The Environmental Issue
Print Editor-in-Chief Alex Robinson
Print Managing Editor Max London
Print Managing Editor Katie Hanson
Print Production Heads Noah Grill Joey Sola-Sole
front page artwork by JACKY LOCOCO
Online Editor-in-Chief Dana Herrnstadt Online Managing Editors Ally Navarrete, Anna Yuan Production Assistants Samantha Levine, Jacky Lococo, Sam Nickerson, Sam Rubin Online Production Head Alex Silber Online Production Assistant Kyle Crichton Multimedia Editors Jack Gonzalez, Jack Middleton Multimedia Interns Lexi Fleck, Bella Grumet Photo Directors Annabel Redisch, Kurumi Sato Photo Assistants Charlie Sagner, Joey Sussman Webmasters Eva Ginns, Jonathan Young Communications and Social Media Directors Isabelle van Nieuwkoop, José Wray Yearbook Liaison Anna Labarca Puzzles Editors Kaya Ginsky, Mathilde Lambert Business Managers Khanya Dalton, Min Yeung Business Assistant Shivani Sawant Traffic Manager Zoe Chyatte
Print Copy Editor Meera Dahiya Online Copy Editor Hirari Sato Sports and Style Editors Sara Azimi, Aditi Gujaran, Bennett Solomon Metro Editors Blake Layman, David Villani Perspective Editors Mateo Gutierrez, Emma Iturregui, Clara Koritz Hawkes Education Editors Zara Ali, Danny Donoso Sports and Style Writers Ella Adams, Andrew Eagle, Mia Friedman, Anna Kulbashny, Matthew Mande, James Marzolf, Afsoon Movahed, Eli Putnam, Gabe Schaner, Meera Shroff, Reuben Stoll, Ben Stricker, Eve Titlebaum Metro Writers Lexi Fleck, Celina Fratzscher, Sammy Heberlee, Christian Hill, Emily London, Jocie Mintz, Jesse Rider, Ben Waldman, Heather Wang Perspective Writers Holly Adams, Bella Brody, Bella Grumet, Chloe Lesser, Eva Levy, Jaclyn Morgan Education Writers Ben Baisinger-Rosen, Taylor Haber, Bella Learn, Jack McGuire, Sam Mulford, Lincoln Polan, Ellie Taylor, Sarah Tong, Ethan Wagner Editorial Board Khanya Dalton, Jack Gonzalez, Taylor Haber, Emma Iturregui, Clara Koritz Hawkes, Chloe Lesser, Emily London, Jack McGuire, Ben Stricker, Ellie Taylor, David Villani, José Wray Adviser Ryan Derenberger
The Black & White is an open forum for student views from Walt Whitman High School, 7100 Whittier Blvd., Bethesda, MD, 20817. The Black & White’s website is www. theblackandwhite.net. The B&W magazine is published six times a year. Signed opinion pieces reflect the positions of individual staff members and not necessarily the opinion of Walt Whitman High School or Montgomery County Public Schools. Unsigned editorial pieces reflect the opinion of the newspaper. All content in the paper is reviewed to ensure that it meets the highest level of legal and ethical standards with respect to the material as libelous, obscene or invasive of
privacy. All corrections are posted on the website. Recent awards include the 2019 Gold Crown, 2018 and 2017 CSPA Hybrid Silver Crowns, 2013 CSPA Gold Medalist and 2012 NSPA Online Pacemaker. The Black & White encourages readers to submit opinions on relevant topics in the form of letters to the editor, which must be signed to be printed. Anonymity can be granted on request. The Black & White reserves the right to edit letters for content and space. Letters to the editor may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Annual mail subscriptions cost $35 ($120 for four-year subscription) and can be purchased through the online school store.
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS When it comes to our climate, the only constant is that it’s continually worsening. With hotter temperatures, rising sea levels and increasing severity of storms, the evidence of climate change as one of our most pressing issues mounts daily. But as this issue evolves and challenges us, our response should be to evolve alongside it and adjust our lives to counter the impacts. Meeting the crisis with marches, protests and reform will shape this generation’s legacy as the one that rose from the change, rather than sank beneath it. In one instance, teenagers across the country addressed this challenge by organizing the US Youth Climate Strike group and protesting. Since then, the leaders of the group, including Whitman sophomore Karla Stephan, have attended a September environmental activism forum hosted by the United Nations. Reflecting on our own community, a Black & White writer offered his analysis on how our county can improve its efforts to become carbon neutral, including curbing carbon emissions from buses, reducing student waste and prioritizing eco-friendly construction projects. But our climate is shifting more than just in its physical nature. The people and relationships that define where we live — another form of our environment — are just as
dynamic as our climate. As with the global climate crisis, we have to acknowledge and address issues within our local, regional and national environments, if we want to move past them and advance as a community. The first step in addressing these issues is understanding our influence on the environment; we control the shifts in our communities, our counties, our countries — and we control our response. After three reported racist incidents at Whitman last year, administrators created OneWhitman, a weekly homeroom intended for students to openly share their concerns and foster a more inclusive environment at school. When people in Montgomery County fell victim to the national teenage vaping illness epidemic, the county was quick to respond with an October lawsuit against e-cigarette company Juul for marketing to teens. In Hong Kong, 23-year-old Joshua Wong reacted to mainland China’s infringement on Hong Kong’s democratic processes by becoming a leading voice in the rising pro-democracy movement. But our environment isn’t just about change. Some things in our lives are constant, and those repetitive aspects are just as impactful as the major shifts. Business owner Nicole Olson is a perfect example; she has driven around an hour
from her farm to the Bethesda Central Farmers Market every Sunday for the past 15 years to sell produce with her family. Junior Sophia Rankin also finds solace in the constants in her life: She has been Irish dancing since she was three and calls it her “own secret world.” The comfort and familiarity of these constants provides a basis for the people we become. From these, we derive our character and recognize what matters most to us. That’s why we titled this magazine the environment issue; we wanted this topic to cover how we are all a part of a large series of overlapping environments — physical, cultural and social. Everyone reading this has some stake in the Whitman, Bethesda, national or global climate, and the basis of each of these communities is the cumulative connection between each of us. Of course, this magazine, an integral part of our daily environment, is the culmination of tireless work from our determined writers and editors, creative production team and skilled adviser, Ryan Derenberger. For the past few weeks producing this magazine, these people have been our immediate community. By reading this magazine, you’re an extension of our environment. And we’re an extension of yours.
Alex Robinson Editor-in-Chief
Katie Hanson Managing Editor
photo by KURUMI SATO
Max London Managing Editor
Issue 1, November 2019
TikTok: A matter of time before your video becomes viral
Students grapple with drinking, harassment at concerts
Teen chorus provides an open environment for LGBTQ students and allies
A writer’s perspective on being a first generation American
Solutions for MCPS’ carbon footprint
A rape survivor reflects on healing
A birdwatcher’s eye for photography
The county’s inadequate response to pedestrian deaths
A writer honors the living legacy of three alums
Merchants fill farmers market with self-made products, compassion
International students reflect on an American education
Whitman alum finds success in sports journalism
Students cope with the lasting impact of vaping
Students and professional athletes reflect on being a minority in sports
Administrators begin year with aim to enhance community
Junior Irish dances her way to a national ranking A writer’s perspective on student-led sister programs
Whitman cluster schools unite in message of inclusivity
Students mobilize to combat climate change Crossword: Order up!
Joshua Wong rallies Hong Kong democracy movement
Photo courtesy CAMERON DARNELL
BY C HLO E LE SSER
S O F FA ME
efore social media, the term “celebrity” was reserved for the stereotypically rich and famous: hollywood stars, billionaire entrepreneurs, professional athletes and the like. But, with new social media apps, fame is increasingly accessible. Today’s teens can reach thousands of views on the TikTok app without getting out of bed, spending a cent or wasting fifteen minutes — in most “TikToks,” people lip sync a song or do their interpretation of a popular trend within a five to 60 second video. Then, it’s shared. In 2017, the Chinese tech company Bytedance bought Musical.ly, a popular lip syncing app, and renamed it TikTok as part of a rebranding. While the original and current app don’t have many visual differences besides the name, TikTok has a much different culture than Musical.ly did, junior Mary-Austin Tutt said. “TikTok is more lighthearted than Musical.ly was,” Tutt said. “On Musical.ly it was all about trying really hard and perfectly lip syncing to a song. TikTok is a platform for my friends and I to just make dumb jokes that don’t require more than about 15 seconds of effort.” Just a year after the app was born, TikTok became the most downloaded free app in 2018 in the U.S., beating social media rivals Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram. A GlobalWebIndex study found that 41% of TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old. Whitman students are part of this demographic trend; in an informal survey of 50 students, 28 said that they have TikTok on their phone. Of those who have the app, over half use it at least three times a week. “It’s a very much Gen Z thing,” sophomore Leyla Nester said. “I couldn’t imagine anyone genuinely doing it who isn’t our age. It just wouldn’t make as much sense to people older than us.” According to the marketing agency Mediakix, Gen Z’s attention span is a mere eight seconds — the shortest of all living generations, beating even the millennials who have a 12 second average. The app is perfectly suited for today’s teens, but the quantity and accessibility of the videos makes the app more addictive for them too, adolescent psychologist Lisa Schlesinger said. “Teenagers want to access media as fast as possible, and being overloaded with that much content in a short time can be overwhelming and even addicting,” Schlesinger said. When sophomore Grace Mandeville gets home from school, the first thing she does is open the app. She spends at least one to two hours on the app every day, making short videos and scrolling through her feed to watch other teens perform dances, make jokes and mimic popular trendy videos. “I make TikToks during school and I make them at home,” Mandeville said. “I’m on TikTok just all the time.” While many of her peers only make TikTok videos for the entertainment of their friends, Mandeville has accumulated almost 10,000 followers and 80,000 likes in just over a year on the app. She isn’t the only Whitman student who has gained an audience of thousands. Junior Bella Grumet entered the world of TikTok in May after she saw her friends making videos at school when they had a break in class. After posting a video about her mom’s relationship with her best friend from high school, comparing pictures of them from 30 years ago to a clip of the two together now, her TikTok account gained
thousands of followers. Today, the video has over 7,000 comments, 500,000 likes and 2.6 million views. Bella now has over 22,000 followers. “It just blew up,” Bella said. “I got followers just because of that video, and people started tagging their friends in it.” Stephanie Grumet, Bella’s mom, was shocked by how many people saw the video. “It was delightfully surprising because it started as a simple expression of friendship,” Stephanie said. “We thought it would just be funny for Bella to make a TikTok.” Stephanie is neutral to Bella’s TikTok fame, she said, because she doesn’t really see any difference in her daughter’s life after her videos gained traction. Bella doesn’t regard her TikTok fame as any important type of achievement either. Instead, she’s embarrassed by it, she said. “A lot of people get famous just because they’re pretty, and they stare at the camera and roll their eyes back or something,” she said. “I don’t really think I did anything special. I think it’s funny that I’m ‘famous,’ but it’s not something I want to be known for.” Lukas Gates (‘19) started making TikTok videos in mid-January. Soon after, one of his first videos received 3,000 likes. Now, he has a following of 18,000 — many of whom he said are younger transgender kids who look up to him. “It’s crazy to think, ‘why me?’ I’m just a kid on a gap year,” Gates said. “But it’s rewarding in a sense. I rarely talk about my struggles with transphobia or anything else on the app, so it’s cool to use my platform to show trans kids that they can live a life and have an identity that’s separate from being trans.” Rather than using his platform to talk about his struggles and serious topics, Gates’ videos mainly consist of original jokes and lighthearted content. TikTok isn’t the right app for talking about hardships or heavy subjects, he said, because of how short the videos are. Although Gates likes the idea of people appreciating his content and relating to him, sometimes it’s scary because he feels the pressure of his 18,000 followers looking up to him, he said. For teens struggling to find their identity, it’s likely that internet fame would have this negative impact, Schlesinger said. “It’s already very hard to figure out who you are, but then to think that people are watching you and looking up to you all the time, you’ve got to be presenting a false self,” Schlesinger said. “You’re performing for a camera so it’s not really you; it’s whatever is going to get you the most likes.” Bella Grumet is a perspective writer and multimedia intern for The Black & White.
CHORUS BELTS OUT MESSAGE OF LOVE AND EQUALITY by Holly Adams The spotlight glowed on a group of teenagers wearing all black — black slacks, black button-down shirts, black shoes. The only color came from their matching vibrant, rainbow neckties, perfectly coordinated with the colors of the LGBTQ pride flag. Family, friends and community members locked their eyes on the stage in anticipation of the first performance of the night, and all 26 members of GenOUT, a D.C. based LGBTQ youth choir, looked back and began to sing. The members harmonized to inspirational lines like “you are a special work of art” and “become who you were meant to be” in front of a captivated audience at the September 21 “Silence the Violence” concert where local vocal groups raised awareness for gun violence. The passionate voices of GenOUT finished with the song “Give Us Hope,” belting the powerful lyric, “we are the future.” The messages from the performance represent the chorus’ mission: to give LGBTQ youth and their allies a voice and to connect that voice to the community. GenOUT is the youth branch of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, a chorus founded in 1981 with more than 250 members. GenOUT is a nondiscriminatory ensemble that doesn’t require an audition, and chorus members hail from 20 different schools in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Whitman junior Brennan Connell, a member of GenOUT for four years, describes the chorus’ mission as carrying a “torch” passed down from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington to the younger generation of the LGBTQ community. “We have an opportunity to do some-
thing to educate both adults and younger people about our community,” Connell said. “That’s something that adults can’t always do.” GenOUT has annual performances with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington but also performs throughout the year in various neighborhoods of D.C. to spread their message to more communities. These concerts include special performances at the Washington National Cathedral annually, the Lincoln Theatre three times a year, the Kennedy Center in 2015 and 2016, and even the White House, where GenOUT performed for former President Barack Obama three times in June 2016. Since the ensemble emphasizes inclusivity, any LGBTQ or allied youth ages 13 to 18 — “regardless of how they look, where they come from, their gender identity or their gender expression” — are welcome, no matter how much singing experience they have, director Paul Heins said. “Anyone who loves to sing and who is committed to using their voice to further the cause of social justice is welcome to join,” Heins said. Members of GenOUT look forward to seeing each other every Saturday morning for rehearsals to socialize in the judgement-free space. Members describe practices as silly, yet productive as they all work hard to learn their music for upcoming performances. Sometimes Heins mimes walking down stairs or plays short interludes on the piano to keep members entertained. Heins gives the group order, but, within that order, members are able to have some “fun and chaotic friendships,” said Bethesda Chevy-
Photo by HOLLY ADAMS GenOUT youth chorus performs at the September 21 “Silence the Violent Concert” in Washington D.C. , where local singing groups raised awareness for gun violence. Their performance included songs spreading love and acceptance such as “Give us Hope” and “We Can Be Kind.”
