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Back to School 

September 2021

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Dear reader,

 

We are so excited to see some semblance of normalcy again around Steward campus! We’re so happy and honored to be carrying the torches passed on by Hailey and Anya, our lovely former editors in chief. As some of the color and excitement is brought to Steward life, we hope to convey that through this publication, produced directly from the perspective of our talented student body. Going into our senior year and making preparations to depart the Steward School, we want to carry on the Steward INK legacy, and our intention is to expand upon the foundations laid by those who came before us. This year, we’re elated to announce the expansion of the newspaper past just seasonal issues and its metamorphosis into a multimedia platform, showcasing all the vibrant Steward atmosphere has to offer. As we grow its reach, please share it with any friends and family to convey the time and effort that has gone into this Back to School edition. 

 

Lastly, we’d also love to recognize our new INK editorial staff:

Copy Editors: Alaina Jefferson, Annabel Wang, and Adhya Yaratha

Steward Spotlight Editor: Elise Gresham

Arts and Creative Writting Editor: Hayden Ashworth

Entertainment and Culture Editor: Garrett Ashworth

Sports Co-Editors: Grady Walsh and Gates Fox

Marketing and Distribution Officer: Beth Cram and Lily Wood

 

Happy reading!! 

Sincerely,

Zoë Macgill ’22, Lucia Fogler ’22

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Black Marble

Steward Spotlight

 

The Summer Experience at Steward

I have been around people of my age for the past ten months of school, and I can’t remember the last time when I talked to anyone below the age of twelve. I try to sit with the other Student Counselor Apprentices at Steward’s Summer Experience camp, yet I cannot help but stutter in my conversations, asking the younger kids questions like, “How have the first five years of your life been?”. It’s difficult getting into the swing of things. I notice some kids sitting alone and realize it must be just as hard for them as it is for me. Probably even harder. Being in a new environment and not knowing anyone is stressful. I encourage myself to take a leap of faith and sit down at an empty table with a camper named Victoria.

Victoria doesn’t go to Steward, so she is shy at first and doesn’t have the same familiarity of the campus as some other campers. Her brother, Michael, however, has already made new friends and is sitting with them. We talk for a little while about favorite activities, games, and sports, but the conversation is cut short when everyone is told to line up for laser tag.

Two months later, I’m pleased to see Victoria laughing with friends on the playground when I return to camp. It’s clear that she has grown comfortable with the environment at Steward and has made new friends. She’s having fun.

Summer Experience camps at Steward are perfect for students of all ages who are interested in trying something new, like Victoria. Whether it is discovering a new hobby, trying a new activity, or making new friends, Summer Experience holds multiple camps so kids have a variety of opportunities to step out of their comfort zone.

Long-lasting Relationships

“I became friends with many people, but I got closest with Kashvi,” Victoria said. “We don’t have a lot in common, but we both like gardening. My favorite memory at camp is walking in the garden with her.”

Kashvi seemed to share mutual feelings about the friendship as Victoria, and sharing the new environment together.

“Victoria was one of the first friends I made at camp,” Kashvi said. “We don't have a lot in common because we're opposites, but we do play a lot of games together. Ground is a game we play most often, where you close your eyes and count to 10. You keep closing your eyes, and you have to go on or around the structure. Then you have to try to tag other people who are playing and there are obstacles everywhere. The best part of my day is seeing Victoria and the rest of my friends. Having friends makes camp better.”

Siblings and Favorite Memories

Kashvi and her 5-year-old brother, Krish, had a memorable summer at August Adventure. Although I wasn’t there the whole summer, it was fun to hear about all the new activities they tried. They tried dodgeball, kickball, basketball, lego camp, ice skating, bowling, cooking, chess, laser tag, and plenty more from being there almost all summer.

“I like the gym,” Krish said. “It’s super fun because that’s where I learned to play dodgeball and kickball!”

Another set of siblings I talked to were the Mundys, who had separate opinions on what their most experience was.

“My favorite time at camp is Afternoon Adventures,” Watson said. “It's fun because I like going to new places. Yesterday, we did rock climbing, and I'm not a big rock climber, but it still was pretty cool. I’d say it was my favorite because I usually don't rock climb. It was a new experience and I found out I liked it.”

Watson’s younger sister Elinor, seems to prefer the morning camp culinary class over Afternoon Adventures.

“My favorite memory is making chocolate mousse in the Edible Education camp,” Elinor said. “I liked the process of making it and tasting it. It was really fun.”

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The SCA Experience

As I reflect on my experience as a Student Counselor Apprentice, or as everybody calls us SCAs, the most enjoyable part of my experience was seeing the kids try something new and finding out they love it. I was happy to hear my friends had similar feelings.

My friend Rally Costen ‘24 has been an SCA for two years now, and loves the day to day schedule of being an SCA.

“The best part of being an SCA is trying the different activities along with the kids,” Rally Said. “At the beginning of the week, Mr. Robinson lets us choose any camp we want to volunteer at for the rest of the week. I, for example, have been volunteering at chess camp all week. There are various options such as a sports camp, music camp, photography camp, space camp, etc. Then I get to hang out with the kids at the end of the day, which is awesome.”

The day to day schedule of being an SCA is always fun because sometimes you know what your schedule will look like, but sometimes you have no idea and the unexpected makes it more thrilling. 

Advice for Future SCAs

For the first time SCAS, my friends Braylan Rice ‘25 and Morgan Shigley ‘25 were great with the kids. They embody what a perfect SCA is: kind, patient, fair, supervising, and lively. Both of them, of course, still had their fears being first time SCAS and had some advice on how to approach the process.

“Some advice I’d give to someone looking to be an SCA is to remain calm,”  Morgan said. “Some kids can get on your nerves, but it’s important to be calm and confident! If you're not confident in yourself or abilities, the kids aren't gonna listen to you.”

Braylan agreed that remaining calm and patient is key to helping a kid sort through their problems.

“If you’re looking to be an SCA my advice is to be patient and try to not raise your voice,” Braylan said. “If you panic, the kids panic, so you’ve got to keep it cool, be mature, so the kids compose themselves. Some of them are already mature, but by keeping your cool, they learn how to react calmly in situations and think things through.”

Challenges of being an SCA

If you’re looking to be an SCA, it's not just important to visualize the best parts of the job, but also what the most challenging parts are too.

 “The most difficult part is when kids are misbehaving and making them change spots, or putting them in timeout,” Braylan said. “It feels uncomfortable sometimes having to take care of someone else's kid. However, it’s good practice for the future when dealing with people that won’t always agree with you.” 

