By Kenzie Raub '24
Students and teachers are expressing their desire for a creative writing class for the entire school.
“It provides another avenue for creativity,” says Via Dancea, ‘25. “Like, the same way we have art class and graphic design and stuff. Creative writing could help make that even more accessible to people with different passions.”
Creative writing is offered as a class in the middle school, and was going to be a class in the upper school, but was canceled due to not having enough students signing up for it. However, that leaves a large question unanswered: what about the students who did sign up? Their passion for writing hasn’t died just because the class was taken away. A class like this has been anticipated by many, especially since the school was so close to having it once. This feeling is shared not only by students, but by teachers as well, and there are many exceptional candidates to teach this class.
“That’s the beauty of North Cross,” says Josh Kier, the English 10 teacher. “We have so many talented teachers. I think, off the top of my head, Dr. Naginey would be an astounding teacher for a creative writing class.”
A big part of being a good fit for a creative writing teacher is being encouraging to students, being fascinated by the direction their students go, and being passionate to always keep learning. All of these fit the description of why Kier sees Naginey as a good option for teaching the class, along with English teacher and theater director Polly Jones, French teacher Chris Brandon and Spanish teacher Rachell Phillips.
“I think it would help make people think in stories,” says Phoebe Anderson, ‘22. “Which is good because it helps people understand each other because, you know, everybody has a story, and if you’re thinking of making your own stories, you understand what people think and how they think.”
Creative writing opens up an entirely new type of writing compared to the analytical type of writing that is taught in regular English classes. It has a lot more expression in it, and it doesn’t require you to have to write based off of another work. The class could teach students about how to form characters and delve deeper into how the human mind works. It also allows students to find an escape, letting out their inner feelings and thoughts through descriptive writing and turn it into something beautifully relatable for others.
“Creative writing, it’s such a self-discovery process that you can’t control,” says Kier. “If a teacher claims that they can control it, they’re lying, or they’ve fooled themselves. Bearing witness to that in an individual is, like, really intimate and cool and fun.
By Hania Raza '24
Most people do not know much about the month of Ramadan and its significance to Muslims around the world.
Every year, Ramadan is celebrated and observed by more than two billion people with day-long fasting from sunrise to sunset. In addition to self-control, it also encourages charity by invoking an appreciation for a privileged life and its comforts.
Because Islam follows the lunar calendar, Ramadan occurs a little bit earlier every year. This year, it started in the Spring, which happens to be the busiest school season of all due to AP and final exams as well as big state games for athletes.
School life in the United States during Ramadan is somewhat different from many countries with a Muslim majority population.
Although studies from the Institute of Labor Economics have shown that fasting improves performance in school among students, the school day is modified in some countries for prayer and naps. Friday, a sacred day for Muslims, is a day when school and work are off in many areas during Ramadan.
Although many people believe that these modifications are not necessary in the United States, Ramadan certainly deserves to be talked about in schools to educate the faculty and staff along with the non-Muslim students.
With Debbie Taylor in the new position of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director, the school is becoming more and more adaptive to Muslims during Ramadan. Because some students are fasting, the conference room has been reserved for Muslims as a quiet room during lunch. In addition, the faculty and staff are aware of the students who are observing Ramadan and what it means to them.
Umair Rasul ‘24 explained the significance of Ramadan. “It takes a lot of self-control for someone to fast for the entire month,” said Rasul, “It shows patience, which is a big part of Islam. It’s not that it affects your mood at all. It’s really hard to do, so it helps a lot of your self reservation.”
As of right now, the student body has been left to educate themselves about what Ramadan is and the importance of the month to Muslim students.
“I think it maybe deserves a little more attention,” said Rasul, “because a lot of people don’t know that you’re fasting, and they try and offer you food.”
Maida Ahmad ‘27, a Muslim student, said “I agree that Ramadan does not get enough attention at our school, but I understand that the faculty is aware of the students who are fasting. The kids, however, do not know much about this month, so it would be better if they were educated about it.”
To educate students about Ramadan, schools could provide time for a short presentation about it during morning announcements. This would improve the understanding of culture and religion among the students.
By Gracean Ratliff '23
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word student is defined as a scholar or learner, especially one who attends a school.
Although we are all here at North Cross to attend school, go to class, do homework, study hard, make good grades, graduate with honors and go to college; we are all much more than who we are perceived to be in the classroom.
When I walk into each of my classes, my mind tends to place each of my classmates into categories of “Hard Worker”, “Class Clown”, “The Shy Kid”, ect.. However, the more I listen to their stories and hear the way people talk about them, they are all put into the category of “More Than I Perceived Them To Be”.
