Who are we listening to?

Morgan Nalepa (’23) urges us to reflect the musical artists we listen to and their message. “What is the message this artist is trying to convey, and what values do they highlight throughout their lyrical choices?”

The realm of music has always been a powerful platform for artists to express their thoughts, challenge societal norms, and inspire change. In recent years, more and more artists are leaving an indelible impact on the music industry and beyond. We need to delve into the transformative influence of these visionary artists, exploring their artistry, lyrical prowess, and their ability to ignite conversations about race, identity, and social justice.

Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to shape cultural conversations and raise awareness about pressing societal issues. Through their music, they illuminate the experiences and struggles of marginalized communities, shedding light on systemic injustices that often go unnoticed. Their unflinching honesty and lyrical brilliance force us to confront uncomfortable truths and break down barriers of ignorance and apathy.

Kendrick Lamar’s music has had a profound impact on youth empowerment, sparking important conversations about race, identity, and social justice. By fearlessly sharing his personal struggles and societal observations, he encourages young listeners to question the status quo, confront systemic issues, and strive for personal growth. Lamar’s authenticity and vulnerability create a connection with his audience, inspiring them to find their own voices and navigate the complexities of the world with resilience and determination.

One of the defining characteristics of both Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar is their authenticity. They fearlessly share their personal experiences, vulnerabilities, and triumphs through their music. This authenticity resonates with audiences, creating a profound connection that transcends the boundaries of race, age, and background. Their vulnerability serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the power of embracing our true selves and using our voices to effect change.

I challenge you to consider who you are listening to and supporting in a different way. What is the message this artist is trying to convey, and what values do they highlight throughout their lyrical choices? 

Artistry and activism stand as a testament to the transformative power of music and the influence of artists who are unafraid to confront the realities of our society.

Write It Out

Dylan Schueler (’23) writes about the ways that writing and self-expression can support our mental health.

As I assume most people may already know, writing can be used for many different things. It’s something we use in our everyday lives whether we realize it or not. From school assignments, to note taking, to texting friends, to careers, etc. we are constantly writing. However, how often do we write to express ourselves personally? Some people may have diaries, and others may have text strings between their friends that they use to express their feelings, but something that I don’t think is used often enough is mental health journaling. The definition of mental health is “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being”. While mental health sometimes seems to have a negative connotation with it, it’s something that every person obtains. It’s also something that is personable and should be expressed rather than kept in. One very beneficial way of expressing thoughts or feelings is through writing or journaling. 

Studies have shown that journaling is very closely affiliated with improving mental health. According to URMC- Rochester University, it can help to manage anxiety, reduce stress, cope with depression, control symptoms, improve your mood, prioritize problems, fears, and concerns, while also allowing for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts. Last year, I decided to devote my badge project in the writing center to creating a safe space for people to express themselves through writing in a practice called “Time To Write It Out”. My main goal was to spread mental health awareness while creating a safe space for people to write about their feelings. I wanted to bring positive attention to peoples’ emotions through writing. Writing is a judgment free space that allows for people to express their emotions to themselves and to those they choose to. It can help people to realize how they actually feel. I wanted to express these benefits through an open writing space during both hours of lunch for multiple sessions. I didn’t want to pressure students to write so there was also a choice of drawing responses to the prompts. Some writing prompt ideas that I had found and used were from Port St. Lucie Hospital. The examples are listed below: 

