In today’s episode of the Daily Dose, juniors Grace Scheidler and Grace Bentley discuss Library fees, cheerleading tryouts, birthday shout-outs, and the athletic schedule of LFHS.
The funny thing about routines is that, eventually, they are all broken. An early morning habit of, say, brushing your teeth within the minute of rolling out of bed or the habitual run to Dunky D for a medium roast may be your ritual for months or years, but like all things in life, they must stop at some time.
For Mrs. Tamara McHaney of the Science and Special Education Department of LFHS, her routine of almost thirty three years is almost at its end. This spring Mrs. McHaney is retiring from Lake Forest High School alongside two other faculty members. While her goodbye is tragic, the impact–and happiness–that Mrs. McHaney will leave on LFHS is indelible.
For those who do not know her, Mrs. McHaney is a true triple threat at LFHS: she’s been a special education teacher in the LRC since her first year working here, along with teaching environmental science and coaching various sports throughout the years.
This year is, simply put, Mrs. McHaney’s senior year. “I’m feeling fantastic,” Mrs. McHaney confided. “I told my kids at the beginning of the year that I’m graduating with them.”
Throughout the entirety of Mrs. McHaney’s tenure, there have been five different principals, four athletic directors, five superintendents, a teacher’s strike, and the construction of the whole athletic wing, pool, and commons. McHaney–a kindly woman with a deep, amiable laugh–has seen it all at LFHS.
“Literally, everything that could have changed has,” Mrs. McHaney laughed, studying the walls of the school around her, recalling the LFHS of her past. “A lot of my colleagues have retired and a lot of new people have started working here.”
Fellow staff and teachers–as well as physical hallways and classrooms–have come and gone, and so have her students. Every year, McHaney receives 24 special education students on her caseload with whom she works with on schoolwork and studying help. She works with six to eight students a day on an individual basis.
However, Mrs. McHaney has a perk that many other teachers in the high school do not–as a special ed. teacher, she works with the same student from their first day of freshman year to their last day of senior year. As a result, Mrs. McHaney gets to know her students on a truly personal level. She knows what they they love and what makes them tick, she rejoices in their success, and when there are setbacks, she works hard to ensure that they get back on track.
The amount of respect and trust between Mrs. McHaney and her students is unparalleled in other student-teacher relationships.
“I love it,” she said, fondly overseeing her humming classroom.“They are able to get to know who I am, and I them, and they trust me more. It gets real personal, you know.”
Just the mere presence of the students in her classroom is a true testament to the care and effort that Mrs. McHaney puts into the job, and the love that is reciprocated by her students in return. The period was just a free period for Mrs. McHaney, not a scheduled LRC class–yet, her students had come in on their own free time to get help on their homework and chat with Mrs. McHaney.
“Both of my parents were educators, and that’s what drew me to it initially,” Mrs. McHaney said of decision to teach special education. “But I also had a brother who was born with profound intellectual disabilities. So, I think because of that I was drawn even closer to the job.”
The Eastern Illinois University and Saint Xavier University grad, born in Mount Vernon, Illinois, (“A small, small town about 330 miles south of here,” McHaney cracked) spent one year at another school before coming over the LFHS in 1984 as a special education teacher.
Special education, Mrs. McHaney explained, is not a field that you can learn from college lectures and textbook readings.
“Sure, you learn the paperwork in college,” Mrs. McHaney said. “And that’s one of the challenging things, the paperwork. They change how we write our IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) frequently, so we always have to change with that. But you don’t learn how to teach in college. That is on-the-job training. You meet the students, and they teach you.”
Undoubtedly, the students are an integral aspect of the job. Regardless if they are her special ed. students or her science students, Mrs. McHaney has entered work everyday with the goal to improve the lives of her students, either through education or via simply being a helping hand and a guiding voice.
Not to say, however, that the job is without it’s struggles. “Everything is unpredictable. When you’re working with so many different students–all of them with varying needs–then everyday can be unpredictable.”
Mrs. McHaney paused. “Nothing is status quo here.”
It would be wrong to say that teaching is not a taxing job, but no matter the challenges, there is one aspect of the job that McHaney finds the most rewarding: keeping in touch with her students once they’re out of high school. They return from college, regaling stories of the success they’ve found, whether it be in school or their career; they tell of the happiness they have found in life–happiness that they have found, in part, from the support and guidance of Mrs. McHaney.
“They see me and tell me their success stories, basically. They tell me about their jobs and their families. We even keep in contact through LinkedIn,” Mrs. McHaney chuckled. “But that’s what I want to see, that they’re happy.”
While she may no longer be an everyday-character in the halls and classrooms of LFHS in her retirement, Mrs. McHaney does not plan on disappearing from the community entirely. She will continue her position as the LFHS girl’s golf coach, a job that she holds dear. Throughout her thirty three years at Lake Forest, Mrs. McHaney has coached a plethora of different sports, including badminton, softball, and, most notably, Varsity field hockey, with whom she won six state championships.
“When you teach special ed., you meet a bunch of great students, but I wanted to know a variety of kids,” Mrs. McHaney said. “I liked seeing the kids work really hard and see these efforts come to fruition. I love coaching, it was probably one of my favorite parts of the job.”
Along with coaching, Mrs. McHaney plans on volunteering at her local food pantry, golfing on her own, and visiting her family in Texas. “[I’m] definitely going to get out of here for the winter. I’m going to keep busy.”
One morning in early June, Mrs. McHaney will break her routine for the first time in thirty three years and leave Lake Forest High School for the last time as a teacher. The goodbye will be bittersweet, but she is confident that she will walk away proud of the wisdom that she has passed on to her students, and of the wisdom they passed to her in turn.
“I learned from them patience and acceptance. I learned how to adapt to change, because we had to change all the time and I’ve learned to do that more often. This has been my entire career here, so it’s going to be extremely bittersweet leaving, I can tell you,” Mrs. McHaney imparted. “It’s going to be a different situation for me. I’ve never known anything else than Lake Forest High School.”
In her thirty three year tenure at Lake Forest High School, Mrs. McHaney has facilitated the development of happiness in her student’s lives. Few teachers’ presence at Lake Forest High School will be as sorely missed as that of Mrs. McHaney; few would be able to deny the impact that Mrs. McHaney will leave on not only her students, but LFHS as an institution.
Upon that remark, Mrs. McHaney smiled softly, gazing out at her kids in front of her. “I sure hope I left an impact, for the better. That was my goal.”
Grace Bentley and Hadley Seymour provide you with all of the day’s news at LFHS, including the opening night of Urinetown, the spring musical, AP Tests looming, and the annual college t-shirt decision day, which will take place on Monday, May 1st. The girls also fill students in on the athletic schedule for Thursday, April 27 2017.
Watch “The Wall” in its entirety below.
According to Google, the standard Hollywood blockbuster takes around 15 months to complete from start to finish. The first few months are dedicated to pre-production–casting, writing, principal planning–and around two months for shooting. Add a couple of weeks for financing or shooting problems, special shots, and other inevitable delays, and you’ve got quite a while to go before the film can be released to the world. A thirty minute sitcom, a la Parks and Rec or How I Met Your Mother, takes five 10-12 hour days a week to shoot per episode.
On the other hand, a Lake Forest High School New Media video takes, on average, six weeks to complete. It depends on the project, of course, but within the relatively short timeframe of five to six weeks, a student director, assisted by their New Media peers, comes up with the idea, writes the script, finds actors, sets, and props, and shoots, edits, completes, and uploads a video all their own.
It’s a daunting task for sure, but these New Media students have become pros–nuanced over the course of multiple semesters in the class–are accustomed to the hassles and hectic schedules that come with the class. Every year, however, a select group of New Media students participate in a competition that takes everything they know about filming and schedules and flips it on its head: the aptly-named 7 Day Challenge, in which they have to create and submit a whole video for a regional competition in a week.
