By Chloe Hunt '21
Murder on the Orient Express astounded audiences this past weekend, and in line with North Cross’s stringent Covid protocols, the performances were virtual. Orchestrating a production of high caliber virtually is not a task for the faint-hearted, as director Jess Jones-Gausla learned.
Jones-Gausla boasts a strong theatrical resumé dating back to her childhood.
“I did a few plays when I was very young and in highschool became active in the local community theatre and college theatre scene,” Jones-Gausla said. “I got a BA in Theatre Performance from Barton College and worked in the NC Triangle for many years. When I found that unsustainable monetarily, I went to graduate school at Cal State LA and received my MFA in Theatre, Film and Television: Acting. This training was to allow me to make a living in my chosen profession.”
Although the pandemic prevented Jones-Gausla from utilizing her graduate degree, it did allow for Jones-Gausla and her husband to make new plans.
“I graduated in 2020, so the world has gotten in the way a bit, the pandemic is what brought my husband and I to Roanoke and it completely changed our plans of making a career in LA. Since LA is not the center of the pandemic, we have made other plans to go to Oslo, Norway, and pursue careers there.”
Jones-Gausla’s love for theatre began with England’s national poet, Shakespeare. Although Shakespeare’s works can be jarring for young performers, Jones-Gausla fell in love with seeing Shakespearian works performed.
“Shakespeare got me interested in acting - particularly seeing it performed - not reading it. I loved the way the actors could so clearly tell a story and take you on a journey in a theatre or in your own living room that we would have no way of going on in real life,” Jones-Gausla said. “I became obsessed with this in highschool and went to a few summer programs at Cambridge University that only deepened my love for this style of communication.”
Jones-Gausla then realized that theatre provided an opportunity to explore the world. In her eyes, theatre prompts dialogue and conversation, thus connecting audiences and actors in a unique way.
“As I grew older it became a way to heal the world for me. You can present anything on stage without it having to have actually happened, or explore something from the past, and make your audience think about what they have seen,” Jones-Gausla said. “It connects us in seeing an actors perspective and allowing the audience to form their own opinion about that perspective that they have just seen, without critiquing an actual person, it gives permission to dive in.”
For her MFA thesis, Jones-Gausla had the opportunity to analyze perhaps one of the most transformative plays in American history. This project not only increased her affinity for theatre, but made her more aware of an important epidemic.
“Harper Pitt in Angels in America. This was my thesis project to receive my MFA and one of the most important plays in American history, if not the most important play,” Jones-Gausla said. “It centers around the AIDS crisis and is one of the first works for the stage that explores queer lives as full lives and not as a tool to tell a straight story.”
For students who are considering pursuing a career in theatre, Jones-Gausla has some advice, and one thing that want-to-be theatre professionals should be mindful of.
“Money. Because this is a gig to gig business, it is difficult financially. 'Survival jobs' in coffee shops and restaurants are great in theory, but the wage for that work in this country is horrendous and it takes too much of one's time and energy, at least as you get older, away from your career,” Jones-Gausla said. “This is why I have opened up my view to film and television and received a degree where I can now teach college level courses and look to being an associate professor at a university to augment my income while continuing to build a career as an actor.”
Although a career in theatre has its difficulties, Jones-Gausla believes that theatre has the unique opportunity to better our world.
“ It is about and for the community and forms a discussion that has the potential to further society.”
The Secret History Book Review
By Chloe Hunt '21
I love crime and thriller movies: Knives Out, The Firm, The Departed, and really anything like that. Movies have the unique ability to keep you on the edge of your seat and really make you want to eat popcorn, but so many people believe that they can only find that exciting, suspenseful element in movies rather than literature. After all, I do not think I am alone as a high school student in saying that a movie is typically more engaging than a book.
That is why I love The Secret History. This story kept me on the edge of my seat, so-to-speak, from the very beginning. An inverted crime novel, this thrilling piece will draw you in in an inescapable manner, even if you think you do not like books. My only critique is that this book is long, a stunning 592 pages, but it also provides an unique and exciting escape from reality.
The narrative begins with a lower-class teen from California attending college in Vermont. The narrator is immersed into an environment of intellectual sophistication, and he befriends students who are studying the Classics with a questionable professor. However, this group spends a lot of time not focused on school, but rather in a drug-filled haze, which leads them to kill someone. The novel revolves around this story line.
The book about murder is not new– in fact, it is done quite frequently. What is so interesting about The Secret History is primarily the perspective. So many murder mysteries are told through a third person omniscient narrative, which can garble the essence of the story. However, this novel is told through the first person point of view, Richard Papen, which enhances the chilling atmosphere of the book and makes it a more compelling read.
