The Pingry Record - February 2021

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ON THE WEB: students.pingry.org/ record

THE NATION’S OLDEST COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL NEWSPAPER

February 19, 2021

Volume CXLVI, Number III

An Inside Look at LeBow Finalists’ Speeches EMMA DRZALA (V) As we approach the end of the winter trimester, the Pingry community finds that it is once again time for the annual Robert H. LeBow ‘58 Oratorical Competition, which will take place on Friday, February 26 in Hauser Auditorium. The contest was founded by the Pingry Class of 1958 (LeBow’s graduating class) and William Hetfield ‘58, in honor of their classmate, Robert LeBow. Featuring six student speakers with four-and-a-half to six-and-ahalf minute speeches, the assembly is consistently deemed a favorite among the school community. This year, the competition was organized by Ms. Judy Lebowitz, and was open to students from both the sophomore and junior classes. From a pool of 26 students in the preliminary round, the top six advanced to the finals: Martine Bigos (V), Elspeth Campbell (V), Caleb Park (V), Milenka Men (IV), Sophia Lewis (V), and Israel Billups (V). They will be judged by a diverse panel of teachers and administrators, as well as the past two winners of the LeBow Competition: Cal Mahoney (VI) and Noah Bergam (VI). Of the contestants, Martine Bigos is the only one who qualified for the finals last year. This year, she wrote a speech entitled “All That’s Left.” In it, Bigos expresses her concern about our actions as high school students, and how everything we do seems to be for an end goal, rather than for our enjoyment or the betterment of society. She also discusses dishonesty in today’s world, and how the majority of students are looking for ways to “win”—whether that be getting into college, or winning a competition— rather than truly caring about what they are doing. Rather than writing about something that she didn’t have a passion for just because she felt the judges would appreciate it, Bigos decided to write about the need for winning in society today. There is a beauty in her speech that cannot be replicated, and Pingry students will surely be able to relate to the message of it. Elspeth Campbell (V) wrote a speech entitled “We, the Politicians.” Her idea came about after reading a compendium of internet conspiracy theories in the New York Times. Confounded by the juxtaposition between baseless theories and grounded journalism, Campbell began writing a speech about the dangerous effects of factionalism on social CONTINUE READING on Page 12

Rioters storm the United States Capitol Building on January 6, 2020.

Pingry Processes the Capitol Riots

SOPHIA LEWIS (V) On January 6, supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in Washington, D.C., to protest the Congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election. Following the rally, a group of rioters stormed the Capitol Building. Four rioters and one Capitol Police officer died as a result of this assault. The protestors had arrived in D.C. bearing signs and wearing shirts that read “Trump 2020” and “Stop the Steal.” After initially protesting outside the White House, they were greeted by President Trump, who demanded that Vice President Mike Pence and other members of Congress seek to overturn the election results. Following Trump’s speech, the rioters pushed through a barricade and stormed the Capitol. They broke windows, released chemical gas in the hallways, and vandalized congresspeople’s offices,

COVID-19, One Year Later SOPHIA LEWIS (V) The entirety of 2020 was definitely one for the history books, but when I think back to the past year, I think of January and February most–the two months before the pandemic hit full-force. Almost one year ago,

most notably that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Some even made it into the House Chamber, where one rioter stole a lectern. The Capitol had to be evacuated, and pictures of congressmen and congresswomen hiding between seats in the Chamber quickly circulated. The riot, which was broadcasted on nearly every news outlet, left many people in the Pingry community feeling shocked, appalled, and angry. That night, as Congress resumed the vote count, Head of School Matt Levinson emailed the community, condemning the riot and discussing the Honor Code in the context of American democracy. “The concepts embodied in [the Honor Code] are timeless, particularly…working for the common good rather than solely for personal advantage.” It was then announced that there would be two processing sessions to be held the next day during the first two class periods. The sessions welcomed

hundreds of Pingry students and faculty members, and even as Zoom calls capped at 400 participants, community members listened in through phone calls and FaceTime. There were a multitude of emotions during these sessions. Many students were angry and upset, with a few close to tears. Some chose to share their personal experiences, while others chose to listen. Many students’ common frustration was the Capitol Police’s lack of response to the rioters in comparison to their response to the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over the summer, where swarms of guards lined the Capitol steps. Many students also expressed disgust over Confederate flags and anti-Semitic articles of clothing (such as a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt) making it into the Capitol. In addition to the processing sessions, there was another session held by AP Government teacher Mr. Matt Honohan, where he provided

students with an overview of the events leading up to January 6, to help them understand why and how the riots occurred. He also discussed the constitutional issues surrounding the election and why President Trump had called for his supporters to protest in D.C. on January 6. Mr. Honohan stated that he “hope[d] that by providing background information, students would feel better equipped to process the events that occurred.” During CP, Mr. Levinson held separate meetings with upperclassmen and underclassmen to share his thoughts on the event. Overall, many in the Pingry community were pleased with the swift response. One thing that stood out was that, even during normal class time, teachers chose to bring up the subject and give students a space to process the event, showing the solidarity of our community.

the first case of the coronavirus was diagnosed in the United States. Though a serious matter, the general public was naïve to what this meant, as COVID-19 still seemed to be “that virus ravaging China.” By February, I saw only a couple of people wearing masks in public, and the only thought crossing my mind was: “Why are they wearing masks?” More time passed, and instead of reading the news and worrying about what the

COVID-19 spread actually meant, I was preparing to perform in Pingry’s rendition of Chicago and participate in my first year of serenades with the Balladeers. On March 13, however, all my plans halted. The year turned around completely. The day I was supposed to be packing my suitcase for the annual Disney trip with the softball team, I was buying extreme amounts of toilet paper and groceries with my mom, still grieving

over the fact that school would be remote for a month. Nobody knew what the future would hold; instead of enjoying spring activities, concluding yet another tedious school year, and readying ourselves for the muchanticipated summer break, we were shut up in our homes with nothing to look forward to, except trying to figure out what exactly remote

OPINION: Pages 3-4

INVESTIGATIVE: Page 6

COLUMNS, Pages 8-10

Life Lessons From the Pandemic

“GME To the Moon”: How Redditors Upstaged Wall Street

Kerouac, the Beatniks, and Music for the Road

Andrew Wong (V) explains the historical rise of GameStop stock.

Pros and Cons of Pandemic Fashion

Sarah Kloss (V)

Conversations With Art Carson Shilts (VI)

Rhea Kapur (VI)

Grace Fernicola (III)

CONTINUE READING on Page 12

Write for us!

We’re always looking for new writers. Please reach out if you have any ideas or questions! Email: recordsubmissions@pingry.org

Photo Credits: Lev Rodin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images, Olivia Hung


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THE PINGRY RECORD

SCHOOL NEWS FEBRUARY 19, 2021

Global Programs Go Virtual to Explore Yugoslavia News Report

Student Reflection

MIRIKA JAMBUDI (IV)

ZALA BHAN (IV)

Over Winter Break, students were given the opportunity to participate in Pingry’s first ever virtual Global Program. Ms. Julia Dunbar, Director of Global Education and Engagement, and Dr. Megan Jones, History Department Chair, worked together to convert this Global Studies Program into a three-day virtual course with the help of Atlas Workshops. This program was based on the previous Global Studies Program, “Nations at a Crossroad: Nationalism and Religion in the Balkans,” which was a thirteenday travel course. In that course, students visited areas of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, learning about the Yugoslav Wars and the underlying nationalist strife that caused the regional divisions. In this year’s virtual recreation of the trip, students were able to meet and speak with actual residents of the countries. Many shared that these conversations were one of the most valuable aspects of the Program. For three hours each morning, from December 21st through 23rd, Pingry students dove into the history and politics of the former Yugoslavia, meeting and interacting with locals, participating in group discussions and activities, and ultimately working towards an answer to the overarching essential question, “What makes a nation?” Ms. Dunbar and Dr. Jones remarked that they were very pleased with the virtual program. Although the “power of in-person travel is irreplaceable,” the Global E d ucation a nd Enga g e me nt Department hopes to offer more virtual courses to Pingry students as “a complement to [Pingry’s] travel programs.”

I took part in Pingry’s “What is a Nation?” virtual Global Program in December 2020, which specifically explored the history of Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia, which emerged in the aftermath of the Yugoslav Wars. Yugoslavia existed in the Balkans region in Southeast Europe. The Balkans is home to a diverse and complex religious history, as many religious followings took shape there; these religions include Christianity brought by the Romans, Orthodox Christianity following the East-West Schism, and Islam spread by the Ottoman Empire. In the Balkans, such religious diversity resulted in conflict in the late twentieth century. On top of this existing entanglement, the peninsula was also a playground for foreign forces, from the AustroHungarian Empire and the Third Reich to the USSR and NATO. As a result of these influences, harmony in the region has been difficult to solidify. I have always found the convoluted manner in which history unfolds intriguing. While I gained much insight into the region during this program, there continue to be many knots to untie in hopes of approaching the truth. The Yugoslav Wars, which took places in the 1990s, were caused by ethnic nationalist sentiments. Pingry’s Global Program, “What is a Nation?”, covered the basic history of these events and gave a compelling overview of its complexities. During the program, we had an opportunity to hear from speakers from the Balkans; their first-hand insights led me to realize the destruction of the war left deep wounds in the people’s hearts and planted the seeds of strife. No one in the region seems to “recognize [the others’] victims,” said Alec, our Serbian guest speaker. However, there was a brief period of unity in the region under Josip Broz Tito’s Yugoslavia, a country

formed following WWII, which included modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. Tito’s emphasis on brotherhood during his time in power resonated with many people in the region. He kept, as Alec described it, his “beautiful, [...] honorable dream” of making Yugoslavia strong by denouncing nationalism (calling it a bourgeois concept). As a result, he founded the Non-Allied Movement during the Cold War and adopted market socialism, which united a diverse region. However, suppressing nationalist sentiment only led to its eruption when Tito died; in 1991, 11 years after his death, the Yugoslav Wars began. Throughout

the wars, over 140,000 people died, as Yugoslavia crumbled. To me, it’s unsettling to accept that this conflict occured recently. After hearing witnesses’ first-hand accounts, reading articles, and analyzing the political climate during Pingry’s virtual program, I became aware of the long-lasting impacts of the conflict. For centuries, nationalism and religion have turned Balkan politicians to hatred, a pattern that many historians have tried and failed to figure out. When the “political elites [...] revert to nationalist rhetoric to maintain support” in the region, I cannot see a solution ever being found. Therefore, I put my hope in the future generation of politicians; the youth can look past the gruesome divides to build a future based on peace and progress. The youth has the burden of inheriting authority over the Balkans and bringing the region to either success or ruin.

