Fall Production of Opera Scenes Hopes For Increased Support

School Events, The Arts

By Janaya Palmer

The Residential Reflections Photo Series

School News, The Arts

By Chloe McNeill

Baltimore School for Arts has recently welcomed BSA alum Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown as their new “Artist In Residence” for the Visual Arts department. 

Daríta de la Brown is a chamána (shaman) who has won numerous awards and comes from a long line of healers. She is an interdisciplinary artist, sculptor, filmmaker, and performer. 

She identifies as Black Latinx and is proud to be a first-generation American-born Panamanian. Brown has had many performances across her career that have taken place at The National Aquarium, The Walters Art Museum, The Phillips Collection, The Smithsonian and much more.

This residency will establish new connections with established artists, foster emerging partnerships with various organizations, and provide opportunities for students of visual art to study business and administration in the arts. 

The work Brown has begun for her students is one she is very committed to continue. At BSA, Brown will have the opportunity to mentor and teach students by guiding them through their own creative processes.

Brown works in her new office and studio area on the sixth floor. Students are always welcome to come in for whatever they need, whether it be advice, a critique, or simply a hug.

And her door is always wide open—it even has a very inviting cat-shaped doormat. For her scheduled studio hours, she is in her office on Mondays and Fridays, but she is always accessible to her students whenever and wherever they may need her.

This residency is a testament to her creative prowess and highlights her expertise as an educator and mentor.

Additionally, Brown is a Hopkins Public Humanities fellow. Currently, her sixth floor studio is occupied by the work she is producing for this residency. She accesses the archives and conducts research as a fellow, and she uses her art practice to reflect on her discoveries.

As she transitioned into her BSA residency, this fellowship was extended through this year. In her artistic pursuit, she is free to create anything she desires.  

In her current practice, through performance art, self portrait photography and videography, Brown plans to study and respond to Special Collections objects that center black women. 

Brown continues to ask herself and her audience  “What would I say to the women of these times? How can I make their memories bigger than life? How do I make sure that these women are not erased or lost in the archives?”

In order to give viewers a glimpse into the daily life of Black women of the past and to share her own personal narrative of inspiration from her family line, Brown combines her spiritual practice with the dynamic art of storytelling by analyzing archives in her work.

The BSA community is delighted to welcome Brown back to the school and looks forward to seeing the new works she will create during her residency. 

Her presence at the school will undoubtedly be a major highlight of the year and will serve as an inspiration to the students.

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Featured photo of Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown, by Chloe McNeill for the BSA Muse

Where U @: After School Hangout Spots for Dummies 

Teen Topics

By Scarlett O’Comartun and Jude Harvey

The 8-hour day of hard work at the Baltimore School for the Arts is not for the faint of heart. 

After critiques, rehearsals, never ending elevator complaints, and tests, you and your cohorts are released for the day onto the streets of scenic Mt. Vernon, where you each disperse to your after-school hangout spots. 

So, where are these popular places, you might ask? And which one should you make an appearance at? 

The Bun Shop

If you are looking for a place to recline after school and listen to some Mac Demarco, choose The Bun Shop. Here you will find a plethora of chelsea boots, good matcha, tired college students, and a bathroom with high security via the prison cell-esc lock code. 

You may be repelled from this location due to the dark mood lighting and slightly moist atmosphere, but the pastries and coffee are quite good. And yes, that mysterious stain on the velvet couch you sit on is just part of the aesthetic!

When discussing the topic of price, The Bun Shop won’t leave you turning couch cushions for quarters, but it’s surely not affordable for the common man. 


If you’re looking for an easy way to bring that bank account balance into the negatives and have a miniature doll-sized cup of joe, Fili is the place for you. It is located just a block away from our sweet home BSA, so it’s always convenient for an after-school coffee run. Fili is like The Avengers End Game movie of Mt. Vernon. The allure speaks for itself but in reality it’s comparable to all the other’s of its kind. 


If you love burnt iced coffee, a delicious scone, and/or an obscenely large key to the bathroom, Dooby’s is the perfect secondary location for you. 

Although you may think Dooby’s is just a cute cafe, once you take a gander at the menu, you’ll be surprised to find an assortment of Korean cuisine. From Bahn Mi’s to bowls of ramen to scones, it’s all delicious. 

You can either sit inside, and enjoy the indie music and peabody professor stares, or venture outside to get a glimpse of the natural beauty that is the rush hour traffic on Charles street. 


