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Spotlight on Nuit Bleue

Note: With so much arts-related news happening this spring, be sure to check out the full slate of reports, videos and photos in the Arts section, related to Nuit Bleue, Jazz Night, Paradise Lost, debating and more.

Nuit Bleue 2014 promised to be the biggest, bluest night of the year and it didn’t disappoint. The annual arts celebration brought together the most wonderful sights, sounds and tastes of the community and offered something for everyone.

Yes it was blue! Following the Battle of the Bands in Laidlaw Hall, the DJ played some favourite tunes in the Bleue Zone student lounge as Aramark’s signature blue drinks were served up and taste buds were tantalized by delicious ice cream, generously donated by Greg’s Ice Cream.

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All throughout the halls, guests were illuminated in blue. The brilliant lights displays were breathtaking and the beautiful blue flowers set the tone. Roaming student buskers kept guests entertained with their juggling, yo-yo and musical talents, and Old Boys in the arts were honoured at a welcoming reception.

This was a night that celebrated arts of all varieties. The visual art displays were spectacular. Guests were awed by the IB2 works as they filled the student centre. Posters, lamp installations and sculptures turned the Upper School into an incredible art gallery.

Noche Azul offered a taste of Argentina and those looking for a night at the movies were treated to flicks from the recent IB2 film festival, with popcorn to boot. Theatre buffs were entertained by amazing stage fighting displays and select scenes were performed by many talented thespians. The verbal arts including Ontario Model Parliament, Model UN and debating showed just how powerful words really are, while literary works of art were on display at Bleue Grind coffee house.

The night was capped when Laidlaw Hall came alive with the sounds of music in the concert finale which featured all the music troupes from the Upper School. From winds and strings to Blue Notes vocals, the music demonstrated the amazing depth and talent of the UCC music department.

The night wouldn’t have been complete without a visit from Cookie who ushered in the raffle boxes.  And the lucky raffle winners left with amazing prizes in hand: an electric guitar and amp donated by the Hutcheson family; two tickets to the Moscow Virtuosi donated by Show One Productions; a priceless framed photograph of UCC created by Y2 Evan Zucker; and two gift certificates to Holy Chuck donated by Holy Chuck.

This was a night where everyone was a winner – students, faculty, volunteers and guests. It was truly the “bleuest” night of the year. Be sure to enjoy this photo gallery and video below.

Arts Booster Club


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Debaters take top honours at Hart House

UCC’s Debate Club had its best tournament of the year, taking top spot at the Hart House High School Debating Tournament, March 29 and 30. IB2 students John Lutz and Josh Caminiti were proclaimed champions after a stellar performance in the finals. With 132 teams and 264 participants from all over the country, this was the largest high-school debating tournament ever held in Canada, and certainly one of the most prestigious.

The boys debated both serious and humorous resolutions including: This House believes that J.K. Rowling should not have outed Dumbledore; and this House believes we should only give scholarships based on financial need.

In the end, the Lutz-Caminiti team as well as three other UCC teams advanced to the quarterfinals: IB2 students Chris Taylor and FY Logan Ye; IB1 students Michael Pusic and Jack Oneschuk; and IB1 student Alnur Kassim-Lakha who partnered with a student from Oakville as a “hybrid team.” Individually, UCC took half of the total speaker awards: Chris Taylor placed fourth; Logan Ye placed sixth; John Lutz placed seventh; and Alnur Kassim-Lakha placed eighth. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Source: Arts Booster Club

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Human Rights Advocacy Club shows Old Boy’s film

The Human Rights Advocacy Club presented the feature film Our Man in Tehran, which previewed at the Toronto International Film Festival, on April 11. The film’s co-director is Old Boy Drew Taylor ’01. He was in attendance.

The event featured a brief introduction and a Q&A following the film with Taylor. His brother, Matthew Taylor ’02, helped produce the film and was also in attendance.

Our Man in Tehran also received the “Documentary Audience Choice” award at Cinefest. The film covers the Iranian hostage crisis with special attention to the Canadian contributions in exfiltrating six American diplomats, as well as Ambassador Ken Taylor’s work on Operation Eagle Claw, details which were left out of the feature film Argo.

This free event was open to everyone and took place in the comfortable and intimate setting of the film room. With a small but enthusiastic group, the screening was well received with plenty of positive feedback. The movie far exceeded expectations, and with supplementary information from the co-director and associate producer themselves, the audience was able to get a unique, behind the scenes perspective, a rare opportunity. Both Drew and Matthew were more than gracious in sharing their experiences in making this film and sharing such a compelling event in Canadian history with the word. We look forward to what they will produce next.

