Performing Arts Thrive at Northwood

This is the second in a series of articles to explore the arts at Northwood. Here we look at music and performing arts, while the previous story features visual arts.

The student and faculty talent showcase held on April 25th represented a variety of interests of the Northwood community from singing and dancing to stand-up comedy and improvisational theater. Fourteen acts, consisting of students and teachers, captivated the packed auditorium crowd. Event organizers hope that the talent showcase is a successful start to a series of annual performing arts shows.

“Ms. Sanford and I initially wanted to organize [the showcase] for students who weren’t in music classes,” commented Mr. Michael Portal, a music teacher at Northwood. “But then we also figured that it would be nice to add some variety to our band and guitar classes. I think that this event was a great opportunity for those who performed and for the audience as well,” said Portal. “Everyone seemed to enjoy the acts.”

Owen Pierce ‘21 played the violin in the talent show as a part of the band class. “I used to play the violin in an orchestra back when I lived in Baltimore,” said Pierce. “I’ve been in county showcases before, and the student talent showcase at Northwood was a very unique experience for me. [The performance] was on a much smaller scale than what I am used to, but at the same time, I did feel kind of uncomfortable because I’ve always played my violin with other people in the orchestra,” he said. “Overall, it was really fun, and I can’t wait to experiment with more songs and play them in front of people,” said Pierce.

Northwood tends to have a competitive culture, and the talent showcase featured prizes for the top acts. “Northwood kids tend to be competitive, and it was great to see how they competed against each other in arts,” said Ms. Noël Carmichael, the Ninth Grade Class Dean who also helped organize the event. “Next year, the art department is looking forward to expanding the talent showcase to also incorporate visual arts so that it can be more of a mixed media presentation rather than just music,” added Carmichael.

At Northwood, students develop their abilities to communicate their artistic visions not only through performances open to all levels, such as the Northwood Cafe open-mic events and the talent showcase but also through daily practices. The school offers a total of five music classes — Band, Guitar, Advanced Guitar, Music Recording, and Vocal Performance — and students are welcome to tap into the knowledge and skills of the Northwood performing arts faculty to learn new instruments, create their own music, sing, and so on. The courses explore various musical techniques, including classical and contemporary repertoires, and teach students to apply them to different genres like jazz, soul, rock, and pop.

Northwood School requires students to three trimesters (or one full year) of art, but many choose to take many more than the minimum graduation requirement.

Many students learn to play the guitar for the first time in Mr. Portal’s guitar classes. “Growing up, I’d always jump around and play the air guitar, even when I was raking leaves in my backyard,” said Mr. Portal. “I think that it’s great how my passion for playing the guitar influences my students,” he said. “Learning to play the guitar can be physically hard in the beginning, but it’s one of those instruments that are easily accessible. For a beginner, guitars are a great starting point because once you know a few chords, you start picking up really quickly,” he added.

“What I like most about guitar classes here is that I can learn to play the songs I like,” said sophomore Courtney Fairchild. “The first time I took Guitar in my freshman year, Mr. Portal taught me how to play ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Simple Man,’” she recalled. “I instantly fell in love with the guitar. Starting from guitar classes, I’ve challenged myself to take Music Recording, and now, I’m taking Band,” Fairchild added. “In Music Recording, I had no idea what I was doing, but I managed to make a pretty good heavy metal song. Band classes give me a break from academics. Also, my band is just a pretty fun group,” added Fairchild.

Zach Zientko ‘21 currently plays the bass in Band. “In band class, there is more variety in what we can do,” said Zientko. “We can have a lot more fun because we can choose what songs we want to play as a group. You wouldn’t really expect a traditional instrument, like Owen’s violin, to go well with a band of electric guitars and a drum, but we were surprised to find out that they make a shockingly good mix,” Zientko added.

In recent years, students have been permitted to use the co-curricular time each day, once reserved exclusively for athletics, to pursue other interests, like art, music, robotics and community service.

“I think that co-curricular music is a good place to start if you don’t really know what instrument you’re interested in playing yet,” said junior Isaac Newcomb. “I did it last year, and I liked how I was able to make music individually, at my own pace.” Twice this year Newcomb has successfully performed the music he has composed: in the Winter Carnival talent show and the Northwood talent showcase. Each of Newcomb’s performances received a fervent response from the audience. “The most important thing when making music is being able to gain comfort and confidence,” said Newcomb.

