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Print Editor-in-Chief Kendall Headley
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The Black & White (B&W) 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 Black & White 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
Print Copy Editor Aleydis Barnes Online Copy Editor Zoe Cantor Traffic Manager Matt Eisner Feature Editors Sasha Blake, Nil Ozdemir News Editors Vishnu Dandi, Claire Lane Opinion Editors Felix Leonhardt, Cate Navarrete Sports Editors Rafe Epstein, Cailey Thalman Feature Writers Jamie Forman, Lauren Heberlee, Simone Meyer, Kiara Pearce, Stephanie Solomon, Samie Travis News Writers Zach Poe, Sonya Rashkovan, Ethan Schenker, Samantha Wang, Alvar Wetzel Opinion Writers William Hallward-Driemeier, Eliana Joftus, Norah Rothman, Sophie Hummel Sports Writers Gibson Hirt, David Lewis, Zach Rice, Alex Weinstein, Olivia Sonne Columists Skylar Chasen, Maya Goelman, Iman Ilias, Daniel Miller, Adam Nadifi, Rena Van Leeuwen, Danny Kotelanski Adviser Ryan Derenberger
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LETTER FROM FROM THE LETTER THE EDITORS EDITORS Why do we learn about history? It’s a question many of us ask ourselves as we go through years of U.S. history, world history and European history courses. Historical occurrences can feel distant and far removed. It feels futile to study the events, people and practices of past generations when they have seemingly little relevance in our daily lives. Why devote so much time to looking backwards, many argue, when we should be looking forwards? Now, we’re student journalists — not historians. We don’t write detailed textbooks, and we still don’t know what the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is. But we do tell stories. In our articles, we attempt to connect the events in our world today to a complicated past — and often, these connections reach far beyond the classroom. In this magazine, we told the story of how schools are changing their names, as the county attempts to reconcile the tarnished history of honoring slaveholders with 21st century visions of positive representation. We also documented how Maryland often charges youth in adult court, an effect of War On Crime-era
policies. And we explored the life of Josiah Henson, a former slave who escaped from a plantation just minutes away from Whitman, later going on to help others escape via the Underground Railroad. Today, a local museum keeps his legacy alive. History and politics are frequently intertwined — and that’s an important fact we kept in mind when we talked to several gubernatorial candidates and heard about their respective visions for a better Maryland. Personal histories, too, provide unique SHUVSHFWLYHV WKDW RIWHQ À\ XQGHU WKH UDGDU 2QH story features the journey of an undocumented immigrant who faced incredible dangers crossing the border in order to be reunited with her mother in the United States. Another focuses on a generations-old Amish market, and a third dives deep into the familial connections that fuel record store owners and collectors’ love for the resurging vinyl industry. Our writers also dug into their own histories, past and recent, sharing their experiences as a “horse girl” and even the antics that arose from a cross-country family roadtrip at the beginning of the pandemic.
History — whether national, local or personal — helps us understand our world a little better. It helps us discern patterns over time, listen to other viewpoints and, ultimately, progress into the future armed with knowledge about why the world is the way it is. We hope, through these stories, our readers understand a little more about their community and their world — we certainly did. As always, we want to thank our adviser, Ryan Derenberger, writers, editors, business team and production team, for their key roles in making our own history in Volume 60. As we sign off at The Black and White, and at Whitman, we feel honored to have been able to produce our school magazine this year. This magazine, our last and longest, is truly a bittersweet farewell. While we know Volume 61 will continue to report, inform and trailblaze into the next school year, we hope the contributions of Volume 60 will be cemented in Whitman history. Thank you for everything, Your editors
Photo by KATHERINE TIETELBAUM
Table of CONTENTS
The fuel for creaTiviTy: how willem macy clicked wiTh car phoTography A
by Samie TraviS
unior Willem Macy grabs his Sony A7 II camera and his car keys, bolting out the door. He slides into his sleek blue 1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen, turns on the car, beginning his 45-minute drive to The Monocacy Aqueduct. Upon arrival at his destination, he observes the open space around him, the forest and the open road. He smiles, knowing he’s at the perfect spot. After parking his car on the side of the street, Macy hops out, camera in hand, and proceeds to shoot his subject from every angle, near and far, admiring its unique charm. Though he drove an hour to shoot with the landscape as his background, the real star had been with Macy all along — his kelley blue car. Macy’s passion for cars runs in his blood. Macy’s grandfather, who owned a Chevrolet dealership, passed the interest of cars down to his dad and later onto him. When he was young, Macy recalls constantly playing with toy cars and making frequent trips to car shows with his dad. “I would go to car meets and car shows with my dad when I was really
young and he let me take his phone and take pictures of all the cars and stuff that I thought was cool,” Macy said. “It expanded from there into this thing more geared towards photography and the composition of my photos rather than just the cars themselves and then my enthusiasm for shooting cars just grew.” Macy’s first experience with a real camera was in summer 2016 during a family trip to Europe, when his dad put him in charge of the family camera and told him he could take all of the photos he wanted. Macy eagerly took this opportunity to freely document his vacation through a creative lens. “I took a bunch of photos and developed a love for photography that was additional to my interest in cars,” Macy said. “My passion for taking pictures of different things developed on top of just going to events to photograph cars.” Building on his two passions, Macy created his first car photography Instagram account in seventh grade. His current Instagram, @35wmm, and website, wmautophoto.com, were initially a place Macy used to store all of his car photos. When Macy isn’t taking pictures at shows or events, he’s staging a scene with either one of his own cars or the car of someone who has commissioned him to do so. When shooting his own car, Macy makes his way over to western Maryland — about an hour away from Bethesda — where there’s vast, beautiful roads. He then seeks out a spot that strikes inspiration. Once he decides on the location, Macy parks his car, gets out and searches for the best angle to capture the car by walking around his car with his camera. “I look at the landscape and how the car interacts with the scenery and then decide if I want to move it or not,” Macy said. “Then, when I have the car in the right position, composition and space I’ll get my camera out and fidget with the settings before taking around five shots of the same exact photo to make sure it’s in focus and that everything looks good. I’ll shoot a bunch of pictures over the span of about 10 or 15 minutes and then move on to another location down the road or somewhere nearby so the photos turn into a set from that day.”
Macy’s shooting location depends on whether he’s shooting his own car or somebody else’s. When shooting his car, Macy usually goes out to Western Maryland, the Poolesville area, or The Monocacy Aqueduct. He finds a visually appealing place and takes photos there with full creative rein. When executing an official shoot that he’s set up with a customer, however, Macy prefers to shoot in Tysons Corner, Virginia as well as Columbia, Maryland. Those are his two main spots because they’re somewhat close and contain a lot of neat places to shoot at, he said. Typically he meets the owner at the location and they’ll stay there for the shoot. Prior to the Sony A7 II camera that Macy has been capturing his photos with for three years, he had a Nikon D3400 DSLR camera that he received as a Christmas present. Macy decided to switch from the Nikon D3400 DSLR — his first camera that was completely his own — to the Sony A7 II because he was ready to upgrade from his starting camera, he said. This time, Macy purchased the camera himself with money he saved up from photo shoots and various other sources. After cashing in around $1000 for the camera, it was clear Macy’s passion for photography was here to stay. “Turning my car photography into a business came from a want for a higher end camera,” Macy said. “I eventually outgrew my Nikon so I needed some money to get a better camera. I decided the easiest way to do that was by commissioning shoots.” Photographs of high end, exotic cars such as the Audi R8, Lexus RC F and Ferrari 360 can be found in Macy’s collection of photos — but car status doesn’t determine his favorite shoots. “My favorite shoots are usually ones that go well for a different reason,” Macy said. “For example, if I get kicked out of a location so I’m bummed out but I end up
finding another location and making it work so the photos turn out really well. Something like that where I overcome obstacles are the shoots that come to mind as memorable for me.” Nearly all of Macy’s car photography customers come from Instagram and he has photographed about 15 to 20 shoots on average, he said. “There’s this entire car community in the area with a lot of people who take pride in their cars and want to have photographs of them,” Macy said. “A lot of the business I get comes spontaneously from random people with nice cars hitting me up and saying something like, ‘Yo, can I get some pictures of my car?’ or something like that. That’s how the shoots I do usually come about.” Macy is also involved in the Whitman photo community. He currently takes Photo 3 with Ms. Chick and he took Photo 1 and 2 with Mr. Seymour during his previous two years at Whitman. Though Macy relishes the creative process that is staging his own photoshoots, there are certain expectations that accompany creating art specifically for others. “Sharing my photos with the clients themselves is a little scary because there’s so much pressure and everybody’s different,” Macy said. “There’s always doubts or I’m second guessing myself about how they might turn out and how other people or the clients might view them.” The same is true for Macy’s Instagram page, but he has been trying not to focus on his fear of judgment as much by reminding himself that he’s taking photos because it’s his passion, not for external recognition, he said.
drives the 30 minute trip with ease because it’s cool to have connections with people who have similar hobbies as him, he said. Macy makes sure to frequent the place that initially drew him into car photography: car shows. One of his favorites — Katie’s Cars And Coffee — is located in Great Falls, Virginia. Every Saturday morning from 6-9AM, cars pack the parking lot at Katie’s Coffee House while spectators admire the automobiles and ask one another about their cars. Although Macy isn’t set on his future career, he wants to continue to pursue a path involving cars, his main passion. “It would be cool to do something with photography as a job but that’s not very feasible and I’d rather keep it as a hobby than have it turned into a full time career,” Macy said. “What I want to do in the future as maybe a major in college would be engineering or a STEM field, specifically automotive engineering or something like that that would get me into the path of working with automakers. That would be a really cool course.” A. A Lexus LS400 shot on film glows red. B.Macy utilizes Kodak Gold 200 film to showcases the interior of a BMW E30 Touring. C. The sun sets above a silver Lexus LS400 among vast greenery. D. Macy captures a close up shot of the wheel on a Nissan 240sx. E. White fluff surrounds a BMW E30 Touring on the snowy road. F. Macy photographs a low angle of a deep red BMW M3 G. Macy’s own Saab Viggen stands out on the open road — its vibrant blue color and bright headlights draw the eye.
photo collage by ELIZABETH DOROKHINA
photo courtesy of WILLEM MACY
Another hobby that Macy took up within the automotive space is working on cars. Car fixing YouTube videos supplied him with some of his own knowledge before he started to explore the engineering facet of automobiles. While this was a helpful gateway, Macy’s real teacher was his fellow car enthusiast dad. With his dad’s guidance, Macy was able to effectively learn how to change out the suspension and change up the exhaust systems on an automobile. “For the more technical stuff I typically ask my dad because he’s really knowledgeable about that type of stuff,” Macy said. “I’m really fortunate to have him as someone who can help me whenever I need it.” For around four years Macy has been working on car fixing projects with his dad, but it wasn’t until a year or two ago that he began to work on his cars by himself and with friends. For Macy’s previous car, an old 1998 Lexus LS400 that he purchased for around $3700, he elevated its look by buying new wheels and tires as well as getting it tinted — not to mention doing the suspension on it. “Those renovations created a car that I really enjoyed and would always take photos of,” Macy said. “I would go on drives with my friends and we would take photos of the car together. I have friends who are into car photography as well so it’s a cool experience to go out with my car and their cars and all kind of shoot each others.” Macy met his fellow car photographer friends online within the car community. Though they mostly live in Virginia, Macy
The Montessori Method is not just The Montessori Method is by RENA VAN LEEUWEN for preschoolers
not just for preschoolers
graohics by GRACE ADKINS
t Whitman, most classes consist of lectures, and individual or group work time. Students sit in desks, packed in tight rows, silently listening as teachers go over course material. Often, they’ll remain there for the majority of the class — pencils poised to take notes to prepare for assignments after school, and eventually, the big test. It’s often the only learning style that students have experienced. The Montessori Method however, offers a different teaching, and learning, dynamic. In her 1909 book of the same name, Italian philosopher Maria Montessori, advocated for unconventional learning methods within the classroom, all crafted under a common denominator: freedom. “The school must permit the free, natural manifestations of the child if in the school VFLHQWL¿F SHGDJRJ\ LV WR EH ERUQ ´ VKH ZURWH “This is the essential reform.” It’s time that our school follows Maria Montessori’s advice and implements creative ways of learning — whether that’s handson activities, more student choice or even IUHH ÀRZLQJ FODVVHV 6WXGHQWV VKRXOG EH DEOH to learn and develop their own thoughts and ideas, rather than simply regurgitate the information a teacher has attempted to engraved into their minds. For students in Montgomery County, schooling doesn’t promote introspective and intellectual growth but instead promotes handaches from attempting to write down every single note that a teacher might pack into a 45 minute-long period. Flipping through endless slideshows without breaking for students to solidify their knowledge is a method many teachers employ daily. “There are some days where I’m like, okay, I can [listen to a] lecture,” senior Jaymie Beers explained. “But if that’s the only thing that the teacher is doing and they don’t make the lecture interesting or interactive in any way, the class can get completely horrible, boring and unattentive.” Maria Montessori proposed the idea that school shouldn’t follow the robotic process of lecture-to-notes but should instead incorporate thought-provoking, hands-on activities and real-life learning experiences. While removing lecturing as a whole is unrealistic due to the fact that it can convey a lot of information, for a lot of students, quickly, implementing more hands-on learning activities can pave the path for greater student understanding and engage-
by RENA VAN LEEUWEN graphics by GRACE ADKINS
ment. Examples of these kinds of experiences include more Kahoot-like games in science class, challenging scavenger hunts with math problems and research and presentations in history. This provides the opportunity for students to think for themselves rather than simply recall their notes and would result in an overarching increase in learning, creativity and on-the-spot thinking. This kind of student-led learning is something that English teacher Matthew Bruneel appreciates, he said. “Letting children’s interest drive the curriculum is a really natural way of learning,” Bruneel said. “I think with a teacher who is creative enough and educated enough, you could maintain that into high school as well, where you still reach the same standards of education, but you use the student’s interests to touch on all those standards rather than just sort of force them into curricula that they don’t [enjoy].” The Montessori Method also touches on an overlooked factor in education: the organization of a classroom and the way it functions physically. $ IUHH ÀRZLQJ FODVVURRP DQG TXLWH OLWHUDOO\ ÀXLG IXUQLWXUH ZRXOG IDFLOLWDWH PRYHPHQW throughout the room — which aids in student productivity. According to a 2018 study by the Bulletin of Education and Research, “Students must be comfortable, and making sure that chairs are the right size will help to keep them focused.” Inside Montessori schools, bean bags and ÀRRU PDWV WDNH WKH SODFH RI WKH KDUVK DQG XQcomfortable desks that high school classrooms employ. If not the structure of the desks themselves, the organization of the furniture can also play a UROH LQ VKDSLQJ WKH HQYLURQPHQW DQG WKH ÀRZ RI the classroom. A room with desks lined in rows can feel lonely and hostile but one with table groups feels more comfortable and receptive. With smaller, more intimate, groups, students would be able to have more natural conversations. Starting in 2019, some of Whitman’s classrooms had the opportunity to participate in a trial of new desks. These desks are triangular, vary in height and the chairs are detached from the table part of the desks, allowing for more freedom of movement during class. However, classrooms could go farther — through the use of beanbags, for instance. “I think that seating has a tremendous effect on what our assumptions are,” Bruneel
said. “Beanbags communicate comfort and relaxation and a sense of ease. I’ve got a huge room so physically, my space can have stations or couches. I think it would have a major impact.” Another example of widely feasible, forward-thinking furniture is within Whitman’s art classrooms. Wide, collaborative art tables FUHDWH D IUHH ÀRZLQJ HQYLURQPHQW ZKHUH VWXdents feel relaxed. The ability to move around the classroom can help students feel comfortable in their learning environment — therefore increasing productivity and avoiding the depressing ambiance of a cramped class. ³,W¶V GH¿QLWHO\ IXQ DQG FRPIRUWDEOH WR VLW on stools,” Beers added. “What’s nice about the ceramics room is that you have the freedom to move around. One day you can sit in one place and work quietly and another day you can go somewhere else and talk and be social.” Some might argue that the Montessori Method is solely valuable for preschoolers, and that teenagers require different conditions than four year olds. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not possible to implement certain aspects of the method — or that the method doesn’t provide a meaningful education for adolescents. The Montessori Method teaches teens to EH VHOI VXI¿FLHQW LQ DOO DVSHFWV RI OLIH VRPHthing that Montessori herself valued highly. A great example of successful Montessori school for secondary education is Camelback Montessori College Prep in Phoenix, Arizona, one of about 25 Montessori schools established for secondary school students in the nation, according to the TFA article, “What Happens When Montessori Meets Teenagers?”. This VFKRRO FUHDWHG D ÀXLG FODVVURRP E\ FUDIWLQJ DQ environment where students could lie on the ground and work at stations for uninterrupted periods of time, allowing them to engage and focus on their tasks at hand. “Little things like different lights or different chairs, you would think that that wouldn’t be a good investment in money,” Beers said, “but those factors do have a larger effect than you think.” Ultimately, school is a place for learning. When students aren’t placed in ideal learning environments, those that lack emphasis on creativity and freedom, it’s hard for them to be successful. Learning is supposed to be intriguing — it’s supposed to leave you questioning the world. In the interest of student engagement and learning, Montessori techniques are investments worth making. We could learn a thing or two from preschoolers.
photos courtesy of STEPHANIE SOLOMON
n preparation for the Saturday morning customer rush, shopkeeper Kate dips ripe apples into a deep bowl of golden caramel, and then carefully rolls them in chopped nuts or M&Ms, coating their sticky exteriors. After setting the candied apples aside on a piece of parchment paper, she admires the perfectly organized cases of fudge and chocolate-covered strawberries — some of the most in-demand items at Lapp’s Candies. Lapp’s is one of many family-owned shops at this one-of-a-kind market, where several other vendors — including King’s Barbeque, Beiler’’s Doughnuts, Zook’s Cheese and Esh Produce — all crank out fresh food for eager customers visiting the shopping center on Wisteria Drive. Besides their tasty products, these shops all have something in common: They’re owned by Amish Dutch families. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, these families make the journey from their homes in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to the Lancaster County Dutch market in Germantown, Maryland. A group of Amish businessmen established the market in 1996, with the goal of bringing farm-fresh goods and a unique community’s culture to the Maryland area. Despite their seclusion from modern society, the Amish Dutch have found success in markets due to outsiders’ curiosity about their unconventional lifestyle. They’re easy to spot in a crowd: Amish women traditionally wear ankle-length, solid- colored dresses, white aprons and “kapps,” or bonnet-like head coverings, while men dress in button-down shirts, broadfall trousers and suspenders. Since the Amish religion prohibits them from operating motorized vehicles, they travel by horse-drawn buggies. These restrictions might seem outlandish to strangers, but for the Amish, they’re simply routine. Like many other immigrant communities, the Amish originally ÀHG (XURSH WR HVFDSH UHOLJLRXV SHUVHFXWLRQ $V *HUPDQ DQG 6ZLVV Mennonites — a Protestant sect of Christianity — these families migrated to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. Almost 300 years later, the Mennonites, now widely known as the Amish, continue to stand by their strict and distinctive religious beliefs. Amish generally live in close-knit societies that value community, modesty and simplicity. “We try to keep it reserved, we don’t have electricity in our homes and we own small businesses in the community,” Kate said. “We work outside, love nature and work for God.” At home, the day-to-day lives of the Amish Dutch are starkly different from those of the rest of the general American publicopulation, even in terms of the language they speak. “We speak Pennsylvania Dutch, derived from the German language,” Kate said. “We have German in our churches, but we speak English for society.” 7KH ¿UVW $PLVK PDUNHW LQ WKH 8 6 WKH /DQFDVWHU &HQWUDO 0DUNHW emerged alongside the establishment of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1730. Ever since then, family-owned, generations-old Amish businesses have continued to set up shop. Market staples often include farm-sourced dairy products, baked goods straight from the oven and hand- carved wooden furniture crafted by highly-skilled carpenters — a common profession for Amish Dutch men. To commute to the Germantown market three days a week, the families hire drivers to transport them and their multitude of goods. With ingredients LQFOXGLQJ VDFNV RI ÀRXU DQG IUHVK PHDWV IURP /DQFDVWHU WKH YHQGRUV DUULYH early in the morning to prepare freshly-squeezed orange juice, thick-crusted pies and trays of fudge. Regular customer Jimmy Williams, who visits the Dutch Market every Friday to pick up banana pudding, chicken wings and ribs, believes that the level of freshness is the market’s distinguishing factor. “Everything is made from scratch, and being from the South, I appreciate when things are homemade,” he said. “Their food is the best I’ve had since my grandma’s.” 7KH IXGJHV DW /DSS¶V &DQGLHV IHDWXULQJ ÀDYRUV UDQJLQJ IURP maple walnut and peanut butter swirl to English toffee, are made with a large, silver fudge kettle. After combining a dry mix of sugar DQG FKRFRODWH ZLWK EXWWHU DQG ÀDYRULQJ LQ WKH NHWWOH IXGJH PDNLQJ specialists Anna-May and Fannie-Ruth continually stir each batch as WKH\LW KHDWV XS 2IWHQ PL[LQJ ÀDYRUV WRJHWKHU WKH\ SRXU WZR EDWFKHV into a tray lined with parchment paper, creating swirling designs on the surface of the fudge before it sets.
