The Spoke October Issue 2020/2021

Page 1

Stormwater poses problems for T/E community

Effect of COVID-19 on Conestoga’s frontline employees

Page 2 Conestoga High School, Berwyn PA

Volume 70 No. 1

October 23, 2020

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Running Virtually: ’Stoga cross country hosts meets virtually this season

Page 12

Back in the Building

TESD implements a hybrid distance learning model for the 2020-21 school year

Hiba Samdani/The SPOKE

A push for change: The desks in Room 280 have been arranged to keep students six feet apart in accordance with social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control as the school opens its doors to students who opted in to hybrid schooling. The school district made sweeping changes to its curriculum and its buildings for the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Ananya Kulkarni and Sophia Pan Co-Editor-in-Chief and Co-Managing Editor It’s Aug. 31 and the school is silent, but the air is thick with a qui-

et sort of anticipation. As students begin filing into the building from the bus circle, parking lot and main lobby, the buzz of greetings and conversation quickly grows deafening. Soon enough, the familiar tone of the bell plays over the loudspeaker, prompting approximately 2,400 students to rush to their homerooms for the first day of school. This year, though, was a little different. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting Cen-

ters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, TESD reopened its doors with a hybrid distance learning model on Oct. 12. This model allows for the partial reinstatement of in-person learning and has students with last names A-K attending school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays and students with last names L-Z attending Thursdays and Fridays. All students attend school virtually on Wednesdays, which are split into a synchronous first half of the day

and an asynchronous learning environment for the second half. This change, though, is only one of many measures implemented this year in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. “I know the district has put together a great plan. We’ve put a lot of thought into this plan. We’ve put a lot of energy into providing the safest environment we possibly can for students returning,” Assistant Principal Dr. Anthony DiLella said. In a July 29 meeting, the school

board voted to implement a phased reopening plan beginning with all-virtual instruction in accordance with CDC guidelines. Over the summer, the district gave families a choice between electing to participate in a hybrid option, in which students would have classes in the building for two days a week, or to remain completely virtual. On Oct. 12, the district began a timeline of return, staggered by grade, for students that opted to attend in-person classes.

With roughly 30% of students remaining in a virtual learning environment according to DiLella and after a month of all students learning virtually, teachers have employed a variety of strategies to maintain student engagement from home. “Some things work better in person, so we had to figure out ways to modify lessons to make them more accessible and relatable in the online environment. While doing that, it is even more important

now to create and cultivate a sense of classroom community,” said social studies teacher Blake Stabert. “Much of my planning so far has been figuring out ways to help the students connect with one another and help them get to know me as their teacher. A big part of that is creating a classroom environment that isn’t bound by the physical space of the classroom, but defined by enthusiasm and joy of learning.” Continued on page 3.

Pennsylvanians move towards mail-in voting as Election Day approches Zakiyah Gazziuddin and Grace Kuryan News Editor and Staff Reporter

For the first time in recent American history, an unprecedented number of individuals will be given the opportunity to vote by mail in the 2020 presidential election. With concerns about following social distancing regulations and the potential transmission of COVID-19 at polling places, many Pennsylvanians are choosing to utilize mail-in voting. Mail-in voting isn’t a new process and has been used across the country in the past. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission reported a rise from 14.7 million absentee ballots cast in 2004 to 24.8 million in 2016, more than doubling the amount in 12 years. With Pennsylvania’s position as a swing state, coupled with this year’s tense political climate, mailin ballots could play a decisive role in determining who will be elected president of the United States. Junior Linc Zdancewicz, vice-president of Young Republicans believes Pennsylvania’s crucial role in this year’s election is further cause for voting in person.

“(Pennsylvania) could be very crucial to either candidate’s success, which is all the more reason for everybody to go out and vote in person. So we have more of a conclusive vote,” Zdancewicz said. “Because I feel like if we vote by mail, there will be a lot of recounts, especially in (Pennsylvania).” Fear surrounding transmission of the virus at traditional polling places is accompanied by concerns about the security and efficiency of no-excuse absentee ballots and whether or not the process may lead to heightened voter fraud. Senior Lena Pothier, co-president of New Voters, a nonpartisan organization that aims to register newly eligible voters, sees voting by mail as a secure option and believes many of the claims about voter fraud are unsupported. “If we can get prescriptions in the mail, if we can file our taxes by mail, there’s a lot that’s done by mail. And so I think the notion that voter fraud will occur by voting by mail is largely unfounded, as voter fraud is already very rare,” Pothier said. Zdancewicz believes that voting in person guarantees security at a level that mailin voting does not and is the most secure option in ensur-

Grace Kuryan/The SPOKE

A noteworthy election year: More than 3 million Pennsylvanian voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail for the 2020 presidential election according to Secretary of the Commonwealth, Kathy Boockvar. ing that votes will be counted. “There are a lot of claims going around, especially in my party, that there’s some voter fraud going on. It can happen, it has happened,” Zdancewicz said. “One of the biggest things with this: you don’t know whether your vote is

counted once it’s in there. A lot of ballots have been thrown out.” Although analysis by the Washington Post and the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) regarding mail-in voting found only 372 possible cases of voter fraud out of around

14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections (0.0025 %), there is still a lack of consensus amongst citizens regarding the topic due President Trump’s remarks surrounding mail-in voting during the first presidential debate and on Twitter.

Senior Katie Chuss, president of Young Democrats Club, considers mail-in ballots to be a substantial option considering the fact that the nation is still grappling with the pandemic. “I think it might make it easier for people to vote. I don’t think it really makes it harder as long as they’re willing to take an initiative to request their ballot and fill it out, which is about the same amount it would take to actually go to the polls on Election Day,” Chuss said. In Oct. 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 77, a bill that significantly altered election laws in Pennsylvania by creating an option for individuals to vote by mail without having to provide an excuse. The bill’s proved to be particularly important during the pandemic. By the 2020 Pennsylvania Primaries, nearly 1.5 million voters cast their votes by mail-in or absentee ballots according to the Department of State’s 2020 Primary Election Report. Pennsylvania previously required voters to provide a reason, such as having an illness or disability or being away from the municipality in which they reside on Election Day, to cast an absentee ballot. On Thursday, Sep. 17, Pennsylvania’s supreme court ruled that ballots postmarked on or before

Election Day will be counted so long as they’re received by Nov. 6. The tedious process of counting ballots has also led some to suspect that rather than having an election day, we might be in for an election week or longer. Zdancewicz predicts that the surge in mail-in ballots may also complicate the process of tallying votes. “It takes a long time for these ballots to get counted. I have my doubts. I think everyone has doubts that we’re going to know who the President is on election night,” Zdancewicz said. Pothier agrees, noting complications that arose in Pennsylvania’s primaries. “I think it’ll be frustrating on Election Day watching the results come in,” Pothier said. “You can see even from the primaries, it took Pennsylvania a long time to figure out some local elections, specifically Delaware County. I think it’s going to take a long time.” Pennsylvania residents who do plan to vote by mail should keep in mind that mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and placed in the secrecy envelope provided with the ballot to be counted. “Vote, because your vote would matter anywhere,” Pothier said, “but it matters so much in Pennsylvania.”




renovations complete at tredyffrin township building

Administrative staff returned to the renovated Tredyfrrin Township Building after spending a year at temporary offices on Cassatt Road. With social distancing regulations in place, meetings are continued to be held over Zoom and Microsoft Teams. tesd creates covid-19 dashboard to share information on reported cases within schools

TESD launched an online dashboard on the districts website to share information on reported cases of COVID-19 within schools. A table breaks down the total number of cases across the district, as well as the number of reported cases in each T/E school per day. Read more at


Community forms learning pods T/E LIFE

Stormwater poses problems for T/E community Chanelle Ongagna and Maya Shah Staff Reporters

In Tredyffrin/Easttown, there are many areas where storm water builds up due to ineffective systems of management. This has had major effects on residents’ lives through flooding damage done to houses, especially during intense storms. The main concerns are in regard to safety and possible damage done to private property. Damage – whether to property, yards, basements or structure – often has considerable ramifications. Due to climate change, Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships have seen more intensive rainfall over the past few years, resulting in an increase in damage affecting homes in a range of elevations. Pipes installed beneath yards, bridges and roads are corroding. Additionally, new developments in the township have caused erosion and weakened both bridges and streets. Junior Nicholas Rinderle faced this problem when a tree fell on his house as a result of an intense storm. This left a large hole in his house, forcing his family to move out in order to complete repairs. “I mean, when the tree fell on the house there was the question of like exposure, just because the house has opened up to the elements,” Rinderle said. While no one was injured from the accident, Rinderle recognizes that this was lucky and that the effects could have been more severe. “We were fortunate in our


Letter to my pre-quarantine self SPORTS

Update on sports scholarships

Conestoga atheles mask up

Courtesy Tredyffrin Township Stormwater Task Force

Flooded streets: A car tries driving through a massive build up of rainwater on T/E streets during a storm. The excess buildup of stormwater has caused great damage to infrastructure around the community, prompting citizens in the community to address the problem. house that nobody did get hurt,” stranded, and that can be life “That’s a problem,” said prevent buildup of rain and com- phy said. While the problem is still far Rinderle said. threatening,” Clarke said. Anne Murphy, a member of the bat erosion. As of right now, the Finding solutions has been stormwater task force. “I think township’s canopy is over 50%, from being fixed, the township Ray Clarke is a member of the Tredyffrin Township’s stormwater complicated by COVID-19. Al- the residents like to feel that which Murphy says is impressive. is on its way to making good However, she says this number progress. Murphy and Clarke say task force, which has been assigned though the task force has contin- their voices count.” An important solution the might change over time due to issues like this take time, engageto collect data on the topic and field ued to collect data from residents resident complaints. Clarke says he during the pandemic, COVID-19 task force is pursuing is the town- construction and external factors. ment and resources to fix. Howev“Townships have been losing er, they are optimistic about their has also seen some intense damage restrictions have kept them from ship’s tree coverage or canopy. In organizing big meetings for resi- Tredyffrin, trees are an effective about a half of a percent of their work and committed to eliminatas a result of storm water buildup. “If it’s in the road, it can get dents to voice their opinions and and natural solution to address [tree] canopy. So in 20 years it ing this problem and keeping resflooding and runoff because they could go from 50% to 40%,” Mur- idents safe. pretty deep and people can get complaints in person.

Finding funding: how clubs at ’Stoga are Breaking ground on finding creative ways to function expansion Nishka Avunoori and Aditi Dahagam

’Stoga 2020 club fair goes virtual

Staff Reporter and Co-Web Content Editor

The aroma of butter and sounds of bursting kernels filled the lobby as peer mediators served popcorn to long lines of students during their biweekly Popcorn Friday fundraiser. Popcorn Friday sponsored Peer Mediation’s major student body events such as Unity Fair and Cornucopia. Many club fundraisers like Popcorn Fridays and bake sales will not continue this year due to the pandemic, but clubs are finding creative funding options during distance and hybrid learning. Peer Mediation executive treasurer and senior Julia Lewandowski has been brainstorming ways that the club can fundraise virtually this year, including virtual cooking classes hosted by a local chef and virtual trivia night with paid entry and prizes. They are also planning a holiday house-decorating contest where participants’ house decor is judged and awarded. Lewandowski believes that her innovative and safe ideas will encourage students to engage in fundraising activities.

