The Sun’s Song by Astrid Braun

The blue jay grips the branch,

Adjusts his azure coat

And takes an inaudible breath

Before he questions the sun.

 

“Why do you not speak to me?”

He asks her, as she breaks through

The leaves to touch him gently;

Answering silently as ever before.

 

She does not her joys convey

In words, so different from the

Wind whose whispers reach him

In the tree where he sleeps

 

Nor is she like the stream

Whose bubbly anecdotes

Travel up from the soft mud

To amuse those around him

 

Perhaps she is like the sun

And not another —

Her song is felt inside

And she sings as she knows how

Application Anxiety by Ian Marr

If there’s one thing that almost all high school seniors can agree on, it’s that college applications suck. They suck a lot. It’s bad enough that we’re buried in schoolwork that we can’t afford to lose track of, and application deadlines only add to that stress. If you have a procrastination problem like I do, you’ll understand that this is an absolutely unforgiving combination. Waiting until the deadline date to send your ACT scores only to discover that the website is down for maintenance is possibly one of the worst feelings a student can have. However, looking back on these experiences, I can see that the anxiety that exists with the application process is nothing compared to the relief that’s felt once it’s completed. It is a burden that we are capable of lifting early, but we choose to ignore out of fear. But once it’s done, that fear will become incredibly distant.

Teeth by Claire Ockner

I used to only smile with my lips sealed shut. It started when I was little. I was a shy kid, (which is weird, because now I willingly talk to anything that breathes)  so the goal was always to get through the school day saying as few words as possible. My little brain managed to convince itself that if I didn’t open my mouth, people would assume I didn’t want to talk, causing them to leave me alone. I didn’t show them my teeth, so they didn’t show me theirs.

Picture day was the worst. Photographers would always ask me to “say cheese” or to “smile big”. Some of them even told me jokes and, while I was laughing, they would snap a picture.

Oh, I think I may have forgotten to mention something: I used to have a huge space between my two front teeth. Growing up, I didn’t mind them at all. My Nana and I had the same teeth. She had a warm smile and I thought it was beautiful, tooth gap and all. Her and my mom always told me that my tooth gap made me look like Lauren Hutton. I didn’t know who she was, but my mom told me she was a model. My mom also told me that she showed her teeth in pictures. If Lauren did, why shouldn’t I?

When I was in fifth grade, someone told me I looked like a hippo. I thought it was funny. Hippos are cute. They then told me it was because of the humongous space between my teeth. Suddenly, I didn’t want to look like a hippo. I didn’t want to look like Lauren Hutton or my Nana. I wanted a gapless smile, one that would make me proud to show people my teeth.

Soon after, I got braces. I think I was probably the only kid to ever be excited about getting metal glued into my mouth. I thought it would make me happy. Two expanders, two teeth pullings, and one chain through the roof of my mouth (don’t even ask) later, and shockingly, I still wasn’t happy. Even after my frenectomy, which was supposed to permanently close my gap, I still wasn’t satisfied.

My gap didn’t stay closed for long. It came back, smaller than it was before, but definitely still a gap. For some reason, I didn’t hate it as much as I did before. In fact, I thought it made me look unique. Maybe slightly hippo-like, but a unique hippo nonetheless.

When I got my braces off, my orthodontist asked me if I wanted a retainer that would help close my gap. I said no. I think Lauren Hutton would be proud.

As I write this, I find myself smiling. Not a sealed-lip smile, but a smile that shows off my teeth in all their hippo-like glory.

A Positive Affirmations Piece by Madison L. Wilson

 

Related image

As a tree sheds its autumn leaves,

May you let go any and all insecurities.

Set backs-

Worries-

Or thoughts that you lack in any way.

May you stand firm and tall,

Knowing that you are powerful-

Capable-

And worthy.

Realize that you are fierce fire-

You are a force to recon with, because you recognize:

The only limits you posses are the ones you chooses to accept.

 

Hopefully you read these words, knowing every single one of them is true. It is important to recognize both your strengths and weakness. It is important to try to become the best version of yourself by making mistakes. It is important to make mistakes and fall. Personal growth requires all three. However, you must always get back up and believe that your worries and insecurities do not define you. May this be a reminder to embrace your exceptional qualities and face adversity with self confidence. With that being said: You are capable and you are worthy.

The Power of Language by Tomasina DeLong

In the English language, we do not generally assign genders to words, but some words may have more feminine or masculine connotations. My mom is a high school teacher and has had students who are transgender, as well as gender non-binary. She is comfortable calling her students by the correct pronouns, and it does not impact her interactions with her student.

In other languages, such as Spanish, there is gender assigned to every object and adjective. To describe a girl who is tall and smart, I would write, “Ella es alta y inteligente.” The ‘a’ at the end of the words signifies that the word or trait is describing a girl. Even nouns such as chair and tree have assigned genders: “la silla y el arbol” (the articles in front are either feminine or masculine). In basic levels of Spanish, such as Spanish I, students learn the language and basic conversational skills by talking about themselves. I have never had a class where a peer identified as non-binary, but I wonder how those students would be taught to describe themselves, because there is not a non-binary or gender neutral pronoun in Spanish.

This is interesting when considering how gender and language impact people’s daily lives. In the English language, words have different connotations but individuals can more easily use the correct pronouns in order to make themself more comfortable. In other languages such as Spanish, individuals may feel more nervous about things regarding their identity because the language does not easily provide them with choices for their pronouns. Language is a vital part of daily life and the use of gender in language may impact the society speaking it. Language is powerful.