18 by Mia Compton-Engle












Adulthood. A thought so terrifying I can’t even begin to articulate my insecurity, let alone anticipate the implications of this integral transformation. Or, perhaps, worse – realize the resounding nothingness that will become of me when, on February 28, I join the likes of One Direction and embrace the loveliness of this eighteenth year. In the meantime, I can only reminisce about the sweeter simplicity of my childhood. In particular, I mourn the loss of:

  1. Leap day magic – lost and found around the world
  2. Imagination – make-believe songs, dances, and plays
  3. Creativity – writing and drawing to express (escape) myself
  4. Idle domesticity – warm gingersnaps, reading, daydreaming
  5. Daisy and Sparkle – fuzzy shadows
  6. Roots – growing support system of family and friends
  7. Neighborhood community – wandering aimlessly, worms squirming on rainy roads
  8. Shaker Heights – golden glow, passing time
  9. Learning – mind stretching, flexing, decompressing
  10. Devious escapades – *giggle giggle* within the sphere of safety
  11. Blissful ignorance – comfortable circumference, feathered hope
  12. Sweet tunes – any moment becomes transcendent
  13. Outdoors adventures – exploring and expanding
  14. Running – when my soul would sing
  15. Falling in love with my surroundings
  16. Companionable silence – casual intimacy, thoughts shared yet unspoken
  17. Coming-of-age angst – existential crises and whatnot
  18. An ordinary day – blurry snapshots of falling with the sun-speckled snow, connecting with others, Felice mac & cheese in a faded room, chasing sunset and stars along the lakeshore, and surrendering to sleep

Yet there need not be such growing pains. I am the same me, albeit (I should hope) a little bit older and wiser, and though soon I will be an adult, I intend to cherish the world with childlike wonder still. And someday, I will reflect upon my eighteenth year with the very adolescent nostalgia I experience now. 

Olympic Figure Skating Drama by Julia Mennes


There’s no doubt this event was surrounded by drama and tears, but what actually went down? 

Let’s start before the Olympic Games even began. Advancements made by Russian figure skaters have changed the face of the sport forever. The women’s “quad revolution” began when young Russian women started landing the extremely difficult jumps in competition, putting them head and shoulders above the U.S. women. Names like Yulia Lipnitskaya, Alina Zagitova, and Evgenia Medvedeva (all coached by Eteri Tutberidze) became widely recognized as they each won numerous international titles. Now, most of them have retired from competitions and a new generation of young figure skaters dominate the world stage. 

Also under the training of Eteri Tutberidze, Alexandra “Sascha” Trusova, Anna Shcherbakova, and Kamila Valieva made their way to Beijing for the Olympics after placing well at the Russian nationals and the European Championships. Then, just days before the women’s free-skate competition, everything changed. 

Word got out that 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, who got first place in the team event, tested positive for a banned substance back in December. The medal ceremony was postponed by the IOC as the Court of Arbitration for Sports decided if she could continue competing. As a minor, she is a “protected person”, and it was decided that she would be allowed to compete. Valieva ended in first place after the women’s short program, followed closely by her teammate Anna Shcherbakova. 

The controversy around the doping scandal continued for days as the women went into the freeskate event. Shcherbakova skated her routine perfectly and took first place. Trusova secured a second place spot after landing a world record of five quad jumps. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto also executed an impressive routine, earning the bronze medal. Valieva’s performance included surprising stumbles and falls, moving her down to 4th place. 

Moments after stepping off the ice, Tutberidze (her coach) said, “Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting?”. Both frustrated with their performances and results, Valieva and Trusova broke down in tears after the competition concluded. Trusova, upset that she finished second, claimed that she was “the only one” without a gold medal. Meanwhile, Shcherbakova, who had just won the gold medal, stood alone as the rest of the ROC team comforted her teammates. 