  1. Talk about your day
  • Try to relate events in your day to how they made you feel. It can help you identify trends in your behaviors and how those impact your mental health. 
  1. Identify things you’re grateful for
  • Finding things you can be grateful for may be difficult when you have a mental illness, but by recognizing reasons to be grateful, you can start to create a more positive outlook on life. 
  1. Describe a goal
  • What are you working towards? Write it out and explain how you’re going to reach that goal. “Dreams don’t chase you back,” so don’t be afraid to go after what you want. Keep only positive goals to help you stay motivated. 
  1. Write a list of your coping mechanisms
  • Evaluate which mechanisms are working for you. Rate each coping mechanism on a scale of 0-5 to see which one helps to calm you down the most. This will show you what coping mechanisms can stay, and which ones should maybe be retired. 
  1. Write about how different you were 5 years ago
  • Everyone is constantly changing. It can be easy to forget when you’re dealing with mental health or stress. Try to recognize the ways that you’ve grown over the years. Give yourself credit for being better and wiser than you were. 
  1. Write a letter to your body
  • Mental illness often changes the way you perceive yourself and your body. Whether you want to write a love letter, some complaints, or a letter of apology, it’s important to address your body image. If you can recognize issues in your relationship with your body, then you can work toward fixing them.
  1. List and describe your emotions
  • What did you feel like today? List out every emotion that you went through and describe how it felt in that moment. This tool will help you identify the causes of your emotions and how you’re responding to them. 
  1. Write about how you’d describe yourself to a stranger
  • If you were going to explain who you are to a stranger, how would that go? What are your likes, dislikes, your strengths, or your weaknesses? Writing this prompt can go a long way in helping you identify how you think of yourself. 
  1. Describe the best compliment you’ve ever gotten or the best one you’ve ever given
  • What was the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you? Or what was the nicest thing you have ever said to someone? How did it make you/ them feel, and how did that moment play out? 
  1. Write a message for yourself on bad days 
  • Bad mental health days happen, and there isn’t much you can do to prevent them. However, you can prepare for them by writing a message to yourself. The message can look however you want; remind yourself of happier times, point out good things in your life, and do whatever you think will mean the most to you when you’re in a bad place. 

After hosting some sessions of writing spaces, I thought that it was really beneficial. Though it was a very small turnout, I felt as though I learned a lot about what it means to benefit from writing. It’s a tool that I wanted to share with others and spread awareness around. If you ever find yourself struggling to express how you feel, or if you’re stuck between a decision, or you just have free time, try writing out your thoughts and feelings! You never know how much something can impact you until you try it!

Backyard Ice Rink

Caroline Vance (’23) shares memories from her backyard ice rink. “In each corner of the rink, tall wooden poles connect strings of soft glowing lights, which extend around the perimeter of the rink, and there is one center pole that holds a spotlight as bright as a full moon, so that during the long winter nights, we can still skate under a frosty glow. “

Our backyard ice rink that my dad puts up every winter is 80’ by 60’ and takes about thirty man (dad) hours to build, fifty hours to flood, and a total of 35,000 gallons of water. It is made of long plywood boards, decorated on the outside with colorful costumed penguins that my sister and I painted over the years. In each corner of the rink, tall wooden poles connect strings of soft glowing lights, which extend around the perimeter of the rink, and there is one center pole that holds a spotlight as bright as a full moon, so that during the long winter nights, we can still skate under a frosty glow. 

I remember one winter when my sister and I were both in middle school, we had a massive blizzard that even the snow trucks couldn’t get through to plow the roads. That night, as soon as we heard news of the snow day we rushed out to shovel the snow off the ice and played hockey until the early hours of the morning. We were so hot from playing so much that we ended up in our t-shirts, in sub-zero weather.

Another winter, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we invited our neighborhood friends to come skate since it was outdoors and socially distanced. This made the lonely virtual school days go by much quicker. 

Whether it’s due to global warming or just a strangely warm Michigan winter, this season we’ve had, for most days, a tragic, massive puddle sitting in our backyard instead of a skateable ice rink. Looking out on fifty degree days and seeing this giant pool of water has inspired mixed emotions in me; on the one hand, it’s warm enough to run safely and comfortably in Michigan February (!), but on the other hand, we miss the magical moonlight skating until 2 in the morning with only the snow-covered backyard trees as our witness. I hope this winter was only a fluke and not a foreshadowing of climate change to come.

How the environments we grow up in affects our self-expression

Nicole Grant (’23) reflects on the connections between self expression and social and emotional growth.
“There are constantly new trends following the line of “this is what I looked like before quarantine, and this is what I look like after”. Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to see how my friends and other people I know have changed over the course of our high school years and how being able to express yourself has affected them.”

