Nathan DeJesus
The repetitive beeping of the metal detectors behind me was bothersome as I sat on the round wooden bench at Cafe Recreo in Boston's City Hall. A soft but serious voice stood out and said: "Hi, Nathan?" It was Amy Mahler, director of SPARK Boston, wearing an orange polka-dot dress and tan blouse, with her hand extended waiting for a handshake. We sat at a round table overlooking Faneuil Hall. Mahler spoke with the tone of a normal conversation which put me at ease.
Amy Mahler grew up in Palm Beach County, Florida. She went to the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts as a theatre major. When she attended, it was one of the highest-performing high schools in the country. She described it as a school where everyone in her class went to college and many of them didn't have to battle with student debt because of the many opportunities the school offered. "Like when you would have late start days for your school system, you know, you would maybe go to a local Colombian bakery, to get baked goods, after you've slept in for an hour,” she said. “I'd have some classmates who would go to the beach before school started."
When she graduated, she moved to Boston to attend college. She campaigned for small city council races and Wayfair before working for former governor Deval Patrick’s 2010 re-election campaign.
Mahler is the director of SPARK Boston, a council made up of people ages 20-34 that works under the Walsh administration. She described the council as a place where people can come and make a difference in their local government.
People decide to join the council for a lot of different reasons. "You might come from a place where a global government didn't work for you and your family for a variety of reasons, you might come from a place where you don't trust local government you have you might come from a place where local government is much more accessible," she explained.  
Mahler is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and proudly presents that. I asked whether it affected her work to which she responded, "Oh, totally. In a positive way. I think one, you know, it's made it easier for me to spot the other in the room. I'm a young white woman, not from Boston. That means that there are some ways that I can see other things, and I think it's, you know, [similar] in some ways, being an LGBT person."  
At one point during my visit, she interrupted herself to introduce me to the City Hall Chief of Staff. She introduced me and made sure that if I needed to contact him, I could. I feel like she didn’t have to do this but she did to make sure I gained contacts. 
In an article by the Boston Sun, Mahler mentions often running into the same faces at meetings, and it becoming quite dull. I asked her if she fears that young adults on the council will fall into the cycle of seeing the same faces over and over again much as she did. She said that it very well could be a problem, but it is unlikely because Generation Z  and Millenials are very equity-based and tend to always bring others along with them to keep refreshing these cycles.
Mahler currently has no plans to move on from SPARK Boston. She said that if a door opens with the perfect opportunity, then she will gladly take it, but for now, she is grateful for her job and the people that she gets to meet regularly. She has a couple of people in mind who might be her successor.
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I heard about the movie “The Sand” from Facebook. Facebook stated it as “a really good movie,” so I got interested in watching it. The trailer that I watched on Facebook seemed cool and your eyes just wanted to keep watching. 
At the start of the movie, many young boys and girls were having a party on an abandoned beach, and many of them were drinking alcohol. There was a girl named Marsha (Nikki Leigh) who didn’t want to drink alcohol, but when she saw her boyfriend, Jonah (Dean Geyer), with another girl named Chanda (Meagan Holder), Marsha started to drink. This night was fun for all of the kids. The next day, there were only eight people alive out of the 40 people at the party. Four people were in a car, two other people were in a boat, one boy was in a barrel (put there by his friend), and one girl was on top of a table. The sand swallowed and killed the others.
When I first started watching this movie, it was boring. I thought the movie was going to start with a group of people from different places going to that beach because of the trailer, but it just started with a person taking a video of his friends drinking and having fun on the beach. Every five minutes the movie was getting more boring because there was no action. The eight people who survived were in the same place always, on the beach, and it would be better if the actors who were there, would have had more to do. 
The acting and editing were really bad, and the actors didn’t seem interesting. I think they were in that movie because all of them were handsome and would get people to watch the movie. I became more interested in Marsha, Kaylee, and Ronnie not because they were acting well, but because they were cute.
