The Bluestocking 2022-23

The Bluestocking is Havergal College’s art and literature magazine, which highlights the talents of Havergal students.

Bluestocking 2022-2023


The Bluestocking

In the mid-eighteenth century, the Bluestockings were groups of English women who convened to read and share their ideas about such things as literature. Today, The Bluestocking is Havergal College’s art and literature magazine, which highlights the talents of Havergal students.

Content Advisory

The work in these pages was created by Grade 9-12 students at Havergal College. The writers are just that, writers. They have created characters, plots, and ruminations. They should not be assumed to have experienced the situations they have imagined or to be the characters they have crafted.

In these pages, you will encounter death and loss, near death catastrophes, riots and protests, emotional situations, the uncertainty of childhood, the vicissitudes of addiction, supernatural situations, and the horrors of obsession.

The Blue Editorial Board

EWC4U-01 and EWC4U-02

Maya Akkus Sofia Alhussan Hannah Assaf Hayden Blakely Katelyn Cai Amelia Campbell

Piper Nixon Avery Patterson Emma Ren

Olivia Robinson Jaime Rockwell Avery Southam Freya Stewart Mabel Szekely-Farrol Ella Toffoletto Amber Unal Tess Van Bruggen Riley Worth Leyao Xiao Angie Yan Sunny Zhao

Nancy Cao Elena Chen Jessica Cheung Carys Davies Lindsay Davies Isabela Dorado-Smith Sarah Douglas Ava El-Ayari Grace Foley Hope Hardy Lily Haskins Victoria Hrvoic Ave Kreppner Jane Ling Brianna Livingstone Isla Milne-Smith

Kaitlin Mohan Jaden Morrison Madison Myers


Design and Layout


Kasey Kim Camryn Nowak Riya Savundranayagam Emily Stanley Rowan Woloviec Allison Yu

The Blue Teacher Supporters

Laura McRae Jennifer Goldberg

Kasia Ulbin Gillian Scott

Eliana He | Grade 9 The Eye of the Storm Waiting on the dock, strangers roam Clueless of the cerulean sky soon to become bare

Some come by a ship expecting them Others are lost and land at false stops But the anchor is stable, all is still

And setting into the sea, the waves are cruel The clouds turn away to imprison the sun The thunder is actions misconceived The lightning is thoughts spoken but missaid The rain is all the words misheard The wind is everything they should have done The ship is wrecked, now who would you blame But the storm leads some to the place most calm Those who endured the ruthless waves Those who survived the messiest phase Those who owned the strongest ship Only a few are led to the eye of the storm


Jana Kalbasi | Grade 9 Bubbles

My brother is a freshly-blown bubble. He is gleaming in the sun, entertaining children and parents around him. He floats around carelessly, unfamiliar with the dangers that surround him. But upwards he continues to soar, his naivety and innocence shining for all to see. He is fragile. One touch, one breath in the wrong direction, and he is gone. The world is not kind to this bubble, but once, twice, his happiness saves him. Finally, as he touches the clouds, he pops.

Jana Kalbasi | Grade 9 The Mosaic I am from a grandmother’s wish From across the globe, a hope For a bright and bubbly baby. I am from my parents’ devotion To make that wish come true.

I am from the kitchen counter, From the chairs, taller than Jack’s beanstalk. But my voice, carelessly confident Loud as the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, Singing in a language I fought to understand. I am from the tears, his tears and ours, As he woke up to his first day In a bed, a cloud in disguise. I am from the smiles and hugs and laughter. I am from a love like diamonds. I am from summers, sitting in a red wagon. Becoming the canvas for ice cream, Cold paint splattered precisely all over our faces. I am from those reminders To never buy ice cream in a cone.

I am from a dark cave, Not knowing where to go. My light has been extinguished. I run and scream and cry and shout But still, I remain alone.


I am from a mosaic; It’s far from being done.

Even though the tiles are broken, With cracks and faded colours, The mosaic can still be beautiful.

Naomi McDonald | Grade 9 Shipwreck

Naomi McDonald


S i l e n c e floods the air.

Floods the streets. Sometimes I just can’t hear my own heartbeat. ShiverskVjkkkkk in July. Voices shutdown. When will they listen? Will they ever listen? I am broken inside like a clock

without the gears. A poorly patched up sail, entering the eye of the storm. I feel hollow, flooded with tears. I am the empty canvas crying to be painted. The book holding a story of countless pages. But can’t be written. I hold the pain of an


ocean. Its fake beauty and its slaughters. I hold a heart that knows nothing, but hurt. That’s me. The Pain . The Grief. The Sorrow. This world of bittersweet tears. Is the taste of humanity.

unwanted presence, that consumes you. If only the light would shine. Is there any light left to shine? There's an ocean filled with many fish, but one day one’s bound to bite you. I’m sinking m but I don't know what’s at the bottom. Am I m the problem? My life? My existence? Fate watches over like an

////Emotions can only go so deep, before it drowns someone. Floods her in silent tears. The roars of Kkkkkkwaves and emotion crash to shore. Echoes in my brain. The hermit. Solitude means there is Kkkkkkkkkkkno one to stab your back; but, it also means your sail will never rise. The telephone mmmmmmm ring that you can't bear to pick up. The question which you fear the answer. The waves of life. The journey. I have the weight of the boat on my Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkshoulders. Yet, I can’t seem to die. Drowning. Souls cry. njm kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkllllllDestiny lies. Sometimes it’s guilt. Others? Silence. kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkllllllmmmSometimes it is easier to be quiet. KkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkllllllmmmlkljnTo fall. To sink. To drown. But does Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkllllllmmmlkljnjjnj that mean we should Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkllllllmmmlkljnjjnjkn m give up the Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkllllllmmmlkljnjjnjknkjnjmm fight?


