September 10, 2021



Ben Davis High School Volume 87

1200 N. Girls School Rd. Issue 1

Covering Wayne Township since 1933

Indianapolis, IN 46214 September 10, 2021

2 Spotlight Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN September 10, 2021

COVID LEADERSHIP Dr. Jeff Butts became the

face of the township during the Covid pandemic.

He could be found on the sidelines of a football

game (left) or spending 18 hours doing a drive-in

graduation (below). Butts also was active in food

distribution events, has worked with other superintendents

in Marion County and has led Wayne

Township through a difficult 18 months. (Submitted

photo (right) and photo by Tom Hayes)

What do we do now?

By Lexie Bordenkecher





we would never have

thought that we would

still be here.

Yet, here we are, still, with Covid

cases hitting another peak.

Recently, Indiana exceeded 4,000

new cases in a day for the first time

since January, a time when Wayne

Township schools were completely


You may be thinking, “if we

were completely virtual in January,

when Covid cases were as high as

they are now, why aren’t we at least

hybrid now?”

Well, the biggest difference is

that there are more people vaccinated

now than there were before.

In January, the Covid-19 vaccine

was just beginning to be distributed.

Now, 45% of Indiana residents

and 51% of Marion County resi-

Butts guides Wayne through another year of Covid

“My desire is to keep as many

students in brick-and-mortar

attendance, for as many days

as possible, for as long

as possible.”

- Dr. Jeff Butts

dents are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Jeff Butts, Superintendent

of Wayne Township Schools, has

been working diligently again this

year to prepare our schools for any

and all circumstances.

“I asked our principals to prepare

for any of the scenarios we were in

last year,” Butts said. “Our administrators

and teachers will be ready

to shift to a different teaching and

learning if the data forces us to.

However, my desire is to keep as

many students in brick-and-mortar

attendance, for as many days as

possible, for as long as possible.”

Obviously returning to a hybrid

schedule or virtual learning is less

than ideal, and it would mean that

another year would be incomplete.

However, according to Butts, “if

we move into the IDOH Red Advisory

Zone, we will have to strongly

consider making a change.”

Currently, Marion County is in

the Orange Advisory Zone at a positivity

rate of 11.4. To enter the Red

Zone, the positivity rate will have

to jump to 15%.

Dr. Butts noted that many of last

year’s policies have been reinstated.

“Last year at this time, every one

of my meetings was virtual,” he

said. “Last year we were adding 19

new teachers to join almost 70 others

as Wayne@Home teachers.

“Last year, grades 6-12 attended

on a hybrid schedule. Last year at

this time, we were still working on

the procedures to distribute food,

school supplies, chromebooks,

etc.”, he continued, “This year, we

have been in school already for two

weeks and everyone is attending

five days a week.

“This year we have all of our protocols

from last year in place for

cleaning and sanitizing. This year,

we have ample stock of PPE and

each building has been stocked.

This year I am able to attend both

in-person meetings and virtual


Wayne Township is still following

the guidance that the CDC and

IDOH provides, but Senate Bill

5 transferred pandemic decision

making to be made by locally elected


Butts speaks weekly with the

other Marion County superintendents,

and the Marion County Department

of Health. At this time,

it is unknown as to if any further

changes will be made by the Mayor,

IDOH, or Dr. Butts himself. Only

the Covid numbers will control

what directions schools follow.

Butts concluded by saying, “We

will need more people who are

eligible to get vaccinated. We will

also need all people to take precautionary

measures that will protect

themselves and protect others,

both inside of the school and while

in the community.”

Covid still

in charge

of planning

Reporter Brooklynn Sharp reached out to assistant principal Jessica Earnest to get the scoop on

plans for school activities this year. Her reply follows.

“We are continuing to watch and navigate through the pandemic. With that being said, we want

to continue to offer as many traditional experiences for our students as possible. Right now, we don’t

plan on having any pep rallies, as that takes instructional time away from our students and teachers,

but are looking for ways to highlight and celebrate each other through different events at homecoming

and end of the year events like prom. Like we have learned through the pandemic, things may be

altered or change due to the safety risks, but our staff, school, and district are committed to making

sure that we celebrate one another (even if it may look different than in the past).”

September 10, 2021 Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN Spotlight


Covid kept McGowan busy

A look at how athletics

handled the pandemic

By Lexie Bordenkecher


The 2020-2021 fall and

spring sports seasons

were an experience like

no other. With the changing

schedules, and constant quarantines,

there were lots of hoops to

jump through to make the athletes

have somewhat normal seasons.

After starting the school year

two weeks later than planned,

the fall athletes had to get right to

work. Assistant athletic director,

Heather McGowan, shared some

insight into the hard work that was

needed to keep our school’s sports

up and running last year.

“I was glad that we had live instruction

when we went completely

virtual, I think that was beneficial

to our scholars,” McGowan

said. “We knew that limited capacity

would be problematic to our

department, but our focus was on

keeping our student-athletes academically

eligible and competing

safely and that’s what we did.”

The athletic programs operated

under strict guidelines, including

wearing masks during transitions

BUSY BUSY BUSY Assistant athletic director Heather McGowan not only dealt with an ever-changing athletic schedule

during the pandemic, but also helped her senior son get ready for college while living through a global pandemic. (Photo

by Anyolina Contreras)

and on the bench. When an athlete

tested positive for Covid-19,

they were required to quarantine

just like any other student. There

were athletes that had to quarantine

due to close-contact tracing,

which provided difficulties for the

teams. When other teams had an

excessive amount of quarantines or

positive cases, games had to be cancelled

or postponed.

“It was like a full year of spring

rainouts,” McGowan said.

