Queen of Instant Cooking (and Chocolate Covered Snacks) by Lane Murray

My friend recently said to me, “You’re so ready for college, you’re only good at making instant food.” I interpreted this as a both a compliment and an insult, because yes, I will be ready for college when there’s not homemade, healthy options everywhere, but I also knew there was a slight jab at my lack of cooking ability in her statement. And just as a precursor, I’m perfectly healthy and get all my food groups and eat my vegetables. But in the end I really am the Queen of Instant Cooking. I pride myself on my ability to take a microwaveable meal and turn it into something above average. And I’m talking about the 99 cent ramens and mac and cheeses, not Trader Joe’s chicken tikka masala and cauliflower stir fry. Finding smaller compliments to go in these meals are what make up my cooking expertise. Spices and sauces in my 99 cent ramen and additional cheeses, breadcrumbs, and vegetables in my mac and cheese are some classic dishes. I seriously think I can make delicious meals out of any cheap instant lunch when it’s paired with a kitchen that has just enough for a snack and just not enough for a wholly cooked meal. Now that I think about it, this could be a fantastic idea for an amateur chef reality show.

Alternatively, one thing that I like to make a lot which also requires no skill whatsoever is chocolate covered strawberries and other foods. This Tuesday when I was at home sick I made chocolate covered food for the first time since maybe last year. Taking practically everything dippable in my house, I ended with chocolate covered strawberries, bananas, pretzels, pineapple, grapes, oreos, and marshmallows. I don’t know why chocolate covered snacks are perhaps one of my favorite things on Earth but they are and I’ve been eating them at way too fast a pace since they’ve been in the fridge. They’re one of my favorite things to make for people as gifts for birthdays, general congratulations, etc; but they’re also one of most fun things to make to cheer myself up, for example, when I’m sick, which is why it’s peculiar because I really don’t like true baking or cooking. So there’s a strange balance between the types of things I eat when there’s not traditional meals available, but I’m healthy and enjoy what I make, so is there really a problem? The answer is no 🙂

Esti’s Top Five Songs Right Now by Esti Goldstein

My music taste has a wide range so bear with me, but this week I have had a couple songs I have grown to love stuck in my head. So in no particular order:

  • Can We Dance by the Vamps: I love the Vamps, especially their other club hits like Just My Type. However I was completely unaware of this song until my friends introduced it to me a few days ago. The catchy chorus and upbeat debate over how the protagonist should proceed when faced with a girl he is interested in are so fun to scream with your friends.
  • Stop Loving You by Toto: So I know that Toto gets a bad rap because they are super old and super cheesy and this song is exactly that. However, this song has been spinning in my head for quite a few days and is a great soundtrack for aggressive hair flipping and air guitar.
  • Calma Alicia Remix: By Pedro Capó and Alicia Keys: I love this remix with Alicia because the female duet adds a layering component that only increases the summery beach vibes, which in this freezing winter are very welcome.
  • Shut Up by Greyson Chance: This song is a beautiful love ode that is perfect for driving along the snowfall and street lights or for slow dancing to in your room. My friends and I often listen to it when we are sleepy or studying together and the simple melody and well crafted lyrics pair well with the slow vibes of winter.
  • Coloring Outside the Lines by MisterWives: This song feels like a giant injection of bright colors and streamers floating all over the place, with a solid beat yet deep lyrics about the band’s love for their lifestyle and how lucky they are to be making music. I like listening to this song when I’m running and I need some positive motivation to remind me why I love this crazy sport.

The Pros and Cons of Winter by John Stevenson

First of all, winter definitely is not my favorite season.  I cannot fathom how someone could call winter their favorite season; it’s basically just cold and darkness.  Even though winter has many cons, there are some pros. The beginning of winter, when it is the holiday season, is always an exciting time of year.  Nothing tops being surrounded by family, friends and gifts. Winter is also a time for one of my favorite activities, skiing. I have always been intrigued by skiing ever since I was little.  There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush gliding down a steep hill through a sea of wind and snowflakes. Usually, I just ski close to home but I definitely would like to go to Colorado or Canada someday.  Also, snow days are always nice but it doesn’t seem like there are going to be any this year, no thanks to El Nino.

