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westsidestory iowa city west high school

2901 melrose ave.

iowa city, IA 52246

You’ve got a friend in me Students share stories about pg. 11-13 life-changing friendships. flip over for the senior issue

Volume 45 issue 7

MAY 21, 2014

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[04] NEWS

Mission trip to haiti

Over the summer, science teacher Jenifer Secrist will be taking a few West students along with some college students on a mission trip to Haiti.


[11-13] IN-DEPTH

You’ve got a friend in me Who has made a big impact in your life? The West Side Story asked three different students. Their answers ranged from their sister to their teacher.


songs of the year

What song has defined your school year? See what other students had to say, in a group version of the student mix tape.

WSS staff

Madie Miller Anna Mondanaro Katie Mons Amelia Moser Matthew Murry Blake Oetting

Katie Peplow Anthony Pizzimenti Lizzie Pruneau Apoorva Raikwar Velarchana Santhana Leela Sathyaputri Danial Syed Julia Truszkowski Gage Van Dyke Tyler Voss Shirley Wang Jaycie Weathers Rebecca Wen Sara Whittaker Grace Young

Photo editor, Sports Co-editor Designer Managing Editor Editor-in-Chief Copy Co-editor Assistant Editor, Arts and Entertainment Co-editor Designer Writer, Co-Web Master Photographer Video Editor, Designer, Videographer Profiles Editor Artist Writer Web Copy Editor Photographer Design Co-editor, Feature Co-editor, Backpage Editor Design Co-editor Feature Co-editor Writer Adviser Business Editor, Designer Cover ART by//Kelsey Keranen


ycle this


Copy Co-editor Opinion Editor Writer Archivist Photographer Sports Co-editor News Co-editor Videographer Co-Web Master Photographer Artist Web Sports Editor, Designer Writer, Artist Social Media Editor, Arts and Entertainment Co-editor Writer News Co-editor Sports Co-editor Artist, Designer Photographer Feature Co-editor Writer News Co-editor


Hilah Kohen Lauren Knudson Brittani Langland Jaeho Lee Brooke Lofgren Kaitlyn McCurdy Consuelo Mendoza Hannah Merrill

After many years of teaching students at West High, seven teachers will be retiring. Read quotes from them explaining their favorite memory at West.

Please R

Lushia Anson Fiona Armstrong-Pavlik Stephon Berry Lucy Blair Abby Burgess Aaron Carter Meredith Cullen Paul Curry Schyler Davis Nick Deerberg Anna Furlong Lydia Hinman Kelsey Keranen Megumi Kitamoto

photo used with permission from//jenifer secrist


After enjoying her time with the people of Haiti last spring break, science teacher Jenifer Secrist will return, this time bringing along eight West students.

saying goodbye

Jun-Hee Lee ’18 wins math competition Jun-Hee Lee ’18 was part of both the Northwest Junior High and West math teams this year, and he was successful with both, finishing in first place in every event he was entered in at the Iowa State Math competition. After the dust settled, he was named the best mathlete in Iowa. “When I do well, I’m really happy, and that’s all I remember,” he said. “I usually don’t go into competitions thinking that I’ll win - more that I should try to come out of competition feeling happy about myself.” He started out on the Northwest math team, but soon began attending high school competitions. “They were fun [so] I decided to go to more,” he said. “After that, I got to know more people from the West math team and kind of slipped in.” This fall led him not only to West’s math team, but to a championship title.

@wsspaper asked West High students

What do you look forward to most for summer? @Zach21Armstrong Going to Europe with my family and grandparents Zach’14 Armstrong ’15 Zach Richmond

@Cliciousss My sister’s wedding:)

side stories


Free time!!!!

@bekkuhha Cheer camp with the other lovely girls on the squad!

I think it is completly unfair to him.”

West Side Story wins awards

-Isaac Moel ’14 on the West High rugby coach being fired.

West Side Story recently won 17 awards from the Iowa High School Press Association. The first place awards include Megumi Kitamoto ’15 and Hilah Kohen ’14 for “Searching for peace” in the in-depth news category, Kelsey Keranen ’16 and Rebecca Wen ’14 for “Evaluating equality” in the news category, Madie Miller ’15 for “Running a mile for Line” in the photo story category, Lushia Anson ’15 and Stephon Berry ’14 for “The meaning of millennial” in the feature category and Jaeho Lee for the “Evaluating equality” cover in the newsmagazine cover category. They also won four second place awards, four third place awards and three honorable mensions. For a full list of awards visit wsspaper. com.

