News, Top Stories

Field Day Glory – Bancroft, Peabody Take the Laurels

The final score was Exeter 1, Covid 0.

On a Field Day to remember — the normal-est activity yet in the anything-but-normal Exeter Summer of 2021 — the weather on Saturday July 17 cooperated for a perfect athletic competition between the dorms.

The big Upper School winners: Bancroft for girls and Webster for boys; in Access, McConnell for girls and Peabody for boys.

In the glaring sun, excited students gathered in front of the Academy Building in their customized t-shirts to compete to get the championship! For the occasion, students had put so much effort into making Exeter Summer t-shirts. One of the dorms did tie-dye and another dorm decorated t-shirts by putting the same animal on them. “I enjoyed making my own t-shirts!” Ana Garcia from Florida said.

Although the number of games was reduced due to Covid, students still had so much fun interacting with friends, not only from their dorms but also from others. Students cheered for their peers and the competition created special bonds.

There were three fun events: potato sack race, three-legged race, and the izzy-dizzy bat relay. Caroline Morales from Bancroft dorm participated in a three-legged race with her friend and she commented, “I failed but I had so much fun!” Smiles were everywhere and students’ colorful shirts made Field Day especially enjoyable.

For the Upper School girls, Bancroft dorm got its first place, followed by Cilley, Hoyt, and Dunbar. Additionally, for Access girls McConnell placed 1st and it is their first time winning! Second and third places went to Wheelwright and Soule, respectively.

For Upper School Boys, Webster placed first followed closely by Wentworth. 2nd. For Access Exeter boys, Peabody won, followed by Lamont, Kirtland, and Amen.

The presence of Wentworth dorm was felt throughout the entirety of the event. “We are here to win,” Wentworth dorm chanted repeatedly. “Let’s go Wentworth!” The boys from Webster did not back down, however.

All three events were filled with a competitive and enjoyable atmosphere. They all gave it their all. The announcement of the results for the Upper school boys were immediately followed by loud jeers. Wentworth dorm had been defeated by the boys from Webster, and some could not contain their disappointment; “I feel weak. I’m better than this,” Mert Kirbeyi from Turkey stated. “Wentworth is better than this.”

The competitiveness throughout the event was wonderful to see, but another thing that stood out was to see people from all sorts of backgrounds getting together in order to represent their respective dorms.

“As many times as we fail and hit the ground, we should realize that this day has connected all of us,” said Hector Tejada, a Wentworth student from the Dominican Republic. “All the people in our dorm have united so we could have the best experience we could possibly enjoy.” For Hector, Field Day was a moment in which he felt united with all the people at Exeter Summer.

Another Wentworth student, Jackson Deutch, stated “it’s been a really enjoyable experience because I’ve gotten to meet a lot of dorm mates that I haven’t really gotten the chance to talk to.”

Field Day gave Jackson and numerous other students the chance to interact with other people from their dorms. This event was a glimpse into the normalcy we were all accustomed to before this gripping pandemic; hopefully, there can be more of these activities in the remaining 3 weeks of Exeter Summer 2021.

Features, News

Cry for Me Venezuela

“People are dying and there are people traveling, coming to campus like this one,” says Phillips Exeter Summer student Alessia, from the capital of Venezuela, Caracas. (We’re using her middle name to spare her and her family any difficulties at home.) She says that there are many things to enjoy about her home country of Venezuela, but most especially the people. She says that they’re close as a community: nice, cozy, friendly, loud, and happy. She goes on to say that Venezuela has everything to offer, including beaches, mountains, and jungles. Overall, Alessia says that Venezuela is a beautiful country.

She has a twin brother who also came to Exeter this summer. She says that his friends are what inspired them to come in the first place. They came two years ago and would tell her and her brother about how they had ice cream every day. “They obviously had a good time because we came,” says Alessia. “Venezuelans always come in groups.” She further explained that it helps her feel at home, considering she didn’t bring anything from home with her. “I might ask my parents to bring down some candy or something.” Alessia said.

There is a difficult economic situation currently in Venezuela, and she is lucky to be able to travel in this situation, explains Alessia. “No food in our supermarkets,” she speaking about the shortages going back years. Almost all of the food was imported. Alessia says it is a privilege to be able to go to Phillips Exeter, let alone travel outside of Venezuela. She says she has traveled to the US before, and many people are unable to do so, that people die because they can’t. “There are people dying and there are people traveling, coming to camps like this one,” says Alessia.

