Sarah’s Suggestions


All my friends have fun traveling plans over summer, and I don’t have anything to do. What would you recommend doing? Sincerely, Bored

Dear Bored,

Summer is the best opportunity to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do during the school year. For instance, you can read books that you have wanted to read but have not had a chance to, learn a new language or try a sport. It is also a great opportunity to hang out with friends, especially those you don’t see very often. You can go to the beach, have a party, see a movie or do whatever you want to together.  Staycations are also very fun. You can go to a hotel or stay home and just spend the days relaxing and taking care of yourself. Explore the city, go to the spa (or have a spa night at home), have a shopping spree, etc. All that matters is that you have fun and do what you want!

I’m very over whelmed because of upcoming finals. What are some ways that I can de-stress and relax? Sincerely, Stressed

Dear Stressed,

A great way to de-stress is to take a hot bath. Light some candles, use Epsom salts and bubble bath and just relax for as long as you need. If you are not a bath person, you can also take a shower. Another option is to use calming aromatherapy scents like lavender or eucalyptus. Spray pillow mists, especially lavender-scented ones, are very nice because they make your bed more comfortable and calming. On that note, sleep is one of the best ways to de-stress and let both your brain and body relax. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, ideally eight hours a day. Finally, doing yoga or meditation will clear your mind of any negative energy and give you a fresh start. There are multiple apps that you can download on your phone with yoga instructions, or you can simply play calming music and close your eyes while you clear your head.

How can I make my own money as a teenager? Sincerely, Entrepreneurial

Dear Entrepreneurial,

As a teenager, it can be limiting because you are likely not old enough to have a real job. However, there are many things you can do even from your room to make money. For instance, selling clothes and other items you no longer want online or in a yard sale is an easy way to make money; just make sure that things you sell are in good condition. You can also ask to do chores in the house for your parents, or even for your neighbors. Walking dogs, caring for pets while owners are away and vacuuming are some examples of easy tasks. Babysitting is probably the most classic form of making income as a teenager, and it is very easy to do. You can also tutor kids in your neighborhood; however, you must be qualified and able to help them. Lastly, if you go to a camp and are old enough, most will pay their camp counselors or counselors-in-training. This is not only a great way to make money, but it’s also easy and gives you something to do over the summer.


Students reflect on the importance of happiness on campus

colored drawing lauren nehorai
Illustration by Lauren Nehorai ’20
By Lauren Nehorai ’20

Happiness is defined as a state of good fortune, contentment and bliss. It can be considered a key to success or a spell that possesses the power to transform someone’s state of mind for the better. In addition to its emotional advantages, happiness is a valuable tool that can benefit people in other aspects of their lives.

Ensuring students’ happiness is a key motive of the school. It is a prominent theme in the mission statement aiming to be “a diverse and inclusive community united by the joyful pursuit of educational excellence.” Students said they believe this goal has been attained, describing school as a welcoming environment in which happiness is close within reach.

“School is a generally happy place, and people here are always smiling. All of the fun activities and we incorporate into each day at school make it even more enjoyable,” Laina Bolton ‘21 said.

For some, school can also be thought of as a stressful place. Between all of the activities students are involved in as well as the deadlines, tests and events that come along with them, finding time to relax can be difficult. Happiness can play an instrumental role in helping students perform well under stressful conditions and guide them through overwhelming times.

Methods of relaxation can serve as a short term solution to stress, but happiness does much more. It can be harder to achieve, but its effects are be life-changing.

Students can achieve happiness in a number of different ways. A popular way students alleviate stress and increase contentment is by spending time with their friends and family. Middle School Psychologist Kelly Decker said she believes that good relationships are essential to maintaining a happy life.

“The closer you are with the people you love, over time sustains feelings of joy, euphoria and happiness,” Decker said.

Many students also look to sports or other types of athletic activity for enjoyment. Decker explained that studies have proven that the more people move, the happier they tend to be because of the endorphins the body releases.

“Playing basketball makes me happy. Working together with my teammates and playing well in a game is an indescribable feeling,” Ryan Zoller ’22 said.

Another popular method of acquiring happiness is through artistic activities. Students look to performing and visual arts as an outlet to escape from the pressure of everyday life and take time for themselves.

“Choir is something I am really passionate about and is a class I look forward to every day. I think music is a great way to make people happy, especially during school hours,” Jake Schroeder ’20 said.

