The Secret Life of a Cheerleader

A work of fiction by Fatima Martinez

Everyone wants the cheerleaders to sit at their table during lunch, but I mean come on we only sit with  the cool people. We don’t want to be seen as the people who sit with whoever during lunch, that’s just morally wrong. “You can’t sit with us,” unless of course you’re part of the cheerleading team, a dancer or a jock. Party invites just won’t stop, “we could use some entertainment,” ending it with a wink, oh yeah it’s going down tonight. Every party needs a cheerleader to pep it up, if you know what I mean. No Latinas allowed here, if you have blond hair, or a brunette and you have white skin and blue or green eyes, you’re immediately accepted into the team. Spandex, sports bras, $200 shoes, shape up our practice, bringing home 1st place every year, or at least buying a trophy to look like we’re not a waste of money. We’re the cool, popular ones, everyone calls us snobby but those are the people who can’t sit with us at lunch, those are the people who are jealous that we get to wear our team uniforms to school every day. Shorter as the days go by of course, we don’t want the jocks to get tired of us and forget what we got, don’t mess with us.

Haha, scratch that everything I just said is just what cheerleaders are stereotyped for, it was all a lie, that’s just what the media portrays. At least at Bullworth Academy, the cheerleaders are nothing here, they don’t care about us. You looking for the hot girls who will hook up with you? Oops, wrong side of the school. Boys spying into our practice to see us in spandex, ha, yeah right. The girls who wear spandex during practice are the volleyball players. In fact our practices consist of big, bulky sweatpants, over-sized shirts full of sweat and let’s not forget the body odor that we leave behind. Talking about practice, those are always fun, especially when 3 girl’s menstrual cycle land on the same week, woo don’t want to miss that week of practice. The first practices, or “camp” as we like to call it brings out a lot of veteran cheerleaders or at least cheerleaders who have been doing it since they were in 5th grade. The veteran cheerleaders give you that, who are you and what are you doing here face as soon as you step foot into the gym, always super welcoming. You would expect girls to later on in the year to get along but that never happens, girls on the team just turn into bigger hypocrites as the season goes on, some not all. The ones who are the bigger hypocrites usually quit, in the middle of football season, so no problem there. The problem is after practice, some girls pretend like they don’t know each other. Arabella, the twins Aulani, Aolani, Sadie, Melody, Aurora, Hope, Christelle, Heart, Fernanda, Celeste, Shelly, Erica, Gabie, who are they after practice?

Our rival team, Prince Academy, is one of the only things that can allow the team to bond. Except for team dinner cause duh free food. Let me tell you about them, they are ridiculous, it’s kind of embarrassing to even have them as rivals because they’re like no competition to us. I’m not saying we’re great and all but we’ve been to their games and they do the same 4 cheers, and it’s not like 4 games in the whole game. No, I think that the crowd wishes that it was like that but nope, it’s do a cheer per 20 seconds until the crowd finds them so annoying and has pity towards them that they actually join them, hoping of course that it will mean that they will stop cheering soon. I don’t think that there original, they’re just Bullworth crazy fanatics, they steal everything from us, and I’m not even exaggerating. Our school colors are red and black and our uniform just so happens to consist of that right? In the center of one of our uniforms it says Bullworth and then a hand stitched, customized, bull right by it, we thought it was the coolest thing ever and we wore it each time that we would have a game against them. 2 weeks into the new season, they get a uniform exactly like ours, just that there’s has “royal blue” and gold, and has the word Prince in the center of the uniform, and when we went to go see their games they brought those uniforms out. Like are you serious? I remember in one game my team was cheering and one of the cheerleaders showed up to our game, it wasn’t even against them it was against Florges High. Anyways, so while we were cheering they were taking notes on our cheers, and trust me they have taken like 20 of our cheers but can’t use any of them because they end up forgetting them in a matter of seconds. They have the attention span of a goldfish and the memory of Dory from Finding Nemo.

We were 2 weeks from state, which was on February 7, we had just returned from regionals at Queens and had gotten 3rd place, we were proud but we knew we could have done better. Anyways, we all knew that the next 2 weeks of practice were going to be tough and tiring. We had to try out for state because the coach only wanted the ones who were competitive enough and actually wanted to do better at state. Hope, Christelle and Fernanda were the only ones to not make it on the team, they were our alternates. The coach never mentioned it, but she usually picked the weak ones to have alternates, meaning they were very close to not making it on the team. I was one of the girls who had an alternate, Melanie Del Rosario had an alternate for dance, how pathetic, I had Fernanda as an alternate, she was good, the only reason she didn’t make it on the team was because her left leg kicks were below her waist. Any day she could have replaced me, but she didn’t. There would be days in practice where we had to perform solos of the state routine, you know just to make sure you knew your part. It’s probably the most nerve racking thing a girl can do, the door to the gym would be completely open so anybody who passed by could see you performing alone. It was awkward to be up there by myself, all I could hear was “Melanie smile,” “Melanie look up” like stop talking. Then your alternate would give you comments on the performance and then the coach would follow up with any comments. It got me mad, like why are you judging me I’m the one who made it on the state team. Sometimes girls who messed up every little part of the performance made it on the team like how? Seriously on the videos you could see them constantly messing up or have no rhythm whatsoever, maybe the coach felt bad for them. The day before state we practiced for 2 hours and had to bring our uniforms, shoes and snacks for the team. Ha, I didn’t bring anything, I think 20 boxes of food is good enough to feed 15 girls on a 3 hour bus ride. Getting to state was absolutely nerve racking, the stadium was completely packed, and I had the most difficult time trying to find seats for the team. Since I’m tiny I was able to get around faster and find some seats, then when I did I could call one of them and tell them where I was, cause teamwork. We didn’t compete until Saturday and we got there Friday morning to watch Sypris High perform in the Jazz division, Sypris was a rich boarding school that neighbored us, we weren’t exactly friends but we danced with them so whatever. My best guy friend danced with them, Frankie Rios, he was a hunk. As soon as they finished performing we drove into our hotels, we all had a room with 3 girls in it. I had Arabella and Christelle in my room, super fun, I got my own bed. We got to the hotel and got to shop for like 1 hour and a half and then had to go get ready for dinner. Dinner wasn’t that far away from the hotel, and it’s not like we were going to a fancy restaurant so why would I dress up a lot. After everyone in my room got ready we all went to the lobby and I noticed everybody was wearing heels and I was the only one who was wearing flats…great.