“Really thinking outside of the box and using these creative ideas might be very effective because it’s hard to get people involved in school and it’s going to be harder to get people involved outside of school,” Lewandowski said. Mock Trial uses funds raised

fundraise this year. Executive Board member Maya Rebholz believes that switching to a virtual platform will not affect the club’s primary goals. “(A lack of funding) doesn’t have any effect, though, on our preparation and excitement for the mock trial competition,”

Aditi Dahagam/The SPOKE

Senior and Peer Mediation executive treasurer Julia Lewandowski brainstorms fundraising ideas. She believes new ideas will bring clubs together and encourage students to participate in fundraising. from bake sales to participate Rebholz said. in the Pennsylvania Bar AssociLatino Culture Club donatation Mock Trial Competition. ed profits from churro sales Since the virtual competition to community organizations still requires a participation like ACLAMO in Norristown fee, the club plans to use prof- and held toy drives to beneits from previous years to cover fit a Puerto Rican community the cost and is devising ways to in previous years. Since these

We don’t just teaCh the tests. Jui Bhatia FLEXIBLE

Staff Reporter

As the T/E School District prepared to start school during been tutoring students the pandemic, some parents wor7 days a week ried that distance learning alone in various subjects and HELPING would not adequately provide standardized test prep the classic school experience. CONESTOGA WITH: for over 20 years. Our T/E Middle School mother of SAT/ACT/AP Exams two Monica Verma, has, along tutors are patient and with her husband and two other Study Habits make learning fun. families, started a learning pod to Academics Most importantly, we solve this issue. College Counseling A learning pod is a group instill confidence in our of students that attend virtual and application students by making school together at a venue, like a essays. parent’s home or an organization tough concepts easy to like the Y, while being supervised understand and apply. by a teacher hired by the organization or the parents themselves. Its main purpose is to provide an Ask about our monthly ACT and SAT environment where students can seminars engage with one another even during virtual learning. “The biggest consideration We don't just teach the tests. We take them too! was the social aspect of it,” Verma Our founder, Steve Odabashian, believes in staying said. “It was (about) how we make ahead of the changes. In the last two years, he sure that (our kids) have some social interaction again.” scored 1560 on the SAT and 35 on the ACT. In order to create a learning pod, parents must follow the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early ing’s requirements and pod safety guidelines. Registration processes 484-424-9893 are also detailed in the document. and Tutoring, we have

Group Discounts

events might not be able to continue, club adviser Sarah Taylor plans to focus on creating a sense of community within the club for now. “It’s really important for us to make donations to try to help organizations that we believe in, but I would say that (club funding) is not everything to the club, and we can still meet and have that cultural experience and share things without having money,” Taylor said. While some clubs are finding ways to fundraise outside of school, these plans are not concrete and may continue to change as students shift back to in-person learning. Ninth grade Assistant Principal and Activities Director Chandra Singh explains that the school may attempt to find new and safe methods for students to fundraise when they return. “If we go back to the building and we’re able to allow for there to be (fundraising events) that students can do, that can evolve, and the conversation can continue on how we can best support our clubs and students,” Singh said. Peer Mediation sponsor Marcia Mariani believes that despite the uncertainty surrounding club fundraising, club members’ common interests are enough to keep clubs going. “I’ve never seen a time when our student body didn’t give when they were called upon, so I think that if they believe in the cause and think it is important, they are going to come through. I think it’s an important concept that our community itself is a charitable community,” Mariani said. “The kids will figure it out. They will. They always find a way.”

Amna Faheem Staff Reporter

With at least 2,324 enrolled students taking over almost all the available space of Conestoga’s current campus, more space is needed to better accommodate the ever growing student body population. With a projected growth of 2,512 students by the year 2024, an expansion of the present campus is much needed. Now, with COVID-19 affecting certain aspects of the process and construction, such as obtaining required legal documents, receiving necessary materials and struggling to stay on schedule, the school is unable to proceeding as originally planned. Dr. Patrick Boyle, the senior class’ vice principal and the faculty member in charge of overseeing the construction process, noted that lockdown did help with getting certain aspects of the expansion done. “(The lockdown) allowed us to have access to the building for construction companies ahead of time,” Boyle said. However, the lockdown also hindered the expansion. For example, obtaining permits was an arduous task, as well as acquiring necessary materials for the construction process. “It also hurt us in certain aspects in the sense of getting some other things completed, whether it was access to getting permits completed because construction wasn’t allowed to happen until a certain point,” Boyle said. Because of the lockdown, many official and government buildings were closed for a few weeks, making it difficult to obtain the necessary documents needed to start construction.

Many construction companies were also shut down, proving to be another obstacle in bringing in required resources and materials. With hurricanes and wildfires affecting areas where the materials needed for construction are sourced, such as Texas and California, there was some delay in securing the mandatory materials for the construction. “We had materials supposed to come from Texas, but you know Texas was hit pretty hard this summer with several hurricanes,” said Boyle. “We did have some supplies that we needed to come from California, and then California got hit with wildfires.” Because of the many setbacks, Boyle stated that we are currently not on schedule. With many things being delayed or not available in the moment of need, it pushed the schedule back a few weeks. Many things inside the building itself, such as renovating the science labs and the FCS (Family Consumer Science) labs, are not completed. “We’re not on schedule right now,” Boyle said. “The perfect schedule would have been Oct. 17th, but we are still waiting for certain things to happen in the building.” Although the construction inside the building is taking time, it seems it has not affected the construction in the new wing of the building. “Right now, they are working on the actual tunnel that goes under the building for the utilities,” Boyle said. “Once that’s completed, they will start installing the steel beams which hopefully they will get up by November.” Boyle stated they are still on target and plan to open in time for the 2021-2022 school year.

Learning pods pop up around the district

We take them too! At Main Line Test Prep

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Upper Main Line YMCA (UMLY) offers other, pre-existing opportunities for children from kindergarten to sixth grade to participate in learning pods, or as they call it, Learning Centers. The Y has opened up all its amenities for learning pod students to use, and the program runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. “The advantage a (student) learning in our Learning Center (has, is getting) that social interaction of seeing their peers daily and learning in a classroom (along) with their classmates, not just virtually,” said Brian Ricich, Executive Director of UMLY. There are two types of learning pods: assisted and self-directed. Self-directed pods are akin to homeschooling, following a curriculum set by a hired teacher rather than a virtual schooling curriculum, while assisted learning pods involve the parents or organizers hiring a teacher or a learning facilitator who helps the children with the homework that they receive in virtual school rather than teaching them from an external curriculum. Most parents, including Verma, opt for assisted learning pods to supplement their children’s virtual schooling. “You need to have a very good supervisor. They have to be ma-

ture, and they have to keep control on all the situations,” Verma said. “They have to be good at conflict resolution.” Learning pods have had immense benefits during the months-long shutdown: children’s family members have been the only people in their lives, and the learning facilitator is someone new. Moreover, parents who are not working from home can benefit from arranging pods at an organization or at a friend’s house, especially if their kids are young. “It would be very beneficial

for younger kids because there’s not as much of a curriculum in elementary school,” said John Kerr, the father of a sixth grader at T/E Middle School who has also opted for learning pods this year. Anika Verma, daughter of Monica Verma and a sixth grader in an assisted learning pod, echoes the sentiment. “I have a very small group of friends, and a couple of them are in my pod, so it’s really nice (to get to) talk to them,” Anika Verma said. “If I were alone, I’d just be sitting around at my lunch break

Courtesy The Upper Main Line Y

Learning pods: A learning facilitator helps a student navigate online schooling at the UMLY’s Learning Center.

doing absolutely nothing, while with my friends, I can enjoy being with them, talking to them and doing fun things (with them).” Although learning pods can provide a fun and engaging experience, they also come with extra costs. The Y requires a payment of $215 per week and an extra $55 for after-school care, though it does offer financial assistance and sibling discounts. For those with a learning pod at home, these costs are mirrored in the fees for a learning facilitator. “We have to pay this learning facilitator for seven hours a day, five days a week. I usually would pay a babysitter a couple hours after school, but not that much that consistently,” said Jessica Lienert, the mother of a sixth grader at T/E Middle School who is part of an assisted learning pod. Nonetheless, Lienert has found learning pods to be a great choice. “I think (being in a learning pod) provides that idea of structure in this really tenuous world right now,” Lienert said. “We don’t know what the beginning will be or what the end will be. We only know that we’re in this kind of hamster wheel of coronavirus, so (learning pods are) something that’s a bit stable at least.”


Friday, October 23rd, 2020


TESD returns to a hybrid distance learning model Continued from page 1. As students have begun to adapt to the synchronous virtual learning environment, DiLella notes that the goal of the shift back to synchronous learning was to reinstate a sense of regularity in the school day. “When we were doing asynchronous in the spring, one of the things that I think kids struggled with was there wasn’t a schedule,” DiLella said. “I think it was really important to provide a level of normalcy for students, even though they were virtual so that they could get up every day and they could access school in an environment that was as close to as it was before the pandemic.” The shift to synchronous virtual learning brought with it a unique set of benefits and challenges for students. “I feel like the workload is less than it would be if it was real-life class, but it’s stressful to have to worry about everything, and like, if my computer shuts down or something, that’s stressful because it’s live classes so I’m actively missing something,” senior Ansh Goyal, who chose to remain virtual, said.

Block Scheduling One of the biggest changes this year has been the shift from the traditional eight-period schedule to an alternating block schedule, with students attending four periods a day. “One of the reasons we (shifted to block scheduling) is we didn’t want students bouncing around to eight periods in one day, having eight different teams links,” DiLella said. “We’re trying to limit a little bit of the screen time for kids.” Classes, which lasted 85 minutes each during all-virtual learning and last 81 minutes each during hybrid learning, rotate on an expanded 12-day cycle, with periods 1, 3, 5 and 7 taking place on garnet days and periods 2, 4, 6 and 8 taking place on gray days. The transition time between classes was lengthened to 12 minutes pre-hybrid learning and then shortened to 10 minutes for hybrid learning and 5 minutes for Wednesdays starting the week of Oct. 12.

grades on a yearly basis rather than a quartered marking period basis; the introduction of a 55% minimum that a student can receive on any assignment or assessment; and the removal of both midterm and final exams. “The idea there (with quarterless grading) is looking at the system to allow the system really to work on behalf of the students in its best regard and allow them the opportunity to show the growth of the grade over the period of time,” Assistant Principal Dr. Patrick Boyle said. According to DiLella, the district implemented the 55% assignment floor alongside quarterless grading to help alleviate stress for students. “That 55% is just kind of a pullover from what we had before. It’s trying not to put a student in such a hole that they can’t dig themselves out of,” DiLella said. “What’s the point of giving a student a zero in a marking period? What a zero says to a student is, ‘You’re never going to get out of this hole.’ A 55 at least says, ‘Okay, you didn’t do so well, but let’s keep going.’ I think it gives that student a little bit of a positive motivation to keep pushing forward because getting a low grade in a marking period can be extremely demoralizing to a kid.” DiLella notes a similar intention behind the removal of midterms and finals. “The question I’ve asked is, ‘Does that midterm accurately reflect the content knowledge that they’ve absorbed from that course?’ And I can tell you, in my experience, normally, the answer is no,” DiLella said. “We wanted to look at a system that we could put in place during this pandemic that pulls things from university and real world but also put students in the best position to succeed and says to us, yes, this student has a mastery of the content knowledge in this course, enough mastery to move on to the next level of this course the following year.” Though quarterless grading allows for a more complete picture of a student’s growth over the course of the year, it does not come without some drawbacks. Garimidi, for example, worries that the new grading system leaves his grades perpetually open to fluctuations due to a single low test score.

Abby Carella/The SPOKE

School six feet apart: Advanced Film students work on a socially distanced project together. They wear masks and sit 6 feet apart in the classroom. “The mentality of a reset every four months or like three months was just really nice because then, like, oh, it’s just one bad test, it’ll literally be gone in like two months, and then I can just work really hard to bring up my average,” Garimidi said, “but then now, that one bad test is stuck with me forever, and I feel like that will add more stress as we go on as grades are put in.”

Access to Materials Following the shutdown beginning March 13, administrators worked tirelessly to equip every student in the district with access to technology. “We work with the families, we work with the students, we work with the

providers to make sure our students do have access (in) those situations, and if we have information that a student is struggling with a particular situation, we have a full staff of people who work with the family, the students, and the providers of the internet or any kind of technology to make sure the student has access and the opportunity to use those devices and the internet as well,” Boyle said, “but I know our staff has worked very, very hard to make sure that there’s no one left behind and no one is feeling left out in any kind of situation whatsoever.” In order to combat inevitable technology issues that accompany a complete shift to a virtual environment, the district created a LAUNCH course

on Schoology with guidelines on how to navigate various school-employed websites and applications. The Tech Deck, Conestoga’s IT help desk, also moved online to the helpdesk. website, which allows students to file a help desk ticket if problems arise. As the beginning of the school year approached, the school set drop-off and pickup times for textbooks and other necessary school materials. In the week of Aug. 17, students dropped off books and materials from the previous school year at a given time staggered alphabetically by last name, with each day slotted for a specific grade. This routine was repeated in the week of Aug. 24 for the pickup of materials, including textbooks and takehome material kits for certain electives.

Hybrid Model Though Lara started taking high school classes back in August, she first set foot in the building on Oct. 15, only able to attend her freshman orientation well into the fall of her first year at ’Stoga. “It (my first day doing in-person school) was pretty good! It was definitely very different, but I feel it helped me focus a lot better than I can at home,” Lara said. “I am pretty excited (to be back) since I feel like it felt more like I was starting school than it actually did on the first day online.” All things considered, while this year may look a little different than usual, the Conestoga community is

working hard to bring back students safely and with the implementation of the hybrid learning model, hopefully, keep them in building as long it remains possible. “I like the idea of being part of a community that looks after each other and takes care of each other. This makes it so much more difficult,” Boyle said, “I just wish we weren’t in the situation we’re in right now so we could be back together in the school because Conestoga is a special place. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t feel that way. Many of us have been to other schools, and because of the students and the staff in this building, it makes it very special, and not having all the staff and students in here, it’s still special, but you don’t have that connection right now.”

