Christmas Wishes by Evan Barragate

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As far back as I can remember, every kid wanted the same thing for Christmas growing up. It wasn’t a toy, a book, or a game. Everyone wanted Santa to leave an iPhone beneath their festive tree.

This was all I can recall putting on my list as a kid, and I envied any other who had one. I remember scorning anyone my age with a phone and denouncing them as unworthy with my other phoneless friend. I cried tears of joy in fifth grade when I finally received the only gift I had ever wished for in my childhood. After years of making fake phones and carrying empty cases, I was gifted a beautiful, silver, shiny, iPhone 6.

After that Christmas, I became the most confident version of myself I have ever been. I held my device as much as possible – displaying to the world how incredible I was because of my phone. It must have been a rare occurrence all the way back in 2015 to have a cell phone; I must have been one of the only people to have one. I remember the airport being one of the main places I would show off my gadget, likely because of the masses of people there. As I went through the metal detector at customs, I purposely would leave my phone in my pocket so that the detector would beep. Then I would pretend to try to figure out what could have possibly set off the machine, before announcing that I realized it was my iPhone – just to let everyone know I had one.

The excitement and jealousy continued the following couple of holiday seasons. Each year, I asked for the newest model of the iPhone. Thankfully, my parents realized how unnecessary this was, and I continued to criticize those who received this gift that I hoped for. When a girl in our grade lost her iPhone 7, my friend and I agreed, “She deserved it.”

But as time went on, I realized how tired I had become of slow internet, annoying texts, and low storage. Cell phones became something I know that I need, but don’t actually like. So, today I have truly become my mother. My phone is a few years old, and I never update it because I have no interest in doing so. This year, I am not concerned about the gifts I receive, as Christmas is not about presents – it’s about the food.

Last Christmas, This Year by Mia Compton-Engle

I think I speak for everyone when I say that no serotonin boost compares to the opening chords of Wham!’s musical masterpiece Last Christmas (1984). I mean, let’s be honest—you know Last Christmas, you love Last Christmas, and even now, as you recall this forgotten friend, you’re nodding awkwardly to the beat of Last Christmas in your head. At this point, you don’t really have a choice—either you embrace Last Christmas or Last Christmas embraces you, a fate far too traumatizing to imagine, let alone articulate here. I’ve accepted the former—a burning passion for Last Christmas—and encourage you to do the same. Better to be swept away by mind-numbing oblivion in the form of a harmless 80s synth jingle than confront any number of potential existential crises, am I right! In other words, our world has countless problems, but Wham!’s Last Christmas certainly isn’t one of them. Dear Viv, this is the hill upon which I am prepared to die (and accordingly ascend to heaven, where I will inevitably find myself in Wham!’s esteemed company, and we will perform Last Christmas karaoke version on repeat until higher powers rightfully conclude that we are menaces to society and banish us forever. But I digress. The gist is that I’m unhealthily obsessed with Last Christmas). 

Every year, this one being no exception, I eagerly anticipate the holiday season exclusively for Wham!’s siren song. Not only is Last Christmas a tried and true means for familial torture (just ask my parents; they’ve made it painstakingly clear that playing Last Christmas twice in a row is two times too many), but I genuinely appreciate the song’s lyrical ingenuity. In just four minutes and 22 seconds, Wham! captures the entirety of human emotional capability, from heartbreak to heartache and anguish to… nostalgia about anguish (?). I laugh, I cry, I hit rewind and begin again, over and over until Last Christmas becomes a dizzying labyrinth to which sole salvation is Wham!, omnipotent savior, *angelic sigh*. Of course, Wham!’s exaltation would be incomplete without due appreciation for half the duo, your friend and mine, leading lad George Michael, the objectively inimitable English heartthrob who established his pop stardom through Careless Whisper (1984) and… well… other songs too. Probably. Regardless, cool guy, sweet tunes. Nothing like a smooooth sax to set the mood this winter, uncomfortably intimate tone intended. Oh yeah. 

Anyway, disregarding my out of pocket tangent, if the most wonderful time of the year has offered me any insight, it is to cherish Wham!’s disturbingly intoxicating serenade. But don’t just take my word for it; cozy up under that beloved blanket, fire crackling, snow storm raging all around, life’s questions decidedly unanswered, and act by my example: queue Last Christmas again, and again, and again.

