February Digital Magazine








The purpose of art, as told by Tyler Chapman

(above), Oakton’s award-winning photographer.

The official newsmagazine

of Oakton High School. Find

more inside.

courtesy of tyler chapman

rightmost picture courtesy of dereck mccleskey


courtesy of demand justice

The Oakton Outlook is the

official school newsmagazine

of Oakton High School.

Page 4-5




The impacts of Trump’s

decision to kill Gen.

Soleimnai, as told be Iranian-American


Page 6-7



Virginia considers a

new bill to curb student

censorship, covered by

Linsday Greenspan and

Eileen Lincoln.

Page 13




Oakton’s nationally-ranked

dance team won big in

Florida, covered by Payton


Page 18-19




How Senior athletes are

remembering their time on

Oakton sports teams, as

told by Joe Wong.

courtesy of anderson wozny

Page 23




Is there space for conservative

political perspectives

at Oakton? Jacob Rutsick



Page 35



Sahithi Jammuladaka and

Olivia Garrone investigate

stress culture at Oakton and

its impact on students and


check us out online:

website: oaktonoutlook.com

Instagram & Twitter:


Page 40




Find your teacher alter ego in

Zoe Siamon’s piece.

Dear Oakton,

We can’t wait to share the latest issue of the Oakton

Outlook. This month, we investigated a number of issues

within the Oakton community, from self-censorship

among politically-Conservative students (Page 23) to the

role of AVID in helping students prepare for college (Page

33). We also zoomed out, looking at the rise of depression

among Generation Z as a phenomenon (Page 38) and the

fall of Japanese music in America (Page 44).

For some, February is a month for new beginnings. As

we welcome the third quarter, we worked hard to highlight

issues students are facing today. What is the role of

stress culture in influencing students to take AP classes?

Sahithi and Olivia look for answers on pages 30-31. But for

some Seniors, February is a month with one of many final

endings. How are Senior athletes reacting to the end of

their last Fall season? Joe investigates on pages 18 and 19.

This month, the Editorial Board chose to investigate the

impacts of President Trump’s decision to kill Gen. Soleimani,

a choice that, by some, was considered to be an act of

war. Resultingly, we chose to highlight the perspectives of

Iranian-Americans on the decision. Read their perspectives

on the next two pages.

As always, we hope to create a paper that accurately

and inclusively reflects the opinions of Oakton’s diverse

student culture. Is there a story you think we missed? We

are always accepting submissions of political cartoons,

artwork, photographs, and original writing through our

website, oaktonoutlook.com. Have a great February, we’ll

catch you next issue.


Emily Bach

Sahithi Jammuladaka

Ashleigh Tain

illustration by Daniela Reyes



Tensions between Iran and the United States seem to

have boiled to a head in recent years - if not weeks.

However, tracing the animosity between the two

countries requires a plunge deep into history in the twentieth

century. In 1979, Iran was on the brink of a revolution.

Decades of sociopolitical repression and human rights

abuses culminated in opposition to the US-backed Reza

Shah Pahlavi’s regime. The Iranian people toppled the

monarchy in a popular uprising, and the Shah went down

with it. Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini arose from the

aftermath nand established the Islamic Republic. During


the Revolution, Iranian protestors seized the US embassy

and held Americans hostage for 444 days, increasing tensions

dramatically. Iran finally freed the hostages in 1981,

the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. Most

recently, President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike to

assassinate Major General Qasem, citing the general’s plans

to attack American diplomats. In retaliation, Iran launched

a missile attack against American military bases in Iraq, to

which the United States responded with increased sanctions.

The two countries are engaged in a delicate balancing

game - and Iranian-Americans are caught in the middle.

If I were President Trump...


My mom and her family grew up in Iran, and she moved to the US in 1983 when she

was nine. Most of her family moved with them as well, but my grandfather still has

some extended family that lives in Iran.

I think that while Suleimani was not a good person and deserved consequences to his

actions, assassinating him before trying to meet with him was a quick action to take, and

I feel as though there were more constructive ways the Trump administration could have

handled the issue.

Freed from the Iranian government?


My parents escaped the revolution. My dad escaped the revolution just in time; my mom lived through it. Once it was

over, my dad and my mom came to America as immigrants, making me a first-gen immigrant. I didn’t live there; I was

born here, but I’ve only visited twice. Mostly - as I’ve gotten older - it’s because of social and political pressure that I

don’t return.

As soon as [my family] heard that Iran retaliated when the missiles were sent into Iraq, my mom was freaking out; she was in

shock. The phone lines [to Iran] were very busy because we kept trying to call family to see if everything was okay. Everyone

was trying to call so it was difficult getting in touch with them...It’s not only dangerous to talk about it here but also in Iran, so

the main pressure or difficulty or impact that this had on my family was our freedom of speech.

We have suspicions that they might be listening to us. Truly, I feel like the majority of the American public

underestimates the influence and power of the Iranian government.

We automatically dislike anyone who is affiliated with the Iranian government. We do not associate

with them because of the horrors that the Iranian government imposes on women, children - all the

citizens of Iran. While we were implicitly glad that the general was assassinated because of the crimes

that he committed and the affiliation that he has with the oppressive government, we still think that

America should not have become involved in the issue. At the end of the day, even though it was

kind of a benefit to the people to have one less oppressor to worry about, it just increases tensions

between America and Iran, and it could cost more lives that way.

Being an Iranian-American and facing the kind of discrimination I’ve faced, especially middle

school, I was just afraid that would happen in high school as well. In middle school, kids are naive, but

in high school, kids are not as afraid to speak their minds. I remained quiet.

courtesy of Mohammad Hoseini Rad on Unsplash

courtesy of M.T ElGassier on Unsplash

5 february issue


Perspectives on the recent tensions between the US and Iran

An isolated identity...


I’m half Persian (Iranian) [and] half American. Despite only being half

Persian and born in America, I am an active member of the Persian community.

I can fluently speak, read, and write in Farsi.

My grandparents and their three daughters, including my mother, were on a oneway

flight to America with only one suitcase [in fear of a revolution occurring in

Iran]. Soon enough, within one year, the Islamic Revolution of Iran happened. When

leaving for America, my family had left behind everything they knew in Iran...They had

to start completely from scratch - leaving their whole life behind and going to a foreign

country where they didn’t understand the language...It was our culture that motivated my

family to immigrate to the United States and to continue living the way they believed was

right. It was their morals that made them persevere and never give up, to make a name for

themselves in this new place.

Even before the “World War 3 memes” came to be, I’ve always felt like somewhat of an

outsider. People tend to put me into categories that I don’t see myself in, and it feels awkward.

I am never fully accepted by either side (Iranian or American), as I am often treated

differently and underestimated for my other half, in which I end up having to justify

myself. “You don’t count because you are only half,” is a recurring phrase that surrounds

my identity, creating a feeling of isolation from both sides. Based on my experience, to be

accepted into a culture, you must be “all or nothing.” As a result of this, I often find myself

subconsciously assuming one identity when necessary, until I find it safe enough to claim

my other half. This event kind of magnified these feelings for me.

I don’t want to erase such a huge aspect of my identity for the convenience of others.

Even though in some situations it’s scary, I want to exist as I am, not defined by subpar,

uninformed opinions. It is my mixed and wholehearted upbringing that has shaped me

into the individual I am today.

*As the tensions are very

high between the two

countries, it’s dangerous

for Iranians to talk about

these matters, regardless

of whether they are in

support of the Iranian

government or against,

as the government may

blacklist their names and

restrict them from ever

coming to Iran. In order

to protect the voice of

the Iranian-Americans

at Oakton High School,

the following interviews

will remain anonymous

and the pictures taken

aren’t of the students interviewed.

Safety amidst political turmoil


My parents are Iranian immigrants and a lot of my family lives in Iran. My

family sides with the US, as they represent freedom and equality, which is

clearly not a right of the Iranian people living under the current administration.

I think it’s a great thing that Soleimani was killed. He was an active terrorist

that was fueling the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. My family also mentioned

how they actually feel safer after the assassination of the general.

by the oakton outlook editorial board

6 7 february issue




How this potential legislation will affect the future of school publications

lindsay greenspan | staff writer

eileen lincoln | staff writer


proposed bill by delegates

Chris L. Hurst (D) and

Danica A. Roem (D) of

the house and David W. Marsden

(D) of the Senate would limit the

power school administration has

in censoring school publications.

The bill states that administration

would only have the power to censor

articles which it deems, “libelous

or slanderous, violates federal

law, or is likely to spur dangerous

or unlawful acts of violence.” Currently,

this is not the case for student

journalists. Schools may censor

articles for virtually any reason,

and there is little for students to

do to overrule the decision of the

administration. Since the 1980s,

about a dozen states have passed

similar laws to the proposed legislation

in Virginia, and many more

states are discussing the adoption

of like bills in upcoming years.

The spark for this legislation

goes back to the case, Hazelwood

School District v. Kuhlmeier.

This case stated that students’

First Amendment rights are not

violated when their writings

are censored in school papers.

In 1988, students of a high

school in St. Louis, Missouri

wrote articles on peer experiences

with divorce and teen pregnancy.

The principal deleted the

articles from the school-funded

paper without telling the students

beforehand. The students

then brought their case to the

U.S. District Court for the Eastern

District of Missouri in St. Louis.

This court ruled that the school

could censor the articles, as they

were written for a class within the

school. The students proceeded to

take their case to the U.S. Court

of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit,

who reversed the initial ruling,

stating that the school paper was a

“public forum” where the students

were free to voice their opinions.

The school took their case all the

way to the U.S. Supreme Court,

where in a 5 to 3 ruling, the Justices

upheld the principal’s decision

that deleting the articles

did not violate the student’s First

Amendment rights, as the paper

was school-sponsored, and

as such, the principal could censor

any article which he or she

deemed inappropriate. The Supreme

Court ruled that all articles

written for a school paper were

subject to editing and the possibility

of removal by the school.

Over the last few years, numerous

laws have been created throughout

the United States to extend

the First Amendment freedoms

of student journalists. One example

of this are the “New Voices”

laws, already passed in fourteen

different states including Maryland

and the District of Columbia.

The aim of their campaign is

to protect student press freedom

by advocating in law, education,

journalism and civics in order to

evolve schools into a more welcoming

place for student voices.

The Student Press Law Center

predicts that many more states,

including Virginia, will begin

to consider similar bills

in the duration of the year.

One of the primary reasons for

this newfound activism in the student

journalism issue includes the

current events occurring throughout

the country. Various political

advocates, such as Greta Thunberg,

have displayed the determination

and willingness of students

to promote change in issues such

as climate change or gun violence.

From school walkouts to marches

all around the country, students

are beginning to demonstrate how

their voices can have an impact.

Hilary Davis, an organizer at the

Student Law Center, suggests students

may also be influenced to take

action by President Trump. “We’re

having a larger conversation about

press freedom generally,” she says,

hinting towards the President’s numerous

attacks upon journalists.

The proposed legislation would

allow student journalists freedom

to tackle more difficult and controversial

topics as a part of the

school paper. As teens invest more

time in national and global issues,

the legislation becomes a priority

for student journalists in Virginia.

“Students should be able to

speak their mind and share their

views on these topics. It leads to

courtesy of Lindsay Greenspan

a more open school community,”

says Sarah Bigley, an Oakton

freshman student. Lamia Rivzi,

another freshman here at Oakton,

suggests a similar idea. “Especially

in a school environment,

students should be able to talk

about controversial topics openly

because not talking about it makes

it more difficult to reach a resolution,”

she says. Allowing students

the liberty to publish articles on

sensitive issues gives opportunity

for respectful discussion in the

school community, broadening

student views and leading to a

more socially aware student body.









Brexit (1)

On Jan. 31, 2020, the UK left the

EU. The process of the British exit,

nicknamed and known by many as

“Brexit,” began June 23, 2016 when

the UK voted to leave the EU. As a

result of Brexit, it’s expected that the

UK will have to pay billions of euros

for it’s “divorce bill.”

written by the editorial board

New Dam on the Nile


A large hydroelectric dam is being

built on the Nile 2,000 miles upriver,

in the lowlands of Ethiopia,

threatens to further constrict Egypt’s

water supply and it is scheduled and

it is scheduled to start filling this

summer. This could hard thousands

of farmer and other citzens.

