A Love Letter to PJ by Jakeia Banks

When I was a tween, I used to write letters of desperation to my future self. I’d hastily scribbled the magical words, “Dear Future Jakeia (FJ)…” and put pen to paper. Whatever problem the world was putting on my shoulders at that time came out in messy run-on sentences and crude language.
At 12, I was a flurry of contempt for my existence. Existentialism was my best friend and I was a massive overthinker. Every other day it was another crisis but now—five years later— I can confidently say that absolutely nothing has changed. I think it would be a joy for younger me to read these—even if it is literally impossible for a 12-year-old me to be proud of how much I’ve grown. So, without any adieu at all, here is my love letter to the very frightened, very amazing 12-year-old Jakeia Banks.

Dear PJ,
Right now, you’re probably still stuck in middle school wondering who the hell you are. You’re surrounded by a lot of people who you compare yourself to and you frequently cry over not amounting to the #1 spot in the class. Everyday you think the world is going to implode, explode, do a pirouette and fade out of existence if you don’t overwork and overbear yourself. You’re listless, thinking that the world is going to end if you get a single C. Your entire life is tied with school and you have a heavy heart putting on your blazer and tie every weekday. You think so many bad things about yourself and the psychological growing pains are simply kicking your ass.
It seems like nothing will ever change and that you’ll be stuck in the black hole of middle school forever. Same school, same people, same jokes that you laugh at while eating the same lunch.
But I am here to tell you, my dearest Jakeia, that the pain in your chest you think will never stop, will lessen. Great things will happen from sacrifices you never knew were possible and you’ll be happy for the process that leads to the eventual success you have always dreamt of.
You are so goddamn smart and beautiful. At this moment, you’re insecure. That’s normal. It’s fine. OK, cool, you’re a nerd and can’t maintain eye contact. Every 12 year old is like that. You read Eragon in one night and cried too many times over books, but that is what makes you the amazing pearl that you are.
And even when you lie awake at night, forgetting your worth and how indescribably talented you are, there will always be people who remind you of who you are. Things get better with time and work. You are a star. Don’t forget it, even if it gets really hard not to.
Love, with all the best wishes,
Future Jakeia <3

Sorry, I’m Talking About College Again by Anna Welsh

I am going to preface this blog with an apology. I know you all are tired of hearing about college. You can’t listen to a single word about college anymore. Me neither. So, I’m sorry that this dreaded topic is what I will be writing about. But alas, blogs are where I vent. So, naturally,  I will be venting. Buckle up, friends. 

December 15, 2022. The fateful day. The day that would change my life forever (not really but the whole college process is so melodramatic). The day I would get the decision from the college I have dreamed about since I was 5 years old. I applied on a whim, totally unconvinced that I had any chance of admission. I did it just so I could tell my kindergarten self that I went for it. That I wasn’t scared and I went for it. I was preparing myself for rejection, perhaps too much so. I was ready to be denied admission and move on to more realistic schools. I was nervous about the decision, not because I expected anything, but because I was afraid for the moment when my dream would be shut down for good. 

Status Update. I threw my phone across the room. No, no, no. There is no way that there is a decision there. But there is. Deep breath, Anna. Everything is fine. Everything is going to be fine…

The Yale Admissions Committee… has voted to defer your application. 

“HOLY SHIT!” Deferred? Deferred?! There was no way. No way that they thought I was strong enough for a second look. No way that they thought I might deserve to go to their school. I searched the letter again, looking for the words “rejected,” or “denied.” I couldn’t find them. I was over the moon. 

The excitement faltered when I began to inform people of my decision. There were echoes of repeated condolences: “oh, I am so sorry, Anna.” or “you could still get in!” Wait, what? Guys, this is a good thing. This is validating. This means all of the hard work I have done hasn’t gone unrecognized. It has gone sort of recognized! Yale thinks I am the type of friend who you invite to hang out with every once in a while. The type of friend who is kind of in the group, but kind of not. The friend that’s just happy to be there. Exactly right, Yale. I am extremely happy to be there! It does kind of suck that I’m not going to know the official answer until the spring. But, I can live with that. Wish me luck, everybody. 

GOOOOOOOAL!!! by El Szalay

I am absolutely, definitely, most certainly not a sports person. I wouldn’t even say I’m a soccer person. But god, I love the World Cup.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. But El, if you hate sports, why do you enjoy the World Cup? Simple. I think soccer is the perfect blend of entertaining and understandable. I understand the basics of baseball, but it’s extremely boring. Figure skating is amazing to watch, but watching Yuri!!! On Ice isn’t enough to make me understand the sport. When it comes to soccer, not only do I mostly understand the sport (I played until 4th grade– I’m basically an expert), but I also like the fast pace of the game. Plus, growing up with a German father, the World Cup is a huge deal in my house. We watch most of Germany and the USA’s games every year. We all went bonkers when Germany won in 2014 and nearly cried over whatever 2018 and 2022 were.