Chase High School junior Ella Trevelyan, who is a member of GenOUT. Before joining the chorus, all members must take a pledge to always advocate for each other and never tolerate bullying. It’s important for communities to see the faces and hear the voices of marginalized youth, Heins said. He has seen the positive impacts that GenOUT has had on its members, their families and their community. According to a June report by the FBI, hate crimes in America are still on the rise, and roughly one-fifth are committed based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In domestic and international climates that do not always accept such differences, youth need the opportunity to express themselves, Heins said. “I love the kids most of all,” Heins said. “They are wonderful people. They give me a lot of ideas to think about, and they give me hope for the coming years. They make really great music and really make a difference in the community.” Yolanda Richards, a cousin of a GenOUT member, feels “warm” when she hears GenOUT perform, she said. “It just brings tears to my eyes, how wonderful these kids are and how they’re promoting love regardless of where you come from, what you look like or who you love,” Richards said. “It’s just awesome.” David Chavez was in the audience at the “Silence the Violence” concert and said he admired the bravery of GenOUT members to share themselves through something as vulnerable as art. He thinks LGBTQ youth ensembles are important because, as an adolescent, it can be difficult feeling like you are the only one who is dealing with something, he said. “For other young people to see themselves in a group performing and saying ‘we’re here and we’re not ashamed of who we are’ is one of the best ways to break that feeling of being alone,” Chavez said. GenOUT’s goal is to spread positivity to their audiences through powerful lyrics; during their final song “We Can Be Kind” in their September concert members sang, “maybe we’ll find true peace of mind, if we always remember, we can be kind.” GenOUT is the supportive and kind community LGBTQ youth need, Trevelyan said. Members wear name tags to every practice with their preferred pronoun, eliminating any awkwardness and creating a safe space. “This is just such a unique space,” Trevelyan said. “There is literally nowhere else that I have been where it’s just queer youth coming together for a common cause: to sing together.”
The members of the 2018-2019 GenOUT chorus pose wearing their concert attire — black shirts and black pants with matching rainbow ties representing the LGBTQ pride flag. Photo courtesy PAUL HEINS.
MAYBE WE’LL FIND TRUE PEACE OF MIND, IF WE ALWAYS REMEMBER, WE CAN BE KIND 9
by Gabe Schaner
Senior Cameron Darnell amasses Instagram following from bird photography by Gabe Schaner
he flies were swarming, biting and buzzing, and the sun was beating down as midday struck. The swath of marsh that Cameron Darnell had called his home for the past two days smelled putrid. I have to get this picture, he told himself. Cameron waited patiently for any sign of life. Yet all he got in return was silence, except for the violent humming of insects. The sun began to set, giving the marsh a more relaxed hue. Just as his optimism began to draw low, all of a sudden, there it was, its simple, spotted frame complete with a sleek, black, hooked beak. Cameron positioned himself to get a shot of the majestic bird with the radiant marsh in the background. The perfect picture. This past summer, Cameron took a trip to Cape Cod, where he captured pictures of the whimbrel, a shore bird that typically resides on the west coast. On the east coast, it’s rare to find this type of bird during its period of migration. Nevertheless, he was able to get numerous pictures over three days because he had seen whimbrels there in past visits and researched sightings. Cameron photographs mostly birds but has also captured scenery and, while in Alaska, even whales. In June 2018, he began an Instagram account fully devoted to wildlife
photography, “camerondarnellphoto.” Cameron has also won several awards, including first place in the 2017 Massachusetts Audubon Photo Contest and the 2017 American Birding Association Young Birder of the Year award in photography. Cameron started as a bird watcher, but as his love for photography grew, the two interests merged. His love of birds started because “they can fly,” he said, but later he began to appreciate their diversity. He started taking pictures at age 10, when he saw someone photographing a deer, he said. After that, he got an entry-level camera and took off from there. “There are 10,000 species of birds in the world,” he said. “A lot of them are really beautiful, so they’re really aesthetically pleasing to photograph.” Cameron’s father, Robert Darnell, said that though he doesn’t specifically share Cameron’s love of birds, Cameron grew up in a nature-loving household. Robert and Christine Greenlees, Cameron’s mother, have done a great deal of driving, waking up early and travelling to nurture his passion for photography, Robert said. “My sense is that he just got to work and really wanted to preserve and share these
birds,” Robert said. Cameron wants to promote conservation and environmentalism through his photography, so on his Instagram page — which has over 1,540 followers — he writes captions highlighting that some of the species he photographs are disappearing rapidly. Conservation photography is about taking detailed photographs of endangered species that convince people to join the battle against that species’ peril, Cameron said. “I definitely feel like I’ve changed some minds over my time photographing birds and maybe helped people see the beauty of birds and realize that they really are under threat right now,” he said. Cameron’s dedication to each photograph helps him capture difficult pictures that other photographers fail to get, he said. He sometimes puts himself in unpleasant conditions, like getting up early, taking pictures in harsh climates or camping out on pungent grounds, in order to get good shots. “If it’s June, near the solstice, I’ll be getting up at around four, because I like to get to the location before sunrise,” he said. “The frame of light where it’s a half hour before sunrise to an hour after sunrise is when you get your best pictures.”
Clockwise from top left: Darnell blends in with his surroundings as he photographs a Louisiana waterthrush in Pennsylvania; an American oystercatcher strolls along the foam of the waves at a beach in New Jersey, where Darnell interupted a family photo shoot to capture the shot; a whimbrel perches in the mud in Cape Cod; the short-billed diwitcher picks up a worm at the Cape Cod National Seashore, where Darnell woke up before sunrise to capture the picture; a least tern mother feeds its chick. Photos courtesy RAY HENNESSY and CAMERON DARNELL
About two years ago, Cameron traveled to coastal Delaware to take pictures of the snowy owl while it was migrating from the Arctic. Immediately after stepping outside, gear in hand, Cameron realized he had made a grave mistake; he had forgotten to pack gloves. After a close-up photography session, it took hours of being in sweltering heat for his hands to recover, he recalled. This was his most memorable, unpleasant experience while shooting, but he doesn’t regret it at all, he said. Cameron’s photographs have been gaining reputability among the wildlife photography community; last August, he was a guest on “Wildlife Photo Cast,” a podcast dedicated to wildlife photography. The podcast’s co-creator Ray Hennessy first met Cameron a year and a half ago, after Cameron, an admirer, reached out to him via social media. Later, Cameron visited one of Hennessy’s photography workshops in New Jersey. Hennessy was so impressed by Camer-
on’s skill that he invited him to join him as a guest on the “Wildlife Photo Cast” pilot episode. About a year and a half ago, Cameron, along with the rest of the participants in Hennessy’s workshop on shore bird photography, went to a jetty in hopes of getting the perfect shot of the American oystercatcher, a small brown and white shore bird. After a couple of hours and no sightings, Cameron separated himself from the group, noticing one in the distance, relatively close to a family photoshoot. At one point, Cameron began crawling on all fours to get the ideal angle, not caring about the sand collecting on his clothes. But while Cameron continued adjusting his angles, the group struggled to stifle their laughter, realizing Cameron had encroached on a family’s photoshoot. Though funny, the tale also encompasses Cameron’s enthusiasm, fearlessness and willingness to do anything getting the shots he wants, Hennessy said. “He has no problem pushing himself to
really try and get the shot,” Hennessy said. Since he began bird photography, Cameron has improved a lot, he said. He called his first photos “terrible,” but after 10 years of experience he can name the calls of almost every North American bird species. He attributes a lot of his growth to Adobe Photoshop, which he uses to process his photos, his motivation to capture species who live outside of the area and his self-teaching through YouTube videos. He plans on continuing photography as a hobby instead of a profession after high school, he said. “Photography has definitely made me see more beauty in the world and kind of look at things through a more visual lens, just paying attention to the subtle changes in light that occur throughout the day, how beautiful the sunset is and small things in nature and in life that I didn’t notice before I started doing photography,” Cameron said. “In short, I have become more perceptive of stuff around me.”
Vision Zero is failing 12
by Emily London
artwork by Samantha Levine
n a cold February night in 2016, the Buarque de Macedo family began to make a left turn onto Braeburn Parkway from River Road. They were running late for the Whitman musical and had only five minutes before curtain call. But just as they made the turn, a BMW going 115 miles per hour down River Road — 70 miles over the speed limit — crashed into them, killing three members of the family and leaving the only survivor in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. This crash was a tragedy; community members grieved with a candlelight vigil, and students were heartbroken. However, in Montgomery County, tragic accidents like this one are all too common; the same year as the crash, there were 38 additional traffic deaths in the county. In 2016, Montgomery County implemented the Vision Zero plan, a public safety curriculum that seeks to completely eliminate traffic fatalities. But the plan is failing. Originally developed in Sweden in the 1990s, the Vision Zero program aims to change how governments deal with crashes. Since 2014, Vision Zero has reached over 30 U.S. cities and counties. Each area implements its own Vision Zero program differently but bases the plan on the same key principles: All crashes are preventable, lower speeds are necessary and roads need to be reengineered to account for human errors. “Vision Zero really embodies a recognition that humans make mistakes,” County Councilmember Hans Riemer said. “Transportation has to be designed to stop those mistakes from being fatal.” Vision Zero has saved many lives in other cities. In New York, the first U.S. city to adopt Vision Zero, traffic deaths fell from 299 in 2013 to 200 in 2018, the lowest levels ever. In Boston, fatal crashes fell 33% in just one year. Before 2016, Montgomery County had an average of 35 traffic deaths annually, a rate below the national average but significantly higher than that of other Maryland counties. Montgomery County implemented its own Vision Zero policy in February 2016. The goal was lofty: zero pedestrian deaths and severe injuries by 2030.
“The County Council saw cities like D.C., New York and San Francisco adopting Vision Zero,” said Wade Holland, a data analyst from the county executive’s office. “We felt this was an appropriate goal for us too.” Montgomery County hoped that by lowering total fatalities through the Vision Zero program, they could also lower the fatality rate for the county’s most vulnerable groups, County Councilmember Evan Glass said. The county felt Vision Zero’s absence had been the most dangerous to areas with lower income residents and larger minority populations. Hispanic and African American residents are less likely to own cars despite living in areas with infrastructure built for driving, according to data from the county’s Two Year Action Plan. There are a number of larger roads in these areas, but the road system isn’t safe for pedestrians. Bus stops and crosswalks are spaced far apart, making it difficult to cross 5- and 6-lane highways like Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue. These common factors have resulted in a 33% higher traffic fatality rate for people of color compared to that of white residents throughout the county. Crash rates are also higher for residents who are not fluent in English and residents in households below the poverty line. “The most dangerous roads run through some of the poorest neighborhoods,” said Wendy Leibowitz, a spokesperson for the Action Committee on Transit. “Plus, people in those neighborhoods might not have the time to organize and press authorities for change.” Montgomery County’s Vision Zero program began with a two-year action plan, which sets an interim goal of a 35% reduction in fatalities by November 2019. The initial plan included a 41-item checklist with projects in five categories: educating citizens, engineering roads, increasing traffic enforcement, improving emergency responses and implementing new policies. “Vision Zero touches nearly every county department and agency,” Holland said. However, the program is running far behind schedule. Out of those 41 pro-
grams, only 26 are running on schedule. Some projects, such as a grant program for businesses that teaches high-risk groups about safety, have been canceled altogether. The county hasn’t even started other projects, including the police department’s plan to buy more unmarked vehicles, even though the deadline passed over a year ago. The Vision Zero website, which was supposed to launch in November of 2017, was not finished until 18 months afterward. The two-year deadline of a 35% reduction in traffic fatalities is right around the corner, but Montgomery County is unlikely to reach that goal. According to county data from the first six months of this year, pedestrian fatalities have instead increased by 14%. No one has a definite answer as to why deaths have risen. Some, like Riemer, blame a rise in distracted driving. “I think crashes would be even worse if we hadn’t undertaken the initiative that we have,” Riemer said. “Unfortunately, the context is even more difficult and more urgent today than it was even two years ago.” Others, such as Glass, think the many Vision Zero programs running behind schedule are to blame for the increase in pedestrian fatalities. The program still doesn’t have a manager two years after its implementation. “We aren’t making as much progress as we need to be,” Glass said. “Too many people are dying.” Although, so far, Vision Zero hasn’t been as successful as many had hoped, David Anspacher, the transportation supervisor at the Montgomery County Planning Department, believes that Vision Zero has still had some positive impacts. “Vision Zero has redefined how people approach safety,” he said. “It’s at the forefront of every other project that we discuss.” But for many people, these small silver linings aren’t enough. “Too many people are being injured or dying on our roads, which shows that something isn’t working,” Glass said. “We have to do a better job.”
THE ART OF STORY TELLING BY SAM MULFORD
At the beginning of Pat McNees’ class at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, McNees’ 10 or so writers hardly knew each other. But by the end of the third week, most become “close friends,” McNees said. Twelve years ago, McNees started teaching “My Life, One Story at a Time,” a class designed to help adults capture their life experiences through short pieces of autobiographical writing. Throughout her career, McNees has found that people often withdraw from sharing their most significant life experiences with others. She said there are still stories that she’s just now hearing about from her friends from grade school. “We aren’t people living secret lives; there are just things we don’t know about each other,” McNees said. “Why would those things not be shared?” McNees and hundreds of memoir groups across the country are attempting to tell these stories. These groups help people put their stories on paper, either to reflect on later in their lives or to pass on to the next generation. McNees wasn’t always a storyteller. She worked in book publishing for eight years in New York and then became a freelance journalist and editor, writing articles for the Washington Post and local magazines. McNees first started storytelling 25 years ago when she belonged to the Amer-
ican Society of Journalists and Authors. The organization informed McNees of a job opportunity: A man was looking to hire a writer to interview his grandfather in Ohio. After being accepted for the job, she flew out to Dayton, Ohio, to meet and speak with Warren Webster, an older man who had lost both of his legs and his wife of 70 years. Webster’s grandson had hoped that hiring McNees would lift Webster out of his depression — and it worked. Just having someone show interest in his life made a huge difference, McNees said. McNees went to visit Webster about once a month over the course of several years and ended up publishing a book about his life: “An American Biography: An Industrialist Remembers the Twentieth Century.” “What turned everything around for me was doing that book,” McNees said. “All of a sudden, I decided I wanted to start working on the more human angle of things.”
Photo by CHARLIE SAGNER
McNees then began to write about other people’s life stories. The process of telling someone’s life story — from interviewing her clients to seeing their stories in print — is often “long and complicated” she said, so McNees only works on a couple of projects at a time. McNees begins the process by interviewing her clients, usually at their homes, then transcribing the interviews. Once the interviewing process is done, McNees will return home to write the narratives. She has helped publish over two dozen memoirs, most of which are published privately by the client’s families.
“WE AREN’T PEOPLE LIVING SECRET LIVES; THERE ARE JUST THINGS WE DONT KNOW ABOUT EACH OTHER” -PAT MCNEES
“It’s hard to describe how satisfying it is to tell someone’s life story,” McNees said. According to McNees, writing workshops can help strengthen self esteem and decrease depression and anxiety. Storytelling also helps people review their lives in almost a therapeutic way, she said. “Sometimes there are things that are really important to them that they might not even realize until they start
talking about it,” McNees said. After interviewing McNees, I decided to recreate the storytelling process with Whitman alumni. I definitely had my doubts. Would I ask the right questions? How would I get a stranger to be completely vulnerable with me? McNees told me that the most important part of the storytelling process is letting the subjects tell their own story and limiting your presence as much as possible. To get the best stories, she said, I should let the interviewee do 90% of the talking. There’s no one question that magically reveals the details you’re looking for; each person has different experiences. I reached out to Whitman alumns Pedro Labarca, Jonathon Lipson and Mara Hannula. Each had a different experience at Whitman: Labarca moved from Chile to Bethesda his freshman year, Lipson held office as a Student Member of the Board and Hannula studied abroad for part of her junior year. While all of them followed different paths, the experiences they had at Whitman shaped the rest of their lives.
