the restaurant at any time.

With seating inside and outside, there is more to enjoy than just the food at Bodega. The restaurant feels open because of two doors on each side that are usually kept open, and full size windows with a street view. The decorations and food work complement each other perfectly to give the restaurant a laid back and fun atmosphere.


Print Friendly

Read the full story

Novels of all genres impact adolescence



When junior Cheyenne Smith first picked up “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series in eighth grade, she knew she had found more than just a novel; she had found life lessons on growing up and dealing with adolescence.

“I read the books in the series, and they kind of just taught me to love your family no matter what because you don’t know what can change,” she said. “The books were kind of different, which is why I really liked them.”

Whether it’s a timeless classic or a more modern tale, novels can play an integral role in shaping adolescence.

English teacher Jeanne LaTrell Kielbasa teaches classic novels in her class such as “Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She said novels such as these two are filled with lessons on growing up.

“A lot of the novels that we try to share with students have adolescent type themes such as ‘Catcher in the Rye,’ which shows how depression can affect a child or an adolescent, and not wanting to grow up, yet wanting to,” Mrs. Kielbasa said. “Other books can also bring out life lessons that students can learn by.” ABG art1USE CAROLINA

Junior Beatriz Galdona said the books Ms. Kielbasa taught to her in her freshman year impacted her. The lessons she learned from these novels still resonate with her today.

“High school and adolescence in general is a time to really find yourself and discover who you are,” she said. “These novels taught me about finding my identity and how to be a better person. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is filled with so many life lessons that I still consider today, such as treating others how you want to be treated.”

Galdona said the books she has read in school are the ones that have influenced her adolescence the most.

“Every year in English class, my teachers introduce me to some fantastic novels,” she said. “Last year in 10th grade in Ms. [Joyce] Seigel’s class, I read ‘The Book Thief’ which taught me so much about life, love and family. This year, I’ve learned so much from some really mature novels such as ‘1984’ and ‘Invisible Man.’ I’ve learned that life isn’t always what it seems to be.”

Freshman Sydnie Cohen has been influenced by more modern classics such as “Harry Potter” and “Ender’s Game.”

“They have great themes in them and they explain different life lessons to me,” she said. “I learned the importance of teamwork, trust and friendship from both of these novels.”

Cohen said she thinks books show an alternate life that can prepare someone for his or her own life.

“I’ve learned to always try and that you shouldn’t give up,” she said. “Also to make sure you have a good group of friends around you, and to trust people but make sure that they are trustworthy. ‘Harry Potter’ taught me many important lessons, my favorite probably being that you can’t judge people all the time. This is best demonstrated with Snape’s story line. He originally appeared to be a villain, but was later revealed to have good intentions at times.”

Ms. Kielbasa said when she was a teen, she was influenced by “Brave New World.”

“I don’t know if it had adolescent themes,” she said, “but the ideas that were in that book were so foreign that it just peaked my interest on how the future might reveal itself.”

Smith said that no matter what the genre is, books can help anyone learn important life lessons.

“There’s always a lesson whether it’s a history book, mystery book, or a fiction book,” she said. “There’s always a life lesson behind it, so if people read it, they can look at the world in a different way.”

Smith said the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series helped her grow as a person and peaked her interest in reading.

“What I’ve learned from reading is you should respect people and you never really know what someone’s going through,” she said.

Ms. Kielbasa said she hopes the books she has taught in class have affected her students’ lives.

“Everyone who knows me knows my favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’” Ms. Kielbasa said, “and I think there’s a lot of life lessons in there. Certainly racism is a big theme, but also childhood. In ‘Catcher in the Rye’ as well, it discusses going from innocence to maturity and how it’s a difficult road. It’s comforting to know that other people have struggled and there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Print Friendly

Read the full story