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This year, the Northwood community has also collaborated in producing theatrical productions. What is Love? was directed by Ms. Carmichael and included 21 students who participated in the co-curricular drama offering that culminated in the performance following the Valentine’s Day formal dinner. Carmichael and her students put together numerous acts, ranging from spoken word to dancing, all under the theme of love. “I was really pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of people who wanted to participate in our show this year. We had students doing backstage work as well,” commented Carmichael. “Next year, we are going to have two shows — one in the fall, which will probably be a small-cast musical, and one in the spring. We will be having auditions for the fall show the week after LEAP so that during the summer, the cast can memorize their lines and practice for the performance that will be held two months after school starts. One of the main reasons I’ve decided to have another show early is because I want people who are dedicated to their winter sports to have a chance in participating in school theater,” she said.

Carmichael is excited about a new course offering next school year. “Approaches in Acting is a new one-trimester elective course next year. For those who are interested in taking the course for an entire year, I am willing to make it progressively intense,” Carmichael said. “I encourage students who don’t necessarily think of themselves as ‘theater’ kids to join because we will not only learn about the history and techniques of acting but also how to gain self-confidence and project our voices when we are on stage,” she added.

In the coming days and weeks, students will be making course selections for next year. Art teachers and student artists encourage students to add art classes to their schedules, even if they’ve met the minimum requirement. Art courses available to students next year include:

  • Fundamentals of Art
  • Drawing (and Advanced Drawing)
  • Painting (and Advanced Painting)
  • Print Making
  • Ceramics
  • Raku (Advanced Ceramics)
  • Sculpture
  • Digital Imaging (Photography)
  • Advanced Studio Art (Honors)
  • Innovation with Design Thinking
  • Approaches in Acting
  • Band (and Advanced Band)
  • Guitar (and Advanced Guitar)
  • Vocal Performance
  • Music Recording

Boys’ Lacrosse Has Historic Season [Photo Album]

It was an historic year for the boys’ lacrosse team. The group started the year strong and finished the same way, concluding the season with some home games and one tough road opponent and earning the school’s best-ever single-season lacrosse record.

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The first home game of the year was a rematch against Plattsburgh. In the first meeting, the Huskies had their number, but the guys knew Plattsburgh would come out strong. The Huskies scored early and never looked back. Goals were scored by numerous players, including Drew Rose, Nate Boak, Jack Pensa, Elijah Deveaux, Will Arquette and more. With a final score of 18-3, the Huskies swept Plattsburgh in the home and home series.

The next game, a road match against Massena, would be the toughest of the year. Massena is one of the best teams in the North Country. The guys knew they would need to bring their best effort in order to come out on top. Just as they did vs Plattsburgh, the Huskies scored first and continued to stay on top. With the score only 3-0 at halftime, it was a defensive battle. Massena’s goaltender made huge saves that kept the score close, but the Huskies continued to fire shots. Massena was able to score a few in the second half, but it wasn’t enough. The Huskies won 7-3. “It was a big one for sure,” said Nate Boak (Attack, 2020). Massena is always a tough test. It was a good road win”.

The final two games of the year were played at home versus Kuper Academy. It was a fun two games for the boys. Playing Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, the team won both games. Cisco Delliquadri ‘20 and Ben DeGirolamo ‘21 played goalie for the two games, each splitting time. Sam Debitetto (Attack, 2018) notched his first Northwood Lacrosse goal. DiBitetto was electric after the game. “I’ve waited two years for this,” he said. “Nothing feels better.”

The team’s final record of 8-1 is the best record in Northwood Lacrosse history*. It was a great year for all the guys, and the boys want to wish all of the seniors, Patrick Callahan, Sam Debitetto, Logan Stewart, Martin Simanek and Jack Pensa the best of luck in college and beyond. You will be missed.


* Thorough records of past lacrosse seasons are not available. Northwood staff with extensive historical knowledge of the school believe no other Northwood lacrosse had a more successful season.


The Mirror Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week


The faculty and staff during opening faculty meetings in August, 2017.

