College Essay Reflections by Aaliyah Williams

I cannot describe a more tedious process than perfecting my college essay. I have somewhere between five and eight drafts of the same essay saved in Google Docs (labelled things like Draft(s) 1-5, Draft 1.1, Draft with ____ ‘s comments, Draft with _____’ s comments, and etc.), and five different people have seen and given feedback on different drafts, not including my mother or myself. My first draft was written in August of 2019, and it was honestly kind of gross. It read like a cringy YA novel written by a 14-year-old, which raised my total of unusable college essays up to five. 

College essays are the freaking worst for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it’s so hard to hit the gold mine of “just right.” You’re supposed to be confident, but never cocky; witty, but not snarky; sentimental, but under no circumstances sappy; and you should never explain anything, but show what you mean in your phrasing, diction choices, metaphors, and imagery. A narrative miracle is what you’re going for, and people that can write astounding essays like this can get into any school they please.

What I didn’t realize though about writing all these essays, and rewriting the same essay about the same memory, was that the process cemented a memory that could have easily faded away with time. I remember where my friends and I sat in the theater, I remember our crying and sniffling, I remember how we couldn’t really find the words to express how much we’d miss each other, and even remember the tacos I ordered at Barrio after the movie. Having this memory forever in writing is comforting, as I know how unreliable human memory really can be.

My essay ended up being just what it was supposed to be: not some kind of literary masterpiece like I’d dreamt of writing, not something that was a tear-jerker or even something especially memorable. It was, however, a thoughtful and concise narrative about one of my most notable memories that I’ve made with my friends, and writing about it over and over (and over and over and over) helped to solidify the memory forever. And if when I’m old and decrepit the memory begins to turn fuzzy, I can always go back to my essay and relive it.

We Still Need Lights by Grace Geier

Image result for football field lights"Since I last blogged about the lightless state of the turf, and the disadvantages that a lack of field lights continue to push on our sports teams and fans, there have been plenty of complaints from the community. Recently, a varsity soccer game tied through double overtime, which lead into penalty kicks. To their dismay, these PKs were postponed “due to darkness”. Having two days to prepare and stress over penalty kicks is not ideal, and members of the team, as well as the vocal student section, were upset. People mainly used Twitter to voice their irritation, with the official Shaker Raiders account involving themselves to poll the community: “Should the Shaker Heights HS install stadium lights?”. Data collected on 11/4/19 show 672 responses, with 96% of voters voting yes (or yes, with conditions). Students on Twitter have commented that the introduction of lights wouldn’t just prevent games from being rescheduled, but would also allow more teams to practice on the turf everyday (instead of relocating to Onaway or Boulevard fields). Students have expressed that they will continue to fight for lights, but will the school respond this time?

Who’s That? By Victoria Helmick

Ah, it is a peaceful Wednesday night, I have finished all of my homework and ate dinner with my family. 

The clock strikes 8 P.M. and everyone in the house rushes to the television. 

We gather our snacks, blankets, and even our little dog Lola, as we are ready to be mesmerized by what’s to come. 


The opening music begins and we are immersed in the fantastic and crazy confusing world of The Masked Singer. 

I cannot tell you how we stumbled upon this ridiculous show, but for the past year, every Wednesday night, it has been a tradition in my house to watch this show together. The premise of the show is to guess who is behind the mask of the performer. There are four famous judges who critique each performer including, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke, and Nicole Scherzinger. The show starts with Nick Cannon, the host, welcoming viewers and introducing all 16 of the performers to come. Under each mask could be any type of celebrity from an Academy Award-winning actor to a well known Grammy-winning artist. The performers are introduced with each wearing their own unique and extravagant costume covering their body from head to toe. No one, including Nick Cannon, the judges, the audience, and each separate performer, knows who is under each mask. Each performer then is personally introduced through a video that has challenging clues about their life showing viewers hints to who might be under the mask. 