Not only did McGowan have to

deal with an ever-changing athletic

calendar, but she also has a son who

was going through his senior year

of high school, so college planning

and making sure life was as normal

as possible were also on her plate.

“As a mom and a certified athletic

trainer, I was completely

comfortable with my son, his

teammates, and all of our studentathletes

competing in athletics,”

she added, “ I knew all of the safety

precautions we were taking and all

of the policies we had put in place

and how diligently our coaches and

our certified athletic training staff

were working to keep our studentathletes

safe. I also knew how important

it was for their mental and

emotional well-being as well as

their academic success.”

Because of the inability to have

fans in the stands at most sporting

events last year, McGowan says

there was a significant financial

loss. If you are able, be sure to go

and support our Giants this year.

Robinson stays active during pandemic

Senior athlete

does it all

staff report

Kansas Robinson is a three-sport

athlete who also excels in the classroom.

She is ranked in the Top 10 of

the senior class and is also a member

of BDTV and a leader of our

purple rain student cheer section.

Robinson answered some questions

about living through a global

pandemic as a high school studentathlete.

When Covid first was announced, what

were your thoughts?

“When Covid was first announced

I wasn’t too worried because

at first we were told we’d

only be out for two weeks which

didn’t seem that bad. But then 2

weeks turned into months.”

Your missed your spring high school

season as a sophomore. What was that


“The softball team was looking

really good that year and I was

looking forward to having a good

season. On the other hand school

NOT SLOWING DOWN Senior Kansas Robinson (right) is a purple rain spirit leader as well as a three-sport athlete

who also excels in the classroom. She feels the pandemic has helped make her a more determined student. (Photo by

Ricardo Torres)

was a lot easier and I had a lot of

free time.”

What do you remember most about Covid

when it first came around?

“What I remember most about

Covid when it first came around

was how packed the grocery stores

were and how quickly everything

was running out. I remember it was

hard for my mom to even find toilet

paper, which was crazy.”

As an athlete, what have been your

biggest concerns playing sports during a

global pandemic?

My biggest concerns as an athlete

has been getting any of my

seasons canceled especially when

we’re doing well and seem to be

going down a good path. There’s

always that thought in the back

of my mind that at any moment it

could be over.

How do you think BD sports have reacted

during the Covid outbreak? Do you

think anything should have been done differently?

“I feel like BD athletics have reacted

well to the Covid outbreak.

Something I wish we would’ve

done differently is keeping better

track of tracing and making sure

that freshman jv and varsity teams

didn’t mix up so that if one person

comes up with covid the whole

program won’t have to get shut


What is the biggest lesson you have

learned throughout this pandemic?

“Definitely the biggest thing i’ve

learned through Covid is to never

take anything for granted. Whether

that’s playing sports, spending

time with loved ones, eating out, or

even going to the store.”

When we were in lockdown, what did

you miss the most?

“When we were on lock down

the thing I missed the most was

seeing my friends and eating out.”

What was the most difficult thing about

playing sports during Covid?

“The most difficult thing while

playing sports is probably having

to wear my mask. As I start to work

out it gets pretty hard to breathe.”

4 Spotlight Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN September 10, 2021

“I love what I do. The experiences you get

just being in marching band in general is so

much fun, and now that I’m a drum major I

get to be able to carry more traditions and

really get close to everyone. “

- junior Lauren Vescovi

Marching to their own beat

With a year lost to

Covid, drum majors

excited about season

By Raelynn Hughes

staff writer

The Ben Davis marching

Giants had a down season

in 2020.

Many of our talented

students haven’t had the chance to

live out their high school music careers

to the fullest, but as the year

starts back up and things get back

to “normal” some of these students

get to have a little bit of that experience.

This year’s band department

has two new drum majors, senior

Jackson Feasel and junior Lauren

Vescovi, and they’re finally starting

to get back into the swing of things.

“As drum majors it’s our job to

make sure rehearsals run smoothly,”

Feasel said, “Everything gets

taken out on time and put away

afterwards (the metronome, podiums,

generators, etc.), to make sure

there aren’t any issues between our


The drum majors are important

because they are the right hand to

the directors, bridging whatever

gap may exist between teacher and


“We are the first communicators

between the band and the directors,”

Feasal said. “We do attendance,

make calls for our missing

members. We conduct the show

and help set people’s spots.”

If it were in a jokingly manner he

would compare it to “being parents

to about 100 kids.”

The selection process to become

a drum major involves holding clinics

for introductions, then student

auditions, and then directors select

from the amount of students that


Covid didn’t change the audition

process, but it did change the job of

being a drum major.

“The full experience is diminished.”

Feasel said. “We lost a lot

of people in the program due to Covid.

We aren’t able to do the things

we normally do.”

Vescovi has also had some strug-

BAND LEADERS Senior Jackson Feasel (left) and junior Lauren Vescovi are the

drum majors for the 2021 marching season. (Photo by Ricardo Torres)

gles with Covid.

“We have had to miss out on opportunities

and activities that happen

every season. One example of

this is a drum major camp hosted at

Ball State University. All the drum

majors I know before me have attended

that camp and have said it is

one of the best experiences of their

career as drum majors.”

Due to Covid, Ball State did not

hold that camp this past summer

and any trips out of the Marion

County area have been discouraged.

Not only has Vescovi’s drum major

experience been interrupted,

but last year’s missed opportunities

still lingers over her. The competition

season was cancelled last year

so marching season did not include

a whole “show” but rather smaller

shows that changed weekly.

