Eastside introduces a new tradition: Humans of East

Eastside introduces a new tradition: Humans of East

Eastside randomly picked six East students using a random number generator and put a story to a name
What is Humans of East?
I am a Coxswain

“Coxswains are small stature, big personalities. We’re the voice of the boat. We are there to coach and motivate.”

A coxswain is a sailor in charge of a ship’s boat, crew, and usually steers. Senior Lindsey Eattock (’24) is an East student-athlete, but her routine looks slightly different from the average student-athlete from East.

During her sophomore year, Eattock became involved with a much different sport – rowing – a sport not offered by the East athletics department. Eattock’s inspiration behind the decision comes from her mother.

Eatock’s mother, a rower and a coxswain in highschool herself went on to become the coxswain for the men’s heavyweight team at Ohio State University. Later, Eatock’s mother became a coxswain for the Olympic Development Program and has worked with Olympian rowers.

“It’s such a small and niche sport,” explained Eattock. “Once you’re in, you’re in.”

Eattock grew up with the sport of rowing and, therefore, decided to pursue it as an extracurricular. Her rowing career began with a local team called the South Jersey Rowing Club, where Eattock performed as a coxswain for about a year and a half.

Eattock said, “At first, it was really scary. It’s not one of those sports like soccer or basketball that you’ve played at school forever. Rowing you kind of go in blind.”

Rowing captivated Eatock when she was placed on a Men’s Youth 17 4+ and had the opportunity to go to Youth Nationals — the largest youth regatta in the country–during the spring of her sophomore year.

Regarding coxswaining for a men’s team, Eattock explained that the gender of the coxswain doesn’t matter at all; the coxswain isn’t adding power to the boat but is steering, motivating, and coaching.

By junior year, Eattock was “addicted” to the sport and knew she wanted to get recruited and continue at the collegiate level. That year, Eattock switched to her current team, the Moorestown Rowing Club. She knew if she wanted to be recruited to a big-name school, she had to join a strong team where coxswaining was a priority. In college teams, the teams row an eight, meaning there are eight rowers and one coxswain, and Moorestown rows eight, offering Eattock an experience similar to that of collegiate rowing.

She joined the team during the winter season of 2022–a time of year when the team primarily works out to train for when the team gets on the water.

Eattock had one goal by spring: to be the 1V, also known as one varsity or, in other words, the top boat in the club.

“I knew if I wanted the attention of coaches, I had to be in the best spot possible. If you want to be in a good program, you need to be the best coxswain coming from your team,” expressed Eattock.

In the spring of 2023, Eattock got the 1V spot and went to Nationals again with her eight and placed 16th in the B finals.

Eattock said, “That was the top sixteen boats in the country racing against each other.”

Following Youth Nationals her junior year, offers from colleges began to roll in. Eattock had several offers but knew she needed a college still academically and socially tailored to her.

In September of 2023, the beginning of her senior year, Eattock visited Rutgers University where she was offered a spot on the team and a scholarship. Now committed to the university, she knew after meeting the team and seeing the school that it was the right fit.

Eattock said, “I went from being a sophomore never knowing what it meant to be a “rower,” to now being committed to a Big 10 University. It’s crazy.”

While at Rutgers, she will be majoring in chemistry. Although she doesn’t plan to pursue rowing as a career, Eattock still has plans for the sport. Currently, she is trying out for the U19 National Team, and when in college, she is committed to trying out for the U23 National Team. Out of college, Eattock hopes to meet a major goal and try out for the Olympic rowing team.

Eattock explained that, unlike a sport like football, rowing wouldn’t serve as a stable career. However, she said she wants to stay involved because of the opportunities rowing has given her and give back to the rowing community.

She has spent the better half of her time in high school, immersing herself in a world unknown to most students. Rowing and being a coxswain, in particular, has given Eattock the opportunity to grow as an individual and to learn to persevere, keep a positive mindset, and be a leader.

In connecting her role as coxswain to herself as an individual, Eattock said, “I like to help everyone else around me succeed because that’s just what a coxswain is. And I think that role has shaped my personality.”

For now, Eattock is planning to complete her senior year, cherishing time with family and friends before leaving for college. Much of her time, though, will still be spent on the water, leading her teammates in the boat. Although she started just two years ago, rowing has become Eattock’s ultimate passion.

“Being on the water is addicting. It makes up your whole life. My life is rowing,” said Eattock.

Finding Wu Zi daily, monthly, yearly

After waking up each weekday at 5:15 in the morning, Claire Ding (‘26) gets ready for school and arrives at Cherry Hill High School East. As she cruises through the hallways during the day, the ceiling’s bright lights illuminate her path from class to class. However, it isn’t until Claire stands tall on a stage under blinding spotlights that she truly shines bright.