After each singing performance, we yell at the television, and at each other, arguing with the judges on who might be under the mask. We have ranged guesses from the famous drag queen, RuPaul, to Lebron James. It is a brain teaser trying to figure out who it is. The judges then input their guesses and the audience reacts with “oooos” and “ahhhhs.” The performer then leaves the stage and waits for the results. Another performer does the same routine, and then the audience chooses the performance they liked better. When the results of the voting are announced, the winner continues to battle against winners of other groups. While the loser battles against another loser to reclaim their ticket to the next competition. At the end, when the loser in the life or death competition is announced, they are ultimately “unmasked”, and revealed to the public who is behind the mask. 

The Masked Singer consists of many cliff hangers, tear-jerkers, and thrilling performances. Some contestants perform on this show to escape reality and show the world who they truly are. Celebrities are given the chance to show the world that regardless of what they are known for, they do have talent under the mask that they show the public eye.

Things to Write About by Tomasina DeLong

I have already written most of my college essays, but as I look back on when I first started this process over a year ago I had no idea where to begin. The first and most common response when someone has to write a college essay is, “There isn’t anything interesting about me and I don’t have anything to write about.” I have some pieces of advice when getting started: just start writing. Later in the writing process, you will want to write with an intended purpose in mind, but when just getting started it is okay to write without one. You may be in your head, but you need to just start writing because without an essay written you won’t have anything to polish or revise. You also don’t need to have experienced something traumatic in order to write a good essay. Often, essays about losing a family member or moving schools are cliche and that is something you should avoid like the plague {haha get it because “avoid it like the plague” is a cliche} Sometimes starting with one of the common app prompts can be difficult because they are so open-ended, but there are also other college essay prompts that provide more direction. These essay prompts are usually supplemental so they might tell less about you than a common app essay would. However, these prompts serve as great starting points. Some possible essay prompts to get you thinking are:

  1.  A hot dog might be a sandwich, and cereal might be a soup, but is a ______ a ______?
  2. Cats have nine lives, Pac-Man has 3 lives, and radioactive isotopes have half-lives. How many lives does something else—conceptual or actual—have, and why?
  3. Think back to a situation in your life where you had to decide between taking a risk and playing it safe. Which choice did you make? What was the outcome of your choice? Would you have made the same decision looking back on the experience or would you have made a different decision?
  4. Where’s Waldo?
  5. What is your theme song?
  6. What’s so odd about odd numbers?
  7. Little pigs, French hens, a family of bears. Blind mice, musketeers, the Fates. Parts of an atom, laws of thought, a guideline for composition. Omne trium perfectum? Create your own group of three, and describe why and how they fit together.

What is Wrong with the Browns? (Part 2) By Isaiah Gundani

In the last iteration of “What is Wrong with the Browns?”, I caught up with the team right after their gut-wrenching loss to the Rams. (A game in which Baker Mayfield threw an interception at the 5 yard line with an opportunity to tie the game.) Following this loss, the Browns traveled to Baltimore to face a hot Ravens team. In my last blog post, I challenged the Browns to defeat the Ravens and move to 2-2 on the season, which is what they successfully did. Since this win, the Browns have looked like utter garbage, losing 3 consecutive games. The first loss came in embarrassing fashion as the Browns lost 31-3 against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. The second loss came at home to the Seattle Seahawks, during which the browns blew a 20-6 lead. I would say I was surprised by this defeat, but I have seen crazier in my time as a Cleveland sports fan. The last defeat came against the New England Patriots, which saw the Browns turn the ball over on 3 consecutive plays. This prompted me to turn off the game and throw the remote across the room. Anyways… the Browns aren’t entirely to blame for these losses as they played arguably the best 3 teams in the league. Despite this, I expected the Browns to show more discipline in these games, and not allow penalties, turnovers, and bad play-calling to be the deciding factor.Image result for brows vs patriots 10 28 19"

Although these last few games have been brutal, there is some hope for the Browns. Their schedule for the rest of the year is one of the easiest in the league. This easy schedule starts today against the 2-6 Denver Broncos (who happen to be missing their starting quarterback). If the browns don’t win today, I could see some changes in the coaching staff ensuing. This would be a shame as the Browns’ Head Coach, Freddie Kitchens, recently moved to Shaker. He better step up his play-calling today or he could be leaving Shaker very soon.