Don’t waste your time watching this kind of movie. I do not recommend this movie to anyone. The actors have to do a better job the next time, and also they have to be careful about what they are going to act in. This movie should be more realistic, and also have the actors in many places, not just in one place, because that makes the movie boring. 
I watched this movie on an app on my phone, called Tubi TV. On this app, there are many good movies, but also bad movies like “The Sand.”  
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“The Violet Evergarden” is an anime by Kyoto Animation Studios that unpacks the life of Violet, a fourteen-year-old veteran who is dealing with the aftermath of war on her continent Telesis. Kyoto Animation carries us through the first two episodes with breathtaking scenes of Violet’s hometown and a soundtrack that will fasten your seat belt and take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. “The Violet Evergarden” is a promising piece that shows us its extraordinary potential in the first two episodes.
This anime centers around Violet, who was raised to serve as a weapon to the army. She was given to Lieutenant Gilbert Bougainvillea by his brother Dietfried Bougainvillea who told him, "She is a weapon with no heart, treat her as such do not catch feelings." Gilbert completely ignored that and fell in love anyway. After the war, Violet is left without a purpose, both of her arms, and the love of her life, Gilbert. She ends up in the care of former Lieutenant Claudia Hodgins and struggles to adjust to a normal life after growing up in the military her whole life. 
Although I only watched two episodes of the series, I could already grasp the plot and the challenges Violet faces. The first two episodes do a good job showing how Violet struggles with unlearning behaviors she was taught as an army child. It's interesting how even though Violet doesn't show her emotions through her facial expressions, I could still tell how she is feeling. This is a product of great writing and animation.  Although Hodgins hasn't told Violet that Lieutenant Gilbert has passed, it makes me excited but terrified of her reaction to this news. Violet sees herself only as a tool, but her actions show that she is much more than that and is capable of becoming more. Kyoto did a good job showing Violet's depth without having to literally explain it. It was also beautiful, with the show lighting up my laptop screen with delicate spring colors. The studio utilized the power of colors to the max and combined it with perfect animation to make every make movement pop. 
Something that could have been done better was explaining to the viewer who characters are. Some scenes confused me because random characters would appear in scenes and talk like you should know them, but you don't because the character hadn’t been introduced.
That said, Violet Evergarden is rightfully an award-winning anime series. This series is only available on Netflix since it's one of its original series. It has a slow, but solid, start and I would advise patience while watching it. 
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As I rode through the scenic streets of Roslindale, I thought about what it would be like to see Santiago Paniagua for the first time in years. The Paniagua family have been close friends with my family for many years, ever since Santi and my sister attended preschool together. Filled with anticipation, I walked up the small set of steps leading up to the house he grew up in and rang the bell. 
He looked older, more mature than I remembered, more sure of himself. I greeted the rest of the family who were happy to see me but exhausted because they had just gotten off a flight from their vacation in Mexico. We sat in the dining room, which was cluttered with random objects, and talked in hushed tones so as not to wake up the rest of the family who were still jet-lagged.
Twenty years ago, Paniagua was born in Boston to two immigrant parents. His dad immigrated from Spain to Mexico, then came to the United States to continue his education. His mom came from Colombia as an adult to pursue higher education. 
By the age of nine, Paniagua began what would eventually be his career: dancing ballet. He decided he wanted to pursue it professionally when he was 12-years-old. Encouraged by his family, he joined the Boston Ballet and began practicing in the evening after school. “They were very supportive, like, throughout the whole time. And there was never a point where I felt like they wanted me to do something else, or they wanted me to stop” he recalls.
In addition to dancing ballet, Paniagua has a number of interesting hobbies. He was quite a talented baseball player, with the potential to get even better if he had more time to practice. He also has a YouTube channel that entirely encapsulates his personality. He's a funny and easy-going guy who lights up any conversation he's involved in. When I asked him about his channel he let out a contagious laugh and fondly remembers the home videos he posted online for the world to see. His videos consist of a collection of funny skits, challenge videos and clips of him performing ballet.
