Page 1

Volume 64 • Issue 5 • March 2020 • McLean High School • thehighlandernews.com • @MHSHighlander



Website Editor-in-Chief: News Editor:

Dasha Makarishcheva Aleena Gul

Features Editors: A&E Editor:

Grace Gould & Mae Monaghan Cc Palumbo

Opinions Editor:

Saisha Dani

Sports Editor:

Matthew Zarkani

Swimming to success Heran Essayas Keep up with the McLean swim and dive team’s performance at finals from Feb. 21-22 at George Mason University. Both boys and girls excelled at a competitive meet with schools from all over the region.

Students gather for summer job fair Swetha Manimaran & Lia Vincenzo The job fair held March 3 aimed to help students learn about summer job opportunities. With information regarding everything from lifeguarding to tutoring, this fair allowed students to explore the workforce.

Juniors focus on the future Kyle Hawley On Junior Focus Day, McLean’s junior class had a full day dedicated to future planning. They discussed the college application process as well as job interviews and resume building.

Highlander patrons As a student-run program, The Highlander would like to thank our generous supporters who make it possible to print our newsmagazine. Listed below are this year’s contributors. We would also like to thank all of our anonymous supporters.

Platinum ($300+) Silver ($100+)

Gold ($200+) Bronze ($50+)

The Romhilt Family The Chung Family

The Brooks Family The Carrasco Family The Garcia Family The Lawton Family The Ogilvie-Russell Family The Zubarev Family

Page design by Pran Kittivorapat

Subscribe to The Highlander today to get all our 2019-20 newsmagazine issues for $25!

two ways to subscribe:

1. MySchoolBucks 2. Scan this QR code to find our online subscription form

interested in advertising with us?

Email highlander.advertising@gmail.com for more information

Letter from the editors Dear McLean, High school athletics are growing evermore competitive, and McLean athletes, whose demanding schedules are brimming with both academic and extracurricular activities, are no strangers to this phenomenon. In addition to feeling overworked, athletes face immense pressure from peers, coaches and parents, leading them to rely on unnatural supplements to improve and maintain standards others set for them. An exploration of McLean students’ sports experiences awaits in this issue’s indepth article, and it exposes the real cost athletic strains have on our students. Yours truly, Nicholas Lohman, Ava Rotondo & Dasha Makarishcheva

thehighlandernews.com|@MHSHighlander Editors-in-Chief: Nicholas Lohman & Ava Rotondo Design/Website Editor-in-Chief: Dasha Makarishcheva Managing Editors: Ben Brooks, Dana Edson, Sebastian Jimenez, Jessica Opsahl-Ong, Rebeka Rafi & Jack Shields

Copy Editors:

Zach Anderson Addie Brown Emily Jackson Ally Liu


Skye Sunderhauf


Jackson Clayton Arin Kang Dasha Makarishcheva Jayne Ogilvie-Russell


Taylor Olson Marina Qu

Advertising/Circulation Managers:

Rebeka Rafi Sydney Langston Assistant

Fact Checkers: Ariana Elahi Grace Gould Aleena Gul Mae Monaghan Laine Phillips

News Editors:

Addie Brown Cordelia Lawton Marina Qu

Features Editors: Maya Amman Emily Jackson Dua Mobin Katie Romhilt

A&E Editors:

Michelle Cheng Elizabeth Humphreys Isaac Lamoreaux

Opinions Editors: Erica Bass Heran Essayas Kyle Hawley

Sports Editors: Josh Bass Rohan Mani Nicky Varela

Social Media Manager: Erica Bass

Digital Media Editors: Zach Anderson Erica Bass

McLean High School 1633 Davidson Road McLean, Virginia 22101 Reporters:

Noah Barnes Andy Chung Saisha Dani Emily Friedman Arnav Gupta Ana Paula Ibarraran Kaan Kocabal Athena Le Thomas Lohman Emily Mance Shruthi Manimaran

Swetha Manimaran Victoria Mollmann Kara Murri Sam Naemi Cc Palumbo Benjamin Pham Paarth Soni Skye Sunderhauf Lauren Thompson Lia Vincenzo Matthew Zarkani

Adviser: Lindsay B. Benedict

Editorial policy:

The Highlander is a designated public forum in which students can express themselves, discuss issues and exchange ideas. School officials do not exercise prior review on this publication or its online counterpart, and student editors are in charge of all final content decisions.

Advertising policy:

The Highlander sells ad space on each page of the magazine except on the front cover, opinions section and in-depth article. The staff reserves the right to reject any ads it deems libelous, obscene, disruptive or otherwise inappropriate.

To submit a letter to the editors:

Please email it to thehighlanderstaff@gmail.com or bring it to room R133. The staff reserves the right to edit letters for grammar and clarity, and all letters are subject to laws concerning obscenity, libel, privacy and disruption of the school process. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

contents on the cover


PRESSED TO THE LIMIT: The weight of athletic pressure at McLean Cover photo illustration by Ava Rotondo & Dasha Makarishcheva

4-5 6 7 8-9 10 11

12-13 14 15 16 17

18-19 20 21 29 31

International Talent Fest features cultures Virginia news briefs Quiz bowl state champions McLean club updates Coronavirus spreads Super Tuesday results


Highlander of the Issue: Jennifer Yang McLean’s teachers’ pets


10 Qs w/ Steven Walker College tuition breakdown Teachers define slang words

32 33 34-35 36

Artist Spotlight: Abe Askew Lizzo faces body shaming

Editorial: Electives deserve GPA boost Students should get back snow days Crossfire: coronavirus protocols Students prioritize grades over learning

Justin Bieber album review Evolution of white shoes St. Patrick’s Day green drinks

‘17 Pacemaker Winner; ‘15, ‘19 Pacemaker Finalist; ‘15, ‘17, ‘18 All-American; ‘12, ‘13, ‘14, ‘16 First Class; Hall of Fame ‘14, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19 George H. Gallup Award; ‘15 International First Place

‘00, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20 First Amendment Press Freedom Award

‘19 Crown Finalist; ‘17, ‘18 Silver Crown Winner; ‘15, ‘16 Gold Crown Winner ‘05, ‘07, ‘12, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19 CSPA Gold Medalist ‘14, ‘15, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19 VHSL Trophy Class; ‘11, ‘12 First Place Winner; VHSL Savedge Award

37 39 40 41 43 44

Fan culture at McLean Dangers of concussions Students coach league teams Washington Nationals predictions Athlete of the Issue: Randy Shepard The Starting Line Page design by Pran Kittivorapat | Printed by aPrintis


Scan the QR code to find out more about International Talent Fest



cLean’s annual International Night is a way for students to share their cultural backgrounds with the rest of the school. A talent and fashion show were added to the event this year, prompting organizers to call the evening International Talent Fest. On Feb. 21, members of various clubs, including Model UN and UNICEF, decorated the school’s lobby and set up booths which displayed different countries and unique aspects of their cultures. Students dressed in their culture’s traditional clothing and showed off their outfits at the fashion show in the auditorium. From a “vestido tipico” to a Japanese yukata, the show seemed to have it all. People who attended engaged in activities that exposed them to traditional and pop culture aspects of other countries. They also got to sample a wide variety of international cuisine. The biggest attraction, however, was the talent show. Students who signed up beforehand performed onstage, expressing their culture through music and dances. Freshman Abby Chung performed “All I Want” from the popular TV show High School Musical: The Series and won the competition. The International Club, the Asian American Association and Leadership were the main organizers of the fest, and after all their hard work, the event was successful in showcasing the different cultures that make up McLean. “I think [International Night] is important to showcase the diversity of McLean,” said senior Bela Bhatnagar, co-president of the International Club. “Everybody thinks of McLean as an only white school, so it’s cool to show that McLean is a diverse school and that we value diversity.”


1. A PIECE OF JAPAN — Erina Takeyama, Miyu Oe, Nae Oe and Nanako Sugimoto perform a traditional Japanese song. The act was not judged because it was a tribute to Japanese culture. “We were nervous, but we ended up having so much fun performing a song with our yukata on,” Oe said.


2. K-POPPING OFF — Abby Chung, Phoebe Qian and Diana Kim dance to the K-pop song “Psycho” for their talent show performance. Several groups performed dances to this style, but this group stood out and won second place. 3. A TASTE OF THE WORLD — Attendees prepare to sample the spread of food provided by volunteers and members of the International Club, including dishes like basboosa, rice pudding, spicy noodles and taquitos.


4. A DISPLAY OF CULTURE — German exchange student Paul Piestch sits with Andrew and Adam Baker, showing off aspects of Germany’s culture while enjoying dinner. 5. THE WINNER — Freshman Abby Chung receives flowers after winning first place in the talent show. “I wasn’t going into this expecting to win, but it was just a cool experience,” Chung said. 6. A FINAL BOW — At the end of the show, all students who performed are invited onstage. The judges announced the winners and the participants received a final round of applause.




MARCH | NEWS | 5 Photos by Mae Monaghan & Victoria Mollmann | Page design by Mae Monaghan & Dasha Makarishcheva





obert E. Lee High School in Springfield has become one of several schools in Virginia to cut its ties to the Confederacy. On Feb. 6, the Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously to consider renaming the school. Honoring Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee has been a source of contention in communities accross the country. After receiving negative feedback, FCPS decided to hold a discussion on changing Lee High School’s name. This is not the first time an FCPS high school has undergone a name change. In 2017, J.E.B. Stuart High School, which was named after a Confederate cavalry commander, changed its name to Justice High School. In 2019, Arlington County renamed Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty High School. The decision to rename Robert E. Lee High School, though, has sparked controversy. Proponents of the name change argue that people who fought for the preservation of slavery should not be honored while opponents see the changes as futile attempts to erase history. “The name change of Justice High School is widely why Lee

now has the spotlight. I believe the school board has realized the implications that a school’s name can have, and they want to make a point that our county is not defined by our marred past,” said Kimberly Boateng, a junior at Robert E. Lee High School and the Fairfax County School Board’s student representitive. Boateng, a vocal advocate for the name change, said she feels that renaming Lee High School is necessary in moving towards a more inclusive society. Whether or not the school will actually be renamed is unknown. Supporters of the name change hope their values will be reflected in the county’s decision. “This change will represent a far overdue shift toward a more inclusive society,” Boateng said. “My school is largely minority and very clearly that is not something the Confederates would have been happy about—the educating of minorities.” The new name is a significant part of a larger movement. “Names of buildings and statues matter, and replacing symbols of past hatred is a sign of progress,” Boateng said. “We can honor this history in museums, not on the roofs of our schools.”



airfax County passed a resolution on Feb. 20, officially recognizing March as Women’s History Month. The resolution honors the women who fought for equal rights for decades. “This is important because it gives the opportunity to honor the often overlooked accomplishments and contributions of women,” junior Sophia Powell said. This March marks the 100th anniversary of women earning the right to vote. Women’s History Month recognizes the sacrifices of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in their fight for gender equality. “Girls can [now] learn about the amazing things women have done and realize that they can also do anything they want to do,” said senior Lucy Kehoe, head of the Young Democrats. “I hope that everyone will learn that women have just as an important role as men.”




irginia lawmakers recently approved a bill to replace a holiday honoring Confederate generals with one that celebrates Election Day. Observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lee-Jackson Day honors Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, both of whom have strong ties to slavery. The holidays were merged in Virginia as Lee-Jackson-King Day in 1983 but separated in 2000. “The Confederate States of America was a rebellion against the United States, making the holiday inherently unpatriotic,” junior Jake Shue said. According to the bill, Election Day will celebrate the right to vote. “Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy,” Shue said. “Every American who has the ability to vote should not have to jump through hoops to vote.”

all the right answers

Quiz bowl wins states, prepares for nationals

VICTORY SMILES — Varsity quiz bowl team members Tiara Allard, Ethan Zhou, Justin Young, Janna Serrao, Sam Asimos and Noah Chin show off their new state title. The team won by a margin of 310 points and went 3-0 at states. (Photo by Lindsay Benedict)



or the McLean quiz bowl team, years of hard work have finally paid off. On Feb. 29, these dedicated Highlanders went 3-0 at the VHSL state tournament, bringing a state championship to McLean for the first time since marching band won a title in 2018. After not even qualifying for the state tournament last year, team members dedicated themselves to building off the groundwork they had laid out in previous seasons to achieve success. “It’s not that we’re doing anything that differently, but the members of the team are growing and getting more knowledge and getting better at it,” quiz bowl coach Jeff Brocketti said. Attending weekly practices and studying at home, the team’s success required a huge commitment on behalf of the participants and co-coaches Brocketti and Lindsay Benedict. “We meet once a week on Wednesdays after school, and we talk strategy infrequently but mostly just read questions, which improves your knowledge base,” Brocketti said. “We also compete against each other with buzzers, so that helps the team in becoming more confident in buzzing in.”

