The Current The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School Tue, 30 Jun 2020 00:19:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Class of 2020 celebrates with improvised graduation Sun, 28 Jun 2020 23:21:06 +0000 #VBGrad2020 graduation festivities helped this year’s graduates roll into a week of improvised ceremonies, honoring the class of 2020 whose graduation was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students chose 10 people to watch them walk across the stage and receive their diploma in a minimized, isolated environment to prevent the potential spread of the virus- during VA Gov. Northam’s phase 2.

“I was very proud of the school and satisfied with the way that they celebrated our class given the situation,” said senior Lucas Bushey. 

Seniors, with family and/or friends, were escorted into the gym by a masked faculty member.

“Obviously I wish we could have gotten to experience the normal graduation ceremony, but the school did a great job with the rules that they had to follow,” said Lucas. 

The ceremonies took place over four days, from Wed., June 17 to Sat., June 20, depending upon the student’s choice during sign ups.

Stay tuned for a video that features some of this year’s 505 graduates.

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New ways to show pride as LGBT celebrates 50th anniversary Sun, 21 Jun 2020 16:45:13 +0000 All pride celebrations were canceled or postponed as a result of COVID-19. However, according to LBGT+, their pride will not be silenced.

The LGBT+ community has decided to host pride celebrations online via Facebook live or zoom calls. 

“I think it’s definitely important to keep pride happening because it really isn’t just an event; it’s an observation of our community too. Canceling it would be way too reductive of what it means in the first place,” said Allison O’Dell, senior and LGBT+ member.  

June will be jam-packed with online celebrations depending on one’s location. Pride media will join Pride Live for Stonewall Day to raise funds for LGBTQ+ organizations most affected by the pandemic on June 26.  Global Pride will hold the largest virtual festival on June 27. 

Holding celebrations online works because so many LGBT+ youths use social media as a safe space. Not all LGBT+ members have accepting families, so they turn to their virtual families of the LGBT+ community. 

“I think that continuing some forms of online pride even with a return to normal can be beneficial for people who aren’t out or cannot go to pride for other reasons,” said O’Dell. 

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Staff presents seniors with Dolphin Medallions Thu, 18 Jun 2020 18:21:13 +0000 0 Let’s talk about systemic racism Tue, 16 Jun 2020 23:39:47 +0000 “No justice, no peace!”

Copious social media postings. Constant media coverage. Ubiquitous protests and demonstrations. Over the past few weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has exploded across America, with protests in all 50 states.

The protests began in response to the murder of George Floyd, a black man in police custody in Minneapolis. The issue of police brutality against black people isn’t a local, single city phenomenon. George Floyd is just one of many, the newest addition to a list of unarmed black people murdered by police. People took to the streets demanding not only justice for Floyd but for a reformed police system, one without racism. What one often hears being referred to as “systemic racism.”

Systemic racism is racism ingrained in the structure of our civilization and how our country developed. Redlining is a good starting point. ‘Redlining’ is a process that originated in the 1930s when a government-sponsored loan corporation sectioned off areas of maps of American communities to decide which areas they should loan mortgages. Neighborhoods with colored residents were circled in red, or redlined, to show that they were bad choices for lending. This practice was quickly picked up by private banks.

According to Emily Badger of the Washington Post, “to redline a community was to cut it off from essential capital.”

Although outlawed in 1968, the effects of redlining still exist today. Some banks still enact redline-like policies, discriminating against people of color.

According to a 2019 National Community Reinvestment Coalition study, black and Hispanic men seeking small business loans faced more scrutiny and worse treatment from bank officers than less qualified white men; if a black family couldn’t secure a loan in the 30s, 40s, or 50s, their descendants will lack family wealth that helps homeowners today.

This process still affects today’s society. One of the most quoted statistics in attempts to prove that black people are “naturally more violent” (and thus the criminal justice system is not biased) is the fact that while African-Americans are 13% of the American population, they represent 50% of the prison population. While true, this doesn’t take into account the effects of systemic racism. Poorer neighborhoods inherently have higher rates of crime and, as seen in redlining, black people are systematically forced into those low-income neighborhoods. Because of this, more police resources are dedicated to those areas, resulting in higher surveillance and even more arrests, driving the crime rate up. All this provides an artificially inflated rate of crime for black people. If you still doubt the implicit bias in the criminal justice system, just look at the exoneration rate between races: black people constitute almost 50% of all exonerations. They are falsely sentenced at a much higher rate than all other races.

