The Bell: Fall 2020
Photos: Jenna Daly ’21
Firstly, it is important to normalize uncertainty – give yourself grace, because it is normal to be reacting to abnormal things abnormally. What we are going through right now is definitely not normal for anybody, and our normal coping skills are not accessible to us right now. It is ok to feel overwhelmed, and it is important to recognize our reactions to what is going on around us.
Not being able to compete in sports feels like a curveball to students, but our physical health is directly tied to our mental health, so it is very important to still be exercising. Moving your body in some way, be that running, biking, walking or something else, is as effective as meditation. Finding a way to stay connected is also very important. If you have a concern and talk to someone else about it, you might feel better having aired it out, and they might feel better as well if they have similar feelings. Lastly, give yourself screen breaks and find creative ways of not being bored. Find time to do something that makes you feel good.
Our intention is to set up meetings with everyone to check in with our counselors, to get a pulse on everybody, which feels like a necessity right now with the pandemic. Our aim is to introduce ourselves and take the edge off of meeting the counselors if it is for the first time. Now with easy access to Teams, that is a pressure-free option. It is a real bonus to students to access the support at Suffield.
If it is a meeting in person, have a friend or advisor walk you down if you are anxious. There is something and somebody for everybody in the Counseling Center. Even if you just need a mental health moment, you can use the Counseling Center as a space away from others.
Our message is that we are here for everything, for all aspects of mental health. We want to de- stigmatize needing to talk to someone. Having a conversation helps both parties, because we all need each other. That is how we can make the world a better place.
4 out of 400: Perspectives from Four Students
Written by Megan Swanson ’21
The past six months have turned people’s lives upside down. This is true in the small town of Suffield, Connecticut, and in huge cities across the world. Suffield Academy’s diverse student body gives us the opportunity to learn about Covid-19’s global impact. Here are three perspectives from Elm, Katya, and James and Joe Muslu.
Men load sacks of rice to be distributed for those affected by COVID-19 in Abuja, Nigeria.
[Photo: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]
Suffield Academy students being tested for COVID-19. The school tests every two weeks
[Photo: Megan Swanson ’21]
- Thailand: Elm Piyasambatkul ’21 >>
- Belarus: Katya Yurkovskaya ’22 >>
- Turkey: James Muslu ’21 & Joe Muslu ’23 >>
- Nigeria: Sharon Chidinma Esielem ’23 >>
Belarus has treated the pandemic in an unusual way. The only people who legally had to quarantine where people who came home from a trip abroad or tested positively for COVID-19. However, many Belarusians took preventative actions that the government did not require. Many families self-quarantined, few children went to in-person classes, and about half the people in public places wore masks. Over the summer, the Coronavirus daily cases decreased, and people started returning to their normal lives. As of right now, hardly anybody in Belarus worries about COVID-19, partly because the number of daily cases is insignificant and partly because the August presidential election has led to a huge controversy in the country and pulled people’s attention away from the global pandemic.
In dealing with Covid-19, Turkey has taken many measures to ensure the safety of its general public, especially with the populations of individuals under 20 and over 65 years of age. From March 11 to June 15, Turkey put a curfew from 10AM to 8PM on these two populations in order to make sure that contact between individuals was kept to a minimum. If someone broke this curfew, there was, originally, a fine of 950 Turkish Lira ($124); this was later raised to 3200 Turkish Lira ($426) when people were not abiding by the rules. Another action that Turkey put in place for its population of people 65 and older was free flu and pneumonia vaccinations in order to minimize complications for the Covid-19 cases. To suppress the spread of Covid-19, one rule that everyone follows is wearing masks in public places. However, only about 40% of people said they completely follow social distancing policies. To bring information about the virus to the public, the Minister of Health makes announcements on television. On average, 112,000 people are tested every day; Only about 1500-1600 cases come out as positive. In a single day, 1200 of these cases recover from the virus while 45-55 people die.
