This “Wednesday” Watcher is Full of Woe

by Randall Hatfield, staff writer

This review contains spoilers for episodes 1-8 of Wednesday.

JANUARY 2022 — Netflix’s “Wednesday” takes a fresh spin on the Addams Family, but its conventional plot and contradictory messaging hinder its potential to be a great horror comedy.

The show is an eight-episode spin off of the popular Addams Family franchise, focusing on the life of the family’s daughter, Wednesday Addams, and her misadventures at a school for outcasts, Nevermore Academy.

Actress Jenna Ortega plays the character of Wednesday Addams. She previously starred in shows like Disney Channel’s “Stuck in the Middle” and the Netflix adaptation of “You.” As Wednesday, Ortega wears the character’s signature pigtails, as well as an all black-and-white wardrobe. Screenshot by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

Since its Nov. 23 release, “Wednesday” skyrocketed in popularity, ultimately becoming the 2nd most viewed Netflix show in the platform’s history.


The show takes liberties in deviating from past incarnations of the Addams Family. The show has a promising cast, starring Jenna Ortega as Wednesday alongside Emma Myers as Enid Sinclair, Percy Hynes White as Xavier Thorpe, and Joy Sunday as Bianca Barclay. Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday in the 1991 Addams Family film, as well as the 1993 sequel, “Addams Family Values” also returns to play Marylin Thornhill, a teacher at Wednesday’s school.

In the show’s world, “outcast” is used to describe any kind of inhuman individual. Werewolves, vampires, and all kinds of spooky individuals exist as a social minority. They are sent to specialized schools, and regarded with fear and unease from human society at large.

People fear the outcasts, because they don’t understand them.

Another change setting “Wednesday” apart from its predecessors is Wednesday’s Latina heritage. In other Addams media, her father Gomez had been from the Castilla region of Spain, but this show strongly implies that he instead has Mexican roots. In one scene, Wednesday references her family celebrating the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, and Ortega — who has Mexican and Puerto-Rican ancestry herself — stated in a behind-the-scenes interview that she intended to represent the Latinx community with her character.

Gomez (Luis Guzmán) and Wednesday’s brother Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez) are also played by Latino actors. The cast’s added representation, though rarely mentioned, helps to give viewers a brief glimpse into the Addams family tree and the culture of its members.

However, not every change “Wednesday” makes is a welcome one. One notable difference from past Addams Family media is the more strained relationship between Wednesday and her parents. The show opts to go for a more edgy and “rebellious teen” avenue with this part of her character. Interactions between Wednesday and Morticia are filled with verbal venom, and her parents feel the need to send her to boarding school altogether.

Comparing this to Morticia and Gomez from 1991’s “The Addams Family” reveals just how much these characters have changed. In that film, they were proud of their defiance of social norms and accepting of their children and their quirks, provided their mischief did not put them in danger.

Wednesday and Enid’s costuming allows viewers to get a feel for their personalities visually. The character’s outfits, expressiveness, and demeanors help to establish the way the two will interact from the moment they first meet on screen. Screenshot by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

In “Wednesday,” it feels like this charm of the Addams family has been lost. Moreover, because there are now so many outcasts in the show, it makes the family stand out less.

In fairness, however, this show isn’t the 1991 film. The family’s new personality does not detract from “Wednesday” for the most part, and their limited presence allows viewers to pay closer attention to Wednesday and learn more about who she is.

Wednesday’s character seems to have remained relatively the same as in her other iterations. She is still dark, dreary, and monotone. She relishes death and all things grim, and she is a lone wolf. Wolves are better in packs, though, and Wednesday begins gathering her own, beginning with her arrival at Nevermore. Her most compelling friendship is the one she shares with her werewolf roommate and character foil, Enid Sinclair. A common trope with upbeat characters is for their positivity to be their only personality trait, but Enid subverts this. She is willing to stand up for herself when Wednesday is rude to her during their first weeks together.

Opposites tend to attract, and over the course of the show, Wednesday and Enid are able to become close friends. As the show progresses, Wednesday opens herself up, making it clear that they have rubbed off on one another.


Wednesday is not the easiest person to be friends with, however. Her manipulative nature often leads to those around her getting hurt. As the show goes on, it can be challenging to keep rooting for her to succeed while so many people are caught in the crossfire.

Tyler, Wednesday’s love interest and one of the series’ twist antagonists, reveals to her his true identity as the Hyde. The CGI used in such a climactic moment undermines the tension of the scene. Screenshot by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

For example, in the sixth episode, Wednesday tricks both Enid and her love interest, Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan) into exploring a dangerous abandoned house. Not only does she lie to them about where they are going, but she puts their lives at risk when a monster arrives at the house while they are still inside.

In another scene, believing that her classmate Xavier Thorpe is the murderous monster terrorizing the town, she plants evidence from the monster’s real victims in his studio. This is used as evidence by the police, who then chain him up and lock him in a cell for some time.

Wednesday’s lack of apologies to the people she hurts makes her resolutions with friends feel hollow, and makes these scenes feel more frustrating as a result.

“Wednesday’s” resolution may be its weakest aspect. The last two episodes of the show carry nearly half of the show’s narrative, leading to a dramatic but somewhat unsatisfying ending. 

The show’s climax has particularly noteworthy CGI, though not for the right reasons. The Hyde, the monster causing all of the show’s murders, is computer-animated, and its bizarre appearance clashes with the dark tone of the scenes it is in.

The show’s heroes, unfortunately, were not spared the CGI treatment either. Enid transforms into a werewolf for the first time to protect Wednesday from the Hyde, and her new appearance rides an uncanny line between the real and the animated.

