the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Alex Shao ’22
Winter this year is no different than any other Westminster winter in my memory: the cold weather, rigorous courses, and, of course, “winter blues.” To clarify, winter blues is not depression and often lasts way shorter than depression. Just like every winter, I am feeling more lethargic and pessimistic because of the coldness and long nights. After talking with multiple members of the community, many people also share this experience of feeling down during winter. So, what actually causes this phenomenon?
By Sam Bradley ’23
When considering weapons of mass destruction, things like the atomic bomb come to mind, the culmination of over 130,000 people’s work and $2,000,000,000 in the almighty Manhattan Project to create the weapon to end all weapons. Or perhaps you think of chemical and biological warfare, which was eventually deemed so powerful and inhumane that it was outlawed by the people who created the laws of war. Yet there is one weapon that even the Geneva Conventions failed to consider: the Westminster community news tag. Its power dwarves all the aforementioned triumphs of scientific chaos. It provides the ability to simultaneously contact over 500 individuals with the press of a button, with literally no restrictions or password requirements. As of now, its power is completely unchecked and prone to abuse. What if an unhinged individual were to go on an email sending spree using this tag? On the scale of the whole community, the result would be a total of, well, at least several minutes of wasted time! It makes one question how such a thing was allowed to be created in the first place.
By Alice Liu ’23
The first two years of high school flew by amid a couple of AP classes and occasional exams. Then junior year arrived with pre-ACT, pre-SAT, and emails from colleges. As the college application process nears, an article caught my attention:
By Lara Connor ’22
Mari awoke to the cry of rusted machinery churning through the newly dusted streets of Carlyle, Texas. Window blinds drawn and glasses left in the bathroom, without eyes on the street the noises told Mari that people were coming — aliens, IRS, the mean girls from school, what have you — for something, someone. There was a pain, a purpose, to the clanging that rang through town and had begun seeping through her sheets.
By Jamai Miller ’22 and Elle Dorrian ’22
(This article contains spoilers up to Season 2, Episode 4.)
Unless you’ve been living completely under a rock since the beginning of 2022, you know it’s Euphoria season. Our TikTok feeds are flooded with theories and our Sephora carts are filled with glitter eyeshadow. Apart from raging over Fez and Lexi’s unexpected relationship, many are wondering how Maddie goes to school dressed to the nines with only her trendy minuscule purse, incapable of holding a pencil (much less textbooks…)
By Allen Zhou ’23
Like many fellow anxious Westminster Fifth Formers, I started working on my SAT before the school year even started. After being tormented by the specter of the SSAT during my middle school years, I always doubted the value of these standard tests. Officially known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT is designed to evaluate students’ capability of taking on challenging workloads in college; over the past 90 years or so, SAT and its younger sibling, ACT, have become an inevitable rite of passage for bright young people before they take the next step in their lives. Yet, over the years, the value of these standardized tests has come under increasing scrutiny on both fronts of merits and equity.
By Cindion Huang ’25
I sensed it,
The boiling fury that is about to burst through my skin,
When you, out of all people
Slapped me with the words:
“I don’t care.”
I felt it,
The strong, desperate agony as it filled up my body
Like a rushing river. It slowly yet thoroughly devoured me
As you chose to utterly disappear
from my world.
Distressed and Anxious,
I stuffed all my emotions in a bottle --
A one-way bottle that can only fill up,
A bottle only I had the access to --
And so I pretended that nothing’s wrong with my life,
Answering each “How are you today?” with
“Oh I’m doing very well.”
I kept telling myself:
As long as no one – including me –
Acknowledged the existence of the bottle
It’d vanish completely,
Like snowflakes melting upon the touch of water.
But I should’ve known,
That there will always be a limit
As to how much emotional waste a bottle can hold,
And one day --
It will shatter.
By Chip Genung ’25
Recently, the Third Form had a student council election to choose the officers that will help to improve the form in any way they can. The elections, held in late November, had fifteen candidates running. There were six form officer positions, one vice president position, and one president position. The results were announced shortly before winter break. Ben Swift ’25 was elected president, and Will McCarthy ’25 was elected vice president. Georgia Dorrian ’25, Chip Genung ’25, Adrienne Hall ’25, Alexei Kocatas ’25, Finn Seeley ’25, Jake Timone ’25 and Lucy Wainwright ’25 were all elected form officers. Though having had only one meeting with the full student council and one meeting with the individual form student council, they have many ideas for form and school-wide events, as well as ideas for other ways to improve our school community.
By Maya Tavares ’24
Each year, the Fourth Formers participate in a course titled “Civic Engagement and Public Speaking.” We meet once a week and discuss various theoretical subjects as a class. The course is taught by the renowned Todd Eckerson, a dedicated man who has taught for decades. Students have enjoyed learning about different theoretical perspectives and social issues via guided class discussions. As the material is thoughtful and engaging, students feel encouraged to speak freely and gain confidence throughout the course.
Each year, Mr. Eckerson most enjoys the chance to get to know the Fourth Form. As he observes the class, he recognizes the student's progression in confidence throughout the course. He hopes that the class will help students to “take out a sense of truly engaging in Westminster,” and develop a “greater ease for public speaking.”
As we reach the halfway point of the year, many students believe that this has been a reality for them, as they find that the skills they have learned in class have translated into their other schoolwork. While this class is to some extent a demanding course when it comes to the essay writing portion, many students appreciate the refreshing “book-less” experience. This essential time to speak about civil conversations is what makes it such a unique class and is debatably one of the best ones at Westminster.
By Alice Tao ’24
In June 2019, freeskier Eileen Gu made a decision that would change the future of freeskiing.