Once the 3:10 bell rings, all of the students change into something more. Athletes, Artists, Interns, Musicians, Fans and many many more. We all dedicate ourselves, our time and our effort into more than just our academics.
More than 71% of the students participate in varsity athletics, either as a player, manager, or assistant coach. We have brought out teams to many victories, state championships and a great record for the Raider athletics. Some of the students go above and beyond in improving their athletic abilities by participating in club and travel sports. Their efforts not only make their teams better but also improve their game even more.
One of my favorite things about our sports program, both playing and watching, is the Muscaro Maniacs student section. For most of the games, the bleachers always have fans there cheering the players on. Even after their studies and their own practices, they will find themselves at Willis or Cook fields cheering on a team. They give the players more motivation, more energy and more firepower to do the best in their game.
Mrs. Jackson’s and Mrs. Sledd’s classrooms are filled with many talented artists. They have taught us to put our creative and wonderful minds to use in the classroom, but some students have a passion and love for what they are taught and they show the world what they can do. They take what they do and make masks, stickers, jewelry, crochet clothing, then become business men and women and sell them. There has always been a person in at least one of my classes who is always doodling on their worksheets. Those people have always stuck out to me because they are always doing more art outside of the art room. With or without a passion for a future in the arts, we are among some of the most talented artists who are always striving to do more.
During the summer, we have so many opportunities to participate in internships for many local businesses in Roanoke. Even during our longed for break away from being a student, some of us take those opportunities and get to experience what we’re passionate about in the real world. We become architects, medical “professionals”, interior designers, construction workers, set builders, biologists, designers and physical therapists, along with many more. The summer internship program really gives us a great chance to put the word “more” to use. Once we age and become eligible, a lot of us become a part of the working class. With having shifts before school, after school, on weekends, on holidays and even picking up a shift on days when we aren’t in school; we are always looking for more ways to spend our free time. We are babysitters, lifeguards, hostesses, waitresses, sales associates and so much more. Some spend two days out of their week working and others find the time to work every day after school. A lot of our student workers, along with having loads of AP assignments, extracurriculars and spending time with their families and friends; keep working even while their sport is in season. With as much stress that comes along with working, on top of the other stress brought on by school, sports and other activities; we find time, energy and eagerness to do more.
Mrs. Doninni and Mrs. Capellaro are lucky to be able to teach such talented musicians, and in some cases have taught them for as long as they have been musicians. Hearing some of my peers play their instruments outside of the bandroom, learning to play new instruments just for fun and having a passion to sing off of the stage; is music to my ears. I have been surprised by many to hear that they know how to play a completely different instrument than what they play in the band and that they are involved in All District or State Choir. The band and choir rooms are filled with many musicians who strive to do more.
During activity period, we are offered many different clubs to participate in. Some of those have made such an impact on us that we take what we learned from the club and use it outside of school. After a crocheting club was offered, Willis Hall became filled with chrocheres who are constantly working on a new hat, scarf or stuffed animal. Guitar Club has helped many beginning musicians learn how to play and often go home and practice even more. With our amazing opportunities during activity period, we have an even broader horizon for learning and doing something more.
Other than our efforts in expanding what we learn from extracurricular activities, we still prove to be more. During Spirit Week, everyone dresses up everyday and makes homecoming week even more fun. We have opened up our homes to the dorm students and Argentinian students to learn more about their culture and to give back even more. Willis Hall is filled with people who do and are much more than what may be perceived.
We are not strangers to “judging a book by its cover.’ ‘It’s impossible to properly categorize someone just by how we see them, hear them, how we feel around them and overall how they come across. But I encourage you to change their category to “More Than I Perceived Them To Be” once that perspective has changed.
We are surrounded by fascinating and talented people who do more every day. Although by definition, we are “scholars and learners who attend a school,” we are so much more.
Afterall, more does happen here.
By Helen Hertz '24
For the past two months I’ve watched as my classmates have become comfortable enough to take off their masks, and go back to “normal,” as so many people like to say.
But what is normal anymore?
This might seem like a silly question, because of course “normal” is a world where people don’t cover half their faces, or avoid close contact, or create events around certain sets of rules. “Normal” isn’t even being entirely cautious with our health.
So I guess with that out of the way, my next question is; How does one return to a “normal” they never knew in the first place?
All of the adults I’ve spoken to lately have begun to encourage me to begin my “teen experience” now that COVID seems to have hit a slow patch. What the “teen experience” is to them I’m sure is much different than the modern “teen experience”, but nonetheless, how can I live a life that seems so different from the one I’ve lived for two years of my life?