I agree with Braylan that it’s challenging to discipline a kid who you don’t know well, or you do know well out of school and your relationship is different. It’s harder when you have some sort of relationship with the parents outside of camp.

Rally had more of a challenging time with the older kids in chess camp rather than with the younger kids.

“The most challenging part of being an SCA is getting some of the older kids to listen to you,” Rally said. “In chess camp, some of the kids are not that much younger than me. I have to gain respect from them throughout the week so they’ll listen.”

“The King of Summer”

Lastly, I talked to Mr. Robinson, known by many faculty as “the King of Summer”. As I was talking to Mr. Robinson, he was focused on his phone, but answered my questions whole-heartedly and didn’t think twice about his answers. While watching him multitask, I could tell he was the man for the high-priority job.

During the school year Mr. Robinson works with some of the vendors for facilities, after school programming, summer programming, and whatever is left to help out with, for example, COVID testing. Summer planning takes up Mr. Robinson’s schedule, and has to automatically start planning in September. Planning includes marketing materials, working with the marketing department, business planning, working with Wilton Hall and the business office, recruiting teachers, and working with vendors. Throughout September and October, Mr. Robinson primarily works on marketing. Once December starts, he starts registering campers. It’s a role that doesn't have an offseason.

“I'm lucky to be the administrator of our Summer Experience Program, '' Mr. Robinson said. “My role is to oversee all the logistics, the administration, the communication, and the behind the scenes stuff that is involved with our summer experience.”

Priorities for Campers

“The first priority for each child is safety, of course,” Mr. Robinson said. “Obviously, that takes in a lot of different phases. Then the second thing is camper experience. My son attends many of our camps. I generally try to make sure that every kid has the experience that I want for my own children, including our SCAs, who help out our camp leaders facilitate each camp. Then the roughly 900 campers or so that we had on campus this summer, I want to make sure each one of them has an amazing experience, and cannot wait to come back to the Steward School.”

When Mr. Robinson said this, I immediately circled back to Victoria’s experience in my mind. The impression the school left her, the friends she made, and the excitement she had coming out of the car for a day of fun.

“The best part of my day is always when we’re going to the camp, because nobody ever knows what we're doing in the morning,” Victoria said. “It’s an exciting surprise that I never get tired of.”

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Most Valuable SCA Lessons Learned and Returning to Camp

I was curious about what others learned from their time in these camps. How being around different camps made them learn more about themselves or others.

“The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is probably learning about how different all these kids are,” Braylan said. “Some have shorter attention spans, some are very calm, some of them are kind, very quiet. Just learning about how different each kid is, and accepting that so we can be in the same environment together.”

Rally had a different observation from Braylan, one that’s more personal.

“Respect is the most important lesson,” Rally said. “ I gained respect for Mr. Robinson, Hannah, Sarah, and made me appreciate teaching kids to have respect for themselves and everyone else. It's easy to learn respect as an SCA.”

I knew from my time being an SCA it had its ups and downs, but mostly ups. Without confirming with any of my friends, I knew I was going to come back next year as a counselor. 

Morgan agreed with me, confidently confirming her return.

“I will come back, absolutely,” Morgan said. “ I really enjoyed being here. Just being around the kids makes me happy, no matter how much work it is at times to watch them. It's fun overall and everything is worth it.”

Braylan and Rally both agreed they will return, but somewhat different reason than 

Morgan. They are motivated by the idea of fulfilling most of their community service hours, but also by the idea of creating and growing their bonds with each of the kids.

“If you want to be an SCA just do it, '' Rally said. “You have a lot of fun with kids, make a lot of friends, and it’s a learning experience since, for the first time, you're the adult in situations instead of the kid.”

Introduction to the Counselor Role 

Rally and I are looking ahead to the future, and see ourselves as counselors with more authority next year. Just, once again, feeling a bit nervous about the new position, I checked in with two counselors, Hannah Woolard and Sara Willhite, about their experience as a counselor and why they chose Steward as the place to work.

“I've been working the past year with the after school program Steward has, '' Woolard said. “I wanted to spend more time forming relationships with all the kids that I've met, and becoming a counselor is a fun experience to have. I've loved forming relationships with the kids and getting to know them. It's fun to see how they grow over the course of the summer, and watch them have a good time at camp. My favorite memories always include watching the kids enjoying their experiences. For example, when we go to the Science Museum, and they're so excited to be experiencing new environments.”

Wilhite had more family-related intentions between her decision to be a counselor.

“My mother-in-law Sabra Wilhite works here and has worked here for around 13 years,” Wilhite said. “She's talked about how awesome the team and children are. I was interested in a job at Steward because I love working with children of all ages. I thought it was a great opportunity to slow down, be with my family more, and be able to have a fun job. The best part of being a counselor is experiencing the different adventures with the kids and seeing them happy. I also enjoy going to the squirrels game, trying something new, and going to places in Richmond I've never been before.”

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Upper School Club Fair 

This year’s club fair is one to remember. Stretching from the administration building down the colonnade, a diverse range of clubs sought to reel in members with a healthy mix of candy and interest. After a year where clubs remained in the background, this event brought each club into its own spotlight. To sophomores and freshmen who never had the chance to experience the club fair, this was a thrilling, new event. To juniors and seniors, this was a comforting return to normal. Many fledgling clubs made their debut here while established clubs continued to attract new members.

 

This was my first club fair and the abundance of options overwhelmed me at first, but after browsing, I found many clubs that I had an interest in. Since there were so many choices, a few clubs may have gone unnoticed so here is a comprehensive list of all the clubs that attended the fair:

The Math Club: Run by Ms. Hudson and other members of the mathematics department, the math club is a place for all students enthusiastic about equations and calculations to gather. Even if math isn’t your forte, this unique blend of math and games is bound to be fun and educational.

 

Model UN: This is a popular activity among students all around the globe, and students at Steward aren’t an exception. Model UN club is sponsored by Ms. McGehee and it is a place for groups of students to debate with one another in a style identical to the one implemented in the United Nations. This club looks amazing on a college resume and is a lot of fun.

 

Writer’s Cafe: This club started just this year and is sponsored by Ms. Arnold. It is a place for students who like all things creative writing to gather. During the meetings, participants will play creative writing games and write pieces based on prompts. Even if you aren’t interested in the activities, there will also be a place for you to write in solitary or workshop.

 

Ping Pong Club: As the name states, the ping pong club is a place where you can refine your table tennis skills and make new friends. Sponsored by Mr. Serr and with one of the highest member counts in the school, this club will never grow old.

