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CRA ZE issue 3 / vol 7 / february 2016 the unspoken issue




32-35 teachers

table of contents

04-05 contributors

36-37 incognito


intro page


78 pills


a timeless tragedy


planned parenthood


a stranger in her own homeland 48-51


battle of the bands

etsy shop


coffee houses

20-21 godspeed


bemis art center

22-23 post-post-modern


ITS girls


narfoof: for the strange


rise to f(l)ame


craze secrets pt.2


off the wall


letter from the editors... W

elcome, readers of Craze. In this issue, we’re just going to give it to you straight— we’re going to expose secrets. While we were brainstorming for this issue, we were constantly being drawn back to this idea of the unknown. The local news burns the same segments about the “dangers of the internet” and how anyone we talk to online is some persona of someone else, and we’ll never know who they really are. But we do know what they—we’re all humans. We aren’t your certified psychologists, but our staff decided to dive into what makes humans who they are when no one is watching. We took a risk in this issue— we’re speaking the unspoken. Sex. Drugs. Secrets. Anything was fair game, and we took advantage of it.

-jenna and kirsten



CONTRIBUTORS to this issue...


EDITORS-IN-CHIEF: kirsten mccormack and jenna hynek DESIGN EDITOR: abby hack PHOTO EDITOR: abegale headlee MANAGING EDITORS: grace wolfe lauren chesire audrey mccann COPY EDITOR: bridget mizener STAFF: aaron casey kati stanzel maddie look elise tucker megan murray stephanie dong harper newell nikki saner lilli marvin grant gaden ivan reyes anne stepanek erin kruger emma molden


emma kopplin monica jansky kyndall goodwin collin koory elisabeth facer


UNSPOKEN uhn-spoh-kuhn

adj. 1. the things we’re sometimes too scared or shy to say that are left unexpressed 2. when you open up the dirty window and let sun illuminate the words that you cannot find

playlist listen here

magnets // disclosure ft. lorde

unwritten // natasha bedingfield

formation // beyoncé

mysteries // the yeah yeah yeahs

alright // kendrick lamar

elephant // tame impala

promiscuous // nelly furtado

don’t speak // no doubt



feature : m’s pub

a timeless tragedy

pain reaches all involved in explosion effects more than building downtown explosion story, design, and photos by Lilli Marvin story, design, and photos by lilli marvin

photo courtesy of Chris Machian of the Omaha World Herald



very town has a timeless neighborhood nearby furniture store Niche’s basement was left where generations of families, friends, and with water up to the ceiling. couples have been making memories for The damage of the tragic explosion is much decades. For Omaha, that place is the Old Market. deeper than simply losing a historic monument Attracting people from all over the city, the Old of Omaha. Employees like Brewer are left Market offers a variety of unique local businesses stranded without employment or any financial and brands that have become iconic throughout support system. Brewer, present at the time of the the city. One corner pub—although small in explosion, stresses the fact that it’s the little things size¬—has left it’s mark on generations of diners. that no one considers that add up into the burden M’s Pub has been a staple in the lives of many ever left on employees. Items lost in the fire such as since it’s foundation in 1973. Forty years worth winter coats, makeup, and purses, quickly add to of customers were left absolutely devastated on the stress. Even small gestures such as Brewer’s January 9, when an explosion destroyed a decade’s dad buying her groceries could be the difference worth of memories in a matter of hours. between making that month’s rent or not. The Prior to the explosion, several customers explosion left dozens of employees looking for a and employees alerted 911 to a smell of natural source of income, and every penny helps. gas in the area. Soon after, an Even with the turmoil that explosion rocked the block, the explosion left in it’s wake, “in the next few blowing out the windows of the employees of M’s Pub weeks as this fades neighboring stores. The fire have still shown tremendous raged on for nearly 10 hours, character by not wanting to from the public’s completely incapacitating the steal work from others in the mind...don’t forget area, flooding businesses, and restaurant business. shutting down entire blocks. No “It’s a slower time of the year about us” one was critically injured, but and we don’t want to take —employee Emily Brewer the same can’t be said about the jobs away from other people building. The historic building in the industry,” said Brewer. has been left on the verge of She stressed the best way to collapse. Although dangerous, the damage may help out the former employees is, “In the next have been even more critical if not for the quick few weeks as this fades from the publics mind… thinking of some employees of the pub. Employee [don’t] forget about us.” Emily Brewer stated that if it weren’t for the quick The former staff of M’s Pub have hosted various decisions of some of the chefs in the kitchen to events throughout Omaha, including gigs at the shut down certain gas lines, the damage may have Slowdown and other restaurants, in order to been worse, and possibly fatal. help generate income for struggling employees. The damage is not exclusive to M’s; many Another way to show support is participating in businesses surrounding the pub have also suffered their online auction. However, the most beneficial from this tragic event. Nouvelle Eve, a woman’s way to help the legacy of M’s pub is simply to clothing store neighboring M’s, has been left in remember. While employees aren’t allowed to a state of disarray due to the fire that followed comment on the future of M’s, we can carry on the explosion. Multiple condos above the stores memories that Omaha has grown to know and have been completely destroyed—nothing left but love by sharing experiences, reaching out to the skeleton of a building. Due to the excessive employees, and not forgetting the staff and pub amounts of water used to battle the inferno, who made its mark on our community.


feature : jensy franco


STRANGER IN HER OWN HOMELAND student travels to home country to learn more about her heritage


story and design by erin kruger, photo by monica jansky, and photos courtesy of jensy franco

veryone has a family history. Growing up, we listen to stories about our parents’ embarrassing second date and Grandpa’s fraternity days. No matter how many times we hear them, they’re intriguing because they’re the stories of our personal history. But these stories have morals just like any childhood book would. Now I know that if I ever get suspended from school, I should

use my time wisely and tan on the roof of my house. (Thanks, Grandma.) However, many of these secrets are kept for the next generation. But it’s important that we know about them—and sometimes we have to find out for ourselves. Senior Jensy Franco did exactly that this past winter break when she met some of her family for the first time while attending her aunt’s wedding in El Salvador.


feature : jensy franco


“I went there when I was 4, so I don’t have that much memory of my first trip,” Franco said. “When I went there, I met all of my cousins and my aunts. I don’t have that here. I just have my siblings and I, in Nebraska.” El Salvador has everything: crowded streets, rustic rural villages, and lush rainforests. The diversity of the country gave Franco the opportunity to make memories that would last a lifetime. She visited towns and buildings that were intertwined with her heritage and Salvadorian culture. On the day before the wedding — Christmas Eve—Franco and her family traveled to a town called Pico, a habitual destination for her parents in the past. Alleyways with street vendors in Pico reminded her of South Omaha. A Christmas carnival with elaborate performers and decorations lit up as she passed by. Her mother had fond memories of the old town, where she spent a lot of time with her family. But for Franco, it was completely foreign experience. Franco also visited Iglesia El Carmen, the church where her parents were married. The beautifully constructed pearland-brown church was finished in the 1800s, with two towering steeples and a square design. If it weren’t for this church, Franco’s own story may not have even begun. Sadly, the church was damaged by earthquakes in early 2001 and is currently being rebuilt.

