The Communicator, v. 48, Ed. 2, 2021-2022

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CET presents “She Kills Monsters,” their first live performance since fall 2019. Page 4 January 2022 | 1


The front cover of our second edition features CET’s premiere of “She Kills Monsters.” A play set in the 1990s that follows teen, Agnes Evans, her friends and family through D&D, Dungeons and Dragons. Evan’s younger sister dies and communicates with her through D&D. The cover shows three actors performing live, on stage for the first time in two years. Our cover represents our community together again and a return to normalcy. The inside cover features the character Agnes Evans, played by Ebie Lamb, in the final scene of the play as she fights the last monster. 2 | The Communicator Magazine



News 04

January, 2022

She Kills Monsters BY MCKENNA DUMAN

“She Kills Monsters” lit up the stage with the life of a modern teenager, despite taking place in the ‘90s.


Giving Back Since 2009 BY LUCY CASSELL-KELLEY

CHS’s annual Food Gatherer’s fundraiser, a tradition rich in history, raised 78,000 dollars by students and staff.

Feature 10


A look into one of CHS’s oldest traditions and what it has done right and wrong.



CHS members share their takes on LGBTQ+ high school dating culture.





Inside the heads of AAPS students who have been cancelled and those who have done the cancelling.

Opinion 50

Agree to Disagree



Style This - 58

Should AAPS requiere athletes to wear masks for winter sports season?

Reviews - 62 Artist Profile - 68

Humans of Community - 70

Games - 74 January 2022 | 3

Letter from the Editors Dear Readers, Although there was doubt, we have stayed in-person long enough to write, design and produce our second edition of the 2021-2022 school year! This edition was written in the midst of the development of the Omicron virus, school shootings and storms across the country. Despite being physically together, we feel extremely isolated — by generation, by politics and by race. In an attempt to bring our community closer, we chose a special theme for this edition: culture. The magazine we put together reflects both the best and the worst of our society from the perspective of teenagers. Culture is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time.” We have taken this definition and used it to explore our culture, which we are surrounded by constantly. This edition is filled with different parts of culture. Our staff used their unique experiences to create meaningful stories about topics like food, dance, style and education. This edition was hard; It was difficult to write, amongst the terror of the Oxford shooting and the exhaustion of in-person school, and it was heavy to read, as well. But these stories are important, and rife with humanness and connection. We believe that humanness is important, especially in these times. We also do not want stories of heartache and grief to block out the rays of hope that we have witnessed. All of the Print Editors have gotten their booster shots, which came with sore arms and safety for our community. We have gathered together to send notes of love to Oxford High School, led by CHS’s Depression Awareness Group. And here we are, sending out our second edition to our community in the hopes that it brings some light and truth in these dark months. Thank you for reading our stories and experiencing the culture we have grown up in or around. We appreciate every single one of you. Your Editors,

Noah Bernstein





Mia Goldstein

Ria Lowenschuss

Ella Rosewarne

Grace Wang 4 | The Communicator Magazine


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

PHOTO BY GRACE WANG School News Coverage | Humans of Community | Movie & Book Reviews Fashion | Podcasts | Arists Profiles | & More January 2022 | 5

CET Presents She Kills Monsters CHS’s first live show in two years, “She Kills Monsters” lit up the stage with an accurate portrayal of the life of a modern teenager, despite taking place in the ‘90s. BY MCKENNA DUMAN

Around 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, members of the cast and crew of Community Ensemble Theater’s (CET) “She Kills Monsters” began trickling into the theater for the start of Tech Week. Ebie Lamb, an actor in CET, first became interested in theater at a young age. “I just love seeing that interaction people had onstage and offstage, as I grew up, I wanted to have the interaction so I joined theater groups, and I just kind of stayed with it the whole rest of the way,” she said. When Lamb found out she wascast in the show, she was very excited. “I love the show so much just because it [is] so unique,” Lamb said. “I’ve never seen a musical about D&D, or about learning about yourself throughout high school and understanding the struggles that teenagers go through during their [lives].” Abby Frank, one of the Student Technical Directors for “She Kills Monsters,” really enjoys the energy and suspense that comes with being a part of running crew. “You’ve got to make sure you’re really on top of things, paying attention to the running crew plot, looking up to the people who have more experience in it and who can help you as you figure out what you’re doing,” Frank said. “It feels really special to watch the stage transformed because of something you’re working on.” Lots of time and effort is put into the making of the different components of the show, such as designing and making the costumes, brainstorming ideas for props, then collecting materials and creating the props and designing and 6 | The Communicator Magazine

putting together sets. All of this is done as a team. “I thought the costumes for the show were fantastic and the costumes crew did an amazing job,” Frank said. “I also really enjoyed the huge props. I thought they were fantastic. The dragon heads were so amazing, and props worked so hard on them. It kind of just brought the whole show together all those big props pieces.” Tech week is always an extremely hectic and action-packed week for CET. “Tech week is chaotic and wonderful,” Frank said. “It’s a big time

commitment, [we’re] at school until nine p.m. most nights, but it just is such a great bonding time. It’s really just a fun time and it makes it feel special to be at school that late and to be hanging out with people who you helped build this beautiful thing.” CET is a very tight-knit group of people and many CET members, including Lamb, view it as a family. “CET has such a wonderful community with its people,” Lamb said. “Every time I see a CET member, I wave in the hallway and they wave immediately back at me. They know my name and it’s just a great bond.”

Photo By Mia Goldstein Ebie Lamb poses on stage in purple light. Lamb stars as Agnes Evans in “She Kills Monsters.” “I love the show so much just because it [is] so unique,” Lamb said.

Forum Council FoCo Co-President Avani Hoeffner-Shah emphasizes the importance of traditions. BY AVANI HOEFFNER-SHAH

Counselor’s Corner

The CHS counselors provide reassurance and advice for students and staff during this period of uncertainty. BY NATALIE MYCEK-CARD

Tucked away in the second-floor stairwell sits the counselor’s office. Home to the CHS counselors, Amy McLoughlin and Brian Williams, the office provides reassurance during these uncertain times. “I think the world we live in — and you all know this better than the adults — it’s really tough right now, and things are happening way beyond our control,” McLoughlin says. McLoughlin says that reassurance doesn’t mean that nothing bad will happen, but rather that people come together during a stressful event. “What gives me reassurance is if the adults are responding appropriately in these situations,” McLoughlin says. “For example, when those [spam emails] went out, our IT department stayed up all night to try to fix it.” Williams also stresses the importance of communications during these times.

“It’s crucial to have clear communication and provide as much detail as we can give to assure people that things are being addressed correctly and appropriately,” Williams said. “We live in [a] world where information comes out so fast and we have to have plans in place to get the initial communication out as fast as possible to bring down any potential anxiety.” McLoughlin wants students to know that focusing on their mental health should take priority. “Self-care is so important,” McLoughlin says. “And it’s not just, ‘Oh, get a massage’. It’s figuring out how you get centered in the middle of chaos.” In the midst of this unrest and anxiety, Williams believes that we need good days and it’s up to us to create them. “We have to start taking control,” Williams said. “We need to come in with the mindset, ‘I’m going to make sure that I’m taking care of the people around me.”

Photo By Natalie Mycek-Card Amy McLoughlin (left) and Brian Williams (right) work in the counseling office on a Monday morning. The two CHS counselors work on reassuring CHS students and staff through meetings and office hours. “We have to start taking control,” Williams said. “We need to come in with the mindset, ‘I’m going to make sure that I’m taking care of the people around me.”

We know that traditions are important to CHS. Forum Council is working hard to include fun events in our school calendar. It’s been difficult to stay connected, even when we’ve been back in classrooms. That’s why traditions, new and old, are more important than ever. We were excited by the overwhelming participation in our annual Halloween Spirit Week. We ended the week on a strong note, with a great showing from teachers and students in the yearly costume contest. In the coming weeks, we hope to continue some traditions that have been delayed by a spate of school closures. Our annual multicultural fair and Food Gatherers fundraiser celebration are an important part of our school’s values. These events help to show off our connection with one another and the broader Ann Arbor community. We look forward to holding them in the new year. We also know that there is value in introducing new traditions. Our old traditions mostly bookend the school year. We want to keep the excitement alive all year, even in the dreary months. That’s why we’re hoping to create a new festive winter event, and why we will continue to prioritize community building events throughout the year. We hope to see the same commitment and dedication to CHS traditions that we saw on spirit week! We would love to hear your input and ideas about ways that we can boost school spirit! News | January 2022 | 7

Skyline Volleyball Falls Just Short of State Title Skyline High School volleyball was a top runner for the state title; they put in the time on and off the court, but their efforts fell just short on championship day.


For Skyline High School’s (SHS) girls varsity volleyball, everything seemed to be going their way: they held the number one state ranking for the majority of the fall season, and their overall record before entering the state championship game was a pristine 55-4-1. Winning the state championship for the first time in SHS history did not seem out of reach. Their team of 14 players was undoubtedly the strongest it has ever been in program history, too. They boasted the number one recruit in the country for the ‘23 graduating class, Harper Murray, as well as multiple other college commits

8 | The Communicator Magazine

including seniors Lauren Lee and Cari Bohm. The team was a close knit group of girls that had great chemistry, which was evident in the energy that they carried on and off the volleyball court; they carpooled to games and practices, scheduled extra workouts and met up for team bonding dinners. “I made some of my best friends on this team,” captain Sophie Schrag said. “Playing on a team that is as successful as we were with a bunch of people that you love is one of the absolute best feelings.” With an extremely supportive coaching staff led by Chris Christian, athletic director Bob Well-

man, and a loud and proud student section, they seemed to have enthusiasm and skill to secure the state title. Since the first day of practice this year, they have been gearing up for the state tournament. “I remember our coach said that each day and each game was a step to Battle Creek, where the final two games are played in the championships,” Schrag said. “With all of the tournaments that we participated in we played a wide variety of levels of teams. We had a few bumps in the road with injuries, Covid-19 scares, or just being tired but us pushing through that is why we made it as far as we did.” So what went wrong? On championship day, SHS fell just short of the title in a nail-biting 1-3 game against Marian High School, a school that had been on their radar all season. They ran a fast offense SHS hadn’t seen before and played defense unlike any other team they had matched with this season. “There is a huge difference between knowing we were going to make it that far all season and actually playing in the state finals game,” Schrag said. “There were a lot of nerves and volleyball is a game where you cannot be in your head. Every point is due to someone’s mistake, and mistakes are inevitable, so dwelling on them can end a game.” Despite the loss, Schrag believes that they left it all out on the court and everyone on the team proved how hard they had worked all season. Murray agrees with Schrag; she thinks they took advantage of every opportunity they had to get better and accomplish things their volleyball program hasn’t yet.

Photo By Mia Goldstein Three SHS players celebrate after an intense point. They beat Northville High School in the state quarterfinals in a close 3-1 win. “I made some of my best friends on this team,” Schrag said.

Giving Back Since 2009 Students and staff raised over $79,000 for Food Gatherers during CHS’ annual fundraiser in November. CHS has two matching grants, putting the total at over $158,000. BY LUCY CASSELL-KELLEY

On Dec. 2, 2021, CHS students, staff and administrators celebrated the closing of the 13th annual Food Gatherers fundraiser. Since 2009, CHS has raised over $1,000,000 for Food Gatherers and has contributed greatly to providing Washtenaw County with accessible food. This year, CHS students and teachers raised over $79,000 and donated 237,000 meals to Washtenaw County for families in need. Taylor Gaies, a CHS junior, donated the largest amount of money as an individual: $3,004, providing 9,013 meals for the community. Gaies raised money by reaching out to family members and going doorto-door to fundraise. By handing out pamphlets around her neighborhood, Gaies was able to raise money and educate her community about the importance of Food Gatherers and the problem of food insecurity in Washtenaw County. “This fundraiser is really important to me because I believe that there should never be a family without food on the table,” Gaies said. “The thought of people being hungry and not being able to have

that comforting feeling of knowing that they will always have food is something that’s super scary. I think that [this fundraiser] gives people the chance to help give back to our community, I’ve been very lucky to be a part of it.” While much of the money donated is raised by students, teachers are instrumental in the organization of the fundraiser. During early fall 2009, CHS staff and forum leaders were questioning Community High’s annual multicultural celebration, known as Multi Culti. While the celebration was fun, it did not give back to the community in a way that many CHS staff believed it should. Tracy Anderson, CHS English teacher and Forum leader, was browsing through LSA magazine when she stumbled upon an article about an organizational studies professor at the University of Michigan. The professor had asked his class to come up with a plan to meet the needs of a food kitchen in Detroit. Anderson proposed a plan to fellow teacher Cheryl Grace: leading up to the MultiCulti celebration students

and faculty would raise money for Food Gatherers, a local food pantry. Grace and Anderson brought the idea to CHS staff, who joined on to raise funds through forums. Later that year CHS held the very first Food Gatherer’s fundraiser, raising $4,000 as a school. This year CHS brought in almost 20 times that amount, donating nearly $80,000 to Food Gatherers. In 2014, CHS received a matching grant for all money raised from Harold and Kaye Peplau. The grant helped donations jump from $6,000 in 2013 to over $14,000 raised in 2014. Since 2014 donations have continued to increase each year, with the help of the matching grant, CHS students and staff hit an all time high of over $166,000 raised in 2020. “From the very beginning, it has always been about, not necessarily just who can raise the most money, but how every dollar matters, and every dollar does,” Anderson said. “Every dollar matters because every dollar is three meals that we can put into our community.”

Photo By Ella Rosewarne Matt Johnson poses in his pink suit as a reward for his forum raising the most money. The Johnson Forum raised $12,000. “This fundraiser is really important to me because I believe that there should never be a family without food on the table,” Gaies said.

Photo By Ella Rosewarne Matt Johnson’s forum struts down the hallway during their celebratory parade. It took the forum a month to raise 12,000 dollars. “The thought of people being hungry and not being able to have that comforting feeling of knowing that they will always have food is something that’s super scary,” Gaies said.

News | January 2022 | 9

A Christmas Debacle A new Ann Arbor city lights ordinance, designed to reduce light pollution and protect our local ecosystem, is influencing how residents are decorating their houses for the holiday. BY RIA LOWENSCHUSS

On Oct. 19, 2021, the Ann Arbor City Council announced a new lights ordinance. With this updated policy, holiday lights will only be able to stay up for 90 days and cannot be lit from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. According to the Ann Arbor government’s website, the regulations were adopted to reduce lighting pollution and unnecessary energy use, as well as to promote the natural ecosystem. The decision has been met with controversy, mainly stemming from residents concerned for beloved holiday light displays. One owner of such a display, Carly Groves, has put up a large lights display every winter season for years. “I love [putting up our lights because] it makes so many people happy and how much joy it brings to the community,” Groves said. “We receive a lot of lovely notes and comments about how much happi10 | The Communicator Magazine

ness our house brings to kids and families during this time. It makes me feel good to have something fun for people to get enjoyment out of and that makes them smile.” Groves appreciates the new ordinance’s work on reducing light pollution in Ann Arbor; she recognizes that her holiday display uses a lot of electricity. However, she has been working to make her lights as environmentally-conscious as possible by using LED lights and turning her lights off during the night. “My hope is that because it is a short amount of time during the year and the pros outweigh the cons with how many people enjoy it, it will be okay,” Groves said. Some community members think that there are better ways to prevent light pollution. For example, the Michigan Football Stadium’s lights remain on even when they are not being used. According to many residents, regulating large

Photo By Ella Rosewarne Many Ann Arbor neighborhoods take joy in seasonal decorations. However, these residents may not be allowed to keep their holiday lights. “My hope is that because it is a short amount of time during the year and the pros outweigh the cons with how many people enjoy it, it will be okay,” Groves said.

spaces like this will allow the city to reduce the effects of light on the environment more efficiently. According to Brett Lenart, Ann Arbor’s planning department director, the main goal of the ordinance is to “enhance the quality of life” in Ann Arbor, by reducing energy consumption and light glare. Lenart and the City Council hope to benefit the community by spreading information on how light pollution harms Ann Arbor’s wildlife as well as the health of individual citizens. All in all, Groves sees her holiday lights as a way to perpetuate happiness and cheer during the dark nights of winter. She loves bringing joy to her friends and neighbors, especially when it helps them see light in the darkness. “We love to hear the laughter and happiness it brings people when they look at all the different items in the display,” Groves said.

Seasons Club CHS Seasons Club started at the beginning of the 2021-2022 year to offer a relaxed, fun and environmental club. The club meets weekly on Wednesdays at lunch in room 311. BY SANA SCHADEN

Seasons Club gives students a lowstress environment to unwind and participate in season-themed activities. Club leaders Ella Rosewarne, Chrissy Kuiper and Kaela Redding’s goal is to create a space where teens are able to have fun at school with no pressure. “I really wanted to make a seasons club because I thought it would be a fun way to appreciate all the seasons,” Redding said. “I like seasons club because [of] all the activities we do and [I get] to talk to new people.” Rosewarne feels that it is important for members of the club to be the main voice in deciding the activities, so that everyone is able to participate. “Our first meeting was spent brainstorming and hearing what people wanted to do,” Rosewarne said. “We didn’t want it to be just

[the leaders] controlling [the club].” So far, Seasons Club has held a few season-themed competitions during meetings, such as an outdoors leaf-finding contest. Members also competed in a paper-snowflake-making contest which was judged by club members through a poll. As soon as results are in, club leaders announce the winner through the GroupMe messaging app. This communication allows members to interact outside of the weekly meetings. Rosewarne was pleasantly surprised with the turnout of students at Seasons Club. A lot of drop-in clubs have very low attendance because there is no commitment or work required for membership. However, students in Seasons Club are able to choose the weeks they want to attend based on their sched-

Classroom Life Instead of taking a class like engineering, Henry Monte-Sano and his father spent this semester restoring a car for school credit. BY HENRY MONTE-SANO

Fixing cars can be a job, a hobby, or even a class if you go to CHS. Henry Monte-Sano works as an auto technician-in-training at Ron’s Garage, and when his dad, Alex Monte-Sano, suggested they buy a car, fix it up, and make a class out of it, Henry jumped at the opportunity. First they had to buy a car. After many weeks of scouring the internet, they happened upon a 1987 BMW 325es, a desirable yet affordable sports coupe. This car had been sitting for a decade or more, and while it needed a lot of work, everything vital remained intact. Once the car arrived in Ann Ar-

ule or their mental health needs. “I have never actively participated in [leading] a club before and I thought it would be [a] fun and important experience,” Kuiper said. “We have different numbers of people each week, but there is a set group that always comes which is nice.”

bor, they got to work. As of early Dec. 2021, the repairs are well underway; the timing belt and water pump are done, and only two broken bolts and a fresh set of tires stand between the BMW and the open road. But can working on a car be truly educational? Alex Monte-Sano thinks so. “There are a lot of things he’s learned,” Alex said. “There are basic tool skills and lessons on overcoming problems because there are unanticipated problems that arise when you work on something 30 years old.” Henry is appreciative of his parents’ support, and cannot wait to finish the work and drive the car daily. Nevertheless, he enjoys the process, which has been extremely rewarding for both of them. “My favorite part of the experience is just knowing that when something is broken, you can fix it,” Alex said.

