Dear Spirited Readers of The Exchanged,
As a part of our constant effort to improve and adapt The Exchanged to the demands of our present moment, the Editors-in-Chief have developed The Exchanged’s first Mission Statement and Comment Policy.
In writing both the statement and the policy, we strived to communicate the purpose of our publication as a platform for students to express their ideas in a community made up of individuals with diverse opinions and backgrounds. We consider both of these factors with every decision that we make.
At the end of the day, we are not perfect. We are trying our best to navigate this difficult time and make the best decisions that we can. We spend hours discussing each major decision and working through the diverse perspectives that we share among the three of us.
Just as you might not agree with every idea that we publish, you might not agree with every decision that we make. We ask you to remember that we are still your peers who are genuinely aiming to publish the best content possible. We always welcome constructive criticism, but please try not to automatically assume malintent from any of us either. Our intentions never have been and never will be malicious.
On behalf of the rest of our dedicated staff, we want to thank all of our readers, writers, and contributors that have made The Exchanged the publication that it is. We wouldn’t have the privilege of working on this publication without all of you.
Alex Misiaszek '21 and Noah Wohlstadter '21
Student tutoring is an indispensable program at St. Albans that not only helps younger students achieve academic success, but also fosters a sense of community. Especially during this period of distance learning, it is crucial to form connections within our student body to preserve the brotherhood that is so pivotal to the St. Albans experience.
Students are more likely to welcome advice from their peers than they are from their parents or teachers. When your teacher assigns an extra problem set before a test, you might complain about how they’re being unfair and how they don’t respect the fact that you have a life instead of actually finishing the problem set. When your mom yells at you from upstairs to get an early start on your essay that’s due at the end of the week, you might just ignore her. But, when a peer suggests doing extra problems or being proactive about major assignments because it worked for him, you miraculously manage to get your essay in early and do every extra review problem in the back of your textbook for the three tests you have on Friday.
This plug for the effectiveness of student tutoring may seem a little trite, and in reality, it probably is. However, it’s truer than you might expect––we know through our own experience of having peer tutors. No, we don’t miraculously get all of our essays in early and do extra practice for each of our tests, all while managing to get to bed by 9:30 p.m. every night. But, we have learned invaluable tips for how to study and how to manage the time we have more effectively, all from having peer tutors. The same advice that sounded absurd coming from the adults in our lives sounded perfectly reasonable coming from our peers: that’s why peer tutoring can be so effective.
As leaders of the Student Tutoring program this year, our job is to connect students that want to be tutored with those willing to take time out of their day to help mentor and guide their peers. This tutoring community we foster enables a strong sense of camaraderie throughout the entire Upper School. With seniors getting to know freshman and friendships being formed between grades, the tutoring network is quite tight. Many tutees also realize how impactful their tutor was to them as an underclassman, so they join the program as a tutor when they are an upperclassman to try to impart this same impact on a peer as a way to give back.
We encourage anyone and everyone to become a part of this community. You don’t have to sign up to become a tutor or to get tutored: all you have to do is be willing to help people and reach out to others. When you pass by someone in the library and you see them struggling on a problem, ask if they could use a hand. Don’t be afraid to look outside of your friend group for support because you might just find a life-long friend within the tutoring community who leaves a lasting impact on your life. If you know anyone who could use some extra help, refer them to this article to convince them that Student Tutoring is worthwhile, and if you know someone who would be a great tutor, refer them to this article as well. We promise that being a part of the tutoring community, whether on the side of the tutor or the tutee, will be an extremely fulfilling experience that you will cherish for a long time.
Sign up to be tutored or to be a tutor here!
David Donoghue '21
Until March 6th, Covid-19 was a geographically distant worry with no imminent effects. Little did I expect that the Sidwell “AC in DC” acapella concert would be canceled before D.C recorded its first positive case. Yet it was. From there, there was a slew of cancelations regarding the arts on the Close. First, One Acts were virtual, quickly followed by performances at Flower Mart, the Spring Concert, Cum Laude service, and finally, the bookend performance at graduation.
After the demoralizing loss of those performances and looming possibility that the 20-21 school year would bring more GarageBand recordings and Zoom acting, the joint STA and NCS arts leadership had some thinking to do. Over the summer, I met more than a few times with Eleanor Czajkowski and Mr. Straub on the Chorale end and Eleanor Boomhower, Nico Cantrell, Isabel Hohenlohe, and the theatre faculty on the Thespian Society end. These meetings featured more speculation than planning, but left me with one conclusion:
We should get used to virtual arts since it’s all we’ll have for the next year.
