Category Archives: Madison Marko

The School System Has Screwed Me Over

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

When I think back to my freshman year and what I learned, all that comes to mind is a blank, fuzzy screen, and a small, broken voice that rasps, “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. I think I just remember that because at one time it was a meme. This, academically, is the only small morsel of knowledge that comes to mind when I think back to those nervous, fidgety 180 days of my life.

I have some qualms with the school system.

The system teaches a twisted and useless version of success. To fulfill its demands, you are taught to retain knowledge only for as long as it is relevant—and that is often the day of the test. After the test is over, the information no longer serves you, and so it is gone in a puff of smoke.

Do not fear; you got an A. It does not matter that you only have a vague recollection of the knowledge you used to recite in your sleep three days ago, because you have achieved success. Now, pat yourself on the back and move onto your next fruitless venture.

In this way, the system promotes a careless, uniform, and mundane society. If success ends at personal gain in the form of a few chicken-scratched A’s on your papers, nothing will ever change or grow. Interest in others, the world around us, and passions that you have not explored, will fade.

The kids who will grow up to drive change are not the “school-system-success-stories”, but those who have the courage to write their own purpose and definition of accomplishment. They have not allowed the system to limit them, and constantly work outside of the box. They have pursued what they are passionate about, even if this means pushing aside the system does not inspire them.

The things we remember are the things we care about. Whether that be anthropology, agriculture, or archaeology, if you are passionate about it, it will stick with you.

This is where the school system needs to step up. If I’m not passionate about it, I can try my very hardest to care, but the burden should not be all on the students to desperately try to make long-term meaning out of heaps of information. Teachers need to teach beyond the test, and to do that, the state needs to lighten the burden and stress of standardized testing.

If you do not pass the SBA, you cannot graduate. Those are high stakes. Teachers should be given the freedom to explore and experiment with what works for the long-term benefit of students, without fear that they are withholding knowledge that could keep students from the supposed end-all—graduation.

The Kent School District boasts, “Successfully preparing all students for their futures” on their many domains. Is this true if I graduate uninspired, directionless, with little to show for twelve years of my life except for a transcript of my apparent “success” or “failure”?

Be Selfish; It’s Okay

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

You follow the man as he pursues his ambitions, chase after the woman who has promised you her love later, and follow your heart to the edge. You jump off—for the goodwill of another. At the bottom you are a pile of crumbled bones, a pool of flesh, and a mumbling mouth that says, “I am quite alright.” But, forever will you bear scars from all the times you put another before yourself.

We need to put ourselves first.

Placing societal standards above yourself is damaging. I discovered this in my youth—trying desperately to uphold the ideals that were “acceptable” in my schoolmates’ eyes. I would repeat their jokes in my head, trying to find the humor that seemed so nonexistent. I wore basketball shorts every day of my life. I tried to fulfill an image that did not match who I wanted to be. Then, sophomore year rolled around and I decided I was fed up. Done with trying to be social when I knew I was perfectly antisocial! Done with wearing what other people wore! Done with putting other people’s ideals above my happiness and desired image!

Secondly, regret will come if you do things to please someone else. Until you realize that you are worth more than what tries to confine you, soul-searching and decision making may be hard. This year, I decided to do cross country instead of volleyball. I recognized my passion for running, but I struggled with decision making. There was social approval in volleyball; the crowd of fellow students and the games, and the posters slung up around the halls. The bit of me still leeching on a desire for acceptance craved this. Was it what I truly wanted? Cross country seemed to be a team full of passionate, diverse, and hardworking people—the kind of company I always admired. Now that the season is over, I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t joined.

Lastly, if you are nt looking after yourself, no one else will. Society is selfish and egotistical. I see it at school all the time. I’m struggling, while the person next to me is soaring through each problem. I stare at them; a jealous, empty-handed kid gazing at the child across the street grasping a lollipop. But there are no licks off the lollipop-of-knowledge for me. I must hit the books myself—or else I will be left to wallow in a pit of helplessness.

Be a selfish bastard; put yourself above social standards, pleasing others, and the single-mindedness of society. Once you have what you need for yourself, you can then make the conscious decision to turn around and give to others.