We are at a crossroads. Thus, I ask: will the region continue to dwell blindly on the past and strengthen the tradition of hatred and division, or will it rise above conflict? After hearing the refreshing ideas from our guest speakers, I see hope not just for this conflict, but others too. In the recent past, we have seen nationalism rise globally; although each global conflict has its own set of circumstances, people, and demographics, the underlying theme remains the same: competing narratives of history and schism rooted in ethnicity, religion, or region. Our guests from the Balkans agreed that there must be a mutual acceptance of shared narratives for reconciliation. As a result, the shared economic interests will bring everyone together. Ultimately, when two roads diverge, humanity cannot travel both, and now it is up to the youth to decide which one it will be.

News Briefing Educates Community on Events at the Capitol KATE MARINE (III) On the morning of January 7th, Upper School students were given the opportunity to attend various processing sessions via Zoom in response to the unprecedented events that occurred at the US Capitol Building the previous day. Among these sessions was a news brief, also via Zoom, from Mr. Matt Honohan. It aimed to give students and faculty some guidance in understanding what exactly transpired at the Capitol, and how our country came to such a point. Mr. Honohan is a faculty member of the Upper School History Department, where he currently teaches World History 10, as well as three sections of AP Government and Politics. “I have a real passion for our country, and for our political system,” Mr. Honohan said, regarding his position as a government teacher, “so what I really enjoyed about [the news

brief] was [bringing] a slice of what I do in AP Gov to the student body as a whole.” The session’s goal was to give both students and faculty a better sense of the country’s current situation, with the hope that understanding this event would be the first step towards processing it. With all the chaos that has accompanied the 2020 US election, Mr. Honohan especially wanted the talk to address a central question: how did we get here? “We wanted students to have a better chance of understanding why we had such chaos in the Capital, and [of understanding] some of the legal and constitutional reasons why things got so messy by January 6th,” Mr. Honohan said. In terms of its impact on the Upper School community, the news briefing on January 7th was successful and received positive feedback from both students and faculty. “Before, I had a cursory understanding [of the January 6th

events],” Leon Zhou (III) said, “but after attending the briefing I had a much more detailed understanding of the events that happened, and ones leading up to them.” Although we hope that the events of January 6th will never have to repeat themselves, Mr. Honohan stresses the importance of staying politically engaged in the world around us. “One of the things I particularly love about teaching government is [that] it is, in a fundamental way, citizenship training,” Mr. Honohan said. “Everybody in the school is going to be eighteen soon and voting.” For that reason, although he does not expect students to “be massively politically engaged,” Mr. Honohan hopes that events like the storming of the Capitol can demonstrate to students the very real and immediate consequences of politics affecting the country as a whole. “It’s easy to live life from crisis to crisis, but the challenge is to develop

a degree of consistent engagement,” Mr. Honohan explained. “I hope [these events] spur students to be more consistently engaged in the world around them.” In such unstable times, events like the ones of January 6th can easily seem scary and overwhelming to the average newswatcher. It is for this reason that staying educated is so important to processing

the events both individually and as a community. “The events of January 6th and [similar] events will only drive us apart using fear and political divide,” Zhou said. Unless, of course, we bridge that divide with political awareness and common understanding—perhaps that bridge is the one thing we can keep stable amidst a turbulent year for our country.

Photo Credits (top to bottom): Olivia Hung (V), Jason Andrew (New York Times)


THE PINGRY RECORD

COMMENTARY FEBRUARY 19, 2021

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On Stupid Mistakes and Stubborn Conviction NOAH BERGAM (VI) A gentle chorus of crackling leaves caught my attention on a midday walk. It was a curious, contradictory sound, a fractal hum of tiny collisions. I walked across the curb, took three steps into the edge of the icy forest, and looked for the culprit in the autumn detritus. Nothing. I tried to blink away the quarantine eyestrain. Still nothing, yet the hum intensified. When I turned back to the street, I saw the pavement dancing with miniscule ice pellets, white crystals popping in and out of solid existence. I smiled. The clouds caught me by surprise with their absurdity. I wanted revenge. A childish urge brought me back to the curb, in search of a sizable piece of hail. Drivers passed me by with confused looks as I patiently combed the cold asphalt for something worthy. Searching, searching—jackpot! I showed it to my mother. It was a beautiful crystal, about a centimeter in diameter, chiseled like a polyhedron. It was incredible how slowly it was melting. Come to think of it, it didn’t really melt at all. This isn’t ice, she told me. It’s road salt. It took her about five seconds to note the discrepancy. Meanwhile, as I walked home, I held the crystal for about five minutes in my glove, with the firm belief that it was ice.

ANDREW WONG (V) Over the summer, like many of my friends at Pingry, I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, a documentary exposing the inner workings and dangers of social media and surveillance capitalism. Perhaps I was naïve at the time, but after watching the show, I still felt that social media was not a clear and present danger to our freedoms in this country. A negative social influence? Perhaps. Issues with user data and security? Certainly. But not a serious threat to society and civil rights. However, in the wake of Capitol violence motivated by online actors, former President Donald Trump’s ban from every single social media platform on allegations of “incitement,” and thousands of other bans being handed out to conservative influencers, it’s clear that the issue of social media needs to be addressed. Social media can be a force for good, helping to connect people from all over the world and allowing for immense information sharing that human history has never seen before. But on the flip side, it can also be used to facilitate illegal activities, share illicit material and content, curb free speech, or change the minds of millions with misinformation and propaganda. So how should social media be regulated in order to continue being a force for good, while also protecting our right to free speech and keeping unwanted actors out? Presently, all social media in the United States is regulated under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230(c)1 grants social media companies legal

In this jarring turn of events, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. I wanted to laugh it off, but I also felt compelled to understand the mental glitch which led me to this moment. I felt a tinge of that self-correcting hysteria that every Pingry student knows so well: the pain of the stupid mistake. The arithmetic error, the glaring typo, the misread question. In the craft of perfection, from 1600s to 36s to A+s, stupid mistakes must be rooted out ruthlessly. We cannot afford to treat them as inevitable, even as every stupid mistake inevitably stems from the same essential human quality: stubborn conviction. When it comes to career paths like airplane pilotry and city policing, the mindset of perfectionism, of rooting out stupid mistakes, is not just respectable but societally necessary. However, in the context of academics and pedagogy, when ideas and curiosity are at stake, I believe we ought to lighten up on our approach to stupid mistakes. It’s healthier for students to expect to incur errors in their educational careers rather than strive endlessly towards perfect mental acuity. Coursework should guide us to trust our own analytical instincts, to find our own way–not just as students, but as scholars. Despite what your coursework may lead you to believe, scholarship in the

truest sense is not about test-taking; it’s about theory-making. It’s about channeling creativity and trusting your own original conviction to make new arguments, knowing full well you might blunder. At its core, it’s not about mastering someone else’s theory, be it Newton’s mechanics or Darwin’s natural selection, just to spit it back onto a page without error. Think about it this way: do you study philosophy to become a student of philosophy, or a philosopher in your own right? I would argue the latter, and I think most philosophers, from

Aristotle to Emerson to Nietzsche, would agree. Most high school curricula, at Pingry and beyond, are simply not structured to foster scholarly confidence. Testtaking is a fundamentally perfectionist pursuit, designed to help us strangle our stupid mistakes and fit our thinking to whatever model is laid out in front of us. If we want to encourage students to think for themselves and adopt strong opinions with a healthy mindset, we ought to transition to more researchoriented, discussion-based models. Critical essays in particular ought to

extend beyond English class. I’d like to see more math students reading and writing research rather than parroting formulas—perhaps one of them might come across the Hairy Ball Theorem, which I think offers us a particularly nice illustration of this entire discussion. The theorem states that a sphere covered with hair cannot be entirely combed down; that a planet with wind must have a point on its surface where the air is not moving. So too is any person with an opinion going to have tufts and wrinkles in the fabric of their reasoning. It’s up to them to seek out those logical inconsistencies, to actively smoothen them out while understanding that the topology of ideology is never perfect. Stupid mistakes and stubborn conviction are two sides of the same coin, the same cold, salty crystal. The confidence to believe, with reason but also tenacity, is a fundamental part of our humanity and our intellectual legacies. It’s what gives us the passion to voice political opinions and invest time into civil discourse. It’s what gives us the courage to propose theorems and tell stories. It’s what imbues a dreary January hail storm with an air of youthful adventure.

How to Regulate Social Media executioner when it comes to free speech in the twenty-first century public square? How should Section 230 be changed to try and remedy these

immunity from whatever content is posted on their platforms, and makes it so that social media companies cannot be held liable for what is said and done by users, even if said actions are illegal. The second portion of the law, Section 230(c)2 provides immunity from civil liabilities for information service providers that remove or restrict content from their services they deem “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable”, as long as they act “in good faith” in this action. In essence, platforms cannot be held liable for violating the free speech of users by removing content. However, while Section 230 has allowed social media companies to expand and flourish without fear of legal repercussions for moderating what is posted on their platforms, it’s also presented many moral questions. For example, should illicit material or content that inspires violence or terrorism be allowed to be harbored on social media platforms with no repercussions whatsoever? Or what about the flip side of the coin, in that we’ve essentially given so-called “Big Tech” a free hand to play judge, juror, and

issues? Democrats and Republicans have proposed several solutions. Democrats, most notably President Joe Biden, have supported weakening Section 230(c)1 protections, having stated in a January 2020 interview with The New York Times

that “[Facebook] is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false”, and that the U.S. needed to “[set] standards” for what content is and is not

allowed on social media. Republicans, led by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), have proposed legislation limiting Section 230(c)2 protections, clarifying what it means when a platform takes down content in “good faith”, and stripping away immunity for content takedowns, thus allowing users to sue companies over content moderation policies. Ultimately, effective regulation must address issues regarding illicit content and free speech. Such regulation must establish that content promoting illicit activities (such as child abuse, human trafficking, terrorism, and cyber-stalking, among others), are illegal on the internet, just like it is in the real world, and platforms will have their immunity stripped if they promote these activites. However, such regulation must also have adequate protections on free speech. This could be accomplished through clarifying the “good faith” clause with specific language, or perhaps writing specific legislation that only allows platforms to take down content when it is blatantly illegal, rather than letting platforms take down content they don’t like to see. Social media is the public square of the 21st century, and ultimately, everyone should be able to have access to this public square, in keeping with our values of free speech. It is in everyone’s interest that the internet remains a free and open space, but also a safe space where illegal actions are not allowed to persist. Effective and smart regulation, accomplished via updating Section 230, would be an easy way to create an open and safe environment on all social platforms.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Monica Chan (VI), Hansen Zhang (III)


THE PINGRY RECORD

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COMMENTARY FEBRUARY 19, 2021

