It’s not the 60s, but it’s also not what you think it is

We’re not there yet.

For the past month, I have had the opportunity to write a feature on some of the diverse relationships in my school. The idea sparked after Mr. Conner ignited a fire under the staff and challenged us to write for the middle–the kids that are often seen as average yet make up the vast majority of the student body. So, the idea came to me to feature modern romantic relationships in my school that don’t fit into the stereotypical dating scene. The articled explored interracial, inter-religious and LGBT relationships and how their experiences differ from the typical, storybook romance.

I’ll be honest though, when I first pitched the idea, I thought of it nothing more than an interesting take on a common occurrence in high school (dating); however, I was surprised to find my “middler” story was actually an example that there is still much improvement to be made in society and that we’re far from the Utopian idea that we’ve fooled ourselves into believing.

Meet Emily Plummer and Anna Kemper:

These two sophomores were featured in my piece as the sole LGBT couple. The two have been dating for more than a year and are a lesbian couple. I remember going to interview Emily and Anna with the intention of making it quick, for I had to meet up with faculty from Ohio University. Even when I initiated the conversation, I had the idea that I was going to get brief quotes that were merely surface level since they were sophomores and student interviews are rarely very thought-provoking.

I was wrong.

I left that interview taken back and slightly disgusted. Not because what they said was rude, but because I knew everything they said was true. Anna was quoted saying her family uses ‘gay’ as a curse-word, and that the word, rather than being used to describe one’s sexual orientation, was instead being used to degrade people. Emily said “people hate me more” when discussing the reaction she got from her classmates when talking about her relationship with Anna. These girls are at most 16 years old. They, along with many other teens around the nation, are growing up and being told that who they are is wrong and “annoying.”

Meet the eight couples that refused to be in my article:

Like I said, when I first dreamt up this idea, I had the naive idea that everybody would say yes and that everybody would love the idea and that everybody would be itching to showcase their modern relationships.

Again, I was wrong.

Eight couples told me they didn’t want their names printed in this story. I was dumped over the phone, in text messages, in GroupMe, in person, through a third party (and not gonna lie, it was a small shot to my self esteem). At first I shook it off. I thought to myself, ‘So what if one couple says no, there are plenty more out there.’

For the first time I was right. There were plenty more couples out there. But they said no too.

I couldn’t understand why they were so against the idea of being featured. The entire article was meant to showcase and nearly praise the diversity. It was meant to highlight these couples not shame them. But then I realized it. There was something telling them not to do the story, something telling them it was either embarrassing or dangerous to have their names printed for the entire school to see. Let me get one thing straight, I fully support their decisions not to be featured. The entire story was to make them feel more comfortable about who they were dating and show the school that this is a good thing, but if they didn’t want to do it, I didn’t ask twice. With that being said, they didn’t want to do it. For some, it was because their parents may not have known about their relationships, and they didn’t want to be ousted. But for many, they turned me down because they didn’t want to have the label ‘interracial’ ‘inter-religious’ or ‘LGBT’ tacked onto their names and were worried about how they would be perceived.

We as a society hold this falsehood that everyone is treated as equals. We hold this falsehood that we’ve finally achieved Martin’s dream of people not being judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. We hold this falsehood that millennials and the generation after them are completely accepting and have no prejudices towards minority groups.

We are wrong.

The fact that so many students felt uncomfortable with being in the January edition of The Chronicle, a high school newspaper produced in Mason, Ohio, shows that society is still uncomfortable with seeing these relationships on a production of NBC news shown across the United States of America. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve made impressive strides since that address in 1963, but we’re not done progressing.

The debate on same-sex marriage and laws about which bathroom transgender students should use and court cases about businesses discriminating against the LGBT community and the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against Islamophobia and the Women’s March for equality and the controversy surrounding immigrants are not just politics. They’re not just policies. They’re people’s lives. There are people fighting everyday for equality. There are people fighting everyday to be able to love freely. There are people fighting everyday to be able to hang out with who they want to hang out with. And, this country’s got a whole lot of work to do.

In the wise words of Tina Broaddrick, “It’s not the 60s, but it’s also not what you think it is.”

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He is my President

It was the outcome that no one predicted.