“Even though I wasn’t a drum

major last season, it had a long lasting

effect on all of us, especially

the seniors,” she said of the missed

year. “Not only were we not able

to compete, but we had to cancel

our planned production and switch

to a new one that was just the use

of halftime shows. This was extremely

hard on us because we had

to hear the music for the first time,

which got everyone super excited.

Unfortunately just as we started

to learn the production, it had to

come to an end.”

These talented young musicians

has had their musical torn apart

due to this virus, but as we continue

to learn and achieve, they should

be getting their musical high school

experience back in no time.

September 10, 2021 Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN Spotlight


Hard work pays off

It’s safety first for Fessler and his Wayne Township Covid team

By Raelynn Hughes

staff writer

Covid has no doubt

changed peoples lives,

families, and careers.

Many hard working

people’s whole work environment


One day they were free to wear

makeup, use a computer, walk

around without a worry, the next

they were doing half their face of

makeup because they had to wear

masks, sanitize their hands and

computer before they could use it,

and were restricted to their desk

and classrooms because they had to

socially distance themselves from


Even though these sound awful,

these changes were to make sure

everyone stays safe.

Kyle Fessler, former Chairman

for the Facilities Committee for

the Roadmap Back to School Task

Force and Deputy Human Resources

Officer, was in charge of coming

up with these procedures to keep

everyone safe and healthy.

“The main concern during Covid

was the health and safety of our

students and staff.” Fessler said,

“We worked to create systems that

would assist in keeping students

and employees safe.

“The largest challenge during

Covid was managing the staff quarantine

situations. When a classified

staff member was experiencing

symptoms of Covid, tested positive

for Covid, or was in close contact

with someone with Covid, that

staff member had to quarantine.”

Fessler wasn’t the only one

working on making decisions for

the township. He worked with

wonderful people who spent a

great amount of time working together

to keep Wayne schools safe

and clean environments.

“I worked with a great team of

administrators, teachers, and other

staff to determine what items and

processes our school buildings

would need during the 2020-2021

school year to help keep our students

and staff safe,” Fessler said.

“We met several times during the

Spring and Summer of 2020.”

Making these important decisions

wasn’t an easy task. There

were many steps to coming up with

solutions to the Covid problems.

“First, we conducted a needs assessment

to figure out what materials

we already had, and which

procedures that were already in

place would meet guidelines that

we were going to follow in our

schools,” Fessler said. “For example,

did we already have hallway

procedures in place to allow for social


“ Next, we broke into sub groups

and looked at the following areas --

cleaning and sanitizing protocols,

Trainers discuss changes

caused by Covid

J a c o b


“Training in

2020 was


a challenge

for coaches,

athletes, and

athletic trainers


to previous

years. To start, spring sports and

offseason workouts for other

sports were cancelled in March

2020. On top of that, summer

conditioning/practice did not

begin until after July 4th. Typically

high school teams begin

conditioning on the first Monday

of summer vacation. This

“lost time” led to deconditioned,

dehydrated, and more injuryprone


“In addition to the challenges

with deconditioned athletes, Covid

restrictions also made things

more complicated. In past years

athletes shared water bottles,

towels, treatment tables, rehab

equipment, and lockers. All of

that went out the window in

2020. Everything needed to be

sprayed, wiped, and disinfected.”

J e n n y

Ruano: “We

really had to

crack down

on sharing of

water bottles,

towels, and

other equipment-


that’s a good

thing because

that’s just better overall hygiene

practices. We also changed our

from the old pencil and

paper to the digital QR code

since making things digital

seems to be more COVID friendly.

Along those lines, we created

a Google classroom with generic

rehab plans and exercises and

encouraged athletes to do rehab

at home.

“The biggest change though

was the return to play progression

for our COVID positive athletes;

because it’s a respiratory

virus we have to make sure the

symptoms and potential lingering

side effects haven’t caused

problems to their lungs or heart,

which are obviously very crucial

organs for someone while exercising.”

student arrival procedures and student

dismissal procedures, hallway

procedures, front office protocols,

nurses office protocols, classroom

procedures, athletics and PE facilities

protocols. Once the facilities

committee identified the procedures

and items (for example, the

Foamy IQ hand sanitizer dispenser

for every classroom and the electrostatic

sprayers that the custodians

use) that we needed, I worked with

the chairs of the other committees

to put together a proposal for the

school board.

“Our proposal had to include

multiple layers to account for the

possibilities of complete in-person

instruction, complete virtual learning,

or a hybrid plan.”

Even though it seems very stressful,

Fessler loved working with the

other members of the members of

the Committee for the Roadmap

Back to School Task Force and said,

“The people in that group were so

dedicated and insightful.”

The people of Wayne Township

worked so hard to make sure the

students and teachers of Wayne

Township remained at a state

where they could come to school

and feel healthy and secure, so all of

the hand sanitiser and disinfectant

wipes will all be worth it in the future

when we can come to school

and not have to worry about social

distancing and wearing masks.

COVID LEADERSHIP Wayne Township was fortunate to have leaders in place

like Kyle Fessler, who led a task force with the job of making sure our return to

school was done safely. (Submitted photo)

Purdue senior finds a way

By Zoe Harris

staff writer

During the COVID-19 pandemic,

students had much more to worry

about than coursework. Some

had to worry

about financial


mental health

problems, or

contracting the

virus. All of that

paired with the

constant stress

of being successful

in college would make for a

very overwhelming experience.

While we are not out of the

woods yet, many things have

changed to make things easier for

students everywhere. Jordan Harris,

a senior at Purdue University,

talks about how Covid affected her

educational journey.

“I think it was probably twofold,”

Harris said. “I think that one

of the hardest parts was just entirely

adapting your way of learning,

because up until then, my first

20 however many years of life it

was like you’re sitting in a classroom,

and your teacher is there, and

talking to you, and then we didn’t

have that. We were on a laptop.

