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
I am increasingly impressed by the amazing activists surrounding me supporting the BLM movement. As we have learned by the story of Kionte Spencer and others, Roanoke, Virginia is not immune to police brutality. We are complicit in many ways, and I know that I have not done my best to support the BLM movement until the death of George Floyd. I would occasionally share a BLM post on my story, but, throughout my adolescence, I should have done more.
Kids are impressionable and eager to learn. No child is born racist, but, one’s upbringing may shape them negatively in that regard. I think that North Cross teachers should utilize their platform as a means of discussing issues that may not be discussed in the home. We have many opportunities for discussion, such as activity periods, assemblies, and advisory lunches. In the lower division, ‘Raider Roundups’ and assemblies can be utilized as a means of discussing racial injustice.
North Cross is predominantly a school for the white and privileged. If we acknowledge that, we can start making changes. For example, this year, we really did not recognize Black History Month. In the past, we have had discussions on stage, or Mr. Hash has enlightened the student body. Dr. Proctor has not publicly acknowledged (as far as I know) that North Cross is a white flight school. Like the justice system and our city, we are complicit; but, as we all know, it is possible to progress.
As I am sure others have felt, this has been a time of education. Ever since the tragic death of George Floyd, I have made it my goal to educate myself about the injustices in society. Because North Cross is an educational institution, the school has the unique opportunity and power to transform students into civically engaged citizens. This is an important duty for our school. As of now, I am not sure that we are accomplishing this, but then again, did we know that we were supposed to be accomplishing something in this regard?
Here is my list of solutions for our institution:
-Instead of summer reading books such as The Princess Bride, make the division-wide book one that tackles a societal issue (ex. The New Jim Crow or Fly Away Home)
-Utilize assemblies and free periods for educational purposes, less for free study halls or recreational events. Show a documentary or movie!
-Diversify. Diversify. Our school administration is primarily white and male. We do not have a teacher of color in the Upper School anymore. This must change!
Chloe Hunt '21
May 3 was World Press Freedom Day. Now more than ever, it is important to recognize the integral role of journalists in our world. Journalists provide a ‘voice for the voiceless,’ and shed light on important events going on in the world. Journalists uncover the truth, and support democracy in the world.
Good journalism is vital to a society. Amid a culture of sensationalism and TV-driven news, we still see journalists in the world working to provide people with facts. Amid the constant berading from President Trump, journalists still prevail.
President Trump’s relations with the press are nearly comical. On March 20, famed reporter Peter Alexander asked Trump what his message was to Americans who are fearful of the virus. Rather than responding diplomatically and easing their fears, Trump replied, “I say that you’re a terrible reporter -- that’s what I say.” Throughout this pandemic, there have been countless examples of Trump lashing out at reporters. Here is an article with various examples.
I can acknowledge that some media sources are biased, such as CNN, which is paralleled by Fox News. Their viewers want to hear certain messages. One way in which this is apparent is how both sides are currently covering the sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. While CNN plays the clip of Joe Biden firmly denying the allegations, Fox News often plays videos of Biden stuttering, or relates this issue to how Democrats attacked Kavanaugh.
Journalists have the power to sway audiences, especially now. People are lost and confused, and extremely impressionable. It is a journalist’s duty to report facts, and not to mislead the public. The Willis Hall Herald operates on a tremendously smaller scale, but some of the principles that apply to leadings newspapers apply to us as well.
While North Cross undergoes tremendous changes in terms of the renovation, personnel, and more, it is important to strive to voice the truth, while supporting our truth with facts. Oftentimes, in a small school, facts can be detrimental, or even misleading. Which facts do we choose to report? We do not ever want to offend our institution, but how do we get people to read the paper? The balance is difficult, and often not reached correctly sometimes.
This article about the vitality of high school journalism deeply impressed me. Journalists are more likely to have higher GPAs and perform better on standardized tests. Students who took a journalism class in high school are more likely to have higher GPAs in college as well.
Journalism teaches everyday skills as well, some of which are mentioned in the article. These include communication, writing, photography, marketing, ethics, and many more. These skills are invaluable, and important to learn at a high school level. Likewise, journalism incorporates elements of the core classes. Any subject field is applicable to journalism.
Scholastic journalism unequivocally matters in the 21st century. Please support journalism at North Cross; despite our small scope compared to big newspapers, we keep freedom and democracy alive on our campus, and that is important enough.
Classic rock is not dead, it takes a '60s band to make sense of time during Coronavirus - by Chloe Hunt
I will always remember the first song I loved as a kid. It was Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones; now, this song is nostalgic for me. It reminds me of a blissful childhood, and every single time I hear the opening lead guitar, I cannot help but smile. I forced both of my parents to play this song on repeat in the car, at home and everywhere.
I often think about how the greatest of music is behind us. We still appreciate these legends and their contribution to society, but they are done producing music. Everybody knows that Ringo Starr’s solo career in the 2000s pales in comparison to his contributions to the Beatles, and it seems to be a universal truth that rock is dead. New rock does not have the same vibrancy and heartiness that the classics do.
That is what I thought wholeheartedly, until I heard the Rolling Stones’ new single, Living in a Ghost Town. This is their first original music since 2012, and I could not be more happy. Apparently the Stones began working on this single last year, but in light of Covid-19, they decided to polish it, and give it a new twist. In my opinion, this is their best new single. This song does not remind me of any past Stones album, but I love it. This single is bluesy, and it swings so beautifully, while retaining elements of a Rolling Stones song that we all love. The harmonica solos are especially unique, and one cannot help but listen to the song over and over again.
The lyrics are simplistic, but timely. Some lines really resonate with me, such as:
I’m going nowhere, shut up all alone / So much time to lose just staring at my phone
This is symbolic of how I feel during the day. Once I feel mentally exhausted after a day of online school, it is extremely difficult to muster up the strength to be productive. Instead, I pass a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through my phone.
preachers were a-preaching, charities beseeching, politicians dealing
This is what it feels like as well, and the Stones seem to encapsulate my anxiety. Every press briefing with the Trump administration hurts a little bit. When Trump continuously touts hydroxychloroquine amid overwhelming scientific evidence that says otherwise, it is difficult to be hopeful. It truly feels like we are living in a ghost town. I drove past Rivers Edge park the other day, and it was astonishingly empty. Then, I went to the grocery store to get some necessities for my mom. Aisles were empty, and the new system of living feels so apocalyptic.
What happened to civilization as we know it?
Here is one final lyric that sums up how we are feeling:
Life was so beautiful
Then we all got locked down
The Stones make the message clear, and it is simple. Before this lock down, we all took so much for granted. Life is beautiful and it goes by so quickly. It is important to appreciate what we have and embrace every moment, because now, we are living in a ghost town.
Chloe Hunt '21 (Editor-in-Chief)