The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High


The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High


The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High


2023-2024 Pathfinder Wrapped

Risa Cidoni
Throughout the year, the Pathfinder has welcomed an excellent addition of new stories to our site. Certain stories have especially caught viewers’ and writers’ eyes: take a look at this year’s extraordinary articles in the 2023-2024 Pathfinder Wrapped.

All good things must eventually come to an end, and as the 2023-2024 school year finally draws its curtains closed, students reflect on all the memories that they forged this year. Likewise, it’s time for the Pathfinder to reflect on the incredible year that we’ve had. Here are some of our favorite pieces that have been posted to the site. Presenting…the 2023-2024 Pathfinder Wrapped. 

“Current events and investigation award” – Story that best showcases an event or issue on campus or in our community

Elizabeth Franklin

The price of unequal education” by Elizabeth Franklin

In her time taking journalism at West, alumna Elizabeth Franklin has shown all of us how incredible her writing is and her natural journalism skills. In this article, Franklin sheds light on the disparity between different school districts in St. Louis City versus county in an informative and captivating way. Franklin’s distinct writing style and her ability to cover controversial issues in a unique way have made her an integral facet of the Pathfinder, and one that will be severely missed next school year.

“Vivid visuals award” – Story with the most eye-catching feature image

Woman, Life, Freedom” feature image by Dana Zafarani, article by Will Gonsior

It’s hard not to take a second to appreciate this article’s feature image — a viscerally emotional depiction of alumna Dana Zafarani painted in the colors of the Iranian flag, with the words “Woman, Life, Freedom” written across her face. The photo is stunning and makes readers click on the story to read the incredible reporting of junior Will Gonsior, author of the article. Zafarani’s feature encapsulates the meaning behind the article in such a beautiful way, tying everything together.

“Up-and-comer award” – Stories written by new staff members who display great potential

Stay peachy” by Yein Ahn

This article is warm and comforting, like the “Peach Fuzz” color that it celebrates. Full of vibrant, balanced interviews and creative photography, highlighted by an outstanding feature, this piece makes a fun and relaxing read. Winning a Best of SNO for sophomore Yein Ahn’s informative reporting and balanced critiques, “Stay Peachy” truly serves as a pop of color in one’s day.

A lifelong journey” by Sage Kelly

With considerable care evident in his writing, freshman Sage Kelly quickly established himself as a fantastic new addition to the Pathfinder. As his first published story, Kelly’s accomplishment of earning a Best of SNO for “A lifelong journey” was quite an impressive feat. The story follows junior Dominic Perez’s journey in music. Kelly masterfully incorporates emotional quotes into the article to develop a descriptive foundation of Perez’s character — the greatest feat to accomplish when it comes to writing a feature.

“Dynamic duo award” – Best partnership project

Get a taste of this!” by Zoya Hasan and Keira Lang

Throughout the 2023-2024 school year, sophomores Zoya Hasan and Keira Lang have proven to be a difficult duo to beat. Their teamwork especially shines in this Best of SNO awarded piece about the anticipated return of Taste of West to the school post-COVID-19. Writing this piece demonstrated their commitment to journalism and covering the events that matter at school, which the Pathfinder is incredibly thankful for. 

Athletes to watch in the 2024-2025 season” by Matthew Thomas and Owen Ulmer

Another duo that works magic when put together consists of sophomores Matthew Thomas and Owen Ulmer, who channeled their mutual love for sports to create this article about up-and-coming athletes at West. With eye-catching photography and a visually-focused story template, “Athletes to watch in the 2024-2025 season” offers a fresh new perspective to the Pathfinder about the athletes that make our school great.

“Masterclass in multimedia award” – Projects that showcase excellence in video production and editing

Staring into the sun” by Cindy Phung and Samir Shaik

The past year also welcomed a new, fan-favorite member to the Pathfinder team: the drone. In the capturing film of “Staring into the sun,” juniors Cindy Phung and Samir Shaik showcased their excelling multimedia skill, incorporating action-packed clips alongside informative interview footage into a dramatic recounting of the 2024 solar eclipse. Best of all, the video was the Pathfinder’s grand unveiling of the famous drone, where overhead shots captured a field full of a thousand students, and ended with a stunning picture of the total solar eclipse.

STEMing the tide” by Emily Early

Earning the Pathfinder’s first multimedia Best of SNO of the 2023-2024 school year, “STEMing the tide” offers a peek into West’s Women in STEM club. Using a mixture of both creativity and skill, alumna Emily Early was able to capture emotions and stories in this video that allow the audience to live in the environment that the video creates. 

“Funny bone award” – Projects that’ll make you crack a smile

I have no data, I must scream” by Lauren Holcomb and Serena Liu

When we proposed a satire piece on the infamous AT&T outage of 2024, we were half-joking. Little did we know, alumnae (and comedians) Lauren Holcomb and Serena liu would pick up the story and deliver a hilarious article, filled with sarcastic jokes and a mildly concerning interview from alumnus Will Brown, within the span of that day. This duo got all of us to laugh about an event that was, at the moment, quite frustrating — for that, we applaud them.  

Best of Homecoming Spirit Week” by Esta Kamau and Sakenah Lakjem

Few people exude as much confidence and hype in front of a camera as junior Esta Kamau, who was the face of the Pathfinder’s video coverage of Homecoming Spirit Week. Paired up with talented videographer and alumna Sakenah Lajkem, the duo was able to film, edit and post one video per day for the entire week, an enormous feat. However, it all paid off in the end, as the audience got to look at the insane lengths that some students went to in order to fit the theme. Together, Kamau and Lajkem delivered us a much-needed dose of school spirit.

