Outlook December Digital Magazine








In-depth stories following the Covid-19 Pandemic

The official newsmagazine

of Oakton High School.

Find more inside.









dec 2020











































coronavirus indepth


school reopenings

state’s going back into lockdown

COVID long haulers

the role of government in coronavirus spread

global economic impact of COVID

COVID vaccines


the death of alex trebek

the spread of misinformation

president-elect biden & potential cabinent members

kamala harris elected vice president


biden’s 100 day plan

voter suppression and gerrymandering

the history of political division in the US

trump’s refusal to concede


oakton minds matter Q+A

online vs in-person students

student hopes for the new year

things to do in DC


the grammy awards coverage

fun and COVID-safe winter activities

spider-man: miles morales review

no nuance november

all american’s new season

holiday celebrations in 2020

cry hard movies


school sports calendar

oakton winter sports

athletes staying active

why the NBA will lose millions in the upcoming



comparing biden and obama

how the pandemic will create the next tech boom

why the 9 to 5 work schedule is outdated

ranking books read in english class

photo courtesty of anderson wozny


editors in chief

editorial board


sahithi jammulamadaka

zoe sauger

payton wozny

aubrey harrell

charlie williams

haley longfellow

shevany moharir

veronica preaskorn

eileen lincoln

claudia messina

sara boddie

elizabeth snyder


nour al-kaaby

anna allred

addison becker

portia dai

emma dennis

max dolinh

alicia ernst

lorne fowler

nathan henriques

serena hirani

lucy holt

tommy hunter

viraj khetan

katie le

aubrey leverett

harriet limkin

kartik mukalla

artin saadt

rania shah

anshul sreenvias

kaleb steele

ashley stewart

dilara vural

aidan whipp

katherine zevallos

The Oakton

Outlook is

the official

school newsmagazine


Oakton High



photo courtesty of

anderson wozny

photo courtesty of anderson wozny




Dear Oakton,

This issue has certainly been challenging as we’ve

all been working from a virtual classroom, so we are so

excited to finally share a digital magazine with everyone!

From stories about Biden’s 100 Day Plan (page 19) to the

highly-anticipated start of the Oakton winter sports season

(page 39), we have covered current events as big as national

news to as small as the Oakton Community.

For this issue, a group of staff members collaborated

to create an in-depth section dedicated to the coronavirus

pandemic and its world-wide impact. There’s content about

the role of the government in the spread of coronavirus,

COVID long haulers, and hope for the vaccines. You can

check it out starting on page 4. Additionally, our news

and politics sections have a plethora of stories about the

2020 presidential election with in-depth information about

President-Elect Biden and potential members of his cabinet

(page 17) and voter suppression in the United States (page

20 and 21).

The Oakton Outlook is always striving to be inclusive

of the study body. We are accepting written submission,

political cartoons, artwork, and photographs to hear student

voices. 2020 has certainly been chaotic, so we hope you

are finding some normalancy in your daily lives. We wish

everyone a happy holiday season; stay healthy and warm!


Zoe Sauger

Sahithi Jammulamadaka

Payton Wozny


check us out online:


Instagram & Twitter:


illustration by sophia bywater



The deadly disease

that has taken over

the world

SARS-CoV-2, more commonly known as

the coronavirus, has taken over 2020. What

began in March as a two week period to social

distance and “flatten the curve” has turned

into an ongoing nine-month-long period of staying

at home, wearing masks, and social distancing.

Since March it has been a difficult period of

In that seemingly dark moment, the world came

together to help each other up during this difficult

time. Together they baked banana bread,

did home workouts, learned TikTok dances, and

got acquainted with Zoom. We checked in with

friends and family around the world and used

the internet in creative and unique ways to support

each other. This time has shown us how capable

and strong we are in the face of adversity.

Coupled with the good, unfortunately, we have

also experienced immeasurable losses. As cases

grow around the world, and more specifically

in America, it has taken a toll on the mental

and physical health of many. Healthcare workers

are risking their lives in hospitals every

day to take care of patients and are taking on a

huge responsibility during this difficult time.

Right now, the number of coronavirus cases are increasing

exponentially by the day. In a time when

the people called for unification, coronavirus has

become a political talking point, polarizing the

country more than ever. While some are fighting

to stay alive, others are fighting to wear a mask,

putting us in a dark place as we enter the winter.

In this in-depth section, the Outlook will report,

comment, and discuss the status and extensive

impact of COVID-19. We will be addressing the

response from Fairfax County Public Schools,

going back into lockdown, the long and adverse

effects of the disease, the role of government

and politics on the virus, and the immense

global and economic effects.We hope you are

staying safe during this unprecedented time.

sahithi jammulamadaka | editor-in-chief

photos courtesy of ashkan forouzani on unsplash

6 7 December 2020

Back to school... and out


Understanding the extended school cancellation

as COVID numbers spike

It sometimes seems like yesterday when the call came in to

close FCPS. The general student excitement at the cancellation,

which at the time looked like a two week vacation,

quickly melted as those two weeks turned into two months,

and then three, and so on. As quarantine continued into

November, FCPS superintendent Scott Brabrand announced

a hesitant plan to bring elementary school students back to

in-person learning. This announcement was followed closely

by a massive spike in COVID numbers across the country,

forcing it to be retracted.

Obviously, the virtual option has not always been ideal.

Certain students have disabilities that make such a learning

environment unsuitable. Working parents now have the task of

watching their kids after school, a job previously reserved for

school-run care programs. Teachers themselves were forced

to reinvent their curriculums and ways of teaching when the

pandemic first hit, and the pre-COVID classroom setting

might never be quite the same again as a result. Despite those

complications, the issues of health and safety remain, and

in-person learning is still deemed too dangerous to attempt on

a large scale.

With a new back-to-school date of January 4th, it’s time to

step back and understand what’s going on. John Krizel, an

Oakton history teacher, gave his take on the process.

As an educator, how did you feel about the initial push to

start getting certain kids back into school?

Getting students back into school is such a tricky issue, with

so many moving parts, and so many different stakeholders.

Teachers, students, parents, the superintendent, the school

board, the community as a whole: all of these groups might

want different things at different times, and no one is ever going

to be 100% happy. With that said, the evidence that we’ve

seen so far with schools reopening during the pandemic is that

there have not been as many outbreaks as some feared, which

is great! The problem is that we are now entering a new phase

of the pandemic, where the number of daily cases is climbing

higher and higher as the weeks go by. The US has set a new

record for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19

every day for the last two weeks. So clearly, the data that we

have about how much schools are spreading the virus are

insufficient to guide us on what to do next. I was happy when

FCPS tried to start getting kids back in, and I think it’s smart

that they’ve paused that in light of what we’re seeing now.

“The problem is that we are

now entering a new phase of

the pandemic, where the number

of daily cases is climbing

higher and higher as the weeks

go by.” -Mr. Krizel

Do you feel that keeping FCPS closed is the right, safe decision

in light of the spiking COVID numbers?

It’s really, really important to note that we cannot evaluate any

of the decisions FCPS is making in a vacuum. The pandemic has

been catastrophically mismanaged by our federal government

from the beginning. There has been an absence of leadership on

the part of our president and our Congress. The last COVID-19

relief package was signed into law on March 27, and since then

there has been no assistance to states, local governments, or

businesses to help them weather the economic and social impact

of the pandemic.

Fairfax County and the state of Virginia can only do so much to

both protect their citizens from the virus and help keep businesses

and schools open on their own (to say nothing of the fact that

millions and millions of Americans live in poverty, face food

insecurity, and may be evicted from their homes if help is not

forthcoming). State and local governments across the country are

faced with a quandary: they know that restaurants, bars, gyms,

and other non-school businesses have been the key spreaders

of the virus, but without another relief package from the federal

government, those businesses have to stay open (albeit in a limited

capacity) or they’ll fail. If Congress and the president got their

act together and passed another relief package, those businesses

could close for a period of time, helping us to get the pandemic

under control and making it safer for schools to reopen.

I know that people want someone to blame for why their kids

are not back at school. I’m oversimplifying here, and I know that

FCPS could have handled this better, but the fact that schools are

closed now is not the teachers’ fault, it’s not Oakton’s fault, it’s

not Dr. Brabrand’s fault, and it’s not Governor Northam’s fault. It

is the federal government’s fault. Their inaction is shocking and

criminal, and it is the reason we will probably stay closed for the

foreseeable future.

How was the news that we would remain virtual broken to

Oakton teachers? Do you know the faculty’s overall reaction

to the news?

Mrs. Lane and the administration at Oakton have a very difficult

job this year, more so than ever before. They are receiving

tons of input from so many different places, and new directives

from the county are coming in on a weekly (sometimes daily)

basis. They have to analyze and interpret these directives and

then accurately convey the information to the teachers, students,

and parents. Whenever there have been lapses in communication

or confusing messages coming from different places, they receive

a flood of questions from the community. In the face of all of this,

they are doing a great job, and they deserve more credit. I can’t

speak for the faculty as a whole, but I know I appreciate all of

their hard work.

“They have to analyze and interpret

these directives and then

accurately convey the information

to the teachers, students,

and parents.”

Some teachers have health complications like asthma and diabetes,

and are thus at a higher risk concerning COVID. Did

this knowledge influence your reaction to the developments in

virtual learning at all?

All of this is different for me, since I do have an underlying

medical condition that puts me at greater risk of severe complications

from the coronavirus. I was pretty secure in the knowledge

that I would be remaining at home all year since last summer.

I really feel for the teachers and students who are in a kind of

limbo, unsure of when or whether they will go back in. I especially

feel for the teachers who have registered their desire to stay

home, but do not have an underlying medical condition, like I

do. Many of those teachers will be forced to either go back in to

school once we reopen, or take an unpaid leave of absence. And

many students are really, really struggling with virtual learning,

and need to be back in school as soon as possible. Those teachers

and students are the ones I am most concerned about, and why

I’m (obviously) really hoping that we can get the pandemic under

control as soon as possible.

charlie williams|staff writer

Virginia photo courtesy of wiki commons

COVID photos courtesy of pixabay



tommy hunter| staff writer


What this means for Oakton

The pandemic was a shock for most Americans, but the

lockdowns and safety motions that followed were even

more surprising. In late July and early August, when

most states lifted their stay-at-home orders; most Americans

thought they were done staying at home. Still, with the recent

surge in coronavirus cases, many states are going back into


November has been the worst month on the pandemic so far,

and states like California and Pennsylvania have pushed for

stay at home orders and curfews. At the same time, Oregon

and Chicago have taken steps back in the reopening process

by closing Indoor Dining. These changes are due to the recent

“second wave” of COVID-19 cases, and more states are expected

to follow.

With more than 221 thousand cases in Virginia and 28 thousand

cases in Fairfax County, COVID-19 is a big problem

in Virginia. Many have wondered how these lockdowns will

affect Virginia, and more importantly, how it will affect Oakton’s

reopening plan. As of late November, Fairfax County

public schools are still planned to open completely by late

January; however, the surge in the Covid-19 cases in the area

might change this plan.

why he, and his family, chose this decision, and he stated


“My mom has some Asthma, and my dad has pre-existing

conditions as well. I mean i wanted to go, but if i had to chose

between my parents, and myself - i would chose my parents.”

I also asked Charles when he thought it would be safe to go

back to school full time, and this is what he had to say.

“I think it’ll be safe either when the vaccine comes out, or

when the governers, or the government say its okay to come


Charles is only one of the millions of students in the United

States choosing to stay at home for fear of coronavirus. Many

schools that have opened have closed once again, for example,

the New York City public schools. They opened, but after

the coronavirus surged, they decided to close once again.

Charles Taylar (grade 10), a highschool student at Albemarle

high school. His school has already opened for hybrid learning,

but he and his family decided to stay online. I asked him

Many people are worried about the coronavirus and what it

will bring. For many, it can mean poverty and death. So the

closure of many states is a significant cause of concern for

many people. Now, maybe more than ever, it is vital to stay

safe and stop the spread.

left photo courtesy of goya maria, anna

right photo courtesty of photos, macua

9 December 2020


Covid affects some people for more than a few

weeks and can have dangerous effects

nathan henriques|staff writer


Louisville, Kentucky resident was at work when she felt a sharp chest pain. Over the course of five months, she had 16 Emergency

Room trips and 3 hospitalizations, and now she can’t remember many things. She blames Covid-19 and considers herself to be a

long hauler. Long haulers include two groups of people affected by the virus: those who experience some permanent damage to

their lungs, heart, kidneys, or brain that may affect their ability to function and those who continue to experience debilitating symptoms

despite no detectable damage to these organs.

What are the symptoms that commonly


The most common symptoms are fatigue, body

aches, shortness or breath, headaches, difficulty

concentrating, difficulty sleeping, and inability to

exercise. With the disease so young, it is hard to

tell what the long-term effects will be, and experts

have no information on long-term recovery rates.

photo courtesy of sj obijo on unsplash

How common are lingering symptoms?

Long haulers of Covid-19 victims become drowsy, exhausted, and

feel like their brain is a fog. Tens of thousands of people in the US

are considered long haulers. And in the UK they are called ‘long

COVID’. Surveys conducted by patient groups indicate that 50%

to 80% of patients continue to have bothersome symptoms three

months after the onset of COVID-19 — even after tests no longer

detect virus in their body.

