Writers say SWAG will let student voices soar
For a group of aspiring young writers, the future starts now with the introduction of the 2018-19 Student Writers Advisory Group.
SWAG is comprised of students from Wilsonville, West Linn, Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools. Group members were chosen by the staff of the Spokesman and Lake Oswego Review after applying to be a part of a team of unique voices — our post-millennial eyes and ears.
Each month, they'll bring their unique perspectives on a variety of topics to the newspapers' pages. Past groups have written about everything from teen drivers and the "college game" to school start times, bullying and racism. For November, we asked them to tell us a little about themselves.
Here are their stories:
West Linn High School
Communities are the backbone of my growth. I consider myself a part of many, including West Linn High School, Lake Oswego Swim Club and the growing Syrian collective in the Portland area.
Although they have all positively shaped my character over the past 15 years, being a part of such a widespread group of communities presented an issue: Which version of Reem was real?
The answer lies in writing. By not only learning about but also portraying the communities that shaped me, I was able to find which traits I had acquired from each group and how that melded into my personality.
From my 11 years in school, I developed a drive that was furthered by swimming's greatest value: hard work. These factors lead to my ultimate goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer, stemming from my growing awareness of the unjust discrimination that I have witnessed as a Syrian woman.
My goal with writing is to inspire others who feel different because of the diversity of their support systems. My desired message to readers is to embrace their "oddness," because it is important; it is their voice. In my case, my communities meshed together to become my voice, a representation for all the communities that built me.
Wilsonville High School
Ainsley Mayes here. I am a freshman at Wilsonville High School with a passion for writing that I have carried with me since childhood. This is my first year as a part of SWAG, and I am excited to be able to report on current events and subjects impacting our community while better educating myself about journalism.
At school, I am involved in choir and our fall musical, "Legally Blonde," directed by Jason Katz. I am taking AP Human Geography this year, as I am hoping to challenge myself. I soon hope to be participating in Model United Nations, and to play an active role in school leadership.
I am keen to analyze and voice my opinions on current events in today's society and hope to make our community more well-informed and educated on what is going on in our world today. I value education and empowerment, and believe that we can make the world a better place if our society is more well-informed and accepting of progressive change.
My goal for this year is to become a more involved and active member of the community of Wilsonville. I am looking forward to a fun-filled freshman year and I am hoping for a prosperous year for the people of Wilsonville as well.
Wilsonville High School
One of the main things I hear from high school students is that they're tired.
In middle school and even freshman year, this was a claim I only understood on a shallow level. Now, only a month or so into my junior year, I don't just believe that school is exhausting, I feel it. I'll be the first to admit that I say the words "I'm tired" at least twice a day.
The easiest solution for dealing with schoolwork would be to drop any extracurriculars and do only what is required. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's considered it, nor am I the only one who has come home with so much homework that it's impossible to even know where to begin. So why participate in SWAG?
When an opportunity arises, the prospect of extra work can cloud your perspective and make you forget about the possibility of feeling passionate about something. I joined my school's tennis team as a freshman mostly because I felt obligated to do a sport during my high school career. To my pleasant surprise, I found that I enjoyed the sport, and the fact that I had always been comically unathletic just made the success I felt when I played tennis that much more satisfying.
There aren't a lot of chances for students my age to have their thoughts presented on a platform like the newspaper. I've always thought that everyone has something to say that is worth listening to. With every risk I take and every opportunity I go after, the more I realize that I have a lot to say as well.
Wilsonville High School
My name is Patrick Tarmy. I am a senior at Wilsonville High School and have lived in Wilsonville since 2005.
I grew up playing on all of the youth sports programs and played on the boys varsity lacrosse team. I am a member of SWAG because I believe that journalism is a key part of our society. I think that being able to share my writing and ideas with others is a great way to further connect myself to the Wilsonville community.
I would personally recommend to any student who is interested in joining SWAG to give it a shot. I think the fact that our community offers a way for our voices to be heard is a truly amazing opportunity that more of our students should take advantage of.
As a columnist I am really looking forward to being able to express my personal opinions and get the chance to work with my fellow students. I would love to get the chance to listen to their opinions on subjects we might not agree on. It is also a great way to better my vocabulary and learn from experienced writers and journalists.
I am very excited with this opportunity and cannot wait to get started.
Lake Oswego High School
Who am I? I am not entirely sure how to answer that question, short of simply replying "Elena Lee," which would be both true and entirely unhelpful. Perhaps I should start with the basics.
I am a 17-year-old senior at Lake Oswego High School. I have lived in Lake Oswego for 15 of those 17 years (which makes it all the more astonishing that I still manage to get lost in the Westlake neighborhood), a fact for which I am grateful for many reasons, chief among them being my proximity to Powell's City of Books.
In my spare time, which has grown far too scarce of late, I might be reading a new book or re-reading an old favorite, playing tennis, running, taking a walk with my family, spending time with friends or stargazing. I also enjoy playing the violin, although the "fun" factor depends on how much I feel like practicing on any given day.
Much to the dismay of many friends and family members, I despise coconut (even in Samoas) and pineapple on pizza, but I love dark chocolate, roasted beets, cream cheese frosting and peaches. My favorite animal is a lobster, and I am looking forward to the lobster emoji on iOS 12.1. Someday, I would like to see the Aurora Borealis and live in a cottage with a thatched roof, a secret passageway and a vegetable garden.