Husayn Kara

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Nuit Bleue showcases exceptional commitment to the arts

Nuit Bleue treated our community to visual arts, poetry, music, film, debating, Model Parliament and Model United Nations, stage fighting and more.

“The evening’s centerpiece is the IB2 final exhibition which represents the culmination of two years of research and studio work,” says Anne Kaye, Upper School art teacher.

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The exhibition took over the student centre and showcased a range of media and techniques.

Also a big draw was the Foundation Year industrial design project. Students used reclaimed materials, everything from bicycle spokes to crayons, to create inventive lamps. Impressive in their own right, the lamps also showcased “design thinking” which has broader, lifelong application, explains Kaye.

“It’s a way of problem solving that helps in all courses,” she says, “considering tools, materials and shapes, and how they how interact with humans in terms of form and function.” Indeed, inspired by such programming, many students go on to careers in architecture or industrial and graphic design, says Kaye.

Additionally, the Year 2s had a great time learning how to illustrate with vector-based design software. The resulting Olympics posters in the main hall highlighted the skills of composition and their grounding in poster-art history which had informed the projects, explains Upper School art teacher Vesna Krstich.

This year’s Nuit Bleue ramped up the interactive programming, with a mid-afternoon student assembly featuring a spirited “Battle of the Bands” to set the momentum for the evening. Creativity Steward Alex Green can take much credit for the organization, says Krstich.

As well, a great crowd pleaser was the IB1’s stage fighting display in the David Chu Theatre. Offering scenes from Titus Andronicus, one of Shakespeare’s many Roman plays, students had prepared in class with fight choreography trainer Simon Fon, one of Canada’s foremost stage and film fight specialists. (Simon has choreographed many fights in the co-curricular program.) Hence, the audience was treated to a “little hand-to-hand combat, a taste of the broadsword, and some play with rapiers,” as the evening’s program read.

For a visual round-up of the evening, please take a moment to look at the photos here. (Credit: Barry Roden)

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UCC wins at U.S. Model UN conference

Upper Canada College’s Model United Nations Club came out on top at the Berkeley Model United Nations Conference in San Francisco from March 7 to 9.

The conference was founded in 1952, making it the oldest of its kind in North America, and this year’s edition welcomed 1,800 students from 99 schools. UCC’s delegation, led by club heads Austin Haber and Cole Thompson, was comprised of 20 students from Grades 9 to 12 under the supervision of teacher Matt Griem.

The conference presents undergraduate students with an opportunity to apply what they research and combines academic study with a social atmosphere to give delegates a better understanding of their material. Competition was tough, as the Model UN simulations featured a wide range of committees that sometimes involved hundreds of people.

But when the closing ceremonies came around, UCC’s contingent was presented with the Best Club Award. It became the first Canadian team to receive this honour and puts it in the running to be ranked among the top five Model UN clubs in North America.

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Get set for Nuit Bleue on April 10

Nuit Bleue is just two weeks away. Don’t miss your opportunity to view films and drama presentations and experience the music, literary coffee house, beautiful lights, breathtaking displays of student artwork and brilliant performance clubs.

With so much to see and do, you won’t want to miss this exciting night that happens just once a year. Students and faculty members look forward to seeing you on Thursday, April 10 from 5 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. to celebrate our wonderful and talented artists.

Check out the attached Nuit Bleue promo video to get a feel of what is to come. Stay tuned for a more detailed listing of all the wonderful events the evening has to offer.

Enjoy this sneak peek of all Nuit Bleue has to offer. See you there:

Nuit Bleue 2014

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Strong showing at prestigious Oxford debating tournament

Many students take time for well-deserved relaxation over spring break. IB2 students Elliot Kaufman and John Lutz travelled to England for a week to participate in the prestigious Oxford Union Schools Schools Debating Competition, over the weekend of March 15. The boys placed a very strong 12th out of 96 teams representing their countries.

Kaufman and Lutz had qualified to represent Ontario and Canada in this international debating tournament, having shown previous great performances in Toronto and Vancouver.

Not surprisingly, the boys performed well as they debated against three other teams in each round. They enjoyed the exposure to students from other countries including Ireland, the Netherlands and of course, England. Two of their rounds took place in the world famous Oxford Union debating hall. The most interesting resolution they debated was: This House, as Ukraine, would align itself with Russia instead of the European Union.

These boys are not new to the European debating scene. John Lutz has debated in various European tournaments and Elliot Kaufman represented Canada at the Oxford Union’s international competition for young debaters two years ago, where he was awarded “top speaker” based on his individual rating of first place.

