TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. II. III. IV. V.
Pre-Pandemic Academics Student Life Social Change New Possibilities
Editorial Staff Editors-in-Chief Juliana Capizzi Anna Hoover Sam Momeni Mia Romano Managing Editors Raemi Charles Sonali Hettipola Evan Warner Art Editors Kelsea Petersen Carmen Phillips-Alvarez Tilly Sandmeyer Sponsor David Lopilato
6 15 22 30 43
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VI. VII. VIII. IX. X.
Mental Health Sports International Technology Uncommon Challenges
The Cover and The Concept In the 1920’s, her mentor, the famous American anthropologist Franz Boas, suggested Margaret Mead study adolescence. He hoped such a study might settle the “nurture vs. nature” debate dominating the social sciences of the time. The rest is history (the history of anthropology, anyway) Coming of Age in Samoa would go on to become a seminal work of Cultural Studies. Of course, Mead’s study is not without controversy. But, no study has done more to highlight the importance and urgency of understanding teen culture. Much has changed since Coming of Age in Samoa was first published in 1928. Mead would scarcely recognize the fashion and trends of today’s
48 58 66 72 76
COVER ART BY ASHTON DODGE AND KELSEA PETERSEN
American teenagers. Yet, “the rebellion against authority, philosophical perplexities, the flowering of idealism, conflict and struggle” that shape today’s teen would most likely feel very familiar to Mead. Had she been alive today, Mead would surely be interested in the lives of teenagers during the pandemic. She was a student of social change, fascinated by whether, in a society that is changing, people feel “more strongly about new things or old things.” Introducing Coming of Age in a Pandemic. When the high school students behind Coming of Age in a Pandemic set out to capture the experiences and stories of their fellow teens during the
pandemic, they knew to skip the comparative method, to avoid an overly romanticized “coming of age” narrative and to abandon the search for a single cause to “the storm and stress” of adolescence. Instead, they set out to capture each other’s stories and share each other's insights authentically and in real time. I have no doubt Mead would have considered Coming of Age in a Pandemic not only a “current comment” of adolescence but a historical record of teen life during a uniquely challenging time. David Lopilato Sponsor Coming of Age in a Pandemic
A publication by students of Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland. Special thanks to MCPS EGPS and Print Shop.
A Conversation with Dr. Holtz, National Institute of Health BY KARENNA BARMADA 7,299 miles. 27 hours by flight. Two separate languages and two vastly different cultures. Despite the physical and sociological differences, the situation for Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala has similarities to our situation here in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV). While our experiences with COVID-19 feel unique to us in many ways, other communities around the world have faced and are facing similar struggles. Even though the specifics differ, we can still draw on and learn from their experiences. Dr. Timothy Holtz has spent his career investigating the cultural and psychological effects health crises can have on a population. As Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Director of the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Health, he works on coordinating the HIV research agenda to end the HIV pandemic. Dr. Holtz has worked as an epidemiologist and team lead for the CDC’s International Tuberculosis branch, working on drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) control throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. His memoir, A Doctor in Little Lhasa: One Year in Dharamsala with the Tibetans-in-Exile, recounts his earlier time spent serving Tibetan refugees in India dealing with the effects of tuberculosis while struggling to preserve their culture and traditions. There are many parallels between Dr. Holtz’s experience in Dharamsala and our experiences with COVID-19 in the DMV. COVID-19, which is devastating on multiple levels, has hit some populations in our country particularly hard. In his book, Dr. Holtz discusses the implications of outcomes of TB treatment on different segments of the Tibetan population, driven by structural factors and social determinants, or “factors around us that contribute to poor health and poor health outcomes, such as lower average educational levels, poor access to healthcare, nutritional deficiencies, severe overcrowding, unemployment, lack of stable income,
and language and cultural barriers.” In Dharamsala, the Tibetan refugees are the group that experience the highest rates of TB and poorest outcomes. A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that overall rates of tuberculosis among Tibetans-in-exile are among the highest in the world, and Tibetans living in India have substantially higher rates of TB than those in the surrounding populations (Stop TB Partnership Secretariat World Health Organization, 2016). In Dharamsala, some healthcare is provided by government public hospitals, which helps to mitigate the effects of structural inequality in communities. This is a lesson that many healthcare professionals stand behind, in fact, Dr. Holtz says that “[Dharamsala] has what many countries have and what we should have in the United States, namely that we should have a system to provide universal health care.” In the U.S., we have seen negative effects on the population's mental health due to the psychological stress of living through a pandemic. These effects are intensified in poor communities where stressors are compounded with lack of access to clean water and food, and where portions of the population are living as refugees, resulting in feelings of displacement. However, in the challenging environment of Dharamsala, people found ways to overcome. Dr. Holtz believes that their resilience came from “their family, their friends, and their religious affiliation or spirituality.” He explained that in India the Tibetans relationship to the Dalai Lama played a huge role in the resilience they showed. Dr. Holtz’s experiences suggested that Tibetan students' participation in protesting Chinese occupation and involvement in their communities had positive mental health effects. He explains that “being involved in something bigger than yourself, being engaged, building social networks, and seeking out people who believe in the same things you believe in. That's incredibly important.” This important
lesson is something that many of us in MCPS have learned for ourselves during this isolating time. Some of us have been successful in finding a way to reach outside ourselves to work for a greater good or even to find outlets for how we are feeling, and personally benefited from those efforts. For others it was more helpful to learn to be okay by themselves. The words of Dr. George Comstock, a renowned epidemiologist recognized for his work in tuberculosis, can apply to the treatment of COVID-19, and other health crises as well, when he said, “in TB control, one size doesn't fit all.” We can use what we have learned from these experiences to approach future issues. Although the U.S. has some of the lowest rates of TB in the world, TB has not been eradicated here, or anywhere. Unfortunately, infectious disease experts believe the same might be true of COVID-19. Efforts that are made in Dharamsala, according to Dr. Holtz, to combat TB such as community education, mobile-based treatment and screening programs, preventive therapy and continued funding for research will help the U.S. control, if not eliminate, COVID-19. Many teenagers have experienced COVID-19 as an entrance to the harsh realities of the “adult world." For others, this was not their first encounter. We have had to adjust to rapidly changing environments in a time when we should be able to make new friends and reckless decisions. We have retreated into our rooms as 15-year-olds and come out as 17-year-olds. We’ve had to grow up as our friends lose family members. But other communities have gone through tough times like this before, and we can learn from their experiences. Tibetan refugees in Dharmasala are one of these communities, and in Dr. Holtz's work in he noticed “that presence [of health security] is represented not just by the healer, but by all in the collective prospect.”
Aidan Gooding “The pandemic has forced me to change my approach, and plan my shots, working more with models, so that we can both be safe. However, this has changed my style because I realised that I enjoy taking more editorial photos.”
Every impact study needs a baseline. To understand the impact of the pandemic, we look back at student works written right before March 2020. CURATED BY DEVLIN ORLIN AND KARENNA BARMADA; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Brandy Melville and Its Effect on Teenage Girls BY DELIA BLUMBERG, JENNA KIRSH, AND ERICA WERBER Studies show that nearly 30 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder, with teenager girls being the primary victims. Social media is a major contributor to these issues. Brandy Melville, in particular, has 3.9 million followers and 8,007 pictures of models in their clothes, specifically white, skinny teenagers.
By only promoting their clothes in one specific body type and race, Brandy Melville has forced each Instagram user to compare themselves to unrealistic body types. Brandy Melville’s choice to only carry one size of clothing has been a key idea in the design of the store since its beginning in 1970. The idea behind this onesize-fits-all clothing style was designed to target slimmer girls, generally sizes 0-2. Hailey*, a senior in high school, feels that Melville’s design “excludes a large number of girls, including [herself].” When conducting our own interviews
GRAPHIC BY TEDDY TSUI-ROSEN
we wanted to have a strong focus on how teenage girls view themselves inside and outside the store. We interviewed three senior girls: Hailey, Samantha, and Brittany.* Hailey and Samantha are both caucasian and Brittany is African American. Hailey, Samantha, and Brittany all agree that Brandy Melville pants do not fit their body types. For someone with a larger chest or for a taller girl their shirts may fit too tight and be very cropped on them. Or if a girl has a very small chest or is shorter or slimmer than the so called “average” girl shopping at the store, the shirt may be too large and not fit correctly. So, why are girls continuing to shop at Brandy Melville? Samantha claims that, “although I don’t always fit in their clothes, the items that do fit me, like the shirts and sweatshirts, make me feel good about myself.” None of the teenage girls claimed that they wore this clothing to fit in, despite them saying that they and their friends wore Brandy Melville. From looking at the models on their website one can see that Brandy Melville wants to create an image of the stereotypical California girl, despite their audience being diverse in culture, age, and race. Brittany feels like the compa-
ny excludes all diversity, and she doesn’t feel great about supporting clothing that doesn’t support her. Despite this feeling of exclusion, she continues to wear Brandy Melville clothes, proving that the racial difference is not enough to stop her from buying, wearing, and supporting Brandy Melville. The average size of the skinny jeans at the store would fit a girl with about a 25 inch waist, while the average size waist for a teenage girl nationwide is 32 inches. Same goes for the shirts and tank tops sold; the only size option listed is “small/medium.” Samantha says that she prefers to shop at other stores that include more sizes and models of all different races and sizes allowing for a wider audience and promoting inclusion, such as American Eagle. Brandy Melville is known for being an “exclusive” brand. When people hear that someone shops at Brandy Melville, it is assumed that this person is of smaller frame. The fact that most girls in the United States do not fit into this clothing brand begs the question; how does Brandy Melville stay in business when it only targets a small demographic of people? Samantha believes that making one-size-fits-all clothing is easier for companies to make, which could explain their success. It’s no rumor that the brand is thriving, they are even expanding stores nationwide. Brandy Melville is aware of the backlash it receives but continues to make one-size-fits-all clothing and continues to choose only white, skinny models to represent their brand, and the market continues to support these practices. The exclusive brand is affecting the mental health of teenage girls all over the world, so where do we draw the line? Should parents get involved with this apparent crisis? What will it take for teenage girls to stop wearing this popular brand? Will the brand ever change its ways? *All names have been changed
Fear Is In The (Warming) Air BY CHARLIE KANNAPELL, EVE LONDON, YADIRA ORDONEZ, DEVLIN ORLIN, AND EDEN SHANE Everyone has fears -- whether they admit it or not. For some, fear arises from the sound of a snake ready for its next meal or the sight of a spider crawling along the floor. For others, fears infiltrate their everyday lives: the worries of failing the IB Biology final exam; the nerves from talking to a crush; the stress of digitally submitting endless college applications before 11:59 pm on January 1st. In today’s world, a new fear is emerging. Raging fires are scorching forests and turning homes to ashes in California, polar bears are losing their glacial habitats in Antarctica, and more than two hundred species are going extinct every day. The culprit? Climate change. Discussions regarding climate change and other pressing environmental issues are essential. The Earth’s health dictates the human race’s survival. However, not all people seem to be worried -- especially the older generations. A Gallup Poll about attitudes towards global warming found that only 29% of people aged 55 and older thought global warming would pose a serious threat in their lifetime. But what about our younger generations -- the generations that will have to live with the effects of global warming for the rest of their lives? It would make sense for climate change to be a top fear among the younger generations. But is it? Yes and no, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) suggests. Fears that relate to environmental issues are on the rise and many students are picking up on these concerns. However, as the AMS notes, fears about the environment are many times overshadowed by daily fears of students. We interviewed students from four different grades: fifth, eighth, twelfth, and senior year of college. Students in these years all have one thing in common: they’re the oldest in their respective schools. As our interviewees prepare to make the leap into new chapters in their lives, we talked with them to see
how climate change stacks up against their day-to-day fears and how much they see the warming planet as a danger to their future. Fifth graders are at a pivotal moment in their life; they are about to enter the infamous middle school years. The fifth grade interviewees mentioned fears of heights, spiders, and clowns, but when asked to talk about climate change they acknowledged that they “knew humans are polluting the earth” but they did not indicate that they had any pressing fears about climate change. Despite this, they agreed that their teachers have taught them enough about climate change and that they are hopeful that their generation will be able to stop climate change in the coming years. They showed excitement to help the earth and do their part for our world. Eighth graders were mostly fearful of high school, but after generating lists of their fears, 80% of the eighth graders interviewed included a fear of climate change or global warming. “I think that high school will be scary,” Shane*, a local eighth grader attending Silver Creek Middle School said, “I think that not having money is scary too, but also global warming scares me, I guess.” During the second interview, Shane was completing his course request form, selecting classes for his upcoming freshman year. When questioned about his fears during this time, he first noted how it was difficult for him to think about global warming as he is more directly impacted by making the right choice of classes for his upcoming freshman year. This was the same for incoming freshman John*, who said firstly his fears were those about high school, but when prompted, noted that “[he] is always afraid of the bad things happening to our planet.” “I don’t really think that what is happening right now will end well, like, when has it ever?” he said, “I guess what I mean by that is that over time we get worse at taking care of the planet, and
we can see that everywhere, like stronger storms or the melting in Antarctica.” High school seniors unsurprisingly labeled their top fear as college-admissions related, but when reminded of the climate they were quick to share their concern. Where they most varied was in their estimate of how long humanity had left before Earth became ravaged by climate change. Liza* of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School said that the human race had until 2500, while Angela* gave an estimate as immediate as 2100. Many seniors interviewed, when asked about their impact on climate change and environmental education, mentioned taking IB or AP Environmental Science, a popular class at B-CC that provides students with information about the effects of climate change and the necessary steps to prevent it. Although the seniors maintained that college was the most immediate and pressing concern for them, they acknowledged the growing pressure climate change places on them and their futures. “What is the point of even getting an education when the world will be flooded in fifty years?” posed one student. The final group that we interviewed were seniors in college. Among the college seniors interviewed, initial fears ranged from not finding a job after college to missed opportunities and letting others down. None of the interviewees cited climate change as an initial fear. Once climate change was introduced into the conversation, however, the college seniors expressed their fears about climate change’s long-term effects. “Me and a lot of my peers have had serious conversations about not feeling comfortable with the idea of having children because we do not want to bring kids into this world with how it is,” said a student named Ashley*. Another interviewee, named Sean*, shares a similar story. “Everyone I know understands [climate change] is indeed a problem that needs to be addressed and accounted for.” He
GRAPHIC BY ANNIE WILDER
believes that addressing climate change now is important to “ensure the longevity of the next generations.” “There are definitely many things we can do about climate change,” he continued, noting that change starts with the little things: “I personally use my bike and walk anywhere I need to go instead of using a car to reduce my personal emissions.” Another college student named Anita*, however, thinks that “it’s not just a person-to-person issue.” She believes that change needs to be made on a grander scale: “Recycling is great. Compost is great. Like reduce your plastic whatever. But at the same time I think that the biggest thing we need to do is boycott and pressure companies and the vast majority of their programs to change.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t see these changes being very realistic as of today, saying that the big corporations and
companies -- “the big guys,” as she refers to them -- “will just keep doing what they’re doing. They’re in it for the money.” While the “big guys” aren’t doing much, she does not see any difference at the local level either. “It feels like all of the people in my life that could do something, haven’t,” one student said. “I think it’s just become almost a complacency to the fear.” Sean believes our schools are at fault for our older generations’ lack of drive to fight the dangers of climate change, saying he “just was not educated enough about its potential detriments.” Nonetheless, he sees potential in the younger generations that will fill his shoes in the next decade. “Today’s grade school students are definitely more aware of and educated on climate change.” These climate related fears are growing among all demographic groups, seen in each interview conducted. However,
it is important to note that these fears are rarely the first fear on the minds of these “transitional” students. Throughout the educational system, even those students currently taking courses of environmental education, are not focused on the climate in the liminal times of their lives. Nevertheless, what used to be a passing thought for most has transformed into a daunting fear that poses a real threat to the future of our younger generations. “The world is gonna end soon.” Smith*, an eighth grader said, “I don’t know when because we can’t really predict that stuff. But look around, it can’t be that far away.”
*All names have been changed
Vape Culture BY LUCAS ELIOT AND TONA MURRAY “The thing about selling vapes is that it’s practically harmless right now. Like, they each last such a short amount of time that they can’t have that big of an effect on you.” It’s a Friday night in the fall, and I’m accompanying Katie* as she goes to a convenience store to buy vape pods with her fake ID. We slowly make our way through traffic, and Katie breaks down the high school vape market. “It’s mostly underclassmen who ask me about buying stuff for them, most of my friends can buy things on their own right now.” Once a week, she will make her way to the local smoke shop and buy packs of Mango Bomb and Lush Ice STIGs to sell over the weekend. She markets her services on a private Snapchat story, alerting her clientele as to when she is in stock. At this point, Katie has more than five students that consistently buy from her. The late 2010s has seen an astronomical rise in teen vape usage and has morphed the vape into a cultural landmark. While some adults might dismiss Katie as a “burnout” or a “pothead” for vaping, the growing reality is that vaping is not a fad amongst a niche group of teens, it’s the norm. In 2019, studies reported that 37 percent of high school seniors vaped, but reliable underground sources say the number may be closer to 50 or 60 percent in some schools. At most high schools, you can walk into the bathroom to find freshmen begging their friends for a hit. Due to the volume of teen vaping, it’s clear the age restrictions on nicotine products are not an effective obstacle. Most teens have easy ways of purchasing their nicotine, whether in person, online or at school. One high school senior, Maria*, walked me through how to go about obtaining a vape when underage: “There used to be this really sick store in Wheaton Mall that would sell you juice and pods and would never ask for your ID, but they got closed down.” This store closing, coupled with the passing of a new law raising the legal purchasing age of nicotine to 21 made
the task of getting nicotine in Bethesda very difficult for a period. Many teens considered quitting as they no longer had a source for their nicotine products. While some teens managed to quit, the intense anxiety and cravings that come from withdrawal made most teens find alternative ways to get their fix. “I remember we were fiending when the store closed,” said John*, who later admitted he smoked cigarette butts he found on the street when he could not hit his vape. For many teens, vaping is no longer seen as something fun or cool, it’s a necessity to prevent withdrawal.
The late 2010s has seen an astronomical rise in teen vape usage, and has morphed the vape into an integral cultural landmark. “I’ve thrown away like 10 different Suorins over the past 3 years, but as soon as I see my friends, they start hitting it and I can’t stop myself.” Many teens see quitting as impossible when there’s a vape behind every corner. “Even if I throw mine out, I know my friends are going to have it in the bathroom so I’m never gonna be fully clean,” said Daniel*, a senior, as he hit his Puff Bar. Given their willingness to overcome the obstacles that vaping presents, do teenagers that vape have any fears regarding their habit? The fact that what vapes contain is a drug doesn’t register with young people who use them. Nicotine’s addictive and relaxing buzz gives teens just the right amount of incentive to ignore all of the headlines about the dangers of vaping. Additionally, the social implications of vaping entice teens to pick up the habit. Senior Kyle* has been regularly exposed to vaping since his sophomore year, when he started attending B-CC.
“One of the first things that struck me about B-CC was how normalized vaping was. This is the first school I’ve gone to in America, and at my old school overseas, people thought vaping was childish, and honestly it’s what people did when they were too afraid to smoke a cigarette. But here, people will vape in the bathroom, hallways, even in class. My first semester at B-CC I bought one, because everyone around me sold them.” As a newcomer, Kyle felt like vaping was just a part of being a teenager in America, one of the cultural differences you come to learn as the new kid. His experience points to a few aspects of vape culture that make it so attractive to students. Firstly, the aesthetic of blowing fat clouds oozes a “cool-factor” that makes anyone want to grab a vape. In addition to wanting to look cool, prospective vapers also want to belong. The camaraderie that comes with the passing of the buster brings together students of every social group and presents an easy way to feel included. The surge in popularity of vaping was spearheaded by companies like JUUL, whose vapes were discrete and strong, providing the user with an intense nicotine high unlike most other cigarettes and vapes. High concentrations of nicotine, delicious flavors, and the ease of undetectable use (even indoors) make these vapes all the more appealing to teenagers. Through smart marketing and fruity flavors JUUL distanced itself from the stigma associated with older forms of nicotine consumption. All the efforts of anti-smoking campaigns since the 70s seemed instantly reversed. The true danger of nicotine vaping is not the rare cases of seizures or lung disease, but the new generation of lifelong nicotine addicts it has created. From 2015 to 2017, JUUL transformed from a little-known brand into the largest retail e-cigarette brand in the USA, lifting sales of the entire e-cigarette category. Its $150 million retail sales in the last quarter of 2017 accounted for about 40% of e-cigarette retail market share.
While marketing expenditures for JUUL were moderate, the sales growth of JUUL was accompanied by a variety of innovative, engaging and wide-reaching campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, conducted by JUUL and its affiliated marketers. Following this extreme growth, they have been investigated by the CDC and warned by the FDA, “expressing concern, and requesting more information” about their marketing practices. The FDA is concerned with the label of “modified risk tobacco product” that
JUUL has placed on their products. Companies are only allowed to do this after scientifically proving that their products do in fact pose a lesser health risk. We are experiencing and discussing the vaping epidemic concurrently. It’s impossible to know how people will view this era of vaping in the future. When asked about the long term effects of vaping culture, sophomore Josie* said, “When you are in high school, everything is about the future. How your grades will affect your chances of get-
ting into college, how the decisions you make now will impact you as an adult.” Perhaps vaping is so popular because it gives a short term gratification that helps people cope with constantly thinking about the long term. Maybe vapes are just the modern day manifestation of teenage angst. Regardless of what is causing the rise in vape culture among high schoolers, it is having significant impacts on the minds and bodies of the contemporary teenager. *All names changed to protect anonymity of interviewees
GRAPHIC BY ANNIE WILDER
Second Generation Teenagers and the Burden of Expectations BY SUSANA PERUZZI CONTRIBUTIONS BY SORAYA BERNAL A student walks through the halls of a typical American high school. The walls are lined with lockers and the halls filled to the brim with students. Her skin is darker than those in the immediate area the school is in, but they blend in the bustling hallway. She’s a second-generation immigrant, her mother originating from Guatemala. There are hundreds of kids like her in school and millions in the nation. These second-generation immigrants, specifically from South American countries, are nothing more than ordinary teens living the same stressful high school life as everyone. Second-generation immigrants have at least one immigrant parent. They are a part of the new generation in America and many other countries as they connect different identities and play a key role in globalization. The second-generation immigrant population has been growing rapidly throughout the past 25 years. According to Child Trends, Second Generation Immigrants under 18 only made up 14% of the under 18 years of age population in 1994 America. In 2017, the same group made up 23% of the youth population.
This drastic change in population can be attributed to the human instinct of mobility. In addition to the rise in the second generation’s population, the proportion of immigrants in the total U.S. population has increased. The Migration Policy Institute’s research shows that in 1990 immigrants were only 15% of the total U.S. population. Their recent research shows that in 2017, immigrants made up roughly 45% of the total U.S. population. One of the largest groups of immigrants in America originates from the Northern Triangle in Central America (compromise of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala). Of those who immigrate from this area, research from Latin America Research Review states that “over 80 percent of all emigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador reside in the United States.” In the case of our student, she never worries about her status in the country. Her worry is not her status or the effects of having an immigrant parent, but “what the future holds.” First-generation kids have many targets placed on them today. These children have many fears as a result of this. The possibilities range from menial and common fears to
fear that the government may be working to deport their family members. Although there is much that may frighten this demographic, much like their peers, they seem to fear their academic future. Second-generation children don’t feel threatened by the Trump administration; they are rather saddened. In a left-leaning school, these teens fit perfectly into the norm with both their viewpoints and, more importantly, their fears. Their status as second-generation immigrants is not a defining label for them.
