By Max Niles '18
Five days after the public relations disaster of condemning “both sides” at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned violent, President Trump tweeted out a statement saying, “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson - who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!” I, like, President Trump, do not want to be like the Ingsoc party of Orwell’s 1984 and remove all elements of history that I disagree with. But comparing Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson—two Confederate generals, openly in rebellion against the United states—to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson is absurd. Jefferson and Washington, who did both have complicated parts of their personalities (hint hint: they owned slaves), are the founders of this country, not two generals who actively rebelled against that country. Washington and the other founding fathers’ sins are outweighed by all the good they did in creating this country. That's what their statues are for. Lee and Jackson, however, have monuments because they fought for the Confederacy and slavery. Despite a newfound cultural awareness for the misdeeds of American history, statues like Washington and Jefferson and the other founding fathers of this country will never be removed.
But now on to the larger issue about confederate monuments, not the president’s tweet. For many, the defense of Confederate monuments boils down to two points: the first being that Confederate monuments are monuments to Southern culture and heritage, and the second one being that if we remove Confederate monuments, we are removing the Confederacy from history. Many argue that the statues and other monuments are simply harmless memorials to those who died fighting in our nation's bloodiest war. But as a Washington Post article showed, most monuments were constructed during the Jim Crow era South as specific signs of racial oppression during the most violent times in our country’s histories. These monuments are not honoring the dead of the confederacy, but rather they are preserving, as a monument in Charlottesville states, “the Anglo-Saxon civilization of the South.” These statues are monuments of racism and oppression and should be taken out of our public spaces. On the second argument that it is “a slippery slope” once we start removing Confederate monuments. I’d argue that it’s not a slippery slope because we aren’t removing them from history, we are simply taking these monuments away from public view and ensuring that the government is not supporting these views. Of course we should continue to study the Confederates and learn from history’s mistakes, but the portrayal of those mistakes belong in a textbook, not in municipal parks.
By Jasper Boers '18
“Truth crushed to earth is truth still and will rise again.” -Jefferson Davis
Confederate memorials. Why memorials? Because these so-called “monuments”, which have become both a hijacked symbol for white supremacy and a flashpoint for racial tensions in America, are not monuments. They are memorials. That’s important to remember. Southerners do not worship Lee, Jackson, Stuart, Bragg, Forrest, Pickett, and Anderson for killing thousands of Union soldiers and slaves, but instead memorialize them for their values of chivalry, for their knowledge of battlefield strategy, for their well-earned place in the pantheon of the greatest American military commanders, and for their allegiance to the South, an allegiance which many Southerners today still cling to as a symbol of Southern identity and pride.
Patton, Grant, Eisenhower, Washington, MacArthur. These are some of America’s greatest generals. They (except MacArthur) are beloved by America for their undying patriotism, for their military prowess, and for their crusades against evil. While these generals are all universal in their recognition, we often exclude the most popular Southern generals from the group above. Due to their exclusion, Southern culture has developed a near-sainthood status for Confederate war heroes, not because of their attachment to slavery, but because of their loyalty to the South. Robert E. Lee once said, “I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South its dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and I have never seen the day when I did not pray for them.” After all, Lee believed he was fighting for the rights of the South. His allegiance, not to slavery, but to the South, is seen today as it was during Reconstruction and during the 1920s: as a value to be honored and remembered.
History is emotional, bloody, and hateful. Wherever it presents a controversial topic that may provoke debate, it should be eliminated. This is the rationale of most activists who seek either the removal or destruction of Confederate memorials in public spaces around the country. While this thinking is easy to side with, it is also lethal to the virtues America was built upon.
Jews today are extremely active in portraying the holocaust as an essential element to understanding Jewish history. There is no shying away from museums, memorials, and even concentration camps. It is self-evident to most Jews that the holocaust and the Nazis must never be forgotten. Why do we not treat the Civil War the same way? To remove symbols of the Confederacy from public spaces is destructive to the legacy of the Civil War and to the history of slavery as a moral evil. Elie Wiesel, the holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, said in a 1999 speech in the White House that “Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred.” The indifference of those who wish to remove Confederate memorials from the public eye is an indifference to American history. It is a willingness to accept the divisions of America today and avoid looking to the past for an explanation and a solution. It is an unwillingness to accept our past and to understand it and to hold on to it. Absolutely, the Civil War was fought over slavery. That does not mean that we should bury its legacy beneath the present.
