An Ode to Seniors

by Jeana Schafer, senior writing coach

Seniors, both this year’s class of 2020 and our upcoming class of 2021 seniors, this is for you.

As I sit at home for day number who’s-counting-anyways, I can’t help myself from thinking about the senior experiences that would have been happening in these very moments. 

In late March, I mourned my final high school robotics season and track and field season. Through May, as IB exams were cancelled and AP exams were moved online, I felt both cheated and like I had cheated by not taking those exams as I normally would. On May 16th, my phone blew up with texts from my friends about the prom we would have been getting ready for that day. 

Then there are the events that have yet to occur, but we know in our hearts they may not come to pass. 

Graduation was postponed from June 9th to July 28th, but I’m finding it difficult to remain optimistic that we will be allowed a gathering in the thousands for our class of 800+ and their families to celebrate. College orientations are being cancelled and moved online. Some colleges have already moved the curriculum online for fall; others decided to open…and the rest of us wait anxiously to see if our first college experience will be on-campus or in our own homes.

Class of 2020, I am giving you a moment right now to think about everything you were looking forward to in senior year but were unable to attend or participate in or do in general. My friends, let yourself grieve.

I know unemployment rates are high. I know some people in the world are facing the pandemic without safe drinking water. I know a lot of us at this high school are privileged to have the safety of a home during this and few financial concerns that many others are facing.

I know. 

But another person’s hardship does not take away from your own loss. Be charitable and kind through this, of course, but don’t invalidate your own feelings by telling yourself the things you’ve been dreaming of for the last four years—or more—are unimportant in comparison.

Are they important to you?

Then, it’s settled. Give yourself a chance to feel the loss…because hoping for something, taking for granted that it will happen, and then coming to realize that some major, unexpected event has taken it away from you? That’s hard. That’s hard for anyone. Prom and graduation may seem superficial in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the broken dreams and shattered expectations tied to those events that make them so much more difficult to miss.

As for my dear class of 2021, I want you to know that you can mourn, too. You probably loaded your junior-year schedule with some of the toughest classes you’ve taken to get colleges to notice you more. I’m sure you know most colleges are erasing this 2020 semester from their applicants’ record. I would be horrified if I were a junior through this for that very reason, and because I fear the pandemic will still be around long enough to take away some of your senior experiences as well. 

It’s okay to be frustrated, sad, and scared. We all are for our own reasons.

But above all, I deeply hope that everyone will continue to dream for the future. A lot has been missed this year, but the lesson here is not that we should stop hoping and save ourselves the disappointment (where’s the joy in a world without hope?); it’s to stop taking anything for granted and roll with the punches.

With that, I wish everyone strength, health, and luck as we all move through this pandemic to the next stages of our life. 

There is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Keep hoping for it.

Live, Laugh, Leif

kj5by Karsten Johnson, senior writing coach

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, there is a very small chance you know about Leif Erikson. Let’s be even more honest, if you do somehow know about the glory of Leif Erikson, you probably learned about it from everyone’s favorite talking sponge. Continuing this trend of honesty, my first experience with Leif Erikson was on SpongeBob Season 2, Episode 23. Leif Erikson Day is an extremely undervalued holiday, and I believe that it’s story deserves telling.


Forget about Christopher Columbus and start getting hyped for the earliest recorded European to set foot on continental North America! That’s right, Leif Erikson, a humble viking from Greenland, actually arrived 500 years before Columbus. How did Leif end up in this wild and wacky situation? Well, Leif and his family were excellent at two things: getting banished and being blown off course by the wind.

Leif’s father, Erik the Red, was banished from Iceland for murder. As the story goes, Erik’s thralls started a landslide on his neighbor’s land, in retaliation, the neighbor, Valthjof, had his friend, Eyoilf the Foul, kill the thralls. Erik the Red, orange with anger, slayed Eyolf and was dutifully banished. During his exile, Erik became the first permanent settler of Greenland, and Eyoilf was known to history as “The Foul”. Leif Erikson’s grandfather, Thorvald Asvaldsson—super cool name—got banished from Norway for unknown amounts of manslaughter which King Haakon declared was “not super cool”.