Fifteen-year-old Eileen Gu chose to switch from Team USA to represent her mother’s homeland China, with the hope to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. She explained on Instagram that this was her opportunity to inspire millions of young Chinese girls while promoting the sport she truly loves to a country where freeskiing was a weakness. She expressed her ambition to help push China in focusing more on snow sports. This surprising announcement shocked millions of fans globally, including infuriated ones who did not understand why.
Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Gu speaks fluent English and Mandarin. Her Chinese mother Yan Gu always emphasized and imprinted the Chinese culture and values in her daughter and raised her to appreciate her roots. During her childhood in Beijing, her mixed-race appearance would force her to stand out among the locals, which she wasn’t too happy about. She stated, “I feel Chinese in China, and American in America.”
Eileen Gu is fast becoming a household name since her debut as a Chinese freeskier and has graced the covers of several fashion magazines. She is the face of many international fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, and Victoria’s Secret. It seems like her life is on the right track to success. In December 2020, Gu received acceptance to Stanford University, which was her biggest dream aside from competing in the Olympics. She proved to herself and the world that athletes can excel academically too. Gu scored 1580 out of 1600 in the SATs while graduating high school a year early to prepare for the Beijing Olympics.
On the ski slopes, Eileen is unstoppable. Her 2021 started with two golds at the Winter X Games, becoming the first female rookie to win two gold medals and the first Chinese to win gold in the event’s history. While breaking countless barriers, Eileen’s winning streak does not end there. She continued the feat at the 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships in Aspen, where she won multiple golds with a broken finger. Later in the year, Gu became the first women’s skier to land a double cork 1440 in Austria. She continues to stun the world as she breaks records and records.
Gu is favored to win half-pipe, big air, and slopestyle in the Beijing 2022 Olympics. Let’s follow along with genius Eileen Gu’s Olympic journey.
By Heather Zhu ’23
Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, California Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College … The names of 16 well-known, top universities and colleges, familiar to almost every high school student across the nation, appeared in the federal court of Illinois as they are faced with a lawsuit accusing them of price fixing and overcharging hundreds of thousands of current and former students eligible for financial aid within the last two decades.
United States’ most prestigious universities, supposedly meritocratic and need blind, are in fact sued for discrimination against students of lower income. Although it is legal for schools a part of the President 568 group — an affiliation of colleges and universities, founded in 1994, who practice need blind policies — to share formulas when calculating financial aid, the financial needs of an applicant should not be a factor of their admissions decision. The current lawsuit filed by five former students from some of the 16 defendant schools alleged that nine colleges, such as University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University, have unlawfully taken students’ ability to pay into their waitlist admission decisions while the other seven schools, though not guilty of such practice, were aware of their conspiracy. Families with lower income bear the burden of unfair admission practices for waitlisted applicants with greater need for financial aid have a lower chance of getting accepted. The discriminatory favor of wealthy students and the members of the ‘568 price fixing cartel’s’ collusion to minimize the amount of financial aid offered to students have inflated the price of attending these elite universities.
The right to higher education, often seen as the key to upward social mobility for lower/ middle income families, has been hindered by the unjust admission practices of colleges. The plaintiff calls on other alumni, who were overcharged for their attendance in the aforementioned universities, and current students, whose financial aid have been limited due to illegal practices of the ‘cartel’, to join them in their lawsuit against these schools. The plaintiff hopes to end admissions bias based on financial needs.
By Grace Yuan ’23
When the omicron variant was discovered, Boris Johnson implemented Plan B measures, which included making face masks mandatory in most indoor public settings such as public transportation, shops and theaters and cinemas, and advising people to work from home whenever possible. A recent negative test or a COVID pass is necessary for bigger venues, as part of a plan to prevent the spread of the highly infectious version. High school students must wear masks in classrooms as part of the strategy to reduce the transmission of the highly infectious form.
Building 40 new hospitals, overhauling social care, hiring and keeping 50,000 more nurses, and generating 50 million more GP surgery appointments are still priorities for Boris Johnson's government. Infection management during the COVID-19 pandemic is the government's top concern for adult social care. For the elderly, care facilities are especially susceptible since their occupants are often at most risk owing to their ages, and the architecture of care homes means that the virus may spread swiftly in enclosed settings. There is a comprehensive strategy to assist the 25,000 care home providers in England who have been affected by the emergence of COVID-19, including increasing testing and re-engineering the delivery of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. 33 members of NHS and local authorities are working together on supporting the extra requirements of people leaving the hospital during the pandemic, with £3.2 billion in additional cash having been provided, which may be used to address some of the higher costs the providers are experiencing as well as increased strains on social care.
After everything is said and done, the United Kingdom has started on a large booster vaccination campaign since the Prime Minister has implemented measures, which has resulted in a reduction in the number of omicron cases. Booster injections restore most of the COVID vaccination protection that has been lost as a result of fading immunity, as well as protection against the more transmissible variety, which has weakened the potency of Covid shots much more than its predecessor, the delta strain.
By Johnathan Li ’24
(Image: Neural networks that emulates Deleuze’s conception of a Rhizome)
We reduce to the most fundamental binary: A and B. Why do we name one A and the other B? Why do we consider their similarities and differences based on the fact that they are one and the same? This is the perspective that has long dominated Western intellectual thought: A cannot be B, and B cannot be A.
By Ryan Jainchill ’23
On Sunday, Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m., Super Bowl LVI (56) will conclude the 2021 NFL season at the brand-new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. A season full of exhilarating games ends with a matchup that no one would have predicted back in August– the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams. Both teams feature high-flying offenses, firing on all cylinders throughout the season; both also have solid defenses and special teams units, making this matchup particularly interesting. Let’s take a look at each team and their path to the big game.