Life Lessons from the Pandemic SARAH KLOSS (V) When reminiscing about a time before masks and social distancing, I think back to the Model UN trip right before lockdown. Actions like packing 30 kids into an elevator or gathering in groups to discuss resolutions seem almost unimaginable nearly a year later. The possibility of students from all over the country and the world coming together at a convention now feels shocking and is a reminder of how much the world has changed. Even before the trip, the virus had already begun to have an enormous impact on my life. A couple of days before I went to New York for the trip, I learned that the French exchange program that I planned on attending was canceled because of positive COVID-19 cases in Lyon, France. I was surprised and confused because I didn’t think that the virus was serious or dangerous enough to warrant the program’s cancelation. Disappointed but yet to grasp the severity of COVID-19, I continued to enjoy the weekend in New York. It wasn’t until the first week of spring break that I finally understood the full impact of the virus. While I was excitedly packing for a vacation, I learned that New Jersey had declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 cases. Not long after, we received an email from the school announcing its transition to remote learning. At that point, I was scared and concerned for the future, but what followed in the next few months has completely altered my outlook on the world. There are many life lessons that I learned from the pandemic. First,

CARSON SHILTS (VI) Art has always been very timely in that one can easily identify the time period of a painting based on its style. Up until the present, artistic movements have usually been the byproduct of clear shifts in the social and political climate. For example, expressionism was a result of the horrors that people endured during the eras of World War I and II, as expressing oneself through abstract artistic representations allowed a sort of solace. Popular art today is difficult to define because it is seen as a mixture of many different art movements, while still creating a collective. Artists have seemed to discover that, in order to create something new, one does not have to forget the past—rather, one ought to be inspired by it. This ideology has allowed for new art movements to emerge as a result of previous art movements. It takes time, however, for a new style to become established and en vogue. Artists whom we now consider pioneers and geniuses were rejected in their times. Vincent Van Gogh, for example—an artist who we now consider one of the greatest painters of all time—only sold one painting during his lifetime, and

I now understand that family and friends are the most crucial things in my life. Before the pandemic, it was hard to find time to spend together as a family, as a result of our busy lives. Now, through having much more time with my family, I learned to cherish the moments we have with each other. Additionally, I now value the interactions I have with my friends more than I did before. During the shutdown, it was difficult for me not to see any of my friends in person, and although we would still text and FaceTime each other, it was nowhere near the same experience.

Being back in-person for school, I have grown to appreciate every moment I spend with my friends. I have also discovered how to adapt to changes and become more flexible. Not everything will go the way we want it to, but we can still make the best out of the situation. Although my global program to France was canceled, I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual global program about the Balkans during winter break. While I was disappointed that the Model Congress trips were canceled this year, I was still fortunate enough to participate in

the Virtual Model Congress held for the first time. Also, I learned how to cherish the small things in life and not take anything for granted. When New Jersey was in lockdown, the one thing I missed the most was playing tennis. All the tennis courts were closed and I missed the routine of playing. Because of this, when the tennis courts finally reopened, I valued being on the court much more. I am incredibly grateful for what Pingry did over the summer, from installing the filtration system to putting up PlexiGlass dividers, so that we could come back to school for

in-person learning in the fall. I could finally see my friends and teachers again, and I could play tennis for the school (something that I wasn’t sure would happen). Looking at the graph of the new COVID-19 cases both in New Jersey and the United States, I am incredibly grateful that the vaccine has come out and cases are now trending downwards. Even when the pandemic is over, I will always remember the lessons it taught me, and I look forward to squeezing in an elevator with 30 kids again.

Conversations With Art was rejected from multiple exhibits. So, what can we take away from this progression of rejection and then later glorification? I believe that the way people treat art can be paralleled to the way in which people treat progressivism as a whole. Historian and author Timothy Snyder wrote, “It is those who were considered exceptional, eccentric, or even insane in their own time ... whom we remember and admire today.” This

holds especially true as we look back again on those great pioneering artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas and Claude Monet. The rejection of their work and, in a sense, their ideas alienated them from society. It is a toxic trend among humans to shy away from change and to stifle anyone who dares disrupt our seemingly complete knowledge of the world. As a result of this, innovative minds are shunted into a corner where their

ideas are only spread to a closed group of like-minded people. Rejection is exhausting and to put oneself out there repeatedly, only to be criticized, especially on such a personal matter as art, would no doubt drive someone to madness. However, it is this small group of pioneers that truly hold the power. As Michael Leja writes, “The success or failure of works of art in targeting cultural pressure points may be

registered in the volume of attention they receive.” Instead of feeling guilty for liking a painting that doesn’t line up with the current, conventional standards, perhaps one should just purchase it, and display it proudly in one’s home. The success of a movement is dictated by the support it generates from society. This support can be contagious, and it can show that a standalone artist isn’t insane or eccentric anymore, but rather, that they are accomplished and heard. This is how movements spread, grow, and evolve. This doesn’t just apply to art. Progressive ideas are ever-flowing, and it is important that we find what we believe in and present it to the world, just as you would a controversial painting, because the artist, activist, politician, writer, or scientist will never be regarded with respect until they are publicly discussed. This discussion allows room for growth from all people, as it encourages others to speak up, other perspectives to be heard. Think of the world as a never-ending discussion; artists, writers, and just about everyone else are constantly discussing, waiting for the world’s response. So, to put it simply, listen and respond.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Olivia Hung (V), Vincent


THE PINGRY RECORD

How Trump’s Lies Brewed the Storm ROHAN PRABHU (V) With the onset of the U.S. Senate's impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, it is essential to understand what events put us in this position. On January 6th, 2021, an insurgent mob of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. Although some conservative media outlets continue to claim otherwise, we cannot deny that former President Trump was a factor in its emergence. It is widely known that politicians on both sides of the aisle tend to spout trivial white lies. Even "Honest Abe" Lincoln gave some dubious statements regarding his meetings with influential Confederacy members. But these lies are viewed by many Civil-War era historians as instrumental to the cause of preserving the Union. Whereas Lincoln's subtle bending of the truth had good intentions, Trump's lies have been utterly divisive. The history of Trump's compulsive lying begins with his 2015-16 Presidential bid. He needed to mask his muddled past of flip-flopping between political affiliations, hushmoney payments, bankrupting casinos, his faith, racism, etc. Even as Trump tells his lies, the international spotlight that comes with being the President of the United States has left him bare and exposed. When his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified in Congress, he confirmed many claims about his client's rampant racism behind closed doors. In the wake of the "Black Lives Matter" protests, Trump employed the National Guard to hold off peaceful demonstrations so that he could conduct a photo-op near his Episcopal Church. While his decision to do so was controversial, he defended it as a patriotic moment and disparaged the movement. Information and misinformation have spread like wildfire across the nation, presenting Trump's blasphemous claims as factual statements to his followers. A possible

explanation for this phenomenon is that the American public has become so attached to their political affiliations that they have squandered their own reasoning and judgment in favor of their loyalty to one party or another. This occurs on all sides of the political spectrum, but the abuse of such loyalty is highly present in "Trumpism." The effects of Trumpism have given rise to a growing number of conservative conspiracy theorists, most notably QAnon. The account first gained popularity on the eve of the 2020 Presidential election and has claimed a massive following (called Q) since then. Before president Joe Biden's inauguration, Q claimed that former President Trump and President Biden would be surgically swapping faces before the event and viewers would be watching President Trump's second inauguration while Joe Biden would be on trial. These claims are outrageous to any sane individual, but they have been allowed to spread around the internet. Trump also failed to denounce theories supporting his claims that Biden stole the election from him, which have been proven false. Trump's blatant spread of lies is the crux of the circumstances that led to hundreds of angry citizens breaking into the Capitol Building, a prime symbol of our democracy, leaving 183 arrested and 5 dead. There is a common saying in India: "One can awake those who are actually sleeping, but one cannot awake those who pretend to be asleep." Not only does Trump refuse to face his own reality by pretending to be asleep, but he has brought his followers with him. The spread of misinformation has brainwashed average Americans as a result of the actions of our very own President. Trump's clear ineptitude to serve in public office and his failure to stop the Capitol Riots are the basis for the Senate's trial in these upcoming weeks.

COMMENTARY FEBRUARY 19, 2021

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Ending The Uncivil War: What Joe Biden Needs to Do to Unite America ANDREW WONG (V) On January 20, in a deserted Washington D.C. guarded by more than 25,000 National Guard soldiers, Joe Biden took the Oath of Office to become the 46th President of the United States. President Biden takes the reins of the nation in an extremely tumultuous time. Never before in American history has the population been so polarized. According to Pew Research Center, both Democrats and Republicans now lean further to the political left and right, respectively, than at any other point in American history. The reasoning behind this shift may not even be grounded in changing ideals over policy, but rather, in hatred for the other side. A recent study conducted by a group of political scientists from Northwestern, NYU, Stanford, and Harvard which looked at political sectarianism in America concluded that a majority of Republican and Democrat voters today are united not by their love of their own party’s policy, but rather by a hatred of the opposition. As a result, both parties end up moving towards their political extremes as they seek to counter everything the other party stands for—a self-fulfilling prophecy that only widens the gap between Democrat and Republican. Perhaps the best example of this great disunity in our nation comes in the form of the violence on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, when a group of right-wing extremists and anarchist agitators broke into the Capitol Building to try and stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. This tragedy shows us that American society faces two major issues: 1) Americans are losing faith in the democratic system. 2) Some Americans unfortunately believe that the outlets for them to express their grievances with the government have failed to the point where violence becomes acceptable The loss of faith in our democratic system can be found directly in the fallout surrounding the 2020 election and the general anger towards a gridlocked Congress. Polls show that more than 74 percent of Republicans

and over 42 percent of Independents believed Joe Biden was elected by illegitimate means: a dangerous proposition in a country built on the democratic process. The refusal of election authorities to even listen to this bloc of voters and seriously look into irregularities surrounding the election only exacerbated this situation and only served to assuage fears that something was afoot. One can argue about what right these voters had to challenge the results of the election and the validity of their evidence, but nonetheless, the lack of an independent investigation into these election concerns, even if they were built upon shaky evidence, only further damaged voters’ faith in the democratic process. Such an investigation would not have been unusual. Keep in mind, after the 2016 Presidential Election, Democrats pursued a two-year-long investigation into “Russian collusion with the Trump campaign” under the Mueller probe, which was eventually shown to be built on its own mound of shoddy evidence. An independent investigation to debunk theories surrounding fraud in the 2020 election would have gone a long way in preventing what had happened at the Capitol. Even if the investigation were as fruitless and frivolous as the Mueller probe, it would have at least let the people know they were being listened to. The second ingredient in creating the explosion at the Capitol was extreme distrust of the government. Americans are tired of seeing the constant gridlock of Congress and the inability of Republican and Democratic caucuses to even compromise on basic legislation. Perhaps the most glaring example of this incompetence and deadlock has been the general failure of Congress to pass meaningful coronavirus relief legislation, even after months of debate. When these two factors of mistrust in the electoral process and anger at the government were combined, it created a ticking time bomb. Political scientists define pressure release valves in a democracy as means for the public to voice their discontent with the government.