 

History Buddies: This student-run and nationally recognized club is a place for students to discuss and write about historical events. Sponsored by Ms. Dwelle, this club looks good on college resumes and is an opportunity for you to expand your historical knowledge.

 

Steward Ink: Of course, Steward Ink also showed at the club fair. This club allows students to independently publish their articles online and collaborate with other talented writers. The phenomenal English teacher Mr. Hurley sponsors this club, and a team of editors runs the club and polishes the submitted articles.

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Habitat for Humanity: Mr. Lowery and club founders are working with Habitat for Humanity to facilitate homeownership in Virginia. If you want to participate in volunteer work and believe in building stable communities, this club is for you.

 

Jewish Student Union: This club is a gathering place for people who identify as Jewish and it is hosted by Ms. Freed and Ms. Arnold. For those who are Jewish and for those who want to know a little more about Judaism, this is a great club to join.

 

Mock Trial Club: This club is a unique blend of problem solving, public speaking, and law. For anyone who aspires to take up a legislative profession or for someone who just wants to improve their critical thinking skills, this club will aid you in both.

 

GSA (Gender and Sexualities Awareness) Club: Sponsored by Ms. O’Neil, this club is a safe place for students who identify as LGBTQ+ and students who advocate for them. It's a great place to hang out as well as an accepting, safe community for those who want to grapple with identity and help others.

 

Black Student Union: This union is a place to discuss identity and generate awareness of some of the exclusive challenges Black students face at Steward and elsewhere. Sponsored by Ms. Goodman and open to people of any race, this club is a place for everyone who wants to broaden their perspective.

 

Cancer Awareness Club: Sponsored by Ms. Kovach and Ms. Maitland (a cancer survivor herself), the Cancer Awareness Club helps organize many fundraising activities like the head shaving assembly. Anyone is welcome to join, and it is a great way to involve yourself with the community.

Coding Club: From JavaScript to HTML, CSharp to Python, in the coding club, sponsored by Ms. Springfield, you can learn how to code all the while you make friends.

 

Robotics Club: Dr. Hardcastle hosts this club for those who want to learn more about technology and how to apply those lessons to robotics. Even if you don’t have any previous experience, by the time you finish this club, you will be a master of the automatons.

 

Diversity Club: This club is a gathering of people from all backgrounds who are interested in creating an even more accepting community at Steward by gathering statistics and instituting new rules at Steward. Mr. Lowery, Ms. Healy, and Ms. Luqman sponsor this club and its members work hard to continue this club’s success.

 

Cultural Snack Club: This exclusive club provides its high-class members with a plethora of exotic, gourmet snacks to eat. If you’re interested, it is best to join the club as quickly as possible since the amount of slots is very limited.

 

Debate Club: If you like arguing, it’s better to have it be school-sanctioned with the Debate Club. This club is also sponsored by Mr. Hurley, and each meeting is spent preparing and debating. Whether or not you enjoy debates, joining this club will give you many perspectives on a wide range of topics.

 

Battle of the Brains: For all the members of society with a high IQ or zest for challenge, this quiz bowl club sponsored by Mr. Hopp is a way to stretch and strengthen your brain with a series of mental challenges.

 

The Gardening Club: Sponsored by Ms. Householder, the garden club is a place to forget the stress of school and focus on the beauty of nature. Down by the BIL, members of this new club will nurture their plants and their bonds with others.

 

Film Club: This club is sponsored by Ms. Springfield and Mr. Alley and is a place to learn all the necessary skills needed to begin your journey to becoming a professional photographer and filmmaker.

 

Improv Club: Run by students and sponsored by Ms. Maitland, the improv club is for everyone who loves theatre games and acting (though no former experience is required). The relaxed atmosphere and the wacky games attract waves of students each year.

 

Environmental Club: This club is sponsored by Ms. Greenly. It focuses on finding ways to help the environment and engaging with nature. For any nature-lover, this is your place.

 

Chess Club: As the name suggests, this club is all about the art of chess. Even if you know none of the rules, this club is a perfect place to learn them and become a chess master in no time. 

 

Yearbook: The yearbook is an organization of students who dedicate themselves to creating this school year’s yearbook. Joining this club looks amazing on college applications, and it will teach its members how to master digital design.

 

Operation Smile Club: This club is an opportunity for students to fill out their community service hours and help children born with cleft lips receive free surgeries. If you want to spread a little happiness, this club is a great choice.

 

Fashion Club: For all the divas, the visionaries, and designers lumped together with the masses, this club is an opportunity for you to put your fabulousness on display. It’s by Ms. McGehee and it’s a place where you can hang out and make all your clothing and fabric ideas a reality.

 

Stewardship Club: This club is sponsored by Ms. Filler and it is an opportunity for students to become more involved in the broader Virginia community.  Some examples of what this club does is volunteer work at Goochland cares and bake sales to raise money for veterans.

 

Bob Ross Appreciation Club: Sponsored by Ms. Calkins, this club is a place for students to cultivate their love for the painting magnate and posthumous influencer Bob Ross. Whether you are interested in the painter himself or simply painting, this club is your place.

HOSA Club: Sponsored by Ms. Householder, the HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) is aimed towards aspiring medical professionals, and it looks amazing on college applications.

 

Hot Tea and Beverage Society: Are all these club options stressing you out? By joining the Hot Tea and Beverage Society, you can relax and engage in philanthropic activities.  This club has a chill atmosphere which is furthered by the club’s sponsor, Ms. Calkins.

 

The amount of clubs at Steward is unparalleled to many schools, and the line of stands stretching across the colonnade is proof of that. Seeing so many people pursue what they are passionate about solidifies the idea of what clubs are all about. Even though this event is just the beginning for clubs around the school, I can hardly wait until I have a chance to browse through them again next year!

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interviewing the co-editors in chief

By: Annabel Wang

Q: How is this year’s Steward Ink going to be different from last year? Is it going to be a reorientation or a completely new start? 

Zoë: Last year, Hailey and Anya, our lovely Co-Editors in Chief, worked on revitalizing the newspaper. The ink has always been around, but it did not have much of a presence, considering that I personally didn’t know that it existed until last year. In a sense, they did a great job of getting more people involved in the club activities; I also think they made a perfect choice by asking Mr. Hurley, who is truly passionate about the idea of a Steward newspaper, to be the sponsor. 

This year, instead of changing anything, we are planning to expand on what Hailey and Anya had already done. For example, last year we had the idea of putting out more articles, which is still our goal this year, as we wish to issue even more content, starting with a “Back to School” issue to incentivize further activities. So stay tuned! 

