Hair by Monet Bouie

Imagine you wake up in the morning from a long night of shea moisture and bantu knot twisting. Your arms are sore from the hours of detangling and wrestling your hair to stay in place. After you let your hair out of it’s bonnet cage and see the magnificent curls look just right, you smile to yourself. You walk out of the front door with confidence because you actually got your twist-out to look good (because 90% of the time it turns out looking like Edward Scissorhands). Your fro is big and beautiful and bounces with each step. You get approving looks, nods, and the occasional high five from other sisters and brothers that appreciate your kinky curls. Then you sit down at your seat/desk/anywhere and the “it” happens. In your peripheral you see these alabaster hands coming at you. This time you’re not quick enough to react and before you can dodge the attack, their claws sink themselves into your hair and clamp on tight! Then the perpetrator says something along the lines of:

“It’s so soft, like a cloud!”


“How do you get your hair to do that?”


“Is that your real hair?”

This is something that I, and many curly haired people, have had to experience. As a black woman who has had a vast amount of different hairstyles (box braids, afro, half-up half-down, etc.), I’ve had to experience this intrusion of personal space and these types of microaggressions all my life.

Even when I was a little girl, I’ve been struggling to accept my curls. I distinctly remember watching shows like Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Good Luck Charlie where the female leads had beautiful, long, straight hair. I’d constantly ask myself why my hair couldn’t be like that, so I asked my mom. She told me that my hair doesn’t do that naturally and it would never be like Miley Cyrus’s, but it was still beautiful. I didn’t believe her.

Still, I struggle with loving myself and my hair. Each day has its own battles but, 9 times out of ten, I love who I am.

But please do not, and I repeat, DO NOT touch my hair.

Love Yourself First Poem By: Madison Wilson

I used to wish I could wipe away all the blemishes and ignore that they were ever there in the first place.

I used wish I could  put on a facade for the world to see me without…

…without insecurities.

…without pain-

but only with beauty and as a living manifestation of perfection.

But then I think…and I think again.

I know that if that were my reality, I would not fully be me.

I am not me without the good and what I sometimes consider to be, the bad-

but I am rather a perfectly imperfect human being.

I am strong, because I choose to accept that my strength lies within me.

I am content with my life knowing that the only limits I have are the ones I choose to accept.

I am the peaceful knowing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I am the beholder; the beholder is me.

So love yourself first, queen, before you go wishing you were someone or something else….

-because I know that I will only be respected if I respect myself first.

Embrace what you consider to be, the bad…

…love yourself first,  because your flaws do not define you,

You, Define. You.

Reflections by Tomasina DeLong

Everyone has heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and I think that this makes sense. How much of what we do should directly reflect on us? I don’t know. Should we be responsible for everything we do? I think that yes, we should be responsible. Does that mean we are responsible, at least in part, for how we are perceived?


I thought about this the other day in the car with my brother. I was driving him to basketball and I had on my own music because it automatically started playing my playlist. He began to gawk at my songs of choice, and I explained to him “my car, my music” but he didn’t really get the message. He took my phone but since it was locked, he couldn’t change the music, he could only pause it. I gave up my fight and gave him my password for him to pick a song to play. He proceeded to play a song, which was more of an angry rap/rant in my opinion, filled with swear words and derogatory phrases.


Horrified, I glance over at my 8th grade brother pumping his fist and singing/screaming the words to this song. This changed my opinion of my brother forever because I now know that he knows those words and enjoys songs willed with them. My image of him is forever changed and this makes me think of how our actions, even the slightest ones, and who/what we associate with impacts how others perceive us.  


I think that when a person expresses themself in any form they are becoming vulnerable. They are opening themself up to possible ridicule or judgement based on their choices. People can either hide their personality or embrace it. I am not a very extroverted person to begin with and I am afraid of judgement, which is why I let my brother and my friends play their own music in the car. This is just one small example of how I let the fear of judgment impact my daily life, but as I get older I am trying to care less about what others think. I often reflect on how myself and how I am viewed as a member of society, understanding that I am my own unique person in a world filled with unique people.

