It seems as if every pressing issue in society is reflected through this problematic, partisan schism that reaps consequences for all involved. As we see Black Lives Matter finally enter the limelight, Republicans emphasize the "burning and looting" of cities whereas Democrats, for the sake of simplicity, embrace defunding or abolishing the police.
I fall somewhere in the middle, leaning to the Democrats. It is not effective to bring up the "burning and looting" as an anti-BLM argument. After centuries of systemic racism including slavery (obviously), Jim Crow laws, redlining, police brutality, and the NEW Jim Crow, people are angry, rightfully. It does not help when the President tear gasses peaceful protestors for a photo, either. However, hard-fast slogans like "abolish the police" and "defund the police" are often misconstrued by the other side. For that reason, we should not be so quick to jump to catchy slogans; instead, it is much more important to focus on upstream solutions.
Defunding the police, in essence, is a great idea. Diverting funds in order to tackle crime prevention will be great in the long run, but caution is advised. "Defunding the police" looks like education equity and infrastructure. Instead of defund, let us use the world reallocate or fund diversion. When Republicans see the word abolish or defund, we will make no progress, and with an issue this important, we cannot afford that.
Throughout the school year, I know that I am not alone when experiencing FOMO. We see our friends gleefully hanging out, and if we are not there, for most, a feeling of isolation consumes us. Perhaps it is a question of: why was I not invited? Why did my parents not let me go out? Why do I have so much homework? Why did I say I didn’t want to go?
We all gravitate towards people in some respect. Whether you are an introvert and you recharge at home alone or an extrovert who thrives on social interaction, our lives are, in fact, grounded by the people around us.
If you stick to the notion that you are an introvert who is comfortable away from people, perhaps think about the time you spend on social media. In that sense, people are ever present in your life as you scroll through their profiles absentmindedly or check their stories on Snapchat.
Amid tragic deaths and fumbling leadership, there is a silver lining to the pandemic and our “new normal.” I, among others whom I have talked to, have discovered the comfort of isolation.
Last summer, if I was in town, I could not possibly imagine spending the day cooped up in my house. What would I do?! What about all my friends? Like most, I would seek out the sun or the water, or maybe just hang out with friends. A normal summer surely seems appetizing right about now, yet, I am much happier in my home than I have ever been.
By that, I mean that I have become much more resourceful, relaxed, and goal-oriented. Usually, if I spent more than half of the day at my house, that was a bad sign. Somehow, if I was at home during summer, I was doing something wrong. Now, though, I happily wake up, drink my coffee, and spend the day pursuing existing passions or finding new ones.
In regards to FOMO, I see lots of tantalizing Snapchat stories. Friends, classmates, and acquaintances from across the region are proactively flaunting their ability to hang out with large groups of people without any immediate repercussions. I, thankfully, have been advised by my parents not to do so, but now, I do not envy them. I do not envy them for a couple reasons. Obviously I do not want to get sick, but, secondly, I would rather be alone, at least for a little while.
I think that my friends and classmates would not be socializing if their parents did not allow it, and if they did not have FOMO. There are many ways to stay in touch with friends digitally, and perhaps it is not the same and as rebellious as going out at night, but, I do sincerely think that a lot of the mid-pandemic parties are rooted in one’s desire to not miss out.
None of us want to think of ourselves as excluded or missing out on something valuable. However, the seniors who thought they were going to be “missing out” ended up going to the beach as a large unit and contracting Covid-19. They did not just infect themselves, but they also wreaked havoc on the others’ lives.
At this time, I urge my fellow students to not succumb to this pervasive idea of FOMO. We will see our friends either in the classroom or on Zoom soon enough, and as this virus spreads, the FOMO-driven socialization is contributing to your complicity throughout the pandemic.
Chloe Hunt '21
As a member of the tennis team and a rising senior, I can dream about senior night and playing some of my last matches with my teammates, but, unlike many others, I do not want to have a season this year.
Recently, I received an email from Coach Bagliani. It basically said that unless the VISAA changes their guidelines, our tennis season will still be happening. I assume that my fellow teammates are ecstatic about these news, and normally I would be too, but it seems irresponsible to continue sports right now.
Essentially, tennis is a low-risk sport. There is no contact during play, but, a full-fledged sports season entails lots of contact.
-Practices (drills in which we stand next to each other, run as a pack, share balls, etc.)
-Matches (spectators, team members all sitting together)
It would be understandable if our tennis season was just confined to match play or we only had our top eight players, but in the midst of a pandemic, I do not think this is necessarily a priority.
Do not get me wrong. I love tennis and cherish the time that I spend with my team, but at the same time, it seems as if we are moving a little too fast with fall sports.
As a country, we have been disproportionately affected by the virus in part due to leadership, but also citizens who believe a mask is an infringement upon their liberties. This ideology is not just ill-informed, but also detrimental. In our school bubble, we have many ignorant community members that have either politicized a mask or simply believe that it is ineffective. I do not want to be playing tennis with somebody whose mom or dad does not wear a mask to the grocery store or who I am completely aware is not social distancing on the weekends.
