All the world’s a stage, and this former sophomore’s the one who manages it

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by Nicola Fornino, Staff Writer

The room was full of darkness. The only images visible were concentrated faces, illuminated by the candles that the silent are holding in their hands. Tears were rolling down many faces.

This was the solemn candlelight ceremony: a ceremony that impacts the lives of members from the Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute, known colloquially as the LMTI.

The ceremony is held annually at YMCA Camp Mason in Hardwick, NJ.  The primary goal of this summer camp, and program as a whole, is to teach students how to become great inspirational leaders for others to follow in their communities. In other words, the ceremony is intended to help members realize that they are part of a meaningful program.

The LMTI organization promotes self-confidence in teens, provides them with fun activities that offer healthy alternatives to bad choices, and fosters their inherent capabilities.  LMTI members from all over NJ come to this camp to learn how to create a supportive environment for students inside and outside of the program. Members learn how to create a positive environment in their school, town, and community by emphasizing their own skills that they discover in the program.  At this particular summer camp, members attend for five days.

This program was initiated to keep alive the memory of Lindsey Meyer, a victim of Cystic Fibrosis who helped others the current way that LMTI does. In honor of their amazingly strong role model, the LMTI organization was created to keep her contributions to the world alive.

The second to last day of summer camp is one of the most important days, not only due to the moving candlelight ceremony, but also because it is the day when the heaviest, most inspirational presentations are shared.  At this candlelight ceremony, many people realized how much support they had and what they had become a part of.

Bridget Darcy is one of these people. It was the moment when it really hit her: how important this program was, and how strong of an impact it had on so many lives. She knew this previously, but this ceremony just underscored her initial thought.  Here, Darcy realized that she was a part of a very strong, supportive, kind, and awesome group of people. And she is very happy that she decided to join this club.

Bridget Darcy is a sophomore at Glen Rock High School. She has lived in Glen Rock for most of her life. Darcy has been a very dedicated member of the LMTI program since the end of her freshman year, and plans to be through the rest of her high school career and throughout her college years.

“We end the night with a candlelight ceremony. And that was really when I realized that was the thing that I was a part of now. And it’s a really big thing. And it’s a good thing,” Darcy said.

Teacher and director Juliet McKinley has known Darcy since her freshman year. She has had an enormous impact on Darcy’s life as her drama teacher, Theatre Company director, and LMTI advisor. McKinley constantly influences Darcy inside and outside of school through drama classes and LMTI meetings and events.

Regarding the summer camp, McKinley said it was “a great experience for everyone involved.”

“It was an opportunity for people to just be themselves and to promote positive energy and choices,” McKinley said.

“It was just a really nice, fun atmosphere where everyone’s just comfortable and really relaxed the entire time,” Darcy said “There were a lot of people there.”

Participating during school and also during the summer, Darcy gets involved with a lot of LMTI events. Along with the other LMTI members, she helps with planning their events and getting people involved. These activities are meant to give kids something to do other than making bad choices. Some of their events include movie nights and game nights in which people hang out and have fun.

One of LMTI’s most recent events, hosted at the high school, was their Monster Truck Tea Party. The event featured food and board games. Many people attended the Monster Truck Tea Party—some were familiar faces from previous events—and they really enjoyed this event.

Most of the LMTI meetings are held at school. Glen Rock is one of many towns that have an LMTI group in its high school. Therefore, during the summer, different groups from other towns will meet with each other, while during the school year, most Glen Rock LMTI meetings consist of only Glen Rock students.

Planning these LMTI events is a fun process. Different events will be based on an upcoming holiday, and some will just be a fun game or movie night.

“It’s a lot of shared responsibility. If you can’t help out or attend this event, you’ll be able to help out more with this one,” said Darcy “Everybody winds up bringing something to the table.”

One of the most difficult LMTI events to plan was The Half-Day Café. It was very successful in raising money and creating an idea that inspired other clubs create events similar to this one on half-days.

Similar to a camp counselor, in LMTI, the counselors, or leaders are known as “YACS.” YACS help put together the events during the summer camp.

“They’re there to help the adult advisors, and to make sure the campers are having a good time and getting the most out of it as they can,” Darcy said.

These members have to go to several training sessions throughout the year to help prepare them for the summer camp. Here, they get to see other members from other LMTI groups from around New Jersey.

One LMTI member that Bridget looks up to is senior Kyle O’Connell. He is one of the LMTI summer camp YACS. Darcy and O’Connell met during her freshmen year, when she had just joined Theatre Company stage crew. O’Connell describes her as a very helpful and caring person who “always wants to make people happy, and never wants to upset anyone.”

“The people are so accepting and loving unconditionally. They just become really good friends to the point where they’re almost like another family,” Darcy said. “You just know that whenever you have an issue or if you’re really happy with something, you can just go to them for any reason. They’re all really great people.”

 

Sit, Stay, See

Along with being an active member of the LMTI program, Darcy helps her community as a member of The Seeing Eye. The Seeing Eye program trains puppies to help blind individuals.

Since the end of fourth grade, Darcy and her family have helped raise and train Seeing Eye puppies.

“They’re the ones that introduced me to doing it,” Darcy said. “They’ve made it possible to raise four dogs.”

Darcy and her family attend Seeing Eye meetings in Woodcliff Lake, NJ every month with other families from Bergen County. At these meetings, the temporary owners are taught how to properly train their dogs. The dogs are taught basic obedience, simple commands, good behavior, household rules, and more.

Darcy gets very attached to all of the dogs that she has raised, even though she can only keep them for a short amount. She says that it is always very hard to see them leave, even though she is proud to know that her help is beneficial for the dogs.