Carmen, proud child of an immigrant, at age 4 PHOTO COURTESY OF CARMEN PHILLIPS-ALVAREZ
Private School Struggles BY LIBBY ELMAN “People at Schecter think that a B is like a sinful grade, you know?” Anna rolls her eyes as she says this, but there is a hint of discomfort in her voice. Private schools have a reputation in America for being full of wealthy, spoiled children. Across the board, these students’ problems are often dismissed by the rest of society. People are quick to credit their accomplishments to their privilege and brush off their complaints because “they should be grateful for having so much more than most other people.” Revealing that someone attends private school often creates a roadblock to any discussion about the issues in their lives. However, it is important to remember that these students still face problems. High school is a stressful time for most high school girls. Having to balance homework, extracurriculars, applying to college, and maintaining a fulfilling social life is bound to cause fears and stresses. But for private school students, these troubles are hidden under a cloak of plaid uniforms and luxury cars. Much of society sees the uniforms and cars and either can’t see past them, or
don’t want to. By shutting out the problems of private school girls across America, we lack an understanding of theminevitably leading to assumptions. For my investigation, I searched to find out what goes on behind the plaid skirts and expensive cars, to find what they fear and what causes them stress - despite whatever money is lying in their parents’ bank accounts. D.C. metro area’s private schools are known for their academic prestige and impressive alumni. But how does this reputation affect the current students there? “I literally know people who don’t consider certain colleges because they’re scared people will judge them for going there. It’s like everyone has this idea that our school is so up there and so we’re expected to only go on to the best schools in the country,” says Tess, a junior at National Cathedral School - one of D.C.’s most prestigious and highly ranked all-girls private schools. Tess enrolled at NCS at the start of 6th grade after going to her assigned public elementary school in Maryland. She describes the atmosphere at NCS as “a pressure cooker for stress and anxiety.” She says that “A lot of girls arrive at NCS for the first time thinking that
they’re really smart because of how they did compared to the kids at their old schools, but then find themselves surrounded by other girls who are just as smart if not smarter than them and are doing all these impressive activities and have all these amazing accomplishments. The whole thing creates an uber-competitive environment where everyone feels inferior to each other and is constantly trying to prove themselves over others.” And though Tess claims that this competition almost completely comes from the students themselves, it seems as if the school’s Administration isn’t doing much to help it. “They know that mental health is a problem. They’ve known it for years,” she says. “People have been complaining and voicing their fears about the issue for ages and they just don’t care to take any action on it. Our teachers pile on the homework and grade so harshly, and the administration just sits there and watches while we all like... deteriorate.” This school-induced stress is not only a problem at Washington D.C. private schools like NCS. Anna is a junior at Solomon Schechter Day School, a small private Jewish
school in Long Island, New York. She describes similar issues happening at her school. “My school definitely puts the wrong ideas into peoples’ heads. Like people at Schecter think that a B is like a sinful grade, like you can’t get it, like it’s so awful if you get it. And on the SAT they want you to get a really, really high score. It all piles together to make people really stressed out.” Emma, a sophomore at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland also shares an extremely similar experience. “People are competitive in every way,” she says. “Every time a test is handed back out you can hear everyone being like ‘oh, what did you get?’ And this isn’t just me - I know a lot of other people experience this - but I always feel scared to talk in class because people are so judgemental that I’m scared they’re going to laugh at what I say or not take it seriously.” While it is clear that these private high schools create fears and anxieties about the present moment for students, their environments also instill many fears and anxieties about the future. According to Tess, Anna, and Emma, students at their schools are also preoccupied about being socially unprepared for college. “Everyone knows… like it’s a thing that JDS is a bubble and that people there only know other Jewish people from school and BBYO (a Jewish teen youth group), and never interact with
any other people,” Emma says. “When I was deciding what chapter of BBYO to join, I purposefully picked one that not many people at my school were in because I wanted to branch out and make new friends. But there are literally BBYO chapters with 150 people in the area where almost every single member is from JDS… they have the opportunity to open their circles right under their nose, and still they choose to stay in the bubble.” But while these students can choose safety and staying in “the bubble” for now, they cannot avoid leaving it for forever. At the end of highschool, they will have to go to college. And that thought is one of the major stresses that private school students like Tess, Anna, and Emma have about their future. “My school is so sheltered… I’m so sheltered,” Anna says. “I’ve been with the same grade of 30 jewish kids since kindergarten and I am so terrified of the idea of going to a college where everyone and everything is unfamiliar. In fact,” she says, “I want to go to a small liberal arts college because of that. I just cannot imagine myself doing well at a big college with large classes and thousands of people. And honestly, even though I know people call a school of 1,800 students tiny, it still sounds huge and scary to me. But of course, it’s the closest I’ll get to what I’m used to.” Tess explains that her social life revolves completely around her NCS
friends. “I haven’t even gotten practice having to make new friends since I moved schools in sixth grade. Even when new kids transfer into NCS, my friends and my social stance are completely secure and only they have to worry about putting in the effort to talk with the rest of us. So I’m not going to know what to do when I get to college and don’t have a place. Plus,” she adds, “NCS is very cliquey, so I’m scared that I won’t know how to network between different social circles, which my friends in college tell me is a huge part of life there.” However, at the end of the day, these students are aware of the changes they will have to adjust to and as Emma says, “it will all somehow work out. Despite the things my school does wrong, they are still in many giving me a good foundation to work off. Other students before me have made it work, and I know that many students after me will too.” GRAPHIC BY ANNIE WILDER
“This year my art has increasingly focused on childhood memories and family photos, exploring how memory is attached to places. I used green backgrounds and vibrant foregrounds to illustrate the more lasting parts of my memories.”
It may be many years before we know the full impact of the pandemic on learning. Here, we look at the raw and real-time reactions of students trying to get by in school. CURATED BY MIMI DANZIS; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
How the Pandemic Brought Uncertainty and Controversy to Standardized Testing BY LANG HANLEY
Just months ago, the SAT and ACT were considered to be staples of the American educational system, but with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, these two college admission tests are now at the center of controversy and uncertainty. Many questions have arisen about the fairness and safety of these tests being included in the admissions process. Will test-optional colleges favor students who submit their scores? Is in-person testing safe and fair for all? If the SATs have to be cancelled will it be fair to consider scores? The questions are innumerable. Given the uncertainty surrounding the topic, there seems to be no perfect approach as to how colleges should be handling the situation. More than 60% of U.S. schools are test optional and 57 schools are not considering scores at all in the admissions process, known as being “test blind” (USA Today). Amid this uncertainty, a recent court ruling could end up providing some clarity. On September 1st, a judge ruled that the University of California (UC) system can no longer consider test scores in the admissions process. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman disagreed with UC Attorney’s claim that submitting tests “can only help and never hurt an applicant,” instead ruling that the tests are “treated as a plus factor” and that “students with disabilities [will] face greater barriers.” Given this reasoning, Seligman issued a preliminary injunction to eliminate the consideration of SAT and ACT scores in the UC admissions process. While it may just be one court case, it is interesting to see how other schools react to this ruling and whether similar cases and rulings will arise. The UC system will be test optional for fall 2021 and 2022 enrollment and then move to test blind enrollment 2023 and 2024.
The Tattler, the student newspaper of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, recently conducted a survey on the standing of the SAT and ACT among B-CC’s senior class. The survey gathered student test participation data from 116 students, roughly 20% of the 2021 class. It also asked students for their opinions on whether or not schools should be accepting test scores and whether students will or will not be submitting their scores. For both the ACT and SAT, a majority of students said they did not take the tests before school closed in early March. Similarly, a majority of students also reported that they have not taken either test since the closing. In addition the survey asked students if they plan on taking either test moving forward and a strong majority of students said they do not, 76% for the SAT and 85% for the ACT. Based on the survey responses, students who have taken the test seem divided on whether or not they’ll submit their scores. Students satisfied with their scores mainly said they do plan on submitting and one student reasoned that “even though colleges have issued statements saying they are test optional… [I’m] still going to try to submit anything that can possibly give me a leg up in the admissions process.” On the other hand, many students who are not submitting scores shared similar reasoning. Many students shared they no longer feel the need to submit their scores due to the amount of schools that have gone test optional. Several students also shared their disappointment with the pandemic’s effects on their test scores. One student shared they won’t be submitting their score because they “feel that it is not reflected properly because I was only able to take it once and wasn’t able to again because they continuously got cancelled,” and another shared that they “really wish I could retake it in a
safe environment but I can’t.” The survey also revealed a definite division in student opinions on whether schools should be accepting scores, with only a slight majority of students saying yes. Most students who said yes reasoned that it would be unfair not to take scores because it would discount the hard work of students. However, many of them also mentioned that scores should not be as much of a factor as previous years due to the pandemic. There was common reasoning among the students who said no as well. Many raised points on the equity of standardized testing, with one student calling the tests “another process of the college application system that gives rich kids the advantage.” Others brought up points on how students may feel unsafe taking the tests at this point and also general statements on how accurate standardized testing really is of a students intellect: “One could be an A+ student in the classroom but be unsuccessful when it comes to taking a 3-4 hour test and get a score that does not truly represent how educated they are.” Throughout the responses most students on either side acknowledged the points of the others, conveying how at these times of uncertainty, many are still formulating their opinions on what is an important and polarizing topic. Currently, there is not much clarity as to how students and schools should be handling standardized testing. There remains a plethora of opinions on the fairness and safety of these tests and over the course of the next few months, colleges and universities will have to look into how different factors such as wealth, disabilities, resource access, and more factor into their final decisions. Only time will tell what short and long-term changes will come with this unique and unsolved situation.
Starting a Tutoring Program: My Experience BY MICAH SCHUCHMAN For students, summer is a sacred time to escape from routine and explore new things. Trips, programs, camps, internships are all eagerly anticipated starting early spring, when kids get their first taste of summer in the form of warmer weather. COVID-19 and its accompanying cancellations popped all bubbles of anticipation by the time the summer of 2020 rolled around. However, the timely emergence of the virtual conferencing program Zoom was able to salvage some of these programs and events. One such program, a local program for students in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area, was the Lazarus Leadership Program. This program enables students in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area to work on a 200hour community service project. I was one of the fellows during this program, and I, along with the other fellows, did some productive work. My particular project involved me and three other Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students creating a free virtual tutorship program for students in grades K-12 in the core subjects. We hypothesized there was a need for this service, as the one-on-one tutoring prices in this area are extremely pricey and often the students who most need tutoring are the ones who can’t afford the high costs. HowGRAPHIC BY SYDNEY THEIS
ever, we did not anticipate the influx of students we got. Within the first couple weeks of our posts on various local listservs, students from 30 different schools from all across Maryland signed up. I took on three students, a 6th grader needing help with basic math, a 2nd grader needing a reading buddy, and a 10th grader wanting to start Spanish for the first time in the fall and wanting a head start. After getting to know all these kids (if you think about it, due to COVID-19, we may have been the only social interaction that these students had for months), I was able to comprehend the timely nature of this tutoring program. I recall a conversation I had with the 6th grader as she was struggling to work through a long division problem: The concerned student asked me “Isn’t this a 5th grade subject?” (she’s a rising 6th grader). I answered, “Why do you ask Jane*? Were you taught it?” She replied, “Well, my teacher mentioned that we were going to learn it, but when coronavirus hit and we left school, she wasn’t able to teach it to us.” By the end of our time together, Jane was thankfully able to grasp long division, and had learned to avoid counting on her fingers during basic multiplication problems. I’m glad I was able to help her, but how many other Janes are there? How many students will have fundamental gaps in
their educational toolkit due to COVID? Online learning can only do so much. It lacks the subtleties that allow teachers to teach effectively, such as being able to read the room’s body language, identify a student that is disengaged or having problems with the lesson, or being able to walk around the classroom and see how their students approach their assigned problems. When we return to in-person school, teachers need to establish relationships with students in order to fully assess how the pandemic has affected them during this prolonged absence. They will need to actively seek out the students who have fundamental gaps in their education, and support them with one on one help (either providing themselves or collaborating with tutoring programs). If no such measures are adopted, while the ripple effect COVID-19 would produce on students won’t show itself immediately, it will definitely hold back some students as they continue moving forward with their education. *Not her real name
Long Haul Symptoms: Lack of Motivation and Lots of Procrastination BY KADIJAH BAH When students across the nation first got notice that their fall learning would continue online (or with a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning), things seemed like they would be just fine. Students were able to approach academics during the unexpected and unprecedented coronavirus pandemic with an open mind. Abigail Williams, a senior doing hybrid learning at Oppenheim Ephratah High School in New York, recalls, “At first I thought it would be easy… this was not the case.” Kristen Brodie, a senior doing virtual learning at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, also remembers that learning initially seemed to be trouble-free. “In September when we transitioned into a fully virtual mode, for a few weeks I felt I had stability with my school schedule and day to day routine. I actually enjoyed it for a good amount of time but a few months in, this changed.” The real challenges came slowly, but surely. As schools began to dive deeper into the curriculum and the chances of soon returning to a full in-person schedule became increasingly slim, students began to lose their drive and bad habits started to develop. Charlotte Bell is also participating in virtual learning as a senior at B-CC High School. “I definitely think I’ve had a lack of motivation due to online schooling,” she admits. Unfortunately, Bell isn’t the only one who struggles with finding motivation to do work virtually. Brodie reveals, “Through the transition into virtual schooling, I’ve found myself not wanting to pay attention when in Zoom classes and sometimes it will even take a lot for me to open my computer and type in the Zoom login code, as funny as that might sound.” Ivan Brajković, a junior also taking part in virtual classes at B-CC High School, mentions that, “Even though I know that I need to do the work, it feels optional.” He elab-
orates by adding that, “At the end of the day I always complete [them] but assignments just feel like something I need to check off and not something to learn from.” Additionally, in a survey of 56 High School students, when asked what has been the hardest part of virtual learning, 79% said that lack of motivation was one of them, while 75% also said procrastination was one of the hardest parts. While most students seem to struggle with having no motivation, the reasons as to why vary. Bell notes that, “I think since I’m learning in the same environment, and even the same room that I sleep and eat and slack off in I don’t feel the same kind of pressure.” Williams also has a similar reason. She expresses, “Home was comfy, while school was the place to do work. Without being there, I felt unmotivated.” However, Tabara Kaloga, a senior who is learning virtually at Laurel High School, has a different explanation: “I did many sports and activities that gave me the motivation to get good grades. If I didn’t get good grades, then I couldn’t play the sport,” she states. “Since that was taken away because of the pandemic, I struggled to find the motivation to do my work.” Paula Ambit, a senior at B-CC, adds that , “I have nothing to really look forward to, which makes me lack motivation.”She also says, “I’m probably not going to go back and see my friends and teachers so I don’t really want to do the work.” When it comes to procrastination, many students agree that it is simply a byproduct of the lack of motivation. However, Ava Bamji, a junior at B-CC, also gives an additional reason: “I procrastinate because I am so tired of looking at a screen.” Procrastination and low motivation were always problems present with students, but the pandemic seems to have exacerbated these issues. Consequently, many students have recently strug-
gled with understanding the material they are learning, and some have even seen a drop in their grades. Brodie reveals, “It started to feel like school was optional and if I happened to not want to open my computer that day, the consequences wouldn’t matter as much. This caused me to get lower grades than I hoped for the first quarter, but in a way it was a wake up call…”. When it comes to Williams, she claims, “I can’t really tell you what I’ve actually learned this year.” Meanwhile, Bamji finds that one particular class has been harder to take online. “ I have struggled a lot with math,” she states.
As hybrid and virtual learning continue, the major question that emerges is what do we do about these problems? Sadly, students don’t think that there is anything that can be done to make learning online easier. “I just think this was bound to be difficult as is,” Brajković insists. Brodie argues the same, but with slight optimism. “I don’t think this will ever be easy, but can become more manageable if this continues.”
Regardless of the current situation, students still have hope and excitement about returning back to a normal learning experience. Bamji comments that, “I am looking forward to being able to communicate with my peers and work more closely with them.” For seniors who will be attending college next year, the biggest thing to look forward to is having a fun college experience where they have more choice in the classes they take. Brodie says, “I look forward to learning in a classroom with other students about topics that actually interest me rather than ones (classes) I
am forced to take. For example in college I want to explore writing, media, art, and get involved in clubs that focus on critical issues facing our world today.” The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of students’ learning, but their struggles often go overlooked. Along with the toll that isolation has taken on everyone’s mental health , students also have the additional worry about getting good grades and trying to learn, despite there being no motivation to do so. It is important to share this part of the narrative, as it lets
other students know that they are not alone. “ I feel like a lot of kids are struggling with the same things that i’m describing, but i really haven’t heard anybody other than my close friends speak out about this and it makes me feel really guilty…” Bell remarks. “ I want other students to know that if they’re slacking off or feel like they should be trying more and are weak for being affected by this, that is not the case, and it’s a normal reaction to this abnormal situation.” GRAPHIC BY SYDNEY THEIS
Ella Potter: Switching Schools During the Pandemic BY MIMI DANZIS AND KATE FITZGERALD
While this past year has been full of changes for everyone, some students like Ella Potter, a junior at B-CC, have experienced more change than others. Ella recently moved to Maryland from Illinois, and had to switch schools in the process. Moving schools during high school is difficult in itself, but the pandemic has made the process even more challenging. Potter went to a self-paced school for a semester before transferring to B-CC. This type of school did not work for her. For Ella, “Having a real teacher actually take the time to teach you is great and really helpful for [her] because that’s what [she] prefers.” While at a self-paced school, Ella explains that there was no obligation to go to class or do work on time. Switching to B-CC was helpful for her because “Having no option but to go to class and turn in work at a certain time is the kind of scheduled life that [she] craves and needs.” Ella feels as though
“Going to a self-paced school was a huge mistake” but “being in B-CC here and now is a great start to a better end.” Although she likes virtual B-CC much more than her previous self-paced school, part of her wants to be in-person for school. She thinks “it would have been easier to switch to in-person school because that’s what [she’s] used to.” To her “online feels distant” because during in-person school “you get to meet people in real life, make friends, join clubs, do school sports, have a real social life”. The other part of Ella, however, “probably wouldn’t want to go back in person, yet, only because it would be way more scary and nerve-wracking to actually have to face everyone in a new school.” This nervous feeling is eased by the fact that “[B-CC] is so large; no one would even notice that [she] was new.” B-CC is much bigger than her old school, which makes “the navigation of online school seems so much easier than [in-person school].”
Being online has also made moving a different experience. It can be a strange experience because “sometimes, [she] doesn’t really feel like [she’s living where she is] since [school is] online.” Virtual school “also makes [her] life seem less like a reality than being in person would.” Even though Ella can not experience everything that B-CC has to offer, she does “feel like [she’s] experiencing B-CC.’’ Back at her school in Illinois, they outright cancelled school and did not do any Zooms; this makes online learning at B-CC feel more like a community to her than her previous school. Even now, her old school does not use Zoom and in-person instruction has been going on for months. Ella thinks “It’s nice to feel ‘normal’; not really normal, but what is now normal since everyone else is doing it even though it’s weird; the new normal.” She hopes “things will go back to the real normal soon, but for now, [she’s] glad to be at B-CC.”
Positives of Isolation BY MIMI DANZIS AND KATE FITZGERALD
Although COVID-19 and school closures have brought many challenges for students, there have been some benefits as well. Many students have felt like the large amount of time alone has allowed them to grow. They have used this time to pick up new hobbies, discover more about themselves, and learn how to be successful in virtual school. Some have picked up hobbies to occupy themselves given all of this newfound time. Everything from making bread to painting. Phoebe Hall, a junior at B-CC, has spent a lot of time sewing. Hall has always wanted to try sewing but never learned until she “ended up having so much time on my hands.” She said that COVID-19 gave her “that extra push” to get her started. Fashion is also an interest that grew over quarantine and she mentioned that “sewing gave her a much cheaper way to explore fashion and clothing.” Hall has felt like sewing has been very positive and that she has “something to do that feels productive.” It also serves as a nice way of relieving stress from school because “it’s something [she] can do that isn’t on a screen and that doesn’t take much brain power.” Quarantine has presented new chal-
lenges to teenagers including having to make their own routines and learn how to complete their schoolwork at home. The results from a survey of MCPS high school students show that 93% of teenagers felt like they grew over quarantine, and most responded that they feel much more comfortable being alone after the pandemic. Many of those who responded to the survey said that they feel like quarantine forced them to learn how to be more self-sufficient. Kate Ward, a senior at B-CC said that before isolation she struggled with self-motivation. Ward felt like during isolation she “definitely had to learn how to motivate myself and she sometimes still struggles with it. But I’m much better at getting back into a routine after I fall off.” Another student, Siham Busera, said, “[the pandemic] taught me to be flexible with my routine and not feel overwhelmed if I don’t follow it.” One student responded anonymously and said “I had a routine set up for me with school and after-school activities.” But when the pandemic hit, it “helped me realize what things make me happy and what to set aside time for. As a result it has helped me stay motivated to do those things.” Another benefit to come out of quarantine is being
forced to learn how to be by yourself. This same person said, “The pandemic definitely helped me discover things to do to keep myself occupied and happy when I’m alone.” They went on to say that, “I’ve always used to be afraid of being by myself for too long, but now that time helps me stay grounded and at peace.” Some people also like online school better than in-person school, like Anabel Kay, a junior at B-CC. She said, “I have a better sleep schedule and more time to complete assignments.” It also gives her more free time because she tries to “complete [her] school work more efficiently so [she] has the option to do more things’’ after school. In-person school does not offer her the same opportunities “to balance school, sleep, and additional activities”. COVID-19 was the cause of many big changes in the world, from online school to the cancellation of many pivotal events, like prom or graduation. While the world was changing, people did as well. Many people used their free time to explore more about themselves and came out of isolation as different people. Out of all of the turmoil of the pandemic, we have seen some positive changes.
World Languages in Online Learning BY REBECCA LEWIS
Learning a foreign language has always been a struggle, and it takes a lot of effort on part of both students and teachers. However, a virtual learning environment causes even more challenges than seen in a typical classroom. Students fail to hold conversations in the language they are learning, which makes a big difference when it comes to their understanding. Lauren Levinson, says students “are given opportunities to speak in class but they are far less than what [they] would have in an in-person environment.”
Naomi Meyer, says that the in-class activities they “are doing are reading and writing based and there’s not a lot of ‘let’s just have a conversation.’” While some teachers are giving students time in breakout rooms to talk in the language they are learning, after answering a few discussion questions the conversation almost always shifts back to English. Meyer says she is still “learning new things and getting a chance to practice, but it’s not the same as it is in-person.” Many students are trying their hardest, but in this virtual environment, it’s hard to learn new things, especially a
language. David Lecours, says he “doesn’t feel [he’s] learned enough to truly grasp the concepts that are taught this year [because of the shortened] amount of time spent learning.” Typically students would have about four hours of in-class instruction a week plus homework, but this year it has been reduced to only 2 hours of instructional time. This brings up the question of are students prepared to take the next level of classes next year? Everyone is doing the best they can, but students are still struggling to learn and be prepared for the future.
Joey Doherty “I always have fun while photographing my friends. I enjoy my time behind the camera, where I can capture all the precious moments spent with the people I love.”
Tuesday became the new Saturday. Wednesday, the new Sunday. We look at the ups and downs of lives turned upside down. CURATED BY OLIVIA BRESNICKY, LOLA NORDINGER, AND GRAYSON O'MARRA; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Delivering for Those in Need process. The delivery routes are created by the dispatch coordinators. Current B-CC sophomore Sam Lev is a dispatch coordinator. When his summer plans were cancelled, he became heavily involved with Here2Help, volunteering as much as possible and helping it grow. As dispatch coordinator, he sorts through delivery requests and plugs them into a mapping software before sending this information to volunteers. “It’s just really nice to be able to reduce one of the many stressors that people are facing right now,” he said. Here2Help is entirely COVID-friendly and complies with social distancing guidelines. Every step of the way, masks and gloves are worn and there is never any physical contact. The process of getting food from farms, grocery
“The amount of support Here2Help has received from the community is just incredible.”
stores, and bakeries is carefully timed so bags are left outside for short periods before being picked up and then transported to the next location. The main goal of Here2Help is not just to provide people with food, but to remind them that there are people who are looking after them and their well being. Sam Lev commented, “The amount of support Here2Help has received from the community is just incredible.” Here2Help has been of great assistance to many families in the Montgomery County area since it was founded in March when coronavirus started affecting people’s ability to shop for and buy their own food. It has grown tremendously and will continue to expand and help others for the foreseeable future.