Enid’s wolf transformation is an especially confusing plot point. Much of her character revolves around her inability to “wolf out” like her family and peers. The show even goes out of its way to display the tension this causes between her and her parents, who mention they plan to send her to a werewolf “conversion camp.” The blatant reference to conversion therapy seems to imply her lack of transformation to be a metaphor for being queer, but then what is this scene’s message? Though unintentional, the show’s mishandling of the theme seems to present queerness as some kind of hurdle to overcome. Screenshot by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

“Wednesday” does successfully relay its message. Its theme of accepting each other’s differences comes across in the ways that the titular character grows and becomes closer with the different types of people around her. The show’s take on real-world prejudice could be improved, though. The division of outcasts and humans is done relatively surface-level in the show. Outcast dynamics outside of Jericho are not explored, and the show’s in-universe othering doesn’t dive into nor comment on the intricacies of actual discrimination.

The show’s many lacking themes may be further explored in Season 2, which was officially confirmed by Netflix Jan. 6.

Though little about its plot is known, hopefully the next part of Wednesday’s story improves on its strengths and abandons its weaknesses, giving us a ghoulish new chapter that shines brighter than the first.

Arts & Culture Review

Daisy Blooms Into Management at her Summit Artspace Internship

By Audrey Fusillo, staff writer

JANUARY 2023 — Accepting. Joyful. Community. These are three words that Daisy Berry, a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy, used to describe her position as the Events and Administrative Intern at Summit Artspace in downtown Akron.

As an aspiring entrepreneur interested in both arts and community work, Berry chose to pursue an internship in the arts industry. She started her journey by reaching out to Summit Artspace, a familiar nonprofit organization close to home.

Pictured above is Berry (middle) alongside co-workers Natalie Grieshammer (left) and Bio-Med senior Randall Hatfield (right). Taken during Summit Artspace’s Summer ArtWalk, this was Berry’s first time participating in the city-wide event. Photo provided by Heather Meeker.

“I live in the East Side of Akron, so [Summit Artspace] is really close to me. I visited a couple of times before I applied to the internship,” Berry said. “I first found out about it when I was pretty young, and my parents took me there.”

Pictured above is Berry at a professional development workshop hosted at Summit Artspace. This was her first day on the job as an intern where Berry would later participate in a movement activity alongside art teachers to connect creatively. Photo provided by Heather Meeker.

Summit Artspace helps support the community by hosting local artists within their galleries. As a nonprofit, it is led by a board of directors and receives support from donors.

Berry said, “I wanted to [do] something local [for my internship] that focused on the arts and was a very community-centered space. I’m definitely not an artist, but I really love to support and enjoy the arts.”

Berry reached out to the Summit Artspace Executive Director, Heather Meeker, regarding an internship opportunity during her junior year of high school.

Meeker shared, “My first impression of Daisy was that she’s smart, curious, and a thorough student who is a clear asset to any team.”

After a successful interview, Meeker offered Berry an internship.

“Once Daisy expressed interest, I asked her what areas of arts administration she would be interested in exploring, and we crafted an internship around that,” Meeker said. “[Daisy] works with us in community events and engagement, social media, and special events planning.”

As a high schooler moving into entrepreneurship, Berry aspires to open a bookstore that she can sell local art in.

“I really want to create a community space for creative people to sell their work and support each other,” Berry said.

With Berry’s mission for her business being so similar to Summit Artspace’s, Berry has been observant of Meeker’s guidance.

“There are multiple times where I really just want to jot down notes about how to handle a small business and how to handle parts of a business, controlling people, [managing], and figuring things out,” Berry shared.

Berry could see how Summit Artspace’s team was essential to the non-profit’s success.

“We have exactly six employees, including the two Bio-Med interns that are there — Randall Hatfield and I — so it is a very small business,” Berry said.

Berry says that Meeker appreciates her two interns’ involvement in Summit Artspace.

“[The management] enjoys putting the little things to other people so they can focus on the bigger jobs of their work. It’s a very close-knit community, and we all care about each other a lot.”

Meeker ensures that the Summit Artspace staff regularly completes the smaller jobs she assigns to her interns.

“We want interns to see what it’s like to work in an arts-based nonprofit: the many constituents we serve, the artistic and educational projects we coordinate, and administrative tasks we must complete on a very lean budget with limited staff members,” Meeker said. “Working in the arts can be both rewarding and tough. There is no doubt that arts administrators wear many hats.”

Pictured above is Summit Artspace’s building in downtown Akron. Before Summit Artspace took over the county-owned building, it was home to the Akron Beacon Journal. With three floors and 55,000 square feet, Berry shared, “[The building] definitely has a lot of space that [the Summit Artspace] very much utilizes, which is very nice.” Photo by Audrey Fusillo.

One of Summit Artspace’s administrators, Development Assistant Antonio Rion, is a former Bio-Med long-term substitute who previously had Berry as a student. Berry and Rion frequently work on tasks together and have grown to know each other as colleagues.

Rion described Berry as hardworking, intelligent, open-minded, dependable, and trustworthy. Rion further characterized Berry as someone who overcomes challenges and persists in opportunities that help her grow.

Pictured above is one of Summit Artspace’s current exhibitions, “Our Voices Matter: A Community-Based Social Justice Art Exhibition.” Located in the Intersections Gallery and Hallways, K 12 students were challenged to engage with the community by addressing justice, inclusion, equity, and mental health issues. Photo by Audrey Fusillo.

“My first impression of [Berry] in a professional work setting was that she is ready to tackle any challenge, and if she is unsure of how to solve a problem, she can figure out a solution. Another impression of [Berry] is her passion for the arts and helping others find their love for art,” Rion said.

Rion continued, “I can have anything for [Berry], and I know that it will be completed on time [and to a] high standard. Daisy also brings unmatched energy to the team, always ready to help and step in no matter what. When collaborating on projects together, [Berry] will also help me get another point of view I may have yet to see.”

Berry’s problem-solving skills were challenged when she was thrown into Summit Artspace’s Summer ArtWalkduring her second week.

“We do this thing called quarterly ArtWalks where the entire city [of Akron] and all of the other art organizations put our different [art pieces] together. It’s like a big art activity across the city, so we have it in the Artspace,” Berry said.

“This [Summer ArtWalk] was [themed as] mental health and meditations,” Berry said. “I got to invite different mental health organizations from around the city that sometimes focus on art.”

On a day-to-day basis, Berry has learned how Summit Artspace works to collect art pieces and put them on display for the public.

