the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Rhys Marschke ’24
For years, it has been a running tradition here at Westminster to have a select handful of Sixth Formers live in the Third Form dorms. These handpicked students are chosen because of their exemplary leadership, and the trust dorm faculty have in them to deal with the young, inexperienced Third Formers. I, as one of the freshmen, have only positive things to say about these young men. I speak for all of my first-year peers in Alumni when I say that these seniors have had an enormously positive impact on our first few months here. Whether it be giving us bits of insights into social life at school or helping us with our academics, the Sixth Formers continue to push us to be our best selves.
In my case, the young men in my hall have served as more than mentors for me; they have been like older brothers who have certainly changed my outlook on the school tremendously. I also admire the boys for showing us the ropes and the ins and outs as well as the dos and don'ts around the school, despite their busy lives during the pandemic. In an interview where I asked fellow Third Form boy and the class president, Will Whiting ’24, about the role of upperclassmen on him thus far, he said, “The seniors have had an amazing impact on me during my first year at Westy. They have been really supportive of everyone and have encouraged us to try new things.”
Part of the job of the Sixth Formers in Alumni is to push us out of our comfort zone, as Will said, and I think they do a great job with that. Whiting also said that the Sixth Formers on the prefect board “have encouraged (him) to run for the student council.” Their years of experience at school, here, whether this is their third or fourth year, aid them in serving as shining examples of what it means to be a successful Westminster student — socially, athletically, and of course, academically. They believe that they need to pass the torch to us underformers the right way, and what better way than teaching us themselves. Through everything they’ve been through, including COVID-19, it is truly remarkable that they never lost their positive spirit. I applaud the seniors for being such great role models for us new Martlets, and I can’t wait for the rest of the year ahead with them.
By Hudson Stedman ’21
Before I get started, let me make a full disclaimer: I am not proposing to axe Baxter Lawn (purely a ‘clickbait’ title). BUT, the Quad nonetheless poses a serious inhibition towards movement around the central campus. The recent (almost daily as it seemed) February snowstorms have truly brought light to this issue. If there was no shot in absolutely soaking my white canvas Vans and socks to achieve seconds faster arrival time on the journey from Alumni House to the SHAC, then why was I so deeply frustrated that I had to walk around on the road rather than through the Quad?
The answer lies in the concept of the ‘desire path.’ Most of you have probably seen trails of dead grass in city green spaces that mark the path of least resistance to city dwellers on their journeys from home to work, work to lunch, meeting to meeting, or whatever occasion of urgency forces the walker to actively muddy their shoes to achieve a seconds fewer arrival time. In fact, we have our own at Westminster: a snowy Quad reveals that some brave souls are willing to risk hypothermia or serious discomfort to cross the treacherous no man's land – once again, to trim seconds of walking time. And once a few brave souls have outlined a path, the community follows suit in exponential numbers to create what seems to look like machinery plowed course from dorm to dining hall, dorm to Armour, or dorm to athletic complexes. Even in the absence of snow, we see dead patches of grass that document the same phenomenon. Most notably on the obnoxiously annoying north side of Cushing near the annex on the journey from Southern dorms to Armour, and the patch of grass between Adams dining room and the main road, which is roped off most of the year to prevent absolute destruction of the lawn.
When pondering Westminster’s ‘desire paths,’ I am reminded of Tunji Osho-Williams’ ’21 investigative article a few years prior, considering the commute times on campus. A highly investigative article, to say the least, Tunji determined the difference between cutting across the senior lawn and walking around the senior lawn on the way from Armour to the Dining Hall is a difference of merely two seconds. Two. So why does it feel so much faster? Well for longer journeys, the difference on my route from Alumni House to the Armour Atrium between the ‘as the crow flies’ path and the ‘follow the pavement’ path, for instance, is a laborious 100ft. And using Tunji’s determined ~5.10ft/s average speed of a Westminster student rule, that means an extra 20 seconds! That could be the difference between a few back-and-forth emails to Mr. Rasheed or just being on time to class, which is why I am constantly trying to find the illicit ‘desire path.’
So how can we fix this plaguing psychological issue posing a serious threat to movement on Westminster’s central campus? Well, there are two methods. First is trying to change the mindset of a Westminster student. That means no more walking across the Quad, no more trailing after one another in a group traveling down the skinniest snow path, and everyone MUST obey the pavement. But let’s face it ... that is boring, nobody has that time. Our human nature will always lean towards the ‘desire path.’ The second solution would be to better the urban planning of Westminster’s central campus. The rest of the buildings here look fantastic, but I don’t feel like walking the ring road around the Quad to the dining hall from swim practice as my hair starts to freeze in icy chunks.