Since sixth grade, Ding has competed in traditional Chinese dance after dancing recreationally throughout elementary school. As a Vivian Lim Dance Arts Center member, Ding studies ballet, technique, and artistry native to Chinese culture. One focal point of her dance training is wu zi – the smooth quality of movement and breathing, allowing movement to flow throughout a piece.

“In China, you could have the best technique in the world, but if you don’t have Wu Zi … then you’re just doing gymnastics,” Ding said.

Unlike Western-based dance, traditional Chinese dancing often focuses on simple movement instead of seemingly impressive and challenging skills. Although some traditional Chinese dance moves might seem easy and uncomplicated, often, each move requires extreme precision and technical skill to complete correctly. For example, fan shen, a traditional turning sequence, can appear easy to replicate; however, mastering this move necessitates immense training and attention to detail.

“It goes back to Wu Zi because when we go to American competitions, there are things we spend a lot of time doing that won’t get us points, and it won’t look difficult because it’s not flashy, crazy tricks. It’s simple movements [where] there’s so much detail put into it, like how we move around our fingers,” said Ding.

To advance her technical skills and artistry, Ding dedicates countless hours inside and outside of the dance studio. Throughout the school year, she dances ten hours a week, fine-tuning her skills and cleaning dances she learns in the summer. When learning various pieces in the summer, she can spend three to six hours at the studio each day for up to a week. By the time Ding competes her routines at nationals, she has been perfecting and rehearsing the dances for about nine months.

Though rehearsals can be draining, Ding fuels her passion for dance through minor everyday improvements. Constantly challenging herself, she stays motivated to improve her abilities.

“If you have this move that you really couldn’t do at the beginning of the year, being able to do it keeps you going,” said Ding.

Ding remains driven through the competitions themselves, winning awards with her team. In fact, over the summer, Ding’s group routine won a world championship, and her solo was the first runner-up overall, in addition to being first in her category.

“It can be kind of hard mentally sometimes, but the process of putting in all of the work and then winning makes it worth it in the end,” said Ding.

While Ding fosters her passion for Chinese dance outside of school, at East, Ding participates in the Symphony Orchestra as a violinist. Ding has played the violin for six years despite initially focusing her musical aptitude on the piano. Since sixth grade, she has also been a member of the All-South Jersey Orchestra.

Furthermore, while practicing violin in her free time, Ding writes short stories and poetry, channeling her thoughts, emotions, and experiences into words. For Ding, writing acts as a mental release, allowing her to express her innermost feelings. Often, she sits back and waits for inspiration to strike.

“It’s not something where I sit down and decide, ‘Okay, I’m going to write something today’ … I think if you let life happen to you, then you’re just gonna find the opportunity to have something pour out,” Ding said.

Through these creative outlets, Ding embodies the grace of fan shen, the symphony of violin strings meeting a bow, and the smoothness of a pen writing on paper. When Ding is not performing on a stage, squinting beneath glaring spotlights, she still expresses herself daily through her movement, music, and words. Each day, she’s dancing to her melody.

Family is important

While some children may have started in ballet or soccer, you could find young Sonia Motiwala (‘27) on the tennis court. She says she has been playing for as long as she can remember because of her dad’s influence. She only took a break from tennis in middle school once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and her middle school lacked the commitment to create a team. Now, as a freshman, Motiwala plays for East’s JV tennis team. She is in the upper division, so she participates in matches often.

“For a long time, my dad forced me to play tennis because he plays it. But, after joining the team, I realized I wanted to play to improve. Not just because it’s what my parents want,” Motiwala said.

On top of that, Motiwala’s favorite part of East’s tennis team is the group. She says that the girls are super friendly and welcoming.

When she has time to lay back from her busy schedule, Motiwala loves to read. In particular, she loves a good fantasy novel. Her friend group bonds through their love of books and frequently gives each other recommendations. She couldn’t answer when asked to name her favorite book; a vast number are in her library. However, she is currently re-rereading the Divergent series, one of her favorites from the dystopian genre. She also enjoys the tranquility that 3D Art brings to her challenging course load. In her free time, she enjoys making origami.

After high school, Motiwala aspires to get a job centered around helping others, like social work or teaching. Her inspiration comes from the Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai. Malala, through her advocacy for girls’ education, serves as a powerful inspiration for young girls. She highlights the importance of education as a tool for empowerment and encourages them to pursue their dreams despite societal barriers. As a second-generation student in America, Motiwala gets inspiration from Malala. While her mother moved from India when she was a year old, her aunt was not allowed to attend college.

