THE COMMUNICATOR MAGAZINE VOL. 47 EDITION 5, MAY 2021
The Senior Edition May 2021 | 1
2 | The Communicator Magazine
COVERS BY TAI TWOREK
Presented on our two covers is the CHS class of 2021 almost in its entirety. Usually, the Senior Edition cover features the seniors in front of the same backdrop, as a few days would be designated to photograph the class at school. But because hybrid learning did not begin until May of this year — and not every senior has opted to go back — the covers feature the seniors’ school photos. There is no sense of uniformity, order or predictability with these pictures, which — uncoincidentally — echoes the themes of this past school year. We have had to navigate online and remote learning, grappling with the ever changing challenges the pandemic and the educational environment have presented. The class of 2021 physically binds together the pages of this edition, much like they do within the CHS community. Throughout these difficult times, the perseverance and leadership the CHS senior class has shown has been integral in getting through these circumstances.
May 2021 | 3
THE COMMUNICATOR MAGAZINE: THE SENIOR EDITION Volume 47, Edition 5 | May 2021
TABLE OF CONTENTS
12 The Seniors of CET BY LILY SICKMAN-GARNER, RIA LOWENSCHUSS AND HENRY COLLINS-THOMPSON
The seniors that have participated in the Community Ensemble Theater (CET) have shone in the spotlight. The eight seniors that have regularly participated in the CET productions reflect on their favorite moments and shows as cast and crew members.
20 Leaving the Practice Room BY GRACE WANG
No two musicians are alike. And the five seniors in the CHS jazz band echo that sentiment. A guitarist, a pianist, a bassist, a trumpeter and a violinist reflect on their musical development in the program under Jack Wagner’s guidance.
6 The Luckiest Guy in the Whole World BY ELIOT KLUS, MORI ONO AND JENNA JARJOURA
CHS math teacher Ed Kulka wasn’t always a teacher. When he found himself in a teaching position at CHS, Kulka deplored trust within his students to foster his desired educational environment. Now, after his retirement earlier this year, Kulka reflects on the close bonds and experiences he has had.
8 All Added Up BY CHARLES SOLOMON AND DAN GUTENBERG
Earlier this school year, math teacher Anne Thomas retired from her teaching career. Her beloved CHS experience started with her teaching degree at the University of Michigan and eventually spawned into a rewarding career.
4 | The Communicator Magazine
24 Senior Athletes BY BEN COOPER AND LEVI STRASZEWSKI
Although CHS does not offer any sports, some students — like Ethan Gib-Randall, Hobbs Kessler and Ella Roberts — have utilized the athletic programs offered at their home high schools. Their athletic success has led them to continue their careers in the collegiate realms.
26 From a ‘21 to a ‘22 BY MAGGIE WOLF
The college admissions process can be seen by some as the climax of high school. The task of summarizing achievements and valuable lessons learned throughout high school can be stressful. Seniors Grace Bradley and Helen Schmitter reflect on their application process and advice they would give to juniors about to start their experience.
44 Dear Seniors BY SEBASTIAN OLIVA
Graduation is a symbol of change — of leaving the familiar and crossing a threshold from the comfort of your childhood home into the unknown of adulthood. As one last lesson, CHS teachers share their advice for navigating the next chapter.
108 Staff Editorial BY STAFF
Undoubtedly, the environment fostered at CHS allows for students to grow. And as journalists, this environment is like the perfect storm. As senior staff members, we pass along our advice to taking advantage of our schools’ opportunities to further a dedication towards journalism.
50 Senior Profiles BY STAFF
We present to you the CHS class of 2021. The wisdom, advice and experiences shared in the profiles of almost every senior in the current graduating class showcases the maturity and introspection gained during their in-person, remote and hybrid high school experience.
112 Senior Map
BY ARISTA LUONG
The hard work and resiliency of the class of 2021 is not just lip service. It is evident through the students’ plans after graduation: intriguing gap years, work opportunities and universities. The Senior Map illustrates where the seniors will be heading off to next year.
College Essays BY ZARA GREENE AND SCARLETT LONDON
Seniors share their personal statement essays for the Common Application, as well as their favorite supplemental essays, that they wrote during the college admissions process.
CONSTANTS Mock Awards – 114 Proust Questionnaire – 118
Fashion – 120 Artist Profiles – 136 Our Turn – 148
118 May 2021 | 5
THE COMMUNICATOR ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
BREAKING NEWS CONSTANTS FEATURES OPINIONS PODCASTS
WWW.CHSCOMMUNICATOR.COM @COMMUNICATORCHS Photography by Sela Gur-Arie 6 | The Communicator Magazine
Letter from the Editors Dear Readers, It’s May of senior year. A time to think back to the special memories and connections we have made throughout high school, to prepare for graduation and to say goodbye to the childhood schools, teachers and friends we have cherished. This time has usually been regarded as bittersweet, as seniors celebrate their accomplishments and get ready for their upcoming plans, while saying goodbye to the familiar. Throughout our four years at CHS, many of us have anticipated the festivities of the end of senior year and graduation. We looked forward to our school’s traditions, like Senior Send-off, the Spork Game, getting a parking pass, one last chance to be tug-of-war champions at Field Day, one final Forum Day camping trip, prom and the graduation speeches at Hill Auditorium. But these traditions look different for us. As the Covid-19 pandemic has become the defining circumstance of our high school years, we are accustomed to a change in our sense of normalcy. Our senior year has been anything but traditional. We haven’t had the opportunity to see our classmates in person since last March, and while we recently went to hybrid in person and online learning, we are still only seeing half of our class — if that. This edition gives us the opportunity to catch up, to hear about what our friends and classmates have been doing for the past year, to connect one last time before we graduate. It’s not the same as prom or Forum Day, but senior edition is one tradition we can hold on to. The stories presented in this edition act as a window into the wisdom the class of 2021 has garnered these past four years. Because we have spent the last year and a half of our high school careers behind a computer screen, the growth that comes with being an upperclassmen has taken on new forms. Instead of being a physical leader in the classroom, we have matured under the current circumstances. The laughs, the advice, the memories, the friendships, the tears and the lessons learned by the class of 2021 are summarized within this edition. We hope you get a good look into the personalities, the resilience and the knowledge that this year’s senior class will take with them after graduation.
MAGAZINE EDITORS-IN-CHIEF ZOE BUHALIS TAI TWOREK MORI ONO MIA GOLDSTEIN WEB EDITORS-IN-CHIEF CHARLES SOLOMON GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER DAN GUTENBERG JENNA JARJOURA SOCIAL MEDIA EDITORS-IN-CHIEF LILY SICKMAN-GARNER CATE WEISER NOAH BERNSTEIN DESIGN EDITOR CY VEILLEUX NEWS EDITOR LUCY TOBIER A&E EDITOR AVA KOSINSKI FEATURE EDITOR ELIOT KLUS OPINION EDITOR EVAN ASH PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR ELLA ROSEWARNE BUSINESS EDITOR HANNAH BERNSTEIN ADVISER TRACY ANDERSON
STAFF ABBI BACHMAN DELIA BINETTI ELLIOT BRAMSON SAM CAO AMALIA CHAPPELL-LAKIN LEDA CELESTE EMMY CHUNG HENRY CONNOR MCKENNA DUMAN ALANA EISMAN SOPHIE FETTER ELLORY FIFE ETHAN GIBB-RANDALL ZARA GREENE SELA GUR-ARIE KURT HAUSMAN ADDI HINESMAN AIDAN HSIA FIALKA KACVINSKY ANJALI KARKARLA AILISH KILLBRIDE ELIJAH KLEIN CHRISTINA KUIPER NICOLAS LANGDON MEGHAN LONDON SCARLETT LONDON RIA LOWENSCHUSS ARISTA LUONG REAGAN MASEK MORGAN MCCLEASE ALEX MERCIER NATALIE MYCEK-CARD SOPHIE NUNEZ SEBASTIAN OLIVIA LEWIS PERRY SANA SCHADEN MIRA SCHWARZ ELIZABETH SHAIEB RUTH SHIKANOV ERIN SIMMONS LEVI STRASZEWSKI GRACE WANG MAGGIE WOLF HENRY COLLINSTHOMPSON KEVIN DUTTON
Your Senior Editors,
The Communicator Policy: The Communicator is an open forum for student expression created by Community High School students. The Communicator does not represent the views of Ann Arbor Public Schools. The Communicator staff seeks to recognize the individuals, events and ideas relevant to readers. The Communicator is committed to fair reporting, providing a platform for student voices and equitable coverage. For our complete Guidelines & Policy, please go to www.chscommunicator.com May 2021 | 7
The Luckiest Guy in the Whole World
Ed Kulka reflects on teaching, the pandemic, and 26 years at Community High BY ELIOT KLUS, MORI ONO AND JENNA JARJOURA
When Ed Kulka decided to end his 26-year career teaching at CHS, there was no ceremony. “I just told [CHS Dean] Marci [Tuzinsky], I am done,” Kulka said. “I never stood up in front of the staff and said, ‘Hey, guys, I’m done.’ It just kind of trickled away. Leave no trace, I guess. I’m kind of a big believer in that. We’re just here, just passing through.” Though Kulka has been a fixture of the CHS community for many years, he says he fell into teaching by accident, and late. “I was a mechanical engineer, and I started this business [of] steel fabricating,” Kulka said. “I had, at one point, 13 people working for me, and it was fun. I worked on the shop floor.” After an economic downturn, however, Kulka’s largest customer left, and he began searching for other work. His practical experience in engineering was sought-after in teaching, and the profession offered steady work, so he started teaching in southeast Michigan. Soon after, he applied to AAPS and accepted a job at CHS. His only knowledge of the school was from a CR student he met as a classmate in a University of Michigan psychology course, and as a new teacher, there were growing pains. “I was 40 years old, but still, I lacked a lot of self-confidence in a classroom,” Kulka said “Teaching is much more difficult than it might seem. You’re standing in front of 30 very critical [people 8 | The Communicator Magazine
who] find all your faults. You know, your faults come out very quickly.” With time, Kulka learned to trust his students; he says he had to. “Students outnumber us as teachers,” Kulka said. “So, if I can’t get along with the people in my class, I’m in big trouble. If I don’t enjoy the kids in my class, I’m in trouble. You really do have to learn how to make it a fun place to be together for school to work.” The unique atmosphere at CHS let teachers be their authentic selves, Kulka said. He also appreciated the effect CHS had on students: often, colleagues from other AAPS high schools would describe very different circumstances. “I thought, ‘Holy cow, that’s not my experience,’” Kulka said. “You know, high school is really fun, and the kids are fun, and teaching’s fun. For them, it was really a chore, if you will.” Mutual trust was imperative for Kulka’s teaching style, which often included impromptu pickup basketball games and pre-test trips to Starbucks on State. CHS’ open campus policy and proximity to downtown Ann Arbor offered countless teaching opportunities. Kulka once brought a Geometry class to the University of Michigan Student Union to play pool and explore the angles and reflections that the game involved. “I had this all planned and went over exactly how you’re supposed
to do it,” Kulka said. “And I was showing them, you know, and then Billy wants to get up there and hit one. And he lines up and goes to hit the cue ball, and he misses the cue ball. [And I say], ‘Guys, just forget it, just play, go have fun.’” Spontaneity and fun were central in Kulka’s experience at CHS. Once, he and his independent study on special relativity decided two days in advance to drive to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. Kulka rented a van, and when they arrived, they learned it was closed; he hadn’t thought to check online. “We knocked on the door and said, ‘Hey man, we drove all the way from Michigan in our van,’” Kulka said. “And the guy said, ‘Let me give you a tour.’ So they gave us a tour. We had lunch in the cafeteria.” Reflecting on his time at CHS, Kulka most emphasized his good fortune in finding fulfilling friendships with teachers, students and forumettes alike. At one point, Kulka took leave to care for his ailing sister in her last few months. “It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about coming back,” Kulka said. “The love that [shown to] me — unbelievable. The same with my current forum. I can’t tell you how much and how important you guys are to me.” When Kulka told his forum about his decision to retire earlier
this year, he says he “cried and cried.” “I told them, and I was honest with them, you know, it was just my time to go,” Kulka said. “The online stuff was really, really hard. Gosh, it was hard.” Kulka’s retirement has thus far been “relaxed,” an adjective he strongly identifies with personally. Nowadays, Kulka spends most of his time working out, playing handball and taking long walks in Bird Hills; he walked four miles a day during the months of December and March. Still, he finds ways to help students. He is currently working on a computer program to help students with remedial math work, which is being used in a few Flint-area schools. Mostly, he sticks with his routines. “I get up in the morning, and I read for a little bit, listen to NPR. And then I’ve got a routine where I stretch and do some foam rolling for about an hour. So yeah, pretty relaxed.”
LEFT: Photography by Communicator staff RIGHT: Photo courtesy of Ed Kulka Ed Kulka stands in his old classroom, making pancakes. Kulka announced his retirement in the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year due to the difficulties of online learning. “I told them, and I was honest with them, you know, it was just my time to go,” Kulka said. “The online stuff was really, really hard. Gosh, it was hard.” News | May 2021 | 9
All Added Up
After a teaching career that has spanned classes and continents, CHS math teacher and forum leader Anne Thomas has decided to retire. BY CHARLES SOLOMON AND DAN GUTENBURG
Anne Thomas didn’t originally plan on becoming a teacher. Instead, while in undergrad at University of Michigan, she originally planned to be an engineer. Thomas spent a year at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, but quickly found the material dry and missed being able to work with other people. So, blending her love of math and working closely with others, she switched her major to pure mathematics and got her teaching certificate. During her time in undergraduate at University of Michigan, Anne Thomas remembered hearing about CHS as “that other school.” She did pre-student teaching at Pioneer and student teaching at Huron, but she didn’t get a chance to teach at CHS until she graduated. 10 | The Communicator Magazine
It was her first job out of college: longterm subbing at CHS. “When I taught there, I just fell in love,” Thomas said. “[Calling teachers by their first names] so fit what I thought teaching was all about. With teaching high school, there shouldn’t be a hierarchy. To me, we’re all in this together. We’re all learning, we’re all teaching, we’re all figuring this out. And I loved forum. Forum was fantastic.” Being at CHS was Thomas’s ideal job. But because she was only a long-term substitute at the time, it wasn’t permanent. “I had to leave Community, and that was terrible because if you’ve gotten to teach at Community, teaching anywhere else just pales in comparison,” Thomas said. After that short time at CHS in 1984, she taught for a few years at a junior high school in Minnesota, where she recalls
Photography by The Communicator Staff
breaking up fights — a totally different environment. Then she got a call that there was an opening at CHS back in Ann Arbor. Thomas was hired as a math teacher at CHS but was on and off for a few years. She ended up going back to school for her social work degree and worked a couple years as a social worker in Chicago, her hometown. During this time in social work, Thomas worked helping the homeless and mentally ill. The job was emotionally difficult, and after two years, Thomas decided that she would return to teaching, which she found more rewarding. Shortly after, Thomas spent a year in China. After that, she moved back to Ann Arbor and has spent the last 30 years teaching at CHS. Throughout her CHS teaching career, Thomas has taught algebra and calculus
classes and has also led math support. She’s loved every class she’s taught, but being a forum leader holds a special place in her heart. “Forum is such the backbone of Community High School,” Thomas said. “I think it’s what makes it unique and really makes the learning and the environment more conducive to learning.” Being a forum leader allowed Thomas to connect even more with her students, and many of her favorite memories of CHS involve her experiences with her forum. “Camping out at Sleeping Bear Dunes and just being around the campfire or going on our hike where we headed to Lake Michigan are some amazing moments that I am going to treasure, always,” Thomas said. “The forum trips are such a great way to be a part of a group and just connect.”
What Thomas thinks she will miss most about CHS, however, isn’t any particular class or yearly event. As she transitions into retirement, what she believes she’ll miss most about CHS is all the people — students and staff — that she feels make the school truly special. “I have always been blown away by my colleagues at Community,” Thomas said. “They’re all very passionate about what they teach, and that’s been huge. And the students. The students at Community ask more questions. They ask ‘Why?’ They want to know, ‘Why does this work?’ And I love that. So I think the students and the teachers really make Community what it is.”
News | May 2021 | 11
Robotics Retrospective Three Zebrotics seniors reflect on their time on the team and what they’ve learned over the years. BY SOPHIE FETTER AND HENRY COLLINS-THOMPSON
Aaron Andrews ‘I originally joined robotics because engineering was always something that I was looking to be interested in. I don’t have many skills in the first place, but I wouldn’t have half of them if I hadn’t gone to robotics. It really really helps you understand concepts in real time, hands on. It allows you to have a deeper understanding of things where, even if you build stuff and you manufacture things, you’re going to know how to do that a lot better. You get better overall at all those things when you have practice, if you’re working towards a goal, like a robot being done. So instead of learning from a class, it’s a lot better than a class in some sense.”
Sophie Fetter “I joined robotics initially because I was really interested in programming. I had taken programming classes before; I liked programming; and I learned a lot of programming in robotics. But I actually became involved in the business and marketing team, as well as the electrical teams, and I discovered that I liked that more, especially business and marketing. I’m not interested in going into programming, electrical engineering or business or marketing for a college major or a career. But they were definitely all really, really interesting things to learn. I think I just learned more skills about organizing people and things that I wouldn’t have learned had I not been on the team. Robotics is a lesson in how to keep others motivated and work together. Especially on a project that requires you to have everyone on the same page and how important it is to communicate with other people. I was never directly involved with the robot. From time-to-time, I’d screw screws or put in wires or whatever, but even then I still had to communicate with people.”
12 | The Communicator Magazine
Ben Gonzalez “[I joined robotics because] I wanted to learn more about machines and power tools. Makerworks was a great resource for that. It’s a machine shop where you rent out their machines. I always liked the mill. It is a drill press, but instead of moving the piece you are working on, you move the plate that it rests on. From how you move the plate, the mill will keep track of the rectangular coordinates of the drill bit. It was very precise, and it offered a lot of options. One of my favorite memories is tooling around in the shop. We one made a giant aluminum sheet cross on a chain, and called it the drip. [My favorite competition] was MARC. MARC was an off season competition that we did really well at, and it was very low stress. We got to do a lot of work in the pit. [Something I learned from that] was that we need a stronger emphasis on mechanical simplicity. It was hard to fix the robot when there are five things blocking you from getting in there with a wrench. [One competition], our robot fell over since our lift was too top heavy when fully extended. [In robotics], communication is key. We should also try harder to stick to a schedule. That’s something I learned how to do when I became team leader.”
Feature | May 2021 | 13
The Seniors of CET CET seniors reflect on the shows they’ve done and what they’ve learned since ninth grade. BY LILY SICKMAN-GARNER, RIA LOWENSCHUSS AND HENRY COLLINS-THOMPSON
Rin Simmons Why did you join CET? I started doing theater in kindergarten,because my sister did CET at about that time. She was always backstage, she was in the crew and then for her final show in her senior year, they convinced her to do cast, and she was one of the leads. It was so cool to watch, and I was just totally mesmerized by it. It really inspired me to try acting, and then I really got into it, and I grew up watching the CET shows. I watched them even after she graduated. By the time I got to high school, I still did theater. It was like I had to do it. Which shows have you been in? “Inherit the Wind,” “Love and Information,” “Disaster,” “School of Rock,” “Tempest” and “Working.” I think that’s all. What was your favorite show or role? I’d probably have to say Sebastia [in “The Tempest”]. It was one of my first big roles in CET, and I had been called back for every show. I was always so close to getting the lead and just didn’t get it. That was my first time feeling like I really got a big, nice role, and it was so exciting, especially before we did over Zoom. It was just such a fun character. I never get to play villains, and it was the first time in a long time that I really did. What is one of your favorite CET memories? It was the first time I ever did a show, and we were using the changing rooms. This was in “Inherit the Wind.” The tradition has kind of died down since then, during the last few years it hasn’t been as strong, but my first time, I didn’t know what to
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Erin Simmons stands onstage during a dress rehearsal of CET’s in-person version of “The Tempest.” Simmons played Sebastia in both the in-person and online productions. “It was just such a fun character,” Simmons said. “I never get to play villians, and it was the first time in a long time that I really did.” 14 | The Communicator Magazine
Photo by Lily Sickman-Garner Erin Simmons waits backstage during a performance of CET’s “School of Rock.” “School of Rock” was the last show CET was able to perform in-person before Covid-19 hit. “I don’t want to sound like a stupid theater kid, but I think everyone should do theater,” Simmons said. “CET, especially, has taught me that theater is such a good way of learning how to work together, how to build something as a group, how to take constructive criticism.”
expect. I went in, and they were blasting music and dancing, and it was just such a fun atmosphere. It really made me feel a lot more comfortable, and that still sticks out in my mind. What has virtual CET been like for you? It has been a lot more disconnected. A lot of what I loved about CET was the social aspect of it, which I just haven’t been getting. So that part sucks, but there’s definitely been some good to it. It made it a lot easier to work around my schedule. In a normal year, when we did CET the way we normally would, I probably wouldn’t be able to have a job. It would have been too hard to schedule around it, but with the way we’re doing it online, it’s a lot easier. It felt more like recording a movie, which I didn’t like, but that was kind of good in a way because as someone who really wants to go into acting, it really helped give me some insight into how much more the stage is just where I belong. Movie acting, I just don’t know if I could ever do it. So it was really good in that way. It’s so hard to compare. It’s just such a different experience. It wasn’t bad, necessarily, but it almost didn’t feel like CET. And it’s sad knowing that this is my last year to experience that. What have you learned from doing CET? I don’t want to sound like a stupid theater kid, but I think everyone should do theater. CET, especially, has taught me that theater is such a good way of learning how to work together, how to build something as a group, how to take constructive criticism. And a lot of those are things I struggle with. Also, I made so many friends doing CET. Basically everyone in my social circle at school is in CET. I think it’s just really helped me make the most out of my high school years and find a group of people that I feel at home with.
opening night. We’re all up in that room doing warm-ups and getting all hyped to go onstage. That was always really an amazing feeling. It’s something I’m going to miss for sure. What has virtual CET been like for you? Very different. I love theater, so I wasn’t going to not do it. But one reason that I really love theater is the connections I’ve been able to make with people and the friendships I have. This year, it was definitely a lot more disconnected, which is a little hard, but I’m proud of CET for being able to pull through and still put on a show despite these circumstances out of our control. A lot of it has been difficult socially. I haven’t really been able to talk to a lot of my friends who are in CET, even when we’re in rehearsal together. It’s Zoom, so it’s hard to have one-on-one conversations, or have that social aspect that you normally get at least a little bit of. But still, although it was different, it was also like a sense of normalcy. So much has changed since the pandemic. I’m really, really thankful that, at least in some form, I was still able to do theater, even if it looked very different.
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Mali Chappell-Lakin performs a monologue during CET’s “Just Desserts” 2019. “Just Desserts” is an annual 24-hour theater event where CET students write, direct and perform a series of short plays and monologues all within one day. “I tried out for the spring show my freshman year and ended up really loving it and loving the people in it,” Chappell-Lakin said. “I think I’ve done every show since then. I decided to give it a try and got sucked in.”
Mali Chappell-Lakin Why did you join CET? I had done a bunch of community theater in middle school and a little bit in elementary school and some school plays, so I knew that theater was something that I already really enjoyed doing. I didn’t do the first show my freshman year. I wanted to kind of get used to high school first. I had a lot of friends who were doing it and really liked it, and it seemed like a really cool thing to do, so I tried out for the spring show my freshman year and ended up really loving it and loving the people in it. I think I’ve done every show since then. I decided to give it a try and got sucked in.
What have you learned from being part of CET? I’ve learned a lot about working together, and that even the smallest contribution could make the biggest difference. You don’t have to be front and center, you don’t have to be the main contributor in whatever it is you’re doing, to be important. I’ve also learned the importance of working towards a goal or a project with a group of people. I’ve learned about how every little contribution makes it what it is, and it would not be the same if even one person wasn’t there, or one person didn’t do what they were supposed to do. Do you have anything else you want to add? CET has been a really amazing experience for me, and I’ve made a lot of my best friends through CET. And I’m very, very, very grateful for the community I’ve built. It’s an experience that I think I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
Which shows have you been in? The first show I did was “Inherit the Wind,” and then I did “Just Desserts” that year. Sophomore year I did “Love and Information” and then ‘Disaster.’ I also did “just Desserts” that year. Then I did “School of Rock” and “The Tempest” and “The Tempest” 2.0. And now “Working,” and I’m also maybe planning on doing “Just Desserts” this year again. I think that’s all of them. What was your favorite show or role? One of my favorite shows was “Disaster.” I was in the ensemble, so I didn’t have that big of a part. A lot of things went wrong during that show, but it was still just a really fun experience, and we were all in it together. It’s a show that I don’t think I’m ever going to forget, which is very special. What’s one of your favorite memories from CET? I think some of my favorite memories are bonding over staying after school late or leaving while the sun is setting, or the CET parties, or the bonding outside of school, so we could all get to know each other. That was also really fun. Also the feeling before
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Mali Chappell-Lakin performs a scene during CET’s production of “Love and Information.” “Love and Information” is comprised of several short scenes and does not follow a single narrative or cast of characters, so it does not have leading roles in the way that most other CET shows do. “I’ve learned a lot about working together, and that even the smallest contribution could make the biggest difference,” Chappell-Lakin said. “You don’t have to be front and center, you don’t have to be the main contributer in whatever it is you’re doing, to be important.” Feature | May 2021 | 15
blocking a scene with Ariel, and we were the wolves behind her. She turned around and she was like, “You are all my little wolves,” and she was wiggling her fingers. I love Isabel, and that’s a really fun memory that sticks out to me. What has virtual CET been like for you? I haven’t really acted since. Being a music director, I was very remote in my work in the virtual “Tempest.” It was fun, it was low stress, and the only thing that really stressed me out was when I got my injury, and I still had to do stuff for the show. It would have been really fun to do it in-person, but we made it work. I liked how the songs turned out, and all the singers were really great. So yeah, I loved it.
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Sophia Svinicki plays bass onstage during a performance of CET’s “School of Rock.” Although Svinicki has been a bassist for years, “School of Rock” was her first experience with theater. “I had this idea in my brain that people were just generally judgmental,” Svinicki said. “I had experiences that formed that idea in my brain, that made me feel like I had to brace myself when I met new people. But CET really taught me that accepting people do exist and people who are not judgmental do exist.”
Sophia Svinicki Why did you join CET? In the fall of 2020, Jack Wagner gave me a call because I was in Community jazz. He gave me a call, and he was like, “Hey, I think you would be great for the role of Katie in ‘School of Rock.’ You play bass. I think you would be great at it, and you also sing.” So I auditioned, and I loved it, but I had no prior theater experience, and I was really just throwing myself into this world. The only thing I was really familiar with was the “Rock” in “School of Rock” because I played bass. It was very fun. It was a very comfortable and enjoyable introduction to theater.
What have you learned from doing CET? I think what I really learned in CET was how to let myself go and also [how to] stop trying to process every moment in the moment. In theater, you meet a ton of people. There’s someone new every time there’s a new show. I think it was my first experience of being accepted into a community at a very rapid pace. For a long time, I had this idea in my brain that people were just generally judgmental. I had experiences that formed that idea in my brain, that made me feel like I had to brace myself when I met new people. But CET really taught me that accepting people do exist and people who are not judgmental do exist. It taught me how to balance both having boundaries with people you first meet and allowing yourself to let people get to know you as much as you get to know them. Do you have anything you want to add? I feel beyond lucky to have worked with this lovely group of people in high school. Even if I didn’t get the first few years, I’m just overjoyed with all the memories that I have. I am overjoyed that I got to have them.
Which shows have you been in? I have been in “School of Rock” as Katie. I’ve been in “The Tempest” as the magic ensemble the first time and as the music director the second time, and I’ve been in “Just Desserts” 2020. What was your favorite show or role? My favorite show and role was definitely “School of Rock” because it’s the only show I really truly was in in-person. My favorite thing about the role was that it was a great introduction to theater, as it had very few lines. I had never acted before, but the character was a bass player, and I had been a bass player for years. Something I loved doing was performing, and that was the majority of the role. I was in this story, and I had a role that was important, but I didn’t really have to do a lot of acting and theater work. I got to work with such talented people, and it was just the best and the show was so much fun. What is one of your favorite CET memories? So this one is from “The Tempest” when it was in real life, and there was this one moment. It was in the very baby stages of 16 | The Communicator Magazine
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Sophia Svinicki acts as part of the magical ensemble in CET’s “The Tempest.” Although Svinicki was a member of the cast in CET’s in-person version of the show, she was the music director for the online production. “I feel beyond lucky to have worked with this lovely group of people in high school,” Svinicki said. “Even if I didn’t get the first few years, I’m just overjoyed with all the memories that I have. I am overjoyed that I got to have them.”
Ana Morgan Why did you join CET? I didn’t join CET until my second semester of sophomore year. I had been with another theater company before then, and I wanted to try something new. I was really searching for the community within Community High School [where] I could find a family. Which shows have you been in? I started off with “Disaster,” which is a ‘70s disaster movie mashup jukebox musical. [I’ve also been in] “School of Rock” and “The Tempest,” and I just finished up “Working.” I did “Just Desserts” 2020, and then, hopefully, I’ll do the “Just Desserts” that they’re doing later this month. What was your favorite show or role? I think I have two, I can never choose between them. I got to play Marian in “Disaster,” and that was a lot of fun because it was the first time I had gotten a big lead role. I think it gave me a lot of confidence theater-wise, and I learned so much about myself during that time. It’s such a fun show. I also played Miranda in “The Tempest,” which was my first Shakespeare show, and I really enjoyed it. I think it taught me so much about the world and myself. We were set to open “The Tempest” on March 13, and then everything shut down, so I ended up playing Miranda for a year, which is the longest I’ve ever played any role. What is one of your favorite CET memories? The opening night for “Disaster,” the school flooded, and there was a tornado drill as well. It was 10 minutes before we were
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Ana Morgan stands onstage during one of CET’s performances of “Disaster! The Musical.” Although Morgan had been involved in musical theater for years, this was her first production with CET. “The opening night for ‘Disaster,’ the school flooded, and there was a tornado drill as well,” Morgan said. “It was 10 minutes before we were meant to start the show, and Quinn, our director, came up and said, ‘We have to go to the first floor and do a tornado drill.’ So we all sat lined up with our faces towards the wall, and we started to sing songs from the show.”
meant to start the show, and Quinn, our director, came up and said, “We have to go to the first floor and do a tornado drill.” So we all sat lined up with our faces towards the wall, and we started to sing songs from the show. We were there for maybe half an hour. Then we were cleared to go back and start the show, but on the way up, there was a bat in one of the stairwells. We all went around it and got in places to start the show, and we did the opening few numbers with pest control in the hallway. It was a very memorable opening night. What has virtual CET been like for you? It has definitely been different. I miss the connections that I made with people in-person. That feeling of community, I think it is still present through the virtual format, but it’s not the same. I’m very glad that we have been able to do what we’ve been able to do over Zoom, and I think that we have pioneered these really cool virtual productions. I’m very proud of that, but it’s definitely not how I pictured my senior show.
