February 2017

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Are we becoming desensitized to the world around us?


DESENSITIZATION Exploring what causes desensitization and what can be done to address it



Integrity violations lead to school discussion



Reflection on dates gone wrong

FEB. 9, 2017 || VOL 2 ISSUE 5 || www.tjtoday.org







TJSD Conference Championships


Eighth Period at Risk

6 12


16 17 18

Game Theory Drinking Coffee Before Naps A-List Project


Effect of New Gym Opening


Girls in Sports

24 26

EDITORIAL Merits of Desensitization


Jefferson’s Cheating Culture SCI AND TECH




28 31

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review


Clara Fontaine and Daniel Haseler












ERINN HARRIS tjTODAY is the official newsmagazine of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology published by the journalism staff. The staff is deeply committed to a code of journalistic ethics that demands the exercise of accuracy, good judgment and impartiality. The content of tjTODAY is determined by the editorial board. Unsigned editorials reflect the majority opinion of the staff of tjTODAY, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.



Posing with gavels, senior Bailey Knight and junior Arte their Best Delegate wins at ILMUNC. Photo courtesy of

After receiving the first student Colonial Award, senior S poses with Principal Evan Glazer, Assistant Principal Pa senior Tim Cho, and junior Tamun Hanjra. Photo courte Jefferson HS Twitter.

Coach Mark Gray-Mendes celebrates winning his 50th g head coach with a sweet finish.

NEWS Lucas Bronstein || STAFF WRITER

d junior Artemis Veizi celebrate courtesy of Amritha Justin.

BACKSTORY The Ivy League Model United Nations Conference (ILMUNC), held at the University of Pennsylvania from January 26-29, hosted delegates from around the world to represent countries of their choice in teams of two. TJ students Bailey Knight and Artemis Veizi won the Best Delegate award. tjTODAY interviewed Knight.


BACKSTORY Senior Sean Tran received Jefferson’s first student Colonial Award on Jan. 25. According to the nomination form, the award recognizes “TJ students, staff and faculty that illustrate tremendous care to support student success or well-being in our community, or demonstrating high levels of integrity as exemplary role models.”

ward, senior Sean Tran Principal Pam Gravitte, Photo courtesy of Thomas

ng his 50th game as

WHY DID YOU GO TO ILMUNC? It’s a lot of fun because it’s one of the championship MUN conferences and on the east coast. There are a lot of schools coming, both internationally and nationally, so it’s a really great opportunity to meet other people who do MUN and to hear why they do it too. WAS THERE A SPECIFIC THING YOU THINK YOU DID TO PROMOTE YOU RECEIVING THE AWARD? Definitely I think [Artemis and I] together maintain a really good level of diplomacy when we were interacting with other delegates. During unmoderated caucuses [unstructured debate time where there is time to really talk with other delegates], we were able to interact with other delegates and kind HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU RECEIVED THE AWARD? I feel really thankful towards everyone who nominated me, [but] what matters to me more is that I am helping others rather than the award in itself, or that I’m the first to receive it. All the things I’ve done were for doing what was right, what I thought would help my peers. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF BEING IN THE TJ COMMUNITY? Coming into high school, I never felt I really belonged, and while that sentiment still holds true in the academic sense, there is such an amazing culture of outreach and acceptance in the student body at TJ that I

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT COACHING TJ BASKETBALL? BACKSTORY My favorite part is the sense of accomCoach Mark Gray-Mendes won his plishment that our players feel after they 50th game as the head coach for the boys win a game or play really well. Watching basketball team on Jan. 24. Coach Mark them accomplish things that perhaps has been with the TJ basketball commueven they didn’t feel were possible is very nity since he made the freshman team in rewarding. I imagine it’s sort of like a 1999, and later became the head coach in teacher having students perform well on 2010. He achieves success with the team an exam, except with the added bonus that on the court, and in his role as a mentor in athletics there’s usually someone trying for the players. to keep you from succeeding.


HOW DO YOU COACH YOUR TEAM? Our players are all outstanding students, athletes, and people, so there’s not really


of explain to them and reason with them for why our plan would be more beneficial to their own country. HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GOT THE AWARD? My partner Artemis and I were both really nervous because we had worked really hard in committee, but there was a question of if we had edged out one or two other competitors so it is really just like a rush of relief. Because it’s a big award ceremony and you’re sitting there and you’re on the edge of your seat-you feel like you just didn’t get it, even though obviously we did. The first thing I did when they announced that was I stood up and I hugged her [my partner]. We ran up to the front and got our awards. feel like I have found my place. While the community certainly isn’t perfect and there are a lot of things that can be improved, TJ is such a great window of opportunity both academically and socially. HOW HAS SEAN MADE THE TJ COMMUNITY A BETTER PLACE? “[Sean] will strive to make other people happy, so he’ll turn any negative situation into a positive situation for himself and others, which just makes everyone around him happy. He’s always [a] smiling face that’s coming to school even on a bad day, which makes me smile,” junior Tamun Hanjra said.

much that I need to do with most of them. I do ask that they understand the value of their high school experience as its own event, and not as a stepping-stone to the next phase of their lives. TJ is a much, much different place than it was when I was a student here - or at least it appears to be based on what I see in the hallways – and my hope is that I can give our kids some perspective on how to enjoy this precious experience that you only get once without stressing out about the next step.

DESIGN //Adithi Ramakrishnan


JEFFERSON SCIENCE BOWL TEAM WINS REGIONALS Renovation Update The following areas are now open for use: The Clinic Trainer’s Room Health/PE Workroom Gym II

Student Activities Suite PTSA Room Team Rooms Coaches’ Offices IT Office Security Office Administration hopes renovation will be complete by Spring Break. DESIGN // Adithi Ramakrishnan

Team advances to national competition from win in regionals Avni Singh || TEAM LEADER


Photo courtesy of Pradeep Singh

he National Science Bowl is a competition in which middle and high school students compete in teams of four to answers questions about topics related to science. The competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and it is the only science competition Science Bowl team poses with math teacher Laura in the country to be McConnaughey. All Science Bowl teams are required sponsored by a federal to have four students, one alternate and a teacher agency. who serves as as advisor and coach. “Science bowl is a a victory. Jeopardy-style competition, where “The TJ Team for regionals the topics are from math, physics, was selected through 4 weeks of biology, chemistry, earth and rigorous testing at the beginning of space, or energy,” Franklyn Wang, this school year,” Wang said. “After a student at Jefferson whose team made it to nationals, said. “If a team regionals, there is the national answers a toss-up correctly, they can competition, which takes place confer on a bonus question, which in Washington D.C. It features the winners from the 58 regional is team-based.” competitions across the nation. This The Jefferson team recently won will be my 4th time attending, and I the regional Science Bowl, which hope we do really well. means that they will progress to the In order to participate in Science national event that will take place in Bowl, Wang recommends that a April. student have good memory and be “It was intensely nerve-wracking. willing to study topics that are not We had won the last 31 years in a as popular at Jefferson. row, so it was absolutely shocking “I would recommend that they to lose a close game in double elimination to Princess Anne High have very rapid recall, and that School,” Wang said. “Luckily, due to they be willing to study some less great teamwork, we were able to win “glorious” subjects, such as earth and space as well as energy,” Wang the competition.” said. “Those categories make up a The team spent a lot of time third of all science bowl questions, determining who would represent so it is vital to be able to answer Jefferson as regionals, as those them, even if some can seem members would progress to the terribly mundane.” national competition in the case of



FEB 9, 2017


Eighth period may be cut in future budgets released by FCPS


Nikita Sivakumar || STAFF WRITER

n yet another typical day at Jefferson, junior Ann Mathew had three tests. In the morning, she had her multivariable calculus test, followed by speaking PALS in Spanish, and then an APUSH test. After her long and hard day, all she wants is to relax during eighth period at one of her favorite clubs. Mathew is like most Jefferson students, who want to participate in stimulating extra-curriculars after a day full of long, stressful courses. Unfortunately, according to a recent petition posted online, cutting eighth period from the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) budget is once again on the table.

“German Honor Society is dedicated to informing other students about German culture. The only time we “[Jefferson students] have a very can do that is during eighth period, busy day and then go home and do unless we started doing events during homework for however many hours and lunch, and I don’t think that would then we go to sleep and repeat,” junior work,” Stepniczka said. “Trying to run Michael Stepniczka said. “Without that something after school is also difficult … because at TJ specifically people are coming from all over. From Loudoun to Fairfax … It’s hard to plan something and do it outside of school time.” and pursue endeavors outside of the classroom.

Even though eighth period has been proposed to be cut again, students are optimistic that the county will continue funding it.