The team prepared for this year’s competitions by implementing a new approach to building its lineup. In previous years, members of the team were tasked with broadening their general knowledge as much as possible. This season, Brocketti focused on creating a starting lineup of players who specialized in different subjects. “This year we were a lot more specialized than we have been in the past,” Brocketti said. “We had four people making up our team who all had their own specialties and a lot of knowledge in that area, and we had very little overlap. We made a very solid team.” The team is now preparing for nationals with more rigorous practice questions and content to study. The competition will take place in Atlanta from May 22-26 and will be the current quiz bowl seniors’ final competition. Team captain Justin Young and key players Tiara Allard and Janna Serrao will graduate this June, so younger participants will have to fill empty spots on the team. Despite these losses, the quiz bowl coaches are confident that they will be able to carry their success into future seasons. “The goal is to try and identify some of that [knowledge base] in the kids who are showing up weekly on the JV team, and

Page design by Dana Edson & Dasha Makarishcheva

also to try and recruit kids coming from Longfellow and try to recruit kids from McLean that we might not know of that could plug some of the gaps,” Brocketti said. Although quiz bowl competitions don’t attract large audiences and cheering fans like sporting events do, the team’s state championship is a huge accomplishment for McLean High School. “It was the completion of a journey that began four years ago,” said Young, who made the all-state team by being one of the top five scorers at the tournament. “We were second place my freshman and sophomore year, so that was our first time winning states. It’s like we finally accomplished that goal.”

Join the McLean quiz bowl team for

Team Trivia Night in the cafeteria from 6-8 p.m. on April 17 for a fun evening of trivia that will help support the team on their way to nationals.



McLean clubs share their achievements and goals ALEENA GUL ONLINE NEWS EDITOR

UNICEF plans March Madness game


FOR THE KIDS — Sachi Dieker, John Godwin and Yanet Samson raise funds at International Talent Fest. The money they earned was donated to help children across the world gain basic necessities. (Photo courtesy of Sachi Dieker)

nited Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is an organization that focuses on helping children across the world, and last school year senior Sachi Dieker started an official chapter of UNICEF at McLean. The club follows the official organization’s mission by fundraising for and raising awareness about issues that affect children. In October, the club participated in a Halloween event through UNICEF by contacting local elementary schools to encourage children to ask for donations while trick-or-treating. “The idea is kids help kids,” Dieker said. “[It’s] a tradition that’s been going on for about 100 years.” UNICEF club set up a booth to fundraise at International Talent Fest on Feb. 21 and is planning to host a March Madness basketball match on March 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the upper gym. “There’s going to be a bunch of small basketball teams, and they’re going to compete. The money raised to be part of the team and the entrance fee is going to go to UNICEF,” Dieker said. Fundraising is a crucial aspect of this organization because it provides food and supplies for children in developing countries and conflict areas. “We obviously live in a very fortunate neighborhood, compared to a lot of places in the world,” Dieker said. “Bringing awareness that people exist in [dire] situations is what really makes an impact.”

Young Democrats welcomes speaker Ryan McElveen TAKING A STAND — Ryan McElveen poses with the Young Democrats club after presenting at their meeting on Feb. 24. He discussed several community issues for students to advocate for. (Photo courtesy of Lucy


oung Democrats of McLean recently had school board member emeritus Ryan McElveen visit to present different community issues in FCPS that concern students. The topics McElveen covered included overcrowding, climate change, bathroom conditions, school name changes, gun control and the new excused absence for civic engagement. “I think the most important case study in student activism is on climate change because I think that’s the issue. This can have the greatest impact on your lives [and] the lives of your children,” McElveen said. 8 | NEWS | MARCH


Members of the Young Democrats said they hope to work with other student political groups in the future. They are already planning on expanding their network with students in the McLean area by coordinating a protest day with Langley’s Young Democrats. “I’m hoping the club continues and that we get more students interested,” said social studies teacher Karen McNamara, sponsor of McLean’s Young Democrats. “I hope they also work together with the Young Republicans or the conservative group... No matter whether you’re left or right, you can still be politically active and have civil discourse with each other.” Page design by Aleena Gul

Science Olympiad on the rise


SCIENCE SUCCESS — Science Olympiad earns fourth place at their regional competition on Feb. 8, qualifying them for the state competition on March 28. (Photo courtesy of Billy Thomas)

n a neck-and-neck race, McLean’s Science Olympiad team placed fourth out of 20 high schools at the Feb. 8 regional competition on the University of Mary Washington’s Stafford campus. Participants’ projects covered various science-related topics such as biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and earth science. A valuable aspect of Science Olympiad is that it enhances students’ knowledge of these different science topics to prepare them for such competitive events. “It’s a very engaging club, and you really get to see all the work that you put into it pay off based on how well you do in the events,” said sophomore Zia Harrison, a member of Science Olympiad. “There’s a very competitive focus of it.” McLean’s achievement at the regional competition advanced them to the March 28 state competition at the University of Virginia.

Robotics to take on world


cLean’s VEX Robotics team earned the Design Award at the state competition on March 6, qualifying them for the quarterfinals of the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 22-25. “Attending states was really exciting for us considering we are only in our second year of VEX Robotics,” said junior Mia Hsu, the leader of VEX Robotics. “We had never competed against so many teams before and it was pretty nervewracking going against the best teams in the state.” The team earned the Excellence Award, the highest award a team can receive, at Richmond Invitationals on Feb. 8. “I think [the invitationals] went really well,” junior Alex Zaccardelli said. “We’ve been continually getting better since the competition started last year. This is the best we’ve ever done.” VEX Robotics will begin their new member recruitment process in late spring.

RISING ROBOTICS — Veda Hegde, Rishi Manimaran, Alex Zaccardelli and Mia Hsu hold the Excellence Award at invitationals. They went on to win the Design Award at the state competition. (Photo courtesy of Mia Hsu)

Mock Trial places fourth at district competition


MOCK TRIAL MADNESS — Mock Trial wins fourth place at the district competiton on Jan. 25. They are moving forward to the March 21 state competition at Richmond City Courthouse. (Photo courtesy of Zia Harrison)

lthough it’s only their first year competing, Mock Trial already placed fourth in the district competition on Jan. 25 at the Fairfax County Government Center. Their success at districts qualifies them for the upcoming state competition at the Richmond City Courthouse on March 21. “When I saw the teams that got first and second and third, they were just so incredibly prepared, so I think we’re gonna have to just work even harder,” said senior Lindsea Strelser, president of McLean’s Mock Trial club. “I’m expecting a lot of really well-prepared teams.” Mock Trial competitions simulate what might occur in a courtroom, complete with opening statements and cross examination of witnesses. “There’s really no better preparation for actually becoming a lawyer than doing Mock Trial. You are truly learning all parts of what it’s like to learn a case,” Strelser said. “It’s just so informative and so exciting at the same time.” MARCH | NEWS | 9



t has become almost impossible to turn on the news without the coronavirus being the top story. The virus has spread around the world rapidly, totaling over 4,000 deaths as of March 10. The first case in Fairfax County was confirmed on March 7. Originating in China’s Wuhan province, COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, has a wide range of symptoms. “The most common [symptom] is fever, followed by cough and fatigue. More than half of infected patients will develop pneumonia and shortness of breath,” said Dr. Dina KiaNoury, associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University Hospital’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued strict recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus, including quarantining those who traveled to affected areas and screening people who have traveled outside of the U.S. “These measures, [as of Feb. 19], have been successful in keeping the number of new cases in the United States to a minimum,” KiaNoury said. Controversy and fear surrounding the coronavirus prevented a group of Chinese students from participating in a foreign exchange program at Longfellow Middle School in January. “The Fairfax County Health Department is coordinating with state and local public health and safety partners to take additional


CLEANING FOR CORONA — Ana Yanes, one of McLean’s custodians, cleans frequently touched surfaces on March 3. Custodians are also making sure hand sanitizer dispensers remain filled. (Photo by Dua Mobin)

public health actions to keep the community safe,” the Fairfax County Health Department said in a statement following the decision regarding the exchange students. On Feb. 26, Superintendent Scott Brabrand updated FCPS parents and teachers in a countywide email. “The CDC is asking school officials...to prepare for a possible outbreak,” Brabrand said.



- ANDREW CHRISTOFFERSON SOPHOMORE In response, Principal Ellen Reilly asked McLean’s custodial staff to focus on disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs and faucet handles, and to make sure hand sanitizer dispensers were filled. FCPS has canceled all international field trips and short-term visitations to other countries. “FCPS is in the process of reviewing and updating its existing pandemic influenza response plan,” Brabrand said. “The plan addresses the activities necessary to keep

schools open and operating while providing a clean and safe environment during an outbreak.” Brabrand said FCPS is focusing on keeping schools open and preventing student and staff exposure. Students are becoming increasingly worried as the pandemic continues to spread. “It’s a little scary,” senior Katherine Walker said. “When you’re walking in the hallway, and people are coughing and sneezing, it makes me immediately think, ‘Better wash my hands.’” National and local government agencies’ announcements about the disease have influenced students’ opinions. “[People] fear what might happen when a mass population is infected—especially since the WHO declared a state of emergency— even though [these are] just precautions,” sophomore Andrew Christofferson said. On March 5, scientists discovered a second strain of the coronavirus. They are researching the difference between the disease’s two strains. Scientists are working on a vaccine for COVID-19, but it is not predicted to be finished for at least 12 months. In the meantime, the CDC has laid out some tips to stay safe. According to a statement on the CDC website, “[We] recommend getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.” Page design by Laine Phillips

SUPER TUESDAY reshapes race Biden reasserts himself as frontrunner after successful Super Tuesday TAYLOR OLSON DESIGNER KYLE HAWLEY OPINIONS EDITOR


McLean poll day of primary:










McLean poll two weeks before:






Virginia results:








Tuesday, November 3, 2020




Virginia Democratic Primary map

= Biden = Sanders

Eligible voters in Virginia: A resident of Virginia and United States citizen 18-year-olds (any person who will be 18 during the general election can register in advance and vote in any primary or special election before the general) Cannot be a registered voter in another state Not currently declared mentally incompetent by a court official If convicted of a felony, voting rights must have been restored

Places to Register: Visit elections.virginia.gov Local voter registration office (DMV has registration options) Government offices in the state Public libraries Virginia Department of Elections office Election representatives occasionally come to high schools to register eligible voters


RACE FOR THE DELEGATES 1,991 delegates needed to win nomination





Candidate photos obtained via Wikimedia Commons | Graphics & page design by Taylor Olson



Highlander of the Issue

Take it sip by sip

BUSINESS PIONEER — Jennifer Yang (holding the marker) leads a group during the Junior Achievement National Company program at the National Student Leadership Summit. She was one of five representatives from her team’s company, Sipsy.

