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A New Beginning 



There was a tinge of honeysuckle in the late-summer air, and although the sun still warmed her rosy cheeks, Camila could almost taste the chilly fall weather approaching. As a September breeze cooled her down, Camila wiped a strand of golden-blonde hair from her face. It was finally the day she was dreading the most all year, her first day of Middle School. She came from a small, homey town in Connecticut and moved to Boston, Massachusetts for her mom’s work. Living in the city was new to her. The honking cars, the bustle of people down the street trying to get to work on time, the tall encroaching buildings. She looked down as she walked on the sidewalk, dragging her new Nike sneakers behind, her bulky backpack weighing her down. She always used to get excited for her first days of school, looking forward to catching up with her friends, but this time she didn't know anybody. Thoughts jumbled in her head as the anxiety increased with each step she took, and when she finally looked up, she found her new school hovering over her. She took a deep breath and mustered up the courage to walk through the tall wooden doors, and there she was, strolling mindlessly to the class with the big sign that read “Class 6A” in bright blue letters. She took her seat at the farthest desk near the corner and fetched her notebooks along with freshly sharpened pencils from her backpack, watching as the other students settled themselves down. A knot tied in her stomach as she anticipated for the class to start. She seemed to be unnoticed, as other than a few occasional glances, nobody recognized her presence. After her new teacher introduced herself, writing her name in cursive on the chalkboard, she passed down an introductory work-sheet to her students to evaluate the class’s level in  certain materials. As Camila’s eyes darted around the room, she found a boy flummoxed by the long division equation on question three, and right diagonal to him was another student who seemed to be completing the assignment with ease. However, Camila continuously gazed at a timid-looking girl across the room from her, adorning a lackadaisical stare as she dozed off by the window, the sun leaving a soft luminating glow on her face. Her assignment was left untouched. Camila noticed her when she first entered the room, she was wearing coral-pink converse and a floral top, her hair neatly combed into a braid. Like Camila, she immediately sat at an empty desk, she did not excitedly rush to talk to friends about her outings over summer break. Camila wished she could bring herself to gather up the strength to go talk to her, but she just couldn’t do it. When the girl finally spotted Camila watching her, she flashed her a nice, shy smile. 

Finally, the long-awaited bell eventually rang, signaling it was time for her next class. Camila gathered up her stuff to head out of the classroom, but before she could walk through the door, the girl she was observing tapped her on the shoulder. Her name was Sofia, she too was a new student. She grinned when she asked Camila if she would like to eat lunch with her later that day. Suddenly, this new school didn't seem to be as bad as Camila thought it would be.

-Winner of the 2024 Winter Writing Contest 

Fading Flag 

Dante Rosa de Jong

the principal, with a voice

flat as sidewalk pavement

recites the pledge of allegiance

to a flag that hangs from the back wall

maroon, light grey, and whatever hue 

the sky is, at the end of a dreary day

most don’t stand up anymore,

not since we learned we didn’t have to—

a right the constitution affords 

this class of silent cynics


a few students still stand 

the sound of scraping chairs

is the only noise in our homeroom

as they turn to face that faded flag

hands to their hearts, eyes trained

how do they believe in one nation

under god, indivisible? do they see 

a different flag? are those colors 

brighter? does it matter that red 

reminds of bloodshed, white

of the privilege taken for granted,

and blue, of a nation in sorrow? 


the intercom crackles as the pledge ends

leaving us split between silence and allegiance, 

with the flag, just hanging in there.



Sofia Doyle 

I have memories as a kid of shopping at thrift stores, watching my mother flip through racks of discounted clothing to put in our new American closets. I’m forever grateful to be much more privileged now, never having to step into a Goodwill store again. But after thrifting got popular, I hopped on the trend searching for vintage items and unique finds. I quickly found my likings and found every chance I could to thrift. Eventually, my taste changed and I now skip past 10 pairs of 2000s bootcut jeans I used to wear every day in the morning and reach for brand new leggings or sweats. Although I discourage myself from stepping out of my new comfort zone and put on my late favorite finds, I have fond memories of thrift stores always. Something about searching for something more among the racks, trying to strike gold amongst duds. Trying to survive the fitting room after a large iced coffee. Refraining a sneeze from dust particles floating through the air.  Looking through items that somebody once cherished, almost feeling as good as finding something you’ll cherish too. The cycle moves, someday I’ll donate my clothes I’ve outgrown too, hoping the person who comes across my old possessions loves it as much as I did. Nothing beats giving and getting back. 

-Runner up of the 2024 Winter Writing Contest!


Eda Galvez

Eighteen-year-old Dylan Mills is from Castleton, the rich town that churns out “it-school”-worthy students each year. However, Dylan doesn’t find himself at an it-school like his girlfriend, Rosemary Silversmith, does. Instead, he winds up at North South, the college that’s frowned upon in his hometown. It’s also notoriously dubbed Party School. “Party School,” a 2022 debut novel written by Jon Hart, puts an interesting perspective on growing up, accepting change, and everything college-related.
When Dylan first arrives at his new school, he
has multiple things fueling his sour mood. He isn’t satisfied with his relationship with his girlfriend, Rosemary, which is currently on a “no contact” break. At the same time, his divorced parents are acting closer than ever, which is confusing him. Dylan quickly befriends Wally, a freshman who helps Dylan through the ropes of North South. Dylan soon encounters his first taste of the infamous North South party life itself, where drugs and alcohol are favored. Besides the underground motorcycle gang that throws ragers and the dorm dubbed ‘420’ for its smokers and music-playing, North South has good professors, whom Dylan slowly grows fond of. Berkowitz, a sociology professor, turns out to be an important character in the plot, often steering Dylan’s decisions and offering guidance.
Now, I found myself at first confused by Jon Hart’s “Party School,” due to the fact that I couldn’t wrap my head around the backstory. What was the reason for Dylan’s parents’ situation? I also felt like I needed to know more about Dylan and Rosemary. I knew that Dylan was obsessed with her, but why? The plot could’ve used more introduction to our protagonist. These points could possibly be connected to Hart’s simplistic writing style; sometimes, I felt the writing lacked detail. However, this kind of writing style can also be a plus, and ultimately I grew fond of Hart’s simple descriptions. A main characteristic of Hart’s style is the dead-panned comedy, which fits seamlessly into his characters. Another thing I appreciated about “Party School” was its characters themselves; I liked how Dylan Mills wasn’t written to be your cliche “nerd” or “loner,” but more realistic. The sociology professor, Berkowitz, also had a realistic and unique character make-up that made me excited at his dialogue. His motto, that frequently occurs throughout the novel, is, “Don’t be sorry. Make it better!”
Overall, I enjoyed the messages conveyed through this book. I admire Hart’s stance against the idea that prestigious schools are the best option for a recently graduated student--if anything, they can be incredibly expensive and oftentimes valued only for their name. Equally, I agree that change is natural and can greet us with new opportunities, a message given through Dylan’s relationship with Rosemary.
All in all, “Party School” by Jon Hart puts a thoughtful but also comedic take on college--a fast-paced, must-read for those with plans of college in their future. As a high school student in a town not unlike Dylan's, Jon Hart’s debut novel provided me with a breath of fresh air.

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