Photo By Henry Lipp Seasons Club gathers for a picture during movie day. The goal of the club is to create a low stress environment. “I bring in doughnuts [almost] every week,” Rosewarne said.

Photo courtesy of Alex Monte-Sano Henry Monte-Sano is pictured next to a classic BMW 325es. His automotive education is giving him useful skils for the future, not to mention a class credit. “There are a lot of things he’s learned,” Alex Monte-Sano said.

News | January 2022 | 11

MultiCulti Changes Again CHS staff and students examine different ways to keep the long tradition of MultiCulti. BY MORGAN MCCLEASE AND IZZIE JACOB

MultiCulti has been a long standing tradition at CHS. “It goes all the way back to the very beginning,” Matt Johnson, CHS teacher of eight years said. The event has always fallen right before Thanksgiving break and was meant to be a Thanksgiving celebration at school. This year it was moved to Jan. 26, 2022, due to rising Covid-19 cases and staff shortages which ultimately led to an extended Thanksgiving break. Alongside the date change, there was an effort led by certain CHS staff to change its traditions once again. The event was traditionally filled with food, crowds and a mix of forums having a good time. Though the event was originally meant to be a fun and bonding experience, minority students have reported 12 | The Communicator Magazine

that the problematic tendencies and traditions have often created an intolerable environment. Back in 1975, the event was originally called Multi-Ethnic Day. It held the same notion of wanting to commemorate different cultures. Multi-Ethnic Day commenced on Nov. 27, 1975. The day consisted of a Thanksgiving dinner and musical performances by the CHS jazz band. The Multi-Ethnic name stuck for 12 years until the school decided to change it in 1988 to an extended version of the current name, MultiCultural Day. Then in 2003, the name was changed to the present-day name: MultiCulti. “The old MultiCulti had some things that were really nice about it,” Johnson said, “It was a day where the entire school just had a lot of fun together. It was kind of

like a second forum day. But, there were definitely some issues with it, like cultural appropriation. Going surface-level deep in a culture doesn’t really connect anybody.” Nick James*, current CHS student, notices these issues and personally relates to the feeling of their culture being appropriated. James, who identifies as a Black person, was in a forum that chose the Harlem Renaissance as the culture of their choice. “They put red tissue paper on the walls and put flowers on the tables and somebody made little sandwiches,” James said.“That was it. We didn’t do any research on what the Harlem Renaissance actually meant to Black people or the art and the writing and the movements that were going on. All I remember is somebody mispronouncing Maya

Photo provided by The Midnight Sun According to The Midnight Sun, Malcom Tulip and Judith DeWoskin talk in her Jewish Soulfood Forum room. Brian Miller and students sample the food.

Angelou’s name and I just could not sit in the room anymore.” To James, MultiCulti has done more harm than good. Maneesha Mankad had worked at CHS for seven years and has experienced MultiCulti throughout her time at the school. “Being a brown person, my sensitivity was very different from being in a mostly white populated school, where people saw MultiCulti as something that was a badge of honor.. because we were celebrating different cultures,” Mankad said. When Mankad first heard about the idea of MultiCulti, she appreciated the sentiment but didn’t like the execution. She had some issues with the way the students decided what culture to research. The popular method of picking a certain culture was to rate each one. The main reason for choosing the culture was food or something mainstream within the culture. Mankad wasn’t comfortable with the idea of rating cultures — she found it offensive because it hurt

many of her students’ feelings. However, this popular system continued year after year. “At that time, I thought it was all me — that I was getting offended because people were bidding on cultures,” Mankad said. The following year, she tried a new approach to the MultiCulti planning process. Mankad divided forumettes into groups and did research on different cultures. She noticed that the forum was only looking at the surface-level stuff and doing research on websites like Wikipedia. Mankad purposely started the MultiCulti planning process weeks in advance to really do in-depth research on the culture but she noticed that there was still not much interest in preparing for the event. Later, the administration realized there was a problem and that it needed to be fixed. In the past, previous administrations have gone back and forth with changing traditions. Once again, the administration was headed in the direc-

tion of changing CHS’s original traditions. Some staff have been working this year to make MultiCulti more inclusive for everyone. One of these staff members is Joslyn Hunscher-Young. “I think because we haven’t been in the building for so long, shifting it to be focusing more on our forums and really getting to know each other is a really important priority,” Hunscher-Young said. “Build connections with other people that you’re with, learn about them in genuine ways, spend and spending your energy doing that rather than trying to check off a surface level box.” In a post-pandemic world, Hunscher-Young knows the district as a whole is trying to find a way to go back to normal while simultaneously realizing that normal wasn’t always great for everyone — MultiCulti being one of those things.

*Name changed to protect anonymity

Photo provided by The Midnight Sun According to the Midnight Sun, Tom Fulton, Evan Vapenic and Dan Hug during MultiCultural Day in 1988 Photo provided by The Midnight Sun “It was a day where the entire school just had a lot of fun together,” Matt Johnson said about the MultiCulti pictured above.

News | January 2022 | 13

Performances Prevail Pioneer High School’s auditorium and theater were closed with little warning, leaving the music and theater directors scrambling to find alternative venues. BY CLAIRE STEIGELMAN

The hum of musical notes reverberates throughout the room as the instruments are given a final check before the big performance. Students adjust their chairs to create space throughout the performance, hoping they’ll be able to see the conductor from behind pillars and other obstructions in the new, sometimes unconventional spaces where their events have been relocated. They’re the lucky ones, though: their events are still going. Some events have been rescheduled all together. That is the case with Pioneer High School (PHS) music and theater programs when the administration decided to close both auditoriums at Pioneer due to mold. This left the directors of these programs scrambling to find alternative venues for both their quickly approaching fall performances and the other performances set to take place during the renovation. Molly Hamalainen, a CHS sophomore in choir, recounts her fall performance earlier this year. “We held [the performance] in a bus loop behind the school under this little overhang that apparently had really good acoustics, but 14 | The Communicator Magazine

honestly, it was not the most ideal place to do it,” Hamalainen said. “It was a little cold, but we couldn’t really hear everyone and everyone had to sit on the grass outside.” The Pioneer Bands had their fall performance at Skyline High School (SHS). Seven Steiner, a sophomore at CHS who plays trumpet in the Concert Purple Band for PHS said that “[The SHS auditorium] is a lot smaller than the Pioneer auditorium, and the acoustics, just the way it’s built, don’t sound as good as the Pioneer auditorium, but we had nowhere else to play— so it was better than nothing.” Griffin Siersma, a sophomore CHS student and cellist in the PHS Symphony Orchestra, has yet to play in the SHS auditorium this year, but he’s heard similar opinions. “I’ve only been to the Skyline auditorium once and I don’t really remember anything from it,” Siersma said. “I guess I’m not really sure what to expect, but I don’t think it’ll be as nice as our auditorium, from what I’ve heard at least.” Instead of using the SHS auditorium, the Pioneer Orchestras uti-

lized the PHS Cafeteria for their fall performance. “At first I didn’t like the idea and it felt really weird, but it wasn’t terrible, actually,” Siersma said. “I feel like the sound wasn’t that bad, it’s just kind of surprising.” Getting used to the different acoustics isn’t the only inconvenience for PHS music and theater kids, however. There are also the logistical factors of getting to and getting around these venues. “It’s definitely a lot less convenient because I live 15 minutes from Huron and 10 minutes from Skyline, and then less than five minutes from Pioneer, so it’s not ideal,” Siersma said. Siersma is also a cellist in the Pioneer Theater Guild (PTG) pit orchestra. PTG recently had a preview of their show, Les Misérables, at Huron High School (HHS). This was composed of a few selections from the musical, which were then performed on stage without any costumes, sets, or props. Traveling to this school for the performance was also complicated for Griffin. “There was more traffic than I thought, so I got there a little bit later than I wanted to,” Siersma

Photo By Claire Steigelman Lights shine down on the sign for Pioneer High School’s Schreiber Auditorium. No student has walked across the stage since early 2020. “Usually, at least at Pioneer, we would do a full run of every song in the auditorium, and in this scenario, I don’t know if that’s going to be true because it’s not our school,” Hamalainen said.

said. “I was kind of freaking out, but then I got there. They hadn’t started yet, so it was okay, but then I tried to find the orchestra room and I thought I was lost, but apparently I was going the right way because I heard other people playing.” Hamalainen has had previous performing experience in the HHS auditorium for Choral Cavalcade in middle school, but there are additional challenges to put on a normal high school level performance. “We have robes that are purple,” Hamalainen said. “They’re like choir outfits to ensure everyone looks the same, and they’re like a long-standing tradition at Pioneer. There’s like, hundreds of robes at the Pioneer building, but to get them over to Huron you have to have volunteers and Mr. Lorenz, who’s the choir director at Pioneer, talks to us about all these logistics and stuff during class and announcements, so having carpool people to get them to Huron [for us] wear, and then back– all of that is more complicated now.” Hamalainen also explained that typically, Pioneer choirs would arrive at the auditorium an hour be-

fore the performance, which means they would be arriving at 4:45 or 6:00 — during rush hour traffic. They would then rehearse on stage prior to the performance. “Usually, at least at Pioneer, we would do a full run of every song in the auditorium, and in this scenario, I don’t know if that’s going to be true because it’s not our school,” Hamalainen said. “We might need to ask permission or we might not be able to use the auditorium, and so it will be harder to coordinate that. Hopefully we could do it in the auditorium and have rehearsal rather than a practice room or hallway. I was really excited to have this new auditorium and we’re gonna perform as a high schooler, but now there’s mold in it, so it’s like set off for the future— maybe even next year. I’m not really sure what the schedule looks like.” The PHS administration declined to comment on the estimated completion date of the renovations, as well as what caused the mold in the first place.

News | January 2022 | 15

Self-Driving Shuttles Arrive in Ann Arbor May Mobility’s autonomous shuttles have just become Ann Arbor’s newest public transportation. For CHS students, they couldn’t come at a better time. BY RITA IONIDES

At first glance, Ann Arbor’s new public transportation system looks like any other vehicle on the streets. The cars — four black Lexuses, plus one wheelchair-accessible van— are almost ordinary at a distance, but grow more interesting the more you look. As the cars pass by, doors painted with the logos of mobility companies might clue you in; on top, there’s a circular camera array, looking in all directions. Inside, there’s someone in the driver’s seat, but their hands aren’t on the wheel. Their feet aren’t pressed against the brakes, either — instead the wheel turns unaided, and the brakes pump up and down by themselves, as if operated by a ghost. These cars are the A2GO shuttles, and they’re driving themselves. A recent addition to the plethora

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Photo courtesy of May Mobility This is one of the five A2GO cars that shuttle people across Ann Arbor.

of autonomous cars found on Ann Arbor streets, these cars are different even from their self-driving peers in their total completeness. They’re not in beta testing, nor are they an experiment; instead, they’re shuttles, open to the general public. The theory of the shuttle is simple, with a process similar to other ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Riders download the May Mobility app, request a shuttle to come to the closest designated stop (in Kerrytown, this is conveniently located right next to the existing city bus stop), and hitch a ride to the stop closest to their destination. However, unlike Uber and Lyft, these shuttles are designed as public transport. They’re privately operated, but subsidized in Ann Arbor to be accessible to all. Any-

one can ride them for free. For many students at CHS, this is excellent news— the shuttles couldn’t come at a better time. A unique part of CHS culture is the widespread use of Community Resource classes, where students take part of the school day to go out into greater Ann Arbor. However, commuting there can be logistically complicated. Students who take classes at the University of Michigan (U of M), in particular, have had an especially large problem with figuring out how to commute. It’s a seasonal problem: campus is just close enough to walk to, but far enough away that the walk becomes a struggle as winter approaches. Driving is an option for some, but for students who can’t drive or don’t have access to a car, this doesn’t work.

Even for those who can drive, the time and money required to find a spot in the notoriously full downtown parking spaces is prohibitive. A city bus linked Kerrytown and Central Campus in previous years, but was rerouted to the medical school during the pandemic. Many students end up walking, but in the harsh cold of a Michigan winter, the trek becomes daunting. Walking two miles during the short passing time in the snow is all but impossible. Senior Noah Bernstein, who takes an international studies class that meets in the U of M chemistry building once a week, is very familiar with this problem. “When I get out of class, I have to really book it over [to the university],” Bernstein said. To make it to his 10:00 class on time after CHS block 1, he has to walk a mile in less than 15 minutes. “I find the walks— when I have the time— to be really calming,” Bernstein said. “It’s nice to be outside and walk around on a good day. But there are also days when it’s 20 degrees or when it’s raining out, and I leave class late, and it’s not as fun.” Another benefit of the shuttle is its sustainability. In the “park and ride” model enabled by the shuttle, users can park further away from downtown— often a cheaper option— and take the shuttle to their final destination. This is excellent from an emissions perspective, as cars parked on the outskirts of the city emit far fewer greenhouse gases than those individually navigating traffic and parking downtown. Sustainability is the most appealing part of the shuttle to junior Arista Luong. While Luong currently drives to all her classes, including those at the university, she’s excited about the potential of bus-like sustainability without the uncertainty of waiting times. “I’m glad [about the shuttles],” Luong said. “We need better transportation in Ann Arbor. When I didn’t have a license, I would take the buses everywhere, and it was a major point of stress for me, because in addition to the timing you have to worry about, it’s like I wasn’t on my own schedule. It was

always that I’m waiting for the buses for 15 minutes to get from [CHS] to class, but if my bus is five minutes late, now I’m late and can’t do anything about it.” Luong is interested in the future of the shuttles as a transit option for CHS students, and thinks those in Ann Arbor who can should try them out as an alternative to driving. “The shuttles seem like they [would] be the most energy efficient option for a lot of people,” Luong said. “I think they’re a great option for people that don’t have a car or could go without one.” In the end, eclipsing sustainability and even getting to class on time,

there is an opportunity just to ride the shuttle. CHS students are in the perfect time and place to get involved with a technology that’s only just reached the public sector. They can get to class in self-driving cars, and they just happen to go to school in one of the only places in the country where it’s possible to do so. As Bernstein says: “There are the practical benefits of being able to get to my classes on time, but I think riding in an autonomous car will also be really fun to look at, and experience.” The shuttles can be a commute, but they’re also an incredible opportunity to watch the stuff of science fiction, live; to watch from the

Photo courtesy of May Mobility This map shows the locations across Central Campus and downtown Ann Arbor where the shuttle picks up and drops off riders.

News | January 2022 | 17

The Ann Arbor Spell is an Illusion For former CHS students Sam Dannug and Tai Tworek, growing up in Ann Arbor taught them the power that wealth and socioeconomic status holds. BY AILISH KILBRIDE

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“It is important for CHS to help students from all backgrounds find success,” Dannug said. “Whatever success might mean to them, the Ann Arbor spell is a real thing, and I hope kids can come out of it successfully.” For former Community High School (CHS) students Sam Dannug and Tai Tworek, growing up in Ann Arbor taught them the power that wealth and socioeconomic status hold. Growing up in the shadows of the number one public university in the United States, according to “The Wall Street Journal,” has helped shape the paths of both Dannug and Tworek. Dannug struggled through his last few months of high school, drowning in the idea of measuring up to his friends and coming out of CHS with a successful plan that would impress peers, faculty and others around him. Dannug took the college admissions process slower than his friends. As the last few months of his senior year started to appear on the horizon, it became apparent that he was behind. Not knowing how to combat his stress and unsure of how to proceed, Dannug’s Common App was left unwritten. “I remember one time I was getting lunch with a few of my friends at [a restaurant] downtown,” Dannug said. “The entire lunch, my friends talked about their Common App essays and mine was not even written yet. I didn’t say a word during that lunch.” Growing up in Ann Arbor has left an impact on Dannug that he will never forget. As his peers began getting acceptance letters to prestigious universities, such as Brown University and University of Michigan, Dannug began to feel pressured to figure out his next step in life. “Growing up in Ann Arbor normalizes this path into adulthood that you don’t really have to take,” Dannug said. “There are so many different options for education and work. I think where you go next is

so dependent on your situation at home and how many connections you have. Your social capital is everything.” Dannug believes that the privilege of Ann Arbor plays an important role in the expectations set for success—the lack of diversity within the city has created a robust system of pressure on students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, especially those who come from academic backgrounds. As Dannug reflects back on his time spent at CHS, he is proud of the way that he spent his last few months. Although this time was difficult, with the pressure of secondary education and the looming threat of adult life, he learned more about himself than he ever thought possible. “It is important for CHS to help students from all backgrounds find success, whatever success might mean to them,” Dannug said. “The Ann Arbor spell is a real thing, and I hope kids can come out of it successfully.” The competitive culture in Ann Arbor has created an apparent amount of pressure on students from affluent backgrounds as described by Dannug. The drive for perfection among students who grow up in Ann Arbor has become an unspoken language. Although Tworek can’t pinpoint those underlying factors, she hypothesized that the exposure we have to the University of Michigan could be a force of some of this pressure. Tai Tworek, a Brown University student, believes that her competitive nature and drive to attend a prestigious university from a young age pushed her through college admissions. Because her admissions experience was fully virtual along with her friends, Tworek didn’t feel

competition or pressure amongst her peers. Tworek emphasized the idea that Ann Arbor produces a lot of elite, college-bound students. Although she recognizes everyone’s situation is different, she thinks the community’s wealth has improved the opportunities available for students in Ann Arbor. “A major underlying cause [of opportunities for kids in Ann Arbor] is wealth,” Tworek said. “I think that the wealth in Ann Arbor and the resources that come with that plays a big role [in the pressures of living in Ann Arbor].” She believes that CHS teachers set high expectations for their students and want to set them up for nothing but success in the paths that they hope to pursue. Pressure was never something that Tworek felt during her time in high school. She believes that CHS attracts kids driven to create success but also a culture of giving. As Tworek has taken on her first semester at Brown University, she has found that the level of knowledge among classmates and faculty is astounding. Instead of being intimidated, her key to success is soaking up every piece of information she possibly can. Both Tworek and Dannug recognize the fundamental causes of the “Ann Arbor spell.” They hope kids can find whatever path they are meant to be on and find themselves enjoying the process of ups and downs. “I did not think I was going to get into Brown,” Tworek said. “Although I really wanted to get in because it had been my dream school for the longest time, my application felt more like a pipe dream than an actual attainable goal. But through it all, I got in.”