There are two central prompts for the Midwest Media Educator Association’s 7 Day Challenge that the applicants must work off of: every film submitted must include a given line of dialogue and a certain prop featured in at least five shots, and the video has to be less than seven minutes. The rest–the tone, the genre, the dialogue–is all left to the creative decisions of the New Media students.
This year, the prop was a stapler, and the line, “It’s not my fault.” While specific, the two unconnected elements opened a whole world of possibility for the Lake Forest New Media team who participated in the competition.
From Monday, March 6th, to 10 o’clock the following Monday night, four New Media veterans–Annalise Craig, Bailey Lawrence, Clara Finley, Colin Gregg, and Whitney Perschke–aided by friends and other New Media students, took the lead on production after one New Media class comprised of many students brainstormed the idea together. In fact, 23 students in total signed on to be a part of the project. Craig was the director, Lawrence the cinematographer, Finley the script supervisor, Gregg the fine tune editor, and Perschke the assistant director and lead actress.
The final result was “The Wall”, a profoundly moving, beautifully shot, and impressively lengthy short film. It follows a grandmother (played by the lovely Mrs. Kathy O’Hara), a woman with Alzheimer’s struggling to remember a past that is slipping away from her, and her granddaughter, Ellie, a high school senior and avid photographer who is documenting her life in photos before she leaves for college. Both women are grappling with the past they’re terrified of leaving behind while simultaneously looking for ways memorialize the present they hold so dear.
It is an emotional piece, one whose reflections on ideas such as anticipation of the future, sentimentality of the past, and a familial love for a grandparent and their own story they have to tell make it stirring for everybody who watches it.
“[The story] was mainly inspired by my grandma,” Bailey explained. “I grew up witnessing her struggle with Alzheimer’s and through those years, I was able to learn so much about her. In a way, it sort of brought us closer. When I pitched the idea to Annalise, Clara, and the New Media class, we all decided it would be an important, relatable, and impactful story to tell.”
As with any lengthy and complex project, there was a certain type of pressure–and a unique sense of satisfaction–that came with the production of the film. As Clara Finley elucidated, “It feels like you’re part of a real movie shoot, with complicated scheduling and abundant equipment, and the absolute urgency of every minute. Suddenly, nothing except the challenge is priority. Not only do we have to create something with an engaging storyline but we have to write it knowing that we will have to be able to film it all in two or three days.”
Ideation and writing occurred in the first few days of the week, during class periods and over group texts. With the help from fellow New Media peers such as Renee Ye (actress and production designer), Genevieve Kyle (production designer), Jack Bailey (production designer), Cameron Redding (actor and script supervisor), Masha Zhuravleva (production coordinator), and Quinn Dailey and Van Staunton (production assistants) filming was ready to begin by the weekend.
“This was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on set creating a video,” Annalise said. “We all could joke around really easily, but we also could get serious quickly and be productive.”
From Friday to Sunday, there was around a total of 18 hours dedicated to filming alone, in multiple sets that included the halls of LFHS and the Craig household. And once the filming was finished, the editing began: the perfect scenes were picked out of the footage, shots were compiled,with the help of Colin Gregg (sound and editing), and music–some of it original pieces by LFHS senior Spencer Schmid–was added on top. After a long Monday evening of editing and polishing, the video was complete and ready for submission–under seven minutes long, with five shots of a stapler and the line “It’s not my fault”. Despite the very limited timeframe, the New Media crew had completed the challenge.
“We all really rely on each other’s abilities; we help and support each other and I think it shows in our end products, especially with this video,” Clara observed. “It seems to have struck a real chord in the community.”
“The Wall” has been published for only little more than a week and half, but it has already accumulated close to 15,000 views. The video has resonated with all who have seen it; it has been flooded with praise for its touching story and acting, the exquisite shots, and fine directing. It is undoubtedly a polished, even professional piece–it’s easy to forget that that it was all accomplished in a week.
This article was co-written by the Forest Scout editorialists Grace Scheidler and Grace Bentley.
Alright, so the truth is that Hamilton is a once-in-a-generation kind of musical. It’s more than an exceptional soundtrack, an inventive script, or a talented cast featuring a surprise powerhouse tenor. It’s an unparalleled trifecta of history and culture and the human experience, written and composed by (not to mention starring) one unbelievably talented individual by the name of Lin Manuel Miranda. Because of this, it’s easy to see why Hamilton has held the world in rapt attention for the past year and a half, spellbound by the diverse cast of historical figures reborn against a backdrop of rap battles and revolutions. While many of you reading this may still be in the throes of your obsession, and might deny ever getting sick of the musical, the day will come when the sound of Lin’s voice will grate against your ears, and the thought of listening to “The Schuyler Sisters” one more time makes your head ache. While you very well may never get over your love of Hamilton, you might get sick of it. And though there’s nothing out there that’s quite able to top Hamilton, here’s a few musicals to get obsessed with in the meantime.
Dear Evan Hansen
Track Count: 14
Few plots are as tragic as the one featured in this particular musical. Dear Evan Hansen revolves around our teenaged protagonist, Evan Hansen. Plagued by severe social anxiety, he struggles to find his way in his family and in school, and his therapist recommends he write letters to himself as a means of coping with his anxiety–hence, the title of the musical. When one of his therapy letters ends up in the pocket of a classmate (Connor Murphy) when he’s found after committing suicide, people take it as the classmate’s suicide note and assume Evan and Connor were best friends that no one knew about. In reality, Evan and Connor hadn’t spoken more than a few words to each other in passing, but Evan, tragically desperate for human connection and acceptance, takes the opportunity to insert himself into the Murphy family. While following the rise (and inevitable fall) of Evan’s plan, the musical wrestles with unrequited love, a sister refusing to grieve for her somewhat abusive brother, and two mothers watching their respective families fall apart and not knowing how to fix it. The underlying theme of acceptance, of finding your place in the world, is one that hits very close to home as well. While this short explanation offers the bare bones of the story, a plot synopsis read-through on Wikipedia is recommended before listening to truly understand the meaning behind each song. The emotion with each and every song (there’s only 14) is palpable, raw, and utterly gut-wrenching at times. Ben Platt, the lead–who you may recognize as the dorky magician roommate from Pitch Perfect–offers a killer combo in stellar vocals and passionate delivery. A few standout songs (though they’re all incredible) have got to be “Waving through a Window”, in which Evan’s loneliness tugs right at the heartstrings; “If I Could Tell Her”, where Evan details all of the reasons he’s in love with Connor’s sister, Zoe; “You Will Be Found”, a song that is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time; and finally, “Words Fail”, in which Evan’s devastating self-deprecation never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Well, if all of this hasn’t convinced you to give Dear Evan Hansen a listen, I don’t know what will.
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812
Track count: 27
Not many musicals can claim to be on the same level of weird Hamilton does–let’s be real, from an objective point of view, nothing sounds stranger for a plot of a smash musical than a hip-hop/R&B/classic Broadway show following the rise and fall of the forgotten founding father Alexander Hamilton. Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, however, gets pretty darn closer to being as eccentric, if not even more. This 2012 musical, written and composed by David Malloy, is a splendidly eclectic, self-described electronic-pop-opera following a small section–Volume 2, Part 5–of Leo Tolstoy’s 1,225 page masterpiece War and Peace. The characters, as numerous and complex in the musical as they are in the novel, are skillfully and simply introduced in the rousing, accordion-set “Prologue” that explains the premise of the story to come. Natasha is young, and she loves her absentee fiance, Prince Andrey, who is off fighting in the Napoleonic War, with all her heart. Pierre–dear, bewildered, unhappily married, and an alcoholic among other things–is Andrey’s friend, suffering a bit of an existential crisis as he sits at home while the war wages on. Andrey is gone, and Natasha is young; enter the dashing Anatole, a 19th century playboy, with whom Natasha quickly becomes infatuated. Knowing the dire consequences of such “love”, Pierre and Natasha’s friends scramble to end the affair that is destined to end in heartbreak and scandal. Without delving too much into the spoilers of the scandal and conflict that ensues, it is sufficient to say that the musical is one thrill of ride. At times stirring and beautiful, as in Natasha’s aria “No One Else” (stunningly performed in the album recording by the breathtaking Phillipa Soo of Hamilton) and the heartrending masterpiece of a final song, “The Great Comet of 1812”; other times electrifying and modern, as in the beat-driven, electronic “The Duel” and “Letters”. The musical ranges from modern to classical Broadway to Russian folk, from touching to exhilarating. Malloy frequently uses direct lines, even paragraphs, from War and Peace as 3rd person narrations sung by the characters to give a refreshing insight to their minds (the last 3 songs are all essentially taken straight from the book in verbatim). The Great Comet’s individual parts–the modern take on the Russian classic, the wonderfully odd mix of music genres, the superb musical performances–are great on their own, but it is the sum of its whole that makes it truly revolutionary.