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Ana Morgan stands onstage during one of the dress rehearsals for CET’s in-person version of “The Tempest.” Morgan played the character of Miranda in both the inperson and online productions. “I’m very glad that we have been able to do what we’ve been able to do over Zoom, and I think that we have pioneered these really cool virtual productions,” Morgan said. “I’m very proud of that, but it’s definitely not how I pictured my senior show.”
What have you learned from doing CET? [I’ve learned] how valuable human connection is. I realized, especially this year, [that] there’s nothing quite like live theater, especially live high school theater, when you’re in these very formative years. I think, for so many of us, CET has been such a safe space where we’ve been free to express ourselves and be vulnerable and learn and grow. I think that CET has taught me to be unapologetically myself and to just live my life. Do you have anything you want to add? Stream “Just Desserts!” Tune in for that. Feature | May 2021 | 17
Lily Sickman-Garner Why did you join CET? At the beginning of ninth grade, I was debating between CET and Mock Trial. They both sounded cool, and I wanted to do something. I did CET because auditions were sooner. I’m not on the fence about [it] anymore. I love CET, and I’m very glad that that was the one I joined. It seemed like a really cool community, and it was really intimidating at first because everyone seemed close and a lot of the older students were very talented. [But] CET has such a Community High School vibe. Everybody’s chaotic and fun and welcoming, and it was definitely scary at first, but I am really, really glad I joined. I think that was probably the best choice I made, other than deciding to go to CHS. Which shows have you been in? I’ve been in every show since I was in ninth grade, [which are] “Into the Woods,” “Inherit the Wind,” “Love and Information,” “Disaster,” “School of Rock,” “The Tempest,” “The Tempest” virtually, “Working” and then three “Just Desserts.” What was your favorite show or role? I loved playing Prospera in the first version of “The Tempest.” That was my first big lead, and I was sharing the role with Judith. She told Quinn she was available every day, [so] he called us every day. It was a lot, but it was so fun, and we would rehearse in Bodley Hall and in Judith’s classroom, and she would give us candy or soda during rehearsal. I was only rehearsing for half the time because we were sharing a role, so I would spend a good half of rehearsal watching her do the scenes with people. I feel like I became more part of the group with [“The Tempest”], which is part of the reason I was so sad when it got shut down, but it was really fun. What is one of your favorite CET memories? Last year, when “The Tempest” got shut down, everybody gathered in the theater, and we were all really upset and in shock. It was nice because at the beginning of ninth grade, when I was new, I was really shy, and I was scared to be in the theater because I thought, “Oh my god, what if somebody tries to talk to
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Lily Sickman-Garner sits onstage during a performance of CET’s “Inherit the Wind.” Sickman-Garner was in ninth grade when CET produced this show. “I feel like being able to be in a group with all different grades and watch and learn from people who are older than me, and now getting to interact with and become friends with people who are younger than me, has been really nice,” Sickman-Garner said. 18 | The Communicator Magazine
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Lily Sickman-Garner sits onstage during CET’s production of “School of Rock.” “School of Rock” was the fifth CET production Sickman-Garner participated in. “Everybody’s chaotic and fun and welcoming, and it was definitely scary at first, but I am really, really glad I joined,” Sickman-Garner said. “I think that was probably the best choice I made, other than deciding to go to CHS.”
me? What am I gonna do?” The fact that [the theater] was the place I wanted to be when Covid was hitting made me happy. What has virtual CET been like for you? It has been pretty good. It has been sad in some ways because I really miss eating tech week meals on the third floor and hanging out in the green room in the dressing room and just being in the theater. I miss those times in between rehearsals [where] you’re just talking to people. I feel like that’s really hard to replicate virtually. But it’s been a really fun year, and I think the shows we’ve done are cool, and I feel like I have been able to talk to people and have social connections and make friends. Because I’m student board president, I’m going to all the game nights that we do, so that’s been really nice. I don’t normally get to talk to people who are a lot younger than me or [are] in different grades than me. It has been nice to get to connect and feel still tethered to the group, even though it’s been a little bit more disconnected this year. What have you learned from doing CET? Oh my god, a lot. I feel like I learned more about myself. I didn’t really do theater before [CET], and [now] I’m doing theater in college just for fun. I feel like being able to be in a group with all different grades and watch and learn from people who are older than me, and now getting to interact with and become friends with people who are younger than me, has been really nice. I’ve just learned a lot about working with a group and being comfortable taking on leadership roles and not worrying so much about seeming bossy when I’m in a position of leadership. I learned how to not take it personally when things don’t go the way you want them to. There’s a lot of really amazing people in CET, and you’re not going to get the role you want in every show. Auditions were really, really hard for me at first, and I [think] it’s important to know how to take disappointment, how to handle it gracefully and not get super upset about it. Do you have anything you want to add? If you’re a future CHS student or future high school student, join CET. It’s g.
What was your favorite show or role? My favorite role while I’ve been in CET was probably Scott in “Disaster!” in the spring of my sophomore year. I made great connections with a lot of the people in that show, and it was a ton of fun. It was my first big role for CET, and it was the perfect part for me. Another big plus was that I got to die on stage, which is always a fun time. What is one of your favorite CET memories? I don’t know if I’d call it my favorite, but during intermission in each show, I would have to get a slot machine arm strapped to my stomach using elastic like I’d been stabbed. It was an interesting experience that was kind of fun, but also a pain sometimes, and it was nice to take it off when I could. What have you learned from doing CET? One thing I’ve taken away is that theater should be everyone working together and connected in a group with actors and tech people who sometimes never see each other working, really taking the time to help each other out to make the best show and work environment possible.
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Jeremy Klooster stands onstage during a performance of “School of Rock.” Klooster played the character of Ned Schneebly in CET’s production of “School of Rock.” “Theater should be everyone working together and connected in a group with actors and tech people who sometimes never see each other working, really taking the time to help each other out to make the best show and work environment possible,” Klooster said.
Jeremy Klooster Why did you join CET? I joined CET because I had already been introduced to the great community and shows through my older brother Ryan. I had done theater for many years already, and after seeing some of CET’s shows as a late middle schooler and hearing stories from my brother, I knew that was what I wanted to do in high school. Which shows have you been in? “Into the Woods,” “Inherit the Wind,” “Disaster!,” “School of Rock,” “The Tempest” one and two and “Working.” What was your favorite show or role?
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Jeremy Klooster stands onstage during CET’s production of “Disaster! The Musical.” Klooster played Scott in this show and was a sophomore at the time. “I made great connections with a lot of the people in that show, and it was a ton of fun. It was my first big role for CET, and it was the perfect part for me,” Klooster said. “Another big plus was that I got to die on stage, which is always a fun time.” Feature | May 2021 | 19
plans. Everyone was there, we were all eating pizza and hanging out. We didn’t really get much work done, but it was just a really good vibe because we were all really stressed and we were like, “What’s going to happen with this show?” But we just vibed, and it was a really fun time. What has virtual CET been like for you? It has been really stressful, but really rewarding, to do a cool [and] different type of theater. It has been hard, but I think CET has been one of the things that’s gotten me through this year. Being a part of a school group that still is together and still is working towards something has been really good, and I’m glad that I had this opportunity. I’ve been running a lot of it, so I haven’t gotten the crew experience of it, but I think it has been stressful to figure out a new format, while also being a really cool opportunity to do new things. Video editing was never a crew that we needed before, and now it’s one of the most important [crews].
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Sage Iwashyna stands in the theater during a meeting of CET’s crew. Iwashyna joined CET in the spring of his sophomore year of high school as a member of the sets crew. “I think almost all of my leadership skills I’ve learned from mentors within CET. [I’ve learned] how to take a group of people and make them a family,” Iwashyna said. “When you go into a show, it’s a hodgepodge group of folks who haven’t worked together before, and finding a way to connect with those folks and work together is super rewarding and one of my favorite things, which I learned through CET.”
What have you learned from doing CET? I think almost all of my leadership skills I’ve learned from mentors within CET. [I’ve learned] how to take a group of people and make them a family. When you go into a show, it’s a hodgepodge group of folks who haven’t worked together before, and finding a way to connect with those folks and work together is super rewarding and one of my favorite things, which I learned through CET.
Sage Iwashyna Why did you join CET? I actually have a bit of a traumatic CET origin story. [During] my freshman year, and going into semester one [of] sophomore year, I was dual enrolled. I had to have all of my CHS classes, which were all my core classes, in the morning, and I got 127 as my number for registration. So I got in [the theater], and there were no English classes. I had my third ever panic attack, and I ended up in Quinn’s theater production class, which meant that I would just come and work on the show with the tech department, which is how I got into theater. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to use a drill. That first day, sets was the last [crew] in the theater. I got placed with sets, and here I am, two years later. Which shows have you been in? “Love and Information”; “Disaster! The Musical”; “Just Desserts” 2019; “School of Rock”; “The Tempest,” both iterations; “Just Desserts” 2020 and then now, “Working.” What was your favorite show? “School of Rock,” hands down. I think the set was really cool to build. I loved working on that set. I think when we were actually doing the show, the vibes backstage were really fun and light. It was a show that had a lot of problems, but it was one of the first shows [that] I had a leadership position in for CET, and it was really fun. What is one of your favorite CET memories? I think one of them has to be when we had two snow days during “School of Rock.” [During] the second [snowday], most of the running crew came over to my house to go over the running 20 | The Communicator Magazine
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Sage Iwashyna stands in the theater with CET tech director Mitchel Dipzinski. Iwashyna was the student tech director for both the in-person and online versions of “The Tempest.” “It has been really stressful, but really rewarding, to do a cool [and] different type of theater. It has been hard, but I think CET has been one of the things that’s gotten me through this year,” Iwashyna said. “Being a part of a school group that still is together and still is working towards something has been really good, and I’m glad that I had this opportunity.”
Evan Rago Why did you join CET? I’d always liked theater. I had done theater in middle school, and I had been in music in elementary school. I had enjoyed theater, and I wanted to be a part of it. I saw CET and was like, “Hey, here’s my chance.” And then I went to the mass meeting for that year’s musical, which was “Into the Woods.” [But] then I [decided not to be] a part of that. I went and saw [“Into the Woods”], and it was really good, and people were having a good time, and I wanted to be a part of CET more. Then that spring, I did “Inherit the Wind,” and I’ve been doing CET plays ever since. Which shows have you been in? “Inherit the Wind,” “Love and Information,” “School of Rock,” “The Tempest,” “Working” and three different “Just Desserts.” What was your favorite show or role? I really enjoyed being Caliban in “The Tempest” last spring and this fall. It went online, which was not excellent, but before that, it was really fun because Shakespeare plays [are] always going to be fun, and I was mostly a comedic character. At the beginning, I had this very angry, emotional, energetic monologue. That was shaping up to be a very good production. We had two full dress rehearsals under our belts that were very good.
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Evan Rago stands onstage during CET’s in-person production of “The Tempest.” Rago played Caliban in both the in-person and virtual versions of the show. “Shakespeare plays [are] always going to be fun, and I was mostly a comedic character,” Rago said. “At the beginning, I had this very angry, emotional, energetic monologue. That was shaping up to be a very good production. We had two full dress rehearsals under our belts that were very good.”
What has virtual CET been like for you? It’s all from one perspective because it’s everyone’s head and shoulders. Also, you’re not there with anyone. It’s just you and Quinn and other people in your scene. It’s not as fun for me, and I don’t think it’s as good of an experience for the audience. It’s less personal because [during a play], you’re there and actually have a real perspective. What have you learned from doing CET? I’ve learned that preparation is a very useful tool. There were several auditions that I did not properly prepare for, and I did not do very well in those auditions and landed roles that I did not enjoy as much and did not have as many lines as I would have liked. And then I prepared a good audition, and I put time into it, and I landed the role I wanted. I kind of forgot that in this most recent play, “Working.” I didn’t read the script as much as I should have, and I think that has damaged the scenes I did somewhat. So preparation is pretty useful.
Photo courtesy of Margie Morris Evan Rago stands onstage during CET’s production of “Inherit the Wind.” “Inherit the Wind was the first CET production Rago participated in. “If you’re young, and you’re reading this and have not done CET and want to try it, do so,” Rago said. “It has been a good experience. This year, CET is doing ‘Just Desserts.’ It’s a very, very small time commitment, and it’s been fun in the past. It’s significantly less formal than our previous shows, and it’s a good way to get introduced to CET.”
Do you have anything you want to add? If you’re young, and you’re reading this and have not done CET and want to try it, do so. It has been a good experience. This year, CET is doing “Just Desserts.” It’s a very, very small time commitment and it’s been fun in the past. It’s significantly less formal than our previous shows and it’s a good way to get introduced to CET. Feature | May 2021 | 21
Leaving the Practice Room
Seniors leaving the jazz program reflect on their experiences. BY GRACE WANG
From his first gig freshman year, to the last live-streamed online concert, Rowan Tucker-Meyer has loved the CHS jazz program. He feels prepared as he leaves CHS to pursue a college jazz education due to the experiences he had. “I’ve just learned so much,” TuckerMeyer said. “I’ve grown a lot as a musician. And of course, it’s set me on this certain path in my college career. It’s made me very excited and interested in something I probably would not have been so much interested in otherwise.” Performing was the highlight of TuckerMeyer’s time in the program. The external
22 | The Communicator Magazine
practice of going to gigs mixed fear, anxiety and a euphoric feeling afterward. Those highs and lows gave him experience that he will use going forward.
“Everyone is always like, ‘Oh the jazz program is so great’,” Tucker-Meyer said. “But it’s true. And I found myself saying things that I’ve always heard but it’s just true.”
Photo courtesy of Rowan Tucker-Meyer LEFT: Rowan Tucker-Meyer plays the piano under a blue stage light. In September of 2019, Tucker-Meyer’s jazz trio played at the Blue Llama Jazz Club.
Ben Reynolds, a guitar player, joined the CHS jazz program because of its design. He saw that the program facilitated individual growth and progress, as opposed to ensemble growth offered at other schools. “The program [at] Community has been made from scratch, and it’s been made for Community,” Reynolds said. “It just works.” The jazz program is where Reynolds found his base in high school. Many of his friends joined the program with him, and their relationships only strengthened. “Being part of something is a huge thing everyone should do in high school, and jazz was my thing,” Reynolds said. Concerts and gigs were also highlights
of Reynolds’ time in the program. While anxiety rose before performances, it was always worth it in the end. “[When you’re] in the moment with other people playing and performing, that’s always the best,” Reynolds said. “That’s what music is made for. If you’ve given a good amount of effort, there’s always a huge payoff at the end. You feel great.” The jazz program provided Reynolds with great performance opportunities in which he learned what things a professional musician should know. It also taught him with the musical fundamentals that he will take with him as he leaves CHS.
Photo courtesy of Ben Reynolds Ben Reynolds plays his guitar. In Nashville, Tennessee, Reynolds jammed on a song with other CHS jazz musicians.
Feature | May 2021 | 23
SOPHIA SVINICKI Photo courtesy of Sophia Svinicki Sophia Svinicki poses with her upright bass. She stood, smiling, from her front yard in April 2020.
24 | The Communicator Magazine
Sophia Svinicki’s desire to further her musical capabilities led her to the CHS jazz program during her Junior year. She entered the program as a vocalist and is leaving as an upright bassist heading to New York University. At first, Svinicki saw CHS jazz as a way to become like the musicians she looked up to. However, as time went on, she gained a more self-focused and realistic approach. “I figured out that I’m not ever going to be the musician I admire out of other people,” Svinicki said. “Not only because I’m an entirely different person, but because each step of the way in my journey to be a better musician, I have realized that I have so much room to grow.” Through quarantine, Svinicki was able to focus on her personal shortcomings, rather than the expectations of the people around her. This opportunity to play alone helped her grow as a musician without the pressure of all the things her peers were doing. “Before Covid, I was very focused on just trying to pass, but also I was more focused on trying not to embarrass myself in the class,” Svinicki said. “I was letting the pressure of not being good enough keep me from actually becoming good enough. And once I accepted that I was a baby musician, I was able to grow.” Svinicki credits her growth to her ability to apply the tools she is given. Her love for the depth of jazz allowed her to fall in love with practicing her instrument. “I found myself being the person who plays six hours a day and goes a little bit crazy,” Svinicki said. “It became the thing that I want to do for the rest of my life. And thankfully, I was exposed to it in Community jazz.”
Geneve Thomas-Palmer, a trumpet player, feels that CHS jazz helped her to get to where she is today musically. Her first two years in the program, while very challenging, showed her concepts and theory that ultimately allowed her to find her own path as a jazz musician. Before schools shut down, Thomas-Palmer was able to play one gig with her combo. From a balcony above a University of Michigan party, she was able to have fun with music in a new way. “Playing with other people, and in front of other people, is something that builds my confidence,” Thomas-Palmer said. “It is something that repeatedly shows me that I can do things that scare me and everything’s going to be okay.” Those jazz fundamentals and real-life experiences will stay with Thomas-Palmer for a long time. She plans on taking jazz classes in college, as well as playing at clubs to help fund her education. Honing her skills through the program is helping her prepare. Photo courtesy of Geneve Thomas-Palmer Geneve Thomas-Palmer plays her trumpet from her bedroom. Through the pandemic, she has found new space to work on jazz in the way she wants to.
Charles Solomon, a violin player, found a love for the community of people that make up CHS jazz. Combos and classes of students trying to learn and create music together made the program for him. While Solomon is not planning on studying jazz in college, he still feels that he learned important life skills. “It helped me in a lot of ways,” Solomon said. “Both in terms of music and also just confidence and my ability to speak in front of people and put myself out there, and for that, I’m very thankful. There is a level of confidence that onstage performing takes that I’m not sure I had as much freshman year that I definitely do have more now.” Solomon’s first on-stage performance his freshman year was filled with anxiety and nerves, but he also learned so much. Being able to hear the other bands play inspired him to keep getting better. “Live jazz is just such a different thing than hearing jazz recorded,” Solomon said. “It’s so amazing to hear everyone play, and everyone in the program is so awesome. But there’s just this atmosphere. It’s unique and amazing, and I think everyone plays better, or if they don’t play better, I feel like they sound better just because of the atmosphere in the vibe.”
Photo courtesy of Charles Solomon Charles Solomon holds his violin outside with a smile on his face. His desire to continue making music after middle school orchestra led him to the CHS jazz program.
Feature | May 2021 | 25
For these CHS students, the next four years won’t just be an extension of their academic careers, but of their athletic ones as well. BY LEVI STRASZEWSKI AND BEN COOPER
Hobbs Kessler “Just give it a try for a season and if you don’t like it you can stop.” These were the words muttered by Hobbs Kessler prior to his freshman year cross country season. Four years later, Kessler has now run a sub-four minute mile and committed to Northern Arizona University (NAU) for both track and field and cross country. Prior to high school, Kessler’s interest wasn’t primarily running, rather, it was rock climbing. However, after his parents inspired him to join Skyline’s Cross Country team in fall of 2017, Kessler began to gradually fall in love with the sport. Although he was above average his freshman and sophomore years, the thought of running at the next level was never a thought to Kessler. However, throughout his own perseverance, as well as the help from both coaches and family, significant progress was made his junior year. As the world was beginning to shut down due to Covid-19, the calls began coming in. This was when schools first began recruiting Kessler, and it only escalated from there as Hobbs had offers to run for schools all over the country. After first narrowing his list down to 15, then to five, then three, Kessler finally made the decision to continue his academic and athletic career in Flagstaff, Arizona at NAU. The Lumberjack’s have won four of the last five cross country national titles, and Hobbs hopes to bring them a few more during his time at the university. Outside of it’s running program, the location is really what made NAU stand out to Kessler, and although he couldn’t have an official visit due to Covid-19, he visited Photo Courtesy of Runnerspace.com LEFT PAGE: Hobbs Kessler finishes first in the boys two mile championship race at the NSAF USA Meet of Champions. This was the fourth best high school two mile performance of all time outdoors. Photo Courtesy of Ethan Gibb-Randall RIGHT PAGE, TOP: Ethan Gibb-Randal competes for the Skyline crew team. He sits second from the front. Photo Courtesy of Ella Roberts RIGHT PAGE: Ella Roberts defends the goal for the Pioneer field hockey team in a match against Saline. 26 | The Communicator Magazine
in December and was blown away by the school. Although Kessler is undecided in terms of his major, he hopes to experiment academically to find the degree that’s right for him. “I know it’ll be much harder to balance school and running at NAU, but I know that with the help of my coaches and teachers, I will be able to find a balance between academics and athletics,” Kessler said. Although running a sub-four minute mile and committing to one of the top cross country schools in the country was a big accomplishment for Kessler, this is just the beginning, as he hopes to help win national titles for NAU and, eventually, run
in the Olympics. Despite these ambitions, Kessler is making sure to enjoy and cherish the little time he has left at CHS and has taken time to reflect on his time as a Rainbow Zebra. “When I think back to Community, I honestly don’t think of the classes,” Kessler said. “That sounds bad, but I mean that my memories come from the conversations at lunch, in the hallways and to and from school. I also will think back of Brett because of how understanding he was of my schedule and how he always celebrated my accomplishments. And of course, I’ll thank the rest of the students and faculty that make this school so great.”
Ethan Gibb-Randall Ethan Gibb-Randall began crew as a freshman and is now committed to row at the University of Victoria next fall. What once began as a fun social way to stay in shape is now a passion of Gibb-Randall’s that will bring him to Canada to continue his academic and athletic career. Gibb-Randall hadn’t rowed prior to his
freshman year, but gave it a shot because of his prior experience doing endurance sports. “I’ve always done endurance sports my whole life: swimming, running, biking were what I grew up doing, and I felt that crew was the next step in that,” Gibb-Randall said. Although he began as a freshman, Gibb-Randall didn’t get serious about rowing until he was a sophomore when he realized that if he put in the time and effort in, he had a chance to row at the next level. Gibb-Randall did just that, as his discipline
and sacrifice paid off, and he began talking to seven schools about rowing for their respective university before he finally chose University of Victoria in Toronto, Canada. “I ended up choosing the school because one, it was a little bit cheaper, and also, I just really enjoyed my experience there,” Gibb-Randall said. Canadian Rowing works a bit differently than schools in the U.S., though, as the collegiate rowing season is in the fall, whereas it’s in the spring at American colleges. In addition to this, a majority of Victoria’s team is Canadian. Gibb-Randall is ecstatic about the challenge and opportunity he has over the next four years. However, he’s made it a point to enjoy the little time he has left at Community High. “Especially with Covid, the year has flown by, so I want to make sure I enjoy the little time I do have left before I begin the journey in front of me,” Gibb-Randall said. “Community is such a special place and I’m so glad I entered the lottery and decided to attend.”
and she set up filming for that during the season.” Roberts started looking at colleges over the summer after the pandemic had already begun, and she believes it changed the experience she had reaching out to colleges. “Over the summer, I started looking for colleges that would be interested in taking me on as a field hockey goalie, and I was looking for small liberal arts colleges,” Roberts said. “I reached out to Bryn Mawr, and they were interested, so I had a couple Zoom calls with the coach. He showed me around the campus, and I really liked it. In October, I got an official offer. After I accepted the offer, I still had to go through
the application process for the school. I did [the] early decision one, which is binding, and I got in in December and have been committed since then.” Despite moving on to her college athletic career, Roberts still feels she has learned a lot from playing in high school. “I’ve always done sports, so for me, doing sports was always a really good way to keep me motivated, learn to manage my time and, honestly, just become a better person,” Roberts said. “Being in team sports and being a captain comes with some responsibilities, so I think it has taught me a lot about communication and leadership.”
Ella Roberts Ella Roberts plans to attend Bryn Mawr College, where she will continue her successful field hockey career She currently plays for Pinnacle, an Ann Arbor travel team, and in the fall, she plays as the starting varsity goalie for Pioneer. Roberts has been playing field hockey since seventh grade, later than most of her teammates. She was unable to play travel field hockey last year because of a sprained ankle. Despite this, for the past two years, Roberts has gone with her team to compete in the state finals. She believes this may be a part of the reason that she was able to secure a spot on the college team. “My junior year and senior year, I was the starting Varsity goalie, so I had a lot more playing time,” Roberts said. “Both years, we made it to the state finals, so I think that helped, as well as being from Pioneer. Pioneer field hockey has been going on for so long, and a lot of places know it.” Roberts still had to work to be noticed by the colleges she wanted to attend, although she feels like the process may have been made easier by the pandemic. “I think having everything be virtual probably helped me a little bit because you come up with these videos, and then the coaches watch them,” Roberts said. “There’s game footage that I had to go back and watch to pick out the best clips, and then there are also certain skill videos that they need to see. So I talked to my coach,
Feature | May 2021 | 27
From a ‘21 to a ‘22 Two CHS seniors reflect on their college application experiences and offer advice to juniors who will navigate this process next year BY MAGGIE WOLF
When it came time for CHS senior Grace Bradley to decide which college she would attend, she found herself stuck between two options: the University of North Carolina, the school where her sister goes, and the University of California Santa Cruz, an unfamiliar school across the country. Bradley felt like an eighth grader choosing her path for high school again. “I was thinking about my decision when I applied to Community,” Bradley said. “[At first], I was planning on going to Pioneer. It was mainstream and big and felt predictable. I knew what it was like, and then I had Community. I thought maybe I should go [to Community], and when I was deciding on colleges, it felt like the same decision.” This is why Bradley made the choice to attend UC Santa Cruz. She felt as though she needed a change after the monotony of the past year, and Santa Cruz offered exactly this. However, between the stress of applying to college and balancing her senior year online, she also knew that she needed a break from the academic obligations filling up her life. After considering all her options and deliberating, she decided to take a gap year. She plans to take a year to work and live in California before starting her undergraduate education at UC Santa Cruz. “I think it’ll be good to just get some time off from school and do something different,” Bradley said. “I’ll be able to kind of reboot and be ready to go for more school.” For another CHS senior, the college decision came much more easily. Helen Schmitter knew by her sophomore year that she wanted to play field hockey in college. After meeting with one of her coaches to learn about her options, she began the recruiting process. “[My coach] was encouraging but realistic about everything, and I think that’s the best way to go about your future,” Schmitter said. “Have high hopes, but understand your options and understand your skills. Understand where you fit in.” 28 | The Communicator Magazine
After researching schools and emailing coaches, Schmitter learned about the University of Rochester. Her mom was the first one to mention it as an option, and after doing her own research, Schmitter reached out to the coach. She was invited on an overnight visit, where she realized that this was the college she wanted to attend. “After meeting the team, playing there, meeting the coach and learning about the high standard of academics they have, it all kind of fell into place perfectly and just felt right,” Schmitter said.
Photo courtesy of Grace Bradley Bradley stands for a photo in the University of North Carolina (UNC) stadium. She has visited campus several times over the past few years, traveling to see her sister, who attends college at UNC. “College applications made me so anxious ever since the beginning of my junior year,” Bradley said. “My sister was really helpful because she’d gone through it [before].”
When she began her senior year, Schmitter was glad to only have to worry about one application. However, her process was certainly not without its challenges. “I was really, really lucky in that I only had to apply to one school, but it was also really hard because I knew I was at this one school, so it felt like I was done,” Schmitter said. This made it even more difficult to manage the work of her senior year all while completing her application to the University of Rochester. Schmitter felt a lack of
motivation that made it difficult to stay on top of her work. However, guidance from her parents and coaches helped her make it through this time. She hopes to share this advice with juniors who will have to decide their path after high school next year. “Give yourself little rewards,” Schmitter said. “This is really hard. Know that it’s really hard, and everyone is freaking out all the time, and you’re not alone in your freaking out. Do your best to take care of yourself while this is happening.” She also wished she would have known how important it was to seek advice from the adults in her life when she first started thinking about college. “My parents were looking at schools with me and bringing up possibilities that I didn’t even think of, so give the adults the benefit of the doubt because I know a lot of people are kind of cynical about what the
adults in their lives say,” Schmitter said. Bradley shared many similar struggles throughout her experience applying to college. After making it through this process during such a difficult time, she wants juniors to know that junior and senior year can be very overwhelming times, but it is important to avoid getting too wrapped up in the expectations of those around you. “In Ann Arbor, you can fall into a trap of feeling so much outside pressure and feeling so competitive against other people because everyone is such a high achiever,” Bradley said. “Just remind yourself that you’re 16 years old, and you’re not supposed to have anything together. Be confident in the decisions that you’re making for whatever reason that you’re making them.”
Photo courtesy of Helen Schmitter Schmitter plays in a Huron field hockey game. Her high school field hockey experience was one of the biggest factors in determining her college choice. “I started playing club field hockey my freshman year and only decided that I wanted to play college, or even realized that was a possibility, my sophomore year,” Schmitter said.
Feature | May 2021 | 29
Where the class of 2021 began...
