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Get an inside look at the very best of Walter Johnson's creatives! New interviews coming soon!

Greta Magary

Artist, '24

Spectator Magazine: What got you interested in art? Was it something you’d always been interested in or did something happen that spark...

"I also realized that I love using bright, beautiful colors in my work which makes my pieces a lot more vibrant."

Interview conducted by Caitlin Regan


Photograph by Greta Magary

Blake Bailey

Writer, '23

Spectator Magazine: Do you like writing narratives, poetry, or prose? Specifically, do you like one over the other? Blake Bailey: I like narratives and more of a structured story. When I was homeschooled, I would go to my classes, and a teacher named Miss Midgett would assign short stories and things like that. And I'd turn in my stories, and she'd always give really, really good feedback. She always encouraged me and said they were really good, even though I'm sure some of them were pretty trash. But, you know, she was always encouraging me, and that really made me feel good, and it made me feel like what I was doing was good. It really inspired me to continue writing and to take writing seriously. SP: Yeah. Along those same lines, who's your main advice person? B: Probably my dad, in terms of life and planning my next move. He doesn't give too much advice when it comes to stories, but the way he tells me how to view life, I think, reflects on everything I do, including my writing. He always talks about how if you want to do something, try and be the best you can at it. With journalism, I'm trying to break a record for the most articles published in a year. So I'd say my dad, just for inspiring me to always try and be better. SP: Yeah. Who in your life do you show your writing to first? B: That's my mom. I'm very blessed to have such a supportive family, and my mom has always been my editor. I used to write stories when I was six or seven about Tom and Jerry, and she would edit them. They were very graphic stories because I was a screwed up kid… they'd murder people and stuff like that. And she didn't even say anything. She encouraged the writing just because she knew that writing was a great skill to have and it had to be encouraged. SP: Right. That makes sense. Who besides your teacher and your mother would you say inspired you to start writing? B: Well, I was homeschooled, and in homeschool, I was given group assignments so I could meet new friends. But that was only once a week, so most of the time I’d just be chilling at home and I'd be kind of bored, because I can't just hang out with my siblings all day. So I really fell into creative thinking and stuff like that. And I create my own stories and worlds. It's the same thing when I play games, I create giant stories and stuff like that. So storytelling has always been a way I kept myself entertained. I think that comes from being homeschooled. SP: So how would you describe your writing style? B: I wouldn't say I write vaguely, but I would say that in this hallway, for example, I’d just say it was like a hallway, but I’d also describe the things on the wall. I would paint a picture and the rest, I feel. You don’t need to know the specifics, like that the banister was green. SP: Do you draw inspiration from events in your life? B: Yes. The first story I ever finished was about like a fox that went on like adventures and this was when I was feeling not lonely, exactly, but was kind of by myself, and I imagined myself as a fox and put myself on little adventures and stuff like that. I draw a lot from myself just looking at my life and thinking, 'hey, maybe this would be fun to experience,' and I experience it through the characters I create. - Blake Bailey for Spectator Magazine, 2023

"So I really fell into creative thinking and stuff like that. And I create my own stories and worlds. It's the same thing when I play games: I create giant stories and stuff like that. So storytelling has always been a way I kept myself entertained."