Random acts of kindness are also a quick and easy way of obtaining happiness and increasing that of others. Picking up trash, pushing in chairs, holding the door open or even greeting new people are all simple ways by which one can brighten others’ day and spread happiness throughout the school community. Happiness is something that all humans are capable of acquiring, but it is in the hands of the individual to let themselves accept it.




Sarah’s Suggestions Issue 4



By Sarah Healy ’20

I feel like I need to improve in every aspect of my life right now. What are some things I can do? Sincerely, Overwhelmed

Dear Overwhelmed,

The first piece of advice I can give you is to think about what you are doing right. This will automatically improve your self-esteem and set you up for success. Whether it’s going to bed on time or dedicating a certain amount of time to your family, thinking about what you are good at gives you one less thing you have to improve. Next, think about what you are unhappy with and you feel you need to work on. Map out how you want to fix each of these issues on a piece of paper or your computer, or just make mental notes. For instance, maybe you aren’t connecting with your friends as much as you used to. You can make an effort to hang out with them more often and bond over the things you enjoy. If you keep working on each of your problems individually and gradually, you will find that you are even happier because you were able to work hard and achieve your goal.


I have been procrastinating a lot lately. I have plenty of time to do what I need to, but I instead waste that time on meaningless activities. When I finally get to my homework, it’s late at night and not only do I do poorly on assignments, but I don’t get enough sleep either. How can I do better? Sincerely, Distracted

Dear Distracted,

A large amount of procrastination in teens comes from cell phones and electronic devices. Turn your phone off while you are working, and don’t use it unless you absolutely have to. You can also use website and app blockers that will deny you access to websites that you name for a certain amount of time. One computer program that I really like is called Self Control because you can block all of the websites that you find yourself getting distracted on for as long as 24 hours, and there is no way of undoing it. A good phone app is Forest because the longer you stay off of your phone, the more trees are grown in your virtual forest. It’s a really great incentive because it’s so much fun to see all of the trees! In addition, make sure that you take breaks every 30-40 minutes. This will give your brain a rest and give you time to you to get a snack, talk to your family, etc. Another way to stay focused is to work at a desk. Working in your bed will cause you to feel tired, and working on the floor is uncomfortable, causing you to be less focused on your work. Working at your desk is better for your posture, gives you a better work environment and you most likely have all of the supplies that you need at your desk, so it’s more convenient as well.


How can I stay kind in this politically volatile time? Sincerely, Concerned

Dear Concerned,

To begin with, try your best to avoid political discussions, especially if you aren’t in a completely comfortable space to discuss them. This is easily done if you’re not in a political setting. Find other common ground with people in your sports teams, choir groups, etc., so that your discussions will most likely not be based on politics. While political discussions are good, approaching them in a school setting is not the best place unless you are totally willing to have an open mind. If you do find yourself in a political conversation, listen to the other people and when you speak, speak with regard to other people’s feelings. Accept that they may have different beliefs than you, and don’t disregard their opinions. Finally, help out the community and the world in ways that promote your beliefs. Volunteer at places you support, go to marches and follow your own beliefs – don’t let other people change them!



Second Semester 2016-2017 School Year


By India Altschul ’20

The second semester started on Jan. 23. Seventh, eighth and ninth grade students as well as the deans have shared their thoughts about the second half of the year and everything that comes with it.

Andrea Yagher ’20, a new student, explained her first semester experience.

“I felt I had a really great introduction to the school. I like all my teachers a lot. They really helped me integrate into the community,” Yagher said.

According to Yagher and other new ninth graders, the first semester was a good introduction to both a new school and a challenging new school year. Because of the first semester, Yagher said she now feels prepared for the second semester.

Middle school dean Karen Fukushima has also said she feels that the first semester is a good introduction to the more challenging second semester.

“When you start in ninth grade, you are really an eighth grader in terms of what you’ve learned. By the time it’s second semester of ninth grade, you’re almost a tenth grader, and your teachers are trying to prepare you for what that rigor is going to be like,” Fukushima said.

According to Fukushima, the start of second semester at the Middle School is most important for ninth graders because it is the time at which teachers begin preparing students for similar experiences at the Upper School. Fukushima said this typically starts at the beginning of the second semester.

Although they have had a semester to adjust to campus life, seventh graders are still very new to the middle school campus. Emma Valle ’22 said that she is still adjusting to campus life and the cumulative grading. To Valle and others, the seventh grade school year, especially the first semester, is a time of adjustment. With cumulative grades, said she believes that one can enter the second semester with much less stress.

“I like that grades are cumulative…I think grades that restart are stressful because it’s like you’re starting the whole school year over again. If you get a bad grade on your first few tests in second semester, then there’s not that much to average it out of, so it could hurt your overall second semester grade,” Valle said.

