Here is our weekly roundup of news from various student newspapers in Maryland.
Student voices in student news
Voxitatis is a rather new medium for the dissemination of news and information, having only been in Maryland since 2007. But extending the voice of students to new or wider audiences has been a feature of newspapers for a long time, as reported in The Eye of the Bluebird, the student news site of Kenwood High School in Essex.
There’s been plenty to write about this past week. Across the nation, we found the single topic that was most written about in student newspapers to be the debate Tuesday between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. National and local media outlets characterized the debate as “chaos,” but Maryland Gov Larry Hogan characterized it as a “train wreck”: “It was just out of control. I could barely watch it. It’s what I’ve tried to avoid the past six years, the kind of divisive, lack of civility. I mean, it was just a mess,” WJEZ-TV (CBS affiliate, Baltimore) quoted him as saying.
At Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin, Brittyn Leonard would surely agree with the governor, based on her op-ed titled “Worst Debate in History?” “As Biden went on to call Trump names like ‘clown’ and ‘the worst president,’ it showed how unprofessional he was about the debate,” she wrote about the former vice president; Mr Trump, she wrote, “would often interrupt Biden and triggered media backlash for his performance.”
So people agree: name-calling and shouting over each other doesn’t accomplish much. Then what should presidential debates be about? Aya Hesham at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda says she has a few ideas about that. First on her list is climate change, while racial inequity and police reform come second, followed by human and women’s rights. “This presidential election will lay out the foundation of how the country will run for the next four years,” she writes in The Pitch.
Aya’s fellow reporter at Walter Johnson, Danis Cammett, reports about students at the school who have taken to the streets to demand change on issues that are important to them. “The [Black Lives Matter] movement is a monumental point in our history,” he quotes one student activist as saying. It “isn’t something that just came up out of nowhere, it wasn’t developed nor started by the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. It is a movement that has been fought for since the death of Emmitt Till in the 1950s.”
In Rockville, Emily Pham and Lyric Spray report from Richard Montgomery High School, telling how the principal there, Damon Monteleone, created five anti-racist workgroups with the goal of promoting an anti-racist culture. “The support system is going to be the most important part of this policy so people know they are being heard,” one sophomore is quoted as saying about the groups. “The administration of our school depicts our life in the future and suspending or expelling black students isn’t helping. I like how RM cares more about the students than other schools do.”
Rising women in politics
Focusing on a few women who spoke for the Democratic National Convention last month, writer Lily Ismay calls their words inspirational. “With the culmination of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, we saw and heard several women with very powerful words who need more recognition,” she writes in The Gateway student newspaper. The women cited were Michelle Obama, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat.
School in the time of the pandemic
Questions about how to return to school have been troubling students, parents, teachers, and administrators since March. Even governors wrestle with the benefits of in-person instruction. But resurgences of Covid-19 continue across the country, leading to caution. E-learning has its own problems, though. At Oakdale High School in Ijamsville, more than 80 percent of students who responded to an unscientific Instagram poll “faced some sort of issue in the first week of school,” reports Rhiannon Evans in The Oakdale Post. More than two-thirds said they would prefer to be back in school.
Hybrid schedules, where students are in school on some days and work remotely on others, has become a familiar concept during the pandemic—for both students and staff. The new principal at Linganore High School in Frederick, Cindy Hanlon, projects a happy disposition despite the new challenges. She told reporters Ashlyn Martin and Caroline Hobson in The Lance, “It’s challenging to get to meet you all and get to know you better while class is virtual. I love popping into your classes and seeing everyone’s faces, hearing you interact with teachers. That makes my heart very happy.” Her basic approach to her role at a new school comes from one of her doctoral professors:
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
“This is my elephant,” she told the paper, holding up a small elephant statue. “He sits on my desk here at school. I collect them. His little trunk is up because trunks that are up catch all the good luck. When something looks like it’s a lot and you just feel like you can’t get it done, you have to keep telling yourself, one bite at a time.”
Arts, sports, and other enrichment
Aside from illness and death, one of the most devastating aspects of the pandemic has been the loss of artistic performances in school. For example, students at Urbana High School were all set to put on the musical The Little Mermaid last spring. Students had poured their hearts into the production, said Stephen Ward, theater teacher at the school in Ijamsville. But now, the school is taking the pandemic as a challenge and rising to it by putting on a radio version of It’s a Wonderful Life this winter. Students “have missed it. They deserve it,” he was quoted as saying by Talon Cruz, in The Hawk Eye. “Much like athletes, performing kids want to get back to some sense of normalcy as much as anyone else. … The arts and theater always find a way.”
Speaking of athletes, they too have adapted their routines to a new normal at Thomas S Wootton high School in Potomac, especially if they are mostly involved in sports where they’re in close proximity to other athletes. “With most gyms closed, athletes have started to workout in their own homes,” writes James Walsh in Wootton’s Common Sense. “Not everyone has weights, so the majority can only train bodyweight exercises such as pushups, situps and pullups,” he says, showing how a handful of student-athletes have adapted their workouts to stay in shape.
The pandemic hasn’t only caused athletes to modify their ways; museums have developed virtual tours, which is great for students who don’t live close to, say, the British Museum in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, or the Ingenium in Canada. Not all of the viewing options or exhibits are as interesting as others—one features “a rather dry blog post on dust,” for example, writes Gabi Simon in The Lion’s Tale at Charles E Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville—and “one of the greatest collections of historical artifacts in the world seem like an antique shop full of broken and uninteresting objects.” But if you look hard enough, get ready for “a wide variety of expertly presented activities and exhibits for everyone.”
What to do when you encounter a bear
Finally, black bears are not uncommon in many Maryland neighborhoods, including those around Myersville, where one put a woman in the hospital with scrathes and bites on September 21. Spencer Moazed in The Round Table student magazine at Middletown High School has some advice for the occasional encounter with a black bear. “You make sure you don’t freak out, that’s for sure,” one Middletown student is quoted as saying. He said bird feeders were primarily what was bringing the bears to his house earlier this year. “Of course, then you don’t get birds coming to your house, but it’s a tradeoff you have to make.”