by Damien Hackett '21
The STA/NCS Cross Country team started the season off strong with its annual week-long trip in August to Camp Abnaki in North Hero, Vermont. Amidst the pristine beauty of Lake Champlain, the camp offers an opportunity for runners both new and returning to acclimate to the physical demands of the fall season while also providing runners with some time to relax and enjoy some free time before the start of a busy school year.
The first day begins as does every day of camp: early. The early morning hours of Monday find a jumbled mass of runners assembling in the Cathedral parking garage, some still half-asleep, for a 6 am departure. The buses are soon off and, 12 hours and a few rest stops later, the team arrives in Vermont. Here the first race of the cross country season begins: freshmen and sophomores, juniors and seniors sprint to claim a cabin in their respective areas. By the time the dust has settled, everyone is established in his or her bunk, their bed for the next week.
At 6 o’clock morning practice begins silently, with an inaugural warm up around the dew-laden fields and waterfront. Following practice, an excellent breakfast, and cabin inspection, runners have free time until the afternoon practice, something that defines the camp experience. Archery, volleyball, disc golf, ping pong, and basketball (no pickup games!) are all options, as are cards and simply relaxing outside.
Approaching the halfway point of camp, the team takes its ritual trip into the largest city of the Green Mountain State, Burlington. Although visiting the Ben & Jerry’s factory is no longer possible, runners can still indulge in large amounts of ‘sometimes food’ in the store, as well as experience the other attractions of Church Street, including the Outdoor Gear Exchange and Vermont Flannel. The following day a portion of the team makes the trip to Mt. Mansfield. The run is a formidable 4.5 mile route up the side of a toll road and ski slope, climbing more than 3,000 feet in elevation. The top offers a stunning view of Vermont and New York, as well as an opportunity for an equally stunning number of Instagram posts.
Camp begins to culminate in the Wigwam dance extravaganza, which is held not in the Wigwam but in the dining room, an area filled with low-hanging ceiling lanterns which have an unfortunate tendency to strike over-exuberant people jumping to “Sweet Caroline” in the head. The next day another core tradition of camp takes place: the Zany Olympics. Sorted into color-coded groups, runners compete in a number of physical and intellectual contests such as tug-of-war, dodgeball, knockout basketball, song naming, and even Quidditch.
Held on the last night of camp, campfire is a time where the entire team gathers to enjoy a bonfire and roast s’mores, but also take part in singing, stand-up comedy, and even a magic show. The quality of the performances range from genuinely impressive to somewhat less so, but the spirit of team camaraderie lasts long after the fire has died. After the next morning’s tempo run, the cabins are emptied and the buses loaded up, beginning the long journey back to DC. That night, no doubt happy to be sleeping in their own beds, cross country camp is but a fading memory for the team—until next time.
Thanks to the coaches, Camp Abnaki staff, and runners for another great week in Vermont.
by Annalise Weber '20, Charlotte Betts '19, Eliza Poggi '19, and Molly Brigham '19
On Saturday, September 1st, thousands of family members, loved ones, and many prominent political figures gathered together at the Washington National Cathedral to commemorate the life of Arizona Senator John McCain. All of these people came from varying political backgrounds and views but were brought together by the strength and leadership that McCain brought to the United States. This unification of many different viewpoints and political opinions was one of the many goals that Senator McCain strived to complete during his time in office. The physical unification of various views present and eulogizing at Senator McCain’s funeral was a moving a special way to honor such a prominent political figure.
Acting as “a house of prayer for all people”, the cathedral often asks the choristers to assist them in their core mission: to cater to a wide array of spiritual needs. The choristers were expected to treat McCain’s funeral no differently from a weekday evensong, or a Sunday morning mass; our purpose was to give dimension to the liturgy, and connect the audience through song. We did exactly that. Interspersed throughout impassioned eulogies, tributes, and prayer, we sang a psalm, and multiple patriotic hymns. Leading McCain’s close friends, family, and even ex-presidents in song, moved the service to a unique place, and was extremely powerful.
As choristers, we got the privilege to experience the series of eulogists live. They each took different approaches in honoring the senator’s legacy, ranging from Joe Lieberman’s lighthearted jabs to Meghan McCain’s tearful tribute to her father’s heroic role both on the battlefield and as a father. One concept each eulogy had in common, however, was McCain’s commitment to uniting Americans despite political differences. His genuine friendship with Obama was rare in our country’s polarized political environment. Even in his final days battling cancer, he maintained loyalty to causes aligned with his moral compass, even if it meant diverging with his party’s platform. In the nation as well as in our own communities, we fail to embrace diversity of thought and reject others’ opinions on political issues because they differ from our own. We use political party associations to define character. Honoring McCain’s legacy means reaching beyond this divide to develop a greater community and a greater America.