The Best Album of All Time by Emma Jevack

Show Stopping. Mind blowing. Grammy Award winning. All of these are true of Kacey Musgraves’ album Golden Hour. This is her third album, with the previous two being heavily geared towards fun country music. However Golden Hour stands out as an indie/country/pop fusion, creating a trifecta that I didn’t know I was missing in my life. Each song is emotional and thought-provoking, either evoking a feeling of extreme joy and happiness or leaving you to want to cry for the next 30 minutes. This spectrum of not only emotional lyrics, but expertly written music, is the reason Kacey not only swept the 2019 Grammys, but won the coveted Album of the Year award. This album sparked a bigger following for her, and she even played at Coachella. This album is so successful because everyone can find a song to enjoy and relate to. My personal favorites are Lonely Weekend, Space Cowboy, Slow Burn, Love is a Wild Thing, High– I just realized I’m listing the entire album because litterally every song on it is a masterpiece! Even if you don’t like “country music” I promise you will love at least one of these songs, but I can’t promise that you won’t listen to it nonstop and become obsessed with the icon that is Kacey Musgraves.

A Boy in Serbia by Julie Larick

The solid white fountain splashes both of us, its droplets flying through the air and suspending in the dusty rays of sunlight before hitting our skin. A marble cupid, soaring through the air, is cemented onto the fountain’s curved tower. Its wings appear to flap incessantly; the fountain is a delicate hummingbird that reeks of desperation and begrudgingly spits water into a stone basin where the little boy and I sit. The boy smiles slightly and extends his arm to peer at the droplets, our feet caressing the fountain’s water, toes dipping into the pool that surrounds its marble. I kick my feet, muddling the sereneness of the pool, sending ripples that flutter and look down at our reflection. For the first time since he joined me by the deserted fountain side minutes before, I notice the boy’s dirt-mottled shirt, torn at the sleeves with shorts that do not fit around his spindly legs. His black hair is long and matted, mud clinging to chunks that frown to his shoulders. I open my mouth to ask him his name; the words come out as a breath that catches in my throat.

My mother’s wary eye is on the two of us while we rest our mud-clouded feet in the pool. Her back rests against the side of a building, black hair tied loosely in a knot and drapes of rich purple fabric pooling around her knees. Two large paisley cloth bags lie on each of her sides, overflowing with stuff. I close my eyes, light still glowing orange in the darkness. Buildings surround us on all sides, menial chatter bubbling and frothing in the town as the sun seeps in everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. The yellowing walls of the Serbian square are a fortress; our cupid its center. We are there, and the sounds of the square are nothing; they are drowned by the lapping water only we can hear. I open my eyes. The boy does not speak but lifts his face to the spew of droplets that do not interrupt the words that are not said. He merely sits next to me, and I feel a pang as I see his eyes, his eyes which are not bright or young, but that are wells of longing like he has been here, and he has seen here and is proud of that fact.

Suddenly the wells are open. The boy’s hand is in the pool, and he is splashing me with the fountain water. Cupid spit. I shriek, waving my hands through the pool frantically soaking his clothes. His shirt sticks to his body, which moves like a sprig of jasmine in the gentle wind. 

The boy’s peal of crying laughter tears through the water and I think he appreciates the shower. 

“Draga, vreme je za polazak…”

My mother’s words are the cymbal reverberating through the town. I look over at the boy who turns those knowing proud eyes to me. I think he understands. I watch his face, his shirt that is still mottled and dirty, and see the dust settle from the ray of sun, drifting through the air and scattering across the ground. The boy’s mouth barely opens. 

“Zbogom pazi.”

His voice is too little for him. I half-heartedly wave, my hand limp, and scoot back from the fountain’s edge. My feet are soaked and leave prints on the cement as I step down. I glance back at the cupid, which deliberately looks the other way. I’m sorry, cupid. He doesn’t respond. 