Adapting to guidelines: A new look for school transportation Shreya Vaidhyanathan Staff Reporter

At the end of the school day, ’Stoga students rush from their last class to their bus or car, the hallways erupting in chatter. With masks and social distancing this year, though, the custom, along with transportation, looks different. In the hybrid model, students whose last names begin with the letters A-K attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays, while students with last names L-Z attend on Thursdays and Fridays. Though busing became available once the hybrid model began on Oct. 12, Conestoga encourages students to be driven to school, whether that be by parents or juniors and seniors driving themselves. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the transportation process, many simply look forward to being back at school. Sophomore Theo Simard is grateful for what the school is doing.

“I think they’re trying their best to get kids in school (and) trying to find a way to teach us properly while making sure everyone stays safe,” Simard said. As instructed by the Transportation Department, drivers are required to disinfect the bus after each run, and everyone riding must wear a mask. The reopening plans detail a maximum of two students per seat, potentially violating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines of staying six feet apart, but with the splitting of hybrid students, the buses will likely be at less than half capacity. Karen Henry, head of Conestoga’s Transportation Department, says that seat assignments are based on when students board the bus. Sophomore Adam Bernholdt, a Conestoga student who is taking the bus this year, says he would not be willing to sit next to someone else. Bernholdt cites the trust involved with sitting in an enclosed space with others for a prolonged period. “With everything going on, if I don’t know someone,

Abby Carella/The SPOKE

Transportation changes: Students head to buses after a day of in-person learning. Faculty stood outside to guide foot traffic and enforce social distancing rules. I don’t know where they’ve been, if they’ve been around anyone with (COVID-19), or

if they could be (asymptomatic) and are a carrier,” Bernholdt said.

Parking supervisor and assistant principal Patrick Boyle said that the school is

Maybe the SAT and ACT will just go away?? No, no, that’s just wishful thinking, you’re still going to have to take it. Many schools that are “test optional” this year won’t be next year. So time to start thinking about a plan for getting really, really good at it, even if you really, really hate standardized tests. Find out more at

not expecting a large congregation of students in any one location after school because

everyone is going to their cars or buses immediately. Boyle predicts an influx of students being picked up and dropped off, adding to already long lines in the morning. As a result, Boyle says they will be granted more leniency when lines are backed up while maintaining that students should be present when class begins. Another transportation change accompanying this school year is the addition of junior parking. The school is aiming for around 300 student drivers each day. With virtual students and splitting hybrid attendees by last name, Boyle is confident the high school will accommodate everyone. Junior Caitlin Campbell is one of many who has made good use of her new parking privileges. “Busing is definitely necessary for those that cannot get transportation otherwise, and granting privileges to more seniors and juniors will definitely help,” Campbell said. “They are all great steps for the school district.”


Friday, October 23, 2020

Taking on technology: teachers adjust to new classroom environment that don’t always feel comfortable having their cameras on in Staff Reporter and Co-T/E Life Editor class,” Short said. “And I think attaching a face to a voice is so important, particularly in With the complications that “There was always technolo- an English classroom, where it arise from beginning school in gy available to us even in per- tends to be a little more guided the midst of a pandemic, teach- son, but there wasn’t as much by discussion and interaction ers have had to prepare for a need to implement it. So while and less by content strictly.” Despite these technolocompletely new classroom en- I had dabbled in Nearpod, I vironment. From district-led certainly am using it now. I’ve gies, teaching in both virtual training initiatives throughout also learned Mentimeter be- and socially distant settings the summer to experimenting cause I really like word clouds comes with limitations. Teachwith new online programs, to get things started. In normal ers have adjusted the way they teachers have worked hard to school, I would be able to say, deliver the curriculum and the ensure a smooth transition into ‘What are your ideas on Colum- way they communicate with the synchronous virtual model. bus?’ And here, I can just throw their students. “I’ve tried to utilize SchoolAccording to chemistry teacher it into a word cloud,” Gardner Leah Roberts, one of the more said. “And, I can actually im- ogy discussion boards,” World challenging aspects of pre- port a video into WeVideo and History teacher Aaron Lockard paring for the school year was embed it into Schoology. These said. “Sometimes I might say, the initial ambiguity regarding are words that weren’t even in ‘throw an emoji up in the chat and tell me how you felt about what the year would be like. my lexicon before August.” “It definitely was a tricky Flipgrid, a video discus- last week’s class’ or ‘give me a summer preparing-wise be- sion website, and Padlet, a thumbs up if you’re on the same cause nobody really knew what virtual “bulletin” board, are page as me’ after I give them a the fall was going to look like. other technology platforms set of directions.” Creating opporMost teachers tunities for student that I talked to to student interacwere working tion has also been through the complicated due to whole summer the inability for the trying to figure whole class to be out what they physically together. could plan for However, teachers and prepare for have utilized differevery possibilent features of the ity,” Roberts Microsoft Teams said. “It was a app to ensure that lot of figuring out logistically History teacher this element of school is not lost. how we could “(The Microsoft Teams make this the best experience that teachers are using this for you guys and still try to give year. Both facilitate student channels) have been absolutethe same experience we would interaction and discussion as ly crucial to the work I have have given in a normal year.” well as help to better foster a done so far. I think being able A new environment calls for classroom setting. According to get into smaller rooms with new methods of teaching, and to American Voices and Lit- just a couple people is a lot teachers have made the most of erature teacher Richard Short, less intimidating and I’ve been the technology offered to them. Flipgrid recreates the social keeping my small groups the U.S. History and Government connections that are often lost same so that people are getting to know one another and gain teacher Merri Gardner, for ex- in the virtual environment. ample, has implemented differ“(Flipgrid allows) students some comfort with one anothent forms of technology to cre- to have an opportunity to er,” Short said. Additionally, the newly-imate a more engaging classroom speak, but also to be heard. And setting despite the restrictions have students be able to see one plemented block scheduling of the hybrid model. another, even maybe students has necessitated not only screen

Kate Emmanuel and Katherine Lee

There was always technology available to us even in person, but there wasn’t as much need to implement it. Merri Gardner

Courtesy Merri Gardner

Tech-savvy: History teacher Merri Gardner prepares materials for her class on Microsoft OneNote, an online note-taking program. With the virtual start of the school year, teachers used technology to better foster a classroom setting and engage students. breaks during class time, but also a reconsideration of the way each 85-minute class block is structured. “I’m using the same methods (to teach as before), but I have to use them in different chunks of time and different pairings than maybe I would have in previous years. Especially in the 85 minutes because chemistry is a lot of a direct instruction class, but obviously, I don’t want to just lecture at

my students for 85 minutes because that would be terrible for me and for them. So it’s a lot of thinking about how you can do it in smaller pieces and change it up,” Roberts said. Assessments have also been altered to fit the virtual classroom. Teachers have given online quizzes on Schoology, as well as quizzes that can be printed, completed, scanned then uploaded. Others, like Gardner, have

chosen to administer more writing-based assessments. “I haven’t given (a test or a quiz). What I’ve done instead is a lot of open-ended questions. When I give the students open-ended questions, it does two things. One, it makes them write, which we all need to be better writers. And it also makes it authentic. And so, we’re going to be doing a lot more writing,” Gardner said.

A piece of advice that Lockard has for fellow teachers is to be open to change during these challenging times. “Be patient. Remain flexible,” Lockard said. “Accept that this isn’t an ideal situation for anybody, but if everyone does their part and does the best that they can and accepts that not everything is always going to go perfectly, then we’re going to feel better about this when things return to normal.”

Effect of COVID-19 on Conestoga’s frontline employees Hiba Samdani

Photography Editor From deep cleaning the building to making lunches for families upon request, school employees have been busy despite the school closure. Similar to teachers and students, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers have had to acclimate to a completely different work environment. As Conestoga begins hybrid learning, the school support staff becomes the building’s frontline employees to ensure that students can learn in a safe environment. When schools closed in the spring, the school custodians played a crucial role in supporting the community. Not only did they return to

clean the building, but they also performed other maintenance jobs. These included regular checks on the school’s boilers and examining the buildings for any leaks during the storms in the summer. In addition, they patrolled the school grounds and painted the athletic fields. With students and teachers now in the building, the custodians are working to ensure that the student body remains safe from COVID-19. They frequently wipe down high-touch areas such as doorknobs, handrails and sink handles, as well as practice social distancing and adhere to all safety guidelines. In June, they received a 90-minute training course detailing how to sanitize the school, including a refresher on the most effective ways to clean.

“When (COVID-19) affects your work, you want the people who are in charge of cleaning those areas to have the knowledge in the background, and any questions that they may have, answered,” said Andrew Dougherty, head of custodians. Just like the custodians, the cafeteria staff is essential to providing a socially distant and safe lunch to the students. They deliver lunches to the students in their individual classrooms. According to David Preston, the T/E School District’s Food Service Supervisor, students are required to order lunch in the morning to ensure that the staff has enough time to prepare their meals. In the cafeteria, workers wear shields, masks and gloves, and there are frequent reminders to practice

social distancing in the kitchen. These include posters and tape measures along the floor that are six feet apart. “All staff have been provided (with) both masks and shields, and we have always practiced frequent hand washing and glove use,” Preston said. “I’m sure some have concerns - those that are more concerned can play a positive role to remind others to maintain distance and follow safety protocols.” Although the custodians and cafeteria workers were able to work despite schools remaining closed, bus drivers did not share the same experience. The school’s bus drivers are not employed by the T/E School District, but instead by different companies, one of them being On the Go Kids.

During the closure, some drivers were paid a base wage until the end of the school year, while others were furloughed. According to Philip Micken, Director of Operations at On the Go Kids, the district agreed to pay partial compensation in the spring, and they are working to reach an agreement for the 2020-2021 school year. Bus Driver Maureen Mack was one of the furloughed bus drivers, but feels lucky that her husband was still able to work full-time. “In the beginning it was frightening because it hit and everything was so abrupt. Everything had just seemed to stop. Luckily for us, we were not financially impacted, although I know a lot of drivers were,” Mack said.

While drivers transport students, they are required to follow safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Before and after each run, the drivers must

“I’m not afraid. On the Go Kids provided us with all the cleaning instruments and education we need,” Mack said. “I love driving. I absolutely love it. I feel good because some of the kids we drive are so challenged and we are able to provide a nice, safe, happy environment for them on the way to school.” In spite of the challenges faced with COVID-19, all of Conestoga’s employees are trying to make the best out of the situation they are in. “I think most of them feel a good Bus driver sense of being back in the building,” said wipe down the surfaces to Assistant Principal Patrick disinfect the bus. In addi- Boyle, who also helps overtion, On the Go Kids uses a see the custodians. “I think, spray mechanism to clean the like teachers, like administrabus. With these precautions tors, we like the idea of being in place, Mack feels safe and around people and about stuready to come back and con- dents too. That’s what we got. tinue to work. That’s what we’re here for.”

In the beginning it was frightening because it hit and everything was so abrupt. Everything had just seemed to stop.

Maureen Mack

Courtesy Ardis Yocum

Hiba Samdani/The SPOKE

On-the-go driver: Bus driver Maureen Mack gets ready to drive her daily routes for the day. Mack was furloughed last spring after the start of the pandemic, but she has returned to work this school year.

Ready to roll: Buses are lined up in the parking lot ready for their morning run. Safety protocols, such as wiping down surfaces and using spray mechanisms, were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID- 19.

T/E Life

Friday, October 23, 2020


One Book One ’Stoga Sally Murphy Staff Reporter

This year, every ’Stoga student read the same book over the summer as part of the One Book One ’Stoga program. The switch to the One Book One ’Stoga program happened this year because of the great opportunity to unite the student body by having a common read. The program hasn’t been implemented very often because of the lack of timely books that would appeal to all grade levels. Tricia Ebarvia, chair of the English department, knew that picking a proper book was going to be a challenge. “You’re never going to find a book that captures 100% of people,” Ebarvia said. “People are different.” The English Department considered other possible titles, but selected “Patron Saints of Nothing” by Randy Ribay because it fit a variety of needs. The novel follows the story of Jay, a Filipino-American high school senior, who goes to the Philippines after the death of his cousin to both experience parts of his heritage and solve the mystery of his cousin’s death. Ebarvia wanted to choose a book that would appeal to a broad range of students. “Teachers were looking for something that would have appealed to the most number of students,” Ebarvia said. “I think we were looking for something that could be accessible, that students could read on their own without too much teacher support, (and) that they could come back to the school year and then discuss.” According to Ebarvia, the English Department tried the One Book One ’Stoga summer reading program about ten years ago. This is a unique year to bring the program back, but the benefits of the program could last beyond distance learning. The perks of exploring the concepts of identity and representation also motivated the English Department to select “Patron Saints of Nothing.” “I think (the English Department was) looking for something that could speak to

the many different and diverse experiences students are having right now or in the past,” Ebarvia said. Students throughout ’Stoga have had both unique and shared experiences in the past that enable them to connect with “Patron Saints of Nothing.” This includes junior Ledya Baci, who explained that both of her parents are immigrants. “(“Patron Saints of Nothing”) did not deal with the

throughout ’Stoga. English teacher Nicole Zakorchemny focused on media literacy in her classes regarding One Book One ’Stoga. “We were talking in class about the media literacy part, so I think the themes of identity and media literacy and representation that were explored in the book were really great,” Zakorchemny said. The future of the program for the coming years isn’t ex-

Teachers were looking for some-

thing that would have appealed to the most number of students.