Who is more likely to fall victim and become

a long hauler?

As of now, it is not possible to accurately predict. In

a recent article from Science Notes.org, people who

are slightly affected by COVID still have lingering

symptoms while people who are severely ill are

back to normal quickly. However, we do know that

people over the age of 50 and people with chronic

illnesses are more likely to have continued symptoms.

Dr. Fauci, physician who serves as the director

of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious

Diseases, thinks many people who experience

damage to their organs will develop a condition

called myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue

syndrome aka ME/CFS. ME/CFS can also trigger

other infectious illnesses.

Covid long haulers are more common than people

think, and anybody is susceptible. It can also lead

to other infectious diseases, so if you are still having

symptoms of COVID months later be on the



Government effect on the spread of Covid 19

2020 has been a difficult year for students

across the world. For the entirety

of students’ school careers,

they have been going to school every day

of the week for several weeks on end, patiently

waiting for the summer to finally roll

around so they could catch a break. However,

summer came early this year and posed

a lot more challenges than usual with the

arrival of covid 19. Virtually no one has experienced

a pandemic of this magnitude in

their lifetime which led to an increasingly

large panic throughout the world. Covid-19

brought several new challenges, such as

closed borders, small businesses shutting

down, and a large portion of the population

left with no way to continue their studies.

In this time of crisis, many countries looked

towards their leaders for information and

how to handle the situation, however,

America’s current federal staff left many

fearful for the months to come.

When considering government effectiveness

relating to the pandemic, separation of

powers must be considered. Although the

federal government has authority over the

states, the state governments rule their

states directly and should be given more

credit for the effectiveness or ineffectiveness

of the states’ containment of the virus.

“Many states have done well - with limited

resources and unclear guidance from the

better-funded federal government - with

Governors having regular, informative,

fact-based briefings,” Explains Mr. Clark,

an AP U.S. History teacher at Oakton. “The

states have been limited in their effectiveness

by the near abandonment of the federal

government, which normally coordinates

national emergencies. They were left in a

sort of “Hunger Games” to fight for PPE

(personal protective equipment) for their

states’ citizens on the open market, which

led to inefficiencies and price-gouging.”

On a state level, many governments did as

much as they could to keep their case numbers

from rising and have provided effective

mandates of their own, such as the face

mask mandate in Virginia. For most of July

through September, the effectiveness of the

states began to prove themselves with lower

cases nationwide.

However, with events like the election, the

cases began to rise again and eventually

surpass the original spike over the summer

- this can be attributed to the example set

by the federal government and the political

and social division of America created

by the president. “The President seems to

have pressured many of the heretofore science-based

agencies (Centers for Disease

Control) to promote policies that downplayed

the virus, in an attempt to ‘open up

the economy’” states Mr. Clark. Trump’s

main focus during his presidency has been

on bettering and maintaining the economy,

so it came as no surprise when his attitudes

towards handling the pandemic were heavily

influenced by his economic motives.

During his presidential campaign the president

set many examples that promoted

the spread of the virus. The president held

many rallies and at most of these rallies,

proper covid 19 protocols were blatantly

ignored such as the wearing of masks.

Many thought that the president would start

taking the virus more seriously after he contracted

it in early October, but unfortunately,

the president brushed it off and continued

his campaigning, tweeting out, “Totally


Negative China Virus Reports. Hit it early

and hard. Fake News is devastated. They

are very bad (and sick!) people!” Not only

does this demonstrate to his followers that

the virus is no big deal, but it also promotes

a sense of racism towards those of Chinese

backgrounds, indirectly blaming them for

the virus. Overall, Trump’s attitudes and set

examples towards the virus have influenced

a portion of the population to believe that

the virus isn’t as serious as the health officials

are making it out to be, causing neglect

of covid 19 protocols and furthering

the spread of the disease.

With a vaccine on the way, many Americans

are hopeful that this pandemic will

finally come to an end. However, although

the case numbers may begin to finally go

down, the pandemic will surely influence

everyday interactions. “The effects, outside

of any poor federal response, will lead to at

least a year of reduced economic activity

(i.e. flying less, dining out less, attending

fewer mass events) and ongoing psychological

trauma for many people,” resolves

Mr. Clark. Additionally, people may continue

to wear masks in public long after the

pandemic is over and forms of greeting,

such as handshakes, and in other countries

kisses on the cheek, may start to become

less popular. “Sadly though, the politicization

of the virus by President Trump has led

to people not voting via mail ballots; not

wearing masks (which led to further cases/deaths);

doubting the legitimacy of the

news coming from our scientific community,

which will lead to less vaccine usage

and more damage,” all of which have the

potential to divide our country even more.

But political views aside, it is in the best interest

of everyone to follow these protocols

put in place by the state and local governments

to bring an end to the rising cases of

this virus, regardless of whether or not the

virus will have a personal effect.

claudia messina | staff writer

photo courtesy of the FDA

11 December 2020



COVID-19’s effect on 4 major economy’s

nour al-kaaby|staff writer

The United States have failed both public

health and their economy. With the unemployment

rates jumping to 13.5% this summer, and

stimulus checks taking a toll, the economy

shrank at a 32.9% annual rate. The USA being

the slowest to lockdown and acknowledge the

virus, also being the country with the highest

COVID-19 cases, it isn’t a surprise the U.S.

had it this bad. It’s recorded to make history as

the deepest decline on record.

China has just about got back to their 6% growth

rate. Their unemployment rates steady at an

unofficial 3.5% (officially 2.5%). China reacted

quickly to the virus leaving much more time for

the economy to boom. The chinese government

had protective measures that wiped the virus

almost completely. China’s imports have grown

13.2% than the year earlier.

Most of the world struggles with the

economy during the pandemic, while

some show promising rebounds. With

international trade slowing, factories closing, and

small business coming to an end we see a major

shift in the economy.We see countries trying to balance

public health and their economy. Economists

predicting global growth will fall 4.9%. With all

these factors in mind some countries were still able

to have a swift recovery, or little to no repercussions

at all. We’ll be looking at 5 different countries and

their economies during this global crisis.

Russia is to have a ‘deep recession’ according

to the World Bank. With their growth

expected to shrink 6% Russia is at its lowest

point in 11 years. Russia is expected to have

a slow recovery in 2021-2022. Even worse

Russian crude oil prices drop 53% taking a

toll on their economy. Russia also begins to

see a steep rise in unemployment. Its economy

is expected to shrink 5% before showing

any growth in 2021.

New Zealand also seeing a record

low ‘The worst recession is years’

describes BBC news. The country’s GDP

shrinking 12.2% April-June as lockdown

borders were enforced. New Zealand being

seemingly the fastest to get rid of the virus has

faced huge repercussions from the enforced

lockdown. Retail, transportation, and restaurant

industries have faced significant declines manufacturing

at 25.8% and 13% respectively. While

the prime minister enforced lockdown that only

allowed 25 deaths and fewer than 2,000 cases,

the repercussions from the month lockdown

will last years.


13 December 2020


The innovation, production, and distribution of the

Covid-19 vaccines.

With the pandemic entering its 12th month, global demand for a vaccine is at an all time high. The

need for a cure is only becoming more dire as cases and deaths rise in concurrence with colder

weather and the holiday season, but hope is on the horizon. Vaccines from biotechnology companies

Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are in the final stages of testing and certification. The U.S. government

has already ordered 200 million vaccines, and Vice President Mike Pence has said that distribution may

begin as early as the third week of December.


The U.S. has also ordered 100 million doses from Moderna, and will likely use

them to supplement the Pfizer vaccine in the earliest stages of distribution.

Having multiple vaccines in the field is a good thing. According to Margaret

Liu, board chair of the International Society for Vaccines, “Just by sheer numbers, we

probably need multiple, multiple vaccines.” Moderna has submitted their request for

an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, and is in the same process with foriegn

agencies. Moderna’s vaccine only needs to be kept at about -4 degrees fahrenheit

while maintaining an efficacy of 94.5%, meaning that the vaccine doesn’t need anything

beyond normal freezers. That’s a significant advantage compared to the Pfizer

vaccine. Moderna’s vaccine did show more severe side effects than Pfizer’s, including

fatigue, joint pain, and pain at the injection site, but all of those symptoms proved to

be short lived.


Will Oakton students get the vaccine?

poll from 121 students

zoe sauger | editor-in-chief

anna allred | staff writer

Pfizer owns the only vaccine which has gotten a go-ahead from any regulatory

agencies. The UK approved it for use on December 1st, and administered the

first doses on December 8th. The FDA has indicated that the Pfizer vaccine meets

their criteria for emergency authorization, and the paperwork could go through as early

as the 12th. Pfizer’s vaccine was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 across race,

age, and gender demographics, and showed limited side-effects, with the most severe

reports being headache and fatigue. That’s incredible news for a world besieged by

the virus for so long, but it may not be a cure-all in every sense. There are likely to be

issues with distribution.

The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at -76 to -112 degrees fahrenheit. Those are temperatures

found in Antarctica. Unfortunately, they aren’t temperatures often found in

doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics, or the trucks that will transport the virus. Pfizer has engineered

their own insulating containers, affectionately nicknamed “pizza boxes”, that

employ dry ice to keep the vaccine cold, but distribution could still present a challenge.

People employed by cold chains networks that distribute refrigerated vaccines around

the world aren’t used to handling such cold temperatures. Mistakes and delays in distribution

could cost lives. But necessary workers of all stripes have rallied through the

pandemic to establish new practices and systems, and Pfizer is “confident in [their]...

existing cold-chain infrastructure to distribute the vaccine around the world.” The United

States has pre-purchased 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for a whopping

$1.95 billion, and distribution could start as soon as the FDA approves it for use.

The AstraZeneca vaccine made quite a splash when it was released on November

23. The Dow Jones Industrial Average set an all time record the next day by

clearing 30,000 points. However, it may be awhile before we see the AstraZeneca

vaccine on the shelf. The 90% efficacy rate, combined with the fact that the vaccine can

be kept viable for at least 6 months at the temperature of your average refrigerator, are

exciting numbers. Unfortunately, they’re the result of a mistake. A hired company administering

the vaccine in the clinical trials made a mistake and gave half doses instead

of full. The half doses turned out to be more effective (90% compared to 62%), but those

results weren’t up to scientific snuff. AstraZeneca will likely have to run further studies

to prove that the half dose really works, which could mean that it’s months before the

vaccine becomes available to the public.

What’s next?


The big question that many people are attempting to understand is,

when will the vaccine be administered? The United Kingdom and The

United States are both taking leaps and strides with the vaccine, hopefully

jabbing many with scientific juice before the end of 2020. However,

there will need to be an order of who will get the vaccine when. The United

States program, Operation Warp Speed, which includes the Department of

Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, announced that

the federal government will produce a centralized format of distribution of

the vaccine. They plan to have healthcare workers receive the vaccine first,

followed by the elderlu who live in long term nursing homes, then the 87 million

essential workers which states will determine who falls in that category.

The goal is for the vaccine to be administered to all individuals by spring

2021. The major issue, although, is that many people will not be willing to

partake in the vaccine which would prevent the hope of mass immunization.

Many individuals are concerned with the rush of the vaccines and worry of

side-effects unnoticed from the dash to an approval. Overall, the plans for the

administration of a vaccine change daily and must be taken with patience.




Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek

passes away from Pancreatic

cancer at age 80

shevany moharir|editorial board


Early last month on November

8, longtime gameshow host,

Alex Trebek, passed away at

his Los Angeles home at the age of

80 after an almost two year battle

with pancreatic cancer. In a statement

shared by the Jeopardy! Twitter account,

the show’s crew announced

“Jeopardy! is saddened to share that

Alex Trebek passed away peacefully

at home early this morning, surrounded

by family and friends. Thank you,

Alex.” The news came as a shock to

several lifelong Jeopardy! fans who

have watched Trebek continue to host

the show despite his health concerns.

In fact, Trebek was working and filming

episodes until October 29, just

two weeks short of his death. His incredible

work ethic and tremendous

prowess are what are going to make

saying goodbye to this legendary man

such a heartache.

The Ontario, Canada native has

hosted Jeopardy! for 37 seasons since

its revival in 1984, with a career spanning

almost five decades. He has received

numerous awards for the show

including seven Emmy Awards and a

Peabody Award. Trebek has also been

recognized for his contribution to geography

education, earning him the

Royal Candadian Geographical Society’s

gold medal for hosting the Great

Canadian Geography Challenge and

the National Geographic Bee.

Beyond his broadcasting career,

Alex Trebek was also an active member

of numerous charities, with his

philanthropy extending to organizations

such as World Vision Canada

and Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission.

Though his loss may leave a

gaping hole in the millions of hearts

he touched, his impact will not be forgotten.