Because this is a World Cup year, I wanted to take the time to think about some of my best (and, in some cases, worst) memories related to the tournament.

The earliest World Cup I actually remember watching was 2014. If I’m being completely honest, however, I only remember the finals. The satisfaction that came with beating the host country 7-1 will never be topped. To all of my Brazilian friends who may be reading this, sorry not sorry. <3

Going into 2018’s World Cup, I was stoked. Not only did I think Germany was going to do well (oh, how naive I was), but I was going to be in Germany for most of it. I arrived in Goslar in time to go to a watch party outside of the Kaiserplatz and watch Germany face Sweden. They had already lost to Mexico a week or so earlier, so losing to Sweden would not only be embarrassing, but also meant Germany would be done for. The game was tied 1-1 at the end of the 90 minutes, and though a tie wouldn’t have been bad for Germany, a win was definitely better. Well, thank goodness overtime exists and Germany scored four minutes into it. Hope was back up. Germany was back in the game.

Final game of groups in 2018 rolled around while I was in Berlin. Germany would be taking on South Korea, and it seemed like there was a clear winner. I was at a Biergarten with my family to watch the game, and nearing the end of the 90 minutes, the game looked like it was going to be a 0-0 tie, meaning Germany would place third in the group. Not great, but better than last place! Unfortunately, South Korea scored not once, but twice in overtime. The entire room fell silent as everyone left. To quote Taylor Swift, “I’ve never heard silence quite this loud.”

One of the first games I watched in its entirety this year was the USA vs. England. I am by no means a proud American, but if there’s one thing I will never do as a citizen of the United States of America, it is admit defeat to the English. The game was a 0-0 tie, which means no defeat had to be admitted! And now that the English lost their quarterfinal to France, I don’t have to worry about the English winning anymore. Thank god.

This year, I hoped that maybe Germany would do at least a little bit better than whatever 2018 was. Because their first game was early in the morning over Thanksgiving break, I slept through it. I went downstairs around lunchtime to find my dad sulking in the kitchen. As it turned out, Germany had lost to Japan. As I put it, “if I had a nickel for every time Germany lost to an East Asian country that isn’t necessarily known for their soccer team during the groups stage of the World Cup, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot but it’s weird that it happened twice.”

Germany’s next game was against Spain. If Germany lost, they’d be out of the World Cup. Naturally, I was nervous. My faith was not very high after what happened with Japan. My dad and I turn on the TV to watch the game when we found ourselves in a pickle. FOX, the channel we’ve been watching the games on, were too busy broadcasting the Browns game. There was only one other channel we had access to that was showing the game: Telemundo, which is entirely in Spanish. No one in my family speaks Spanish. This was literally the only way to watch the game. I don’t typically listen to the commentary that closely, but it was noticeable when I suddenly can’t understand it. Near the end of the first half, Germany scored! My dad and I were so excited, but as we were celebrating, we were quickly interrupted by the goal being ruled offsides. The real kicker here (pun VERY much intended) is the fact the commentators were talking about the goal being offsides, but my dad and I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. We had no clue what was going on and spent the entirety of halftime scouring the internet trying to find out what happened. We felt better once we understood the call and it was really funny in hindsight, but it was very stressful in the moment. At least Germany tied the game before it ended.

Group E (Spain, Germany, Japan, and Costa Rica) in general was such a strange group this year. You mean to tell me that Japan was able to beat Germany, but not Costa Rica? Make it make sense. After Germany’s loss to Japan and tie with Spain, it all came down to their final game with Costa Rica. So long as Germany won the game like they were expected to, they would move on to the Round of 16. I couldn’t watch the whole game, so my friend (who doesn’t understand soccer at all) texted me live updates. It was an absolute roller coaster, but Germany pulled through and beat Costa Rica 4-2. Unfortunately for Germans everywhere, however, Japan beat Spain. This meant that Japan and Spain had the most points in the group and moved on, leaving Germany in the dust. I was VERY upset. Thankfully, now that the Round of 16 is over and both Japan and Spain lost their games, I can watch and laugh. Again, to quote Taylor Swift, “karma is my boyfriend.”

