Time to celebrate: end of semester recipes!


Loaded nacho grilled cheese – one of many post-finals celebratory recipes to choose from.

by Mei Gong, sophomore writing coach

ATTENTION ALL MINNETONKA STUDENTS: first semester is ending and we are halfway there! (I’ll leave it up to you whether all those capital letters and that exclamation point were there for excitement or alarm.)

I would love to write a blog post about the ending semester that’s perfectly nostalgic and sentimental the whole way through…but, unfortunately, sweet emotional writing isn’t one of my strengths. However, making food is. I recognize that this isn’t the case for everyone, but even if you don’t cook, hopefully even just the ideas of these recipes can help with your semester switch sorrows (or high school completion progress pep)! Just click on the names of each dish for the link to the recipes.

For the freshman finally figuring things out:

Congratulations! You made it this far and I feel that’s something worth celebrating. Might I recommend some Filet Mignon and Balsamic Strawberries? No? Okay, so maybe that recipe is kind of complex. And time consuming. And expensive. Well, you and your family could always celebrate with some lemon cake instead.

For the sophomore just cruising along:

Surprisingly, this isn’t too bad, right? We’re getting the hang of all this high school craziness. You know what else is, surprisingly, not too bad? This recipe for loaded nacho grilled cheese sandwiches. Initially, I was doubtful that it’d be worth the effort, but I made a simplified version and the taco seasoning definitely adds a nice flare, bringing the sandwich way above my low expectations for a mere grilled cheese.

For the junior swamped with work:

It’s okay guys, school is hard. But I know you can make it! Here’s a superfood casserole to keep your body at its prime and your immune system humming. Of course, if the taste of these potent veggies makes you feel sick, it’s kind of counterproductive. If that’s the case, this comforting beef stew should do the trick.

For the senior who can’t wait for the next step:

Why wait for your favorite summer treats? Science might keep you from traveling to the future, but if you really, really want it to be summer, nothing’s stopping you from at least getting in the mood. Sure, summer classics like watermelon and berries aren’t exactly in season, and it might be hard to get the grill going in this weather, but we can’t let that stop us! Rapid fire, here’s some sweet tea, light chicken salad, and ice cream. Enjoy!

Tips for keeping your sanity with approaching finals


Boy studying

from chaimommas.com

by Morgan Ambourn, junior writing coach

At this point in the year, the time of winter break and holidays has passed. As little as I would like to admit, finals are right around the corner, and for many people this means stress levels are through the roof. To help you prep for this busy “season” of semester finals, essays, orals and summative assessments, I’m providing you with a few tips that will hopefully keep you sane.

First off, start early. There’s nothing worse than a cram session the night before a test. Nothing is stopping you from starting to study right now, except our own sense of procrastination. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard not to procrastinate, but all you have to do is start! Even if it’s just taking five minutes a day to read over some of your notes, you are on the right track. And maybe you’ll even get pulled in and end up studying more!

Secondly, study in increments. Doing hours and hours of studying in one sitting does little to help you. You lose your focus if you study for too long, so maybe those social media breaks every now and then may actually turn out to help you. It can also be worthwhile to switch back and forth between different subjects after some time spent on each, because a change in topics can be rather refreshing (that is, as refreshing as studying can be).

Another trick once the week of finals has arrived is to sleep. I cannot emphasize enough how influential sleep is on our abilities to think clearly. No one ever feels great waking up to their obnoxious alarms, especially when you realize your day is to be filled with mind-straining tests. Even in the days leading up to finals, it is important to get some sleep, so you can stay healthy and free from inconvenient colds. It’s never fun, to say the least, when your nose is running faster than Usain Bolt and your head feels like it’s going to explode from the pressure within. All you have to do to assure you have a healthy, ready mind is to get a little sleep. Do yourself a favor and avoid those sleepy eyes and groggy minds; you’ll be surprised how well you can think.

My one last tip regarding finals is as simple as this: relax. There’s no sense in freaking out. Put it into perspective; this is not the end of the world or the last cookie in the cookie jar. Take a moment and breathe. Although it is obviously important to put in some effort to learn and remember all the material for your tests, positivity is also just as important. Don’t psych yourself out; just have faith in yourself that by the end of finals, all will be alright.

May is quite the month

By Bastien Ibri, Senior Writing Coach

May is quite the month. Prom, the Swing Dance, probably something else, and tests. Yeah, tests. I’m going to try hard not to make this post a rant about testing, because we’ve all heard those. I’m just gonna try to give you a rundown of how May goes for me, because it’s been pretty constant over the years.

There is nothing I love more than not studying when I should be. While I haven’t done heroin (S/O to Jack Kerouac), I imagine this is what the effects are similar to. Somehow, avoiding doing this one thing makes me really good at sitting down and doing something I don’t make enough time for: reading.

Source: realitystudio.org


Trust me; I love reading. But during the regular school year, I seem to not be able to get in the mood for extended 5 hour reading sessions. Without fail, as soon as testing “season” (apparently it’s a season now) even begins to come around, I’ll find myself a big stack of books, sit myself in a comfy chair, and read for as long as I can stay awake. And I know that this sounds like it’s my way of escaping from studying, but it doesn’t feel like that. To me, it feels like every May I see things with a little bit more perspective. A whole class, sometimes two years long, gets reduced to a couple days of testing. While this should make the tests sound even more important, it doesn’t. The important parts of whatever you’ve learned are done. So instead of stressing about what I’ve already done, I spend my time doing what I love and wind up feeling a hell of a lot more productive at the end of the month.

I have no regrets about reading three Vonnegut novels instead of reviewing math problems. I wouldn’t trade Camus for Kepler no matter how many times someone tells me that his laws will be on the test. Reading these books makes me happy—I enjoy it. With normal schoolwork declining, I want to read more. It makes sense to me that I would do this. So whether you spend your time staring at the clouds, designing chemistry labs, or anything in between, don’t forget that May might just give you more time to do what you find fulfilling.

Are my test scores going to be the best they could be? Maybe not, but with the certainty of becoming the cliché I said I would avoid, you are more than your test scores. May, although it’s almost over, isn’t a time to not do anything because of tests. It is exactly the opposite. Tests relieve some weird stress in me because they are so small compared to what we’ve all done over the years.

This whole thing really might not make sense at all, and if I’ve just confused you even more, sorry. But try to be productive in a way that makes you happy whether it’s in the month of May or not. That is my attempt at some sort of senior wisdom, even though that is a strange concept that doesn’t really make sense to me. See you guys around; enjoy what’s left of your year.