The systematic boxing in of African-Americans into low-income communities feeds into itself. Over policing leads to more arrests, which leads to more broken households. More broken households increases the likelihood of economic difficulties. More economic difficulties limits social mobility, keeping those families in the same overpoliced neighborhood for generations. The high amount of arrests leads to implicit bias in the criminal justice system which results in harsher punishments and a higher rate of incarceration for black people when committing the same crime as their white counterparts. It feeds off of itself, and it will continue to feed off of itself unless the government steps in to stop the cycle.

This cycle is why protests and riots are necessary. At their current scale, the government cannot ignore the protests. In just a few weeks, Minneapolis decided to terminate its police department in its current capacity, Louisville passed “Breonna’s Law,” banning no-knock warrants (which are what led to Breonna Taylor’s death in March,) and the officers in George Floyd’s murder have all been charged.

For anyone looking to help make a change, register to vote. The presidential election and many local elections are approaching this November. The best way to make a change is to elect those into office who advocate for those changes.

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Romance during quarantine Wed, 10 Jun 2020 01:10:18 +0000 Hugs, kisses, and hand-holding have been replaced by facetime dates, texts, and care packages. Relationships now look vastly different due to COVID-19. Couples that used to see each other nearly every day have essentially been forced into long-distance relationships.

Long-distance relationships can be tricky, especially when they are not by choice and there is almost no option of seeing each other. 

According to refinery29, about 35% of long-distance couples are teenagers or college students and the average length of the relationship is 2.9 years. 

Communication plays a major role in successful relationships. Virtual, rather than in-person interactions, often lead to miscommunication and fights. This pandemic is hard enough to deal with, but the inability to physically see each other puts a severe mental weight on couples.

Love reveals itself in many languages, but physical touch is a big one. Physical proximity allows for easier communication and relationship development; however, relationships have shifted online. A virtual connection has become the main way most activities are done through quarantine, but especially for connections with loved ones. Facetime dates have become popular among young couples that can not see each other. Couples are often left with nothing to do but watch Netflix, play games, and talk on the phone for quality time. It is essential to set aside time to focus on each other in order to maintain a healthy relationship.

“I think maintaining a relationship while in quarantine is definitely more difficult than normal, but doing things like watching movie series and Netflix together helps to give us something to talk about,” said junior Emerson Imbriale.

While it may be hard initially, time apart may actually improve a relationship. According to BBC, missing your partner has been shown to often improve relationship health and creates more positivity, honesty, and openness once reunited.

Regardless of how couples stay connected, it is important to use open communication throughout the quarantine to maintain the relationship. While it seems hard to stay away, the most important goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy which will hopefully lead to couples’ reunions with lessened restrictions.

“It is important to find ways to connect and spend time with loved ones and friends during quarantine. I enjoy having Zoom chats with my family, playing games with friends on apps like House Party, and even reading the same book with my boyfriend and talking about it later,” said Kristen Hager.

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Coronavirus can’t stop conditioning Wed, 10 Jun 2020 00:51:23 +0000 Quarantine complicated seasons for countless sports teams, players, and coaches; however, it takes more than an international pandemic to slow down the Ocean Lakes track team. 

Along with all other spring sports, outdoor track’s 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. Social distancing remains a priority, so almost all sports are unable to train as a unit because their sports require the players to gather and often come in contact. 

The track team, however, has an advantage. Because they are able to engage in their sport without physical contact or close proximity, team members complete workouts created by coach Mike Nestor in small groups or individually which maintains a team dynamic and continues an efficient regimen for the runners. 

“We started as soon as we knew school was done; coach put up workouts for the next week for us to do in groups,” said freshman Nate Bushey. “We’re able to respect social distancing and still run together which is cool because a lot of other sports can’t actually do stuff.”

The team started with time trials in order to see improvement in their later quarantine times.

“The workouts have been structured. Right now we’re doing lots of sprinting, and we will be doing time trials soon to compare to our first ones,” said sophomore Brayden Scharfe.

Although team-oriented, individual workouts could be a gray area for some sports teams, this type of practice presented nothing new to most track runners. 

“In the summer, coach Nestor did a lot of offseason training. He’ll give us a workout at the beginning of the week, and we typically meet in small groups to do them, so we’ve done this kind of thing before,” said Nate. 

Team members met in neighborhoods, roads, and public parks to complete their workouts, but regardless of the team’s impressive consistency, quarantining complicates recruiting processes for track runners.

“This is the time for a lot of juniors to potentially get scouted, and we have remarkable runners that could get the offers. Sadly; it’s going to be harder for them as seniors,” said Brayden.

Athletes who anticipated being recruited during these suspended seasons will have to use alternate methods or future seasons to try and gain a college’s attention. “We were all working really hard for this year; we were ready to see improvement. Sadly, we didn’t get to show off our work, but at least we have still been able to work hard and push through,” said Brayden.

Recently, VHSL canceled all offseason workouts and summer practices for fall sports. 