Teacher Feature : Rebecca Aichele Courtesy Rebecca Aichele

All about addition: Math teacher Rebecca Aichele sits at her desk, holding up two of the textbooks she uses for her classes. Aichele started teaching at Conestoga in 2011.

Brooke Vallin Staff Reporter

Algebra I and Math Analysis teacher Rebecca Aichele knew she wanted to teach math from a young age. Growing up with her father, a math teacher, she was always learning something new about the subject. Aichele was intrigued by the different math problems he would show her. She and her brothers would follow along at the dinner table as their dad presented them with a new problem to solve. She was amazed that they could all get the same answer despite using different numbers. As a former Conestoga student, Aichele was also heavily influenced by her teachers, such as Seth Shore, who she had for math analysis.

“I remember every single day I would walk in and he (Shore) was so happy to be there,” Aichele said. “He always had a smile on his face, he was always excited about the material, he would always do anything to help any of us answer any questions, meet after school, and I really felt

Aichele went on to college at Pennsylvania State University. Aichele taught at Garnet Valley High School for two years before returning to Conestoga to teach in 2011. She finds a new experience every year even though she’s teaching the same material. “There’s such an excite-

perspective separates her from other teachers, because she can easily relate and understand her students. Distance learning provides Aichele with a new, but exciting challenge. Experimenting with different technologies and resources online, she is able to find new ways to help her students learn. Outside of school, Aichele enjoys spending time outdoors. “If I’m not in the classroom, I don’t like being inside. I love to just get outside,” Aichele said. Every week, Aichele runs 30miles. Along Math Teacher 35 with her three sons, she loves ment in every single class and family, baseball, basketball every single year. That just and nature walks. makes teaching the best job,” She is also a huge country Aichele said. music fan. Aichele loves teaching be“You could often find me cause of the students. She during the summer under feels like she can connect with a big cowboy hat at maybe them because she was once in a country music concert or their exact shoes. This unique two,” Aichele said.

There’s such an excitement in every sin-

gle class and every single year. That just makes teaching the best job. Rebecca Aichele like, wow, here’s someone who loves his job, and I know I would love doing that too.” By her junior year of high school, when she needed to start thinking about her future, she realized she wanted to become a teacher. After graduating from Conestoga,

Tricia Ebarvia

English department chair direct issue of immigration, it included another voice,” Baci said. “I think that other students might relate to (Jay) because he lost someone, and drugs are a very big problem, so they definitely could relate on the question of identity.” Discussions about “Patron Saints of Nothing” were held in all of the English classes

actly clear, however, there is a strong probability that it will return at some point. “We are looking forward to holding another One Book One ’Stoga at any time, depending on the titles that we think can engage the entire student body,” Ebarvia said. “This decision will be made on a year-to-year basis by the English Department.”

Aditi Dahagam/The SPOKE

Reading together: “Patron Saints of Nothing” by Randy Ribay tells the story of a Filipino-American teenager’s journey to understand his cousin’s death. The book was assigned to all students to read over the summer for the One Book One ’Stoga program.

Student-run nonprofit sells handmade jewelry for Yemen Abby Carella

Multimedia Editor Neatly wrapping up a pair of handmade earrings with fabric and placing them into a box embellished with hearts and drawings has become part of junior Ainsley Payne’s daily routine. She

tops off the package with a personalized note, including a “P.S. PLEASE RECYCLE THIS” message in big letters, and then heads to the closest USPS drop-off box to send the package to its new owner. In June of this year, Payne and her friends founded their own nonprofit, Girls Inc. For Yemen in which they create jewelry to raise money for the

humanitarian crisis going on in the country. Payne describes the crisis as a mix of many factors, including the Yemeni Civil War (which the country has been fighting since 2014), wildfires, poverty and COVID-19. When Payne began seeing efforts to help with the pandemic, she noticed not many were directly aiding Yemen, and was inspired to start the company.

“Yemen is having the worst humanitarian crisis in the past 100 years, and I had not seen anything about it anywhere. I was like, I have to do something, I feel kind of useless,” Payne said. Payne, along with fellow juniors Sydney Canedo, Ally Howell, Sammy Goldman and Bella Spinazzola, has worked non-stop for the last

Abby Carella/The SPOKE

Made with care: Girls Inc. For Yemen delivers packages to its customers in decorated boxes with a personalized note. The nonprofit has sold handmade jewelry, such as earrings, to raise money for Yemen.

several months creating different types of jewelry to sell. Payne is often responsible for the brand’s signature handdrawn polystyrene earrings while Howell works on mini paintings. Spinazzola makes necklaces using resin while Canedo works on some pieces using crystals and gems for a future release. “I have always liked art but have never had the time to do it,” Payne said. “So over quarantine, I finally had time to work on it, and it has been really chill and a way for me to just escape. I will just put on ‘Criminal Minds’ and work for hours now.” When making the earrings, Payne usually starts with her own drawing or uses a Google stock image that she will trace with Sharpie. She hole punches the top of the design, adds watercolor, Sharpies again, adds white highlights and then bakes the product. She finishes off the earrings with jump rings, fish eye hooks and a layer of Mod Podge, which acts as a protective sealant for the product. Their customer base is made up primarily of what Canedo describes as hippie teenagers. To reach these teenagers, Girls Inc. utilizes platforms such as Instagram and TikTok where they hold giveaways and make new-product reveal videos. Junior Lilly Shui, Girls Inc.’s first bulk purchaser, loves the company’s mission. “I really liked what they were doing by donating the

Abby Carella/The SPOKE

A good cause: Junior Ainsley Payne wears jewelry she has made for her nonprofit, Girls Inc. For Yemen. Payne started the company in June as a response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. proceeds to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and I just really like the earrings. So, you know, it was kind of a win-win situation for me,” Shui said. The girls have raised almost $700 since starting a few months back. They decided to send the money directly to Direct Relief ’s Yemen sector, a choice made after discovering that most charities only

donate 60% of their funds whereas Direct Relief donates about 90%. Direct Relief then uses these funds for general humanitarian needs such as food and housing. Girls Inc.’s goal is to attain $1,100 in sales by January and $2,500 by April. They plan to expand their inventory, release more products and grow their presence on social media.

T/E Life


Friday, October 23, 2020

New Teachers Umar Samdani and Kate Phillips Co-T/E Life Editor and Staff Reporter Rachel Downing

Derek Bosworth

Rachel Downing’s inspiration to teach Spanish stemmed from her interest in Hispanic culture. “I grew up in a bicultural household, and so there’s always been this sense of being Latina. I find a lot of fun in the language and the food,” Downing said. “I want to give students a passion of learning about other cultures.” When it comes to entertainment, Downing likes listening to songs from Broadway musicals. She especially loves the “Hamilton” soundtrack. She also listens to classical music, Latino music and opera.

Before coming to ’Stoga, Derek Bosworth went to Elizabethtown College and spent the summer working at Amazon in the warehouse. Currently, Bosworth teaches Honors and Accelerated Biology. Outside of teaching, Bosworth enjoys playing board games, especially improvisation-based “Snake Oil.” He also plays a variety of video games, ranging from multiplayer battle arena “League of Legends” to the suspense-filled “Among Us.” One of Bosworth’s hobbies is building computers. In his house alone, he has built four separate computers. When he is not building PCs or playing video games, Bosworth likes to take his 7-month-old puppy, Meeko, out on walks. He has even used his dog in a couple of his biology lessons. “I did the characteristics of life (lesson), and I could use Meeko to come on camera with me. We could talk about the characteristics of living things,” Bosworth said. “I actually got my students to show and tell their pets, and I even got a couple of hermit crabs.”

Downing makes sure that the shows she watches on TV are light-hearted. She also watches romantic comedies. “I’m more of the kind of person who likes to put something on and not have to think. That’s why I really like ‘Parks and Rec’ and ‘Community,’” Downing said.

Courtesy Rachel Downing

David Rubert

Annmarie Winfield

As an alumnus, David Rubert is happy to be back at Conestoga. Currently, he teaches Geometry and Algebra 2.

Annmarie Winfield has been worked at Conestoga for seven years. Previously, she taught at the math achievement center and grew a love for both teaching and Conestoga. Currently, she teaches Algebra 2.

Rupert was planning to be a theater major at Penn State. However, he decided he wanted to become a teacher, and went to get his teaching degree at West Chester University.

Besides math, Winfield also has a love for concert bands. In high school, she was very involved in the marching band. Afterward, she even toured with a band around Europe.

Besides theatre, Rubert also enjoys biking. He rode from Philadelphia all the way to Atlantic City in “The Ben to the Shore Bike Tour.” During quarantine, his time was filled with riding his bike, playing video games, and spending time with his family.

Winfield says she is trying to take the pandemic “one day at a time,” but is looking forward to teaching and connecting with her students. “I just ask [students] some silly questions. I ask them about their pets. I ask them about anything that’s not related to math,” Winfield said. “I had a nice conversation today with a student who loves football, so now, every Sunday, I can pay attention to his team, and on Monday we can talk about something and build a connection.”

When he is teaching, Rubert enjoys helping his students. He wants to make sure all of his students feel safe and happy in the classroom.

Courtesy Annmarie Winfield Courtesy Rachel Downing

I hope that people come to my class and feel comfortable,” Rubert said. “I just want people to come to my class and not be scared to be there - even if they didn’t do a homework assignment.”

Nicole Zakorchemny

Christopher Brown

Before coming to Conestoga, Nicole Zakorchemny was teaching at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, which ran entirely on an online platform.

Christopher Brown teaches Honors Literary Foundations and Accelerated American Voices at Conestoga. Outside of teaching, he likes bowling, playing the card game “Spades” and cooking for his family.

“I think I strangely had a very smooth experience coming into Conestoga,” Zakorchemny said. “I was kind of used to teaching online.”

Courtesy David Rubert Courtesy Rachel Downing

On a typical weekend, Brown enjoys going to brunch with friends, reading books and watching Netflix. He also plays the board game “Taboo.”

Zakorchemny’s favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. Aside from reading, she enjoys baking apple pies and riding horses.

Over quarantine, Brown had fun video chatting with his family and cooking more often. He also started writing a book of poetry.

“Even though riding is an individual sport, it’s all about the connection with the horse,” Zakorchemny said. “Growing up with horses taught me to be confident and be calm. It’s like my weekly therapy.” Zakorchemny enjoys playing “Bananagrams” and listening to indie-pop music. She also likes to eat in restaurants around Philadelphia. Her favorite restaurant is Saté Kumpar, which serves Malaysian specialties.

Courtesy Derek Bosworth

Courtesy Nicole Zakorchemny

Courtesy Rachel Downing

“My book of poetry is a form of liberation for me,” Brown said. “I decided to write a book of poetry to have a voice and speak my mind on the different things that are going on in society right now.” Brown is also interested in sports. He is an avid San Antonio Spurs fan and enjoys watching tennis. In fact, he attends the U.S. Open every year.

Courtesy Christopher Brown Courtesy Rachel Downing

T/E Life

Friday, October 23, 2020


Marching Band adapts to socially-distanced practice

Staying safe: Junior Julien Riviere the band since August.