“It’’s just a matter of mixing everything together,” Kate said. “Once the fudge is heated, they can mix different trays, and they’re pretty detailed.” When she’’s not at the market, Kate works as a horseback riding instructor, specializing in equestrian therapy for children with special needs. She became familiar with Lapp’s Candies after instructing the children in the Lapp family. “After I got to know their children, I heard about their business and started working here, and I really enjoy it,” Kate said. Zook’s Cheese, another popular shop at the market, sells goods from multiple independent, Amish dairy companies. Their cases display glass bottles of milk, tubs of homemade ice cream and an assortment of cheeses. “We’re the middle man,” Zook’s employee Nancy Fisher said. “We represent a lot of different Amish companies, like the smoked cheeses and butters that come from the Amish in Ohio and Pennsylvania. There’s at least 30 Amish-owned businesses that we supply.” Samuel Esh founded Esh Produce in the early 1970s, initially selling eggs before expanding to meats and produce. In the market, the Esh Produce stand supplies fruits and vegetables ranging from lettuce and radishes to berries and melons, most of which are grown seasonally on the Amish farms. Esh Produce also caters to companies such as Zook’s. “Esh Produce is where we buy our eggs from,” Fisher said. “They raise their chickens on different farms up in Lancaster.” Fisher began working at Zook’s after getting married at the age of 24. The idea of a hands-on job without the requirement of past experience in the industry excited her, she said. Seeing the job opening as a unique opportunity, she and her husband embraced the idea of working at the Dutch Market. “I just love the interaction with the customers,” Fisher said. “So I guess the reason I’m here is because I love people and I love cheese.” The level of education in Amish Dutch communities has evolved throughout Fisher’s childhood. After the Supreme Court ruling of Wisconsin v. Yoder in 1972, schooling for Amish children became mandatory only until eighth grade — so the year Fisher turned 14, she stopped attending. “I went to public school for six years and then an Amish Parochial school for two years and I loved both schools, but they’ve taken the Bible out of public schools since I went,” Fisher said. “Today, we have Parochial, one-room schools where our children learn about Jesus, and they learn the German language, which is what our ministers preach in.” The close-knit community found in Amish-teaching schools translates to the market’s environment. There, businesses often run in the family; Nancy Fisher’s son, Lester Fisher, runs Beiler’s Doughnuts, another shop within the market. Lester’s father had owned the bakery for the previous 16 years, and, despite drifting from the family business during adolescence, Lester felt honored to be the successive owner, he said. “The people here are awesome, and they’re what brought me back here after being a teenager,” Lester said. “It hasn’t really changed over the years. It’s always been a family environment.” Most items are baked in-house, but occasional breads and cakes are supplied by local Amish-owned bakeries in Lancaster, he said. After spending most of his childhood by his father’s side at the market, Fisher learned the ways of the family business. “I started working here when I was around ten or eleven years old, and ZKHQ WKH PDUNHW ZDV ¿UVW KHUH LW WRRN D ORW RI HIIRUW WR HVWDEOLVK ZKDW ZH were about,” Lester said. “My father was a huge part of the effort in making this place successful.” :LWK RYHU ÀDYRUV DQG D ZLGH VHOHFWLRQ RI ERWK GRXJKQXWV DQG SLHV Beiler’s Doughnuts made a name for themselves in Pennsylvania, the locaWLRQ RI WKHLU ¿UVW VKRS EHIRUH UHDFKLQJ *HUPDQWRZQ 7KH EXVLQHVV SULGHV WKHPVHOYHV RQ ¿QGLQJ QDWXUDO LQJUHGLHQWV EDNLQJ ZLWK IUHVK IUXLW ² ³QHYer canned,” as Lester said — and abstaining from the use of preservaWLYHV ,W¶V DQ HWKRV UHÀHFWLYH RI WKH $PLVK PDUNHW DV D ZKROH ZKHUH DOO businesses emphasize both quality products and quality community. “We have to make a living, but the customers are really what keep us here,” Lester said. “What I love about working here is the loyalty of the customers, and the relationships between the people here.”
’m lying on the ground. My back is aching. My hands are trembling. Sadie, my horse, rolls over me, her sandy hooves coming within inches of my face. Shouts echo around the arena, but they sound like they’re a world away. I’m staring at Sadie in shock, processing how, just a few seconds ago, she dropped to her knees DQG ÀRSSHG RQWR KHU VLGH ZLWKRXW ZDUQLQJ FUXVKLQJ P\ OHJ LQ WKH SURFHVV A few hours later, now lying on a bed in the emergency room, I learned that the fall had snapped two bones in the lower half of my left leg. That injury changed my “horse girl” life forever, something I was utterly unprepared for. My career as an equestrian began at eight years old. But even before then, I had always been obsessed with horses. In my mind, they held a certain power and beauty, and my favorite movies and books, like “Spirit Untamed” and “Black Beauty,” depicted them as majestically alluring creatures. After begging my parents throughout all of second grade to inYHVW LQ KRUVHEDFN ULGLQJ OHVVRQV WKH\ ¿QDOO\ JDYH LQ DQG HQUROOHG PH DW Meadowbrook Stables, a horseback riding school in Chevy Chase. The facilities were breathtaking, and the horses were magical. At Meadowbrook, I felt that I’d found the horseback riding home I’d always dreamed about. To many of my classmates at school, however, I was just a “horse girl.” A horse girl, for those unaware of the archetype, is stereotypically uncool. She smells as if she has just walked out of a barn, behaves antisocially and tells others that she can communicate better with horses than people. While I didn’t feel like these characterizations were completely accurate, I couldn’t deny that I was, in fact, a horse girl. My identity as a horse girl alienated me at times — often, I didn’t quite assimilate into any of the communities I was a part of. I felt distanced from other kids my age, who typically chose to play on soccer teams or take piano lessons after school. Their interests didn’t resonate with me — school and the stable were my world, so talk of One Direction, sports and 6LOO\EDQG] ÀHZ ULJKW RYHU P\ KHDG $QG \HW , DOVR GLGQ¶W IHHO OLNH , ¿W LQ DPRQJ WKH FURZG DW WKH VWDEOHV $W 0HDGRZEURRN FRPSHWLWLRQ ZDV ¿HUFH 2Q VHYHUDO RFFDVLRQV , UHPHPber walking into the tack room, where riders stored their riding equipment, WR ¿QG VRPHRQH VKDNHQ XS DIWHU D VWDUWOLQJ IDOO IURP WKHLU KRUVH RU LQ WHDUV over insensitive comments from instructors. I, too, felt the pressure to meet my instructors’ expectations — a pressure which often heightened my
nerves as I rode into the arena. Even within Meadowbrook’s high-strung environment, however, I still found joy in my rides. In third grade, as I started riding two to three times a week, I began to spend more time with the horses, too. Before and after each ride, I went through a standard grooming routine; toweling off my horse if they were sweaty, loosening the grime embedded in their short fur with a curry comb, removing the dirt with D KDUG EUXVK IROORZHG E\ D VRIW EUXVK DQG ¿nally, checking their hooves for any rocks or missing horseshoes that could possibly result in a leg injury. %\ ¿IWK JUDGH , LQFUHDVHG P\ WLPH DW WKH stable to four days a week. Walking through the doors was comforting — the familiar smell of hay and the gentle sound of horses nickering welcomed me at the entrance. Soon enough, I learned about the individual personalities of each horse, too: I could judge their attitude in the stall, allowing me to infer how they would react to my cues in the arena. I could tell which horses would spook easily, or which ones would lash out at other horses if they drew too near. And of course, I had a list of favorite horses whom I treated like best friends. In the arena, I felt as if my horse and I were working together to reach a common goal. Those rides were my favorite — the feeling of connection as we worked our way through a MXPSLQJ FRXUVH RU PDGH D ÀDZOHVV WUDQVLWLRQ was invigorating. In those moments, horseback riding became my superpower. In sixth grade, I joined Meadowbrook Stable’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association 7HDP SDUW RI D QDWLRQDO QRQSUR¿W FRPSHWLWLRQ for riders who don’t own their own horses.
From then on, most of my weekends consisted of early morning drives to competition sites. After arriving at 7 a.m., we would groom the KRUVHV WR SHUIHFWLRQ ¿OO ZDWHU DQG JUDLQ EXFNets and polish saddles under the supervision of our watchful instructors. The competitions typically ended around 6 p.m. even though individual rides only lasted around half an hour. I resented these events. Although my pro¿FLHQF\ DV D ULGHU LQFUHDVHG , VLPSO\ GLGQ¶W HQjoy the long hours and stressful environments. Competitors drew horses at random from any competing stable. Judges scored riders based on how they navigated a horse they quite possibly had never met. This practice resulted in the occasional disaster — riders sometimes lost control of their horse, forcing all other competitors to stop their horses until the situation was resolved. In January 2017, I was looking forward to competing in the upcoming regional competitions with my team when my horse, Sadie — who was featured high on my list of favorite horses — suddenly collapsed due to pain from an undetected disease called horse colic. As Sadie rolled over my leg, she broke both my WLELD DQG ¿EXOD LQ KDOI UHQGHULQJ P\ ORZHU OHJ out of commission for months. Along with excruciating physical pain, the leg injury caused me psychological damage that took me many months to overcome. I underwent immediate surgery where doctors implanted a metal plate in my tibia and UHFRQQHFWHG P\ ¿EXOD $IWHU LW WRRN PH IRXU long months to walk without a boot, and almost a year of physical therapy and rest to be able to run again. Although I attempted to take lessons at various stables after my injury, I was never able to rekindle the love I once had for horse-
back riding. Everytime I lost control of my horse or fell from the saddle after a disaster, I felt an immense fear that I was going to hurt myself yet again. Whereas before I loved the thrill of the sport, now, that thrill only scared me. I often found myself overcome by nerves and anxiety, occasionally staying up for hours on nights before competitions to make lists of everything I could improve upon. I didn’t want to admit defeat, but I knew that it was time to let horseback riding go. Although my horseback journey has come to an end, I’m still thankful that it’s shaped my childhood, and the person I am today. I have become resilient; after falls, I learned how to get back up, both physically and emotionally. By working alongside other riders in a highstakes environment, I now know how to accept my limitations while simultaneously working to accomplish my goals. Those days in the stables taught me how to face my fears of failure, but more importantly, they taught me how to recognize and let go of activities that no longer brought me joy. Even though I look back fondly on my magical moments at Meadowbrook, I now realize how damaging some of the competitive aspects of the sport were; the person I am today is much more adept at understanding when a pursuit is harming me more than it’s rewarding me. If I could, would I take back the time I spent with my favorite horses, the extensive competitions or my fateful injury? Nay. My experience as a horse girl taught me lessons that soccer or piano never could — never will I be ashamed of having been a horse girl.
MCPS PREPARES US FOR ACCEPTANCE BUT COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE, NOT FOR COLLEGIATE SUCCESS
s the top public high school in Maryland, Whitman sent 94% of its 2021 graduating class into higher education. Following in the footsteps of classes before them, many of those students matriculated at the nation’s top colleges and universities. Our school, along with Montgomery County as a whole, prides itself on a high college-readiness percentage and above-average mean SAT scores — for Whitman, 85% and 1340, respectively. A dilemma, however, emerges for students after the arrival of those coveted college acceptance letters: How do we translate our high scores into a post-high school aptitude for learning? And as we move on in our academic careers, we are forced to confront another daunting question: Does MCPS really prepare us for success in college? While the encouraging teachers and advanced curricula available in MCPS allow students to build impressive transcripts and engage in varied extracurricular pursuits, countywide statutes often prevent students from experiencing the realities that will inevitably challenge us in higher education. Students often appreciate the leeway provided by the “50% rule” and lack of cumulative exams — but these structures fail to mirror the actuality of grading at most colleges and universities. MCPS abolished formal midterm and final exams in 2015, first effective in the 2016-2017 school year. The Board of Education made the decision, they said, due to the exams’ excessive consumption of class time and detrimental mental and emotional effects on students. Currently, teachers still have permission to administer end-of-semester exams, but most refrain from doing so in order to avoid dedicating class time to review old subject matter and escape additional grading. Many community members saw the decision from MCPS as a stress reliever, but that view neglects the value offered by the previously held cumulative exams. There is some form of a “final-exam season” at Whitman. Since 88% of Whitman students take at least one AP class, the month of May for much of our student population means studying for an exam that covers an entire year of advanced placement learning. Yet, this yearly wave of all-at-once anxiety misleads us; at most universities, some form of a final exam will fall upon students twice, not
once, a year. Without semester exams, we do not have the chance to master the pace of trials required by our college experience. In addition to the necessary preparation skills that midterms will introduce, studying for midterms generally assists in recall of content when AP exams roll around at the end of the school year. AP Environmental Science teacher Mira Chung believes that cumulative midterm and final exams are vital in reducing and handling future stress, she said. “Final exams would help students a lot in terms of their anxiety and understanding how to study,” Chung said. “At college it’s amplified a lot, but you’ll think, ‘Hey, I’ve got this handled now,’ and won’t have to think of [exams] as another thing that’s really stressful.” Midterms are also crucial in determining the actual amount of knowledge students have absorbed. By assessing each semester’s material, students can indicate how they are retaining information and progressing within the course. Despite its high stress environment, midterms are essential, English teacher Matthew Bruneel said. “The notion that there’s a culminating test to prove that you’ve learned something, and it being this kind of high pressure and timed space, it’s not fun — nobody really likes it,” Bruneel said. “However, that’s still the way that colleges do it, and I think that ultimately, all students are less prepared for those expectations in a higher education space.” Chung began her career at Whitman in 2014 — she can note a shift in student performance after the elimination of exams. Students became more laid back and didn’t seem to treat their classes with the same seriousness, she said. Although teachers often use the phrase “This won’t fly in college,” the trivializing of plagiarism at Whitman is an increasingly prevalent issue that does little to prepare us for harsher consequences in college — where plagiarism convictions can even lead to expulsion. While MCPS standard holds that plagiarized work must be automatically graded as a zero, many teachers limit their implementation of this rule, and copied work is rarely caught, according to Chung and Bruneel. Some teachers habitually use websites like turnitin.com to catch
plagiarized essays, but this practice isn’t required. In a 2011 study conducted by Rutgers University, 58% of high schoolers across 70 schools admitted to plagiarizing an assignment. After over a year of online school, Bruneel believes that a lack of communication resulted in students’ misinformed attitudes towards the significance of plagiarism. “I think that the culture, that sense of ‘It’s not okay,’ was just never communicated,” Bruneel said. “It was never present to have that culture, of ‘You have to do your own work.’” Access to the internet has also significantly increased the efficiency of plagiarism. “Because of the internet, because of how easy it is to communicate and share images and videos, everybody’s got a plagiarism device on their hip at all times,” Bruneel said. “[In the past,] I think you had to really want to cheat in order to cheat, and now it can happen so casually, and students are like, ‘What’s the big deal?’” Some might argue that Whitman’s attempted reduction of test-related stress from the removal of midterms supports students’ mental well-being. But while this may benefit us in the present, we’ll only be hurt by our unpreparedness in the future, leading to avoidable anxiety in college. In the long run, experiencing midterm or final exams in highschool will create positive study habits and reduce the anxiety induced by cumulative tests when students begin college. Stricter discipline against plagiarism will also aid in further readiness for the implications of college academics. Implementing these changes would smooth the transition from high school to college — a transition that’s already difficult enough. We already have the resources to succeed in college, now all we need is the framework.
R O F T S JJJU R O F T S U R O F T S U : D R O C E R E : H D TT R O C E R E : H D R O C THE RE Stories and insights into vinyl in the DMV
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aaaor the 21st century music lover, songs are more accessible than ever. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and the radio give listeners access to any track at their fingertips. Even a parent’s dusty CDs and cassette tapes can stimulate an experience reminiscent of the early-2000s. But among students, and the general population, vinyl records are retaking their old glory. Vinyls, invented nearly 100 years ago, are trending as today’s most popular physical music format. Vinyl records first rose in demand in the 1930s, offering consumers the opportunity to purchase their favorite artists’ albums at their own convenience, rather than waiting aimlessly for the radio to play a song that they liked. In the vinyl boom in the subsequent 1950’s vinyl boom, record stores became community spaces, too. People of all ages ventured into these stores to spend time with friends, shop and meet new people with similar interests. In the following decades, tens of thousands of vinyl record stores popped up across the country, allowing customers to flip through boxes upon boxes of various genres and expand their musical horizons. With the rise of CDs in the late 1980s, however, record stores saw a sharp market decline, causing many of them to go out of business. But, in recent years, vinyl has made a comeback. According to data from MRC Data, a music data collection company, and Billboard’s 2021 year-end music report, vinyl album sales continued to grow for the 16th consecutive year in 2021. Last year also saw a dramatic increase in long play or “LP” record sales, surpassing both digital and CD album sales for the first time since 1991. According to the same data from MRC, the proportion of vinyl sales to total physical music sales rose from 1.7% in 2011 to 50.4% in 2021. It’s not uncommon to spot vinyls for sale at larger chain stores including Urban Outfitters and Target, where younger enthusiasts can purchase the tracks at relatively low prices. But for many avid record connoisseurs, it’s the family-owned, local stores that keep them coming back. Many say that the local gems serve as time capsules of the younger vinyl days, selling new and used records, some even stretching genera-
tions. With a cult-like following in the community, they’ve reemerged as places where students and parents alike can spend their weekends flipping through boxes of records — making memories and cultivating an authentic love for music in the process.
Matt Moffatt and Smash Records keep D.C.’s punk scene alive
“Smash! Records! T-Shirts! Clothing!” When Smash Records opened its Georgetown punk rock-themed shop in 1984, those words, written in vibrant spraypaint on their storefront, caught the attention of any passerby. Teenager Matt Moffatt was one of these people. At the time, Moffatt was fascinated by Smash’s alternative persona, and quickly became a regular customer. Fast forward a couple decades, and Moffatt is now the owner of Smash Records, a prominent punk rock and alternative music-themed vinyl record and clothes shop located in the heart of the Adam Morgan neighborhood of D.C. Walking through the doors reveals a punk rock wonderland — the racks are filled with graphic t-shirts from classic nineties skater brands, spunky posters featuring iconic bands like the Grateful Dead and record-filled buckets line the walls. Moffatt took over from the previous owner in 2006 when the store relocated from its original location in Georgetown. When Moffatt discovered his love for music in his early teenage years, the music industry circulated around CDs. However, Moffatt quickly found out that local punk rock acts were often not available on CDs. So, Moffatt relied on vinyl records to own his favorite music, garnering a new appreciation for the industry. “To find that niche music, I either had to dub it from a friend who had it or go seek out the record,” Moffatt said. “So it quickly became like the thrill of the hunt — and you never know what you’re going to find.” Moffatt and his friends would spend hours flipping through records at a different store every weekend in search of new albums, artists and songs to fall in love with. By the time former owner Bobby Polsky opened Smash Records, Moffatt was working at a local record chain
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called Waxie Maxie. However, Moffatt said, Smash was unlike any other record store in the area — from the day its doors opened to the public, the shop firmly established itself in the punk and alternative music subset. “There were so many record stores and chains back then that in order to survive, smaller record stores had to find their own niche,” Moffatt said. “Bobby really picked a good one because it managed to survive and thrive through the years.” Moffatt became a regular customer at Smash, and after years of persistent pleading, he convinced Polsky to hire him in 2003. A few years later, when Polsky announced that he planned on closing the store due to a decline in sales, Moffatt and a couple of his coworkers decided to take over. In 2006, Smash Records moved to its current location in Adams Morgan where Moffatt now shares his love of music and vinyl with the community. “If you come in searching for a specific album, you probably aren’t going to find it, but instead bring home a bunch of other vinyl records that you had no idea existed or you liked,” Moffatt said. Once only a haven for punk rock kids, the store now receives countless customers from various demographics, Moffatt said. Vinyls from artists and bands such as Led Zeppelin and Joni Mitchell used to sit on the shelf for weeks now run out within days of their restock, Moffatt said. “The first Minor Threat record, as well as the first Bad Brands records, are some of the biggest exports,” Moffatt said. “People come from around the world to Smash, and although they can buy these records anywhere, they seem to feel a connection with this music because the bands are from D.C.” Smash Records is open from 12-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 12-9pm Friday-Saturday and 12-7 p.m. Sunday at 2314 18th St NW 2nd floor, Washington, DC.
Johnson Lee keeps his family legacy spinning at Joe’s Record Paradise
Johnson Lee, the current owner of Joe’s Record Paradise in Silver Spring, has been surrounded by music throughout his whole life.