Junior Jennifer Yang wins entrepreneurship competition with reusable straw company MARINA QU NEWS EDITOR & THOMAS LOHMAN REPORTER


ix months of hard work built up to the moment when junior Jennifer Yang’s team was named the Greater Washington Company of the Year. Yang and her 14 teammates rejoiced in the victory, celebrating their accomplishment. “We were working hard for the entire year,” Yang said. “And we were just really happy that we got go to Nationals.” The team that Yang belonged to, “Sipsy,” competed in the Junior Achievement (JA) Regional Company Program, in which teams of high schoolers create and operate businesses. As they developed their company over the course of six months, they were judged by experts based on multiple categories including a company report, an interview, a trade show and a final pitch. The team members met as complete strangers at first, but they shared a common mission. After seeing a trending photo of a straw stuck in a turtle’s nose, the team was inspired to design a product with a purpose. “Since plastic straws cause a lot of pollution in the ocean, we decided to sell


metal straws which are much more ecofriendly,” Yang said. Sipsy designed and sold two types of reusable metal straws—a larger one used for smoothies and thicker drinks and a thinner version which is good for juices or water. Sipsy carried out its mission of curbing ocean pollution beyond the Junior Achievement competition. Yang and other members of the Sipsy team successfully pushed for a plastic straw ban in FCPS cafeterias at the beginning of the school year. “Sipsy had a lot of passion about eliminating plastic straws,” Fairfax County School Board member emeritus Ryan McElveen said. “We were able to work over the course of several months last summer to have the plastic straw ban implemented last fall.” Unlike many startups that are entirely focused on profits, Sipsy had a greater goal of promoting sustainability at a local level. “They weren’t just selling a product,” said Brittany Jones, the manager of program innovation at JA of Greater Washington.

“They had their straws on them everywhere they went. They were not using plastic straws. They were trying to make social change in their community.” The six-month long competition began with creating a company sales pitch. Yang and her teammates presented products to CEOs and high-up executives in the D.C. area in hopes of getting an investment. “Usually there’s only one investor for each company, but last year we were really happy that two investors invested in our company,” Yang said. “They’re not just investing money, but they also gave lot of advice.” While developing Sipsy, team members created a cooperative atmosphere to effectively complete their assigned tasks. “Sipsy was one of those teams that consistently put in above and beyond what was expected of them,” Jones said. “[I] know that members of Sipsy were doing more than four hours of work per week, so we saw a lot of collaboration between team members.” As a result of their hard work, Sipsy sold over 300 straws and made over $3,000. Photos courtesy of Jennifer Yang

Yang displayed exceptional dedication, fulfilling her role as the team’s marketing leader. “Seeing her inexhaustible spirit allowed her to earn the respect of everyone on the Sipsy team,” said Yang’s teammate Linda Wu, a senior at Woodson High School. “In fact, out of the 15 members on our team, Jennifer was chosen to represent the company at the regional and national competition.” When Sipsy faced challenges, Yang’s quick wit and resilience allowed her team to continue operating successfully and turn disadvantages into winning strategies. Originally, Sipsy found manufacturers in China, but the team’s February trade show coincided with Chinese New Year, which meant factories were closed. This last-minute supply chain failure challenged Sipsy’s leaders to find alternative solutions. “We needed to get the straws in time for the trade show,” Yang said. “We had to get the shipment going, so we sourced domestically.” Because half of the shipment came from factories in China and the other half from factories in the U.S., the straws varied in size. “We just marketed them as two different products, so what was actually a mistake just turned into a marketing strategy,” Yang said. Yang attributes her team’s accomplishment to effective communication techniques. “Internally, in your company, communicating with people is so important because there are so many mistakes that can happen,” Yang said. Following her team’s win last year, Yang re-entered the JA competition this year to develop another company, “Envism,” producing brand new technology that enlarges phone screens to alleviate digital eye strain. “The Envism product is hard to explain to people, so marketing was really important for us to be able to make people understand the product that they’re looking at,” Yang said. “Communication is key.” While Yang is at the beginning stage of this year’s competition, she believes participants can benefit whether or not they win any awards. “It’s a different experience every time

because you’re working with different people, and you learn different things,” Yang said. Yang’s experiences with Sipsy taught her collaboration skills she can use in the future. “I think she learned a lot of soft skills such as social communication and problem solving,” Yang’s mom, Ying Hu, said. “No matter what she ends up doing in her career, I think those skills will be very helpful.”


Yang is unsure about her future career pursuits, but her friends and family are confident in her abilities. “Although my experience working with her leads me to believe she will have a successful career as a director of a marketing department,” Wu said, “I have no doubt that her work ethic will allow her to succeed regardless of the field she pursues.”

Find out more information about Junior Achievement of Greater Washington


Page design by Marina Qu & Thomas Lohman | Environmental Portrait by Matt Wong



Introducing cute pets owned by McLean staff @FrannyLouCrestedPou


Franny Lou Emmons


Chinese Crested Dog Owned by: Elise Emmons, English teacher

Quaker Parrot Owned by: Julie Gamboa, clinic aide

Bio: No hair, big heart. Hobbies: Touring D.C. and posting photos on Instagram.

Bio: Professional high fiver. Gizmo is a clown who loves attention. Hobbies: Eating strawberries, playing with bells.


Jasper & Eloise


Maine Coon Cat & Russian Blue Mix Cat Owned by: Seth LeBlanc, English teacher

Brazilian Tabby Cat Owned by: Michael Stone, history teacher

Bio: Sweet, shy and cuddly. Jasper loves to meow and Eloise can fit into almost any box or bag available. Hobbies: Early morning runs and playing hide and seek.

Bio: Queen of “Catchismo,” or feline swag. Hobbies: Clucking at birds and enjoying fine dining.


Reporting & page design by Michelle Cheng I Photos courtesy of pet owners

10 Qs with

Steven Walker (Math Teacher)

1 2

Reporting by Dua Mobin Photos courtesy of Steven Walker Page design by The Highlander staff

If you weren’t a math teacher, what would you be? A veterinarian. I applied to Clemson for veterinary school and South Carolina for mathematics, got into both and decided that I didn’t want to put down a dog or an animal. Who would you consider your idol? My dad. He works construction, and I think he set a good example for me growing up. He’s very smart with his money and works really hard. I think I got that from him.


4 5 6 7

Where did you go to college and how was your experience? I went to the University of South Carolina. I had a great time. I met my wife in college, met a lot of my best friends in college and learned how to be a teacher in college. It was overall a good experience. How would you describe yourself in three words?


Sarcastic, nice and hardworking. What is your favorite Star Wars movie and why? I really liked Rogue One because I thought it was really cool how it showed you where the plans for the Death Star were and how they ended up getting a hold of those.

What’s your motto? If you look for an excuse, you’ll always find one.

Why do you like drones so much? They’re cool. I’m flying something through the air like a little toy. I feel like all these stories I tell make me seem like I’m obsessed with drones, and I don’t think I am. I’m just a kid at heart.


What would you consider to be your spirit animal? Why? I’d say a sloth because they get to lie around all day. They get something in their mind and they get it done, even if it takes them an hour. How does it feel to be mistaken for a student? I mean, I’m not offended. Every time it happens I kind of laugh it off because it’s another story I can tell my classes. But I’ve reached the point where it does not bother me because I’m aging well.


What current trends are baffling you?

‘Do it for the Vine’ and all those crazy videos. I don’t understand what TikTok is. It just sounds like Snapchat, Vine and Instagram put together. And if one more kid says, ‘Ok, boomer’ to me, I am probably going to flip out. MARCH | FEATURES | 15

THE STEEP PRICE OF AN EDUCATION College tuition continues to rise, affecting students’ decisions



ollege acceptance rates may be decreasing, but the price tags certainly aren’t. The ever-growing fear of student debt looms over the younger generation. College tuition has been increasing for years. According to a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of four-year colleges rose from $29,000 to $41,000 from 2000 to 2016. When taking a closer look on how colleges like the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary spend their money, the distribution was largely similar. For both institutes, the three categories they spent the most money on were instruction, research and public service. The Atlantic found that state legislatures have been spending less per student on higher education for the past three decades, leaving colleges starving for money. This has led many colleges to increase tuition costs. These high costs are a barrier for many aspiring students who simply cannot afford to attend their desired schools. “Honestly, the expenses are too much. It’s super detrimental, and I’m taking all the

opportunities to receive [federal student aid with the] FAFSA and scholarships,” senior Atharva Desai said. When deciding where to go to college, students are now more focused on the cost and how much financial aid they could receive than which educational facility fits them best.

THE EXPENSES ARE TOO MUCH. IT’S SUPER DETRIMENTAL, AND I’M TAKING ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES TO RECEIVE [AID].” - ATHARVA DESAI SENIOR “Financial aid is a big factor in deciding where I want to go,” senior Andrew Li said. The difference between in-state and outof-state tuition also plays a heavy role in students’ decisions about where to pursue an education. “There is a big gap between in-state and

BREAKDOWN OF UVA OPERATING COSTS 2018-2019 Research & Public Service




$50,400 $497,487



Instruction General Administration

out-of-state tuition. The main reason my sister decided to go to UVA versus other options was because of the reduced costs,” Li said. NPR created a calculator that demonstrates the difference between a college’s sticker price versus the net price students pay after financial aid, scholarship and grants have been factored in. At popular out-of-state colleges McLean students attend, such as Georgetown University and American University, undergraduates can pay up to $45,000 per year, even after scholarships and financial aid needs are met. There are options for students to somewhat limit these costs. “We recommend that every senior apply for financial aid through the FAFSA, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, so that’s the easiest way to become eligible for grants and scholarships,” Career Center Specialist Laura Venos said. Venos said honesty about the upfront costs would help alleviate the current issue of rising student debt. “I think that colleges need to be a little bit more transparent about the cost,” Venos said. “The net price calculator is a step forward.”

