The student news site of Bellaire High School

Provided by Azkar Madison


“I feel like high school has been quite the ride. I had Ms. Chapman for first-period English freshman year, and one of the first things she asked us about was our opinions on fate. She asked, “Do you guys believe everything happens for a reason? And that there is no such thing as a coincidence?” I scoffed at the question. I thought, “Of course not, you are the master of your own destiny,” but what she said stuck with me.

Provided by Azkar Madison

Looking back, every up and down was for a reason; either it helped me learn something I needed to know or helped pay off my hard work. I was able to interview a large influence of mine, the infamous niche celebrity known as Viper. I loved his work and was fond of him as a character, not so much as a person. I had a very specific artistic vision, and it took lots of trial and error. Eventually, I got it working and was able to film a handful of things. It was cut short, as I had to visit family over the summer and was then surprised to hear that Viper was playing his first show in a while in his hometown, Houston. I spent tons of my time in Indonesia trying to contact him to get an interview. Eventually, I was at his show two days after getting back from vacation. He made me really nervous since he never showed up to the show he was headlining until right before his set. I interviewed him, uploaded and edited the video, and it now has 22,000 views. Viper inspired me to begin video editing and multimedia art in general. Interviewing him was something I never believed would ever happen. 

I have been in a small handful of bands, about four to five. Most were just joke projects, but I always tried really hard to achieve something big.  I’ve always wanted to play a show since I saw the band Catcar at one of Zak’s house shows. I always pushed myself to learn drums, DAWS, guitar, bass, keyboard and such, but I never felt I was going anywhere. At some point, Jack Whitehead recruited me to play guitar for his band for the talent show. I pointed out the part I was playing in the song was actually bass, so I switched to bass. We played a wonderful song and won first place. I didn’t realize until afterward I had achieved my dream of playing a song in front of an audience. 

I spent around two months scripting, planning and filming a short film called “Squash.” I built pyrotechnic practical effects, bought costumes and acquired the help of many old and new friends. After two sleepless months and immeasurable pain, I had filmed it all, just in time to submit it to some of my colleges. But when I transferred the SD card to another camera to film another piece, all the data had been reformatted. This led to everything corrupting and me losing all of it. It still hurts to think about, and I truly believe this short film would have been impressive to many, but all that’s left are behind-the-scenes shots and a small bit of footage. Nonetheless, this is what made me decide on my major. I have promised myself to make an even better large-scale debut film, and that is what I have set my eyes on. I believe this massive failure has been a sign for me not to lose passion for such a wonderful activity. 

Provided by Azkar Madison

I am forever thankful that COVID itself severely impacted none of my family. There were some scary moments, but in the end, we were all fine. As for the year itself, I was a wreck. I love human interaction, and connecting with people is what gives me life. I can be fine on my own, but I love a lively setting. I was always bummed and horribly exhausted. I would only ever do pushups or sleep in my room. I began to take up running. Running two miles almost every morning. This led to me longboarding. I would constantly push myself to go farther and farther. At one point, I ran to meet with a friend, Jonathan, before class began. We hung out safely with masks on at a park in between our houses. I ran home right before classes began, running a total of four miles. 

My freshman year of high school was okay. I split ways with many of my close friends and became very thankful for buying myself Bluetooth earbuds at the beginning of school. I would constantly be listening to music. A friend, Freya, would take me to local punk shows about twice a month till COVID, and that was the year music became a permanent part of my life. I look back angrily at the opportunities I missed by always being so closed off by listening to music all the time, but I know I wouldn’t be who I am today, so it evens out.

My favorite high school memory was trying to learn “Layla” by Eric Clapton on the day of the talent show. I spent the night prior making shirts that spelled out “McDonough” for the band to wear. We spent the previous week learning only the first half of the song. Everyone kind of agreed that the second half would be a loose cover, as there were just so many moving parts. I don’t like just to improvise and prefer to know strictly what I’ll be playing beforehand, especially when the other two guitarists will be playing improv. When everyone else showed up, I begged everyone to practice with me in the dressing room. Our lead guitarist’s string snaps. Luckily our second guitarist brought a spare set of strings. He said he “felt that morning he should bring it.” Funny how things work out.  In the end, everyone said we played well, so it worked out. I was so stressed at the moment, but looking back, it’s some of the most fun I’ve had at school. 

If you’re a freshman, there’s always hope. Just because something doesn’t go your way or you feel you won’t be able to survive the week, just know you’ll look back and pat yourself on the back one day. I’ve had things go so catastrophically wrong I couldn’t do anything but cry. I can’t count the number of times I would say to myself, “I’d need a miracle to get through all this.” I never needed a miracle, just confidence, determination and at least one good friend. And sometimes that good friend is yourself. In the words of Steve Ditko in “Spider-Man” issue-33, “Anyone can win a fight when the odds are easy! It’s when the going gets tough—when there seems to be no chance—that’s when it counts!” Second, there’s always a third choice. Life isn’t black and white. Sometimes I feel I’m presented with a situation that would disappoint one of two people, but no matter what, there’s always a third option. It can be incredibly hard to achieve, but that’s how it is sometimes. 

I’m going to miss the people. The amount of influence, both positive and negative, the people at Bellaire have had on me made me who I am today. I am thankful to those that supported me or tried to tear me down. I am thankful to the numerous people who have helped me make music throughout the years. I am thankful to those who bought “DARK DIAMOND” comics, shirts and stickers and gave feedback. I am thankful to Chloe and Mrs. Blessington for giving me the opportunity to co-run the RIOT GRRRL club, where I got to talk about my favorite bands, make novel posters and sell a shirt with Jonathan’s design on it. I’m thankful to Mr. Johnson and the entire water polo team for letting me compete in a sport I had never heard about until the day I signed up. I could go on and on and on, but the point is that this school is full of life, and I fear I won’t ever forget every little interaction I had here. 

I’ll be going to Temple University and earning a film and media B.A. I’m looking forward to more filming. I am currently finishing up a short film, and while in Philly, I would like to continue that on a larger scale. I want to adapt “DARK DIAMOND” into a “Kamen Rider”-esque short film that I [will] plan out and complete over the course of about a year or so. During that, I am planning on utilizing the train that runs throughout the northeast and interviewing people in both Philly and NYC. I’d like to get involved in their punk scenes and hope to form a band while in college.”

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