COMPilED by// Lauren knudson


11 3 $5,291 NEWS BY THE NUMBERS:

Days of school left for non-seniors

Years since the last time boys tennis lost a meet

The amount of money that West High Behind the Mask raised for the national To Write Love on Her Arms Campaign

COMPilED by//jaycie weathers

Classes to be cut due to budget and lack of interest With the new budget cuts looming over administrators’ heads, West has to cut some of the classes offered to students for the 2014-2015 school year. Classes such as culinary arts academy, German I, music theory and movement and acting are on the chopping block. Paul Breitbach, a West guidance counselor, confirms that some cuts are due to the ICCSD budget adjustment, like German I, while others are attributed to lack of enrollment. “Even with the budget adjustment, those classes probably wouldn’t have been offered because there’s just not enough students [interested],” Breitbach said. “Some classes, like culinary arts, are only offered every other year sometimes [based on the number of students interested,]” he said.

With the number of students at West on the rise in the new school year, Breitbach also predicts the class sizes to increase.

photo by//lauren knudson

COMPilED by//lauren knudson

Anneke Thorne ’16

Becca Staib ’16

“have a great summer”; commonly written in yearbooks. Lacey: HAGS this summer, you guys!!! Mike: Ugh, you too… COMPilED by//jaycie weathers


COMPilED by//lucy blair

COMPilED by//Anthony pizzimenti

HAGS an acronym meant to shorten the phrase

Courtney Hurt ’16

COMPilED by//jaycie weathers

MAY 2014 NEWS 3

current EVENTS

Science teacher Jenifer Secrist poses for a photo with her 10-year-old son Keian Secrist and some new friends on her trip to Haiti last spring break.

Students, teachers to attend Haiti trip By AARON CARTER

Around 220,000 people died and more than 4,000 schools were damaged or destroyed during the 7.0 magnitude quake in 2010 in Haiti. With the mass destruction that occurred, some of the rebuilding process will be coming from Iowa City locals who will be led by biology teacher Jenifer Secrist. “I believe we all have a purpose in life,” Secrist said. “I don’t know what mine is yet, but I know I want to help others and provide hope to those in need.” Secrist’s passion for helping people has spread to the student body. Secrist created a nonprofit organization called ONE (One Nation Education) which is taking a total of 25 people to

Haiti, encompassing high school students, college students and adults, including fellow West High teachers Maureen Head and Shishonee Hughes. Before planning this trip, Secrist went to Haiti during spring break with her 10-year-old son, Keian Secrist. According to Secrist, 83% of kids in Haiti aren’t educated, 10% die before the age of five and the average income per capita is around $480 a year. “‘Poor,’ ‘dirty’ and ‘overcrowded’ are some of the descriptions that come to my mind when I think of Haiti,” Secrist said. “Yet when you get into a community it was inviting, and the people freely gave their love.” Secrist and the other 25 members are going to run a summer camp while in Haiti. When the local students are out of school they

aren’t guaranteed a meal, so Secrist and others want to make sure they are provided with food. They will have a community dinner, where everyone will be invited, and they will also finish the house that Secrist and her son Keian began during spring break. During the day, there will be different stations for the kids to go to. After that there is a large group where everyone comes together in the evening. Darian Showalter ’16 was inspired by Secrist and is one of the eight West High students going on the trip. “When Secrist mentioned the trip earlier this year, I immediately told her I would be interested.,” Showalter said. “I think it will be life-changing and will give me the chance to make a difference.” Photo used with permission fRom//Jenifer Secrist

Academic state championships COMPilED by//HILAH KOHEN

Quiz maY


Schoolgirls were recently kidnapped by a terrorist organization in what country? a) Egypt b) Nigeria c) Iraq d) China

Which federal Iowa politician will not be running for re-election this fall? a) Tom Harkin b) Chuck Grassley c) Steve King d) Dave Loebsack



Which uncommon animal was recently found in Iowa? a) Polar Bear b) Mountain Lion c) Wolf d) Elephant