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Rest in peace class of 2020 Wed, 10 Jun 2020 00:45:13 +0000 COVID-19 revoked 2020 prom, graduation, and senior night. The pandemic put states on lockdown and forced schools to continue learning online and forced schools to come up with new ways to celebrate the class of 2020.

“We are planning on having a big month-long celebration and ask our community to join us in thanking and celebrating our seniors for all of their hard work and everything they have done to make our school system the great school system it is, and everything they have done to have patience during this unprecedented moment in their history,” said Superintendent Aaron Spence.

With over five thousand seniors graduating this year, the schools want to celebrate each and every one of them. Superintendent Aaron Spence confirmed via email and video that schools are not canceling graduation, but instead they will have individual ceremonies for seniors and their families to give seniors a chance to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas in-person. These ceremonies will be held from June 17 to 20 with no more than 10 attendees per each student, and all social distancing protocols must be followed. 

“I wasn’t even sure I was going to prom, but the idea that it wasn’t my choice anymore made me sad,” said senior Emma Gorman. 

Some seniors are saddened by the fact that they will not get to have a prom; however other seniors decided to save the money that would have been spent on the prom. 

“I don’t mind not having a prom; I’m saving the money from prom now,” said senior Hanna Wetzel.  

Seniors all have their own opinions about how their senior chapter closed, but the administration continues to work hard on a plan that will satisfy the senior population. 

“I want especially to thank our graduates for their patience as they waited for us to develop a plan that we felt would adequately celebrate them,” said Spence. 

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VHSL cancels off-season workouts Tue, 09 Jun 2020 17:12:37 +0000 Virginia High School League canceled all out of season practices last month on May 16 in response to the threat of COVID-19.  VHSL had to address school divisions’s practices regarding sports during the summer months.

“My sincere hope is that we have a fall season,” said the principal of Ocean Lakes, Dr. LeBlanc. “I do not think anybody wants to keep kids from their seasons. However, there is a lot that needs to be considered to protect all those involved.”

VHSL is required to follow all protocols and orders put into place by Governor Northam. Currently, all previously scheduled practices are canceled until further notice. While the Governor’s stay at home order is becoming less strict, it only applies to businesses, while schools and their facilities must remain closed. 

“Wow. It’s disappointing for fall sports. I’m disappointed on my end for football, but there’s a lot of other issues with school and trying to get back on time,” said football coach Joe Jones.

VHSL Director of Communications Mike McCall said when Northam reopens schools, the league will draw up protocols for athletic activities. 

“I think the team(s) should keep a positive mindset and just look forward to the season,” said junior field hockey player Rachel Ruble.


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MSA seniors present projects online Tue, 09 Jun 2020 13:05:56 +0000 Four years of demanding math and science academy classes, rigorous research, and a 70-hour mandatory summer mentor-ship all came down to a mere 10-minute video aired virtually due to COVID-19, a virus that cancelled school just when presentations began.

Some academy seniors welcomed the adjustment.

“It was really convenient doing it on my computer, and it made me less nervous,” said Ally Grabarczyk, a senior academy student completing her project on the importance of nursing.

Without a live audience, some students felt more comfortable.

“The online way was stress-free knowing I could retake the video at any time,” said Jared Chung, academy senior completing his project on “The Universe Between Our Ears.”

Others found the freedom to re-record a hassle. 

“I’d keep redoing the presentation anytime I made a mistake, I probably recited my presentation six times before getting a take that I liked,” said Batool Ayaz. 

Academy students used personal laptops to film and submit their presentations.

“The platform we recorded it on was pretty straightforward, and Ms. Graves gave easy to follow instructions,” said Brenna Litton, MSA senior. 

There were, however, a few glitches. Software used for the presentations did not work on Chromebooks.

“I had trouble getting the apps set up on my computer,” said Ally. 

According to Allison Graves, the academy’s project adviser, they were thankful for the technology that gave seniors an opportunity to still present– with a target audience.  Academy sophomores and juniors were encouraged to watch the videos.

“What they don’t get from the virtual presentations, and the reason that I hope we won’t have to do this format in the future, is the experience of delivering a professional presentation to a large group and then answering questions following,” said Graves.

While seniors did not get the same satisfaction of presenting in person, most enjoyed the online layout.

Although Jared wanted to have a moment of realization like, “this is it,” and yes, “I completed the academy,” for a presentation well done, he admitted that “the relaxed environment was nice, and it’s cool to know that now these videos we made can be used as examples for future senior projects.” 

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Oppression continues to plague Black lives Mon, 08 Jun 2020 14:30:42 +0000 Despite a global pandemic, oppression still found a way to cross social distancing and reveal itself as a virus of ginormous proportions.

