VOLUME XXVIII, ISSUE II | MO 63017 | MARQUETTEMESSENGER.COM | DECEMBER 2020
â€˜Tis the season People of various religious affiliations talk about assimilation and commercialization during the holiday season
See pg. 8-9
ROLL CALL Editor in Chief Associate Editor Copy Editor Online Editor Production Editor News Editor Features Editor Arts&Entertainment Editor Sports Editors Opinions Editor In-Depth Editor Social Media Editors Photography Editor Illustrators Page Designers Staff Reporters Staff Adviser
Waha Siddiqui Connor Del Carmen Zara Tola Arpitha Sistla Stephanie Lei Aarushi Bute Carter Van Buskirk Akhila Swarna Marin Ellington Annie McGinnis Molly Sillitto Lauren Pickett Sydney Goldsmith Rutaiba Siddiqui Grace Taylor Ben Hughes Emmie Foley Mason Kellerman Peyton Rubenstein Anika Talyan Lajja Patel Emily Jorgensen
INSIDE Students take up blogging in their free time.
Students of various religions reflect on the holiday season.
Swim & Dive team adjusts to wearing masks this season.
Social studies teacher explains the foundations of his historically significant house.
swim & dive
The Messenger is published eight times a year by students enrolled in the News Production class at Marquette High School, Chesterfield, MO, 63017. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Messenger will be published six times for the 2020-2021 school year. Issue II was written and designed by 18 virtual and 3 in-person students. The publication office is located in Room 226, (636) 891-6000 ext. 26228 Opinions of Messenger columnists or the Editorial Board are not representative of the opinions of
Music teachers adapt to the challenges of masks and social distancing.
Seniors write thank you letters to RSD teachers.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
GENDER EQUALITY IN SPORTS
We live in a time when we are constantly bombarded with “11:59” deadlines, Zoom links and emails. As citizens of the connected world plagued with some of the highest levels of stress and anxiety, we must connect with something more elemental. But what can be done? Well, the answer is waiting right outside. Teenagers must dedicate time to spend outdoors and connect with nature to more effectively manage their physical and mental health. Every time I come back from a run, hike or bike ride, I feel a renewed sense of consciousness, focus and peace. In fact, an article published by Harvard Medical School showed that just five minutes of green exercise resulted in improvements in selfesteem and mood. That’s about half the
Sarah Fuller, a college student who plays as the starting goalie for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, recently became the kicker of the men’s football team. Iconic right? Well social media posts said differently. From wishing she gets injured to making fun of her height to making her feel uncomfortable by sexualizing her on the field, this is the reality of women’s sports. I, in fact, subbed in on my brother’s flag football game a few years back. I was the only player who didn’t drop the ball once. I ran several yards and intercepted some balls. Did I mention that I don’t even play football? I remember every guy I knew made fun of how I caught the ball after seeing the video recording of the game. This isn’t a lone incident. According to the
Sincerely, Sid Suratia junior
the entire Messenger staff or the administration. The Messenger takes responses for any issue. Send these in at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Messenger reserves the right to edit submitted material and to refuse to print material because of space limitations, repetitive subject matter, libelous content or any other reason the editor in chief and adviser deem appropriate, including advertisements and letters to the editor.
NATURE APPRECIATION length of an average YouTube video. The virtual learning routine has driven us into an overwhelming daily routine that revolves around the shared space of our homes. Nature has an answer to that as well. So, the next time you think about checking out another YouTube video or start feeling overwhelmed by constant emails or are mindlessly scrolling through TikTok, choose the alternative of simply going outside. At a time when nothing is certain, nature will always have our backs and help us manage what truly matters most: our physical and mental health.
Visit our website to view more stories and MHSNews: marquettemessenger.com
Admin encourage the use of self-care kits.
RSD propels initiative for the inclusion and equity of LGBTQ+ people.
Washington Post, the U.S. women’s national soccer team receives lower pay than the U.S. men’s national soccer team, even though the women’s team has won more games, more world cups and has a bigger crowd show up! Now, I am not saying that women are better; I am saying men and women are equally talented. Sarah Fuller’s situation, every girl’s horrible sport stories and U.S. women’s team payment is unacceptable. I will not settle for anything other than gender equality. Let’s work together and make a change for the better. Sincerely, Sarah Federer junior
RSD approves changes to second semester lauren PICKETT
FIRST SEMESTER WILL CONCLUDE Thursday, Jan. 14, allowing teachers to prepare for second semester, which will begin Tuesday, Jan. 19. Students, whether learning virtually or inperson, will return to a seven-course schedule and attend four classes daily in a rotating block day schedule until Thursday, June 3. In the event MHS is advised to temporarily suspend in-person attendance due to COVID-19, MHS would follow the B-C schedule virtually and consider building more virtual days into the semester schedule. Principal Dr. Steve Hankins said the semester system could be advantageous for students, especially those enrolled in Senior Incentive as school ends at the same time everyday. Also, teachers may be able to slow the pace of instruction, better aid students and have more time for reassessments. “One of the consequences we saw from the quarter schedule is if you are sick, it is a lot harder to get caught up,” Dr. Hankins said. “Now that we have been in this model for a whole semester, a lot of the technology is figured out, so it makes sense to go back to the semester model.” The second semester schedule will continue using a concurrent teaching model, combining asynchronous learning online and live class instruction. In the 2021-2022 academic year,
MHS will move back to a semester system with a B and C day schedule with 4 classes per day until Thursday, June 3. Students cannot switch from virtual to in-person until Spring Break.
In-person students learn about AP World History from Matthew Del Pizzo. AP students will have more time with teachers during the new semester to prepare for the end-of-year exams. Photograph by Connor Del Carmen
virtual classes will be asynchronous with fewer courses offered. Dr. Hankins said students who choose virtual learning will not be able to switch back before Spring Break, which starts Monday, March 22, and the same applies after the break. Inperson students will be allowed to opt for virtual classes anytime in the year. Students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses will have the third and the majority of the fourth quarter to attend their classes which should provide educators more time to teach material to their first or second quarter students. Dr. Hankins said although the COVID-19 infection rates are too high to implement Flex Time, he hopes a vaccine will allow more students to come back in person in the spring and return to a sense of normalcy in the
fall. Aditi Srinivasan, junior, said she is concerned about students’ workloads and stress increasing due to the transition from three to seven courses. She is enrolled in AP courses and prefers spreading out her classes in the quarter schedule. She said students like herself taking AP classes and participating in extracurriculars may need assistance with material. Srinivasan said it is important to consider alternatives to Flex Time as the current student office hours after school will no longer be available starting second semester. “In-person students have more of an advantage of communicating with teachers one-on-one,” Srinivasan said. “For virtual students, you never know what issues can happen with technology. It can be harder to reach
In the 2020-2021 academic year, virtual classes will be completely asynchronous with fewer courses offered. out to teachers and get the help you need without interacting with them.” Srushti Bhoyar, junior, said continuing to use the quarter system would cause her to not fully comprehend each class’ material and to forget content as she doesn’t have time to review course units from previous quarters. She said a slower transition into the semester system is plausible as there will be more courses but less content to cover on a weekly basis. She is still concerned about the impacts of the fast-paced quarter system on her preparedness for AP exams next semester. “I’m really scared for the seven classes a week,” Bhoyar said. “It might take a toll on my mental health, but I feel we should be able to go back to what used to be ‘normal schooling’.”
