It’s Been a Long(er than usual) Time Coming…. By Matilda Spadoni

I did it! I went to an Era’s Tour show, and boy was it a doozy. I don’t think my show was like any other yet on tour so I thought I’d walk through it as if you are there with me.

5 pm: Arrival! Part of the fun of getting to Nissan Stadium in Nashville is the pedestrian bridge. With thousands of other people, we walk across the bridge. Later in the night, we can see thousands more listening to the set. There is a minimal line to get into the stadium, probably because it was drizzling, but inside was chaos. So. Many. People.

5:30 pm: We follow the nosebleed herd up to our seats. After sitting for a couple of minutes, we decided to escape the rain and explore. That is when the Shelter In Place alarms started to go off. “Lighting is approaching the stadium, please leave the seats and proceed to the closest indoor area.”

In the nosebleeds, there are no indoor areas. Once you exit the tunnel connecting the seats to the rest of the stadium, you are still completely exposed to the elements. To avoid the rain as much as possible, we, and the other people from our section squeeze into the tunnel. There we wait. And wait. Got told to leave the tunnel. Left the tunnel. Realized we are more likely to get soaked by rain. Promptly went back into the tunnel. Sat down. Stood up. Went to the bathroom. Sat down again. Sang some songs. Traded some friendship bracelets. Ventured out into the chaos to spend 50 dollars on two mediocre dinners. Ventured back to the tunnel. Sat, and sat, and sat some more.

8 pm: (original start of Taylor’s set): The rain is so heavy that we can not see the other side of the stadium. We are damp, and every time lighting went off, the entirety of the stadium groaned. Although this experience was kind of terrible, it is also so much fun. The stadium echoes with the songs of sorrowful but hopeful swifties, and Nissan Stadium updates us on Twitter every hour on the hour.

9 pm: Slowly but surely maintenance men start mopping the stage off and testing the lights. I entered the stadium with my phone at 98%, and it was now at 30%. Hopes are high but the lighting is still going off constantly. Announcements echo through the stadium, but every time we stretch to hear what they’re saying, it is the same Stay in Place alert. We sit as close to the wall as we can, as water inches into the tunnel.

(us in the tunnel)

9:45 pm: The rain has subsided and the stadium slowly fills up. The infamous pre-Taylor countdown songs are playing.

10:10 pm: She takes the stage.

We get out of the concert around 1:30 am. Taylor played her entire three and a half hour set. About a third of the way through the show, the lighting started again. The lights from the stadium were so bright, and our screams were so loud, that I think they ignored it. There were moments when I thought she was singing her last song. That they would force her to leave the stage and make us exit the stadium for safety. Later, we found out the worst of the storm was coming straight towards the stadium, but miraculously turned around just as it reached the outskirts of Nashville. After this night, I can confidently say, the five hour wait was worth it.

I have no more blogs (for this year) by Rafael Bonilha Van’t Hof

I come to you today a broken man, hollow and empty, head empty, no thought. For you see I still have to write a blog, and it isn’t coming to me. For like the past week I have been trying to write anything at all for this blog but the words have not been coming to me or very bad. I am in the middle of a flop era and must inform you that I have no blog, it isn’t here. I know that you want a blog but I don’t have it, and here is why:

  1. Bad Brain

Over the last week or so, I have been trying to write a blog, but every time I have started putting anything down, my brain starts yelling at me. It tends to sound like “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH” or “Eeewww” or even “This is nasty and cringe and bad and stupid and I hate it.” If that isn’t happening my brain starts fogging, what I mean is that I lose the ability to come up with any ideas and looking for them leads gives me a headache.  I want to write, but it is hard when my brain is screaming and fogging.

2. It is not 9 to 12 PM

I know this seems like a very stupid and bad excuse for not being able to write but trust me bro, these are the only times I can think good epic smart funny. I swear on a signed copy of the bible that is the time that I get all my best blog ideas and my brain yells at me the least. This is simply the optimal time for this and maybe it makes my writing “interesting” but that is something my editor can figure out (sorry Claire).

3. Video Games

I can absolutely control myself I swear, buuuuut video games just grab me by my brain and prevent me from writing. It is a little hard to write when I am smashing (joy con straps on). If video games didn’t exist this would be much easier. Maybe they should make games illegal, then I can get my blogs done.