Coronavirus Outbreak


An outbreak of COVID-19, a strain

of the respiratory coronavirus was

first reported in Wuhan City, China

and has since put the world into a

state of international emergency.

The disease has been found to

spread from person-to-person contact.

There have been over 24,000

cases and more than 1,100 deaths.

Australian Wildfires(4)

Abnormally extreme wildfires raged

through parts of Australia. The

fires started in September of 2019

and lingered all the way to early

February. The fires left devestating

damage for residents and wildlife

in the area. The recovery process

is now beginningas flood begin to

move into the country.

Argentina Debt Crisis


Argentina continues to face its devastating

debt of over $300 billion.

The International Monetary Fund has

begun providing aid to help resolve

some of the country’s debt. If Argentina

is able to secure this deal with the

IMF they will be taking a good step

towards repaying their debt.

Sudan: Omar-al-Bashir


Sudan’s former president Omar-al

Bashir is being tried in front of the

International Criminal Court to

face war crime charges. In April

of 2019 there were nationwide

protests and a frenzy on social

media against Bashir. He will be on

trial for crimes against humanity

and war crimes, which allegedly

occurred from 2003 to 2008.

9 February issue



Going from 29° to almost 70° the next day, this weather we’re experiencing in Virginia

seems anything but the ordinary.

Having ‘unusual’ weather seems to be the

norm for many places these days, but the

recent weather near our area seems to be

in a frenzy of unpredictability. From being gray

and windy to bright and sunny. Many believe this

random is weather due to global warming, but

others think otherwise. But even with all these

claims, there is still no valid answer as to why this

is happening.

Amrutha, a student

“As someone who’s very interested

in meteorology, these

recent weather events seem so


of FCPS and resident

of Virginia talked

about how this year’s

winter seems rather


“I mean, I wouldn’t

blame the local

weather forecasters

for predicting anything wrong, as it’s something

so unpredictable and random these days. It’s a difficult

job that isn’t always 100% accurate. Instead,

I’d rather try to figure out the cause of this, or why

this is happening.”

There have been many reports predicting a

snowy and frosty winter this year, but the weather

proves these predictions to be wrong. In Virginia,

it snows approximately 22 inches a year. But

almost a month into winter and our area has had

only two days of snow, both of which almost immediately

melted away the very next day.

According to CNN, there is still hope for a promising

winter. The coldest weather is supposed to

arrive around the end of January and beginning

of February, with an abundance of snow, sleet,

and ice. This in turn,

will cause a rather

slow start to spring.

But even with this

prediction, there’s no

100% that this prediction

is correct and that

winter will start to

actually feel like, well,


Keeping all of this in mind, it is also predicted

that there will be a cool spring and warm summer

filled with sunshine. Based on recent weather

predictions untimatly being innacurate, does this

prediction seem likely? Until spring and summer

arrive, one can only hope for the weather to

return to the norm.

shriya ramanujam | staff writer



An impeachment on the impeachment process

In September the impeachment process

began, with a whistleblower complaint

about a phone call the president had

with Ukraine. The process started with

Nancy Pelosi, who is the speaker of the

house. President Trump was accused of

calling the Ukrainian President to start

an investigation on the 2016 investigation

and an investigation into Trump’s rival for

the 2020 election, Joe Biden. Not only was

Trump accused of the phone call about the

investigation, but

Trump and the white House withheld

military support in Ukraine to further the

investigation process. These two actions

have lead to the impeachment of the president,

however, Trump claims that he did

nothing wrong.

In December the house held hearings and

on December 18th voted that President

Trump will be impeached. However, it does

not end here. The vote has to move to the

senate, where the senate will determine

whether Trump will be removed

from office.


The impeachment does not mean that

Trump is out of office, he still has his rights

and can run for the 2020 election. The case

was passed to the senate, and through three

days, starting January 20th, the senate will

remove Trump from office, or acquit him.

The senate is currently made up of majority

republicans; this can give more advantage to

Trump because he is a republican. This was

different from the house which is mostly

democratic. However, if the president

committed a crime the political side should

not matter.

Over the three days, the senate will decide

through hearings by opposing sides, and

determine the future of the president. After

the two sides state their case, the senate

will have a 16-hour questioning period.

The Demcratic party continues to push for

new witnesses, and it was found that 70%

of voters agree with the party and want

to see the senate question/hear from new

witnesses. Having new witnesses could

offer more insight on the situation and

more evidence that could be useful for the

senate to make their decision.

Overall, the impeachment process of the

president is being thougholy looked over

and considered by the senate. If the senate

determines the president guilty of the

accused crimes, Trump will be removed

from office and taken as a convicted criminal

and vice president, Mike Pence, will

take over as president for the remainder

of term. However, if the senate rules that

Trump is innocent, he will remain in office

and can run for the 2020 election, though,

he will still be impeached.

zoe sauger | editorial


courtesy of The Nation

11 february issue



What this means for Windsor Castle and the future of monarchy in Britain.

On January 8, 2020, the Duke and

Duchess of Sussex, Harry and

Meghan, made headlines when

they announced to the world via Instagram

that they had decided to resign from

their roles as senior members of the British

royal family and will be splitting their time

between the UK and North America, likely

Canada with their 9 month old son, Archie.

The announcement, however, did not come

as much of a surprise to many fans who have

witnessed the harsh treatment that Meghan

Markle has fallen victim to ever since her

marriage to Prince Harry in May 2018.

What was surprising, however, was the

fact that the rest of the royal family allegedly

had no idea about the couple’s resignation

and found out the same way everyone

else did — through social media. After

several rumors spread about Her Majesty

the Queen’s knowledge about the split with

several “sources” claiming the Duke and

Duchess did not consult with her

regarding the announcement,

the Queen finally

said in a statement

that she supports

Prince Harry’s decision

but would

still love for them

to keep their roles

in the British royal

family. Though the Duke and Duchess’s

split means they are now completely financially

independent from the Sovereign

Grant, the system by which the royal

household is funded, they are still apart

of the family in the political sense in that

they still plan to serve the monarchy in

order to strengthen the Commonwealth.

The loss also occurred during an extremely

tumultuous time for the Windsor family

with events such as the Brexit, the Prince

Andrew scandal, and health concerns regarding

the Duke of Edinburgh currently

weighing down on the royal family.

Though the British media is notorious for

scrutinizing Meghan, the first and only

woman of color to be senior royal, the

global icon has achieved worldwide

support and popularity with

#Mexit (a spoof of the popular

tag #Brexit) trending on Twitter

following the announcement.

There are still others,



h ave

used #Mexit to further push the narrative

of painting Meghan in a negative

way, arguing she is ungrateful and responsible

for breaking up the royal family.

The controversy surrounding the issue

has brought up the discussion of what the

future holds for the royal family and the

future of the monarchy in Britain. With a

new modern, progressive era, a monarchy

whose image is focussed majoritively on

appearances and which failed to protect

Meghan during a swarm of negative media

coverage, it seems as if the royals are lending

themselves to a diminishing power.

shevany moharir | staff writer

Courtesty of Royal Collection Trust





courtney te | editorial board

Oakton’s Swim & Dive team has

long been a source of pride for the

school. Winning game after game

against other competitive high schools in

the area, they have yet to see a defeat this

season. Due to this, it’s not surprising that

they have yet again had another successful

run at District competitions on Jan.

31st and Feb. 1st. Overall, girls placed 2nd

while boys placed 1st. A number of

individuals also qualified for the

Northern Virginia Region (Regionals)

meet on Feb. 15th by placing in

the top 10 of an event.

In terms of specific placement in

different events, the swim team notably

placed 1st in the 200 medley,

2nd in 200m freestyle, and 1st in

the 400 freestyle relay. Individual

swimmers such as Joe Wong (12)

placed 1st in 100m breaststroke, Kyle Mc-

Cleskey (12) placed 2nd in 100m butterfly,

and Anthony Grim (11) placed 1st for 100m

backstrokes with a time of around 19 seconds.

Grim’s time has qualified him for

the Olympic trials (which is, impressive,

to say the least). For dive, Maddie Reese

(11) placed 1st and Spencer


(10) placed 3rd, qualifying for all-American.

So what is to be expected at Regionals

and States? Well, swimmers and divers

who have qualified are required to participate

in the same events. They will be competing

with some of the best opponents of

high schools in the region and state. Oakton

Swim & Dive has a very track record,

“Oakton has always had a

great swim team. Winning is

what we do best.”

—Brynn Curtis, 12

but is it enough to win a place at States

this year? Spencer Dearman, 11, says, “We

have had a successful season so far, but

states are definitely a fight for the win and

nobody can walk in knowing what’s going

to happen.”

To prepare for these larger meets

throughout January and February, the

team has kept practicing hard every day

after school, and have tried to keep

morale and confidence


Swim and dive are just as much a physical

sport as it is a mental one. Dearman

comments that one must stay confident

during the 3-hour long event. A lot of the

time is spent watching others, so being

calm and positive is just one of the important

aspects of being a successful diver.

On the other hand, swimmers focus on

speed while in the water. Focus is key, and

receiving support from other members

of your team is always amazing

and uplifting. Oakton’s team

has made a continuous effort to

cheer on the sidelines. “The energy

on Oakton’s swim team is awesome,

winning races that come down to

milliseconds is the most exciting

and thrilling feeling for everyone

swimming and watching,” says

Brynn Curtis, 12.

Support from Oakton students is also

another important factor! The meets are

always exciting and action-packed. As

States looms near, the excitement “increases

exponentially” as Dearman puts

it. Regionals occur on February 15th, and

those who qualify will move on to States

on February 21st and February 22nd at

George Mason University. The stakes are

high as it is every year, but the team is confident

and prepared for what is to


13 february issue


Cougarettes Go to Orlando for the Universal Dance Association’s National Competition

payton wozny|editorial board

The Oakton Dance Team has just returned from their trip

to Orlando, FL where they competed at the Universal

Dance Association(UDA) National Dance Team Championship(NDTC)

in which dance teams from across the country

go to show off the routines they have been working on all season.

The dance team has competed in this competition for many

years now and is nationally ranked.

After flying out on Wednesday and spending the day on Thursday,

the team was ready to take the floor on Friday, January 31.

They started out with their kick routine, competing in Varsity

High Kick semi-finals, followed by their pom routine, competing

in Medium Pom prelims, all within the span of a couple

of hours. After two nail-biting announcements, the team knew

they would be moving on to both High Kick finals and Medium

Pom semi-finals.

The kick routine portrayed the team’s amazing flexibility

with their high kicks and a series of highlighted leg holds,

including junior Melinna Guo’s needle. The pom routine was

action-packed with aerials, toe touches, full-team turning combinations,

headsprings, and leg-hold turns. The team learns

choreography over the summer and practices rigorously to prepare

for this competition. Emma Rogers, junior, says “we look

forward to that one moment all year when we get to take the

nationals floor.”

Oakton wasn’t the only team from Northern Virginia, among

those Chantilly High School Dance Team, the Bishop O’Connell

Dance Team, the Herndon High School Dance Team, and

Paul VI Dance Team. Chantilly dancers competed in Medium

Game Day, Medium Pom, and Medium Jazz. Bishop O’Connell

competed in Medium Game Day, Medium Pom, and Medium

Jazz. Herndon competed in Medium Pom and Medium Jazz,

and they advanced from prelims to semis in jazz. Paul VI competed

in Small Pom and Small Jazz and advanced from prelims

to semis in pom.

Surprisingly from their success at Nationals, the team had a

bit of a setback before they left. About two weeks before their

departure, half of the team got the stomach flu, causing the

coaches to cancel some of the final practices leading up to the

competition. However, this did not hold them back as the team

placed 12th in the nation for their kick routine. Although they

will still perform at a few more basketball halftimes, this is

their last major event of the dance team season.

“My favorite part was just being all together

with my team and getting to do

what we love.” -Emma Rogers(11)

photo courtesy of Varsity TV



The track team heads back from districts, ready to win

big at Regionals.

sitota mesfin | staff writer

Courtesy of Sitota Mesfin

“Our sport is your sport’s punishment.”