Program allows students to recover first quarter credit grace TAYLOR
in an asynchronous format on Canvas taught by an RSD teacher. STUDENTS WHO FAILED CLASSES Liz Pease, language arts teacher, in the first quarter are earning back teaches 10th grade ELA credit recovery credits needed to graduate during the for MHS and EHS students. She is only second quarter. teaching two out of three courses this Assistant Superintendent of quarter, so she thought she would help Learning and Support students avoid summer Services Dr. Shelley school. 77 students at Willott organized the “Launch is a good MHS are enrollment process. In program as well, but the past, RSD utilized it is not aligned with enrolled in the Launch, a third-party our curriculum per credit recovery se,” Pease said. “There vendor for online content, but because is little connection program in of the pandemic, Dr. one assignment second quarter between Willott said RSD sped and another, while the up the process to Information from MHS Registrar Rockwood program create their own credit builds upon itself, recovery program. reinforcing writing skills Students who failed a first-quarter within the reading comprehension core class were contacted by their skills, and all under the umbrella of a principal. If they chose to participate, central theme.” they are now retaking the failed course Even with asynchronous learning,
Pease said she is involved with her students. She sends out daily announcements, encourages them to contact her with any questions and reminds them of Zoom office hours. “Giving students that second chance is sometimes what they need for future success in high school,” Pease said. “All kids are capable; however, life happens and we need to be able to provide a cushion for those that need it.” Principal Dr. Steve Hankins said it is beneficial for students to retake courses during the second quarter because there are only three classes. Students retaking courses also will be much more familiar with the course work than before. “It’s our curriculum, our teachers and our students,” Dr. Hankins said. “We have a much better shot at meeting the needs of students and getting them through.”
Liz Pease, language arts teacher, teaches her online and in-person class. Pease also teaches in the credit recovery program. Photograph by Connor Del Carmen
AT A GLANCE
Seniors Janvi Huria and Rincon Jagarlamudi are among 1,609 students to be 20202021 Coca-Cola Scholarship Semifinalists.
Winter Break starts Wednesday, Dec. 23, and ends Monday, Jan. 4.
Thursday, Jan. 14, is an Early Release Day and the end of second quarter.
There will be no school Friday, Jan. 15 and Monday, Jan. 18.
Second semester begins Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Curriculum Night will be Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 6:30p.m. to 8p.m.
2021 AP exams will be administered in-person with full course content Monday, May 3 through Friday, May 14.
RSD offers pronoun, name changes marin ELLINGTON DR. TERRY HARRIS, executive director of student services, received a call from a concerned mother on the verge of tears because her child wouldn’t log onto Zoom. This child is transgender and had to log in every time using their dead name, which the teacher would not allow them to change. So eventually, they just stopped logging in. Dr. Harris set out to change this student’s name within the system. Soon after, the mother called back, in tears, saying for the first time in months her child was logged into online school and was thriving. “For individuals who are not being free to be oppressed, we don’t seem to think open about about these different things,” Dr. themselves,” Harris said. Gratzer said. “This Dr. Harris has been working with includes responding to other administrators to implement discriminatory behavior in a RSD’s Initiative for LGBTQ+ Inclusion way that helps to reduce it and prevent and Equity, a work in progress it in the future.” for five to six years that has made Emma Naes, junior, has had advancements despite being in its multiple teachers who ask students for early stages. their pronouns and one who changed A priority of the initiative has been their Zoom name to include their to create visibility for the LGBTQ+ pronouns. community. Telling stories is only Naes is grateful for RSD’s the beginning, recognition of the as professional “It’s important that RSD social divide. learning on the “I’ve noticed continues to create a subject is being that a lot of safe space where people LGBTQ+ people pushed for as well. tend to stick are free to be open “The decision together, but a lot about themselves.” that we will make of the ‘popular will always be kids’ groups don’t for the safety, have a lot of NOELLE GRATZER happiness and diversity,” Naes JUNIOR love of students,” said. “I wish that Dr. Harris said. there wasn’t such Now the a divide between district is able to offer the option straight cis people and people with to have pronouns listed on Infinite differing identities.” Campus for both students and staff. Lauren Williams, language arts Outside of school, students have teacher, has been an advocate for taken it upon themselves to take surveying students on their pronouns similar measures by putting their and is also a sponsor for the Gay pronouns in the bios of their social Straight Alliance (GSA). media accounts. Williams has led professional Noelle Gratzer, junior, has her development for staff members on pronouns listed in her Instagram the topic of LGBTQ+ inclusion where bio and uses her platform to spread faculty is made familiar with what is awareness. acceptable among younger generations. As a member of the LGBTQ+ Discussions take place during GSA community, Gratzer has encountered meetings about the different identities many people who seem close-minded the LGBTQ+ term covers and the regarding the topic of sexuality and intersectionality in the community. has witnessed slurs casually thrown Williams recommends using the about. beginning of the year as a good time to Multiple students have reached out ask students their pronouns. to Gratzer for explanation on why her “My message to the Marquette pronouns are in her bio, which has students would just be my message to caused more people to participate in anyone their age,” Williams said. “Just the movement. find people that accept you for who “It’s important that RSD continues you are, and ignore everyone else.” to create a safe space where people are
Dr. Terry Harris, executive director of student services, presents an initiative for LGBTQ+ equity, access and inclusion to the Board of Education Thursday, Nov. 19. Mal Tockman, junior (left) and Liv Kalemis, junior (right) hold their posters at the Woman’s March last January in downtown St. Louis to support the LGBTQ+ community. Photographs by Jordan Ring and Waha Siddiqui
At the Thursday, Nov. 19, Board of Education meeting, Jess Jones Education & Consulting presented about equity, access and inclusion for LGBTQ+ students. Scan the QR code to view the presentation.
SPEAK OUT With second semester bringing back old aspects of the schedule such as seven classes and an in-person lunch break, we asked:
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING RSD PRIORITIZES FOR SECOND SEMESTER? “I hope [second semester] is not as hard as I think it will be. It’s going to be different moving from three classes a day to seven. I don’t really know how that is going to work.” CHARLIE SCHAFFER
Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles discusses RSD’s plan for the remaining school year during the November Board of Education meeting Thursday, Nov. 19. Second semester will begin Tuesday, Jan. 19, and end Thursday, June 3. Photograph by Waha Siddiqui
editorialBOARD SECOND SEMESTER THE PAST SEMESTER IN RSD WAS DIFFERENT and seventh hour everyday. than any other before. With a system dividing our In the past, many of us dreaded the long hours schedules into four and three classes a quarter and a of blocked classes. However, the alternating format return to in-person learning with safety restrictions, of the block schedule will allow us to ease back into the district quickly adapted to the hurdles of the taking seven classes at a time, when we have only pandemic. Now, students and parents must make a been taking three to four for the past five months. decision for next semester. The blocked schedule coupled with virtual As the decision for families to opt for in-person learning days will ease the burden of juggling or online has been pushed into January, we commend multiple classes at a time for students and hopefully RSD in their flexibility and adjustment to the fluidity teachers. of the COVID-19 cases, allowing families to make the Five virtual days for K-12 will be instated next most up-to-date decision about the wellsemester, serving as a chance for both being and education of their loved ones. in-person and online students to learn We appreciate RSD’s continued from home for the day, thus allowing Administrators tolerance for allowing in-person teachers to teach them all together. should continue students to switch to online As RSD attempts to listen to whenever they feel like it. Given multiple perspectives, we ask to listen to teacher the ever-changing world we live them to continue to prioritize a suggestions and in, it’s imperative to give students few things. coordinate plans where and their families the ability to Even if RSD decides to move withdraw from in-person learning faculty are still available virtual students toward a more at any time. asynchronous format in the to help students who second Next semester, which is set semester, it’s essential need it, regardless to start Tuesday, Jan. 19, the for those students to still have the concurrent online and in-person same level of help offered to them as of format. learning systems will continue, with in-person students. online learning possibly being more While asynchronous learning by asynchronous than this semester. definition will involve fewer teacher-toAdditionally, the block schedule will be reinstated student interactions, this cannot be used as an in the second semester, with alternating B and C excuse to offer an inferior educational experience. days, odd hours on B days and even hours on C days, Administrators should continue to listen to teacher suggestions and coordinate plans where faculty are still available to help students who need it, regardless of format. In the past, we urged RSD to be transparent Jan. 29, Feb. 5, Feb. 26, about COVID cases and county health. Easy-to-find, regularly updated COVID-19 numbers in our schools March 5 and March 12 are has been useful in informing the community about scheduled as virtual learning the present risks students and teachers face. This days for second semester is especially important now as families make the decision to go in-person or stay virtual for the third quarter.
