Writing Advice

Picture this: you have an essay you’ve been putting off for two days, and the essay is due tomorrow. What’s more, if you don’t turn in the essay, you might fail the class. How are you going to escape this one?

Step 1: Outline

First, start by writing an outline, and I’m not talking about the textbook outlines in history class. I’m talking about a rough rundown on how to format your essay. Your outline should include what you want to say in each of your paragraphs. It can be either written or typed. Here is an example:

Step 2: Word Sprint

My next step might be something new to high-schoolers. In the writing world, a popular tactic to write more is called word sprints. To do a word sprint, set a timer, pull up whatever you are working on—in this case, your essay—and just write until the timer runs out. When I say “write,” I mean just type down as much as you can while trying to relate to your topic. Do not look back and check for grammar, just keep writing, just keep writing.

Step 3: Editing

Author Lauren Sapala came up with a great simile for writing: writing is like having a baby. A mother must let the baby be completely born before cleaning things up. This means that, when writing something, don’t fix it as you go; you must write your entire essay first, then you can clean it up and fix it in order to maximise your grade. The reason why it is not best to edit as you go is that, in trying to make perfect sentences, you might scrap good work because you’ve judged it too soon. It is often best to not clean the baby as you put it onto your paper or computer document; no mother does something like that. After you have finished your word sprint, your baby has been born, and it is time to clean it up and edit. Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and make sure that it makes sense!

With this three-step process in hand, you should figure it out in no time.

— Billy Wikol

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Opinion: Footloose is the Greatest Cinematic Endeavor Known to Man

A few weekends ago, as I tried to ignore the looming deadline of an essay that I had to write but was procrastinating on, I decided to finally watch Footloose. I was no stranger to public perception of the film, namely that it was a terrible movie. And upon watching it, yeah. Objectively, Footloose is kind of a bad movie. However, I have never enjoyed a movie more than this one. The combination of low emotional stakes, a clear misunderstanding of teenagers and how they interact with each other, and dance montages put the 2019 Met Gala to shame, in terms of campiness. (Though anything could put the 2019 Met Gala to shame. Feathers and sequins do not constitute camp, people!)

If you’ve never seen Footloose, let me give you the rundown: the movie stars a young Kevin Bacon, whose character’s name I do not remember and do not care to look up. At the beginning of his senior year of high school, Kevin moves to a small town in Oklahoma. Much to his surprise, however, his hopes of any semblance of fun are crushed when he discovers that the town is pretty strict about what teenagers—or anyone, really—can do. See, the town is dominated by conservative churchgoers, most notably a pastor played by John Lithgow. The group of people highest up in the church are also the ones on city council, and they make all of the rules. One of these rules is one that Kevin’s character can’t seem to stop breaking: no dancing. Because of this, he decides to rebel against the town’s tyranny and leads a crusade to hold a dance for the high schoolers.

The first thing I’d like to note about this movie is that the plot is the most bonkers thing I’ve ever watched in my life, and I loved every second of it. An oppressive town that outlaws dancing is the weirdest social issue you could pick to critique, and yet, I feel like this movie is one of the most progressive things to come out of the Reagan era. (For clarification, this comment is not a compliment to Footloose, but instead a thinly veiled dig at Ronald Reagan.) The funniest thing about the movie to me is the fact that it spends the whole 2 hours dancing around the idea that church overinvolvement in the lives of everyday people leads to negative implications for everyone in and out of the organization, which is the real issue at the heart of the film. They’ll never say this outright, but anyone thinking critically about the film could likely pick this up. Every time you think they’re going to comment about this, they interject a dancing montage to divert your attention, which is quite frankly iconic.

For all my critiques about the film’s ridiculous plot, I will say that I did get pretty invested. The scene where Kevin Bacon teaches his friend to dance to the tune of “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” made me legitimately happy. Not to mention, the soundtrack excuses any narrative issues the film has. So despite its complete 80’s-ness, I must admit that Footloose is probably in my top 3 favorite films list. (This is alongside The Princess Diaries 2 and 10 Things I Hate About You, in case you were wondering.)

— Blake Ciresa

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Pomodoro Technique

Most of us have been there: you have an assignment due at midnight tonight, and you can’t seem to concentrate long enough to get to work. I should probably tell you to get to work after you read this article, because the “Pomodoro Technique” is here to save the day.