Lucia: I am also really excited to start running the ink for this year because we have some great ideas to transform the newspaper into something that is more accessible to the readers. We are going to innovate the concept of a newspaper, updating it to a 21st-century version that would be more capable of attracting readership. I think this is going to be an awesome year because we have many good writers on the staff, who are also excited and eager to be writing for us. In general, we are just going to continue what has already been done with a more innovative spirit. 

 

Q: How are you planning to increase Steward Ink’s viewership?

Zoë: This year, we are working really hard on publicizing the ink. We have a marketing team, whose members, Lily and Beth, are currently working on posters and other visual methods to get other people to know about the newspaper’s and the website’s existence. I feel like people have always known about the newspaper club, but most of them are confused about how to find the actual contents. Therefore, our goal is to make the ink more accessible and visible within the Steward community, and I think we are going to make a huge step toward our goal this year, especially as Lily has the experience of working with the Steward marketing department. Actually, I think we did a great job of publicizing the newspaper and having a presence at the club fair, and we were able to introduce the club to students who might be interested in joining. 

Lucia: We want to make the newspaper something collective and inclusive, and we wish to get more people involved in the process. For example, we are going to look for article submissions not only from the editors and club members but also just the student body in general. 

Additionally, as Zoë said, we are working really hard on marketing. I cannot describe how many times I have had people asking me, “What is Steward Ink?” And we hope to change this as we evolve the newspaper into something that is more widely recognized in our community. 

 

Q: How often do you plan to issue new editions?

Lucia: We used to do one issue per quarter, but now we have decided to make the publication more frequent and ever-evolving. The ink is going to be a multi-media digital site that includes poetry, art, and other interesting content that could be presented to a wide range of audiences. 

Zoë: To elaborate on what Lucia said, while we still want to push out four main issues throughout the school year, we also want to continue to publish smaller contents that do not have to be tied to a certain season. For example, there is always something to talk about regarding sports and art. Because there is always so much happening on campus, we do not want to limit the Steward Ink to four issues. 

 

Q: How many people are on the staff team? What are some of the specializations? What do they do?

Lucia: We have about 45 people on the staff in total. While anyone could submit articles to the ink, our editors, whom we rely the most upon, are required to write for the newspaper for every issue. 

Zoë: Going into the details, Lucia and I are the two Co-Editors in Chief who are responsible for overseeing the process. Our Copy Editors are Annabel, Adhya, and Alaina, and they are going to be receiving the articles, going over them, and checking for grammatical mistakes before they get submitted to me and Lucia. The News and Features Editor is Elise Gresham. She is actually planning on doing a podcast, and we are all so excited for it to come out! Our Arts and Culture Editor is Hayden Ashworth, who is already producing wonderful content about our fine arts programs. Garrett Ashworth is our Entertainment Editor, who is going to release reviews for music and films, so keep an eye out for his articles! The Sports Co-Editors are Grady Walsh and Gates Fox, who will be the reporters of the ever-evolving sports scenes at the Steward School. Last but not least, we have Beth Cram and Lily Wood on the marketing team, which is currently working on promoting the newspaper. 

 

Q: What impact do you hope to make by running the Ink?

Lucia: Personally, I think the club is going to be really fun for me because I would also be able to submit articles that push the boundaries of the type of writing that I am more familiar with. In general, however, I hope to keep the club functioning and running for many years. There used to be a “dead period” for the newspaper when I was a freshman, but I really do not want to see that happening again. Thus, I would love to make the Steward Ink a part of the Steward community, and I wish that it could also become a source of information for parents to stay updated and for people who are interested in coming here to learn more about the school. It is also going to be a great place for students to showcase their talents in writing, so I would love to see our members have fun with this experience.

Zoë: I would love to create a legacy with this club, as our efforts this year could easily be the catalyst for more amazing ideas in the future. While our seniors are going to be leaving next year, we have members on the team who still have four years left at the Steward School, so I hope to establish a good foundation for the ink to keep running even in the years after. 

 

Q: Is the club open to having more members?

Zoë: We are ALWAYS open to having new members. The nice thing about the newspaper is that it is not an activity that could be limited to a certain number of people. Because a majority of the work is done remotely and behind the scenes, we do not even have to meet frequently during lunch. Circling back to the question, the more members we have, the better it is. The larger and broader participation would allow us to find students who are passionate about writing, and, even if a student does not want to write, they are always welcome to submit ideas to the staff. 

Black Marble

Opinions and Editorials

 

what we can learn from a two-semester college graduate

By: Jackson Rhamy  

Back in 2006, a student named David Bahn graduated from UVA with two majors in a single year, and he is not the only one. Another student, Steve Pavlina, graduated in three semesters. Despite what some articles claim, neither of them consider themselves superhuman, but successfully maintaining an A-average while completing coursework exponentially larger than their peers required them to summon an outrageous amount of drive. So what is their secret to acquiring such motivation, and how did they manage to shoulder their Atlantean burden of work while maintaining a balanced life? Should we follow their footsteps, and how should we apply their strategies to our own lives?
   To answer these questions, it is necessary to take a holistic glance at the coursework of the two students. To graduate in three semesters (or 1.5 years), Steve had to complete thirty or forty units per semester. This was double the amount of the workload of an average student, who would tackle twelve to fifteen units a semester. When looking at this statistic, it is natural to think that to accomplish double the work it took double the time, but this was not the case for Steve. Many of his classmates spent the majority of their time complaining and procrastinating about their work, but Steve used the timeboxing technique to finish double the assignments in the time it took for his peers to complete the prescribed amount. But what is timeboxing exactly? With this technique, Steve would block certain parts of his day to which he fully allocated any attention he had to the task at hand. When the period ended, he would drop the assignment, completed or not. Of course, he came back to unfinished work if it was vital, but through limiting the time he had to execute a task, he subdued any perfectionist tendencies that reared their head.
   As for David, he completed over half his coursework before he reached his college dorm. From eighth grade to his senior year, he took enough Advanced Placement courses to have a grand total of 72 college credits. Since he attended a public university, almost all his credits transferred, allowing him to complete the remaining courses in a single year. Additionally, he received multiple scholarships, reducing his tuition to 200 dollars, and he made that money back by purchasing textbooks, using them, and selling them for a higher price. Needless to say, David’s secret to success was preparation. He strived for excellence in high school allowing him to reach further heights in college, and he was cunning enough about it to make his college experience free, even profitable.
   While Steve lacked some of the foresight David possessed—and David lacked some of the time usage techniques Steve employed—it is impossible to deny that both of them had passion and clarity. They had tangible goals which allowed them to toil over work for hours on end and, since they tore through units in flashes, they received almost instant gratification for their labor. Going faster than the proposed speed may seem like a recipe for stress, but with zeal for the subjects they studied, the hours they put in felt more like amusement than schoolwork. Time management and foresight may matter, but, without eagerness, they will find no outlet to work their magic.
So should students accelerate their course pace to the speed of these two individuals? It depends. If one knows precisely what they want to obtain from college, then this is the perfect track, but instead of just using this fast path to get out of college as quickly as possible, one could use this to maximize the number of majors one picks up during college. Even for those who are not interested in going at such a fast pace, going slightly faster than one normally would, in the long run, would bring significantly better results than if one was to not challenge themselves at all.
Steve and David are examples of what it is to be highly motivated. They may designate their time to different subjects and have prepared for college in very different ways, but both made compelling efforts to graduate in under two years. Whether you strive for excellence in sports, academics, or extracurricular activities, these two are outstanding illustrations of what it means to thrive and how to thrive in an area of specialty.