The Iowa Legislature passed which controversial bill in the most recent legislation session. a) Anti-abortion b) Banning same-sex marriage c) Anti-bullying d) Medical marijuana



Answers:1)b 2)a 3)c 4)d DESIGN BY//CONSUELO MENDOZA

MAY 2014 NEWS 4





Based on the idea that everyone has a story to tell, West Side Story randomly chose three students to find the things that define them. photos by//Madie Miller

HANNAH VAN ROEKEL ‘15 After coming back from a trip to Haiti during spring break, Hannah Van Roekel ’15 walked the halls of West High with a completely new perspective. She passed by little things like water fountains with a newfound appreciation, having spent a week in an environment where clean water was not a guarantee. “It’s hard to come back and know that they’re living like that,” she said. This summer, Van Roekel plans to go on another trip, this time to Belize. The trip is through Parkview Church and leaves July 5, and the travelers will help with construction as well as teaching Bible study programs to children. Although Van Roekel is a bit nervous about adapting to the culture and customs in Belize, she looks forward to forming new relationships with the locals and being able to impact the lives of others on this trip. “[Many] of the kids haven’t had experience with being cared about,” she said. Compiled by/LUSHIA ANSON

Every year, a cheerful, rainbow-colored train winds its way through China’s most impoverished areas, providing the poor with free surgical procedures to eliminate cataracts. Mary Li ’16 will be a volunteer on this train this summer, which is called “The Lifeline Express.” Li was originally going to sign up for a Red Cross-sponsored volunteer program in China where she would teach English in impoverished cities. However, she decided to opt for the “rainbow train” instead after her mother discovered the opportunity. “I feel like this makes a bigger difference, because rather than learning a little bit of English or something, you can see again,” she said. Although Li has some concerns about the language barrier — she is fluent in Chinese but is not so confident about scientific or medical jargon — she still is eager to go out and help change people’s lives for the better. When asked about what she looks forward to the most, she smiled. “Seeing the people’s faces [after they can see again],” she said. Compiled by/LUSHIA ANSON

Aaditya Deshpande ‘17 Not only did Aaditya Deshpande ’17 once distract an entire English class because he was the first to notice snow falling out the window, but he also keeps track of whatever is the new buzz, from friends to movie trailers and books. “Usually when I find out about something cool I just dive into it and try to find out as much as I can until I get overwhelmed by all the information; then, I start erasing it as I find new interests,” Deshpande said. This love for finding new interests, such as a new movie about the latest superhero or a cool comic book, has transformed Deshpande into a “man with many hats.” “I’ve been many things ... first I was a firefighter, then I was Superman. That lasted a while.” The firefighter phase came about because it was a “generic thing that [many] boys are interested in,” and the much longer lasting “hat” dates back to 2006 when Aaditya saw a trailer for “Superman Returns.” “I thought ‘oh cool. I want to see that’ and got into that,” Deshpande said. Deshpande says he is always thinking, which may be what contributes to his astute awareness and ability to notice small random details and can lead him into heated debates with his classmates. “I accidentally started World War III once. My friend and I were fighting, and then everyone got involved and we all started fighting about if Graphic Image Files are pronounced ‘gif ’ or ‘jif ’” Deshpande said. Compiled by/katie peplow





for more 1 IN 2000 profiles go to


On to retirement

Seven teachers at West High will be moving on to retirement next year. WSS asked the retiring teachers what they are going to miss most about West.

art by//kelsey keranen photos by//nick deerberg COMPilED by//Kelsey keranen, Lauren Knudson and consuelo mendoza

[What I’ll miss most is] working with students and getting to know the teen

age group; I think it keeps me young, compared to not being around younger people. You’re aware of what’s going on with that age group much more so.

- Liz Dodge English

On the sappy, schmaltzy side, I am not the same person who came to West High 15 years ago. I have grown so much from my students and all the people I’ve worked with.

- Robin Torner Special Programs

I think what I’ll miss most is when I see students leave - as they leave, I see them growing up; all of a sudden, it seems like the years just go by. I feel like they’re just freshmen, and next thing I know they’re graduating ... I get to know them all as they go along, and then they tell me their plans, and those moments are what I’ll always miss.