S E L A GUR-ARIE 30 | The Communicator Magazine
LANDONI-SAVAS U K E TT W OAR E KI Feature | May 2021 | 31
AMEERA M I L O S A L M A NC H A L I N 32 | The Communicator Magazine
ZS CA C K F I N N HUELER K I L B R I D E Feature | May 2021 | 33
J O E Y S I M O N 34 | The Communicator Magazine
...to where they are now. ELLIOT HAUSMAN
Feature | May 2021 | 35
Seniors share the essays from their college applications. BY SCARLETT LONDON AND ZARA GREENE
Lindsay Falbo — The Common Application
I have learned many lessons about life through caring for my animals. Animals in the most dire situations have shown me that they still want to live and succeed with some nurturing. An example of this is a frog I found a few years ago at a horseback riding camp. He was lying in the grass, dismembered with only one intact limb. The injuries were likely the result of a lawnmower or predator-inflicted injury. He was truly a sorry sight. My friend insisted it was too late for him and wanted me to throw him into the pond for the fish to eat. Instead, I studied him and noticed a few things. His eyes were still a glimmering amber, mottled with black. They were alert, they were focused, and they were alive. He was still trying to move. I saw the heart of a warrior in that little frog — he seemed extraordinarily calm for the injuries he sustained. Despite the persistence of my skeptical friend, I refused to let the injured frog be36 | The Communicator Magazine
come fish food. I hid him in a bucket behind a nearby tree to keep him safe until the end of the camp day. Once I got him home, I set him up in a sterile hospital tank. I did research on frog forums online and got to work. I sanitized his tank to prevent bacteria buildup, cleansed his wounds and applied antibacterial cream several times a day. In a few weeks, I could see that his wounds were healing. In a few months, his newly formed frog-skin was turning from red to pink, to the swamp greens and bark browns that frogs normally adorn. Like the trees change with the passing seasons, my little friend was returning to his healthy colors. I named him Autumn. I made a modified enclosure for my differently-abled frog friend and once he healed, his personality shined. At first, I had to tong-feed him crickets as he built up his muscles and learned to navigate. I kept his water pool shallow and included rocks he could rest on as he relearned to swim. Soon
enough, Autumn was catching crickets by himself, maneuvering from land to water, and even climbing onto the logs hovering above his water area. All of this, with one full front leg, a missing foot on the other front leg, a missing foot on his back leg, and half of a thigh on his other back leg. Of course, he wouldn’t have survived in the wild, but he was thriving in captivity. Most might not see the significance of saving a frog, but Autumn opened my eyes. He taught me that there is a certain resilience which reptiles and amphibians possess. I was inspired to have that same resilience within myself. If this frog could adapt to his circumstances, what’s stopping me from living in mine? I started to appreciate the mobility I have after this experience. In the blink of an eye — whether human or frog — the privilege of mobility could be taken away. This made me realize that I should be living life to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow brings. Caring for Autumn further solidified my choice of dedicating my life to helping animals, whether in a veterinary clinic/zoo, educating the public, or working as a conservationist. My room has since become a safe-haven for injured and unwanted critters, where I care for many different species of exotic animals. I have loved volunteering at the Humane Society and the Creature Conservancy. I have even been lucky enough to breed skinks, cichlids, and angelfish! The world of animals is fascinating to me, and I long to immerse myself in its rewarding experiences as well as its challenges throughout my future career.
Leah Dewey — The Common Application spoke softly and smiled sparingly. Her footsteps didn’t make a sound as she moved across the carpet: suddenly, she would be on the couch next to me, resting a hand on the small of my back, instructing me to “sit up straight, Leah.” Outside her picture window was a line of poles adorned with various treats for various critters: bird feeders, squirrel feeders, and hummingbird feeders all danced across the window like Christmas lights. Hummingbird watching was a regular routine for us — mornings bled into afternoons, bowls of chicken noodle soup ran dry, and the record had to be flipped once, twice, or three times over. ----------------------------------
Hummingbirds are small creatures, typically about two inches long. But still, they are able to fly nearly 50mph, their wings flapping at an average rate of 53 beats per second. This is why they are called hummingbirds: if you listen closely, you’ll hear the low hum of their wings cutting through the wind. The only place I have ever seen hummingbirds is in my grandmother’s yard. When it was time to watch the hummingbirds at Grammy’s, she would open the window, just a little bit — so the eyes could see clearly and the hum could flow freely. Grammy liked black coffee in the mornings and Stolichnaya in the evenings. She
The upstairs furniture began to dust over; coffee was switched out for herbal tea; her feet dragged hard enough to pull the carpet up from its stitches; and people were brought into the house to lay hands on her back and instruct her to “sit up, June.” My mother began to scramble. The will was revised, and we were told to get Grammy’s affairs in order. I tried to write Grammy a letter in a notebook she had given me. I hung my head over the paper and watched the pages get wet. She died on a suede sofa with the window open. The hedges poked sideways, the lawn grew yellow, and the hummingbird feeders fell barren. I had never experienced death before. A summer of loss morphed into a fall of shortcomings. My feelings controlled me: clouds of regret loomed over me and blankets of depression smothered me. My
friends grew tired of my tears. My emotions became larger than my person. I searched for ways to occupy my mind. I began spending all of my free time reading articles, books, and magazines about animals and what they do and why they do it. Any thoughts or wonderings I had were scratched on napkins, homework assignments, or whatever was closest to me. Any behavior that wasn’t my own was worth devoting my energy towards. Later that year, I started volunteering at the Bird Center. Rehabilitation centers for songbirds are uncommon because most professionals deem them too fragile to even bother helping at all. I was responsible for birds that fit into the palm of my hand. Nothing had ever been so humbling, terrifying, and comforting at the same time. Birds came in injured, orphaned, or malnourished. Taking care of them was critical as their bodies needed to be handled delicately. I nurtured each bird as if it were the last one on the planet. For birds, learning and problem solving is a way to relieve boredom and distract them from what can be intimidating and upsetting surroundings. It was the same for me. I was able to heal myself by helping them heal. In hindsight, it was my days spent at Grammy’s that taught me the observational skills and patience necessary for animal care. I was a dynamic and rowdy child: sitting still and quietly observing was not easy for me. All I needed was a hand rested on my knee to stifle my shifts and squirms. Turns out, that’s what most animals need, too, a gentle hand to calm, comfort, and support.
Max Klarman — The Common Application After a late-August cross country meet, my team headed to Washtenaw Dairy for celebratory ice cream. I had finished second out of over 300 runners in the junior varsity race that day, and had even run faster than several teammates in the varsity race. I should add that, although I was going to be a junior, this was my first high school cross country meet ever. I felt great about how it had gone. And I really liked hanging out with some of the other nerdy and goofy guys on the team. But it wouldn’t last. I was already planning to quit the team. I know that sounds bad. Why would I quit when I had just started? I was already committed to my school’s
theater program, Community Ensemble Theatre. CET was my main extracurricular activity. I’d been a cast member in every single show during my freshman and sophomore years. The director, Quinn Strassel, was the main reason I was so committed. His talents, optimism, and outgoing demeanor inspired me. Even though I was only in the ensemble, Quinn made me feel special by casting me in featured ensemble roles where I could shine. I’d put all my heart into CET and didn’t want to stop doing it. My parents had urged me to give cross country a try, and now I could say I had. To do the upcoming fall musical, I’d have to quit the team; I couldn’t do both
activities. Auditions for the show wound up getting postponed a week, so I would get to run one more cross country meet. This time, the coach put me in the varsity race. Before the race, he reminded me that this wasn’t JV, and he wasn’t expecting too much from me. The point was just to experience running against some faster competition. No pressure. I followed his directions and did my best. After the race, I learned that I’d been the fifth runner from my team to cross the finish line — making me a scoring varsity runner! This completely changed my outlook: I realized I could make a huge impact on the team’s success, whereas Feature | May 2021 | 37
with CET, I wasn’t growing beyond ensemble parts. I wanted to continue with cross country to see how I could develop as a runner and teammate. But what about CET? What would I say to Quinn? As a freshman, I remember a really good actor who quit CET his junior year because he wanted to focus on jazz, and I couldn’t understand why someone would do that. But here I was, doing the same thing. I was nervous talking to Quinn about not doing the fall musical. I was worried he would see me as a quitter, and I didn’t want to let him down. To my relief, Quinn was very supportive and understanding. He was impressed with my early successes on the team and praised me for having the courage to try something new. That fall, I was a consistent scoring runner on the varsity team. After the season ended, I made a commitment to run every
single day — even if it was storming, or I was exhausted, or I had a ton of homework. Especially in March, when the Covid lockdown started, running became a major stress reliever for me. I’d escape my house and explore parts of Ann Arbor I’d never seen. I even enjoyed getting lost on my long runs and finding my way back home. I built up to 70-mile weeks and felt really fit. As much as I appreciated this opportunity to run independently, I missed training with my teammates and was counting down the days until we’d start practicing together in June. This whole experience has taught me that commitments are important — even though sometimes those commitments have to change. I’ll always be grateful to Quinn for helping me feel good about my choice to run.
Geneve Thomas-Palmer — The Common Application There is always noise in the third floor hallway — students bumping along, the groaning air system. But we stood by Chloe’s classroom, a pocket of anxious silence. “What do you think he’ll be like?” someone asked. “Well, he’s a white guy with a buzz-cut,” I said. “Ex-military. His LinkedIn bio says ‘ardent defender of American values.’” There were chuckles, stifled by suspense. As I entered the room, there was silence from an attentive audience. I had hundreds of interviews behind me. But the interview in front of me was the
38 | The Communicator Magazine
hardest I would ever do. “Why,” I asked, “did you organize the Straight Pride Parade?” My mood was reflected in the room: students, chewing lunches quietly, exchanged nervous looks. I, a queer journalist, was facing a homophobe with a distrust for reporters. Growing up in a liberal college town, I’d heard about people like him — I’d never met any. Until now. “A week [after Charlottesville],” Sam said, “there was a free speech rally in Boston. I went to see what was going on. [The
rally] faced scrutiny by the media: they were Nazis and white supremicists, but if you look at what organizers were saying, they were nothing of the sort.” He continued, explaining how he got involved with the group behind the parade. “I know the media lies about everything,” he said. He said he wasn’t a Nazi, that he was attacked outside a protest. “The media is complicit with their silence. We have to come up with more creative ways to get their attention.” Something dawned on me: the news had failed him. Here was a sad man, afraid and seeking affirmation by the media, which had cast him aside. Had other reporters told his story, he might not have organized the parade, might not have decried the news; his group might not have been created. I listened respectfully to his outrageous claims of heterosexual values being under attack, the systematic erosion of family, straights being an oppressed majority. When the interview finished, one thought began to pester me: “What was I going to write?” I am a lesbian who has fought against history, society and my own self-sabotaging instincts to obtain a shaky sense of pride. Sam is a man who stands for everything I stand against; he hates the media, yet trusted me. I had to combine our stories into an article without losing Sam’s trust. I combed through memories of my coming out, researched historical LGBTQ+
oppression, and discussed the matter with everyone around me. The advice I got was varied: condemn him, tell only his story, cut him out. In the end, it was my own voice I had to listen to. Those memories made me acknowledge my journey towards pride in my identity. I thought about hardship I’d had as a lesbian in a society where I don’t have equal rights, where I worry for my safety, and where my mere existence is considered wrong — a crime before 1991. When I recognized that,
I knew I had my answer. Sam’s voice matters. My article gave him a voice, but he did not have to work for his pride the way queer people have. I juxtaposed his concerns with issues some queer people face daily: conversion therapy, fear of physical danger, rejection from friends and family. The story was posted to our website. Everyone else had read it — friends, family, teachers — but my fingers still shook as I sent the link. I waited, imagining the worst: my face, photoshopped with devil’s horns
and hellfires on Sam’s website, just another poster child for the lying reporters, double-crossing dykes. I was leaving therapy, elevator doors shuttering closed, when it happened. “Email from Sam,” my phone read. The elevator creaked, but again I was in a pocket of anxious silence, except for the rhythmic hammering of my heart. I looked down and tapped the mail icon. “Thank you,” was all he said.
Lulu Bogun — The Common Application “A… A… Are you German?” the professor asked the aliens in The Fifth Element — a movie my parents adored when I was growing up. I always hated that movie, but now find myself quoting it all the time. I often ask myself the same question: Am I German? My parents are; I speak German, but I was born and grew up in Michigan. I grew up living German culture, reading German books, eating and cooking German food — but does that make me German? Among my fondest memories are the smell of warm buttered pretzels in the Frankfurt airport and Easter egg hunting at my grandmother’s house in Germany. I vividly remember waiting in line, exhausted from a long flight full of movies, for a rental car from Sixt in the fluorescent orange airport kiosk, wondering how long it could possibly take two adults to rent one car. Before I was too big, I would sit on top of my dad’s suitcase, listening to him converse with the car rental workers who always wore orange and black striped bow ties. Flying down the Autobahn afterwards, listening to SWR3 (German pop radio) while anticipating our arrival at my grandparents’ house, felt like coming home. Despite, or perhaps because of being immersed in German culture growing up, I struggled with my cultural identity. Both of my parents are German and speak the language fluently, so I always felt pressure to eventually marry someone German and have German-speaking kids. My parents would never put this pressure on me, but I have always put it on myself to make them proud and continue our German heritage. Because of this manufactured weight, for much of my childhood I rejected my German side and spoke German with my family members as little as possible. I did this so that I could try to avoid the anxieties I
had about not knowing where I fit in. Much to my eight-year-old self’s chagrin, I’m able to speak decent German with very little accent and can understand pretty much everything. My father would always try and make me speak German, saying that the language is the key to a culture, and stating that if I didn’t learn a second language by age 11, I would never be able to speak it without accent. At this point, I’d hate to give my father the satisfaction of being right, but looking back it, may have been wiser to take his advice. Could my German actually have gotten better? Would I feel more comfortable straddling two cultural identities? Even though the time has passed, my doubt over my choice still lingers. Growing up, my family did things differently than most of my peers. We opened Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, put candles on our tree instead of lights, and we put a high priority on having dinner together, eating German food. For a long time, I
was embarrassed by all of the things we did differently than my American classmates, that is until I got to high school. I was given the amazing opportunity to attend Community High School, where diversity and other people’s differences are celebrated. I was able to take a German cooking class with my mom and received credit for it as a Community Resource, during which she taught me all the family recipes that were passed down from generation to generation. I was also able to take a German class at the University of Michigan. I learned that I don’t need to be just German or just American, but rather that I can have both cultures in my life without one taking away from the other. I learned that although my brother and I are the first in my family to live our entire lives so far in the United States of America, that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different. And different is good.
Feature | May 2021 | 39
Lily Sickman-Garner — The Common Application
Robin has that classic toddler smile: showing off all her teeth, eyes so squinted they’re practically closed. She has a pink barrette in her hair and pink flowers painted on both her cheeks. She’s wearing a velvety red dress that used to be mine. This photo is framed on my dresser. I’m maybe three, looking up into the camera, a little bewildered. I’m wearing a red dress, my shoulder-length hair cut into bangs I don’t remember. Robin has this photo on her desk. Hanging in the upstairs landing is a photo of us together, taken a few hours after she was born. I’m holding her like she’s
made of glass, beaming down at her tiny head with attentive adoration. After that day, I think I forgot what it was like to be an only child. I latched onto the identity of “older sister” immediately and molded my personality accordingly. Robin was always more comfortable in a crowd than I was. When we’d sit outside with our friends playing “who’s most likely to . . . ,” they said she’d end up as a singer or a movie star. I was told I’d make a good teacher, or writer, or therapist, or, on rare occasions, lawyer — never mind that I loved to sing and act. For most of my life, I’ve clung to what I thought was the best version of myself, trying to keep anyone from seeing me in a negative light. I was scared of most of the girls in my middle school, scared of failing, scared of letting people down, scared of being judged. I remember walking through the busy halls of my school, forcing myself to seem casual, despite the overwhelming urge to bow my head and hunch my shoulders. When I first auditioned to play Little Red Riding Hood in my high school theater group’s production of ‘Into the Woods,’ I was fourteen, only a week into high school, and petrified. I had gone to the same school with the same people since kindergarten, and standing in front of a row of strangers whose job it was to evaluate my performance felt awful. Right before I was supposed to sing, my mind went blank. I remember sitting on the ground outside the school afterwards, crying on the phone to
my parents. As intimidating as the experience was, going to that audition was the best choice I’ve ever made. Taped up on my closet door is a photo from our fall show last year, ‘School of Rock.’ It was taken during my favorite number. It wasn’t choreographed, and our singing came out more like shouting, but I’m glad someone caught that moment on camera. Now, rehearsal is the highlight of my day, and I’m currently theater student board president. This group has made me want to take more risks, to take up space in the world, to throw myself into the things I’m passionate about. Since starting high school, I’ve learned to let go a little bit: to recognize that failure is part of life, and that the only way to grow is to take risks. I’m maybe a little more lighthearted; I don’t take myself quite as seriously. My sister, though, remains an absolute constant in my life. I’m more honest with her than I am with anyone else. I found someone who accepts me entirely when I was three years old. When I look at my dresser, the first thing I see is the photo of Robin. It’s one of the last things I’ll pack when I leave for college, and one of the first things I’ll place on my new desk or bedside table. It’s reassuring to have a printed-out photo of someone, and to know they have one of you. It marks permanence. It says we’ll always be in each other’s lives, no matter where we go or who we become.
Gordon Lewis — The Common Application My happiness turned to helplessness when I checked my phone at the red light. The world around me no longer mattered as I made sure I really saw the title, “The Man Box,” under the list of winning narratives. I had just won a New York Times writing contest — but I had to force myself to smile. High school had frequently felt like a period of competition among my friends: who had better grades, who had bigger muscles, who had a girlfriend, the list goes on. We were all pursuing the socially constructed idea of what a man should be. Flaws and stigmatized emotions were, for the most 40 | The Communicator Magazine
part, not to be discussed. Instead they were best remedied through a mask that you put on when you were not alone. At the start of my junior year, for my creative writing class, I wrote a story about a difficult conversation I had with my friend after his parents got divorced, and I ended up submitting it to a New York Times personal narrative contest with the expectation of never hearing back from them. Four months later, long after the contest slipped my mind, I found myself sitting at that red light. With past accomplishments pride came
easily. But this contest was different. I found myself struggling to even tell my family about it. I knew that the word would get out eventually, but I did not want another soul to know. The thought alone terrified me. The thought of my narrative — whose basis is the confession that I have suppressed sorrow, sadness, stress, anxiety, and worries — becoming public terrified me. The fact that my mask was going to be ripped off terrified me. My narrative’s reception came as expected: It was met with a myriad of support and congratulations, but I clouded the joy
with my own insecurity. I promptly refused any requests to read it aloud in my classes, thinking that this would somehow dissociate the content from myself. It was not until my piece was presented and discussed in Forum that my perspective changed: I thought everyone’s eyes were on me, but I quickly found this to be untrue. People did not comment about me and my writing, rather they talked about themselves; they talked about their own experiences and their own feelings. Even peers who I barely knew did not seem to hesitate to express themselves. I realized that my narrative and I were not the center of attention but rather a catalyst of discussion for a commonly difficult conversation. Although the discussion was arduous, my peers joined in because it feels good to talk about your emotions. I had the same
dialogue with myself when I wrote my narrative. Winning the contest felt like my greatest defeat rather than one of my proudest moments, but once I accepted my story’s publicity, once I faced my fear of sharing emotions, I began to understand the importance and the need to express my feelings. I am only 18 years old, but I have already learned that life gets harder as you grow up. I have experienced the transition from elementary innocence to the stress of high school, and soon I will feel the fear and homesickness of moving out for college. The only difference now is that I understand the necessity to share the emotions that come naturally with life’s hardships. The hardest part is just getting the first words out.
Zoe Buhalis — The Common Application Every summer I try a tomato, even though I’ve yet to enjoy one. The garden in front of my house has all shapes, sizes, and colors: Sungold, Brandywine, Pruden’s Purple. Tomato plants spill through the chicken wire sides, too many for our three-person household — especially considering only my parents eat them. It’d be much easier to eat tomatoes, to not have to pick them out of my salad and pile them on the edge of my plate or try to slip them onto my mom’s plate when she isn’t looking. I envy my 5-year-old neighbor who walks up to our garden, reaches his tiny hands through the wire, and grabs a ripe tomato as he passes our house. It’d be much easier if I didn’t keep trying them. But it’s a tomato-centric world, and part of me wants to fit in — thinks I can fit in. But I’m starting to realize, maybe I don’t have to. Since my freshman year, I’ve been a member of my school’s mock trial team. We spend most nights on the third floor of Community High School, reviewing case materials, having animated debates, and learning basic acting skills. It’s my favorite place to be. One of the most important things we practice is reading judges’ reactions and adjusting our strategy, so we don’t make objections they don’t like. Given the individual discretion of the judges, we might let some things go and not object due to a fear of losing points. We adjust our behavior and beliefs to the person we are appealing to. It’s a way of fitting in. I remember sitting in the car with my
mother as a 10-year-old. I talked about feeling at odds with the society we live in. I debated with her the pros and cons of using carrots as currency with similar urgency as my refusals to eat tomatoes at dinner. Countless car rides to my grandparent’s house were filled with my idealized world, one with equity and no government control. Now my thoughts are more realistic and less anarchical, but the main idea has stayed with me: our society needs drastic change. It’s hard for me to trust the systems surrounding me when so many of them are clearly biased and failing those whom they are meant to serve. It’s not just in mock trial, but in the U.S. justice system that objections get left unsaid because of who is handing out verdicts. My issues with systems are not only with the way our government consistently benefits only those in power, but with the way others often respond to these injustices. I’ve had countless conversations with my mom sitting at the kitchen table, discussing public health issues; with my neighbor around the fire pit in our front yard, contemplating politics; and in my government class, debating which form of government best addresses the people’s needs. In each of these conversations, I ask why would we settle for this system that we know is failing? My mom, neighbor, and teacher all phrase their answers differently, but the message is the same: you have to work within the system. I can’t stand that response. When a system of governing, sup-
port, or education is clearly failing those whom it is meant to serve, we must fight to remake it. For the past seventeen years, I’ve eaten a tomato every summer, and I’ve tried to like it. For the past seven years, I’ve sat in classes trying to understand why we continue to work within broken systems. I’m done. I’m done conforming. When I’m in front of a judge, I’m going to voice my opinion. When I’m in a classroom, I’m going to engage my peers in imagining what could be. Next summer, instead of trying a tomato, I’m going to plant carrots.
Feature | May 2021 | 41
Charles Solomon — The Common Application
I arrived at my family’s renovation project fresh and ready for another day as a general handyman — or as fresh as I could be, considering I had been up late reviewing SOHCAHTOA the night before. Freshman year, my Algebra II teacher had suggested I take Precalculus online over the summer in order to condense a course he thought I would find easy. With my habitual nonchalance, I signed up with a shrugged “why not?” I found out shortly after the course began, however, that the content of the class I was taking was confined to a paltry five weeks. As the kindly administrator was happy to inform me and my fellow unfortunates at the orientation session, that meant we could expect roughly 6-8 hours of coursework every day. Another summer, this would have been
intimidating but not unreasonable. But this summer was a little different. My father has multiple sclerosis, and the steep and treacherous staircase of our 1920s home had become unmanageable the previous year, necessitating a move. Our “temporary” stay at a rented house stretched on as we waited for an affordable prospect to hit the market, my mother poised like a stooping falcon over the pixelated images on Realtor.com. After months of waiting, she finally got one. There was just one slight catch: To work for our family, the house needed a little work before we moved in. And when I say “a little work,” I mean that in order for it to be handicapped accessible, it needed a total gutting and rebuild of everything besides three exterior walls. My mother was acting as the general contractor, meaning any odd jobs we could reasonably do (reasonable being a flexible term) we did ourselves. I spent hours that winter shivering in the unheated cinderblock shell with my mother, marking out windows and reviewing plans. I shoveled out my still-unroofed room every time it snowed, learning a snowdrift can, in fact, be as comfortable as a feather mattress if you’re cold enough. This meant when I heard the math course would be adding eight hours to my full schedule, I panicked. With work on the house kicking into high gear, I just didn’t have the time. I considered dropping the class, but I have always believed in following through on my commitments. So I cracked my knuckles, complained profusely to my pet parrot, and got down to work. Over the next four weeks, I tackled a mul-
titude of odd jobs at the house. I wrenched off old siding with my favorite multitool, trusty old Bluesy. I dug a trench around the perimeter of the foundation to deal with flooding, hitting roots inches thick and finding an old Hall & Oates “Maneater” concert T-shirt. I shot thousands of screws into our subfloor, affixing the rough plywood to our concrete slab. In between my full-time handyman position, I attacked my midrange mathematics. Unstoppable, for there was no time for stopping, I rolled through arcs and angles, radians and radii. It was exhausting, unending, miserable. There was always something I should have been doing, and three more things I was skipping to do that. I recanted every decision that had led me here; cursed my fate thoroughly in ancient Chakobsa. But I persevered. I reeled off double-angle identities as I hung shower curtains, considered cabinet door handles as I multiplied matrices. When the month ended, I emerged victorious: Precalculus vanquished, the house move-in ready. Now, two years later, planters hammered out of excess planking have become a thriving vegetable garden in the front yard. The living room’s built-in bookshelves sag under the weight of our family’s literary interests. A half-wall in the kitchen has become the perfect base for a Z-scale train layout. As my family and I sit down to dinner, my bare feet resting on the floor I installed, I know that the house I helped create has become our home.
Anastasia Morgan — University of Michigan Describe an artistic event that was memorable and/or influential to you personally “‘Let them eat cake,’ was actually never said by Marie-Antoinette,” our tour guide huffed over one shoulder as she rode her bike. She led our group up and down the dirt path framed by delicately manicured trees shading the way. It was early afternoon, and the sun was bright against the clear blue sky and painted with the perfect scattering of soft white clouds. We made our way to the entrance and dismounted our bikes. “It was most likely philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau who attributed the quote to ‘a great princess.’ 42 | The Communicator Magazine
Though she was a princess, Marie-Antoinette was far too young at the time he wrote the book to be the woman he had in mind,” the tour guide said as she handed us our tickets to enter. The Palace of Versailles: it wasn’t just a trip, it was an artistic experience. Each room we visited seemed to be more beautiful than the last. Every detail was perfect down to the last stitch of silk on the beds, each flower on the wallpaper, and each piece of gold leaf on the picture frames. It was the very definition of beauty.
I swam through the hordes of people, past the dining room, the throne room, Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir, and finally to the hall of mirrors. I tried to imagine what a party on a warm summer night might have been like. Beautiful fabrics of all colors and textures swaying, light catching the jewelry. Luxurious powders, perfumes, and bouncing locks of hair on the people dancing about. Exquisite food. Suddenly, I caught my reflection and was staring back at a girl whose pale Michigan skin now had a sunburn from being outside
too long. Her hair was frizzy and her forehead was glistening. She was a mess. But she was smiling. She was beaming through the water stains on the mirrors that once held the light of a thousand candles. At that moment, I felt as dazzling as the palace, as glamorous as a noble. It was as if King Louis XIV had built everything just for me, just to inspire and help others to see the beauty within and all around. I realized I wanted to do the same with my art. As the sun set, I found myself in the gift shop, running my fingers over the hand painted plastic of several Marie-Antionette keychains. I finally saw the perfect one. A kind smile with rosy cheeks stared back at me as I paid and exited the palace.
I still have her clipped her onto my wallet a year later. Every so often, when I’m out shopping, driving the car, or walking around, she jingles against my keys and bumps my leg as if to remind me that every inch of life should be beautiful, every day more exquisite than the last, and that simply being alive and inspiring others is perhaps the greatest artistic experience one can have.
Anna Stansfield — Barnard College What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited and why do they interest you? Today we have billionaires — in 18th century France, they had an aristocracy. Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, and his 165 million dollar home resembles an 18th century French castle of the kind Marie Antoinette would have been familiar with. This feels symbolic: the wealth gap in the U.S. has managed to surpass that of France immediately before its Revolution of 1789. Jeff Bezos and Marie Antoinette have more in common than the architectural style of their homes; they have both become the face of deep economic inequality. But while America groans under the weight of systemic poverty and oppression, we celebrate Marie Antoinette in pop culture, painting her as a martyr. In many ways, Antoinette was a martyr. But she was also complicit in the upholding of a feudal system that burdened France’s peasants and working class. Why are we so quick to excuse this complicity? Why does
Antoinette get to be our romantic victim of the Revolution? Additionally, if we are to compare Antoinette to our modern-day billionaires, is our sympathy towards her dangerous? Is this sympathy representative of a wider, modern sympathy towards the very rich, and if so, does it stand in the way of true class consciousness? At Barnard, I’d love to learn from Caroline Weber, whose writing on Antoinette’s connection to the modern anti-capitalist subculture “cottagecore” (an aestheticized vision of agricultural life) fascinates me. Additionally, classes like “Social and Political Philosophy” and “Introduction to European History: Renaissance to French History” would help me explore Enlightenment era ideas about liberty, the morality of monarchism, and the historical context of Marie Antoinette’s actions. In this way, I could answer questions about how to critically examine the connection between past and present inequality.
