Nov 2022

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November 2022

Instead of quiet studying and

reading of books, the LRC transforms

for MW Unplugged, held

twice monthly on Fridays after

school. Students, such as seniors

Deroy Chitan and George

Panagiotidis, collaborate and informally

perform their favorite

music. Read more in ENTER-

TAINMENT, page 4.




volume 64, issue 4

mwwesterner.com + @mwwesterner

2 news/westerner





November 30, 2022



Writing about romance to real life,

Poetry Club meets every Tuesday to

read, write, and analyze poetry, with

their next meeting on Dec. 7.

“We develop student’s abilities

to write emotional, or observational,

pieces of work that

don’t need to be confined by the

structural rules of grammar,” club

sponsor Hussain Khemani said.

When writing poetry, there are

two important parts: writing and the

feedback process. The feedback process

goes by the “oreo method:” positive-negative-positive.

This helps cultivate

the safe space necessary for poetry. Then the poets

have drafting time, and finally, the performances start.

On Nov. 15, Poetry Club had a field trip to Complimentary Café

in Skokie for an open mic night. The event was closed to the public so

the poets could enjoy warm empanadas and poetry within the comfort

of the warm lights and coffee. Poetry Club also has a diverse group

of students involved, but mostly it consists of “students who need to

speak their truth whatever that may be” Khemani said. “That’s what

poetry is about at the end of the day, triggering an emotional response

through writing.”



asst. news editor

Although being geared towards competing in the technical field, SkillsUSA

club is currently working with the Angel Tree program to help improve

the holidays for children in need.

The Angel Tree program, headed by The Salvation Army, aims to help

children in poor financial situations still have a merry Christmas by enlisting

the help of charitable organizations and clubs such as SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA

members are coming together to donate presents on Dec. 5 to a child in

need to give them a merry Christmas regardless of their financial situation.

“We happen to have a four year old little boy, who’s looking forward to

some Legos and a remote control car which I think is a great fit for us,”

SkillsUSA sponsor and Automotive instructor Timothy Heim said. Many

clubs at Maine West including SkillsUSA are “working to make sure that

those children are getting something for the holiday season.”

Beyond December, SkillsUSA is gearing up for the challenge of becoming

a certified chapter of the SkillsUSA organization through the Chapter

Excellency Program. With the partnership with the Angel Tree program,

SkillsUSA takes its first step “to make SkillsUSA more than just a single

competition,” Heim said. SkillsUSA looks forward to doing more and more

work like the partnership in the coming years, and is ready to take on the

end of the year competition. Happening later in the school year in Peoria,

IL, this competition will let Maine West students show off the technical

skills they have learned throughout their time at Maine West in over 100

different competitions, a challenge that the students in SkillsUSA look forward










news editor

After a two-year break, movie night is officially back at Maine West. The

South Asian Student Association is hosting a Bollywood blockbuster film

called “3 Idiots” on Dec. 1 right after the bell.

Reaching a profit of $4.6 billion at the box office, director Rajkumar

Hirani bases a story on the friendship of three students at an engineering

school. “I am so excited that my school is including my culture and

representing people who look like me,” South Asian Student Association

member Simran Ashraf said.

This is a comedic movie that focuses on the social pressures under the

Indian education system. “It’s a great movie, with lots of comedy and a

great romance story,” South Asian Student Association member Fiona

Fowler said. Students can either bring their own snacks or enjoy some traditional

cultural treats that club members have recommended. “I am very

happy that Maine West is acknowledging Asian culture and is exposing

students to the beauty of South Asian culture,” Fowler said.

They are working towards hosting another event based on incorporating

Asian markets that Maine West students could enjoy. “Having the

community that SASA builds is so important because it allows people to

understand that Asia is just more than three countries,” Fowler said.


November 30, 2022 westerner/news 3





news editor

Expressing the life and spirit of Latin culture,

LatinX Club will be hosting a posada on Dec. 9

in the lower commons at 6p.m. The evening will

be filled with food, music by DJ Ragol and a ballet

folklórico by the Aztlan Dance Theatre Company

of Carpentersville, IL.

This event is typically part of a Mexican religious

festival that takes place between Dec. 16-

24. “Everyone is welcome to attend since, instead

of religion, we are celebrating culture. The

posada is used as one of our

major fundraisers, and when

our members graduate we give

scholarships to our leaders,”

Latinx Club sponsor Jenny

Gustavson said.

Members have all pitched

in and are going to bring traditional

Latin food to share

with those who attend. The

DJ attending is of Mexican

descent and close friends with

LatinX sponsor Sandy Flores-

Rodriguez. “I really wanted to

get somebody who shared the

culture, the background, and

the language,” Rodriguez said.



Senior Breanna

Curry checked out

the ceramic tea

pots and bowls

during the trip.




news editor

Pi Sigma Pi honor society students boarded

the bus early Nov. 19 to start their journey to

Chinatown. They went shopping around local

stores and markets around the neighborhood

as part of an immersion experience for club


“Most of the shops had antique bowls,

stuffed animals, and jewelry which I found really

interesting to look at,” senior Breanna Curry

said. Then they learned about Chinese culture

while they visited the Dragon Wall and Zodiac

Square. “This was the first field trip ever I took at

Maine West. It was so much fun to go out and meet

new people,” Curry said.

The students experienced a traditional family-style

lunch at the Triple Crown restaurant. “I thought this would

be a fun field trip because it was a popular field trip in World Cultures

and AP World which students had missed out on during the Covid years,” honor

society sponsor Rachel Hendrickson said.

Pi Sigma Pi has launched two new service opportunities: registering Des

Plaines residents to vote and offering Spanish-language tutoring to asylum-seekers

who have recently arrived in the Chicago area. “I enjoy learning which issues

students are passionate about, and how they want to engage with our school and

our community. Each year is different, as students bring their unique perspectives

and talents to the group,” honor society sponsor Diane Lanham said.






news editor

Thrifting clothes and aiding veterans, the Maine West DECA Chapter

held a Thrift Pop Shop and raised over $600 on Veterans Day.

Senior DECA members Sabrina Bukvarevic, Mia Thomas, and Sofia

Cupuro led the charity event as part of their community giving project for

DECA. “The three of us did a paper last year for DECA, and we wanted to

do another one this year. We chose to do a community giving event because

last time we had a start up business plan, and this time we wanted to be more

involved and interactive with the community,” Cupuro said.

The idea for the thrift store came from the popular, environmentallyconscious

trend of up-cycling clothes. “We thought why not bring it to Maine

West and educate people on fast fashion and how you should buy second

hand,” Cupuro said. 20 members volunteered during their lunch and after

school, and donations were received from students, friends, and family.

“The DECA students have different options for different papers, projects,

and categories to do for their regional and state competitions, and these

three young ladies chose to do a community project where they did a thrift

store. I would say that their event was a success,” business teacher and DECA

sponsor Michael Randazzo said.

4 entertainment/westerner

November 30, 2022








“3…2…1…” everyone will count down with

Santa as the elected officials of Des Plaines pull

down the lever to illuminate the tree in downtown

this Friday.

Starting off the season, the Des Plaines Tree

Lighting Ceremony will be taking place Dec. 2 at

6 p.m. in Metropolitan Square. The night starts

off at 4 p.m. with groups coming together to

decorate their trees. Just like the first tree lighting

ceremony in 1996, organizations in the community

will be highlighted. This year there will also

be a diverse selection of food trucks, the chance

to get a picture by the tree, and a majority favorite:

the fashionable arrival of Santa at 4:45 p.m.

This year’s theme is the “Season of Giving” to

highlight individual philanthropic, school, and

business organizations that make a difference by

contributing to our city.

Key Club has always been a big part of showing

how Maine West gives back, so much so that

they get their own tree each year. “It’s a threepart

process: preparing the ornaments, then actually

decorating the tree, and lastly just hanging

out, drinking hot chocolate, and eating cookies,”

senior Key Club vice-president Kris Modi said.

This act of leadership is not something new due



to their strong commitment to volunteering, especially

with Des Plaines charities and local philanthropic


“The Tree Lighting Ceremony is one of the

few events I have seen where almost every club

comes together to show what they got. This is

one of the special things Des Plaines has that I

don’t think any other town has to such an extent,”

Modi said.