I hope to never see an event like this again. First of all, Valieva should not have been allowed to compete after testing positive for a banned substance. The decision only shows the history of Russian cheating and why there is an ROC in the first place. Anna Shcherbakova appeared as the saddest gold medalist ever, quietly sitting alone for several minutes. Trusova’s meltdown was a display of pure unsportsmanlike conduct as she had to be convinced to even stand on the podium. However, none of them can be blamed. All of these girls face enormous pressures, as they have been exploited for results practically since they learned to walk. They endure terrible injuries, stress, eating disorders, and abuse, for what? So they can retire at 17? I hope Eteri Tutberidze’s coaching is investigated and suspended. There must be an end to this cycle of abuse. 

Stranger Things 4 Ready by Nora Konrad

So who is ready for Stranger Things 4?

Last week, Stranger Things confirmed that its new season will be released this summer in two parts: the first half will be released on May 27 and the second part on July 1. 

Ok, so, Joyce, Will, Jonathan, and Eleven are in California?! WHAT?! I was absolutely shocked by Eleven’s new hair– she’s obviously becoming a little Joyce. Which probably means something about her identity. In season two, we saw her morph into a Hopper, then “Bitchin” Eleven when she went to Chicago, and discover her own style in season three. I think Eleven’s identity is definitely tied to how she presents herself through clothing and hair.  

We need to talk about this poster. There are clearly four parts. Each individual part was posted separately on the Stranger Things instagram page, so clearly there are four significant storylines in season four. The first being Hopper, Joyce, and Murray in snowy Russia. At the end of season three, Hopper disappeared. A teaser, released like two years ago, showed Hopper working in a labor camp in the Soviet Union. So at least we know he’s alive. But there’s no way they would have killed off Hopper. I also think this will be the season where Hopper and Joyce finally get together. The second poster shows Eleven in Hawkins lab. In one of the doorways there is a broken mirror reflecting young, season 1 Eleven. The third poster is of the Hawkins gang in the Creel House. The Creel House is a new storyline and setting. One of the major hints in the teaser was an old grandfather clock. I don’t have too many theories about what this means yet, maybe something has been lurking in Hawkins. And the last poster is of the California brochachos. In the background of every poster the Upside down is clearly seen. When every poster is put together it looks like all the characters are walking to the same place. By the end of the season, all the storylines will connect and come together. How that will happen, we’ll have to see. 

The words–Every End Has a Beginning– is shown on each poster, signifying that the show is nearing its end. The creators of Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers, have confirmed that season five will be the last season of Stranger Things. It feels bittersweet, because on the one hand I don’t want one of my favorite shows to end. I’ve been watching with my dad since I was twelve. As my younger sisters have gotten older, they have also joined in. When I spent the summer in Germany, my sister waited a month until I got home in August to watch Stranger Things 3 with me. But on the other hand, I don’t want the show to go too long and stop being good (ahem Grey’s Anatomy). 

Since it’s been nearly three years since the third season of Stranger Things was released, I have very high expectations. I think the main reason for the wait was the delay from the pandemic. Stranger Things four began filming in the beginning of 2020. But once the pandemic hit, the show had to shut down production for a couple of months. I read somewhere that the Duffer Brothers utilized the time in quarantine to finish writing all the season four scripts before they went back to filming. The Duffer Brothers have also mentioned that the fourth season is the most ambitious season yet, because filming locations spanned across the world. The production was filmed in Lithuania, Atlanta, and New Mexico. Any filmmaker knows that the more locations you add to a project, the more complicated the project becomes.  Usually, Stranger Things is released all at once, which means that all the episodes have to be completely edited and finished by the time the show is released. Most shows released on TV premiere weekly, so filming and editing can be spread out more. The teaser for season four says that the season takes place during Spring Break in 1986. I think the season would have been released during the spring, but since production went long they had to push back the release date. Also since the fourth season will be released in two volumes, the show will have extra time to finish up the last episodes even when the first half of the season is already released. I think the wait will be worth it.

Nǐ hǎo by Vivian Bowling

你好!我叫 Vivian. 我一直在学习汉字. 我很高兴, 你呢? 今天星期三. 在我中文课上我正在学习电话号码. 我是美国人.我不是澳大利亚人. 我十七岁. 我有一个哥哥 他二十岁.  我今天工作. 我的工作是餐厅.它在杂货店前面. 中文很难. 