And that’s probably not exclusive

to college, but I mean in college,

arguably the content is more difficult

so it’s harder to learn harder

things in an entirely new way. In a

way that you haven’t had to learn

before. The second part of that, I

think, is definitely the social isolation,

if you will, just because so

much of being in college is social

experience. That’s like half of the

point of being there, and that was

severely reduced during that Covid


Harris said having a goal is important.

“I guess graduating is always a

motivation, right?” she said. “But it

was mostly just trying to be hopeful

that it wouldn’t last forever. So it

was like, ‘I know it’s difficult right

now, but in two years, and we’re

going back to somewhat normal, I

don’t want my grades to hinder me.

I don’t want my lack of effort right

now to come back and hurt me in

the future.”

Harris offers her advice.

“You are more important than

anything academic,” she said. “Academics

and grades are a part of who

you are, maybe, as a person, but in

general, if you are not doing well, if

you are not feeling well: mentally,

physically, whatever, that has to be

taken care of first. In a pandemic,

a lot of people’s health actually is

compromised, so that has to be

the first thing. Secondly, reach out

when you need help. And that’s

very hard. I just think because we

were in circumstances that were

so crazy, better professors were

receptive to that and knew that

things were difficult, so they were

willing to help you out if you were

willing to ask. So those go hand in

hand. One, taking care of yourself

well, and if you’re struggling to do

that, ask for help. Especially on a

college campus, with people whose

job it is to make sure that you have

what you need and that you’re doing


6 Spotlight Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN September 10, 2021

Harrison gets the degree

Despite Covid setbacks, choir director earns her Masters

By Mary Adams

managing editor

If you’ve heard of the choir

department, you’ve probably

heard of Amanda Harrison.

Harrison is the head director

of choirs. But did you know

Harrison has just recently received

her Master’s Degree in Education

Administration and Supervision

from Ball State?

Wanting to get a broader lens on

education, Harrison started pursuing

her Master’s in July 2019. She

finished in June 2021, and received

an administrator’s license, all while

raising a family during a global pandemic.

Harrison had already been in a

classroom for 15 years, and she had

experienced education from an upclose

perspective, and through getting

her Master’s she was able to

get a whole new perspective.

“My Master’s program allowed

me to see education from 30,000

feet,” Harrison said.

Harrison got to learn different

things such as how leadership

throughout school can affect the

school and community.

“I am passionate about students

and passionate about education,

and by continuing to broaden my

skill set, I learned new aspects of

educational engagement that have


Day 2021

helped me grow as an educator,”

she said.

Balancing work, school, and her

family at home, Harrison had to

learn to manage her time. One way

she was able to manage everything

was by having a strong support system.

Her husband helped with responsibilities

around the house

and with their kids. After school,

she would have to balance being a

mother and a student. She wanted

to make sure her kids got quality

time and attention from her, but

also had to keep on top of all her


Harrison recommends setting up

a strong support system; her’s includes

her husband, mentors, and

her colleagues.

“You have to surround yourself

with a strong support system in all

areas of your life who can lift you

up, bear some of the stress along

the way, and share in your successes,”

Harrison said.

For any teacher considering a

masters, Harrison recommends doing

research on different programs.

Every program is set up differently

and will go over different things,

so you need to do what’s best for

you. You’ll need to devote time to

your classes, and may have to move

things around to get it done.

Harrison says your time needs to

be protected.

“You can do that by learning how

to prioritize, set and keep a (study)

schedule, and setting boundaries

(i.e. saying “No” to extras that don’t

support your goals),” Harrison said.

Choir hits the brakes

Hughes discusses

Covid challenges

By Mawaddah Aminou

staff writer

Choir -- a lively, fun, engaging

activity for students who love to


At least, that’s what it was until

Covid struck.

The choir department faced a

great challenge after the school

was shut down and everyone was

sent online.

Show choir isn’t something that

can be done through a computer,

so all concerts and competitions

were cancelled.

“We were pushed to the limit

to come up with positive choir experiences

to overcome one of the

most trying times in American history.

Along with that, we had to

be incredibly creative with ways

to teach choir VIRTUALLY,” says

Jericho Hughes, choir director.

Although we returned to seminormality

last year, the restrictions

on singing and social distancing

didn’t lift.

“Because the transmission rate of

Covid was thought to be higher if

groups were singing, the CDC recommendations

did not allow more

than 12 students singing at a time,”

Hughes said. “Those students had

to be at least 10 feet apart and wear

a mask.”

So kids couldn’t sing together or

compete for two years.

“Because of the lack of choir activities,

we have found that many

students chose other activities or

had begun to lose their passion for

singing,” Hughes said.

Things seem to be looking up

however, as social distancing

guidelines and safety recommendations

get more lax.

“The new CDC recommendations

are much more feasible than

those that were in place last year.,”

Hughes said. “This year, we are able

to sing and dance as a full ensemble,

as long as distance is kept and

masks are worn.

“While it is still not ideal to try

and sing and dance in a mask, we

are incredibly grateful in the choir

department to have been given the

OK to sing as a full choir and look

forward to returning to public performances

this semester.”

Although things seem to be on

their way back to normal, Corona

is not yet gone, and its effects can

still be seen in students and staff


“I hope we are all able to critically

think about the way the

pandemic has altered our state of

mind,” Hughes says hopefully, “and

are able to return to our more motivated

and self-driven selves.”