For months news outlets, political analysts, politicians themselves were saying there was no way Donald Trump would win the race to 270, but as of November 8, this unimaginable scenario has become a reality.

His victory over former Secretary Clinton sent shock waves throughout the world. Clinton-supporters took to the streets, protesting  the outcome and posting across all social media platforms with #NotMyPresident.

The reality is though, he is.

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Citizens protest Trump’s election outside of the capitol building.

As much as I dreaded the idea of the orange-faced, uncensored, former-reality star-turned politician becoming the leader of the free world. It happened. It happened, and no amount of protests or hateful tweets is going to change that.

Hoping President Trump fails is hoping for a worse future for yourself. Whether we choose to believe it or not, he is our president. His success is our success. His failure is our failure.

I don’t support his use of hateful rhetoric throughout his entire campaign. I don’t support his degrading comments towards women, Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims and practically every minority group in the book. I don’t support his decision to argue about the size of his hands rather than issues that matter to voters. I don’t support his treatment and name calling of other candidates either. The man our country elected to be President has displayed the maturity of a five year-old child. But despite all of this, he is still my president.

On January 20, Donald J. Trump will assume a new responsibility. I hope he takes it seriously. I hope he finds success, and I pray to the Lord that his hair stays on his head.

Artists sweep Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

The work of Mason High School’s art students is receiving national attention.

Ninety art students under Aaron Roberts, Audrey Gorman, Dale Conner, Daniel McKay, Tina Roberts, Pam Valentine, Karan Witham-Walsh, and Hannah Zimmerman were presented with Scholastic Art Awards and will have their work on display at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The competition is open to middle and high school students with artwork ranging from Photography and Sculpture to Digital Art and Mixed Media.

Digital Art, Design and Animation teacher Aaron Roberts said students did extraordinarily well this year, with 25 percent of entries making it to the regional show.

“We’re usually maybe 40 or 50 winners, but I think we were around 90 this year,” Roberts said. “Usually about 15 percent of entries get in. We’re at 25 percent this year, marking an extremely successful year.”

The award winners are divided into three categories: Honorable Mention, Silver Key and Gold Key. Roberts said the qualifications for each level is determined by the judges each year but all are an honor.

“Honorable mention is often times given to works that they see being very creative or as the title implies, worth an honorable mention,” Roberts said. “Like they really want to give recognition to that piece even though it may not be as high up as a Silver Key or a Gold Key. The Silver Key is also a big honor. The Gold Key honor is like first place in the category.”

Screen-Shot-2015-12-09-at-2.51.07-PMThis cartoon by Madison Krell earned a Silver Key in the competition.

After entering for the first year, junior Lauren Fournier won a Gold Key for her piece Blue. Lauren said she was surprised because only a few people receive this honor.

“I was pretty surprised that I actually placed,” Fournier said. “I didn’t expect that at all. I checked the list of winners and I think it’s about 15 (students) that got Gold Key.”

All the winners will be featured in the regional art show, running from January 22 until February 6. Gold Key winners will have their artwork judged in front of a panel of judges in New York. Roberts said winners will be notified in the spring.

“Gold key category winners are also considered national qualifiers,” Roberts said.  “Those artworks are sent to New York to then be judged at the next round of judging by the national committee of judges. Usually over Spring Break we find out (who won).”

Effects of climate change felt on slopes at Perfect North

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Statistics from USA Climate Change. Infographic by Madison Krell.

Recent anomalies in global climate levels have caught the attention of world leaders.

Beginning on November 30, 2015, the United Nations held Climate Change Conferences in Paris to discuss global climate change and course of action over the next few years to reduce the world’s pollution output and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Paris Agreement includes a commitment to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees C (35.6 F). Countries are also expected to create greenhouse gas reduction targets, renewed every five years. The deal requires developed nations to give $100 billion annually to developing countries to combat climate change and promote greener economies.

The UN has high hopes for the Paris Agreement, but with the goal of a carbon-neutral world, Geology teacher Cody Kreager said global participation is necessary.

“If you really want to see a difference you need as many people on board as possible,” Kreager said. “If you’ve got five or six countries that are trying to do everything and then you’ve got five or six countries that aren’t doing anything, it’s going to cancel out. There would be no movement forward.”