The petition referred to an annual public meeting that took place on Jan. “I highly doubt our 3. During this meeting, eighth periods will be which was open to FCPS cut any time soon,” students, parents, teachers, Xie said. “It’s more and Fairfax officials alike, of something people FCPS members reviewed the On Dec. 14, German Honor Society held its annual gingerbread house deco- have raised along with ration event during eighth period. Events such as these are made possible new 2018 budget. The bloc has by eighth period, which is again on the chopping block. Photo by A. Hussain. cutting 4th grade strings proposed cutting eighth period and elementary school multiple times in previous years. Fairfax time, it would be really hard for a lot of language programs, both of which have County is often disinclined to fund students to participate in these activities also been met with high opposition.” Jefferson activities, given that the school that they enjoy doing.” Nevertheless, students are grateful to itself differs from the average public In addition to providing a break have this unique time in their schedule. school. from the challenging coursework of “I really think that it’s time that we “Since the meeting is a public hearing, Jefferson, eighth period provides extra can just spend together as students,” that means anyone can give input and time during the school day for clubs to Stepniczka said. “A lot of the clubs it’s there is a good number of people organize important events, which they just hanging out with your friends and outside the TJ community who don’t would not be able to conduct during doing activities that you enjoy doing necessarily support our school since it’s other times. Stepniczka, a member of together… And it just makes it easier to from other high schools,” junior and German Honor Society, notes that, Student Government Association (SGA) given the limited time that students have be a part of the community at TJ.” secretary Sherry Xie said. outside of school, most language honor For more information regarding the societies would not be able to conduct school board meeting on Feb. 9, visit Eighth period is valuable to many successful cultural events without the tjtoday.org. students, because it offers a time to relax built in time eighth period offers.


ARE WE DESENSITIZED? How the media and overexposure has changed the way we perceive global issues Angel Kim and Avni Singh || TEAM LEADERS


notification pops up on a smartphone. It’s news of a school shooting. Recipients of the notification glance at their screens, lit up and displaying the news of a tragedy. However, the news seems no sadder than the ban of immigrants the day before, or the news of the bombing the week before. The violence behind these acts no longer registers, and though it may seem like cruel indifference, could it just be that people are used to bad news?


Immigration Crisis

Syria Turkey

REFUGEES Asylum Seekers Borders

ALEPPO Alan Kurdi


With the past year’s many tragedies, it became common to see people call the negative events, such as the crisis in Syria or the various acts of terrorism throughout the year, “typical 2016.” TJ Minds Matter vice president Shivani Mullapudi believes that this was due to people growing increasingly aware of events occurring around them. “In a year that has been full of large scale events it is possible that, as people, we begin to get mentally used to all these different incidents and they begin to fall into a category that we’ve formed and, as a result, we get desensitized to the larger issues,” Mullapudi said. “I feel that 2016 happened to be the year that global affairs and domestic affairs happened to pile up.” Desensitization occurs when an individual is exposed to a stimulus many times, causing them

Photo courtesy of flickr users The U.S. Army, Wikimedia Com Scott Bob and H. Murdock of V mainpictures user axelle b.


FEB 9, 2017 DESIGN // Uzma Rentia

flickr users Alastair Rae, Freedom House and kimedia Commons users alka3en, Robert and Murdock of Voice of America and publicdoaxelle b.

School Shootings

COLUMBINE Gun Violence

Sandy Hook Virginia Tech

to have an abated emotional response, in this case, referring to feeling apathetic towards news that would usually cause feelings such as distress or devastation. Though there are many factors that cause overexposure, possibly leading to desensitization, one can be television. According to a 2016 Nielson Report, average Americans watch almost five hours of TV per day, where the content that they view can easily be filled with violence or tragic news from around the world. “The media has a large influence on [desensitization], because again they do dictate our viewpoint of the world of some sort,” Mullapudi said. Outside of reactions to news, desensitization can also occur through exposure to events in fiction, namely video games. Like news, games can also contain violence that players encounter for prolonged periods of time. However, some students believe that this type of media, which is usually seen as causing desensitization, helps people grow more aware of what exists in the world. Often, personal connections to people, events and feelings involved with the nature of the tragedy affect responses to news. For example, an individual whose family member was affected by a disease might feel more personally impacted by news of the disease’s spread compared to news of a celebrity’s death. “When we know someone, and someone’s affected by [an event], we kind of take more consideration towards them,” freshman Alan Chang said. “But at the same time, sometimes it can be something big, for example an attack, and you should be affected.”


ISIS Boko Haram


According to U.S. Department of Justice survey, more than 60% of children surveyed were exposed to violence either directly or indirectly. This can have negative consequences, as, according to the American Psychological Association, there is evidence that being exposed to media violence and tragedies can lead to aggression in adulthood. “Children have schemas for how they see the world,” psychology teacher Jo-Ann Muir said. “When they

8 IN-DEPTH GRAPHIC // Nikita Sivakumar

have a new experience, they on making the world better in have to either absorb them into the ways that you can.” their existing schema, or they But, is desensitization always need to change their schema. a bad thing? Systematic If they are exposed to things desensitization is a process that in life that don’t fit in into a helps to remove an individual’s safe, happy schema, then they response to a phobia. The have to change their schema, process involves placing and then they see the world as patients in a relaxed state and not a safe place, not a happy exposing them to a phobia, place. So, refugee children, possibly allowing them to who have seen war and tragedy become more comfortable with and loss, their concept of the the phobias. world, their schema, is very “We have a thing called different. It would take a long sensory adaptation, where you time to shift that adjust to a schema back to new normal,” something that is “You can choose Muir safe and happy.” not to be exposed said. “We Research in acclimate to bad news, and 2009 from terms of whether that’s denial in the American our senses Academy of or some such thing to increasing Pediatrics is dependent on the levels of a indicates that stimulus. So media violence person.” you could can lead to extrapolate -Ms. Muir desensitization and say that to violence. we acclimate However, is to higher there a difference between levels of violence, or higher being desensitized and simply levels of anything, because becoming accustomed to or it gradually becomes the uncaring about violence or bad new normal, and then you news? forget that it’s been a gradual “You don’t spend your whole process.” life being exposed to bad news, Though currently it may seem in many cases, unless you like the amount of sad news choose to,” Muir said. “You stories is far greater than ones can choose not to be exposed of happiness, it is important to to bad news, and whether that’s keep in mind that things can denial or some such thing is be done in order to improve dependent on the person. If others’ situation; it would be exposure to horrible news is detrimental to an individual’s making you into an uncaring mental state if every piece of person, then maybe what you bad news causes them pain, do is you cut your ties to news and it would be equally as sources and diminish your detrimental if they felt nothing. exposure, and you concentrate

PTSD WHAT IS IT? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder in which the patient experiences traumatic flashbacks in response to particular triggers.

“70% of adults in the US have experienced some kind of traumatic event.”

“Up to 20% of these adults go on to develop PTSD.”

“One out of every nine women develop PTSD.”

TRIGGER WARNINGS Sexual assault and verbal, physical, or sexual abuse can trigger PTSD. Furthermore, being in or witnessing war and traumatic experiences, such as car accidents, also trigger PTSD. Information from ptsdunited.org

To read more about trigger warnings, PTSD and desensitization, visit tjTODAY.org. DESIGN // Uzma Rentia


OCT 9, 2017



How Ari Anugu manages desensitization as a Relay For Life chair Sabria Kazmi and Christine Zhao || TEAM LEADERS


s chair of the advertising recruitment committee, senior Ari Anugu’s job is to make sure people are aware of the upcoming Relay For Life events and encouraging attendance. In the field of fundraising, desensitization can be a big obstacle. When people are used to hearing about the same issue over and over, it’s difficult to reach the emotions of those from whom you are trying to receive help. “A lot of people have become used to the idea of cancer just because it’s kind of becoming common nowadays,” Anugu said. “There are a lot of relief groups towards [cancer], so I feel like people think it’s kind of cliche to work with a big cancer organization.” Transparency, Anugu feels, may be a part of the reason why people can feel desensitized towards this cause. To address this issue, Anugu and the fundraising committee continually strive to increase awareness and emphasize importance both in the student body and the community at large. “I think that a lot of the issue is that people don’t really know where the money is going,” Anugu said. “Our job is to make sure people are clear that the money is going to the relief of cancer patients [and] to the research for the cure of cancer. Also, there are these things called ‘Hope Lodges’ where the American Cancer Society actually houses people with cancer in places where they can get medication.” While there can be difficulty when trying to fundraise due to the overexposure of a subject, Anugu feels there is also an issue of not enough exposure to the subject. This can occur when a specific issue, such as cancer, does not strike a chord the way it might for someone more emotionally connected to it. “I think the main place we encounter it [desensitization] is within our age group a lot

of students [and] their family members aren’t exposed to cancer,” Anugu said. “So, I think that when it doesn’t really hit that personal level, a lot of people don’t realize it’s a real issue or think it’s an issue that they need to dedicate time to.” For Anugu, his personal experience hits close to home. His grandmother was diagnosed with second stage breast cancer, and “it was a very emotional time, just because I was very close with my grandmother,” Anugu said. However, India, with their own cancer organizations, was able to offer his grandmother the kind of treatment pushed her through the entire journey. Her battle with cancer eventually inspired him to dedicate his efforts towards Relay for Life. “She survived for almost eight or nine years after she got diagnosed, which is way past the normal time frame,” Anugu said. “I found that really admirable, and I really was appreciative of all the medical care and overall care that she received. That was really what inspired me to start [Relay for Life] freshman year, and eventually be on the committee.” To work on resolving desensitization at times when sensitivity is needed, Anugu recommends that everyone recognize that people around you and all over are going through their own experiences and have subjects that are sensitive to them, and to keep in mind the emotional aspect in everything. “It’s just a matter of how much you understand a person,” Anugu said. “You’re going to make a mistake now and then; you’re going to be desensitized. But I think it’s really important to keep in mind that every single person is going through an experience that could be traumatic, that could be emotional for them, and it’s more or less being a good person, more than being desensitized.”




FEB 9, 2017

Free ACT diagnostic Saturday, November 26 at 11am. Visit website for details.

