October 2021 Westerner+












Junior Dalilah Carrillo, senior Lindsay Kulesza, sophomore

Emma Ohlson, junior Gabriela Medina and senior Aiden

Williamson open the performance of “Winter Break,” the

Maine West fall play that debuts live tomorrow in the theater.

Shows continue on Friday and Saturday.

volume 63, issue 2


mwwesterner.com + @mwwesterner

2 news/westerner



With monuments being removed and

street names being changed, indigenous

voices are being heard now more

than ever. On Oct. 8, President Joe Biden issued

a proclamation naming the Oct. 11 as Indigenous

Peoples’ Day.

While not replacing the long-standing federal

holiday of Columbus Day, which celebrated the anniversary

of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the

Americas, it was declared a day to reflect “on the

dignity and resilience of Tribal Nations and Indigenous

communities,” according to the White House.

“In school, we were taught that Columbus was

a hero; in reality, he was a mass murderer. I’m glad

that now we get to celebrate the Native Americans’

culture and history,” junior Hannan Rai said. The

decision to shift from Columbus Day came in response

to outcry from the public regarding the

rights and dignity of indigenous people who were

here long before colonization of the Americas began.

“It’s the right thing to do. I honestly don’t know

why so many people are pressed about being proud

of someone like Columbus. All he did was explore,

but he couldn’t even do that properly. He ended

up on the wrong continent, committed mass genocide,

and raped a bunch of people. The least we

can do after the harm we committed to indigenous

communities is give them one day of the year to

take back from us,” one student said in an anonymous

Westerner survey of 156 students. For many

students, it’s personal; 10 percent of West students

surveyed said they have Native American ancestry.

Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’

Day is seen as a step in the right direction for

many people, not just those of Native American

ancestry. Maine West has had its own evolution in

recent years in thinking about how Native Americans

are treated.

The removal of West’s dancing warrior mascot

was seen as a necessary endeavor, even though it

was controversial among some alumni and students

who lamented the loss of a school tradition. James

Borowski, dean of students at Maine West in 1978,

was the first of 14 people to carry the title of West’s

“warrior chief.” After Borowski, students took over

the role. Once a treasured mascot at Maine West,

the warrior came to be seen as a degrading symbol

for Native students and Native tribes.

“It was clear that using a caricature of a person

was not really what we wanted to do and how we

wanted to represent our building. The indigenous

people have stated they don’t want faces being used

as mascots at all, so we want to respect that,” assistant

principal John Aldworth said.

Respecting indigenous peoples was Maine

West’s biggest priority when going through a period

of re-branding in recent years. The “Spirit of

Garden for Good


Students grew cucumbers,


squash, pumpkins, beans, corn and

news editors

seven varieties of tomatoes. Environmental

Aiming to make a positive change in the community

Club is in charge of the

and for the climate, students in the Environmental

garden upkeep, and over the sum-

Club have been fostering a high-impact mer students took turns watering the

campus project since last spring.

vegetables. With each harvest, vegetables

“I wanted to participate so I could have a good

are donated to the Des Plaines

impact on the environment, and I want to help people

Self-Help Food Pantry and Closet.

who are like-minded like me,” Matthew Masek, “Taking [the vegetables] to the food

junior Environmental Club member, said of his involvement

pantry made me super proud because

in the club’s new garden.

I’ve been envisioning it since my

The Maine West garden opened right by Homestead

middle school years,” Nabah Sultan,

-- the original white farmhouse beyond the West class of 2021 graduate, said.

stadium on Howard Street -- on the south side of Although upkeep of the garden is Environmental

campus during last May. Environmental Club members

Club’s responsibility, the garden is open for anyone

started the garden from the ground up, build-

to visit. “A lot of my friends have told me that after

ing the garden beds, filling them with soil, planting soccer practice or football practice they sit there with

the seeds, watering, and picking the vegetables. “The their friends to hang out,” Sultan said.

coolest thing was to see the students planting the Now that the garden is closed due to cooler

seedlings and watching it grow,” Jennifer Ellberg, weather, Environmental Club will be working to redesign

Environmental Club sponsor, said.

the garden so it’s increasingly efficient for the

October 20, 2021

Shift from Columbus Day part of evolution of ideas

At Maine West, Native American imagery

used to be commonplace on everything from

the spec gym floor to athletic uniforms to the

Westerner masthead, but discussions with native

tribe members led to changing ideas and, ultimately,

the removal of these caricatures.


Maine West” warrior statue created by Todd Riddell,

a student at West that stood at Maine West for

close to 50 years, was taken down, and the warrior

dance, mascot, and school emblem were retired.

Currently, 65,000 Native people reside in Cook

County. The Cook County Board originally planned

to vote on Oct. 5 about changing Columbus Day to

Indigenous People’s Day. The vote, however, was


SPEAK Des Plaines is an organization that informs

people about what’s going on in local government,

current events, and important issues, as

part of a mission to create a more inclusive, equitable,

and healthier community. SPEAK has been

including updates about the Cook County vote and

encourages active participation through their Facebook

page where citizens can register in favor of

officially changing Columbus Day to Indigenous

People’s Day. “One of the things we do is just taking

up anti-racist policies, and we amplify those

things to help people see where they can put their

voice,” SPEAK head organizer Jessica Maag said.

Renaming the holiday, besides helping to correct

past wrongs, also honors all that indigenous

people have done for the United States. “A lot of

things have developed as a result of native influences

within our country, and there is a lot that we

can still learn from indigenous populations today,”

AP U.S. History teacher Bryanne Roemer said.

1960-1970s 1970s-2010s 1980s-2010s 2018-2019

Jennifer Ellberg

Environmental Club harvested vegetables from the Maine

West garden to donate to families in need.

vegetables’ growth. “Even though it’s a small step,

every step helps,” Ellberg said.

The club will also be shifting their focus to partner

with the organization Clean Up Give Back, a

non-profit in Des Plaines that picks up trash around

the community. “We are planning in the future doing

a lot more collaborative clean-ups that we would be

advertising for Environmental Club,” Environmental

Club member senior Dulf Vincent Genis said.

October 20, 2021 3




Teen troubles


in fall play



Featuring a thrust-style stage set up, the audience will

be up close with the actors in Maine West’s production of

Joe Calarco’s “Winter Break.”. Nineteen actors, and an expansive

collection of crew and staff, are set to perform the

play this week. The matinee performance begins at 4:00

pm on October 21st, along with performances on October

22nd and 23rd, which start at 7:00 pm.

“Winter Break” takes place in a modern-day school

community, featuring many stories about the creation, loss, and celebration

of connections. Similar to what will be seen on stage, the

diverse group of individuals involved in the production, whether on

or offstage, built connections with each other. “I love the people

who are with me in this cast, they’re amazing,” said junior actor

Kris Modi. Unlike many of the past plays, the cast size for “Winter

Break” is nineteen people, and West has several understudies in case

of emergency. Multiple students are multitasking by taking roles in

the play, along with students directing others.

After a long break from in-person performances, many actors

and crew members will make their debut in a drama production.

Audience members will have the opportunity to be on stage along

with actors, sitting in chairs surrounding the marked-off performance

area. To support the performance and all of the work put


From left to right, junior Benice Gyebi, freshman Carter

Roper, and junior Dalilah Carrillo rehearse a segment

from the prologue in which Roper’s character rips an assignment,

to the dismay of his peers.

into producing it, students and community members can attend one

or more of the three performances. “It does take a lot of time but

it’s worth it in the end,” sophomore run crew member Addie Webb

said. With tickets available for purchase at the door, students pay $7

and adults pay $10.

This is a brand new play and will make one of its first appearances

on an Illinois high school stage at Maine West. “It’s dealing

with issues that students at Maine West are going to find relatable,”

said director and drama teacher David Harmon.

Treat ing Halloween differently



The colors of the leaves on trees are changing

and people have started pulling sweaters and

boots from closets, which can only mean one thing:

last year that I hope they bring

back, like two huge chutes going

from their door down their

porch that would spit out the

candy directly into their bags,”

is accepting trick-or-treaters

this year.

This year’s Halloween is

likely shaping up to look like

a hybrid between last year’s

spooky season is here.

Lanham said. “One neighbor

Halloween and traditional

Although the COVID-19 pandemic meant

that students saw unique and modified Halloween

celebrations last year, 2021 promises a Halloween

that looks at least somewhat more conventional.

According to CNN, about 148 million Americans

participated in the holiday last year in some form,

had a catapult, and they would

shoot the candy and the kids

would have to catch it; that was

cool. Another one had candy

strung up on a clothesline so

the kid could just come and

Halloweens. “My one friend

is having a party, but it’s going

to be a very small group,

and everyone has to be vaccinated,”

said English teacher

Liana Bracker, who always

be it dressing up and trick-or-treating, or decorating pluck it off, so people came up

goes trick-or-treating with


their houses.

with really ingenious ways to

her three young nephews and

Last year’s Halloween also included fewer parties,

leaving candy outside for children to take so

they didn’t ring the doorbell, and wearing masks and

social distancing while trick-or-treating. “[It wasn’t

as fun] wearing masks last year, but now because

[trick-or-treating] is outside and the rules are different,

I think we might not have to wear them,” history

teacher Diane Littlefield-Lanham said.