As of writing this, the World Cup is over. Argentina won the finals yesterday, but I can’t say I’m too thrilled about it. Out of the countries that made it to the semi-finals, I was really rooting for Morocco. They were the only team that made it to the semifinals that I was remotely interested, but at least the French didn’t win again (sorry French people). Honestly, I could write a whole separate blog about the final, but I don’t really feel like it. Oh well, maybe the Women’s World Cup next year will be less depressing.

My Struggle With Purpleitos by Evan Barragate

As the year starts to die, so does the late-autumn sunlight and any trace of warmth in the air. Tomorrow is the first day of winter. And with the change in season, most encounter the lightening of the skin, the darkening of the hair, and the reddening of the nose. People say that fall brings the most change in color, but I disagree; winter brings the most. But the most remarkable color-change that comes with the cold weather is not in my cheeks, nose, or hair –– but in my hands.

Yes, the change is in my hands. And it isn’t a minor change. When the sunlight and humidity fade and the air becomes cold, my hands turn purple. They don’t just look like they have been tinted purple –– but as if they have been dipped in paint. They look like the hands of Barney the purple dinosaur, but not in a cheerful, cartoonish way. They are the hands of Barney if he were killed and left to decay for years. This is no exaggeration, which the attached images will prove.

The photograph is one of many from an album in my phone dedicated to my hands. It depicts one of the worst instances of my purpleitos, which I call it for lack of a better name. This was from December 28, 2020: a cold time of year like the one approaching now. When people see photos like this, they tell me I should get my hands amputated. I would never resort to this, but I don’t disagree with the opinion that I ought to.

I know you might be thinking that this image has been obscured, maybe by me taking it in odd lighting. But here is a photo in which I compare my hands to another pair (a normal pair).

As you can see, it is all-too-real that my hands are all-too-purple. Yet this is not the only color that my hands take on, and winter is not the only season that changes them. In the summer (or any time I am too warm), my hands turn red. So at some times of the year, I am Barney the dinosaur (with a hint of Cookie-Monster blue), and at other times I am Elmo. Here are a couple of photos from July of 2021.

The second image above makes me reconsider my reluctance toward amputation.

The color of my hands corresponds with their temperature. So if they are purple, they are freezing. If they are red, they are piping hot. At times, some of my fingers are incredibly hot while others are freezing, which causes me to have some red fingers and some chalk-white ones. You can see this bizarre event below.

These photos and descriptions may horrify you, but they are a source of pride for me. My purpleitos is unique, and I would rather have horrifying hands that may indicate some sort of illness than boring hands.

The Feeling of Waiting by Jaimee Martin

Today is a special day for a lot of seniors. Our decisions for Restrictive Early Action and Early Decision to almost all the Ivys and top institutions we applied to are coming out only hours from now. It’s a strange feeling that is hard to describe unless (or until for some students) you experience it for yourself, but I’m going to try my best to put it into words. Here is what waiting for my school to choose me or not choose me feels like:

  1. I forget until I remember

It’s like a recurring thought that pops back into my head every few minutes, causing a wave of sickly adrenaline to race down my shoulders and body, that fades into emptiness after a few seconds. I don’t remember anything at all or I refocus on whatever I’m supposed to be doing in class, and then out of nowhere, it hits me again.

2. Checking the time to make sure it’s correct

What if it’s actually 8 p.m. and I just didn’t know it? I mean yes, I am at school at 1:30 in the afternoon, but it could all be a time warp and maybe my decision is waitin-

Umm….I got in.

Winner Winner Spaghetti Dinner By Claire Borden

As I am sure everyone is a little tired of hearing from the announcements, emails, signs, and huge poster in the eli gallery, YEH (Youth Ending Hunger) held our annual spaghetti dinner last night. After a two year hiatus due to covid, we were finally able to bring back this longstanding tradition and I am happy to report it was a resounding success! I never thought that so many people would drag themselves out of their houses on a cold Tuesday night to eat (let’s face it) school cafeteria food. But it seems our relentless advertising paid off, and people have a little more goodness in them than I thought, because we were able to make a total of about 1200 dollars including donations, which, excluding the money we paid for food, came out to be a profit of about 700 dollars!

I was so impressed and touched by the amount of volunteers and community members that showed up to help out. About 30 middle schoolers from the jazz band came with their families to play, and very talented members of the high school chamber orchestra volunteered as well. The Shaker Heights rotary club was there, and Dr. Glasner, along with so many of my classmates and teachers. The energy in the cafeteria was so positive and happily chaotic as community members enjoyed food, musicians played, and students rushed around serving food. It felt almost like magic to see everyone come together for a good cause, and to know that efforts will go directly towards helping people, although we are still voting on which organization to donate the proceeds to. Everyone in our club worked so hard to make the dinner a success, especially the other officers and our club advisors, and it was so gratifying to see everything pay off.