You may have missed the name plate sale, but it’s not too late to get your 2017 Publications Package!


cutting corners

The academic rigor and unique courseload at Jefferson differentiates the institution on a national level. But recent cheating infractions have exposed the school’s cheating culture. Through input and assessment of cheating’s widespread effects, the Jefferson community wonders: how can the school continue to embody a culture of integrity that is explicitly highlighted in their Honor Code? Katherine Du || EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


n Dr. Laura Locklear’s neurobiology course, students write quizzes for their classmates that are taken in the class and counted for a grade. This Nov., multiple individuals were suspected of sharing their written quizzes prior to the quiz date with a few of their peers. This provided an advantage for some students, those who were able to prepare for the exact quiz questions, over students without access to the quiz. “The whole point of Neurobiology being student-run was that we could have meaningful discussions on specific topics of research in dozens of fields encompassed by the label ‘neuroscience,’” a Neurobiology student, who remains anonymous because of the confidentiality of the reporting system, said. “However, since so many people cheated and weren’t motivated, some of the discussions weren’t fun like they should’ve been and every class lost some of its energy.” The above student attributes cheating in Neurobiology to the fact that some students may not have had the skills necessary to build tolerance and persevere through the course, or that individuals may have been uninterested in the material covered and joined the class solely because of its high 5.0 grade point average (GPA) weighting. The intensive nature of the course is characterized by 1.5 to to three hours of scientific article reading before each class period. “It was okay with me that students didn’t do particularly well on quizzes. The grades were scaled,” Locklear said. “What matters in Neurobiology is that students prepare for and participate in the discussions about the articles to the best of their ability. The quizzes were an incentive to do that work. Neurobiology is designed to help students develop the skills needed for reading scientific literature and designing sound experiments. It takes persistence and a willingness to flounder for a while. It takes independent work at home. But having done that, it was easy to earn full credit during discussions.” Locklear still plans to hold in-class discussions, but may switch the format of quizzes to 15 minute reading assessments where students take notes on primary literature then answer questions on the articles with only their notes.


ast school year, the final exam in AB Calculus was compromised when a fairly large number of students obtained the test questions prior to taking it. The supervising teachers and administration decided to void those test scores and subjected all students in the class to another final exam. “It’s not really fair when one group of students has an unfair advantage over others in a testing situation because they had unauthorized access to a resource bank of questions,” Jefferson administration and Calculus AB teachers posted in a statement announcing the retake for the final exam on May 12, 2016.





You are reviewing with a study group. Your classmate whispers to you, asking you to slip a piece of paper to your friend sitting on your other side. You take a closer look: it’s the same questions from the biology quiz you took last period. You know your friend is taking the same quiz tomorrow. You tell him no, so he just passes it himself. Though you were a bystander, are you still considered a cheater? According to Assistant Principal Shawn Frank, your “guilt by association” is nonetheless an academic integrity offense. Frank defines cheating as “depending on the teacher and the parameters they set forth in their syllabi.” Cheating encompasses a wide range of scenarios at Jefferson, including copying other students’ computer science code, sharing information on exams, and collaborating on worksheets teachers deem individual assignments. Jefferson administration wrote up 39 student cheating incidents in the 2014-2015 academic year and 36 cases in 2015-2016. In both years, cheating was the most commonly reported discipline offense. Frank has mentioned that in each grade level, there are a couple of repeat cheaters.

“Typically, most cheating occurs during junior year,” Frank said. “And you can extrapolate from there why. Juniors feel the most pressure, possibly from taking some of the more challenging classes and trying to have their GPA up as much as they can when they start applying for schools.” According to a tjTODAY poll of 150 students, 32% believe that “challenging courses or too-heavy workload” is the most substantial cause of cheating at Jefferson. Sixteen percent of responders expressed that they thought “wishing to put in less work but still get a high grade” was the driving force behind cheating, while 15.3% of those surveyed attributed the main cause of cheating to parental pressure. A B C D Most cheating incidents are reported by teachers, who Frank believes to conduct thorough investigations in their cheating accusations before submitting their write-ups to the school administration. Frank feels that teachers understand the various ways that a cheating accusation can impact individuals’ reputations and academic careers, from suspension to teachers refusing to write student recommendations for cheaters. “Usually when a teacher brings [a cheating situation] to my attention, it’s pretty much solid as to why it is an academic integrity violation,” Frank said. Teachers who observe cheating incidents may not report them, however, because they hope to give a potential violator the benefit of the doubt. “They’re trying to, in their mind, look out for the best interest of the kid, trying to give the kid a chance, but in effect they’re not holding the kid accountable and they really need to let the administration deal with those kinds of matters,” Frank said. Students can report cheating through Ion, Jefferson’s student-run intranet. Despite the fact that 75.3% of the 150 polled by tjTODAY would reveal cheating if they encountered it, reporting seems like an unnecessary measure from the other students’ perspectives. Some individuals believe that reporting cheating will not result in the proper amount of administrative action, while in others’




FEB 9, 2017

eyes, witnessing cheating themselves does not seem trustworthy enough evidence to present to school authorities. A reporter may also experience unwanted consequences by informing the administration of cheating situations. “Someone might figure [a cheating incident] out and you might realize [you reporting it] was all for nothing and that you’re going to lose certain friends,” junior Ethan Wu said. “At the same time, [cheaters] still might not be caught and they’ll just get away with it.” A B C D Once cheating incidents are reported, the respective grade-level administrator spends approximately three to four days understanding the circumstances of the infraction by communicating with the individuals and teachers involved. Frank believes that teachers have recently sensed that the administration holds stronger accountability and a serious attitude when dealing with referrals. “We take [referrals] very seriously; we deal with it and try to follow up with the teachers,” Frank said. “We get 100 emails and we might miss a referral: has it happened? Yes. But I think more often than not we’ve been right on the ball, and dealing with all of them.” The 2016-2017 Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) guide pertaining to all Fairfax County Public Schools lists cheating as a level A offense. Common SR&R interventions applied at Jefferson include that teachers who refer students for cheating contact the student’s parents in the process, and that second-time offenders are required to attend in-school suspension. Jefferson administration continues adapting to logging these incidents into a new information system developed three years ago. “It’s a lot of outcomes that people maybe think aren’t punitive enough, but when I have a kid sitting in my office or I’m talking to a kid and they are crushed because they’ve lost respect from their parents, or from that teacher, or disappointing somebody, that takes a toll,” Frank said. “That’s why I like to assume good intentions, and I don’t believe in stigmatizing a kid after their first time because ultimately I like to believe in the good of kids.” Offenders also have the option to undergo Jefferson Honor Council’s restorative justice process. Established four years ago as one of the first student-run honor councils in


the nation, Honor Council helps facilitate communication between the perpetrator and reporter to determine an appropriate consequence for the offender. “There are many statistics to prove that the restorative justice process the Honor Council practices results in a lower recidivism rate,” Honor Council member junior Erin NewRingeisen said. “The Honor Council is trying to do our part to increase and strengthen the culture of integrity at TJ by raising awareness of the harm done to all by a single violation.” A single cheating case may not only affect the perpetrator and classroom teacher where the incident occurs; its ripple effects can extend to all students in the cheater’s classroom or those enrolled in the same course as the cheater, and even broaden to encompass Jefferson’s entire student community. “It definitely adds stress to a lot of students, because not only do they have to get good grades but they also have to compete with kids who are giving themselves an unfair advantage,” senior Danny Wu said. “The ability to collaborate has been put in question because there is a very blurred line between cheating and collaboration, so I think a lot of students have gotten a lot more resistant and hesitant to collaborate in certain situations in fear of being caught cheating.” A B C D Sophomore Reena Medavarapu sees cheating at Jefferson as extremely common, to the point where students treat it as normal. “I think that cheating should have more severe consequences than it does now and


people are getting away with it more easily than they should, because it doesn’t do too much to impact them,” Medavarapu said. To counteract this judgement, Locklear concludes that students should display greater support toward peers who report cheating infractions. “Perhaps integrity is not valued highly enough among the students at TJ, where those who report incidents are seen to have very strong character, to be leaders, and as people who ultimately care about other people,” Locklear said. This attitude adjustment may help maximize self-reporting of incidents, which Danny Wu advocates for. “If you really feel passionate about people cheating…you can report it, which means you have the power to take one small step in the right direction and help dissuade people from cheating,” Danny Wu said.

The administration and Student Government Association (SGA) have both hosted separate town hall meetings for the student body to promote open conversation and greater awareness on cheating. On Jan. 27, Principal Evan Glazer and the School Improvement Plan Evaluation Team (SIPET) analyzed trends in academic integrity survey responses from students, parents and faculty, as well as reviewed future goals and next steps. “I think [steps moving forward is] communication, letting kids know I have an open door and that I am here to listen to them to break down those walls between administration and students,” Frank said.

PHOTOS & DESIGN // Katherine Du


IT’S NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE The many meanings of Black History Month Shruthi Nyshadham and Samantha Yap || STAFF WRITERS


raffic lights. Video game consoles. Mailboxes. Apart from being some of the most widely used items today, these inventions have one thing in common: they all owe their existence to African American innovators. And every February, Black History Month provides an opportunity to showcase achievements like these and recognize the culture and history of almost 15% of the American population, according to the 2015 US Census Bureau. “Black History Month [celebrates] how people of our race have a place in America,” junior Angel Peprah said. “It shows how much we’ve been through [and] how we’ve overcome our challenges.”

