A “Long March” Ahead

by Izaak Garcia

As more nations look to space, a potentially disastrous mistake with a Chinese rocket is a reminder of the challenges ahead.

Recently, part of a Chinese rocket became one of the largest pieces of space debris to make an uncontrolled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. It captured the world’s attention—and while no one was harmed, it is a reminder of the dangers associated with space flight.

The Chinese rocket, a model of the Long March 5B series meant for space travel and orbit, was launched on April 29, 2021, with the intent to break apart into its main core and reach orbit above the Earth’s atmosphere. The Long March 5B is not a single rocket with a single mission, but rather a part of a larger series of space missions. The overall goal is to shuttle materials—and eventually a crew— to space, with the end goal being to build a permanent Chinese space station in 2022. This specific rocket would carry the main module of the Chinese space station, which is a critical part in building it. Constructing a space station is no easy task, but when it is accomplished, many good things can come from it, such as improvements to medical care and advanced space exploration to different planets. But it must first be built, and as you will see, China has had some difficulties on that end.

Not long after the rocket had been launched into orbit around the earth, things started to go awry. For instance, as soon as the Long March went into orbit above the Earth, it almost immediately began to lose height due to the slowly decaying orbit, and come back down towards Earth. Along with the main core of the rocket losing height, the Chinese team that was in charge of the rocket reported that they had lost control of it entirely, and that they could not anticipate where the rocket would land when it came back down to Earth. This would prove extremely problematic for both the Chinese space team and the world. Without knowing where the rocket and its debris would land, it was impossible to tell how much damage it could possibly do. Luckily many governments kept an eye on the falling rocket, and even put up a live tracker for the public. On May 8, 2021, around 10:15 pm Eastern time, the Long March 5B rocket and its debris re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, and soon after crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Many risks go into pushing the boundaries of what we know is safe, especially out in the cold expanse of space. Even the early space leaders such as the United States and Russia made mistakes. The only way we avoid going backwards is to go forward. As time passes, the world’s technology will continue to improve. And who knows? Perhaps in the future, it won’t just be a couple of countries going into space—but many, many more.

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.

Changing the Cycle

by Neve Kelley

“Period Poverty” is a real issue—and there are practical ways for communities to address it.

It is no secret that adequate tampons, pads, and other products used to manage menstruation are costly. The average woman spends 2,250 days of her life menstruating and thus may spend thousands of dollars on related products throughout her lifetime. To make matters worse, many states apply a “pink tax,” meaning menstrual products are taxed as non-essential items, making them even more expensive (Duquesne University). No matter her financial situation, a woman must find a way to purchase or obtain suitable menstrual care products. But what if she can’t?

Period poverty is the inadequate access to pads, tampons, liners, and other items necessary to manage menstruation, often coupled with a lack of access to general hygiene items. The most prominent groups impacted with this issue are students and homeless women. These women are often forced to use rags, paper towels, toilet paper, or anything else they can find to substitute for menstrual products. Others may ration their products by using them for far longer than recommended (Duquesne University). This makes these women more vulnerable to health risks—urinary tract infections, for example—that if not properly taken care of can result in recurrent infections, permanent kidney damage, and in extreme cases, even death (Mayo Clinic). Additionally, 1 in 5 girls in America have left or skipped their classes because of an inability to access proper menstrual care products (Alliance for Period Supplies). These are issues no young woman should ever have to face.

The largest reason this problem has been left unsolved for so long is the stigma surrounding menstruation. Jill Litman at Berkeley Public Health says, “It is a topic that people are usually uncomfortable talking about and is typically a topic that is only discussed behind closed doors. This is because cultures all over the world have developed detrimental concepts and beliefs about menstruation.”

I knew it was time to break this stigma, which is why I became a volunteer for Her Drive. Her Drive is a Chicago-based 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that collects bras, menstrual care items, and general hygiene products for people in need. They strive to empower, inspire, and educate youth leaders to work to end period poverty in their own communities. The executive team began this project in June of 2020, collecting products for those in need in the Chicagoland area, then began facilitating drives for hundreds of groups nationwide. Another Richwoods student and I hosted a drive in Peoria throughout April. We used our school, flyers, social media, and other mediums to get the word out and ended up collecting

4,314 items, which we donated to Dream Center Peoria and the Children’s Home. Doing this, we have hoped to shed light on the relevance of period poverty to fellow students and the Peoria community. While our drive has concluded, you can still support Her Drive by visiting their website to learn more about their mission and donate. I also encourage you to spread awareness about this topic so period poverty can be lessened worldwide.