PEDRO LABARCA ‘69 By the time Pedro Labarca moved to Bethesda, he had already lived in four other countries: Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina. In 1965, Labarca started his freshman year at Whitman. Although he had already gone to an English elementary school in Chile when he first started at Whitman, he realized he didn’t know the language as well as he thought he did. Labarca remembers turning on the television for the first time and not being able to understand a word anyone was saying. “As a kid I was shy, so when I came to this area it was a little bit of a shock,” Labarca said. “It was pretty tough adjusting to the language and everything.” Labarca said he picked up on the language quickly, and by the second semester of his freshman year, he was able to understand 90% of the content in any of his classes. Labarca re-
calls that in the sixties diversity at Whitman was almost non-existent. He was one of the few Latinos at the school and experienced dicrimination, such as name calling, from certain groups of students. As a defense mechanism, Labarca and the few other Spanish speaking students in his grade stuck together, he said. They sat in the same place in the cafeteria every day and played soccer together after school and on the weekends. “I regret that we were so isolated from the rest of the school,” Labarca said. “I had a few friends outside our little group that I wish I had reached out to more.” Labarca describes his experience at Whitman as “a blur,” since his main goal was to graduate and move back to Chile. “It was very surreal,” Labarca said. “I was just trying to navigate through school as quickly as possible.” As planned, Labarca went back to Chile after graduation to study engineering at university. But in 1973, everything changed: Military dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte overthrew then-President Salvadore Allende in a coup d’etat. After the coup, Chile became a very dangerous place to live, Labarca said. The Chilean government arrested Labarca’s sister for associating with friends who identified as socialists, and several of Labarca’s friends were also arrested for having political beliefs that didn’t align with the regime’s. Although Labarca never identified with a political party, he still felt like he was in a constant state of paranoia. “You had to go through your day being very careful of who you are talking to,” Labarca said. “You didn’t know who was an agent of the regime.” At the time, Labarca’s father was working for the Organization of American Studies in Chile. The director of the OAS in Washington D.C. called Labarca, so Labarca’s whole family moved back to the U.S. — his whole family, that is, except himself, because he wanted to stay in Chile to finish his studies. In Chile, the conditions continued to worsen. At one point, the curfew was 8:00 p.m., the government controlled all of the media, and Labarca witnessed the government strip away his rights and the rights of others, he said. Labarca said he felt emotionally “spent” and eventually decided that enough was enough; in 1977 Labarca decided to move back to the United States. Returning to America, Labarca took graduate courses at Washington University and eventually earned a job at the Inter-American
Development Bank where he worked for the next 25 years. Labarca is now retired, and has a daughter who goes to Whitman. “My life could have been very hard if I had stayed in Chile,” Labarca said. “I was one of the lucky ones to be able to go back to the United States and call the United States a home.”
JONATHAN LIPSON ‘82 Jonathan Lipson had always been involved in student government. In his junior year of high school, his classmate and then-Student Member of the Board Traci Williams (81’) encouraged Lipson to run for office as the next SMOB. “She thought I would do a good job,” Lipson said. “I had a lot of doubts, but she was able to persuade me to do it.” In 1981, Lipson was elected to succeed Williams as the second SMOB from Whitman and fourth SMOB overall. For Lipson, working on the Board of Education felt like a part time job and took up all his free time outside of school. He was working an average of 20 hours a week with the
BOE, going to meetings and reading budgets and projections. In the early 1980s, the demographics of Montgomery County were changing rapidly because the country was on the downside of the baby boom. There were significantly fewer students in the public school system than there had been merely 10 years earlier. So when Lipson came into office, the county was in the process of closing about 25 to 30 of its schools. “I ended up walking into one of the most difficult years the school board had faced in many years,” Lipson said. “I don’t think the school board had ever had to close that many schools before.” Lipson said the schools being considered for closure were overwhelmingly in areas that served underprivileged communities; part of the conservatives’ plan included closing Montgomery Blair High School. During his time on the BOE, Lipson identified as a moderate Republican, but while his views were fiscally conservative, they were socially more liberal. “I considered myself a Republican,” Lipson said. “But I felt like what the Republicans were trying to do was pretty obviously discriminatory.” At that time, the SMOB was not able to vote for BOE policies, so Lipson didn’t have any real political influence, he said. Instead, he cast a symbolic vote for or against decisions or, in many cases, abstain from voting. “I would make a point to abstain from voting over the closure of schools because of course I wasn’t elected by residents, I was elected by the students,” Lipson said. “I didn’t understand the lives of those in the communities well enough to make that decision.” At the last meeting of Lipson’s term as SMOB, the board hosted a hearing where, they considered the conservatives plan. Lipson delivered what he recalls as a very “heated” speech as a testimony against the conservatives’ proposal. There were a lot of people and press in attendance, and he said he remembers being nervous, but also angry. “Every once in a while, you need to stand up for what you think is right, even if it’s scary,” Lipson said. “I felt it was the right thing to do.” Lipson’s speech ended up making the front page of the Washington Post. After the hearing, the Civil Rights Commission of the U.S. Justice Department opened an investi-
gation into the school board’s proposal and saved Blair from closure. Eventually, their plans failed and Blair was closed temporarily, although Lipson was no longer the SMOB at that point.
“EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, YOU NEED TO STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT, EVEN IF IT’S SCARY” -JONATHAN LIPSON
“I didn’t do much as SMOB, but I think my speech may have ended up saving Blair High School,” Lipson said. Although serving on the board was a tremendous experience, Lipson is not sure if he would have chosen to do it if he knew how tough it was going to be, he said. “It was very difficult,” Lipson said. “Politics can be really bloody and nasty.” Looking back on his high school experiences, Lipson said he learned a lot from being
a SMOB and working alongside people with different political values than him. “I learned that you can disagree with people very strongly and still get along with them,” Lipson said. “It’s a really important skill to have.” After graduating, Lipson began his college education at the University of Maryland but then transferred to the University of Wisconsin. Lipson now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is a law professor at Temple University.
MARA HANNULA ‘84 When Mara Hannula was a high school student, she was convinced she would become a doctor because she loved math and science. In her sophomore year, Whitman offered its first Japanese class. Up to that point, Hannula had taken only Spanish, but that year she decided to switch over to Japanese. In the 1980s, Japanese was not commonly taught in schools, and Hannula thought that taking the class would be a unique opportunity. “I wanted to try something new,” Hannula said. “The class struck me as being really unusual and different.” Japanese quickly became Hannula’s favorite class — she loved learning about the culture and language, and she especially loved her teacher, Mrs. Morden. Hannula ended up taking Japanese for the last three years of high school. She had always loved to travel — when she was little, she named her stuffed animals after famous international cities and dreamed of traveling the world — so when she got the opportunity to go to Japan with her class for three and a half weeks, she jumped at the opportunity, she said. For the first two weeks of her trip, Hannula stayed with a Japanese family who didn’t speak any English; she was the first American they had ever met. At the time, not a lot of Americans regularly traveled to Japan. Hannula remembers her host family bought her McDonald’s for breakfast because that’s all they knew Americans ate. For the rest of the trip, Hannula traveled with her class all over Japan. They visited Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka. Since Hannula spoke some Japanese, she felt like she and her classmates weren’t just tourists; rather, they were really submerged in the culture. “It gave me exposure to another culture,” Hannula said. “The food, the people and the customs, were nothing like I had ever experi-
enced before. It showed me how much I didn’t know about the rest of the world.” The trip really solidified her passion for culture, she said, so going into college, she was even more unsure of her career trajectory. At the University of Michigan, she started on a pre-med track, but switched majors first to Japanese and then later to Psychology. After college, she worked for the Institute of International Education and then Marriott Hotels. Hannula has worked at Marriott for the past 23 years. There, Hannula started off as director of travel agency sales, where she helped set up rates and see hotel rooms for different travel agencies. Hannula also worked in a commerce role, helping market Marriott’s website. “The first year we started taking hotel reservations online, we made about $1.5 million, and then 10 years later we were making $10 billion,” Hannula said. Now, Hannula works on brand marketing for Marriot. In her position, she tries to focus on hiring women, she said. When she was first hired, there were not a lot of women working in the digital space so her mission in her career is to hire young women, especially young women with children. “At the time, working from home was something that you didn’t usually do,” Hannula said. “I had to convince my boss to let me work from home sometimes.” Although she could never have imagined staying at the same company for 23 years, she has no intention of leaving her job in the near future. “I love what I do,” Hannula said. “And I’ve been able to go to all of these places that I dreamed of when I was younger.”
MY EXPERIENCE At the end of each interview, I asked each person if they would theoretically be interested in getting their stories transcribed and privately published — like what McNees does with her clients. None of them definitively said “yes” or “no,” but all offered the same question: “Who would care?” The truth is that people don’t usually feel they have a story worth telling. Not everyone has a life-or-death moment, but their stories still matter. The act of telling a story helps one better understand their own paths. Labarca said that after telling me his story, he felt privileged that he was able to move back to the United States, something not everyone who lived in Chile in the 1970s was able to do. The act of telling a story also helps others appreciate their own life experiences. After listening to Labarca, Lipson and Hannula, I realized that the things they were passionate about in high school, such as a favorite class or extra curricular, stayed with them into their lives, even if it didn’t end up being their career. I know mine, and I’m grateful for knowing it will likely stay with me. Not everyone has the time to go through a storytelling process as extensive as McNees’, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try harder to tell and listen to the stories of people around us. As McNees told me, we need more young people to be “genuinely curious.” So listen to your family, friends and the people in your community — you would be surprised by what you might learn.
Every Sunday morning, junior Julia Walsh leaves her house and drives to Bethesda Elementary School, armed with a reusable tote bag and enough cash to buy all the fresh produce and baked goods she could dream of at the Bethesda Central Farmers Market. A morning mix of productivity and relaxation is exactly what Walsh expects from the farmers market. Hosting over 60 vendors every week, the Bethesda Central Farm Market is one of the largest farmers markets in the D.C. area. “I like how the community really comes together when they go to the farmers market,” Walsh said. “Although, most of the time I just come to see the dogs.” With stands ranging from an award-winning chocolate brand to an exotic flower grower, there are countless unique vendors at the farmers market for dogs and humans alike to sniff their way through. Here are just a few:
In a pickle? The Bethesda Central Farmers Market has the produce you need by Emily London
While living in Guatemala, Chocotenango owner Ismael Neggaz “fell in love with chocolate,” he said. Neggaz, who has been a pastry chef since 1994, has traveled around the world working in restaurants. He has lived on four different continents and has worked at high-end restaurants in London, D.C. and Boston. But he always wanted to start his own business, Neggaz said. He founded Chocotenango, an artisan chocolate business, in 2005. The brand became extremely popular in Guatemala quickly after its opening, but Neggaz closed the store to move to D.C., since his wife was offered a job in the U.S. He worked in another restaurant for a few years before deciding that he wanted to restart his chocolate business. Ever since, Chocotenango has flourished, growing through online sales and farmers market appearances. “I hated having a boss,” Neggaz said. “I really wanted to be my own.” Chocotenango chocolate is made entirely from scratch with beans from a small organic cocoa farmer in the Dominican Republic. Although Chocotenango is locally based, it often receives international recognition. Since its founding, the business has won 18 international chocolate awards, and last year, Neggaz’s chocolate won a silver award in the International Chocolate Awards competition. “When I make chocolate, I make it good,” Neggaz said.
Master’s Touch Plants and Produce
Mark Bishop, owner of Master’s Touch Plants and Produce, likes growing unconventional products. His plants and produce are “international, exotic and rare.” “I got bored with the same old, same old, so I wanted to experiment,” Bishop said. “We got more bizarre as time
went on.” Bishop started his business 15 years ago, after his son graduated from high school. He had always gardened, but it wasn’t until his son helped him that he turned his hobby into a business. Now, his son is married and has moved away but still helps out at the farm once a week. Bishop’s products range from grow-your-own turmeric plants to four different varieties of hot peppers, all grown in hand-constructed greenhouses. He sells at three different farmers markets each week, with Bethesda being the largest. For Bishop, experimenting with what he grows makes his job more interesting. “We like the weird stuff,” he said. “I think other people do too.”
Heirloom Kitchen, run by chef Christine Ilich, is dedicated to being eco-conscious. Ilich sells vegetarian and vegan soups made with seasonal, local vegetables, all packaged in compostable containers. Everything she grows is pesticide-free. “I don’t spray anything,” Ilich said. “If a bug or a critter gets to my tomatoes, I just deal with it.” Ilich was a professional chef in New York before she decided to move out to the Virginia countryside and live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. She grows a majority of her ingredients in her own garden and buys the rest from other vendors at the farmers market. Ilich also sells other products, like hummus and ratatouille, but soup is her biggest seller. “People love soups, and I’m really good at making soup,” Ilich said. “I thought that would be a really creative way of using a lot of different vegetables and herbs.”
If a product can have lavender in it, Lovemore Lavender probably sells it. The Calvert County based farm has been making everything from lavender-scented bracelets to lavender-flavored honey for eight years. “What lavender does is it relaxes you and it de-stresses you,” Lovemore Lavender owner Maria Loveless said. In addition to the array of lavender products, Lovemore Lavender Farm offers a tea room and a pick-your-own lavender field at their farm. They also have a field that customers can rent specifically for Insta-worthy photoshoots. The farm, founded in the 1940s, has existed for four generations, but the Loveless family hasn’t always sold lavender. In the past, they grew tobacco and vegetables. They switched to lavender to distinguish their company. “Everybody does vegetables,” Loveless said. “We wanted to do something different.”
Two Acre Farm
For Nicole Olson, the owner of Two Acre Farm, family and farming go together. She and her husband bought a farm 18 years ago, right before her first son was born. Ever since, her whole family has worked on the farm, including her two teenage sons. In addition to farming together, the family sells their products together. Olson owns the stand next door at the market, called The Brinery at Two Acre Farm. It sells pickles, while Two Acre farm sells vegetables and salsa. Her sons often join her at the market to help manage the booths. Olson has been coming to the Bethesda farmers market for over 15 years, and says that the community aspect of farmers markets is what makes her love farming. “They have seen my kids grow up, and I’ve seen their kids grow up,” Olson said. “The camaraderie is awesome.”