To celebrate Black History Month, students from the Black Student Union (BSU) are planning to make a banner, bring in guest speakers, and plan some morning announcements.

A portrait of Carter Woodson, co-founder of ASALH.

“We want [the banner] to bring awareness,” Photo courtesy of the National Park Service sophomore and BSU member Beza Girma said. “If we never hear stories [of African American pioneers], how can we inspire Michael Yohannes said. people who look like them into going into those fields?” The Virginia curriculum outlines a simplified version of Black History month; A 2016 Gallup survey showed that over standard subjects regarding black history 60% of Americans, a percentage that has revolve around the Civil War, slavery, been increasing steadily since 2009, agree segregation, and the Civil Rights movement. that racism against African Americans The Standards of Learning also require is a major problem. In the eyes of some students to understand the perspectives of Jefferson students, Black History Month African Americans during America’s brief brings an opportunity to discuss this often history. controversial issue of race relations.

In 1915, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), and the organization created Black “If we have a societal taboo on talking History Month in 1926 to promote the race about [race], then nothing will change and as a whole. people will be still seen as less than everyone “With the current election and the [ideas] else,” Girma said. of immigration and minority rights coming Last year, about 40% of people identified to the forefront of politics, we need to be themselves as supporters of the Black Lives aware of the fact that everybody is equal and Matter movement, according to the Pew has an opinion,” senior Matthew Szilagyi said. Research Center. But to many who celebrate

Black History Month, it’s not only a time to reflect on past and current issues, but also a chance to celebrate a rich culture and heritage.

Sophomore Beza Girma traces a Black History Month banner for the Black Student Union club. PHOTO// Samantha Yap

“[My culture] gives me a sense of national ethnic identity, [and] it helped me gain values,” sophomore

“If you provide the deeper story, that’s really celebrating Black History Month,” Jefferson history teacher Brian Field said. “Rather than just going through the motions, why don’t we take the time to actually understand? ” However, having a specific month dedicated to recognizing one culture raises some concerns. “I think we like to highlight certain figures and focus on them, but we neglect the everyday people,” Field said. “When you emphasize only [African American] leaders, you have tensions like ‘Why not Asian History Month’ or ‘Women’s History Month?’” Despite the potential debate, this February is still a good time to reflect on the future. Perhaps the words of Woodson on the ASALH website best sum it up. “We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements,” Woodson said.



FEB 9, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP TURNS THE TABLES A look into the Inauguration and the plans Trump has made for the U.S.

Miko Miwa and Neha Sinha || STAFF WRITERS


he historic 2016 presidential election left the country divided, with President Donald Trump’s supporters enthusiastically waiting for his inauguration, passive opposers accepting the results quietly, and others openly protesting and marching to voice their disdain and concern over the Trump administration.

now is the fact that there are millions of illegals in America right now taking jobs that could benefit us when we have millions of homeless people who Anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 people attended the could very well fill those inauguration, and an estimated 30.6 million American viewed it on jobs. In addition, he’s going Protestors mocking the supposed TV. to drastically change welfare. relationship between Trump and Putin. Photo courtesy of Daniel Herndon “The power is coming back to the people, instead of the broken Right now I know people system that has been in government for the past eight years,” and have relatives who are on welfare and it isn’t doing anything to freshman Caleb O’Cain said. “Throughout the overall inauguration, I change their living conditions. Whereas, [Trump] will motivate them felt a wave of hope that’s been lacking for the past eight years.” to get jobs and help work themselves off of welfare.” The inauguration was also a big day for Trump’s opponents, These promises and platforms also affect those who oppose especially when it came to his actions after his swearing-in. Trump. Many of his plans will go beyond banning refugees and the reproductive rights of women - he has already gotten to work Ten days after his inauguration, Trump signed 17 executive on continuing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline orders and memoranda, ranging from freezing federal hiring, as well as repealing ObamaCare, a improving border security, and suspending the immigration of GRAPHIC// Sabria Kazmi program that covers more than 20 citizens from seven countries in the million Americans. middle east. “He [Trump] is limiting “This [executive] order is widely communications for the EPA agreed to make the U.S. less and the Departments of Interior safe and do nothing but tarnish and Agriculture, which is not cool our relationships with Muslim because the government needs to allies at home and abroad, and become more transparent, not less taint our reputation worldwide,” transparent,” freshman Miranda junior Brandon Kim, President Khoury said. “Trump is trying to prevent communication between of Jefferson’s Teenage Republicans said. “It’s a bad policy and is the public and the EPA so that they can deny climate change, but the indicative of the slipshod handling of the presidency by an inept leader who surrounds himself with a host of mindless, soulless, and science community is in agreement that climate change is happening. The U.S. is such a large part of it, we don’t have four years to just parochial sycophants. I expect further transgressions to transpire as pretend it doesn’t exist and then start fixing problems, we need to the months go by. After all, we’re not even two weeks into his first start fixing the problems today.” term.” No matter their differences, Trump’s supporters and opposers can The actions of the Trump administration also extend to agree that the next years under his presidency will have an impact the promises they made while on America as a whole. “I feel like there will be a cultural shift, but on the campaign trail and after not so much a political shift,” Khoury said, “Trump probably won’t get too much to change it terms of legislation, but knowing that Trump was elected. America has a racist and misogynistic person who has made very “I think [Trump’s rude and insulting comments attacking all groups, is just going to administration] will benefit inspire a culture of hate and people are going to think that because America in a lot of ways,” the president says those things, it’s okay for them to do it too, which Protestors gathered and displaying O’cain said. “One of the main is not the direction we want to go.” their dislike of Trump. problems in America right Photo courtesy of Daniel Herndon DESIGN // Sabria Kazmi



DESIGN // Angel Kim

Game Theory Society aims to teach students skills to prevail in competitions Avni Singh|| TEAM LEADER


n order to prepare students for competitions, the new Game Theory Society club, under the guidance of math teacher Laura McConnaughey, aims to teach its members statistics, psychology and social techniques. The club had its first meeting on Jan. 27, and it will meet regularly once a week during B blocks on Friday starting on Feb. 27. Game theory is a branch of mathematics in which individuals use strategies to make outcomes of competitive situations more in their favor. “Mathematicians think of game theory as just using tons of math in order to solve problems,” junior Ian Moritz said. “It is a big conglomeration between basic social sciences like psychology and math, and even economics, and why people make decisions, and when you analyze that, you understand how to predict what people would do, which is really essential towards all sorts of competitions.”

within the club.

on activities that can be carried out on “What we’re thinking is that we are not school grounds. going to have any specific competitions “Currently what we are in the process that’s oriented for outside of the club, of is designing a card game, because but we are going to create our own certain things are not permitted under system,” Moritz said. “We’re currently FCPS, like gambling. So, we have to designing a website for a general club design a card game in which there is point system. What we are going to start no betting or gambling, yet still has a off with are certain card games that use competitive aspect where we can use card counting in order to help you out, math and psychology to try to figure out and if you win those you’re going to get what the other person’s intentions are,” more points.” Moritz said. One of the club’s aims is to provide members with enough knowledge about game theory and the branches of knowledge that it requires so that they can create presentations to inform others about it.

There are currently no requirements that students must complete before joining the club.

“There’s not going to be an application you have to fill out and we are not going to make cuts,” Moritz said. “What we “We want a lot of people to participate do want is someone who is going to be by doing their own presentations, so if actively participating, like showing up to they have their own research, we want meetings, and even more importantly, them to show their ideas for the club,” we want people who are interested in Moritz said. certain subfields and off that they can make presentations about it, design an A challenge the club faces is working In the beginning, the club plans activity, or something related to game around the restrictions placed by on focusing less on out-of-school theory that they can bring to the table. competitions and more on competitions Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) That’s our goal.”


GRAPHIC // Avni Singh information from businessinsider.com

! Teaches you about risks, which can help you later on in your career

Can be used to analyze stocks in order to purchase stocks from the most profitable company

Can be used to win cash prizes in fantasy


Helps individuals analyze the best deal in real estate negotiations

Helps analyze strategies in a variety of different games



FEB 9, 2017

Creative Commons photo courtesy of pexels.com


Can drinking coffee before a nap make you more alert? Ashley Huang and MiJin Cho || STAFF WRITER, BUSINESS MANAGER


reshman Ayush Jonnala enjoys coffee at night, whether he’s studying for a major test or just doing homework. Sometimes, when he comes home from school, Jonnala exercises to help clear his mind before starting work. “Sports is something [where] if I start a warmup, I can play in a matter of minutes,” Jonnala said. “I wake up if I do something physically active.” At around 7 p.m., Jonnala will take a power nap that lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.

to the level of alertness in comparison to consumption of caffeine or sleep alone. Coffee takes 20 minutes to kick in; so you can drink a cup of coffee right before a nap. Twenty minutes is the prime amount of time to wake up in the right stage of your sleep cycle, resulting in two sources of energy one, from a correctly timed nap, and two, and from a cup of coffee. While Jonnala does drink coffee as well as takes naps, he has never tried the “coffee nap” approach.