“Her dad said, ‘No, you can’t; women aren’t allowed.’ I feel so lucky that I am allowed an education,” Motiwala said.

She has read Malala’s books and is a big fan of her work. After hearing a firsthand account of educational barriers, Malala’s story hits closer to home.

Being close to family is meaningful for her; she especially enjoys spending time with her grandparents. Her family and friends participate in Indian festivals like Holi, Diwali, and Navaratri.

“During Diwali, we usually make these colored sand patterns, which is fun. I always do that with my grandfather,” Motiwala recalls.

Sonia Motiwala’s journey began with a racket in hand, but her aspirations extend far beyond the tennis court. She is committed to helping others in the future and seeks to make the most of her high school experience in the short term. As she embarks on her journey, a quote from Malala resonates: “Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.”

Family, Education, and Service are like the three sciences: Physics, Chemistry and Biology

For Aniket Chintapalli (‘26), family is a huge inspiration for his future aspirations. A sophomore at Cherry Hill East, Chintapalli hopes to one day go into the field of oncology as well as work to build hospitals in underdeveloped communities. Chintapalli ascribes his eagerness to enter these careers to the experiences of his family members.

“A lot of my family lives in rural India, so they don’t have access to good hospitals, so I really want to make it more accessible to people around the world,” Chintapalli said.

Chintapalli also attributes his desire to work as an oncologist to his family members.

“A lot of people in my family had cancer, so I feel like it’s just my responsibility to help with the problem,” Chintapalli said.

To prepare for a medical career, Chintapalli participates in various East activities. Chintapalli tutors middle school students at Beck Middle School through Bridge Tutoring. Additionally, Chintapalli competes in Science Olympiad; He has competed in subjects such a astronomy and fossils and plans to compete in astronomy, fossils and experimental design at the upcoming competition at Princeton University.

“Science Olympiad, that’s just science, and I think that will help him get interested in different fields of science,” Chintapalli said, commenting on how Science Olympiad will help prepare him for a future in medicine.

Over the summer, Chintapalli worked with the nonprofit organization North South Foundation, teaching 4th to 6th graders about STEM. North South Foundation strives to provide educational opportunities to economically disadvantaged students. Chintapalli plans to work with this organization again in the future.

“It was just a big overview of everything [science-related.] It was chemistry, physics, and bio, and it was just to pique their interests… make them interested in different sciences,” Chintapalli said.

Chintapalli is also an active member of the Indian Cultural Society (ICS) at East. He serves as a board member and leads the creation of the club’s booth for Multicultural Day. Chintapalli’s favorite thing about ICS is the community that it instills.

“[Aniket’s] one of the most outgoing and friendly people I know…I think he’s always willing to help out, excited, and ready to go,” said Karina Gupta (24), president of ICS.

Gupta noted that Chintapalli has been helpful when decorating for various ICS events. She admires his creativity and eagerness to lend a hand.

Outside of East, Chintapalli volunteers at Jefferson Hospital, where he types notes for doctors, restocks shelves, and gains exposure to the medical field.

Chintapalli has accomplished a lot in his first year and a half of high school and will continue on that trajectory. After high school, Chintapalli hopes to follow in his sister’s footsteps and attend the University of Pennsylvania. Until then, Chintapalli will be busy tutoring Beck students, rattling off science facts at Science Olympiad, and volunteering for North South Foundation and Jefferson Hospital.

One East student shares her experience with Marijuana

“My best friend’s sister had no one to do weed with; my bestfriend and I in 8th grade started to give her company: we did it for the sake of being bad,” said Aria Esakwa* (‘24).

Esakwa grew up in an idyllic town – somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where boredom encapsulated the town and children of all ages spoke and wallowed in semantics.

“It was a nowhere town” she said, “And, my friend’s sister was such a bad person – we shouldn’t have been doing drugs so young.” 

At the end of 8th grade, Esakwa’s father remarried and they moved to Cherry Hill from Ohio*– just as Covid-19 snaked into the homes of many in Cherry Hill. So, she stayed at home with her new family – somewhere new and somewhere unknown. Limited to her house and video games, Esakwa and her step-brother smoked weed together and shared the feelings associated with a high. 

“It became something we could bond over,” she said.

Later, weed became a stepping stone to friendships in her new environment.

Esakawa didn’t have a freshman year due to the pandemic, so her sophomore year she showed up to school high nearly everyday. 

The first time she smoked, she felt nothing… the second time that changed.

“I felt like I was falling,” Esakwa said, “but I don’t ever think I was addicted, it was more of a dependency… a way to cope with all the changes.” 

She smoked everyday her sophomore year, sometimes multiple times a day. She smoked at school with her friends. She smoked at home, alone. She smoked because she was bored and she smoked to escape. She smoked with a cart she shared with others who used it at school; it was an opportunity for connection. 

