Judy Garland by Mariam Couri

Mariam Couri is a 17-year-old student from Peoria Notre Dame High School. She plans on studying Elementary Education in the fall. Couri loves creating art—especially ceramic pieces.

Judy Garland, formerly known as Francis Gumm, was a famous movie star from the mid-twentieth century and a major influence on the motion picture industry. She starred as Dorothy in the first full-color motion picture The Wizard of Oz and performed in Hollywood for forty-five years. She struggled throughout most of her adult life with an alcohol and drug addiction. She eventually died of a drug overdose in 1969. Judy Garland inspires me because although she dealt with many personal demons throughout her film career, she was still able to perform unique roles and opened up many opportunities for other women in Hollywood. I chose to represent her as a small child on the moon looking up into the sky to signify her hope for her future. She has her whole life ahead of her and she appears hopeful and is not afraid to achieve her dreams.

Nipsey Hussle by Mollie Unes

Mollie Unes is a senior at Peoria Notre Dame High School. Unes will be studying Marketing at the University of Missouri beginning this fall. She enjoys drawing with graphite and charcoal. For this piece, Unes used different sized black pens. The shape and value of the pens were used to make the multiple dots to form an image. The principles of unity and pattern were used as well to create the piece.

The title for this piece is ‘The Marathon Continues.’ Nipsy Hussle, a 33-year-old rapper, inspired me because he had big dreams. ‘The Marathon Continues’ soon became the tagline for his movement, bringing people of all colors together. He would say, ‘When you have been called by the universe to complete a task you keep running until the race is completed. And once you complete the race you run one more lap to let your enemy know that you won.’

Angela Presto by Adrien Vozenilek

A student at Peoria Notre Dame High School, Adrien Vozenilek’s art is focused on family, grief, and Italian culture. Vozenilek works mostly in 2-D, with media like watercolor, charcoal, and ink. This coming year, Vozenilek will attending Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville for a double major in art and psychology.

The painting you see is of my great grandmother, Angela ‘Deedee’ Presto. She was funny, loving, and constantly cooking, sewing, dancing, or playing piano. Deedee was the one who taught me my first song on the piano, and would always encourage me to do any form of art. Without her, I would have never had the passion for art I have today.

Maria Shadid by Danielle Shadid

Danielle Shadid is a senior at Peoria Notre Dame High School. She enjoys art, volleyball, and spending time with her family. Shadid will be attending Loyola University Chicago next year to study biology with a minor in business. Drawing has always been therapeutic for Shadid and she plans to keep it close to her for the rest of her life.

“I drew my sister Maria because she has always been inspirational to me. She puts others before herself and has grown up being the glue that holds my family together. During quarantine, life always remained interesting and bubbly because of my sister. She pushed through nursing school in the middle of a pandemic and graduated with flying colors, despite always having been doubtful of her intelligence. We have always called Maria the “color” in the family because of her bubbly personality and her ability to wear her heart on her sleeve. I chose to draw my sister because she inspires me to be like her in her strength while remaining sensitive.”

Patricia Jankovsky by Grace Fady

Grace Fady is a senior at Peoria Notre Dame High School. She enjoys making art and baking. Jankovsky plans to attend Illinois Central College and open her own business to sell baked goods.

“This is Patricia Jankovsky. She is my grandma she will be turning 79 in two months. She has an associate degree and worked for Caterpillar until she had my mom and uncle. She is a very strong person and has worked hard all her life. She would always offer to take care of me and my brother whenever my parents were busy, and she would always try to help us. She is a great grandma and I really look up to her.”

Finding Balance at District 150

Anna Gross

The Peoria Public Schools Board of Education will soon make a decision about what the school year will look like—and many students have concerns.

This spring, the Peoria Public School (PPS) Board of Education is making a pivotal decision. It is voting on its administration’s proposal to adopt a Balanced Calendar beginning in the 2023-2023 school year. This would shorten the traditional summer, spreading learning across a year-round calendar. Summer break would last one month, and learning would occur throughout the year for 45-day periods followed by intermittent two-week breaks. I spoke with PPS students about this proposal, encountering many who were unaware that it was being considered. After collecting signatures for a petition against the balanced calendar, I learned that around 90% of those students were, like me, opposed to the new schedule. Many of us have serious concerns about how a schedule change would impact the community.