Nǐ hǎo! Wǒ jiào Vivian. Wǒ yīzhí zài xuéxí hànzì. Wǒ hěn gāoxìng, nǐ ne? Jīntiān xīngqísān. Zài wǒ zhōngwén kè shàng wǒ zhèngzài xuéxí diànhuà hàomǎ. Wǒ shì měiguó rén. Wǒ bùshì àodàlìyǎ rén. Wǒ shíqī suì. Wǒ yǒu yīgè gēgē tā èrshí suì.  Wǒ jīntiān gōngzuò. Wǒ de gōngzuò shì cāntīng. Tā zài záhuò diàn qiánmiàn. Zhōngwén hěn nán.


Hi, my name is Vivian. I am learning Chinese characters. I am happy, how about you? Today is Wednesday. In my chinese class I am learning phone numbers. I am american. I am not australian. I am 17. I have an older brother and he is 20. I work today. My work at a restaurant. My work is in front if a grocery store. Chinese is hard. 

Nature in Your Backyard by Will Welsh

This time of year, when the snow is melting and winter is slowly turning into spring, I find myself wanting to get outside. After months cooped up in the house, I start to go stir crazy. If you’re like me and you have to get outside, there are tons of fantastic parks and reservations nearby where you can get your fix. No matter what you like to do outdoors, there’s a place nearby where you can do it!

We are incredibly lucky to have an abundance of green space in Shaker Heights. Within walking distance of the high school, you can romp through Southerly Park, take a stroll on the boardwalk at the Nature Center, or go bird watching at Horseshoe Lake. These places are all easily accessible with paved trails and bridges over streams. They also have their fair share of unpaved trails and bike paths. The Nature Center is an especially good resource due to its facilities and social events. It offers a newly renovated boardwalk over a marsh, gift shop, and information desk. Along with all these amenities, the Nature Center also coordinates volunteer work for those that are interested. 

A little past the Nature Center are Lower Lake and Roxboro woods. Lower Lake is a fantastic place to walk, bike or run with paved and unpaved trails and the lake is beautiful at sunset. The woods surrounding the Doan Brook by Roxboro Middle School in Cleveland Heights are another fun place to explore. There are steep and rocky hiking paths coupled with fast running sections of the creek and a picturesque waterfall. 

Apart from local parks, Bedford, Euclid Creek, and North Chagrin Reservations offer recreational opportunities nearby. These places offer golf, fishing, horseback riding, biking, hiking, and more. Plus, all of these places are less than a 30 minute drive away!

Next time you want to lace up those boots and head outside, don’t fret, you have plenty of opportunities nearby. They’re practically in your backyard!

Sentimentality by Jaimee Martin

How to Win at Decluttering Sentimental Items Without Feeling Guilty

“I am a sentimental man,” Joel Gray sings exuberantly from the Gershwin theater stage, which resides in the middle of the Broadway theater district. I feel every bit of his emotional attachment to Oz, being its wizard and all, when I look around the private, internalized space of my bedroom. Now, I’m not the main protagonist in one of Broadway’s greatest musicals of all time, Wicked, but I do have a strong attachment to, well….things. By no means am I a hoarder, but I am, as Joel Gray says, a sentimental man.

If it’s a text you sent me, I’m never going to delete it. If it’s a song I added to my library when I was ten, it’s always gonna have some space in my musical repertoire. Even if it’s a note you passed me on the bus in middle school, it’s going to travel with me to college.

The deeper layer, though, is that I save people and moments and feelings. I store them away in figurative pockets inside my mind and heart; When I feel sad or anxious to the point of disconnection, they remind me of the small things. Texts, songs, and notes themselves always matter to me because, well, I always find value in everything and everyone – no matter what or who it is or even what connection exists. When I read that text or note, listen to that song, or remember that moment we shared together it warms my heart with this sort of intrinsic happiness that makes the small things, experiences, or whatever, a part of me.