I find a strange comfort in wearing a mask. I like the fact that people are more cautious with their health. I like that I’ve barely gotten sick over the past two years.
There are so many things I’ve liked about my lifestyle since March 2020, and I’m not sure how jumping off the deep end into a post-COVID world will sit with me.
I’m not going to throw statistics in your face about COVID’s effects on teenagers’ mental health, because as much as I’d like to, I’d like this to feel more like an honest discussion about what our futures look like than spewing information to prove a point.
Because adjustments are hard. Especially complete changes to one’s lifestyle.
I go to the grocery store now and I’m the only one wearing a mask anymore, I still turn down invitations to hangout with my friends because I don’t want to be in packed public spaces, and I still make an effort to keep my circle small, just in case one of them gets COVID.
I’ve gotten so used to doing these things that I look at pictures of myself in school from two years ago, and I don’t even remember what my “normal” life was like.
I know people are eager to live their lives. I know students are excited to have a normal prom, a normal graduation, and a normal summer. But maybe there is a way we can live those experiences to the fullest without becoming overwhelmed by a sudden surge of “normal.”
This transition period from “COVID life” to “after COVID life” isn’t going to be easy.
So I’ve created a list of things I suggest we as a community try and do, to be a little more careful with ourselves, as we adjust to a “normal” we haven’t lived for a while.
First, let’s try to be more sensitive to people who are going through the adjustment process.
I’ve been seeing a lot of pressure on students lately to completely dive into school-wide events, assemblies, and ceremonies. We’ve previously had a lot of Zoom options, but as of late the general consensus seems to be to lead everyone directly back into the large crowded rooms that are full of people.
Going from a 20 student classroom for assembly, to the entire upper school in the auditorium can be daunting. In being more sensitive to those who would like to slowly move their way to the auditorium, keeping Zoom in at least one classroom a morning can be a huge help.
Secondly, we as a community should both try to understand students who continue to wear masks, as well as be understanding of students who have chosen not to wear masks.
I’ve been hearing quite a bit of cross talk about students and their mask wearing status, when the truth is, we have no idea why they either don’t wear a mask, or still wear a mask.
Students who don’t wear masks might finally feel comfortable enough to not wear one to school. Students who still wear masks to school might have a reason to wear one we don’t know about, an elderly relative to protect, a sickly family member or friend whose immune system is weak, or they might just prefer to wear one for their own health.
We are a mask optional school. We should be comfortable with mask wearers, and non-mask wearers.
Last but not least, we should understand that when students do adjust to “normal”, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily possess the energetic, outgoing, and extroverted “North Cross” attitude that people have come to expect from the students.
With all this talk about “going back to normal”, I think we forget that “normal” looks different for everyone. One kid’s normal could be a quiet day, and another’s could be an energy-packed, high strung, chaotic day.
We need to expect and cater to both. As a school it is our job to make sure all students feel welcome, regardless of what their “normal” is.
We aren’t a community without different people. We aren’t a community without different opinions. Therefore, we shouldn’t be a school without options.
By Hania Raza '24
America is a nation built by immigrants, but the policies regarding immigration do not often get the attention from lawmakers and administration that they deserve.
Throughout recent history, people from all around the world have come to America, the “land of opportunity,” looking to make a life for themselves. They often start off doing the jobs that nobody wants to do, and even that is better than the dangers they sometimes face in their own countries. The American government therefore should create a just and quick process of obtaining legal citizenship, provided that the security concerns should not be overlooked.
The current imigration policy has many issues. It has caused many people to be forced to go back to their previous countries, where it may be extremely dangerous for them to live.
Currently the United States immigraion system is severely backlogged, making it very difficult to become an American. Undocumented immigrants are considered criminals. Any immigrant unable to show correct documents is liable to be detained and deported.
The last administration, of President Trump, took a number of steps to make it even more difficult for anyone to enter and live in the United States legally, using the pandemic as an excuse.
According to an Associated Press article from October 2020, White House officials influenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the flow of immigation in order to protect Americans from the pandemic. The CDC was given this authority in Title 42 of the Public Service Act.
The Biden Administration has made some progress regarding immigration. The travel ban on many Muslim-majority countries has been lifted. However, against the hopes of many immigrant families at the southern border, Title 42 is still in effect and has expelled over one million people without processing in 2021.
However, according to a Vox article from August of 2021, “Experts have repeatedly said that migrants can be processed and admitted to the US safely.” The article further says that “In March, the acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told Congress that less than 6 percent of migrants at the border had tested positive for Covid-19, a lower percentage than the Texas positivity rate at that time.”