- Renato de Leon Guidance



My favorite part of teaching at West is working with such positive people and students. I cannot think of one teacher or adult in the building who does not go out of his/her way for students when asked.

- Jeane Dalton Special Programs

I love the variety of students, and they make me laugh every day. They are just fun, really good people, and they keep me young. I enjoy the company.

- Rhonda Halvorsen

Family and Consumer Science

I’ll miss all the positive energy in the building and also the opportunity to get to know so many students and their families. It’s been very rewarding to watch

students gain confidence in themselves as learners and to see them succeed.

” “ ”

- Cathy Deschenes Special Programs

[My favorite part about teaching at West has been]

the spirit and the enthusiasm of

all the students and the teachers. They all want to be successful and achieve well.

- Janet Ross Math

for more coverage go to


WEST HIGH’S 2013-2014


The football team had a record of 9-2 and made it to the second round of state.

My favorite play from last season was when lineman Zak Ranshaw [’14] scored a touchdown in a formation we call ‘rhino.’ We all blocked for him and he just ran in for a two-yard touchdown.” -Tyler Eads ’15 photo by//Lydia hinman

Jacintha Thomas ’15 placed second in state for diving.

This year’s season was a lot more fun. I was more confident in a lot of my dives, and I kept improving at every meet. I was also able to accomplish a lot of my goals, which was nice.” -Jacinta Thomas ’15

The wrestling team placed fifth in the state, and Chris Walters ’14 placed 3rd in the state for individuals.

The most memorable moment this year had to be when we beat Prairie at home on senior night to tie for the conference title. As the season went on I saw huge improvements from everyone.” -Chris Walters ’14

Nate Boland ’14

The boys tennis team has gone undefeated all season and have just beaten the tennis state winning streak record.

Winning state the last two seasons has been a great experience. So far it has been a solid year. Everyone has been playing well. Our goal as a team this year is to have everyone qualify for individual state, and have our team win state as well.” -David DiLeo ’15

The boys swim team poses around their State Championship trophy. photo by//Madie miller

The boys swim team won state. Also, Aideen Keen ’16 won the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, and Mark McGlaughlin ’16 won the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.

“ 8 SPORTS MAY 2014

Touching the wall after the 4 X 100 free relay at state is probably my most memorable moment. It was the last event of the meet, and we won all the relays, so everyone was pumped, and then Aidan [Keen ’16] came over to the water and shook my hand.” -Mark McGlaughlin ’16 DESIGN BY//BRITTANI LANGLAND

photo by//Lydia Hinman Playing in the state championship game at Wells-Fargo Arena, Wyatt Lohaus ’14 drives past a player.

The boys basketball team won state and won the sportsmanship award.

When I passed it to David [DiLeo ’15] and he hit two three’s in a row on back-to-back possessions in the championship game to separate us from Valley [was one of the best moments of the season]. Despite losing a lot of seniors from this year’s team, I think we can win another championship if we all play as a team with unselfish play and play to our full potential each game.” -Connor McCaffery ’17

Defending their state title from last season, the boys soccer team plans to continue their success.

Our team goals for this season are the same as always: be MVC champions, beat City High and play for the state championship.” -Ted Paulsen ’15

Ashlynn Yokom ’14 placed 5th at state for cross country.

Overall my season went well, I won about the same amount of meets and my times averaged the same as last years.” -Ashlynn Yokom ’14 MAY 2014 SPORTS 9

10 ADS MAY 2014




Whether it’s a wave in the hallway or a lunchtime conversation, there are so many ways to connect with others at West High. WSS profiled three close friendships between people at West.

PH OT O S by // m adie m il ler

Brown hair and eyes aren’t the only thing Bridget and Caitlyn McKenna have in common. Their similar interests allow them to be best friends in addition to identical twins.


Cousins are usually people you only see in the summer or at family reunions. Molly Kuehn and Daniel Machlab surpass that and have an almost sibling-like relationship.

High school can be a daunting four years. For Hannah

Twitchell, having Linsey Choun there to support her has made high school much more manageable.

