Cornfield Phobia by Ava Byrne

The thought of going to a small college, in a small town, surrounded by cornfields makes me shudder. I am adamantly against colleges with an undergrad population less than the amount of students at the high school. My college shouldn’t be an island in a sea of corn and small towns.

My Dad always yells at me when I say this. He says that I’ll “rarely go off campus” but even if that’s true, I want the option of having a city close by if I ever choose to leave. I’m afraid I’ll feel isolated if I’m confined to a campus. I know that if I went to a small college they’d make sure they have some activities and host events on campus. But even then, I feel like I’d become antsy with the lack of connection with the outside world.

I work at a sleep-away camp that’s way out in the sticks. Our nights off consist of driving 40 minutes to the Walmart in Erie and stopping at Sheetz for some mac and cheese bites on the way back. Camp is my happy place but even there I notice myself getting antsy.  At camp, the remoteness is something I’m able to laugh about, but I’m not sure I want that same experience for college.

Despite my distaste for small, rural universities, I have fallen in love with Dickinson College. Dickinson is a liberal arts college located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with an undergrad population of 2381. I am fully aware that I just discussed my extreme dislike for colleges in the middle of nowhere, but my love of Dickinson goes against all of that. But truth be told, I have no idea where I want to go to college. I thought the one thing I was sure about was the size and the location. Yet my love of Dickinson goes against my supposedly concrete opinions. The only thing I am 100% sure about: no cornfields.

 

 

 

This I Believe by Molly Spring

I believe in the strength of a support system. I come from a wildly large family on my mother’s side, with nearly three hundred and fifty members in just my maternal grandfather’s family alone. In February of 2016, I lost my maternal grandfather to cancer. He had always been my rock, my cheerleader, and by far the most influential person in my life. My grandfather taught me how to take a step back, breathe, listen to myself, and respond to how I’m feeling. When he was diagnosed with cancer, my world felt as if it was crumbling before me. My family was told that his cancer was caught in its early stages and that they would set forth a plan of treatment to follow; he was told he had time. Unfortunately, the doctors were wrong and my grandfather’s cancer quickly began to spread to his brain within a month. After my grandfather lost his life three months later, my family had to figure out how to navigate life without him. He brought so much joy and hope into my life, and all of a sudden it was taken away from me. Despite all the pain and sorrow I felt, I was supported no matter what. I could always count on my family and friends as I went through this time of uncertainty and confusion. All of the unfamiliar emotions and feelings I experienced made it possible for me to learn to open myself up to my support system. Ever since my grandfather’s passing, I have been much more honest with not only myself but also with my inner circle. I have learned to let go of all anything that has built up inside of me and release the tension through spending time with my family and friends. I believe everyone on this earth needs a network of family and friends they can depend on, regardless of what they may be going through. In the end, everything that happens in your life should be put into perspective, but when you are in the moment, the only way to grow and develop is when you can lean on others. I think one of the most important things you can do for yourself is build relationships and bonds that will provide you with emotional connections and bring happiness into your own life for years to come. When one is in a time of need, every person should have the opportunity to seek out their loved ones and ask them for assistance.

Progress is Unusual by Josh Skubby

The average human is dead. Like, realllllly dead. Roughly 7.5 billion people are currently alive, whereas an estimated 108 billion have ever been born. Homo sapiens began walking this Earth about 50,000 years ago. Yet through the millennia, thousands of years passed with little technological advancement. A human born in 25,000 B.C. and a human born in 20,000 B.C. shared a very similar existence. Tribes roamed the continents as nomads, as agriculture had yet to be “invented.” The vast majority of these individuals did not expect their children’s lives to be any different from their own.

Frankly, there was no reason to.

In a single lifetime, virtually no advances in technology would occur. Constant movement was necessary to survive. As hunter-gatherers, communities moved with their food source, leaving nothing behind but animal carcasses and hastily-constructed shelters. This lack of stability is inherently damaging to technological progress. When one’s life is heavily concerned with chasing and killing animals, it becomes quite difficult to specialize or innovate.