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Track count: 23
If there was one word to use to describe the 2013 musical Hunchback of Notre Dame, it would be this: haunting. The first song, “Olim”, opens with a bell. A slow, powerful chime of a church bell, followed by another, and then another. Very softly, the cast begins chanting an echoing melody in Latin, in lieu of an classical Medieval choir, followed by higher, sweeter bells. But then the deeper bells return, an organ and trumpet thunder in, triumphant and grandiose, and the chanting picks up in an epic crescendo that sends shivers down the spine. Just like that, “Olim” flawlessly transitions into “The Bells of Notre Dame”, setting the stage for the exquisitely composed, ethereal piece of work that is 2013 Broadway musical Hunchback of Notre Dame. This 2013 musical, composed by Alan Menken, is an adaption of the 1997 Disney movie Hunchback of Notre Dame, which in turn is an adaption of Victor Hugo’s (yes, the same Victor Hugo who also wrote the novel-later-turned-Broadway-classic Les Miserables) Hunchback of Notre Dame, published in 1831. The plot is a tear jerking one; the tale centers on the tragic life of Quasimodo, a half-deaf hunchback who works the bells of the French cathedral Notre Dame. Quasimodo, essentially held prisoner by his guardian, the decidedly-unholy “holy” Archdeacon Claude Frollo, longs to live in the world that he has only ever seen from the bell towers of the Notre Dame. When he escapes one day and meets the beautiful dancer Esmeralda, Quasimodo is finally exposed to all that life has to offer–danger, humiliation, sacrifice, grief, and, ultimately, love. Michael Arden shines as Quasimodo, perfectly encapsulating his both childlike innocence and longing for acceptance and love. His renditions of “Out There” and “Heaven’s Light” soar to unimaginable heights, bursting with emotion and wonder; his heartbreaking last few lines in the 13-minute long “Finale” never fail to bring tears to my eyes. Patrick Page is chilling as Frollo and stuns in what is probably the best villain song of all time, “Hellfire”; Ciara Renee is, well, a Disney princess, beautiful and passionate in “God Help the Outcasts” and the new song “Someday”. Hunchback is a dark musical–it grapples with themes of lust, religious persecution, sin, and psychological abuse–but that and the simply astounding music make it one of my absolute favorites.
The Last Five Years
Track count: 14
The most frustrating thing about musical soundtracks–to me, at least–is when you fall in love with a musical only to find out it’s only playing in some indie theater in downtown NYC. With my only disposable income coming from odd babysitting jobs here and there, a plane ticket to New York for a show is not exactly practical–which brings me to my point. This particular musical has an amazing film adaptation starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, with a soundtrack that’s definitely on-par with other Broadway hits. No plot synopsis is necessary, then, to grasp the meaning behind the songs, which streamlines the path to musical obsession. The concept behind this musical is innovative, if confusing at times. It’s centered around a couple and the timeline of their relationship over the last five years–hence the title. Cathy’s perspective begins at the end of the their relationship, and works backwards throughout the rest of the movie/soundtrack/musical, ultimately ending the day after their first date. Jamie, on the other hand, starts at the beginning of their relationship and ends with him skipping town with his book publisher. Anna Kendrick does a wonderful job pouring emotion and giving gravity to the songs she sings, particularly with the opening song, “Still Hurting”, and later on, with the heartbreaking “See I’m Smiling.” Throughout the musical it’s a constant tug-of-war between Jamie and Cathy, and which side the audience is on. However, having watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack a fair amount of times, I’ve gotta give it to Anna Kendrick’s character. There’s something about the way she opens the musical in such anguish, and the way her sadness punctuates even the happier times of their relationship, like in “A Summer in Ohio” and “A Part of That”. If you’ve got time this weekend, I highly recommend giving the movie a watch and the soundtrack a listen. You won’t regret it.
OTHER HIGHLY RECOMMENDED MUSICALS:
In the Heights
Lin Manuel Miranda / 2008 / 27 tracks
Beauty and the Beast
Alan Menken / 1994 / 23 tracks
The Book of Mormon
Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone / 2011 / 16 tracks
Video courtesy of the LFHS New Media Department.
Turns out, there isn’t as much of a difference between a first grader and a high schooler as you might think. Sure, the difference in height might be a bit extreme, and our opinions on naps may have taken a complete 180, but some things never change. For example, ask a first grader their thoughts on their favorite part of the school day.
What’s the best part about school? A short moment of hesitation, mentally running through the many activities and lessons of a school day, and then a definite answer with a mischievous grin: “Going home!”
Ask your average high schooler, and they will give an answer with very similar sentiments.
By the time we hit junior year of high school, first grade, believe it or not, was exactly 10 years ago. No matter the elementary school we went to, the experience was pretty universal: there were some cringe-worthy aspects–braces, unfortunate fashion statements (remember Silly Bandz and Crocs?)–but, overall, remembered as a time of innocent happiness and joy for the simple things in life.
(Not to say that high school is place completely devoid of happiness and joy, but the hectic schedule and homework doesn’t help…)
We emerge from those ten years as full-grown high schoolers, and as we look into colleges and our futures as adults, we can’t help but look back at our childhood with fondness.
Knowing that I can’t physically go back in time to ask my six year-old self my thoughts on the future and my day-to-day activities, I decided to do the next best thing and ask the first graders of 2017 instead–what’s the best thing about first grade? The absolute worst thing? How’s the homework load? What do you think high school will be like? What are you most excited for?
On a sunny Thursday afternoon I, accompanied by my fellow Forest Scout writers Grace Scheidler and Erika Marchant, as well as a small New Media group who were coming to film the interviews, walked a quarter of a mile down the road from the high school to Sheridan Elementary School to peek into the daily life of a first grader.
The classroom, upon arrival, was a bright and cheerful place, full of lively chatter and laughter. (It was a small class, a boy, Thatcher, later told us–only 19 kids. His brother’s kindergarten class had 27!)
Colorful motivational posters hung alongside the students’ hand drawn artwork on the walls, the chairs and tables maxing out at about 2 and ½ feet tall, and their backpacks resting in cubbies in the side of the room. The first graders were scattered across the classroom in their end-of-the-day Extra Learning Time (ELT), reading books to one another, writing on their own, and playing math games.
After introducing ourselves to the class, we took our seats at the miniscule tables, turned on a voice recording memo on our phones, and delved into the world of Ms. Volpe’s first grade class.
Right off the bat, the general consensus was that first grade, for the most part, was not hard. However, there were some aspects that made it a lot tougher than kindergarten. “Well, I know the worst part about first grade–it’s the homework!” One girl named Sarah declared. “It’s not hard though. And we only get them on Mondays.” Her classmate Claire chimed in, “Ooh, and also in first grade, there’s also a lot more learning and less time to play.”
