Grande announces return to Manchester

Following the recent terror attacks in Manchester, U.K. at an Ariana Grande concert, the singer has released an open letter to her fans, not only preaching a message of courage and love, but also announcing a return to the city.

According to NPR, Grande took to Twitter on May 26 to share that she will return to Manchester “to spend time with my fans and to have a benefit concert in honor of and to raise money for the victims and their families,” though a date is not finalized.

Grande continued her message by sharing how the response to the tragedy has both inspired her and made her want to continue to provide a unifying experience for her fans.

“The compassion, kindness, love, strength and oneness that you’ve shown one another this past week is the exact opposite of the heinous intentions it must take to pull off something as evil as what happened Monday,” she wrote. “Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.”

As for the lives lost in the attack, Grande said, “They will be on my mind and in my heart everyday, and I will think of them with everything I do for the rest of my life.”



‘Vogue’ Visionary Stepping Down

If you love fashion, chances are you’ve picked up a copy of Vogue at least once in your life and ogled at the luxurious designer goods and impeccably-styled models displayed throughout the magazine’s glossy pages. But on Jan. 20, news broke that has the potential to change the lauded fashion bible as we know it.

According to The New York Times, Grace Coddington, the creative director of Vogue, announced she will be stepping down from her position at the Condé Nast publication. A spokeswoman for the company explained that Coddington will act as a “creative editor at large,” producing “several” articles a year for Vogue while pursuing other opportunities.

Coddington told industry website Business of Fashion that although she will be scaling back her position, she still looks forward to contributing to the magazine. “I’m not running away from Vogue, because it has opened so many doors. But it will be nice to collaborate, and nice to go out (and) give talks to people,” she said of her future plans.

The now-former creative director assumed her place in the spotlight after the 2009 documentary, “The September Issue,” was released, which followed famed Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour and her team as they compiled the magazine’s 840-page September 2007 issue — the largest single issue of a magazine ever printed, reports NPR.

Although Coddington has been with Vogue and worked side by side with Wintour for 28 years, The New York Times speculates that her departure may have been long overdue. In a 2014 interview with The Financial Times, Coddington said, “I’ve been saying, ‘I’m going to leave tomorrow’ for the last 10 years.” While her exit may comes as a shock to us Vogue readers, her vacancy may usher in a series of surprises that may change the publication as we know it.

The New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman describes three potential changes that may take place. Coddington and Wintour both assumed their positions at Vogue in 1988, while Executive Fashion Editor Phyllis Posnick has been at the magazine since 1987 and Fashion Director Tonne Goodman added her name to the masthead in 1999; Her exit, then, may spur other changes in leadership at the magazine.

Second, Friendman suggests that as Condé Nast reconciles their print publications with their respective online presences, any decisions Winter may make as the magazine’s artistic director will signal a longterm editorial strategy that will impact the magazine’s future.

Finally, Coddington celebrated fashion as a means to “transport and transform,” which balanced out Wintour’s practicality and business prowess. Their strengths combined to form the publication we have all come to love, and Coddington’s absence may mean an overall change in direction for Vogue.

While Coddington is bowing out from her post at Vogue, The New York Times says that she is not retiring altogether. In fact, she is set to release a perfume with fashion company Comme De Garçons in April, while working on a follow-up book to her 2002 title, “Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue.” There’s even talk of a film being made on her 2012 autobiography, “Grace.”

Perhaps Coddington explained her plans post-Vogue best when she said, “It’s just another approach. I’m certainly not going to retire. I don’t want to sit around.”

Clearly, Coddington has more work to do on more things that will, undoubtedly, find their way into our hearts yet again.

No Ordinary Graduation

Every year, a group of students reaches the top tier of their education, allowing them to graduate from one level to the next. And while this quite ordinary, a graduation ceremony that took place on August 21 was rather extraordinary.

According to NPR, 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest graduated from Army Ranger School, making them the first women to successfully complete the program at Fort Benning, Ga.

The course, says NPR, “puts a premium on physical strength and endurance.” But despite the course’s grueling physical demands, Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, the graduation’s guest speaker, emphasized that both Haver and Griest “completed the course to the same standards as their 94 male classmates.” NPR says that Miller also explained that the standards to pass the course were unchanged for their female candidates.

During a press conference on Thursday, Haver and Griest were asked if they considered dropping out of the course at any point during the program. NPR reports that Griest responded saying, “I never actually thought anything was going to be too difficult that it was worth leaving the course.”

Haver explained that she did consider leaving the course, but she found solace in knowing that her peers were sharing in the same trying experiences.

NPR says that the class originally began with 364 soldiers, 40 of which completed the course in 62 days and went “‘straight through’ to graduate.” The class graduated 96 soldiers in all.

Within that class of 96, Haver and Griest are the only two females to graduate of the original 19 who began the course, the Associated Press reports.

Congratulations to 1st Lt. Haver and Capt. Griest — you are both the definition of strength and perseverance, and you are an inspiration to us all.

A Gift to Others

When most 18-year-olds receive gifts on their birthdays, Malala Yousafzai used her birthday to give to other girls her age. And she didn’t just give any gift, she gave the gift she treasures most — the gift of education.

NPR reports that Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban while returning home from school in 2012, celebrated her 18th birthday on Sunday by opening a secondary school in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. According to the Malala Fund, the school, located near the Syrian border, will serve 200 Syrian refugee girls between the ages of 14 and 18.

NPR reports that the Malala Fund’s blog explains how the new school will work, saying “‘the new curriculum will enable students to receive their baccalaureate or vocational degrees through the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education or the Syrian equivalent,'” while those who cannot commit to the four-year program can enroll in “‘skills courses intended to help them find work and generate their own incomes.'”

A fierce education advocate, Yousafzai vowed to continue her fight for girls’ education into her adult life, saying last week at Oslo’s education summit that “‘As an adult, you can be the voice of children.'”

Malala, you are the definition of inspiring.