Other clubs that will participate in the Des

Plaines tree lighting event include Polish Club and

Tri-M. Polish Club will have a table to share their

food traditions during Wigilia, and Tri-M will go

caroling to the local businesses.

Along with Artistry in Motion, Maine West’s

very own Wind Ensemble and Choraliers will

take the stage on Friday performing holiday music

for the audience. “I love that there is so much

energy and spirit especially since it is around the

holidays. I mean, it is the season to be jolly,” junior

choralier Haven Wallgren Lemmerman said.

The event is tremendously popular among

students; among Maine West students, 55% have

attended the ceremony in the past, according to a

Westerner survey.

Artistry in Motion (above) performing at

the Christmas Tree Lighting in 2021.

The Marching Warriors (above) and Choraliers

(below) perform holiday favorites

for the crowd in Metropolitan Square.



Freshman Olga Stewart is one of

the newer musicians in the club.

a modern take

on music:




asst. editor and reporter

The sound of upbeat and fun acoustic

music fill the LRC every other Friday after

school thanks to the new music club:

MW Unplugged. The group hosts an open mic

for all students to join and jam out on acoustic

instruments the students bring. Started last year

by librarian Geoffrey Greenberg and now-senior

Matthew Hocutt, the club offers Maine West students

a space to “learn how to better improvise

with your instrument with a group of people,”

Hocutt said. The club usually meets at the back

of the library and everyone sits in a circle. The

group currently consists of guitar, slap drum, and

saxophone players. Usually, one player will start

the jam session with a beat or riff and the others

will join in with their own instruments. In no time

the members are all playing and jamming out together.

Anyone who doesn’t play an instrument is

certainly welcome to watch and listen.

Both founders were introduced to music at a

November 30, 2022 westerner/entertainment 5

Cracking the Code





Many artists have been known to leave

clues or “Easter eggs” for their fans, often

in the form of social media posts, song

lyrics, and music videos, but few have

been as prolific or as popular as Taylor


Swift’s use of Easter Eggs is nothing

new and can be traced back to many of

her early albums. For years, fans have dissected

everything from her lyrics, interviews,

and outfits to try to piece together

a message that she is trying to portray or

to figure out her next step for a future

project or album.

One of Swift’s Easter Eggs for her

most recent album, “Midnights” involved

a video she posted to her Instagram account

in which she began her message by

saying “It’s me, hi.” When “Midnights”

was released shortly after, fans were able

to connect her words with the third track

on her album “Anti-Hero” in which the

chorus begins with, “It’s me, hi” revealing

the artist’s foreshadowing towards the

song within her original video.

Swift has been known to plant Easter

Eggs for her listeners years in advance,

and fans are left waiting to see if their predictions

based on these Easter Eggs are

correct. With her recent release of music,

fans are now able to theorize what the artist

has in store for them in the future. “I

love to communicate via Easter Eggs. I

think the best messages are cryptic ones,”

Swift said in an 2019 interview with Entertainment


A common Easter Egg Swift has used

in multiple past albums including “Fearless”

and “Red” has been capitalizing certain

letters in lyric booklets sold with her

CDs to spell out a message for fans or to

reference a past event in her life. A recent

Easter Egg that is slowly being unveiled

by fans is the potential upcoming release

of the rerecording of Swift’s album

“Speak Now.” On Sunday, Nov. 20 at the

American Music Awards, Swift wore a

similar outfit to the 2011 outfit she wore

when she attended the AMAs. She wore

her hair in her signature wavy curls associated

with “Speak Now” which is leading

fans to believe that the album is soon

to be released. “It seems like everything

she does is intentional,” junior Stephanie

Oceguera said.

Fans of Swift have a major presence

online and in pop culture and are known

to connect with each other via social media

and share their thoughts on what they

think the artist may be up to.

The artist’s use of Easter Eggs allow

her to connect with her fan base and allow

them to bond with each other over

the mystery and suspense she creates. “It’s

known for being her thing, and her fans

are known for spiraling over every single

thing she does, looking for a hint or a clue

to her next move,” senior Lily Orrico said.




“My Chemical Romance released a new comeback song, and

it referenced 9/11 and most fans know that’s when Gerard Way

decided to form the band.”

“For their 4th mini album, ‘Thursday’s Child,’ TXT gave

hints to their fans about the album name such as mentioning

members who had birthdays that fell on a Thursday, like the

name ‘Thursday’s Child.’”

“BLACKPINK recently released a music video for their song

‘Shut Down,’ where they made lots of references and easter eggs

to all their old music videos.”

“Zillakami, because you’ve got to add up what he said in his

previous songs to understand his lyrics.”

“One of my favorite lyrics from Taylor Swift’s song Peace is

when she says, ‘But there’s robbers to the east and clowns to the

West.’ She’s calling Kanye West a clown. There’s been a lot of

drama between those two, and I think it’s hilarious for her to fire

back at him with a simple lyric like that.”

*student responses to an anonymous Westerner survey

young age. “I started playing the snare drum when

I was in 5th grade in the middle school orchestra.

I played my first punk rock club show at Exit in

Chicago when I was 18,” Greenberg said. Hocutt,

on the other hand, started playing piano at the

age of seven, trumpet in the fourth grade, guitar

in the eighth grade, and most recently the drums

only last year. They both wanted a club

where students could hang out and enjoy

playing music together as a community.

And so, they created MW Unplugged.

Any and all student musicians are welcome

to join the club’s practices where

they primarily focus on modern and

sometimes even pop songs. It is, however,

much less of a formal setting than a concert

band or orchestra would be. “We don’t play

with music sheets but more based on chord progressions.

So you definitely learn to play by ear,”

junior George Panagiotidis said. He has been a






part of the club for a month and has been switching

between the alto and baritone saxophone. Students

learn on the go during the meeting times,

and outside of the practices can work on learning

scales and chord progressions to better their understanding

of what notes might fit into the music

the group is playing.

Playing without sheet music might be

nerve-wracking to some, but MW Unplugged

provides practice and the confidence that a

musician might need to do so in a much more

private setting, among friends and classmates.

The next meeting is on Dec. 9, with many

more to come after winter break. “All skill

levels are welcome. All we ask is that you

have a sympathetic ear and let people play

and grow with their instrument,” Greenberg said.

Club sponsor Geoffrey Greenberg

plays along students on

the guitar.


6 features/westerner

November 30, 2022

what West students

have to say

“Now that their favorite

artist is doing it,

it enables their fans to

think differently and

possibly allow them to

spread the same hate.”

It is “causing young

people, especially boys,

to go down an alt-right

pipe line and have genuine

hatred towards people for

stuff they can’t control.”

“Kanye West has a cult

following who will listen

to anything he says, so

when he spreads hateful

messages, many of his

fans will follow blindly.”

“It could leave a bad

influence on the younger

generation by making

them believe that these

hateful messages are actually

good to say.”

“Those who are passionate

fans of said

celebrities can spread

similar hateful messages,

intentionally or not.”

Responses from anonymous Westerner

survey of 90 students

Kanye’s Impact



asst. features editor

Issuing threats to go “death con

3” on an entire religion, rapper Kanye

West tweeted out last month to his over

30 million followers, threats against all

“Jewish people.” After this proclamation,

he was locked out of his account

and the post was removed.

He did not, however, stop there.

West next appeared on the podcast

“Drink Champs”, where he continued

spreading anti-Semitic messages and

then, despite his hateful comments, famously

declared that “Addias can’t drop

me” from their collaborations. Nine days

later, Addias did, following the similar

actions of talent agency Creative Artists

Agency (CAA), Vogue, and Balenciaga,

which also dropped their connections

with West.

The words West shared through the

media didn’t just stay there. They quickly

spread, and his message of hate continues

to reach an unprecedented number

of people. The harmful messages he

spreads allow a place for hate to develop

and thrive. Individuals hung a banner

from a bridge in Los Angeles on Oct.

22 that read “Kanye was right about the

Jews.” That same phrase was projected

on the outside of TIAA Bank Field after

the University of Florida v. University of

Georgia football game a few days later.