Naomi McDonald | Grade 9 Tick-Tock I watch over you like a vulture watches its prey I am the annoying tick in the back of your mystical mind

I am always running after you But someday, you’ll be mine

I am the relief that the school day is done The anxiety as you write your test I am the turtle on shore when you are waiting But the turtle in the sea as you try to slow me down You can never have enough of me

I will stress and pressure you With the trickling of sand

I am everywhere, yet no one can ever find me I’m on your wrist, in your pocket, in your head Yet, I am obliviated in space I am like an optical illusion, infinite at some points But can consume you at others I stand still when you are in most fear But drag on for ages After all, A candle can only burn for so long You cling onto me to survive Yet, I frown upon you like a shadow As your soul leaves your body and kisses you goodbye

Sometimes I spare and treat tenderly Like a newborn child Other times, I’m never satisfied And just like fate Must knock on your door The wise savour me Like honey or jam While the foolish take advantage of me Wasting away on a couch I pound your heart

And just like love I must melt away

I am. Time.


Jainy Shah | Grade 9 A Maze with No Escape My life is a maze with no escape The final destination is simply a wall behind a drape I wonder how I ended up in a deep abyss The hollow feeling I cannot dismiss I see two pathways which my conscience has unlocked But to decide, I need more time than given by the ticking clock I realize the walls around me, my trust has built I just worry one day I will fall into the traps of my own guilt My curiosity has now reached a dead end All I wish for now is to escape and live the life I intend

I live like clockworks, in an unbroken cycle The only nemesis I have is myself as a rival No one else here in this maze with me The only war is my own I have yet to set free

If I ever do reach an exit My luggage would never be able to fit Maybe the truth was yet to be unfolded Maybe it was too late to change pathways that were already moulded

Here I’ll stay for eternity I will learn to live in the absence of serenity Everyone’s life is a maze I just didn’t know mine would be this much of a haze

Isabel Snare | Grade 9 diagnosis

d i a g n o s i s the word stretches out in front of me my ears push the word through my mind like a sieve filtering out emotions and bias to leave behind only what is i try to condense the statement make it easier in some way to swallow but it doesn’t work and it travels like a nacho the sharp edges scraping my esophagus all the way down

suddenly i’m no longer confused the diagnosis has been a journey marked at first by bite-sized warnings and now it is

shrunken flattened into a


singular piece of printer paper

i hold it in my hand d i a g n o s e d am i

found is a new part of myself

or at least


i can’t decide whether i am now whole or even emptier either way i know only what is

i finally have a d i a g n o s i s

Isabel Snare | Grade 9 fans the fans cheer and chant for you, though they’ve never even met you. they clutter the stands, praising recycled words from forgotten people. they’re the most zealous disciples of a temporary forever. they are fans. you may think they are yours but they’re not, because whoever is in, is in. this cancel culture does not bode well for impersonal scum. the fans cheer and chant for you, though they’ve never been truly loyal. if they were, then they wouldn’t ebb and flow like a tide (an endeavour that unnerves you). one misstep and those fans could turn, as if born from forgotten people. they’re the most zealous disciples of a temporary forever. in the crowd they stand, never sit. they’re so dedicated and eager, however your throat is sore and your legs are tired and the encore shan’t come. the fans cheer and chant for you, though they’ve never cared about you, not really. stars don’t fall before they die, but whoever does is old news. the fans retreat as panic-stricken rabbits. to society, they succumb; forgotten people. they’re the most zealous disciples of a temporary forever. when the spotlight strikes and shines on your silly smile, whatever happened behind the scenes is disregarded. just listen to the guitar strum. the fans cheer and chant for you, but they’ve never forgotten people. they’re the most zealous disciples of a temporary forever.


Alice Song | Grade 9 Justice is Served: A Case Against Batman

There’s one thing that’s infuriating about the Batman series – the theme of unneces sary sacrifice. To adhere to his principle of not killing, Batman allows the Joker to con stantly hurt innocent people when he could have killed the villain long ago. However, the most unnecessary sacrifice in the franchise was the emergence of Batman himself. Bruce could have saved Gotham using his power and influence as an elite, but instead, he became Batman, a masked vigilante that promises justice but never quite achieves it. Consequently, the determination for altruism, a constant theme in the comics, never really pays off and only serves as fodder for a never-ending plot. Bruce Wayne should have used his status to help Gotham because it is more effective at achieving reform, it is better for Gotham’s wellbeing, and it is more legitimate in principle. It’s simply more effective to attain change within Gotham through Bruce Wayne, not Batman. Crime in general is caused by structural factors like poverty, poor education, and high unemployment, all requiring institutional change. Institutional change can only happen through wealth and power. Bruce has shown us how ridiculously rich he is: he constructed Batman’s lair, the Bat-mobile, and all of the high-tech weapons he uses. Not only does he have the money to execute any vision, as an elite, he also has social clout within the city to enact change. Bruce could also have used his status to attract the help of investigative journalists and federal government agencies to address issues within Gotham. With his money, Bruce could have prevented crime caused by poverty in future generations by building schools, investing in social programs, and erecting safer neighborhoods. In comparison, Batman does not work to cut the roots of crime in Gotham. His top priority is fighting villains, not saving innocent people or working with the law for justice. Consequently, Batman has only made a small degree of change within Gotham because he is fixing the effects and not the causes of crime. Bruce is the one who can target institutional crime, and this will always be more effec tive than targeting the criminal flare ups indicative of a broken city. Moreover, it is better for Gotham’s wellbeing for Bruce not to have become Batman. Every time Batman fights, there is collateral damage. Batman’s vigilantism means direct confrontations with criminal(s), resulting in more bullets being fired, more buildings getting blown up, and more civilians getting caught in crossfire. Even though the criminals ae stopped, because Batman fights fire with fire, he leaves behind a trail of de struction. Although Batman’s intentions are only to stop crime, his actions destabilize Gotham even more, socially and financially, because of the casualties and damage to the infrastructure. Gotham is already in a bad financial position, as reflected in the number of people committing crime, so the money required to reconstruct infrastructure will drain the resources from social programs and produce more administrative corruption. Batman is supposed to keep people safe, but his priority of neutralizing immediate threats only worsens the existing problems.