Then, on Christmas Day, Franco danced the night away on the beach with people who were practically strangers. Palm trees towered overhead and music floated through the air as she reflected on the events of the day. She had been a bridesmaid at her aunt’s wedding, endured horrible traffic, and met her mother’s side of family for the first time. Franco, silently watching the scene with a smile on her face, had nothing to say. But her family in El Salvador had still made her feel welcome and loved.

“This is where my family is from. This is where my aunts and my cousins are from. Basically, this is where I’m from.”

—senior Jensy Franco

“[My family] said they were happy to see me, and that I changed a lot from the last time they saw me,” Franco said. “They told me that they knew a lot about me through my mom and grandma. Some of them, I am friends with on Facebook so they saw me through there.“ The wedding ceremony was at the Farallones Beach Resort in El Puerto de La Libertad, a popular vacation destination. Franco’s favorite places in El Salvador included the seashellcovered beaches bordering ocean. But the best spots in the


country were where her family was. “[The bride and groom] had a rope tied to each other,” Franco said. “That is them binding themselves together. My mom put the rope around my aunt, and her husband’s brother put it around him. It’s symbolism. It’s about their lives being bound together.” In many Catholic weddings, the bride and groom use a rope or a loop called a wedding cord to symbolize the binding commitment between husband and wife, and the tradition is very common in Spanishspeaking nations as well. At the wedding, Franco was exposed to Catholic and Hispanic traditions she had never experienced before. By meeting her family on her trip, Franco learned about her family’s values, traditions, and history. Most importantly, her family cherished their Catholic faith. Since her visit to El Salvador, Franco has put her own life into perspective. She’s very thankful for her family and the United States, as she witnessed a lower standard of living and higher incidence of gang violence in El Salvador. However, this trip helped her cultivate a deep appreciation for her relatives and her home country. “I was around my culture, and I didn’t feel out of place,” Franco said. “This is where my family is from. This is where my aunts and my cousins are from. Basically, this is where I’m from.”

snapshots : battle of the bands

BATTLE OF THE BANDS the best of westside duel it out for the crown

story by kirsten mccormack, design by lilli marvin, photos by lilli marvin and lauren chesire


lightly opening the curtain, I peeked my eye through to the audience. The auditorium was filled with people sitting shoulder to shoulder, their chatter blending into a big lump of noise. My heart pounded faster. I’d been dreaming about this moment for months, and it was finally my time to shine. The curtains opened and I faced the crowd. Standing in front of the microphone, I could feel the sweat staining my dress. Everyone in the auditorium was staring at me, their eyes like magnifying glasses amplifying my every flaw. I couldn’t meet their gaze. Instead, I shifted my eyes to the ground, letting the sparkles on my dress blind me. Behind me, my drummer began to play, and then my guitarists started in. As my cue crept closer, I was hit with a sudden wave of nausea. I took a deep breath. Praying that nothing would end badly, I opened my mouth. I let my voice fill the auditorium. Every lyric felt brand new as I sang them better than I ever had before. My hands gripped the mic stand, no longer trembling. It was brilliant. It was the best I’d ever felt: the most confident, the most talented. As the last notes died out, I looked into the crowd and beamed. My throat ached, but I didn’t feel the pain. As the show went on, each performance proved they also had what it took to be up there. In this photo essay, we hope to capture the feelings of each artist about to do what they do best: creating music.


senior Michael Merical checks his lines one last time before hitting the stage


snapshots : battle of the bands

senior Amory Carnazzo playing his bass guitar


Fat Timmy’s band member tunes his guitar despite minor injury


snapshots : battle of the bands

junior Libby Seline adjusts sound

Jamie Lee Curtis pre-performance (ft. Nick Decker)


junior Alexander Bayles practicing

SAB members setting up for the show

senior Amory Carnazzo is laced up by his bandmate


music : godspeed you! black emperor

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR post-rock bands tackles timeless issues story and design by lilli marvin, graphic courtesy of gy!be


he United States—the world even—is on the brink of a revolution. In the United States, social turmoil has erupted over issues concerning basic human rights. Streets are set ablaze with the unrest of entire generations. Across Europe, migrants are being shuffled around like pack animals—a meager afterthought not worth the attention of structured governments. Discontent transcends borders across the world. Civil unrest headlines the news nightly. Tensions are at an all-time high, and some dissatisfied citizens take to the streets in protest while others petition for change. The few, the bold, create music. Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GY!BE) are a group of punk-rockers who

“we sit down and make a joyous noise” - gy!be

have set out to take on this daunting task of creating revolutionary music. When most people consider a “punk” character, they don’t picture a group of middle-aged men from Canada. GY!BE defies all the expectations of the music industry. From their origins in the ‘90s, GY!BE’s music has always been made for a purpose, never produced for profits or fame. Labeling themselves “post-rock,” GY!BE consists of nine members dedicated to commenting on the injustices in our society. While many of today’s artists exploit the industry simply for profit, GY!BE represents a minority of individuals dedicated to producing worthwhile music. Attention on the global stage presents a rare chance to be heard, and GY!BE have seized this opportunity, releasing albums that comment on an array of issues spanning recent decades. Often too long-winded to fit in


one LP, Godspeed’s music transcends all expectations of modern-day bands. Similar to the likes of Pink Floyd, GY!BE’s albums should be listened to as entire works, not individual songs. Often, the albums exhibit gradual crescendos and decrescendos of emotion, building upon one another, weaving together to create an intricate web of angst and melancholy. Experts of their craft, GY!BE is able to draw tears from the audience without uttering a single word. Despite the fact that the majority of their work lacks vocals—or any verbal interaction with the audience at all—their message is sung loud and clear. Historically, anti-establishment bands have been ceaselessly mocked and never taken seriously—even if they manage to even make it out of their parents’ basement. Being disestablishmentarian in the music industry can come across as extremely hypocritical. In order to make a name for yourself, it’s common to get help from corporate record labels. This brands yourself before your message is even heard. GY!BE has been able to marshal a dedicated fan base to communicate their message on a global scale. Staying strict to their anti-establishment views, the band was once detained by the FBI on suspicion of terrorism. An anomaly like GY!BE has drawn their fair share of critics and journalists seeking a look into the cryptic mind of the band. Few have succeeded. Turning down opportunities for major interviews and opportunities to gain public recognition, GY!BE holds true to their elusive, punk reputation, keeping their audience focused on the music. Not themselves. Not the awards. The music. In 2013, the band refused to attend the Polaris Music Awards gala to receive their award for Best Album of the Year by a Canadian Artist. They believe forcing artists to compete against one another just for a title and a check “doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.” A recent interview with The Guardian reflects their inability to accept societal standards: “We’re all witnesses to the demeaning outcomes of debauched governance–random traffic stops, collapsing infrastructure, corrupt bureaucrats and milk-fed police with their petty intrusions,” they explained to Guardian reporter Maddy Costa. Besides music, GY!BE conveys their powerful messages through film in their live performances. B-roll accompanies the band in the background, immersing viewers in a powerful experience of raw emotions. When it comes to GY!BE, it isn’t enough to simply play a set list. It’s not a concert; it’s an experience. In a decade of nonsensical, monotonous music production, once in a while we’re graced with a group of people with a purpose—a sense of meaning—in an industry lacking substance. GY!BE offers a refreshing criticism of the easily accepted standards of society. Many of us recognize these issues, but do little to fix it. When a band as bold as Godspeed You! Black Emperor comes along, we must give them a listen.