Ben Shapiro and Ben Reed Staff Reporters

Putting on her special mask with a slit that allows her to play her instrument, junior clarinet leader Ella Canas steps out of her car and walks to her designated spot in the parking lot to warm up. As a member of Conestoga’s Marching Band, this routine isn’t unusual for her. In fact, she has been following this practice routine for two months. Tuning her clarinet as she prepares for the 2.5 hour practice, nothing seems out of the ordinary - except for the fact that the band is practicing in the middle of a global pandemic.

unchanged in some aspects, other parts of the marching band have altered in light of recent events. Band camp, an intensive two week training period in Aug. for all members of the marching band, started off virtually this year for the first few days before going in person starting Aug. 20. Christopher Nation, the director of the Marching Band, held the few virtual meetings in order to cover safety guidelines before holding in-person practices. “We had an hour long meeting going over guidelines because if we were going to do this (in person practices), we have to follow the rules perfectly. Everyone had to socially distance; no exceptions,” said senior color guard member Kate Buck. Practices have also been altered in order to ensure the safety of its members. According to Buck, while the marching band naturally socially distances, it has taken the extra step to separate different Courtesy Jack Susanin stands wearing a mask and holding his trumpet. Riviere has practiced with band groups. The woodwinds practice in the parking lot, brass in the field by the baseball diamond and color guard While following the differ- school year,” Canas said. “I’m in Teamer field. Even while ent guidelines in place, Cones- really thankful that we have focusing on socially distancing toga’s marching band — one of been able to do this because to stay safe, the marching band the largest student organiza- so many things have had to be is also making sure that evtions at ’Stoga — is managing canceled. The teachers have eryone is enjoying themselves and having a good time. “We do a (warm-up) where we open up our arms and just scream because we can... We are just trying to remind people that we know this is stressful; just relax and have fun,” Buck said. With all Senior Drum Major of the hindering factors that to keep its members safe as it put in so much work and have have been put in place this continues to hold practices and gone to so many meetings to year due to COVID-19, senior run as normal as possible. be able to figure this out, and drum major Jaden Douglas ex“It’s honestly the most nor- they’ve done a really good job.” plained that the participation mal thing that I’ve done all While practices have remained of current members, as well as

the boldness that new members have put forth, is incredible. He commended the new freshmen who joined the marching band this year and appreciates all of the effort they have put forth. “I’m impressed with the number of freshmen that came... It’s difficult for (the freshmen). They’re getting used to a new school in the middle of a pandemic, and joining a huge organization where they don’t know anyone. Props to them for putting themselves out there,” Douglas said. Freshman alto saxophone player Cooper Ballard explained that he is glad that he put himself out there and became a member of the marching band. “On the first day (of band camp), I was definitely really

nervous, but once I got there, it was much more chill and relaxed than what I thought,” Ballard said. “The marching band is very well organized with the coronavirus and I’m having a lot of fun. I’m doing it (the marching band) with my friend and it’s really fun just to play with him because it’s been so long without any interactions.” Canas explained that because of the members’ hard work and active participation, the marching band has been able to flourish this year. While the ability to compete is still up in the air, the marching band is continuing to practice while adhering to the CDC guidelines. “I honestly think that we’re doing pretty well; it seems like we’re all taking it seriously.

We’re all wearing our masks and we fill out our symptoms review sheet before we come to rehearsal. There have not been any major incidents, so that’s pretty impressive,” Canas said. Appreciative of the marching band’s advisers and their drive to keep the marching band alive, Canas expressed that without any issues, the marching band has been able to stay active for more than two months at this point. “I am very thankful for the marching band staff… (Marching band) is a nice break from seeing everyone virtually, so I really appreciate (the marching band staff ) for taking the time to make sure it’s safe, yet we’re able to have fun,” Canas said.

I’m impressed with the number of freshmen that came. It’s difficult for (the freshmen). They’re getting used to a new school in the middle of a pandemic, and joining a huge organization where they don’t know anyone. Props to them for putting themselves out there.

Jaden Douglas

Courtesy Jack Susanin

Playing prudently: Conestoga’s Marching Band flutists practice as they maintain social distancing and wear masks in the parking lot. The band practiced, socially distanced, for nearly 2 and a half hours.

Juniors start Sunrise Movement chapter in middle of dark times Abbie Preston Staff Reporter

In May 2019, during the midst of the global pandemic, juniors Lilly Shui and Aishi Debroy started the Berwyn Sunrise Movement chapter. The Sunrise Movement is a national organization that fights for an urgency for climate change. Sunrise Berwyn is a local branch of this national movement. Their mission is to elect leaders into office that stand with the Green New Deal, an elaborate congressional plan to resolve climate change. According to Shui, Sunrise Berwyn is different from other environmental clubs. “Sunrise is different because not only are we focused

on issues in our area, but also climate change on a national level. We are just one hub of many and we all work together to achieve our goals,” Shui said. In Sunrise Berwyn, each member is assigned to a specific category, where they complete specific tasks in a certain department. Each of these categories are led by one person who oversees the activities of all people in the department. For

example, Shui is the core trainer. She meets with new members of the club and evaluates what their interests are. She gives them a job that best fits their interests. Some other jobs include core recruitment, core

At this time Sunrise Berwyn is focused on electing leaders into the legislature that support the Green New Deal and other environmentally friendly legislation. They are currently helping

hosting and attending phone banks in the area. Phone banking is a method of reaching out to voters through the phone and making sure that they have all the resources that they need.


It’s important for young people to be involved because we must fight for our future. We have a voice and we should use it. Lilly Shui Sunrise Movement

communications, core finance organizer and hub coordinator.

State Representative Danielle Friel Otten win re-election by

Aishi Debroy/The Spoke

Virtual meeting: Junior Lilly Shui joins members from various chapters to discuss club affairs. The Sunrise Movement planned to organize large protests for the future.

The Electoral Lead for Sunrise Berwyn, junior Clara Steege, is the main coordinator of phone banking events and works with Pennsylvania representatives. Steege explains what it’s like to phone bank. “It can be frustrating sometimes when there are people who don’t share the same beliefs that I do, or in my opinion are ignoring things that I see to be very big problems, or may be rude to people that are calling them; but there are people who are very kind and willing to help out. Those people definitely make up for it,” Steege said. Sunrise Berwyn is mainly composed of high school students. Shui recognizes that it is important for youth to be involved in climate change. “It’s important for young people to be involved because we must fight for our future. Climate change is real and a serious issue and if we don’t act now, the effects will become irreversible. We have a voice and we should use it to fight for our futures,” Shui said. Another significant part of the Sunrise Movement is social media. As Core Communications leader, senior Willow Freeman posts infographics on various social media websites

Courtesy Sunrise Movement

Sunrise Movement: The Sunrise Movement is an organization that raises awareness for climate change. The Berwyn chapter has been meeting since May 2020. such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. According to Freeman, social media is an important resource for Sunrise. “It is so important to have social media cover what we are doing because it allows a global audience to see our mission. If there was no social media, a lot of people would not be able to see the importance and urgency of climate change,” Freeman said.

Steege explains why taking charge through Sunrise Berwyn is important to her. She wants to continue to help those in need. “We have a responsibility to act for our own futures and for young people who might be more marginalized than us. We have so many privileges and we should use those to speak up for those who can’t,” Steege said.


Friday, October 23, 2020

The Spoke’s editorial policy for 2020-2021 Each school year, the editorial board of The Spoke presents the policy that will guide the paper’s direction. We hope to be as transparent as possible as we continue to cover the T/E community. Our mission The Spoke serves as a public forum for student expression. We strive to objectively cover stories of interest within our school and community. We understand our responsibility to report in an unbiased and ethical manner. The Spoke staff aims to include a diverse range of issues and voices within the paper. While some of the stories within the pages of The Spoke may be considered controversial, our reporters work to investigate the issues with care, precision and impartiality. The Spoke follows the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. Publication Dates The Spoke releases seven issues a year in October, November, December, February, March, May and June. The paper is printed by School Paper Express and copies can be found in the school on publication days,

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ministration does not see the paper before it is printed and cannot censor content unless it is obscene, libelous or would

Charity Xu/The SPOKE

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cause a substantial disruption to school activities. Advisers serve as educators and consultants only, leaving the editorial board with decisions on how content will be treated. With all stories, the editorial board considers the journalistic and ethical implications of publishing them.

Online Presence is a student-run and student-owned website; no district employees are consulted on the content and coverage of Spoke,news or any of its social media platforms. Content decisions are made by the editorial board, specifically our web editors. Social media platforms include and The Spoke’s Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook accounts. Your Voice This year’s editorial board hopes to include more voices from our school and community. To contribute to The Spoke, contact our editorial board at We also welcome letters to the editor with commentary on or concerns about coverage. A letter to the editor addressing content in a Spoke issue may be published in the next issue. Advertising Businesses can support The Spoke by buying advertisements in the paper or sponsoring features like Commitment Corner or Teacher Feature. We reserve the right to reject, edit or cancel any advertisement at any time.

Katherine Zhang/The SPOKE

From the editor: We need Work Well Wednesdays

Politicians: set personal agendas aside, leave the seat open

Devon Rocke Opinion Editor

The announcement came just 38 days before Election Day. President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In his rush to fill the seat, Trump defied presidential history, as no first term president has ever selected a Supreme Court nominee so close to Election Day. In March 2016, former President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin

Scalia but was quickly shut down by Republican senators who believed that Obama’s nomination was too close to the election. Two of the strongest opponents of Garland’s 2016 nomination included current Senate Majority Leader and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Back in 2016, McConnell had no issue rejecting Obama’s nomination, claiming that the Senate needed far more than eight months prior to an election to consider a nominee. Now, with a Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell is in full support of filling Ginsburg’s seat. Hypocrisy and partisan politics at their finest. Even Graham is going back on his word — literally. “I want you to use my words against me,” Graham challenged after Scalia’s death. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs

in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.” Well, there you have it. Despite his refusal to support a nomination four years ago under similar circumstances, Graham now finds it convenient to abandon his 2016 promise. Though Graham’s departure from his previous point of view is within guidance of the Constitution, this is nothing more than a desperate grab for greater partisan power. We have to remember that appointing a justice is not a trivial matter: since Supreme Court justices serve for life, appointing one will affect the way America runs for decades to come. A conservative justice like Barrett, who has commented in the past about repealing the Roe v.

ocratic candidate Joe Biden is elected. Power would no longer align with conservative beliefs, but with more liberal ones, so having the number of conservative judges greatly outweigh the number of liberal ones would just be poor representation on behalf of the public. However, this could just as easily make conservatives feel unheard. After years of conservatives outweighing them, liberals could tip the scales just as much and cause unrest. We should not avoid the topic of Ginsburg’s open position forever, but we should wait until after Election Day to make a decision. For once, McConnell and Graham — among othSophia Pan/The SPOKE er selfish politicians — need to set their own Moreover, appointing a justice this close to an election agendas aside and honor what will simply negate the voices of is best for our country right the American public if Dem- now: an intermission. Wade case that helped pave the way for abortion and birth control in 1973, could potentially set place restrictions on clinics as well as question late-term abortions. This could unravel 50 years of progress on behalf of women’s rights.

What the Black Lives Matter movement is really like

om students, the communityMiller Jeremiah

Guest Columnist

Hello, my name is Jeremiah Miller, a Black 12th grader who attends a predominantly white school on the Main Line of Philadelphia named Conestoga submitted toHigh Editors-in-Chief Kulkarni Black School.Ananya Naturally, Claire Miller Lives and Allison Ferriola. movements are Matter nothing new to me, and by now, shouldn’t be new to any of you of The Spoke editorial board, not necessarily reading this. But while I have ty or advertisers. opinions expressed in to give the The opportunity, I’d like ssarily the opinion The Spoke.look inside what you aofpersonal it’s like for a Black student living Main Line, clarifying the vertisements.on Email purpose of the protests as well as its benefits, and leaving you with advice about how you could make positive change yourself. I didn’t grow up in the Main Line, I actually moved into the area from a predominantly Black

area. I never knew what it was was rough for me. If anything, it like to feel like an outsider be- hardened me, it made me more cause of my skin color. When I dependent on friends and allies first went to school, I felt ner- in my corner, and it made me revous, lonely and sometimes even alize that I wasn’t living the same small because I didn’t see any- kind of life as a white student one else like me. It wasn’t all bad ever would. Eventually I learned though. I had to learn and adapt to overcome, and thankfully I’m a lot because moving into a white doing great things in life today, school and white neighborhood but the work continues. You should know what it’s was a big culture shock for me. It only got worse as I got older. @thespoke In high school, I began exp e r i e n c i n@thespoke g microaggressions and /thespoke real racism for the first time. People would blathe_spoke tantly ask me for the “N-word” pass, ask what like participating in a protest. the hood/ghetto was like, and Well, it may or may not be they would try to reduce any- actly what you think. I mean thing I’d accomplish in school to that to say 90% of the time, it the fact that I am Black. I even won’t be like the violent or cradealt with public incidents of fel- zy protests you see on TV. I relow students saying the n-word cently organized one locally, and in school and on social media. it was nothing like the few bad School life on the Main Line ones you might have seen on the

news. It was completely peaceful, most participants brought masks and sanitizers, no businesses were damaged, and it was successful in its mission of bringing the community together. My life will forever be changed by it. When I’m out in my community I’ll know that a lot of the people who live here have seen me and heard me. That comes with

a great feeling of security and comfort, and that’s something I wish for everyone to experience. The actual reasons behind protests are much simpler than what you might’ve been told. The Black Lives Matter protests that you have been hearing about are in protest of police brutality and


Editors-in-Chief: Ananya Kulkarni, Hyunjin Lee Managing Editors: Sophia Pan, Reese Wang News Editor: Zakiyah Gaziuddin T/E Life Editors: Katherine Lee, Umar Samdani Opinion Editor: Devon Rocke Sports Editor: Alexis Costas Assistant Sports Editor: Akshita Joshi Photography Editor: Hiba Samdani Multimedia Editor: Abby Carella Business Manager: Andrew Fessick Webmaster: Evan Lu Web Content Managers: Aishi Debroy, Aditi Dahagam

Co-Editor-in Chief Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you didn’t think you could handle everything? Have these feelings been worsened by the pandemic? As a senior, I have experienced these feelings countless times. With the pandemic, the college applications process and academics in general, which already are difficult, have become even more nebulous and anxiety-inducing. And I know that I am not alone. According to a recent study published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19 among young adults have elevated considerably. In fact, anxiety and depressive symptoms were reported by 40.9% of all research participants. This is why I believe we need Work Well Wednesdays back. Although the new hybrid-model school schedule, with both synchronous and asynchronous time slots on Wednesdays, will offer students some free time, it is not enough. The fact is, students are still being given new material, information and assignments. But with Work Well Wednesdays, we will be able to use the day to catch up on work, rest, practice self-care or spend more time with family and friends. And I believe that this just might help mitigate the increased anxiety a

Katherine Zhang/The SPOKE

The Spoke is published seven times a year ay School Paper Express. It consistently receives a Gold rating from PSPA and CSPA, and is a National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker award-winning publication. The Spoke serves as a public forum for student exoresssion


excessive force that lead to unlawful deaths of Black civilians. The movement is not just Black people crying for government aid. It’s not about Black employment discrimination. It’s not even about the large wealth gap between Black and white people in America. To clarify, Blacks in America are protesting for legal action against police brutality. In more ways than one, these protests do more good than harm for everyone, regardless of race. They bring the community together. The people in your community will feel more secure and encouraged to interact with one Charity Xu/The SPOKE another if they are all at a protest for the same reasons. They teach the youth how to peacefully and positively exercise their rights to protest. These protests can show even national unity when done right, as we’ve seen this past summer. Those are just a few examples of how protest can spark positive change.