The Presidential Election
Written by Jack Lynam ’21
While the United States prepares for its quadrennial presidential election on November 3rd, 2020, many citizens eagerly await the verdict as to who the 46th President of the United States will be. From February to August of 2020, a series of presidential primary elections and gatherings were held. The process of nomination consisted of an indirect election, where voters pitched ballots designating a slate of delegates to a political party’s nominating convention.
They then elected their parties’ nominees for president. For the Republican party, current US President, Donald J. Trump was able to secure the nomination adjacent to his current vice president, Mike Pence. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, former vice president, Joe Biden, received the nomination with Senator Bernie Sanders falling closely behind. On August 11th, 2020, Biden proclaimed that his running mate would be Senator Kamala Harris, making her the first African-American, the first Indian-American, as well as the third female vice-presidential nominee. The victor of the 2020 presidential election is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20th, 2021. Something that makes this election unique is that both Trump and Biden would be the oldest candidate to be elected president. Additionally, if affirmed as president, Biden would become the oldest person to serve as president at 78 years old (narrowly surpassing Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the US who was 77 at the end of his second term).
As of September 20th, 2020, a recent poll from FiveThirtyEight Interactives suggests that Biden has the upper hand and is favored to win the election. In a sample of 100 outcomes, the data shows that Biden will win 77 in 100, while Trump will win 23 in 100. Despite things currently looking very optimistic for Biden, a lot can happen from now until November 3rd. Politics and government plays a large role within the day to day lives of many Suffield students and faculty. While some feel stronger about this topic than others, and many hold entirely different beliefs, some current tigers wanted to express their thoughts and opinions on the highly anticipated election:
Personally, I do not support Trump, so Joe Biden all the way. Not only did Trump take the US out of the Paris climate agreement, he is enacting a bill that will destroy wildlife, which is not supportive towards our precious environment. Also, I just find Trump to be too risky of a leader. Whenever he’s not causing trouble with other foreign leaders, he’s off creating some other form of an enemy. Biden, however, is a much safer choice for the US. [Ryan Jacobson ’22]
Although I am private on political opinions, I will say that this election will be interesting with everything going on. Personally, I see Trump winning; not that I am saying I am for or against him, I just think it will happen. Leading up to the 2016 election, I know many people didn’t take him seriously. But look at what happened. He won. Now people’s respect for Trump has increased as they take him seriously as a politician. [Anonymous]
Despite being an international student and not living in the US, I feel strongly about Joe Biden. I am not particularly fond of Trump and his behavior towards internationals. I am also against many of the things he believes in such as pro-life, guns, international aid, education, and several others as well. [Anonymous]
I honestly think that the libertarian candidate, Jo Jorgensen, is a good mix of what’s on both sides, as she supports crucial things like the second amendment and a free market. All the while, she still cares about progressive issues like racial inequality, getting rid of our presence in the middle east, and ending the war on drugs by legalization and decriminalization. [Anonymous]
I would like Trump to win based off his record on the economy, his unemployment rates, his toughness on trade with other countries, his handling of the coronavirus, and most of all, his no nonesense mentality. I think this job is too much for Joe Biden to handle. He has struggled remembering and constantly cannot get his facts right. I do not like his policies; they are slowly leaning towards socialism, which I am against. I think that his weak persona will be toiled by many leftists who will change his policies to be more and more socialist based. But in al,l honesty, I do not think Trump will win because he has alienated too many people and is too combative for lots of people in this country. [Matthew Balise ’22]
As each day passes, the US gets one step closer towards election day. On November 3rd, while some may jump with joy and shriek excitedly after hearing that their candidate was chosen as President, others will scorn with dissatisfaction when hearing their candidate was not selected. Even if the outcome does not settle the way in which one desires, the best thing to do is to stand tall. Under the assured guidance of our new leader (or still the same one), we will need to hope for the absolute best. Since the establishment of the office in 1789, a total of 45 US presidents thus far have steered this country into good hands through their powerful presence and diligent nature. What is there to doubt this time around?