Several former contestants have

shown their support for the late

Jeopardy! host, notably Ken Jennings

who not only holds the record

for the longest running streak on the

show, 74 consecutive wins, but is

also the highest earning American

game show contestant of all time. In

his Tweet following shortly after the

announcement of Trebek’s passing,

Jennings writes “Alex wasn’t just the

best ever at what he did. He was also

a lovely and deeply decent man, and

I’m grateful for every minute I got to

spend with him.” Other contestants

such as James Holzhauer and Brad

Rutter have shown support and well

wishes for the game show host, a true

testament to his character and love for


photo courtesy of pixy.org

Though the presence of someone

like Alex Trebek is one that can never

be replaced, there are still many

questions that fans have as to what

the fate of Jeopardy! will be. Before

his passing, Trebek had taped pre recorded

episodes which will continue

to air up until the end of the year. Jennings,

who also serves as the show’s

consulting producer, will be used as

interim host and began taping episodes

on November 30, and he will

continue to do so until a permanent

host is decided on by the Jeopardy!

staff. Until then, fans can continue to

watch Alex Trebek on Jeopardy! until

his final episode airs, but his memory

will remain in the lives he touched


15 December 2020



How the internet is creating more chaos in 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic

payton wozny | editor-in-chief

In the Era of Information, technology allows for easy access to information for many people

all across the world. Breaking news can be shared and spread thousands of times in

minutes. Unfortunately, the ability to share content quickly opens the door for the speedy

spread of misleading or false information. With events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the

United States 2020 Presidential Election, dangerous misinformation has spread on a larger

scale than ever, and has contributed to the chaos that has been 2020 and increased polarization

in the U.S.

photo adapted from Needpix.

There has been widespread cover of coronavirus across the world for the majority of 2020;

the rush to enter the news cycle by news organizations and individuals sharing their 2 cents of

the matter on social media has all contributed to the massive amount of content about COVID

online. The voices of scientists and medical professionals are drained out by all the noise

surrounding this issue allowing for inaccurate information about masks, social distancing,

vaccines, etc. to grow. As election night came closer, COVID-19 became a political weapon

fueled by misinformation for the benefit of a political agenda and winning an election. All of

this, inevitably, has contributed to the growing number of cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations,

deaths, and has prevented effective containment of the virus.

photo adapted

from lauren manninen.


adapted from josh sorosky.

United States 2020 Presidential Election

During campaigning, we saw the weaponization of media manipulation surrounding COVID

as a political statement to win votes. In weeks leading up to the election, we saw misleading

information about voting options and the integrity of the election being shared on platforms like

Twitter. Despite the end of the election, false information about the results of the election were

still being shared. Even after President-Elect Joe Biden being confirmed by the General Services

Administration (GSA), the integrity of the election was still being challenged by the Trump

Administration with factless claims of voter fraud in several swing states. It wasn’t until after

Biden was elected by the Electoral College that many Republicans, including Mitch McConnell,

acknowledged Biden’s win. Disinformation campaigns surrounding the election before and after

November 3 have only furthered the political divide in the United States and will likely affect a

peaceful transfer of power in January.

Fortunately, earlier in the year, social media companies began to implement large-scale factors in an attempt to combat the spread

of fake news. Major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube shared links to resources about COVID-19

including the CDC on content mentioning the virus. Social media companies shared information about ways to register to vote

and issued warnings about potential misinformation about the U.S. election. As for now, it may still feel as though the country is

divided more than ever by polarization and misinformation, hopefully there is hope for a future with more responsible sharing and


16 17 December 2020




eileen lincoln|editorial board

secretary of defense

Currently, the selected candidate for the secretary

of defense is Lloyd Austin, a retired military

general who served as the 12th commander of the

United States Central Command. However, despite

his military experience, this nomination has raised

questions and concerns for many around the country.

Many believe that a civilian - rather than a retired

general - should be the person to lead the Pentagon.

Additionally, Austin retired from active duty only four

years ago, which would require a Congressional waiver

for him to be initiated into office. Overall, the pick for

this position should be someone who promises to bring

normalcy to the country’s national security, especially

after the past four years of the Trump administration.

However, whether or not Austin will effectively fill this

role or not is unsure of.

gen. lloyd austin

anthony blinken

Who will be Joe Biden’s primary

advisors in navigating this difficult

time for the United States?

Starting from his inauguration less than sixty days from now, president-elect

Joe Biden will have many pressing issues he will be

expected to solve as quickly as possible, even within the first few

months of his presidency. With the COVID-19 crisis, the plummeting

economy, and some of the highest unemployment rates the country has

ever faced, Joe Biden will be heading into office during a difficult time for

the United States; making his decisions for members of the cabinet and

other advisors more crucial than ever.

After over 36 years of being a government official, including serving in

the Senate and working alongside Barack Obama as vice-president, there

will be a large variety of individuals Joe Biden can choose for his cabinet.

However, it is necessary they properly fulfill his campaign promises. This

means guaranteeing he has a diverse cabinet: one with people of all different

ages, gender, races, and even political parties, in order to successfully

represent the entire United States. With Biden’s promises towards

a unified country - where he doesn’t see red state or blue state, but rather

the United States - it is important that his cabinet choices and other early

decisions into his presidency reflect those ideals.

Biden’s closest foreign policy advisor, Anthony Blinken,

has been chosen as the nominee for Secretary of State.

Anthony Bliken has much experience in foreign policy:

working as the deputy Secretary of State for President

Obama, and serving as a part of the State Department

during the Clinton administration. During these times,

he primarily worked on targeting political instability

throughout the Middle East, in countries such as Egypt,

Iraq, Syria and Libya. This nominee seemed to be a safe

choice for Joe Biden, since due to Blinken’s past credentials

in the foreign policy world, he will play a crucial

role in the country’s competition with China and collaboration

with other world leaders. Jake Sullivan is projected

to be National Security Advisor for Biden’s new cabinet,

who will work alongside Blinken.

secretary of state

photo courtesy of flaticon.com

secretary of education

secretary of energy

Throughout his entire campaign, Biden has repeatedly stated his beliefs on the

importance of education: with his wife Jill Biden even being a teacher herself.

Therefore, he is committed to making his Secretary of Education someone with

vast educational experience, who can fully understand the struggles within the

classroom and find effective strategies to combat them. This has made Lily

Eskelsen Garcia, an elementary school teacher from Utah and former president of

the National Education Association, a leading contender for this role. A few other

candidates for the Secretary of Education include Randi Weingarten, president

of the American Federation of Teachers, and Linda Darling-Hammond, president

and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute.

Following his failure to be re-elected in the state of Alabama, Senator Doug Jones

has been widely speculated to be the next attorney general for Joe Biden. Throughout

his time as a federal prosecutor, he has worked on numerous civil rights cases:

one of his largest achievements including the prosecution of two Ku Klux Klan

members involved with the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. However,

he is expected to have much competition for this role, such as with Democratic

National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. Tom Perez served as an attorney

general for civil rights prior to being appointed by Barack Obama for Secretary

of Labor. Another possible candidate for Secretary of Justice includes Sally Yates,

former deputy attorney in the Obama administration.

photo courtesy of flaticon.com

photo courtesy of flaticon.com

Nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, who worked as President Obama’s energy

secretary, has aided the Biden campaign on climate issues for the past few years.

Yet, for climate activists around the country - those who voted for Joe Biden

solely to see him make change on reducing the effects of climate change - this

potential nominee may be a bit worrisome. Ernest Moniz has many links to the

fossil fuel industry, and is even a director for Southern Company. Another potential

individual for this role includes Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, former deputy

secretary of energy for the Obama administration and White House coordinator

for defense policy.

Compared to the Trump administration’s leading health officials, primarily composed of

white, male individuals, Joe Biden is planning to include many more women and people

of color within his team to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and create an effective healthcare

plan. For Secretary of Health and Human Services, Biden has chosen California

Attorney General Xavier Becerra, which would make him the first Latino person to hold

this position. Becerra has vast experience not only in the healthcare world, but has advised

the Biden administration in the past for successful strategies to combat COVID-19. He is

a primary defender for the Affordable Care Act, has made numerous other efforts to cut

healthcare costs, and is even a strong supporter of the reproductive health movement.

secretary of justice

photo courtesy of flaticon.com

secretary of health & human services

ashley stewart|staff writer


A dive into how Harris became an inspiration


On November 7th, It was announced that Kamala Harris

will be making history as the first Black and South-Asian

female Vice President-elect. But Harris is not new to being

the first

Kamala Harris comes from an Indian mother and a Jamaican

father. Her single mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, worked as a

cancer researcher and was a civil rights activist. Harris has made

it clear that her mother played a prominent role in her life and

dedicates her success to her mother, who passed away on February

11, 2009, from colon cancer.

Kamala got her start by getting her undergraduate degree from

Howard University, a historically black college. And she further

her education by attending the University of California for her law


photo courtesy of wikipedia commons

photo courtesy of unspalsh

At the beginning of her career, she worked in the Alameda County District

Attorney’s Office. Then following that she was elected the first African-American

woman to be California’s, Attorney General. She has made significant

impacts by supporting marriage equality, defending climate change

laws in California, supported the Affordable Care Act, and brought criminal

charges to gangs that dealt with human trafficking, guns, and drugs.

Following her time as California’s Attorney General, she became the first

South Asian-American to be in the Senate back in 2017. In the Senate, she

advocated for the underrepresented and strived for equality among all.

When she made her victory speech in Wilmington, she reached out to the

people of America who fought for equality, justice, and the truth from the

past months. Harris inspired hope for the future of America. But she also

acknowledges “the generations of women — Black women, Asian, White,

Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation’s history have

paved the way for this moment tonight“.

It’s no wonder that she has become an inspiration to women. Harris has

paved a road for future generations of women to follow. She has shown

young girls that they can take positions of power and lead society to success.

Not only is her being the Vice President-elect a major step for women, but

also supports people of color to be represented in our government.

19 December 2020 POLITICS


President-Elect Joe Biden shares what he plans to

accomplish during his first 100 days in office

addison becker | staff writer

One of President-elect Biden’s top priorities is to implement

the COVID-19 Task Force which will be led by Dr.

David Kessler. Biden said, “The advisory board will help

shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections;

ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently,

equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.” Another

top priority will be to push COVID-19 legislation which will aid

Americans during this challenging time. This includes canceling

at least $10,000 student debt for all, making COVID-19 testing

more available, and producing more personal protective equipment.

In addition, Kamala Harris intends to found the COVID-19

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force. Furthermore, Biden

prepares to implement a vaccine distribution plan that will spend

$25 billion on vaccine production and distribution. Finally, Biden

will rejoin America into the World Health Organization to help

further fight COVID-19. “100 days to execute everything Biden

laid out is very ambitious and it will definitely be a challenge to

do so, especially if the Republicans have the Senate. He made

a lot of promises during his campaign so his 100-day plan is a

good way for him to keep those promises,” Oakton senior, Emily

Chen said regarding Biden. She continued, “As for the actual

plan, I like everything Biden plans to do regarding COVID-19.”


Within the first few days of his presidency, Biden plans to reverse

Trump’s tax cuts on corporations and raise corporate income taxes

back up to 28%. Biden hopes to start implementing his proposed

tax plan that will not raise taxes on Americans making less than

$400,000 a year. Additionally, his administration has been pushing

his “Made in America” Plan which will create 5 million jobs

through investments. The government will spend $400 billion on

buying companies and $300 billion on research and development.


Joe Biden has said he will reenter the Paris Climate Accord in the

first few days of his presidency. Furthermore, he plans to commence

his $2 Trillion Climate Plan, which includes the Clean Energy Plan

that aims to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the Environmental

Justice Plan which will support communities that are

disproportionately affected by the implications of climate change.

Health Care

One of Biden’s main campaigning issues was to expand

the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. With

the help of congress, he hopes to pass legislation that will

initiate the creation of a new public healthcare option.


Within the first 100 days in office, Joe Biden says

he will invest in higher education, like community

colleges, and he vows to ensure teacher pay is adequate.

Foreign Policy

Within the first 100

days, Biden will start

to plan an international

summit among democratic

leaders to discuss

ways to fight corruption

and authoritarian

practices and expand

basic human rights. He

also hopes to hold a

Climate World Summit

with world leaders to

discuss the importance

and implications of

climate change. However,

COVID-19 may

delay the occurence

of these summits.

photo courtesy of gayatri malhotra on



Biden has said he will

expand the Voting Rights Act. He also has vowed to reform the

police, after the protests raising awareness about the major racial

injustices occurring in our country. The administration plans

to put $300 million into community policing measures and create

a National Police Oversight Commission. Additional legislation

includes pushing Congress to Pass SAFE Justice Act

which will reduce the minimum sentencing for nonviolent crimes


President-elect Biden plans to pass an executive order that will

reunite families that were separated at the U.S. Mexico border.

Additionally, he will “immediately rescind” Trump’s executive

order that bans travelers from some Muslim majority

countries. Finally, Biden will take away funding from

building the wall, which was one of Triump’s main issues

during his campaign. However, Biden does not plan to remove

any of the current 25 miles of wall that is still standing.