Photos by ANNABEL REDISCH
Alex Chappell (‘06) watches from the sidelines — and enjoys it by Ella Adams
lex Chappell (‘06) was the voice of the morning announcements Monday through Thursday and host of Friday’s televised news at Whitman during her junior and senior year. Thirteen years later, Chappell has moved from broadcasting Whitman news to reporting on some of the biggest stars in baseball, like the Washington Nationals’ left fielder Juan Soto, third baseman Anthony Rendon and pitcher Max Scherzer. When Chappell graduated, the football field had real grass, there were no portables, Dr. Alan Goodwin was principal and Chappell was still unsure of what she wanted to do for a living. She stumbled upon sports journalism by complete coincidence while studying at the University of Alabama. “I signed up for the radio station my first week on campus, and they had an opening to cover the football team,” Chappell said. “I found my passion and followed the path of sports broadcasting.” Chappell is in her first year at the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), where she covers the Nationals as a sideline reporter. Chappell previously worked as a freelance sideline reporter for ESPN, a sports reporter for a CBS affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama, and a reporter for WHDH, a local network covering the four major sports teams in Boston. In 2017, Chappell was assigned to be a pregame and postgame reporter for a year with the Tampa Bay Rays, a Major League Baseball team. She said the experience taught her the basics of covering a MLB team. Chappell wanted to eventually work in D.C. to fulfill her dream of being a reporter for her hometown team. Through a colleague, she heard that Dan Kolko, the former Nationals sideline reporter at MASN, was going to be promoted. She immediately compiled a resume tape that included a few of her past interviews and reached out to the network. When MASN offered her the position, she was beyond thrilled, she said. “It was about finding the right position and the right fit,” Chappell said. “I wanted to be here back in my hometown. It was all about timing, luck and how I positioned myself. It all came together.” Chappell’s first season with the Nationals came the year after right fielder Bryce Harper left the team, so she saw firsthand the Nats struggling with the loss of their star player in the beginning of the season. “There are definitely challenges with covering a team that isn’t performing how people had expected,” Chappell said. “You want to find the positive stories, and there is definitely a challenge in that. It’s about remembering you have a job to do and taking the emotional side out of it. And whether you’re winning or losing, there is going to be a bright star of the game.” Chappell had a front row seat to see the Nats’ comeback this season, and, although many doubted them, the Nationals stuck to their
season motto and “Stayed in the Fight.” True to form, they finished their season strong and went to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. “Everyone had counted them out, and getting to cover a team that completely turned the season around and shocked the sports world was really exciting to be part of,” Chappell said. Chappell starts each day by listening to her interviews with the players and coaches from the day before the game and preparing questions and the angle of the story for the upcoming game broadcast. She arrives at the Nationals Clubhouse, which houses the locker room and coaches’ offices, at 3 p.m., and by 3:20 p.m., she starts interviewing players. From 4:20 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., she and other members of the media have a press conference with Nationals manager Davey Martinez before Chappell finalizes her story for the pre-game show on MASN. By first pitch at 7:05 p.m., she gives her producer her story, then sits in the National’s dugout with the cameras ready. Covering the Nationals, Chappell has faced criticism and discrimination as a woman in the sports industry, she said. Most of the hate comes from other women commenting on how she dresses or how she lacks baseball knowledge, she said. In these instances, she tries to focus on the positive, a lesson she learned from her mom. “There’s no way you can avoid it; we [female sports reporters] are just in a position where we’re going to get it,” Chappell said. “You have to look at it as a 90-10 rule. If 90% is pretty positive, then the other 10% just have their own agenda. But if someone is questioning your knowledge of the game or not liking the report, then that is how you can try and change their mind.” Dealing with this discrimination, Chappell also draws on lessons she learned years ago at Whitman. She remembers making close friends, learning from good teachers and performing every Friday in front of the whole school with the Poms team. But most importantly, she recalls the atmosphere of kindness and carries that attitude with her. “Be kind to people, that was one thing at Whitman,” Chappell said. “I just tried to talk to everyone and have a lot of different friends. High school is hard enough — just be nice.” Chappell covered the Nats’ postseason for TBS. Her coverage included the Nationals vs. Dodgers series, which led to an on-field interview with second baseman Howie Kendrick after. His grand slam won the game and led the Nats to the National League Central Series for the first time since the franchise moved to D.C. After the victory, dances erupted in the Nats’ dugout. “For me to come home, work at a great network with amazing people and cover my hometown team: This is my dream job,” Chappell said.
Clockwise from top: Alex Chappell watches as shortstop Trea Turner gets soaked after hitting a walkoff homerun in the Nationals’ first win of the season; Chappell reports from Dodger Stadium; Nationals’ center fielder Víctor Robles pours Gatorade over third baseman Anthony Rendon and Chappell; Chappell interviews first baseman Matt Adams after his seven RBI game on Father’s Day last June. Photos courtesy ALEX CHAPPELL
On the outside looking in Being a black athlete in a majority white sport by Reuben Stoll March 1, I sat in my government class anxiously waiting for the end of the day. When the clock struck 2:30 p.m., I was bouncing with excitement like every other Whitman lacrosse player. It was the first day of the season. I walked to the locker room, then to the field, visualizing the games to come, hoping each expectation would become a reality; dreams of beating Churchill and winning the division clouded my head. I was ecstatic to once again be surrounded by my teammates, my brothers. Even though my teammates and I love the same game, something always feels a little different for me. While March brings a feeling of excitement for the new season, it also incites anxiety. I am the only person on the team of African American descent; it’s lonely and sometimes tense. The locker room always makes this more evident, more so sometimes than when our jerseys and pads are on. In the summer of eighth grade, I also played on a team where I was the only black player. In my whole lacrosse career, I have been on the same team with only five other black players in total. In my seven years of experience, it has also been unusual to play against another black athlete, even in a tournament with hundreds of participants. When I was younger, I assumed it was just as normal for black athletes to play lacrosse as any other sport. But as I got older, I realized that lacrosse is dominated by mostly affluent white players. This is true for most sports in Bethesda and at Whitman specifically; 68.8% of the student body at Whitman is white while only 3.5% of students are black, according to Whitman’s school profile. Each August, Whitman defensive end Solomon Adeoti and running back and punter Alante Dorsey wake up at 8:00 a.m. for their first day of Whitman football practice. They’re as giddy as I am on my first days, they said. The loneliness sets in when they’re on the field; they make up two of four black players on a team of 38. “It definitely feels weird that I am one of the only black kids, and it’s very noticeable,” Adeoti said. Though Adeoti felt that, racially, his experiences practicing with his teammates were uneventful, when he played against other teams, the differences were obvious. “Players on other teams will call me out,” Adeoti said. “They will ask me if I’m the only black kid on the team in a joking fashion. After the game against WJ, some of the students found my Instagram and started directly messaging me because I was one of the only black kids on the team.” Adeoti was born in Livingston, New Jersey, then moved to Nigeria where his parents are originally from. In middle school, he moved to England, where he went to boarding school. There, Adeoti was a part of a more
diverse group of students. But now landing here at Whitman, he had to develop his own place in the community. He first moved to Bethesda three and a half years ago. “I felt very lonely when I first came to Whitman,” Adeoti said. “It definitely felt weird being such a minority and hearing people use the N-word.” We black minority athletes often have to walk a fine line. We’re held to different standards. We can’t stretch the rules because then you’ll stand out — then you’ll just be the “black kid.” You don’t want to stand out, but it’s hard not to react when you face discrimation on the field. This summer, in a Whitman game, a white player on the opposite team exclaimed, “these n----s suck.” Though I felt upset, all I did was play the hardest I could and let the scoreboard show my emotions. Racism isn’t just a couple of isolated incidents in high school; it takes place on the college field too. In seventh grade, professional lacrosse player Mark Ellis picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time. “I was always the most athletic kid in the sports I played,” Ellis said. “I grew up always playing football.” Ellis is from a family with a lineage of Jamaican coal miners and has lived in New York for most of his life. He played lacrosse for Stony Brook University in his home state. In his senior year, Ellis transferred to play for Hofstra University, and he is now one of the strength and conditioning coaches for the school. He also currently plays professionally for the New York Lizards, the state’s professional lacrosse team. When he first started playing lacrosse in middle school, he didn’t have any equipment on the first day of tryouts. He got everything from his coach, including the stick that would become so familiar to him. “My friends convinced me to sign up for lacrosse, and they said I would be good at defense, so that’s what I did,” Ellis said. “My coach told me to practice ground balls, so when I went home, I practiced on the concrete and my stick ripped.” He found that these small mistakes and growing pains were the problems of any new player, but as the only person of color on the field, the difference between Ellis and the others was obvious. “I didn’t know that there weren’t any black kids that played lacrosse,” he said. “As a kid, my mom always told me to be different, and I definitely was.” It wasn’t until he went to a prep school in Connecticut his senior year that he crossed sticks with another black player. “I have definitely experienced some racist things on the field by other players,” Ellis said. “There is really nothing you can do about it. You just have to take it and
let the scoreboard shove it in their face.” Ellis was in high school playing in a summer league when he heard an opposing white player murmur “Relax, n---a.” “If I was called a ‘n---a,’ I wanted to make sure that I was the best n---a they’d ever seen play the game of lacrosse,” Ellis said. When Ellis was at Hofstra, he experienced another racist incident on the field. As he was playing against Fairfield University, another player on Ellis’ team was called a n-----. “In the handshake line, I grabbed his jersey,” Ellis said. “My teammates stopped me from taking it too far.” Just one state away, in Providence, Rhode Island, recently retired professional lacrosse player Chazz Woodson went through similar experiences at Brown University years ago. Woodson was very young when he started playing lacrosse. He grew up around the game because his father was a coach. Woodson was raised in Norfolk, Virginia, and played lacrosse throughout his childhood. After graduating from Brown, he had a long, decorated professional lacrosse career from 2005 to 2017. “It wasn’t really a big deal to me until I had the platform to impact others’ experiences,” Woodson said. “Part of that was cool to me: I’m doing something that not a lot of other people that look like me are doing.” Woodson felt racism from both sides of the field, with one incident involving a teammate and another an opposing player. “I was called a n-----,” Woodson said. “Coming home from a game, it happened when I was leaving the locker room. I just kept moving.” On the field, the same thing happened. “I was very upset in the moment,” he said. “I had to pull myself off the field to calm down.” At the start of each season, I remind myself of stories like theirs and of my own memories. I remind myself that I’m not alone when I hear the N-word get tossed around during games by white players and when I hear fans target me specifically because of my skin color. Yes, it has happened to me too. And if you play a sport and have any black teammates, it has probably happened to them. Racism in sports exists, and we have to do better as a community to first recognize that, and second, fix it. Every day I wear the OneWhitman bracelet to remind myself that I have a great band of people behind me who will support me through anything I go through on or off the field. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to see all the fields populated with more black players.
We can’t stretch
the rules because then you’ll
stand out then you’ll just be the “BLACK KID” 23
very Wednesday for the past month, the students in English teacher Christopher Williams’ OneWhitman period have taken a step back from their classes in between second and third period to reflect amongst their peers. For senior Caroline Hatcher, participating in OneWhitman has allowed her to forge new connections and rekindle old ones; she has spent the last four years in homeroom with the same students, but they had never interacted much in class before, she said. “I’ve really liked talking to the OneWhitman kids in my group,” Hatcher said. “A lot of them I used to be friends with in elementary or middle school and aren’t anymore. Just that reconnecting and new connections has been a lot of fun.” Experiences like Hatcher’s encapsulate the goals of the OneWhitman program: to create a more inclusive environment for all students and prompt students to engage in meaningful conversations. The program reflects a growing trend across MCPS to expand policies around inclusivity, said MCPS Public Information Director Derek Turner. While Montgomery County provides a basic framework of anti-discrimination laws, MCPS’ central office continues to implement its own policies and programs on inclusion, giving schools the necessary tools to assess their own issues. “Each school needs to have a program that fits the needs of their school community but nevertheless helps to promote a school system that’s tolerant,” Board of Education member Patricia O’Neill said. Three racist incidents in the Whitman community last year prompted the push to improve the school environment for all students. Over the course of last school year, a student posted a racist paragraph with the n-word on social media, two students posted on social media wearing blackface and captioned the picture with the n-word, and another student used the n-word as a screen name for Kahoot — a quiz game where questions and usernames are projected on the board. To proactively prevent incidents like these, administrators created the Coalition on Race, Equity and Wellness, a council that tailors the Anti-Defamation League curriculum to individual schools’ needs. Both the coalition and OneWhitman fall under Whitman’s partnership with the ADL’s No Place for Hate initiative. The ADL is an anti-discrimation organization, originally founded to combat rising anti-semitism. Since its inception in 1913, the ADL has expanded into the education sector, helping schools to combat intolerance with structured lesson plans. The ADL has designated Whitman as a No Place for Hate partner, a title that acts as a measurement for schools that promote positive classroom discussions. OneWhitman’s open group discussions in community circles aim to illuminate biases and their effects on
each student population. Students will eventually discuss challenging social issues about race and identity in these weekly community circles. Administrators have opted for lighter topics in the opening weeks of the program, hoping that these early sessions will build stronger connections between students before classes delve into more challenging topics. “We want our OneWhitman classes to build a sense of community first,” assistant principal Phillip Yarborough said. “That initial trust is crucial for having these types of difficult conversations.” Another goal of the program is to foster closer relationships between students and staff, Principal Robert Dodd said. During the second semester last year, Study Circle, a student focus group, released a survey which assessed emotional security in school. Students responded that they felt emotionally uncomfortable in school, prompting administratiors to make immediate changes. “The findings told administration clearly that students felt like teachers didn’t care about them as an individual,” Yarborough said. “They felt like their relationship with staff didn’t provide them with a safe space.”
We want our OneWhitman classes to build a sense of community first. That initial trust is crucial for having these types of difficult conversations. -assistant principal Phillip Yarborough English teacher Danielle Fus looks forward to strengthening relationships between staff and students through OneWhitman, she said. “I’m really excited about the fact that I’ve had these students in my homeroom for the last four years, and I’m actually getting to know a little bit about them,” Fus said. Senior Racheal Adeoti thinks the program could be a solution to ignorance in the Whitman community, she said. “There’s this ‘Whitman bubble,’ and people can be quite ignorant and one sided,” Adeoti said. “I hope this unifies everyone and makes people more open to different perspectives.” The addition of the coalition was an important requirement for Whitman to become a No Place for Hate school, Dodd said. Ten students, nominated by teachers and selected by administrators, are part of the coalition. All had previously showed interest in improving the culture and climate at Whitman, Dodd said. The coalition is split into four subcommittees: OneWhitman, Parent Engagement,
Student Wellness and Beyond the Classroom. The subcommittees, each comprised of students, teachers and parents, give constructive feedback to one another to better articulate the coalition’s outreach. The subcommittees are split into different aims to uniquely engage staff, students and parents both during and after school. Specifically, the committee on community engagement will be focused on “activities outside of OneWhitman,” staff development teacher Anne Chiasson said, to target the Whitman community after school hours in a more social environment. “The students are the ones who experience this environment,” Dodd said. “We need to have a variety of perspectives to understand what Whitman is and therefore develop plans for what it could be.” The student members of the Coalition on Race, Equity and Wellness represent a diverse background of opinions and perspectives from the high school community. For gender nonbinary sophomore Leo Levine, whom administrators recently appointed to the coalition, the board provides an opportunity to create a more LGBTQ-friendly environment, they said. “I’m hoping that we get to address the issues that a lot of the student body doesn’t recognize, like our school’s transphobia, homophobia and ableism,” Levine said. Some students have expressed concerns about OneWhitman. “People go, but they don’t take it too seriously, and it’s also too long,” freshman Max Ohm said. “It doesn’t need to be 45 minutes.” Other students don’t believe they will form close relationships with peers in their OneWhitman period. “You don’t really bond with people because they have similar last names,” junior Jorian Benke said. “There are people in there that you have interacted with for years, and you already have opinions of them.” Those who are optimistic about OneWhitman’s outcomes understand that it may be some time before any real change materializes. “I don’t know that by the end of this year we’ll be able to reach our goals with OneWhitman, but I think that after this year, next year or maybe a couple more years of this, students will be more accustomed and open to a group discussion,” Hatcher said. “I think over time it will help move Whitman toward our goal of acceptance and comfort within the community.” The Black & White adviser Ryan Derenberger and online managing editor Anna Yuan serve on the Council on Race, Equity and Wellness.
