A Plane Landing by Claire Ockner

After a long night in the city, my mom and I returned to our hotel in Boston: the Marriott Copley. We walked down the hall, which was mostly silent, but for the muffled voices coming from inside the rooms. We approached our room, one of the many voices distinguishing itself from the rest. It was the voice of a woman in the room next to ours, presumably talking to a friend or partner.

“I have no problem with the Jews,” she said. Her voice was scratchy and high pitched and she sounded to be about 60. “I just don’t understand why he would want to convert. Who would do that?”

At this point, my ear was pressed to the door, waiting to hear what she would say next. My mom chuckled. I was born into a Jewish family, as was she, along with her parents and my grandparents’ parents, and so on through the generations of Platts and Ockners. My mother’s name is Hynda, which is Hebrew for female deer (which is probably why she named me Claire, a more basic name that is way less likely to be made fun of).

The woman continued her slightly antisemitic ranting. “I know that G-d will give the Jews a second chance… but if they still don’t accept Jesus into their hearts, they’ll be damned.”

Now my mother and I were both laughing. We knew that this was a widely held belief; hell, there were even people who thought the Jews ate children. It was funny. Not because we saw antisemitism as a joke in any way, but because we usually don’t hear those things within our “Shaker bubble”. As I lay awake that night, I returned to the question; Why would anyone want to convert? I didn’t know the answer. I was born Jewish, I never made a conscious decision to be what I am. How can I possibly know why people believe what they believe? I fell asleep.

The next morning, we boarded a plane leaving Boston. Planes were, at the time, my greatest fear. I would replay the images of planes falling from the sky over and over in my mind, almost obsessively. The turbulence was especially bad that day. Every time the plane jumped or turned even slightly, I would think to myself, this is it. You’re going to die. You’re going to die and everyone else on the plane is going to die and you have no control over it. When the plane landed, I felt a rush of relief. I made it all the way to Chicago in one piece.

Quickly, however, I began to wish I was back up in the air. I wished that my phone didn’t have service. I wished that I didn’t have news alerts on my phone. But I wasn’t up in the air. I was on the ground, staring at a news notification from CBS: Eight Dead in Shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagouge. Over the course of the day, I watched the death toll rise from eight to eleven. My mom texted her friends in Pittsburgh to make sure they were alright. They were.

As I sat, waiting for my next flight, I realized that I was no longer afraid to fly. I was not afraid of falling out of the sky and dying on impact. My fear had been replaced by something far more terrifying: being killed for being who I am.

Farewell to the Raider Marching Band by Ian Marr


A high school senior’s year is bound to contain countless opportunities, as well as painful farewells. For me, possibly the most profound parting I’ve endured has been from the Shaker drumline. It’s been four long football seasons that I’ve spent with these musicians rehearsing and performing at halftime shows. We’ve played at community events and pep rallies, and we’ve paraded across Shaker Heights on Memorial Day. At the end of each season, I’ve stood on the sidelines, watching the senior percussionists proudly marching across the football field with their parents on Senior Day. That’s what I’ve done for three years, and during those times it seemed to escape my mind that eventually I’d be one of the musicians being celebrated for all their hard work put into the band.

Growing up with the percussionists has been nothing short of inspiring. Even through frustration and impatience, I can’t think of a group of musicians that I’d rather have spent my games with. Once you’ve stood outside in 35 degree weather at 7:00 at night in the wind and rain, you realize that the people enduring it right there with you are really the best comrades you could ask for. Thanks to the Raider Marching Band for making it an amazing last season for me.

(Until the Italy tour in spring 2019, I’ll be waiting.)

Planning For The Future by Tomasina DeLong

am a junior, looking forward to the prospect of going to college. I am however, extremely stressed about the “Where?” “How?” and “For what” questions. With every adult I speak to, the second or third question is always, “Where are you going to college and what are you studying?” In my head I respond, “How do you think I am supposed to freaking know?!?!” and honestly my facial expressions probably say some of that anyway. I usually respond with an overwhelmed look on my face, saying, “Well…I haven’t decided yet, because I am keeping my options open and I’m not sure what I definitely want to study.” I understand that people are interested in how I am planning on spending my life after high school, but I feel like sometimes we can spent so much time planning that we let the beautiful moments, happening right now, pass us by. I have friends and I have a job and I have school. I have a life! I understand that right now, my life is focused on setting myself up for college, but isn’t college really about setting myself up for life? In all honesty, isn’t life essentially about setting yourself up for retirement?