The day of state finally had arrived and we had to wake up at 4 in the morning to get ready because we performed at 8:15am. Gabie had to be the first one to get her hair and make-up done since she had big curly hair and had to do everyone’s eyeliner. All we got to eat was a banana and apple juice, but at that time the last thing on my mind was food. We all had to wait in line like it was some salon. Your hair at the end of everything they do you will hurt. Like it feels like your hair hates you from everything you just put it through. Not even 30 seconds into having my hair up in a bun with gel and hairspray, and millions of bobby pins I already want to take it  out. It literally hurts to even put your head back because of the pain it causes in the roots of your hair. Then the uniforms we had to wear were white, like ha if anyone is on their period then you have got to wear something big because we don’t want any blood stains. We ended up getting everything we had to the bus and be on the road to state, for once the bus was completely quiet because we were all trying to mentally prepare ourselves for state. Getting to the arena was absolutely nerve racking, as soon as you stepped foot inside and they said Basalt High School so we could go and stretch your hair just stood up. Then we had to take a picture, a team picture of course, we all had that “I’m smiling cause you’re scaring me,” face. The people who would lead us on to stage were being super friendly and tried to get your mind off state. But it’s impossible like we were 2 minutes from performing. We saw the cheerleaders from Prince with their iPads, laughing. Like really? Look at where you are and then look at where I am. I’m the one about to perform at state, while you guys can’t afford to go to state and don’t have the experience to. They finally told us, “well good luck girls we’ll be watching you guys from the stands. If you step this way we will escort you to the dance floor.” There was a cheerleading team finishing their performance and we had to sit in our formations for what seemed to be hours. Prince was even able to pull out their iPads again and take a video of our performance, “to observe” Next thing we knew they said “Now performing Basalt High school” and the music started immediately. I thought that we had done the bomb diggidy after we performed. Everybody was so happy,, we were crying and hugging and each other and just absolutely proud of ourselves. State magic, it can either screw you over or help you like it helped us.

In reality, there’s nothing really secret about being a cheerleader. The media just makes them look like snobby people, when they can be really nice people. Cheerleading helps people overcome their fears, for me it helped me overcome my fear of talking in front of a class. I just have to think of cheerleading and even though there is more people in the crowd than in class it helps me overcome the fear. I can even go up in front of the whole school with a smile on my face and remember the dance. Before, if they put me in front of the school let’s say my freshman year, I would freak out and cry and turn red. Now, it’s really hard for me to get like that, so in a way cheerleading is a way for a shy girl to break out of his or her shell. It’s a big commitment to be in the cheerleading team, keeping your grades up, and not getting injured. “I’ve really set high goals for myself. I think cheerleading really taught me that, never settle for second best.” -Maddie Gardner.

Bullied for My Beliefs

By Brooklyn Koski


I had never genuinely been bullied or harassed before. I had heard about the effects of bullying – dread, anxiety, loss of sleep or appetite, worry. But I had never actually felt the tightening of the stomach at the thought of another confrontation, the shaking, the shrinking sensation I was experiencing now. I felt too small to deal with this situation, with these people. The thought of going back to school, of bumping into him, made me feel panicky and desperate. I would try to come up with excuses to avoid going back to school.

The hardest part was the thought that maybe, if I was just a little more flexible in my beliefs, in where I drew my boundaries, maybe I could avoid future confrontations altogether. Maybe there was an easy way out.

It all started with the silly art project I had gotten behind on. On the eighteenth of December, my Freshman year of high school, a Tuesday, I went to the art room during study hall to finish the project. Bully interrupted me, addressing me as “Girl in the red shirt”, asking me to fetch him a ruler. I obliged and he began to try to strike up further conversation, asking for my name – first and last. I thought the exchange a little odd but not much more. I assessed Bully as being unusually cocky.

Thursday, the next time I came in to catch up on the art project, was a different story. I set up my work, carving a stamp out of linoleum, painting it with ink one layer at a time. Bully came up behind me, putting his hand on my shoulder and began taunting me.

“You are such a bad student,” he said.

“What would your parents think?”

“Tsk, tsk. You are such a bad student.”

“Your parents would be so disappointed in you.”

And over and over again the words went, like a drill. Every now and then, he would throw in something a little more direct, a little more unique.

“Where do you live?”


“I’m not trying to be creepy or anything…”

“What would your parents think?”

“Can I have a hug?”

I hated that all I could do was smile nervously and try to ignore him, try to get my work done. I knew that the nervous smile was working against me, I knew that my silence was not shutting him down. But I was worried I was jumping to conclusions, I was worried maybe somehow something really was wrong with me.