20000 $114,526

Financial Aid






Academic Support $251,153

Student Services


0 2007-8

International Debt Service/Transfers Operating & Maintenance of Physical Plant Data obtained from the UVA Budget


CBS News


George Mason

Virginia Tech


James Madison

William & Mary


Infographics & page design by Rohan Mani & Sam Naemi

Sus slang with teachers Teachers attempt to define slang terms REBEKA RAFI ADVERTISING MANAGER & MANAGING EDITOR

RAQUEL SAENZ Substitute Teacher

DEFINITION: “Moving sideways or up and down.”

USED IN A SENTENCE: “I was on a stairway going upward to a movie theater at Tysons Corner Mall when the stairs shook.”

“C” “Shook”


DEFINITION: “I think woke means to be swole, like you’re strong or you’re chiseled.” USED IN A SENTENCE: “After I got out of the gym, I was woke.”




Shocked or surprised; can’t believe what you’re seeing.

The act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.


History Teacher

DEFINITION: “I’m assuming you guys say like ‘that’s messed up.’” USED IN A SENTENCE: “Boyce gave us homework again. That’s sus.”

“Sus” “Su”


DEFINITION: “It doesn’t even make sense. Somebody enunciating the word period.” USED IN A SENTENCE: “I am not a boomer, periodt.”




Used as a replacement for “suspicious,” such as when a friend is being awfully quiet.

To prove your point for something.

Photos & page design by Rebeka Rafi


18 | A&E | MARCH

Page design by Isaac Lamoreaux & Dasha Makarishcheva

SENIOR ABE ASKEW SIngs, writes and produces his own music. In a conversation with The Highlander, ASkew discusses his music and the process behind making it. HE released a new album titled “Feel” on Feb. 28.



Instagram: @Aberaskew

SPOTIFY: Aberaskew

HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR MUSICAL ABILITY? I’ve played the piano since I was 4 years old, being taught with the Suzuki method, which teaches your ear. It goes off of this idea that every child has potential, and if you teach them at [a young age]...you can teach their ear to have perfect pitch. I don’t have perfect pitch—I have good pitch. My teachers would get mad at me because they would realize that I’m not following the music, I’m just listening for it. I wouldn’t [read it] because reading music is so hard for me because I’m dyslexic. I just was like, ‘You know what, I’m gonna listen to this song online, like “Für Elise,’” and then I would just play it. And I didn’t know that was a special thing people can’t do. HOW DOES YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS START? You start with an idea and an emotion. The idea is where you want to take the song. Essentially, it just has to click in your mind because that emotion is driving you to think certain [thoughts]. Then when you are hearing music, you can put words to it, and those words mean something for you. Hopefully that means something for other people too. When you have emotions, it just kind of carries out. Your whole mind is thinking about that. It’s really hard to stop thinking about something, [especially] if something bad happens. But my way of coping with these things now is I sit at the piano, and I just play random chords until I find something that resonates with the feeling. WHERE DOES IT GO FROM THERE? It’s not a thing where you sit down, and you’re like, ‘I want to write lyrics.’ It’s something that just clicks, and you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, that sounds great.’ A lot of times, that’s not the idea you go with. I’m working on a piece, and I have gone through three different choruses. I don’t know which one I want to pick because they’re all different emotions and different times that I sat down. Lyrics aren’t something that I can just write because I’m not really good at that. If it just comes to you, it’s much more genuine.

Reporting & graphics by Isaac Lamoreaux & Jessica Opsahl-Ong

WHERE DID YOU GET INSPIRATION FOR YOUR SINGLES? My single [“Gone Away”] came about when I was in a really crappy relationship, and that was a detriment to me. I got out of the relationship, finally, at the end of 2018. I thought, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling well about this relationship, and I want to make a [song] about it.’ I came up with the chord progression, which is literally just two chords. I sat at the piano, played the two chords in succession, and then it just clicked in my mind. With my single “Wanting U,” I was chilling with my friend John Buser and I had a melody— it’s that [instrumental] that you hear at the beginning of a song. I was just coming up with lyrics based on what I felt. That [song] came about [when] I was in another relationship. That [relationship] was like, ‘I’m wanting this person in my life, but they don’t want me back.’ It was a bad relationship. WHAT IS YOUR NEW ALBUM ABOUT? All of [the songs] are about a specific relationship that I’m in currently. It’s about the good things, the darker kinds of things and things nobody talks about. So I try to push the barrier beyond happy stuff. It sounds really depressing, but it’s harder to get happier ideas out because I’m used to writing about my hardships, but writing about such a happy thing is a lot different. I wanted [the album] to be a ukulele feature. So in almost every song I’m tapping on the ukulele or bongos. I wanted to recreate songs from an artist named Versace, and I just kind of played around with my ideas. WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH MUSIC? I applied for so many playlists, and I got put on two of them. I got most of my listeners from there, and I’m really happy about that. One of my dreams is to produce something that I really resonate with and to have that song be something that other people listen to. I don’t really care about becoming famous or anything. I just want my music to be an outlet for other people as well.

MARCH | A&E | 19

lizzo is not Treated good as hell Exploring the body shaming Lizzo constantly faces CC PALUMBO ONLINE EDITOR GRACE GOULD FACT CHECKER


espite having won three Grammys and two Soul Train Awards, Lizzo’s clothing size is of more interest to the media than the groundbreaking musician’s music. It is no secret that the media loves to subject women to unrealistic expectations based on their physical appearance. Due to this scrutiny, celebrities often feel unbelievable pressure to maintain their figures. “[The media] just wants to sell a package, and they’re not really thinking about what’s behind it,” Girls Leadership Club sponsor Kathleen Otal said. Lizzo, a plus-sized musical artist who defies traditional ideals of body positivity through her message of self love, has struggled with these body shaming critics throughout her career but stays strong in the face of criticism. “[Lizzo] is a great example of embracing herself and loving herself no matter what,” Otal said. Lizzo constantly negates these notions, embracing her figure and preaching positivity through lyrics such as, “If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine (yeah, I’m goals) / I was born like this, don’t even gotta try.” Although she projects confidence in her music, she has not been exempt from body shaming and has even been criticized by other public figures. Popular celebrity trainer and former Biggest Loser star Jillian Michaels came under fire for criticizing Lizzo’s figure on Jan. 8 during an appearance on Buzzfeed News’ 20 | A&E | MARCH

AM to DM show. She questioned the singer’s health, saying, “Why are we celebrating [Lizzo’s] body? Why does it matter? ‘Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes.” And it isn’t just Michaels, the public constantly criticizes the singer, writing their statements off as harmless jokes.

LOOKS SHOULD NOT BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING... LOOKS ARE OVEREMPHASIZED FOR WOMEN IN GENERAL.” - KATHLEEN OTAL STUDENT COUNSELOR For example, in light of recent events regarding conflicts with Iran, the entertainment app, TikTok, was riddled with jokes about “World War III.” Users found it funny to compare Lizzo to a bomb, with several saying, “Plan B: drop Lizzo on Iran.” Although this might be funny to some people, most others see it as bullying. One TikTok even ridiculed the idea of Lizzo going down slides in a disgusting attempt at comedy. “They think that since [Lizzo] is a plussized black woman it is okay to comment on her body shape in a negative way,” sophomore

Leah Siegel said. The media has created an environment that thrives on the insecurities instilled in society, and Lizzo is a prime example of a celebrity who has faced adversity in this area. “The diet industry, the health industry and the beauty industry all make billions off of selling products that promise to make women more appealing in one way or another,” said junior Tallisen Scott, president of the Feminist Club. “If there were less insecure women, those industries would not make as much money.” Regardless of her confidence, Lizzo is human at the end of the day, and these comments can be extremely hurtful to anyone. She recently announced that she would be quitting Twitter due to unwanted negativity. Nonetheless, her positive attitude remains present on Instagram, posting on Jan. 8, “Today’s mantra is: I deserve to be happy.” “Looks should not be the most important thing...looks are overemphasized for women in general,” Otal said. Lizzo’s self-awareness and strong stature can only take her so far. Subjecting Lizzo or any other person to this kind of treatment is unfair and immoral. People need to recognize the impact of their words. “Lizzo does over two hours a night of singing, dancing, flute playing and running on the stage in heels, but just because she’s plus-sized, people call her unhealthy,” Siegel said

Page design by Cc Palumbo & Grace Gould | Photo obtained via Creative Commons

BIEBER’s New Baby

Justin Bieber’s new album: not so “Yummy” ARIANA ELAHI REPORTER

Best 5 songs

(and that’s not saying much) 1. “Changes” Slow acoustic guitar mixes with smooth and relaxing lyrics. 2. “Habitual” Very techno and upbeat, it shows Bieber’s vocal range. 3. “That’s What Love Is” Distinct melody but has very repetitive lyrics. 4. “Forever (Feat. Post Malone & Clever)” Has an interesting beat and the lyrics work well with the music. 5. “Intentions (Feat. Quavo)” Has a nice melody with meaningful lyrics.

Worst 5 songs

(you really don’t want to hear these) 1. “Yummy (Summer Walker Remix)” Exact same as the original, but the part with Walker’s muted vocals degrade the quality of the music, which isn’t great to begin with. 2. “Yummy” In a word, yucky. 3. “All Around Me” It is smooth but extremely slow. The catchy chorus does not match the music at all. 4. “Get Me (Feat. Kehlani)” Has a unique track but very weak lyrics and melody. 5. “At Least For Now” Extremely slow tempo and lyrics with a piano beat just doesn’t sound good.

Rating 1/5



eventeen songs. Seventeen chances. After four years of suspense, Justin Bieber released his comeback album Changes on Feb. 14. But the only thing that changed was his ability to make a decent album. Lonely Beliebers hoped that Changes would be the only thing they needed on Valentine’s Day. They could not have been more wrong. These songs sound like every other average song on the radio. To make matters worse, every song in Bieber’s album merges together to form one giant song. A majority of them have the exact same instrumentals, with the same vibe and very similar lyrics. “At Least For Now,” “That’s What Love Is,” “Confirmation,” “Changes” and “E.T.A” are the only songs on his entire album without a techno beat and that can be listened to without getting a killer headache. The rest of the songs are just…eh. They lack depth and overall uniqueness. Throughout the album, Bieber’s vocals are good. He hits high notes absolutely beautifully, and low sections suit his voice really well. On occasion, listening to this album would be tolerable. Some of the songs even have catchy beats. But there is no way anyone could listen to these songs on repeat for too long. Bieber’s vocals alone are just not enough to make this album the grand success he hoped it would be. This album could have been amazing. But at least for now, it seems like Justin Bieber has lost his spark. One thing that can be confirmed is Bieber needs changes in his music. Def Jam

Photosdesign Page by Skye bySunderhauf Ariana Elahi&&Emily Dasha Jackson Makarishcheva | Page design by Skye Sunderhauf

MARCH | A&E | 21


Page design & photo illustration by Dasha Makarishcheva & Ava Rotondo


Under the weight of sports pressure, athletes turn to extreme measures


ver-the-counter medications to mask the pain. Enhancing substances to optimize performance. Overexertion to the point of collapse. On the surface, we see success—football triumphs over our crosstown rivals, crew prepares for another unprecedentedly great season and gymnastics fights to defend their state crowns. But with success comes pressure to uphold standards.