This feeling is no greater than when I’m in my room, surrounded by a hundred different ‘objects’ that feel so deeply intertwined with my identity. Each sticker on my mirror, each book on my shelves, each knick-knack or vacation souvenir hanging up – they all remind me of me and my life. I can’t list all of them, that would take a very long time, considering the infinite layers I somehow find in each thing, but here are a few that will forever be especially important.

  1. My ‘642 Things to Write About‘ book

Today, I’m not really sure where I got this book – maybe from Target. I just know that when my mom presented it to me I was instantly ignited with my innate desire to write. As a preteen, I spent a year filling every page of the book with prompts ranging from how I would commit the perfect murder to what meeting the one would look like. It was heaven then just as much as it’s heaven now. When I sit in my bed now and flip through the pages I never fail to smile as I take in the wonders of my twelve-year-old mind, feeling both the appreciation of me then and knowing that it’s still me now. It makes me giggle to myself when I see the way I purposefully changed my handwriting to seem more sophisticated and artistic. The stories are hers but they’re mine and perhaps it’s that duality that makes me love this book so much.

2. My pressed white roses

My sixteenth birthday fell in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic – not the ‘sweet sixteen’ I had planned. While it was objectively disappointing, I truly don’t look back on it with any sadness; I loved turning sixteen and I loved celebrating with the two people I was closest with. My favorite gift, though, was this bouquet of white roses my ex-boyfriend bought for me. Again, it really wasn’t special, considering white roses aren’t even my favorite flower, but what I made from it was and is special to me. I spent weeks after my birthday, once the majority of the roses had died, pressing the two I liked the most between the pages of my unused AP Biology textbook. It was a delicate process in which I spent lots of parchment paper, turning the flowers but most of all, waiting. When they were finally dried I framed them against a piece of burlap in a glass-backed frame with stressed white edges. The brownish white, bohemian-looking flowers sit on one of my bookshelves, and every time I look at them I remember not only that birthday but the relationships and memories attached.

3. My Pink Menchie’s Spoon

Before I lived here, I lived in Nebraska, and before I lived there I lived in Utah with my mom. It seems like another world now, but one of our favorite ways to spend time together was to go see a movie and get Menchie’s frozen yogurt after. In the two and half years I lived there I had saved spoons in each of the colors offered at the fro-yo shop, that until I decided to move out, were mixed in with the rest of the silverware drawer – I used them daily. When I packed my life into two suitcases and a backpack to start anew under my sister’s guardianship, my pink Menchie’s spoon, the only one clean at the time was shoved in. It resides on an identical shelf next to the pressed roses, and each time I look at it I remember the journeys I’ve had. I remember all the times I went to that mediocre dessert shop just for the fun of it. I remember the complexities of my relationship with my mom and I remember eating airport ice cream with it while I was waiting for the connecting flight to my sister’s house.

Cruncher by Sonali Khatri

My grandpa has always spoiled me and my siblings. Weeks before Christmas or my birthday he would already be asking us about gifts. 

One day he came home with a big bag. I knew it was gonna be good. He asked us to come over and handed my sisters and me three dolls. My sisters squealed in excitement while I screamed in terror. They got the normal plastic-head cloth-body baby dolls, and you know what I got? A ripoff raggedy Anne (even scarier than the OG). I threw her against the wall and ran away imagining her beady button eyes following me. My brother eagerly picked her up and made her his own, naming her “Button Budi” (which translates to button old lady).

My grandpa consoled me, as I told him that I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings and that I was just scared. He completely understood, of course, because he was always a sucker for our tears and promised to take me to Target the next day.

I scanned the toy aisles skipping the barbies and dolls and going straight to the “boys” section. And then I saw him … Cruncher. He was a robotic rubbery dinosaur who could talk, fart, chase, and bite. I was in love. My grandpa asked hesitantly “Are you sure?” He urged me to put it down even more after seeing the price tag, but I just couldn’t. I walked out of Target with that euphoric new toy feeling.