To have as big of a global platform

and audience as West has, there is a

lot of influence and power that comes

with it. “Things said online can travel

extremely fast and reach hundreds of

millions of people in such a short time,”

junior Gemima Eyeson said. The internet

allows anyone to speak out and share

their views, and when someone shares a

harmful thought, others will see it and

validate it by repeating it. This concept is

only magnified when the words are coming

from someone with as considerable

of a following such as West.

“Having such a large platform allows

so many people to hear the message and

be impacted by it,” junior George Murphy


West’s statements amplify a larger

American problem with religious hatred

specifically targeting Jewish individuals,

families, and synagogues. “At a time of

rising anti-Semitism, when incidents in

the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2021,

such statements are more than damning

– they are dangerous,” the Anti-Defamation

League wrote in a letter to Addidas,

urging them to drop West’s Yeezy line of

shoes and clothes.

The role that celebrities play in fans’

lives seems to have grown significantly in

recent years and social media has played

a large role in helping create this “idol”

or “star” that so many people look up

to. West is no exception. “People idolize

celebrities and one wrong move or encouragement

can lead to real damage because

some might just follow their word

blindly,” a student said anonymously in a

Westerner survey.

The words and actions of major celebrities

can easily influence their fans

and persuade them to follow their lead

and the example they set. “Some fans

can be so attached to their favorite celebrity

no matter what,” sophomore Mia

Parcell said.

West’s anti-Semitic remarks allow for

others with similar and harmful opinions

to feel more comfortable sharing their

own opinions on social media. His comments

become even more widespread

through news outlets, and are able to

reach an even greater amount of people.

“He’s giving validation for people to be

open about their hate and getting others

to go along with it,” another student

said in the Westerner survey. Through his

words, he provides a platform for hatred

to spread and for these ideas to gain in


November 30, 2022 westerner/entertainment 7















B) “ELF”






The Stress That Stole Christmas


entertainment editor

Despite it still being November, festive

houses ready for Christmas already

dot almost every Des Plaines block.

We all know Americans are notorious

for getting in the holiday spirit

too early, between 93.9 FM starting Christmas music

on Nov. 1 and cheesy Hallmark holiday movies starting

in October. At this point, all we’re missing is a little


The fact of the matter: these outward signs are

outliers. By the teen years, the holiday season may not

feel as warm and cozy as it once did. It might include

fighting over money, stress over the end of the semester,

or arguing with your family over plans. Suddenly,

it’s not the absence of a white Christmas that’s the

problem anymore; it’s finding the joy in the holidays.

For sophomore Elizabeth Stettner, the Christmas

“spark” is something she looks forward to every

year. “For me, the spark hasn’t gone away, but it has

changed. I no longer wait for Santa because I don’t

believe in him anymore,” Stettner said.

As a kid, the holidays usually meant a time to get

excited for winter break and dwell in the festive spirit.

However, the Maine West calendar implies something

else for students. December mainly means the end

of the first





and the

last chance to work for the best possible grades. “I’m

more stressed with the end of the semester than excited

for Christmas. I’m not always productive and procrastinate

sometimes, so December is a time for me to

get everything turned in,” senior Oksana Bidash said.

With just three weeks left of the semester, many

students share a similar sentiment. Students spend

their last days trying to get grades up, retaking tests –

anything to end the year off on a good note. With that,

trying to stay in the holiday spirit becomes more and

more of a challenge.

As our priorities change throughout the years, so

do our definitions of Christmas. Being with friends

and family and establishing a sense of tradition becomes

more and more important with time. Being

able to find that constant throughout the years may be

the secret to reigniting that special spark; it provides

a sense of grounding. Looking forward to a certain

tradition like Secret Santa or watching bad Christmas

movies with your friends is a step in the right direction.

“I lie to my brothers and tell them Santa is coming,

but if they misbehave Santa’s brother ‘Dave’ will rob

our house,” an anonymous student said in a Westerner


“Each year when Mariah Carey defrosts, my family

finds joy in mildly annoying our extended family by

putting up our Christmas tree before Thanksgiving,”

another student said.





















If you got mostly Ds:

“The, the, the... THE GRINCH!” You and Christmas do not get

along. In fact, Christmas might just be your least favorite holiday.

You complain that it’s too cold in the winter, but are you sure

that it’s not just your heart that’s cold? You’re sick of “Respect

at West” and you make sure everyone knows how bitter you are.

If you got mostly Cs:

Christmas comes and goes-- and you don’t care at all. To you,

Christmas is just another day in the year. You might make plans

over break, but hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas

Is You” boils your blood. “Cheer up dude, it’s Christmas!”

If you got mostly Bs:

You like Christmas but need to find the joy a bit more. You love

to do all the fun activities, but you let the stress of gift shopping

and deadlines get to you. Let loose a little! Take this time

to relax and take some time for yourself-- it’ll be gone before

you know it.

If you got mostly As:

Congratulations -- you’re in the running for one of Santa’s favorite

elves. You love the holiday season and don’t try to hide it.

You get in the Christmas spirit way too early...and maybe even

start decorating in November. Oh well -- a little spirit never

hurt anybody!

8 in-depth/westerner

November 30, 2022

westerner/in-depth 9

Bringing the holidays home

Traditional foods

fuse together

culture and identity


in-depth reporter

Food means more than a basic, human need for survival; it means

hope, connection, identity, and often love to people all around the

globe. During the holiday season, Maine West students encounter familiar

memories and feelings that originate from kitchen fragrances.

Every household has a dish they consider a family tradition and it’s

those dishes that bring out a student’s affection for their culture and

special memories of loved ones.

While many Americans eat turkey and mashed potatoes for

Thanksgiving, sophomore Eden Layous and her family take a different

approach to their meals. Instead of eating a traditional American

Thanksgiving dinner, Layous’s family serves traditional Arab dishes.

“We’ll make Freekeh, Batata Ou Jaj (chicken and potatoes), Warak

Enab (stuffed grape leaves), and lots of grains,” Layous said. Shawarma

is also a popular Arab food that she and her family incorporated

into both their year-round and holiday dishes. Layous’s family

dinner table is filled with food different from typical American

cuisine, with lots of fried meats and vegetables rather than cooked

potatoes and poultry.

“All of the recipes are normally made by my aunts, mom, and

grandma; it’s passed down from generation to generation as traditional

Arabic food,” Layous said. The Arab food Layous indulges in

connects her to her culture year-round and makes a meaningful connection

on holidays. Despite eating these dishes frequently, a holiday

like Thanksgiving integrates it into her American identity, too. “It

connects me to my family and tradition as well as culture as a whole.

It reminds me who I am and the environment I was raised in.”

In Polish households, many Maine West students integrate their

cultural dishes into Christmas meals and traditions. During Christmas

dinner, a meal consisting of 12 courses to symbolize the 12

Apostles, red borsch served with uszka is a common dish. As sophomore

Maya Biela explains it, “[Uszka] is a food that my family eats

as a tradition on Christmas Eve. They’re essentially dumplings filled

with mushroom or minced meat.” This dish plays an important role

in Biela’s holiday traditions as it helps her connect her Polish traditions

to her holiday celebrations. “This food connects to my identity

because of my Polish heritage. My family has been doing this for

decades and it’s become a huge tradition. It’s important to me and it

reminds me of my ancestors who passed this down.”

Even with cultural dishes that are served year-round, certain Polish

traditions and dishes only make special appearances on the holidays.

“My mom only makes [Uszka] during the holidays, so it’s an

extra special dish for me,” Biela said.

Consistently, Bulgarian dishes make appearances during the

holidays as well, reminding Bulgarian students of their connection

to their culture and the meaning of their identity. Sophomore

Sofia Nikolova said, “We traditionally make Pitka which is

a bread with feta cheese inside. We eat this on special occasions

like birthdays and Christmas.” Pitka is a dish passed down hundreds

of years ago and originally took its place as a familiar food

in everyday meals. Pitka now is only made for celebrations or big

events, meaning when the holiday season does come around, Bulgarians

are ecstatic. “It’s special to me and my family because it symbolizes

where we came from and how special that day is,” Nikolova said.

The food we eat, whether it’s day-to-day or only on special occasions,

in part makes up who we are. They remind us to think about

our ancestors and be proud of the customs they preserved.


editor-in-chief & in-depth reporter


In Vietnamese culture, individuals celebrate Tet — often referred

to as the Lunar New Year; this year, Tet will be on Jan.

