A Letter to my Friends by Claire Ockner

Dear friends,

Here we are. We stand, all of us, on a ledge. One foot planted on safe ground, the other dangling over. Soon, we’ll all jump. As scary as it is, we all have to do it at some point — take the leap. Leap into what? We look cautiously over the edge. What we see is not some gorge of darkness, nor a ravine of despair. It is independence, something new, a future of our own.

Friends, we’re all jumping off the ledge together, but who knows if we’ll end up in the same place? Some of you, I already know, will end up far away. Oregon, Maine, even Scotland. Some of you I take with me. Just a few hours away from this place, two and a half, to be exact. And yet it feels like I’m jumping off a ledge. Not jumping to my death, but to something else — a new life. G-d, I can’t wait to see where all of you land.

So, we’re all going somewhere. Somewhere other than Aldersyde Drive. We’re all jumping off a ledge, unplanted our feet from the ground we know so well. Calling it a ledge makes it sound like something to dread, but it isn’t. A ledge is just what I’m choosing to compare it to, in my current state of mind.

I hope you text me. Maybe you’ll only text me when you’re missing home or when you’ve already watched every single show on Netflix and have nothing better to do, but I’ll always be glad to hear from you. Always. And I mean that.

We still have a few months before we jump, so we should probably stop worrying about how close to the ledge we are, and start enjoying the moment. We’ll be friends, like we have been for however long. We’ll enjoy this summer and then, when we walk off the ledge, we’ll realize that where we end up doesn’t change the friendship we share.

Going away doesn’t erase the memories we made. It doesn’t erase the car rides with windows down and the High School Musical soundtrack playing on repeat. It doesn’t erase the times when we laughed so hard, our stomachs hurt. It doesn’t erase the smiles in the hallway. It doesn’t erase anything. It only adds to the memories. We’ll laugh together in December, probably about how “your roommate did what?!?” or “your mom called you when?”.

I can’t wait to see what you all do. Each and every single one of you can do anything and everything you put your mind too. And I can’t wait to be there, cheering all of you on.



The Question by Claire Ockner


Ever since the day I turned fifteen, I’ve been bombarded with a single question. You learn to tune it out, you know, and it becomes white noise, like flies buzzing around your ears or the static on an old T.V. And, the more they ask you that same question, the more you realize that you have no idea what the answer is. You shrug. You mumble, “I don’t know.” You avoid it like the freaking plague.

“So, Claire, where do you think you’ll be going after high school?”

Oy vey. For the past few months, I’ve simply been regurgitating the names of the schools to which I applied. I would rattle them off like items on a grocery list, speeding through them as quickly as possible. After all, a question that you’ve been asked over and over again for years can get pretty boring to answer. Seeing other people answer the question can be even worse. You’re happy for them, of course, but you’re jealous too. They have an answer, a definitive plan for the next four years of their life.

About a week ago, I finally got my answer. I no longer dread the question — I embrace it. “I’m going to Ohio State!” I say confidently. And then I answer the rest of their seemingly endless questions: What are you studying? Psychology. Are you in any programs? Yes, I’m in the Honors Program. Do you know where you’ll be living? No, because they won’t email me my freaking housing contract. I tell them about my roommate, who I met on Facebook, and how I plan on decorating my room, and what activities I want to participate in.

So, I’ve finally answered your question. I’m going to THE Ohio State University, and I couldn’t be happier.

First Reflections by Ian Marr

Though it feels as if the school year is still young, I can see my cap and gown waiting. It’s hard to grasp that my time at Shaker Heights High School is drawing to an end. When I was an underclassman, I dreamed of this year, expecting it be fun, carefree, and unpredictable. If I was right about any of those things, it would be that this year has been unpredictable. I’ve had grueling homework assignments to complete, auditions to prepare for, and I’ve pulled three all-nighters in a row just to barely keep my grades above water. Indeed, it seems that senior year is far from what is expected by many students. The year steadily moves forward, assignments come and go, previously established relationships strengthen or fade, until it all eventually just… stops.

It almost seems like some sort of cruel experiment. In your freshman year, you’re thrust into an unfamiliar environment with hundreds of others just like you. As the years gradually progress, you begin to see how you stack up against other students. You watch clusters of students rise to the top, while many fall behind, all while you try to decide which area you’re going to land. You build friendships and close bonds with others. Some become stronger through the toughest of times, while others are destroyed by jealousy or neglect. Perhaps a significant other enters the fray, and with them an idea of a future that may not ever become reality. As the years continue, emotions are tested and become stronger, assignments become more challenging, and the pressure to do well and gain respect increases, until the final day, where old friends smile and part ways, marking the start of a new chapter of life. At the end of this journey, when I will carry these memories with me to my next destination, I will ask myself if this was all worth it. The culminating experience that these four years have brought me will surely remain in my memories forever. Whether or not it will leave a positive or negative impact still remains to be seen.

After all, I haven’t even started college yet. Who knows what changes those years will bring?

Application Anxiety by Ian Marr

If there’s one thing that almost all high school seniors can agree on, it’s that college applications suck. They suck a lot. It’s bad enough that we’re buried in schoolwork that we can’t afford to lose track of, and application deadlines only add to that stress. If you have a procrastination problem like I do, you’ll understand that this is an absolutely unforgiving combination. Waiting until the deadline date to send your ACT scores only to discover that the website is down for maintenance is possibly one of the worst feelings a student can have. However, looking back on these experiences, I can see that the anxiety that exists with the application process is nothing compared to the relief that’s felt once it’s completed. It is a burden that we are capable of lifting early, but we choose to ignore out of fear. But once it’s done, that fear will become incredibly distant.