“The safety of the students is probably going to be the number one priority. Having more hand sanitizer, definitely having those masks readily available if a student ever needs one.”
“I hope they prioritize giving the kids fairer schedules. Especially when we had those classes all mixed up, a lot of people ended up with a lot of core classes and no electives so that was really hard for some people in the beginning.”
DR. STEVE HANKINS,
“I believe there needs to be an increased effort and awareness in helping students adjust to these changes, and an understanding that conventional testing and quizzing isn’t going to be a good way to measure what they’ve learned.”
“We want to make sure everyone is safe, and I think the protocols we have in place right now are working. We want to continue providing a great education, and my hope is to bring back some of that community aspect and some normalcy.”
Support small businesses
Speech is a superpower
HOLIDAY SHOPPING IS IN FULL swing, and it is essential consumers buy from small businesses before purchasing from Amazon. A small business is defined by having 500 or fewer employees. Small businesses have taken a huge hit since the pandemic began because the majority of U.S. cities went into lockdown. According to the article, “Nearly 100,000 establishments that temporarily shut down due to the pandemic are now out of business,” by Fortune, Yelp’s Local Economic Impact Report reported 97,966 businesses have permanently closed because of the pandemic. If we are forced to stay inside for a pandemic, then obviously Amazon will become our go to. It makes sense right? Amazon has almost everything you could possibly need, and you could receive it in up to two days, all without leaving your home. Unlike small businesses, Amazon surged during the pandemic. According to the article “Amazon doubles quarterly profit despite Covid-19 costs” by the Financial Times, in the second quarter (April-June), the company had a net income of 5.2 billion, which is double the amount they earned in the same period in 2019. Clearly during the midst of the chaos, Amazon is doing just fine, while small business owners are trying to make ends meet. Now that we aren’t in lockdown, we can go out and shop at small businesses while still being safe. St. Louis county requires 25 percent business capacity and masks worn by people over the age of 5 when outside homes. With the holidays coming up, we have the opportunity to support our community and the average American. Instead of buying a top off of Amazon, take a stop at your local boutique and not only buy a great gift for a friend, but support a business owner in a time of need. As consumers, we have the power to pick and choose where our money goes, especially during the pandemic and the holiday season, and support our community.
“MY NAME IS ZARA.” One might think that for me, these words are easy to say. But that’s not the reality for people with a stutter. Oftentimes, saying my own name is a task that requires effort just to vocalize. When I stutter, no air goes in, no air comes out. It feels like I’m choking on my own words, sputtering to get something out. Growing up with a stutter at a young and impressionable age, I was insecure about it. I just wanted others to take what I had to say seriously, regardless of the way I spoke.
Photo Illustration by Mason Kellerman
The first time I even found out I had a speech problem was in third grade when a friend brought up to me that other people had been talking about it. The worst part about having a stutter is I can’t blame people for their reactions to it. They make jokes because they don’t know I can’t help the way I speak. Other times, they’ll finish my sentences because they genuinely don’t know I’m still trying to speak, but the words just won’t come out. I’ve even had people give me a hard pat on the back, as if that would propel the words out of my mouth. My insecurity didn’t fade away in middle school, and I was still fearful to talk to others because of the looks or comments about my speech. My first day of sixth grade, I got a surprise visit from the school speech
Photo Illustration by Mason Kellerman
pathologist, at my parents request. But my parents never told me about it. I went home and confronted my mom about sending me to speech therapy without even telling me. I started crying. I was horrified that my classmates saw me get pulled out of class to get help. I didn’t want to be seen as needing aid or support. During those years, I was just annoyed that everyone treated it like it was a big problem that I had to solve every time I spoke. I stutter, so what? As I went into high school, my confidence went up, but my ability to speak didn’t. My stutter still prevented me from saying what I wanted to say, but it wasn’t because of fear anymore. It was just pure physiology. When I would speak, no sound would come out. Or I could only just repeat the first sound of the word I was trying to say no matter how hard I tried to say the whole thing. Because of this, I’ve learned that I do have to work on my speech in order to better communicate efficiently with others. It’s just how it is. But I want to do it. I want to talk to people, to voice my opinions and ideas, to just be like everyone else. As an 18 year old who stutters today, I don’t see my speech impediment just getting up and going away. But, stutter or not, I do have a voice, and I am able to say things with it. I’ve found my voice despite my stutter, and I can tell you speech is a superpower. Don’t take it for granted.
Time to cancel ‘cancel culture’ peyton RUBENSTEIN ADDISON RAE, SHANE DAWSON, Bryce Hall and now the D’Amelio sisters. Cancel culture has been out for blood and will only continue to spread like a disease across social media platforms. A creator may be canceled due to cheating on a significant other, being insensitive or hateful toward minorities or showing disrespect to people around them. Because content creators are in the public eye, they should be prepared for the scrutinization of their every move. However, this does not justify the general public tearing down the lives of those who have made mistakes. Social media users quickly jump to conclusions and do not give much thought to the consequences of their allegations. For example, Dixie and Charli D’Amelio, sisters with millions of followers on TikTok, were recently in a video where they gagged over a meal their private chef made for them. The sisters received thousands of comments saying they were disrespect-
ful and people had lost their respect for them, even recieving messages encouraging them to harm themselves. The D’Amelios have responded to the controversy saying the video was taken out of context, but the damage was already done. Charli lost more than a million followers. On a recent Instagram Live video, Charli took responsibility for putting herself in the public eye, but is not sure if she wants to continue to do so if it puts her in harm’s way. “If this is the community that I’m in, I don’t know if I want to do that anymore,” Charli said. TikTok will only continue to facilitate the worsening of cancel culture due to the short length of videos on the app and the platform’s young user base. Videos spread very quickly and can have a large impact during a short period. Many of the most famous TikTokers are young adults, and this demographic can be more prone to making mistakes or seeming insensitive. The understanding of possible consequences is fine-tuned with age and
Photograph by Peyton Rubenstein
experience, and this critical thinking is something younger people tend to lack. Teenagers may not realize something they do could be interpreted in a negative way, and this could result in them posting something that seems inappropriate or insensitive. However, cancel culture rarely keeps its culprits on the outs for long, and offenders are often forgiven almost as quickly as they were attacked. Until society realizes this pattern of ineffectiveness, no one is safe from being canceled.