Interpretations of the funeral dominated the news cycle. Meghan McCain’s political eulogy and John McCain’s own exclusion of Trump from the service made the McCain family’s disapproval of the president clear. However, not only the choristers, but people around the nation were able to witness moments of bipartisanship either macro (Obama as a eulogist) or micro (Bush passing candy to Michelle). The inclusive mission of the “house of prayer for all people” allowed the cathedral to provide the perfect setting for the country to watch its leaders, for a moment, reconcile their differences and grieve for a fallen hero.
by Lilly Keller '19
In June, Avery Kean and I travelled to Haiti with our Church, St. Patrick’s, to participate in a service trip to our partner parish in the village of St. Etienne. St. Patrick’s has a long-standing relationship with St. Etienne, which includes an annual Haitian art show and sale at our church, and fundraisers such as the sale of Haitian coffee and other handmade goods to raise money to support their church and school. Our church also sponsors regular exchange and service trips for the adults in the community; however, this was the first time in recent years that students were able to attend.
Our group arrived at the airport in Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti, on June 16th, and from there we drove up to the mountain village of St. Etienne, where we would spend the majority of our trip. During our stay, we spent the mornings running a vacation bible camp for the children of the village, and our afternoons either working on other service projects or exploring the surrounding areas of the country. When most people think of Haiti, they think of the crowded urban environment of Port Au Prince; however, most of the country is rural. In fact, in St. Etienne, they do not have an electrical infrastructure, and most of their power comes from generators, but they still have excellent cell-phone service.
During our stay in the village, our local hosts provided us with amazing food at every meal and taught us about the beauty and culture of their country. While many of the adults in the community spoke English, the children did not. Therefore, in order to communicate with the children at the vacation bible camp, Avery and I (and the other students on the trip) had to learn as much Creole as possible, which in our case was very little. Despite the language barrier, the children were eager to learn from us and amazing to work with. Somewhat to my surprise, we also learned a lot from the kids, particularly about how to communicate without using words.
In the end, what started out for me as simply a service trip to an interesting place turned out to be a really enjoyable and educational experience. I was able to learn about Haiti’s natural beauty and complex culture while also making many personal connections with my church’s wider community. Avery really summed it up well, saying: “Haiti was incredible and I can’t wait to go back to St. Etienne’s someday.”
by Nadya Osman '19
“So what you’re seeing there is basically toxic gas coming from the reaction between titanium tetrachloride and oxygen. If you come into contact with that, you can die.”
That phrase, “you can die,” wasn’t one I heard often. However, after spending two summers in a chemistry lab at Georgetown University, I came to accept the fact that if I screwed up at any point, I could go to jail for involuntary manslaughter.
It was quite the responsibility.
I landed my position at the lab after doing some networking at a conference held at the university the spring of my sophomore year (that’s a crucial skill, kids). The first summer mainly consisted of trying to understand the way the lab worked. This year, I had more independence and conducted my own experiments. Essentially, I felt like a full-blown scientist.
And it was pretty damn cool.
There were different types of people in the lab, so let me set the stage. Firstly, there were the “mice.” These people were insanely smart but kept to themselves and refused to even say “excuse me” if they wanted to get past someone. There were the “alphas,” leaders of the group who were rigid about keeping people on track with work. There was the “guru,” the one guy in the lab who gave the greatest life advice (and lunch suggestions) to anyone who needed it. Then there was my corner of the pack: the “jokesters.” We were the people who knew how to make lab work fun and engaging. We had weekly ceramics contests using clay from a scientific instrument to see who was the most talented artist, we spent lunch periods debating whether Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande would last, and we planned watch parties with pizza for the World Cup every day from 10 AM to 5 PM for a week. Our catch phrase became: “Sure, we do chemistry!”
And we weren’t lying, because we actually did do chemistry. My lab was investigating the role of nitric oxide in biological reactions, focusing specifically on the copper complex present in many biological molecules. I personally worked with the functional group called thioethers, attempting to get it to form the copper complex. I won’t bore you with the details, but long story short, the experiment didn’t work. Which, hey, is okay! Science almost never works! But, I was proud of my ability to run a reaction whenever my mentor told me to. I could do the stoichiometry, measure the compounds, mix them, run a spectroscopy on it, and integrate the data into a neat graphic to show to my Principal Investigator.