Josh Moss — The Common Application Externally, I looked like crippled Ironman, and internally, I felt like Gollum. What had started as a minor overuse injury in my wrists snowballed into chronic tendonitis worse than broken bones. For nearly a year, the blue removable casts around my forearms had taken away everything I treasured: saxophone, piano, writing, bik-
ing, swim team, crew, everything I lived for. Instead, I iced my wrists 20 minutes twice a day and squeezed green puddy the rest of the time to strengthen atrophied muscles. When I tried to play piano, pain shot through my wrists and up my arms, reminding me that what I loved was gone for the foreseeable future, and there was
nothing I could do in that moment to bring it back. I was so deep in my head that I didn’t even acknowledge the man on the street corner who asked, “Hey, what happened to your arms? And can you spare some change?” A block later, I stopped, registering that I hadn’t even given him a look, and Feature | May 2021 | 43
realized I treated this man exactly how I felt: ignored, useless and broken. I retraced my steps and talked with him. As we chatted about his cats (he claimed to have 30), his on/off again landlord, and his severely mentally ill son, I had an epiphany. I felt connected to this man’s story and wanted to share it to the world
through documentary film so others could understand his (and also my own) pain. After organizing the essentials for the documentary with the Delonis Center (the local homeless shelter), I began collecting interviews with many of the men there. Originally, numerous people rebuffed me, and I spent many of my lunches alone. Over time, though, other men sat with me, probably out of pity, and inquired about my wrists. Overuse injuries aren’t sexy, so I usually said something like, “You should see the other guy.” They’d laugh, and we’d break the ice, but almost invariably the conversations took a dark turn. Over weeks I heard stories of addiction, prison rape, physical abuse, regret, and pain. As the stories they described slowly matched up with the realities I witnessed at the shelter, a world of social and racial inequality, mental illness, economic disparity, crime, and draconian punishment materialized around me. I could feel anger and motivation swirling in my stomach as I heard and watched tragic events affect those I cared about. Until Covid-19 ended non-essential visitation, I worked on the documentary to raise money for the shelter with many of these men. The emotional and physical pain of my wrists was trivial compared to many of the events they endured, but because their pain was internal and mine was physically manifested on my arms, we
Elizabeth Shaieb — The Common Application I tiptoed towards the desktop illuminating the den. Peripherally, I could see a long, skewed shadow of myself on the wall. I nudged the mouse to wake the computer, and there it was on the screen; I thought finding it would be harder than this. It was a long email, freshly sent by my mother to my conservative grandparents after the 2016 presidential election. One section grabbed my attention. “I am afraid. I am afraid for my child who is gay. She said to me, ‘I know that I probably won’t be able to get married now, but at least I have my life here.’ My heart broke in that moment.” As my eyes skittered across the screen, my breath became shallow and my mouth dry. Before this, my extended family didn’t know I was gay. Anger and gratitude clashed in my abdo44 | The Communicator Magazine
men as I hovered over the computer — two contradictory emotions that I felt frequently as a queer person. The anger, usually combined with fear, sometimes prevented me from living authentically. At that moment, I was furious at my mother. How could she send this without asking me? Then I reconsidered; I wasn’t mad at my mom, she only wanted to protect me. I was mad at the reasons she had to send it and simultaneously grateful to her for advocating for me and other queer people, even when that meant muddying the waters with her in-laws. Growing up in a progressive town has meant that I have mostly been loved for my queer identity, not despite it. My life has been celebrated, not merely tolerated. During my senior photo session, the photographer encouraged me to strut across
could bond over physical and emotional pain. Through that connection, we were able to create a community of sorts – eating together, doing laundry, and bantering around the front desk – and through their stories, my world expanded to new avenues of intellectual and emotional thought otherwise inaccessible. My vulnerability, in an abstract way, was a crucial part of understanding others struggles. For me, experience and community feed my drive for intellectual knowledge to create a better world. My experiences at the Delonis Center have moved me to learn about new fields, like treatments for mental illnesses, trauma psychology, economic equality and mobility, racial equity, public policy, and criminal justice, so I can understand issues at a necessary depth to tackle them. The relationships and community I developed at the center drive my motivation to enact change for those I care about and the broader community I belong to. When I lost my wrists, I felt like I lost my life. Now, I’m grateful for the opportunity that loss gave me: the chance to look beyond myself and join a community that I will carry with me the rest of my life.
a major intersection toward the camera with a rainbow flag billowing triumphantly behind me. Complete strangers smiled and cheered encouragement. Recently my grandfather asked my dad, “Has she outgrown that phase yet?” Today, I emailed him my senior photos with the rainbow flag. I felt proud when posing for photos, but that pride is not something I’m allowed to feel everywhere. I have become acutely aware that not all places are safe for me. I have had to suppress my identity from family members while being openly gay in other settings. It’s cognitive and emotional whiplash. Being visible in some spaces means my
LGBTQ peers have a greater trust in me; inherently harmful and dehumanizing experiences universal to queer people also unite us. As a reproductive health peer educator, queer teens come to me with questions they have about topics that were never answered in cisheteronormative health classes. I can safely answer questions that would make my peers hyper-visible and endangered if asked in class. As a student journalist, I write about queer experiences and tell the stories that other media often ignores. When I wrote about my experience about coming out and how my preconceived fear was resolved by my mother’s immediate embrace, numer-
ous peers said how grateful they were for my story; it represented acceptance instead of the usual narrative of being shunned. I’m proud that I can provide resources to those who are usually underrepresented, but in reality, I can not safely be “out” in all spaces. When I opened the computer to see that my identity — as unjustly controversial as it was — was laid bare, my world stopped spinning for a moment; the mere fact that they knew I was gay terrified me. I grappled with the multiple and contradictory realities of being gay in America that day and every day.
Helen Schmitter — The Common Application Apparently, I’ve broken the toaster. My dad yells something about “too much flour” and “shorting out” and “conductors.” Apparently, I am now banned from baking. This does not stop my dad from eating four cookies, fresh out of the oven. I’ve broken jars of sugar on the countertop, sending grains cascading with doppelgänger glass shards to the floor. Countless scars sit on my arms from hot cookie sheets, bread pans, and the oven itself. I have misapplied apple slices to pies, managed to get dough in my hair, and baked for a full 12 hours for a Thanksgiving crowd of 40. It’s always worth it, pulling something sweet out of the oven. I choose every day to be a baker.
Often, baking creates change out of neccesity. Being a baker means adaptation; trial by missing eggs or one less tablespoon of butter than called for. Leaving out two eggs will leave brownies a mire of chocolatey mess with melted butter sat on top, but half of the eggs replaced with applesauce will leave a cupcake fudgy and excellent. Understanding of each tablespoon of leavening agent comes from forgetting it and living with flat, dessicated, (but still delicious) cookies. The opportunity to think deeper about the powders you dump unceremoniously into the mixer is a space provided by the creation of something delicious. Exploration can come from more than mistakes or necessary substitutions. Being a baker means five hours on your feet, raw and burnt honey, dulce de leche, and nine layers of Russian honey cake to say happy birthday to your mom. My best friend made it too, and after academic discussion, we decided the saccharinely sweet cake would be balanced by some citrus. Lemon, or maybe orange. Baking means collaboration. If it’s a best friend over the phone, or countless moms in recipe blog comments sections, knowledge is shared and humility celebrated. One friend gives the tip that bread in the storage bag will keep cookies soft, and every baker I know keeps bread in their cookie jar. Recipes are generational knowledge, based on this or that and reconfigured to one’s taste. For my cookies, I keep the flour to the prescribed amount in my family’s ancient tome, a pea green 1980s “the Joy of cooking,” unless they are for my friend
Emma. She, with her weird cake-textured cookie preference, gets an extra third cup of flour, for less crunch and more volume. Support, advice, and adaptation build a baker. The cliche is also right, of course, the secret ingredient should always be love. I discovered a lavender shortbread cookie recipe, right as the California wildfire began this year. They were perfect to ship to my cousin, his wife, and their two kids under five. They turned out golden and exact. When baked in righteous anger to comfort a deeply wronged friend, they spread and browned a bit more than called for. I followed the same recipe, chilled them the same amount. Baking is a science; chemistry gives a reason for most of the little differences in a repetition of a recipe. Unvaried, though, is the outlet it provides to give myself what I need and pass it on to others. Feelings of impotence can be quelled with baking. I can not stop wildfires, or enact justice, but I can make cookies. I want to go about life as I do baking a cake. If I forget an ingredient, or skip a step, improvisation can still leave it delicious. I want to think about each detail, even when they may seem superfluous. I want to try new things, even if they mean exhaustion, failure, and mess. I want to learn everything I can from those who know more than me and teach those who know less. I want to share something sweet with everyone I can. I want to bake, but I also want to do so much more.
Feature | May 2021 | 45
Dear Seniors, Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. Be bold. Be courageous. Be your best.
Every challenge you have overcome has prepared you for this moment. It has been my honor to witness your resiliency and sheer grit. Take this next step with confidence — you are ready! Let your light shine bright in this world. We need it!
- Becky Brent
Graphic by Sebastian Oliva 46 | The Communicator Magazine
I have the utmost respect for our seniors; they’re positively amazing. They’ve lived through a global pandemic that none of us have ever experienced. They’ve learned how to live with disappointment and live in a place of unpredictability. To keep a positive attitude, to keep showing up amid all this uncertainty and change, they’re amazingly resilient. As they go out into the world, they need to remember that they lived through this super hard thing with kindness and intellect. They need to think about where it is that time disappears for them. What is it they’re interested in — where their real questions come in — and let that guide their steps in life. And, to realize the direction you set in your life at any point in time, you can pivot. It’s important to know that if you start on this trajectory and your interests change, you can go in a different direction. Think about the classes you’re taking, friends you’re hanging around, things you’re doing and whether or not those are adding to, or subtracting, to your life. Remember to think about what you want to do, what contributions do you want to make: How do you want to make a difference in the world in significant and small ways? The other piece is to show up. Show up for yourself and show up for other people. You have to take care of yourself. You’re the one person you’re going to be with for your whole life. Believe in yourself, trust your interests and your intuition.
- Tracy Anderson
Feature | May 2021 | 47
The world needs you to just be you!
- Jack Wagner
48 | The Communicator Magazine
Take as many opportunities as you can to learn new things. Go out and experience as much as you can. Focus on those experiences to find out what it is you love to do. Take smart risks because bad things will happen, but you’ll be fine. You’ll get through it. You will because there’s no other choice. Being on time, honest and personable is also very important; being able to say “I don’t have time right now to do that.” Or, “That’s not something I have the skill set to do.” Try to find humor in most situations and have as much fun as possible. Find a job that you think is super fun. Surround yourself with people you think are super fun, and try to laugh at things, even when they suck.
- Courtney Kiley
Feature | May 2021 | 49
1. Listening. Listening is the only way you learn something new, and you increase your understanding of other human beings of the world. There are many ways to listen: listening in-person, or hearing what other people have to say, even though just body language or reading. So, if you can become a powerful listener, it’s going to give you a leg up on everybody else. 2. Forming connections. Almost everybody I know is in the position they’re in because they form connections. Forming connections with human beings, and learning from their experiences, is both invigorating and uplifting. Most students go to university or work, don’t go to office hours, talk to their bosses and don’t connect. Those connections, for some people, may be the bridge to that ‘next’ opportunity. I’ve learned that forming these connections is extremely powerful. Follow your passion or whatever gets you excited or happy. During the pandemic, often our passions have been turned down a little bit, but if you follow that ‘thing,’ you’re probably going to have much success, whatever it is. It might not always be what people around you necessarily think you should be following, but trusting your instincts and self is essential. You’re inherently different, which means you have something to contribute, your voice is important. It’s something important that, if you don’t contribute, it won’t ever be heard. It’s almost your responsibility to say what you believe. Fight for the things that matter to you.
- Matt Johnson
50 | The Communicator Magazine
No matter how musically talented or wealthy you are, if you don’t have kindness, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to have to deal with difficulties in life, and you’re going to have joys, but if you don’t know how to deal with them in the end in a thoughtful way, it won’t matter. A smile goes a long way. It matters how you treat others. When you learn something, that is something that no one can ever take away from you. When you have struggles in life, learn. It’s the one thing that will never fail you. Reach as high as you can for your goals and your dreams. Even if you fail, don’t settle. If what you want to do is difficult, keep trying to get there. Reach for the stars because you only get one shot. You will make mistakes, but,it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. Make sure that your goals are lofty. They’re not beyond your reach, that’s for certain. You’re going to need patience. Patience is vital. Not everything that pops in your head needs to be said, some thoughts can stay in your heart. You don’t have to share it with everyone. Silence goes a long way, there is more peace in silence.
- Olivia Wylie
Feature | May 2021 | 51
52 | The Communicator Magazine
Senior Profiles It feels like just yesterday, we were in the CHS building, preparing for a two week, district-wide closure. Now, over a year later, the class of 2021 is approaching graduation in an unprecedented environment. We have finished high school in extenuating circumstances, navigating learning through both fully virtual and hybrid models. We have watched historic events unfold from our bedrooms, and we have spent the majority of our upperclassman experience alone. But this is a testament to the resiliency of the class of 2021. Growing up and moving on from the comfort of CHS is intimidating. The world beyond the walls we have adjusted to is waiting to intercept us with realistic arms. But although talk of the future — especially under the lens of a world post-pandemic — is exciting, it would be unfair of us to leave CHS without reflecting on our experiences. Within the two and a half years we spent together in-person, as well as the time we have had to adjust to remote learning, we have fond memories of the CHS community that we will cherish forever. And we also have memories that may be tough to swallow — that may have chewed us up and spit us out, but in the end, we come away with strength. And with that, we present to you the CHS class of 2021.
Feature | May 2021 | 53
“I loved the [Forum] Trips. I think that’s a great thing to have. I loved all of them. [My favorite trip was] my sophomore year when we went out to Howell. I really enjoyed that one. A couple years ago, when I went to Howell with Slauson, I didn’t do the high ropes climbing course. And I did it that time because I kind of have a fear of heights, but I got over it. Every year [of high school] has kind of had its own theme. I did really enjoy my sophomore year. I was very focused on crew that year, and I got very good at it. I had a lot of classes I liked that year and made a lot of friends. I really got into being there with all my friends and rowing with them, and then I kept on getting faster. And it really started working out for me.”
“Forum had a big influence on me. It was [a] good family within school, and I was able to make relationships with upperclassmen — people that I could look up to throughout every year of high school. The seniors that were in my forum every year were super inclusive and welcoming to everyone who came into the forum and because of that, I never felt left out of anything. Every year, the seniors filled that role of being seniors really well, and when I came into my senior year, that’s how I’ve modeled myself. I wanted to be inclusive and welcoming to new people and someone who’s just nice and able to help out in any capacity. I love Connect with Community and freshman orientation because I could relate to those eighth graders a lot. I always felt like it wasn’t that long since I was in their shoes. My forum leader, Tracy, has also had a huge influence on me. She is a really enthusiastic forum leader and teacher. As both of these roles, she was able to support me a lot through high school. I never really had a teacher that would so clearly care about me and my well being at school. For example, she would just text me. I didn’t even know that would happen at all, and I know that for my friends that are at other schools, that doesn’t happen. It’s just not that same relationship. I don’t think teachers just care about you the same way they do at Community. Moe was another teacher that had a big impact on me. He was one of most effective teachers at teaching his class — math. He was super organized and that made math easy to learn. He also made me consider teaching because the way he teaches is how I would teach. He was always laid back, but also really invested in all the students. I didn’t go into high school expecting to love my teachers. I really feel like I’m going to stay in touch with these teachers, and I was never expecting that. It’s a special thing that only happens at Community. 54 | The Communicator Magazine
“I went on the Ecology Club trips and the Ski Club trips — both of those were phenomenal trips. We went to Vermont for the Ski Club trip. I was a sophomore that year, and I didn’t really go knowing that many people who I’d be skiing with. But I kind of found my posse and who I was going to be skiing with for the rest of the trip. They really helped me out, so that was tons of fun. And then I went back-to-back years on the ecology trip up to the [University of Michigan Biological] station, right near Burt Lake. I was invested in Ecology Club from the second semester of my freshman year, so we had tons of fun up there. A whole group went up, and we all knew what we were going to be doing: snowshoeing and cross country skiing.”
“Definitely the thing that I remember the most from spending my time here are the Forum after-school meetups. Those were rather special, and they come to my mind a lot when I think about what I most enjoyed at Community. I definitely value the history classes I took here. They taught me a lot more about how the world works since history tends to repeat itself. In history, we talked a lot about how things that happen in the past connect to things happening in the present, and how to look over our past mistakes in order to fix them. I think that’s incredibly helpful. Heading out of Community, I’m not completely sure yet what I want to do with my life. Going to college without a solid plan seems a waste, so for the time being, I’m planning on taking a few community college classes, getting a job and trying to find out what I really want to do in the future. The thing I’m going to miss the absolute most is how close everyone was. This high school is definitely smaller than the average high school, so most of us were kind of close together. When it’s this way, I think there’s definitely a closer community here than any community I might see in the future.” Feature | May 2021 | 55
“My favorite memory was during junior year. We had a Mock Trial practice at this super fancy art exhibit at [the University of Michigan]. We finished around 5 or 6 p.m. because it was the night before our big competition. All of the people on the journalism staff had to go back to Community, instead of going home, because we had to finish our pages for the magazine. So my friends and I on Mock Trial bought an Uber and went back to the school. There was no way anyone was walking in that freezing weather. Once we got there, they had pizza and cookies, and it was just a super fun experience.”
“I grew up very fortunate. My dad actually owned a plane because my parents met getting their private pilot licenses. I grew up flying a lot, and I absolutely loved it, so I decided I should do that as a career because it’s a great career. I found this small little school in Jacksonville called Jacksonville University that has this really cool aviation program right by the water there. Personally, I wanted to go somewhere warm. I committed to go to the aviation school there, and with that said, I have also been in contact with their track and field coach. They’re division one, so that would be really cool, but at first, I was a little hesitant about doing track and field because of what my future plans are and everything involved. Aviation takes a lot of time, but I decided I should at least try the opportunity I have with this coach. It never hurts to try, so I am going for it. I am still young, I don’t need to rush my career; things can wait.” 56 | The Communicator Magazine
“It’s so hard to choose, but one memory that will stick with me would be spending my time in Steve’s room during forum, art classes and open blocks. I’m going to miss dancing along to the music videos that he plays during those hours. I’ll really miss those forum days and when I could eat on the back lawn with my friends. Just everything at Community is going to stay with me when I leave. I’ll miss it all. To the incoming freshman, enjoy your time in high school because I don’t think you will ever get that opportunity again. And the friends you make now are the ones you’re most likely to keep in touch with in the future. But make sure to work hard and enjoy your few years of high school because you might not ever go back. Coming here for the first time, I felt completely like the new kid, but Community was so welcoming, it didn’t make me feel that way. Everyone was just so open minded. The teachers and the students were incredibly welcoming, and I’m going to miss coming in to see them every day. When I leave, I’m planning on going to the University of Michigan, at the Stamps School of Art and Design next year.”
“The most memorable moment I’ve had at Community was the first time I went out of the building to go get lunch. That was definitely fun because I remember being there and being able to walk out of the building and going across the street. My friend and I went to Sweetwaters, and we sat at a little table next to the window, and we bought a drink and did homework, which was so new and exciting. To any new students coming in, I’d say don’t be afraid to get out of the building, walk around downtown and just experience everything that’s right next to Community. It’s really nice, and if you don’t do it, you’re going to miss out on a lot. During my time here, I learned a lot about the importance of freedom. Most high schools don’t have the open campus, so that was helpful to me to be able to have my own freedom, but also focus on academics at the same time. I definitely learned the value of friendship. I went through a few friends the past four years, and I learned that there are some that stay with you and those that sometimes don’t last as long. After senior year, I plan on going to the University of Michigan, and right now, I [am] accepted into the school LSA, so I’m majoring in psychology with a possible minor in either criminal justice or forensics. Hopefully, soon after I plan to take on nursing school, which is an important second step for me. In the end, the thing I’m going to miss the most about being here is definitely sitting at Sweetwaters, with a coffee and talking with my friends on the open campus.” Feature | May 2021 | 57
“I would say I really struggled with being insecure and having a lack of confidence. But as I got older, and throughout high school, I kind of gained more confidence and felt more secure with who I am. For me, a lot of the time it was my height. I’m really tall, and a lot of people will just stop me walking down the street and ask me if I play basketball. I don’t. But it’s something that I now see as an opportunity to talk to people because it’s kind of nice having people that I don’t know at all come up and talk to me. I just got more comfortable with my height and kind of accepted it more. And I got better social skills over the course of high school, so I could carry on conversations with strangers and that definitely made it easier.”
“Going to Community has made me push myself out of my comfort zone, and I think pushing myself out of my comfort zone has made me grow. It’s made me be more independent. I feel like I have found my people. Having more personal relationships with my teachers where I’ve spent a good amount of time talking to them one-on-one about life, what they did in college and the things they’ve learned have enlightened me and helped me grow. I don’t think I would have been able to do that at Skyline, so I’m really thankful for that and definitely feel like it’s contributed to who I am. I remember I used to stay after school to talk to Judith on Fridays every now and then. I was going through stuff, and I would always have open talks with her. I would get emotional, but she wasn’t just like, ‘I’m sorry you’re going through that.’ She would say, ‘You’re a strong person, and instead of being sad about them, turn them into something that drives you.’ It was just on a deeper level, and I felt comfortable enough to go to her. I think that I’m not a super emotional person, but in order to be close to people, I need to feel comfortable talking about things, not even just things I’m struggling with, just to be open.” 58 | The Communicator Magazine
“When I first applied to Community — I hate saying this because I feel like this is cliche — but my parents were just like, ‘you should apply.’ I didn’t even think about attending, even once I got in. I went through the pros and cons list, and it just seemed like the pros outweighed the cons. I just really thought that Community was a place where I would succeed, not just academically, but in other areas too, like socially. [I could] make more connections with people and teachers that you wouldn’t be able to make in a bigger school. During my freshman year, I would say the first thing that comes to mind when I think about how I started my Community experience was my first and second block. I didn’t know many people, so I wasn’t as social. During my second block, I had Spanish. One of my friends, Dan, I didn’t know him at the time, he just came over. I was scrolling through my phone, acting like I was busy, even though it was like nine in the morning on a Monday. I wasn’t doing much, and he asked me, ‘Oh, you play fantasy football!’ I probably will change again, but I would say I’m more politically informed now. Right now, I’m trying to go to [undergraduate school], and then I’ll hopefully go to law school. Community helped shape me; I do a lot more things just for my enjoyment. I read a lot more now, and there isn’t always a reason to do things, like when I was a freshman. Whether it was basketball practice, sports or going to school, it was like a burden. I’m planning to attend Northwestern in the fall. Hopefully, it’ll be on campus and full, or at least close to, complete in-person. I’m planning to probably major in communications. One of the reasons I chose Northwestern was that it allows you to expand and study majors and theories and pursue a plethora of different passions or interests. So I’ll probably do like econ or business in addition to that.”
“[One of my favorite memories] is Magic the Gathering and playing board games out in the halls. It’s when I was having the most fun and [was] the most talkative and social. [Community] was when I think I changed from somebody who didn’t talk, didn’t joke and didn’t play games with people. It was cool to wake up one day and realize that, ‘Hey, I’m not exactly the same person I was [before Community].’ Nowadays, surprisingly enough, I’m a lot more social because Discord and other apps have allowed me to connect with people. Not knowing people, but simply playing games with them, helped a lot in that progression from being shy to really talk to people — to be open. So I’d say I’ve become a lot more socially inclined than I was before.” Feature | May 2021 | 59
There are a lot of teachers that have impacted me. Judith, who was my forum leader, and Courtney. But someone who has had the biggest influence on me academically is Maneesha because I have managed to get good grades, but I’ve never been that confident in the work that I do. Maneesha has encouraged me in her classes but she didn’t stop there; once I got into college, Maneesha tells me constantly, and instills confidence in me, that I can do stuff that I don’t think I can, and I’m capable of anything. Sophomore year I did the work just to get it done, but now I understand that there’s value to it. Maneesha has built a fire inside of me to actually go achieve things that I can and how the work that I’m doing can be valuable if I put my all into it. Courtney helped inspire me. Going into high school, I was not sure what I wanted to do in college, but I know I definitely want to do something in the STEM fields with the environment and sustainability. FOS in general helped to inspire me. The way the classes are structured is really intriguing, and all the teachers had so much passion while teaching the curriculum, which made it super engaging. I took a lot of interest in science and I could see that there can be so much change. I see their passion, and I know I need that type of energy to be brought into the career field I choose. Teachers have influenced me greatly, but my peers have also impacted me and my time at Community. Finding out who I am as a person — and obviously I’m still not sure who I really am. I was just confused coming in as a freshman, and Community wasn’t necessarily the place I wanted to be. I wanted to be at a big school with my friends. But I realized as time went on that that’s honestly not who I am; I don’t like big settings like that. I pushed people away freshman year that I really enjoyed spending time with because I just didn’t know who I was. It was easier to push more people away than let people in and learn how to meet new people. But now I see that the people that I’ve met at Community have helped me realize who I am. Everyone at Community is so caring, that once I grew strong relationships, I grew as an individual.
“I remember Multi-Culti our junior year. That was pretty fun. The day before we left — you know how everything was shut down — Ben and I just watched a movie in class. There are just sort of like Community moments, where you can do things at Community that might not have been able to happen at other schools, and you just sort of have fun with the people around you. Like lunchtime. I definitely miss lunch because a lot of friends played together on the third floor tables or [in] Judith and Brett’s room. We’d have a little movie club [and] watch movies at lunch. Those are some big moments that I remember.” 60 | The Communicator Magazine
“I think [the environment] is the one thing I’ve been passionate about throughout most of my life. It started when I was learning about how many species are going extinct and are going to be extinct because of what we’ve done to the planet. One of my ‘unachievable’ dreams was always to be like a wildlife photographer. [I wanted to study how] species live and bring more attention to how bad things are for them. When I was a tiny child, my mom gave me her camera, and I fell in love with photography. That and [animals] mixed together into a traveling wildlife photographer, trying to save the planet. I would say taking Steve’s photography classes in high school really helped me understand photography as a career. But I learned that [wild photographers] don’t make a lot of money, so I started to look for other things that might interest me. Both of my parents work at the university [hospital], so I’ve always been really close to medical work. I thought radiography was really interesting, and not a lot of people do it, so I started delving into that more. Being the person to operate the machines sounded cool. [So now], I’m going to Ferris State to study that and art. If I like [medicine] a lot, I can always get my nursing degree right after.”
“On opening day, I remember going outside the church, standing around, and I just started talking to people. I didn’t really know anyone. So I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to go up to some people and talk to them.’ I remember sitting on the left side of the church, watching the Opening Ceremony. Just in the middle of the ceremony, all of a sudden, I looked right down the church aisle, and [an upperclassman] was coming over, doing cartwheels, flipping and dancing down the church aisle. I’d never seen anything like that in school, ever. That’s when I realized how special Community was. The seniors were so involved in the ceremony, and they all seemed so cool, so passionate about everything that they did. A lot of that passion that they had was shaped by Community. Being a senior now, I realized what it was like for them to discover who they were here. I’ll miss the teachers. Just all the people at the school in general, actually. But I’m really grateful for every single one of the teachers that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from. I loved how in every class, even math class, we had discussions, and I thought that that was something really unique and special to [CHS]. Everyone felt kind of connected to the spirit of the school, but also to helping everyone else out and supporting everyone, whether their interest be in art, science, math or whatever. Everyone here is so intellectual, but also compassionate. Next year, I’ll be going to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, which is going to be wild because it’s 12 hours away. It hasn’t fully hit me yet, but it will soon. I’ve been in Ann Arbor 18 years, and I kind of wanted to leave. There’s a lot of people from all over the world with all different mindsets, which is something that’s really, really exciting to me. I’m also excited to be pursuing a liberal arts education because I think CHS kind of emulated all those traits, too. The smaller feel and personal connection between students and professors works really well for me. Feature | May 2021 | 61
“I really liked Forum Day and Field Day — Field Day was a lot of fun. Just going camping — any of those Forum Days. And I remember cooking for Field Day, and that was a lot of fun. We just kind of got to sit around and cook food. We were cooking hamburgers. We were right next to the river, I think. It was always really murky, but I now have waterproof shoes — of course after we stopped going.”
“I think everyone who’s at Community, for the most part, chose to be there. And because of that, people respect Community because it’s a privilege: it’s not something everyone gets to experience, and I think the people there know that. The way they act — welcoming, supporting and open minded — is really influenced by that. My eighth grade year was the last year forum leaders were given their new students’ phone numbers and we’re tasked with calling them to say, ‘Hey, welcome to the forum.’ I got my call from Cindy when I was sitting in my room. That same week, I had heard that one of my [former] best friends had decided, very suddenly, to go to Skyline instead of Community. Cindy called and said, ‘You’re in my forum, and so is your friend!’ I guess the news hadn’t gotten to Cindy yet. But when she said that, I just started crying on the phone, and I’m a person who doesn’t cry very much. I was mortified to be crying in front of someone, even if it was over the phone. I was just sitting there crying to this person who I had never met before, talking about my friend, and I talked to her about it for maybe a half hour. I remember, at the end of that call, feeling like everything was going to be okay; there was this kind person I knew was supporting me, that was going to be there for me at Community.” 62 | The Communicator Magazine
“The winter of my junior year, I had a day where I was kind of sick, so I went to Sweetwaters and got a ginger honey tea because I thought it would be really good. I got it to go. It was really disgusting — truly awful. So I get into my math class with Craig. It’s precalculus, and no one knows what’s happening. It’s the middle of winter, everyone’s kinda like bleh, and I bring in this disgusting tea, and I swear at least half of the class tried it because it was just so gross. That’s just one of the things that encapsulates Community to me. You can show up and be like, ‘Hey want this nasty tea?’ and the people you don’t even talk to in your classes will be like, ‘heck yeah.’ Then there was the time when we were working on the egg parachute project. There were extra eggs, and we couldn’t eat them or anything because they’d been out all day, so my friend was like, ‘Can I egg one of you?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ So during lunch, we went into the bathroom, and I leaned over the trash can, and she took a raw egg and smashed it on the back of my head. It was really funny. It was one of those ‘why not’ moments. I wish I knew when I was a freshman that people don’t really give a crap. I mean this in a good way because I was scared that everyone was going to notice everything about me and that it was all gonna be bad. But truly, at Community, just do you, and everyone else is like, ‘Yeah, all right, cool.’ It’s welcoming and humbling at the same time.”
“When I think about advice I would give my freshman self, a part of me wants to say that I wouldn’t give her any advice. I feel like if I were to advise my old self, knowing how I work, she would try to live by that every single day, and instead of just letting things happen how they happen, she would be like, ‘Oh, but I always need to keep this in mind.’ Yes, there are some bad things that have happened, and I maybe wish they didn’t happen, but every setback and hardship that I’ve had to deal with has also taught me something. I would give my freshman self no advice. I should live my life without any reservations and shouldn’t try to make everything perfect or fit somebody else’s ideas. Something that my mom and I have been struggling with is that she can’t prepare me for everything that’s going to happen in the world. So take it as it comes. Since freshman year, I’ve become so much more open to possibilities in life and different paths that I might take myself on. Coming into high school, I was definitely thinking, ‘Just do some fun classes, take some fun internships and then you’ll go to college and become a zoologist.’ Now, I see that there’s so much more that the world can offer me that I didn’t see freshman year. There are so many more things that I’m interested in, and so many more skills that I have that I never bothered to entertain because I always thought, ‘This is what I want.’ And a lot of people looked at that as a blessing because I knew what I wanted to do, but I found myself closing myself off to other opportunities that could expand my learning in the process.”
Feature | May 2021 | 63
“I started running in March because I think two weeks went by, and I was already tired of sitting around. So I ended up going on really, really short runs that were only maybe a mile around my neighborhood. I was super winded, super out of shape and I felt like crap about myself because of the distance I was going. But trust the process because by the end of summer, August, I was running like four miles a day. I was really enjoying it, and I was loving it. It was a part of my daily routine. And I just became more confident in myself as an athlete, and now looking at it in the spring season, I can go longer because of that prep I did with running. It just became this thing where all of this stress and crap is in my house, and if I leave my house and go for a run, then that’s like a safe haven for me. [It] is really interesting because everyone doesn’t like the idea of going on runs and stuff like that, and that’s how I saw it up until that point. But I will continue to do it once I leave high school and leave my house and when I go to college. I expect to keep running everyday, keep working out everyday.”