Other organizations you can support:

Days for Girls

The Pad Project

The Period Collective

About Neve Kelley

Neve Kelley and is an International Baccalaureate student at Richwoods High School. In addition to being in an academically rigorous program, she is heavily involved in community and school theatre productions. Kelley takes private voice lessons, training in musical theatre and opera, and has been involved in choir and madrigals. Kelley is also a writer for the news section of the school paper, a Student Council senator, in various school clubs, and active in community service. Most Recently, she became a volunteer for Her Drive, a nonprofit aimed at providing bras, mensural products, and general hygiene products to help end period poverty. As part of that effort, she hosted a month-long drive in Peoria to help those in need.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Aryanne “Ary” Westfall is a sophomore at Bradley University majoring in Animation and minoring in Theatre Arts. She is pursuing a career as a storyboard artist and enjoys creating graphic novels in her free time. As a member of the Digital Art Team, Westfall spends her time connecting with other artists and creating as much as she can.

Addressing Global Vaccine Inequality: Part 2

by Kratika Tandon

While wealthy countries like the United States continue to have vaccine access, others do not—and we need to do our part to remedy the situation.

Readers will recall the discussion from the May issue of Giving Voice about the unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines on a global level—since then, the situation seems to have worsened beyond comprehension. As previously mentioned, there isn’t equitable access to vaccines worldwide, making “vaccine nationalism” a massive problem. Because of this, the COVID-19 vaccine industry is monopolized by the higher-income nations— in short, wealthier populations receive the dose first. In the last issue, we mentioned the hazardous consequences that could come out of such inequality—from both an economic and epidemiological standpoint. Within the past month alone, we have seen the sheer devastation caused by this problematic administration of the immunizations. Now that we’ve reintroduced the problem, let’s discuss the recent magnification of the issue while also identifying ways to help.

One of the nations that has easily been hit the hardest is India. Along with the rest of the world, India has been struggling to combat the pandemic for over a year. However, in the past few months, it’s been fighting a devastating new surge head-on. As the Wall Street Journal (April 25, 2021) reported, this sudden increase in cases came as a result of milder restrictions and too high of a sense of security from the public. While new and more contagious variants began spreading globally, a lack of vaccines only worsened the crisis. Bloomberg (April 27, 2021) added that while more developed economies had been hoarding resources to fight the pandemic—namely, vaccines—places like India have run short on supplies. The death toll is horrifying. According to the Wall Street Journal (May 19, 2021), India recorded the world’s highest death toll in a single day—a total of 4,475 deaths in 24 hours. Because of this crisis, hospitals have been forced to turn patients away due to a lack of access to beds, oxygen, and COVID-19 medication. The situation is so bad that crematoriums are running out of space and resources, and many families aren’t able to give a proper goodbye to their loved ones.

With such an astounding number of daily cases, India has recently been the global leader in COVID-19 deaths. However, as the New York Times (April 29, 2021) points out, the nation is also the world’s leading producer of vaccines. In fact, one of the major vaccine manufacturers, The Serum Institute, is located in Pune, Maharashtra. It has the goal to become the world’s top vaccine manufacturer. The corporation started producing tens of millions of AstraZeneca doses at the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. However, companies began struggling to increase and even maintain production as the drive slowed. Under Prime Minister Modi’s authority, all exports were suspended as India couldn’t even administer vaccines to its own people. Many individuals have only been able to receive one dose. Although focusing on rapid and tumultuous vaccine distribution is occurring right now, this problem is too urgent for such a short-term solution. As PBS (May 4, 2021) stated, the best thing we can do from abroad is donate to certified and legitimate organizations that provide and fund medical supplies (oxygen and PPE) in nations like India. We can also urge government officials to allocate funds to aid COVID-19 relief globally.

Unfortunately, as a result of vaccine nationalism that started early on, countries such as India are suffering on a massive scale. The consequences of this problem manifested from an epidemiological and economic perspective, as is evident from India’s ravaging COVID-19 crisis. The best thing for us to do now is continue to spread awareness and donate funds to the proper organizations. Although we know that this is an incredibly devastating issue, it’s important to stay hopeful and focus on practical solutions.

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.

A Reflection on AP Tests

by Trent Miles

Rather than acknowledging that students are still suffering from a year of turmoil, this year’s Advance Placement tests are “business as usual.”