FEATURES Lauren Williams, language arts teacher, expresses her hope to return to normalcy after recent struggles within the classroom. “There definitely is a disconnect“ she said. Photograph by Carter Van Buskirk
Jenny Yang, junior, works on her Chromebook while listening in on Zoom. Photograph by Jenny Yang
Jennifer Holman, science teacher, uses a candy cane Zoom filter and corresponding outfit to add holiday cheer during spirit week. Photograph by Jennifer Holman
Community experiences social disconnect rutaiba SIDDIQUI
stances is not having immediate feedback from her students. With masks hiding facial expressions and JENNY YANG, JUNIOR, ATTENDS HER ZOOM the majority of cameras on Zoom being turned off, classes surrounded by a sea of black screens with her it is difficult for her to know if students are underlone teacher’s screen on as she watches her teachers standing the material. bond with their in-person students. “It’s harder to have those private conversations to Yang has been attending school virtually since the ask about the game last night or a book that they’re beginning of this school year. To connect with her reading, just because I can’t get close to my students teachers, she has to do more than the average in-perunless they’re walking in the door,” Williams said. son student, including visiting office hours or sched“I do miss those one-on-one conversations of really uling appointments. digging in deeply and getting to know them.” “I feel like the teachers definitely like the in-perTo help bridge this gap, Williams opens class with son students a lot more,” Yang said. “It’s so easy some good news or funny stories about her day to to turn off my camera and microphone, and the cheer up students, and she sends video feedback to teachers can’t exactly force us let them know there is someone to talk in class. It’s just different behind the screen. She also tries “It’s so easy to turn through a screen.” to create breakout rooms often Not only does Yang feel disto help students connect with off my camera and connected from her teachers, but each other. microphone, and the she said she also feels disconSophomore Principal Dr. teachers can’t exactly nected from her classmates and Rick Regina hosted Whatcha peers. force us to talk in class. Know Wednesdays last year When she was attending checked up on classrooms It’s just different through and school in-person, Yang would throughout the day. However, a screen.” talk to mutual friends she wasn’t this year has made his job less close with, but online, she is interactive. unable to talk to a lot of people “The big piece that I really JENNY YANG in her classes. miss is connecting with students JUNIOR “It’s very sad to not be able that would just randomly stop to have a better connection with by to either say hello or had my teachers and friends,” Yang something they wanted to work said. “We all only have one high school career, and through with me,” Dr. Regina said. “Having some it’s almost like we just lost an entire year.” students back is great though, and my favorite part of To stay connected, Yang has been keeping in the day is seeing all the smiles.” touch with her friends through FaceTime and colDr. Regina stays connected with fellow adminlaborating on assignments, as well as joining virtual istrators as well as teachers and students by visiting clubs to meet new people. classrooms, staying active on Twitter and greeting Yang is not alone in her feelings of isolation. students throughout the day. According to an April survey conducted by SocialPro, “The energy level is not the same in the building 30.8 percent of Americans feel socially isolated due when there’s half the students, and it’s not something to the pandemic. you can just manufacture,” Dr. Regina said. “HopefulLauren Williams, language arts teacher, said the ly, we can get back to that point sometime this year.” most difficult part of teaching under these circum-
BY THE NUMBERS Where are students learning from? In person
44.2% 55.8% Online Information from the MHS Registrar, as of Friday, Dec. 11
Do Americans feel socially isolated? Yes 30.8%
69.2% No Information from SocialPro
Illustrations by Emmie Foley Cover photograph by Waha Siddiqui
Sophia Marciano, junior, sets up the Navity scene under her Christmas tree. For her family, the Nativity scene serves as a religious decoration and reminder of the birth of Jesus. Photograph by Sophia Marciano
Kayley Lory, sophomore, and sister Emily Lory, junior, take pictures before opening presents in 2010. Photograph by Becky Lory
Sophia Marciano, junior, volunte ciano as an elf, and kids interact Christmas Light Fight Show film
As seen on pg. 1
People of various religious affiliations akhila SWARNA • grace TAYLOR STROLLING THROUGH A WORN DOWN pathway of grass to her neighbor’s house, Zoë Malik, senior, smiled as she envisioned a day full of festivities. With each stride, Malik recalled joyful memories from previous years on this highly anticipated day: Christmas. Upon arrival, Malik began the Christmas celebrations with cookie decorating and gift-giving. Malik, who is Muslim, isn’t the only one to indulge in the holiday spirit. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans celebrated Christmas in 2019, according to a Gallup poll. The holiday is one of the most celebrated days of the year with 81 percent of non-Christians participating in Christmas activities in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.
BY THE NUMBERS Christianity is the most practiced religion in the United States, with 70.6 percent of citizens practicing. In Missouri, 77 percent of citizens practice. 5.9 percent of Americans practice a non-Christian Faith, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and others. 22.8 percent of Americans consider themself unafilliated with religion, including both Athiests and Agnostics. Information from Pew Research Center
As a Muslim, Malik said her family participates in the non-religious aspects of the holiday season with her neighbors as a tradition. The celebrations include gift-giving, cookie decorating and an occasional “secret Santa.” Also, the Maliks travel to Florida during Winter Break to engage in the holiday festivities in a warmer climate. “Because I’m Muslim, Christmas isn’t our holiday per se since our holidays come earlier in the year,” Malik said. For Malik, the Muslim holidays of Eid and Ramadan are more family-oriented holidays than Christmas. During the Islamic month of Ramadan, Malik fasts from sunrise to sunset and ends the month with the celebration of Eid. “Christmas, it’s fun, but I feel like I’m more watching on the sidelines,” Malik said. “It’s not as much family-oriented.”
COMMERCIALIZATION Many Americans celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas due to the commercialization of the season, and Malik said this aspect brings about more participation and joy and makes the winter season more welcoming. “The fact that it’s a little commercialized means that everyone can participate in all the different things and not worry about the religious part of it,” Malik said. She said her perspective on celebrating Christmas is different than her other Muslim friends because she has a Pakistani father and Danish mother. As a Hindu, sophomore Rohan Devraj’s excitement behind fast-approaching Christmas season can be summarized in one word: presents. “It’s the fun part of Christmas, and waking up and opening them were the best memories that I have from the season,” Devraj said. Devraj said he no longer requests or receives gifts, but it is a major part of the Christmas season that uplifts people’s moods. Although Devraj continues to partake in various activities such as putting up a tree and setting up Christmas lights, he maintains his own religious tradi-
tions by participating in Hindu and Indian festivals. He said some Hindus in his community assimilate into Christmas festivities but do not necessarily forget their own culture and religious practices. Devraj, like Malik, recognizes the commercialization of Christmas. “It helps people from all different cultures and religions experience and get a feel for what the holiday season is like,” Devraj said. Russell Gottlieb, math teacher, practices Judaism. He said commercialization is an important tool for the economy because the toy, game and merchandise industries depend on it for a profit. On the other hand, he said it is not beneficial for those who celebrate religiously. Gottlieb said the commercialization of Christmas also has affected a well-known Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, a festival that reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and commemorates in particular the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. “Hanukkah is really not a very important Jewish holiday,” Gottlieb said. “Because of its proximity to Christmas, it’s become one of the few most people know. That’s a way Judaism has assimilated to the predominant culture.” Although Gottlieb does not celebrate the Christmas holiday religiously, he said Christmas does raise people’s spirits.