Finally, becoming Batman is principally illegitimate; vigilantism is bad because there is no due process. Batman operates in the shadows, and there is no way for the police to control him. He is beholden to nobody’s rules, only his own ethical sense. Batman’s “no killing” moral is premised upon his parents’ death and the grief he felt. Batman could have benefited more people if he had gone against his principle of “no killing” to kill the Joker and save the lives of thousands but he chose not to. Vigilantes are not like police officers and public officials, who are chosen and trained in order to execute through aggressive means. Batman was never chosen. There should be a process to determine who is a criminal and how punishment should be dealt out based on the crime—in other words, the law. Batman goes outside of the law and punishes violently based on rumors. Even if Batman doesn’t use violence in some cases, he still goes through unethical processes of breaching people’s privacy and coercion to get information. The creation of Batman is the creation of corrupt mechanisms. Ultimately, it’s clear that Bruce Wayne’s power and status as an elite would have been better at achieving change, better at benefiting Gotham, and better ethically. Batman is not the heroic vigilante the comics and movies paint him to be because of the damage he has done to Gotham and its people. Knowing this, Bruce should have used his mon ey and influence to help Gotham instead of wasting his efforts on vigilantism. Batman serves as a symbol for justice, but he only worsens the state of Gotham. Despite his heroic facade, Batman only serves as evidence that unnecessary sacrifice will never achieve justice.


Dylan Adler | Grade 10 Stars Don’t Answer Wishes When I look up at the sky, All I feel is fear. They say when there is no hope, To find comfort here. But all I see is a vast unknown, Of truths untold and a big life lived alone. Let me tell you, Of the lies they tell us,

And how we’re now all fools. If you want something done, You stand up and fight.

If you want a sword swung, You must do what is right. If frustration burns deep inside you, If exasperation holds you down, Don’t wait for the sky to deepen its blue, Or the world to burn to the ground. Love yourself not just because someone else told you to search far, Love yourself because you know who you are.

Long ago we hung mad witches, But they knew one thing we didn’t, As hot fire peeled away their skin, And freedom broke bridges.

The trick is, Stars don’t answer wishes.

Dylan Adler | Grade 10 Cinderella’s BEWARE

It was so easy. The lies spelled from red lips, the toss of meticulously curled auburn hair, a lowering of the eyes in dreadful sympathy. I had been in a pub, nursing my losses as I watched the watered-down amber swirl in the chipped, sticky glass. My daughters? Who knows where. A man slumped down at the bar two seats down, saggy face mottled red, stubble cling ing to layers of fat. His straw hat was pulled down, clothes frayed. He was rubbing his temples, eyes downcast. He stank. A farmer, possibly? From out in the country, yes. The bartender slammed down a frothing glass in front of him, next to the empty three. I watched out of the corner of my eye in disgust as he drank deeply, a dribble escaping. He breathed heavily as he clutched it to his chest. “––so terrible. She’s a wonderful wife.” The bartender nodded, shaking his head mournfully. “How much time do they say she has left?” “...Few weeks, but one look at ‘er and you know she won’t even make it another. Awful, awful thing.” “And the daughter?” “Won’t leave ‘er side. Sweet girl.” Attention piqued, I leaned forward, smiling generously as I cleared my throat. The man glanced up from his glass, shifting his bloodshot eyes toward mine. I widened my eyes slightly, hoping my makeup wasn’t ruined. “Do not tell me you are talking about––” “Lord Tremaine,” the man blubbered. And there it was. Click. A target. Sparkling, surrounded by golden lights flashing flashing.

And all I needed to do was to nock the arrow. This man hasn’t realized it, but he has set the trap.

If he had any thought for this man, he would not have told this woman––this crea ture––the name. He would have warned the man. He would’ve helped somehow. Something.

But it was too late. It was just too good.


And then––that ash-cinder-rat ruined everything. With her pretty blue eyes and glow ing hair and sweet smile and those stupid tiny feet. I was so. CLOSE. But I’ve done it before. I can do it again. Beware Cinderella. ‘Cuz your life is about to become a living hell.

For I was merciful on you. But I am Lady Tremaine. And now you shall see who I truly am.