My solution, in fact, does not require much coordination or construction effort whatsoever. What is the one thing lacking from Westminster’s campus? You guessed it, dirt paths that rival those in the Palace of Versailles gardens. They satisfy the aesthetic of a garden – or in our case the Quad – without inhibiting movement throughout the grounds. We would only need a few: most likely one from Memorial to the Squibb/Kelter region, one from Gund towards the general direction of the dining hall, and one from the Alumni/Kelter region to the Memorial/Pettee Gym region. The dirt paths would only have to be four or five feet wide at most, thus not ultimately destroying the fundamental purpose of the Quad’s green space, and the grounds crew would only have to help keep the snow plowed to less than a few inches in the instance of a snowstorm. These three ‘desire paths’ would ultimately help create two ‘subquad’ regions, while maintaining the need for the cottage core aesthetic of the Quad, and greatly eliminating inhibitions to movement on Westminster’s central campus. Oh, and for the love of God, please make one across the pointless green lawn between the Annex and the brick road bridging WCC and Cushing.
By Annie Brewer ’21
Image Credit: ymun.org
This past January, 16 martlets took to Zoom to participate in the 47th session of the Yale Model United Nations Conference. These students ranged in form and previous Model UN experience. Representing various countries, individuals, and interest groups, Martlets took part in committees ranging from 15 to about 100 delegations. Sixth Former Sydney Schuster, whose first-ever YMUN was this year’s virtual conference, thought it was “a great way to engage in model UN considering the circumstances,” as she referenced challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past, Westminster students, along with students from across the country and the world, have traveled to Yale University’s campus in New Haven for the four-day conference. But this year, the conference, like so much else, migrated online. The platform, a website designed specifically by Yale students to broadcast the conference, was a resounding success. Their Model UN website featured a virtual map with wings for general assemblies, regional bodies, crisis and specialized committees, and “rooms” for each specific committee. Within these virtual rooms, Yale offered high school participants the option to participate on the browser itself or use a direct link to Zoom. Virtual rooms also had tools to help committee chairs-Yale students-to moderate debate, including a blank speakers list box and a timer.
While this was the first YMUN to go virtual, it is not the first to experience hiccups due to COVID-19. Last year’s conference was cut short due to fear of a COVID-19 case when a student traveling from China began to experience flu-like symptoms. While the student ended up testing negative for COVID-19 and had influenza, fear of the unknown led Yale to call off the final day of their 2020 conference. One year later, Yale Model UN’s adaptation to COVID-19 reminds us all of the longevity of this pandemic and the challenges that have come along with it. Even still, Yale’s Model UN organizers and the Westminster students who debated topics ranging from the Paris Climate Accords to neocolonialism in Africa, and represented 14 different delegations, prove that anything can happen when intelligent, creative minds work together. As an experienced delegate, Fourth-Former Caroline Bartley ’23 recalls, “Despite being completely virtual, YMUN was able to run their 2021 conference to its full extent. As a delegate, I learned a lot from my chairs and committee members, and felt that Yale could not have done a better job.” While the experience of a virtual Model UN was unable to mirror that of an in-person conference, Yale’s 47th YMUN was undoubtedly a success.
By Margot Douglass ’22
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally at an alarming rate, issues of mental illnesses – such as depression or anxiety – rise substantially. Ever since the pandemic, many people have lost their family members and friends, jobs, and privileges that compose an important part of our daily life. These losses result in an increasing amount of stress and pain, which can develop into more severe mental illness issues.
Since the introduction of COVID-19, around 41% of adults and 56% of young adults reported anxiety or depressive disorders in January and December 2020, respectively. These numbers have risen approximately 30% since January and June of 2019 and connect to social isolation and loneliness due to social distancing and travel restrictions. This situation is exacerbating and evolving into a public health crisis and can be associated with a shorter lifespan and a higher risk of further mental and physical illnesses. Ultimately, the pandemic has taken the lives of many individuals as well as restricted social norms, which has resulted in a severe increase in cases of anxiety and depression. Nevertheless, there are a few approaches to alleviate the situation.
Medications that can treat anxiety and depression exist, such as antidepressants or extensive therapy, though some simple yet effective remedies are also available. Since social and academic life can be especially tough for boarding students, it is essential to stay positive and maintain daily exercise. On balance, communication is the most powerful tool for students who need any help.