Leif’s journey began when he sailed for Norway in 999, but on his way, he was blown off course. He ended up on an island near Scotland and had to spend much of the summer there due to storms. After finally making it to Norway, Leif quickly managed to swear fealty to the King Olaf Tryggvason, convert to Christianity, and promise to convert the rest of the norsemen in Greenland to Christianity. It was on Leif’s return trip to Greenland that he was blown off course, but this time, for the better. Leif took a few wrong turns and ended up in modern day Canada. Leif named this land “Vinland” after the grapes that inhabited the coastline. After returning to Greenland, Leif managed to convert his mother, but not his unbanished father to Christianity. Eventually, Leif returned to Vinland and formed the first permanent, recorded settlement in North America. 

Due to his accomplishments of getting lost and then naming the land, “Leif Erikson Day” was created as an official US Holiday in 1964. To quote SpongeBob, “HINGA DINGA DURGEN” and have a fantastic Leif Erikson celebration.

Tired of boring food? … Let’s kick it up a notch!


by Tyler Wasielewski, sophomore writing coach

Imagine: You’ve just eaten the spiciest food you can tolerate and you can already sense the heat coming on. Your hands and forehead become sweaty as you feel a fiery inferno of flames swelling and burning your tongue and lips. You reach for the milk and drink away until the burning is reduced to nothing more than smoldering coals and lingering pain poking around in your mouth. This is the experience that many spice-addicts such as myself undergo when pushing our spice limits. Now I know you may be wondering: “Why would I ever put myself through that? That’s crazy!” And to that, I would say, Yes! It certainly is crazy to be putting my face through such a hellish experience but it’s an invigorating experience that people have been pursuing and enjoying for at least 6000 years!

While they may have become very common throughout the world, chili peppers are a fruit native to Mexico, where they were grown in tropical heat and humidity of the southern hemisphere. Early civilizations used the peppers in their foods and it spread throughout the South American continent, influencing many of the foods we know today. It wasn’t until the arrival of Christopher Columbus that the peppers finally moved from the New World into the Old. Many southern and southeastern Asian countries had already been familiar with different spices such as black pepper and ginger, so the peppers were integrated into the cuisine very easily. These new chilies were consumed in dishes such as curries or Sichuan style meals.

The wonderful heat of peppers can be attributed to the sinister compound found in the seeds of the peppers:  C18H27NO3 otherwise known as capsaicin. Capsaicin is the little devil that triggers your temperature receptors in your tongue and causes the burning sensation we all know and love… or hate. While the brain may believe your tongue is going up into flames, there is no actual burning going on, it’s all just an illusion caused by the compound. As you begin to feel the burn, your brain releases endorphins to help relieve the pain. This is what causes a feeling of euphoria for many spice-lovers and is part of the reason why we keep coming back for more. According to a Harvard University study on the evolution of chili peppers, pepper plants developed this compound in the seeds of their fruits as a defense mechanism against rodents. Much like humans, rodents have the same temperature receptors in their tongues, so they experience the same pain as we do! However, birds do not have these same receptors. The plants evolved in such a way that their fruits would ward away rodents who would mash the seeds with their molars but would allow for birds, who would eat the seeds whole, to act as the perfect vessels to spread the seeds around the area.

Although we as humans will not be spreading the seeds, we can still enjoy the invigorating heat of the peppers. While it is important to try new things, it is also important to know your limits when it comes to spice. So, here are some tips as you begin or continue your spicy adventure:

  1. Drink milk, not water – Capsaicin is a hydrophobic compound so it will actually repel any water you try to drink. However, the substance is fat-soluble and will wash out with the fat inside of milk.
  2. Eat starchy food – Foods such as bread, rice, or potatoes will provide a barrier between your tongue and the capsaicin. These foods will also absorb some of the fat-soluble compound.
  3. Eat slowly! – While you may be lengthening out the duration of the pain, you decrease the overall intensity of the pepper.
  4. Work your way up to the spicier foods – Peppers are ranked through units called Scoville heat units. The higher the amount of Scovilles in a pepper, the hotter it is. The hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper, is about 1.4 million – 2.2million Scovilles, whereas something like a jalapeño is 2.5k – 8k Scovilles. So pace yourself! The peppers don’t get hotter but your tolerance gets higher!