Although he loves ballet, Paniagua has made several sacrifices because of it. “Ballet was taking up my whole after school life, it was every day, Monday through Saturday. I feel like I missed out on hanging out with people from high school and live that sort of life,” he said.
On top of taking up all of his free time, ballet also hurt his education. He attended Boston Latin Academy each day exhausted from training the day before. Paniagua dropped out of BLA during his junior year and finished his education at Boston Ballet. Despite the hardships, his love for ballet kept him motivated. “It was always kind of a push. And sometimes it really did feel like you hated it, but like, I don't know, something kept you going,” he said.
For the second year in a row, Paniagua will be working with PA Ballet in Philadelphia. When the season starts he will perform in “Don Quixote” and several other shows in the coming months. Before I took off he left me with a piece of advice for aspiring dancers: “Pay attention to how possible it is that you will be able to make it.” 
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Shocked doesn’t begin to describe what I felt while watching the first episode of “The Promised Neverland.” Better than any thriller movie I’ve ever seen, this anime series gave me chills the second it started playing. The first episode of “The Promised Neverland” features a group of 38 kids who live in an orphanage with their “mom.” At first glance, nothing looks out of the ordinary, but in the back of my mind, there’s this feeling that made my skin crawl.
The anime is about an orphanage of children who aren’t allowed to go beyond the gate and high walls surrounding their home. One night, Emma, a joyful and bright 11-year-old, follows after her younger sister, Conny, who got adopted and left her favorite toy bunny behind. On her way to return the bunny to Conny, with her best friend, Norman, they witness a horrifying scene. Gray and lifeless, they see their little sister’s dead body sprawled in the back of a truck, impaled with a rose. As they hide, they witness terrifying demon creatures holding back their urge to get a taste of her body. The “food” is not for demon creatures, but for their higher-ups. Collecting nutrients, the long-fingered demons expose the reality of the orphanage: a farm that raises and harvests children for their “delicious” flavor. Stunned with fear, the children realize they must come up with a plan to escape their deaths before they turn 12, the perfect age for harvest. 
Right off the bat, the anime starts with an ominous scene featuring the three main characters, Emma, Norman and Ray, peering into the other side of the gate that connects to the outside. This scene, although chilling, gives an inside look of what’s to come, referencing how they aren’t allowed to go outside, and showing the dangers that lie beyond the gate. Not only that, but they never shake off the feeling of suspense, even when there are kids playing tag, laughing and having fun. 
Although the first episode shows innocent scenes, the anime does an amazing job with foreshadowing. For example, they show Conny’s name on a calendar, find the gate while playing tag, and one of the children notices that they don’t receive letters from the adopted children. The anime leaves you in the dark, alongside the children, experiencing and realizing everything along the way. 
Just like the foreshadowing, the narration and animation of suspenseful scenes leaves me amazed. The director shows one second clips during certain parts, in order to give the overall scene more depth. An example of this would be when the kids gather near the gate during a game of tag, hoping for a future outside of the house. One of the other children, Gilda, realizes that they haven’t heard back from the kids who have been “adopted.” The directors use one-second scenes, highlighting the phrases “you know what?” and “letters?”. With these small cuts, the scene feels innocent, but gives a sense of fear.
Along with directing, the anime has an amazing soundtrack and sound effects, giving the episode a more profound feel. The use of dripping, shallow water and creeping footsteps gives you a suspenseful, horror movie feel. What I love most about their usage of music is when a hopeful song plays, and then, suddenly, there’s this screeching violin sound after Isabella, the children’s “mom”, finds Conny’s bunny misplaced. Her eyes wide, wearing a creepy murderous look gave me a thrilling chill. 
Overall, this anime was unsettling. In one episode, this show really went from 0 to 100 and was surprising without being random. Right to the point, but not rushed, the first episode gave an inside look of what’s to come in the season. It leaves me at the edge of my seat. Who is on their side? What lies beyond the walls? What does the impaled flower mean? Intense, suspense, foreshadowing and tone, all five stars from me.
Crunchyroll is $6.95 a month, https://www.crunchyroll.com/the-promised-neverland
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