Advanced Placement Human Geography teacher Caryn Jenkins said participation from all countries may not be feasible. As countries are developing, Jenkins said a debate has risen between nations on the need for fossil fuels.

“There’s a great point that India made,” Jenkins said. “India keeps saying ‘U.S., you had your chance. Britain you had your chance. You’re the ones who made the climate that we’re in. You need to give us the opportunity to develop. How are we going to do that without fossil fuels or carbon dioxide producing energy sources?’ I think that’s a great point.”

The United States as a whole has experienced warmer temperatures. Every state east of the 100th Meridian West is experiencing temperatures above average, and the rapid warming of Great Lakes have exemplified the problem.

Kreager said effects of global warming can been seen minutes away from Mason. The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission said the Ohio River continues to be the most polluted body of water in the United States for the seventh year.

“Global warming is not just emissions, it’s also the other pollutants as well,” Kreager said. “The number one polluted place in the United States is the Ohio River. There’s a steel mill down there, and they pump all these toxins and stuff into the Ohio river.”

The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for the Ohio River recorded increasing mercury levels. In 2007, there were 61 pounds of mercury in the water. That number has risen over 500 percent, and as of 2013 there are 380 pounds in the river. Despite such a large amount, mercury is only the 48th most heavily concentrated pollutant in the Ohio River. The TRI has recorded more than 23 million chemicals that have been emptied into the Ohio River.

U.S Climate Data said Mason’s average temperature in December is 34 degrees F and 30.5 degrees F in January. Record high temperatures were recorded on December 23 when temperature rose to 69 degrees F.

While Perfect North’s season usually begins in November, this season the ski resort remained closed until late December. Marketing Director Ellen Perfect said recent warmer temperatures have prevented them from making enough snow to open the resort.

“This season, we opened on December 22 and 23 but had to close because of extremely warm temperatures and rain that melted the snow,” Perfect said. “This warm weather has had a negative effect on our business. We can’t make snow until the temperatures hit around 28 degrees, so the El Nino weather pattern has interrupted our snowmaking schedule.”

Junior Elijah Kelly has been recreationally skiing at Perfect North and said this winter’s unusually grassy hills have made skiing an impossible task.

“I knew it was going to be a risk when buying a pass in the summer it might not snow,” Kelly said. “By this time last year I’d have already gone three or four times, but obviously this year.”

A season pass at Perfect North costs $525 with daily admission costing $47. With the additional cost of ski or snowboard rentals, one would have to venture to the slopes 7 times to get their money’s worth. For Kelly and other adventurists, the possibility of getting this many trips in is becoming increasingly unlikely.

Record high temperatures and increasing levels of pollution across the globe have signaled to world leaders the dangers of the situation. Even so, the Paris Agreement won’t likely be implemented for several more years. Kreager said the further the situation is prolonged, the more negative its impact becomes.

“The earth’s still going to be here long after us,” Kreager said. “The only thing that we need to worry about is our perseverance in human beings. It’s not the earth that we’re hurting, it’s ourselves.”

Co-written with Alekya Raghavan.

Paris terrorist attacks felt in Mason

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Photo contributed by Dana Miller

Despite being 4,110 miles away, the Mason community continues to mourn the victims of the Paris attacks.

On November 13, simultaneous attacks were launched against the citizens of Paris, resulting in the death of at least 129 people. Three teams comprised of a total of eight terrorists, coordinated and executed shootings and bombings on six locations including a concert hall, the Stade de France, and at least two restaurants.

Lindsey McDowell, sister-in-law of Mason alumni Delaney McDowell, traveled to Paris from Riga, Latvia, to visit a friend on a business trip. McDowell arrived in Paris one week before the attacks, and said prior to the shootings, there were no suspicions that an attack was coming.

“Everything seemed normal the day of the attacks,” McDowell said. “I rode the train into the city center from the airport and didn’t feel unsafe or notice any suspicious activity. The streets were buzzing with tons of people out and about.”

Angela Randolph, friend of French National Honor Society advisor Abby Gist, has lived in Paris for four years, and hours before the attack she visited the café that would later be terrorized as part of one of the four locations that underwent attacks. Randolph said the attacks left a vivid impression on her mind.