Photo courtesy of Tai Tworek Tai Tworek stands on campus at Brown University. She has enjoyed learning from her peers this past semester at Brown. “[Going to Brown] is definitely an adjustment period, both academically and socially,” Tworek said. “Everyone is sort of trying to overcome their imposter syndrome in a way. But being able to sit in a classroom and learn from my peers is something that I value and have really been able to benefit from this past semester.”

Feature | January 2022 | 19

More Than Money Three CHS students speak about their jobs, their reasons for working and their experiences so far. BY ANJALI KAKARLA

CHS junior Rosie Mellor had been thinking about getting a job when the perfect opportunity presented itself in August 2020. Due to her mother working there, Mellor was a frequent visitor of Spun, a yarn store in Kerrytown. The store was very understaffed at the time, so Mellor decided to help out. She was originally hired for a two-week period – just long enough for Spun to find other employees. However, after enjoying her time there she decided to stay on as a permanent employee. Mellor has now been working at Spun for just over a year. “Going in on the first day was kind of scary,” Mellor said. “I have some pretty bad social anxiety so having to deal with customers and work at the cash register was very nerve-wracking.” Mellor feels that working at Spun over the past year has helped her to overcome her social anxiety. “I really like talking to people at work now,” Mellor said. “There’s no fear when it comes to that anymore. I’ve met some really awesome people and made great friends [through my job].” One reason Mellor enjoys her job is due to the community around Spun. Mellor has found that even though many of her coworkers are older than her and have vastly different backgrounds, she can still connect with them through their shared interests. “I like knitting and people who come here like knitting,” Mellor said. “Everyone has one common interest so we all get along.” During the pandemic, Mellor felt as though her job was an escape from virtual school and the uniformity of pandemic life. “My job was my favorite part of my week during the pandemic,” Mellor said. “Even now when we’re back [to] in-person school, it’s a really nice escape from school and my house.” Kaela Redding, another CHS junior, works at Miki Japanese Restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor. Redding wanted something to do after deciding not to play a sport this year. Using Indeed – a website to apply 20 | The Communicator Magazine

for jobs – she submitted applications to many different jobs in the area. Redding started working at Miki’s in August of this year and has been enjoying her time there. Like Mellor, Redding has found her job to be a catalyst for social interaction that she was missing. During the pandemic, Redding feels she became antisocial and stopped hanging out with many friends. Through her job she has become more outgoing and more social. This is due not only to interacting with customers, but also with colleagues. “The work environment is really good,” Redding said. “I like talking to my coworkers. It’s sometimes hard to find relatable things but we can always talk about work.” Redding enjoys interacting with people the most. “You get a rush from talking to the customers,” Redding said. “It’s fun in a way but it can also be a little stressful.” During one shift, Redding was able to converse in Japanese with customers who came to the restaurant. She has been speaking Japanese since she was little and previously lived in Japan for three years. Redding usually visits there every summer but hasn’t been able to for the last two years due to the pandemic. “It felt nice to talk to them because I really missed Japan,” Redding said. “It made me feel like I was in Japan again.” When she’s older, Redding hopes to go into the field of psychology and possibly become a therapist. Being able to talk to people and problem-solving are skills she feels she has gained from her job that will help her achieve that goal. When Redding heard her friend Leah White, another CHS junior, was looking for a job, she recommended applying to an understaffed Miki’s Japanese Restaurant through Indeed. White applied and was accepted in October of this year. “There were a lot of reasons I wanted a job,” White said. “I want to go on a big camping trip over the sum-

mer and I want to save up for that. Also, after a year of being home, I wanted to branch out and make some new friends. I felt like I was handling school and my sport pretty well so I thought adding on one more thing was manageable.” White works two seven-hour shifts a week. She has found that her shifts go fairly quickly and that she always has something to do. “My shifts are basically the same length as a school day,” White said. “But I feel like my shifts go by way faster.” Little moments in her shifts remind White why she signed up for a job with a lot of human interaction.

“This lady came in yesterday and she had just delivered free wedding cakes,” White said. “The restaurant wasn’t very busy so she started telling me all the ingredients and showing me how she made it. It was just really nice.” Like Redding, White’s favorite aspect of her job is talking to customers. “Even if you’re not making a major connection with someone, you can still meet new people and find out things about them,” White said. Redding, White and Mellor have all found jobs that make them happy and give them an opportunity to build connections with other people.

Photo By Anjali Kakarla Leah White prepares a miso soup at Miki’s Japanese restaurant. White enjoys talking to customers. “Even if you’re not making a major connection with someone, you can still meet new people and find out things about them,” White said.


Flipping Physics A CHS physics teacher’s take on flipped learning and redefining the learning experience. BY MIA GOLDSTEIN

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or Jonathan Thomas-Palmer, a CHS physics teacher, learning is more than being taught. And after twenty years of trying to find ways to improve his classroom learning environment, he has essentially perfected it. Through his trademarked brand, Flipping Physics, Thomas-Palmer has come up with an innovative method of teaching students in-person and across the globe. Flipping Physics is Thomas-Palmer’s spin on a “flipped classroom”; a nuanced learning method that redefines learning at home and in the classroom. A flipped classroom revolves around two basic principles: efficiency and flexibility. This curriculum involves students receiving a majority of direct instruction from home as homework via lecture videos. Moving much of the direct instruction from the classroom means that the work students would normally complete as “homework” will be done in class. For Flipping Physics in particular, at home lectures consist of upbeat, flashy and high quality videos curated by Thomas-Palmer himself, while time in class is mostly dedicated to labs and group projects. This is a complete shift in how people conceptualize school, homework, teachers and student responsibilities. “Welcome to the paradigm shift,” Thomas-Palmer closes his FOS 4 syllabus. Thomas-Palmer’s road to success was not linear. In 1991, he got his Bachelor’s Degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and proceeded to become a quality engineer at an automotive company for just over a year. But after six months of working, he felt trapped by his job, surrounded by coworkers in

their 30s and 40s that were stuck with families to support and responsibilities to uphold. Being only in his mid 20s at the time and untethered to family life, he re-evaluated his path and returned to the University of Michigan for his Masters of Art Certification. After one short year, he graduated with his new Masters Degree and teaching certificate. Thomas-Palmer stepped into a new chapter of his life with a refreshed outlook. He found a job at Northville High School where he taught for 13 years, specializing in everything physics, including AP and college prep courses. It was during his time at Northville High School when he realized that orthodox learning and teaching wasn’t for him. “After ten years of teaching, I realized the way I was teaching was the way I had been taught,” Thomas-Palmer said. “And I never really considered whether it was a good way to teach or a good way to learn.” In 2013, Thomas-Palmer quit his job to pursue his business idea, Flipping Physics, full time. That reality was short lived after he landed a job at CHS as a parttime physics teacher in 2015. Throughout the past seven years, Thomas-Palmer has developed his academic philosophies into a transformative and contemporary outlook on teaching. His ideology revolves on creating a classroom environment that is most efficient with students’ time and gives them flexibility to learn at their own pace — allowing students to pick what material they’re going to work on from day to day. But his goal extends beyond the

Photo By Ella Rosewarne Thomas-Palmer does a handstand in front of his iconic blue wall featured in all of his Flipping Physics videos. He started his brand in 2013 and has taken off ever since. “After ten years of teaching, I realized the way I was teaching was the way I had been taught,” Thomas-Palmer said.

Feature | January 2022 | 23

Photo By Ella Rosewarne Billly, Bobby and Bo sit in front of the blue wall. It took Thomas-Palmer many tries to perfectly splice all three videos together. “A lot of times you’ll see paid advertisements in the middle of videos,” Thomas-Palmer said.

classroom. “My teaching philosophy is basically to help you figure out how to use your brain to learn,” Thomas-Palmer said. “I don’t actually consider myself a physics teacher, per se. I use physics as a tool to help [my students] figure out how to solve problems, and how to take a look at a situation and analyze the situation and learn from it.” Thomas-Palmer hopes students will take practical life lessons from his physics class: basic problem solving skills and the ability to persevere when confronted with any problem, to name a few. He appreciates the way that his class gives reason to the math that students have been learning throughout their high school years. His class effectively combines conceptual topics with labs and projects in order to create a more concrete and tangible understanding of class material. To help convey abstract physics topics in entertaining and informative ways, Thomas-Palmer has the help of three characters: Billy, Bobby and Bo. The notorious characters, all played by Thomas-Palmer, star in Flipping Physics videos. And of course, Thomas-Palmer is Mr. P, the teacher.

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The idea of including unique characters in his videos was conceptualized 19 years ago, when Thomas-Palmer was forced to miss a few days of school. A stickler for never missing school, he resolved to trying something new. “I decided to make some videos of myself teaching to show to my students while I was gone,” Thomas Palmer said. “Rather than lecture to no one, I decided that I needed students to lecture to. So I went to my closet, and I found clothes that I thought could represent three different people and I found a tie dye shirt, a tie and a Steelers jersey.” Over the years, Billy, Bobby and Bo have developed into multifaceted and personable characters. Rather than having a singular person preach to viewers about a topic, including various perspectives transforms the lesson into a conversation; a safe space to make mistakes and present things in different ways without a sense of redundancy. Billy is presented as the conventional nerd, Bobby is the removed, athletic guy, and Bo is that laid back kid that contributes as little as possible to the class. However, Thomas-Palmer wanted to avoid playing

off of stereotypes and negative connotations associated with these characteristics. He didn’t want Bobby to be “stupid” and Billy to be “smart.” When he writes scripts for each character, he is very intentional with the interactions they have with each other and their dialogue. “If you’ve ever really watched, Billy is really articulate and very careful about everything that he says,” Thomas-Palmer said. “When Bo speaks, he’s actually kind of the opposite. He is most often abbreviating things and making little shortcuts. I use that as a tool to talk about things that students will often do: shortcuts, which in the end, don’t work out. But you’ll notice, when there are two correct ways to solve something I will often have Billy and Bo correct it both. And then do it both ways and then get into an argument about it. And Bobby is the one who solves the argument.” Ever since his first Flipping Physics video in 2013, Thomas-Palmer has worked to improve the editing and quality of his videos; his videos now consist of flashy transitions, catchy tunes, funny jokes and unique demonstrations of ideas. From a technical standpoint, Thomas-Palmer has worked hard to perfect the lighting and refine his editing to achieve a seamless video

that splices three separate films together. His hard work and teaching style has undoubtedly paid off; he has accumulated 92,000 subscribers on YouTube and his webpage garners high traffic. As much as Thomas-Palmer has grown, so have the responsibilities and the upkeep of his presence online. With almost 500 videos and a constant flow of comments, emails and direct messages, he finds it hard to stay on top of the workload. One of the biggest struggles Thomas-Palmer now faces is finding the balance between continuing doing what he loves as a one-man show, and pursuing bigger goals and selling out. “A lot of times you’ll see paid advertisements in the middle of videos,” Thomas-Palmer said. “I’m just not planning to do that. I feel like I should be able to do this without needing that. I want to grow my brand, but I want to stay who I am as I do it.” For the near future, Thomas-Palmer is set on continuing to teach at CHS while preserving his love for Flipping Physics and keeping his workload within his means.

Photo By Ella Rosewarne Thomas-Palmer sits at a desk with his computer. He dedicates 40% of his time to in-person teaching and 60% to working on Flipping Physics.“I don’t actually consider myself a physics teacher, per se. I use physics as a tool to help [my students] figure out how to solve problems, and how to take a look at a situation and analyze the situation and learn from it,” Thomas-Palmer said.

Feature | January 2022 | 25

Finding Her Voice in Film Emma Hoffman uses her skills to share stories of those who have been silenced BY SANA SCHADEN AND RUTH SHIKANOV

Going into high school, Emma Hoffman believed there was one straight path that she needed to follow in order to achieve success in filmmaking. “[I thought] ‘I’m gonna start making movies, and I’m going to start editing them,’” Hoffman said. “‘Then I’ll get a job somewhere in LA and hopefully make it big one day.’” Since then, Hoffman, a CHS alumni, has discovered many different opportunities in film, as well as how to use her voice to create positive change within the industry. She wants to take advantage of the accessibility to a widespread audience uniquely provided by film. 26 | The Communicator Magazine

“It’s powerful because a lot of us in the U.S. are trapped in our own bubbles,” Hoffman said. “Being able to introduce people to other parts of the world, other cultures, and other people’s identities is a way to open up people’s eyes and make those experiences accessible. [Film] is just better at making people open-minded.” Even from an early age, Hoffman was able to connect with film. She realized the ability an image has to engage people in an idea or message. “Because I struggle with dyslexia, reading was never an escape for me because I could not comprehend a lot of what I was reading,” Hoffman said. “Instead, film, television and

visual storytelling had always captured me. From a young age, [my parents] introduced me to really influential and powerful films like ‘Close Encounters’ and ‘The Breakfast Club.’” Hoffman’s passion for film flourished in high school as she began to work on the documentary “Welcome to Commie High” during her sophomore year. Under the direction of Donald Harrison, lead producer and director of Seven Cylinder Studios and director of “Welcome to Commie High,” she learned the ropes of filming, editing and taking on leadership roles. Throughout high school, Hoffman eagerly accepted all types of projects and opportunities that

Photo Courtesy of Emma Hoffman From left to right, Donald Harrison (Director), Kelly Stupple (CHS Alum), Dave Camlin (Editor) and Emma Hoffman taking questions at Cinetopia Film Festival

came her way. Hoffman’s skills quickly developed, causing Harrison to recognize her potential. “She helped us in a lot of different aspects, depending on what we needed at the time,” Harrison said. “[This] is sort of the ‘can-do attitude’ that is often referenced in the film world because that’s what we need to do to pull off these big creative projects.” Although Hoffman was getting a lot of experience in a variety of areas, many of the projects weren’t meaningful to her. “I was so eager to get work experience and develop a portfolio [that] I said yes to any project,” Hoffman said. “[I would think] ‘I’m enjoying myself because I’m doing something I love and I like these people,’ but at the end of the day I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything.” During her senior year of high school, Hoffman began to find her voice in film. Hoffman’s eyes were opened to the lack of female representation as she wrote a paper on the statistics of women in the Academy Awards in 2016. Hoffman was frustrated with not only the patriarchal statistics, but also the sexism she experienced in her own life. “[These issues] are something that I found myself attracted to, and I [thought] ‘if this is occupying so much space in my mind, the only way that I’m going to feel some sort of ease is if I use my voice,’” Hoffman said. “It was a coping mechanism for me to use my creative skills to get that message out there.” After graduating high school, Hoffman found her community and became president of the Ed-

itors Guild at Columbia College. In this position, she was suddenly surrounded by people just as motivated and professional as herself. Hoffman was able to be more selective about the projects she took on. “I’d say my strongest tool since coming to college has been saying no,” Hoffman said. “There are enough opportunities where I can say no, so you really just have to put your own interests above.” Hoffman worked on an interactive film last semester, where the viewer was able to choose their own path. This piece was about her struggles with an eating disorder, and she hoped to bring awareness to the issue by sharing her experience. “I have used filmmaking to bring awareness to issues that women tend to face, and that’s my goal as a filmmaker,” Hoffman said. As Hoffman presented this project, she noticed that a lot of the men in the room were not able to understand her experience, whereas many of the women could relate to the issue. Hoffman has decided to dedicate her next semester thesis project to women; elevating the voices of women, especially women of color and those who don’t get as many opportunities in the film industry. Working with more women, people of color, people with disablities and people with different sexual orientations and identities has become a priority for her. “Nine times out of ten, I will get an opportunity to work on a set because I am a white woman.” Hoffman said. “Getting [women’s] voices out there [is important] because the film industry is really male-dominated. Women

and particularly women of color, do not get their stories out as much. That’s why I’m focusing on women’s stories.” She will be working with other members of the Bachelor’s Fine Arts program at Columbia College to complete her thesis project next semester. Within the senior thesis class, Hoffman hopes to find other film students interested in elevating women’s voices and telling their stories. “I would like to do something interweaving multiple women’s stories and experiences,” Hoffman said. “Each [story is] going to be different, and I would like to get as many voices and different perspectives amplified as we can. [It will focus on] women having different identities: women of color versus people that may not identify with one gender or simply being discriminated upon because of their disability.” Hoffman has found her voice in film and is now taking the opportunity to elevate other marginalized voices. Her work will strive to create a safe space for people of different identities and backgrounds to articulate their ideas without needing to reduce themselves. For Hoffman, film is first and foremost a vehicle for change. “I feel like if you’re a filmmaker and you’re not trying to use it as a tool to communicate something important, then you’re not good at your job,” Hoffman said. “Whether or not it’s a simple story, and you don’t think you’re trying to communicate something deeper, there almost always is something deeper.”

Feature | January 2022 | 27

Why Can’t Women Save the World? Since its inception in the late 2000s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ruled the film industry and fanbases across the world. But where do women fit in to this male-dominated world? BY RIA LOWENSCHUSS ART BY MIA WOOD

On May 2, 2008, millions of people waited in lines across the United States, braving the burgeoning thunderstorms and heavy rain for a chance to see the newest craze: “Iron Man.” Surpassing all estimates, the first Marvel superhero movie reeled in more than $95 million in its opening weekend, marking the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). For decades, Marvel ruled the comic book world with superhe28 | The Communicator Magazine

roes like Captain America, Thor and of course, Iron Man. However, the comics were separated by different corporations and owners; for example, Spider-Man is owned by Sony. In order to widen their audience and strengthen the superheroes they owned, Marvel created the MCU with the characters they had cast off as uninteresting to audiences. Emma Hamstra, an English teacher at CHS, views “Iron Man”

as the point when Marvel became part of the “cultural zeitgeist.” Hamstra grew up with Marvel, having been introduced to the comics by her father at an early age. She remembers being thought of as a “nerd” because of her love for comics. “When I was growing up, it was not popular or cool for girls to read comic books,” Hamstra said. “But it really all changed when the first Iron Man movie came out with the

Art By Mia Wood A female superhero in a tight suit poses in a battle stance. Women in Marvel movies are often sexualized through clothing and fighting styles. “Women have been the side characters,” Emma Hamstra said. [The women] are dressed to be seen as objects of beauty on screen.

