Letting voices be heard:Meet the 2017 SWAG
The future for these aspiring writers starts now. These short biographies introduce the 2017-18 members of the Student Writers Advisory Group (SWAG). The student writers were chosen by staff after applying to be a part of a team of unique voices — our millennial eyes and ears. SWAG is comprised of students from Lake Oswego High School, Lakeridge High School and West Linn High School and will be printed in the Lake Oswego Review and the West Linn Tidings. Each will bring a unique perspective to varying topics each month. Here's a peek at the lives of our student writers:
LOHS: Olivia Weng
Olivia Weng, a junior at Lake Oswego High School, was born in Rochester, N.Y. before moving to Lake Oswego at the age of two. When asked where she would live if she could live anywhere, Weng said she wants to live in any place that makes her feel at home. But she said she couldn't imagine herself living anywhere other than the West Coast since it has been her home for most of her life.
In her free time, Weng likes spending time with friends, dancing and painting landscapes. Weng enjoys going on vacation with her two brothers and family because they are able to talk and laugh together, instead of sit in separate rooms to watch TV.
However, when she is watching TV, Weng enjoys watching medical mystery shows, but secretly admits to liking Asian TV shows.
Weng said she likes to think one of her greatest strengths is making her friends laugh. One of the funniest stories from her childhood was the time she fought with her brother when she was younger. She then hid his iPod in the bottom of his dresser to get back at him and later forgot about it. He never found his iPod, so for the next few years, Weng's mom would talk about how irresponsible he was and Weng would laugh at him for having lost it. Eventually, when he did find it in the dresser, Weng said it was awkward when she realized it had been her fault.
If Weng had the ability to change the world, she would lower the stress faced by people around the world, because then people could enjoy life more and focus on helping others instead of constantly worrying.
Weng's interest in writing comes from her interest in reading books. She said she finds it extremely cool that an idea or story could reach so many people. Additionally, she said writing something makes her feel like she is creating something unique.
— Karthik Sreedhar
LOHS: Penny Spurr
Penny Spurr is the textbook Renaissance girl. She loves to read, sketch, cook, hike, debate, swim, eat and a laundry list of other verbs that could easily cover every page in this newspaper. A sophomore attending Lake Oswego High School, Spurr is passionate about everything she does.
She's a member of the Lake Oswego Swim Club and swims competitively, but she doesn't let that get in the way of competing in debate. She loves to cook pasta from scratch with her father, as well as create traditional Jewish foods. During the spring and summer months, she heads out on outdoor excursions with family and friends.
"REI is virtually my second home," Spurr said.
People might end the list of hobbies there, but not Spurr. She has an artistic side, working with mediums like pencil, pen and clay. Somehow, perhaps while traveling to other activities, Spurr finds the opportunity to religiously read the news, as well as write it.
Spurr manages all of these interests by ordering them.
"I prioritize my interests," Spurr said. "I'd say my top three are debate, art and science, and then underneath are a bunch of sub-interests. Underneath those I have hobbies, which I enjoy but don't see as my future."
Regardless of how she does it, Spurr has somehow managed to sneak enough time into her busy schedule to become a valued writer on the student newspaper.
— Joe Lantow
Lakeridge: Karthik Sreedhar
As a child, Karthik Sreedhar imagined you could board a plane and arrive in magnificent cities in the clouds.
Born in Champaign, Ill., he also thought that Illinois made up the entirety of the U.S. Now, a junior at Lakeridge High School, he really likes being around his family because they are not only supportive, but really funny.
Waking up each day, Sreedhar begins his morning rather ordinarily — the first thing he thinks about is what he's going to do during the day. In his free time, Sreedhar enjoys tennis, the piano and tae kwon do. His favorite thing about tae kwon do is that even though it is very physical, it is also beneficial to the mind. Testing and training involves never giving up and other characteristics that can help in life.
Living in such a large world today, Sreedhar wants to make a difference. One of his passions is to volunteer and help others. He thinks this is something everyone should do because not everyone is as fortunate and many people face hardships. Sreedhar thinks it is extremely important to give back if he can.
Time traveling is an impossible feat that has inspired many movies and many imaginations, but if it were possible, Sreedhar would go and witness the Great Emu War. This war involved military action taken to restrain the emu population but ultimately resulted in failure. Sreedhar considers this historical event to be something that would be entertaining to watch and be a part of.
Sreedhar also has a very logical explanation for an age old question. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, he said the egg must have came from a bird that was very similar to a chicken, which hatched a different egg. Then the egg must have contained a chicken. With such a simple answer, Sreedhar has easily answered this question.
As for why he likes to write, he said it's because there's no limit in writing. There are countless things to write about, from journals to novels. And speaking of novels, his favorite book is "And There Were None" by Agatha Christie.
— Olivia Weng
LOHS: Lily DeVine
Lily DeVine is a sophomore this year at Lake Oswego High School. This is her second year as a member of SWAG, and she returns to continue her growth as a writer and learn more about the community around her. At school, DeVine has a strong passion for history, math and English, which led her to invest in SWAG. Despite the fact that she can play volleyball and dance, her least favorite subject is physical education. DeVine's favorite musician is Brittany Howard, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes. The band produced albums such as "Boys & Girls," and "Sound & Color." DeVine is a strong supporter of her school's community and values its recognition of the arts. She is looking forward to sharing the art of journalism with many readers this year.