As a returning member of SWAG this year, I am looking forward to sharing my opinions and eccentricities with the Lake Oswego community. Since I am usually a quiet individual whose voice has a pitifully small maximum decibel level, I find writing to be the most effective means of communicating my ideas. When I write, I force myself to consider my perspective from new angles, to analyze my logic and question my own views. After all, writing is a form of self-reflection and self-communication, and by splashing my ideas onto the page, I can begin to understand my own mind.
Hopefully, my monthly musings can inspire others, or at least provoke a bit of thought and consideration. At the very least, I hope I can provide a bit of amusement from the trials, tribulations and experiences of my senior year.
Lake Oswego High School
My name is Olivia Weng, and I'm in my last year of high school. Sometimes, I can't believe how fast these past years have gone, but at other times, I find myself desperately wishing to graduate as soon as possible. It's a weird in-between where I feel about 13 years old, while at the same time I'll see a freshman and think, they're so small.
I've lived in Lake Oswego almost all my life, having moved here from New York when I was 2. My growing up went as planned, going from elementary school to middle school and finally, to high school. I particularly enjoy art-related things, ranging from painting to ceramics. I've grown up taking art classes, and it's always been a place where I can retreat away from the world, spending hours working.
I also have danced since I was quite young, and while I am currently not deeply involved in any dance-related activities, I hope that I can find something in college that will fit me.
This is my second year writing for SWAG, and I'm excited for what's to come. It's always interesting to hear what my peers are discussing each month, to learn new points and issues that surround our school, community and nation. And of course, being a part of SWAG allows me to put my own opinion out there too.
I've never been the most outspoken or loudest, so being able to write about my own thoughts and opinions through SWAG is a meaningful opportunity for me. I truly think it's great that I can put my voice out there, all the while learn-ing and growing through the community of peers around me.
I hope for one last successful year of SWAG, and I'm anticipating all the topics to come!
Lake Oswego High School
If I were to describe myself with one sentence, this would be it: I am a short Jewish girl from New Jersey who loves mountains, writing, ceramics and long phone calls. Simplified, my role is a student writer, but more importantly, I contribute as an adventurer, activist, artist and friend.
I spend much of my time around trees (or some form of greenery). I run through Tryon Creek State Natural Area on weekends to find peace; I spent the month of July hiking 100 miles in Alaska, some days in clear, open skies and others in grueling, near-freezing rain.
Along with my peers from Lake Oswego and Lakeridge, I also help organize the group Students for Change, which seeks to educate, advocate and legislate to reduce gun violence. Within weeks of the Parkland shooting, we bused 350 Lake Oswego students to Salem to advocate for change with legislators, and since the beginning of the school year, we have partnered with March for Our Lives PDX and state Sen. Rob Wagner to submit seven legislative proposals in anticipation of the upcoming legislative session.
At school, the ceramics studio acts as my refuge. Through a process called "mishima," I am currently focused on sketching cellular patterns and carving them into my ceramic cups and bowls, pieces that will join a larger portfolio throughout the year.
Within the realm of writing and journalism, I currently serve as the opinion editor for the LOHS student newspaper Lake Views, and run our remodeled website (lohslakeviews.com). In my past reporting, I've addressed pressing issues ranging from Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation to the severe lack of heat in the high school science hall. (I try to keep my perspectives diverse).
As a returning member of SWAG, I seek to challenge the archetype of the teenager by focusing on youth perspectives both in and out of school. I hope to not only illustrate the student body as academic, but also as a creative, diverse collective.
Lake Oswego High School
Hi there! My name is Andrea Yang, and I am a junior at Lake Oswego High School. I'm thrilled to be writing with SWAG for a second year.
This year, I'm hoping to widen the scope of our focus and look at the overall health of our community. Rather than simply pointing out small concerns, I'd like to broaden my perspective and see more of the big picture. Our community, as interconnected as it already is, has so much to offer to its constituents, but there are always ways in which we can improve.
I am excited to continue to write about topics that I'm enthusiastic about — national and local politics, school, culture, and lifestyle (to name a few). With so much going on in the world, there's much to learn from others. I hope that by combining my personal experiences with current events and issues, I can bring certain things to light with SWAG and beyond.
As a native Lake Oswegan, I've grown up reading The Review and The Oregonian. Outside of SWAG, I am part of Lake Oswego High School's student newspaper Lake Views, and the school's speech and debate team. Language and communication have always been a passion of mine, and I hope that SWAG will help me refine my critical thinking skills and open another pathway into improving our community.
Lake Oswego High School
Hello. My name is Lily DeVine. I am a junior at Lake Oswego High School, and this is my third year with SWAG.
I applied to SWAG because I love reporting and researching news stories. Along with that, I am obsessed with writing. When not writing news columns, I write fictional stories and manifestos.
In addition, I enjoy singing for my school's choir, reading cliché young adult novels, crying over homework due dates, planning dance numbers that are amateur versions of Sia music videos, creating reviews of horrible movies, and making disgusting fat-free food.
I also get annoyed by laptops and people reading their poems from their phones on Button Poetry.
Nonetheless, as a columnist, I look forward to staying updated on news cycles and continuing as a news source for readers. Further, I think SWAG is a great opportunity to learn more about writing and how to appeal to different audiences. Since I plan on becoming either a professional journalist or an English professor, I think SWAG is the perfect place, besides school, to refine my writing.
Ultimately, I think SWAG this year will be fascinat-
ing and, as it has been in
years past, an informative experience as a writer.