“TEAMWORK IS GREAT, PEOPLE SUPPORTING PEOPLE, BUT IT’S NEVER THE MEN THAT ARE BEING SUPPORTED. IN THE END, THE GUY SAVES THE GIRL AND THAT IS SO DEMEANING TO SEE AGAIN AND AGAIN.” Marvel Cinematic Universe.” When she first watched the MCU movies, Hamstra loved seeing the introduction of Scarlett Johansson’s character, Black Widow. Black Widow first appears in the second Iron Man movie, beating Iron Man’s security guard in a boxing ring in her first scene. “We have that great scene where [Black Widow] just takes out Happy Hogan in the boxing ring and as a 13-year-old, I thought that was amazing,” Hamstra said. But as she grew older, Hamstra began to think more about the way the women of the MCU acted on screen. She started to recognize the prevalent sexualization and marginalization of superheroes like Black Widow and other female characters, such as Iron Man’s personal assistant-turned-wife, Pepper Potts. Hamstra saw that the clothes and fighting styles used by the MCU’s women emphasized the sexualized parts of women’s bodies. “I started noticing these unnecessary angled shots of the women and it became glaringly apparent: why don’t we have a female superhero?” Hamstra said. “Women have been the side characters, they’ve been sexualized on film, their costumes have been not something that somebody fighting crime would wear. [The women] are dressed to be seen as objects of beauty on screen.” Hamstra is not the only Marvel fan who has noticed the blatant objectification of the MCU’s women. Arista Luong has loved Marvel for as long as she can remember. Along with her dad and brother, she read all of the comic books and watched the Marvel movies in theaters as they came out. Luong loved

the connection that Marvel formed between her and her family, but as she grew up, she too began to realize how male dominated the movies were. “It was a theme in my childhood of noticing that not a lot of people on TV looked like me,” Luong said. As an Asian American woman, Luong rarely sees accurate representation in the media, especially when it comes to action movies. She finds that most men in Marvel movies are framed as saviors for the women — even the female superheroes need to be saved. “The men were always the heroes and they were always saving the damsel in distress,” Luong said. Like Luong, Lila Ryan grew up watching Marvel movies with her father and brother. She was too young to go see “Iron Man” with them in theaters, but as soon as she turned seven, they showed her all of the movies and took her to see the first “Avengers” movie. Ryan constantly notices the sexualization of the women in these movies, but her father does not acknowledge the effect that it has on her. “My dad doesn’t really see what I’m seeing,” Ryan said. “He’s like, ‘Oh, the camera was just in the way, that’s just how they shot it.’ He doesn’t understand the impact it has on young women.” Hamstra, Luong and Ryan all agree that although Marvel’s representation of women has improved since the first “Iron Man” movie came out thirteen years ago, there is still a long way to go. Luong has noticed much more representation of strong Asian women, but she also sees Marvel playing into stereotypes of Asian people. In particular, she has no-

ticed a trend of Asian American stories being focused on the characters’ heritage and ethnicity instead of the story of their own life and, in the case of the MCU, their superpowers. “Every single movie about an Asian character has to be about them [going] back to their roots,” Luong said. “Everything is centered in China and there’s a small town outside of nowhere and they’re all traditional. [Why] can’t it just be about modern Asian people living?” Luong also thinks that Marvel movies need to center on women individually, instead of on their roles in teams mostly made up of men. Black Widow did not get her own movie until 2021, despite being the earliest-appearing female superhero in the MCU, introduced in 2010. “Teamwork is great, people supporting people, but it’s never the men that are being supported,” Luong said. “In the end, the guy saves the girl and that is just so demeaning to see again and again.” “Captain Marvel,” the first Marvel movie that stars a woman, came out in 2019. Although Hamstra was no longer a child when this movie came out, she was able to witness her 13-year-old sister see a superhero that looks like her in theaters, without having to share the screen with a man or being relegated to sidekick. “For the younger kids especially, being able to see yourself represented on screen not as a side character, but as the main character, is just fantastic,” Hamstra said. “If you see a hero that looks like you, it makes you think, ‘what could I possibly do?’” Feature | January 2022 | 29

Forged in Fire As Ann Arbor’s Fifth Ave Fire Department’s battalion chief Derek Wiseley’s career nears an end, he reflects on his life’s work. BY LEWIS PERRY AND KEVIN DUTTON

39-year old Derek Wiseley had accepted his fate and was prepared to die, trapped on the third floor of a burning apartment building. The Briarwood Lake Village apartment complex was struck by lightning in Aug. 2003. It was the second day of a national power deficit across the East Coast, and Wiseley was working a 48-hour double shift. His department got a call for a building fire that they could see from the station. Minutes after Wiseley got in the building, he and his colleague were stuck; the door behind them collapsed, burning their face and hand. Wiseley climbed out onto a balcony and started climbing down to the lowest point. “It’s called a hang and drop,” Wiseley said. “Whenever you are jumping from a tall distance you

30 | The Communicator Magazine

have to get to the lowest point you can to make the distance to the ground as short as possible.” As he put his leg over the railing, his coworker, Tom, yelled for him to come up as he had found a safer way out. Wiseley and his colleague followed Tom back into the building and climbed out of a bedroom window with a ladder set ready for them. As soon as he and his colleagues got out of the window, the apartment crumbled. “There was a picture taken that showed the lit up room as it collapsed when we were getting out,” Wiseley said. Wiseley has dreamed of becoming a firefighter since he was five years old. Growing up in Dexter, his dad’s good friend introduced him to firefighting through the Dexter Fire Department. They had

Photo By Lewis Perry The Ann Arbor Fire Department’s 1.3 million-dollar truck is ready to at any given moment in the day. “We have to make sure the truck is good to go,” Wiseley said. “An emergency could happen anytime.” At the station, firefighters don’t let their guard down even on a static day.

a close relationship; Wiseley has memories of them going to parades across the county at a young age. Wiseley looked up to his dad’s friend and was inspired to be like him one day. At the age of 19, Wiseley became what is known as a “part-paid” firefighter: someone who has a pager on them at all times and is permitted to leave their job whenever they are called to do so. After some time in the Dexter firefighting system, he applied to be a firefighter in Ann Arbor and landed at the Fifth Avenue Fire Department. The training process in the early 80s was less rigorous than what it is now, Wiseley says. They called it “66-hour training,” in which you would tally 66 hours of training in order to become a firefighter. In today’s world, you need medical

We spend 24 hours with each other and see things together that most people don’t see. We’re more than family.

training to be hired as a firefighter, and it requires longer and more involved training. Wiseley spent one winter going to class on Tuesday and Thursday nights to get all his hours in and start his career. The relationship Wiseley has with his colleagues is part of what makes his job so special to him. Prior to the apartment complex fire, Wiseley was in the middle of painting the exterior of his house. While he was severely burned and off work for three months, his crew surprised him and finished the paint job for him. Wiseley describes his relationship with his colleagues as a brotherhood. “We spend 24 hours with each other and see things together that most people don’t see. We’re more

than family.” As much as Wiseley loves his job, it isn’t all fun and games when in the station. “A lot of people think we sit around and play games all day. The truth is when we’re not fighting fires we still have a lot to get done.” At the station, it is important that all the trucks and any resources are always ready to go. When firefighters aren’t checking the trucks, they are training, in meetings or keeping their licenses up to date through regular online tests. Wiseley and his crew travel to different cities in Michigan teaching adults and kids the basics of fire safety as well as how to deal with other fire-related problems. Wiseley says if all citizens kept

Photo By Lewis Perry Chief Kennedy breaks down a day-by-day plan of what goes on inside the station. Being the leader of the station means all of his orders need to be clear. “We spend 24 hours with each other and see things together that most people don’t see,” Wiseley said. “We’re more than family.”

their smoke detectors up to date and knew strategies like “stop, drop and roll” a lot of fires could be avoided. He also advises people to never try putting out a house fire by themself. Calling 9-1-1 is always the safest option; fires expand faster than people think. As Wiseley gets older, he spends less time fighting fires and more time in the office. Wiseley plans on retiring next June, but will forever consider the station on 5th avenue his home. He will regularly come into the station to help out and talk to old friends. “33% of my week is spent in the station and I’ve spent over half my life as a firefighter. I don’t regret anything, and I wouldn’t have spent my career any other way.” Feature | January 2022 | 31

Flying Blind CHS members share their takes on LGBTQ+ high school dating culture. BY FELICITY ROSA-DAVIES

“Queer people just don’t have older role models to look up to in the same way that straight people do.” 32 | The Communicator Magazine

Caroline Andrews has noticed a divide between representation of heterosexual and queer couples in the media— everywhere from bigbox movies to the TikToks on her ‘For You’ page. “I think there’s definitely a lot more straight couples [media] out there,” Andrews said. “I’ve seen a lot of spa day TikToks of straight couples that I send to [my boyfriend], saying ‘we should do this’. But I don’t know how much of that content exists for people who aren’t heterosexual.” Andrews herself doesn’t put a label on her sexuality, but she is currently in a heterosexual relationship with her boyfriend, Shamar Napier. When Napier and Andrews started dating after a year and a half of being friends, Andrews felt unprepared not knowing what maintaining an official relationship would entail. Her relationship with Napier was the first dating experience she’d had, and this feeling of apprehension made Andrews worried about how to build up the relationship from its inception. “I didn’t feel very emotionally ready,” Andrews said. “I didn’t know what to expect or what would change between [Napier and me]. Even though it’s worked out well now, I didn’t realize how much work it would be to maintain a healthy and stable relationship.” This feeling of unease in dating is commonly felt by Theo Sheridan*, but for a different reason. Sheridan, a Community High School (CHS) junior, has noticed that many queer high schoolers don’t feel prepared to be in relationships. Sheridan credits this to the emotionally difficult process that queer people go through in navigating their sexual, romantic and gender orientations, particularly while dating in high school for the first time. “[Many] queer people at our age, myself included, just aren’t done with the emotional work and the acceptance that you have to reach [in order to] truly step outside of the traditional, heterosexual normative of ‘this is how dating is’ [or] ‘this is how marriage is.’” Sheridan said. In Sheridan’s eyes, teenagers are learning how to form and experience relationships within a society that discourages anything outside of the scope of heterosexual relationships, or ‘Hallmark relationships,’ as he refers to them. Sheridan identifies as a gay, cisgender male, and in trying to form romantic relationships, he has faced many emotional blocks surrounding his sexuality that heterosexual people have not had to encounter. “When [queer people] realize ‘that’s not my sexuality,’ or ‘that’s not my gender’ and we step out of that [norm], there is a sense of failure and disappointment that comes with along with that [revelation],” Sheridan said. “It can be really difficult to overcome that, and to have a relationship that could make you happy otherwise.” As teenagers and as humans, we seek guidance from the people in our lives who are older than us— our role models. Sheridan has observed a difference between queer and heterosexual role models in the world: a juxtaposition that holds huge influence over how queer people form romantic relationships of their own. “Because of events like the AIDS epidemic, queer

people just don’t have older role models to look up to in the same way that straight people do,” Sheridan said. “There’s not a lot of older people that we can look at and use as an example of, ‘that’s the life that I’d be happy having.’” Chloe Root, a CHS history and government teacher has seen firsthand how meaningful a role model’s presence can be for teenagers experiencing dating for the first time. Root, who now identifies as queer, came out as bisexual when she was 14 years old and went through adolescence with very few queer role models in her life. However, Root did have one key person she looked up to as a teenager. During her sophomore year in high school, Root got a job working at a law firm next door to CHS, where she met a female lawyer who was in a long-term, stable relationship with a woman. Root describes this person as a powerful example to her of a normal queer relationship in the world. “I felt like all of the queer relationships I had seen portrayed [in media] were very dramatic, chaotic and anonymous,” Root said. “I hadn’t really seen queer women in relationships as adults, and [this lawyer] just had a healthy normal one.” Recognizing this real-life example of a queer relationship gave Root security in seeing what her potential future as a queer adult in a relationship could be. If this woman could simply exist as a queer person in a normal relationship, teenage Root knew that she must be allowed to do that too. “It was pivotal to know that I could have a healthy, adult relationship with someone else who was female or queer-identified and that I didn’t have to just be in straight relationships,” Root said. “I knew I wanted to have more long-term partnerships, but I didn’t know what that looked like for queer people because it was so not accepted and there were so few examples of it. So actually seeing that example as a teenager and being like, ‘okay, this is real,’ was so important to me.” A role model’s presence, although significant, isn’t the only component in the challenge of high school dating. For teenagers in a heterosexual relationship like Andrews, there is the factor of unpreparedness and unfamiliarity that comes with dating someone for the first time. But for teenagers like Sheridan, there are numerous factors: not only are queer teenagers dating for the first time in their lives, but they are also facing enormous difficulty in self acceptance that complicates their abilities to experience dating in an unimpeded way. Regardless of whether someone is queer or not, dating in high school creates a sense of vulnerability that can feel uncomfortable. But Sheridan views this vulnerability as a possibility for emotional and interpersonal growth. “I think so many people are flying blind,” Sheridan said. “But not everyone has to have it down perfectly [in] their first [relationship]. Everyone will find their own way with time, and with help from the people who care about them most.” * Name changed to protect anonymity

Photography by Felicity Rosa-Davies From left to right: Chloe Root, Caroline Andrews, Shamar Napier. “These [queer relationships] are possibilities that are out there, and being a queer person doesn’t mean this specific thing: there are a lot of different versions of it,“ Root said.

THREADING THE NEEDLE Individuality within every stitch; a new age of Japanese designers strives to advance a more sustainable fashion empire. BY SAM CAO AND LEWIS PERRY

34 | The Communicator Magazine

When you think of the artisanship of Japan, you may think of their excellent swordsmanship or their newest jump in technology. Japan has produced generational designers who have pushed the boundaries of fashion in their own way, designing some of the most unique and powerful designs. The fashion

scene historically has deep European roots, with a focus on elegance and status symbols, commanded by major brands like Louis Vuitton that have dominated for over a hundred years. However, a wave of designers have begun to change the shape of the fashion industry to their own with new views and ideals.


CDG Play Converse with the iconic heart logo.

Rei Kawakubo, founder and head designer of Comme Des Garçons, started the push to put Japan on the runway. Kawakubo objected to the fashion norms set in front of her by fellow designers with unique and abstract designs. Kawakubo started working as a stylist and never wanted to be a designer until she decided to start her own brand. Comme Des Garçons (CDG) has risen to become one of the biggest brands in Japan, and under the CDG label, there are over 20 subbrands. The many different brands all serve a different purpose and work together to create the fashion powerhouse we see in CDG. Some sub-brands are made to fund the more abstract projects, including CDG’s most popular line CDG Play, making the brand’s underground projects get the attention of the general public. CDG Play has been able to build global interest in the

Comme Des Garçon polka dot covered coach jacket.

brand, keeping the distinctiveness of the brand while suiting the mainstream audience. The CDG label has opened the world to the rising industry of fashion in Japan. The brand has empowered many designers to get their work seen on a global scale. Designer Junya Watanabe has seen the power of the CDG umbrella. Starting as a pattern cutter, Watanabe has risen to stardom because of Kawakubo, who gave him his own line for the brand. Watanabe’s designs have caught the attention of major pop culture figures, from Kanye West making a song named after him to former First Lady Michelle Obama wearing his pieces. Through these efforts, a bridge has formed from Japan to the rest of the world. Kawakubo has put the pocket of fashion in Japan into the spotlight. Feature | January 2022 | 35


Japan’s black sheep of fashion. The brand features one of a kind designs matched with illustrious quality.

In the past few years, Kapital has taken over the worldwide fashion scene. Founded in 1984 by Tokishiyo Hirata, Kapital is a handmade denim-focused luxury clothing brand. After living in the U.S. for several years, Hirata became fascinated with American denim, which he decided to focus on when he returned to Japan. Today, the brand is run by Kiro Hirata, Tokishiyo’s son. Kapital continues to produce some of the most highly regarded denim pieces in the world along with other luxury garments. To Kapital, denim is everything. Every detail is made to perfection on their jeans, with textures and stitching changes to make the jeans the most unique pairs on the market. Some jeans feature designs that look like a quilt full of patches, while others have rhinestones and are distressed. One of Kapital’s denim lines, Century Denim, is handmade and uses traditional dyes to create arguably the best jeans on the market. The quality is promised to be so good that the jeans will last a century—hence the name century denim. Japan has begun a culture of contorting the universe of denim; designers like Kapital have pushed the boundaries of this staple material. Hirata tends to combine luxury with utility — some pieces take a multi-utility idea and combine it with the quality the brand is known for. A Kapital piece can be a jacket as well as a pillow, not to mention

reversible. The uniqueness and ability to be so multifaceted is a big reason why Kapital is so popular. The items also combine traditional Japanese culture with western fashion tones. Their kimonos and bandanas are made with denim and decorated with patches that might be found in a thrift store. In 2010, Kapital launched its Kountry line, focusing on reworking and redyeing original Kapital pieces to make new pieces. This process was meant to create originality within the clothing they make and to give each piece a distinctive feel. Some of the most highly acclaimed Kountry pieces are those with the famous smiley face or skeleton print. Kiro stated in an interview that the smiley face pays homage to hippie culture which has always grabbed his interest. Kountry helped push the new generation of Kapital to continue the brand’s reputation of creating unparalleled clothing. Kapital models is an 85-year-old man named Wang Deshun, who appears in many of the lookbooks over the years. Kapital markets the clothes they make for the general public instead of making runway-focused fashion. This allows for more intricate designs that are made to be worn, not hung in closets or put on display. Whether the brand’s designs are in style or not, Kiro will continue to make his brand different from any other brand in the world.

Green and Khaki Kapital drunk stripe zip fleece

Kapital 60 yarns Grandrelle Ivy smile socks


Needles Argyle-Patterned Mohair Cardigan.

Fading away from normal, these two brands are reconstructing thrift store pieces into runway looks.

Engineered Garments Plaid Houndstooth Check Shirt.