Rachel Bernstein | Grade 10 Good Good What does that word even mean

Is it helping your neighbour with groceries Holding open a door Being kind to someone you don’t like

I think it means more

Is it stopping world hunger Ending poverty as a whole Raising money for children who can’t go to school

I don’t know if I can be that good

Is it telling a lie to spare someone’s feelings Are lies good or bad or does it depend Better to hurt with the truth I guess

But sometimes lies feel right to me

What if a lie is the nice thing to do Does that make lying okay Does that make lies good

How do I tell the good lies compared to the bad

Is good reading the right books Saying the right things


Not being too harsh on people and their actions But aren’t we supposed to judge people if they aren’t good

Is good a real thing or just something we say Because we like the sound of the word on our lips I don’t want to be good if good means lie after lie, simply following scripts

How can I know what’s good and what’s not when we can’t even decide what the word means

The thought of it constantly invading my mind I don’t know what not to do and what I should Maybe I just want someone to define the word good

I wonder how much I sacrifice for the greater good

Smile good Act good Cry good

Respond good Interact good Fake good Ignore good Challenge good Enjoy good

It’s not an option to be anything but good.

Rachel Bernstein | Grade 10 The Tortured Artist the tortured artist sits still watching the pain control them until there is nothing left inside but a small speck of hope that maybe someone will see their pain through the art they’ve destroyed themselves to create that we will see all that they’ve suffered through to get here but instead, all we see is a work of art a painted canvas a priceless piece a thing of beauty

the artist is more famous after their death because art stands the test of time like no human can

but maybe we’ve had it wrong all this time

we’ve misunderstood because maybe the tortured artist was never tortured by their pain at all but was tortured by the very art they created


maybe the artist cannot die until they know they’ve made something worthwhile enough to last long after they’ve passed into another world as a society, we romanticize the tortured artist we watch from afar as the poet starves we think to ourselves ‘I wish I was that creative’ we always forget how the poet’s story ends

Morayo Osibajo | Grade 10 What is Considered Living? If not crying over the ending of your favourite show If not drinking a warm cup of chamomile tea with mom on Sunday evening If not arguing with her the next day If not standing outside in the cold waiting for the next bus If not stressing over that last-minute assignment If not feeling giddy over a new crush If not getting loose on the dance floor to Hey Ya by OutKast If not saying hello to people as they pass by in the hallway, no matter how awkward If not hugging your best friend for what feels like the last time If not staying up ‘til 3 am staring at the ceiling while daydreaming of an ideal life If not being annoyed at your hair because it won’t stay in place If not scrolling through your Spotify playlist trying to find the right song before you study If not panicking about losing your keys, when they are right in front of you

If not trying to fit in and find your place in the world If not trying to stand out and create more space If not being kind to others, yourself If not feeling your emotions deeply If not protecting Mother Earth If not standing up against the injustices of all people If not acting selfless If not making mistakes If not learning how to love

If not learning how to care for others If not learning more about who you are

If not preparing for the future If not reminiscing over the past If not holding on to the present, knowing that it will soon slip away If not questioning what it means to be alive


Angelina Tseng | Grade 10 Cineres Memoriae

Dūdum per viās Pompēiōrum ambulāvī, Cīvitās iūxtā Vēsuvīī dēclīvitātem sita. Oppidum fervēbat lūminibus vīvācibus. Negōtia strepitūque hominum vigēbant, Sed nātūrae signa formidine affectī sumus. Dūdum per viās Pompēiōrum ambulāvī. Terrae mōtūs sēnsū crēscente trepidāvimus, Spē repressā, animī nōstrī hebetēs factī sunt. Oppidum fervēbat lūminibus vīvācibus. Cinērēs stillantēs faciem mōerōre replēvērunt, Vitae cursūm mūtātum irrevocābiliter sentiēbam. Dūdum per viās Pompēiōrum ambulāvī. Tenebrae mundum circumdederunt, Vocēs nostrae cineris humōre oppressae sunt. Oppidum fervēbat lūminibus vīvācibus.

Memorīa saepe dubia fluctuat, Sed illīus diēī eventūs semper retineō. Dūdum per viās Pompēiōrum ambulāvī, Oppidum fervēbat lūminibus vīvācibus.

I walked the streets of Pompeii long ago, A city nestled near Vesuvius’ slope. The town was teeming with a vibrant glow.

The bustling shops and busy crowds aglow, But warning signs from nature we did mope. I walked the streets of Pompeii long ago. The earth shook as I felt the tremors grow, Our spirits dampened with a sense of hope. The town was teeming with a vibrant glow. As ash rained down, our faces filled with woe, I knew that life would never be the same scope. I walked the streets of Pompeii long ago. The world around us turned to a dark tableau, Our voices muffled by the ash’s dope. The town was teeming with a vibrant glow. As time has passed, the memories ebb and flow, But still I recall that fateful day’s scope. I walked the streets of Pompeii long ago, The town was teeming with a vibrant glow.


Juliane Guo | Grade 11 The True Value of Art

“The world, it wrecked me and built me.” This was the catchphrase of Maxwell, the young artist who died an untimely death. At least it was so according to his friend Billy Graham who showed up at my doorstep early in the blue morning, teary-eyed like a puppy. “Quinn! Long time, no see.” He greeted me with a weak smile, perfect for the chilly November weather. It sure had been a long time. The last time I checked he was graduating as a Drama major, and now he’s an auctioneer. I sipped my morning coffee. “Everything okay?” Billy and I were friends in high school and college, but we haven’t contacted each other for years. “I don’t remember owing you money.”