A common belief surrounding the issue of Confederate statues is that most of the memorials were built during the 1920s, when racial tensions ran high and the KKK became a resurgent force in America. Some statues, including Charlottesville’s statue of Lee, were constructed in the 1920s. While some statues were motivated by racial tensions, the majority were built 30 to 40 years after the end of the Civil War. Under federal occupation, it is no question that Southerners would not have been allowed to build statues honoring their generals. And in 1877, most of these generals were still living. Only thirty to forty years later, in the twentieth century, did it become apparent that these men were symbols of Southern culture and deserved to be memorialized.
Another common belief, held primarily by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, is that the generals of the Confederacy are martyrs of white supremacy and Nazism. This disgusting reversal of facts is also in complete ignorance of American history and reveals that indifference to the past is a dangerous and violent ideology.
The Confederate statue, “Appomattox,” by Caspar Burbel in Alexandria. Created in 1889. Note that the soldier is unnamed, resides in the center of Old Town, and has a sullen yet pensive gaze, clearly aware of the Confederacy’s loss. A September 2016 vote to remove the statue failed.
There is a statue in Alexandria named “Appomattox.” The statue depicts a lone Confederate soldier—unarmed, unnamed, his arms crossed and his gaze downcast. It is clear he has realized the Confederacy has lost the war, and his appearance is contemplative. Memorials like these are truly representative of America’s history. They serve as reminders of the past, not symbols of hatred. And yet, despite the massive importance of the Civil War era as a lens through which to view the political and cultural tensions of today, there are still those who would seek the removal of such a memorial as “Appomattox.”
By Suzan Michalski '18
Anyone who attends Government Club for several meetings will quickly observe a significant difference in behavior between NCS girls and STA boys. During the first half of the meeting, which is a time for members to give speeches arguing their point of view on the evening’s topic, speakers are far more often boys than girls. During the moderated caucus, the number of times that STA students speak significantly outnumbers the number of times that NCS students speak.
There are a variety of reasons that could inhibit people from speaking up, the two most common being a lack of confidence and a lack of preparedness. I know from my experiences that NCS girls are well-informed. In my daily life, I hear conversations all around me that demonstrate NCS girls’ remarkable attention to current events and political issues. Furthermore, the girls who attend Government Club attend because they are passionate about the issues discussed in the club. Yet, I have witnessed a clear disparity between NCS girls and STA boys in their participation in Government Club discussions.
During the last school year, the NCS Government Club presidents, Eva Phelps and Alexa Perlmutter, decided to take action to encourage NCS participation. They began hosting pre-meeting discussion groups for NCS girls, in which we would examine the evening’s topic and brainstorm possible points and questions for us to use during the meeting. Whenever we held these discussions, there was a significant increase in the number of times that NCS girls stood up to speak in Government Club.
Observing this gave me a deeper insight into what inhibits people from standing up and voicing their thoughts. During the pre-discussion meetings, everyone felt comfortable with one another.Everyone knew each other, and it was a smaller, more intimate, and less formal setting. Government Club is quite the opposite. To be placed into a large club full of STA boys and with a much higher degree of structure and formality can be rather intimidating.
However, the STA boys in Government Club surely face the same situation. How come many of them still manage to participate actively during the meetings? There is no clear-cut reason why,but STA students generally seem to assert their right to speak more actively than NCS students.For one, higher levels of testosterone in males increases risk-taking behavior; by nature, they certainly have a higher tendency to be assertive. In my view, social upbringing also plays a key role; some girls are often subtly, or even actively, discouraged from being too bold or assertive
By Kubair Chuchra '18 and Natalie Kalitsi '18
By Christian Potter '18
The seniors and C Formers have walked through the Cathedral, Headmaster Wilson has given his last opening day speech, the Upper School has sprinted through its first X-day, everyone is (hopefully) close to finalizing his schedule: the 2017-2018 school year has officially begun. That means we’re back in all our unique roles at STA and ready to make the most of them this year. So is the student council, and we are eager to get to work making STA an even better place.