Some changes from last year, however, might

be here to stay, including unique ways that people

gave out candy last year to follow social distancing

measures. “Some people had really cool setups

get the candy to the children without having any real

contact with them. Hopefully that happens again,

because it was actually more fun.”

Some local stores in Des Plaines and Mount

Prospect are also offering candy to trick-or-treaters,

and local organizations also host Trunk-or-Treats,

where children trick-or-treat with people’s cars to

follow social distancing protocols. The Des Plaines

Park District is hosting one on Oct. 30 at Prairie

Lakes from 12-3 p.m.

Additionally, downloadable flyers are available at

desplaines.org to indicate whether or not your home

likes to dress as a pun.

Others, however, realized last year that maybe

some traditions aren’t as important as they previously

made them out to be. “I won’t go back to

what I used to do before COVID, but that’s not just

because of the pandemic, that’s also because I just

got older. But I still love Halloween and I love to

celebrate by putting up decorations and listening to

Halloween music, dressing up even if I’m not going

outside to trick-or-treat; it’s just those little things

that make Halloween so special, and we can still do

in a pandemic,” senior Lindsey Kulesza said.


4 news/westerner


asst. news editor

Maine West has reported a total

of 28 positive COVID cases since

the start of the school year. While 24

of the cases were students, four were

staff members. Currently, there are a

total of 264 students and staff who

have had to quarantine due to contact

tracing or COVID symptoms.

Even after homecoming, Maine

West did not see a rise in COVID

cases, just a minor uptick of students

who were quarantined.

“Our health office tracks the

number of COVID cases that occur

every week and reports it on something

called the COVID dashboard

which is available to the entire community;

it also appears on the district

website,” said Matt Parrilli, associate

principal for human relations and

instructional operations. The website

displays the number of positive

student and staff cases, and it reports

the number of students and staff that

quarantined due to reported contact

tracing or COVID symptoms.

Students have felt in the dark

about why their classmates have been

absent, only to hear later that they

are quarantining. “The school should

inform others to be more aware of

who is getting sick so we can take

precautions and make sure classes

are safer and secured,” senior Casey

Sebastian said. Because the school assumes

that all students are adhering

to consistent full masking, classmates

do not get notified if someone has

tested positive for COVID.

When sick, students have to

quarantine for a full two weeks, and

they are not able to participate in any

sports or activities either. “I had the

worst sore throat possible. I was so

disappointed that I was not able to

keep up with my activities, I felt helpless

and upset,” said junior Thomas

Pichola, who had tested positive.

To try to track cases, Maine

West is enrolling

in a program

called “test to stay.”

Whether students

are vaccinated, unvaccinated,

or part

of a contact tracing

event at school,

students can be

tested for up to a

week at the health

office. The student

is tested on day 1, day 3, and day 5,

and if the test comes up as negative,

they are able to continue to stay at

school. If the test is positive, they

would be sent home. A legal guardian

would be required to pick up the

student or they would need parent

authorization to drive home themselves.

Maine West is aiming to test students

on a more rapid basis with

quick results. “We have now entered

a partnership with a company called

O’Hare Labs, which will enable us to

use PCR tests,” Parrilli said. If students

come down to the health office

with COVID-like symptoms, with

parent authorization, Maine West will

be able to give PCR tests at school.

In a Westerner survey of 157 students,

73 percent said they felt Maine

West is doing a good job of keeping

students safe from COVID, while 27

percent said the school is not doing


“I do feel safe in the building,

but I just believe that with the lack

of lunchrooms or areas available during

the lunch period,

maybe compacting us

all together is defeating

the whole purpose

of staying safe

with social distancing,

” Sebastian said.

As for doing their

part to keep themselves

and others

safe, “most students

‘wear’ their masks

but many don’t do so properly,” one

anonymous student said in the Westerner

survey, echoing a number of

similar responses.

Many Maine West staff have

taken a different approach to enforce

proper mask-wearing. “Instead of

coming up with punitive responses

with punishments, we try to make it

positive; we try to recognize and reward

proper mask-wearing instead,”

Parrilli said. For those few students

who are having constant challenges

with it, they are then required to meet

with their assistant principals to encourage

consistent mask-wearing.

Following state-wide guidelines,

October 20, 2021

West holds up against COVID


“Most students

‘wear’ their

masks but

many don’t do

so properly,”

-- anonymous student

response in a Westerner

survey of 152 student.

the district has now mandated vaccinations

for all District 207 staff

and wants students to get vaccinated,

too. “Vaccinations are the best ways

to protect yourself and others from

COVID-19,” Parrilli said. A studentwide

vaccine mandate would only

occur if the governor or president

made it a requirement, though.

It is very unlikely that Maine West

will ever go to a fully virtual setting

again unless there is a major outbreak.

At the moment, for students

quarantining, a temporary virtual option

is not available either.

If a student has to quarantine,

the attendance and health offices are

notified, and then, “I encourage students

to reach out to their teachers

for extra support,” Parrilli said.

In Pichola’s experience, “I was

not able to keep up with all of my

assignments, I started to fall behind

because I had no energy and motivation.

Most of my assignments

were on paper. I hoped that more of

them would be online because I had

to wait until I was back to complete

them. This made me fall even more

behind,” Pichola said.

For students who are dealing

with mental health issues due to the

pandemic, Maine West has a team of

trained professionals including social

workers and psychologists who are

ready to help. In these situations, “we

have the opportunity for students

to reach out and meet with anyone

on the student and family services

team,” Parrilli said.

Star of downtown ready


operator with high hopes of restoring its beloved


vaudeville theatre to its truest form. For years it

One of Des Plaines’s oldest landmarks will had been a movie theater and then an occasional

once again shine its dazzling lights next week with concert venue.

the grand re-opening of the historic Des Plaines Ron Onesti, the owner of operating firm Onesti

Entertainment and manager of the Arcada

Theatre. The theatre and Bourbon ‘n Brass Speakeasy

are set to open on Oct. 31 with the first show: Theatre in St. Charles, chose to take the challenge

the country rock band Kevin Costner and Modern and make it happen. “I’ve established relationships


with artists, with agents, with managers,” Onesti

Since 2014, the heart of Des Plaines has felt as said. “That has resulted in a trust that has allowed

though it had lost a piece of itself with the closing

of the theater, a hub for the community left perience within the entertainment industry will

me to get these acts [on stage].” His years of ex-

barren and unoccupied. Years of failed efforts to help bring big-name acts like The Village People,

revitalize the theater passed in a blur, until 2018, American Idol winner Kodi Lee, Buddy Guy, and

when the city decided to put its faith in an outside even popular cover bands like ABBA Mania to the

October 20, 2021 westerner/entertainment 5




entertainment editor

With its challenges, dances, recipes, and other kinds of creative content,

TikTok has dominated the trends of the past three years. Exploding in popularity

just before COVID-19 struck, it has benefitted from and defined our

pandemic experience by keeping people entertained and connected around

the globe.

2018: Hit or Miss

TikTok, created and first released in China, was slow to gain popularity

in the United States. “I downloaded TikTok a couple of months after it

first came out because some of my friends had it. I remember people making

fun of me for having it at first, but now they have it too,” senior Haley

Good said. One of the earliest TikTok trends was a 15-second clip of Mia

Khalifa’s song, “Hit or miss.” The Hit or Miss challenge was made in 2018

and became viral very quickly. “I would hear people just yell ‘hit or miss’ in

the hallways,” Good said.

2019: Defining a style

It doesn’t matter if songs were released months or even years ago, Tik-

Tok can bring them back to life and make them popular again. Mariah Carey’s

song “Obsessed” came out over a decade before it first became popular

on TikTok, but the song became popular again due to a video from user

@reesehardy_. In Reese’s video, she is bawling her eyes out while performing

a dance to the song “Obsessed.” The video blew up and got

over a million likes because this was a type of personal content people

weren’t used to seeing but also because of the wry comments it generated.

The comments took a relatable and humorous spin on this crying

video, causing it to show up on more “for you pages.” As a result

of its popularity, millions of users recreated the dance to the song. “I

remember teenage girls dancing to the song in the grocery store and

seeing the video show up on my ‘for you page’ hours later,” Good

said. The dance became so popular that it caught the attention of

Mariah Carey herself.

Not all TikTok trends have to do with music or dancing.

“VSCO girls” were the talk of summer 2019. Named after the

VSCO photo editing app that allowed users to apply dreamy,

breezy effects to their images, VSCO was the nickname given

to young teenage girls who were into a beachy, Southern California vibe.

to shine again

Des Plaines Theatre stage.

As an Academy Award winning film actor who

is famous for dozens of starring roles, Coster will

bring a lot of star power to the opening night of

the Des Plaines Theater. He started the band Modern

West in 2007 and has been touring globally ever


When it comes to local acts and bands, Onesti

and Des Plaines residents alike are ecstatic for

the chance to broaden their musical horizons and

bring opportunity to hidden talent within the community.

“It’s so important to showcase local talent

in a space meant for the community around us.

High schools in the area have loads of underdog

musicians and bands, and hopefully, the theater will



People would make videos mocking “VSCO girls” about the way they talk

and dress. “Wearing Birkenstocks, Ron Jon shirts, scrunchies, puka shell

necklace, and owning a hydro flask meant you’re a VSCO girl,” Good said.

So-called “VSCO girls” would be noticed everywhere- “The VSCO girls in

my class would keep saying ‘sksksk,’” Spanish teacher Maggie Weaver said.

