Hall Decs 2016
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Freshman: ‘Oh, the places they’ll go!’
Freshmen showed an ambitious side as they came together to set up for their first big school competition: hall decs. They were given the task of decorating their hallway to fit the story of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” to follow the school’s theme of Dr. Seuss.
They set a high bar for themselves as they tackled not only the assigned hall, but also wrapping around the corner at the beginning as well. A large “Welcome To Cleveland” banner hung at the beginning of the hallway with streamers hanging down, to indicate that Cleveland was where the story began. It was accompanied by an “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” sign on the lockers.
The beginning of the hall was a representation of the town in the book, and it was where Alicia Sanders narrated the start of the story to the judges. Around the corner, tissue paper hung from the ceiling to indicate leaving the town, and squares of tissue paper colored the ground in a checkerboard pattern to represent the “wide open,” a blank area with that bridged the story between the town and next portion, the hot air balloons. Several small copies of the main character, the small man in the hot air balloon, were printed, cut individually, and hung on the walls. A different student decorated each one as a way to incorporate everyone into hall decs. Clouds lined the top of the hallway to go along with the balloons theme. “We wanted it to represent that you’ll go great places,” said Kira Swinth, freshman class co-president.
The hallway took a solemn turn as it entered the “slump” from the book. The slump symbolized the feeling when life doesn’t go how you want it to. To create this, the freshmen placed bean bags all over the ground and covered the walls in dark paper. Following the slump was the waiting place. “We talked about how sometimes you’re not gonna know where to go,” said Swinth. Students acted as the characters in the book who endlessly waited for various things to happen in their lives.
The narrators guided the judges out of the bleak waiting area and into the ending of the hallway where the spirit was lifted. Band members from the freshman class played a song and the judges interacted with the hallway as they played team games such as bowling and dodgeball, along with individual games, to represent that you have to work with others as well as by yourself in life. The hallway ended with a banner reading, “Congratulations! You’ve graduated!” symbolizing one step farther in life.
Ultimately, the freshmen placed third out of the four classes in judging, hallway and float combined. The class of 2020 proved a great demonstration of cooperation and leadership during hall decs as they had big plans and little idea of what to expect. “I saw people step up and do things,” said Swinth. “They just kind of found their place and worked together and talked to one another and found what needed to be done and ended up being really efficient.”
Sophomores: ‘Horton Hears a Who’
By Thursday morning, walking down sophomore hallway was like stepping straight into the pages of “Horton Hears a Who.” Hall decorations have been a beloved tradition at Cleveland for years. It’s something that the sophomores, especially those in the leadership class, had been looking forward to since the first day of school. The class cabinet and leadership class had been making maps, sketches, and blueprints since the beginning of the year, all hoping to perfectly encapsulate their theme, the Dr. Seuss story, “Horton Hears a Who.” The leadership team had spent hours working inside and outside of school, painting, designing, and building. When homecoming week finally came around, the sophomores were buzzing with excitement.
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, the leadership room was packed with kids who were ready to help. Said Sophomore co-Vice President Jennifer Singh, “Everyone was so willing to get involved and contribute what they could to create an amazing hall dec. It wasn’t just the class cabinet or leadership, it was everyone.”
The environment of the hall was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone was hard at work, but just as important, they were having a great time. Songs like “Starships,” “Bad Romance,” and “Sorry” blasted from speakers. TIffany Vo, a sophomore hall dec participant said that the most memorable part of the night “was definitely singing and dancing with my peers while preparing for hall decs, because it’s such an energetic time. These are the moments you remember about high school.”
Everyone seemed to feel that this year’s hall decs went a lot differently from last year’s. This year, the sophomores relied less on adults, and were more self-sufficient. The Sophomore co-Presidents, Nick Paesler and Gwen Kaliszewski ran the show. Said Singh, “Last year there was more of the staff helping us. This year it was all the presidents, Nick and Gwen. They did a really good job of telling everyone what needed to be done. They ran the whole night. It was all their ideas, and everything came together because of them.” The co-presidents kept their cool under pressure, and did an excellent job delegating tasks. Whether they were taping blue paper to the walls, painting cardboard boxes, or making trees, everyone had something to keep them occupied.
By the next morning, the hallway was transformed. The lockers and floor were covered with blue and white paper. Next to the lockers were the iconic “Dr. Suess” trees (the ones with the white bark and red fluff on the top) which had been meticulously taped to the ground. On the walls were clouds with excerpts written on them. “We really stayed true to the colors or ‘Horton Hears a Who,’” said Paesler. In the center of the wall was a curtain made from blue paper, dividing the two sections of the hall. The other half of the hallway was mostly dark. Lined up and down were little boxes painted blue, which represented the houses of Whoville. Windows were cut into the boxes. Fairy lights were stuffed inside, creating a warm, yellow glow from within the houses. At the very end of the hall was a large, handmade recreation of the cover.
