What’s That One Word Again?? The One That Means… You Know???

by Aspen Schrupp, junior writing coach

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Imagine this: 

You’re at your desk furiously typing away as you add the final touches to your essay that’s due in less than two hours. You’re almost done with your conclusion paragraph when it happens: you’re in the middle of a sentence and you blank on the word you’re looking for. You pause and allow yourself to think, until panic sets in. You know you know this word, yet it eludes you. Ultimately, and unfortunately, you cannot think of the word, so you must either a) rephrase the sentence or b) choose the second best, but not nearly as perfect of a fit, word.

Sound familiar?

Well, don’t let these small things slow you down any longer! Here are some of the best websites that will get you out of even the biggest memory lapse:

    1. Thesaurus (https://www.thesaurus.com)

While this first one may be obvious, it is a must to include! This thesaurus lists numerous synonyms for any and all kinds of words along with- *drum roll*- phrases! Not too many other thesauruses, or websites in general, will give you synonyms for short phrases, so this is a good tool to have in your back pocket.


2. WordHippo (https://www.wordhippo.com)

Although this website also serves as a thesaurus, it can do lots of other things, too! Have you ever known the opposite of the word you were trying to say? If so, WordHippo is for you! WordHippo can give you the antonyms of words, and if you’re a poet, it can also help you find words that rhyme. Plus, if you’re not sure how to use a word in context, type it into WordHippo, and it will give you examples!


3. Writer’s Web (http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/trans1.html)

This website is a lifesaver! If you’re anything like me, you use “therefore” way too much and “however” out of context, but do not fear! Writer’s Web provides a bunch of transition words all grouped into categories to help make your writing flow!


4. Tip of My Tongue (http://chir.ag/projects/tip-of-my-tongue/)

If there is a word you simply cannot remember, Tip of My Tongue was made for you. I recently found out about this website, and it’s super cool! You can type in things such as “sounds like,” “starts with,” and “means” to find the word you’re thinking of!

With these websites in mind, go! Write your essay! Discover the power of a really good thesaurus!

A Complete Guide to Black Friday Survival 

by Lindsey Muench, junior writing coach


Welcome campers! With Thanksgiving approaching, Black Friday is just around the corner. Sure, turkey and family are important, but we’re focusing on a very complex task: Black Friday shopping.

If you’re a hardcore Black Friday enthusiast and camp outside of stores, chances are you already know how to survive… My advice for you is to bring a few 5 Hour Energies and bundle up!

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Fun fact: Last year, Google analyzed foot traffic data from U.S. smartphones to see how crowded stores get during the holiday season. On Black Friday, traffic was lowest from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., and highest between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Here, I have for you a guide, to not only survive Black Friday, but thrive. By the end of this blog, you’re going to be the new Bear Grylls of Black Friday, so stay tuned for tips, tricks, and life hacks other shoppers can only dream about. 

Use your trusty device 

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Chances are you already possess the most valuable item to secure your Back Friday success: your mobile phone. Here are a few ways you can make your phone your best friend on Black Friday.

Hop on social media

Instead of flipping through endless magazines, newspapers, and catalogs to find coupons for what you want, follow retailers on social media. They often post promotions and deals on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Download coupon apps!

Try downloading these free apps to make shopping more efficient, quicker, and cheaper! 

  • Shopular. Shopular is an app that shows you deals when you approach stores you love! 
  • Flipp. Flipp shows you coupons from hundreds of retailers. You also get to custom make shopping lists. 
  • The Coupons App. The Coupon App is a flyer and coupon aggregator. You can customize your alerts to your shopping preferences.
  • TheBlackFriday.com App. The name speaks for itself! This app shows you the most exclusive Black Friday deals. I would recommend this one specifically for the optimal Balck Friday app of choice. 

Plan ahead

        We all know it’s going to be the busiest shopping day of the year this Friday, so don’t leave the house without a plan of where you’re going, and what you want to buy. 

        According to Shopify, 27 percent of US shoppers plan to go on Thanksgiving day, compared to a whopping 70 on Black Friday, so start early!