“[Summit Artspace] is very focused on local art. We have these resident artists, so we give them a studio to work on their art,” Berry said. “When guests come in during open hours; they can explore their studios and buy the arts that the artists offer. We also invite in other local artist vendors.”

Guests can also explore galleries throughout the Summit Artspace building.

“[There are about] six or so [galleries], and a selection of the art in those galleries can be purchased. It’s all made locally. We have rotating [exhibits], and we accept shows from outside sources,” Berry said. “[Some galleries], such as the Kaleidoscope gallery, go through a voting process for the art [that is included].”

Pictured above are the framed and printed works from Berry’s favorite artist at the Artspace: Susan Yingling. Yingling takes local photos and creates a collage over them with different colored papers. Berry has bought two of her works so far. Photo provided by Daisy Berry.

Berry can jump into tasks at Summit Artspace regularly because of her schedule.

“I go two days a week on average from 9 [a.m.] to 3 [p.m.] on Tuesdays and Fridays,” Berry said. “On Tuesdays, I just work in my office. On Fridays, I spend half the day in my office and half at the desk during public hours, welcoming people as well as working on my stuff.”

Within Summit Artspace, Meeker encourages entrepreneurial and artistic professions for her residents and staff.

Meeker said, “Artists are inherently entrepreneurial by nature, and many are entrepreneurs in their professional practice. I believe that our work at Summit Artspace has an entrepreneurial spirit, even though we work within a nonprofit construct.”

With staff members interested in similar fields, Meeker finds it beneficial for Berry to work alongside them.

“I’m glad that she is interacting and serving individuals who work in this creative and professional realm every day,” Meeker said. “Seeing the breadth and depth of what entrepreneurs can be is tremendously helpful if your goal is to become one yourself.”

Berry’s observations as an intern have given her a new sense of empathy towards small businesses that she hadn’t had before working at the Summit Artspace.

“I’ve worked behind-the-scenes before. But seeing [community work] is so much different, because they have so much on their plates and so much they want and have to give,” Berry said. “They’re struggling every day and people don’t understand how much effort they’re putting into this and how much time and energy they have to spend.”

Meeker and Rion both have high hopes for Berry as she continues her internship at Summit Artspace.

“I hope she will see that her skills are valuable in the arts and that she will learn how to confidently navigate event management,” Meeker said. “Our organizational culture is very self-motivated, so I hope she feels more empowered in any future work environment after her time with us is over.”

To graduate, Bio-Med requires students a part of the class of 2023 to complete an internship, research project, or an independent study during their senior year.

Arts & Culture Bio-Med

Toxic Positivity: How Constant Happiness is Ruining The Mood

by Avery Miller, staff writer

JANUARY 2023 — A student sits down with a therapist ready to share how he’s feeling. It should be a safe place to express feelings without judgment.  The student begins to explain the emotions he has been experiencing but then is abruptly cut-off. Heis treated as if none of his problems would exist if he had a more positive outlook on the situation. He is told to look on the bright side, as if it was his fault for being depressed and he can simply choose to be happy. As a result, the student only feels more depressed, believing that he brought the problems on himself.

The graphic above shows examples of what should and shouldn’t be said in order to avoid practicing toxic positivity. The phrases in the green column can help treat emotions with empathy rather than the phrases in the red column which could invalidate how others are feeling. These phrases and examples were all pulled from previously sighted sources. Graphic created by Avery Miller, staff writer.

Morgan Whiteman, a junior at Bio-Med Science Academy, experienced this scenario first hand.

What Whiteman experienced is an example of toxic positivity, the practice of dismissing negative emotions and practicing false reassurances rather than empathy, according to Right as Rain, a website run by the University of Washington School of Medicine (UW Medicine).

Though toxic positivity is intended to provide comfort, this practice usually results in people feeling as if they are to blame for all of their negative emotions. Toxic positivity is also known as brightsiding or unreasonable optimism.

Using toxic positivity to cope with difficult emotions can stunt emotional intelligence. According to UW Medicine, “If you’re regularly forcing a positive outlook on yourself when your feelings are the opposite, it can take a toll on your mental health.”

Whiteman said, “If something bad happens to you, you can’t always make that happy. Some things are just really awful. That’s just how life works. If you’re always happy, you’re not actually healing from what hurt you or the trauma that occurred. You’re leaving the wound open.”

Dismissing negative emotions regularly can make it more difficult to deal with those emotions altogether, as they can become overwhelming, and, in turn, cause more negative emotions.

Evan Plymale, a freshman at Bio-Med, described toxic positivity as “suffocating” and said, “it’s a big issue.”

Reasonable optimism has its place, but before offering advice, having all of the information can help prevent toxic positivity.

According to Tiffany Sauber Millacci, Ph.D.’s article from PositivePsychology.com, telling someone in a harmful situation to dismiss those emotions and focus on the bright side could “cause even more danger for this individual, who may now view the [harm] as inconsequential.”

“People say you have to be happy, but you don’t. The best thing a friend can do is just listen. If they’re telling me to be happy, I feel like they didn’t even acknowledge how bad the thing was,” said Whiteman. “It makes me feel small.”

Pictured above are numerous stickers with positive sayings. Positivity is only toxic when it prevents people from processing negative feelings. Photo by Avery Miller, staff writer.

Toxic positivity is usually an attempt at comforting someone else when not knowing what to say. Though UW Medicine said it “usually isn’t intended to harm,” this response can make people feel alienated and as if they need to be fixed.

Using toxic positivity to handle difficult emotions could prevent two people from having a healthy relationship, because one or both of those people may feel like they aren’t being heard or their feelings aren’t valid.

Plymale said, “[People] just want to make the person they’re talking to happier. They don’t realize what they’re doing is bad. They just think, ‘you know, if being this positive will make [the situation] a little better, then if I’m even more positive, it will make them a lot better.’”

Millacci thinks that toxic positivity can be avoided by treating all emotions with empathy rather than dismissing them. If someone desires comfort, instead of being told to “look on the bright side,” they should be able to communicate openly.