Located in the heart of the Garment District in New York City, Nepenthes is a Japanese fashion collective home to two of the biggest streetwear brands in New York: Needles and Engineered Garments. Daiki Suzuki started the brand Engineered Garments after years of shopping at the Nepenthes store. Suzuki found inspiration in American military uniforms and thrift stores. The clothes from Engineered Garments can be described as military grade quality with intricate designs that are detailed to every stitch. His close friend Keizo Shimizu, owner of Needles and Nepenthes, helped Suzuki start his own brand under Nepenthes. The pair go on road trips across the U.S. to find the best possible thrift stores to make new designs 38 | The Communicator Magazine

for their brands. Pieces from these brands have an aged and washed look even when new, giving them a thrifted appearance. Rebuilt by Needles is one of the brand’s staples; every piece from the Rebuilt series is made from used clothes, usually from thrift stores, and combined into one piece of clothing making every single piece of clothing handmade and one of a kind. This idea of making new clothes out of thrifted clothing is foreign to the current high fashion industry. Shimizu is a non-conformist designer aiming to make his brand the opposite of fast fashion trends ideals. He wants his work to reflect who he is as a person and asks the same of his collaborators. This season, the fashion world found a new love for the Needles

tracksuit. The Needles tracksuit comes in almost every color combination and is a popular piece for the brand. Rapper A$AP Rocky worked with Needles to create his own tracksuit with the brand. Rocky’s brand AWGE helped Needles create multiple tracksuits, putting the brand in the spotlight. The most important part of Nepenthes is the sustainability of their brands. The brands reuse clothes with their different designs and do not mass produce any of their clothes. Engineered Garments uses previously-owned pre-washed fabric, while Rebuilt by Needles is all thrifted clothes combined into oneof-a-kind pieces, eliminating the waste from the production of the clothes.

Since opening in 2013, Eric Hardin, owner of Today Clothing located in downtown Ann Arbor, has worked with brands such as Kapital, Comme Des Garçons, Engineered Garments and Needles to sell their clothes. Hardin takes ethics and quality very seriously when it comes to the brands he works with. “We want to work with brands that don’t cut corners and really have a vision of what they want to produce,” Hardin said. “We found that many Japanese brands we work with have a similar ethos to how they see the product and how they want to do business. So

over the years, we’ve definitely increased the number of Japanese brands that we carry.” The Japanese fashion industry is undergoing exponential international growth. The cultural impact of Japanese fashion is also growing, with nods from icons such as former First Lady Michelle Obama and rapper Playboi Carti. The move away from mass-produced fast fashion is a positive turn away from the current state of the fashion world. “What we love about what [Engineered Garments] does is they make really durable, straightforward U.S. made fabrics,” Hardin

said. “It’s the kind of garment that only gets better over time. Ultimately, it’s not only the care and consideration that goes into the product, but also how the companies run their business.” As this new pocket of the fashion world arises, it is important to take into consideration the cultural advancement our society has participated in. Whether it is the remarkable quality and design or the pure sustainability of the pieces these brands produce, the accomplishments these Japanese designers have achieved are truly special.

Photo By Lewis Perry Eric Hardin stands behind the counter at Today Clothing. The store, standing in downtown Ann Arbor, MI sells highend menswear. “Whether [Kapital] is making fleece jackets, t-shirts, jeans, or scarves they do it in a fresh unique style.”

Feature | January 2022 | 39

Reflections In The Glass Four CHS students share their experiences as dancers: stereotypes, mirrors, recitals and practice. BY MAGGIE WOLF AND ELLA ROSEWARNE ART BY MIA WOOD

40 | The Communicator Magazine

Lila Ryan has been dancing since she was two years old. Since the time she learned to walk, her love for the sport has only grown. Memories of Nutcracker performances, solos, competitions and time spent with teammates remind her constantly of why she has dedicated so much of her life to dance. However, not all aspects of Ryan’s dance experience have been quite so positive. Growing up in the dance community, she noticed early on a culture of comparison, especially when it comes to body image. In her experience, this comparison can even be internal, her past self competing

with her present. “Once I hit around eighth grade, and I started growing into my body a lot more, I started noticing, ‘wow, I can’t get my leg as high up anymore because there’s more there,’” Ryan said. “I grew [a lot] over a year, so [from] eighth grade to my sophomore year, there was such a big difference that I thought there was something wrong.” Though she has noticed similar issues across all genres of dance, Ryan has found the ballet environment to be particularly toxic. “I think all of ballet has stemmed from this elitist idea that only the skinniest, prettiest and whitest of

dancers can really be a ballerina,” Ryan said. The professional ballerinas that young dancers grow up seeing often propagate this same image. In Ryan’s case, seeing only one type of body represented in the professional ballet world made her feel as though she needed to change her own body to match this image. “To be a dancer, you feel like you have to look a certain way and fit into a box, and when you don’t, it’s harder for you to see yourself dancing more than just in high school,” Ryan said. Since she finds this professional image unlikely to change, Ryan

hopes instead that change in the dance community will come from the way instructors and studios teach young dancers. “My teachers have always been body positive and inclusive and loving for everyone,” Ryan said. “They’re like my second family.” The positive environment in her studio helped Ryan to work through her own struggles with self-comparison. She hopes other young performers will have the same support. Marisa Andoni-Savas started dancing at three and a half years old, taking private lessons. In fifth grade, she moved to Randazzo Dance Studio where she was immediately accepted into their dance community. Being in a studio with a community, Andoni-Savas has been able to connect with dance much more. Andoni-Savas does all genres of dance. Her current favorite genres are lyrical and modern. “[Lyrical and modern are] not a lot about the technique;, it’s about showing your emotions and having your audience feel you,” Andoni-Savas said. “Being able to share that and share my dance with people is really exciting for me.” Andoni-Savas has learned to express herself through dance and how dance can be an outlet for her. “It’s a really big stress reliever for me,” Andoni-Savas said. “Whenever I feel really stressed, I’ll go to my dance studio, I’ll just do some stretches, and I’ll try to dance it out. It’s easy to just let go.” She sees dance as a part of her future, though she is unsure whether that will include dancing or choreographing, or both. Currently Andoni-Savas teaches classes to younger girls at her studio. At recitals, she enjoys seeing what she has taught, and also what she has learned. “Before [a recital], I feel really excited; there’s not a lot of nervous feelings,” Andoni-Savas said. “I’m just like, ‘whatever happens, it happens. I’m dancing; this is what I love so it’s going to be fine either way.’ During [the performance], it goes by really quickly for me. I always forget everything that happens, and then after I’m relieved that it’s over.” After recitals, she moves on to

thinking about the next class, the next recital and the next thing to learn. When learning, Andoni-Savas sees mirrors as an advantage in dance: a way to show technique and correct yourself. Mirrors would not fit in other sports the same way as they do in dance. She has found mirrors helpful when learning, but feels she is too dependent on them. If I want to go pro, mirrors aren’t going to be a big thing that [all] studios have,” Andoni-Savas said. “So having a mirror is a big advantage and something I’m really grateful for, but I need to start learning to use my muscle memory so I can start transferring all the movements when mirrors go away.” Though Andoni-Savas sees mirrors as an advantage right now, they present additional challenges for her. “We’re putting our bodies on display; dancing for people is all about the body,” Andoni-Savas. “It really depends on the person whether or not they’re comfortable just putting their body out there. Some people are a little less comfortable with that, and some people are really okay with that, but I think having a mirror for me is a big struggle because I’m constantly looking and I’m like, ‘Well that’s wrong; I need to fix it,’ but sometimes I need to do it by muscle memory instead of with a mirror. I’m never really learning the mistakes I’m making; I’m just looking at the mirror and saying that looks wrong so let’s fix it.” When Morgan McClease was in fifth grade, she was told for the first time, “you don’t look like a dancer.” At ten years old, McClease had been dancing for seven years, longer than she could remember. However, for the first time, she became very conscious of her body and began to wonder why it did not look like the ballerinas she saw on the stage. McClease spent hours each week in the studio, learning different styles of dance. But as she learned to perform lyrical, musical theater, tap, jazz and ballet, she also learned to compare herself to the other dancers around her. “You’re in a leotard and tights, so it’s super tight on your body and Feature | January 2022 | 41

you can see every flaw and imperfection that everyone has,” McClease said. “There’s also this huge mirror in the studio, and you’re constantly looking at yourself.” McClease struggles with the idea that she had to change herself to be a successful dancer. Within the dance community, she became conscious of a standard of perfection early on. In her experience,

“They make pointe shoes in this light pink color to match a white person’s [skin], and then if you are a person of color, you have to change the color of every point shoe,” McClease said. Using foundation to change the color of pointe shoes has become another way in which dancers must conform to a universal standard. Owen Provenzola said, “Dance

THEY MAKE POINTE SHOES IN THIS LIGHT PINK COLOR TO MATCH A WHITE PERSON’S [SKIN], AND THEN IF YOU ARE A PERSON OF COLOR, YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THE COLOR OF EVERY POINTE SHOE.” dancers tend to hold themselves and each other to unattainable standards. “I’m a perfectionist, and dance is something that no one is ever completely perfect at,” McClease said. Dealing with her own and others’ standards has been difficult for McClease. Though for the most part her teachers have been very supportive and loving, the dance community as a whole has had a significant influence on McClease’s dance experience, often causing her and many of her peers to feel as though they are not skinny enough, not pretty enough or not talented enough. “I feel like if you don’t look a certain way, it’s a lot harder for you in the dance world,” McClease said. “You’re treated differently.” This standard associated with ballet, and dance in general, presents itself in unique ways, often unknown to those outside the dance community. Even seemingly arbitrary aspects of dance, such as the shoes performers wear, contribute to the often harmful image of the “perfect dancer.” 42 | The Communicator Magazine

is a test of grit — if you’re willing to do everything you can to push through and still look the best you can.” Owen Provenzola started dancing at five years old at Randazzo Dance Studio. Since then, he has only taken one break from dance when he broke his leg in gymnastics in fifth grade. “When I came back to do gymnastics and ballet, it just felt [like] so much,” Provenzola said. “I would lose my balance; I would fall; I would have a harder time doing anything. Being there after years and years, it makes you realize that [dance] is a constant maintaining of strength and balance that makes you so much stronger.” After his injury, returning to both dance and gymnastics was too overwhelming and in seventh grade he chose to pursue only dance. Though being a gymnast built strength he still uses in dance. He has found a community and family at Randazzo Dance Studio where he is supported and motivated to get better and push through challenges.

“Whenever I go out and dance, it always forces [me] to be there and be present,” Provenzola said. “You have to be in the moment; you have to think about every muscle and every step. You don’t ever want to fall behind, and I think that’s one of the things that pushes me.” Provenzola performs in recitals once a year in the spring. As recital season approaches, his practices pick up and can become stressful. Provenzola gets nervous at his recitals, but when he walks onto the stage and the lights shine on him, he blurs out the audience and focuses on dancing. “I want to be the best I can and I don’t want to be a blank dancer,” Provenzola said. “[I want to] do something so people see me.” A large factor in Provenzola’s growth in dance is mirrors. In his basement he uses mirrors to practice; they are a resource that is always there for him. For him, the mirror’s purpose is correcting his dance. This has helped him improve as a dancer. Over the years Provenzola’s goal in dance has shifted from getting as strong as he can and to look good while dancing to his current goal: persevering to improve and reach his goals. When Provenzola watches a captivating dancer, he feels inspired and wants to reach that level of an influential performance. As Provenzola’s goals in dance shifted over the years, he learned to embrace his identity as a dancer. For this reason, it is frustrating for Provenzola when people assume his sexuality purely based on his sport. “[Dance] is a female-dominant sport, [and] in the U.S. it’s not as glorified as other places; In Russia or Japan [dance is] awesome, but here people just assume [my sexuality],” Provenzola said. “[These stereotypes] made me self conscious to talk about [dance]. Up until eighth grade, I felt self conscious about it. My best friend for years didn’t even know [that I danced], but now I’ve embraced it. I am a dancer, and I like [dancing], and it’s something that should be glorified.”

Feature | January 2022 | 43

Songs, books, video games and mental health are all essential elements of our culture. They are also used to explain school shootings. But this only distracts from the real solution: common-sense gun-safety laws. STAFF EDITORIAL

In 2010, an unsuspecting music group called Foster the People released their debut single, “Pumped Up Kicks,” hoping for their first breakout hit. With its bouncing guitar chords and catchy chorus, the track quickly skyrocketed to the top of the charts, eventually peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks. In an interview with the band’s leader, a Billboard critic hailed the record as a “crossover hit that catered to multiple genre formats and … helped usher in a new era of commercially successful indie-leaning pop music.” But behind the band’s “ultimate breakthrough” are its stunningly sinister lyrics. “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, outrun my gun,” Foster the People sang. “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run faster than my bullet.” 44 | The Communicator Magazine

The song that enchanted millions of listeners is about a school shooting. Nevertheless, we all sang along, in blissful ignorance, as it tore through the upper echelon of the music industry. Similar references to school shootings are evident in Stephan King’s “Rage,” a novel about a high schooler who kills his teacher and holds the rest of the students hostage, and in the Boomtown Rats hit single, “I Don’t Like Mondays,” inspired by the 1979 shooting at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego. However, violent songs, books and video games exist everywhere; a person in Japan can listen to the same music, read the same books and play the same video games as a person in the US. Yet, the person in America is 300 times more likely to die from gun violence than the person in Japan. Mental health is also used as a scapegoat to make

sense of senseless shootings. Although these illnesses should be a public health priority, they are tangential to the issue at hand. In fact, in his 2015 study, Jeffery Swanson, a medical sociologist at Duke, estimated that only 4% of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues. These factors of pop culture and mental illness are therefore an excuse — not an explanation — for the uniquely American phenomenon of mass shootings. Instead, irresponsible gun safety laws are to blame. According to Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama, out of the 91 countries in the world with more than 10 million people, America ranks second per capita in the rate of mass shootings — second to Yemen, a country entrenched in civil war and one of the poorest in the Arab world. Uncoincidentally, this same study found that Yemen has the world’s second-highest rate of gun ownership — second only to the United States. In other words, gun ownership and mass shootings are inexplicably intertwined. Despite overwhelming research that corroborates Lankford’s findings, widespread political inaction persists. Common-sense gun-safety laws have worked internationally, as evidenced in Britain and Canada. But when faced with the same issue, the US historically prioritized one freedom above all else and consciously decided to let the killings continue. In support of this decision, gun lobbies like the National Rifle Association and conservative politicians are quick to point out two things: self-defense and the Second Amendment. However, their argument falls flat when we contextualize the Bill of Rights and un-

derstand the data surrounding self-defense. According to David Hemenway, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, more guns only intensify already-hostile interactions and increase the likelihood of more violence. This cocktail of high emotions and powerful weaponry is better appreciated when comparing Revolutionary-era rifles to contemporary technology. In 1791, as James Madison drafted the Second Amendment, the gun of choice was the Charleville musket. Today, 230 years later, there are an estimated five million AR-15s in circulation, which are ten times more accurate and three times as powerful. Thus, we reach Nov. 30, 2021, when a student at Oxford High School opened fire on the school and killed four students, Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin and Tate Myre, and injured seven others. This marked the 28th — and most deadly — school shooting of the year, and it took place only 60 miles from Ann Arbor. The attack spurred subsequent threats throughout Southeast Michigan and temporarily shut down dozens of districts throughout the region, including Ann Arbor Public Schools. As students, we cannot idly accept these tragedies to be a tradition. We must emphasize reforms that not only seek to prepare us for shootings but prevent them entirely. Now, in the wake of yet another preventable attack on our fellow students, we must turn apathy to sympathy and pass common-sense regulations. Until then, bullets will keep flying, blood will keep spilling and students will keep dying. Opinion | January 2022| 45

Don’t Call Me Baby. 46 | The Communicator Magazine


Although I have only been working for six months, I’ve faced harassment at my job multiple times. This is not a unique experience, especially for teenage girls. BY RIA LOWENSCHUSS

Recently, I was harassed by a customer at my job in a bookstore. I walked him over to a section and he called me cute, reaching over to clasp my arm. I stopped myself from recoiling and smiled at him. He is being nice, I told myself. He is a harmless old man. I have been working in a professional environment for almost six months now. Before that, I did various odd jobs: babysitting, dog walking and yard work. In almost all of my working experiences, men have harassed me. They have commented on my body or demeanor, blatantly stared at me and touched me unnecessarily. And every time, without fail, I told myself I was overreacting. When a coworker calls me “princess” or “baby,” I shake it off and continue on with my day. When people look my body up and down while I shelve books, I smile and turn away. When a customer grabs my hand while I ring them up, I swallow my retort and tell them their total. These experiences are not unusual — especially for teenagers. Men feel entitled to our bodies and our time, especially when we work in service or retail. According to E.J. Graff, a researcher at Brandeis University’s Schuster Center, about 200,000 teens are sexually ha-

rassed at work every year. This is likely a low estimate, as the majority of these sexual harassment cases go unreported. Lucy Cassell-Kelley, a junior at CHS, works at a gym where she teaches children gymnastics. She often has to deal with parents who comment on her body and behavior. Cassell-Kelley described an older man — a grandparent, she thinks — who comes into the gym every Monday and calls her nicknames such as “sweetie.” “[His comments feel] weird because this is a professional place and you have no idea how old I am, especially wearing a mask,” Cassell-Kelley said. Although Cassell-Kelly loves her job and overall describes it as a positive experience, she has been negatively impacted by the verbal harassment from parents. Carolina Smith* has been a customer service coordinator at a retail store since June 2021; she started her job in Feb. 2021 as an associate. Harassment, according to Smith, is almost constant while she is working. She is called names like “doll” and “baby girl,” as well as “b*tch.” Men have caressed her hands and arms and looked at her body. The constant harassment that Smith faces at work overwhelms

her and makes her blame herself for this behavior. She feels uncomfortable at work and often has to take breaks after she experiences verbal or sexual harassment from customers. “[The harassment] does feel like a personal attack at myself, even though I know I’m only doing my job and there’s nothing I can really do,” Smith said. “Over time, I’ve learned that I’m just doing my job and people have bad days. It’s not my fault.” I love my job for so many reasons. But more and more often, my shifts have left me drained. I find myself on the verge of tears and utterly exhausted, specifically because of the harassment I am faced with. Being called nicknames, being touched against my will, being yelled at — it takes a toll, especially on teenagers. We deserve better — in professional environments and all walks of life. Sexual harassment against young women is only increasing, affecting two out of three teenage girls. We will not stand for this inexcusable abuse. No longer should I be forced to deal with offensive and demeaning nicknames, with hands clasping my shoulder and staring at my chest. I deserve to feel safe and comfortable. We all do. *Name changed for anonymity

Opinion | January 2022| 47

N A C E C L C ULT U RE Inside the heads of AAPS students who have been canceled and those who have done the canceling. BY IZZY STEVENS AND IZZIE JACOB

48 | The Communicator Magazine

A Division 1 recruit with a scholarship had her entire life ahead of her.