GRAPHIC BY KELSEA PETERSEN
BY NAOMI KALES When Montgomery County Public Schools closed due to COVID-19 safety measures in March, a then Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School senior, Lilly Behbehani, founded an organization called Here2Help. Here2Help is an all-volunteer organization that relieves families of food insecurity in Montgomery County during the unprecedented times caused by COVID-19. Families in designated areas can request food assistance from Here2Help once a week, and the food is delivered to them at their requested time. Donation sites in the Bethesda area create bags that are picked up by volunteers, many of whom are students, and delivered to the families. Each volunteer is provided with a pre-made delivery route to ensure an efficient
The Freshman Five BY JULIANA CAPIZZI AND MIA ROMANO
Five anonymous freshmen give their final takes as we close out the 2020-2021 school year. “My learning experience hasn’t been great this year. Being online for a whole year is something I never expected or prepared for. I’m used to learning in-person and seeing my teachers faceto-face. I am nervous about the jump to sophomore year, as I feel like I haven’t experienced a normal freshman year. This will be especially hard for me, coming from a small private school and
moving into a large public high school. I believe this school year could’ve been better in several ways. If the school was more active in the student’s mental health as well as social life, I think school would be more enjoyable. I’ve been doing outdoor track for the past few weeks. It’s been fun because of the fact that it’s in-person and I get to meet new people.”
“I’ve been back in in-person school for a couple weeks now, as my family has decided that it’s safe. It has been really great to be back mainly because I get to see all my classmates, some of whom I haven’t seen or talked to in over a year. Being able to actually be in class, have lunch with friends, and, in general, have interactions with other students is such a relief. When we were
completely online, it was really hard to not have the everyday socialization that we used to. Even apart from actual learning, I just felt so isolated being at home and doing the same thing everyday, as I’m sure many others did. I still think it should be at the top of our priorities to be safe, but I’m so excited to see things going back to ‘normal.’”
“As I approach the end of my ninthgrade year, I am still not able to accept that I am in high school. The things I really feel I missed out on have to do with friends, being able to walk to school, school ending super early, and open lunch. I didn't miss any of these things nearly as much earlier in the year, but having been deprived of them
for so long, I miss them now. Soon, I will have my first AP exam, which I am glad is virtual because it seems less stressful than in-person test-taking. I am looking forward to tenth grade. Hopefully, it can be like the freshman year I never truly had and all that I was looking forward to.”
“As this school year comes to an end I, like many students, reflect upon this year’s shortcomings and all the missed opportunities and solvable problems we experienced. I do go to in-person school and I feel that it really is so much better than Zoom. However, four days a week every two weeks will not make up for the A and B days as opposed to seven periods a day, nor does it make up
for our Check-In Wednesdays of fake instruction, fifteen minutes breaks to switch tabs, and, of course, our 8th period lessons designed to make up time. But the great thing about hitting rock bottom is there is nowhere left to go but up. And although I am angry right now, I will have a smile wider than imaginable when all is back to normal next school year.”
“As much as I would love to blame every awful experience, feeling, and moment of this past year on the pandemic, that would be a lie. I was never good at time management and often procrastinated. Online school has taught me the importance of self-motivation. The truth is, living in quarantine has pushed me outside my comfort zone, more than I ever could have expected. Last year, I lived in my perfect little bubble. But the hand holding is over.
This year, life got really messy. But the only way for me to take control of my life was to let it get a little out of control first. After facing the mental effects of this, I now work on time and without adults looking over my shoulder. So I am not nervous about next year because I’ve already gotten through the worst part and now have the tools to help me be successful.” GRAPHICS BY MIA ROMANO
Campus Hangouts BY RUBY BUCZKOWSKI Without in-person school in session, the halls of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School stay vacant and silent. Students are no longer gossiping about crushes, complaining about test scores, or buzzing about last night’s game. In the past, school spirit was always present at B-CC; from the athletes repping blue and gold on game days or the announcements broadcasting clubs’ achievements, we never forgot the pride of our school. In a time like this where we don’t even go inside the school, students might forget that feeling of high school or frankly what B-CC looks like. To fill this void, some students have found a way to feel reconnected to the school. Although the inside of B-CC is unoccupied, the surrounding area has become a hangout spot. Many students have taken the opportunity of remote school to turn the campus into a gathering place where groups can come together safely and reconnect with the school while doing so. One junior at B-CC spends some of her nights sitting in cars parked in the parking lot with her friends. She says that even something as simple as going to the parking lot helps the students feel a sliver of normalcy by being close to the school and being on the campus. “If the pandemic didn’t happen we would all be there right now so I think a lot of people go to try and make up for everything that they lost this year,” says the junior. Even though visiting B-CC is a fun way to see friends and feel connected to the school, it can also bring out nostalgia and sadness. The junior notes that going to “the B-CC campus makes me feel really sentimental because I think about what life was like before the pandemic… it just makes me sad to think about what I’m missing out on.” Another junior has also come up with fun activities to take advantage of the field and campus. In the warmer weather, she spent a lot of her time eating
dinner with friends on the bleachers, having picnics on the field, or sitting and talking in areas around the campus. The junior says she thinks the main reason B-CC has become such a hangout spot is because “it’s a great common meeting area… we used to all commute there everyday so it’s doable for everyone.” When asked what the differences
were between visiting the campus now and visiting the campus when school was in session, the junior remarks that “it’s very different visiting B-CC now… It’s always pretty weird to think about the fact that I used to spend a lot of time there because now it seems so foreign.” She barely remembers what it was like to walk the halls or spend time inside the building because of how long it’s been since school was in session; “B-CC now feels like more of a place to be rather than a place I have been.” The open field has also been a huge benefit to the students during the pandemic. Exercising is a great way to let
off steam and stress that all students have had recently and visiting the new field is a perfect place to escape from the computer screen students have been looking at all day. A senior says she visits the track once or twice a week to go on morning runs before school. She emphasizes how grateful she is “to be able to use the B-CC track even during such a strange and unprecedented year because it’s helped me stay active and stay connected with my friends.” During her weekly runs around the track and daily dog walks around the area, she’s seen a lot of students playing lacrosse, soccer, and other sports on the field. The senior recognizes how beneficial the track and field has been because it “allows for all sorts of outdoor activities to keep people sane when we spend so much time at home.” She believes that such a large number of people have been utilizing the field and other parts of the campus because “it is a pretty large space (so it can be COVID-safe when exercising proper precautions) and it is a place people feel comfortable. We are familiar with the school and it is a safe environment.” However, she does admit that it can feel weird to be there so frequently and not actually be attending school or be allowed to go inside. “It’s almost like the Sunday that never ended,” says the senior talking about the pandemic, “I often am at B-CC and feel I could go in and everything would be exactly as we left it. But at the same time, nothing is the same anymore and I don’t think it will be for a while.” Even though some nostalgic and longing feelings do come up when she visits the field and campus, she is overall appreciative that she can at least enjoy the beautiful field safely and happily along with the public and “hopeful that the field and campus will serve as great grounds for the classes to come after us.” PHOTO BY RUBY BUCZKOWSKI
Debate Life During COVID-19 BY LILAH TUCHBAND March 13th, 2020. A buzz filled the hallways of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. School had been called off for the next two weeks due to the coronavirus, and students excitedly chatted about their plans, using phrases like “vacation” and “early spring break”. The hallways were swarmed with students pushing past and shoving each other, eager to escape the building and enter a much needed break. Little did they know that they would not be returning in person at all that year, or even at the beginning of the following year. Many of these students happen to be involved in the school’s sports teams or clubs. Because of the pandemic, many of these organizations were unable to occur. However, B-CC’s debate team was able to continue their work with a few changes. The major change that B-CC’s debate team experienced was switching from in person to virtual meetings and competitions. Consequently, during practice, members were put into smaller breakout rooms instead of previously bigger groups. More students are able to listen and participate, creating a better group dynamic.
“During practice, members were put into smaller breakout rooms instead of previously bigger groups.” However, debating through Zoom also presents some challenges. According to debate member, Lily*, “you can’t read judges’ body language since it is virtual, so it’s hard to determine whether they are liking your arguments.” Particularly because judges
often position their cameras in a way where they are not fully in the frame, it is difficult to know whether or not one’s speech is resonating with them. Another participant, Samantha*, said, “it is a lot more detached. It’s harder to get into it since you aren’t there in the room arguing anymore.”
“It is a lot more detatched. It’s harder to get into it since you aren’t there in the room arguing anymore.” These structural changes had a great impact on people’s enjoyment levels. A consistent theme appeared throughout the answers of all interviewees; students were having less fun debating and felt disconnected, as if they were not as much of a team anymore. Abigail* pointed out how “debate is a lot more impersonal now. [Becoming virtual] has affected a lot of the contact with people and I think it is more isolating at times.” The effects of this loss of community are particularly disappointing to members of the debate team, as they used to have an amazing time. Abigail started debate her freshman year and loved it, especially “learning about new topics and going in depth about current events that [she] wouldn’t otherwise learn about.” Her fellow interviewees also mentioned this. Though COVID-19 is to blame, the students realized they were also partially at fault. If they had come together and collectively acknowledged these negative changes, they could have possibly found ways to make debate more fun and personal again. As a result, members adjusted their work habits. For many, debate became less of
a priority. However, for some, debate was still more interesting than school and thus became a higher priority. Debate has always been full of challenges. Teams are extremely rigorous. Students spend many nights researching and writing in order to prepare for the debates. This can be very time consuming and mentally straining. Lily reported dedicating 5-7 hours per week on debate during weeks where there are debate competitions. Competitions occur roughly once every month. In the times leading up to the actual debates, there is a sense of heightened anxiety and intense competitiveness. Abigail felt this her first year of debate in particular, as “it’s really hard to know what you’re supposed to do.” To help solve this, she believes “that having a mentor/mentee, like big/little in sports teams, should be a much bigger thing.”
“Having a mentor/ mentee, like a big/ little in sports teams, should be a much bigger thing.” Members of a debate team may participate regardless of gender, age, race, etc. Their success should be based on skill alone. However, research from Daniel Tartakovsky suggests that a bias based on gender exists. Evidence reveals that there is a win-loss gap between men and women; women are 4% less likely than men to win at preliminary debate rounds. Tartakovsky offers two explanations for this. According to his research, “past judge discrimination forces women into a lower bracket.” He has also found that females in high school debate leagues are less likely to continue than males.
GRAPHIC BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Several members of B-CC’s debate team have experienced gender discrimination and bias during debates. Lily recalled being “called a b*tch several times and described with very gendered terms, [such as] shrill or hysterical… I’ve also been sexualized by both my opponent and judge and hit on during an actual debate.” Samantha, whose debate partner is also female,
said they “have been shushed, talked down to, and even been told [they] were too aggressive by a judge. During the same debate, two guys shushed us and started yelling at us.” For this reason, she concludes that certain judges seem to have lower etiquette standards for males than females. With the existing difficulties of gender bias and heavy workload and the added
difficulties of staying motivated and connected, some students in debate are struggling. However, Abigail reminds herself to continue working hard and giving it her all. She says, “I do it for myself and take my own attitude with it.” *All names have been changed
Teen Romance in the BY JD GORMAN CONTRIBUTIONS BY ANONYMOUS It’s March 2020 and a teenager who once faced the daily challenge of in person social interaction has now been presented with another obstacle: how to kill time in the seemingly endless monotony that is lockdown. Chris* sits on his bed, strumming a guitar to pass time as he tries to replicate and reinvent the loud shoegaze sound of “My Bloody Valentine.” If he turns the dials and stomps enough pedals, he might just get there. *ding* “Instagram notification: Xx.VickyBear.xX has sent you a message.” Chris looks at his phone, surprised and confused. Victoria was a friend of a friend and they had never spoken before. Maybe she checked out his new EP on Bandcamp and wanted to talk about it. He remembered their mutual friend, Balthazar*, had mentioned to him that she recently got out of a relationship. The pandemic and the social restrictions that have accompanied it have thrown a wrench in everyone’s lives. For high school students who were used to congregating by the thousands in poorly ventilated brick and mortar establishments, these long periods of solitude come as a challenge. This has affected teenagers in a myriad of ways but none more interestingly than our love lives. Teenagers in romantic re-
lationships have been on a decline. According to Child Trends, from 1976 to 2017 the percent of twelfth graders who report dating had dropped from 33 percent to just 14 percent. A separate study from the Pew Research facility says “35% of teens have some experience with dating or romantic relationships.” Of that 35 percent, 14 percent of them reported being in a serious relationship, 5 percent are in a relationship but not a serious one - some may refer to it as a “thing” - and 14 percent report not currently dating. Overall, we see a decline in the social capital given to a committed relationship amongst teenagers. With the rise of hookup culture these statistics are not surprising. However, with the pandemic putting an end to basement pong parties and messy hookups in the bathroom, teenagers are taking a different outlook on relationships. At the beginning of lockdown Victoria had recently gotten out of a relationship and quickly turned to her friend asking if there was anyone else out there. “I just wanted to have fun and get my mind off my previous breakup,” she said. With a large crossover of mutual friends it only made sense that her and Chris eventually got introduced to each other. What would have normally happened in person at a party or “kickback” now had to be pushed to an online setting.
Taking the initiative she slid in his DMs and what started off as something to get her mind off of an ex has become her coronavirus romance story. With little data for how the pandemic has affected teenage love lives, we can only go by what we are seeing in front of us and what we knew before. With the social capital that relationships once brought on a decline we must ask ourselves, what is taking its place? Could it be academic pressures taking priority? Perhaps it’s the rise in hookup culture eliminating the perceived need for them. But with the current social arena that the pandemic provides, all previous data points and trends are thrown out the window. I have seen people fall into long committed relationships within the pandemic at the same rate that I have seen once long committed relationships crumble. For this extra time together with your significant other and lack of other distractions might not always be the best for every couple. “COVID inherently played a role in every decision we made,” Anna* noted when thinking back on the demise of her relationship. Anna had been in a long term relationship since before COVID began, but soon after lockdown hit her state and the full effects of the pandemic started to set in, flaws of the relationship became apparent. “I remember it being very blindsiding, so that makes me think it was very good before COVID.”
Age of COVID-19 Both her and her partner were used to being busy during the school year but COVID-19 restrictions took away all the distractions she once had. This forced Anna and her partner to confront any flaws that were at the foundation of the relationship. “Not fighting is a sign that something is wrong. You aren’t being fully upfront with how you are feeling.” In relationships, we all want different things. Our hope is that we find someone whose interests, desires, and passions are met and complemented at the right moment in our lives. This is an ever changing dance that two people can try to adapt and grow together or split off and dance on their own for a while before possibly finding another partner. For many, the pandemic provided a large change, forcing everyone collectively into a different point in their lives. It was no longer your senior year. It became your coronavirus experience, and with this change came a change of desires and wants. For Anna, this prompted realization that being single is healthy for her. “I’m a busy girl” and with one less thing to put time and effort into she has more time to focus on herself. “I learned a lot of self love, I didn’t think it was necessary until I realized it was.” Figuring out your personal needs and how to best meet them is not only essential to relationships, but it is
essential to navigating our complex lives. While some people may work better on their own, others find that companionship is an important part of their needs. With COVID-19 restrictions resulting in Victoria’s past relationship coming to an end as well she was faced with the same question Anna had. What do I want? As Anna found her needs met in time for herself and deeper connections with friends and family, Victoria looked to find something to get her mind off of the breakup.
“I don’t know if we would’ve even started dating if it weren’t for quarantine.” “I wasn’t expecting to get into a relationship.” However, regardless of expectations she soon found herself back in one. While at first she may have been looking for an innocent hook up to take her mind off of it all, COVID restrictions must have played a part in keeping them together. “I don’t know if we would’ve even started dating if it weren’t for quarantine.” Without the normal social scenes of parties, kickbacks, or any other gatherings, opportunities of distractions from the romantic side of pre-
vious relationships become slim. Looking for multiple hookups becomes a dangerous game of COVID roulette. Anna recalls the early uncertainty of the pandemic and how it was taboo and a danger to interact with anyone outside of your immediate family. “I would leave my house and feel like I am putting my family’s life at risk.” This presented a problem before the breakup. Anna and her partner would have hesitancy to see each other at all due to the scary realities of COVID. This social isolation has been common for everyone in any area heavily affected by the pandemic. Restricted to seeing just those in our house has in some cases confronted us with only our thoughts to entertain us. Many of us are struggling to meet our needs. Some find it in solace and giving themselves “me time” and others have realized that relationships with others are what work best for them. Regardless of the solution, the issue is the same; how can I fulfill my needs? The hope at the end of the day is everyone’s needs are fulfilled, hopefully to no detriment of anyone else of course. “I am a better person now than I was before,” Anna said, “I am a healthier person now, I am a stronger person now, everything bad is a learning experience.”
In a year when many everyday matters were put on hold, many of us (re) discovered what truly matters. CURATED BY SAMMER HAJHAMAD; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
“My aim with photography is always to convey a feeling. I want to capture this moment in time - the good and the bad - because even if it doesn’t feel like it, at some point this will all be over.”
Why We Must Abandon White Feminism: The Importance of Intersectionality BY LAURA JULIA FLEISCHMANN As Fannie Lou Hamer once said, "Nobody's free until everybody's free." This quote is especially prevalent today and vitally important to intersectional feminism. Coined in 1989 by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, the term intersectional feminism is an approach to feminism that understands how various systems of oppression overlap to create distinct experiences for people with multiple identities. On the con-
trary, white feminism is feminism that only center’s the voices and experiences of white women and leaves behind women of color or other women from marginalized communities. The history of white feminism runs very deep in the United States. Despite what many of us have learned in history class, the women’s surage movement was ridden with racism. While there were partnerships between suragettes and abolitionists, suragettes of color
were left behind and excluded from important things like the Seneca Falls Convention and forced them to march in the back of the protests. It was clear the women’s surage movement’s leadership was meant to serve white women. In May 1851, Sojourner Truth famously gave her “Ain't I A Woman” speech which called out the exclusion within the movement.
Today intersectionality is as important as ever. Black, Indigenous, and Native Alaskan women experienced higher pregnancy-related deaths than all other racial/ethnic populations. Black women experience 4 times higher pregnancy-related deaths than their white counterparts. While Indigenous and Native Alaskan women experience 2.3 times higher pregnancy-related deaths than their white counterparts. Indigenous are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain counties in the United States. Additionally, LGBTQIA+, Jewish, Asian, and Muslim women are
disproportinatley impacted by hate crimes. These specific and unique challenges are overlooked by white feminism. However, they are analyzed, understood, and part of the conversation in intersectional feminism. As said best by Kimberlé Crenshaw, "If we aren’t intersectional, some of us, the most vulnerable, are going to fall through the cracks." Essentially, if we fail to recognize the distinct issues that all different women face, we will not be able to not only create a safe space in feminism for everyone, but also get things done. Black activist and poet, Eva Lewis, in an article with Teen
Vogue said that, “Intersectionality is important to me because without it, I wouldn’t have a place in feminism. My unique experience in society wouldn't be validated anywhere, and I’d be forced to struggle alone.” That is why intersectionality is essential. White feminism leaves people behind, but intersectionality allows everyone a space in the feminist movement. To conclude with the words of bell hooks, “Feminism is for everybody." Let’s make that a reality. Want to learn more? Listen to Kimberle Creshaw’s podcast, Intersectionality Matters.
GRAPHIC BY CARMEN LOPEZ FERNANDEZ
Survivors @ B-CC BY NENE KEITA TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT
“He took advantage of me and harassed me at school. I didn't know what was going on. I thought it was normal.” “I walked past two male classmates sitting in the hallway. One of them grabbed my butt as I walked past. I turned around and screamed.”
"He didn’t ask if I was ready he just started to do it, I pretended to enjoy myself but I was in pain and I felt disgusting." These are just a few of the testimonies posted on the @survivorsatbcc Instagram account, which was created by a B-CC sophomore this past summer. With the rise of online social activism, @survivorsatbcc was one of hundreds of anonymous Instagram accounts created to document sexism and sexual violence in schools. The purpose of the account was to create a safe space for survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination” said the creator of the account, who was inspired by the @survivorsatwooton Instagram account. Just days after she created the account, she had already received hundreds of anonymous allegations, ranging from sexist comments to rape. “It showcased years of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination that were swept under the rug. In one summer, hundreds of students, alumni, and even teachers came forward to talk about these issues,” she said. According to a study done by the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 53 percent of high school girls are sexually assaulted by the end of their four years in high school. But girls are not the only victims, as the account also received
many submissions from male students at B-CC. “I’m a guy, and for a period of 6 years of my life I was constantly harassed and abused [...] from sexual comments to inappropriate touching, groping,” reads a testimony from the account. According to a junior at B-CC, the rise in students sharing their experiences of sexual assaults on accounts such as @survivorsatbcc could be due to the recent calls for racial injustice. “I think that because people or speaking more against racial injustice, and with the increase of @blackat___ accounts, it may have inspired people to speak up about issues of sexism and sexual assaults happening in our community, and inspire them to create an account like @survivorsatbcc,” he said. He also adds that the rise of social activism may have created a safe online environment where people feel supported enough to share their experiences. Tasneem Alim, a B-CC senior, believes that another reason for the rise may have been due to the #MeToo movement. This theory is also supported by many researchers, who believe that the #MeToo movement has brought much needed attention to the issues of sexual harassment and assaults and has provided a support system for victims of sexual assault and harassment.
"She was flirting with me, grabbing me and yanking on my arms to bring me closer to her throughout the night despite me showing no interest in her." Researchers believe that the #MeToo movement created an increase in
awareness of what constitutes sexual assault, allowing students to better understand their experiences. The movement gained popularity in 2017, which closely coincides with the rise of sexual assault reports in schools. Many researchers also question whether the rise of sexual assault reports are due to a rise in occurences of sexual assault. While B-CC’s administration and PTSA have publicly acknowledged the @survivorsatbcc account, many students are not satisfied with their response. “Educate people about sexism, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
"I have dealt with people asking me for nude pictures all the time. It is really hard to say no to these boys because they ask all the time." The account indirectly did this, but more needs to be done. Have presentations about what we can learn from the account. Just like what happened after the list incident,” said the creator of the account. In order to bring change, many obstacles need to be faced. According to the creator of @survivorsatbcc, the biggest obstacle is the community’s lack of willingness to change. She has read many submissions in which students mock the account and the experiences it highlights. “The community needs to be willing to change and be better for B-CC to become a better place. It starts with being willing to educate yourself. Things cannot continue like this. Rape accusations can’t be swept under the rug. Assault accusations can’t be ignored. Offensive comments can’t go without consequence. Offensive events can’t happen again. We need to do better.”
Discrimination and Hate Against the AAPI Community BY AARON TIAO
On Tuesday March 16th, 2020, Robert Aaron Long opened fire in three massage parlors in Atlanta killing eight people, six of whom were Asian American. The victims were Delaina Yuan, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Sun Cha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue. This heinous crime marked one of the worst acts of violence against the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community in decades.
“Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been a recurring theme througout the pandemic.” Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been a recurring theme throughout the pandemic. On January 28th, 84 year-old Thai immigrant, Vicha Ratanapakdee went on his daily walk at 8:00 in the morning after receiving the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As he walked through the Anza Vista neighborhood on the same route he had walked hundreds of times before, a man sprinted from across the street and violently pushed Vicha to the ground. He was rushed to the ER, but died two days later. Just three days later on February 1st, a man in Oakland California assaulted three Asian Americans between the ages of 55 and 91 years. And, on November 4th, three people allegedly threw eggs at an AAPI family’s home, yelled "white power" and told the people inside the home to "go back to where you came from... we're going to kill you all." These attacks are just a few out of the 3000+ hate crimes targeted at the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community since March 2020.
Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks incidents of hate and discrimination against the AAPI community in the United States reports that verbal harassment and shunning make up 88.6% of total incidents, physical assaults make up 11.1%, civil rights violations — e.g., workplace discrimination, refusal of service, and being barred from transportation — account for 8.5%, and online harassment makes up 6.8%. Similarly, a poll last April by the Center on Public Integrity found that 30% of all Americans and 60% of Asian Americans had witnessed someone blaming Asians for the spread of COVID-19. As violence against Asian American rises precipitously, it is important to note that discrimination and intolerance are nothing new to the community. “It’s a similar brand of discrimination to the one that marred some of our country’s darkest days and toughest fights, from segregation to immigration,” said Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth in the House Committee Hearing on Discrimination Against Asian Americans on March 18, 2021. Starting in 1848 during the California Gold Rush, an influx of Chinese immigrants began arriving in the United States in search of jobs. As the Chinese population in America rapidly increased by over 200 percent in the span of a year, so too did racial discrimination against them. In May 1852, California imposed a Foreign Miners Tax, collecting three dollars a month from Chinese miners. In 1854, the California Supreme Court ruled in People v. Hall that people of Asian descent could not testify against a White person in court, ensuring that crimes against Asian Americans would go unpunished. Although the Gold Rush ended in 1855, the discrimination against Asian Americans continued. The 1880s saw the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned both new and existing Chinese immigrants from
obtaining citizenship in the United States. During this time, the "Chinese Must Go" movement was so strong that Chinese immigration to the United States declined from 39,500 per year in 1882 to only 10 in 1887. Race-specific barriers against Asian Americans stayed in place until the Immigration Act of 1965. The most infamous case of discrimination and hate toward Asians in American history occurred between 1942 and 1945. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II, President Roosevelt signed an Executive Order, creating mass internment camps for the Japanese on the pretext of preventing espionage. Over 117,000 Japanese Americans, including 17,000 children under ten and several thousand elderly and handicapped, were forcibly taken from their homes and sent to internment camps. The majority of them were American citizens. Conditions at the camps were substandard; hot water was limited, barracks were furnished with only cots and coal-burning stoves, and the armed guards patrolling the camps had instructions to shoot anyone who tried to leave.
“The most infamous case of discrimination and hate toward Asians in American history occurred between 1942 and 1945.” In 1945, the camps were disbanded and, over 40 years later, the U.S. government paid out a mere 20,000 dollars in reparations to living survivors of the internment camps, hardly adequate compensation for the losses and hardships these innocent people had endured.
Even recently, before the pandemic, the AAPI community continued to be a target of discrimination. Aryani Ong, a civil rights attorney who works to address hate crimes against Asian Americans, provided the following insight into this continuing discrimination: “Historically we are a relatively newer community because the majority of us immigrated after 1965 and 74 percent of Asian Americans are foreign-born. So, people associate Asian-Americans with foreigners because the majority are first-generation immigrants.” She went on to say, “I think people do not perceive us as Americans, and that creates an otherness, which makes it easier for them to direct hate and intolerance toward us.” This sense of “otherness” surrounding the Asian American community has led to false narratives about the community, driving a wedge between them and the rest of America. One of these is the model minority myth, which perpetuates a stereotype that all Asians are well educated, well off, and poised to steal jobs from Americans. During the March 18th House Committee Hearing, actor and leading Asian rights advocate Daniel Day Kim explained that the term model minority “only came into existence as a means of comparing one minority to another, thereby pitting all communities of color against each other.” Now, with hate crimes against the Asian Americans becoming all too frequent, members of the AAPI community feel they need to be cautious and alert for attackers during their everyday life. Ting Ting Li, a Chinese-American Sophomore at B-CC expressed how the pandemic has affected her and her family’s restaurant, Sushinado & Teriyaki, in Hyattsville, Maryland. She recalls one instance in which she walked in on a confrontation between her parents
and a customer. “There was some built up tension when I arrived and when [the customer] left, she was yelling out stuff at us that I cannot repeat.” Although her family attempts to stay out of conflict by all means necessary and know where to turn if something does happen, she’s often fearful that situations like those could escalate at any moment and put both her and her family in danger. “It definitely has caused me to be a lot more fearful, especially when I am just walking out of my house or if I am in my parents restaurant. You never know if it is going to happen to your family, so it definitely has brought more caution and fear into my family's life.”
Ellie Murray Leroy, a Chinese-American senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and soon to be freshman at American University echoed this fear by saying, “I am afraid to go outside by myself now. I always try to be with a friend just in case... I don't want to be the next victim.” One of the biggest concerns for AAPI community leaders is that when schools reopen, the built up tension and hostility will lead to violence against AAPI students. “I do fear a rise of tension between me and other people... I will say [Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School] is not that diverse on the
Asian front so I don't know what will really happen at our school.” Ting Ting said, “But tensions definitely will rise in schools across the country.” She went on to explain how she has experienced microaggressions and stereotypes in the past, which makes her nervous for what will happen when students return to schools. Although the problem is out of the AAPI community's control, many Americans believe they are to blame for the COVID-19 pandemic. Ellie, like many others, has struggled to understand why all of this hate and violence was being targeted at the AAPI community. “It's not our fault, if you want to blame somebody it's the U.S. government's fault for not acting accordingly... they could have prevented this,” she said. Touching on this, Ms. Ong said that “people tend to scapegoat vulnerable populations when they are under stress, when they face economic woes, when they are...overwhelmed in terms of their job security.” She went on to say that the misinformation by elected officials foster this kind of scapegoating for political gains and place the blame on Asian Americans. The same idea was echoed by Representative Judy Chu during the House Committee hearing, as she explained that “[the hate crimes] were stoked by the words of former President Donald Trump, who sought to shift blame and anger away from his own flawed response to the coronavirus. He used racial slurs like ‘Wuhan virus,’ ‘China plague,’ and ‘Kung flu,’ despite the fact that the CDC and the World Health Organization warned not to associate the virus with a specific ethnicity, country, or geographic region due to the stigma it causes, hence, they named it a neutral term, COVID-19.” GRAPHIC BY KAYLA WHITE
During the same hearing, Erika Lee, the Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies, University of Minnesota noted how researchers found that “the anti-Chinese rhetoric promoted by leaders directly correlated with a rise in racist incidents against Asian Americans. President Trump, whose ‘Chinese virus’ comments were retweeted millions of times, was “the greatest spreader…of anti–Asian American rhetoric related to the pandemic." Unfortunately, this is hardly surprising. Creating false narratives and blaming the AAPI community for something that is not their fault has been a recurring theme in American history. Asian Americans sacrificed their lives in WWII; they were rewarded by being imprisoned in internment camps . Today, they risk their lives working on the frontlines as essential healthcare workers, and are being “rewarded” with hate crimes. This phenomenon must change. For generations, the AAPI community has been a victim of discrimination and hate, which has only been exasterbated by the government intended to protect them. As said best by Erika Lee, “The government of this country has not just ignored this problem. It has been part of the problem. Throughout much of our history, Congress and other elected officials have promoted and legalized anti-Asian racism through its laws and its actions.” Although it is long overdue, our government seems to be finally moving in the right direction. In a statement issued in the wake of the mass shooting in Atlanta President Biden said, “we condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing crisis of gender-based and anti-Asian violence that has long plagued our nation.” He went on to urge Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to respond and take action to help Asian American communities during this time. Additionally, he ordered U.S. flags to fly at half staff and travelled to Atlanta to meet with Asian American leaders. Following the Atlanta shooting, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing to address what happened. Many prominent Asian
American leaders such as Senator Tammy Duckworth, Judy Chu, and Daniel Day Kim testified before the committee in powerful statements pleading with Congress to protect the Asian American community. On March 11th, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representative Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) introduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to address the rise in violence against the AAPI community by providing resources to federal, state, and local governments to respond to hate crimes against Asian Americans. The legislation is cosponsored by 15 senators and 55 members of the House of Representatives. As per a press release from Senator Hirono, the COVID 19 Hate Crimes Act does the following, among other things: Expedites review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/ or local law enforcement; Provides guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents, and expands culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns; and Issues guidance on mitigating racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic. Last but not least, this week, President Biden plans to appoint an AAPI senior advisor to “ensure the community's voice is further represented and heard.” said Jen Psaki, President Biden’s spokeswomen. By having a top advisor to the President voice the concerns of the AAPI community, the problems they face will no longer be overlooked or dismissed. It is an important step in protecting and stopping discrimination for the AAPI community. For the first time since the 1800’s, the needs and concerns of the AAPI community are not being cast aside from the rest of America. Their problems are being noticed, and they are finally getting support from the government. But, the fight for justice for the AAPI community is far from over. We now have a starting point from which to build future efforts. However, to create real change, it has to be an all hands on deck effort; everybody needs to divein and do their part.
As Daniel Day Kim eloquently put it, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” For us to move forward as a country, we must stand behind our fellow Americans no matter where they come from or what they look like to ensure that the United States of America is truly a land of equality. Here are some immediate actions you can take to help out. -Support the victims and their families in Georgia by making a donation at the link set up by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, at bit.ly/DonateToGeorgiaAAPICommunity -National Vigil taking place on March 26th to remember the victims of the Atlanta shooting. On Friday, March 26th, the Korean and larger AAPI community nationwide will mourn together. You can get more information and register at www.326vigil.org. -For other ways to participate in the March 26th National Day of Action and Healing, visit www. AsianAmericanDayofAction.com, created by the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans. -Report any act of Anti-Asian violence or harassment that you experience or observe to StopAAPIHate.org, as hate crimes are vastly underreported by victims; -Go to the Anti-Asian Hate resource page of Asian Americans Advancing Justice if you would like to participate in a bystander intervention training or find other ways to support the AAPI community in your area. -Article that includes helpful background information and links to ways to help: https:// apple.news/A6bCcRyKrQfOC6422oXTs2Q -Support local AAPI organizations that provide in-language and culturally competent support to victims.
Rising Above the Pandemic
BY SAMMER HAJHAMAD During the pandemic most teens picked up new hobbies such as skating. However organizer Avery Smedley is like no average teen. She spent the past few months building her organization Students Towards Equitable Public Schools (STEPS), making it a household name within Montgomery County. Although Smedley admits to having found the “positive aspects” of the pandemic, she also says that, “it was really hard for me because I'm a very extroverted person. I get my energy from being around other people and it was really hard not to see anybody. But, of course I stayed inside. Nonetheless, I've also been trying to find
the silver linings.” Her wins seemed to outweigh her losses, as due to the pandemic Avery has been able to connect, “with organizers in California, Hawaii, even Germany, and Pakistan. It is really cool just to see what other social justice activists are doing. And especially in terms of education equity, because we've had joint national events”. Seeing how far she has come, when reminiscing back to STEPS’ first meeting, Smedley chuckles, and says, “It's funny, cause our very first event... It was in March and I distinctly remember driving to the library and putting up signs that it's canceled because of the pandemic. It was that week, I think that schools had closed.” Once again
Smedley was able to find a silver lining, as she says, “We did end up doing it virtually, and honestly I think there've been lots of benefits to that… our County is so vast, it's really hard to find time where everybody can get there and go back... I think it's given us a space to meet with more people.” Avery Smedley is now in her final year at Albert Einstein High School. At just the age 17, she stood up against the systems that have for far too long oppressed BIPOC students. She stood up against ingrained systems, adults, her peers, and most importantly the pandemic. Nonetheless, it is clear that no force can stop her, and so, what is next for Avery Smedley.
AVERY SMEDLY, PHOTOGRAPHED BY SAMMER HAJHAMAD
What ‘Defunding the Police’ Actually Means: An Interview with Dr. Shani Buggs BY NIKKI MIRALA Our nation has witnessed a long history of discrimination against black Americans embedded in our political, economic, and social structure, but these past few months in particular have brought to light America's long overdue awakening to systemic racism in our nation. Recently, we have all seen and heard about racial bias and the growing need for police reform to make policing more accountable.
The defund and abolish movement is not about individual police officers, but rather about the entire institution of policing which is what many fail to understand. This has grown the movement to step beyond reform to shift law enforcement entirely through defunding and even the abolition of policing. However, the phrase “defunding the police” has stirred up enormous controversy. Many view it as a highly radical approach, but this is primarily due to the fact that many are unaware of what the phrase truly means and the steps to approach it. The club BCC4GunControl invited Dr. Shani Buggs from the University of California, Davis Violence Prevention Research Program to explain the issue at hand and steps to tackle it. In her presentation, Dr. Buggs explains how there are six key reasons as to why we should defund the police. Those being historical concerns and their current impact, the lack of police capability to respond to needs, misaligned budget priorities, fear of police, mistrust in police, and limitations of
reform. Concerns about historical and current structures and ideologies within policing relates to “the fundamental concerns that policing ever was or is currently built to protect all citizens of the United States due to the structures and ideologies within the institution,” said Dr. Buggs. The defund and abolish movement is not about individual police officers, but rather about the entire institution of policing which is what many fail to understand, according to Dr. Buggs presentation. “Not only was the institution of policing started as a means to control and oppress black bodies in the form of slave catchers and property protectors for white Americans, but it has continued to operate as an apperatice of terror and racist opression for many Americans,” said Dr. Buggs, further explaining how “law enforcement was complicit and indifferent to the lynching, beating, and terrrorising of Black Americans during the Jim Crow Era and the decade since.” Today, we continue to witness disproportionate rates of police incarcerable violence against Black and Brown individuals. Furthermore, there are extremely concerns about discrimination and racism that simply go unchecked within numerous police departments. Additionally, there has also been increasing realization both within and outside that police are not equipped to handle all the social and economic ills to which they are expected to respond to. Dr. Buggs explains how less than 1% of all calls for violent crime coming into Montgomery County are for violence. “A substantial number of 911 calls to which police respond involve issues of homelessness, substance abuse, behavioral health crises, and situations that are not violent, and yet what tools do police generally have in their tool belts to respond to these events?” asked Dr. Buggs. “They have a badge of authority, they have handcuffs, they have tasers, batons, and guns,” said Dr. Buggs, emphasizing how police are ill-equipped to respond to community needs.
Since the summer of this year many have become “increasingly aware of the misalignment in government spending,” said Dr. Buggs, “and they are discovering that especially during times like this when the pandemic is forcing governments to make extreme cuts to their budgets, the budgets of police to a lesser extent remain largely intact while other services are being cut.” What many of those against the ‘Defund the Police’ movement are not aware of is the vast budget that police departments have. Defunding the police does not mean dismantling the system entirely, but rather reducing the budgets of police departments and redistributing those funds towards more essential services that are often underfunded, such as education, mental health services, housing, and more. Many encourage reform rather than defunding, but the concept of reform has not proven to be successful. Dr. Buggs gave the example of the Minneapolis Police Department, explaining how the police department had already instituted most of the policies commended by police reform experts around the country, “and yet George Floyd was killed by the police department in front of our eyes.”
Educate yourself and those around you. Dr. Buggs states that the best way to get involved in the ‘Defund the Police Movement’ is to “look in your backyard and see who is doing work in your community that aligns with what your thoughts are.” Work alongside those individuals to immerse yourself within the movement to make structural change and work towards justice reform. Educate yourself and those around you who might not be as familiar with the issue at hand because within this movement transparency is key as Dr. Buggs states.
Police Brutality IS a Montgomery County Problem BY LAURA JULIA FLEISCHMANN Kwamena Ocran. Finan Berhe. Robert White. Emmanuel Okutuga. These are all names of Black men killed by the Montgomery County Police Department in the past few years. After the horrific murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, people across the country and the world protested against systemic racism and the history of police brutality in the US and around the world. Montgomery County students attended protests, vigils, signed petitions, and took action. Despite this, many Montgomery County residents still think of police brutality as a Mineappolis issue or a Louisville issue - not something that impacts our county each day. Often, I have heard people say “that is a serious issue in our country, but it doesn’t happen here.” That couldn’t be more wrong. To detach police brutality from being a Montgomery County problem, is to be ignorant and comply with police brutality. According to the most recent Montgomery County Police Annual Use of Force Report, in 2019, there were 553 uses of force from Montgomery County Police. This number is an increase of two percent from 2018. According to
WTOP analysis of the report, in 2019, “Silver Spring, Wheaton and Gaithersburg saw increases in the number of reported police use-of-force incidents in response to resistance from 2018, while Rockville and Germantown reported decreases. Bethesda’s rate remained the same.” The report shows that the leading contributing factors associated with uses of force are first use of alcohol, second mental illness, and then drugs. The fact that Montgomery County citizens undergoing a mental health crisis are met with force by our police is an atrocious reality we must face. Additionally, the report clearly demonstrates that Black Montgomery County residents are disproportionately victims of use of force from our police officers. Looking at specific incidents, in the case of Kwamena Ocran, according to the Washington Post, the Gaithersburg Police Department “does not require plainclothes officers to wear body cameras, so there is no body-camera footage of the shooting or pursuit.” Ocran was allegedly in possession of a handgun. We must train officers in de-escalation. Displaying a handgun shouldn’t be a death sentence. In regards to a separate incident on March 3rd of 2021, the
Washington Post reported that Kevin Moris “A Montgomery County police officer seen on video slamming his knee into a handcuffed suspect nearly two years ago was cleared of his misdemeanor assault conviction on Wednesday and will retain his position with the department.” If our police officers are able to go back to their positions after being convicted of assault, that is a change we must make. However, some progress has been made. In September of 2020, an 80 person task force began assessing racism in Montgomery County law enforcement. Additionally, in 2019, the Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency (LETT) Act was signed into law which requires an independent and transparent investigation into a police officer-involved death. There is also the comprehensive yearly report on use of force published by the Montgomery County police since 2002 for transparency. Yet, there is much work left to be done to fight this issue plaguing our county. To continue to do this, we all must be aware that this is a Montgomery County problem and work together to fight it. GRAPHICS BY NORA FAIRBANKS-LEE (LEFT) AND KELSEA PETERSEN (RIGHT)
The Rise of Anti-Semitism: BY RAEMI CHARLES The Anti-Defamation League reported the highest amount of antisemetic incidents on record in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia in 2020 with an 126% increase in D.C., an 135% increase in Maryland, and a
75% increase in Virginia, all despite a 4% decline nationally. According to the Montgomery County Police Department, 85.7% of the incidents against a particular religion were against Jewish people despite Jewish people only
making up 10% of the population. So, where do we go from here? I decided to ask some local Jewish youth.
Maeve Sanford-Kelly Walter Johnson HS Junior & Chair of Maryland High School Democrats (‘21-’22) “It’s often people who don’t have a rooted understanding of the conflict or of the region who just start spewing this casual hatred at Jewish people in a way that is so hurtful and dismissive.” Sanford-Kelly is the President of WJ Young Democrats, current Legislative Affairs director of Maryland HS Democrats, and daughter of an Israeli. Sanford-Kelly is in a unique position as she has Israeli citizenship but is comfortable criticizing the country and has never been able to visit. “My father grew up in Israel. Much of my family... live there but I’ve actually never gotten the chance to go”. Her love for Israel “doesn’t mean I love all the actions of the Israeli government [as] I am... opposed to a lot of the policy goals of the
current government.” When asked about antisemitism dialogue, she explained that “Jews in my community talk a lot about antisemitism and make an effort to call it out but I rarely hear non-Jewish people take a stand against antisemitism beyond maybe posting an Instagram graphic.” She continued to share how “people sort of cast us into the ‘model minority’ myth and decide that there’s no prejudice against us and no reason to stand up for us because we couldn’t possibly be discriminated against. I think the other side of this is just the rampant antisemitism rooted in so much of the American discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” As a supporter of a two-state solu-
tion, Sanford-Kelly is scared most by the “complete disconnect especially among so many of my peers on the left where people decide based on whatever that they’re going to have a completely heedless perspective on the conflict and fall into these antisemitic traps in the name of justice.” However, as an activist, she thinks “a lot of Jews who are deeply passionate about justice are [wrongly] hesitant to speak out about antisemitism because we see our issues as ‘lesser’.” “Too often I have conversations with people who try to excuse or justify their antisemitism and I think it’s important for people to think critically at their own prejudices within the historical context that formed them.”
Anonymous Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS Senior “I, as a supporter of the Black Lives Matter cause and a Jewish person, am very excited to contribute to the historical collaboration.” She is also part of a minority of Jewish people, being Irish and Italian, but what affects her perspective most is being an activist and a MCPS student. She criticizes the school system, though, sharing that “absolutely none of my education on antisemitism has come from MCPS.” She is especially disappointed that “the only anti-semitism mentioned in any of my classes has been the Holocaust during my last semester of IB European History, a class that only a small fraction of the school takes.” However, education on antisemitism isn’t the only thing she’s thinking about
with regard to antisemitism in education, saying that her “college search has really taken into account the presence of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement which is so sad because it eliminated so many beautiful schools.” Although she doesn’t support BDS, she “absolutely see[s] the flaws and humanitarian issues, but more so see[s] the importance of a Jewish state,” arguing that “No other countries created after World War II are in danger of being changed and due to extreme antisemitism in surrounding/nearby countries, there absolutely needs to be a safe space for the Jewish people,” “Israel also is extremely advanced in medicine thereby benefiting countries across the world.”
She has also seen the effects of MCPS’ lack of education on antisemitism as she stated “in the rare times in my life that it has been talked about, it is always Jewish people that bring it up which makes me feel like Jewish people are the only ones who care”, also explaining that “that the lack of dialogue on antisemitism is a vicious cycle where because nobody hears about it, nobody talks about it.” She continued to speak on why antisemitism is still so present near and far, believing “people don’t see enough Jewish people as victims of antisemitism… and there aren’t enough Jewish people, in general, to raise attention to enough people.”
Young Jewish People Respond Gabrielle (Gabby) Antonelli Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS and University of Maryland Graduate “Power is knowledge and the more you know the more you can help!” As someone of both Italian and Jewish descent, Antonelli is part of a small minority. Antonelli’s outlook on Israel during her multiple trips to Israel throughout her life have developed, starting as a rising sophomore at B-CC with families from her temple and as a junior study abroad student from B-CC where she “really got to know the country and absolutely fell in love with it and what it meant to the Jewish people to have a Jewish homeland.” After her sophomore year at UMD, she went on birthright which she says “might have been the first time where I felt like I became a little more critical of the state of Israel and what goes on there.” She stayed for two-months after the normally 10-day trip for an
internship. Being “a little more grown and having grown up in an area with a big Jewish presence [before] going to UMD where there are more differing views (i.e. BDS), [she] was definitely more aware of some of the challenges the country faces when it comes to equality between Israelis and Arabs or Palestinians.” Commenting on parallels between Israel’s struggles and those we face in the U.S., Antonelli stated “Most countries, including the U.S., face problems with systemic racism and inequality, although that doesn't excuse what goes on there and I believe it's important to hold every country accountable for their actions... I still support the state of Israel as the Jewish homeland and still love the country, the people, the culture… but that doesn't stop me from
advocating for it to improve many of its policies and actions.” Her view on stereotypes has been affected by her lack of stereotypical Jewish features, so she hears a lot of “well you don't look Jewish’” which is a stereotype in itself. Antonelli also shared that “people assume things about me because of my religion - have a lot of money, being stingy, don't eat certain foods, act a certain way.” She then shared that, needless to say, it “really bothers [her].” Gabby asks for people “to speak out for us.” “I think sometimes it's hard to be an ally or people are scared to be an ally when they don't know that much so just keep educating yourself and don't be scared to ask questions about Judaism and the Jewish community.” GRAPHIC BY DELILAH SEAMEN
Our community has the privilege of having voices from various demographics. There is so much more to local, domestic, and international antisemitism and I encourage you to do your research and educate peers. Conversing with those you disagree with and people who are involved in the issue on both sides will always find you common ground. As we come of age, it will become more important to hear from all marginalized groups and recognize bias in sources.
Carmen Phillips-Alvarez “There’s just something so fun about being able to capture my friends’ beauty and happiness and freezing them in time. Especially when next year we’ll all be separated from each other, I find it calming to know I’ll always remember them through my photography.”