Sources:
https://stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/11/do-it-now/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/19/AR2006091901779.html

 

how to live longer through journaling

By: Jackson Rhamy  

What is life but your memories? Every vacation that you forget, every day that disappears from your consciousness, and every single moment that slips from your memory is time that you no longer live. Many people seek to extend their lifetime through diets and exercise, but all the days that they gain will rarely outnumber the days they forget. However, with the advent of written language, it became possible to record events with precision and remind us of the moments that slipped our minds. Unfortunately,  due to the ignorance of how tragic forgetting is, the value of recording one’s life is discounted by most. Even if it isn’t every day, even if it's not comprehensive, the smallest bit of journaling is infinitely more beneficial than doing nothing at all. Instead of focusing solely on the longevity of our lives, we should focus on remembering, recording, and analyzing, thus enriching the time that we have.
   An example of those benefits can be found in my personal journaling experiences. Although I might have not written my very deepest and darkest thoughts on the page, through detailing the events that occurred each day, I managed to remember exactly what I felt. In years past, months blurred together, and weeks grew into undistinguished hazes, but since I started journaling, each day has its own identity. Nothing about my lifestyle changed, but by giving each minor event in your day a spotlight to shine under, everything I did seemed to have much more significance.
   Remembering what you did yesterday isn’t the only advantage to journaling. When you journal extensively, habits that you were never aware of start to show their faces. For example, after I journaled for a while, I realized that from five to nine it was an infrequent occurrence that I did anything productive (due to family time, homework, dinner, showering, etc.). As a result, I stopped trying to schedule activities then since I knew they were infeasible and became more effective in my scheduling. By analyzing life, it is much easier to live it effectively.  Journaling is just a painless way to do it.
Even if people understand the importance of retaining memories of their life and the benefits of keeping a journal, many parts of doing it holds them back. First of all, it is impossible to deny that there is a stigma attached to expressing one’s thoughts on paper, because you are lowering yourself to a position of vulnerability. However, as stated earlier, expressing your thoughts is optional, and many of the perks of writing your feelings still carry over in more indirect ways. The other issue people maintain is that writing out the details of one’s day is too time-consuming, but once again, it is up to the person to decide how much effort they are willing to expend on writing (and it doesn’t even have to be writing. It could be pictures and drawing).  
Overall, how much you confess with your pen strokes and how much time you dedicate is determined by how greatly you value remembering your life. If you take the cynical road and say how much you remember won’t matter when you die, that is completely your choice, but the special thing about journals is that they transcend lifespans. Even if you aren’t there in person to talk to someone about what happened the other day, your journal will remain as a reminder of who you were in days past. We are all finite, but as long as we record our life stories, our experiences will persist infinitely, day by day, generation by generation.

 

 
Black Marble

Sports 

A Conversation with two committed senior athletes

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Grady Walsh Interviewing Daniel Heitman
Daniel Heitman is a basketball player at The Steward School. He is 6’7 and recently committed to Catholic University of America to continue his academic and athletic career.


Q: What does basketball mean to you?
A: I have always enjoyed playing basketball, and it is just a nice release from caring about the real world.
Q: How long have you been playing basketball?
A: I’ve not been playing basketball for too long, as I only started in eighth grade.
Q: Why Catholic?
A: I really like the coach and the players, they felt a lot like me. They also have a really good business program and are located in the heart of Washington D.C.
Go Cards!

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Grady Walsh Interviewing Erin Langenburg
Erin Langenburg is a swimmer who holds many records on the Steward swim team. She recently committed to William and Mary to further her academic and athletic career.


Q: What does swimming mean to you?
A: I have been swimming for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn’t trade a single second of it away. This sport has taught me so much, helping me to grow as a person each day. Swimming has not only taught me important life lessons, but it has also introduced me to some of my closest friends. I love to swim, but I have to admit that, on some days, it’s extremely hard to get out of my warm bed at 4AM and jump into a freezing pool. I love to swim, and I will always be grateful for the lessons, opportunities, and people it has brought into my life.
Q: Why William and Mary?
A: I never want to just settle where I am in life because I always want to keep learning and growing in every aspect of who I am. I was looking for a school that was a place where I could improve both academically and athletically. All the other schools I visited just felt like they were missing something, until I visited William and Mary. The head coach encouraged me to make the decision that was right for me, which was William and Mary. Everything just clicked and felt right—the people, the academics, the athletics, the atmosphere. The school felt like home away from home.
Go Tribe!

 

Fall sports Players interview

Varsity Soccer

Henry ‘23

Q: How do you balance school and soccer?

A: I balance school and soccer by keeping my day very structured. When I am at soccer practice or games, I solely focus on soccer; when I am at school or doing homework, I set all distractions aside. Being efficient with this time allows me to have free time once my work is done. 

 

Q: What is your personal goal for this season?

A: My personal goal for the season is to assist or score at least 10 goals.

 

Q: What is a team goal you have for this season?

A: My team’s goal this season is to win the state tournament. 

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JV Soccer

Zak Qureshi ‘24

Q: What are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?

A: I’m looking forward to being one of the older kids on the team, becoming a leader, and learning from the new coach.

 

Q: What is a goal your team has for the upcoming season?

A: I think a goal for our team would be to improve individually and have a winning record as a team.

 

Q: How do you think your team will respond after losing a season to COVID?

