In the first installment of Ask WSS, Columns Editor Sumner Wallace ’20 answers the student body’s most pressing questions.

Everyone needs a little advice now and again. Whether you’re having relationship troubles or just can’t figure out how to open the peanut butter jar (those twist-tops can be pesky), West Side Story is here for you. Righty tighty, lefty loosey. Socks first, then shoes. The meaning of life is 42. 

How hard is it to talk to girls? It’s alright talking to them when they start a conversation, but I’m always scared to start a conversation with a girl because I’m not sure how they’d react. Although, I find that texting them is easier. 

In elementary school, the idea of “cooties” makes it quite difficult to have conversations across binary gender lines, and by high school, many of us feel unequipped to handle interactions with the opposite sex. In theory, it is not hard to talk to girls. They don’t bite (usually) and most are decent human beings who would be more than willing to talk to you. As you progress in your high school years and with the “cooties” stigma even further behind you, you’ll probably find that talking to new people (including girls) becomes easier. 

For now however, you don’t necessarily have much of that life experience under your belt to boost your confidence. It is always easier to let someone else start a conversation or text someone. It removes you from the path of potential rejection or judgement that keeps many of us afraid of social interaction, but life would be pretty lonely if we didn’t push past that fear. 

Unfortunately, the only way to talk to girls is to talk to them, so don’t be scared of starting a conversation. The worst that can happen—rejection—is really not that bad. If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, then they’re the one missing out, and I guarantee you will move on from the experience and find someone better who enjoys your conversation.


Why is it that at a school of over 1000, many of us still feel lonely? 

Being surrounded by people is not the same as feeling a connection with people. Although there are 1487 of us, West High can often feel like multiple different schools with no real sense of community. The best thing you can do is get involved. Join one of the many sports, clubs, or other groups to start making your own community. Research reported in the Journal of Happiness Studies has shown that there is a strong correlation between a sense of belonging and a sense of happiness. To feel like you belong you must put yourself out there and build relationships with your peers even if it’s a little scary.


What should you do if you have something stolen at West? 

Before reporting your item stolen, look in your classrooms or check in the lost and found. There is a lost and found in both the Main and West Wing offices. If you don’t find your item there, go to the Main Office and pick up a missing property report to fill out. Once you’ve filled it out and returned it to the office, Assistant Principal Luke DeVries will look it over and try to help you find your item. Don’t fret if you can’t find it, however; it’s rumored that all lost and stolen items are compensated for with a jar of DeVries’ spicy pickles.

What should I name my duck???

First off, congratulations on the new duck! That is very exciting. Here are some name suggestions courtesy of the West Side Story staff:

  1. Clyde                                                                         15. Mr. /Mrs. Cheese n’ Quackers
  2. Bill                                                                            16. George Clooney
  3. Sir Bubbles                                                                 17. Elton
  4. Goose                                                                        18. Angelina Jolie
  5. Arnold                                                                       19. Judge Judy
  6. Chuck the Duck                                                          20. Geronimo Stilton
  7. Harold                                                                       21. Bertha
  8. Leonard                                                                     22. Waddles
  9. Kevin                                                                         23. Stephen F. Murley
  10. Ignacious                                                                   24. Cat
  11. Edith                                                                         25. Ben Afflack
  12. Gladys                                                                       26. Barnacle Boy
  13. Stupid Face                                                                27. Krampus
  14. Mr. Roboto                                                                 28. Geico


Dear WSS, 

I really like this basketball player in my fifth period class. He talks to me all the time but how do I go about romanticizing our friendship in a chill way? 

-Crushing on a Friend 

The only way to find out if he is crushing on you too is to ask. It’s a little nerve-wracking, yes, but if you are friends, having an open and honest conversation about it won’t damage your relationship. Tell him you have a crush, and ask if he feels the same. Before you ask, however, make sure you know how you’ll feel about continuing a friendship if he doesn’t feel the same. Life is too short to waste it thinking about “what ifs.” Shoot your shot, and it might just be a slam dunk. 😉


What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

After careful consideration, unsuccessful attempts to learn the formulas and notation necessary for proper calculation and a long meditation, it can be concluded that the air-speed velocity of an unladen European swallow is 11 meters per second. However, if you want to know if that same swallow could carry a coconut, the answer is no. It’s a simple matter of weight-ratios.


I’ve never been in a relationship, and I have no idea what it’s like. This person has asked me out, but I don’t know how to react. Please help!

There’s only one way to find out what a relationship is like, and that’s to be in one. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that just going out on a date is not the same as being in a relationship. If you’re interested in this person and you like spending time with them, then it might be worth one date to see if you want to start something with them. Depending on how close you are to this person already, it might be a good idea to have an honest conversation with them about your concerns as well. 

If the value of (x-5)+24.5*3^45 is 23, who the heck cares?

I expect that many mathematicians, math teachers and math enthusiasts care. It is, after all, quite a classic algebra problem. I imagine that the X cares as well. Without knowing the value of the equation, the X might have an identity crisis. Indeed, there would be no way to find X. It would be lost forever, and then how would we spell xylophone??

Dear WSS…

Would you rather have all traffic lights turn green when you approach them or never stand in line again?

The West Side Story staff is unable to reach a consensus at this time. There are of course pros and cons to both. If all the lights turned green when you approached them, it would seriously reduce travel time and allow some of us late risers to get to first period on time. On the other hand, it could be a real blow to traffic safety. Never having to stand in line would make the DMV and the pizza line in the cafeteria more tolerable, but it could create a false sense of entitlement and make you quite irritatingly impatient in other situations.