HELPING OUT Choir teacher Jericho Hughes helps senior Benjamin Brewer

during class. (Photo by Anyolina Contreras)

September 10, 2021 Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN Spotlight


Hidden heroes

Jacobs helps keep us safe

at township level

By Mary Adams

managing editor

When people think

of people who

work at schools,

they think of the


However, there are tons of other

people who make our schools run

successfully, including our nurses.

There are 18 nurses and two sub

nurses throughout the township.

Jessica Jacobs is the lead nurse

for Wayne Township. Jacobs

works at Ben Davis University and

Wayne Township Preschool, and

because she is the lead nurse, she’s

the person the other nurses go to

when they need something.

School nurses do a lot more than

we realize. At the beginning of the

year, they have to go through our

immunization and medical records.

Students have to be up to date on

immunizations, and if a student

isn’t up to date, they need to send

letters home to parents. Nurses

may need to contact doctors for

medical orders for students.

Nurses also treat students who

come in to their clinics. This could

involve distributing medications,

dealing with an injury, or helping

with a student that doesn’t feel


“Now that we have Covid to

worry about, it brings a lot more

duties to our plate,” Jacobs said.

Nurses are seeing more and more

students and receiving more phone

calls. As Covid spreads, more people

aren’t feeling well and are getting


So what do nurses do when students

get Covid? Nurses help the

school contact trace and send exposed

students home. If someone

has Covid symptoms, the nurses

isolate them, call parents, and have

them quarantined. Quarantine

lasts ten days, but they can come

back sooner if they get a negative

Covid test or different orders from

a doctor.

“Wayne Township has some of

the best and most dedicated nurses

around,” Jacobs said. “ We all have

been working extremely hard,

putting in long hard days. I am

so proud to be part of an amazing

team of nurses..”

Covid definitely has changed the

duties of school nurses.

“The last year and a half the nurse

clinics have been the busiest, especially

this year,” Jacobs said. “The

Covid numbers are on the rise and

we are all feeling it in the clinics.

During this hard time in our

schools, all we can do is show and

ask for grace.”

Jacobs urges everyone to be cautious

of our actions and make sure

everyone is safe. Making sure we

keep safe distances and wear masks

properly (above the nose) is what is

keeping us in school. Not following

these procedures impact everyone

around us.

“The Covid numbers are

on the rise and we are

all feeling it in the clinics.

During this hard time

in our schools, all we can

do is show and ask for


- Jessica Jacobs

SCHOOL NURSE Peggy Geoghegan is one of two school nurses at Ben Davis. The two are located in the school clinic

next to student services. (Photo by Aesha Patel)

staff report

Geoghegan discusses how Covid

has affected nursing

Peggy Geoghegan has seen

changes to her profession come and

going during her time at Ben Davis.

She answered some question about

how Covid has affected her profession.

What do you think the biggest challenges

were as a school nurse during this


“A big challenge for us is keeping

up with the volume of questions

coming from the students ,parents,

staff, and community.”

How difficult has navigating through

Covid been as a school nurse?

“It has been easy for us to navigate

Covid as information has been

consistently provided and support

given to us by our administration,

our lead nurse and the Ed Center.

What are the biggest changes to your job

brought about by Covid?

“We are Covid nurses too. We

have spent almost all of our time so

far dealing with Covid communication

which leaves no time for our

other clinic responsibilities.”

What do you miss most about life pre-


“Taking a lunch break. Some

days we feel so rushed to spend the

time we would like to with students

as we have been in high demand.

We also miss the days when

we did not wear a mask.”

What have been the biggest challenges

facing nursing in general during this pandemic?

“I think some of the biggest challenges

for nursing in general is just

the unknown about Covid and the

lack of people to provide the care,

support and treatment to patients

and families.”

How do you think our medical response

to Covid will be viewed five years

from now?

“I would hope the view would be

that the best decisions were made

medically at the time it was needed

with the information we had. We

obviously will know a lot more in

five years, but we’re doing the best

we can now with what we know.”

What do you think are the biggest

medical lessons we have learned during


“I would hope a lesson learned

would be the importance of touch

and how isolation has affected the

young, old and in between. I

think we will see the effects of this

isolation for years to come.”

Yearbook editor Ricardo Torres wants to know:

Have you ordered your 2022 yearbook yet?

Order at

or from Mr. Hayes in X109

8 Spotlight Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN September 10, 2021

What to do?

Edwards takes a break from Covid to visit Morocco

By Mawaddah Aminou

staff writer

Covid-19, the bane of

everyone’s existence.

Ever since Corona

reared her ugly head in

2020, everything changed.

So many people across the

world were affected. One such

person is Melissa Edwards, a secretary

here at Ben Davis, meaning

she answers the phones, checks

in guests, oversees the student

parking lot, monitors the front

entrance security, assists parents

with student drop offs and assists

students with any information

they may need for direction.

It’s a lot for one person, but she

absolutely loves it, and loves the


Then, Corona struck, and it hit

her just as hard as the next person,

if not harder. All of it was

ripped away in a heartbeat, and

being someone who is absolutely

enamored with her job, it was

very hard on her, to say the least.

“It was very difficult mentally

and emotionally,” Edwards said.

“I love my job and I love the students.”

She did her best at home, creating

a group email with 30 or

more students, making efforts

to check up on them and remind

them to stay on track.

“I tried to keep them focused

despite the situation we were in

and seeing and hearing about it

everywhere from social media, to

the news, to the radio, and our

surroundings,” she said.

Staying at home all day soon

got to be too much for her,

though, and she eventually got a

part time job.

“I knew there was work out

there to be done and many people

were not able to do it safely. I

masked up, took precautions and

did it,” she said.