A: Considering last year’s short season, I think everyone will be more grateful and thankful to have a season this year.

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JV Volleyball

Ada Long ‘25

Q: What are you looking forward to in this upcoming season?

A: I didn’t play last year, so I missed being on the court. I also look forward to improving my skills over the season.

 

Q: What is a goal your team has for the season?

A: We all want to enjoy this season, work hard, and work together.

 

Q: How do you think your team will respond after losing a season to COVID?

A: I believe we will be able to bounce back from the loss of time quickly. With the help of our coach, coach Cadavid, I think we will be back in shape to play, and hopefully win, soon.

Varsity Volleyball

Mikal Banks ‘23

Q: How long have you been playing volleyball?

A: I have been playing since the 6th grade.

 

Q: What is your personal goal for this season?

A: I hope to grow and improve as an all-around player and teammate.

 

Q: What is a tradition your team has?

A: Before every game, we would find a quiet space and watch the same motivational video while drinking Capri Suns. This gets us focused for our game.

 

Varsity Girls Tennis

Amy Mertz ‘22

Q: Does your team have any traditions?

A: During pre-season before our evening practices, we would always go to Taco Bell and get Slurpees! The Taco Bell workers ended up knowing me so well that they gave me a free Slurpee one day for being such a loyal customer. 

 

Q: What is your team’s goal for the season?

A: Our team goal for this season, since we’re such a young team, is just to improve and have fun! I absolutely love my team, and we have so much fun every practice as we improve!

 

Q: How do you think your team will respond after losing a season to COVID?

A: Last year during COVID, we played at Courtside West on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which ended up being such a fun learning experience! Although we did not have a regular season, playing at Courtside offered a unique learning environment, and we have definitely taken what we learned by playing indoors back to the Steward tennis courts!

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Varsity Field Hockey

Grace Virginia Deal ‘24

Q: What is your personal goal for this season?

A: I want to become an all-around better player. More specifically, I really want to keep working on my speed and endurance.

 

Q: What is a goal for your team this season?

A: Trying to carry on the intensity after losing so many seniors since the last season.

 

Q: What is your favorite memory with your team?

A: Definitely playing card games and having fun on the bus rides to the far beach games. 

Cross Country

Meghan Rotter ‘23

Q: How do you balance school and cross country?

A: I practice 6 days a week and, after the practices, I make time to study and do my homework. I also use my study halls and class time to get school work done. 

 

Q: What is your personal goal for this season?

A: To break my personal best 5k and to beat my sister who runs for another team.

 

Q: How do you think your team will respond after losing a season to COVID?

A: I think the team is ready to get back on the course to compete against other schools.

 
Black Marble

Entertainment and Culture 

Lollapalooza

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It was my first full day in Chicago, and I was six rows away from the Foo Fighters. I would call that a pretty memorable experience. 

 

During the summer, the Chicago music festival Lollapalooza made a comeback after being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. I attended the event on August 1st, the last of the four days, when the Foo Fighters headlined. While many were concerned about the festival becoming a superspreader of the coronavirus, it was evident from the moment of arrival that they were being extremely cautious in handling the event.

 

There were at least two checkpoints where a vaccination card or negative PCR test from the past 72 hours was required before entering the venue. It is said that security turned hundreds of people away for not having the proper papers. Once in the park, everything was outdoors. The festival also provided free masks for the unvaccinated people, who were required to wear a mask. The few indoor tents required masks for everyone upon entry, and many staff members were enforcing the mandate. 

 

Although many still saw the event as dangerous, especially during such an unfamiliar time, the festival still provided an appropriate model of returning to pre-pandemic activities safely. For example, vaccination is the first step in the process, demonstrating Lollapalooza’s efficacy. Over 88% of those who attended the festival were vaccinated, and only 0.0004% of them contracted the virus. On the other hand, 0.0016% of the unvaccinated did. As a whole, only .05% of the estimated 385,000 attendees got COVID-19 as a result of attending the festival. Therefore, Lollapalooza is an exemplary event of how future outdoor activities can be conducted with COVID-19 still on the horizon. 

 

Not only did Lollapalooza give the city of Chicago a financial boost after a hard year of shutdowns, but it also helped a struggling music industry. Many artists receive huge amounts of income from performing, and the past year prevented them from doing so. At Lollapalooza, I saw some bands who were performing for the first time because of the coronavirus. Their joy of performing on stage was palpable in the audience.

 

While the music festival elicited many concerns regarding the ongoing pandemic, Lollapalooza showed the country that a new normal is possible. With vaccines, more outdoor events can be safely carried out, helping the communities to bounce back. The festival was largely a success, ending with the backdrop of a building saying “VAX TO LOLLA.”

Dog Boy 

In his debut solo album, Zillakami transitions away from the trap-metal stylings of his group City Morgue, and tries to find a new voice as a rock artist in Dog Boy. Unfortunately, the album does not have a determined style, as it mixes trap metal, Nirvana-Esque grunge rock, and borderline pop. The result is a disappointing and confusing project that still has some great moments. Zillakami, who has had multiple encounters with law enforcement, has tried to portray himself as a hardened rapper—the guy you shouldn’t mess with. This comes through on some tracks like “Chains” and “BADASS.” But on other tracks such as “Frosty” and “Not Worth it”, he takes a more somber approach and tries to show a deeper side to him, incorporating elements of self-loathing and depression. While not unwelcome, these tracks would feel more at home in an album with a less hyper-aggressive attitude. Standout tracks include the aforementioned “Not Worth it”, “Bleach (feat. Denzel Curry)”, and “Hello.” The latter of which has the strongest Nirvana influence with the chorus being directly ripped from the pre-chorus of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” To me, the best track here is the closer and the loving homage to Cowboy Bebop, “Space Cowboy,” which is a great mix of heavier trap elements with the emotional side seen earlier. It ends with a rather optimistic statement of “all dogs go to heaven,” providing a sense of hope that maybe things will turn out well. Overall, I’d rate this album a 7/10; it is definitely worth a listen if you enjoy 90s grunge with a touch of trap.

Why bad movies can save cinema 

As someone who has watched The Bee Movie 23 times, Tall Girl 54 times (in all available languages), and every episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, with full confidence, I can call myself a connoisseur of sub-par films.  Over the years of sitting, laughing, and grumbling through terrible movies, I came to realize that I enjoy them much more than films I see in theatres.  Perhaps the camera work is cleaner, and maybe the dialogue is more believable, but bad movies continually have something that is becoming scarce in the film industry: memorability.  One simply cannot forget Sharknado or Cats (shiver), but movies like Toy Story 4 and Wonder Woman 1984 remain dormant in my memory.  While blockbuster films attract their audiences with the promise of familiarity and nostalgia, bad movies stay unabashedly original and demented.  By taking notes from movies that veer off the beaten path (perhaps to a fault), I think that the film industry can become a much more experimental and interesting place with a healthy blend of nostalgia and unique ideas.