Such valves include elections for representatives, a media that values free speech, and civil disobedience and protest. However, with a sizable portion of the American electorate believing the election was rigged, in conjunction with a gridlocked Congress, and months-long COVIDrelated lockdowns brought down on the people by the government, many of the pressure release valves in American society failed. It was only a matter of time before all the pressure and anger over a questionable election, ineffective legislative branch, and crippling lockdowns exploded and ordinary citizens took matters into their own hands. Let me be clear: violence is inexcusable in all forms, and I wholly condemn the actions of these extremists at the Capitol. Nonetheless, history clearly shows us that when the government fails to fix the pressure release valves, shuts down opinions and ignores requests for change, people will resort to extreme means to make a point. We saw it last spring in Minneapolis and Portland in the context of racial unrest, and we saw it happen again on January 6. In his inaugural address, President Biden promised to be a “President for all Americans” and “end the uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.” As America picks up the pieces and looks towards the future, President Biden must accomplish two things if he wishes to unite this nation. One, he must win back Americans’ trust in the federal government and Congress. The second task is to fix the pressure release systems of the nation, and make it clear to citizens that their government can hear them, and cares about them. While there is no cut-and-dry method to accomplish this, certain tasks, such as passing stronger coronavirus relief bills and safely reopening the economy, would go a long way in helping heal a wounded nation. Biden’s ability to be a successful president is contingent upon him figuring out how to solve these two problems in a way that is beneficial for all Americans. If these problems are allowed to persist, they will only continue to strain the bonds between us.

The Power of Comebacks, Big and Small MEGHAN DURKIN (VI) If you’re a golf fan like me, you spent your Super Bowl weekend watching the Waste Management Phoenix Open—and yes, the game as well. Perhaps, the biggest storyline of the tournament was an unlikely, yet familiar, name at the top of the leaderboard going into Sunday: Jordan Spieth. Spieth, a three-time Major champion, who was once ranked the world’s No. 1 golfer for 26 consecutive weeks, hasn’t won a tournament since 2017, a three-anda-half year dry spell that has seen him fall out of the top 50 in world rankings. At the Phoenix Open, for the first time in far too long, Spieth looked like the player of old: he had a career-high ten birdies in Saturday’s round and went into the final round tied for first at 18 under par. As a fan of Spieth’s, and of golf, it was exciting: a potential resurgence of a top talent who seemed to have lost his game. A win, however, was not in the cards for Spieth, who played a lackluster final round and finished fourth. I was

disappointed, to say the least. But, Jordan Spieth’s almostwin reminded me of what I love so much about sports: the comeback. There is nothing like watching a once-great talent re-emerge from defeat to reclaim their past glories. Think Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory, his first Major title since the 2008 U.S. Open. Or, think of Shaun White claiming his third Olympic gold medal at PyeongChang in 2018, following a fourth place finish four years earlier. For a more recent “comeback,” and if you’re more of a soccer fan, think of John Stones’ resurgence in Manchester City’s first team this season. Like Spieth, many more athletes continue to push for a concrete comeback of their own. Take Serena Williams, who faces a career setback of her own following the birth of her first child. Williams has lost her last four Grand Slam finals, a stat that has slowed her chase of the all-time Grand Slam singles’ titles record. While failing to hold this record will likely weigh little on her already stacked legacy as a player,

her accomplishments, at least to fans, feel incomplete. Maybe this is unfair, but the truth is, the story of a comeback never fails to be a great one, especially for the fans. Sports, in its mirroring of life, presents the ultimate lesson of “you can only be on top for so long.” For professional athletes, success is hard to earn, yet so easy to lose. Being at the pinnacle of one’s sport and the height of one’s career, almost always ends unforgivingly and without return. Thus, when fans are invited to witness the return of a talent and player they grew to adore, the feeling is nothing less than elation, and the story worthy enough to be front-page news. Unfortunately, no— we can’t all be Tiger or Serena, but I’d like to think we all have fans rooting for our

comebacks too (albeit many less). As the greats would tell us: in times of success, when our putts are sinking and shots dropping, we have to grab at every opportunity; we have to take our moments and squeeze everything out of them. And inevitably, when our good luck

relinquishes and we’re off our game, we have to know: our fans are behind us; our people are pulling for us. Just ask Spieth, Williams, White, or Woods: everyone loves a comeback, even one for you.

Photo Credits: Emily Shen (V)


THE PINGRY RECORD

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INVESTIGATIVE FEBRUARY 19, 2021

“GME To the Moon”: How Redditors Upstaged Wall Street ANDREW WONG (V) The Wall Street Bets Reddit Community, affectionately referred to as r/WallStreetBets, proudly describes itself as “like 4Chan found a Bloomberg Terminal.” So-called YOLO (“You Only Live Once”) trades are the order of the day on this subreddit, with users dumping thousands of dollars into high-risk, high-volatility trades that essentially treat the stock market like a massive casino. Upon visiting the board for the first time, users are greeted with posts on dozens of these potential YOLO trades that have the potential to either make you a millionaire, or absolutely rob you—usually the latter. Yet even as these YOLO trades go bust, many of the Redditors take pride in their massive losses, posting pictures of hundreds of thousands of dollars lost on high-risk options and trades. However, when these trades do go right, one can become a millionaire practically overnight. This was the case with Gamestop (GME), a YOLO trade started by a 34-year-old financial educator from Massachusetts named Keith Gill, who mostly posts cat memes on Twitter and Reddit. Gill originally placed $54,000 on GME in September of 2020, when GME traded at roughly $8.50 a share. The bet soon gained momentum on r/ WallStreetBets when Gill posted an update on January 11, 2021. Users started buying the stock en masse, sending the price to about $65 a share by January 22. Wall Street hedge funds soon took notice of this sudden uptick in GME’s stock price, and immediately

saw an opportunity to make some quick money. GME’s stock price was indeed heavily overvalued: the company itself was not expected to turn a profit until 2024, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was in severe financial distress. Expecting the stock to nosedive owing to Gamestop’s precarious financial situation and poor fundamentals, investors short sold the stock. By January 22, 140% of GME’s public float had been shorted, making it the most shorted stock on the market. Seeing how GME had been extremely shorted by Wall Street hedge funds, members of r/WallStreetBets soon found themselves with a golden opportunity. If they could get users on the board to buy more shares of GME (which would increase the stock price), hedge funds would have to buy back the stock to cover, which would further increase the stock price and cause a short squeeze, thus sending the stock price soaring. On January 25, the plan was put into motion. Swathes of users bought GME (nearly 175 million shares were traded that day), pledging to send “Gamestop to the Moon!” The internet soon took notice and “GME to the Moon’’ was trending on multiple social media platforms that day. Influencers hoping to make a quick buck posted screenshots of their positions and asked their followers to buy into the stock. Millennial college students looking to pay off their college debts hopped on the trend, dumping their stimulus checks and whatever savings they could scrape together into GME. Gen-Zers, many of whom had never even touched the stock market before, started accounts

on free trading platforms such as Robinhood to hop on the GME rocket and become part of history. Never before in stock market history had so many people been united together in a singular goal to buy a stock. This sudden influx of people buying GME caused the stock’s price to rise sharply, as expected. A gamma squeeze was also triggered by traders scrambling to buy options in order to hedge their short positions and protect themselves from further risk, which further increased the stock price. By the time the market closed on January 26, GME had risen 92.71% to a price of $147.98 per share. During afterhours trading, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter and posted a link to the r/WallStreetBets subreddit with the caption “Gamestonk!”, sending the price of the stock to $200. By the time the market closed the next day on the 27, GME was trading at $483 a share, an increase of almost 750% from its stock price just a week prior, and an increase of more than 1000% for the entire year. In the span of two days, Redditors and YOLO investors who had placed thousands of dollars into GME found themselves with millions of dollars in newly acquired wealth. Meanwhile, hedge funds who had dumped billions of dollars into short positions on GME found themselves losing their entire position to the short squeeze. Morgan Stanley reported that it had seen some of the largest de-grossing actions in nearly 10 years, meaning hedge funds worked to cover their short positions and to sell stock in other companies in order to limit their

Opinion: Teachers Should be Included in the Early Phases of the COVID-19 Vaccine CALEB PARK (IV) So far, the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in New Jersey has been a complete mess. While some people are being denied their vaccines, others have been registered twice due to system errors. Distribution centers are running out of vaccines, hotlines are being overwhelmed, and one hospital in Flemington even gave out vaccines to highpaying donors. With the amount of resources that the American medical and pharmaceutical industries have, how did we get in such a perilous situation? Along with the chaos that comes with state-level organization, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has not handled the situation well, to say the least. Instead of focusing on the thousands of deaths, Murphy has prioritized marijuana legalization and clean energy. Although “100% clean energy by 2050” is a nice goal, there are more pressing issues that need to be handled. The current rollout strategy for the vaccine distribution uses the covid19.nj.gov website to direct people to different resources and register for the vaccine. Patients then receive doses at specified locations. The website and the distribution infrastructure have failed several times due to website issues, human error, and resource management. Unsurprisingly, many senior citizens have been unable to

navigate the small-text and cluttered website, with more than twenty links on the home page. The people eligible to receive the vaccine are separated into “phases,” with people who have more urgent work and health situations being placed into early phases. Phases 1A and 1B consist of healthcare workers and high-risk patients. But where are the teachers? Let’s make this clear: teachers are essential workers. They guide and teach kids despite the challenges of the COVID crisis. However, teachers are in a very unique position. They have arguably one of the most high-risk jobs out of all essential workers. Contrary to delivery drivers or agricultural workers, who might interact directly with only a few people every day, in-person teachers are constantly interacting with students and other faculty members. This argument is not to discredit the huge risks that other essential workers are making, but teachers definitely have a higher risk of exposure to COVID. Although the Murphy administration has plans to accommodate essential workers in the next phase of vaccine distribution (Phase 1C), there is no planned date or finalized method of action. Teachers and school faculty should be accommodated into the current phase of COVID vaccine rollout, or at least implemented into the distribution system as soon as possible.