CULTURE Nandita Sathees, a Hindu youth group teacher at an Indian cultural school in St. Louis, experienced holidays of various religions growing up in the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai, India. During her childhood in Mumbai, she attended midnight Mass on Christmas Eve to partake in the festivities. Upon arriving in the U.S., she picked up aspects of Christmas culture and borrowed a few traditions. These traditions included setting up a Christmas tree, a practice she was not aware of during her childhood. This year, Sathees set up a Christmas tree and reflected on memories of giving gifts to family. While celebrating Christmas, she has found ways to main-
eers at the Trevisano family home. The family dresses up as Christmas characters, Mart with them as they raise donations for the St. Patrick’s center. Recently, ABC’s Great med the exterior decorations. Photograph by Sophia Marciano
Russel Gottlieb, math teacher, poses in front of a menorah with his family for Hanukkah. At each night of eight, one of the candles is lit. The ninth candle is used to light them. Photograph by Janice Shenker
s navigate holiday season tain her own way of life as a Hindu. said. “Keep your customs and traditions alive, but at Kayley Lory, sophomore, practices Judaism but the same time, celebrate the happiness of others,” enjoys celebrating the cultural aspects of Christmas. Sathees said. Normally, her family celebrates by opening presTo understand the happiness of those who celeents and going out to dinner at an Asian restaurant. brate religiously, Sathees said she compares the birth Lory said Judaism permits the celebration of traof a Hindu god, Krishna, to the birth of Jesus. ditional or cultural aspects of Christmas. She said giving into commercialization is the “I don’t think the way people celebrate it is a bad responsibility of the individual as the stores have to thing because now it’s just gift giving and treating commercialize to further sales and pay employees. others with kindness,” Lory said. “I do see how it However, the gifting aspect of commercializacould be a bad thing because everything revolves tion, Sathees said, is a positive aspect of the holiday around it because of how popularized it is.” season. Lory said it is unfair that holidays of other reli“The buying of the gifts is so very thoughtful,” gions are not given days off for employees of restauSathees said. “There’s so much thought and love that rants. goes into it. So, I don’t know if I would call it comRev. Christopher Martin, pastor at St. Clare of mercialization.” Assisi Catholic Church, said if Christians devoted a The holiday festivities are different for Sophia fraction of the money spent on Christmas presents, it Marciano, junior, who is a practicing Catholic. She could potentially open up the possibility to give food celebrates the traditional and religious aspects of and water to everyone on the planet for one year. Christmas. “That would reflect Marciano attends Mass the true spirit of “There is always a natural good Christmas more than during the Advent season and on Christmas day, which to people gathering together and Black Friday sales or is followed by gift exchangthe latest PlayStation,” sharing joy and goodness. In this Martin said. es with family and friends. Advent is the season in He said in order regard, everyday should have a which many denominations to ease away from bit of the same spirit of Christmas of Christianity, including the popularization of in it.” Catholics, commemorate Christmas and bring and prepare for the nativity more joy in the season, of Christ. Marciano uses the would be REV. CHRISTOPHER MARTIN atomethod Christmas season to celeimagine what the PASTOR brate the birth of Jesus and holiday would be like her faith with her family. without materialistic “Not only has my family objects. always kept this holiday religious, but through the Martin said it is good that people gather together years, I have developed my own personal faith and to spread joy even if they are not gathering for reliwould celebrate it religiously regardless,” Marciano gious intent. said. “There is always a natural good to people gatherMarciano said her family has a different take on ing together and sharing joy and goodness,” Martin the culture of giving gifts. said. “In this regard, everyday should have a bit of the “While we believe we shouldn’t be greedy and same spirit of Christmas in it.” forget about the true meaning of Christmas, giving and receiving gifts are a big part in celebrating the joy and gratefulness of the holiday season,” Marciano
Annie Wagganer Assistant Professor of Sociology, St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley
HOW HAS CHRISTMAS BECOME COMMERCIALIZED? “Capitalist societies depend on commercialization where members of society see themselves primarily as consumers. Christmas rituals cannot escape their societal context. We make purchase after purchase during this time of year—not just for gift-giving, but for decorations, new outfits, traveling and special foods.”
WHAT ROLE DOES WESTERNIZATION PLAY IN CHRISTMAS? “Given we are a capitalist society with Chistianity as our dominant religion, and the nuclear family as our central place of belonging, it is not surprising our major holiday traditions are centered on consumption, family events and often Christian influence. We tend to attempt to minimize class conflict and inequality in the U.S., and our traditions around charity, volunteering, gift-giving and gratitude.”
TO WHAT EXTENT DO PEOPLE WANT TO BE ACCEPTED INTO A LARGE GROUP? DOES THIS RELATE TO THE ASSIMILATION PROCESS? “We want to be known and having bonds with others, is the human condition. The U.S. has a long history of forcing assimilation in order to gain resources such as education, employment, social inclusion and even safety within communities.”
Photo Illustration by Mason Kellerman
SEEING THE WORLD FROM A LENS Echo chambers on social media amplify students’ own beliefs stephanie LEI AS INFORMATION TRANSFERS CONTINUE TO SHIFT TO online options, technological advances are allowing social media users to consume content specifically tailored to their interests. Algorithms in social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat can distinguish a user’s likes and dislikes to recommend content the user will enjoy. For Srijana Akurati, sophomore, this feature makes spending time on social media more enjoyable, as the pictures she sees fit her interests. “When I am on social media like TikTok and Instagram, I have noticed that I always see a lot of skincare, dance and food videos,” Akurati said. “I enjoy seeing topics I understand and am passionate about on my social media feed, although it can make it even more addicting.” Akurati has been spending most of her time on Instagram and YouTube having just recently deleted TikTok after she felt addicted to it. Akurati said the dangers of social media expand beyond addiction and include a relatively new concept: echo chambers. Max Coady, junior, defines an echo chamber as “a community either that will repeat certain values or beliefs to members of the community where [certain values or beliefs] feel like normal.” Coady is primarily active on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and MySpace and recognizes the echo chamber he is in on his own social media, but actively strives to under the environment and its repercussions. “Most people are oblivious to their own cognizant bias,” Coady said. “Even many adults are not aware of it, but everyone needs to understand and recognize that their news is probably biased.” Srushti Bhoyar, junior, sees many of her own political beliefs and interests reflected in her social media and her account feeds. “On Instagram in particular, my recommended pictures and
videos reflect my ideals, but my social media stories have felt like an echo chamber,” Bhoyar said. “Oftentimes, I will see the same political post on many of my recommended stories because the people I follow share similar beliefs.” Bhoyar said she consumes social media with an open mind and continues to “break out of” her echo chamber. “I go on social media to learn new things, and I cannot always do that in an echo chamber,” Bhoyar said. “In an echo chamber, I feel as though I am missing out on so much social media has to offer.” Bhoyar said recognizing the outside of an echo chamber is especially important with political beliefs and factual information. “I just want to explore social media more, and I need to break out of my echo chamber to do that,” Bhoyar said. Katie Bauman, social studies teacher, says that an effect of living in an echo chamber is a narrow world view and the inability to recognize the complex nature and varying perspectives on contemporary events. “We tend to mute or silence other opinions that contradict our own,” Bauman said. “Signs that you are in an echo chamber is that you are constantly seeing news stories and content that you largely agree with or are non-threatening to your current world view.” Bauman said students today are more likely to recognize fake news or ignore it, although many students are still uninformed of the presence of an echo chamber. “The number one way to break free is to become an ‘active news seeker’,” Bauman said. Bauman said considering alternative viewpoints, although intimidating, is essential to civic discussion. She recommends students use the website All Sides to get information on stories from all areas of the political spectrum.