Open hearts Big Dreams Fund Raises money for Education

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

Nine-year-old Leyla Angelidis, daughter of math teacher Michael Angelidis, has inspired Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund—a fund that has raised about half a million dollars to benefit education in Ethiopia.

“We would have no other connection to Ethiopia if it wasn’t for Leyla. When we brought Leyla into our lives, we wanted to connect to her native country. We want her to have a sense of who she is and where she came from. This is all because of her,” Mr. Angelidis said.

The fund, a nonprofit, was founded by Michael’s wife, Ellenore Angelidis. It held its sixth fundraising gala on Dec. 9 at Hangar 30 in Magnusson Park. The gala featured silent and live auctions, a wine wall, and a raffle. Ethiopian food, art, and poetry were celebrated throughout the event. The Ethiopian Community Center Dancers performed a traditional Ethiopian dance. In total, the gala raised around $100,000.

The money will be divided to support the Early Reader Books Project, Technology and Coding Project, and Art Education Project. The Early Reader Books Project will continue to create Ready Set Go Books that have been translated into four Ethiopian languages. The books will be shipped by Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund to different libraries in Ethiopia.

For the Technology and Coding Project, the fund will work with another nonprofit, UCodeGirl, and support them as they bring more technology and coding to Ethiopia. Mrs. Angelidis is on the advisory board for UCodeGirl, and has been working on locating partners to collaborate with for the project.

The Art Education Project will work with artists and teachers to create curriculum for students to learn to create art that can be used for Ready Set Go Books. The artist will create art while they are in Ethiopia. The fund will sell this art to raise money to be able to provide classrooms with supplies to continue the programs throughout the year.

“The goal of the Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund is to continue to empower people through education. We believe that education is not a privilege, it is a right. You should be able to get educated no matter where you were born— whether that is in Ethiopia, or Kent, Washington, or Athens, Greece. Education is the most empowering thing for people,” Mr. Angelidis said.

Some of Mr. Angelidis’s students, as well as many Key Club members, stepped up to volunteer at the event. Leizllyn Nicolas (11), Key Club member and one of Mr. Angelidis’s calculus students, said, “Mr. Angelidis told our class about the fund, his adopted daughter, and how Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund has helped kids in Ethiopia. I knew I wanted to be a part of that. It was a new experience for me, and I loved seeing so many people come together to help raise money for the cause.”

Mr. Angelidis said, “I am Greek, my wife is Dutch, our boys are American, and our daughter is Ethiopian. We feel like we are more of a ‘world family’. It humbles us to see where we are and what other people are dealing with. Even in our worst days, there is a lot more suffering in the world. If we can make a small difference in somebody’s life, then we are grateful for that. We are all citizens of the world, and if we can help somebody, let’s help somebody.”

Classical Music Wrongly Underappreciated by Youth

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

With an entirely tasteless lack of drug references and an image riddled with “old dead guys”, it is not surprising that we don’t give classical music the time of day.

But we should.

According to a 2012 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, older adults are the only demographic subgroup to show an increase in classical music performance attendance since 2002, while in all other demographics, including young people’s, these rates are shrinking. We need to step up and acknowledge classical music and its assets.

Oh, and just as a side note, I am using “classical music” as an umbrella term for the many different stylistic periods of classical music. For those of you that are well-versed in classical music, please do not come at me. Moving on.

When I was first introduced to classical music, I was sitting in the back of a family-friend’s car, staring out the window. We were driving down a windy road, and sunlight was streaming through the trees and into the vehicle. King FM was playing on the car radio, and I thought to myself, “Huh. This music is describing exactly how I am feeling, and what I am seeing, in this exact moment in time.”

With other types of music, you are fed someone else’s story and the feelings to go along with it. You are supposed to listen to them share their experiences, stick out your bottom lip in sympathy, and move on. You have no place in their ballads.

With classical music, you have the freedom to tie a piece to a moment in time, or a part of your life. Sure, the music you are hearing may have been born from a composer’s fit of wild rage, but it also has the capacity to describe the time you stayed up all night studying for a math test that you still managed to spectacularly fail the next day. You don’t get that much intellectual, emotional, and creative freedom with Taylor Swift, people.