Hyunjin Lee

lot of us are feeling. Besides, with everything online now, school can feel more overwhelming than usual. Even if the pace of schoolwork may be the same, or slower, than before the pandemic, the lack of continuity as a result of block scheduling and the excessive screen time can make school feel a lot more stressful. And having an entire Wednesday off can relieve some of this stress. Research by Jason Nagata from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, reveals that students’ recent excessive screen times are associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors too. For example, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, increased sedentary time and unhealthy snacking. If anything else, Work Well Wednesdays would also allow students for more time off-screen. Work Well Wednesdays don’t just benefit students they can benefit the school district too. There may be a financial advantage of decreasing school weeks to four days. A research article published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education cites a report by the Education Commission of the States which found that a four-day school week could cut the budget by 2.5%. Although an immediate reimplementation of Work Well Wednesdays sure would be nice, I realize that it isn’t probable, with the entire school year more or less already planned out. While I am thankful that Wednesdays now are somewhat reminiscent of Work Well Wednesdays during the pandemic, I firmly believe that bringing them back will improve our mental health. And hey, with the craziness of 2020, the addition of Work Well Wednesday might not be just wishful thinking.

, Cartoonists: Leon Li, Sophia Pan, John Phillips, Yuting Pu, Charity Xu, Katherine Zhang Staff Reporters: Nishka Avunoori, Abby Bagby, Anika Basu, Jui Bhatia, Johanna Duda, Kate Emmanuel, Amna Faheem, Melissa Fan, Andrew Franceski, Julia Harris, Omkar Katkade, Brooke Kennedy, Grace Kuryan, Sally Murphy, Chanelle Ongagna, Kate Phillips, Trey Phillips, Abbie Preston, Val Pucci, Ben Reed, Tashikaa Senthilkumar, Maya Shah, Ben Shapiro, Becky Tang, Michael Tierney, Cosmo Thompson, Shreya Vaidyanathan, Brooke Vallin, Mindy Wang, Ruijia Yang, George Zhang Faculty Advisers: Alison Ferriola, Cyndi Crothers-Hyatt, Claire Miller

Non-staff contributions: Non-staff contributions from students, the community, graduates or other interested parties are welcome. Editors will decide which contributions are publiched based on space and relevance to the community. All contributions must conform to journalistic practices, including accuracy, timeliness, purpose and writing conventions. The Spoke reserves the right to work with the contributor to meet these standards. All outside contributions are bylined. @thespoke @thespoke

Letters to the editor: Letters to the editor may be submitted to Editors-in-Chief Ananya Kulkarni and Hyunjin Lee, or advisers Cyndi Crothers-Hyattt, Claire Miller and Allison Ferriola. Editorials: Unsigned editorials represent the views of The Spoke editorial board, not necessarily those of the administration, student body, community or advertisers. The opinions expressed in signed columns are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinion of The Spoke. Paid advertisements: The Spoke accepts paid advertisements. Email

/thespoke the_spoke

Friday, October 23, 2020



Biden versus Trump: a brief look at the candidates

Joe Biden was at the Georgetown AMC when he noticed a homeless man shivering on the street. Instead of ignoring the situation and walking ahead, Biden stopped and asked how the man was doing. A bystander took a photo of the interaction, noting that Biden maintained a high moral standard even when the cameras were not watching. The heartwarming moment shows that the true test of character is defined by what people do when the media is away. Character is maintaining composure when faced with adversity. Most importantly, character is fighting for what is right, not just what is easy. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Americans will vote for the presidential candidate of their choice. Depending on their opinions on various economic, political and social issues, U.S. citizens will choose one of two candidates: Donald Trump, a member of the GOP (the Republican Party) and current president of the United States, or Joe Biden, former vice president, current nominee of the Democratic party. Each politician’s respective running mate — Mike Pence and Kamala Harris — also have a plan of their own that they want to accomplish. Before making a decision, however, it is important for responsible voters to be informed about how the candidates’ policies differ so they can understand how national issues will affect them and the T/E community. Education, a valued pillar

of T/E lifestyle, will suffer once again under Donald Trump’s presidency. In 2018, the current president cut $8.5 billion in the education sector, leading to elimination of more than 29 national educational programs meant to help children with special needs and low-income students. Where does all the money extracted from education go? Well, the president attempted to invest the money and spur productivity in the manufacturing and raw materials industry. The only people benefiting from this transaction, however, were big industrialists. According to, the coal industry has only accelerated in its decline. In fact, it has lost almost one thousand jobs since Trump became president. Biden has a clear plan to reinvest money back into the education sector. His presidency will call on Congress to provide billions of dollars worth of resources for school districts to safely reopen during the pandemic. The ramifications for this initiative go beyond the education sector. Sending children back to school will allow parents to go back to work, thus paving the way to reopen the economy. Biden also plans to fund public colleges for families that make fewer than $125,000 and supports the idea of universal kindergarten. The two candidates also differ on their views on gun control. According to, a conservative news outlet, Trump, a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, declared firearms “critical

infrastructure,” thus allowing distributors to stay open during the pandemic. Biden plans to renew a federal assault weapons ban and implement policies that require background checks on every gun purchase. Yes, Biden’s plan will make it more selective for American citizens to obtain a firearm - a natural born right, some would argue - but is this really a question of personal liberty? Or should we ask ourselves whether our teachers, students, and parents absolutely need guns to feel safe and comfortable? Finally, one of the most pressing issues that each candidate will have to face is the COVID-19 pandemic. During the past six months, the Trump administration has done more harm than good, often lying to the press to calm the public. On February 19, Trump declared in a press conference that the virus would wither come April, as the warm weather would weaken it. Even in October, the school continues to follow a predominately online model, so this claim does not hold substance. Trump also proclaimed that coronavirus deaths were steadily decreasing and the situation was under control, but as of now, more than 212,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and 7.58 million citizens are infected. To top it all off, the current president has tried to hide this information from the public. We don’t need a president who hides information from us; we need a president who tells the truth.

Due to the rising number of cases, the Biden campaign feels that the crisis is being mishandled. As president, Biden plans

housing market crash. Opponents would argue that some of the economic issues regarding COVID-19 may not have

John Phillips/The SPOKE

to issue a national mandate requiring everyone to wear masks, wants the country to adopt nationwide testing and promises to provide federal funding to make this feasible. After all, the Democratic candidate has experience in times of crisis - he oversaw the 2009 economic recovery after the

as adverse an effect on the T/E community; in fact, according to, fewer than 2 percent of the T/E population has been infected. In the near future, we foresee ourselves resuming a normal school life. Some of these issues may not affect us directly, but what about our neighbors in

Philadelphia? What about the fact that because of COVID-19, Philly schools are in $1 billion debt and are forced to make major spending cuts. While we complain about 90-minute block scheduling, more than half of students in Philadelphia don’t have the resources to participate in online school. If this isn’t enough to convince you, then look at Donald Trump’s tax policy: students living in Philadelphia won’t be learning for a long time. If funds aren’t redirected, and if taxes remain the same, then students in Philly will have to wait until after COVID-19 to fulfill their education. Aside from the policies, character should be the deciding factor on the day of the election. Just look at how each candidate endorses themselves: in his Democratic nomination acceptance speech, Biden focused on depicting himself as a kind, empathetic family man. At the Republican national convention on Aug. 24, Trump centered his speech on the qualities that Biden lacks. As the world changes each day, voters should vote not as individuals, but as communities. Biden’s policies will support the T/E community economically, socially, and culturally. More importantly, his character shines brighter than his opponent’s, and he is willing to take on any challenges America may face. Biden wants to be president of all people, not just the select few. This election, vote for a leader who unites the American people, not sows the seeds of division.

The Spoke Editorial Board voted 13-1 in favor of this editorial with one person abstaining.

- Paige Stamatas,

- Tess Nielsen,




+ Highlight of the debate, least problematic - Took away from the fact that Pence said systemic racism doesn’t exist


Chadwick Boseman Death

+ He brought us groundbreaking hits like Black Panther and 42 - The loss of a truly amazing actor


Microsoft Teams + All of my classes are in one place - Daily tech issues

+ I mean, we got to see how Biden and Trump react to each other


- Could you please stop talking over each other?


Online School

+ Everything I need is in one place

Q: How do you feel about block scheduling? “I find it harder to maintain attention during block schedules because the classes are a lot longer (and) I get bored in the class quicker because it’s the same topic for a long time.”


Fly on Mike Pence’s Head

Presidential Debate

“It makes all the days feel longer because all of the classes are longer. I don’t like it very much.”

“It feels the same, but with technology and stuff, so much could go wrong. Like your computer could not work and then you come into class late and you don’t know what to do.”

Report Card

“I really like the old scheduling method better because the schedule wouldn’t change day to day. Plus because the periods are long (so) it’s really easy to lose concentration.”

- Mehul Tomar,

- Alex Benedict,


Among Us



- I’m camera shy and have the attention span of a goldfish

+ Space Mafia with friends - Is it just me or is red sus?

Why I will not be going back to school this fall

Evan Lu

Webmaster When the threat of the coronavirus crept into campuses in March, it sparked a seismic shift in the way schools operate. Following government and public health guidelines, the TESD shut down schools, sending students home for distance learning. At the time, I welcomed what seemed to be a short break from the stress that often accompanies school. As time went on, I began to recognize the harsh reality of prolonged online schooling - from the scarcity of online resources in some districts to the serious implications on mental health. By the time Conestoga reopened on Oct.

12, the importance of returning to the classroom through some form of a hybrid model was clearer than ever. However, I still haven’t gone back and will not be going back in the foreseeable future. While I haven’t yet returned to school, I do understand that schools are fundamental institutions in our society. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, school is an important bulwark against food insecurity, physical inactivity, physical and sexual abuse, substance use, depression and suicidal ideation. Furthermore, schools teach students valuable academic skills and facilitate social interaction. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning emphasizes that social interaction at school fosters the development of “language, communication, social, emotional and interpersonal skills” that are used by students for the rest of their lives. It is evident that the reopening of schools is essential for some. Nevertheless, for me and many of my peers, it is not yet time to return to in-person learning. This is because reopening

Leon Li/The SPOKE

schools still raises several safety concerns. I’m skeptical of the feasibility of enforcing face masks, especially among younger students. If adults complain about masks and struggle to wear them consistently on short trips to the supermarket, how can we expect

elementary students to wear them throughout a seven-hour school day? Coming from personal experience as a former elementary school student and as a brother of a current fourth-grader, I wouldn’t even be surprised to see kids exchanging masks at school

like they’re trading baseball cards. Even worse, a survey by the EdWeek Research Center shows that just 36% of schools are even requiring mask-wearing among students. It doesn’t help that enrollment at T/E schools is higher than ever, creating worries that proper

social distancing protocols will not be followed and that allowing students to return to the physical classroom may pose serious risks to students and the community. As fall - and the cold and flu season - approaches around the country, an analysis by the Washington Post found that 27 states across the nation have experienced increases in the seven-day average of newly confirmed cases since the final week of August. Reopening schools now, while the pandemic is still at large, could cause a deadly increase in new cases regardless of the benefits of in-person learning. Accordingly, the best solution is to reopen schools while making it clear that students should continue distance learning unless a lack of in-person learning poses a serious risk to a student’s access to educational, physical or mental well-being. Although returning to school is necessary for some, those who can stay at home should do so to protect their own health and the health of others. For instance, special education students or those that depend on school for reliable meals may need

to return to school. On the other hand, unnecessarily returning to school puts vulnerable students and faculty with autoimmune disorders and underlying conditions at risk. Additionally, since I live with my parents, younger sister and grandparents, I worry about possibly spreading the virus to my family. For me, the importance of safety outweighs the benefits of in-person learning. For students that must return, schools should ensure their access to a complete education while prioritizing safety by implementing strict face mask mandates and enforcing social distancing guidelines. Equally important are safety measures such as mandatory temperature checks, hand-washing, the careful monitoring of confirmed cases and contact tracing. Rain or shine, deadly pandemic or not, schools have a duty to not only deliver an effective education, but to provide a safe environment for students to interact, communicate and develop essential skills. As such, reopening our schools is an uncomfortable necessity. But for now, I’ll still be at home.