2020: Comfort close to home

With 2020 being a year that most of America spent at home, recipes for

food and drinks spiraled their way around Tiktok, flooding most “for you

pages” with easy recipes with ingredients already in the kitchen cabinets. In a

Westerner survey of 157 students, 52 percent said they tried out a new recipe

from Tiktok during quarantine. With there being no option of

heading to Starbucks in the morning, Americans found a

replacement through TikTok: whipped coffee. “I think

the reason the recipe went so viral was because of how

simple yet delicious it was,” Good said. TikTok is making

the world a smaller place by giving access to ideas from

around the world. The whipped coffee trend, for example,

started in South Korea and found its way over to the United

States through Tiktok. The trend soon began to extend into

people whipping up other things like matcha green tea.

2021: New challenges

Due to the power of TikTok trends, companies have found themselves

with the lucky problem of selling out of products, whether it’s food, clothing,

makeup, or gadgets. With TikTok videos being short and simple, it

makes it easier to follow recipes. At the beginning of 2021, a simple feta

pasta recipe caused a feta cheese shortage in grocery stores all around the

country. Not everyone who made the recipe was a fan. “I made the feta

pasta recipe from watching a TikTok because it looked so good, but it didn’t

turn out to be the best,” Weaver said. The recipe first caught people’s eye in

Finland in 2018 when Jenni Häyrinen, a food blogger created a pasta dish. It

didn’t become popular in the United States until it went viral on Tiktok. The

recipe requires just three simple ingredients, including a block of feta cheese,

cherry tomatoes, and pasta.

TikTok is a place with wild challenges, and just when we thought they

couldn’t get any crazier, one of the latest trends, referred to

as “diabolical licks,” started in early September. It led to incidents

of property damage at schools all over the country,

including at Maine West. The challenge was to steal a random

object from school, bring it home and record a video of it. “It

got out of hand really quickly,” Salazar said. It started when

a user named @jugg4elias posted a video showing a box of

disposable masks that they stole from a school with the caption,

“A month into school...devious lick.” Whether it was

stolen soap dispensers, missing ceiling tiles, or even damaged

toilets, TikTokers went to extensive lengths to steal the most random objects.

Teachers at Maine West weren’t exempt from this trend. “One day, I noticed

my pencil sharpener was gone, and then the next day the devious licks trend

was showing up on my ‘for you page,’” Weaver said.

allow those who wouldn’t get the opportunity to

perform for a proper crowd to feel the rush,” said

Tom Hush, a long-time live music enthusiast currently

living in Chicago.

The management team, led by Onesti, seems to

be in full agreement with this sentiment. Plans for

both the main stage and for other smaller, more

secluded performance areas are set for the theater,

allowing for both professionals and amateurs to be

featured. . The duality of the theater’s new interior

will also allow shows other than just music to play,

including comedy and multi-cultural presentations.

The first cultural presentation planned is an Indianbased

performance as a thank you to the Indian

population of Des Plaines, who had supported the

theatre for about 15 years when it had been a Bollywood


Maine West has a rich culture when it comes to

self-taught bands and solo acts, and Onesti seems

to have realized that as well. He plans on holding

“Maine Mondays”, where independent bands from

Maine West play the theater’s main stage or at the

Bourbon ‘n Brass Speakeasy -- a bar with a small

cabaret stage. “Hearing about these showcases of

high school bands at the theater brings me so much

joy. Live music has been gone for what feels like

forever, and finding new music is going to bring so

much light back into so many people’s lives,” said

Ryan Miller, a Des Plaines native, who prides himself

on supporting local talent.

6 features/westerner



of Maine West

students consider


religious, according

to a Westerner survey

“I always make sure my

family is with me during

a prayer because religion

should be something that

you not only use to get

closer with God, but also

the ones you love.”

-- senior Ryan Prichisky

What is an



of how you


your faith?

“When you’re surrounded

by people and practices

that match with your beliefs,

you’re motivated and

reminded about why you

chose that specific faith.”

-- senior Farwah Husain

“I like to practice my faith

by reading my Bible daily

and keeping a prayer journal.

Practicing my faith

helps me stay close to

God, reminds me to be a

good person, and to share

his love.”

-- senior Ali Krieger

10/18/21, 2:1




features editor

Allowing students space to explore their

faith in a supportive environment, the newlyestablished

Muslim Student Association and

the Maine West Student Ministry, a club

centered on Christianity, are dedicated to the

spiritual needs of students.

Although focused on specific

religions, all are welcome to join

MSA and MWSM. Neither club

is exclusive to students that practice

that religion. Instead, they

plan to work towards educating any interested

students about their religions and organizing

activities based around them.

Showing that a large portion of West connects

with the missions of these clubs, 52

percent of students consider themselves to be

religious, according to a Westerner survey of

149 students.

Even after the CO-

VID-19 pandemic and

retirement of social

studies teacher Matthew

McClure, the

previous MSA sponsor,

there has been continued

interest in MSA

which is part of the reason

social science teacher

Chris Rettig chose

to sponsor the club.

“The fact that multiple

students were independently

recognizing that

they wanted something

like that at West is a sign that it’s probably

something you need,” Rettig said.

Maine West Student Ministry developed

from a similar situation. There was previously

a Christian Club at Maine West but it had

since fallen apart. “When my sister came to

high school, she was in [Christian Club] as

well, but it went down the drain for some

reason,” said senior Beca Prodan, a founder

of MWSM. With a mix of inspiration from

Christian Club and the more recent MSA,

MWSM was born.

MSA broadened the religious representation

at Maine West and encouraged others to

do the same. “Hopefully in the future there’s

other religions too,” senior Julia Jaroslawski, a

founding member of MWSM, said.

Both MSA and MWSM are still getting

their footing, but they are working to become

October 20, 2021

fully established, in MWSM’s case, and organized,

in MSA’s case.

“We’ve only had one meeting so far, and

then there were a lot of sign-ups at the activities

fair,” Rettig said. However, having only

met once, MSA has already helped set up a

prayer room, located at the top of the main

stairs in the rotunda, for students to use during

their lunch periods. It is used as a conference

room for most of the day, but during

lunch periods, R201 is open to students who

wish to pray or practice their faith in a private

setting. “I actually had a meeting there

yesterday but we had to get out of the conference

room during the whole lunch block. We

weren’t allowed to be in there for sixth period

because it needed to be empty and available as

a reflection room,” Rettig said.

MWSM is farther behind in establishment

but their goals of inclusion and education ring

the same as MSA. Early activity ideas include

working with a

“The fact that multiple

students were independently

recognizing that they wanted

something like that at West

is a sign that it’s probably

something you need.”

-- Chris Rettig,

Muslim Student

Association sponsor

homeless organization,



and attending

Feed My Starving


All of these are

examples of

going out and

helping people,

an activity

highly emphasized


praised within


The group is open to “anyone who wants to

be a part of it or learn more about the Christian

faith. It’s non-denominational; it’s going

to be anyone who wants to join and learn,”

Jaroslawski said.

This is a common theme among MWSM

members: they’re looking to strive for unity

within their club and they know that making

it non-denominational as well as open to any

Maine West student is something that will get

them there. “Having a bigger variety of people

is going to help more unity form,” Prodan


MSA continues to work as they brainstorm

what a worthy next endeavor is and get into

contact with administrators with desires to

add to the inclusivity at Maine West. “There

will be more meetings coming soon and fliers

in the hallway announcing them,” Rettig said.

October 20, 2021 7




kill the


Universities are giving

applicants the choice

to submit standardized

test scores, but students

are unsure how this

choice could impact their

admission status



One massive stressor

has been placed on the

shoulders of this year’s

seniors: the decision

of whether or not to send in their

test scores with their college applications.

In a major transformation in

the past two years, many universities

are no longer requiring an SAT or

ACT score, due to the obstacles students

faced when taking those tests

in the midst of COVID. Many test

dates have been cancelled, failing

to give students a fair chance to not

only take the test, but also to get the

best score possible.

Students applying to four-year

universities have a plethora of questions:

is submitting a “low” score

better than none? Will not sending

a test score put me at a disadvantage?

Will my test score be sufficient

enough to get admitted into the university?

Nobody, besides the admissions

counselors, knows what the

best strategy is because this optional

approach is so new.

“Even though all the colleges

say that it [sending your test scores]

won’t really hurt or harm you if you

send them in during this process, I

can’t help but think that a not-great

test score is something that the admissions

committee would keep in

the back of their minds even with

a decent GPA and an okay essay,”

Amanda Jonikaitis-King, CCRC

counseling intern, said.

Setting all else aside, the most

important part of a college application

is the way you present yourself,

whether it be primarily through essays,

your transcript, or the standardized

test scores. “I think the great

thing about test-optional is that you

have the decision, so you could say,

‘I’ve had the chance to take the ACT

and SAT and maybe it’s not reflective

of the academic performance

that I feel like I have.’ Whereas your

transcript shows three years of information

and your whole high

school progression,” Clare Dolan,

assistant director of admissions at

Loyola University Chicago, said.

According to a Westerner survey

of 157 students, 47 percent of seniors

have decided to take advantage

of the test-optional choice in college

applications. “I think my activities

and clubs better reflect who I am as

a person, and I’d rather be considered

for college as a person, rather

than my score on a standardized

test,” senior Olivia Duffy said.