“Yeah, it’s just, uh-” He fidgeted with his jacket zipper, “my friend passed away. Jonathan Maxwell, the artist. You’ve seen him before, right?”

I nodded. “The one with the rich dad. I’m deeply sorry for your loss, Billy.”

He sniffled. “No, it’s fine… It’s just that Jon never got any attention for his works. He’s such a great artist, you know? His family never supported him, and his only wish was to get noticed… to let the world understand the true value of his art. You work at The Lumination, right? Famous magazine, many readers…”

I interrupted him. “So, you want me, me, to write an article about Maxwell, for the sake of his popularity?”

“You’re an excellent writer, Quinn, the best I’ve ever encountered,” said Billy as he pointed at a large paper bag he was carrying, “I have some of his artworks here, old photos, everything you might need. So please, do me this favor.” I sighed and yielded to his request. “Listen, my boss likes me, but I’ll still have to beg

him for his interest in this story. I’ll do what I can do.”

His face lit up. “Oh, Quinn—”

“But,” I grinned, shutting him up at the right time, “if I really manage to pull it off, I’m asking for three of Maxwell’s paintings.”


Three days later, I sat down with Billy at my living room table, with piles of artwork, family photographs, bank account balances, and emails scattered everywhere. “Where did you get all of this?”

“Jon left me his personal belongings,” said Billy. “By the way, how did you convince your boss?”

I stared at him in the eye. “Cost me two Maxwell paintings for the magazine.”

“Great,” he said, “Now let’s get to it.”

We flipped through everything. After days of hard work, the story of a young, doomed artist emerged from the pile of chaos—and of course, from his adequately talented paintings. “This one.” I tapped on a chunk of art. Dark blue and eerie gray brushstrokes filled the canvas, centered with the silhouette of a child. “It’s supposed to convey his unhappy childhood, which connects with the neglect he experienced?”

“Shadows of the Blues, yes.” Billy grabbed my hand and removed it from the painting. “And be careful with the art. It’s priceless.”

I shrugged. “Sure, whatever you say. But we need more than a so-called ‘sad’ story of a privileged artistic boy being forced into economic difficulty. We need something that


takes readers into the fascinating and horrid world of the super-rich while we present a sympathetic, genuine person.”

Billy stretched. “So what else do you need?”

“Whatever you have.”

The next day, I found Billy standing outside my tiny apartment with approximately fifteen other people who he claimed were Maxwell’s friends and associates. “Good enough?”

My jaw dropped. “Next time, pick somewhere bigger.”

I interviewed the crowd one at a time. They talked about vastly different encounters they had with Maxwell, crying and laughing at the perfect times. But their answers portrayed the same person, and without exception, everyone regarded the artist highly. “He was kind, sweet, with a tint of sadness in him, man of my dreams.” “Art was all he had, everything that kept him going!” “I’ve never seen a more dedicated and exception al student than Jon. Truly a pity that he…”

“Thank you so much for coming,” I said, shaking hands after hands. “My deepest condolences.”

“We’re having an exhibition for Jon starting next week,” said Billy, crossing his arms in content. “I’m also hosting an auction soon, starring his paintings. You should come.”

“I’ll put that in the article,” I said. “Just sell the paintings at a good price. I’ll get fired if the story doesn’t blow up.”

And, thank goodness, it did. Overnight, Jonathan Maxwell was everywhere. Newspa pers, TV channels - he was a rising star. Billy’s art exhibition oversold its tickets, and the auction profited a whopping $120 million. The Maxwell family sought new busi ness connections. The Lumination got funded millions through the paintings. Billy re-started his acting career using his fame, and me, newly-made millionaire Quinn Zimmerman, got a raise. Everything unfolded perfectly, until I received a call from Maxwell’s father.

“To this point I couldn’t be more proud of my son Jon’s achievements,” said the old man on the phone, “but one thing I think you should know is, Jon was never dead.”

I spat out my coffee. Then I found myself screaming and dialing Billy’s number.

“Quinn! Short time, no see. I’m at a party on this private island with some actor friends. You should come.” I heard him pop a bottle of champagne.

I growled. “I suppose that includes Maxwell’s ex-girlfriend Jane, his professor Dr. Davis, or even himself?”

“Jon says thank you,” Billy laughed hysterically as he gulped down the champagne. “I’ll leave it to you.” He passed the phone to someone else.

“Hello, Quinn.” It’s the first time I’d heard Jon’s voice. Composed, calm, he was really the same Jon in my article.

“Good for you, you smart bastard.” I chuckled.

“Thank you,” he said. “Money, fame… In the end, we all got what we wanted.”

“The true value of your art,” I muttered.

He laughed. “Look forward to seeing you.”


Riya Savundranayagam | Grade 11 Concussions

I sat in the plastic chair, alone, the empty gray lockers no one uses staring at me. My fencing helmet sat by my side. How I wished I had it on. And I thought, I thought about ignoring the pain gathering in a halo around my head. If I pretend it doesn’t exist, it’s not real, is it? I could continue on with my life and blame the headaches on the weath er, or the coffee, or the hours of sleep I got last night. I thought about going back out there and pretending this didn’t happen. It did. Like it did the first time, three years ago. One year ago. Today. A never-ending cycle. Someone throws a ball, it hits my head, repeat. Should I confront them? Do I inform them of how dangerous that could be, and prevent more mistakes in the future? They should know better, and if not, I don’t want to be the one who makes them feel bad and bring more attention to myself. We see football players get hit again and again. We see them be out of the game for months. People know, but they don’t know enough. It’s a cycle, and I kept it that way. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t try to break it. Maybe next time.