“My advice is to do your best your first two years of high school, academic wise, just so that your junior year, you can really focus on your testing like SAT, ACT and other stuff like that. Then by senior year, you're really free to do whatever you want. You should really get your required classes done. I think that Matt helped me feel comfortable my first year at Community. I really had no idea what Community even was. Delia and I were just in the same forum, and he really helped us out with scheduling. I was nervous about my grades my second year, and he was just really helpful with getting me to reach out to my teachers and form better relationships with the counselors and the teachers there. Community has taught me a lot. Community really trained me to be able to do things on my own, rather than being told that I had to get stuff done. To the incoming freshmen, I would tell them that stressing really isn't going to do much for you. And I mean, it's high school, but just try and have fun with it. Community can do a lot for you. I also think that incoming students should really learn about the resources [Community] has and really take advantage of them because they really are going to help you.”
64 | The Communicator Magazine
“Before [CHS art teacher Elena Flores] passed away, she was a big mentor to me in my art. And I’ll never forget, we did this exercise where we had to look at our hands and draw our hands on a piece of paper without looking at what we were drawing. That exercise, I feel like it really strengthened my ability to just do art and draw and notice how different objects take up shapes and lines. You don’t even need to look at what you’re drawing if you get that hand-eye coordination. Just being in Elena’s classroom and really diving into art and techniques, those are pretty fond memories for me.”
“[When I first entered Community], it was a little bit of an adjustment to having all this freedom, but it was nice. I mean, it wasn't hard adjusting; it was fun adjusting. I was kind of impressed by all the freedom I had. I could even go home for lunch. I went home for lunch every day that I had a free block. And I just kind of sat and watched a show with my dad because he would also be home — he worked part-time my freshmen year. I had two hours in the middle of the day to just come home and watch anime or share some time with my dad.” Feature | May 2021 | 65
“I think I’ve matured a lot since I’ve been at Community. Four years is a long time, and I think I’ve developed great friendships and had a good mental health journey. In terms of friendships, I think I’ve grown in a very positive way — people grow apart and we all change. What I love about Community is the freedom and the relationships between staff and students. Comstock my sophomore year is probably my best memory. It was like a music festival, and I hung out with a bunch of people; we played cornhole with Matt, Marcy’s kids were there and it was just a good time. Next year, I plan on taking a gap semester to work and try to figure out what the world is like, and then go to WCC.”
“I was at Skyline my freshman year, so when I got into Community, it was a hard decision to make because I had already felt established at Skyline. My advice to my freshman self would have been to just not think and go. Community has helped me thrive. I am affected in such different ways at Community. I feel like I can express every part of myself. I will most likely be going to a small college in Vermont, which only has about 750 kids, and I wanted to pick a college like Community because it has had so many positive effects on me and my life. There have been so many stand-out moments during my time [at Community]. One being last fall, when our Journalism class went on a trip to Washington, D.C. That trip was so much fun. I got to bond with so many people. The best part of the trip sort of symbolizes Community in a way. It would have to be when a bunch of people from our class wanted something sweet, so we decided to go to a McDonald’s that was right down the road. The McDonald’s was closed, so we went to a restaurant that we had gone to a few days prior. We ran over there right before they closed. The restaurant was empty, and we just sat at a huge table and enjoyed our treats, as well as each other’s company. It was so cool to talk to all of the sophomores, juniors and seniors so late at night. It was a moment from Community that I will never forget.” 66 | The Communicator Magazine
“When people ask me where I go to high school, I tell them Community, and honestly, every time I do that, I just am so glad. I think to myself how happy I am that I made the decision to go to Community because it's honestly given me so much. It's given me some lifelong friends that I'm going to keep in touch with for the rest of my life. [Community] has changed me and for the better. I've become a more outgoing person. I have learned not to care about what other people think. As soon as I entered Community, I was so scared about what to wear and how to fit in. Again, Community just completely changed that for me. I became someone who didn't care about what people thought about what I wear, what I say, who I hang out with. It just became an environment where I just felt I could be like myself 100% of the time. If I could tell the incoming freshmen anything, I would tell them to not be afraid. I would say to just not be afraid of trying new things because you're going to regret it later on in your high school career if you don’t. I guess the biggest thing is just to not be afraid. Reach out. Join things that you wouldn't think that you would join. Talk to people that you wouldn’t normally talk too and be friends with, because that's where you make the most important connections and relationships. Leave middle school in the past and just get excited about a new time in your life.”
“Freshman year, I didn’t do a whole lot outside of school. I wasn't in any clubs or anything. I had a pretty close circle of friends and nothing outside of that. I've been doing a lot more clubs, and I have expanded my group of friends a fair amount through the years. [I’m going to miss] the relaxed nature of [school]. The open campus, for starters, was amazing. The smaller size of Community was really nice. With smaller classes, it was easier to get help, it was easier to get to know your teachers better and vice versa. Classes were just a lot nicer in general. I split enrolled at Pioneer, and the classes were way bigger with way more kids. Advice I’d give would be to form relationships with your teachers. It’s super helpful.” Feature | May 2021 | 67
“There was a lot of stuff going on in my life during school. My personal life had me displaced from my home, and then I was going through a lot of stuff that really affected my ability to get to school and to be able to study and to have the resources that I needed. I wish I had more supporting people around me. My sophomore year is where I really decided I needed to focus on school. I’ve taken classes over the summer, from eighth grade through junior year to help me stay focused. I got to see a bunch of people who didn’t really take school seriously during the school year and had summer school. They didn’t really take summer school seriously, and I just didn’t want to be one of those people who didn’t care enough that I would have to take classes in the summer in order to graduate. I just realized that it’s only a short amount of time that you have to really stay focused on things that you don’t really care about. A lot of stuff in school, you don’t really need to know and it’s not really gonna affect you, but I just realized that it’s only a short amount of time to really stay focused, hunker down and pay attention to the things that will get you through the time. I would tell myself as a freshman to take initiative, get involved with things and speak up for what I want. I would also tell myself to have fun but stay focused and don’t get too wrapped up in what’s going on around me.
“If I was a freshman again, the advice I would give myself is when you turn 16, get a job. Freshman year was probably one of the most important years, because of your GPA. A lot of my friends haven’t done so well in terms of academics because of freshman year. Having an open mind going into high school is important because things change, people change as the years change, and the school changes, so if you’re narrow minded things probably won’t go your way. The universe is made so that if you focus on something hard enough it’ll go your way. If I were to redo high school I would definitely get more involved in stuff like extracurricular clubs because they’re really easy and give you a lot of credit.”
68 | The Communicator Magazine
“As far as the environment at Community, I think college is going to be around equal in the amount of freedom you have. Maybe not in how chill it is with your teachers and how laid back it is as far as a school — and that’s probably what I will miss the most. I used to be a lot more quiet when I started at Community. I suppose I’ve gotten a lot more confident in myself. Advice I’d give to younger students would be to try to know as many people as you can and don’t be fake to any of them.
“During high school I was big into tennis, and I was on Community’s mock trial team for two years. I played all four years for Pioneer men’s tennis, but have been taking tennis lessons for six or seven years now. Being part of the team was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed everything about it. I think what drew me to Community was the warm environment. The teachers go out of their way to make [high school] a better experience. I am debating between going to the University of Vermont and Brandeis University next year.”
Feature | May 2021 | 69
“Just hanging out during lunch everyday. That's great. With 45 minutes of lunch, you can do anything you want. We go down to Monahan's, get some Cajun fries and walk all the way back. Go up, all around the school, gather everyone to come to the lunch table and then we just hang out there, finish eating and go back to class. Just a great time. Once a semester or so, we get the boys together, we all pool in a bunch of money and we buy five or six boxes of Cajun fries and eat them all and take some good pictures.”
“[The best part of high school is] looking at your freshman self as you graduate. I definitely was a lot more socially uncomfortable [before high school]. I think high school does that to you — it shows you people don't really care. As a freshman, I wanted to stress out about everybody. I'm like, ‘What are they thinking about me?’ But in reality, no one's really thinking about you. Over the year, it just got more and more built in almost.”
70 | The Communicator Magazine
“[Community had] the same philosophies that I had growing up, and Community seemed chill and tiny. I actually really hated it at first: I missed all of my friends, and I wasn’t very outgoing. But honestly, the switch to online learning has been pretty great. The classes [at Community] are definitely different, and the teachers are a lot more understanding and wonderful. I feel like the school genuinely cares. I am going to [the University of Michigan], which is just down the block. I am really nervous that I’m going to fail out of engineering because I feel like I haven’t learned anything this year. I’m on the robotics team, and I’m in the DTEP magnet at Skyline. It is [mostly] design technology, engineering and prototyping. I took engineering classes at Community as well, so I’ve had tons of opportunities with that.”
“In the fall, I’m going to be attending Michigan Tech, which is up in the Upper Peninsula. Over the summer, I visited it, and it seemed really nice and a really good place to go to school. It’s a decently large college, so I think I’ll have a good chance to get to know the people pretty well. Also, there’s a smaller town around it, so I think it should be around the right size — not overwhelming, not too few people. They have a big focus on engineering, which I’m interested in. I’ve always been interested in science, specifically science that is very hands-on and lets me create something, which is pretty much what engineering is. Hopefully, they’ll be back in person and almost completely normal by the fall. It should be pretty nice, especially after this year.
Feature | May 2021 | 71
“My freshman year, the first class that I had was Spanish III with Laurel Landrum. It was my first time having upperclassmen in the same class as me. Everyone was super nice and welcoming, and I made a ton of friends in that class. I will definitely remember that first day of high school. My favorite part of Community is the environment. It feels like it is kind of a two-way street with the teachers and the students: the students respect the teachers, and the teachers respect the students. I think that was a big difference from every other school that I've been to. My favorite teacher was Courtney Kiley. I've missed a ton of school for hockey, and she was always one of the teachers that would really try and help me out. I would go to her room after class or during lunch, and she'd give me extra help. Looking back on these four years, I will remember everyone I have met here at Community. I have met so many people that I otherwise would not have crossed paths with and have ended up being some of my really good friends. I have learned to hold myself accountable and manage my time better because of the open campus and no bells. I always had to know how much time I had and when to be in class. I am so grateful that I had such a great high school experience because a lot of people don’t get that.”
“I feel like don't worry too much about your grades. I feel like school, they worry so much. I feel like school is a place where it's more about getting the work done and actually learning stuff. And I feel like if you're in college, you're gonna want to pick something that you actually want to do, that's gonna be your major. I feel like worrying more about actually learning the stuff rather than worrying about getting a good grade. I think keeping your grades up is important to get into college, but I also think that, stressing over it isn't really healthy, mentally.” 72 | The Communicator Magazine
“I am going to the University of Vermont, and I'm going to major in Environmental Sciences. I wanted to do something connected to fishing — something I really love to do — so I am really excited. My favorite thing about Community is just the freedom and independence. Also, building relationships with teachers is a lot easier at Community than at other schools. Those relationships are really valuable. Having the smaller class sizes — and the amount of students in general — allows the teachers to be more personal, and you can get more help. I think it's less of an institutional approach to teaching, and it's more individualized, which I love. During my sophomore, junior and senior years, I did Depression Awareness Club, Ecology Club and Board Game Club, but I definitely wish I did more my freshman year. Getting out there and meeting new people, trying new clubs and new experiences is something I'm not going to miss out on in college and in life. But my favorite memory was just experiencing Forum Day at the beginning of my freshman year and getting to know everyone in my forum. Building relationships with the upperclassmen when I was a freshman was really, really fun. It kind of showed me what forum and Community was all about.”
“I'd say I've become myself. I've figured out the kind of person I want to be. I've like grown into my own skin rather than in middle school, trying to fit in with other people. I know to prioritize what I think of myself rather than what other people think of me. I wouldn't worry about what other people are thinking or saying about me because I'm doing stuff that makes me happy. Do what you love, because there's a lot of pressure, especially from parents to do things that will give financial stability and will make me successful, in terms of what you may think successful [is]. But I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing something because I feel like I need to and not because I enjoy it. I'll find actual success by doing something that I love for the rest of my life.”
Feature | May 2021 | 73
“I think I'm a lot more confident than I was as a freshman, partially just because I'm older, but also just because I've developed so much at Community. I found people that made me feel comfortable and confident. But I think other than that is my sense of fashion. I feel like it's changed a lot, or maybe my sense of fashion hasn't changed, but how I present it. And then also just how I feel about things after school. I have ideas about what I'm going to do. I have thoughts, and I've been thinking about it a lot. When I was a freshman, I had one idea, and I was like, ‘That's what I'm going to do.’ It's changed since then. It's really hard to know how you change as a person over four years, but I know I have.”
“One of my favorite memories is from when I was a freshman. I did CET, and I became friends with a bunch of seniors, which was sad when they left, but they were very good leaders and like older siblings towards me. Steve Coron was someone who had a big impact on my experience. I knew him before because he was my brother's forum leader. Taking classes with him and talking to him outside of classes, he's just a really great guy, and I just really liked him. I would tell an incoming freshman to get out of your comfort zone and be open to talking to teachers more because the teachers at Community are very different than you're probably used to. They'll really listen to you and care about you. I'm really happy that I picked to go here because I met a lot of great people. It's just a very safe environment to me. I’ve always felt comfortable here, and I always wanted to go to school. I was never dreading it. I'm kind of sad that this is how it ends in Covid. But I'll always look back at Community and just think of it as a very good place.” 74 | The Communicator Magazine
“I do sports [rowing for Skyline] at other schools, and whenever I'm in the buildings, it feels restricted — like they're trying to control you. Everything's locked, you don’t get to decide your own schedule. And at Community, it feels like they're trying to support you: you can leave the campus, you decide your own classes. It feels like you can create your own path. I think Community really helps people build up that skill and get used to that personal responsibility. [There is freedom in] the way teachers teach classes, they let you have free reign. I made this video in Spanish, and the teacher let us do whatever we want. Last year we made this funny skit, it was obviously going to be graded for our performance and understanding of the material, but we could express ourselves however we wanted. [If I hadn’t attended Community High School], I don't know if I'd hang out with the same types of people. At Community, personally, I had a lot of self discovery, and I realized what kind of people I like to hang out with and how to be assertive. I might have had some of that, if I’d gone to a different school, but I don't think it would have been as much because I would have stuck with the same people that I'd been friends with. Sometimes you just need to get out of that bubble.”
“Field Day freshman year was probably my favorite memory of Community. That was when we were all kind of new to the school, and we had not experienced a field day yet. In our forum — the Stapleton forum at the time — we had eight freshmen, and it was all guys, so we had a lot of pressure on us. Also because the Stapleton forum won tug-of-war two years in a row, there was a lot of pressure on us to win it. Although we didn’t win, we had a lot of fun. After high school, I plan on attending Indiana University, majoring in sports communications. Community has taught me to stay more on top of my work. When I started high school, I thought having B’s in classes would be fine, but that set me up with a 3.0 GPA. Starting college, I want to stay on top of everything with good grades and a good GPA. There were a lot of things I liked about Community. I liked the fact that it prepared me for college with the block schedule. And also having that ability to be independent and learning how to balance school and sports. I also learned how to communicate with my teachers if I was missing assignments or had late work.” Feature | May 2021 | 75
“I could talk for hours about everything I love about Community, but something that makes it so special is the communities within Community. The clubs, the extracurriculars, journalism, Mock Trial, jazz and the smaller groups that form inside Community make it special. That's where I found so many of my friends. There's just such amazing camaraderie and such incredible work that gets done in those groups. The teachers are also something that makes Community special. It's through their efforts and their passion that they build the beautiful vibrant place that is our school. Even this year, despite the fact that we are online, they still put in effort to engage us and bring aspects of the Community atmosphere in online school”.
“CHS has changed me as a person. It doesn't matter what others do, it was about what you wanted to do. I feel like that has paid me to be a better person in life. Our forum has been sort of a family, and we all have different styles and work ethics. The environment of CHS just showed me that you can be whoever you want, you can work however you want and people will accept you for that no matter what.”
76 | The Communicator Magazine
“One of my favorite moments at Community was definitely MultiCulti when all the students and teachers were dancing together in the theater, and everyone was just having a good time. The inclusive, loving and accepting atmosphere of Community is what really drew me in. It’s not like other schools where you feel like a prisoner. The atmosphere and open campus really make students feel welcomed and also encourages them to come to class. My favorite part about Community is that the teachers are all close with their students, and they all care about us. If I could give some advice to an incoming freshman, I’d say to make good connections with your teachers because they’ll come through for you when you need it.”
“I first learned about Community High School when I’d go to the Sweetwaters across from CHS with my dad as a child. He would point to and say, ‘That's Community. People there dye their hair and are really creative and fun.’ Community really exceeded my expectations, though. I first remember bonding with Courtney [Kiley] over a We Banjo 3 sticker on her laptop, which is my favorite band. I had played the banjo since middle school but always tried to hide it until I was at Community. I felt like at [CHS], I was allowed to experiment to find myself through sports and music. In middle school, I was also going through a really tough time, but then in high school, I started to feel comfortable. Now at the end of high school, I literally feel so 100% like myself all the time. I finally learned that I have worth and value. That really helps in meeting new people [in college] because you're like, ‘Oh, I actually have something to offer too.’ I learned that some people actually value individuality.”
Feature | May 2021 | 77
“It was September 2017, my first day of high school. And we were all on the back lawn. And I just remember eating lunch, they had sandwiches, and there were the seniors performing. The band who was performing was Rosewood, and they were singing ‘Valerie.’ I was very overwhelmed. I was so overwhelmed because I just saw a bunch of people sitting on the lawn and talking and having so much fun. I didn't know anyone because most of my friends went to Pioneer or Huron. So I looked around, but I didn't see anyone I knew. I went over to Kerrytown to grab some food, and then I saw my old best friend from elementary school. We hadn't really talked up to that point very much since high school. She was just with a bunch of people that I knew from elementary school. And so we talked, we caught up, we went to the lawn and sat together, and we formed a little crew. It was amazing, especially for a freshman because it's very overwhelming to be in a new school with new people that you don't know. That's when I was like, ‘Okay, I could actually do this.’ I didn't really have any doubts anymore. I'm still best friends with that one best friend that I had in elementary school. That was, I think, the best memory I had at Community.”
“I got into Community my sophomore year. Most of my friends went to Community, so I was really happy when I got in. I liked Skyline, but Community is definitely a better atmosphere. I love how happy everyone is and how kind, generous and friendly everyone is. One of my favorite memories is the forum tug-ofwar. Field Day in general was always a great time. I would tell an incoming freshman to get close with your teachers because they’re all really good people, and they want to help you. Make sure you’re mature about your time management and use the open campus responsibly. One of my favorite things about the open campus is that Kerrytown and Sweetwaters are right there, so you can grab a coffee or snack if you need it. There’s also a lot of really good food around Community and places to eat, so it’s fun to switch it up.”
78 | The Communicator Magazine
“Looking back on the past four years, I will miss sitting in the courtyard with all my friends, especially because we can't do it now. The environment and campus of Community are so special. I remember freshman year when Evan started singing ‘Santeria’ in the middle of the hallway, and there was just quietness at first. All of the sudden, a bunch of people came over. The next thing we knew, all the teachers were coming into the hallway, and everyone was just listening to him sing. Most of the people that I used to see in school, I haven't seen at all recently. It’s weird because I will probably never see them again. We never even got to say goodbye; it was all so sudden. I will miss the teachers the most. It will be very different in college, especially where the professors aren't as involved with you. The teachers at Community are more like friends than teachers, so I will miss that bond. Community has made me more of an independent person. I think having an open campus, plus the way the teachers treat students, really makes you feel like an adult. For any incoming freshmen, I would say to make sure you get a good start your freshman year in terms of grades and relationships with teachers because it goes a long way.”
“I think Community taught me to have a lot more confidence in myself. In middle school, I was always scared to wear what I wanted to wear. I thought people would make fun of me or judge me because a lot of times they did. But then as soon as I got to Community, it was different. Everyone was very accepting, and the whole school was just so loving. One of my first days at school, I saw some of the outfits the upperclassmen were wearing. And those were things that I had always wanted to wear, but I was scared to. I thought, ‘Wow, that's so cool that they can wear that here and be able to be confident. I admire them so much.’”
Feature | May 2021 | 79
“How CHS changed me as a human. The first way would be CET. I feel like I'm being supported as a family, by Quinn and others, like the student board and leadership. I joined CET as a freshman, working in costumes crew. The second way is by the very kind people that have supported me like Tracy, Christia and Brett for many years, and I'm very grateful for how Community has changed me in many other ways.”
“For next year I will be going to Washtenaw Community College. And I'm going to be completing my pre-reqs for college, and then I'm going to be transferring over to GVSU, which is Grand Valley State [University]. I'm probably going to be studying business and entrepreneurship. I have a lot of family members that have their own small businesses, including my boyfriend. [He] has his own small businesses. [It has] always been very intriguing, and that's always something I've just been into, and something I've always wanted to pursue.”
80 | The Communicator Magazine
“When I entered as a freshman, I had no friends. My friend group from middle school was spread out between the other schools. I was the only one of us who went to Community, so I was absolutely terrified. I have grown a lot since freshman year. When I was a kid, I was a lot shyer than I am now. I was hung up on what people thought of me and how I was perceived by other people. I have become more confident in myself over these past few years. Something I am going to miss about Community is the teachers. I have been able to develop meaningful relationships with the teachers here, which is something that I find valuable. Next year, I am planning on attending Washtenaw Community College. My sister went there and really liked it, so I am excited to experience it for myself.”
“I am going to Washtenaw Community College. I want to write children's books. A big part of my childhood was my parents reading to me. I wish I was always curious, and I wanted to know more, and I wanted to read more, even though I couldn't really read. It just helped build my sense of creativity and my empathy, I feel. Learning other peoples’ fields through books and writing. And I think that's really important. I want to be able to contribute to that.”
Feature | May 2021 | 81
“I’d say try not to stress as much. It's not as big and world ending as you think it is. I have always been a straight-A student. And so my freshman year of high school, it was, I think it was third semester. And in a FOS I class, I was freaking out because this was terrible. And looking back, I'm just like, ‘Why was I so stressed about that? It's just one little grade.’ So I guess that's who that would be. My advice is don't sweat the small stuff.”
“I miss the physical routine, and subsequently, I miss the days actually feeling different. [I miss] feeling like I’m doing things from day-to-day, as opposed to waking up in the same room, doing everything in that room, going back to sleep in that same room. I definitely took for granted the level of variety that going somewhere in-person every day gave me. I’ve learned that relationships don’t fade nearly as quickly as you tell yourself to believe [they will]. Not seeing someone for a week, or a month, or even several months at a time doesn't mean that your relationship has diminished at all. It just means that you’ve been separated and have stuff to catch up on. Just because I don’t see people in-person, just because I don’t even talk to them, doesn’t mean that they aren’t still important people to me and that I’m not an important person to them. Don’t take it too seriously. It’s high school. It’s important, [but] it’s not the only important thing. There’s no reason to hold yourself to such a high standard that you don’t let yourself have fun with what you’re doing. Just enjoy the time you’re spending. You’re only there for four years. It seems like a lot, [but] it’s not actually that much.”
82 | The Communicator Magazine
“In third grade, Cindy Haidu-Banks, one of the old U.S. History teachers at Community, did a buddy [program] with her U.S. History class and my third grade class. So in third grade, I had pen pals who were in high school at Community, and I loved it. I liked that there was a lot of student autonomy and freedom that was given to students. I felt like it was an atmosphere of being on the same level as the teachers. It's great to be trusted as a student, and I think it made it a lot easier to ask questions and have meaningful conversations with students, peers or teachers because there's that level of trust that I feel comes with having the level of freedom community students are given.”
“[As a freshman], I had been wanting to go to Community for a really long time at that point, so I was very excited to finally be able to go. I was a little nervous because it was a new school, and it was high school, so it was different. The first semester of freshman year, I didn’t have any classes with friends that I had already made in middle school, so I was forced to make new friends, which I think was really good for me because I met some amazing people and connected with some of my best friends now. I’ve learned a lot these past four years, and that is all thanks to Community and the experiences that I have had there. I think I just got more comfortable in myself. For a long time, I would put a lot of pressure on myself to always do everything perfectly. As the years have gone on, it’s not that I care less, it’s more that I am able to make mistakes and do things imperfectly and not be hard on myself. If I could give advice to my freshman self, it would be to not take any of the little things you’re able to do [at CHS] for granted, and make sure that you participate and enjoy those things. My favorite memory would have to be eating lunch on the back lawn when it’s really nice outside and just enjoying the company of friends. I am planning on going to college. I don’t know which one yet, but I have some really great choices lined up. I just have to choose.” Feature | May 2021 | 83
“One piece of advice I would give my freshman self is take advantage of every unique opportunity Community offers that other schools don’t. You only have four years, and that’s limited time. It's important to take advantage of things like the CR program. Also, while high school is hard and a lot of work, enjoy your time at Community. I definitely enjoyed my time [at] Community, but in high school, there's a lot of pressure and a lot of work, so it’s important to make sure you enjoy every year you have there. Over the years, I've come out of my shell, and I think Community has helped with that. I've become more confident in myself, speaking my mind, sharing my opinions and talking in class. Having tight-knit classes and teachers who have close relationships with their students has helped me a lot. Teachers are always willing to help everybody out, and they encourage you to share in class, ask for help when you need it and speak your mind. There’s a welcoming atmosphere that the teachers have made. Another piece of advice I would give my freshman self is [that] you don't have to please everybody. You don't have to be liked by everybody or care about what other people think. It's not as important as I would have thought my freshman year. Recognizing that and having more freedom to just be myself and do whatever I want without worrying about how other people might see me is something that I've learned these four years, and I think would have been good to know as a freshman.”
"I've done a lot of [Community Resource classes] through Community — five in total. I took Women's Studies and Trans Studies through [the University of Michigan]; I took a communications class at Washtenaw Community College; I've created a few of my own CRs; and I've taken a 1960's history CR with Ryan Silvester. I've definitely utilized that program a lot, and it's actually one of my favorite memories from Community. It's not really specific, but I'm really happy I could expand what I wanted to learn and that I had that opportunity. Those have absolutely been some of my most memorable and influential classes. The CR I created this year is kind of a funny mixture of things, but that's the beauty of CRs. I wanted to make a quilt, so it's about quilting and how different cultures have historically used mending and quilting as part of their cultures. Indigenous people have their own practices around making quilts, enslaved people used quilts in different ways and they all had these different patterns that they used. We tied that back into now when people make quilts about activism and also when people use quilting as more of a meditative thing. Hand sewing something can be very intentional. So it's all of that tied together. My mom is technically the 'teacher,' but I've talked to my grandma who has quilted her whole life. I built the syllabus with my mom and grandma, and I'm also doing a lot of independent study. It's kind of perfect. I was reflecting on how I made this whole syllabus, and now that I'm actually doing the learning, I'm thinking, 'Oh, it was almost impossible for me to create a syllabus on something I hadn't yet taken the course on.' It was an interesting realization to me, but it made me extra grateful for the CR program that I could do that learning." 84 | The Communicator Magazine
"I started CET in ninth grade in their fall show, 'Into The Woods.' My first audition was terrible. Really bad. But I did get in, and the show was super fun and very hectic. It was my first CET show, so I didn't know what a normal CET show looked like, and 'Into The Woods' is a very hard show. There were a lot of very talented juniors and seniors, which was intimidating. I was in the ensemble playing an aristocrat, and I had one line that Quinn took from a named character because he was trying to give people in the ensemble lines. We also did two weekends of performances, and we normally only do one. The first time I walked out on stage on opening night, my dress was really tight on my shoulders, and I had to spend the entire first song with my arm straight up in the air. The dress kept ripping. It was an amazing experience, though. I'm glad my first show was such an intense experience, because after that, the other shows felt easier. 'The Tempest' was the show that got canceled last March when the Covid-19 pandemic started. That show was the first lead I got. I remember when the cast list came out: it was 11:00 p.m., and my family had all gone to bed. I opened the email and saw my name, and Judith's, next to Prospera. It was a really exciting moment, but everyone else was asleep — so I woke them up. They were all so excited for me. Judith and I were called for rehearsals every day, so sometimes when Quinn didn't have any scenes to block with us, he'd just send us off to practice monologues or work on a scene with someone. Sometimes we'd go to Judith's classroom to practice, and she'd always give us candy and Diet Coke. Half the time I'd just be sitting and taking notes while Judith was doing a scene. It was so much fun. That's one of the things I miss the most and thought about the most when we went into lockdown."
“If I could tell my freshman self something, I would tell her to talk to more people and not to worry too much about what other people think about you. In reality, they are probably not thinking about you. What I love most about Community is that it is very small and a close knit community. It gives you a chance to get close with your teachers, which you can’t really do at bigger schools in the same way. If I could relive a memory from the last four years at Community, it would be going to Traver Creek with Courtney’s FOS I class. I definitely had the most fun and made the most memories in that class. I am really going to miss spending time with my friends on the back lawn.” Feature | May 2021 | 85
“I’ll miss seeing all the people that I've come to know for four years every day. They've really helped me become my own person. The teachers here care so much about the students and about the relationships with them. They really helped me to care about the subject they taught, and not just the grades, and I’ll miss that when I go to college. As of right now, my plan is to go to Trinity College in Dublin, majoring in linguistics and modern languages.”
“The Community Resource Program is, in my opinion, the greatest part about Community. The fact that you’re able to take life-changing courses at a world-class university right next to you is just insane. In my Community classes themselves, I was not a great student — I was so bored. But [the University of Michigan] gave me a challenge. It actually engaged me in school. I don’t know if I would’ve been graduating high school if I had not been doing CRs at Community. They were really, really impactful. Really, really helpful. The first [class] that I took that was really, really good was Mortality in Western Imagination. It just looked at literature in a way I’d never done before, where it was more like an intellectual pursuit, rather than a joyful experience. It was still really fun, but it just changed the way I read, completely. Another one that I took was the History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. That one was interesting because it absolutely changed the way I looked at the Arab-Israeli conflict, but it also changed the way I looked at history in general and Western culture’s place in history. I realized that our ideals of democracy, equality, gender rights and race rights, these are not the universal values that we think they are. There’s other people in the world, [and] they’re subjective values. And it really changed the way that I looked at history in the world.” 86 | The Communicator Magazine
“I used to walk to the Farmer’s Market every day with my mom when I was little and I remember seeing it [Community High]. I really liked the open campus and how friendly everyone was. Next year, I am going to the College of Wooster. It’s very good for research and the teachers are accessible, so I think I will learn a lot there. I’m interested in philosophy, and I’ve been looking into architecture recently too...but I still don’t know how it wll all play out.”