It’s not exactly clear which historical figure first said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” But, we know teens who sure took the sentiment to heart during the pandemic. CURATED BY WILLIAM HANLEY; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Coming Out The LGBTQ+ Teen Experience in 2020 and During the Pandemic BY ANONYMOUS Picture this: you’re getting on the public bus and are greeted with some usual sights. People with earbuds in, staring at their phones or laptops. As you walk towards the back of the bus to grab an open seat, a boy wearing pastel-colored clothing isn’t staring at his phone, but out the window. You can hear the music quietly leaking out from his earbuds, and you recognize the song: it’s the outro to Self Control, a fan favorite song from Frank Ocean, an R&B singer with a ravenous community of fans. However, you don’t give this any second thought as you place down your bags and sit in the seat. You pop in your own earbuds and put on your favorite Taylor Swift album, the thought of the boy already slipping from your mind. This boy, like many others his age, has some identity issues he’s struggling with that are affecting his mental health. He’s dealing with the typical pressures of scrutinizing peers, changing friend groups, and academic competition, but he also has to deal with something extra: his sexuality. The thought of being bisexual has been in the back of his mind for years, but he’s pushed it away as a result of the homophobic conditioning he’s had growing up, resulting in years and years of self-doubt. This teen, while a fictional symbol, represents the conflicts that many LGBTQ+ teens face, and has been amalgamated from both my personal experience and experiences I’ve seen in other teens, including my interviewees. On the topic of interviews, a quick note: I interviewed three different LGBTQ+ teen boys for this story. A great deal of personal information is going to be
shared, and so I’ve changed the names of my interviewees (as well as my own name) to preserve peoples’ privacy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this identity struggle has been both a blessing and a curse for LGBTQ+ teens. Many have had a familiar experience with their sexuality, with that nagging voice in the back of their mind never quite shutting up since their pre-teen years. While this struggle has seemed to have negative consequences in previous years, the pandemic’s unique circumstances have highlighted the mental strength that these teens have gotten from feeling isolated and insecure for so long.
“The pandemic's unique circumstances have highlighted the mental strength that these teens have gotten from feeling isolated for so long.” There hasn’t been much data published on LGBTQ+ teens, even before the pandemic. From what we do have, though, things seemed pretty good for our group, at least when compared to previous generations. A 2010 study performed by the British LGBTQ+ organization Stonewall, and later featured in The Guardian, said that the average age people were coming out was decreasing greatly. In
the study, there were striated samples taken of over 1,500 participants of varying ages. In their 60+ year old category, the average age they had come out was at 37, while in the 18-24 age range, it was at 17. Things have been slowly getting better for the LGBTQ+ community, but society still isn’t without its prejudices. A study by Yale Medicine in 2019 says that “an estimated 83 percent of those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual... keep their orientation hidden from all or most of the people in their lives.” Coming out is a huge sign of someone’s independence, confidence, and courage in the LGBTQ+ community, and this study shows that there’s still a long way to go to make these teens feel accepted. On the other hand, as we saw before, many teens have been used to this constant fear of judgement for so long that the pandemic is no big deal. John* is one of the people who exemplifies the traits associated with being out that I described above. He’s 17, has a great sense of humor, and is incredibly, uncompromisingly sure of what he wants. He loves fashion, music, and most importantly, himself. From talking to him, it was apparent that he’s been very comfortable with his sexuality for a while now, but it took some time to get that way. Coming out for him wasn’t as momentous as he’d expected. “I was unsure in elementary and middle school. I just remember thinking Drake from Drake and Josh was hot.” He mentioned that he had come out not once, but twice, the first time as young as third grade. The second time was more serious, and more awkward, but his parents said “they would always love me.”
One thing that struck me was the maturity with which he discussed his identity struggle, as if it was no big deal and it didn’t deserve much thought. “I don’t really care - I’ll tell pretty much anyone if they ask, but it’s unnecessary to always say that you’re gay.” For many teenagers, this type of self-assurance is enviable, since John found his place without needing to test his sense of belonging by talking about himself constantly. One facet of his laidback perspective was concerning labels; “I really don’t like the labels. They stress me out,” he told me. “I feel like what happens happens…Labels are just a social construct. We gain nothing from putting those labels in place.” Growing up in today’s environment, it’s expected that everyone stays up to date on the latest politically correct terminology, which for some can be exhausting. To John, the labels just weren’t worth the effort and he said that he always surrounded himself with understanding people that he feels comfortable explaining himself to. Another boy, Eric*, also had a similar viewpoint on labels. An avid musician and also a fashion enthusiast, Eric told me that he finds it “exhausting to catalogue every part of my identity… it’s gonna be whatever I call it so it doesn’t really matter.” When I asked him how he talks about sexuality, he said something very insightful; “Talking to straight people [about sexuality] can be a lot more tiresome, since they’ve never had to question their identity as much.” When I talked to Eric about how things have changed for LGBTQ+ people, he cited the subtle homophobia he’s observed, such as the use of the term “fa***t.”
“I don’t feel like it’s used offensively most of the time… if it is, I’ll speak up, but mostly it’s just an edgy ironic joke. It doesn’t make me feel offended but it makes me question their mindset.” This idea of subtle homophobia came up later in our discussion, when he said he believes “subtle homophobia is present in a lot of boys, kinda like ‘they can do what they want but if one of those fa***s touches me I’ll beat their ass.”
I realize that I agree with this, not only in terms of peoples’ view on sexuality, but also their views on race, ethnicity, sex, and more. Things that were said offensively back in the day are now reduced to “jokes” that are a result of a lifelong conditioning to subconsciously view groups that are different as inferior. Homophobia also has affected my third interviewee, Paul*. He’s the only one of the three who isn’t out to his family. Even though he covers it up with a joke, it’s obvious that his rela-
tionship with his family isn’t as open as the other two boys, and that it could be a sore point. His father is religious, and is against gay marriage. Also, being the middle child of 6 siblings, Paul hasn’t ever really gotten to know his parents fully. He told me that it doesn’t bother him too much, though. He said, “Everyone hides things from other people. I don’t think [my sexuality] should impact how I feel about my family. I’m okay with having my secrets, they have theirs.” Although he doesn’t have the same want to come out to his parents, Paul says that “if they ask, I’ll tell them.” The pandemic has affected all of these boys differently, but there is a clear trend. All three of them showed incredible emotional intelligence, open-mindedness, and self-awareness that I haven’t seen in any other group I’ve been in. Their time as teenagers seems like it’s been twice or three times that of others our age, since they’ve been going through all the struggles of teen life, in addition to understanding and accepting their sexuality, with the intent to succeed and rise above it all. In the end, it really is all about one’s mindset, and it’s important to stay true to oneself. As a teenager, there are hundreds of things to think about and consider in the social interactions that many struggle with, and sexuality can really add to the problem. John recommends that; in your struggle with sexuality, you don’t want to “further divide people… everyone should just be open minded about each other...finding a role model...can really help you feel represented and energized to express yourself.” *All names have been changed GRAPHIC BY QUINN SPENCE
Getting Through the Pandemic One Goal at a Time BY SAMUEL SCHUCHMAN
Before COVID-19 was a household name, it was a pretty safe bet to find junior Ethan Weiss participating in some type of physical activity. Going to the gym was a crucial part of Ethan’s routine. “I had recently gotten into rock climbing at Earth Treks Climbing Center, in Rockville,” he said. “I would hang out with friends, play basketball at the park, and then go grab food,” when referring to how he passed the weekends and time after school; activities that now seem like a lifetime ago to so many, including Ethan. When the pandemic hit, Ethan’s active life, like so many others, was rudely interrupted and put on hold. However, unlike many, Ethan decided to do something about it, and ended up helping a lot more people than himself. Recently, he’s been spending time working for Open Door Sports, a non profit organization whose mission is
to increase the opportunities that elementary school students with disabilities have to participate in sports. Ethan works as an assistant coach for ODS, and gets a lot out of it knowing that he’s able to make such a stark difference in the lives of so many. “I’ve always loved playing sports, and I want every kid to enjoy soccer like I’ve been able to during my life,” Ethan remarked.
“I’ve always loved playing sports, and I want every kid to enjoy soccer like I’ve been able to.” One of the main drivers pushing Ethan to become involved with such a fantastic mission is his own personal
experiences while dealing with the social, emotional, and frankly physical drain that comes with putting up with a global pandemic. “During COVID-19, playing sports has given me a feeling of satisfaction, as well as help me forget about what’s going on, and just enjoy the thrill of the game.” Ethan feels that he has been able to share this coping mechanism with all of the children that he plays with every week. “Helping the kids during COVID-19,” he said, “helps them shed the negativity, and lets them break out of their shell and enjoy their lives.” It is precisely people like Ethan that are helping us all come together, having a true impact on the lives of so many, and helping to make the world a better place, while still having time to score a few goals in between. “When I play soccer with the kids I can see on their faces how happy they are, and how much this is impacting their lives.”
One Summer Turns into Six Months BY ISABELLE THORP Get this: in the fall, my dad declared we wouldn’t spend any time in Maine during summer 2020. We ended up living there for 6 months. School had been out for 2 long COVID-19 weeks when my family realized our celebrated “short vacation” might become a bit more permanent. My little sister’s days consisted of zombie walking from her bedroom to the kitchen and back. Constant complaints of slow Wifi and “no good snacks” became our home’s background noise. We were all over this supposed short break.
So my dad loaded up the car for a weekend trip to our cabin in Maine. (This family has real timing problems). The next 6 months were spent attending high school over Zoom and Youtube, and extracurriculars consisted of evening sailboat rides and swims in Linekin Bay. Summer came and we were still on our weekend trip, minus the Zooms. As school started up again fully virtual, friends complained while I continued my extracurriculars in the nearby ocean. Our pandemic getaway turned into registering to vote in Maine.
Snow flurries stained the forest ground when we arrived in March. The town water shut off in October and the unattractiveness of having to venture out into the freezing woods at dark to access the porta potty hoping a raccoon isn’t looking for a fight kept my family from going full circle and seeing those flurries again; which I don’t think my dad has fully recovered from yet. If this year has taught me anything it’s that time is relative, and if your dad says you aren’t going on the getaway of your life, he’s already printed the one-way tickets.
Online Learning Away From Home BY OLIVIA ROMANO Prior to February 2020, about 97% of students in the United States attended school with a teacher at the front of the classroom and surrounded by classmates. School was a place for students to talk with their friends in the hallways, eat lunch with their friends, and meet new people. However, since March 2020, the physical interactions of school disappeared for many. School became an experience sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen ready to join a Zoom call, which can be done from anywhere. Being able to participate in online school from anywhere has allowed students to have the flexibility of being able to travel while also not missing school instruction. Eden Fisher, a freshman who traveled to Park City, UT to ski, said, “I would have not have [traveled during a traditional school year] because I would have to be at school.” If students were attending in-person school, it would be much more difficult to skip school for longer periods of time since students can’t physically be there. Fisher said, “I was gone for three months and this would have not happened if the pandemic had not allowed my family to be away from home.” She said that she didn’t have to skip any of her classes while out of town. She also added that being away from home was great because she was able to go outside more, rather than being in her house all day. A B-CC senior who wishes to remain anonymous said, “my experience was very positive”. This student, who was at the beach in North Carolina for over a month, said that because of the pandemic her family had the opportunity to stay longer. “It was nice to have a change of scenery”. There is no arguing that online school has caused
most students to feel quite isolated while being in the same room for each class and having minimal interactions with their classmates. Although this student probably would have traveled more during a year without a pandemic, they said, “I feel incredibly lucky to be able to travel right now. My parents and I made sure to be extremely COVID-safe.” Other than having a few internet issues, this student didn’t find any other negative aspects to working online while traveling. Another B-CC student is a freshman who went to the Outer Banks for two weeks. This student said that after not being able to travel due to government restrictions, this trip made up for it. After being tested for COVID-19, they were able to go with a friend to the Outer Banks. While they were there, they attended all classes virtually and were still able to enjoy the beach. “I forgot to bring stuff with me and didn’t really have my usual desk space, so if I had to study for something, it made it a little harder.”
Although there were some difficulties with doing online school away from home, a change of scenery improved this student’s mental health. “It was much nicer and more relaxing to not be at home and have a change in routine”, they said. Some students see an upside to the adjustments everyone has made to address the pandemic. A B-CC senior suggested, “If it were possible, I would definitely take short trips or just learn from a new venue on occasion to get a change of scenery. School can definitely be taxing on your mental health, so a new location would be a refreshing change even when we have normal classroom learning.”
“I feel incredibly lucky to be able to travel right now. My parents and I made sure to be extremely COVIDsafe.”
GRAPHIC BY GISELLE MARAVILLA
“Mental health affects every aspect of your life. It’s not just this neat little issue you can put into a box.” — Shannon Purser CURATED BY DERYA TASPINAR; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Getting to the Bottom of the COVID-19 “Time Warp” BY RUBY BUCZKOWSKI It’s no secret that quarantine has brought many new feelings to us all. Whether it’s paranoia about what you touched at the grocery store, pressure to watch the next trending show, or even a relief like no other when a COVID-19 test result came back negative, most of us can agree that our emotions and minds have been all over the place since the pandemic started. Even though everyone has dealt with this year differently, I’ve seen a constant trend toward a certain topic during the age of COVID-19: time. During the many talks with friends and family around fire pits and porches, I’ve heard everyone talk about either how fast or slow time has gone by during quarantine. Some say 2020 went by like the blink of an eye but others say it feels like centuries ago when they could remember no one wearing masks. It seems like a “time warp,” if you may, is adding yet another problematic mental dilemma to our lives. For me, summer felt like it never happened, my whole junior year has felt like a fever dream, and I can’t even tell you one thing I did from March to June. We could blame this on full moons or some astrology that I can’t cite, but I truly believe there is something deeper to this uneasy feeling around time. So, to give you all some answers on why you can’t remember what month it is, I set out to get to the bottom of this mysterious COVID-19 time warp. Ever since the pandemic started, no events planned for the future have been guaranteed. Opening schools back up was never guaranteed, having a mask-less summer was never guaranteed, and even normal life in
5 years has never been guaranteed. There is always a risk for events or activities that people look forward to being cancelled due to a spike in cases in any given month. After the two weeks we got off in March turned out to be much longer, people realized that they couldn’t predict what the future held anymore. We are forced to take life one day at a time and not make commitments or big plans too far in advance in fear of an outbreak. There is nothing to differentiate the months from each other or frankly any measurement of time from another. The uncertainty of planning out a year makes it very difficult to make sense of time going by or know what will come next. We can’t even predict what will happen tomorrow. The world around us is changing every day with daily news about the vaccine, death tolls increasing, and guidelines being updated all the time. So much uncertainty for our futures is a perfect recipe for a time warp. The lack of milestone celebration events has a particularly big impact on high schoolers. Those classic “coming of age” moments are what teenagers look forward to every year. Memorable moments like homecoming dances, sports games, prom, and graduation are experienced differently depending on what year a student is in and all mark the different milestones in high school. Without these significant events to represent each year, teenagers don’t have a clear timeline for their four years because they all blend together. Normally, each year of high school is an opportunity to make new friends, find new interests, and most importantly grow as a person. Teenagers typically have moments in high
school that shape who they are in those 4 years. Due to the cancellation of almost all normal school events and school years being completely different, teenagers lose many opportunities to develop themselves or have significant growth in relationships. Though some could argue that students could still make new friends and find new interests in online school, it truly just isn’t the same as normal in-person high school. A teenager would normally grow and change so much over a full year that they might feel like a very different person in two separate years of high school. This happens because of the challenges and experiences that come along with each normal year, but without these, students might feel like the same person they were in the previous year. With no change in identity or personality, it could be hard for students to differentiate the years of high school. For most, this COVID-19 era has felt like a pause from normal life, and often we had no choice but to reflect and live in the present moment. It’s human nature to constantly think about and plan for the future but quarantine has changed this. With less events to attend, there’s more time to appreciate the simple comforts in life while we live life one day at a time. Eventually, life really will go back to normal and we won’t have to write articles on the perception of time to keep ourselves sane. Even though we don’t know what the next few years will bring, at least we can identify some solid reasons for why our perception of time has been so warped. So sit back and enjoy the warp for now!
Preexisting Mental Health BY ANONYMOUS TRIGGER WARNING: ANXIETY w
Chatter filled the hallways, coming from faces Emily* would never see again. Joy filled her, as school had been her worst nightmare since she had begun her sophomore year in 2019. Nothing seemed to be worse for her triggers than being inside that building. Emily eagerly stepped out of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School with her friends the afternoon of March 13th, and all seemed right. The streets were empty, the stores had no lines, the metro line was nearly abandoned. It felt good to feel free, however soon she came to realize that her school building was better than being home. On Friday, March 13th, the whole world turned on its head for mentally ill students all across the country, as they began a new battle, isolation. Deprived of socializing, distractions and coping mechanisms, a different world loomed for the already troubled psyche. Mental health among teenagers has only been getting worse year by year, with suicide rates, self harm rates, hospital admissions and more rising alongside the spike in teens getting diagnosed. Major causes of mental illnesses include psychological trauma, stress, environmental changes, genetics and more, however exact causes are still difficult to pin down in a lot of psychological illnesses. These trends are only really unique to young adults and teenagers with studies showing “in comparing rates
of distress, depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior among various age groupings, the new research took account of shifts in happiness that have long been chronicled over Americans’ lifespans. In 2017, young adults born in 1999 were roughly 50% more likely than those born in 1985 to report feelings amounting to “serious psychological distress” in the previous month. As more children grow up, they are more and more likely to suffer mental illness, likely due to a variety of factors including genetics and shifts relating to technology. It’s common sense that a traumatic event, such as most relevantly COVID-19, would cause an even further spike in these conditions. Before the pandemic, in March of 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times, “Researchers also found that between 2008 and 2017, Gen Z’s emotional distress and its propensity toward self-harm grew more than for any other generation of Americans during the same period. By 2017, just over 13% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 25 had symptoms consistent with an episode of major depression in the previous year — a 62% increase in eight years.” Huge increases regarding mental health concerns have been nothing new for Millenials and Gen Z: “Between 2008 and 2017, suicides among young adults in age brackets between 18 and 25 grew by as much as 56%, and the rate at which these young people entertained thoughts of
suicide rose by up to 68%.” Emily is 16 and struggles from bulimia and bipolar 2 disorder. “I think definitely the biggest struggle for me was coping with being alone and also not working. I lied to my parents for 2 months about not going to work when I would bike an hour from my house everyday and bike back just to go to work.” Touching on how COVID-19 pushed her over the edge, “It was detrimental to my health for sure, not only was I lying all the time I was also getting thinner and thinner. Having no distractions made it easy to lose balance and have a spiral.” “It’s me and my mom and my brother who has special needs so it’s definitely been interesting.” Grace* remarked, struggling from social anxiety and depression, “I kind of realized how difficult it would be being by myself sometimes and before COVID I had a nice quiet house to myself and now it’s completely different.” Things seemed great at first, but as time progressed Grace expressed, “I think it was positive in the beginning but over time now that I’ve been spending a lot of time by myself so I’ve had too much time to overthink about like school and the state of the world.” Teens with mental health concerns as a result of COVID seem to only want lives back. Time away from the laptop, time away from Zoom, comfort from others and mutually understood sympathy between their teachers and peers.
Concerns & COVID-19 “My laptop is the worst. I will do anything to stay away from it really it causes me so much anxiety. I also just hate all the responsibility I was hit with all of a sudden, it was really all just unexpected.” Luis* explains. Not only does online school cause students with pre-existing mental health conditions stress, so does isolation and being unable to practice vital coping skills. “I’ve been working really hard to improve my skills in social situations and being out and all and fixing the panic attacks I’d get when I left my house. With COVID-19, I can’t do that and I can’t really work on fixing my problems. While it isn’t a big problem right now, I know in the future it will be.” Molly* remarks. Teenagers who suffer from mental illness, and did before COVID-19, struggle with coping at home. Workloads, conflicts at home, lack of motivation and slipping into old habits all come to be the major obstacles teens face. Many students who have dealt with mental health concerns addressed COVID-19 as a relapse period, “I think the big thing for me was trying to find a balance between seeing people and where my own priorities are, because my boyfriend and his family are a lot more strict than my family relating to COVID-19 protocols and seeing people and wanting to go to work again was just a really tough balance. Everything between school and normal teenager stuff, it’s really hectic.” Grace explained her experience with her depression and anxiety during COVID-19, “I
think COVID-19 was a relapse period, like usually my anxiety comes up in social situations but now that I don’t have the social situations, I don’t get that exposure so I can’t really work on interacting with people. There’s only so many things you can distract yourself with when you’re by yourself and, you know, not doing anything.” “Not doing anything” is a common trend among teenagers with mental health concerns, a lack of motivation, burnout, etc. This “not being able to do anything” is detrimental to teenagers, because it only makes them feel more and more alone as time progresses. While some teens have been able to see their friends, people like Grace have struggled with staying at home all day, as they simply cannot leave as a result of COVID-19 protocols. On the contrary, people like Luis pile on schoolwork to escape, which leads to more anxiety, “I think my mental state was both positive and negative, I couldn’t do things like see my friends or anything. My home and work life were blended so I was and still am having anxiety. I would say COVID-19 was a tough time, a little more tough than I expected, it was fine at first until all my responsibilities hit me,” then the problem arises. It’s been hard on teenagers with pre diagnosed mental health concerns, and teenagers attempt constantly to make themselves feel better in troubling times, Molly uses friends as her main way of coping, “I
*All names have been changed
try to see my friends often, we hang out a lot and keep our group small. Now that I can drive too it’s always nice to go drive around somewhere.” However, seeing friends is a luxury other teens can’t afford, “I’ve gotten so depressed that I can’t leave my house for anything but work or seeing my boyfriend, I obviously don’t use work and my boyfriend as my only coping mechanisms but at this point, it feels like it’s the only thing I have,” Emily preludes, “I use school and extracurriculars to help distract me from my eating disorder and my depressive episodes. When that doesn’t work, which is often, I switch to cooking, baking and taking care of my pets.” The teens in quarantine are experiencing exactly this as quarantine does not provide teens with safety, as many are worried about getting infected. Quarantine also doesn’t provide teens with relaxation as they are unable to go through important milestones, see their friends, etc. Lastly, quarantine constrains movement as teens are unable to participate in their daily sporting activities, commutes, hallway wanderings and extracurricular collaborations. Quarantine has been hard on everyone, but for those with mental health conditions, time seemed never ending, Emily remarks,“from March to now, I’ve hated the way I looked, felt, acted, everything. I was stuck alone and had literally nothing to do. I felt trapped like I had never felt before.”
The Mental Health of Athletes BY KATE FITZGERALD In March 2020, it seemed as if the whole world stopped. Students were forced to stay home, unable to go to school or participate in sports. At first, this was a relief for Stephanie Parker, a competitive diver who was extremely tired and frustrated with her sport. She even went as far to say that if the pandemic never happened, she probably would have quit diving altogether, but as the 2-week break from sports and school turned into 9 months, many teenagers began to feel isolated. During the pandemic, some studies have found that the mental health of student-athletes has gotten worse during this extended time-off. Before the pandemic, studies have shown that rates of anxiety and depression are higher among women, and female-athletes in general, when compared with men and male-athletes. A study conducted by the UW Health and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public
GRAPHIC BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Health found that, “approximately 68 percent of the 3,243 student-athletes surveyed reported feelings of anxiety and depression at levels that would typically require medical intervention that’s up 37 percent from past research studies.” This is not surprising since many student-athletes use sports as a way to cope with stress and mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Athletics can often be used as a main source, or only source, to relieve stress or anxiety. When high school sports are taken away, many students don’t know how to deal with their mental health struggles. Stephanie, a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, has struggled with her mental health during the pandemic, but also struggled with it before the pandemic began. “I was a gymnast for a really long time and the long hours and intense environment were not good for my mental health. Starting in 7th grade I began to
develop anxiety, distorted eating, and body dysmorphia. That has followed me to high school, and it has not gone away.” Stephanie definitely noticed a difference in her mental health during the pandemic as well, these changes were not all regarding sports. “[I had] a lot of fear going outside, everything was shut down, I felt like I was missing out on so many things that would have normally happened. I was alone all the time which was hard for me. For my mental health, I need to be around people to distract myself from my thoughts.” Lyndsey Boyce, the athletic director of Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, has seen firsthand the impact of the loss of sports. She said “I’ve no doubt seen a huge difference in the overall mental health and demeanor of [athletes at Catholic] since COVID-19 started...They are out of shape physically and emotionally, and hanging by a thread spiritually,” (The Virginian-Pilot).