Advanced Placement tests are exams administered by the College Board in the United States and are taken by students each May. The exams represent the climax of a year’s worth of Advanced Placement coursework. There is a multiple-choice portion and a free response component on AP examinations. In a recent Microsoft Teams meeting for my English class, my teacher explained the details of the upcoming advanced placement (AP) tests in May: the College Board is offering both online and digital options, and schools have the ability to decide the exam format. I watched in dismay as the “cons” list for this year’s digital exam grew longer and longer—no going back and- forth between questions, no uploading pictures of our work (so all the essays must be typed), along with concerns about the WiFi and submission issues that were present in last year’s online tests. I felt overwhelmed with frustration.

Under the College Board’s new plan, there will be three testing windows for each exam. The first, from May 3 to May 17, will allow students to take the tests at school with paper and pencil under traditional proctoring. The second, from May 18 to May 28, will allow testing in school or at home using computers. The third, from June 1 to June 11, is expected to be mostly at home but with some in-school sessions.

Another major problem with this year’s exam is that the in-person exam is designed for a regular school year. It seems redundant to point out that this school year has been anything but regular—our classes, at least, meet much less frequently, and for many content has been difficult to digest virtually. MS Teams fatigue has been overwhelming. Nevertheless, the College Board hasn’t appeared to account for the impacts that online school has had on students’ health, well-being, and learning.

Grimacing at the thought of paying hundreds of dollars for AP tests, taking three hour tests on my laptop, and being unable to check my work, I texted some friends to share my indignation. It was no surprise that they too were facing immense stress from thoughts of this year’s AP exams.

The at-home testing will use several measures to guard against cheating, officials said, including synchronous start times, plagiarism detection, computer-camera monitoring, and restrictions on revising answers. Because of this, students cannot put in the necessary time to truly understand the content.

For what it is worth, the College Board made AP exams shorter and open-note last year to acknowledge the chaos created by the abrupt shift to online learning. That system had many of its own flaws, and standardized testing as it stands is an inequitable assessment of intelligence. Still, the College Board has proven to be more than capable of adjusting test formats and requirements. We are at the oneyear anniversary of the confusion, disarray, economic turmoil, mass death, and decline of students’ emotional and physical health wellbeing wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic— yet the College Board has decided it is an appropriate time to proceed with business as usual. As students, we need to make our voices heard so that the next generation of Advanced Placement students will be ready to take on the exam. Speak with the College Board, teachers, school administration, and others through email or social media to make your opinions known.

About Trent Miles

Trent Miles is a 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 founder of his school’s Climate Action Club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a contributing Op-Ed writer for The Shield (school newspaper). Outside of school, he is heavily involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he currently serves as the Chapter Legislative Chair. Trent is also a writing intern for the New York-based platform LORYN, where he manages the featured artist page, interviews artists, finds talent, and more. He has earned several writing and Presidential Community Service awards. Trent contributed more than 1,000 hours of community service through various service projects, including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and helping at the Neighborhood House in Peoria, Illinois.

About Adrien Vozenilek

Adrien Vozenilek is a senior at Peoria Notre Dame High School. Currently, their focus is portraying family history and their Italian heritage through 2D works centered around heirlooms. Adrien will be a freshman at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and plans to become an art therapist for LGBTQ+ youth.

An Ode to the Class of 2021

by Anjali Yedavalli

In a year with so many disappointments, there were also moments when sincere gratitude flowed.

As a member of the Class of 2021, I feel we bring an interesting perspective to the discussion about the effects of COVID-19. Both starting and ending senior year in this pandemic was far from pleasant. This was supposed to be a year of closure—of being able to experience goodbyes with teammates for the last time, competing in the State Series, cheering in the stands at our last football game, the final moments at Homecoming and Prom, or getting to perform in our last productions, and take that final bow…

Gratitude rang high this year despite all the complaints; after all, many of us were able to continue our education, be it remote or in person, and many of us stayed healthy and were not severely displaced by the impacts of the pandemic. But the same cannot be said for everyone. The pandemic sometimes seems like a blanket experience—though while it imposed the same rules on everyone, the pain was not evenly distributed.

Some days we were able to keep our heads high and keep gratitude at the forefront, but other days we were just seventeen-year-old kids who so desperately wanted the year we were promised. I felt my own self fluctuating back and forth between these two states, between the endless gratitude for what I did have, what I did get, and the endless aching for what didn’t exist and never, ever would.

It was the inability to perform live that hit me the hardest. Our school was able to put on a masked, socially distant production of the musical “Little Women,” record the show, and stream it for audiences. I had the honor of playing the lead role of Jo March. It was a completely unexpected joy in my life and an experience I will treasure forever. But I will never forget walking in the theater in the weeks following the recording and seeing the rows of empty seats. “Those seats were supposed to be filled with people,” I thought to myself. “And I was supposed to run out during bows and hear their applause and know that I had done something good.” It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that I would never experience the joy of playing a character that I so deeply connected with and loved to a live audience, and to not get to share her with the world in the right way felt like a cruel, ironic end to my journey through high school.