LEFT: Customers flip through vinyl collections at Joe’s Record Paradise, located in Silver Spring. The store ofers many subgenres for visitors to discover through its unique listening stations. Photos by NOAH LANTOR
His father, Joe, opened the record shop a year before Johnson was born, in 1974. Whether he was producing albums or discovering new up-and-coming artists, Johnson remembers how Joe transformed the store into a local prize where people could diversify their music — and today, Johnson preserves that legacy by continuing to sell a wide variety of records, from rock to jazz to blues to disco. Joe also often helped live artists book gigs at local clubs, giving his shop a unique merit. “My father would book a club from outof-town and instead of spending money on a hotel, he would invite them to stay at our house,” Johnson said. “It’s been a big musical journey for me.” When he was young, Johnson would work in the backroom with his dad to seal records. During his teenage years, he started to work at the front of the record shop, manning the register. Johnson began to appreciate how vinyl’s special ability to offer a look into exactly what the artists thought about while recording. In the 20th century, artists specifically recorded their music to be played on vinyl — the most popular means of listening to music at the time. This creates an added layer of depth often absent from digital music streaming, Johnson said. In his 22 years managing the business, Johnson has become well versed in the most obscure and underground of artists. “[Working at Joe’s] gave me a better grip of the music culture that surrounds us,” Johnson said. “Most people pay attention to what the mass media gives us, and honestly it doesn’t always have much substance and they miss out a lot on other genres and musicians that they might like.” Before the modern age of instant messages and group FaceTimes, record stores served as community centers that cultivated a social enviroment. Johnson has seen the power of that community countless times at Joe’s, he said — from college roommates running into each other for the first time in 20 years to friendships budding from discovering a similar music tastes, the shop brings people together. Johnson and his father built their collection — now, up to tens of thousands of records — by receiving donations, seeking out new records and buying collections from community members. “I want to keep Silver Spring and the D.C. area funky,” Johnson said. “I’ll really take on anything I can if it looks interesting.” The shop functions in a distinct way. First, customers venture to a section of their choosing — categorized by genre — then flip through the record boxes, creating a stack of tracks that interest them. Then, they can use one of the three listening stations scattered throughout the store to decide on their potential purchase. Joe’s also tends to sell vinyls by artists within more specific categories and subgenres. Bob Marley, Madonna and Michael Jackson are some of the best selling artists at the store, as well as jazz and classic rock from the mid to late 20th century. “Although one can have 1000s of songs
and albums on their computers, many people enjoy the tactical sense of being able to hold vinyl,” Johnson said. “If you dropped your computer and you didn’t back it up then you would lose everything, but if I dropped a record, it would probably chip my floor.” Joe’s Record Paradise is open from 12-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 12-6 p.m. Sundays, at 8700 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD.
Baisinger-Rosen’s love for records spins generations deep
Junior Clara Baisinger-Rosen’s father has always been an avid vinyl collector. Now, she’s a collector too. “My house is filled with records; you can’t go in a room without seeing one,” Baisinger-Rosen said. “It just seemed natural that I took it up too.” Vinyl is unlike other collectible items, she said, because if you know where to shop, the records can be surprisingly inexpensive. Mainstream chain stores like Urban Outfitters have started to sell relatively cheap record players to their younger demographic. Although their machines are not high quality — Baisinger-Rosen noted that they often “mess up records” — they are catalyzing the spread of vinyls’ popularity. On the other hand, thrift stores often have a selection of decent quality record players and Baisinger-Rosen has a long list of her favorite record stores in the DMV, which sell a variety of new and used records. “I just really like listening to music and to be honest, I don’t necessarily think that it sounds that much better than listening to music on headphones,” Baisinger-Rosen said. “But it just creates a certain level of ambiance that is just so cool.” Baisinger-Rosen especially enjoys listening to some of the older records in her collection that have a unique, underlying “crunchy” vibe — a product of the subtle cracks and pops within the audio. There’s also a certain handson experience that accompanies listening to vinyl, she said. “The process of putting on a record then flipping it over is a really personal way to interact with music that you can’t exactly get online because you are just so connected to it and the moment,” Baisinger-Rosen said. Baisinger-Rosen also explained how the low monetary compensation that streaming services allot to artists plays a role in her vinyl-collecting habits. “On streaming services like Spotify, it doesn’t feel like you’re necessarily supporting an artist, instead you’re just picking a song,” Baisinger-Rosen said. “So when you buy a record, that’s like a way of directly supporting an artist and feeling like you have something to show for it.”
Scheetz expands his passion for music through collecting vinyl records
When senior Jack Sheetz picked up Bob Dylan’s autobiography in his freshman year, he had no idea that the book would change his life.
However, after reading about the behind-thescenes process of creating a Bob Dylan song, Scheetz discovered a newfound passion for all things music-related. Now, in his free time, he’s often on the search to expand his music knowledge by reading articles, watching live performances and listening to unreleased songs from his favorite artists — he even attempted to teach himself how to play guitar to combat quarantine boredom. So, naturally, when vinyl records started to pop up on his social media feeds, Scheetz eagerly hopped on the trend, he said. “I have to admit that I kind of was a victim of the trend and started collecting because I saw others doing it,” Scheetz said. “I’ve always been a fan of older music and they’re always tied with vinyl records.” Finding those who share musical interests is the most important aspect of listening to music, Sheetz said. He attributes music’s ability to connect people to fueling his passion for vinyl. “Engaging with music should be very discussion-based and vinyl is definitely part of that discussion,” Scheetz said. Similar to Baisinger-Rosen, Scheetz’s parents also inspired his dive into collecting. Scheetz grew up listening to his parents’ stories of their first record purchases when they were his age — they even gifted him a record player after he dipped his toe into the vinyl industry. Scheetz makes frequent trips to vinyl stores on the weekends and majkes sure to explore local stores when traveling to grow his collections. Some of his personal favorite records include “OK Computer” by Radiohead, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” by Kendrick Lamar and “Either/Or” by Elliot Smith. “I get a lot of records from Joe’s,” Scheetz said. “They have a really great, interesting selection of used vinyl and although I have gotten some pretty beat up records, they still sound great.” Scheetz also enjoys the unpredictability that comes with buying used records. Even though he owns a couple of records that are over thirty years old — which he bought used for $5 — they still have relatively few flaws. Scheetz said that the discovery of his favorite records came from simply flipping through boxes and pulling out records and being attracted to vinyl with unique cover artwork or performed by artists with interesting names. As legendary artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell began to take their music off of streaming platforms, vinyl record’s permanence seems more valuable than ever — with a physical copy in your hands, you know it’s not going anywhere, Scheetz said. “There is just something unmatched with listening to vintage vinyl because it’s how the artist intended it to be listened to,” Scheetz said. “If you have a close relationship with music and are enthusiastic about it, then [collecting vinyl] will help you nurture that.”
More than just the military: Whitman, give JROTC a chance by STEPHANIE SOLOMON 18
Not every classroom is furnished with rows of desks. Senior 4XD]L 0XVWDID LQVWHDG VWDUWV KLV ¿UVW SHULRG LQ D ORFNHU URRP 7KHUH KH FKDQJHV LQWR KLV VWLII FDPRXÀDJH XQLIRUP W 7KHQ KH falls into formation among his fellow cadets. The students stand LQ WKH SRVLWLRQ RI DWWHQWLRQ VDOXWLQJ WKHLU RI¿FHUV DV WKH\ FRPplete attendance. The exercise begins his favorite course at school: JROTC. 7KH 8 6 $UP\ HVWDEOLVKHG WKH -XQLRU 5HVHUYH 2I¿FHUV¶ 7UDLQing Corps (JROTC) in 1916, aiming to instill a strong sense of citizenship, accomplishment and development into young AmeriFDQ ER\V 7KH SURJUDP ¿UVW JDYH ZRPHQ WKH RSSRUWXQLW\ WR MRLQ LQ 1972, and currently allows people of all gender identities to take part. Whitman does offer a wide array of extracurricular activities and specialized programs for students, from bocce to aerospace engineering. But JROTC, a staple course at many other schools nationally, is absent at Whitman — and that should change. JROTC allows students to engage in activities including miliWDU\ GULOOV PDUFKLQJ ¿WQHVV UHJLPHQV ³FRORU JXDUG´ ² SUHVHQWDWLRQ RI WKH QDWLRQDO ÀDJ ² DQG RULHQWHHULQJ D IDVW SDFHG QDYLJDtional exercise with the use of a map and compass. It is not violent in nature, and combat is prohibited. The program typically takes place during the school day, serving as an elective course. The concepts covered in the program are often different from common misconceptions about military training. At Col. Zadok Magruder High School’s JROTC program, which has the greatest enrollment out of any inthe JROTC program in MCPS with the greatest enrollment, lessons center on many areas of focus LQFOXGLQJ VHWWLQJ ¿QDQFLDO JRDOV PDQDJLQJ DQJHU OHDUQLQJ HIIHFtive study habits and instilling cadet etiquette. Students also plan and participate in Student Service Learning events such as marathon-fundraisers and an annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony. -527& EHQH¿WV UHDFK EH\RQG PLOLWDU\ WUDLQLQJ $FFRUGLQJ WR a 2017 study conducted by the RAND Corporation, 16% of public high schools in the United States have a JROTC program. All of these schools reported positive correlations between program participation and student GPAs; the average GPA of a JROTC member is 0.2 higher than the national average. JROTC participation also results in higher attendance rates and decreased dropout rates, as indicated by the 2017 study, and membership takes a prominent role on résumés and college applications, indicating that a student is highly disciplined and committed to a time-consuming activity. Both the JROTC and ROTC programs strive to instill discipline within every cadet — whether through strict attendance requirements, respect for sergeants or vigorous workouts — and assert the importance of timeliness and order. Successful completion of drills creates a sense of accomplishment for students, which, DFFRUGLQJ WR FDGHWV LQFUHDVHVLQJ WKHLU VHOI FRQ¿GHQFH DFFRUGLQJ to cadets. JROTC also instills a sense of purpose in many teens, motivating them to hold themselves to a higher standard — both
physically and mentally. These skills are essential for success in an academic setting and in the workplace. Angelica Cruz Martinez, a senior at Magruder and a member of JROTC, found that her involvement facilitated academic success. While she doesn’t plan to enroll in the college-level program — referred to as just “ROTC” — the skills she gained from JROTC in high school have been instrumental in her life, regarding leadership ability and a positive mindset, she said. “The program has helped me improve my grades and understand the importance of doing well in school,” Cruz Martinez said. “In college I think it will help me be a better student, manage my time, problem solve and improve my physical health.” -527& PHPEHUV DOVR UHDS ¿QDQFLDO EHQH¿WV )XQGHG E\ WKH United States Department of Defense, 260 public and private uniYHUVLWLHV DFURVV WKH FRXQWU\ SURYLGH SDUWLFLSDQWV ZLWK VSHFL¿F RSportunities to receive merit-based scholarships, even without commitment to ROTC or anticipated military service. If a high school student receives a scholarship to participate in ROTC, they enroll in a typical college class schedule in addition to military training. The student is also required to serve in the military, Air Force or reserves for four years following graduation. However, non-scholarship ROTC members are only required to serve for three years if they choose to sign with the military during their junior year of college. Since few students at Whitman choose a military-oriented career path — of those reporting, only one student chose to attend a service academy last year — the absence of JROTC is unsurprising. Also, support for the military is commonly seen as a conserYDWLYH YDOXH ZKHUHDV PXFK RI WKH :KLWPDQ FRPPXQLW\ LGHQWL¿HV with contrasting liberal values. However, the JROTC program is QRW RQO\ EHQH¿FLDO WR WKRVH ZLWK PLOLWDU\ DPELWLRQV ,W SURPRWHV VNLOOV WKDW DUH FUXFLDO IRU VXFFHVV LQ DQ\ ¿HOG $QG IRU WKRVH QRW LQvolved in athletics, music or clubs at the high school level, JROTC provides an opportunity for a similar community environment. Mustafa plans to attend West Point Military Academy in the fall. For him, JROTC created the ideal environment to gain leadership and undergo personal growth. In his application to West Point, Mustafa’s involvement in JROTC service-learning projects allowed him to establish relationships with military and governPHQW RI¿FLDOV HQDEOLQJ KLP WR EXLOG DQ LPSUHVVLYH UpVXPp ZLWK genuine pursuits and obtain strong recommendation letters from leaders he admires. “You get to be part of something bigger than yourself,” Mustafa said. “JROTC laid the foundation for me to develop my leadership and communication skills, and helped me to grow into the person I am today.”
A Single Pill
Social media increases access to drugs by LAUREN HEBERLEE Some names have been changed to protect students’ privacy At 6:00 a.m. on January 17, Marc Hausman found his 16 year-old son, sophomore /DQGHQ +DXVPDQ O\LQJ RQ KLV EDWKURRP ÀRRU his face covered in blood. Landen was gone. Just hours earlier, Landen had returned home from a ski trip and checked in with his parents. He seemed happy, his dad said. Moments later, he went into his bathroom, locked the door behind him, cut a straw in half, crushed a single pill and snorted it. It was just one pill — but no second chances. The necessity of sharing Landon’s story was stressed in a message from Marc on Linkedin a week after his son’s passing. In the post, he urged community members to share the non-romanticised account, in full detail with children, family and friends.” “There is no shame in Landen’s death,” Marc wrote in the posting. “I just want to prevent this tragedy from befalling another family.” Drug overdoses claimed 100,306 lives between April 2020 and April 2021 — the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a single year in the United States. Seventy percent of these overdoses were caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid with the potential to be fatal in even miniscule doses. Although the Hausman family has yet to receive an autopsy report, police suspect the pill Landen took was laced with fentanyl, Marc said. Contributing to the recent increase in overdose deaths among teenagers is the sale of fentanyl-laced pills purchased through social media, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Over the past decade, the drug market has shifted online — ZKHUH LOOHJDO GUXJV DUH DYDLODEOH DW WKH ¿QJHUtips of social media users. For junior Alex, obtaining access to LSD, shrooms, cocaine, Xanax, Percocet, methamphetamine and fentanyl was simple — open Snapchat and message her dealer.
Trigger warning: This article contains discussion of accidental death.
“I started using drugs in January of 2020,” Alex said. “I would smoke weed almost everyday, but other drugs it was less often, about once a week.” Prescription pills that resemble Xanax, Percocet, Adderall or OxyContin but contain a dose of fentanyl, with or without the user’s knowledge, are widely abundant online. These pills are stamped with an imprint, usually letters or numbers, to perfectly imitate real medication from a pharmacy — telling the difference by solely observation is nearly impossible. One hundred times stronger than morphine and 50 times more powerful than heroin, fentanyl’s potency increases still when combined with other drugs. According to the DEA, two RI HYHU\ ¿YH FRXQWHUIHLW SLOOV VHL]HG E\ ODZ HQforcement contain lethal amounts of fentanyl. 2Q 0DUFK ¿YH :HVW 3RLQW $FDGHP\ cadets overdosed on fentanyl laced cocaine, four or whom were hospitalized. Two of the men had not ingested the drug, but still went into respiratory arrest after administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on two unconscious cadets. An informal study conducted by the Organization for Social Media Safety found that a teenager can connect with a drug dealer through social media platforms and receive their “menu” of drugs for sale in under three minutes. “Most of my friends do the same drugs,” $OH[ VDLG ³VR LW ZDV HDV\ WR ¿QG GHDOHUV RQ Snap who would sell to me, and most of them post what kind of drugs they have on their stories.” Fentanyl, when legally prescribed, is used for pain management. Originally developed as a cancer treatment, doctors prescribe it as either a patch — applied to a patient’s skin — or in lozenge form. Due to its opioid properties, which include side effects like relaxation, sedation, pain relief and euphoria, fentanyl has become a substance in high demand for illegal abuse. The drug is predominantly manufactured in illicit labs in China and Mexico and
then smuggled across the U.S. border; although the United States also houses some clandestine fentanyl manufacturing operations, according to the DEA. Fentanyl is inexpensive to produce and distribute, adding to its widespread popularity. Usually sold between $20 to $40 per gram, considerably less compared to cocaine (around $110 per gram) and heroin (around $150 per gram), illegal fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs that can be smoked, swallowed, injected or snorted to increase its effects. However, users may not be aware they are buying a fentanyl combination product when attempting to purchase other drugs. Only a small amount of fentanyl is needed to induce a high, and it is extremely addictive. Without an opioid tolerance, two milligrams of fentanyl, the equivalent to a few grains of salt, can be a deadly dose. In October 2021, the United States Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Safety and Data Security held a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube.” During the hearing, U.S. senators pressed senior executives from these three social media companies to answer questions about their efforts to protect children from drug dealers on their platforms — and whether the steps they have taken to date are efIHFWLYH $OO WKUHH H[HFXWLYHV WHVWL¿HG WKDW WKHLU respective companies recognize the urgency of this issue and have implemented measures to ensure the safety of young platform-users. ³2YHU WKH ODVW \HDU ZH KDYH VLJQL¿FDQWO\ strengthened our tools for proactively detecting drug-dealing activity and shutting down dealers, improved our support for law enforcement, and educated Snapchatters about the fatal dangers of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl,” said Rachel Racusen, Director of Communications at Snap inc. 5DFXVHQ GHWDLOHG VSHFL¿F DFWLRQV 6QDS KDV taken to address the fentanyl epidemic. These include growing its in-house Law Enforcement 2SHUDWLRQV WHDP E\ WR LPSURYH HI¿FLHQF\ in responding to law enforcement requests for
data related to their investigations and developing several in-app education resources. An example of these resources is a portal called “Heads Up” which shows content from substance abuse experts whenever a Snapchatter searches for drugs — the results of which they block. Additionally, they have broadcasted public service announcements and a new series on its in-house news show “Good Luck America,” about the dangers of fentanyl and counterfeit pills. During the hearing, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of Snapchat’s actions, stating that social media platforms might address this problem quicker if they were legally held liable for deaths caused by drugs purchased on their platforms. 0DUF %HUNPDQ &KLHI ([HFXWLYH 2I¿FHU RI WKH 2UJDQL]DWLRQ IRU 6Rcial Media Safety, agrees. “If you can prove that the platform was negligent or reckless in allowing the dealer to conduct the drug sale, then yes, the company should be held legally responsible,” Berkman said. “And I would say in most of these cases that we know about, the platforms could have done something to prevent the transaction.” The Organization for Social Media Safety is currently lobbying Congress to pass Sammy’s bill, legislation named after Sammy Chapman, a 16-year-old who died in February 2021 after taking drugs laced with fentanyl that he bought over Snapchat. The bill would require soFLDO PHGLD FRPSDQLHV WR LQWHJUDWH SDUHQW PRQLWRULQJ VRIWZDUH VSHFL¿cally sending alerts to parents if their children interact with harmful or illegal content. Social media companies argue this violates user privacy guidelines and may also harm children who use social media as a safe place for support, such as young people who choose to “come out” on a social media app by sharing their sexual or gender identity, without worrying about their parents’ disapproval or adverse reaction. In addition to legislative advocacy work, families who have lost children to a fentanyl overdose stress the need for more education about the dangers of drug use to both students and parents. After losing her son to an overdose in March 2021, Dr. Beth Weinstock founded BirdieLight, an organization that spreads awareness about the dangers of fentanyl in drugs. BirdieLight supplies fentanyl test strips and narcan, an over-the-counter nasal spray that reverses the effects of opioids, and organizes trainings for high school and college students — both tools that are capable of preventing a fentanyl overdose. “From my standpoint, education is the best way to address the fentanyl crisis,” Weinstock said. “BirdieLight is focused on the age demographic of 15-25. In the same way that we’ve provided sex education in the schools across the country and tried to teach everyone how to stay safe, we can also do that for avoiding fentanyl.” Since over half of all U.S. teenagers log on to a social media site at least once a day, drug dealers are highly motivated to continue evading sites’ efforts to block them. The incredible volume of information posted on social media creates challenges in monitoring illegal activity, and drug dealers often use multiple platforms in the selling process — one site to market their drugs, one to message buyers and one to conduct sales. Alex experienced Snapchat’s “crackdown,” she called it, as did a couple of her friends when their Snapchat accounts were suspended; however, this hasn’t prevented them from continuing to buy drugs post-suspension. Weinstock understands that even with more awareness, improved technology and new laws, there will always be teenagers who continue to take risks and experiment with dangerous drugs. So, BirdieLight has set a goal to put a fentanyl test strip, with instructions attached, in the hands of every single high school and college student in America. The strips determine whether or not a drug contains fentanyl. Wein-
stock’s hope is that young people will be increasingly cautious and decide to test all of their drugs — and to dispose of any drug that tests positive. ³0\ ¿UVW PHVVDJH LV WKDW QRERG\ WDNHV DQ\WKLQJ WKHVH GD\V EHFDXVH the stakes are so much higher than they’ve ever been,” Weinstock said. “But I also feel that message isn’t going to work for everyone — we still need to tell people if they are ever going to ingest a drug they test it ¿UVW 7KLV LV D UHDOO\ KHDY\ DQG GDUN PHVVDJH EXW WKLV LV KRZ GDQJHURXV ingestion of substances is in 2022.”
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Advocates push for school name changes
When students at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School returned to their building in August 2021, Lee’s name, which had been displayed in bold letters at the entrance for the last 54 years, was gone. A different name had taken its place: Odessa Shannon.
BY simone Meyer Lee was a Maryland politician in the 1920s and ‘30s whose segregationist policies prevented Black people from buying homes in the area; Shannon was the first Black woman elected to public office in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of the name change back in November 2020. Board members said the decision reflected their desire for schools’ namesakes to better represent not only student populations but the district’s goal of highlighting individuals who made positive contributions to the community. In 2020, during the construction of a new school facility, the Board of Education first reached out to the former Col. Brooke E. Lee Middle School about the possibility of changing its name. The school community was excited about this initiative, Principal Kimber-
ly Williams said. After a committee of 10 community members deliberated on several new names, they ultimately landed on Odessa Shannon’s. “I think us having somebody who’s so tied to the community and able to share how much she did for our personal community is exactly what we needed,” Williams said. “So we always want to make her proud of what we’re doing here and what our students are aspiring to be.” Odessa Shannon Middle School’s renaming is just one example of the shifting attitudes towards honoring certain historical figures. In Montgomery County and nationwide, leaders are grappling with the debate over whether or not figures who held racist and hateful beliefs should continue to receive recognition. Following the racial reckoning that arose
after the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, activists and government officials alike have sought to remove many Confederate statues and symbols from public spaces. But even before these national discussions gained prominence, Montgomery County had already started the process of considering new titles for some schools. On June 26, 2019, then-Deputy Superintendent Monifa McKnight sent a report to the Board identifying six schools named after individuals who either owned enslaved people or supported slavery. The schools mentioned were Montgomery Blair High School, Francis Scott Key Middle School, Col.l Zadok Magruder High School, Richard Montgomery High School, John Poole Middle School and Thomas S. Wootton High School. All of these historical figures played prominent roles in American history. Blair was Postmaster General under president Abraham Lincoln, Key wrote the lyrics to the national anthem, Magruder and Montgomery were Revolutionary War leaders and Wootton was a member of the Maryland Constitutional Convention. All of these individuals, however, owned enslaved people. Magruder and his family had a tradition of slave ownership — he owned 26 in 1790, acknowledged in the application that registered his house as a historic site. Wootton owned around three dozen, according to the Bethesda Beat. On Oct. 6, 2020 the board directed McKnight to work with each of these schools in deciding whether or not to change their name. Bethesda Magazine reported that the Board of Education will consider renaming any school whose community shows strong advocacy against their existing namesake. Board member Scott Joftus believes that despite any controversy around removing the names of prominent historical figures from school facilities, prejudiced individuals should not represent educational institutions. “I think it’s an important, symbolic act to say that we’re not going to put racists on a pedestal,” Joftus said. “It also affords us an opportunity to elevate the names of lesser known people who have also contributed greatly to our society.” Under the Board’s guidance, the renaming policy emphasizes naming schools after women and people of color to increase equality through representation. Additionally, a December 2021 proposal stated that any new names must be non-discriminatory and honor a figure with an understanding of cultural diversity. In the case of Odessa Shannon Middle School, the Board chose an individual who would accurately represent the student body, they said, as Odessa Shannon Middle School is less than 5% white-identifying. Junior Sam Navarro, a student at Richard Montgomery High School, believes that the recent initiative to bring slaveholder namesakes to light can be attributed to increased local activism in recent years. When Navarro realized that the name he wore proudly on his lacrosse
jersey belonged to a slaveholder, he was at a loss for words, he said. “My initial reaction was just ‘Why didn’t the school tell us?’” Navarro said. “In a county that dives so deep into segregation and racism, I don’t understand how this is something that’s not going to be talked about.” Maryland is one of thirteen states that has a county named after Richard Montgomery. Montgomery was an Irish soldier who immigrated to America in 1772, where he bought a farm and married into a prominent slaveholding family. He later fought in the Revolutionary War as a major general in the Continental Army. In 2020, Richard Montgomery students sent an online petition with over 1,000 signatures to the Board of Education urging them to rename the school. Around the same time, Magruder High School students sent a similar petition to the Board, which racked up over 3,100 signatures lobbying for their school’s name change. Both schools’ names have since been deliberated by the Board for possible renaming. However, neither community has received any further information about a change since they sent their respective petitions. While many members of the Magruder community support this initiative, there is an established divide among alumni and students over the possibility, said student body president Mogami Kariya, a senior. Kariya believes that when it comes to renaming schools, a popular vote within the school community should determine whether or not these figures deserve to be honored in the form of a namesake, he said. “Whether they’re good or bad, I think it’s really important to know that these people were part of our history and what they did,” Kariya said. “I think it’s important for the students to judge whether it’s something we should continue to remember or something we forget and move on from.” Opponents of the proposals for change argue that the process of altering school merchandise and plaques is too costly, and that it erases important American history, citing how some of these historical figures played an undeniable role in shaping our nation, despite their racist beliefs which were common in their time. In 2019, Rockville High School’s student newspaper The Rampage published a pro/con article around renaming certain schools in MCPS named after racist individuals. Among the cons the publication recognized was that renaming schools may cause community members to forget valuable lessons learned from the actions of those same historical figures. To Whitman junior Eleanor Pugh, a previous candidate for the Student Member of the Board, however, schools should be named after individuals that all students can view as role models. This standard isn’t met by slaveholders who actively discriminated against people of color, she said. Changing the name of Mont-
gomery County itself was the focus of Pugh’s campaign. “I don’t think that [Montgomery] represents the county, especially since our county is so diverse,” Pugh said. “He also never set foot in our county, so it doesn’t really make sense that we honor him in such a way.” While removing Richard Montgomery’s name from school facilities and The Board of Education might induce pushback from parts of the community, Pugh believes that most of the county will be in favor of the change, she said. Nationwide, similar action continues to spur name-changing campaigns. Elected committees representing large districts like the San Francisco Board of Education and the Cleveland Metropolitan Board of Education considered passing legislation to rename school facilities whose names don’t uphold modern values. The Cleveland Metropolitan Board eventually passed criteria in December 2021 that emphasized naming schools after individuals who made remarkable contributions to the nation, state or county. The San Francisco Board, in contrast, ended their efforts due to COVID-19, instead allotting their energy towards combating the pandemic’s impact on their schools. As a result, the Board kept the names of 44 public schools whose namesakes hold ties to racist beliefs and actions. Members of the MCPS community display a divergence in opinion on the topic of current social equity efforts, Joftus said. Some white community members in the MCPS district Joftus represents, which include Chevy Chase and parts of Potomac, believe that equity work itself is racist, he said, which creates challenges in consulting with school districts about issues involving racism. “I think there are a lot of people who feel threatened by this kind of work and feel that [it] means that they or their children will get less than or be treated differently than they’ve been treated in the past,” Joftus said. “We just have to keep educating and engaging and [understand] that people feel threatened by it, but we can’t let that stop the work, because it’s certainly the right work.” Advocates remain resolved in communicating the necessity of changing the names. The reasons behind name changes are too important to ignore, Williams said. “Walking into a location named after someone who would have prevented the very same minority students in this community from attending is yet another microaggression for them to navigate,” Williams said. “The renaming of the school is just one of many steps to demonstrate as a society that people who are racist, whether past or present, should not be associated with public schools that are here to equitably serve all students regardless of race.”
with Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates
Tom Perez (D): Tom Perez (D) is a politician and lawyer who most recently served as Chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to 2021. Previously, he worked in the Obama administration as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 2009 to 2013, and as United States Secretary of Labor from 2013 until 2017. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Perez holds a B.A from Brown University, a degree from Harvard Law School and a Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Perez lives with his family in Takoma Park, Maryland, and served one term on the Montgomery County Council before his appointment as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation in 2007.
Peter Franchot (D): Peter Franchot is a politician and the current Comptroller of 0DU\ODQG DQ RI¿FH KH¶V KHOG since 2006. Franchot represented Silver Spring and Takoma Park in the Maryland House of Delegates for 20 years. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Franchot attended Amherst College and went on to earn a law degree from the Northeastern University School of Law. He was elected to a third term as Comptroller in 2018 with 72.1% of the vote.
by ETHAN SCHENKER
John King Jr. (D): John King Jr. is a public servant and educator who served as the United States Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama from 2016 to 2017, and as acting Deputy Secretary of Education from 2015 until the president tapped him to lead the agency. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, King earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College, and his law degree from the Yale Law School and later received both a Masters and a Doctor of Education from Columbia University. King taught high school social studies and worked as a middle school principal before serving as the New York Commissioner of Education from 2011 to 2015. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife and two daughters, and is President of WKH (GXFDWLRQ 7UXVW D QRQSUR¿W organization that seeks to close opportunity and achievement gaps in education.
Dan Cox (R): Dan Cox is a politician and lawyer. He has represented Maryland’s fourth district in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2019, and previously served as Secretary of the Frederick County Central Republican Committee. Born in Washington, D.C., Cox attended the University of Maryland and received a law degree from Regent University. Prior to his election to the House of Delegates, Cox worked in educational policy. He lives in Frederick County, Maryland with his wife and ten children, and operates his own ODZ ¿UP
Maryland’s 2022 gubernatorial primary elections will take place on July 19. The Black & White interviewed Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates using the same set of questions to offer a side-by-side comparison of their policies, goals and experience. Responses have been edited for length and clarity. The Black & White: Why did you decide to run for governor? Tom Perez: I decided to run for governor because I think we have an incredible opportunity to improve people’s lives and to make sure Maryland punches above its weight on jobs, justice, healthcare, climate change and opportunity for everyone. We’re the richest state in the country, and yet we have so many people living below the poverty line. We are all too frequently a tale of two states, and I want to make sure that zip code never determines destiny in this state. I’ll make sure of that, because my whole career has been about jobs, justice and opportunity. Peter Franchot: I’m running for governor because I want to help the vulnerable. There are hundreds of thousands of families in Maryland right now — generally low-wage earners in the hospitality sector — who have no money for food, medicine, or rent. They have been disproportionately affected by the damage that has been done by COVID because they live in a congested living situation, and it annihilated WKHP ¿QDQFLDOO\ ,¶P UXQQLQJ IRU JRYHUQRU WR repair that damage, and to address the economy generally, which has been affected tremendously. John King Jr.: I really decided to run for governor for the same reason that I got into SXEOLF VHUYLFH LQ WKH ¿UVW SODFH D GHHS EHOLHI LQ a role that public institutions can play in people’s lives. That was shaped by my experience growing up as a kid. When I was little, both of my parents were educators, but they both passed away when I was very young — my mom when I was eight, and my dad when I was +RPH ZDV LQFUHGLEO\ GLI¿FXOW DQG XQVWDble and scary, and the thing that saved me was school; school was the one place that was safe and consistent and nurturing. As a teenager, like many kids who’ve experienced trauma, I struggled a lot and actually got kicked out of high school. But it was teachers and a school counselor who gave me a second chance, and were willing to see me as more than the sum of my mistakes. Because of them, I became a teacher and a principal and tried to do for other kids what educators have done for me, and running for governor is really an extension of that same principle that government can be a powerful force for good in people’s lives. Dan Cox: The last two years in particular, we’ve seen an unprecedented attack on our constitutional freedoms. The result has been a loss of our basic freedoms that we’ve known for 400 years, such that people were arrested for trying to go to church, and arrested for trying to open their businesses and provide for
their families. They were threatened if they were to speak out under the First Amendment and were to leave their houses under the stayat-home order. Many Republican states have shown a better way of providing governmental support to ensure that we don’t lose many lives. Article 44 under the Declaration of Rights of Maryland guarantees that our Constitution is established at all times, especially for emergencies. Otherwise, government leaders would just simply misuse their powers whenever there’s a despot in charge. That is the number one reason why I felt that this is the time and the moment that we need to run. The B&W: How has your experience prepared you for this role? Tom Perez: The next governor is going to be the multitasker-in-chief. It would be wonderful to only have to work on one thing, but we have multiple challenges in this state. We need a leader who will bring down the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs and healthcare, and who has a proven track record of working in this area; I’ve done that. We need a leader who understands how we can insure Marylanders, and I’ve already put out a proposal to make sure that every Maryland resident, regardless of immigration status, has access to quality, affordable health insurance. I think it’s an economic imperative, and a moral imperative. The next governor needs to have a proven track record in creating jobs. I worked as part of President Obama’s economic team, and we had the longest uninterrupted streak of private sector job growth in our nation’s history. If we have another recession, we need a governor who’s going to make sure you get your unemSOR\PHQW LQVXUDQFH EHQH¿WV LQ D WLPHO\ IDVKion. Larry Hogan dropped the ball, so people were waiting eight months, but I was the Labor Secretary in Maryland during the Great Recession, and people weren’t waiting eight months — we were making sure that people got their XQHPSOR\PHQW EHQH¿WV LQ D WLPHO\ IDVKLRQ Peter Franchot: There’s never been a candidate like me for governor, because I have H[WUDRUGLQDU\ ¿VFDO H[SHULHQFH \HDUV RQ WKH House Appropriations Committee — ending up as an important subcommittee chair — dealing with the budget of the state of Maryland every session, and then the last 15 years as the statewide elected Comptroller. I am also the tax administrator for the state, and am the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the State Retirement Pension Fund. I have a unique length of experience in dealing with the economic problems and opportunities facing the state. John King Jr.: I think there’s a lot that the perspective of an educator can bring to state government. As an educator, you see how deeply interconnected all of our systems are — how kids and families are affected by food insecurity, housing insecurity, the criminal justice system and whether or not parents are able WR ¿QG D JRRG MRE $QG ,¶YH ZRUNHG DW HYHU\ level: at the classroom level, at the school level as a principal, at the local level and at the state level before serving in the Obama administra-
tion. As Secretary of Education, I oversaw a budget that was more than $15 billion bigger than the budget of the state of Maryland, and was responsible for the oversight of K-12 Education and higher education. I have experience getting big things done in government, and I think that will be crucial. I also founded a progressive advocacy organization called Strong Future Maryland, to work on an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. That experience working on urgent progressive priorities in Annapolis will also help prepare me for the work ahead. Dan Cox: I’m serving as a state delegate, but for the last 16 years, I have been a small EXVLQHVVPDQ DQG UXQ P\ RZQ ODZ ¿UP 7KDW has prepared me immensely because when I heard and saw people having their businesses shut down, I knew that if that had happened to me, my wife and our 10 children would have had a serious problem being able to eat. A lot of people hold a misperception of JRYHUQPHQW RI¿FH DV VRPH ORIW\ SRVLWLRQ WR aspire to — but it’s not. It’s a position of servLQJ WKH SHRSOH DQG VLQFH WKH KLJKHVW RI¿FH LQ Maryland is the governorship, it should be the most sensitive towards the people’s needs. I’ve served in government since 1994, when I was head of the College Republicans and worked for my congressman. I’ve worked for a presidential candidate, and worked for 10 years in education policy, regularly testifying in Annapolis on different education freedom bills. Without free choice to teach our kids in the American spirit and in writing, we’re going to lose the next generation. The next generation will think that Cuba is some beautiful place on Earth that is to be modeled after in government, EXW LW¶V QRW ² VRFLDOLVP VXFNV ,W LV KRUUL¿F communism is worse, and Cuba has both. As a constitutional attorney who litigates in federal and state court on constitutional issues, I also defend churches, small businesses, and individuals who’ve been discriminated DJDLQVW DQG ¿UHG ZURQJIXOO\ ² DV ZHOO DV LQdividuals who’ve had reverse discrimination committed against them. When they shut down the legislature 24 months ago, the governor put Humvees around the state capitol. I included this in the federal court brief that I wrote because I was so shocked that we would shut down our system of government for a so-called emergency that was expanding a sincere need for health concerns to take possession over our property, and even take possession over our bodies with jabs for jobs. We have a duty to our ancestors, to the people that lay in the state in Arlington, and to RXU RZQ FKLOGUHQ WR QHYHU OHW WKH ÀDJ GLS DQG never let our Constitution be destroyed, and that’s why I have come down this path of being a candidate for governor. The B&W: What do you hope to accomplish as governor? Tom Perez: 2QH RI WKH ¿UVW WKLQJV ZH¶OO do is bring in a world-class team of senior leaders to carry out our vision. On day one, we
will appoint a climate and resiliency director — a person who is going to coordinate across the agencies — because addressing climate change is a whole-government enterprise. One thing I’ve learned from working in local, federal and state government is that the most vexing problems require unprecedented levels of collaboration between agencies for their sustainable resolution and solutions. We have fallen behind a number of East Coast states on offshore wind because Larry Hogan dropped the ball, but we can catch up. We also have to address the immediate challenges in education — we are in crisis right now. So many schools need more mental health counselors, and we have so many educators who are contemplating quitting or who have already quit because teaching has been so hard during the pandemic. We have to do all of these things, because we don’t have time to do them one at a time. The way to do that is by building a solid team around you, and I’ve done this in the past. Peter Franchot: I make fourteen pledges, DQG WKH ¿UVW RQH LV WR UHVWRUH WKH SHRSOH¶V WUXVW DQG FRQ¿GHQFH 0RVW \RXQJ SHRSOH DQG PRVW HYHU\ERG\ LQ 0DU\ODQG KDYH ORVW FRQ¿GHQFH and trust in government. I hope that from day RQH , FDQ UHVWRUH VRPH WUXVW DQG FRQ¿GHQFH that the government is competent. I’m going to GR WKDW LQ WKUHH PRQWKV E\ ¿[LQJ HYHU\ SRWhole on state roads, by picking up all the trash, scooping up all the dead deer off of the state highways, and I’m going to get state agencies to answer the telephone within 60 seconds with someone that can help navigate whatever question any caller might have. After that, we’re going to start doing a transformative change with jobs that are family-paying, and getting young adults to stay in Maryland — and move to Maryland from other states — because we’re going to forgive their student loans if they live, ZRUN DQG SD\ WD[HV KHUH IRU ¿YH \HDUV We’re also going to build enough solar and wind infrastructure in Maryland so that we’re no longer importing out-of-state fossil fuel electricity. We will export renewable electricity generated by Maryland into the grid, and are going to be 100% carbon free and 100% renewable by 2030. John King Jr.: I always talk about the campaign in terms of three core pillars. The ¿UVW LV HGXFDWLRQ RI FRXUVH EHFDXVH WKDW¶V DW
the foundation of the health of our economy and our democracy. We’ve got to make sure that the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future — which will raise teacher pay, expand college and career readiness opportunities in high school, expand Pre-K and more — is implemented well. Building on the Blueprint, we should get to universal, affordable childcare from birth through age ¿YH DQG ZH KDYH WR GR PRUH WR NHHS SXEOLF higher education affordable by investing in our community colleges and our HBCUs. The second pillar is economic dignity — issues like paid family leave, investing in the supply of housing that folks can afford, and investing in public transportation. The third pillar is the environment and climate action. It’s urgent that we take action on climate, and Maryland can be a national leader; we could achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. But it would require a really ambitious policy change, and that’s what I’ve proposed. And as we take on all three of those pillars, I think we have to do it with a racial justice lens, because we have deep racial inequity in the state, and we’ve got to tackle that. Dan Cox: , KDYH D ¿YH SRLQW FRQWUDFW for Maryland freedom. My intent is to restore freedom by restoring the Constitution, to make sure we end indoctrination with political ideology and anti-Americanism and Marxism and instead restore pride in our country’s education. I also want to make sure that we restore our protection for our safe neighborhoods, VR ,¶P JRLQJ WR HQG WKH ÀLJKWV KHUH RI LOOHJDO aliens on day one. We’re bringing in the people with fentanyl who are lacing our marijuana and killing our youth. I also want to expand our tax breaks because we’ve got to keep our citizens here. Lastly, we need to have audited and secure elections, and I have bipartisan support for that. The B&W: What sets you apart from other gubernatorial candidates? Tom Perez: It’s important that we have a person who can articulate a bold, inclusive vision of opportunity for everyone, and has a proven track record across the multitude of challenges that we have of getting stuff done. I’ve worked in the healthcare space, and I used to serve on the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Addressing these health
challenges, job creation, and running complex organizations are not new things for me. :KHQ , ¿UVW JRW WR WKH 86 /DERU 'HSDUWment, the department was second from the bottom in worker satisfaction, and when I left, we were in the top third or top quarter. A worker feels like they’re part of something bigger than themselves when their supervisors ask them the most important question that you should ask in a workplace — which is: ‘what do you think?’ That’s what we were able to do, and that’s what we have to do in the Maryland government. The next governor is going to inherit a lot of agencies in disarray, and what are they going to do about it? That’s something I think I can jump into in a really meaningful way. Peter Franchot: Everybody who’s running deserves a big pat on the back — Democrat or Republican — but none of them have even a scintilla of the kind of experience I’ve had in dealing with Maryland’s budget. It’s not like other private sector or public sector budgets. Maryland’s budget is enormously complex, and I think it requires leadership from me. What also distinguishes me is that I’ve always been an outsider in politics, even though I have an insider position and insider skills. I’m fundamentally an outsider. John King Jr.: The mix of very clear progressive policy priorities and experience in government getting big things done, and a deep personal appreciation of the difference that public institutions can make in people’s lives. It’s not just a matter of luck that the government can help ensure there’s opportunity for all, and I think a really important distinction is that I’ve been willing in this campaign to talk VSHFL¿FDOO\ DERXW ZKDW LW ZLOO WDNH WR DFFRPplish our goals. Dan Cox: Freedom. I’m the only candidate that has pledged to defend the liberties of HYHU\ 'HPRFUDW LQGHSHQGHQW XQDI¿OLDWHG DQG every Republican — every person of Maryland will have full protection of the State House. Every other candidate pledges that they will continue a policy of lockdowns, and that they will continue a policy of forced masking and forced jabs for jobs, taking away your medical choice. I don’t care what side of the aisle you might be on or what position you might have about vaccination — I actually support vaccination.
The B&W: How would you ensure Maryland’s schools are safe if elected governor? Tom Perez: I want to dramatically increase our investment in building out the mental health infrastructure within schools. This pandemic has been such a challenge, it has torn people down and there are a lot of empty seats at kitchen tables. As a result of that, the incidence of physical altercations in schools and teen suicide attempts are both up. We also have to be able to measure our progress, and ask ourselves: “How are we doing in reducing incidents of physical altercation?” In schools, we’ve got to be honest about it, because what you measure, you value, and what you value, you measure. We also need more of what are called “Community Schools,” which are schools that address in a more holistic fashion, the needs of the community. I think that the community school element of the Blueprint is going to really help moving forward. Peter Franchot: I will ensure that all of Maryland’s school facilities are safe environments by addressing the dramatically variable physical infrastructure, including undrinkable water, classrooms without climate control and mold. I also believe that it is imperative that all 6FKRRO 5HVRXUFH 2I¿FHUV DUH SURSHUO\ WUDLQHG to engage in a variety of circumstances such as mental health intervention. John King Jr.: We should do everything we can on common sense gun policy and reforms — things like banning ghost guns, and ensuring there are clear, strong penalties when children get access to guns at home. We also need to address mental health needs by making sure that we have enough school counselors, that mental health services are available to students and families, and that we’re making these available in the community — including addiction treatment and violence prevention programs. Third, we’ve got to make sure that school districts have the resources they need to have adequate campus security in place. Too often, people pit those three things against each other, and we really have to be thoughtful about each of them. Dan Cox: I have voted to expand the SRO program, and am cosponsoring a bill to double state SRO funding to $20 million a year. I intend to require bulletproof glass in every
classroom so that in a lockdown situation with an active shooter, every single classroom is immediately protected. School choice will also empower the parents and the children to have safety because they can choose a school that they trust in, and that will create competition in the public schools to have a better school system. The B&W: Why should students care about this gubernatorial race? Tom Perez: The next governor is going to implement the Blueprint for educational reform, and I’m hard-pressed to think of an area that’s more important for a governor than education. One of the things that I love about the blueprint — and what the next governor has to understand — is that education is from cradle through career. So if I’m a student at Whitman, whether I can vote or not, I got skin in this game. If you care about climate change, look at what Larry Hogan hasn’t done. He hasn’t invested in offshore wind, and he’s not investLQJ VXI¿FLHQWO\ LQ VRODU VR LI \RX FDUH DERXW our planet, you should care about this election. Your generation, Gen Z, has elevated the issue of climate change in importance — and appropriately so. The Supreme Court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade, and after that, states become more important. In light of the assault on voting rights across the nation, states also need to step up. Maryland does okay on access to voting, but I’ve never aspired to do “okay” — I’ve aspired to be excellent. If you have a classmate whose family is experiencing the opioid crisis, the next governor is going to matter because that governor is going to be neck deep in implementing mental and behavioral health infrastructure across this state so that we can avoid those deaths. The opioid crisis has touched me in a very personal way, so this isn’t an issue that I think about from any sort of academic perspective; it’s about what it has done to people I know and love. I hope young people get out there and vote. There are a lot of people that hope you don’t vote, because then they can get their way. As we say in Spanish: “su voto es su voz” — your vote is your voice. Peter Franchot: Students should care
about this gubernatorial race because the policies implemented at the state and local levels will have the most direct impact on their lives. Students should pay attention to candidates like myself that have the experience and the most comprehensive policies to address the challenges that will impact the future of young people, from solving environmental injustices to the student debt crisis. If I am elected governor, students from any college who decide to live, work and pay taxes in Maryland for DW OHDVW ¿YH \HDUV ZLOO KDYH WKHLU VWXGHQW GHEW forgiven. John King Jr.: Students are going to eiWKHU VHH WKH EHQH¿WV RU WKH FRQVHTXHQFHV RI the choices we make as a state. Young people are going to live with the consequences of climate change if we don’t elect a governor who is really ambitious about our approach to climate, and if we don’t have a governor who’s committed to keeping college affordable, students and families will bear the burden of the continued shifts in costs of college. Young people who want to stay in Maryland need to have a good supply of affordable housing and good public transportation, and we need to address quality-of-life issues like paid family leave so that when folks have kids, they can take time off to be with their new babies. Those are all things that will shape young adulthood for students today. Dan Cox: They need to care because their very lives, and their very liberties, could depend on it. For instance, if you vote for the candidate who believes in jabs for jobs, you don’t have that choice anymore. Everybody else says the government should be telling you what to do, and I think that’s not American. I’m going to make sure it ends on my watch if I’m elected. The B&W: What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Tom Perez: I had granola with yogurt and blueberries. Peter Franchot: Instant oatmeal, frozen berries, and no fat yogurt with sliced banana. John King Jr.: Oatmeal. Dan Cox: I had some eggs.
By LAUREN HEBERLEE
A JOURNEY ACROSS THE BORDER An El Salvadoran immigrant faces unimaginable adversity
Graphic by GABY HODOR
could tell her journey was on its last leg. She’d already traveled 1500 treacherous miles from her home in El Salvador to the muddy banks of the Rio Grande River — but across the river, Sofia could see a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter patrolling the sky and canine units moving across the ground. Sofia abandoned what belongings she carried on the river’s edge in order to travel as lightly as possible. With a group of 10 other Central American migrants, she followed a coyote — a person who smuggles immigrants across the Mexico-United States border — over the water in a boat. But once they reached the U.S. side, the group sensed border patrol on their heels and had to turn back. Days later, Sofia’s group made another attempt. This time, the migrants were able to successfully cross the Rio Grande in a small inflatable boat — though the raft was overcrowded and covered in holes from overuse, causing it to deflate as they crossed. According to Sofia, some migrants used tires as floating devices across the water, or some even resorted to walking across the river naked, holding their clothes over their heads to keep them dry. Once Sofia set foot on American soil, the coyote frantically urged her and the others in her boat to move faster. The group sprinted in a single-file line through mud and brush to reach a pickup truck that was waiting for them. As they neared the pickup, they could see the moving figures and hear the scrape of border patrol tires in the distance. Ten of the migrants quickly crammed inside the cab of the truck, which drove them through an opening in the border wall into MacAllen, Texas. “This was the best way to cross the wall,” said Sofia, who now lives in the DC metro area. “The people who paid for less expensive coyotes had to climb the wall and jump or find stairs which took longer and was more dangerous.” In Fiscal Year 2021, the Migration Policy Institute estimated there were nearly 540,000 “got-aways” — their term for undoumented immigrants traveling through the southern border who avoided apprehension. Following the end of the Trump administration’s “Zero Tol-
erance” immigration policies, which included family separations at the border, there has been a recent uptick in migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Biden administration. Sofia is one of these migrants. A college student from San Miguel, El Salvador, Sofia spent 34 days traveling to Maryland in order to reunite with her mother, Elena, who had made a similar journey to the U.S. 17 years earlier. Elena fled after her husband was murdered. Gang violence had spilled into her neighborhood, and she started worrying for her own life, as the perpetrator faced no legal consequences. Both gang violence and the widespread transmission of COVID-19, forced Sofia to give up her education in El Salvador. It became increasingly unsafe for her to commute from San Miguel to the university; gang members would often cloud the entrance to the school, preying on young women. Sofia’s anxiety escalated when these men took a classmate of hers. She disappeared without a trace. Sofia’s life in San Miguel grew increasingly dangerous and limited in opportunity. Both her brother, Gabriel, and her grandmother, with whom she lived, nearly died from COVID-19 due to the lack of consistent, high-quality healthcare at their local hospital. And when her father’s murderer reappeared, Sofia spent almost all of her time at home — her aunt and uncle believed he was following Sofia whenever she left her house. Sofia visited the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador on two occasions in hopes of obtaining a visa to join her mother in the United States, but each time the embassy workers instructed her to try again in six months. When Sofia’s cousin recommended an experienced coyote, her family created a plan to bring Sofia to the U.S. Elena sold her previous home in El Salvador for $14,000 and used all of the money to hire the coyote for her daughter. Sofia first met with the coyote at an uncle’s house, where the man explained the route she would take. He gave her specific directions and provided information about the people to look for in order to make the necessary connections leading her to her destination. Sofia would travel with a young man named Ivan, the coyote explained, who was making the same jour-
ney to the U.S. to live with his uncle — who also happened to reside in Maryland. For about five weeks in November and December of 2021, Sofia traveled from El Salvador to Houston, passing through other Central American countries and Mexico along the way. She spent two days in Cancun before finally reaching Reynosa, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border directly across from MacAllen, Texas. The journey to the border was physically and mentally challenging and dangerous, she said, but Sofia was willing to take the risk. Central American migrants are often the targets of organized crime groups in Mexico — robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, death threats and even murder are not uncommon. Migrants also face the possibility of deportation by the Mexican government. At each leg of her journey, a network of people who worked with her coyote in an elaborate system of carefully planned routes and rendezvous points aided Sofia and the other migrants she traveled with. Sofia often slept on boats and buses, in safe houses, empty buildings, river banks and the dirt ground. When Sofia arrived in Mexico with Ivan, they met up with a man who gave them bicycles and directions to their next destination. Sofia and Ivan quickly changed into sneakers and then rode the bikes for an hour and a half, with the goal of disguising themselves as exercising tourists. They used the bikes to reach a bus station, where they boarded a bus and traveled to Cancun. “In Cancun, I had to take photos of myself on the beach,” Sofia explained. “If the police stopped me, I could show them pictures on my phone and say I was on a vacation.” During her final two weeks in Mexico, Sofia slept on the floor of an empty building in Reynosa, waiting for a safe opportunity to cross the river. While in Reynosa, a Mexican gang captured Sofia and four other migrants and forced them into another building. Sofia’s coyote had paid off the gangs in Reynosa and given Sofia a password to use for escape in this situation; for the four of the five migrants who knew the password, the gang released them. The fifth person, a young woman from Honduras, wasn’t as lucky. This woman didn’t have the same coyote as Sofia and, therefore, didn’t know the password. The kidnappers held her
hostage and extorted her; when her family in Honduras paid the ransom, she was freed. “I had seen other gangs along the way and heard of things like this happening,” Sofia said. “All coyotes have a code associated with them. It could be anything like ‘apple’ or ‘chicken soup.’ I was anxious while waiting to be released, but I knew my coyote had prepared for something like this.” The most difficult stretch of Sofia’s journey, however, began once she made it past the border wall, she said. After twelve days in a safe house in MacAllen, she embarked on a three-day trek across the rugged Texas terrain, walking through both desert and forests. With only a small backpack in hand, Sofia carefully rationed her small supply of water and food to ensure she had enough to last 72 hours. “They take your phone at the safe houses so your location is untrackable,” Sofia said. “I kept asking if I could use it for a couple minutes so I could text my mom telling her I was alive. They never let me.” Sofia walked for three nights straight and rested during the day. In the hours of daylight, she hid under trees or bushes where she couldn’t be spotted by helicopters or drones. At night, Sofia kept her head down hour after hour, stayed close to her group, followed her
“EACH PERSON UNDERSTOOD THE POSSIBILITY THAT NOT ALL OF THEM WOULD MAKE IT.”
coyote and — most importantly — did not stop walking. “This was the most challenging part both physically and mentally,” Sophia said. “I was freezing cold every night and terrified that something would go wrong. So many people get lost in this part of the journey. I could barely see two feet ahead of myself; it was so dark.” One of only three women on the trek, Sofia knew none of the other members on the journey to the United States. As they traveled, they became friendly — but never friends. According to Sofia, each person understood the possibility that not all of them would make it. And for some other migrants, it wasn’t their first attempt. There was little to no verbal communication with the coyote — no one in the group even knew his name. Detached and distant, he moved quickly and the group followed tightly behind his steps. “When someone fell, the coyote didn’t stop,” Sofia said. “If you offered to help, you risked becoming separated from the group and potentially lost.” In Fiscal Year 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted close to 1.7 million apprehensions and expulsions at the U.S.-Mexico border, setting the record for the most border enforcement actions in a single year. Some of these arrests included migrants who attempted numerous crossings. “The border patrol officers are quiet. They don’t make any noise and just sneak up on you,” Sofia said. “I met a Guatemalan girl on the walk who’d been arrested by border patrol and sent back to Guatemala three times but was trying again.” After three nights of walking, Sofia was instructed to run to a car that had pulled over on the nearest highway. When she jumped into the vehicle, the driver sped away, only stopping six hours later, after they reached Houston. Sofia’s Guatemalan companion was not so lucky. She was a passenger in a different car, but when her driver failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign and police pulled them over, she had to return home for a fourth time. Sofia spent the final night of her journey in another safe house before flying to Maryland the next day with Ivan, the 18-year-old with whom she had originally left El Salvador. In
an unexpected twist, Ivan’s uncle lives around the corner from Sofia’s mother. Sofia and Elena also discovered that Ivan’s father is a man they both knew. “The mango-truck driver,” they called him, who has been winding through the streets of San Miguel for years selling mangoes to families including Elena’s. When Sofia landed safely at BWI Airport on January 9, her stepfather and stepbrother greeted her, but Elena was waiting for her at home. After she walked through the door, Sofia and her mother hugged each other for the first time in 17 years. “I didn’t know if that moment would ever happen,” Elena said. “I have been separated from my children for so long, and now Sofia will join the life I have built here. It is truly surreal.” Since fleeing El Salvador, Elena supported Sofia and her older brother financially and worked to keep them safe from afar. Before the pandemic, Elena hired a driver for Sofia, so she would be protected going back and forth from school. When her son was hospitalized with COVID-19, she was able to purchase a prescription and deliver it to the hospital. “When I first arrived in the U.S., I slept on a friend’s sofa for six months before I was able to pay rent,” Elena said. “It is not easy to start a new life in a new country, but I worked hard and I worked many jobs to provide for my family.” Although it was difficult to keep in touch during the beginning of their separation, in recent years, daily FaceTimes and texts enabled Elena to build a connection with her children and watch them grow. Sofia is now working for a business owned by a friend. Sofia plans to save $7,000, half of the money her mother spent on her coyote, to help her brother safely emigrate to the U.S. “I’m very proud of myself,” Sofia said. “My journey was not easy, but I made it and got to hug my mother for the first time I can remember. It’s very different here compared to El Salvador — especially the food — but I am happy to call the U.S. my home now.” ■
Graphic by GABY HODOR
When youth aren’t really Youth Maryland juveniles encounter an unforgiving adult justice system gr ap hic
by EL IZA BET H
n March 8, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a national “War on Crime.” On the heels of a decade that witnessed a 126% spike in violent crime across the nation, Johnson’s symbolic proclamation would lay the groundwork for
DO ROK HINA
by Ethan Schenker a justice system centered around the threat of punishment as a deterrent to crime. In the following years, state legislatures swiftly mobilized to craft legislation that reflected this new approach to justice, embarking on a crusade to strengthen state criminal laws, lengthen crimi-
nal sentences and crack down on juvenile crime. As the national rate of violent crime continues to subside from its peak in 1991, states have begun to revisit the thousands of acts, amendments and provisions that local lawmakers passed as a part of those War on Crime-era
crackdowns with the ultimate goal of reform. However, for Maryland’s youth, the War on Crime rages on — 57 years after it began. In 2020, the watchdog group Human Rights for Kids ranked Maryland’s juvenile justice system among the six worst human rights offenders in the nation. The group’s report indicated that the state makes “little to no effort to protect the human rights of children in the justice system and is likely in violation of international human rights standards.” According to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice Services, however, Maryland’s juvenile justice system aims to address the underlying causes of misconduct while keeping communities safe by providing rehabilitation and other services to youth. The department operates a network of centers for treatment and secure juvenile detention. It also implements court-ordered treatment programs by coordinating case management, behavioral health treatment, educational services and diversionary programs for youth involved in the state’s justice system. However, not all of the state’s justice-involved juveniles remain in the more forgiving juvenile justice system. Maryland charges more youth in adult court per capita than any other state with the exception of Alabama, and in 2019 sent nearly as many children to adult court as California, Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania combined, contributing to the state’s notorious reputation among reform groups like Human Rights for Kids. The state’s laws outline two ways that youth can be charged and prosecuted in the adult justice system. The first — and most common — approach is the “direct file” provision, which requires youth 14 and older to be automatically charged as adults if the crime, when committed by an adult, carries a life sentence. Through this provision, minors ages 16 and up also must be charged as adults if they are accused of committing one of 33 specific crimes excluded from the jurisdiction of the state’s juvenile courts — for instance, second degree murder, or attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. Maryland’s automatic charging laws date back to the 1960s, when it was one of only three states to require that minors 14 and up be charged in adult criminal court on murder charges. Until recently, these laws have continued to expand the number of offenses excluded from juvenile court. Maryland youth can also be charged in adult court if a juvenile court judge — at the request of a prosecutor, or by their own initiative — waives the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over a particular case. A prosecutor, for example, could ask a juvenile court judge to transfer a case of a 15-year-old charged with second-degree assault to adult court. A judge must hold a hearing to determine whether a minor is amenable to rehabilitation through the juvenile justice system before waiving its jurisdiction and moving the case to the adult system. However, state law does not place qualifications on the types of offenses that can be waived, allowing youth as young as
14 to be charged as adults for any offense. Still, local prosecutors maintain that their judgment plays a small role in determining whether the state’s juvenile cases are transferred to adult court. “Maryland state law lays out how the vast majority of these cases need to be charged,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office public affairs director Lauren DeMarco wrote in an email to The Black & White. Of the 7,800 Maryland juveniles charged as adults between 2013 and 2020, nearly 75% were automatically charged with one of the state’s 33 exclusionary offenses, according to a report from the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services. While the state doesn’t grant prosecutors executive authority to charge youth as adults, proponents of state juvenile justice reform argue that Maryland’s automatic charging laws increase the influence of prosecutor’s decisions at other stages of the legal process. “Prosecutors and police have tremendous discretion both over what the charges are, but also how the cases are handled,” said Stephanie Joseph, a Montgomery County assistant public defender. “The same incident could be charged as very different charges, and they can manipulate it so that it becomes an automatic charging case.” Activists argue that prosecutors often use this discretion — and the prospect of automatic charging — to exert leverage over juvenile offenders in plea bargaining and interrogations. While 85% of juvenile cases in adult court do not result in a criminal conviction, this leverage can ultimately lead to harsher judgements in juvenile court. “They can call anything an ‘assault one,’ an ‘assault two’ or attempted murder,” said Marcy Mistrett, the director of youth justice at the Sentencing Project. “Prosecutors will charge to the highest possible offense at the beginning, and then that gives them negotiating power later down the line. That drives a lot of kids into the adult court.” Joseph and Mistrett are among the growing number of lawmakers, lawyers and activists behind a push to eliminate Maryland’s automatic charging provisions. Juveniles, they argue, shouldn’t face charges in a system that is designed for punishment rather than rehabilitation. “A kid deserves a review — something more than a preliminary police report — to make that determination, because that determination has such huge ramifications in the life of a young person,” Mistrett said. In 2019, the Maryland General Assembly established the Juvenile Justice Reform Council, a workgroup composed of lawmakers, experts and state government officials who convened to develop proposals for reforming the state’s juvenile justice system. Chaired by the Director of the Governor’s Office on Crime Prevention, Youth, and Juvenile Services, the council initially gathered data from expert testimonies and advised that state agencies improve data-sharing on youth tried as adults across Maryland’s local jurisdictions.