This winter has been odd to say the least, the weather patterns have been very hard to follow.  I dislike winter even more when it doesn’t snow because going outside is always more enjoyable when it’s snowing rather than just being cold and grey.  I believe that my Italian heritage has contributed to why I hate winter so much, my body just simply rejects it. I’m not saying I can’t stand cold weather, I just hate it.  Trudging through the snow and cold to get to school everyday gets very old, as it is so much more enjoyable when it’s 70 degrees and sunny. I also hate how long winter is in Ohio as it is a third of the year.  I’m not saying that I dislike Ohio, but I definitely hate its weather. My experience in Ohio has made me think about where I want to live when I’m older. I would not mind moving back to Shaker when I am an adult, but I feel like a change of scenery might be nice.  I have always wanted to live out West as I love California, but it doesn’t really make sense economically. In the end, I probably will end up in the Midwest somehow even though I hate it’s weather.  

Three Benefits of Being a Peer Tutor by Kevin Jiang

By now, any readers of this blog (anyone out there?!) might have figured out that I am a Writing Center intern who does writing intern-y things when I’m not busy writing my monthly blog post. One such thing is having writing conferences with fellow students quite frequently. It’s a gratifying experience, reading and providing feedback on other students’ essays every day. I suppose you could classify it as peer tutoring. But I also have a job tutoring in our Academic Resource Center outside of writing center hours, true peer tutoring, and I’ve gained some insight from that experience that I would like to share. I never thought being a peer tutor would be such a rewarding job, but here I am. Here goes:

  1. Student perspectives are different

Teachers are experts at teaching the content in their class, but I bet that history teacher of yours hasn’t actually taken a history class in a few years, decades, or even centuries. Conversely, most students are experts on how to master not only the subject material, but also how to approach the work, what big ideas to focus on, and how to balance the class with other classes. While students are legally required to attend classes and listen to the teacher’s way of explaining concepts, sometimes a student doesn’t see it the same way, and it just doesn’t make any sense. Peer tutor to the rescue! As someone who has taken a class on the subject matter before, and presumably has had a chance to successfully synthesize the material, peer tutors are often able to explain concepts differently to students, resulting in a higher level of understanding. It’s difficult to explain the feeling when someone I’m tutoring has that “aha” moment, right when I’m about to run out of ways to explain a concept.

  1. As a tutor, I’ve learned many new things

Last week, I was tutoring a student who needed help with factoring polynomials. While factoring polynomials is a technique I use frequently in math, I don’t actually remember how I was taught to do it. It got to the point where I had to factor so many polynomials that I was intuitively able to narrow the possibilities down to a few, and then guess-and-check. However, I couldn’t exactly gift this student my intuition. So I asked him how his teacher taught the class to factor polynomials. “Well,” he told me, “we’re supposed to draw an X, and write the b term in the top of the X and the c term in the bottom of the X.” And just like that, this student had unknowingly added a tool to my bag: how to teach future students to factor. 

  1. Students aren’t as intimidated

Over time, I’ve come to realize that a lot of my peers are reluctant to ask their teachers for help when some small detail doesn’t make sense. After all, it can be intimidating to ask a teacher, the same one who is grading your assignments, something that might not even matter. The perceived cost sometimes simply exceeds the reward. But what about that peer tutor, the one who’s sitting right there doing nothing? I’m not grading anyone’s papers, and I’m relatively harmless, if I do say so myself. Just last week, someone came up to me and asked why combustion reactions are called combustion reactions as we were working on a problem involving one. In chemistry class, all the student needed to know is what the products and reactants of a combustion reaction were, so they didn’t feel like that question was necessary. However, in the (very long) time I had to tutor and converse with them, I was able to answer such questions borne out of curiosity.


The Best Books We Read at the High School by Gabbi Fortin

I’ve been at the high school for two and a half years, and since then my teachers have made me read hours worth of chapters every week. I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than two weeks without discussing or reading a book for school. This being said, I’ve recently reflected on the best novels I’ve had to read. As of February in my junior year, I think I’ve had to read 20 books, including summer reading, and of course not including text books. However I think I’m missing a few that might not have left the greatest impression that my teachers had hoped for on me. Here are my favorite school-issued books:


  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I’ll admit that this wasn’t my favorite when I first started reading it. A little hard to understand at first, it takes a while to get what Dickens is saying. But, the extra effort becomes worth it with the ending. It’s really, really satisfying.


  1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

I loved this book! It’s a summer reading book, and I read it in a span of three days on the beach. It was one of those books that’s hard to put down- and the discussions in class are really great! I’d definitely recommend this book to not just high school students. In fact, my sister who’s in college is reading it right now! (With all my sophomore annotations).


  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I have to say that this is the only in-school book that I’ve finished early. Not only did it teach the horrible conditions that American Indians go through today, but it’s really well written. I read it freshman year, so my memory is a little hazy- but for freshman me to willingly read a school issued book when it isn’t assigned is pretty amazing. 