Classical music also differs in the way that it does not shout dirty words into your ears, or subliminally suggest you do something you might regret. All it asks is for you give it a chance— to just sit down, appreciate, and contemplate, its artistry. You listen, and it has the practiced and honest confidence to give you nothing but its best. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by words of “do this”, oh, and also, while you are at it, you should really “do that”, classical music is a peaceful corner of the world that offers us space to breathe.

Tim Van Schenck, math teacher and classical music enthusiast said, “I love classical music— and one of my favorite things about it the variety of instruments that play. Everything

from the brass, to the percussion, to all the violins. They all fit together perfectly. I also like how classical music is structured. It is well organized and it helps me when I am studying, settling down, or just stressed.”

Please set aside your Lil Pump, your Post Malone, your Camila Cabello—just for a moment. Lay down, turn on 98.1 King FM, close your eyes, and drink in the indescribable passion, and occasional rage, of classical music.


Jonathan Urmenita:

Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler

Symphony No. 4 by Johannes Brahms

String Quartet No.5 by Bela Bartok

Verklarte Nacht by Arnold Schoenberg

Star Wars (Score) by John Williams

The Hobbit (Score) by Howard Shore

Rebecca Auman (11):

Canon in D by Johann Pachebel

E Flat Suite by Gustav Holst

Tim Van Schenck:

Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven

Jolai Persinger:

Kiss the Rain by Yiruma

Lord of the Rings (Score) by Howard Shore

Scott Cleary:

Violin Concerto in A minor by Johann Sebastian Bach

I Vow to Thee, My Country by Gustav Holst

Amy Mitchell (12):

Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity by Gustav Holst

The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi

The Second Suite in F for Military Band (Op. 28, No. 2) by Gustav Holst

Raleigh Mostov:

Symphony No. 1 in D Major by Gustav Mahler

Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Marquez

Overture to Condide by Leonard Bernstein

Joseph Kommavongsa (10):

Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven

Prelude in A Major by Frederic Chopin

Sixth Symphony in B Minor by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Little Change to the Office Main Staff Team

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

Sue Little is our new main office secretary. With years of travel under her belt and honed skills in cardmaking, Little is more than prepared to take on the battlefield that is Kentlake High School. Oh, and her background in HR, finance, and communications certainly won’t hurt anything.

Little said, “I decided I wanted to come work here mostly because my kids attend this school and I wanted to be on the same schedule as them.” She has two kids, Evan Little (11) and Erica Little (10). Little said, “When I learned about this job opportunity, I checked with them first to make sure they were ok with it. I know some kids would say, ‘I do not want my mom working at my school’, but Evan is fulltime running start, and Erica gets a ride to school every morning. They both gave me the thumbs up.”

Not only did her kids give her the thumbs up, but so has the school. Little said, “Everyone has been helpful, welcoming, and friendly so far. What has impressed me the most is how respectful the students have been. It’s nice when I’m walking somewhere and I say, ‘good morning’ to someone and they actually respond.”

Little’s fondness for travelling is represented in her extensive country collection—which includes the likes of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Mexico, England, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Her favorite place in the world is Maui, Hawaii, and if she could go anywhere else, she would go to Italy.

Little said, “When I was staying in a youth hostel in Belgium, I had set up my bunk for the evening, and then I went out sightseeing for a few hours. I came back to find someone else sleeping in my bunk. I woke them up and told them that was my bed. The person said, ‘I’m sorry’ in very broken English and proceeded to move to a different bunk that was not already occupied.”

This year, she is looking forward to meeting more of the students and staff and excited to see how she can contribute. She said, “I know I can bring a positive attitude and be a knowledgeable resource for people to come to. I am excited to be a part of this team.”

Maurer Hopeful as New Principal

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

Heidi Mauer will start her first year as a high school principal. She will be returning to the high school level after seven years of being a principal at Cedar Heights Middle School. Prior to that, she was the assistant principal at Kentwood for seven years.

Mauer said, “I love working with high school kids. I was really excited about a potential opportunity to be able to work with them again. I love the types of conversations that I get to have with students, and the idea that they are on the verge of adulthood. Being able to support the transition into life outside of high school is special.”

So far, Mauer has only made one change. She altered a safety protocol relating to medical emergencies in the classroom. The old protocol stated that if an emergency were to arise, the teacher would have to call the main office, and then the main office would call 911. But, now teachers should call 911 directly and send a student runner down to the office so that the emergency response team can be brought to the room.