Riya Savundranayagam | Grade 11 Bittersweet memories first heard your sound didn’t know I’d fall in love for forever I drowned and then you pulled me above we ruled like mary and that english king my reluctant bride to your corrupted pride

bittersweet memories you could be anything you wanted to be

when may came ‘round I wished it was january snow on the ground I thought it’d be ordinary now I wish more than anything to go back to may this time I’d make you stay bittersweet memories I could be everything I didn’t want to be I don’t know what I’m doing wrong these memories


keep me up all night long I know that in my mind I’ve made it seem so much better but still I’ll be blind write myself a pretty letter

with bittersweet memories to remind future me of what we could’ve been

Zhifan Ye | Grade 11 Can Existentialists Answer the Question of Whether Human Beings are Free or Not? Freedom has been a topic of serious discussion throughout history. Social is sues and civil rights have always been discussed in presidential debates and day-to-day conversations. Indeed, freedom is essential as it allows exchange of ideas and change in society. Dating back to the 19th century, Søren Kierkegaard started the existentialism movement by insisting on the irreducibility of the subjective dimension of human life (Honderich). As the first existentialist, he planted the philosophical seed that was later watered, nourished, and weeded by other philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir. These three authors wrote texts with a central theme of freedom that relates to the branch of philosophy called metaphysics, with “meta” meaning beyond in Greek etymology. In other words, it is the study of existence, consciousness, identity, as well as the relationship between mind and matter. It is then rightful to infer that freedom has a mutually-influential relationship with our everyday decisions, actions, and beliefs. As human beings, we are very capable and powerful in the process of inquiry, reflection, and advancement. However, is what we have seen so far our true potential or rather is it a tiny percentage of it that can be improved? The examination of freedom will do no harm to us, but might open the door to the discovery of controllable truths as well as the expansion of choices. This essay will explore Sartre’s Existentialism Is a Humanism (originally a speech), Camus’s The Rebel, and Beauvoir’s A Very Easy Death. Freedom is the most prominent theme throughout Jean-Paul Sartre’s Exis tentialism Is a Humanism. His proposition “existence precedes essence” (Sartre 22) stresses the significance of humanism, namely man and his powers, status, achieve ments, and authority. As a hard self-determinist, he suggests that every choice is in each individual’s control, without influence from anything around that individual. This characteristic of humans is what separates them from other beings. Speaking of beings, most people would say that the word means “living organ isms.” This is not true according to Sartre because ‘beings’ also include lifeless objects. But since “existence precedes essence” is solely applicable to human beings, the ques tion arises: Are Sartre’s principles applicable to animals? They seem to be breathing, eating, and sleeping beings just like humans. What makes humans supreme compared to animals? In his speech, the only aspect Sartre mentioned about animals is that they seem not to consider themselves responsible for, nor honored by, what other members of their community have done (52). Accordingly, the amount of one’s responsibility classifies what type of being they are. For most adults, because their existence comes before essence, they are the ones who make their own decisions, which indicates that they must be responsible for their existence. Toddlers on the other hand, know nothing about life’s purpose.


Their control over themselves is handicapped for a period of time, during which they discover the world out there and their own selves. Sartre is rather an intelligent speak er, referring to decision-making animals as “men,” as only adults have the ability to determine who they want to be. But the usage of the word “men” also creates another problem. What about all the women out there? Did Sartre suggest that the capability to be free can only be the province of men? At this moment in time, the author is very likely to be labeled as ‘sexist’ by the audience. Nonetheless, one possible justification for the word is that the ideal characteristics of a person, such as capability, rationality, morality, and self-awareness, are quite apparent in masculine beings. Particularly since males have been dominating history for thousands of years, everyone was focusing more on men compared to women. Although Sartre’s expression of “men” seems to exclude half of the human population, the traits associated with the term can apply to all human beings. An example of which can be found in Simone de Beauvoir’s memoir A Very Easy Death (Une mort très douce), which keeps record of her mother’s monthly progress of fighting cancer and eventual death. The author was also an existentialist, in particular Sartre’s lifelong companion, who consulted Sartre multiple times during this exhausting period of her life. This book exhibits numerous factors limiting or encour aging one’s extent of freedom, particularly one’s family and mindset. Simone de Beauvoir’s “Maman,” Françoise Brasseur de Beauvoir, is someone with a strong passion for life, adventure, as well as control. When the mother first saw herself in a mirror after a few weeks under medical treatment, she could not believe how pale and grey her face was. In the afternoon of the same day, “... she was not smiling any more. Several times she repeated, in a surprised and blaming voice, ‘When I saw myself in the mirror, I thought I was so ugly!’” (Beauvoir 56). Having grown up in a bourgeois family and having married a middle-class husband, Mrs. Beauvoir has craved attention and emotional support throughout her life. Over the years she developed into a lovelust personality, which shaped her into a prohibitive mother for Simone and her sister, Poupette. Moreover, the author’s father was the sole breadwinner in the fam ily and had a dominant say on how to spend his money. As a result, Simone de Beauvoir most likely was unable to purchase dresses she loved, or books she indulged in. Under the influence of her parents, the writer’s freedom has definitely been restricted, but to what extent do familial relationships influence one’s views about free dom? For Simone de Beauvoir to physically come out of her mother’s confinement, not much effort or wrangle was required. However, the lack of freedom from an early age had boosted the need for liberty inside Beauvoir’s mind. Though this effect does not apply the same way for everyone: some people may remain in a sickly manner, thinking back to the heartbreaking times they had while they were younger. Others become hardcore freedom seekers who are on their way to become authoritarians, influencing an abundance of other individuals and creating a cycle of negative impacts. Being a dic tator does not come easily, therefore most people reside in the stage of change-making. What are the changemakers’ names, one asks? Well, they must be considered “rebels.”