At the time of the interview, Ms. Volpe’s class had just finished learning about the Pilgrims, and were also learning math, reading, writing, and typing. It was immediately made obvious that the types of students never really change, no matter if it’s elementary or high school. One boy, when asked what they were studying, shrugged and grinned. “I don’t pay attention.” Another, however, exclaimed about the Pilgrims unit, “It was fun! We got to make books and posters, we could also like make a piece of paper and make trees and stuff. They’re on the wall there!”
High school, surprisingly, was not thought of much by the first graders of Ms. Volpe’s class. High schoolers, according to them, only ever played sports (many of them had seen their siblings play for the Scouts or been a waterboy at a football game), did homework, and babysat.
Not the exactly the coolest things they could be doing, according to two boys, Thatcher and Egan.
“Do you think high schoolers are cool?”
“Not really,” they laughed.
However, Thatcher and Egan didn’t know much about what exactly made a person “cool”. “I don’t know, but I know what the weird kids do. They wear sunglasses!”
“Inside, or just any time?”
“Inside,” Thatcher clarified.
Egan added, “Nobody would recognize them.”
There weren’t many aspects about being 16 that the first graders knew of and were excited about either. They are, however, more than eager to step behind the wheel and hit the streets of Lake Forest with the freedom only a driver’s license can grant.
“Where would you go if you could drive?”
“Ooh,” said one girl, Francesca, “if I could drive, I would go to Sweets everyday!”
“Hmm,” responded another girl, Cyla, “I could go…no, I couldn’t go to Paris because that’s across the ocean…I would go to the airport!”
Just because the first graders didn’t think much about high school did not mean that they didn’t plan just a bit ahead for the future. Thatcher and Egan, for example, had some pretty good ideas about what they wanted to do when they were older.
“Hockey player, maybe football player,” Thatcher said. “Mad scientist maybe…They mostly do funny stuff. Like a mad scientist came in the gym and did funny stuff. Remember the cat with the rocket?”
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking about!” Egan responded. “I might want to be a magician.”
“What would you guys do with one million dollars?
Egan giggled, “I’d get something that costs two million dollars.”
“You’d spend it all on one thing!?”
“Only if it was awesome,” Egan assured us.
Thatcher, however, had different plans. “I’d build my own tree house. And get a lot of Nerf guns. Have you ever got shot by a Nerf gun in the eye?”
“Have you ever been shot by a Nerf gun that shoots two bullets in the eye?” Egan grinned, his laughter joining the rest of the laughter that filled the sunny classroom.
In that brief hour we spent in Ms. Volpe’s animated first grade classroom, bursting with the life of the first graders that learned and grew in the class-art adorned walls and 2 and a ½ feet tall tables, we were transported, for a brief time, back to the simply joys of childhood and the excitement for life that comes with it. Simple joys such as buying ice cream from Sweets because we have a car that can get us there, playing football with our friends at recess, or winning a million dollars and buying nothing but nerf guns and tree houses. Simple joys that can remind us of the carefree laughter and wonder of childhood (even if they are just wondering if you’ve ever been shot by a nerf gun in the eye).
I must admit, I’ve been a bit of a failure. Actually, no, not a bit of a failure–a huge failure. The time has come for me to apologize.
Dear Diary, I’m sorry. I got you four years ago off of Anthropologie’s books and candles table with nothing but eagerness and pure enthusiasm; you had enticed me with your floral design and deckle-edged pages, your gold cursive font and soft leather cover. Your blank pages were just waiting for me to fill them with my deepest thoughts, rawest emotions, and hidden dreams.
And for the first three weeks, I was good! I wrote entry after entry about my day and what had made me happy and devastated me and everything in between. I vented about the latest spat with my parents, obsessed over inconsequential crushes, and wrote checklists planning what I was going to do the next weekend.
But then, Diary, one night, I must have been too tired. Laziness must have overpowered me, and instead of fervently writing out another entry, I took one long look at you and decided, nah, not tonight. The following night, sure, I might have written in you, but it was with a different feeling: I saw you as a burden, not a way to let loose and organize my thoughts. That night after, I didn’t write in you. You remained on my bedside table, until one day I cleaned up my room and placed you on my bookshelf, and there you have remained ever since.
What makes you so hard to write in, Diary? You shouldn’t be as difficult to commit to as you are–writing a couple of entries a week of nothing more than an account of the day and whatever problem is stressing me at the time should be easy; cathartic, even. So why can’t I bring myself to write? I know that I want to record my day to prove that that day had happened, and it won’t fade away in my memories; I know that writing a journal would help me organize my past thoughts and future goals. There is no way that writing in you could not benefit me, Diary. What’s the problem here?
Now, I won’t say in the years I’ve had you, after those first three weeks, I’ve left you completely on your own. On the days when I’m filled with frustration and disappointment after a bad track meet, or insanely giddy after finishing my last final and finally being able to enjoy summer, I have written an entry or two. But those are when my emotions are at their most extreme, and when writing is the only alternative from yelling them in my room at eleven at night.
Because, Diary, that’s the beauty in writing in you: I feel, when writing an entry, like I’m talking to somebody. That what I’m writing down on these empty pages isn’t just going to on a piece of plain white paper (deckled-edged as it may be) but to a faceless, omniscient somebody who may not respond to my thoughts but is at least listening to them.
It seems that for me, laziness does play a role in my abandoning of diaries, but not in the way I would think: writing in a diary seems to become more a confession than anything else–something that is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I don’t know if I want to dedicate myself to doing that every single day.
So, Diary, I’m going to be honest. When I say sorry, I don’t know if I’m saying sorry to you (you are, after all, not really a faceless, omniscient entity, but just a bound collection of blank sheets set between two covers), or apologizing to myself. I love the idea of writing down my thoughts, and I know doing so well help me tenfold in organizing both my memories and goals. Writing in you may take work, but I know that in the end, it is worth it.
Hopefully, I’ll see you soon.
Even before I met Kimie Han, I heard her. Well, not her specifically–I heard the piano. The music, barely muffled by the practice room’s insulated walls, was a lively, rolling piece, moving between fast and slow, yearning and exuberant. Sitting at the piano was a head of long dark hair, leaning over the instrument in perfect form, fingers flying over the ivory keys. No music sat on the piano rack, she was playing from memory.
The piece, I later learned, was the fourth movement of Beethoven’s fourth sonata (nicknamed the Grand Sonata). It was just practice, something to spend the time before the interview was set to begin.
Even while I only heard a tiny bit before the interview began, it didn’t sound like practice; it sounded learned, professional even. If anything, it sounded like there had been many hours of practice into that piece, into the form, into the exact curve of her wrist.
And in that, I discovered I was not wrong: Kimie Han has had lots and lots of hours of practice. Over 10 years worth, in fact.
Kimie started lessons at the tender age of five, but, she says, she was too young to remember the first time she played the piano. “I first started playing piano when I was a baby. My parents used to have an electric keyboard at the house and I would just sit there and bang on the piano for a long time,” Kimie described with a laugh. “It got to the point where my parents were like ‘we can’t handle this noise,’ and they sent me to the piano lessons. I’ve been playing piano for about ten years now.”
To say that the fifteen year old Lake Forest sophomore has reached success in the 10 years she’s played would be a gross understatement. With the help of her two teachers, Brenda Huang (Kimie’s teacher since she was five) and New England Conservatory’s Alexander Korsantia, Kimie has reached not only local and national acclaim, but world-wide recognition for her classical piano performances.
However, her list of accomplishments–which could span nearly 2 pages in length itself–doesn’t quite capture the whole story of her progression and rise throughout music. At ten, she played her first solo. “I was ten, and it was at the the Chicago Public Library,” Kimie mentioned, breaking into foreboding laughter. “It was my first one hour solo concert and I remember I was not prepared. I mean, I was just a little kid! There was all this crying the night before. It was bad.”
At twelve, Kimie graduated to something a bit more large scale than the library: a performance of a Mendelssohn piece with the Oistrach Symphony Orchestra at DePaul University.