UNDER PRESSURE Elite swimmer and first-chair Philharmonic cellist senior Steve Han felt trapped in his packed schedule throughout high school. “In total, I swam around 14 to 16 hours per week,” Han said. “I drove to practice at 4:30 a.m., went to school, went to a workout and then went to bed.” Despite being recruited by the University of Chicago, Tufts University, Navy and other elite universities, Han will not be swimming for any of these prestigious institutions next year. He quit club swim after stress caused him to faint in his AP Literature class before winter break and now aspires to be in the Air Force instead of the Navy, his former dream. Being around water is too much for him to handle. “At the time, I was being recruited, I wasn’t really performing well in school and there were cello provisionals as well. So trying to fit that all in additionally with college applications was really stressful and exhausting,” Han said. “That’s the point where I realized you can’t do everything. Hard work only goes so far.” MARCH | IN-DEPTH | 23

From a poll of 200 McLean athletes:

19 %

h a v e u s e d C4 or c r e at

rs in e fo


47% of those who

used C4 or creatine said they used it before a VHSL competition

36% know

someone on their team who uses C4 or creatine 24 | IN-DEPTH | MARCH


Han reported that his mental health has significantly improved since quitting club swimming. Stress comes in many forms, and in addition to the pressure to succeed that athletes experience, fear of physical injury can be draining. “Throughout the sport, I wanted to quit because I was too scared [of getting hurt],” said senior Frances Osugi, who was part of both the McLean gymnastics team and a club team. “You’re pushing your limits and going past boundaries that you never have before.” To parents and coaches, pushing past boundaries can seem like a great way for students to mature and reach their goals. “Everything I try and do as a coach is to prepare my athletes not only for competition but for life,” said Rusty Payne, freshman basketball coach and parent of senior Will Payne. “These athletes are going to have to learn to deal with pressure and expectations throughout their lives.” But this sentiment overshadows the stressors of sports that can impact athletes’ mental health. Osugi experienced this first-hand. “I just remember going to the bathroom and crying all the time, and that was what most girls did,” Osugi said. “The bathroom was like a safe place.”

SOURCES OF STRESS Senior crew captain Lauren Benedict attributes the stressful sports environment at school to student-athletes’ parents. Sports bring out some of the worst aspects of the McLean helicopter parent stereotype. “My mom and dad act like they know everything about crew [instead of ] realizing that I’m already stressed enough and that [they should be] more of a supportive figure,” Benedict said. As athletes go through the college recruitment process, the pressure from parents and coaches worsens. “It led to a downward spiral, so that’s where I got stuck,” Han said. “Even when I drive [on the same roads I took] to practice, I get anxiety.” Benedict said college recruitment has created a group of admission-focused athletes. These athletes do not play sports for enjoyment, which creates an even more stressful environment. After participating in college sports for a year, athletes can quit and still attend the school of their dreams. The Next College Student Athlete Association reported in 2017 that 45% of underclassman athletes do not play for their college team after their freshman year. Being recruited requires a lot of time, making it difficult for athletes to keep up with their schoolwork. Over one-third of 200 McLean athletes reported that playing sports impairs their ability to do well in school, according to a survey conducted by The Highlander. Making matters worse, it is hard for coaches to understand how difficult it is for students to balance their schoolwork and sports commitments.

“McLean has a lot of students who are looking to get into the best colleges in the country. But crew is not really a sport where you can have one foot in and one foot out,” boys varsity crew head coach Jack Connors said. “If you’re not fully committed, you likely will not be as competitive as your teammates.”

college recruitment. “People would use C4 before test pieces in order to have a better outcome, you know, to get a faster time, so they could send them to college,” Benedict said. C4 is a pre-workout supplement that enhances athletic performance. The powdered substance has become increasingly IN IT TO WIN IT popular among high school athletes. A key ingredient in C4, Team competitiveness can be a driving factor for success. creatine, helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which “I set the example. I help guys who are slower and provide builds muscle mass and improves endurance. Creatine is an encouragement,” boys varsity crew captain junior Braden ingredient in many pre-workout supplements. Barnett said. “Also, I am the Even though McLean’s fastest person on the team, so head athletic trainer, Michael from that standpoint I’m pretty Tierney, said that supplements I JUST REMEMBER GOING much the benchmark for where are prohibited at McLean, 19% the team should be.” of the McLean student-athletes TO THE BATHROOM AND But for those who struggle polled admitted to using creatine CRYING ALL THE TIME. THE to meet the benchmarks athletes products for sports-related BATHROOM WAS LIKE A like Barnett set, they feel like purposes. One-third reported SAFE PLACE.” they are losing college spots to that one of their teammates had - FRANCES OSUGI their peers. used a creatine-based substance. SENIOR “There’s definitely a lot of The policy regarding FORMER CLUB GYMNAST stress that would lead someone supplement use in McLean to want to be faster and want to athletics is ambiguous, and do whatever they can to be faster,” Benedict said. while Tierney said they are prohibited, VHSL does not have She said that, in the past, athletes on the crew team have rules relating to the supplements. Whether or not studentused the performance-enhancing substance C4 to help them athletes are punished for using pre-workout products before go faster in the two-kilometer race, the primary qualifier for competitions or during practice is a gray area. According to

From a poll of 200 McLean athletes

34% 22%

Infographics by Jessica Opsahl-Ong

llaayyiinngg p p t t aa kktthh ppaaiirrss n n i i tthh ttssiimm rr tooddoo ssppoo aabbiliiltityy t irir oll tthhee nnsscchhooo lllii wwee


SINCE EVERYBODY WAS TAKING THREE OR FIVE [PILLS], I THOUGHT THAT THE EFFECTS WOULDN’T BE AS STRONG. BUT WHEN I TOOK TWO, AND I TOOK A HIT WHERE MY SKIN BROKE, AND I STARTED BLEEDING, I DIDN’T FEEL IT. I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST WARM SWEAT.” - ANONYMOUS SOURCE FORMER VARSITY FOOTBALL PLAYER Tierney, FCPS does not “endorse, condone or recommend the use of supplements.” Tierney and McLean’s coaches are allowed to withhold athletes from competing in sporting events for taking supplements. “The wording gets a little bit iffy,” Tierney said. “Yes, they are prohibited, but there is no way for us to know if someone’s taking it or not because we don’t test our athletes. The only way we can see if someone is taking it is if we actually saw them put a scoop of something in water and take it down.” This gray area makes athletes feel like it is acceptable to take supplements, which disregards the competitive advantage users gain and the serious health implications that can follow. Possible side effects of creatine include liver, kidney and heart damage, according to the Mayo Clinic. Side effects of C4 include headache, vomiting, nausea and tingling skin, according to Health Research Funding.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and Tierney noted that they can include harmful chemicals, like arsenic or even banned steroids. Benedict experienced the dangerous effects of C4 when she tried the substance. “Personally, I have taken C4 before. I don’t do it anymore because it messes with my stomach too much,” Benedict said. “I’ve thrown up after each time because it’s not a good product.” Football players reported noticeably more supplement use than other student-athletes. Of the 18 football players polled, 39% said they have used C4 or creatine—20% higher than the poll’s average. The number of those who knew someone on their team who used a supplement was 61% compared to the poll’s 36% average. “I don’t promote it. I wouldn’t do it,” said senior Cotter Smart, the varsity football team captain. “But I could have C4 in my water bottle, and no one would ever know.”


Physical strain and the fear of getting injured causes students to take pain medication, sometimes in large doses. Over-the-counter drugs used to alleviate pain, like ibuprofen, should only be used in the short-term. Constant, long-term use of these medications can cause health risks such as stomach bleeding or ulcers, kidney or liver failure and heart attacks or strokes, according to the Cleveland Clinic. About 22% of McLean athletes admitted to using pain relief medicine when they were not injured. Student-athletes say taking medication reduces future pain they might experience. “There are a lot of people taking a lot of Advil because football is such a taxing sport. I think people do get psychologically addicted to Advil,” Smart said. “It’s like a coping mechanism.” Former McLean varsity football player John Doe* reported seeing football players taking up to seven tablets of pain medication at a time. Even worse, athletes don’t always know what substances they are taking because drug distribution is not monitored by coaches. Doe was given an unknown substance before a game. “I went up to [a former varsity football captain] and asked for two [pills] and since everybody was taking three or five, I thought that the effects wouldn’t be as strong,” Doe said. “But when I took those two, and I took a hit where my skin broke, and I started bleeding, I didn’t feel it. I thought it was just warm sweat.” Doe said the pressure to push through pain and maintain performance levels is why athletes take so much pain medicine. “When the coach needs you out there, most of the time if you’re hurting, you can’t really go 100 percent,” Doe said. Varsity football coach John Scholla declined to comment about drug and supplement use on the football team.

Drug use is not limited to high school sports. On her club gymnastics team, Osugi said she and her teammates felt a constant fear of being in pain, and for good reason—they got injured often. Their coaches would give them medicine and tell them to keep practicing. “If you got injured somewhere, you would get these shots that would numb the pain. My friends have gotten them done before mostly regarding back pain,” Osugi said. “Gymnastics was just such a big part of our lives that I guess it might be bizarre to people outside of it, but it just wasn’t to us.” While Osugi’s club coaches injected their athletes with drugs, many coaches do not know the scope of substance use on their team. “I am not aware of drug use,” Connors said. “We do have a talk every year, though, because it’s FCPS policy that any athletes who use pre-workout products are going to get in trouble. It’s dangerous and not regulated by the FDA.” Given the amount of substance use student-athletes reported, awareness campaigns are obviously not working, and structural changes are needed to curtail the problem. “Instead of it being such a taboo topic, I think that the administration at McLean and FCPS-wide should look into why people are using drugs and supplements,” Smart said. “That’s the question that needs to be answered much more than the fact that these kids are using them.” In the meantime, Osugi offers a piece of simple yet sobering advice to student-athletes. “Don’t let it get to you. If you’re stressed, don’t let it consume your life,” Osugi said. “Think about sports when you’re doing sports, and think about other things when you’re not doing sports.”

*This name has been changed to protect the anonymity of this source

C4 IS NOT FDA APPROVED Infographics by Rebeka Rafi


Out with the old, in with the shoe Tracking popular white shoes throughout the years “I think that the reason why white shoes are the most popular is because they’re easy to match with any outfit, so having them is kind of basic, but it’s also really convenient,” senior Lana Al-Saloum said.

Converse For The Edgy Kids: Adidas Superstars

Your Parents Probably Also Wore These in High School: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars “They were popular in middle school because they had a cool design and could match with any outfit,” junior Mary Kristasatryan said.

The Nursing Shoes That VSCO Made Popular: White Vans

“I used to wear the three stripe Adidas, and then I realized that those are too basic, so I got the all-whites, but then they turned brown so I had to revert to Air Forces,” Al-Saloum said

“I got the yellow checkered Vans because I thought I was so quirky, but I should have just gotten white Vans because they go with everything,” junior Chloe Lahr said.

Everyone Seems To Wear These To Parties: Nike Air Force 1s

Looks Like You Could Kill Someone With These: Filas

“They match with everything,” junior Anna Abelev said. “I have big calves, so the [raised] soles balance them out.”

“They’re a little bit chunky, but they look like you can just wear them anywhere,” senior Sheridan Dalier said.