It is easy to guess which

sport is being talked about. Track

and Field is definitely not known for

being fun or easy. Running voluntarily,

why would anyone want to do that,

right? However, running is so much

more than moving the bottom portion

of your body up and down towards an

end goal. The sport may seem to be

independent, but it is the team pushes

people forward. Of course, it is not easy,

but many say it is worth it. The Oakton

Track and Field team has been working

hard and hopes all of their work has not

gone to waste. The top runners recently

came back from their district meet and

are ready to continue on fighting hard

at regionals.

Districts are the running meets that

the top runners go to. The top three

runners in each category from all six

schools in the district compete in the

District’s indoor track. Races can vary

from a 55-meter sprint to a 2-mile race.

There are also field events such as

pole vault and long jump. From there,

the top six people in each race go on

to regionals, except for relay races,

where the top three teams head on to

regionals. At Districts, there is a point

system where each time a member of

the school places in their race they earn

points for their school. Their placement

in the race determines how many

points their school gains. The school

with the most points of their districts

gets a district title. The person with the

most points also gets awarded athlete of

the meet. After Districts are Regionals,

then States, and lastly Nationals.

The Oakton team has been practicing

hard with a very rigorous schedule they

stick to. For distance runners, Mondays

are for long runs, meaning 6-8 miles

for girls and around 10 miles for boys.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved

for easy runs, meaning 3-4 miles for

girls and 4-5 miles for boys. After the

easy run, they head to the weight room

where they work on core and roll out

their muscles. Lastly, on Wednesdays

and Fridays, they complete workouts

such as repeatedly sprinting up hills,

or doing a tempo where the runners

keep an almost race pace for 3-4 miles.

The sprinter schedule is completely

different however, as they need to

work on the more speedier aspect, unlike

distance who focus on endurance.

The sprinters have workouts Monday

through Friday that can vary from a hill

workout to bleacher workouts.

15 february issue

Oakton performed very well at the District

meet, with the boy’s team getting a district

title for the first time since 2001. In fact, only

two years ago, the Oakton boys team had

come in dead last. Along with that, Lucas

Banerji won male athlete of the meet, after

placing first in the 500-meter and 1000-meter

race, and being on the winning 4x800

team. In addition, Coach Decker, the track

and field main coach, got awarded the Concorde

Coach of the Year. Many team members

reached personal records, improving

on their times and making it past districts

to regionals. In fact, the 4x200 team relay,

Garret Woodhouse for the 2-mile, and Lucas

Banerji for the 1000-meter and 500-meter

races have already made state qualifications.

For the girls, Katya Lebert makes it to

regionals with her mile and 2-mile, along

with the 4x400 relay. Abba qualified for the

55-meter and is also a part of the 4x400 girls

relay. The 4x800 girls relay also made it to

regionals. Regionals will be on February

10 and 12, and the athletes will continue to

hone their skills as they get ready for the

big race.

The Oakton Track and Field team is off to

a good start. With the moves the boy’s team

are making and the many improvements

coming from the girl’s team, Oakton seems

to be ready to take regionals on! Like Michael

Jordan said, “You must expect great

things from yourself before you can do

them.” Even though he is not a runner, the

same thing applies to Track and Field. It is

because the team has believed in themself

that they came this far. Way to go cougars!

Image courtesy of Sitota Mesfin

Katya Lebert, 12 -Girls Track and Field Team


“I think our girl’s team is doing really well. We had to kind

of rebuild our team this past couple of years and this year

felt like things were finally coming together for us which

is very exciting for the upcoming seasons. I’m definitely

going to miss my team the most once I graduate. We’ve all

seen each other at our worst and have all been there for our

bests and that created a strong bond between us. Not seeing

everyone every day next year will be sad, but it makes coming

back to visit all the more special.”

Lucas Banerji, 12 -Boys Track and Field Team


“My season has been very successful so far. I have had

personal bests in all my main events and I’m excited for the

future. Being athlete of the meet was a very exciting experience.

I was glad to see my hard work recognized. But winning

districts as a team meant a lot more to me. I’m going to

miss the team the most when I leave high school. Although

running may not seem like a team sport, I probably would

not have continued running if it were not for the team.”








28 2 20




10 5 5





The Second Annual Student Faculty basketball game took place Friday, January 31 in the main gym. Two staff teams,

burgundy and black, faced off to decide who would play the students.

The burgundy team took an early lead, finishing the half with a score of 9-6. The student section rooted for the black

team to make a comeback. However, the burgundy team kept their lead and finished winning 15-12.

The students, comprised of, then made their way to their court after a quick break. After winning the jump ball, the students

pulled ahead with an easy layup. They took a quick lead before the teachers began to catch up. At the end of the half,

the score was 18-14 with the students in the lead. Leadership offered a game during half-time, where students would pay a

dollar and try to shoot from the free throw line. The teachers started the second half with the ball and scored quickly. The

game ended 28-20, with the students winning.

veronica preaskorn | staff writer


17 february issue



Seniors at Oakton High School reflect on their experience in

their respective sports.

Grace Meshanko

As a freshman on varsity I was intimidated by the older

players, but as the years went on, my role as a

leader has been more prominent and I’ve tried to

create a more inclusive team for the younger players.

Looking back on the years basketball had made me a

better person in general, I’ve grown as a communicator

through team bonding activities and I have grown

as a leader by understanding how nervous a freshman

can be coming to a new team. I’ve made it my top priority,

as captain, to make sure everyone feels included.

a teams chemistry is what makes and breaks a team. It

also helps us get through the tough games and move

on after a loss.

Ian Huang

I’ve been on track&field since freshman

year. The intensity of training

we go through during practice has

definitely increased a significant

amount from year to year. I’ve

learned how to have fun with my

friends while maintaining a competitor

edge with them to improve

myself and my peers.

Caleb Yu

Nicholas Scott

I have been on the track team for all

four years for the winter season, and

this year is my second year of spring

track. Through out the years the team has

evolved and each athlete has found which

event they love out of the different option

that are available. I’ve learned a lot from

pole vault because a lot of it is mental:

especially during competition.I have also

learned to trust the effort I have to put in

between the meets. This can be applied to

some aspects of my life where I must work

hard and then trust the preparation will

lead me to results I hoped for.

I joined the swim&dive team sophomore

year. The unique combination

of people and grades that make up the

team make it a completely new team every

year. However, we always just have a

fantastic time, no matter the people. It’s

really helped me grow as a leader, and

helped me learn how to interact with

people who are completely different

from me. It’s really helped me take

people under my wing and feel as a part

of a family at Oakton.

19 february issue

Mitchel Thomas

I’ve been on the hockey team all four years. As the

years progressed, I found hockey less competitive

and more just for fun. I don’t mean in a bad way but

like there’s no stress in not winning everything. I try

to look for opportunities for inclusion and make

sure everyone on the team feels like they are on the

team. We have a wide skill range but we all wear the

same jersey

Elizabeth Upright

We’ve improved as a team since

freshman year, we used to not even

have full line-ups but now we have

a shot in districts. I used to only get

8’s but now I’m getting 9’s on some

events (scale of 1-10). I’m not sure

if we’ve changed since we’ve been

acohesive team but we’ve definently

grown in size.

Daniel Melera

The wrestling team has gone through some major changes

these past two years. My freshman/sophomore year we had a

max of 20 people on the team. This year, we have almost 50 people

on the team. I also remember the time when close to a third

of the team quit within the first few weeks just because of how

bad practices were. Some big changes for the better were made

to the program. This season the effects of those changes were

seen. We’ve gone from seasons in which we would win only a

couple of duels to this season where we’ve only lost a few duels.

The sport has pushed me to my limits both mentally and physically.

However, I’ve only become a stronger and better person for

it. I’ve also become more confident on and off the mat. To stand

with just my opponent in front of a gym that has the stands filled

completely takes a lot, especially with the possibility of me losing

in front of all those people. I used to be extremely nervous,

but now when I reach the finals of whatever tournament I’m at,

it’s just another match.

Linus Aubert

I started running track sophomore year indoor, and

ran all the way through outdoor, then cross country

indoor and outdoor junior and senior year. The team

went through multiple coaches through my time in it

and with it came a different change of work ethic depending

on what you were running. It changed me as

a person in terms of work ethic because I developed a

passion for running and it showed me that putting in

work will get you results, a good mindset for life and

school. I learned that it’s always worth putting in extra

effort, and running that extra mile pays off.


The Astros were caught stealing signs during the 2017 and 2018 playoffs. They faced

harsh punishments, but now their future is uncertain.


Carlos Beltran, one of the many players implicated in the scandal. Courtesy of Keith Allison

The Houston Astros will never be

the same. What started first as a

feel-good story of an underdog

team losing its way into high draft picks

and achieving success with home-grown

talent has turned into a cheating scandal

that is unprecedented in its magnitude

and severity. The punishments have been

hefty and it seems like the entire baseball

community has weighed in with an opinion

or testimony about the different ways

the Astros have cheated.

First, it started with an accusation. A few

players came forward and claimed that

the Astros possessed a complex system

to steal signs at home and that they had

utilized it between the 2016 and 2019 MLB

seasons. This system involved a monitor

that displayed a live broadcast of the game,

which allowed a personnel member in the

Astros’ dugout to see the opposing team’s

catcher’s hand signals, which determined

what pitch the pitcher was gonna throw,

and relay it by banging on a trash can and

alerting the batter as to what pitch was

coming. The person watching the monitor

could bang the trash can and effectively

allow the batter to predict what pitch was


These accusations were further backed

up by an interview with former White Sox

pitcher Danny Farquhar, who provided

the exact time and date for when he realized

the Astros were stealing signs. Surely

enough, baseball analyst Jomboy Media

found video footage of the pitch sequence

Farquhar was talking about and was able

to hear trash cans banging so loud they

were picked up by on-field microphones.

What followed was an incredible series

of events, wherein multiple eyewitness

accounts and evidence helped paint the

picture of an incredibly complex cheating

system that was created with the help

of multiple Astros players and front office

personnel. Many of the Astros’ star

players were implicated, but they either

denied the accusations or refrained completely

from responding.

The punishments were swift and harsh.

The Astros were fined $5 million, the

maximum amount allowed for a team to

be fined for, and they had all of their draft

picks taken away for the 2020 and 2021

season. Mets manager Carlos Beltran and

Red Sox manager Alex Cora were fired

from their positions after it was revealed

that they masterminded the cheating

scheme in 2017 while they were playing

and coaching for the Astros respectively.

Additionally, manager AJ Hinch and general

manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended

for a year due to their active role in the

cheating scheme. Additionally, the Red

Sox, who won a world series with Cora as

their manager in 2018, were subject to an

official investigation by the commissioner’s

office on top of the cheating accusations

they were already subject to.

This scandal has thrown the results of

every world series from 2017 to 2019 into

question. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who

lost the 2017 and 2018 World Series to the

Astros and Red Sox respectively, have

been actively campaigning to promote

harsher punishments on both teams.

Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals,

who beat the Astros in the World Series

in 2019, have asked for an investigation on

their run.

kartik mukalla | staff writer

21 february issue



courtesy of Anderson Wozny


courtesy of Sonny Nguonly




In Order to Teach Black History, We

Need to Rethink History Itself

As a senior at Oakton, I’ve listened to Martin

Luther King’s speech on Washington

four times within my AP history courses,

but I never learned that his message was

truly one of economic revolution to redistribute

wealth. I’ve learned about the Black

Panthers as a “radical revolutionary group”,

but never that the C.I.A. enlisted thousands

of spies to covertly collapse the party aimed

at increasing the rights for Black Americans.

I learned about Jim Crow laws as a

relic of our country’s past, but never about

modern Jim Crow laws that uphold racism,

through War on Drugs-era legislation that

increased arrest rates of Black youth, modern

segregation in education, and redlining.

Black history in AP classes is often framed

through a generalized, subdued lense.