And from there, through a swirl of camps, conservatories, and performances, her repertoire only grew. In the following years, Kimie played at venues like Ravinia, Northwestern, and even at the Pritzker Pavilion of Millennium Park with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra after winning the CSO 2015 National Youth Audition. She was a selectee for the the prestigious Lang Lang International Music Foundation camp in Barcelona in 2014, and received a Year 1 Merit scholarship from the Chopin Foundation in 2014. By the age of 15, Kimie Han has a resume most college-aged musicians could only dream of having.
But most recently, Kimie took part in the Tchaikovsky Youth Competition in winter of 2015, which, in honor of the composer that competition was named after, was in snowy Novosibirsk, Russia. “Oh yeah,” Kimie laughed, shaking her head. “Everybody wants to know about Russia.” Her first remark about the Siberian city? “It was cold.”
She much prefered the warmer climates of the world. “Every summer I go to summer music camps and last year I went to one in Totti, Italy. It was so nice!” Kimie smiled. “Yeah, two weeks on an Italian mountain in a beautiful village. It was great.”
But for every quaint Mediterranean village or jaw-dropping international venue, there were days upon days of work and dedication for Kimie. One example–in order to practice with Korsantia, Kimie has to fly out to Boston once a month to take lessons with the world renowned pianist. She has a reduced school schedule to keep periods 1 and 2 as free periods in order to make time for the 3-4 hours of practice she has per day. On weekends, she aims for 5-6 hours.
To have such dedication and love for, well, anything, can be incomprehensible–but for Kimie, it’s just part of a day in the life. At this point, music is a part of her soul. For a while, Kimie admitted, she didn’t know if she felt the whole “this-is-my-life” feeling about piano.
“But when I was 13,” she continued, “I decided this is what I want to do, so then I started putting my heart and soul into it and really began trying to get good.”
Not to say, however, that her love for piano transcends all of the more negative aspects of playing. “The piano is a great instrument, and I love it, but it’s pretty lonely,” Kimie admitted. “You’re always playing solo or concerto, and you’re not in the orchestra.”
The piano is a solitary instrument, if anything. A player is not performing with a stand partner or even directly under the arm of the conductor, nor do they get to practice with a group; it’s often just them and their teacher.
So, when she was in elementary school, Kimie picked up the violin in her free time–an instrument that promised to land her in the full-swing action of the orchestra. At LFHS, she can be found leading the symphony orchestra in the first chair violin seat, hitting all the notes that the other violinists struggle to, or teaching violin to less privileged kids through an MYA (Midwest Young Artist) musician program.
Through violin, Kimie has been able to enjoy the parts of the musical life that piano can’t provide–a chance to work with others, to sit with friends, guided directly by a conductor, instead of sitting far from the crowd, playing and practicing alone.
For most child-prodigies, it would be expected for them to go to college and then go professional, and build up an amazing international resume, and possibly dabble in composing pieces. But what to do when the international resume is already achieved? Well, Kimie knows for sure that she wants to be a professional concert pianist. And, for sure, no composing. While you can find Kimie in the orchestra room for the orchestra class, she won’t be there for music theory.
“Oh, I did,” she responded, chuckling and shaking her head, when I asked if she ever wanted to compose. ”A very long time ago, but that boat sunk very fast. I don’t know, music theory is just not my thing.”
She has no specific college planned yet, nor a specific orchestra, but as of right now, she’s aiming to get into the esteemed Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, a school that accepts 2-3 musicians per major, and produces virtuosos that are only the best of the best. It’s no small feat to get in, but it’s one that if anyone can accomplish, it’s Kimie.
But no matter where she goes, Kimie will always find a way back to the piano. She is as much a part of the piano as it is of her. A life without piano? A life, she replied, that is impossible to imagine. “Everything about my life is pretty much music,” Kimie answered, her hand resting on the piano behind her. “I don’t know how I would live without it if you took it away from me.”
As the interview commenced, I wished her luck for her Curtis audition and made my way back into the day-to-day life of LFHS. But as I walked away, I heard the piano cut through the silence, as Kimie began to practice again, right where she left off.
You can find out more information about Kimie as well as her upcoming performances right here on her website.
November 29th is National Square Dance Day.
Well do-si-do and swing your partner round and round, y’all, because today is National Square Dance Day.
Square dancing, for those who did not have to endure a gym unit of it or have never been to a barn dance (not too common in Lake Forest), is a style of dancing in which 4 couples, traditionally arranged in a square–hence the name–are cued through a series of steps by the beat of the music and a prompter, who calls out steps to the couples on the floor.
With 19 states having declared it their official state dance (including Illinois!) and the country drawl that comes to mind when reading the words “y’all” and “do-si-do”, it’s a commonly accepted belief that square-dancing is a quintessentially American activity.
For the most part, it is. While square dancing definitely blossomed and thrived in the saloons and barns of the American West, the roots of square dancing actually lie in the 17th century United Kingdom. In the royal courts, there would be 6 dancers who performed choreographed step-based dances which inspired the English country folk to do the same at their local dances, which in turn inspired the Scottish and Irish to create their own variations.
And then, as the passage to the New World opened up, the farmers and laborers of Ireland, Scotland, and England moved to America and brought over square dancing with them. As they settled in the ever-expanding western United States, square dancing obtained more set rules and well-known dances, a little fiddle and a lively beat, and eventually even the prompter to call out the steps, reminding the dancers to swing their partner round and round.
As humanity and our culture have evolved, so have our dance styles, and as with all other popular fads, square dancing has faded away out of the spotlight. Replaced by the polka and waltz, and eventually the semi-jumping-to-the-beat seen on the dance floor today, square dancing lays with the romanticized memories of the Old West and cowboys.
However, it’s not obsolete in the slightest–for those willing to don the cowboy boots, there are square dance lessons in Glenview and many square dances planned in the Chicago area–perfect for the upcoming prom and turnabout.
Happy National Square Dancing Day!
November 8th is Election Day in America.
America, the day has finally arrived. The election that seems to never end; an exhausting election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, filled with insults, twitter wars, too many memes to keep track of, and yet another scandal seemingly every 5 days, is reaching its draw tonight.
It has been a historic election if anything; if Trump wins, he will be the first president in over 60 years to be elected without prior experience in Washington in Congress; as well as the oldest president at 70; if Clinton takes the win, then she shall be the first female president of the United States. Voter turnout as well, has been record breaking, with nearly 40% of all votes coming in early.
Along with voting for our presidential and vice presidential picks, Illinois voters will also be deciding who shall be our Senators (Kirk vs. Duckworth) and Representatives (Dold vs. Schneider), our state senator (Morrison vs. Salzberg) and representatives (Drury vs. Blumenthal), even local Lake County offices.
Now, most of the Forest Scout high school readers, except for a few elder Seniors, are not of age to legally vote. Fortunately or not, we have been limited to participating in our school’s mock election, while eagerly watching online and on tv to see the polls come in and the votes tally.
It’s easy to mock or deride our democratic system after this nasty election, with two candidates sharply dividing Americans, or simply not inspiring any passion in Americans at all. However, today, on November 8th, we must remember and take pride in our democratic republic.
We, the people of the United States, hold the power to claim our future and see it go in the direction we wish. We as Americans have had this right since the day this country was established, and we shall continue to vote and have a say in our freedom and country. Through voting, we will fight for a better tomorrow for ourselves and the people that we love.
So vote today, on Tuesday, November 8th, if at all possible. If not, stay tuned, stay on top of it. (You can watch the live updates of results on basically any news channels or website, including ABC, CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, among many other live websites such as the New York Times or Buzzfeed).
Good luck, America, and happy Election Day.
To this day, I still remember one of the first horror stories I ever heard. It was a tale of a girl who always wore a ribbon around her neck, and the boy who was in love with her. Since childhood, the boy asked, why do you wear that ribbon around your neck? to which the girl replied, with a faint smile, that she would tell him later. This continued periodically ‘till the day she lay on her deathbed, and she finally answered her husband’s question and granted him permission to untie the ribbon. The husband complied–the bow came off, and so did her head.
