Ideas are Water

Ideas are Water

by Adeline Ferolo

Ideas are water. Sparkling crystals dance across the surface of a lake, bobbing up and down in synchronous movement following the rhythm of the waves. Looking at it now it seems like a hallucinatory, kaleidoscopic invention. But it’s just water. Billions of tiny water molecules each consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom—that’s it. Yet this substance controls the fate of the existence of life on our planet, giving birth to the natural wonders of the world. It’s mesmerizing that a substance can produce the most beautiful scenes, but also hold the power to destroy anything in the blink of an eye.

Blink. My thoughts flow back to reality. My mind always wanders when reading factual material, connecting existential ideas to seemingly meaningless content necessary to pass a biology test. For instance, when taking said test, ideas, thoughts, imaginary situations, and other theories always cascade through my mind. Our ideas and thoughts are born in moments, in reaction to the volatile outside world—possibly leading to something unimaginable.

Bu-dum Bum. My anxiety starts to surge from this unexpected sound. A mechanical pencil now lays below my feet. I grab it, looking up to return it to whoever dropped it. I’m greeted with a nonchalant “Thanks” from a stranger staring down at me. A sudden burst of butterflies flutters throughout my stomach. The brain can latch onto this single thought, distracting from biology homework and instead focusing on every other person in the room… “Oh God!” The power of thought controls our lives, whether invited or not.

One single thought. One single drip. Suddenly, water is seeping in from the floorboards of my mind. How untimely, annoying, and completely obtrusive to everyday life. Water belongs in bathtubs and showers, not on the floorboards. Water should help my plants grow—contained in pots and outdoor fields. What is water doing here? Look at the stained carpet, the soggy t-shirt hiding underneath my dresser, and the wrinkled pillowcases. Now I must stop my work in the middle of the day to tend to this mental mess. Puddles and puddles of unresolved thoughts.

Ding, di-ding. I silence my phone and place it face down on my desk. The wave of emotions starts to recede, pulling me back to biology class—but even this is fleeting, as my thoughts begin to wander again. Is the stranger still mad at me? I still remember the first time we met—via mechanical pencil. My thoughts begin to wade through all the possible situations. A simple auditory cue has sprouted seeds of poison ivy determined to wrap its vines around my thoughts, twisting and contorting them to its desire. I can’t get rid of them. The harder I try to ignore them, the longer and more powerful they grow.

Time whirls by and I haven’t picked up on a single sentence of anything the teacher has said. I didn’t ask for it to happen. It was so beautiful in the beginning—but now it is all gone in a matter of milliseconds.

Ideas are water.

About Adeline Ferolo

Stories, arguably, are the most underrated form of currency that floods the digital world, through highlighted Instagram posts and viral YouTube videos. As a rising senior at Richwoods High School, Adeline Ferolo aims to express herself and the issues closest to her authentically through engaging, storytelling, and other mediums. She is a competitively academic student. Her interests range across many creative outlets—as an active writer for the Richwoods Shield, the monthly school newspaper, and as a contributor to the youth-led blog EnviroWrite, which explores rising environmental concerns. Recently she has discovered her passion for the medium of film after attending the National High School Institute summer program at Northwestern University, where she had previously studied creative-intensive subjects ranging from sustainable architecture to graphic design. Within the past year, she has focused her efforts on exploring the visual medium in both her academic and personal life, opting to create experimental videos for class projects and continuing to explore different aspects of the visual language.

Tackling Environmental Racism: Part 1

Tackling Environmental Racism: Part 1

by Kratika Tandon

Warren County, North Carolina: a small, rural, and predominantly Black community. For much of the past century, the county has been known just as that. The area was peaceful and largely unnoticed. Unfortunately, that all changed in 1982 when the region was chosen as the illegal dumping ground of 31,000 gallons of transformer oil—a cancer-causing waste. This poor minority community was being targeted by industries that threatened the environment, leading to higher rates of illness.