“I was very immature as a freshman. We were fresh out of middle school at that point, and I don't think anybody was developed as a person. I would say I've changed a lot. I have a lot more friends now, [and] I'm able to communicate better to people — I used to be a lot more awkward and shy. I've grown socially. I've grown academically. I've learned how to handle situations better. I have a job now. I drive. So I'd say overall, I'm a more developed person than I was when I was freshman because back then, I was just very awkward. A piece of advice I would give my freshman self, and any freshman in high school, is don’t worry too much about high school. I worried about getting good grades and all that, but also, it’s important to notice that you have four years there: try to enjoy it. Don't stress yourself out all the time. Don't worry about stupid, silly things like drama. Just enjoy yourself. Along with that, try and stay on track with grades. High school goes by really fast. Even just freshman year was not that long ago, but it feels like it was ages ago, and I'm already a senior. So enjoy it. I know it's been a weird year for everybody, but it’s almost over. It's getting better”
Feature | May 2021 | 87
“My first memory of Community was when I went to see the ‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ show that CET put on. I remember I was blown away that these were high schoolers, and I might be able to do what they were doing soon. It was such a great show, and I think I remember in particular, during intermission, they had one of the characters going around in the lobby and selling candy, which was very, very character. I really like that choice, and I think CET has always found a way to just make so many amazing shows even more amazing by making the show their own. I [am] very glad to be a part of CET and very glad that that is one of my first and very distinct memories of Community.”
“Some of my favorite memories are from my freshman year at Community. It was really fun for me because I had my little posse with my two best friends. Everyday, we would go out to the back lawn and eat lunch together. We never really cared what people thought of us, and we just had the most fun. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to Community. My brother was there and told me how awesome it was, so I decided to try it out to see how it would go. Once I got there, I felt super accepted and like it was the place for me. It made school not feel like such a chore. I had such a great time on my Forum Day trips. I remember this one from the second semester of my sophomore year where we went to a conference center in the woods, which was just overall a great time. I think I would just want to relive some of those days if I could. Next year, I will be attending Michigan State University. I don’t exactly know what I want to study yet, but I do know that I loved journalism. Making pages for The Communicator and taking pictures was something I really enjoyed, so I might study something along those lines.” 88 | The Communicator Magazine
“I've achieved a lot during my time here at Community. I made lots of new friends and all the teachers were really nice. I love how they taught us how to persevere and become better at what we all love doing the most, which was acting [for me]. I played Uncle Fester in ‘The Addams Family.’ I also played Shrek in ‘Shrek the Musical,’ and my best friend, Elliot, played Donkey, and we had a lot of fun. I definitely want to become an actor. I just really want to become an actor and make people smile. Bring people together instead of tearing the world apart. It's been a really tough many years for us; [there’s] been racism and sexism, but I want to bring people together instead of tearing [them] apart. I just really want to make people smile. Always look on the bright side of life. I'm really going to miss everybody [at Community]. Almost everyone from Community, they were all so nice. One of the best parts of my life, [and] one of my favorite [memories] in my entire time here at Community, was going to Cedar Point with my forum. It was amazing.”
“Usually when I’m not on Zoom, I like to hang out with my pets, which are one dog and two cats. Sometimes, I’ll go to my grandma’s house; she has a dog as well. I like going to the Detroit Zoo, though we haven’t too much recently because of the pandemic. But I did want to be a zookeeper, and I [also] volunteer at the [Huron] Humane Society. I grew up watching this show, ‘Zoboomafoo,’ it's about a lemur and two brothers, Chris and Martin Kratt. I also like watching movies like Marvel, DC and Star Wars.” Feature | May 2021 | 89
“I was trying to find a school that would be better suited to me pursuing art. The previous district I was at was in Saline, and they're very sport-focused and super competitive. [Community had] a lot more range in art classes, which I enjoyed, and let me get more time in for improving my art. I enjoyed Steve's art classes a lot, though I think everyone enjoyed Steve. Since I started drawing, I knew I wanted to be an artist. But just recently, within the last four years, I've discovered I primarily want to do something in the game industry. I guess I like playing games a lot, so [I] might as well combine the two things I like doing.”
“The biggest part of high school for me was the school itself. I wouldn’t have enjoyed high school so much. Even though there’s so much other stuff going on for me to not have enjoyed high school, I still did because I went to Community. The teachers, the mature relationships I got to form with the staff and faculty — that meant the world to me. I had a lot of people affirming me and telling me that I could do whatever I wanted, and I didn’t always hear that growing up. It’s really nice to hear that from people I’ve really admired and trusted. Also, the biggest thing was taking the social justice and diversity class. That one really got my foot wet; I got interested in more activism and learning that kind of triggered me to start doing it on my own. I got a lot better at public speaking and just talking, and ever since, I’ve just become a lot more articulate. All of that really shaped who I am.” 90 | The Communicator Magazine
“I honestly am so glad I got into Community. It felt a lot more inclusive than a lot of the high schools I would have gone to probably would have been. Also, I really like the art program at Community. I am a big artist, and I enjoy all the variety of art classes. Honestly, I kind of enjoyed my high school experience. The fact [is] that grades haven’t been the best, but it happens.”
“I was definitely trying to gain confidence freshman year, especially coming from middle school, I didn't have a lot of confidence. I think the biggest thing for me was I never realized how amazing all the teachers were. I had formed pretty good connections to my teachers in middle school, considering that it was not an alternative public school. But I think what was most surprising for me [coming into Community] was that the teachers really genuinely wanted to see you do well at Community. That is first and foremost their number one goal. I was so bad at math. I was terrible at math. And then I had Ed Kulka freshman year for geometry, and he really convinced me, he was like, ‘You're smart, You're capable of doing this.’ And then from there, that just set up my foundation for really being successful in high school, gaining that confidence and believing in myself that I can do hard things or challenge myself.” Feature | May 2021 | 91
“Sophomore year is when I think I started to become more of myself. I started meeting more people. I found some of my best friends. We picked weeds in the woods, and we were just having a fun time because we were pretending that there were ghosts around. We were just laughing and trying to scare each other and just fooling around in the woods. It was honestly great. We were probably kind of bothersome to everyone else trying to get this work done, but it was fun to just run around and make something of an activity that was otherwise fairly miserable. [Also], with some of our fashion inspiration, we were largely inspired by each other's choices. I think that's when I started to let go of the ideas that I enforced upon myself and the ways in which I needed to behave. I know it's something challenging to do because you observe other people and it's like, ‘What does the general populace think is morally correct?’ Sophomore year, I kind of started getting a little bit unhinged, and I kind of stopped caring a little bit about what necessarily was okay and normal. My presence as a person became more centered around myself and centered around the person that I wanted to be, rather than centered around what other people wanted me to be. I am so glad I had the opportunity to be in an environment that was supportive of that. I felt more comfortable being loud and taking up space. I felt more comfortable simply existing without apologizing for it. And it was one of the first times that I feel like I had a friend group that was truly accepting and appreciated what I was doing and the person that I was, and it felt very nice. I learned how to be more accepting of myself. It's a hard [thing] to learn, and I honestly wish more students were kind of outlandish because it’s good for the soul. Honestly, it's a space that is kind of designated for just absolutely going crazy in the best possible way, and I sometimes wish more people had taken advantage of that. We as people are like mosaics of everyone around us and mosaics of all of our past and future selves. Although I'm glad that I won't be the same person that I was throughout my different years of high school, I still hope that I am able to take with me those pieces that I enjoyed.” 92 | The Communicator Magazine
“I had Courtney for FOS II and [I had her] this year. This one time sophomore year, I was just having a really bad day, and my anxiety was going crazy. I started freaking out because I was taking this test and wasn’t doing so well. Afterwards, Courtney noticed that I wasn’t doing too hot. She talked to me, and she helped me work through my problems. It was just so sweet. I feel like you wouldn’t really get that at a bigger school.”
“Before I went to high school, I would hear in the movies or TV shows, they’d say, ‘High school is the worst time of your life,’ but it was actually the opposite. Middle school was miserable, and it was almost a 180 in high school. I was able to come out of my shell. [My middle school] was not as accepting, but when I went to Community, I was able to question my identity and feel completely normal talking about that with other people if I wanted to. But back in middle school, I had to bottle it all up and try not to think about it too much. When I compare other teachers and other schools to Community, they can't really relate to students as well. For example, if you’re having a mental breakdown, because I know that happened to me one time, during middle school they would probably tell me to just go in the bathroom and breathe. I feel the teachers like being here, and it makes it more enjoyable to be here. I remember when I had a mental breakdown, [a teacher] waited in the hallway, and they talked to me directly like, ‘How are you doing? What do you need? Get some fresh air outside instead of the bathroom.’ That let me know the staff cares about me.” Feature | May 2021 | 93
“I knew from the beginning I wanted to go to school here. I originally did not get into Community. About a week before school started, I got the call that I had been next in line. I still remember my first day at school, being packed into the church and watching how the upperclassmen were spreading so much love. My favorite memory of Community has to be when I was the DJ for the Halloween dance. Judith, who was one of the most impactful teachers on me, needed someone to DJ, and I was lucky enough to be picked. Although that is one of my most memorable nights at Community, I will really miss the nights at Mock Trial, watching the sunset and being surrounded by the people I love the most. Community has founded some of my best relationships and has shaped me into who I am today. This second semester has been pretty hard on me, but I am excited to excel next fall at the University of Colorado Boulder to study political science and possibly minor in music. I hope one day I can create change in a government position. It’s crazy to think my Community years are over, but I am excited to start this next chapter in Colorado.”
“It was right at the beginning of my freshman year when I was still trying to figure out CHS. Walking to Traver Creek for our FOS class, I remember having such a fun time down at the river with other clueless freshman. Who would have known this science project would have brought me some of my closest friends. CHS also gave me the opportunity to build personal relationships with my teachers, which is something I will miss the most. I was definitely not expecting my senior year to go this way. Missing out on senior activities and getting used to online school has been tough, but there have been some real upsides to it as well, like not having to be at school at 7:40 a.m. or finding a parking spot. After graduating, I will be attending Plattsburgh State in upstate New York to play ice hockey. I will be studying environmental science. I will miss being able to do class from my bed.” 94 | The Communicator Magazine
“After high school, I am going to the University of Michigan, and I am hoping to study fashion design there. I have always been interested in the design of things, and I have been into fashion for a little while, too. I've always thought it was cool to see the creative process behind clothing, and I learn more about that. And I think that I like being creative, so that would be something I would enjoy doing. Throughout high school, I have learned to not ever pass up opportunities, and even though putting myself out there is hard sometimes, I always regret if I don't. I used to worry a lot about the future and figuring out what I'm gonna do with my life. or where I was going. I would just tell someone feeling this way not to stress about that. Just get through this, and you'll have time to figure everything out. The future is important, but don't lose the current moment.”
“The person I wanted to be freshman year was very different from the person who I am now. I feel like, as a freshman, I always wanted to be a sorority girl-type, and I was just always trying to be somebody else, and that was not good for me. Being able to center that as I’ve gotten older has been really helpful. I don’t think Community changed me, but something that I think what’s different and notable about Community is the way it didn’t change me. The sense I get from other, bigger schools in the city is that there’s a lot more pressure to conform socially and culturally in a way that I don’t think there is at Community, which I really appreciate. I think rather than feeling like Community changed me, I think that Community made me feel like I didn’t necessarily have to change. I think that’s a good thing. The freedom of Community in general made a big impression on me because so many of my memories from Community are connected to places I was able to go during the school day: around town, or off campus. It was so nice to be able to leave and go places. Junior year, I took Chloe’s gender studies class, and I just loved it. It really made a big impression on me. I’ve always felt really close to Chloe and spent a lot of time with her because of Mock Trial. I’ve always looked up to her. I’m going to minor in women’s and gender studies at the University of Michigan in the fall. For my major, I want to study history and maybe go into law. I think I’d like to be a history professor, so I could go to grad school and maybe get a PhD. We’ll see what happens. I haven’t been sad, necessarily, about leaving this phase of my life, but having to say goodbye to people as we go to different schools has been really difficult. Although, I’m really excited to move out and have my own space. This is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Feature | May 2021 | 95
“In homebuilding, we just got to go back in-person and see the site and the house that the program is building; it's great because it connects me to a ton of people from across town on the Huron side since all the students are there at one time. You really get to see what everyone's interests are and see the different kinds of jobs that people are going into after high school. It's really going to be something that I apply to my later life — being able to do home projects is something that my parents have always done on their own. I'm going to study psychology. I want to be a therapist and have my own firm someday. But I also know that college is a place to explore my interests and opportunities, so I'm really just seeing where my path takes me at Michigan State. I have a unique situation at home, which forces me to look at each activity I have and plan it out, so my schedule works alongside the schedule at home with my dad. My dad has Alzheimer's, and my family and I have really done a great job of taking care of him. Taking care of him and going to school at the same time has forced me to mature a lot over the past four years. Community has just been such a unique experience, and I feel like it's just different from Pioneer and Skyline. The reason I came to Community was because of how much the teachers care and how much the students enjoyed it. It's a place where mentors become your friends, and you meet teachers that really care about you and help you.
“I've always pretty much always been interested in spaceflight, that sort of thing, but I think since my freshman year, I've been able to understand more what it is I want to do that's related to space. I think with the CR program, it's been really helpful for me just being able to, for example, create my own car. That's not really an opportunity that I would have had at other schools. And I got to really experience what it is really like giving myself a challenge on my own terms. All the teachers here have been really like supportive. I had the opportunity to do stuff for the Aerospace Engineering Laboratory at the University of Michigan. I'm definitely really excited for college and all the opportunities are going to be awkward. I'm still undecided on which college I'm going to go to, but either way, there's going to be a lot of opportunities to really dive into like the field of study that I'm interested in and also get involved in more clubs and projects on campus, maybe even research. I think just being able to do so, I really meet a lot of new people who share the same interest as I do. But at the same time, I will definitely miss a lot of the Community experience. At this point, I'm already missing it because we've been online for such a long time.”
96 | The Communicator Magazine
“I think one thing that has been so amazing about my time at Community has been the connections I’ve had with my teachers. Liz is my forum leader, so I know her pretty well through that. But my other teachers, like Maneesha, I ate lunch in her room with my friends a lot during our sophomore year and part of our junior year, and I got to know her really well through that. I feel like if I went to another school, I wouldn’t have been able to have these connections with my teachers that I’ve been able to have, and I think that’s something that’s been so amazing about my time at Community. I think having a connection with my teachers has helped me enjoy school more and understand the content in class. Especially in a class like math with Maneesha, I feel like I can ask her questions, and it’s not terrifying to ask a teacher.”
“Next year I will be taking a gap year. I will be going to Brazil in the fall to stay with my grandma and find a job or program. I don't want to make it too structured because I feel like after 12 years straight of school, it would be nice to have a semester where I don't really have much to do. However, after the first semester I'm going to go back to school in a way. I got a job at a boarding school In New Zealand. I will basically be an all around helper, whether it be tutoring, coaching or just keeping watch of the students. Although it's still school, I'm pretty sure my specific position is going to be pretty laid back. I applied to colleges this year — even though I'm taking a gap year — just to get it out of the way. I got into Michigan, and I deferred my admission, ehich means they will let me enroll in the class of 2026 instead of 2025. I haven't decided on a major yet. My favorite part of Community is that you can basically decide your own high school experience. They give you the freedom and the tools to do whatever you want. If you put a lot of effort into designing what you want out of your education, you will be rewarded with the best high school experience possible. However, I definitely do not think it's for everyone because you could also not put any effort in and have a bad time. The lessons I will take from high school is not to take time for granted. I only had two full years at my favorite school I think I will ever go to, and I'm already graduating. My favorite teacher is Robbie Stapleton. She was my forum leader for three short years, and she was an excellent role model. She taught me to put my all into everything I try and to do things with others in mind instead of yourself. My favorite memory from high school was probably the times when I got kicked out of forum for laughing too hard, or my junior year fall forum trip talent show.” Feature | May 2021 | 97
“For the Senior Send-off at the end of the year with forum, I wouldn't even say the sappy stuff like, “forum is family,” or that everyone is my “bestest friend,” but Liz is such an incredible forum leader that brings us together because she's just a fun person. At the end of the year, she does the Senior Send-off, and she tells a little speech for each of the seniors. She roasts on them super hard and just jokes about them and talks about how they’ve been a pain in the butt. But then she always starts tearing up and crying because she really does love them. And all of us, even if they're not our best friend, get emotional because Liz has just brought us together in this really unique way. She makes a joke of it, but also shows that she loves us. There's the love and the bond, but there's also just like the goofy side of it, kind of like a hodgepodge of people brought together. I really have loved the freedom of being able to just move throughout the day and just the friendliness and goofiness that’s at Community no matter what you do.”
“As a freshman, I was super nervous and stressed. It was a big deal, and I wanted to get good grades and all that. Now it’s definitely a main priority but also the importance of just having fun. And, for example this year has been really hard for me with everything being online. It’s been really difficult realizing that your time in the community is almost over, and you need to really enjoy it. Just trust the process and chisel away. A teacher that really showed me this was Matt Johnson. Everything about his class is so great and really is all around insightful and entertaining. It’s organized and put together, and he comes into every class with energy and enthusiasm. Just an overall great experience from a teacher that I would recommend to every single student. If I could go back, I’d tell myself to just chill and don’t stress out and try to have fun. Get together with more people and make more connections and all that. Have more fun and don’t miss out on opportunities to enjoy yourself. Especially with Covid and all the restrictions and everything, if I could go back, I’d definitely give myself that advice. You’re a kid, enjoy it.”
98 | The Communicator Magazine
“I was a member of the Ecology Club at Community, so I have some interest in that. I’m not exactly sure [what I want to study], maybe something having to do with the environment and environmental science type stuff. A dream job would be a sports analytics position, but that’s definitely just like a dream job type thing because I’m pretty good with numbers and I love watching sports so that’d be a good combo of those two things. I was hesitant [to come to Community] because a lot of my friends were going to the bigger schools and so I was thinking, ‘Damn, am I still going to be like friends with them?’ Building those deep relationships with your teachers and your peers is harder at larger schools. At Community you can really get to know your teachers more and form more personal relationships. I think it’s definitely worth it to go to Community, but it all depends on the student.”
“I went to [Ann Arbor] Open for elementary and middle school. It’s an experience similar to Community, that alternative, less formal type of school. It's a lot more laid back kind of thing. My brother went there, and I heard good things about [Community] from him, and I wanted to try it out. I had friends that were going, so I wanted to go there as well, and I was disappointed when I originally didn’t get in. I was excited to get that opportunity. I enjoyed my time at Community, but then Covid happened, and, you know, it all kind of stopped. I like the fact that you can know a majority of the people in school. It's not hard to know half your classmates or most of your classmates. But at Pioneer, your grade has like four or 500 other people in your group. You’re not going to know everyone. Forum is kind of like a base for your high school experience, and you always have that one thing throughout your four years looking at the Community. It's a good way to meet people. It introduced me to a lot of people, and I think it just helps kids make social connections, stay grounded.” Feature | May 2021 | 99
“I definitely discovered myself in high school. As a freshman, I felt very lost and awkward, like I didn’t fit in. I then joined clubs, and I began talking to more and more people at lunch. I became friends with some of the upperclassmen, and they helped show me around the school. As a freshman, you're always scared of the upperclassmen, but the ones that reached out to me were very kind and made me feel more comfortable in the school. I am very thankful for the upperclassmen that reached out to me and let me sit with them at lunch. I made some of my favorite memories with my older friends. Over the years, I got a lot better at making friends, being myself and becoming comfortable in my own skin. I’m definitely going to miss the people of Community High School the most.”
“After going through high school, especially at Community, I found it easier to be myself. As a freshman, I probably came off as strange because I kind of faked confidence. I wanted to be a likable person, and it was really vulnerable to me to feel like I was an outsider. I used to be this cookie cutter popular person, and I thought that it was the only way to be. Seeing other people be so happy being unique and different and part of Community was like living proof that it was okay to be weird. I made a lot of hard choices, and I learned that failing is okay. I’m taking a gap year working as the youngest manager nationally at JoAnn Fabrics. I get a lot of knowledge from working at that store since it’s something I’m really interested in. After my gap year, I am going to Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design for both graphic design and photography.”
100 | The Communicator Magazine
“After high school, I am planning to go to college and get a degree in computer science. I just really like computers, and I think they are fun. I prefer the more software sides of things versus the more engineering hardware aspect to it. Some of my favorite high school memories are from forum day. I remember staying up until 1 or 2 a.m., playing Dominion with Christia, the TA we had and another student. It was really fun. Another one would be my freshman year when we went camping. It was a really nice time, talking with all my forum members around the fire about various frivolous things and getting to know everyone. I think it's kind of sad that we haven't done anything like that since because everyone got a little closer from that experience. The most important thing I learned from high school is social skills and just generally interacting with people, being more comfortable in my skin. It has also taught me the importance of charisma, something I want to improve on. If I could tell my freshman year self something, I would tell him that everything will be okay.”
“It was actually pretty eye-opening for me. I remember when I first got to Community, I was just excited to be able to have more flexibility with my schedule and to be able to have free periods and go places at lunch. Then I kind of had a moment where I realized this is still school, I have to get everything together. I miss a lot of a lot of teachers I had a freshman year. Like Ed, he’s gone. I don't have Jack anymore. Swim Team that took up a lot of my time. It just wasn't that fun. I would have not done so many things outside of school. I tried to do a bunch of extracurriculars. It didn’t help me. And I would have spent more time doing other things.”
Feature | May 2021 | 101
“I love the freedom you have at Community. You can leave class whenever you want or need to. You can just get up and drink some water, use the bathroom — anything. All of my friends that attend Skyline hate how much freedom I have because they would get into trouble if they did the same — just up and leave the classroom without asking first. I also love that we have an open campus. I’ve definitely played hide-and-seek outside of Kerrytown before. It was randomly around everywhere downtown, and it was super cool. [If I could go back in time and advise my freshman year self, I would say to] pay more attention to school because it goes by too fast.”
“I would love for [my career] to someday turn into performing, composing, or maybe even both. Being a teacher is also a possibility. Either way, that is for the future to decide. I'm not sure how it will ultimately translate into a career, or if I'll even end up being a musician. However I do know that piano, and music in general, will remain a very important part of my life. If anyone has a moment where they find a calling, or some activity that brings them joy, they should hold onto it. It would be a mistake if you didn't acknowledge it, because it opens a path to better understanding yourself and where you fit in. Just remember to maintain balance. Don't ignore other important things that are going on in your life, because they may play an integral part in your future success.”
102 | The Communicator Magazine
“I chose to go to Community, mostly because of the flexibility, and partially because I already knew some friends there who were really enjoying it. It seemed like a really good fit for me. It's nice to go to a smaller school — it's easier for me to form connections with people and teachers. I [am going to miss] getting to collaborate with all the teachers at Community. I really enjoyed having a lot of free time to go to different clubs [and to go] to Kerrytown with my friends. I'll really miss that, and having [this] environment to work in. I would say that a lot of my literature teachers and history teachers were especially important to me. I think that having a place to discuss ideas allowed me to practice public speaking and become much better at that, [as] I'm naturally a much shyer person. Working with Tracy has been one of the highlights in terms of getting better at speaking to people. I really, really enjoyed anytime that I was in philosophy club, and I would get into these really intense discussions. Whenever there were a lot of people disagreeing about something, but in a way that was still respectful, made me really happy. Being able to explore really hard concepts in a way that doesn't make anyone feel alienated was great. I think the biggest thing [I’ve learned from Community] would be to not expect people to dislike you, but to do the opposite and assume that everybody is a kind person who's willing to be there and work with you. At first, I really didn't [assume this]. But I've come to learn that it's much more helpful to assume that everybody is going to work with you and is a kind person, and then you're usually able to work from there and talk to them. If you're already scared of them, there's not much you can do.”
Feature | May 2021 | 103
Letter Home 2020 graduates from CHS share their thoughts on their time away from home at college BY ZARA GREENE-KALESKI AND TAI TWOREK
LOEY JONES-PERPICH Emerson College 104 | The Communicator Magazine
Dear seniors, This school year, I have spent four weeks isolated in my room, in contact with no one except for my roommate or my best friend. Two of those weeks were routine, school-wide soft quarantines. When we came back from winter break, or had a slight uptick in community Covid cases, the administration would urge us to stay in our rooms except for getting food, going to work or attending medical appointments. They were no big deal. My roommate and I spent a week and a half alone in our room in April after more than ten people on our floor tested positive for Covid, and many others were sent to isolation after being contact traced. Although it felt nearly apocalyptic for a while, we somehow managed to avoid coming into contact with anyone involved. My final couple days of isolation was right after my grandmother died. It was a grief process that I knew I just needed to get through, and I felt guilty for being sad around my friends, so I declined their invitations to spend time together. But there was one night, at around two in the morning, when I couldn’t sleep. The loneliness had combined itself with the grief of losing my grandma, and I knew I couldn’t be alone for one second longer. I called my best friend, Lily, and she came over and snuggled up in bed with me. We watched YouTube videos while her emotional support hamster, Rupert, rolled around on my floor in his ball. Lily got up as I started to finally fall asleep and tiptoed over to collect Rupert. She woke me up when she let out a startling, “Oh my god.” “What?” I said, sitting up abruptly and squinting as she turned on my light. She turned to me, hands shaking and showed me Rupert’s ball: the top had popped off, and he was nowhere to be found. I leapt out of bed as she ran down the hall to collect his favorite treats from her room. She brought back Cheerios, and we both took fistfulls and started scattering them around my room. I was sitting on the floor, adrenaline pumping through me, spreading Cheerios out all over my carpet, when I looked towards my refrigerator and saw Rupert, casually sitting next to it. I grabbed him as fast as I could, and after feeding him as many Cheerios as he could fit in his little orange cheeks, Lily and I
laughed for hours. It was the first time all week that I’d laughed that hard, and when I woke up the next morning, I realized that I had lost the urge to be alone. So Lily and I got food with another friend, and we laughed about the previous night some more. I can’t say I necessarily have some super wise, insightful advice for you as you graduate from high school and head to college or onto other adventures, but I do have some hopes. First, I hope that you never have to spend time in isolation that you did not choose. Your freshman year, if you choose to go to college, will look drastically different than mine did, and the next class’s freshman year will look drastically different than yours. I hope for all of us that, as this pandemic adapts and changes, we will all spend less time alone. Second, I hope that whatever you choose to do, you are somewhere you want to be. I go to Emerson College for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre and Performance. I’ve wanted to be in a program like this since I was fourteen, and I fought hard to be able to do so, even though this year was a hybrid model for our classes. Every morning, I wake up grateful to live in Boston, doing the things I love. Finally, I hope that you find people or animals who make you laugh when you don’t think you can. It may take time, but I have my fingers crossed for all of you that you gain people in your life who will go on a hamster hunt in the middle of the night with you,if you need to do so. I keep a couple of these people very close to my heart, and they truly got me through this year. Most of all, I hope you know that you, the class of 2021, are the epitome of strength. Since it was announced last summer that your year would be fully virtual, I have been in awe of your stamina and drive. I couldn’t have done what you all just did. You deserve to be very proud of yourselves. Good luck to all of you, and congratulations on finishing this year. All my love, Loey Jones-Perpich P.S. Give some extra love to your teachers in your next two weeks. I miss them desperately, and you will too.
Feature | May 2021 | 105
ISAAC MCKENNA Brown University
106 | The Communicator Magazine
My freshman year was not what I expected at all. That is a statement which is true both in the most cliché class-of-2020-so-Istarted-college-online sense, and in the sense that Brown University’s Covid plan differed from that of most schools. Instead of an online or heavily restricted fall semester, Brown first years spent the fall semester at home. We got one free class, confusing and conflicting communication and the feeling of impending doom that comes with plans to spend four semesters in a row at school: Spring 2021, Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. My first semester was strange: I spent hours meeting other first years hundreds of miles out of reach and working on my days off — I felt the tension of something I had waited so long for held at arm’s length. Even in hindsight, knowing that I spent many of those days happy to be at home, I would trade it in an instant for an online semester and a real summer break. Regardless, that long-awaited move in day came, and with it, another set of challenges. I spent the first two weeks in varying levels of quarantine, locked in an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar city with unfamiliar people whom I was not allowed to familiarize myself with. It was, to say the least, hard. Release from those two weeks was a ray of sunlight poking through clouds. I started to make new friends, working as best as I could within Brown’s restrictive Covid guidelines, and I started to feel at home. Home felt far from my mind as I explored classes with Brown’s shopping period and finally began to have some semblance of the college experience I had imagined. With cases low at the university, I was lucky enough to have an in-person class and to explore restaurants and places in my new city. The classes also posed unexpected challenges. I found myself in love with my sociology class and unimpressed with my Modern Culture and Media class (essentially film theory), a complication of my expected major. Surrounded by thousands of smart, driven peers, I felt at once more motivated than ever and entirely out of place. I was so overwhelmed with classwork, and, for a while, so sure that I was the only one. Really, what saved me were the people. I knew that on any given night (morning?) at 4 a.m., I could walk 50 feet to the first floor lounge to sit, stress, complain and laugh with friends. Of course, I wish that we all could have gotten a good night’s sleep, and that Brown was doing more to take care of its first years during extenuating circumstances, but it was always nice to know that I wasn’t alone as the sun came up. Writing this, I’m halfway through my two week break, already mentally preparing for another semester. So much about my first semester was hard, and I’m relieved to be back. But that hardship has also taught me so much. I cherish time with family where I once wanted so badly to leave; I know that satisfaction is much more than pushing myself to be perfect; and I have a new understanding of home as a place within myself. But, to end this letter home on another cliché, I have learned to be open to new things. I want to find friends in strange places, explore weird alleyways and unkempt trails and inch closer to a feeling of belonging and purpose.