opinion : existentialism


POST-POST-MODERNISM a new era with no motives or meaning story and design by kati stanzel, illustration by paige modlin


love science fiction novels. I love them to the point where I’ll read them over and over again until the pages are so fragile they’ll start falling out of the book. I love reading about the future—I admire the theories and predictions authors have of what our world is going to be like when we’ve grown out of it. Our world, though, is slowly becoming a science fiction novel while we’re still in it. Our era is an exact replica of a post-modernism piece of literature. Some philosophers, like Jean-Paul Sartre, have said our society is moving into a “post-postmodernism” age—a time where rebellions are rampant, humans are dependent on technology, and actions don’t need to be justified. “Life has no meaning,” Sartre said his 1946 novel, Existentialism and Humanism. “It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.” This idea of a “post-postmodernism” society is exactly what it sounds like: complete chaos. In today’s society, completely sane people do crazy things. Motives are no longer essential; people do things simply to do them. Like the attacks on Paris—normal people simply sitting down to have dinner, and within an instant, their lives were over. This goes to show that no one is safe in today’s world, especially when it comes to technology. Our lives have been immortalized thanks to the wonders of the Internet. As guidance counselors have preached since fifth grade, nothing’s ever really deleted from the Web.

People post harmful and triggering things, teenagers and adults pick fights on the Internet for reasons we can’t explain—not even psychologists know what causes this anonymous aggression. Trying to make sense of our world is difficult, but there are many theories that scientists and literary artists have come up with to help explain why society is the way it is. This idea that we have entered a “post-post-modernism” era is only one piece of the puzzle, and two others remain. The second is existentialism: the idea that we, as humans, try to put meaning to everything, when really

“This idea of a ‘post-postmodernism’ society is exactly what it sounds like: complete chaos.” there’s no meaning to life at all. The phrase “it is what it is” is the motto existentialists live by. This idea—that there is no reason to why humans act the way they do—can directly tie into the chaos of post-post-modernism. Existentialism may be a sad way to think about life, but then again, biologists and philosophers still haven’t reached an agreement on the origins of life on this planet. This theory blows my mind, but thinking this way can be depressing.


If there’s no point to our existence, then there’s no reason why the world should conform to this sad, violent way of life. Existentialism has spread around the world, with the number of school shootings increasing and random street violence—some without a motive to do it. The third piece to figuring out why our world is so cruel is solipsism: the theory that the only certain thing in this world is self, and everything else could be our minds’ creation. Society as we know it only exists because you are a part of it. For example, my parents are currently at work in their own reality, but I can’t know for sure that they still exist, because in my reality I’m not perceiving them at this instant. Solipsism can make the world a very lonely place—the thought of everything out of sight ceasing to exist is a scary thought. This theory can lend some insight as to why so many people today are selfish and only think for themselves, because they think they’re the only people that exist. If we start branching out and spreading peace to others, instead of only surrounding us, the world could be a much better place. This triangle of theories can help us figure out why our world is evolving into a science fiction novel, and that makes us realize that change needs to come soon. Society has dug itself a hole that it needs to climb out of if it ever wants to evolve into a superior community. It’s time for the era of post-post-modernism, existentialism, and solipsism to end, and for a new one to begin.

fashion : narfoof



owner memorializes lost friend through vintage store story by grace wolfe, design by kirsten mccormack, photos by kirsten mccormack and kyndall goodwin


5069 leavenworth st

e live in a world afraid of the strange. story behind it. Suffi dedicates most of her time Anything that dares to break the to scavenging through other shops and friend’s mold is ridiculed. It’s a constant for all closets, choosing items to sell. aspects of our lives—yes, even clothing stores. “I want to be that resale shop that people Many a time I’ve been spurned by vintage don’t have to go digging through to find cool stores and second hand shops, the clothes stuff—I got the cool stuff,” Suffi said. either too expensive or not the right quality. Because Suffi takes such care in picking But before I throw my throw my fist in the each piece, shopping at Narfoof is like air and curse the gods, I rummaging through the “I want to be that remember that Omaha holds closet of the cool girl you’re multiple hidden gems, like resale shop people too intimidated to talk Narfoof: for the Strange. As to. That’s not to say there don’t have to go a seasoned shopper, I can tell aren’t different options to fit if a store has soul or not right everyone’s tastes; Suffi takes digging through to when I walk in. This is the pride in the mélange of find cool stuff—I got case for Narfoof—owner and styles and sizes. Suffi’s goal founder Emily Suffi opened is to get everyone looking the cool stuff.” ­ the store in memory of her —Owner Emily Suffi through all the racks, not best friend, who passed away just one section. when they were 16. Another thing that’s pretty darn awesome is “I’ve wanted to create this store because the pricing—you can buy all the embroidered [shopping for clothes] is something we loved denim vests your heart desires without doing,” Suffi said. breaking the bank. Suffi knows her costumers And from there it was born. Having no prior are primarily young adults with little room in experience in retail, Suffi found the space and their budget for overpriced clothes, and each made it her own. piece is marked so reasonably you might just Located in the spleen of Omaha, Narfoof break down in tears of relief. holds a surplus of hand selected clothes and Narfoof reminds us that we’re all a little knickknacks. Everything in the store has a strange, so why not wear the clothing to match?


fashion : narfoof

MIA VINCI sophomore




fashion : narfoof



interactive : craze secrets

CRAZE SECRETS II we won’t tell if you don’t... story by lauren chesire, design by ivan reyes


f Truth or Dare were an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medalist. Countless middle school sleepovers hardened me with cinnamon challenges and prank calls. Other players had no problem breezing through games by divulging a series of uncomfortable truths, but when someone sneered the titular question at me, my heart skipped a beat and I quickly breathed “Dare.” I’d rather subject myself to eating a spoonful of wasabi or trying to summon Bloody Mary than ‘fess up about a few unpleasant things from my past. We keep secrets for a reason. Whether it’s an embarrassing fact or the kind of memory that keeps us awake at night, we don’t want to admit to ourselves that it’s true, let alone other people. But keeping those secrets bottled up only makes things worse for us in the end. We need to get these things off our chests. That’s why Craze let you share anonymously for the second time. So go ahead: spill your guts.