Reporting, photos & page design by Erica Bass & Lia Vincenzo | Graphic by Dasha Makarishcheva

MARCH | A&E | 29




et a taste of a lean fighting machine with a green smoothie, a tasty option for anyone trying to squeeze a few extra veggies in. Robeks offers several scrumptious smoothies. Queen of All Greens is a delectable blend of kale, spinach and tropical fruit. Invigorating, refreshing and all green, this drink is a nutritious addition to your St. Patrick’s Day diet.


f matcha is more your shade of green, then Kung Fu Tea’s Matcha Milk Tea is the perfect beverage for you. Its fun boba bubbles and green tea flavor are perfect for an after school (or late night) pick-meup. An extra perk is the caffeine—enough to get you through any gloomy March day. Boring days have met their match(a) with this drink.

PRICE: $4.25

PRICE: $8.49

Feelin’ Lucky?

These green drinks will sham-rock your St. Patty’s Day KARA MURRI & LIA VINCENZO REPORTERS



hange up your everyday coffee run this St. Patrick’s Day with the Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino. Although it has the ice, whipped cream and sugar typical of a Starbucks drink, this frappuccino still stays true to its green roots, with just enough milky tea flavor peeking through. Your friends will be green with envy as you sip this drink.

PRICE: $4.95



he famous Shamrock Shake is back for its 50-year anniversary! At first glance, the aesthetic gradient from white to green already sets this shake apart. At first sip, the Shamrock Shake presents its magical mix of minty freshness and vanilla warmth. Without tasting toothpaste-y or overly vanilla-y, the Shamrock Shake is the perfect way to shake up your St. Patrick’s Day.

PRICE: $2.12

Illustrations by Kara Murri & Lia Vincenzo | Page design by Dasha Makarishcheva, Kara Murri & Lia Vincenzo

MARCH | A&E | 31


More electives should receive GPA boosts The staff editorial represents the opinion of the majority of The Highlander editorial board


very day, students have to deal with the workload of their core classes. Along with these mandatory classes, electives add to their course loads inside and outside the classroom. Unfortunately, most of the electives offered at McLean do not have a GPA boost to match the effort that students put into these classes. Electives that do not have a boost can bring down GPAs that students work hard for, discouraging people from taking them. “I personally think that it’s crappy that people have to choose between taking a class that they are passionate about or a class that will boost their GPA,” senior Annika Harley said. Harley is a member of the Madrigals and Armonia choirs. Members of the Madrigals must meet multiple requirements that go beyond that of a regular course. “It is definitely a big time commitment because it is a required that you take either another choir class or AP Music Theory when you take Madrigals,” Harley said. “We also have to take weekly voice lessons outside of school and go to after school rehearsals every Wednesday, give or take.” Spending hours after school for an elective class can take a toll on a student’s academic performance. “During our rehearsals there is really very little time to work on homework, so it’s all up to us to do it at home later on,” said senior Analisse Kirby, who is enrolled in Theater 4. Committing to an elective for multiple years in high school also increases the workload. Being involved in an advanced level of an elective should be considered when giving an elective a GPA boost. “The workload definitely increased as I gained a high position,” said senior Julia Raymond, editor-in-chief of McLean’s yearbook. “After school, during late nights, I probably spend an average of two to three hours.” The time and energy students put into their electives in order to contribute to 32 | OPINIONS | MARCH

outstanding programs at McLean should be positively reflected in their GPAs. “I would understand the doubts of getting a GPA boost for a performative class, but a huge amount of my time and energy goes into being a member of the Madrigals,” Harley said. “The sheer amount of time dedicated to this class justifies having a GPA boost, in my opinion.”

IT’S CRAPPY THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN TAKING A CLASS THAT THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT OR A CLASS THAT WILL BOOST THEIR GPA.” - ANNIKA HARLEY SENIOR Although most electives do not receive a boost, STEM Engineering and STEM Advanced Engineering classes do provide students with a weighted 0.5 GPA boost. “[The GPA boost is] keeping us to a different standard, because we spent time with professors in George Mason and NOVA to get the classes aligned with what their intro to engineering classes are,” technology and engineering teacher Cara Mosley said. Despite the curriculum for STEM


Average hours per day spent on elective-related activities after school at McLean Band - 4.1 hours Chorus - 3.5 hours Journalism - 4.7 hours Orchestra - 3.8 hours Photojournalism - 3.9 hours STEM - 1 hour Theater - 4.4 hours *Based on a poll of 150 McLean students in various electives

Engineering classes aligning with intro-level college courses, the course does not require work outside of school. “I’ve never really heard anybody say it’s not that manageable. Some kids have to put some time outside of class, which is mostly Highlander Time and maybe a few minutes after school,” Mosley said. Along with these classes, Symphonic band will be receiving a 0.5 GPA boost next year. “I think it is pretty well-deserved—we dedicate a tremendous amount of time both in and out of school,” said junior Alejandro Kuperschmit, saxophone section leader for Symphonic band. “On top of rehearsals students are responsible for practicing on their own time as well.” But there are a number of elective classes that require a similar amount of time which will not be receiving a GPA boost. “We have about three hours of rehearsal every day,” Kirby said. “This is usually for blocking, learning or running the shows. It usually falls right after school and takes up a large part of my day.” Providing a GPA boost to students who spend countless hours after school for the success of McLean’s award-winning programs will significantly benefit the hardworking students. Academic boosts will also encourage more students to take the courses that interest them, rather than a course that will help their GPA. 1









5 6

Reporting & page design by Rebeka Rafi | Infographic by Rebeka Rafi & Marina Qu


FCPS builds in useless snow days, making school year unnecessarily long AVA ROTONDO EDITOR-IN-CHIEF BEN BROOKS MANAGING EDITOR


welcome surprise for any Northern Virginia high schooler is waking up to a countywide alert that school has been canceled due to snowy conditions. But this has become an increasingly rare occurrence for students in the area. Due to abnormally warm temperatures, FCPS has had only one snow day so far in the 2019-20 school year, and forecasts predict this pattern will continue. An astonishing 11 snow days were used in the 2014-15 school year, eight in 201516, only one in 2016-17, seven in 2017-18 and five in 2018-19. The general trend is that the number of snow days has decreased every year. Still, FCPS built in 20 days to the school year to account for snow days—even though the county has never needed that many. FCPS converted to an hours-based system to account for “seat time,” or time students spend actually learning in school, for 201415. This increased the amount of time students have to be in school. “Now, every year, we have to have 990 hours of instruction,” Fairfax County School Board member emeritus Ryan McElveen

said. “That has given us essentially 20 snow days built into our calendar.” Those 20 days are an extra 140 hours of “seat time” for students. Before this change, FCPS had a days-based system with just a few days built in for snow. “We used to add three additional days to make 183 days to give us three built-in snow days per year,” McElveen said. “If we went beyond three snow days, we would have to make up the days.”

WHEN WE USED TO HAVE JUST THREE SNOW DAYS, WE COULD SHORTEN THE YEAR. WE CAN NO LONGER DO THAT.” - RYAN MCELVEEN SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER EMERITUS With the hours-based system, days do not have to be added to the school year. However, the extra 20 days can’t be given back, either. This is where the previous system was advantageous. “When we used to have just three snow

Number of FCPS snow days used each year


hours of school in a year

12 10



hours required by the state of Virginia

6 4


2 0

days, we could shorten the year,” McElveen said. “We can no longer do that because it’s time built in throughout the school year.” Snow days are not only for the safety of county members. They provide a necessary mental break and serve as an opportunity for students and staff to release stress. “For most students and staff, having extra days off is a gift,” school psychologist Beth Werfel said. “It’s great to have extra time to do things we enjoy.” Adding these days back into the year may not be a feasible request for working parents with young children, and in that case, the days should be repurposed to benefit the mental health of FCPS students and staff. Werfel’s ideas include in-school student work days, volunteer days and stress less days with fun planned activities. Despite the potential to make a positive impact with the extra time, changes to the current and clearly flawed snow day system are not being considered. “We have all of these unused snow days,” McElveen said. “This process has not been updated in a long time. We will, for the foreseeable future, have 20 built-in days.” There is no rhyme or reason to this policy. FCPS should consider giving back the unused hours to students and staff in the form of holidays or even a few days to help improve everyone’s mental health.






Infographic & page design by Ava Rotondo | Additional reporting by Aleena Gul


hours built in for snow days MARCH | OPINIONS | 33

Prevention of the coronavirus should not translate into xenophobia



lthough the coronavirus affects a minority of Americans, when news of the illness reached the U.S., students have been facing discrimination for the sake of ‘public safety.’ Due to the global coronavirus panic, Asian communities have faced xenophobia, negativity towards other ethnicities. “Chinese kids are receiving offensive comments from their friends or classmates, and people have been telling them to stop coming to school,” said junior Emily Chen, president of the Asian American Association. Apart from students, people of Asian descent throughout the McLean community have faced discrimination out of fear of the coronavirus. McLean counselor Deb You was segregated at two area restaurants she visited at the end of February, where individuals of Asian descent were seated in a separate, ‘quarantined’ dining area. “It makes sense if I was sick and I was coughing and feverish. Then, obviously, put me in a quarantine room,” You said. “But what about that other person that was in the main dining hall that was non-Asian and was coughing?” Misinformation about the virus spread by the media for the sake of “caution” has been a driving force behind discrimination against the Asian population. “I think that getting a lot of information out there about the actual virus itself and about how dangerous or not dangerous it is [is crucial] because I think that a lot of the hatred that we see or intolerance stems from ignorance about the virus itself,” Combating Intolerance teacher Julia Braxton said. Braxton and her students have taken steps to reduce the misinformation and resulting xenophobia surrounding the coronavirus. “In Combating Intolerance, we did a social media campaign about the virus itself, just putting to bed a lot of myths that have been circulating and the misinformation 34 | OPINIONS | MARCH

about it,” Braxton said. A main source of confusion relates to the origin of the virus. Fox News host Jesse Watters is under fire for claiming the coronavirus orginated due to Chinese people eating raw bats. However, the virus could have sprung from the mere presence of bats. “People who don’t understand the culture, they’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, Chinese people eat these super exotic things, and that’s why they deserve the coronavirus.’ That is absolutely abhorrent,” said Robert E. Lee High School senior Kimberly Boateng, the Fairfax County School Board student representative. The cold and flu being mistaken for the coronavirus has intensified xenophobic sentiments. “People are coughing because it is flu and cold season, so a lot of people are sick. But, there are those who are saying, ‘Oh, yeah, I bet that’s the coronavirus,’” Boateng said.

Surprisingly, xenophobic sentiments have been reinforced by prestigious universities. “The University of California Berkeley listed some fears linked to the spread of the virus such as the fear of [people not] washing their hands, and if you’re worried about that, that’s completely normal,” Boateng said. “But one thing they put up is that feelings of xenophobia are normal, and everyone’s like, ‘That’s not normal.’” There is a fine line between being cautious and being xenophobic. That line is being crossed as many continue to discriminate against Asians. “Just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean I’m a contagion,” You said. “We need to have more compassion and tolerance of others.” As fear and xenophobia spread faster than the coronavirus, students should focus on the facts of the disease rather than fueling unnecessary hatred.

