Timmy the Skeleton by Anna Welsh

It was a quiet morning in the Writing Center. I stumbled in alongside my brother, my jacket still on. My nose and cheeks were still rosy from the brisk outdoors.  Cool winter light filtered through the windows, brightening the faces of the interns. I sat at my table, preparing myself for the possible conferences ahead. I placed my pen by my right hand and my notebook by my left. Warm laughter and morning greetings echoed throughout the room. 

“Anna.” called my brother, Will, from the other side of the room. He had set up his supplies at his desk and was turning over a small, gelatinous shape in his hands. I squinted, trying to figure out what it was. It reminded me of the brightly colored sticky hands that I had used to receive at carnivals or as small prizes in eclectic arcades. “Catch,” finished Will, tossing the shape to me in a sharp overhand. It stuck to my hand, and I unclasped my fingers to study it. 

It was a small, sticky skeleton. Will had found him amongst his assorted bag of candy at his table. The skeleton was about an inch in length, and moldable beneath my soft touch. It was clear, and its skinny arms and legs were topped with balls for hands and feet. 

“Carrington,” I exclaimed, “look at this!” Carrington leaned over to examine the small skeleton. He looked up at her. I was almost sure I could see a twinkle of mischief in his hollow, rubbery eye sockets. 

“He’s very cute,” Carrington said, smiling down at the small skeleton. I vehemently agreed. The skeleton had some indescribable quality, some hidden magic beneath its stick surface. We named him Timmy, and dotingly allowed him to stick himself to any surface he so pleased. We passed him between tables.  Timmy stuck to Carrington’s travel mug, and slid down, doing awkward flips as he fell. I’m sure Timmy must have gotten tired from all of the socialization, but his bony smile never faltered. 

Timmy, our sweet skeleton son, quickly became dirty. We cared for him, peeling dust and other loose substances from between his ribs. Timmy glowed in the dark. We turned off all of the lights and passed around the glowing skeleton. We were so proud of our little boy. 

When we left the Writing Center that morning, we left Timmy behind. He sat in the utensil cup, lonely amongst the unmoving pens and pencils. He stayed there, waiting until night fell in the school. I imagine he climbed from the jar and scurried up the walls, sticking himself to the windows. Yet, in the morning he was where we left him. Who’s to say what Timmy does at night? It is impossible to know. He is the skeleton of the Writing Center, the spirit behind every conference that occurs. Timmy is always watching. 

They Really are Among Us: Aliens on Earth! By Will Welsh


Deep below the waves of the world’s oceans lie vast colonies of alien organisms. These otherworldly creatures thrive in inhospitable environments with near-freezing temperatures, intense pressure, and complete lack of sunlight. When trailblazing scientists first encountered these odd organisms, they described worms that bobbed in and out of tube-like structures, pale crabs with no eyes, and animals resembling floating flowers. It was like a description of an alien world straight out of a sci-fi novel. 

In 1977, when deep sea vents were first discovered, scientists were amazed to find life thousands of feet below the surface. They were even more surprised to discover that this life was “alien,” meaning that it depended on chemicals instead of sunlight for energy. This was totally unexpected because, at the time, it was believed that all life depended on the sun as its original energy source. All of the producers on the surface of Earth, from algae in the ocean to pine trees in the Rocky Mountains, use photosynthesis to convert sunlight into usable energy. These producers form the basis of every food pyramid on Earth and are the pillars of countless ecosystems. It rocked the scientific world when bacteria in the deep ocean were shown to be able to convert chemicals from the vents into usable energy. This process, named chemosynthesis, is a method of energy production completely independent of sunlight that allows entire ecosystems to develop in dark and inhospitable conditions. 

The discovery of chemosynthetic bacteria and the diverse ecosystems that they supported inspired the astronomical community as well as the biological community. Astronomers latched on to the idea that life could develop and thrive in the absence of sunlight. This realization has fueled intense research into planets and moons in our solar system that could harbor real extraterrestrial life similar to the “alien’ creatures living in the deepest depths of the ocean. 