So good luck on your venture into the world of spice and push your limits! Listen to what I’m capsaisayin’ and you won’t regret it!

Adams, Cat. “Science in the News.” Science in the News, Harvard University, 29 Nov. 2012, Accessed 20 Apr. 2020.

Prince: A Mini-Biography and Fun Facts

by Emma Komis, sophomore writing coach

CBS to air Prince tribute concert with Beck, Usher, John Legend

Prince performs “Purple Rain” as the opening act during the 46th Annual Grammy Awards show on Feb. 8, 2004, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Four years ago this past Tuesday, April 21st, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist known as Prince passed away. Many of you reading this not only know of Prince, but know his music and his life. But others might not. Prince? You ask. Is he royalty? Not officially, but in the world of rock and roll he is. I’ve created a small biography of his life to fill you in, with some lesser-known facts written in bold for those of you looking for a quick skim.

Prince was born as Prince Rogers Nelson in 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Many assume that the name Prince was a stage name, but in reality, his first and legal name was Prince. Although, he did wish to be called Skipper at a young age. Born into a musical family, Prince’s mother was a Jazz singer and his father a pianist and songwriter, but they divorced when he was 10 and he bounced from house to house, occasionally going to stay with friends when he wasn’t welcome at his parent’s houses. Despite this, Prince managed to write his first song at the age of 7, called “Funk Machine”. From then and on, his unique set of skills in music helped him land his first record deal at the age of 19. He created the record “For You”, followed by “Prince”, “Dirty Mind”, “Controversy”, and “1999” before the famous album “Purple Rain” was released along with the film. He changed his name to the symbol in 1993, which was considered the “love symbol”. He later changed it back to Prince in 2000. He then continued to release albums, slowly and rightfully becoming known as one of the best musical artists of all time. He won 7 Grammy Awards, 7 Brit Awards, 1 Academy Award, 1 Golden Globe, 4 MTV video music awards, 6 American Music Award, and was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame. It’s well known that Prince was a great musician, but it is less well known that he is involuntarily responsible for the “parental advisory” label that so many of us see on music today. This is because his song “Darling Nikki”, which deals with sexual topics, was heard by the mother of a young prince fan. She became concerned about the music that the younger generation was listening to, created a parent organization, and petitioned the Recording Industry Association of America to put warning labels on suggestive music. It is also not well known that Andy Warhol, a famous artist, painted 12 paintings depicting Prince

         Prince passed away April 21st, 2016 by an accidental fentanyl overdose. He was only 57 and died right here in Minnesota at Paisley Park, his home and recording studio. Prince stayed true to his Minnesota roots throughout his whole life and brought the world abundant music during his lifetime. He often dealt with controversial topics such as sexuality, gender, race, life, and death in his music. He pushed boundaries and redefined the term Rock and Roll for the world.


Works Cited

Paulson, Ken. “Prince Gave Us the ‘parental Advisory’ Label: Column.” USA TODAY, 2016, Accessed 22 Apr. 2020.

Wikipedia Contributors. “Prince (Musician).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Mar. 2019, Accessed 21 Apr. 2020.

How to Deal with Rejection

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by Kiana Yusefzadeh, junior writing coach

Whether it’s applying to college or trying to make a sports team, at some point in time, everyone gets rejected. It’s especially difficult if it happens after investing a ton of time and energy and focusing on one thing for so long. Not only that, it’s easy to see rejection as a reflection of who you are as a person. 