In the so-called “Neolithic Revolution,” human tribes around the world transitioned to become predominantly agricultural societies. This event took place around 10,000 B.C. and is arguably the beginning of history. Settlements began appearing, and individuals started to develop the skills necessary to maintain a stationary living. Culture flourished, and basic forms of government emerged. This phenomenon laid the very foundations for our modern understanding of the world.

We’ve clearly progressed far beyond those days of early humanity. In the millennia since the Neolithic Revolution, however, humans have not developed linearly. More specifically, the last 250 years have been the most productive ever, and have consequently conditioned the Western mind to expect progress. We’ve all seen the late-19th century cartoons depicting floating cars and other yet-to-be created oddities. Franchises like Star Wars captivate audiences with their futuristic grandeur. We are uniquely attracted to the inventions of tomorrow.

We expect our children to experience their lives in a more fulfilling and meaningful manner than we experience ours. Altogether, this is not harmful. It is natural to wish to provide for your offspring, and we should take steps to ensure they inherit a safer world. We direct resources towards cancer research because we believe its benefit to future generations will be valuable. Again, this is not an inherently bad thing. Research and knowledge collectively bring the human species forwards.

However, we must be careful not to grow complacent in our optimism. New threats to our global system have arisen, and we must respond accordingly. Right-wing populism in on the rise around the world. Authoritarianism is tightening its grasp in Russia and China. Global warming is occurring, and an increasing number of individuals are refusing to acknowledge this truth.

Then again, we’ve made it this far. Why worry?

Because progress is not guaranteed. The adversities of the past threaten to return, and every new year brings a unique set of challenges. We have not failed yet, but that does not mean we are in the clear.

How People Can Change Your Life by Bronwyn Warnock

As summer comes to an end and as autumn begins, I have been reflecting upon the wonderful summer I had. The superficial word of “wonderful” is quite an understatement. There are simply not enough words to describe how miraculous this past summer was. During the spring of my sophomore year, I eagerly searched for a summer program at a university that would emerge me into the college lifestyle.  Following a tedious decision, I choose to attend Temple University’s Pre-College Summer Program. This program ran a total of four weeks on Temple’s main campus in the fifth largest city of the nation, Philadelphia.

Now I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t going to be some story about my time at Temple University. This is a story about fate. The fate of twelve young adults from across the country that entered into the freshmen dormitory, of Johnson and Hardwick, on that same briskly sunny day.

Over the course of the four week program, our rag-tag group, complied of upcoming juniors and seniors, took credit courses and explored the city of Philadelphia. Yet, this is only the surface of our experience and connection. As time progressed, our group formed an undeniably strong bond, that not only transcended into friendship but into family. Each and every one of us, brought different values, upbringings, and personalities to our little “Philly family”. In the bustling city life of Temple University’s campus in the heart of Philadelphia, each of us were able to find safety and security in one another. From “homework” sessions around the gossiping table to 3am bootleg movie night marathons – it is safe to say that the twelve of us spent all hours together. Eventually, the day of our departure arrived and the tears seemed to endlessly fall from each and every one of us as we all parted ways.

The connections I made this summer have had a ever-lasting impact on me. Months later, our little family still talks each and every night, despite not having the gossip table to sit around. Prior to my summer travels, I was nervous to go to Philadelphia and spend my summer away from all that I was comfortable with. This experience pushed me out of my comfortable zone and shaped me into the person I am now. If I leave you with any message, I wish to leave you with the following; never be afraid to test your limits and try new things. That may sound cheesy and cliche, but I urge you to try something new today or tell someone something you’ve never said. Live your life and meet people, never let life pass you by. There are too many amazing stories and people to experience. And finally, never underestimate the power of the people in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with Death by Ian Marr

It was three years, two months, and nine days ago that I lost my best friend. He was the full package. He was an excellent listener, always noticing if I was feeling down and trying to cheer me up, and he was never even the slightest bit judgmental. I had been growing up with that cat for fifteen years. When you spend that much time with someone, you forget that there will eventually be a day where you’re not together. Even though we all understand that it is inevitable, death still takes us by surprise whenever we lose loved ones. However, how we choose to act on our emotions when we lose someone close to us determines how we remember them and which memories they leave us with.