Black Lives Matter
| Written by Naila Gomez ’21 |
On Saturday, October 10, the town of Suffield gathered to celebrate Diversity through the voices of youth speakers and artists. This event was coordinated by ABAR Suffield which stands for Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Suffield. The straightforward name represents the important message that was intended to be delivered that day. From a 9-year-old activist to high school students, the youth of Suffield made their stance clear: Black Lives Matter. It was amazing to see the amount of love and community that was present in that space as participants gathered to listen, learn, and celebrate.
Photo: Naila Gomez ’21
Photo: Tobye Cook ’88, P’16
It warmed my heart to see my teachers and fellow peers rush to stand in solidarity and create a physical barrier to shield the presenter. This moment perfectly illustrated the use of white allyship in the Black Lives Matter Movement. It embodied the use of privilege and power to uplift and protect those who are muffled by oppression. Love prevailed as the event continued and brave speakers went up to the podium to talk about their experience growing up as a person of color in a predominantly white town like Suffield. Overall, this event was a major step for Suffield and the promotion of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The Reality of Today
| written by Sharon Chidinma Esielem ’23 |
Black Lives Matter. This statement has been the cause of chaos and contemplation for America this past summer. Coupled with the recent pandemic, the atmosphere of this country has turned hopeless. Suffield Academy, however, has made it their mission to replenish a calm in the 21,000 feet they inhabit.
This year, Suffield’s school theme is empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. To support this theme, Suffield’s community text was Between the World and Me, a published letter written by Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son about the harsh realities of being black in the United States. This book confronts the ugly truth about the presence of racism in America, but also shares the personal feelings of a black father to his black son. As readers, the book blurs the clarity we once thought we had as citizens and pushes us to emphasize with the plight of black people.
Beyond our theme of empathy, Suffield students and faculty have also pushed for more facilities for the black students on campus. Mrs. Warren, the Cultural Diversity Director, spoke of plans for a stronger and more organized setting for diversity groups. In fact, Chris Jones ’22, George Lucas ’22, and Mr. Nulan have created Young Brown Men (YBM), an affinity group that aims to create a supportive and safe space for the black and brown boys on campus. Plans for more course offerings about black history and mentorship programs are also in the works. However, clubs are not the only place Suffield is trying to be more conscious.
Mrs. Warren believes awareness starts in the classroom. She says it is “important that the adults are all on the same page and can go into a classroom and have challenging conversations, being well versed in the same vocabulary. “As a matter of fact, Sophia Kim of 2023 said she has observed more discussion about Black Lives Matter in her classes. “In my history and English classes, although it sometimes is tough and uncomfortable, I have seen more discussion about race and its reality in our lives. I think we’re taking that first step and starting to look at ourselves.”
These efforts all convey, as Head of School Mr. Cahn said at Convocation, that we, as an academy, “clearly proclaim Black Lives Matter,” and that this sentiment is a fundamental truth that we must live out every day in every aspect in the Suffield family.
| written by Jenna Daly ’21 |
As Suffield students gradually return to campus, many feel a sense of normalcy entering their lives again. While it is great to be going back, there are many parts of Suffield that are vastly different, including sports. Suffield athletics started this year as fun activities for the boarders to engage in while learning virtually. They transitioned into regular team practices when day students arrived at campus and live classes began.
Photos: Jenna Daly ’21
During the two-week quarantine, there were only small periods of time where boarders could leave their dorms. A large portion of this was allocated for boarders to stay healthy and get active. They were able to participate in activities like kickball, basketball, tennis, and frisbee golf, which Mr. Gamere, Co-Athletic Director, said “was fun until we lost all of the frisbees.” Students were also allowed to use part of the turf fields to practice their fall sports instead of participating in the day’s activity.
Various decisions have been made about the fall athletic season, but there are still a lot of unknowns that may affect sports as the season continues. All traditional fall sports teams will be practicing, including at least one sub-varsity team for most sports. There will also be opportunities to practice other sports like tennis, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, softball, and swimming. Tennis is a full-time fall sport this year, but the others are in addition to a regular fall sport. This means that multi-sport athletes do not have to miss out on either. Suffield is talking to a few other schools in hopes of some interscholastic competitions in October and November.