Hannah Twitchell and Linsey Choun By Brittani Langland


oming into a German II class her freshman year, Hannah Twitchell ’15 was very intimidated. The class was mostly comprised of juniors and seniors, and the stress of entering high school was on her shoulders. “It was really scary, not knowing anyone or really what the whole year was going to be like, along with learning a different language,” Twitchell said. Upon arriving to class on her first day of school, Twitchell was first introduced to her German teacher Linsey Choun. At the time, Twitchell had no idea that she had just met one of the people who would significantly impact her high school experience. However, right away, Twitchell enjoyed being in Choun’s class. “She made everyone feel at ease, and made the new ninth graders feel more a part of the family that she had already created,” Twitchell said. “I see it again this year; [she makes] her classes more of a family, rather than a class.” Due to small class sizes, the German program allows the students to stay with the same teacher for all four years. This grants the teacher and students more time to connect with each other on a personal level, and Choun takes full advantage of this.

“From day one, I initiate the importance of honesty, trust and security,” Choun said. “Learning anything new for the first time is exciting and also very terrifying all at the same time.” Choun encourages students to make mistakes and learn from them, and to trust themselves inside and outside of the classroom. She also values the importance of being comfortable with who you are. This advice that Choun gave, along with the atmosphere she provided, created a deep personal relationship with Twitchell. This trust and friendship even allowed Twitchell to come to her when she needed support. “At the end of ninth grade, my mother tried to kill herself, and I was having a really tough time, but she was there to talk with me,” Twitchell said. “She had some life experiences from other family members and from her own troubles in her life, [and] she was able to be there for me in a way that some other people couldn’t.” Not only has Choun been able to help her, but Twitchell has also been helping Choun cope with the recent announcement that the German program will be cut from ICCSD schools in the next few years. “I have cried in her class a lot, and when she was talking to us about losing the class that I have come to see as a reprieve from the day, it was really hard and I cried a lot,” Twitchell said. Countless memories have been

made in Choun’s German class. “The elimination of this program cannot take [the memories and experiences] away from me or any one of [the students],” Choun said. This positive attitude is the same one that Twitchell has admired for her three years at West. “I look at it like this: my life has never been an easy one,” Choun said. “I could go into the father who suffered from drug and alcohol abuse and my mom who battled cancer during my childhood, but the past is the past. My mom always reminded me that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. While -Linsey cliché, it’s true.” This friendship found in a German classroom has been through a lot together. It has even inspired Twitchell to continue her German career past high school. “She is an amazing young lady,” Choun said. “Her smile and positive demeanor reminds me every day, especially on more challenging days, that while life will [bring] what [it] may, we all have worth.”

“Her smile and positive demeanor reminds me every day, especially on more challenging days, that while life will [bring] what [it] may, we all have worth.” Choun, German teacher

Molly Kuehn and Daniel Machlab

By Lushia Anson


hether they are helpi ng e a c h other o u t with homework, bickering during Spanish class, or vacationing with their families, first cousins Molly Kuehn ’15 and Daniel Machlab ’15 have had a close friendship ever since their kindergarten days, where they would watch TV together after school. No matter what time of day, “I can count on him to always be there,” Kuehn said.

And indeed, he is. In addition to sharing several classes including British literature and Spanish, the cousins see each other for vacations and family gatherings, and they also share the same group of friends. However, this constant proximity doesn’t necessarily lead to adversity. “He bugs me like a little brother, but I still love him,” Kuehn said. Bystanders may sometimes be misguided by Kuehn and Machlab’s harmless bickering. “Sometimes people forget we’re cousins,” Kuehn said, recalling many times where classmates thought that the two were actually being mean to each other. Another misconception that

arises from not being aware that the two are cousins is the assumption that Kuehn and Machlab are dating. “In seventh and eighth grade I used to think it was super embarrassing [when people asked] … but now it’s just really funny,” Kuehn said. The cousins certainly have many memories together, including many photos of each other throughout the years. During the interview, Machlab started scrolling through his phone, looking for embarrassing photos of Kuehn, despite her protests. Despite the bickering and teasing, the cousins share a strong bond. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Kuehn said.