The technique was invented in the early 1990s by Francesco Cirillo while he was studying in college. It is named for the shape of timer he used, as pomodoro is Italian for tomato. Eventually, the Pomodoro spread across the world, and today, it has become one of the most popular productivity techniques.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Here is how it’s done:

  1. Choose ONE task to work on.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Fully concentrate on the task you choose for the 25 minutes, touching no distractions.
  4. Once the timer beeps, take a 5-minute break.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 three more times.
  6. After completing four 25 minute sessions, or “Pomodoros,” you then take a 30-minute break.

How to improve your Pomodoro skills?

If you are already using the Pomodoro right now, that’s great! If you’re also getting bored with the Pomodoro, that’s also great! I have some tips to spice up your concentrating experience.

  1. Use different time intervals. Instead of doing the Pomodoro for 25 minutes with a 5-minute break, try using it for 50 or 90 minutes, and extend your break to match.
  2. Make a timetable on how many Pomodoro you should do in your day. By using this, you can better concentrate on what to do during your spare time each day.
  3. Estimate how many Pomodoros you need to complete a certain task. This would make things easier for you to concentrate on what is important and what you should do in your daily life.
  4. If you’re in the flow state at the end of a Pomodoro, don’t take a break—continue working. Don’t interrupt your flow!

Does it work?

In my personal experience, the Pomodoro technique has helped me study for multiple exams, complete many homework assignments, and even write the article you’re reading right now. You don’t have to take just my word for it, it has already helped many people get things done.

Now get to work and do that assignment!

— Billy Wikol

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Kennett Returns to Full-Time In-Person Learning

At the time of my writing this, Kennett has made it through a little more than 1 week of full, in-person learning 5 days a week. In my book, it’s been successful in a few ways, albeit it has not gone so well in a few others. Often, the two seem to overlap.

On a positive note, social distancing has been manageable, all things considered. While I have personally found traffic jams at points like the end of the S-wing and certain staircases at the front of the building, generally people distance themselves to the best of their ability. Mask wearing has also been far better than I ever would have expected, save for a few individuals who seem to forget that masks need to cover both the mouth and the nose.

Lunch has also been relatively successful, especially given that a socially distanced and COVID-safe lunch was likely a very difficult challenge for school administrators. The plexiglass and assigned seats are annoying, but clearly very important given that students have their masks off while eating.

While this is all well and good, it seems like the school’s COVID cases are already rising. I personally already received a notice that I may have been briefly exposed to someone with the virus, but (credit here to social distancing and mostly good mask-wearing) I was not identified as a close contact and required to quarantine—some of my classmates haven’t been so lucky. It seems like overall, the school’s contract tracing has been an effective system. Hopefully, the school will not be forced to temporarily close, but it is a possibility that we should all be prepared for.

Despite the obvious problems that will arise, many see the return as a welcome sign of the pandemic’s end. It is already clear that many students prefer in-person learning, as can be seen in the amount that returned to the building. Moving forward, as vaccination statistics start to climb within the building, both among students and teachers, hopefully we will be able to return maskless or at least with all students by the start of the next school year.

One key step in that process is, of course, getting vaccinated yourself. All people 16 and up are now eligible to receive at least the Pfizer vaccine, and it is imperative that as many students as possible get the shot if they hope to return to normal. More information on how to register can be found at the official website of the Chester County Health Department at https://www.chesco.org/224/Health

— Martin Heintzelman

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Book Recommendations for Uncommon Genres

Short Stories

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

For those of you who love short retellings, this is the book for you. The story follows a Snow White-like character who ventures out with three of her dwarves to save a neighboring kingdom. There the princess along with her people are in a deep sleep. This tale is filled with beautiful imagery of characters, setting, and is written by the great Neil Gaiman.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

What would you do if you were only allowed to sit in a room? No phone, no books, nothing but yellow wallpaper. Considered an early feminist novel from the 19th century, it touches on the taboo subject (at the time) of mental health, making Yellow Wallpaper is a timely classic. A woman is given “treatment” by her husband in which she must sit in a room for the majority of her days in order to help her “temporary nervous depression”, as described in the book.

Graphic novels

Avatar: The Last Airbender by Gene Luen Yang

For those of you who have seen the iconic 2000s show, I highly recommend checking out the graphic novels. This series in particular is made up of four books and follows the adventures of Team Avatar immediately after the show’s final episode. Along with even deeper world-building, we also get a deeper dive into some characters, especially Zuko, Mai, and Toph. The art is beautifully crafted and stays true to the original character designs.