Teacher resides in historic 119-year-old house zara TOLA
SCOTT SZEVERY, SOCIAL studies teacher, wasn’t alive in 1904, yet he can describe one of the exact buildings featured in the St. Louis World’s Fair. The rooms, the windows, the walls, even a little bit of the history that he enjoys so much: Szevery knows it all. For Szevery, this building is what he calls home. The building was to be used in the 1903 World’s Fair, which was set to take place in St. Louis, but was postponed to 1904. Szevery said it served as a press building for the St. Louis World’s Fair, the largest World’s Fair in history, where newspaper reporters would file articles on the historic event. “There’s railroad tracks at the bottom of my street, and they actually took it off of a flatbed and then hauled it up the street in probably the end of 1904, and it’s been sitting here ever since,” Szevery said. Szevery has put money into maintaining the old structure of the building like the roofing or building a retaining wall. Currently, Szevery is repairing a tilted dormer on the roof that resulted from structural damage on the aging house. “That’s part of living in an old house: there’s things that you have to do,” Szevery said. Szevery also has maintained a little
secret door in basement
Scott Szevery, social studies teacher, reveals the secret door in his basement, one that he has never opened. The house, first involved in the 1901 World’s Fair in Buffalo, N.Y., and then the 1902 World’s Fair in Charleston, S.C., was initially a building used for the promotion of the upcoming St. Louis World’s Fair. Photographs by Cassie Sun and Jennifer Szevery
bit of the history in his renovations. The bright green color of the house is characteristic of the trends present in the early 1900s when it was built. “This is probably not as bright as some of the original painting choices would have been back in those days,” Szevery said. “This is a little muted because in modern times we don’t go crazy with lots of pastel brightness.” In his home office, his favorite part of the house, Szevery said there is a staircase with an ornate railing from the original house.
Szevery said in the basement of the house, there is a wall with a boarded up opening in the foundation in the shape of a door. “I don’t know what’s on the other side of that, and I’m a little scared to open that up,” Szevery said. “We’ve been here for 15 years, and I’ve never gone past that barrier, and I don’t know that I ever will.” Szevery has looked into the house’s past inhabitants and what happened to them at the time, and has found out some interesting things about the peo-
ple who had lived there. “Thinking about what was going on in the country at the time that somebody lived here is kind of interesting,” Szevery said. “I get really curious about connecting the personal history of the house with the larger history of the United States.” Yet, Szevery still admits, there’s a lot of history of the house he still has yet to explore and research. For the future, he hopes to discover more of the hidden history of his 119-year-old house.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
As the holiday season approaches, the Messenger found gifting ideas for friends and family.
Illustrations by Emmie Foley Photographs by Anika Talyan
1 Snow globe $10
Musical and holiday-themed, these glittery snow globes from Target are available in many different designs. Simply give them a shake and they're ready to be shown off.
2 Wreck this Journal: $10 The 224 pages of this book from Walmart are packed with colors and creative ways to destroy the pages. Challenges on each page encourage "wrecking" the journal.
3 Succulent: $5-$10
This hand-sized succulent from Target is a perfect plant for someone who wants a low-commitment plant that is easy to manage, affordable and appealing. It is recommended to water at least once a week during their growing phase. Although all succulents come in various shapes and sizes, this succulent comes in a small yet lovable size.
4 Mug: $10
Available in multiple sizes and colors from Target, these witty mugs display some quirky phrases including “Insert eye roll here” and “I’m not feeling very worky today.” These mugs are a must have for a cold tea, hot coffee and everything in between.
5 Versed Skincare: $15-$20
Found in a variety of stores including Target, Versed has a wide array of products that hydrate the user’s skin and make it glow. As many people are getting more and more interested in skincare products, these products provide the necessary baseline, making them perfect for anyone getting into skincare.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Blogging serves as ‘free therapy’ for students
SPRAWLED ON HER COUCH, Janvi Huria, senior, dazed off in sheer boredom. She questioned her activities, asking her friends and family what she could do to take up time. That is when she stumbled upon the art of blogging. Nine months later, “Janvi’s Introspective and Interesting Ideas” now garners an upward of 5,000 views. From blogging about gender diversity in the U.S. government to the science of well-being, Huria keeps an eye out for potential blog ideas from articles sent to her and from word of mouth. “I always enjoyed writing as a creative outlet, and I never thought of doing more with that,” Huria said. “Blogging has become a great way to research the things I am passionate about and express my thoughts on them.” Huria said blogging has given her the space to develop her writing skills and intrapersonal reflections, which she said are important during her college application process. Once the pandemic hit, Huria reflected that a lot of her interests before COVID relied on the presence of her friends and family. To safely keep herself occupied, blogging became one of her passions. “There is always a fear that people will judge your thoughts, but in the end, everyone is so preoccupied with
Janvi Huria, senior, writes about online learning’s racial and gender inequality and mental health factor for her upcoming blog post. Generally, Huria spends three hours researching a topic and about an hour writing and editing the post. Photograph by Janvi Huria
themselves,” Huria said. “You can’t miss out on that opportunity to explore your interests.” Sarah George, senior, also started recreational blogging last January, following her crowning as Miss St. Louis Outstanding Teen 2019-2021. George’s blog, “Warrior not a Worrier,” focuses on both global issues and personal issues to George. She has
written about topics from the European Union’s involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative to World Vitiligo Day. While blogging is a way to express her interests, George is a firm believer in using the platform to further advocacy conversations, not self-promotion. “When you have a platform, it is so easy to brag and not be humble,” George said. “I remind myself not to
think with that mentality.” The blog’s view count is under each post, but George said she doesn’t really focus on that. Both Huria and George echo a similar theme: they would write even if only a few people were reading. Since she has started blogging, George’s scope of how much she can do for others has widened. “Before I started writing, I thought I was doing too much,” George said. “Now, I realize that you can never do enough, especially in just a high school setting. You have to be exposed to the world past high school and there will always be something that needs discussion.” Rob Durham, language arts teacher, said writing is vital, even making his Creative Writing students blog for a completion grade. Creative writing students are assigned a blogging assignment on WordPress where they have to write two 250-word blogs per week. Some of Durham’s former students continue to blog on the site, and Durham still follows them. Durham blogged in his 20s, specifically on MySpace, Live Journal and eventually WordPress. To him, writing became a habit during that time and that is what he aims for his students. “It is extremely important, especially in your teenage years to have an outlet for writing,” Durham said. “It is free therapy.”