Bridget and Caitlyn McKenna By Brittani Langland


rom being dancers at Nolte Academy of Dance to their long brown hair, twins Bridget and Caitlyn McKenna ’17 are seemingly identical. The sisters have no other siblings in their immediate family; however, their aunt and their mother’s cousin both just had twin girls. “So there are three sets of twin girls on one side of the family, all in the same generation,” Caitlyn said. The two girls have found many perks of being twins, including hanging out together on family vacations and helping each other out with schoolwork. A memory they share is when Bridget broke her ankle over the summer, and Caitlyn was there to take care of

her. “I had to be her servant the whole summer,” Caitlyn said. “I even had to push her in a wheelchair.” Despite all the positives from being twins, there are also a few disadvantages. “People get us confused a lot,” Caitlyn said. “Everyone always asks me if my name is Bridget or McKenna, and it’s sad because neither of those are my name, and then I have to awkwardly say, ‘no, it’s Caitlyn.’” “It’s really funny,” Bridget added. They get confused for the other so often, that they now respond to each other’s names. “Whenever someone yells ‘hey Caitlyn,’ I usually turn around just in case they are actually trying to talk to me,” said Bridget. With movies out there like “The Parent Trap,” the sisters have been asked many times if they have tried

trading places. “One time in sixth grade we tried to switch places,” Caitlyn said. “It worked on my teacher, but Bridget’s teacher was like ‘Caitlyn, get out of here.’” Another question that they are asked regularly is if they have socalled “superpowers.” “We can’t read each other’s minds, and we can’t feel each other’s pain,” Bridget said. The sisters enjoy each other’s company and have many inside jokes. “It’s like having two of yourself, so you can hang out with yourself, which sounds really lame, but it’s really fun,” Bridget said.

MAY 2014 ADS 14




photo by//Nick deerberg


For some people, music is a way to relax. However, for Jacob Nishimura ’16, playing the saxophone in band has benefitted him academically as well. Nishimura started playing the saxophone in fifth grade, and he was ecstatic about the opportunity to join a music program. “My mom played the saxophone in high school, and I really liked music even before I started to play saxophone,” Nishimura said. He was also drawn to the versaDESIGN BY//GRACE YOUNG

tility of the saxophone. “I like how you can play both jazz and classical, and I like the wide range that the saxophone can exhibit,” Nishimura said. Although Nishimura prefers to play classical because “everything is written out for you,” he prefers to listen to contemporary saxophone music. “I really like Ryo Noda, because his style is contemporary, and I like his use of multiphonics, which is playing two notes at the same time. I am also inspired by Nobuya Sugawa, who is a saxo-

phonist that basically makes his living off of touring. In terms of classical composers, Jacques Schwarz-Bart writes some really fun pieces,” Nishimura said. Since Nishimura has a systematic mindset, that has helped him with improving in music. “I’m kind of a perfectionist when I’m passionate about it. I’m only organized when I play music though,” Nishimura said. He is also using his systematic thinking in his other extracurricular activities as well. “I really like math and comput-

er programming because of the problem-solving aspect and how it is really fun. That’s why I really like math class and AP Computer Science,” Nishimura said. Another trait that ties his extracurricular activities is his love for working as a team. “Solos with a pianist are fun, but it’s more accomplishing to achieve something as a team than individually. In programming, you work in teams of four, and I enjoy the collaborative aspect a lot,” Nishimura said.

MAY 2014 A&E 15

west high’s favorite tunes

WSS asked students the song that best summed up their year. COMPilED by//lucy blair, Nick Deerberg & megumi kitamoto photo by//nick deerberg

“adore you” miley cyrus

It reminds me of summer and of my friends as well.”

I heard her sing this at a concert in chicago, and i had a lot of fun.” -Jenna Mott ’16

-Will Scott ’16

“wagon wheel” darius rucker

this song brings back memories of having a lot of fun with friends.” -Kiana Wilson ’15

16 A&E MAY 2014

“i’m in it” kanye west

My year has been both sweet and sour, and that’s what kanye means [in this song].”

-Grace Tafolla ’15

Blowing off school work has unforeseen consequences.”

“early retirement” handguns

Because this year sucks and I’m totally done with it, which is what the song says.” -Willie Oxley ’16

-Harry Manaligod ’15

“unforeseen consequences” joel nielsen

“dark horse” katy perry

it brings back memories of blasting it on the radio in the car.”

-Will Peterson ’17

“my boy builds coffins” florence + the machines

i like the deeper meaning throughout the entire song.”