Starbucks, located on Charles Street, is a place where many BSA folk love to retreat. 

If you are seen at the Starbucks, picking up a frappe or a refreshing strawberry acai, you love a good hike. You may as well bring your little stick and mud covered boots to school so you can trek your way through the mile-long walk to get there. 

Starbucks is only attainable with a fresh paycheck in your pocket, for it is definitely on the pricey side. But if you’re craving that pumpkin spice latte (PSL), or signature crisp apple cold foam, it’s always reliable.

Never on A Sunday

One of the most popular spots to hangout after school is Never on A Sunday (which is now open on Sundays, although it feels a little sacrilegious), a local pizza and American food restaurant a mere few blocks away from BSA. If you want to get your BSA lingo down pat, refer to it as “Never’s”

People who are constantly seen here love the grimy smell and fluorescent light vibes. But don’t be turned away, the wings and pizza are surprisingly excellent. 

If you happen to forget to pack a scrumptious lunch one day, and the only other option was the cafeteria sloppy joes, your best option for a meal after school is to hit up Nevers for some fries to fill your aching stomach.

Never’s is an option that applies to all. Oftentimes it is affordable, or you can always find a classmate whose order you can mooch off of.

Bus Stop

Another option for after-school is the bus stop. No matter what bus stop you choose, the location is filled with delights of all kinds. Whether you’re waiting for the 95 Roland Park (or the lack there-of), or just enjoy sitting on the very uncomfortable “Baltimore-Greatest City in America” wooden benches, you can witness the Silver Bus approaching every 5 minutes just to spite you.

Watch out for Mr. Giordano, who has occasionally been seen at the wine bar across from the Charles Street bus stop; be sure to keep your head down to avoid making eye contact. 

It’s also a great spot to make eye contact with your BSA acquaintances alongside their parent as they drive home hand in hand in their Subaru. 

Mt. Vernon Parks

While chilling in one of the Mt. Vernon parks, one might convince oneself that they are truly celebrating sweater season. It’s the only time in the school day BSA students can take in some vitamin D by plopping down on a bench.

But in reality, all you get is a bombardment of strange inner city Baltimore smells and allergic reactions to the pollen that last for days from. 

It’s truly a nice place to hang out for 4 of the 365 days per year, but if you are tough as nails and watched Wild Kratts at a young age- you should bring your friends and hang out at the Mt. Vernon parks. 

One of the most exciting and fun things about hanging out in the parks is the free entertainment! Watch an assortment of dog walkers, Mt. Vernon locals, or tourists trying to find The Basilica. It’s a ‘People Watchers’ heaven. 

Coach Class

Coach Class is the place for you if you’ve ever seen an episode of the Gilmore Girls and thought “She’s so me” in regards to Rory Gilmore. 

Whether you are remastering a failed geometry test or a teacher’s pet just chatting it up with your favorite teacher, coach class has a cool, calm, and studious vibe.

Outside of BSA

An overlooked location for an after-school rendezvous is the exterior of BSA itself. You could be waiting for your very late parent, praying they zoom up at any moment even though they said they would be there 34 minutes ago, or just having some after-school fun with your best buds. 

If you like to show off your parkour skills by hopping up on the window ledge, which is so cool, then this is the place for you. 

But beware! For after a certain amount of time, the area will be filled with second grade dancers and their parents looking for the right TWIGS entrance. They will ask you!

Overall, every student at BSA can find an after-school escape somewhere. 

Whether it’s snacking on something scrumptious, chatting with your gal pals, or trying to finish work, there are so many options to choose from before you go home to complete your endless hours of homework. 

So next time, consider one of these beautiful Mt. Vernon landmarks to reside in for the afternoon.

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Music Outside of the Department: Karate Picnic

Teen Topics, The Arts

By Channing LauEngler

If you love Riot Grrrl or 90’s rock, this local band is perfect to keep on your radar. A Baltimore School for the Arts junior from the film department, Georgie Restauro, is the drummer in a band called Karate Picnic. 

The band performs in shows in and around Baltimore City. Audience members of Karate Picnic’s shows have said they have a “great stage presence,” and that their timing is sharp, but the most popular feedback from fans has been that they have a “cool vibe.” 