Other than that, Mauer said she does not plan on making many changes. She said, “Right now it is important for me to learn about the strengths of the school and how to build upon those strengths. There are a lot of great things happening here, and we are not a school that needs a principal to come in and make a bunch of changes. We need a principal that can come in and continue to support the growth and the excellence that is already happening.”

As for her personal plans and goals as principal, Mauer said, “It is very important to me that I am available to students. I am not a closed-door principal. I want to be out and about, and I want students to know who I am and feel comfortable coming to me and saying, ‘Mrs. Mauer, I need help with something.’ If I do not have the answer, I will hook them up with someone who does. I want to be accessible not just to students, but to parents and staff, too. I want to be responsive to the needs of our community.”

She does recognize that there will be challenges in her position. Mauer said, “When we have such a diverse community, with so many belief, value, and cultural systems, sometimes that can be challenging to navigate. I want to channel that in a way that it brings us together and does not push us apart. I think that that is going to be a challenge and be something that we, as a community, need to navigate together. I need to be thoughtful about how I lead and support our community in embracing the diversity that can define us in such a positive way.”

Mauer said, “I want to reiterate to students that it is important for me to know from them what is working at Kentlake and what they would like to see changed. I want to encourage students to be the change that they want to see. If you have concerns about things, come work with me and let’s figure out how we can empower the student voice to continue to grow what we are doing here at Kentlake.”

Immigrants: Know Your Rights

by Grace Frunk, Jillian Felker, Madsion Marko, Angel Terry

What is DACA?

DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA is designed to help undocumented youth, who meet certain requirements, obtain temporary immigration protections such as work permits, and protection from deportation. “Its really hard for people to get all this documentation if they were out of school for a long time and then, now it’s almost a ten year requirement. In June it will be ten years that they have to show all the documentation and all they get out of this is a work permit that only lasts for 2 years.” Said Michele Suarez.
The Northwest Immigrant rights project (NWIRP) holds free workshops in Wenatchee and Seattle. These workshops help explain DACA requirements, and help individuals apply. It is mandatory to have an appointment to attend a free legal clinic; these clinics are for volunteers to help fill out forms for renewals.
Please note: President Trump threatened to remove the DACA program within the first 100 days of his presidency. Although Trump has yet to remove the DACA program, NWIRP does not recommend that new applicants apply for the DACA program. Individuals may apply for DACA at their own risks. “We are advising people, if you have any criminal history, Don’t apply, because there is a huge risk. It’s not just getting denied, but you can be placed in removal proceedings, meaning you might have immigration court and be deported.” Said Suarez.
“I have literary met people who, came here when they were eight months and have never left the United States. And now, they are in their early twenties and if they were deported…they would be going to a country they never knew… That is what I primarily work in, Deferred Action or Childhood Arrival, to help. A lot of people have DACA now, but there is still people who are eligible and under this administration, it is very difficult because Trump said he was going to end that program that Obama started. So then, what’s going happen with the million young adults who are like your age (high school aged). It’s literary taking you to a different country. As far as your roll, just knowing, and educating because that’s the best. Starting conversations with people don’t know…A lot of people even don’t that non-citizens or you can call them undocumented immigrants have the right to remain silent if ICE tries to approach them… There are just these basic constitutional rights in our constitution that says all persons; it doesn’t say you have to be a U.S Citizen.” Said Suarez.

Vawa Unit: (survivors of domestic violence)

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides representation to immigrants who are survivors of domestic violence. These survivors are looking for immigration benefits. The primary cases that the VAWA Unit handles includes U Visa Petitions; T Visa Petitions; VAWA Self-Petitions; and Petitions for Waiver to Remove Conditions on Residency; as well as Removal (Deportation) Defense in Immigration Court.
VAWA and Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) work to guarantee that a person’s immigration status does not make them dependent on their abusers. There are four groups of immigrant survivors who are protected by these laws:
Victims of certain crimes, including domestic violence and sexual assault, and their families;
Spouses, children, and parents of abusive United States citizens or lawful permanent residents;
Immigrant children in foster care who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned;
Immigrant survivors of violence who are in removal (deportation) proceedings.