Ozymandias and Legacy by Reece Turner

“And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


These are the last lines of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1818 poem, simply titled Ozymandias. Told through the testimony of “a traveler from an antique land,” the poem concerns Shelley’s ever-present fear of being forgotten; his legacy ground down by the sands of time until he only exists in far-off whispers and cryptic fossils. Shelley’s Ozymandias ironically became notorious, leaving a substantial mark on popular culture nearly 200 years after its author’s death. On the other hand, Ho

race Smith’s Ozymandias, published 3 weeks after Shelley’s as part of a competition between friends, was much less successful, being relegated to obscurity today. Somewhat fittingly, despite being much less influential than Shelley’s, Smith’s Ozymandias remains one of his most well known works; a substantial portion of the author’s legacy stemming from his association with his more successful friend.


Another of Shelley’s works, the lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound, was based on a trilogy by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus, of which only one play survives. Our only information about the other two stems from the various praises and descriptions of his successors, the manuscripts of his work having burned in the fires of the last 2500 years. Similarly to Ozymandias, Aeschylus was incredibly influential during his time, yet his Prometheia trilogy only survives to this day through the congratulatory whispers of playwrights lucky enough to avoid the razor of time, a fact that Shelley surely came upon while writing his own work, and one which likely influenced his tale of gradual demise.

If, as Shelley proposes, founding a legacy is ultimately futile, what’s the point of creating, of putting in an effort to express yourself despite the overbearing erosion of history? One possible answer is that influence is relative; while Ozymandias’ 

direct legacy is lost to time, his influence still exists through the actions of all who beheld him, the proverbial Ozymandiases becoming the Caesars and Napoleons that follow in their footsteps. Similarly, although Aeschylus’ Prometheia trilogy remains undiscovered, it still survives through its influence on the works of Sophocles and Euripides, and through their influence on Roman playwrights and their influence on Elizabethan playwrights and so on into contemporary writing. Another answer is that it doesn’t matter whether an artist maintains a legacy, that true artistic achievement comes not from one’s impact on others but rather from personal advancement and self expression. And even though Percy Shelley, despite his notoriety, was ultimately overshadowed by his more successful wife, Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, their association doesn’t negate the importance of his works, just as Horace Smith’s association with his more successful friend doesn’t negate his own personal achievements.


The last lines of Smith’s Ozymandias are as follows:


“We wonder,—and some Hunter may express

Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness

Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,

He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess

What powerful but unrecorded race

Once dwelt in that annihilated place.”


Although he may have become relatively obscure in the course of modern history, and just as the Shelleys may become relatively obscure in the centuries to follow, Smith makes one thing clear – at the end of the day, it won’t have mattered in the first place.


Please Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions by Julia Mennes

As we begin the final week before winter break, we are getting dangerously close to the season of New Year’s Resolutions. To put it simply, I find them useless and annoying. To me, they seem like a more socially acceptable way to brag about the goals you know you will never stick to. Resolutions make it seem like you are broken and need fixing, when in reality, you probably just want to better yourself.

Think back to your list of resolutions from last year (I know you had one). Did you seriously follow through on any of them? I definitely didn’t. In fact, I have a hard time even remembering my many ambitions for the year. If you can genuinely say you followed through on your resolutions, good for you! But, if you’re like most of us, you probably either gave up or forgot about it completely. Most of the time, people give up on their resolutions because they attempt to make too extreme of changes, and they get burnt out. This year, start small. Set mild goals that are actually achievable, and they just might make it past February! 

I do not say this to shame anyone, but instead to draw attention to the fact that setting unrealistic goals is not required just because the calendar tells us it’s a new year. I get it, “new year, new me” and all, but try to stay away from the shameful world of New Year’s resolutions. If you are determined to make changes in your life, turn your aspirations into goals with a specific plan. But whatever you do, don’t stress yourself out with a lengthy list of unrealistic resolutions. Your life does not need to be resolved! 

The Murderer and I: A Love Story by Maria Krouse

She was beautiful. Her eyes were dark and tantalizing. She had sharp inky leather boots and a yellow crochet tube dress. She had a mystique about her – a femme fatale aura leaving a trail of silky streamers when she walked. With legs stretching twice her torso and cheekbones jutting out like fangs, she could be on the cover of Vogue, or rather National Geographic. She was about the size of a coaster with eight legs, eight eyes, and looks that could kill.

 I met this majestic woman at the age of 5. I was forced into the painstaking voyage to visit cow country Iowa with my family. We visited some distant cousins who lived in a quaint creaky farmhouse surrounded by miles of corn. Nestled beneath the chipped windows and rotting siding were blooming flowers in deep magentas and pale ochres. But most importantly, stretched between two large sunflower stocks was an architectural masterpiece. In the center of the palace, constructed from satin strings and prismatic water droplets, lay the queen. She was the ruler of the thousands of millimeters of jutting pebbles and menacing garden gnomes. I watched her bask in her throne for a few moments and as I turned and I heard a soft pluck. I gawked in horror as she put a delicate monarch butterfly into a deadly chokehold. The silk that once represented beauty and elegance was now being used as a murder weapon. She slowly swaddled the paralyzed butterfly carefully and thoughtfully almost like a mother to a newborn. 