Whitman cluster combats bias and bullying... by Sammy Heberlee This school year, Whitman, Pyle and their five feeder elementary schools made history as the first full cluster of schools nationwide to join the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate program. The Whitman-cluster schools entered into a three-year commitment to the program last spring. The first year of the program focuses on building a committee of students, staff and parents at each school and requires the schools to implement a No Place for Hate activity. Students on SGA are the first to participate in the committee before it opens up to all students. In years two and three, schools must implement at least three new activities that the ADL has created and students on the No Place for Hate committee have modified. Though there was a 25% drop in the number of bias incidents in the county last year, there were still 76 reported bias incidents, 21 of which happened in or near a school facility, according to a report from state police and the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center. The No Place for Hate program aims to rectify this issue at schools. Founded in 1999 as a means to combat bias and bullying in schools across the world, the ADL’s No Place for Hate program seeks to encourage inclusivity through meaningful discussions and activities that engage students, staff and community members. Twenty years later, there are over 1,600 schools across the country and more than 80 schools in the D.C. area designated as “No Place for Hate” schools. After Principal Robert Dodd began discussions with the ADL last spring and started the application process, the other six principals from the Whitman cluster decided to pilot the program at their respective schools. In addition to the in-school commit-
tees, the No Place for Hate coordinators, designated teachers and administrators from each school formed a Whitman cluster committee that meets regularly. The committee maintains communication by using a shared Google Drive folder to update each other on their plans for classroom lessons and schoolwide activities. The lessons and activities in the elementary schools will begin in full in the second quarter. “We’re all really on the same page,” Bannockburn Elementary School Principal Kathryn Bradley said. “It’s a fabulous work group. Everyone is very engaged.” At Wood Acres Elementary School, there are some students who aren’t aware of underlying racial, gender and equity issues, but there are others whom staff have reprimanded for using hate speech, Wood Acres Principal Marita Sherburne said. Teachers and administrators, instead of being accusatory, try to help students understand why those words are disproportionately damaging to others. “No Place for Hate needs to start in elementary schools because of the internet,” Wood Acres teacher Steven Parker said. “Kids younger and younger are getting exposed to hate language and they’re saying things in elementary school that I never would have thought I’d ever hear in elementary school, things I didn’t even know they were aware of.” The No Place for Hate program doesn’t require administrators to eliminate their existing classroom activities. Instead, it allows them to refine the activities to meet the program’s guidelines or to create additional lessons using ideas from other No Place for Hate schools. At Wood Acres, administrators are expanding upon their weekly counselor sessions that include bias and bullying prevention lessons to create a program called “We Are Wood Acres.” Similarly, Bannockburn is building on its character trait development program by implementing “Bobcats Belong,” a program where students examine what it means to be
...with No Place for Hate program kind, empathetic and respectful. Pyle is continuing its own character program, incorporating additional lessons throughout the year during TAG, a study hall period, to focus on accepting differences and diversity, Pyle Principal Christopher Nardi said. “We’re all moving through the process, but I think each school is at a different place depending on what they have done prior to joining No Place for Hate,” Sherburne said. The activities at all five feeder schools will be similar to the OneWhitman initiative, a program of weekly student discussion circles on school environment at Whitman. The other schools’ activities will be simplified to cater to younger students. But despite the age of the students and the locations of the school, the themes remain the same, with an emphasis on diversity and confronting issues of bias and bullying, Bannockburn Assistant Principal Sweda Zaks said. Students need to learn how to identify and resist bias and bullying because of its prevalence in the real world, Parker said. “To be perfectly honest, our political leaders are saying things that they would get in trouble in elementary school for saying,” Parker said. Administrative teams from each school participated in a webinar over the summer to familiarize themselves with the ADL and learn what the threeyear commitment requires. Michelle Magner, the ADL representative for the Whitman cluster, has remained in contact with the principals since the webinar with weekly email check-ins and occasional school visits. Magner’s role is to facilitate and support the schools, rather than to issue stiff instructions and strict rules, she said. “No Place for Hate is not prescriptive,” Magner said. “It can be molded to the school community.” Aside from having activities throughout the year, having a committee of students, staff and parents, as
well as having all students sign a No Place for Hate pledge are central aspects of the program. Whitman has already finalized its No Place For Hate committee with student, staff and parent members alike. The other five schools in the Whitman cluster are in the process of selecting and forming theirs, first including student government representatives and eventually opening it up to any other interested students. “Students’ opinions will absolutely be important,” Bradley said. “It has to be meaningful, and it can’t just be something that we tell them to do because you can’t tell kids how to think, even at this young age.” Zaks added that administrators are encouraging students to come up with lessons because students may better understand which activities will elicit a positive response from their peers. The student perspective is vital to the program’s success and what makes No Place for Hate unique, Magner said. The kids are creating the activities and guiding the conversation to focus on what they believe are the areas of improvement for their school. “That’s really the big change for schools,” Magner said. “They’re really looking to see what their students think and feel about these activities and having the students present those activities to their peers.” Bannockburn is holding a town hall meeting with the students to introduce the Bobcats Belong program and discuss what diversity means. At the meeting, every student will sign the No Place for Hate pledge as proof of their commitment to making their school a more inclusive environment. “Our children are watching and learning from the adults in their lives, so it’s our responsibility as their teachers and educators to model what we expect to see of them,” Bradley said. “It’s important that the programs help the younger kids become leaders, so they can be involved in taking action.”
Photo courtesy JOSHUA WONG
Q&A with Joshua Wong Hong Kong protest leader by Jack Gonzalez Since this summer, millions of protestors have flooded the streets of Hong Kong in resistance to an extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong government. The bill would have allowed the Chinese government to remove criminal suspects from Hong Kong courts and have them instead face trial in mainland China — a high-conviction rate system protestors say is unfair. Although Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdrew the bill September 4, the protests have continued, shifting their aim to the Chinese government as a whole. In 1997, Britain handed its imperial power over Hong Kong to China. China has since ruled the region under a “one country, two systems” policy, where mainland China has upheld some of Hongkongers’ rights to free speech and fair elections, carryovers from British rule. The movement seeks to protect this system and views it as being threatened by an ever-encroaching China. Millions of protestors have joined the resistance movement, most notably college students, who have encountered strong resistance from the Chinese-government-controlled Hong Kong police. Joshua Wong is the 23-year-old secretary general of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy political party Demosistō. He rose to prominence through his involvement in the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protest, which at the time was the largest pro-democracy protest ever in Hong Kong. The Umbrella Movement protested Chinese oversight on Hong Kong elections, supporting universal suffrage for Hongkongers. Fortune magazine has listed him as one of the “world’s greatest leaders,” and he was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2017. Despite the protestors’ adherence to a distribution of leadership — to avoid any one leader being targeted — Wong has emerged as a prominent figure in this year’s movement, recently testifying on Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to condemn Beijing. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
The Black & White: For our readers here in the United States who might not be as familiar with the situation in Hong Kong, could you explain how the protests began? Joshua Wong: It all started when two million Hongkongers took to the streets to urge the government to stop police brutality and support free elections. This proved that Beijing’s hardline policy to suppress the Hong Kong people’s freedom is useless because we still kept our momentum and have continued to protest. B&W: What are the protestors asking of the Chinese government? JW: We’re urging the government to stop police brutality and respond to our calls for free elections. I’m one of the facilitators of the movement, making sure the voice of the Hongkongers is heard by the international community. B&W: What are the differences between past movements and this one? JW: We learned a lesson from the Umbrella Movement five years ago. We claimed that we would be back, and now we are with even stronger determination. Compared to five years ago, it’s a much longer-term campaign. Before, it was 79 days of protest with 200,000 people. Now, we have two million people who have continued to protest for 15 weeks. B&W: You testified in front of Congress September 17. Can you summarize what you asked them? What did you call on them to do? JW: When Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” eroded to become more like “one country, one-and-a-half-systems,” we urged the U.S. Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The act authorizes power for U.S. presidents to freeze the assets and deny entry for people who suppress Hong Kong’s freedom. B&W: Do you, along with other protestors, solely want to give Hong Kong citizens political freedom, or do you also have desires to spread democracy to China as a whole? JW: [Our goal is] first Hong Kong, then mainland China. Of course we strongly hope that under the hardline suppression from Beijing, no matter if it’s people from Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, mainland China or Taiwan, all should enjoy freedom and democracy. For now, we’re mainly focusing on free elections in Hong Kong, but next is mainland China. Wong started to take action at a young age, while still in high school, participating in many anti-government protests and setting up the now-disbanded political organization Scholarism with fellow students. Students are a large part of the movement and have continued protesting in between studying for exams and attending classes. B&W: The first time you protested you were only 14 years old. What pushed you to become an activist while being a student? JW: Making change doesn’t need to wait until we graduate from school. As a Hongkonger with a sense of belonging, I love living in Hong Kong. That’s the reason we will never stop until Hong Kong is Hong Kong again.
ulum, when Beijing hoped to brainwash students in Hong Kong and force students to not only love China but also have loyalty to the regime. We just got people on the street, and with 100,000 people surrounding government buildings, we forced the government to withdraw that evil policy. B&W: What can students in the U.S. do to support the Hong Kong protests? JW: “Be the change you want to see” is what I believe in. People might think that we should continue street activism after we graduate, but I think how we keep the street activism going when we are still in school is significantly important. I think the most important issue is how to facilitate and engage in the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Our focus is still on Congress, but if any student who lives in the United States shows their support for us, it means a lot. So for any youngsters or students in high school in the United States, I would say that maybe street activism might be far away from people’s daily life. Instead of focusing on graduating, it’s more important to uphold our skills and determination. B&W: Does that mean you are in favor of high schoolers reaching out to members of Congress and getting the word around? JW: Instead of only putting our effort into lobbying congressmen or government officials, I think how people live in the U.S. really matters for us, just like how we have protested in different cities in the U.S., no matter if it’s New York, Boston, Los Angeles, etc. This just shows that it’s not just people who live in Washington and work on Capitol Hill who care about Hong Kong. When Hong Kong people stand at the forefront to combat authoritarian rule, all we hope is that our fight can continue and that Hongkongers never walk alone. The mainland government has spearheaded an opposition campaign in response to the movement, accusing the protestors of using excess violence and disturbing the peace. Several confrontations with the police, which were broadcasted through major news outlets, have turned violent, depicting the protests in a more negative light. B&W: There has been some violence associated with the protests. Do you hope to contain it and keep the protests peaceful? JW: No one enjoys seeing clashes and violence, but instead of blaming the protestors or activists that have used force, I think it’s more important to solve this political crisis by political system reform. B&W: What have you done to contain any violence? JW: The only ones who can stop the clashes and violence are the Hong Kong police and government. We have urged the government and police not to crack down on our protests. B&W: You have been arrested, censored and have endured a lot of pushback from the Hong Kong government. What keeps you going? JW: As Hongkongers, we have prepared for this long-term battle. It’s an uphill battle. And that is the reason why, even though I have been arrested eight times and been in jail three times, we keep fighting.
B&W: What was the first issue you protested? JW: We protested against the patriotic education school curric-
It isn’t just music
Concert culture spirals into harassment, underage drinking by Eva Levy and Jaclyn Morgan
Students’ names have been changed to protect their privacy. Content warning: This story contains language that pertains to sexual harassment and substance use. Junior Jacob Carton was sitting in his room, listening to rapper Vince Staples when another rapper, Tyler the Creator, popped up as a related artist on Spotify. It was Carton’s first time hearing Tyler the Creator’s music, and after playing “Death Camp,” he was instantly hooked. But at Tyler’s September concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion — an outdoor general admission venue — Carton discovered a new meaning behind his music. “Hearing him play songs live is kind of like seeing his thought process for making each song,” Carton said. For Carton, there’s no better way to experience music than at a concert. He found that listening to live music with other people who shared his love for Tyler the Creator made the event special, he said. At Whitman, many students, like juniors Adam and Lily, attend concerts throughout the year to forget the stress of high school, relax with their friends and listen to their favorite songs. But to enhance their concert experience, they say, some students resort to drinking before the show or sneaking alcohol into the venue. In an informal Black & White survey of 50 students who have attended a concert during high school, around 70% admitted to consuming alco-
hol before or during a concert. The close quarters of general admission concerts, combined with underage drinking and casual hookup culture, create an environment where students normalize inappropriate sexual behavior; in the same Black & White survey, around 30% of students disclosed that they experienced harassment at a concert. Before a Lil Uzi Vert concert last summr at Jiffy Lube Live, another outdoor general admission venue, Adam had gone to his friend’s house where he and his friends each took a few shots of vodka. They knew they couldn’t have alcohol
It wasn’t something I wanted at all, but I didn’t know how to get myself out of the situation. I felt responsible for it, because I didn’t push him off me.
during the concert because of underage drinking laws and rules prohibiting concertgoers from bringing alcohol into the venue, so they drank alcohol before they got there. By the time Adam and his friends arrived at the concert an hour later, Adam
had taken more shots than he could remember, and he felt out of control, he said. As he hobbled to the entrance with his friends, he stumbled into a puddle of mud, drenching all of his belongings. When he reached the security check-in, security officers easily noticed him. They took him to a detention facility at the concert and called his dad to pick him up. Adam left without a citation. Concert venues have implemented strict drinking rules to reduce instances of underage drinking. Jiffy Lube Live’s policy is similar to that of other venues, like Merriweather and The Anthem: it prohibits outside beverages from entering the event and conducts bag checks. While there are long-term consequences for teen drinkers — including a heightened risk of developing alcoholism — there are also short-term consequences like alcohol poisoning, said Ann Turner, a therapist who works primarily with teenagers on issues ranging from substance abuse to peer pressure. Underage drinkers are more likely to binge drink than adults at events where alcohol is served, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also found that binge drinking makes up 90% of underage alcohol consumption. Turner reiterated what health classes often teach: When someone is under the influence, they don’t adequately think through their decisions and are absent from the same sense of awareness they would have when sober.
Although there are students like Adam who binge drink before a concert, others risk bringing alcohol into the venue. Posession of alcohol for a minor in Maryland and Virginia is a crime that can result in fines, community-service, and court-imposed counseling. In the past, junior Helen and her friends have hid alcohol under their clothes using GoGo SqueeZ pouches. “Throughout the year, I just have my mom regularly put a GoGo SqueeZ in my lunchbox,” Helen said. “I’ll just eat the applesauce and save the wrappers. I slip it in my backpack in another area, and then when I get home, I put it in my little stash of them.” It’s easier for Helen and her friends to bring in alcohol at large outdoor venues, she said. Smaller venues, like the Fillmore Silver Spring, perform individual checks with a body scanner when concertgoers enter the venue. Even if alcohol gets inside, it’s difficult to drink without getting caught, Helen said. “There are people monitoring the bathrooms, and they have people on the floor watching you,” Helen said. “They have security cameras everywhere. They’re on the lookout for it.” Students like Helen and her friends often drink before an indoor concert to avoid trouble with security, Helen said. At a Tyler the Creator concert at Merriweather last year, Helen and her friends didn’t have any alcohol to drink before the concert, so they shared alcohol in GoGo SqueeZ pouches brought by another group. She takes precautions before drinking someone else’s alcohol, she said, like watching the other person drink it first so that she knows they didn’t tamper with it.