My Reaction to NBA All-Star Weekend by Isaiah Gundani

Every year in mid-February, the NBA pauses games for five days, and holds a weekend full of various basketball related festivities. This is a dream come true for basketball fans like myself, who would like nothing more than a full weekend of NBA action. This year, All-Star Weekend did not disappoint, as it was one of the best in recent memory.

On Friday, the NBA held the Celebrity Game which included celebrities such as Quavo and Common. I won’t lie, the Celeb Game might be the least exciting part of the weekend as some celebrities struggle hard on the court. However, this year, rapper Common showed out and came away with 2o points and the MVP award. Following the Celeb Game, the best young players in the NBA took the court in the Rising Stars Challenge. The players are then divided into 2 teams: the U.S. team and the World team. (The World team takes any young NBA player that was born outside the U.S.). The game included marquee players such as Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. But it was Miles Bridges who stole the show, as his 20 points fueled the U.S. team to a 151-131 victory over the World team.

Next, on All-Star Saturday Night, the NBA held the Skills Challenge, the Three Point Contest, and the Dunk Contest. The Dunk Contest was the highlight of the night, as two dunkers, Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr., stole the show. The event went into double overtime, with Derrick Jones eventually winning in a controversial finish.

Last but definitely not least, the All-Star game was held on Sunday night. It took the best players from both the Western and Eastern Conferences, and divided them into two teams. The game was highly anticipated as it was the first All-Star game since the death of NBA legend, Kobe Bryant. Various nods to Kobe and his daughter Gianna, were seen throughout the game. The most obvious was players wearing the numbers 24 and 2, which were the numbers of Kobe and his daughter. And in the 4th quarter, the two teams played to reach the score of 24, which made for a highly entertaining end to the game. This All-Star game was arguably the best and most competitive ever as both teams tried to pay their respects to Kobe. Overall, this All-Star Weekend is one I’ll never forget.

Image result for kawhi leonard all star mvp


Cheer by Victoria Helmick

Hey guys, back at it again with another review! This time I will be introducing you all to a new documentary series on Netflix titled Cheer.

To get things straight, I, in fact, have never cheered in my entire life, and my mind was filled with misconceptions about this daunting and time-consuming sport. Cheer centers on the fourteen-time champion junior college Navarro. Viewers are taken into a six-episode binge of the backgrounds of the Navarro squad and their resilient head coach Monica Aldama. The series as a whole focuses on the team’s preparation for the national competition in Daytona, Florida. 

The show is not only six hours full of tumbling and grueling injuries, but viewers become connected to each and every one of the Navarro cheerleaders and their amazing, yet heartbreaking, backstories. Such stories range from a small-town girl who had to live in a trailer with only her brother while she was in high school, to a social media icon within the cheer community. 

Navarro College is a junior college centered in Corsicana, Texas, an extremely conservative and old-style town of living. In addition, many of the Navarro cheerleaders feel out of place due to conflicting views with the citizens of Corsicana. Cheer takes people on a rollercoaster of emotions, where one learns that regardless of their background, the Navarro team and the entire cheer community is one big family.

The series itself has now set many of the cheerleaders onto new paths in their lives, due to the fact that one can only cheer through college, there are not many careers involving the sport after. For example, scene-stealer, Jerry, with his “over the top attitude”, as explained by Aldama, was given the opportunity to interview Hollywood’s biggest stars at this year’s Oscars Ceremony. Seeing the Navarro cheer squad persist through injuries and a tremendous amount of work and motivation by their peers shows viewers that cheer is not just a social status boost in school. Their backgrounds are all extremely different, yet the mat and team itself is what brings them together and makes them one. I would hate to fully spoil the series, yet the show leaves viewers feeling impressed and a sudden urge to want to hit the mat and start tumbling!

Numerology- by Emma Jevack

When talking about numbers, most people think of them in the context of a math problem or maybe as an amount of money, both pretty surface level connections to numbers. However, do you ever see reoccurring numbers in your life or a certain connection to a single digit? If so, you might be interested in Numerology, the connection of numbers to your life and the universe.

It might sound confusing, but just like astrology it’s a way to align yourself and make connections with the world around you. Basically, every set of numbers can be reduced to a single digit, with each single digit having significance. However, the only 2 numbers you should NOT reduce are 11 and 22. These are considered master numbers and hold a higher significance of success and growth.  The most popular example is getting your Life Path Number by adding up the digits of your birthday. So for example, my birthday is 9/26/2002


2+6= 8

2+0+0+2= 4

9+8+4= 21

2+1= 3

So my life path number is 3. From here, there’s countless charts and articles explaining what your life path number means and what life holds for you. I was shocked to see that “3” holds many of the same traits I already see in myself. And when I think about it, the number 3 does seem to pop up a lot in my life. If you dive deeper, there’s number associated with letters, (see below chart) and from there you can reduce your name and get your Destiny Number, which is reflective of how you’ll reach your goals in life. So where my Life Path Number is 3, my Destiny Number is 5.