dec. 2020 7
Swim & dive begin season after win marin ELLINGTON
THE 2020-2021 SWIM SEASON MADE its tentative start in early December, but certain aspects of the season were missing. Coming off of their second consecutive State Championship, the girls swim and dive team was riding a high. After a successful season, athletes such as Theresa Santos, junior, were anticipating the excitement of the following season. However, COVID-19 led to many changes starting with the cancellation of the annual summer camp. Restrictions on large group gatherings have challenged the ability of the team to create a close bond with one another. “Last year we had the most team bonding we have ever had, and it brought our team closer than ever before,” Santos said. “A strong connection like that is very important for success, and the COVID restrictions really hold us back.” Swim and dive is required to wear masks at all times when not in the pool, including in the Weight Room, and to social distance in the pool. Tryouts took place the week of Nov. 16 in split groups of 20 in order to keep athletes separated. Santos said she felt completely safe. The first meet of the season was a 135-50 MHS victory Tuesday, Dec. 8, at Ladue. “Even though our connection might not be as strong as it could be if COVID
Carsyn Cosman, junior, takes advantage of the pool access to improve during practice Friday, Dec. 11. Cosman said limited access to pools last spring and summer challenged her. “I feel I am set back a little bit from last season,” Cosman said. Photograph by Marin Ellington
wasn’t a thing, I still know our athletic coaches do,” Schoedel said. “It’s not my ability will have the power to give us as usual style, but it’s what we all have to much success,” Santos said. “I’d rather do right now.” have the team be safe and healthy In previous years, the team had rather then sacrificing that for team pasta parties for team bonding as well bonding.” as time for playing games Joseph Schoedel, and sharing stories. Girls Swim & varsity swim and “Our team dynamic dive coach, takes his Dive placed 1st is what usually makes own precautions in us successful,” Schoedel at Marquette addition to the county said. “That will be requirements by having particularly difficult Relays for the the girls start at either without some of the 7th consecutive end of the pool, keeping outside team building year. the same girls in their that usually occurs, but lanes each day and only we have strong leaders having them stop at designated markers that will work hard to make the season when resting. as ‘normal’ as possible and continue Schoedel said he has been limiting our traditions in the coming years.” one-on-one interactions and has been Though many successful seniors addressing the team as a whole from have graduated, Schoedel said both the middle of the pool. the returning athletes and incoming “I’ve made adjustments just like all freshmen are proving to be strong.
Carsyn Cosman, junior, returned this season, and was not immune to the hiatus many athletes were forced to take this summer due to restrictions limiting pool access. “I plan on working out more outside of the pool to become stronger in the places I’m not as strong as I want to be,” Cosman said. “I feel I am set back a little bit from last season.” Although some of the larger events have been canceled or limited to reduced capacity, other meets are set to run as planned. “The coaches are doing a great job with adjusting to the new rules and are making sure we still get all the training we need,” Cosman said. The next meet will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 5, at Parkway South High School.
Basketball adapts to county restrictions
connor DEL CARMEN
MASKED PLAYERS, COACHES and referees. Socially-distanced benches. Disinfectant everywhere. Zero spectators. This is high school basketball in St. Louis County in 2020. “I’ll admit, it is weird to look out at empty stands,” Senior Meg Morrow, forward, said. “The atmosphere might be more sluggish for players who enjoy playing in front of a crowd, but overall, the focus is to play well, whether or not there are people watching.” Although the team is facing restrictions such as wearing masks while playing, Morrow said it’s still a level playing field. She said she’s willing to tolerate the rules because they’re for the safety of the public. While players are required by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health to wear face coverings for games in the county, the type of covering is chosen by the athlete. Morrow emphasized how wearing a mask properly during games isn’t for aesthetics. “I’m not wearing my mask for fun, and I think a lot of players don’t understand or choose to ignore that fact,” Morrow said. “I have never seen a referee say something to a player who is wearing their mask as a chin
Girls basketball follows the St. Louis County indoor sports regulations, forcing all athletes to wear a mask during practices. Reagan Burroughs, junior, wears a paper and foam mask, which is increasing in popularity around the team. Photograph by Connor Del Carmen
scarf, but I would hope that eventually becomes a common occurrence.” Although the team unites over a shared love of basketball, opinion on the face covering requirement varies by player. Junior Kennedy Kohl, shooting guard, said wearing a mask while playing should be a choice. “I think we’re already choosing to put ourselves in contact with other people and are willing to take the chance of getting COVID,” Kohl said. “So if we want to play right now, I think
we should be able to play normally without being hindered by masks.” While Kohl disagrees with the mask mandate while playing, she also said it has unintentionally helped give more players a chance to play. Because players have a harder time breathing with masks on, players tire more quickly and substitutions happen more frequently. Team members have attempted to combat fatigue brought on from wearing a mask by selectively choosing
what type they wear. The most popular are those made of foam and paper because they’re easier to breathe in and allow the athletes to play longer without getting as tired. Kohl also said the unique circumstances this year have given everyone on the team a role, even when they’re not on the floor. “Since there’s no spectators, we try our best to cheer for our teammates while on the bench to make them feel a little more amped up,” Kohl said. Timothy Bowdern, varsity basketball coach, said masks haven’t impacted competition as much as he initially thought they would. Bowdern mentioned he occasionally sees athletes lowering their face coverings to catch their breath, which is the opposite of the rules, but he understands it’s because players are trying to catch their breath. “I stay out of what kind of mask you should wear because I don’t think anyone knows the exact answer for what’s best,” Bowdern said. “No one has given us any advice on it, so I kind of stay away from it as long as they have one.” Going forward, Bowdern said he’s excited to focus more on the season ahead instead of COVID-19 issues.
Club athletes play with COVID-19 guidelines annie MCGINNIS
She said bonding with her teammates also has been challenged by the safety restricJACK FAVAZZA, FRESHMAN, tions because the team is unable dedicates seven days of his week to swimming for to huddle before a game or Parkway Swim Club, adding up to 13 hours of trainmake physical contact. ing per week. “Not being able to Athletes in a club sport dedicate a majority of high five is super weird,” Seeling their time to their practices, developing a passion for said. “I find myself constantly their routine. The addition of COVID-19 restrictions stopping myself before I on youth sports challenged their normal practice. reach for my teammates’ hands.” St. Louis County youth sports guidelines require Before COVID-19 affectindoor athletes to wear a mask, even during physical ed the structure of club sports, exertion, while outdoor athletes do not. Seeling said her club team Favazza said COVID-19 restrictions on his club provided a fun practice enviteam are fewer compared to the MHS swim team. ronment, free of worries about Like at MHS, his club team is required to wear sanitation and safety. masks on the pool deck. However, his club team “This year we condoesn’t limit the number of swimmers in the lanes stantly have COVID relike they do at MHS to help with contact tracing. strictions on our minds, and Favazza said he was not upset about the requireit’s harder to get back to that ment to wear masks because he knows they prevent carefree place,” Seeling said. the spread of COVID-19. Morgan Meador, sophHe said swim meets have lowered athlete attenomore, has spent the majority dance creating less time between events for him to of her life playing soccer for St. prepare. Louis Scott Gallagher (SLSG) “I miss having long breaks between my events,” since she was 6 years old. Favazza said. “Normally there are lots of swimmers Meador dedicates about five hours a week to her at meets, so it takes longer and gets you more rest in soccer training, which prepares her for up to two between events.” games during the weekend. Favazza also said there have been She said few COVID-19 restricbenefits to having fewer swim meets. “I find myself tions have been placed on her club He has taken advantage of the situaconstantly stopping team because soccer follows the tion by taking the longer periods of before I reach outdoor sports guidelines. Howtraining time to improve. ever, Meador must wear a mask “I’m still very dedicated,” Favazza for my teammates’ while warming up and during said. “In fact, quarantine just made hands.” times of non-physical activity. me want to swim more and get back Meador said she adjusted to in the water.” wearing a mask during her warm Quinn Seeling, junior, has played QUINN SEELING ups after initially being annoyed. with Parkway Lightning Volleyball JUNIOR “I am just glad that we have club for two years, but has played the opportunity to play normal club for seven years total. games,” Meador said. She practices a maximum of four She said her teammates make the most of bondhours per week before her volleyball competitions ing during their practices and games because of the start, but during competition season her practice COVID-19 restrictions against large group gatherings. time increases to 10 hours per week. Meador said she normally had breakfast and dinPlayers have to wear a mask during the entire ner with her teammates whenever they traveled for practice and game, which is difficult when they are competitions. constantly moving around on the court. In addition, Although COVID-19 safety guidelines affected her they have to sanitize anything they touch. sport, Meador said she is grateful to be able to continSeeling said wearing a mask affects communicaue to play after the period of time when youth sports tion between her teammates on the court. She has to were unable to take place. focus on speaking up louder to be heard. “I really didn’t know what to do with myself,” “It’s very important to communicate, but it’s even Meador said. “I have realized how much I love the more important now since masks cover our mouths, game.” and we use those a lot in games and practices,” Seeling said.