CAMMI TIRICO Northwestern University
I never realized both how much I would miss home and, at the same time, how much I needed space from it. To put it simply, college is good. It is actually great. I smile and laugh more than ever, and I am doing new things everyday that make me genuinely happy. I have gained the reputation of being optimistic — “to a fault at times” — among my friends at Northwestern University. Honestly, I fail to see how my optimism can be problematic. But, again, it makes sense I’d say that. Right now, like just about everyone else, I spend the vast majority of my time behind my computer screen. And this was certainly not the freshmen year I envisioned, but I cannot complain. I almost feel guilty to admit it, but I have had a great year. I have made friendships that I know will last a lifetime and have made memories that will live just as long. Maybe thanks to my new people or the increased time alone between Zoom classes, I have found a new version of myself I have come to love. I came into college really thinking I had it all figured out: The drafted memoir would have been titled ‘Former Editor Takes on Top Journalism School on Her Way to (fill in the blank) Publication.’ Well, after one quarter on campus, I transferred out of the journalism school. And I’ve seriously considered four others majors since. Both simultaneously helping and hurting that identity-crisis, I have never before in my life been surrounded by more motivated and genuinely smart people. It feels like everyone has it more figured out than you, that everyone is more prepared than you and that everyone is working harder than you. For a while, I felt like I was chasing this standard that became increasingly unattainable. Turns out, almost everyone feels this way, and when everyone feels inspired and motivated by each other, it typically means you are in the right place. While this feeling of being in the right place brought peace, it felt like something was missing. Especially in those times of uncertainty, I missed the comfort that Ann Arbor brings. The ‘everything will be okay’ mindset of home was something I longed for. I missed the days filled with the people that make home special, the Ann Arbor-ness: The quirky and light hearted spirit that makes it the best place to grow up. Ann Arbor felt optimistic. That feeling doesn’t exist everywhere, and I don’t think I truly realized how much I appreciated that until it was no longer there. The comfort of Ann Arbor was like a warm blanket, providing safety and reassurance when you may need it. And in the transition to college, the blanket was ripped off. But if Ann Arbor is a blanket of warmth, Northwestern has been rays of sunlight keeping me warm. There’s a sense of joy here that proved to me I didn’t need that blanket to keep warm. I think that’s why this new Northwestern version of myself feels different: It is not that I have changed drastically, it is that I have brought those things of home that I miss so dearly and combined them with the light provided by these new experiences. I brought parts of the blanket into the sun with me. And of course, everything is not perfect, school is hard, and I have never worked harder on anything in my entire life. I am sure I am consuming double the amount of caffeine and sleeping about half as much as a doctor would recommend. And though not perfect, it’s really good, and I’m really happy. But, like I forewarned, I’m an optimist. Feature | May 2021 | 107
SYLVIA GABRIEL Gap Year Almost one year ago, I graduated from Community High School in my cap and gown from the passenger’s seat of my car. The time since then has only been filled with more expectations that I’ve had to modify, but also a series of silver linings. Even before Covid, I was sure I wanted to take a gap year in Berlin, where I could take ballet classes, work part-time and finally reach fluency in my family’s language. However, by the time August rolled around, Americans still couldn’t enter Europe. This was the first part of my gap year, which I spent at home in Ann Arbor. Plan after plan fell through, until I made an interesting discovery: I was a German citizen. Theoretically, this should’ve solved all my problems, but without a passport, I was back to square one. I spent August and September researching German citizenship law, gathering paperwork and taking weekend trips to consulates in Chicago and Cincinnati. Right when it seemed I’d 108 | The Communicator Magazine
be able to get my passport in a matter of weeks, I hit a barrier I never expected: my name. My parents have different last names, and according to German law, I had to officially declare which one I wanted — a process which took three months. This was not lost time, however, as I stayed in Michigan, helped homeschool my brother and started a language resource project. Towards the end of November, part two of my year began. A future classmate of mine from Stanford let me know about an opportunity to go to Morocco, and within two weeks, I was on a plane to Casablanca. I worked for a company in Rabat that helps high school students apply to foreign universities, and in return, they gave me a travel stipend, a place to stay and a small salary. My roommate Julia was from Poland and also a Stanford gap year student who loved languages. Through our common interests and shared experience of living in a foreign country on our own, we quickly became close friends. Language is a big part of my life, and I took classes in Moroccan Arabic, or Darija, every morning. Upon hearing my accent when speaking with me, however, many Moroccans would switch to French, the language of prestige, and I would always have to interrupt them in Darija to say, “makanhderch le franais,” or, “I don’t speak French.” I began learning standard Arabic and the Syrian dialect three years ago through the University of Michigan Community Resource program; however, Darija is unintelligible to most Arabs. The language, like the country, contains a mix of influences brought by Arab invasions, French colonialism and the native Amazigh peoples. This multicultural, multilingual country really won me over. Culture and language are always on my mind, and a lot of my values are shaped by both “western” and “eastern” influences, something which I saw reflected on a larger scale in Moroccan society as a whole. Due to their cultural and geographic proximity to Europe, many Moroccans are also acutely aware of their place on the global stage. Travel, education and visa difficulties were common conversation topics, at least in my circles. I especially appreciated these discussions as the idea of citizenship has been a big theme in my life the past few years, from my friend’s parents’ deportation, to working with refugees, to my recently acquired European passport. In March, I finally got a chance to use that passport when Julia and I flew from Casablanca, to Paris, to Frankfurt, to Warsaw, and I spent a few weeks with her family in Poland. Those two days of traveling were filled with Covid-related complications, including visa issues, the plane being canceled without the airline informing us, misinformation about E.U. travel restrictions and thousands of dollars in last minute tickets. We decided to go to Poland together partly because we anticipated such difficulties, but after a few weeks there, I again had to cut my time short to avoid being trapped in the country after intensified lockdowns. In April, I arrived in Germany. Walking through the streets of Berlin, I couldn’t help but smile. Gratitude and joy washed over me as I was so keenly aware of the privilege of being there because just seven months before, I had not had it. My parents and brothers didn’t even have this privilege — I was the only one who could possibly have been sightseeing Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburger Tor at that point in time. I write this from my new apartment in Leipzig, where I’m still settling in and figuring out how to live in a new city during a pandemic. While a part of me is still coming to terms with the fact that I don’t have as much time to improve my German as I had hoped, the rest of me is grateful for my Darija skills and the accompanying friendships. Now, I’m able to begin my days with two and a half hours of German Zoom class, and end them with a cup of homemade Moroccan mint tea.
ROXIE RICHNER Michigan State University
The last time I sat in the halls of Community High, breaking stories about Covid-19 were tearing through the news cycle. Tracy instructed each person in our Pop Lit class to write a list of activities we could use to fill free time on the off-chance we would go into a quarantine. I internally scoffed at this prospect, like most Americans, underestimating the power of the virus. Within two short weeks, I realized that I wouldn’t return to Community before graduation. And, I began to realize the value of that random list I had scrawled on a scrap sheet. During lockdown, I leaned on this list, and I started to do the things I loved again — things I had convinced myself I didn’t have time for in “normal” life: collaging with magazine cut-outs, reading brain-candy thrillers, going on walks with my parents and journaling. I even learned how to skateboard. I rested often and smiled more. In late Spring, I took a job on Dr. Arati Kreibich’s campaign for Congress, a race taking place 618 miles away from Ann Arbor, in New Jersey’s 5th congressional district. I began to realize that the world was shifting in every sense; I could work remotely from miles away and still build meaningful relationships over Zoom. While lockdown often felt lonely, I found solace through FaceTimes with my best friends, and new friendships I formed within the campaign team. In September, I started my freshman year at Michigan State University from my childhood bedroom, studying public policy at James Madison College (JMC). Days crept by as I plowed through Gen-Ed classes and wondered about “the college experience” I was missing. My JMC classes kept me motivated, as we studied issues that unfolded before our eyes: various countries’ Covidresponses, neoliberalism, colonialism, citizenship, nationalism, structural racism and more. I found myself challenged and inspired by both my professors and my peers in the program. Second semester, I packed up and moved to East Lansing, moving into a dorm located in arguably the worst section of campus. In the midst of Covid, it was far from normal campus life — I spent most of my time doing my online classes from my dorm room and eventually outside when the weather broke. But even so, I met incredible people, explored beautiful spots along the Red Cedar River and became super close with my suitemate. My classes kept me busy, but I also made time for a remote internship at Left Rising, a fundraising firm that works with progressives challenging incumbent Democrats. I wrote a research paper that I was incredibly proud of about the history of intercommunity activism between Black radicals and queer radicals, from the Black Panthers and Gay Liberationists, to today’s intersectional movements for justice. When I reflect on the past year, I think of the things I’ve missed out on, but I also think about how much I’ve grown and learned. This summer, I’m not working a political job because if the past year has taught me anything, it’s that putting life on pause offers a great opportunity for growth. The constant hustle and grind is exhausting, and I’m burnt out. And because of the past year, I’ve been able to recognize that. I’m returning to that list I made not so long ago in Tracy’s classroom, making time to do the things I love, and more importantly, spend time with the people I love. To the Class of 2021: I can’t even imagine how tough it’s been to have had such a wrench thrown in your last two high school years. But I can imagine all the wonderful things that you’ll go on to do as you leave Community and continue on your journeys. Embrace all you’ve learned throughout it all — about yourself, about the world and about what’s truly important in life. And remember: there’s no better time to change the world than when it’s upended anyways. With much love, Roxie Feature | May 2021 | 109
As we get ready to pass the torch to our younger staff members, we are also passing on advice as senior journalists. The unique environment harbored at CHS sets us up for success as journalists. STAFF EDITORIAL To look back on the first day of freshman year at CHS — to remember the anxiety and nerves felt in the pews of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church during the Open Day Ceremony — feels as though it was a lifetime ago. And what started as the first page in the new chapter of our lives ended up as a unique and challenging four years for us seniors. It would have been impossible to predict that our high school experience would be altered due to a pandemic. Our time in the building and in-person experiences with teachers and peers was limited to two and a half years. But although we have adapted to senior year online and have missed out the traditional graduation and end-of-year traditions — like the infamous Spork Game, one last tug-of-war during Field Day and prom — the lessons learned throughout our four years have been nothing short of valuable. As we prepare to face yet another chapter of our lives, it would be only 110 | The Communicator Magazine
sensible to pass along our wisdom to underclassmen. Take advantage of the unique student and teacher relationships. As eighth graders listening to then-CHS students talk about the unique draws of the school, the aspect of calling staff and faculty by their first names felt unheard of. Yet this small characteristic is the foundation for the mutual relationships between students and teachers fostered at CHS. The teachers truly care about their students. It is common for teachers to go out of their way to set students up for success and accommodate for their needs. It is imperative that the amount of respect inputted into a relationship with a teacher is the amount of respect anticipated to be reciprocated. Learning takes place beyond the walls of the school. There will be many days where CHS teachers conduct traditional lectures. But more often than not, the education provided is waiting to be pursued beyond
the classroom — and CHS teachers and students are setting each other up to access that knowledge. Every spring, the history department organizes walking history tours, where students are able to explore local history not incorporated into our curriculum. In class discussions, it is common for students and teachers to refer each other to other sources to further their understanding. Programs such as journalism, jazz, art, Mock Trial and the Community Ensemble Theater allow participants to explore their passions in tangent to the community. And students have access to classes at the University of Michigan or Washtenaw Community College, unlocking a vast set of tools to store in their arsenals. There are countless opportunities to learn — both inside and outside of school — and it is important to learn as much as possible. Think critically and with an open mind. Because of the unique educational environment created at CHS, there are countless opportunities for discussion. In fact, most of the classes are centered around discussion-based learning. The open student-teacher dynamic, as well as the willingness of many students to learn, allows for discussions to be as valuable as lectures. These spaces, however, are not supposed to be a unanimous circle of agreement. Discussion is an open invitation for critical thinking — one of the most important tools CHS equips its students with. Students and teachers learn and unlearn from each other during
discussions. Although there are vast academic and extracurricular opportunities available to allow students to gain a nuanced viewpoint, CHS is still a largely homogenous community; we come from similar backgrounds and hold similar ideas. Thus, the real learning does not begin until students and teachers alike engage in academic inquiry and practice critical thinking. As senior journalists, we are now passing the torch to our younger colleagues. And with the key pieces of advice that we have passed down — building strong relationships, learning beyond the classroom and thinking critically — the next generation of Communicator journalists are well equipped to cover the community. Although the publication has gone through changes over our time on staff, The Communicator has kept its same principles. Curiosity and a dedication to the truth led us to develop our writing, interviewing and design. These are a springboard for journalism. With the unique environment harbored at CHS, we are prepared for superb investigation as journalists. There are no limits hindering our growth as a publication and as journalists; we excel everyday. By taking advantage of the opportunities that CHS provides, we will always be lifelong journalists — even after we have passed the torch and graduated.
Opinion | May 2021| 111
Donors Thank you for supporting the production of our publication. Roderick Adams Shadi Ahmadmehrabi Kate Albertini Douglas Allen Pyper Alpern Lilian Anderson Linda Anderson Karen Andrews Katherine Angus Michela Arnaboldi Sara Bachman Melissa Bak Carrie Bank Anton Baptista Sadie Barber Evers Baskey Jack Bazzani John Beach Eva Beals Madison Bell Mary Benjamins Hannah Bernstein Noah Bernstein Noah Bernstein Nora Berry Lydia Biggers-Brookhouse Delia Binetti John Bodenham Candace Bramson Katrina Brehob Rebecca Brent Talia Briske Keri Bruggink Meredith Buhalis Brad Buhalis Amanda Buhalis
112 | The Communicator Magazine
Nancy Burns Liam Bush Lydia Cadena Terry Caldwell Oliver Campeau Amy Cantu Alejandro Cantu Angela and Phong Cao John Card Grace Catchot Mali Chappell-Lakin Stephanie Chardoul Jennifer Charnizon Lydia Cocciolone Carolann Colbeck Alice Collins-Thompson Tobin Cooney Sarah Corcoran Liliana Cortes-Ortiz Allison Cowherd Rebecca Cunningham Pamela Davies Rachel Davis Sonya DeMonner Karen DeMonner Atticus Dewey Judith & Ken DeWoskin Rachel DeWoskin Jeanne Dial Oryanna Diem Laura Dills Irene Dinsmor Steve Donoghue Margot Donoghue Siennah DuChateau McKenna Duman
Stevie Dumitrascu Chloe Durkee Kevin Dutton Kristin Dziczek Angela Eddins Alex Enrique Shakespeare Isabel Espinosa Isabel Espinosa Laura Fader Vanessa Farkas Sophie Fetter Katie Fife Santiago Fiori Nicole Frei Natalie Fulkerson Elissa Gaies Taylor Gaies Kristin Gapske Diane Garner Richard Garner Roberta Gatti Donna Gatzke Ethan Gibb-Randall Abigail Gillett Mia Goldstein Daniel Goldstein Benjamin Gonzalez Chris Good Jen Green Sara Gronewold David Guikema Sela Gur-Arie Dan, Maureen, Molly, & Ella Hamalainen Emma Hamstra Jennifer Hannibal
Mick Hanson Marci Harris Holly Heaviland Sarah Hechler Kian Hemati Carolyn Herrmann Mary and Steve Hewlett Addison Hinesman Ava Hiney Avani Hoeffner-Shah Ilene Hogan Johana Horvath Aidan Hsia Shaju Jacob Eric Jacobson Eric Jacobson Jenna Jarjoura Lisa Jeffries Grace Jensen Kathryn Jones Anabelle Jones Shannon Kahan Vamsi Kakarla Eve Kaplan Helen Kaplan Helen Kaplan Angela Keene Christine Kelley Jessica Kelly Serena Kessler Julie Ketai Ailish Kilbride Courtney Kiley Brett Kilgore Pam Kirchen Julia Kirschenmann
Max Klarman Max Klarman Nikki Klein Eliot Klus Wade Knyal Hans Kokx Ava Kosinski Courtney Kosnik Jacob Kosnik Sarai Koster-Stetson Sarai Koster-Stetson Ruth Kraut Christina Kuiper Leo Kupperman Patrick Lafferty Charlie Laman Ebie Lamb Laurel Landrum Nicolas Langdon Krystie Lee Krystie Linton Lauren London Meghan London Jenn Lowen Jasmine Lowenstein Arista Luong Alissa Maglothin Saxon Malchow Jennifer Mamer Miriam Manary Sofi Maranda Liz Marek Alexander Marsh Angela Martin-Schwarze Sascha Matish Vanessa Mayesky Patricia Mazzola Marcy McCormick Nikki McDonald Kristin McGuire Felix McKenna Isaac McKenna Zander McLane Amy McLoughlin Lisa Metler Alison Miller
SooJi Min-Maranda Rebekah Modrak Alexander Monte-Sano Jillian Moreno Anastasia Morgan Josh Moss Elaine Mouradian Peter Nelson Otto Nelson Eleanor Niman Kathy Norris Traci Novar Sophie Nunez Serena O’Brien Sebastian Oliva Mori Ono Aidan Osofisan Marion Palmer/Braak Pauline Park Gabriela Pashturro Stephanie Patterson Will Patterson Bonita Patterson Katelyn Payne Julie Perry Gillian Perry Tam Perry Robbin Pott Ivy Prochaska Nicolas Provenzola Brooke Rafko Evan Rago Doris Raney Thomas Reed Josie Reed Thomas Reed Cassie Rein Eric Reinhardt Elliot Rhodes Elizabeth Riggs Bethany Rivera Michelle Rober Karina Roberts Melissa Rogers Chloe Root Felicity Rosa-Davies
David Rosenfeld Ella Rosewarne Hannah Rubenstein Lila Ryan James Salisbury Ameera Salman Vashni Santee Eve Sarnecki Jeanne Sauter Lisa Sauve Susan Scalf Sophia Scarnecchia Preeti Schaden Beth Schetroma Helen Schmitter Jeri Schneider Micki Schueler Oliver Schutt Nina Schwartz Mira Schwarz Katie Scoville Robin Scully Logan Seiler Gene Senn Simon Shavit Maureen Sheahan Peter Sickman-Garner Griffin Siersma C.E. Sikkenga Erin Simmons Beth Simon Robin Skrbina Stephanie Smith Charles Solomon Carrie Sonen Ayla Soofi Lucian Sperling Lauren Sprauer Robbie Stapleton Claire Steigelman Elizabeth Stern Izzy Stevens Linda Stingl Kayla Stoler Ellen Stone Quinn Strassel
Levi Straszewski Kelly Stupple Sylvie Swerdlow Katie Sytniak Nancy Szabo Luda Talley Valerie Taylor Tae Terumoto Susan Thomas Grace Thomas Jonathan Thomas-Palmer Ava Tiedemann Cammi Tirico Mike & Deb Tirico Kanika Triggs Taisiya Tworek Joseph Tworek Stella Valentino Colleen van Lent Bethany Veilleux Linnea Verhey-Henke Nancy Vrooman Grace Wang Chloe Warren TJ Watson Macy Watson Noah Webb Bridget Weise Knyal Mary Weiser Meghan Wernimont Michelle & Cade Westerdale Melissa Bair Westhoven Leah White Jessika Whiteside John Williams Holly Wing Maggie Wolf Mia Wood Rose Wywrot Michelle Yager Yalcin Yanikoglu Risa Yesowitz Jason Zawacki Naomi Zikmund-Fisher Angela Ziolek
Please contact email@example.com if you would like to become a donor. May 2021 | 113
Michigan Alma College Brooke Rafko Central Michigan University Anabelle Jones College for Creative Studies Eli Hausman Damien Senn Eastern Michigan University Ameera Salman Ferris State University John Bodenham Siennah DuChateau Kalamazoo College Evan Rago Michigan State University Lulu Bogun Josh Caldwell Marcus Cohen Lindsay Falbo Hope Hesseltine Henry Murdock Sophia Nunez Aidan Osofisan Luke Rogers Calvin Shaw Grace Thomas Michigan Technological University Simon Cassell-Kelley Northern Michigan University Elliot Goebel University of Michigan Hannah Bernstein Delia Binetti Grace Catchot Chloe Durkee Dan Gutenberg Jenna Jarjoura Ava Kosinski Max Klarman Josh Moss Gordon Lewis Eleanor Niman Elizabeth Shaieb Joey Simon Ayla Soofi Anna Stansfield Linnea Verhey Henke Washtenaw Community College Aaron Andrews Lindsay Barolo Aidan Bingamon Milo Chalin David Ging Ben Gonzalez Aidan Griswold Sam House 114 | The Communicator Magazine
California University of California Santa Cruz Grace Bradley
Oregon Reed College Zoe Buhalis
Arizona Northern Arizona University Hobbs Kessler Kiyelle Hopes Sage Iwashyna Toby Jones Zara Greene-Kaleski Meri Orosz Nano Peroff Nicolas Provenzola Lucas Reading Sunol Emilio Rivera Martha Ribant Joni Zrull Western Michigan University Ally Dillon Delaney Sperlbaum
Colorado University of Colorado, Boulder Evan Ash Finn Kilbride
Nebraska University of Nebraska Katherine Mattson
Minnesota Carleton College Charles Solomon Macalester College Geneve Thomas-Palmer
Wisconsin University of Wisconsin Nate Mosher
International Canada University of Victoria Ethan Gibb-Randall Ireland Trinity College Mia Monk Scotland Edinburgh College Gab Nemecek
Senior Map The class of 2021* will be traveling across the country and the globe after they graduate. Their drive, creativity and passion will enable them to overcome any obstacles they face down the road. We will miss you seniors!
New Jersey Princeton University Mori Ono
Vermont Bennington College Cy Veilleux University of Vermont Nikolai Tang
Massachusetts Brandeis University Samuel Berkooz Tufts University Leah Dewey Mount Holyoke College Vanessa Farkas Smith College Lily Sickman-Garner
Rhode Island Brown University Tai Tworek
Ohio College of Wooster Mali Chappell-Lakin Charlie Rietz Dayton University Tommy Letke Oberlin College Shannon Kahan Nato Panitch
Conneticut Florida Jacksonville University Sela Gur-Arie
Northwestern University Ben Cooper School of the Art Institute of Chicago Romeo Klobucar
State University of New York at Plattsburgh Tes Hurd University of Rochester Helen Schmitter
*This map includes all seniors who responded to requests for plans.
Gap Year/Work /Other Miel Bogart Julianne Dial Miles Durr Ben Martins-Caulfield Rin Simmons Allison Cowherd Carmen Johnson Saxon Malchow
Wesleyan University Sophie Fetter
Pennsylvania Bryn Mawr College Ella Anderson Ella Roberts
Indiana Indiana University Zack Schueler Constants | May 2021| 115
MOCK AWARDS 2021
1 Class Heart Throb
Most Likely to Cheer You Up
Evan Ash and Josh Caldwell
4 Cutest Couple That Never Was Hannah Bernstein and Nano Peroff
Geneve Thomas-Palmer and Carmen Johnson
Cutest Couple That Was Grace Catchot and Anton Greene
Most Likely to be President Mori Ono and Martha Ribant
8 BFFS With Kevin
Sela Gur-Arie and Jenna Jarjoura
Leah Dewey and Anabelle Jones
Ana Morgan 116 | The Communicator Magazine
10 Sweetwaters Fiend
12 Most Likely to Drop a Successful Mixtape Gordon Lewis, Benicio Martins-Caulfield and Nikolai Tang
Most Free Blocks Noah Webb
The Chloe Root and Joslyn Hunscher-Young Award
Delia Binetti and Nikolai Tang
Worst Parker Julianne Dial
Most Likely to Leave Zoom Mic On Ally Dillon
Communicator Connoisseur Tai Tworek
18 Student Athletes
Tes Hurd and Hobbs Kessler Constants | May 2021| 117
Most Changed Since Freshman Year Dan Gutenberg
Most Likely to Ask ‘What is Going On?’
Double Agent Anton Greene
Most Likely to Sleep Through Zoom Zara Greene
Benicio Martins-Caulfield and Sam House
Most Likely to be Famous Finn Kilbride
Best Hair Transformations
Ameera Salman and Elizabeth Shaieb
Always Has Zoom Camera On Grace Thomas
118 | The Communicator Magazine
27 Most First Floor Selfies 28 Style Icons Lulu Bogun
Delia Binetti and Cy Veilleux
Most Likely to be Heard on the Third Floor Lulu Bogun
President of Every Club Mori Ono
31 Taken Personal Fitness
Aux Cord Expert Finn Kilbride
34Calculus Master Charles Solomon
Yerba Mate Ambassador Maika Brooks
Constants | May 2021| 119
Mori ONO CHS senior, Mori Ono, shares aspects of his life through Proust Questionnaire.
BY ELLA ROSEWARNE
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being swept up in a moment of curiosity that has me yearning to discover more about something fascinating. What is your greatest fear? A fear that at the end, I’ll be overwhelmed by a desire to be young again, to take the chances and make the memories that I never did — and know that I never again have the chance to do those things. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My indecisiveness. No matter what kind of decision I have to make, I spend way too much time trying to make the best decision, only to regret it later on. Which living person do you most admire? Brian May. How does one become a rock star and an astrophysicist? What is your greatest extravagance? Large-size cup of bubble tea. What is your current state of mind? Gratitude at the luck I ultimately have. On what occasion do you lie? How would you know that what I would say wouldn’t be a lie in itself? What do you most dislike about your appearance? My hair after sleeping in. What is the quality you most like in a man? The ability to build on each others’ sense of fun and humor. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Care in times of need. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Bruh. Ope. Literally.
120 | The Communicator Magazine
Uh. Crikey. When and where were you happiest? Maybe it’s painfully nerdy, but the International Space Development Conference a couple years ago in DC. I met so many amazing people working in the space industry and driven peers from across the globe. It seemed like everywhere I went, I could have an exciting conversation. Which talent would you most like to have? Balancing the study and the fun. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A tendency to be socially awkward. Sometimes, meeting new people and jumping into a conversation seems so easy, until I actually try. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My Space Settlement Contest entries. Throughout the near-sleepless nights spent researching, thinking and writing, I felt an incredible sense of drive and passion from within me. Regardless of the awards they got, they stood as something I was proud of. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? The Voyager 2 spacecraft. Imagine seeing four distant planets, their rings and their unique little moons. Where would you most like to live? In a tropics-themed O’Neill Cylinder — a large space station that rotates to simulate gravity — to combine peace with excite-
ment. What is your most treasured possession? My Squier Affinity Stratocaster guitar. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Making a decision fully under your control and wishing you could change it — even when it’s far too late. What is your favorite occupation? Aerospace engineering — particularly on the space side. There’s so much out in space — in resources, energy and just plain opportunity — and so much that aerospace engineers can do to make the most of
it. What is your most marked characteristic? The goofiest laugh. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty, conversation and wildness. Who are your favorite writers? Carl Sagan and Cixin Liu. Who is your hero of fiction? Iron Man. Obi-Wan Kenobi. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Gerard O’Neill: one guy who transformed the way we imagined the possibilities of space. Who are your heroes in real life? Anyone who can see
the connections that create the tapestry of the big picture. What are your favorite names? Julianna and Katerina. What is it that you most dislike? Stagnation and a lack of mutual understanding. What is your greatest regret? Staying in my shell when I could’ve reached out. How would you like to die? Being able to say the lyrics to “My Way” and have it feel honest. What is your motto? “Ad Astra Per Aspera.” (Through hardships to the stars.)
Photography by Ella Rosewarne Mori Ono enjoys time outside as plants bloom in Ann Arbor. The nearby blooming magenta bushes have added color to Ono’s view recently. Constants | May 2021| 121
HOW THEY HAVE
CHANGED CHS Seniors reflect on their styles through high school
BY GRACE WANG
122 | The Communicator Magazine
Lulu Bogun dressed like the girls she looked up to in her freshman year. Athleisure and American Eagle were staples of her wardrobe. However, after setting into CHS, she realized that students embraced their style. “I gained a lot of courage and realized that it would be okay to wear whatever I thought was cool,” Bogun said. The first time Bogun stepped outside of her comfort zone, she tried wearing one of her dad’s shirts to school. The oversized fit was a new silhouette for her, but as she walked through the halls, Bogun started hearing compliments. After school, she walked downtown, and random people on the street started telling her they liked her shirt. That confidence boost inspired her to begin developing a style of her own — consisting of clothing passed down to her from her father and grandma that she has modified to be better suited for her. She makes sure to add certain items or changes to an outfit to make it uniquely hers: necklaces, earrings or alterations to pieces. Fashion helps her relate to other people with similar fashion sense, like her family members. “Fashion is a way that my brother and I bond because they want to be a fashion designer,” Bogun said. “Once he got to college, he started giving me less mainstream clothes and clothes that I could really make an outfit out of. And I thought it was so cool. I kind of followed his footsteps.”
Constants | May 2021| 123
HOW THEY HAVE
124 | The Communicator Magazine
Fashion for Elizabeth Shaieb has evolved along with their journey through high school. It means more to them than the clothes they have on their body and the way she presents herself. In her freshman year, Shaieb started at a new school where she knew very few people. They observed rampant homophobia among their peers and began to feel unsafe and uncomfortable expressing herself. “My fashion reflected that I felt like I needed to conform to what I was seeing everyone else wearing,” Shaieb said. “I probably wore leggings every single day with a tight top. I have very curly hair, and I straightened it every single day. I wore heavy makeup because I was really insecure about my acne. I masked a lot of my natural features and wore very tight clothes because I thought that’s what I had to do to be attractive.” Freshman year, Shaieb was more focused on fitting in and suppressing their identity than showcasing it. When she got to CHS, she slowly began seeing how students experimented with fashion and wore whatever they wanted each day. The atmosphere allowed Shaieb to start thinking about ways to express themself. “I want to dress in a way that I feel confident,” Shaieb said. “It’s a way for me to experiment with gender identity as well. Now, clothing doesn’t equate to gender identity or sexuality, but as a way of expressing my identity, clothing has been an important part.” Shaieb now picks out their outfits based on how they make her feel. If it does not make her feel good, she will change it. “My motto is ‘do what feels good.’” Shaieb said. “So if I put on an outfit that I liked the other day, but I don’t like how it feels on me now, I take it off and put on something else.” Instead of trying to dress for others, Shaieb has found their style in dressing for herself.