India Spencer ’21 said she believes that the second semester is off to a great start, particularly with positive schedule changes.

“I was affected in a good way by schedule changes because my dance class is starting, and I’m starting art. So there’s a lot of new, fun things I get to do in second semester,” Spencer said.


Spectacular Students: Chelsea Cho ’21 Ballerina


By Giselle Dalili ’20
Cho rehearses a variation of Paquita, which is a two minute solo performance. Credit: Uploaded with permission of Chelsea Cho ’21

Chelsea Cho ’21 became passionate about ballet while she was surrounded by the dance scene in New York City. She started ballet when she was in third grade at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.

“I’m someone who likes to feel beautiful and see pretty things, and while living in NYC I was surrounded by a very ’ballet’ environment, so I immediately fell in love,” Cho said.

Cho said she wanted to be physically and mentally challenged, and ballet seemed to fit perfectly for her. Cho also said she enjoys the opportunity to express herself through dance.

“My favorite part about ballet is being able to interpret classical music with my movement and a guiding story line, and ultimately being able to touch an audience,” Cho said.

Cho said that she has worked hard at the sport for years, and her dance studio is like a second home to her.

“By now, hearing my teachers voice and corrections is so familiar to me and feels like home also,” Cho said.

Cho is working hard in order to place in the top 24 in Youth America Grand Prix semi-finals and make it into the World Ballet Competition Finals in Orlando, Florida. She thinks of her ballet teacher as a source of motivation due to the humbling life story.

“My ballet teacher Olga Tozyiakova is my main inspiration relating to ballet. I admire her for dedicating her entire life to ballet and the amount of passion she holds for it. To start ballet, she had to take money from her mom’s wallet and ride the train alone to a big city to audition at the age of nine, which really shows how much she loves ballet,” Cho said.

Cho said that she hopes to keep doing ballet and hopefully dance at a more professional level in the future.

“I love ballet, and I want to keep at it for the years to come,” Cho said.

Spectacular Students: Clay Skaggs ’20 Magician

By Leila Dall’Olmo ’20


Since he was young, Clay Skaggs ‘20 has been fascinated by the idea of magic and mystery, and he has continued his passion for it over the past years.

“I became interested in magic in fifth grade, when I saw a video of David Blaine doing a trick that involved him sticking an ice pick through his arm,” Skaggs said.

Skaggs cites Blaine as one of his biggest role models when it comes to magic because of his commitment to his craft.

“[Blaine] devotes his life to magic. He put his body and mind at risk for the greater good of magic, and he popularized it using YouTube videos. He gave himself up for magic,” Skaggs said.

After seeing Blaine’s trick on YouTube, Skaggs began practicing and performing tricks for his family and friends in order to improve his skills.

“The first trick I ever performed on someone was when I made a glass disappear in front of my parents. They were really impressed at first, but now they don’t really like my tricks because I practice a lot on them,” Skaggs said.

Skaggs said his talent in magic is not only for fun, but for business as well. He has performed at a few parties so far, and he said he is hoping that soon his business will begin to take off further.

“I have business cards that I hand out to people, to try and get them to hire me. They usually pay around $50-$100 for each party, which I use to buy more tricks. I’ve done two kids parties and three adult parties so far,” Skaggs said.

In addition to his magic business, Skaggs has recently started a club at the Middle School to teach people who are interested how to do magic.


“I wanted to teach people magic, and I thought it would be really fun, so I decided to start the Magic Circle. It meets every Wednesday during break at HC 220, and everyone is welcome to come and learn some skills in magic,” Skaggs said.

According to Skaggs, there has been a turnout of roughly 15 to 20 people each meeting, and the club seems to be growing in popularity.

“I joined [the Magic Club] because I used to be really into magic, and I used to do it a lot as a kid, so I wanted to further pursue. My first impression of the Magic Club was that it seemed like a cool environment to learn and prosper in magic,” Jasper Richards ‘20 said.

Skaggs said he plans to continue magic in the future, and he said he hopes to make his magic club even more popular among students.

“In the future I hope to continue doing magic at events so that I can make money. I also think that being able to do magic as a grandfather or father would be cool, so I can pass it down generations,” Skaggs said.






AssessMEANT to be?

By Lauren Nehorai ’20 and Alexandra Mork ’20

When people think of winter, the first things that come to mind are often cold weather, hot chocolate, holidays, family and gifts. But with the second semester approaching, the week leading up to winter break is often filled with assessments. Although some degree of testing is seemingly inevitable, some students prefer the majority of assessments to be before winter break, while others would rather have an extra two weeks to study.