22. During the holiday, family and friends unite in celebrations

that include games, socializing, and food. Families

also pay tribute to those who have departed by offering

food, clothes, and money to aid them in the afterlife. To

Destiny Coss, food is incredibly important on this holiday.

“Making food for the Lunar New Year is a way for

my family to get together, bond, and show the world

how proud we are of our culture. Our food — like Pho,

Bánh Xèo, Vietnamese spring and egg rolls, and Cháo

— not only brings my family together, but reminds us of

those who have passed; the deceased celebrate with us at

that moment,” Coss said.

Since it is a time for Coss and her family to embrace

their culture “unapologetically in the most fun and happiest

way possible,” the Lunar New Year wouldn’t be the same for

her and her family without their traditional food. As she pays

tribute to her departed loved ones, Coss remembers the culture

she shares with them and the culture she keeps alive. Tet

and the Vietnamese food served at Coss’s family gatherings

remind her how important it is to hold onto her culture and provides a way she can

do so.


In Islam, Muslims celebrate various holidays throughout the year, however, Eid

Al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr are the most well-known holidays. Depending on the culture

of each person, food made in celebration of these holidays vary.

For senior Umnia Harb, Maamoul is a staple in her Palestinian household. Maaoul

is a homemade shortbread cookie stuffed with dates or chopped walnuts, dusted with

powdered sugar. To Harb, Maamoul is extremely meaningful as it brings her family

together for many memorable experiences. “Every year, a day or two before Eid,

my aunt and some of my cousins gather at a house to start the process of making

these delicious cookies,” Harb said. The process of making Maamoul, a family affair,

strengthens her connection to her family and culture. “It’s an important part of my

identity; I’m very big on spending as much time with family as I can.”

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a traditional delicacy

known as baklava blesses many households during

Eid. Baklava, a dessert traced to the Ottomans,

Greeks, and Persians, is a layered

pastry filled with chopped nuts and

sweet syrup or honey. Making and eating

baklava is a cherished tradition for

many Muslims, especially senior Amar

Gradjan. “To my family, baklava is

what brings us together and bonds us;

from the process of getting together

and making to it, to sitting down at

the table and enjoying it. The effect is

the same whether it’s with one of my

cousins whom I haven’t seen in a year,

or my parents who I wake up to every



Senior Umnia Harb celebrates with

her close family and good food during



As the one moment American society collectively reflects on

our blessings, Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t only include the traditional

turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie inspired by foods native to

America. Many families incorporate special foods that express

gratitude for their own family’s history and journey.

On Thanksgiving, senior Steven Frausto connects

this American tradition with his Mexican culture specifically

through one of the oldest foods grown in

North America: corn. “[My family] makes tamales on

Thanksgiving, and it truly brings us all together. I help

my mother make them and my father joins in when

he’s not busy working. The process is a bonding experience

for us because of the effort and time we

put into them from

start to finish. I

love how reward-


it is to serve them

family, have them

like it, and be proud of

my integration of our

Mexican culture.”

Frausto’s mother’s tamale

recipe isn’t something that

was whipped up overnight. “My mother’s recipe for

tamales has been passed down through generations.”

To him, tamales represent his Mexican identity and

the strong ties he has with his family. “It shows how

diverse Mexican culture is, as most people only recognize

the surface level like tacos and burritos, despite

there being so much more.”


Senior Destiny Coss takes a photo

with her family during Lunar New Year.

to my



With potato and cheese, sauerkraut and mushrooms, or

beef and pork filings, pierogi are a filled

dumpling that many Polish families enjoy during

the Christmas holidays. “Pierogi is one that’s really

traditional; worldwide a lot of people like

to eat it,” no matter whether served with a

fruit-based filling or something savory, said

freshman Michael Perlak. Perlak also enjoys

his mom’s homemade pierogi with

a special Christmas sauce. “Pierogies are

a meaningful tradition for me during

Christmas because we eat them with this

type of sauce which is really good.”

In Serbia, the finding of a silver coin

in the heart of a decorated loaf bread is

a key part of Serbian Christmas traditions.

Česnica, the traditional bread, is made to

Česnica, a decorated loaf of have special designs on the top. As per tradition,

whoever finds the coin in the bro-

bread, is served as a key dish in

Serbian Christmas traditions. ken bread “will have good luck and wealth

for the upcoming year,” said junior Ksenia

Peric, president of Balkan club. The lucky winner also gets to partake in the eating of

delicious bread. “It’s very good, delectable, if I may say so myself,” Peric said.

Sometimes common dishes taste even better during the holidays. Peric likes to

enjoy sarma — meat and rice stuffed in cabbage leaves — during the holiday season

and year round. Her grandmother’s recipe for the Serbian dish brings the whole family

together during the holidays. “It [the recipe] is just getting passed down through

all of our generations. My grandma died in 2016, so it’s just like a nice way to think

about her and remember her,” Peric said.

Juicy, well-seasoned lamb is often found on the table during Christmas in many

different homes. Junior Haven Wallgrenlemmerman passionately declares, “I’m sorry

if you do not like lamb, and I would never eat a baby lamb, but I’m telling you: lamb

is delicious.” Along with being delicious, lamb is often eaten during holidays like

Christmas and Easter because of its religious symbolism. To Wallgrenlemmerman,

eating food like lamb during the holidays evokes feelings of gratefulness. “We’re very

fortunate to be able to have the luxury of eating foods like lamb and having not just

a potato, but mashed potatoes.”


In Indian traditions, Easter Sunday begins with feasting on appam, a pancake-like

dish made with coconut milk. “It’s a classic,” said junior Alona George. “One

of the times that we eat that is when we have breakfast

together, or at our church on Easter

Sundays.” Appam is usually

eaten with another dish like

beef curry. The day before

Easter, George’s

churchmates all gather

together to make the

appam. “It’s just a food

that brings people together.”

Another classic Easter

dish is Polish white

barszcz, a soup that is

made with hard boiled eggs,

sausage, and other ingredients.

“It’s the food

that you take that got

blessed by the church,

and we eat it the next day,”

explained freshman Michael

Perlak. Traditionally, these

blessed ingredients have special religious meanings;

for example, the eggs symbolize hope in a new life or rebirth.


Feasting on a multitude of dishes, celebrators of the Indian cultural festival of

Onam have plenty of good foods to look forward to. “Onam is another time that

people gather together, sit together, have food with their families,” said junior Alona

George. It typically falls in August or September and ends with a large feast featuring

a delectable variety of vegetarian foods. One of the main dishes, thoren,

is a mixture of chopped vegetables fried in a pan. “My

mom is known as the thoren chef of our house,”

George said proudly. “But, I learned that when

she first came to America she did not know

how to cook very well. And apparently, she

made thoren where the beans weren’t even

fully cooked, and it was just like solid beans

with lettuce!”

The feast culminates with the sweet dessert

payasam, which is a type of milk based

pudding with tiny noodles and other mix-ins

like cashews and raisins. It tastes especially

good after a long feast of spicy foods and the

sweetness helps to cool down the eye-watering

spices. George likes the feast because

it causes people to forget their arguments

and unite over the food. “Those are the

dishes that bring people together,” George

said. “They just work harmoniously!”

Thoren, a traditional Indian vegetarian

dish, is served on special

occasions, such as Onam.

10 features/westerner

November 30, 2022

Keep’n it (Be)Real



“Could you take my BeReal?”

“Your what?”

“Could you just take a photo of us?”

“Sure. Wait… why am I in it?”


This is typically how a first conversation

involving the relatively new app “Be-

Real” goes when someone introduces it to

others for the first time.

To wipe out the stereotype of social

media only showing the “perfect” or beautiful

parts of someone’s life, BeReal is an

app that sends out one notification a day

with a two minute buffer. When the notification

is sent out, all people with the

app are encouraged to post what they are

doing in that very moment. The point of

the app is to “be


real” and let others

know what


you are doing at

random points

of your day. The

app uses both

cameras for a

front and back


The app blew

up over the summer

and much of

the student body

at Maine West is

active on BeReal.

“I found out

about it in the

summer through

my friends who

already had it and

I love using the app. It keeps me entertained

and always has good content.” senior

Aya Deiri said.