“Honestly I don’t think drinking coffee “Since middle school, I always used to take every day is a healthy diet choice,” Jonnala a short nap before I studied, and I actually do said. “I only turn to coffee when I absolutely feel an energy reimbursement.” Jonnala said. need it, but normal naps on the other hand, Multiple studies from Loughborough your body can get safely used to. I have a University in the UK have provided evidence feeling that if you drink too much of coffee, that a coffee nap gives a “double boost”

SNOW DAY OR DELAY? weather s




Senior Ace Omais enjoys coffee for when they’re cramming for tests, pulling an allnighter, or finishing homework. Omais takes one-hour naps once a week, usually on the bus back home or at night when they arrive home. “I associate coffee so much with being energized, that even if [a coffee nap] does take a while for the effects to actually kick in, I’d just feel more awake instantaneously, so I’m not sure I’d be able to sleep.” Omias said. “In my opinion, TJ kids are already doing everything they can to maximize their grades and productivity. [Even if they work,] I don’t think coffee naps will change a TJ student’s lifestyle by that much.”

How FCPS makes winter weather decisions

Facilities staff goes through bus routes and walking paths



FCPS contacts the National Weather Service

your body becomes reliant on it, and I’m trying to avoid that.”

The assistant superintendent for facilities and transportations holds conference calls with neighboring districts and governments, then FCPS leadership discuss whether a cancellation or delay is more appropriate

Decisions are made by 4:30 a.m. GRAPHIC // Angel Kim

Natalie Homnyom || STAFF WRITER


s students start the uninterrupted weeks until spring break, the question of when a snow day will happen spreads across Jefferson. An unusually warm winter has caused students to question the possibility of one, but do not know how they are decided.

plans are to make a final decision before 4:30 member Ryan McElveen said. A.M. Junior Jeffrey Wang follows the weather “FCPS puts student safety first, so if there sites and models closely himself to judge if is a question about the severity of conditions, there will be snow. we will be more likely to delay or close. The “I look at ensemble runs where you run a most difficult calls occur when there has model to get a range of possible solutions not been any precipitation sticking [to] the [multiple] days in advance. You can [see] The Fairfax County board first checks with ground, but bad weather conditions are how many show snow, so it gives you an idea the National Weather Service for a forecast. expected to begin after schools starts. These of how probable it is for a snowstorm to instances require that we rely on predictions happen,” Wang said. Then facilities staff check if transportation routes are safe and what other jurisdictions’ from meteorologists,” Faifax County Board



A BIG FINNISH A -List Empire’s rise, using Artificial Intelligence technology to beat From left to right, back to front: senior Matthew Gross, adviser John Leddo, senior Ankit Badatala, junior SrinidhiA Krishnamurthy, junior Yash Bolisetty, junior Rithika Lanka, contributors to A-List Empire’s educational software program, pose for a picture.

Khan Academy’s interactivity with the student is limited to evaluating the correctness of answers to problems

Aryaan Hussain and Anushka Molugu || STAFF WRITERS

Is entrepreneur John Leddo destined to be the new Sal Khan? A project known as A-list recently beat Khan Academy in learning enhancement using AI technology. Leddo came up with with this website two years ago as a way to combine many different social media forums into one site.

Rithika Lanka, started working at A-list for about a year in two different parts of the program. Gross worked in the web development aspect of the program, while Lanka worked in the project management part. They both said that A-List a great work experience and it was “So I had this idea, wouldn’t it be great, if I had so very different from many of the websites they’d seen. much fun making this show if we could create a social “I would say A-List is an extremely different website in the media website where we give the kids the tools they would fact that it combines portions of other social media websites so need in order to create their own content,’” Leddo said. you can have video, artwork, and music all combined into one Leddo had originally started his educational career by making website,” Gross said. “It also allows that collaborative aspect videos and shows for students to learn, but soon after decided where you can create a project and have different users working to transform aspects of his work into a social media website. on the same project at the same time and all on one website.” “I thought, well why not turn it over to the kids because In addition, Lanka said, “I work more more in they know social media, let them build it,” Leddo said. the project management side, but I like that you have the ability to do whatever interests you.” Two of those kids, senior Matthew Gross and junior

DESIGN // Christine Zhao



FEB 3, 2017


Swim team reflects on a season with new members Justin Chang and Steven Le || STAFF WRITERS


s the Jefferson swim team began its journey into a new season, it faced the challenge of transitioning to a new team roster. However, despite this transition, Jefferson’s swim team managed to win almost all of its meets.

“The class of 2020 this year has been very strong,” Bagal said. “We’ve got a lot of fast freshmen boys that have been helping us fill out the relays, and the class of 2020 has definitely made Jefferson’s swim a lot stronger this year.”

“Last year we had some really good swimmers leave,” senior Reilly According to senior Caroline Nguyen, a captain on Jefferson’s McLaren said. “They served as the main leadership, and they did a swim team, this year’s freshmen are some of the best she has ever really good job passing down what they learned throughout their seen. years on Jefferson swim team.” “I don’t know how it happened, but this year we just have a lot of The seniors lead the cheers, encourage one another, huddle really fast freshmen,” Nguyen said. “These new kids are just crazy together before meets and demonstrate spirit and motivate the fast. And not to say anything bad about other grades, but I definitely group as a whole. The Class of 2016 TJSD members had more think they are faster than my class was freshmen year.” than just physical abilities to offer - they also helped bring the team This season, the team has even achieved some feats they weren’t together and fulfilled their roles as captains. able to do last “Obviously, losing [the seniors] was a big blow to the team because they were there not only for their fast swimming but also their morale, and everything they did for the team as captains,” junior Nithin Bagal said. In addition, others explain and express the big shoes this year’s seniors strived to fill to successfully transition into the class of 2017.


“I think our season has gone really well this year,” Nguyen said. “Last year we lost to Falls Church and this year we beat them, and I think we’re supposed to beat them in conferences as well, so I think we are doing better than we were last year.” With the addition of these new swimmers and captains, Jefferson’s swim team has had a successful season; TJ boys most recently won first in th Region 5A North Championships on Feb. 3.

Photo courtesy of Hong Yang. Jefferson’s swim team poses for a picture during their practice at Audrey Moore Recreation Center, commemorating the success of their season.

“The captains on the team are seniors and they are strong and dependable leaders,” freshman Roger Zeng said. “They lead the cheers and their spirit is unmatched by the other classes, and I feel that this is a huge part of our success.”

“The season’s been really good so far,” Bagal said. “This year we’ve However, with the departure of seniors also comes new members. been having a lot of fun. We’ve been winning a lot of meets, and we’re definitely looking forward going into our final regular season “I think Jefferson’s swim has always had a really high level of excellence, and that’s continued to this year; we have some really fast meet this year to have a strong shining in conferences onto the postseason.” freshmen and sophomores that have joined,” McLaren said. Overall, upperclassmen appreciate the talents that the freshmen have, and how they have filled the holes left by alumni.



FEB 9, 2017

EXTRA LEG ROOM The effect of the new gym opening on sports at Jefferson Ashley Huang || STAFF WRITER


he wind blew hard through the small squad of Jefferson Winter Guard members, as they attempted to spin their flags outside the Dome. Wrapped in thick layers, freshman Isabella Wu threw her flag up in the air and watched the wind blow it off track. But today, the Jefferson Winter Guard traveled to Gym 2 instead of outside the Dome to practice spinning flags. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, a renovated Gym 2 made its official debut after being shut down toward the end of May 2016 and is now ready for use by both the Jefferson sports teams and PE classes.

Now, with Gym 2 available for the student body to use, many PE classes, in addition to Jefferson sports teams, have taken advantage of the extra space. “Gym 2 has made practicing a little more convenient,” Wu said. “It provides more space for different groups to practice whatever they need to, especially if they have their sessions scheduled for the same day/time.” The Guard team is now currently fully functioning with the opening of Gym 2.

The Guard team has been using Gym 2 regularly since it’s debut. “Our practice times are actually structured around Gym 2 Before, due to insufficient practice space, the team would practice in availability since other sports take priority with gym space,” Mapili multiple locations that were very temporary. said. “So, our practice starts and ends late on Thursdays, because “We used to practice in the cafeteria, the band room, and the that’s the only time we can have the gym.” auditorium, but they weren’t really very solid imitations of our actual The renovation of Gym 1 was held throughout the course of performing ground,” Wu said. “I think [the opening of Gym 2] will last year. It wasn’t until the end of the year when Gym 2 began its make things a lot more convenient, especially because we need a renovation. fairly large space to practice all of our show work.” Since it’s currently the winter season, all the winter teams will have different times in their schedule to utilize Gym 2. “I think Gym 2 is really convenient for all sports in general since it’s opened up an extra space for any sort of athletic activities,” sophomore Winter Guard member Kelci Mapili said. “During the spring and fall seasons, Gym 2 is essentially utilized for inclement weather days,” Assistant Director of Student Activities David Gardziel said. “For example, when it rains, our baseball team and softball team will come in Gym 2, and we rotate the two gyms for lacrosse and soccer.” However, before Gym 2 re-opened this school year, some Jefferson sports teams had to find alternative methods to practice.

“I was in Gym 2 the entire year last year, excluding the time I was in health,” sophomore Jimmy Yao said. “I remember I only got to go in Gym 1 for an end-of-the-year party or something, and before that, they were making sure Gym 1 stayed as new and clean as possible.” The renovation of Jefferson began in the Spring of 2013. Because the entire school building would be remodeled, it would be only fit to renovate the gyms as well. Even if renovation of the gyms is solely to keep up with the other renovations going on, the finished gym facilities will allow the sports teams to have more convenient and structured training.