I took him home, my dad popped in some double-a’s, and just like magic Cruncher came to life. As soon as I put him on the ground he started whirring and chomping and the chase began. I let out the loudest scream imaginable while my family looked at me in disbelief. I never made the most rational toy decisions.

After our first fight, I decided to make amends with Cruncher. I got a wicker basket, put blankets in it, and tucked him in. I placed his dino-bed next to my own.

The next morning I realized I had gotten over my fear of him. I took him everywhere. We were practically inseparable.

Years later as I look back on the purchase I made when I was five, I wonder what happened to him. Did my parents get sick of the growls and farts? Did I lose him? or Did I just grow out of him? I guess it’s a mystery. All I know is that I loved him and that he’ll always have a special place in my heart.

This blog is dedicated to Ruby Cover, one of my dedicated readers.

Yellow SpongeBob CD Player by Kian Baker

When I was in Kindergarten, my parents would frequently go out on the weekends. Either on dates or just spending time together, it never mattered much to me. In fact, I looked forward to these nights, because I got to spend time with one of the best babysitters ever. Her name was Katy, and she was amazing at burning CDs. While we watched TV together, she would pull out her chunky early 2000s MacBook, and we would scroll through YouTube, scouring the internet for the newest Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, and Owl City songs that I could download onto my green iPod Shuffle. 

However, one day, while I was playing with my Zuzu pets and Katy was probably doing homework or something more important than listening to Nicki Minaj with a 6-year-old, I got bored and started looking through the cabinets in our living room. During my unwarranted search, I found a stack of fresh unburned CDs and screamed with excitement. Running over in fear I had wandered off and broken something, Katy asked me what was wrong, and I presented her with my treasures. All that afternoon we were picking out songs on Youtube and making playlists on iTunes to burn onto my CDs. When each CD was fresh out of her laptop she would write a title for each playlist, then insert it into a little mesh booklet for safekeeping.

The next day, after Katy had left and I had my CDs packed up and ready to be played, I went into my closet and pulled out my most prized possession. A yellow SpongeBob CD player. All that day I was blasting Magic by B.O.B. and dancing so aggressively in my room that I was making our dining room chandelier shake. Even though my mom and my brother yelled at me on a few separate occasions that day and my brother started blasting that Eminem song talking about spaghetti to get back at me, I didn’t care. All I needed was my yellow SpongeBob CD player, and that’s what made me happy.

The next weekend came fast and I was looking forward to sharing my new musical discoveries with my cousin Lauren, who shared the same love for making up dance routines and singing so bad we scared my dog. When she arrived, I showed her my prized possession and we flipped through my CD book deciding on Katy Perry, more specifically, the song Last Friday Night. Although my CD player was in my room, we had the brilliant idea to go to the living room where there was way more space to dance. We blasted our music while practicing our worm, moonwalk, and spins until we got so dizzy we wanted to throw up, but we just kept on dancing… until my brother came to ruin our party. 

Once my brother, Aidan, and my cousin, Logan, arrived inside from playing basketball and we knew there was a battle ahead. Aidan came running into the room, shocked and jealous of our amazing dance moves and singing capabilities, started screaming like a donkey. Then, unbeknownst to me, he said he hated Katy Perry. I was furious. Once I thought it couldn’t get any worse, he raised his wretched velcro tennis shoe and stomped on my SpongeBob CD player until it made shrill ear-piercing noises and finally went silent. He destroyed it. My most prized possession. I was crying. Lauren was crying. Logan was shocked. Aidan had a sinister grin on his face. It was horrible. I will never forget this defining moment in my childhood and although Aidan has since apologized, he still owes me a SpongeBob CD player. Rest in peace.

Jinx! by Evan Barragate

There are many arguments for what ought to be considered the most powerful force in the universe. According to scientists, the most powerful force in the universe is strong nuclear interaction––whatever that means. According to romantic or sentimental films, the most powerful force is love. According to legal professionals, the most powerful force is the will of the people and the word of law. But the truth is that none of these forces is even remotely close to the most powerful.