Charity Xu/The SPOKE


Friday, October 23, 2020


Virtual miles: ’Stoga cross country starts off year with virtual meets George Zhang Staff Reporter

Conestoga’s cross country team competed in its first virtual meet, the Oakbourne Virtual Mile hosted by Henderson High School, on Sept. 9. To ensure that all the runners are safe from COVID-19 and to give them something to compete for, schools in Chester County have created “virtual meets” like the Oakbourne Virtual Mile. Virtual meets involve a school “hosting” a meet and inviting other schools to participate on their separate tracks. The participating schools use cameras to record their runners on the specified distance. Placement is determined by comparing runners’ times with those of other schools. The Conestoga cross country team has competed in two virtual meets, with the first one being hosted by Henderson High School and the second one being hosted by Downingtown West. According to cross country coach

Courtesy Richard Hawkins

Post race pose: The ‘Stoga Boys cross country team stops and takes a picture after their race at the Oakbourne Virtual Mile race on September 9th. With the limited amount of runners, the team was able to have their own virtual meets at Conestoga.

Richard Hawkins, virtual meets give runners a chance to compete and prove themselves to recruiters. “We have athletes that liter-

ally trained all year long. For them to not have any competitions was devastating, so we wanted to create something for them to compete in be-

cause they want to compete. Also, we have upperclassmen that are vying for running at college, and they need times to give recruiters to show their

progress,” Hawkins said. The Conestoga cross country team took various safety measures, such as following the safety guidelines of

the Chester County Health Department by running in groups of ten or less, to ensure none of the runners contracted COVID-19 at the virtual meets.. Runners at the two virtual meets that Conestoga’s cross country team participated in competed on a school track instead of running on a trail with different terrain such as dirt, grass, hills and sharp turns. Instead of the hundreds of people at in-person meets, there were no spectators at the virtual meets, either. Sophomore Clara Kantorczyk believes that the environment at in-person meets is completely different than that of virtual meets. “It’s a very fun atmosphere (at the in-person meets) usually: there’s T-shirts and food being sold, races going on, and tents set up across the area for all the different teams. You race and then get to hang out with your team the rest of the day. The virtual meet felt very casual in comparison,” Kantorcyzk said. Both Kantorczyk and senior Mehul Tomar prefer in-person meets over virtual meets because of the overall atmosphere. “The environment is com-

pletely different. There is a lot more competition during in-person meets, which helps you perform better. You also get to meet new people and make new friends during in-person meets,” Tomar said. “I am still in touch with some of the competitors who I have met during past in-person meets.” According to Tomar, in-person meets create memories that virtual meets can’t. “Some of my best memories are of my teammates and I messing around in the bus or at the meet venue before or after our races,” Tomar said. With the restart of the Central League, schools will start holding meets against other schools once more. Hawkins believes that athletes’ experience at the virtual meets will be helpful for getting them back into the competitive mindset. “Being a distance runner, you’re very mindful of time, so they are racing the clock, and you can display your fitness through your time,” Hawkins said. “If you don’t have the competition staring down at you and you staring back at them, it’s very hard to get the competitive juices flowing.”

Taking a turn: EEPE requirements change due to COVID-19 Michael Tierney Staff Reporter

In response to COVID-19 shutting down many opportunities to complete Extended Experience Physical Education (EEPE), Dr. Patrick Boyle, the assistant principal in charge of EEPE, revamped it and made several changes. “(The changes were made) to give students the opportunity, during the pandemic, to complete the EEPE requirements in a safe and effective manner,” Boyle said. The purpose of the course is to allow sophomores, juniors and seniors to exercise outside of school as a substitute for taking a physical education class. Boyle has made three noteworthy modifications to fall semester EEPE for 2020: the physical activity may now be completed at home under the supervision of a parent or guardian, students will be permitted to submit a physical activity of their choosing for approval, and students must now complete an EEPE Fall Semester Approval Survey through Schoology to have their supervised activity approved. Students are, however, still required to complete 30 hours during the fall semester to

earn credit for the course. Boyle firmly believes that the rule changes will have a positive impact on those who are enrolled in the course. Senior Jason Barnaba, who has been participating in EEPE for three years, has continued his routine of going to the Upper Main Line YMCA with his good friend, senior Ryan Zheng, in order to complete his 30 hours. They commute to UMLY three days a week, and since gyms have been open since school started, they have had no problems finding a place to work out amidst COVID-19. However, junior Athira Menezes, who used to take ballet and pointe classes twice a week for her EEPE, now does dance workouts on YouTube due to COVID-19. The new changes put in place for the fall semester were very helpful for her. “The new EEPE rules allow parents to be the supervisor for the activity which was quite helpful in my case. I had originally chosen to take virtual ballet classes, but unfortunately the classes were cancelled due to under enrollment. Consequently, I had to change my EEPE activity to doing dance workouts on YouTube with my mom be-

ing the activity supervisor,” Menezes said. She also noted several positives to these adjustments. “I think that the new rules for EEPE are good as they are quite flexible. In particular, I’m glad that the EEPE requirements were changed to allow kids who aren’t going to a gym, playing a sport, or doing a virtual program to easily meet the EEPE requirements by themselves at home.” Menezes said. The rule modifications have had a great effect on how Menezes completes her 30 hours and have allowed her to do her activity safely and comfortably from her home. Junior Julien Riviere, who is also participating in EEPE this year, is having a much different experience with the new rule modifications. Riviere plays soccer for the King of Prussia Soccer Club and counts those hours of soccer towards EEPE. “Personally, I think the changes are fine. Because I am on a soccer club team, I can just put the practices and games in for my hours. It doesn’t really affect me at all,” Riviere said. Nor have the COVID-19 protocols for soccer been too strict,

which has allowed Riviere to carry on with soccer and play with his team through the pandemic. “For practicing and playing, the protocol is different because of COVID-19, but overall, when it comes to Extended Experience, it’s almost the exact same thing (as before COVID-19),” Riviere said. Junior Sydney Thompson, who horseback rides for her EEPE, has also been unaffected by the rule changes. Thompson’s barn is still open with only certain restrictions, allowing her to continue completing her hours there. “I didn’t even realize that there was a rule change. I have been able to ride as I normally would, and nothing changed from the extended experience I did last year,” Thompson said. Boyle has received only positive feedback so far from parents and students regarding the new rules, but the outlook on EEPE in the spring semester is foggy. “It depends on where we are and how the pandemic is within the country,” Boyle said. For these four students, it has Courtesy Athira Menezes been business as usual and EEPE has been a success so far in these Stretching far: Junior Athira Menezes warms up with stretches before her dance workout for her EEPE hours. She has unique times. had years of prior dance experience, making EEPE very enjoyable.

YMCA sports camps operate safely through the summer Akshita Joshi

Assistant Sports Editor While packing their bags for summer camp, students would have never expected to bring masks and hand sanitizer along with swim caps and tennis rackets. Despite taking necessary precautions and following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, many YMCA sports programs’ campers were still able to have a fruitful experience. Sophomores Aaron Sun and Hemanth Kolluri were student coaches at YMCA’s tennis camps this summer.

The two have attended the camps since they were young, and this year were given the opportunity to serve as student coaches for the first time by the tennis department, after witnessing their years of dedication and experience. “There was nothing to not like about the camp because all of the players and staff were there due to their love for the sport. I think this goes for everyone, since quarantine has confined us to our homes, and getting outside and brushing away the rust on your game is a really great feeling,” Kolluri said. Tennis is a low-contact

sport, which allows it to continue during the pandemic. The YMCA made sure all of the campers had masks on while entering and leaving the tennis facility and checked every camper’s temperature upon arrival. However, the campers did not wear masks during the actual practices and games on court. Hence, to limit physical contact, the camp was broken up into several small groups with a maximum of nine campers per group. The program also removed doubles matches from the program to ensure they were following social distancing measures.

Having only one player on each side of the court guaranteed that the distance between campers was more than six feet at all times. The student coaches were in charge of helping younger campers with their technique. Because of social distancing guidelines, however, student coaches could not teach campers by physically guiding their swings. “Since we can’t guide them physically, we have to guide them verbally. Usually campers learn faster in a hands-on experience, but when coaches can only motion and tell them what to do, they take a longer time understanding what the coaches want them to do,” Sun said. With prior years of experience, senior Andy Mei was able to share the differences between past years and this year of coaching. This was his fourth year as a student coach and his eighth year of playing competitive tennis. While the situation was not ideal, Mei noticed that there was a certain benefit due to the extra protocol being enforced. Groups were smaller than previous years, optimizing performance for many campers since coaches were able to focus on more campers individually. “Obviously I didn’t love the situation, but I would say there was a more organized system than previous years at the YMCA,” Mei said. The YMCA swim facili-

Courtesy Sarah Park

Swimming distantly: Swimmers must follow these social distancing measures that are taken inside the pool during practice at the YMCA. This method was enforced this year to minimalize physical contact between the swimmers.

ty also continued its annual program this summer. To ensure the swimmers’ safety, the YMCA took the same protocol as tennis camps upon entering the building; required all participants to wear masks and maintain a 6 foot distance between each other upon arrival and on the pool deck at all times. Before, this practice was not possible as each lane had 10 or more swimmers. This year, however, the team was split up into groups of 25 per practice so each lane had four people at a time with two on each side. Junior Alyssa Totoro attended the YMCA swim pro-

gram this summer. Totoro has been on the YMCA team for one year and has been swimming competitively for six years. “The new YMCA rules were slightly difficult to get used to because we don’t get to pick our lanes to be with our friends, but I’m happy to do anything that lets me swim. I love going to practice where we listen to music, talk to our friends and work hard at something I love doing,” Totoro said. Sophomore Sarah Park, who has been swimming for the Upper Main Line YMCA for 10 years, and her family

were hesitant to go back to practices and meets. Her parents are still not ready for her to participate in indoor meets, but they have settled on the idea of socially-distanced outdoor meets and practices. “My parents were definitely concerned for my safety, but they realized that the coaches were doing everything they can to keep us safe,” Park said. “For me, safety was definitely a concern, but I was confident in our coaches’ decision to bring us back, and I think all the coaches and staff at the YMCA have done a great job in making sure everyone was safe.”


Friday, October 23, 2020


Competitor to coach: junior finds passion in teaching gymnastics Julia Harris Staff Reporter

Junior Rachel Jin was a level-eight gymnast, competing in over twenty different competitions, including multiple state championships. However, beginning in 2019, a pain in her wrist began to make gymnastics difficult. After enduring a year of this discomfort, Jin and her parents had to decide between getting surgery or quitting. The decision was a tough one to make, but it ultimately opened up a new chapter in her life. Unable to compete any longer, Jin became a gymnastics coach at John Pancott Gymnastics Center for younger kids with ages ranging from preschoolers to 10-year-olds. “I realized this could bring back a part of my life that I thought I would have to give up, so it was the right option to go into coaching,” Jin said. “When you commit yourself to something and invest time and effort for years, it be-

comes a focal point of your identity.” Initially, Jin wanted to start a new sport. She considered starting dancing, diving or pole vaulting, but settling on trying out ice skating. She ended up frustrated by the feeling of not being good enough for her age. “When you’re this old and you go into a new sport, you can’t really go anywhere big,” Jin said. “I had known that girls my age that were still doing gymnastics had coached at the gym, but I had never shown any interest because I was always so busy.” Coaching would allow Jin to be around all the people she had grown to know and love throughout her years competing, and she would be able to pass on her skills to other kids who were passionate about the sport. On top of that, she already had a knack for coaching. Due to her extensive gymnastics experience, Jin wasn’t required to undergo any formal training to become a coach. After spending some time shadowing other coach-

Courtesy John Pancott Gymnastics Center

Balancing act: Junior Rachel Jin performs a gymnastic skill on the balance beam. Before her injury led her to coaching, Jin was a competitive gymnast at John Pancott Gymnastics Center. es, she was ready to share her knowledge with the younger kids. “One thing that has set

(Jin) apart from others is her desire and ability to help others,” Jin’s former teammate, Jada Traynor, said. “Anyone

who has been Rachel’s teammate wouldn’t have gotten where they are today without her natural coaching skills

and sound advice.” Although she does enjoy working with younger kids at Pancott, Jin prefers teaching

the older ones because she loves to see them develop real skills from her training with them rather than solely helping them do tricks for fun. “Being able to correct the girls and tell them how to go through with movements and see them make progress: that’s the most exciting thing about coaching,” Jin said. Teaching new students gives Jin the opportunity to pass her love for gymnastics to others. Her coach, Mike Pancott, is especially proud of her dedication to the sport and how far she has come. “It shows the impact of competitive sports and how it trickles down to other generations,” Pancott said. Jin is grateful to stay involved with gymnastics through coaching, even though her competitive days are behind her. “If I had to give advice to other athletes going through an injury, I would say: it takes patience, and don’t panic,” Jin said. “There’s always something else for you to do, and you can even continue working with the sport you love.”