Ultimately, what I really enjoyed most of all about the lab, and the cheesiest of all, was that I created a great group of important people in my life who I can reach out to for help whenever I need it, whether it be in the college process or just as leisure. Plus, I didn’t kill anyone, so I’d say my summer was a success.
by Will Holland '20
“A week is a lifetime in politics.” Perhaps no phrase rings more true with regards to the summer of 2018 and its political circus of lies, indictments, corruption, and dissension. To recount all of the past three months’ events in one article would be a nearly impossible task as individual days alone sometimes comprised of more news than entire months in previous administrations. However, there were some incidents that stood out from the rest by their sheer nature of being so downright insane that it would be hard to eclipse them with a general overview.
The summer began with President Trump’s Singapore Summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on June 11th. In the preceding weeks, the summit had been scheduled, cancelled after a North Korean diplomat called Vice President Mike Pence a “dummy,” and then scheduled again once the President offered to suspend the implementation of sanctions against the hermit kingdom.
Once both leaders had arrived for the first ever encounter between a North Korean dictator and his American counterpart, they appeared to get along well. After a visit which included the American president saluting a North Korean general as well as the DPRK and American flags being displayed in equal number behind the two leaders, the two sides announced an agreement.
However, what was billed as the first step towards denuclearization in North Korea was instead a series of vague statements that included an intention from North Korea to “comm[it] to work towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” a proposition that security analysts deemed as ridiculous regarding the lack of specifics in the document. Furthermore, in August the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, expressed “grave concern” after reviewing the North Korean nuclear program, despite President Trump’s repeated claims that he was responsible for ending North Korean nuclear weapons development. Nearly three months after the summit, what Kim’s true intentions are, and how much he is willing to cede in order to fulfill them, remain almost entirely unknown to all but those around him.
The next shocking moment of the summer occured in mid July during another diplomatic summit, this one between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. Due to the increasing ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election, the meeting was highly anticipated as many waited to see how President Trump would handle himself next to the man accused of launching a cyberwar against the United States in order to elect him.
The outcome was much worse than anyone had foreseen. When asked if he accepted the United States intelligence community’s findings of election interference on behalf of the Russian government, President Trump demurred, saying “President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be.” In what was perhaps the first instance of an American president accepting the word of a dictator instead of his own Director of National Intelligence, President Trump only created greater suspicion that he had undisclosed relations with the Russian government. Then-Senator John McCain called the incident “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” and to the American public, skepticisms over its Commander in Chief continued to grow.
On August 21, 2018 two of President Trump’s aids found themselves in legal trouble within one hour of each other. First, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight counts of financial crimes while the Alexandria, Virginia jury was hung on another ten, altogether adding to a potential maximum of eighty years in prison. Meanwhile, the longtime personal lawyer and “fixer” to the President, Michael Cohen, pled guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of falsifying bank submissions, and two counts involving unlawful campaign contributions. As if two former aids being convicted felons wasn’t already bad enough for President Trump, Cohen then told the judge that he had “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” made an illegal payment to keep two former porn stars quiet about affairs with his boss during the final days of the 2016 election, thereby implicating the president in a federal crime.
The two convictions provide two vulnerabilities to the President: the possibility that Manafort cooperates with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to avoid jail time or a second trial, and that Michael Cohen reveals further illegal activities by the President either before or after he was elected. At a bare minimum, the President of the United States has been implicated in a felony, but for all we know his legal troubles could be just beginning.
Of course, there were countless events that under normal circumstances would have dominated media coverage, such as the U.S. withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, the shooting of the Annapolis Gazette office, undocumented children being separated from their parents at the border, a new Supreme Court nominee, the indictment of twelve Russian operatives for interfering in the 2016 election, and many, many more. However, in this exhaustive and turbulent political climate, only those incidents that stand out amongst the madness are deemed memorable for the truly remarkable amount of idiocy they display.
by Constantine Desjardins '20
Since 1907, YMCA Camp Lawrence has offered young men a 2-8 week long program during which they can grow socially, emotionally, and physically. The camp is located on the southern tip of Bear Island on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. This summer, I returned for the tenth year in a row to work as a staff member.