Now, in order to make the rest of the story clearer, I will have to back up. I was born into a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses and I chose to get baptized as one when I was ten years old. I take my beliefs very seriously and I believe that they are a very large part of who I am. It influences my decisions on an everyday basis and is a factor in nearly every decision I make. Entertainment choices, clothing choices, the way that I talk, the way that I carry myself… all of these things are based on my beliefs. I am willing to make the harder decision if it means that I can avoid risking displeasing my God. I would rather err on the side of caution in this regard – even if it means I have strange or rigid standards in view of popular opinion – than risk consequences with my religion, with my conscience, or with my God.

Because parts of my religion are largely conscience-based, I have drawn different boundaries in some areas than other Witnesses. I am more cautious in some respects, and they are more cautious in others.

Dealing with boys is one of the areas where I have chosen to be very cautious. Jehovah’s Witnesses generally take dating very seriously, believing that it should only be with the purpose of looking for a potential marriage mate. So I have never had a boyfriend, I have never kissed a boy, and usually, I do not feel comfortable going around hugging boys. I would rather be cautious, I would rather have rigid boundaries, than set a ball rolling that I do not know how to control and wind up in a lot of trouble.

Bully chose to zero in on the hugging.

I avoided coming into the art room during study hall for the rest of the year, but I could not avoid seeing Bully in the halls from time to time or in the guitar room after school when I would take my lesson. And he remembered me as the girl who refused to give him a hug, as the girl who would only smile nervously at his flirting and taunting.

I would be walking to my locker after lunch, passing the benches in the hallway that he would slink around.

“Give me a hug, Brook?” he would say, blocking my way, his arms open, a cocky smile twisting his face. The best I could do was work up the strength to shake my head, maybe even cross my arms, probably the nervous smile still plastered on my face, making it hard for him to take me seriously.

“Please? Just a hug!”

“Why won’t you give me a hug?”

“Give me a hug!”

As silly as my refusals might have seemed, I was glad that I chosen to draw the line where I had. Bully obviously was not used to getting no for an answer.

His tactics quickly changed.

I had guitar lessons once a week after school. Occasionally, Bully would collect his guitar just as I was arriving. Sometimes he would casually take my guitar from me, saying he would trade it for a hug. I practiced not smiling at home, I practiced angry faces in the mirror, but I am not sure that I ever managed anything more than a nervous face. I did learn to cross my arms, to shake my head, to say no, to pretend that stealing my guitar did not bother me rather than chase him around the room, or rather than give him the hug he wanted.

Things finally climaxed on a Friday.

I had sat down next to my guitar teacher, ready for my lesson. I was sitting with my guitar on my lap, waiting as my teacher finished a phone call. My teacher was right there the whole time.

Bully came up behind me and grabbed my jaw, unaware that this was quite painful for me. I had braces on my molars that had literally gotten adjusted the day before. With one hand under my chin, the other on his guitar case, he forced my head back. The image of his nostrils is now rather permanently ingrained in my head.

“Give me a hug.”


“Please? Just one?”


“All I want is a hug!”

I shook my head as best as I could under the circumstances.

He squeezed my jaw a little, my braces dug into my cheek, making me cringe in pain.

With an exasperated sigh, he let go and left the room. My teacher ended his phone call and began my lesson. I was shaking a little, and my mouth was very sore.

Finally, that night, I told my father about Bully. He wrote an email to the principal, upset for his terrified Freshman daughter. I asked him to leave Bully’s name out of the email – I was worried there would be further trouble for me if Bully got in trouble for harassment or bullying.

I dreaded going to school the entire weekend. I felt rather sick Monday morning, pulling up to the building. As I got out of my car, Bully pulled up in a car behind us, walking fast to catch up to me.

“Are you trying to run away from me?”

My heart dropped into my stomach, nearly every part of me screaming yes, my mouth not having the courage to tell him so.

In art class that morning, the principal pulled me out of the class to talk to me. I stood in the hallway with the principal, trembling before the tall man, feeling as though I were shrinking. My tongue felt heavy as I tried to explain the problems I was having with Bully, terrified of needing to talk to the principal, terrified of the potential wrath of Bully if he found out, and above all, terrified of Bully.

The rest of the year went surprisingly smoothly. Bully gradually gave up, gradually stopped asking, finally accepted.

“Okay, fine, you win,” he actually said to me one day.

But in all honesty, I felt a little crazy for taking the stand that I had. It had turned into such a big deal over my uncomfortableness with giving him a hug.

Sophomore year, I returned more confident and sure of who I was and what I believed in. I found that I had a couple of classes with him which annoyed me rather than worried me. Eventually, though, I came to realize that these classes with him gave me the opportunity to show him that I stood up for what I believed in in general, not just when it came to giving him a hug. He came to understand who I was and that the stand that I made was just another part of me. He stopped calling my Brook and started calling me Brooklyn like most people.

“Can I have a hug?” he said to me one day, irritating me.

“No,” I said, giving a small laugh because we both knew what the answer was going to be.

“Why not?”

“I don’t do hugs,” I said, lamely, not sure how to make him understand my actual reasons. I had tried to use that line in the past with him, without success.

“No, seriously, why not?”

For the first time, I realized that he genuinely wanted a reason. He was not after the hug anymore, he wanted to know the reason behind my less than normal actions. But class started before I could come up with something closer to the truth. I thought about what I could have said for the rest of the day. So when he asked again, later, I finally had an answer for him.

“I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” I began. “I have different boundaries than most people… a hug is where I have chosen to draw the line.”

Instantly he backed down.

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place!” he said, physically backing away from me. “I would have left you alone a long time ago!”

The relief was incredible. I felt that finally, all of my cards were on the table, and he was finally starting to see me as who I was rather than the Freshman girl in the red shirt who had said no to a hug.