According to an article from The Guardian’s environmental column, dated March 8th, 2019, despite local advocacy at the time, city governments were not able to decontaminate the area until 22 years after the initial incident. Ensuing protests marked the start of what we now know as environmental racism: the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on marginalized communities. From undrinkable water to unbreathable air, this issue threatens the lives of millions of Americans each year. We need to spread awareness about this issue before our own communities begin to wilt. After all, Mother Nature herself is not racist… at least, not without human intervention.

We see the impacts of environmental racism throughout the history of the United States. In the year 1916, Shell Oil Company began opening refineries along the banks of the Mississippi River. They bought the property from the wealthy white homeowners, but the Black population could not afford to relocate. Soon, toxic pollution began seeping out of the plants and cancer rates started to spike. Multiple articles were published that highlighted the severity of the problem, but these revelations were met with little to no action. Residents asked one main question: “If we were rich and white, would things have been different?”

Today, the city of Reserve, Louisiana, has the most toxic air in the nation. An article from The Guardian dated May 6th, 2019, notes that nearly every household in this community had experienced a cancer-related death in the past 30 years. An 80-mile stretch of land that goes from Baton Rouge to New Orleans is now known as “Cancer Alley.”

Environmental injustice such as these bolsters systemic racism, which reinforces a social formation that produces racial inequality. It concerns the placement of marginalized communities in hazardous areas, racial discrimination in policy making, and the unequal enforcement of laws and regulations. As a result of this foundation of institutional racism, these communities get stuck in hazardous situations simply because they do not have the resources to fight back. And as the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment explains, the impacts of climate change across regions will not be distributed equally. Those who are already vulnerable, including lower income and other marginalized communities, will face greater impacts.

The causes of this incredibly broad problem are hard to conceptualize, but in short, this issue stems from vague policies and the exploitation of vulnerable communities. In my next article, I will explore the policies that impact environmental racism, and the actions that we need to take in order to tackle the problem.

About Kratika Tandon

Kratika Tandon is an incoming freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is majoring in biology and graduating with a minor in environmental economics and policy. She graduated from Dunlap High School as class valedictorian. Tandon is incredibly passionate about sustainability. As such, she is interested in many different career paths that involve helping the environment. She is most interested in writing about the subjects of environmental issues, social justice, life during a pandemic, and racial equity. She is proficient in informative and expository writing as well as public speaking. Tandon was a part of her high school’s speech team for four years. This past season, she competed in two events at the state championship tournament: original oratory and informative speaking. She wrote and perfected these speeches on her own, both tackling specific topics dealing with the environment. Tandon was also the president of her school’s local Interact Club. She possesses great leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. She is participating with Giving Voice because she wants to use her voice and writing to inspire others and facilitate change.

Child Separation Crisis

Child Separation Crisis

by Trent Miles

The United States has a historical tradition of separating children from their parents—as do many other countries. However, I want to address the U.S. specifically. Indigenous American children were separated from their parents and raised in remote states with white families. In recent years, we have been hearing about federal authorities enforcing acts that isolate children from parents awaiting refuge on U.S. borders. These are only a few stories of how families have struggled under brutal regulations and legislation. While there may have been issues with the past administration, the current administration policies are draconian.

We often encourage children to obey the golden rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” At the core of this rule is the trust in the humanity of other people— both adults and children. Although this is woven into the very fabric of our lives, we do not practice what we preach. We ignore universal human rights when those in places of authority legitimize dehumanization instead—especially when it benefits a certain group of people. As a person of color, I am constantly aware of this type of oppression.

We must acknowledge that our nation is founded on structures that do not respect and affirm all citizens. When we, as a society, seek restoration and become a country that genuinely affirms the humanity of all, it is only then that reconciliation will flow like a mighty river and a never-failing stream.

Watching the documentary “Living Undocumented” forever changed my understanding of how America works. It is a passionate piece of activism filmmaking that, with all the tears and heartwrenching moments, will also change you. The documentary lays bare the complex US immigration system and depicts the struggles that many must endure in their quest to pursue the “American dream.” In the documentary, we see one harrowing story after another. Immigration lawyer Andrea Martinez, for instance, attempts to reunite her 3-year-old client with his mother before they are both deported to Honduras. At the ICE facility, two agents shoved Martinez to the ground, resulting in a fall that caused a fractured foot, cuts, and a concussion. Unnecessary and aggressive instances like this made me ponder the world we are living in.