What is also interesting is that the author, Donna Tartt, provides a new take on the murder mystery. It is not a “who-dun-it,” but a “why-done-it.” From the beginning (so this is not a spoiler), the audience becomes aware that the narrator was culpable in a murder. As the reader, you will initially be left confused, which is why I urge you to keep reading. Tartt’s prose is not just strong, but it is so deliberate, using each word to craft a narrative so compelling that page turning becomes irresistible.
I am certainly late to the game reading this novel nearly 20 years after its publication, but I do not think I am alone. I urge all high school students to find a hard copy (more fun to read) or just search for a PDF online. Whenever you find yourself jaded by your studies of calculus or Spanish, start reading The Secret History, because as cliché as it may sound, all of its wonders are so secret and so special.
We live in a society where globalization is present in our everyday lives. It has
gradually become an essential component of the way we communicate with
each other, how business is conducted, and the way people understand
current affairs. Globalization is a phenomenon that brought about the
acknowledgment of cultural diversity and the widespread idea that
multilingualism is a consequence of it. Therefore, it is no surprise that
multilingual classrooms are becoming more common even though they may
still be in their early stages.
Multilingual education has acquired more relevance because a growing portion
of the student population can understand and/or converse in more than one
language so multilingualism is no longer just a way to reflect one aspect of
your identity, it is a true representation of what the classrooms have become:
an extension of globalization. Therefore, multilingualism in education needs to
go hand in hand with the present times. Education cannot fall behind when it
comes to keeping up with the current trends in the global village our world has
Multilingual education is an enriching feature in our classrooms that is here to
stay. It presents the possibility of interpreting our world from multiple
perspectives. It opens new doors to understanding other cultures from a
standpoint where this is no "right" or "wrong" answer about customs and
traditions. Individualities are presented in a different light and, consequently,
we can develop skills that help us appreciate and reflect on what makes us
different when considering these differences may enrich our lives and
experiences. These features go beyond languages and affect many aspects of
education and students' perceptions of the world.
Multilingual education can also bridge the gap among intercultural
coexistence. If multiple languages are present and there is a conscious effort
when creating a curriculum with a pacing guide and units of study, lessons,
and projects that focus on languages and the cultures of those languages with
an emphasis on comparing how each language has evolved based on how its
culture has affected it, then students of different cultures may begin to
understand each other better by actively engaging in exchanging ideas about
their language and their customs. In this type of learning environments, class
activities like translations, interpretations, and compare/contrast help develop
skills that put education in a new dimension where critical thinking skills,
emotional learning, and experiential learning are just some of the added
benefits. They can also help our frame of mind become “more flexible” and
broaden the borders of concepts by putting everything into a more "malleable"
state. It is comparisons what many times trigger reasoning from multiple points
of view and higher thinking skills.
Multilingual education offers the essential tools to access more opportunities
to grow in a future career or occupation. A child that has been exposed to a
rich multilingual education knows no barriers or distances and one can only
dream of the exponential growth in that child's education and the potential for
a greater future. However, multilingual education has not become more
relevant just because of all the advantages it can have in academics or a
future job. Multilingualism reflects a society that is going through great and
deep changes to adapt to a new era that is ever evolving at a rapid pace.
The increasing recognition and use of multiple world languages are what has
put multilingualism at one of the top spots of desired high-quality education
and it is becoming a major goal for many educational communities around the
world. Nevertheless, it is vital to remember that there would be no multilingual
education without a diversity of cultures that coexist in the same environment
and actively interact with each other. Multilingual education is the result of the
effects of globalization and the social and psycholinguistic impact it has on our
There is much more to come in multilingual education as it continues to strive
for permanent success in its implementation. Our current system of education
must find ways to meet the demands of a student population that is gradually
and steadily taking a leading role when it comes to making sure their voice is
heard. Educators and administrators are the ones who must ensure that
further steps are taken towards establishing new programs that can be taught
in a wider variety of educational contexts that welcome all languages and all
Mariana B. Hermosilla de Casco M. Ed.
By Hania Raza '24
One of the many new clubs available for high school students is the finance club. Several students have joined the club in order to learn more about investing, money management, finance, and the stock market. Dr. Koss, faculty advisor of the finance club and high school math teacher, said that students can learn various skills from this club, even if they do not have much knowledge about finance yet.
“It is really geared towards anyone, but especially towards people who are interested in these things and know about them, but maybe have been intimidated because some of the vocabulary and some of the way people talk about these things gets really complicated, and people kind of get afraid, a little bit, of it. So this is a way for students who are interested, or even some teachers around here to have a friendly introduction to all of this stuff.” Dr. Koss said, “We are not going to do anything really crazy complicated. It is really designed to be introductory.”
