Is it better to be mortal or immortal?

by Jessica Wang 

Living forever might not be as 

great as it sounds…

Death is unfair, and you could die at any given point. Although you’d be dead, life would still go on. When death arrives at your doorstep it signals life is over. As sad as it could be, the end of one existence makes room for another person’s existence because the Earth only has enough resources to sustain so many living beings at once. A dead body could provide nutrition for the living to continue, as some cultures do. It’s like the passing of batons. 

According to science, there is no evidence of an afterlife. But what if you had the chance to be immortal—would you rather die like everyone else or live an infinite amount of years instead?

To start, let’s analyze why humans are scared of dying. People fear death even though they have never felt how it might feel. If they had, they would not be alive to tell the tale. It is natural for humans to fear the unknown. What would it be like to not be conscious? To be alone in an empty vacuum? To have an out-of-body experience? To feel like a void? To be nonexistent?

It could also be the pain of death, like getting stabbed or having a heart attack that makes people not want to die. But the good news is that today more and more people do not have to experience a torturous and inhuman death. In medieval times people had painful ways to die as a punishment for doing something wrong. 

Living forever is an alternative to experiencing the pain and weakness of death.  Being immortal would mean you could not die even if you wanted to. Even when you get bored with everything that life can offer, you would still have to endure being alive until the day the universe ends. Because of this, living forever could be tiring, especially if everyone you care about is gone since a loved one dying is a sad reality to endure. At first, infinity might seem like a good idea, however, there is a questionable weirdness about being alive forever because everything that we see in our world has a beginning and an end. Trees can only grow so tall, a day may feel endless but will only last so long, and there are only so many different animals to see and places to go. 

Infinity is only a concept that we are only aware of through reading books, which depict it as an endless line leading to a dark hole. But then again, death makes your life and time feel limited. So, to ask the question again: would you rather die like everyone else or live an infinite amount of years?

About Jessica Wang

Jessica Wang is a first year business student at Bradley University. Born in New York and currently living in Peoria, she is a lover of making impactful storytelling, drawing, exploring Peoria, playing piano, and eating sushi. She has participated in activities like freshflim and has over 200 hours of volunteer work.

My Dysfunctional Love Story

by Karma Henderson

Dysfunctional is love 

Love is Dysfunctional

Pulling me this way and that 

How do I decide what’s best for me 

He says this, he says that 

But what does she say? 

Nothing until it’s too late 

Hearts broken 

Tears fallen 

With no one to wipe them

Alone is peace but 

You’ve changed everything

Within me 

Now my peace is you 

Please be tender with it

For she has been damaged

Just now healing with much left 

Just be true it’s all I have 

Nothing else to lose 

But you 

For I have giving all I can give 

Please be tender 

I give you my damaged heart in exchange 

I ask for honesty, love, affection, wisdom and understanding 

I hope I’m not askin’ too much 

I don’t think I am 

But I think he does 

But here I stay still giving my all 

That’s why 

Love is dysfunctional.

Karma Henderson

Karma Henderson is 16 years old. She hopes one day to be a radiologist. Her interests are photography and helping others.

A November Day

by Izaak Garcia

Sometimes it pays to be patient 

and play the long game.

It was a bitter cold, November day. The kind of cold that crawls through your clothes, and seeps directly into your bones, chilling them to the core. The kind of cold that nips and bites at every inch of exposed skin, turning it into a frozen tundra. The kind of cold that when you step outside for the first time that day, you skip back inside, whispering to yourself, “Not today.” Yet, there we were, sitting at the picnic tables in the middle of a deserted park right in the heart of Peoria, Illinois. Five figures, all huddled around a chessboard, our breath resembling that of steam exiting from the nostrils of a dragon, dancing and shifting up into the air, back into invisibility. I feel the weight of my friends’ stares, watching me calculate and contemplate my next move. My eyes scour the board, weaving through knights, bishops, and pawns, all sitting on 64 squares of possibility, staring right back at me. I smile slightly, reaching for my own bishop, the black spire standing stoically on a dark-chocolate square, and move the piece—elegance and grace in my posture. The bishop takes a cream-colored pawn on my friend’s side of the board. I lift his pawn and set it beside me, a fine addition to my collection of captured pieces. I nod to myself, satisfied that I had made the correct move. 

It was not. “Yo, are you stupid?” my friend asks. “Look at the move you just made. Take a good look. LOOK!” He gestures wildly with his hand at my piece that just captured his. “Yea, yea, shut up I’m looking, what do you want?” I say, my voice heavy with exasperation. “The pawn you just took. What process did you go through in that miniscule brain of yours to decide that taking it was an intelligent decision,” he asks half-jokingly. “What? The pawn was free! I’m gonna take your piece if it’s undefended, and you’re stupid if you think I’m not,” I fire back. “But that’s not the point. You get so wound up about a free pawn, thinking you the Black Sherlock Holmes or somethin’, trying to act like you calculating all the scenarios in your head. If you use your eyes, and maybe even your brain every once in a while, you would know that since you moved your piece to capture the pawn, your king is wide open.” My friend moves his queen to a square right in front of my king. “That’s checkmate.” Watching the chessboard in dismay, I lean forward, putting my head closer to the pieces, as if being closer would solve my current dilemma of a lost game. Finally, I sit back in my chair, sigh, and look up. “Again?” my friend asks. “Hell yea.”