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and the staff of The Mirror used this occasion to ask our fellow students to reflect on their teachers and offer brief appreciations. What follows is the result of that exercise. [Read more…]

Nineteen Students Take Home Awards at Banquet



Award-winners posed with their plaques following the 2018 Co-Curricular Awards Banquet.


The Annual Co-Curricular Awards Banquet awarded twenty awards to nineteen student-athletes. This was the last formal dinner before graduation, recognizing individual athletes that are characterized by the concept that there is no “I” in team. Each coach chooses one student that they thought represented each award best and shared attributes of the athlete. [Read more…]

Students Excited for LEAP Courses

While the senior class is finishing up their last couple weeks on campus, ninth, tenth and eleventh graders are looking forward to LEAP, a one-week course for underclassmen that takes place the week following graduation. [Read more…]

Day of Silence Brings Awareness of the LGBTQ Community

Last Friday, Northwood School participated in a Day of Silence to bring awareness to the LGBTQ community. This is an annual event nationwide and was organized at Northwood by Addie Castillo ‘21 and Ben DeGirolamo ‘21 as part of a class in Mrs. Carmichael’s ninth grade English class.   [Read more…]

Students Walk Out to Protest Gun Violence

Last Friday at Northwood School, 29 students and 10 teachers walked out of class at 10:00 am to protest gun violence, especially school shootings. Students in over 2,000 schools around the country came together to walk out of classes and mark the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine school shooting, which is considered the beginning of the modern era of school shootings.


Seniors Hannah Kessel (left) and Olivia Skriloff face the assembled students and faculty at the walkout on April 20, 2018. (Photo: Sam DiBitetto ’18)

The walkout at Northwood began at 10:00 am, five minutes into C period classes. Students and teachers gathered in the indoor tennis courts at 10:00 am where they heard a few people speak and observed a moment of silence. Seventeen minutes later, at 10:17 am, they went back to class. The demonstration last seventeen minutes in memory of the seventeen people killed at the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14.

The walkout was led by seniors Hannah Kessel and Olivia Skriloff, and they both spoke at the tennis courts. Kessel read the mission of the national walkout:

National School Walkout is a movement powered and led by students across the country. We’re protesting congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence. America is the only country in the world where so many people are killed by guns, and yet our leaders do nothing about it. In many states, it’s more difficult to register to vote than it is to buy a rifle. Apparently to some politicians, a vote is scarier than a gun.

Skriloff read the names of the people killed in the Parkland and Columbine shootings. Skriloff also urged everyone in attendance to call their elected officials and urge them to enact sensible gun reform legislation. Click here to contact your legislators.

Every student who walked out seemed genuinely concerned about gun violence and moved by the event. “I think If we all came together we could put an end to gun violence,” said junior Barrett Ott.

Bennett Sets Sights on National Team

The Northwood ski team has had a great season this year. Over spring break many NWS athletes were competing in CO, landing on the podium multiple times. In particular, Sarah Bennett ’19 has had an exceptional season that gave her the opportunity to be invited to a Quebec Team Evaluation Camp at Mont Edouard, Canada, where she is training with some of the best young Canadian ski racers. Also attending the camp is Erik Guay, a three-time Olympian, and Canada’s most successful male alpine skier. Bennett is currently ranked one of the best in North America for her age. [Read more…]

Skriloff: Generation Z Must Register to Vote. And then Vote.

What follows is the speech senior Olivia Skriloff delivered at school meeting on Monday, March 26. She delivered it after showing several clips of speeches from the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC, which she attended and organized a group from Northwood to attend. [Read more…]

Life’s Goals

Guest essay by Rob Serra ’97


The author celebrates after scoring a goal for the FDNY hockey team at the Nassau Coliseum in 2004. (Photo: Bill Bennett)

“Times like these we learn to live again”

-Foo Fighters


I know it’s cliche to point to a sporting event as a pivotal moment in one’s life, but that’s where I find myself. On April 3, 2004, I put my hockey bag in my Jeep and headed to Nassau Coliseum. I was nervous as hell and had no idea how the day would end. I just knew what it took for me to get there. [Read more…]

The Mirror was established in 1927
© 2015 by the Staff of The Mirror
The Mirror is funded by gifts to the Northwood Fund. Thank you.

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