Then, her friends decided it would be funny to get her canceled. After making a fake screenshot, they sent it to a locally known website who published it for a larger audience. When it reached her future college, she lost her scholarship and everything that came with it. Her future was flushed down the drain. In the age of cancel culture, this is an unfortunate and cruel reality that could drag anyone down. Cancel culture is mass canceling. In other words, being canceled means being cut off of support and opportunities for the person who is being canceled. Getting canceled usually stems from saying a slur, acting inappropriately and perpetuating racism and other types of prejudices. Oftentimes, people’s schools, jobs, families and social media are attacked after being cancelled. Cancel culture is a double-edged sword: the people that are being held accountable for their actions and the people who are getting canceled because of a misunderstanding. Nonetheless, cancel culture was first forged from a space meant for accountability. Though we cannot completely pinpoint where cancel culture first originated, we do know it happened around the time of the #MeToo Movement. In this instance, canceling was helpful; however, this is not the case today. Over time, people took the act of “canceling” to another level. Instagram “tea accounts” filled every school district, canceling students and staff who went there. For example, Spencer Johnson* was canceled by one such page during the pandemic. Johnson used a slur that targeted a minority community that they were not a part of. Before they were canceled, one of their friends had informed them that the word was offensive. They used the new knowledge of what the word meant and how it has been used against

certain disadvantaged minorities in the past caused them to change their behavior. But two years later, an Instagram account posted screenshots of Johnson using the inappropriate word. People responded by storming their personal accounts. “At the time, a lot of people were commenting things on my personal posts and on posts that didn’t really relate to the topic, such as my appearance and things,” Johnson said. After being canceled again, Johnson publicly apologized for their actions and anyone they hurt in the process. Although it is helpful that they were called out, Johnson still wishes it were not public. “I think the person who had screenshotted the text could’ve texted me privately instead,” Johnson said. Even after Johnson had grown, they were held back by their past. During the lockdown, Greta Lows* was on the other edge of the sword. They helped call people out on a popular Instagram account, and on their own, too. “People our age need to be held accountable,” Lows said. “Not knowing isn’t a good enough excuse for bigotry anymore.” Unlike the person Johnson was canceled by, Lows only canceled people that had done bad things within the past year. They believed that these individuals needed to be held accountable. “I am a firm believer [that] people who are racist, homophobic, ableist don’t deserve anything in life,” Lows said. “Closed-minded views make life unimaginably hard for people with more disadvantaged identities.” Unless the person has shown growth, Lows believes that they should be held accountable. However, Lows has also seen the dirty side of cancel culture — when it goes too far. “I canceled [someone] numerous times just to find out a year later that the things she was canceled for [were] her friends [who] made fake screenshots as a joke,” Lows said. The girl who was canceled lost her college scholarship to play sports because of a joke gone too far. Cancel culture can have severe consequences for those who are canceled. There is no remorse shown for them. How can they grow when they are thrown in a never-ending hole of hate? No person is perfect. The point of life is striving to grow, striving to be better. Yes, people need to be held accountable. Yes, people need to grow, and if they refuse to grow, there should be consequences. But if we leave no room for growth, how does humanity grow together? How do we swim to the shores of a more equal and just society if we’re drowning in the mistakes of the past? Educating others is not canceling, just as public humiliation is not teaching. Let’s create an environment of growth willing others to learn from their own mistakes instead of being afraid of making them. *Names changed for anonymity Opinion | January 2022| 49

Although regulation initially seems like unnecessary intervention, a case must be made for government mediation in a world of market failures. BY CHARLIE BEESON

Picture this: You’re taking a short stroll down a desolate and smog-filled street, in a pocket of lull outside of a crowded and frantic city. Boxing you in are short brick buildings with deteriorating red and brown streaks from water damage, seeping down from the roofs, looming over your head and blocking the rays of the midday sun and the greyish road infrastructure surrounding you. Leaning on a cracked lamppost, a dark figure blows smoke from a cigarette and reads the paper. As you near him, the foul stench of the smoke invades your nostrils and assaults your mind. The smoke is a pungent blend of smoldering herbs and noxious poison, distracting you from the road ahead. As you walk past, you feel faint, and your head begins to spin. Your eyes sink into your feet. Blackness envelops your vision. Regulation of novel tobacco products started to kick in during the mid 1960s. Before more aggressive regulation, smoking caused serious increases in cancer cases and lung disease. According to the World Health Organization, over 100 million people died from tobacco use in the 20th century, costing 1.8% of global GDP


From Toxic Chemicals To Big Tech: Regulation Is Critical 50 | The Communicator Magazine

in health costs. Many recent products follow this trend: plastics, gas-powered cars, social media, and many chemicals all were, and still are, used without general knowledge of their side effects. New technology, when available in a free market, is used to make a profit and thus certain externalities are easily overlooked; this also happens naturally when society isn’t aware of potential externalities. What these markets need is a guiding light to a path that corrects the clouded vision of the exchange. Regulation, albeit a scary-sounding name, is that guiding light. First, when products hide negative externalities — behind the cost of a cigarette looms the cost of cancer treatment — the consumer will be seriously damaged. Even technology like social media can have externalities. According to an article from Santa Clara University by Jacob Amedie, “[social media] can become easily addictive, taking away family and personal time as well as diminish interpersonal skills, leading to antisocial behavior.” These side effects are devastating to the consumer. Second, malinvestment creates overvaluation, documented in a Forbes article written by Roger L. Martin and Alison Kemper, which explains the catastrophic results of overvalued industries such as the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown where millions of Americans lost their houses and US taxpayers had to bail out corporations like Citigroup with $476 billion in loans. The article also describes the role of the overvalued equity behavioral trap and that overvaluing markets have become “more commonplace and more serious than we initially suspected, and that it affects many important, capital-consuming sectors.” If proper regulation isn’t put in place for future products, social advancement and consumer safety will suffer — just like it poisoned the minds of millions in the 60s. If we ignore the purpose of regulation, and allow for the expansion of dishonest industries, we should expect them to collapse. If we don’t advocate for proper and effective regulation of companies like Facebook’s Instagram and Google’s YouTube, we, the users, will pay the price. We cannot forget the reason why regulation is there — to accurately portray an otherwise subversive product. Do not let these industries fool you — regulation has a place in our world, and that is to keep markets alive. Keep the markets alive.


A Football Player Takes on Aaron Rodgers’ Big Lie

When Packer’s star Aaron Rodgers lied about his vaccination status, I felt betrayed. He failed to uphold a code of integrity expected from role models. BY KURT HAUSMAN

On Nov. 3, the National Football League (NFL) reported that Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers had tested positive for Covid-19. Following the news of his positive test, the media raised questions about the validity of claims Rodgers had made regarding his Covid-19 vaccination status. Along with Rodgers, Packers star wide receiver Davante Adams and defensive coordinator Joe Barry also tested positive within the same week. Pictures and videos surfaced of Rodgers and fellow, unvaccinated, teammate Allen Lazard at a Halloween party, in violation of the NFL’s policy for unvaccinated individuals. Media controversy and accusations started to brew that Rodgers had lied about his vaccination status and that the Packers organization hadn’t enforced proper protocols for unvaccinated players. Accordingly, the NFL launched an investigation into the Packers organization. It ended with nothing but slap-on-the-wrist fines to both the organization and select players, such as Rodgers and Lazard. Rodgers, the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player, said that he had been “immunized” against the disease during a press conference in August. However, it has since been reported, and confirmed by Rodgers, that he has not taken any method of FDA-approved vaccination. As a lifetime fan of football, I have grown up watching Aaron Rodgers play. I have never been a diehard fan of the Packers or Rodgers himself, but I respect him and his career. I remember being a starry-eyed six year old, watching him hoist the Lombardi trophy when he led the Packers to win Super Bowl XLV in 2011. When these allegations began to unfold, I felt be-

trayed. I found myself confused, asking questions I didn’t have answers to. How could he lie about something like this? Why did he make such an arbitrary choice? He disregarded his teammates, coaches and anyone else whom he came in contact with, purely out of his own selfishness. He gave those around him a misleading and false sense of security and intentionally put them in danger. My main issue, however, was not with his choice to remain unvaccinated; it’s the fact that he chose to lie about it. As a professional athlete, he knows his influence on fans, although he chose to ignore it. He made a selfish choice to lie. Rodgers did not initially speak on the matter. It wasn’t until two days after testing positive that he went on the Pat McAfee Show and issued a half-hearted apology. He used the show as a forum to prove his innocence and play a victim role. “I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now,” Rodgers said. “So before my final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket, I think I’d like to set the record straight on so many of the blatant lies that are out there about myself right now.” I find it extremely disheartening that Rodgers couldn’t even admit that he had made mistakes and instead chose to complain about how he was being treated by the media. He didn’t once truly take responsibility for what he did or take time to apologize to anyone. As a public figure, as a face of the NFL and as a teammate there’s a code of integrity that Rodgers failed to uphold.

Opinion | January 2022| 51


AAPS Should Require Winter Athletes To Wear Masks Wearing a mask is not hard, even four-year-olds comply without complaint. BY IZZY STEVENS


During the 2020-2021 school year, students were mandated to stay home from school and continue their classes online. At the start of quarantine, school sports were completely canceled as well. I was lucky enough to be able to continue dancing at my dance studio over Zoom and in-person starting in January of 2021. Of course, we were mandated to wear masks and all complied. For the first couple of practices, I was more tired than usual, but after a while, it became a routine. It wasn’t hard to breathe in my mask even after dancing for five hours straight; my ears did not hurt and my skills did not weaken. Everyone was wearing a mask, even the four-year-olds. Although it’s been a year and a half, Covid is not gone and masks should be mandatory for winter sports. First of all, most of these winter sports are indoors. Dr. Jeanice Swift, the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ (AAPS) Superintendent, suggested that masks be worn during winter sports. On Nov. 5, 2021, she posted an update on the AAPS website: “Masks must be properly worn by student-athletes, including at all times when indoors and when traveling to and from games regardless of the mode of transportation,” Swift said. People also do not know who they’re exposing to Covid-19 by not wearing a mask. This exposes their families, teammates, teammates’ families and anyone else

52 | The Communicator Magazine

in close contact. Since people who are immunocompromised are at greater risk of having harsher symptoms when they get the virus, this is very dangerous for those who are or who have family members who are immunocompromised. Many winter sports are indoor and contact sports. Wrestling, basketball and hockey all consist of many people bumping into each other. This makes it extremely easy for viral droplets to spread and infect those who are not wearing a mask. Furthermore, during games and practices, players mix with other players from different schools and outside environments. This increases the amount of exposures for each case. For example, if a student from CHS who also plays a winter sport contracted Covid-19, their classmates, teammates and opponents will be exposed. That makes three schools — CHS, the home school and the opposing school — all exposed to Covid-19. Overall, what is the harm of wearing masks? After a few weeks of practice, my mask felt normal. From experience, I can say that wearing a mask now will increase your endurance once masks are not needed. For the first week, I had a harder time breathing but I got used to it. It’s now normal. Now, whenever I dance without a mask on, I find myself less out of breath. I believe that people should be wearing masks during winter sports. If a four-year old can play their sport in a mask, anyone can.


If the NBA and the NCAA can safely conduct their seasons without masks, AAPS can, too. BY ELIJAH KLEIN


Masks are an important piece in helping to stop the spread of Covid-19 and making it through the pandemic. The purpose of masks is clear and undoubtedly useful in society. But when it comes to wearing masks during winter sports, the conversation changes. For the 2020-2021 winter sports season, the athletes unfortunately needed to wear masks. In my experience as a basketball player, the masks were a constant annoyance throughout the season. One problem with having the mask mandate for student athletes was simply acquiring and maintaining masks for the season. If a player uses the standard disposable masks, they can only use them for one practice and then they need to throw them out due to the sweat and moisture accumulated in the mask. This causes a variety of problems, because the athlete needs to continuously buy more masks, and the onetime use of masks causes a lot of them to be disposed of and become waste. As we have seen, this waste creates increased levels of pollution in our oceans, lakes and rivers, which is irrefutably negative. Another compelling argument is the way that other levels of sports have approached masking. College and professional teams have all played without masks on, and while players would occasionally test positive for Covid-19, the leagues have been successful in safely completing the season. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), besides the occasional player that would test positive that would shut them or their team down for a little, were able to go through an entire season without any massive outbreaks or reason to shut down on a large scale. These collegiate and professional athletes are travel-

ing further distances, often in planes and hotels, with other people where they could be exposed to Covid-19. For high schoolers, the distance traveled, and thus the risk of exposure, is shorter and there are less interactions with people. If the other levels of sports have been successful without masks, it would make no sense for high school to not follow suit. The increased population of vaccinated people is a third reason that these winter sports should be able to take place without masks. According to the Washtenaw County Health Department, roughly 70% of Washtenaw County residents ages 16 and up are fully vaccinated. There is no statistic on the vaccination rates among high school athletes, but we can extrapolate these numbers to be on par. Even if an athlete is unvaccinated, to be able to play, they need to conduct frequent Covid-19 testing, anyways. If the players and those around them are all vaccinated, a maskless season is reasonable. Last season, the concern was that if someone got the virus and infected others, it would cause serious harm to them or their family. This season, however, the prevalence of vaccinations won’t fully prevent getting Covid-19, but it does almost completely eradicate the chance of getting hospitalized or dying by giving a form of immunity. The pandemic is an issue that still persists, but it should not affect high school athletes’ ability to play their sports without masks. With the waste it creates, the difficulties it places on the athletes’ performance, the examples of other levels of sports not requiring masks and the success of vaccines, the benefit and necessity of wearing a mask during sports is offset, and it should not be required.

With More Vaccinations, AAPS Should Let Athletes Play Maskless Opinion | January 2022| 53


My middle name is Satya. It was my great-grandmother’s name and the only connection I’ve ever had to her: I am the last living family member to carry her name. Unlike me, the Indian in my mother runs deeper than her brown skin and thick black hair. Unlike me, no one questions the race of my blond, blue-eyed father upon meeting him. My middle name is Satya, but the Indian in this name will not overtake the Caucasian genes in my skin. I tan brown — Indian — but burn like a flame — white. My dad’s pre-cancerous skin and light blue eyes stay protected under hats, aviators and sunblock. Just like him, threats of melanoma and carcinoma cast a shadow on my blended complexion. In India, anything that attracts too much attention — like a baby or jewelry — is believed to be marked with a Nazar — a symbolic mark of the evil eye that may bring misfortune to a family. On my first trip to India as an infant, my relatives became concerned that I could be marked with this Nazar. While I have no recollection of the ritual that was completed to remove the evil mark, I have been told the sto54 | The Communicator Magazine

ry countless times: my dad’s enthusiasm as he followed the aunties around the house, carrying out each seemingly ridiculous instruction; the exasperation on my mom’s face as she sat through yet another ceremony, just like she’d tolerated her entire life; and my scrunched up face, crowded with smoke from burning green chile peppers, a vital part of the ritual. According to my aunt, the peppers at my ceremony released enough smoke to suggest a strong Nazar. A black charcoal mark was smudged onto my cheek to counteract this evil-eye mark. Stories of my great-grandmother, Satya, slip off my Nani and Nana’s tongues as they recount her dedication to Hindu practices and her activism in the Indian education system. “Satya” stings my ears as I pronounce its syllables — they are not my own to pronounce. I stare blankly as my Nani addresses me in Hindi, although she speaks fluent English. She catches my confused expression and repeats her instruction, adding a gesture towards a dish to clean or a pot to stir. Perhaps, she hopes I will one day absorb her Hindi and the confusion might fade from my eyes. I hope one day the momentary dis-

appointment will fade from hers, as I fail to register her words. The scents of fresh mutter paneer (spiced peas with a mozzarella-like cheese), white rice with cardamom seeds, butter chicken, rajma (softened red beans) and many other traditional Indian dishes have clung to every surface of Nani’s kitchen for as long as I can remember. It is a familiar and comforting scent, though not one I call home. I have spent my whole life consuming this food without ever learning to create it — until this year. This year, I wanted to claim my great grandmother’s name and call my grandmother’s kitchen home. I spent the next weekend stirring pots and fetching spices for Nani, clinging to every part of the culture I so wanted to call home. I scribbled down notes in the margins of my notebook hoping to capture every scent, color and consistency she could teach me. I still stare blankly each time her voice slips into Hindi, but I have started to find my sense of belonging, creating the scents that cling to those kitchen walls. My skin is still lighter and my hair is still thinner, but the Indian in me runs deeper now.