I Dreaded That First Poem by Viv Bowling

Emily Dickinson daguerreotype portrait, showing the poet wearing a black dress and a ribbon on her neck

I hate Emily Dickinson. I consider myself a well versed scholar (okay maybe that gives myself too much credit) and I definitely really love to read but my God I can’t stand that woman. She is so depressing and literally all she does complain which to be fair is also all I do but hey, at least I only complain about her. She lived a privileged life in a wealthy family and was never forced to marry or do literally anything but all she does is moan about how hard and awful her life was when people had it way way worse. Her writing makes no sense. It’s like she hates me with those slant rhymes and her random dashes that aren’t grammatically correct but somehow got her pinned as one of the best poets of all time? She enrages me. I do worry that she had severe mental illnesses and needed proper assistance that wasn’t offered at that time but in that case she should not be idolized so much. She held far too many obsessions on people she barely knew and spent far too much time in isolation regretting that very above average childhood she had. If I could meet someone who was dead, I might pick her just so I could get all these insane questions answered. “Why do you refer to yourself as a gnome?” might be my first. “What were your religious beliefs?” might be my second. I know why she thought about death so much but I want to know why it was all she seemed to be able to write about. One of the questions would for sure be “why do you use so many dashes??? What do they mean? Why do you end the last stanza with them? Do you hate me?!” Those all feel very valid and important. She ruins my mood every time I think of her. She has three themes to all of her hundreds of poems. The most popular being death — literally half of them are about this. The rest are either about eternal suffering or her hate of things that make you happy. Who hates spring and bees and the color yellow and for what reason is there a piano in the woods? Whatever I have to move on now or her craziness will make me feel like I’m going insane. Maybe someone can relate to her and understand her brain but it’s certainly not me. I’m moving on to more joyful things in life. —

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Nora Konrad

Every episode of Buffy, ranked, in honor of its 20th anniversary - Vox

So I am currently watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And let me tell you– I am obsessed. Buffy is a vampire slayer who fights all the forces of evil with the help of her friends. It’s a coming of age show, where the viewers grow with Buffy as she enters adulthood. What’s so cool about this show is that it takes the trope of the little girl that is always killed in horror movies and turns her into a superhero. 

Buffy was one of the first shows of its time to blend genres. Its horror, its drama, its coming of age. It’s also a TV show of the ‘90s, and you’ll catch Buffy saying “the wiggins” all the time. Nevertheless, Buffy is still a show in which  teenagers, even today, can relate to. Sunnydale high school is planted right on top of the Hellmouth– and there are many metaphors to experiences in high school that feel like the end of the world. Except in Buffy, certain circumstances actually are the end of the world. 

The episodes of Buffy follow a formula: Buffy just living life, then introduce a vampire, demon, werewolf–you name it, and then Buffy and her friends must devise a plan to fight the monster, and all ends well. Most of the time. Over the course of a season, a powerful, never before seen force of evil challenges Buffy to the greatest fight she has ever faced. Even though there is definitely a formula to Buffy, it’s always comforting and always entertaining. The best thing about Buffy, I think, is the evolution of the characters. As a coming of age show, each character comes into their own: Willow, the shy, computer genius gains confidence and discovers her own power (no spoilers!), Xander learns to become more responsible, and even 40 year old librarian/Watcher Giles opens up into a music loving, father figure to Buffy. 

Buffy is not without flaws. There are few characters of color and some of the depictions of race make me cringe. Even a show that seems to be so feminist has moments of misogyny when male characters idolize and objectify the female characters. The show creator, Joss Whedon, is a man. I think a female showrunner would have been more appropriate for a show like Buffy. But maybe we will see a new version of Buffy. I heard that female television writer, Monica Owusu-Breen might be making a Buffy reboot. Then I checked her Imdb page, and sure enough I saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer listed under her name. Apparently she has no plans to replace the original characters, but instead plans to follow the journey of a new vampire slayer in a more diverse show. 

In Defense of the Weeknight Hang By Claire Borden

Getting through the week is hard, and I often find myself waking up with nothing to look forward to. This is why my friends and I have started a tradition that we like to call “the weeknight hang”. This entails getting together at someone’s house usually around seven or eight, and sometimes working on homework, but often just enjoying being together.

Some may ask, Claire, how do you fit this into your busy schedule? I would tell the naysayers that the weeknight hang is not only a delightful escape, but a lesson in time management. The promise of seeing my friends gives me an incentive to get my homework done ahead of time, and I plan things so that on days when I have sports, clubs, or music lessons I am already finished with my work by the time they are over. Of course, many nights I am just too busy, but I rarely go through a week without participating in at least one.  Chances are, by the time the final bell rings, someone has sent the fervent inquiry: “weeknight hang tonight?”. Recieving that text breathes life into my day, and forces me to actually be productive during study hall so that I don’t have to send the dreaded response “can’t, too much homework”.