However, current cinema has a long way to go if it wants to achieve that perfect balance.  According to Box Office Mojo, out of the top 10 most grossing movies of this year, only two are original with no source material to bolster its sales.  The rest are sequels or remakes.  It is true that sequels are not inherently inferior to their original movie, but a ratio of originals to sequels so imbalanced is bound to be unhealthy.  Especially during the pandemic, it can be comforting to see familiar sights, but for those who actively try to consume media that evokes emotion, their options become more limited by the year.

As a result, many people resort to watching bad movies.  Their maddening plots conjure feelings, and their characters often make viewers laugh out loud.  Bad motion pictures cause one to think, to feel—something mainstream cinema no longer demands from us.  Perhaps they may not be the perfect surrogate for masterclass movies, but bad films surpass average ones by light years.  Average movies don’t require the viewer to think critically or criticize.  They are what they are, no more, no less.  Bad movies on the other hand, if not through the actual story, engage the audience by presenting them with so many flaws that it is physically impossible to maintain an impartial opinion.  Bad movies bring people together.  Average movies just pass the time.  What the film industry needs to learn is not derived from bad movies themselves, but rather the effect they have on the audience.

This isn’t the only benefit of watching sub-par movies.  The originality the creators lodge into their bad film is also very noticeable.  It is true that there are many rip-off films (some of which being Mac and Me and Reptilicus), but since many bad movies are not bound by the aggravating constraint that is rationality, they have miles of leeway to experiment.  Most of the time these experiments result in blunders, but these ideas are still present and new.  A perfect example of this is The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.  Considered by many to be the worst Star Wars film of all time, The Last Jedi angers its fans with something the new trilogy has avoided up to that point like the plague: new ideas.  The picture captured a new side of Luke that lurked beneath the surface in the original trilogies; it attempted to contrast its villain with Darth Vader by destroying the mask.  It is understandable that some may disagree with these decisions, but at least they are being made.  The Force Awakens was a carbon copy of the fourth film that banks all emotional impact it has on nostalgia (I’m looking at you Han Solo death scene).  Force Awakens may entertain, but it does only that. The Last Jedi, though it may infuriate the masses, at least leaves the audience something to contemplate.

Even so, if one seeks movies to entertain and not contemplate, that is up to the person, but companies should not exclusively produce sequels and remakes. While it can be comforting to see the same thing more than once (I would know), if we only consume the same stories with the same characters, we will become stagnant in our worldview.  Bad movies, although never perfect, are a blazing force of creativity that evoke opinion and thought while never falling into the trap of repetition.  Hollywood can spend all the money they please on special effects and famous actors, but without the originality found in bad movies, their films will amount to nothing more than entertainment.  So the next time you go to the theatre, try to see a movie that ventures into new territory.  It could be terrible, but there is just a chance that it will be a masterpiece.

Black Marble

Arts and Creative Writing 

 

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste 

In 1872, ten passengers went missing from their boat, the Mary Celeste, in the Atlantic. Their bodies were never found, and their fate remains unknown. The following explores the possibilities behind the mystery.

 

The sea was rough, the winds were harsh, and the hold of the Mary Celeste was filled by three feet of water. They—the captain, his wife, their daughter, and a seven person crew—were at last in view of the land: Santa Maria, in the Azores. 

So what made him do it? 

 

By The Grace of God | December 5th, 1872

Captain David Morehouse sailed the British brig Dei Gratia. They were 400 miles east of the Azores, Portugal when they spotted it—the ghost of a ship that should have been in Italy. 

The Mary Celeste left New York City over a week prior to Morehouse’s own crew, but now the boat was drifting, empty. 

They boarded the ship. 

It had gone through rough weather nearly unscathed. The cargo and personal belongings of its crew were practically untouched, and only nine barrels of the alcohol it carried had leaked. However, the ship’s log stopped at 5 a.m. on the 25th of November, ten days ago, and there were no bodies. There was nobody. 

 

The Storm Theory | November 25th, 1872

They hit another wave, and Sophia Briggs sobbed. Her father couldn’t take it; his daughter’s cries were the only match to the howling of the wind. She was just two years old. 

They shouldn’t have brought her—water was seeping in the bottom of the boat. Of course the toddler would be terrified of a wave, let alone a storm. So Briggs would just stop them. The boat couldn’t sink with her in it. It shouldn’t have had her in it. 

They were approaching Santa Maria, and he wasn’t the type of person to take chances. The boat could be going down, and that was enough. 

As lightning struck far in the distance, he hurried the family into a lifeboat. 

They’d make it to Santa Maria, he’d soothe his daughter, save his family, and they’d come back for what was left of the boat. He was certain that they would. 

 

The False Explosion | November 25th, 1872

It was morning, and the sea had finally calmed. That was when the hatches were blown open. 

The ship carried over a thousand barrels of alcohol and, after the storm, they were leaking. It only took a careless pipe and a bit of friction for the cargo to cause a blast that would startle the crew. They thought they were in grave danger. 

Captain Briggs called to abandon the ship. They were already running for the lifeboat. No one dared look back. 

They wouldn’t have known that, as simulated over a century later, an explosion caused by that alcohol would hardly leave a mark. They wouldn’t have known that wherever they were about to flee might prove much more fatal.

 

The “Saviors” | November 25th, 1872

The Dei Gratia didn’t find them on the 5th. That was only when they were done with them. 

On the 25th, the ship’s crew first spotted the Mary Celeste, an easy enough target. A plan was formed. They’d take its passengers and cover their tracks. Because capturing lone sailors was routine, they felt prepared to take on a bigger target.  

Maybe they didn’t expect the child, but the seas never expected them. 

 

Spring 1872

The crew of the Dei Gratia sailed the ghost ship down to Gibraltar, where they were subjected to investigation. The courts suspected foul play, but after months of inquiry, there was still no evidence to determine whether they were innocent or not. 

When they were at last paid their due from the Mary Celeste’s insurers, they only received a sixth of the pay. 

There are only ten souls that could ever know if they were guilty after all. 