-Arts Booster Club

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UCC teacher’s children featured in film

Upper Canada College English teacher Terence Dick’s wife Kelly O’Brien made a documentary titled Softening featuring her daughter Emma and her son Teddy, who has cerebral palsy.

The moving film won the grand jury prize in the shorts competition at the 2013 DOC NYC festival and The New York Times has posted a shorter adaptation of it, along with O’Brien’s thoughts on her family and film. You can watch the documentary here.

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Great results for UCC debaters

Julian and EmersonUpper Canada College debaters fared well in two different tournaments on the weekend of Feb. 22.

UCC debaters competed in a high school debating tournament at York University where they vigorously debated resolutions, including one about York that recently made national news: this house believes that university courses should not accommodate the religious beliefs of their students. Grade 11 student Logan Ye was ranked third best and Grade 12 student Chris Taylor was ranked fourth best speaker out of approximately 130 participants in the senior division. They defeated Grade 12 students Elliot Kaufman and Josh Caminiti in the tournament final.

Grade 8 student Matthew Wang was named the top junior speaker in the tournament.

William Labasi-Sammartino, Justin Lu, Nitish Dhingra, Imran Jessa and Brent Leung also took part under the guidance of coach Steven Penner.

Grade 8 students Emerson Braithwaite and Julian Samek teamed up and finished 10th in the Ontario Junior Provincial Debating Championships in Oakville. Grade 9 students Kimathi Muiriri and Malcolm Risk formed a team for the same tournament, and Muiriri placed fourth and Risk placed 10th out of approximately 100 speakers with their individual scores. Teacher Gregory MacDonald assisted the boys at the tournament.

Muiri and RiskjrMuiruri, Braithwaite, Dhingra and Jack Oneschuk also competed in the Fulford Debate Tournament at St. Clement’s School on Feb. 1 under the supervision of teacher Kathryn Brookes. This competition featured students from 20 Ontario independent high schools who spent the day debating interesting topics, including the resolution: “Should Canada abolish tuition fees for all post-secondary institutions?”

Students were paired with different partners from other schools for each round and they all performed well. Muiruri and Oneschuk’s combined individual scores tied them for second place as a team, while Muiruri also finished second out of approximately 40 participants based on his individual speaker scores in the senior category.

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IB Film Festival features budding James Francos and more

photo: Enjoying their big night out are IB1 students Bhaskar Yechuri, Harkirat Ahluwalia and Osman Bari, and Havergal College Grade 11 student Alex Holgate.

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It was the biggest night of the year for IB film students and faculty, Feb. 25. The TIFF Bell Lightbox hosted the annual IB Film Festival. It featured more than 25 films by aspiring creators from the seasoned film departments at Upper Canada College, Branksome Hall and The York School, a newcomer to the festival.

The night started off with a welcome reception followed by the screenings. The UCC film department showed seven short movies, all very well-received. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to have our boys’ films projected in a professional theatre.

IB1 students Akeil Zarudny, Charlton Kelly and Harkirat Ahluwalia presented a short called “Treadmills,” a romantic-comedy shot in UCC’s very own Strength Agility Speed Fitness Centre. It featured Bhaskar Yechuri and Alex Holgate, a Grade 11 student at Havergal College. In an interesting twist on the possibility of a romance,
Yechuri’s shy character is challenged when the beautiful, athletic Alex starts to use the treadmill beside him.

“Treadmills” was definitely a huge hit with the audience. Acknowledging this success, Ahluwalia, the film’s director, was prompted to credit UCC teachers David Crawford and Duncan Kwan for their guidance and help.

The writer-director of another popular film at this year’s festival, Manuel Gomez Castano, had this to say about “Boarder Wars,” his seven-minute short:

“I chose to take a risk and join the film program in IB1 and have not looked back since. I discovered a passion that I would have never known if I’d never joined. I like everything about film, the process of thinking of an idea, creating it and re-creating it, moulding it and changing it, and finally portraying the vision on the big screen.

“The film is about the spirit and the competitive nature that exists between both houses. My goal was to capture the desire to escape a reality of rules, curfews and consequences. To portray the real bonds that one develops, I chose a close group of boarding students as the actors. The inspiration came from one of my favourite directors-writers, James Franco, a natural at creating lively films using real-life situations and making them hilarious. I would like to emphasize that my IB2 filming partners Jacob Dumas, the cinematographer, and O’Neil Halstead, the editor, did a great job. We feel that this is a film we will all watch in 20 years and reminisce about.”

Indeed. And for those who missed the celebrations and the red carpet this year there is something to look forward to — the 2015 IB Film Festival.

“Boarder Wars”

“Treadmills”

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