20 21 December 2020


Voting isn’t as easy as casting your ballot - especially

during a pandemic sahithi jammulamadaka | editor-in-chief


Gerrymandering is when electoral district boundaries

are manipulated to favor one political party. In thirty-five

states, state legislators control how the lines are drawn and

they can use this to their advantage. Gerrymandering is one

of the main ways that the system can be used to undermine

the political powers of minorities and use them as a way to

gain a partisan advantage. Here is how it’s possible:

50 people

Figure 1

America has always boasted itself as the oldest and best democracy in the world. In this country, one of the

best and easiest ways to make your voice heard is to vote. “You can’t complain if you didn’t vote” is a common

phrase among frequent voters, but rooted in this idea of fair elections is the untold story of widespread

voter suppression. The voting experience of an upper-middle-class white male in New York City is drastically different

from a black woman in rural Texas. Not every vote is treated the same and that can be seen from the systematic

hoops that certain communities have to jump through, just to do the simple act of voting. So, this begs the question:

how fair is the American electoral system?

Digital Voter Suppression

It is well known that much of voter suppression is motivated by partisan interests. This is exacerbated in our current society,

which is largely defined by our online presence. Digital voter suppression is extremely harmful as it is so easy to target specific

groups of people, namely first-time voters who are low-income, less educated, and people of color. Posts on social media platforms

might tell voters the wrong day to vote or that the election is rigged, incentivizing them not to go cast their ballot. The

goal of these social media posts is not to convince people to vote one way or another, but not to vote at all.

During the 2020 election, people in key swing states, such as Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, were texted or called saying

that they could vote over text if they were first-time voters. This meant that uninformed voters might not have gone to polling

centers thinking they had already cast their ballot.

There were also mass registration misinformation campaigns. Bots online were telling people the wrong registration deadlines

and that they needed things like proof of citizenship or a birth certificate - none of which you need to register.

The pandemic, with the expansion of mail-in and absentee voting, added another level to digital suppression. There were

mass efforts to delegitimize mail-in and absentee voting on social media, which may have led people to not vote at all. President

Donald Trump played a big role in this. On August 11th, 2020 he tweeted “Mail-in ballots substantially increases the risk

of crime and VOTER FRAUD!” He convinced people that their ballot would not count if they submitted it by mail or early,

and many could not vote in-person on election day due to being high risk of coronavirus.

Physical Barriers

In 2020 there were many physical barriers that stopped people from voting or their votes from being counted. The pandemic

only exacerbated these concerns. The Trump administration made an active effort to stop mail-in votes from being counted.

Louis Dejoy (who is a Trump supporter) began to defund the USPS close to the elections, which made mail-in ballots take

longer to get to election offices.

Some states, such as Texas, didn’t allow the pandemic to be a reason to request a mail-in ballot which disenfranchised a large

population, and in states such as California, fake drop off ballots were put in the city.

There are also many cases where people fill out the absentee ballot or mail-in ballots incorrectly and are not sent them back.

Something as simple as a slightly unmatched signature could disqualify someone’s ballot. This was seen in Georgia where

Stacey Abrahms claims she lost in her Georgia gubernatorial election in 2018 because of this kind of voter suppression. It was

especially rampant in 2020 when mail-in and absentee ballots requests were high.

Let’s assume that there are 50 people in a small state. 30 of

them are a part of the blue party and 20 of them are a part

of the red party.

If we drew the lines vertically (figure 1) the state would

have 3 blue seats and 2 red seats which would be both fair

and compact as the founders intended.

If we drew the lines horizontally (figure 2) then the blue

party would win all 5 seats which wouldn’t be fair but it

would be compact.

But, there is a way that the red party can win more seats

in the state. If they drew the lines in odd enough shapes

(as shown in figure 3) then the red party wins 3 seats and

the blue party only wins 2, even though the blue party has

won the popular vote in the state. This is neither fair nor

compact and it is how most gerrymandering occurs across


Although both parties are guilty of gerrymandering it is

more likely to happen in Republican states, as they are less

likely to get the minority vote. For example in states like

Wisconsin and Ohio, Democrats won the popular vote but

won fewer seats in state elections due to gerrymandering.

In Maryland, Republicans won 37% of the vote but only

won ⅛ of the seats. This doesn’t just affect state governments,

this is a national issue. In 2012 the GOP won the

House even though they had 1.4 million fewer votes than

Democrats did.

In Conclusion

60% blue | 40% red

3 blue districts

2 red districts


Figure 2 Figure 3

5 blue districts

0 red districts


2 blue districts

3 red districts


The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout of any election in American history, but there is still so much that needs to be

done. Making it easier to vote is the only way to solidify and expand the democracy we are so proud of.

22 23 December 2020

This article represents the opinion of the author


How America has


come to be so divided

photo courtesy of chlorineer

artin saadat | staff writer

photo courtesy of

eugenio hansen

In his farewell address, Founding Father and first

president of the United States George Washington

issued a solemn warning against political

factions. He emphasized the importance of unity

and cautioned citizens that although political parties

“may now and then answer popular ends, they

are likely in the course of time and things, to become

potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious,

and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the

power of the people and to usurp for themselves

the reins of government, destroying afterwards the

very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

In other words, he feared that if Americans

placed party loyalty over the common interests of

the nation, it would foster a “spirit of revenge” and

generate nationwide division and corruption. Over

time, however, we have increasingly departed from

Washington’s eerily foretelling guidance and bought

into a rigid and divisive 2 party political system.

Although American politics have gradually grown

more and more partisan over the decades, it is since

the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump that

the United States government has reached a new level

of division— one that threatens the survival of America’s

democracy. The poles of the political spectrum

are ever-distancing, and there is no longer a middle

ground for bi-partisan compromise, causing gridlock

in decision making and barring social progress. Mr.

Waxman, an AP United States Government teacher

here at Oakton, agrees, saying, “There is increased

partisanship for sure. We’ve become accustomed

to just vote for our own team, sort ourselves out,

and only talk to people that agree with us, not across

the differences.” Even public health issues, like

Covid-19, have become points of political division.

Moreover, political parties, specifically the politicians

representing them, no longer act upon the

best interest of the American people. They instead

betray their commitment to their constituents to

promote their party’s ideology and gain control of

the branches of government, which is exactly the

corruption that Washington feared. As Mr. Waxman

puts it, “It’s the equivalent of verbal foodfight. They

just throw things at each other. They’re not really

trying to solve problems. They’re just trying to yell

louder and convince you that you're wrong and I'm

right.” More frightening, perhaps, are the unethical,

dishonest, and undemocratic measures that lawmakers

will take to do this— unlawfully gerrymandering

district boundaries in their favor, suppressing

voters through discriminatory laws, continuously

demonizing and dehumanizing the opposing party,

and making distorted accusations against them.

The latest example of this hyper-partisanship revolves

around President Donald Trump’s refusal to

concede: although all past presidents have gracefully

conceded in the case of a loss, President Trump

has refused to accept his defeat. He continues to

make false allegations of Democratic voter fraud,

mount groundless legal challenges, and refuse to

work with President-elect Biden’s transition team

towards a peaceful transfer of power, which, to

put it bluntly, is downright childish. However, his

actions are not only childish, they are also scary,

as they threaten the fundamental principles of

America’s democracy and normalize such efforts to

reoccur in future elections.

Even more concerning is the fact that the

majority of Republican politicians won’t speak

out against President Trump, even though many

of them may not believe in his actions. Although

a few prominent Republican officials, such as

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, former New

Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Senator

Mitt Romney, have had the courage to openly

disapprove of President Trump's baseless rhetoric

and accusations, most have stayed silent,

or even worse, spoken out in support of President

Trump's efforts in an attempt to push their

party’s narrative and garner his political support.

This illustrates how an increasing number of

lawmakers are betraying their duty to uphold

our democracy for their party’s advancement,

and in some cases, their personal gain.

However, extreme partisanship is not only affecting

the Capitol— it is also dividing everyday

citizens. In 2008, Americans felt nearly indifferent

towards the opposing party, rating their

“favorability and warmness” toward them 40

out of 100. Since the 2016 election of President

Donald Trump, though, Americans are feeling

more and more hostile towards those on the

other side of the spectrum, rating their feelings

towards them below 15 out of 100. In fact, a

2018 poll by Nielsen found that 60 to 70 percent

of Americans viewed fellow citizens of the

opposite party as a serious threat to the United

States. In Mr. Waxman perspective, “What’s different

today is there’s been a feeling that we’re

not willing to talk to one another as much.”

Further complicating this divide is the fact

that peoples’ political views are becoming more

and more representative of their identity. In

the past, both the Democratic and Republican

parties were relatively heterogeneous coalitions.

Over time, however, as the 2 parties have

become increasingly nationalized and comprehensive,

they have become more racially and

religiously divisive. This, under the blanket of

party alignment, has created a sort of all-encompassing

“mega-identity,” which is causing more

personal and, thus, hostile hatred, distrust, and

division across the country. To many Americans,

supporters of the opposing party are beginning

to seem more like distant enemies than fellow


The political division that we are experiencing

today in the United States is already

unsustainable and restrictive of progress, but

when coupled with race and religion, it begs

for democratic collapse. With such volatility to

our democratic system, it seems inherent that

lawmakers step up and speak out for unity, no

matter the political consequences. But no— our

democracy’s accountability is crumbling right

before our eyes, and most political leaders continue

to act childish and exacerbate the divide

by demeaning the opposing party and making

unfounded accusations against them. Although

in his speech, President-elect Biden sent a message

of unity, vowing “to work as hard for those

who didn’t vote for me as those who did,” his

good intentions can only go so far against the

inherent 2 party nature of our political system.

photo courtesy of sagearbor





President Trump has not

accepted the final results

of the election

photo courtesy of mykola lazarenko

lorne fowler |staff writer

dilara vural | staff writer

With the results of the 2020 election now in, Biden

has been labelled the clear winner of it. But, when

President Donald Trump heard this, he did not accept

to commit to a peaceful transition as he said he would.

Furthermore, President Trump has contested the election results

and their validity, claiming that Biden’s win is the result of voter

fraud.This of course can ruin President Trump’s reputation

and jeopardize his political future. Although Trump has made

claims that he will refuse to concede, the constitution says otherwise

and will end his term.

How the Republicans are handling the situation?

“Stop the steal” has become the saying of outraged Republicans

who believe President Trump’s claims that Democrats

stole his reelection by committing massive voter fraud. It is the

hashtag they rally around the media and the slogan they chant

when they are on the streets, as they did on November 14th in

Washington, DC, earning a laudatory drive-by from the presidential

motorcade. Governor and senators wise, it is not going

so maturaley either. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky,

the top Republican in Congress, threw his support behind Mr.

Trump in a speech on the Senate floor. He declared that Mr.

Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to turn to the legal

system to challenge the outcome and criticized Democrats

for expecting the president to concede. Furthermore, in his first

public remarks since Mr. Biden was declared the winner, Mr.

McConnell celebrated the success of Republicans who won

election to the House and the Senate. But in the next breath, he

treated the outcome of the presidential election, based on the

same ballots that elected those Republicans, as unknown.

What does this mean for the presidential election?

Well for one, it is important that Trump has little power when

it comes to the outcome of this election. The election of the

president fundamentally lies in the hands of Congress and more

specifically the Senate as outlined in the constitution, so any

attempts to delay the election or even a refusal to concede as

we see here does not matter much. Judging by current results,

Biden will be sworn in as President on January 20th and there

is nothing Trump, or anyone for that matter, can do to stop it.

With that said, President Trump’s refusal to accept the results of

the election has furthered the divisive tensions throughout the

country, as his supporters double down on his message. Sources

say that concessions don’t really matter in a way that the duly

elected president will be inaugurated in January no matter what,

whether the outgoing president acknowledges the defeat or not.

But they do matter for a couple of other reasons. There is a

reason which is more personal than political, which is, most

politicians don’t like being seen as a loser. And if they ever want

to run again, being seen as graceful and dignified is to their

advantage. The second reason is to dampen down the tensions

that came up during the campaign. We have had several campaigns

in U.S. history that were very, very negative. And, in

some cases, supporters of the losing candidates screamed on the

streets because their candidate lost. The losing candidate should

publicly say, I accept the results of this election, and all of you

should support the new president, and help bring society back

together after the election campaign has divided it.

25 December 2020 FEATURE



Oakton Minds Matter Co-President, Taylor Hawthorne,

discusses the notable ways this high

school organization contributes to the awareness

of mental health.

Q: Who is involved in this organization?

Myself and Annie Wolsborn are Co-Presidents of the club, we are sponsored

by a couple of school counselors. We have a leadership team of

about 8-10 other students that assist with a multitude of different tasks.

photo courtesy of the noun projet

Q: What is the purpose of your organization?

A: To eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in the Oakton

community, along with spreading awareness of suicide prevention

and providing tools to cope with feelings of stress or depression.

Q: What brought this organization to where it is today?

A: Our commitment to making our school community a happier place, and the enthusiasm

among many students to have the chance to help their peers and even themselves.

Q: What has your organization done to support and or spread awareness to mental health?

A: We’ve conducted lessons during our meetings to bring attention to mental illness,

as well as made social media accounts and collaborated with big mental

health organizations in order to provide resources such as different coping skills.

photo courtesy of the noun projet

Q: What are your opinions on the effect of online school to the mental illness of students?