Later he asked me why I had made that decision, why I had drawn the line at hugging him.

“As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I believe that dating should be with the purpose of possibly getting married. So I take boy-girl relationships very seriously, and I feel more comfortable drawing the line at hugs to be on the safe side.”

Bully’s story was by far the longest experience I have had with facing opposition for what I believe in. But there are countless little stories of times when I was terrified to speak up, or when doing what I believed was right seemed like the most difficult thing I could think of. I know that I am not alone in my experiences – there are little acts of bravery happening everywhere, everyday where people make the harder choice to do what they believe is right – but I have found the primary cause of these challenges in my case is the fact that I am doing my best to live as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A focal part of my participation in my religion is the “knocking on doors” that we are known for and most of the time, it scares me to death. From time to time, I have to ask myself if it is worth it.

For me, the answer is always yes (although, admittedly, sometimes after lengthy thought). I am happy with who I am and who I am becoming. My choices have kept me protected from many of the disappointments in this world. I have my family supporting my decisions, I have many friends who support my decisions, and I know that there are 8 million Witnesses around the world making very similar decisions. At the end of the day, I live with a clean conscience, and feel satisfied that I am taking a stand for something that I believe is important. I feel that I have a good relationship with my God, Jehovah. These things make me strong, these things give me courage. I would not be able to live as myself, to live as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses without this strength, especially in today’s primarily secular world.

Forever Sweet: My grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.


By Lillie Harden

She was dead. No, her heart hadn’t stopped. No, she hadn’t stopped breathing. She still had a pulse even but my Nanna or more formally known as my grandmother, was dead. She took her frail and cracked hand and hit me across the face as hard as she could and for a split second I think she realized what she had done. But as soon as she realized she forgot. I looked at her dead in the eyes and saw straight through her. This brought tears to my eyes but I quickly swiped them away knowing that she wouldn’t understand and it would hurt her more than it would help her. I got down on my knees and pulled the mint chocolate chip ice-cream out from it’s hiding spot in the freezer to where she could get to it. I checked my phone for the time: 7:04 a.m. She had been eating ice cream all morning and with her health in mind I decided to pack it away so she didn’t get a stomachache. This had infuriated her to the point where she could hit me.

I had always been her favorite grandchild, me being the only granddaughter. I was always the problem child growing up, full of energy and always getting into trouble while blaming it on my cousin or little brother. Once I had broken her entire collection of over 100 glass clowns and still she hadn’t done anything but yell at me for a few minutes and felt so bad for it she gave me two bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream. My nan and I were so close when I was growing up. I spent almost every weekend at her house and faked many sicknesses to stay with her during the school day. She was my absolute favorite person and I’m pretty sure I was hers too. We would go up to Aspen together and clean these gigantic houses and sometimes even stay in them. There were three houses and she barely ever really had to clean them because I would end up doing most of the work but she would still complain about them all of the time. Even though most of our time spent together consisted of watching “Law and Order” over mint ice cream while she slept, or listening to her complain, or doing her job for her, I loved every second of it and spent most of my childhood with her.

The moment she hit me was the moment I realized that no matter what I said or did there was no changing the fact that my Nanna had Alzheimer’s. Nothing I could do would be enough to save my best friend and so from that moment on I separated myself. I pulled away and even got a little bitter. When my Nanna was confused or needed help, I turned the other way. When she couldn’t help but cry I found some reason to leave the house and when she tried to talk to me, I would pretend she wasn’t there. I knew I couldn’t change anything or help her and so I felt like I was more toxic than anything. This lasted for a year and things still aren’t the same as they were before. But I try to remember that deep down beneath this evil disease, my Nanna is in there somewhere. And if I don’t fight for her, who will? I don’t understand this disease and I honestly try not to because I feel like it might just make it hurt worse. But I do know one thing for sure and it’s what keeps me going: My Nanna loves mint chocolate chip ice cream and even her disease can never take that away.


The Anti-Gossip Girl’s Survival Guide to High School

By Elana Neiley  

elana photo

If only high school was really like one of those happy Disney movies, where the antagonist, always the melodramatic cheerleading captain, gets what’s coming to her by the girl she bullies and spread rumors about, always because that bullied girl and the cheerleader’s boyfriend fall in love.  But we all know high school isn’t. While high school is fun, the drama of who loves who and who hooked up with who and who’s popular and who’s not is always bad, and getting worse. Fortunately if you use common sense and these tips you’ll avoid being talked about, because this is reality and not, as much as everyone wishes, a Disney chic flick.

First don’t associate with those behaviors that are gossiped over. Does that mean you have to be a loner who studies all the time? No. Go to parties and socialize just always have an “out strategy” if things get too hairy:

  • Someone who will drive you home whether it’s a best friend, or your parents, or maybe even yourself.
  • An excuse for why you are leaving: “My stupid curfew is at 10, and I’ve not met it at all this week,so unless I leave now, my parents are going to ground me and take away my car and all my phone, ipad, and computer.”
  • Be smart. If there is a party at a site that has police surveillance on it don’t go because when the police come, and I assure you they will, everyone is going to get arrested and get charged with minors in possession, no matter how drunk or high you are.

Secondly, don’t join in on the gossip, whether it’s online or with your special lunch group, since it will come back to haunt you  If your friends are talking about Bernice and how she hooked up with eight guys in two days and how she’s such a slut and she should kill herself, just keep quiet. Remember, gossip is like the game telephone, so the likelihood of it being true is close to nothing,but the probability that one of your friend is two faced and Bernice trusting her and everything she says, is more probable, especially in a small school . If you join in the gossip, the likelihood of you being the next target drastically increases.

