2020: The Events That Defined This Year

2020 was a year that will shape the world for decades to come. Take a look back at the events that made it.

Kobe Bryant: A Final Goodbye

In a year defined by tragedy, Ali Alani kicked us off in January with a touching tribute to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. Putting to type a feeling that would be felt by millions this year he wrote that “[though] I never met you and you’ve never met me but the way you impacted so many people was legendary and unforgettable […] There will never be another Kobe Bryant in any sort of way.” Bryant’s loss was one of the first major losses the nation felt in 2020 but sadly not the last with household names such as Alex Trebek, Chadwick Boseman, Naya Rivera, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Regis Philbin, Representative John Lewis, Eddie Van Halen also passing leaving behind indelible memories in the minds of millions.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

What was supposed to be a heartwarming story between two lovers in 1920s NYC quickly became a tale of a musical production that just barely went on. Thoroughly Modern Millie went off without a hitch March 6th, just a week before COVID-19 would alter school events for good and was the last school sanctioned event before COVID ensued. Looking back, the show is a bittersweet memory of what school was once before and how different it looks from the school we know now.

COVID-19 at Sweet Home: Superintendent Day

On Friday, March 13th the year turned in a way few could have foreseen: it was the last fully in person school day in 2020. And, on that very Friday, The Panther Eye’s Chukwudi Ilozue, Jacob Lymberopoulos and Rayhaan Saaim conducted an interview with Superintendent Anthony Day about what the future might look like with a quote that stood the test of time: “This is a once-in-a-hundred year event. So, you can’t run it the same way you do every other year.” But as it started to look like “it’s the end of the world as we know it” we got a pandemic inspired playlist from Joey Bastian along with a sequel playlist: Songs for Hope.

COVID-19: Mind the Distance

Soon, however, it turned to us to engage in individual actions to protect our community. As Lexi Hermann wrote in March, “if we distance ourselves from the world and most people, besides those we live with, it will help to limit the exponential growth of this virus throughout the world.” And help it did as New York crushed the curve and achieved, for a while, the lowest coronavirus infection rate of any US state.

ЯNL

But, as it became clearer that school wouldn’t return to normal that school year, The Panther Eye launched ЯNL, a video successor to Roar, which covered everything from Mrs. Palouci and Maplemere’s musical efforts to encourage their students to the disparate impacts of the pandemic on education with Dr. Gorlewski and a follow up interview on the district’s response with Superintendent Day. On top of that, ЯNL helped connect the Board of Education candidates with the Sweet Home community with special episodes for each of the five.

Where They’re Going: The Class of 2020

And through it all, we said goodbye to the graduating class of 2020 in a year unlike any other and welcomed a new class to Sweet Home, even if only partially in person.

Why “Black Lives Matter” Matters

But, as the nation faced the consequences of a delayed response to the COVID-19 pandemic it also faced an even more delayed reckoning on racism and other social issues, driven by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Aubery. As Americans physically distanced from each other, they took steps on the long and arduous path toward creating a more unified nation across social lines.

Save Our Sports: The Student Effort to Get the Fall Season Back

The 2020-2021 school year started without a hitch, that is if you didn’t play a fall sport. Although the district reopening plan was being executed well, the Board of Education was skeptical of allowing fall sports as they didn’t want to risk students in-person education. Matt and Oliva both started our school year off covering the Board’s eventual decision to allow fall sports to play, and the student led group Save Our Sports who gained media attention for their dedication to gaining their season back. 

Student Government Elections

As the 2020 election got closer for many Americans, student government elections ramped up at the High School. Candidates from all grades ran for legislative and executive positions and the Eye had its first ever Presidential Debate between Delaney Graham and Zachary Simmons and hosted a town hall for Vice Presidential candidate Roman Haen. Hunter Tryloff wrapped up the student elections while Ryan Burke discussed the final debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump as tensions grew between the American people.

Shifting to Remote

As COVID cases began to rise, Erie County residents faced an orange zone shut down and schools had to shift remote learning. Maddie discussed Sweet Home’s shift to remote while Hunter detailed the district’s plan to test students when school returned to in-person learning. However the shift to remote didn’t come without complaint, with many students expressing concern about cameras and mics during remote classes and others expressing their dislike for the districts proposed plan to move from a 2-day to a 4-day remote learning schedule.

“Adjusted” Holiday Seasons

With the rise of COVID cases came new restrictions and challenges when seeing family members. Lexi Herrmann went in depth about the restrictions families faced, including not being able to gather around the table for Thanksgiving and exchanging gifts during the December holiday season. We finished the year off with COVID friendly things to do during the winter months, discussing the difference between holiday classics and their contemporary counterparts and covering holiday music produced by the High School music groups.

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