4. Procrastination

I know this seems silly, but I can just write my blog later, maybe tomorrow, the day after, next month, it will get done… eventually. It will get done, I promise it will get done.

5. End of Year-itis/presenioritis

This has been a very tiring year for me. So much work and so little rest have left me crawling around the school just to get through the day. This is the most tired I have ever been. Also as a member of the oldest class still in the building I can feel the senioritis already setting in. This might seem very ridiculous as I haven’t even started applying to colleges but the thought alone has me drained. I am just getting a little taste of senioritis before it hits, I have a case of presenioritis. The fact that I still have to go to high school next year has me rolling in bed at night, crying sad little baby junior tears.

Given these very reasonable and valid excuses reasons, it is clear that I can’t write another blog this year as I am unable to produce just about anything on account of my attention span being worse than that of a dog and the constant bombardment of stimulus. I really wanted to write a blog, but I just couldn’t. Maybe next year I will be able to write again. So please return to the writing center next year when I have a very good, epic, cool, and maybe even smart blog next year.


My Favorite Skating Programs by Elle O’Brien

As some of you may know, I am a soon-to-be-retired figure skater. But long after my career ends, I will still always watch the sport on TV at any chance I get. The artistry and skill that Olympic-level skaters have are absolutely incredible. Even if you’re not as deep into the skating ~lore~ as I am, I think that anyone can appreciate a beautiful skating program. So, here’s a list of some of my favorite ever programs (in no particular order) WITH LINKS so you can watch them too!!!


1. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue’s ‘21-22 Janet Jackson SP

Hubbell and Donohue in podium position at Gran Premio d'Italia | U.S. Figure Skating

I can’t say enough about this program. Their connection is just spectacular. They truly put the “dance” in ice dance. I still can’t figure out how they do that knee slide backward. Incredible. 

2. Yuna Kim’s ‘09-10 James Bond SP

Double O Section

There’s no need to wonder why this program won gold at the 2010 Olympics. It’s pure perfection. In addition to her jumps and spins (textbook), her artistry is just breathtaking! Why the ISU ever got rid of the spiral sequence, I don’t know. What I do know is that she was absolutely robbed at the 2014 games. 

3. Kaori Sakamoto’s ‘21-22 I am a Woman FS

Japan's Kaori Sakamoto captures Olympic bronze with empowering free skate

First of all, can we appreciate the dress? Second, I’m obsessed with her. This is one of my favorite Olympic performances in any sport; her reaction at the end is pure gold. I love when she mouths the words in the middle. Kaori is proof that you don’t need quadruple jumps to win big. Her technique is just gorgeous. 

4. Alena Kostornaia’s ‘19-20 Twilight FS 

Kostornaia wins second consecutive Grand Prix gold in Sapporo - Golden Skate

This is one of the only Russian skaters I can tolerate. I love Alena. She has gorgeous lines, and I think that this program is perfect for her. She genuinely looks like she’s having so much fun–and, no offense to the Russians, but they almost never look like they’re having fun. Her jumps are actually good too, which is very different from most skaters from the Eteri Tutberidze figure skater farm. 

5. Adam Rippon’s ‘15-16 Beatles FS

Figure skater Adam Rippon wins U.S. championship | The Seattle Times

Unfortunately, (probably due to copyright issues) the only video I could find of this program is very glitchy and has a Russian-speaking commentator, but please enjoy anyway. There was a time when I knew this program from beginning to end and could recreate it for you on the ice. I was, and still am, obsessed. I love a good Adam Rippon program. 

6. Adam Rippon’s ‘17-18 Let Me Think About It SP

The 10 most memorable figure skating routines at the 2018 Olympics, ranked by song - The Washington Post

What did I tell you? Love a good Adam Rippon program. This one is just him personified. So good. 

7. Mariah Bell’s ‘18-19 To Love You More SP

The Comeback of '90s Music - U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone

While not technically an Adam Rippon program, he did choreograph it, so the theme continues. I love this music for her. When the rules switched in 2012 allowing you to skate to music with lyrics, it was truly a game changer. One thing I love about Mariah is that she is smiling the entire time. This program is just pure goodness. 

