US Blazer Buzz 10 Nov

This week's highlight: Intermezzo

Improved access to freshwater resources for all was the issue at hand when the upper school United Nations convened over two days during fall intermezzo. Negotiations were off to a rocky start on day one as war broke out between several member nations, but bitter feelings were put aside and a resolution was passed by the end of Friday's summit. There were also chocolate chip pancakes, so the event was a win on all levels.

As is tradition, Intermezzo 2014 started off with breakfast on Thursday morning before students entered into a discussion on the goals, structure, and effectiveness of the United Nations. After all upper schoolers were divided into groups representing one of ten countries, all got to work researching their respective country's history, culture, economy, and politics and dividing up individual duties. Students barely had a chance to slip into their roles when war broke out, with countries splitting into two alliances and taking to the soccer field to settle their grievances in a game of Human Stratego.

On day two, countries were forced to put aside bitter feelings from the war as they sat down at the table together to address the challenge of providing all citizens of the world with access to uncontaminated freshwater. Negotiations were tense as countries sought alliances and lobbied on behalf of their own resolutions and for the benefit of friends and neighbors. Over the course of the day, ten resolutions became five, five became three, and after some fierce debate the resolution put forth by Pakistan and The People's Republic of Bangladesh won a majority of votes. Once again, in this our seventh intermezzo, our students showed themselves to be champions of collaboration and compromise.

US Blazer Buzz 27 Oct

This week's highlight: Princeton's Footnotes Perform at Woodlawn

A capella is everywhere, it seems -- and this past weekend, some of the best a capella singers in the country gave a private concert at Woodlawn School. The all-male Princeton Footnotes, founded in 1959 at Princeton University, have performed for U.S. presidents and fashion designers, at baseball stadiums, and for millions on NBC television's "The Sing Off." Some of the young men just happen to be friends with Woodlawn alumna Tori Rinker '12, who's now a junior at Princeton -- and whose father, Mark, himself was a Footnote back in the early 1980's. Fast forward to last Saturday: Tori introduced her Footnote friends, who then performed about a dozen songs, including crowd favorites "Royals," "Bang Bang," and "I Want You Back." Between the Footnotes' two sets, Woodlawn's own Trebleblazers performed "Problem" -- and received a standing ovation from the Footnotes. Another highlight: when the Footnotes invited Mark to sing with them, and then serenaded Tori with the Footnotes' original ""All I Ask For." Woodlawn was the first stop for the Footnotes' fall tour, said singer Teddy Chow, a sophomore tenor from Hong Kong. He says that the friendships the Footnotes have formed have been simply incredible. "The level of commitment that we all have toward making good music -- that just keeps us going." As for Tori, she was thrilled to be back to visit Woodlawn. "It was so nice to drive back and see the campus. There's definitely a little bit of me that's still here." Huge thanks to the Rinkers for providing refreshments after the concert -- and for bringing the Footnotes to Woodlawn!

Written by Amelia Woodall.

US Blazer Buzz 20 Oct

This week's highlight: Woodall Participates in Teen Council

This past weekend, I was able to be a part of an experience that changed my life and that will change the future of a local foundation’s Teen Council. A Giving Spirit Foundation (AGSF) is a nonprofit organization that gives money to mothers in the greater Lake Norman area who have been diagnosed with a debilitating disease (i.e. ALS or cancer); the money goes to help pay for their medical and utility bills, as well as rent, so these mothers can focus on their own families. The AGSF Teen Council was formed in November 2013, and since has raised over $12,000 to give as grants to these women. Being a member of the Teen Council has not only further taught me how to be a leader, and how to have successful fundraisers that better someone’s life, but has also offered me amazing opportunities like the one I attended last weekend.

In addition to supporting local women, AGSF also is partnered with Project A.L.S. and the ALSA (ALS Association) and donates money to them to fund for ALS research. ALS is disease that weakens the motor neurons in muscles, which causes the communication from the brain to the muscles to stop over time. Project A.L.S. was started in 1998 when Jenifer Estess was diagnosed with ALS. She and two of her sisters, Valerie and Meredith, sat down and created Project A.L.S., now a multimillion dollar organization which funds stem cell research at its own lab at Columbia University in NYC. The sisters enticed scientists to work together to find a cure and more information rather than doing their own independent studies on the unknown disease. The Estess sisters have been involved with the New York lifestyle, and theatre, their whole lives, and they grew up with and became friends with many celebrities that are well known today, like Ben Stiller and Katie Couric.