Youth Immigrants’ Rights:

Immigrant youth have the right to avoid/escape mistreatment, such as abandonment, abuse, neglect, or anything other form of mistreatment by a parent. Special Immigrant Juveniles Status (SIJS) provides relief to children and youth who deal with mistreatments such as the ones listed above. You are eligible to apply for SIJS, if a state juvenile court determines that you cannot be reunified with the parent(s) who have abused, abandoned, neglected or mistreated. The court must also decide that the child should not be returned to their home country. When a child or youth is given SIJS they are then eligible to apply for a green card in the U.S.

Obtaining U.S. Citizenship:

All immigrants have the right to become a U.S citizen. Any immigrant can gain U.S citizenship by meeting the requirements as a lawful permanent resident. An immigrant may apply to become a U.S citizen five years after they become a lawful permanent resident. If they are married to a U.S citizen, they may apply after three years of being a lawful permanent resident. Immigrants must show that they have good moral character/no-disqualifying criminal record. They must pass a test demonstrating an ability to read, write and speak in English, and have an understanding of the U.S government. Gaining U.S citizenship provides the right to vote in federal, state and local elections. They have greater rights when it comes to filing petitions to reunite with family members. They are secure from being deported.

Facing Removal:

All immigrants have the right to be treated respectfully and with dignity. Detainees, although not limited to, are asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their own country, but end up landing in a detention facility after attempting to across the U.S border. According to the NWIRP website, “Detainees include breadwinners separated from families that depend on them, pregnant mothers, the mentally ill, members of the LGBT community and even U.S. citizens who are wrongfully detained.”

Keeping Families Together:

NWIRP helps keep families together. They provide assistance with family visa applications and represent family members facing deportation. Family Visa Workshops are held once a month in Seattle. These provide a 40 minute presentation for an overview of the family-based petition process. Each workshop can have no more than 40 attendants.
To sign up for a Family Visa Workshop and intake call 206-587-4009 if you live in western Washington, Call 509-854-2100 (Granger office) if you live in eastern Washington or 509-570-0054 (Wenatchee office) for individual intakes.

Immigration Raids:

Anyone who does uphold to having lawful immigration status and persons who have status, but have certain criminal convictions are at risk for being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Trump Administrations claims to initially focus on deporting the following people:
People who have pending criminal cases AND/OR prior criminal convictions.
People with final orders of removal.
People who have committed fraud or misrepresentation in applications to the government.
Lastly, anyone who they believe poses a threat to public safety or national security.
To find out what ways ICE could know you, how to protect yourself from raids, and what rights you have when it comes to immigration raids, go to the “know your rights” section on the NWIRP website and scroll down the page until you find “How to Protect Yourself from Immigration Raids.”

Asylum: individuals who gain safety in another country who are escaping persecution in their home countries.

NWIRP’s asylum unit can help with assisting pro se applicants by guiding them through the application process. Every single immigrant has the right to seek a safe haven. International and U.S law entitles people who are in fear of returning to their home country, because of persecution or torture, eligible for asylum.
NWIRP assist with filing applications for asylum with U.S citizenship and they can represent asylum seekers with their interviews and immigration court hearings. NWIRP will defend asylees, asylum-seekers and refugees against deportation from the U.S in Immigration and federal courts.

