2023 Edition

A Note From the Editors

By Emma Alex Carlson ’23, Mattie Francis ’23, Sydney Lowe ’22

Welcome to the 43rd edition of The Writing Anthology – now known as Synaptic. Founded in 1981 by now-retired Central College professor Dr. Walter Cannon, Synaptic provides an annual assemblage of remarkable student work that covers a wide array of academic disciplines. This year was the most competitive cycle yet. Following a review and conference about dozens of outstanding student submissions, our editorial team has selected the following pieces for publication.

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Remedial Poetry

By Carter Piagentini ’25

I’m often haunted by the feeling of being called out of my 2nd-grade class during the middle of a lesson to go practice my reading skills every week. An old lady would quietly peek her head through the door, whisper something to the teacher, and then I would find myself being led down the hall to a different room.

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Excerpts from Sexuality and Confinement

By Carter Piagentini ’25

As a gay man, I started realizing the many ways sexuality affects my life when I noticed that others tended to use the word “gay” to describe me as if my identity and personhood are predicated on my sexuality. Not only did I find this word in others’ descriptions of me, but also in my descriptions of myself—after all, I even started this author’s note with “as a gay man.” Ultimately, whatever I’m described as, it will always be subsequent to the label “gay.”

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Iron and Blood

By Sophia Fritz ’26

Caress my tea-stained lips with your cracked fingertips / to send shivers across my brittle skin. / The chill shatters my spill gates and raises / …

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Let His Home Be Mine Too

By Allyna Inn

Home. If I had a penny every time my father said the word home, I’d be richer than Bill Gates. Although I am not speaking of the home he comes to after work every day. Not the ranch-style house in the south side of Des Moines, but his home–home in Cambodia where his work schedule would vary on the seasons and the birth rate of the cows.

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Mortality, Cuticles, and the Best Way to Slice an Apple

By Mattie Francis ’23

I can’t tell where the plum tree used to be. The year before it died it produced a singular plum. My parents let me eat it. Juice dribbled down my arm and into my sweatshirt sleeve as I mouthed at the soft skin. Delicious. The next year, my dad was pulling its poor corpse out of the ground with a chain and his black pickup. When its roots came up covered in earth and its form laid stretched out on the ground, it looked like a woman reaching above her head.

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My Dear Wormwood

By Cade Brouwer ’24

I would like first to apologize for my last letter. I know that it may seem as though I was fully embracing your terrible fate, but I tell you truthfully that I meant it only as motivation. As I am sure you are aware, your secret work with some of your colleagues was noticed by Our Father Below, and he has suggested that you be pardoned from your fate on that basis.

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By Emma Carlson ’23

Holly Markle had a baby. I was seven. I didn’t care until Mom touched her for it. First Sunday service of the year. I wasn’t tall enough yet to see over the pews. Dad dropped me onto his lap. He always did before leaning his forehead into my back.

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Likes Repel

By Peyton Bytnar ’24

The gun shot off and the smoke disappeared into the air. I was surrounded by hundreds of high school girls, all sprinting towards a narrow path that led into the woods. Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall. All of the 99 girls clumped into a blur around me, but I was able to keep a clear sight on one of them. My twin sister.

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The Lucky One

By Bria Holthe ’23

We exist in an environment under severe threat. We are swiftly approaching the point of no return in the climate crisis. Eventually, we will be forced to figure out not how to stop it, but how to live through it.

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Sycamore: A Sense of Wonder

By Ashley Robbins ’23

Leaves of the Sycamore are wide and fat. Sycamore’s latin name is Platanus occidentalis. Occidental is Latin for “relating to countries of the West” (North Carolina State University Extension). This is an important distinction, because in historical literature of Southwest Asia (notably the Bible), there are descriptions of “Sycamore” trees. These trees however are not the American Sycamore, they more closely resemble the fig tree (Easton).

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Beauty and Monstrosity: Race in Early English Literature

By Quinn Deahl ’23

The medieval and renaissance periods of British history mark the point in time when England began developing its national identity. This evolution coincides with the increasing contact between the English and different national groups which allowed them to truly distinguish themselves. Early English literature reflects these developments and the subsequent attitudes that the English began to advance about themselves and their perceived others.

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Queerness and Queens: Queer Analysis of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14

By Gannon Oberhauser ’23

RuPaul’s Drag Race is a reality competition show where the best queens from across the country compete for a grand prize of $100,000. The queens participate in challenges testing them in areas of fashion, design, comedy, and acting.

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Robert Henri and the Ideal Woman: An Analysis of Ballet Girl in White

By Fynn Wadsworth ’25

In the early 1900s, artists were still largely defining who and what was worth documenting and drawing attention to. The upper classes still dominated the art world and while many artists were frequently depicting the lower classes in their work, they were still largely stigmatized subjects.

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Artwork Selections

By Various Artists

Sara Sienkiewicz ’26 ART 151 2D Problem Solving, still-life painting The still-life painting project is where students mix their primary colors of red, blue and yellow to match the colors seen on the still life objects. While Sara’s accuracy in color matching is notable, capturing the reflective quality of the chromed Christmas decoration is what […]

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The Magic of Disney

By Chris Ver Heul ’26

Chris chose one of Central’s own: Ron Rybkowski, our Musical Theatre department’s technical director. The podcast focuses on Ron’s earlier career working at Disney—and contemplations on why he left.

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