This event means a lot to me personally because it was one of the first YEH events that I volunteered at as a timid freshman who was new to Shaker and trying to get involved. Three years later as a senior and officer of the club, it feels very bittersweet and full circle to be hosting the same event for the second and last time when so much has changed.

I know this dinner will be a tradition for a long time to come, and hopefully I will be home for winter break in time next year to attend as an alumn.

A Brief Analysis of My Apple Music Wrapped by Elle O’Brien

It’s finally December; the holiday season is here, snow is coming, and most importantly, your Spotify Wrapped is out. Your Spotify wrapped tells you everything you already knew about yourself; but puts it in a format that’s bright and colorful, and it allows you to post it as an Instagram story. I love going through everyone’s Spotify Wrapped; it lets you see (or hear, rather) a side of someone that you might not normally. 

Unfortunately for me, I have Apple Music. In years past, I have lamented the release of Spotify Wrapped,because I didn’t have anything to show for my love of music. No one would ever know how many hours I listened to Hamilton alone in my room (in retrospect, maybe this is a good thing). But Tim Cook heard my prayers! This year, Apple Music finally rolled out Replay, which gives you your music stats for the year. So, here is a brief analysis of my results:


#1: Taylor Swift

Okay, I know that I said Wrapped tells you everything you already knew about yourself; but I did not know this about myself. Never would I have thought that I listened to Taylor Swift so much this year. I mean, I love Taylor Swift, but she’s definitely not the first thing I listen to most of the time. I quickly realized how I got this result: for probably 200 of the 365 nights of the past year, I have fallen asleep listening to Folklore. Why? I don’t know. It sort of just became routine. So, that took up a lot of my “listening” minutes. Anyways, congrats to Taylor for taking the top spot! I love Midnights, by the way.

#2: Harry Styles

If you know me, you know that this makes sense. Harry’s House is on repeat 24/7. 

#3: Simon and Garfunkel

Kind of a 180 from Harry Styles, but I also wasn’t surprised by this. When autumn arrives, Simon and Garfunkel call. I feel like “The Only Living Boy in New York” is the ultimate fall anthem. Some may say that this is grandpa music, but I don’t care.

#4: Bon Iver

Bon Iver is one of the newer artists on my list in terms of how long I’ve been listening to them. I knew a few of their songs but this year I really explored their music and loved it. “For Emma” is the best song ever. I still don’t know how to say Bon Iver unfortunately. 

#5: Brandi Carlile

I can’t say enough about Brandi Carlile. She is just the best. Sort of folk-y, sort of country-y, sort of rock-y. Whatever genre she falls into, you will find a song that you love. She’s just so cool. Everyone go listen to Brandi Carlile right now. 

Who were your favorite artists? Let me know in the comments because I actually care so much. 


Fine Dining at SHHS by Rafael Bonilha Van’t Hof


Five days a week I have to come to school, and by law, the school is required to provide a lunch for me. A lot of people think that the school does the bare minimum when they make the food, but I on the other hand find the food quite scrumptious. I could destroy at least 3 trays of food from the cafeteria any day of the week. I think that the school lunch deserves more praise than it gets because it kind of hits 5/5 days of the week. So I decided to share some of my favorite lunches that the school provided for me.


A Potato

Some of my favorite lunches were the ones where they just put a potato and a muffin and some protein. What makes this so good is what comes on the side. Every day they brought out the best sides, my personal favorite of which was the pulled pork. Also these were the only days that I have ever seen bacon in the school which is something.

The Mexican Bowl

This is something that I only started getting this year. One of the lines has been transformed into a build your own Mexican bowl and it is pretty good. My biggest complaint with this is that there isn’t enough food in the bowl ever. They only ever fill the bowl up half way and that is not nearly enough, I sit down and it is already gone. 🙁

The Burgoids 

Some days there just isn’t enough bun for all the burgers that need to be served that day, so the staff created the incredible burgoids. They cut the patty in half and they stick it in a hot dog bun. It doesn’t taste any different from a regular burger it is just goofy and I love it. I think I have only seen 3 total in all my time at the high school but that just makes it even more special.


The Mac’n’cheese

This is one of the all time best. Every time I see the mac I have to get it. Not only does the mac slap, but it has some of the best side pairings. Most of the time it gets paired with the pulled pork which is a goated side, but recently I got it with a slab of roast beef with was also a banger. It always brightens my day when I get to have some school mac.