Additionally, immigrants are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic that has already taken too much from us. They do vital work, like agricultural and physical labor, to keep us healthy and secure. Their working conditions are often unsafe, and for wages that are far below federal and state minimums. The last thing they deserve is for their families to be torn apart.

Speaking up is not always easy, especially when one is not an American citizen and can be viewed as commenting on domestic policies as an outsider. But if you are a citizen, then I hope you realize that these policies impact us all—from infants to elders. It is an urgent obligation to share these families’ tales, regardless of where they are from, to keep their names in the news, and to get them back together.

About Trent Miles

Trent Miles is a rising senior at Richwoods High School and has been working for Big Picture Initiative since May 2020. He is academically competitive and a well rounded student. Trent is the co- founder of his Richwood’s climate action club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a varsity tennis player. Outside of school, he is involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he served as the Central Region Teen Vice President in 2018. In his chapter he served as Vice President, Legislative Chair and Foundation Chair. Trent also runs his own environmental blog called “EnviroWrite,” which is a youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns. He has won 1st place in a Regional Best Hobby Exhibits competition and two Regional Alexander Pushkin writing competitions. He has contributed more than 800 hours of community service through various service projects including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and even an educational African-American museum.

From Diet to Disease

Art by Cailyn Talamonti

From Diet to Disease

by Elizabeth Setti

Webster’s Dictionary defines addiction as a compulsive, physiological, or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity that leads to harmful effects. Throughout the course of the COVID-19 government shutdown, citizens battling their existing addictions inevitably struggled with their situations due to various factors. Some may even have developed new habits during their confinement, eventually resulting in an unhealthy fixation.

Personally, I grew addicted to calorie counting—which evolved into severely limiting food intake. Terrified of gaining the “quarantine 15,” I began tracking my calories and increasing my exercise to a harmful extent. Between mid-April until late July, I reduced my intake to only 1300 calories a day. As a 16-year-old girl who is an athlete, this regimen was destroying my body. According to the online platform “KidsHealth,” toddlers should consume approximately 1200 calories a day, making my daily diet one comparable to that of a four-year-old. I grew addicted to weighing my food and logging it into an app, developing anxiety around certain foods and social events involving food. I went from weighing 135 pounds to 115 pounds in the span of 4 months, resulting in many health problems and a toxic relationship with my body. I would subsequently be diagnosed with Anorexia-Nervosa.

Feeling irritable and drained in every aspect, I could no longer live with the same zest for life. My mind revolved around food. I would think, “How many calories do I have left for today?” or “You can’t eat that!” Finally, I realized I had a severe problem and built up the courage to open up to my mom about after listening to an inspiring podcast. My mom helped me by
scheduling an appointment with a therapist who guided me in my recovery journey.

“Diet culture” is everywhere, but it has particularly infested social media, impacting susceptible audiences with the harmful content of fad diets. Eating disorders are too serious to just consider it “healthy eating,” or “awareness.” The obsession with the quality and quantity can become destructive to a person’s wellbeing. Diet culture encourages this behavior by advertising fad diets and harmful products.

Today I am still in recovery and mending my relationship with food while spreading awareness about the commonality of these disorders. 9% of the world’s population, including 30 million Americans, face an eating disorder in their lifetime. Additionally, eating disorders cause 10,000 deaths a year, which is one death every 52 minutes. Spreading awareness about the normality of eating disorders is crucial, especially among teenagers.

Like others who are recovering from an eating disorder, my entire life will now be a journey to healing and dedicated to relearning normalized eating. As a community we need to advocate for the awareness of eating disorders and actively support all who may be struggling. Therefore, we need to stop following diet culture which romanticizes starvation, practically promoting a deadly addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling from an unhealthy relationship with food go to for free counseling and guidance.