In an online survey sent to middle school students, 89 percent of the 347 respondents preferred to have their tests prior to winter break. Many students feel that winter break is a time for celebration and family, and that the stress of studying would disrupt their plans and time designated for relaxation.

“I’m happy the [majority of our tests] are before [winter break] because the whole point of winter break is to have a break [from school], and I don’t think people would want to study,” Jonah Dickson ’20 said.

In addition to potentially ruining their break, two weeks without school risks students forgetting the information they are tested on.

“It is good to have tests before winter break because you remember the material better than after two weeks of not having class,” Izzy Welsh ’22 said.

Of the students surveyed, 11 percent of the respondents preferred to have tests after the break. Some of these students wished to use the weeks prior to winter break to enjoy themselves and get into the holiday spirit instead of dealing with assessments. Also, the majority of these students would like several extra weeks to study for their exams at leisure.

“The week before [break] we are all focused on the holidays and checked out because we are excited to go on the break. Having tests the week after would enhance the focus level because we have fewer distractions,” India Altchul ’20 said.

Spectacular Students

By Leila Dall’Olmo ’20 and Georgia Gerber ’20

Daniel Novikov ’21: Breakdancer

Leila Dall’Olmo ‘20

Daniel Novikov ‘21 believes breakdancing is a great way to express yourself, and he tries to incorporate dancing into his life as much as he can.

“I like to dance everywhere in my everyday life. I dance at parties. I dance at weddings. I dance anywhere I want to, with anyone I want to,” Novikov said.

Starting at a young age, Novikov joined a dance team and competed at events all across the city. He said he enjoyed the sense of freedom dancing gave him.

“I started dancing when I was three because I really liked it, and I liked to move my body. Dancing lets me express myself and feel alive,” Novikov said.

In competitive dance, there are rivalries between teams, even at such a young age. Novikov’s team had always come in first before another team came along.

“My team always used to win first, until Kida the Great, this dancer with one million followers on Instagram, started dancing for the other team. That’s when we started getting second place,” Novikov explained.

Although Novikov no longer competes with a team outside of school, he still takes classes at school and intends to continue next year.

“I take dance at school now, and next year I’ll either be taking Contemporary Dance Workshop II or hopefully, Dance Production,” Novikov said.

A requirement for Dance Production is having to choreograph a solo dance, which he is not worried about.

“I always choreograph my own dances, as I did in this year’s Contemporary Dance Workshop Showcase,” Novikov said.

One of Novikov’s dance teacher at school, Melissa Schade, said she believes Daniel has a positive attitude towards dance and truly enjoys it.

“Daniel is very gung ho about dance. He is a natural mover, and I think as long as it’s in the freestyle range, he goes all out,” Schade said.

No matter where Novikov ends up dancing next year, he is excited to continue his passion and have as much fun as he possibly can along the way.

“[When I dance] I feel free, like a bird let out of it cage spreading its wings, and that’s the best feeling there could ever be,” Novikov said.

Alexa Druyanoff ’22: Illustrator

By Georgia Gerber ’20

Even at 13 years old, Alexa Druyanoff ‘22 has already turned her passion for art into pieces that are seen by many all over the world. ,mDruyanoff creates cover art for the music of Danny Belgrad ‘13.

“[Belgrad] makes songs and then has ideas, so he sends me photos he wants the art to relate to or to look like. Then, I draw that and he gives me critiques on what to do differently or what to add,” Druyanoff said.

Druyanoff’s love for art came at a young age. She started art classes when she was four, at the studio she still practices in today. At first, art was just a hobby, but it later became a passion.

“When I first started, art was just something I liked to do. Now, it is my passion. I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember, and I started instructional art classes just before I turned four. I’m inspired by artists like Botticelli, Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, Monet and people like Kenny Scharf and animators,” Druyanoff said.

When creating a piece of art, Druyanoff likes to use creativity to blur the lines of reality and imagination.

“My art style and what I like to draw are sort of whimsical. I find it interesting to combine real nature, rock formations or places with non-living, animated cartoon characters or animals. It’s almost like giving them an alternative life, and it also brings out the fun in art for me. I want to make people intrigued while smiling or finding my work amusing,“ Druyanoff said.

The covers she creates are put onto SoundCloud along with the songs created by Belgrad. Druyanoff describes the music as “indie-rock.”