This problem has personally touched many people, including my family. My cousin has spent many years of his youth trying to obtain citizenship legally. He came to the United States to have more opportunities and be able to live a better life than in Pakistan, but he was forced to put his life on hold in order to keep a legal status. After becoming an accountant, he wants to start his own firm, creating jobs for many. I have witnessed much of my family struggle to stay in America and have lived my whole life aware of this issue.
This global problem should be discussed more often so that more voices can be heard by those in power. The American government needs to begin giving more attention to the United States immigration policy to make it a just process for all immigrants.
By Eason Zhou '24
In 2022, the global population is close to 7.6 billion, and more and more people live on the Earth, which has a great impact on the Earth's ecological environment. Problems come one after another. If they are not solved in time, it will be a great problem for human survival.
Overpopulation can be caused by increased birth rates, reduced mortality, influx of immigrants, unsustainable biota or depletion of resources.
Some research shows that it is predicted that the world population will continue to grow, reaching 9 billion by 2040, and some forecasts believe that the population will reach 11 billion by 2050. By 2100, the population will reach 15 billion. The current residence of human beings is limited. With the growth of population, cities or villages or towns will become more and more crowded.
In 1800, only 3% of the world's population lived in cities, compared with 47% at the end of the 20th century. In 1950, 83 cities had a resident population of more than 1 million; But by 2007, there were 468 urban agglomerations with more than 1 million people.
As human settlements become more and more crowded, humans will expand their settlements, but the area they can use is also limited. While human beings expand their settlements, they will also occupy the settlements of other creatures.
This is only one of the most direct problems for the world. Other attendant problems include insufficient water supply, accelerated consumption of non-renewable resources, more serious pollution, land desertification, new epidemics and inflation. One of the most serious and well-known problems is global warming caused by changing the composition of the atmosphere.
Education and control is one of the effective ways to limit overpopulation. Worldwide, 40% of pregnancies are unwanted caused by improper contraception. In some countries where sex education is not developed, the lack of knowledge will lead to such things that do not need to affect the body and mind. Therefore, universal sex education is a very important thing. In terms of control, for example, China will have corresponding laws to limit the number of births. Some countries even force families with a certain number of children to sterilize.
With the continuous development, more culture and technology have become people's eyes. Some incredible and even strange behaviors can alleviate overpopulation, such as suicide, homicide, human voluntary extinction movement, family planning, sterilization, self-confinement, and even war, which can lessen the problem of overpopulation in the world. But we do not advocate for or even advertise this kind of thing.
Space migration has always been a human dream. But so far, no space colony has been established. These behaviors have to face a series of challenges, and alleviating overpopulation is a difficult process.
We should seize the time to let people know the harm caused by overpopulation, so that they can realize the seriousness of the problem.
Overpopulation not only affects human life, but also affects the lives of other organisms, even biodiversity.
Human beings need to be responsible for themselves and other creatures.
We can limit the number of families that can have children, reduce unavoidable pollution, and promote measures such as public transportation or planting trees to solve the overpopulation and a series of problems it brings.
By Helen Hertz '24
To try and make North Cross a more egalitarian school, along with many other schools in the nation, we host an annual powderpuff football game. This is a football game where the girls play instead of the boys.
Two players from the boy’s varsity football team took on the role of the head coach assisted by their teammates. By teaching the girls the ins and outs of flag football, the girls were ready to take on their classmates.
This year Kam Johnson ‘24 was the head coach for the Freshman and Sophomore team.
“[I’m excited] to show what we worked on in practice. We worked really hard and were ready to beat the upperclassmen,” Johnson said with a passionate feeling toward his team.
The Junior and Senior team was coached by Cross Thompson ‘22. “[The underclassmen] really stand no chance, we’re winning, that’s all,” Thompson said, feeling very confident about his team.
The underclass(wo)men have their quarterback, Deja Garrison 24’, taking them in a strong direction with her speed and tenacity.
“I’m excited for all of the fun. Whenever someone scores it’s really hype” Garrison said
Flavia Daniels 23’, the 6-foot German exchange student led the upperclassmen with her agility, strength and speed by being their quarterback.
“I don’t know [why I was chosen], I can throw the ball good and Lambert saw me running and was like ‘Flavia’s the fastest so she’s the quarterback,’ Daniels said. She was fired up to be part of a sport she’s never played before, “I’m excited for the game and for people to watch us. I’m not a football player, I’ve never had a game like this.”
