Some friendship roles are universal: the jokester, the listener, the leader. Not so common is a friend group that also has the forwards, the point guard and the captains. For best friends and senior varsity basketball players Morgan Chase, Adrienne Jackson, Johanna Lopez, Olivia Nono and Myla Sapp, friendship and basketball are inseparable.
At her boarding school in the Central Province of Kenya, Eunice Muchemi's English teacher often moved the lesson to a field in the wildlife reserve just outside campus where monkeys, giraffes and antelopes mingled.
Bertha Garcia walked in the door on the first day of school and was shocked by the number of students she saw and intimidated by the size of Blair. Although she tried her hardest, she got lost several times. She took wrong turns here and there, and walked into stairwell hallways instead of real ones. This may sound like a typical first day for freshman Blazers, but Garcia is a transfer student and this is her senior year.
The ventures of most third graders end up abandoned with gobs of Elmer's glue and a few bucks to serve as mementos of far flung dreams of greatness. When now freshmen Zeke Wapner, Ben Miller, Michael Untereiner and Ian Askew decided to start a band in the third grade, not much more was expected of them.
Link began his quests at Death Mountain in 1986 when he first rescued Princess Zelda from Ganon, the Prince of Darkness, and saved the Kingdom with a Silver Arrow, but most video-gaming Blazers began their quests in a basement with a GameCube ten years ago. It's more or less the same story for junior Fen Kemp and senior Jack Vaughan as they discuss their experiences playing "The Legend of Zelda" over lunch.
Those new flowerpots by Blair's front door are not just there to mark a new school year; they are there to announce the coming of a new principal and the changes that she is bringing with her. Principal Renay Johnson has big plans in mind and is putting some in action as she begins to leave her mark on Blair.
They come earlier and stay later than any student. They work weekends and summers. While we sit in our climate-controlled school, building our futures, they stand in the heat or cold, begging to maintain their present. Just across the intersection of Colesville Road and University Boulevard, the "panhandlers" pace sidewalks and medians for hours every day, holding cardboard signs and jingling coins in plastic cups. Many different panhandlers visit the intersection, but some "regulars" have been coming to Four Corners for decades. The intersection and small commercial center surrounding Blair attracts many panhandlers, often five in a day.
Conducting blood pattern analyses, chasing suspects on motorbike, and finding bullet trajectories seems more like a day in the life of an actor on CSI, not of the security guard who patrols Blair's back halls. But just a few years ago Maureen Walsh was documenting homicides and dodging bullets for the Washington, D.C., Police Department.
Senior Talia Mason stands red-faced and panting with a feeling of satisfaction after performing a series of jumps, leaps and twirls in front of a group of her peers at the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. The routine, which she painstakingly arranged herself is more than series of movements — it is an expression of her thoughts and feelings into a kinetic work of art.
Senior Roxana Treminio used to resort to going hungry during the school day. She did not know that she could qualify for free meals until last year, when her younger sister brought a county-government form home and asked her parents to fill it out. Now that Treminio receives school-provided meals, she is able to eat a full meal without waiting until she gets home.
Senior CJ Argue hangs another blue beaded Mardi Gras necklace around his neck. His face and body are already caked with blue and white face paint, giving him the appearance of a retro superhero; a blue and white Israeli flag drapes proudly over his back.
Like any typical Blair student, sophomore Conlan Mayer-Marks grudgingly wakes up at six in the morning, brushes his teeth and gets dressed. But instead of throwing on the standard t-shirt and jeans, Mayer-Marks neatly buttons up a military uniform.
For the past eight weeks, every Friday, 44 teachers nervously filed into the nurse's office all day. Each one slowly steps onto a scale, hoping that the number is lower than it was the previous week. The Biggest Loser competition has come to Blair.
Our society has etched the story of the successful student: they advance through elementary, middle and high school, working hard and achieving good grades and finally standing proudly as high school graduates. Adorned with a cap and gown, diplomas in one hand and admission letters to top colleges in another, they are completely prepared to meet the future ahead. While this trajectory is common for many Blazers, it conceals the paths of who do not follow this story: the paths of Blair dropouts.
With the onset of summer, students are dreaming of lazy days by the pool and warm, homework-free nights. But standing between them and the bliss of summer vacation is a formidable obstacle to overcome: exams.
For Blazers, a lunch period is much more than just time to eat. It's 45 minutes of nearly complete freedom; a time when students are free to do almost anything they please. It might be a time to catch up with friends, review class notes or just relax and take a break from the monotony of classes. While it's common to see students in the SAC, along Blair Boulevard or outside as the weather gets warmer, students spread all across Blair, forming pockets of culture as they pursue their activities of choice.
They watched it happen nearly 7,000 miles away. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake, accompanied by hundreds of aftershocks, brought entire buildings to the ground, flooded the land with several tons of seawater and expunged thick, dark smoke into the air. They saw an earthquake, a tsunami and nuclear plant explosions taking place in Japan and finally absorbed the heartbreaking reality: This was happening to their home.
Once or twice a week, junior Cecile Drymalski sits cross-legged on the floor of her bedroom. She taps singing bowls and attempts to keep her eyes open as she slips into a meditative trance. These are rituals of Buddhism, the religion that Drymalski follows. But rather than taking the typical path of following her parents into religion, Drymalski has found a faith all her own in order to fill spaces left by not having a religion.
"From a clinical standpoint, have you ever considered getting some help?" Uneasy chuckles fill the aisles at Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C.'s famous independent bookstore, in response to the question from an audience member. But the speaker at the front of the room, a petite woman by the name of Amy Chua, is unfazed.
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