Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources. The conversation was private enough: Mike, a sophomore, casually told a friend that he wasn't supposed to be at the school. The secret should have stopped there. But Mike looked up and saw a teacher walking by. He had overheard. In a flash, all of it – the addresses forged, the documents fabricated, the boundaries crossed – threatened to fall apart. The fear of discovery flickered through Mike's mind, but the teacher's next words erased it: "Don't tell the whole school,” he said, and continued down Blair Boulevard.
Junior Jenny Nguyen's summer trip to Vietnam in sixth grade seemed like an unlikely place to discover a new passion. Agreeing to model in a hair show at her brother's workplace, she was whisked away to hair and makeup and soon found herself confidently strutting down a runway.
Blair is many things, but wild it is not. Its wilderness is limited to the swamp behind the athletic fields and Blair Boulevard between fifth and sixth periods. So for junior Connor Siegel, spending last semester on two-square-mile campus abutting a national forest and encompassing eight different lakes was quite a change.
Sophomores Leah Hammond and Allison Whitney had a major task at hand: cupcakes. The job was, simply, to bake and decorate them, but there was a catch. It wasn't just a couple cupcakes, or a dozen, or even a couple dozen - it was 300.
Senior Danny Catacora glides across the dance floor. He dips his partner, spins and maintains his graceful poise as he dances around the studio. His body moves to the music, staying directly on the beat. His partner's body spins in and out of his steady arms. Later, after the hour-long drive home from the Baltimore dance studio, math and science replaces ballroom music as Catacora delves into his homework.
This is a battle like no other. Javelins soar over the slowly setting sun. Swords bash past shields and fell enemies. Shouted orders, the scratching of feet on dry grass, and muffled thuds permeate the ambient hum of the Interstate. Eventually, an armistice is called. "Five minute water break, guys!" shouts one. Weapons made of Plexiglas, foam and tube socks hit the ground. The fighters sit in a circle and take turns proposing new drill ideas, joking and laughing. This is Dagorhir.
Scrat is everything a 14-year-old girl might want to be. She's positive and understanding, always listening patiently to others' problems. Scrat always knows the right things to say at the right time. In a sense, she is perfect - except that Scrat isn't exactly human. She is the alternate online personality of freshman Tammy Sidel.
The light darkens in the auditorium as students and teachers gather to watch their everyday lives projected on the screen. Teachers recognize the difficult job of teaching in a system focused on testing. Students recognize the stress of their common goal: admission into top colleges and an assurance of a successful life ahead.
It's a bevy of hugs, handshakes and high spirits during lunchtime in math teacher Jacob Scott's room. The room is buzzing as kids clamor over one another to talk to Scott. Unconstrained by class work or lesson plans, Scott and his students discuss anything from world news to students' personal lives, while still finding time discuss the material that will be on the quiz next week.
Soccer could be considered the ultimate team sport: Players pass and defend each other to work toward a common "goal.” In a sport that relies on group identity, two dynamic Blair players set themselves apart from the pack. After a stellar season for the Lady Blazers, senior Sofia Read and junior Jamie Kator kicked their way onto the highly competitive All-State Soccer team.
Junior Larissa Sofia Taaga attended the school in her hometown of Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, but she knew that no degree, no certificate and no qualification would secure her a bright future. Without the government connections needed to secure a job, Taaga saw few opportunities in her home country.
In a classroom tucked away on the second floor, a handful of students gather, leaning on desks and lounging on chairs. They sit at ease, joking and chatting, completely relaxed — a mood that befits the atmosphere of the room. The walls of the room are hung with posters about human rights, equality and tolerance. One features several figures in rainbow neon colors, bearing the legend "Generation Q: Young, Proud, Queer." This room, where the people are friendly and open to all comers, is the meeting room of Blair's Gay-Straight Alliance, or GSA.
