Top MAP works honored at SMASH’N

May 28, 2019 — by Chelsea Leung and Alexandra Li

Chinese characters from the short animated film “Whalefall” flowed across the screen of the McAfee Center as a full house of students, parents and teachers watched with admiration. “Whalefall,” a 9-minute animation hand-drawn by seniors Cheryl Wang and Angie Yang for their Media Arts Program capstone project, won both the Faculty Choice Award and the Industry Choice Award, the top honor at the annual SMASH’N show last Friday.

SMASH’N presents students’ best work from the year in various categories — a kind of Academy Awards for the program. The event was complete with a red carpet lining the steps to the McAfee Centers, student announcers listing nominees and ripping open envelopes containing winners and attendees dressed in their fancy-best clothes. MAP also held fundraisers, raffling awards like a free movie with dinner and a local breakfast, lunch and dinner in Saratoga.

“Whalefall” follows the journey of a Chinese girl as she moves to America and learns to accept and appreciate her heritage, which Wang says is mainly based on the two girls’ own experiences as immigrants. To create the project, Yang first drew sketches on paper before scanning them into Adobe Premiere Pro, where Wang was able to move each individual object around in layers to animate the characters.

“We put our own experiences and emotions into it,” Wang said. “We put a lot of work into it, as we went to every session, even the non-mandatory sessions.” In total, they put hundred of hours into the work.

The event was mainly organized by MAP student leadership, with senior Kitty Huang as president, and faculty, including Suzanne Herzman, Alex Hemmerich, Jason Friend and Joel Tarbox, among others. Senior Isabelle Rieken and junior Ritika Kuppam were the head of the committee planning SMASH’N, and they began forming ideas for the event’s theme starting last August.

Herzman was in charge of creating the script for the show, while Rieken’s team put together a video that acted as a transition between categories. The video, which features seniors Divya Subbiah and Isiah Viviero on a scavenger hunt, also created a storyline that allowed the MAP students to present principal Paul Robinson, the show’s overall emcee, with a “thank you” award at the end of the night. Retiring English teacher Cathy Head, a founding member of the MAP faculty, was also honored.

“The event really is a massive team effort between students and teachers, and it really takes a long time,” AP Lang and MAP teacher Jason Friend said. “It was a year where we had a ton of strong student work and so it was really cool to see the variety of work that the students did.”

Award categories were mostly separated by grade. For the freshman class, “The Balcony” by Morgan Bettinger, Hannah Coward, Matthew Horvath, Jonathan Li and Adam Weinstock won best 2D Design, and Daisy Miyoshi had the best Curricular Project with “Finding Your Tempo.”

For the sophomore class, “Fractals” by Darien Tseng won best 2D Design. The Curricular Project award went to Josh Liu, Alex Cordova-Rubio, Kelly Huesby, Jonah Noralahi and Leila Chaudhry for “The Package.” The “Be The Change” Documentary award went to Shauna Zahabi, Kyle Massie, Tommaso Morini Bianzino, Jonah Noralahi and Mel Tenant De La Tour for “The Truth Among Lies.”

The best 48 Hour Film Festival film was “Tomorrow” by sophomore Collin Babin and junior William Seifert.

For the junior class, “Great Britain: South” by Jackson Gress, Sarah Hess and Dominick Richiuso won Best 2D Design. The best Video Poem was “The World is a Beautiful Place” by Meghna Gupta, Matilda Hickman-Smith, Trent Glenn and Aman Khandelwal. The best American Story went to “Dance With Me” by Ritika Kuppam, Sarah Smails, Matilda Hickman-Smith, Livi Katz and Rayne Schulman. For American Issues Documentaries, “The Fat Truth” by Bryan Boselli, Trent Glenn, Ritika Kuppam and Monica Lubyanitsky were chosen.

For the senior class, “Panoramic” by Kitty Huang and Ines Picard was chosen for best 2D design. The best Curricular Project was “Kinetik” by Rohan Pandey, Angie Yang, Sanya Salehi, Jonathan Wang, Nicolas Patil and Ashley Feng. The student-chosen best Capstone project was “Up The Hill” by Sanya Salehi, Ashley Feng, Thomas Jens, Anuj Changavi and Usman Khan; the faculty-chosen best Capstone projects were “Jamasi Vu” by Nicholas Burry, Martinus Holum, Valentina Araya, Kamari Cheatham and Kirstin Kruka and “Whalefall.”

“Up The Hill,” an experimental psychological thriller about two teenagers whose lives get turned upside down by an unknown force, was also honored with the People’s Choice award, which was voted on via text from the audience.

“We were super happy that people enjoyed our film so much,” Salehi said. “It feels good to know that something we worked so hard on was received well.”

Students also won individual awards for leadership and outstanding work during the past year. Seniors Rachel Bakke, Salehi, Jens, Ines Picard, Rieken and Kiana Steele and juniors Kuppam, Krithi Sankar, Natalie Tarbox, Sejal Sripadanna and Ranna Zahabi won the Luke Salin Outstanding Service Award.

Senior Kitty Huang won the Haley Zarrin award, which honors the commitment and work she has done for MAP.

“The SMASH’N committee created a fabulous night,” Huang said. Watching the underclassmen and parents in awe watching some of the best works from this program was the best part of it all.”

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