A: I feel that online school has certain benefits, being in school is actually a huge

stressor for many, and lots of students feel more relaxed learning in the comfort

of their own home. However, online school has brought feelings of loneliness to

many students, since school was one of the few places where many would get to see

their friends. Online school can also cause for burnout, students get overwhelmed

by all the work they are being assigned and feel unmotivated to turn anything in

considering that they don’t feel they have to. There’s also many people that may

not feel safe in their own home, which would make online school much worse

for them, and can easily be a cause of depression or other types of mental illness.

Oakton Mental

Health Resources

Suicide Hotline

Q: What do you suggest for students who are currently going through hard times?

A:I suggest that they reach out to others, whether it’s just talking to a friend or

a family member on the phone, having just a little bit of socialization can make

a huge difference. I would also suggest that if their situation gets worse they get

professional help from a staff member at Oakton, or a different trusted adult.

The school provides many resources (even in an online setting) that are in place

to help students when they’re going through any type of challenging time.

emma dennis| staff writer





alicia ernst|staff writer

Oakton Students weigh out the pros and

cons associated with their decision

Flashback to March 12, 2020 - Oakton’s student body was thrilled

for their spontaneous two-week break from school, eager to stay at

home and relax. Because those two weeks stretched into 9 months,

many students have found themselves longing to return to school,

and regretting ever taking it for granted. After months of attending

their virtual lessons, a brain break

is much needed. This statement may

sound questionable, given that the freedom

to attend classes while sitting on

the couch seems like enough of a break

already - but despite this, students and

teachers are just as drained as usual.

Every day follows the same routine,

so much so that they seem to blend together;

waking up, attending classes, completing homework, and

repeating. Ironically, returning to school in-person seems like the

perfect break from this vicious cycle. Although reinstating a hybrid

version of real life school is speculated to occur down the line,

it would likely come with two options - if Oakton students were

given the choice, would they choose to

remain online, or return to the building?

A crucial component that must be considered

when making this hypothetical

decision is the state of the pandemic.

If presented with the choice, students

must decide if returning to the building

is worth the risk, safety-wise.

26 27 December 2020

When asked about what safety precautions should be installed, many ideas were suggested: daily temperature checks,

limiting the number of kids per classroom, a strict no-touching policy, and mandatory mask-wearing. However, Sophie

Smoot-Canty, 10, notes that the issue lies not within what safety measures are taken, but how those precautions are enforced.

“I think there needs to be a way to make sure students are following rules, because if the school is safe but the kids

aren’t it doesn’t help.” Smoot-Canty said. “I wouldn’t return. I’d rather just skip the risk and stay online.”

Along with these possibilities, another factorable priority would simply be the student’s academic preferences. While

some find it easier to focus in the seclusion of their homes, a plethora of others are discovering challenges regarding their

lack of attention span and motivation. “I would definitely choose to go in person. I have a lot of trouble focusing online

due to my learning disability.” Says Jason Imbergamo, 10. He also noted how he misses social interaction with friends and

teachers, and events such as school-sponsored dances - all things often considered to be the best parts of school.

“I would definitely return to school. The state of my education

right now is horrible. I have not learned a single thing

and I 100% guarantee I will fail my finals. In person, I am able

to learn more effectively.” -Paris Phan, 10

As we are all tired of hearing the phrases “unprecedented times” and “once this is all over,” we continue to ponder the

question looming over our heads - when will we go back to normal? And as that pans out, what will “normal” even be?

This school year continues to challenge Oakton’s students and staff as we all try to adapt. If hybrid schooling is introduced

during the second semester, students must keep these ideas in their heads as they consider the most valueable factors of

in-person versus virtual instruction. It is important to keep an open mind, and learn to appreciate your surroundings - because

as we have all experienced this past year, they are absolutely subject to change.

The photos above are student submissions of what their work space looks like during online school each day.

leftmost photo courtesy of naomi yoon, middle photo courtesy of alicia ernst, rightmost photo courtesy of tuga


“I wouldn’t feel comfortable at all. [COVID-19] cases are

still high and [too many people] are cramped inside the

school. I believe we should just wait until things get better,

like after the vaccines are distributed.” -Tuga Wangjie, 10

photo courtesy of alicia ernst

photos courtesy of flaticon.com

28 29 December 2020



We asked Oakton community members about

their hopes for the New Year

To say the least, 2020 has been a challenging year. In March, the coronavirus pandemic drastically changed life for Americans, and

the health complications and precautions have been devastating. Social and political implications have also stirred the country,

causing extreme conflict. It’s unclear when things will go back to “normal” in the way that everyone seems to dream of, but for

now, many hope that some barriers will be broken down in 2021. Here are the hopes of some Oakton community members for the new


“Obviously safety is our top priority and we need to be able to maintain that, but I

would love to see a lot more students back at school on a more regular basis, so that we can just get

back to a little bit more normal… if we can’t, I hope that we continue to get better at virtual learning,

and my number one priority in all of this is maintaining a sense of community and connection

amongst Oakton staff and students and the community. When the shutdown happened, it aligned

with a lot of our renovation process and that has not shut down… now there is going to be a lot of

beautiful new common area spaces, and a lot of beautiful new classrooms to enjoy, a lot of courtyards

and it just makes me smile everytime I go in it, so I hope it does the same for students. I think

in general, there’s always a silver lining to everything, and we just need to look into the positives of

whatever the situation that we are currently in. So, continuing to encourage everyone to find those

silver linings and positive influences and positive stories to bring us together and if anyone ever

needs anything, we are here, we are in a different format right now, but we are always here. That’s

the number one message I want everyone to get.” - Ms. Lane (Principal)

“This year, I hope we can tell our friends and our family how

much we care for them. Another hope for this year is that we make connections

with people that we lost touch with. I also hope that this new year everyone learns

something new. Do something that is...you. I hope is that this year we can share our

knowledge, teach a friend, a sibling or even a grownup. My biggest hope is that this

year we all help make this world a better place.” Anita Murthy (Parent)

“I hope that I get good grades and learn new stuff. Since

I’m a freshman, I’d like to be able to make new friends from different schools and

get closer with the track team and spending time with them. I also hope for a decline

in covid cases and going back to a normalish life.” - Krishiv Argawal (9)

photo courtesy of ken lee joo

"I’m hoping to be able to keep my grades up and get into my top college, but I’m

keeping my expectations realistic because at this point, you never know what is going to happen.

I’m hoping that in 2021 things will go back to normal. If [restrictions] will help everything go back

to normal, if [restrictions] will help others stay safe, I will do it… I of course hope that there are

less restrictions next year, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up. I hope more than anything that all

of my loved ones stay safe and healthy.” - Zoe Siamon (12)

My personal hope for the new year is to complete junior year

successfully. I also want to change more peoples lives for the better in 2021. Earlier

this year I reached out to a nursing home to send letters and find a pen pal.

Unfortunately, they never got back to me. My goal in the new year is to reach out

to the nursing home again and send letters. There are so many people that can not

see anyone during the times we are living in. I want to give those people hope and

company. When they feel happy, I feel happy.” - Ryan Brittenham (11)

“I hope that we will be able to return to school and a semblance of normal. I also

hope that the number of cases and hospitalizations will go down. That the restrictions will become

more lax and we’ll be able to meet with other people again. I hope that I can drop lots of time in swim

events, learn a new language, and learn to play 15 songs on the ukulele.” - Allie Wheeler (10)

“As a senior, I really do bank on College Apps to give me hope

for the new year. I look forward to being able to live my own life once the

pandemic lessens and get into a school with a major I love.” - Jakob A (12)

“I hope that we can go back, but I also want us to be safe.

I think that continuing to find creative and innovative ways to make this time

even more special is what I’m most hopeful for. I think my biggest hope for

any extracurriculars right now when it’s safe is just finding ways for students

to be involved and finding a balance between screen time and fun. I think one

of my big hope for the year is more listening throughout our country. Our

country right now is very divided. No matter what side of that divide you

may be on, I think that we could really benefit from more listening.” - Ms.

Goodwin (Spanish teacher)

harriet limkin | staff writer

haley longfellow | editorial board

photo courtesy of david zydd



As coronavirus cases soar nationwide,

Washington D.C’s Mayor

Bowser imposed a series of restrictions

to be enacted throughout the following

weeks, including limiting indoor gatherings

from 50% capacity to 25% capacity.

You may have seen a photo or two of the

tents being constructed outside of restaurants

to accomodate for this constraint. “We

can’t eat inside so let’s eat outside, inside,”

commented a D.C. resident on a photo of

the mini structures, humorously mocking

the new dining alternative. Bowser, however,

does not find much humor in these new

creations. She announced that restaurants

have two weeks to create proper outdoor

dining arrangements, otherwise they may

not continue serving their customers. This

is due to the limited air circulation in these

structures, posing a threat to the spread of

the virus that was presumed to be significantly

reduced with normal outdoor dining.

One notable effect the coronavirus has

had on D.C. is an increase in real estate

and housing prices. As cities are being

recognized as virus “petri dishes,” many

residents have begun searching the market

for homes farther from these densely populated

“hot spots.” Consequently, housing

prices in the suburbs have increased. However,

with the vaccine right around the corner,

city prices are slowly beginning to rise

again as suburb prices drop. This correlation

represents the public’s growing hope

for the virus to subside.

As for D.C’s transit system, things are

not looking too promising. Metro has been

pushed to the financial brink as

the virus led most employees to

telework- the working class having

been Metro’s greatest customer.

Others remain reluctant to use

public transit in fear of contracting

the virus. Mayor Bowser and other


officials are working to call attention

to this growing threat to D.C’s

public transportation, pleading Congress

for a federal stimulus package. “Regardless

of party or ideology, we must once again

come together to save Metro,” she said.

If a stimulus plan remains inexistent,

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld

warns that a major budget cut, that will

result in longer waits and reduced hours

for trains, will be forcefully enacted. The

agency cited this cut is about 25% of the

$1.945 billion from projected operating expenses

- a gap so massive that the only way

it can be met is by eliminating weekend rail

services. This proposal raised much public

alarm to residents and employees who rely

on Metro to travel throughout the city.

“The proposed cuts to

Metrorail are nothing

short of an assault on

working people”

-Mrs. Suss

Ms. Suss, an English teacher at Oakton

High School lives in D.C. “It is insane that

we have a barely-functioning rail system

in our nation’s capital, and [Washington

Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] has

been dealing with budget shortfalls for as

long as I can remember. The proposed cuts

to Metrorail will render it effectively useless...

30-minute waits for each train- that’s

an enormous deterrent and will result in

passenger backlogs and jams.”

photo courtesy of sara boddie


Things to do

All this dull news has aided in fueling the

feeling of disconnection and a lost hope

that our lives will not “return to normal”

any time soon. However, several organized

events have helped D.C. residents and tourists

to maintain daily activities and to spend

time with their community; city dwellers

have proved that their spirit and camaraderie

will not diminish, even as coronavirus

cases increase.

One of D.C’s busiest attractions during

the winter is their Holiday Market on 8th

and F Streets NW. Open from November

20th to December 23rd, this outdoor market

features over 150 vendors- entrepreneurs

and small businesses from across the region.

Lights and decorations are displayed

and churros and hot chocolate are served;

nothing brings more holiday spirit than a

trip to D.C’s Holiday Market. On Saturday,

November 28th, Kamala Harris and Mayor

Bowser took a trip to the market to support

local small businesses. To address the safety

concerns provoked by the coronavirus,

adjustments were made to limit

the capacity of shoppers and stretch out

the aisles to encourage social distancing.

The structure of the market is in accordance

with all current city guidelines.

Another pop-up market that was recently

created is called “Soufside Market.” Malik

Sneed, a Black 25 year old from Ward 7,

created this market to support both Blackowned

businesses and his community in

South East D.C. After several Black-owned

businesses were denied a spot at the Freshfarm

Market in Dupont Circle,

they were excited to hear they

could sell their products at a market

specifically designed to “circulate

the black dollar,” said Sneed.

sara boddie | copy editor

31 December 2020 A&E



Which artists strive in quarantine?

During this time of world panic one thing seems to be keeping us all sane. Music. Specifically new music that artist

have produced prior and during lock-down. Musicians like Lil Uzi Vert, Ariana Grande and BTS. With a year of

surprises also comes a year of new beginnings especially when it comes to music and with the creativity and free

time floating through different artists, you already know the Grammys have a great nomination lineup. Since next years

show (hosted by Trevor Noah) won’t be happening til January 31st and theres over 80 categories of music we’re just gonna

go over the Grammy’s General Field*.

photo courtesy of the grammys Org

Record Of The Year

• Black Parade | Beyonce

• Colors | Black Pumas

• Rock-star | DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch

• Say So | Doja Cat

• Everything I Wanted | Billie Eilish

• Don’t Start Now | Dua Lipa

• Circles | Post Malone

• Savage | Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyonce

Song Of The Year

• Black Parade | Beyonce

• The Box | Roddy Ricch

• Cardigan | Taylor Swift

• Circles | Post Malone

• Don’t Start Now | Dua Lipa

• Everything I Wanted | Billie Eilish

• I Can’t Breath | H.E.R.