“We’re all looking to be a little rebellious, have some fun,” Helen said. “For me, having a little bit of alcohol at a concert is a relatively safe way to do it.” When Helen’s friends are intoxicated, they feel more vulnerable around other people and are more open to hookups, she said. But this casual and hectic environment is more conducive to sexual harassment. Ninety-two percent of female concertgoers who attended Chicago music events in 2017 experienced harassment, according to a survey of 379 women by OurMusicMyBody, a sexual harassment awareness campaign devoted to making concerts safe. On the floor of the Tyler the Creator concert, junior Amanda squeezed through mosh pits, hoping to catch a glimpse of Tyler up close when a guy came up to her and groped her. She confronted him, but he acted like the incident had been an accident. She felt she couldn’t prove anything because of the nature of the packed concert floor, so she didn’t report it, she said. The issue isn’t limited to the D.C. area. In a survey of 300 women conducted by The Desert Sun, a newspaper in Palm Springs, 15% of female concertgoers at the Coachella festival said male concertgoers sexually harassed them. Only 10% of respondents reported the incident to the police. Lily went to the Juice World concert at Jiffy Lube Live with her friends last year. She was hooking up with a guy at the concert when he did something she wasn’t comfortable with and hadn’t given him permission to do. “It wasn’t something I wanted at all, but I didn’t know how to get myself out of the situation,” Lily said. “I felt responsible for it because I didn’t push him off me.” Later, when she met up with one of her friends in the bathroom, she tried to explain what had happened, but her friend was too drunk to understand. She tried to ignore the incident, so she could enjoy the rest of the night. When she woke up the next morning in pain, she kept the traumatic experience to herself, embarrassed to ask her parents to see a doctor. Even months later, she still can’t stop thinking about it. “There’s this expectation that if you go to a concert, you know that people might come up to you and touch you,” Lily said. “It happens to so many people that complaining about it would be like shouting into the wind. No one would care.”
The American identity crisis Reconciling my Chinese-German ethnicity with my American nationality by Celina Fratzscher
I’ve never shopped at a Walmart. I’ve never been to an amusement park or ridden a roller coaster. I had my first milkshake and snow cone last summer. I’ve only watched one Super Bowl, and the first football game I went to was the homecoming game my freshman year. Instead, my family shops at H Mart and Rotmunds for hard-to-find Asian and European delicacies. I spend my summers in Hangzhou and Berlin rather than Florida or New York. And instead of American football, my family watches Fußball, which most Americans know as “soccer.” To me, these activities have always been the norm, and, growing up, they didn’t make me feel any less American. I come from a family of immigrants. My parents both immigrated to the United States in the 1980s, my mother from post-cultural revolution China and my father from West Germany. Even my older sister was born in the United Kingdom, making me the only natural-born American citizen in my family — something that I am quite proud of. But in the past few years, following Trump’s election in 2016, the division between ethnic groups has widened, and it has become increasingly difficult for me to reconcile my American and non-American cultural upbringing. The general attitude toward immigrants in the United States has always been somewhat controversial, even under more progressive presidents like Obama. Historically, nationalists have loved using immigrants as scapegoats. They have blamed them for a variety of issues ranging from crime to economic difficulties despite the fact that there is no correlation between immigration rates and crime rates and that both documented and undocumented immigrants actively contribute to our economy via payroll and sales taxes. Amidst it all, Trump appeared, a man who campaigned on an openly xenophobic platform and has implemented many anti-immigrant policies. Since the 2015 primaries and 2016 presidential election, Trump’s rhetoric has normalized a new wave of hate toward foreign nationals. The Trump administration’s adoption of a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal immigration and its general rhetoric about all immigrants has not only negatively impacted undocumented immigrants but documented immigrants as well — including my family. An artwork by JOEY SOLA-SOLE increasing number of foreign nationals, regardless of how long they
have lived in and contributed to this country, have been at the receiving end of countless xenophobic attacks. The president’s actions have facilitated, if not encouraged these attacks. In just the past year, the number of Republicans who agree with the president’s rhetoric that foreigners harm the national identity became a majority, rising from 44% to 57%, according to Pew Research Center. Trump’s controversial executive orders — such as the highly selective travel ban on Middle Eastern countries, an unwillingness to take in refugees and a family separation policy of separating children from their parents at the border — have made it challenging for both immigrants and non-immigrants, including myself, to feel proud of being an American. To me, it seemed that embracing my American nationality was synonymous to embracing the president’s politics. It’s because of the president’s hateful policies that I’ve chosen to ignore my American nationality in favor of my German and Chinese ethnicity. It’s because of the president’s hateful policies that I even felt the need to choose between them because I didn’t think I could be both. Up until a few months ago, my choice of emphasizing my Chinese-German ethnicity had been easy. Even in my first draft of this article, I wrote that I chose to disregard my citizenship and to define myself as “un-American.” I believed that embracing my American nationality would betray my German Chinese heritage. But after going back to revise, it occured to me that I didn’t need to choose one or the other. Regardless of my heritage and upbringing, being American is just as much a part of my cultural background as being German and Chinese. The realization that although the president is the leader of this country, he does not represent the entirety of the American people, has helped me accept my American identity. Freedom of speech, a core value of this country, is what allows me to be an American and still disagree with the government and even protest which, as my Chinese mother often reminds me, isn’t something all people are able to do. Had I grown up anywhere else in the world, I probably wouldn’t have the same perspectives on political issues or worldview that I do now. That’s why I consider myself American, not only because I was born in this country, but also because I feel as though this country has made a profound impact on shaping my values and who I am as a person. Being American doesn’t require having an American parent or American heritage. Shopping at Walmart, drinking milkshakes and going to football games paint an archetypal image of an all-American life, but they aren’t a requirement either. And neither is whole-heartedly supporting the government and its actions. Understanding that these “requirements” are just baseless stereotypes, has enabled me to embrace exactly who I am: Chinese, German and American.
Letâ€™s not be neutral to climate change
The first steps to a carbon-neutral MCPS
by Jack McGuire
artwork by Sam Nickerson
ince 1970, carbon dioxide emissions have increased by about 90%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite the staggering figures, federal lawmakers still fail to act; international summits yield nothing but empty promises, and environmental regulations are hardly ever enforced. Addressing climate change requires action now at the individual, local, state, national and even international levels, before our emissions render the effects of climate change irreversible. Sea ice is melting at the fastest rate we have ever seen, high-strength hurricanes are becoming more frequent and global temperatures are increasing; NASA reports that the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, a figure that will continue to have a cascasing effect on our climate. Some states and countries are taking steps in the right direction â€” countries like Switzerland and France, and states like Hawaii and Minnesota have already begun to pass landmark bills to combat climate change. The Whitman community must do its part and implement environmental initiatives. We are known for political activism; on Feb. 21, 2018, over 1,000 MCPS students left school to protest gun violence on Capitol Hill, according to Bethesda Magazine, and on March 15, 30 Whitman students protested at the Youth Climate Strike. Moreover, our parents support us in these endeavors and teachers at Whitman instruct us about pressing issues our society faces. But as a community, instead of leading the county by drastically minimizing our carbon footprint, we often ignore the emissions that our school and school district continue to produce. In 2015, Montgomery County emitted 11.34 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to county data. There are several steps that MCPS has already taken to limit their carbon footprint, both by passing regulations to promote sustainability and teaching students about the environment and climate change. But MCPS is still contributing adversely to global climate change in unnecessary ways. MCPS should reduce emissions from school buses, design their construction projects to be more environmentally friendly and improve efforts to reduce waste. To fail in these regards is to ignore the obvious. We must change our ways, or we must live with heightened risk of environmental changes both small and disastrous.
Bus idling heightens carbon emissions In MCPS, there are over 1,300 public school buses. Unfortunately, these school buses are a significant source of emissions. When students walk to their buses at the end of the day, they are accosted by the fumes of 21 idling buses. The fumes arenâ€™t only detrimental to the health of the student body, but they are also a substantial source of emissions in MCPS; 83% of MCPS greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were a result of electricity and bus fleet fuel, according to MCPS data. Ultimately, MCPS could make school bus emissions obsolete and reduce long-term costs for maintenance and fuel if the system converted to electric buses. But in the meantime, MCPS should create new legislation that restricts bus idling across the county to make a small dent in
the county’s carbon footprint. Bus idling is harmful to student health because the diesel exhaust is carcinogenic, and it also leads to an increase in ozone pollution and climate change, according to the EPA. “These are unnecessary pollutants and can’t be any good for our children’s health,” parent Malvina Martin said. “I’m concerned about how our actions today are contributing to a future warmer planet and all its perils, for my children and the rest of the world.” The ideal solution — converting the county bus fleet to entirely electric buses — is initially expensive but practical and prudent in the long run. Electric buses initially cost three times as much as diesel buses, but it’s 2.5 times cheaper to power vehicles with electricity than diesel, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. Fairfax County has decided to add 50 electric school buses to their roads by next year and plans to convert their entire fleet to electric by 2030, overlooking the shortterm costs for long-term advantages. MCPS officials are hesitant about spending money upfront and establishing a fleet of electric buses, MCPS spokesman Derek Turner said. “We have to make sure that we’re being thoughtful toward the investment and making sure that, when we invest in buses, we’re not pulling away resources to the classroom,” Turner said. But by converting to electric buses, the county will not only help protect our futures but save money long-term. It would be emblematic of the kind of thinking we all need more of: long-term.
Construction projects are costly
Construction projects in MCPS provide students with luxuries. In addition to classrooms, the upcoming renovation at Whitman will give students a dance studio, a second courtyard and a student study area. These luxuries come at a cost aside from money: construction projects produce an enormity of emissions. MCPS must complete Whitman’s planned construction — the school is overcrowded and needs a renovation — but MCPS can still make this construction project, both the process itself and the final product, more environmentally friendly than it currently is. Out of 206 total, MCPS has 109 Energy Star certified schools, an award certify-
ing energy efficient buildings. Out of context, this seems encouraging, but MCPS is far behind the curb in energy efficient buildings compared to nearby counties; Fairfax County has 173 Energy Star certified schools, nearly all of its 186. As with any energy efficient building, Fairfax’s buildings see the benefits in their utility bill savings. The very construction of new buildings, remodelings and additions of older buildings is a significant carbon contributor in MCPS. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute finds that the manufacture, transport and assembly of building materials accounts for eight percent of nationwide energy use. The environmental impact of the new Whitman addition’s construction, scheduled to be completed by September 2021, is large. Sean Soboloski, one of the engineers working on the Whitman addition, estimates that the addition’s total carbon footprint is 225.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. “At the school level, renovation is a good time to focus on at least a couple of those areas for reducing climate change by thinking beyond the renovation phase to when the new building will actually be used,” said John Rogers, a Senior Energy Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “In terms of energy use, for example, paying attention to energy efficiency — insulation, windows, lighting and more — will be very important.” Architects for the addition have made efforts to minimize the building’s eventual carbon emissions by reducing the building’s “glazing percentage,” the percentage of the building’s walls that include external windows compared to the percentage of walls that do not. A reduction in glazing percentage leads to a reduction in the non-environmentally friendly heating and cooling equipment needed after construction, Whitman addition project manager Alison Pignataro-Legg said. But reducing the glazing percentage isn’t enough. Whitman needs to ensure that the costs of the construction are balanced out by the efficiencies of the building once it’s in use.
The impact of waste and trash
alone, MCPS has already created 5,936 tons of solid waste. Waste in MCPS mostly includes food-contaminated paper plates and cups, paper towels, tissues, styrofoam food containers, plastic cutlery, motor oil containers and antifreeze containers, said Richard Benjamin, the project manager for the Student Energy and Recycling Team in MCPS. Once students throw these items away, they are sent to the Resource Recovery Facility in Dickerson, Maryland, where they burn around 1,800 tons of trash daily. Unfortunately, 40% to 50% of garbage is made up of carbon, inevitably leading to emissions. Decreasing the amount of trash created by MCPS is simple. Students can reduce their usage of single-use plastics. MCPS can expand recycling programs and emphasize the importance of recycling materials through more classroom instruction and by allocating more funds to the SERT and individual school recycling teams. Students need to be more aware that their product choices have a profound impact on their future, and MCPS should play a larger role instilling that awareness in its students. It may be difficult to implement these reforms, but doing so is necessary to circumvent the impacts of climate change. Some may say that we are just a small part of the problem, and our individual carbon emissions are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. As a community, we cannot afford to be ignorant. Fairfax County should serve as an inspiration to us, and we in turn can serve as an inspiration to another county. We should become part of the solution willingly and quickly. “There are things we can do as individuals, families and consumers and, at a slightly more aggregated level, as communities, including schools,” Rogers said. “Those changes can add up, and they help show the community and neighboring areas what’s possible.” It’s no longer hyperbolic to say that the livelihoods of ours and future generations are at stake; our community needs to do its best to save our planet.
On a typical school day, students and teachers across the county will throw away food scraps and a number of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, cutlery and plastic water bottles. In this year
Content warning: This story contains language that pertains to rape.
You’re not alone What I had to do after I was raped
he questions are always how, why, when, what were you wearing and who. Most of the time, they’re for the benefit of the listener, trying to satiate their curiosity. The questions should be, Are you okay? What can I do to make things better? You can’t force someone to feel better, but you can help them through it. Being raped is one of the most violent assaults any person can experience. There’s no one stereotype to how people will react to the situation because every assault is different. But sexual assault is sexual assault. There’s no justification that an answer to those questions could give. There’s no minimizing the issue. Survivors were violated in a way that nobody should ever be violated. When a 19-year-old man raped me, it was my first time having sex. It felt like someone had robbed me of something that I thought I would give to someone whom I really cared about. My virginity was something I had guarded since I was little. I had always understood the importance of it. But once it was taken from me, I had never felt so ashamed. It was a feeling I could never get back. It felt like I lost my innocence. The lack of support didn’t help either. I was too afraid to tell anybody because in some way I thought it was my fault. I couldn’t stop replaying the night over and over in my head. “No” should have been enough; even if I had wanted something to happen, the moment I said “No” everything should have stopped. My words should have been enough. I shouldn’t have had to fight. After everything that occurred, I really lost myself; I didn’t know what to do. Crowded hallways seemed to be louder and more difficult to navigate. I was afraid that everybody could tell, that someone had written “rape victim” on my forehead. I never wanted to be someone who experienced pity or someone who needed support. But everyone needs support. Nobody can get through life alone. There is no guide on what to do after you have been sexually assaulted. But I want to use my experience and pain to help others understand both that there are steps you can take toward recovery and that there are reactions more helpful for survivors than others. This is the way I decided to react to this situation: by writing, reporting and exposing what it’s like after — after being raped. There’s no right answer. What follows chronicles the decisions survivors have to make, among skeptics, often with few resources at their disposal. To those who have been there, know this: Whatever you choose to do is the right choice. Do what you’re comfortable with; don’t let anybody else tell you what you can or cannot do. That’s important. The control you have over your story allows you to have control over the situation, more than you could possibly know. This article is my control.