I think that as a society, we are constantly so worried about the future that we are letting go of what we planned for in the first place. If I spent all of my childhood planning for college, is college a waste if I spend college planning for life? I think that we should pay attention to what is going on now, because if we spend every stage of life planning for the next, then overall, from early childhood through old age, we are simply planning for death.

The Rust Belt by Miles McCallum

It was coal, or steel. In some places salt, in others timber. And always along great rivers or lakes where nature provided the necessary infrastructure. Born from natural resources and geographic happenstance, cities in the Midwestern United States, from Minneapolis to Columbus, and from Milwaukee to Detroit, all share a similar character. Vibrant downtowns flourish, surrounded by decaying factories and remnants of past manufacturing, and from each city to the next, dotting the Great Lakes and Great Plains, great cities with great centers remind us of a long history.

Travel across the Rust Belt and in every city, you’ll find some similar fundamentals. Libraries and museums built with Gilded Age grandeur, professional sports teams that maintain legacies often nearly a century deep — histories that we’re all familiar with. The great capitalists, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford, and their various gospels! The “miracle” game where that last minute shot, run, or goal led to zealous fervor across the city! But it’s in the outskirts of these cities where derelict foundries represent histories paved over by the passage of time. Histories still present, granted, forgotten.



Cliches: Avoid them Like the Plague by Astrid Braun

When I began my freshman year Journalism I course, one of the first lessons was to eliminate all cliches. This shocked me, because, like many other new rules established by Natalie Sekicky, the journalism teacher, it contradicted everything I had learned before. Writers imitate what they know, and I had grown comfortable with my collection of phrases, picked up over time from everything I had read or heard before.

Freshman year was the first time I had experienced any pushback on those phrases, and it left me struggling to fill holes that once were so easily patched with the words of writers who came before me. The blank spaces confounded me. I gradually cut the cliches out of my writing repertoire and, over time, found it easier to convey meaning through simpler words.

Now, even as I write blog posts, English papers, or journalism articles, I have a mental block against writing anything that sounds too familiar, and too simple. But that doesn’t solve the problem on its own. Cliches help us express concepts that are difficult to fit into the definition of one word, and to express them using separate vocabulary means forcing yourself to truly think about what the meaning of that cliche is.

I don’t like reading Orwell, but in his essay Politics and the English Language, his attitude on cliches mirrors what mine has become — that they are too easy. One cannot write only to write. We write to convey the thoughts in our heads to others through vocabulary that we’ve created in order to do so. Cliches attempt to connect different human experiences through one phrase, and to think that the cliche has only one meaning is to discount the individual experience of the user.

My goal when I write is to express exactly how I think and feel in words, and it is an unreachable goal. But at least when I attempt to use my own words, and not the words I’ve been spoonfed, I can strive to attain such a goal.

The Ups and Downs of Regatta Season by Grace Meyer

Imagine waking up at 5 thirty in the morning on a weekend far away from home. A few of your teammates, about two or three, share a hotel room with you as the alarm goes off. You have about thirty minutes to get dressed, have breakfast in the lobby and check out before the charter bus leaves. Although you are exhausted from traveling the night before, you get out of the silk sheets and get ready to race.

After leaving the hotel, the sun hasn’t risen yet. Most of the team is trying to get sleep in as much as they possibly can to prepare for the long day ahead. You do the same.

This scenario is quite common on rowing teams across the country. Most people believe the stereotype that rowing is like kayaking and canoeing, but they would be dead wrong. Crew teams devote their time to constantly working out both on and off the water, using the rowing machines (called ergometers) to stay in shape. The competitions, known as regattas, are days where teams prepare from hours on end. Going out of town is quite a process, and getting ready beforehand is crucial.

I know a reader like you won’t enjoy reading paragraph upon paragraph of my blabbering, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. When leaving home for an away competition, a trailer brings down the slings and Ts used to hold the boats. A truck hauls the strapped down boats to the regatta sight. It takes fundraising money and donations to pay for charter buses there and back. As you can see, everything takes time and effort.