The sophomores were shocked to have gotten fourth place in the hall decoration competition. “Most of us were annoyed. We thought we had done better than that,” said Addie Carroll, a member of the leadership class. Eric Levine, one of the five hall dec judges, said that the sophomores were probably marked down for a short hallway and a lack of interaction, but he can’t know how they were scored by the other judges. He explained that while most productions and interactions with the judges ran seven to ten minutes throughout the other halls, the sophomores ran for about two. “Gorgeous, but fast,” he said.
Even though they didn’t use as much of the hallway as they could have, Levine didn’t see that as necessarily a bad thing. “Sophomores had a beautiful hall. I think something should be said for the high quality of what you guys presented.”
Despite having gotten fourth place in the hall decorations competition, all of the sophomores were proud of their work. In fact, many of them believed that they deserved to have won. Whatever the score, they had an amazing time transforming the hallway. Said Kaliszewski, “The atmosphere felt really happy and motivated. And that’s honestly what it’s about, just having fun.”
Juniors: ‘Cat in the Hat’
On Thursday, Oct. 13, many Cleveland students walked into another world as they entered the class of 2018’s hallway. What many don’t realize, however, is the amount of work and planning hall decs takes.
“I love hall decs,” said Oscar Dierker. “We have a lot of returning experienced staff which helped us win second last year.”
Overnight, the juniors transformed a dark hallway into a land of imagination and careful planning representing the classic book, “The Cat In the Hat,” using an array of props, talent and skill, and plenty of paper.
“The junior class is working really hard to represent who they are and to have the best hallway,” said junior hall decs adviser Kaley Hambleton during hall decs work night. “The students are really showing enthusiasm to win this year.”
Many students worked hard throughout the evening and the next morning and did not stop working on the project. “Our time and effort is going to help us win this year,” said Grace Calabrese, the night before the vote. The students this year were less reliant on adults and advisors and were more focused on their own ideas and designing.
By Thursday morning, the junior class’s hallway was transformed into a well-done version of the book with a house of shades of blue and red, props, along with acting from the participating juniors.
While the juniors didn’t get first like they hoped, they got a very impressive second place, scoring 18 points total behind the senior class.
“What set the juniors behind the seniors for me was the overall presentation of their hallway,” said Eric Levine, hall decs judge. “I think the senior acting was just over the juniors.”
Overall, the juniors were very happy with their success and are looking forward to winning next year. “However, this was our last year to win and have it mean something,” said Dierker. “Next year with our skills and talent, we will have the win no matter what.”
Seniors: ‘The Lorax’
After finishing last only a year ago, the senior class turned away their hall decoration demons with a transportative rendition of Dr. Seuss’s classic, “The Lorax,” to capture gold.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Senior Class President Emma Rozman on her class’s startling turnaround. “I’m very proud of everyone who participated and everyone in class cabinet.”
The class used a combination of well-done props, special performances, and a knack for storytelling to outshine the competition. The hook of their performance was a classroom setting, complete with desks and elementary-level drawings of flowers hung on the walls. A teacher, played by Vaughn Martin, opened up the performance by reading his class of inquisitive students the beginning of “The Lorax.”
From there, the judges and audience went through a streamer-filled doorway to find themselves immersed in the Seuss world. The house of the Once-ler greeted people at the doorway, promising to take the judges back to “the good times” if they placed the nail and pennies in his bucket. They complied and moved on to the next stage of the performance.
Fluffy truffula trees, upbeat music, and dancing bears painted a picture of a happy forest brimming with life. The bear dance, choreographed and performed by Sundancers Kylie Haney, Hannah Proctor, Anna Litchman, and Alex Larson–who all performed a dance in last year’s hall decs–was a show-stealer and bonafide judge-pleaser. “It’s always great performing in front of the judges because no matter what we do they have a great time and it’s not something you see very often. We bring something unique to the table for our grade,” said Litchman.
Then the show took a dramatic turn as the Once-ler’s exploitation of the forest led to destruction. In front of his factory, the Once-ler, played with great bravado by Simon Brown, had an animated standoff with the Lorax, played by Jonas Beard. The happy bears from the scene before became sick and hungry, and the students dressed in bird costumes up above the locker wells had to fly away. As the judges came to the final scene of the show, a deserted forest filled with 48 bags of actual dirt, narrator Max Friedenwald-Fishman perfectly delivered the long, thought-provoking final passage of the book. The class’s prop usage and judge-involvement earned them major points in these final two scenes. They had student-knitted “thneeds,” tree stumps, and encouraged the judges to axe down the Truffula trees with the Once-ler as well as plant a seed in the deserted forest.
Later on at halftime of the homecoming football game, the senior float was represented by scooters and bikes to stay true to the message of eco-friendliness promoted by The Lorax. The senior class went nuts when it was announced they won first place. From fourth to first, the class finished their redeeming comeback. “It’s a new feeling, being on top,” finished Litchman.