They Call Us Enemy by George Takei

Calling all historians! This graphic novel is a memoir by George Takei, a Japanese-American, during World War II. Takei recounts the results of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order of all Japanese descent to be moved to “relocation centers”, where armed guards would hold them. This is a first-hand account of those years under one of the greatest faults in America’s history.

Poetry

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The Rules

No. 1: Crying

Don’t.

No matter what.

No. 2: Snitching

Don’t.

No matter what.

No. 3: Revenge

Do.

No matter what.

Do.”

Long Way Down is a tale of a boy named Will. Not William. Will, who plans on getting revenge on the man who murdered his brother. However, Will lives on the seventh floor, and it’s a long way down to the bottom. And things start going south once he reaches the sixth floor. With things getting weirder at every level, Will recalls his family and friends’ dark history. The story ends with an unexpected twist that will leave readers questioning their own life choices.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Silence was not an option. For Xiomara Batista, her thoughts had to be hidden, at least from her Mami. With this in mind, along with being a young woman, she kept her mouth shut. However, when her teacher invited her to join the school’s slam poetry club, silence was not an option.

Retellings

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Danielle Paige takes the iconic classic of Wizard of Oz and twists it on its broomstick. Amy lives in her trailer with her pet rat along with her non-existent mother. But her life soon takes a turn as a tornado occurs and takes her to the not so wonderful land of Oz. With the yellow brick road broken to pieces, good witches turned evil, and Dorothy as queen, no one is safe. Amy is soon recruited by the Revolutionary Order of Witches and is given a mission: Kill Dorothy.

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

With Cinderella dead and gone, teens girls are required to be selected by male royal suitors at a ball based on basic appearance. Sophia wants none of that. Instead, she longs to marry Erin, her childhood best friend. As she flees the ball, she is soon met with the descent of Cinderella along with her sisters. Together they vow to take down the kind once and for all.

Contemporary

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Death-Cast is an organization that calls you 24 hours before your death. Mateo and Rufus are called on September 5; they are going to die. Using the Last Friend app, the two spend their last few hours “living a lifetime in a single day.”

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Fans of Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda are sure to love this award-winning novel. Felix is desperate for romance and longs for his happily ever after, but it is soon jeopardized as an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages and posts. However, Felix refuses to be pushed around. With plans of revenge in action, the last thing he’d expected was ending up in a love triangle. As Felix navigates through this quagmire, he soon goes through a journey of self-discovery.

— Maya Ross

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Autism Awareness Month

As the month of April comes and goes, a very special cause is celebrated: Autism Awareness. April is dedicated to spreading information and fundraising for autism.

What is Autism?

One in every fifty-four children born in the United States is diagnosed with autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication/social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors. Early recognition, as well as behavioral, educational, and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning. Treatments can help, but this condition cannot be cured. Researchers are currently exploring whether factors such as viral infections, medications, complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering this disorder.

Homelife

The demands of living with a person with autism are great, and families frequently experience high levels of stress. Parents have to deal with behaviors and pursue treatments; siblings might feel embarrassed or overlooked; it’s important for families to stay involved in the community. Recognizing and preparing for unforeseen challenges will make a tremendous difference to everyone.

Why wear blue?

In an effort to support the Autistic community, many schools and workplaces wear blue. Kerry Magro, an international motivational speaker on the autism spectrum claims, “When we wear blue, it’s not only about keeping that conversation going about autism but, it’s also making sure that those with autism and their families don’t feel alone.” He goes on to mention the hashtag, #LightItUpBlue!, a platform that people can upload photos and connect globally about their experiences. Together we can show our support for the Autistic community. This month, be on the lookout for blue spirit days!

Kerry Magro

Spirit shirt for Autism Awareness

— Paige Smagala

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This System is Life Changing

This system is life-changing.

What if I told you there is a way for you to make more time, get more done, and have a better sense of your progress towards your goals in life, all in one package. If it sounds too good to be true, well, it is. The system is… Ready… A to-do list.

Now, I know I made this article to be very clickbaity. But if you stop and think about it, it would make sense why a to-do list is so important. The primary reason a to-do list is used is to keep track of what someone needs to work on. If the same person does not have a to-do list, the person would easily forget what they need to do.

Once more, if that same person has a to-do list, that person can be more motivated in their work. Ever notice those progress bars in certain role-playing games? You know, the ones that keep track of how many experience points you have. A to-do list is the same way in real life. The list would instantly remind the person what they would need to work on. And eventually, the list would become a certain cue for habits.