From the minute the campers arrive to the minute they leave, the staff seeks to provide them with the best experience possible while at the same time leaving a meaningful impact on their lives. Each camper is assigned a cabin which they share with nine other boys their age for two weeks. Over the course of the two-week session the boys bond with each other, both in and out of the cabin. Each day the campers wake up, clean the cabin, and go to bed all as one group, forming a sense of cohesion. They also participate in activities that focus on skill development and competition so they can experience progression and success, all while having the time of their lives. Providing a safe environment in which the campers feel comfortable to take on new endeavors, and to learn that is it possible to overcome failure, is one of the most important skills we try to teach.
Over the past few years the number of kids who attend camps like Camp Lawrence has been on the decline nationwide. Many people do not see the value in sending their kids away for two weeks, and believe that there are many better uses of their child’s summer. Many would rather send their kid to a sports camp to increase their chances of getting recruited or send them to an academic program. I have even felt pressured to leave camp for other endeavors that would improve my chances of getting into an elite college. Nonetheless, I believe that my experience at camp has taught me how to be a far better person, has facilitated an immense amount of personal growth, and has been an invaluable experience.
Each day, I tried to provide the campers the same experience I had at camp, one which ingrained in me a strong sense of morality and a deep appreciation for the outdoors. When I arrived on Bear Island as an eight year old, even before I started my career at St. Albans, I never knew how much of an impact one place could have on your life. I will forever be grateful to Camp Lawrence for the experience it has provided for me, and I hope that generations of kids can have the same experience I’ve had.
In this day and age, many consider makeup in media to have only one side. The makeup industry has been known to create products that are meant to hide blemishes, acne, and even beauty marks to put forward an image of beauty that does not encompass these “imperfections.” This has degraded the idea of the existence of a person’s “exterior beauty,” the belief in looking beautiful on the surface. However, between the younger generations and social media, a new cosmetic culture has developed. It is accepting of all backgrounds and identities and is particularly welcoming both to experts and beginners alike. With my makeup license, I have the ability to “paint” on someone’s face, which I consider a canvas, to further enhance their inner and outer beauty. The array of colors is endless with makeup, and one can create any look that their heart desires! I believe self-expression is pertinent to society because it is about being your truest self to the fullest and not allowing society to dictate what is acceptable or not. Over the summer, I was able to set up a photography studio in student commons, and for two weeks in a row NCS students and alumni had their makeup, hair, and portrait done. I later conducted interviews with many of them concerning how they express themselves on a daily basis. Many of them said that they can express themselves through their hairstyle, clothes, makeup, or even how they speak. I found it captivating that everybody I interviewed believed that our society is becoming more accepting because of a more in-depth focus on “fashion and aesthetics.” As an arts fellow, I will showcase the beauty and essence of different types of people in a photojournalistic art installation to ultimately represent that all people are beautiful regardless of whether they fit into the “conventional” beauty standard that is slowly crumbling.
by Raj Sastry '20
Earlier this summer, Henry New and I traveled to Silicon Valley, California to study the rapidly developing field of autonomous vehicles under the Dorothy Marks Fellowship for Critical Inquiry. We’ve all heard that self-driving cars are right around the corner, but when? And when they do come, will they be safe? Further, how will the government regulate autonomous vehicles? These were guiding questions for us as we designed our study last March. And one week after Commencement, we set out to find answers.
Our first glimpse into the development of autonomous vehicles came courtesy of Mr. Sekhar Nori, a marquee figure in the world of autonomous driving, who currently oversees various phases of Nvidia Corporation’s research and development in that avenue. Nvidia, which has historically produced top-notch graphics cards, has diversified applications of their technology—in fact, they now supply Tesla with Autopilot. Nori, whom we interviewed at Nvidia’s avant garde and sprawling headquarters in Santa Clara, was able to show us their development headquarters of autonomous vehicles. Unfortunately, because recent high-profile accidents, Nvidia issued a stop order on all practical testing of their self-driving vehicles. Although we didn’t experience the technology firsthand, Mr. Nori was extremely accommodating and ensured that our experience was truly informative and exciting.
We were also fortunate enough to visit Intel’s campus and interview members of their autonomous vehicle development team. Intel entered the autonomy scene in spring of 2017 with the acquisition of Mobileye, an Israeli firm that used to supply Tesla with Autopilot, for $15 billion. Though most of the development is still happening in Israel, the Intel representatives who were familiar with their progress gave us excellent information regarding their ultimate vision for autonomy.
Autonomous vehicles come with great benefits, such as increased road safety. Without erratic human drivers, traffic may become a thing of the past, and the large-scale pollution caused by idling vehicles stuck in traffic jams could soon be alleviated. Further, disabled and elderly citizens who previously had to rely on others to drive them could regain freedom to travel wherever they please.