Nicolás Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chávez, refuses to give up his three-year presidential position, despite popular claims that the election was illegitimate. Spearheading these claims was the President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guadió. Guadió has declared himself president, and more than 60 countries worldwide recognize him as the rightful president.

The Venezuelan constitution does not know how to answer the question of who’s the official president. According to the constitution, if the position of president is vacant then the leader of the National Assembly [Guadió] becomes interim president while elections occur. Venezuela’s military has sided with Maduro and has participated in blocking humanitarian aid.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has been fighting along with grassroots humanitarian organizations against President Maduro to distribute food in Venezuela. As of July 2021, the WFP has been able to distribute food to schoolchildren, amid the economic recession. The program intends to supply food to 185,000 schoolchildren by the end of 2021, 850,000 by 2022, and 1.5 million by 2023. Some 60% of households live in poverty in the country, and seven million require humanitarian assistance.

Venezuela has relied on its oil industry to keep the economy afloat. But according to many observers, the severely corrupt government is destroying the people’s faith in institutions. This leads to severe economic fluctuations, as well as room for dictators like Maduro to take power and keep it via fraudulent elections, or mismanagement and corruption in leading oil companies like state-run PDVSA. Furthermore, more than 200 regime officials are being held for offenses like human rights abuses, drug trafficking, and corruption.

“It’s your people, you know? It’s your country,” said Alessia. She and her friends arrived from a difficult political and economic situation in their home country. Her family worked hard to get her where she is, and she said she is having fun at the summer school and has no regrets about coming here.

News, Top Stories

Academy Eases Covid Rules, As All Cheer

Cue the trumpets: Ta-DUM! Covid restrictions at Exeter Summer have been lifted!
But what a difference!
Consider where we began.
On July 5th, as Phillips Exeter Academy’s Summer Session of 2021 began, the atmosphere was electric with excitement. Covid-19 had ravaged the United States and stalked its way to nations the world over. Students around the globe were made to follow varying degrees of restrictions, and the promise of an actual in-person Summer Session was enticing for students and employees.

Last year, Exeter Summer was restricted to fully online, unable to risk navigating an in-person summer during a pandemic peak. This year, during the first week of the Summer Session, Phillips Exeter Academy was asking all students, employees, and campus residents to keep their masks on when they were on campus unless they were exercising, drinking, eating, were alone or were in their dorm rooms. Also, students and employees had to eat food either outside or in their dorms.

Fortunately, the first week of Covid tests all came back negative, and Phillips Exeter Academy is now permitting students to go off campus, eat inside the dining hall, and take off their masks outside.

Rafaela Pires from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said “I’m so excited to eat food inside the dining hall.”
Mackenzie Tuttle from Las Vegas, Nevada, was also happy about this new protocol. “All the tables in the dining hall were taken today when I went to lunch,” she said.

On the other hand, everyone still must follow the regulations since we are still in the pandemic. Students must also keep a 6-foot distance from others as much as possible. Those who are not fully vaccinated must be tested twice a week, and if a student gets a positive result on their test, he or she must leave the campus within 48 hours.

Furthermore, the number of students on campus is limited this summer — about half the usual roster of nearly 800. Students can enter buildings only using their Lion Cards, and boarding students cannot access the dormitories of their friends and are only allowed into their own rooms.

Even though students can only go off-campus by foot, Rafaela is still happy about this since if Exeter allows students to use any vehicles, she thinks it will be hard to do contact tracing. Also, she argues that it might increase the chances of contracting coronavirus disease.

Avery Winder of Boston commented on the current restrictions. “I think they’re reasonable.” She elaborated, replying to whether the restrictions should be loosened even more as the session goes on. She thinks they should be, “maybe because there was a mandate in Massachusetts that students and teachers don’t need to wear masks if they’re vaccinated.”

Lizbeidy Franco was glad to go mask-less outside, observing that “I was out of breath.”
Kayla Johnson remarked that “I can only think positively about the restrictions,” although she added that she was concerned about the lack of mask-wearing she saw in downtown Exeter.

The new Covid-19 protocols have allowed the Exeter Summer community to breathe a sigh of relief, and students are waiting to see more new changes on campus as these policies are put into place. Student opinions seem to be siding with the easing of Covid restrictions on campus, and past assemblies have brought reminders of future updates to protocols. Still, it is impossible to ignore the impact of the pandemic.