1. Last season, Quinn Seeling, junior, competed for Parkway Lightning volleyball club without the mask mandate. Photograph by Sean Zuber 2. Parkway Lightning teammates hug after a victory during practice last season, but this physical contact is not allowed this season due to COVID-19. Photograph by Matt Swan 3. Morgan Meador, sophomore, competes for St. Louis Scott Gallagher soccer club. Photograph by Steve Ole Oleson
SPORTS Fantasy sports ruin thrill of the game
connor DEL CARMEN WALKING UPSTAIRS TO JOIN THE Sunday family dinner, my eyes were wild with rage and my fists were clenched. “What’s wrong?” my mom asked. I bitterly responded, “My fantasy team lost this week,” to which my family began to chuckle, only aggravating me further. This is a story that resonates in thousands of homes across the country. More than 59 million people across the United States and Canada played fantasy sports in 2017, according to the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association. Fantasy leagues consist of owners who draft a team from a pool of all the players in a professional sport. These teams then compete against each other, and the games are scored using an algorithm to measure points based on individual player performance. Owners can trade, drop and pick up players throughout the season, giving a greater sense of control. In many leagues, there’s often a buy-in to participate, and this money is then given to the winner of the league. All of these aspects give sports fans a greater reason to watch. When money and self pride is on the line, people care. Fantasy sports can completely suck the enjoyment out of a game. The extra stress of having to manage a team can eat away time and one’s patience on a bad day. Owners find themselves rooting solely for the players on their fantasy team, with no care over the actual outcome of the game. This is seen at its most extreme when an owner’s fantasy player is matched up with the hometown team. These so-called fans often root for their fantasy players over the hometown team. Talk about a betrayal! Owners in fantasy leagues are often friends who enjoy sports and want to compete against each other. However, this can get out of hand when friends are at each other’s throats when negotiating trades for players or arguing whose team is better. I’ve actually seen people’s mental health deteriorate over fantasy sports. Type in a Google search for “Depression from fantasy sports” and more than a dozen articles and subreddits pop up discussing this issue. A couple of years ago, my friends and family began to notice a change in my behavior following a fantasy season where I won only one game. Thankfully, this situation showed me how trivial fantasy sports are, and this was one of the last fantasy leagues I participated in. Some may say I’m just a bitter owner. That may be true, but what I know now is I’m much happier and in the moment now when I watch sports than I was when I played fantasy.
Sophomore, Pranav Sriraman, member of the Sportology Club, waits outside of the Staples Center before an NBA Christmas day game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers last year Saturday, Dec. 25. This was one of the last professional sports games Sriraman attended before the rise of COVID-19 in the United States. Photograph by Sriraman Vasudevan
Sports fans find new way to bond connor DEL CARMEN
The Sportology club meets most Fridays on Zoom for half an hour to discuss sports news and their opinions.
AS THE MAJOR SPORTS SEASON cancellations began to drag on last spring and summer due to COVID-19, sports fans around the world felt the effects of withdrawal. Junior Supraneeth Yedem, president of the Sportol- said it would be inappropriate for him ogy Club, felt there was a void in his to jump in because many of them have life that could be filled by forming a actually taken time to research player new group. statistics and team trends before the “I was bored without any prodiscussion. fessional sports because of COVID,” Sansom enjoys how the friendliness Yedem said. “I was thinking about how of the club allows them to joke with once pro sports started, we could creeach other. He said members of the ate a club where that’s what we talked club give him a hard time for being a about and just have fun.” Detroit Lions fan because they haven’t Every Friday, the Sportology Club made the playoffs since 2016. Zooms to discuss the news of the day, “I wear a Lions sweatshirt a lot on upcoming matchups and interesting Fridays,” Sansom said. “Man, if you player transactions across the major want to get made fun of, just be a fan of sports. Their discussions aren’t overly the Lions.” structured aside from a basic list of Although it’s rare for all of the topics. members to completely agree on a topThe group also satisfies their comic, they’re all usually able to voice their petitive urges by playing in a fantasy opinions respectfully. football league together. In the future, Pranav Sriraman, sophomore, said Yedem said he hopes the club will the discussions usually get the most grow in size, so they can have more heated when the group compares two diverse discusplayers or tries to sions. “We just advise that if predict the outA.J. Sansom, of a Sunday you join, you are passion- come science teacher, football game. became the club’s ate. This is a good place to Sriraman said he sponsor when learn new things, become hopes the group Yedem contactalso starts discussmore knowledgeable and ing less popular ed him before the start of the express what you believe.” sports moving school year. forward such as “I had Supravolleyball and PRANAV SRIRAMAN cricket to attract neeth in class last year, and he’s alnew members to SOPHOMORE ways been a solid the group. person, so when Sriraman he asked I was all in,” Sansom said. added that people are welcome to join Even though Sansom is an avid regardless of their current knowledge sports fan, especially of the Nationlevel regarding sports. al Football League (NFL), he rarely “We just advise that if you join, you speaks up with his opinion during club are passionate because this is a good meetings. He said in a short 35-minplace to learn new things, become more ute time frame, he wants to make sure knowledgeable and express what you everyone has the chance to speak. He believe,” Sriraman said.
Pranav Sriraman, junior Lead NBA Analyst, The Wrightway Sports Network
HOW DID YOU GET INTO SPORTS WRITING? “I made connections with people who are in the sports industry in order to have guidance as you enter the field. I constantly promote my work on social media in order to gain a larger audience and to be discovered by a company. You have to make your audience care about what you have to say, there are many sports critics and writers out there, so what makes you different?”
WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR STORY IDEAS? “Story ideas are mainly derived from watching games or a team’s track record. I look for statistics that indicate what I want to display and research it so it isn’t misleading for my audience. Always make sure that when doing your research, you have no confirmation bias over a certain player or team and pay no attention to narratives created by others so that you can get the full story and truth from your perspective. Look for the flaws that you can debunk in their narratives if possible in order to give credible information to the audience.”