About Elizabeth Setti

Elizabeth Setti is a junior at Richwoods High School in the International Baccalaureate program. Setti plays volleyball for both Richwoods and Central Illinois Elite Volleyball Club, where she has the opportunity to travel throughout the Midwest and compete at high levels. She is the editor (and previously a writer) for the sports section of “Richwoods Shield,” her school’s newspaper. Setti serves on the student leadership team and Noble Knights, and is a member of her school’s science club. She was recently diagnosed with AnorexiaNervosa, which she developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. She feels it is important to share her story and spread awareness about eating disorders. As such, Setti created a blog called “A Hidden Addiction,” where she tells her story and her journey to recovery.

An Exhausted College Student

An Exhausted College Student

by Kianna Goss

It will come as no surprise that as the fall semester ends, I feel more exhausted than ever. This is typical for college students. But what is different is that since the beginning of the semester, the workload has been
consistently overwhelming due to the virtual learning experience.

In order to ensure the safety of faculty, students, and staff due to COVID-19, Bradley’s President, Stephen Standifird gave students and professors the option to meet in-person or remotely. After many students and parents raised concerns about being on campus, President Standifird released bi-weekly emails about how the university would trace positive cases on campus, released student testing guidelines, and outlined how the campus would maintain social distancing. This resulted in the majority of the classes moving to an online format, with just a few face-to-face classes.

I am currently taking five online courses this semester. Between the discussion forums, papers, exams, and Zoom meetings, my brain is overloaded. Online classes have existed for over twenty years, but they pose difficulties for students who prefer an interactive and engaging environment. Many students are experiencing something called “Zoom fatigue”—an exhaustion felt after constant use of virtual communication.

Students who are struggling as online learners feel anxiety about remembering things like due dates and have a lack of engagement on Zoom calls. This causes them to feel awkward when speaking, and some simply remain silent during the sessions.

The social life of the campus feels unusual with the overwhelming “wear your mask” signs, six feet guidelines, and limited guest restrictions. Walking around campus without activities or even students on the quad creates an empty feeling. This pandemic has definitely taken away from the traditional college experience.

If you are a student who has been struggling with online learning and missing the excitement of your social life, check out these four suggestions

  1. Workout. This is a great way to blow off some steam if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Some fitness classes are even fun, creating a great way to make you laugh at this difficult time.

2. Plan a movie night with friends and family. Following federal, state, and local guidelines, plan a way to spend time with friends or family, even if it is virtually.

3. Grab dinner. In order to ensure it is COVID-19 guideline friendly, you can order carry out. It’s a great way to get some fresh air!

4. Read a book or binge a favorite television show. It can bring comfort during a time of distress. It’s ok to give yourself a break. It’s important to stop, breathe, and do things you enjoy.

These tips can help you survive the exhaustion from schoolwork. Hopefully things will go back to normal soon, but until then we must follow safety guidelines as a community.

Wear your mask, wash your hands, get tested if you are feeling COVID-19 symptoms or were surrounded by someone with symptoms, do not gather in large groups, and take care of your physical/mental health.

About Kianna Goss

Kianna Goss is a junior at Bradley University, majoring in journalism with a double minor in sociology and advertising with public relations. Community involvement requires the use of one’s voice; in Goss’s case, her voice, which she expresses through writing, is one of the strongest platforms she has. Being a Black woman, Goss often writes to give a voice to the Black community. In doing so, she gains control over a media narrative that portrays the Black community in a negative way. As a writer who expresses herself through many different forms expressions, she has written poetry, blogs, newspaper articles, and opinion pieces. She is always looking for more opportunities to grow as a writer and personally. Goss is involved in many organizations at Bradley University. She is currently the marketing/ communications director for Bradley’s Communication Agency, a peer mentor for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a writer for the student newspaper The Bradley Scout, and a caller at the Bradley Fund. Being able to explore her creativity is what Goss loves most about Bradley. The Communications department is molding her into the journalist she aspire to be.

World Hijab Day

Art by Sophie Liu

World Hijab Day

by Jenin Mannaa

Oh, don’t you dare look back!
Just keep your eyes on me.
I said you’re holding back.
She said, “Shut up and dance with me!”