Italo Calvino by Miles McCallum

“Reading Calvino, you’re constantly assailed by the notion that he is writing down what you have always known, except that you’ve never thought of it before…” (x)

No literature is quite like that of Italo Calvino’s. His stories maintain a true liveliness; characters jump out, not as specific agents with predetermined arcs, but as expressions of human essence and inquisition. His characters interact with the world in a very personal and human way. Cosimo, the “Baron of the Trees”, is not born in any extraordinary circumstances but he works in reaction to the world through a specific human desire for freedom. Agilulf is literally nothing — he’s a formless, empty suit of armor. But acts in the virtue of the specific human sense of loyalty and dedication. They don’t create or define their worlds, but instead work in reaction to that around them, and explore themselves in the standards of a place and time they’ve been born into. As he says himself, “What interests me is the mosaic in which man finds himself framed, the games of relationship, the figure waiting to be discovered…”. It’s difficult to balance the mechanics of a story and its real underlying meaning, but Calvino does so beautifully.

The biographies of authors and artists are often just as interesting as their works, and Calvino is no exception. Born in 1923 to an agronomist and a professor, he grew up in Sanremo, Italy on the temperate Mediterranean coast. From coming of age among the works of Marx and Kropotkin to fighting  as a partisan during WWII (only with a blessing from his mother), Calvino helped shape the post-war world through his pen. He began his literary career as a columnist for a communist newspaper, but following the USSR’s brutal invasion of Hungary he grew disillusioned by the totalitarian style of Marxism spreading across the world, and abandon his official adherence to that ideology. Calvino became a world renowned author, travelling to New York and Havana, meeting the likes of Che Guevara and Raymond Queneau — all the while influencing and being influenced by the world around him.

Drawing from his life and perhaps more so the fabric of life around him, Calvino’s literature explores the many questions of existence posed by a new modern world. Unlike many of his contemporaries he doesn’t accomplish this through a melancholy, hopeless lens, but instead from a place of exploration for explorations sake. In any age or time we face questions of identity, existence, and being. Calvino’s thoughts, ponderings, and questions serve as a vehicle for asking these questions in a new world so far removed from that of Aristotle or Descartes. His works offer an exploration of philosophy for a brand new day.

Method (by Jake Lehner)

Though I am not an expert by any means, I’ve come to recognize that there are at least a few different schools of thought when it comes to acting. I’d like to share a couple of anecdotes, if that’s okay.

The first major school of thought comes from a Russian theatre practitioner by the name of Konstantin Stanislavski, who is famous for saying “find the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” He believed that, in order for the actor to fully embrace the character, they must pull from their own life experiences. This technique, called “memory-recall” is one of the many devices that contemporary actors use to shape moments onstage. Intensive research and critical thinking were the most important ingredients in Slavikavski’s recipe for acting.

However, an acting coach by the name of Harold Guskin, who has worked extensively with performers such as Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Christopher Reeve, and Peter Fonda, challenged this notion. He believed that critical thinking is the enemy of creativity, and that the actor must pull meaning straight from the text on the page. The key, according to Guskin, is to make choices without hesitation. The more arbitrary the choice, the better. Spontaneity, flexibility, and authenticity are among the most essential components in Guskin’s method.

I believe that there is a place in theatre and film for both of these concepts. It’s important to learn from experienced actors, because finding as many ideas without any sort of help would surely take more than one lifetime.

The Countdown Begins by Bronwyn Warnock

5 days until Spring Break. 6 days until April. 33 days until prom. 38 days until May. 73 days until June 5th (aka the LAST day of school). It’s incredibly surreal to think that the school year is slowly winding down. It honestly feels like the school year just began yesterday.

As the students and staff begin to count down towards the end of the school year, some people may be filled with anxiety due to college decisions or improving grades, yet others may be filled with happiness. The end of the school year brings exciting events, such as prom and graduation. For some, just the idea of not having to wake up in the early hours of the morning is satisfying enough. Other events at the end of the school year such as Advanced Placement testing and finals can be a stressful time.

Change can be a hard thing to adjust to but the transition from the end of the school year to the summer is a very easy change for both the students and the staff. The seniors of the high school building are especially looking forward to the end of the school year as they have paid the most time at the high school. The effects of the deviled “Senioritis” have already set into the minds of the seniors, who are anxious to be done with high school. As for the juniors, they are working to push through the end of the school year in order to show future universities and/or employers what they can do. The sophomores, and especially the freshmen, are simply just wishing for the end of the school year as they have already gotten into the groove of the year and are anticipating an end.  Once Shaker gets through the “countdown” of the end of the year it will be smooth sailing out of the high school building and onto brighter (and hopefully sunnier) days.