The app aims to separate itself from

other forms of social media, where a sense

of reality has been lost. “BeReal is stress

free and allows vulnerability in ways that

other platforms like Instagram do not,”

math teacher John Hauenstein said. Other

social media platforms allow the ability for

people to post whatever they want, however

many times a day they would like. Pictures

posted on those platforms are edited,

filtered, and contorted to make the person

or people in the picture look perfect.

Sometimes the goal is just to get as many

likes as possible.

This has become an unrealistic standard

and has upset many people which

Instagram in turn responded to, and now

gives the option for hiding like counts.

On BeReal, there are no likes but you

can react to others’ BeReals. “BeReal

stands out compared to other social media

platforms because you are posting normal

things you are doing during your day, and

you don’t have to try to be perfect because

that’s not the point of the app,” freshman

Sami Alam said.

The app has taken off within the teenage

community. In a survey conducted by

the Westerner, 65 percent of the student

body posts on BeReal every day.

When students first began going back

to school, instead of the BeReal going off

at the pool, a summer job, at home relaxing,

or in the car, the notifications began

going off during the school day. Instead of

ignoring the notifications

or facing not “being real,”

students started asking

their teachers to take them.

“I think it’s a great way to

bond with my students and

create memories,” Hauenstien

said. Many students

wait until it is a good time,

either during individual

work time or a passing period

to ask teachers to take

their BeReal.

“Students have been

extremely respectful with

the app and it only takes

two seconds to take a picture,”

history teacher Bryanne

Roemer said. “I’m in

a few BeReals everyday!”

Having teachers take a








BeReal has been very fun for students in

them as well as other students who have

the app and see the other BeReals posted

throughout the day. “I always enjoy seeing

my friends have their teachers take their

BeReals. Their reactions are funny,” Alam


Among the many apps that come and

go, BeReal seems to be one that will be

here for a while. It is a refreshing way to

use your phone, to do something other

than just endlessly scroll. “I’m always excited

for the BeReal notification to come

out everyday,” Deiri said.

While waiting for a looming notification

to be able to post what you’re doing in

the moment may seem pointless to some,

it is another way for students to feel connected

with each other. “I try to post mostly

on time everyday, and I think it’s fun to

see what everyone is doing,” sophomore

Brody Kroschel said. In a survey conducted

by the Westerner, 75 percent of the student

body said BeReal as a more positive

form of social media compared to other

platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, or


Although the app stands alone in its

uniqueness, it is not patented or trademarked

so other social media apps such

as TikTok have been copying BeReal. Tik-

Tok’s version of BeReal is called “Now”

and sends out a random notification during

the day and asks its users to post a “Now”

when the notification goes off. The camera

uses both lenses at the same time and does

not allow its users a few seconds to switch

up the camera angle like BeReal. “I don’t

really use it, but when I tried it out I didn’t

like it as much as BeReal,” Kroschel said.

September 14, 2022 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.



Sabrina Bukvarevic, Caitlyn Claussen

News Editors:

Carlos Hernandez-Hernandez,

Mohnish Soni

Features Editor:

Michelle Kaner

In-Depth Editor:

Sabrina Bukvarevic

Entertainment Editor:

Karolina Glowa

Opinions Editors:

Salma Hassab, Timea Matavova

Sports Editors:

Daniel Solomon, Caitlyn Claussen

Photo/Art Editor: Gabby Szewczyk

Digital Editor: Andrei Badulescu

Assistant Editors:

Aleksandra Majewski, Caiden

Claussen, Teagan O’Connor, Thomas

Noonan, Zonna Todorovska


Weronika Kmiec, Ysabela Ang, Joey

Bruno, Brooke Capper, Jris dela Cruz,

Cynthia Del Rio Martinez, Rohan

Doma, Emilia Ezlakowski, Paige Foster,

Bethsy Galvan Acevedo, Alexandra

Kania, Evlin Mathew, Taryn McGannon,

Emma McGreevy, Nikhil Nair,

Emma Penumaka, Addison Stutheit,

Emily Wojnicki, Bruktawit Yigzaw,

Anna Tooley

ADVISER: Laurie McGowan


punishing the bad, instead of


Underclassmen, the youngest siblings

of Maine West, lack basic Maine West culture that set our upgotten

honors that used to be part of

maturity – strutting the halls with perclassmen apart from the crowd.

incredible entitlement, proudly waltzing

into class when they please, doing for. When you earn the title of presi-

Underclassmen have nothing to work

the amount of homework that best dent, for example, you have a title you

suits their packed agendas of trashing

the cafeterias without a care in uphold. The line between underclass-

have to represent and expectations to

the world. This kind of behavior is men and upperclassmen, however, is

corrupting our school environment, now blurred by a distorted definition

but do they ever see upperclassmen of “equality.”

highlighted for following a more successful,

respectful path?

to underclassmen; we allow them

The wrong message is being sent

There are clear grounds as to why to think that they have just as much

underclassmen act the way they do: authority or deserve just as much

they lack role models.

say as seniors do—but this simply

Seniors are left in the dust; the isn’t wise. Seniors hold the greatest

amount of experience compared

once-respected duty of passing on

wisdom from one class to the next to the rest of the school, and they

is a thing of the past. Only 16% of should be set apart as exemplars for

students think that Maine West is others to follow. Their talents and

doing enough to recognize seniors knowledge should set the standards

for their achievements and contributions,

according to a Westerner survey. If underclassmen never see seniors

high, with respect as the foundation.

What do they have to show for their being recognized for their hard work

work? A piece of paper at graduation?

Seniors used to always be talked have to strive for?

and dedication, though, what do they

about, being the center and ultimate As important as it is to stress

goal for the underclasses. Senior brag equality, the natural hierarchy of

boards, the senior lunchroom, and classes is being dismantled; Maine

Student of the Quarter are long for-

West is a jungle without its lion.

Time’s Ticking

We’re running out of water. No more crisp,

gulps of water on hot summer days, 3

a.m. quenches, or even water parks.

Drastic climate changes and overconsumption are

hurling us towards global water shortages as soon

as 2030.

Don’t fret, though, humans have

made it crystal clear our more pressing

interests include going to Mars. We

won’t be coming back to our beloved

bits of dust and debris if we don’t


You’re probably wondering, how

are we running out of drinkable water

if Earth is mostly water? Despite

being nearly 71% water, our freshwater

is limited. Only about 3% of Earth’s

water is freshwater, with much of it hidden

underground or frozen inside glaciers in addition

to the portions too contaminated for consumption.



In reality, freshwater is a sacred resource we should be

more attentive to. Almost half of the world’s population

doesn’t have access to clean, drinking water. As our population

increases rapidly, so does the number of places with

dirty water.

After a mere 11 years of Earth housing 7 billion people,

it’s now home to 8 billion. The demand for agriculture, energy,

and infrastructure has never been greater. Freshwater

strain is becoming a grave issue and has even led us to







• “There isn’t really anything in front

of the whole school for seniors. Sure,

at sports events, but that’s just for athletes;

there are not awards or achievements

for seniors to be presented in

front of everyone.”

• “I know it’s hard to award all

when they do so well, but there are

so many good seniors I know that

deserve to be recognized.”

• “I remember my freshman year the

seniors were always talked about, and

now feel like that’s not the case anymore.”

• “They took away some of the best

parts of acknowledging seniors like

class president and Homecoming


• “We don’t announce any seniors for

anything, and we got rid of the senior

handprint wall which was a staple at

Maine West.”

• “As a senior I feel like we’re treated

as any other class when in reality

we should get a little more acknowledgement

for being leaders and for

the other things we do to represent

Maine West.”

become reliant on snow-water each winter.

Let’s not forget that it doesn’t snow or

rain in every country. These same countries

don’t have a sufficient water source

to rely on, traveling hundreds of miles

just for a sip of water.

The same goes for thousands of species of

animals and plants that face death from dehydration

along with dried out forests. We’re killing

not only ourselves, but everything we share

our home with.

Half of the world’s population could be

living in areas facing water scarcity in the

next two years, according to the United Nations

Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Half of the world.

Scientists, politicians, and even

ordinary people have the power to

change this imminent crisis. If we’d

just focused our attention on real

needs, we wouldn’t be facing this

problem in the first place. Water

doesn’t come from the moon or

Mars, it’s a vital resource that every

living organism needs to survive.