• If The World Was Ending | JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels

Album Of The Year

• CHILOMBO | Jhené Aiko

• Black Pumas | Black Pumas

• Everyday Life | Coldplay

• DJESSE VOL.3 | Jacob Collier

• Women In Music Pt 3 | HAIM

• Future Nostalgia | Dua Lipa

• Hollywood’s Bleeding | Post Malone

• Folklore | Taylor Swift

Best New Artist

• Ingrid Andress

• Phoebe Bridgers

• Chika

• Noah Cyrus

• D Smoke

• Doja Cat

• Kaytranada

• Megan Thee Stallion

aubrey leverett | staff writer

photo courtesy of chris pizzello

Although in the past Grammy Organizers have been accused of being biased including earlier this year when they denied

allegations of rigging votes, nominees were happy to talk of their excitement on social media. As artist exampled their

excitement a lot of people were not happy with this years nominations. Especially people like The Weeknd. Abel Tesfaye,

professionally known as The Weeknd, (who had one of biggest selling albums and hit song of 2020) took to social media to

express his anger towards the organization. The singer tweeted “The Grammys remain Corrupt, you owe me, my fans and

the industry transparency.” As multiple celebrities including Justin Bieber Chris Brown and Luke Combs have come to the

defense and agreement of The Weeknd, the Grammy organization president issued a statement later after the tweet saying he

expressed his shock with Abel but tried to not be too surprised by the nomination outcomes.

Of course this isn’t the first time the Grammys have been accused of snubbing other artists. Two Prominent and well known

artists Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce have been snubbed multiple times. So many times the Grammy organizers had to issue

a statement about it.

Focusing on current nominations it is easy to tell that the organization could appear to be somewhat biased. Besides categories

like album of the year their were several albums that weren’t nominated that definitely should have been including

Lil Uzi Vert and the late Juice Wrld who had two of the biggest selling rap albums of 2020. Not just rap but also Halsey’s

Manic and Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters.

Besides the biased allegations there were a lot of great albums and songs and anew artist this year. Some who had quarantine

hits tat turned to fame like Doja Cat. With her record of the year say so she dominated he charts and had the song

on almost every teens in America’s playlist. Lots of artists this year dominated the charts and each nominee had a well

deserved reaction but hopefully the show goes a lot better the reaction to the awards themselves.

*All information and more can be found on the grammy.com website



COVID-safe options for seeing your friends

With the threat of a second lockdown, many Oakton students are looking for fun activities to do with their

friends while remaining safe. While many winter activities have been cancelled due to COVID-19, there are

still many fun and healthy options to enjoy.

photo courtesy of johnell pannell

Ice Skating

Ice skating has always been the classic winter activity. It’s often

portrayed in movies and TV shows and is a staple part of Hallmark

Christmas movies. Emily Romero (grade 11) says that ice

skating is “a good way to stay active and is a fun skill to have.”

The most popular spot for Oakton students is Reston Town Center.

Reston Skating opens every year in early November through the

winter months. This year, they’ve taken many extra precautions

which are all listed on their website. Some of these precautions are

offered contactless payment and online reservations. Afterwards,

students can enjoy a cup of hot cocoa from Panera, browse the

nearby shops, or take a ride on one of the horse-drawn carriages.

Mini Golf

While mini golf is often viewed as a couples activity, it is also

perfect for friends. As long as everyone keeps their masks on and

remains distanced, it is a safe option for teenagers - especially

competitive ones. Oak Marr has a small course and offers “clubs”

and golf balls to play with. Just don’t forget to bundle up as the

temperature drops. If mini golf doesn’t sound appealing, Top Golf

is also an option if everyone is okay with a bit of a drive, seeing as

the closest location is located in Ashburn. The cost is about $15 per

person but is worth it. The goal is to hit the targets on the field from

a balcony. Points are awarded based on how close the goftball is

to the target.

Online Movie Marathon

At the beginning of quarantine in March, many streaming

services, such as Netflix Party and Kast, became widely popular

due to the ability to watch shows and movies with friends.

Netflix Party is limited to Netflix, for obvious reasons, but

Kast allows for any screen to be shared. While the buzz about

these options have died down, they still remain great options

for a Covid-safe night in with friends. Everyone can watch

from the comfort of their own home while still chatting with

their friends in the chat bar. This is also perfect for anyone

who can’t stand others talking during movies.

Virtual Book Club

For book lovers, many people have started an online book

club with friends or strangers. For anyone looking to participate

in this, just grab some friends- could be any number- set

a date to meet, choose a book, and start meeting at whatever

rate is most convenient for everyone. One way to choose

books is for everyone to collectively agree on one or designate

a different person each meeting to choose one. Different

weeks could have different themes or genres, like mystery

week or history week. Some groups will get into character

and dress up as the theme or even characters from their current


veronica preaskorn|editorial board

33 December 2020



Despite it not be as lengthy as

some hoped, Insomniac’s second

installment in the Spider-Man series

is a great experience all around

Two years removed from the release of what many consider to be one of the best superhero

video games of all time, Insomniac has released another title in the Playstation-exclusive

Spider-Man series. This time we follow and control Miles Morales, the teenage

Spider-Man who appeared briefly in the 2018 game and recently inherited his powers. Coming

in with a $49.99 price tag, the game is not as extensive as its predecessor and features a shorter

story. Just like the previous game, the story is set in New York City, with missions and activities

all over Manhattan. However, unlike the first installment, the events occur during winter

and the holiday season, with snow frequently being part of the environment. The premise is

that the original Spider-Man and Morales’ mentor, Peter Parker, is taking a “vacation” for a

couple weeks, leaving Miles as New York’s only Spider-Man for the entirety of the story.

max dolinh | staff writer

image courtesy of abijithka

It might not come as a surprise, but the graphics and overall environment of the game are exceptional. Even though I was not able to

play the game on the newly released PS5, it still looks great and runs smoothly on the current-gen console. Additionally, the swinging

mechanics feel just as good if not better than on Marvel’s Spider-Man. The storyline and plot development is also nearly flawless. It

features new characters and does a great job at showing how Miles must come to terms with being a teenage superhero and how it affects

his friends and family, as well as trying to find an identity without being compared to his mentor. As stated before, the game is not

as extensive as its predecessor and that is apparent in the campaign. I completed the story in about four sessions, but I often stopped

to observe and interact with parts of the environment or complete side-quests. If you just played the main story missions, you could

probably complete the game in a couple long sessions or even just in one sitting. So for gamers who want a long experience with their

single-player games, the length of the story might not justify its $49.99 price tag. But if you are a fan of the franchise and just looking for

a high-quality title, it won’t be a waste of money. All aspects of the gameplay are extremely enjoyable. From the combat, which features

new electrically-charged moves and camouflage mode, to the story and side-missions, to just swinging around New York City, the game

does not feel dull for any one moment.

Insomniac delivered once again with Spider Man: Miles Morales. Apart from one of the antagonists being quite generic and the main

story not being comparable to a full-length title, the second installment in Playstation and Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise is a complete

hit. The game takes all the features that gamers loved about the previous title and elevates them in a game centered around a different

and unique Spider-Man. And if you are uncomfortable paying $50 for a game you might not play for more than a week, I’d advise to

wait for the price to go down before purchasing. However, the game is a must-play for all fans of the series and while the game might

not be exactly what some envisioned in the quantity department, it is everything and more in the quality one.


Tiktok’s latest trend sparks heated debates

on a multitude of topics


Since the app’s creation, Tiktok has

been the source of many new fads

and trends that people of all ages

can enjoy. The app has been through

drastic changes since its Musical.ly days,

but despite its interface change it’s still

going strong and is a source of entertainment

for many, and even provides a

good platform for thoughtful discussions

regarding our world today. A mix of both

characteristics can be seen in the latest

trend to take Tiktok by storm, No Nuance


At first glance, it can be hard to fully

grasp what no nuance November entails,

but the term generally refers to giving

hot takes with no context or further explanation

afterward. Most of the videos

display controversial opinions, leading

the trend to become more about sharing

unpopular opinions at times. The trend

got its start from Tiktok user @

abolish_ice, who first coined the term in

their caption when they posted a video to

their 13.6k followers saying they would

post a hot take every day of November.

Though this user isn’t considered a big

creator compared to the other TikTok

creators that have millions of followers

under their belt, TikTok’s algorithm

makes it possible for almost anyone to

get a viral video, regardless of follower

count. The trend quickly took the app by

storm, with big creators on the app like

flossybaby, dutchdecc, staceyismom,

and even Hank Green taking part. When

seeing a No Nuance November video on

your For You page (the page that lets you

see popular videos from users you don’t

follow), it’s uncertain what opinions

you’ll hear, considering they range from

“If you are drinking milk, any time other

than the time you’re eating cereal, you

belong in prison,” to more political and

serious takes. Whether it’s talking about

superheroes, life as a nurse, or the current

state of the United States, everyone of all

ages and origins had opinions to give,

no matter who they were. The format of

the trend has caused some minor spats in

comment sections considering the very

nature of the trend is to not give context

and prevent nuanced discussion, but

overall the trend is an entertaining and

harmless way to share opinions on the internet

in a witty and concise manner, and

it’s sparked plenty of conversation on a

great number of topics.

November has now ended, and the

#NoNuanceNovember tag has achieved

a whopping 2 billion views as a whole

on TikTok. This app has surely earned itself

a firm place in today’s modern pop

culture, with a demographic that consists

of people from all over the world. No

Nuance November is just one hit trend

out of many that have originated from

the app, and it’s exciting to see what the

future holds and what other ideas will

come from the creative minds of TikTok.

photos courtesy of aubrey harrell

@abolish_ice on TikTok @zki.99 on TikTok @ediblesrex on TikTok

aubrey harrell | editorial board

35 December 2020



Can All American season 3 live up to its


anshul sreenivas|staff writer

photo courtesy of petey

photo courtesy of muyuan ma

“This is going to be one of the greatest shows of 2021”- Blake Neely

On October 10, 2018, a new show

was aired on the CW. No one

knew how it would turn out; it

was the first episode of the first season, so

it was a new take. A show about a young

kid growing up in Crenshaw, with many

problems in his life, and still being the top

of football, All American. Since that day,

it has been one of the biggest hits, and

one of the most watched TV shows in all

of America. With countless amounts of

good reviews, these actors who were once

not known to the world, were world wide

stars after season 1. Just the first episode

delivered over 880,000 viewers. Many

consider this to be one of the greatest

shows to exist.

The story revolves around Spencer

James casted by Daniel Ezra, the British

actor. The show continued on and the next

season was released. What no one expected,

it was even better. The character development

along with the intriguing story

line mashed amazingly together. Present

day 2020, in about one month, season 3 of

All American will be aired, with the exact

date not announced yet.

January 2021, will be something different

for All American fans. The crazy finale

to season 2, with Spencer James figuring

out he still has an injured shoulder, fans

have been awaiting this moment to hear

what he is actually dealing with. The show

that has had all the hype lately is about to

go off the charts with the numbers they

are going to hit with this new upbringing

of the show. Furthermore, because of

the COVID-19 pandemic, the audience

feared that they wouldn’t have all their

loving characters in the show. But due

to many safety precautions, the actors/

actresses have agreed to hit the show one

more time. A huge question going around

right now is, “Will it be just as good?”

COVID-19 could affect the quality of the

show. This pandemic has gotten the best of

many people, which could affect the acting

of the show. Another reason is actions

and interaction have been limited due to

this pandemic, so that can also affect the

quality of the show negatively. But as we

have all seen, the producers of this show

can pull off anything. Seasons 1 and 2

were beyond amazing, so I think we can

all infer season 3 can be just as good. Also

having the attention grabbing plot line for

season 3, I have no doubt this will still be

one the greatest shows of 2021.



How to still enjoy the holiday season

amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The holidays are just around the corner. As the chaotic 2020

year is finally about to come to an end, many families around

the country are looking forward to hosting gatherings, traveling,

or spending time with loved ones. Over the last month, however,

the rate of COVID-19 cases has increased rapidly with many

states breaking records for the number of hospitalizations, cases,

and deaths. And public health experts predict that this winter season

will feature an even worse surge.

According to MedPage.com and a study from Miyu Moriyama

of AnualReviews.org, the coronavirus can survive longer in cold,

dry air and low humidity, as seen in common winters. Additionally,

they add: “low humidity also increases evaporation of respiratory

viral droplets into smaller aerosol particles that can linger longer in

the air, increasing the risk of airborne transmission in the winter.

It is plausible that this can also increase exposure to a higher viral

load during the winter.”

Because of this, Americans are encouraged to try their best to follow

CDC guidelines through this winter break, including wearing a

mask, social distancing, avoiding indoor spaces, and staying home

when possible. Unfortunately, this means many traditional holiday

plans might have to be adjusted. But don’t worry - there are still

plenty of alternative activities that you can incorporate into your

holiday celebration that are both safe and enjoyable.

photo courtesy of annie spratt on unsplash

2. shopping


viraj khetan | staff writer

eileen lincoln | editorial board

1. food

While hosting a holiday dinner with friends might

sound fun, gathering in an indoor space without masks

(because you are eating) might increase the risk of

spreading COVID-19. Instead, consider celebrating

virtually or limiting the celebration to members of the

household. If you do end up hosting a gathering with

guests of other households, the CDC recommends

having the party outside to increase ventilation, to

allow for mask-wearing, and to have space to social

distance. In addition, consider the duration of the gathering,

as according to the CDC, “Gatherings that last

longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.”