After the rest of the 2020

school year was put on hiatus,

completing the 2020-2021 year

hybrid, things seemed to be looking


Corona had not yet released

the world from its clutches, but

with the making of the vaccines,

the world was finally ready to

fight back. With masking, social

distancing and now the vaccine,

it seemed like we stood a chance.

The vaccines kept getting approved

for more age groups,

more people started to get it -- it

seemed like things were finally

starting to look up.

Edwards wanted to go to

Morocco, except “The country

opened up for travel only for natives

of the country so I was not

able to travel,” she says dejectedly.

“Fall break, winter break and

spring break seemed to still not

be the safest.”

Edwards already had a connection

to Morocco, having adopted

a son from there. To make a trip

there just seemed natural to her

so the planning began.

Then, finally, this summer

seemed to be the right time, “Covid

was better so I planned my

trip with the help of my mom.

“The trip felt like a huge break

from America,” she said (which

we all know is well needed by

the way), “but still reminded me

of Covid in many ways like the


Though she was in a different

country, Covid was very much

still alive, and Morocco did well

to make sure she remembered


She still wore a mask wherever

she went, as they were very strict

on enforcing that rule. So strict

to the point where, “In some

parts of my trip you even had

to wear a mask in your own car

while driving. If you did not, you

were issued a ticket from the police,”

she said.

Yikes. But precautions are precautions

and are, at the end of

the day, very necessary. Edwards

didn’t let that keep her from enjoying

herself though.

She went to Casablanca, Laayoune,

Meknes, Marrakesh, and

Bensilium. She even got to meet

up with someone she had met online,

and helped reunite his mom

with her long lost brother.

“His mom was looking for her

brother in the U.S. because she

had not heard from him in a long

time, and I was asked to help

through a friend,” she said. “Anyhow,

long story short I found the

brother. The family is awesome

and I felt like I had known them


Finally, after a long time of

living her best life, it was time

to come back home; “I was not

ready to come back. I could have

stayed longer but it was time to

come home and get ready to return

to work.”

After her remarkable trip, she

has this to say, “Covid still continues

to be a learning experience

and challenge for me, but I

am glad we are back in school as

“normal” as can be. I just want

everyone to do the right thing. I

also look forward to visiting Morocco


September 10, 2021 Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN Spotlight



it work

LIKES BEING HERE Junior Nadia Rivera-Hernandez writes that being in school is the best option to her when it comes

to education. She felt that the online option did not suit her learning style. (Photo by Aesha Patel).

Please, not again

Here’s a vote ‘no’ for online learning

By Nadia Rivera

staff writer

As Covid-19 came around,

the world came to a


Suddenly we were all

sent home and we all thought this

was going to be an extended spring

break. Turns out we wouldn’t be

returning to school, so what was

the solution? Online schooling.

At first, online school wasn’t as

bad because we were all new to

it. It was pretty simple since the

school year was about to end. The

next school year was much more

different than the past months.

Teachers and students knew what

to do since they had some time to

experience online schooling.

When the option of going fully

online or going to school was out,

many kids like me were either

scared of going back to school or

they genuinely thought it was going

to be a lot easier than going to

in person school during the pandemic.

For some students it was

their parents who didn’t want their

kids to go to school and potentially

get covid. For me it was not going

to school for my safety and for my

family’s safety. I thought this was

a wonderful Idea. What could go


Everything went downhill from

there. I started falling behind in my

assignments, my grades were the

worst they have ever been in my

life. I was failing online school.

I personally thought that these

teachers under the online school

had videos or at least Google meetings

to teach me the lessons. All

they did was just hand you all the

units and have you do them on your

own. If you had any questions all

you could do was email them. Some

teachers did reply and tried to help

you but at times others never answered.

That left me with no hope. I felt

like I was hopeless and had no one

to talk to. I tried to have some family

and friends help me with my assignments

but it got to the point

where they couldn’t help me anymore

because they were busy as


At that moment I decided to give

up. I started not doing my work and

only finished the courses that barely

had any work in them. Everyday I

would just sleep and never used my

computer. There were a few times

where I would try to do my work

from other classes but all it would

do was make me give up and decide

not to do anything that day. That

same year I had lost someone very

special to me. That really was my

breaking point. I became depressed

and even more lazy. I didn’t want to

do anything.

I became more and more frustrated

with myself. I wanted to

do better. I wanted to be able to

actually do my work. I wanted to

be mentaly better. I tried to get a

grip on myself by trying to finish

my courses. That didn’t go to plan

since I only ever finished two of my

classes. By the time it was finals

week, I only ever did two of my finals.

The rest I didn’t even bother

to do.

I quickly realized that online

school was not it for me. I told my

parents what was going on with

school and why I haven’t been doing

all my work.

They figured out I wasn’t doing

anything since they would get

calls almost every week about how

I wasn’t logging in and doing my

work from classes. We decided

that it was the best option for me

to return to school.

At first I was scared because I

didn’t want to get my family sick

but I knew it was the right choice.

I needed to go back in order to save

my grades.

Once I finally came back to

school I was doing much better.

My mental health was better since

I would spend my time with my

friends at school. My grades went

back to the normal A’s. I was generally

doing way better in school

then online school.

I decided that I would never be

going back to online schooling. It

truly was the best option for me.

Zellers gets creative

with his academics

By Grant Zellers

guest writer

When Covid hit in 2020, I experienced

a lot of difficulties like

other people.

When we first went to online

learning in March of 2020, I was

very excited to stay home every

day. Despite that, I fell behind

on my online assignments pretty

quickly because I spent my days

on my PlayStation with friends and

got sick with what I think was Covid.

I procrastinated a lot of my

schoolwork until the last minute,

and didn’t start catching up until

three weeks till the end of the

school year. Despite this, I was able

to get everything turned in and get

credit for things.