feature : the untold lives of teachers


the teacher in its natural habitat story by anne stepanek and ivan reyes, design by grace wolfe, illustrations by kirsten mccormack


espite it’s destitute appearance, the high school habitat has been thriving with life since the biome first started appearing on Earth. Essential resources such as fresh water and some nonpoisonous nutrients still exist in this harsh environment, which supports the fragile ecosystem. Few living beings can endure this climate, but perhaps the most misunderstood creature in this environment is the teacher. Though are the second most

dominant subgroup populating the habitat, they remain elusive and mysterious to outsiders. Students, the most populous group in the region, avoid all unnecssary contact with the other species. How can we understand what goes through the minds of these curious creatures? In order to solve this mystery, Craze spent numerous hours observing and documenting the behaviors of “the teacher.� What we found may surprise you.



social studies instructor


ocial Studies instructor Nathan Bramley knows there are always going to be people who judge you. When hearing hushed voices while walking down the hallway, you can only hope it’s something positive. But we all know it’s not always good things. Those whispered things are unfair, whether they’re good or bad. An assumption isn’t someone’s whole story. It’s our nature to think that everyone has the same roots as us but that’s never the case. Even with the teachers we see everyday—we don’t know anything about them apart from the 35 minutes of class we spend with them. We know that teachers don’t sleep on their desks, but we don’t realize they have lives outside of school. But teachers are people. They’re sons, daughters, and parents in turn. Bramley’s students won’t assume he is a father of two: 7-year-old Elijah and 1-year-old Lou. Along with caring for their children, his wife works weekends. With such a busy household, much of his time outside of work is spent with his family. “A lot of my hobbies are done with my kids,”

Bramley said. “We’ll go to the park or go to the movies—my 7-year-old loves to go the movies.” But even the most perceptive students couldn’t assume that Elijah has autism. Autism is a mental condition that affects the way an individual communicates and forms relationships with other people. Elijah is currently in the second grade and also attends occupational and speech therapy once a week. “He works really hard,” Bramley said. “We’re really proud of him.” By humanizing himself with his students—like talking about his family and life outside of school— Bramley sees teacher-student relationships improve. This helps students see teachers as more than just an authority figure. They begin to see teachers for what they are: human. “[When students find out] ‘he has a kid, he has a wife, he’s worried about making dinner at night,’ they realize that I’m not out to get them, I’m here trying to do my best.”


feature : the untold lives of teachers

BENJAMIN POWERS physics instructor


ockey is a passion of Physics instructor, Benjamin Powers. He started playing as a kid growing up. His career started by playing pond hockey with his cousins and siblings. Although he never played on a club or recreational team as a child, now he’s able to play hockey for the Metro Classic Hockey League in Omaha. Powers ranks hockey as one of his favorite sports, because of the skill the sport demands. To play hockey you need a lot of agility and coordination. The sport requires a quick reaction time and ability to skate while following a puck. “It’s just fun to watch people who are really good at hockey and I try to imitate that when I play,” Powers said.

Powers experiences on the Rec league have taught him not to judge a player by their actions. “[The] People you think are jerks on the ice, either they checked you into the boards or they tripped you, […] you just think that they’re terrible people,” Powers said. “The next year you’ll be on their team and so you find out they’re actually really nice people.” Powers has played in many entertaining games; once in one game he completed a Gordie Howe hat trick, where a player will score a goal, record an assist, and get into a fight. He says it’s the most memorable game he’s ever played in. Powers’ love of hockey will continue as he keeps on playing. He’s been playing for almost his whole life and he doesn’t plan on quitting hockey anytime soon.


CHAD SCHMECKPEPPER chemistry instructor


ne of the things Chemistry instructor Chad Schmeckpeper looks for in music is a story—valuing what a song can say. The story told in the music is one of the main reasons he loves music as much as he does. Schmeck’s passion for music is clear by his basket of records he rotates playing during classes. Some of his favorite artists are Bob Dylan, The Devil Makes Three, The Avett Brothers, and of course, Pearl Jam. “The story telling is the biggest thing for me but its got to sound good too. Most Pearl Jam songs if you actually listen to them tell stories,” Schmeck said. “What I listen to on the radio—it’s just not the same. There’s not any story telling involved.” His love for Pearl Jam started the first time he heard them. Schmeck still remembers the first time he heard their music; it was when their first single,

“Alive,” came out. “I was sitting in my friend’s grandparents’ house and I watched it on a tiny little seven inch screen. That was all it took,” Schmeck said. Schmeck has seen Pearl Jam approximately thirteen or fourteen times in concert. He followed Pearl Jam on their summer tour in 2003 and was on the road for two weeks attending to all of their concerts. “The first [concert I went to] sticks out the most. I didn’t see them singing because I had my eyes closed the whole time and I was just singing along with it,” Schmeck said. “I was in the nosebleeds and it was in Kansas City. That’s probably the most memorable concert experience I’ve ever had.” Some people don’t understand why Schmeck goes to see the band so many times, but to him it’s better than just listening to it on the radio. For him there is no substitute to hearing the band live.


opinion : putting up a front



we are all hiding our emotions behind a happy face

story by madeline look, design by kirsten mccormack, illustration by guest artist frank huerter


had class last mod on Thursdays. Rumors about the activity we were doing had been floating around the hallways all day. I stepped into the marketing room for the millionth time, but this mod felt different. All day, people were leaving that room with tear-stained faces— crying about the uncovered demons that have been haunting them throughout their lives. Our class had been together middle since school, which is basically to say we’ve been through hell and back. After all that, you’d think we would know each other by now. The rest of the class filed in—a jock sat across from me, a cheerleader to my left, a mathlete to my right—slowly forming a circle in the middle of the room. At the bell, Mrs. Schau started us off. She asked us one question: what in your life makes you who you are? She asked us to do the most unthinkable act in high school: talk about our feelings. As the class slowly opened up, the emotions poured out. They shared things with the circle they’ve never told anyone. The happiest girl in the room was fighting depression. The athletic boy was under the pressure of his parents to play every game with perfection. Everyone seemed to have their lives

wrapped up in a perfect bow, but once we opened up to each other, we learned a lesson I won’t soon forget: everyone has a mask they hide behind. My mask is my happy face. I hide my sad and angry feelings, especially concerning my parents’ divorce. I didn’t have friends who were going through the same thing as I was. Sure, they could listen, but listening only goes so far. I hate that I have to pack up

“Everyone seemed to have their lives wrapped up in a perfect bow, but once we opened up to each other, we learned a lesson I won’t soon forget: everyone has a mask they hide behind.” my things once a week or make the long drive when I forget my favorite sweater my dad’s house. However, I’ve never taken off my happy face. For a while, I just made myself accept the fact that there wasn’t anyone I could relate to—I couldn’t find anyone with the same wound. I found more than five people in that class alone who were fighting the same battle as me, and I wasn’t so alone. When I ask someone


how he or she is doing, it’s merely a greeting. Its not because I don’t care, because I do; I just never expect an answer other than “good.” Every day we walk the hallways, passing the same faces, without any idea of what they’re going through. You’ll never know their deepest, darkest secrets or what they’re struggling with. Everyone is hiding something. People hide their struggles and hardships. In those 40 minutes we spent together that day, we related to each other. We all know a person who seems to have everything figured out— confidence, purpose, and poise. They’re the person who walks into any room and can brighten it without trying. They’re the person whose frown you notice first because you’ve never seen them with anything but a smile. They’re the person you try to be like— making goals to achieve the same amount of selfassurance. But the reality is, you’re seeing their mask. People typically put up a front when they’re in public— hiding their true feelings— and we’re all guilty of this. Instead of hiding behind a happy mask, take it off and build a happy you. Once you can live without your mask, help others take theirs off too.