“For Danny’s art, I have to find a different rhythm. It’s less playful, and I have to connect with what his vision is, his examples and the mood of each song. I really enjoy the idea of connecting art with music, and I now experiment with drawing to the beat of songs. It’s nice to have almost like an internal monologue to each picture,” Druyanoff said.

Belgrad spoke about his experience working with Alexa.

“Alexa has always astounded me. She’s remarkably intuitive and has a rare ability to capture and express emotions with clarity while also being quite visionary within her artwork. She makes the transition from music to artwork so fluid, and I consider myself very very lucky to have her as a creative partner,” Belgrad said.

Druyanoff has been creating art for Section, the name under which Belgrad’s music is released, for almost two years. She hopes to continue doing it in the future.

“My dreams with any aspect of art in them consist of being a set designer, animator or inspirational artist,” Druyanoff said.

Sarah’s Suggestions

By Sarah Healy’20


How do I keep a club running and avoid it from not fading away?


Sincerely, Concerned

Dear Concerned,


A club will keep running if you make it fun and have enough students. One way to do this is to attract new kids. Make sure that you are updating the daily bulletin and sending emails every week to remind students about the club. Advertising is very important because it brings in new members and reminds current members to attend each week. One way to do this is to print out posters and post them on bulletin boards around campus. Also, break is usually the time that students eat snacks, so if you bring food, you will attract kids to your club. Lastly, make sure that you have fun activities for students to do. Have a prepared agenda to follow for each meeting, and make it well organized so that students are more likely to come back.




I am currently distracted from my schoolwork because I want a boyfriend but can’t find one. How can I find the man of my dreams but still do well in school?


Sincerely, Searching


Dear Searching,


You most likely will not find the man of your dreams in middle school, so focus on the things that you can control right now. Schoolwork is extremely important, even in middle school, because you have to make sure that you’re prepared for high school. Actively looking for a boyfriend might be a distraction. If you focus on doing well in school, a boyfriend might come later on. Don’t push it though, because the best relationships come naturally.




What do I do if I am generally more interested in humanities subjects but want to try out honors math or science courses in ninth and tenth grades? Are they worth trying if they end up taking all of my time?


Sincerely, Confused


Dear Confused,


It really depends on whether you actually like math and science. You should not take the honors classes if you don’t sincerely enjoy these subjects because they can become very challenging, meaning that you won’t have enough time to focus on the activities you enjoy more. However, if you enjoy these subjects and want to challenge yourself, it is something to consider. Also, there are always more honors classes at the Upper School in both the humanities as well as the maths and sciences, so you don’t have to rush into them in ninth grade.




What do I do if I don’t agree with some of my friends’ opinions and feel strongly about my own?


Sincerely, Different


Dear Different,


Don’t be afraid to have your own opinions! There is nothing forcing you to agree with your friends, and they should understand that. If you express your opinions and they don’t like you because you disagree with them, perhaps you should question if these are the people you want to spend time with. You shouldn’t hold back your real thoughts because they are what make you unique, and your friends should accept you even if you have different opinions. However, you should also keep an open mind because everyone’s opinions are valid, and you could risk hurting someone if you are disrespectful of their opinions.



Trump’s triumph: How the election results have affected the campus

By Jeanine Kim ’20


On Nov 8, election night in the United States, the nation became both united and divided within the course of 12 hours. After months of campaigning on both sides, the presidential election finally came to an end on Tuesday as Hillary Clinton faced off against Donald Trump. At the end of the night, although he lost the popular vote, Trump won the election with 278 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232.

Because the 2016 election was very divisive, campus reactions to the results were wide-ranging. In a mock election conducted by the history department, Clinton garnered 73.9 percent of the student body’s vote while 14.1 percent supported Trump. The other 12 percent voted for third party candidates such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

Trump supporters think that his outsider status, along with some other factors make him ideal for the presidency.

“I feel that his personality is key to both maintaining and creating good relationships with other countries such as Russia. Russia is currently on bad terms with the United States, and they like Trump. If Russia is on our side, then we would be able to control the world and help other nations,” Ben Sophy-Voss ’20 said.


Clinton supporters said that the result has left them in fear and suspense.

“Because he has no experience, it’s like having a loose cannon in the White House, which is dangerous and scary,” Walker McGinley ’22 said.

Even the neutrals had a lot to say about the results.

“At the beginning, I wasn’t for either candidate, but when it came down to it, I would have rather had Clinton in office than Trump. When the results came out, I was both shocked and scared,” Michael Conner Corley Jr. ’20 said.