8. Mirai Nagasu’s ‘17-18 Miss Saigon FS

Mirai Nagasu: “I am impressed with myself, if that makes sense” | Inside Skating

This program, especially when she did it during the Olympic team event, is just breathtaking! I love that she starts out with such strong music, opens with the 3A, and then eases into her more artistic side. She’s one of my favorite skaters ever because she’s got such a great combo of strong technical skills and gorgeous artistry.

9. Nathan Chen’s ‘21-22 La Boheme SP

Winter Olympics: Figure Skater Nathan Chen Stuns in Men's Short Program

When I watched this live, I was so worried for him. If you don’t know, he kind of bombed at the last Olympics. But he won gold this time! And deservedly so. He’s grown so much as a skater. Nathan if you read this I’m free this weekend. 


Okay, I know I said there was no order here, but if one program gets the gold medal it’s this: 

10. Jimmy MacElroy and Chazz Michael Michaels’ Fire and Ice FS

Blades of Glory (2007) - About the Movie | Amblin

No comment needed.

Ode to a High School Life by Jaimee Martin

In my four years of high school, I have learned many skills, and I can definitely say I have grown because of them. You live and you learn; I hope this blog is a legacy to help the future high schoolers of Shaker.

  • If you’re worried a program is too hard or overwhelming for you, it’s better to start it and drop it than not try at all.

I’ve always been a person who pushes myself because I stand by the belief that you’ll never regret having tried something, but you might if you don’t try it. There have been many programs and courses that I have tried that I didn’t like, but participating in them has always proven to be an opportunity.  I took both AP Biology and APUSH not because I was confident I could handle it, but because trying both would give me a better idea of what I like to do, what I’m good at, and the chance to learn new academic knowledge. There was no losing, even though I didn’t excel at Biology, because I still gained everything the opportunity offered me and showed to other people that in the end, I could handle it. It’s fun to surprise yourself with a challenge and a risk, which is why my policy is to always add more to my plate and then if it becomes too much, I always have the power to say that I tried and now the given project is not helping me, but rather holding me back from other opportunities.

  • Don’t let your school counselor tell you what classes you should and shouldn’t take, especially if you are a Black student.

I have heard so many horror stories of students who felt like their whole academic presentation to colleges was inaccurate because their counselor advised them to take classes that did not challenge them enough or propel them toward their post-high school goals. For example, I have a close friend who has always wanted to be a computer science major, but their counselor told them they should take machining and engineering classes rather than AP Statistics because that’s what would look the best to colleges. However, if you know anything about coding, stats is the go to math. I don’t believe that counselors are purposefully trying to hold students back, but I do believe that no one knows who you are and what you love to learn better than you. Being an advocate for your own learning is essential to success and if you want to take a specific class, do not let ‘guidance’ dissuade you. If you want to stop taking a class for a different one, make that happen. You know what works for you and how to push yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you a class is too hard or not right for your future.

  • Get involved with student government or administrative positions early on so that you establish a base for influencing the school community.

I am a big believer in putting in the work to change the policies and practices you disagree with rather than complaining about them to people who are also complacent in the system. If I’m not prioritizing the change I want to see, it’s because I don’t care enough about that change to see it through. Connecting this to my first point, I regret having not taken the opportunity to be a representative in student council. Yes, my plate would definitely have been overloaded early on in high school, but I would have grown into how to be a better politician and learned balancing this social sphere with school much better. It wasn’t until this year that I really became involved with administrators in our district and I should have put in the work to establish political skills and get my ideas for change out there. The worst that can happen is that my vision is not recognized, but there are still so many opportunities that come from being a part of student advisory councils or student government, that the pros outweigh the cons.


The SWC is literally a free, college-level resource at your disposal for any type of writing you’re working on at any stage in the process. Our interns are incredibly friendly because we love what we do so much. We love to write and we will do whatever it takes to make writing enjoyable and exciting for each writing that comes to conference with us. We also are not a place of judgment the way that a teacher or parent may be in your writing. We’re like the grandparents of student writers. We want you to come for 25 -35 minutes and tell us all your worries, then we’ll give you gentle advice, some tea, candy, and maybe even a hug. Then we’ll send you back to your parents and teachers refreshed and wiser. So just stop by. We’ll change your life here at SWC.

I’m Really Gonna Miss This Place by Brendan Zbanek

Shaker Heights High School
My first — and only — favorite high school. (Besides East High from High School Musical)

When this blog gets posted, there will be six school days until my last day of high school before I check out for senior project. Woah. That sounds crazy to say! 