For me, death has always left me feeling more confused than anything else. Rather than feeling any significant despair, I’ve simply evaluated how my life will be different without them in it. Maybe it’s painful at times, but they are memories you will inevitably face. Throughout the years, I’ve discovered that death doesn’t necessarily have to be an ending filled with remorse and regret. Rather, it can be a time you can spend reflecting on how someone impacted your life, and how you impacted theirs. And if you find that you were a positive influence on them, you can choose to spread that influence among your acquaintances, friends, and family.

Write It Down by Fenner Dreyfuss-Wells

I’m trying to finish my homework and go to bed, but my mind is racing.  I have two things I need to remember to bring tomorrow, a worksheet to finish 4th period, and a question to ask my teacher during class.  My brain can’t possibly hold it all, and I can’t relax for fear of forgetting everything. I pull out a piece of paper and write it down.

Getting a thought out of my head and onto paper relaxes me.  I take comfort in the fact that it’s there, but that I don’t have to worry about it right at the moment.  It stores my thoughts until exactly the right time, when I can do what I need to do and then throw the paper out.  I love the tangibility of paper, a simple tool that offers nothing but what you make of it.

In addition to writing reminders, I use paper more personally to keep a log of the things that I think about. When I wake up in the morning, I write down any dreams I remember.  This is a challenge, but is always interesting to read later.  Before I go to bed, I record three moments from the day that made me feel good.  These range from a nice thing that someone did for me, to the way a leaf looked as it fell from the tree outside my dining room.  I circle the best of the three moments, and at the end of the week I pick the best from those.  I find it fascinating that I can attempt to label just one moment from a whole week of moments as the absolute best, a herculean task by any other means.  Looking back through these, it’s easy to notice patterns. A lot of the nice moments I write down have to do with driving, listening to music, or being with others, and I’ve never found a nice moment doing homework or procrastinating.  In this way, I can see the things that make me the happiest.

I write things down in different ways, sometimes to rid a nagging thought from my mind, and sometimes to preserve it for posterity.  I love the permanent feeling of a thought on paper.  If I write to remind myself, this permanence assures me that it won’t be forgotten, that it will be there no matter where my mind goes.  If I write to record my feelings or thoughts, it’s nice to know that I’ll be able to look back on them later.  Thoughts on paper exist in the simplest way possible. They’re there, as much as anything can be. Just patterns of dried ink on a dead tree.

Why the IB Isn’t That bad…by Abigail Beard


One of the best things about the International Baccalaureate program is, in my opinion, the Theory of Knowledge class.

TOK, a class in which we think about how we think about things, is basically one of the only reasons I can think of for why I decided to bind myself to the two-year journey that is the IB. While at an outrageous time(6:30 in the evening? Really?!), it is a welcome part of my Mondays.

My favorite part of TOK isn’t the stimulating conversation or the ever-optimistic teacher: it’s the cohort.

To the average person, it might not seem like I like any of my fellow IBers. I usually try to sit away from the small groups that form between friends and just about everybody in IB Year II can testify to the fact that I’ve spoken a maximum of three times since the year has started. It’s not because I dislike anyone, I just feel awkward when I talk. That doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what is going on. To the contrary, I pride myself on being observant. I notice inside jokes and strange anecdotes of my fellow students.

And that’s my favorite part of TOK: not the memes or the deep questions or the way everything is funnier when you’re sleep deprived.

It’s the people.

I love my IB cohort with all my heart. In each of us I see bright young individuals who are changing their school and by extension the world. We have politicians, environmental activists, artists, and visionaries! I see collaboration and understanding in a world that is becoming increasingly self-centered and cruel. We don’t just accept answers. We question, we provoke, we examine ourselves and our world. We tell jokes, we share memes, we cry together and we snack together. We make our way through this confusing world that we live in and we question all the while.