“Having Gym 2 helps [sports teams] out because we don’t have to leave school grounds to find a gym to practice in,” junior Yadaven “This fall season, when it rained, our boys lacrosse teams would Saravanapavan said. “It also allows us to have practice when other go to Luther Jackson MS for the turf field, and the girls would go to sports or events are using Gym 1. [Basketball teams] can use it to Gym 1. Then, we would rotate [for every time it rained],” Gardziel shootaround before games.” said.


Together We Can

How girls thrive through team sports Grace Mak || STAFF WRITER


ccording to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by age 14. With 1.3 million less opportunities for girls to join a sport than for boys, it can be difficult to find convenient facilities that accommodate sports teams. In addition, school sports budgets are frequently cut, meaning families must pay for private programs which are not always affordable. “I think for guys, there’s a lot more pressure to participate in sports, like [why a guy doesn’t play a sport] is one of the questions that will come up more often. For girls, if you don’t do a sport, it’s okay,” freshman Hana Wong, who joined the cross country and swim and dive team this year, said. Despite this, the disparity does not appear to be as common at Jefferson because students, no matter their gender, tend to fall at around the same skill level for the variety of sports offered. “I think that boys are more involved in sports sometimes, but that doesn’t tend to be the case here because I feel like we have an equal amount of nerdy boys and nerdy girls so it balances out in that everyone can join a team despite their level of experience,” Wong said. In addition, there are several benefits of participating in a sport that draw female students into joining and continuing with school sports, thus bridging most of the gender disparity in athletics. “One of the benefits is that it creates another family outside of [people] like your IBET group. If you really hate your classes,

you can still love the people in your team because they are doing the same thing that you love,” Wong said. Through sports, female athletes form close relationships with other girls on their team, which allow them to improve and learn through the mentoring of those with more experience. “You get to talk to and learn from upperclassmen which is something you wouldn’t really be able to do otherwise. It’s nice knowing you’ll always have the girls on your team to rely on and get help from when everything else in life doesn’t seem that great. Working as a team teaches you to cooperate and rely heavily on your teammates, which carries on to things like school subjects you’re struggling in and even personal problems in your life,” freshman Mia Yang, who participated in cheer and indoor track this year, said.

Sophomore Mallory Brodnick jumps to shoot the basketball. Photo courtesy of Subul Malik

Through teaching valuable life lessons and providing both physical and mental benefits, many female athletes agree that sports are a great addition to a girl’s life. “Sports made me proud... both of myself and of my body, and knowing that I could push it to do so much more than I ever would have imagined,” senior Bailey Knight, who has been a part of Jefferson’s crew team for all four of her years at Jefferson, said. “It was really scary the first time I went in to the weight room during eighth period as the only girl among a ton of guys, but it’s moments like those and all the times I went back after that first day that made me so much stronger.”

Junior Jessica York gets into position to hit the volleyball. Photo courtesy of Jiny Cho

Freshman Erin Ganlin defends the goal. Photo courtesy of Frank Ding

Sophomore Clare Heinbaugh aims to put the golfball into the hole. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Do



FEB 9, 2016

Junior Emily Wang performs a ring jump. Photo // Angel Kim

Flippin’ Over Problems Gymnastics team adapts to limited practice space Tanya Kurnootala || STAFF WRITER


ike other Jefferson sports teams, the gymnastics team has been anticipating Gym 2’s recent opening. The sport itself requires an extensive amount of equipment, which also require sufficient space. Previously, the team has had to practice in sub-optimal locations due to spacing issues and limited access to equipment within Jefferson.

expanded what they can practice, with a larger variety of equipment that can be brought into the gym. “In Gym 2, we have a bunch of gymnastics mats we put together to form a makeshift floor, which is where we complete all our floor routines on. Then we have the vault table, which we vault over and the vault runway which we just roll out,” Majumdar said. “We have I believe three beams and one floor beam and we have the uneven bars.”

“For a long time we were in the wrestling room and we Improvements to the team’s roster also gives hope for had no space to do the events let alone practice all of our achieving the team’s goals. routines. When we were in the wrestling room we had pull up “[The team] bonded really well and [has] taken the extra bars, space to do conditioning to workout, and do our floor stuff we’ve given in the wrestling room and worked hard. routine and tumbling,” freshman Alexis Echano said. “We We’ve added some freshmen that are fairly strong that are didn’t have all four events, we technically only had floor.” going to help us try to get to second place,” Novgrod said. To adapt, the team focused on conditioning rather than “We might end up in third again for the fourth year in a row, routines. Although this was an inconvenience, there were but we’ll see.” benefits of spending more time training. Looking forward, members also recognize the need for “We practice a lot of conditioning so we’re getting stronger support from the school in achieving their goals. rather than actually practicing skills. I feel like we’ve adapted “Since the gym opened up, we are starting to have more to [these issues], but if we had a lot more practice time with regular practices and in the future I hope that the school will actual equipment, we would have been scoring better just take more precedence into sports like gymnastics that aren’t because we would have learned a lot newer skills,” junior as big as others,” junior Cecilia Baek said. Anyesha Majumdar said. In addition, the team spent their Saturdays at a gym specialized for gymnastics in Woodbridge. This day of extra practice provided them with more space and stronger equipment.

Photo courtesy of Techniques

“An issue is only having the wrestling room for two days a week and then having a couple of [days at] Falls Church, and we don’t have bars there either. The only time [the team] gets bars is when they go to Woodbridge on Saturdays to the gym,” head coach Pete Novgrod said of the arrangement. Although the challenges the team has faced this year have impacted the quality of their practices, team members believe that they still have been able to perform well. “We did pretty well at the meets for what we had,” Echano said. “We placed third a few days ago, and placed first at the beginning of the season. But I hope our performance at meets improves and I hope we get more space for us to host meets.” Now that Gym 2 is open, the team has significantly

The gymnastics team practices in the wrestling room




he origin of desensitization, surprisingly enough, is often in complaint itself. The most obvious example of this? TJ Vents, an online Facebook community through which students can anonymously communicate their frustrations, struggles or even appeals for help. But a constant stream of rants flooding students’ Facebook feeds can lead to a developed lack of care.

to scroll past a cause worthy of donation. Becoming desensitized to cause contribution can leave initiatives with a lack of funds for no other reason than being too late.

Student seeking help with a mental illness? Been there, read that.

Determining how to address desensitization in the community is a tough one. Acknowledging it in the first place is a step in the right direction, but how do we avoid becoming desensitized to desensitization itself? In some cases, it may be through keeping a record of old feelings to keep them from shifting over time. Record personal feelings in a journal or on a phone to avoid dismissing crucial events as commonplace. But the fatal flaw in this approach remains: in the end, it’s not about us. When it’s not associated with mental illness or PTSD, our desensitization leaves oppressed groups of people unheard and initiatives unrealized because we didn’t want to connect emotionally to another sad news story. The fact that desensitization even exists is a testament to the state of our world in itself--that so much tragedy exists in our world, we dismiss it as normal. At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize the faces behind every news bulletin or GoFundMe page--to develop a sense of empathy, and understand that it has the potential to wane over time.

Desensitization can also have critical effects on mental health and illness. Symptoms of mental illness can raise a red flag to a friend at first, but over time, they can be brushed off even as the illness gets Complaints about teachers assigning too much homework? Seen it worse, leading to a lack of diagnosis and understanding. Becoming a thousand times before. “used” to these clinical indicators can have severe negative impacts on a person’s mental health, particularly when it is crucial to seek Another vent about students not picking up trash in commons medical help. areas? Not the first time. This line of thinking is dangerous, but even worse, it’s all too common. Why do we become desensitized to worldwide issues, tragedy in the news, or even charity causes? It’s hard to say. There is a distinction between simply acclimating to an event or “getting used to something,” and becoming desensitized to it, particularly with regards to the emotional component: we “get used” to the 1-2 hour commute to school, but we become desensitized to the constant stream of negative news flashing across our television screens. Awareness also plays a role: not knowing about an event, and therefore not caring about it as much, is not the same as becoming desensitized. Through desensitization, a person begins to lose attention or interest in a cause due to overexposure--by seeing it too much, the cause becomes of less importance. While desensitization to pieces of news or causes can have distinct negative effects, for some, it is absolutely necessary and even beneficial. Therapists and clinicians use a behavioral technique known as systematic desensitization, also mentioned in the cover story, to treat anxiety disorders and phobias. Through systematic desensitization, a clinician relaxes a patient and then slowly exposes him/her to an event or object associated with anxiety, increasing the intensity of this experience over time. Over time, this helps to reduce anxiety-related symptoms and help an individual acclimate to a certain stimulus. For those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is essential to stay away from triggering experiences. In some cases, desensitization can and does act as a survival tool, allowing people to selectively moderate their sensitivity to certain places and situations in the best needs of their mental health. However, desensitization by a large group of people to a pivotal event, place or object over time can have detrimental effects. When a GoFundMe page wanders onto someone’s Facebook page for the first time, he/she is more likely to sympathize with the issue presented and will donate or share the post. But over time, constant exposure to yet another worthy cause dulls a person’s sense of empathy, and by the tenth or eleventh appeal for help, it’s all too easy DESIGN // Avni Singh

THE MEDIA IN NUMBERS Increased access to media puts us at risk of being overexposed - and becoming desensitized In 2006, more than 98% of homes in the United States had at least one television set

The average teenager spends more than 11hours on media every day 54% of four to six year olds would rather watch TV than spend time with their fathers Information from The SAGE Handbook of Television Studies, and Statistic Brain



FEB 9, 2017

THE PERSON Y U REALLY NEED TO DATE Who should you date to have a successful relationship?