“I remember everything vividly: the attacks, taking of hostages, and Kamikazes at the Stade de France,” Randolph said. “I knew it was a serious attack right away because I followed it on Twitter.”

The attacks immediately left 352 people wounded, 99 of them seriously. McDowell said the French government insisted pedestrians stay off the streets, and police officers directed people away from the shooting locations.

“I walked back to my flat at 1 a.m. because the restaurant I was at closed,” McDowell said. “They were not supposed to do this, and actually should have locked us in the restaurant since the French government had requested no one to be on the streets. When I walked back to the flat, there were streets barricaded and police with rifles instructing us not to go certain ways.”

World leaders grieved for Parisians, and on November 16, the Eiffel Tower lit up with the colors of the French flag, honoring victims. Shortly after, the Eiffel Tower at Kings Island followed suit.

Mason High School showed its support with a ribbon sale. Senior French Honor Society and French Club Member Kedi Hu promoted  “Peace for Paris” with the sale of black solidarity ribbons. While the ribbons are technically free, Hu said there is a recommended donation of 25 cents with each ribbon. Hu said the purpose of the campaign is to support the victims’ families. After watching news stories in class, Hu said the two clubs got involved, joining many other nations who have extended a helping hand to Paris.

“They covered quite extensively the things going on in France and not only France’s side of the issue but also how the world is coming together in order to support France,” Hu said. “They have filters of the French flag to show solidarity, like a community that is helping out another community in need.”

Yazmine Merkiled, who nannied for Gist’s children, now lives in Cincinnati but originally moved to Paris from her hometown Martinique. In the wake of the events, Merkiled said she would like to move back to Martinique instead of Paris because she is afraid. Like Merkiled, Randolph said she remains on edge after the attacks.

“I don’t take the metro or any other public transportation; there is so much craziness,” Randolph said. “I went to a mall the other day and three-fourths of the stores were closed, and that really didn’t reassure me. There are a lot of bag searches and searches done on people in public spaces.”

On November 13, attackers terrorized Paris, taking little consideration into the lives they were affecting. Their actions left many dead or unidentified, and in the aftermath of the attacks, MHS students rallied together to help a community in need. As for the City of Lights, McDowell said Paris is trying to regain its normal routine in this time of darkness.

“My friend had gone out earlier in the day and said cafés and shops were opening,” McDowell said. “Parisians were trying to resume their normal life and not allow the terrorism to deter them from living their lives.”

Festo hosts Innovation Night for third graders, showcases new technology

Robots are roaming Mason High School.

Throughout the past six months, Festo, a worldwide supplier of technology, has been working with Mason, Kings, the University of Cincinnati and Sinclair to devise a plan to make an impact in local students’ education. On October 27, as a gift to the city for its bicentennial, Festo showed off its latest robotic works in a night targeted at Mason and Kings third grade students and their families.

In the large commons, a video presentation featured “The Handling Assistant,” a new robotic development shaped like the trunk of an elephant that is designed to pick up and handle different objects. In the field house, kids and their families could walk around and look at several different robots during demonstrations lead by high school organizations. Michele Blair, head of Mason’s Economic and Development team, said the partnership with Festo allowed younger students to extend their learning while older students displayed what they’ve learned.

“(It) was cool to look at the pathways of connecting early education, high school education, and Sinclair,” Blair said. “All having that kind of robotics science teams, the waterbots and all those different types of things, gave an opportunity for students and clubs and the other educational partners to be displaying and learning and doing their thing along with Festo.”

Watch the Bionic Dragonfly in action. Video by Staff Writer Alekya Raghavan.

The night was filled with awe-filled faces as students watched the SmartBird fly for the first time in Ohio. Mason’s mayor David Nichols said he appreciates Festo exposing the youth to technology early on because it gets them to think outside the box.

“One of the things I love about this company and the reasons we wanted them here is they like to invest in youth,” Nichols said. “They know an investment in innovation and getting people to think outside the box, which I’m a firm believer in.”

While third graders may not have understood the science behind what they saw, Nichols said he was more concerned with installing the idea inside their heads that they can do something.