Cuong Ngo (bingo): Vietnam

It’s almost time I have to say goodbye to Vietnam and moving on to a new country. That means I have to say goodbye to where I was born and grew up for my pass twelve years. All the good and bad memories, they will stay in my heart. I need to move on to a new country, they call United States. Everyone has a dream to live there, and to make their lives better. It makes me feel special. Even though I will miss all that I’ve known.
For the first time, I was on a plane. I was so excited to come to the USA – that feeling was indescribable. It makes me feel like I can fly, for the first time I had arrived in the US. The Seattle airport was huge and beautiful, with lot of people from a different countries in the airport. They were walking fast; I think they cannot wait to see their family, just like my dad wants to see my mom and I. However, my mom and I were lost because we did not know the way and we did not speak English. We were lucky, there was a Vietnamese guy who came to us and helped us out. After we got out of the airport. The first thing we saw was my dad and my dad’s family. They were really happy to see us, then they took us home. When I went outside of the airport, the sky was inky, rainy and cold. I smelled the fresh air from the rain clearing out of the city. In the city where I lived everyone knew they have the light, it means you can see all of the view, it looks like the morning, and in the US they don’t have that much light. I had never been on a freeway, freeway to drive home fast. To me it is like a new world, everything it’s different to me.
After I came to the US, I felt like I already ended one of my chapters of my life. In my new chapter, I have a lot of challenge to face with. My first challenge, was for me to learn how to speak English. My uncle had to find school for me, and what grade I was going in to. This was a hard challenge for my mom and I because, we did not speak English. My English was so bad, the only thing I knew how to say was “hello”, and “how are you?” I was feeling really down. I had no friends that can cheer me up, but finally, I made friends. I still cannot understand what they are trying say. I wondered how I can learn English, how long it takes me to understand and know everything like a person born in United States. I had a feeling that the challenge was getting harder for my mom and I. My mom had to find a job, learn to drive and learn to speak English just like me. We are must put more efforts to study, my parents, and I. They were just worried about money and their jobs too much, but they forgot that they need to study and spend time with their kid, and I think they just worried too much of everything to plan; buying cars and a house. I felt they are carrying a big world on their back just like the Greek God Atlas. Atlas carried the world on his shoulder, and so my mother. She has to worry about her family in Vietnam and worry about all my family problems in the United States. It makes me sad and worried about her. If I work hard more in school and understand all the paper bills, I can help her a little bit with her problem. Maybe it’s not a big thing but at least my mom will not stress out too much about English.
English is really hard, It has many ways to say one idea. I have a feeling that my mom and I had become newborn babies again. We had to start everything over, it was like a newborn baby when they are hungry or they want something they just cry until they get what they want. I had to learn English from the beginning, learning kid’s songs and trying to catch up all the missing work just like other friends. I have to study day and night, because that helped me understand English better, and I had to learn to speak. My parent push me a lot. They always said “You have to study and study, that is the only thing that can help you. No one can really help you in the future.” After one month in elementary school, I got a little better, and then summer came. My uncle made me study vocab words for months, days, weeks, years, and how to ask questions when I don’t understand. Every week he comes over and I have to do quizzes for all the lessons he teaches me. After three months, school began -all my friends were surprised that I got much better when they first saw me. But to me that was not enough, I have try harder and harder. I need to worry about my future, what I’m going to be. At that time, I was feeling down because I could not help my family. I was crying like a baby, just because I could not help and I am frustrated. I was falling and falling but I never give up, I have to stand up and tell myself I can do anything I want. I remember a quote about failing “If you are not failing, you never know what you did wrong and never learn the lesson.” I keep standing up every time I fall, but it helps me learn the lesson of what I did wrong. Just like a ten-month old learning to walk, they might fail but they always stand up by themselves. That is how they learn and also that’s how I learned my lesson. How I can make my dream come true? If I want to make my dream come true, I have to put more effort into my learning and studying.

Anonymous: Nepal

I came from Nepal. My family and I came here because the refugee camp we were staying in was not good—there was lots of fighting and people getting drunk. It was a hard life. At the camp we had no electricity, phones, cars, or technology of any kind. This situation is why we decided to come to the United States. Even though we struggled there, it has not been easy here either. When we came, we didn’t know English. But, there is definitely more freedom here than Nepal. I like going to school, and my favorite subject is science.

Anonymous: Ethiopia

I came to the United States from Ethiopia. I have family here that I came to join. We came in search of a better life and a better education. It took two days to get here by plane, and the rain was a shock. In Ethiopia there is nine months of summer, but here there is a lot of rain. I have been in the United States for two years, and the hardest part was learning English. It was difficult to communicate with people at first. My favorite part about Kentlake has been the students—they are very friendly, and my favorite subject is math. Although I like it here, I do miss my family in Ethiopia.

