The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

Original Art by Emily Dow
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What If: MSE Had Its Own Movie?

Original+Art+by+Jayden+Cedano
Original Art by Jayden Cedano

Everyone knows that HSMSE has had its share of C-day videos, with Mr. Thompson’s Regina George impression, Mr. Pellegrino’s workout session, and Ms. Hesseltine’s analysis on the importance of American Romanticism. These videos are obviously all jam packed with quintessential MSE experiences, but what if we took it a step further? One of the reasons The School of Performing Arts’ (now a part of Laguardia) 1980 movie Fame was so captivating was its ability to capture authentic details about attending a performing arts high school in NYC. The movie explores the lives of students in the drama, singing, and dance programs during their four years at the high school. What’s stopping HSMSE from having something similar? Probably a lack of time and money. But think outside the box, just hypothetically. If we had the resources to make a movie about HSMSE, what would it look like? What are the challenges that HSMSE students would face? What songs would play as we navigate crowded hallways or choose which food truck we go to for lunch? There’s certainly no lack of content, so let’s brainstorm: what would HSMSE look like through a camera’s lens?

Just like Fame, our movie would take place over the course of the four years that students study at school. Because Fame had to cover four years in two hours, it felt that there was so much of the school left out that deserved to be uncovered, so if we did our own movie it would have to be much longer. Maybe there would be so much plot we’d have to do multiple hour-long episodes of a TV show to fit it all in. As for the plot itself, the movie would start on the first day of freshman year, where the students would start off at a completely new school, ready for whatever experiences await them. Some students would be adamant that they wanted to go to a certain track on the first day, while others would have no idea which track they wanted to go into. Still others may not even be STEM kids and have no idea what they’re doing at a STEM school. They’d all spend their first few days meeting our amazing cast of teachers and staff, having to deal with overcrowded hallways, and learning from their upperclassmen Big Sibs. “It’s hectic — just the way I like it,” says freshman Damian Riley-Driver. In sophomore year, they’d be fully accustomed to life at HSMSE (not including the few new transfer students). Sophomore Diego Benitez says they’ve spent a lot of time “staying up late working on Architecture projects.” They say that their “Sophomore year has been pretty good so far,” and “I wish I knew as many people in my freshman year as I do now! A memorable experience from this year has to be the recent snowball fights during lunch and after school.” However, lots of pressure would be piled on the sophomores, as they’d have to figure out which track they’d go into for junior and senior years.

During junior year, students would be overwhelmed with the “hardest year of high school.” Sinai kids would be introduced to the Sinai campus, engineering kids would make robots and rubber band guns, science kids would research the human body, and math kids would jam along to Mr. Scheiman’s freestyles in Intro to Math. “It’s definitely stressful, as teachers are assigning more work this year than previous years,” says junior Javin Dupree. Most of all, the PSAT and SAT would fill everyone’s minds. Finally, in senior year, students would have to worry about college applications as well as a stressful ten page long research paper, while working on equally hard classes. Yet this year wouldn’t be all hard work and pressure, as seniors get to pick a lot of their classes and could even have a period off, where they could work on college applications or help younger students as a teacher’s assistant. HSMSE senior Kehaploy Kamonpanyakul says that senioritis is definitely hitting: “It is not going as I expected it to be, I thought I was going to be more productive.” However, she’s been enjoying her work in the Sinai program, and thinks connecting with new people there is a great part of this year. Ploy reminisces on her time at HSMSE, saying that one of her most memorable experiences was “definitely winning the championships for softball. That was my first time ever winning something as a team!”

Despite many similarities, it’s hard to compare an HSMSE movie to Fame without acknowledging the fact that Fame takes place in a performing arts high school, and HSMSE is STEM based. Instead of struggling to prioritize academic classes alongside performing arts ones, MSE kids have to remember to properly balance their calculus and chemistry courses with their equally important english and history classes. In Fame, Doris Finsecker tries to focus on understanding her emotions for her acting, and spends hours rehearsing and memorizing lines. The HSMSE equivalent would be Digital Electronics and Computer Science students trying to perfect their code during lunch while others spend hours in the lab working on a research project.
One thing that would remain the same, however, would be how driven and passionate students are. The singers, actors, and dancers in Fame are all fully devoted to their interests, struggling through harsh judgment in ballet class and really tapping into their emotions in drama. Even if it’s not always in the same form, the people at HSMSE share a similar drive when it comes to their intense math and science classes because they know that it will allow them to pursue the things they’re interested in.

But that doesn’t mean an HSMSE movie would be all work and no play. For example, every good movie needs a killer soundtrack. What would be our “Hot Lunch Jam”? What song would make HSMSE kids run out into the street and dance? Of course, when dancing is mentioned, the first thought that comes to mind is the most influential artistic rendition of the graphs of various functions: the Math Dance. Imagine a scene where swarms of MSE students flood out of the school and onto Convent Avenue doing Mr. Troesch’s favorite dance. It would be a fitting sight for our school. But let’s turn back to inside the school, and focus on what’s happening within our bright purple halls. Or more accurately, what isn’t happening: students desperately trying to push and shove their way to class while nobody seems to move. Instead of a song about a crowded lunchroom and hot lunch, HSMSE’s version of Fame would have a “Hallway Traffic Jam” (pun intended) that someone would play from the music room in the basement as people fought their way down the stairs.

A movie about HSMSE wouldn’t just be scholarly plot points and a STEM soundtrack, however. Sure, that would give a small glimpse into our classes and academic life, but it couldn’t capture the spirit of our community without the running jokes that make MSE special. Dubbed “HSMSE moments” by members of the school, these occurrences are sometimes annoying, sometimes funny, and sometimes so random that it’s just both. To quote HSMSE junior Jayden Cedano, “We’re all nerds over here, but these silly little moments show that we’re not all full of ourselves.” And our story wouldn’t be complete without them. Take the most annoying and the most frequent happening at our school: the previously-mentioned overcrowding of Stairwell B in between 5th and 6th period. The stairwell is so crowded that the mass of people reaches all the way to the end of the bulletin board outside B7. To quote junior Arianna Bassini, “You can’t move for, like, an hour. It’s a key feature of HSMSE.” As this is one of our school’s major running jokes, it would definitely be a necessity for the movie. A way to represent this could be a conversation between two different characters, lasting four to five minutes and stopping only when the speakers realize that they’ve barely even moved up the staircase. Other running jokes would include the saying that the Track Team is a cult, the hectic activities of the Leadership-run C-Days, and the constant-yet-random smattering of applause every lunch in the NAC.

After all this examination (and over 2 hours of watching a masterpiece of a movie), we’ve explored many theories regarding what would occur in HSMSE’s own movie. We’ve gone through how the plot would portray our school, how characters would grow and develop, and most importantly, how the focus on STEM in this school would shape the movie itself. Throughout all of this, I could see this turning into a successful product. It would be amazing to see our school portrayed in a cinematic way, with the humor that occurs in our everyday life being expressed through imagery and story to people who aren’t a part of this community. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll be able to see our halls on the big screen, or people akin to our teachers saying funny STEM-related quotes, or maybe even the staircases flooding with happy, chatting students. Maybe someday the number one school in NYC will have its own feature to pile onto its accomplishments. But for now, this article in our school paper will be the only idea of what HSMSE’s depiction on a movie screen could look like.

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