At the beginning of this school year, I posted a TikTok that was like “How am I already a senior?? This is crazy!” and one of last year’s seniors commented something along the lines of, “It’s gonna fly by, just enjoy it.” Unsurprisingly I just blew off that comment because it sounded so corny, but now… that comment feels real. 

As ready as I am to leave this place and move on to my future life out in LA, I’m really gonna miss this place. My mom went here, my grandpa went here, I go here now, and my little brother just started this year, so this building holds a sentiment in my heart and in my family that is very special, and I can’t believe that my time here is over.

In the last four years, I have really gotten to know this building inside and out. So using whatever knowledge I have gained from my time here, these are my top tips for making the most out of this high school.

  • For the boys: use the third floor bathroom. By far the best bathroom in this school! (Well, at least for boys) There is rarely anyone in there, and it’s pretty spacious and better scented, compared to the Egress and science wing bathrooms that give me nightmares. Most boys bathrooms are gross – just because, you know, boys – but this one is the superior choice.
  • Befriend Mrs. Brem and Mrs. Chengelis. I have never experienced getting to miss Crew so often because of random meetings for prom, senior festivities, and various other things. Crew is slightly painful to sit through, but getting to go to Chengelis’ office and take too many pieces of candy always makes my day and no doubt tops whatever ‘fun’ activities they have for us in Crew!
  • Do the morning announcements. Even though we only do announcements twice a week, it is by far the most fun I have in the whole week. It is always a little power trip to know that the whole school is listening to what I am saying, and I will never get tired of reading about what room YEH’s weekly meeting is in this week – hint: it’s always in the same room… I have no idea why we have to read it every week.
  • Dress up for the spirit weeks. 100% the most fun part of the school year is walking around and seeing everyone randomly dressed as an elderly person or a 90’s rapper ON THE SAME DAY. As a student council member, I do have to say that unlike popular opinion, we do work and we do try to make school more fun! SO DRESS UP! It makes it more fun for everyone!!
  • Eat the gosh darn cafeteria food. It’s actually good. Everyone loves to hate on our food, but I honestly enjoy it. No, it’s obviously not always a gourmet Michelin star restaurant, but it’s honestly pretty solid. There are good days, and there are some not-so-great days, but there is always something good to eat, whether it is in the main lunch line, the fake Bibibop line, or the fake Chipotle line.  
  • Say “yes” to anything and everything. I am incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities the high school has given me, and a lot of those came from simply saying “yes” to someone. I know that it is a complete privilege to say this, but if you are able to say yes, then what is the point of saying no. I got to host the Shaker Schools Foundation’s ‘Night For the Red and White,’ go to the justice center downtown and act for a trial case in front of a real judge, design our official class T-shirts, make countless connections with both adults and my peers that I know will last my whole life, and just a whole bunch of other random things. So when someone asks if you’re interested in doing something, say “yes!”
  • Just have fun! These four years are going to ZIP by. Faster than you would ever think. So, just try to enjoy it because at the end of your senior year you’re going to realize how much you will miss it. Some of the people that I see in the hallway everyday I will probably never see again, and I’m even going to miss them – even though I’ve never talked to them. Yes, these years are probably going to be some of the hardest, but you will get through them – I promise. So just try to enjoy them!

Anyways, now that I am slightly emotional about graduating and officially done with my final writing center blog, I am more ready for graduation than ever! No, these four years have not been the easiest, but I am very grateful for everything that has happened. And I can say with 100% certainty that I am really gonna miss this place 🙁

Eggs and Hot Water by Evan Barragate

It was 7:25 p.m. on a Friday. Like the week before and the week before that and the week before that and so on, it had been five minutes since I returned home from work at 7:20, five minutes after my shift ended at 7:15. All I had to do was go through the motions, as I had practiced everything I did over and over again and engraved it in my brain. I clocked out, unthinking, pulled my car out of the five-minute-only parking spot where I left my car for seven hours, unthinking, turned left out of the right-turn-only lane in the parking garage, got flipped off and honked at, unthinking, drove home, unthinking, walked in, unthinking, pet my dog and tried to get him not to lick my face (he eats my other dog’s poop), unthinking, stepped into the shower, unthinking, turned the faucet and waited for the warm water to rain all over me, unthinking.