Albert Camus, an eminent existentialist, expressed essential opinions about freedom in his book The Rebel. Originally published in 1951, he describes the meta physical development of rebellions and its indispensable character throughout the shaping of history. An interesting fact is that most acts of rebellion started with either the denial of history or transcendent values imposed upon citizens by materialists, or people with a great possession of wealth and an unmeasurable desire to control. “[The materialists’] reign is cruel, but they excuse their cruelty, like the Satan of the roman tics, by claiming that it is hard for them to bear. ‘We reserve desire and suffering for ourselves, for the slaves there is Chigalevism’” (Camus 175-176). Chigalevism is the doctrine that people must be enslaved for positive out comes (Ramadan 60). The tyrants have believed, do believe, and will always believe that every harm in this world is legitimate since there will always be good things that come as a result of destructive events, even if they are the only ones reaping all the benefits. This is when a rebel comes into play. They do not need to suffer from the materialists’ influence, but can simply identify with another oppressed individual while asserting themselves for the sake of everyone involved (16). This feeling of compassion truly subjectivizes the idea of freedom, which is an argument that contradicts that of numerous past philosophers who debated about the subjectivity of freedom, the most prominent among which being Plato. In his work The Republic, he stated that “... human beings are invariably caught in a struggle between rationality and the wish to fulfil their desires” (Hansen 7). He sees humans as creatures with endless cravings, but there is a permanent boundary between what is acceptable and what is forbidden according to the law. Accordingly, the extent to which an individual is subjectively free truly depends on their political and social environment, and that one can never have absolute freedom. To sum up, Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir all imply that freedom is a subjec tive matter. Since we cannot control what happens in the future, we shall savour the present to the fullest extent. In order to do this, we should take responsibility for our actions and associated consequences. Though some humans would always seek control over their life and others, so their quest for total freedom — driven by much ambition and greed — will never come to a stop. But as the Grand Inquisitors say, “... martyrdom consists of consenting to inflict suffering on others; they become the slaves of their own domination. For man to become god, the victim must bow down before the execu tioner. That is why both victim and executioner are equally despairing. Neither slavery nor power will any longer coincide with happiness. The masters will be morose and the slaves sullen” (Camus 175-176.


Works Cited Beauvoir, Simone de. A Very Easy Death. Translated by Patrick O’Brian, Pantheon Books, 1985. Camus, Albert. The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt. Translated by Alfred A. Knopf, 1 ed., First Vintage International Vintage Books, 1956. Hansen, Mogens H. “Democratic Freedom and the Concept of Freedom in Plato and Aristotle.” Studies, vol. 50, 2010, pp. 1–27, File/13041/2081. Honderich, Ted, editor. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. 2nd ed., Oxford Uni versity Press, 2005. Plato. The Republic and Other Works. Translated by Benjamin Jowett, Anchor Books, 1973. Ramadan, Tariq. The Quest for Meaning: Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism. Pen guin Books, 2010. Meaning/The%20Quest%20For%20Meaning%20-%20Tariq%20Ramadan.pdf. Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism Is a Humanism. Translated by Carol Macomber, Yale University Press, 2007.

Sofia Alhussan | Grade 12 Sonder When,

When did my sonder turn into anxiousness

When I used to wonder about the how many tears The bags under the older womans eyes carried How many smiles had she smiled to provide her with the lines framing her mouth How many times her forehead lines were caused by her squirmy unruly child How many times the Small ears of her child heard the words I love YOU How many times did she mean it. The walking man appeared and the light turned green, it’s my turn to cross try to avoid eye contact.


Hayden Blakely | Grade 12 Growing up is complicated

Growing up is complicated. I’m months away from everything in my life ending and the next chapter of my life beginning. No home-cooked meals every night, no dog sleeping at the end of my bed, no teacher who has known me since I was twelve, no more of the familiar. Soon it will be crappy dining hall food, nights alone in my dorm, and 200-student lectures. New faces, new school, a new stage of my life. For seventeen years the only thing I had to worry about was being a kid, but now my future is ahead of me. I find myself closing my eyes and holding onto that comfort, trying my best not to let it be real, but it will happen whether I want it to or not. In the blink of an eye, scraped knees and playground swings turned into heartbreak and car rides. The weekends stopped being 48-hour sleepovers and Disney marathons and turned into 6-hour homework sessions and going out to parties. How did it all happen so fast? Where did all the comfort and innocence go? Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but sometimes I can’t help but think that little girl with her blonde pigtails and pink sundress is now a woman who is going into the world all alone and she doesn’t feel ready.

Anonymous Like an Otter

I have the unrelenting urge to say something—anything—around people I don’t know well. In my head, awkwardness grows thicker with every unspoken second passing.