Our personalities, speech, mannerisms, and even how we dress, are influenced by the people we encounter, as well as the environments we grow up in, specifically our school environments. 

In Catholic private schools, usually, everyone wears the same uniforms and often everyone is Catholic, if not Christian. Uniforms are not uncommon or unusual in private schools, most likely implemented to give the school a reputation of being polished and well-kept. Depending on the school, there may even be rules against wearing makeup and dying your hair unnatural colors, thus barring multiple outlets of self-expression.

Whether this is meant to create unity by abolishing anything that could be perceived as different or staying true to uniformity, the creativity and self-expression of students is extinguished. A reason for this could be that the fear of self-expression could lead to the exploration of sexuality or gender, which would cause social perturbance at a religious school. 

Having been in both public and private schools, I’ve been exposed to two entirely different environments. Here at Skyline, there are many students who have their own way of presenting themselves, whether that be in their mannerisms, gender, sexual identity, or even their principles and perspectives on social issues. I believe this is because we are not a school that is solely based on one religion or idea. Because of this, there is no fear that students will believe in something different than what is considered “normal”. 

Being able to express ourselves is important, especially as we are growing up. Who we are as a person, and what we believe in, is going to change as we experience life. Not being able to be who you are creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and puts you at a disadvantage to grow as a person. Seeing other perspectives from a demographic of people that you are not a part of opens your mind and provides new insight into how people other than you live. When students are surrounded by people who’ve only experienced the same things as them, they become unaware and indifferent to issues that affect other people.

There are constantly new trends following the line of “this is what I looked like before quarantine, and this is what I look like after”. Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to see how my friends and other people I know have changed over the course of our high school years and how being able to express yourself has affected them. 

Because I now go to a school that is not strict about what I wear and how I think, I’ve had the opportunity to change a lot about myself. If I had stayed at my previous high school, I’d probably still have long hair that’s never been dyed and I wouldn’t have been exposed to social and political issues.

Schools that do not allow students to fully express themselves do not foster the growth of the individual. 

Unbreakable bonds

Lucius Webster (’23) reflects on unique relationship of single mothers and sons. “Sons of single mothers often have a deep understanding of women’s struggles, and they develop a strong sense of empathy and compassion towards them.”

The relationship between a single mother and her son is a unique and special bond that is built on love, trust, and mutual support. Being a single mom is not an easy task, but the bond between a mother and her son can make it an incredibly rewarding experience. In this essay, we will explore the dynamics of the relationship between a single mom and her son and how it can shape the lives of both.

The relationship between a single mother and her son is different from that between a mother and daughter or a father and son. The mother-son bond is characterized by a deep emotional connection, a sense of protectiveness, and a strong desire to nurture and guide the child. For a single mother, her son becomes her world, her primary source of love and companionship, and her partner in navigating the challenges of life. From a young age, a son looks up to his mother as a role model and a source of guidance. He learns about the world and relationships from his mother, who serves as a primary caregiver, teacher, and friend. A single mother is often the sole source of emotional and financial support for her son, and this can create a unique dynamic in the relationship. The son may feel a sense of responsibility to protect and care for his mother, and this can shape his character in significant ways.

As the son grows up, the relationship between him and his mother evolves. He becomes more independent and starts to form his own identity. However, the bond between a single mother and her son remains strong and unbreakable. The son may continue to seek his mother’s guidance and support throughout his life, and the mother remains a constant source of love and encouragement.

One of the most significant benefits of the relationship between a single mother and her son is the sense of emotional closeness that it fosters. Sons of single mothers often have a deep understanding of women’s struggles, and they develop a strong sense of empathy and compassion towards them. They also tend to have a high level of emotional intelligence, which makes them better partners and fathers in their own relationships.

The relationship between a single mother and her son is a unique and powerful bond that can shape both their lives in profound ways. It is characterized by love, trust, and mutual support, and it can help both the mother and son navigate the challenges of life. A single mother’s son is her world, and the bond between them is unbreakable.