“It seems so stupid now,” she said, “but that is what I did.”

Despite a chronic high, she remarked that year she outperformed herself in school compared to previous years. She got better grades and she found a passion: art. She never felt guilty or ashamed while she smoked because all her friends smoked too. It was a very black and white situation; either a person smoked or they didn’t. 

“I still don’t think there is shame in smoking… I quit because of fear,” she said. 

The summer after her sophomore year, Esakwa stopped smoking. She worked at an overnight summer camp and the frequency at which she smoked dwindled because she couldn’t have her supply with her. 

At the start of her junior year she showed up high, but that was the last time. She still smoked often during this time, just never at school. Esakwa limited herself. 

“Having the option to smoke, but choosing not to do [is] [something] I am proud of” said Esakwa. “I still do it occasionally, but it is not a dependency.”

Medically diagnosed with anxiety, the last couple of times she smoked, Esakwa felt panicked, rushed; the feelings of dopamine she grew accustomed to through her years of use disappeared. At the same time, she worried about the authenticity of her supply and the potential fentanyl content – situations her brother warned her about–she never was looking for something stronger. 

Her panic attacks grew in intensity and frequency, she remarked that weed can rid someone of their anxiety, but it can also induce it – for her it was anxiety-inducing. She felt like everyone was watching her – hyperaware, hyper fixated, tracing and tracking her movements.

“I thought I was self-medicating,” said Esakwa. 

Esakwa no longer smokes, but turns to weed in stressful times. Her social circles and friends still continue to use, socially she feels out of place – she has nothing to hold and support her – so, she began vaping. To conform and fit, she uses a vape. 

“I am happy that I quit using weed, it harmed my health,” said Esakwa.“If weed harms my health, I will quit it too.” 

At the moment, Esakwa is not willing to give up her vape. She feels challenged and the experience associated with smoking still lingers: the days she “waked and baked” and the days she felt annoyed she had no supply to depend on.

“I don’t know my feelings for [the] [person] [that] [introduced] [me] [to] [weed]” Esakwa said, “I do know that she should not have been smoking with a 13-year old.”


*Names and places changed to protect identity.

Still moments are forever memories

Preserving memories through the soft glow of Polaroid photographs, Nathan Aguelo (‘26) is someone who embraces the present. As he looks through his collection of captured memories, Nate recalls special moments in his life with vivid detail. However, Nate’s photos reveal a depth beyond merely encapsulating memories through photography — they reflect his appreciation for life and the experiences that have shaped him into the person he is today. 

Raised in a household with extended family, Nate formed deep bonds with his cousins, fostering a relationship that can almost be defined as siblings rather than cousins. For Nathan, his cousins aren’t merely distant relatives; they are his brothers and sisters he grew up alongside. 

“My parents, aunties, and uncles wanted their kids to be close to each other, and that  impacted us in a good way. All of us see each other more than a cousin, but brothers and sisters… They were the reason I wanted to go to East, and we were close, but being in the same high school together got us even closer.”

Furthermore, his family instilled a sense of resilience through their support, guiding him get through the challenges he has experienced in high school. Nate expresses his gratitude for his family’s guidance and providing him with a compass to navigate life’s challenges. 

“There are a lot of struggles in life, and, as you get into high school, there are even more struggles, so my friends and family motivate me to just keep going.”

As Nate continues his journey through his teenage years, he credits his friends helping him break out of his shell and become more comfortable with himself. In the past, Nate had anxiety about going out alone, but now he says he feels comfortable with it, a transformation he attributes to the support of friends and family.

“My friends around me told me that no one knows you, so they’re not going to really care about who you are or what you do. It helped me get the mindset that no one knows who I am or what I’ve been through, so I can just enjoy the moment instead of worrying.” 

Although Nate wishes he had been more open to learning about his heritage earlier, Filipino Culture Society (FCS) in high school has brought him closer to his culture. Through the club, he’s learned more about Filipino culture, immersing himself in the traditional dances, history, and customs that connect him to his Filipino identity. 

Nate’s passion for dance has been a constant throughout his life, but his involvement in the FCS has deepened his connection to his heritage. Among the traditional dances he’s learned so far, tinikling, a rhythmic dance involving two bamboo poles, is his favorite. As the Vice President of Modern Dance, Nate looks forward to choreographing FCS’s dance for Multicultural Day. 

As Nate continues his journey through high school, he hopes to make more memories with his friends and have new experiences, knowing these moments will be preserved through his Polaroid photographs. He is ready to face life’s challenges because he knows that “there’s always going to be something good at the end.”

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