My closest friends all attend different schools, so coming together during the week is essential to staying connected. We commiserate about school and life, and fill each other in on what we missed after being apart all day. In some ways its a remnant of elementary school, when we would go over to each other’s houses after school and stay until dinner. Sometime between then and now, this tradition died, as homework increased, and time grew scarcer, but I think it’s time the weeknight hang made it’s celebrated return. I will probably never again in my life have as few responsibilities as I do right now, and I intend to take full advantage. I understand that being able to take the time for a weeknight hang is a privilege. Many high school students have family responsibilities and financial burdens that make this luxury impossible, but I would urge anyone to adapt the idea of the weeknight hang to fit their schedule, even if this just means taking 15 minutes to call a friend or family member.

The weeknight hang provides a sense of control, and makes me feel like my time belongs to me, when so much of my routine is out of my hands. After a day filled with tasks that I don’t want to do, it feels therapeutic to be able to spend time doing something I enjoy, with people that I love.

Pinterest by Carrington Hughes

I am here today to rant and rave about my favorite app of all time: Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest, the app known for it’s almost cult-ish white suburban mom aesthetic and 100 easy to follow hard liquor recipes, it constantly amazes me with it’s duality. You may be wondering “Carrington, what does a young, smart, incredibly beautiful 17 year old girl like you even do on pinterest?” Well, no need to fret, I am here to describe my favorite Pinterest boards in scarily vivid detail.

Board #1: “Ahh”

“Ahh” Aka “depressed 13 year old” is one of my favorite boards of all time. It was the first board I ever created and it is filled with nearly 2 thousand pins of quotes and motivational sayings. It allows me to visually see my mental health evolution and reflect on how different my ideology is from 13 year old me. Needless to say, if you ever want to know what i’m thinking at any time, this is the board for you.


Board #2: “A LIVE LIVE LIVE”

This is my whole personality thrown into a collage. From my hobbies to the books i’m reading, it is my current life aesthetic. I have about 5 different versions of this board all from different times in my life. Sure, a lot of it is just about looking at pretty pictures, but these boards also allow me to feel secure in who I am and feel more confident in the things I like. In essence, it has helped me develop my sense of individuality.


Board #3: “Food and Drinks”

This board is only relevant when I am hungry. It has no deeper meaning. It is still my favorite board. Thank you.


Board #4: “As if”

For some reason I am OBSESSED with 50’s comic book style so I decided to make a whole pinterest board about it. It is purely for aesthetic and distracts me from the fact that I would have been brutally hate crimed if I was alive at this time. Nonetheless, it is an absolutely gorgeous board <3. (Yes, the name of the board is inspired from the 1995 film “clueless”…please ignore that.)


Board #5: “Living Lavish”

I have saved the best for last. This…THIS…is my dream life board. It has pictures of everywhere I want to go, everything I want to eat, all the clothes I want to wear. I am actively trying to make Board #2 look like this. I remind myself not to get caught up in expectation, so it is simply a motivation board. What do I do when I am having a mental breakdown from homework? Look at this board. What do I do when I didn’t get the scholarship I wanted? I look at this board. What do I do when my teacher takes 32894 years to fix my grade? I look at this board. It constantly reminds me of everything I am working for.

It’s My Birthday (the 17th One) by Jaimee Martin

VISION BOARDS — CANDICE DENNISYesterday I was 16, today, at 10:21 A.M., I am 17.

That’s right, it’s time for Dancing Queen and road trips to Virginia Beach, real college preparation, and learning how to spend money like an adult.

You see, 17 is truly the best age, there’s no contestor; There is no time in teenage years that captures the intersection of the opposite kinds of freedom offered by childhood versus adulthood better than 17. You have all the privileges of the 18 and older people, but none of the responsibility, and you have all the privileges of 4-year-olds, but the capability to actually do something with it. I can go out when I want, be with who I want, and yet not have to pay any bills or think about retirement. I can say I’m mature and ready for the world, but I can still act wildly irresponsible and play the “I’m just a kid” card – it’s beautiful.