I walk over to my mother, whose hair is starting to fall out of the loose knot in tendrils. My hand in my hers, we hoist our paisley cloth bags and finally, we leave the square that chatters and seeps. As we stoop through a gap in the town square, I glance back to the cupid fountain, now deserted of any sign of little boy with a mottled shirt. No wet footprints traced his path. I turn my gaze back to the present, shoulder beginning to burn from the weight of our luggage. My mother and I walk until we reach a highway, our feet gradually muddying and dirtying with every puny step. The unveiled fury of the sun does not seep anymore; it cuts divots as beads of sweat roll down my arms. My clothes are now dry and stiff, no remnants of the splash from the little boy as we trudge onto a little gravely sidewalk that lines the highway. We walk for hours, the clouds beginning to drift inwards and shield us from the light. My legs aren’t tired like they used to be; they’ve grown used to the steady churning. I don’t know when I began to notice.  

A small forest appears by the side of the road, hours deep into our highway-side hike. It seems to be plopped onto the map by a vindictive tree God; plumes of maple seem to caress the scathing blue sky and stalks of grass brush against one another and owls hoot a lullaby for the day when suddenly, I see the boy. My mother does not. He is perched on a frail branch of a supple green oak, and I think his now-dry shirt is slightly more torn than before. I want to call out to him. What would I say? His tan face is shaded by the tree’s leaves; they sheath and cave, blocking out any trace of his expression. My breath catches in my throat, the words escaping and dying before they reach the air. The little boy stares straight into the now-dusty sun. I still wonder if he saw me, if he could see the dust in my eyes.


songs by emilia richter

A song that reminds me of my childhood is… well I’m really not sure. I can only think of little nursery rhymes and kid’s songs and that kind of thing. The kind of songs that come with a sing-along book and a CD and crayons. Or the kind that are supposed to teach you how to read. I don’t know the names of those songs. I barely even remember how they go.

Sometimes I hear a song and it is overwhelming. I am overwhelmed with emotion because memories hit me so suddenly. I feel like I have been transported back to a different time of my life, and I feel just how I did back then. 

Lots of times, I hear a song and for some reason my brain has associated it with a person. Sometimes the songs makes me feel happy, because I am friends with that person and I am excited to see them again. Other times, the song reminds me of someone who I don’t talk to anymore. There are too many of those. It’s unfortunate because all of the songs are good. I love those songs. But they are tainted by association. I introduced that song to someone, or we listened to it together, or we both were obsessed with it. So when I hear a song like that, I feel sad because of the loss, angry because of what happened, and hopeless because there’s nothing I can do. 

Sometimes I hear a song and it makes me want to go to sleep. Or fall in love or get married or just sit there and do nothing at all. Some songs make me get up and dance all on my own. Some make me cry and some make me think. And lots of them make me want to write songs.

I really want to write songs. I have tried writing some. I don’t know if they are any good!! I guess there’s no way to objectively say if something is good or bad, beautiful or tasteless. It all depends, right? And there are tons of artists writing whole albums with one computer and zero instruments.

Unapologetically Me by Kiara Patterson

So let me not give you the impression that I’m being mean or rude, I am a young black woman, I can’t be crude

I have the air of strictness, the attitude of profound sound, as a black woman I must do whatever it takes to be bound

They ask me what are you? Where have you come from? I want to tell them but my response is none

They say I talk white and that I’m full with poise, but excuse me, they say, can you stop making so much noise?

Oh my apologies I respond, for disturbing your peace, it must be the visible sight of my natural hair creased

I begin to wonder what being a black girl means, what it means to be black in these racist streets

I have one answer, and this is a fact, it’s always having the urge to watch your back

I write this poem and I begin to think, when will the attitude toward my race go extinct?

There is a long history that I won’t get into because everytime I do, I come off too pro-black, too rude, too true

There is a stigma like a cloud over my people that I cannot begin to explain, every time I think about it I want to cry in vain

The wound is too deep to discuss, action must be taken, there must me reparations, we must once again trust

I carry what my ancestors felt, what they did to fight, survive and flourish so they wouldn’t melt.