But the truth is, that joy came in different ways. It appeared in the laughter during the technical difficulties at our Zoom rehearsals, or the very first time we all got to see each other and rehearse in person—or the gratitude that we even got to do it at all. And suddenly, I had this realization that fighting so hard to tell a story when the world made it feel impossible was probably the most “Jo March” thing I could ever do.

I won’t try too hard to dig for the silver linings, but I do know that throughout this year, it was made apparent that the fighting spirit within each of us is a lot stronger than we initially thought. There are moments we will grieve forever, but there were also beautiful moments we never expected to have. And most importantly, it’s clear the growth we’ve experienced as individuals has prevailed, which will always be a priceless thing.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021. Our school’s senior class motto this year was a quote by C.S. Lewis: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” I find this fitting. Looking back at this year feels like looking at a puzzle with tons of missing pieces—but the reality is that bigger, better puzzles are waiting to be finished in the days to come.

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.

Being a Black Woman at a PWI

by Kianna Goss

Black women often do not feel comfortable at Predominantly White Institutions—but there are solutions to the problem.

After attending a diverse elementary and high school back home in Chicago, attending Bradley University—a predominantly white institution (PWI)—was a shift. The concept of feeling like I “belonged” was a little challenging. If you are a Black woman at a PWI, there is importance in finding those comfortable spaces to reduce isolation. This is meant to be a guide to Black women in the same situation, and a perspective for those who do not understand the issues we face.

The first challenge of being a Black woman at a PWI is trying to avoid being the “voice” for all underrepresented communities. When you attend a mid-size or small school, there is a strong chance of you being the only Black woman in the class. So, when professors in sociology or anthropology courses ask about any racial stereotypes, racial injustices, or any perspective of societal issues—you sit there thinking about whether you should share your perspective or stay quiet. If you are always the one speaking up, it is not your responsibility to be the voice for people of color. It is important for individuals who are not knowledgeable about social injustices to educate and inform themselves outside of the classroom.

Another challenge you may come across is feeling like you have to prove yourself to your white peers. In classroom settings, there will be that one student who thinks they are smarter than you. From experience, I have had a classmate who ignored my ideas when working on a group project because he believed his way was better. The most important thing to do in a situation similar to this one is to be vocal and continue giving input. You know more than what they may expect you to know.

If you are experiencing difficulty adjusting to the new environment or feel isolated, one solution is to find support groups. At the majority of PWIs, there are Black student groups. Other Black students know the feeling of uncertainty and questioning of belonging on campus.

Vox ATL writer Kyra Rogers says, “There’s no place for Black girls at a PWI, so you need to find your people.” She adds, “You can join a Black Student Union, join clubs and teams, and even start your own if you need a safe space to be unapologetically Black.”

Spaces like those mentioned above allow Black women to share similar stories with other students who may understand the feeling of being lonely and an outcast. They are also useful for giving tips on how to handle yourself in a situation when you might feel discriminated against or connect you back to your culture.

Another solution to reducing isolation as a Black woman at a PWI is to embrace your identity. Oftentimes, you may feel like you are being judged for using slang, wearing your natural hair, or just being yourself. Merry Nebiyu, a writer for Her Campus said, “Finding Black women through TikTok who unapologetically loved themselves and their identities while embracing their Blackness challenged me to let go of my need to have my choices be dictated by these negative stereotypes.”

So, remember: As a Black woman at a PWI, it’s okay to be yourself, be vocal, and find/ create safe spaces to express issues within your institution. If you are not a Black woman or student, remember to educate yourself on issues that occur in underrepresented groups on campus. Also, don’t be afraid to attend Black student seminars to learn how they feel at a PWI and gain a new perspective.

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.

The Importance of Mental Health in Men

by Elizabeth Setti

Men should be encouraged to seek out help for mental health issues.

The body positivity movement traditionally has been geared towards women because of continuous societal expectations. However, cisgender heterosexual males also suffer from eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and a lack of confidence in general because of male body standards. People who identify as men also gravitate towards dismissing their mental health problems to avoid being labeled as “weak.” As a society, we often do not recognize how much pressure is placed on men to look a specific way. The stigma around mental health, especially in men, is a major problem.