Plymale has noticed that balance is key and mentioned how whenever he had something positive to say, one of his friends would always have something negative to counter it with.

“A little positivity is always nice. You don’t want to fall into thinking nothing matters and wondering ‘what’s the point in doing anything?’ but you also don’t want to ignore how you feel,” said Plymale.

He thinks the best thing to do is “Just be kind about it, [and] just say one positive thing and then let [your friend] talk.”

UW Medicine recommends practicing mindfulness, recognizing emotions as tools, admitting interpersonal mistakes, clarifying your needs, and feeling emotions to help avoid toxic positivity.

Whiteman similarly recommended “Stick to how you feel and don’t listen to your friends. There’s a difference between helping a friend and telling a friend what to feel. If your friends are telling you how to feel, don’t be their friend.”

Harvard psychologist, Susan David, believes that happiness shouldn’t be the goal. Instead, she believes that people should focus on what they value and that “happiness becomes an outstanding byproduct of that focus.”

Arts & Culture Bio-Med General Interest

Goodwin: She’s a Good One

by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

Pictured is a photo that was given to Goodwin by her students after finishing student teaching. Students signed their names and wrote notes to wish Goodwin luck. Photo provided by Abigayle Goodwin.

JANUARY 2023 — Abigayle Goodwin, Bio-Med Science Academy’s seventh through 12th-grade art teacher, began her first year teaching in August 2022.

Majoring in Art Education, Goodwin attended Kent State University and graduated May 2022. She was also a part of Kent State’s Charter of Ohio Art Education Association (OAEA).

OAEA is an organization for Visual Art Educators in Ohio.

“We met every couple weeks and did art projects and lesson planning together. It was a great way to bond, connect with other art teachers, and get fresh ideas,” Goodwin explained.

While in college, Goodwin worked at Old Navy for three years and at Home Depot for her senior year. Goodwin mixed paints at Home Depot and continued working there throughout student teaching at Nordonia High School.

Goodwins’ schedule consisted of 40-hour weeks of student teaching, homework, and working.

Pictured above is a commission Goodwin did for her friends’ wedding. “I did a commission for my best friends’ wedding as a gift, because I paid so much money for art school, and I gave them the gift of my talent.” Photo provided by Abigayle Goodwin.

“Student teaching was taxing, but the bonds I had with my students there were special. I saw them every day for 14 weeks. We all cried on my last day,” recalled Goodwin.

After Goodwin graduated, she didn’t expect to start teaching right away. She found out about a job opening at Bio-Med through a connection at Home Depot.

“In high school, I always wanted to be an art teacher. When I was in high school, I loved my art teacher. I spent so much time in his room, because I was good at art.” She continued, “It was an environment that I felt comfortable in.”

Though many of Goodwin’s peers discouraged her career choice, she recalled how supportive her art teacher was.

“He told me that there are so many careers in art; if you want to be an art teacher, just do it. A lot of people go to college and change their major a couple of times, but I went in knowing that I wanted to be an art teacher,” she said.

“It’s a different environment [at Bio-Med,] and I miss having students every day, like having my own classes. But when I do get to integrate with classes, students are pretty welcoming,” added Goodwin.

Goodwins’ home life consists of her spending time with her cat, painting, and reading. In her free time, Goodwin does commissions for her art pieces.

When Goodwin was growing up, she moved around frequently. She started in the Pittsburgh area and ended in West Virginia. The frequent moves were due to her dad being in the military. Goodwin has two siblings, an 18-year-old sister and a 14-year-old brother. Photo provided by Goodwin.
Arts & Culture Bio-Med Spotlight

Looking Through a “Glass Onion”

by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

Note: This review contains spoilers for “Glass Onion.”

JANUARY 2023 — “Glass Onion” is a sequel to “Knives Out” that struggles to live up to the standard set by its predecessor, leaving audiences feeling underwhelmed. Despite its ambitious narrative, “Glass Onion 2” fails to connect viewers to the characters at the center of the story, resulting in a lack of emotional investment in the film’s unfolding events.

The photo of the house from “Glass Onion” is pictured above. The value of the home in “Glass Onion” was listed on Zillow for $651 million after the film’s release. Screenshot by Alexandra Levy.

The highly anticipated movie “Glass Onion” was released in theaters Dec. 23. With a budget of $100 million, “Glass Onion” had significantly more funding than its predecessor, which had a budget of only $40 million, according to IMDB.

“Glass Onion” follows Detective Beniot Blanc, portrayed by Daniel Craig, after being invited to a private island for a murder mystery party with a close-knit, rich group of friends. However, tensions rise as one character dies, leaving everyone on the island a suspect.

The standout feature of “Glass Onion” is its complex sets and architecture. The film takes place in a sprawling mansion, and the attention to detail in the design and decoration of the house is impressive. It truly is a unique and fitting setting for the movie as they both seem like a complex mystery while the answer is in plain sight.

Pictured is actor Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc in “Glass Onion.” While there were rumors on social media surrounding the character’s sexuality after the release of the trailer, writer and director Rian Johnson confirmed Blanc’s sexuality. When asked if Blanc was gay during an Insider interview after a screening of the movie at the London Film Festival, Johnson said, “Yes, obviously he is.” Screenshot by Alexandra Levy.

While the sets and real estate are undoubtedly a film highlight, the star-powered cast makes “Glass Onion” shine. The cast, which includes actors Janelle Monae, Ed Norton, and Kate Hudson, do an excellent job of bringing their characters to life. Each actor perfectly embodies the role of a wealthy, distress-ridden individual, and the dynamic between them is electric.

Janelle Monae, in particular, was a standout performer. She played both the role of Helen Brand and her twin sister Cassandra Brand, a wealthy socialite who becomes a post-mortem protagonist in the film. While Cassandra was initially introduced as a main character, it is later revealed in the film that she was dead before the beginning of the movie and has been played by her twin sister since then. Despite this twist, Monae’s performance was strong, bringing a sense of mystery and intrigue to the film.