“I’m not worried if they understand it as much as their awe factor that they took into them because if you believe you can do something it’s half the battle,” Nichols said. “We don’t know if they’re going to be doctors, astronauts, maybe cure cancer, but if they think they can do it we’re halfway over the battle to stimulate that so where they sit there and say ‘I can do it! I can do it!’”

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Photos by Alekya Raghavan

Click to view slideshow

A Blast from the Past

Break out that pack of Dunkaroos, and treat yourself to a cold jug of Little Hugs, because the 90s are back.

Teen Nick has been broadcasting popular 90s/early 2000s cartoons and television shows including Rugrats, Drake and Josh, etc. but have only broadcasted them late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. That’s about to change. In September, Nickelodeon announced they will be potentially be releasing a channel dedicated to popular 90s cartoons, which means innocent humor and nostalgia all wrapped up into one network.

Sure, I was born in late September of 2000, so I don’t exactly hold the coveted title of “90s kid,” but I’m pretty excited for this new channel. With an older sister, I’ve seen my fair share of All That, Hey Arnold, and Rugrats.

There’s just something about watching old shows that can brighten anyone’s day. Singing the theme song off key, reciting the characters’ lines because you know them better than you know your locker combination, questioning the fashion trends that you thought were adorable when you were in 2nd grade. It’s addicting.

Russell Hicks, the president of content and development at Nickelodeon, said Nickelodeon is interested in reviving old favorites and bringing them to the television.

“We are looking at our library to bring back ideas, shows that were loved, in a fresh new way,” Hicks said.

The beloved shows that Hicks mentioned are rumored to include Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, Kenan & Kel, Rocko’s Modern Life, and You Can’t Do That on Television. Nickelodeon plans on calling this new channel “The Splat,” and has created a website (thesplat.com) that informs viewers of times when their childhood favorites will be on TV. It looks as if Nickelodeon is serious with their decision to bring back 90s favorites, and they debuted The Splat at last month’s 90s fest in Brooklyn.

Enjoyment aside, I learned a lot from watching these shows. My life lessons included: girls are just as tough as guys (Powerpuff girls), dogs are SOOO much better than cats (Catdog), friends are family (Rugrats), the sight of red sticks and fire means I need to run.

Be sure to tune in, and head outside for a walk down memory lane.

Comet volleyball bests McCauley in straight set win on senior night

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Photo by: Blake Nissen

Senior year is filled with many firsts and lasts. For seven Comets, the game versus McCauley was their last time playing volleyball on their home court with “Mason” on their backs.

On October 12, players and coaches recognized seven seniors and thanked them for their dedication to Mason volleyball. These seniors then captained the team to a straight set win over McCauley, 25-20, 25-13 and 25-15.

According to head coach Tiann Myer, the program will miss the seniors’ positive attitudes and strong friendships.

“I think one of the things we’ll miss from them is the fact that there’s absolutely no arguing,” Myer said. “It’s truly a bunch of girls that care about each other, and that’ll be something that we’ll miss.”

After every tear had been shed, the Comets took to the court with the intention of adding another “W” to their 16-4 record. In the opening set, Mason took an early lead with the efforts of their all-senior lineup. A kill by Ellie Bruns and block by Leah Heffelfinger forced McCauley to take an early timeout, Comets up 10-4. McCauley proved to be a tough opponent after scoring six consecutive points, but Mason began to pull away after a block by Heffelfinger and sophomore Anna Brinkmann. An error by McCauley allowed Mason to claim its first set 25-20.

Myer said the effort by her seniors was a good one and that she enjoyed watching them on the court together.

“I think our seniors came out very ready tonight,” Myer said. “They came out very very up on their game, and they played amazing. So, it was great seeing them all get to play, and it was just super fun to watch them.”

The Comets opened the second set with an ace by senior Emily Malsch, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Despite a few errors, the girls maintained their lead throughout the set and won 25-13. Again, the Comets took an early 9-2 lead in the third set. After a dropped ball and consecutive scores by McCauley, the gap was lessened to 14-12, but McCauley was unable to hold onto the momentum and made costly errors. Mason took advantage of the opportunity with three consecutive kills by freshman Maggie King. McCauley handed Mason the victory after making two errors, allowing the Comets to win the third and final set 25-15.

Myer said her team played well and remained aggressive throughout the match.