        A good way to get on track to finding deals is checking the good ‘ole Sunday papers. Look through catalogs, then hop online. There are so many Black Friday websites that can help you, and you can sign up to receive deal alerts from helpful sites like BradsDeals.com, BlackFriday.com, and Nerd Wallet

Dress comfortably, relax, and stay safe

        We all know Black Friday altercations can turn toxic. Make sure you’re taking basic precautions, after all, it’s just shopping. Make sure to be extra careful in the parking lots, try not to fig over the last items, keep valuables close, and dress warm! We love layers!

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Black Friday not your thing?

        Mark your calendar for these equally important, but much less stressful upcoming shopping dates you most likely never knew existed.

Small Business Saturday: Saturday, November 30. This day is not so much about getting stellar deals, but about supporting your community. Small Business Saturday encourages people to shop small and bring more holiday shopping to local businesses.

Cyber Monday: Monday, December 2. The Black Friday of the internet! 

Green Monday: Monday, December 9. Green Monday is another internet sales day to encourage further holiday cheer. It’s also for those who realize they only have 10 shipping days left before Christmas and haven’t gotten anything yet… If this happens a lot, you know who you are, so look out for this day.

Free shipping day: Sunday, December 14.

Voyage 1: Wolsfeld Woods


This year Writing It Out has a new segment for Set Sail called Voyageur! This segment is run by two blog editors, Julia Ruelle and Ellie Retzlaff. Who are they, you may be asking yourself? Well, look no further!!

Julia Ruelle (left) and Ellie Retzlaff (right) at the capitol after a meeting about the Boundary Waters. 

The two of us are very passionate about the outdoors and have done a lot of work in protecting the Boundary Waters in particular, but are very excited for this segment and the opportunity to visit so many other beautiful environments near us. (Sidenote and shameless self promo: if you are reading this and interested in the BWCA as well, join Boundary Waters Club, it’s on Thursdays, ask one of us for more information!)

Throughout Voyageur, we will be writing reflections about outings, adventures, and everything in between. You can expect to see both local and further away excursions to encourage you to explore and get outside. The segment will be highlighting the wilderness and its ability to not only provide a sense of peace and serenity that a busy highschooler’s life may need, but also its ability to bring people together. The outdoors serves as a great way to be with friends and family that only requires your shoes and a map (and maybe, as we get into these colder months, a coat).

Last note: We were finally inspired to post this by Max Meyer’s recent post about procrastination. While this post is more of a fall adventure, we promise to post more current trips soon, especially those highlighting our wonderful winter months in Minnesota!

VOYAGE #1 – Wolsfeld Woods

Our first excursion took us into the woods, Wolsfeld Woods, to be precise. A short drive east led us to this protected area in the backyard of a church, right off the road. While this was unexpected, once we entered the [poorly marked] trail, we suddenly felt immersed in the wild, a sharp contrast from the rushing cars and modern signs that enveloped the surrounding highway. 


Wolsfeld Woods is not too far of a drive from the high school, so depending on where you live, this place might be a short trip you can take with your friends and family to get out into nature. Also nearby is downtown Wayzata, and while we don’t condone rooting for yellow and blue, local coffee shops and eateries like Penny’s and Crisp & Green make for a fun stop either before entering the woods, fully fueled, or warming up after a hike (it is winter after all). 

Fresh Air

Hearing the crunch of the leaves beneath our feet and feeling the sun’s rays upon us, we felt refreshed by the walk. Having both stayed home over MEA, this jaunt through the woods made us feel fortunate for the abundant nature in Minnesota. Exploration and adventure is so accessible here in Minnesota! Fall is a breathtaking time of year, and in this forest, yellow is the color of the season. 

We also re-connected with our childlike side, escaping from some of the stressors of high school, and climbed a tree! It was exhilarating to climb, branch after branch, still carried by a strong pine, even if we’ve changed a bit since elementary school. 

Happy Campers

In accordance to our hopes for this blog, we both felt that the woods helped strengthen our friendship. Sappy as it may be, nature really does well to connect us to our friends and family, and simply a hike in the woods brought laughing, some deeper conversation, and, of course, a little fear (see: climbing a tree and staying there for a solid twenty minutes because we were both a little fearful of breaking an ankle on the way down). Being in the bubble of the woods it becomes much easier to talk and focus on the present company. You will be sure to make your own memories, whether that be climbing a tree, navigating the puddles, or jumping in to the leaves (or snow). 