17 is the year for living, a timed but endless, bucket list year in of itself because of its unmatched ‘sweet spot’ qualities, and I plan to live it as much as living will allow for. I want to be reckless while keeping my heart on the future, I want to make memories that will last me for the rest of my time into that future. Most of all, I want to just be, because that’s the ultimate part of living; I want to be here, be with people who I keep the closest, be in my own skin. (So thank you to 17 for giving me the time to experience it)

Yes, 17 does have its moments for the depressed teens too; We’re beginning the journey from packing bags to moving out, to maybe even living in a different country. It’s scary and sad, really sad, because as exciting as the ‘new chapter’ is, we’re all ultimately leaving the life we’ve known and people we’ve loved. The beauty of 17, though, is that the ‘living’ part outweighs it, and you can let the depression mix in organically in a way that makes time still feel safe.

All of this reminds me, for Christmas, my 5-year-old nephew, Henry, got me a trophy. It was made of wonderfully, intricately crafted plastic comprising a lovely, matriarchal woman with her arms spread to the heavens upon a blue base engraved with the words “Congrats on Adulting”. Least to say, it’s the best present I’ve ever received, and yes adulting is coming, a journey of its own I’m more excited than ever to eventually go on. But for now, I’m on the journey of 17 – the journey for living – and for now, to time, I give my gratitude more than ever.

Negative Capability New Year by Sonali Khatri

One day, during a 110 minute English class I became enlightened. Poetry has never meant much to me: a bunch of fancy words that I don’t understand organized into stanzas and iambs. This year, however, we’ve gone beyond the surface level and into the most minuscule details. The conversations I’ve had get so deep at times they give me a mini existential crisis.

The topic for this particular day was Keats and his negative capability. John Keats, a romantic poet, wrote in a letter to his brothers a couple centuries ago about negative capability: mans’ capability “of being in uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts without any irritable reaching after fact or reason”.

It was eye-opening because it reminded me of all my personal experiences in which I have felt uncomfortable with not knowing what the future will hold. Whether it be waiting for college decisions, anticipating a test grade, or making a risky decision it’s always been hard to step away from these sorts of situations with a level head. Keats would argue that this “up in the air-ness” adds to the charm of life.

If we knew everything about everything we wouldn’t be curious or have an imagination. Not knowing what your future will hold allows you to develop personal dreams and goals. Just as Keats believed that refraining from fact and reason allows beauty and art to manifest naturally, refraining from overthinking similarly allows life to take its course in the way it should.

So if you haven’t decided on a new years resolution just yet just jump on the negative capability bandwagon. Living with this philosophy in mind has already helped me on a daily basis. It’s about feeling comfortable in your decisions, remaining in the present, and normalizing the feeling of not always having a definitive answer. So if anyone is nosy and asks what you’re working on this year just say you’re strengthening your negative capability.

Disposables by Kian Baker

I love waiting for the envelope from Walgreens, anxious that my 24 pictures are going to be blurry or unrecognizable, and excited to finally see the little album I have been creating for months. My perspective on photography is that the quality of the image doesn’t matter, but the memory each photo holds does.

At the beginning of my junior year, my family decided to take a road trip to California to visit my mom’s extended family and make stops in Kansas and Colorado to visit my grandma and great aunt. I wasn’t too thrilled to be stuck in a car with my brother and parents for two weeks, but I didn’t have much of a choice.

Before we left, I had started experimenting with taking pictures on a disposable camera. I mainly photographed my family and friends, and only had one camera developed before we left for our trip. I found that when I took disposables, I didn’t care if I looked good, if the lighting was subpar, or if people were moving so much that they came out blurry in the photo. In fact, I started to love those things. I loved the idea of trying to capture hours of excitement into one frame, never wasting one of my 24 chances to click the shutter button, and not worrying about how pale the flash made me. I only cared about pinning the picture on my bulletin board and reliving the moment every time I saw it. So I decided to buy two cameras before leaving, 

At the beginning of our trip, I began to take pictures from the car. I photographed the different landscapes we traveled through, from deserts and cornfields to mountains and hills. Then, as we stopped throughout our trip, I began photographing my family, the places we walked to, and the different places we stayed. I even got a close-up of a squirrel while I was on a hike, and my brother holding a random bird that flew into his hand. As our trip came to an end, and my disposable cameras had zero exposures left to take, I was excited to see the final products of my excessive picture-taking, hoping they would all be clear and colorful.