Going into junior year in August

of 2020, I knew that I was terrible

at online school, and it would take

work to make sure that I stayed

caught up with school and didn’t

fall behind. However, I fell behind

with school work again and by fall

break I had to work hard to get

caught up.

When school went all online, it

wasn’t too bad of a transition; the

worst part about it was having to

have a limited swim season and not

getting to do many things we traditionally


Once school went to hybrid and

then to full time, I found it challenging

to do tests in person, and I

had to work hard to pass some of

the classes that would have usually

been easy for me. I eventually powered

through and made it to this

year, where I am looking forward

to graduating.

STUDYING HARD Senior Grant Zellers is rated No. 1 academically in the Class

of 2022. He is part of a class who has experienced multiple methods of education

during their time in high school. (Photo by Aesha Patel)

10 Spotlight Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN September 10, 2021

Covid concerns

From mental health to producing plays, Fraley saw it all

staff report

Ben Fraley teaches mass

media and helps produce

school plays. He went

through a lot during Covid

and he answered questions about

his journey.

What do you remember most about

when Covid first hit and we thought

school would be closed until after spring

break that year?

“I remember just trying to

breathe and tell myself that this

was just a small break and adjustment

period and then we would be

right back to school. I remember

how naive I felt when that small

break turned into a longer break

which turned into the school year

being ended and the long-isolated


What were some of your biggest challenges

preparing to go remote learning

that spring?

“The biggest challenge was figuring

out the best ways to engage

a group of classes that revolved

around using software that students

didn’t have access to and

classes that relied on in-person

interactions without the ability to

interact in person.

“There was a big challenge when

my anxiety got the best of me after

our Zoom class meeting got invaded

by strangers and they started

cursing and spamming the chat

with terrible things and I thought

that was going to be it for me mentally

and emotionally.

“It wasn’t, but it was definitely

a rough few weeks as we transitioned

and learned how to function


What were your biggest challenges last

year when we went through three different

styles of learning?

“The biggest challenge between

changing learning styles last year

was the shifting expectations of

both administration and students.

“I felt like administration had

one set of expectations and they

didn’t always align with what the

students needed. Students were

struggling with work/life balance

and mental health which meant

that the rigid meeting schedules

didn’t always seem like best practices.

“We lost a lot of learning time,

but sometimes we had to to maintain

a positive classroom environment.

These students went

through a trauma and I don’t think

that was something many teachers

or administrators focused on until

this current school year.”

What do you miss most about teaching

pre-Covid? About life pre-Covid?

“I miss the ability to allow students

to roam the room and create

a personalized community as they

worked. I miss the ability to work

one-on-one with students without

worrying about contact tracing. I

miss students feeling free to converse

and socialize with me and

their classmates instead of feeling

like they are “muzzled” at all times.

“As for life pre-Covid, I miss being

able to participate in activities

without judgment. I feel like our

society has become so judgemental.

“Every action we do is analyzed

and politicized now. I miss when

staying inside felt like an escape

from our busy lives and not an unending


What did you learn about yourself and

your career as a teacher during Covid?

“I believe I learned a lot about

BACK IN CLASS Mass media teacher Ben Fraley discusses a project with students.

(Photo by Aesha Patel)

how to say ‘No’ and not overcommit

myself. Having a built-in excuse

to not be involved in things

gave me the perspective to notice

that my life is just as fulfilling when

I am just spending time with family

as I thought it was when I was taking

on 10-20 projects at the same


“I also started going to therapy.

Being stuck inside with my own

thoughts for so long began to feel

overwhelming. I had been avoiding

therapy my whole life. I didn’t want

to admit that parts of me were broken.

I didn’t want medicine. When

I finally admitted that I needed to

talk, it made me feel more open and

helped me accept a more positive


“As for my career lessons, I

learned that education is still a

second-class profession in our

country. I saw how well my wife

and my friends were treated by

their employers throughout the

whole shutdown and even to this

day, while at the same time looking

at how the country has turned on

teachers. It is not surprising that

so many teachers have changed

professions. I’ll admit I even questioned

it a few times.”

How do you think students handled life

during the pandemic?

“I think it is a double-edged

sword. Some students loved it because

they could work full-time

and make money, which for many

in our community is a huge deal.

“Some hated it because their

home lives are problematic. We

have a high population of LGBTQ

students that don’t feel comfort-

able or seen at home, who were

forced to stay in a place where they

don’t feel loved. Many struggled

with mental health.

“I received countless emails from

students who disappeared from

classes or activities because they

just couldn’t manage mentally. I

think many enjoyed the free time

the online and hybrid model afforded

them, but really struggled with

the unexpected side effects.”

Could you take us through putting on

a production during Covid and the challenges

you faced with that?.

“The first struggle we had with

putting together a production during

Covid, was the uncertainty surrounding

whether or not we could

even have one. There were so many

restrictions on performing arts that

seemed to be changing daily.

“Frustrations definitely grew as

we didn’t seem to be seeing those

same restrictions in sports. We decided

to stay positive and continue

planning to have a show. Plans

changed every week.

“At one point, the musical was

going to be outside under the awning

by Door 2. At another point,

the musical was going to be in the

theater and be live-streamed.

“Within a span of a week, we

went from no audience at all, to a

select number of audience members

per actor, to being allowed to

have a full, socially-distanced audience.

“The rehearsals were difficult as

students danced and sang while

struggling to breathe and getting

overheated. We also had the actor

who played Scarecrow get quarantined

for the whole tech week.

“Thankfully everything came together,

but it was something I have

no interest in doing again.”