Karate Picnic’s members are all high school students in Baltimore. There is Georgie (drummer), Sophi Bender (singer), Maya Bride (guitarist and bassist), and Jack Mashaw (guitarist). 

This group of four met at the School of Rock, a music school in Towson. While they enjoyed playing music at School of Rock, they wanted to do more outside of it, so they formed Karate Picnic which gave them more freedom to “do their own thing.”

The style of their music is inspired by alternative rock/indie bands like The Breeders and That Dog. The members of Karate Picnic have regular rehearsals about every weekend, varying from 1-3 hours each depending on if they’re songwriting or if they have a gig coming up. 

Karate Picnic performs a combination of both covers and original songs. The band follows a very collaborative songwriting process. 

That process typically starts with Georgie and Sophi writing lyrics, then Jack and Maya coming up with guitar melodies, then Georgie and Jack figuring out a drum part together. 

So far, Karate Picnic has performed in two gigs, one of which was at The Ottobar, a well-known venue in Baltimore. This opportunity allowed Karate Picnic to gain a larger audience and make connections in the local music scene. 

Georgie Restauro said that meeting other bands has been one of their most positive highlights of the gigging experience. 

Other local bands have shown their support and given Karate Picnic lots of positive feedback. Another band of young musicians, Crocodile Tears, played in the same show as Karate Picnic, and has since supported the band by going to their Ottobar show. 

The band was very excited about their first fan interaction with a guy named Seth who saw them at the Ottobar. The majority of Karate Picnic’s fan base currently consists of friends, families, and peers of the members.

Since Georgie Restauro is in the film department, they have said that people at BSA can be a little confused when they bring up their pursuit of music outside of school. 

Restauro says that at BSA, since people are a lot more knowledgeable about music they tend to be more critical. 

“When you’re just playing shows, it’s just kinda like everyone’s having fun, like it doesn’t really matter what you sound like sometimes,” says Restauro.

Restauro is fond of the idea of BSA giving artists a space to share their work from outside of school. He said “Yeah, I think that would be really cool. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about something like that for a while – I feel like we should have a way to show off our art that is outside of our department. I know some visual artists who are really good at music, and I know some film kids who play music and things like that. We need a day to show off our other arts. Like a talent show or something.”

“I feel like our art doesn’t always have to be for the grade, we should definitely still do it just to do it. We lose that sometimes I think for sure,” Restauro stated.

Restauro also had some very insightful advice for aspiring musical artists in or out of the music department. 

“Talk to people,” Restauro advised, “because that’s the hardest part: finding other people who want to play music. Especially being at an art school, you have so many resources because there’s literally a whole music department that you could pull from even if you’re not in the music department. Be open to talking to other artists and finding out what genre you want to play.” 

They also suggested talking to bands who you might already know are at BSA, as they will be very helpful with music and performing advice. 

Restauro stated: “the way I had the confidence to go into the scene playing music is because of my friend, Sam, who already had a band.” So big shoutout to junior instrumentalist Sam Wylie. 
If you want to look out for future Karate Picnic shows, videos, or just want to support a local band check them out on instagram @karatepicnic !

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Featured photo of Georgie Restauro behind the drums, by Piper Cooke for the BSA Muse

Headphone Policy Reintroduced at BSA

School News, Teen Topics

By Charles Crown

The 2023-2024 school year is back in full swing at the Baltimore School for the Arts and with it the administration has reintroduced strict rules on personal devices. 

This reintroduction provides a great opportunity to see how students and teachers felt about these stricter rules, specifically when it comes to student usage of headphones during school hours.

Less than a week before school started, pictures of  BSA’s Student Code of Conduct taped to the walls emerged on social media. 

Excerpt from the Baltimore School for the Arts’ 2023/24 Student Handbook

The handbook states “Cell phones/smart phones/Airpods/headphones are not allowed to be used in the classroom or studio spaces unless expressly permitted by the supervising teacher.”

As these images spread to a greater mass of the student body, there seemed to be a sudden spike of stress and confusion that bled into the first couple weeks of school. 

These days you would be hard-pressed to walk into a high school and college campus and find students without headphones.

And it is no different in the halls of BSA, whether the students like to have music to focus on studying or just for background music as they find the way to their next class. This can prove to be taxing as students usually find themselves navigating all eight floors of the building.

It is no lie that the use of headphones during class time has always been a  point of contention amongst students and faculty. 