It is not like we will just be confined to the germs of our classmates either. For example, if we go to another school and use their bathrooms or locker rooms, who is to say that one of the girls who has been in there is not an asymptomatic carrier, and we may be sharing surfaces and inadvertently touching our faces?
That example may seem extreme, but in essence, that is how the virus is transmitted.
Though match play is low-contact, we must look at what has happened across the world. For example, in South Korea, when one fitness instructor hosted a dance session, the virus was spread across 112 people, 12 facilities, and over 124 miles in just 14 days.
So, as a two-season sports player, I am strongly urging North Cross and other schools to cancel sports until the virus has calmed in the United States or we have successfully developed a vaccine. This is one way that we can stop the spread.
International students enhance campus life; Trump Administration making pernicious decisions that express no regard for multiculturalism or diversity
One of the reasons that I love our community at North Cross is because of our thriving international program. Students flock from across the world to attend school in Roanoke, Virginia! This is incredible and often undervalued.
Freshman year, I had the opportunity to play tennis and take classes with Summer Zhang. Oftentimes, we would grab food downtown on the weekends or FaceTime and study for Human Geo. Through our friendship, I learned more about life in China, and she encouraged me to begin studying Mandarin. I have also had the opportunity to run track with Euan Spikers, an Australian student who loved sharing aspects of his culture.
Last summer, I counseled camps for Chinese students who got a taste of American life. While they experienced what our Virginian world was like through cultural activities, I got a better glimpse into Chinese life. We made dumplings, played ping-pong, got ice cream, hiked, and so much more.
I also made some great friends this past year as Tammie and Hannah came to the States from Vietnam. I got to hear Tammie sing as Olivia Murchison '21 played guitar downtown in the dorms. I also found out much more about Vietnamese culture through a presentation during the school year.
This is not to boast about these internationalist experiences, but rather to say that North Cross's commitment to education is not limited to Roanoke. Our international scope is what I treasure. If I had not met people from around the world, I would not be the same person. I doubt that I would have the same passion that I do for global studies, and I do not think that I would have delved into journalism, linguistics, or Model UN either.
Trump's newest policies, though seemingly just pertinent to colleges and universities across the country, will have real implications even on our campus. Fortunately, since we are offering in-person instruction, students from across the globe can partake in classes in some capacity. However, it will not be the same at all since international students (if participating in distance learning) cannot play sports, perform in musicals, or embrace extracurricular life.
I sincerely hope that we will be able to invite all of our international students back to campus this fall. After all, without their presence, NCS is predominately white and American. I loved how learning at NCS was not just confined to the classroom, but also personal exchanges with students from across the globe.
On the subject of SEVP's statement on nonimmigrant students taking online courses in Fall 2020 semester: Is it a fair decision?
By Kevin Dinh
Recently, the ICE has released a new statement detailing the eligibility of nonimmigrant students' stay in the United States based on online classes. This statement has caused a massive outburst of controversy regarding its seemingly dubious moral nature.
The controversial statement entails sudden changes in the state of nonimmigrant students' visas. Students with F-1 and M-1 whose schools only offer online courses are faced with the most substantial consequence as their status as students no longer become effective. The statement only provides the students with two alternatives: to either change schools or return to their home country. If students do not comply with the report, they will have to face deportation. The only way for nonimmigrant students to remain in the same school is if the individual schools offer either in-person or hybrid (a mixture of in-person and online) classes. Any other alternative and students will be forced to vacate either from the school or the country. This statement essentially puts a little over 1 million international students at risk of deportation and a myriad of health risks during said processes.
Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States
The outrage behind the nature of the statement makes complete sense as many students' education, as well as their status as nonimmigrant students, are suddenly in jeopardy out of the blue, rendering students under the complete mercy of their schools. What makes the statement seems worse in its moral nature is its timing. The COVID-19 pandemic is still roaming free in the United States. Many states are still going under a massive quarantine period, putting not only the students' status at risk but also their health as they would have to face many dangers upon returning to their home country. All aspects make for a compelling argument that ICE is deliberately putting students' futures and lives at risk, hence the outrage. Not only students but also parents, and multiple schools and universities, are entirely opposed to ICE's statement, including our own. Nicki Dabney - North Cross' Director of International Operations - in a recent email sent to the international body expressed great disappointment in reply to the new Visa Regulations, but she also reassured the students about their status as students of North Cross.
Although I am very disheartened that the U.S. government is implementing this policy, please know that this does not affect your status as a student at North Cross School.