Though self-driving vehicles come with many advantages, there are still some pressing issues that need to be worked out before a car drives you to school. Some engineers we spoke to expressed reservations about quickly releasing an incomplete product, which could have disastrous implications on the road. Further, almost every representative who we spoke to stressed that public misunderstanding of the limitations of autonomous technology in its current form is dangerous for road safety—most notably the connotation of the word “Autopilot.” Finally, public policy is seriously lacking in terms of governance of the development of self-driving vehicles: almost every state has differing legislature, and the federal government has yet to propose anything on the national level. Finally, safe autonomous driving has profound economic implications in fields such as long-haul transportation: currently, the trucking industry employs as many as 10 million people. What’ll happen when their jobs become obsolete?
Still, though, the future of self-driving vehicles appears bright on the whole. Providing no major incidents occur for the foreseeable future, we could see fully autonomous vehicles—as well as the great benefits that come with them—on the road as early as the mid-2020s. It’s up to our generation, then, to find ways to implement them correctly, govern them appropriately, and find ways to lessen the economic impact they may have.
We are very grateful for the generosity of Mr. Robert E. Marks ’69 and Mrs. Mary S. Halsey, without whom this informative experience would not be possible. Our sincerest thanks also to Madam Beuchard and Ms. Duke for organizing the fellowships and to Mr. Bishop for facilitating this particular one. Finally, thanks also to Mr. Sekhar Nori, Mr. Sury Maturi, and all others who helped us along the way in California.
by NM '20
Each issue of Exchanged this year will include a puzzle, covering any topic or problem type. The answer and explanation to each puzzle will be released in the following week’s issue, along with the names of those who have successfully solved it. Please send answers to the author of the puzzle.
This week’s puzzle: Logic/Mathematics by NM (email redacted)
A contestant, Jim, is participating in a game show where he selects one of three unmarked doors—Door A, B, or C. Behind one of the doors is $10,000.
Jim selects Door A. After Jim’s selection, the game show host walks over and opens Door C, revealing there to be nothing behind it (Doors A and B remain closed).
The game show host now presents Jim with a choice; he can either keep his original choice (Door A) or switch to Door B. Should Jim stay with Door A, switch to Door B, or does it not matter, and why?
by Lilly Keller '19
This year the NCS fall sport season began in blaze of glory, and by that I mean it was really, really hot. For the first week of pre-season all was well. The athletes and coaches were working hard to prepare for the beginning of their seasons, we were all being whipped back into the shape we wished we were in, and everyone managed to survive the fitness testing (specifically the beep test, even as it reminded us painfully, that we should have run more all summer). Then, during the second week, the heat wave began and due to extreme temperatures, all NCS sports were moved inside. This meant that we got to take advantage of our great indoor facilities, rotating between playing in the three-court gym, doing fitness on the track, and lifting with Coach Berry. All of the members of the NCS athletic community worked hard to make the best of a difficult situation and are now ready for to succeed in the coming season.
Field hockey worked through the heat and began their season with a 2-1 win over Bishop Ireton! As said by Senior Chloe Conaghan, “Our preseason progress, despite the weather conditions, are indicative of a bright season ahead, full of hard-work, no excuses, a bonded team, and of course, an ISL Championship.”
Tennis began their year with a win against Visitation in their first scrimmage. They hope to carry this positive momentum into the regular season.
Cross country beat the heat during their preseason at camp in Vermont and returned to DC ready to tackle the challenges of the coming season. Senior Ashley Harris declared her excitement, saying, “Cross country is the only thing that would get me out of bed at 5 A.M.!”
Volleyball, the only indoor sport, and thus, fortunate enough not to have been affected by the heat wave, began their season with a competitive match against GDS. Senior Jamie Wang said “It’s always fun seeing old and new friends while playing a sport we all enjoy.” Their team bond will serve them well throughout the regular season!
Soccer began the year with a few disappointing game cancellations, but as Senior Amanda DeCastro put it, “CVS (Cathedral Varsity Soccer) has a really positive mentality this season. We’re ready for our big rivals and would love some fans at those games!”
Overall, the NCS athletic teams are pumped and ready to go for the regular season. We look forward to seeing and hearing everyone at all the upcoming games and events, especially Homecoming on September 21st and 22nd. Let’s show some Close spirit and support all the teams this year! Go Eagles!