Medical Care After I got raped, I was really worried about being pregnant. I prayed I wasn’t. The first thing I did was drive to buy Plan B. I was on other medication, but I knew that Plan B wouldn’t typically interfere with any medication. However, it’s expensive: about $50 for a single pill. If you’re 17 or older, you can purchase it at any drug store, but if you want to remain anonymous, you can get it at Planned Parenthood. It was difficult for me to go to my parents about sex, so I had a friend buy the pill for me. It was awful knowing that I had to take it, but I believe it was an essential component in me moving past this trauma. Furthermore, Sexually Transmitted Infection screening is important to complete after being raped. In my case, the man didn’t use a condom, so I couldn’t stop thinking about an STI that I had no consent in getting. Every night before bed, I would think about it. I felt helpless. In the case of an STI, there are many different places to go; however, getting tested is expensive. I went to Planned Parenthood in Gaithersburg with a friend. It was $100 because my insurance didn’t cover it. Bring your insurance card, though — even if you’re unsure whether it’s covered, you should at least try. Bring someone with you when you go get tested. Having my friend there made me feel calmer and not alone. It’s nerve-wracking, but the results should come in within a week.
Reporting it to the police I couldn’t decide whether to tell the police for the longest time. For one, I was raped by a 19-year-old, while I am still a minor. I wondered if he would be charged for statutory rape. Additionally, I’m a woman, and the testimonies of women are historically devalued. I decided to talk to a therapist about the decision. She knew from experience that the likelihood of the perpetrator serving any time would be very low. Because I was underage, she said it would be a “she said, he said” court trial, and the likelihood of any woman winning was such a slim chance that it wasn’t worth the turmoil. A doctor of mine reached out to a few public attorneys and told them my story in confidence. Some public attorneys contacted me because they believed I had a strong case since I wasn’t under the influence of any substances and neither was the boy when he had raped me. In the end, I didn’t report anything publically. I didn’t want to press charges. The idea of having to repeat the story over and over to a lot of people I didn’t know seemed
exhausting and painful, especially when considering what others had told me about the end results. This article was hard enough, even without people knowing my identity. I did report it to the police anonymously. In the future if this man were to assault another woman and she came forward, prosecutors would use my testimony to make her case stronger. However, I would never win the court case for myself. I admit, I still have mixed feelings about my decision.
Telling parents, friends Telling my parents was the hardest single act I had to do. I imagine it depends on the relationship that you share with them, but for me it was difficult. It took me about a month to tell my mom, and it took about three months for my dad to know. At first, I didn’t plan on telling them, but they found out anyway. My mom found out when a $621 bill came in my name to my house. It said that I was at the hospital at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday night. I didn’t have another explanation other than the truth, that I went to go get a rape kit test done. My dad found out through my mom two months later. The lack of support from my parents was astonishing. They said that I should have been more careful. They prevented me from going outside to hang out with friends and constantly tracked my location. They intended to keep me safe, but in reality it just made me feel even more alone, as if they didn’t understand that this wasn’t my fault. Even months later, I’m being victim-blamed, saying that I was raped because I wasn’t being “careful enough.” It is never the victim’s fault. Be cautious with who you tell; the friends and family who find out might not respond with the support that you want. In addition, stories like these can spread very quickly. Only tell people whom you trust. It’s an uncomfortable topic, so it helped me to think about what I would say beforehand. Friends of survivors, if anybody asks you for help, do everything in your power to help them. It doesn’t matter the time or place, please be there for your friend. I had asked a friend of mine to drive me to get STI tested, and he agreed. However, the night before, he bailed to go hang out with other friends. It made me feel more alone than any other situation that had occurred in those few weeks, and I was heartbroken.
Coping skills After a traumatic event like rape, it’s important to call support lines, talk to a therapist or talk to a psychiatrist. Losing control over what happens to your body causes trauma and fear. For weeks, I had nightmares and
(800)656-4673 National Sexual Assault Support Line
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had many sleepless nights. I was prescribed medication in order to help with nightmares. Even today, my therapist helps me feel less responsible for the whole incident. Coping using many different methods is essential in order to get past this event. The most important advice I can give is to find your own way of coping. It’s necessary to explore different coping skills and try to incorporate them into your everyday life. Personally, I’ve found journaling and writing poetry to be a great way to release a lot of anger, sadness, anxiety and frustration in a stable way. The situation was unfair, but being able to express my thoughts about it without feeling judged and having it written down made me feel as though my feelings were more valid. Reading stories and talking to other survivors of rape has also helped me feel understood. Although it made me angry to realize how common sexual assault is, it made me feel better to understand that the rollercoaster of emotions that I feel is absolutely normal. Furthermore, talking to a professional about what happened made me feel like I would be able to get through this. It’s important to get that professional help — you are not alone in this.
Triggers For me, I had a lot of different triggers. It’s important to be aware of what your triggers might be and tell your friends in order to help you through times when you do feel triggered. For me, certain touches around my wrist, crowded hallways, screaming, rape jokes and graphic images can bring back a lot of hard memories. It’s important to be sensitive because everyone has different triggers. Friends of survivors, always be conscious of what you say. In some ways, you’re giving up your freedom to say insensitive things. But with small concessions, you are able to avoid genuine harm to your peers and help them through their process of recovery without regression. After being raped, it’s common to blame yourself. You replay the situation over and over in your head thinking about every scenario and what you could’ve done to prevent what happened. But to those now and in the future reading, know this: it’s not your fault. Another human made those choices for you. For me, it took a lot of self-reflection and therapy to finally realize that. It was never my fault. “No” should’ve been enough. There are no ifs or buts. You deserve to have control over your own body and your own decision. This article is my own decision to help others and be able to tell my own narrative. This will be only a part of my story.
The In-Class American Dream by BELLA LEARN
Artwork by SAMANTHA RUBIN
hen junior Seojun Lee’s father first asked him if he wanted to move to America, he said no. He was struggling in his final year of middle school in Seoul, and he didn’t think he was prepared to make such a big move. He was also unsure if his English scores were high enough to study at an American high school. A few months later, however, he started to change his mind. Lee realized he didn’t want to go to high school in Korea, where it’s common for students to be studying from 7 a.m., the time they get to school, to 11 p.m. or later when their “hagwons” — private study institutes or “cram schools” that some students in Korea attend after school — end. After a two-week summer camp at Georgetown University where Lee was able to familiarize himself with the area, he had made up his mind. His family came to the collective decision that the extreme pressure placed on students enrolled in Korean high schools would be too heavy a burden on him and his younger brother, and in May 2017, they moved to Bethesda. Lee isn’t the only student in Whitman’s large international community to leave their homeland for educational pursuits; while by no means a majority, a number of students in Whitman’s international community moved to the U.S. for a better high school education than what their home countries offered. Arriving under their parents’ own education or employment visas, many international students now also plan to attend U.S. colleges. Junior Steven Wang came to the U.S. from China in 2017. Compared to his previous school system, the American school system offers more room for him to express his interests, he said. Being able to choose electives in his schedule encouraged him to pursue interests outside of the sciences — a field that, he said, is held almost exclusively in high regard within the Chinese school system. At Whitman, he pursues things he’s passionate about. Wang, a singer and violin player, has taken Chamber Chorus, Orchestra and AP Music Theory and is currently preparing to audition for Maryland’s All State Orchestra, which he also participated in last year. “Here you can be a music person like me,” Wang said. “I find a lot of value and fun here just because I found my interests and my hobbies being taken seriously.” Senior Anna Bedratenko, who immigrated from Ukraine in 2017, said she also felt more capable of pursuing her interest in art at Whitman, partially because she has freedom in choosing her class schedule. In Ukraine, art classes were only offered up until fourth grade, but at Whitman, Anna has been taking art classes for three years. “American schools give you more opportunities,” Bedratenko said. “It helps you to define your future and take classes based on your interests.” Despite these benefits, the American public education system is not without its flaws. Overcrowding has long been an issue in the U.S., according to the Washington Times; half of Montgomery County schools exceeded 100% capacity in 2018. Bedratenko was shocked by the sheer size of the school when she first arrived, she said.
“The school here is pretty much four times the size of my previous school in Ukraine,” Bedratenko said. “I wasn’t ready for that.” The larger class sizes made it harder for Bedratenko to develop personal connections with her teachers and peers, she said. “Schools in Ukraine made communication easier,” she said. “You actually got to know the people around you.” Holistic evaluations of the U.S. system have dropped significantly in rank since 1990, when the nation ranked No. 6 in the world, to now, where the U.S. comes in at No. 27, according to Business Insider. But for some of these students, the most important thing about attending an American high school is the increased chance of attending an American college. Students like Lee and Bedratenko say that their interest in studying in the U.S. is largely college based. Both said that postsecondary education in the U.S. could open more doors for them either at home or abroad because U.S. universities are highly ranked. U.S. universities took 16 of the top 20 spots in the U.S. News and World Report international rankings. “Most American universities have higher ranks than the universities in Korea,” Lee said. “Korean companies prefer people from top tier universities in the United States.” Junior Trinidad Cubillos, who moved to Bethesda from Chile in July of 2017, said that Chilean universities have a far more rigid college admissions system, which made her want to complete her education in the U.S. At the end of senior year in Chile, students participate in a nationally administered college exam, she said. It can only be taken once, and a student’s academic future is largely dependent upon the score that they receive. “In the end, going to college in the U.S. is my first option,” Cubillos said. “Chile is one of my last resorts.” ESOL teacher Sonja Maroni said that the ESOL program helps international students tremendously in preparing for college by giving them a level of academic reading, writing and speaking that can be hard to find outside of the program. Since last year, the county reduced the size of the department by several teachers. ESOL levels four and five, which used to be the two highest levels of ESOL, were consolidated. Level three and the ESOL bridge course, which was aimed to help students who had completed the ESOL program transition into a standard English class, were cut completely. “Instead of having a department, it’s just one person,” Maroni said. “It’s manageable, but the students don’t have the level of support that they had before.” While in past years many of Cubillos friends have had positive experiences with Whitman’s ESOL department, the changes to the department may pose a challenge to new international students, she said. She has faced struggles with the school system not accepting certain credits and placing her in the wrong class level, but she’s still hopeful about her education options in the U.S., she said. “If I hadn’t lived here, I would probably have less of an opportunity to get the scores and grades I want to be able to go to college,” Cubillos said. “In a sense, it’s a fresh start.”
Vaping illness spreads across the country, Whitman students at risk by James Marzolf and Anna Kulbashny artwork by Samantha Levine
Students’ names have been changed to protect their privacy. Emma, now a junior, used a Juul for the first time as a freshman, at her first high school party. She started using electronic cigarettes regularly after that time and continued doing so for two years. Now, she no longer breathes the same. “I realized I couldn’t breathe, and it got out of hand,” Emma said. “It was alarming, knowing that I possibly harmed myself from something that I already knew was dangerous.” Emma’s experience isn’t unique. Thirty-seven percent of American high school seniors admitted to vaping within the last 12 months, nearly nine percent more than in 2017, according to a University of Michigan study. Recognizing the trend of student vaping, Montgomery County filed a lawsuit October 11 against e-cigarette manufacturer Juul for targeting teens with their marketing. The lawsuit alleges that the company designs their products with fruity flavors and discreet packaging to appeal to kids. Vaping has turned deadly in recent months. As of October 14, there have been around 1,300 reported vaping-related lung injury cases in 49 states, with 29 of them being fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC opened an investigation to determine specific causes of lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use. Recent CDC data finds that in 78% of the reported vaping cases patients used products containing some form of THC product; however, no single product or chemical has been linked to all injuries. Reported symptoms include fever, nausea, shortness of breath, chest pain and a strong cough, according to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine. Senior Jessie was born with severe asthma and regularly checks in with her allergist. Though she was careful to not aggravate her asthma, she wasn’t worried about vaping damaging her lungs. To her knowledge, vaping didn’t hurt users at all, Jessie said. Jessie had used a Juul, a nicotine vape, daily for years, but it wasn’t until this year that her doctor told her that her lungs were inflamed more than usual. The combination of vaping and her asthma resulted in chest pain and inflammation that required new treatments. “There was a tightening sensation in my chest,” Jessie said. “It feel like you can’t swallow properly and that there is something pushing down on you.” To combat the illness, some states and cities have banned e-cigarettes. In September, Michigan became the first state to ban e-cigarettes, following San Francisco’s lead. More recently, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a four-month ban on all sales of vaping products until Jan. 25, 2020. This temporarily shut down the state’s $331 million vape products industry, forcing many vape shops to close throughout the state. But locally, some students haven’t heeded the warnings and are continuing to vape. Many students at Whitman, like Emma, began vaping because of peer pressure. Jessie started because everyone she knew used a Juul, which made her think it wasn’t that
dangerous, she said. “When I started doing it, there wasn’t much information out on the risks of vaping,” Jessie said. “Everyone else was doing it, so I also did.” Junior Cody started vaping weekly for a month after it became popular. His first time vaping, Cody purchased a Juul, bought a few flavored pods and eventually went home to vape in privacy. His body’s reaction, however, was adverse, he said. “I was vaping in my room,” Cody said. “I got really sick and collapsed to the ground. My room was spinning.” This experience of being “nic-sick” or “nicotine sick” isn’t uncommon among teenagers; Emma threw up the first time she used a Juul, she said. Usually, a nicotine overdose only occurs after ingesting a product — like accidentally swallowing liquid nicotine from a vape cartridge — but it also may occur from vaping or smoking. “It’s really horrible,” Cody said. “That’s one of the things that made me want to stop. I felt like I had a fever and the flu at the same time and that I wanted to throw up.” Though it took two years, Emma began to feel the effects of vaping and developed respiratory issues, prompting her to quit, she said. “I was alarmed because I didn’t want it to progress into a bigger problem,” Emma said. “I knew that if I kept going, it would get worse.” Other students had similar reactions to news of vape-related injuries and deaths; Jessie and Cody plan to quit as well, they said.
I realized I couldn’t breathe, and it got out of hand. It was alarming, knowing that I possibly harmed myself from something that I already knew was dangerous. Concern about the rise in vaping-related deaths is also spreading through Whitman’s parent community. “This really is dangerous,” a Whitman parent said. “It’s a health risk for kids. There are kids that have been dying, and there are kids having severe lung issues. I’m worried that it could be my kid.” Despite parent concerns, recent tragic events and ongoing investigations, many students still remain apathetic to the issue, Emma said. “A lot of people aren’t emotionally connected to the fact that people are dying,” she said. “It’s important to actually recognize this and stop. We all know the consequences, but we never thought it would happen to us.”
Photo courtesy SOPHIA RANKIN
Junior Sophia Rankin pointes passion through Irish dance, performs worldwide by Mia Friedman Junior Sophia Rankin fell in love with dancing when she was five years old. It was the day of her first competition, and Rankin had driven to a venue just outside Philadelphia. One of her competitors had been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Despite the diagnosis, she came out on stage in crutches and danced her routine to the best of her ability. The judge awarded her with a first place trophy at the end of the competition. In that moment, Rankin found something she still loves about the sport today: the connection between dance and compassion. Rankin started ballet at age three but switched to Irish dancing within a year. Now, Irish dance isn’t just a hobby for her; it’s a full time job, she said. She goes to class six to seven times a week for three hours or more and is currently ranked eighth in the nation. When Rankin started taking ballet classes, her short attention span prevented her from standing at the bar patiently and performing her teacher’s tedious exercises, she said. When Rankin’s parents found an advertisement posted at a local store for an Irish dance class, they thought the fast-paced style of dance would be better suited for Rankin and signed her up immediately. The athleticism that the sport requires has motivated her to consistently practice and put more effort into her dancing to catch up to her peers, who reached a higher level earlier than she did, she said. While the precision and technique remains challenging, she sees it as motivation to better her skills because there is always room for improvement, she said. “I started becoming competitive when I was 11, at an older age than most people who reach my level of performing right now,” Rankin said. “It was a major realization. I was like ‘oh, I have to put in a ton of extra effort if I want to be really good at this.’” Rankin currently attends the McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance and is a member of the Irish Dancing Commission in Dublin, Ireland, which is currently the largest Irish dancing organization within her academy. The commission has a standardized curriculum for both solo and team dance instruction, and all teachers must be certified to train students at such a high level, she said. McGrath pushes Rankin by challenging the boundaries between dance and drama, she said. Students perform in Dance Drama, a performance that tells a story through dance.