According to the Peoria Public Schools District 150 (D150) website, the impetus for suggesting a Balanced Calendar is to provide extra instruction for students who are behind due to at-home learning. Covid-related learning is a valid concern, as is the reality that many D150 students were behind before the pandemic. However, is a large-scale change to the D150 calendar the best solution for helping students get back on track?

Jackie Hoyle, a Richwoods High School sophomore stated, “I find the Balanced Calendar unfair because the board has shown no research or proof as to why they think it is beneficial to students.” A closer look at articles that D150 has posted on its website proves this theory. In fact, most research shared does not favor the Balanced Calendar. As documented on the D150 website, the Education Advisory Board surmises that a Balanced Calendar does little to address learning gaps, noting: “Studies that assess the effectiveness of year-round schools yield inconclusive evidence that year round schools improve academic performance.”

A downfall of the Balanced Calendar is that it omits aspects of summer that students cherish. Richwoods High School freshman Adam Pham states, “The traditional long summer break helps students reset their minds and stress levels, also allowing students to participate in summer activities like camp or sports.” And one of my concerns, shared by many students, is that the Balanced Calendar prevents teenagers from getting summer jobs. Many rely on money made from summer work to pay for college.

Switching to a Balanced Calendar “doesn’t encourage students to take higherlevel classes and be student athletes,” observes Richwoods junior Katy Wales. A shorter summer keeps athletes from attending sports camps and working on their skills on the off season. Many camps important to students are only offered during summer months.

Shortened breaks occurring every 45 days raise another issue: day care for younger students. It’s easier to secure childcare for longer periods of time. Few childcare facilities accommodate such schedules. The proposed Balanced Calendar will leave caregivers scrambling to find care for their kids at random times throughout the year.

In order to address learning loss, a better plan would be to offer high quality tutoring within the traditional school calendar, as well as learning programs over the summer. This would help students in need, while also facilitating participation in the traditional summer break activities. Until then, many questions remain about the future D150 balanced calendar. How will the district impart research-driven evidence that a calendar change would close the learning gap? Will the administration take into account students’ opinions on this issue? The answers remain to be seen.

About Anna Gross

Anna Gross is a freshman in the pre-international baccalaureate program at Richwoods High School. She is involved in tennis, choir, and the Student Leadership Team. In her free time, Anna likes to sing, dance, read, and bake. During the summer of 2020 she wrote, filmed, and directed a movie with her neighbors. She also took online dance and theater classes taught by Broadway performers. Having performed in several community theater shows over the years, she is looking forward to getting back to the stage 

when it is safe. 

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.

Scholarship Resources for Students

by Kianna Goss

With the cost of higher education increasing, it is important to understand and utilize financial aid resources.

As a first-generation college student—someone who is the first in their immediate family to attend a university—deciding to attend college was a financial burden on my family in the beginning.

The average cost of attending a public college in-state is $25,290, while the average cost of attending a public college out-of-state is $40,940, according to Research Analyst Justin Song, Sr. of ValuePenguin. The average cost of attending private college is $50, 900. As higher education prices increase, it becomes more difficult for first-generation students to attend four-year universities. According to Jessica Dickler of CNBC news, rising tuition leaves students unable to attend a university or leaves their families with a large amount of debt.

When I was a senior in high school, I wish I was more aware of the opportunities to receive scholarships. There are many scholarships created by individuals aiming to help students succeed at university. Carissa Chang Cress, writer for ScholarshipAmerica. org, explains why scholarships are important. She notes, “By providing sufficient scholarship assistance, we can enable greater success in college, providing backing for deserving students who want to graduate with their degree and give back to society.”

  1. Going Merry is a great resource for finding scholarships. It provides personalized scholarship search to match individuals based on criteria and eligibility.
  2. Scholarspath.com provides tools for families and one-on-one help from the founders of the website. Follow their Instagram account (@scholarspath), where they help parents and students gain crucial knowledge about available scholarships.
  3. Another option to find scholarships is to ask your advisor about scholarships created by alumni.
  4. There are also wide-scale scholarships for students who are eligible—for example, the annual Coca-Cola scholarship or the annual Taco Bell scholarship.
  5. For individuals who attend a church, many provide scholarships for students who are going to attend a college/university.
  6. Another useful scholarship website is Fastweb. They find scholarships related to your skills and interests.
  7. Bottom Line is an organization that helps first-generation and low-income students apply to and get through college. The organization offers mentoring and guidance to students making their college decision. Their site also offers additional resources for scholarships, financial aid support, common application, and more.