The age old question that I get from friends and family all the time is whether or not I would do the IB program again if given the chance. Honestly, I don’t really know. IB is a lot of work, both in and out of school. Luckily, after this grueling two-year journey, getting through college will be a breeze. The classwork prepares me to critically think in a world that values well rounded people over one-dimensional people and to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

And, of course, if I had never gone through the IB program, I would never have my cohort.

Over the last year, I have grown so much. It’s been a long, hard journey for me: group discussions are a virtual trademark of IB and so many times TOK confuses me to the point where I zone out. But I’ve learned to stick my toes out there, test the waters, and eventually jump in. Without the support and encouragement of my cohort, I could have never grown or flourished in the IB program. I wouldn’t trade them for all the IB papers in the world!

Why Fall is the Best Season by Claire Ockner

I didn’t always hold autumn in such high esteem. As a child, I firmly believed that it was the awkward phase between my summers full of pool days and my winters of sledding and hot chocolate. The one redeeming quality of fall was Halloween, when I would proudly drag my bag of candy bars behind me, but even that didn’t hold a candle to my summer days.

Now, at seventeen years old, I fully understand what all the hype is about. I didn’t realize my love of fall until high school, when I started getting really into sweaters. I have a chest in my room full of sweaters: striped ones, soft ones, and, my personal favorite, a mustard yellow one. Wearing a sweater is like being able to walk around with a blanket on and still look socially acceptable. If I had it my way, it would be mandatory for everyone to wear sweaters when the temperature dips below 65 degrees (much to the dismay of people who, for some reason, still wear shorts in the winter).

And then, of course, there’s the food. To me, apple cider is nectar and pumpkin pie is ambrosia. The taste of apple cider, warm or cold, brings me a sense of tranquility, even in the most stressful situations. When I eat apple pie, I can picture my mother carefully crafting the pie crust, occasionally giving me a little piece of pie dough to nibble on. And don’t get me started on Pumpkin Spice Lattes; yes, I know they’re “basic” (whatever that means), but there’s a reason they’re so popular.

I now know that I am happiest when I can hear red and brown leaves crunching under my feet, when I can feel the autumn wind against my skin and smell the earthy scent that always comes after an October rain. While fall isn’t the warmest season, it is the season that fills me with warmth in a way that the heat of the summer never could.

Writing As A Form Of Art by Tomasina DeLong

Personally, I am more familiar with writing as a form of communication rather than as a form of expression. Not because I lack creativity, but because I normally choose to express myself in a different way. As a visual thinker with a steady hand and a good eye, I express myself through a different form of art. Visual arts such as drawing and painting are unforgiving, but they have taught me to adapt and use what I have to rethink and redevelop my art. Unlike visual arts, writing involves a totally different process.

People have told me that writing is much easier than painting or drawing because you can easily delete mistakes by hitting the “undo button.”  I am unsure of how I feel about that statement because while it is true that you can easily undo errors during the writing process, the writing itself is also often placed under scrutiny. I feel more vulnerable while writing than I do while creating paintings or drawings. I think this is because I consider the ability to create art a talent, whereas I consider the ability to write well a necessity. Because of this, when I feel as though my art is sub-par, I can simply chalk-it-up to the fact that I didn’t have enough time, or that someone bumped my board. In the end, I know that I am a better artist than the people looking at my art, which boosts my self confidence, allowing me to feel sheltered, reducing my vulnerability. While this may seem very self-centered, it is how I think, because when comparing myself to others, I believe that there are more people able to write a complete sentence than there are people able to paint a realistic portrait of a live model.

I do, however, realize that there is more to writing than the phonics that children learn during elementary school. I recognize that my disregard for the talent and skill it takes to write is part of the reason why I choose to express myself through forms other than writing. Even though writing is not traditionally thought of when discussing art, it is a form of expression that should be respected because of the hard work and dedication put into writing, something that makes people want to come back for more.