Rocks & Roots

No hike is complete without a little mud! Thanks to this fall’s heavy rains, sections of the trail were flooded by the high banks of the lake. We were lucky to be wearing our trusty hiking boots, and climbed across fallen branches to stay dry. We recommend that you are mindful of recent weather and prepare accordingly when adventuring!

If you decide to visit Wolsfeld Woods, be sure to leaf your phone at home and embrace the outdoors! (not really: you should bring your phone to take artistic photos like the ones above, the only difference may be a bit of snow)

How to—wait, just got a notification—not Procrastinate

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by Max Meyer, senior writing coach

I am a master of procrastination, skilled in the art of putting off an important task until I have done everything but that most important thing. Procrastination: the scourge that all of us have probably fallen victim to at some point or another. We know it’s coming, we want to stop it, but we simply can’t. A return to our excuse-making ways often follows our pledges to change our ways.

Due to the prevalence of this problem, I figured I’d draw from my own experiences and try to provide some tips on how to deal with procrastination. 

But first, here are a couple reasons behind our procrastination habits. One reason for procrastination may be that a task can seem daunting. Be it a ten page English paper that you haven’t started, fixing the leaky bathroom faucet, or something else, the sheer magnitude of a project can make it seem unapproachable. Another reason could be one’s inability to stay concentrated for long periods of time. You might figure that since you’ll get distracted soon enough, it might not be worth it to even start. You might have different reasons for procrastination; the reasons above are just a couple of common ones.

Okay, I guess I should tell you about those tips I mentioned earlier.

I don’t remember where I originally saw this, but in my experience, it can be very helpful to get everything you need set up before you begin your work, even if you don’t intend to do it at that minute. It’s been said that getting started is half the effort, so preparing for the task at hand can actually seem to get you halfway there and in turn, make you more likely to start the task itself.  Clear off your desk, open the document on your computer, and read the instructions. You might find yourself wanting to start the assignment! 

Another strategy is to block off your working period into alternating work and break sections. Devoting half an hour of your time to working and then taking a ten minute break can make a long stretch of time seem more manageable. If you’re so inclined you could instead give yourself a break once you finish a certain portion of the task, which might alleviate some of the dauntingness of the task. Give your mind a break by exercising, playing an instrument, or anything else that helps you relax.

One final, crucial tip which I can’t emphasize enough: get rid of distractions! Leave your phone in another room. Close your shades so you don’t get entranced by the neighbor’s dog outside. Less distractions leads to more focus and more completed work.

But hey, procrastination isn’t the end of the world. It’s natural. If you have to procrastinate, at least try to be productive. Go outside and shoot some hoops. Do some less important work. Procrastinating doesn’t have to be all bad.

Well, I’ve got to finish some French homework that’s due today. I hope you’ve found these tips on procrastination helpful and will make use of them! 

Minnesotan Check!

by Ally Chan, junior writing coach

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Let’s face the facts: people from Minnesota are an entirely different species compared with anyone else in the United States. The factors that make us unique unify all Minnesotans with a feeling of pride. Winter is coming, which is the biggest factor that fosters Minnesotan pride and makes us truly who we are. It’s time to discuss the Minnesotan Check to see how much Minnesota is a part of you!

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Let’s talk about winter first and foremost. It is obvious that Minnesotans thrive on the bitter cold. There’s always several people walking to school in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s below zero outside, and a heavy winter coat is not as common as it should be in the freezing Minnesota weather. But if we’re being honest, no one actually cares about the temperature here: windchill is a major factor of concern for us. You’re going to hear complaints if there’s some strong wind coming our way. If you’re able to tough out the long and brutal winter season, even if you’re severely underdressed for the weather, you’re definitely Minnesotan.

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People in Minnesota have a love-hate relationship with the snow. Snow is wonderful, but it lasts from as early as October until late April. We’re lucky to have a snow day even when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. We’ve become so prepared and accustomed to snow that no amount can alarm us now; we’ve seen it all. So, if you’re a high school student living in Minnesota, don’t get your hopes up for a day off from school. It just won’t happen.