While many may believe that recent murders are shocking events, the deaths show evidence of a lingering disease to many. 

If America is coined as the “freest country” yet still chooses to ignore a virus that kills with unjust murders, then the logic and communication in this country is flawed. No matter how many videos that show the extent of police brutality spread across social media platforms, systems have not been held accountable.  How many generations will it take to see change? 

“I am thankful that the entire world is finally waking up to the realities and fears black people face on a daily basis, but it’s sad that yet another precious black life had to be lost for this to be realized. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, just to name a few, and now George Floyd. It’s infuriating and draining to see your people murdered for doing nothing while other races commit actual crimes and are gently taken into custody. America has a long way to go in the fight for justice, and until black lives are viewed, treated, and respected equally, “all lives matter” isn’t a true statement until black ones are included,” said senior Aliyah Webster.

While the media helps highlight the injustice, it can also be part of the problem. While the media may help to unlock the conversations that need to take place, it also builds stereotypes and generalizations, which creates rage and accusations rather than unifying dialogues.

“I feel like the media is spreading awareness and concern about the Black lives matter movement, but there are some people who fail to realize why we’re protesting,” said sophomore Andrea Penny.

A topic that floats in social media – but often left undiscussed – is “white privilege.” This term, originating in the 1980s, does not need to be offensive, and it does not mean white lives are not hard; to many people it just means that because of their white skin color, they are not seen as a threat to society. Sadly, many fail to recognize the reality of “white privilege,” but it often continues to benefit them and therefore increases the oppression of Black Americans. 

“Social media has enabled me and many others to use our platform to spread information about protests, how to be a better ally, what we can do to help support the movement, and how to use our privileges to help other POC. Without social media, I don’t think the Black lives matter movement would be what it is today,” said junior Mitchell Francis.

Instead of silencing black voices, Americans should try to understand by being more proactive in the movement to end racism. 

“Many people are unable to go out and protest, and spreading information through the media has a huge impact, seeing that the media is our generation’s main source of information,” said sophomore Miracle Harrison.

America will never be “great,” as many believe it is, if it only benefits some and fails to help others. Those who respond with “all lives matter” to “Black lives matter” communicate an unwillingness to listen. It can show a power struggle that needs to be dismantled if Americans want progress. Equal rights for blacks does not mean fewer rights for whites. 

“It’s important to post about these issues, so people can understand what’s going on and how to help,” said Miracle. 

Scouring media for events and initiatives may help, but education is key in order to unpack the narrative that has followed black lives for over 400 years.  It is important to risk the discomfort of conversation and open up dialogue to create understanding. Find the millions of conversations or dollars it may take to find a cure, just like America has done for COVID-19. Check out websites and resources that create larger perspectives.

“Please I can’t breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. They’re going to kill me,” said George Floyd, a black man aged 46 who was murdered by ex-police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020. He wept for his mother and begged to be allowed to stand while being unarmed and handcuffed on the ground, but he was not heard.

According to ABC News, this treatment led to his death. These actions by the officer caused asphyxia from neck and back compression and led to a lack of blood flow to the brain. Despite the begging, the officer steadily held his knee down on his neck performing a restraint technique, which is not a part of the department’s training. In fact, this officer had 12 complaints of police brutality already filed against him in the Minneapolis office but were listed as “closed,” “non-public,” or “no discipline.”

This kind of silence, or “covering up,” only adds to the problems at hand and creates an impression that one agrees and accepts injustice. People must start talking and not just on social media. On the job, speak up for inequities. Racism will not get better if people have one-sided narratives and talk only in private. Protests may be a start, but real communication begins when people start listening to each other. 

“I feel like the Black lives matter movement should be heard. The peaceful protesting is the way to go. I don’t agree with the riots and looting. It says more about your character than your words. I understand that Floyd was killed senselessly, but burning targets and looting doesn’t justify an innocent African American’s death,” said sophomore Kevin Johnson. 

On May 27, 2020, peaceful protests were held in Minneapolis, MN, and were met with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and heavily armed police presence. A few weeks prior, Coronavirus deniers and MAGA supporters brought AR-15s inside state capitols and were left alone. These men had confederate flags that represent an unpatriotic time in American history. This is not a freedom of speech situation as some want to influence others to believe; this is showing hatred to America and what it should stand for. 

This is not a white vs. black issue; this is a people vs. racism issue. People should demand justice for Americans, regardless of their skin color. Use a voice to educate people on their privilege and call out government leaders. Help a system that is flawed. It should not take videos and social media to understand the pain many face on a daily basis. Get out there personally and get involved in community initiatives that seek to educate. Hashtags are not enough.

Sign the petitions: 

Donate to: and

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