Thirdly, keep that curtain between private and public life intact. Documenting every moment of every day being obnoxious is besides the point. However, documenting leading to drama isn’t. You have willingly put every aspect of your life on display, so people, because they are nosy, will talk. And it won’t be nice things either. I don’t know why, but people are more inclined to criticize others and their choices than to compliment them. So if you don’t want people criticize your life choices, don’t broadcast them. Some things are meant to stay private.

Fourthly, think for yourself. Maybe you’ve heard rumors that Marjory is so creepy because once she was spotted in a dark alleyway doing some sort of ritual, but maybe Marjory is really nice and normal. The only way you’ll find out is if you leave the rumors behind and make up your own mind based on the time you’ve spent with her yourself.

Lastly, always remember this one important fact: this is highschool. One day it will end and everyone will go their separate ways and slowly drift apart. Then those labels, like “popular” and “geek”, that grouped everyone in high school won’t matter because all of your high school peers will be scattered across the country making new friends and forgetting that dramatic void that was high school.





Addicted to Love: My biggest crush was a drug dealer

A work of fiction by Elana Neiley

druggie graphic

“I should have kissed him! I should have plucked up the courage and kissed him! Why didn’t I kiss him! Oh man I just should have kissed him. I shou-”

“Emma. Should you have kissed him?” I know by Megan’s sarcastic tone she has heard enough.


“Why are you still obsessing over him? I mean it’s been months since you’ve even seen him, and you’re still obsessing over that moment.  Hello! Earth to Emma, he- is- a- drug- dealer.”

“So what?”

Sooooo you are in love with a guy who broke the law!”

“Right. So he is supposed to be all mean and cold with a liquor problem? He rides a Harley around with his gang wreaking havoc everywhere they go, gunning down little old ladies who get in their way. Right?”

Megan just shakes her head, and I know the conversation is over. knew about the four year probation, the parole officer, everything. But that didn’t deter me from crushing on him hardcore. I guess those sappy, romantic lovesongs are true, you really can’t control your heart, even if you’re the biggest control freak there is; a.k.a. me.  I mean, I don’t step outside the lines ever. To quote John Bender to Brian Ralph from the Breakfast Club I am, “every parent’s wet dream.” I am in all AP classes, do my homework, never party, and I certainly have never tried any drug–not even weed.  Yet I fell hard for a guy who did party, smoke weed, and finally dealt cocaine. Of course I didn’t know any of this when I first met him.

That day my boss was late for work.  My boss was always was and he never, in the three years I worked for him, gave me a key so I could open up shop.  I mean, it was awkward to turn potential customers away because I couldn’t open a door.  Anyway, this time he was unusually late even for him. He didn’t arrive until close to 2:00 and the shop is supposed to be open at 12:00. So there I was, sitting outside, using the force to unlock the door. I do that sometimes when I am in an impossible situation like that. “Maybe,” I think, “if I concentrate on the door for long enough it will unlock and then I will be like Matilda.” Although it never works, it keeps me occupied, and I needed something to occupy me that day.

So there I was. I really don’t remember how long I had been waiting, when a large kinda old man, (much much later when my brother worked for him I would come to learn his name was Tony, and he owned an Italian restaurant called Luigi’s, came to the top of the stairs.

“Are you waiting for Jeff?” he asked


“Well, he called me . He won’t be here for a while, so you can come hang out at Luigi’s until he gets here.”


So I followed him next door. Looking back on it, it was a pretty stupid thing to do. I mean, I didn’t even know him and for all I knew he could have been a pedophile who was the leader of some human trafficking ring. Oh, well. If he was I wouldn’t be here, so obviously he was just some guy.

Well anyway, he set me up on the patio. I guess that’s where Jeff was going to find me, and gave me a soda. I realized that a classmate of mine, Maddie, was also sitting on the patio. We weren’t best buddies or anything, but I liked her and she liked me. She waved to me, and asked if I wanted to sit with her. Hell yeah I did. So we sat together and started joking about really serious stuff. We were having  a ball.

Then he came. He was one of the waiters and had a refill for my soda. I really don’t remember how he got involved in Maddie’s and mine laughing and joking but somehow he was included, and we were all making jokes about and laughing at starving children and terrorists and such. Warning the next line sounds like it came straight from The Notebook. Then I looked into his eyes and for one glorious second I was lost in the perfect face. Oh he was just gorgeous. Then Jeff had to ruin it by finally showing up.

A few days later Jeff said he had hired someone named Caleb to manage the shop so he didn’t have to be here all the time. I just nodded my head. I really didn’t give a shit about who my boss hired and for what purpose. Although maybe this Caleb would be more timely;-that would be nice.

So finally, after Jeff going on and on about him, I finally met Caleb, again. The brown hair, short and spiky, the face, those eyes-here was that waiter from Luigi’s and now he was working with ME! Oh my God he was working with ME! Yes!

Over the summers we did do a lot of working worked together a lot. And even though I learned stuff about Caleb that should have turned me off, like how he was a pot-head or that he played beer pong on a regular basis, I only became more infatuated with him. Not even the fact that he had been caught selling cocaine could turn me off. In fact, when my dad handed me that newspaper, I didn’t believe it, even though I knew it was probably true, at least truer than my version.- Ssomeone had impersonated Caleb that was it.

You see, in my world, Caleb was a hard worker, he got my sense of humor, (which most people don’t; they just think I’m a bitch, or insane, which maybe I am). Anyway, it finally got so bad that night after night and-day after day, all I wanted to do was drop my pants and tell him, to “tTake me now!.”  I never acted on this marvelous idea, so my pride is still intact.