“I would say my mental health right now is definitely worse than before the pandemic but a lot better than it was around July,” said Caroline Wilson, a junior on the B-CC Girls Soccer Team. “I would say currently it doesn’t cause me to not do things I don’t want to or take a toll on my life but late at night or when I have been down I can start to spiral a lot worse than I used to.” Specific to female athletes, many feel like there is an added pressure on them in athletics. Stephanie said that as a female athlete “there is the pressure to be perfect. You have to balance all the busy aspects of your life, athletics and academics, and you feel like you have to be perfect all the time, which is not good for your mental health.” This is similar to what Abigail Smith, a junior on the B-CC Girls Softball Team, believes. She said “female athletes in particular feel a pressure to always succeed not only in school but also in their sport.” Some of these extra pressures girls and women feel aren’t specific to athletes. Kelly James, a ballet dancer and junior at B-CC, said that “there is more pressure put on girls about appearance and behavior. The pressure does not necessarily have to be by the opposite gender, it can be from family members or even themselves.” “There are a bunch of ideas and standards that I women feel they have to meet to be accepted which is also true for men but women get called out for it more,” said Caroline. “It is more common for a woman to be cat called or objectified by people than it is for men to be just because of their bodies which can internally lead to a lot of anxiety.” Stephanie feels that “there are a lot of pressures put on females that aren’t put on males. There are a lot more body pressures. Don’t be too emotional, but don’t be unemotional, cause if you are you’re a bitch. Females have to be perfect in all aspects of their lives. Like when anything goes wrong with a female, it’s the females fault. But when something goes wrong with a male, it’s also the females fault. The pressure to be perfect and never do anything wrong is always present.” One way to understand why there is this added pressure on females and female athletes is through the Anthro-
pological theory called Structuralism. This theory states that “we see the world and construct our culture based on the structure of our minds. In other words, we see the world a certain way because our mind allows us to see the world that way.” Mary Douglas, a British Anthropologist, believed that for humans to understand the world around them, we put them in mental boxes. Things that do not fall into these boxes are not acceptable in society and we therefore can not understand them. In the case of female societal pressures, many feel that there are expectations that girls and women have to meet. And if they do not meet these expectations, then they do not fit into the mental box and can not be understood.
“The added societal pressure for females is to fit into a mental box of what they are ‘supposed’ to do. ” For example, how they should look or how they should act. This structuralist theory of mental boxes not only applies to societal expectations for genders. It can be extended to other parts of our lives. In the case of Stephanie and Kelly, the pressures of these mental boxes and pressures were relieved for at least a little while. Stephanie said “It was kinda nice when sports were cancelled because I did not like my coach and I was getting frustrated with my sport...The break was really good for my mental health and if I did have that I probably would have quit [diving].” “It was a little relieving at first,” said Kelly. Abigail and Caroline did not feel as much pressure, as explained by structuralist theory, and did not feel relieved when sports were cancelled in the spring. Abigail said, “When sports were canceled it was a big deal for me because I was very excited to play my sophomore season on the softball team.” Caroline agreed with this, and said
“sports are a large part of my life and I am playing sports almost every single day of the week. I was okay with the predicted short break at the beginning but after a long time of just only being able to practice by myself it became very frustrating and repetitive.” Even though athletics were cancelled, or strictly modified, and that brought new challenges, it allowed people to reexamine and reflect on their lives. “The pandemic has changed me in the sense that I was able to find out a bunch about myself,” Caroline said. “The people that make me happy, the clothes I like to wear, the color of my hair.” Everyone was isolated from their normal environment and had to adjust to the new normal, for an indefinite amount of time. “I think the pandemic has given me a little more anxiety and has made me be more socially aware of my surroundings,” Kelly said. “This can be good around a sensitive subject, however, it can make natural communication a little harder because I analyze everything I say.” Many people realized things they took for granted in their day-to-day lives. “The pandemic has made me appreciate the little things in life like seeing a friend in the hallways or hugging my grandparents,” Abigail said. “In this difficult time, the thing that keeps me going is knowing that even though it seems like life will never be back to normal, when it does, the world will have a greater appreciation for living, and life will be so much more fun than it even was before.” Although this time had some drawbacks for Stephanie, she felt like the isolation taught her valuable lessons. “I had to learn how to be by myself, as a result, I have grown into my personality. I think I have also learned that people are going to handle a situation like this differently and I can not change what other people do; I just have to be confident in what I do.” Stephanie said that her mental health fluctuates. Sometimes she feels really bad mentally and other times she does not. She has been able to go back to diving, in a modified way. This has brought back some sense of normalcy to her life. “The most important thing that I have learned is to accept that life is not perfect and I can not be perfect all the time.”
Eating Disorders: How the Pandemic has Brought Back Past Behaviors BY ANNA HOOVER TRIGGER WARNING: EATING DISORDERS
17-year-old Daisy* wakes up at 9 a.m. to log into her first period Zoom. She sits in front of her computer, eyes glazed, for the next 6 hours, using her breaks to mindlessly scroll through TikTok and Instagram. After school, she stays at her desk watching Netflix and doing homework until her mom calls her down for dinner. “I’ve already eaten,” she yells through gritted teeth. Sometimes her mom believes her. For the past five years, Daisy has been suffering from anorexia nervosa, known among psychiatrists as the most lethal mental illness. She has been able to hide a large part of her struggle from her family, and has chosen to seek support and distraction from her peers instead. This has all changed since the pandemic began. “Not having friends to ask me how I’m doing or make sure I’m eating has been a hard adjustment for me. It’s helpful to have someone to prompt me to eat full meals and remind me how abnormal and unhealthy my habits are,” said Daisy. Her isolation from her support system has left her grasping for a way out. She looked to TikTok for a community that might help. There, she found hashtags #thinspiration and #anorexic, containing graphic videos of extremely underweight and young Tik Tok users, with captions like “interact with me to starve,” “skip dinner, wake up thinner,” and “if your ribs aren’t showing you aren’t trying hard enough.” Now, Daisy stays off of TikTok. “To hear other girls normalize or even brag about their eating habits is really hard for me. It makes me feel guilty, and in some twisted way makes me feel like I need to be starving myself even more.” Even without TikTok, Daisy’s constant fight with her anorexia is heightened during the pandemic. Not only is she missing the reminders to eat that her friends provide her with, but the reminders that existed in her normal life
before this year as well. “Without a schedule, it’s so easy to make excuses to skip meals. There’s no lunch period or dinner party or coffee date to force me to consider my actions. It’s not even a choice to not eat at this point. It’s almost easier than eating at all.” This lack of structure is revered by many students. It grants teens a newfound ability to control their own schedules, do their work on their own schedule, and have time to pursue hobbies. For Daisy though, it leads to hours in front of the mirror, trips to the scale, and worst yet, the ease to suffer in silence with nobody there to make sure she is okay. Daisy’s struggles are felt by many teens with disordered eating habits. “Being in the same spot in my room on my computer all day just makes me have no motivation to get up and do anything, much less eat,” said Clara*, a 16-yearold who has been struggling with disordered eating for the past year or so. “When there is no routine, there is nothing to make me eat. It has allowed me to forget meals, and now meals usually aren’t a part of my routine at all,” said Clara, echoing Daisy’s concerns about quarantine. 19-year-old Finn*, who was released from treatment for anorexia nervosa during winter of last year, has not had the same experience. For him, the change in schedule has been refreshing. “Quarantine has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and be less stressed. I think it’s really helped me be able to focus on myself and my recovery more... especially given that coming back to my life from treatment was a harsh transition.” Despite this, Finn noted that the pandemic had been hard on his recovery in other ways. “Since I just got out of recovery, I go to therapy pretty frequently. I like therapy, but I also find the act of going to therapy very good for me. It encourages me to leave the house and really focus on my mental health. The
change of therapy from in-person to online has been a bit of an adjustment for me, but it’s getting better.” Mental health is a key factor in recovery. According to Polaris Teen Center, 50% of teens who suffer from eating disorders also suffer from depression, and in a survey done in June by the CDC, 41% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral issue sparked by the pandemic. Respondents reported elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, substance use, and suicidal ideation at a rate at least three times higher than last June. Mental health issues are one of the most well-researched triggers for disordered eating, and their increasing prevalence is not a good sign for the fate of those fighting eating disorders. Clara noted that her depression was a huge trigger for her eating disorder, and she’s at an all time low right now. When she’s depressed, she’s less hungry, less motivated to feed herself, and less willing to nurture her body in the ways it needs. “This is f***** up, but it’s really cathartic for me to not eat when I’m depressed. It feels like I’m getting what I deserve and making myself look better at the same time,” she said. ”I know logically that I don’t look healthy, but the thought of gaining back the weight I’ve lost since February is terrifying. People try hard to be this thin and everyone’s telling me to give that away. It’s hard to grapple with.” 17-year-old Easton* considered herself to be recovered from her eating disorder before the pandemic began. But as quarantine has progressed, her worsening mental health has opened old wounds. “This year, my anxiety has gotten so much worse. For a while, I totally lost my appetite, which made me lose a lot of weight and really triggered my past feelings. Thinking about my weight and having to force myself to eat has been a huge trigger for me in the past few months, and now I feel like I have to start recovery all over again.”
Another way in which eating disorders correlate with mental health is that they are often cited as a way to cope with powerlessness. Hilde Bruch, a prominent doctor and researcher known for her work regarding eating disorders and obesity, was one of the first to highlight eating disorders as a coping mechanism. She examined the way that exerting control over one’s eating behaviors can make them feel they’ve regained the power that is absent in other sectors of their life. Since Bruch’s research, this theory has been widely adopted as a potential fac-
tor in disordered eating, and it applies now more than ever. The pandemic has left many Americans, especially teens, feeling powerless. Not only are people unable to control their social plans, but life itself feels threatened right now. The fear of contracting COVID-19 or having a loved one contract the virus has left a great number of people feeling helpless and out of control. Not knowing where their next meal is coming from can induce that feeling of powerlessness as well. According to NPR, nearly 1 in 4 American households have experienced food insecurity in 2020, twice the rate
of last year. The rush to stock the pantry as supermarkets have limited supply can be triggering and lead to binging or restriction, and worrying about having access to food is also a potential trigger. Although it’s been a rough nine months, Daisy has hope that a spring vaccine could be a light at the end of the tunnel. “My only consolation has been reassuring myself that this too shall pass, and I want to still be here when it does.” *All names have been changed
Mental Health Resources BY NIKKI MIRALA According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in six U.S. adults lives with a mental illness. However, the taboo created in society surrounding the discussion of mental health prevents the transparency of this fact. It is essential that our society grows comfortable with the conversation around mental health to be able to easily provide those in need with the resources and help necessary to assist them in overcoming their struggles. Mental health conditions vary in degree of severity which results in a similar variety of forms of treatment. A common option for mental health treatment is meeting with a mental health provider, however, there are numerous options within this. Mental health counselors specialize in numerous areas of mental health and provide support to those experiencing mental or emotional distress. Mental health counselors can help individuals to understand their feelings and discover ways to overcome them. Another option is a psychologist. A psychologist differs from a counselor as a counselor helps patients achieve overall wellness while a psychologist analyzes patients from an exact scientific perspective and then treats their individual problems. A psychiatrist is also another similar option, however, differs due to the fact that psychiatrists are certified medical doctors who monitor the physical effects of mental health conditions (i.e. blood pressure) and can
prescribe medications unlike counselors and psychologists. Due to COVID-19, all of these providers are available to meet with online through softwares such as Zoom. Another option is phone resources which are growing in use. Telemental health care is similar to meeting with providers, however, is much easier and can be more affordable or even free. Individuals can access online health providers through phone calls, text messages, or emails. Some hotlines include: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), The Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741), The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1800-799-7233), The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline (1-800-662HELP (4357)), and The Veteran’s Crisis Line (call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255). Another option to treat mental health conditions is apps which can easily be downloaded on one’s device for free. While these apps may help individuals to manage their wellbeing and act as a treatment aid, they should not replace a mental health professional. An example of a helpful app is MoodFit which helps users to track their mood, set daily goals, and utilize helpful meditation and breathing techniques. Another is SAM (Self Help for Anxiety Management) which helps users to try to understand their own mental health challenges and
track anxious behaviors and thoughts that they notice within themselves. Another unconventional option is video games. Certain video games designed to act as treatment for mental health conditions can help those struggling. An example is ‘Depression Quest’ which aims to help those with mental health issues, specifically depression, understand that they are in no way alone and highlights how it is to live with depression. Another is ‘SuperBetter’ which works to build resilience among those battling mental health issues through the completion of quests and activities. The large topic of mental health encompasses numerous conditions and varying treatments beneath it. What may work for some may not work for others as not everyone with the same mental health diagnosis is the same. If you or a loved one is dealing with mental health issues, please consider the resource options discussed in this article and do further research to identify which treatment is the best fit as there are copious options. There is absolutely no shame in reaching out for help, and in fact, it is encouraged by many including professionals. Coming to terms with the state of your mental health can be difficult, and it is much easier said than done to reach out for help, but once you do it will be so incredibly rewarding. Remember that when it comes to mental health struggles, you are never alone.
How the Pandemic is Affecting Teenage Girls with ADHD BY ISABELLA CICHY Staying focused in a world filled with distractions is hard enough. Now imagine being stuck at home, constantly being face to face with those distractions, and being tasked with avoiding them. This burden has been placed upon everyone dealing with ADHD during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, these struggles can be aided with medication and other forms of support. But imagine not knowing that you have a problem, and therefore not being able to get support. This scenario is surprisingly common among teenage girls. The pandemic has greatly affected teens with ADHD because they are having to live their whole lives online, which is not a suitable setting to stay focused, motivated, or successful. The struggles one may face when dealing with ADHD are important to understand, as the world we live in today is without a doubt having a negative impact on the lives of individuals with ADHD. In this new and isolating world of online school, where distractions are unavoidable, students are finding it much more difficult to perform in school, engage in a healthy social life, and maintain good mental health. The lack of research on girls with ADHD goes hand in hand with the fact that many go undiagnosed, their behavior attributed to causes other than ADHD. Some research hints that ADHD symptoms in girls are not demonstrated until later in their development, compared to boys. Girls’ symptoms generally tend to be more subtle, making them more challenging to identify and address. A freshman in high school, Alexis* feels helpless in the virtual environment: “I feel like I can’t get any work done. And what happens is this cycle where I fall behind and then I fall super super behind and then I have so much work. It’s just so hard to work in this environment and I feel like there is nothing I can really do to make me focus. There are so many struggles with being online,
but then also having ADHD makes it so hard. Even during normal school it was hard, but now [ADHD] just adds on to everything.” This sentiment was echoed by Mariana*, who says, “I feel like there is nothing I can really do to make me focus.” Though there is little research on the subject, there have been studies that have found evidence to suggest that unequal diagnoses between males and females is a significant and very real problem. Anne Arnett, a clinical child psychologist at the University of Washington, conducted a study with 2,332 twins and siblings. She found that “boys tended to have more extreme symptoms, and a broader distribution of symptoms than girls.” This could explain why it is only recently becoming common for girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, as doctors are only now understanding the idea that they must assess boys’ and girls’ symptoms differently. Gender stereotypes may be having an impact on the discrepancy in diagnoses, because “parents, in their own ratings, seemed to [downplay] girls’ hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, while playing up those of boys.” Mariana recalls a boy in her elementary school class who had ADHD and the typical symptoms as well. This was the only example she had seen of this disorder, and therefore believed ADHD to be mostly just in boys. She recounts, “They said it like it was some crazy thing. I didn’t want to be associated with [ADHD]. But then I started telling people and did projects on it as well… so I eventually got more comfortable with sharing that I have ADHD.” Mariana never really struggled in her academics until she reached middle school, where the problem of not being able to focus became more apparent to her. She shared her struggles with her parents, however they assured her that she was fine because she was getting good grades. Overall, she never outwardly showed signs of ADHD--unlike the boy from elementary school--and therefore
it took much longer until she was able to get help. “The thing though that has been challenging for me is doing schoolwork in my room. When I take my medication I always want to be doing something. Now when I’m in my room there are twelve other things I could be doing that are productive, and that I’d rather do than doing schoolwork, and so it feels hard to be motivated to do schoolwork,” said Mariana. Alexis said about the transition from in-person to online school: “[It was] very hard to adjust, I would do all my work in school because I couldn’t work at home. So going into doing school at home and doing work in my home was really hard. I can’t do homework. Sometimes I just get distracted and go on my phone, I then remind myself to do my work, and then stare at the computer and tell myself ‘I can’t do this,’ so then I go back to my phone.” “Girls have a standard to act differently… I can’t name any girls [diagnosed with ADHD],” said Alexis. The truth about girls with ADHD is it is a two layered matter. The first layer centers around the fact that ADHD is an invisible disability, therefore it can be easily hidden. Girls don’t have to wear this disorder on their sleeve, therefore it can become more of a personal concern that doesn’t have to be shared with others. The second layer, however, suggests that girls are more conscious of how they present themselves, and therefore purposefully mask their ADHD. This secrecy can cause a feeling of insecurity, which unfortunately leads these girls to believe that ADHD is bad and shameful. There still is a hope that with a more open generation, society can grow to be accepting of these differences, instead of viewing them as problems. This can likely provide more confidence for young girls, and make them feel more comfortable in sharing their truth with the world.
“This year my art has centered around distorted self portraits. Throughout the pandemic and quarantine I've grown tremendously, and wanted to show that growth/warping throughout my portraits. It’s been a hard time mentally, so my artwork also encapsulates a lot of these tough emotions I've felt throughout the last year.”
Athletics have a long history of beating odds and finding ways to overcome insurmountable difficulty, but the pandemic has proven to be a challenge like none other. CURATED BY MICHAEL SHAPIRO; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
The Best Sports To Play in A Pandemic GRAPHIC BY CARMEN LOPEZ FERNANDEZ
BY GUS DUPIN How to play sports safely has been a constant question during the pandemic. Many sports require people to be near each other and are uncomfortable with masks on. Not all sports are created equal, and many are much better than others during a pandemic, but which are the best ones?
1. Skateboarding Recently skateboarding has seen a massive resurgence in popularity and it’s easy to see why. It’s the perfect sport during a pandemic. The best thing about it is that it is fun even by yourself. With nobody else around there’s no risk of spreading or getting COVID. Even with a group of people it still is extremely safe, since being spread out comes naturally to avoid running into other people. Skateboarding scores a perfect 10 in all the safety precautions, and isn’t at all inhibited by COVID restrictions.
3. Tennis Of the common net sports, tennis is not only the most popular but is also the best for safe play during a pandemic. It only involves one or two people per side, the courts are big, and it’s outside. It checks off all the boxes, whereas other net sports such as volleyball or ping pong have some drawbacks, including the fact that in both sports people are closely bunched up or are inside. If you are looking for the best physically draining competitive sport, tennis is your best choice.
5. Baseball If you want to play a team sport, baseball is far and away your best option. There are two reasons why baseball is a great choice, the primary one being that people are often spread far apart from each other while playing. The only time players are close to each other are when the batter is near the catcher, and when the batter is on different bases. Social distancing just comes naturally with baseball which sets it apart from all the other team sports. What’s also great about baseball is that wearing a mask while playing isn’t as uncomfortable compared to other sports, where players are constantly huffing and puffing. Along with being an outside sport, these factors make baseball a great sport during a pandemic.
2. Golf Golf is almost perfect in every way for a pandemic sport. It’s outside, it’s extremely easy for people to distance themselves while playing, and wearing a mask while playing is quite literally a walk in the park. Golf’s safety is extremely evident by how professional golf tournaments have gone extremely smoothly, almost none of them have been cancelled. Compared to many other sports the amount of athletes who got the virus has been very low. The only reason that golf is not the top of this list is that it is a social sport, it usually involves at least 3 people whereas the top sport on the list is fun even by yourself.
4. Running/Cycling Both of these sports are great because they can be done individually, or if you’re competing, social distancing isn’t hard. With competing you do run into one problem though and that’s the start. If there are too many people or not enough space, it can get very cramped. However, as long as there are not that many people, it’s perfectly fine as long as the athletes are spread out. Another problem with these sports that is keeping them from being higher up on the list, is that they can be uncomfortable with masks on. Constant heavy breathing and masks just aren’t the best match, and that’s what brings these sports lower on the list.
Sports are a great way to pass the time during the pandemic, but it’s very important that they are played safely. Try to stick to outside sports where there’s very little contact and remember to wear a mask.
Pandemic Athletes: Quit or Commit? BY JAMES MARDER Ever since our last day of in-person school on Friday the 13th of March, 2020, students all over the county have found it difficult to maintain their motivation. While the pandemic has been brutal for everyone, the sudden shutdown last spring was especially cruel to high school student athletes. Most of these athletes went from practicing nearly every day to not being Quit: With this potentially life-changing decision in mind, every athlete had their own reason for quitting their respective sport. A multi-sport athlete in the Montgomery County community who wished to remain anonymous had a compelling story about why he quit one of his sports. This athlete was a dedicated club basketball player who had serious future plans with the sport. Unfortunately he would find
able to practice for a month or, in some cases, much longer. Last summer, sports facilities were a main priority for reopening as soon as possible following the shutdown. As club athletes in sports ranging from volleyball to swimming attempted to begin practice with their teams, they found themselves in a difficult situation: some perceived that their sport wasn’t as fun with COVID-19 restrictions, others felt trouble with returning to practice, as his sister had a condition that made it life-threatening for her to catch COVID-19. As the athlete’s club team resumed practice, he saw very few social distancing restrictions. While his teammates wore masks at first, that didn’t last for long, leading the athlete to cease practicing with the team, deeming it unsafe for his sister. The athlete still wanted to play bas-
Quit: The term “quit” is used as a general term for any athlete who was forced out of their sport or chose to leave it because of the pandemic. When most club teams resumed their practices last year, a majority of student athletes were already out of practice for more than a month. It can be incredibly draining and time consuming for athletes to get back into competitive shape. So when club teams reopened their doors, they found some athletes who were wondering if it was worth it to return, with safety concerns also looming. Thus, formerly dedicated athletes were now wavering in their decision to continue with their sport. Most of these wavering athletes were juniors and seniors who knew they weren’t going to play their sport on a serious level in college, athletes who were hoping to finish their sport with one last high school season, and those who were considering quitting their sport long before the pandemic hit. While the reasons varied, these student athletes all had one thing in common: they were about to make a difficult decision, quite possibly making the countless hours of practice they put into their sport be in vain.
their team couldn’t comply with social distancing guidelines, putting athletes and their family members at risk of catching COVID, and most suspected that they wouldn’t even have a school sports season in the coming year. These concerns bred a serious lack of motivation in the world of high school athletics, posing an unprecedented question for all these student athletes: quit or commit? ketball, but when MCPS called off winter sports this year, he wavered. After hours of deliberation, he decided to stop practicing basketball and focus on track until everything cleared up, potentially jeopardizing his ability to play basketball in college. The athlete maintained that this could have happened to anyone, it was just unfortunate enough to happen to him.
Commit: With their renewed motivation, many recommitted athletes decided to throw themselves, body and soul, into their sport and train even harder than they ever had before. One of these athletes was Elliot Lovinger, a senior tennis player at B-CC, who leveraged the pandemic and all the downsides that came with it to his benefit. Elliot was a competitive tennis player before the pandemic and was on the B-CC varsity tennis team, but he decided to commit to tennis wholeheartedly during the pandemic
to become the best he could be. When everything closed down last spring, opportunities opened up for those who could find them. As it turns out, tennis is a COVID friendly sport, enabling Elliot to train without having to worry much about COVID restrictions. After being unable to find a job or internship for the summer like he had hoped, Elliot had even more time to dedicate to his sport. He joined a new elite and intensive tennis clinic early last summer. According to Elliot, he trained “six hours every weekday for the en-
tirety of summer,” helping him drastically improve his skills and better his chances of playing in college. Elliot was fortunate enough to play a sport that was minimally affected by COVID, but his commitment to tennis should not be taken lightly. In a message to other student athletes or those who have trouble sticking with their sport during the pandemic, Elliot advises to “train intensively on your own, and do whatever it takes to stay in shape so that when your sport reopens, you won’t be a step behind.”