Yet another unknown in this

process is in regard to other students

who might be applying and their decision

of whether or not they will

send in their own test scores. Giving

incoming freshmen the option

will likely boost the test average per

school because many students might

refrain from sending a lower score.

“My guess will be that the more

scores we do see will be towards

that higher-end of the scale, so that

average number will go up with us

being test-optional, along with not

seeing some of those lower scores

that might have been represented, in

past years,” Dolan said.

There is no doubt that high percentile

scores will only strengthen

one’s application, but that has always

been the case. The choice to share

a standardized test score becomes a

personal question for each individual

student. “If you feel like you can

communicate who you are and what

you’ll bring to the college campus

through your essay and transcript,

I don’t necessarily think that test

scores are going to be a hindrance

for applications. I would say to

take advantage of the test-optional

[policy] and focus on your essays

and transcript, even though others

might think differently,” Jonikaitis-

King said.










8 October 20, 2021

westerner/in-depth 9




The college application process can feel daunting

for seniors, but there are many resources

both in-person and online that can be helpful

for the applications themselves, as well as for getting

the most financial aid available.

The first of the available resources students

should be seeking out are their “people resources.”

Guidance counselors are usually the first

contact on all things related to college admissions,

followed by teachers, and the CCRC (Career and

College Resource Center). In the CCRC, Amanda

Jonikaitis-King, the Career and College Admissions

intern, and Kayla Hansen, the Career Coordinator,

can answer questions about the process.

“Students can come to me for personal appointments

to talk directly about building a college

list, figuring out which type of school is going to

be the best fit for you,” Jonikaitis-King

said. She is available daily

in room R203



Getting the help you need

to find the place for you

There are a multitude of virtual resources

available to current seniors. When it comes to

identifying the colleges you want to attend, many

from 10:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for drop-in of the resources Webb mentioned -- virtual campus

visits, tour videos, and meeting with individu-

hours, where students can come in for

application and essay support.

als that represent the school -- can be beneficial.

When it comes to learning The Naviance website contains a list of when representatives

from different colleges will be pres-

more about colleges, there are a number

of both in-person and virtual events. ent for virtual meetings in the CCRC. Naviance

“Personally, my resources were the also has a resume template and can be used to

CCRC meetings, meetings with my counselor,

then any online resources that colleges

were producing to make picking a school a

safer process -- this includes virtual campus visits,

tour videos of different locations, meetings with

people who rep the school, you name it -- then

your basic information that you could usually find

online from sites, like ratings,” Maine West 2021

graduate Ethan Webb said about his experiences

on his application path to University of Illinois at


While institutional scholarships can often offer a lot of

money, another option that should be considered alongside

institutional scholarships are outside or independent scholarships,

such as those offered by big businesses, local charities

and civic organizations. Independent scholarships tend to offer

less money in comparison to institutional scholarships but

it’s important to note that there is no limit on the amount of

scholarships you can have.

The requirements for independent scholarships can often

vary, which is why seniors should do their research. “It’s really

necessary to be proactive about looking for what works for

you and what the scholarships require, because some might

require essays, some might require videos, or even research

projects,” Jonikaitis-King said.

There are a variety of different resources available to find

scholarships. The most notable one is the CCRC section

on the Maine West website, which has a page with

information about scholarships including useful websites.

The CCRC also has a scholarship database spreadsheet

that is updated

find colleges and compare colleges that you’re

interested in. CareerReady, formerly known as

pathwayMANAGER, as well YouScience are recommended

resources for choosing a major and

career path, and Parchment is a website that can

be used to submit transcripts. Jonikaitis-King also

recommended checking out Ethan Sawyer, better

known as College Essay Guy, who has a variety

of different social medias with advice for drafting

college essays.

One thing to consider when it comes to

applying for college is the fees that come with

attending a school. There are a number of resources

that are available that can help you find

ways to alleviate the cost. The first thing that seniors

should do is to fill out the FAFSA, or the

Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Filling out the FAFSA is a graduation requirement

at Maine West, but ideally, you should fill

out the application as soon as possible since the

portal for applying opened on Oct. 1. Maine

West also has a representative from the Illinois

Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) who is

here on Wednesdays from 10:45 a.m. to 3:30

p.m. Seniors or even their parents can come to

the ISAC representative to ask questions about

the FAFSA or financial aid.







and their eligibility


Other websites that can be used to locate scholarships

are FastWeb and GoMerry. Whatever seniors do, they should

never pay a fee in order to search for scholarships or apply

for one. That’s a red flag that the site or scholarship is not


Local community businesses or organizations may also

offer scholarships to students. “Another thing that students

might not even know: even reaching out to your dentist’s office,

a lot of dentist offices give out scholarships, asking your

parents’ companies if they give out any scholarships, different

organizations that your family might be involved in -- I’ve had

students that are involved in a Polish heritage organization

and those give out scholarships. There’s all different

types of scholarships out there,” Adams


Making the decision: early or regular application?


in-depth editor

When applying to colleges, a plethora of deadlines are

bearing down on seniors in the next few weeks. While

“regular decision” is the most familiar process -- it’s a

non-binding application that is usually due in December

or early January -- the “early decision” and “early action”

applications are due soon and come with their distinct


According to the College Board, about 450 colleges

and universities have early action and/or early decision

applications. Both are an earlier deadline, normally in

early November, depending on the school. Where they

are different, however, is that early decision is binding,

students have to attend that school if they are admitted,

whereas early action is non-binding. According to

a Westerner survey of 152 students, 55.3 percent of

Maine West seniors are applying early action/early decision.

This process may be daunting to high school seniors,

especially to first-generation students, because

advantages and risks come with each option. “The early

deadlines come up so fast, and they pile up with homework

so it feels like I have to do 1,000 things at once.

The entire process is complicated and I’m nervous that

I’m going to miss a deadline or leave out important information,”

one senior said in an anonymous Westerner

survey of 152 students.

It’s important to keep in mind that every school has

different early deadlines. At DePaul University, a popular

university choice for many Maine West students,

the early action deadline is not the usual Nov. 1. “It’s

important to be mindful of our deadline, Nov. 15. We

must receive all required materials by Nov. 15, not just the

Common App. Those students will receive a decision no

later than Dec. 15,” DePaul Admissions Officer Jessica

Heinrich said.

There are many benefits to applying early action besides

the earlier decision response. “Applying early action

also gives students the opportunity to apply for additional

scholarship opportunities -- our service and leadership

scholarships -- after they have received their admission

decision. Students who miss the early action deadline will

likely not receive an admission decision and therefore not

be able to apply for our service and leadership scholarship

before their deadlines pass, which is Feb. 1,” said


Unlike early action applications, early decision is

binding, which means students sign a contract, along with

a counselor and parent/guardian, agreeing to attend if

accepted and rescind all other college acceptances. A student

can only apply to one school as “early decision,” and

they must agree to the financial package that the college


When considering applying early decision, or through

any admissions deadline, many students find it helpful to

visit college campuses in person to see if it has that perfect

feel. Visiting in person can help narrow it down to a

smaller range of top choices.

“I went on a road trip this summer and visited five

schools of all different varieties. It was definitely beneficial

to see what type of school fits best for me. Seeing

campuses and the environment is so much different than

seeing stats on paper,” senior Viviana Ramirez said. “I

want to go pre-med, and Tulane University has an amazing

program that I was considering. It had everything I

looked for in a school, but after visiting it just didn’t feel

right for me.”

It’s important to research specific programs, internships,

job opportunities, or extracurriculars particular

schools offer beforehand to know what to look for and

ask questions once arriving for a campus visit.

“I made sure to do some research before going. I

wanted to see the freshman dorms and areas mainly because

I would be spending my time there my first year.

I really wanted a true campus feeling with a city nearby.

The cleanliness and the area around the school definitely

swayed my opinion about some,” Ramirez said.






Webb, who survived the college

admissions process last year, leaves

seniors with some parting advice: “The best I

can say is don’t get discouraged; you’re probably

not going to make it everywhere you want to

get into, and that can totally hurt you a lot -- but

trust me, it’ll be worth it by the time you pick

out a place to go to,” Webb said. “The process

can be really long, tiring, and kind of annoying,

but sticking with it and just pushing through no

matter what happens is pretty much going to

be a lifesaver for you. Also, don’t be afraid to

ask people or teachers or whoever you trust for

some help.”






10 features/westerner





asst. features editor

As the weather gets colder many of us

have finally accepted that instead of going

to the beach, the pool, and out for

ice cream we need a new menu of fun

activities to fight boredom, awaken the senses and

build memories with family and friends.


Richardson’s Adventure

Farm, 909 English

Prairie Road in Spring

Grove, is a fan-favorite.

A farm where people of

all ages are welcome, at

Richardson’s students can

get lost in the corn maze

with their friends, zipline,

slide down a huge slide,

perform flips on the jumping

pillow, move around in

bubbles known as Zorbing,

visit the petting zoo,

and feast on the donuts

and hot cider. Every year

following the end of the

Marching Band season,

the Marching Warriors

hop on a bus and drive out

to Richardson’s at night to

bond over the fun activities.

Bernie Gerstmayr, the

Maine West band director,

said, “It’s something

different. It’s not

your typical nearby

thing that kids

might always do.

It’s not your usual,

‘Let’s go to an apple

orchard or let’s go to

a haunted house.’”