feature : emma boyd



student copes with depression through support of mother story and design by jenna hynek, photos by harper newell The story you’re about to read holds graphic content that may be disturbing or triggering to some readers.


mma Boyd stood at the bathroom mirror, her eyes moving back and forth from her own reflection to the pills that flooded the counter. 50… 51… 52… The 5’2” blonde eighth grader gripped the edge of the bathroom sink. A single lock of her wavy hair fell in front of her tear-stained cheek. She couldn’t go to her family now; she was the outsider. 65… 66… 67…


Through her glazed-over eyes she peered at her phone screen and the new Tweet draft in her hand. “Finally gonna be done.” Your Tweet has been sent. “Not having to deal with any of this anymore.” Your Tweet has been sent. 76… 77… 78… “78.” Pill emoji. Your Tweet has been sent. It was only supposed to take 78 pills to die.

feature : emma boyd

Emma Boyd lived her entire life with the same four people. Her mother, Shelley, has partially devoted her life to her church and the rest to her job as a counselor for Millard Public Schools. Throughout the day, Shelley works with a handful of students, shifting through problems that range from picking up and dropping classes to more serious mental health situations. Shelley has given her best advice to kids she’ll only know for a few years for one reason: she cares. But Emma didn’t feel the same way. After the first semester of her eighth grade year, the dynamic of her relationship with her parents had changed. It wasn’t cool to be close to your parents. No, there’s no way she was going to lose her only friends by telling her mom. She couldn’t even tell her about that note she still had in the back of her dresser from that one kid in elementary school who told her she was fat and ugly. She also couldn’t tell her mother about how she had lost 25 pounds since the sixth grade. She was okay, though. She was just really skinny, and

maybe her friends smoked every once in a while, but she was okay. There were only a few days until the start of winter break­­—only a few more days until freedom and one semester closer to high school. It was the annual cookie party with Emma’s mother’s side of the family, something they always did before Christmas. But Emma didn’t fit in this year.

“Her hands gripped tightly around the cap. She twisted, spilling the pills along the edge of the counter.” She sat at the opposite end of the kitchen table from the rest of her older cousins, and when conversation turned “too adult for Emma to hear,” it began to sink in even more that she didn’t belong. She took one… two… three… steps up the stairs and into the bathroom. I don’t fit in. My friends… my family… I can’t do this anymore. Emma grabbed the bottle of ibuprofen from the middle


door of the medicine cabinet. Her hands gripped tightly around the cap. She twisted, spilling the pills along the edge of the counter. “Finally gonna be done.” Your Tweet has been sent. “Not having to deal with any of this anymore.” Your Tweet has been sent. 76… 77… 78… “78.” Pill emoji. Your Tweet has been sent. Shelley sat at the kitchen table with her sister and nieces. The laughs and smiles they shared made it seem like nothing could get better than that moment they were in. Her phone rang. It rang again. Her phone screen displayed a text: “Hey Mrs. Boyd, can you go check on Emma? I think she’s in trouble.” Shelley slowly looked up from her phone and glanced around the room—Emma was nowhere to be found. She smiled at her guests. “Will you excuse me, I need to go check out something upstairs.” She took one… two… three… steps up the stairs to Emma’s bedroom. She saw Emma curled up into a defeated slump

of tears and frustration on her orange-and-white polka-dotted bedspread. Her mother sat on a sliver of the mattress with her legs hanging off the edge. She carefully slid her hand across the comforter, using her mother’s touch to rub her daughter’s back—afraid to break her even more. “Emma, how many pills did you take?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mom.” But Emma did know what she was talking about—it was only supposed to take 78 pills to die. Emma spent three days in the Bryan Health Center in Lincoln. There was a girl who sat next to her, with bruises, in a trail from her elbow to her wrist, from heroin use. There was also a boy there who was admitted because he smashed his head into a brick wall too many times. But there was also Emma, the little blonde eighth grader. She was terrified. When she walked in, no one was screaming, no one was strapped to boards or being injected with paralyzing medicine. It was just… calm. She sat through hours of group therapy sessions and

received medical attention for the pills she took. Emma was released and was free again—finally entering high school. It was September 11, 2013—Emma’s freshman year—when she first got drunk at school. She walked into the building with a CamelBak full of vodka in the side pocket of her North Face backpack.

“With a slam on the desk, Emma jerked awake. Staring back at her was her CamelBak, with the dean’s hand gripped around the lid.” No one would ever notice. Math class. One… two… three sips. History class. One… two… three sips. English class. One… two… three sips. Lunch. At lunchtime she was called up to the dean’s office. Emma staggered up the stairs leading into the dean’s office. She threw herself


down in the chair and waited for an administrator to come in and give her the punishment she already knew was coming. The alcohol began to swirl around her head, consuming her thoughts and blurring her vision. Emma slumped over in her chair, passed out from the vodka. With a slam on the desk, Emma jerked awake. Staring back at her was her CamelBak, with the dean’s hand gripped around the lid. Shelley heard her phone ring. It rang again. It was the school, and Emma was drunk. Her heart sank into her stomach. She knew what would happen to her daughter: suspension. Besides the suspension, she knew Emma would have to quit the volleyball team. Her mom hoped that by joining the sport, Emma would be starting down a new path— but that was all over now. She walked up the steps of the main entrance of Westside High School, and flashbacks of endless evenings of intensive therapy and phone calls of Emma’s behavior poured into her head as she rang the security buzzer to get into the

feature : emma boyd

building. One deep breath later, and she pulled open the door to face her daughter and the consequences she knew Emma would fall upon her. She’d lost everything. She lost volleyball, her therapy sessions seemed like a waste, and the trust she’d built with her mother vanished. At this point, there seemed to be nothing left to live for. Emma went to fridge, poured herself a glass of milk, and headed back up those stairs to the same bathroom, the same counter, where she poured those pills almost a year ago. With the vodka from school still in effect, she fumbled through the drawers of her bathroom and finally pulled out a bottle of nail polish remover. With her hands shaking, she slowly tipped the bottle of nail polish remover into her cup of milk and started drinking.

out of her system. Her floor became a wasteland of stomach acid and alcohol. When Shelley walked in, she knew what Emma had done, and rushed back to the Bryan Health Center. Shelley never expected Emma to be perfect. After she entered middle school, her mother knew that things were never going to be the same. Emma was no longer a little girl. She was a teenager who had been to hell and back by the time she was 15. Emma

“Her floor became a wasteland of stomach acid and alcohol.”