As I grew older I learned to love spiders.I would memorize their names, mannerisms, and eye patterns. Slowly, my fascination grew whenever I would hear a long sustained “Mariaaaaa,” or “You got to get Maria over here,” or the most common one, “Kill it!” I would come running. I would take my soft bare hands and gently coax the small arachnid into my palm. After the brief admiration, I would swiftly place the spider into a grassy bed. I became a protector of the spiders. I believe they are misunderstood. I think society’s collective fear and hatred of spiders is because they are so alien to us. Their strange and obscure traits aren’t something humans can identify with.

 I own two plots at the local community garden. Each year in mid-May, I am hacking, prodding, but most importantly, feeling the earth’s heartbeat when I dig into the soil. I smile at the slimy earthworms and iridescent spiders. I believe spiders can teach us about ourselves and how we can learn to accept each other’s differences. Amidst the chaos, it can take something just as simple as appreciating a spider to open up a new way of thinking.

The Great Debate by Vivian Bowling













I am not an incredibly passionate person. I am willing to hear out any beliefs and more than likely I will totally understand everyone’s perspective. I am definitely opinionated, I am not trying to argue that I’m not, but I am not very heartfelt about my opinions. I put on a good front, but I back down pretty easily when it comes to debates over beliefs. With that being said, there is one hill that I am absolutely willing to die on. It is the only opinion I am zealous and fiery about. I am willing to end relationships and begin long term arguments over this opinion. I honestly should stop calling it an opinion because as far as I’m concerned it is a fact. A true and strong fact and that fact is that Monday is the first day of the week. I am ready to present my case. Are you ready? Monday deserves to be the start of the week. It is a chaotic, restless, stressful and altogether awful day. Most people get through the day running on complete exhaustion, adrenaline or caffeine. The day is honestly a whirlwind of emotions for most. It deserves the place as first because as we all know, first is the worst. Sunday, on the other hand, is perfect. The day is restful and peaceful and truthfully just magical. It brings me joy and reminds me of the sun. It is a perfect way to end the week. It is like the cherry on top of the ice cream. The bow on top of the present. The pat on top of the head. Do you understand my argument? I rest my case. I’m not wrong and I am willing to argue this belief for the rest of my life.

Ponderings by Nora Konrad

Am I really in charge of my own life?

I better be. 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the trajectory of my life. 

Do I really want to go to college or am I just following the path that’s been laid out for me? At least in my experience, my experience of being a white IB student at Shaker, I think college is just assumed. And I believe the certainty of education is a good thing. Everyone should have the opportunity to be educated. I want to go to college. But I want it to be my choice. I don’t want to go to college just because that’s what’s expected of me. 

Recently I’ve realized how much of my life I have spent following other people and worrying about what other people thought of me. That’s not the person I want to be anymore. 

Maybe this is all just super existential, and proof that I am still living in my head. I don’t really know, but I thought it was worth sharing.

In Defense of Black Cats by Anna Welsh

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My parents got Zoe at a shelter about twenty-three years ago in Columbus, Ohio. She was a black kitten, with ears far too big for her scrawny body. It was during what they call, “kitten season,” when shelters are overwhelmed with stray felines and their children. Oftentimes, shelters are so overwhelmed that they have to resort to euthanization. Black cats are more likely to be euthanized than any other fur color. Zoe was only a few months old, and they were preparing to put her down. My parents adopted her in the nick of time, and she was with my family for twenty years. 

My mom often describes how disheartening it is to see shelters filled with unadopted black cats. Zoe was one of many black cats that people refused to adopt, and therefore the excess faced an unfortunate fate, a fate not unfamiliar to black cats in shelters everywhere. 

I’ve begun to think of myself as an advocate of sorts for black cats. There is a stigma surrounding the cats; that they are aggressive, or unlucky. Every year on Halloween we had to keep Zoe inside, for fear that she would be injured by some hostile pedestrians who prescribed themselves to the belief that black cats are unlucky, especially on Halloween. When my friends would come over, they would refuse to cross Zoe’s path, whining that it was unlucky. I don’t think it hurt Zoe’s feelings, but it certainly hurt mine. 

There is no valid reason that black cats should be associated with poor luck, evil omens, or witchcraft. As a cat-lover, I’ve decided that for the rest of my days, I’ll only adopt black cats. They deserve love just like any other animal, and shouldn’t be disregarded. Go, black cats! 