Konur Onufer ‘24 said that he joined to learn more about investing and finance, so that he would not have to worry about it in the future. “Investment, done correctly, is one way to not only make substantial amounts of money, but to secure a reliable source of income that I will carry with me even after I retire,” Onufer said. “As of now, I do not know very much about the stock market, so I have decided to join this club in an attempt to learn.”
Students can learn many important techniques from the finance and investment club. In later years, its members will not have to worry about investing their money because they will have learned important techniques that they will use for the rest of their lives. “So my main goal, I mean, like I said, when you are talking about money management or investing or anything like that, there is some lingo, there are some techniques, there are some tools that you need to learn how to use,” Dr. Koss said, “and knowing about that stuff is, of course, going to help you out, and again, make you less afraid or less anxious about getting started.”
Dr. Koss also expressed that there is a big advantage for students who learn about investing early. He explained the concept of compound interest. “The earlier you get started with this, the more you will have an opportunity to grow the money that you have to get more in the end,” Dr. Koss said. “And if you start earlier, you can really get ahead, whereas if you wait to get started until you are older, or something like that, you do not have as many of those opportunities to take advantage of the compounding process where this money grows at, what is called, an exponential rate.”
Dr. Koss wants the members to learn that these tools will help them to have a better life in the future. “So I hope that some people, some students, currently here, will take that to heart, and realize that, if they get started on this early, they are going to be able to live a much more comfortable life later on,” Dr. Koss said. “When they need that money for retirement, or if they have kids, they need to pay for college for their kids, it might be any of those big things, buying a house is another big one.”
The Finance club helps to teach its members how to l benefit from learning finance. “Everyone can benefit greatly from the knowledge of how to invest,” Onufer said. “I would recommend this club to anyone.”
The Holiday Tree
By Grace Simon '22
The Holidays have begun at North Cross and it really is the most wonderful time of the year. To add light to the shadows of 2020, North Cross has decided to put up a Holiday tree in the student center. An idea by head of the upper school Stephen Belderes was to have the students bring in the ornaments to decorate the tree. This just makes the Holiday tree more valuable and personable to the North Cross community.
The dean of students Leigh Ann Hamlin, and the director of the Student Council Association (SCA) are the ones who made this Holiday tree possible. They both, with the help of Belderes, have spread the word to the students to bring in ornaments to make the tree more specialized to the North Cross students. This is the first year the tree will be put up, but the ornaments will carry legacies of all the students as years pass.
The Holiday tree at North Cross is already doing its job which is spreading joy and the Holiday spirit amongst the students and staff. “We're calling it a ‘“Holiday tree” to ensure that all students can help decorate and celebrate their traditions,”Hamlin said.
Many students like Jessica Palisca 22’ and Campbell Neel 22’ enjoy seeing the Holiday tree. “Seeing the Holiday tree not only gets me in the Holiday spirit but also gives me more of a motivation to get through these next weeks till break,” Neel said. “It adds festiveness, brightness, and is something different than usual,” Palisca said.
The global studies program is a program for students who would like to learn more about international affairs or pursue a career in it, and it gives more opportunities to students after they graduate as well as while they are in school. It has been at North Cross School since 2012. Students may join this program when they are in ninth or tenth grade. Throughout high school, students in this program go to seminars, travel around the world, and do other activities in order to gain a certain amount of points. They also have to attend some classes, including Introduction to Global Studies and a language of their choice. They can gain points from being in these classes as well. A certain number of points is required by the end of high school in order to get a Global Studies Distinction.
Ryan DeMarco, the faculty advisor of this program, said that one of the main advantages of it is that students get a better understanding of global studies. “It allows students to gain a global education and worldview,” DeMarco said, “as well as adds distinction to their college applications.”
Some students who have graduated with this distinction have gone onto prestigious colleges. “Many will go onto prestigious universities and Honors programs at those schools such as Echols School at UVA,” Demarco said. “Another student went to school in Paris as part of their university experience.”
In this program, students have many opportunities to travel and are encouraged to do so. “Our students go on fantastic trips abroad,” DeMarco said, “as well as to Model United Nations at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.”
Allison Hammond ‘21, a student who has been in this program for four years, said that one of the best parts of highschool for her was that she was able to meet people from around the world. “One of my favorite experiences in the program was when I traveled to Boston for Harvard Model United Nations,” said Hammond. “Immersing myself in the various seminar topics and meeting new people from all around the globe was definitely a highlight of my time in the upper school.”