And then came that one moment. Caleb and I had finished closing around 10 p.m and he and I were waiting outside the shop for my parents. A true drug dealer wouldn’t wait with me. He would use my vulnerablity to his advatntage and rape and murder me. So there.  Anyway, usually I called them when we were closing, or closed, and in 15 or 20 minutes one of them showed up. However, this time when I called my mom, I got her voicemail. So I tried the home phone and my dad’s phone and got the same results.  After around 30 minutes of waiting Caleb asked me if I had called someone.

“Yes. I got the voicemail though.”

“Please try again.” I knew he wanted to go home, his friend had made a T-bone steak for him and he wanted to eat it.

“Okay,” I said.

Sso I tried again, and left some very sassy messages including Caleb’s hunger.  He laughed at that. But no one seemed to receive the messages. Then hope came! My mom called me after about an hour.

“Hey, I got your message. Are you really waiting with Caleb outside?”

“Ummm Yea.” sSometimes my mom asked the stupidest questions.

“Ok you go to Luigi’s and I’ll come get you there, that way Caleb can go home.”

“Okaay,” I said,

I was very hesitant reluctant to leave Caleb, but I did what my mom said., tThat way, he could go eat that t-bone. He walked me to the door, and I was about to go in when I turned around. He was still standing there, behind me. We made eye contact and then I went in. Why didn’t I kiss him or hug him or something? I didn’t even say thank you to him. I just turned around and headed into Luigi’s.

A few weeks later he quit working for Jeff. I was crushed. At that point my infatuation had become so bad I needed to tell Caleb before this crush killed me. So I called him up one night, actually it was late, at about one in the morning. I blamed on my Red Bull addiction. I left him a voicemail and told him I loved him. It was amazing how free I felt afterwards , like a huge weight had finally been lifted off my shoulders.

The next day he called me back. He said I was really nice and everything, but too young, and anyway he had a girlfriend. I accepted his reasoning with as much grace as I could muster, but once we were done talking, I cried and cried. All in all iIt took about a month for me to really calm down and begin the process of moving on, and still I go into modes where I wonder what would have happened if I had kissed him that one night. Until someone finds a way to time travel, I guess I’ll never know.

“Hey I need to head home now k? Don’t let some moment ruin your whole evening k?” I nodded as Megan got her coat from the wrack and walked out the door. I can’t  wait until she faelsl head over heels for someone who rejected her. Then I will have someone to relate to. Uuntil that time I guess I’ll just have to keep moving on.





TakeAnotherPeak at Youth Entity’s Programs

We thought it would be fun for the staff of TakeAnotherPeak to check out the other YouthEntity Programs being offered this semester. Here’s what we learned:

I Am Financial Knowledge 
By Elana Neily

“I have had teachers come up to me and tell me if they had had this class in fifth grade they wouldn’t be in such trouble,” said Paul Hilts, organizer for the YouthEntity program I am Financial Knowledge.

I am Financial Knowledge is a program for fifth to eighth graders and was set up four years ago. Coincidentally the program was set up around the time Colorado mandated all elementary and middle schools to offer a financial literacy class. However, according to Hilts none of the teachers were equipped to teach a financial literacy class, so they turned to the YouthEntity. Now volunteers to go around to the valley’s elementary and middle schools and teach fifth and eighth graders how to spend money wisely.

However, the mentors don’t lecture the kids about the right way to spend money–the kids play games to learn.

“One game we had to save 10 percent, invest 10 percent and spend 70 percent,” said fifth grader Shawntelle Bennett. According to fifth grader Alexis Dukes, another game fifth and eighth graders play is one where they have to decide whether they would rather have million dollars given to them at the beginning of the month or a penny that doubles every day of the month.

“Most people raise their hand for the million dollars right off but then change their mind as we talk through it,” added fifth grader Julya Sitton.  This shows the power of interest.

Of course, the kids get something out of the course too. According to Kirsten McDaniel the kids take an end of course test to see if they have actually retained anything. For every question they get right they get paid a small sum. At the end of the test, they receive a “paycheck.”

“It’s a way of showing your parents that you thought you did well on the test,” Bennett said. It’s solid evidence a kid paid attention and learned something in the class.

But the kids don’t realize they are getting more of of the course than just a paycheck.

    “Financial literacy calls on several skills: ethics, consequences of your actions, and responsibility.” Hilts said, all factors people need in everyday life. I am Financial Literacy is not only a course in finances, it’s a course in life.


Mountain Fashion: Winter Trends

Lillie wears a contrast sequined tank by Three Dot. $75 at Lululbelle, Carbondale.

Lillie wears a contrast sequined tank by Three Dot. $75 at Lululbelle, Carbondale.

What else is there to on a Wednesday night in downtown Carbondale, but go check out the latest fashions at Lulubelle, a small, locally-owned clothing boutique on Main Street. This season we are seeing a lot of bling on casual pieces like cotton t-shirts and camis. Also popular are leather/ faux leather leggings, leather accents, and long open cardigans. And, it looks like boyfriend jeans are here to stay. We might be mountain girls, but who says we can’t be stylish too?

Check out some looks we put together for daytime, nighttime, and the special occasion in between:

Image 3

Leather leggings are all the rage this season, like these faux leather slim fit pair by Tart, $128. Perfect for a night out, especially when paired with a sequined Ella Moss cami, $148.