But when the water came down, it was ice-cold. I jumped away in shock, shivering while I waited for it to heat up. As I continued to test the temperature with my hand, I realized the warmth would never come. Being sensitive to extreme temperatures, I wouldn’t take a cold shower if I were engulfed in flames and needed it to put me out. So the next day, I spent most of my evening boiling water from my kitchen sink to bathe myself. And no, I did not take a bath right there in pots and pans. I boiled water in two pots, carried them up to my sister’s tub, and dumped them in–refilling each one about four or five times. I wish I could include a video of me stumbling up the stairs wearing oven mitts, struggling to carry a giant pot as hot water splashed all over the house. For all that effort, I took the least satisfying bath I have ever taken in my entire life. By the time I stepped into the tub, the water had lost most of its heat, and it only went down three or four inches. This took place in my younger sister’s bathroom, which was filled with so many hair and shower products that their combined smell nauseated me. Her bathroom was also covered in hair, which was equally repugnant. The most maddening part of all this was that I knew I would have to do it again the following day or find a similarly difficult way to bathe–and I would have to do it more thoroughly because the next day was Easter.

I didn’t have to worry about how well I bathed before my Easter festivities; it was after these activities that would require a thorough washing. Even though Easter is the most tranquil and least physically demanding holiday for most people, the opposite is true for me. Every Easter is a full sweat-inducing workout, and it isn’t because I go to the gym on Easter (or any day of the year). For the last eleven years that I have lived in my current home, my two neighbors, my younger sister, and I have participated in an intense, highly-competitive, every-man-for-himself Easter egg hunt. Most see Easter egg hunts as fun, cute celebrations for little kids. But our egg hunt is not cute; it’s vicious. We’re also not little kids, but a group of people aged eighteen, sixteen, and fourteen. This was probably normal when we were all younger than ten, but not so much anymore. The neighborhood dog walkers strolling by looked freaked out by the driving-age and voting-age teenagers racing around the front yards, scrambling to fill their baskets with colored eggs. Yet we were far too focused to care what onlookers thought. When we collected our eggs, we didn’t smile or giggle, and we definitely didn’t help each other out. Instead, we chucked each other out of the way, shoved our opponents to the ground, stomped on feet, jumped in front of one another–not caring who we tripped and made fall face-first on the concrete driveway. Nothing mattered more than obtaining as many eggs as possible. And if that meant someone losing a tooth, getting scratched to the point of bleeding, or even breaking a bone, then so be it.

The egg hunt is one of my favorite events of the year … because I always win it. I gain my victory in two ways. I not only collect the most eggs, but I also obtain the golden egg: an egg four times the size of the standard one–covered from bottom to top in shiny (plastic) gold. It’s hidden in the trickiest spot and contains a better prize than any other egg. This year, I found the most eggs (twenty-six), which was expected. My neighbor and best friend Alex found the fewest (thirteen), and then she stole all of the money my sister Bridget found in her eggs. My other neighbor Lucy, Alex’s younger sister, got third place (which means she sucks). But for the first time in history, Lucy found the golden egg instead of me. I still declared myself the winner, as I collected far more eggs than Lucy–which is why I’m certain she cheated. Somehow. I attached a photo of all of us being sad after Lucy found the golden egg.

The fierce competition left me drenched in sweat. It was more tasking than any cross-country meet I had ever run. I could run a marathon, and even that would require less energy than the egg hunt. This brought me back to the issue I discussed at the beginning of this blog: I had to shower, but I had no hot water. It was the third day of the crisis, and my plan was to wash one body part at a time with cold water. I stepped into the shower, unthinking, turned the faucet, and waited for the freezing to strike me, unthinking. And then the water poured down–but it was warm. I jumped, not because the water was too hot on my skin, but because of how shocked I was that it wasn’t cold. I could have screamed with joy, and I wanted to crank up the temperature until my skin melted and my bathroom became too humid and foggy to breathe. After minutes of soaking up the warmth, I realized how interesting it was to be overcome with joy over something I had had every day and didn’t think twice about. This made me understand how easy it is to forget how important simple things are until you feel what it’s like to be without them–and not just in the case of hot water. The Easter egg hunt is another example of this. After eleven years of knowing my sister and neighbors could participate in the hunt, I didn’t have to think much about it. But upon realizing that it would be the last Easter I’d spend at home before my neighbor and I go off to college, I understood how special it is. I see my sister and best friend/neighbor every day, and I don’t think twice about it. But when I’m on my own in college, it’ll feel like having to shower in ice-cold water. When I return and see them again, it’ll feel like taking the first hot shower in months.