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, 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 English 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 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 languages, and playing video games.

Autumn’s End 

by Ayannah Garcia

“Tis the damn season.”

Inspired by ‘Tis the Damn Season’ by Taylor Swift

Winter is coming 

Some might say it’s already here 

With the orange and red leaves barely on trees stunning 

The sheer sight of it makes me cheer

With Thanksgiving out of the way, it’s time to sing 

Time to turn on the fire and sit with crossed knees 

The flicker of a candle and loose shoestrings 

The time when there are no more bees 

Warm winter drinks and soft cookies

Bundles of blankets make you snuggly 

Family and friends feel like goodies

Gosh, I love winter! 

Gilmore Girls on its last episode 

Sleeping in ‘til two in the afternoon

Looking at the frost covering the road

The vibes in the air make me swoon

Different holiday movies fill the day

While we put up the ornaments on the trees

And every day feels like a Friday 

I’m sure you would agree

Sadness lingers like warmth on a cold night

Loneliness creeps in the house in the dark

Soon fireworks will be in the air at midnight 

And colder than winter in a park

The end of autumn comes with the happy and sad

Joy and depression are a package deal 

Along with the jeans and plaid

It just doesn’t feel real. 

About Ayannah Garcia

Ayannah Garcia is a freshman attending Richwoods High School, where she takes part in the Pre-IB program, the Royalettes dance team, and the drama club. Outside of school, she loves to dance, read, journal, travel with family, and play with her dog. In addition to these activities, she is currently a member of the Finale Group of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill, an organization for young African American individuals who want to serve the community, and a member of her church’s youth group.

Art by Qaasaani Little

Qaasaani Little is a freshman at Richwoods High School. Little is a member of Student Leadership Team and Student Council. She has loved art for as long as she can remember, including painting and drawing. Little’s artwork is for sale. She also loves animals, after school activities, and is inspired by her mom for always pushing her to do my best. 

Finding Myself in a Major Way

by Rasheedah Na’Allah

Choosing a college major can be intimidating, until it’s fulfilling.

Telling some of my family that I wanted to be a sociology major for college was a chore. Their first comment was, “What can you learn from sociology that I can’t learn from just turning on the news?” At the time, I did not fully know the answer to that question. All my life, I have been scared of the thought of my future and the possibility of failure. Adults often told me it was okay not to know my future path, but their tone showed disapproval when my response was, “I’m not sure.” As I declared my sociology major, I couldn’t help but feel eagerness and unease. What if I was going in the wrong track? What if my family was right and sociology wasn’t the wise choice for me?

As I attended my first week of university, I couldn’t help but keep a smile on my face. From just one week of classes in Sociology 105, I felt like I had more clarity on the subject. Sociology studies some of the hot topics of today such as race, gender, sexuality, and more—but it does so in a depth people do not realize. Sociology gathers facts, asks questions about theoretical ideas, and assesses the morality of what “should” and “shouldn’t” be. 

Looking at what “should” and “shouldn’t” be was a constant for me growing up. Living in a suburb at a majority white school as a Black Hijabi brought many bouts of internal questioning. Should I let my peers stereotype me? Should it be ok for students of color to be called racial slurs on a regular basis? I was normally standing up for myself and other marginalized communities and I was still denigrated. I “shouldn’t” be denigrated. I “should” be respected.

Entering college classes to see many people who looked like me was a culture shock. For the first time in my life, I had challenging and enlightening conversations on a major I didn’t know could be so complex. On the last day of my first week, I stayed after class to ask my sociology professor a question. Not only did I get my question answered, but I got to have a genuine conversation with her about our love for sociology and our upbringings—something I have never been able to do. 

When I was finally able to help my family understand my love for sociology, they themselves became more intrigued. We researched it together and bonded over the similarities in the subject and their daily jobs. I could not help but beam. Not only did they come to accept my major, but I also fell more in love with it. Trusting in the process and learning from the experiences around me made me find pure happiness. It made me find myself.

About Rasheedah Na’Allah

Rasheedah Na’Allah is a senior at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois. She is the youngest of her 3 siblings and enjoys the benefits of being the “baby of the house.” Her Nigerian and Muslim upbringing has led her to be resilient and outspoken in her beliefs. Rasheedah is a dedicated student who is a part of the National Honors Society and loves to be active in her community. She planned a diversity assembly at her school in front of the entire student body, formed an extensive research project on racial disparities and inequities in the education system, and has been appointed into the Peoria County Board’s Racial Justice and Equity Commission. She has also served as Dunlap’s representative to engage and network with young state leaders attending the 2020 Illinois Senator Youth Leadership Council. Rasheedah is the founder of her school’s Muslim Student Association, leads in foreign language club, and is a strong member of the color guard team. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering and regularly posts on her cooking page through social media. She started her own book club and enjoys reading and discussing books by BIPOC authors. She hopes to pursue Business, Health, and Wellness during her college years and is extremely honored to write for the Giving Voice Initiative.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Ary Westfall is a junior Interactive Media major and Theatre Arts minor attending Bradley University. She is the social media manager for DAT, creates webcomics in her free time, and enjoys all forms of sequential art. Ary hopes to break into the comic world or find work in pre-production art for television.