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All this talk about snow is a good reminder of the holiday season, which is almost upon us. This means get-togethers with family friends, dozens of holiday parties, and last-minute gift shopping for those you love. You’re bound to hit black ice, heavy snow drifts, and definitely some road construction on the way to the Mall of America to get Caribou and some gift shopping done. As they say, there’s only two seasons in the great state of Minnesota: winter (obviously) and road construction. And if winter construction and traffic doesn’t make you say “uff da,” you should question which state you really come from.

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Speaking of holiday parties, there’s nothing better than spending time with close friends and family and eating amazing food. Tasting delicious homemade foods– maybe even getting a bite out of the infamous Minnesotan tater tot hotdish– is definitely something to look forward to. However, the worst part about holiday parties is saying goodbye: it takes hours to actually get out the door. It’s the classic demonstration of Minnesota Nice: everyone here is too nice to leave when they actually say they will.

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Minnesota may not be the perfect state to live in, but all of these unique factors and more make us who we are. So don’t hold back this winter season—go sledding or skiing with friends, drink more Caribou coffee, stay warm, and don’t be afraid to show your Minnesota pride!

Why I Think Trees Are Cool and Why You Should Also Think That

by Anna Geldert, junior writing coach

Okay everybody, this is really important. I want you to drop everything you’re doing and run to look out the nearest window. Ready? On the count of three. 





What do you see? The sky has turned purple? The alien robots have taken over Earth? There’s a big banner saying November is International Cancel School Month? No, no and, sadly, no. But in your haste to find this dramatic change in the outside world, you probably skipped right over one of Mother Nature’s coolest creations: trees.

That’s right. This blog post is a full 748 words on trees and their unquestionable coolness. Don’t believe me? Fine, good luck photosynthesizing by yourself. Otherwise, keep reading to find out more wild facts about trees.

  • Trees are crucial players in our individual and societal survival

During photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 from the air and release oxygen—essentially, they get rid of the bad stuff we pollute into the air and release the stuff that we need to breathe. So that’s important. Trees can also help us by regulating climate, fertilizing soil, reducing energy usage through shade, providing us with food and resources, and protecting us from natural disasters and ultraviolet radiation . On top of that, trees form a central part of our culture and wellbeing. Trees are considered sacred in almost every religion, and many studies have shown that trees can improve the health of patients in hospitals and reduce crime rates in cities. 

  • Trees come in all shapes and sizes

The sequoia trees in California can measure nearly 400 feet tall, about half the height of the IDS building in Minneapolis. There’s also a tree in Mexico that is 46 feet in diameter, its circumference measuring even longer than its height! On top of that, trees can grow in all sorts of fun, bendy shapes. For example, there is a type of tree on the cliffs of Spain that grows in an arc shape, its branches pointing towards the ground,  due to strong winds coming off the ocean. That baobab trees in Madagascar can be hundreds of feet tall but not grow leaves until the very top, looking almost mystical because of their strange shape.

85711EF0-CB02-4219-B111-506CF9CAD5DF(Baobab trees)

  • Trees can communicate

Trees, with the help of underground fungi, can send each other packets of nutrients and minerals underground through their complex root system. Some trees also have the ability to warn other trees of nearby danger. For example, some trees send out a chemical signal to nearby trees if they start getting munched on by a predator. This tells other trees to release a different chemical for protection. Other scientific studies have revealed evidence that trees communicate other ways as well.

  • Trees can be super colorful

Thought trees were always green beings? Think again! The Japanese maple tree is a brilliant fiery red, and another Japanese native, the Purple Wisteria, looks like a bright purple willow tree. The Rainbow Eucalyptus tree is so colorful it looks like a painting—the bark of the tree itself is a full spectrum of colors, tracing up and down the trunk in stripes.


(Rainbow Eucalyptus tree)

  • Trees can “complain”

I was a little skeptical about this at first, but it’s true: trees produce a special ultrasonic sound in times of drought. This sound occurs as the tree sucks its little remaining water up to its tallest branches under extreme pressure, almost like a super high-pitched scream.

  • Trees can EXPLODE!

Seriously. The sandbox tree, also called the exploding fruit tree or dynamite tree, is native to South America. It contains dried-up seeds imbedded in the bark that, once matured, explode out of the tree at close 230 feet per second, seriously injuring anyone or anything in its path. These seed fragments travel long distances and land in the ground, where more exploding fruit trees will begin to grow.