To celebrate the

band’s season of successes,

“we’ve done

something at the end of

the marching band season

almost every year for

about fifteen years. After a

season from August to October

of go-go-go -- you’ve

got practice, we’ve got deadlines

-- it’s also an important

decompression,” Gerstmayr said. “It’s

important for a group that spends so much time

together, to enjoy doing something together that is

not goal-oriented.”

Juniors Aidan Cusack,

Gabriel Da

Silva, and Nathan

Sommerfeldt embraced

the fall spirit

at Richardon’s corn






Senior Bella Salgado recommends heading north

to try apple picking at Apple Barn Orchard. Located

at W6384 Sugar Creek Rd. in Elkhorn, WI, Apple

Barn Orchard has many varieties of apples and is

open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sundays

from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Pricing for apple picking

is on a pay per bag basis with no admission or parking

fees, meaning you only pay for what you pick.

“It was really nice to see the different selections that

they have. Since

it’s near the end

of the season

it was kind of

surprising to

see five different

varieties of

apples and they

also have a little

cooler filled

with the out-ofseason


that you can no

longer pick but

that you can still

buy,” Salgado

said. Inside the

store and bakery

visitors can

indulge in apple

cider, pumpkin

and apple

cider donuts,

and more treats.

Aside from

apple picking,

there are other

activities at the

and going on a

wagon ride.



orchard like

picking pumpkins,


the market,

For those

Haley Good who like

picked apples spooky fun,

while enjoying

the sunny is approach-

as Halloween

weekend ing more and

weather. more haunted

houses and

tours are opening their doors. Disturbia, located at

1213 Butterfield Rd Suite D, Downers Grove, IL,

and Basement of the Dead, located at 42 W New

York St, Aurora, IL, are two affordable haunted

October 20, 2021



houses with high reviews. The dates and time of

the haunted houses vary so to see information

about available dates and times and to book your

visit check out their websites. Junior Parker Derusha

recalled his experience, saying, “The actors were

terrifying! Their costumes were outstanding and the

set was incredible. Everyone was really kind and

supportive. I think everyone needs to step outside

of their comfort zone once in a while and visiting a

haunted house is a great way to do it.”

Chicago Hauntings does ghost hunting tours

in Chicago where you are the hunter. Throughout

the trip hunters learn about Chicago’s history,

from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 to lost graves

around the city to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The tour departs at the Chicago History Museum

at 1601 N. Clark Street at 8 p.m., lasts about three

hours, and costs $29 per person. You’ll need to go

to the Chicago Hauntings website to see available

dates and book your tour.

Fright Fest is back at Six Flags until Oct. 31,

with dates and times available at SixFlags.com.

One-day ticket prices range from $39.99 to $59.99,

depending on the date. At Fright Fest, visitors can

check out the haunted houses with thrills around

every corner, enter scare zones where things that

go bump in the night are lurking, visit scary skits

and shows, and strap into roller coaster rides with

monsters. Junior Bryanna Alvarez went a couple of

weeks ago. “Personally, I love horror and getting

scared so the experience was awesome. Because of

COVID, there aren’t as many actors as in past years

but going around, getting scared, and playing the

carnival games was a lot of fun,” she said.


If you’re looking to spend quality time with the

family, want to stay inside with some friends, or are

looking for a new hobby, try home activities. Pumpkin

carving and baking are two activities junior Mia

Thomas recommends for those who are creative or

those who just like to make a mess. Thomas remembered,

“Last year I was sitting on the ground in my

friend’s basement for our annual pumpkin carving

night when our acquaintance Gabe took a hammer

and started hacking away at his. There were pumpkin

guts everywhere.” Stores like Walmart and Target

carry pumpkin carving tools, or kitchen knives

and spoons will tackle the carving, too.

To keep the celebration simple, try a movie

night. Junior Sofia Cupuro recalls her experience

hosting a movie night with friends last year. Cupuro

explained, “Last October my friends and I got those

ghost cookies from Jewel, made our own Hogwarts

Butterbeer, and had a Harry Potter marathon. I

would highly recommend movie nights during fall.

We had a lot of fun, and the butterbeer was spectacular.”

October 20, 2021 westerner/opinions 11


The student-produced newspaper of

Maine West High School, the Westerner,

is dedicated to maintaining the

values of truth, integrity, and courage

in reporting. The Westerner provides an

open public forum for free and responsible

expression of student opinion, as

well as balanced coverage of issues of

student interest. The staff encourages

discussion and free expression between

all members of the school and community

and maintains its responsibility to

inform and educate the student body.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority

viewpoint of the editorial board.

Letters to the editor, which are subject

to editing for length and clarity, must

be signed by name and may be published

upon approval from the editorial

board. Opinions in letters are not

necessarily those of the Westerner, nor

should any opinion expressed in the

Westerner be construed as the opinion

or policy of the adviser, the Westerner

staff as a whole, the school staff, the

school administration, or District 207

school board.



Clare Olson, Raphael Ranola

Associate Chief Editors:

Monisa Yusra, Dimitri Zimbrakos

Chief of Digital Content:

Lena Perry, Samantha Servin

Chief of Design:

Clare Olson

News Editors:

Andrew Stutheit, Samantha Servin

Features Editor:

Lena Perry

In-Depth Editors:

Natalya Bidash, Raphael Ranola

Sports Editors:

Karim Usman, Dimitri Zimbrakos

Opinions Editors:

Heba Penumaka, Joe Thalackan

Entertainment Editor:

Monisa Yusra

Photo Editor: Daelynn Campos

Art Editor: Kyra Harrington

Copy Editor: Pratiksha Bhattacharyya

Assistant Editors:

Sabrina Bukvarevic, Caitlyn Claussen,

Karolina Glowa, Salma Hassab, Mohnish



Anna Toley, Montana Walker, Nitya

Nair, Michelle Kaner, Marc Rizkalla,

Stephanie Kambourov, Timea Matavovoa,

Eleanor Zagroba, Alexandra

Kania, Andrei Badulescu, Dulf Genis,

Emma McGreevy, Abby Wilson, Roshni

Shah, Tommy Burke, Marek Czerlonko,

Daniel Soloman, Zensanna Yost, Destiny

Cross, Anastasia Danz, Madelyn

Scholpp, Carlos Hernandez, Ashley

Nava, Gisselle Gomez, Bruktawit Yigzaw

ADVISER:Laurie McGowan


Schedule squashes opportunities

The senior class of 2022 has experienced

a different schedule every

year for the last four years. This

year’s full block schedule is a frequent

source of dismay for students who

find the inconsistency of the weekly

schedule disorienting and the classes

too long. We need calendars and flow

charts just to remember which classes

we are attending on Monday and

make sure we are prepared.

Some teachers prefer shorter daily

periods to hone key concepts -- this

is especially true of foreign language

and music classes that would benefit

from daily practice -- and allow opportunities

for shorter bits of nightly

homework and more frequent checkins.

Students tend to feel restless and

distracted when they have to focus on

a single subject for an entire block.

Second semester would be the perfect

time to implement a consistent,

identical weekly schedule including

one or three days of the week with

eight periods like in recent years. In

that scenario, students would see each

teacher three or more times per week.

The schedule before and after

school has made this year challenging

in other ways, too.

In the morning, teachers have

faculty meetings twice a week, which

take away valuable time to meet with

their students and build relationships,

offer help, or proctor test retakes. Instead,

both parties have to settle with

brief meetings at the end of the day.

For students who are trying to

be involved in clubs, mornings have

become particularly frustrating since

clubs are unable to meet on Tuesdays

and Fridays because of teacher

meetings. Clubs are also not allowed

to meet on Thursday mornings because

SVC claims sole ownership of

that space. So, clubs have to overlap

their meetings on either Monday

Feeling like a fraud


opinions editor

‘I’m not good enough for this.’

‘I just got lucky. It’s a fluke.’

‘Everyone can tell I’m not qualified.’

Haven’t we all felt like imposters,

like we got a lucky

break but don’t really

belong or deserve

the good things in

life? Or do you feel

like you’re always

faking it but never

making it? Imposter

Syndrome might be

the likely culprit.

Imposter syndrome was first discovered

in 1978 by Drs. Pauline Clance and Suzanne

Imes, who spent many years counseling

high achieving students, administrators and

professors who were all afraid of being exposed

as a fake, or a fraud. Imposter syndrome is roughly

defined as not being able to accept one’s success

because they believe that they don’t deserve their

successes or that they accomplished something simply due

to luck, or circumstances aligned perfectly with each other

so this achievement isn’t because of them, therefore leading

to feelings of fraudulence.

It’s important to note that imposter syndrome is not a

mental illness, but it is something that people feel. According

to Forbes, around 70% of people, however, have admitted

to feeling this way at least once in their life, therefore

making this phenomena extremely prevalent in our society

today. For students, at least, not understanding a math concept

once, or being unable to use extreme terms in their

essays every single time, doesn’t mean that you’ve failed and

you will be discovered as a failure.

or Wednesday mornings. This club

crunch forces students to make hard

decisions and risk the annoyance of

their sponsors and fellow club members

when they have to miss for another

meeting at the same time.

After school meetings -- whether

for help from teachers or clubs --

also are blocked out from Monday

afternoons because of all-school faculty

meetings. Between the addition

of SVC in the mornings and the faculty

meetings after school, clubs have

lost one-fifth of the available time

they used to have to meet.