The early weeks of December pose as the stretch of

time in which holiday shopping takes place. Whether

shopping early or last-minute, many stores will

contain crowds of people within indoor spaces, posing

a threat to your health. Instead, try shopping online

or using curbside pickup. This also applies to people

creating wishlists - try to avoid asking for gifts that

are only available in stores. If you do have to shop

in-person, the CDC recommends bringing your own

reusable shopping bags, disinfecting your shopping

cart, and using touchless payment if possible.

3. tv marathons

During winter break, many kids and families utilize

their time off to go out and enjoy holiday festivals,

watch parades, attend sporting events, or be part of

a New Years’ celebration. However, these activities

contain large assemblies of people in enclosed spaces,

which can increase your chance of catching the Coronavirus.

Instead, consider watching these events on TV

instead. If it’s difficult thinking about the comparison

of the live experience rather than watching it on TV,

just acknowledge that you’re inside the warm comfort

of your own home, rather than freezing yourself numb


In addition to these activities, here are some other ideas that can be carried out with your family: driving around your neighborhood

to look at some Christmas lights, decorating gingerbread houses, binging Christmas movies, playing board games, or baking cookies. If

nothing else, just take some time off to relax and unwind. 2020 has been the year of the unbearable, but using the holidays to connect with

your (immediate) family can help alleviate ongoing stress so that you can start off the new year strong.

37 December 2020

During this time, global pandemic

and all, people have knocked out

a series of books, movies, and

TV shows because what else is there to

do while you sit at home all day? Some

people don’t enjoy movies that will

leave them crying, but some do and it’s

somewhat of a comfort and therapeutic

to just cry it out from a movie. Whether

you do it for other reasons, or just do it

for the sake of crying, cry-hard movies

hit the spot in letting your tears flow out.

These movies that are listed below will

be sure to have you wanting to eat a pint

of ice cream while sitting in your bed for

a while, but also reaching for that box

of tissues that you’ll need to wipe away

those tears. Nevertheless, make time and

prepare to cry your heart out from these


Miracles in Cell No. 7

Now you’re probably wondering which

Miracles in Cell No.7 because there are

a couple or remakes, but the Korean version

is by far the best. This comedy-drama

movie is definitely a tear-jerker as it

revolves around a relationship between a

little girl, Ye-sung, and her father, Yonggu

who is mentally challenged. He gets

wrongfully convicted of a murder and

gets sent to jail, leaving his daughter on

her own at only 6 years old. Come to find

out that he is given the death sentence,

and it would take a miracle to convince

the court that he was innocent. This movie

takes you on the journey leading up to

the final court sentencing and afterwards,

leaving you sobbing all the way through.

katie le|staff writer


Seven movies that will get you

through a whole tissue box


This may be a Pixar film, but Pixar

knows how to bring tears to your eyes

over their heartfelt movies. Up is definitely

one of them as a elder man, who

is widowed, is forced to move out of his

home and into a retirement home, but gets

away in his balloon floating house, bringing

a boy named Russel along with him,

accidentally. They both make the journey

of fulfilling his wife and his dream to live

by paradise fall, and you can’t help but

cry as this movie heavies your heart.

Me Before You

Many cry hard movies tend to be a love

story, and it’s true that love stories are a

tear jerker no matter how cheesy it can

be. Me Before you is one of them, but

it isn’t a traditional love story. It’s about

a girl named Louisa Clark who takes a

job as a caregiver to help her family out,

and meets Will Traynor, the boy she cares

for who is parablegic, and they spark a

romance between them. She is the one

who lights up his life and shows him the

meaning of it, but the story doesn’t end

there. This movie will surely leave you

crying by the end of it.

The Notebook

The notebook is a classic sob movie as

it revolves around the relationship of two

people that shouldn’t be together because

of their difference in social class. However,

their love for one another is too much

to keep them away from each other that

they have to be physically removed from

one another to keep them apart. Contact

between them stopped and they slowly

moved on without one another. This

movie is a roller coaster of emotion and

tears will be a part of it.


This was a film directed by Justin Baldoni

and released on Disney+. It is about

a boy named Zach Sobiech, who struggles

with Osteosarcoma, pursuing his interests

in music, with the help of his best

friend Sammy Brown. After finding out

that he only has a short time to live, he

makes the most of his life, releasing an

original song that goes viral. Sobiech’s

story is certainly worth listening to and it

will have tears running down your face.

Avengers: Endgame

If you are a Marvels fan, this movie will

definitely leave you crying. It might be

an Action/Sci-fi movie, but that doesn’t

mean it won’t make you cry. This movie

is the last one of the Marvel Cinematic

Universe (MCU), which to a lot of

people is the end of an era. This movie

is bittersweet and has many unexpected

events that will keep you on the edge of

your seat. Regardless of its genre, it will

give you teary eyes when you watch.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is a must watch, even

though it is a three hour long movie it

is truly worth it. This movie takes us

through the life of Forrest Gump, who

is physically and mentally disabled. He

never let his disadvantages affect his life

and all throughout the movie it shows

as he was able to achieve so many great

things in life. Gump finds love, but things

took a tragic turn. This is also a movie

that will take you on an emotional roller

coaster ride, but it’s worth seeing it.





Pandemic forces sports organizations to plan

differently in 2020

With everything that COVID-19 has damaged in 2020, it would only be right to mention

the impact it had on sports. When the virus emerged in the US in March, 3 major

sports seasons were postponed or cancelled. When an NBA player contracted the virus,

it quickly spread to his teammates and the NBA was forced to postpone the season. The NCAA

and NHL were quick to follow suit, with even the NCAA cancelling the March Madness tournament.

NBA postpones season

March 11th 2020

NBA season resumes in

Orlando, Florida

July 7th 2020

Los Angeles Lakers win

NBA Finals (season over)

October 11th 2020

Los Angeles Dodgers win MLB

World Series (season over)

October 28th 2020

NHL restart begins

November 25th 2020

Pac 12 Conference postpones

all sporting events through

calendar year

August 10th 2020

NCAA Football Begins

September 3rd 2020

March 12th 2020

NCAA cancels remainder of

season amidst COVID-19 pandemic

NHL suspends season

October 24 2020

Big 10 Conference reverses

decision and begins football


July 23rd 2020

Shortened MLB Season


September 28th 2020

Tampa Bay Lighting

win Stanley Cup (season


July 30th 2020

NHL restart begins

November 6th 2020

Pac 12 Conference reverses

decision and starts football


August 11th 2020

Big 10 cancels fall sports season

Over time, leagues began to reopen with tighter restrictions on stadium capacity and team protocols.

Numerous NFL coaches were fined for their inability to follow mask protocols throughout the

game. Many marveled at the NBA’s Season restart, as 0 cases were found in the small league bubble.

Players in the bubble couldn’t leave the Orlando League grounds, or were placed in quarantine upon

their return. Many leagues should take note of the NBA’s efficiency and try to incorporate their protocols.

aidan whipp | staff writer

veronica preaskorn | editorial board

39 December 2020


Tryouts kick off the 2020-21 winter season, but

how will athletics adjust to Covid restrictions?

portia dai | staff writer

photo courtesy of christie mccormick

2020 has been a tough year for both

teachers and students, and not being

in school has really put a damper on

extracurriculars. Despite that, sports teams

are already prepping for their winter season,

with the basketball, gymnastics, swim

and dive, track, and wrestling teams starting

their tryouts. It comes without question

that this year will be different from previous

years, but exactly how different?

As per usual, athletes will have to fill

out the VHSL forms for athletics and get

their physicals before trying out. This year,

there will be a new online form that will be

distributed by the activities office that must

be filled out which includes registration

for tryouts and pre-season conditioning

as well as the concussion education form.

After filling out these forms and completing

the online registration, athletes will be

set for tryouts. Once arriving at tryouts,

athletes are asked to stay in their cars and

fill out a Google form asking them about

their health and require everyone to have

a 32-ounce water bottle. After completing

the form, temperatures are taken and if

everything goes smoothly, the athlete may

proceed to tryouts.


Basketball tryouts began on December

7 and Coach Priester is ready for a great

season ahead. The start of the season will

begin with three days of tryouts. Coach

Priester says that because there was no

camp during the summer to identify freshmen

who could potentially be interested

in trying out, there is no estimate of how

many people will try out, which may extend

the process. As for the actual game,

there won’t be much of a difference besides

sanitizing and wearing masks. “Basketball

is basketball” Coach Priester says, and at

the end of the day, we have to live with

this situation as best as we are able. An

anticipated difficulty for the athletes will

be motivation and the intensity of play, so

coaches will be working more on game

preparation skills rather than drill work.

Overall, basketball is looking forward to as

normal of a season as possible. As Coach

Priester puts it, “We’re on until we’re off.”

The remaining winter sports tryouts begin

on December 14 and include gymnastics,

track, swim and dive, as well as wrestling.


Gymnastics Head Coach McCormick

expects tryouts to be similar to pre-Covid

with a three day tryout period and scoring

sheets for athlete evaluation — those who

do well will be offered a spot on the team.

Changes include less time on the gymnastics

equipment and more space between

each other. This will pose a challenge because

athletes will not be able to get close

and there is only so much space and equipment

that can be used as sharing equipment

won’t be able to happen like previous

years. The team dynamic may also see a

bit of a shift because gymnasts will no longer

be able to physically congratulate each

other for jobs well done, and Coach Mc-

Cormick won’t be able to spot or physically

support them in their training. Despite

these challenges, the gymnastics team will

still maintain their regular routine and go

to competitions and do their best with the

situation at hand.


Track is already in conditioning practices

and has been following the Covid

procedures when arriving at practice and

keeping their masks on when indoors or

in close proximity. However, when outside

and socially distanced, athletes are permitted

to take their masks off. Coach Decker

mentions the Covid check in as the most

challenging part of Covid procedures because

of the time needed to check people

in. Tryouts will be separated by events like

previous years with one event taking place

on each day. As for the athletes, the most

challenging part is the loss of the social aspect

of track simply because athletes cannot

be close together like they have been

able to previously. Facing these challenges

head on, the track team is thankful that

they will still be able to have a season.

Swim and Dive

Swim and dive does not have a finalized

plan for what tryouts will look like as of

now, but as for practice, social distancing

is enforced as best as possible and coaches

and athletes wear masks when not in the

pool. To further protect against contact,

dryland warmup is done at home rather

than at the pool facility. Like many other

sports, the team aspect of swim and dive

will be impacted with Spencer Dearman

(11) saying that “the team has to be separated

a little bit more than usual” which

will be a bit of a struggle to work around.

He also says that learning from coaches

has become more difficult especially for

freshmen because coaches can’t adjust

form or technique due to the social distancing

guidelines. The swim and dive

team will still be having a season, albeit

being shorter and altered to follow Covid



Wrestling, unlike other sports, does not

have traditional tryouts. Instead, athletes

have hard exercises and activities outside

for a week, after which the season begins.

However this year, there will be no tryouts

because wrestling is limited to eight people

per room, with groups of four working

out together for the entire year. Athletes

and coaches must also wear masks at all

times if they are not socially distanced and

are also working out outside as opposed

inside. Ryan Odell (11) says that the most

difficult part of Covid guidelines is the social

distancing because “you know your

friends are there but you also know you

have to stay away from them.” The wrestling

team is still continuing with off-season

practice but are not sure whether the

season is going to happen. However if it

does, the plan is to have no spectators and

a limited number of people competing.

It’s admirable how resilient these student

athletes are and we wish them the best as

they head into an unprecedented winter



payton wozny | editor-in-chief

photo courtesty of lily darwaza


Student athletes staying

active with high school

sports on pause

photo courtesty of mimi tyler

Lily Darwaza, 12, stunting with her All-Star

cheerleading team at Stingray Allstars.

Sami Tyler, 9, playing softball with her travel team at the

Potomac Lakes Sportsplex Loudoun.

photo courtesty of amy lucky

photo courtesty of sonja jansons

Jackson Lucky, 12, in the USTA single-gender 18U District


David Jansons, 9, playing golf at International Country

Club with his family.

41 December 2020


Why the NBA could lose millions

to billions of revenue in

the 2020-2021 season

kaleb steele | staff writer

photo courtesy of basketballforever.com

On March 11, 2020 the NBA season got postponed due to multiple players testing positive for COVID-19. The NBA came back

June 7, 2020 to a bubble in Orlando, Florida. Only teams that still had a shot at the playoffs were invited to the bubble. These

teams played a mini eight game regular season to get the players back in shape and finalize the standings. Additionally, the 8th

and 9th seeded teams played in a mini tournament to secure their spot in the playoffs. The playoffs then proceeded as usual, but still the

NBA’s revenue dropped 10% to $8.3 billion for the 2019-2020 NBA season

The NBA makes it’s profit from merchandising, ticktes, television, and sponsorships. It is projected to lose 40% in overall revenue

which is approximately $4 billion. However, the NBA salary cap and luxury tax will still increase this year, adding to the overall loss.