I’ll be the first to admit it: this is probably one of the hokiest “horror” stories out there. It was printed in a book of scares for children, with (actually, rather cute) colored pictures on each page. However, at the tender age of 8, it disgusted me as much as it fascinated it me: the woman’s decapitated head held on by a mere ribbon, finally released on her deathbed.
I slowly came to realize the world of horror around me after that: at 10, my dad described a clown who hid in the sewers and terrorized kids’ dreams. At 12, my mother jokingly called me and my friends “children of the corn”. At 13, somebody referenced the human centipede, resulting in a quick reading of the plot summary and a very terrified 13 year old.
I was now exposed to the world of horror, and I had one question–why on Earth would people pay to watch their nightmares come to life? The demons, the blood, the brutal deaths, the hair-raising, the swelling crescendo of music as the killer appeared in the window… what was purpose of subjecting yourself to such horror? Why did we create it in the first place?
Of course, an answer lies in psychology. There are, apparently, three reasons why horror movies entice us: tension, relevance, and unrealism. Tension can be created by different audio or cinematographic elements, such as piercing background scores, gore, and shock; basically, the aspects that cause the heart to pound faster and the screams to become increasingly more frightened.
Relevance refers more to why the horror movie would be considered frightening in the first place. Is it because we see ourselves in the victim, or even in the villain? Is it because the horror on the screen reflects real-life current events in our society a little too closely? (Think: Purge: Election Year in the year of the 2016 presidential election.) Or is it because the film deals with universal human fears, ones that are ingrained in us, such as death, or animals with sharp teeth, or the unknown?
Finally, there is also a factor of unrealism that allures us to these movies: we pay entrance to watch a movie that we know, ultimately, is a movie, no matter how much we see of ourselves and our society on screen. We want to know that it’s not reality but a fabrication of precisely edited shots and chilling music coalescing together. In truth and simplicity, our screams were intentionally planned by an actor and director.
In 1994, there was an experiment in which college students, who had seen horror movies before, were shown real-life videos of excruciatingly grotesque videos of torture and death. The majority couldn’t make it to the end, not being able to handle the gruesomeness of the videos. However, only a few years earlier, the movie Silence of the Lambs, a movie of cannibalism, murder, and psychological terror, grossed almost $275 million worldwide. The difference? The documentaries shown to the students didn’t include grandiose orchestras and finely cut camera shots like those of The Exorcist.
However, I would argue this: movies are about the most interactive medium through which humanity’s thoughts and dreams are conveyed. They transport us to a new world, one submersed in sounds and visuals, plot and emotions. Through movies and the new worlds they create for us, we learn how to deal and navigate our world. Whether its conscious or subconscious, we pick up traits and ideas from movies and apply it in our life.
Horror movies follow the same idea, except that they embody not humanity’s hopes but our fears. In horror movies, the characters face our biggest terrors, may it be death, a demon, a serial killer, or even our childhood doll come to life with intent to kill. However, it is very unlikely that we will ever face something like that in our lives.
“Horror movies follow the same idea, except that they embody not humanity’s hopes but our fears.”
Nonetheless, we still fear them, and wonder how on Earth we would ever deal with our fears if they ever manifested. We turn to horror movies in a way to practice dealing with our fears, and for the thrill and adrenaline that comes with this state of apprehension, but stay grounded knowing that these “fears” remain a detailed orchestration of producers and cameras.
We pick up on what allows the protagonist to finally defeat the villain; through watching our desperate, traumatized protagonist face the serial killer head-on instead of futilely running away, we learn the importance of staying strong and fighting through pain and terror.
Of course, this also ties in with the relevant aspect of horror movies. Along with learning how to deal with the supernatural and psychopathic, we may be trying to learn and understand the sometimes scary world around us. No one knows how to deal with the world in a truly successful and confident way all on our own; there is an insatiable need to know how to figure out both the best and worst parts of the world, and horror movies help.
It is necessary to realize too that not everybody watches horror movies the same way; some people enjoy the artistry in which the story is told, some want to feel the pure emotion of terror, and some–of the more sadistic type (mostly male)–enjoy watching the gore and violence. Some people are like me and avoid the genre altogether, happy to view wondering from the outside why they remain appealing to begin with.
It could be anything. It could the aspects of tension, relevance, or unrealism, or maybe all three together. Maybe that’s why we are drawn to our nightmares and think about them long after our dream is done. Maybe it’s all psychological, maybe its all primal, maybe it’s disgust, maybe its fascination, maybe it’s an urge to understand our own world…or maybe, it could be we just want to know why the girl kept the ribbon tied around her neck for all those years.
October 27th is National Potato Day.
“Potatoes. Po-ta-toes. Mash em, boil ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew.”
In a holiday that I’m sure Samwise Gamgee and the other hobbits, as well as much of the Earth’s population, would enjoy, today we celebrate the tubular, starchy crop who may look like a unappetizing, dull brown lump, but is so much more.
Potatoes–long heralded as one of the greatest foods of this Earth–have found a niche in humanity’s heart. We love our potatoes; along with the Sam’s instructive explanations above of indeed mashing them, boiling them, and sticking them into our stews and soups, we also fry them, slice them, dice them, load them with cream, cover them in cheese, scallop them, bake them to a crisp.
While potatoes were grown by the native civilizations for centuries in the Americas, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue and sparked the Columbian Exchange, the potato, along with other products like coffee and chewing gum (read about them in our previous In Honor Of’s!), made its way to the “Old World” and the many citizens who had never tasted it before in their life.
And, to be honest, they didn’t know what to do with it at first. Sir Walter Raleigh came back from the New World to England and Queen Elizabeth I, proudly boasting of his miraculous new crop that, when cooked properly, was delicious and very inexpensive to make. The queen agreed to give a shot, and ordered a feast of ONLY potato-based recipes. However, the cooks did not know to not cook the potato’s poisonous leaves, and upon serving them, the whole court got violent food poisoning. The Queen promptly banned potatoes from the court.
However, Europeans eventually learned how to grow and cook the vegetables, and boy did the grow and cook them. For the rising empires and monarchs, a plant that not only seemed to have enough good things inside it to keep a person full and healthy, as well as being a crop that didn’t require perfect conditions (it is a root, afterall) or fertilizer for growth, was the perfect food to fuel a growing population. Historians have said that the introduction of potatoes ended the chance of food famine in northern Europe.
(Of course, when that one food that ends famine gets destroyed by another disease, then it will do quite the opposite of ending famines, as the Irish have so unfortunately figured out.)
Fast forward a couple hundred years and Thomas Jefferson introduced the White House to french fries (called les frites), Marie Antoinette wore a potato spud flower in her hair, and today it seems that our affinity for potatoes has only increased–not only are potatoes our #5 crop, the US has state nicknamed “the Potato State” (you gotta love Idaho).
We couldn’t sing praises of this starchy vegetable louder if we tried: we have come to point that we have a national day for it, and that we have potato-based recipes for every meal of the day! Here are crispy hashbrowns for breakfast, homemade fries for lunch, and twice-baked potatoes or gnocchi (potato pasta) for dinner.
Happy National Potato Day everybody!
October 24th is International United Nations Day.
71 years–for many exuberant Cubs fans, the number marks the long wait they have patiently endured since the last time their team made it to the World Series (way back in 1945) and win their first title since 1908.
1945 was a different time: even while Chicago personally mourned after the Cubs’ loss at the World Series, which was a “seemingly” long 37 years since their last title, they, along with the rest of the country, celebrated the end of World War II. The war ended in Europe with the fall of Nazi Germany in May, and the end of the war overall in September with the surrender of Japan.
On October 24th, 1945, 71 years from this very day, after the end of a brutal war between nations, the United Nations was created.