Ed Norton also did an excellent job as the billionaire character in the film. His portrayal of a wealthy, self-absorbed individual who acted as both terrifying social commentary and a source of humor and levity in the film.

One of the few recurring characters from the original “Knives Out” film was Benoit Blanc. “Knives Out” focuses on a family with a long history of wealth and privilege. “Glass Onion” expands upon this theme by exploring the current social and political climate. The movie derives much of its humor from the world and the characters that live in it and create some hilarious moments.

The movie does an excellent job of world-building and creating characters that feel realistic and familiar to audiences. However, one character falls short in this regard: Cassandra Brand (Monae) There is very little reason to root for Cassandra or understand why it was so important to solve her murder. Her personality is not displayed in the few scenes in which her actual character is in, despite her taking up such a significant presence in the other characters’ lives.

“Glass Onion” is a spectacular film with beautiful sets, a fantastic cast, and plenty of humor. It’s a great film to watch and rewatch for all the hidden details. While there may be some weaknesses in certain characters, the film is a success and a must-see for fans of the original “Knives Out” or anyone looking for a compelling mystery film.

Arts & Culture Review

The 2022 Twitter Takeover

by Randall Hatfield, staff writer

DECEMBER 2022 — Twitter is one of the world’s most popular social networks, but the company’s recent acquisition by Elon Musk has caused tension among both its users and employees.

Verified accounts used to be identifiable by the small blue checkmark on their profile. Prior to Twitter Blue, the check could only appear alongside the usernames of accounts proven legitimate. Photo by Randall Hatfield.

Founded in 2006, Twitter is a social media site that allows users to create and share 280-character “tweets” on their profiles. They are also able to follow others, and reply to their content. The platform was projected to have around 217 million active users at the start of 2022, according to company metrics.

“I got Twitter in 2019 [and] used it almost every day then,” said Bio-Med Science Academy senior Keira Vasbinder. “Now, I open it once a day, but that’s usually just to clear my notifications. Very rarely do I actually spend time on it. That’s usually just when something big in the news happens or with a celebrity I follow.”

Elon Musk and Twitter closed a deal to buy the company Oct. 27, making him the company’s new CEO. Musk aimed to encourage an increase in free speech on the platform.

After the acquisition, Musk fired several of the company’s top executives and laid off around half of the company’s workforce over the following month. Musk sent an email Nov. 16 informing workers that the company would have to become “extremely hardcore” to succeed in the competitive world.

“If you are sure that you want to be a part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below,” Musk’s email read. “Anyone who has not done so by 5pm ET [sic] tomorrow (Thursday) will receive three months of severance.”

He also introduced “Twitter Blue,” a $7.99 per month subscription service that allowed users to gain a blue verification symbol next to their Twitter name. Verification had previously been limited to “accounts of public interest,” like celebrities and brands that the site had confirmed were legitimate.

Junior Morgan Whiteman explained the recent changes he saw in the site, stating, “Twitter guidelines have been broken more frequently with no regulations. There [have] also been frequent fake accounts who have bought the check mark that pretend to be brands [and] celebrities.”

Because Twitter Blue verifications had no distinguishable difference than genuine verifications, many impersonations of people and brands occurred using the subscription.

A notable incident was caused by a fake account claiming to represent American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company.

The account, which appeared verified to users of the app despite its unofficial username, posted the tweet, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.”

The tweet was highly publicized, and caused the company’s stock price to drop by around 4.45%.

Eli Lilly posted an apology tweet soon after the misleading insulin tweet was removed. In order to counteract the confusion caused by the Twitter Blue subscription, Twitter introduced the “Official” check mark above for officially verified accounts. Photo by Randall Hatfield.

In response to the confusion, Twitter halted the distribution of the subscription service, but stated that they intended to reinstate it at a later date.

Whiteman also described the effects of Musk’s push for free speech on the site.

“As someone who’s used Twitter for a while, I personally saw a very big decline in tweets…. There’s a lot more hateful ones now,” he explained. “There’s a lot of homophobia and a lot more racism that’s just not being taken care of. Free speech does not necessarily mean that hate speech should be allowed. There’s a big difference there.”

In a Nov. 18 tweet, Musk stated that his new Twitter policy was “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” and that hateful tweets would be deboosted and demonetized on the platform.

Despite this claim, a Center for Countering Digital Hate study found that after Musk’s platform takeover, the average number of tweets posted containing racist or homophobic slurs increased substantially. The number of likes, retweets, and comments the hateful tweets received was 273% more than before, and several accounts posting hate speech received a substantial increase in followers.

“In 2020, it was much calmer, and people were often just sharing fun little facts or experiences they had,with the occasional outburst of social justice,” Vasbinder stated. “Now every interaction with a stranger feels aggressive and impersonal. Rather than connecting people, it’s made a harsher divide in users.”  

Arts & Culture General Interest

Orca-strating a Trip to Alaska

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — The sound of coastal water erupts as it crashes against the shore, spraying up and engulfing the air. Off in the distance, the sea starts to rise and bulge before it explodes, giving way to a beautiful orca or gray whale leaping out of the water for a couple seconds before it disappears with a huge splash below the waves.

This is the mental image that some Bio-Med Science Academy juniors have envisioned and dreamed about, and it’s a reality that’s coming true for six students due to Bio-Med Partnership with the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). Selected students will be given the opportunity to travel to Sitka, Alaska in early Nov. 2023 to attend the Sitka Whale Festival, in an opportunity that is lovingly referred to as “Whales” or the “Alaska Trip” by junior students.

Pictured is the skeleton of Ambulocetus Natans, or the Walking Whale as it is popularly referred to on the NEOMED campus. The Walking Whale became NEOMED’s official mascot in 2013, chosen because one of its professors, Dr. Hans Thewissen, first discovered this skeleton in Pakistan in 1993. That was where he established himself in the world of marine biology and became well-known for his research into the study of whales. Dr. Thewissen has since continued to do and share his research into the field of study, especially at the Sitka WhaleFest in Alaska, where he will take Bio-Med students next year.  Photo by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

This opportunity allowed any students in the class of 2024 to sign up for participation in a program run by NEOMED’s professors, Dr. Hans Thewissen and Dr. Lisa Cooper. The opportunity comes with the obligation of taking a three-week class called Whales, Seals, Evolution & the Oceans during a period known as accelerated term. During accelerated term, students get to take elective classes in place of their normal curriculum. Students in this class will be able to learn about whales one-on-one with Thewissin, who discovered the Walking Whale.