This can be seen every day in the teachers at BSA who have a strong opposition to headphones and the students who sit around with one airpod in wondering why they are being told to put it away. 

Music is used specifically in a school environment for a variety of reasons, whether it be for focus on the five page packet in front of them, or a moment of escape from the weekly rundown of the syllabus. 

Especially at an arts school, music can put students into the creative mindset and help those innovative thoughts flow during arts periods. 

No matter what department you are in, music has some influence on the way you produce art, which is why the stricter rule had such backlash from the student body.   

“Music helps me get through a day, however it hasn’t had the effect on me that it has on other students. In theater, it just helps me get in the right mood and get in the mindset of whatever character I am playing,” said senior actor and theater department student government representative Landon Black.

Black also touched on the differences in headphone rules throughout his time at the school when he said, “Freshman year we were all on Zoom, and we still weren’t allowed to have music. Compared to previous years, the rules haven’t drastically changed, this year more people just adhere to the rule.” 

In the years trickling out of the end of virtual school, the same old headphone rules still stood firm in fine print staring right back at any student who took the time to read it. But one of the lingering effects of quarantine was less pushback on headphones in the classroom. 

Teachers may have told students once or twice to put headphones away, but after that didn’t take the time to call a student out if they noticed headphones on. 

Nonetheless, the days of COVID and Zoom are in the past and the guidelines are back to being fully enforced. 

Thomas Ventimiglia, a Film and English teacher at the school, said, “We shouldn’t feel free to just check out, we are in this place to learn from each other, to be around each other and to listen to each other. Music can often get in the way of that. We need to have self-discipline. I don’t believe we should have a cell phone rule, but instead a cell phone culture.”

While other teachers held similar views to Mr. Ventimiglia, there were some nuanced differences present when I spoke to others, such as Social Studies teacher Megan Bremer.

Bremer shared, “I think it helps students settle into their work better, I mean I’ve always been resistant to it. Being able to disconnect for a little bit can actually be a healthy thing, ideally students should use music to settle into class and focus, and then turn it off.”

An article from Eric Institute of Educational Sciences remarks that most students use music in school to manipulate their emotions. 

More specifically, it can help them relax and focus more on the task at hand. It is even used for deeper personal reasons such as dealing with emotional conflicts or boosting self esteem. 

“In a recent national essay competition, two-thirds of the students said they listened to or performed music for personal enjoyment, expression, and to release or control negative emotions. They agreed that relating to the lyrics let them know they were not alone, and helped them cope with difficult times in their lives. Students claimed that musical study helped them hone their study skills, which applied to other academic areas.” (Lee, 4) 

This study took information that was conducted by schools on how students respond to music in an academic setting. Several BSA students shared their experiences and opinions on how music has a similar effect on them day to day. 

Sophomore Visual Artist Lotus Pryor said, “I think a lot of students use music as an escape, I mean a lot happens in school and it’s easy to get stressed at times, so music can be a way to help calm down. As a visual artist, music inspires me a lot. It gives me a lot of different feelings and I express those feelings in my artwork.”  

Many of the interviewed students had similar perspectives, such as Sophomore Stage Design and Production student Ethan Rosenberg, who described how music helps him in his creative process: “When I’m in the scene shop designing a set, I like to have music playing, especially jazz. I love the way the melodies flow and having that sort of background music puts me in the mood to work.” 

While music in school does present a number of benefits, it is still important to recognize how it can be harmful. Music can do so many things for students and guide them on their own separate academic journeys but it is important to be careful and make sure the privilege isn’t abused. 

At the end of the day, having headphones in school boils down to how much self discipline students have. It is a matter of how well students navigate the use of personal devices in a school environment that decides the true impact it can have.

Music is undoubtedly an incredible thing that has such a powerful impact on the way we live our lives and it has such a major influence on brain chemistry. 

But as far as school goes, it is ultimately up to the student to have self control, and the teacher to have flexibility.

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Featured image shot by Asad Ali of Brannon Kerr

Cinema Literacy COMMENTARY: Mexican Horror

Opinion, The Arts

By: Roisin Casey

Horror is one of America’s most popular genres, with its overall box office revenue between 1995-2023 tying (ironically) with comedy at 34.3 billion dollars. 

Huge horror franchises like Scream and Saw have both released additions to their sagas in 2023. 