After nearly two years of deliberation, the council voted in September 2021 to recommend that Maryland end the automatic charging of juveniles as adults and instead require that all charges against juveniles be filed in the juvenile court system. For advocates, the recommendation represents an important first step. “When kids go to the adult system, they really do worse in life,” said Mistrett, who presented to the council in July 2021. “They recidivate quicker than kids with the same charges that were kept in juvenile court, they’re more likely to have mental health problems and trauma and they’re more likely to have drug abuse, so it really sets you on a course of struggle.” In Maryland, black youth comprise 80% of juveniles charged as adults. While 94% of white juveniles’ cases are waived back down to juvenile court, only 22% of black juveniles’ cases result in the same outcome. These inequities typically manifest themselves during plea bargaining, said Joseph, who has defended minors tried as adults for nearly 20 years. As a result, juveniles of color usually don’t receive the same favorable plea offers as their white counterparts, she said. Activists now see an opportunity for change as Maryland legislators consider Senate Bill 165, which would implement the council’s recommendation by removing the direct file provision from state law. Lawmakers held a hearing on the bill in early January, but have not scheduled a vote. The measure was later introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates as HB0294, and has drawn widespread support from criminal justice activists and many Democratic lawmakers. However, local prosecutors like Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy aren’t ready to put their full support behind the bill. “The State’s Attorney does support efforts to look into the automatic charging of juveniles as adults in certain cases including studying the effects of the automatic charging for 14-and 15-year-old defendants,” DeMarco wrote in an email. “The goal is rehabilitation, however our obligation to the safety of the community remains paramount.” For Mistrett, the measure isn’t only an opportunity to give thousands of children a second chance and fair treatment — it’s an opportunity to redefine the way Maryland approaches justice. “I think the question is: ‘What is the purpose of our legal system?’” Mistrett said. “I work with a lot of these young people who went away for a long time, and very early on in their incarceration, they struggled to deal with what they took from the person they harmed. I feel like we don’t do enough in our justice system to heal. We do the vengeance piece really well — an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But if you talk to most victims, that only carries you so far.”
Trash or treasure? Estate sale customers hunt for hidden gems by LAUREN HEBERLEE
A Traditional settee and set of three nesting side tables at the Kenwood estate sale are displayed with vintage lamps, a decorative pillow, porcelain vases, and an oil painting. Photo by ROHIN DAHIYA.
t a colonial style house in the upscale Kenwood neighborhood, priceless antiques, vintage furniture, retro accessories and eclectic junk fill the decades-old rooms. Eager customers navigate their way through the crowded house, searching for their next prized possession. All coveted items are up for grabs. The rules are simple: first come first served, prices are non-negotiable, no returns allowed and if you break it, you buy it. For some, it’s the ultimate treasure hunt. The marvelous world of estate sales has existed for generations — and today, that world is still thriving. An estate sale is a public sale or auction of a recently deceased homeowners’ belongings, held in their former household. Usually lasting two to four days, depending on the size of the home, sale-goers will sift through and purchase nearly every belonging by the final day. These sales differ from the less formal garage sale, where a home owner selects specific unwanted or unused items to sell: Estate sales offer an entire house full of priceless items. Estate sale shopping, for some, is more than a light-hearted weekend activity — it’s a passion. Shoppers arrive hours before the sale begins to stake out their place in line, rain or shine. As opening hour nears, the company running the sale hands out numbered tickets that determine the order of entrance into the home. When the doors finally swing open and the company calls out the first group of numbers, the competition begins. Estate sale shopping strategies vary — some shoppers head in with a carefully outlined plan while others aimlessly peruse the rooms — but each hopes for an exceptional find. “It’s a hobby to a lot of people and it’s also a game to a lot of people,” said Michel Huebner, owner of Sage Consignment and Whitman alum (‘85). “It’s a game for them to find unusual or unique things, so there’s always a hope that when you get there you’re going to find a real treasure.” Estate sale junkies aren’t only looking for the discounted second-hand furniture — they’re also interested in the unique thrill that comes with attending an estate sale. Estate sales serve as a window into a person’s entire life: From the objects and furniture inhabiting the house, shoppers can learn about the homeowner’s familial history, marital status, political affiliations, former profession and even outlandish hobbies. Before stepping into a stranger’s home, it’s impossible for buyers to know what to expect; and that’s exactly what makes the experience so intriguing. “Most times the sale environment can give you a lot of adrenaline,” said Claire, an avid estate sale shopper who attended the Kenwood home’s sale. “There are a lot of hyper people running around, but I enjoy really taking my time to find the most meaningful and beautiful items.” Shoppers discover new sales through various avenues. Some hear through word of mouth, others through online advertisements. The oldest, and most classic method is to spot handmade signs with directions to the featured house planted on the side of the road. That approach is how many dedicated customers found out about the Kenwood sale, held in early February. The house, with its “Grandmillennial” style decor — a blend of grandma and millennial — was open to the public for four days, but the majority of the items were snatched by the end of the first. Experienced collectors are familiar with the cardinal rule of estate sale shopping: if you want the more popular or niche items, arrive early. By 11:00a.m., 80 people had already cycled through the home while around 20 people eagerly waited outside in the rain to enter. One of the shoppers lined up on the driveway, Everett, has been to nearly 50 estate sales in his life and is proud to say his home is furnished floor to ceiling with estate sale finds. A few years ago, Everett’s aunt encouraged him to attend his first estate sale — and he’s been hooked ever since. “I’ve driven to different states for estate sales,” Everett said. “I normally come to look around for something cool, not anything specific. The coolest thing I’ve purchased is a vending machine that was turned into a safe.” Everett drove 30 minutes to the Kenwood house, attracted to the sale by the large number of knick-knacks advertised. The three-story house, built in 1939, boasted traditional wood furniture, old books, small oil paintings in chunky bronze frames and floral patterned china. The home
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also featured intricately carved mantels topped with porcelain vases, vintage clocks, candlesticks and miscellaneous colorful figurines — the volume and myriad of items presented an estate sale paradise for a wide variety of the customers. “A lot of estate sale companies have a list of certain people,” Huebner said. “There are book people, train people, vintage toy people, linens and sterling silver people and people who generally hunt and look for very specific things.” Another estate sale devotee, Anthony, has shopped at hundreds of sales throughout his life. He prefers the smaller, unique accessories over the larger pieces of furniture, he said, and has built a collection of hookah stands from 18th century India. Inside the Kenwood home, Anthony closely studied a table of accessories, spotting a small wooden ship in a glass bottle. Anthony knew he would have to act fast if he wanted the ship; once a shopper has crossed the door’s threshold, they must get down to business, he said. Shoppers hurry through the halls and race up and down the stairs — it’s an antique fanatic’s Black Friday. “People aren’t only throwing arms, but grabbing things they’re not even sure they want,” Huebner said. “They steal from the hold tables or other peoples boxes. It’s hard not to laugh because you are adults, you’re not in kindergarten where you don’t know how to share or follow the rules.” Another February estate sale, this one in Potomac, had an entirely different aesthetic — but nonetheless attracted an equally ambitious crowd. The late owner of the house was a retired CIA agent who had spent a large portion of his life stationed in several Asian countries. Hung on the walls were tapestries covered in Chinese writing, and scattered throughout the house was a wide range of bird paraphernalia — books,
paintings, adorned lamps and embroidered curtains. Towards the end of the sale, a coworker of the deceased owner arrived and began chatting with customers. He explained that he and his friend had started bird clubs in every country they were stationed in, and their field notes were then used to create ornithology guides in Nepal, Taiwan and Thailand. Junior Annie Antoinetti, an avid reader, visited this estate sale in search of inexpensive versions of her favorite books. When Antoinetti successfully finds a second copy at an estate sale, she cuts out her favorite pages, covering one of her bedroom walls in the collaged quotes. “I love being surrounded by the words of different unique authors,” Antoinetti said. “I think it also serves as a really cool accent wall.” Although Antoinetti failed to find the books she had set out to buy, she still decided to purchase two others: “Gods and Goddesses in Art and Legend” by Herman Wechsler and “The Pocket Book of Greek Art” by Thomas Craven. “These books were both published in 1950, so they had a cool vintage look to them,” Antoinetti said. “You can learn a lot about people based on their book collection.” The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more estate sales to morph into online auction formats, according to Huebner. However, major shipping delays in the furniture industry have exponentially increased sales of second-hand pieces, especially wood products. And, with increased time spent indoors, more people have sought out pieces to perfect the ambiance of their homes. Estate sales offer shoppers an environment with products that a department store or furniture chain can’t — at estate sales, after all, customers are able to scavenge for distinctive and sometimes one-of-a-kind items. “From my standpoint, the old school type of estate sale is going to be booming from now until next year,” Huebner said. “When you shop at estate sales, pieces have more meaning and a story behind them. I just adore that.”
Right top: A set of old medical textbooks sits on a wooden bookcase with worn stude nt encyclopedias strewn atop. Right middle: Ne atly ironed curtain panels and tablec loths hang in a hallway closet on the third floor.
graphics c/o Vecteezy.com
Bottom left: A lamp illumin ates the wood paneled library at the Ken wood home. Antique books are strewn on a bookcase and stacks of books are pile d on the floor. Bottom right: Vintage tru nks and old fashioned leather luggage sta cked in the corner of a guest bedroom at the Kenwood home.
worse than ever by SIMONE MEYER
As therapist Marirose Ungerman walks into her office, which is decorated in unthreatening tones of white, beige and teal blue, she grounds herself, praying for strength to help ease her patients’ suffering. As she reads over her notes from previous sessions, Marirose notices a significant decrease in motivation and energy levels in her patients as a result of chronic stress levels. This fatigue, or “burnout,” often stems from the overwhelming loneliness and isolation induced by the pandemic, causing people to feel as if they’re in constant crisis, Ungerman said. “No one has a blueprint on how to live and thrive in the midst of a global pandemic that shut the world down,” she said. An anonymous survey conducted by The Black & White revealed that the majority of Whitman students feel more burned out this year — following the return to in-person schooling — than they did during the year preceding the onset of virtual learning. While symptoms of burnout vary, the majority of students report feeling unmotivated and overly tired as a result of their daily schedules. “I feel like I get burnt out more easily and [as a result of the pandemic] I lost a lot of interest in learning for a lot of my classes,” one anonymous student said in the same survey. “Instead of doing the work to learn and get something valuable out of it, I feel as if I’m just doing it for the grade.” Burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion that commonly results from prolonged stress or frustration, Ungerman said. “The common thread that runs through my patients in regard to stress is that they feel that they are always behind, and they feel they lack the ability to focus on what’s in front of them,” Ungerman said. “A patient who is experiencing burnout feels weighed down, and a feeling of being lost with no motivation to find a way out.” Sophomore Oishee Ghosh experiences a similar lack of motivation. In virtual learning, her less rigorous schedule along with a later, 9 a.m. class start time eased the burden of school and extracurricular activities. This year, Ghosh has to deal with a combination of physical and mental fatigue every day, she said. She finds it nearly impossible to juggle her homework with her many non-academic commitments: dance, piano and voice lessons. Ghosh compensates for her resulting sleep loss with an exhaustion-induced nap at the end of every school day. Then, at around 9 p.m., Ghosh wakes up to begin her homework, study for tests and complete assignments for her social media internship at Mayur, the dance company she also attends as a student. She sets an alarm for 5 a.m. to finish the tasks she couldn’t reach the night before. Johns Hopkins Medicine says that the recommended amount of sleep for teenagers is nine hours. Ghosh is part of the 73% of high school students in the U.S. who, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics study, don’t meet this standard.
“I think a lot of my time is wasted after school just being so tired, which shouldn’t be the case,” Ghosh said. “I think the teachers expect us to automatically adjust to the new school year, but I think we could have used a month to just adjust to it.” 68% of surveyed Whitman students reported feeling as if the virtual experience impacted their learning capability. A reduction of standards during the 2020-2021 school year made the transition to in-person learning even more difficult for students, Ghosh said. “I used to never burn out,” another anonymous student said in the survey. “But now keeping up with all my classes is hard. I feel like it’s impossible to get good grades.”
“Some days, my alarm would go off at 4:15 in the morning and I’d just turn it off and lay there. No part of me wanted to go to practice. I just wanted to go back to sleep.”
While students reported experiencing higher levels of burnout across the board, senior Jordan Arlen believes that her burnout peaked in junior year. During virtual learning, attending her junior-year classes through a screen made it especially difficult for her to find motivation during the demanding, isolating time, she said. “I realized I really had to step up and persevere,” she said. “Even though I felt unmotivated, it was going to get worse if I didn’t keep up my grades.” Arlen’s primary struggle is balancing her academic load with her job as an aide at Bradley Hills Elementary School, where she works from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday. Arlen began working at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, helping elementary school children with their homework, playing games with them and ensuring their safety before their parents picked them up in the evening. There are many times when Arlen, after a draining school day, as both a student and an aide, has experienced the mental difficulty of fighting burnout. “Getting home late and knowing I have to study for a test or complete my homework
is pretty stressful,” Arlen said. “I know that I can’t waste time if I want to go to sleep at a decent time.” Burnout doesn’t only impact academics, but athletics, too. Senior Zak Owen has swum competitively on a club team since he was in second grade. Owen always had an unfaltering commitment to the sport, regularly swimming for three hours a day, seven days a week — until the pandemic hit. His team was forced to practice in an outdoor pool from September 2020 to August 2021, where freezing temperatures and a lack of spectators at swim meets made the grind of competitive swimming less rewarding. During this period, it became harder and harder for Owen to get out of bed for his 4:30 a.m. practices, he said. “Some days, my alarm would go off at 4:15 in the morning and I’d just turn it off and lay there,” Owen said. “No part of me wanted to go to practice. I just wanted to go back to sleep.” Even when his team began practicing inside again, and the effects of the pandemic lessened, Owen still suffered from a lack of interest and motivation towards swimming. When Owen became captain of the Whitman swim team in September of his senior year, his burnout was at its peak. It wasn’t until he made the switch to a more relaxed club team — where practices were shorter, at one and a half hours instead of three — that he was able to regain his love for swimming, Owen said. However, for some, extracurriculars can be an escape from stress and burnout. In the fall of last year, Ghosh worked as a member of the multimedia team for the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Musical, where she helped perfect the production details of the show. Although the show required substantial commitment, the experience was rewarding — it often helped her forget about the pressures and stresses of school, she said. However, after the show ended, Ghosh fell back into her regular state of fatigue. As a trained therapist who regularly works with adolescents, Ungerman has seen how burnout can cause sleeping instability, irritability and crippling self doubt, she said. To help her clients cope with the symptoms, Ungerman likes to collaborate with them to come up with a set of “tools” such as grounding, mindfulness, breathing meditation and movement to deal with those overwhelming feelings. But even with these helpful strategies, burnout is not a state that can be easily overcome, Ungerman said. “The hardest part of advising my clients through this process is to help my clients implement distress tolerance and be patient with themselves,” Ungerman said. “There is no quick fix, but by connecting with people and using the [strategies], burnout eases and [individuals] can build self esteem and resilience.” ■
COMICS ARTWORK BY:
ILAN EL GHORMLI
THE REAL STORY BEHIND “UNCLE TOM”
The Josiah Henson Museum & Park fights to preserve the legacy of one of history’s forgotten heroes. 41
To many, Uncle Tom is more than a name. It’s D PRQLNHU IRU WKH HQVODYHG PDQ¶V KDUGVKLS ¿OOHG story, detailed famously in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”; a character straight from the pages of a U.S. history textbook. What many don’t know, however, is that Uncle Tom was based on the story of a real-life escaped slave: Josiah Henson. Henson’s story started just minutes away from Whitman, at the Isaac Riley Plantation, a Maryland slaveholder — where he was enslaved until 1830.
On April 23, 2021, The Josiah Henson Museum and park opened on the site of the plantation, with the goal of educating the community on Henson’s local connection. The historical park aims to highlight Henson’s story and the challenges he endured, Museum Associate Ginger Moody-Woodward said, while also acknowledging the continuing struggle for racial equality and justice. “The museum helps people understand the deeply crippling effects that slavery had,” Moody-Woodward said. “It also helps to make people aware of who Josiah Henson was and his connection to Harriet Beecher Stowe, who had a big impact on the emancipation of slaves.” The museum and park features more than three acres of multimedia exhibits including ¿UVW SHUVRQ QDUUDWLYHV RI +HQVRQ¶V OLIH WKH historic Riley-Bolton House — the house that Henson’s master, Riley, and a later private owner, Bolton, lived in — and a visitor center. Senior Anna Salafsky took advantage of this opportunity to expand her knowledge about local history and acknowledge the racial history in Bethesda’s backyard. “Getting the chance to see the original cabin where Josiah Henson was enslaved was really interesting,” Salafsky said. “It showed how prevalent slavery was in our area and it isn’t something that is as removed from us as we think it is.” After checking in at the modern visitor center, guests view a 12-minute video summarizing Henson’s life path. Following the video, the museum staff navigates visitors to the RiOH\ %ROWRQ KRXVH ¿OOHG ZLWK LQWHUDFWLYH H[KLEits and artifacts found by Montgomery County Parks archaeologists from Henson’s time on the plantation. These archaeologists have been working on the site since 2009, and have uncovered over 40,000 artifacts including old dinner plates, butter stamps and foundations of previous structures. The centerpiece of the museum, however, is the small log kitchen attached to the side of WKH KRXVH WKDW LQFOXGHV WKH VDPH GLUW ÀRRUV WKDW Henson was once forced to sleep on. According to Henson’s 1849 autobiography, “The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself,” for the slaves at the Riley plantation “wooden ÀRRUV ZHUH DQ XQNQRZQ OX[XU\ ´ “Walking into the log kitchen I couldn’t help but shudder,” said junior Ellie Morrison, another museum visitor. “It was cold, dark and clearly an insufferable place to live.” Henson was born into slavery in 1789 on a plantation in Charles County, Maryland owned by Francis Newman. Before he was enslaved by Isaac Riley, Henson had been enslaved by at least one other slave owner and was separated from the rest of his family. Riley bought Henson as a child and over the years, Riley grew to trust Henson’s strength and intelligence. Over the years, Riley gave Henson more EXUGHQVRPH VLJQL¿FDQW UHVSRQVLELOLWLHV ² KH was often tasked with transporting other slaves to Riley’s brother’s plantation and transferring crops to the market, Henson wrote in his autobiography. Later, Riley allowed him to become a preacher at the local Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1829, Riley agreed to grant Henson freedom in exchange for a $450 payment, which Henson had saved from his work preaching. But, through word of mouth, Henson heard that
Riley had planned to deceive and sell him. To avoid separation from his wife and four kids, +HQVRQ DQG KLV IDPLO\ ÀHG WR &DQDGD 7KH\ traveled 600 miles on foot to the Canadian border, receiving help from Quakers and Native Americans along the way. When they reached the Niagara River, a Scottish captain paid for the Henson family to travel across the turbulent waters. “Protecting his family was the primary motivation for him to escape from slavery,” said Jamie Ferguson, senior historian at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. “Then he worked so urgently to improve the lot of formerly enslaved African Americans living in Canada — that included his wife and children.” In Canada, Henson continued to preach, but, occasionally returned to the United States occasionally to aid in the liberation of slaves as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. In his lifetime, Henson helped free over 200 slaves. Henson’s narrative in his autobiography differentiated itself from other abolitionist works of the time in that it helped communicate the harsh realities of slavery from the perspective of slaves as opposed to learning about slavery from the perspective of white people, Ferguson said. The autobiography, revealing
FOUGHT SLAVERY WITH
many details of Henson’s life, ultimately inVSLUHG 6WRZH¶V LQÀXHQWLDO DQWL VODYHU\ QRYHO “It took a lot of courage to produce these works; by law, Henson was a fugitive when his book was published,” Ferguson said. “Henson fought slavery with words despite being deprived of literacy while enslaved.” In Canada too, Henson took on a leadership role among fugitive slaves. He aided in the establishment of the Dawn Settlement, a community for escaped slaves, in Dresden, Ontario, which aimed to employ and educate former slaves through schooling in the autonomous community. In order to raise money for the community, Henson made several trips to Great Britain and even met with Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle in 1877, where he gifted her a copy of his autobiography and in return, received a portrait of the Queen. “He could have easily just stayed in Canada in amenity for the rest of life — instead, he bared his soul to further immobilize the anti-slavery movement,” Ferguson said. “Heroes always put the good of mankind over their own well-being, no matter the risks.” An integral part of eliminating modern-day ignorance, bias and racism is teachLQJ DERXW ¿JXUHV OLNH +HQVRQ )HUJXVRQ VDLG and the museum works to contribute to this education. In September 2021, the museum commemorated Maryland’s Underground Railroad Month — the third of its kind — with a celebration centered around Henson’s legacy. And in April 2022, the site hosted interactive learning experiences for families over spring break. The museum hopes that these events teach community members to recognize key ORFDO DQG QDWLRQDO KLVWRULF ¿JXUHV WR SURPRWH see broadening social awareness and progress in future generations. “Illumination [and] raising awareness is a large part of what any museum does,” Ferguson said. “If you walk away from the exhibits and you read a book on slavery or attend a workshop on racial equity, or anything that broadens your awareness of racial disparities, WKHQ ZH KDYH GRQH RXU MRE ´
DEPRIVED OF LITERACY WHILE
WITH NOAH NOTHMAN by Lauren Heberlee
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In the early hours of a bitterly cold winter morning, sophomore Noah Nothman emerges from the water, his torso coated with ice. Temperatures have already reached below freezing, but for Nothman, this is only the first of two paddling sessions he will have that day on the rapids of the Potomac River. Grueling daily kayak practices combined with fitness sessions that include outdoor runs, sprints, weight-lifting and interval training all work to prepare him for a mere 90 seconds of competition. Although the schedule is rigorous, it could also potentially lead Nothman to his ultimate end goal: a spot on the U.S. National Kayaking Team. Nothman has been kayaking since age six, when his dad took him out to paddle for the first time. He loved it, and soon after, he bought his very own kayak. What started as a recreational family summer activity has now become Nothman’s lifestyle. Currently, he competes at the national and international level — including the 2021 U.S. National Team Trials and the 2024 Summer Olympic Trials. “Something about white water kayaking kind of stood out to me,” Nothman said. “Maybe it was the adrenaline or the adventure aspect of the sport because you get to go on a lot of camping trips, and you see all these really cool places that you would never get to see without your kayak.” After refining his paddling skills and learning to roll — righting a capsized kayak while staying strapped in the boat — through programs including Camp Calleva and Potomac Paddlers, Nothman decided to enroll in a weeklong training camp with the Potomac Whitewater Racing Club, the largest whitewater racing club in the U.S. “He surprised them because he was pretty good,” Noah’s dad, Eric Nothman, said. “They knew the skill level of most kids that age, and so they were surprised to see a kid show up who could paddle as well as he did.” One month later, Dana Chaldak, a PWRC coach, invited an 11-year-old Nothman to paddle on intense whitewater rapids with the other, older kayakers in the group. Chaldak, a two time Olympic medal winner in the slalom K1 event, would become Nothman’s new coach immediately after. Kayaking is a year round sport. Nothman is on the river through all four seasons and trains five to six times per week, regardless of ice on the water and snow on the ground. In the winter, he wears a wetsuit and special paddling gloves called pogies to prevent his hands and body from freezing. Nothman keeps his slalom kayak near the Potomac on a rack in the Brookmont neighborhood. PWRC uses the “feeder” — an opening in the Potomac River that was once used to feed water into the C&O Canal — adjacent to Brookmont to enter the water into a slalom course built for practice. PWRC also uses a weight room in a community center in Brookmont, decorated with inspirational posters of PWRC racers who have won world championships. PWRC kayakers work out there together for both scheduled and self-organized workouts, or use it individually.