Interviews with Thewissen Oct. 17 decided on the potential ten candidates. Of these 10 candidates, only six would be chosen to be a part of the team, and the other four would be backups if one of the six could not go During these interviews, the students had to take part in  an informal discussion speaking to why they wanted to be on the team and give Thewissen a chance to evaluate them in person.

“The interview was very stressful… and nerve racking,” junior Kathrine Lennox described.

Junior Logan Cook said, “I put a lot of work into preparing for that interview, and I am extremely grateful that it paid off.”

The six students selected to go on to Alaska are Logan Cook, Clare Haddon, Maya Kline, Katherine Lennox, Andrew Nguyen, and Morgan Whiteman. The alternatives for the trip are students Abbigail Crawford, Nathan Pastor, Bristol White, and Ella Wright.

“I don’t know many of [the people going on the trip] super well, but I think it’d be fun. It’ll be a nice opportunity to make new friends,” said Lennox.

Wright, when she found out she was an alternate, expressed that it was “a little disappointing to not be able to take part in the opportunity that [Thewissen] is chaperoning and in charge of…. I would have liked to get in. Second runner up is not great,”

A disappointing feeling is one shared amongst the four who are alternatives on the team, but despite that, they remain just as appreciative and grateful as the entire group is for the opportunity.

Cook explained his reason for taking advantage of the opportunity“When I was presented with this — while it’s not necessarily the exact biology field I want to pursue, as it is marine biology, and that’s not exactly where my interests lay — it is still biology, and as someone who wants to pursue that field and opportunity where I could do that with two world class experts… was far too good to pass up,” he said.

Like Cook, who plans to study biological engineering after graduating from Bio-Med, many of the other students are using this as an opportunity to explore something they wouldn’t have considered before.

“I thought it would be interesting just to learn more about [marine biology], because it might be something I’m interested in in the future, and also, it just sounded like a fun opportunity,” said Lennox.

For Nguyen, one of his most significant reasons for applying was, “It will also look really good on my resume…and also who doesn’t really want to go to Alaska?” he asked.

Nguyen is an avid snowboarder, as he described himself as a “big snow guy,” and he is looking forward to using the trip as a way to explore Alaska.

For many, being able to explore Alaska was one of the consequential reasons to apply, with the program offering “an all-travel and lodging expense paid trip to Sitka, Alaska,” as assistant Chief Administrative Officer Lindsey McLaughlin wrote in an email to juniors.

The Sitka Whalefest’s website describes the event as, “not like most science symposiums, and it’s really for the public and for everybody who really likes marine environments.”

The heart of the Whalefest is a three-day symposium where speakers and scientists from around the world come together to discuss their research and to talk about marine environments around the world. For the students selected, they will be a part of a presentation at the symposium along with participating in other events and lectures to enrich themselves in current marine biology research.

“I think the actual trip itself [will be the best part], because I looked into the festival, and it seemed really fun. And the symposium [too], watching the presentations that other people do is going to be wonderful,” shared Lennox.

Along with the free trip, there is the possibility that four of the selected students will receive an internship with Thewissen.

“Working with the professors and the opportunity to be their intern… I plan to give it my all, and I plan to do my best and hopefully impress. I’m just excited for the challenge,” said Cook.

Cook concluded, “One of the blessings of being at Bio-Med is that they structured this for us, and then they provided this opportunity for us. I don’t know that, as an individual student, I ever would have been able to pursue and accomplish this.”

Arts & Culture Bio-Med Education General Interest

The Second Season of “Young Royals” Should be a Blueprint for Other Teenage Dramas

by Camryn Myrla, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — The second season of the Swedish drama “Young Royals” aired Nov. 1 and was met with global attention. In its first week of streaming, it was the fourth most-streamed Netflix show worldwide, according to FlixPatrol, and it’s clear why. “Young Royals” almost perfectly summarizes the modern lives of teenagers while also exploring what it means to be queer in an unaccepting environment.

Compared to its previous season, the second season of “Young Royals” can be more taxing to watch for its realistic depiction of mental illnesses. As the story continues merely weeks after season one, Wilhelm is still dealing with grief over a loved one on top of the stress of royalty. Photo obtained from Netflix.

The show follows Wilhelm, the Prince of Sweden (Edvin Ryding), who is sent to a prestigious boarding school. He meets Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg) — an openly-gay student — and begins a journey of self-discovery after the two develop feelings for each other.

Throughout both of its seasons, “Young Royals” struggles with relying on cliches to advance storylines. An unfortunate example is the use of an unnecessary love triangle in season two between Simon and Marcus (Tommy Wättring). Marcus was introduced for the sole reason of being Simon’s love interest, despite the two lacking chemistry.

Both the cast and crew comprise members of the LGBTQ+ community. Though it’s never announced in the show, the actor pictured above who plays Alexander (Xiao-Long Rathje Zhao) is transgender. Photo by Camryn Myrla, staff writer.

Because of these archetypes, the story can often feel rushed. However, the show’s writers make up for this with its beautifully-written characters. In particular, Wilhelm’s royalty is flawlessly used as a metaphor for internalized homophobia; he struggles with choosing between being who others want him to be and living his truth.

Additionally, Ryding provides a chilling portrayal of Wilhelm’s anxiety in season two when his character begins attending therapy.

In addition to Wilhelm’s anxiety, viewers also learn more about the hardships of his second-cousin, August (Malte Gårdinger). After establishing himself as an antagonist in season one, August begins to truly embrace the role, going to new lengths to gain power and status. However, he continues to struggle with substance abuse. This complexity in its characters makes “Young Royals” captivatingly realistic.