A Blog That Is, In Retrospect, A Retrospective On Blogs by Reece Turner

I’ve got a google doc that’s 24 pages right now and will be some number longer when I’m done writing this. On it is every idea for a blog that I’ve written or started to write or thought about writing. Some of them only have titles, some a couple sentences coupled with a vague outline for what in the world I’m going to fill a page with the night before it’s due (I, like [I’m assuming] the vast majority of you have written every one of these hours before midnight day-of). I’ll spare you the embarrassing or awful ones—turns out throwing anything at the wall and seeing what sticks tends to leave you with a lot of refuse—and run through some of my favorites that never were.


Untitled Story About My Friend’s Cat


My first blog took me hours to write mostly because I was hung up on the first idea that popped into my head, a story about my friend’s cat Big Guy and our love-hate relationship. He’s pretty shy, and it took him about a year to warm up to me so I figured I could dramatize that process somehow (think a la Dragon Ball Z and if that doesn’t call to mind any vivid images you’ll see why I never finished this one) but I could never figure out where to take it so this idea stayed in the doc.


A Guide to Garfield


This one was my actual first blog and it’s a bit bizarre. I think I just wanted to write about all the weird stuff Jim Davis has greenlit like he’s the real-life Krusty the Clown signing off on whatever the advertising execs put in front of him, such as the Garfield phone that’s now polluting some ocean or the Garfield-themed pizza place that opened and closed in Ottawa in the span of like 2 years total. He’s really like the newspaper comics George Lucas, except where people yell at George for making the Star Wars Christmas Special, no one calls out ol’ Jim, so he gets to wring his creation for all its worth before he dies at the age of like 130.


Musings on Musings on Jon Arbuckle by Kevin Jiang by Reece Turner


I’m leaving the name in this one because I think it makes it funnier. Kevin’s blog was the inspiration for my Garfield one so I felt like at some point I should make a more direct response. I got a couple paragraphs into this one but it turned out really boring so I could never motivate myself to finish it. If anyone knows what Kevin’s doing these days let me know and I’ll send him 5 bucks or something.


On Being Shot Out Of A Cannon


I had recently read about the False Dmitrys, a series of Russian pretenders who tried to claim that they were the son of Ivan the Terrible (and therefore next in line for the throne) in the early 17th century. Eventually the Russian royal family got so fed up with the constant uprisings that by the time they got to False Dmitry III they decided to shoot him out of a cannon. It’s a funny story but it would’ve just been me rehashing it which sounded incredibly boring so I didn’t end up finishing this one.


The Dayton Accords


This was another historical one, about the ending of one of the Yugoslav wars in the 90s whose peace talks were, inexplicably, held in Dayton, Ohio. This one succumbs to a lot of the same problems of the Dmitry idea. It would’ve been pretty funny (Slobodan Milošević apparently got irate and yelled “I am not a monk!” after like 2 days in Dayton, which is also how I react to spending any amount of time in that city) but I dreaded writing it so it never got finished.


There’s a few other, more boring ideas that are sitting on this doc, but the ones listed above are the highlight reel. I was originally gonna make this a “how to write a blog” for future interns, but considering the writing center might not exist next year (agh!) I settled on this instead, as hopefully a nice RIP to the medium.

Classes I’ve Loved By Claire Borden

When I sat down to write my last ever SWC blog, I was a little nervous. The idea of doing something for the last time unsettles me, and it feels like a lot of pressure to cram four years of reflection into one blog. I am also trying to shove graduation out of my mind as much as possible, as I am terrified of change. That said, I still wanted to treat this blog with the weight it deserved, and say something cumulative about my high school experience. That is why I have chosen to write about classes that I’ve loved throughout my four years here. I say “classes I’ve loved” because I have had meaningful experiences in every single class I’ve taken, and choosing favorites stresses me out. I am someone who gets very attached to classes. Each one is an important part of my routine, and feels like a mini community. I had fun taking a trip down memory lane and spending some time reflecting on classes that hold meaning for me, and of course I am very partial to the “list” format of SWC blog post so all in all this was a blast to write. Enjoy!