A Treatise on My Favorite Bloodborne Pathogen by Asya Akkus

Hepatitis C. Scared already? I sure am. Itchy skin, dark urine, jaundice, liver fibrosis, and eventual cirrhosis don’t sound fun. At the end of the day, it was not his daring, sensationalist exploits but rather Hepatitis C and its chronic health implications that put the orthopedic masterpiece Evel Knievel six foot under. This tiny, 55 nanometer-wide demon with a genetic code made of simple, single-stranded RNA single-handedly defeated his double-stranded DNA genome before it even realized what was happening. So, what is Hepatitis C anyways, and what can I do to stay the hell away from it?

Ever since I observed the surgery of an individual undergoing a liver transplant due to Hepatitis C progression, I have been concurrently fascinated and disturbed by the impact of this potent bloodborne pathogen on the human body. We didn’t even know that the disease, affectionately short-handed as “Hep C”, even existed until the 1970’s! Even though there is a treatment, it merely slows the progression of the disease rather than ridding the body of it completely. What’s more, there is no vaccine for this version of Hepatitis, so everyone is at risk. It’s a spherical virus no more than 65 nanometers across and comprised of a protein capsule dotted with carbohydrates known as glycoproteins. It holds nothing more than a small, single strand of RNA. This simple appearance is deceiving, however, as Hep C dupes millions of cells in our bodily system to open up and be of use, utilizing our pieces and parts to replicate themselves and wreak havoc on our organs, particularly the liver. Luckily, around one in four people are only acutely affected; when they catch this bug, they experience little to no symptoms and manage to expel it from their system in a matter of weeks. However, the rest of us are stuck with the chronic version and cannot count ourselves to be so lucky. If left untreated for an extended period of time, a chronic infection can lead to fibrosis of the liver as hepatic cells die and are replaced with scar tissue. However, thanks to the resilience this champion of an organ displays, redemption at the fibrotic stage is possible provided that proper intervention takes place. It is only when cirrhosis takes place that too much scar tissue is present within the liver to reverse the damage and help it regenerate. Unless you’re able to get a transplant in time, your days are numbered at this stage. Most unexpectedly, damage to the nervous system is also not uncommon in light of the liver’s reduced ability to filter out bodily toxins (especially if you have an affinity for alcoholic beverages). Even worse than the prospect of cirrhosis and nerve damage is the concept of a world without your favorite Swenson’s fries, as Hepatitis C severely inhibits the liver’s ability to make the bile that is so important when it comes to digesting fatty foods and leads to sick-looking, clay-colored poop. 

All in all, Hep C doesn’t seem like a fun time; I’d suggest avoiding it at all costs, but how? As it turns out, it is pretty easy to prevent both catching and transmitting this virus with a few cautionary measures that should already be common practice. A lot of initial cases were a result of a lack of screening of blood donations in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Any individual was allowed to give blood, and their contribution was oftentimes left unscreened for the likes of hepatitis, HIV, and other terrifying bloodborne pathogens. The lucky donor remains blissfully unaware of his plight, but the recipient is infected by the scourge that had desecrated the former. Fortunately, all blood donations are screened before they are given to individuals in need, and such instances of transmission are a relic of the past for the most part, illustrating the importance of system-wide preventative measures. However, several steps can be taken on an individual level as well to counteract the potential of contracting Hepatitis C. No matter how much we, as a society, enforce the fundamental practice of safe sexual relations, there’s always that one person who doesn’t get it. This is for that one individual: wearing condoms during sex and getting tested regularly is of paramount importance!!! In more recent years, unsafe sex has been the most notorious mode of transmission. What is a bigger problem statistically, however, are needle sticks, whether intentional or unintentional. Addicts often share needles without discretion, and this leads to infection. Moreover, improperly managed needlesticks can often result in a similar effect within the healthcare field. All in all, provided that you engage in safe practices, the probability of getting Hepatitis C is incredibly low. However, it’s definitely worth being aware of its presence and modes of transmission.

The complex relationship between disease and humanity is a never-ending Mobius curve; the minute we get a few steps ahead, the virus isn’t far behind. We can’t defeat it, yet it also cannot completely squash us, as it relies upon living vectors to propagate. No matter what the available treatments or vaccines, true cures for viruses remain elusive despite their primitivity. This push and pull never ceases to surprise me; how can an organism barely capable of reproducing on its own, not to mention have abilities of locomotion or homeostasis, best the greatest minds in science?