What is that going to look like? Step one is to keep doing what you’re doing. When we talk about improving a place like STA, we mean taking a strong community that we all love and finding and fixing those small things that come up. It’s rather like washing the windows of the Empire State Building instead of building a new skyscraper. STA’s heartbeat is all the different things we do here every day, and there are no signs of any of us letting up.
But we still have to wash those windows, and that’s where the student council comes in. The senior prefects have devised the STAND Plan which is just an acronym for our common priorities this year. “S” is for “structure of Student Council,” and “T,” for “treasury.” This year, we hope to make internal improvements in the Student Council, including more active but responsible expenditures of funds, so that all our class representatives can do their jobs more effectively. “A” is for “activities and dances,” which means we firmly believe that the vast majority of Upper School students appreciate and deserve the privilege of a mixer. “N” is for “new cultural direction,” which sounds kind of radical, but really just means that we want to be the kind of community the headmaster compared to “city on a hill.” We hope to see a St. Albans at the end of the year that is even more honorable and compassionate than before. Brothers don’t put each other down with their words or their actions, and men of the future live honorably. Lastly, “D” is for, yes, “diversity.” We feel that too much of the student council’s time is devoted to an event that needs fixing, and we hope that sharing responsibility with other interest groups at STA will help do the fixing. We also strongly support a more service-oriented day so that we can act on and not just talk about issues.
It doesn’t end there. Those are some priorities of this year’s Student Council, but it’s the community as a whole that can make them matter. St. Albans has given each of us so much, and we’ll be proud to leave it at the end of the year just a little bit better than we found it.
By John Paul Rodocanachi '18
Okay let’s get one thing straight. I am NOT, in most cases, what I or my teammates would consider a ‘good leader on the sports field’. However, in my past four years playing STA Football, I have learned much from watching various leader, and have seen my team go from an abysmal 1-9 to 5-5 in three years. In my opinion, this change was purely through better leadership rather than talent. So, without further ado, here is what I have learned what to do and what not to do in order to lead your team to success.
First off, creating camaraderie, and making sure everyone ‘buys in’, is by far the most important thing in order to create a successful sports team. I know it sounds like a given, but it is so crucial. Both my Freshman and Sophomore year I felt pretty alone playing. Loss after loss, no one seemed to believe that we could possibly win after our first game against Anacostia. This is not to say that we didn’t want to win, but the moral was not there. No one seemed to speak up and say enough is enough, and I began to get the feeling toward the end of the year, “What is this all for?” Game after game, practice after practice, to be quite frank, I was uninspired and tired of the sport.
The difference my Junior year came when people like Donovan Rolle '17, Dakota Foster '17, John Galbreath '17, and other seniors decided that they would simply not accept these losses. I began to feel the energy and camaraderie from our senior leaders right from the start. It's hard to fully describe, but because of this new culture, it felt like we were all going through the same experience. Whether it was a preseason workout, an afternoon practice, or a big Saturday Varsity game, we were unified through our work at becoming a team of winners. We all shared those tough moments, like carrying teammates up the hill at camp, and the amazing ones, like starting the season off by returning the opening kickoff for six against Anacostia. In practice, the leaders held themselves and their teammates accountable. These leaders made sure that we all understood the plays being run and worked to set the tone for both practice and games by showing us that everything has got to be done with 100 percent effort. Last year, through that leadership, I learned in order to function as a great team, you need to rely on each other heavily and create the sense that, to quote High School Musical, “We’re all in this together.”
Most importantly, last year's senior leaders have taught me what it means to be a successful teammate by seeing how the actions of others affect the attitude of the overall team. When I see a leader do a drill better than me, I will try to raise my standards and use his success as motivation to do better. Similarly, when a I see a leader that comes out to a rainy, Wednesday afternoon practice and has a good attitude and mindset, he directly influences me to keep a more positive and focused outlook.
In my opinion, this idea goes even further than football or any athletic field. Whether your ‘team’ is connected through sports, school, or even your family and close friends, I have found that a good leader has a positive attitude and is willing to persevere and be a team player. You may not realize it at the time, but that one person, that one leader, truly has an immense effect on the success of any type of team.
By Naomi Davy '18
Though all I had was a couple of STA boys, an abundance of straws, and a scarcity of duct tape, I was determined to build a bridge that could hold my backpack. “30 seconds,” calls Mr. Harger from the back of the room. My group, the best group with the best strategy, succeeded in creating a sturdy bridge –as I said before, worthy of backpacks- however, we failed to fulfill the second criteria and create the longest one. Though that activity allowed us to quite literally build bridges between the schools, the 2017 leadership seminar was filled with lots of great activities to help us start the year on a good note.
After bridge building, we split into groups and played a game that was sort of like a personality test. In my group we set up a grid on the floor with two axes and four quadrants. The two extremes of the first axis were “I’m super emotional,” and “I’m stone cold, never phased.” The other axis was “I have lots of opinions, and I voice them” and “I doubt my opinions, and like to listen to others first.” We had to find our place on this grid and the quadrant in which we found ourselves would indicate our personality type. Those who were neither emotional nor opinionated made for wise and level-headed quiet leaders, while the opposite extreme, opinionated emotional, made for inspirational and passionate leaders. I fell in the category of opinionated but less emotional leaders, while the opposite of me, not opinionated, but extremely emotional types were usually good at relationship building.
The other group brainstormed some words to determine a definition and anti-definition of leadership. We thought that leaders should be in service to their community but should also encourage people to participate. Leaders should have personal relationships with their classmates but should also have the maturity to make decisions for the good of the school as a whole.
Whether you have a title in student governance or not, I think all members of the class of 2018 have something to gain from learning these leadership skills. At the end of the day we split into groups based on our leadership positions. We created posters to outline our goals for the year and how they would be achieved. Many of our goals were to integrate NCS and STA around sports, service, music, and diversity education. For example, this year the NCS service board and leadership at St. Albans plans to make Martin Luther King Day a co-ed day of service with alumni speakers in service work. We also have already begun some initiatives, such as Logan Robinson’s idea to post both NCS and STA games in a Facebook group. Overall, I am more hopeful than ever about the leadership of the class of 2018 and all of NCS/STA moving forward. Even so, remember that we are all leaders here on the close. If you want something done, its up to you to make it happen!
By Madeline Hopper '20 and Ellie Kearns '20
Girls chatter in Hearst before the opening Cathedral service on the first day of school. An overwhelming feeling of dread passes over us as we realize that, yet again, we are at the bottom of the social ladder. However, this incoming class of freshmen has a plan. Gone are the days of freshmen being the lowest of the low. We may be freshmen, but we plan to rule the school. Don’t worry, we reviewed Mean Girls, Clueless, and looked over our notes from orientation before configuring our plan. Although we may have limited knowledge of high school, here is our Super Secret Master Plan™ for freshmen domination.
Befriend the upperclassmen by any means necessary (and we mean any means necessary.) Say a senior forgot her credit card for her $17 large iced coffee with two shots of espresso and extra vanilla syrup from Open City? You’ve got her covered (for funding plan see part three). A junior posts a selfie sporting her new Lilly Pulitzer dress? Be sure to comment your typical: “Gorgeous! 😍😍😍” Side note: the heart emojis are key to this interaction.
Always bring snacks to homeroom. Everyone loves to eat. That’s a fact of life. Now not everyone can or will eat the same things, so make sure to be accommodating of everyone in your homeroom. I’m talking about Amy, the girl who watched a sad documentary on Netflix about how carnivores are killing the planet, and is now a vegan. No shade on Amy though– she’s right. Fun fact, she’s also gluten free. And don’t get me started on Carry; she refuses to eat red food.
Babysit a celebrity’s child. Nobody cares that you got paid $10 an hour to babysit a snotty three year old on Saturday. But hold up, does that baby’s mom have three bestsellers published or a seat in the senate? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then congrats! You just got about three months to talk all about how nice the house and the car were and how their kid was oh-so-cute.
Now that we have the upperclassman in our pocket, the love of all members of our homerooms, and the admiration of all jealous freshmen and sophomores, we are ready to rule the school.
By John Klingler '18
Apart from 6th period free and the value of intramurals, nothing inspires strong feeling and debate within the STA community like the value of school leadership positions. By ‘leadership positions’, I’m referring to positions like Prefect, Club President, and Team Captain. Some people ardently defend their value; pointing out that leaders – and the positions that they fill – make a difference in the school community. Others take a more cynical view, believing leadership positions to be nothing more than college-app fluff, something that helps you in your applications but doesn’t make a difference to the life of the school.
Before I start sharing my opinion on this issue, I think it’s necessary to acknowledge my own vantage-point to this issue, and therefore, address my own biases. I hold a number of leadership positions. I have been a prefect and class president for the Class of 2018. I’m the Co-Editor of The STA News, Editor of Gyre, Co-President of Model UN. I’m a co-captain (though some may argue that such a position doesn’t exist) of the Cross-Country team. My opinion on the issue, obviously, is influenced by my own leadership positions.
However, how I feel is more nuanced than ‘leadership positions are good’ or ‘leadership positions are bad’. Instead, I think that many members of the STA community approach leadership in the wrong way. Too often, a leadership position becomes an intrinsic goal, something to put on the Common App rather than a responsibility to serve the school. When this happens, everyone loses. Students lack strong leadership, leaders don’t grow as individuals, and the culture of the school drifts from its foundational values. Symptoms of this behavior include significant politicking for comparatively small positions and apathetic or static clubs. Each year, we have extracurricular activities that only exist on people’s college applications; after having a single meeting, an ambitious senior will declare themselves president of a club and never look back. This is a problem, and it’s an example of poor leadership.
However, when leaders at STA do step forward for the right reasons, the results are phenomenal. Things can get done, strong values can be passed down, the school can be made better. This happens particularly well – in my opinion – on sports teams and in the Student Council. On the field, teams are led by a group of leaders elected by their peers; these individuals run grueling practices, demonstrate good sportsmanship, and dedicate themselves to the team. Someone particularly good in this regard was Charles Snowden (STA ’17), who set the precedent for sportsmanship on the field and leadership in the locker room. In the student council, the prefects work hard to plan events, speak to their forms (sometimes with no teachers present) about difficult topics, and serve on the Honor and Discipline councils. The work is, at times, not easy but the results can make the school better.
So, with that in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when approaching leadership positions. I’ll call them Klingler’s Three Rules to Holding a Leadership Position:
By Katie Skoff '18
Hi, I’m Katie Skoff, NCS’s Student Body President. I’m really excited to work for NCS students this year, and my primary goal is to get everyone super hype for the 2017-2018 school year! That will start with the student government video that has been in the works for a few weeks, and include some incredibly corny jokes during Music Day. These next few weeks are all about reminding the student body what we love about NCS through community celebration and probably food. So get ready for some impromptu dance parties y’all.
After the first few weeks of school, I’m going to start working to establish a sister program at NCS where incoming freshmen are assigned junior sisters when they enter the upper school. The purpose of the program is not only to give freshman a friend who could provide her with insight into upper school life, but also just to give both girls a friendly face in an otherwise unfamiliar grade. We’ll have special days throughout the year to bring the sisters together, including days where sisters eat lunch together and days where they are given a challenge to complete together. The sister you’re assigned would be on the same color team as you, so when you do special bonding activities, you would give your team points. I’m really hoping that this will also encourage girls to support each other’s extra curricular events, like sports games, art shows, or musicals. I think if a junior has a friend on the JV team, she will definitely be more likely to come to a few games and support her sister.
I also want to make sure the upper school community handles the dress code change as well as we can. I know many of our initial instincts are to range against the newly imposed rules, but we all need to choose our battles. I want to encourage every member of the community to try to set an example and follow the dress code; I’ll miss sweats as much as anyone, but I think we can all find our own way to work with it.
Overall, I want to do everything I can to bring the school community closer together this year. I can’t wait to hear the student body’s great ideas that the student government can work on throughout the year, and I’m going to continue the great initiatives from past presidents, including the tampon program and the teacher TED Talks. I’m so excited for this year and I hope you all are too!