I know this article was a little bit short, but I wanted to stress the importance of a to-do list. Many people still haven’t used this simple trick that can help them simply do more. So if you’re one of those types of people, please make a to-do list and get to work.

— Billy Wikol

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Demon Press Review: ‘You’re Wrong About’ Podcast

I’ll admit it: despite the recent podcast boom that has been going on recently, I’ve had trouble sticking to listening to a podcast consistently. That is until I discovered ‘You’re Wrong About,’ a podcast led by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes, two journalists with a penchant
for the past.

The show’s premise is pretty simple: the two hosts re-examine an event that occurred in the past, and they dissect what we were missing in our previous analysis of the situation. Typically, this means either discussing maligned women of the 20th century or examining moral panics of the past and present. The first episode I happened to listen to was their episode about Courtney Love, in which they debunked the theory that she killed her late husband, Kurt Cobain. Other episodes I found particularly interesting were ones about the Enron scandal, human trafficking, and the life of Nicole Brown Simpson. (The two hosts have been on a mission to
cover the O.J. Simpson trial in its entirety, and as one would imagine, it is taking a long time.)

Though most, if not all, of the topics discussed on the show tend to be rather serious, the rapport between Hobbes and Marshall gives each episode a nice touch of levity, while still giving each subject the amount of weight it deserves. One aspect I found most refreshing is their coverage of women, specifically ones who are cast in a harsher light by the media. Both hosts approach each person with a sense of understanding, and they try to sympathize with some of the ‘villains’ of our societal narratives, giving a more well-rounded look into the often one-sided stories we see in the media.

Though I sometimes disagree with some of the conclusions drawn by both Hobbes and Marshall, I cannot deny that every topic they discuss truly makes me think. Their coverage of history has allowed me to look at similar situations today more holistically, and I believe that if everyone looked at the past through a different and more well-rounded lens, we reduce the risk of repeating our past mistakes.

— Blake Ciresa

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KTV Segments: World News 3/18/21

After claims about the AstraZeneca vaccine causing blood clots were made, many countries in Europe have started keeping a closer eye on the vaccine. In these tough times vaccines have been integral in trying to protect front line healthcare workers and many immunocompromised citizens. The World Health Organizations has stated that there is no connection between the vaccine and blood clots.

This past week there was an important moment for the LGBT+ community in Japan. Not allowing same-sex marriage was deemed to be unconstitutional by a court in Hokkiado. This was thanks to the effort of three couples who sued the government for psychological damage. This case dates back to 2019.

For more information, check out the KTW World News segment by Thomas Linderman and Lucas Piotrowski!

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Mystifying Horrors Behind the Throne

I’m sure you’ve read (if not already heard about) the controversy involving the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. Tensions between the couple and the British Royal Family grew steadily after Meghan’s marriage to Harry on May 19th, 2018.

Formerly an American actress, Markle claims that she felt very improper starting the life of a British royal. She alleged that Harry once asked her, “Right, do you know how to curtsy?” Markle understood that curtsying to the Queen in front of the crowds was an honorable gesture, but the idea of bowing in the privacy of Buckingham Palace was foreign to her, among many other customs. Harry explained that Elizabeth II was not only Queen but his grandmother and curtsying was a sign of respect.

Another shocking part of the interview was the discussion of race. Meghan Markle has answered the media countless times stating, “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.” The couple’s son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was being ridiculed even from inside his mother’s womb. Markle mentioned that one senior royal in particular questioned the pigmentation of her baby’s skin. She said she wouldn’t name the royal to maintain their reputation.

In addition, Markle’s mental health was another reason the family forfeited their positions in the British monarchy. She remembers trying to ask for help and being denied several times. Even the palace’s human resources department couldn’t be of any assistance to her.

Without name-dropping or hurting the esteem of British Royals, Meghan and Harry managed to clear up the unknown about their succession from the Family. They are beginning a “new” life with their son, Archie, in California and announced Meghan’s pregnancy, celebrating a baby girl due in Summer 2021.

Recently, my sister and I have started the Netflix series, The Crown. It displays a fairly accurate picture of life in the Buckingham Palace, from the Queen’s wedding in 1947 to present day, especially given the remarkable privacy maintained by the Royal Family. Many parallels can be drawn between the Queen and her charming relationships with relatives. It will be interesting to see if future seasons contain episodes covering this situation and the aftermath of Britain’s rulers.

See highlights of the interview here

— Paige Smagala

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