Image 1Perfect for daytime, school, or an afternoon out with the girls, boyfriend jeans are comfy and (if you don’t mind us saying) pretty cute. Throw on a sequined cotton t for a fun, easy look that’s also got some bling. Jeans by Seven for All Mankind, $210, a-symmetrical navy sequined top by Velvet, $128.

Image 2Every girl should have the perfect LBD (That’s “Little Black Dress” for those of you who missed The Carrie Diaries) and this capped-sleeve lace and cotton mini with faux leather accents could take you for a night out on the town. (Call Lulubelle for pricing and information: (970) 510-5141).

Bringing SexyBack (or not).

By Elana Neiley

Don’t get me wrong I love my “Anaconda.” It is a great song to get sexy with, but that is its one redeeming quality. It is a stripper song, yet it is on the top charts. Something is definitely wrong with this picture. A song that glorifies having a large ass to get sex is what people of all ages like? No wonder we have an issue with sex in the country, since all of the mainstream songs glorify the action, and at the same time devalue its worth.


Someone should tell Nicki Minaj: sex and music is overplayed.

Pop and rap songs these days all have the same message: have sex and have it a lot. In most songs women are just the conduits to get sex. “Our conversations ain’t long/ but you know what is (“Talk  Dirty to Me” by Jason Derulo).These song lay down rules on how to be sexually appealing to any man “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun… (“Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj, a remix of “Baby’s got Back” by Sir Mix a Lot) which objectifies women and makes them feel bad when they don’t have what it takes to get noticed.  Even songs that start with good messages end up being sexual,“Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size/She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” (“All About the Bass” by Kevin Kadish and Meghan Trainor) Her mom told her to not worry about being stick thin, but not because being that thin is unhealthy, or because she would still be a good person if she was a little chubby,  it is because having a little bit of fat here and there pleases the boys.  She is objectifying her own daughter, and devaluing her before she goes out into the world.  Finally, men brag about their sexual conquests “She been plottin’ on my brown cock (brown cock),” (“She” by Tyler the Creator). Women are devalued to toys that are exciting for one or two nights, but thrown aside after the magic has worn off. Even the songs sung by women, tell men only how sexually appealing they are, “She got a booty like a Cadillac, but I can send you into overdrive.” (“Bang Bang” by Jessie J, feat.  Nicki Minaj, and  Ariana Grande).

Yet when the topic of sex comes up in conversation, everyone agrees it is an experience not to be taken lightly. You only do it when you are deeply in love with someone, and both parties agree to it. It is not something to be taken lightly. However, mainstream songs seem to refute this strong belief. These songs distance love from sex. Sex does not have go with love; they are two different entities. There is nothing about a woman’s personality, interests, or even what the woman would like from the man. All songs put the man in control. The woman’s essence is lowered to an object, a thing that doesn’t do anything unless some outside force acts upon it. An object can’t think, it can’t feel, it does what it is forced and nothing more.

These songs are saying, you don’t need to be in love with someone to have sex with them. All they have to do is fit the demands to be sexually appealing, and there you go, you are set. After a few drinks you will both be screwing in a hotel room or in the backseat of someone’s car. So it makes a country of hypocrites. We say one thing, and tell others to value sex, but then do exactly what the songs tell us and hook up with anyone available.

All of the mainstream music has one single objective: to devalue sex. Even though the beat might be a little different, or the lyrics more evasive, in general this shows a lack of creativity.  Instead of creating a difference in a new direction song that really stretches the artist’s ability both musically and creatively, the music industry has become a game ground where the artist who best represent sex in the hooker form wins.

Does that mean musicians should stop writing about sex? No. But some variety would be nice. There are so many things musicians can make into a song, like spaghetti, or suicide or Adele’s place called Skyfall where life begins and ends that sex doesn’t always have to be the main focus.

Still, if rappers are incapable of writing about anything other than sex, they could portray it through a more virtuous lens. Sex is not something you do every night with every girl on your street. Objectifying those girls won’t earn you any favors in today’s world anyway. Sure us girls like to know some guy notices us for our looks, but that is just one step towards the end goal. Guys who only like me for my lack of boobs, I know they are out there, won’t get anywhere. I need someone who recognizes me as an individual who has opinions, emotions, and goals. If there is a song taking that angle on relationships and sex that, I will be happy.


Finding the courage to tell the truth: A true story about child molestation

By B.K.


A verified child molester should be in jail, not gaining custody on the weekends.

When she told me about her dad abusing her, we were in her room, on her bed. The news had trickled down to me through my family when she first started seeing the therapist, so I thought that I was prepared for her to open up to me. But hearing about it from her was different. It made me shake with anger and it made me cry. Watching her eyes and seeing that her pain had always been in them, pushed just under the surface, made me realize how brave she was. I watched as she clasped and unclasped her skinny fingers as she would gesture, trying to tell me her story in words that I could understand. We both knew that I would never understand.

It’s never been fair the things that she’s had to go through. Her parents divorced when she was seven, and her brother got sick two years later – when she was nine and he was seven. For the seven years that he fought Medulloblastoma tumors (seven in his brain and multiple up and down his spine) the attention was on him. The scramble for life seemed more important than the horrors she was going through in her mind. She decided to be brave. He told her not to put stress on her mom by talking about what he was doing.

She told me that she saw his face when she would look in the mirror. She hated the reminder that she carried his blood in hers. He told her that she was ugly. He told her that she would never be loved. I tried to tell her that she was her own person, that no one saw him when they saw her. She looks much more like her mom anyway.

She colored her hair to make it look less like her dad’s. She started eating “healthy”, thinking that it was somehow better if she could live off of nothing more than some vegetables every day. She had to cut her hair because it started falling out because she stopped eating.