Though it’s about fictional royalty and nobility, the show provides a more believable snapshot of a teenager’s life than many other modern programs.

Problems often arise when adults well-above the age of 18 are cast to play high schoolers. Viewers are almost always pulled away from the story, because the actors’ ages are so starkly off. Hypersexualization also becomes an issue, as having older actors may distract from the fact that the characters are minors. Fortunately, this is not an issue for the drama; the oldest actor of a main teenage character is currently 24.

What also sets “Young Royals” apart from other shows is its inclusivity and representation of the LGBTQ+ community. An important feature regarding representation in media is that showrunners should not expect a “pat on the back” for including it; many shows simply contain a token LGBTQ+ character to seem progressive. Meanwhile, “Young Royals” is made by and for queer people.

While at face value, “Young Royals” seems like the typical romance drama, the show teaches countless lessons regarding relationships, mental health, substance abuse, and much more. From its breath-taking opening to its frustrating cliffhanger, season two keeps viewers entranced for the entire watch and eager to learn what will happen in season three.

Arts & Culture Opinion Review

Bio-Med’s Art Club is the Missing Piece to Its Art Education

by Avery Miller, staff writer


NOVEMBER 2022 
— Art Club at Bio-Med Science Academy is run by Abigayle Goodwin, the art instructor for grades seven through 12 and is a place where the students can continue to grow in their artistic abilities even without a structured art class.

Pictured are six of the the sophomores’ most recent art projects. For this project, art integrated with history and the students had to create propaganda posters, inspired by those from World War II, about a topic of their choosing. Photo by Avery Miller, staff writer.

Since there is no art class built into students’ schedules, one fine arts credit is earned throughout their time in high school through artistic integrated projects, so students may earn their credit while reinforcing a topic from a different class.

“In the true spirit of multidisciplinary learning, the fine arts curriculum is fully integrated into each grade level’s curriculum. The art teacher works closely with each grade-level team to support both grade-level content and art standards through integrated project-based learning,” said Lindsey McLaughlin, Bio-Med’s assistant chief administrative officer, “Such an integrated approach supports the vision and mission of the school.”

Goodwin, believes that the majority of students want a more in-depth art class.

Goodwin said, “I think the demographic that this school gets are the kids that want to take art. They want to take music. They could’ve been [in] band. I had a student telling me the other day about how they wanted to take a choir accelerated term class and didn’t have room for it. That’s something they do every year for those kids, and having a three-week intensive course is amazing, but I also think it should be part of an everyday schedule.”

Kiara Krunich, a sophomore at Bio-Med agreed, adding, “I would say at least 50% of the grade wishes we had an art class. In middle school, we had an art class, and that was one of our favorite classes.”

Currently at Bio-Med, the class of 2025 earned one-fourth credit a year, the classes of 2024 and 2025 will have earned one-third credit each year by graduation, and the class of 2026 and beyond will earn one-half credit per year and not have art after 10th grade.

Abigail Ritondaro, a junior at Bio-Med, disagrees with how Bio-Med incorporates art. She thinks that when it comes to art projects, students are more concerned with meeting requirements rather than being creative.

Pictured are a few of the self portraits done by the juniors. The portraits were created by repeatedly writing one word of each students’ choice. These portraits are one of the many art projects displayed around the school. McLaughlin said she has been, “absolutely blown away at the amount of incredible work that our students have done so far this school year under the support of Ms. Goodwin. The new displays provide not only beauty for our school but also an understanding of the hard work and creativity of our students and staff.” Photo by Avery Miller, staff writer.

“I feel like we’re not earning our art credit,” said Ritondaro. “We’re not really given the opportunity to earn an art credit. We’re kind of just handed it, because we do art projects in class. I genuinely hate the way we do art here.”

Krunich had similar thoughts about her art credit.

She elaborated, “I did the projects, and I got the grade I think I deserved, but I don’t think I got the experience I needed for [the credit].”

Ritondaro added, “With Bio-Med’s art, it’s just bland. There’s no creativity. There’s no ‘Hey this is me.’ It’s just ‘This is what I can do.’”

At the beginning of the year, 70 students across all grades at the Rootstown campus signed up for Bio-Med’s art club. According to Goodwin, there are more kids each time the art club is held every Wednesday and Thursday. Goodwin doesn’t want art club to be “inaccessible or exclusive.”

Goodwin believes this quote from Albert Einstein displayed on the back of her door is a good reminder of why the arts is important in the STEM community. She said, “It takes a certain amount of problem-solving and creativity to do the things that people in STEM are doing.”

So far, Art Club has worked on crocheting and covered different ways to paint on a canvas. “We’re doing Inktober right now, so we’re talking about drawing and ink drawing and we started crocheting the other day, which people were really interested in.”

Inktober is a month-long drawing challenge during October created by Jake Parker in 2009 to improve his ink drawing skills and create positive drawing habits, according to Inktober.com. Those who choose to participate often post their work on social media with the hashtag #inktober, or for this year specifically, #inktober2022.

“Some kids just like that they can sit down and make their own art with people that are like-minded, and then if they need advice, they can come to me and be like, ‘How do I do this?’ Sometimes we do more in-depth stuff,” said Goodwin.

According to Goodwin, so many students have joined art club that it’s getting too difficult to do structured activities. “It’s harder to do things now because [the students] are all on different [skill] levels.”

Goodwin described art club as an opportunity for both fun and in-depth art, but a huge benefit of a structured art class would be for students to have a creative outlet.

“There’s a lot of kids here that would really benefit from having [a creative outlet],” said Goodwin.

Tyson Brissey, a seventh-grader at Bio-Med, also sees art as a creative outlet. Art helps him express his strong feelings and emotions, and he expects that a structured art class would help students do the same.

“I think [art] is very important, because it gives people creativity, specifically in a school form, or it’s also a leeway for a lot of people to show their emotions,” commented Krunich.

Ritondaro values art and believes art allows people to explore who they are.

She said, “Personally, I love art. It’s everything to me, and I don’t like how we don’t have an art class. That’s how I express myself. I’m a creative individual.”