 

Sources

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/abandoned-ship-the-mary-celeste-174488104/ 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mary-Celeste 

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2006/may/solved-mystery-mary-celeste

An Overview History's Most Secret Book

There was never a historian as audacious as Procopius. At first glance, he may seem to be a run-of-the-mill court historian, and everything he had published supported this. In his eight-book compendium—creatively named The History of Wars—he recorded his observations of the events while serving Belisarius, a Byzantine general. In another publication named The Buildings, Procopius praised King Justianian’s public service efforts by describing the magnificent infrastructure of the Byzantine Empire in excruciating detail. Moreover, many historians cite his books as a primary source for the Justinian Plague since they are some of the only comprehensive printed works on the topic. Needless to say, Procopius was widely perceived as a dutiful historian; however, centuries after his death, Procopius’s dependable status was suddenly cast into doubt.

The tea spilled in 1623 when Niccolò Alamanni discovered and published Procopius’s unreleased yet utterly poetic work: The Secret History.  This compendium of absolute truth exposed King Justian for his deplorable crimes, his wife Theodora for her infidelity, Belisarius for unwarranted reasons, and so much more. Not only did this tome reveal Justinian as the insufferable tyrant he was, but it also exposed him for “kill[ling] one trillion people”. Yet Justinian was not the only one to receive shade from Procopius. To open his book, he directly expressed his disdain for poets and his fear of being lumped together with them if he had published this work. Criticizing many of his comrades, he also accused General Belisarius of being a weak man and brought to light the fact that “his wife used magic arts to enslave him”. According to his claims, Justinian not only held the world record for the most murders, but he and his wife were also “not… human beings, but veritable demons, and what the poets call vampires”. From then on, he referenced Justinian not by his honorary title, but by the much more fashionable name of the “King of Devils.” This is not the only quirky part of Procopius's diction. Whenever someone dies, instead of using the aforementioned term, Procopius felt the need to write “s/he was removed from the world of men”, and he appears to be the first historian to use the word “gangster” in a history book. In many ways, this unpublished masterpiece innovated upon the concept of history by a wide margin.

This cursory glance over Procopius’s most recent text only scratches the surface of this book and its insanity, but more important than the details of what Procopius wrote is the question of why did he write this book in the first place? Perhaps it is just true that Justinian and Theodora were vampires and together they killed 125 times the current population on Earth, but if this was the case, Justinian II seemed to have not inherited the vampire allele when he was conceived (and he didn’t even approach his ancestors’ record according to later historical documents). Another possibility is that, because of his ability to tirelessly spew words onto a page, Procopius was just an angry curmudgeon whose venting outlet was writing fallacious historical documents. Or maybe instead of simply writing the document to vent, he was genuinely on the verge of releasing it but was held back by the thought of being considered a poet. All these possibilities are highly speculative, but one of the most recent theories circulating is that he created this book as a way to protect himself if a rebellion were to overthrow Justinian and thus execute him as a member of the formal royal court. This would explain why he never released the book while tying back to the issues of the time. Although the speculation is reasonable, we can never be sure about the purpose and motive behind this book. The possibilities are infinite.

Even if we don’t know the intentions behind this book’s existence, it is undeniable that Procopius’s The Secret History will leave its readers a strong impression no matter what century they live in. The Secret History may have fragmentary sourcing and wild claims, but it is still a resource that will never become obsolete due to inaccuracies because it never strived to be accurate in the first place. Procopius’s most recent title is an elegant tour de force that uses its unreasonableness and scathing verses to communicate something more than just information; it conveys his rage, courage to speak out, and more personal details than we needed. Although Procopius despised poets and poetry, I don’t think there is any other fitting word to describe him and the book he wrote.  So thank you, Procopius, for writing some of the most moving poetry the human race has ever come to read. 

 

Sources: 

https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/procop-anec.asp

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Secret-History

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The blistering heat of the the summer sun gave way to

sweaty palms barely gripping their

black posters, 

spilling 

frothing 

over with names painted in a stark white-

the low drum of steps on the pavement acted as a rhythm to the chants

their voices

clarion and raw

unfiltered and unwavering

a beautiful raucous filled with cries of

impatience,

exasperation,

indignation,

and pure resentment

all harmonized by the collective call for

justice.

Summer Solstice

Vibe Fest 

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No image can be more evocative of summer than a bright, cloudless June day boasting live music, local food, and the all-embracing presence of community. Festivals, I feel, are the quintessential human experience—a symphony of the senses accompanied by a sort of joy that ingrains itself in our memories forever afterwards. 

 

I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as the opening act at VibeFest, the annual summer festival put on by Max’s Positive Vibe Café, a little pocket of color perpendicular to Forest Hill Avenue. The mission behind the restaurant is to provide job opportunities for disabled folks, whether that be by working in the kitchen behind the scenes or serving as waiters and waitresses to their patrons. It’s a place that has been close to my heart for years ever since my dad mentioned to the owner (who happens to be his friend) that I was a musician, opening the door to numerous performances filled with loud laughter and untapped delight. Needless to say this little slice of heaven was affected by the pandemic, forcing them to close their doors until it’d be safe to open them again, but fortunately VibeFest has always been held outside in the wide-open space of the parking lot. When I was first invited to play, I was excited, but, admittedly, I was also apprehensive. 

 

What if the numbers are staggeringly low this year, given everything that’s going on? 

What if no one shows up at all? 

Is this really as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be?

 

Long story short, it was. The weather, like I mentioned above, could not have been more perfect for an event like this. The jewel blue sky welcomed us with an openness I hadn’t acknowledged since before the pandemic. People gathered in chairs to chat, eat, and listen to me alongside all the other talented souls in the subsequent bands. There I stood, guitar in hand, wearing the new burnt-orange sundress I’d thrifted just for this occasion, preparing myself to introduce my first original song. Everything, down to the breeze that ruffled my hair, the smiles from my family and friends, and the low rumble of nearby food trucks felt so stupendously normal. Such a feeling was incredibly comforting.

 

And so I did what I do best, and what I love best. I chased that feeling through every one of the songs on my setlist, vibrant and joyous and free. I let my spirit be filled to the brim by the languid Sunday-morning jazz of the group right after me and the bouncy bluegrass of another. Looking back, I now consider VibeFest to be a turning point—a revitalization of my greatest passion in my own life and the lives of those around me.

 

Music.

This is the end of our Back To School 2021 issue! 

We have new articles updated constantly, so please stay tuned for changes and uploads on our site.  If you wish to print this issue, please do. We hope you enjoyed reading our articles as much as we enjoyed writing them!

Love,

The Steward Ink Team