(Data cited including images)
By Sydney Schuster ’21
Image Credits: David B. Newman
After a very long interim period, the Westy Swimming and Diving team is back in the water, and some would even say better than ever! Following four busy weeks of practice, the Martlets kicked off the 2020-2021 season this past Saturday, February 13, with their first-ever virtual swim meet. Though the team has only been in the water for a short time, the swimmers were spitting out their best times, as well as setting new school records, left and right. Lucy Benoit ’23, a frequenter of the record board, claimed two more records this weekend, in both the 100Y breast and 100Y free. Max Larock ’22 also broke a longstanding 100Y free record, set in 2006 by Steve Cosme ’06. Additionally, Larock got a new personal best in the 200Y Free. The best times didn't stop here: Madison Khuu ’24 brought two best times in the 100Y breast and 50Y free in her first-ever meet as a Martlet. Moreover, Catie McGuigan ’23 earned two best times of her own in the 50Y and 100Y freestyle. Congratulations to all Martlets who swam their best times this weekend.
Though it was hard to measure up to the energy and chaos of a crowded pool deck in previous seasons, Annie Brewer ’21 noted that the virtual meet felt “very normal overall, but strange to not have the other team cheering in opposition.” Campbell Swift ’21 and Katherine Ashe ’21 both echoed Brewer’s sentiments, saying that they were thrilled with the opportunity to compete again and that the spirit and camaraderie of the team have not diminished without the physical presence of the other teams.
As a whole, the team has enjoyed the season thus far and is extremely grateful to be together and back in the water. They have even expanded their workouts into cross-training activities such as boxing and battle ropes, all of which the team has grown pretty fond of.
The Martlets plan to suit up again this coming Saturday, February 20, for their last meet of the season against Hopkins School, the alma mater of the head coach Grant Gritzmacher. With two wins already in their back pocket, the team is very hopeful to emerge victorious next weekend.
Congratulations to Max Larock '22, Lucy Benoit '23, their teammates and their coaches on a phenomenal two weeks in the pool. Both Max and Lucy set pool records Feb. 13 and Feb. 20 during their livestream virtual meet. A full list of the records they broke is listed below.
By Ral Reyes ’21
Image Credit: People.com
On Feb. 7, we witnessed Tom Brady win his 7th Super Bowl title, which officially establishes him as the most dominant player in NFL history. He alone surpasses both the Steelers and Patriots organizations who are tied for the most rings by an organization at six rings each. Tom Brady has proved to everyone that no one can stop him, not even his father’s time. Before this season, people thought that he was crazy for going to the Buccaneers, considering that he was a member of the Patriots franchise since the day he was drafted. Everyone thought that it was impossible for Brady to win another ring with the Buccaneers because he was a system quarterback. A system quarterback is a player who can only play well when under the guidance of a specific coach. The Brady doubters believed that Brady without Belichick would never be successful; however, Brady proved his naysayers wrong and took the Buccaneers, a team that has not been in the playoffs since 2007, to its second-ever Super Bowl appearance in team history.
Last year, The Buccaneers posted a 7-9 record with Jameis Winston at quarterback who led the league in interceptions; however, the head coach, Bruce Arians believed that his team had all of the weapons necessary to win a championship. The only missing piece was a quarterback who can lead their team to the Super Bowl. This leader was Tom Brady.
Tom Brady from the very start of his Tampa Bay career worked extremely hard towards improving his craft despite being twice the age of some of his teammates. This attitude became infectious throughout the Buccaneers organization, and his teammates became inspired by his continued commitment and effort to the game. Tom Brady, the oldest starter to win a Super Bowl, now 43 years old, was able to win his 7th Super Bowl ring against Patrick Mahomes (25 years old).
However, the question still persists. When will Tom Brady retire? Tom Brady will be entering the final year of his two-year contract with the Buccaneers and has provided no indication of retiring after his contract expires. Tom Brady stated after winning this past Super Bowl, in response to a question alluding to his potential retirement, “Yeah, we are coming back. You know that”. From this statement, we see that Tom Brady is not going anywhere, and he will be back on the Buccaneers next season where he will try to win his 8th championship ring. Tom Brady continues to play the sport he loves and has established himself as the greatest player of all-time through his continued display of excellence on the football field.
By Lucy Jones ’21
On Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 7, Abel Tesfaye, otherwise known as “The Weeknd” performed during the halftime show. The performance gained more attention than usual due to its criticism by a lot of viewers. Although there was no political commentary included in the show, many took to social media to look for a general opinion. Using Instagram story polls, TikTok videos, and Twitter, many social media users saw that no one could come up with a collective consensus of how the performance was. Many (like myself), however, really enjoyed the show and found that it was not only entertaining and creative but a good distraction from the world’s issues that surround us every day.