Goodwin thinks a structured art class at Bio-Med “would break up the monotony.” She thinks that having STEM courses is important, but a consistent art class with a relaxed environment would allow students to work on a certain technique for a week straight and finish feeling a sense of accomplishment. Goodwin explained that doing something in a classroom is still art, “but it’s never going to be going to art class and spending three weeks learning a specific technique.”

Brissey believes that a structured art class would encourage those who enjoy art to continue with it instead of their art getting put off due to assignments.

Ritondaro thinks students are missing out by not having a structured art class.

“There are different kinds of art we could be learning, and we’re not doing them. We could have the next Leonardo DaVinci, but we wouldn’t even know,” said Ritondaro.

Goodwin expressed, “STEM and the arts go hand in hand, which is why a lot of places have adapted to STEAM. People that can think on this level consistently tend to be more creative.”

Ritondaro sees the connection between STEM and the arts clearly, adding, “I want to be a surgeon, and saving a life, that’s art right there.”

Though Bio-Med is considered a STEM and not a STEAM school, McLaughlin said, “The arts are foundational to STEM as an approach to teaching and learning and to the STEM disciplines. They’re already there, even though they’re not part of our official designated acronym.”

Arts & Culture Bio-Med

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays

by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — I am Jewish, but Christmas will always be my favorite holiday.

Every year, winter can feel hopeless when the days get shorter, and the sun sets earlier. It’s easy to feel lost in the monotony of the cold, white snow. But then, something magical always happens to break up the chilly winter days: Christmas.

Ethan Kay (left) and Shayna Wilschek (right) lit the Hanukkah menorah while celebrating the holiday in the Ohev Beth Sholom Synagogue in Youngstown. It is a tradition to light the Hanukkah menorah each of the eight nights of the holiday. Photo obtained from Bob Coupland.

Instead of driving through a sea of dark houses during winter nights, Christmas guides the way home with displays full of sugar, toys, and light. Once-empty shopping malls are alive with the buzz of anxious shoppers trying to buy the perfect gift. Schools full of stressed students cramming for midterms and finals are transformed into a hub of Secret Santa exchanges.

For as long as I can remember, my favorite holiday has always been Christmas. My dad is Jewish, and my mom converted from Catholicism to Judaism when she was younger. My mom never wanted me to miss out on the opportunity to celebrate Christmas, because I was Jewish; we would always do something together to commemorate the day. Some years, we would decorate a big tree and hang stockings. Others, we would go for the stereotypical Jewish celebration of Christmas: eating takeout Chinese food and going to the movies.

Maybe the decorations or the small family celebrations made me love Christmas. I’ve never disliked Jewish holidays like Hanukkah, but none had the same feeling as Christmas. But as a child growing up in the Jewish Philadelphia suburbs, I always felt like an outsider for my love of Dec. 25.

I distinctly remember a childhood friend who made fun of my mini-light-up Christmas tree and Santa Snoopy t-shirt.

“Are you sure you’re Jewish?” my friend had asked me. “Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas.”

This made me ashamed and embarrassed at the merry scene I had set up nights before. It wasn’t until that moment when I realized not all my Jewish friends celebrated Christmas as I did.

In fact, Pew Research found that only 32% of American-Jewish households had ever owned a Christmas tree. I don’t know why the lack of Christmas celebrations bothered me. Still, I thought Christmas didn’t have a place in my definition of Jewish culture.

I thought if I loved Christmas, then I wasn’t Jewish enough. So, I hid the trees and the presents, and I told my parents that we should only celebrate Hanukkah from that point on.

Pictured is my family’s  light-up evergreen tree with Hanukkah decorations. The tree is a metaphor for the merging of traditions between Hanukkah and Christmas. Photo by Alex Levy.

After moving to Ohio and attending a majority-Christian school in 2014, I tried to hide that I was Jewish around the holiday season at school, so I wouldn’t feel the self-pressure to miss out on Christmas.

At school, I didn’t tell anyone I was Jewish. Instead, I told my peers about all the Christmas fun I would have. I colored snowflakes and Santas and lived in a world that smelled like hot chocolate where no one would tell me, “Happy Hanukkah!” instead of “Merry Christmas!”

After school, I would go home, practice Hebrew, and clean the Hanukkah menorah for fun. Although my parents did not and still don’t care about how we celebrate any winter holidays, I refused to tell them about any of the holiday festivities I participated in at school.

That was until the day before winter break in third grade. I was sitting in my classroom, counting the hours until break started, when suddenly, my mom waltzed into the room. She carried a plate of homemade cookies decorated to look like menorahs and dreidels.

My mom wanted to surprise me by bringing Hanukkah to school, because I told her how important it was to me at home. The teacher let her briefly explain what Hanukkah is and how it’s celebrated in Jewish households.

I remember sitting and watching everyone in the room be amazed and intrigued at the idea of this new, unfamiliar holiday. When my mom finished her speech and left, my classmates stared and ogled at me. I was bombarded with questions about the festival of lights and being Jewish.

It was a pleasant surprise to realize that other people could feel a fascination for Hanukkah like I had felt for Christmas. The experience made me proud of my Jewish heritage when I listened to their well-intentioned (even if slightly offensive) comments about my culture.

I tried my best to answer all of their haphazardly asked questions while also desperately trying to explain that I celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah.  

That day, as I left the classroom, I remember that not a single person in the room wished me a merry Christmas or a happy Hanukkah; instead, they said, “Happy Holidays.”

After that year, I realized it wasn’t worth trying to hide my culture or love for Christmas, because they’re both a part of me. I started getting excited about both Hanukkah and Christmas. I even combine the decorations for both celebrations. In my attempt to merge holidays, I started a tradition where my family uses a menorah as the Christmas tree topper.

Liking Christmas as a holiday and a time of year doesn’t make me any less a part of my Jewish heritage and culture. I have no reason to try and hide any part of my winter holiday experience, which is why I can confidently say Christmas is my favorite holiday.

Arts & Culture Narrative