Local Filmmaker Holds Screening of Short Film

On Friday night, there was a film screening of Beyond the Grid, a short film directed by local filmmaker Raouf Zaki, at Holliston High School. The film is a comedy that follows a man on a series of blind dates with a set of sisters.

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“I always liked comedy,” said Zaki, who has made two other short films previously, one of them a comedy like Beyond the Grid. “I wanted to make a film all outdoors and in bizarre locations that are off the grid.”

The films four main scenes were all shot in Holliston and the surrounding area, and the production team had to rely on the cooperation of the locals to be able to shoot on the locations that they wanted.

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Zaki speaking to the audience after the screening

“Finding the locations was a challenge, but the local people were very generous in terms on getting locations,” said Zaki. “It was so nice having people open up their farms.”

Zaki gave special thanks to the people at Little Beehive Farm in Holliston during the Q&A session after the screening for allowing the crew to use their farm as a location in the film.

The film took almost a year in total to put together. Zaki said that he first found the script online, which was written by Jason Allen, who lives in Tennessee, and that he optioned the script last June.

He went on to say that the production team was assembled in September and October, and that all the casting for the show was done over Skype in the fall. Filming took place in early November, and they were able to get everything shot before Thanksgiving, leaving all winter to work on post-production.

Zaki plans on entering Beyond the Grid in as many film festivals as possible this summer, both nationally and internationally. His previous two films have won multiple awards at short film festivals.

“I think it’s a beautiful American story about dating in the modern age with offbeat characters,” Zaki said. “Comedy is about the characters. It’s all in the script and the actors.”

 

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Community Tennis Clinic Concludes Spring Session

For the second year in a row, Holliston High School junior Haley Hanestad put on a free community tennis clinic, which held its last class on Saturday. The clinic meets every Saturday morning starting in April, and is open to kids in second through fifth grade.

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Haley, who is a member of the Holliston varsity girls’ tennis team, realized that there are no youth tennis programs in Holliston, like there are for baseball and basketball, and saw an opportunity to create a program where kids can learn the fundamentals of tennis.

“I’m really passionate about tennis,” she said, “and I really wanted to grow the program and get [the kids] started earlier.”

Last year, the program’s first year, Haley said that they had one session of about 15 kids. This year, there was so much interest that they had to expand to two sessions.

“They seem to love it,” said Haley. “They have fun and seem to want to come back next year.”tennis-2

Haley’s father Ryland, who played tennis at Colgate and was a ranked junior player, helps out with the lessons, and really enjoys working with the kids. His favorite part of teaching the classes is the kids’ “enthusiasm and willingness to learn. They’re eager to learn the game, and that’s super.”

He also said that it was mostly Haley and her mother who came up with the idea of creating this clinic, and that is has been a complete family effort. Haley said that she plans on handing the program off to her younger sister once she leaves for college.

The classes focus on the basics of tennis, such as learning the forehand and backhand strokes, along with playing some games where the kids can put what they learned into use.

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“I love talking to them,” said Haley. “They love learning new strokes. It’s just fun to teach them.”

Haley and her father plan on running the clinic again next spring, and Haley is also offering private lessons to anyone who participated in the clinics, should they want them.

Holliston Police Association Holds Memorial Golf Tournament

On June 11, the Holliston Police Association held the first annual charity golf tournament to benefit the Officer John Johnson and Lieutenant Sean Moore Scholarship Funds at the Pinecrest golf club in Holliston.

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Each year, the scholarships are given to graduating seniors who intend to pursue degrees in criminal justice or social sciences. Officer Johnson was killed in the line of duty in 1981, and Lieutenant Moore passed away after a battle with cancer in 2014.

“Now with two scholarships, this tournament will make it easier to fund them and increase the size of the scholarship,” said Carl Damigella, one of the organizers of the tournament and a good friend of Officer Johnson. “This will be a lot of fun for [everyone] playing.”

“This tournament is a way to keep the scholarships and the memories of both officers alive,” said Denise Moore, whose husband was Lieutenant Moore. Moore also said that the entire tournament was the idea of Joe Waugh, who has a son in the police force, and that he deserves a lot of the credit for the tournament’s success.