This fall, the AGSF Teen Council was invited by Larry Tarica, a board member of Project A.L.S, to attend this year’s gala. Being asked to attend meant the possible involvement of Project A.L.S, Valerie and Meredith Estess, and many other determined philanthropists in what our foundation has to offer. And, that is just what it gave us. I, along with the rest of the Teen Council, was able to meet these amazing people and talk with them about what we have done and are planning on doing with the Teen Council. I learned much information about what is going on with ALS research and saw philanthropy at its finest. I was able to practice speaking to influential and powerful people, and even managed to get Ben Stiller to tweet about AGSF and the Teen Council! After the event, we toured the Columbia University stem cell research lab, learned about what is being done there, and met up with Valerie and Meredith. They told us how they were “getting older, and need the younger generation to learn more about what ALS is” and how they were "placing their hope in us." The Teen Council was given representation by Project A.L.S. to educate and spread awareness throughout the teenage community by collaborating with Project A.L.S., and by helping them come up with event ideas that would interest “the younger generation." This was an unforgettable experience. Meeting these people and learning about what has been discovered has truly altered my perspective on service, and on fundraising, for the better.

US Blazer Buzz 13 Oct

This week's highlight: Varsity Athletics

2014-15 is Woodlawn's inaugural year as part of the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA) and North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) as a 1A school, and our varsity programs are already turning heads.

The varsity boys cross country team heads into the SPAA conference championship meet this Thursday as the favorite, after an impressive winning performance in the October 2 conference meet.  Led by sophomore Quinn Schneider '17, the team hopes to take home the SPAA title and then prepare for the NCISAA state championship meet on October 24.

On Tuesday, the varsity volleyball team takes on Carmel Christian in the first round of the SPAA conference tournament.  Having defeated Carmel Christian twice during the regular season, the Lady 'Blazers hope to advance to the semi-finals next Thursday.  A conference title would qualify the 'Blazers for the NCISAA state tournament next week.

And finally, the varsity boys soccer team advanced to the semi-finals of the SPAA conference tournament last Thursday with a 5-2 upset of United Faith Christian Academy.  The Trailblazers went down early to the United Faith Falcons by a score of 2 - 0 at the half. A second half goal from Jack Hager '19 put the 'Blazrs within one, but the Falcons quickly netted a third goal to go up 3-1.  With minutes to go, Hank Grzeszczak '19 struck from just inside the 18 yard box, and just before the whistle blew, Drew Hedrick '16 worked his way across the top of the box and curled one inside the upper right corner of the goal.  Headed into overtime with a great swing in momentum, the 'Blazers kept steady pressure, but neither team scored in two 10-minute extra periods.  The game went to penalty kicks.  Standing shoulder to shoulder and arm in arm at midfield, the team looked on as Nick Trovato '19 saved 3 out of the 4 penalty shots he faced and Wesley Neal '19, Hank Grzeszczak '19, and Jack Hager '19 put away their shots to propel Woodlawn into the SPAA conference tournament semifinals!

US Blazer Buzz 29 Sept

This week's highlight: Twelfth Night

Dig it: The first upper school field trip of the 2014-2015 was far out, man. 

This is not to say that we went a long distance. In fact, we went just down the road to see Davidson Community Players' Connie Company perform Twelfth Night Unplugged, at the Armour Street Theatre. In this adaptation by director Wrenn Goodrum, the popular Shakespeare comedy was set in 1969, where the Bard's resilient tale of long lost siblings and mistaken identity was set against the backdrop of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The groovy synthesis of lovestruck suitors and exuberant hippies made for a unique take and some clever staging, with the audience treated to highlights from the festival’s soundtrack in between moments of Elizabethan mirth. 

Two Trailblazers were key players in the production: Senior Emily Dyckman portrayed the long lost Olivia, separated from her family and swallowed by the sea of revelers attending the three days of peace and music. The only male actor in the production, junior Spencer Gazzaway, took on the role of the ambitious steward Malvolio. We'll never see a pair of yellow tights again without thinking of Spencer.

It's always great to see our students both on stage and packing the house, and this was a welcome reason to get off campus as a group for an afternoon.