Although it’s not how I’d like my Senior year to go, I found some comfort in that certainty; it meant I could turn my attention towards making the most of these unfortunate circumstances.
Now, how do we make the most of them? I don’t have a catch-all solution, but what I’d say to anybody who is wary of singing into their phone rather than their folder or acting in front of a camera instead of an audience. Embrace that it’s weird, and maybe even embrace that there’s less pressure since you’re doing it alone. If you’ve struggled with stage fright, there’s no stage anymore so that should help. Additionally, we all have more time, so use it! If there’s something you wanted to do before last March but had sports or personal conflicts, see if you now have freed-up space in your schedule—trying new things is now less taxing than ever.
As for the arts that aren’t run by teachers, they’re doing quite alright as well. On the A Cappella side, all 3 groups (Jackets Off, Close Encounters, and Sarsaparilla) have held successful auditions, and, while I can’t speak for the other two, Jackets Off has some exciting plans for the year. In terms of Open Mics, it’d be hard to have fewer than last year (0), so we can only go uphill. I’m sure we will.
At the end of the day, this isn‘t ideal, but nothing is. All we can do is make good with a bad situation, which we’re all smart enough to do. Try new things with your new time, follow @jacketsoff on Instagram, and you’ll be setting yourself up for as good a year as possible.
Luke Schramm '21
Following my words, “Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” I hesitantly sat staring into the green light which signaled my camera was on, waiting for something to happen. Applause? People? Life? I could’ve never imagined thinking these things after the delivery of my final homily at St. Albans School.
I didn’t know what to do. The service was just over. So, I turned my camera off, popped up in my shirt, tie, and underwear, and ventured for some breakfast. Giving my Senior Homily to my mom’s old Macbook Air was a surreal experience. I am sure peers on the vestry, David Donoghue and John Benner, can attest to this: the experience of writing, editing, and delivering a Zoom homily is utterly anticlimactic. When you’re giving it, you’re just sitting in a room, alone, going back and forth in your mind between whether you’re doing something that is important (as you are giving a homily to the whole school) or doing something that doesn’t need to be done carefully (as you are sitting alone in a room with underwear on). On the other hand, when you’re giving it in the Little Sanctuary, it’s like you’re jacked up on some smelling salts and pre-workout before a big sports game because you’re so nervous. In the very least, this could be described as change. A change from what the vestry previously did to what the vestry now does. Similarly, as change in what the congregation did to what the congregation does now.
While it truly has been hard, Rev. Hundley, Rev. Sam, and the vestry have quickly adapted to the circumstances. Shorter homilies, prayers made by the various vestry members, and passing peace at the end are just some of the new practices/changes from the Little Sanctuary that we have made. Passing the peace is my personal favorite. While we can’t give the regular standing ovation after the homily, the new sense of closure it adds to the service is incredibly different, but is what is necessary to create a loving normal over Zoom. We never passed peace before the pandemic by saying “hi” and “goodbye” when leaving the little sanctuary, we clapped loudly. This applause ends the service in the same way that passing the peace does: there is no unique thing about either individual action, but the carrying out of the action in both cases provides closure to the service.
Hearing Ms. Dunn, Mr. Carroll, and all my other former teachers engage with and congratulate the speaker is a bonus from the Zoom chapel meetings. These sound waves wake me up to the reality of support from the teachers that we have here. Throughout my time here at STA, I have always admired the teacher-student relationship generated by family style lunch, small classes, and big personalities. In the same way, this passing of the peace both reminds me and solidifies my feeling of comfort given by the staff here at STA.
Katherine Millien '24 and Abbey Shumsky '24
Wow, what a weird year. We miss our classmates, teachers, coaches, and certainly the NCS bagels. Although the pandemic makes this year especially challenging, and it’s easy to feel disconnected from the community, we, as the Freshmen grade President and Vice President, have an opportunity to make these odd times better for our classmates. Leadership in the time of COVID inevitably looks different from usual, and every day, we are working to make our leadership vision fit into the cameras and screens of our computers. This year, our biggest goals are to listen to our classmates, make this year positive and fun, and strengthen our bonds as members of the Class of 2024 and the larger NCS community. The two of us have worked with the other members of the 9th-grade student government team to come up with plans to achieve these goals.