Bye Week Update and Game Prediction By: Will Welsh

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Recently, the Browns have struggled. They lost to the Ravens in a game where they handily won the turnover battle, beat the bottom feeding Lions by less than a touchdown, and fell to the Steelers at home in a low scoring affair. It seems like something hasn’t clicked over the last month, and the Browns are hoping to turn it around in December and make a final playoff push.

At the moment, the Browns sit at 6-6 and are in 4th place in the AFC North with a slight chance to make it into the playoffs as a wildcard. In order to make it into the last wildcard slot, the Browns will most likely need to win two out of their last three division games as well as their other non-division matchups. For the playoffs to be feasible, the Browns can only drop one more game down the stretch. Along with this feat, the Browns will need outside assistance and teams like the Steelers, Chargers, and Broncos will need to lose. 

While this seems nearly impossible, it is not entirely out of the question. Over the last month, excluding the loss to the Patriots, the Browns defense has let up 15, 10, and 16 points for an average of 13.7 points a game. This is less than two touchdowns (assuming the opposing kickers make their extra points)! As it gets colder, it seems as if the Browns defense has solidified, like water freezing into ice. This defense has the potential to propel the Browns to immediate success if the offense can convert. The recent offensive difficulties could be attributed to the controversy surrounding Odell Beckham Jr, the injury of Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb contracting COVID-19, Baker Mayfield’s various injuries, and the revolving door of offensive lineman. As the Browns heal on their bye and transition into the final stretch of the season, many of these problems have worked themselves out. Hunt and Chubb are back at full health and we may see some double back sets, Odell is completely out of the picture, Mayfield has had a full week to recuperate, and the offensive line is solidified (except for at right tackle). It is probable that a healthy, run-heavy Browns offense can propel the team to success on snowy Sundays for the next four weeks. This may be enough to secure the Browns’ second playoff berth in two years. 


Game Prediction: Browns v. Ravens @First Energy Stadium

I think the Browns will begin their valiant playoff push by beating the Ravens in front of a raucous home crowd. It is supposed to be chilly on Sunday and the Browns will use that to their advantage. Expect a heavy dose of run plays and play action with both Chubb and Hunt getting a high volume of touches. I also foresee the Browns attempting to convert some field-switching big plays. I expect a few deep shots to Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones. The defense will have another dominant performance with at least one interception and multiple sacks, at least one coming from league leader Myles Garrett. The Ravens will be competitive and probably stay within one score throughout, but the Browns prevail.


24-21, Browns

When Is Thanksgiving Break By Lizzy Huang

This week before break has probably been one of my worst weeks of the school year so far. I’m pretty sure I had about a maximum of a one-hour break each day before 9 PM, roughly five to six hours of sleep a night, and constant impulses to nap. With schoolwork, practicing, and after-school activities, my days have been long and tiring thus far, and my overall state of mind and body has been in a constant state of exhaustion.

With this being said, I am looking forward to Sunday, my first official day in a while where nothing happens. Absolutely nothing is planned for this day, and I am beyond excited. Sunday also marks the first official day of Thanksgiving break, which will be a good time for me to get grounded again, and allow my mind to return to a state of content and awareness.

As I trudge through this week of hardships, I think a lot about my break next week. I ask myself: what am I thankful for? What do I wish I could have more of, and what do I hate to lose? To what do I owe my life?

Every time I ask myself, my answer is always time.

I long for the days when I can just jump into my bed at the first second of a break and lay there for ten, twenty, thirty, forty, minutes. I dream of when I could spare time to play just thirty minutes of frisbee with my dog, Pepper, or when I could make bookmarks with my younger sister, Sara. I think back to the little slots in my day when I could get lost in a book, captivated in its world away from my present one. I ponder over the times conversing with my friends late at night, joking about the time one of us ran into a door. I imagine.

I also think about how my state of mind affects others. I know that I can be grouchier when I’m tired, and I can close off easily. I also know that I can’t spend much time with my elementary sister, who wants to have fun and find innovative things to do. I know that I can’t go on runs with my dog, who wants the interaction and who thrives on the exercise. I realize that the amount of things I have to do and the amount of time I have are simply not sustainable in the long-run.

But I know that it will be over soon, and that bursts of activities like this will come every once in a while. I know that I am strong enough to get through it, and that I have people in my life who can help me. I also know that there are hundreds of my peers who are going through a similar situation, if not a harder one, than I am.

And ultimately, I am thankful that there is time in the world for me to do the things I love, and for me to have times like these where I just need to focus and get through it. I am thankful for what I can learn from harder circumstances like these because they teach me to be strong.

I am thankful for time.