Commit: On the other side of this decision were those student athletes who chose to stay involved with their sport despite the pandemic. Unlike the wavering athletes, these individuals were more likely to play a sport with fewer COVID restrictions. Many of these student athletes include those who plan to continue their sport in college, those who have dedicated all their time toward their sport with nothing else to do during quarantine, or even some of those wavering athletes who decided to stick with their sport. The pandemic has highlighted differences between various sports that teenagers participate in. While several athletes in contact sports or those that practice in close quarters were unable to participate last spring due to COVID restrictions, other athletes managed to practice the entire time. These athletes played sports such as track and field, cross country, tennis, and golf, and some of them never missed a step during the pandemic. Once restrictions were lifted last summer, the list of sports that were able to resume normal training grew; and, for some athletes who were privileged with a sport they could play relatively uninterrupted, a switch was flipped in their minds, and they went into their sport at full throttle with a renewed motivation. GRAPHIC BY ANNIE WILDER
Transgender Athletes and BY TATE SMYTH Even if you aren’t familiar with the term “culture war,” you’re almost certainly familiar with what one looks like. The fierce dialogue surrounding social issues like LGBTQ+ rights and representation, cancel culture, and expressions of masculinity/femininity is taking over American politics, as many popular conservative pundits place their focus on these areas of debate. Over the past few years, transgender issues have become more of hot-button topics than ever, particularly the debate around transgender athletes. Republicans have been very vocal in their opposition to who they describe as “biological males’’ being allowed to compete in women’s sports. This reactionary sentiment is manifesting itself in lawmaking more than ever in the first year of President Joe Biden’s administration. Only four months into 2021, the U.S. has already blown past the previous record for the quantity of anti-transgender rights legislation that has been introduced in state legislatures. In 2020, there were 66 total bills of this nature introduced, including 25 specific to bathroom/ locker room and youth sports bans. This year, there have already been 117 total bills put to paper, and 58 target bathroom/locker room and youth sports bans. Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee have already signed legislation that bans trans youth from competing in sports that align with their gender identity. The outcry and aggressive action directed at trans athletes is ridiculous. It is a false notion implying there’s an issue with something that isn’t a legitimate problem, and is
symptomatic of a larger issue within American politics. Republicans and even some Democrats seem to believe that trans women are absolutely dominating women’s sports, which is simply false. They act as though trans women are ruining the sanctity of women’s athletics when the examples they suggest exist of trans athletes exercising an obvious competitive advantage over their cisgender counterparts are virtually nonexistent. One case that proponents of trans sports bans often point to is trans MMA fighter Fallon Fox. In 2014, Fox fought Tamikka Brents at an event known as the Capital City Cage Wars. The fight ended after Fox knocked out Brents, breaking Brents’ orbital bone in the process. To many, this is an example of the dangers of allowing trans athletes to compete against the gender they identify as. In reality, the injury sustained by Brents in the fight is quite common in professional fights. Fox also went on to lose another fight not long after . She hasn’t taken over the MMA world and certainly isn’t a household name as a fighter. This is the same case on the worldwide stage. The Olympics have allowed trans athletes to compete since 2004. Have you ever heard of a trans Olympian winning gold medals? Probably not, since zero trans athletes are yet to even qualify. Where conservatives love to place their attention in particular is youth sports. They claim that trans girls in high school sports are taking away opportunities from cis girls as the result of their “unfair advantage.” In Connecticut, three cis female track runners and their families sued their boards of education over the
allowance of trans females to be able to compete against other girls. The girls who sued said that the trans runners should be forced to run against boys due to their supposed upper hand. Two days after the lawsuit was filed, one of the athletes who sued actually beat one of the trans girls who was named as a part of the case in a race. There are far more cis female athletes than there are trans, and the overwhelming majority of athletes who win games and get scholarships are cisgender. It’s a silly and blatantly untrue notion that trans athletes are negatively impacting sports in any way. Another aspect of this debate that is particularly amusing is how conservatives’ attitudes towards women’s sports seem to suddenly change when the conversation shifts to trans inclusion. The men who make strong statements about how there is a need to protect women’s sports and youth female athletes are almost always the same men who will make disrespectful and flippant remarks about the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in their private lives. The outrage is incredibly see-through. These Republicans don’t actually care about the opportunities for female high school athletes to get college scholarships, they’re just transphobic and bigoted. Some even seem to think that cis male athletes would be motivated to compete as a trans female in order to gain more opportunites, which is a belief that has no backing or evidence behind it. Even if one were to accept the conservatives’ framing of trans females as having a clear advantage over cis athletes, the positions of these people are widely inconsistent.
The American Culture War With all the concern over a “competitive edge,” shouldn’t they want to make access to hormone blockers and essential trans healthcare easier? This would alleviate the problem that they’ve created for themselves in their minds. But Republicans fighting for trans rights restrictions are only concerned with acting on the bigotry that is ingrained in them and pushing back against any facts that conflict with their antiquated worldview. The most important fact behind all this is that trans women are women, and trans men are men. There are no “facts and logic” to deny the clear scientific consensus that gender identity is a spectrum. Now that Joe Biden is elected, the game plan of Republicans appears to be focused entirely on turning the culture war dial to eleven, which is why trans issues and America’s supposed number one issue of a “cancel culture,” are being incessantly discussed on networks like Fox News. We can see this effect by taking a look at the Republican takes that were being made when President Biden was passing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in March. The only arguments being made by conservatives during this period were that the millions of people who are food insecure, unemployed, and/or struggling through a pandemic don’t need that much relief because of “the deficit” Interesting how the deficit concern is only brought up when the government tries to help the working class, but not when legislation such as President Trump’s 2017 tax cut for the ultra-wealthy and corporations will add $1.5 trillion to the national deficit over the following ten years.
Maybe it’s because many of our politicians only represent the interests of their corporate, wealthy donors, and not the needs of the American people. Besides the deficit, conservatives had little to say about the COVID-19 package. Instead, the airways in these weeks were clogged with talk about the “cancellation” of Dr. Seuss and the new gender-neutral Mr. Potato Head. Should these really be the topics being discussed in the interest of the 63% of Americans who have been living paycheck to paycheck since the start of the pandemic? Certainly, there were legitimate criticisms to be made of Biden’s relief bill. Democrats ran on $2,000 checks out the door immediately–$1,400 checks came almost two months into the administration. Biden ran on the $15 minimum wage that would greatly benefit American workers–he and Vice President Harris caved to a Senate parliamentarian who can be easily overruled and refused to put pressure on Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. These very real issues, however, will never be the focus of conservatives. As long as Democrats control the government, Republicans will continue to shift voters’ attention away from the real problems affecting them to their silly culture war grievances. Even the Republicans who run on platforms of supposed populism, where they try to appeal to the concerns of working-class people, don’t really care about improving the lives of Americans. Conservatives who fancy themselves the next Trump talk a big talk about “draining the swamp” and taking back America from social justice
warrior corporations, while they simultaneously take huge donations from these same companies and stay silent about important issues for workers like the unionization efforts in Bessemer, Alabama. Polls show that the American people are actually quite united when it comes to larger issues. Policies like universal healthcare, increased tax rates on the wealthy and corporations, free college, legalization of marijuana, and bringing the endless wars to a close are supported by the majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation. However, when conservative media is stuck talking about cancel culture and trans athletes, and mainstream democratic media is busy weaponizing identity politics to defend the establishment and attacking candidates like Bernie Sanders as dangerous radicals, it can be almost impossible for the American people to get the help that they need. The fiery attacks on trans people are just one of the symptoms of the disease that is the culture war in the United States. It’s not a hard issue when you value the equal and dignified treatment of all people, but since many conservative politicians don’t want the average American to pay attention to the ways that they are really being screwed over, chiefly by the establishment and owner classes, they shift the focus to non-issues like trans athlete exclusion. Until more voters are able to recognize the games that are being played by conservative representatives and media, it will continue to be troublingly difficult to make progress in this country.
The Health Benefits of Sports are a Necessity - Now More Than Ever
GRAPHIC BY ANNIE WILDER BY GUS DUPIN
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on everybody across the world, and sports and exercise are now more important than ever. There has never been such a focus on both physical and mental health than now, and scientists have proven that besides obviously helping one’s physical health, sports can also drastically help one’s mental health. There are tons of extremely important physical benefits from sports. The most obvious one being that exercising helps to lose weight. Being overweight can put people at a significantly higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than others, so shedding off a couple pounds can definitely help decrease the risks. People with respiratory/heart problems are also at a much higher risk of developing severe illness from the virus, and exercise is the best way to improve the health of your lungs and heart. One specific example of this is exercise causes people’s bodies to produce more of an enzyme called EcSOD; this enzyme
helps to prevent a respiratory problem known as ARDS, which is often caused by COVID-19. Along with all of this, exercise does many other things, such as improving your immune system and reducing your risk of getting type 2 Diabetes or certain cancers (which both increase the danger of COVID-19). With these factors in mind, exercise is far and away one of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of developing severe illness from COVID-19. The mental benefits of sports are arguably even more important than the physical benefits. According to studies by the CDC, the proportion of adults in the U.S. with symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depression have quadrupled since the start of the pandemic. More effects can be seen in the enormous spike in calls to mental health hotlines; the LA suicide and mental health hotline reported an 8,000% increase in calls. Sports can help alleviate many of the disastrous side effects of the pandemic. In a recent study the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK found that
adults who participate in physical activity on a daily basis are 20-30% less likely to have depression than the average person. In the same study exercise was also shown to reduce anxiety and stress along with boosting self-esteem. Sports aren’t just about exercise, they are also largely about the social aspect. During lockdown it has been hard to interact with people safely, but sports are a great way to do it. Sports are perfect for socializing because they’re often outside and in most sports it’s easy to socially distance. As lockdown restrictions are easing across the country, sports will become more accessible and could be a useful “vaccine” against the “lockdown fever” that has gripped many people. Sports have never been more crucial to people’s well-being than now. The physical and mental benefits are extremely important. Everybody should try to participate in some sport right now. Anything from just casually running to joining some sort of team can help.
Cole Philpott “The pandemic has forced me to be a lot more creative with my photography and work with what I have. I want to express my emotions and ideas.”
During the pandemic, the world felt smaller and larger at the same time. CURATED BY LIZA CICHY; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
One Page Of My Diary BY CATERINA RUSSO I wrote this page of my diary when I was quarantined in Italy in March, at the very beginning of the pandemic. The original text is in Italian but I translated it so I could share my
thoughts on the situation we were living in Europe or at least in Italy. A photo of this page is shown below. The other photo was taken on January 10, 2021 and depicts the demonstration made by the students of the
Ciao, In these pages I will speak about a serious situation that my city and all Italy is experiencing. This situation has a name: COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. The color of the pen I am writing with represents the state we are in: Red Zone. Do not leave home. You don’t leave Italy. We do lessons, questions and tests online. Stores are closed. The streets are deserted. I don’t think there is any need to describe more in depth our conditions as Italian citizens or the virus itself because I think it will remain in history. I’m talking about how I feel in this period. One word: trapped. Talking about school I’m not very worried, but I must admit that I prefer to wake up early every morning and go to school instead of being glued to my house in front of a screen for four or five hours a day. I know it’s
school Liceo Classico Paolo Sarpi in Bergamo, Italy (my old school). The online school for the students of this school and all over Italy in general has become oppressive, almost useless and they need to show it in some way.
a bit late because the situation has been going on for a month now... but the idea of writing just came to me now. So in general I’m not putting too much effort into studying, I’m doing the bare minimum, idleness takes over. It’s amazing how the longer you stay at home doing nothing, the more you don’t feel like doing anything. It’s really true then that “idleness is the king of vices.” All the things that used to seem so obvious to me, such as taking the bus to school, meeting my friends and playing basketball, have now vanished into thin air, at any moment. I’m hoping though that this situation will be fixed soon, at least by my birthday in April? Who knows. I’ll keep you updated. Cate <3 03.21.2020
Those Forgotten During the Pandemic BY SAMMY SCHUCHMAN
2,285,074 human lives. 105,160,735 confirmed cases across 219 countries and territories. These are the continually surging effects of a pandemic that has become one of the most devastating events in modern human history. COVID-19 has reared its head far and wide, and some, like New York Governor Andew Cuomo, have even darkly referred to it as “the great equalizer.” Unfortunately, this statement could not be further from the truth. As mentally, emotionally, and physically straining as the pandemic has been for all, many have benefited from relative economic stability, in the form of access to savings accounts or a respectively stable income. Regrettably, quite a few aren’t as fortunate. In the U.S. alone, Highland Solutions finds that nearly two thirds of Americans have been living from paycheck to paycheck since COVID-19 first hit, almost a 20% increase over the course of the pandemic. And, some have been hit even harder. In the 2019 fiscal year, 76,020 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, a 52% increase from the previous year. During the same time period, families seized at the border increased four-fold from the prior year, growing to a total of 473,682 cases. In September of 2020, amidst the raging storm that was the pandemic, seizures at the border reached a thirteen-month peak, more than half of whom were unaccompanied minors and families. Unaccompanied minors, or “unaccompanied alien children” as referred to by U.S. law, are “migrants under eighteen years old with no lawful status in the United States and who have no parent or legal guardian available to care for them.” These children, 70% of whom are ages 15 or older, are leaving their home countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, to
escape horrific and perpetual poverty and violence. These children are often sent alone by their families hoping for a better life for their children, but other times, they are escaping domestic violence, or are abandoned by smugglers near the border. Back in comparatively normal 2018, about 28% of child applicants were granted asylum by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with other forms of legal help going out to many other children, like special visas for extenuating circumstances. But “normal” has been about the last word one pick to describe the last year or so. On March
20, 2020, the Trump administration, more specifically the CDC, issued an order that suspended all asylum procedures for the vast majority of all immigrants, including unaccompanied minors. The implications of this action meant that no matter how dire the situation was for these children showing up at the border, not a single asylum hearing could be held. The legal standing for this action comes from Section 362 of the 1944 Public Health Service Act, giving the Surgeon General the power to suspend “introduction of persons or goods” coming into the U.S. in the interest of public health. Many social advocacy groups and watchdog organizations have publicly demonstrated their opposition to this action, citing that this asylum shutdown violates the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection
Act of 2008 (reauthorized in 2013), legislation that outlined the rights of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. In a letter to the Biden transition agency review team, The Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared, “The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that two powerful hurricanes this year have left hundreds of thousands of people in emergency shelters and impacted over five million people in Guatemala and Honduras. People forced to flee gang or other violence in Central America or elsewhere, meanwhile, have – under the Trump administration’s ill-justified COVID-19 summary expulsion order – been denied a fair opportunity to seek asylum.” The HRW, a social investigative and advocacy group founded in 1978, continued by writing, “Many of these policies have had the effect of stranding asylum seekers in dangerous Mexican border cities where they have no meaningful access to due process or legal representation, often leaving them no choice but to live in unhygienic camps and shelters without adequate measures to ensure social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the approximately 20,000 asylum seekers still waiting in Mexico.” Ultimately, it is absolutely essential that we as human beings put aside our political differences to look out for those who are experiencing desperate, drastic, and in some cases life-threatening events. Whether it be a 17 year old child fearfully attempting to escape gang violence in El Salvador, or a 16 year old from Guatemala by themselves in the world fleeing domestic abuse, we as a nation must not be yet another door slammed shut in the faces of these children in need. PHOTO BY BEN FANJOY
U.S.'s Role in a New World Order BY ELI GLICKMAN Countries across the globe have turned inwards to attempt to mitigate the effects of the pandemic while also securing their supply chains to prevent future shocks from wreaking the havoc they did this past year. As a result, the volume of world merchandise trade declined 9.2% in 2020, international tourist numbers fell 65% in the first half of 2020, and migration flows to OECD countries decreased 46% in the first half of 2020. As the world has become less interconnected, many are questioning whether their countries should engage in globalization to the same extent once the lockdowns are over. Before the Trump administration, America was active in many international organizations; however, former President Trump’s policy of isolationism and nationalism limited the extent to which America participated in multilateral organizations. In many ways, the administration of President Biden has reversed that. The U.S. is rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization, and Mr. Biden’s diplomats are scrambling to reassemble the Iran nuclear deal. America’s standing around the globe undoubt-
edly took a hit during the Trump years and it remains unclear whether or not President Biden’s foreign policy will halt or contribute to that decline. What is clear, however, is that the U.S. must use the pandemic as an opportunity to determine what role it wants to assume when globalization and multilateralism resume. The founding prime minister of Singapore, the late Lee Kuan Yew once said “when things always become better, people tend to want more for less work.” Prime Minister Yew’s statement truly encapsulates the question of American involvement in an interconnected global community. For the past 30 years, the U.S. has rested on its laurels. America and its allies bested the U.S.S.R. and brought about a period of peace, economic growth, and global development like never before. However, people all around the world began to expect more and do less. While people demanded more honest, transparent governments, some elected proto fascist, nativist populists. Rather than take initiative and create economic policies that could truly uplift people, they chose to fearmonger and blame immigration and globalism for their woes. As global civilization has grown stag-
nant and ineffective, so too has American civilization. America’s infrastructure is crumbling, economic inequality is rising, climate change is threatening communities and livelihoods, and a global pandemic has ravaged the American medical system. To understand the degree to which America has faltered, one can look to Nigeria—a country that trails the U.S. in nearly every quality of life metric—where only 0.00000915% of the population has died due to the coronavirus compared with 0.00152% of the American population. America, once a beacon of democracy and human rights for the world, has seen the Capitol overrun by a ravenous mob of conspiracy theorists and terrorists. America must now reconcile with its crumbling stature. It can no longer afford to make demands of the global community, the global economy, or its own society and whine like a petulant toddler when those demands are not met; as the ascendant generation it is our duty to put in the work needed to realize a world where people are treated equally, where opportunity is abundant, and where democracy reigns supreme once more. GRAPHIC BY NAHUM EPHREM
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Flight CO(VID)-19 Has Been Cancelled” BY EVE LONDON AND DEVLIN ORLIN “I’m coming to the U.S. to see you! I got an emergency visa,” says former B-CC student Lilinaz Hakimi’s Iranian grandmother. Lilinaz was overjoyed that her grandmother, who was supposed to leave Iran the week flights there shut down, could now travel to safety in the U.S. After Lilinaz’s excited screams, her grandmother responded with “April fools!” Although Lilinaz described it as a lighthearted joke, students across our community and country are contending with increased stress not only due to the pandemic, but also due to having family overseas, and worries about their health and future visits. The effects on high school students with families outside the U.S. during the coronavirus are major and lacking in adequate coverage. This demographic is pivotal because these high school students are worrying about the health and safety of their immediate family, their school work, and their emotional and mental stability, in addition to family outside the country whom they cannot help. This extra source of concern has spiked some of these students’ anxiety and stress levels in an already taxing time. These students fear that their family will get sick and some fear that they will not be able to see their older family members again. Their hope that they will be able to overcome travel and mental and emotional obstacles is indicative of national efforts to stay connected with family, yet these students with relatives abroad face additional concerns. Each student with family outside the country at this time faces a different set of struggles. Lilinaz, who is from Iran and still has family there, described one unique challenge specific to Iran: a strict political climate. According to her, “the pandemic makes it much more dangerous to visit and that will be coupled in coming years with the political strictness of Iran.” Her few family members that have left Iran due to the pandemic have now essentially moved
to the United States and will be staying here indefinitely. Lilinaz was saddened that her grandmother could not visit for her graduation, as she is only able to see many family members at major events (warranting about a 13-hour flight), but she is comforted in knowing her family that is in Iran is in isolation together and are currently healthy and emotionally supported. Fia, a B-CC senior with family in Argentina, primarily in the capital of Buenos Aires and surrounding towns, has been told by her family that the Argentine government has taken strict measures against COVID-19, ensuring their current health and safety. However, this pandemic has greatly shifted her worldview. She mentions that “although Argentina had a quicker response time and my family is healthy, I hadn’t thought of the consequences that a global pandemic would have on my own lives and the lives of millions globally until now.” She annually visits her family in Argentina during the summer, but this year she will be unable to visit due to likely continued travel restrictions. Although she is disappointed to miss her chance to connect with cousins and family members this year, she understands that the current global situation requires sacrifices. Eva, an Italian B-CC student with family in Naples, Rome, and Milan, has been monitoring her family’s health and safety long before the U.S. began taking serious precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In early March 2020, Italy was a hotspot for COVID-19. Eva recalls that “it was particularly scary [to have her whole family in Italy during this time] because cases and death rates were going up everyday and at a certain point Italy had to start denying seniors treatment.” This was a troubling situation for Eva because all of her grandparents live in Italy and one of her cousins, who is an essential worker, lives with her grandmother. This unforeseen event has reaffirmed for her that “you never know when the last time you’re going to see
your family is,” so it is important to cherish their company and not take any visit for granted. Eva patiently waits to hear that it is safe to visit them. Carl, a former B-CC student with family in Denmark has increasingly followed Danish news since the country went on lockdown. Carl was “surprised that the U.S. was not already on lockdown like Denmark was.” While Carl has had concerns about his grandmother’s health and his younger cousins eagerness to visit his older relatives in spite of safety restrictions, he is “not too worried about the situation and [believes his family] will be okay.” As Denmark is slowly reopening, he is confident that his family will be able to move back to Denmark in late July. He is hoping that the travel restrictions will become less strict in the near future seeing how his family “already has their plane tickets and passports.” In many ways, the current social climate reflects the anthropological theory of structural functionalism. In today’s world, as the sacrifices of many teens show, the needs of society are above the needs of the individual and overall culture is working to satisfy the basic needs of individuals as members of society. Worldwide culture is evolving to meet the needs of safety and bodily comfort by supporting and greatly utilizing videoconferencing and methods of online connection. The high school students whose families lived overseas during this time are a part of this structural functionalist evolution: they are finding new ways to stay in contact with family members and ensure they are physically and mentally well. Fia noted that she “regularly communicates with [her] cousins and other younger adults, but now [she is] more certain to check up on her grandma, who only has a landline phone, weekly.” All of the teens shared the sentiment that family connection is a growing essentiality in this time and one that benefits our society.
Dorothy Knutson “Some of my best art came out of quarantine because art has been an outlet for me to express my emotions and connect with the world we were all isolated from. I believe that art was what got many artists through the pandemic; we had more time and more emotions to capture than we had ever had before.”
According to a 2021 Axios study, screen time among children and teens was up 50% compared to March 2020. That can't be good. Or can it? CURATED BY NATHANIEL SCHRADER; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
The Growth of Livestreaming BY JACKSON HERMES If you’ve ever found yourself browsing the internet after a day of online school, chances are you’ve come across live streams on Twitch, one of the largest, fastest-growing platforms on the internet. Owned by Amazon, the heavyweight of the industry has seen immense growth throughout the pandemic and is projected to continue this growth into 2021 and beyond. New streamers are joining the platform every day, chasing the dream of internet fame and the ability to make a living off of producing live online content.
month. Over the course of the pandemic, Twitch’s growth has skyrocketed even more. Between March and April of 2020, the number of monthly hours watched grew from 1 to 1.65 billion, with the platform also setting an all-time record of 2.5 million concurrent viewers as of January 2021. Similar to the growing viewership of the platform, the number of monthly unique broadcasters also rose astronomically over the pandemic, with an average of 87,000 in 2020 and 118,000 in the month of January 2021 alone. Many of these new broadcasters do Twitch as a side job or hobby, something they’ve been able to pick up with the extra free time allotted to them by the pandemic.
“Chasing the dream of internet fame and “The number of the ability to make a monthly unique living off of producing live online content.” broadcasters also rose astronomically over Founded in 2011 as an offshoot of the pandemic, with an internet startup and acquired by an average of 87,000 Amazon in 2014, Twitch has been the dominant live-streaming platform in 2020 and 118,000 since its inception. Quickly surpassin the month of Jan. ing its parent company, Twitch broke onto the scene posting 8 million 2021 alone.” unique viewers in July of 2011 and growing to over 35 million unique monthly viewers over the next two years. Since its infancy, Twitch’s primary demographic has been viewers of competitive video games, with events for games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and Fortnite often pulling hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers across the platform. After those early days, Twitch continued to grow massively, both in terms of viewership and the number of users actively broadcasting. By 2015, Twitch streams reached more than 100 million unique monthly viewers and by February 2020, more than 3 million unique broadcasters were going live per
To gain a little more insight into this, I talked with one of my favorite content creators, Nathan Stanz. During working hours, Stanz is the General Manager of Gen.G Esports, one of the most valuable gaming organizations in the world, but once the day is over he turns to his eponymous Twitch channel and regularly broadcasts himself playing video games 3-4 hours a day, 5-7 days a week to hundreds of live viewers. Stanz credits a lot of his channel’s growth to working from home, noting that “The largest advantage afforded to me by the pandemic has been the complete removal of a commute. Even though it has only saved me an hour each day, I am
at my computer at 5 PM more awake and alert, ready to put on a show.” Similarly, Stanz mentioned that “The pandemic has led to both more people streaming, but more importantly more people watching. This is especially true during the day when it is easier for people working or schooling from home to keep a Twitch tab open,” giving credence to the idea that his and many other streamer’s levels of success is much greater now than it would be if people were leading their regular, pre-pandemic lives. On the other hand, many of these part-time streamers will have to decide between continuing with content creation once full-time commuting and work resumes. For Stanz, “online performing is a passion of [his], and it is a real fear that a return to an office environment would take it away,” echoing the fears of hundreds of other streamers who have built communities over the pandemic and will not be able to dedicate as much time to content creation as they currently have. It is no question that Twitch will continue to grow in 2021 and beyond. The gaming industry is robust and the hundreds of thousands of people that have grown to become passionate about content creation will play a huge part in how our generation consumes media and entertainment in the future. The only thing that remains to be seen is how far Twitch can go before it is eclipsed by something new like Twitch itself has done to many past competitions.