1858F438-807F-4C13-8BCC-6652F687A85A(exploding fruit tree)

The list above is just a tiny fraction of all of the crazy cool things that trees can do. It doesn’t only apply to fancy tropical trees, either—you’d be amazed by some of the things the trees in your own backyard can do too! With winter coming soon, many trees around here are facing losing their bright and colorful leaves… but that doesn’t mean we have to stop appreciating them. So, next time you look out the window, make sure to take time to admire all the cool trees you see!

Candy Corn, the Roman Empire, and Other Cool Stuff

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by Scott Sorensen, sophomore writing coach

This is not a debate—we all love Halloween. So to save time, I’m not gonna debate how amazing it is. We’ll just jump right into what this blog post is really about—the history of October’s spookiest day.

I originally thought it was pretty simple, but it turns out that Halloween has its origins all over the place. To start with, it doesn’t come from one particular location. It’s a big smoothie of different cultures that all have one thing in common: they all honor the dead. From the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos–an annual day for paying homage to the dead–to All Saints Day in Europe, there are celebrations all over the place. The first traceable origin of Halloween, though, was an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. This was the Celts’ New Year, and also the annual shift into the harsh winter months. On this border between summer and winter, life and death, they believed that the lines between our world and the next blurred. So on October 31st, they celebrated the ghosts of the dead returning to earth. They’d have big bonfires, and dance around them in costumes made from animals they hunted. So here, we found the inspiration for Halloween costumes.

Later on, the Roman Empire barreled through and took over the Celtic lands. As a common strategy, empires encouraged assimilation with people they conquered, so they combined their holidays with those of the new people in order to create a more homogeneous kingdom and overall unity. The Romans were no different. They combined Samhain and older Roman festivals, especially those about the transition between this life and the afterlife. These traditions blossomed over empires and centuries, and the lines between different cultural celebrations became blurred.

Eventually, it evolved into what we now know as Halloween. This leaves us with one last question. How did it get to us, and the rest of America? In colonial days, Because of devoutly Christian immigrants to America, there was little celebrating done each year by colonists. Slowly, though, Halloween began to rise up. It mixed with Native American traditions, just like Celtic ideas did with the Romans, and an American Halloween was born. With the arrival of more and more immigrants who further reinforced our vision, the holiday prospered into its current popularity.

I think that ties up all the loose ends. As for candy corn, I have no explanation. Some dude probably just looked at a candle one day and wondered what it would be like if it tasted good. The history there isn’t my problem, though. I’ll eat my candy corn in peace.

It’s National Dessert Month!

by Tessa Lundheim, junior writing coach

October is such a festive time. The leaves change colors, kids go trick-or-treating, and excitement for Thanksgiving builds up. Now there’s another reason to celebrate because it’s National Dessert Month! October is the perfect time to celebrate desserts. Therefore, what better way to celebrate them than to talk about the origins of some fall classics. 


Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Believe it or not, the first form of pumpkin pie emerged in 1621 from the early American settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. At this time, pumpkin pie didn’t have a crust. It was prepared by filling hollowed-out pumpkin shells with milk, honey, and spices. Then it was baked in hot ashes. Although pumpkin pie seems 100% American, its next appearance was in 1651 when Francois Pierre la Varenne, a famous French chef and author, published a recipe for “tourte of pumpkin” in his cookbook The French Cook (translated to English in 1653). Unlike the recipe from the Plymouth Plantation, Varenne’s recipe finally included a crust. Later, in the 1670s, recipes for “pumpion pie” started popping up in English cookbooks. It wasn’t until 1796 that the pumpkin pie debuted in a truly American cookbook written by Amelia Simmons called American cookery, by an American orphan. Although she called her pie “Pompkin Pudding,” Simmons’s dessert was similar to present-day pumpkin pie.

Click here to learn more!


Candy Corn

Candy Corn

In the 1880s, more than two centuries after the invention of pumpkin pie, a new corn-kernel shaped treat came into existence. The Wunderlee Candy Company claims that candy corn was invented by one of their employees named George Renninger. Therefore, they were the first company to sell the candy. Later, in 1898, the Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly) began to sell candy corn as well. Today, candy corn is obviously made by machines, but when it first emerged, it was made by hand. Whether you hate or love it, there’s no denying that candy corn has become a symbol of fall and Halloween.