In reality, nothing on this planet holds more authority than whether I say something will or will not happen. At first glance, this statement does not make any sense, but I have numerous examples to explain it. A prime example is this past weekend. Schools closed across the county due to snowstorms, and surprisingly, Shaker Heights High School was one of them. The common assumption is that this was due to the combination of low temperatures, a storm, and our proximity to a Great Lake. Another assumption is that Shaker closed because the school board, principal, or whoever is in charge of that decision voted in favor of canceling classes on sight. My belief is that school closed solely because of my verbal declaration that it would remain open.

In this case, it was not science or decisions by those in power that led to the snow days. Also, the threat to these potential snow days was not the possibility of insufficient snow, nor was it the chance that leaders might vote against closing down the school. The only true threat to these snow days was other students who recklessly claimed that school would be canceled before it happened. However, my dedication to pessimistically claiming that what I hoped would happen never would overpower this inconsiderate, dangerous optimism. This proves that the power of jinxing something is truly unbeatable.

But this is not the only instance that something like this happened. Back in 2020, my preferred presidential candidate won the election, not because of public opinion, but because I decided to be negative and declare he would lose. And in 2016, the opposite occurred when my preferred candidate lost because I was certain she would win. I see this as a lesson for everyone to not only please myself and other superstitious people but to please everyone.So next time there is a chance at having a snow day or some other possible event that we can all agree is desirable, do not try to maintain your stupid optimism and jinx it. It is not just naive, but to me, it is rude. I firmly believe that the power of the jinx and reverse jinx is a force far mightier than nature, compassion, a vote, or whatever strong nuclear interaction is.

Snow Days by El Szalay

3,259 Snowed In Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStockIf there’s one thing that all students and teachers can agree on, it’s that waking up to find out that school has been canceled due to two feet of snow or a temperature in the negatives is one of the best feelings in the world. What you thought was going to be another day of classes that you didn’t really want to go to ends up being a day you binge a new Netflix show, make an impromptu batch of cookies, take a nice long nap, or some weird combination of all of those.

All that said, I actually don’t like snow. I wouldn’t go as far to say I hate it, but if I wake up and see more than a light dusting, I know I’m staying inside as much as I can that day. The cold gets unbearable after five minutes, my clothes get wet as I trek through the snow, and the slush in the roads is absolutely disgusting. I like to say an excessive amount of it are pointless unless it gets us off school for the day.

I think this logic also applies to extremely low temperatures as well. What’s the point of a temperature below 15 degrees? At least with snow you can argue that it’s good for sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and other snow-related activities. But what good does the cold do? If anything, it makes it even harder than it already is to go do something fun outside on a snow day. If you can’t go outside for ten minutes without getting frostbite, then you can’t even enjoy the snow.

So, you might be wondering what I do with my snow days if I can’t stand the idea of going outside. Truth be told, I don’t think anything I do with my day is super exciting, it’s just the fact that I’m doing something else instead of being bored to death in my classes that makes a snow day so exciting. If you really want to know how I spend my time (or want some ideas of indoor things to do if we ever get a snow day), then here’s a few things I can remember doing in past years.

  1. Binge a TV show.
  2. Bake something. Bonus points for eating cookies pretty much as soon as they come out of the oven.
  3. Make hot chocolate. And make sure to use milk instead of water.
  4. Pester your pets with attention until they decide they’ve had enough and walk away.
  5. Play games with your family. Video game, board games, card games, or all three if you’re up to it.
  6. Clean your room.
  7. Make friendship bracelets and give them to people once you can leave the house again.
  8. Paint your nails. If you’re me, this means removing the old coat of black nail polish and replacing it with another, less chipped one. I’m not the most creative with my nails.
  9. Call your friends. In my experience, this usually results in a group of friends doing something unusual on FaceTime, such as putting all your names (as well as some celebrities and fictional characters) into an online Hunger Games simulator and seeing who survives or making slideshows comparing each other to different cereals or Ratatouille characters.
  10. And of course, the most obvious option, go back to sleep until noon.