The NBA has taken a hit with merchandising since the 2017-2018 season. Since then the NBA has lost 5% of what they usually have

at the end of the season. The NBA has lost $16.6 billion over the years since 2018. I was able to speak with Oakton’s Sports & Entertainment

Marketing teacher Mr. Barrow about this upcoming NBA season and how will the NBA handle merchandising this season. These

were his thought, “ I don’t believe that the NBA will lose money from merchandising. Out of anything, they will get more money then

they usually do this year from merchandising.”

The NBA makes about $800 million from tickets as well making $2 million, on average, a game. The possible effect of no fans in

attendance, in this upcoming season, could lead to the league losing this entire form of revenue. Since the teams must submit a request

to the state to allow fans, this statistic is still unknown. Even though most teams have decided to not allow fans, others are deciding to

spend their own money to get the cleaning supplies to allow fans to attend the games. Fortunately, the teams will also save some money

not having fans at the game. Most NBA teams pay for more suites in the arena which they will not need to purchase. Also, they will not

need to pay the transportation companies to help get fans in and out of the stadiums as fast as possible. Teams still have to pay their staff,

plane tickets, hotels, buses, and their players.

The NBA has a deal with ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, and ABC to exclusively air specific games on their network. In return, the networks

give the league a portion of the advertising profit. COVID has hurt the NBA badly when it comes to money. Cancelling games throughout

the season will lead to less TV ad revenue. The NBA decided to come back early because they will lose less money. Also, they get

to have NBA Christmas Day games which usually attract a lot of fans. Even though last year’s season ended October 12th, this NBA

preseason will run December 11 through December 19. Therefore the regular season will tip off December 22 despite the lack of rest for

the playoff team players. The NBA is scheduled to play a 72 game season. In order to secure the last two playoff spots in their conferenference,

the 7th-10th seeds will have to play in a tournament. Another great money making event for the NBA is the All Star Weekend.

This usually occurs in February but they doubt it will happen because of COVID.

One good example of a profit making sponsorship is the deal with the NBA and NIke to add the logo on the jerseys. Nike and the NBA

increased their profit by 245%. However, the NBA had already lost $200 million to China over a scandal in 2019 where the General

Manager of the Rockets tweeted, and quickly deleted, comments supporting Hong Kong over China.

I think the NBA will hit a blockade in the road due to COVID and social media, but, once things start getting back to normal, whenever

that'll be, the NBA will start making the money that they used to and more.

“ I don’t believe that the NBA will lose money from merchandising.

Out of anything, they will get more money then they usually do this

year from merchandising.” - Melvin Barrow




Joe Biden has made a promise for change, but only

time will tell whether he will uphold it.

kartik mukalla | staff writer

photo courtesy of gage skidmore

As soon as Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the

United States of America in January, he is bound to face an uphill

battle. President-elect Biden has found himself in a precarious

situation, inheriting a country overrun and an economy wounded by the

COVID-19 pandemic. Current President Donald Trump’s dogged insistence

that Biden won the Presidential election through fraudulent means,

along with his refusal to aid the installation of Biden and his transition team

in the White House further complicates matters as it appears that he is doing

everything he can to discredit his victory and impair a smooth transition

of power between terms. This is further complicated by Trump’s nonchalance

and negligence during this historic pandemic, leading to millions of

cases and hundreds of deaths nationwide as well as a lack of financial aid

for at-risk households caught in the midst of it.

In fact, the various legislative and executive decisions that President

Trump has enacted during his tenure in office will unavoidably hang a

shadow over Biden’s head as he attempts to make his mark on the American

presidency. In one of his first moves as President, Trump effectively

attempted to cripple the Environmental Protection Agency. He rolled back

various Obama-era policies focusing on emission restrictions, wetland conservation,

and municipal water cleanliness. However, Biden has already

made a point to reinstall Obama’s policies regarding climate change and

environmental preservation, meaning that the EPA is back to its former

standing after 4 years of cutbacks by President Trump.

The President also appointed Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education,

who promptly attempted to heavily reduce funding for public schools

and redirect it towards Christian private schools and charter schools was a

head-scratching policy plan that did not attract much support, even from

the Republican party. This was of course, due to the fact that doing so

would take vital educational materials from at-risk children in underserved

communities and place them in predominantly white and well-off communities

that certainly did not need them. However, her appointment and

subsequent attempts to defund public schools have garnered support from

heavily conservative sects of her party, who are sure to oppose many of the

measures Biden’s future secretary of education will attempt to implement.

Again, Biden’s transition team was quick to announce their intent to nullify

most of Trump’s executive orders and DeVos’s various actions against

the funding of public schools. They made a point to plan on reinstalling

President Obama’s policies towards increasing funding for public schools,

as well as promoting inclusivity for transgender students and reducing racial

discrimination by school disciplinary officials. Additionally, Biden has

begun exploring options for student debt forgiveness and the possibility of

higher education for free or at a heavily reduced price.

Political observers have noted that a trend can be found in Biden’s action

plan for his presidency: A reinstallation of Obama-era policies along with

a few progressive policies regarding the economy and the environment.

That was one of his main favorable talking points during his campaign.

Biden promised a return to normalcy for Americans, but there is a very real

possibility in those words that his presidency would be a continuation of

Obama’s. Coming off of a brutal summer where American citizens engaged

in nationwide protests surrounding police brutality that highlighted crippling

flaws in America’s justice system, voters and legislators across both

parties can only wonder if Biden will attempt to make legitimate changes

during his Presidential term or present more of the same for American citizens.

43 December 2020


Increase in innovation is fostered during this increasingly

digital era

photo courtesy of Jeswin Thomas

In the midst of the pandemic, technology

companies are continuing to invent.

By the time we’ve adjusted to COVID,

the world will be revolutionized. As we’re

all making the switch to online video calls

and asynchronous work, the current times

may be giving way to a new generation of

innovators. This new generation is inspired

by seeing companies continue to succeed

and innovate, even during this pandemic.

In fact, leading companies like Apple,

Xbox, and Playstation are still releasing

new products and making a profit. This

goes to show that technology based companies

have surpassed expectations for

growth throughout the pandemic and don’t

seem to be stagnating yet.

While other industries have been greatly

affected by the switch to contactless living,

technology companies have seen an

increase in sales or revenue. Amazon, the

prominent online retailer, reported almost

a 40% increase in sales compared to their

last quarter. Likewise, Apple received $65

million dollars in revenue on their newest

iPhone. As Luca Maestri, Apple’s finance

chief, said “There is lots going on here, and

everything is going incredibly well”. Clearly,

these companies aren’t struggling during

these tumultuous times. Not to mention, the

gaming industry is surging. With the closure

of live entertainment, the amount of

people buying game consoles has significantly

increased. Even with the ongoing

pandemic, Nintendo expects to sell 24

million of its Switch games consoles in the

year ending March 2021, an increase from

their forecast of 19 million.

Even with the initial shock of COVID

behind us, companies still want to reduce

physical contact. In particular, use of the

cloud, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality

are areas where there’s potential for

economic growth. Innovators believe that

improved VR could provide better web

conferencing and groupware. Although

there’s also a demand for AI to become

more efficient, it still takes humans to operate

it during unexpected difficulties. Most

importantly, it’s not a single technology

that creates an improvement, it’s how people

learn and adapt to new technologies and

use them efficiently and constructively.

However, this isn’t the first time companies

thrive during difficult times. Apple,

Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Uber

were all launched during economic downturns.

That could be why a recession may

sometimes be considered “a necessary

cleansing of the deadwood that allows the

strongest companies to grow, which creates

new space for innovative startups”. Some

owe their success to choices made during

the Great Depression. A few of those companies

became household names, such as

Disney, FedEx, Trader Joe’s, and more.

And although the pandemic caused unemployment

rates to increase, a fair amount

of “pandemic founders” were people who

were laid off and subsequently motivated to

seize the moment and start their own businesses.

Umesh Padval, the venture partner

with Thomvest Ventures, elaborates “investment

in innovation typically declines

as investors become very cautious. This

creates the Darwinian theory of survival of

the fittest. Lots of undifferentiated companies

can’t raise money and file bankruptcy

or they get sold. However, the best companies

with solid teams and differentiated

platforms, survive and get funded.”

The abrupt switch to digital teleworkingfrom

home means there are a multitude of

new ideas and approaches to expand on. As

of now, innovators are still working on the

next essential piece of technology; hopefully,

it will improve the quality of life of

people struggling at the moment.

lucy holt | staff writer




The new way to work

serena hirani |staff writer

photo courtesy of marvin meyer

At the end of this problematic year,

many across the world are starting

to get used to working from

home. Students and working adults alike,

many are getting comfortable with self

paced work. While the pandemic forced

this style of life on us, many having been

working on their own terms long before.

Here’s why the stereotypical nine to five

work day doesn’t work anymore.

“As long as I’m getting

the work done, it

doesn’t matter when

and where I do it”

When the system of 40 or more hour

work weeks was conceived, the majority

of the working population in America

were factory or manufacturing workers.

With this type of job, time was required

to help things go smoothly. Since then,

the values that most working adults hold

close have changed. The largest working

population now is made up of millenials

who, above all, value autonomy and

the ability to create their own schedule

when it comes to their job, according to

a survey by Pew. For this reason, many

companies have also become more

flexible in their work style. For example

companies such as Amazon, Facebook,

Microsoft, and many others are incentivising

workers to participate in long term

remote work instead of coming into the

office everyday. This system of work is a

win for everyone. Companies get to pay

less for office space, and workers can live

wherever they want and make any home

their office.

Some important factors in getting work

done are productivity and creativity. Recent

research suggests that being flexible

with work times contributes to better

creative output. Ms. Calvello, an Oakton

High School Counselor says, “My husband

needs to go into the office in order

to get work done because that helps him

focus, but I think it should be on an individual

basis, whatever works better for

you.” Different people work in different

ways. If someone gets an idea at 10 and

night or at 5 in the morning, they should

not have to wait till they get into work

to implement it. Similarly, if someone is

not feeling productive during a work day,

taking a break and trying later may yield

better results. This is better for both the

individual, and the company.

Along with this, in an age of technology

and communication, it is extremely

difficult to be totally shut off from work

as soon as you get home. You may need to

check your emails or communicate with

your boss, meaning the workday really

never ends. This creates a seemingly inescapable

cycle of exhaustion, stress, and

poor time management, making it hard for

people to find the time to spend with their

families or doing things they enjoy.

Humans are not machines. Everyone

works in different ways and people

need that flexibility to work their best.

Contrary to popular belief, Setting aside

half the day to work and half the day to

relax simply does not allow people to be

productive with any of their time. Breaks

are necessary and important to workflow.

Working from home on your own time

allows you more time to do the things that

make you happy and keep you motivated

to get to work again the next day.


Emery Steinberg (10) is an Oakton student making a difference in her community. Although due to

the Covid-19 pandemic community service has had to be looked at with a new perspective, Steinberg

chose to crochet, collect, and donate over 100 blankets to the Georgetown hospital NICU. In

an interview she shared, “Being a NICU grad myself, I started this project in hopes that newborns and

their parents will find warmth and comfort in these blankets. The pandemic gave me time to reflect and

sparked reason to give back.” Steinberg’s love for her community and hard work is such an inspiration

and we are so thankful for her kind effort to make a difference.

photo courtesy Emery Steinberg

The Science Olympiad is one of the numerous clubs at Oakton High School, and like many of the

clubs struggled to find a way to continue with virtual learning. However, the club adjusted with the

help of a new program, sci-olympiad, which allowed the students to still have competitions virtually.

Recently the club placed in the top ten at a competition hosted by Missouri. In an interview with the

club supervisor, Ms. Boyer, she remarked, “we have kind of enjoyed doing these (competitions) virtually.”

She continued to explain that there are limitations with the virtual science olympiad, but the officers

have done amazing work to create a close-knit club.

photo courtesy science olympiad

photo courtesy Dr. Fernandez

Dr. Fernandez is a biology teacher at Oakton High School and infamous for running around her classroom

as she teaches, standing on her desk to show examples of biology in real life, and always being

engaged with her students to help them understand the different concepts. However, how would this

all play out in virtual learning. In an interview, Dr. Fernandez explained, “The worst for me is not being able

to see the students and to get feedback from the students.” She has been able to combat this by teaching at

Oakton with a camera set up and also inviting her students to use their mics rather than the chat option on

blackboard collaborate. She continued, “ I’m getting to know some students because they come to office

hours and they participate in class using the microphone.” Dr. Fernandez is a great example of adjusting to

virtual learning and making the best of a difficult situation, we are so grateful for her and all the teachers for

making virtual learning the best it can be.

Beloved Oakton physics teacher, Ms. Condino, recently spoke in a webinar for aerospace education

and was run by the national aerospace association and national aviation hall of fame. Ms. Condino

had the opportunity to share her teaching experience in Preciado, Texas. She recounted how the

experience of teaching in this small town on the border of Mexico was the highlight of her career, but also

the hardest challenge for her. Ms. Condino brought physics to those students who never had the opportunity

before and started a rocketry program with the NASA Student launch initiative. Her program with the

students made it to the national finals and even the group was invited to the White House and met President

Obama. Ms. Condino shared in an interview, “ As a teacher you need to be creative in your strategies.” Ms.

Condino’s story is truly inspiring and we are so grateful to have her in the physics department at Oakton

High School.

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