“pursuit of happiness” lissie

“don’t stop believin’” journey

I like this song a lot because it is very inspirational.” -Olivia Moore ’17

-Isaac Mattes ’16


Paint it white

by ebony mckeever wss intern

No matter how many times it happens or how different the circumstances, one thing never changes — I always know what they’re about to ask. Often preceded by a twitch of the lips and a bit of awkward shuffling, it’s said, almost jokingly — “...SOOoOOo… like, why do you always act so white?” Whoa. Wait. What. However many times I’ve heard this question I’m almost always at a loss for words when it comes up. First of all, I was unaware that in order to qualify as a certain race a person had to fulfill a set of requirements that someone decided to relate to that race, and if they didn’t meet all of those predetermined standards they were suddenly not that race anymore. Not only is that mindset inherently discriminatory and racist, but it also reveals a lot about what might be going on in the offender’s head. If a person’s behavior doesn’t match up perfectly with someone’s preconceived stereotypes of that race, is it really so surprising that a person actually has to inquire as to why they act the way they do? Is it so unnerving that they are driven to labeling a fellow human being as a different race just so they feel can more comfortable and still uphold their skewed perspective of races? But the real question of this situation is, what was the personality that they had assigned to me before knowing me personally, the stereotype that they expected me to fulfill simply because of my race? To assign certain characteristics to each individual race is oppressive to say the least, and if someone appears who fails to fit into one of those neat little boxes, they will undoubtedly be assigned a different DESIGN by//Kelsey Keranen

race that others deem more “fit” for their behavior, when in reality they will never be anything more or anything less than their own original race. Besides that fact, the central belief that someone can act like anything other than their own race is flawed. Putting restrictions on what is qualified for that race is essentially the same as limiting the achievements of a group of people and putting them in a lower place in the view of other people.

I was unaware that in order to qualify as a

certain race

a person had to fulfill a set of requirements.”

So, next time you’re tempted to accuse someone of acting outside the parameters of what you qualify as acceptable for them, remember the inherent negative connotations of that statement and how negatively it will probably reflect on you. To save yourself some embarrassment, just think to yourself for a moment and then firmly decide to just not.

Opinion opinion

By anthony pizzimenti

I quite honestly don’t know how to begin this with some sort of prime metaphorical example of excellence, so I’m just going to get right to it. Make your opinions your own. Don’t base them on what you see or hear or gain by osmosis or whatever. Do your research, put at least a smidge of effort into your banter, and then you can tell the world what you think. Also, essay-writing is hard. It takes work. You have to read a book, come up with conclusions about it, write three lines, look at SparkNotes for themes and quotes, and keep writing. But at least it’s looking through the book, right? The quotes aren’t made up, the line numbers are kind of real, and the conclusions are mostly well-thought and concisely stated in the thesis. This thesis is an opinion. It’s an argument based on sourced information, with counter arguments and facts and all that jazz, and the professor reads it. He gives you a letter grade that doesn’t start the word you use every time you drop your phone, and the cycle is complete. And all your opinions are just like theses. Now, going out and preaching your Othello thesis in the middle of the halls or to your friends or on TV would make you look like a friggin’ nut. However, what you say about current societal issues and other people has an effect, and it sticks. A good, solid, verbal opinion on something you see or hear about every day is a thesis: it’s an argument based on sourced information, with counter arguments and facts and all that jazz. It’s not something you read on Twitter

feeds or the front page of The Onion. Take affirmative action. Most people are saying that it should be illegal and it’s racist and everything. Just … take a step back and think about writing an essay on affirmative action. A thesis condemning it would say that it’s racially charged and that it’s a civil rights violation, right? But what’s the counterargument? A simple one is that the reason affirmative action was implemented was to provide young minority kids with role models, to see someone with garner success and achievement, and so they strive to get there too. See? Easy to come up with, but just as easy to overlook. We’re taught how to write essays, sure. Do this, put this here, this is why you shouldn’t sleep in class, that stuff. This skill translates to the real world. Forming views on anything, simple or complex, should be thought about just like a thesis. We’re taught how, so why not do it? I don’t know. Make up a thesis for yourself.

opinion MAY 2014 17

May 21, 2014 regular issue  

West Side Story's May 2014 issue