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Winterfest, Sophomore Speeches delayed by teachers’ strike

Gabe Kolodner
Union members and students gather with instruments at rally to show support for teachers, Thursday, Jan. 25.

As the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) continues striking in pursuit of a fair contract, North’s Winterfest performance is left without a date, buried by an absence of teachers and a lack of practice facilities. 

Winterfest, the annual winter concert, is composed of choral, orchestral, and band performances from North, as well as Day and Bigelow Middle Schools. 

The concert was set to run through Jan. 24-25, the two days showcasing different musical ensembles in Lasker Theater. However, as the strike reaches its seventh day and surpasses the planned performance dates, both performers and organizers are uncertain of the concert’s future. 

“A lot of students in Wind Ensemble don’t practice much outside of school, so the long period without rehearsals means the quality of our performance will decrease substantially,” said sophomore Sherry Zhang, a Wind Ensemble member. 

This sentiment is not only echoed by Winterfest’s high school performers but by its middle school performers as well. 

Eighth-grader Taka Higuchi, a member of Day’s Orchestra, said, “I think [the strike] will negatively impact our performances unless we get enough time to prepare and reorganize ourselves.”

When asked about student accommodations, fine and performing arts teacher Adam Grossman, a Winterfest co-director, said, “We have no capability to plan for anything right now. We’re not doing work now, so while I can’t say that it hasn’t crossed my mind, I can say that we’re not going to do anything about it.”

Other Winterfest performers feel that the concert won’t suffer from the strike. 

“I don’t think the strike has that much impact on Winterfest other than delaying the event,” said junior Henry Lee, an Orchestra member. “However, what may be impacted is the mentality students have when performing or watching Winterfest since the aftermath of the strike is still on our minds.”

Winterfest has not been the only performance to experience uncertainty from the strike—the annual Sophomore Speech showcase will likely be delayed, forced to reschedule from Jan. 26 to an undetermined date. 

The Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Showcase highlights the beliefs and community-based aspirations of five sophomore finalists and 17 class representatives. Based on the influence of MLK, the finalists were set to present speeches on topics not only personal to them but relevant to greater society. 

These staples of the North community, the MLK Speech Showcase, and Winterfest, are experiencing prolonged disruptions due to the teachers’ strike. Though Winterfest and the Speech Showcase have not set new dates, many students have shifted their focus toward supporting their educators.

“Honestly, it’s a little disappointing, but I know that we will be able to do our speeches,” said Mariana Chango-Gasset, a speech finalist. “The purpose of the showcase is to talk about advocacy and social change, and I feel the teachers’ strike is a perfect opportunity to speak up for a cause that is current and important.”

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Gabe Kolodner
Gabe Kolodner, Photo Managing Editor
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