However, the general genre of horror has spanned beyond jump-scares and serial killers. The last few decades have seen swaths of experimental, psychological, and folk horror, and has gradually developed into a diverse umbrella term for several different subgenres. 

So, in honor of Halloween season and Hispanic Heritage Month, I decided to zero in on one of these subgenres: Mexican horror. 

Mexican horror, both individual in its plotlines and simultaneously influenced by foreign cinema, rose in popularity between 1930 and 1950. 

In its beginnings, films in this genre saw well-known villains such as vampires and werewolves, but also creatures traditional to Mexican folklore, such as La Llorona.

More recent Mexican horror films have more interpretive villains, many pertaining to current events and issues. 

While many American viewers might see these more poignant plotlines as mere derivations of more well-known American films, Mexican horror is individually influential to the point that certain Mexican directors are regarded as masters of the genre. 

This month I picked three Mexican horror films to focus on, their release dates spanning over a period of about 80 years- Phantom of the Monastery (1934), Cronos (1993), and Tigers are Not Afraid (2017). 

Phantom of the Monastery (1934) – directed by Fernando de Fuentes 

Starring: Marta Roel, Carlos Villatoro, Enrique del Campo

Plot: Three companions find themselves lost in the woods far from home. When a mysterious apparition of a shadowy monk directs them to the nearby abandoned monastery for shelter, they soon find that the ruins contain something much more sinister than empty rooms and mice. 

Plenty of sinful romance, eerie visual effects, and noir suspense.

My rating: ★★

My review: Though it had its merits, Phantom of the Monastery is definitely not for everyone. The pacing is very slow, and its payoff and ending feel rushed and anticlimactic. 

The style is very different from what modern horror has evolved into, which is to be expected, and the viewer should not expect an action-packed slasher. 

However, I was really impressed by many of the visual effects and shadow/lighting work, especially since effects of the time period are exclusively practical allowing less room for nonrealism. Despite the slowness, the creepy parts were decidedly creepy. 

Though I would not exactly recommend this movie to the casual horror enjoyer, I am very glad I had the opportunity to add it to my watched list. 

Where to watch: Criterion Collection

Cronos (1993) – directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Tamara Shanath

Plot: An elderly man and his granddaughter stumble upon a mysterious golden device within an antique in their family-owned shop. Their discovery unleashes a domino effect of revenge, destruction, death, and…undeath? 

My rating: ★★★

My review: The art house horror film that essentially launched del Toro’s career, Cronos,  is considered by some to be Part 1 in an unofficial trilogy, in tandem with The Devil’s Backbone (2001) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Practical effects went pretty wild in this one as well. Had me buggin’ (ha, ha). 

Every scene had a distinguishable and unique feel, and the sheer distinction between the tones of the beginning and the end of the movie is almost jarring. 

Again, the pacing was rather slow, but the underlying themes of the story and potential interpretations of the Cronos device were really intriguing. 

I would tentatively recommend this movie to those who are interested in expanding their knowledge of traditional horror but want to try something new.

Where to watch: Stream on Criterion Channel or Max

Tigers are Not Afraid (2017) – directed by Issa López

Starring: Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López

Plot: A group of orphaned children armed with three wishes band together in efforts to evade both the cartel that killed their parents and the lingering shadows of their pasts. 

When one of the children obtains a phone that contains incriminating evidence of the leader of the cartel, the lines between reality and the supernatural blur, and things get much more complicated. 

My rating: ★★★★

My review: A beautiful movie, both from a visual and contextual perspective. The main body of the film’s story is acted almost exclusively by amateur child actors, which is often seen as a sentence of death to quality. 

But in this case, the acting was actually quite good- the dialogue played to the actors’ strengths and was often paired with handheld camera shots, which I felt added to the uncertain and childlike tone of the film. 

López also intertwines the harsh reality of the cartel and their influence over Mexican society and masterfully intersperses heartwarming scenes with jarringly tense ones, which are still further intertwined with more traditional horror elements.

I really enjoyed it and I think this is a movie that everyone should consider adding to their watchlists. 

Where to watch: Rent this movie on Amazon, Apple TV, or Vudu, or stream on AMC+.

**Please check trigger warnings for Cronos and Tigers are Not Afraid (especially the latter) before watching.

To contact this writer email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Featured images curtesy of Wikipedia (Phantom of the Monastery), The Criterion Collection (Cronos), and Wikipedia (Tigers are Not Afraid).