Christine Zhao || TEAM LEADER


ove advice from a three-time divorcee could not have come at a better time. I was constantly worrying about what other people thought of me: about what my teachers thought of my conduct, about what colleges would think of my grade in math, about what people would think if I did a certain thing, and I was taking a break from work, when Tracy McMillan’s “The person you really need to marry” popped up in YouTube’s suggested list. Her novel look at relationships really changed the way I look at others and treat myself. After watching her TED talk, I began to question why I and others often feel the need to date someone in order to feel complete.

achieve. I get it; when I first saw this video, marrying myself seemed both unoriginal and foreign. However, after I married myself, I began to realize I didn’t need or even want other people’s approval in order to feel whole. When you marry yourself, you will start to feel the same way. You are now whole because you complete you. You, this flawed, imperfect being, with your off-center smile, your hair that isn’t always in place, your body that isn’t immaculate or perfect, are so good you want to date you. You want to love you.

What exactly does “marrying yourself ” entail? In McMillan’s words, “You enter into a relationship with yourself and then you put a ring on it. In other words, you commit to yourself fully.” You begin to accept you for who you are when you marry yourself: your true, honest self, without any qualifications, without any expectations, without any desire to please anybody but you.

else, all that time you spent worrying about whether your crush liked how you looked, and channel it all into someone that will never leave your side and will never leave you alone. Channel it all into the one person you can depend on to always have your back, someone who will stick with you through tough times and cheer for you when you make it through. Take yourself to the top of a mountain, or maybe to the bottom of the ocean, get down on one knee, and say, “I’ll never leave you.”

You don’t need to love another person to feel good; just look at the mirror and accept that you’re flawed. You are not perfect. Neither In doing so, my goal isn’t to shame any happy am I. Neither will anybody in this whole wide couples, but rather to speak to those who world, anybody who could possibly be your constantly yearn for another half, experience partner, ever be perfect. the pain of unrequited love, or are just getting So love yourself the way you want somebody out of a relationship. My challenge to you is to to love you. Put all that love that’s not returned, marry yourself. all that thought you used to spend on someone

“Love yourself ” sounds so hackneyed, that on first hearing “marry yourself,” you may feel inclined to feel her advice too abstract to

DESIGN // Avni Singh


35% of Teens Have Some Experience with Dating or Romantic Relationships

Less than 2% of high school relationships end in marriage and only 54% last for more than ten years Information from Pew Research Center and Elite Daily



Think twice before you tweet #closefcps Timmy Vu and Lucas Bronstein || STAFF WRITERS


ach year, as we get deeper into the wintry months of January and February, there comes an influx of snow days. Everyone knows the familiar feel of getting up in the morning and finding out you don’t have to go to school that day. Many students have come to relish that feeling. Every time a large weather event comes near Northern Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) once again goes through their procedure: assessing the condition, looking at the severity, and eventually deciding what to do about schools and offices at around 4:30 a.m. However, it’s not just schools and offices that are affected by closings. School Aged Child Care (SACC) centers, after-school activities, team practices, and events at schools are also closed or canceled. Members of sports team and academic competitions would definitely not be happy to learn that all their hard work was just thrown out the window because of a few powdery inches of snow. Despite cancellations of students’ beloved afterschool activities, they still love snow days. Students often spend the entirety of snow days sledding, drinking hot chocolate, and building snowmen. For the briefest of times, we relax and forget about homework, grades, and the next project Dr. James wants us to finish. I think that’s a beautiful thing. TJ students often miss that the point of coming here in the first place is not to measure success on grades alone, not to study until the early hours of the morning, but to actually learn, explore, and try new things. Snow days are often appreciated and relied upon too much. Everyone should be able to enjoy a nice break for a day or two to just destress and play outside for a while. But, when students look forward to them and rely on them as an extra day to finish an assignment that was originally due on the snow day, there’s something wrong.

but should also be used to spend precious time with family, to do things that you don’t usually get to do during the week. Secondly, students should not use a snow day as an excuse for an extension. Yes, everybody loves an extension, but using snow days as a tool when you should have completed your assignment is detrimental to your teacher, whose lesson plans and schedule will get unnecessarily delayed. Lastly, don’t use snow days as a chance to get away from your academic struggles and your teachers. On the contrary, you could use this

During a particularly snowy season in early 2013, students idolized school board member Ryan McElveen for being the first to announce that school was canceled over Twitter. Over social media, hundreds of students retweeted photos such as the above, in which McElveen’s Twitter profile picture has been Photoshopped into a picture of a group of former Jefferson students. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Mensah, ‘16.

opportunity to email them for focused and specific help on something you’re struggling with.

So maybe it’s not so devastating that we haven’t had a snow day this year. We’ve missed out on sledding, but we’ve enjoyed sports games that don’t have to be postponed and 8th periods that haven’t been cancelled. In the event that we do have First of all, snow days, in terms of due dates, a few snow days this year, definitely take advantage should be treated like weekends. They should definitely of them. However, don’t rely on them: it’s snow be used as an opportunity to get ahead on schoolwork, laughing matter.




A monthly satire column tackling TJ’s issues

Bayliss Wagner || TEAM LEADER


’ve found education is like driving a car.

A break from satire: how I learned to love learning at Jefferson

of opportunity, each one more After a while, you can start to view it as nothing but a way to get to a destination. Whenever you start a quarter, it’s “I just have exciting than the next. Because to make it through for a few months.” That turns into “I just have to survive TJ,” and your destination is Harvard. Maybe your parents you aren’t worried about even decided that for you the moment you got into TJ. your destination, You notice the shiny Porsche on your left accelerating towards that you have time same destination. Soon, every fast car makes you more impatient to appreciate about arriving at your future. Why not speed to keep up? They’re fall for its oaks, doing it too, right? Your fuel tank goes lower and lower as you maples and Skyline drive in fall. Photo courtesy of National Park exhaust your engine, depriving yourself of sleep, and those speed birch trees limits you defied can even start to get you ticketed as a cheater. The of every color, Service and photographer Lewis. worst part is that, in comparing yourself to every other car and winter for its puffy, carefree snow, and spring for the delicate pink listening to everyone who tells you to drive faster, you’ve stopped and white blossoms over farmlands of green. You start to lose loving the quirks of your own car. The journey is lonely and track of the other cars on the road because you’re so engaged in featureless, devoid of the joy you felt when you first learned to drive. your own journey. You still have to know when to accelerate on a steep slope and My car’s when to coast outdated, forest down a decline, green exterior but you aren’t earned it the busy gritting name Mr. Green. your teeth and It’s 27 years challenging other old, the A/C cars. doesn’t work, the left turn signal Remember jumps out of its that in middle compartment school, you every few loved learning months, and the Mr. Green on Skyline Drive. Photo courtesy of National Park Service. and school felt radio only works if I turn it on at a stop light. like that exciting trip on Skyline Drive or to anywhere else you want to go. And high school—yes, even TJ—can feel like that, too. You So during my first two years at TJ, I felt ashamed of my car. It still have to work hard, but you can’t let one narrow definition of didn’t run as fast as my peers’ did. It ran out of gas much faster. success, one destination, define every moment of the trip. When you And man, did it look different from theirs. No one else had a car feel your tank running low, be it from stress or exhaustion, anxiety that color. As I failed some of the first tests in my life, I started to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why aren’t I smart enough?” It or depression, you take the time to refill it. When you see a car with its hazards blinking on the side of the road, you pull over to help seemed like they were all driving brand-new BMWs. jump-start it. Because you don’t feel like you need to speed towards But junior year, I gave up looking at their cars. I joined the Harvard, you have more time to enjoy the view, help out your peers, newspaper, devoted more of my time to my favorite classes instead and to appreciate your car’s quirks. of despairing over a math or physics grade, and stopped staying And in doing that, you’ll find that you love learning and you love home on Saturday nights to study. In the process, my grades actually yourself more. You may even end up exactly where you were meant got better. And I felt so much better about my talents, which to go. I promise you’re equipped for that trip already. Whether your happened to be a bit different than those of my peers. Sure, my car parents, teachers or peers appreciate your car or not, you’re stuck with broke down once or twice that year. But the more time I spent fixing it. So sit back and enjoy the ride, but don’t take the curves too fast. it, the more I loved my car and the view by the side of the road. Before you know it, that forest green may become your new favorite High school can still feel like a trip down Skyline Drive with your color. friends, teachers and classmates. You do have time to sing to your favorite songs on the radio with them, to eat some snacks, and to have captivating discussions. Every clearing reveals a new, open field DESIGN // Bayliss Wagner





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What’s the deal with ideal dates? Rena Cai || STAFF WRITER


veryone knows that Jefferson students are busy. Between school, extracurriculars and social commitments, there’s hardly enough time to sleep, let alone carve out a significant chunk of time to spend with significant others. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, that will change. No one wants to spend Valentine’s Day alone and it’s common to put in a lot of effort to woo their crush or make the day special for their significant other. But what should the date be like in order to succeed?

ideal. In fact, there were more people who said that they didn’t care about what type of date it was as long as they had the chance to go on one. “Formal dates might seem glamorous, but the clothes, the rules, even the mood are all uncomfortable,” freshman Alice Chen said. “Besides, beggars can’t be choosers. High school students can’t really afford formal dates.”