We shouldn’t be wasting the

little time we have left.

12 opinions/westerner


There’s a new bird joining the 1,445-

long list of birds facing extinction. And

it’s Larry T Bird, the infamous symbol for

the beloved micro-blogging social media

platform Twitter.

Twitter is known for being a discussion

hub for topics ranging from weird

food combinations and pop culture news

to global activism and politics. Recently,

particular American politicians have hijacked

it to not just advance their agendas

but to incite violence.

It remains, though, the core of American

political discourse. The Pew Research

Center found that 69% of

Twitter users get their daily

news from the platform.

It is a resource

that Americans use

to find credible

and genuine


Now that it’s

owned by multibillionaire

and Tesla

CEO Elon Musk, that appears to

be changing.

Despite his questionable character,

Musk is idolized because of

his wealth. Musk has compared the

Canadian Prime Minister Justin

Trudeau to the German

dictator Adolf Hitler, threatened

to decrease the wages

of his staff if they unionize,

and called anyone panicked

about the coronavirus

“dumb.” The purpose Twitter

serves for our society has

no relation to running companies

like Tesla and SpaceX.

Musk is not some sort of

altruistic philanthropist advocating

for equality and

protecting the rights of free

speech. It’s clear he bought it just to make

a quick buck. We are all paying the price,

though, as Musk has allowed – and even

encouraged – dangerous hate speech to

bloom on the site.

Researchers from Montclair State

University discovered that hate speech

quadrupled from 84 tweets per hour to

398 when Musk bought it.

Musk, though, is not just some innocent

bystander as the app erupts with

violent threats, bigotry, and antisemitism.

As the person who fired members of

the Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability

board who usually mute these


tweets and ban accounts of those spewing

hate or misinformation, Musk is to

blame. Accounts that preach violence, extreme

conspiracy theories, or dangerous

misinformation used to get permanently

banned. This included people like KKK

leader David Duke, the notorious Sandy

Hook denier Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes

who is the head of the white nationalist

Proud Boys. Given that Musk doesn’t believe

in permanent bans, these accounts

and others like them have a chance of

being reinstated. In fact, many of the

worst offenders had their accounts

restarted last week. But the fun

doesn’t end there! Musk,

the richest man

in the world,

still yearns for

more. He has

fired nearly

half of the

company’s workers

WERONIKA KMIEC for no fault of their

own. With fewer employees

to pay, he’ll maximize profits.

Additionally, Musk is

considering charging users

a $8 monthly fee to be verified

on the app. Essentially,

it’s a subscription to prove

that you can be trusted to

be the person you say you

are. As we’ve already seen,

anyone will be able to buy

someone’s credentials and

the trust of millions of users.

If you want to see how

quickly that sham process is destroying

Twitter’s user base and its ad revenue,

just google “Twitter fake” and “Pepsi” or

the pharmaceutical company “Eli Lilly.”

Those are two of thousands of examples

recently of how regulations and rules actually

matter if you want to have a successful


Twitter’s future under its new management

doesn’t appear to be particularly

promising. If a social media site is overrun

with Nazis, white supremacists, and

Q-Anon conspiracies, it cannot be a hub

of American political discussions and

news updates.


opinions editor

November 30, 2022

Beauty is Pain



Bunnies, rats, hamsters, and

guinea pigs are all commonly

found as pets in the homes of

families across the globe. However,

they are just as commonly

found in factories and laboratories

for the cosmetics industry.

No, little bunnies aren’t having

their eyelashes lifted and


And no, rats aren’t getting

their foundation color

matched, with the hamsters in

the corner trying to

find their perfect red


The reality is

much more sinister

and cruel. These

animals are being

mistreated and disregarded

for what they

are: living breathing


The torturous

procedures being

performed are certainly

not for the

faint of heart. These cute,

fluffy animals endure chemicals

that are gagged down their

throats, injected into their eyes

and body, and slathered all over

their shaved skin.

The most infuriating part?

Thousands of innocent animals

die in vain for utterly unnecessary

experiments. Companies

are fully capable of creating

their products using ingredients

that are already proven safe for

human use without the need

for further testing. Plus, there

are now modern chemical testing

methods that are actually

faster, more reliable, and less

expensive that don’t involve or

require animals to suffer. So,

why do some of these cosmetic

companies still continue testing

on animals when there are

alternatives? Simply to see if

chemicals could potentially be

harmful to consumers but it’s

also to defend themselves. In

the event of a lawsuit. They’d

need to prove that their product

was actually tested.

Still, animal testing isn’t legally

required or the only way

to demonstrate that a company’s

cosmetics are safe, which

makes the continuation of it

that much more frustrating.

Despite the fact that some

cosmetic brands may utilize animal

testing, there are products

made by cruelty-free brands

that are just as accessible with

even safer, higher quality ingredients.

In fact, cruelty-free

products tend to steer away

from strong and harmful

chemicals and toxins, making

them a cleaner

and greater

option for humans,

too. An

easy way to

determine if

a product is

cruelty-free is

by looking for

special certification


the most recognizable


would be the

leaping bunny

from the Leaping Bunny Program

and the pink-eared bunny

from PETA’s Beauty without

Bunnies. They guarantee that

no new animal tests were done

in the development of the


But, pay close attention because

there are unofficial seals

that are merely slapped onto

packaging to frame a brand as

credible and trustworthy.

There’s more to a product

than just its aesthetically sleek

packaging. The pleasing and

seamless design of a product

can serve as a disguise to hide

what is really going on beyond

the walls of a company’s facility:

blatant animal torture.

It’s critical for consumers

to be aware of the values and

principles cosmetic companies

follow. In an ideal world, we

would wash our hands of animal

testing practices for good.

The small steps to this future

starts with you. The next time

you take a trip to Sephora,

please consider which brands

you’ll be supporting when you

decide to buy a product.


opinions columnist

November 30, 2022 westerner/opinions 13












You wouldn’t click on that, right? It’s clear clickbait.

Yet posts like these seem to show up everywhere.

Why? All fingers point to the magical algorithms

of social media.

You’ve probably heard of an

algorithm before, but you might

not know what they actually are.

Sorting algorithms on social media

will prioritize posts appearing

on your feed that are “relevant.”

Basically, an algorithm is written

to analyze what you’ve seen, liked,

disliked, and shared. It then channels

content to you that is similar

or related to what you’ve seen.

This sounds great, since you

get to see what you like! Well, not


Social media promotes what will keep users engaged:

posts that will keep them online longer and

more often. The one thing that does that better

January 1, 1983.

This date is widely considered the

“birthday” of the modern internet. 40

years later, could we function for even

a day without it? Our efficiency, our

effectiveness - it all centers around being


But the negative ramifications of

being chronically online have begun

to show themselves more clearly, and

the sinister reality has become evident.

Being constantly online has exposed

everyone to everything available with

the click of a button or the swipe of

a cursor. Communication with strangers

has become easier than ever, and

this effortless contact has led to the

rise of a dangerous phenomenon: the

alt-right pipeline.

The alt-right pipeline refers to

the direct line between the violence

spewed on online sites and video

games, and actual violent crimes, often

committed by members of the altright.

These sites and games may seem

completely innocent at first; the purposes

of them are to create genuine

human connections across state and

country lines. How could they lead to

shootings and terrorist attacks?

But the evidence is overwhelming.

These online sites and games regularly

sway susceptible teenagers into accepting

thoughts and ideologies that

they never would’ve considered beforehand.

According to the Pew Research

Center, 97% of teenage boys

play video games, many of which feature

violent content.

Almost one in four of

these players, 23%, said

they have been “exposed

to discussions about

white supremacist


Reddit, perhaps the most infamous

example of an online site where

teenagers become exposed to radical

ideas, was visited over 1.7 billion times

in just May 2022. There is no lack of

places for young people, particularly

young boys, to become introduced

to these ideas — ideas ranging from

white supremacy to homophobia, Islamophobia,

sexism, and much more.




It would be easy to dismiss these

examples of violence as outliers. But

examples of these acts of violence

right next door to Maine West prove

otherwise. Very few of us will forget

the Highland Park shooting on July

4, where seven people were murdered

in a mass shooting during

a parade.