The White “Sauce”

I like almost all of the food that they serve at SHHS, but there is one dish I can’t defend. Never get the pasta and white sauce, it tastes suspicious. In 2021 when they would serve pasta there were 2 options, you could get the watery red sauce with meatballs, or the white “sauce” with chicken. I passed on the white sauce a few times but I got too curious for my own good and tried it and I really shouldn’t have. The best way I can describe it is suspicious. It tasted like someone was trying to make fake cheese and they gave up after a bit. Stay away from this one.


The “Parmesan” Chicken Sandwich 

This lovely sandwich only showed up in the cafeteria once. I don’t remember much about it besides having the “Chicken Parmesan” label and very clearly not having any Parmesan cheese. It looked like the same cheese that is on all of the cheese burgers (and burgoids) at this school.

Meatball Pizza


This is another one of the one hit wonders at SHHS. I don’t have much to say about this one because it really isn’t that special. It’s not bad but it also isn’t better than the pizza they usually have in the cafeteria.

The Dining Room Table is the Better Place To Do Homework by Matilda Spadoni

I love my dining room table. We have mismatched chairs all around it. The end is always covered in miscellaneous papers, school supplies, and running clothes that I forgot to bring to school. Right now, as I write this blog, we have a Halloween candle that is still burning long past its life expectancy. There is a mason jar with an inch of water that will likely get thrown in with the dinner dishes. My mothers to-do list notebook and our vintage Scrabble Game that we play once a month are sitting by the game instructions to Sleeping Queens (actual game nowhere in sight). This dining room table is and always will be the better place to do homework.

The difference from the miscellaneous items on the dining room table, from the miscellaneous items on my desk is that my desk is much smaller, the room my desk is in is much smaller, and I hate doing work where I sleep. I like to sit at the dining room table overlooking my street through two big windows. Once I’ve set up my area, and began my work, felt super productive and crossed at least two things off of my to-do list, it’s usually time for dinner. And so, all of my stuff gets pushed to the side and we eat. Now it may seem that one would just assume I would start up again after I cleared the dishes. Wrong. This is when my lovely parents reside in the sun room to watch TV and make sure to tell me not to stay at the dining room table. 

This is the worst part of my nightly routine, but each night, I stay at the table just in case. But alas, my father’s philosophy of “you can’t do homework when we’re watching TV” always prevails. 

Maybe the “forbiddenness” of the table makes it more appealing, or maybe I am truly more productive there. I guess I’ll never know. What I do know is that I will take any opportunity to sit there whenever I can. Most weekend days I get to sit there all day. My parents are out of the house, it’s quiet, and I can work for hours. My school supplies slowly creep across the table. Things get pushed back as I neglect them, and new folders filled with undone work and lots of satisfying “to-do list crossing off” potential end up replacing their empty spots. If I was at my small upstairs desk, all of my stuff would end up on the floor next to me. Constantly bending down to get something out of a neglected binder disrupts my productivity prospects. It just isn’t the same!

Senioritis by Beckett Smith

I know, I know. It is way to early to already be done with high school. In my defense, though, I’ve been done since last June. I’ve already been admitted and committed to Kent State for like a whole month now. The fact that I have to wait seven more months before I can be done with all this is intolerable. So I’ve been distracting myself by doing anything but my schoolwork.

The number one thing I’ve been doing is anything related to college. Scholarship applications, dorm research, roommate searching, major research, CCP class registration for the spring. Am I going to bring my car? Will I keep my job? So many things to do and decisions to make (never mind that nothing needs to be finished before February). It gets me thinking about college, which distracts me from the fact that I have what feels like an eternity left. There are about a million things to do before I go to school next year, and I will finish them all before April at the rate I’m going.

I’ve also been planning for Christmas. I have a schedule for Christmas cookies. I’m forcing my cousins and siblings to family events, and pushing my mom to start scheduling all of our usual traditions. I even made my own Christmas playlist!

And finally, I’ve been playing video games so much, which, you know, not that unusual for me. I just finished playing AC Origins and I’m starting Valhalla. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Origins, and how fun Valhalla has turned out to be. I’ve also gotten really into the Sims again, go figure. Gotta live vicariously through simulated people when the monotony of your own life is getting to you.

The point of this is that senioritis is hitting me early and hitting me hard. I’m sure I’ll have to scramble to make it through the last half of this year without failing anything, but for now I’m happy with my simple distractions.