Click here to learn more!


Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is a dessert made of fresh apples that are topped with a streusel topping commonly made from oats, brown sugar, butter, spices, and flour. Unlike the pumpkin pie that’s hundreds of years old, the first printed recipe for apple crisp didn’t appear until 1924 in the Everybody’s Cook Book: A Comprehensive Manual of Home Cookery. Nevertheless, nearly 100 years of apple crisp history is no small feat.

Click here to learn more!


Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice

The next dessert, pumpkin spice, isn’t really a dessert, but rather a flavor phenomenon that swept over the nation and was used to season many different types of treats. Pumpkin pie spice was reportedly invented by McCormik’s in 1934. The spice itself includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice, and it’s used as a shortcut for the flavoring of pumpkin pie. However, companies began to use pumpkin pie spice (also known as pumpkin spice) to flavor anything from snack foods and cereals to pet shampoos and alcoholic beverages. As a result, the sale of pumpkin spice products increased by 80% in 2011. Then, Starbucks launched its Pumpkin Pie Spice-Spiked Espresso and its Pumpkin Spice Latte that have been sold hundreds of millions of times in the past decade. I’ve never tried a pumpkin spice beverage from Starbucks because I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin spice. Nevertheless, I can’t help recognizing the spice that has become a fall staple for many people, with 95% of pumpkin pie spice sales occurring between August and November.

Click here to learn more!


Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples

I love caramel apples. Thanks to the rich caramel and tart apples, they’re truly the perfect blend of sweet and sour. Surprisingly, these tasty treats weren’t invented until the 1950s. The idea for caramel apples emerged somewhat by accident when Dan Walker, a sales rep for Kraft Foods, experimented with dipping apples in leftover Halloween candy. Little did he know that his invention would become a widely loved fall dessert. Later, in 1960, Vito Raimondi invented the first automated caramel apple dipping machine with the help of his uncle, William Raimondi. Thanks to Vito Raimondi’s innovation, the Raimondi company is still the leading producer of caramel apples today. 

Click here to learn more!


How will you make this National Dessert Month special? Happy baking!



Constellations to Look for This Fall (and Their Mythologies)

by Erin Brose, junior writing coach

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       If there’s anything that can slow down our frenzied lives, it’s laying out on a crisp fall night, and marveling at the stars. Autumn is a great season to see numerous notable constellations, no matter where you are. And, there are wondrous mythological stories behind each of these twinkling shapes in the sky. I want to share three of these stories with you and encourage you to take a peek at our autumn night sky.

Andromeda Constellation

  1. Andromeda, The Chained Lady

Andromeda was the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia, the rulers of Ethiopia. After Andromeda was born, Cassiopeia proudly boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than anyone else. Hearing this greatly offended Poseidon, who created sea nymphs, and believed that they were the most beautiful beings. Beauty is subjective, right? Angrily, Poseidon created a sea monster, Cetus, to destroy the lands of Ethiopia that Cepheus and Cassiopeia ruled. 

To protect Ethiopia, Cassiopeia sacrificed Andromeda to the sea monster. Andromeda was chained to a rock at the seashore and left to wait for the sea monster. As Cetus approached, Perseus flew in (on his winged sandals from Hermes, of course!) and fought the ravenous sea monster. After rescuing Andromeda, the two got married and Andromeda returned home with Perseus as his queen.

Shape: Depicts a lady flailing her arms as though she’s falling

Neighboring constellations: Pegasus and Cassiopeia

Aquarius Constellation

  1. Aquarius, The Water Bearer

Ganymede is most commonly associated with the Aquarius constellation. Ganymede was the reputedly handsome prince of Dardania. One day, Ganymede’s looks caught the attention of Zeus. Zeus sent his messenger eagle, Aquila, down to earth to bring Ganymede back up to Mount Olympus. On Mount Olympus, Ganymede brought the gods water whenever they needed and also served as cupbearer to Zeus. To honor Ganymede for his service, Zeus placed a constellation called Aquarius, which means water carrier, among the stars.