At the end of the day, there’s no rule of thumb when it comes to dates. If you spend time with your significant other and put enough effort in that things remain pleasant, even if it doesn’t measure up to his or her ideal, it will always be a pleasant memory. “As long as we genuinely like each other, it doesn’t matter what the date is like, we’ll still have fun together,” Chen said. GRAPHIC // Rena Cai

How students prefer dates

In an informal survey created by tjTODAY, more than half of the respondents preferred a casual date in places like malls, at the movies or parks. “A casual date is much less awkward and tense than semi-formal or formal,” junior Adelia Du said. “It’s more simple and homey and helps give off a more sincere atmosphere.” The second most preferred category is semi-formal, with respondents listing spots such as cafés, aquariums and museums. “You can see the effort that the other person put in, but you’re still comfortable since it’s still easygoing,” sophomore Jason Scott said. Few people chose formal dates as their Based on a survey of 81 students



FEB 9, 2017


Looking back at past dating experiences Brian Park || STAFF WRITER


s Valentine’s day quickly approaches, tjTODAY conducted in-person interviews with members of the Jefferson community describing their past “dating gone wrong” experiences in two categories: the inexperienced and the bluntly awkward

The Inexperienced “In sixth grade I had a crush on this boy and he liked me back. It was surprising and I didn’t know how to deal with it so we stopped talking in real life, but Skype messaged. We planned a movie date, but I didn’t want my mom asking a lot of questions. So I planned with my friends, and made a email from a fake mom of a fake girl that was coming to the movies with us,” freshman Kotryna Vismante said.

The Awkward “At a Model United Nations conference, Naman set up the date with a girl and she was a little unsure of herself but she agreed,” sophomore Ansh Gandhi said. “They agreed at a meet up place after committee, and Naman was a little caught off guard, because the girl was with her entire group of friends.

You’d expect Naman to talk to her, but he instead talks to the other kids and avoids her. In a long line at a fast food place, Naman tries to get closer to her. However, he moves in with me in front, basically sandwiching me in between him and her. We end up deciding “Once we were at the movies we sat on this grocery store type place, and by now down and literally did not talk at all Naman and the girl have not had a single or move because I was so awkward verbal exchange. We buy our things, and and nervous and had no idea what to Naman says he needs to get his bag. He hands say or do. Maybe I should have talked me his bag of food and leaves...and never to him, so I could have ended it returns. After she realized that he probably sooner, because he wasn’t a great guy wasn’t coming back, we bought our food but a friend of mine really liked him and the girl turns to me and says, ‘He’s such a and cried when he gave me a rose at terrible conversationalist.’ recess to ask me to the sixth grade

Naman’s Side

“I was supposed to go on a date with someone, but when I got there, I didn’t like her, so instead of telling her, I ditched,” sophomore Naman Rai said, “But now we’re friends.”





he movie starts. At first, all you can see is our planet. Then, a satellite falls out of the sky. Meanwhile, as we see this satellite fall, we cut to the head of Project XXX, August Gibbons (played by Samuel Jackson) talking to

Neymar (played by the soccer player Neymar) about heroism, with Neymar noting, “I’m no hero, I’m just a footballer.” After a thief tries to rob the restaurant in which they, the satellite crashes in a huge fireball and wipes out everything.



felt the plot for this movie was generic for an action movie. Going into the film, I expected the movie to be a car-less version of Fast and Furious, since the movie poster had the look that this was going to be an intense movie. The plot followed the general pattern I’ve seen in other movies: something happens, which requires the summoning of the main hero (Xander Cage), who then gathers his squad of experienced buddies. The squad then go solve the problem, with all the twists along the way. I had two problems with the film. Firstly, the premise seems

SOUND saw this movie in the


by so loudly and clearly, relatively new Dolby and you could even hear Cinema format. I had water sounds in underwater never seen a movie before camera scenes. in this format. Dolby Cinema is essentially a cheap IMAX which immerses the viewer with great audio and polished-up graphics. I was blown away by how good the sound quality was; the bullets whizzed

unrealistic. The main villain uses satellites as missiles by dropping them out of orbit. Satellites are designed to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere, not blow up a large area. My second problem is with some of the action sequences. In movies, the characters will almost never get hit by bullets unless it is necessary to the plot. The fact that some of the characters seem to flaunt this by seemingly doing a dance routine in the middle of a gunfight felt weird to me.



felt that the visuals were pretty good. The camera angles used were your general stock in my opinion, and weren’t particularly different from anything I’ve ever seen. The one I particularly liked was a sequence near the beginning of the movie, where Vin


his movie gives what one would expect of action movies: a normal plot, gun action, fun technology, and interesting situations. If you go watch this movie, I would From top: Photos courtesy of mediaclues.com and Youtube user Bollywood Insight.

Diesel’s character goes skateboarding. I personally liked the usage of whirring bullets to show the gunshots all missing, and Dolby Cinema’s visual additions; the images were very clear and easy to watch. It was almost like it was in some sort of super-HD level of visuals.

recommend seeing it in the Dolby Cinema format, as it greatly accentuates the visuals and audio. I would recommend this movie if you like action movies, shooting, or if you haven’t seen one before.



FEB 9, 2017


Public radio listeners describe their favorite shows BAYLISS WAGNER || TEAM LEADER


ll over America, the term “NPR babies” describes kids whose parents first expose them to public radio and who then grow up to listen to it on their own. Senior Nora Thompson is one of those people. Beyond listening to radio, though, she has explored topics ranging from criminal prosecution to comedy with podcasts, multimedia files that are typically available for free through Internet platforms like the iTunes podcast app and Soundcloud. “We would always listen to stuff like ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ on the weekends,” she said. “I still listen to NPR more than any other type of radio, but I really like the podcasts because I can tailor what I’m listening to to my specific interests as opposed to just having that grab-bag story.”

DESIGN // Bayliss Wagner

Another avid podcast listener, senior Raquel Sequeira, loves how podcasts can draw your interest to a completely unexpected topic during the long commutes that most Jefferson students endure.

I rant to [my dad] about it. He understands my excitement, especially [with podcasts] that [connect] medicine with Shakespeare.” Thompson has found herself connecting with others in unexpected ways because of podcasts like “Serial,” in which the host investigates a crime episode-by-episode. One season featured a football player suspected of murdering his girlfriend. “It happened in Baltimore which is my where my sister lived, so when she was driving around, she showed me this podcast,” Thompson said. “She got to show me, ‘This is the actual high school that he went to, this is the park that they’re talking about where they found her body.’ Those things made it really tangible and fascinating.”

Find the extended story with links to Jefferson students’

Another one of Thompson’s favorites is “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People,” in which callers openly discuss issues like mental illness and domestic violence.

favorite podcast episodes at tjTODAY.org. “The great thing about radio “The host is really open about as opposed to TV or movies is that, for one thing, you can his own life and his own struggle with mental illness,” listen to it while driving,” Sequeira said. “Most of the time it’s Thompson said. “He shows people that no little detail in something so unique you wouldn’t have thought of exploring your life makes anything wrong with you and you can still be before. You could be talking about bricklaying and [the host] successful like he is.” turns it into a personal story.” She brought her boyfriend to see comedian Chris Gethard, Sequeira spent her summer at the Folger Library. Now, she the host, perform live in New York City this winter. stays updated on the real-world applications of 16th century “After that he fell in love with the podcast and I thought it literature with “Shakespeare Unlimited,” produced by the was really sweet that on the way back from NYC, I wanted to Folger. sleep but he wanted to listen to [Gethard’s] podcasts.” “They have researchers who talk about, ‘Oh, here’s how the And best of all, podcasts inspire even more creation and food tells us about society,’ or, ‘Here’s how he used music.’ If you said the words to a Taylor Swift in your play, that would exploration. be like what he was doing.” “I love audiobooks, I love reading, I love [discussing] things,” Sequeira said. “I could totally see myself as the In this way, one podcast lets her connect multiple different interests: music, public health, historical gastronomy, drama. person to start a spinoff of ‘Prairie Home Companion’ or my own Shakespeare podcast.” “I’m so interested in connecting science and humanities.

CCW from bottom left: photos courtesy of CC user Xerworlb, prettygoodgoods.com, earwolf.com, serialpodcast.org, NPR.org, and beyondfolger.edu.

PHOTO // Alexa Nguonly REPORTING // Lynn Nguyen DESIGN // Ankit Agrawal

Both of us liked each other for a while when we “ CF: were best friends beforehand, but the friendship I had with him meant a lot to me and I didn’t know if I wanted to jeopardize that, so it just took a while for the transition to happen. WE KNEW IT WOULD BE WORTH IT EVEN IF THERE WAS THAT RISK. DH: Sometimes, when you have these feelings, THEY WILL COME OUT AT SOME POINT ANYWAY, or if you are keeping them inside, it kind of ruins your friendship as well. If you are pretending to feel one way that you are not and if you are trying to be honest with the other person, you are not going to have that same friendship. DH: One thing we do is we hold each other’s hand basically everywhere we go. It’s couple-y, but it’s also REASSURING TO KNOW THAT SOMEONE IS ALWAYS THERE.

DH: I think a lot of relationships have issues when the individuals in it are too stressed or worried about things outside the couple that they forget to focus on the other person and MAKING SURE THAT THEY ARE BOTH HAPPY AND HEALTHY.

DH: It only matters if the relationship is special to you. IT’S IRRELEVANT WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS.





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