Earlier this year, I had a goal I set my mind to. I worked really hard to get a place in a summer program and was determined to get in. When I got the letter saying that I wasn’t accepted, I was devastated. For me, getting into that summer program would have been validation for all my hard work, and in just a few words, I felt completely dejected. After a few days of feeling blue, I told myself it would be easy to slip into this abyss of feeling bad about myself. I tried to turn things around and shift my paradigm about what rejection meant. What I found is a way to perceive rejection so that it turns into something productive, instead of making people feel horribly. While rejection might hurt at first, it can transform into something that puts you on a better track for life. Here are a few ideas that helped me get through rejection and turn it into something advantageous. 

First, it’s important to realize that you are not the first person ever to get rejected, and just because you got rejected this time, it doesn’t reflect upon your talent. For example, the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, was rejected 12 times by different editors when trying to get her first book published. It wasn’t until she went to a 13th editor that she finally got a chance. She went on to become very successful, so it’s hard to believe that she was turned down so extensively. It’s important to remember that just because one person, or 12, doesn’t accept your work, it doesn’t mean you aren’t talented or can’t become successful. Even the best of us get rejected, so we shouldn’t let the opinion of a few decide whether our work is worthy or not. 

Something that also helped me was a Taoist story about a farmer that was in a book called Zen Ties that I read when I was younger.  The story says that a farmer’s son tried to ride a horse, but broke one of his legs, which the farmer’s neighbors saw as bad luck, but the farmer responded with “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t”. Then, when the army came into town to draft young men for the war, the son wasn’t drafted because he had just broken his leg. The point I’m trying to make is that the farmer’s attitude about what happened to him should be one that we apply to rejection. While rejection might be considered bad luck, it might actually become good luck in some  way. 

After I was rejected at the summer program, I took the story to heart and applied to other summer programs, and a lot of good came out of it. Instead, I got into another amazing program that I wouldn’t have applied for if I had gotten into the other one. And who knows, maybe that will lead me somewhere I never would have gone if I hadn’t expanded my options.

Overall, having all these things in mind, rejection doesn’t have to be something we dread. It happens to everyone and it might even have to do with something out of your control in the first place. Even though it hurts, if we keep a mindset that it can actually lead to a better outcome, we can use rejection as fuel to reach our goals, sometimes by a different path than we expected. 

Voyage 4: Quarantine

This will be our simplest voyage prompt: go outside!

In light of the quarantine situation, we are all getting a little stir-crazy with a strong case of cabin fever! As we have been encouraging you all to get outside throughout the year, we are back to share the importance of fresh air yet again! Unfortunately, we were not able to get together for an adventure, but we have both made getting outside part of our routines during this wild time. Here, we hope to share some ideas and inspiration to get out of the house!

Also, we want to quickly mention that we know e-learning has begun but there still should be plenty of time in your schedule to make sure you are getting your vitamin D out in the sun!

1. Go for a walk (or a run) (or a bike ride)

Trek to the top: If going for a walk is something new for you, use this time to explore what’s around you and you’re sure to find some surprises! We are lucky to have over 1,300 miles of state trails in Minnesota, so chances are, you can find a trail near you. I have made it my goal to be outside for at least 1 hour everyday, which is much more challenging during a pandemic than usual. Starting my day with a run in the morning and following up with a walk in the afternoon have helped loads. If running is something new you’ve always wanted to try, there are lots of resources online to build up your muscle to daily running, and now is definitely the perfect time to try it! 

I’ve been excited to see lots more people out for walks and runs since this all started and I am always sure to greet everyone with a smile. People are very respectful of distancing even while outside, and it is easy to move to the opposite side of the road when you see someone else approaching. 

2. Tent or hammock in yard

Fresh air: As spring approaches, a certain excitement is in the air. Green shoots are starting to stretch towards the sun, which is now appearing more and more often to grace us with regular days with temperatures above freezing. Like true Minnesotans, we see this as the perfect opportunity to hang up the hammocks or set up a tent. While the uncertainty of everything going on can become overwhelming and stressful, some time laying in a tent or hammock can make it all feel a little more normal. Breathe in some fresh air while enjoying that book you’ve been meaning to read. Or, write the next Great American novel. Or, just lay there and relax. 