After her brother died, it seemed like the family was on the mend. It was hard for them. And still, she tried to be brave. Even though she had lost her brother, even though she was twig thin, even though she was being abused every time she saw her dad, she was still “fine.”

I was little. I didn’t know these things. But I did know that she was my friend and that I loved being around her. I did know she didn’t eat much and that I liked her new hair cut. I also knew she didn’t tell me many things that I thought she should tell me. I remember wanting her to know that it was okay to talk about things – especially little things. I knew she would spend hours in the bathroom, especially to get ready to see people. I remember trying to tell her that she was beautiful and that she did not need to spend hours prepping.

A year and a half after her brother died, she finally asked to see a therapist about her brother. But without much prompting, soon she was talking about everything for the first time.

About six months later, when I went to see her, I knew things had changed. She was wearing more makeup. Her hair was growing. For the first time that I can remember, she told the truth when we asked how she was doing, even if it was less than “fine”. But I could still see that things were still hard. She still spent much time in the bathroom, throwing up – her eating disorder shifting from anorexic tendencies to bulimic – and cleaning up. She still worried and had trouble making decisions. (She explained to me that she had been told that the part of the brain that creates the fight or flight response had overdeveloped in her, meaning this became her default reaction to most situations and decisions.)

But she told me that each time she had to tell her story, it was getting easier. She told me that she felt like her story could help a lot of people, and that already people were telling her that they had been through similar trauma.

The reality today is that major issues along these lines have been getting swept under the rug. They are much more common than we anticipate, but they are simply not talked about. I have found that even trying to tell her story here has been a difficult undertaking to say the least. It has been emotional and uncomfortable, but here is where the fault lies in our society. Without open communication, the victims are trapped into thinking that something is wrong with them, or that no one has the time to listen to what they need to say. They believe that their problems are too big for someone else to help them with and that they are alone.

She found the strength to speak. I have found the strength as well. These are our first steps in the right direction.

Underage Drinking & Driving Killed My Best Friend

By Lillie Harden

Ding. Ding. Buzz. Buzz.
Verizon was finally rekindling its ties with my mom, after an early morning hike at Rifle Falls. Trees flew past as I glued my face to the window waiting for my old apple phone to buffer. I hid my innocence in the heat I gave to the window in the form of fog. I drew in innocence in the form of a heart on the window. I held innocence on my damp finger tip.

My eyes strayed from the constant passing for no intensional reason and I came to an unpredictable story painted across a pair of glossy eyes. The eyes belonged to the women who had granted me life and thus far savored my naive heart. When finally her eyes met mine, she told me. She didn’t hesitate or skip a beat. She just spit the words out as if reciting where we would be going for breakfast or the weather for the day. The woman I had trusted all my life to always protect me, had just revealed the death of one of my truest friends.

My heart began to ache and gravitate to my stomach. All of a sudden I couldn’t seem to feel my limbs and my body fell weak. Memories began to rush through my mind as if it were all a movie played in fast forward. Voices tampered with my mind in tongues unknown and no matter how hard I tried to translate, the words were clustered. I simply looked up, more symbolic to me than anything, and prayed to God that this couldn’t be true. My phone began to buzz and I closed my eyes in hopes that if I couldn’t see it, it wouldn’t be real. My heart began to beat hard as my mind built the courage to face reality. As I opened my eyes, I peered over at the window and saw that the heart had evaporated. I unlocked my phone and opened to Facebook. I was suddenly over whelmed with pictures of a short lived soul and words like rest in peace. I closed my eyes again and salty tears began to fall from my sealed eyes like liquid silver. They splashed onto my shaking hands and I kept a mental note to breathe. My heart continued to whisper to my brain that she wasn’t really dead.

Suddenly I regained my ability to comprehend the English language and I was thus told The Story. She had gone out to a local bar where she wasn’t Id’ed as a 16-year-old girl. Then she had attended a house party, where her alcohol intake increased from her previous experience at the bar. She along with two other friends decided to drive to eagle in attempt to bring one of them home. The girl who had been with her decided to drive with an intoxication level 3 times the legal limit for driving in Colorado and was faced with driving in a construction zone. She veered too far into the wrong lane and the car containing the three was smashed by a King Supers semi-truck. Jenny had been killed on impact.

Every two minutes, a person is injured or killed in a drunk driving crash.That means that on average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. Drinking and driving accounted for 10,322 deaths and 290,000 injuries in 2012 alone. This is a serious issue not only around the world and in the country but right here in the Roaring Fork Valley. In the past week I have personally witnessed or became aware of 27 piers who have driven while under the influence. This is not including the teens I am not personally aware of.

On homecoming night alone I witnessed around 11 drunk drivers. I was not involved in going to any underaged parties or any place where drinking was known to be involved. The drivers I had witnessed were in the school vicinity, accompanying the friends I was going to a public restaurant with or driving on the road along side me. I intervened and helped only two of the underaged drinkers. I helped to find another driver for a girl who had drunk alcohol during the dance and accompanied my friends at a restaurant afterward. I also picked up some kids, who had been at a party, down the street from where the party had been held resulting in me being grounded for a month for missing curfew. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the adults in the community.

As a valley we can’t depend on only our youth to solve this issue. There are indeed instances where we can help out but we need find a solution. By picking up a student who was at a party, we are risking being associated with the party which can result in consequences in extra curricular activities or guilt by association charges. We are also putting ourselves at risk of being a victim in a drinking and driving accident where a drunk actually hits us. There needs to be some sort of adult to intervene. As a member of the youth community in The Roaring Fork Valley we are calling out for help.