Similar to women, there is an ideal body type and diet culture that society has constructed for men. Males are expected to be muscular, bulky, and strong—which is not a realistic expectation for all bodies. Additionally, men are type casted as less emotionally available compared to women, resulting in many men hiding their feelings. For example, if a man is suffering from issues correlated to body image, they are more likely to internalize those emotions, so that they are not perceived as weak. Being emotionally weak derives from misogynistic stereotypes that women exhibit their feelings more than men. Society has unintendedly labeled these tendencies as “weak.” Not accepting or actively recognizing those harmful feelings can lead to several more severe issues such as eating disorders or depression. The Mental Health Foundationstates, “One in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, or OCD. And only 36% of referrals to psychological therapies are for men.” Millions of men suffer from mental health yet don’t receive the necessary care needed in order to improve. The disproportion between genders for mental health treatment is a major contributing factor to the mental health crisis in America.

Specifically in regards to how diet culture impacts men, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) predicts one in three people who struggle with eating disorders are male. In fact, there is a higher risk of mortality from eating disorders for men when compared to women. It is critical to recognize the commonality of eating disorders in men because of how debilitating the side effects may be. The NEDA states, “Men and boys with anorexia nervosa usually exhibit low levels of testosterone and vitamin D, and they have a high risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.” With eating disorders being so common in men, public health should make a push for offering men treatment. Ultimately, breaking the stigma around men having problems correlated to mental health is the first step towards fixing this crisis.

Overall, our society has failed men in multiple ways in the aspect of mental wellbeing. As individuals we have to work towards normalizing mental health problems among all genders. Advocating for men to have better access to psychiatric treatment is a way to contribute to the solution. People who identify as men can discuss issues with their primary care doctor. Additionally, we must destigmatize the connotation that men who struggle are weak. The mental health crisis America is undergoing is a problem that is caused by all genders. Therefore, every gender deserves to be applauded and supported by others for focusing on their mental health.

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 Anorexia-Nervosa, 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.

A Tour of the Scottish Rite Theatre

by Adeline Ferolo

With towering stained glass windows and a storied past, the Scottish Rite Theatre is set to open soon—here’s a sneak peek.

Overview:

The Scottish Rite Theatre is located on 400 NE Perry Avenue in Peoria, IL, nestled between I-74, OSF hospital, and Obed & Isaac’s Restaurant and Brewery. Its prime location was previously overlooked due to its relatively reclusive past. The Masons owned and operated it for almost a century, hosting ceremonies and members-only gatherings. Due to dwindling membership over the past few decades, the building was rented out for local weddings, concerts, and theatre productions to bring in additional income. Now the KDB Group is revamping the space to house local theatre productions and events, and the building will soon welcome the public to enjoy its beautiful stained glass and hightech lighting rig in the renovated theatre. For Peorians familiar with the exterior structure of the building, including myself, I was simply stunned when initially touring the interior. The following photos capture the extensive past history, present state, and future finished, state-of-the-art Scottish Rite Theatre located in downtown Peoria.

Past:

The following group of photos illustrates the elusive past of the Scottish Rite Theatre, which previously housed the local Masonic temple in Peoria. Remnants of the Mason’s presence are still observed in the building today. From multi-story shelves stuffed with old records crowding a small closet in the main office, to the original piano stored on the top floor. The building’s past continues to characterize its present state.


Towering shelves store documents related to the
Scottish Rite dating back a century.

The Peoria Scottish Rite installed a Moller pipe organ
shortly after the dedication of the building in 1925.
The KDB Group hopes to restore it.

Present:

The building’s past has been persevered in the stunning architecture which defines it as a Peoria landmark. The row of stained glass windows lining the second floor balcony of the theatre is a prime example. These windows contain symbols imbued with centuries of significance, drawing inspiration from traditional Christian-styled windows, yet revealing themes and characters of the Masonic brotherhood. The colorful windows continue to contribute to the performative atmosphere of the building.

Light spills into the Scottish Rite Theatre
through intricate stained glass windows.

Future:

The detailed renovation of the Scottish Rite Theatre by the KDB Group, which began in 2019, will soon be visible to the public as they open up the theatre and event space. A new HVAC unit, electrical wiring, and an extensive lighting system are the highlightsof the renovation. The theatre lighting system has the ability to be controlled completely by the touch of a finger from a mobile phone and has the possibility to create a variety of color combinations on both the theatre and audience areas. Through these intricate updates, the KDB Group has reinvigorated the slogan of “It plays in Peoria” in the current Peoria arts community.


The Scottish Rite Theatre can seat 900 people.
Photographer and mentor David Vernon takes photos for a feature story in
Peoria Magazines. Read the article by visiting peoriamagazines.com.

Jenny Parkhust, the KDB Group’s Executive Director
of Performing Arts, demonstrates light controls.

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.

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