was forced to figure herself out, and decide what she wanted in her life. “I’m glad I’ve learned a lot of those lessons [in my] eighth grade and freshman As the milk and nail polish year,” Emma said. “Now I just remover was absorbed into know not to do it, because the her system, Emma began to repercussions would be a lot feel the affects. She sat at the worse now than when I was edge of her bed with her hand younger.” over her mouth. She knew she Through the help of Emma’s was going to vomit. Once it friends and family, she’s happened the first time, it lead living healthier now. Emma to two more times; she couldn’t hasn’t attempted suicide control her body’s instinct to since her freshman year. She’s get the poison she’d consumed surrounded by unconditional


love and support through her church, which has had the greatest influence on her over these last two years. “Emma lives very differently today. She’s trying very hard to maintain a different kind of lifestyle,” Shelley said. “Before, she wasn’t even making an effort.” Emma Boyd is one of the few who are lucky to survive through such a confusing and difficult time. But she made it. Over her middle and high school years, she’s learned that every problem she’s had is only temporary. There’s nothing that could happen to her that would make her consider taking her life after these last couple of years. But that doesn’t keep her mother from worrying. “I love so many things about her, and with as much as I love her, it’s that same amount that makes me concerned for her,” Shelley said. Things are different now— Emma is happy. However, happiness isn’t something that can be reached in a single night or therapy session. It took the constant reassurance of supportive family members, friends, and extracurricular activities for Emma to realize the person she wanted to become—a person worth living for.


opposing opinions: planned parenthood

PLANNED PARENTHOOD political analysis

story by stephanie dong & grant gaden design & graphics by stephanie dong



opposing opinions: planned parenthood




lanned Parenthood provides essential services to women who would otherwise not be able to afford it. The issue of defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t because they provide abortion services; the reality is abortion is legal due to a Supreme Court ruling, which won’t change anytime soon. The reason I think it should be defunded is because after a recent investigation by the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group, fraud appears to run rampant. An alleged $129.7 million is being abused, $528 million of which is from the government. It turns out that 75% of that money comes from Medicaid taxes but state governments get 90% of that money back. If the federal government were

grant gaden

to defund Planned Parenthood the states would still be free to give however much money they pleased. But the 1.45% taken out of our paychecks for the Medicare tax makes me pretty upset. The

the loss; Warren Buffett has donated $1.2 billion from 2001 to 2012, according to the Buffett foundation. The government is paying for something that takes up $528.4 million when it could easily be privately funded. It’s wasting taxpayer money. They could even make a new program that allows people who qualify for Medicaid to visit any doctor who would provide the same services at the same rates, so that only people that truly needed financial help paying for these services would receive the care they need.

where is all the money coming from?”

federal government is funding a program that has been found to abuse government money that could be given back to citizens or distributed to other programs. Even if Planned Parenthood were completely defunded, private donors would most likely make up for




othing summarizes the high drama conservatives inflict in order to defund Planned Parenthood by the famous saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” The limbs of the Planned Parenthood debate have managed to address the moral ambiguity of utilizing fetal tissue while simultaneously questioning how much gender equality relates to the right to abort. Unforeseen was the controversy of gun violence being tagged to the name Planned Parenthood, but without fail this dispute circles around to pit pro-life and pro-choice believers against one another. As the social issues of this organization elevate in society, politicians have embraced the issues. On Capitol Hill, the debate over Planned Parenthood has slowly deviated from the issues at hand and has become a war between parties. For Conservatives, defunding Planned Parenthood is a means to show how loyal they are to their party rather than to the American people. In an attempted bill to defund Planned Parent in early January, the GOP knew President Obama would veto the bill because of its provisions to weaken Obamacare; yet, rather than pursue progressive policies to further America, Republicans continued to pour time and recourses into their personal agenda.

stephanie dong

Despite the futile efforts of conservatives in Washington, momentum to defund Planned Parenthood continues to be pursued. For many fervent activists, opposition to abortion and rights of fetuses are trademarks to their campaign. For others, many people are angered about wasteful spending by the institution on nonHealthcare related expenditures and alleged fraud in finance. Planned Parenthood is a complex issue, with lots to debate. In the rare occurrence a Republican congressman or woman feigns concern over Planned Parenthood, putting aside their conservatives motives to

with governmental records. The majority of recipients of Planned Parenthood are often lower or middle class. Nevertheless, numerous conservative politicians call and rally the people to defund Planned Parenthood, but fail to articulate a plan to compensate for those people who will have numerous health services stripped for them. If conservatives were truly concerned about the American individual, they would be working with liberals to enhance and improve Planned Parenthood, because shutting down the institution is not a solution. Planned Parenthood is a controversial institution but not in

republicans continued to pour time...into their personal agenda”

oppose programs like Obamacare, and sincerely believes that defunding Planned Parenthood is the answer is seriously delusional. The percentage of efforts Planned Parenthood uses to engage in abortions cowers compared to the tremendous work the establishment employs towards preventive care such as contraceptives and STDs treatments. Accusers towards Planned Parenthood’s for allegedly selling fetal tissue have found themselves charged with tampering


the likes portrayed by the media. Similar to many organizations, Planned Parenthood still has room to develop. Change is a necessary component for Planned Parenthood to carry out its purpose of providing reproductive healthcare for the American people to its optimal capacity. Those who side with the abolishment of Planned Parenthood need to seriously examine what they are fighting against, otherwise that might as well consider themselves insane.

feature : profitable crafting

BY THE CROW potions and parcels to satisfy your crafty cravings story by elise tucker, design by abby hack, photos by elisabeth facer


enior Elizabeth Nigro picks up a small potion bottle and pours blue liquid ink into the bottle, carefully as not to stain her outfit and fingers. She grabs a cork for the ink filled bottle and presses it into the opening on top. With a cord, she ties a knot around the cork then a knot at the top to create a necklace that would make anyone look twice and ask, “Where did you get that?” When she’s asked this question, she smiles and responds, “I made it.” Friends came up to her asking if they could purchase one, but when she started learning the art of potioncraft she had no intentions of turning a profit. “I just started learning how to make all this stuff,” Nigro said. “I learned how to book-bind, crochet, and make potions out of things I had in my house.”