Depending on the height of the water, Nothman trains on different parts of the river. Great Falls, a section of the river 14 miles upstream from D.C., has Class five rapids year round, and Little Falls, the last rapids of the river, can accumulate huge waves when the water level gets over five feet. Nothman now owns four kayaks, each suitable for different types of whitewater kayaking, such as slalom racing, play boating, creeking and big water. He has paddled on dozens of whitewater rivers, including the Ottawa and Rouge in Canada, the Indian and Hudson in New York, the Youghiogheny in Pennsylvania, the Nantahala in Tennessee, the Ocoee in Georgia and the Upper Gauley in West Virginia. “Probably the Matawin River in Canada is my favorite,” said Nothman. “The rapids are great, and there’s a nice 40 foot waterfall that you finish on, which is awesome.” Nothman competes in the whitewater slalom event, a course consisting of 18-24 gates — six of which are upstream — against the current. The gates are composed of two poles hanging from a wire that runs across the river. Racers have to go through the gates with their full head and at least part of their boat without hitting the poles. The gate configuration at each competition is different. Paddlers have at minimum a day to study the course and practice. Since races are only between 80-100 seconds long, it is important for kayakers to quickly memorize the course in order to execute it with both speed and precision. Nothman has traveled to train and compete in West Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Canada and Europe with PWRC coaches and kayakers. He most often travels to North Carolina to train at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, which houses a man-made kayaking course suitable for national and Pan-American competitions. Tyler Westfall, one of Northman’s current coaches and an Olympic kayaker and canoer, regularly travels with Nothman. Last summer, Westfall took a group of kayakers, including Nothman, to Prague for five weeks to compete in several races. Slalom kayaking is a popular sport throughout Europe — there are competitions most weekends, making it a great place to practice and improve. Nothman plans to travel to Europe with Westfall again this summer. These summer kayaking trips have given Nothman the chance to travel to places he would not have otherwise experienced. When he was in Prague, for example, the slalom course was within walking distance to a subway station. He could train in the morning, go into the city for lunch and then come back to the course in the afternoon. “When you’re there, it’s not like you’re just only doing slalom,” Nothman said. “Since cities in Europe are built on rivers, there’s always a city right next to the course, which is honestly probably one of my favorite parts of the sport — getting to travel.” According to Westfall, a successful kayaker must have power and endurance, as well as technical skills and mental acuity.
“Noah has the ability to be a very focused paddler,” said Westfall. “I’ve seen him, at certain times of his training, dedicate more focus and attention than anyone in the group, and that makes him really productive.” When he joined the PWRC at age 11, Nothman was the youngest kayaker in his group by at least a year. He had only kayaked on flat water prior to joining and was smaller than the other boys, so Nothman didn’t think he would ever be able to paddle as fast as them, Eric said. For about 4 years, that was true. But, last spring, at age 15, Nothman competed in the 2024 Olympic trials and came in 11th place. The winner was 28 years old, and no competitor of Nothman’s age or younger placed higher than him. Nothman also placed third in the U.S. National Championships for the U18 age group last summer. “That was my first team trials that I’ve been to, and I got third place out of everybody. So technically, I should make the team this year,” Nothman said. “But that’s just not how it works. Everybody has a good day. Everybody has a bad day. Everybody has a course that they’re better on, and everybody has a course they’re worse on.” At times, Noah can miss up to a week of school when he trains or competes out of town. It creates a difficult balancing act between academics and his commitment to kayaking, he said. “It’s been a challenge for him to catch up with his classes after a week off from school,” said Eric. “He has to take a bunch of tests and double up on his studies when he returns.” The Potomac River basin is one of the best locations for kayaking in the United States, and home to some of the top American paddlers throughout history. The U.S. National Team was most successful when it was based there in the 1980s. “The Potomac is fantastic because you have everything from Class 1 to Class 5 within a four mile stretch,” said Westfall. “It’s really a mecca.” While the Potomac is not as challenging as other rivers, it is excellent for physical work and learning basic technique, Westfall said. The PWRC trips to both Charlotte and Oklahoma City provide a complement to the Potomac, allowing the boys to apply what they’ve worked on at home to artificial courses with bigger whitewater rapids. Eric also emphasized the quality of the Potomac River for kayaking and canoeing. “Most people at Whitman probably don’t realize that the Potomac River is the nicest whitewater near a major population center in the whole country,” Eric said. Despite Nothman’s dedication to kayaking, he doesn’t want to pursue online school like many other paddlers do in order to prioritize training. “It would be great to do online school because I could go everywhere in the world and kayak and do something that I love,” Nothman said. “But at the same time, I want to get into college, and I love my friends and don’t think I could survive without human contact.”
By SOPHIE HUMMEL
B L O G | M Y E I G H T- DAY R OA D T R I P AC R O S S T H E C O U N T R Y
n the morning of June 16, 2020, I stood in my driveway and watched as movers loaded the last of my family’s possessions, furniture and household memories into trucks. Moments later, I scooped my dog Teddy into my arms and we squeezed into the Dodge Caravan rental that my family and I would spend the majority of the next eight days crammed inside. A school in Washington, D.C. hired my mom for an administrative job when I was in eighth grade. At the time, we lived in Los Angeles, California — the place I’d grown up, established lifelong friendships and spent many summer days lounging on Santa Monica beach. I knew that moving meant seeing my family less often, saying tearful goodbyes to my friends and somehow assimilating to a new school halfway through the already difficult years of adolescence — not quite a move that appealed to me. However, despite my reservations, our relocation to D.C. continued right on schedule — forcing me into a 2,000-mile, eight day-long road trip with my entire family (and Teddy, of course). The moving process shouldn’t have been so complicated: In a perfect world, my parents, brother and I would’ve hopped on a plane and arrived on the East Coast a mere few hours later. However, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020 — just months before the move — safety guidelines, along with Teddy’s special travel requirements, constrained us to make the cross-country trek via car. So, in that tightly-packed Dodge Caravan, we navigated through 10 states, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia staying overnight in the hotels we could find. If the family-bonding component of the trip wasn’t enough to make me go a little crazy, my brother and I were also taking math classes via Zoom; we had no choice but to log in from the most obscure parts of the country while connected to our unreliable iPhone hotspots — I can’t remember a class that wasn’t wrought with static and laggy video cameras But, my teachers
and classmates found entertainment in my mobile classroom, and their daily inquiries about my widely varying locations always prompted laughter, creating some moments of fun throughout the long trip. Our first stop was Arizona — not entirely unfamiliar, as I’d frequently visited family in the area. It was only June, however, temperatures in Arizona were already surpassing 100 degrees fahrenheit. The next morning, we woke up on our toes, ready to conquer the 300 mile stretch to Colorado. In the centennial state, we spent our time in the town of Durango, where we hiked, picnicked and explored nearby rivers — a nice change of scenery from the metal box we’d been traveling in. On our first night, we brought Teddy on a walk alongside the Animas River and I had the opportunity to catch up with my aunt and uncle, who I hadn’t seen in nearly a year. I can say without a doubt that Colorado was easily the highlight of the trip. The distance to Kansas was not quite as enjoyable. In what was supposed to be an eight hour drive, we accidentally missed three exits, and when we finally arrived at the hotel, unfortunately ten hours later, rain was pouring down as we ran to the entrance. We were soaked, frustrated and, inevitably, half asleep. The thunderstorm continued throughout the entire night until the second we pulled out of the parking lot the next morning. The rest of the trip went by quickly. My 12 hours in Missouri taught me one thing: Missouri is not for me. It’s extremely humid and unpleasant, and I don’t plan on returning. Ohio and West Virginia weren’t very eventful and we didn’t spend much time in either place eager to finally make it to Maryland and escape from the car that now, although with my resent, felt like home. On June 23, we made it to a hotel in Silver Spring. After spending the night, we woke up at 5 a.m., picked up coffee and met the movers at our new house. Sadly, Teddy, at 18 years old, passed away not long after we arrived at our new home. However, the drive now seemed like a blessing; the final memories I made with Teddy were unforgettable. Pulling him in a wheelbarrow through the mountains of Colorado on a hike, feeding him hamburgers from McDon-
ald’s in the middle of nowhere and spending time playing with Teddy in hotel rooms never would’ve happened had we chosen to fly. Those eight days gave me the opportunity to see parts of the country I’d yet to visit — some amazing, some not so much — and the opportunity to see members of my family I hadn’t seen in a while. My family drove through states I’d only ever known by name and stopped in cities that were drastically different from the one I had spent my childhood in. And while many of my closest friends might dread the idea of spending over a week in an enclosed space with their sibling, the bond between my younger brother and me grew stronger, not weaker, during our journey. We laughed at my parents every time they lost cellular connection and google maps shut down, we took funny pictures and videos together to pass the time — looking back at them still makes me smile — and we listened to our favorite songs on repeat. The trip forced me to spend time with him that I may not have spent otherwise. And for that, I’m very grateful. Small arguments and disagreements were inevitable, but the memories we created together outweighed them. From my dad bribing me and my brother with money to pinpoint random cities on the map to my parents telling us their funny childhood stories, the bad moments of the trip seemed to fade away. Despite the stress that the trip brought, I can’t thank that Dodge Caravan enough for giving me the trip of a lifetime — minus Kansas and Missouri. ■
by SOPHIE HUMMEL
graphic by GABY HODOR
46 Graphic by GABY HODOR
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“Sit back and relax because you are in for a real , f**king treat ”
Those words aren’t what some would typically associate with the nation’s capital — a city well-known for politicians and presidents. But at 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning at Perry’s Restaurant, those profanities mean one thing: a morning of drag. And ZDIÀHV Since 1991, drag queens have been performing at the Adams Morgan brunch spot to sold-out audiences every Sunday. The shows feature impersonations, lip-synching, dancing and acrobatics, while the drag queens don extravagant wigs, glitter, false eyelashes, VSDUNO\ RXW¿WV FRVWXPH MHZHOU\ DQG PDNHXS $ VHW price covers the show and unlimited trips to the buffet.
Sasha Adams Sanchez
The reigning “Ms. Perry’s 2022,” Sasha $GDPV 6DQFKH] ZDV WKH ¿QDO GUDJ TXHHQ WR KLW WKH GLQLQJ URRP ÀRRU 0V 6DQFKH] VWDUWHG drag 12 years ago and performs once or twice a month at Perry’s in addition to appearances at other venues. Ms. Sanchez says she enjoys drag because she loves to entertain and make people smile. Referring to the other drag queens at Perry’s as her sisters, she also appreciates the opportunity to contribute to her community by performing at fundraisers that aid youth, the elderly and the LGBTQIA+ community. Ms. Sanchez is proud to hold the “Ms. Perry’s” title, she said. The annual Ms. Perry’s competition includes four categories: presentation, talent, evening gown and question and answer. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be seen by the general public,” Ms. Sanchez said. “But the reign is also hard because you have to meet people’s expectations.”
India Larelle Houston
At a performance back in March, customers indulged in an hour-long all-you-can-eat buffet that offered eggs, baFRQ IUHVK IUXLW ZDIÀHV DQG IULHG FKLFNHQ 6RRQ DIWHU WKH performance began. To kick off the show, the host — who announces each of the queens, while simultaneously showering them in compliments — strutted into the restaurant’s dining room wearing a silver sequin jumpsuit. “I know you are wondering, ‘who is this tall, statuesque, silver goddess standing before you?’” one drag queen said. “Ladies and gentlemen, my name is India Larelle Houston.” Queen Houston performed to a mix of Beyonce’s top hits, including “Crazy In Love” and “Drunk In Love.” Having mastered Beyonce’s signature dance moves and exudLQJ WKH FRQ¿GHQFH DQG HQHUJ\ RI D WUXH GLYD VKH JUDEEHG every guest’s attention. Patrons clapped, laughed and FKHHUHG DV VKH ¿QLVKHG RII KHU QXPEHU WR ³/RYH RQ 7RS ´ Next up was Sophia Carrero. A short latina drag queen wearing a bedazzled leotard and a shoulder length, curly brown wig, Ms. Carrero was the friendliest of the four drag queens at Perry’s. She visited tables to mingle and took pictures with guests at the end of her performance.
:KLWQH\ *XFFL *RR ZDV WKH ¿UVW WR LQFRUSRUDWH DFrobatics into her performance. Without missing a beat, she executed a seamless backbend. Later in the show, a perfect cartwheel straight into a split drew loud applause from the crowd. Ms. Gucci Goo, who performs at Perry’s every Sunday, started drag when she was 17. “I saw a drag queen and said ‘I want to do that,’ so I did it,” she said. “Drag is a way to have more fun with life. You get to be larger than life. You can do comedy. You can do dance. There’s so many avenues of performing.” The performers at Perry’s have known each other for years and have worked together at other D.C. drag brunch spots as well. “Everyone is nice and sweet. They’re sassy as hell, but I love them,” said Ms. Gucci Goo.
Whitney Gucci Goo Photos by AVA OHANA.
(DFK GUDJ TXHHQ SHUIRUPHG WZLFH DW WKH EUXQFK PDNLQJ TXLFN RXW¿W FKDQJHV DQG PDNHXS WRXFK XSV EHWZHHQ WKHLU ¿UVW DQG VHFRQG SHUIRUPDQFHV ,Q :KLWQH\ *XFFL *RR¶V VHFRQG SHUIRUPDQFH VKH ÀDXQWHG WXUTXRLVH EOXH HYHQLQJ ZHDU which featured a deep low cut top, oversized gold sequins and matching kneehigh boots. Her act also included impersonations of both Dolly Parton and Nicki Minaj. Audience members were encouraged to give money to the performers as a way to express their enjoyment for the performances. “This is how you show us your love and appreciation. This is how we support our families — by doing something we love,” Houston said. Many of the guests at Perry’s were celebrating a special occasion — typical for drag brunches due to their cheerful and celebratory environment — such as a birthday or bachelorette party. These individuals were called halfway through the show to the center of the room by Ms. Houston, who sat in a chair next to the line formed by these “guests of honor.” Ms. Houston addressed each person in the line, showering them with compliments and empowering messages and, for those over the age of 21, treating them to free shots of tequila. The brunch provided two hours of pure fun and a complete escape. In India Larelle Houston’s introduction she proclaimed, “Get ready for the best day of your whole motherfucking life” — and given the hoots and hollers of the crowd at Perry’s, she just might have been right.
My journey with Jewish activism by Eliana Joftus graphics by EMMA LIN
ost American teenagers are taught about the Holocaust at some point in school. It’s a difficult lesson to teach children, usually filled with graphic imagery and horrifying stories of genocide. But for Jewish kids, these stories are ingrained in our heads before we can even comprehend what they mean. Ever since I can remember, I’ve understood that some people hated Jews. Often, I’ve felt like an outsider in American life, just because of my faith. The animosity towards us haunts the Jewish people. Most Jewish students can attest that they have been the target of microaggressions, uncomfortable questions, ridicule, or a wall for insensitive comments, such as: “You’re lucky to be Jewish,” or “You definitely look/seem Jewish”. Often, I’ve questioned myself, going against better judgment: Are they right? Am I just imagining all these microaggressions that I face; am I privileged? Do I really look that Jewish? Is it okay to “look” Jewish? Am I ugly for being Jewish? Before I attended Whitman, I thought that being Jewish wouldn’t make me an outcast, as I recognized the great amount of Jewish students in attendance. But I quickly realized this was far from the case. Even though I had a lot of Jewish students around me, I felt ostracized. During class, a student brought up Adolf Hitler as a way to strengthen their argument. My face got hot and I was about to raise my voice, but as I looked around, everyone acted normally. Everyone dismissed the comment, and so did I. There are people who can easily throw around these ties to the Holocaust or to Jewish travesties to strengthen their argument or to prove a point, but for Jews, our ancestral trauma uncomfortably sits, deep in the bottom of our hearts, knowing that, for us, it’s more than just a historical story. It’s our ancestors. Every Jew thinks of their ethnoreligion differently. Some practice Judaism very seriously, obeying the rules of the Torah or for the sake of family tradition. Some Jews think of it
more as an ethnicity than a faith they actively participate in. The diversity in the Jewish population helps it flourish, as everyone has different stories and traditions, ones that all have their own stories tied to them. Unfortunately, in the school community, the differentiating views and practices separated Jewish students from each other more than ever. There was no way to unite each other so we could fight back together against antisemitism in our community, as some people were seen as “too Jewish” or some as “not Jewish enough.” I decided that, in the face of Jewish disunity and anti-Semitism, I wanted to get involved, so I could make this a safer space for fellow Jews. As a sophomore, I became the Co-President of the Jewish Student Union. The summer before, swastikas and nooses were graffitied on school grounds. In neighboring schools, swastikas were drawn in schools almost every day before COVID-19 hit in March 2020. Witnessing racial and antisemitic violence that year in my community and online motivated me to take charge and ultimately work harder than ever. I advertised an Instagram page and the club to anyone interested in the summer of 2020, and as the virtual school year began, we held regular Zoom meetings and raised awareness about issues that concerned us. Our first online program meeting was about antisemitism around the holiday season. I sat and talked with familiar and unfamiliar faces about real things that we’ve all experienced at Whitman or in our community. By then, I knew that this was a community that was missing for so many. In early 2021, the Israel vs. Palestine conflict was all anyone was talking about. Even though this conflict about the dispute over land between the Israelis and Palestinians existed for 54 years, the contention met one of its many peaks in the past two years. American Jews were targeted, and in our community, sought out the Jewish Student Union for any type of direction and comfort. Jews were being attacked because of the Israeli government’s ac-
tions, something that they had no control over. At Whitman, anti-Israeli protestors entered the fray and Jewish students were terrified. Five men stood in the Whitman parking lot in May of 2021, one holding a sign that showed an Israeli flag and an equal sign pointing to a Nazi flag. “WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?” the sign read. “ISRAEL IS A TERRORIST STATE. FREE PALESTINE.” One of the men in the parking lot is a confirmed 2018 Whitman graduate who shared his thoughts with The Black & White when the May article was released. “Bethesda is a very wealthy and affluent area that’s rich with Jewish families. Educated, influential, nationalistic people.” The Jewish Student Union was a source of strength for scared students who didn’t know what to believe in, and throughout numerous other antisemitic attacks in our hemisphere, we’ve hoped to sustain that source. Becoming a leader in the Jewish community at school helped me find an answer to the lack of connection between Jewish students at Whitman. We connected those who are more religious and those who don’t practice religion whatsoever. We’ve acted as a safe space for all people to come to speak or listen about issues that concerned them, from petty comments to synagogue shootings. One discussion was about hidden antisemitic tropes in popular sitcoms. Another was about the different comments and microaggressions we’ve experienced because of our identity. Being a Jewish teenager is difficult, even in a community like ours where I’m constantly surrounded by fellow Jewish people. It’s been a windy, never-ending road in finding my identity through activism and education. I never take who I am or where I come from for granted, living as a product of survivorship and resilience reminds me to overcome any of the minuscule obstacles that I face daily.