— Claire Petersen
LOHS: Erica Chiang
Juggling track, soccer, school and writing is an intricate balancing act for Lake Oswego High School junior Erica Chiang. But it's one she takes in stride. Chiang is on the Lake Oswego varsity soccer team, and has built her skill playing soccer for the last 12 years.
"I've made so many of my memories in the context of soccer," Chiang said.
This level of dedication has become a running theme in Chiang's life, and it comes across in other sports as well. Since sixth grade, Chiang has been running track.
"This past year, I got sixth place in the 400m at the 6A state meet," Chiang said.
Using and understanding language has been a passion of Chiang's as well, and it's one that she approaches with the same focus as with sports.
"I really enjoy writing about values and personal experiences," Chiang said.
Chiang's experiences have broadened after traveling to places like Taiwan and Peru. Chiang hopes to travel more in the future because of the cultural understandings she's developed.
Writing represents a new challenge and opportunity for Chiang, and she will bring her ideas, experiences and talents to the newspaper by working with SWAG.
— Wallace Milner
WLHS: Wallace Milner
Many people might find themselves sleeping at 4 a.m., but this is not always the case for Wallace Milner, who is a huge fan of the Chelsea soccer team in England. Because of the eight hour time difference, this junior from West Linn High School will sometimes wake up at insufferable hours to watch his favorite team play.
As with many meaningful relationships, this one began by chance. Milner walked into a store wanting to support an English soccer team and bought the cheapest shirt they had — a Chelsea jersey.
"Little did I realize I'd be dragged into a lifelong commitment," Milner said.
Of course, his dedication to the sport also manifests on his own soccer teams, the West Linn JV team and his Crossfire club team. And since teams always need strong and dedicated leaders, Milner has deservingly earned his spot as the captain of his high school team.
As inspiring as his own leadership qualities may be, Milner still looks up to certain role models with respect. Successful reporters like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, who both dedicated their lives to the impactful work they did, serve as inspirations for Milner, who hopes to become a professional journalist. His experience writing for the Amplifier — the school newspaper — has reinforced his desire to pursue freedom of expression and hopefully impact society through journalism. One particularly influential event in his writing life was when he wrote an article shortly after the 2016 election about the need for people to come together.
"It certainly wasn't my best writing, but at the end of the day, someone told me it made them feel a little better, a little more hopeful," Milner said. "To have helped someone with your writing, even in a small way, is a wonderful feeling" — a feeling that he will, no doubt, encounter many more times in his life.
His passion for writing and the thoughtfulness he exudes will make him a great addition to SWAG this year!
— Erica Chiang
LOHS: Joe Lantow
It wouldn't be unfair to assume that Joe Lantow is the child every parent wishes to raise. A senior at Lake Oswego High School, he's independent, studious and well-spoken. The youngest of four brothers, Lantow spent a significant amount of his childhood out in nature.
"I practically grew up in Tryon Creek (State Park)," he said.
Since his days in the park, Lantow has developed a vast awareness of the world around him, including government, economics and politics. He's especially passionate about history, and has nearly exhausted the variety of history classes LOHS has to offer.
"It's fascinating and fulfilling learning about what has happened in the past, and that there are no set answers but definite trends," Lantow said.
Like his brothers, Lantow is deeply involved in school politics. He regularly addresses school policy in his column for Lakeviews, the school newspaper, and recently created a "Young Libertarian Club," a platform where students can learn about and vocalize Libertarianism.
When he finds a few spare minutes of free time, Lantow enjoys listening to historical podcasts — his favorite being "Hardcore History with Dan Carlin" — reading philosophical and political books and occasionally playing video games. He also participates in LOHS Speech and Debate and throws javelin for track. As he prepares for college, Lantow has narrowed his interests to political science, law and philosophy.
"I joined the Lake Oswego Review student writers group because I'm interested in the news and spreading the truth," Lantow said.
— Penny Spurr
Lakeridge: Claire Petersen
Last year, Claire Petersen published her first articles through SWAG. SWAG has helped the young author perfect her craft of writing. In the future, Petersen would like to write more features that pay attention to the public.
Petersen is much more than a gifted journalist, she is also a talented photographer and artist. Besides that, Petersen enjoys gymnastics, riding her bike and golfing in her free time. On the few occasions Petersen is not overpowered by homework and after-school activities, she favors quality time with her sister.
When Petersen is not busy with writing and other hobbies, she works hard in school. The subjects Petersen appreciates the most include art, english and oceanography. Moreover, Petersen cherishes history because of the mystery of human existence. In order for Petersen to explore her studies further, she will also be seen in Oregon Model United Nations this April.
Petersen is more than a famous journalist in the making, she is also determined to resolve societal issues with her peers. Petersen is an insightful columnist any aspiring writer would be lucky to learn from.
— Lily DeVine