Shaved Head Allows New Freedom and Confidence

by Madison Marko – Op-ed Editor

If you asked me for advice, I would tell you to shave your head. On December 20, my hair went from short to barely there. Perched in the salon chair, my family’s eyes ate at me like a vulture chowing down on its prey. The last words I heard before the big “snip, snip” were my grandma’s as she repeatedly whispered, “I cannot watch this. I simply cannot watch her do this.” Fast forward to a few short minutes later and she was hurriedly shuffling out the door.
Shaving my head was the best decision I have ever made. Since that fateful day, I have discovered that, for me, no hair means no insecurities, a greater appreciation for the small things in life, and more confidence.
I have been changing my hair from the day I came out of the womb. Every time I went into the hair salon I would ask for something different—and usually walked out looking like a younger variation of Justin Bieber. I was never satisfied or comfortable with my appearance.
Nonstop I would be tossing my bangs from face, running my fingers through my hair, wishing it curled up, instead of down, lay flat, instead of rolling at the ends. I either had fantastic or drop dead horrific hair days, and these made my emotions either drop or soar based upon how I felt my hair looked.
Now, every day is the best hair day of my life. I wake up with my hair looking virtually the same as when I went to bed. Shaving my head has helped me realize that my self-worth should not be based upon my hair—I know my worth, and it is greater than my physical appearance.
Shaving my head has also allowed me to focus more on the little, seemingly insignificant things. The way the wind feels when it rushes by my head, how my eyebrows twitch when I ask a question. I have noticed new things about myself and about the world around me simply by clearing my head—literally and figuratively—of worries that stemmed from my hair. As someone who genuinely appreciates the details, I cannot stress how amazing and eye-opening this is.
Being a self-proclaimed “bald baby” has given me so much confidence. I can walk down the halls knowing I am literally not hiding a single thing from those that pass me. You can see my lumpy head, the deeply ingrained bags under my eyes, my lopsided ears—all things that I have grown to love and accept about who I am.
By putting myself so unapologetically on display, I am saying, “accept me like this or not at all.” This statement has brought me closer to some people than ever before, and weeded out some negativity in my life.
But, this hair cut does not come without its repercussions. I mean, many people have probably just assumed my sexuality by now, only by looking at my hair. And based off that, they think they know “what I’m all about”. And that is ok with me. All they are doing is missing out on getting to know me on a deeper, more personal level. It makes the relationships I have more meaningful to know that these are the people who appreciate who I truly am.
And, not to mention, growing out a bald head… Not a quick journey. You have to be committed to the change, and accept that until the day you decide to grow it out, you will spend some time every couple weeks buzzing a razor across your head—which is actually very therapeutic, if you ask me.
Shaving my head has completely reinvented the way that view and act in my day to day life. It has eliminated my self-doubt, opened my eyes to things I was previously oblivious towards, and increased my confidence.
Why don’t you give it a try?

Culinary Arts Places Sixth at the State Competition


by Madison Marko – Op-ed Editor

The culinary arts team placed sixth at the state competition this year. Lead by team captain and senior, Calista Webb, they prepared a three-course meal to be judged by chefs and culinary professors. The competition was held at Clover Park Technical College.
Webb said, “At state we prepared a microgreen salad for the appetizer with a sriracha carrot juice sorbet dressing, as well as some fried up some chicken for protein. The entrée was a shrimp curry with coconut foam, basmati rice, and Gai Lan, which is a Chinese broccoli, with fried shrimp heads.”
For Webb, the hardest part of competing at state was the high stress levels. The team was given an hour to prepare and plate their dishes, and any team that went over the time limit was docked points.
But, this is not the hardest part of the program. Webb said, “Last year at competition we did a really, really difficult dish. We cooked with duck, and duck is really hard to work with because if you get it to a really high temperature then it is ruined.”
Webb has been a member of the team for two years, involved in culinary class for three, and a cook for much longer. Webb said, “I started cooking as soon as I could start walking around. I started cooking because my babysitter would cook all the time. She did shows and cooked for customers. I started cooking and baking a lot because of her.”
Webb said, “Being on the culinary team gives you a lot of opportunities. The judges are all actual chefs who are in the field, or they are professors at culinary schools. One of the judges came up to the entire team and handed us all business cards and said, ‘Hey, if you want a summer job, call me. I will give you a job on the spot.’”
The team has been meeting weekly since September to plan and prepare dishes. Their current chef mentor is the sous-chef at Heartwood Provisions in Seattle.
The five-man team made up of: Calista Webb, senior, Vanessa Raya, senior, Devon Smith, senior, Jayson Raabe, junior, and Kasha Geen, senior. To Webb, they are a close-knit group. Webb said, “It is like a family, for sure. We goof off all the time. But when it is serious, we are all serious together. It is a cool program to be in and I highly recommend it.”