Coronavirus protocols ARE THEY RACIST OR NECESSARY?

Students are not racist for prioritizing their health over inclusivity



s the coronavirus spreads from China, people have been faced with a challenge: to what extent must they sacrifice their health in order to be more racially sensitive? Coronavirus originated in China, so Chinese people are more likely to carry and transmit it. Students who are concerned for their health should not be labeled as xenophobic for taking precautions to prevent being sick. Since March 4, coronavirus has affected around 100,000 people in China and is spreading rapidly around the world. As an airborne virus, it is easily transmitted between people. “You can get it the same way you can get any flu or cold virus. The good news is that it’s a lot less contagious than something like measles or chickenpox, which actually have a larger contagion rate than a flu virus,” AP Biology teacher Julia Murdock said. “But it’s also not nearly as deadly as either one of those.” Symptoms of coronavirus take up to 14 days to appear, meaning that it is extremely easy to unknowingly spread the disease. To prevent this, the World Health Organization advises people to “avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness” to reduce chances of contracting it. “We should value the safety of the public and every individual in society. This is more important than trying to be racially inclusive,” junior Julia Bodet said. “I’m Chinese, but I completely understand people being more cautious toward Chinese people.” When coronavirus was first discovered in China, people avoided likely carriers so as not to contract it. Instead of associating this caution with racism, people should unify to limit coronavirus exposure, which can be done by minimizing avoidable contact with others. “This is a time to isolate the people who

have the disease. It’s just about who has it and for everyone to be cautious and aware of their surroundings,” Bodet said. “It’s about safety.”



With about a 20% population of Asian students at McLean, some students may be hesitant to approach them under the assumption that they have traveled to China recently or have been in contact with others who have traveled to affected areas. Regardless of the origin of the disease, the public must continue to prioritize its health and safety. These fears are not intended to be racist, but are based on government suggestions.

Comics by Jayne Ogilvie-Russell | Page design by Heran Essayas & Dua Mobin

“It can be [considered discrimination], but a lot of people are just trying to help, so that’s not racist,” senior Sarah Gu said. “Sometimes, people say that ‘it’s the Chinese virus,’ and that’s racist because although it originated in China, a lot of other places now have corona too. It’s really important to focus on helping them.” The U.S.-implemented travel bans applies to everyone traveling to China, regardless of race. Other preventative measures, including a 14-day quarantine when returning from China, do not apply to Chinese people only. These precautions are not targeting Chinese people and therefore are not xenophobic. “If you have somebody coming in from China, and they’re showing symptoms, you want to isolate that person, but not because they’re Chinese, but because they came from a place with the disease,” Murdock said. “Even for a Caucasian coming from China right now, you want to make sure you screen them. It’s evidence-based action, not paranoia-based action.” As coronavirus spreads to the U.S., Americans need to set aside accusations of racism to prevent the pandemic from plaguing the country. MARCH | OPINIONS | 35


Grades have become the center of students’ lives SAISHA DANI & SHRUTHI MANIMARAN REPORTERS


et good grades, but don’t focus on the numbers. Take rigorous classes, but don’t stress yourself out. Make sure you do extracurriculars, but your grades are your first priority. These are the kinds of standards high school students find themselves facing. Unrealistic? Of course they are. But we still find ourselves working towards them, convinced that grades and the classes we take are the sole predictors of our success. McLean has become too grade-oriented. “I think students feel obligated to take honors and AP classes in subjects they aren’t even interested in, just so that they can have a shot at getting into a college that they want to go to,” junior Anahit Hovsepyan said. This causes students to prioritize their grades over mastering content. “As much as I want to prioritize learning actual information, I think being grades-focused ends up with me memorizing [content],” Hovsepyan said. “I think I mostly just cram because sometimes it’s unrealistic to actually absorb all that information when you have seven classes.” Students are more concerned with their grades than the content they are learning due to the unrealistic pressure of today’s society. Some of this pressure stems from parents, who push these unrealistic standards on their children. “Oftentimes, parents are more concerned about their students having the highest GPA and getting into the best colleges so that they can have bragging rights rather than really focusing on their student’s learning,” social studies teacher Rachel Baxter said. “And I think when parents do these things their hearts are in the right place, but by focusing so much on grades rather than learning, they emphasize the wrong thing.” Although students are able to choose what classes they take, they aren’t to blame for this toxic way of thinking.


“The system that we’ve created has put so much value on grades,” Baxter said. “We can’t fault students for [prioritizing grades] because they are acting within the confines of this system we have made them feel like they need to participate in in order to be successful.” Even though McLean has begun to transition into a more interactive curriculum through project-based learning (PBL), the concept has not fixed McLean’s grade-based culture. “I think the execution [of PBL] is ineffective because students are still focused on getting that grade. After finishing a [project], no one knows what they have learned,” Hovsepyan said. A better approach to education is mastery-based learning, where students move up to the next difficulty level of a subject once they have completely mastered their current level. According to MYSA, a mastery-based learning school in D.C., in order “for students to be motivated and engaged in their learning, the topics and purpose of their work must have genuine meaning and application to their world.” Mastery-based learning emphasizes the comprehension of topics over test scores by focusing on the student as a whole instead of reducing them to just a number. “[Grades] should be based on kids being able to grow up, mature and develop instead of trying to get the best grades possible and [do] constant work,” sophomore Tyler Jensen said. Getting a bad grade on a test isn’t the end of the world, but students feel like it is. They are struggling to keep up with the expectations of their parents and colleges and are prioritizing getting good grades over actually comprehending the information being taught to them. Schools and parents should shift away from the idea that grades are the end-all beall of academic success and go back to the real purpose of education—learning.

Illustrations by Arin Kang | Page design by Saisha Dani & Shruthi Manimaran


Fan culture grows at McLean Football and basketball are the two most hyped up sports at McLean thanks to the pep rallies centered around special events, like he Highlanders walk through the double doors, prepared for the homecoming football game and the Langley basketball grudge battle. A sea of red, anxious for McLean to assert their dominance, match. These events draw the biggest crowds by a large margin greets the players. These passionate supporters are the driving force compared to the rest of Mac Town’s athletics. behind McLean’s athletic onslaught. “Football is really fun because it’s outside Fans have been a huge part of McLean’s and we come together, and it’s at the success on the field and hardwood over the beginning of the year, so everyone can see and last two years. The excitement viewers transfer meet each other,” senior fan Cameron Thierer THERE’S A STRONG to the players inspires them to work harder said. “For basketball games, it’s being able to CONNECTION and delight the crowd with a dub. For seniors hear the other school across the room hear the BETWEEN OUR like Zaid Osta, fans are essential to a team’s opposing side.” PLAYERS AND FANS. success. McLean fandom extends beyond students. IT’S ALL JUST A BIG “[Fans] definitely help a lot,” Osta said. Longtime supporters of the MC are still “[We] keep the momentum going, the game passionate about its athletics, even decades FAMILY.” - ZAID OSTA running and continually keep the energy after they or their children attended. John SENIOR flowing. Definitely when we’re chanting, it Cole, a common sideline fixture at football seems to pump the team up.” and basketball games, is one of these nonOsta is a member of the student body who is especially spirited student super fans willing to do anything to support the school, about McLean’s sports teams. The bond between the fans and the despite McLean’s not-so-prestigious athletic history. athletes drives his passion. “You’re not known for your sports,” Cole said. “But the kids try “I love the school spirit and the positivity of the fans at McLean, hard, which is the most important.” which is better than any school in NOVA and maybe the rest of While this is unfortunately true, that hasn’t stopped Cole from the U.S.,” Osta said. “Even when we’re down, the fans are always appearing at the majority of McLean sporting events over the last few giving continuous energy to our players. There’s a strong connection decades. Cole remembers many great McLean sports teams. between our players and the fans. It’s all just a big family.” “They’ve had some good coaching, especially McLean football back in the ‘90s, like how in ‘95 they went to states. I had friends who’d all meet on a Friday night and take one part of the section. They’ve all retired or cashed it in, but I’m still going every week,” Cole said. Cole has supported McLean since the 1980s, thanks to his daughter’s commitment to the varsity soccer team. He was roped into the environment of McLean activities by an unexpected request from a fellow parent. “One of the parents says to me, ‘Can you help us out?’ They were doing a raffle or something,” Cole said. “I got caught into it, and I’ve been trying to help McLean kids ever since.” Compared to the passion exhibited by fans in recent years, the past was vastly different. The focus on school sports in the McLean area today is most likely thanks to improvements to the area as a whole. Cole recalls a time when McLean was not the same. “When I first started at McLean, it was a rough area—there was a little bit of trouble at the time. Since then, it’s been great,” Cole said. “What I tell my kids is, ‘You can play football. You can play any sport for four years, but get your education because that’s going to be a lasting adventure.’ And McLean is number one for me.” Cheering from the sideline at most home events and even a good GENERATIONAL SUPPORT — John Cole receives a amount of away games, Cole is truly dedicated to the craft that is thank you poster from Mason Davis on behalf of the McLean sports. If you spot Cole at a game, don’t be afraid to walk up basketball team. Cole has been a strong supporter and thank him for his continuous dedicated support. of McLean High School sports since his children “Just come over and say hello to me. That’s all I need,” Cole said. attended in the 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Greg Miller) “I’ll be there as long as the Lord lets me move.” NICKY VARELA SPORTS EDITOR


Page design by Nicky Varela


Happy Hour every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.


Concussions are detrimental to student athletes’ health ADDIE BROWN COPY/NEWS EDITOR MICHELLE CHENG A&E EDITOR


rom Friday night football games to Langley basketball games, McLean’s competitive athletic atmosphere never slows down. During a sports season, missing out due to an injury is an athlete’s worst fear, so players often force themselves to play through the pain. One injury that shouldn’t be ignored is a concussion, as head injuries can lead to damaging, long-lasting effects. According to a 2017 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.3% of high schoolers who played three sports and 16.7% of high schoolers who played one sport reported having had at least one concussion. With the abundance of sports offered at McLean, 821 students play at least one school sport while 289 of these athletes play multiple. The large number of student athletes correlates to the number of concussions the trainers at McLean treat each year. “We typically treat, on average, about 60 concussions per school year, and that is just those that are reported to us,” head athletic trainer Mike Tierney said. “It does not include those who may have sustained a concussion outside of school and are not in any school-related activities.” Concussions are unique compared to other injuries because the recovery period is hard to measure. According to Tierney, no two concussions are alike, and they all have different symptoms and recovery timelines, depending on the individual. “With all four major concussions I have gotten, my return to activity depended on how I was feeling day to day and if I still had symptoms,” junior dancer Alexia Russo said. Not knowing exactly when one can return to play can negatively affect the mental health of student athletes. “Athletes are used to being active. It is hard to go from being very active to slowing down a lot,” Tierney said. “It can cause a lot of frustration and sometimes [even] depression.” Besides the hardships of having to sit out from participating, concussion symptoms pose many threats to the diagnosed. ShortInfographic & page design Addie Brown

term effects include headaches, dizziness and confusion, while long-term effects can range from trouble concentrating to depression and other psychological issues. These harmful effects worsen when other head injuries are sustained.