Whether we are remote or in person, we want to make ourselves available to the 9th-grade class so we can hear and respond to any ideas and concerns. In normal years, we would have a suggestion box as well as the opportunity to chat with our classmates in the dining hall, in between classes, and during extra-curricular activities. To cater to this year’s online learning environment, we have created a feedback form where people can voice their thoughts, comments, and concerns. This form is easily accessible on our class page bulletin board, and we will review these forms each week so we can frequently address any issues.
We also plan to hold weekly Zoom lunches hosted by one or two class officers. Lunch is typically a time where we can socialize, stress about a difficult test, or complain about how much homework we have. While these conversations may seem routine, they are an important way to build community bonds. We hope that our Zoom lunches will create a similar environment and provide an opportunity to get to know each other and create bonds that will grow throughout our time at NCS. As class leaders, we also will use these lunches to listen to our classmates and hear what they have to say.
Although COVID protocols make it difficult for the entire Freshman class to spend time together in person, there are still ways we can interact as a connected group. The activities we are considering include a “battle of the homerooms” trivia contest, a pet show, and party nights where we watch movies on Netflix. We suspect that our classmates will also have some great suggestions about ways to socialize and we look forward to implementing those.
These are challenging times. We, like most other members of the Class of 2024, are disappointed to start our high school experience behind screens, behind masks, and without sports and special NCS traditions. However, as President and Vice President of this resilient class, we pledge to be there to listen and amplify our classmates’ voices, to provide opportunities for fun, and to build a community with bonds that will last a lifetime.
Griff Clessuras '24
This year has been incredibly challenging for everyone. Our nation has had to grapple with massive problems - including the pandemic, wildfires, and police violence. Of course, St. Albans is not immune from the wrath of 2020 either, as we face a unique set of challenges unlike what we have ever seen before. As the head prefect of Form III, one of my main goals for the year is to make distance learning as normal as possible. While remote learning will never be the same as in-person school, the prefects' have been working hard to eliminate unnecessary challenges caused by learning from our computers, facilitate the transition back into the cohort model, and plan activities for students. In our meetings, we address any concerns or questions we have heard from classmates to help improve distance learning and be more prepared for in-person school.
In addition, my other goal for the year has been to help new students get more integrated into school life and the community. For the many new students in Form III and the rest of the school, it can be difficult to get to know someone through Zoom. However, I think we have done a good job (at least with the present circumstances) helping these students get to know their classmates through remote-plus activities. For example, in advisories, we scheduled various ice-breaker activities on each grade’s remote-plus days so we can better understand each other and come closer as a community, especially for new students. Additionally, as I found when I was new three years ago, we can really get to know our peers and new students integrate into our community through sports. The playing field serves as an excellent opportunity for students, new and returning, to befriend one another and form new relationships.
Another challenge that our country faces is the systemic oppression of African-American people. We recently had an assembly in which Black alumni at St. Albans shared their experience of being Black at St. Albans and their experiences with racism. In our advisories, we have been tackling this topic head-on by discussing racism and police brutality. We’ve also shared our experiences and insights gained from reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me.
In the future, one other thing we look to accomplish as prefects is helping people adjust to the hybrid learning model. Questions from students have already been brought up in meetings as to how various school activities will work with only half of the class in school and the other half at home. We once again look to make this change in how we learn the new normal and hope to make a smooth transition into the hybrid system. While we look forward to learning again with our friends, peers, and classmates, we, as a group of prefects, understand that this will be different than anything we’ve ever seen before. Though this year has already been quite the challenge and many more difficulties are sure to arise, our main goal as prefects has been to make adjusting to the new normal as easy as possible. If you’re confused about something or struggling to adjust, reach out to any of us. We’re here to help.
Tayo Ball '21
If you were to go back three years and tell me as a freshman that I would end up being the Head Prefect of St. Albans School in my senior year, I never would’ve believed you. Fast forward three years later, and I’m still just as blown away. Ever since I enrolled in STA, being a prefect has been a dream of mine. I’ve looked up to the past senior prefects as the leading examples of the school and as precedents to follow throughout my time on the close. My only hope is that I can live up to the expectations and standards they have set for me and to fulfill the duties that my brothers in the Class of 2021 have entrusted me with.