This program has changed in the past year due to COVID, but students are still able to do some of the same activities virtually. “This year is different. Due to travel restrictions and just general COVID restrictions, we haven’t been able to travel, experience festivals, visit museums, or listen to seminars in person,” said Hammond. “However, there have been a multitude of virtual activities to take advantage of, such as virtual seminars and museums.”
By Chloe Hunt '21
Murder on the Orient Express, a dramatic comedy written by Agatha Christie, will be brought to Fishburn this year. Well, not exactly Fishburn– the winter play will be recorded, and actors will be performing from their homes.
Accomplished director Jess Jones-Gausla, daughter of AP English instructor Polly Jones, took over the winter play this year. In order to best comply with the Covid-19 protocols, she decided that the production be entirely virtual.
“This is the way theatre has kept going during this pandemic while keeping everyone safe. We are doing our part,” Jones-Gausla said. “Doing this show online takes away many aspects of a theatre production, such as being able to work with a scene partner, and the use of the body is very different.”
Jones-Gausla also said that while the circumstances are not ideal, students are learning new skills.
“This necessity to work online does allow for a training that is more akin to a video audition or film work. I have done my best to provide our cast with as much information on how a professional actor works as possible and allowed them all to choose which aspect they will focus on to help themselves grow,” Jones-Gausla said. “This is a difficult year, and I have aimed to make this show both a place to lean into the work required to be part of the theatre industry and a place to have fun and unwind.”
Murder on the Orient Express is certainly a fun show. For students eager to see the production, Jones-Gausla provided a small preview of what to expect.
“This is an exciting tale of a mystery on a train,” Jones-Gausla said. “Students can expect a few tricks and turns, blood, and quite a few screams.”
As a new director at North Cross and an actor herself, Jones-Gausla brings a fresh perspective to the stage and wants to embrace each actor’s nuances.
“As a director, I very much enjoy introducing ideas to the actors and seeing when, if, and how they incorporate these ideas into their work. I am primarily an actor who delves deeply into the study of human life and directing, for me, is a study of that study,” Jones-Gausla said. “I get to see all the perspectives of human life that are not my own and how that plays into the building of a character. My focus this year, more than ever, is to allow the actors to work on what they want to work on, so you will see focuses in many different areas from different actors.”
The cast is composed of veterans of the North Cross stage, but the lead role of the detective, Hercule Poirot, is played by new student, Andrew Dupree ‘21.
Kaeleigh Howlett ‘24, a student since lower school, decided to audition for the winter play after seeing Clue! On Stage last year.
“In the play, I am Michel, Mother, and Radio,” Howlett said. “What prompted me to join was the play last year, Clue.”
Howlett has fostered her love for theatre through musicals over the years.
“At North Cross, this is not my first production. I have done a couple of musicals in the past,” Howlett said. “What inspired my interest in theater was in 5th grade my mother, without me knowing, signed me up for a show at the school. The show was Alice in Wonderland and at first, I did not enjoy it but, then I started to like it, and I fell in love.”
For Howlett, the most exciting part of the play is character development.
“My favorite part about the role is the building of the character,” Howlett said. “I don’t want to spoil anything in the show but each character has a lot of background that is important in the show. Also having to do a French accent is fun.”
In order to strengthen the actors’ accent abilities, Jones-Gausla brought in an acting coach from Los Angeles, Matthew Floyd Miller.
“Many are working with accents, and I was able to bring in an accent coach from LA who was a teacher of mine to provide the actors with the tools needed to do this work,” Jones-Gausla said. “Some are working with multiple characters; some, exploring ages vastly different from their own.”
Chloe Hunt ‘21 who plays Countess Andrenyi thoroughly enjoyed her session with Miller.
“The Hungarian accent is definitely difficult,” Hunt said. “I have not had to do an accent for any of the plays here in the past, so this role is definitely challenging. However, Mr. Miller has really helped me improve and embrace some of the nuances for Slavic accents.”
Phoebe Anderson ‘22, playing Greta and the nanny, likes having the opportunity to work on a new accent as well.
“My favorite part about the role is that I get to practice a Swedish accent,” Anderson said. “ I’ve never done an accent before.”
Overall, the play has been a joy for Jones-Gausla and the cast to put together.
“This group shines brightly as they work and watching these actors bring their characters to life more and more every day is a delight,” Jones-Gausla said. “I am a board to bounce ideas off that sometimes puts up an annoying wall for the cast to work around. They are the show.”
Students can watch the recorded version of the play the last weekend in January. In the meantime, be on the lookout for digital previews.