If you feel overwhelmed by this list, you might be wondering how to apply for scholarships without consuming too much of your personal time. There are less timeconsuming scholarships, such as lottery drawing, where one has a 50/50 chance of winning or not winning. Also, many scholarships require essays—so here is a tip: write one great essay and customize it to fit the different scholarships applications.

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.

Performative Activism

by Jenin Mannaa

In the road to true allyship with the Black Lives Matter movement, each individual has a role to play.

In 2014, Eric Garner’s death at the hands of a police officer was one of several key impetuses that led to the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. Inspired by the wave of political activism that swept the Millennial generation, PepsiCo released an advertisement with Kendall Jenner in April of 2017. A demonstration that emulates a Black Lives Matter protest is featured, culminating when Kendall Jenner comes forth to the police—who are blocking the streets—and hands one of them a can of soda.

The Kendall Jenner/PepsiCo commercial is a prime example of performative activism, which is “a form of activism used to increase one’s social capital or personal gain rather than genuine support towards a movement, issues, or causes” (Ira). The PepsiCo commercial disrespects the Black Lives Matter movement through their mockery of a protest and their inclusion of something referred to as a “white savior.”

After viewing the PepsiCo commercial, the members of the Black Lives Matter movement took to Twitter to articulate their incredulity. A poignant tweet came from Taryn Finley, the editor of HuffPost’s Black Voices, who posted, “The gleeful celebration over the fact that the police officer takes a sip of the Pepsi Jenner offers him is absurd. This scene makes it seem as if the price for positive social change in this country is as cheap as a can of soda” (via Dozé). PepsiCo naively depicts a Black Lives Matter protest as jubilant, which undermines the reality of systemic racism in America and the difficulty in terminating it.

There is also a lot of controversy surrounding the final scene of the commercial, which resembles one of the defining images of the Black Lives Matter movement: a photograph of Ieshia Evans, a 28-year old nurse being detained in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Smith). Kendall Jenner’s ability to confront a police officer fearlessly indicates her white privilege. The implication that she can exterminate systemic racism in America as a rich white woman—and as someone that our society traditionally deems as attractive—establishes a white savior complex. Incorporating a pivotal moment in the Black Lives Matter movement into an advertisement for a beverage is disrespectful in nature and reveals how a snack and beverage company does not have the ethos to make political commentary. The commercial approximately cost $2 million dollars for production alone. Investing in a BLM organization would have sufficed if PepsiCo truly wanted to pay their respects to the Black community.

With the wave of political activism sweeping the nation from 2020 to 2021, it is vital to learn from PepsiCo’s mistakes and make sure we are genuine in our allyship. The first maneuver in genuine allyship is recognizingyour privilege and sparking constructive conversations. The foundation of change is acknowledging when one of your family members, friends, or acquaintances is in the wrong and taking the time to educate them on their racist conduct. Another example of genuine allyship is confronting and unlearning your own implicit bias. You may not recognize your own prejudiced tendencies, which can be amended with continuous education and open conversation (Ira). It all starts with each individual in the pathway to achieving liberty and justice for all.

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.

About Sophie Liu 

Sophie Liu is a senior at Dunlap High School who has won numerous art prizes such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award and several honorable mentions. As someone who also values academics, business, and volunteering, she has participated in and led many activities in her community. Her volunteering contribution has awarded her the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. She is one of the club leaders of her school’s Interact Volunteering Club. During her summers, Liu has participated in several business camps such as Kelley Business’s Young Women’s Institute, where she has gained knowledge and experience in her passion. She also runs her own online art business where she creates commissioned art pieces and gains firsthand business experience. Liu plans to continue her love of business, volunteering, and art in college, where she will major in either Marketing or Business Analytics and minor in art.

Addressing Global Vaccine Inequality: Part 1

by Kratika Tandon

While COVID-19 vaccine distribution increases in the United States, a slow global roll-out threatens the health and wellbeing of everyone.