Receiving the honor of Head Prefect and hearing everyone’s congratulations has definitely been the highlight of my year thus far. However great this honor, I cannot help but feel discouraged regarding the issues that are affecting the entire world today. During these troubled times, where quarantining and social distancing have become normal practices, the responsibilities and duties of Head Prefect have seemed somewhat watered down. With no refectory for lunch announcements, office room for student council meetings, or other amazing St. Albans traditions and honors presented to the Head Prefect, the job feels as though it isn’t complete. It is one of my biggest hopes this year that we will be able to return to campus as a full community so that I may experience this important role in the life of the school to the fullest. Beginning the hybrid model is a great step in this direction, and I can’t wait to get back on campus and do whatever I can to make this transition as comfortable for everyone as possible; I know others are excited as well.
Navigating all of these transitions will be a challenge. The future brings nothing but uncertainty, and we as an institution have to remain diligent and strong amidst the obstacles that are set in front of us. However, I have no doubt in my mind that we will persist through this adversity together, as we have done countless times before, and make this the best school year it can possibly be. Over the past three years I’ve had here at STA, I’ve grown to call it my home. With the honor of Head Prefect it is my goal each and every day to make sure that I can pay forward the gratitude that my peers, teachers, coaches, and mentors have shown me throughout my time here. As I said, my one hope is to live up to the expectations and to fulfill the trust that everyone has put in me. However, I know I cannot do this job alone. I know that I can also trust those around me to be my supporting cast, from the faculty to the administration to everyone that is involved with guiding St. Albans through this pandemic. I know that my fellow seniors in the Class of 2021 are ready to lead this school towards a brighter future for everyone and leave a legacy that is remembered for generations. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store for all of us, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a Bulldog.
Nadeem El-Shami '21
Walking the halls at St. Albans, there used to be a common theme in the chatter among students.
“I’m winning in fantasy this week.”
“Celtics in 6.”
“The Nats didn’t play very well last night.”
Sports. They capture our attention and our conversation more than any other form of entertainment. They are competitive and lend themselves well to perceived personal connections and rivalries - in this sense, sports are more engaging than any other media. Naturally, they’ve been disrupted heavily by the pandemic, more so than other aspects of student life that can be more easily translated to the virtual world. Organizations have gone to great lengths, however, to continue the supply of sports entertainment to the American people. In this spirit, the BEEF Club hopes to maintain the same brotherhood and enthusiasm that it has provided in the past.
This year, the senior heads—myself and Jack Leahy—as well as the committee members—Jason Lach, Jayden Bendesky, Evan Orloff, and Weston Duncan—are working hard to keep the spirit of the BEEF Club alive in a safe and responsible manner. With the hybrid model coming soon, BEEF will have the opportunity to plan community events, organize online games, competitions, and more which will carry us into the second semester, where we hope our IAC sports will return. In accordance with the DCSAA’s plans, winter sports are set to take place first, from early January to late February, followed by fall sports, running from late February to early April, and ending with spring sports, which will run from mid-April until graduation. Until then, it is important to have a student-run, non-academic, and inclusive organization to foster the sense of community that has diminished over these past few months. We may not have the refectory, the sky lounge, or Sam’s Bar, but we have the student body. After all, its members are what make the BEEF Club what it is. Despite these challenges, we know that this year holds big things for us as a school, and hopefully soon, we can all be back together at Stuart Field. Go dogs.
Additionally, to keep in touch with the BEEF Club and all its events, make sure to join the Remind group by texting “@2021beef” to 81010 as well as following our socials, @stabeefclub on all platforms.
Peniel Ouabo '21
For those of you who do not know, Equity Board is a branch of student government dedicated to (DEI) diversity, equity, and inclusion. We meet every Wednesday to discuss the various ways we can incorporate those three principles into life at NCS. Traditionally, Equity Board’s focuses on planning the annual diversity forum and issuing monthly newsletters, but this year we would like to expand our reach.
Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge the departure of DEI, Ms. McIntyre. Ms. McIntyre left earlier this month for personal reasons. Despite being president of the equity board, I found out this information at the same time as others. I was shocked and saddened by the news, but I respect her decision to do what was best for her. Personally, I will miss her referring to me as “darling” or calling everyone “friends” in her emails, but I look forward to collaborating with (her provisional replacement,) the Glasgow group.
At the end of summer, Equity Board outlined our goals for this school year. We want to be more visible and present in the student body. Above all, we desire to create spaces where students can have meaningful conversations and express their feelings on the chaotic world in which we live. To achieve this goal, we started collaborating with affinity-based clubs, reviving our Instagram account, and organizing online, interactive events for diversity forum.