Then, it was a charter ratified by 51 countries, looking to avoid the conflict and horrible, devastating violence that had just killed millions and millions in a world war not even a year before.
Now, the UN includes 193 countries, with separate agencies including UNICEF, UNESCO, World Health Program, World Food Program, and the World Bank Group. There are six principal sections, or organs:
- The General Council, in which each country, led by a Secretary General, work together to oversee the state of the UN in yearly sessions
- The Security Council, for country heads to decide resolutions for security and peace in the world
- There are 5 permanent members of the Security Council: the US, Russia, France, the UK, and China, who hold the right to veto any proposed resolution
- The International Court of Justice, the judicial sect that resolves international conflict over issues such as land, the use of nuclear weapons, armed activity in different countries
- The Economic and Social Council, that promotes economic and social improvement and cooperation among countries
- The Secretariat, which provides studies and facilities for UN research
- And the now-inactive Trustee Council, in which territories that no country had claim over were overseen by the UN (however, all these territories have gained independence or self-government since)
The UN encourages that every member of the UN (in which 193/206 countries a member, is almost the whole world) recognize the day as a public holiday. Tomorrow, in the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York, there will be a concert featuring a Korean orchestra, Harlem gospel choir, and Hungarian opera among many other performers in a celebration of the amazing international unity that no one would have ever expected possible 72 years ago.
Kofi Annan, the Secretary General from 1997 to 2006, summed up the indispensable need for the UN, and the hope it provides:
“More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations.”
Happy UN Day, everyone!
October 19th, Chicago, IL– The Chicago run of Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit musical “Hamilton” opened at the PrivateBank Theatre in downtown Chicago last Wednesday night. The show, the first production of the play created after the New York opening, led by director Thomas Kail, opened to rave reviews from the Chicago Sun Times, Variety, and the Chicago Tribune alike.
The musical follows the the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton–a figure many know from the ten dollar bill, a high school US class, or the mainstream success of Hamilton itself. It centers on the rise and fall of the first Treasury of Secretary and his relationships with wife Eliza Hamilton, mentor George Washington, and friend-turned-political-rival-turned-killer Aaron Burr.
The Chicago run of the show was announced in the winter of 2015, and the cast was announced in early spring. It stars Miguel Cervantes as Hamilton, Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr, In the Heights veteran Karen Olivo as Angelica Schuyler, Jonathan Kirkland as George Washington, and newcomers Chris Lee as Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette and Ari Asfar as Eliza Hamilton.
While the PrivateBank has shown previews of the musical since September 27th, Wednesday was the show’s official opening. The show was sold out, as to be expected–since individual ticket sales began in the summer, many upcoming shows have ticket prices up to a $1000 or are sold out entirely.
After the immense success of the New York production, expectations were high for the Chicago production, and they did not disappoint: critics raved about the casting, staging, and music. The Chicago Sun Times celebrated: “This show, which has captivated the popular imagination in unimaginable ways, taps into the tempo and temper of both the historical and the contemporary in uncanny ways — conjuring a world turned upside down, yet capable of righting itself. A triumph.”
Written by Lin Manuel Miranda, the playwright previously known for 2008’s In the Heights, the hip-hop musical about the birth of our nation, burst onto the scene with major box office and mainstream success after its opening in New York City in the summer of 2015. With visits from celebrities varying from Beyonce to Meryl Streep to Barack Obama. It was nominated for 16 Tonys and won 11, including Best Musical, Best Actor (Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr), Best Featured Actress (Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler), Best Featured Actor (Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson/Marquis de Lafayette) and Best Score and Choreography.
Miranda’s innovative style of hip-hop, rap, blues, and classical Broadway music were highly praised, to the point where the album (in which every song of the 46-song-musical was recorded) hit number three on the Billboard Top 200. His casting of people of color as the lead roles of the musical was praised as well for, as Miranda put it, “to have the story look like the America looks now”.
Hamilton in Chicago runs six days a week, with matinees on Wednesday and Sunday. You can buy tickets here, and listen to the original cast recording on Spotify and iTunes.
October 17th is National Mulligan Day.
There’s something kind of nice about the first months of the year. The fresh start that the New Year promised, the one with healthier diets and more exercise, may be gone, but on February 1st, after a month of bad habits returning and too many cheat days to count, one can simply say that the new year starts with the new month. February will be better. And if February isn’t? Then March will.
Of course, this do-over can only possibly last until June–after that, the next New Year is closer than the last, and there are no days where you can aim to simply get a second chance to start fresh. This especially true in mid-October, with the New Year only 79 days away compared to the 292 days to the last.
National Mulligan Day, however, can allow the re-do that February 1st used to offer: named after a move in golf that allows a player to re-do a stroke, mulligans have since been associated with the ability to give yourself a second chance.
For school especially, we could all use a mulligan. The first quarter finishes at the end of October, and I know that many people (myself included) have not been entirely successful at being able to productively finish all my homework without my phone distracting me, or staying organized like I had intended in late August.
So on this day, why not have a resolution in October? Try giving yourself another chance at productivity, or at least at waking up on time. Let yourself try again. Even on a non-academic scale, you could try to re-do a conversation that went sour–you can never go wrong making things right, when you get the chance.
Happy Mulligan Day!
October 10th was Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day.
We all know the chant: / In fourteen-hundred-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue / The short, two-lined song ingrained in each and every one of our memories, a year that marked the beginning of world history–that is, actual world history, in which the many continents and civilizations of the globe became permanently intertwined through trade and warfare–as we know it.
Later on, we all learned the specifics not mentioned in the song in World Civ or Modern Euro or whatnot: Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer sponsored by the Spanish monarchy, left to discover an Atlantic trade passage to India, but ran into a pretty sizeable roadblock: the whole North American continent.
To say it was an important discovery would be one of the biggest understatements in, well, all of history. His discovery of the enormous amount of land, crops, and gold meant that Spain would later send over many more ships to explore the lands later known as South, Central, and North America, and many other European powers followed suit, gaining unimaginable amounts of wealth and land by the end of it.
This story of courage and daring and discovery would be akin to a legend if the land discovered was empty–nothing but a stretch of forests and soil ready to be sowed. However, it wasn’t. There were hundreds of millions of native civilizations, stretching from the Incas in Peru to the Powhatan in Virginia.
The problem is, Columbus’ legend has been akin to a legend’s for centuries in American culture. As the European settlements grew into colonies, which later became countries, the idea of our roots being established by a brave explorer, noble at heart, has grown comfortable in our minds. We pride ourselves as the land of liberty and equality, and we like to believe that the man who started it all embodied those traits.
However, he didn’t. He enslaved the native people of the island he first landed on, he sparked the mass European migration to the Americas that brought over the disease that killed 90% of the native population; he never even believed that the land he discovered was a New World–instead, he thought it always to be the East Indies he originally intended for.
(On a side note, Columbus, archaeologists and historians have found, wasn’t even the first European to touch American soil–that title belongs to Leif Erikson, a Viking explorer who established a settlement on the eastern coast of Canada in Newfoundland, which he named Vinland. While he and his crew only stayed a winter, the legends of Erikson were passed down through Nordic history and Viking artifacts have been recently found in Canada.)
To laud a man who sparked the beginning of hundreds of millions of deaths, a man who ended total civilizations, as a courageous hero simply does not make sense. It is disrespectful to modern Native American communities to not only see him as a hero but to commemorate him in a holiday. To disregard the negative truths about Columbus would be disregarding the societies that lived in our land before the European settlers arrived, and to disregard their stories of loss and suffering as well.
So, October 10th was Columbus Day. But we must remember that October 10th was also Indigenous People’s Day–and we must honor and respect that even more.
October 5th is National Kale Day.
Kale–you either love it or hate it. Those who love it rave about the superfood’s high iron count (per calorie, it has more iron than beef), the high fiber (5 grams a cup!), and the powerful antioxidants in it that can protect against cancers and signs of aging, among many other benefits.
