Excerpt: Just Before the Dawn (Sicut Ante Lucem)

Excerpt from Nanowrimo novel

By Sophie Stephens

Page 36-37

I go to look for my keys, keeping the phone pressed firmly against my ear. I grip onto my phone as if it were really Rosie I am holding on to.

She finally speaks. “What have you heard so far, about Cooper?”
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Excerpt: Just Before the Dawn (Sicut Ante Lucem)

By Sophie Stephens

Page 61-62

“What do you write, when you come to the park?” Cooper asked me.

“Anything. Anything that comes to mind. Sometimes I just write about what I hear or see or smell. Other times I add to my ongoing story.”

“Write something for me.”

“What?”
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Excerpt: Just Before the Dawn (Sicut Ante Lucem)

By Sophie Stephens

Page 4

.  .  .

A seemingly inconspicuous Friday night with the family, in my mind. There wasn’t much to do in my small town of Stronghurst, but with the holiday season coming around within the month and the newfound chill in the air–smelling of the anticipation of the first snow we were all both waiting for and hoping against–the city was coming alive with boutique shops and community decorations, and I was feeling excited with all of the holiday spirit in the air.
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Excerpt: Just Before the Dawn (Sicut Ante Lucem)

Excerpt from NaNoWriMo 2017

Page 11

By Sophie Stephens

Looking back now, I realize how much I enjoyed those days. Rosie and Elliot by my side, floating through the halls, unnoticed enough to be in our own little world, planning out our futures together. I even miss the jocks, always a constant source of entertainment and gossip, after our groups began to mix and I started actually paying attention to their silly little conversations. I miss listening to my friends complain about school like everyone does. I miss our weekly coffee dates. I miss our adventures, our senior year bucket list that took us to places all over the city. I miss the days I didn’t take the time to revel in. I miss the days I’ll never get back.

Back then, I always felt like I was living in the future, instead of the present.
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Met Gala 2018: top 15 best dressed

By Sophie Stephens

The annual Met Gala is a gathering of celebrities to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and is easily the single biggest night for fashion. Essentially mixing prom and haute couture fashion, the Met Gala is an extravagant night to celebrate fashion and art. With this year’s theme being related to Catholicism and fashion’s “Patron Saints,” there were plenty of red, gold, silver and white ball gowns, crowns, headpieces and cross designs on the red carpet.

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A Queen in a Play of Kings

By Sophie Stephens

Feminist icons have been a part of culture for centuries. Susan B. Anthony and the suffragettes made history in the 19th and 20th century, and just recently women in the #MeToo movement have created a new norm for powerful women in society. Feminist icons in literature like Mary Wollstonecraft and her “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” set a new precedent for women’s power in society starting in the 18th century. But this feminine power was not a trend in literature, and many authors did not include powerful female characters or female characters with lines at all. Although Shakespeare is famous for his original plays from the late 16th and early 17th century, his powerful female characters were not the focus of his comedies or tragedies. However, there are often female characters that are given agency, although it can be debated as not being strong enough or important enough to outweigh the man’s. In “Merchant of Venice” it is argued whether Portia has any agency, or if she only makes her choices to please another male character. Shakespeare uses Portia’s own characterization of her solitude to prove that she has more power than her husband Bassanio, breaking societal norms for women.
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Cultural proficiency team takes new approach to MLK day celebrations

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. led the equality movement in the South and made history for his work with minority group rights. But in recent years, students have expressed that they feel underrepresented, unnoticed or unwanted in school because of their race, gender identity, sexual preferences or religion.

“Towards the end of last year, a school climate survey came out which showed that many students, especially those from less-represented groups at West, felt disconnected from the school as a whole,” said teacher Alexei Lalagos.

With inclusion in mind, West High teachers Alexei Lalagos, Maureen Head, Theresa Juhl and Jeff Conner began planning an all new celebration for MLK day that would get every student involved and bring attention to the diversity at West.

“I think it provoked a lot of sadness among teachers to think that hundreds of students are walking through our doors each day only to feel alienated,” said Lalagos.

“I think the lesson just that it is important to acknowledge that even though it is 2018 and we feel that we have come a long way from certainly slavery and Jim Crow south and Dr. King and that sort of thing, we still have a lot of work to do,” Head said.

In past years, teachers were given options to incorporate Martin Luther King Jr. into their class lessons, but since they were not required, many classes continued with their normal schedules. This year, however, all West High teachers were asked to step out of their comfort zone and find a way to honor Dr. King’s legacy in their classroom, through discussions, community service and guest speakers.

Students were able to choose their own schedule made up of any five classes focusing on cultural exploration, community service, race relationships, disability awareness, social justice and other topics relating to the legacy of Dr. King. In addition, all students attended a unity concert put on by the five West High choirs.

The 112 sessions offered to students over the day were all created by teachers and students. Some teachers got the community involved by bringing in guest speakers to present and lead sessions, while others led their own.

“If you’ve got students who are interested and teachers who are more passionate, then that’s a recipe for a really good day, I think,” said Conner.

“Knowing that we had [so many students] and we had to have all of those seats available, I think that everyone stepped up and knew the challenge ahead of us and stepped up to make it happen,” said Head.

The team was proud of the event’s success despite a lower turn out than expected, and they plan to continue to honor MLK day in a similar way next year. West High has claimed excellence as a tradition for decades, and now teachers and administrators are working to make equity a tradition too.

“I want a new tradition here, I want a new celebration for all of us to get behind … My best hope is that people walk out of here with a great experience,” said Juhl. “They’re thinking about something, they’re looking at things differently, they learn a lot, I want them to learn something that they wouldn’t have learned otherwise, I want them to have a conversation.”