“Overall, the entire team play great,” Myer said. “A little up and down, but we’ve kind of been like that all season, but they really went after it.”

Last night was the team’s last match at home, but there is still post-season to be played. Now aware of their matchups, Myer said it will be imperative that they focus and prepare for their final opponent in regular season, Oak Hills, and their first opponent in post-season, Withrow.

“We’re going to have to be very focused and ready for it,” Myer said. “We just have to go in and take each day one at a time, practice, and focus on our next opponent.”

Young Women’s Club sells bracelets to share Love for Liz, MHS alum battling cancer

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Photo from the Love for Liz GoFundMe page.

Once a Comet always a Comet.

The Young Women’s Club is honoring Mason alum Liz Lothrop by selling bracelets to raise money for the Love for Liz GoFundMe campaign. Lothrop was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2008. She fought a hard battle with the disease and reached remission in 2011.

Before she was diagnosed with Leukemia, Lothrop babysat sophomore Delaney Turner. According to Turner, news of Lothrop’s diagnosis with a new cancer early this year shocked those close to her.

“She was in remission, then this summer she was diagnosed with stage-four Glioblastoma Multiforme,” Turner said. “My mom told me that in the car, and I was just in tears.”

Lothrop continues to study at Duke University throughout treatment. Turner said she often receives news of Lothrop’s condition and the status fight with her brain tumor.

“She’s an incredible fighter,” Turner said. “She already beat cancer once, and it’s so hard for her to have this again while she’s in college, but I see videos of her, (and) I hear about her through my mom.”

Tina Roberts, advisor of Young Women’s Club, said Love for Liz bracelets will continue to be sold in the upcoming weeks and can be bought during lunch and at some football games.

“The student body now doesn’t know her because she graduated a few years ago,” Roberts said. “I hoping that once they get to know her, we can start doing some sales at lunch time; maybe some future football games again if they have some special events going on.”

According to Turner, the support of friends and family throughout Lothrop’s battle has kept her spirits high.

“I saw this video of her the day after she had surgery, and her boyfriend came to surprise her and her face lit up,” Turner said. “The support of all her friends and family members really brings joy to her, and she’s such a fun-loving, caring person.”

While Lothrop still has lengths to go in her battle with the tumor, Turner said she recently received good news regarding the growth of the cancer.

“I knew that she was going to get through this,” Turner said. “I just heard news a few weeks ago that all the cancer cells are dying or (are) already dead.”

Sophomore Natasha Saputra performs piano at Carnegie Hall for the sixth time

Photo: American ProtŽgŽ Winners Recital; recital photographed: Friday, July 3, 2015; 7:00 PM at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine. PHOTO CREDIT - Richard Termine

Photo from masonohioschools.com.

Sophomore Natasha Saputra is a Mozart-in-the-making.

Saputra stepped foot on the renowned stage of Carnegie Hall this July for her sixth appearance in her lifetime. Saputra has remained dedicated to the piano for 10 years and currently takes lessons at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (UC CCM) Prep.

Saputra was in the fourth grade when she made her debut appearance at Carnegie Hall and has continued to improve in the art form, racking up five more appearances along the way. From the array of seats an audience may only hear a string of chords, but Saputra said she aims to tell a story in every piece, providing them with personal connections.

“When I play the piano, I also have a story in my head,” Saputra said. “I like to tell a story when I play each piece so that I can kind of connect to the audience while also connecting to myself and the music.”

Saputra has excelled on the keys, but she continues to push herself outside of the classic instrument. On Fridays, she can be found marching on the field alongside her fellow band members. Saputra said she manages the two demanding extracurriculars by constantly exercising her brain and her fingers.

“When I get home if I still have a lot of homework, I would do one class, and then I take little eight minute breaks,” Saputra said. “Even though it’s little eight minute bits that I’ve been practicing one section at a time, it really helps me in the long run.”

The pressure of performing well at Carnegie Hall is enough to make anyone’s palms sweat, but Saputra said she focuses on improving herself and not the hype of making it to NYC.

“I don’t really feel the pressure because I actually enjoy playing the piano,” Saputra said. “I want to get better for myself, so even though I do enjoy playing there, I want to keep pushing myself so that I can keep on getting better.”