Photograph by Neil Harper

Interview conducted by Neil Harper and edited by JJ Kim

Meley Ghermay

Student Leader, '25

Spectator Magazine: So, most of these questions will be S.G.A (Student Government Association) related. But it’ll also be a little bit of information for people who are interested in getting to know you. Meley Ghermay: Cool. SM: So, first question. Starting strong. Have you ever had to compromise your morals? MG: Oh, no. I feel that in our team we all make sure that everything we do is something that we think will have a positive outcome for the whole grade [tenth grade]. If it’s not for the majority we know we’d never try to. SM: That's good. I'm glad. Follow up to that: what do you think is the most impactful idea you've ever put into action? MG: So far this year it wasn't exactly S.GA. It was before the school year started as a member of the Student Advisory Board. So the S.A.B is the student advisory board. It was actually me and two other students, and staff that initiated the one hour lunch [lunch lengthened to an hour for 22–23 year]. It's been great. I'm glad that teachers are really responsive to what we were saying and it was great to see that they really pay attention to what we push for. So I think that's been the biggest thing. Another thing I'm working towards… I had a meeting with the principal to propose a field trip for sophomore class and she said yes. It's coming up in April so... yeah, that was one of my aspirations… It was on my list of things I wanted to do as president, so it was really great that we were able to do it. SM: Yeah. I think people definitely regard you as a people's president. So what do you think your ultimate goal is working for the student body? MG: Like you say, since I work for the student body, my biggest goal is that something I've done as class president has benefited their sophomore year. Sophomore year is supposed to be, in my opinion, the most relaxed year because you're not adjusting to high school, and you're not leaving or stressing out about your future. So I really just want this year to be one where everyone builds a stronger sense of community, and hopefully by the end of the year everyone feels that was achieved. SM: That's a very noble goal. What was going through your head the first time you ever ran for S.G.A? MG: The first time [I ran for S.G.A] was actually in fifth grade. I wanted to because it impacted all the school, not just my grade. I have always wanted to be someone that's helpful, and someone people can depend on and that everyone gets to have a good experience with because I feel we're very lucky to just to go to such great schools, and I want to be able to ensure that everyone has a positive experience. That's why I wanted to run for president. SM: Mhm. Yeah. How do you handle public relations? MG: So we have a class Instagram account which we all have access to. Usually the secretary handles communication, but we all use that as communication. We had the club fair in late August and I loved making graphics for that. So that's really fun to do. It's aesthetically pleasing. I want everyone to be able to see what we're doing because you can't do anything without communication. We make sure that we do a lot, so no one feels like they didn't have the chance to be involved. We also have morning announcements, and for future events we're gonna make flyers and such. SM: Nice. Yeah. How would you define your public image? MG: I hope my public image would be someone that's positive, someone dependable, someone that responds to the needs of all our students, someone who's accessible. Also someone who can talk to me because I'm just a student like everyone else. SM: I remember last year's small elections. I think the consensus for a lot of other people was that those kinds of candidates tended to be unreachable. What's one thing you do that you hope keeps you grounded? MG: Being a sibling is a really simple thing. I have three younger siblings. [I’m also] a volunteer, like a student volunteer for Girl Scouts. SM: I definitely know what you mean. Speaking of that, how do you avoid burnout? Being a student and student politician can't be easy to balance. MG: Yes. I mean it always is a lot, but two things I always tell myself at the end of the day, and what everyone should remember, is that it's okay to make mistakes. It's high school. So just make sure the most important thing is you. You are the most important thing, so make sure you have enough time for yourself. Things like piano or such are good outlets to relax. That's why I loved it, because I learned a lot. [Jazz piano] is a stressful class but so fun. I do try not to procrastinate. Of course sometimes it is inevitable. When I did jazz piano, I was so surprised because I've always done classical music, but I can read notes and rhythms [ask about]. But it was a nice surprise. SM: What role does music play in your life? MG: Well, my whole family plays instruments. We all play piano, my brother plays trumpet, and my sister plays saxophone. And my dad plays many instruments. My mom and dad actually met in a band! SM: Really? That's so cool. MG: That was what I thought. But I thought it was really interesting when they told me. Music is such a positive thing, you know. Mr. Helgerman always called it the universal language and it's such a beautiful thing. I think it's like it's one way to stay mindful too. I just love music. It's really great. SM: I agree, I agree. I've been soaking up the time in the spinny chair. Yeah. I've been luxuriating, if you will. So how do you balance your student life? MG: So my mom always says that going to school is your job when you're a teenager, and to prioritize that for yourself because there are things that directly impact you and then other things. So both of my parents always encourage staying on track to get your work done — both my schoolwork and extracurriculars. Usually I get a lot of time during the weekend to do extracurricular stuff. During the day when I take a break from school work, sometimes I end up working on extracurriculars. Also the leadership class is really helpful because I can do some of the S.G.A stuff in class and have a set time during the school day to do homework. I try to not do [work] too late but I also give myself enough time right after school to just take a break, so I can be the most productive with my time. And if it gets too late when I'm doing my homework and I just can't focus, I try to take advantage of the time by going to sleep right then so I can wake up earlier, where I'll be able to focus better. So just take advantage of time because time won't change but you can change the way you use your time. SM: So what kind of extracurriculars do you do? MG: So other than class office I'm in the Science Olympiad. I’m a junior officer this year. I do piano lessons every Tuesday, but I'm taking a break right now because of jazz, since I do classical lessons. So I'm doing more jazz stuff now. I do karate on Wednesdays. I'm also a Girl Scout, so we're working on our high school project, and I love my Girl Scout group because we've been together since elementary school so that's really fun. I have also been an executive board member of M.C.R. (Montgomery County Regional SGA) since last year. SM: I saw your post on M.C.R earlier this month, and I was thinking about My Chemical Romance. [Laughter] SM: Yeah. Yeah, I know that. That’s really cool. If there’s one thing you could have told your fifth grade self when she was running for S.G.A, what would it be? MG: Oh, that's a good question. I've always had the same aspiration to run for president, so I wouldn't change that, but I would say two things. First, it's okay to not win. I lost in seventh grade and last year. It's okay not to win because there's always gonna be room for improvement and you can take what you learned from there. It's okay to not always win. s more important what you learned out of it. And I always try to reach out to as many students as I can. Something we learned in AP Government was name recognition. Just try to get your name out there. SM: You should get these quotes patented. So what inspired you to run this year? MG: This has kind of been the same even since 5th grade, but I want to make sure students know I make sure that the things we do are actually what's wanted by the students and that everyone gets the chance to be heard, because, you know, there's no S.G.A without students. I want to be able to represent all of us and also want increased communication and to be able to encourage people to get involved.

"I always strive to be a person who leaves a positive impact, and I hope that it reflects."

Interview conducted by Neil Harper and edited by JJ Kim


Photograph by Meley Ghermay


Read through our selection of archive interviews from past issues!

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