Constants | May 2021| 125
HOW THEY HAVE
126 | The Communicator Magazine
Sophie Nunez wanted to fit in her freshman year at CHS. Nunez was afraid of trying new things and branching out from her well-known basics: tank tops and skinny jeans. Fashion was a way of showing that she “belonged.” As she became more comfortable in the community that is CHS, branching out did not feel like as big of a deal. “Freshman year, I spent a lot of time staring at myself in the mirror not liking myself,” Nunez said. “I dressed and did things for other people. So [now], I want outfits that make me feel confident and positive about my body. [At Community], there was just a lot more freedom, and I saw people wearing crazy outfits and doing whatever they wanted to. I felt like I wouldn’t be judged for what I wore.” Nunez now finds her style through ignoring what other people want. She started her sophomore year wanting to feel good about herself. “Fashion is a fun way to express myself, and it makes me feel good,” Nunez said. “Putting on a good outfit, and walking around somewhere knowing you look cute, is a big like confidence boost.” The fashion of the 2000s is a big part of Nunez’s current style. She finds inspiration through social media and the TV shows that she watches, like Degrassi. These forms of media allow her to find new ways to style her clothes and feel confident in herself.
Constants | May 2021| 127
HOW THEY HAVE
128 | The Communicator Magazine
ROMEO KLOBUCAR Fashion to Romeo Klobucar used to be about sleek, form-fitting, single pieces tailored to his body. Seeing and spending time with other students at CHS who had a personal sense of style showed Klobucar that he could wear clothing that made him happy with the way he looked. “Freshman year, I magnetized myself to any feminine, quirky clothing I could find,” Klobucar said. “I was very excited about the prospect of being openly gay, about being the gay kid.” Clothing and styles were not always at the front of Klobucar’s mind. Single pieces would stick out to him as interesting and fun, but he interacted with the concept of fashion infrequently. However, his views were very strict. “I had very much fallen prey to the Western idea of clothing,” Klobucar said. “That they have to be sleek and form fitting, or accent your body in some way. And a lot of the clothes I wear now are just not to that goal at all.” Klobucar’s new style is almost exactly the opposite of his previously designated rules. Through the environment and his friends at CHS, he gradually became more comfortable with experimenting and developing his style. He opts for a “faux lazy” look: one that appears low-effort. but that, in reality, takes coordination to achieve. “I would describe it as a little bit geriatric, a little bit senior citizen,” Klobucar said. “It’s a lot of neutral colors, neutral tones, beiges, white turtlenecks. I just like to wear a collection of clothes that look like they fit together and make me happy.”
Constants | May 2021| 129
Prose, Poetry Art.
In July I Dreamt We Were In Your Warm White House BY HELEN SCHMITTER
In july I dreamt we were in your warm white house. It isnt your house, but your mother was there and your sisters, and it was yours that night in my head, and it was closer to me so I wished it was yours. It was dark in the way that the lights didn’t need to be on. The fire was strong and there was a christmas tree in the room, we didnt see it. it was there. I can hear your mothers voice, warm as the fire in the way that a mothers voice should always be. We were on the hill, and it was snowy, and it was dark in the way cloudy nights with the ground covered in settled snow are never dark, and the light is nestled between the clouds and the snow. We were alone on the hill and it wasnt cold, it was perfect, and i got to forget that i missed you because i didnt have to miss you and i didnt have to think about how long ive been missing you and all the ways. We had to walk somewhere, or i did Last friday i was driving to the barn out in the country and i looked at the intersection i always look twice at, i almost hit a car there once and it was the same moment as when i almost hit the same car at the roundabout on scio church, and there was the house that was yours and wasnt. Ive driven this drive for almost ten years. There was a barn that wasnt at your house that wasnt your house in the dream — or it was but it was backward, and it was dark in the blue way of the light leaving on a winter day that was sunny like a gift. It even leaves pretty. I missed you in all ways i didnt have to in that dream. I practice driving with my left hand in case i get to hold yours on this drive one day, and i consider what to tell you about the horses.
130 | The Communicator Magazine
A Letter to My Past Self BY GORDON LEWIS
Dear past self, You don’t need those toothbrush-clean Air Jordan 1s; You’ll find your feet and your soul in beat-up, two year old Stan Smiths. Try not to waste time molding your hair into a fetid mess of earthy, salty clay, & choose breakfast over the clothes the world will see you in. Don’t waste your time redrawing ink stains: The past is in the past, but don’t pass on the chance to fix what may be broken. You’re just a tadpole — a 14, 15, 16 year old still learning to swim with the limbs that have started to grow. How can someone learn to catch themself if they’ve never once tripped and fallen? It may take a ubiquitous pause. The bird’s-eye view of rolling seas and woody scent of sequoias will stand as an unwanted wait, but your patience will pay as your room will become your cocoon. It’ll be a place to brush aside the outside & slip into those aforementioned Stan Smiths. The time has not quite come to emerge, But we’re all pounding on the iron door. & when the seemingly welded hinges finally creak open, the new normal may end, But yours is just beginning.
Constants | May 2021| 131
The Side Effects of Potter County BY LEAH DEWEY
You tell me how you used to hold down chickens while your dad cut their heads off Together we eat chili in your kitchen that’s also a dining room that’s also a living room Newports ooze out of the wall and creep down your burnt umber wallpaper There’s never much in your fridge but beer and orange juice When I’m there I wish I were somewhere else, But I always wish I was there when I’m not.
Lemons & Limes BY CHLOE DURKEE
when you don’t see someone everyday it’s easy to forget about them their picture slowly fades till they’re nothing but a sour smell that you remember but don’t know what from home changes for me in the cold winters my mother’s dark blue chandler house filled with lemons & cilantro & avocados consistently provides stability in the summers i fall, like a bird too scared to leave the nest, on my own to my second home the second family that all sleep in tents to see the night sky & listen to the crickets eating lentils & beans & quinoa all together. two weeks of thatching grass roofs & avoiding as many bee hives as we can. scorching hot barefoot and tank top days turned into patagonia wool blanket nights. sunsets that can’t compare to michigan but sunrises like i’ve never seen 132 | The Communicator Magazine
Lady Fate BY AMEERA SALMAN
there are so many things i want to see.
but even if fate is a pretty lady
correction: that i’m going to see
who says i’ll listen?
i thought i’d see them all with her
why not cut ties with what’s holding you back?
i know i’m crazy
get what you want
a hopeless romantic
love who you want
an all or nothing kind of person
and although it’s hard
it’s not up to you
i wouldn’t have it any other way
and I’d say that to your face.
because i love
because even women can be wrong
even i can wrong
but not in this
that i know no one else
my story may not end like the notebook
loves like me
but let me tell you something.
no one will ever love her
it’ll be just as epic.
like i did
and make just as many people cry.
and i’m okay with that i want to give everyone everything but not everyone wants everything not even when they act like they do but given what i’ve told you so far what do i say to the notion of fate is she a person a divine goddess puppeteering our lives from above what if she’s like me? telling the story of the notebook for generations or what if she’s not? and she thinks we don’t belong together now, reader given what i’ve told you so far, you must think i’m crazy a scorned girl determined to end up with her first love no matter who she must cross
Constants | May 2021| 133
We Are All Very Happy BY LILY SICKMAN-GARNER
Mother turns to me, face bathed in firelight, teeth bared in a too wide smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. “I am so very happy,” she says. I watch as she turns back to her needlepoint, still smiling. She pricks her finger and laughs as the fabric in her hands is stained red. I try to stifle the laughter bubbling up in my own throat, to still the smile creeping across my face. “Why aren’t you laughing, dear? Are you unhappy?” “No, Mother. I am very happy.” Mother and Father were lucky. They reached their Happily Ever After young, were not forced to live too long in Once Upon a Time. They never told me about Before, and eventually I stopped asking. It’s easier this way. Sometimes, when I was too persistent, they would cry. It was a grating sound, painful to listen to. I used to wonder what my Happily Ever After would be. That was before I noticed the blankness in my parents’ eyes, the way their smiles look fixed. Sometimes I can feel the pull, guiding me to make this choice or another one. It’s subtle, obscured by a hazy illusion of safety. Sometimes I want to scream. The room is silent now except for the spitting fire. We sit for a long time, perfect posture and pretty smiles. I think of the porcelain dolls sitting on display in my bedroom, their limbs stiff and their faces painted on. One of them has a chip at the edge of her eye, from some accident when I was very young. She has always been my favorite. Mother begins to hum; her voice is soft and perfectly on key. I feel tight, trapped here in this beautiful room with the fire and my mother sitting next to me humming the same melody again and again. I sit perfectly still and stare into the flames until I can close my eyes and still see red. I turn to see Mother placing her needlepoint carefully on the table next to her, standing as if she’s made of the same silk as her dress. I imagine throwing the needlepoint into the fire, watching it burn. “I’ll make dinner now,” she says, before opening the door to the sitting room and gliding down the wide windowed hallway beyond. Her golden hair catches the light from the setting sun and glows. I turn back to the fire. The needlepoint is sitting so close to it. If I don’t do something I think I’ll lose my mind. I wrench myself out of my chair and stand, my stomach writhing. I lift the needlepoint off the table, clenching it in one shaking fist. My steps are heavy as I walk towards the fire. I stop in front of it, and let the piece of cloth fall into the flames. They devour it, hungry, as I watch in stillness. I turn to stone from the inside out, staring into the fire as the needlepoint blackens and shrivels. I don’t hear them behind me until Mother screams. It’s piercing, cutting through the stone in my veins so I fall to the floor. “What have you done?” Father asks, confused and desperate. “Why would you do this?” Mother reaches into the fire, grasping at the withered remains of her needlepoint. She screams again,
134 | The Communicator Magazine
frantic, as her skin begins to shine and tighten, stretching across the back of her hand. She turns to me, tears glistening on her cheeks. “Why, darling?” She pulls her hand out of the fire and cups my face in her blistered palm. “Are you unhappy?” “No, Mother, I am very happy. I’m sorry.” I watch, numb, as she smiles. “We are all very happy. Dinner is ready.” She stands, and leads us down the hall into the brightly lit dining room. The food is beautiful, laid out on silver trays and silk napkins. I can barely take a bite. “Is something wrong, dear?” Father looks at my full plate. “You aren’t eating the food your mother cooked for us.” I lift my fork to my mouth and retreat into the foggy comfort of what’s expected. The pit of my stomach is in knots, but there’s food in front of me, and I’m supposed to eat it. “Nothing’s wrong. Dinner is delicious.” I lie awake that night, eyes wide open in the dark, picturing the needlepoint catching fire over and over in my mind. The thrill of it makes me smile as my eyelids droop and my mind goes blank. When I wake up, my back aches. The sun is shining through the window to my right; I stand and walk over to it, looking outside. The sky is a brilliant blue, the grass a vivid green and so soft I think I could jump into it from here and not get hurt. I gaze out at it, so perfect it could be a painting. My thoughts begin to go hazy, but I feel something else too, suspicion prickling at the back of my mind. It’s too flawless, too luscious and alluring. It’s trying to placate me, make me forget what happened yesterday and why. I shake my head violently, turning away from the window. I reach for the lamp sitting next to my bed and hurl it at the floor; as it shatters a piece of glass slices my foot and I jump back. The knot in the pit of my stomach twists, gleeful; it was easier this time. I laugh at the smashed remains of the lamp below me. The blood beads on the skin of my foot, and I remember how Mother pricked her finger on her needle, how she laughed too. I pluck a piece of glass from the floor, examining its jagged edges in giddy astonishment. I turn to see my parents in the doorway, faces stricken and pale. “Why aren’t you laughing?” I feel tears of mirth on my cheeks. “Are you unhappy?” “No, dear.” Mother’s voice is rough and broken. “We are very happy.” “Come away from that glass.” Father looks up from the shards at my feet to my face, and there’s something new in his eyes. I think it might be fear. The thought of my parents’ empty minds feeling fear makes me giggle, doubling over again. “Come away,” he says again, more urgently this time. I step lightly around the chips of glass, stopping in front of my parents.
“What’s wrong?” I ask with a wide smile. “Nothing’s wrong.” Mother looks like she’s about to cry. I slide between them and out into the hall. I hear them following me, still cautious. “May we go into town today?” I ask, because my mind is clear now. “Yes, dear. That sounds lovely.” I can hear Father’s voice shaking a little. “We’ll go after breakfast.” The streets are bustling with empty smiles on blank faces. The market stalls are full of little wooden carvings and beeswax candles, fresh fish and just-baked bread. Mother and Father walk in front of me, arm in arm. The knot in the pit of my stomach is clawing to get out. Its rage is inviting, refreshing after so many years of blithe submission. My veins are humming with it. I clench my fists in the pockets of my dress and my left hand brushes the matchbook, the one that usually rests by the fireplace in our sitting room. There’s so much cloth and wood here. I let Mother and Father get ahead of me as I trail farther and farther behind. A young woman sits quietly in a booth, staring straight ahead, hands folded in her lap. A mother rocks her child
to sleep, singing of cradles and wind. I look around at the people I’m passing, at their smiles, but none of them meet my eyes. I slip behind a market stall, unnoticed. I crouch, pulling the matches out of my pocket and lighting one, taking a moment to marvel at how the flame flickers, so fragile. Then I lower it to the edge of the cloth in front of me. Fire sparks and spreads, starting slow and then gaining momentum, until it engulfs the stall in a blaze of red and gold. People scream and run as I rise to my feet, walking calmly out into the center of the street. I think I see the glint of Mother’s hair, the flash of Father’s watch in the crush of bodies swarming in every direction, but I stand still, unyielding. All I can see is light; it’s like standing in the center of the sun. Shadows blur my vision as the smoke begins to smother me. I choke and my eyes burn, but my feet are rooted to the ground. I revel in the freedom of it, letting out a bark of hoarse laughter. Rough hands reach into the darkness and grab hold of my arms. I’m dragged out of the blaze and thrown into the back seat of a car. I’m barely conscious, but I force myself to sit up and stare out the back window as I’m taken away. I see the remains of the marketplace crumble into ash and my eyes light up, finally alive, face cracking open in a smile like the rising sun.
VANESSA FARKAS Constants | May 2021| 135
ETHEREAL GARDEN Thud BY ELIZABETH SHAIEB
Part one: The Child
Part two: The Stone
Left hand gripping the side of my brother’s stroller A freshly discovered red stone in my right
I am lifted from the dirt by little hands Peered into by curious eyes and a gappy smile Clenched tight in a balled fist, I wonder where I am going
I will add this rock to my collection of tiny pretty things thud It hits the ground while we are crossing the road Before I have time to scoop it back up, I am yanked along by my left hand Hurry Elizabeth, the light is already counting down, see?
Back and forth I swing as the child walks I can tell I’m not far from the ground thud Air whooshes out from under and over me Car motors roar closely I am small
I don’t say anything but look back at the stone Wait here my mother says once we’ve crossed She runs into the street with 2 seconds to spare And returns with a red stone
Moments pass Then I am grabbed by bigger hands Colder, worn and in a hurry They are quick to hand me off Into the welcoming palm of the child Back in the clutches of the child’s hand A small voice whispers I’m so glad to have you back!
136 | The Communicator Magazine
Siphonophoria BY CY VEILLEUX
Until Mother Nature held up her mighty pin And popped its helium balloon that let it fly so high See the surface of the water Many aren’t able to ever see And so it sank Down into the depths of the Atlantic Staring up at the surface’s underbelly Seeing what it had just lost Fall out of reach Fade out of sight It sank until it didn’t know which way was up or down Until all it could see was black It shed a tear While remembering the blues and greens It so misses already By now, it can’t see itself anymore But soon an orchestra of color danced in its eyes Those blues and greens returned to say one last goodbye But new colors joined in as well Colors it had never seen before Orange and yellow and magenta All joined in As its tentacles coiled up Some meeting each other for the first time It saw beauty it never knew existed But as its last droplet of air blistered out of its bladder And all its tentacles parted once again The creature didn’t weep It left without a sound Just like it so peacefully entered
Constants | May 2021| 137
Ayla Soofi, CHS senior, found connection in her family through art over the past year. BY ELLA ROSEWARNE
138 | The Communicator Magazine
While scrolling through Pinterest in early quarantine, Ayla Soofi, a senior at CHS, discovered a new way to create art: vectoring. Traditionally a digital artist, Soofi wanted to put her own twist by painting on a canvas. Her first art piece using vectoring was a portrait of her mother. She started in April and finished the piece May 2020. She included it in her portfolio for her college application to the University of Michigan
Stamps School of Art and Design. “My mom is basically my life,” Soofi said. “She knows me more than anyone, and she’s been with me through my ups and downs. I’ve learned so [much] from her. I look up to her. She’s my role model, and she’s mainly the reason why I am who I am today.” Over the summer, she attended an online pre-college course also at Stamps. They
gave her advice on her portfolio she submitted in her application; they suggested she make a landscape vectoring piece. Her grandparents porch came to mind. In the past year, Soofi has felt the distance over the globe between her and her extended family. To feel connected to her family during times they are separated, Soofi painted her grandparents’ porch in Lahore, Pakistan. “I’m Pakistani American, and I’m proud to have this identity,” Soofi said. “I get to experience and live in a whole different world. My grandparents’ veranda reminded me of my culture and background. I’m especially lucky to have a place across the globe that’s been in my life since childhood. While painting this, I felt like I was back [on] that porch. Acting like a 7-year-old, painting with watercolors at the table, or sleeping on the swing in the summer with the fan on my face. It’s a piece for my family and [me], to make us feel like we’re in my grandparents’ house during these Covid-19 times.” This porch is home to Soofi — a place she remembers her family all together. Soofi has not visited her family since the summer of 2019. They generally visit every year or every other. Since they could not this year, she painted the porch to keep in her home and remind them of Lahore. “There’s a lot of small stories,” Soofi said. “It’s a spot that we hang out every morning for breakfast. We’d sit on the swing [and] talk with family every time we reunite. I exercise with my grandpa and uncle on the porch. [My cousin and I] would make vlogs or do photoshoots. Next door, they have two golden retrievers, [and] on the lawn, I would play with them. Here and there, there’s little memories that come together as one whole.” During the pandemic, Soofi has missed this porch and the memories there. Soofi’s family is from Lahore but has spread across the globe. “Most of my family has branched off in
different parts of the world,” Soofi said. “When [we] come together, you get a feel of a different part of the world. One of my aunts lives in London, another in Dubai, some in Pennsylvania and some in South Africa. We all come together, and they talk about their experiences or they’ll bring small gifts. Or we go there for experiences, and it’s really nice having people all over the place. That also gives you an excuse to go there and visit them.” Being so geographically separated, online gatherings have been difficult to organize for Soofi’s family. “During the pandemic, it’s really difficult because we’re so spread out that we can’t come together and meet up,” Soofi said. With several time zones to accommodate for, they have struggled to connect over the past year; they have found new ways to stay in touch and celebrate, though.
“The year 2020 was supposed to be a special year in terms of birthdays and anniversaries, but travel plans got canceled,” Soofi said. “On those days, we held a Zoom call. If the calls weren’t possible, we found alternate ways. On my maternal grandparents’ 50th anniversary, my siblings, cousins and I collaborated on a video that compiled memories, jokes, songs, photos and personal videos from each person within our extended family.” Zoom calls, family videos and painting reminded and connected Soofi and her family over the past year. “It was an escape from reality as if I was in a TV show or in that place rather than stuck at home during a pandemic,” Soofi said. “It was a piece made, from not only my memories since I was a child in that veranda, but my entire extended family.”
Constants | May 2021| 139
Art Gallery Ayla Soofi BY ELLA ROSEWARNE
2 Art by Ayla Soofi TOP LEFT: The first of Soofi’s vectoring series was a painting of her mom. She started in April 2020 and finished in May 2020. BOTTOM LEFT: The second in her vectoring series was an experiment for Soofi to work with color and texture. TOP RIGHT: The third is her grandparents porch in Lahore, Pakistan. It serves hanging in her house as a reminder of her family. BOTTOM RIGHT: The fourth piece pushed Soofi to practice with different shades of mainly pink. She started this in early January and finished in midFebruary.
140 | The Communicator Magazine
4 Constants | May 2021| 141
CY VEILLEUX BY ZARA GREENE
There are a great number of creative students at CHS, and with all of the extra time that they’ve had on their hands, creating art has been a good use of time and an outlet for many. Here, seniors at CHS share what art means to them, the meaning behind some of their pieces and more. Cy Veilluex, a senior in the Matt Johnson forum, defines what art means to him. “Art, to me, is any form of expression, whether that be fashion, physical art — like drawing, painting, printmaking, 3D art, music, dance — anything like that to express or convey feelings,” Veilleux said. “Creating art makes me feel good,” Veilleux said. “Whenever you’re really free and just kind of mindlessly drawing — that’s what always happens — that’s when I make my best work. I always get my best pieces out of being zoned out in math class and drawing on homework.” The roots of his inspiration for creating art started with his family. “I’m surrounded by artists. My dad is an artist, and I really loved his art.” He says that he mostly takes his art form between his dad and a French artist named Jean Dubuffet. “It’s colorful,” Veilleux said. “Sometimes it doesn’t make much sense, and sometimes it does. There’s always a lot going on.” Veilleux says he was even named after an artist: Cy Twombly. He usually never does his art in one sitting. It’s a process that he breaks into different pieces when he’s feeling inspired. He always starts his drawings by making cartoon faces, and the drawing grows into something different as he proceeds. He enjoys making his art different by adding eccentric features. “I’ll usually start with the nose and the mouth, and then I’ll add some big monster ears or give it a huge mouth, or something like that.” Since Veilleux usually makes art while doodling, it ends up being displayed on random items that are around his house, like a cutting board or on the back of his old driver’s license. 142 | The Communicator Magazine
“I express my feminine side through art a lot too because I don’t present that way,” Veilleux said. “This is super feminine. I guess the way you dress and look is not the only feminine thing that you can do.”
“I really like this one because it’s tiny and it’s on the back of my driver’s license. I don’t like being limited by space with my art, so if it’s small like this, I like to cram in as much stuff as I can.” Veilleux said. “I really like drawing faces, I’ve been drawing them forever. Not one face is the same, and when you’re drawing it, you can go as extreme as possible. There’s never a limit.” Constants | May 2021| 143
BY TAI TWOREK
Would you consider yourself an artist? No. One of my hobbies is not art. I think that if music is considered an art, then yes, I consider myself an artist. If you consider photography once in a while for fun — like I did for Cy and Zara and I plan on doing for my friends — then yes, I consider myself an artist. But I don’t think I am the stereotypical artist. How did you get into photography if you don’t really consider yourself a traditional artist? In middle school, I got really into photography, and I was like, ‘I’m going to be a photographer some day.’ So my parents got me a Canon camera for Christmas, and that was my one gift. That was something I always wanted all of middle school, so I finally got that, and I just messed around with it. I made one of those Instagrams where I just put my photography up. Actually, I think Ebba [Gurney] sparked something in me. I was like, ‘I want to take photos of the articles I’m writing for The Communicator. I don’t want to find one online. I don’t want to have to rely on someone else to send me a photo.’ So it started with sports games, and I remember, I think it was the beginning of junior year, I took this beautiful photo of Pioneer men’s soccer on senior night. It was just so fun that I took that photo. Ebba, who had taught me about lighting and taught me about angles, texted me and told me what a beautiful photo it was. Along with that, me and Hannah [Bernstein] got into In My Rooms, and I was in charge of the photos for that. I started learning about angles and lighting. It pretty much started with The Communicator, where the passion for photography kind of sparked.
144 | The Communicator Magazine
“With Cy, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll try to take your photos. I don’t know if they’ll come out well.’ I was super into it, I watched a bunch of videos on how to take photos, I practiced different angles, things like that. I think that was also super easy because Cy knows how to pose. Cy knows what to do. Same with Zara. She knows what to do to a certain extent. I don’t know how to pose for the life of me. I think that it was just something fun, and they turned out great. It’s definitely something that I plan on doing for my friends in the future. It’s just something that surprised me that I was actually good at.” Constants | May 2021| 145
BY NATALIE MYCEK-CARD
What was your first memory of art and what sparked your interest in it? In general, I’ve always been drawing and doing art. It’s been just something I’ve loved doing, partially because my sister did it — my older sister — and when I was little ,I saw her drawing and I was like, ‘I want to do that.’ Also, with my ADHD, it really helps me to focus my thoughts and pay attention when I’m in like class and stuff. I draw during lectures and notes, things like that. But yeah, it’s hard to place because I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t drawing. In the whole dome of art, I know that there are different aspects, like photography, clay and ceramics, painting, and all that. I’m guessing that you’re into drawing, do you like digital art or something else? I do. I mostly do traditional because it’s easier, and I don’t have a very good way to do digital art. My iPad is my sister’s she had from college ,and she was in college like 10 years ago. But I do do digital art. I usually start with traditional, and then I kind of like trace it on my iPad to add in the next and go into more depth with it than I could have traditional. [Traditional drawing], you can take it anywhere, you can use it during class without teachers telling you to get off your iPad. What can you remember from any picture, referring to your techniques freshman year versus senior year? I still mostly draw fan art. That’s always kind of been my thing, and I still have the bad habit of drawing a lot of the same poses and the same angles, which is just a bad habit I still haven’t gotten out of. But I think the major thing that has changed is my understanding. I’ve learned a lot of techniques through that. When I was in my sophomore and junior year, I took more advanced art classes with Steve. And those really pushed me out of my like comfort zone with figure drawing and trying to draw what I saw. It really helped me to get a better understanding of anatomy and help push me away from what I might normally do, which, in a weird way helps me go back to what I normally do afterwards with more understanding of it. And so I think that’s the biggest difference between my like modern art and my art from like four years ago is there’s just a clear, better understanding of the anatomy of the human body. What materials do you use whenever you are creating a drawing? I normally use pencils and pens, though occasionally, I’ll use markers or colored pencils. And that’s when I do traditional. When I’m not doing traditional, I use my iPad. Then I took a painting class this year, as you know, paint and painting. I didn’t do much painting in the past, but that’s also kind of pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way, and so I’ve been doing a bit more painting than I would have otherwise.
146 | The Communicator Magazine
Constants | May 2021| 147
SIENNAH DUCHATEAU BY NATALIE MYCEK-CARD
In October of her freshman year, Siennah DuChateau, a Community High School senior, had finished a drawing of Marceline from Adventure time — a fictional character in an animated show featured on Cartoon Network. The picture, drawn in marker, was done for the Inktober Challenge, an annual event held in October that challenges artists to create drawings based off of different daily prompts. DuChateau still participates in this challenge and is getting closer to her goal, finishing an artwork a day. When DuChateau came to Community High School, she was impressed at the variety of art programs, which offered more than the district she came from, Saline, and allowed her to spend time in art studios developing and improving her work. Most of her artwork is inspired by video games, TV shows and other media, such as graphic novels. One of the drawings she did in her senior year, depicting a Dungeons & Dragons character she created, showcases her ability and talent with digital art, a platform in which DuChateau has improved her techniques throughout her high school years. 148 | The Communicator Magazine
Constants | May 2021| 149
Our Turn: Change Communicator seniors discuss change. BY ANJALI KAKARLA
“I am just extremely grateful that I got the opportunity to go to Community. I remember freshman year, I lacked critical thinking. I didn’t dig deep into history or math, or a book that I was reading for an English class, none of that. It was very surface level thinking, and people like Tracy and Maneesha really helped me to ask deeper questions. So I think that for me, the biggest thing is that my critical thinking overall has changed. I’m gonna miss Community so much, but at the same time, I’m so excited to use what I’ve learned from Community in the real world.”
“In the fall, I really struggled in online school. I love Community, I love the building, I love my teachers, my friends, so it was tough. I think at a certain point, I kind of accepted that I just wasn’t going to have a senior year, and that’s totally fine. I was able to get two and a half, three really good years. And that’s really what was important: to recognize that. And once I did, it was a lot easier to get through online school, and it made it a lot easier to get excited about when things will return to normal and when I can be in a new place in my life.”
Lily Sickman-Garner “As a freshman, I was pretty shy. I was nervous, and I didn’t want to make a bad impression. It took me a while to feel like part of Community and to feel like I had enough of a place there where it was okay for me to be my actual self. I don’t know that I’ve changed that much at my core [since freshman year], but I feel like my actual personality is more evident, and I’m more in touch with the kind of person I am and the kind of person I want to be. ”
“I think I was definitely more shy and less confident my freshman year. I didn’t really know what I was interested in. I didn’t know what I wanted to spend my time doing, and I definitely think just exploring different classes and CRs at Community was one way that I sort of started to figure that out. I’m more comfortable not knowing what I’m doing now. I really wanted to know what I was going to be doing all the time and what I needed to be doing to look good on paper. And I think especially this year, I’ve really sort of moved away from that in a way that I think has been really good for me.”
150 | The Communicator Magazine
“I think I was just trying to gain my confidence a lot [freshman year]. I was just trying to find my confidence and my group of people and my footing. I found people that I looked up to, and I wanted to be exactly like them. I think that having such great role models that I really admired, and just seeing what they were doing inside and outside the classroom, really pushed me to strive to be like them and just emulate all their good qualities. These relationships and everything that I have right now at Community are life long. The lessons I’ve learned here and just being around all these great people has really allowed my confidence to flourish, and I just feel able to reach out to anybody at any point in my life and feel comfortable doing so.”
“I think a lot of my change over the past four years can be attributed back to Community. I think the biggest things have been my extracurriculars, such as Mock Trial, journalism and jazz. I think those things had a really big role in shaping me. They’ve helped me feel a lot more confident about putting my ideas out there and being comfortable with my ideas. Community itself has also shaped me in a lot of ways, I feel like I’m a part of the Community community. And to leave that, it’s sad. I love the teachers. I love my classmates. They’re really great people, really great mentors and really great leaders. It’s been a wonderful few years, and it feels weird to leave that. I’m excited for next year, but there’s gonna be a lot I’ll miss.”
“As a freshman, I didn’t have that much of a sense of ambition or long term goals on what I wanted to do. I was definitely more shy; I didn’t really go out there and take opportunities as I saw them. I think over my time at Community, I’ve been able to chart my own path. Community is definitely a really special place because there’s always interesting interactions and unique traditions going on that definitely stick with you. They’re just the kind of thing that, looking back, I think I’ll always remember. I definitely want to keep in touch with the people that I’ve become friends with throughout my years at Community, and at the same time, being able to branch out to this new world that I’m going to be a part of for the next few years as well.”
Geneve Thomas-Palmer “I didn’t come from middle school with any friends at Community. It was insecurities and questioning myself and questioning my relationships with others that made my freshman year a hard one. I was also figuring out I was a lesbian and coming out of the closet, so that just added even more stress on to what was already a new and sort of scary situation. Since Covid hit, I’ve really just figured out who I am, and I’ve learned how to like myself and how to enjoy just spending time with myself and to find people and surround myself with people who I can still be myself around.”
Constants | May 2021| 151
152 | The Communicator Magazine