Vaccinating teachers would not only allow their risky situation to be put to rest, but it would also allow schools to function more smoothly. First off, students would have less risk of exposure to COVID. Although students probably have more exposure to other students than their teachers, teachers are constantly shifting between classes and groups, making it easier for the virus to spread in-between classes. Teachers also interact with students individually, making it easier for them to be a liaison for the virus to spread. Although Pingry has done an excellent job at trying to prevent the spread of COVID as much as possible, it is not completely foolproof. Also, other schools are definitely not as fortunate when it comes to exposure prevention. Vaccinated teachers would also allow more teachers to be present at school, making for a much more productive school environment and making a step towards a fully in-person school once again. With all the effort put into developing and producing large amounts of the vaccine, the last step should be to successfully vaccinate the right people in order to finally flatten the curve. In such a high risk environment that is school, it is only logical that teachers and faculty should be vaccinated as soon as possible in order to stop exposure to students and their families.

volatility exposure as GME’s stock price took off. Other funds, who had bet big on the GME short, simply couldn’t cover their losses. Among the biggest of these losers would be Melvin Capital, a $12 billion hedge fund who had staked out a multibillion dollar short position on GME. In the wake of the short squeeze, Melvin found itself losing nearly 30% of its value on its failed GME short, necessitating a $2.75 billion buyout from Citadel and Point72 Asset Management in order to prevent the fund from going under. As of the time of writing, GME is now trading at roughly $58, thanks to a combination of brokerages restricting trading of GME, short ladders by hedge funds in order to

force a selloff, and a loss of interest from retail traders. Wall Street itself has been reminded that retail traders, ordinary people, are still very much a force on the market, and they too, have as much of a right and ability as do those working in multi-billion dollar hedge funds. This event, when a group of retail investors, redditors, millennials and Gen-Zers all came together and managed to upset Wall Street, will certainly go down as an event to remember, an event that will help to define the Millennial and Gen-Z generations.

The Direction of the Economy in 2021 VARED SHMULER (IV) COVID-19 has had a two-faced effect on the American economy. On one hand, many small businesses and franchises have had to temporarily or permanently close their doors to their clientele; on the other, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for an array of investment opportunities, particularly in securities and real estate. The U.S. stock market ended 2020 at an all-time high. Even the S&P 500 stock index, one of the most widely-watched gauges for the market, finished the year up more than 16 percent. Investors in the stock market have benefited significantly from the sudden surge, but homeowners and real estate investors have also benefited from the continuous low interest rates implemented by the Federal Reserve. With the stock market enduring initial volatility during the beginning of the pandemic and finishing up 2020 as a clear bull market, we are left to consider: What about 2021? Will the economy flourish and continue on this unforeseen path, or will a bubble burst, leading the U.S. to reach negative growth and further continue the state of uncertainty? Anticipating the future requires a deep understanding of the present state of our nation. The United States is still very much plagued by COVID-19. Even after undergoing ten months of a global crisis, we are

still at a great risk of a prolonged second wave which will cause the economy to suffer. This could mean a first quarter with negative output growth, which signifies a recession on the horizon. However, due to the recent development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the course of 2021 will likely look more positive. Most states will soon be able to provide the vaccine to the general public, following the decisions made by the governments of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Only after these events will the economy begin to recover. Here’s my prediction: With the rising number of cases and the vaccine only open to a select few, the GDP, which measures the total value of economic output in the country, will decrease. However, after more vaccines are distributed and more people are able to receive treatment, the economy will stabilize, but not completely revert to its prepandemic state. Even as regulations are relaxed, industries such as hospitality, dining, and cinema have potentially been changed forever. The redistribution of economic power towards other industries, like technology and automobiles, will lead to a “new normal” for the foreseeable future. In summary, due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases counterbalanced by the distribution of vaccines, we should expect an economic dip followed by a recovery.

Photo Credits: Andrew Wong (V)


THE PINGRY RECORD

CREATIVE FEBRUARY 19, 2021

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Chess Tournament! In the next few weeks leading up to Spring Break, the Upper School Student Government will run a schoolwide Chess Tournament open to students, faculty, and administrators. The first round will be “pool play,” in which each competitor will play five games. The top ten players thereafter will compete in a single elimination bracketstyle tournament, and the finals will be broadcasted with special

On Memes, Old and New In 2021, Generation Z (or Gen Z for short) consists of individuals between 8 and 24 years old. What separates our generation from all that have come before us is the fact that we have had the World Wide Web and social media at our fingertips from a young age. It’s why we use the internet more than any other generation. According to a fact sheet by Pew Research Center in 2019, 90 percent of younger Americans (i.e. Gen Z and Millennials) have used the internet. The Gen Z sense of humor, as shown and archived through memes, is also distinct in its absurdity and randomness. It is natural to ask: why are Gen Z memes so absurd, so “spicy” and “dank”? To be honest, I do not believe there is a clear reason. People have simply found that random things are funny. The punchline of the random meme is precisely that it just doesn’t make

Excerpts from LeBow’s First Round The LeBow Oratorical Competition has been a cornerstone tradition of the Upper School for over a decade. Unfortunately, its final round, which gets most of the attention, only has room for six speakers–which leaves many well-written speeches from the first round without an audience. As such, The Record has decided to reach out to speakers from the first round and give them the chance to publish excerpts from their speeches. Below are four excerpts we received:

HANSEN ZHANG (III)

sense; it’s ironically funny. It’s like you’re watching a basketball game where the players are all air balling their shots. It shouldn’t be entertaining, but it is. As with many things, there is a dark side to Gen Z humor. Memes regarding depression or uncertainty about the future are very prevalent on social media. If you browse a meme-related Reddit Community,

you’ll probably be able to find a depression-related meme on the first page. This differs significantly from our perception of a “normal” meme (the memes of the early 2010s) with an image and a short blurb of text that is supposed to invoke laughter. Memes have become a sort of coping mechanism for Gen Z, as we have resorted to joking about and creating memes about problems such as war, climate change, and depression. The major difference between old school and Gen Z memes is that Gen Z has found out they can use memes to joke about ‘bad’ things. I think all the other memes are still similar to old memes in that they express ideas through pictures and simple words that are usually meant to be humorous. Memes have evolved and even have real-world implications. This was shown in the recent events where Reddit users, or more specifically, users from a Reddit Community named “WallStreetBets,” pushed up the stock value of Gamestop by more than 1,000 percent in just a week by encouraging other Reddit users to buy the stock through—you guessed it—memes. Although memes may seem silly, they have shown countless times that they play a crucial role in disseminating information and popular culture in our day and age.

guest commentators for the whole community to watch. Regardless of skill level, this is a great opportunity to meet and play against different Pingry folks you may not know. The sign-up sheet is available on Pingry Today. Please email nbaynes2021@pingry.org or nbergam2021@pingry.org for scheduling questions, and slehal2023@pingry.org for technical and rules questions.

Margaret Zachary (V): But the point stands that a small moment I had during my time abroad is what had the biggest impact on me. A short conversation with a handful of Iraqi refugees completely changed my view of the world so that I could be more aware of the struggles outside of my immediate community. A lesson on humanity all encompassed in a five-minute conversation. So, take note of the small interactions you have with people, the quick conversations, they might end up making an impact on you more than you think. Live your five-minute moments. Herbert Toler (V): During the winter break, my family and I watched Toy Story 4. It was a refreshing opportunity because this family comedy series has been a staple of my youth. As the latest installment of the series began, I felt concerned that I might have aged out of the content that I had loved in boyhood. Quickly, I realized this to be untrue. Soon we were introduced to Duke Kaboom, a new character that reminded me of the value of building community. Throughout the film’s plot, I recognized how building community allowed for greater achievement, a sense of purpose, and a better understanding of each

other. While we may not live in a toy universe, make it your mission to care for those in our community, enabling us to reach our fullest potentials. Today, I am calling for you to utilize the best resources we have available to us, each other. Emma Drzala (V): Success is ultimately winning. Winning is whatever you want to define it as, but in the end, a winner is someone who has endured the hard moments, someone who has looked past the failures to reach their goals. Our teachers in High School always remind us that there is more to life than the gradebook, that High School is a small part in the puzzle that is life. Like most, I had–and still sometimes have–trouble accepting this notion. Losing occasionally can help us to realize this. Whether it be getting onto a team or getting admitted into college, everything we do seems to be for an end goal. My losses have shown me what I find most important in life, and I was finally motivated to succeed for myself, not for my end goal. Zala Bhan (IV): As someone who learned early on in life that communities don’t thrive if some are left behind, I find it unconscionable that some Americans have to choose between food, medicine, and the internet for their children to learn. [...] Millions of kids, I remind you, of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, primarily black and brown, are without proper access to basic schooling [during this time], and this is not a headline? [...] We cannot live with this inequity, sitting safely guarded behind our plexiglass shields, while the academic pandemic throws some of our generation behind.

Photo Credits (All): Google Images


THE PINGRY RECORD

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COLUMNS FEBRUARY 19, 2021

Pros and Cons of Pandemic Fashion GRACE FERNICOLA (III) Let me take you to a simpler time: your alarm clock rings, you drag yourself out of bed, and the daily ritual of getting dressed commences. Students might have designed their outfit for that day around an event at Pingry, plans after school, or even something as fickle as their mood that particular morning. But now, after almost a year of living with COVID-19, morning routines have dwindled down to throwing a sweatshirt over a pajama top, sliding our feet into the fluffy slippers next to the bed, and, if there is time, a quick comb through the hair—comfort we never could have imagined in 2019. This style is not just limited to Pingry students. Throughout the entire nation, there has been a growing trend towards more comfortable, casual clothes that has persisted for decades. Pre-pandemic sales of “leisure wear” had already been increasing due to people of all ages becoming more interested in comfortable workout clothes, rather than stuffy business clothes. So with the start of the pandemic, sales of “leisure wear” at companies like Lululemon and Nike have skyrocketed. Fashion forecasters are now saying that comfortable clothes may be here to stay post-pandemic, so don’t fret—most likely, we won’t have to throw our sweats to the backs of our closets as the world slowly returns

to normal. Pingry may even make the current “relaxed” dress code permanent, so we can all enjoy our day in pajama pants and hoodies for school years to come. Great news, right? Well, maybe not. Despite the benefits of our current quick and low-maintenance dress routines, wearing sweats all day might have some unforeseen negative consequences. Psychologist Carolyn Mair stresses that wearing certain clothes can affect people’s moods and confidence. Mair states that “clothing is fundamental in how we are perceived. In turn, this affects our sense of self-worth and ultimately, how we see ourselves compared with others, our selfesteem.” A prime example of this is the effect of wearing baggy clothes. Baggy clothes are often associated with sadness or depression, and dressing the same way every day for months on end can make you feel bored and unmotivated. By continuously making the same dreary, drab clothing choices, the days become indistinguishable, especially in the already blurred time of remote learning. As we start to move forward this year, I would suggest getting out of bed and dressing in something different than what you wore the day before, as even doing something this small and simple can actually help break the monotonous routine

of our days, even going so far as to make us feel more put together and productive. Psychologist De’Von Patterson says, “Some people may have an easier time being productive if they recreate the cues associated with their productivity. If they’re getting dressed, that puts them in the mindset to work or study.” Brightly colored clothes or a prepandemic outfit choice once in a while might lift our moods and focus us as we sit down and prepare ourselves for online classes. How we dress is a form of self-expression, and it is a way to present ourselves to the world in our own unique way.