It's noon on a Saturday, and cars are streaming into the back parking lot of a boxy brick building on the corner of Piney Branch Road and University Boulevard. Families get off the Ride On bus that stops directly outside and move toward the building's back entrance, where a dark purple awning that reads "Mega Supermarket” covers a long line of shopping carts. Inside a purple booth under the awning, a woman bundled in winter clothing sells food: tamales, taquitos, pan con gallina. A few feet away, families get Christmas photos taken under a crowded white tent. Shoppers bustle up the steps, past a large bulletin board and a giant, bright yellow advertisement for Del Frutal juice. From just outside the doors, the shoppers can hear the twang of guitar music and Spanish vocals.
Freshman Bronwen Tursman breathes deeply, eyes intent on the screen in front of her. With every inhale and exhale she takes, her character in the video game takes another step through the fantastical world on screen. But this is no game - it's an alternative therapy Tursman uses to manage the illness that leaves her in constant pain.
At fourteen years old, freshman Victor Adamson is small and slight. He isn't built like a linebacker, but he has exceptional athletic talent. As a star freshman golfer on Blair's golf team, Victor shows that his size and age are no shortcomings for his gift - an inherent talent and potential for golf.
A sofa or bedside table can easily be taken for granted. But at A Wider Circle, a non-profit organization in Bethesda, furniture has the power to change lives - including the lives of Blair students.
Adults everywhere bemoan the apathy and laziness of the new teenage generation. Cries of "When I was your age" call attention to apparent ignorance in teens, especially where current events are concerned. This opinion was quashed somewhat when Obama's 2008 campaign revitalized and motivated young people, using more student volunteers than any election ever before and bringing back issues that pertain to students. But according to the PEW research center, the number of young Americans that are deeply invested in politics is dwindling. But although this generalization rings true for many high school students today, it's certainly not the case with all of them.
Principal Darryl Williams spent the 90 minutes of fifth and sixth period away from his desk. He wasn't in meetings, he hadn't taken a trip to Central Office, and he wasn't patrolling the halls. Instead, he was sitting in the senior courtyard, conversing with the dozen or so students who filled the tables around him. Their topic of conversation was new attendance policy.
On a typical Friday night, while most teenagers relax at home or go out with friends, senior Amir Gorjifard finds himself waiting for a signal. It will come at any time in the night. As soon as he hears it, Gorjifard must respond immediately. As soon as he hears it, he knows someone is calling for help. As soon as he hears it, the race against time begins.
Senior Samantha Boyd sits in class, waiting to receive her grade on an assignment. Instead of returning an essay or worksheet, Boyd's teacher hands her a design board. Boyd's assignment is an interior design scheme that she will pitch to a client who has recently purchased a home. However, this isn't just an academic exercise - Boyd's design will actually be used to design bedrooms for the client's children. To many Blazers, doing such an activity for school seems like a far-fetched fantasy; but to others, hands-on assignments like this one are just a regular school day occurrence.
As junior Nathan Foley walks onstage, he enters a historic space. The same stage has hosted performances from artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, The Strokes and Jay-Z in the early years of their careers. This night, Foley competes against a group of mostly adult artists and eventually joins the ranks of the many successful performers who have won the Apollo Theater's Amateur Night competition.
Lady Gaga walks into the inferno of a Bikram yoga studio on Capitol Hill Sept. 8, a day after her concert at the Verizon Center. Compared to the Bikram fashion of sports bras and running shorts, her blazer and plastic bob may have been a bit flashy for the occasion. The other eight students took little notice, however - they were too busy practicing the grueling positions, sweat pouring down their faces. Bikram is to yoga as Lady Gaga is to the music business: it's more intense, way hotter and recently, really catching on.
Senior Ian Anderson coasts his skateboard down Fenton Street in Downtown Silver Spring (DTSS), scraping his wheels against the sidewalk just feet away from the new Veterans' Plaza. A police officer calls out to him as he rolls by. "Get off your board!” he shouts. "Don't get back on, or you're walking the [expletive] home.”
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