3. Chalk art 

Rocks and Roots: Whether you are artistic or not, getting outside and creating artwork out of chalk is fun for all ages. All you really need is a surface (likely a driveway or sidewalk) and chalk. Optionally grab a few of your family members or else use this time to be on your own, and draw whatever comes to mind. 

But you might be thinking, what if I can’t draw and am terrible at being artistic?

First off: have a good attitude about it. Your drawing doesn’t have to be good, it’s all about getting outdoors and having fun. But, if you are still struggling, here are a few ideas on what to start out drawing in chalk (coming from a similarly struggling beginning artist): 

  • The classic flower, it’s simple, yet can be extravagant if you want it to be.
  • A portrait of your family member. Why not? They might be excited about it, and in quarantine it’s nice to have things to be excited about.
  • Cool words. Practice bubble letters, or cursive.
  • If you have a sidewalk nearby and you are able to avoid people for a short period of time to draw, write positive messages so that anyone out on a walk can enjoy them!

4. Old sports equipment

Lace Up: Maybe you used to play lacrosse, or soccer, and if you still have this equipment just sitting in your garage, try it out! If you find a frisbee, force your sibling or parent out of the house to try playing ultimate. Or if there is a pair of old roller blades, find an isolated spot near your house to give them a spin. If you’re like us, there are plenty of random things in your garage just waiting for you to find. 

5. Picnic outside using new found cooking skills

Compass: The place for your picnic is simple: your backyard or any grassy spot you have access to in quarantine. No need for much traveling, which makes this picnic fairly convenient. Now that you have a place in mind, all you need is food, and with all this time on your hands, we recommend trying out a new recipe or experimenting with different ingredients in your household. Potential ideas (that we have recently been trying): 

  • Iced coffee-add a new twist, like vanilla or oat milk. And if you are really a coffee connoisseur check out how to make all the classic italian espresso drinks.
  • Bake something, for example, scones. Scones aren’t too difficult to make but just enough of a challenge that you are sure to impress everyone at your picnic (even if it’s just yourself).
  • Homemade pasta. Incredibly good, like so good. We highly recommend it.
  • Expand your horizons and look for recipes from different cuisines. For example, we recently made curry, something that I had no idea how to make beforehand. 

6. Sun Bathe

Sunny Day: So, your plans for spring break might have gotten cancelled. 😦 But that doesn’t mean that you won’t get to see the sun at all! While we do have lots of rain in the forecast, there are also plenty of sunny moments when you can stretch out in the sun! Pull out a lawn chair and really relish the 50 degree weather we’re getting soon! Maybe even wear short sleeves and get a little tan, you never know! 

7. Go outside with your family

Happy Campers: Friendships and being around people is incredibly important when faced with the difficulty of something like a worldwide pandemic. As we have mentioned a lot throughout this blog, being outside and being around others is an essential part of our lives. While right now we aren’t able to see our friends, it is still good to be around the people you are quarantined with, which is likely your family. So make sure that you are connecting with family, as with so much time given to us, it’s important we don’t take it for granted and actually make use of this time to get outdoors with family. Yes, that’s possibly the most simple idea we have on this list, but that’s because getting outside doesn’t need to be complex. Being in the sun with others is all you need to stay a little more sane in these uncertain times.

These ideas will let you have the quaran[time] of your life!! (safely while social distancing of course)

Book Review: Little Women

Little Women The Original Classic Novel Featuring Photos From Film ...

by Leyden Streed, junior writing coach

When I found out they were producing another Little Women movie, I was overjoyed, as I recalled the fond memories I had with the book. I read the kids version of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott when I was around eight. I quickly became deeply invested in the story, specifically the main character Jo, who was a writer, as I considered myself. The story follows the four March sisters as they grow up in a world with endless expectations and limited opportunities for women. It is based during the Civil War, and with their father in the war, the sisters and their mother must support each other. The girls have their own distinct personalities and their own struggles that come with that. Meg, the oldest, is the most motherlike and struggles most with finding her place in society. Jo is the tomboy of the family, an ambitious wild child. Beth is the angel, sweet and shy, always playing the piano and caring for others. Amy, the youngest, cares the most about how others see her, often getting herself into trouble. 