The James Harden Trade CAYDEN BARRISON (IV) and VARED SHMULER (IV) On January 13, the NBA community was shocked by one of the most remarkable trades in recent basketball history. The disgruntled James Harden was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets in a historic four-team trade. The Houston Rockets received four first-round picks, four pick swaps, Victor Oladipo, and two role players. The Indiana Pacers received the solid 26-year-old Caris Levert and a second-round selection. The Cleveland Cavaliers were able to obtain the fourth year center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince. However, this trade’s main focus was the 8x All-Star, 3x Scoring Champion,

and former MVP James Harden. He reunites with former teammate and MVP Kevin Durant and 6x All-Star Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn to possibly create one of the best NBA trios in basketball history. For a while, it had become apparent that James Harden was not satisfied with the Houston Rockets after years of playoff disappointment. In a recent attempt to satisfy the superstar, the Rockets’ General Manager traded for the point guard and former All-Star, John Wall, but it was to no avail. Harden went as far as failing to attend practice and continuously criticizing the rest of the team for the Rockets’ misfortune. He made it blatantly apparent that he had no intentions of continuing his career with the Houston organization. Nets general

manager Sean Marks ultimately made the trade happen despite the massive haul in talent and draft capital required. While this trade seems excellent on paper, it has caused problems that the Nets will have to deal with soon. With their newly acquired player, the Nets will now have three balldominant superstars in Brooklyn, which will end up granting fewer shots to each player. Having come from an offense built entirely around him for over eight years, Harden will now have to transition into a more balanced offense, which leaves the NBA followers to ask: will the three superstars be able to adapt to their new positions? The uncertainty around this question will heavily depend on Kyrie Irving, the point guard of the Brooklyn Nets. Irving is known for creating messy situations when he does not get his way, which is reflected in his short stint with the Boston Celtics. Not only is he known for creating controversy, but Irving reportedly does not have a great relationship with the head coach, Steve Nash, and often makes odd comments and controversial decisions off the court. Irving’s rash choices pose a huge problem that needs to be addressed for the Nets to make a championship run this season. Another primary concern for the team is defense. The Nets, while being offensively stacked, may have a tough time keeping opposing teams from scoring at will. The Nets may have to also address this to solidify their playoff contention. So, how will this trade affect the Nets franchise as well as the rest of

Many people think of clothing as an important part of their individuality, especially with there being multiple style variations in society today. “We live in a very visual world,” says Susan Swimmer, Creative Director of Evie Marques jewelry and a former fashion editor and TV commentator. “Clothes are your instant messaging system. They reflect how you feel and how you project that to the world.” The common leisure-wear outfits we now see so often in our school halls have become an unofficial uniform, leaving little room for individuality. Some students may be missing the opportunity for the

creativity that we had each morning before the pandemic. The loss of the opportunity to control the way we present ourselves to others at a time when we cannot control so much of what is happening in the world around us can cause more stress and sadness, whether we realize it or not. So, when you wake up tomorrow morning, do not be afraid to switch up your clothing choices for the day. Small steps like these might be the first steps in returning to the normalcy that we all crave, even behind your mask and plexiglass.

the NBA? Although the Nets acquired James Harden, they will have difficulties adding some younger talent to their roster in years to come. By trading away several picks and Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen, the Nets relinquished an abundance of young talent. With their starting lineup at an average age of about 30, the Nets will struggle to play on par with the younger generation of basketball players in the coming years.

Not only will the team face problems within their team, but they will also have other teams such as the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers standing in their path to the NBA Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference could also thwart Brooklyn’s chance for their first championship in over 40 years. For now, NBA fans can only sit back and watch greatness unfold.

Vol. CXLVI, No. III

Editors-in-Chief Noah Bergam Meghan Durkin Senior Assistant Editor Eva Schiller Assistant Editors Aneesh Karuppur Brooke Pan Brian Li Copy Editors Dean Koenig Emma Drzala Sarah Kloss Emily Shen Mirika Jambudi Keira Chen

Website Editor Andrew Wong Photography Editor Rhea Kapur Cartoon Editor Monica Chan Senior Layout Editor Justin Li Layout Editors Kyra Li Mirika Jambudi Faculty Advisors Dr. Megan Jones Mrs. Meghan Finegan

Photo Credits (Left to Right): Google Images, Monica Chan (VI)


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Mental Health: An Overlooked Impact of COVID-19 EMILY SHEN (V) March 6th, 2020: the last day that Pingry students, faculty, and staff were on campus before the implementation of masks and social distancing measures, and the last day of school as we knew it. As students shared their plans for spring break and discussed the possibility of the break being extended, no one could have predicted that COVID-19 would affect their lives as much as it did. The pandemic has disrupted the globe both economically and socially, drastically altering how people interact and how corporations operate. We watched as an event found more often in history textbooks than real life unfolded right before our eyes. Millions of Americans have been infected with COVID-19 since last spring, and as of January 24th, more than 417,000 people have died in the U.S alone. The pandemic’s social and economic consequences—such as the loss of precious lives, the spiking unemployment rate, and necessary adjustments and sacrifices made to stop the virus’s spread—continue to heavily impact every individual and every family. Emotional consequences, therefore, tend to seem trivial in comparison and are often overlooked. During the pandemic, many people with mental illnesses have been significantly affected and require more support. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, before COVID-19, nearly one in every five U.S. adults reported having a mental illness, with eleven million of those adults having or previously having a serious mental

illness that impaired their life in some way. In these unprecedented times, the number of those needing mental health services has only increased. As a result of the stress induced by the pandemic, more than one in three adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic, compared to the one in ten reported in 2019 prior to COVID-19. Substance abuse has also become a bigger problem during the pandemic, and without external interference, the problem has only been exacerbated over time.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.’s mental health care system was failing to meet people’s needs, especially for people of color and of marginalized gender identities. Systematically oppressed people are arguably more in need of mental health services as they statistically face disproportionately higher rates of poverty, criminalization, employment discrimination, and homelessness. As the U.S. and many other countries reallocated funding to focus on doing damage control for the pandemic itself, the issue of already-insufficient funding for mental health services

Karuppur Talks 2021 Tech ANEESH KARUPPUR (VI) Happy New Year! Let’s dive into the latest tech news for 2021. First, an update from the Pingry Student Technology Committee! In the New Year, STC has gotten off to a strong start with its various project teams. The Code Team, in which students program solutions to existing Pingry issues, is running a weekly workshop on different fundamental topics. Moreover, the Apple Certified Mac Technician (ACMT) training group has started their comprehensive regimen. Once the ACMTs pass their final exams from Apple, they will be able to diagnose and repair Apple computers owned by the School and members of the School community. STC team meetings have lately been taken up with weekly presentations from different project groups, including the 3D Printing Team, the Communications Team, and the Tech Ed Team. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, STC Helpdesk is and has been open for some time now! Now that we have a regular schedule of in-person school, the friendly and qualified STC Team Members who staff each flex and CP Helpdesk shift are here to assist you with any of your tech needs. Whether it’s a new application, like Zoom, or an old “friend” like the printer or Google Docs, STC Helpdesk in the Tech Office is the place to go to receive quick tips and pointers. Be sure to stop by if you need anything! From January 11 to 14, the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was in full swing. Traditionally an in-person fair-style event, CES pivoted to a fully virtual setup this year to accommodate for the pandemic. LG hinted at the impending launch of their rollable phone. Unlike folding phones (which are on the market if you’re willing to pay the princely price tags), LG’s device

only worsened. According to the World Health Organization, over 60% of countries worldwide reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people. Some of the most notable groups that experienced disruptions include children and adolescents (reported at 72%), older adults (reported at 70%), and women requiring antenatal or postnatal services (reported at 61%). Although WHO has recommended that countries increase their funding to cover mental health services, the cost of resolving other pandemic-related medical issues cannot

Superbad Review: Can’t Help but “McLove” it EMMA DRZALA (V)

would not suffer from the durability and practical difficulties of opening and closing a massive phone like a book. Instead, according to patent information, it could simply extend one edge of the device and unfurl a wider display in the process. As usual, several PC makers including HP and Acer revealed new updates to their laptop lineups. Finally there were a few one-off products, like the tech-enabled N95 masks from gaming hardware-maker Razer. These clear masks feature active ventilation and LED lights, and can sanitize themselves. Adding on to products that nobody asked for but we’ll take since they exist now, Cadillac prophesied about their electric air taxi drone/car mashup, Samsung invented a robot butler, and the Infinity Game Table converted classic boardgames into a tabletop touchscreen. Finally, let’s turn to the issue of social media. There has been renewed scrutiny into social media networks as a result of misinformation and plans for violence in recent months. Platforms have been banning and suspending the

accounts of individuals with dangerous or objectionable content. In an age where seemingly everything happens on social media, lawmakers have been grappling with whether privatelyowned social media platforms can be defined as public fora with free speech protections. Furthermore, laws that provide digital platforms with immunity from hosted content, such as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, have come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, print media publications are not afforded those same protections. More important than the individual details is the glaring need for tech literacy in American society and policy. Congressional lawmakers have oftentimes demonstrated a woefully limited understanding of the internet and its platforms, so it’s important that the public involvement of the next generation of Americans is well-informed. Thanks for dropping by on this Tech Column! Hopefully the weather will be a tad warmer when we return in the next issue.

be neglected. National leaders are in a challenging position as they try to balance the effects of the pandemic as a whole. On a positive note, national and international health organizations recognize the growing significance of people’s mental and emotional health and are taking actions to ensure that individuals can take care of themselves during this time of uncertainty. For example, the Centers for Disease Control has shared information and recommendations regarding stress coping mechanisms on their online resources page. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has also provided resources to address the pressing issue of mental and emotional wellbeing during the pandemic. More accessible mental health care via telemedicine and teletherapy— where individuals can seek help from professionals over the phone or remotely—alleviates the stress caused by social isolation and provides patients with hope for a better tomorrow. Members of the Pingry community have been working together over the past year and supporting each other through difficult times. If you are struggling with your emotional and mental health, please seek help from your family, friends, or a trusted adult. Visit “Wellness and Support” on the Pingry website where you can find counselors and resources to address your needs. We are here for each other, and nothing is more important than staying safe and connected!