“Shut Up and Dance with Me” by Walk the Moon is my mom’s all-time favorite song, so you can imagine her joy when the lyrics reverberated. through the speakers at Disney World. She clasped my hand and spun me. When she embraced me, I looked over her shoulder to see a man sneering at her. In passing, he mumbled, “Raghead.”

At eleven years old, I become hyper aware of the anger my mother’s hijab could incite. I realized that I was safe from Islamophobia when not wearing a visual indication of my religion, which is why I avoided wearing the hijab.

It was February 1st—World Hijab Day—when I decided to overcome my cowardice regarding the hijab once and for all. My fellow Muslim friends and I decided to organize a “hijab salon,” where we would tie the headscarves of the women that desired to partake in the holiday. We stationed ourselves in the cafeteria. When no one turned up for the first ten minutes, I automatically assumed the worst. Who would possibly show their support amidst all the controversy associated with Islam? As a Muslim, I personally found it difficult abandoning the sanctuary that my
uncovered hair provided for me.

To my surprise, a tentative freshman approached me. In a small voice, she requested, “Can I wear the pink head scarf?” Immediately, my insecurities diminished. We weren’t going to be alone in our celebration of World Hijab Day.

As the morning progressed, a few teachers made their way into our little circle. After wrapping my Spanish teacher’s hijab, she disclosed, “This is the most beautiful I’ve felt since my wedding day!” An English teacher I’m not familiar with joined us, noting that as a practicing Catholic, the hijab reminded her of the veils worn at the Roman Catholic church. I smiled at the realization that World Hijab Day meant celebrating the solidarity of various religions in support of one.

By the end of the morning, my friends and I wrapped the hijabs of students of all grade levels, teachers, librarians, custodians, and lunch ladies. As we gathered for a photo, I felt my heart swell with pride. I’m proud of myself. In wearing the hijab, I terminated my personal reservations regarding my faith. Moreover, I helped construct a community that celebrated Islam and created an awareness of intersectionality that ultimately helped mend the differences between various religious groups.

I’m proud of my support system. The respect I have for my friends and my school’s faculty increased tenfold with the realization that they had no incentive to wear the hijab besides showcasing their acceptance of my identity. Most of all, I’m proud of my religion. Covering my hair does nothing to mitigate how beautiful I feel representing Islam.

About Jenin Mannaa

Jenin Mannaa is a rising senior at Dunlap High School. Her stellar academic performance has granted her entrance to the National Honors Society at her school. Jenin has expressed her love for advocacy through her involvement on the Dunlap Speech Team as Junior and Senior Captain. Within speech, her primary goal has been expressing her identity as a Muslim American woman. Jenin attended IHSA State for Oratorical Declamation her junior year of high school. Within her speech team, she was also awarded Sophomore and Junior MVP. Jenin’s passion for the arts is evident through her involvement in Stage 323, where she was inducted in the International Thespian Society. She has also been involved in Concert Choir, Women’s Chorale, and Show Choir throughout her high school career. Moreover, her devotion to garnering support for ethnic minorities motivated Jenin to create Dunlap’s UNICEF Club, which educates students about the tribulations of underprivileged individuals in impoverished countries. Within UNICEF, she leads fundraisers, and within the first few months of the club she raised approximately $500. During her summers, Jenin has spent over 200 hours volunteering at the Unity-Point Methodist Hospital within the daycare or shadowing various doctors within Peoria.

Why are there so few Women in STEM?

Why are there so few Women in STEM?

by Anjali Yedavalli

It’s early 2017, and my teachers have announced our next teamwork building field trip. Soon enough, the entire eighth grade class got ready to hop on a bus to watch Hidden Figures in theaters. The movie is known for its feelgood undertone, an ode to three powerful, intelligent, and determined Black women defying all odds in the NASA spaceflight department and forever altering the United States’ presence in the realm of space travel.

I smiled to myself—I had already seen the film… twice! My excitement was through the roof. It’s easy to see why films like Hidden Figures have such charm. But what does a story about the women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) of the past have to tell us about women in STEM today? Have we come any further, or is the glass ceiling yet to be broken?