It relies heavily on acting and facial expressions to develop students’ whole persona, not just their technique, she said. Along with her teammates at McGrath, Rankin performed at the 2019 world competition in Ireland and placed first. She recalls the moment of winning as one she will never forget, and sharing it with her teammates and family heightened the experience, she said. The officials of the competition presented Rankin and her teammates with clear crystal globes, a trophy which she described as one of her most prized possessions. “Only a few people get to say that they are world champions in something, and even though I’m not a solo champion, it’s almost better to say that I did it all with my team,” Rankin said. Rankin often competes in smaller, local competitions on weekends, where she dances as an “open champion,” part of the highest division and most advanced level of competition. She also performs at Majors regional competitions. Rankin dominated at the regional competition this year, beating all other dancers in her age group. She then advanced to the North American national competition, where she competed amongst the best dancers in the continent. She called the competition excellent practice for next year’s world championship. Every Irish dance competition consists of three rounds. First, performers dance in the “heavy round” wearing hard shoes, which are comparable to tap shoes but heavier. The second is the “light round,” where dancers wear soft ghillies, similar to ballet slippers. The final round is the “set round,” an event reserved for the top placers only. Dancers perform a heavy solo piece of choice; it’s the only round that is done alone on stage. The set round is designed to show off the individual skills and style of the best dancers of the competition. “I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to competing over the years,” Rankin said. “But every new piece is different and exciting to perform, so I still get nervous for my scores.” Rankin has traveled to several countries to compete, including Ireland, Scotland and England. Although her Irish heritage wasn’t what led Rankin to the artform, she has grown to appreciate her Irish roots represented in her dancing, she said. Irish dancing brought Rankin to Ireland, the homeland of several of her family members. Recently, when she
dances, she feels a deeper connection to her family and her background, knowing it represents her culture, she said. Rankin attributes her dancing success completely to her parents. Her mom travels with her nationwide, meeting the exhausting schedule that competing at such a high level demands. A typical competition day is “grueling,” Sophia’s mom Jennifer Reed said. Rankin and her mom wake up at around 5:30 a.m. Her mom prepares her costume and secures Rankin a good warmup spot while she eats breakfast. After breakfast, her mom helps her put on her costume and calms her down before she warms up. “The rest is in Sophia’s hands,” Reed said. “I’m there for moral support and fetching things for her while she does her thing.” Dress, hair and makeup are all a part of the performance and contribute to the final score. The aesthetics are extravagant and meant to be eye catching, Rankin said. Her and her mom have to build time into their schedule to perfect the look of her costume before she goes on stage. Usually, Rankin’s costume expresses the style of her dances and her teacher’s choreography. All of Rankin’s choreography is unique to her because her teacher personally choreographs her routines to match her style and strengths as a dancer. When performing, Rankin remembers why she started dancing in the first place. “Performing is really unique to me,” Rankin said. “Anyone can take the same piece of choreography and make it their own by performing with different nuances. It’s really an amazing feeling and what makes me want to keep dancing for as long as I can.” Though Rankin is unsure of what her future holds, she definitely sees Irish dance as part of it, she said. While she is considering a possible gap year to pursue dance, she wants to attend college and explore other opportunities before jumping into professional Irish dancing, which requires constant traveling to perform in shows, she said. Rankin enjoys her unique daily life outside of school. She found that she was able to form a close circle of friends since they all share an unusual interest that only they can relate to. “I have made a lot of friends from dance because nobody at Whitman really knows what I do,” Rankin said. “It’s kind of like my own secret world, and I love it.”
MCPS SHOULD SUPPORT STU ENT CONNECTIONS TO OTHER SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTY BY CLARA KORITZ HAWKES
t’s no secret that Whitman students are relentless advocates for the myriad of activities they participate in. For many, these activities tend to be Whitman clubs, often branches of larger organizations with other chapters located around the county. Although many schools share the types of clubs they offer, these clubs rarely interact. In order to ultimately bridge divides between the 26 high schools in the county and to help redistribute club resources among these schools, MCPS should help students foster connections between chapters of the same organizations and between those of similar organizations in the county. Fostering relationships between organizations at different schools helps clubs bond and combines efforts toward common goals. Specifically, through countywide events and initiatives, different branches of the same organization can share perspectives, leading to more creative ideas. While administrators of different schools often go to county trainings and communicate with other school leaders, students have no such opportunity and are often unable to share ideas. Like administrators, students would largely benefit from communication across the county. Girl Up, an organization that aims to empower young women across the world, held a summer summit in 2017 with its Whitman chapter and four others from the county. The unique event allowed students like junior Grace McGuire, one of the presidents of Girl Up’s Whitman chapter, to meet and interact with other like-minded members. Since then, McGuire said she still invites members of those clubs to Whitman club events, doing so on her own accord. Holding these summits will help Whitman clubs develop new events, McGuire said. After hearing about Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s “International Day of the Girl party,” a celebration of the annual October 11 observance day dedicated to promoting the human rights of young women globally, McGuire plans to hold a similar event at Whitman. Countywide summits or fairs like the Girl Up sum-
mit could be a breeding ground for more club relationships throughout the county because they help establish personal links between schools. However, since students currently have to make the connections themselves — due to a lack of county support or organization — these relationships are brief and inconsistent. In addition to expanding club events, connecting clubs across Montgomery County could also create the opportunity for more equitable resource distribution. In a county characterized by a sizeable achievement gap, not all schools are able to provide their clubs with the same amount of funding. Having sister clubs to share resources, like coaches or practice space, would allow these clubs to supplement their lack of funding. At Whitman, clubs fundraise on their own, or the SGA supplements club funding when individual fundraising isn’t enough. The average SGA grant is around $200, with the largest grant available being $1,000, though this amount is rarely granted. Larger clubs with greater time commitments, like Speech & Debate, raise money from member dues in excess of $1,000 per person, which go toward hiring several coaches and paying for travel expenses for major tournaments. Clubs at schools in lower-income areas are unable to see these kinds of funds for a variety of reasons, including a lack of disposable income from member families, a limited SGA budget and less county support. SGA adviser Katherine Young, who spent two years as the SGA adviser at John F. Kennedy High School before coming to Whitman, said that at Kennedy, due to a lack of fundraising and disposable income from families, clubs can’t fundraise individually and the SGA is unable to supplement clubs at all. As a result, Kennedy facilitates only about 30 clubs compared to the more than 100 clubs available to Whitman students. This ultimately negatively impacts students’ high school experiences because they don’t have the same opportunity to find community through clubs and the unique interests clubs cultivate. Admittedly, the county has other fiscal priorities than establishing these relationships. Still, fostering these relationships doesn’t take as much effort, time or funding as the county may assume. After bridges form between club leaders, students can nurture the connections themselves, without as much county support. A more integrated club system would help bring high schools in the county together, even if in small facets. As a school system that claims to prioritize students, MCPS needs to go beyond support for individual schools — it also has to support positive interactions throughout the county.
By and for the youth:
Student climate activists make their voices heard by Taylor Haber
n the era of Greta Thunberg and international climate protests, Whitman students have started to make their mark in the environmental youth advocacy movement. Student-led protests have become more popular in the months following the March for Our Lives campaign led by the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. One of the most recognizable grassroots organizations to emerge from this trend is US Youth Climate Strike, a student-run organization which seeks to promote climate change reform. “Our voice is so valuable, since, with climate change, we’re fighting for our future,” sophomore Karla Stephan said. Stephan has been one of the most active members of the organization over the past four years. She joined US Youth Climate Strike as a local event coordinator, then Irsa Hirsi, executive director and co-founder of the organization, asked her to be the national finance director in April. In her new role, Stephan has worked with state coordinators to create local budgets, while collaborating with other youth organizations, such as Greenpeace and Future Coalition, to raise funds for state-organized climate change events across the country. “My mom would take me to volunteer at voting polls when I was younger and took me to protests,” Stephan said. “I wanted to be more involved with activism.” Stephan has helped plan a series of climate change protests, including the March 15 demonstrations in D.C. These protests were part of a larger global event, during which 1.5 million students from 120 countries walked out of school to fight for policy to combat climate change. “March 15 was life changing for me because it was the first time I organized a strike,” Stephan said. “Seeing what really went on behind the scenes, I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person between the beginning of March and now.” Stephan and other national coordinators
artwork by JOEY SOLA-SOLE
from US Youth Climate Strike traveled to New York this September to participate in the recent climate change forums held at the United Nations. The events included lectures from corporate officials at Nike and Microsoft and interactive presentations depicting the carbon emissions of the world’s largest cities. The goal was to foster discussions about climate change. “It was important for us to be there because we are a group that prioritizes diversity and inclusivity,” Stephan said. Other Whitman students have also taken a proactive role in the climate change protests. By presenting a unified voice to lawmakers from America’s youth, students may be able to persuade those with power to enact long-lasting change, senior Sophia Kotschoubey said. “I think it’s important for people in power to see the scope of their opposition just to show that the youth will not stop fighting until change is enacted,” Kotschoubey said. “We’re the ones who are going to be affected the most by climate change, and we’re basically the last generation that can do anything about it.” Other students, like senior Anjeli Smith, think that if students don’t advocate for rapid climate change reform, no one else will speak up. “I think it’s important to raise awareness and to get more people to care about the issue,” Smith said. “There’s strength in numbers.” Kotschoubey and Smith are outspoken proponents for the youth climate change movement. The two seniors have attended a number of climate change events, including the Sept. 20 and March 15 protests. Kotschoubey was featured on the cover photo
in the New York Times article from the March 15 protest where she held up a sign that read “Love Your Mother” and featured an image of the earth. The article captured the global scene of children taking time off from school to protest for climate change reform. Kotschoubey described the picture and article as the highlight of her time as a climate activist. Whitman students have also turned to more localized, grassroots activism rather than the nationalized protesting that US Youth Climate Strike leads. Green Earth is one of the foremost student climate change clubs at Whitman. Juniors Raina Hatcher and Alissa Weisman established the organization last year as a way to engage a small-scale group of student activists. The organization completed a pumpkin drive after last Halloween and started a composting initiative at Whitman. To effect regional change, Green Earth has centered its goals to more directly affect the Whitman community and Bethesda area, Hatcher said. “Its focus is getting students more involved in environmental activism and local, visible, direct change,” Hatcher said. For now, Kotschoubey finds comfort in knowing that the movement she has dedicated herself to advocates for her generation and future generations, she said. “If we don’t take action now, it will impact everyone for the rest of time,” Kotschoubey said.
Order up! by Kaya Ginsky and Mathilde Lambert
1. “Who ___ you?” 4. Sense of feeling 9. Space between two intersecting lines 14. John Legend’s “All __ __” 18. The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining ___” 19. Nearing 20. Types of sea sponge 21. Percussion instrument 22. Seventh point in a tennis game 25. Small market with a counter 26. Famous Scooby Doo exclamation 27. “ ____ over matter” 28. With the object or purpose of 29. The Lego Group, abbr. 30. 2010s British boy band, to fans 31. Bread riser 33. Citrus grower, eg. 37. Birds’ homes 39. Third to last 41. Bullfight cheers 43. Piece of old cloth 44. Sleepiness 45. First three letters of the U.S. agency for weather and oceans, abbr. 48. “Double-stuffed” cookie 50. Female bro 51. Liberation, abbr. 52. Fourth of July 57. Baseball hitter’s turn 62. To give up 63. Online auction 64. Former name of Tokyo 65. “She is beauty, she is _____” 66. Nobles of Arabic countries 68. Abbreviation found on cognac labels 69. Famous person or thing 70. Saint Nick alias 71. Suffix denoting extreme enthusiasm 72. Camera light sensitivity setting 73. A hip hop song 74. Coding Accuracy Support System, abbr.
75. South African petroleum company 76. New York luxury department store 81. Carrier of genetic information 83. Officer’s Training School, abbr. 84. Period of reduced prices 85. College level courses, abbr. 86. Nuisance 90. Slang used to reference a good song 91. Youngest famous Hemsworth brother 93. Second City’s comedy style 99. Like the ground on a fall day 103. Respectful behavior 104. Heredity units 106. Year, in Montreal 107. Vital pollinating bug 108. Prefix pertaining to flight 109. Dang! 110. Flower genus 112. To comply with command 114. With “Fox,” subsidiary to Disney 117. Grandmother nickname 118. Seldom 119. Reclined (in Britain) 120. Late superhero creator Stan 121. Education act signed by Obama, abbr. 122. “We see___ __ eye” 123. Popular rec centers 124. Safety Data Sheets, abbr.
1. Rainforest that produces 20% of our oxygen 2. Built back up (as a house) 3. Grudging admirations 4. Car’s fuel holder 5. Restless 6. Federal agency for Native American people 7. Character in “I am the Walrus” by the Beatles 8. Believer in god 9. In the past 10. Playing with trademarked foam weaponry
11. Nickname for a saddening school 12. Partner of “yanny” in viral video 13. Bethesda’s time zone, abbr. 14. Not even 15. Wood-cutting tool 16. Long hairstyles of the ‘80s 17. Someone who leaves their home country 20. Common listing conjunction 23. “__ __ the republic” 24. Not, in Stockholm 32. To soothe 33. Property contract 34. Research, Technological Development and Innovation, abbr. 35. Inflating driver protections 36. In my opinion, in texts 38. Pig’s feed 40. Expensive 42. Before, poetically 45. Phrase to pat yourself on the back 46. Band type with a musician playing multiple instruments 47. Joining numbers together 49. Ukraine or Texas city 50. Sudden break 51. 2019 World Cup Championship host city 53. Excited 54. Kindle option 55. Weakened coffee option 56. Brings home a rescue pet 58. Draws over lines 59. Plantain cousin 60. Behaves oddly 61. Pokes fun 67. 90’s kids baseball movie 68. Form permitting stays in foreign countries 69. Greek goddess of the rainbow, or eye part 73. 3.15, for short 77. Covers in ash
78. Oscar winning Berry 79. Boxer Muhammad 80. Offer items for sale 82. Granular snow 86. Torso and leg connecter 87. Single celled organisms 88. Blood filtering organ 89. Island country ___ Lanka 90. Medieval steel helmet
92. Indicated 94. To a certain extent 95. Harsh or serious 96. Shrek-like creature 97. Tidily 98. Eg. â€œThe Star Spangled Bannerâ€? 100. Declares invalid 101. Was afraid 102. Double affirmative
105. Extended operatic solo 109. Crafty abbr. 111. Picnic ruiners 113. Young Artists of America, abbr. 114. Three, in Rome 115. Total Loss Only, abbr. 116. ID for active duty U.S. Defense personnel, abbr.
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