1. Physical Science- this was the first time that I enjoyed a science class. It was really difficult for me but I worked hard in conferences and even came in before school to get extra help understanding the concepts. I was so proud of my grades in this class because none of it came easily to me. I remember laughing a lot in this class and the vibes were just really good with my classmates and our teacher.

2. Geometry- This class was a ton of fun because it was a mix of freshman and sophomores and I got to meet a bunch of new people. I loved my teacher, and I still appreciate how he would let us ask homework questions in the evening over remind. I was really insecure about my math skills from middle school but geometry came really easily to me. One of my proudest math class moments to this day was when I solved a proof in a way my teacher hadn’t thought of before and he shouted me out to the class! While not that impressive now, it was really good for my fragile 9th grade self esteem. 

3. APUSH- This was without a doubt the most influential class I have ever taken and by far the hardest. I have never worked so hard and cared so much about a class, even though I took it fully online. APUSH was an obsession for me even though I complained about it constantly. I barely remember anything that I learned in any of my other classes that year, but I confidently believe that I could still ace any of the 40 questions. Even working on this blog I’m itching to write an LEQ outline!

4. IB History SL (EurAsia)- This class was a natural next step after APUSH, because it was taught by the same teacher and required many of the same skills. It was truly out of my comfort zone because I was the only junior in a class full of all the smartest, most tryhard IB seniors, but this forced me to bring my A-game every day and be truly prepared for class. I loved that there was never any busy work and it was run sort of like a college class- our only homework was readings, preparing for debates, and studying for tests. I have never been so transfixed by lectures, or engaged in discussion, and by the end of the year I knew I wanted to study history in college.

5. 11 English Advanced- I loved that this class was an outlet to simply read and analyze books. I loved almost everything we read, and the writing assignments were challenging but fun. I remember being terrifed by the passage explication assignment where I had to basically teach a lesson on an excerpt of House of the Spirits, but it ended up going so well which made me feel so much more confident in my public speaking abilities. Our class dynamic was super fun, and I loved my teacher, of course (Ms. Grey!). I just love English classes, and this was a truly great one. 

6. WRITING CENTER- I adore being a writing center intern. It makes me so happy to feel truly helpful. I also love that the writing center allows me to make connections with students of all ages with whom I might not otherwise get to engage. I love to dissect writing, helping a student find the best way to express their ideas. Aside from conferencing, this class is also just a fun way to unwind and talk during slow periods and I’m really going to miss our discussions and class dynamic. I will definitely be working in the writing center in college. 


The SHHS English Experience by El Szalay

Well, folks. This is it. My final post on the Shaker Writing Center Blog. I’ve known since the year started that I wanted my final blog to be a reflection on high school, so I am giving you one final round of my controversial opinions. This time, about a subject any writing center intern and visitor is familiar with: High school English class.

In every English class I’ve ever taken at Shaker Heights High School, I’ve been required to read at least one book. And if you have ever had an English class with me in the past four years, you probably know that my opinions on the books I read for school can be strong. VERY strong. So I figured, why not make a tier list of all of the ones I read, based solely on my opinion? Whether you are a fellow senior looking back on your high school experience, an English teacher wondering what your students actually think about the curriculum, or an underclassmen curious about the books you’ll read throughout high school, I hope my opinions are valuable to you.

Snap girl I think you dropped something… my jaw

These are books I LOVED and will probably read again.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – One of the few books I’ve ever cried over. Very refreshing read after Great Expectations.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller – Would’ve placed this one a tier lower, but it holds a very special place in my heart since one of my college audition monologues is from this play.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – One of my dad’s favorite books of all time, and I totally understand why.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – Super fun to analyze visuals instead of language! Fantastic art and story.

1984 by George Orwell – Read this whole book in one day. I wouldn’t rush through it like that again, but I would totally re-read it.

Good, waiting for you to be great

Something prevented me from putting these in the top tier, but I still liked them.

Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare – Read this with my dad over the pandemic. Lots of fun, but Romeo and Juliet as characters make me very angry.

Fences by August Wilson – Read this aloud with my sophomore English class over Zoom. Great writing, but it didn’t stand out to me as much as some of the other books I read that year.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-ju – I own a copy of this book, so I’ll probably re-read this one soon.

