The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Senior publishes crossword

Aidan Deshong ’24 published his first crossword puzzle for USA Today on Dec. 12. Although Deshong has created crosswords for his personal blog for almost a year, this is only the second time that his puzzles have been used by a major newspaper, with the first being published in the Boston Globe. Deshong said he was able to pitch his crossword to USA Today because the publication recently opened up publication opportunities for outside creators.

“As soon as [the opportunity opened], anyone who wanted to could email them with a theme,” Deshong said. “I came up with a theme idea, which I won’t spoil for people who want to do it, [and] sent it over. They said, ‘Looks good. Let’s tweak it a little bit, make it a little simpler,’ because USA Today is supposed to be the easiest [crossword]. Then, I sent them a grid and that got approved. Then, I wrote clues and that got approved. The whole thing took about a week in about mid-October.”

Upper School Science Teacher Nate Cardin, who describes himself a crossword enthusiast, said that he admires all that Deshong has accomplished so far

“I am quite proud of [Deshong] for being a published crossword constructor at such a young age,” Cardin said. “It’s a rare feat, and I bet this is only the beginning for him. I’ve watched his skills develop over the past year and have also gotten to write a few crosswords with him.”

Cardin said that part of the reason crosswords are popular is because of the challenge they pose.

“Folks who like crosswords often enjoy that they’re a fun, tricky puzzle to conquer,” Cardin said. “Building crossword puzzles is an extra level of difficulty, but I find it to be a fun challenge as well as a skill that you get better at with practice. [Deshong] has already demonstrated tremendous growth in his puzzle-making abilities, [and] I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.”

Deshong said he started making crossword puzzles out of curiosity about how they worked, and this evolved into a passion to publish his puzzles and give them to friends and mentors to solve.

“I always liked puzzles,” Deshong said. “So [making my own puzzle] was something I [felt I] should do at some point. I was putting them on a blog for about nine months before I started dealing with publishers. And then I got to a point where I was like, ‘Okay, you know, maybe I can run with this.’ It’s fun to go to teachers or other people I know and say, ‘Hey, I made this,’ and then they do [the puzzle] and they tell me about it. It’s just exciting to see your name on the internet like that, [even though] now I’m at least a tiny bit familiar with it.”

Oren Hartstein ’24 said that he enjoyed solving Deshong’s puzzle.

“The crossword was skillfully constructed and had a very creative theme,” Hartstein said. “I greatly enjoyed solving it.”

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Everett Lakey, Assistant News Editor

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