There are many lessons taught, mainly by their mother, Marmee. The family is not rich, but learn to be thankful for the things they have, and the people they love. It is filled with sweet childhood stories and their transition into adulthood. One of the most distinct relationships is that of the girls and their neighbor Laurie. Jo and Laurie quickly become good friends, both with spirited and adventurous personalities. They go on countless adventures as children and learn the value of friendship as they get older. It reminds you to treasure your youth, and not rush through it. Reading it when I was younger, everything that happened to the characters I would take personally. You begin to feel that you’re part of the March family, and relate it to your own life.

When watching the trailer for the new Little Women movie, everything suddenly came back to me, like the story had been sitting inside me and now suddenly applied to my life again. I knew I had to read it again before I watched the movie, so I sat down and read it all over again. 

Reading it at a completely different time in my life, I picked up the same playful feeling I did the first time I read it, but I also started to realize the bigger themes in the book. As a kid, I read it as a basic coming of age story, but it discusses more than just friendship and love. It talks about class, morality, loss, and women’s roles in society. The main character, Jo, is constantly challenging society’s expectations of her, independently supporting her family and doing what she loved, not living to please others. She is described as “hot-tempered”, always standing up for what she believes in. In the 19th century, women were not allowed to show their anger. 

Luisa May Alcott herself was a radical. She was a feminist and an abolitionist and related most with Jo. Like Jo, she did not write to please, especially when writing her ending (no spoilers though). She wrote what she felt was true, and didn’t care what others said about it. Alcott cleverly creates a classic story of feminism and human rights, hidden in a children’s novel.

For this reason, Little Women has resonated with so many different generations. It is a modern story of people breaking barriers and staying true to who they are. I recommend everyone to read it at least once, no matter what point of your life you are in. I think you’ll find the stories refreshing, and learn a lot from them as well. Along with reading the book, I would recommend the new Little Women movie that recently came out in theaters. It does a great job of capturing the modernity of the story, while still keeping true to the book. 

30 Things You Can Do During Quarantine…Get Productive!


By Kyla Fung, Sophomore Writing Coach

Now, I think we can all agree that at some point, we’ve all wasted our time watching countless television shows, Youtube videos, or just plainly scrolling through social media for hours on end, in an attempt to fill all the free time we have. 

As schools are closed, sports seasons cut short, concerts postponed, sporting events canceled, malls are shut down, and now a shelter-in-place order in effect, many of us can agree that we are running out of things to do and are slowly spiraling deeper into a never ending cycle of boredom and laziness. 


Lucy’s post last week highlighted some wonderful ways to stay busy during this time, and I thought I’d add to that list as we will all be quarantined for quite some time longer. 


Instead of sleeping and lying on your bed all day, you have the choice of actually getting up and using this time to your advantage – and do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do with a busy schedule. 


What is there to do while stuck in quarantine?


Here are 30 things you could do during quarantine:



    1. Learn a new skill. There are always new things to learn and experience, and this can help you grow and learn more about yourself. Plus, you will never know what you are talented at unless you try. You may even find a new favorite hobby! There are so new many things to learn –  such as how to knit, crochet, dance, draw, paint, rock climb, fish, cook, and more. 
    2. Take a (free!) online course. Websites such as Coursera and EdX are great options to take free online courses – they have a variety of courses from classes about climate change, AP classes, economics, engineering, creative writing – even a course about the Coronavirus! You could even browse around and see if there are any topics that interest you, it’s definitely worth taking a look at. You could also take a look at this site: 24 Free Online Ivy League Courses You Can Sign Up for Today (Regardless of Your GPA):
    3. Learn a new language. With all our free time, this is a great opportunity to start learning a new language or building upon the language you are currently taking in school. Coursera and EdX have structured, week-long courses on learning new languages. Or, you could try downloading some language learning apps such as Beelingual or Duolingo.
    4. Write something to your future self –  You could write a letter to your future self – either the old fashion way on paper, or you could use this website to send it through email You can write your email, decide when you want to receive it, and the website does the rest! 
    5. Write a letter to others send handmade cards to relatives or friends to cheer them up! A thoughtful handmade card can make a person’s day and show how much you care for them!
    6. DIY projects take a look through Pinterest for inspiration, or try using this website: to find projects to work on! 
    7. Read a book – Try searching up some books to read based on your preferences, and make a list of a couple of books you want to read by the end of the year. 
    8. Journal It’s not a bad idea to journal a bit and record what’s been happening recently. Then you can look back on it in the future and see how much things have changed!
    9. Write a story – It’s time to start writing that story you’ve always wanted to but never had time to. Whether it’s a scary story or something funny, just get your ideas onto paper and start writing!
    10. Start a blog – If you’re super bored and enjoy writing, maybe starting a blog would be just the thing you needed to do.  Here’s a useful site for how to get started:
    11. Facetime/Video chat with friends/family 
    12. Create your own video – it can be anything from animations to fan edits to covers of your favorite songs! Let your creativity flow and explore what the world of technology has to offer. 
    13. Have a self-care day – Do something to refresh and renew yourself – whether that’s taking a long bath or doing an at-home spa. During this time, it’s especially important to keep taking care of yourself and treat yourself to something nice!
    14. Turn Your Hobbies into Cash – Make a list of the talents you have and offer to hire out for them. Things like drawings, crocheted/knitted items, etc. can be sold on platforms such as Etsy or Amazon.  
    15. Make and sell your designs – If you’re the artsy type (or even if you just want to try something new) this would be a great option. Create your own designs, then upload them to sites such as Redbubble or Cafepress. These sites will print ordered designs on items such as t-shirts, stickers, tote bags, notebooks, mugs, iPad/phone covers, etc. They even take care of shipping and returns!! When someone orders an item with your design on it, you get paid a certain percentage from the sale. (I personally recommend Redbubble – it’s completely free to start, and it’s incredibly easy to use)
    16. Bond with your family: play a board game, catch up on life, etc.  
    17. Do yoga/meditate
    18. Do a deep cleaning around the house even though you may not want to do it, there’s no better time to clean than now, when you have an insane amount of free time. Plus, you’re gonna need to do it eventually, so…just do it! 
    19. Practice your instrument If you play an instrument, find a song or piece that you’ve always wanted to play and start practicing! Set a designated time each day for practice, and you could focus on improving technique and developing new skills during your practice.
    20. Go for a bike ride
    21. Go for a walk/run – you can track your run using apps such as Adidas Running. If you want, you could set goals for yourself and challenge yourself to run a certain distance each day.
    22. Workout at home – it’s important to stay active, and there are tons of videos and resources for you to do your own workout at home. (You can find workout videos on Youtube, or download an app)
    23. Play with your pet.
    24. Watch the sunset or sunrise.
    25. Organize. Take a look at your room/workspace…you could even do a room makeover!
    26. Get rid of your clutter. Most people have way too much clutter – start getting rid of some of it!
    27. Cook/Bake: Try a new recipe or bake some cookies for your family to enjoy 🙂 You could even experiment and maybe create your own recipe…
    28. Fix something around your home. Pretty much everyone has something that’s broken in their house. Spend some of your spare time and finally fix it!
    29. Donate: If you have spare supplies, you can donate it to others who are desperately in need. You can also find many organizations collecting funds to provide supplies and/or protective equipment to health workers across the world. 
    30. Resell old items take a look around your house and find anything you no longer use – you can try selling it on different resale sites like eBay or Etsy. Reselling old items is a good way of making some extra cash while getting rid of things you don’t use anymore. 



Whether you choose to hit everything on this list or just a few, I hope you discover productivity and perhaps even a new hobby in this strange season! 