Why I Love Shazam- The Best Song Identifier on Apple by Grace Meyer


Have you ever heard a new song on the radio or somewhere random with a chorus that tickles your fancy or strikes you as incredible, no matter how simple the lyrics are? The kind of music that refuses to leave your thoughts and hooks you on the first note? Have you been dying with curiosity to find out its name, but don’t want to ask your friends in hopes of not seeming out of the loop? If so, I recommend checking out the app Shazam. It has millions (I’m pretty sure) of songs stored in its memory so after a couple seconds of listening, it automatically pulls up information about it! I can remember at least one instance where I let the opportunity of finding out the name of a song go by, and I wish I would’ve found out about this app earlier (although it is free, if you have an Apple device asking Siri works perfectly fine too). However, if you get no results, the song was probably recorded only for the purpose of a movie or other entertainment purposes, which is the only disadvantage. Some songs are too obscure to be well-known, but the chance of this happening is pretty low. If you get the chance, Shazam will be worth your while (this sounds so much like an ad, sorry).

Hundreds of Playlists by Molly Spring

In times of joy, happiness, despair, or frustration, I turn to music. I, myself, have never played an instrument besides the recorder in the second grade; however, I consider music to be one of the most important parts of my life. Music teaches us about each other. Music can captivate, amaze, heal, and move you in such a way that nothing else can. Some of my best memories I can attach a song or artist to and I am reminded of the same smiles and laughs when that first note plays. I have made hundreds of playlists in my life. Playlists that convey an array of emotions, playlists that represent certain times of my life, playlists that bring a strong sense of nostalgia or a smile to my face. I journal in playlists. Each month, sometimes each week, I create a new playlist of all the music I’ve discovered that month, playing it constantly until I get sick of each song. Music is therapy.


Jeanne Calment by Josh Skubby

The oldest person ever recorded is Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived to be 122 years (and 164 days) old. She was born in 1875 and lived until 1997.

That’s ridiculous. It’s also really hard to comprehend.

She was born a decade removed from the American Civil War, and died a few short years before 9/11. When World War II ended, she was 70 years old. Then she lasted another 50 years. She lived more than two lifetimes, especially by 1875 standards.

Let’s run down a list of things she experienced.

She was a young woman when the Wright Brothers first took off from Kitty Hawk in 1903. The world became a hell of a lot smaller in the following decades. Over her life. she saw airplanes revolutionize the way we travel.

Thomas Edison tested his first light bulb in 1878. Nowadays, light bulbs have taken over the developed world. It’s hard to imagine an American home without them.

Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone in 1876. Over the next 120 years, it spread like wildfire and connected humans in a way never done before.

Basketball wasn’t invented until 1891. In the 1996-97 season, Michael Jordan was on his way to his 5th championship.

Geopolitically, she saw almost everything there is to see. The second wave of colonization effectively began with the Berlin Conference in 1884-85. She saw the scramble for Africa, World War I, World War II, de-colonization, and the Cold War’s beginning and end. We think of all these events as somewhat separate, with certain links connecting them. Although their circumstances differ, Jeanne Calment witnessed them all.

Imagine living that long, with the world around you transforming in so many different ways. She must have met so many different people and heard so many different stories.

With so many years, however, she lived through plenty of tragedies. She only had one daughter and one grandson. Her husband, Fernand, died in 1942. Her daughter, Yvonne, died in 1934, on her 36th birthday. Her brother, François, died in 1962, while her son-in-law, Joseph, died in 1963.

Her only grandson, Frédéric, died in August 1963 in an automobile accident. Of all the things she lived through, I’m sure that stung especially hard. He was 37.

Imaging being old as long as she was. If we consider 70 to be old, she was old for over 50 years. It makes you wonder; how long is too long?

Peace, Love, Plants by Ava Byrne

I am a self described plant mom. I have around fourteen potted plants at various places around my room. The other day, I was thinking about how I would have to leave most of my plants at home when I go to college. I was so sad and of course the obvious course of action is to buy another plant, which is exactly what I did. So I thought why not write my blog about plants. My plant obsession started a few years ago with a succulent and my collection grew to the 14 assorted potted plants I have today. In my humble opinion I think everyone should have at least one potted plant. Here’s why.

  1. They’re super cute. You cannot argue with me on this. Need to spruce up your room? Boom potted plant.
  2. They reduce anxiety and stress- According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, interacting with houseplants, like touching, watering, etc, can reduce physiological and psycological stress.
  3. You can give them silly names. I personally have an Aloe Vera plant named Queen Latifah and a cactus named Jorge.
  4. It feels nice to take care of something and see it grow.
  5. Your parents won’t let you get a dog? Fill that puppy shaped void in your heart with lots and lots of plants.