With limited access to movie theatres over the past year, one must rely on the one thing nothing can seem to beat: streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, and HBOMax have all gained immense popularity this year; so, maybe it’s a sign to go back and rewatch an old classic. My movie of choice: Superbad. Directed by Greg Mottola and written by comedic geniuses Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, Superbad is a raunchy comedy that keeps you laughing for 1 hour and 59 minutes. The movie follows two inseparable best friends, Seth and Evan, who are hoping to get in one last “hurrah” before the conclusion of their senior year. The two friends, however, are only to be considered “super” unpopular. With two weeks to go in high school, the odd pairing, along with their sidekick Fogell, are finally invited to a high school party by the prettiest and most popular girl in school­—but there is a catch. They must find a way to supply alcohol for the party. The three boys hope to impress

the girls and eventually become their “headaches” of boyfriends. Fogell attains a fake ID under the name “McLovin,” but his attempt to buy alcohol quickly goes south. He becomes buddies with two lackluster cops and engages in some not-so-legal activities with them. Meanwhile, Seth and Evan are still trying to find ways to procure alcohol before the party begins. Superbad captures the awkwardness of the high school experience and dives deep into Seth and Evan’s comedic friendship. It is not just a movie that lands some random jokes, but the whole concept behind this masterpiece is where all the comedy lies. With stars like Jonah Hill (Seth), Michael Cera (Evan), Bill Hader (Officer Slater), Seth Rogan (Officer Michael), and Christopher Mintz (Fogell), a Rotten Tomatoes score of 88%, and a spot on Empire’s 500 best movies of all time, Superbad is not a movie you will want to miss. The crude and inappropriate jokes make this movie what it is, and I must say that Superbad was nothing less than comedic perfection.

Photo Credits (Left to Right): Google Images, Google Images, Mario Zucca from the ringer.com


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On Kerouac and Songs for the Road RHEA KAPUR (VI) I recently finished reading the book On the Road by Jack Kerouac. You might have heard of it—the novel is an American classic, a roman à clef, an autobiographical chronicle of Kerouac’s (in the text, Sal Paradise’s) adventures

hitchhiking across the country with his writerly friends: Neal Cassady (the infamous Dean Moriarty), Allen Ginsburg (Carlo Marx), and William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee), to name a few. Rife with casual sex, drugs, alcohol, poetry, jazz, and endless exploration, On the Road paints a comprehensive portrait of

1950s America, and it has come to define the Beat Generation: postwar nonconformists, disillusioned bohemians… those who championed spontaneity, psychedelics, and the journey, not the destination. On the Road is an anthem, the Beatnik ode to freedom, to wanderlust, to the quest for “it,” whatever “it” is—authenticity, purpose, the American ideal. The novel’s influence on literature and writing has been widely studied, but I’d like to explore how On the Road has shaped music and individual musicians as well as introduce a playlist that, to me, matches the novel’s message. There’s no better place to start than the 10,000 Maniacs classic, “Hey Jack Kerouac.” Natalie Merchant, the band’s lead singer and main songwriter, penned the folksy tune, infusing her own opinions and frustrations with Kerouac and other Beatniks—like Ginsburg and Burroughs—into her work. She sings directly to Kerouac, who is at once the “brightest star” (after On the Road caught fire) and broken “little boy lost in our world that hated;” she recognizes the “tear-stained shock of the world” that hit when he “[went] away without saying goodbye.” Perhaps this line is a reference to Kerouac’s early death (caused by his excessive drinking), but I think it also speaks to the departure of the greater Beat Generation. Their call to pack and drive—to hit the road and see where it travels, to stand by the emptiness of the harsh red horizon they chased—faded almost entirely as the counterculture and civil rights movements of the 1960s and ‘70s took root. And what about where it stands now, in the progressive, fractured 2021? The wanderlust is relatable, and the lifestyle alluring, as Merchant sings, but in today’s context, On the Road reads like an anachronism—a privileged, misogynistic, old boy’s travelogue that offers no place of worth for women and people of color.

Nevertheless, many other artists revered Kerouac and the Beat Generation, or were at least considerably influenced by their message at its prime. There’s John Lennon (“Beatles” derives from “Beat!”), a huge fan of the writings of both Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg. There’s Bob Dylan, the regular Dean Moriarty himself! On the Road “blew his mind… and changed his life,” an influence particularly clear in Dylan’s songs “On the Road Again” and “Desolation Row” (inspired by another Kerouac work, Desolation Angels, along with Allen Ginsburg’s city poetry). There’s Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead… and the list goes on. Kerouac’s anthem of freedom, transcendance, and exploration lends beautifully to music, an art that itself strains to be free, to embody being free, to provide subconscious escape. Aspects of his subject matter may now read as out of touch, but it is because of this paralleled identity that Kerouac’s influence will always

remain in tune. I leave you with a playlist of my own, entitled “There was nowhere to go but everywhere.” The title is derived from one of my favorite passages in On the Road: “...because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars, generally the Western stars.” I’ve filled it with all of the songs and artists mentioned above, along with others that embody Kerouac’s resigned, inexplicably consuming wanderlust. You’ll hear the AC/DC classic, “Highway to Hell”; Train’s “Drive By” and “California 37;” “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers Band; Green Day’s “Stray Heart;” and many more. It’s a playlist for the open road–Kerouac’s road, yes, but also the Beatnik road, my road, and maybe even yours, too. Give it a listen, and keep faith; music will take you everywhere.

“Facts Don’t Lie”: FYI Sci’s Guide to Checking Your Sources KRISTIN OSIKA (V) In almost every aspect of our lives, data plays a central role in decision-making. Categorical rankings determine our college lists, polls sway our political leanings, and the latest COVID-19 case statistics determine whether or not we deem it safe to venture outside of the house. With modern technology facilitating the collection and communication of data, facts are at our fingertips: social media, news networks, and search engines provide easy, efficient access to necessary information, and, as a result, we have the opportunity to learn and know more about the world and each other than ever before. While this superabundance of data has innumerable benefits, it can also blind us from the truth. In favor of convenience, we sometimes fail to question the integrity of the source we gather our information from. Accordingly, with the rise of our data-focused culture, there has been an increase in misinformation, which, given the ongoing pandemic, is arguably the most topical in science. Because authentic scientific research papers can be exceedingly difficult for the average person to comprehend, we rely almost solely on secondary sources for coherent interpretations, especially for information about

COVID-19. Think about the most recent statistic you’ve heard about the pandemic. Do you know the source of that statistic? Chances are, you heard it on the news, read it in an infographic on social media, or heard it from a murmur in the hallways. These are the places almost all of us receive our information. When we are inundated with graphs, tables, percentages, comparisons, and daunting figures, we turn to the most coherent, visually-appealing interpretation, in order to make sense of the “information overload.” It’s only natural. Unfortunately, the data presented to us may not always be accurate; both the creator and consumer of research-based sources can perpetuate misinformation. In a time of widespread uncertainty and unease, the validated, scientific truth can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, and creators are aware of this. Even unconsciously, some creators on platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook, might misrepresent data to conform to a specific political agenda, incite or quell fears about current events, or promote or degrade a product or lifestyle. It is surprisingly easy to portray accurate, scientific data out of context and thus push forward an idea that may not be based in fact.

Given the increasing amount of misinformation circulating in the media, how do we know what to believe? To answer this question, we need to return to science. When viewed with a critical eye, authentic research provides an infallible information source. While primary sources provide the most direct information, specific secondary sources can also be helpful and significantly more efficient to read. Several indicators can determine how reliable a secondary source is: Source Citations. The inclusion of proper citations is critical to a secondary source’s integrity, as long as the references accurately support the ideas espoused in the source’s body. Author credentials. Ask yourself: who is the person communicating this information? Do they have expertise? Are they educated on the subject matter? Authors who have spent significant time researching and studying a topic are much more likely to convey accurate information to the reader than those without such expertise, who may instead be providing an opinionated narrative. Mode of publication. Wellestablished journals, news networks, and websites are more likely to be reliable than random blog sites or

social media posts; often, the former have thorough review processes that vet articles for clarity and accuracy before releasing them to the public. Bias, specific agendas, and convenience saturate our media and can impede our understanding of the truth; however, not all publications perpetuate misinformation. Like FYI Sci, several evidence-based information sources can provide you

with current, accurate, and easyto-understand reviews of primary literature, as long as they meet each of the indicators above. Though our world may be apt for the spread of misinformation, if we continuously question our sources and maintain a healthy degree of skepticism, we can discern fact from fallacy to arrive at the truth.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Google Images, Kristin Osika


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Drama IV Assembly Breaks Barriers

Word in the Halls

What is the best streaming service?

ASHLEIGH PROVOOST (V)

Franklin Zhu (V) “Netflix because it has good k-dramas.”

Brooke Pan (VI) “HBO Max because it’s on the rise, and they have really good original shows. I used to like Netflix but it’s declining”

Olivia Telemaque (V) “Netflix because I don’t watch cable TV anymore, and it doesn’t have any commercials.”

Sanjana Biswas (VI) “Disney Plus because it’s really nostalgic, and I can rewatch the movies and tv shows that I used to like.”

Alivia Clark (V) “Netflix because I like it”.

This year’s drama students have had to face an unparalleled level of difficulties in regards to their craft. With masks, remote classes, and social distancing, drama classes have been completely revamped to accommodate new health guidelines. Despite the adversity, the enthusiasm of the Drama Department still remains strong–– especially that of senior actors. They faced their challenges with the utmost rigor, putting on a performance at the December 9 Drama IV Assembly that didn’t disappoint. Every year, in designing the assembly, the group of seniors in the Drama IV class choose headlines that address events occuring in society. The students then write, direct, and act in scenes based upon the headlines they have chosen. What made this year so different, though, was the emphasis on the tumultuousness of the latter half of 2020. “We were aware going in that this, historically, is a production that students use to talk about social issues,” Cal Mahoney (VI) said. “We thought that it would be strange not to bring up everything that was going on.” The ultimate goal of the assembly was to start conversation. “We needed to bring attention to the fact that people ignore or repress their reactions to hard situations,” Mahoney continued. “We wanted to bring attention to these current situations through the usage of both humor and scenes with strong themes in hopes to start that conversation.” “The community needs conversation,” notes Ms. Stephanie Romankow, the Drama IV teacher. “With conversation, we continue to learn and grow together. Student perspectives and voices are the most powerful in this community, and we wanted to give the students the ability to share that voice.” The Drama IV class also collaborated with Ms. Shelley Hartz, Director of Community and Civic Engagement, to delve more into the curriculum and history of the scenes prior to their development. “The students weren’t

making up stories,” Ms. Hartz said. “They were using stories that actually happened; the inequities, unintentional biases, and microaggressions that were occurring concurrently really resonated with them. This is why the scenes carried such a strong tone.” Naturally, the usual collaborative process that goes into the presentation of this assembly proved to be much more difficult this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. “This has not been an easy feat,” Ms. Romankow said. “Theater is all about connection, and this year there are multiple barriers in terms of masks and social distancing. The seniors, though, were able to take these obstacles in stride and really succeed.” This group of seniors is quite a remarkable and diverse one. Having been together for four years, the students in the class have built a community that supports one another. The closeness they share makes the collaboration needed for this assembly all the more meaningful. “The collaborative part of it was super important, especially because of our comfortable class dynamic,” Mahoney said. “We’re not afraid to get deep.” The Drama IV Assembly most certainly achieved the goal that the students had hoped for. “It was weird as an actor to not know how you were perceived. It was hard to tell if the performance was successful, but [the class] decided that it had to be … People were listening and they confronted these current issues.” Mahoney also spoke to the uniqueness of this specific performance: “We challenged people’s perceptions of theater. It was a good decision to do something that the audience had trouble to watch. I think that a lot of these scenes made people uncomfortable; discrimination was right in front of you, and you had to watch it happen. And that was the point.” Ms. Romankow added, “Kids did not know how to react to the ending of the assembly. They needed to take pause, and that’s important for us to do. We’re not providing the answers to these issues; we’re just sharing our perspective.”