The apprehended shooter

had regularly visited message

boards discussing

graphic, violent images

of death. The shooter

was also a vocal

Trump supporter, and

had attended many

right-wing gatherings,

slowly becoming exposed

to the ideas

that would culminate

in the horrific July 4


The harsh reality is that the majority

of the perpetrators of this kind of

violence are men – in particular, male

supporters of the Republican party,

according to Politico. As convenient as

it would be to dismiss the correlation,

it cannot be denied that there is yet

another link between violent thought

and violent ideology – this time, political

ideology. Together, these ideas

than anything else?


When we’re mad, we spend more time online

arguing and having trivial fights in the comments.

As you know, it takes time to craft the perfect scathing

retort to a comment on a video about mashed

potatoes! And while you’re taking the time

to come up with your literary missile, social

media companies are making more and more

money off of you. Social media monetizes

our anger by continuing to show us divisive

content, leading to the company gaining

more ad revenue

Anger and rage are extremely profitable:

billions of dollars are being made yearly by

social media companies and their executives

online, in


with the

ideas being


from political




in vulnerable


and result BY SALMA HASSAB

in the unforgivable


opinions editor

lence we see.

This normalization of violence

starts young. People begin accessing

sites like Reddit as early as middle

school. It needs to be understood that

thoughts and ideologies are not a joke

– they regularly snowball into violent


Degrading comments and slurs are

being framed as “jokes,” rather than

being addressed for the toxic poison

they are. This culture online has promoted

dangerous hatred for members

of minority groups for decades, and

unless we all start taking it seriously,

the resulting violence shows no signs

of stopping.



thanks to algorithms that amplify hate and divisiveness.

If I asked most of you reading this

what you thought about the rich, you probably

wouldn’t say very kind things. In fact, many

arguments on social media are about exactly

these issues: economics, finance, wealth distribution,

and a particularly hot topic, minimum wage.

Isn’t it ironic that our constant, mindless complaining

online feeds the wealth inequality that we

hate so much?

We are too busy fighting with each other to realize

how we are being manipulated for massive profits

and salaries for these companies.

We’re all guilty of these petty arguments. It’s easy

to denounce the bickering we do online, but social

media is addicting. It hooks you in and doesn’t let

go: that’s the whole point. Sometimes someone just

says something so stupid and unbelievably dumb

that you can’t even fathom how their simple little

brain works and you just have to respond and —

But you have to stop yourself. Just take a deep

breath and move on, no matter how ridiculous they

sound and how badly you want to respond. In the

end, all you’re doing is wasting your time, perpetuating

the divide in our country, and lining the pockets

of some CEO who will continue exploiting your

emotions and our hostile national climate. We may

not be able to do a lot about these wealthy hotshots

with their stock portfolios, helicopters, and caviar

rooms (or whatever else rich people have) but by

practicing online pacifism, we can stop ourselves

from becoming another goof in a sea of goobers.

14 sports/westerner

November 30, 2022






sports reporter

Thanksgiving allows for people to gather with

their families, appreciate their blessings, enjoy indulgent

food, and focus -- for some people -- on

the most important part: football.

Whether playing it with family at a park or

watching it on TV, the holiday features multiple

games on Thanksgiving day and is rooted into

Thanksgiving plans and traditions. “My family has

had a football game on Thanksgiving for decades.

We play with other families in the neighborhood

and longtime family friends for two hours in one

of our backyards. The dads play with us while our

moms sit inside with coffee. My friend Madeleine

and I are the only girls that have been participating

in the game for years, especially since we play

tackle football,” senior Mia Thomas said.

How did football become a part of tradition on

a holiday that is supposed to be about being thankful

for your blessings? It started in 1933 with the

Detroit Lions; the team was struggling to fill the


and decided

to host a


day game against the undefeated

Chicago Bears. This strategy was a success,

and they ended up having record-breaking attendance


Thirty-two years later, in 1966, the Dallas

Cowboys attempted the same strategy and

hosted a scrimmage on Thanksgiving day to gain

more publicity. They too ended up getting overwhelming

numbers and have since continued the

tradition. Since the year 1978, both the Lions and

Cowboys have played a home game on Thanksgiving.

More recently however, the NFL added a

third game on Thanksgiving with different teams

playing every year.


With the NFL occupying TV screens last Thursday,

many families found ways to incorporate

football into their thanksgiving traditions. “Every

Thanksgiving day, it’s a tradition to go over to my

grandparents’ house for dinner and then watch

whatever game is on,” sophomore Frankie Lobello


This is the case for many families as this activity

is a fun way to spend time and bond together.

“After we eat, we play many different board

games and card games while also watching the

football game,” sophomore Robert Young said.


Always on the move, no time to recover


asst. sports editor

Imagine being at school from 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.

throughout the entire school year. Three-sport athletes

have a full time job of representing Maine West on the

fields, courts, and tracks of the school. And as fall sports

came to an end, winter sports picked right up with athletes

racing from a fall sports practice to a winter tryout in the

same day.

Athletes sometimes have a main sport or one that takes

top priority, and the other sports they play help as a form

of off-season training and skill development. “I started

doing cross country and track to help me in basketball, but

I got really good at track, so now track is my main sport,”

junior Amelie Mach said.

But this doesn’t mean that everyone who plays multiple

sports does it for the same reason. “I also think that being

a multi-sport athlete is incredibly helpful in so many

different ways,” senior Jaclyn Riedl said. “It helps you not

get burned out on a particular sport, and It helps prevent

injuries that single-sport athletes get.”

Being a three-sport athlete amplifies the obstacles of

being successful outside of athletics, too. It is already difficult

enough for all students to balance school work on

top of their practice and game schedules, but seniors also

have to add the stress of college applications. “It’s definitely

been really challenging trying to get college applications

done while playing multiple sports at a time. I’m also

trying to recruit for volleyball, so sending emails and film

to coaches has been a large part of the college process as

well,” Riedl said.

Living life constantly on the go with no breaks, takes

top tier time management skills and extreme dedication to

their sports. “I do cross country, basketball, and track. But

I also dance outside of school so there really isn’t a break

for me,” Mach said.

Playing three different sports requires lots of physical

skill, and to keep up with the physical demands of three

different activities, athletes have to train in a variety of

ways. Whether it’s running a couple miles every day for

cross country or playing three on three in fall for basketball,

athletes have to maintain their skills for all three

sports even in the off season. “I work out year long, but I

add in more cardio when I’m not doing cross country or

track,” sophomore Jesse Martin said. For athletes to compete

at their best in all sports, they have to be committed

year round.



of students play three sports



of students play two sports



of students play one sport

From a Westerner

survey of 93 students

November 30, 2022 sports/westerner 15


steps towards



sports reporter




The publication of bad decisions deeply affects college bound athletes.

When you cannot see the people watching you do something, it seems as if

nobody is – which can lead to bad decisions.

While colleges expect clean social media accounts on every platform, structured

behavior has to be learned somewhere. “Our program does not implement

strict rules regarding social media, but we remind our student-athletes that everything

we do and say represents not only ourselves, but also our program, our school,

and our community,” Maine West varsity girls basketball coach Deanna Kuzmanic


Unclear guidelines from high school programs and coaches can lead to an athlete

making crucial mistakes that cost them opportunities later. “Anything on social media

can be scrutinized,” deputy athletic director at Northwestern University Janna Blais said.

A college’s view of a post, regardless if you personally consider it appropriate, ultimately

can determine a high school student’s path to becoming a collegiate athlete.

“When there is a list of athletes who all have very similar abilities, but there are one or

two that put questionable things out there on social media, it is very easy to eliminate them

from that list and keep athletes that you know you can trust to represent their program in the

right ways,” Maine West football coach Michael O’Brill said. Those trying to play in college

typically have similar skill levels, meaning small details get magnified. Digital footprints last a

lifetime, allowing college coaches easy access to uncover inappropriate behavior from any age.

The unfortunate reality is even one social media post can lead to a senior athlete losing their spot

to someone else.