“Online perfroming is a passion of his and it is a real fear that a return to an office environment would take it away.”
GeForce To The Rescue: How a Graphic Card Made the Pandemic More Bearable BY JACOB HOTAKAINEN Tech company Nvidia released the Geforce 30 series graphics cards on September 17, 2020. This release consisted of cards including the RTX 3060, 3060 TI, 3070, 3080, and 3090. This was a big deal because the 20 series has been mainstream for the past couple of years with cards such as the 2080 Ti and 2070 Super being top sellers. PC builder enthusiasts, gamers, graphics designers, and more united to celebrate the release of the new 30 series, only for disaster to strike. On the day of the release it was almost impossible to buy one. The reason was that bots bought out all the inventory of these new graphics cards right when the clock struck 12 to resell them to customers at insanely high prices. Popular companies including Micro Center, Newegg, Amazon, and more ran out of cards right away and very few people were able to claim them. A Youtube video by a popular tech YouTuber known as BitWit showed the chaos that ensued at a Micro Center in California during the release of the 3070 and 3080. Customers were shown waiting out in the cold for days straight just to snag themselves one of these new cards. These graphics cards are so popular because of their new innovative technology and price point. Despite being up to $1,500 in some cases, the RTX 3080, one of the 30 series top sellers at the moment, delivers a 50-80% boost in performance compared to the 2080, the previous generation graphics card. It is also one of the first GPUs that can make 4K gaming come into the spotlight. I was surprised to find out that Daniel Janis, an instrumental music and resource teacher at B-CC High School, bought the MSI 3070. When asked how hard it was to get one of these new cards and what the process was like, Janis said, “I consider myself lucky. I spent about a week researching online and checking for aftermarket sales just
in case something came up. None of the major retailers had it in stock according to their websites, and eBay markups were around 200% retail. I drove up to Micro Center in Rockville on the Saturday after Thanksgiving… inside the store, I happened to walk by an employee who was talking with a customer. The customer asked if there were any 30-series in stock, and to my absolute shock, the employee said ‘actually we just got two more today’ I whipped around and said ‘I’ll take the second one.’ If I hadn’t gone out that day, I might have given up and gotten a 10-series.” Based on reviews and online posts, it seems as if the card is better for workstation use than gaming use which is great considering Janis talked about how he does “video editing involving playing musical instruments, so I am often showing multiple clips of myself at once. Needless to say, the GPU on my laptop could barely support a few minutes of video editing, so an upgrade was needed.” Many graphics designers and video editors might find a card like this to be of great use as “video editing platforms of all kinds are quite taxing on the GPU because they are constantly rendering each frame of the project, which often has multiple clips engaged at once,” said Janis. When asked if he thought the card lived up to the hype and expectations he said “absolutely, there is nothing I can’t run on this machine. It almost feels overkill sometimes. I have an FPS counter on most of my games and it usually sits well above what my 144 Hz monitor can even display. With video editing, I’m able to cut hours off of the time it used to take me to complete projects just because I’m not constantly waiting for the program to catch up with itself.” Despite being expensive, the card is incredible at handling extreme video editing tasks while also being one of the top-notch cards to run every game
at a high frame rate. When asked if he thought spending all the time and money to get a 3080 was worth it, he said, “it’s hard to say. I don’t think I’ve figured out what the breaking point of the 20-series cards is compared to what the 30-series cards do. I got very lucky and was definitely ready to say ‘forget it’ and go with a 10 or 20-series. But at least for now, I know that I am well ahead of the curve in terms of GPU capabilities and it will definitely take some time for the game developers to create something that breaks this card’s ceiling.” Overall, the Nvidia RTX 30-series is an amazing line-up of cards that may or may not be worth it depending on what you need. If you have the money and need a top-level GPU for gaming or workstation use, the series is a great option. However, for a regular gamer like myself, it’s safe to stick to a 10 or 20 series card such as the GTX 1660 or RTX 2070 for now and see what Nvidia can come out with in the future.
GRAPHIC BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Jack Stocker “Making art during the pandemic had some upsides, like having more flexible time and settings to do art, as well as spending more time at home where all my materials are. The pandemic was also hard, though, since especially with less structure sometimes it was harder to find the motivation to make art.”
During the pandemic, we all had to accept challenges along the way. Here are stories of teens who had to accept more than most. CURATED BY ELYAS LAUBACH AND GAVIN SISLER; CHAPTER COVER BY KELSEA PETERSEN
Immunocompromised Students Struggle During the Pandemic
BY KATHERINE LAWSON AND REBECCA STANISLAWSKI In January 2020, the world as we knew it changed. The first U.S. COVID-19 case was identified -- a traveler who had flown in from Wuhan, China. People all over the U.S., and the world, were advised to stay at home and social distance. While this was a scary and uncertain time for everyone, it was especially nerve wracking for immunocompromised people, who were concerned for their safety. When someone is immunocompromised it means that their immune system’s defenses are low, damaging their ability to fight off illness and infection. These people are especially vulnerable to contracting and having strong negative reactions to diseases like COVID-19. Roughly 2.7% of people in the U.S. are immunocompromised, and this number is increasing every year. COVID-19 can take a psychological toll on students and family members who are immunocompromised. School closures and mandatory social distancing are often frustrating for students in general, but they can be even more difficult for those who are immunocompromised. Sophia*, 16, is an immunocompromised B-CC junior. Her
mother and brother are also immunocompromised. She says that she feels left out because she can no longer do things like hug her friends and go to restaurants anymore. COVID-19 is not only affecting immunocompromised teens physically, but also mentally, as mandatory social distancing increases feelings of isolation and loneliness. Fear and anxiety about this unpredictable disease can be very overwhelming for everyone, but particularly those who it could hurt the most: those who are immunocompromised. Abby*, a 16 year-old immunocompromised student explained that the constant need to be aware of her interactions and choices is very demanding and stressful, especially as she sees her peers disobeying social distancing laws and acting irresponsibly. Trying to balance her personal struggles with the pandemic and the concept that other people are struggling too has been an obstacle for Sophia. “I feel almost guilty at times for feeling like I am in a bad situation because there are other people out there who are financially unstable during this time. But I know I am allowed to struggle also,” she said. Samantha*, a 17 year old student who is living with an immunocompromised mother, admits that her biggest desire is to see her friends. “Not seeing my friends is having an effect on my mental health which makes me feel like I am in a constant cycle of the same thing everyday,” she said. There are groups of immunocompromised students emerging to tell the story of this stressful and isolating time. “I think one thing that the media
and schools don’t seem to understand is how these policies are impacting the mental health of their students,” Lynch, an immunocompromised student, told CNN in an interview about her experiences in the pandemic. “The support from the community of immunocompromised students has been really inspiring,” said Abby. “I can tell that everyone is in this together, and it makes me feel less alone.” “I have to stop myself from doing most things I enjoy because I know getting sick is not worth it,” Abby said. She added that putting in all that extra work will pay off in the end. “It’s really isolating to have to be so careful, but when we are back to normal, I’ll know that I did everything I could. Those who didn’t put in the effort will hopefully realize the impact of their actions and realize that the way they acted was unacceptable.” Immunocompromised students have been struggling to find ways to get through such a lonely time. Some take the initiative to try something new in an effort to keep their minds off of the pandemic. Many students noted that engaging in activities they enjoy helps them get through the harder days. Whether it be writing songs, painting, or baking, hobbies can help to ease the worrying. *All names have been changed
“It’s really isolating to have to be so careful, but when we are back to normal, I’ll know I did everything I could” GRAPHIC BY SYDNEY THEIS
Transgender Teens Confined to Hostile Home Environments BY ASHTON DODGE AND ELEANOR FAIRBANKS Following the global outbreak of COVID-19, many American teenagers’ schooling has been confined to their homes to stop the spread. This is one of the strongest defenses we have against physical dangers, but what about social ones? For many teens that identify as transgender, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire. “Not much has given me hope,” said Bethesda teen Ty*, whose school has been closed to prevent infection since March. This may seem like a common teenage disposition, but for the transgender community, hopelessness is a frighteningly pervasive phenomenon. Without the support system that friends can provide, simple isolation can give way to deeper issues. The inability to spend time with friends and out of the house particularly impacted transgender teenagers. To Ty, this separation from friends had a huge impact. “My friends were the only ones who knew and respected my existence and not being able to see them in person all the time is difficult,” they said. Ty hasn’t come out as transgender to their parents, because their dad “never really got this kind of stuff” and their mother’s response to their sibling coming out as non-binary was “not great.” This has forced them to present as their assigned gender at home, which, for many transgender people, can cause emotional distress and significantly impact mental health.
“My friends were the only ones who knew and respected my exsistence.” The COVID-19 pandemic has caused increased emotional distress for many transgender teenagers confined to their homes with the reduced support that comes from in-person schooling
of friends and school faculty members. Although this comes at a time where while transgender people have seen increased public support, rates of transphobia are still very high. Transgender people are those who do not identify with the gender assigned at birth and use the term “transgender” to describe themselves. Some of the subcategories within transgender teenagers include those that identify as trans women, trans men, and nonbinary people. General estimates hover below 1%, with about 1 million of American adults identifying as transgender. The Williams Institute found in 2016 that 0.5% of adults age 65 and older identify as transgender and 0.7% of of adults 18-24 identify as transgender, and that more densely populated states such as Texas or California had the highest percentages of transgender people compared to rural states, like North Dakota or Iowa.
“0.5% of adults age 65 and older identify as transgender and 0.7% of adults 18-24 identify as transgender.” The CDC’s BRFSS data allows the Williams Institute to estimate that 0.6% of adult Americans are transgender, which is double the estimate made about a decade ago. According to a survey of teenagers in Minnesota in 2016, almost 3% of teens in 11th and 12th grade identify as trangender. When compared to a government survey of adults across the United States, this is a much higher rate; as less than 1% of adults identify as transgender. This suggests a large difference in the transgender population between Generation Z and the generations that are currently adults, including Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. The increased acceptance of transgender people over time, as well as the increase in education and awareness,
may have contributed to the larger population. Gender nonconforming behavior was illegal in the past. A person perceived as a man could be arrested, imprisoned, or institutionalized for wearing “women’s” clothes. Even after these laws were repealed, social stigma discouraged it. This stigma has also lessened over the years, which would explain why youth are more likely to identify as transgender than older groups.
“I just think society is a lot more accepting than it was twenty years ago.” Ty came to the same conclusion. “I just think society is a lot more accepting than it was twenty years ago. Some people think there are more of us because it’s ‘trendy.’” They brought up a number of social occurrences that account for the rise in cultural acceptance, from the Stonewall riots to more esoteric cultural humor. “There’s that meme where the guy from Total Drama Island says in the voice, ‘Alright campers, I heard from an anonymous source that someone has not been supporting trans rights. Not cool dudes.’ That one was popular. I think it’s powerful stuff. We’re not the butt of the joke anymore.” Some of the transgender teens in quarantine at home have been making choices that satisfy their need for bodily comfort and safety. Even if they are not out to their family at home, many teens still try to use their gender presentation in order to feel more comfortable with their bodies. Dakota*, a nonbinary teenager from Oregon, has used the time at home to explore different ways of expressing their gender. Dakota says that their “gender expression is all over the place,” ranging from “hyper feminine to hyper masculine” as they try to find ways of dress that make them the most comfortable with their gender.
GRAPHIC BY SYDNEY THEIS However, the need for safety has caused some teens to not come out to their family because it may create an unsafe home environment, either emotionally or in other ways. Dakota’s family uses their birth name, which can often negatively affect trans teenagers by creating a feeling of not being accepted. This pandemic has increased the difficulties of the home lives of many transgender teenagers, and for others, it has also highlighted the discomfort associated with attending school in person. Seamus*, a senior at a high school in Bethesda, describes his experience of feeling more comfortable over Zoom because “teachers and students can hear [his] voice and see [his] face, [...] but they can't exactly question [his] gender because of what they see physically.” The parts of his physical appearance that he is most self-conscious about due to how people perceive his gender - such as his “height, binder bump, [and] the shape of [his] body” - aren’t visible on camera. This causes Seamus to feel more comfortable in the online school setting than he was in the school building. Seamus’ experience of “a physical fear of being seen for some-
thing [he’s] not” during normal school years is unfortunately one that many transgender teenagers face, often from both classmates and family members inside their own homes. What is it that these kids need? Unfortunately, it’s impossible to convince each of their families to become trans allies overnight, as acceptance is one of the few things that cannot be forced. This is no reason to give up, however. Making the lives of transgender youth easier can be accomplished through small actions with very real reverberations. To avoid instances of “deadnaming” (when a student is referred to by a name that they do not claim as their own, often a humiliating experience for the recipient) schools should allow students to change their names on Zoom. Many schools have this function turned off to avoid students changing their name to something silly— but since when is it proper to sweep aside the needs of a minority because a teacher can’t control their class? It is unforgivably demeaning to make students ask for their instructor to change their name on the Zoom call every single day. Each minor problem that trans
students face can be solved in a similarly simple manner using procedural thought. To avoid misgendering, pronouns can be recorded next to student names. Additionally, students struggling with dysphoria can be excused from having cameras on. While it is true that these issues can be dealt with, they continue to be problems in the interim. The lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the foreseeable future have affected various cross-sections of people in many different ways, often more negatively than positively. Transgender teenagers are included in this; whether it be due to lack of access to friends, difference in gender presentation at home, or an overall toxic home environment, these teens have had to deal with problems on a daily basis that have been magnified by the pandemic. The effects on the mental and emotional health of these teenagers, as well as lasting impact on overall societal perception of transgender people, will be an interesting result of the spread of COVID-19. *All names have been changed
Persevering Through the Pandemic BY MIA ROMANO Nick Gross, a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, was one of many people directly affected by the pandemic. Not only did he contract the virus himself, but he is living with two people who are at high risk: his parents. In spite of these hardships, Nick has found a way to stay academically driven and still take part in other pursuits. Nick is a motivated student who, in the face of great undertakings at home, still manages to continue his academic and athletic responsibilities, as well as his role in the community. Nick’s mom, Holly Gross, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in July of 2019. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is most known from the ice bucket challenge attributed to promoting awareness of the disease. ALS is a progressive neurological disease that can result in the overall breakdown of nerves and, therefore, decreased muscle function. It is a rare disease with both no known cause and no known cure.
For a long time, the Gross family struggled to obtain a definitive diagnosis of Mrs. Gross’ suffering. There is no real test for ALS, so there were months of testing and ruling out other diseases before confirming that ALS was the issue. Her first symptoms included vocal weakness, which began in November of 2018. In September of the following year, Mrs. Gross started to experience difficulty walking, and is currently in a wheelchair. As of this November, Mrs. Gross has not been able to speak. She communicates by typing, using the remaining range of motion of her hands. Mrs. Gross also has to eat and take her
medication through a feeding tube. Although medication cannot cure ALS, it is beneficial in the ways of slowing its progression and reducing discomfort. Nick and his brother have had to step into bigger roles in their family. Nick has begun making their dinners, usually his favorite being homemade pasta dishes. He and his older brother, Jake, wake up at different times throughout the night to give their mom her medicine and tend to any needs. As her primary care-givers, Nick and Jake help feed their mom, give her medicine, take her to the restroom, and get her ready for bed. Nick said, “I don’t think of these new responsibilities as a burden or a sacrifice, I see it as a way to give back to my parents who have worked so hard to provide the life I have.” Jim Gross, Nick’s dad, has been battling Parkinson’s disease for the past 15 years. Mr. Gross has a strictly scheduled day that begins with 4 a.m. vocal exercises and continuous physical activity. Through all of this, Mr. Gross continues to work from home as a lawyer to support his family. Despite their consuming daily routines, the family is in good spirits and look forward to seeing Nick and his brother attend and graduate college. His parents’ positive mentality, regardless of their troubles, have helped shape Nick as both a student and athlete. He said, “My mom is the source behind my motivation, pushing me to do better in school, crew, and college applications.” Nick himself was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020 after receiving a false positive test for strep throat. Nick didn’t experience severe side effects, losing only his sense of smell. Despite his lack of symptoms, Nick has been serious about social distancing especially to his parents who are susceptible to COVID-19 and its many symptoms. Even though Nick has a lot on his plate with school work, team commitments, and responsibilities at home, he has managed to participate in local stream cleanups and fundraisers for the Environmental Service and Science
Club (ESSC), a club that he founded last year. ESSC works in Montgomery County to make the surrounding areas more green and environmentally conscious. ESSC is also working to create a network of clubs in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area to achieve better results and improve our community as a whole. The toll of family troubles, academic work, and more can be overwhelming for Nick. Teachers are flexible with him, but Nick tends not to bring up his personal life with others very often, as he doesn’t want to receive special treatment. Nick made it clear that he did not want “sympathy points’’ in school. He remains a determined student regardless of where school takes place and what other responsibilities he takes on at home. On top of the direct impacts of ALS on Mrs. Gross and the other challenges they face, it has not been easy for the Gross family financially. Expensive medical bills and private nursing have forced them to live frugally. In 2020, family, friends, and strangers came together to help the Gross’ by setting up a fundraiser. Nick says that the amount of people that attended to show their support took him by surprise. “Being at the fundraiser and seeing how many people came served as a reminder to how far my mom’s impact was felt throughout her life,” said Nick. Through these difficult times, it has meant a lot to their family to have people reach out, offering their assistance. He said, “Having friends reach out to me and my family has really kept us in high spirits.” There is also a GoFundMe for Mrs. Gross, collecting donations to help pay for medical expenses and aid their family. Nick says that this is the best way to help them. He is appreciative of all the contributions and said that “the support has been incredible.” Nick said, “The community support has kept us afloat. I don’t know what the future holds with COVID and my family, but I know we have the support we need to see it through.”
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM JULIANA CAPIZZI AND COLE PHILPOTT; PHOTO COURTESY OF CARMEN PHILLIPS-ALVAREZ; GRAPHIC BY TILLY SANDMEYER
Madeline Kemp “My art is driven by a love of color and light and a desire to experiment with different color relationships and schemes. I use portraiture as a vehicle rather than a subject, as a way to communicate color palettes that evoke emotions and memories. I love painting and colored pencil, as well as experimenting with mixed media and collaging.”
Reflections on Lockdown BY ELI GLICKMAN The foreword astutely notes that “we [...] retreated into our rooms as 15 year olds and c[a]me out as 17 year olds.” The pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns have been harrowing experiences for all involved, amplified by the passage of time. Over the past year children and adults alike have grappled with intense aimless boredom and isolation.
“Coming of age in a pandemic means waiting for an onslaught of renewed social interaction and novel social responsibility.” Regardless of whether or not one physically attended work or school during the day or night, the communitarian social interactions that we as humans have come to depend on all but evaporated. Since the outset of the pandemic, we’ve anxiously waited for a time when we can gather as a community again, uninhibited by the regulations that inhere to quarantine mandates. In his seminal and ever-relevant Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, French philosopher Michel Foucault noted “a whole literary fiction of the festival grew up around the plague: suspended laws, lifted prohibitions, the frenzy of passing time, bodies mingling together without respect, individuals unmasked, abandoning their statutory identity” (Foucault, 197). GRAPHIC BY JACK STOCKER
This is the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel; coming of age in a pandemic means waiting for an onslaught of renewed social interaction and novel social responsibility, we are young no longer. To understand the toll of the pandemic, we must interrogate how this pandemic has changed our social dynamics. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben noted at the beginning of the pandemic that “the recent provisions [...] transform every individual into a potential infector.” Agamben was excoriated by the Italian public and many of his intellectual peers for his interpretation of the danger posed by COVID-19 regulations and his critique of lockdown measures. Irrespective of the benefits and drawbacks posed by lockdown provisions, the way we see our fellow humans has been fundamentally altered. Agamben grimly declared that “our neighbour has been abolished.” Our perception of those around us, even our trusted friends and beloved family members, has been transformed into one where we see them as threats, potential vectors of COVID-19. This is explained by Agamben’s later clarification of his stance in the European Journal of Psychoanalysis, “a war against an invisible enemy that can nestle in any other human being is the most absurd of wars. It is, to be truthful, a civil war. The enemy isn’t somewhere outside, it’s inside us.”
“Our society has been warped fundamentally.” Our society has been warped fundamentally. We have—in the understandable interest of self-preservation—become paranoid, terrified of those we used to welcome into our lives and also the havoc we can wreak on oth-
ers should we fail to self-isolate. This paranoia has bred destructive tendencies that have further altered our social landscape. As a result, there is now a horrific popular perception that since the pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, Asian people—regardless of their national origin—are either to blame or more likely to spread the pandemic. This is—of course—totally untrue. Regardless of the total falsity of that belief, Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 150% across the U.S. in 2020. The foreword notes the “drastic negative effects on the overall mental health of the population due to the psychological stress of living through a pandemic.” This has naturally complicated the already befuddling process of ‘coming of age.’ During the pandemic, our society has had a dearth of opportunities to mitigate the brutal isolationism provoked by the quarantine orders. When we finally reach the idyllic post-pandemic era, we must seek to assess the extent of psychological torment that our society has undergone and learn how to undo it. We must rebuild our community bonds and learn to lean on one another once more, seeing each other not as threats but as compatriots. Where I diverge from the foreword in my reflections is my concern about the political implications of this pandemic. Foucault warned “but there was also a political dream of the plague which was exactly its reverse:[...] the penetration of regulation into even the smallest details of everyday life through the mediation of the complete hierarchy that assured the capillary functioning of power” (Foucault, 197-198). Let us not soon forget that this pandemic, due to the clear danger it posed to our society, ushered in a level of political intervention as obscene in terms of its capacity to expand the power of the state, if not more obscene than the post-9/11 Patriot Act frenzy. Indeed this pandemic has refocused the pan-
optic gaze of the sovereign on not just our communications and affiliations, as the War on Terror did, but our movement and our biological existence. Agamben holds that the political landscape of the pandemic has “[shown] the tendency to use a state of exception as a normal paradigm for government. The legislative decree immediately approved by the government ‘for hygiene and public safety reasons’ actually produces an authentic militarization ‘of the municipalities and areas with the presence of at least one person who tests positive and for whom the source of transmission is unknown, or in which there is at least one case that is not ascribable to a person who recently returned from an area already affected by the virus.’”
“We must rebuild our community bonds and learn to lean on one another once more, seeing each other not as threats but as compatriots. ” When we emerge from this pandemic, we will face a host of difficulties in our societal recovery. Agamben queried, “What will human relations become in a country that will be accustomed to living in this way for who knows how long? And what is a society with no other value other than survival?” I propose no answers to these questions that underpin our post-pandemic reality, but rather suggest that we remember this cataclysm, how it changed us, how it changed the world, and what it signifies for the next cataclysm that will surely come anon.
Turning Tides BY AMELIA DIAZ I used to take the train Hear the metals grating as buildings flew past And make small talk over the muffled mechanics rumbling beneath us. I used to file into my classes Pushing past friends and strangers alike Only to spend endless hours confined in a place I didn’t want to be. Now with nowhere to go, I feel more free in a much smaller space Scrambling to fit waitlisted activities into days I never thought I would have And still, I am left with more time As days turn to weeks, and weeks to months For who knows how much longer.
The Story Continues. Check out amazing creative writing, videos, audio, and much more here: