Readers of The Exchanged –
Welcome to a new school year! And thanks for reading the first issue of The Exchanged!
The Exchanged is a coed, student-run, and independent newsletter that aims to publish biweekly. Over the summer, we have reevaluated certain aspects of this publication, determining what helps (and fails to help) us meet our goal: foster an exchange of voices and ideas across the Close.
Here are some important announcements regarding The Exchanged for the 2021-22 school year:
1. We are looking for writers and contributors from all grades and both schools for this year. If you are interested in writing an article or would like to submit other types of multimedia, please fill out this form. We are always looking for new voices, so you can fill out this form at any point during the year.
2. The Exchanged is returning to an open comment section this year that permits anonymity. However, we do have a strict comment policy, which must be followed by everyone who comments. Please take a moment to read this.
2. We have a new opportunity for NCS students to apply to become a tech editor on our team. It is a monthly commitment that entails updating the website and newsletter. If you have experience creating websites, formatting pages, or even just editing a Google Doc, please reach out to email@example.com. The Exchanged provides amazing experience and is a lot of fun, so please do not hesitate to reach out, regardless of your skill level, to Alyssa Bui.
4. Please reach out to the Editors-in-Chief if you have any questions, concerns, or general suggestions. Writing a letter to the editors is the best way to have your voice heard, especially given that we often publish these if you so please.
Enjoy the Back-to-School Issue!
Henry Brown, Alyssa Bui, Spencer Hall, and Managing Editor Sasha Perkins
By Alyssa Bui '23
Since the start of the pandemic, a countless number of young adults and teens have found themselves out of shape or out of practice when it comes to athletics. For athletes on the Close in particular, some of us haven’t played a sport since last season—which could have been two years ago for fall sport athletes! (Of course, this varies from person to person.) But now that the ISL and IAC game season is finally upon us, how are athletes feeling after such a long pause on school sports?
Last week, tryouts and preseason began for NCS and STA fall sports. I was ecstatic to return to volleyball, especially with so many new faces on the roster. While STA and NCS handled the pandemic rather differently, none of the students on the Close were able to partake in regular fall sports traditions such as formal tryouts, homecoming, and athletic leagues. In fact, fall sports at NCS were completely absent last school year. Thus, the athletes in this year’s freshmen and sophomore classes recently experienced their first fall sports tryouts and preseason that took place in August.
As excited as I was to meet the new underclassmen, it was strange to think that varsity teams were recruiting so many players since we lost seniors from the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021. The impact of seniors graduating was tremendous since so many inexperienced and out-of-practice players were left to fill in the gap. Honestly, I was slightly worried at first about how sports teams would perform. However, my pessimistic attitude was quickly challenged by the enormous amount of improvement and growth that occurred in August. Not only did the new players exceed everyone’s expectations in terms of potential and effort, their eagerness to learn and enthusiasm to play brightened up the courts and playing fields. Furthermore, I also think that the experienced and returning athletes stepped up so that teams were not starting completely from scratch as I had imagined.
“I think it’s one of those things, where coming out of COVID, a lot of people have the potential to be way better than they were pre-covid just because you have that motivation and you think ‘oh, it’s my last year’ or ‘I’ve one less season left!’,” explains Kendall Brady ‘23. Even though this mostly applies to juniors and seniors, the environment that upperclassmen create for everyone else is key to success in games since the positive (and negative) energy that impacts performance is contagious. That’s partly why returning upperclassmen carry more responsibility as experienced athletes.
Now, regardless of skill, experience, and seniority, there is one shared concern I’ve seen among Close athletes this fall: balancing sports and academics. More so than in past years, students are worried about how they’ll manage time and maintain grades. A huge reason for this is because, during the last school year, classwork and extracurriculars were less of a time commitment for various reasons. Personally, I’ve forgotten what I was capable of before COVID: I balanced school, sports, theater, and various clubs. In reality, most students on the Close did—all while getting decent sleep. So, don’t worry too much (especially you freshmen readers)! It’s just that during the pandemic, we’ve lost a sense of our studying and time managing capabilities.
On the flip side, COVID has heightened our excitement for the competitive season as everyone is eager to compete in games, see friends, and be a part of a team. Freshman Ellie Denney expressed that she was especially happy to “get around and know people” on her team, a common sentiment among students. This makes sense since most students end up dedicating hundreds of hours to their sports and teams by the time they graduate. Having said that, I wish all of our fall sports teams good luck as the ISL and IAC approach this month!
And remember that even if school gets hard (and it probably will at some point, but that’s okay), sports is your time to decompress, find community, and have fun!
By Audrey Scott '23
If you are anything like me, you enjoy reading in your free time, but you find yourself going months without reading a book because school is too hectic. Here are five of my favorite books to read before September is over.
1. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is currently my favorite book! The oral history structure creates an enrapturing experience that feels watching T.V., complete with captivating characters. The novel follows Daisy Jones, an aspiring singer-songwriter, and brothers Billy and Graham Dunne, who form a band called The Six. As the title implies, Daisy and The Six cross paths in their musical careers and create quite an album. Daisy Jones & The Six is such a realistic and entertaining depiction of the seventies rock scene that I looked for The Six’s music on Spotify multiple times despite knowing that they are a fictional band. This book has a little bit of everything: music, romance, friendship, drama, suspense, and an ending that will leave you wanting more. Daisy Jones & The Six is enjoyable for any type of reader, especially if you don’t know where to start your reading journey.
2. Red at the Bone by Jaqueline Woodson
Jaqueline Woodson is my favorite author, and I have loved all her books, especially Red at the Bone. Her depictions of young women are honest and raw, and instead of backing away from writing a complex character, she leans into it. Every character in Red at the Bone is flawed and imperfect in ways that evoke sympathy from readers. The dialogue surrounding multigenerational families is beautiful, messy, complicated, and introspective. I would recommend any of Woodson’s work, specifically Red at the Bone, for anyone seeking a book that tackles genuine issues rather than creating a tidy happy ending, and prefers deep characters to fast-paced plot.
3. High Fidelity by Nick Horby
Hornby is a hilarious author, and the way he writes internal dialogue is truly delightful. The main character, Rob, is equally as unlikeable as he is loveable. He is a thirty-something owner of a record store who is self-involved and obsessed with making lists. You will laugh out loud as Rob has a book-length identity crisis and reaches obvious conclusions incredible slowly. Better still, this novel is a package deal. Not only is there a book, but there is also an incredible movie. John Cusak plays Rob exactly as described in the book, and everything follows the plotline very closely (minus a location shift) in the way that you always hope book adaptions will. Additionally, it was made into a T.V series on Hulu (my favorite version of High Fidelity). It is reimagined in the current day, and Rob is a woman, played by Zoë Kravitz. Because there are multiple versions of this novel, it is great for people who like to get invested in a single story and enjoy reimagining stories.
4. Just Kids by Patti Smith
Although the beginning of this memoir reveals the end, this book will still take you on an emotional journey. Just Kids follows young Patti Smith and documents her life alongside her once boyfriend and forever best friend, Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith and Mapplethorpe are now widely recognized artists; Smith for her books and music, and Mapplethorpe for his photography. Smith gives a brilliant depiction of New York in the sixties and seventies from the perspective of a poor artist. Their lives are captivating, and she weaves her life with Robert into commentary on social and political issues at the time. She has a phenomenal memory and describes her life in minute detail, with namedrops like no other. This book is for those who are very character-oriented, and want a book that focuses solely on emotions, people, and relationships.
5. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Under the Banner of Heaven is an entertaining nonfiction book about extremist religion. It reads like a novel (and I always prefer novels to nonfiction), sometimes even as a thriller. Under the Banner of Heaven is about Mormon fundamentalists, a group of often excommunicated Mormons who live in completely isolated, polyamorous communities. Jon Krakauer is an amazing author who goes to great lengths for an enjoyable book (he has even climbed Mount Everest for a book) and picks topics no one else would dare. I recommend this book to anyone looking for entertaining nonfiction that will keep you on your toes and leave you with new knowledge and further questions.
By Christopher Nash '22
It has been a year of disappointment. It has been a year of staying inside. It has been a year of, well, a hundred other cliches that I’ll spare you of here with the dubious hope that you have not already left this article to go outside and prove me wrong, simultaneously instigating the dramatic irony of me writing about “bringing the beef” from a windowless room while the sun shines brilliantly after a destructive rainstorm. But it has unquestionably been a year of loss.
Rather than wallowing in self-pity, though, it is time to look forward to the new era of normalcy that the opening doors on the Close usher in in just a few short summer days. Never before have I truly welcomed the start of a new school year. Never before have I wanted to rise early, don a jacket and tie and spend ten hours at school to return exhausted with hours of work in front of me. Perhaps this excitement can be explained by the simple fact that this year at St. Albans will be my last, and nostalgia sneaks up on you with the creeping silence of hoodies as the leaves begin to fall. But I really believe there is something that everyone can look forward to this year, and, of course, I mean sports games.
With our players on the field, our fans in the stands, and our over-anxious parents screaming unwanted directions to their kids, the undeniable, ever-present, all-encompassing energy that the Close possesses will surely return with a fury and a vengeance to make up for lost time. No memories of my time in school have eclipsed that of chanting my voice hoarse amidst a rowdy pit of like-minded BEEF patriots, the stadium filled with catcalls of “weight room,” loud comments on the opposing team’s lack of support, and unfiltered yowls of anger directed at the always atrocious referees. And so I will close with the most hallowed of all cliches: get out to that.
By Jack Kaplan '23
In March 2020, schools closed and Covid-19 became part of our everyday vocabulary. As people began to realize the potential danger of the virus, many undertook extreme measures in order to protect themselves and their families. Working and studying from home, masks, and social distancing became the new normal. However, after vaccines became readily available and the pandemic appeared to slow, Americans were eager to resume their pre-pandemic lives and interact with other people, oftentimes while ditching their masks. Unfortunately, the emergence of the more contagious Delta variant raised new concerns, resulting in renewed social distancing policies and calls to shut the world back down. As schools around the country reopen, they face the difficult problem of how to allow students to return to in-person learning in a safe manner that protects everyone’s health.
As St. Albans grapples with this same issue, the administration has decided to attempt to conduct as normal of a school year as possible. Sports are back in session, furniture is back in the buildings, and lunch will once again be eaten in the beloved Refectory. There are some members of the community who believe these policies may be dangerous and irresponsible, but I firmly believe that the school has made the right decision in attempting to restore normalcy.
With weekly testing, a mandate that all people on campus be vaccinated, and masks being required at all times while indoors, the school has carried out its responsibility to protect the student body while preserving the St. Albans experience. While the Delta variant is undeniably more contagious and may infect even those that are vaccinated, vaccinated persons are still significantly protected against more severe cases and death, and the majority of people who contract Delta experience mild symptoms. Furthermore, for children and teenagers, studies show that Covid-19 is statistically no more lethal than the flu, highlighting the minimal effect the illness would likely have on the majority of the student body. New policies are not enacted for the flu each year, and similarly, further extreme measures are not necessary this year in response to an illness that poses little danger to most of the students. The protections already put in place are reasonable and sufficient to address the risks. Continuing only virtual learning, suspending lunch in the Refectory or athletics, and other more extreme measures are unnecessary as well as harmful to our education and St. Albans experience.
Additionally, the idea that St. Albans can continue to distinguish itself by conducting classes but cancelling its traditions, sports, and extracurricular activities is fundamentally flawed. One of the school’s best characteristics is its excellent education, but there are plenty of schools in the area that offer elite education. What sets St. Albans apart from the other schools is that it has such a unique culture and brotherhood; the aspects of the school that don’t involve academics are the foundation of this culture that is so integral to the St. Albans experience. For example, the highlighted portion of the “Welcome” page on the school’s website talks less about education and more about chapel in the Little Sanctuary and family-style lunches in the Refectory. When people pay the St. Albans tuition, they are paying for every outstanding and important feature of the school, not only its traditional academics.
As the first day of class approaches quickly and the Delta variant spreads, the school must continue to look at the facts and balance the health and safety of the St. Albans community with its responsibility to provide the full experience upon which St. Albans has built its reputation, and should hold steadfast in its decision to operate as normally as possible this school year.
By Spencer Hall '22
Welcome to the new school year! As a senior, I’ve picked up countless tips and pieces of advice from upperclassmen, teachers, and my own experiences that helped me navigate through the upper school. So, I thought I’d share some of the wisdom I’ve accrued over the past three years with the freshman, sophomores, juniors for the upcoming year (there will be two tips/pieces of advice for each class).
A disclaimer: I don’t expect these tips to work for everyone, but these are what worked best for me and what I noticed worked for others.
I hope everyone has a great year!
By Stella-Grace Ford '23
I can’t remember a time when my classmates and I weren’t complaining about some part of the NCS dress code. It’s been a longstanding source of debate among the NCS student body, with some people advocating for mandated uniforms in the Upper School while others argue that no clothing regulation is necessary at all. Right now, the dress code stands firm against exposed midriffs, thin straps, and skirts or shorts with the dreaded less than five inch inseam (although many students who have been “dress coded” may attest to these rules being varyingly enforced depending on the teacher). The dress code also notably prohibits any sort of athletic clothing, meaning that athletic shorts, sweatpants, and leggings are not allowed.
The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on NCS’ operation meant that all of these clothing rules were lifted during the 2020-2021 school year. Even with a newly relaxed dress code, none of my classmates came in wearing excessively revealing clothing or risqué outfits; instead, we sported what any worn out highschooler functioning on minimal sleep would wear: big shirts, athletic shorts, leggings, and sweatpants. This daily attire of comfortable bottoms paired with a loose sweatshirt became a uniform of sorts for me, and I found that it actually increased my focus on learning. I didn’t have to worry about how I looked or about picking out my outfit every morning, alleviating some of my anxiety about school. Like many, my grades dropped when we were learning online, but once NCS went into a hybrid system where I spent most of my days at in person school, my test scores went back up. This increase in my performance wasn’t hindered in any way by the athletic clothes I wore, fitting with the results of a study from the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences.
In that study, researchers found a positive correlation between the degree of comfort students rated their clothes as and their test results. When students wore their most comfortable attire, they tended to study for longer and rate their confidence about their assessments as higher, while also gaining higher scores. Formal work clothes averaged around a B, or a 85.7, for the subjects, but dressing for comfort awarded them an average of an A-, or a 90. Comfortable clothes like leggings and yoga pants also increase productivity, morale, and concrete thinking in the workplace, according to the New York Post. If the NCS student body was able to maintain the same level of academic excellence that NCS strives for while wearing sweatpants last year, why shouldn’t we be allowed to do the same now?
Of course, it goes without saying that comfort is relative. Some people find formal wear more comfortable and confidence-inducing than athletic clothes, and I watched in awe last year as some students showed up totally composed in fancy dresses and high heels every day. However, many of us agree that our performance is tied to our comfort, and our ability to manage NCS’ academics in supposedly unsuitable clothing should be a testament to the benefits of relaxing the dress code for this school year.
By Ceylin Erkan '23
As the summer draws to a close, we begin a school year that is closer to normal than the last two. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few back-to-school tips that will help you be organized and use your time effectively!
1. Manage your time after school.
When you arrive home after classes/sports, put any distractions away and begin working on your homework, starting with the most challenging or longest assignment and ending with the easiest. Taking 5-10 minute breaks between each assignment rather than finishing all of your work in one sitting will help you work more productively.
2. Write everything in your planner in detail.
Doing this will give you an idea of how much homework you have and how long the work that you have to complete for each class will take. From there, you can tell which assignment will be the most demanding and begin working on it. This helps you manage your time efficiently, and you will feel motivated after crossing out a long task in your to-do list.
3. Prioritize sleep.
Many students give up hours of sleep to study or finish homework, but studies have consistently shown that being well-rested translates to improved academic success and focus. Working systematically towards a test is generally much more effective than studying for several hours the day before the test. The latter will only leave you with frustration and prevent you from dedicating enough time to other classes and activities.
4. Plan out the years ahead.
During the first few months of school, make a plan of which classes you will take for the rest of your high school career so you have a general sense of how you will fulfill your graduation requirements. It will also be easier to choose or change second-semester classes if you act early in the school year. I would recommend making these decisions according to your academic interests and talking with your advisor and teachers if you have questions!
5. Dedicate time to extracurriculars you truly enjoy.
Consider what activities outside the classroom are meaningful to you and invest your time in them. Some extracurriculars like sports are a significant time commitment, so it’s important to weigh all of your options before making decisions.
Enjoy the back-to-school season!
By Henry Brown '23
Last September, I wrote an article titled, “How To Stay Productive While Distance Learning,” in which I outlined the largest roadblocks to maintaining focus and preventing yourself from falling down the “I can’t stop scrolling” rabbit hole. Chief among those tips was finding a place where you wouldn’t be distracted by the allure of screens and putting your phone in a different room. Yet, in the past year of lockdowns and virtual school, I’ve become a changed man, realizing that watching Netflix is simply more important than test scores and my transcript. The haters often tell me that I should focus on my DBQ about the Cold War so that I can get into a good college. But in our hearts, we all know that watching a show about the Space Race in an alternate timeline is much more “productive,” as my younger self would say. So kick back, relax, and binge these five TV shows before the month of September is over.
1. For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
We’ve all heard of the Space Race, a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to gain the upper hand in the realm of space exploration. After the successful Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon (and STA graduate Michael Collins remained in orbit), the Americans claimed victory and celebrated. But what if the Soviets landed on the Moon first? For All Mankind deals with this alternate scenario, following certain characters at NASA and the quest to continue this Race. The show is incredibly well-written and the second season is arguably much better than the first (which is still phenomenal).
2. Loki (Disney+)
I’m sure you’ve heard about Loki hundreds of times: Thor’s brother, timeline chaos, Time Variance Authority, Owen Wilson. Yet, even if you aren’t the most enthusiastic Marvel fan, Loki takes the MCU in a direction that is creative and unique, which may be appealing if you’re tired of the repetitive villains and traditional fight scenes. Perhaps the CGI might be a bit intense, but the plot is terrific (and not predictable, which is also a plus), acting is superb, and the sci-fi element makes the show so much more entertaining. And I can’t forget the soundtrack, which is one of, if not, the best I have heard from a TV show.
3. Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Ted Lasso is an American football coach from Missouri who is hired, despite never playing or knowing how soccer works, by a British Premier League team to spice things up. Despite enormous criticism from the team’s players, fanbase, and the media, Lasso leads the football club to places it has never been before. The show may not be as suspenseful as For All Mankind, but Ted Lasso has amazing character development, a great story line, and each episode is only 30 minutes. I haven’t played soccer since I was three years old, but I still really enjoy this show.
4. Lupin (Netflix)
Even if you aren’t taking French, Lupin is an excellent show following Assane Diop, an orphan whose father was framed for a crime, and his journey to get revenge on the perpetrators. He is inspired by the books about Arsène Lupin which his father gave to him when he was just a child. Primarily the show was intended for French audiences, so it is in French, but put on the subtitles and enjoy this amazing story.
5. Designated Survivor (Netflix)
When the entire U.S. government comes together for an event, such as the State of the Union address, at least one congressperson or cabinet member serves as the “designated survivor” and hides in a bunker in case of an attack on the Capitol. Yet, in this show, this becomes reality when the Capitol building explodes and the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Tom Kirkman, becomes POTUS. What follows is Kirkman’s attempt to restore the government and serve justice to those who blew up the legislative branch. While it’s pretty cool seeing all of the various parts of our city in the show, clearly the writers haven’t been to DC before, so as DC residents it’s fun to make fun of the small errors they made when creating the script.
In all seriousness, of course you should focus on your school work. Do your assignments, write your essays, and study for your tests. But if you do happen to have some free time, I highly recommend watching these TV shows. They are ranked based upon how much I liked them, but all five are awesome and watch whatever appeals to you.
Article Photo From Apple®.