Shape: Depicts a man pouring a bucket of water

Neighboring constellations: Aquila, Capricornus

Capricorn Constellation

  1. Capricornus, The Sea Goat

Cronus, the god of time, was once told by an oracle that one of his sons would grow up to be very strong and eventually kill him in battle. Cronus began ordering that every son born of him be killed, and he would even swallow some of his sons after they were born. In order to protect her son from his father Cronus, Zeus’ mother gave Zeus to some sea nymphs and ordered that they take him far away and raise him safely. The sea nymphs brought a special goat Amalthea to nurse Zeus. As Zeus grew older, Amalthea became a playmate and companion. 

One day, as Zeus was playing with Amalthea, he broke off one of her horns. Zeus took this as a sign that he was supposed to break off his relationship with Amalthea and the sea nymphs and go fight his father, Cronus. Zeus defeated Cronus and was now the king of the gods.  The first thing he did as king was place the constellation Capricorn in the heavens in honor of Amalthea and the sea nymphs who had raised him. 

Shape: Depicts the front half of a goat and the tail of a fish

Neighboring constellations: Pisces, Aquarius

Stargazing Tips:

  1. Cover your phone flashlight with red paper so your eyes can stay adjusted to the dark! Any harsh light can impair your night vision.
  2. Download and print out the star chart linked below. Or you can use a snazzy app such as Sky Guide.  http://www.aosny.org/Starwheel.pdf
  3. Use binoculars to get a better view. Take a look at the moon and its craters too! You can find cheap ones at Target that work well.

So get out your binoculars and blankets, grab your friends, and go look at the stars! (Snacks would be good too)

You Are So Enough.

by Jeana Schafer, senior writing coach

The 2019-20 school year’s first coach blogpost? Yikes. That’s almost as spooky as October! 

You know what’s also spooky? I thought I would come into this knowing exactly what I wanted to write; I brainstormed and even drafted a few ideas, but none of them felt worthy of being the first.


Alright, I’ll admit it: I am a perfectionist. I put unbelievable pressure on myself to not only get things done but to do them right, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. There are times where I cannot get myself to start an assignment because I know I am not in the mindset to do it right.

But… what defines “right”? 

It’s interesting, isn’t it? We as human put so much pressure on ourselves when we already have numerous external pressures to deal with. Maybe you don’t concern yourself as much with academics, but I bet the mistakes you make in your sport hit hard. Or maybe you don’t prefer athletics, but you are haunted by those few off-key notes during a musical performance, whether it be band, choir, or orchestra. Maybe you’re out of high school and trying to pretend, like every other adult, that you know what you’re doing, and sometimes you struggle. 


Take a moment to think about the ways you unfairly treat yourself when you make mistakes in areas that are important to you. Think about how much effort you put into trying, and the stress you place on yourself to practice until you get it right.

Self-improvement is important, and I believe that a little bit of pressure does wonders for motivation, but there’s a limit. Wanting to be good is one thing, and wanting to improve is admirable. The part I feel many of us get caught up in is the difference between excellence and perfection.

Perfection is a concept that does not exist in reality because it is too malleable to individual perception. You are perfect because you are you, but you will drive yourself crazy if you always strive for perfection. Your perception of perfection will always change as you improve and develop a deeper understanding in the mastery of your art. Just trust me on that; nothing stops the bar from raising higher.J3

Take pride in what you do; give yourself some credit where it truly is deserved. If you’re like me, it probably takes a lot for you to tell yourself, “You know what? I did good.” 

It took me a long time to realize that I judge myself far more harshly than anyone else, and inversely, I’m far easier on others than they are on themselves. It’s something to work on, for sure… writing this out has certainly been a step along the right path.

I’ll say this: You already are perfect because you give what you can give in the moment, even if you don’t believe that what you give is perfect. I can’t fully internalize that statement, and that’s okay. Maybe it’s more realistic to say instead, “Mistakes are not failures. Nobody’s perfect, but the best people learn from their mistakes.”


I have full confidence that this blogpost isn’t perfect…but really, who gets to decide that? 

So… you know what? I did good. 

Now it’s your turn to go out there and believe in yourself, no matter how little or how much you can give. It’s enough.

You are enough.