Within the AP European History textbook

Oakton uses, 22 out of nearly 400 pages are

devoted to discussing the impacts and contributions

of Black people to history. The

omission, whitewashing, and shortening

of Black history reflects a long-felt problem

with teaching social studies classes: that

history is inherently subjective in ways that

rigid curriculums can’t mitigate.

Textbook publishers, like the McGraw

brand that Oakton uses, have a vested interest

in abstracting and obscuring Black

history. As argued in Loewen’s Washington

Post article, publishers like McGraw often

“mystify” key events in Black history, like

the Civil War, to avoid offending school

districts in conservative counties, thereby

decreasing sales. Similarly, Virginia’s policy

of funding statewide textbooks means

that school districts are unable to respond

to demographic disparities, meaning that

predominantly-Black schools use the same

materials as predominantly-white ones.

A benchmark study by the NEA revealed

that the omission of ethnic studies programs

has negative impacts on both students

of color and white students, namely

through a lack of academic engagement,

political efficacy, and more. In particular, it

found that the 33-point achievement gap in

geography scores between black and white

students, as measured by the NAEP, can be

at least partially explained by a lack of ethnic

studies programs in high school.

In response, Black educators and policymakers

have increasingly called for ethnic

studies programs in high school, particularly

African American studies. Some educators

have proposed an AP African American

Studies course, which has been met with

pushback from College Board due to a lack

of interest among colleges. Others have proposed

amending the current AP U.S. History

curriculum to center Black narratives,

particularly as they relate to the Civil War

and development of American capitalism.

However, of all the proposed remedies, reimagining

history in high school courses is

easily the most popular option. Educators

like Michael Conway argue that students

should be taught history through the lense

of historiography, where they analyze primary-source

documents for bias, relevance,

and historical contributions, in comparison

to textbooks. “History is anything but agreeable,”

he wrote in an essay for The Atlantic,

explaining that dominating narratives in

history are the result of deliberation among

historians. Mirroring these deliberations

in high school, as is often done in college

courses, he argues will better prepare students

for the day-to-day impacts of history.

Particularly as this relates to ethnic studies,

he explains that this would help students

learn the “many ‘histories’ that compose

the American national story.”

College Board has attempted to respond

to these types of arguments through testing

formats like Document-Based Questions.

Within Oakton, teachers like Mr. Williams

have similarly followed suit by assigning

primary-source readings for quizzes and

tests. But, education policymakers agree

that despite its many proponents, this type

of learning style is unlikely to be adopted

into standardized curricula.

Oakton’s population is less than 5% Black,

but students of all racial backgrounds have

a responsibility to understand and respond

to racism in today’s world. Understanding

history, and in particular, the contributions

of Black people to American history, is necessary

to educate a generation of people

prepared to combat the impacts of racism

across all sectors. As explained by Loewen,

“White history may be appropriate for a

white nation. It is inappropriate for a great

nation. The United States is not a white nation.

It has never been a white nation.”

23 february issue




jacob rutzick I staff writer

What politcal views do Oakton students feel they can express with other

students, and what causes students to hold their tongues.

Most conservatives at Oakton are scared to share their opinions.

They feel like others will view them different if they

know they side with a certain ideology. Many students at

Oakton are very confident in sharing their beliefs with other students.

However, this isn’t the case for most conservatives at Oakton.

Non-conservatives feel very comfortable sharing their beliefs

amongst their friends and other students at Oakton. Why do Oakton

conservatives feel sensored?

Well this issue is very multi-dimensional, and most have very different

reasons for keeping their views to themselves. However, most

other politically inclined people at Oakton don’t feel the same way.

Jack Odell, a moderate, 12, said “I feel very comfortable sharing my

beliefs with anyone open to having a discussion with me.” Democrats

and moderates often discuss their political beliefs openly and

proudly. These people are, unknowingly, the cause of why many

conservatives don’t feel comfortable sharing their views. They feel as

if people will look at them differently if these moderates and democrats

know they are conservative and agree with the republican party’s

platform. Being a conservative and a moderate or democrat are

two very different things. There are many negative stereotypes about

conservatives that most political and non-political people believe.

Telling others that you’re a conservative often insights groans and

eye rolls from other students. Scott Sloan, 12, said “People often ignore

my opinions, and what I add to a political discussion because

I am a conservative.” It seems as if much of Oakton’s student body

is relatively close minded to new political opinions, and this often

leaves conservatives on the outside looking in when it comes to political

discussion at Oakton.

Oakton’s conservatives don’t share their views because they lack

confidence in their beliefs. Ryan Sakhel, 10, said, “I have a lot of confidence

in my views, but I don’t want my liberal friends to look at me

any different. I know that getting into a political argument with them

will do no one any good.” Sakhel brings up an interesting point.

What is the purpose of having a political discussion. It’s more likely

than not that no one will be convinced of anything, and the students

involved will have less friends afterwards. So conservatives side with

the more inconspicuous option, and simply witness the discussion

rather than participate in it. Oakton students have the opportunity

to open a dialogue between all political parties. However, most students

haven’t done that just yet.



will locklin|staff writer

This year’s Oscars have seen lots

of the more popular films receive

nominations. Movies like Joker,

1917, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

have received ten or more nominations,

including the biggest categories

like Best Picture and Best Director.

Notable snubs include Adam Sandler

for Best Lead Actor and Jennifer Lopez

for Best Supporting Actress. Over

the past few decades there has been a

gradual change from the best critically

acclaimed movies to the more popular

movies receiving nominations. These

changes are more present now more

than ever because of the academy’s lack

of accountability and the movie industry

rapidly becoming a more of a strictly

blockbuster industry.

One common question regarding the

Oscars is, who votes for the nominations

and winners? The Academy of Motion

Picture Arts and Sciences has members

from the media and former filmmakers

that vote for the Oscar nominations and

eventual winners. The big problem that

the Academy faces is some voters inability

to watch all the movies that are up

for nomination prior to them voting on

the official ballot. In 2012, Twelve Years

a Slave won Best Picture. While it was

certainly deserving of that honor, two

members of the Academy anonymously

admitted that they did not watch the

movie but still voted for it to win Best

Picture. The two members said they

felt “obligated” to vote for Twelve Years

a Slave because of its “social relevance”.

Even though only two members admitted

it, mostly likely this is only the start

of a larger issue with the very real possibility

that many members vote off of social

relevance rather than real cinematic

quality. One explanation for this problem

could be the fact that the members

of the Academy tend to be on the older

side. Older voters have had a tendency

to favor the films with a bigger message

that is relevant to the current social and

political landscape.

The final aspect of this trend is the

movie industry’s trend of favoring the

bigger budget movies that are being created

by big studios and releasing movies

at a prime time date (summer blockbusters

and holiday season). The trend

is a slippery slope that starts before the

movies are even released. Big budget

movies have more money to pour into

advertising and will be more likely to get

theaters to show their movie all days of

the week and at the prime movie watching

times in the evening. From here, the

big budget movies will attract a large

audience leading to a big time box office

gross and the attention of the Academy.

The next aspect of this paradox is

the national media. By nature, the national

media is looking for a story so the

higher grossing movies will receive lots

of national media coverage. The Academy

will take notice of these high grossing

films and favor them over smaller

movies that are still worth a watch. This

year, movies like The Lighthouse and

Portrait of a Lady on Fire were not voted

for Best Picture despite receiving loads

of praise from critics. These movies did

not receive a big following as opposed

to movies like Ford vs Ferrari and Joker.

This is not to say that just because a

movie has a larger following that means

it is overrated. Rather the current focus

of the Oscars soley seems to recommend

the popular films over the smaller films

that may be equally as good if not better.

Movies with a social message should not

be favored over good storytelling. Unfortunately

this seems to be the case as

the Oscars has turned into a popularity

contest rather than a careful process of

voting for the best movies of the year.

Courtesy of Dolby Theaters

25 february issue


How the Vermont Senator has garnered the support of

Oakton students portia dai | staff writer

VT senator and presidential candidate,

Bernie Sanders

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The last Democratic debate occurred on January 14, the first of six debates to

take place in 2020 before the presidential elections on November 3. Among

the six candidates who qualified for the Iowa debate was Vermont senator,

Bernie Sanders. The senator, who was a contender in the 2016 elections, accumulated

wide-scale support from high school students, and four years later, students still

support Sanders. Here is an interview with Oakton student, Elizabeth Sullivan. (12)

Q: What’s your opinion of Bernie Sanders?

A: I support Bernie Sanders as he is the most

progressive candidate running in the 2020

election. I am a socialist myself, though I

fell into the trap that Warren would be more

electable and I should support her.

Q: How do you think Sanders is different from


A: His impeccable record on fighting corporations

and advocating for LGBT rights convinced

me to support him unequivocally. Warren has

backtracked on issues such as universal healthcare

and often uses LGBT support as tokens to

convince people to support he as a progressive.

Q: Do you think Sanders support of the LGBT community

is a major reason students support him?

A: It’s a reason I support him for sure. Young people

want a candidate who fights for their right to public

accommodations and self-expression. And those are

issues that Sanders always pushes, especially when

it comes to the LGBT community.

Q: Did you support him in 2016 as well? Possibly for

the same reasons?

A: I did support him back in 2016. I actually went to

a rally of his for the gubernatorial candidate Tom

Perriello, an opponent of Ralph Northam’s.

Q: How did this experience affect your opinions

of him?

A: He has always stood in solidarity with progressive

politicians and that hasn’t changed since 2016. Being

able to see the grassroots nature of the campaigning

he does really showed me how closely he stands with

the people of this country and of Virginia in particular.

Q: Do you think his approach to the Presidency has

changed since then? (such as in debates)

A:He has only become stronger on the issues that matter

since his first presidential campaign. And I think that sets

him apart from people like Joe Biden who hasn’t expressed

support of many issues until Sanders made them mainstream

Democratic politics. He “wrote the damn bill” (October

debates) and all that in regard to healthcare.

Q: Do you think his ability to bring more issues to the

foreground has helped him gain more supporters this


A: I believe so. As much as the media has attacked him for

his supposed health issues and how far he is from being a

moderate, people have started to see through that and recognize

him as the candidate with the strongest chances of

beating Trump. People are sick of the establishment, and

that’s why Trump was elected back in 2016.

Q: Do you think people support Sanders because of the

possibility of beating Trump or because of his beliefs?

A: Will it’s clear that the Democrats need someone who can

capture that energy and beat Trump at his own game. But as

opposed to more traditional choices, people are passionate

about the beliefs he shares with them. And that’s why he

could beat Trump.

Q: What do you think is his strongest policy that can/

will earn support and possibly help beat Trump?

A: I think that his advocacy for equity in all its forms

(healthcare, wages, and in promoting more people to care

about politics) is what puts him as a favorable candidate

against someone as anti-equity as President Trump.




holland cogan | staff writer

Find out how social media can cantribute or cause issues with mental health

Whether it’s a meme page on

instagram, for you page on Tik

tok, or the release of the next

new ‘relatable” song it seems the media

is becoming increasingly more comfortable

showing and releasing content that

normalizes bad mental health. People

think that raising awareness through the

media is helpful, but can songs discussing

suicide and images depicting teenage

depression have a negative affect?

Meme pages on instagram have always

been a fun way to poke at real life situations,

but lately self deprecating humor is

flooding the internet. Pictures with captions

that make self medicating and disorders

humorous is not so funny when children

come across them and think it’s ok to

think that way. The media is also promoting

clothing with anxiety and depression

definitions on them. A popular media star

Corinna Kopfs released merchandise with

the word Anxiety in bold letters with the

definition below it. This caused a huge debacle

on social media because people said

that anxiety wasn’t something to glamorize

and use for marketing purposes to

make a profit. The line of what is helping

or harming people seems to be fading on

media platforms as people become more

comfortable posting without repercussions.

The for you page on tik tok is also

filled with trends that compare body types

against each other, check the level of insecurities

on a hand, and have sad point of

views where the subjects deal with assault

and death. Tik tok is an app that has a very

young audience with 41% of tik tok users

aged between 16 and 24. It is very easy to

spend hours on it with the average time

spent on the app being 52 minutes. That

gives a lot of time to view 15 second videos.