Dumped into smoothies, baked, fried, ordered in their salads at Foodstuffs; the leafy green has been a staple of a healthy diet for years.
On the other hand, those who hate the vegetable complain of the intense bitter and earthy taste, and are revolted at the thought of ruining a perfectly good smoothie with the sour green.
Like it or not, on National Kale Day, why not give kale a shot? Here are some tasty recipes including kale that does not necessarily include just raw kale in a salad.
Kale recipes for those who like it (and for those who don’t as much):
- This kale-pineapple smoothie is a delicious morning energy-booster, and best of all, the honey, peanut butter, and pineapple cut the bitterness of the kale. Keep the nutritional goodness, cut the sourness!
- Kale chips are easier made than it seems: cut up the leaves, lay them out on a sheet, drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle some salt, and bake them. Voila!
- You can never go wrong with soup: the kale, if finely chopped and well cooked in the soup, does not retain as much of the bitterness, and helps create warm, hearty soup that is perfect for a brisk fall night. Try this potato kale soup, or sausage, kale, and white bean soup.
- Switch things up with a kale stir-fry! Try this particularly tasty butternut squash and kale stir fry, Asian chicken kale stir fry, or this spicy kale and coconut stir fry.
September 30th, 2016 is National Chewing Gum Day.
On the last day of our first month of the Forest Scout’s daily In Honor Of’s, we celebrate the sticky snack that produces a failsafe way to make friends, a minty burst of fresh air, and the only reason why we would ever put peanut butter in our hair.
Whether it’s holding out a stick of gum in an amicable way to make friends (or discreetly pulling a stick out of your bag to avoid the mad frenzy of neighbors clamoring for a piece), begging our parents to give us a quarter to buy a huge jawbreaker (that always seemed to end up in our hair in a gooey mess), or just looking for something to do with our mouths in the middle of class, we certainly love our gum.
Love it so much, in fact, that we’ve been eating it since the earliest of human civilizations. The ancient Greeks, for example, chewed on a delectable tree sap called mastiche, which provided a refreshing, piney taste. The Mayans, as well, chewed on chicle (which is literally the Aztec language Nahuatl translation for sticky stuff) to keep their breath fresh and to stave off hunger or thirst.
And besides from being a nice snack-alternative, all this gum chewing comes with other benefits as well: it has also been proven to increase alertness and reduce anxiety. Chewing has been shown to stimulate the senses–the movement of the jaw, the flavor (whether it be mint, fruit, or cinnamon) the sticky texture, the fresh smell–and this can arouse the brain and keep a chewer awake and alert. The action of chewing, as well, may be the reason for lowered anxiety levels: the muscle contraction fo the jaw stimulates the vagus nerve in the brain, which lowers the heart rate and leads to less levels of the stress.
So the next time you want an inexpensive de-stresser, easy stimulant, or just a fresh breath, look no further than a stick of Wrigley’s or Trident, and make sure to save some for friends!
September 22nd was the first day of fall. As we usher out September with the Hoco festivities, we now look forward to beginning of the season and the many activities that come along with it.
Listed below is a must-do list for fall that will put you in the spirit for this colorful, spectacular, wonderful season:
Pick pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch
-The possibilities are endless when it comes to pumpkins: carve ‘em, eat em’, smash em’, decorate em’… and that’s not even the best part. On a weekend you have off, go with some friends or family members to a local pumpkin patch and find the one best for you. While you’re at it, maybe enjoy some hot cider and kettle corn as well…
-If you want a similar experience but different produce, there are many local apple orchards to visit, including Apple Holler outside of Kenosha and Heinz Orchard in Libertyville! Wander the orchards with families and friends, and take enough home to enjoy a crisp juicy apple on an equally crisp fall day.
On a related note, attend the Highwood Pumpkin Fest:
-Every year, for the past 7 years, our neighboring city of Highwood holds the Highwood Pumpkin Fest, where attendees carve pumpkins provided and places them on display in attempt to beat the world record for most carved and lit jack-o-lanterns. Go with your friends and support the city in their efforts, and while you’re there, make sure to check out the live music, food tents, games, and rides.
Go for a walk:
-Fall is, without a doubt, one of the loveliest times of the year. The red and orange leaves, the colorful mums, the pumpkins that dot every doorstep. Enjoy nature by simply walking through it: take your dog for a stroll around the neighborhood, wander through the paths and shore of Fort Sheridan, take a hike through a nature preserve. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy.
-Unfortunately, it is considered a bit creepy for fully grown teenagers to walk door to door asking for free candy. Sorry, Lake Forest High, but you can always have just as much fun going to a party, watching a horror movie, go to Fright Fest at Six Flags, or host a costume party with friends.
Watch a ridiculously cheesy Halloween movie:
-What better way to get into the spirit of the season than to watch a movie? Of course, there are the Disney Channel classics such as Halloweentown and Twitches, but don’t forget Casper or It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!
-Or, if you have the stomach, go straight for the horror movies. Coraline is probably the scariest I can handle, but some people have no problem watching movies like The Ring or perhaps the most famous Halloween movie of all, Halloween.
Rake (and of course, jump into) a pile of leaves:
-It’s a quintessential fall activity: once your backyard trees have lost most of their leaves, take out a rake and pile ‘em up. Then, take a few steps back and jump into it with everything you’ve got! Bonus points if the leaves get in your hair and you’re still pulling some out hours later.
Eat a whole lotta food at Thanksgiving:
-Of course, I don’t know anyone who isn’t excited for Thanksgiving. Good food? Three days off of school? Mashed potatoes and gravy? Most importantly, the pie? Over your break, make sure you give thanks, hug your family, and dig in.
Bake (or enjoy) some fall treats:
-While some people might not have the culinary skill to bake a pie (me included), at least stop by Fresh Market to pick up some pumpkin bread or caramel apples. It is an undeniable truth that pumpkin is THE flavor of fall, so make sure to not forget to indulge in a Pumpkin Spice Latte or slice of pumpkin pie. Here is a recipe for some tasty pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and here’s a recipe for apple pie bites that look to-die-for.
Indulge in some autumn buys:
-The weather change from summer to autumn is one of the largest and most dramatic, and you’ve got to make sure you’re properly prepared to bundle up and stay warm. You could buy a large, comfy sweater from one the Forest Scout’s top shops for fall shopping, a soft blanket to curl up with on the couch, a scented candle, or Halloween decorations to create the mood.
Bonfire with friends:
-On a night off when the air is crisp and cool, why not get a couple of friends and gather around a bonfire? A fire pit at your house is not needed; LF and LB beach both have pits available for use. Make sure to pack the fluffy blankets and marshmallows!
Happy fall, LFHS!
September 22nd is the first day of fall.
While our summer may have ended almost a month ago in the golden sunlight and buzzing cicadas of August, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte has been out since the beginning of September, fall, believe it or not, has only just begun.
The autumn equinox falls this year on September 22nd, precisely at 9:21 CT; and from this day on, the Earth will begin to tilt further and further away from the Sun. In fact, that is the reason for the season itself, and the inevitable coming of winter: as the Earth tilts, the sun will begin to sink lower into the sky at midday, set earlier, and rise later. In Chicago, the sun actually sets 2 minutes and 47 seconds earlier every day up to the winter solstice in late December. The steep angle at which our hemisphere receives the sun’s rays also accounts for the colder weather of fall and winter.
While the prospect of frigid winds and mornings when you eat breakfast in the dark seems unappealing, fall still has may perks. As the temperature drops, we can bust out the large, comfy sweaters; at Hansa or Starbucks, warm our hands with hot lattes and mochas instead of iced, and we can walk through woods of orange and yellow and feel the brisk wind nip at our nose. Who doesn’t love fall?
So while the first day of fall will feel a lot more like summer than autumn, with a high at 86 degrees and a staggering 91% humidity, keep the golden sunlight, cool winds, and colorful foliage of fall in mind. Happy fall, everyone!