The defense sisters Teea Hash 24’ and Alexis Hash 22’ will be going head-on against each other. “Our team’s biggest strengths are running the ball and our defense,” Teea said, reflecting on her team. “I love being able to play with the kids that I’ve been in high school with for the past four years,” Alexis said.
On the sidelines, we had the best cheerleaders, college counselor Julie Avvatsmark and SCA Advisor Susan Wenk. They made the cheering uplifting for everyone.
“I am so excited to have Powderpuff back because with covid we were not able to do Powderpuff,” Wenk said with fire in her heart and passion in her eyes.
The upperclass girls may have won the game 21-14, but the more important victory was the way all girls won respect for playing.
What does Powderpuff mean to you?
According to Gridiron Queendom, in 1945, the first ever Powderpuff Football game was played. The name “Powderpuff” was given to the games from a makeup product that girls used at the time. Although the games are much more “glammed up” than the guys’ football games, by having more stylish uniforms, no padding or gear, and lots and lots of glitter; it is a chance for girls to take on a male dominated sport.
Although female sports tend to be more glamorized, here at North Cross the upper school takes charge and makes it as competitive as possible.
“The games give girls the opportunity to play a male dominated sport,” Alexis Teter ‘23 said.
With our amazing student body, the game is treated just the same as almost any varsity sport would.
“People tend to put a lot of effort into the game,” Flavia Daniels ‘23, the quarterback for the upper school team. The student section was beyond supportive of the athletes. By yelling and screaming at either the referees or when their team got a touchdown; the crowd was always cheering.
Throughout the week leading up to the game, there was a lot of smack talk between the upper and underclassmen.
“There is healthy competition,” Ned Tower ‘24 said, “which brings the upper and underclassmen together, at the end of the day we are all on the same team.”
According to some upper schoolers, this year’s game was far more intense than the games in the previous years. With most of the girls participating in varsity sports, the competition this year was relentless.
“I don’t think people really held back in the game,” Maria Krotov ‘23 said.
With all of the students, coaches, and teachers cheering on the players, the field had this supportive yet brutal energy flowing throughout the whole game.
“It was super brutal,” Danny Phung ‘24 said. “I could feel the intensity and excitement through the spectators and coaches.”
Despite the ruthlessness displayed among the girls, the game really does bring the entire upper school closer together.
”Nothing is a one gender sport,” Adoria Sanders ‘22 said, “you do what you put your mind to.”
This shows even more that women are just as capable to play an intense game of football as men are.
By Hania Raza
This lecture was very informative, and I learned a lot from listening to Leonard Pitts Jr. speak. The main topic of his lecture was America’s gravest crisis, the misinformation crisis, where knowable facts are denied. This crisis has existed for many decades, but the degree to which it is affecting our lives is much higher today. The misinformation crisis feeds other crises and makes them worse. If it is not solved, none of the other crises will be either because, when we cannot agree on facts, we cannot solve our problems with debate. Mr. Pitts mentioned four examples of this: COVID-19, racial reckoning, climate change and political polarization. All of these major crises have been made worse by ignorant people who preach to the ill informed. He also provided reasons for why this crisis has become so immense only now by explaining the “perfect storm,” which caused it. The “perfect storm” is made from distrust of authority, internet and social media, journalistic cowardice and miseducation of the American student. Towards the end of his lecture, Mr. Pitts talked about some of the possible solutions. For example, no one should use social media as a source for news, and everyone should make their assumptions fit the facts. This event reminded me of one of the senior speeches last year, where the topic of “The Double Standard of Mainstream Media” was discussed. I would recommend this lecture to anyone, as it is very relevant right now.
By Ani Eagan
Hi Mr. Pitts,
I am a white high school student at North Cross School and in our journalism class, our teacher shared your article, I enjoyed reading it a lot and thought it was interesting, so I figured I would send you an email giving my opinion.
I don’t really find learning about topics such as slavery to have “traumatized” me at all. I think it’s very important to learn about these things and learn about the mistakes that have been made in the past, as they are the grounds on which today’s mistakes are being made. While the things that happened are awful, kids learning about them is important, as they did in fact happen, and as a kid who learned about slavery and the discrimination on race in our history, it hasn’t “traumatized” me at all. It frustrates me when I hear adults say things like this, especially when they are white, because we are not the ones that this has had a large impact on, and simply being ignorant to it doesn’t make it go away.
As someone with some childhood trauma and issues with anxiety now, none of that came from things I learned in school, and simply leaving things that happened out of history when teaching it to children, isn’t teaching history right. I definitely think schools should be teaching about slavery, and of course, that it was wrong. It’s important for kids to hear about mistakes that were made and hear the full story.
Gracean Ratliff '23