Changing the game: Students adapt to recruiting dead period Reese Wang and Abby Bagby

Managing Editor and Staff Reporter Junior Lily Wolfe had planned to spend this past summer going to field hockey clinics at schools in which she had interest as well as playing in showcases and tournaments. However, the NCAA’s Division I recruiting dead period, implemented in March 2020 and currently extended until early 2021, threw a wrench into Wolfe’s plans. The dead period bans all in-person interaction between Division I coaches and prospects, only allowing virtual contact such as through email, text, social media or video calls. As a result, only Division III coaches could attend Super 60, a three-day field hockey camp typically coached by college coaches from all divisions. While clips from the tournament could be sent to Division I coaches, Wolfe, who hoped to play for a Division I school and is currently verbally committed to Quinnipiac University, believes her experience was hindered by the fact that only Division III coaches were present. “I wanted to see how the coaches coached me, how I felt with the coaches and if I liked the coaching style, but I couldn’t do that. They could only watch me instead of the other way around, you watching them,” Wolfe said. Likewise, senior and softball player Kate Clement planned on meeting coaches during various softball showcases and tournaments. Due to the dead period,

no coaches attended in-person, and her tournaments were instead streamed on, a website that hosts amateur sports streams. Clement, who is committed to Franklin and Marshall College, also made highlight compilation videos from her tournaments to send to coaches who couldn’t attend. Since official and unofficial visits to schools are also banned during the dead period, coaches had to rely on Zoom, Skype and other forms of virtual communication to convey information to the prospects. Although senior boys lacrosse player Andy Marquet thought the information was similar to what he would’ve gotten in person, he believes the main difference was that he couldn’t get a feel of the people in the school. “It’s just different when you’re shaking hands with someone and really getting a feel for them as a person,” Marquet said. “You can kind of soak in the atmosphere of the school.” Marquet dreamed of playing for a Division I lacrosse program, but ultimately decided to commit to Division III Gettysburg College. Part of his decision came from the fact that he couldn’t visit any Division I schools, who wanted a decision within two weeks, during the dead period. “I wasn’t able to make a decision on those schools that would put that (two week) time limit on me without seeing other schools. And since I couldn’t see the other schools because of the pandemic, I was basically forced to say, ‘Sorry, I don’t know if I can say yes to you without knowing about the other

options,’” Marquet said. Wolfe, who believes she could’ve made her verbal commitment faster with the opportunity to tour campuses, had similar hesitations when deciding on a school. “I’m like, ‘Oh, well maybe I want to see it one more time,’ or ‘Oh, I don’t actually know the coaches that well, because I’ve only done one clinic there.’ There’s some things that I wish I could clear up. I don’t know some things that I need to know before I decide on the place I’m going to spend the next four years at,” Wolfe said. For Clement, though, her decision to commit to Franklin and Marshall College, a liberal arts school with a student population of 2,315, was influenced by its COVID-19 reopening plan to reopen in-person for some students. “I really thought that I didn’t want to go to a small school, but (COVID-19) changed that for me. I just decided that (the size of a school) wasn’t really what mattered to me; if it gave me a better chance of going back to school, then I would take it,” Clement said. Clement urges others currently in the recruiting process to use social media to reach out to coaches. She believes that building a strong digital platform is vital in the COVID-19 recruitment process. “Email as much as possible. Use Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram,” Clement said. “Call coaches. Ask questions that show you’re interested in the program. You don’t need (to be) in person to be able to connect with coaches.”

Courtesy Deanna Ashenfelter

Up to bat: Senior Kate Clement takes the plate at a Team New Jersey softball tournament. Highlight compilations from athletes’ past tournaments such as this have played a major role in the college recruiting process this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Serotonin and sports: how staying active keeps athletes smiling Ruijia Yang Staff Reporter

Ruijia Yang/The Spoke

Senior shots: Senior tennis captain Claire Connelly practices outdoors for the upcoming fall tennis season. The Central League’s announcement of an abbreviated competitive fall season came as a welcome surprise to her and many other student athletes.

After COVID-19 caused the cancellation of games and practices, opportunities and connections between teammates and coaches disappeared, affecting many student-athletes’ mental health. With the loss of this sense of camaraderie, students such as freshman volleyball player Giu Presa Vespa are having difficulty feeling like they are part of a team. Presa Vespa believes that the support from her volleyball teammates makes her feel more secure both in and out of games. “I feel so free when I’m playing volleyball, and I feel so comfortable with the people that I’m playing with that the confidence just comes out, and I just feel like myself,” Presa Vespa said. Presa Vespa started playing volleyball in sixth grade and now plays for Synergy Volleyball Club in King of Prussia. She believes that the competition and excitement the sport brings her has made her happier overall and

that volleyball has been a stress reliever for her. For this reason, she struggled with not being able to play during the shutdown. “I felt really sad,” Presa Vespa said. “It was so depressing of how one of my favorite things that I was so excited for this year was just canceled and that chance was just taken away from me.” Professionals also agree that sports positively affect mental health by giving athletes an outlet for their emotions. Psychologist Sarah Whalen, Psy.D., who owns a private practice in Wayne, PA, says that sports afford not only physical benefits, but social and mental benefits as well. “There is the camaraderie that develops with sports teams. There’s the physical benefits, also, you know, having a healthy body and exercising,” Whalen said. To the relief of many student-athletes, the Central League announced on Sept. 21 that there will be a fall season played between member schools with restrictions in place. Senior and tennis captain Claire Con-

nelly says that she is grateful to be able to properly play this year. “It was good to know that we were going to have a season and I was going to be able to have (the season) to bond with the players on a team, even if it was for a shorter amount of time,” Connelly said. Connelly believes that being able to play on the team helps her stay positive on and off the court. “I’m a very social person, so over quarantine it was hard to not have that social aspect, being away from the team. Playing (with them) definitely helps my confidence and makes me happier, it’s like the team’s a family and we all support each other,” Connelly said. Although sports have begun for this season, Whalen believes it is important for teachers, coaches and family to continue to support their athletes. “It’s likely that people are experiencing anger and frustration, or feeling overwhelmed,” Whalen said. “Those are all important things for them to be able to have somebody to express those feelings to and somebody who can normalize their experiences.”



Commitment Corner Page 10

Cross-country runners compete in virtual meets Page 10

Friday, October 23, 2020

College recruitment update Page 11

EEPE allows for at-home workouts Page 11

Back on the field: The girls’ varsity soccer team practices before their first home game against Haverford on Oct. 20. The team resumed its season the week of Sept. 28 along with most other ’Stoga sports.

Alexis Costas/The SPOKE


In light of COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, the question of whether or not to have a 2020 fall sports season has been a heavily debated topic amongst the Central League, Chester County Health Department (CCHD), Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA) and individual school districts. Following CCHD guideline adjustments, the Central League has collaborated with schools to allow an optional staggered return to competitive sports. Under this policy, schools that choose to rejoin the competitive fall season may reschedule practices and games, with low-contact sports like

tennis beginning earliest and high-contact sports such as football and cheerleading beginning last. The ’Stoga season officially resumed its complete schedule the week of Sept. 28 with practices starting for football, soccer, field hockey, cross country and volleyball teams. Games for those sports began the week of Oct. 5 in addition to tennis and golf. According to Athletics Director Kevin Pechin, keeping students safe is the district’s top priority. In the event that an athlete or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the district’s pandemic team will immediately contact the player’s family as well as the CCHD, who will at that point begin the contact tracing process. Hand sanitizer is avail-

able at all athletics facilities, and bathrooms are cleaned routinely before and after every practice and game. Spectators at all events will be strictly limited in accordance with the Pennsylvania government’s regulations regarding gatherings and athletics. “Everything is unlike any other season we’ve ever had. It’s all very different,” Pechin said. This decision has been met with support from many student athletes eager to return to their sports. Junior and varsity football player Hayden Karbiner is glad to have the opportunity to get back on the field. “I’m very excited for the season resuming, especially for the seniors considering a month ago nobody knew if they would ever have a chance to play for (Conestoga) one fi-

nal time. I have no hesitation to go back and play because the school and the Central League have plans in place to protect the players and coaches,” Karbiner said. As a high-contact sport, a variety of football-specific safety measures have been put in place, with the most notable being the addition of face shields into every player’s helmet. While every sport has its own individualized safety plan, all athletes are required to maintain social distancing whenever possible and complete a daily health screening before attending practices and games. Over 10,000 of these health screenings have been completed since athletics resumed to ensure that all players are healthy. That being said, some ath-

letes, including sophomore and varsity girls tennis player Isabella Chen, have concerns about the season’s rescheduling. “We don’t have any practices because we have a lot less time than usual, which also means all of our games are condensed into the shorter season. We also can’t really have spectators, and it’s hard to do fun team bonding stuff. Tennis season was my favorite part of school last year and by having a (shortened) fall season, they’ve made it really rushed and stressful,” Chen said. The Central League is continuing to monitor recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and PIAA, and are prepared to adjust the fall sports regulations if necessary to keep student athletes healthy and safe.

’Stoga sports fans react to professional sports COVID-19 safety precautions Andrew Franceski Staff Reporter

Junior Jack Donahue looks forward to March Madness, his favorite sporting event of the year. “March Madness is my three week excuse to eat, scream my head off, and fill in brackets until my hands are tired,” Donahue said. However, this year March Madness, along with many other sporting events have been canceled or modified to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines forcing a change in the way Conestoga students consume sports. Sports have been an escape from life for students like junior Jack Dirkes, especially this year. “Sports have occupied more of my mind as my free time has increased,” Dirkes said. “Basketball, especially my Toronto Raptors, have been a reprieve from repetitive days in quarantine.” The NBA made the decision

in July to institute a “bubble” in Orlando, Fla., to provide a safe way for the season to resume. Only players and essential workers were allowed into the bubble, and everyone was subject to daily testing, with fines up to $50,000 for missing a test. As a result, the NBA has concluded its season without any COVID-19 scares. The restart of professional sports has not been without problems. At the beginning of the shortened MLB season, positive COVID-19 tests postponed over 25 contests as the league grappled with a lack of player support for a bubble and coaches refusing to wear masks. Positive tests have forced the rescheduling of four NFL games, a trend that junior Aishna Gaikwad says is troubling. “It’s ruining the season. I think social distancing should be more strictly enforced especially on the benches. It’s stupidity from them that is causing problems. I also think that re-

scheduling has unfairly helped some teams more than others and created potential for more serious injuries like Dak’s ankle, as some teams will not have an off week all year, and rest is important come playoffs,” Gaikwad said. Nonetheless, she will continue to root for the Steelers every Sunday. The NFL has now begun to increase access to locker rooms and behind the scenes content as well as allowing for a fee, personalized messages to be recorded and aired, and cardboard cutouts to be placed in the endzone. Once a month, Eagles season ticket holders will have the opportunity to join a Zoom call with two Eagles players and partake in a live Q&A. This is to capitalize on an increase in viewership on programs from across the league. However, senior Connor Northern believes these changes don’t make up for the fact that

he can’t watch games in-person. “The best part of going to a professional sports game is the energy. At hockey games, from where I sit I can’t even see the puck. You go to cheer your head off, and be with other fans, smell the hotdogs, with everyone working to help your team win. Cheers, chants, and even boos help lead your team to victory,” Northern said. As professional sports continue to wade through COVID-19 challenges, fans continue to have faith and root for their favorite teams. “I believe everything will work out in the end,” junior Jack Donahue said. “Sports unite people of all different kinds, something we really need right now. Sports will always find a way.” For now, though, sports fans around the district will don their favorite team jerseys and settle in with their families to watch games, a brief respite from this crazy year.

Andrew Franceski/The SPOKE

Sunday Night Football: Spectators wait for the game between the Eagles and the Detroit Lions to begin on Sept. 22, 2019. Fans were banned from attending at Lincoln Financial Field until Oct. 18, 2020.

’STOGA SPORTS TIMELINE 4/9: PIAA officially cancels spring sports season

3/13: T/E schools close

8/14: CCHD postpones competitive athletics until January 2021

6/30: Conestoga receives approval for off-season workouts

9/8: Off-season workouts resume

8/27: Workouts canceled after confirmed COVID-19 cases among Conestoga athletes

9/29: Competitive sports resume

9/14: CCHD revises safety guidelines allowing fall sports