Another example is Billie Eilish’s song Everything

I Wanted. The song touches on

suicide and someone who “stepped off of

the golden” (the Golden Gate Bridge.)The

song shares details of how nobody cried

or noticed when the person died. Many

Billie Eilish fans are young adults and

this song has the potential to be taken the

wrong way. Matthew Foltz (10) Says that,

“social media is amazing as it grants us

access to lightning fast way of communicating.

Though it creates the consequence

of expected response, creating a feeling of

anxiety and uncertainty amongst other

unintended emotions.” He at times feels

that feelings of anxiety stir up, and unexpected

emotions hit him sometimes after

listening to music or viewing images. This

is certainly how many people feel, and because

children are more impressionable

and their emotional processing is still de-

“Social media is a powerful tool and a great way to connect with

others, but you have to use it wisely and you have to learn to not

let it effect you.” Amanda Jacobson(10)

“I don’t have social media because

I don’t want to be depressed.” Isaac


Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

27 february issue



In an education system focused on specialization, future students

may be missing out on important skills.

emily richardson | editorial board

Since 2008, the number of bachelor’s

degrees administered to

Americans rose by an incredible

31%. In this same period, the number

of individuals earning their degrees in

some of the most essential liberal arts

subjects, including English, history,

and philosophy, has declined by 15%.

The fate of the liberal arts seems to

be headed in a sure direction, particularly

as the STEM-required, dominant

industries in technology continue to

grow exponentially. What does this

mean for college students across the

disciplines, regardless of whether or

not their subject falls under the liberal


A distinct cause of the decline in

both liberal arts students and institutions

has to do with what the students

are involved in before they even walk

through the doors of their choice in

higher education. AP class enrollment,

particularly in those humanities subjects,

has a great deal to do with what

students end up taking in college—

testers who can swing a high score will,

typically, be able to apply for credit

transfers and ‘test out’ of any number

of their general education requirements.

This process causes a domino

effect that ultimately keeps many students

from broadening their horizons

by taking high-level humanities courses

in college.

“I wouldn’t have found my passion if

I hadn’t tried several core classes like I

did,” said Abbey Bloom, a current junior

and English major at Hood College,

a small, private, liberal arts institution

in Frederick, Maryland. “It’s

hard to know exactly what path you

“If all you get from college

is preparation to work in a

single industry or a single

type of job, your options

will be pretty limited

when you graduate.”

- Dr. Mitchell-Buck, Hood College

want to go down when you come right

out of high school.”

Another key cause of the decline in

liberal arts education is simply the societal

perception that a degree in English

leads to an unsuccessful career

and economic struggles down the line,

which might seem to some as defeating

the purpose of going to college altogether.

Research by the American Academy

of Arts and Sciences has proven

that conclusively, yes, those holding

degrees in the liberal arts tend to earn

less on average than those with degrees

in science, engineering, or business.

However, this same research showed

that liberal arts majors are far more

content with their financial situations

than, say, business majors.

At the end of the day, the liberal arts

provide students with the writing and

communication skills required for any

individual hoping to sustain a career in

any field.

“I do worry that we have fewer English

and history majors, but that is

because people have the wrong idea

about what getting a degree in those

fields represents,” said Dr. Heather

Mitchell-Buck, a professor of English

and communication at Hood. “They

think it means you’ll be just qualified

to teach or go to grad school, but there

are about a zillion other things that

those majors prepare you for … What

you need to get from college is a set

of broad set of skills that will prepare

you for jobs that don’t even exist yet,

because the workplace of the future is

changing. If all you get from college is

preparation to work in a single industry

or a single type of job, your options

will be pretty limited when you graduate.”

For students across the disciplines,

this decline will not go unnoticed.

photo courtesy of unsplash


Environmental Club Clothing Swap

Oakton Cougars go green by recycling clothes through a clothing swap

aubrey harrell |editorial board


Photos courtesy of Leilani Hyatt and Aubrey Harrell

Leilani Hyatt (11), Enviornmental Club Member

Are you a member of the Environmental Club?

Yes! I just joined because I’m in AP Environmental Science and right now we’re learning

about how we’re basically killing the world and I just thought “Hey, I should join this

club!” and then I talked to the club president about it and joined.

What do you think the benefits of recycling clothes and other resources are?

A lot of the time people just buy clothes and then don’t wear them and shove them to the back

of their closet and never wear it again, so by just recycling clothes people can let others have

clothes that they personally don’t like anymore and in return get clothes they actually like,

which reduces our environmental impact while still getting cute clothes.

What was the process at the clothing swap?

During cougar time we had everybody bring their donations to the cafeteria and there we sorted

them into like dresses, pants, t-shirts, and other random categories and then brought them

back to Dr.Wang’s room and sorted them and put them all on tables with signs and people

came and shopped around.

If Oakton held any events like this in the future would you attend?

Yeah I think so, It was a lot of fun seeing all of the clothes people brought and we didn’t have to

pay for the clothes at all so it was fun

Carolyn Hindle (10), Environmental Club Officer

What inspired the environmental club to have a clothing swap?

The basis of the exchange is to take action against fast fashion, which is the corporate system where clothes are produced

cheaply and unsustainably and thrown away quickly because of trends changing or just low quality clothing.

The exchange did this in two ways, one by preventing those clothes from ending up in a landfill and instead finding

them a new home or donating them, and also hopefully by just bringing awareness to the problem of fast fashion so

that people make eco friendly choices next time they go shopping.

Would you say the clothing swap was a success?

Yes I would definitely say it was a success! All of Dr.Wangs tables were covered in clothes to exchange, and we had four

boxes of clothes for donation left over.

Is there anything you’d like to tell or inform to students looking to get more involved with going green/saving the environment?

For anyone who’s looking for a way to save the environment, the best recommendation I can make is to just think

about how your actions are going to impact the earth. Go through a day where you try to consciously think about how

all the decisions you make are affecting the environment and if you see something that isn’t as sustainable as it could

be, make an effort to change it. Just doing simple things like bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store is so easy, so

just put in that little bit of effort to do what’s right for the earth and you’re already making a difference.

Is it still possible for students to join the environmental club as of now?

Environmental club is super low commitment, anyone can drop in to any of our meetings! They’re every other

Wednesday from 3-3:45 so late buses are available after the meeting. If anyone wants to join environmental club at any

point this year that would be awesome and we’d love to see some new faces!

29 february issue


What are the interesting topics that came out in the 2019-2020 Science Fair?

grace park | staff writer

There are many different kinds

of science classes in Oakton

High School such as Biology,

Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy,

Psychology, and more. Classes are

divided by students’ skill levels, so

students can select the course that

suits them. For those people who

think science is boring, the science

fair project is for you! The Science

Fair Project is a research project that

students satisfy their own curiosity

by planning and doing the actual

experiment throughout the year. According

to Oakton Virtual Electives

Fair, all the regular, honors and AP

class students can do a science fair

project, but it is optional for regular

and AP classes, mandatory for honors

classes. Every year, students try

hard to figure out what to do for the

science fair project.

Fortunately, this year, a bunch of

fascinating topic ideas came to students’

minds. Lauren Lee (9) made

ice cream for the science fair this

year. She is doing an experiment

about the effect of salt types on

freezing point. Salt is used to make

ice cream and Lee was wondering if

the type of salt affects the ice cream.

Lee said, “This experiment was very

interesting. It changed me into a

good ice cream maker. The most fun

part was definitely eating ice cream!

I personally recommend this experiment

more than any other project!”

Bibechana Pandey (9) got an idea

while she was drinking her soda

during class. She was wondering

about the amount of sugar in many

kinds of drinks and decided to investigate

it for the science fair. As she

continued the experiment, she realized

that a lot of sugar is contained

in the beverages. Now, she is trying

not to consume too much sugar for

her body. Pandey said “This project

really changed my lifestyle, it made

me keep thinking about the amount

of sugar I saw in each beverage and

it was a lot. Whenever I drink something,

it feels like I’m ruining my

body, so I’m trying to avoid them. Recently,

I enjoy drinking water instead

of soft drinks.”

Last but not least, there were students

who were curious about the

plant’s will to find sunlight. Kristina

Tanchanco (10) and Madisyn Moses

(10) did an experiment about plants

moving toward the light inside the

dark box with a small hole that the

light comes through. As the plant

grew, it eventually found the hole.

Tanchanco said “ I didn’t know that

the plant can find where the light

is. I had so much fun observing the

plant.” Moses said that instead of

growing straight, the plant grew

toward the sunlight. She also said

“During the experiment, I felt like I

was a scientist and I was really into


Like Lee, Pandey, Tanchanco, and

Moses, there are many students who

found their interest and had fun

with science fair projects. Science

fair projects not only satisfied their

curiosity but also changed many of

the students’ lifestyles. Throughout

the year of 2019-2020, students are

expected to finish their science fair

successfully. From the experiments,

student’s thoughts about science

changed from “boring” to “interesting”.

The important thing is to never stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

Courtesy of pngguru



sahithi jammulamadaka | editor-in-chief

olivia garrone | editorial board

Walking through the halls of Oakton High School

on any day of the week, students can be heard

grumbling about all of the work they have to do

for their AP classes. With over 25 different AP courses offered

at Oakton, many students are bound to take at least

in their high school career. Though they give students the

opportunity to challenge themselves, gain college credit,

and get a more collegiate class experience, they also cause

students an extreme amount of stress. With more and more

students taking more and more AP classes, choosing classes

has become a competitive process. Student comparisons,

teacher expectations, counselor recommendations, and

parent pressure have now become the driving force when

choosing classes.

*According to survery of 27 Oakton students

31 february issue

Q: Why did you decide to take the AP classes you are taking?

Ariane Sambile (12): Calc I had to take as a next step and the rest were fun APs. I decided

on gov gov because I did APUSH last year and thought it’d be good to go into gov AP.

Asha Iyer (12): My parents wanted to find a way for me to get the most credit possible,

to get ahead for college credit and they wanted me to be in a more rigorous schedule to

get used to the type of work college takes.

Q: How would you describe the attitude toward AP classes at Oakton High


Sambile: I feel like sometimes people think they have to take AP classes but you should

do what fits you.

Iyer: I think that a lot of people want to be in them and the people who are kind of look

down on the people who aren’t.

Ageda Mara (12): It’s normalized way too much to take AP classes when it’s not meant

to be like that.

Q: Is there pressure at Oakton to take AP classes?

Iyer: Yes, we have a weighted gpa just for taking AP classes and socially you need to

take one or throughout HS to be considered “normal.”

Zhiqen He (11): Teachers push you to take APs that they feel like you are ready for. This

leads to people taking too many APs because they were convinced by multiple teachers

and could lead to more stress.

Q: What would you change about the AP class culture at Oakton?

He: To make it clear that APs don’t make or break college applications. Though counselors

say it already, I feel like most people don’t beleive that at all.



Oakton students face external influence when registering for classes.


haley longfellow | staff writer

It’s no secret that external pressure

plays a large role in course selection

at Oakton High School. Students are

not alone when choosing their classes,

as they are influenced by their peers, parents,

teachers, and counselors. The value

of such direction is debatable; advice can

certainly aid students in getting the most

out of their classes, but it can also corner

them with obligation.

To some extent, it can be seen as important

to take on a course load that measures

up to other students in terms of rigor.

Many students want to maximize their eligibility

as candidates for colleges, ensuring

that they are competitive within the

context of Oakton High School.

It is understandable for students to worry

if, say, they should take an additional AP

or Honors class or not. It should be noted

that a number of factors play into the

balance between rigor and achievement,

though; as often reiterated by counselors

and teachers, it may be better to complete

a program of lower difficulty in favor of

earning better grades, or in

favor of leading a less stressful

high school career. Plus, each

student has their own complications

to consider such

as strengths and weaknesses,

learning style, and extracurricular

activities. Ultimately,

students will probably not

be compared solely in terms

of the rigor of their academic


The colorful conversation

circulating around course selection

at Oakton is not always

healthy. It can influence students’

schedules to too great

an extent. As junior Teresa Ribeiro

explains, “Peer influence

affects a lot of course selection

because people in the grades

above you will give you their opinions and

input on each of the classes and teachers

which can really change if you want to

take a class or not.”