Education via social media has proven to be our easiest goal to maintain. Our Instagram account, @ncsequityboard, posts a term of the week as well as historical figures relevant to the theme of the month. On that note, we also produce themed newsletters based on the history of each month. Camila Leiva ‘21 organized our first newsletter of the year for National Hispanic Heritage month, and I am so proud of the work she put into it. Our newsletters should inform and intrigue the student body, and hers did just that. Some months, like October, have several overlapping themes; to supplement this, we will send emails to spread awareness relevant to that month. We have enough time and energy to make sure no one feels overlooked on campus, which is what I appreciate about an online setting.
We have already decided on our theme for the year, and I aspire to host panels for student speakers, workshops relevant to the theme, and grade wide activities during co-curric. Equity Board has many plans for this school year, but much is contingent on the administration in regards to allotted community time and the new blended model. I would say what the theme is, but it’s a surprise. That is one thing that should remain the same this year.
In addition to in-school initiatives, Equity Board collaborates with programs outside of school. Board representatives attend and facilitate workshops for regional diversity conferences such as (BSDLC) Baltimore Student Diversity Leadership Conference, Diversity in the DMV, and (SDLC) Student Diversity Leadership Conference. I encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities and sign up for diversity conferences whenever you get the chance. You do not have to consider yourself “diverse”. Noone will look at you funny for trying to be open minded, educated, and most importantly empathetic. We also collaborate with an organization called “Speak Truth” to get NCS students to facilitate and participate in conversations with other high school students about social issues. Past discussion topics include amending the Constitution, mental health of first responders, and the dehumanization of Black women. Anyone is open to facilitate and participate, just reach out and look out for emails in regards to it.
Honestly, it has been an honor serving on the Equity Board for the past three years. I am sad to move on and hope to leave behind new traditions, but I can confidently say that Equity Board is in good hands for next year. Nicki Anyanwu ‘22 and Julia Sherman ‘22 are phenomenal leaders who will take Equity Board in a positive direction next year.
P.S: If you have an idea or issue you would like Equity Board to address, please let us know. Stay safe, and get excited for a phenomenal year!
Ariana Lotfi '21 and Sophie Graf '21
As the new school year approached, the NCS Student Government coordinated with the faculty sponsors to reimagine the year’s agenda. Our primary goal was to unite the student body and create excitement for this school year, and we had to adapt our approach in order to achieve these goals. Despite the virtual setting, we were able to start off the year with a Nest Activity. For those who don’t know, the Nest Program is a cross-grade initiative where the 9 th graders are paired with 11 th graders and 10 th graders are paired with 12 th graders. During the Upper School Student Government Assembly, we dedicated the majority of our time together to a Nest activity where Nest pairs were organized into groups so that they could get to know each other better. This virtual activity was definitely more difficult to coordinate compared to an in-person event because of the technological logistics, but the faculty provided a tremendous amount of support and cooperation which made the planning easier. We have received feedback and ideas from both faculty and students about the event, which we will integrate into our future events. We are planning to host more Nest activities throughout the year, so we hope all of the NCS upper schoolers are excited!
Furthermore, as many of you remember, last Spring, the NCS Dean of Student Life, Ms.
Clark, hosted an “End of Week Celebration” Zoom on Fridays at 3:30 pm. This time provided a
relaxing opportunity for the NCS Upper School to come together for a few laughs after a long
week. This year, the Student Government will host these weekly celebrations and plan fun activities to engage both teachers and students. We look forward to seeing students from different grades engaging with one another and the greater NCS community during these times.
Even before remote learning began in the spring, Student Government began brainstorming how to work with the administration to lighten the homework load for students. Given our virtual environment, the Student Government believes that it is now more important than ever for students to share their suggestions to the NCS administration about reducing the amount of homework and screen time. With this in mind, Student Government is in the process of submitting a proposal (to be applicable to both remote and in-person settings) to request that
each class have one weekend without any homework per quarter. We hope that through Student Government’s dialogue with the faculty, we can reiterate the need for enforcing the daily homework time limit and the understanding that rigor is not equivalent to a heavy homework load.
Despite the occasional ~dead silence~ in meetings, Student Government is in awe of how student leaders have creatively reimagined their roles in the Upper School, and we can’t wait to
plan more events to bring the whole school together! If any NCS student has any suggestions or ideas for Student Government this year, please do not hesitate to contact any of the members! We want to hear your ideas and opinions!!