I HAVE SEEN PEOPLE WITH SYMPTOMS FROM A CONCUSSION YEARS AFTER THE INITIAL INJURY.” -MIKE TIERNEY HEAD ATHLETIC TRAINER “Second impact syndrome is a real thing and can be deadly,” Tierney said. “This is when a person who has sustained a concussion goes back to a contact sport before they have fully healed and is hit again. They sustain another concussion and this one can be catastrophic. I have seen people with symptoms from a concussion years after the initial injury.” Concussions are also detrimental to a student athlete’s academics. When a student is diagnosed with a concussion, they usually have to miss school and stay off electronics until symptoms subside. Along with all the work concussed athletes have to make up, concussion symptoms make it difficult to perform well in school. “Concussions can affect school performance because they affect the way the brain processes information. It can affect short-term memory and even long-term memory,” Tierney said. “Concussions can affect vision as well by causing an individual to continuously change focus from one object to another.”

Junior Will Huesler has sustained five concussions since eighth grade from various sports and recreational activities. While some were mild and required short-term care, two were pretty severe and led to long-term treatment. “I got one last year. I was out for like two months, and I wasn’t able to do school for like a month, so my grades plummeted,” Huesler said. “But I got excused for most of the work I missed.” Though riding the bench with an injury is certainly frustrating for athletes, Tierney advises that a concussion is not an injury to take lightly and must be treated with upmost caution. “Players should know the signs and symptoms of concussions and should not try to hide them,” Tierney said. “It is important not to ignore the symptoms, and if you suspect that you may have a concussion, you should seek out a medical professional for evaluation.”

Have you ever had a concussion because of a sport? *Poll of 207 McLean student athletes

28% YES

72% NO




Double Trouble

eniors Raya Jabboure and Lumi Kymalainen patrol the sidelines, cheering on their team in the closing minutes of a tight game. The friends’ enthusiasm is a big reason for their team’s improvement this season. Jabboure and Kymalainen coach a sixth grade girls McLean Youth Basketball (MYB) house league team, a recreational youth league for kids from kindergarten through high school. Each week, they run drills with the team during practices and coach games on the weekends. “[At practice], we let the players choose a lot of it because they’ll have more fun. But we also have stricter drills and we do a lot of scrimmages,” Kymalainen said. They started coaching for MYB two years ago. After starting house basketball in elementary school, the two eventually decided to quit playing to become coaches. “I wanted a way to still do something related to basketball, but not play, because I knew it was difficult to get on the high school team. I thought, ‘Why not coach? That would still be fun,’” Jabboure said. “We thought we would do something together, so it would still be something fun, and it wouldn’t feel like a job.” The coaches spend two hours per week working with their players. While the team was not the best in the league, ending the season with a 3-5 record, they emphasized the importance of having fun while playing. “The best part is when you get really into it when you coach the games. Even though people think it’s a joke, because it’s sixth grade girls, sometimes we both get really into it and so does the team,” Jabboure said. “I think it’s fun to see how it is to be on the other side and not always be playing a sport.” POST-PRACTICE POSES — Raya Jabboure and Lumi Kymalainen smile with their McLean Youth Basketball sixth grade team after practice on Feb. 25. The team loves being goofy. (Photo courtesy of Raya Jabboure)


ON A RAMPAGE — Coaches Bryce Molnar, Jacob Fernicola and Andrew Nelson pose with their West League eighth grade basketball team to celebrate a huge win on Jan. 25. (Photo courtesy of Bryce Molnar)


junior ‘ders

he West League eighth grade boys basketball team, nicknamed the ‘Ders, has swept the competition this season. Led by junior coaches Jacob Fernicola and Bryce Molnar, the team finished the regular season with a strong 7-2 regular season record. Fernicola and Molnar work to challenge their players, providing them with valuable basketball experience to carry into the future. Unlike Jabboure and Kymalainen, Fernicola and Molnar are not the team’s only coaches. With the help of fellow juniors Andy Min, Andrew Nelson and Jake Smith, they coach the team that happens to include Fernicola’s younger brother. “It’s fun,” Fernicola said. “I’m helping my brother experience basketball, and I’m teaching him.” The coaches run a laid-back practice. Fernicola and Molnar run a few drills but spend the majority of the practice scrimmaging and playing with the boys. “We make the kids run around a lot and work on defense. There’s lots of scrimmages, so we play five coaches against five kids,” Molnar said. “In the scrimmage, we’ll dominate the team for like 15 minutes so that [when the weekend comes], they’ll go out angry and crush the team they play.” During their weekly games, the coaches rely on encouraging their team to help them win. “Honestly the motivational speeches [helped lead the boys to success],” Molnar said. “They’re what you’re going to see in a movie one day.” The team lost their league championship game on March 7. Still, the boys gained valuable basketball experience, developing their skills and teamwork during an enjoyable season. After earning second place in the tournament, Molnar and Fernicola are hoping to learn from this season’s mistakes to win the league title next year. Page design by Katie Romhilt & Heran Essayas



Washington Nationals attempt to defend World Series title EMILY FRIEDMAN REPORTER

means that none of them can make the wild card,” Dowling said. “The Nationals have to he Washington Nationals won the play the Braves, Phillies and Mets 20 times World Series in October, securing the each, and all three of those teams are going first title in 95 years for a D.C. baseball team. to be pretty good.” But can they do it again? All-star third baseman Rendon was a The Nationals’ World Series win was a free agent at the end of last year and signed shocker. Toward the beginning of the season, with the Los Angeles Angels. He contributed Washington would have been one of the immensely to the Nats’ World Series win and last teams any avid baseball fan would have was an obvious fan favorite. predicted to win the World Series. “Rendon was really positive and close On game day, Nationals manager Davey with a bunch of teammates, so his presence Martinez told his players to “go 1-0 today” will be missed. He was obviously a good and “stay in the fight.” It obviously worked. fielder and really important to our lineup, so THEY HAD A GOOD “We had a really rough start to the season, trying to replace him in both of those aspects RUN...BUT THEY LACK and a one percent chance to make it to the is really hard,” Zimmerman said. FURTHER UPGRADES TO World Series, so to win was really exciting,” The loss of Rendon’s talent will absolutely THEIR BULLPEN OR A A sophomore Nats fan Abby Zimmerman said. hit the team, but general manager Mike Dancing in the dugout after every home Rizzo re-signed World Series MVP Steven BATTER TO REPLACE run and encouraging each other to do their Strasburg, along with three new players. ANTHONY RENDON.” best was common among the fun-loving In addition, young stars like left fielder Nats. Most of last year’s team is reunited, and Juan Soto and shortstop Trea Turner will be - JOHN DOWLING this positive atmosphere should help their returning. VARSITY BASEBALL COACH chances of repeating last year’s success. “Soto’s ability to continue to build on “So many emotions of being so close his success last year is a really big factor, just a couple times, grinding with this group, “It’s really hard to repeat a World Series because he’s so young. Sometimes, it takes so many heartbreaks in this clubhouse, to win,” McLean varsity baseball head coach a while for those guys to come in and for finally get the ring and be on top,” starting John Dowling said. “They had a good run pitchers to figure out where their holes are. pitcher Max Scherzer said in an interview where their starters were able to get the Soto looks like he doesn’t have any,” Dowling with MLB.com. “Words don’t describe that job done, but they lack further upgrades to said. “But if in fact opposing pitchers are able feeling, and all you want to do is do it again.” their bullpen or a batter to replace Anthony to figure that out, all of a sudden the Nats are Spring training started Feb. 13 in West Rendon. To make a run like that two years missing some pretty big spots in the middle Palm Beach. The Nationals share facilities in a row with an average—at best—bullpen of their lineup.” would be really hard.” The Nationals acquired two infielders, Making the World Series Eric Thames, a first baseman who played for Do you think the Nationals will again would How far do you think the Nationals be a dream the Milwaukee Brewers last year, and Starlin this and season? have a winning record this season? come true for thewill team,make Castro,ita second third baseman who last but the Nationals must played for the Miami Marlins. Data obtained from a poll of 116 McLean students first focus on winning the The third is Will Harris, thinknew the player Nationals will make thea 24.1% National League (NL) East 67.2% relief pitcher from but the Houston Astros, who playoffs not the World Series No divsion in order to make famously gave up the game-winning home playoffs. Howie Kendrick in the game sevenSeries of the 56.9% the to Nationals will make World 24.1% think run “The NL East is arguably World Series. Yes the toughest division in One thing is for sure: the upcoming season think the Nationals will not make the playoffs 8.6% baseball, so those guys are will be breathtaking as D.C. fans watch the 19% Don’t know all gonna kinda beat each Nationals attempt to build a dynasty, starting other up, which usually with a second-straight title.


with and played their first spring training game against the Houston Astros, the same team they had barely beat in the World Series. Winning two consecutive World Series is quite a feat. No team has done it since the New York Yankees two decades ago, and only 14 teams have won back-to-back titles in MLB history. The Nationals are prepared to take this challenge head-on as spring training begins.

Page design by Isaac Lamoreaux and Dasha Makarishcheva | Infographic by Taylor Olson




WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION? John Wall, because he’s a great basketball player, a really hard worker and he’s a point guard like me, so I strive to be like him. WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES FROM HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL? Our team trip to Florida last year was probably my favorite memory because it was fun to be at the beach with the whole team. It was a really memorable bonding experience. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING YOU’VE GONE THROUGH IN YOUR SPORTS CAREER? Last year I fractured my back, which was awful because I missed the whole season. That was really hard not being able to play, especially because I transferred [from Gonzaga] to play. I just continued to work hard, and it took a while to get healthy again, but eventually it paid off. WHAT DO YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR A GAME? One tradition I have is getting a cheesesteak before every game. It doesn’t matter where I get it from, I just have to get one a couple hours before my game. Right before my game, I make sure to stay hydrated and eat a small meal. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR FUTURE BASKETBALL PLAYERS? Hit the weight room. If you build up your strength, you can play better. Also, go to all the green days and workouts before the season. If you really want to play, you have to put in all the work. WHY DID YOU START PLAYING BASKETBALL? My dad played in high school, so he raised me to play basketball. I was always watching him play, and it’s something I love to do.


WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS? Hopefully, I’ll have a job in the basketball industry, maybe working for the Wizards. HOW DO YOU TRANSITION FROM THE BASKETBALL SEASON INTO THE BASEBALL SEASON? It was tough at first, knowing that my high school basketball career was over, but I had a week off to collect my thoughts and get ready for baseball. I haven’t thrown or hit all winter, so I’m definitely a little bit behind the other guys—after a couple weeks, though, I should be feeling good.

Reporting & photo by Skye Sunderhauf | Page design by Skye Sunderhauf & Dasha Makarishcheva


STARTING LINE Featuring the McLean Early Childhood Careers classes

































Photos & reporting by Taylor Olson Graphics by Dasha Makarishcheva & Taylor Olson | Page design by The Highlander staff

Visit Your Neighborhood Family Restaurant Private Banquet Room Available

10% OFF With School ID Dine-In Only

6238 Old Dominion Dr. McLean, VA 22101 Phone: 703-553-5880 Fax: 703-533-7768

Profile for The Highlander

The Highlander - Issue 5 - March 2020  

The Highlander - Issue 5 - March 2020