Ridge Review https://mrhsridgereview.org The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School Thu, 21 May 2020 07:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Truth https://mrhsridgereview.org/3015/features/truth/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/3015/features/truth/#respond Thu, 21 May 2020 07:00:25 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=3015 No matter the mind, heart, soul or spirit as is held by anyone in this world, everyone has faced some semblance of darkness in their lives. Pain affects all of us in every measure; it’s for that reason, we strive for the solutions that act to ease our suffering. Or, out of indignation and pride, we romantically push ourselves to conquer our fears and adversaries. The truth is, every day is trying to trick us into doing battle. 


With this as the conflicting reality which we’re all forced to face, the solutions we find are varied, some being sought by the far and few, others by the masses. The righteous respect towards a newfound religion contrasts with the meandering troubles of a drug-addled vagabond. I myself found faith in my strength through something classically simple, music. 


Our parents may have laid their hearts out for the soft sounds of Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe the likes of Aerosmith or even something closer to Marilyn Manson. Music is, in of itself, the timeless solution to all sorts of shadowy threats to ourselves; music is immortal, the things that our parents listened to being passed onto us and so on. I really held tightly to the vinyl rock artists of the 70’s through my hard times. Something different, however, has recently ended up catching my interest. 


By all means I’m a melophile, I love to pick and choose the greatest tunes from every genre. It’s the contemporary, melodic beats from Californian artist Alex Ebert, however, that inspire me to be the greatest I can be; his work pushes me to fight my darkness, I find then that it’s plausible it can do the same for you. 


Alexander Michael Tahquitz Ebert, simply known as Alex Ebert, is a Los Angeles born music artist and general composer born in 1978. While I’d never personally give a Wikipedia-esque description of any artist’s life, I’d definitely recommend checking out some details on Ebert; he grew up cultured by his family, the music he was immersed in as a child as well as various other factors would end up leading him to pursuing his career in music and film alike. 


Some of these factors included, however, some rough dealings with drugs and a bad crowd, both things that would impact Ebert for life, altering him as a person and his career alike. These negative aspects of his life, or his personal demons, are bonded tightly with Ebert’s music, particularly his individual productions (which I will get to in time). 


Ebert fumbled about with some bands before leading the band Ima Robot in ‘97-’98; the groovy and unpredictable style of the band’s music brought them success in the early to mid 2000’s, though they’ve been pretty much inactive since 2010 (the band is still together, however.) Eberts work with Ima Robot gave him a baseline from which he could further his career and move onto bigger projects. 


Then of course came the showstopper. 


In 2007, right at home in Los Angeles, Ebert formed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros alongside American singer Jade Castrinos and a handful of other performers. For the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, The Magnetic Zeros were at the very top of the folk and indie rock scene. Considering the fact that Ebert headed the band, the name “Edward Sharpe” became a character of his that was usually self-described as this messianic figure. This reaction and the forming of the band, at least on Ebert’s end, was spurred out of a need to escape his drug addiction and the conflicts which faced him in the life he was leading prior to the bands conception. 


The 2009 hit “Home” rocketed the group into immediate fame, with the video sitting at nearly 90 million views on Youtube. The album which featured the song, Up From Below, hit all of the right notes with the lofty, hippy vibes. 


As far as music goes, the work of the Magnetic Zeros was something from the 60’s sent to an age of bubbly pop and rap. It was really good though, especially when considering the chemistry as was shared by Ebert and Castrinos (it’s not something that I can explain, you’ll have to check it out for yourself.) 

Ebert & Castrinos

The music, as noted, felt out of time; it was a beautiful cacophony of shaky instruments and shakier vocals. The lifespan of the Magnetic Zeros was brief yet magnificent. Catchy tunes and soft odes to the joy of youth, the shedding of guilt and pain as was depicted by their music will probably live on in the hearts of those who were there to experience it. 


Three more albums would spawn from the band, yet they’d fade in popularity with the departure of Castrinos from the group in 2014 (with nobody knowing for sure why to this day,); the 2015 release PersonA would find success on Youtube and pump some more life into the band even without Castinos’ iconic vocal performances. A ‘Rise-and-Fall’ legacy in the making, the Magnetic Zeros are still technically together to this very day with Ebert at the helm, yet it’s likely that without Castrinos only the die-hard fans will keep the band kicking until its last days. Notably, however, Ebert killed off his Edward Sharpe persona with, well, PersonA, so who knows where the group will end up. 


A friend of mine once described their music as “something to fill the silence, or drown out other sounds. It’s something you can use for light listening, or something that you can hold a lot of meaning too,” with that being directed towards the Magnetic Zeros and Ebert himself. I personally believe she captured what makes their music special; it’s all purpose. It’s great to listen to, to love to, to live to and to die to (and that’s probably what it was made for, considering how the band members are all a bunch of hippies). 


I never personally got into Ima Robot all that much, but as I noted the music is good; their Youtube channel has some deep cuts from Ebert that are mostly hidden from the public eye. The Magnetic Zeros, across all four albums, have some amazing songs as are reflected by the Youtube views, with most of their music videos having millions of views and an overwhelmingly positive general reception to each release. One of my favorites from them include the titular “Up From Below” (2009) which references the name of their debut album, Ebert’s soft vocals and the choral performances from the backing band members mix with an elegant acoustic performance that creates something truly special. 


Other songs from their discography include hits such as “Man on Fire” off of Here (2012), “Janglin”, which is also off of Up From Below, and the newer “Hot Coals”, which is off of 2016’s PersonA


Besides all of this, I did bring up earlier that Ebert has also made a name for himself in film and composing. Arguably, he’s received more official recognition from his efforts in these fields as opposed to his vocal and instrumental performances for Ima Robot or the Magnetic Zeros. 


Ebert won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score due to his scoring for the film All is Lost (2013) and would also follow up with the director to score 2014’s A Most Violent Year. Both scores were fantastic and only gave more credit to Ebert as a burgeoning musical genius in a complex period, one where his work was separated from that of the usual artists from the time and where it continues to be so even up to the current day. 


Mainly, however, I wanted to focus on Ebert’s solo career with this piece, which includes his debut and sophomore albums, Alexander (2011) and I vs I (2020) respectively (and man, ain’t that a bit of writer’s, or I suppose, singer’s block if I’ve ever seen it, almost nine years between albums is a long time in the music industry!) 

Ebert With the Magnetic Zeros

Before I go into the ins and outs of Ebert’s two solo albums, which I believe deserve their own analysis from the rest of his career as a whole, I’m actually going to get to the really good stuff first. Why not start with Ebert’s magnum opus and the song that brought the most attention to the Magnetic Zeros and Ebert’s solo career (besides “Home”,) that song being the, in this case titular, “Truth” off of his debut album. 


“Truth” (2011) found popularity due to it being in the credit sequence of an impactful episode of AMC’s legendary series, Breaking Bad (2008-2013). The episode was aired the same year the song was debuted by Ebert, so it’s indicative that someone on the B.B. team had a good taste in music. People flocked to the song on Youtube and through other means as soon as they experienced the brief glimpse of it from the episode’s ending, with the song, and Ebert’s popularity only soaring from there. 


“Truth” is probably more like an experience than it is a song. It’s the third song in the tracklist for Alexander, which is interesting because it feels like it would be a perfect fit to start the album (or to end it, for that matter,) yet it resides in the middle of the album. There’s little directly spoken about the song from Ebert himself, besides some bits about its meaning; I believe personally it wasn’t intended to be anything that special, yet as noted it became a major success among fans and a staple of Ebert’s live performances. 


I said that the song is more of an ‘experience’ for a reason; I’ve said in pieces prior that it’s really not worth explaining a song when you could just have the audience listen to it, so I’ve linked to the masterpiece at the bottom of this article for ease of access. Even with that being my standard line of thinking, I have to offer some details on Ebert’s creation solely out of respect for the artist. 


Composition wise, “Truth” features a wide variety of instruments that were all performed by Ebert himself. The inspiring, angelic choir in the background pairs well with the instrumentals present. It’s a masterwork, it’s rustic and it’s folky. It sounds a bit grainy, but that’s something that I think adds to the character of the song and the album of a whole. The song has an air of its own that doesn’t compare to anything else on the album besides the song that closes it out (which I’ll also get to,) and for that reason alone it sets itself apart from anything in Ebert’s work. 


The lyrics are what really steal the show with this one, however, as they combine this soulful hodgepodge mix of hip-hop and folk into something truly unique. The song opens up with haunting whistling, which seems to call back to the whistling that was used at the beginning of “Home” just a couple years prior (though “Home”’s whistling was more uppity in its tone.) Lyrically, Ebert explores some of the darkness that worked to consume him throughout a good portion of his life and his music career. It’s been hinted at and offhand stated a handful of times that the song was about the acceptance and struggle with combating one’s dark side, so to speak. 


Lines such as “your darkness, is shining, my darkness, is shining,” and “all my enemies are turning into my teachers,” really drive home the point; Ebert’s somber tone and unique belting while singing go along perfectly with the lyrics. 


The music video which was released around the same time seems to complement this, with Ebert dirty and disgraced, finding some sort of internal rebirth when facing the light after being shrouded in darkness. At least, that’s the best way I can describe it. As I’ve made clear time and time again, everyone is best to listen to the music and, preferably, watch the video themselves for the full experience as opposed to reading my ramblings on the topic. 


Overall, “Truth” is a bizarre, intriguing and lovely experience that really tugs at the soul-strings; it’s the Ebert song that all other Ebert songs are to be compared to. 

Ebert Kneeling in the “Truth” Music Video

I heard the song myself when my best friend Mya, who I’ve mentioned in my pieces before and who has a far superior music taste than I do myself, sent it to me a long time ago around midnight. I listened to it then with open ears and an open heart, and I still love the song; it really gets better the more you listen to it since you start picking up all of the fine details over time. This experience really got me into Ebert’s work, and then eventually the Magnetic Zeros and other similar artists. 


Regarding the rest of Alexander and I vs I, there’s still plenty to say. 


Half parts due to genuinely fair criticism and half parts due to an initial lack of critical understanding towards Ebert’s genius, Alexander only really received mixed reviews from critics after its 2011 release. Most of the criticism was directed towards Ebert’s lack of focus on the project, its overly experimental nature and the lack of any stable direction (considering how so many different stylistic blends found their way into the album.) Over time though, especially due to a boost from the increasing popularity of the Magnetic Zeros and B.B’s use of “Truth”, the album found success and is now a cult favorite (like much of what I cover in my writing). 


As you can probably guess the album follows some hard-hitting, folky, contemporary rock blends of songs into something absolutely strange yet magical. “Let’s Win” and “Let’s Make a Deal Not to Make A Deal” have a childlike tone to them, whereas “Remember our Heart” and “Awake My Body” follow the gruff rustic tone and are a little bit closer to their roots with the Magnetic Zeros. Songs like “Old Friend” and “A Million Years” are good in my opinion, though they fall short of the mysticism and imagery that is inspired by the other selections in the tracklist; I believe they probably garnered the most criticism, as they seem the most lazy and hippy-ish. 


“Glimpses” is by all means the best song on the album besides “Truth”, with its harrowing, at times screeching vocals by Ebert and the harsh subject matter, which as found in the lyrics describe moments of weakness such as suicidal intentions and, again, the finding of an internal light to combat the darkness. That’s a lot to take in-in just one run on sentence, but again I encourage you to listen to it; the song, much like “Truth” is a masterpiece that closes out the album, but doesn’t really fit with the rest of it. 


I vs I came out earlier this year and it was definitely a surprise to everyone. There was talk of a new Ebert album in the mix but as far as I understand nobody really knew what to expect from him (and how could you? It had been about 9 years since his debut album and almost four years since the last Magnetic Zeros album.) The songs “Stronger” and “Her Love” were released to the public near the end of 2019, yet the album itself wouldn’t be released in its entirety until later. 


The album features 14 songs, which in the music industry equates to a relatively massive collection. That fact alone is probably pretty fitting though, since Ebert did have a long time to write out some new hits. Considering that there are 14 in comparison to Alexander’s 10, there’s no way for me to reasonably go over all of my favorites, but I can pull out a select few goodies while describing the album as a whole. 

Ebert in His “Hand’s Up” Music Video

All fourteen songs stray away from Ebert’s career with the Magnetic Zeros and what was found on Alexander; Ebert was innovating again, and this time probably for the better. By the time of production, Ebert was involved romantically with a woman and had a child of his own, being around 40 years old. The free-spirited hippy-flow of past works are absent from the album, long buried by responsibility and a lack of interest (again, besides one exception, that being the song that closes out the album.) Rap, hip-hop and psychedelic ruminations are mixed in with a bit of high-pitch pop to create something unique as always. 


Trumpets and horns, the long saxophone solo on “Fluid” as well as a ton of electronic beats function together to form something just as magical as what came before. Instrumentally, I vs I is a treat for the ears; lyrically Ebert also improved, with some of the songs’ lyrical compositions likely being improved upon directly from the sharp switch to a rap style. 


Some songs on I vs I succeed more than others, much like Alexander, though there are fewer discrepancies in quality between each song, with all of them being enjoyable for one reason or another (at least in my honest opinion.) Much as was relevant to the songs “Truth” and “Glimpses”, however, Ebert’s carefully rhymed and constructed lyrics on the album really make it a marvel. 


Revelations and nostalgic musings are found within most of Ebert’s creations within I vs I, with some of the hardest hitting songs being “Miracle”, “Gold” and “Automatic Youth”. 


“Miracle” follows Ebert teaching various philosophical lessons to his young daughter, such as bits about people’s role in the world and the nature of death. The fast-rapping nature of some of the songs on the album might give off the impression that the lyrics are irrelevant bunk between all of these songs, with a closer/multiple listens being necessary to reveal the opposite being the case. “Gold” follows some of Ebert’s struggles with his relationship and career, while “Automatic Youth” seems to describe the story of Ebert leaving his girlfriend and daughter at the time (and then the realization of his mistake and his reuniting with his family.) Like always, that was a lot, but hopefully those simple descriptions offer enough to intrigue anyone in the music. 


The album most certainly isn’t for everyone, yet it’s got something, in one measure or another, for any listener. Those who appreciate the instrumentals can enjoy the previously mentioned instruments as they are strewn masterfully among each song. Those who appreciate the vocals and lyrics can find appreciation in the harder hitting songs. It’s earcandy. 


One last thing that I have to say on the matter is that the album does offer, from my perspective, one last recall to Ebert’s previous works and career. Of course, no artist can completely deter from their past with ever-changing future releases (not even Bowie,) but the main connection between I vs I and anything else produced by Ebert is the album’s last song, “Press Play”. 


The original title for this piece, “Press Play” is an invigorating experience that keeps the audience intrigued with lyrics and vocals that make the situation out to be as though Ebert were on the verge of tears. Backup vocals as well as moody beats support the masterwork as Ebert takes you on a journey that displays expert-quality rhymes and rapping that is years in the making. Though it has its own personality, “Press Play” is the closest thing on I vs I to anything Ebert made in the past decade, with the song making that fact known.  It’s one of me and my brother’s favorites, it’s a perfect way to close out the album with an inspiring track that conjures images of forever-sunsets, and frankly, I think it’s a hidden gem that deserves more love than it has received. 


Various artists have kept me sane throughout quarantine, but it has been I vs I in particular that I’ve found myself listening to every day; it’ll be weird at first, especially if you’re used to Ebert’s earlier compositions, but I can assure you that there’s something you’ll like about it. 


That’s the best, most simplistic history of Ebert’s career I can give while keeping it bearable for the reader. There are, however, plenty of other releases that I haven’t really explored. 


2017 offered listeners the beautiful single known as “Broken Record”, a favorite in Ebert’s community and, in my opinion, one of his best songs. The melancholy beat and sorrowful lyrics again pair alongside a saxophone and horns (which seem now to be Ebert’s calling card,) the song isn’t in the form of a rap, and is more folky while still maintaining plenty of smooth rhymes. The standalone video for the song is a trippy, but mellow joy for the eyes. The song also has one of the best endings, if not the second best ending of any Ebert song besides “Truth”, as it maintains this sound and aura that I can only describe as ‘bubbling starlight’. 

Ebert As He Appears in the “Broken Record” Music Video

Also within 2017, Ebert released “Joy Is My Armor” alongside a “visualizer video” (whatever that means,) that received relative respect amongst Ebert’s community as a strong alternative track. An interesting thing to note is that Ebert has performed with AWOLNATION (who I personally know nothing about,) and now deceased popular Swedish D.J., Avicii, in some interesting bouts of collaboration. Ebert has also made his political views known with the 2015 track “Feel the Bern”, in which he attempted to bolster support for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election (but we all know what that amounted to, plus I’m not really into politics as my limited readership would attest, thus I’ve nothing to note on the matter). 


On a final, final note regarding Ebert’s individual compositions, beyond everything that I’m missing or leaving out to spare the reader a bunch of technical slobbering over the artist’s work, Ebert did release three EPs in 2018 under the name In Support of 5AME Dude (volumes I, II, and III respectively.) They’re all very interesting but not really my cup of tea, I say try them out if you’re genuinely curious. 


Alex Ebert transitioned through so many phases in his career, going from the happy-go-lucky calls to arms and spiritual proclamations during the early era of the Magnetic Zeros, to the carefully constructed ballads found within I vs I. This is something that’s obvious when considering the artists that Ebert drew inspiration from (being too many to include, but obviously including David Bowie as previously referenced.) All we have to do now is wait another decade or so to see what he puts out next. 


That was so much to go through, and I really only scratched the surface. I’ve never been an interview-y, quote-piece-y kind of writer, and I never will be. So, as of right now, this is probably the best I can do while still leaving some things up to the reader’s imagination. Hopefully I’ve influenced some of you to go check out some of Ebert’s music, beginning with “Truth”, of course. 


Yet of course I couldn’t bear to end there, as is customary, there’s still a bigger picture to all of this that I only barely dove into at the beginning of this look into Ebert’s extensive double-decade long career. 


Ebert tried to escape the darkness that surrounded both his childhood and later life, yet after finding that he couldn’t escape it, he tried to fight it off. Where many would stop there, as the majority of us do every day, Ebert decided to go further and accept his darkness, his fears and his demons all while enduring the pressures of his life-long career as a musician. This is a path that was often pursued by the artists of the past; Ebert’s contemporary (who I’ve also written about,) Chan Marshall had to deal with similar issues that directly shaped her and her career. It’s the success of both figures in their chosen path that sets them apart from others of a similar ilk. Ebert himself, having more publicly recorded his acceptance of his nature, definitely comes off as something truly unique for all that he is, considering how hard it is to do so without letting one’s troubles consume them. 


I’ve always encouraged everyone, my close friends, my readership and otherwise to try to be a hero in a dangerous and confusing world. With so many metaphorical shadows in life constantly trying to prey on our hearts, it’s a struggle that we must fight against until the day we die. Though, it’s something that’s definitely manageable, as long as you have the internalized strength. 


Ebert reaches his climax in the song “Truth” by resonating the line: “Have faith in ourselves,” which perfectly represents everything that I could ever offer both my audience and all of the people directly in my life. 


Whenever I see anybody in trouble, or doubting themselves, I always repeat the line as it’s found in an alternate stanza: “Have faith in yourself,” and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. Accepting what we are, but more importantly what we can do, is what makes up all of the principles that culminate in the idea that is “Truth”. 


That internalized strength can make us the heroes we all deserve to be, the artists we dream of becoming, and then some. Everyday tests us on what we are, and every day we push on, we’re bound to succeed with flying colours. 


The truth is that I never shook my shadow, but neither did any of us, we only found faith in ourselves, and that was that. 


Well, that’s the end of the piece, and I’m pretty excited to say that this might be the longest non quote-based piece ever to be uploaded onto The Ridge Review. I hope that it was a quality experience and insightful for anyone reading, as even though it was a lengthy endeavor I put a lot of love into it due to it being my final piece for the year. 


I’d never find the inspiration to write on these matters, and to try to push my audience towards greatness if it weren’t for the positive responses and support I as well as the Ridge Review as a whole have been receiving in recent months. For that, I believe we are eternally grateful and I hope personally that our newspaper can expand further and further in the future to be something enjoyed and, to any measure, operated by the entire school. 


The harsh situation that has struck society has warranted the further expression of these themes and values, and frankly, even though I haven’t made many pieces or comments on the current state of affairs I am proud to see just how well Ridge as a community has held up against some of the darkest days in recent years. 


I wish everyone a good summer, filled with those joyous experiences that fill your heart with both glee and that hope for the golden light of the future ahead. 


With love and respect, to all those shining stars, – Your Designated Newsbro 🙂 


Featured photo by curtsy of Angy.


Alexander Michael Tahquitz Ebert


The truth is that I never shook my shadow

And every day it’s trying to trick me into doing battle

Calling out “faker” only get me rattled

Want to pull me back behind the fence with the cattle

Building your lenses

Digging your trenches

Put me on the front line

Leave me with a dumb mind

With no defenses

But your defenseless

If you can’t stand to feel the pain then you are senseless

Since this

I’ve grown up some

Different kind of fighter

And when the darkness come let it inside you

Your darkness is shining

My darkness is shining

Have faith in myself


I’ve seen a million numbered doors on the horizon

Now which is the future you choosin’ before you gone dying?

I’ll tell you ’bout a secret I’ve been undermining

Every little lie in this world come from dividing

Say you’re my lover, say you’re my homie

Tilt my chin back, slit my throat, take a bath in my blood, get to know me

All out of my secrets

All my enemies are turning into my teachers

Because, lights blinding, no way dividing what’s yours or mine when everything’s shining

You darkness is shining, my darkness is shining

Have faith in ourselves


Yes, I’m only loving, only trying to only love

That’s what I’m trying to do is only loving

Yes, I’m only loving, trying only loving, I swear to God

I’m only trying to do the loving

Yes, I’m only lonely, I’ve been missing all my feeling

Only loving, only loving

You say it ain’t loving ain’t loving my loving my loving

But I’m only loving, swear only loving, swear to God I’m only loving

Trying only loving, only loving, only loving, only loving, only loving

Yes, I’m only loving, swear only loving, swear to God I’m only loving, only loving

See, I’m only loving, loving, loving, loving, loving my love

But I’m only loving, loving, loving, loving the truth


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Who Do You Stay At Home For? https://mrhsridgereview.org/3004/photography-videos/who-do-you-stay-at-home-for/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/3004/photography-videos/who-do-you-stay-at-home-for/#respond Thu, 14 May 2020 19:30:43 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=3004 We challenge Debbie Moore, Ridge Stugo, and MRHS Active Minds! 🙂

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Loving the Little https://mrhsridgereview.org/3001/features/loving-the-little/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/3001/features/loving-the-little/#respond Thu, 14 May 2020 18:10:59 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=3001 Last weekend my family and I got to step out of society by going up north to drive through Bearizona and explore. Not only was it a fantastic way to step out of the chaos of today’s circumstances, but it opened my eyes to something very important. Driving through an empty forest with the windows down, feeling the rain and smelling the pine is enough to drag anyone out of reality. Driving past a bear sunbathing on a rock, or swimming in a cool pond is enough to make you realize the importance of simple things. That is what I had come to know at the end of my soothing weekend. Sometimes, the most important things about life are the little things. 


It can be so easy to get caught up in the noise of life. So I made a list of things that I want to remember to appreciate when I feel overwhelmed. These are things that bring me back and keep me centered. I highly recommend you do something similar, it is actually quite soothing. Who knows? Perhaps you might be able to relate to some of these things. 


  1. The smell of rain in the desert. 
  2. The feeling of a dog’s head on your lap.
  3. Getting lost in a good book.
  4. The liberating feeling of a good song. 
  5. The soothing feelings a car ride can bring. 
  6. A long and constructive conversation with a loved one.
  7. The crunch of a dry leaf under your foot.
  8. Staying up for hours at night laughing with your sister. 
  9. Watching a full movie series.
  10. Having the time to be creative and pursue hobbies. 
  11. The silence of being completely submerged underwater. 
  12. Someone telling you that they love you or are proud of you.
  13. Saying good morning to someone on a walk around the block.
  14. A good ice cream cone.
  15. Being reminded of a happy memory.
  16. Warm and long hugs.
  17. A delicious beverage.
  18. The smell of sunscreen and salt at the beach.
  19. Going on a picnic. 
  20. Singing and dancing like nobody’s watching.
  21. Putting on clean or brand new clothes.
  22. Finding a missing sock and uniting it with its pair. 
  23. The feeling of the ocean on your feet.
  24. Finding money you forgot about.
  25. Checking everything off your to-do list. 
  26. The smell of fresh cut grass.
  27. Receiving a handwritten letter from someone.
  28. Jeans that fit perfectly and comfortably.
  29. A good breakfast complete with everything: eggs, bacon, waffles, fruit, everything!
  30. Going back to the place you grew up in.
  31. Warm showers.
  32. Seeing a wild animal.
  33. Playing board games with your friends.
  34. Having a conversation with a family member you hadn’t seen in a while.
  35. Waking up and stretching in the morning. 
  36. Getting an early start to your day.
  37. Alone time.
  38. Eating healthy foods and drinking water.
  39. Writing in a journal or diary.
  40. Making others smile.


I hope these things helped you to relax, or even think of things that are simple, yet leave a huge impact on your day. My final word to you is, remember to see the things that are right in front of you. Take a break from looking at the big picture and spend time looking at things that fill you up with joy. There will always be something big for you to look at, but small things like these only last for a short period of time. When you feel worried or overwhelmed, take time to relax. Roll down your windows and smell the rain, write someone a letter, pursue a hobby, get yourself some good breakfast, smile more; there is only so much time left. Sometimes loving the little can leave a big impact on your life.  


Thank you for reading my work, Ridge! It’s been a great 3 years of writing! Peace out! 🙂


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Onward: A Review https://mrhsridgereview.org/2998/entertainment/onward-a-review/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/2998/entertainment/onward-a-review/#respond Mon, 11 May 2020 16:56:25 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=2998 If you are one of the individuals to have not seen Disney’s new movie, Onward, you are missing out on something huge. I will be honest with you before we dive in. I am a little hard to trust on giving the quality of a film because I am easily entertained and typically love every movie I watch. However, this is one you should trust me on, especially if you have siblings. I was surprised to find that the ending left me close to tears and I was absolutely shocked by the power of the film. 


Onward released on March 6th of this year. The world of the film is populated with many different types of mythological creatures that are all unique. Long ago, their world was filled with the wonders of magic and adventure, wizards and spells. But because of modern day solutions like the light bulb and washing machine to name a few, the magic of the past has been long forgotten by the people. 


The movie focuses on a family of elves called the Lightfoots. The two heroes of the story are brothers Ian, played by Tom Holland and Barley Lightfoot, played by Chris Pratt. I will note that these actors did a phenomenal job in portraying a brotherly relationship and really worked well together, which made the film that much better. They live with their mother, Laurel Lightfoot, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She became a single parent after her husband, Wilden Lightfoot, passed away before the birth of Ian, her youngest son. 


Diving into the two main characters themselves, the two brothers are very different from each other. Barley is the oldest, and therefore has those natural older sibling tendencies like overprotectiveness and slight dominance. He is also on the more humorous side because regardless of his age, he has an obsession with adventure and magic because of an old game he is fascinated with. Ian on the other hand is almost the exact opposite of his brother. He is significantly more reserved, which causes him to struggle with making friends at school, he isn’t into the same fantasy as his brother, and he sees the world in a more practical fashion.


I would say that the plot of the film was very exciting, and I will only give an overview so as to not spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure. The movie begins on Ian’s 16th birthday and gives a bit of insight on the relationship between each family member. Ian begins the day with confidence to create a bolder image for himself by forming a list of things he would like to accomplish that day. After dealing with things such as lack of confidence and embarrassment from his older brother, Ian ends his day with a list of unchecked things. However, his mother saves the day by bringing him a gift from their father, in which he wanted both of his sons to have once they reached the age of 16. Once unwrapping it, Ian isn’t extremely thrilled to find an ancient staff in his hands. Barley however knows instantly what it is: a wizard’s staff. Again, due to the game he plays, he heavily still believes in the old world of magic. Another thing the two found in the gift was an old piece of paper with a spell on it. The spell would allow the boys to bring back any person they would like for an entire day. Naturally, the boys first think of their father, and agree to embark on a quest to bring him back for 24 hours. Ian jumps right on the issue by creating another list of things he would like to do with his father. The quest they face is long- filled with countless amounts of adventure, maps, magic, danger, fun characters, plot twists, and more. 


The message of the film is a powerful one that reflects the impact of a brotherly bond. During their journey the boys clash and argue like any brothers would, but they also learn about the importance of their relationship as they grow closer together on the journey their father sent them on. Despite the good times and the bad times of Ian and Barley’s relationship, they learn about the things that are important in life and to cherish what they have instead of what they lost, which causes their bond to strengthen and allows for the growth of their personal character (so in other words, it’s a typical Disney movie if you are into that sort of thing).


In all, I really enjoyed this movie. I got to see it for the first time after going on a little date with my younger brother, Jack. It was honestly the perfect movie to see together. So I recommend, if you need some bonding time with your siblings, watch Onward with them. Even if “little kid movies” aren’t your thing, I know that most of you will appreciate the heartwarming message this movie portrayed. 

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The Flaws of 2020 https://mrhsridgereview.org/2995/opinion/the-flaws-of-2020/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/2995/opinion/the-flaws-of-2020/#respond Mon, 11 May 2020 16:52:37 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=2995 Do you remember how in 2012, everybody was convinced humanity was going to come to its end? There was even a movie released called ​2012, ​that was all about how the world was going to end that year (granted, it’s only got a 39% on Rotten Tomatoes). Thankfully it didn’t and we’re all still here, but 2020 has really felt like the year the world was going to end. This year’s been rough on all of us, so here’s a list of 10 things that have gone wrong in 2020, in (kind of) chronological order.

1. World War 3 Scare
The United States really decided to start off this year with a bang. On January 2, Trump ordered a drone strike to kill Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general. The Pentagon said he did this to ‘protect US personnel abroad,’ but it in turn made many Americans feel unsafe. It’s not every day that the leader of your country decides to blow up an army general of another one. It came with great memes on Twitter, but underneath all the jokes was a genuine fear of a third world war. But hey, it hasn’t happened yet, so I guess that’s one good thing that happened (or didn’t) in 2020.

2. Coronavirus!
How could this be a list of bad things that happened in 2020 without the queen herself? On January 7, the World Health Organization was officially notified of Coronavirus, although cases were first reported in November 2019. At the time we thought it only existed in China, and well, we’ve seen how this has turned out. Currently there are about 3.94 million cases worldwide, with 1.32 million in the USA alone, and our economy is struggling.

3. Kobe and Gigi
January 26 was honestly a really sad day for me. Waking up and seeing the news that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna had both passed away in a helicopter crash really hurt. I’m not a big fan of sports now, but with my whole family being from LA, I grew up watching the Lakers with my dad and cheering on Kobe. My dad only bought Lakers merchandise with Kobe on it. I have ​baby clothes w​ ith Kobe’s number on it. So yeah, January 26 was really unexpected and still hurts to think about.

4. Iowa Caucus Results Delayed
This was more annoying and frustrating than it was upsetting. The Iowa Caucus is basically the first official vote for Americans to support a candidate. It wasn’t completely clear what kind of result we could expect, but we still expected ​something.​ Instead, results were delayed for weeks due to the Iowa Democratic Party saying they performed ‘quality control.’ Whatever that means, it took far too long for us to get the official result.

5. Australia Fires Still Burning
The fires started burning in September of 2019, but they still continued to burn throughout the first two months of 2020. In February, Mountain Ridge had a fundraiser that went towards Australian bushfire relief. On February 15, more than 46 million acres of land were burned. The impact of the bushfires was about $2.4 million USD, and more than a billion animals were estimated to be killed.

6. Social Distancing
Starting around the 2nd week of March for the United States, we started social distancing. Schools closed, many people lost their jobs, events have been cancelled, and we can’t go see our friends. I don’t really know if this can be classified as one of the worst things of 2020, because it’s supposed to help us, but it definitely isn’t fun.

7. Stock Market Drop
On March 16, the Dow dropped 2997 points, which is about 9.7%. This triggered a 15 minute trading halt, which may not sound like much, but in terms of economics, that’s incredibly alarming, especially for a place like the United States. This was due to fears surrounding the Coronavirus, and was the sharpest drop since 1987.

8. Bernie Sanders Dropped Out
Maybe this is too opinionated, but this whole list is my opinion, so I can say that Bernie Sanders dropping out was pretty upsetting to me, personally. Sanders was really the only politician I felt I could trust – he’s been fighting for the people since around 1963, where he was arrested at a civil rights march in Chicago. He’s a real one, but people somehow decided Joe Biden was the better choice.

9. Eastern Africa Locust Swarm
Although we don’t hear about it much, right now, in Eastern Africa, there are deadly locust swarms. They’ve been going on for a few months, but are still just as much of an issue. This was the largest swarm east Africa has seen in 30 years, and 70 years for Kenya specifically. The swarms threaten the food security of around 25 million Africans, and along with this, there was dangerous flooding that just occured there last week.

10. Murder Hornets
Murder Hornets have just recently arrived to the United States! Originally from Asia, these are the biggest hornet species, and the female hornet can grow up to an inch and a half. They’ve been nicknamed as murder hornets because they’re known to go into beehives and rip the heads off of honeybees, whose populations are already struggling. Just another thing to worry about, I guess.
There are plenty of other things that went wrong i. 2020 so far, but we can’t name them allz So, there are just a few more honorable mentions:

– United Kingdom leaving the EU
Brexit has finally happened, and the UK has officially left the European Union. Of course, this is just another political opinion, but a lot of people are afraid of what this will mean for the future of the United Kingdom, now that the country has left the economic and political union.

– 2020 Summer Olympics Postponed
This year, the Summer Olympics were supposed to be held in Tokyo, Japan. Like most other events, this is due to COVID-19. It’s too dangerous to have so many people travelling to one place. For the athletes, it means one more year they’ll have to keep training to compete. The Olympics are supposed to be held on July 23, 2021.

– Celebrities Singing Imagine
Maybe I’m a party pooper. But to me, celebrities making a video of them singing the lyric, ‘imagine no possessions’ while they sit in their million dollar mansions is ​incredibly​ tone deaf. It’s essentially a compilation of rich people saying to the middle and lower class: don’t worry, we’re all in this together! When clearly, we’re not, as lower income communities are the ones that are being hit the hardest by COVID-19. We are not all in the same boat when their money can save them and so many people don’t have the money to take care of themselves. Maybe next time, they should donate to an actual cause instead of singing a song that does nothing; we need solutions, not a song being sung to us like we’re babies.

This year has felt unreal – and not in a good way. I feel like so many unexpected and upsetting things have happened the past 4 months, that nothing will phase me anymore. In fact, I saw a video of a monkey on a motorcycle pulling around a kid, and I felt nearly no shock from it. My mind feels like a battle hardened soldier, honestly. The best thing I can do to get any form of serotonin around here is play Animal Crossing and think about how fun everything will be when social distancing is over. It seems like rock bottom, so we can only go up from here, I guess!

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How to Win the Game of Life https://mrhsridgereview.org/2981/features/how-to-win-the-game-of-life/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/2981/features/how-to-win-the-game-of-life/#respond Tue, 05 May 2020 19:20:59 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=2981 This year, I had the amazing opportunity to get to know an extraordinarily strong individual. He has come a long way since the first time I met him. He has matured into someone who can take the hardships of life, learn from them, and transform through them. For that, I am extremely proud of him.


I met Aden Schulze-Miller for the first time when he was a freshman during my sophomore year. Actually I didn’t really meet him, but more realistically, observed him. We had journalism together, first period. We were always on opposite ends of the room and so I never spoke to him that year. However, when he spoke in class or answered a question, he spoke with loads of intelligence. I thought of him as a very interesting person. 

Schulze-Miller, or Schmiller, as he currently calls himself, shared that his personality during that year was significantly quieter and contained a higher amount of social anxiety than he does today. He didn’t have many friends, didn’t enjoy his classes, but achieved good grades anyway, and didn’t pursue personal passions. Instead of enjoying himself, he drifted through the year with the goal of getting through high school quickly.


“I didn’t care a lot about my image,” states Schmiller. “I wore the same black dirty coat every day and had a mop of dirty hair.”


Schmiller entered high school after experiencing a tough time in middle school. Naturally, he wanted to get in and out of it. Today, this is something that he lives to regret. 


“Now it seems like it went by really fast and I wish I enjoyed it more,” Schmiller reflects. 


After his freshman year, Schmiller wanted things to change in order to enjoy his time at school a bit more. But with life throwing him sudden curveballs, it became difficult to take a swing once stepping up to the plate. He left the journalism class as a sophomore, and so I never saw him that year. However, Aden explained that he went through his first real breakup with someone he had dated for two years. His breakup hit hard because he has always been one to form tight bonds with those he is close to, however he took the hit and learned from it. The breakup inspired him to put himself out there by meeting new people, to work on himself as a person, and to just do better overall. He also decided to step up even more in his classes by getting even better grades. He also started to discover his passion for writing when taking Mr. Racine’s honors english course. Looking back to that year, Aden sees a boy who struggled trying to figure out life. 

That year, Aden was motivated by his grades and by the interests he began to pursue. As a sophomore he took an art class to pursue that passion. However, genetically he inherited shaky hands, so drawing was a struggle. Because of that, he turned to writing. With writing comes penmanship, and he knew that he wanted to have nice handwriting, but it didn’t come easy for him. Instead of practicing a more basic style of handwriting, Aden developed his own. This was one of the first things I noticed about how unique he truly is.


“That’s why my handwriting is so different from other people,” Schmiller says. “It’s a mix of print, cursive, and my shaky hand. It’s unique.”


Aden is currently in his junior year, which is also the year we reunited in the journalism class by writing for the school newspaper. It was during that year when our relationship developed and we became close friends. He started the year with his mind wrapped heavily around his future. In the beginning, he figured he would most likely attend Northern Arizona University or head out of state without a certain idea of what he planned to study. He started to engulf himself in more challenging classes by taking AP courses for the first time, and invested heavily on SAT studying and testing. However, as someone new to writing for the school newspaper, he realized what he wanted to do in life.

Once his first piece was published, he realized that he had potential in journalism and in his writing. These were both other unique things about him that I realized early in the year. Aden is an extremely talented writer and early in our friendship he shared his poems, stories, and all sorts of amazing pieces with me. His writing contains lots of emotion and passion, and so I know that his work will take him far. Closer to the closure of the year, he decided that he would pursue his writing at Arizona State University in the Cronkite School of Journalism. 


This year, Schmiller saw more personal growth, as he feels as though he is becoming more like an adult. He owes a lot of that to getting a car and a job, which allowed him to get a taste of the adult working environment. Aden started working at Babbo Italian Eatery as a busser and dishwasher. He often works up to 9 hours, cleaning up after hundreds of customers under the pressure of a fast-pace job. Learning how to work in a fast and stressful environment also gave him a better ambition when it came to his academic work. 


“Beyond a full blown profession, I got one of the hardest jobs for someone my age,” Schmiller commented.


Aside from having to learn how to master being an employee, Aden encountered even more personal growth this school year. He states that he learned how to choose friends and manage relationships and the importance of working for yourself. After another breakup this school year, Aden learned that it is important to take time to work on himself.


“It is still important to have faith in things, but it [the breakup] taught me to have a lot of faith in yourself and to have faith in those who care about you,” Schmiller reflected. “But don’t let any disturbances stop you from being who you want to be.” 

Aden has a big heart for other people, and takes his relationships with them very seriously. When facing the breakup, he learned how to work for himself and for future relationships.


“It gave me a better grasp of how to work for myself and for someone else at the same time,” Schmiller said.


Another thing Aden noted about his learning experience of the year is that he stopped caring about what others thought of him. Even though at times he can be crude, he feels that he is not a bad person and enjoys helping people whenever he has the chance.


Looking back over the years, Aden notes that his personality changed significantly. In a bit of self reflection, Schmiller didn’t see how the negative side of his personality affected things around him until after his breakup.


“I realize that I was really impressing and hostile about a lot of things which I didn’t need to be, when I was supposed to be affectionate with them,” Schmiller said.


He is still sort of a stern person with a crude sense of humor, but he has also become nicer and more receptive to what life offers. He is a kinder person, less hostile, and better at taking care of relationships and himself. Since starting his job, he has also become a more generous person, while also being wise with the money he makes. He sees the good aspects of himself as more important than the negative ones, and wants to be remembered for them.


“I want to be remembered for the good things I do. That’s one thing I’ve been striving towards,” Schmiller says.


On a humorous side of things, Aden really loves shoes and clothes and sometimes struggles to hold back from purchasing in order to save money. He made sure to note that this is probably due to his bisexuality and contemporary college-kid lifestyle showing through. I have enjoyed seeing how Aden came out of his shell since freshman year, and I love his humorous take on life.


“I need to buy more shoes because they are so cute,” Schmiller stated enthusiastically. “I love cute outfits and I can’t stop myself from spending money on clothes.”

Thinking back, Schmiller has overcome lots of difficulty. From time to time, the things that life throws at us can be unfair, which is something Aden can attest to. After a difficult day this year, he went through a suicidal meltdown that almost led him to take his own life one night. 


“I am glad I got over that, but it’s crazy to notice how quickly the pressure can build up in your life. Life is not fair and easy, you have to learn how to overcome it,” Aden said.


I remember the time he went through very well. I will not go into detail about what happened that caused that was a dark time in his life, but I will mention that it took a significant amount of strength to get through it. That time in his life made me nervous, but because I had gotten to know him, I had faith in his ability to overcome.

Something that got him through his dark times were his relationships with others, specifically one in particular. At the beginning of the year, he met one of his best friends in Mr. Gabow’s spanish class. 


In class during the first week of school, he noticed an “insanely beautiful” girl sitting on the other end of the room. Throughout the whole first week, they kept making eye contact involuntarily, and couldn’t stop. At the end of the first week, Gabow closed class by playing a student favorite, El Fin de Semana, on piano to commemorate week one. As they were about to leave the classroom, Aden accidentally made eye contact, smiled to stop from laughing, and found himself very embarrassed. That day, he was wearing a Fleetwood Mac t-shirt, in which the girl stopped to compliment it. As they left the classroom, they began talking about music and about how she liked the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. After the brief encounter, a strong bond was formed that still lasts today. Aden revealed that they talk a lot, and have good times, but have also fought and argued through bad times. Regardless, they have stuck by one another as best friends throughout the year. 


“It’s crazy how you can meet someone so important to you in such a goofy way. I’m glad that it happened,” Schmiller said.


Aden plans to take on full responsibility for his senior year and preparation for college. In reflection, high school isn’t at all what he assumed it would be like.


“High school is not the TV show, dreamy environment they make it out to be,” Schmiller said. “It’s crazy, chaotic, and bad things are bound to happen. You really just need to work your hardest to figure yourself out. You are destined for greatness once you do.”


Aden knows that you cannot simply just be a survivor, but you must live your life. Find your potential and don’t let it go to waste, fight through the hard times and enjoy the good, and always get back up when you fall.


“You are a guaranteed winner if you keep trying and keep pushing forward,” Schmiller said.

As a final note, I wanted to ask Aden what he thought was the most important thing about him. He answered that one thing he wants most in life is for everyone to find a happy ending. I couldn’t agree more with his answer. Aden wants the best for all people, good and bad alike. He believes that people should take responsibility for their actions, but sees a happy ending as a way for people to clear up faults. One thing that Aden wants to do is help people find happiness and clean up any issues along the way, which he sees as something he may have the opportunity for as a journalist.


What I admire most about Aden is how he is able to go through adversity and come out a changed and more developed person. Aden is a learner, a giver, and a friend even in the most difficult of times. His philosophy on life is a guaranteed success and I am looking forward to seeing where it takes him.


“Keep fighting, even if you get knocked down, you must be a warrior,” Schmiller says. “In the end, when life gets you down, keep getting back up. You will be the one to win the game of life.”

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Read Me That Rumi-Rhyme! (I) https://mrhsridgereview.org/2978/stdntwrks/read-me-that-rumi-rhyme-i/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/2978/stdntwrks/read-me-that-rumi-rhyme-i/#respond Tue, 05 May 2020 19:06:09 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=2978 Poetry in its raw form is a rarity for me, considering how many things I have to focus on (which includes both general English essay-writing and structured stories alike). Once I go into a poetic frenzy, however, I end up writing a lot in one session; here are some of the appropriate pieces that I’ve written over quarantine, all of them being influenced by the current state of affairs in the world and the music that I’ve been listening to. 

All the Love That We Lost

Miracles and exsanguination – loss of love and destination. Excavations, revelations – new temptations and old-school sanctions. 

New-flame endeavors and weather-spent leathers, Trail and tail and and everything in-between – moonlight and star-bright dreams of you and me. 

Holding hands in shifting sands and setting off for distant lands. Yet trip and fall and split your skull and fade into the dark – if only hand-in-hand we’d stretch the park, love not lost yet still in heart. 

Yet with love everlost, everlong to be gone – no softly-sweet, singer’s song, we’d build our heart – never wrong. 

I think this poem, for how short that it is, means a lot to me. Structurally, it’s a lot of simple rhyming that in my opinion ended up fitting well together. I suppose it’s about some of my past relations and a vague detailing of how they affected me, but who knows. 

Death Toll

Frauds incite indignation – no King Killer on the way. 

Citing, social evaporation – Blue says more and more are dying every day. 

Red blames Blue, ain’t nothin’ true? There’s nothing to help there, at least between me and you. 

Hold me closely and send away, all those demons that prey and prey – maybe that’ll save our day. 

Death toll, they’d scold – youngest preachers growing bold. I guess at least it’s safe to say – our hearts, they’re not going cold, at least not this day. 

It’s hard to make any immediate sense out of this one, but I can clarify that it’s a quick reaction on my end to the current state of political and social affairs regarding both the U.S. as well as other countries. It’s more of an overview of what’s going on in my head as opposed to any attacking response, which is in of itself contrary to the situation referenced. 


Pure imagination and dark amalgamations dance across the floor – everything is biting them and asking for the Lord. The little bursts that band around the sky, the purple-yellow-golden ones that help us when we cry. 

But they’re not shy, they’re not mine, they’re not searching for the time – they’re sublime, good to try, up until the day we die. 

Catch me now, Silhouette-a, send me on my way – keep those ocean-eyes, scale my care to size. No disguise. 

Perhaps one of the shortest poems I’ve ever written; this one explores some of the Eldritch-themes I love to read into and write about in my work and past poetry. It’s simple and mostly meaningless, born out of creativity and curiosity. 

There’s not much more to say on that. It’s plausible that none of us will ever reach the recognition for poetry garnered by the greatest writers of our age (and from the past), though who’s to say it even matters? I encourage everyone to keep writing throughout Quarantine and far into the future, at least for everyone’s own benefit.

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A Quarantined Birthday https://mrhsridgereview.org/2975/features/a-quarantined-birthday/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/2975/features/a-quarantined-birthday/#respond Sun, 03 May 2020 20:02:43 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=2975 Coronavirus and social distancing have ruined a lot of things for a lot of people. Countless seniors never got to experience a normal graduation, virtually all concerts have been cancelled, and summer trips are needing to be rescheduled. But one thing coronavirus has especially mixed around for me is my birthday, which is May 2. I’m turning 17 this year, and it feels really weird to not only be nearly an adult, but to also be experiencing a birthday when everything is shut down. So, here are just a few major things that have changed about my birthday this year, since it’s during the era of social distancing.

1. All of my birthday celebration is restricted to my house.
This one’s really obvious, but when you think about it, it’s kinda frustrating. Normally for my birthday, I would at least go out to dinner with my family, or spend time with my friends, but now, I’ll be spending my birthday dinner in the same dining room that I eat all my normal meals in. Instead of going out to my favorite restaurant to eat, we’ll be ordering takeout instead (support your local businesses!). Normally it doesn’t sound so bad to spend your birthday at home with just family, but when you’ve been restricted to home for the past month or so, it’s a little rough. Honestly, it’s a really privileged thing to complain about – there are so many people out there who can’t afford to do ​anything​ for their birthday. I hate that it took a quarantine birthday for me to realize this, but hey, at least I’ll know never to take my regular birthdays for granted.

2. I won’t be able to spend time with friends.
Okay this is another obvious one, but I really love spending time with my friends, and not being able to spend time with them when I know we all want to is upsetting. What’s mainly upset me is that my friend and I were supposed to go to California to see BTS (yes, the K-pop group) at the Rosebowl. It was going to be her first time seeing them live, our first time on a road trip together, and we were going to stay at my grandparents’ house in LA. I think this is one of the birthdays I looked forward to the most out of any of them, honestly. I remember buying our concert tickets and us getting ready to plan exactly what we were going to wear, what merchandise we wanted to buy, and just the excitement of going to see one of our favorite artists. It’s alright though, since it was postponed, so I’ll just pretend like it’s my birthday whenever the real concert comes.

3. Celebrating a birthday at school can actually be kind of fun.
I know my birthday doesn’t land on a school day this year, but I was hoping that it would be celebrated on the Friday before instead. Birthdays at school can either be like heaven or hell – you like the birthday attention, or you don’t. Last year was completely in between for me, since I felt really loved and appreciated by my friends, but at the same time, I had $45 worth of balloons tied to my backpack. Being pretty small, I literally looked like I was about to fly away if a gust of wind came by. Throughout the day people stared at the balloons, my teachers were annoyed by them, and my friends kept laughing at how ridiculous I looked. But in a way, I kind of wanted that again this year. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t seen people in the past month, but a part of me wishes I could have celebrated a part of my birthday like that again, even if it was a day early.

4. Gift Expectations
Every year when it comes to gifts, I don’t really care for anything much, to be honest. I will be more than happy with just a thoughtful card, some candy, and a hug, honestly. Gift-giving has never been, is not, and might never be my love language (except for when it comes to the birthday balloons. I really like them for some reason). I’m more of a quality time kind of person. So, this year, with the pandemic that we’re going through, I really don’t expect much from friends, and I hope they understand that, and that they just send me a cute birthday message or something. Now, more than ever, they have an excuse to not give me anything, and I’m honestly grateful for it, because I hate getting gifts. Again, this is an extremely privileged point of view, but I’m kind of hoping that I don’t get much from friends (I say I’m hoping, because as I’m writing this, my birthday is still a day away). I’d rather they take that money and donate it, especially given the state of many hospitals.
All in all, COVID-19 has completely mixed up all of our expectations for this year. Nearly everything was flipped upside down, and it’s weird times we’re going through. Even if my birthday isn’t exactly how I pictured it, I’m still fortunate enough for the things I listed to be unusual, and not just common birthday experiences. I’m happy that every year I’m able to go out with friends, eat at my favorite places, get spoiled with balloons, that my friends are always excited for me and give me thoughtful gifts. The main thing I’m disappointed about is the BTS concert, but that’s okay, there will always be next time. Hopefully this’ll all be resolved sooner rather than later, and before we know it, we’ll be back to celebrating everything with our friends and family.

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Finding Strength in Emma Joy https://mrhsridgereview.org/2966/features/finding-strength-in-emma-joy/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/2966/features/finding-strength-in-emma-joy/#respond Fri, 01 May 2020 21:04:31 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=2966 For Emmy, ’cause of everything that you are and then some.


I met the eldest Padely on the strangest of terms, having sorta half known her from my Freshman year, yet not really ever interacting with her; her being my R.R. boss this year didn’t really help the situation. Yet, after months of building a strong friendship over the course of this year, I can say that never have I ever met someone who is the epitome of courage and dignity, while always holding onto the sweetest smile. Emma Joy Padelford is one of my closest friends, and for a good reason; her story is an inspiring epic that has faithfully held with me, thus I felt inclined to share her tale of excellence and admiration. 


Emma Padelford’s life has been an eventful one, to say the least. Sometimes they say that it’s impossible to tell the story of someone else’s life, which is fair, thus pushing me to do the best I can; they also say that the best stories start at the beginning, so I suppose I’m under some obligation to start there. ‘There’ being, California, but really Dallas, Texas (since she moved at a really young age, plus, California is gross, who’d ever want to start their story there?!). 


Miss Padely spent her true-youth in Dallas, initially moving there to raise a church but staying for a long while. Growing up alongside toothy-grinned southerners, while being enveloped by her Christian family, helped her grow in love and faith when it mattered most. 


“My life in Texas meant everything to me…even though I was super young, I was developing my faith a lot at that time,” Emma said with sincerity. 

Of course, not all good things last forever as we all know, and Emma would find herself moving to Arizona with her family where she’d remain a Desert Rat to the current day. The move was a tough one that deeply impacted her as a whole, including her social life and core values. 


“I started school [in Arizona] in the sixth grade, which was really annoying for me,” Emma said, noting how the shift from the cordial Southern environment to the bitter nature of the Southwest deeply affected her. Noticing just how rude people could truly be gave her some new perspective, one that she would hold onto throughout high school, noting: “As a kid you’re brought up thinking everything is all happy and there’s just joy in the world…I guess it helped me think more realistically about things.”


Speaking of high school, Emma Joy’s teenage years would definitely go the long mile in impacting her the most. Starting off her freshman year with few friends and little on her sleeve, the eldest Padely found that she’d have to take advantage of everything available to her in order to enjoy both high school and her life (and, spoiler alert, she did, duh). 


Whether it be her church group, or her growing interests in medical science, Padelford found a way. Her church group specifically would help her grow as a person, with her faith taking dominion over her life. 


“My freshman year was when I was able to grow the most in my faith; I’d say my faith was probably the most important thing looking over the entire course of my life,” Emma said. 


With Emma’s faith came a strong flow of strength and empowerment, allowing her to grow as a person especially in her values and personality. Yet, that wouldn’t be the only thing she’d work with to succeed; Emma conjoined her religious values with her struggle against Type-1 Diabetes in order to truly evolve into the person she is today, one that’s inspiring and courageous. 


After nearly being killed by her condition, in a story that I lack obligation to describe yet feel is necessary to bring up, Emma Joy found herself relying more and more on her Christian values; the constant hospital visits are what would garner her more courage, considering the hostile nature of a clinical setting and the horrific sight of a dripping needle. To be direct, the constant exposure and risks that came with her condition allowed her to build strength in her faith, as mentioned, but also in her courage and general; quite importantly, the nature of the situation would also amount to her growing love for the medical science field. 


“Being diagnosed with diabetes helped me overcome my fear of the hospital and doctors and all that and it actually inspired me to pursue my career in healthcare!” Emma said, noting that she’d love to be a P.A. (Physicians Assistant) in particular in order to have enough time to spend with her family while still maintaining a fluid and valuable career. 


Family, among other things, aren’t something that I’ve brought up yet, are they? I should probably take a break right about now to speak further on Emma as a person (and offer more credence as to why she’s amazing and one of my best friends). 


Emma Joy is one of those particular kinds of people that you can’t stay mad at; she’s helpful, kind, forgiving, honest – loving, brave, interesting and, well, joyful. I’m not sure if I can appropriately conjure up enough positive adjectives to describe her, because, while as a good friend of hers I have seen the dimwitted, annoying, and pesty sides of her, I think it’s probably best to just let her describe herself. 

“I have a lot of energy; I’m crazy, goofy, ya’ know?” said Emma, which made both of us laugh. She’s really just one of the most interesting and amazing people, which is usually impossible for me to say without sounding like a suck-up (but I mean it this time, I swear!). “I love people, I’m a people person; I’m also a people pleaser,” Emma said, the “people-pleaser” part of her personality being something that she’s had to fight off and develop throughout her four years at Ridge in order to grow stronger as a person. 


The love Emma has for her family is another big deal to her, stating that it’s “more important” to her than anything else in the world. The tight-knit, Christian values she has with her family of 6 have allowed them to all grow very close to each other. Her sister Ava Grace Padelford, the second eldest between Emma and her two brothers, is her best friend and the two of them can often be found goofing around in the newspaper class and outside of school. 


Anyways, back to her story; being the fantabulous crazy-goon she is, Emma grew a lot throughout high school with her faith and growing passions in the medical sciences. Through church in particular, Emma met up with a lot of close friends who she’s still growing with today. Growing more and more social, as well as more invested in her career interests, high school became an amazing experience for Emma (bettered by her experiences writing for the newspaper). 


Starting newspaper in her sophomore year, as previously mentioned, Emma would enjoy it a lot, noting that she has liked “seeing how it changes and and all that jazz over the years.” While it’s not going to be a part of the career path she has chosen, going off to GCU (Grand Canyon University) to become major in Biology, it’s definitely been an important part of her high school career.  


While her senior year came to a bitter-sweet early ending, getting to shed more of her shell in Newspaper, as well as finding new experiences with burgeoning friendships and the empowering long-distance relationship with her boyfriend Patrick Lewis (who lives back in California) have both been great experiences for her. 


I’m definitely excited to see where Emma ends up in the future (I know I’ll be forcing her to get coffee with me and the true-progenitor of the online newspaper Kate down in Phoenix at some point), but before she goes she has a few things that she’d like to let people know, both for their good fortune and so they can find the same strength and values she has over the years. 


“I honestly think that the world just needs more love in it, ‘cause, it’s just so dark all the time,” Emma said, “I think if the world just stops being so self-absorbed and takes the time to reach out to someone else for once we will be a lot more healthy.” 


Wanting the best for everyone and the world as a whole, Emma has made it clear that she encourages everyone to be their best selves, find their passions and try to make the world a better place through their efforts. 


The sole statement (well, that’s not entirely true, as Emma is a bottomless pit of usually-useful bits of wisdom) that Emma decided to share with the reader today and anyone else interested, is that you should “Always remember to give yourself a pat on the back, because you are good enough – you go girl! *laughs*.” This being derived by Emma’s previous issues with having confidence and faith in herself, something that took her a long time to destroy. 


I guess I could go on and on about Emma and all of the experiences that she’s had, as well as all of the delightful one’s that I’ve gotten to have with her. I mean, I say all of this from the bottom of my heart because I’ve seen her at her most vulnerable (and thus most lovely and transparent). From the trip to downtown Phoenix, to the time in which we carved a Shrek pumpkin (lovingly dubbed the Ridge Review Shrumpkin), I’ve seen the best of Emma Joy. She’s amazing, and I’ve never regretted a single moment that I’ve gotten to spend with her. 


She’s not going to be here at Ridge anymore, and thus she won’t be writing for the Newspaper or gracing campus with her ever-lasting toothy smile. I’ll be gone too, in good time actually, but I felt like it was necessary to offer at least the slightest bit of commemoration to her life and accomplishments. 


I consider her my sister for good reason, and while most of you may never get to enjoy the experience that is chilling with Emma Joy Padelford, sharing with our audience my limited view of her amazing life-experience, as well as the bits of careful advice she has to share, well, it was the least that I could do. 

I love you Adington! Ugh, I think I’m gonna pass out…” Emma to me on anesthetics while I was eating lunch, shortly after having her wisdom teeth removed. 

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Get Ready for Promchella 2020 https://mrhsridgereview.org/2963/features/get-ready-for-promchella-2020/ https://mrhsridgereview.org/2963/features/get-ready-for-promchella-2020/#respond Wed, 29 Apr 2020 21:27:34 +0000 https://mrhsridgereview.org/?p=2963 Upperclassmen all over the country are mourning the loss of prom, a rite of passage event many were looking forward to. Despite the devastating delays caused by Covid-19, a group of Arizona juniors and seniors are working together to throw a prom of their own to commemorate the year, and give the class of 2020 the night they deserve.


Promchella will be a 2 day statewide prom scheduled to take place on July 17th and 18th. The venue has not been disclosed yet, but it will be located somewhere in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. 


Austin Morrow, class president of Chandler High School and president of the Promchella Student Advisory Board is working with Nick’s Menswear owner Josh Fink, a team of sponsors, and some of the best event planners in the state to give students back their prom.


“If this event is deemed safe to have in July, this event is going to be bigger than any of these high school kids have ever seen,” says Fink. 


The party is set to feature live music from local and national artists, DJ’s, food trucks, dancing, and a firework show to conclude both nights. The FAQ page on the Promchella website gives more information for students, parents, potential vendors, and sponsors. 


Although so much is still uncertain, and despite the effects of the coronavirus canceling events all the way through the fall of 2020, thousands of students across the Valley are counting down to Promchella. 


“This opportunity is giving so many people the chance to make these experiences, to go on with their lives, to bring back closure, and to bring the high school experience to an end,” says Austin Morrow. 


Early Bird tickets are set to go on sale for $70 before June 1st, and all ticket proceeds will go toward local charities. Single tickets will admit a prom-goer for one day, but there will be bundle-deals so students have the opportunity to attend both days. 


For more information, please visit promchellaaz.com for more details and follow @PromchellaAZ on Instagram for upcoming information. 

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