Dr. Glaude Reflects on Martin Luther King Jr. ANJOLA OLAWOYE (IV) Over 700 members of the Pingry community tuned into the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly virtually. Throughout the years, this esteemed Pingry tradition has hosted various speakers, performances, and even skits to honor King’s legacy. A couple of years ago, Sarah Collins

Rudolph, a survivor of the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, shared her distinctive experience during an MLK assembly. This year, we had the privilege of hearing reflections and perspectives on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy, presented by Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. Dr. Glaude Jr. is a James S. McDonnell Distinguished University

Professor and the Department Chair of African American Studies at Princeton University. He has been featured in numerous media outlets, including NBC’s Meet the Press, MSNBC, and CNN. Dr. Glaude earned his Ph.D. at Princeton University and currently holds degrees in African-American studies and religion. At the beginning of the virtual

assembly, the members of Pingry’s Afrofuturism HIRT (Humanities Independent Research Team) introduced themselves and Dr. Glaude. Throughout his reflections, Dr. Glaude often quoted King and James Baldwin, a civil-rights era African American novelist. He addressed numerous questions regarding our current political climate, including the following: how would MLK react to the events that plague our country today, and is America ready for a true multi-ethnic and racial democracy that would resonate with MLK’s legacy? Furthermore, Dr. Glaude compared the US Capitol riots in D.C on January 6th to Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, particularly emphasizing police responsiveness in both situations. More importantly, he explained the division of our country and the events that perpetuated it. The most significant phrase Dr. Glaude cited from Dr. King was “equality is a loose expression for improvement.” While King believed that Americans viewed racial harmony differently, he still strived for a peaceful coexistence among the races. In the words of Dr. Glaude, “Dr. King’s legacy has been reduced to a four-word sentence: ‘I have a dream.’” Towards the end of the assembly,

Dr. Glaude offered a dual challenge to both America and Pingry by posing the following question: what kind of school does Pingry want to be? Beyond that, what are the expectations of America? He also encouraged Pingry students to live up to the school’s values, especially those stated in the Honor Code. Overall, students learned from and enjoyed the assembly, as evidenced by the interactive Q&A session. Students shared a plethora of thoughts on Dr. Glaude’s words. For example, Dhruv Nagarajan (II) asked, “What sparked Dr. Glaude’s activism for social justice and wanting to make a change?” Student Body President, Nolan Baynes (VI), stated that this was one of the most important assemblies we have had at Pingry. Other students from various grade levels also reflected on their individual experiences and takeaways from Dr. Glaude’s speech. The Pingry community also honored Dr. King in other ways, especially through community service. On MLK Day, Pingry students, parents, and faculty members engaged in the annual “MLK Day of Service,” albeit virtually, to fulfill Dr. King and his everlasting legacy. The Pingry community thanks Dr. Glaude for his impactful speech.

Photo Credits (Left to Right): Assistant Editors, Pingry Communications


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An Inside Look at LeBow Finalists’ Speeches EMMA DRZALA (V) (Continued from pg. 1) media. She initially believed that the exponents of such ideologies were only harming themselves. However, she soon realized that her speech seemed both prescient and naïve, and was enlightened on how misinformation is able to prevail so easily today. Campbell confronted the obvious hypocrisy of her argument wondering, “How could I, someone who was too nervous to speak in class, let alone share my political beliefs, encourage others to participate in political discussions?” Her speech became an exercise in introspection, designed to empower both herself and her peers. The next finalist is Caleb Park (IV), with “My Dark, Beautiful, Twisted Isolation.” Park’s speech analyzes isolation during quarantine; he believes that sometimes, isolation can lead to a masterpiece, citing both Kanye West and Ludwig van Beethoven as examples of this theory. He mentions that although on a surface level, isolation appears to be a pain to us, but it actually gave us an opportunity to explore ourselves and to make time for personal growth and realization. Park also talks about his first encounter with isolation and that is where his inspiration for his speech came about. His speech is captivating in that everyone can think back to their quarantine experience and wonder if a “masterpiece” came from it. Milenka Men’s (IV) “We’ve Kept the Mountains and Lost the Grass” is a speech about social interaction during COVID-19, and how quarantine has affected our social psyche as a

community. She describes her speech as something that has “evolved into a discussion of how the structure of our social lives has been altered as a whole.” Her inspiration behind the speech came from her own personal experience with quarantine; when quarantine began, Men initially enjoyed the break and the time it gave to her. She was able to explore herself, which allowed her to realize her introverted nature. Similar to Caleb Park, Milenka takes on the difficult subject of quarantine and what

it meant to her. Next is Sophia Lewis (V) with “Self Care [sic] Isn’t Caring for Me Anymore.” Lewis’s speech discusses her frustration with self-care. She felt that recently, self-care has dwindled down to becoming superficial, which she believes is unacceptable. In her speech, she discusses self-care and what it means to her, as well as how it has come to affect her. The final speech is “The Velocity of Fear.” Written by Izzy Billups (V),

Winter Sports Return! HANSEN ZHANG (III) After two weeks of Winter Break, a remote-learning week, a week-long delay in school activities, and plenty of asynchronous workouts, Pingry athletes are ready to return to the fields, courts, mats, and slopes. The Squash, Basketball, Ski, Hockey, and Fencing teams have all resumed practice and played their first games. Swimming and Winter Track began practice on February 1st, and Wrestling starts on March 1st. All sports, regardless of start time, have a competitive season of approximately one month long. Although Winter sports are back, they do bring a great deal of uncertainty. Ms. Carter Abbott, the Director of Athletics and Community Wellness, said, “Sports are operating from week to week as we’re evaluating the situation based on our testing, the state’s testing, and the different counties that we play sports in.” So then, how would athletics operate if there was an influx of COVID cases, causing Pingry to shut down for a long period of time? Well, the situation is pretty complicated: athletics can either resume after school as they did in

early November of 2020, or they can be completely canceled due to a high case count, which happened during the second remote week after Winter Break. The main reason why Fall sports were able to resume when Pingry went remote was that they were all outdoor sports. On the other hand, all Winter sports are indoors (with the exception of Winter Track). According to the CDC’s Youth Sports resource page, “indoor activities pose more risk than outdoor activities.” In addition to considering the possible effect that a shutdown may have on athletics, it’s important to consider whether sports are important enough to be continued during the pandemic. A similar question was the subject of a Word in the Halls in the last issue of the Record. When asked again, JP Salvatore (IV) remained adamant on his opinion that sports should be resumed. He explained, “My opinion on this really hasn’t changed much. I will continue to say sports are essential to keep kids active, to give opportunities to kids dependent on their sport, and to maintain school spirit. I understand indoor sports are more of a concern, but without an audience the risk is limited.” But, some

would argue against that, especially after COVID cases surged after the new year. In a telephone survey of 1,065 adults by NPR between December 1st and December 6th of 2020, thirty-six percent of those surveyed thought indoor sports should continue, fiftyeight percent thought indoor sports shouldn’t continue, and the final five percent were unsure. For many, the pros of having sports outways the cons of potentially contracting COVID. According to a Harvard Health article, exercise can “boost memory and thinking indirectly by improving mood and sleep, and by reducing stress and anxiety.” Sports may be even more crucial for remote students, as it could help with “Zoom fatigue”: the exhaustion that occurs after staring at a computer screen for long periods of time. In summary, although there is no doubt that sports are beneficial for students, one must still consider their possible consequences. For the time being, however, it is important that athletes wear masks whenever possible, and look forward to a future where people can once again play sports without pandemic-era concerns.

the speech is centered around the magnitude of fear in society today. Billups discusses how fear is what leads to the destruction of embracing personal thoughts and ideals. She aims to communicate that we should not fear being different, but rather embrace the idea of breaking out of the box that society has set up for us. Finally, she notes that no two people are the same, so in turn, we as a community should not conform to the pressures of society. Billups drew inspiration from a mere

conversation with her sister, proving that universal truths can come to us at any moment. After realizing that both she and her sister have been making decisions based on how they would be perceived in society, Izzy decided to write a speech to combat the mentality of fear controlling so many people, thereby naming it “The Velocity of Fear.” The competition will be held live on February 26. Good luck to all six finalists!

COVID-19, One Year Later

SOPHIA LEWIS (V) (Continued from pg. 1) school was and wondering where exactly the mute button on Google Meet was. On the last day of school, instead of feeling triumph, I felt tired. Instead of going to the beach, seeing friends at camp, or travelling with our families over the summer, we had only one option: online programs, and the furthest traveling we did was to the kitchen. After what seemed like a never-ending summer, Pingry announced that they would be inviting students back to school in person, and I was thrilled. Although optimistic about my first day back in September, I remember the day as bleak, as everything I’d liked about school had been eliminated. After the conclusion of the day, I had heard the phrase “new normal” so much, I could’ve screamed. Lunch, which was once an enjoyable time for eating and socializing, was now a challenge, as communicating with friends through the plexiglass barriers proved to be an impossible task. The worst of it all, however, was that I didn’t truly mentalize being a junior, as I had never gotten a proper conclusion of sophomore year. After looking back at the year, the

prevailing question is this: where are we now, one year later? We arrive at school in masks, attend class with plexiglass barriers, and socialize with social distancing. Most contact sports and extracurriculars have been delayed or canceled, but others activities move forward, with restrictions, of course. All activities, in and out of school, have had complete structural changes. Eating at restaurants or going to see movies with friends are activities of the past. Concerts, baseball games, or just about anything with a large crowd involved are nothing more than a mere memory; just the sight of a large crowd is enough to scare people back into their homes. Despite the challenges, the pandemic is in a different spot now than it was one year ago. We now have two vaccines that have been approved and have begun being administered to the public. In addition, after a year, there’s developed a normalcy in mask-wearing. While it can be argued that any “silver lining” pointed out about COVID-19 at this time is not very promising, I do believe that there have been some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities during this pandemic era. So, with our masks on, let’s look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Emily Shen (V), Monica Chan (VI), The New York Times


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