Students talk quite freely

about classes, and their advice

and insight can be very

helpful, but it should also be

taken with a grain of salt and

not immediately accepted as

fact. Students need to consider

their own complications.

When some upperclassmen

boast that, for instance, a certain

AP class is a breeze, other

students may get the wrong

idea. Perhaps, their abilities

best lend themselves to other

subjects, or maybe they end

up finding that they wholeheartedly

disagree with the

other students’ statements.

courtesy of good free photos

On the other hand, students are notoriously

vocal about the great workload

and strict teaching style associated with

certain classes, discouraging others from

exploring topics. Certain stigmas have developed

around certain courses, and this

can be misleading.

Of course, there is a wide spectrum of

opinions on each class at Oakton. Being

informed in a one-sided manner is not

helpful. It is easy for a student to hear

opinions about a course from few sources,

neglecting to truly examine all merits

and potential hurdles associated with that

course before impulsively ruling it out or

checking a box to take it. As students trying

to set ourselves up for success and satisfaction,

we should not be afraid to question

if a notion about a class is too good to

be true, or if a course will truly fulfill us in

some way. Insight from others can be taken

in stride, but it should not single-handedly

drive our decisions.

33 february issue


Learn more about AVID at Oakton and what it does.

It’s course selection time! Students are asking their

teachers what they recommend for next year and are

learning about the classes and electives available. One

of the electives at Oakton is AVID. AVID, which stands for

“Advancement via Individual Determination,”

according to its official website.

AVID is a program in schools that focuses

on helping students succeed in high

school and prepare for college by cultivating

an environment of collaboration

and organization.

According to Ms. Kline, a history and

AVID teacher at Oakton who has been

teaching AVID for 6 years, in the first

two years of high school, students focus

on succeeding in school. They improve

note-taking, organization, and study

skills. Additionally, the upperclassmen

years are dedicated to specific areas in

preparing for graduation. In junior year, for example, students

prepare to apply to colleges and study for the SAT.

Sarah says that on a normal day, students have their tutorial

groups and get help from their tutors and peers. She

believes that AVID has helped her with commutation.

Once the long awaited senior year arrives, AVID students

work on writing their essays, filling out college applications,

and applying for scholarships. At Oakton, there are about a

hundred students in the program.

“Grades are calculated just like a

regular core class but without tests.

Students complete work in all of our

WICOR categories; writing, inquiry,

collaboration, organization, and

reading,” says Ms. Kline.

Those skills are the focus of the

course. Students may have seen the

bulletin boards talking about AVID

field trips. They go on field trips to

colleges to learn about that school

and what the experience might look

like. Sarah said that the field trips

have helped her become more aware

about the surrounding colleges. AVID can be great progam

for students who want to succeded in high dchool and beyond.

While Ms. Byrd, the AVID coordinator, is on leave, be

sure to contact Ms. Kline with further questions.

“I would recommend

AVID to anyone who

wants to learn how to

manage their time better

or just get help from fellow

peers and tutors.”

- Sarah Pham, 11

isabel knipping | staff writer

courtesy of sincerely media


sameeha khan | staff writer

Senioritis: a loss of motivation

that is typically felt during the

second semester of senior year.

As Oakton seniors approach the end

of the school year, their sighs of relief

are almost audible, their shoulders no

longer weighed down by obligations or

expectations of success. At every corner,

seniors laugh just a bit more freely,

carrying themselves with an infectious

excitement for the years to come. But,

for some, senioritis is regarded

more as an illness than a representation

of freedom. With

these differing opinions, how

should one truly go about


Many Oakton students

opt to apply for college

using early decision

or early action timelines,

allowing them to

receive an admissions

decision 3-5 months

earlier than the if they

used regular timeline.

Early admission often only

calls for first quarter grades,

and if accepted through this

timeline, senioritis may hit earlier

than expected. As for the regular

decision timeline, first semester

grades are sent to prospective colleges,

resulting in the usual senioritis

occuring after the 2nd grading period.

Senioritis occuring only after college

admission indicates that students find

college admission to be the main motivator

for success. After college is no

longer a worry, seniors no longer find

themselves working as hard, and caring

as much. Time and time again, students

hear that the motivator to achieveacademic

success is learning and growth,

What’s the cause of an illness plaguing our senior class?


but the pressure placed on high school

students to pursue higher education

interferes with that expectation. On the

other hand, college admission can also

be seen as a motivator to avoid senioritis,

as the fear of rescinded acceptance

drives students to mirror their previous

academic performance and secure their

spot in

the school of

courtesy of headline news



Pursuing a non-traditional path, Tenzin

Phugshondol [12] believes senioritis hit

her much earlier than expected. Hoping

to graduate early, Phugshondol took

a rigorous course load her Junior year,

but felt burnt out from the overload.

Coming into senior year, she is determined

not to end badly, admitting that

“senioritis is really just a waste of effort-

especially when you work hard all four

years of high school and then suddenly

put no effort into your assignments.”

Tenzin ensured that she would not

struggle with senioritis when planning

her senior year. “ I knew I needed to

pace myself with a less demanding

workload, and make time for friends,”

she reveals.

Many argue that senioritis allows

for a necessary break. Overworked

students are able learn without the

pressure of success, and able to

attend school with a much

healthier mindset. While

this may be true for some

students, the prevalence

of the term senioritis at

Oakton makes it a group

phenomenon. Even when

students may not actually

feel burned out, they may

use the senioritis as an

excuse for poor attendance

and work habits. “I think

the senior internship also

makes it easier for Oakton

students to find a reason to

skip,” Phugshondol confesses.

Students who are not pursuing an

internship at the end of their senior

year often find no reason to attend

school, especially when many of their

peers are no longer doing so.

Regardless of burn out and senioritis,

classes and assessments continue

and teachers often find themselves

exasperated by the effects of senioritis.

When signing up for senior classes, it

is important to remember that Oakton

classes are a year long courses, and

teachers expect continued effort regardless

of college acceptance.

35 february issue


How Did it Start? Why is it Gone? And How Have Dances Changed?

After homecoming, many people,

girls specifically, mentally

prepare themselves to complete

the task of asking a boy to the Sadie

Hawkins dance.

How Did it Start?

Sadie Hawkins comes from an old

comic strip, usually described as offensive,

called Li’l Abner. This comic was

created by author-illustrator Al Capp

sometime in the late 1940s and the

early 1950s. In one specific issue titled

Sadie Hawkins Day, Al Capp gave rise

to the idea of a woman asking a man to

dance, instead of the other way around.

Although in this day and age it isn’t

unusual for a girl to ask a boy, it was a

big deal back then and the joke of it all

is what started the real tradition. Sadie

Hawkins’s day was set to fall sometime

in November, but depending on what

school you go to the date of the dance



from November



At Oakton,



from considering

it a Sadie


dance and

refer to it

as a winter


in order

to avoid



However, this year Oakton is not

having a winter or Sadie Hawkins dance.

Why is it Gone?

Part of the reason Oakton isn’t having a

Sadies dance this year is that “the timing

and it didn’t flow so well last year,”

reports Maddi Kriz (senior) from leadership.

But luckily, Kriz also stated that

there may possibly be another winter

dance sometime next year. Dances are

meant to evoke a sense of school spirit

and community between students. They

are supposed to be regarded as a fun

way to spend time with friends. But over

the years, the stimulus and tradition of

school dances has been lost.

How Have Dances


Ask anyone from previous generations

and many will say that they had school

dances two to three times a month,

compared to the three dances that

Oakton has a year. Watch as they can

recall the fun times they had with

their friends at those dances

and listen when they explain

the exciting build-up to each

one. It is completely different

from the school dances

that are seen now. Although

dances today still require a lot

of planning, preparation, and

hype, they also cause a lot of

unnecessary stress. Whether it

be the underlying competition in

our area to have the best time out of

everyone you know or the seriousness

of school; school dances just aren’t seen

to be as fun as they were in the past. As

Kriz puts it,

“School dances have become

less about the dances”,

which as it’s been observed, is true and

students try to have a fun night far away

from school, whether it be an after-party,

pictures, or a fancy dinner. Due to

the lack of actual school participation

of dances, such as showing up to the

dance, schools are less inclined to have

as many dances because at that point it

is just wasting their money. Why spend

money on a school spirit event when

you can spend it on new technology?

Overall, over the years dances have

become increasingly stressful and more

of a burden for the school to have. Unfortunately,

Oakton leadership doesn’t

plan to have many other dances than

Homecoming and Prom in the future,

but Oakton students always find a way

of making the best out of those two


claudia messina | staff writer



A Feature on Oakton High School’s Students Demand Action Chapter

As of January 27th, 2020, 7th to 12th grade students in

Fairfax County Public Schools are allowed one excused

absence per school year to participate in protests,

and engage in other civic engagement activities. However,

even before this excused absence was granted to Oakton

students, many students have and continue to engage in acts

of student activism, from club meetings to protests in DC.

One such example of student activism is the Students Demand

Action club here at Oakton.

Students Demand Action

is an organization with many

chapters in schools across the

The average Students Demand Action consists of either

planning or doing an event. Some events that this Students

Demand Action club has carried out include canvassing

for common sense gun law supporter, state legislator Dan

Helmer, raising awareness through school events such as

Student Teacher Trivia Night, and “Advocacy Day”, where

students of the club talked to state legislators about common

sense gun laws.

Student activism is an important

way that students can have

their voices heard on important

issues, especially considering

nation, and is an initiative of

Everytown for Gun Safety. Students

Demand Action demands

for common sense gun laws,

such as stronger background

checks before owning a gun.

Sydney Chen (11), the founder

of Oakton’s chapter, states that

she founded the chapter two

years ago after being outraged

by the Parkland Shooting.

Students Demand Action members meet

with Kamala Harris during Advocacy

Day, courtesy of Kim Perks

most high school students are

too young to be able to vote in

elections. Whether it be events

planned through student clubs,

or just showing up to protests in

Washington DC. If there are issues

important to you, then engage

in some student activism!

maxwell pfeifle | staff writer

37 february issue


How you can change the world from home

nour al-kaaby|staff writer

In 2018, Greta Thunberg, fifteen at the

time, skipped school and sat on the

steps of the Swedish Parliament in

protest of the lack of response to climate

change. Since then, Greta Thunberg

has created a movement among youth

and adults, given a speech in one of the

world’s most important organizations,

and inspired1.4 million students to skip

class and fight for the climate emergency.

Another example, Malala Yousafzi, at 10

years old, became an activist against the

Taliban giving speeches that changed government

policies and winning the Nobel

peace prize at seventeen. How could they

accomplish such big things from their

small towns? Malala won a Nobel Peace

Prize, although she lived in a town with

no such thing as the internet, a town occupied

by the Taliban.

We often have a perception that being

an activist means you have to give up your

life to this one movement and you have to

travel around the globe to make a significant

difference. Being an activist has so

many definitions, and you never have to

sacrifice your life for a movement. There

are so many ways to spread a message that

requires minimal effort. So minimal that

you could do it from the comfort of your

own home.

We see artists, authors, songwriters as

creative, the most creative of them all is an

activist. Erinne Paisley, a Canadian senior

at the time, tailored her old math homework

into her prom dress and gave the

money intended for her prom dress to the

Malala Fund. The dress went viral on Instagram

and gained the attention of many.

Soon, Paisley and Yousafzi’s movements

were all across Instagram and donations

were flooding in. Elizabeth Paul (12) is on

the state board for March For Our Lives

Virginia (MFOLVA). She is a passionate

advocate for gun control and decided to

do something about it after the Parkland

shootings in 2018. She attended her first

school walkout that year. Since then she

has lobbied members of Congress and became

a board member of MFOLVA.

Photo courtsey of The Blue

Dimond Gallery

Donya Brooks (12) values education, believing that educating

yourself or others is a key component of activism.

Brooks advocates for inclusion and equality through social

media, internships, and organized protests. Education and

awareness are commonly agreed upon aspects of activism

as activists should know what they are talking about. Activism

comes in all forms, through social media, clubs (like

the environmental club, anti-bullying club, and students

demand action), organized drives and protests, and movements

or political statements. Paul Agrees that educating

oneself as a teen activist is important, especially when

working with adults.