Amid the chaos of life in and

outside of school, students would

find solace in a more consistent class

schedule. If West wants students to

build connections, the school had

better free up time in the schedule for

students to seek out empowerment in

academics and clubs.


Impostor Syndrome can be a

heavy burden to bear alone, but

there are some tips that TIME

and Harvard Business Review

have given that could be

helpful in dealing with

these feelings.

• Psychologist

Aubrey Ervin states

that the first and

most important step

in combating imposter

syndrome is

to recognize when

you’re experiencing

thoughts of being a

fraud. • Another way is

to reframe your thinking.

You’re not going to know

everything right away, but you

ZENSANNA will as you keep learning and gaining experience.

YOST Making mistakes is normal, and it does NOT mean

that you’re a failure, instead, think of it as an opportunity

to grow and learn.

If you really want to attack these feelings, psychologists

recommend talking them through with a therapist who can

assist in managing and providing more resources to fight

feelings of incompetence or fraudulence.

So often, academics have been turned into a competition,

who has the longest notes, who did them the prettiest

and with the most colors and fonts, and most importantly

how long did they have to stay up to complete them. This

unhealthy competition takes away from the learning process

and fuels the feelings of inferiority. You’re entitled to

think and process information differently than others, but

different doesn’t make you an imposter.

12 opinions/westerner



opinion writer

A once-a-week mental

check in for students

sounds like a great idea on

paper. The problem with

advisory is with the execution.

Assigning random

students together with

a random teacher is a

tough sell. And then,

teaching us breathing techniques

or making us pass a stick around to

share our favorite school memories

is, as freshman Carter Roper puts it,

“It’s just really awkward. Like, why

are we doing this? Y’know?” It’s

clear: something needs to be done if

the school wants students to actually

engage with each other and make advisory


So, how can we fix advisory without

tossing it out completely and still

staying true to its purpose? The first

problem that needs to be addressed

is the general feeling of discomfort

many students feel during this time.

The whole point of advisory is for

students to open up, and that’s hard

to imagine in this kind of environment.

One solution put forth by


opinion writer

Clubs are, in a way, the

backbone of our school. Extracurricular

activities give

high school a more social aspect

and keep students from

getting hung up on their academics

alone. Without them,

the eight hours a day we spend

confined to the building would inevitably

become intolerable.

Certain clubs, however, seem to

have mutated in recent years into a

muddled mess. Everyone wants to

create community, everyone wants

to bring back school spirit, but in

the process clubs are losing their

unique identities.

It’s long been recognized that

Maine West is a progressive school

that likes moving forward. In an

effort to be more inclusive, Maine

West began eliminating leadership

positions from its clubs. President,

vice president, secretary, and treasurer

have long been the four primary

roles in any given club, but

those positions have started to

become obsolete at Maine West.

The best example for this would

be the Student Voice Committee,

a club which replaced our Student

junior Lex Haliotis is

to let students pick

their advisory classmates.

“Let us choose

a couple people so we







actually feel comfortable. I’m in a

class of 30 people, and I only talk

to two of them.” While the school

may want to have students meet new

people, it’s hard to open up around

new people.

Another possible solution might

be to let students pick their advisory

teachers. It’s much easier for students

to be themselves when their teacher

is someone they already know and

trust. Of course, this comes with its

own set of problems. The class sizes

would inevitably be unbalanced, and

it wouldn’t exactly be easy to have a

Council. SVC has few

to no individual leadership


for students, and it has

left a lot of students

wishing for a return

to elected leadership.

According to a Westerner

survey of 152

students, 48 percent believe that

clubs should have individual leadership

positions for students. Having

been to multiple SVC meetings,

I’ve seen first hand the way that a

lack of leaders impacts a club. By

removing these positions, teachers

and staff members end up becoming

the real voices we hear.

This lack of leadership positions

ends up negatively impacting

students even after they leave these

clubs and start applying for college.

Leadership positions in widely recognized

clubs are crucial to a good

college application. Seeing that a

student was a member of the Student

Voice Committee on a college

application doesn’t have the same

impact as seeing they were president

of Student Council.

In addition to dissolving these

positions, clubs are overlapping

in purpose, and these similarities

voice in a sea of 50 students. Not

to mention that not everyone has a

teacher they like or would be comfortable

opening up with.

One solution might be combining

the two aforementioned ideas.

Doing things this way might cover

up their weaknesses when they are

separate. Students without many

friends would be able to pick a

teacher they like, and students in

large friend groups wouldn’t

need a specific teacher to feel

more comfortable. That way,

at least everyone gets to be with

someone they know and are more

likely to actually talk and share

what’s on their mind.

Even if all of the problems with

advisory are solved, there will still be

some students that would prefer to

spend that time in other ways. “Even

if they fixed all the problems with it,

I would still rather not have it,” senior

Aiden Williamson said. It’s just

hard to open up in the place where

the large majority of our stress

comes from. In a society where

we’re expected to be presentable

all the time, where standing out too

much is usually followed by teasing,

it’s asking a lot from students to create

a productive system for advisory.

Too few leaders, too much overlap

have made it hard to get people

involved. Students want to understand

the identity and purpose of

a group before they are going to

buy-in to its mission. Another major

club that seems to have had its

identity diminished is Link Crew.

During my freshman year, I would

meet with my Link Crew leaders

throughout the entire school year.

I ended up making bonds that

helped me get through the uncomfortable

transition from middle to

high school. This year, as a junior,

I looked forward to making these

same connections with incoming

freshmen. However, neither I nor

any other Link Crew leader got this

opportunity, as we’ve only met with

our freshmen and sophomores

once since the start of the year, and

it seems like advisory has assumed

its place. This is clearly an issue,

and one that can’t go unsolved

much longer.

Clubs are vital in a student’s

transition from high school to college.

Leadership positions need to

be reinstated, and the purposes of

clubs need to be redefined.

The voices of our students deserve

to be heard and taken into


October 20, 2021

Stop the pink




opinion writer

An ocean of pink.

A plethora of little

pink ribbons. A swarm

of heartfelt Instagram

posts all spreading

awareness for breast

cancer. But do we

need the same tedious

month filled with pink ribbons, 5ks, and pink

out football games? Do students dress up for

the pink-outs simply for a cute Instagram

photo or do they understand the effects of

cancer or donate to charities that benefit cancer


We are largely going about breast cancer

awareness in the wrong way. People need to

know what breast cancer patients go through.

How would you feel about constantly seeing

the reminder of your disease all throughout

the month of October then seeing it disappear

as soon as November hits? Especially

since much of this “awareness” is just because

it’s trendy or being used for profit.

We’ve all seen that Amazon sells hundreds

of products with the little pink ribbon.

According to the National Breast Cancer

foundation, Amazon is a “ruby partner,”

meaning they donated $5,000 -- which is

outrageously little considering that Amazon

makes on average $232.9 billion per year. It’s

a mere 0.0000002% of their annual funds.

Additionally, the NFL always does something

for breast cancer, whether that is pink games,

pink detail on uniforms, or selling pink products.

Collectively since 2009, they’ve donated

$15 million to the American Cancer Society

but the ACS only used 75% of the money

donated, cutting the dollar amount to $11.25

million. Where does the 25% percent go? Do

big charities really need CEOs that make six

figures annually?

Patients need money to receive treatments

that cost in the hundreds of thousands

of dollars. Doctors and scientists need

money for research to find a cure. While

some big corporations do donate large sums

of money to research, others do not donate

enough, especially in comparison to how

much they brag about their support for the

cause. It’s a lot of hollow gestures.

Society doesn’t need more little pink

ribbons. We need to provide people with

dependable and respected resources where

individuals can donate, where we all can

learn, and where patients can find solutions.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc,

American Cancer Society, Breastcancer.org,

Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and

Living Beyond Cancer are all working towards

a cure and need support.

It’s not enough to dress up in pink and

wear a little pink ribbon anymore.

October 20, 2021 13



under a microscope

If you were ever brave enough to venture out

into the world during the apocalypse that was last

year, you might have seen the various signs strewn

about to give appreciation for

healthcare workers.

Posters celebrating “We Love

Our Healthcare Workers” and

“Heroes work Here’’ were put

out to pay tribute to these selfless

and dedicated individuals

who sacrificed themselves for the

safety and health of others. Now

passing by those same streets and hospitals, I no

longer see those positive signs anymore.

We have a double problem:

most of us are

ignorant of

how the entire

healthcare system

works. Plus,

we know how much

disrespect and hatred

has been directed at

these heroes from a segment

of American society,

so the signs seem like small

thanks in the face of such tremendous

insults. Physicians and

nurses don’t just stop working

because those of us on the outside

think we are approaching some absurd

“normal.” The state of our lives right now




opinions writer

Salmon rice bowls with ice, the House of

Sunny dress, and the song, drivers license, have

all flooded the internet due to TikTok. The greatest

double-edged sword within social media is its

power to dominate and control trends, and Tik-

Tok has become the whetstone that sharpens each

end of the blade.

The app’s algorithm focuses on watch time,

likes, and shares coupled with the self-curated

“For You” page to allow videos to reach millions

of views within hours, a quality unlike any other

form of social media.