Not with Liz*, though. Neither of us is particularly extroverted, though she hides it much better. Before she became my friend and when she was just another classmate, I thought she was this outgoing, talkative person. She was someone I had the urge to say anything around to avoid silence. I think she felt that too. Eventually, we became closer. Close enough to easily exist in each other’s company without always speaking. Sometimes, Liz scrolls through some form of social media on her phone while I sit next to her and digest her screen. Neither of us speaks, yet no awkwardness grows. These aren’t exactly my most treasured moments with her, but they’re certainly a few of the most peaceful ones. In a way, the near-mindlessness of the activity makes it comforting. During one of these sessions, she came across a post of an otter. She tilted her head to look at me and said, “You remind me of an otter.” She didn’t give any reason and didn’t want to when I pushed for one.

I wonder what it is about me.

* For as long as I’ve been swamped with activities, I have been able to tell people

that I’m tired with no questions asked.

I had no reason to explain why I was taking a nap after school despite already

falling asleep in class.

I had no reason to tell anyone that during the summer when I could sleep in,

I’d still take naps in the middle of the day.

I had no reason to be sleeping so much.

Well, no reason except one. It was less of a reason than it was a problem—a disorder. It was one that made

me feel like I was drowning in the most soundless way possible.


I told some of my friends about my problem, but always vaguely. I didn’t relish

in divulging the details. I had my reasons for doing so: I didn’t want my friends to worry.

I didn’t want to re-experience my lowest moments. I wanted to keep sinking.

Ultimately, the disorder overtakes the “just tired” excuse, and it can no longer be hidden. I wasn’t ready for that to happen yet, though. I was going to be tired for as long as I could. * Otters can stay underwater for eight minutes, which is longer than most land animals. They can close their nostrils and ears to keep out water, which must help with their capacity to stay under the surface for so long. I don’t think they’d be able to if their nostrils and ears lacked the ability. * I left yet another class oddly muted and unenthusiastic. Liz walked next to me, neither of us speaking. This time, there was nothing comforting about the silence. An ugly truth took over me as I searched for something to say. I realized that the distance I felt between us was far greater than any silence. I exhaled, trying to push out the arising heavy emotions, but I broke down in tears at once. Liz handled it well. “Come on, let’s go,” she said quietly while guiding me to an empty room. I hung my head low, desperate to avoid eye contact with anyone we passed. I sat down once she closed the door, pulling my knees close to me as I contin ued to sob. Liz paced in front of me, seemingly nervous. After my tears ceased enough for me to speak, she made me tell her everything. For the first time, I did so willingly. I thought the hardest part would be admitting that part of the reason I didn’t seek help was that I didn’t want to get better, but I was wrong. More than anything, the hardest part was seeing Liz’s face as I told her. As it turns out, she saw past the “just tired” excuse. She didn’t know what to do, but she told me that I had to get better not just for myself, but for other people. Whatever tears I still had left in me were cried out after her words, but I was okay. At least, I was going to be.

I nodded at Liz, and neither of us spoke. The silence above the water was comfortable. * This claim that I am otter-like has not stopped; Liz still sends me posts of otters. She probably smiles to herself when she does. Honestly, I think they’re more for her than for me, but I don’t mind.

I seriously doubt she knows anything about otters. No more than me, at least. As it stands, she has yet to find a real reason why I remind her of one. However, I see that otters bring her a certain kind of happiness. I hope I do as well.


Katelyn Cai | Grade 12 Narcissus But is it such a terrible thing?

I thought that we were all beautiful, that self-love was praised.

Narcissus was a man, a beautiful one at that.

Was he wrong to admire himself, to gaze upon his reflection until his death?

I thought that we were all worthy of being loved, that we deserved to be loved

if not by someone else, why not ourselves?

His pool was already full, and he was enough for himself.

Amelia Campbell | Grade 12 The Best of Friends “Paige?” She looks up from her book. Her brown glasses are at the tip of her nose like they always are. “Wait. Let me just finish this paragraph,” she mutters, still looking down. I don’t reply, not wanting to disrupt her focus again. I look through the window behind her and silently watch the snow trickle down. I love the winter. Paige hates it. “What’s up?” she says, placing the book in her lap. I watch her grab a pillow from my bed and then lean against the window behind her. Although she hates the cold, the snowy white background makes her olive-green eyes pop. Her eyes are so pretty. “Do you think we will still be friends next year?” I ask softly. As soon as the words come out, I realize how desperate I sound. She laughs for a second and then continues, “Are you serious?” “Yes, I mean we are going to be at different schools in different cities in completely different countries. How will we even see each other?” There is a worried note in my voice that she picks up on. “Oh, my goodness,” she says as she shakes her head. Her hand reaches over to touch my leg. I usually hate any emotional, sappy, physical contact, but with Paige, it’s different. She looks into my eyes and smiles sympathetically before saying, “Remember in grade 5 when I had to spend the whole summer at my grandparents? We only saw each other once that whole summer. You were busy at camp, and I was stuck in Florida. But as soon as we saw each other the first day of school, it was like I never left.” I pause to think about that year. I know she is trying to comfort me, but that summer sucked. I hated that stupid horse camp and I missed seeing her every day. Plus, she came home with a boyfriend and told me her first kiss story about a thousand times. “Although we may not see each other every day, when we finally do,” Paige continues, “it will be the same as ever. And then it will make hanging out that much better.” I guess she has a point. When I saw her the first time after she came back, things did feel different. She had freckles covering her little nose, and her blonde hair was the perfect length to bounce every time she took a step. She was beautiful. She is beautiful. I look over at her with a forced smile and respond, “Yeah, I guess you are right.”


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