Guest Post: Anna Sundbo’s Writing Center Journey

By Anna Sundbo, MHS ’09 alumna and former writing coach

My Writing Center career started in Minnetonka, when I was fortunate enough to interview a professional chemist and writer on stage during the Off the Page Event in 2009, in the spring before my graduation. When I attended my undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, one of my professors nominated me to apply to work with the ND Writing Center. I interviewed as a freshman, and recall leaving the interview thinking, “I have never wanted anything in my life as much as I want this job”. Fortunately, it worked out in my favor and I was hired on as a peer tutor. I worked at the Writing Center for about ten hours per week, from the time I was a sophomore through the end of my senior year. When I returned to Notre Dame to complete my master’s degree, I was welcomed back as the Graduate Assistant Director and a peer tutor for graduate students. 

I have often said that my work at the ND Writing Center was my favorite part of my college experience. I was overloaded in classwork, so peer tutoring was my primary extracurricular activity. The other writing tutors made up my quirky, off-beat, extremely awesome family. We studied together, read each other’s papers, ate pizza at monthly staff meetings, went Christmas caroling together, and held field day events when the weather warmed up each spring. The other tutors became like brothers and sisters, with a thousand different interests and a spirit of mutual respect and support. Through them I learned many things, but most importantly they taught me about conducting independent research, applying for grants, and presenting at conferences and in journals. During my four years of working with the Writing Center, my research took to San Diego, Miami, London, and Galway to discuss everything from “peer tutoring as speed dating” to the burden of supporting students struggling to cope with stress caused by their writing assignments. 

As colleges and universities expand and grow, I hope that more and more of them will comprehend the value of Writing Centers to both tutors and students, and hopefully develop Centers (almost) as special as the one at Notre Dame. Just as importantly, I would encourage any Skipper grad who is attending a college or university to visit your campus Writing Center – bring in an assignment, engage in meaningful dialogue, or maybe even apply for a job. Participating in the world of Writing Centers can be meaningful in ways that remain with you long after graduation. 

 Go, (Writing) Irish! 

Anna Sundbo (Minnetonka High School, Class of 2009) 

Bored? Me too!


by Lucy Bittell, sophomore writing coach

If you’re anything like me, you are probably bored out of your mind considering there’s no school and everything’s been cancelled, and most of us are stuck in our houses all day long. Throughout my personal boredom I came up with a few ideas to pass the time while having a good time. 

  1. Crafting. – This might sound boring or childish or something you did in elementary school, but I promise crafting is the way to go! Yesterday I dug up some of my old crafts and I found AQUABEADS. Best. Craft. Ever. Seriously they are so fun and it was so great to pass the time. I’ve also been drawing and painting a whole bunch and even though I’m not good at it whatsoever it’s still perfect to keep me occupied and ~improve~ my “art.”
  2. Outdoors! – Although we are “stuck at home,” it’s been pretty nice weather. And when it’s not, build a snowman. Go get a tan in our amazing UV of 4, especially if your spring break got cancelled. I know I’ve been looking pretty pale and could use some nice Vitamin D. Go for a walk or a run and get that built up energy and feeling of discomfort out of your system. 
  3. Old games. – This one’s probably my favorite: go into your scary basement closet or a big bin of old stuff and dig around for a while. Go get your old Wii out, connect it, and play Just Dance. Personally, I found my sister’s old DS and I’ve been playing Wizards of Waverly Place. Quite entertaining. You have no idea what you’re gonna find. 
  4. Force your family to spend time with you. – I usually isolate myself from my family and hide in my room all day, but I think it’s fun every once in a while to shake it up a little and get in my parents’ way and annoy them. It just feels like the right thing to do when we are all stuck in the house. Some of my favorite things to do while bugging my family are making them watch movies with me, getting in their way so that they have to hangout with me, and continuously asking them dumb questions about everything in sight. 

All of these ideas are quite basic and some cliché, but how could I resist?! Especially in a time like this, we all need SOMETHING to do. Whether it’s laying in your bed all day or doing something productive, it doesn’t really matter because it seems like the whole world is on a pause.