According to the American Association of University Women, women only make up 28% of the STEM workforce. Many suggest that girls are naturally less interested in science, which isn’t true—at least from a worldwide
perspective. In the United States, girls and boys take STEM classes in roughly equal numbers, with the exception of engineering and computer science classes, in which boys have greater enrollment. However, in other countries with higher degrees of gender equality, there is decreased disparity in the number of girls and boys in these types of STEM classes. There is also no such biological difference in boys and girls that makes boys more apt to STEM (“The STEM Gap”). In essence, it seems to be a very American thing for women to feel excluded from STEM—a result of the culture that we breed.

The women in STEM problem is seemingly a self-fulfilling prophecy. Girls are deterred from pursuing science degrees in college due to the fear of being the odd one out. Another negative influential factor is the lack of strong female role models in STEM. One Harvard University study suggests that if girls had the same number of women who were inventor role models as boys have in men, the disparity between women and men in innovation would be cut in half (Bet et. al 2018). Looking specifically at race, Latinas and Black women are the minority groups most likely to be discouraged from STEM careers due to a lack of equal resources and opportunities (“The
STEM Gap”). Asian women are much more represented in STEM and are thought to be progressing well in the field. However, according to Issues in STEM and Technology, Asian women are trailing behind all groups in the number of executive positions they hold in their careers (this issue is often referred to as the “bamboo ceiling”), indicating that no group of women is free from discrimination (“Asian Women in STEM Careers”).

Hidden Figures remains a wonderful film, even if it is not the reality for many women, as we have still not reached the happy ending that was displayed on the silver screen. But perhaps the solution to our problem is
right in front of us, stitched into our culture, ready for us to unweave their century-long threads of bias.

For more information and resources for women in STEM, check out https://women. or

About Anjali Yedavalli

Anjali Yedavalli is a senior at Dunlap High School. Aside from taking academically rigorous classes, Anjali is involved in Speech Team (IHSA State qualifier in 2020), Student Council, UNICEF Club, the school plays, Jazz Choir, and is the Madrigal Queen of Dunlap’s Madrigal choir. Anjali’s main goal in the community is spreading passion for both academics and creativity. She has organized and led multiple public speaking workshops for middle school students and volunteered her time at North South Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding underprivileged children in India. In addition, she has joined and contributed to the Dunlap Young Musicians, a student-created music group that performs at senior homes on the holidays. She is also active in her Sunday School (Chinmaya Mission) and has helped write promotional songs and plays to help fundraise for the school. Last but not least, Anjali is a classically trained Bharatanatyam dancer of Mythili Dance Academy and has contributed to shows that have raised over $500k for a variety of charities.

The Wonders of the Moon

Art by Aryanne Westfall

The Wonders of the Moon

by Izaak Garcia

When looking back to the first lunar landing in 1969, America has come a long way. We have sent out probes (space exploration devices), satellites, and observed the cosmos through high-powered telescopes. From the Earth, we see the wonders of our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and beyond. Back in 1969, the mere thought of humans living on another planet was strange and outlandish—not because no one had thought of it, but because humanity did not have the technology to make this task feasible. But now this dream could be within our reach in just 10-15 years.

Over the years, scientists have been gathering information on other planets and evaluating them to see if they could potentially sustain life. Since planets outside our solar system are unreachable due to the vast distances of space that separate us, Mars has been a long-time option for creating a potential habitat. But nothing has been as promising as our very own Moon, and as of recently, NASA scientists have made an astounding discovery.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (also known as SOFIA) observed water on a sunlit part of the Moon. The location that water was found at is known as the Clavius Crater, which is big enough that it can be seen from Earth. We have known for many years that the moon harbored water. In fact, the first time any nation uncovered this fact was in 1976, when the Soviet Lunar 24 probe found traces of water inside the soil of the Moon. Since then, a multitude of countries have invested their time and money into collecting information and even sending out their own probes. Until recently, the water that had been discovered on the Moon was limited to the shadowed and extremely cold parts of the surface (down to -387 degrees Fahrenheit), which is what makes this recent discovery a tremendous stride in the right direction.