“Innovation in interactivity award” – Stories with the best incorporation of interactive media

Worth its weight in blood: The problem with palm oil” by Lauren Holcomb

As always, Holcomb’s writing in this piece is stunning — mixing together balanced critiques with empirical evidence that creates a very distinct mood throughout. However, where this article especially shines is in its use of interactive features — three of them, to be exact. Holcomb’s interactives allow the reader to become more immersed in the topic of the story and directly link with its content. 

The ‘active’ in activism” by Risa Cidoni user extraordinaire and junior Risa Cidoni certainly made a splash with this piece that discusses the differences between performative activism and legitimate activism. Cidoni expanded our interactive horizons with this piece, creating four different interactives with four different platforms —, Datawrapper, Visme and Flourish. These interactives add a new dimension to the story that allows the reader to learn information in an aesthetically pleasing way and makes the article a sizable amount stronger. 

“Excellence in entertainment” – Stories that contain the best reviews of music, TV and popular culture 

Like every other teen drama: “My Life With the Walter Boys” by Ruthvi Tadakamalla

In this review of a popular Netflix teen drama, sophomore Ruthvi Tadakamalla combined her love for journalism with her love for shows. This article highlights Tadakamalla’s writing ability and style like no other, allowing her criticisms to shine and carry more gravity throughout the piece. Tadakamalla digs deeper than just the surface-level plot in this piece, electing instead to take a look at the intricacies of its story, the mark of a true journalist. 

30 years later: The albums of 1994” by Mikalah Owens

Music buff and alumna Mikalah Owens offered up a brand-new column to the Pathfinder this past school year: “Mikalah’s Music Corner.” Throughout the year, she reviewed different punk and rock albums, while also writing about topics that matter to her in them. This story, a charming retrospective on the albums that made the year 1994 so great for music, epitomizes everything that is great about Owens’ writing: descriptive and informative, narrative and engaging. 

Twenty-five years later: ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ is a shining beacon of once-in-a-lifetime talent” by Elizabeth Franklin

Recently named Apple Music’s No. 1 album of all time, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is no stranger to glory, solidified as one of the most influential albums in hip-hop and R&B. To write an analysis of such an extraordinary album requires an extraordinary writer — one like Missouri student journalist of the year Elizabeth Franklin. The review relives the magic touch of the 25-year-old album in intricate song descriptions, emotional inferences and a definitive stance on the permanence of the album. Franklin’s writing reminds us again of the intention of music: to connect and to tell stories. 

“Emotional masterpiece award” – Story that’ll make you shed a tear

The gift of a lifetime” by Lia Emry

All of West was heartbroken after learning about the passing of Jaydon Woodall, then a senior at West. When alumna Eileen Meara planned to honor Woodall’s memory at one of West’s home football games, alumna Lia Emry was quick to report. “The gift of a lifetime” has it all — emotional quotes, great photography and an overall somber yet celebratory tone. Emry’s writing allows us to remember and appreciate Woodall for all that he was and is one of the many ways his legacy will live on at West. 

“Opinions that matter award” – Stories that properly balance informed statistics with stirring critiques

Competitive math: Where the ‘M’ in STEM implies male” by Audrey Ghosh

Alumna Audrey Ghosh has never been afraid to shed light on topics that might normally go unseen. In this article, she does just that, writing about the gender disparity and bias against women in many top math competitions around the country. Using powerful quotes from women here at West as well as statistics from reliable sources, Ghosh creates a spirited article that advocates for positive change to be made in the world. 

Lauren Holcomb

We can’t shake off climate change,” by Lauren Holcomb

Nobody is more fearless than Holcomb: targeting establishment politicians and global corporations is standard Pathfinder fare, but going after pop superstar Taylor Swift? That’s something few of us would have the bravery to do in our wildest dreams. Holcomb highlighted Swift’s habit of frequently using or loaning out her private jet, resulting in a high carbon footprint that eclipses those of other celebrities. She urges readers not to pass over a scandal that feels like it lasted a mere fortnight. The signature wit and thorough research that go into every Holcomb article are in full force here, making this a good read for Swifties and environmentalists alike. After all, rooting for an anti-hero is nowhere near as exhausting as Swift says it is.

“Fan Favorite of the Year” —  Story we all kept coming back to 

Silent pandemic” by Serena Liu

Former Editor-in-Chief Liu is no stranger to journalism excellence. Time and time again, her pure technique in opinionated writing takes to emotional spaces. However, we’d have to say that “Silent pandemic” is certainly one of Liu’s most outstanding pieces of work. Exploring the intricacies of mental health within Asian American communities, Liu weaves complexity into conversation as she discusses the effects of stigmas in the Asian American world. Her use of a Juxtapose interactive showcases her innovative technology skills, her sense of voice displays argumentative expertise and her use of personal narrative blends fact and purpose. “Silent pandemic” is more than a story — it’s the representation of so many silent voices, and beautifully so.

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About the Contributors
Yein Ahn
Yein Ahn, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 10 Years on staff: 1 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Tipping Point" - Malcolm Gladwell. Who is your hero? My dear, dear sister. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Grilled cheese -- cut into triangles of course.
Lauren Holcomb
Lauren Holcomb, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 12 Years on staff: 3 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath. Who is your hero? Either Joan Didion or Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
Risa Cidoni
Risa Cidoni, Features Editor
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 11 Years on staff: 3 What is your favorite piece of literature? "Where the Crawdads Sing." Who is your hero? My grandma. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Green grapes.
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