The ICE's statement is even more questionable because it seems to mandate students to resume in-person classes. It seems almost comical and equally concerning that they also mandate such things regarding the pandemic, which is only getting worse day by day. They mandate the students to go to classes in person and potentially exposing them to the virus, which would cause even more cases even with necessary precautions. Some of the reasons for this decision might be that a typical studying environment is better than online learning settings and that it would be easier to monitor the student body's health via constant testing and precautions like masks and hand sanitizer. But the effectiveness of a typical environment compared to distance learning is already dubious. It is up to the individual students to determine which style of learning fits them more, whether they like it or not. The in-person learning model in the middle of a pandemic seems like a waste of resources because the effectiveness between distance learning and traditional school settings can hardly be compared.
There has been a lack of clarity from the ICE regarding their decisions, but it seems that their reason traces back long before COVID-19, and quarantine became an issue. In an article written in 2012, the ICE has stated that F-1 students "may only count one online or distance education course without the physical oversight of a school employee (or the equivalent of three credits) toward a full course of study per academic term. But this would make even less sense because the world is experiencing a pandemic that forced many people to stay home. If this is the ground that the ICE is basing on to determine a student's eligibility, does that not make them appear ruthless and unsympathetic for the students' situation? It would make the ICE even more unreasonable for sandwiching even more problems on the students' back, of which they have already dealt more than enough with due to the pandemic.
As a part of this international student community, I feel grateful for my school for offering online courses for those already in their home countries and an in-person model cope with this new change, but I also feel a great disdain behind the decision behind ICE's latest statement. I am also glad that so many people are standing up to fight against an unfair change that essentially throws house-sized wrenches in multiple students' future and career prospects. Hopefully, some form of changes can be made against the injustices that this statement had wrought upon many students.
If all goes well, we should be back on campus (in some capacity) in the fall. With that said, it must be acknowledged that activity periods, assemblies, and events held in the auditorium are not going to look the same. How would it be possible to put the entire high school and NCS community in an auditorium while all students enjoy their widespread social circles outside of school?
If the NCS schedule is not altered due to Covid-19, we have an hour and a half reserved every Thursday for activity period. As we all know, typically this involves a speaker or some special event in the auditorium. I suggest, instead, that we use this time for small groups and education.
The student body has a breadth of interests that are not confined to the classes offered at NCS. Similarly, the teachers have a wide range of expertise which they do not have the ability to show during class time. For example, does everyone know about Dr. Koss's skills in Spanish and philosophic intelligence? What about Mr. Lamas' background in journalism?
Through activity periods, we have the unique opportunity to dive into our instructors' academic interests. Instead of putting 200 students into the auditorium, why not, maybe once a month, offer mini-master classes from teachers? Mrs. Jones could host a play read for theatre students, and coding club members could work some problems.
I understand that students are involved in a multitude of activities, so this may force students to choose one "class" to go to. For that reason, maybe teachers could divide up weeks so that each teacher has the opportunity to take a break and perhaps just listen rather than leading the activity period group.
This is a really fresh suggestion that I have not fleshed out whatsoever, but I think that this could be a fun way to learn if we cannot bring in speakers or gather in the auditorium like normal.
Ahh! Another celebrity enters the political race! How fun.
A vote for Kanye West is a vote for Donald Trump, and I stand by that. A third party candidate will merely divide the Democratic, youthful prospective voters and prevent a Biden win. We cannot let that happen. This election is too important. The stakes are so, so high.
It is 2020, which means that it is time to tackle issues that are going to be pertinent as we head into the next century. Climate change, economic inequality, technology, poverty, et cetera. I do not want four more years in which mainstream news is flooded with our President's erratic tweets. I, like many others, want four years of purposeful progress, in which our leader tactfully makes decisions based on data and history, rather than decisions made capriciously and without regard for humanity.
Admittedly, Biden is flawed. He is not a perfect candidate, but everyone has skeletons in the closet right? At some point, we have to settle for the candidate who will do the best job. Biden is somebody who was recently in the White House. He is a somebody with a commitment to diversity in his cabinet, and somebody who is open to reinvention and new ideas.
Kanye West is NOT that candidate for eager, young voters. Why? He is an unstable, self-proclaimed genius who has no business leading the country. Do we really want him to have our nuclear launch codes? Somebody who claimed slavery was a "choice"?
Right now, amid a pandemic and impending internal doom, we need somebody to unify us. Biden, albeit that he has his fallacies, is a believer in bipartisanship and unity. Trump's presidency screams division, and Kanye, new to politics and missing all of the experience traditionally required, would continue that pattern.
Politics should not be a game of settling, and I think we can all agree that Biden is not perfect, but, nevertheless, I think he has the experience required and the adaptability to be successful. A win for Trump in November means four more years of nail-biting international relations, growing economic inequality, a dying planet, and much more. For all of the seniors who are voting this November, please be sensible, and instead of happily flaunting a 'MAGA' hat, think about the implications of Trump's actions. And, please, please, do not vote for Kanye.
Willis Hall Herald
Gracean Ratliff '23