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The tournament has been well received by the community, and the support and donations for the event have been easy to come by.

“Everyone has been super generous and the community has been great,” said Jessica Aronson, the daughter of Officer Johnson.

“As soon as one person knew about it, everyone seemed to jump on board,” added Damigella. “We couldn’t have asked for a better venue, especially here in town.”

Damigella was hesitant to set a goal for the money raised by the tournament, but he did say that, because this is the tournament’s first year, “we were shooting low, but I think it will come in above that.”

With the success of this year’s tournament, the date for next year’s has already been set for June 10, 2017.

 

 

Holliston Ultimate Frisbee wins State Championship

The Holliston ultimate frisbee team captured the Massachusetts Division II State Championship on Saturday, winning the championship game of the tournament over Somerville by a score of 13-3.

The Panthers had a very successful regular season, only losing three games the entire year. This great performance during the season allowed them to enter the state tournament as the number two overall seed.

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The state championship trophy

Holliston started off the tournament, which was held in Devens on June 4, with a 13-4 win over Natick in a game which was close in the early going, but the Panthers were able to eventually pull away. They then defeated Newton North’s “B” team by a score of 11-6 to move onto the semifinals, where they would face St. John’s Prep, the third seeded team in the tournament.

St. John’s was “extremely athletic,” according to Holliston head coach Chris Levasseur, and the game was very close with a lot of back and forth action. Ultimately, Holliston was able to build a lead in the second half and win by a score of 12-8.

In the championship game, Holliston faced Somerville, who had just defeated Xavarian, the defending state champions, in their semi-final game.

“We knew that they would be a good team and a physical team,” said coach Levasseur. “We played very disciplined and very smart. We played the best offense that I’ve seen in my life.”

The Panthers built a large lead, and things got a little chippy towards the end, but they were able to stay focused and rise above it, coach Levasseur said, and won the game handily to capture Holliston’s first state championship in ultimate frisbee since 2008.

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Peter Georgakopoulos and Teddy Campbell celebrate the win

Right from the start of the season, the members of the team realized their potential and worked hard to ensure that this would be a successful season.

“We came in with a strict goal to win states and worked extremely hard every practice and game to prepare us to be the best we could,” said Peter Georgakopoulos, a junior on the team.

“I think having that goal [of winning the championship] helped us strive for greatness and work together a lot better,” said Lee Mogren, a senior and one of the team captains.

Coach Levasseur said that going into the season, he and assistant coach Jefferson Wood thought that the team could win it all, but it wasn’t until about half-way through the season that they realized that winning the state championship was a real possibility.

“This year’s team was not as athletic as previous years’,” coach Levasseur said, “but they trusted each other more. The difference was the ability of the team to gel together. They worked really hard at being good at everything.”

Coach Levasseur pointed to the leadership from the captains and the veteran players as a key part of the team’s success.

“Teddy Campbell and Lee Mogren were the best captains that we could have asked for,” he said. “They constantly lead by example and their positive attitude, work ethic, and high level of respect set the tone for the entire team.”

“As a captain, it’s important to feel the pulse of the team to understand what kind of leader you need to be,” said Teddy about his role on the team. “Sometimes the team needs to settle down, crack some jokes, and just play, and sometimes they need a kick in the butt to focus up.”

Lee was quick to give some of the credit for the team’s success to the coaches as well.

“We owe everything to them,” he said about coach Levasseur and coach Wood. “They’re two of the smartest and most spirited ultimate players I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine getting to the championship with any other coaches.”

The strong leadership from both the coaches and the players allowed younger players who were new to the sport grow and become players who were capable of playing and starting in the state tournament.

Teddy says that his favorite part of being a member of the team was “watching the kids who, at the start of the season, could not throw or catch a disc … make clutch plays in the state tournament. It makes me proud of the work everyone put into practice this year.”

Coach Levasseur added that the team’s depth was one of the main reasons the team was so good this year, and that everyone on the team, even the freshmen, were comfortable being out on the field by the end of the year.

“The whole game is about having fun,” said coach Levasseur, “and every year the team has a lot of fun. This really was an outstanding group of athletes.”