TikTok’s diversity of videos has created a hub

of multifaceted trends in food, music, fashion,

dance -- and more.. TikTok is the newest addition

to social media platforms not only used for entertainment

but also as a forum for news and current

events. Like other forms of social media, TikTok

allows the sandwiching of heavy topics together

with entertainment, making the news much more

digestible to a younger audience but also a lot less

trustworthy. The crucial difference between consuming

news from an established news outlet and a

creator on TikTok is credibility.

False news has spread like wildfire thanks to

social media, and the rise of TikTok is dumping

gallons of gasoline into those raging flames.

While false rumors of celebrity drama such as

Kanye West’s divorce have often been the biggest

focal point in TikTok news, there

have been multiple cases of disinformation

and manipulation of

more serious topics. When the

public started receiving the CO-

VID vaccine, a creator on TikTok

shared a video falsely claiming

that 1 in 65 vaccine recipients

were later diagnosed with Bell’s

Palsy, a disorder characterized by

the weakening or paralysis of facial muscles.

This created fear and havoc in the comment

section where those who haven’t received the vaccine

became more skeptical of it, and those who

had panicked about developing Bell’s Palsy. Web-

MD states that -- even before COVID-19 even existed

-- 1 in 65 people were diagnosed with Bell’s

Palsy; meaning the vaccine causes zero increase in

the chance of developing the condition.

Social media leads to distortion of informational

media or sometimes the spread of just blatant

lies. Students see it, and they feel its impact. 64

percent of Maine West students say that the sharing

of misinformation about science, government,

and current events is a big problem, according to

a Westerner survey of 157 students.. An individual


opinions editor

are totally dependent on these incredible people

whose perseverance is undervalued, so I want to

shine a light on how those heroes really live.

Because of how vast the scope of

medicine has become, the term health

care worker isn’t just for doctors: it

encompasses a broad swath of people

including general physicians, surgeons,

and nurses, but also the nursing assistants,

laundry managers, pharmacists,

custodians, social workers and food

preparation workers. The hospital system

that you end up going to for any check ups or

serious conditions is an interconnected network

of all of these healthcare professionals who turn

the cogs in medicine and help us live healthy lives.

Of course, working in any part of the medical

field is not easy, and for good reason. The human

body is a very delicate and complex system,

so treatment is not simple and quick. Especially

now within the medical issues that arise from the

pandemic, hospitals have been struggling to keep

up, but the appreciation they got from the public

in the beginning was a big boost for them. Sunitha

Nair, a wound care and hyperbaric specialist at

Aurora Health Center, recalled how special those

thank yous and countrywide support were to

healthcare workers.

“There’s always a parade for a winning basketball

team or football team, but our nurses were

working so hard,” Nair said. Those thanks were

“well deserved on their part. It was so appreciated.”

Health care workers,

especially in the past year and

a half, have been working

tirelessly, and we as a society

haven’t really been giving them

enough support, especially in

light of how poorly they have been treated

by anti-science, anti-vaccination Americans. Our

gratitude in April of 2020 hasn’t carried forward.

The posters went away, the applause died out,

the meal donations stopped. “People don’t really

realize that it truly has been like a war, and everybody

has been fighting this for so long now,

and it’s been a very long and tedious two years for

us,” Nair said. With vaccinations available for all

adults since the spring, health care workers now

are mainly facing COVID patients who have chosen

not to get vaccinated -- a fact that has made

the jobs of health care workers harder than ever.

The fact that we all are sick of this pandemic

doesn’t mean we should get lazy about supporting

health care workers who are combating the

largest public health problem in a century.

They have been mentally and physically exhausted

by the toll that the pandemic has put on

them, so the small things that we at Maine West

can do for them makes all the difference. Nair

hopes that we all “do a little something; if they

see a nurse in scrubs, even saying thank you could

brighten their day.”


content creator has only a marginal level of credibility

to uphold in comparison to well-established

news sources such as CNN and The New York


When the freedom to distort or lie about information

shared is paired with TikTok’s power

of producing viral videos, it leads to a plethora of

false news to spread, pushing agendas and painting

narratives of the content creator’s liking.

As news becomes intertwined within entertainment,

people rarely stop to check the validity of the

information they are consuming, leading them to

be easily persuaded by the sea of false information

on the app. It also leads to a lack of critical thinking

when absorbing information.

While the benefit of using TikTok allows talented

musicians such as Olivia Rodrigo to fling into

stardom and the immersion of culture through recipes,

it’s time to trade in the convenience for credibility.

Substitute watching one-minute videos trying

to summarize complex issues and lacking credible

source citations for the multitude of reliable news

sources available.

Equally accessible informational 600-word articles

from news sites such as BBC or a 40-minute

podcast from The Daily by The New York Times

allow us to reflect on the current issues and truly

develop a comprehensive understanding of the intricate

issues within our world.

14 sports/westerner

Small girls XC team

aims for big results



With conference this past Saturday at Maine

East, the Maine West girls cross country team is

sending their four best to regionals this Saturday at

Glenbrook South.

Coming off of a fifth place finish at conference,

senior Julia Wolke and junior Kennedy

Young led the team throughout the season. Wolke’s

best time this season for the three mile run

was 18:57 and Young’s came in at 21:30.

“The season has been going well. It definitely

has its ups and downs like anything in life, but I

think I’ll be at my best when it counts,” Wolke said.

Like many other teams, cross country has had

some struggles due to Covid-19. “It affected us big

time. Our numbers are super low this year. A few

freshmen came out this year but later dropped out.

This is the smallest team I have had in all of my

27 years of coaching,” head coach Gregory Regaldo

said. The small number of runners allows

for team bonding. “The numbers are kind of low,

but it makes us closer; we are like a small family,”

Young said.

The coaches are pleased with the outcome of

their season. “I expect nothing but their best as we

move forward. I am so proud of them. Half of

our team is recovering from injuries; we are working

through them to get ready for our competitions,”

Regaldo said.


sports editor

With one more opportunity to improve

their times and post scores to beat

a rival, the girls swim and dive team will

face Maine East on Friday.

This will come before the CSL conference

meet on Oct. 30 at Vernon Hills.

Many girls will use these last few meets

as opportunities to improve for the

post-season, while others see it as a final

opportunity to get their name on the famous

pool records board. The team as a

whole is continuing to improve, placing

fourth overall at the Maine West Swim

for a Cure meet earlier this month.

Looking beyond the conference

meet, a few athletes are preparing for

sectionals at Downers Grove South.

“Downers Grove South is a very tough

section, but I believe our girls will do

well,” head coach Ryan Claus said.

Senior captain Alyssa Harrison, who

specializes in the 500 meter freestyle,

boasts an impressive best time of 5:41.95, and Claus

is looking for her to lead the way at sectionals.

Harrison has finished first in this event at multiple

meets. “I feel like I’m at a point in the season

where my times will continue to drop at each meet,”

Harrison said.

This season has already been record-setting for


Junior Montana Walker

played first doubles, ending

the regular season with

a winning record.




many, including senior diver Audrey Peters. “Last

year I made it on the record board, and this year

I’ve been inching my way up the board with higher

scores,” Peters said. Not only is Peters ranked fourth

in Maine West history in the six meter dive, but she

continues to improve at each meet she competes in.

Junior Michelle Kaner has also had an elite run

this season. Her most recent accomplishment was

october 20, 2021

Serving up state




Finishing third overall at the

Maine South sectional this Saturday,

the girls tennis team has had a

very exciting bounce-back season.

Sophomore Lilliam Dockal led this

victory, finishing second at sectionals.

This means she has qualified

for state for the second year in a

row. The team has been able to find

success despite the fact that they

had to deal with a lot of adversity.

“Honestly, COVID affected us

more this year than last year. Last

year was really relaxed but this

year people are getting sick, and

there’s been a lot to worry about.

Everyone is way more stressed and

overloaded staying up late trying

to get school work done, while last

year they could have it all done at

home,” head coach Tricia Detig


One player that had to miss

time was senior Ali Krieger, who

was part of the first doubles team.

Despite this, Krieger and her partner,

junior Montana Walker, ended

the season with a 11-9 record.

The second doubles team finished

the season with a very impressive

record of 14-6, Junior

Raya Prichisky and junior Domenica

Bondi will most likely be first

doubles next season after the amazing

season they displayed. Playing

since freshman year,the partners

have learned how to communicate

and work together to create a

winning duo. Their second singles

player, Emily Halat, plays against

some of the best individual players

each school has to offer. Despite

having to deal with this challenging

task, she finished the season with

a record of 19-3. Sophomore Lili

Dockal is the first singles player,

playing against the opponents best

individual player each match, she

finished the season with a 14-3

record Not only did they do great

during the season but at conference

Lilli and Emily finished in second

place for first and second singles.

Coach Detig describes the community

that her players have built

and how they bring each other up,

“their teamwork is amazing. They

are always cheering each other on

and picking each other up. They

never make each other feel bad

about anything, and they always try

to focus and have fun.”

Junior Michelle Kaner, who set a

new a pool record in 100M backstroke,

is a top contender for postseason



setting the Maine West pool record for

the 100 meter backstroke. Earlier in the

season, Kaner also got the fifth fastest

times in school history for the 100 freestyle

and backstroke.

As the season comes to a wrap, many

seniors reflect on their last year being on

the team. “It feels nostalgic,” Peters said.

“I’m ready to be done with high school,

but I’m definitely going to miss the team

and coaches.”