Being a teen activist is challenging. All activists have to

face the difficulties with adults not taking their work seriously.

This is to be expected. Educating yourself can put

an end to these prejudices. This happens a lot on social

media due to people caring less about their words. When

Paul spoke to Florida congressmen, she knew right off the

bat he didn’t take them or their hard work seriously. After

speaking to Paul for a little longer, the congressman knew

that they knew what they were doing and that she was not

someone to mess with.

The difference between the activists in this article and

any other teenager is they used their fear and instilled it

into others: congressmen, delegates, teachers, parents, the

world. Everyone has the power to use what terrifies them

most and hand those in charge of their anxieties, worries,

even burdens. You may be wondering why this article did

not write out a direct path for you. It is because you need

to fight in your own way. You need to fight the way you feel

comfortable to efficiently fight. Clubs and organizations

may not be for everyone, but it may be for you, or maybe

it is not that clubs and organizations are not for you but

that you have not found the one you like so you create one.

It could be an online foundation or an organization that

knocks door to door until everyone knows their name. You

may just want to go solo, start a blog, talk to the government

personally, write a book for crying out loud. Just do

something, do not wait for someone else to because they

will do it their way, or worse they will not do it at all.



Depression among this generation has increased and doctors are trying to figure out why.

kinsey clements | staff writer


Statistically, teens, more specifically Gen Z, are

becoming more and more depressed despite the

decrease in alcohol and drug consumption. This is

causing teens to have less motivation for activities

such as sports, extracurriculars, and school work. This

has parents and other adults, like doctors and psychologists,

more confused than ever because that has been the

assumed cause. Thus leading to the difficult question, why

are teens more depressed than ever? Here is a possible


Doctors don’t have a definite explanation as to why this

is happening but they believe it is because teens are faced

with more pressure from school and home, and worry

about their family’s financial situation. Although teens in

the past might have had this pressure, it has become more

of a stressor for Gen Z as school is becoming more challenging.

Furthermore, social pressures have caused more

stress because of the increasing popularity of social media

platforms affecting teens identities. In addition to depression,

ever since 1990, the rate of suicide with teens has been

increasing every year, most likely due to the causes listed

above. What is even more disturbing about this statistic is

that only about 30% of teens are being treated for depression.

That may also be one of the reasons why teens are

becoming more depressed because they think that their

problems are not big enough for their parent’s acknowledgment,

so they neglect being treated. This also plays

into the belief that teens have stressed about their families

financial situation, so they do not want to concern parents

with their mental struggles.

Furthermore, there are other statistics, besides the stress

that Gen Z encounters, that can lead to some people having

an increased chance of developing depression. Some

of these include having a chronic illness, having a family

history of depression, and if one has experienced trauma.

This epidemic is something that needs to be solved, either

by addressing Gen Z’s depression and trying to prevent

genetic depression, in the near future because by looking

at the current trends, it will keep on increasing. Teens and

young adolescents are the people of the future but depression

looks like it could slow down the success of this


Photo courtesy of Ceril

39 february issue

Capturing an Artist

What is the purpose of art, or does it have one? The

first piece in a series about artists at Oakton.

When a sculpture of a banana taped to a wall sold for

$120,000, journalists and pundits on social media exploded

with outrage. At face value, their anger makes sense: charging

thousands of dollars for a banana and duct tape inarguably

ridiculous. But, the piece was intended to ask a larger question

about the role of the artist in an age dominated by art

with “meaning”. It questioned whether art needs to carry

meaning, and as a result, whether artists should be considering

the intention of their pieces beyond simply creating. Can

blocks of orange simply be squares? Can faces simply be faces?

Can artists simply create without a larger purpose? That

question might just be worth $120,000.

This series attempts to understand why artists create and

the implications of their work. It features artists within the Oakton community

and a number of interviews about their perspectives on art in the 21st century.

When first looking at Tyler Chapman’s

Instagram feed, the black

and white pictures of pedestrians

stand out against the platform’s typical

cute selfies and dog pictures. An

award-winning photographer, he’s

crafted an early style of high contrast,

urban-inspired pictures. Below is an

interview with him.

What inspires you to create your work?

The artist that inspires me the most is

the filmmaker and painter Harmony

Korine, his abrasive and dark yet comedic

quality to his work inspire a

desire to constantly disregard boundaries

set by society.

What is the goal of your artwork?

To break down any barrier usually

felt in our society; I want my work to

confront the emotions of my audience

before they have an idea or thought

of what they are viewing. I enjoy the

idea of targeting emotions because

it is how I provoke thoughts that one

could relate to the ideas explored in

my work.

What do you view as the purpose of art?

The purpose of my art is to give a

voice to those who can’t or won’t

speak, this includes myself because

there are certain ideas I can’t express

in my written work. But those who are

silenced by the rest of society usually

have the most interesting, important

and thought provoking stories to tell;

so why not attempt to put the pieces

together and create a visual story

What is the piece you’re most proud of?

My photography series, which I started

last year, that explores the mindset

of someone who is suffering from

mental illness and suicidal thoughts.

It is not only a very personal project

that is very dark in its visual aesthetic

but a project that I chose to keep

uncensored and confrontational in

its visuals. I am still not proud of it

(due to various elements that aren’t

perfectly thought out), but that just

means it’s unfinished and I suppose

all of my projects composed of still

images are unfinished for the reason

that my ideas are always changing.




Julia’s outfits give you a little taste of Tokyo, but where does all this inspiration come from?

Everybody has their own fashion

styles, inspirations, and specific

likes/dislikes that influence them

as they shop for new outfits. From preppy

to minimalist, glam to basic, the only

thing that’s constant in the fashion world

is change. Julia Colet (11), talks about her

style, motivations, hopes for the future,

and more. Inspired by designers such as

Yohji Yamamoto, she puts together unique

and edgy outfits every day, which inspire

other students at Oakton to attempt to do

so as well.

To avoid this industry that “is extremely

toxic for the environment, [Julia chooses

to] thrift, repurpose old clothing, and

use Depop.” Depop is an app where you

can sell your old or unused clothes, and

also buy clothes from other people on the

app. Julia uses Depop often because it is a

great way to keep away from adding popularity

to the “destructive industry of fast

fashion.”Fast fashion is a new term that

describes the inexpensive designs created

by department stores who desires to meet

the latest trends wanted by the youth.

From cheap materials to horrendous labor

systems, fast fashion has become the

second most polluting industry on Earth

after oil.

All these amazing outfits probably make

you wonder where Julia gets her ideas

from. Fashion designers, Kim Jones and

Yohji Yamamoto inspire her everyday

Julia’s Yamamoto inspired outfit

look, as well as her hopes for the future.

Each designer has taught her something

new about fashion and the industry.

Kim Jones reinvented the Louis Vuitton’s

Menswear, became the creative director of

Dior Homme’s, his pieces keeps the fashion

industry on their feet with their intricate,

unique designs. Yohji Yamamoto began

designing with a goal to create men’s

clothes for women, although overtime, he

developed his own style, which is typically

modern based clothing with a drapy effect,

varying in texture. He grew popularity

as he began collaborating with other

fashion brands including Adidas and New

Era Cap Company; and artists with different

genres, such as Daniel Barenboim and

Tina Turner.

Noticeably, all of Julia’s favorite designers

are Japanese. She says that “the impact

on the fashion community that Japan has

had throughout the years is insane,” including

extreme care for hygiene, always

looking presentable, and not being afraid

to express themselves. She is inspired

by how people dress in Tokyo including

styles with long jackets, baggier clothing,

and flair pants.

On a more personal note, Julia says that

her style gradually changed throughout

high school, and will continue to change

throughout her life. She is not afraid to

dress however she wants to and try new

things, although her experience with insecurities

sometimes gets in the way of

that. However, she “tries not to care what

other people think about [her] clothes because

everyone has their own opinions.”

Julia doesn’t like to plan and predict her

future because she knows that her likes

and dislikes will change and things will

turn out differently, but she is hoping to

go to a city school and see where she goes

from there. As of now, Parsons School of

Design is her top pick. Located in New

York City, GrabCAE ranked it second for

best design schools in the world, as it offers

numerous graduate and undergraduate


Julia Colet makes statements through

her outfits, and her views about the fashion

industry are admirable. Not only

does she choose not to buy clothes from

fast fashion businesses, she chooses to

repurpose clothing and respect the environmental

impact that those fast fashion

stores fail to acknowledge. Her influencers

like Kim Jones and Yohji Yamamoto continues

to inspire her everyday, changing

her views on fashion, but also offering her

more knowledge about the industry. Julia

expresses herself through fashion, even

when it’s hard, and her style will continue

to change throughout her life. She isn’t

afraid to show off her style and her ability

to not care about what other people think

is exemplary. As she gets older and her

interests change, she still hopes that she

will go to a design school and continue to

study fashion.

sara boddie|staff writer

katie le|staff writer



Ms. Hart

Teaches: Physics

One thing you may not know about her: “My favorite

sports teams are all from Pennsylvania.”

Tea or Coffee?



Mr. Buczyna

Teaches: Astronomy,

AP Physics C, Physics

One thing you may not

know about him:

“I once did 2,500 pushups

in a day when I was

in high school




Earth Sciences

Books, Movies, or TV


What feild of science is

your favorite?


Your friends would

describe you as...

Work Ethic

Hard Working



Introvert or Extrovert?

Mrs. Komiss

Teaches: Biology, Anatomy

One thing you may not know

about her: “I was on my high

school dance team.”

You take pride in your...



Mrs. Boyer

Teaches: Biology, Anatomy

One thing you may not

know about her: “I have

never had a soda in my life.”


Ms. Giordano

Teaches: Chemistry 1 HN,

AP Chemistry

One thing you may not

know about her: “I love to


Ms. Bingham

Teaches: Chemistry 1 HN, AP


One thing you may not know

about her: “I have two dogs - a

beagle (Lucy) and a dachshund


42 february issue

Dr. Wang

Teaches: Biology,

AP Environmental


One thing you may

not know about her:

“I can can speak three




zoe siamon | editorial board

TV Shows


Ms. May

Teaches: Biology, Geosystems

One thing you may not know

about her: “I like to try new

foods and recipes.”


Your favorite guilty

pleasure food

Ice Cream

Cats or Dogs?




Favorite non-science


Social Studies

Ms. Sabino

Teaches: Biology 1, Biology

1 HN

One thing you may not

know about her: “I really

am funny!”



Dr. Fernandez

Teaches: AP Biology, ESOL


One thing you may not know

about her: “I’m very sensitive

but I try not to show it.”


alexandra martschenko|staff writer


Oaktons Exhibition of Student Heritage and Talent

Culture festival is still months

away, falling on April 2nd and 3rd

of this year, but preparations are

already underway to choose the acts and

practice for the performance. Auditions

fell January 22nd but those who made

the cut are not entirely sure when they

will be notified.

Being at a predominantly white school

can hinder the flow of different cultures

and traditions among the general student

body, but Oakton’s Annual Cultural

Festival is a great opportunity to witness

your fellow classmates’ lives outside of

the dreaded school day. Usually held

near the beginning of spring break, Cult-

Fest is divided into two separate events,

one for the parents and other willing attendees

in the evening and one during

the school day for everyone to see. Participants

go through an auditioning process

to receive a spot in the show and

rehearse tirelessly to make sure they deliver

their best performance. Groups like

MESA (Middle-Eastern South-Asian)

Bollywood Dance began preparing

their pieces as early as September and

based on previous performances it will

be a show to watch. Oakton Senior and

three-time CultFest participant Bhadra

Nair discussed the behind the scene

preparations that ringleaders Mr. Larson

and Ms. Husman are doing in order

to ensure the perfect show stating that

“the main program had encountered

various obstacles in the years before” including

cutting certain acts due to lack

of time. To prevent a similar debacle

from occurring, appropriate measures

are being taken by the organizers such

as organizing the final itinerary months

ahead of time and discussing with the

performers what works best for them.