It was the final day of camp — concert day — the day we had been working towards for the past week. Though I was beyond prepared, I was still terrified. I had butterflies fluttering in my stomach, eager to escape. I hate performing in front of an audience. It was hectic. Everyone ran around, setting up chairs for parents, putting sheet music on their stands and getting ready to perform. We all gathered for one final full band rehearsal. The butterflies got worse. What if I messed up? What if I couldn’t get from one instrument to another fast enough? Finally, it was show time. Everyone was decked out in their white Camp Wolverine t-shirts and black shorts. Then Eric, the director of the camp, came out and introduced us. After that, it was time to start the performance. I was petrified to perform. I always get the worst stage fright. Each of the songs were introduced by a member of the band. They would give a little bit of back-

ground info on the song. We started the performance out with a song called “Dark Fortress,” followed by “Nemesis,” “With Each Sunset,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Cheyenne.” Then we took a break and the camp jazz band performed. All the percussionists gathered around the timpani, which were right on the end by the jazz band to cheer on one of the percussionists, Jon, who was playing the drum kit. The Jazz band played the songs Filthy McNasty, and Dancing Men and the director of the Jazz band was Melissa Sapienza. Once all the jazz band musicians were back in their seats with the whole band, we continued the concert as a full band, starting with A Tallis Prelude, followed by Montana, Wolverine Summer and finally, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, which was an important song to the band director because it had been the favorite song of someone very important to him. After we finished the final song,

we all took our final bow, tears welling up in my eyes, ready to be shed. Camp Wolverine was the greatest camp I had ever been to and it was already my last day with all these amazing people! Why on earth would such an amazing place have to close for good? After we took our final bow, Eric came back out and introduced the audience to the staff that had come for the week to teach us to be better musicians or to be our counselors, or cook the food. He then explained to the parents that it was the final summer that camp would be open. He made a little speech about the camp and what an impact it had made on us and ended it with a quote that has stuck with me even after all this time. That quote was “This is not goodbye, but a see you again someday.” All in all, that is my favorite camp I have ever been to. Camp Wolverine was where I finally started to step out of my comfort zone and helped turn me into the person I am today. Opinion | January 2022| 55

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January 2022 | 57

Travel: Then and Now The fond traveling memories of the before, during and after the pandemic. BY MADISON BELL

Traveling has been a large part of my identity and the culture of my family. I was on a plane for the first time at 18 days old. I got my first passport when I was two months old. I left the country for the first time at three months old. My fondest memories aren’t ones that you’d normally expect: riding the airport train back and forth for what seemed like hours during a long delay, feeling like I was one of the “in-crowd” at age five among the college students my parents taught during a study abroad class, and learning how to jump rope while enrolled for the week in a daycare in a city I had never been to before. I have never had perfect attendance, but I have mastered the art of doing homework

on the plane or in a hotel lobby. Even when out of school, I was always told that I was still learning–about the new city or new culture–just not in the conventional way that my classes promote. Throughout my childhood, traveling with my family has shaped me into the person I am today. Part of the reason I decided to pursue a career in aviation is due to these memories I had while growing up. I want to be able to help others have the same kind of experiences that made me who I am today. In my mind, being a pilot seems the most successful way to continue gaining the memories that are extremely dear to me and support others to do the same.

July 24, 2016 Collioure, France

As the car snaked up the winding roads that wrapped the sides of snow-capped mountains, I stared out the window, watching as the world passed by. I had spent the last few days in a coastal town in Collioure, France, visiting old windmills and touring forts with my cousins who lived nearby. My mind was filled with the croissant I had for breakfast, the sound of my family learning French and what the day would bring. When I stepped from the car, I felt a warm breeze and could hear the sound of cowbells. It 58 | The Communicator Magazine

was not cold, but a shiver went down my spine as I took in my surroundings. It felt like a dream. The seemingly endless hills; a herd of cows grazing in the fields below us; greenery rolling like waves in the sea through the breeze. Mountain air filled my lungs and I watched as the clouds floated through the sky. I was snapped out of a daze by a shriek as my cousins ran off. The crisp mountain air filled my lungs as I chased after them through the endless fields.

The choices weren’t your typical snow cone flavors — there were flavors straight out of an essential oils list: lavender, hibiscus, honey, rose. The unique flavors and cold ice met in the middle to create a snow cone like no other, and one I found myself absolutely inhaling. This seemingly short trip felt like a reentry to the world of travel that I had missed so much.

March 31, 2020 New Orleans, LA

This was the first plane ride I had taken in over a year. I wore the N-95 mask that my parents gave me and maintained social distancing as best as I could while in the airport. It was an odd feeling walking through the familiar gates of the security checkpoints and watching the bubbling fountain at the entrance to the terminal, knowing how much the world had changed. That first step off of the plane, I felt like a new person. I peeled off my mask and took a deep breath of the New Orleans air. It had been two years since I had last been here, in this city that is so special to me. The last time I was here, I spent my time exploring Jazz Fest, a music festival, with thousands of other people. This trip was different. I spent the trip with a mask in my back pocket, trying to savor every bit of New Orleans after spending so many months on lockdown. At the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Bordeaux streets sits a small business selling Sno-Bliz: a snow cone with the typical New Orleans flare. Over the course of our fourday-trip, we became Hansen’s Sno-Bliz’s best customers. Having known the owner from college days, my best friend’s father wanted to support his friend’s business. At least twice a day, I found myself standing in front on the flavor sign that was propped up on the ground.

March 13, 2020 Grand Beach, Grenada

On March 13, the day school shut down for those initial two weeks due the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I wasn’t sitting among my peers getting excited over an extended spring break; I was at the beach with my family. As the daughter of two medical professionals, I was aware that the virus was becoming a more pressing issue, but I had no clue that when I returned home after my week-long trip I would be quarantined in my house for months. As I took this picture, I wasn’t thinking of the days of boredom at home that would follow, or that the plane ride I would take tomorrow would be my last for a long time. “You will not speak of this virus, you will not cough or sneeze, and you will not make any jokes about it ei-

ther.” My mom repeated this mantra over and over on the car ride to the airport. “If you do, we may not be able to go home.” My sisters and I didn’t understand the severity of the emerging pandemic until we were boarding our plane. People were wearing masks — the ones we only knew as surgical masks at that point — and wiping down their seats before sitting down. When I look at this picture, I don’t see the panic that would come the following day. I didn’t know I wouldn’t step foot in a classroom for a year and a half. Instead, I am reminded of the fact that I had spent my day sitting in the sand with my sisters, walking down the beach listening to the waves crash and watching the sun slip beneath the waves. Constants | January 2022 | 59

style this: KATIE SCOVILLE

One white tank top, against Katie Scoville’s closet. With almost endless possibilities, how does she make it fit her style? BY GRACE WANG

Photo By Grace Wang Katie Scoville stands with her hands on her hips, staring into the camera. On a cold December day, she braved the weather in a shortsleeve, thrifted shirt. “[Thrifting is] cheap and environmentally friendly,” Scoville said. “You don’t have to worry about all of the processes that go into creating new clothing.”

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Katie Scoville has been choosing comfort over anything else in her clothing since she could dress. More masculine styles tended to fit her wants the best, but in middle school, she rode the line between not caring about how she dressed and trying to fit in at the same time. Her closet consisted of crop tops and leggings, graphic tees with NASA logos, ringer tees and neon windbreakers. The clothes Scoville and her mom found in Target worked for her at the time, but by her freshman year, she wanted to try something new. Scoville noticed that her peers at school seemed to have a better idea of who they were and what they wanted to wear. Inspired by social media and new friends she started to branch out: she bought her first pair of jeans. Paired with a tuckedin t-shirt, belt and high-top vans, the jeans helped begin her fashion journey. As the world entered the Covid-19 pandemic Scoville found herself scrolling through social media like Pinterest and TikTok. She saw people presenting themselves in the way she wanted to dress. Those wearing less feminine clothing and baggier cuts showed her that she could dress that way too. “During quarantine, since everyone spent so much time consuming media, especially with TikTok, you’re constantly seeing people dressed up nice,” Scoville said. “You might be like ‘That’s how I’ve been wanting to present myself, but I didn’t know how to do it.’” As she grew into her style, Scoville picked up some important pieces: UNC Air Jordan 1 sneakers, Carhartt double-knee pants and some oversized button-up tops. “[I dress] like a 35-year-old construction worker,” Scoville said. “[My style is] a mix of things, mostly from online, but definitely more thrifting than usual, which I’m excited about. I had this whole perception that it was impossible to find good thrift stuff in Ann Arbor

Photo By Grace Wang

Photo By Grace Wang

Katie Scoville’s closet is filled with thrifted jackets and mostly neutral tones. She has been curating her collection from various thrift stores in the greater Ann Arbor area. “I’m not going to expose my locations,” Scoville said.

Katie Scoville’s favorite sneakers sit under a cabinet in her room. After looking for months, she found the perfect pair on GOAT. “I wanted to get a used pair so I could save some money,” Scoville said.

Photo By Grace Wang

because everyone goes to that Salvation Army, everyone sorts through it and everyone takes the good stuff.” Through research and getting her driver’s license, Scoville has found ways to get out of Ann Arbor to thrift. In these less populated stores, she found clothing already worn-in, and perfectly comfortable. “Some things that have been used look better than if you brought them brand spanking new,” Scoville said. “The material gets more wear, and it can sometimes make different coloration which I think makes it unique. You can find stuff there that you couldn’t really find online. It’s like this item has had its own life.” A white Hanes tank top is the base of her outfit today. On top, she wears a self-cropped button-up with overlapping blue and white squares in a small pattern. The blue in the shirt matches closely with her sneakers and ties in the color throughout her outfit. “Sometimes [to crop shirts] I use a ruler but that never works,” Scoville said. “I just draw a faint line, cross my fingers and hope for the best. I always try to go longer than I think because if I go too short, then I’m just going to be upset and I can’t wear the shirt anymore. So I try to go longer than I think and then just cut little by little.” Scoville also wears cream-colored Gap jeans from the men’s section. The proportions of men’s pants are not always the most comfortable for her, but she makes them work for the outfit. “They fit a little funky, but the color is really nice,” Scoville said. To accessorize, Scoville wears bracelets she’s had on since this summer, her signature belt and a bright pink cowboy hat. The bracelets are all related to the sleepaway camp she attends. This year, she traveled to Alaska and brought a piece of the adventure back.

Katie Scoville fixes her pink cowboy hat. Adding fun pieces to her outfits help her feel more comfortable. “You’re gonna have a happier mindset the rest of the day, if you’re feeling good, about what you wear,” Scoville said.

“The green rope was given to everyone in my group after we finished our trip,” Scoville said. “It’s a tradition at our camp once we finish a big trip the counselors burn the rope onto all of us.” Scoville’s hat also came from a camp excursion. After her stay as a camper, she returned to work for the rest of the summer. On one of her days off, she found the hat at a Good Will store in Traverse City, Mich. “I think it’s just fun, and it’s always sitting around in my room,” Scoville said. “[It] sort of brings comfort, and sometimes I just put it on because it’s funny.”

Photo By Grace Wang Katie Scoville stands on her porch, readjusting her shirt. The cool, blue tone of the banister’s paint complemented the colors of her outfit. “ It’s a pretty blue that matches the shoes nice,” Scoville said.

Constants | January 2022 | 61

Proust Questionnaire


What is your idea of perfect happiness? Living in the forest by a lake surrounded by mountains where I can walk around and explore all day. What is your greatest fear? I think my greatest fear is being trapped in like an all white room, like there’s nothing to see except the walls and myself. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I hate how much I apologize, even for things that don’t need apologies I always apologize. What is the trait you most deplore in others? I really hate people who chew loudly. It really grosses me out. Which living person do you most admire? Right now someone who I admire and lookup to a lot is Elsa Rae, she kind of ran away into the woods and left the traditional life behind and that’s something I think is really cool but really hard to do. What is your current state of mind? My current state of mind is like coasting, my brain is just on autopilot doing school and dance. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Politeness and normal manners type things, very different from kindness because that is important but I don’t think traditional manners and standard polite-

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ness are necessary. On what occasion do you lie? I lie more than I like to admit but I try to only lie when there is no way it could hurt another person. What do you most dislike about your appearance? I really hate my nose, I’m Ashkenazi Jewish so I have big nose genes and was always told to hate it and that it wasn’t “good,” so I’m still working over the hatred of my appearance. Which living person do you most despise? I really strongly truly despise this kid who I went to camp with. What is the quality you most like in a man? One quality I look for in a guy specifically is being like a feminist/supporting women. What is the quality you most like in a woman? I can’t think of a specific quality I look for in women specifically that I don’t look for in everyone. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I say tragic, ratio and I make way too many your mom jokes. What or who is the greatest love of your life? The greatest love of my life is dance, I started pretty late in life so it has definitely not been easy catching up to others my age but I’m finally in a place where I can appreciate the artwork to its full potential and love it for that.

Photo By Ella Rosewarne Audrey Weiss leans up against a wall in Kerrytown. She generally goes to Kerrytown for kombucha or a coffee. “My favorite part of Kerrytown is the courtyard, I have a lot of memories with friends there, and it’s also just a really beautiful place,” Weiss said. Constants | January 2022 | 63


Spencer “Spencer” inverts the standard biopic formula bolstered by a moving performance from Kristen Stewart. BY ELLIOT BRAMSON

“Spencer,” released on Nov. 5, 2021, is the latest film to tackle the story of Diana, Princess of Wales. With a fresh approach to the celebrity biopic genre, Director Pablo Larraín chose not to tell the whole story of her life, instead giving a snapshot of one Christmas that Diana spends with the royal family. Without the burden of hitting real-life story beats, the film is able to go into detail about her character and relationships. The film’s success hinged on a great performance from Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, and she delivered. Her portrayal of Diana is magnetic and grounded, making her easy to connect to and bringing emotional weight to the film. The most noticeable thing about “Spencer” is the stunning visuals 64 | The Communicator Magazine

by cinematographer Claire Mathon. Filled with warm colors, “Spencer” balances beautiful, wide shots with claustrophobic closeups. Each shot is like a meticulously arranged photograph. The vivid sound design brings each space to life, giving weight to each footstep and texture to every brush of clothing. It’s easy to forget that the film takes place in the not-so-distant past of the 1990s. Set almost entirely in an old royal mansion in the British Countryside, the film almost feels like a period piece until the characters visit a KFC. This timelessness seems entirely intentional—Princess Diana’s conflict between returning to the freedom of her childhood, the restrictions of her present life and her future as next in line to be the Queen, is a

theme throughout the film. At its core, “Spencer” is a film about mental illness and motherhood. Princess Diana is a loving mother for her children but she feels like she isn’t able to give them the attention that they deserve. Her struggle with eating disorders and hallucinations caused by the mounting pressure of her life gives the film its tension. Johnny Greenwood’s score perfectly elevates the drama and tension of the film, contrasting mournful orchestral strings with moody and nervous jazz. “Spencer” is a powerful film whether or not you know the real story of Princess Diana. It is a unique take on the biopic genre and doesn’t get lost in the tragedy of its story.

Available for streaming on YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Goggle Play.



A series of amazing films ranging from social commentaries to musicals. BY OLIVER LETE-STRAKA

1. Moonlight

2. Tick, Tick... Boom!

House of Gucci “House of Gucci” blends your typical family drama with heavy topics including crime and murder. BY HENRY CONNOR

On Nov. 24, “House Of Gucci” directed by Ridley Scott was released worldwide. Centered around the marriage between Maurizio Gucci (played by Adam Driver) and Patrizia Reggiani (played by Lady Gaga), this film dives into the family history and upbringing of Gucci. At over two hours and 38 minutes in length, I was engaged throughout the entirety of the movie, however I had issues with the different plot points. While some may see multiple plot points as more engaging because there is more happening and more to experience, I saw this as more of a con since it felt like the film didn’t know what it wanted to be most of the time. At some points it felt like a memoir on the Gucci brand itself, while during other scenes it was focused on the marriage between our two main characters. There were also many

subplots that didn’t need to exist, and certain characters that lacked depth and weren’t interesting. Another issue that I had with the film was the character of Patrizia Reggiani. While I think Lady Gaga did a good job at playing her role, my issue with the character came down to the writing. I never sympathized with her and therefore didn’t care for her. The writing never made me believe her story and didn’t provide any reason for me to pity or support her in any way. This made her character far less interesting. While I did have some issues with the film, I still think it’s overall worth the watch. I enjoyed my experience watching it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys family dramas or is interested in the backstory of the Gucci brand.

3. Beautiful Boy

4. Okja

House of Gucci available for viewing in theaters Constants | January 2022 | 65

Big Mouth Netflix brings “Big Mouth” for a comedic and informative animation to fill Sex Ed gap. BY SANA SCHADEN

The Netflix show “Big Mouth” follows the lives of teens as they explore their identities, culture and relationships. “Big Mouth” depicts the awkwardness of puberty in its exaggerated cartoons. In season two, the creators of “Big Mouth” partnered with Planned Parenthood for an episode on contraceptives and STI education. Because most schools lack an all-encompassing sex ed curriculum, it is even more important for teens to have access to this information. “Big Mouth” has made this education available to teens because they are motivated to watch the show for the humor, storyline and relatability. In addition to teen characters, Kroll uses cartoon monsters and animals to visually represent emotions, hormones and men-

tal health. Each teen is assigned a “hormone” monster to guide them through exploring their bodies and new emotions. As the teens face trials in their relationships, we see characters like the “Shame Wizard,” the “Depression Kitty,” and “Anxiety Mosquito.” These characters enter the teens’ life when they face situations involving emotions like anger, depression or anxiety. These exaggerated visual representations of emotions are one of “Big Mouth’s” strongest tools in helping them process difficult situations and feelings. Although Big Mouth has done a great job reaching teens, they needed to make some changes. Spreading awareness about Black culture is an important theme in the show, so it was vital to have Black representation while casting. For

the first few seasons, “Missy Foreman-Greenwald,” an intelligent but socially awkward young Black woman, was voiced by Jenny Slate, a white actress. The show faced criticism, as “Missy” explored her identity and Black culture under a white voice. During season four, the creators of “Big Mouth” finally decided to recast Missy’s role to a Black woman named Ayo Edebiri who was already a writer on the show. Changes like these are what allows “Big Mouth” to improve in representation and better educate and entertain viewers.

Big Mouth is available for streaming on Netflix.

Gilmore Girls

Your 2000s nostalgia has met its match with this classic. Female empowerment and east coast old money mix in Rory Gilmore’s coming of age story. BY CATE WEISER

“Gilmore Girls,” a classic comingof-age TV show, has only grown in popularity since its 2000-2007 run. The show focuses on mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore and their lives in the small town of Stars Hollow. Viewers watch their relationship evolve, beginning at the start of Rory’s sophomore year of high school. The series is the perfect cold-weather show, providing comfort, unique humor and an easy ability to form deep connections with the characters. Large portions of the show are shot in the fall and winter seasons, as they are Lorelai’s favorite times of year. Rory is portrayed as a serious bookworm with high-level intel66 | The Communicator Magazine

ligence, though somewhat ditzier in social settings. Viewers watch Rory grow up into a strong woman, weathering high school bullies, three boyfriends and the life that comes with constantly striving for success. The uniqueness of the show exists in Lorelai and Rory’s relationship. As a new single mom, Lorelai ran away from her parents at 16 and got a job at an inn in Stars Hollow. She raises Rory with the help of new friends and found-family. When talking to her own mother, Lorelai goes so far as to describe her relationship with Rory as “friends first, mother and daughter second.” The most enthralling theme in the show is women’s empowerment.