Although many girls will be graduating,

there are still plenty of younger athletes

on the team. This includes sophomore

Morgan Vis, who has shown off

her skill in the individual medley and 100

meter butterfly, and freshman Maya Biela,

who has done well this season in the 200

and 500 meter free styles.

“The team is practicing hard the rest of the

season, having afternoon practices every day, three

morning practices a week, and Saturday practices,”

Claus said. “By the end of the season we hope for

90% of swimmers to be at their lifetime best.”

October 20, 2021 15




the Final


u n

The reality of football

is that it rarely leaves

fans completely satisfied.

With an influx of injuries and

COVID contact this season, most

NFL teams, if not all, have been left incomplete.

However, coaches can’t trade and

pick up new players to their hearts’ content

every time one of their wide receivers takes a

big blow. To be able to do more than a coach

can, to be able to own a team-- that’s just the

beginning of fantasy football.

Fantasy football’s purpose is to create your

perfect dream team. That’s all there is to it.

Starting with a simple draft, each participant

gets to mix and match players from different

teams to form one ultimate fantasy team. After

establishing your roster, your team will go

head-to-head with other teams in your league.

However, the amount of preparations you

make and the amount of smack talk you bring

to the table is entirely up to you.

Every Wednesday, junior Aidan Cusack

changes his lineup, or the players he wants to

play that week. “I’d look through my lineup, see who

I’m playing, see who everybody’s playing- and then

I’d have to put in some other guy,” Cusack said. “I

just kind of put whoever I think is going to do

good and pray.” Since you’re not entirely able to predict

breakthrough performances from players, it can

sometimes turn into a guessing game as to which

players you want on the field. But, if you play your

cards just right, there’s a chance your team can be

17-0 this season.

When fans begin to juggle both their favorite

NFL team and their own fantasy team, a central

question surfaces: which team are you supposed to

focus on? Can you truly be a Bears or Packers fan if

you’re cheering for opposing players on your fantasy

football team?


sports editor

The boys cross country team looks to have some

sectional qualifiers come out of the regional

meet at Glenbrook South High School this Saturday.

The top seven runners will be participating

at regionals.

The team is led by senior Andrew Stutheit and sophomore

Ryan Hauptman. Stutheit and Hauptman both

have sub-18 minute mile times for the three-mile courses.


i n

For English teacher Kristen Marshall, her fantasy

team holds a higher position than being a Bears fan.

“I would probably be more upset about my fantasy

loss,” Marshall said. “I have more connection to my

fantasy team.”








Being a football fan becomes a lot more nuanced

when you’re cheering for an individual rather than

a team. Cusack, for example, cares more about his

starting quarterback, Lamar Jackson, rather than the

team he plays for. “I wouldn’t say I would be rooting

for Baltimore, I’d be rooting for Lamar,” Cusack said.

Suddenly, allegiances towards a specific team

become entirely shifted with fantasy football in the

equation. Whether you’re seeking out a single player

or their entire team, it’s a given that a fan will start

to pay more attention to them. “You start watching

games that you would not necessarily watch,” Marshall


The one-track mind of the average football fan

develops into this dual personality, which eventually

may force you to choose between watching one game

Stutheit recorded a 16:34 at the Lake Park invitational on

Sept. 11. On Sept. 25, Hauptman recorded a 17:24 at the

Barlett invitational. Both of these boys are high prospects

to qualify for sectionals, which will be held Oct. 30

at Hoffman Estates.

Even for those not at the top of the rankings, the

team camaraderie helps push each runner to do his best.

“I joined cross country because I knew many of the people

already doing it and how close they are. Everybody

is very supportive of one another, no matter the age or

how fast they are. We all cheer each other on during races

and even during practices,” senior Dashank Joshi said.

When they aren’t running, the team likes to do bonding

activities to get closer to one another. “Oftentimes

after meets, most of the team goes to IHOP to eat lunch

which is a nice bonding activity,” senior Cody Letts said.

“One of the joys of being a cross country racer is

that each race is its own universe. Some are hilly, some

remote, and some are fast and flat,” head coach Nate

Hassman said.


asst. entertainment editor

g e


or another. Your favorite players won’t always be on

your favorite team, and once the drafting process begins,

the “rooting for my favorite team” mindset becomes

harder to take on. “When I was drafting these

players, I was just searching up ‘What are the

best players right now?’ or ‘What is the best

defensive team?’ That’s how I got the Buccaneers

defense,” junior Vuk Glavanovic said.

Each player’s performance in a fantasy team

is the defining quality of fantasy football, but

to keep them playing at their peak is out of a

fantasy manager’s hands. Like any other NFL

team roster, fantasy teams keep a bench for

possible injuries or for tough weeks up ahead.

Each year, the NFL continues to carry a

handful of injured players, some of which

hold starting positions. During the 2020 NFL

regular season, injuries were up 16% just after

the first half. This 2021 season is no exception.

Injuries can’t be predicted, which consequently

impact a fantasy team’s roster.

One of many examples is Christian Mc-

Caffrey, a running back for the Carolina Panthers.

A recent hamstring injury has him off

the field, even though he was ranked number one

in the 2021 PPR Running Back Rankings for ESPN

fantasy football. Yet, the Panthers’ backup running

back may not be the same as a fan’s backup. “You

don’t know what’s going to happen. These players

are supposed to score this many points, and then

they don’t. It’s so random, and that’s why it’s so fun,”

Marshall said.

Realistically, fantasy football is made for fans to

win. When their favorite teams underperform, it

can’t be compared to their fantasy team, which was

quite literally made to put out exceptional production.

But in the end, a fan’s image of a “perfect” team

can’t outdo an old favorite. “I’m not on the 49ers, but

I am this team. This team is me,” Cusack said.


Sophomore Ryan Hauptman finished

fifth at the Wheeling invitational and

finished third at confernece in the

frosh/soph race.

16 Sports/westerner

Junior golfer takes lead for post-season


asst. sports editor

Qualifying for IHSA sectionals

by shooting a 93 at regionals,

junior Sofia Cupuro was a strong

leader for the golf team this season.

Sectionals were held at Bridges

of Poplar Creek Country Club

on Oct. 4, and Cupero ended up

shooting a 104, which left her out

of reach of the 85 that was needed

to move onto state.

“While I was at sectionals, I got

to meet some really nice girls and it

was amazing to see how good they

were; it definitely was a great learning

experience,” Cupuro said.

The team’s lowest score of

175 was shot against Maine South

at Glenview Prairie. Shooting 33

which was just two over par, senior

Angelika Delmaso shot the lowest

individual score of the season

at Glenview Prairie as well. “The

team really enjoys playing at the

Glenview Prairie Golf Course, the

girls know it well, and it’s a great

fit for our game,” Hauenstein said.

After four seniors from last

year’s starting lineup graduated,

coach John Hauenstein began to

focus on “acquiring as much quality

experience as possible in order

to create a strong foundation for

the future. I thought the girls did a

brilliant job of navigating the varsity

experience and adapting to the

quality of play,” Hauentstein said.

Because of the welcoming atmosphere

the team creates, girls

who didn’t grow up golfing were

excited to join the team and learn

this season. “I didn’t know how to

play or what clubs to use at the beginning

of the season; my coaches

and teammates were really helpful

and understanding when teaching

me,” freshman Bridget Blau said.

“Now I am so excited for next season

because of everything that I

have learned.”

On the other hand, Curpuro

grew up golfing and used her experience

to help lead the team.

“My dad has taken me to the driving

range since I was seven, and to

the courses since I was 11, but I

think I really became serious about

the game around 13,” she said.

Cupuro was “grateful to spend

her golf season with super supportive

coaches who were always

there to motivate me on my bad

days. My coach helped me a lot

with my game and swing. I was

able to make a ton of improvements

this year. We had a really

good group of girls and they were

all really supportive of each other.”

October 20, 2021

Junior Sofia Cupuro

tees off with her driver.



way to



Freshmen Logan Amar and

Tommy Kulesza check their

rangefinders to formulate a


On par for success



Juniors Sabrina Bukvarevic

and Sofia Cupuro talk

through how to put on the

down hill hole.

Placing fourth in conference,

the boys varsity golf team

finished with a 9-6 record this


This year’s team was filled

with athletes across all four

grades. Junior Charlie Parcell was

a regional qualifier and freshman

Tommy Kulesza consistently finished

with low scores throughout

the season.

Playing golf at school has a

very different atmosphere than

playing golf outside of school.

“Playing for the school is much

more competitive than you

think,” senior Sayf Taher said.

“It’s a lot tougher when everyone

is watching you.”

Despite the pressure, playing

for West has had a huge benefit

Senior Sayf Taher

putts to finish the



Junior Charlie Parcell

tees off to start the


because of the regular practice

opportunities as well as the indiviualized

coaching. “I enjoy playing

with friends here at the school

and my coaches really help me

out with my game,” senior John

Rings said. This was Rings’ first

year playing golf with Maine


Although not making it to sectionals

like he did last year, Parcell

still ended up with an impressive

Junior Aurelia Lawson

putts at the Arlington

Lakes Golf Course.

season qualifying for regionals.

Parcell has been playing golf at

Maine West since freshman year

and has one more year to get as

far as he can. Next year, he hopes

for a sectional title: “I know what

I’m capable of,” he said.

As this was Taher and Rings’

last season, “I really wished

I played all four years here at

Maine West,” Rings said.

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