Bugay gets through Covid

BUSY BUGAY Business teacher Lisa Bugay diagrams a business problem on the

board during class. Bugay keeps busy selling and renting real estate after school

hours. (Photo by Aesha Patel)

staff report

Lisa Bugay teaches business and

marketing and also sells real estate

outside of school. She discussed her

feeling about Covid.

What do you remember most about

when Covid first hit and we thought

school would be closed until after spring

break that year?

“I was in shock and disbelief. I

really felt for the students who

would lose so much from not being

in person with us. The challenges

that they would face from virtual


What were some of your biggest challenges

preparing to go remote learning

that spring?

“Creating a virtual lesson was

probably the biggest challenges, we

had to be very creative and detailed.

Having to use a webcam made it

difficult to communicate with the

students because the only facial

feature I saw was their emoji.

What were your biggest challenges last

year when we went through three different

styles of learning?

“Designing lessons/assignments

in a variety of learning styles in order

to allow students a choice how

they wanted to complete the assignment.”

What do you miss most about teaching

pre-Covid? About life pre-Covid?

“Truly ‘seeing’ the students

without a mask on. Their true personality

has been hidden behind

their mask and only seeing their

eyes and not being able to see their

facial expressions.”

What did you learn about yourself

and your career as a teacher

during Covid?

“We can get through anything

now that we have been through

this as a teacher. I can handle

change but the physical exhaustion

at the end of the day was new for


How do you think students handled life

during the pandemic?

“It was a struggle for them mentally

and academically. I am glad

we are back to semi normal at least

in-person classes. I understand

and support the mandatory mask

mandate but cannot wait till that is

lifted once again.”

September 10, 2021 Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN Spotlight


‘She declined so quickly’

By Anaiah Wright

staff writer

To Cooper, Covid will be a memory all about his mom

Antoine Cooper is a senior

at Ben Davis with plans

to graduate with the

Class of 2022.

He is a returning member of the

school’s orchestra, where he plays

the violin. He is a cross country

runner and a member of the Ben

Davis track and field team, where

he throws a discus.

Cooper is very involved in athletics,

extracurriculars and his church.

He’s also a victim. A Covid victim

who experienced a deep, personal

loss this summer.

Antoine and his three siblings

encountered a hardship that they

couldn’t have seen coming. Antoine’s

mother, and former Ben Davis

treasurer, Belinda Rivers was

diagnosed with Covid-19.

Her symptoms began in late

May, when she experienced trouble

breathing and had heavy chest


She was visibly sick with the vi-

rus, which is something the family

had to adjust to. The first time she

was in the hospital, she was isolated

and eventually sent home with

oxygen to help with her labored


She wasn’t home for long before

the symptoms worsened and she

returned for further treatment.

The virus began taking over and

her caregivers felt that intubation

tubes were the best choice for her


Neither Antoine nor any of his

siblings displayed any Covid-19

symptoms, or tested positive for

Covid-19. However, they witnessed

their mother’s ongoing discomfort

and suffrage as they awaited progression

with her illness.

This was a rough time for Antoine,

his two sisters, and his brother.

They spent weeks managing her

absence. What was supposed to be

a hospital visit turned into month

long hospital stay, as Ms. Rivers’

sickness worsened.

As a result of Covid-19, she experienced

a lot of health issues

that extended beyond the standard

symptoms. The virus caused her

lungs and other internal organs to

stop functioning on their own, and

she was indefinitely sedated.

Antoine, as well as his two sisters,

Imani and Nina visited the

hospital frequently while still figuring

out how to keep themselves


Antoine attended cross-country

practices and worked in retail during

Ms. Rivers’s hospital stay, and

he even went and received both

doses of the Pfizer vaccine himself.

Antoine described his time away

from his mother as scary, and he

emphasized how hard it was to

“see her decline so quickly.” Antoine

and his siblings received a lot

of support from family friends and

their church during their time of


On July 7, 2021, Ms. Rivers passed

away. Her funeral service was held

in her hometown, Chicago, on July

19, 2021. Today she is missed by her

extended family, her two daughters

and her two sons, her church, and

her colleagues.

Her passing changed their family’s

dynamic in many different

ways because Ms. Rivers was the

homemaker and provider of her minor

children. Today, Antoine and

his younger sister, Nina are housed

with their pastors from the Bethel

Family Worship Center.

This allows for them to continue

to attend Ben Davis High School,

just as their mother had planned

for them. A lot has changed in Antoine’s

life and the loss of Ms. Rivers

struck some huge realizations.

Antoine remains a stellar student,

planning to attend an out-of-state

college in fall of 2022, and holds

dreams of becoming an engineer.

Antoine’s role in maintaining

normalcy and balance of his life is

nothing short of inspiring. It’s moving

to see how Antoine has become

a product of motivation, rather

than a product of sorrow.

He, as well as the rest of his siblings,

mourn the loss of Ms. Rivers,

but Antoine Cooper has such a

light presence that he is willing to

find a positive in every day. Antoine

was willing to share his experience

with his mother, as well as his personal

experience with coping.

Antoine says that what got him

through the crisis was his neverending

faith, and knowing that his

mother would want him to keep

going, and to not take any day for


This story, while attention grabbing,

is still someone’s reality. It’s

real. These are the statistics we

hear about on the news but never

bother changing anything until

it applies to us. Covid-19 has revealed

a lot of truths. One being

that younger generation generally

sees no value in what is given to us,

until it is gone.

Years and years from now, the

majority will associate the word

“Covid” with schools being shut

down, people getting sick, losing

freedom and falling off with

friends, but Antoine will associate

“Covid” with mom, and that is his


12 Spotlight Ben Davis High School Indianapolis, IN September 10, 2021

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