The remaining diversity we have here

at Oakton should be celebrated and

showcased. Our differences are what

ultimately unites us as individuals with

exceptional skill sets and talents. The

Cultural Festival presents a unique

chance for students to share their heritage

through song, dance, clothing, etc

and has been a well loved event in Oakton


Memorable performances and well anticipated

acts such as the Oakton Breakers

and KCF (Korean Culture Festival)

have not only put on a good show but

opened Oakton students eyes to the diverse

community that exists within their

school. The performance may be a ways

off but excitement is already brewing.

Courtesy of Middle- Eastern South-Asian Club

42 february issue




Why the lack of popularity?

With the sudden rise of popularity with Mariya Takeuchi’s “Plastic Love” in 2018 and it’s fade back into obscurity, it begs

the question - what happened? Even if the 80’s Japanese music gained more avid fans, why hasn’t Japanese music had

the same sensational rise in the U.S?

The answer may lie in the marketing. Currently, the korean pop industry as well as other branches of korean music has become

a sensation in the U.S. due to the way the way they build a relationship with their fans and the way boybands/girlbands are

produced. While some modern japanese music definitely also has the same elements, Japanese idols lead a much different and

relaxed lifestyle than many Korean idols. For example, while K-idols tend to have a lot less privacy, constantly go to events and

reality shows to increase their popularity and try to personalize or remain a beacon of perfection for their fans, J-idols have much

more privacy and don’t tend to be featured as much because of the stigma associated with their style of music.

These vast differences in lifestyle help fans feel closer to K-idols since they know a lot about them, even to the point of obsession.

In fact, while the K-idols themselves don’t necessarily encourage this obsessive tendency in fans, the company marketing

them definitely encourages such addictions so they can globalize their idols and reap a greater profit. J-idols meanwhile tend to

more strictly follow privacy regulations and aren’t afraid to shun those who go out of line, and their higher level of privacy means

that fans can’t connect with them in the same way.

Another key difference which contributes to the contrast in their popularity throughout the United States is the way the

groups are produced. K-Idols will receive much more rigorous training which can last years on end before actually debuting or

even being chosen as a part of the group. This process is done to ensure that the ‘product’ of the boyband is perfection from the

start and specifically catered to appeal to the audience through a combination of high quality music videos and skill - a combination

which creates a lasting impression on any new fans. In comparison, while certain J-Idols from bigger companies may

also undergo a few years training, most begin their training after auditioning since the focus is more on how their development

throughout their career, rather than a specifically tailored musical presence. With this considerable gap in production style, it’s

easy to see why K-idols and music tend to circulate more widely on a global scale or throughout Korea, while most J-Idols tend to

retain their popularity throughout Japan.

Eloise Garnier, a casual fan of the Japanese music genre for several years, describes the difference between the two as a matter

of a “lifestyle and a job”. She says “it’s no surprise really because with K-Idols there’s so much content that it’s easy to get

obsessed” compared to J-idols. “To me it’s always felt like K-Idols have way more pressure to be perfect” she states, recalling the

backlash she’s seen many K-Idols face for being less than the ideal in public. She believes many of the criticisms K-Idols deal

with are “ridiculous” compared to what she sees with J-Idols, but recognizes that “that’s probably what helps them be so popular”.

While the gaps between the lifestyles of K-Idols and J-idols are immense, fans of both genres continue to enjoy their respective

preferences. Even if K-idols and music currently has a hold on the U.S, talented artists in both genres undeniably attract new fans

and continue to positively contribute to the lives of thousands.

elene lipartiani | staff writer




Will Marvel’s entrance into horror movies impact younger audience turnout?

April 26, 2019 — audiences flocked by the millions

to view the conclusion to “Phase 3” of the Marvel

Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Endgame became

the highest grossing film of all time, an incredible feat for

any movie, but especially a superhero film. This might

have been due, in large part, to the scope of their audience.

Moviegoers of all ages attended Endgame, a pointer

to just what makes these kind of movies tick, the key

to their success; regardless of age, most Marvel movies

promise a good time. Teens have seen the last decade of

their lives packed with the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and

Chris Evans, and Phase 3 of the MCU ended right around

when those same teens are about to enter college adulthood.

So, what does Marvel have in store for the next

generation of moviegoers?

Of all the answers to that question, horror seemed

the least likely. And yet, here we are. On Monday, Sony

released the trailer to Morbius, and, well, it’s not for

everyone. This isn’t a movie about men in flying suits

or overweight Norse gods — Morbius tells the story of

Dr. Michael Morbius, a genius trapped by his rare and

lethal blood disease. Being a genius and all, he decides

to search for a cure using vampire bats. Something goes

horribly wrong, and now Jared Leto is jumping off walls

and attacking people with six-inch-long fangs. Yes, the

studio that gave audiences a movie where Tom Hardy

bonds with a hungry alien and starts biting off peoples’

heads has now given us the first glimpse at Marvel’s first

vampire movie. Fan responses have been overwhelmingly

positive, but there’s an issue here that people aren’t


Who in their right mind is going to take their child or

younger sibling to see a vampire movie?

Last week, 20th Century Fox released The New Mutants

trailer, which is also a horror movie from Marvel entertainment.

Months before, Marvel announced their continued

plans for Phase 4 of their cinematic universe. One

of these scheduled released was Doctor Strange in the

Multiverse of Madness, which has since been confirmed

to be the MCU’s first horror movie. It all begs the same

question — is this darker side of Marvel going to negatively

impact their box office numbers? “I think Marvel

should at least try making more horror movies,” says

Marvel fan Frank Smoot-Canty (11). “Since Morbius is a

new character to the MCU, this is very much an experiment

to see what audiences will like. I don’t think, however,

that movie turnout will be that great though, with

Morbius not being a mainstream character and horror

being a topic younger audiences would shy away from.”

It remains to be seen if Frank’s words will prove true,

but there’s a logic to his statement. Marvel is dipping its

toe in an area previously alien to it, and there really is

no way of knowing for sure what that entails. One thing’s

for sure; when the day comes when Jared Leto’s Morbius

tries to take a bite out of Tom Holland’s Spider Man, we’ll

all tune in to see who wins.

Image courtesy of Looper

charlie williams|staff writer

46 february issue



How TikTok is positively

affecting the Teenage Mind

TikTok is an app that has been

growing in popularity since June

of 2019. The revamped version of

Musical.ly has brought a new enthusiasm

for teenagers to share parts of their

lives. This could include them talking

about crazy stories that have happened

to them or situations that they are dealing

with. One popular topic of TikTok

is mental health. TikTok has given a

platform to students and teenagers to

open up and have a discussion about

illnesses they are struggling with. This

includes depression, anxiety,

and other


This is creating a new discussion

and a further openness towards these

topics that might have been more uncomfortable

to discuss before. This platform

also allows a coping opportunity

through humor. Ilana Reed, a sophomore,

said “I talk about a lot of stuff that

I am dealing with through TikTok but

it’s not as serious as I might talk about

it in real life. And I think that makes it

an easier topic of discussion for me and

maybe for other people. I know when I

see people that are posting about their

issues, it helps me feel like it’s normal

or that I’m not alone”. This sense of

not being alone that TikTok provides

allows for students to open up and feel

better about themselves making this

form of content a type of coping mechanism

for many people struggling with

these types of mental health issues.

TikTok is also facilitating a

place for students to feel safe to

express their opinions or

complaints about things

that they wouldn’t

say out loud or

even to anybody

else. Though

this could be

viewed negatively


to the fact

that allowing





can lead

to rudeness

and an inability

to put

up with minuscule

things that

annoy them, it allows for connection

between students. Lastly, TikTok has

opened up stylistic ideas for students

who might have not chosen to express

themselves through their clothes or artistically

previously to do so. This has

allowed students who might have ordinarily

felt uninspired or motivated to

try new things to actively look for things

that inspire them. Genevieve Bavisoto, a

Sophmore, said, “Since I started watching

TikTok I have definitely tried a little

harder with my outfits and now it’s like

a new hobby for me to pick out clothes

every morning and have them reflect

how I feel.”

This ability to allow teenagers to express

themselves in invaluable in our

time of depression and lack of self-confidence

among students.

These new platforms have

connected students throughout the

TikTok app and possibly the world. The

sharing of new ideas, complaints, and

struggles has created a new way of how

one might view our society. This newly

formed view can allow for an overall

happier generation that is open to having

plain discussions about previously

avoided topics. This openness is crucial

for young students when they approach

asking for help. Overall, this new facilitator

for student expression could

lead to a healthier generation, which is

much needed in a time like this.

lizzie thompson|staff wroter



The posthumous album release from rapper Mac Miller is a satisfying

coda on his illustrious career.

max dolinh|staff writer

Since his tragic death in September

2018, fans of the Pittsburgh native

Mac Miller had been left in the dark

surrounding the situation regarding any

music being released posthumously by

the artist. So when the release of a posthumous

album was announced through

Miller’s Instagram on January 8th, fans

were understandably surprised and excited.

Circles, released on January 17th, was

an album that, according to his group,

Miller was in the process of recording

when he died and was intended to complement

his album Swimming, released a

month before his death. Producer Jon Brion

took the responsibility of putting the

unfinished album together during the last

one and a half years, which will likely be

the last addition to Miller’s discography.

Miller performing at one of

his shows

Despite its tracklist only consisting of 12

songs, Circles features a runtime of almost

49 minutes. It is clear to see how the album

acts complementary to his last release, with

the sound being very melodic in comparison

to the more groovy and soulful Swimming.

The sole single, Good News, provides

a strong example of what the album does

best. The track, which runs almost six

minutes long, features a catchy string instrumental

with great, polished vocals intertwined

perfectly. And for how long the

track is, it keeps you invested for its entire

length, as do many of the others. There can’t

be said enough about lead producer Jon

Brion and the way he executed and utilized

the recordings Mac left behind to create 12

songs where nothing feels missing. Brion

obviously didn’t have the most to work with,

shown by the long stretches of instrumental

on tracks such as Woods and I Can See. And

although there are many pauses in the lyrics,

Brion’s impeccable production seems to

tie everything together to create an album

that feels complete. It’s not clear whether

Mac intended to include features on Circles,

but it can be applauded that Brion and the

producers did not employ features from

other artists to fill the empty space, but rather

just let their production do the talking.

Additionally, each song seems to flow into

the next as if the album actually does have

a beginning and end, rather than it just feeling

like a compilation of songs that Mac left

behind. As for flaws within the album, there

isn’t much to be said that can’t be attributed

to the tragedy that occurred when it was

originally in production. Every song does

indeed sound pretty similar without a wide

range of sounds, but that likely coincides

with what Mac envisioned for the album,

and it honestly works. And the argument

can be made that the solely instrumental areas

stretch the album out unnecessarily, but

the basically flawless mixing and production

doesn’t make it feel that way.

The cover of Circles

courtesy of wikipedia

With Circles, Mac Miller delivers an album

that, while doesn’t have the most diverse

tracklist, excels in exactly it is trying

to do. Serving as a second half to Miller’s

last album, Swimming, Circles is characterized

by its distinct smooth sound

which can be heard on every track. Led by

Jon Brion, the production on the album

is the backbone which holds all 12 tracks

together. Brion’s effort to finish what Mac

started certainly cemented Miller’s legacy

within the hip-hop genre. Considering

the fact that its lead visionary tragically

passed away before he could complete

it, it’s amazing to hear how genuine the

album sounds, and it is truly one of the

best posthumous musical tributes we’ve

seen in recent memory.

“My secret valentine is

myself, *chef’s kiss*”

- Brandon Nguyen, 12

“What if I fall asleep

right now?”

- Catherine Lim, 10

“I’ve realized that people can see me

when I walk down the hallway and that

I exist outside of my own perception.”

- Emily Livingston, 12

“I don’t know...

look it up.”

- Lyric Kier, 9



“The only building you leave but

never enter is the hospital you

are born in.”

- Ian McDuffie, 12

“‘I fell into a hole while

walking this morning.”

- Madeline Flickinger, 11 “When I looked up one

“What if making a wish at 11:11 actually

works but there’s one person

who’s making a wsh for everyone’s

wishes to not come true...”

- Ankisha Singh, 12

day and saw that we

don’t have a roof...”

- Aneesh Reddy, 11

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