After I finally got home and gave my camera to Walgreens, I waited an entire week for my photos to come back. When they finally came, they turned out better than I could have imagined. Each photo was clear and every exposure had a story, one that wasn’t told over and over again through endless photos on my phone, but one that was physical and had meaning to me. The road trip cemented my love for film photography and influenced me to buy a point-and-shoot film camera, allowing me to buy cheaper rolls of film and capture even more moments in the future. 

I don’t know if I will ever stop taking pictures, even if that means using my phone in the future, but film cameras have opened my eyes to what photography is all about. No matter how pale I look, how red the glare in everyone’s eyes is, or how blurry their faces are, I think each photo is perfect, and hopefully, in the future, the photos I took will tell those stories all over again. 

Semester One: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Ella Szalay

After a whole year of learning at home, I found my way back into the halls of Shaker Heights High School this past August for the start of my junior year. Now, here I am, four-ish months later, and I’ve official made it through my first in-person semester of high school since I was freshman. And my goodness, what a semester it’s been. I can’t really think of a good word to describe it because I have several mixed feelings about it. Instead, maybe it’d be easier to reflect on this semester by recalling some of the good, the bad, and the ugly parts.

The good:

  1. Of course, the Shaker Writing Center. Every odd day, when I remember that I have the writing center that day, my day instantly gets better. My confidence in my writing has continued to get better this year, as it did last year thanks to the people who I work with in conferences.
  2. Cyrano de Bergerac. I missed performing live on stage so much during the pandemic, and the cast of Shaker’s fall production of Cyrano made my first live show since COVID hit back in 2020 so memorable. Despite the fact that I cooked alive in my floor-length dress, performing in school for my grade was so fun. I’ve never been able to go to the in-school previews of the fall play, and I’m so glad that the first time I did, I got shoved off stage with a bunch of pastries and poetry in hand while my English class sat front and center.
  3. Marching band. Because I am an upperclassmen, and also because we didn’t have a season last year, it was partially on me to help not just the freshman, but also the sophomores learn how to march this season. They learned very quickly and made this fall’s season so exciting. Can’t wait for the next one (especially since my younger brother will be joining the band as a freshman next year)!

The bad:

  1. Readjusting. Going back to in-person school after a year of online is easier said than done. I had a hard time paying attention to a Google Meet last year (especially with the long periods), so I often made friendship bracelets or colored in a coloring book while listening to my teachers online to help prevent myself from going crazy. Unfortunately, I can’t do that during in-person classes, so relearning how to pay attention in class has been a struggle, and I’m still not quite there.
  2. Even days. My odd day schedules are so nice, but that also comes at the cost of my even day schedule. While my odd days have band, stagecraft, writing center, and Asian studies, that means I have all my most stressful classes jammed into one day. My even schedule goes from pre-AP German to English, pre-calculus, and astronomy. I don’t really dislike these classes, but having all of them on the same day is extremely overwhelming at times.
  3. Migraines. I haven’t had many this school year, but the big one I had was terrible. It was the end of October, and I got what was easily the worst migraine I’ve ever had. It lasted three days (Wednesday-Friday of that week), and the worst part about the whole thing was that I really should’ve gone home and rested, but I didn’t because I was scared of missing too much work. If there’s one thing I learned from that time, it’s that I shouldn’t do that.

And lastly, the ugly:

  1. The fire alarms. I think we can all agree that being in and out of the building four times in one day gets exhausting after a few weeks. Picking up all my stuff knowing that there’s no actual fire in the building and someone just really wants to get out of class (and for some reason, it was always during my favorite classes) got old very fast. Thankfully, we seem to have moved past this era, and now we’re all experts at evacuating the building in case of a real fire.
  2. The PSAT. I didn’t plan on taking the PSAT this October, but it seemed the school had other plans. Personally, I didn’t care much about how I did, but I wanted to at least see how I did since I went through the effort of taking it. However, the day they were meant to come out, no one in Shaker could see their scores. As of now, they are still unavailable. To me, this is just a minor inconvenience, but to others, not having their scores has been extremely stressful.
  3. And of course, COVID. I’m currently writing this on December 17, the last day of the semester, from my desk at home because of the seventy-four new cases of COVID in the high school alone. Seventy. Four. My eighth-grade brother and I decided to stay home today out of concern for our safety, and I know many other students and parents had the same idea.

All that said, my first semester of junior year was crazy, both in a good and bad way. I’m sure many other students feel the same about this semester, and I’m hoping that next semester starts feeling more natural, like how everything felt before the pandemic.