Margot Becker’s ’20 weekly crossword puzzle has become a fun and challenging Friday must-do for many students and adults arounds campus. Individuals and teams of students rush to complete the challenging 15×15 published on the inside back page of The Milton Paper. Becker gives out prizes for a variety of categories and e-mails out the names of everyone who completes the puzzle correctly.
“I wanted it to be that if you send it in and it’s right, you get a reward of some kind, regardless of your speed,” said Becker. “Last week, I started a ‘beautiful completion’ prize for the best looking puzzles (see photos). My whole aim is to encourage everyone to do these, have a good time and get something out of it.”
Becker said she began making crosswords last year on her own, first just sketching some and then making 5×5 puzzles, which are called “minis.” Using a software program called Phil, she progressed to the “midi” size and then to the more difficult 15×15 format, which is the size of The New York Times weekday crossword.
Beckers love of crosswords started young. “I’m from a crossword family. My grandfather did two a day until the day he died,” said Margo, who partners with her dad to complete daily puzzles on the NYTimes app. Right now, their daily correct streak is at 83 with a total of 507 puzzles solved.
Becker is the layout manager for The Milton Paper and the crossword has become a labor of love because the process of building a puzzle from scratch is time-consuming. “This has been a humbling experience, because it’s hard. But it’s also rewarding because it’s so fun.”
The clever clues range from pop culture to history, sports to literature. Some clues are unique to Milton: “God, maybe, in Ms. Dey’s class” or “Megablunder code when you forget a comma.” There is always some humor, but also some serious challenges.
“More than anything it’s about community building. It’s not how I saw it at all in the beginning, but it’s super cool that that’s what has come out of it.”