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju and Ryan Estrada – Another graphic novel! Overall a fun read, though I found it slightly confusing at first. But maybe that was just my 2021 quarantine brain.

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand – Would probably rank lower if I wasn’t in Shaker’s production of Cyrano. I had a lot of fun reading this in class, especially since we had hats and props.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – I hate to say it, but I think this book is a little overrated. It’s still good though.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende – …definitely a book! I would’ve hated this if I read it outside of class, but it made much more sense when we discussed it as a class.

I forgot

The equivalent of a neutral tier. I genuinely don’t remember enough about the book to properly rank it.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer – Why would I remember anything about my freshman year summer reading assignment?

The Odyssey by Homer – I had a conference about this book last month. The amount of times I had to ask the student to give me context for something I’ve read before was absurd.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – I sort of remember liking this book? I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it if I tried.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – We only read excerpts of this book, which is not doing my memory any favors.


These books have some redeeming qualities, but not enough to make me enjoy them.

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead – I really wanted to like this one, but I could not get myself interested in the story or characters at all. It was also the end of a fully-online school year, so I couldn’t bring myself to read if I tried.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – In all honesty, this book deserves to be a little higher. It actually pretty good, but I was in my great 2021 reading slump when we read this, which made it hard to enjoy. I did sort of re-read it at the end of junior year to write my final essay and I liked it better.

Antigone by Sophocles – Boooooring. I would’ve rather read any of the other plays in the Oedipus cycle than this one. The biggest redeeming quality of this book is that I did well on the in-class essay.

Welcome to Barnes and NOOOO

Absolutely not. Never again. I hated every second I spent reading these books.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – I read 600 pages and nothing happened. Also, it’s Charles Dickens.

City of Thieves by David Benioff – Maybe I wouldn’t have hated this if Kolya wasn’t in it. I skipped a whole chapter because he made me too uncomfortable.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – Better than Great Expectations, but that doesn’t say much. I will never like Charles Dickens. Maybe if someone else wrote this I wouldn’t hate it.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster – Thomas C. Foster should be grateful my tier maker website was not cooperating with me, because if it was this book would be in its very own tier at the very bottom. Words can’t describe how much I despise this book, but numbers can: -163651673478/10. Never again.

My Stupid Little Plot for a Horrible Party by Rafael Bonilha Van’t Hof

I am a fan of making things silly, goofy, and maybe even a bit slanderous. As an enjoyer of these types of things I have always been plotting ways to make things sillier through bad plots that are never going to happen for one reason or another. One of these “incredible” plans I have recently come up with was to host a part that is an atrocity for every one involved, me included! Here’s the plan:

  1. Become friends with the silliest set of people I possibly can. I need to find people at the extreme end of everything, the most different people possible. I want to have friends that would literally never meet each other for one reason or another. I also don’t want to get involved in any friend groups because this is about individuals.
  2. Start hosting parties that are good and that people like. This seems counterintuitive to my plot for a bad party but this is very important because it gets people to trust me so that they never suspect I would be piloting my own downfall.
  3. Invite all my new extremely different friends to an exclusive party that is invite only. I need to be able to control the people coming so that I can make sure this is the silliest group of people possible and that not many people that regularly hang out come together.
  4. Send out a form to everyone coming for input on what they want. This is very important because with how absurd some of the characters coming to this “party” would be I could get some really interesting ideas for ways to ruin it. It is also a cover for anything stupid that I want to do to make the party worse. This gives me plausible deniability as nobody there should know what the other people are like and have no ground to say that I made these decisions.
  5. Have the most awkward party known to man: nobody knows anybody there except me and they all have to suffer as they are surrounded by a cast of people similar to smash.
  6. Lose all my social credibility and get shunned in the area for a long time. This seems like a bad outcome (and it probably is) but now I no longer have to talk to anybody because nobody wants to talk to me.
  7. Profit(?)

Now it might seem like there are a lot of problems involved with this plot, and that is because there are. The main issue is that I probably shouldn’t be sharing my torture plot with people that might be at this “party.” I never really planned to make this a reality because I simply cannot bring myself to start interactions with anybody. I have also only been to a party in my life so it isn’t the best idea for me to be hosting. It is just a funny little idea I had that could be a funny blog, and maybe a story some day :).