While the discovery of water on the sunlit surface of the moon might not seem like a big deal at the moment, it provides evidence for a theory that water may be distributed throughout the surface of the Moon. Even with blazing temperatures reaching up to 260 degrees Fahrenheit, the fact that water can still be found on this part of the Moon makes scientists wonder: How much more water is there on the Moon, and if we can find more, can
we collect it—and more importantly, use it?

As humans continue to evolve and discover new things, the idea of building a colony on the Moon might not be as far away as it was once thought. The discovery of water gives hope that one day, in the future, humanity might not call Earth their only home.

If you would like to read more on NASA’s
discovery, visit here.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a senior at Richwoods High School, enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. After high school, Garcia plans to study Computer Science. He has played soccer with FC Peoria and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and Computer Science for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two total productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new coding languages, and video games.

A Note From our Writers – Dec. 2020

A Note From our Writers – Dec. 2020

Dear Reader—

In this issue, the writers were tasked with bringing their imagination and wildest musings to paper—from the Moon all the way to the fleeting nature of human thoughts.

We need more writers like this… writers who are ready to explore new, difficult, or even fun topics.

Giving Voice wants to provide creative minds (like yourself!) with a place to share your ideas freely and openly. Writing for this publication requires devotion—not just to the issues and to fellow writers, but to yourself. We have a place for you here, whether your voice takes the form of music, writing, videography, or photography. We are so excited to be producing content during times like this. We are all hoping that Giving Voice will challenge us and shape us into the best writers we can be. The team puts a lot of time and attention into crafting these articles and we hope you will
enjoy them.

Are you ready to join us?

Trent Miles

A Note From our Editor – Dec. 2020

A Note From our Editor – Dec. 2020

As we release our final Giving Voice issue of 2020, I cannot help but reflect back on the year. It is the year that wasn’t, in a way—so many cancelled weddings, gatherings, festivals, concerts, courses, and more. We did this in an effort to protect one another from the COVID-19 pandemic, affirming our collective reliance on one another as humans… not just within our borders, but globally.

If you’re thinking, “Well, that is a bit of a rosy take,” I would agree with you. Certainly, we also saw the fractured nature of our society. Not everyone agrees on the proper response, with conflicts and protests sparked amidst pleas from scientists to distance and wear masks. As I write this, the United States has seen the loss of over 260,000 lives, and globally the death toll is rising to nearly 1.5 million.

And we are still grappling with the aftermath of the summertime Black Lives Matter demonstrations, recognizing the pervasive nature of systemic racism. The protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd spread around the world, with cries for reform and justice. This work is far from over—it is just beginning.

Then there were the devastating fires in the American West, burning 8.2 million acres. Floods, a record hurricane season, flattened cornfields, and other natural disasters are a daily reminder that the climate crisis requires immediate action.

How do we process such loss? How do we heal? In her article “An Exhausted College Student,” Kianna Goss expresses what I suspect many of us are feeling—frustration, burnout, and uncertainty. She offers tips for taking care of our mental and physical wellbeing, which I hope you will consider implementing into your own life.

Yet I find a great deal of hope in what I read in these pages—and I think you will, too. These young people may be as exhausted as us, but they are determined to shape the future into one that is equitable and safe. Jenin Mannaa writes about her own journey wearing the hijab, and how she found pride in her identity and support from her peers and teachers. Anjali Yedavalli dreams of a future where women are equally represented in the STEM field. Trent Miles brings to light the child separation crisis happening at our borders and asks us all to speak up. Elizabeth Setti bravely discusses addiction and food disorder issues and offers suggestions on how to seek out help.

I do not know how historians will look back on this year, but I do know that our first issues of Giving Voice demonstrate the values that we will all need moving forward: honesty, compassion, justice, authenticity, self-respect, and collaboration.

“Storms make trees take deeper roots,” Dolly Parton once famously said. My sincerest wish is that we all stand stronger and taller—together—as we enter 2021.

Mae Gilliland Wright, PhD
Giving Voice Editor-in-Chief