Pro Vita Week opened with Sunday night’s A Cappella –Palooza, an event that featured Yale University’s vocal ensemble The Spizzwinks, University of Massachusetts’s Vocal Suspects and Berkshire’s own Greensleeves and Ursa Minor. “What made the concert great was the variety of music and groups,” said Eliza Farley ’13. An enthusiastic crowd of students, faculty and families were treated to a blend of classic a cappella as well as fun interpretations of contemporary songs. YoonHye (Linda) Kim ’13, also enjoyed the evening’s variety, “The Spizzwinks were very well-prepared and polished, while the Vocal Suspects showed that they really love music.” Cameras flashed as the Spizzwinks sang “Grace Kelly” and students roared with approval for both music and time-honored stories. Evening entertainment continues throughout the week with presentations and interactive activities. -- Lissa McGovern, English teacher and roving Pro Vita reporter
Tuesday’s speaker, professional mountaineer and photographer Jake Norton, regaled students with his harrowing adventures on Everest, including three ascents, and the lessons he’s learned. Perhaps most poignant was his arrival at the pinnacle of the world’s highest peak accompanied by his realization that the summit was simply that, a summit. He took a photo, gazed around, and quickly descended. From organizing his expeditions from his home base in Colorado to traversing from the 17,000 foot base camp to the 29,029 foot summit, Jake brought to the forefront of everyone’s mind the very valuable idea that life is about the journey, not the destination, and that each of us needs a challenge to surmount.
Interestingly, Jake shared a connection to another Berkshire speaker, Sir Edmund Hilary. Hilary, one of most renowned mountaineers of his age, went missing on Mt. Everest in 1924 and Jake was a part of the expedition that discovered his remains. A brief video clip with Jake’s teammate discovering the body and reading a prayer left the audience silent.
Jake left students with a homework assignment. Imposed on a picture of Jake staring at a mountain were the words “My Everest is:__________________.” “Amazing,” stated Grace Fowler ’13, as she collected multiple homework assignments. She had several mountains to climb. Senior prefect Jack Krueger ’11 was inspired to spend the night on the mountain immediately afterward. Anna Driscoll ’13 thought Jake’s professionalism and eloquent talk was the best presentation she’d seen at Berkshire. It certainly touched a vein for students as the question and answer session had to be cut short after half an hour. The evening finished with milk and cookies at the back of the theater and an opportunity for students to ask questions to Jake individually. -- Jasper Turner, Pro Vita Director
How could the sound of water dropping in a rain barrel shape a young man’s life? Well, for Fred Newman, it has made all the difference. Mr. Newman, an actor specializing in sound effects, author, Harvard Business School graduate, and a regular actor in the weekly radio program A Prairie Home Companion first learned to make sound effects from men living in the small town in rural LaGrange, Georgia in which he grew up.
As a guest speaker Thursday evening, Newman urged students to recognize what they love and to follow “what makes you weird.” Engaging the students in a group water drop sound explosion and entertaining the audience with great stories filled with crazy, fun sounds, Mr. Newman shared his love for a well-told story and his deep appreciation for the everyday sounds of life.
After sharing random, often silly sounds to the audience, Mr. Newman asked, “Imagine that you have super powers and that you can know what’s behind a wall 150 feet away. Would you like to have those super powers? Well, you do. That is the power of hearing.” Listening to the sounds around him and learning to mimic them ultimately brought him to a career in film, TV and radio. Author of the book Mouthsounds, Mr. Newman is both a serious student of sound and an avid teacher of creative noises. Through the telling of a simple, yet tall-tale that Mr. Newman heard as a child, students were urged to recognize what makes them unique and to follow that interest in shaping future vocations. -- Lissa McGovern, English teacher and roving Pro Vita reporter