There are two types of racing: head racing and sprint racing. During head racing, which takes place in the fall, the boats row single file until one comes up from behind, passing the other. These courses are longer in length, usually around 5000 meters. On the other hand, during sprint races in the spring, all of the boats start side to side at the same time. These courses are much shorter, about 1000 to 1500 meters in length. All the teams can see who is ahead and who is behind, so competition is in full swing.

Don’t even get me started about rowing up to the starting line. My role as a coxswain, the smallest person in the boat, is to steer the boat, give commands (often technique fixes) and motivation to the other rowers. Many times, we are stuck sitting in one place while making the necessary adjustments when the current moves us. Before reaching the starting area the teams are very disorganized. A ref tries to move them into position, which takes time and patience.

However, once we are off, none of this matters. The adrenaline of racing flows through our veins as the exhilaration heightens, and everyone wants to win for their team. Because of all the preparations made from hours on end, our boats are sure to succeed.

What the Bucks Need to Do to Win the East—Jake Lehner

If the Bucks trade for CJ McCollum, they can win the Eastern Conference this year.


Portland’s playoff run last year was incredibly disappointing, considering that they were the third seed in the West. I would imagine that Portland’s front office is considering making some big moves this summer.


If I were the Bucks, I would trade Eric Bledsoe and some cash for CJ McCollum. A third team would have to intervene though, because Portland can’t play Bledsoe unless they trade Lillard or bring in Bledsoe off the bench. Eric Bledsoe doesn’t fit with the Bucks because he can’t stretch the floor, and CJ doesn’t fit with the blazers because Lillard handles the ball most of the time (which renders McCollum’s elite ball handling ability useless).


Imagine this starting lineup: CJ McCollum, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokuompo, and Thon Maker. This way, Milwaukee maintains a culture of ball movement while allowing CJ to make plays on the perimeter and stretch the floor. His lack of defense won’t be much of a problem because of Brogdon’s ability to read plays and switch onto tough defensive assignments. His abilities are maximized on the Bucks. If Giannis can’t make a play in the paint, then CJ can make a play outside. This way, the lane doesn’t get clogged and the offense can develop better rhythm.


CJ’s role on the Bucks would be much like that of Kyrie on the Cavaliers in 2016: using his handles, shooting, and creativity to make plays late in the shot clock.

What Happened to Homecoming King and Queen? By Monet Bouie

I remember it like it was yesterday! In my group chat, the only thing we could talk about was next Saturday. My friends and I chatted enthusiastically among ourselves! We couldn’t wait for the exciting evening ahead.  “What dress are you wearing?” “What color are your shoes?” “When are you getting your hair done?” “Are you bringing a date?” “What are we doing afterwards?”

Yes, I’m talking about homecoming! An experience that happens once a year where a multitude of students get dolled up for an evening of music, dancing, and fun. Homecoming itself can be a wonderful thing! Friendships strengthen, romances bloom, and I get a chance to boogie on the dance floor. But then there’s the dark side of homecoming. During this evening friendships begin to falter, relationships come to an abrupt stop, and a hell of a lot more. Even with these problems, our highschool (and many others across the nation) continues this tradition of homecoming. But all personal quelms aside on the individual students, today I want to focus on the event itself.

Throughout my high school career I’ve noticed a stark difference between our dances and those on tv. Yeah, there were lights and of course the dj and adult chaperones were present. But that one painstaking moment where the main characters (often times the jock and shy girl; yes this a cliche but don’t kill the messenger, blame hollywood) are announced by the principal to come on stage and are crowned king and queen! But this got me thinking… why doesn’t Shaker Heights High School have a homecoming king or queen?

This question lead me to do more research. When and where did the tradition of homecoming begin? What classifies as a homecoming dance? What traditions do we still have today? Well, usually taking place at the end of September or the beginning of October, homecoming is “an annual celebration for alumni at a high school, college, or university” (Merriam). The first homecoming took place in the fall of 1911 at the University of Missouri and spread throughout the country at the start of the century. Built around the central activity of a dance, banquet, parade, or sporting event, homecoming has stretched out to encompass a whole week! Today, the tradition continues as hundreds and even thousands of alumni come back to their alma maters and current students come together for exciting events.