For many who are confused about The Weeknd’s performance at the halftime show, a lot can be explained with his work in the past year. Back in August, Tesfaye performed at the MTV Music Awards with special effects makeup that made him look beat up, and then in November, he attended the American Music Awards with a cast on his face, similar to the ones worn by the backup performers at the halftime show. Last month in his music video for his song Save Your Tears, he again wore special effects makeup to make it seem as though he had gotten plastic surgery. In all three of these performances, he wore the same red bedazzled suit that he also wore at the halftime show. The performance itself is supposed to represent the life of a young star, much like his own life, and the pain and torture that happens through the attainment of stardom. At the beginning of the show, he presents himself as an innocent singer chasing his dreams, then the audience sees him in a hall of mirrors while he sings about being blinded by the lights. During that same song, we see the introduction of the masked backup dancers who are supposed to represent different versions of himself with plastic surgery trying to conform to the “look” of Hollywood. During the middle of the show, he appears to be at the top of the world, overlooking the Tampa stadium, but he quickly is moved to the field where he is surrounded by a large crowd of the same masked dancers. By the end of the performance, he and the dancers begin to dance in a chaotic fashion until they all collapse at the end. Given the context of his performances over these past several months in addition to his halftime show performance, it is clear that The Weeknd’s show is better understood if the audience understands the true message that he is trying to portray.
On social media, Tesfaye’s message was explained, yet a large number of people still disapproved of the show. Whether it was because of the concern of the COVID-19 pandemic or the fact that viewers generally disliked the show, it is still a noteworthy performance that has an important message of stardom behind it.
By Ryan Jainchill ’23
Image Credit: Howlin_ Hockey of Coyotes Forward Conor Garland
Since the end of last year's National Hockey League (NHL) season, a lot has changed league-wide. Sponsored logos have been placed on the sides of the player helmets, divisions have been realigned, the glass has been removed from behind the benches for more air space, and most importantly, the removal of fans in many of the arenas. All three of these changes have been in response to COVID-19, and more off-ice precautions have been implemented for the safety of the players, executives, and others. Even with all of these precautions, many teams have been ravaged by the virus. An abundance of cases have caused postponements of games and the league commissioner, Gary Bettman, to move games around to make sure each club plays a fair and equal amount.
The first team to be affected was the reigning Western Conference Champions, the Dallas Stars. The club reported six positive cases for the players and two for other staff members involved. These cases came less than a week before the Stars’ opener and also impacted one of their opponents, the Florida Panthers. Other clubs have had outbreaks amongst players and staff, with these such cases affecting three of the four new divisions. To limit travel, exposure, and to slow the spread, teams have been placed into seven or eight-team divisions and will play every regular-season game against those teams. The only division so far not affected is the all-Canadian one, also known as the Scotia North division: the seven-team division was formed to make it easier for the Canadian teams to travel amongst one another and to limit border trouble. Teams in the newly formed MassMutual East division have had cancellations and postponements as a result of outbreaks in the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, and one suspected outbreak in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Every team in the division has had at least one cancellation or a postponement, meaning each will have to play makeup games at the end of the season. The other two divisions have been hit harder, however, with shutdowns and postponements almost weekly. The Discover Central and the Honda West divisions, located centrally in the south and west, have had teams such as the Vegas Golden Knights of the west and the aforementioned Stars and Panthers in the central, having only played nine games in a month because of the virus. These cancellations are taxing on the players because they seem to not know when the next time they will skate is, if their organization has an outbreak or if they have been affected by another organization.
For example, the Arizona Coyotes of the Honda West division have had three of their last four games postponed due to COVID-19. The team had three straight games against the St. Louis Blues, then one postponed against the Minnesota Wild, back to St. Louis for a game, and then two postponements this week against the Colorado Avalanche because of their outbreak, and then a game against the Blues again. The Coyotes will play seven straight games against the Blues, ranging across about a week, which is the equivalent to a full playoff series. Coyotes forward, Conor Garland, was quoted as saying “If you’re going to play a team seven times in a row, it’s going to happen,” when asked about the tension and animosity that comes with playing the same team for seven straight games. He went on to add, “You’re going to have individual battles and then team battles. It’s hockey. It’s just the way it goes.” Garland was referring to the little battles that players on the Blues and Coyotes will indulge in during their seven games against St. Louis. The bad blood and animosity are common and will continue to grow in these new divisions and is common throughout the playoff series.
These little outbreaks have caused much confusion and have caused teams like the Blues and Coyotes to seemingly execute a playoff series in the regular season. With these new divisions and teams only playing others in their respective groupings, old rivalries will be renewed and new ones will be formed. All of this confusion was inevitable while playing in a pandemic and the league and its executives have done a superb job setting the precedents for what is allowed and not allowed for on-and-off ice activities. Although teams are still being affected by the virus, and a lack of training camp has led to numerous injuries, the league and commissioner Gary Bettman must have concrete plans of attack for finishing out the 2021 National Hockey League season, playoffs and all.