Cancelled SATs. Pass/incomplete grades. Disrupted extracurriculars. Changes in financial aid status. Interviews moving online. This year’s college admissions have been thrown into uncharted territory because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both students and colleges are navigating a new process, marked by a lack of in-person resources. From testing to financial aid, this year is different, and some students are unsure of how to handle it.
Ever since the COVID-19 began in China in December 2019, humanity has scrambled to find ways to treat the disease. When a novel disease emerges, treatment often comes in three steps: life support, anti-virals, and vaccines.
Carrying plastic bags filled to the brim with groceries, a teen volunteer dons protective equipment to drop off groceries at the front door of a neighbor’s house. As a member of “Teens Helping Seniors,” the volunteer is delivering groceries and other essentials to the homes of the elderly and immunocompromised.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers across the globe have shuttered themselves in their homes, making only occasional public appearances to shop for groceries or go for a socially distanced jog. Once-bustling city streets and storefronts are hauntingly empty. Unemployment levels have skyrocketed with unprecedented speed and magnitude. Hundreds of thousands of beloved small businesses have shut their doors, some temporarily in accordance with government orders, but many for good.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital visits are bringing greater and greater inherent risks, leaving many pregnant women searching for alternative places to give birth. As a result, many midwives are seeing an increase in clients looking to give birth at home or in birthing centers. According to the National Institute of Health, in the US, only about one percent of babies are born at home, but some prenatal care workers and experts predict that COVID-19 encouraging women to deliver outside of the hospital might cause a spike in the percentage this year.
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.
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