The tradition of homecoming courts usually consist of a king and queen, princes and princesses, and sometimes even dukes and duchesses. The king and queen are elected by the student population by secret ballot, may be announced in school or at the dance, and then are crowned and or sashed. Seems innocent enough, right? It’s a chance for the student population to practice their right to vote as well as it gives Little Jimmy a healthy opportunity to campaign and possibly get a decent title. It’s that simple-

Oh contraire, my dear friends! It is never that easy! This tradition opens up a whole can of worms. Nowadays there are more openly non binary students, especially in our own community of Shaker Heights. This includes agender, bigender, trans, etc. I’ve taken it upon myself to reflect and challenge my own personal views on gender and the gender binary system we live in. Gender binary is the “system of viewing gender as consisting solely of two, opposite categories, termed “male and female”, in which no other possibilities for gender or anatomy are believed to exist. This system is oppressive to anyone who defies their sex assigned at birth, but particularly those who are gender-variant or do not fit neatly into one of the two standard categories” (transstudent). I know as a straight, cisgender woman, I have privileges and hold an array of benefits that I don’t continuously acknowledge. I also know now that having the traditional male “king” and female “queen” is only one example of how our cisgendered society oppresses young people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community.

This question of inclusivity is happening more and more. At Purdue University, two students were recently crowned “homecoming royalties” in which no one was named king or queen. At the West Lafayette, Ind., they had their first gender-neutral homecoming. But the conversation is happening at a highschool level as well. In late September, Evanston Township High School had two “Homecoming Royalty”, who can be any gender. Another example is Niles North High School that now has “Viking Royalty” instead of the standard king and queen. Similarly to Shaker, New Trier Township High School doesn’t select royalties or queen and king.  Yari Gallegos, a student on the Northwestern University homecoming committee says that, ‘“We are honoring our homecoming tradition while updating it to be more inclusive and representative of our diverse student body… These changes at universities across the country represent the growing diversity of their respective student bodies and the move towards creating more inclusive spaces.’” (chicagotribune). There are more and more high schools and colleges today that are getting rid of gender binary traditions and promoting equality.

There were many topics I didn’t cover in this article about homecoming. One example is how some believe the construct of homecoming royalties is just a popularity contest. Another would be the how this contest based on validation leads to the question of self worth and mental illness in teenagers. Don’t even get me started with the inappropriate twerking and alarming rate of underage drinking that occurs! But I’m still left with the question: why does the Shaker Heights High School not have homecoming queen and king? I’ve asked some staff members who have worked at the highschool since the early 2000’s and even they don’t know why! To be honest, I don’t really care if we have them or not, but my natural curiosity lead me to investigate the “why not?”. I believe half of the battle is putting your name on the ballot and the other half is getting enough votes. If a self identifying male wins prom queen, that’s because students chose them (and vice versa). Why do boys have to wear the crowns and the girls wear the tiaras? Why not just have a homecoming court with no titles of princess or prince? I’ve heard conflicting perspectives on the matter, but it seems to all boil down to personal morals. At the end of the day, I think we, as a community, need to take a good look in the mirror and ask ourselves: are we truly progressive? If not, how can we do better? If so, what more can we do?

Work Cited

Brooke, Eliza. “The History of Homecoming.” Broadly, VICE, 31 Aug. 2015, broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/59mmwa/the-history-of-homecoming.

“Homecoming.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homecoming.

“LGBTQ Definitions.” Trans Student Educational Resources, www.transstudent.org/definitions/.

Lourgos, Angie Leventis. “Homecoming Goes Gender-Neutral: More Schools Ditching King, Queen Traditions.” Chicagotribune.com, 29 Sept. 2018

“Where I’m From” by Isabella Ponce de Leon

I am from bonfires

From vicks and mint tea

I am from late nights catching fireflies

I’m from hot sticky summers in Puerto Rico

From giant palm trees

And my private stash of star fruit


I am from warm white sand stuck between your toes

A collection of seashells

I am from the late comers and church-goers,

From don’t dilly dally and hold your horses

I’m from early Sunday mornings

Of multiple hail marys and our fathers


I am from Kimberly and Agustin’s branch.

Rice and beans and tostones

From a ghost who used to haunt my grandfather

I’m from midnight snacks of hot chocolate with my Abuela

I’m from family dinners every night

To the leg my brother broke on a dare

Down in the dark scary basement is a trunk

filled to the rim with photos,

Of people and places not to be forgotten

To remember years from now


I am from these memories,

Like the deepest roots in a tree,

They will always keep me standing strong.

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.