But social media can also provide athletes with advantages when it comes to recruitment. Using

social media to present themselves can heighten interest from potential scouts and help scouts find

athletes in the first place. “Twitter definitely gives you extra exposure since you can be seen by any

coach on there,” senior baseball player Charlie Parcell said.




sports editor

Spaces where athletes can promote themselves, like HUDL or Twitter, connect traditional recruitment

with modernized technology. “Hudl can also be used to help student-athletes create highlight

tapes and share them with college coaches who otherwise might not have a chance to see them play,”

Kuzmanic said. Athletes’ personal accounts allow college coaches to communicate with student athletes

and their coaches without taking a trip to see the athlete play in person.

“Being able to see updated film of athletes on social media is vital to recruitment and marketing,”

O’Brill said. Understanding that recruitment does not come without committing to the work of marketing

oneself is vital for student athletes looking to take the next step in their athletic career. It also requires the

effort of their coaches, too. 10% of all self-promoted prospects receive scholarship offers, while 20% of

athletes promoted by their high school coaches get offers, according to data by the National Scouting Report.

Being able to positively mold one’s social media in a way that promotes oneself provides an upper-hand in such

a competitive world.

Navigating the rights and wrongs of social media presence of any kind is a useful skill inside and outside of

school sports. As social media platforms expand, student athletes need to continue to combat new challenges regarding

conduct in each respective platform. It all comes down to student athletes taking personal accountability or

their potential athletic careers and life moving forward.

Athletes often have to endure workouts that are mentally and physically

demanding. No matter the season -- whether the sport is fencing, swimming

or basketball -- athletes push themselves through brutal workouts in their

quest for a successful season.

“We end with 10 straight minutes of core. We have to lie on our back

and hold a leg lift for a minute and a half, while doing other intense

things like crunches,” senior fencer Daniel Roque said.

Not everyone realizes how physically and mentally strong athletes

must be. Despite these tough workouts, Roque has been fencing for

four years at Maine West. Core workouts aren’t the only difficult workouts

athletes go through, though.

“The worst ten minutes of practice are when we do ‘suicides.’ We

start on the baseline and touch the closer free throw line then run

back to baseline. Then we touch the half court line and run back

to the baseline. Then we touch the further free throw line and run

back to the baseline. Finally, we touch the other baseline and run

back to the original baseline,” senior basketball player Shannon

Walsh said.

Sports workouts can be just as difficult mentally as they are

physically. “The worst ten minutes are the middle of the set,

when it’s just you in the water and there’s no one to motivate

you. People don’t realize the mental aspect that is needed for

swimming,” senior swimmer David Jimenez said. Jimenez

has been swimming consistently since he was 13; he has

gotten accustomed to the workouts but it’s the mental part

of swimming that remains a struggle – for him and for

many athletes.

Athletes have their own ideas about the best ways

to achieve results and keep teammates motivated. “If

I could design practice, I would probably have a day

where we scrimmage and then rest afterwards. Everyone

on the team enjoys competing with each

other,” senior basketball player Issac Pittman said.

Pittman isn’t the only athlete who would orchestrate

a practice like this. “If I could design

a practice, I would scrimmage for most of the

practice. Then we would play knock-out at the

end,” Walsh said.

Each sport has its own demands, and athletes

know they can’t completely cut out the

least desirable parts. “I’d have us do dynamic

workouts, footwork, and bladework. Then I

would only do core for the last five minutes

instead of 10,” Roque said.

Another athlete had something more

uniquely independent in mind. “I would

just have everyone run off and just do

their own thing. Everyone knows what

they need to improve on,” Jimenez


16 sports/westerner


athletes Warriors moving


November 30, 2022




Hoping to support the larger group of

Maine West athletes, W.A.P.A — Warrior

Athletic Players Association — has been

planning initiatives that will address athletes’

needs beyond their sports.

W.A.P.A. focuses on one goal a month;

the goal for November was improving

nutrition and fitness for athletes. Members

planned to attend events sponsored

by W.A.P.A. that would present what an

athlete should be eating and what choices

are healthy. Senior W.A.P.A. commissioner

Anna Montanile said, “we’re going to be

doing a W.A.P.A. wellness table, and it’ll

just be like a stand where you can get

drinks, protein bars, snacks, and stuff like

that. Just for athletes to be promoting what

they should be eating that should be nourishing

them before games and practices.”

The goal is for players to learn to make

healthier choices that overall improve their


Coaches search for leaders in their

teams and recommend them to this association,

as only recommended athletes are

able to be a part of W.A.P.A. Once recommended,

a form is sent to an athlete which

is then reviewed by W.A.P.A.

W.A.P.A. is a group of chosen athletes

who meet one to two times a month, have

breakfast together, and then work together

towards the goals they have set for themselves

for the month. In these meetings,

students organize what their plans are for

the month and then execute their plan outside

of the meetings. For example, making

healthy choices is an effort put forth outside

of the meetings. “Our meetings are

just in order for us to organize what we’re

going to do and then the actual time committed

into the program is a lot outside of

the meetings,” Montanile said.

The W.A.P.A. community shares the

same interests and goals and is divided

into smaller groups of 2-3 athletes of each

sport. They all have a common goal of

promoting athletics. Senior Abby Becker

said, “we’re all super friendly, very leaderlike,

so there’s a lot getting done, and we all

have the same goal: to promote athletics.”

Students’ favorite part of this club is

attending the meetings. Senior Lina Aboebied

said, “my favorite part about being a

member of this club is making memories

and speaking up as an athlete.”


Shannon Walsh committed

to University of Wisconsin-



Michelle Kaner will swim at

Auburn University.


Charlie Parcell committed

to Northern Illinois




Only a few talented athletes at Maine West will go on to play

in college, but even early on in the school year, there are already

seniors who have made that commitment.

With eight Maine West athletes committing to a college sport

last year and 10 West athletes committing in both 2021 and 2020,

more seniors are bound to commit later in this school year.

According to the NCAA, the magic dates for the recruitment

process are June 15 and Sept. 1, after an athlete’s sophomore year

of high school, when coaches can officially reach out to athletes.

“On June 15, when I woke up for 5 a.m. practice, I woke up to

a bunch of emails and texts. It was so exciting,” senior swimmer

Michelle Kaner said. Kaner has committed to swim in the competitive

Division 1 program at Auburn University in Alabama. Auburn

has had five NCAA women’s swimming championships in the past

20 years, putting Kaner in one of the most successful programs in

the nation.

With hundreds of colleges in the nation and varying degrees of

scholarships and playing-time on the line, there are many options

athletes must consider, and navigating through all of them can be a

struggle. But with the help of recruiting events, teammates, coaches,

and parents, athletes are not alone in the process.

Club teams can offer extra exposure to college coaches and recruiting.

“I actually switched club teams. My last club team, most

of the girls don’t play in college so I switched to a team where girls

do go to play in college. My team hosted a showcase, and I played

in front of a lot of colleges,” said senior Shannon Walsh, who has

committed to University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Athleticism and commitment to a sport is not all coaches care

about; academics play a crucial role in the recruitment process as

well. “The better you are as a student, the more likely you are to

be successful. So being good in the classroom will lead to more

coaches being interested in you,” said senior Charlie Parcell, who

has committed to playing baseball at Northern Illinois University.

Part of landing a spot in a college program is how athletes

market and present themselves. “You should always text back to

a coach even if you don’t have any interest. It shows respect, and

most coaches within the baseball recruiting world talk to each other

and will help spread your name if you’re a respectable person,” Parcell


Coaches communicate in a wide variety of ways – email, text,

call, Facetime – and athletes have to find a way to effectively communicate

through each one. “I feel like I learned how to communicate

with adults and people higher up way early on because that is

very important when talking to coaches. You have to know what to

say and how to say it,” Walsh said.

Collegiate athletes not only face the intensity of schoolwork that

college demands, but they face the 25 hours a week of practice

that the NCAA allows. “We will have two swim practices Monday,

Wednesday and Friday. Then we lift and swim on Tuesday, Thursday

and Saturday morning. It will be fun but crazy,” Kaner said.

Coaches like to use up every second of the allotted 25 hours

of practice time, especially at the most competitive levels. But this

means a lot of study time is taken away from athletes, which is

why teams also implement mandatory study hours. “Every week

we have to do 8-10 hours in the student center. That’s where we get

free tutors, study space, and help with anything. Basically this allows

for everyone to get their homework done,” Kaner said.

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