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very Friday between rush hours, traf¿F ÀRRGV WKH FRUQHU RI %DWWHU\ /DQH and Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda. $ OLQH RI FDUV ¿OOV D KDOI PLOH ORQJ VWUHWFK while volunteers in bright yellow vests direct WKH WUDI¿F LQWR WKH SDUNLQJ ORW RI WKH %HWKHVda Chevy-Chase Rescue Squad. As the clock VWULNHV S P WKH ¿UVW FDU IROORZV D SDWK RI WUDI¿F FRQHV WKURXJK WKH ORW ZKHUH WKH\¶OO meet more vest-wearing volunteers preparing a week’s worth of groceries for them. In a few short minutes, those practiced volunteers pile the bags into the car — and then it’s onto the next. For many recipients of the groceries, there’s a sense of relief in the process. This week, they won’t have to worry about where they’re going to get their next meal. 6LQFH LWV ¿UVW IRRG GLVWULEXWLRQ LQLWLDWLYH LQ $XJXVW WKH QRQ SUR¿W 1RXULVKLQJ Bethesda has provided families in the DMV with a reliable source of fresh, healthy groceries nearly every Friday, rain or shine. Nourishing Bethesda strives to distribute as many meals to food-insecure individuals as possible each week, offering opportunities for community members in need to drive through or simply walk up to their distribution centers to receive bags of essential items like local produce, bread, cereal, eggs, nonperishable foods and butter. In 2021, the charity gave out healthy groceries to an average of 1,200 individuals per week. “There is a distinction between being ‘hungry’ and being ‘food-insecure,’” Nourishing Bethesda founder John Ross said. “Hungry is a physical sensation of your stomach. Food insecurity is the state of living in a place where you’re not clear where your next meal is going to come from — inducing anxiety and depression amongst many.” Although Bethesda — one of the wealthiest cities in the country — might initially seem to be an area with low food insecurity, Ross encourages residents to reconsider. According to data from Feeding America and the Montgomery County Government, in 2018, 83,000 Montgomery County residents were food insecure, comprising around 8% of the population. That percentage increased by more than 5% when the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated economically challenging conditions. The data also points to food insecurity’s disproportionately high percentage among children — estimated at 20% in 2020. Foreign-born residents, senior citizens and people with disabilities are other populations most vulnerable to food insecurity in Montgomery County and in the rest of the country. Nourishing Bethesda aims to relieve the
stresses of food insecurity for as many of these groups as possible, Ross said. Around one-third of people receiving groceries live in the Bethesda Chevy-Chase area, while residents from Silver Spring, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Prince George’s County and Washington D.C. also rely on the organization for their weekly supply. Ross attributes part of Nourishing Bethesda’s success to Bethesda’s role as a “magnet” for many lower-wage employees, some of whom live miles away. The wealthier lifestyle common in Potomac and Bethesda depends on many of these lower-income jobs, such as house cleaning, lawn work and hospitality, he said. “We are also committed to supporting people who live in fairly far away zip codes,” Ross said. “Many different people from many different backgrounds travel far to Nourishing Bethesda because that is the only distribution that they can make with long, unpredictable working hours and commutes.” Tens of thousands of impoverished Montgomery County residents face challenges that lead to food insecurity, such as having to apportion their money to different necessities. Many IDPLOLHV KDYH WR PDNH GLI¿FXOW WUDGHRIIV LQFOXGing deciding if their income is better spent on rent, prescription pills for a sick relative or new children’s shoes. Providing food for these families alleviates pressure by allowing them to focus their income on these other needs, Ross said. Before every Friday food distribution, Ross reminds volunteers that Nourishing Bethesda is a “no judgment zone.” Since its establishment, Nourishing Bethesda has run on the philosophy that anybody who drives and waits two to three hours in line is deserving of food — no questions asked. “I tell that to people because it’s true,” Ross said. “There will be instances when you’re volunteering and distributing food to hundreds of people and then encounter someone driving a nice car then wonder, ‘well do they need it?’” There are endless situations in which people might need to pick up food — for instance, to compensate for a sudden loss of income or to help out a neighbor, Ross said. The story of the organization’s origin sheds light on how Ross formed such an understanding and altruistic outlook. On Dec. 12, 2019, what was supposed to be Ross’ weekly trip to the grocery store took a turn for the worse. As he drove back from the store, not even 90 seconds away from his home, Ross was t-boned by a U-Haul truck that had run through a red light on Old Georgetown Road. He went unconscious on impact. The next hours were a blur, Ross said. He
remembers waking up in excruciating pain at Suburban Hospital with what he optimistically considered “a pretty good break” from the accident. Suffering from broken ribs, a broken ankle, a broken leg, a shattered pelvis and a bruised heart and lungs, Ross believed himself lucky to be alive. He spent the next month recovering in the intensive care unit, experiencing multiple near-death instances as a result of his injuries. He has yet to fully recover from the accident. From sitting in bed to standing up independently and then taking a few steps, each act of recovery felt like a miracle to Ross. He emerged from the other side of this injury a changed man, he said — a man inspired to make a change within his community. “I feel that I’ve been blessed with this extraordinary second chance to really make a difference in the world,” Ross said. “I felt this incredible wind in my sails as if I was a sailing ship and that strong wind was driving me along. … I had to invest this great energy.” Ross, who was still recovering from his injuries at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, worked alongside his ministry group at St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church to organize fundraisers for those with various needs. The operations started small. In the beginning, the church had a goal to raise $700 to provide meals for frontline workers at Suburban Hospital. The cause was so inspiring to donors, though, that the church ultimately raised over $6,000. From buying gallons of hand sanitizer for bus drivers to creating hygiene and food packages for those in need, the community came together to aid in supplying necessities, Ross said. “We just unlocked people’s desire to give and to be generous, which is in so many people’s hearts,” Ross said. “It got to a point that we realized we were kind of putting a banGDLG RQ FRPPXQLW\ SUREOHPV DQG ZH ¿JXUHG WKDW ZH EHWWHU GR VRPHWKLQJ PRUH VLJQL¿FDQW ´ A couple of months later, in August 2020, they launched a weekly food distribution initiative in the Bethesda Chevy-Chase rescue squad parking lot. The early days of the QRQ SUR¿W ZHUH VOLJKWO\ VKDN\ DV 5RVV DQG WKH other volunteers had underestimated the severity of food insecurity in Bethesda, he said. ³)RU WKH ¿UVW FRXSOH RI GLVWULEXWLRQV we got hammered and ran out of food,” Ross said. “I remember one time where we had to walk to 75 different cars lined up all down Old Georgetown Road and backed up to Arlington [Road] to tell them that we ran out of food — it was heartbreaking.” Because Ross and the other founding
members didn’t have experience with food distribution on a larger scale, they began Nourishing Bethesda as a coalition of different partners rather than an independent charity. Initially, WKH QRQ SUR¿W KDG WR UDLVH WKH PRQH\ WR SXUchase each item of food. Within a few months, the Montgomery County Government, Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce and the Bethesda Chevy-Chase rescue squad joined the Nourishing Bethesda Coalition to help tackle the local food insecurity crisis. Currently, county grants, donations and foundation grants fund the organization. Now, Nourishing Bethesda has been incorporated into the County budget, cementing their place in the community as a county partner. Volunteer Tammi Houton became involved with Nourishing Bethesda when she was head of development and outreach for Nourishing Now, a charity that helped supply Nourishing Bethesda with food in the summer of 2020. Houton worked alongside Ross and other Nourishing Bethesda founders to plan the best strategies for success, helping to design the distribution layout by networking for Nourishing Bethesda. About a year after her initial work with Nourishing Bethesda, Houton came back in June 2021 to volunteer with the charity, and is the current Deputy Director. “You can’t really wrap your head around the scale of the food insecurity crisis and even the variety of people that show up unless you come and see it yourself,” Houton said. From Thursday night dry-good grocery packaging to their “grab-and-go” food distribution on Friday mornings, Nourishing Bethesda has many volunteer opportunities each week. Regardless of age or background, there is a unique volunteer opportunity for everyone at Nourishing Bethesda, organizers said. “All of the things that separate us apart like differences in gender, economic status and race are not evident at Nourishing Bethesda,” Ross said. “We have kids, we have seniors, we have Mormon missionaries, we have Episcopalians, we have Jewish people and, most recently, a bunch of recent Afghan immigrants that came over from the war [volunteering].” In addition to hosting food distributions every Friday, Nourishing Bethesda delivers weekly groceries to the Waverly House and Lakeview housing units, home to many low-in-
come senior residents. Unlike most other food insecure individuals, the residents of these housing units aren’t always mobile enough to make the commute to food distribution centers. At the end of 2021, Montgomery County’s Department of Emergency Preparedness approached Nourishing Bethesda, asking for them to assist in providing food for local Afghan families. Currently, several local hotels host Afghan families who are adapting to their new lives in America. Every week, Nourishing Bethesda provides groceries to over a dozen Afghan families living in a local Bethesda hotel. There’s a great deal of volunteer work behind the scenes that goes into a Friday distribu-
and then distributing the food to lines of cars and people and then watching the supply shrink in a couple of hours is incredible,” Houton said. “This organization runs like a well-oiled machine with everyone there for a common purpose, and I just walk away inspired each week.” Ross’ charitable efforts came full circle six months after he founded Nourishing Bethesda — during a Friday distribution, Ross’s accident came up in conversation with John Bentivoglio, the vice president of the Bethesda Chevy-Chase rescue squad. After Bentivoglio recognized the location and date of the accident, he told Ross that the Bethesda ChevyChase rescue squad was the crew on the scene. “Bentivoglio asked me if I wanted to meet the guy who cut me out of my car, and so I followed him into one of the station’s bays and met Sean Purcell, who extracted me,” Ross said. “[Purcell] said, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ — he remembered me.” Due to privacy rights, PRVW (07V DQG ¿UH¿JKWHUV will not know what happens to a person they have rescued after they’re dropped off at the hospital. Ross doesn’t remember the instant aftermath of the accident, though he does recall hearing from others that it entailed a “hard extraction.” That day, Purcell walked Ross around the station, showing KLP WKH -DZV RI /LIH D WRRO XVHG E\ ¿UVW UHsponders in serious accidents to extract people from cars — the tool that saved his life. Ross knew that he wanted to repay these volunteers for rescuing him, but he also knew that sandwiches or pizza slices ZHUHQ¶W JRLQJ WR VXI¿FH KH VDLG 6R 5RVV partnered with local French restaurant Mon $PL *DEL WR JLIW WKH YROXQWHHU ¿UH¿JKWers with a multiple-course, white-tablecloth meal to thank them for saving his life. :KHQ 5RVV ¿UVW VWDUWHG 1RXULVKLQJ Bethesda, the ethos behind the plan was simply to provide temporary COVID-19 relief. With help from the community, Nourishing Bethesda reinforced Ross’ worldview and connected him with both the people in need and the people willing to help meet those needs. “I believe that with one person at a time, one volunteer at a time, we’re going to change our community from the bottom up,” Ross said. “That’s where change happens.”
“This organization runs like a well-oiled machine with everyone there for a common purpose, and I just walk away inspired each week.”
tion. On Thursday nights, a group of volunteers gathers at the Bethesda Chevy-Chase rescue squad to package dry goods and shelf sustainable goods for the next day. By 12 p.m. on Friday, there are already over two dozen volunteers present to unload trucks of fresh produce, VHW XS GLVWULEXWLRQ WDEOHV DQG FRQWURO WUDI¿F Beth Campbell, the previous Deputy Director of Nourishing Bethesda, worked to collect demographic information from food recipients and organize volunteers. As a member of St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church, Campbell was one of the founding members who worked alongside Ross to lead Nourishing Bethesda towards its success today. ³,W LV KDUG VRPHWLPHV WR ¿QG YROXQWHHU ZRUN that provides direct action,” Campbell said. “At Nourishing Bethesda, you can see the recipients and feel their appreciation, and it is such an amazing way to get involved in the community.” Like Campbell, Houton said that her volunteer experience with the organization has been rewarding. “Just the experience of packing produce bags, seeing how many bags quickly add up,
graphic by GREER VERMILYE Vecteezy.com
LET’S TALK A-“BAO”-T IT: A guide to the DMV’s best soup dumplings by TARA DAVOODI and ZOE CANTOR The late Anthony Bourdain called this food “pillows of happiness.” We’d agree. Soup dumplings, as the name suggests, combine two of the world’s most sacred foods: soup and dumplings — in one flavorful pouch. The history of the xiao long bao dates back to the 13th century Mongols, who traded dumpling-like food items via the Silk Road. The product evolved, and, later a 19th-century Shanghai restaurant owner created the xiao long bao we know today. Just like the Mongols before us, we followed our own Silk Road — Rockville Pike — to sample soup dumplings from three restaurants. When it came to rating soup dumplings, we evaluated three key com-
Photos by TARA DAVOODI.
ponents: soup flavor, meat flavor and skin thickness. We also tried each location’s take on the scallion pancake — a wholly unrelated addition, scallion pancakes deserve recognition nonetheless — and graded them on their taste, texture and onion-ness. Our instructions for eating soup dumplings are as follows: First, scoop your soup dumpling into a spoon in an upright position. Bite the top and let some of the steam escape — you won’t want to burn yourself! This next step is optional but highly recommended by xiao long bao connoisseurs: pour in a bit of the provided vinegar. Finally, drink the soup out of the dumpling and then eat the rest.
Bob’s Shanghai 66 We ordered the Pork Xiao Long Bao ($10.75) and the Scallion Pancake ($7.75). Bob’s immediately greeted us with colorful walls filled to the brim with awards, posters and monitors displaying menu highlights that taunted us to order more than we could eat. We couldn’t help purchasing the scallion pancakes to pair with our xiao long bao, adding it to our list of items to review. While waiting for quite obviously award-winning dumplings, we poured ourselves a hot cup of tea from the provided kettle and intently watched the kitchen where we could see the chefs preparing orders. As the food arrived at our table, the steam was still piping off of the top; we promptly chowed down. The soup dumplings were all but heaven itself: a perfect amount of soup to supplement the pork, but not too much to weigh down the skin. We allowed ourselves a bit of black vinegar in each xiao long bao which mingled perfectly with the aromatic soup and ginger undertones in the pork. The dumpling skin itself was very structurally sound — despite the considerable amount of filling, no soup punctured through; we savored every single bite (and slurp). In all honesty, we would both give up our firstborn child to try these for the first time again. Next, we dug into our scallion pancakes, which arrived hot and golden brown. The outside was delectably flaky and glazed with oil in stark contrast to the inside: thick and dense. Despite the satisfying texture, the taste of scallion was hardly detectable. If you’re not a huge fan of onions, these pancakes will be your best friend. However, most people ordering scallion pancakes are probably looking for scallions in their flavor profile. We still recommend trying these but don’t expect to get knocked off your feet from the flavor. Overall, our dining experience was pleasant. If you’re keen on saving 10% off of your meal, bring cash. But if you’re halfway through the meal and realize you only brought a card, no worries — this soup dumpling is worth it. Bob’s Shanghai 66 is located at 305 N Washington St, Rockville, MD 20850.
A&J Restaurant We ordered the Pork Xiao Long Bao ($5.00) and the Scallion Pancake ($5.50). Next, we next took our dumpling-testing tastebuds down Rockville Pike to A&J Restaurant, perhaps the lesser-known counterpart to Bob’s. After a quick glance at the menu our wallets were already smiling — the dumplings came out to $1.25 apiece, even cheaper than Bob’s blessed baos. The restaurant’s ambiance bore many similarities to Bob’s, suggesting authenticity and traditional dumplings. But we’re here to review dumplings, not decor. Onto the food. A&J’s xiao long bao were smaller, but our consolation prize was a fiery chili oil that we eagerly spooned over the dish. The meat was flavorful, we agreed, and the dough delicate. However, the delicacy doesn’t come without a caveat. The thinner, tasty dough also caused some of the hot soup to seep out of the dumplings: A cardinal sin of the xiao long bao. Nevertheless, these soup dumplings left us feeling satisfied and glad we had made the journey post-Bob’s. At A&J’s, the scallion pancake fulfilled the onion flavor we had been missing. Each bite packed a powerful punch; but when we say these pancakes were thick, they were THICK. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but depending on the preferences of the pancake-eater, a flakier crust would have balanced out the dense dough. Ultimately, A&J Restaurant is what we would call good value: great food for low prices. The Costco of dumplings, if you will. It might be unassuming, but this location offers the best bang for your buck. A&J’s Rockville location is 1319-C, Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852.
Q by Peter Chang
Graphic by MAYA WIESE.
We ordered the Xiao Long Bao dumplings ($15.00) and the Scallion Bubble Pancake ($6.00). After parking our car illegally at B-CC (roll Vikes!) we headed over to Q by Peter Chang, a more “upscale” variation of Chinese dining. The decor was noticeably different from the previous two locations — the space was filled with green booths, huge ceiling lamps and red accent pieces — but it lacked some charm. At this point, we weren’t expecting the typical soup dumpling and scallion pancake. We were proved right when our server brought out five soup dumplings individually placed in their own bowls of soup. Soup outside of a soup dumpling? We were shocked and frankly horrified. Unsure of how to proceed, we first tried the soup by itself — but it was bland, eerily reminiscent of store-bought chicken broth. Peter Chang did not provide us with ceramic spoons, so we were forced to pick up the dumplings — now slippery from the subpar soup — with our hands. While the meat inside was flavorful, the soup-to-meat ratio was severely off: too much soup, not enough meat. And, we paid a whopping $3 per dumpling. Even if your doctor, lawyer or engineer parents offered to foot the bill, we wouldn’t recommend these xiao long bao to any customer. We were more excited for the bubble scallion pancake, though. Peter Chang’s iteration of the dish looked like a doughy balloon; unexpectedly large, albeit filled with air. We eagerly tore apart the piping “pancake” with our hands, only to be left with oil-coated fingers and a desire for more scallions, though the overall taste was nevertheless solid. Luckily, a curry-like paste was served alongside the balloon bread, which we slathered on each bite to our heart’s content. Light in flavor with a bit of tang, it perfectly supplemented the pancake. And we have to give some credit to Peter Chang: It’s definitely memorable to eat a basketball-sized piece of deepfried dough. Our dining experience — which had a slight points deficit in the food department — was improved by the music. Peter Chang treated us to a wide variety of classical pop covers that we can only describe as Bridgerton-esque (we had forgotten how good the song Rather Be was and a string quartet cover made it even better). Just in time for the second season! Q by Peter Chang’s Bethesda location is 4500 East-West Hwy #100, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Volume 60 finale Across: 1) A tool used in photography 2) Spanish meal 3) Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? 4) A character in A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie 5) A shortened sleeping period, plural 6) Frozen water 7) A word you may have heard your parents use 8) Something you can do as a senior or in the summer 9) Nickname for the show One Tree Hill 10) American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians 11) Sports federation for auto racing 12) Short for “doctor” 13) Full 14) A lump of soft material 15) Anger, rage, and fury; plural 16) Sunrise in Latin 17) The use of registers and instructions, as opposed to using specialized processing engines 18) Used to the same degree or amount 19) Over the top 20) Soccer club named after Rei Amador 21) Talent show at Whitman 22) Founded in 1933 by Dorothy Renton 23) Passionate, extremely sensitive, and intelligent 24) An Austin-based band 25) A hip-hop/rap artist 26) A restaurant in Bethesda, _____ Bar and Kitchen 27) A type of software 28) You are. 29) Short for American Eagle 30) That ____ normal 31) Comprehensive reform law enacted in 2010 32) To____ their own 33) A song from Journey’s 4th album 34) A cooking utensil 35) Popular kids game 36) An article used when the word after it has a vowel 37) A benefit of something 38) A fruit of mexican origin; plural Down: 1) A chemist’s favorite item of furniture 14) One of Walt Whitman’s clubs 17) Japanese food sold at nearby restaurant Raku 58
18) Not asleep 30) Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis 33) Mountain 39) Short for when someone tells you more than you want to know 40) What the magic flute is; plural 41) A naturally occurring polymer of galactose 42) Abbreviated text you send when someone asks when you are going to do something 43) Type of battery 44) Maryland; abbreviated 45) One of the only things you remember from APUSH 46) Opposite of sunset 47) Identification 48) Vampire from Sesame Street 49) Someone who plays pretend for a living 50) A research and development agency 51) Karen is probably a ___ mom 52) Are there more wheels or ____ in the world; singular 53) James Bond movie that came out in 1983 54) If you get sick, you are____ 55) The format in which you write papers 56) Recent movie with music by Lin Manuel Miranda 57) I just downloaded a new one 58) I’m in me mums ____, Vroom Vrooom 59) A city in Italy known for being where Te palace resides 60) Informal cry of agitation 61) Opposite of 37 across 62) Mall of America; abbreviated
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