After sifting through homemade projects and overpriced sweaters, she decided to combine her interests with what Etsy was already all about: buying and selling homemade items. She had been crafting a lot, but didn’t know what to do with all the projects, so she turned to her Etsy account to sell her art and make some extra cash. As her handmade goods started to pile up, Nigro soon realized she needed to sell her projects to make room for new ideas. After she decided what to sell on her shop, Nigro needed to find a cool shop name, so people recognized it. While watching Monty Python one day, she remembered a little tale from the famous movies. “I thought of Monty Python and the argument that two characters had over about how swallows would


feature : profitable crafting carry coconuts,” Nigro said. “I then thought of how people used to say that carrier crows would carry messages in medieval times, but I wanted to flip that and say that crows would carry my packages.” Thus, ByTheCrow was born and soon became an Etsy success. Her products started to get more and more attention because of their “nerd” appeal. “I sell wands that have a glowin-the-dark tip and have real amber stones at the bottom, leather books, necklaces that are potions, and finally hand-designed headbands,” Nigro said. Now that Nigro has her shop up and running, she wants to start a Twitter page, so people know what’s sold on there and to talk to her buyers. Her goal in a couple of years is to make more than a couple of dollars and showcase more of her artwork on the site. ByTheCrow’s prices range from $6 to $20 plus shipping which tends to be around $5. Check out her shop at ByTheCrow.



feature : hidden coffeehouses

STORIES COFFEEHOUSE 1129 south 180th street (402) 502-0914

story by megan murray, design by anne stepanek, photos by abegale headlee and elisabet tucker


he smell of antique furniture and roasted coffee beans wafts under the rustic hanging lights. At the center of the shop, a wall of stacked rustic dressers stretches to the celling. A charming handwritten menu hangs behind the counter. With its quirky furnishings and homemade touches, Stories Coffeehouse has an atmosphere I can’t find anywhere else. The staff is friendly and happily greets customers. “I feel like I’ve left repetitive West Omaha,” said a first time customer. Stories Coffeehouse serves classic lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos. However, if you’re

feeling adventurous and want a treat, try something from their original coffee section. Sweet and flavorful drinks fill their menu, such as their S’morelatte, or French Silk Pie Latte. The S’morelatte is my favorite; it’s topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, crushed graham crackers, and drizzled chocolate. Not only does Stories sell unique and delicious coffee drinks, it’s an authentic coffeehouse and antique store in one. Their collection of furniture for sale is called “Junque.” It’s almost guaranteed any piece of furniture in the café has a price tag attached to it.



feature : hidden coffeehouses


SPIELBOUND BOARDGAME CAFE 3229 harney street (402) 763-8444

story by megan murray, design by emma moldin, photos by abegale headlee and elisabet tucker


n order to conquer your opponent’s land, buy up all the property on the board, or retire at Millionaire Estates, you need to be on your game. At Spielbound Board Game Café, you’ll need your game face the minute you step inside. Spielbound opens up into a quaint café with a chalkboard menu of delectable coffees. Each drink has a clever name like Love Letter Mocha or the Sweet Victory. The front room is dotted with tables of different shapes and sizes, and houses a board game library. Stacks of brightly colored boxes in red shelves line the room. The games are separated into categories of every genre you could think of, from foreign to classics like Clue. At Spielbound, you’re lost in a world of games. The coffeehouse has something to offer that’s hard to find: a shared interest. The popularity of family game night has slowly withered away as our lives have become more hectic. It’s hard enough to get the

people that you care about in one place while also finding something to do that everyone enjoys. Luckily, Spielbound offers a variety of games to fit everyone’s interests. Can’t seem to marshal a few friends? Don’t worry! They offer multiple gaming clubs that play at certain times throughout the week, and are always open to new members. The owner, a barista, and a customer’s voices rose with passion as they got into a heated discussion on the lack of skill needed to play Scrabble. I’ve never heard such a genuine conversation between an employer, employee, and customer before. Being at Spielbound and watching these interactions made me want to join in. I want to be that customer that spontaneously gets in discussions with the owner. I want to be a regular who plays games every Wednesday night and gets to know the baristas. Spielbound isn’t just a coffeehouse. It’s a board game community.


art : urban collective

THE BEMIS blending the line between studio and home

story by emma kopplin, design by abby hack and kirsten mccormack, photos by ivan reyes and abegale headlee


rust-colored brick building with a cobblestone drive sits at the edge of the Old Market. Unique art displays stand outside as if they were keeping guard—but the open, accepting atmosphere makes this place welcoming. Inside, dozens of artists have lived, cooked, slept, and created. Artists have always had a difficult time making it in the world. They tend to suffer from lack of a consistent source of income and the harsh taxation of being an independent “business” owner. There are many different nonprofits that try to help support these struggling artists, but the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts does this unlike any other. The Bemis is a world-class residency program that offers a creative sanctuary for artists. The Bemis offers artists a home; tenants usually live in a large studio apartment that includes a personal bathroom and kitchen. It provides optimal creative space for artists to follow their passion and conduct their craft by providing them space to create. “This organization was founded by artists, for artists,” Chris Cook, executive director of the Bemis, said. As executive director, he has come



art : urban collective

to understand, manage, and help artists as they get acquainted to life in Omaha. The Bemis is an organization that looks behind the artwork—they see the creative things an artist has potential to create, and then gives them an environment in which to do so. It’s their mission to provide an opportunity in which artists and their creations can flourish in the community. “The Bemis is one of the few places [that] supports living artists—artists at work every day,” Bob Culver, board member of the Bemis, said. “Most museums are archival; they collect art and then [display it].” Culver has put hard work into the Bemis since the beginning. The Bemis has taught him that the most important part of the process is the quality of an artist’s life: it doesn’t just preserve their art—it helps them work on their craft. “Having a place that supports the process and experimentation that needs to take place to make something meaningful, there aren’t a lot of places that truly do that,” Cook said. “But the Bemis does do that, and they have—for years and years and years,” Since the ‘80s, artists from all over the world have found sanctuary within the walls of the Bemis, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. According to some, the artists that find themselves at the Bemis are often drifters—people who travel and create wherever they go. One such drifter is Josh Short. He traveled extensively and has

never given up on his art, making him the perfect candidate for the Bemis. “I’ve been here for just over a week,” Short said. “I’m very new. It’s pretty incredible.” Originally hailing from San Francisco, he left because it had become exceptionally hard to make it as an artist there. However, even though he’s faced hard times, he hasn’t let go of his unique and creative style. “I would say [my style is] an ‘antiaesthetic,’” Short said. “It’s very contemporary. I try not to spend too much time on making something look nice. It’s more about the energy it has and what it does. Often times my art is something kinetic or sound-based.” He uses shapes, function, and sound to create memorable art pieces, while keeping the original parts. “I try to really hone in on what’s important about it,” he said. “I try to find the essence or what really moves it.” He’s passionate about keeping true to what something stands for, not taking away from what something was originally. He also finds inspiration in great causes as well. “I really am inspired by cultural movers, like Martin Luther King [Jr.], and Ai Weiwei, my favorite artist,” Short said. With the Bemis as home base, Josh Short has been able to create some truly incredible pieces. With a world becoming vastly material, it’s good to have some real feeling and thought shine through.



pictured: works in a showcase by josh short


art : urban collective



“[It’s important to have] a place that supports the process and experimentation that needs to take place to make something meaningful...the Bemis does that, and they have—for years.”


executive director


“[My most memorable moment while working with the Bemis] was our Valentine’s Day party that we had many, many years ago. It ws one of my early dates with my wife, Debora. The auction was a great social time to meet other artists and be in touch with the community”




feature : bright. apple. crush.


