Sitting day after day through her eighth grade French class, sophomore Sally Barth, like many foreign language students, found herself in a continuous state of confusion. As time ticked by slowly each class, Barth struggled to speak and understand a language which at times seemed no more than gibberish. But instead of continuing to slip, Barth took her foreign language education into her own hands. She got a pen pal.
For many Blazers, receiving a vaccine or a shot offers a permanent peace of mind. For sophomore Yesli Leon, receiving the swine flu vaccine in late 2009 meant only a temporary respite from worry.
A Christmas tree standing in front of the City Hall in Copenhagen twinkles with thousands of bright, white lights - but the energy powering them is purely green. Every day, a different Danish politician spends half an hour on an exercise bike connected to the tree to provide the mechanical energy to illuminate the tree and light up the city with an enchanting glow.
It's somewhere between a sport and a dance form, a means of expression and a medium for competition, a source of pride and a lesson in self-discipline. A dance form that originated in the United States, stepping brings the members of the Lady Blazers, Blair's step team, together as artists, teammates and, most importantly, as family.
Late afternoon, on Jan. 12, junior Ruben Dumay's sister delivered a shocking piece of news to him: An earthquake had struck Haiti, their home country. Her tone of voice lulled him into disbelief. The cries on television and photos on the Internet soon revealed a new reality, though: The earthquake had been a lethal, 7.0-magnitude catastrophe. Dumay wasn't sure what to feel. He trudged to school the next day, but when he returned home, he dammed the flood of media around him – television darkened, computer powered off – and collapsed into bed without speaking to anyone.
The little building is filled with surprises. Single-storied, white with a red awning, from the outside it looks like it could be a warehouse, or maybe a simple store. But its well-lit, bustling interior is filled with wheelchairs, walkers - and dogs. In the foyer, a man laughs as a dog says goodbye to him through licks and tail wags. In the main room, a train of people in wheelchairs and scooters lead their dogs in a circle around the floor. In a side room, a woman with a walker speaks to a group of teenagers about why she loves her dog so much.
For most Blazers, the Blair weight room serves as a place to work out and build up strength. Kevin uses it to work up a mental sweat. After finishing a set of weights, he joins his friends, takes two dice from his pocket and rolls them with a flick of the wrist. The red dice spin around the floor as if in slow motion, teeter precariously and land with a four and three showing. He beams as he takes $10 from his friend's outstretched hand and picks up the weights for another set.
When the whole family is around, freshman Beemnet Kebede, her parents and her brother all sit down around a communal tray and eat dinner together. This nightly ritual has always been a way to express love and to communicate. After all, not much has changed about her family dinners in all the years her family has been eating together, except their location.
Senior Brittany Reyes knows tonight is going to be a good night. She comes home from school and does her homework for the next day. A few of her friends come over, but instead of bidding them goodbye at the end of the afternoon, Reyes heads out with her group. Together, they plunge into a world of singing, dancing and music - the Washington, D.C., concert scene.
Her eyes are glued to a small hollow ball as it shoots towards her. She engages in a back-and-forth rally with her opponent, returning his hits with a strong and carefully planned-out swing. This arduous match between senior Janice Lan and her coach is one of precision, timing and intense concentration.
One finger reaches out to press against the black outline of the map. "This is where I grew up," junior Zohra Khan says, pointing to a space just inside the Pakistan border. "This is where I spent 15 years."
Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources. Reality TV shows like "My Super Sweet Sixteen" or "NYC Prep" reinforce the typical stereotype of rich teenagers, giving the impression that affluence means having money and flaunting it. But these shows, despite being advertised as "reality", do not portray the average lives of affluent teens in Silver Spring.
As computers have become an integral part of modern life, so have computer troubles. When trying to meet a deadline or praying to finish work during the wee hours of the morning to get some sleep, computer malfunctions can produce screams of frustration. Unfortunately, banging on the side of the computer or repeatedly clicking the "cancel" button just doesn't do the trick. Students in Blair's Cisco Academy, however, have learned to resolve computer problems without these angry outbursts.
Click. Kae Denning-Evans turns on the tape recorder. It starts rolling and the student begins her lines and the session begins. Then, another click. The tape stops. The student replays the tape, listening carefully for any mistakes in his or her speech. Denning-Evans makes sure the student finds his or her mistakes and corrects them. No, Denning-Evans is not leading a play rehearsal — she is conducting a speech pathology session.
They suddenly begin to laugh at themselves around the table. It's junior Sree Sinha's birthday, and her family is dining out in celebration. Though the meal is a common tradition, the Sinhas feel a bit ridiculous sitting in an upscale restaurant. "Why are we doing this?" her parents ask one another. "Neither of us has a job." But the moment of questioning passes, and the festivities continue.
The halls of Blair are dark and an eerie stillness has replaced the hustle and bustle that filled them during the school day. But the school is not completely empty. Amid the silence, his phone vibrates in his pocket as he glances at the clock. It's 9:00 pm, and he has been at school for approximately 15 hours. He flips open his phone to hear a fellow math teacher, William Rose, instantly ask "Hey Giles, are you still here, too?" John Giles smiles before saying yes, knowing he is not the only teacher at Blair who keeps unconventional hours.
The drum line begins to tap, the trumpets herald and the flutes begin to softly blow. As the marching band struts across the field, four Blazers in glittering red costumes follow, twirling their flags and stepping to the beat. Halfway across the stadium, they pause, pivot toward the audience and transition into a new routine of bright red whirls.
Almost five years ago, sophomore Eni Bajrami left her childhood home in Greece and journeyed with her family overseas to a country she had only heard of in stories - the U.S. Like any immigrant, Bajrami had some initial anxiety about starting a new life in a completely foreign land. She knew nothing about what the future would hold for the prosperity of herself and her family.
Everyone knows the stereotypes of farmers markets: aging hippies, obscure organic fruit, hybrid cars and Free Tibet tee-shirts. But as more mainstream people, including teenagers, have been drawn into the local eating movement, farmers markets are not just for the elderly anymore.
The riddle goes that a boy and his father are injured in a car accident and immediately rushed to the hospital. When the boy is sent to surgery, the surgeon says, "I can't do the operation; this is my son." The "trick:" the surgeon is the boy's mother.
It was the ultimate teenage experience. He and other members of the jock crowd strutted Blair's halls. He drove the cheerleaders around after his baseball and football games. He was a senior, and he felt unstoppable. After all, Pete Luces' 1976 AMC Matador was not just a car – it was freedom.
Blazers in search of entertainment in Washington, D.C., can be tempted to stick to the old standbys: touring museums, strolling down the mall or exploring Chinatown. Most don't even consider attending the theater. Why bother getting lost in complicated plotlines or sitting through two hours of dialogue? But there's no need to fear.
Framed by the gleaming walls of Strathmore's reception hall, the scene could have been lifted from an upscale country club: Blair alumni, dressed to the nines in tailored suits and dresses stand in clumps, chatting over drinks and twirling on the dance floor to old hits like "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry. But immersed in conversation with old friends and classmates, the former Blazers hardly seem to notice their elegant surroundings.
In the gym of Silver Spring International Middle School, formerly Montgomery Blair High School, Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" played in the background and former Blazers strolled about, covered head to toe in red and white.
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