There are various precautions put into place in order for teams to practice and stay safe. There is no decision yet on spectators at sporting events, but Mr. Gamere said, “we have a lot of space on campus, so I could see that potentially happening.” Practice schedules and locker room rules have changed to keep athletes and coaches safe. Athletes will at least be wearing masks to and from practice.
Suffield has a long tradition of competitive sports teams that contribute to the school’s community. Some changes have been made, but Suffield athletics will remain the same at their core. Mr. Gamere explained that the staff “is excited to have everyone back” and they will be working hard to keep everyone on campus.
World of Sports
| written by Will Schmitz ’21 |
After a long wait, sports around the country and the world have returned in the last month or so. Here in the United States, the NBA and NHL are deep in their postseason play with high stakes games being played nightly.
In order to play as they did back in July, some changes were necessary. Both leagues elected to return to play in a “Bubble” format, with one or two locations hosting all games and teams to isolate them from any outside contact and prevent exposure to Covid-19. The NBA made its home at Disney, with teams being housed in the resort hotels and playing their games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The level of isolation event went as far as to prohibit the ordering of takeout food and receiving it from the driver. The NHL opted to take a two-location approach, choosing Edmonton and Toronto as the host cities. They played out their regular season and began postseason play in that format. Both leagues resumed their play in late July. Meanwhile, the NFL has just returned, jumping right into play without a preseason and recently completing its second week of regular season games. Unlike the aforementioned leagues, the NFL has opted not to employ a bubble format. Rather, they are letting the teams play in their home stadiums. Some teams have even allowed a limited number of fans into the stadiums for games. They test weekly, and all players must pass a test on Saturday morning before being eligible to play on Sunday. So far, they have had zero positive tests since the season began. In week two, the effect of no preseason and limited off-season practices seems to be taking a toll on the league; Many high-profile players are sustaining injuries that could potentially rule them out for weeks or even the season. The return of sports has been widely popular and appreciated, especially after months and months of nothing to watch or report.
Theater in a Pandemic
| Written by Katya Yurkovskaya ’22 |
This school year at Suffield Academy is going to look quite different from any year before the pandemic. Suffield’s Performing Arts has experienced a lot of changes, from switching the seasons for a musical and play, to live-streaming all performances instead of having a typical audience. Even though the year presents many challenges, Mr. Dugan, the Performing Arts Department Chair, believes that art events will still thrive.
Photos: Nora Slate ’21
Written by Emma Winiarski ’21
Visions of violet stroked across my mind,
brushed into the fibers of my canvas,
painting over the world I left behind.
My vast unknowing my only atlas.
Hazy stretch of lilac hues dipped below
a blinding sun. Consume my concentration
fully, in spite of my restless hollow.
My fear famished by imagination.
My first breath, a rebirth of indulgence.
Inflicting insecurities flushed,
warmly enveloped in your fragrance.
The world I left behind utterly crushed.
You carry on with silent stillness,
accepting me of my true nature.
Unearth a sentiment of worthiness.
Why can’t others model your behavior?
The world I left behind I must return,
and while my back faces your blinding sun
I will not forget what I’ve come to learn.
Your lessons I pass onto everyone.
Beyond myself, to those however grown
to be embraced regardless and forever,
so that each feels compelled to be one’s own
in worlds devoid of fields of lavender.
Sarah Kurbanov ’21
Mason Kumiega ’21
Head of Editorials
James Muslu ’21
Megan Swanson ’21
Head of Arts
Jenna Daly ’21
Elm Piyasombatkul ’21
Emma Winiarski ’21
Head of Arts
Katya Yurkovskaya ’22
Head of Sports
Will Schmitz ’21
Chidinma Esielem ’23
Joe Muslu ’23
Naila Gomez ’21
Nora Slate ’21
Jack Lynam ’21
Molly Gotwals P’09
Design & Layout
Tobye Cook ’88, P’16