One of the dogs that she is the most attached to was the first one that she raised. The dog is a yellow Labrador named Ziti. The Darcy family had Ziti for 18 months, which is a long time for a dog to be in training. After a year and a half, Ziti returned to The Seeing Eye, passing all of her exams. Ziti is now living and working with a woman in Baltimore, MD.

Darcy’s favorite puppy that she has raised up to this point would probably be Cheza, a German Shepard, the second dog that she had raised.

“She was really good. Probably my favorite dog so far, because she was the smartest. She learned how to work our water cooler, which is weird. She knew how to climb over gates and chase the cats,” Darcy said.

When Darcy was in seventh grade, Cheza went back to The Seeing Eye. She is now helping a family in Florida.

The third dog that she raised was a Golden Retriever and Labrador mix named Iris. She began her training during Darcy’s freshmen year. Iris, unfortunately, failed her Seeing Eye tests.

When a Seeing Eye puppy fails their tests, the family who raised them gets the first opportunity to adopt them. Otherwise, the dogs will be analyzed by Search and Rescue teams, Police teams, or Fire Stations. The other option is to check a family who has waited to adopt a Seeing Eye dog. Families will be waiting for failed Seeing Eye dogs for several years. The reason is because they are around two or three years old, and they are also very well-trained.

“She was actually looked at by the Baltimore Police Core, to be a police dog, but they decided she was too cute,” Darcy said. “So now, she is living with a family as a regular pet.”

Darcy raised her fourth dog at the beginning of her sophomore year—a yellow Labrador named Betty. On January 21st, 2015, Betty passed her medical exams and is now waiting to be placed in a new home.

As expected, it is extremely difficult to watch the dogs leave.

“With Cheza and Ziti it was probably harder because they were the first two, and I was younger, so that part was more difficult. We wound up doing a lot of crying, and when you have to clean up all the toys,” Darcy said, “that part is difficult. It’s a lot of crying.”

To make the transitions easier in the waiting time between getting a new dog, Darcy will “puppy-sit.”

Once the puppy goes back to The Seeing Eye, the families get one last chance to see their dog before they are placed in a home. There is a town walk in Morristown, NJ where families get to see their dog being walked by a trainer. The downside to this walk is that no interaction with the dogs are allowed.

“You just watch from across the street, and that’s pretty rough because it’s like ‘Oh, there’s my dog,’ but I’m not allowed to act upon it,” Darcy said “Knowing you’ll never see that dog again is weird. But it’s worth it, knowing that you did that for a person.”

“It’s fun and it’s rewarding for not only myself, but for other people as well,” said Darcy. “I meet a lot of nice people.”

 

Acting out

Darcy’s other favorite hobby is Theatre Company. She is a member of the Theatre Company stage crew. She has been a member of crew since the end of her freshmen year.

“Backstage is kind of insane. You wouldn’t be able to guess it from actually watching the shows, but backstage, there’s a lot of insanity—a lot of work going into the shows. Usually by show time, everything is organized enough, where it shouldn’t be too crazy,” Darcy said “But at least one thing has to go wrong for every show.”

In preparation for the show, Darcy helps out by getting the props and organizing them by which Act or Scene they should be placed in and which actor will need the prop. Organizing set pieces in the correct locations, figuring out whose set pieces they are, light cues, sound cues, transitions, curtain closings, curtain openings—this is the scene that Bridget helps out with at rehearsal before every show is performed.

Recently, Darcy has been given the job as Stage Manager. This position was passed down by O’Connell, whom she also knows through LMTI. Her first show as Stage Manager was the Spring Show of one-act plays.

O’Connell said that she’s “really good at just being on top of situations, and in charge of people, and stuff like that — that’s why she’s the Stage Manager.”

During the event of “passing the torch,” as McKinley says, O’Connell was happy for the position to be going to Darcy.

“It was like a relief. I was like: Good, I don’t have to worry about this now. After the first show, I was like: Okay, Bridget’s got this so I don’t have to worry about it at all. So, it was really weird, because I was still acting in the one show that I finally passed it over to Bridget for,” O’Connell said. “I was still involved, but I had to keep thinking: Oh, wait, crew’s going on and I’m not doing it—like someone else is in the position I was, and they’re doing a really good job.”

“It was terrifying and stressful, but completely worth it,” Darcy said. “I almost refused at first, and I was really nervous. I didn’t think I knew what I was doing.”

When Darcy found out that O’Connell was going to be acting in the Spring Show, she was surprised because she suddenly realized that she was the solitary Stage Manager.

“To be trusted with that as a sophomore seems really crazy,” Darcy said. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was really lucky to have a good crew, though—they all listened and worked well. By the end of the show, I was really proud of them for doing such a good job.”

“It was so special to see them both together having shared similar experiences and learned so much,” McKinley said.

“I am so lucky to have been given this experience,” Darcy says “I love it.”

In the future, Darcy hopes to continue working in a stage crew, throughout college, and after college.

 

Well-loved

Ayano Endo (’17) has known Darcy for about nine years. They met when they were in the same elementary school class.

“Bridget is an incredible friend. She’s loving, caring, supportive, kind, patient, understanding, and trusting. She’s the kind of friend that is always on your side and not just tell you that she believes in you, but shows it,” Endo said.

Julia Aguam, also a sophomore, has also been one of Darcy’s good friends since fifth grade when they met each other through a mutual friend.

“She is the bubbly, crazy friend, but, at the same time, she is always heartfelt and is always there to support her friends,” Aguam said. “She is always very busy, but I think that it is great that she is part of all these different clubs and events,”

“Bridget is kind, loving, welcoming, very compassionate and a great team player,” McKinley says.