It sounds simple enough--but the Gilmore Girls’ empowerment comes from strong bonds with each other. While they go through many boyfriends, fiancés and even a husband, they stand as strong characters on their own. The Gilmore Girls exist in an atmosphere rooted in love and support, and viewers witness them grow together and experience their successes. It almost feels like viewers are walking beside Lorelai and Rory on the way to their next adventure.

Gilmore Girls is available for streaming on Netflix.

Books That Change Lives When Moose Gultekin was in elementary school, she used books as an outlet to cope with the death of her close friend. One specific book, “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness, helped her mourn. BY RIA LOWENSCHUSS

Salt to the Sea


The Fault in Our Stars

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie





During WWII, a collection of people with little in common band together to flee Germany.

A villainous shapeshifter wreaks havoc to prove the heroes aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

Two teens diagnosed with terminal cancer fall in love and go on an adventure.

A young girl who moonlights as an amateur sleuth works to clear her father of a murder charge.

Moose Gultekin realized that her life had been greatly influenced by a book at a funeral. In fifth grade, Gultekin experienced loss for the first time when her close friend died of cancer. She remembers attending her funeral and dealing with the loss because of a book she had read the year before. In “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness, the main character deals with his mother dying of cancer while a monster from his backyard visits him. This monster helps the main character understand that he is not at fault for his mother’s death by telling him stories. While Gultekin read “A Monster Calls,” she witnessed her friend get sicker and sicker. It was difficult for her, as a ten-year-old, to cope with the thought of death and the book helped her view it as an approachable topic. “[The book] made it easier when she passed for me to grapple with [her death] and just know [that] she’s gonna be okay and I can let go and not feel guilty about

it,” Gultekin said. Gultekin’s favorite part of “A Monster Calls” is when the monster pays his final visit to the main character. In this visit, the monster tells the main character that his mother’s death is not his fault and that he is allowed to feel tired of dealing with this loss. Because of this, Gultekin was able to let her friend go peacefully. “I was saying my final goodbye and I realized that I could just say goodbye and that was really important for me,” Gultekin said. Gultekin has taken this book with her throughout her life, giving her an outlet whenever she experiences a loss. It assists her in not dwelling on the loss but not forgetting her loved ones. “It’s the book I go back to and reread [whenever I lose someone], and it helps me not feel guilty about moving on, and also celebrate their life,” Gultekin said.

“I was saying my final goodbye and I realized that I could just say goodbye and that was really important for me.”

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“30” Adele Adele’s “30” takes the listener on an emotional journey of self-improvement and discovery throughout its 58 minute runtime. After a six-year reprieve from releasing music, there was much anticipation leading up to its release on Nov. 19. A haunting opening number, “Strangers By Nature,’’ draws the listener in with chilling harmonies. It’s followed by the lead single “Easy on Me,” one of the most relatable tracks on the record. Another notable song is “My Little Love,” which includes adorable, but heartbreaking, clips of Adele talking to herself and her son. The overarching theme of the album is coping through difficult times, expressed through slow temps and minor chords in many of the songs. However, there are a few more upbeat numbers, including “Cry Your Heart Out.” This song features devastating lyrics such as “When I wake up, I’m afraid of the idea of facin’ the day,” over an upbeat instrumental featuring heavy percussion. Another example of this is “Oh My God,” with a catchy chorus that highlights Adele’s exceptional vocal abilities. These songs provide an interesting contrast against the majority of the other tracks and further the album’s status. Many of the tracks feature longer instrumental sections and interludes, which build up anticipation to the eventual release of Adele’s powerhouse voice. This is shown in “To Be Loved,” a drawn out, emotional number that could be considered acapella if it weren’t for the simple single-chord piano accompaniment. The minimal instrumental highlights Adele’s impeccable vocal performance on this song, one of the best out of her entire discography. The album closes with “Love is a Game”, the longest song on “30”, clocking in at almost seven minutes. It ties the album up neatly with a bow through a faded out and uplifting message of hope: “I can love me, I can love again.”

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“An Evening With Silk Sonic” Silk Sonic

“KICK ii” Arca

A collaborative effort between eccentric pop-star Bruno Mars and critically acclaimed artist and instrumentalist Anderson Paak., “An Evening With Silk Sonic” might have just become the best funk, soul and r&b record to release this year. With its golden glow radiating from every vocal harmony and melody and shimmering production, the songs have undeniable personality. This 30-minute experience is packed with nine, immaculate tracks, produced to perfection from beginning to end. The project starts with a funk-riddled instrumental, as Bootsy Collins introduces Silk Sonic to the spotlight. From here, each track is impeccable in quality. Lead single “Leave The Door Open” is a luscious, smooth ballad, stacked with sensual countermelodies galore, a great opener for the experience. This is followed by the nasty bassline which starts off the track “Fly As Me”, as Paak. and Mars give off this braggadocious aura, boasting as they sing the chorus “You deserve to be seen/ with somebody as fly as me.” While there’s no track here that falls flat of what Silk Sonic aspires to achieve, the track that captures the essence of “An Evening With Silk Sonic’’ to its highest point has to be “Smokin’ Out The Window.” Everything about this track is perfect in the sense that it takes the best of the irresistible rhythms, the sultry instrumentation, and tongue-in-cheek verses that ooze with character, into a melting pot of pure gold. While this album is one of my favorite musical experiences this year, there’s still one factor holding it back from achieving “classic” status. While the album excels in its style and genre, it’s very dependent on that sound and doesn’t go out of its comfort zone at all. However, as a listener, it doesn’t ultimately hold back the record much, only presented as a minor critique. While more sonically versatile and inventive albums came out this year, this is easily one of the most enjoyable and replayable, and is worth anyone’s time to check out.

The concept of the “Kick” series, according to Arca, is “if it feels oppressive, kick against it,” which is made immensely clear in her music. In terms of what separates “KICK ii” from the rest of the “Kick” series, it leans more towards a sound of cloudy, twisted reggaeton. From singles “Prada” and “Rakata,” as well as “Luna Llena” and “Tiro,” it almost sounds like Arca’s take on the neo-perreo sound. The aforementioned songs, in terms of supporting this concept, are probably one of the strongest of the project. The album is infectious, empowering, yet emotionally vulnerable, being some of Arca’s most accessible material to date. The second half of the record, though, is a bit more diverse with its sound, as well as can be hit or miss. “Araña” and “Andro” are the longest tracks and delve into the more unpredictable side of Arca’s mystique. While sonically impressive, it can take patience and further appreciation for Arca’s otherworldly atmospheric soundscapes to fully click with it. While it’s still done well, it can chop up the pacing of the album, especially in contrast to its first half. “Born Yesterday” featuring Sia is my least favorite track from the album. While Arca does include some of her familiar sound design, it sounds more like Sia’s song than Arca’s song. Having them chopped and deconstructed, Sia’s vocals, for the most part, stay untouched, therefore becoming a much more predictable moment in the project. “KICK ii,” however, still doesn’t disappoint, even with its slower and somber cuts. “Muñecas” and “Confianza” are excellent examples of this, encapsulating that feeling of drowning in its withering and delicate sound design, whether it be complex piano chord progressions or her vocals coming in and out, almost like a lullaby crooning a voice of acceptance. This album is a great follow-up to “Kick i” and shows yet another way Arca reinvents herself. Constants | January 2022 | 69



Maia Genisio, a freshman at Community High School, brings her stories and ideas to life through art. Her art allows the viewer to have a look into her mind and imagination. “I visualize a story and bring out ideas that I have in my head,” Genisio said. “I don’t have to search for the perfect image that has to do with a specific character. I can just draw.” Genisio has been making art for three years. Since then, her art has become an outlet for expression and creativity. Covid gave Genisio the time to improve. She experimented with several different mediums of art, like acrylic paint, but found a love for digital art. Digital art allows Genisio’s work to be any that she wants it to be. “I feel like I can do many things with digital art,” Genisio said. “I can do a realistic or a cartoony style. I can shape it to my needs for a specific piece.” 70 | The Communicator Magazine

Genisio gets a lot of her inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons, different stories that she’s read, and from observation. Her art reflects a fantasy-like style which is what makes Genisio’s art so eye-catching. “I like being able to draw my own characters and see stories I’ve worked on, either by myself or with friends, come to life.” She finds that some things are better expressed through images, Genisio’s art allows her to communicate with more than just words. “In the real world, [with my art] I try to put things that are hard to communicate with words into imagery.” Genisio experiments with many different styles when making traditional art and digital art. This helps her to continue to grow and improve. “A lot of people who make art have a distinct style that they draw a lot,” Genisio said.

I cannot decide on just one.” Art has become something that Genisio can rely on in times of need. “I really enjoy art because it’s something that I feel quite good about. I feel proud of my art. It’s a hobby that I can do when I’m bored or when I need a distraction.” In 2020, Genisio and her friend Bee Whaler started a business called Lemon French Toast. Their shop sells a variety of cute stickers and prints made and designed by the two. What started as a small project, meant to share and show their artwork, has grown significantly into a successful business. “It was kind of a Covid boredom project,” Genisio said. “We design and print stickers that we sell on Etsy. We have grown a lot since then. We really didn’t expect it [our business] to kick off. We’ve had over 100 sales which is really surprising. It’s also a fun way for us to work together.”

Constants | January 2022 | 71

Humans of Community: What is your biggest accomplishment?



GRADE: Junior

GRADE: Senior

“About a year and a half ago, I started interning with an adolescent health research program. I get to be on the research team and help develop survey questions to further youth involvement in policy surrounding adolescent health, which has just been an amazing experience. I have my name on a few published works for scholarly journals of medicine, which is a huge accomplishment. It feels really good to be raising youth voices especially since we have lots of participants who don’t really have another way to make their voices heard. It’s really nice to be a part of something like that. I joined during the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement when I felt like I wasn’t able to do anything to help society and this felt like a good way for me to kind of contribute and further my interest in medicine. So it’s just been an amazing experience.”

“My greatest accomplishment is probably my progression of my art. Now that I have more free time I have been able to practice more, and I used to like not practice at all. It just feels nice to have seen the progression I’ve made in my art. [My art style] is usually realism and my main medium is watercolor, but I also do other things like ceramic sculpture and jewelry. I’ve also been able to draw humans more because I used to only draw animals because that’s always all I was good at. So I’ve been practicing drawing people, and it’s a lot better than it used to be. [I see the progression in] all of the pieces I’ve made and also in my sketches in my sketchbook. I don’t really create art unless I [am taking] an art class and I [am enrolled in] two right now. [Taking art classes means] I can explore a whole bunch of different mediums and I don’t have to stay on just one.”

72 | The Communicator Magazine



GRADE: Sophomore

GRADE: Sophomore

“My biggest accomplishment is a broad thing, but I’ve just been doing really well in school this year. I haven’t been stressing about assignments as much. In the past, like in middle school, I was really stressed about grades that didn’t even matter. At my middle school everyone was competitive about grades, it was stressful to try to keep up with my friends. I focused on [grades] way too much and it just wasn’t making me happy. And now it’s not the end of the world if I get like a C. GPA isn’t everything, it’s not a complete reflection of me. I’m getting more stuff in on time and I’m understanding more material. It gives me more time to just be happy and to just focus on myself. I don’t have to spend hours at home doing homework. I don’t blow off other classes just to do homework like I would have done in middle school. It just makes me feel good to know that I don’t have to stress about something or [my grades] won’t ruin my life.”

“I would say my greatest athletic accomplishment would be making varsity as a freshman for Skyline Field Hockey. I was one of three to make Varsity as a freshman. It’s pretty rare for freshmen to get onto varsity, especially for field hockey at Skyline. There’s two teams: JV and varsity. And then our coach does bubble players. So there’s players that they’re not officially rostered on varsity, but they can play half a varsity game and half the JV game. And so a lot of girls land on the team bubble. Not even being put on the bubble and making the varsity roster was something that just felt so accomplishing. Two of my best friends, who were also freshmen, made it too. I was pretty sure they were going to make it, but I wasn’t sure if I was. I think that feeling of like, I did do it and being one of so few to make the team made [it] my greatest athletic accomplishment.”

Constants | January 2022 | 73



An Ashkenazi Jewish delicacy, latkes are potato pancakes fried in oil. Every year, Jewish people in America celebrate Hanukkah by making the classic dish. While there are different takes on latkes—flaky, crispy pancakes to thicker, flour or matzo-based ones— the point of latkes is not the potatoes, but the oil. The oil represents the miracle that one night’s worth of oil lasted for eight nights, thousands of years ago. Coming from a family of immigrants and being one myself, cooking cultural foods is important to us and our identity. My parents grew up in the Soviet Union and repressed their Jewish heritage out of fear. When we moved to the United States, my parents wanted to make sure my sister and I could be proud of our culture and invited us to cook comforting and delicious foods.



3 pounds of russet potatoes (about 4-6, peeled 1 pound of onions (about 3 medium), peeled Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs, panko or matzo meal (or 2 tablespoons potato starch) 1-2 large eggs Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed

1) Using the largest holes of a cheese grater, grate the potatoes and onions into a large bowl. Season with kosher salt, toss and let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. 2) Taking handfuls of the potato-onion mixture, put into a colander lined with a cheesecloth. Squeeze the liquid out and set the wrung-out mixture aside. Continue this process until you’ve squeezed out as much liquid from the whole mixture as you possibly can. 3) Add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs or matzo meal and toss the mixture to combine. Add 1 egg, season with salt and pepper and toss again until well combined. 4) Line a rimmed baking sheet or a plate with paper towels. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add a thin layer of oil and schmaltz if wanted, and let it melt. 5) Once your skillet is hot enough, start to fry your latkes. Spoon a bit of the mixture into the pan. Fry until deeply golden on the first side, about two minutes, then using a spatula, flip and fry until deeply golden on the second side. Transfer them to the paper towel-lined wire rack or plate as they finish. 6) Then, garnish your latkes however you’d like! More savory latkes call for sour cream, salmon roe, chives and cracked black pepper. For a more sweet pancake, you can top with sour cream and applesauce.

For Topping: Sour cream, apple sauce, chives, and salmon or trout roe

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Constants | January 2022 | 75

Games - He Loves Me He Loves Me Not & CHS Crossword For each of the flowers below, the answer to the first half of its clue can be written clockwise around all of its petals, starting at 12 o’clock. Then, two or three of the letters can be removed (like petals in a game of He Loves Me He Loves Me Not) to make another word, as clued by the second half of each clue. The letters of the removed petals will then, in order, spell out the name of a flower. Clues Ex. [long] / [short] (# of petals removed) AAA, for one/ crazy (2)

1. Worst enemy / 2016 Amy Adams movie (2) Ex.


2. Inner workings / Rage Against The ___ (2) 1


3. Unrelenting / why so monarchs many have deformities (3) 3

4. Medical device / provide food for (3)


5. Speaking indistinctly / jewelry slongly



b a y r Ex. t e t







1 With “The,” 1975 Best Musical Tony Winner 4 Comedian Ansari of Parks and Recreation 8 Shrewd 13 Mature 14 Racket 15 Hinder 16 Place to eat 18 Nessie’s home, and others 19 Dens 20 More smooth 22 Tolkien’s talking trees 23 Word of protest 24 Peninsula SW of France 28 Cheer of encouragement 29 N.W.A. genre 30 Includes, as on an email 31 Gold, in Grenada 32 Monster’s ____ 33 Bring to court 34 Leader after Tyler 35 Monumental problem in St. Louis? 38 ___ Blast, Taco Bell Beverage 40 Corn unit 41 Beam of sun 42 Journalist B. Wells 43 Sneaky 44 ___ Leppard 45 NCIS airer, abbr. 48 Island north of Java 50 Shawn’s partner on 76 | The Communicator Magazine

Psych 51 Sheltered, in a way 52 Sign up 54 Word with mail or gang 55 Goldman ___ 58 Weiner Dog 60 ___ Agnew, former 21-Down 61 Black and white cookies 62 “___, a deer...” 63 Divinator 64 NY baseball team 65 WSW’s opposite DOWN

1 Phoebe ___ Bridge, Actress of “Fleabag” fame 2 Green lizard, or what the Iggy in Iggy Pop is short for 3 High point 4 Song from Yoko Ono’s “Plastic Ono Band” 5 Puts on, as a jacket 6 Gets hit, in dodgeball 7 Letter after epsilon 8 Stars 9 “That’s ___” (Dean Martin song 10 “SNL” network 11 “Nope” 12 Many mos. 14 High school org. whose criteria are scholarship leadership, service, and character

























49 52 56





























53 58

54 59







17 Classes at CHS that might need approval 21 Backup commander in chief, for short 23 With “The”, ABC dating show 25 Chloe who teaches Gender Studies 26 Offline, online (abbr.) 27 All good, briefly 29 GOP VIPs 30 Tournament 32 Lyricist Gershwin

33 Towards Morocco, en Espana 34 Ask personal questions 35 Open a bit 36 Word in many a crossword clue 37 Fool 38 Baby’s eating need 39 Hullabaloo 43 Detector 44 Sweet 45 Painter Monet 46 Take part in

47 Recipient 49 Gandhi contemporary 50 Fierce look 51 Spa sound 53 Leslie ___ Jr., of Hamilton 54 HTML partner 55 Ret. payer 56 “Simpsons” corner store owner 57 Smoke, for short 59 Parts of Santa’s laugh

Our Turn What is the future of CHS’s culture? BY OLIVER LETE-STRAKA

JADYN TAYLOR “The culture at CHS is going to change because MultiCulti is starting to lose its meaning. In my opinion, it’s just one race that speaks out and stands out more and we’re not getting mixed cultures. We would have food from different cultures, but now it’s starting to become more like we’re having food from American culture. And that’s disturbing. Now the culture of community is starting to diminish more.”

RITA IONIDES “With all of us coming back from online school, some traditions that we used to have have changed, or they’ve died out entirely. I only got my first semester freshman year. There were all these wonderful things that were handed down from the seniors to the freshmen that we just don’t have any more. There are some really nice things in the culture of Community that I see changing. We’re changing MultiCulti which I’d heard not so nice things about in the past. I’m glad that we’re putting more consideration into it now and being respectful.”

NOAH BERNSTEIN “CHS’s culture is based, more than other schools, on the people and the location of the school. That’s evident in the name of the school itself. The pandemic is a turning point that can have both good and bad consequences. With CHS traditions, when the leadership who would support these traditions leave, the traditions themselves are going to change just because the people who are running it are different so they have a different philosophy and therefore it will impact the culture of CHS differently.”

Constants | January 2022 | 77

78 | The Communicator Magazine

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