After over a year of stay-at-home orders, overflowing hospitals, and constant Zoom meetings, the beginning of the end of the pandemic is finally nearing. With the rapid rollout of vaccines from various distributors, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Although trying to book a local vaccine appointment is arguably a straightforward process, it is not so easy on a global level. While the United States is able to vaccinate millions of Americans on a daily basis, COVID-19 vaccine distribution around the rest of the world remains scarce. In fact, vaccine distribution is practically nonexistent in the poorest countries. According to the New England Journal of Medicine on April 3, 2021, experts predict that 80% of the population in lowerresourced countries will not receive a vaccine in 2021. Vaccine distribution inequality is a huge issue that has consequences on both an individual and widespread scale. In this article, we discuss the problem of global vaccine inequity and its implications, before finally taking a look at potential solutions.

The uneven distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally is a multifaceted issue with various contributing factors. According to Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus Adhanom, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), the “inequitable distribution” of vaccines worldwide is becoming “more grotesque every day” as the inequality gap begins to widen (March 9, 2021). On April 5, 2021, the Washington Post warned that the disproportionate distribution of the vaccines will most likely result in the lengthening of the pandemic, resulting in more casualties and economic losses. According to EuroNews on March 22, 2021, approximately 0.1% of doses administered worldwide are in “low-income” countries and 70% of vaccines have been administered by only ten countries. This issue stems from the idea of vaccine nationalism, which is the monopolization of COVID-19 vaccines by more prosperous nations in order to immunize their own populations first. A study conducted by Northeastern University in Boston found that this could cause twice the number of fatalities simply because herd immunity is not as achievable without equal distribution.

It is clear that this matter poses a threat to equitable access, but the consequences go deeper than simply acting out of moral obligation. WHO Director Dr. Tedros warns “the more transmission, the more variants.” Adding, “The more variants that emerge, the more likely it is that they will evade vaccines.” There is also an economic standpoint to consider with this matter. A study commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation shows that advanced economies (a term used to describe the most developed nations in the world) stand to lose trillions of dollars through vaccine nationalism. As much as $9.2 trillion could be at risk if governments can’t ensure developing economies access to these vaccines. This deeply hurts public and economic health on a massive scale.

While we have only covered the problem and its implications, stay tuned for the upcoming issue where we will discuss some ways to help alleviate this global crisis. It is also important to note that readers in the United States should still do their best to take advantage of the vaccines that are provided locally while understanding that this issue exists.

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.

The Next Chapter

by Trent Miles

For some students, pursuing a non-traditional path after graduating high school brings clarity, experience, and unique job opportunities.

Do you know what you want to do after you graduate from high school? After all, there is no rule that says you must attend college three months after graduation from high school.

A non-traditional post-graduation path can provide you with a greater sense of what you plan to do with your life. Many college acceptances can be deferred for a year, which means that you won’t have to resume from scratch when you return. If you’re still not sure, or don’t know what you would do with a year off, try any of these alternative post-graduation options.

  1. Learn a trade. College isn’t the only choice for continuing your studies. Trade and technical schools provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn a lucrative trade at a fraction of the cost and with far less time. You will receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of your program be able to start a career in your desired field. There are dozens of fields to choose from: graphic design, carpentry, cosmetology, surgical technology, plumbing, massage therapy, dental hygiene, and much more. On the other hand, universities generally offer programs that result in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. These take longer to complete (4+ years).
  2. Join the military. During your years of service, you will accumulate useful experience and join the workforce with a slew of real-world successes. Serving in the military is likely to help you improve your leadership and teamwork skills, provide you with a structured, disciplined way of doing things, and build your character. Joining the military is, of course, a significant commitment—you’ll serve for a minimum of five or eight years, depending on which division you select. The military also provides university education.
  3. Save and invest your money. College is an expensive endeavor. Aside from day-to-day living expenses, students also find themselves paying off loans for years. Instead of going straight to school, the option of working for a year to save up for this expensive venture is always available. Consider attending part time and choosing a public, in-state school to reduce the amount of student loans needed— because most will still need student loans regardless.
  4. Do volunteer work. Finding time after high school to devote yourself to a cause is worth considering. You will be surrounded by experts in the area, giving you experience and focus as you contemplate your future. Do you want to help at-risk youth? Do you want to see more citizens receive free healthcare, or work on a local basis to protect the environment? AmeriCorps is prime example of where you can do this kind of work. They are a voluntary civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors that engage adults in public service work with a goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.”
  5. Travel internationally. Graduation signifies the conclusion of classwork, tests, professors, and extracurricular activities. It might be a good opportunity in your life to see the world you’ve spent so much time learning about in textbooks. By joining the Peace Corps, you do just this. They promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: (1) To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, (2) To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served, and (3) To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

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.