sophomores “bright. apple. crush.” it at ITS Festival story by bridget mizener, design and illustration by abby hack


hh, winter break: a welcome period of tranquility and relaxation amidst the grind of college applications, finals, and the mind-numbing Nebraska weather. Just time to chill out, relax, and unwind. But not for sophomores Shannon Chinn, Grace Johanningsmeier, and Abby Cameron. “We were freaking out,” Chinn said. The girls were just days away from performing at the Nebraska State Thespian Festival, the competition for theater troupes across the region, and their scene was nowhere close to ready. They had chosen Bright. Apple. Crush. by Steve Yokey, a short play, to compete in the “Group Acting” category. Bright. Apple. Crush. was quite the undertaking for a few reasons. First, it was written for two men and one woman, and they had to make it work with three girls. Second, the scene has a bit of a funky format. “It’s very different from a normal


scene because we don’t talk to each other,” Chinn said. In fact, it’s completely different. Ordinarily, the connections between one character and another drive the play. Their conversations reveal information and move the plot forward. But in Bright. Apple. Crush., the characters don’t interact at all. They’re not even aware of each other’s existence, even though they’re standing right next to each other. This isolation of one character’s speech is called a monologue, and Bright. Apple. Crush. is made up of three separate, but interwoven, monologues. What are these monologues about, you may ask? Well, to put it bluntly: murder. Johanningsmeier plays a victim of an abusive relationship who ends up killing her abuser. Chinn plays a schoolteacher who poisons her fourth-grade class with spiked apples. Cameron plays a wife who caught her husband cheating and lit the house

on fire—with the adulterers still inside. Throughout the dialogue of the play, all three explain what drove them to kill. Yeah, it’s a little morbid, but the dark theme gave the group an edge by distinguishing itself from the other scenes. Still, the girls were a little worried it might be too dark—there’s cigarette smoking, references to sex, swear words… and of course, the whole murder thing. “Most of the scenes are dramatic, and deal with emotional stuff, but not… murdering people,” Chinn said. Luckily, other groups had performed Bright. Apple. Crush. at Festival before and scored highly, so the group had some reassurance it would go over well with the judges. But since those other groups had already done so well, there was no shortage of pressure to perform. “Leading up to it everyone kept telling us, ‘You guys are going to have to do really well because these other people were amazing,’” Johanningsmeier said. With the pressure mounting and the competition just days away, the girls found themselves was scrambling over winter break. There was a lot to do. The show, originally written to be 11 minutes long, had to fit in just five minutes. They had to cut lines central to the characters’ background that they would have liked to keep in, but wouldn’t have worked with the time limit. “A week before we performed,

we were way over the time limit— we had no idea what we were doing,” Johanningsmeier said. Another obstacle was blocking: how the performers should move and interact. It’s a key part of acting, but how could they convey interaction when they’re just three isolated monologues? It’s a delicate balance between aimless meandering and meaningful movement. “You want it to be interesting to watch and all that, but you also want to convey the connections [between the characters],” Chinn said. Instead of conventional face-toface conversations, they worked to

“What are these monologues about, you may ask? Well, to put it bluntly: murder.” convey the subtleties of the links between each monologue without directly intertwining them. “We’d have these moments where we would bump shoulders, or touch the other person, but without [our characters] actually realizing they’re there,” Johanningsmeier said. There was a lot to worry about—timing and blocking and a controversial theme and the pressure of previous performances—but on January 8, the ladies traveled to Lincoln to compete. And their hard work


paid off. They earned the highest rating, superior, but that wasn’t the exciting part. The biggest honor at Festival is to be invited to the Showcase. After all the contestants are judged, the seven best performances then get to perform in front of the entire state thespian society. The girls were invited to callbacks, an honor in and of itself, and waited with baited breath for the judges’ decision. They were in their hotel room when they got the call. “We just started screaming— the poor people around us! We were like, ‘Oh god, we’re in a hotel, we need to be quiet,’” Chinn said. Not only were they invited to perform in Showcase, their performance of Bright. Apple. Crush. was the closing act. It was a completely unexpected honor. An invitation to the Showcase is extremely rare, especially for a group of three sophomores, and Westside hasn’t had performers in the showcase in years. “We didn’t think we belonged there. We were thinking, ‘How did we get here?’” Chinn said. But they did belong. With a superior rating and Showcase appearance in hand, the trio performed, with the rest of the Westside troupe, at the Pizza Shoppe in Benson on February 6 to raise money for a trip to the International Thespian Festival this June 20-25. Despite (or maybe because of) their unusual choice of material, these three girls can put on quite a show.

feature : richie porras

YUNG CHAPO junior’s rise to f(l)ame

story and photos by collin koory, design by megan murray


s a joke his sophomore year, Richie Porras started dropping freestyles in the Math IMC. He continued to make music and made a song called “One in a Million,” which jumpstarted his rap career. “After ‘One in a Million’ I kept going, and one turned into two, and two turned into three, and I just began making music,” Porras said. Porras finally decided to drop a mixtape. He named his completed EP “Yung Chapo Mixtape.” The track list consists of seven original songs, telling the story of how he lives and talking about real-world problems. Porras has always had a passion for music. In middle school, he discovered this love by playing the violin. Porras tried making beats for his raps in middle school, but decided it was too difficult because he

didn’t have the resources or equipment he needed. So, like to a lot of amateur artists, Porras finds the beats he raps over on SoundCloud. For Porras, rapping is a way to express himself. Porras is inspired by the styles of rappers Bones and Night Lovell. He wants to be on a “real” level instead of rapping about girls, drugs, and money. Porras doesn’t rap about who he wants to be, but who he is. He tackles serious issues such as politics, and problems in the world he or others face in everyday life. He treats his raps like his journal. As he says in his song “1999,” “You use your mom’s money for whatever you want, and I work for mine, so I have what I got.” Although he does things that most rappers do, he’s unique due to his style of rapping and how he addresses real-world problems.




feature : local artists


seniors use lighthouse project to recognize local artists


story by nikki saner, design by kyndall goodwin, photos by abegale headlee

he two little words that are guaranteed to make any Westside student’s blood pressure rise are “Senior Project.” The idea of creating a project necessary to graduate, with no clear guidelines, causes major anxiety and tears throughout Westside. While most students take the traditional route of creating an iBook or website, other seniors have taken a more adventurous approach to tackling the tedious graduation requirement. Senior Cecilia Glass has been involved in the fashion and modeling industry since she was in diapers. Glass and senior Wiley Jacob have teamed up with their friends and colleagues to put together a fashion and art show. They’re working with senior Tatum Messerley, Westside alum Alyssa Koory, and a variety of other local talents to set up and manage the show. The project titled, Off the Wall, was created

through a collaboration of local artists and fashion designers to exhibit the talents within Omaha youth. The seniors hope to draw a broad audience from the community to the show, not only to raise money for the local artists, but to also make their names and talents recognizable. “I decided to throw the art and fashion show because I grew up in different parts of the fashion industry,” Glass said, “and I wanted something that was fun and that I could involve my friends with.” The money raised from the event will be given to the designers who helped with the project. The proceeds from the show can be used to get new materials to expand their careers and go to bigger cities with more prominent fashion communities. Through Glass and Jacob’s show, artists were given a chance to take a risk—to make a name for themselves.



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