It’s a lot to process, but if you entertain the idea you’ll find that the numbers you used to only consider for math problems actually hold a ton of meaning. And if you get a 22/100 on your next test, don’t worry, the 22 is a good sign!

Off Brand Rotten Tomatoes, Volume I by Aaliyah Williams

“I can’t decide if that was bad in a good way, good in a good way, good in a bad way, or bad in a bad way.”

I am a total snob about what I watch. That being said, I’ve seen a lot of things in the past few weeks and I’d just love to spout my opinion on them.

  1. Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), 2020: This movie was ok. I think the whole entourage of characters were nice enough, but every character minus Harley Quinn and the little pick-pocket girl Cassandra had an extremely hard time breaking out of the mold of archetypes and stereotypes. The villains were evil and boring with no nuance and no compelling backstory. The fight scenes were so long and drawn out that I think about half an hour’s worth of them could have been cut out and the movie would have been the exact same (or maybe more interesting?). The women of the film were beautiful and badass, but they were also generally flat, and extraordinarily predictable. Margot Robbie did a beautiful job though of portraying a woman going through a breakup and learning to stand on her own though, even if the script of the supporting characters stifled her. Overall, I would recommend it as a fun movie night watch.
  2. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Season 3), 2020: I watch this show mostly for the world building and super strong supporting characters. Some of the main characters are kind of weak (particularly Sabrina, who I think weakens the entire show with Keirnan Shipka’s unconvincing acting and childish facial expressions), but the general cast of characters is held together by a few characters in particular. The mythology of the show is super interesting to me! I thoroughly enjoy it, even though the writers have a particularly hard time trying to make romance between the teenage characters anything other than ridiculous. Currently the writing team is laying the groundwork for a love triangle that doesn’t need to happen. We’ll see where the show goes.
  3. Bojack Horseman (Season 6 pt. II), 2020: The perfect end to a beautiful show. Bojack Horseman ran for years, and has covered a wide variety of topics that plague everyday people even if it focuses on the issues of famous anthropomorphic creatures. I would recommend it, but this show goes super deep so it’s definitely not for light, casual watching. The final seasons traverse the political and social landscape after #MeToo, and it really aims to have a great conversation about things that are greatly difficult to talk about.
  4. Crash Landing on You, 2020: So romantic. So beautiful. So in-depth. The show is a funny and witty k-drama. Literally have been obsessed with it. On Netflix. Watch immediately!

music therapy in action by emilia richter

On a Friday morning, I took some time off from school to go to the Cleveland Clinic. I was about to observe Laura McFee, a certified music therapist, as she visited some patients. I was excited for the observation, but I didn’t know what to expect. This was the first time I was ever going to see music therapy in action.

Laura was very kind and welcoming, and she was open to any questions I had throughout the observation. She explained to me that as a music therapist, she runs around a lot — patients are referred to her from all over the hospital. Usually, they are referred by their doctors, because most patients aren’t aware that the Clinic has music therapy. Many don’t even know what music therapy is. For that reason, some of the patients Laura visits aren’t very open to participating. Luckily, when they are given more information about music therapy and how it can help them, they usually change their minds.

That morning, we walked to several different areas of the Clinic, visiting patients. First, I would stand outside the room as Laura tested the waters — she needed to evaluate how the patient was doing and if music therapy would be beneficial in that moment. If the patient gave the okay, I would walk in and observe the rest of the process.

One of the patients Laura helped was an elderly man who had just left the Intensive Care Unit. He was having some trouble breathing, and he was feeling pretty stressed. Before she could start playing, Laura needed to know more about her patient and his likes/dislikes. She used friendly conversation to evaluate what kind of music the man wanted to hear in that moment.

As it turned out, the elderly man loved marching band music, and exciting orchestral works by Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. Of course, Laura couldn’t reproduce this with her voice, keyboard, guitar, or drums, but luckily she had an iPad with her. After listening to some of his favorite pieces, the man seemed a little less tense, but he wanted to hear more. That’s when Laura used her musical skills to sing a couple patriotic songs, self-accompanied on keyboard and then guitar. The man closed his eyes and truly relaxed.

All in all, I think this observation was an incredible learning experience. I loved getting to see what music therapy in a clinical setting is like in person. I also really enjoyed getting to witness the powerful effects it can have on a sick patient. I’m excited to learn more about this amazing use of music!