We must be patient and Covid-19 is the issue that the world is facing, not only us. “We are done with the virus, but the virus is not done with us,” as Jeff Ward, Exeter Summer director, has repeated during assemblies.


Women Star at Exeter

Over the years, numerous successful and intelligent women have played a pivotal role in the history of this ancient and esteemed institution. Some have influenced gender equality and creative expression, displaying leadership and ingenuity.

Kendra Stearns O’Donnell is cherished as the 12th principal of the Phillips Exeter Academy, serving from 1987 to 1997. Being the first female principal of any all-boys school led to more diversity of students and faculty, the change progressing slowly but surely. Years before O’Donnell became principal, in 1970 Exeter admitted women for the first time, altering the campus forever. The transition was steady, numbers of female students rising each year, though O’Donnell felt as if the progression wasn’t complete, needing to place one more step into action. She soon also started to bring in female teachers. By 1987, female students started to obtain prestigious scholarships, and appear on rosters for different sports. Since then, the number of minorities and women in general have also doubled, showing impact from O’Donnell’s time.

Along with faculty and teachers, there have been many students who have influenced change around the campus. Carissa Chen, 2017 graduate, came a long way since attending Exeter. She had started off with playing piano, slowly shifting to the visual arts. At Exeter, her teachers encouraged her to start writing, and showcasing her feelings through words. Carissa started writing poetry for fun, though soon it became more. She started applying for programs, and competitions. Carissa earned a Scholastic Gold Medal Portfolio, giving her $10,000, which she put towards her education at Harvard University. Over the path of discovering what she loved to do, Carissa continues to show growth in the visual arts, paintings, poems, and drawings, portraying social activism.

These are two among many other amazing female faculty and students from Exeter. Both women displayed determination in what they believe in, and carried through with their visions and dreams, giving inspiration for generations to come.


Pandemic’s Plus = More Safety

This year at Exeter Summer, in contrast to the usual nearly 800, there have been far fewer students enrolled — under 400. “It has been more manageable”, said Paul Gravel, the director of Campus Safety, noting that the lower number has made his job easier. Also, he said, “This is a good group of students.” Although Covid has presented new challenges for Campus Safety, it has also been the reason that other issues have become less common.

A smaller population of students means a smaller amount of what passes for crime. “At this point in the session, usually there are half a dozen cases of theft,” Mr. Gravel said. But he said that it has been a ‘slow’ session so far, one with virtually no missing items and thefts, which have usually been common in past summer sessions.

Students wandering off campus has also been an issue over the past summers, but with the stricter regulations put in place about staying on campus, the number of cases have also been negligible this year.

A new system has been put in place this year at Exeter Summer. PEA Alert, a system powered by software company Everbridge, allows for communication with the students in times of absolute emergency. Bad weather, lockdown, etc — PEA Alert allows for speedy, effective communication through quick text messaging and email. When a PEA Alert goes out, students need to act promptly, doing what the alert tells them to do. This usually comes in the form of going inside one of the buildings within the campus, meaning that carrying around your student ID (which allows for you to access the buildings around campus) at all times is crucial to each individual’s safety. In the coming week or so, there will be a lockdown drill.

About 3 years ago, there was a case of a missing student at Phillips Exeter Academy. The investigation lasted a day, with the help of the Exeter police department, state police, and the FBI, before he was found, safe. Amazingly, when Mr. Gravel sent out an email looking for volunteers for a search party, in 15 minutes about 35 people signed up for it. “It showed how tight and collaborative the town of Exeter is,” Mr. Gravel stated.

The world is not a perfect place. However, faculty members like Mr. Gravel allow for us students to experience Phillips Exeter Academy at its fullest potential in a stressful time like this. Safety is something we all take for granted; something that needs more appreciation. The implementation of new protocols is allowing Exeter Summer to ease back into its regular routine, back to normalcy; but in order to do so effectively, students need to collaborate, make sure they are following rules, and communicate effectively. “Enjoy the time while you’re here,” Mr Gravel said .

Life, News

A Passion for Art

Art is a crucial part of the learning process and benefits students across the globe in more ways than one. It builds essential skills and enhances students’ creativity. Art is something that all students need and deserve, but many schools don’t have the money and size to expand Art programs, which hurts students tremendously.

Here at Phillips Exeter Academy, students immerse themselves in new experiences and learning opportunities. They learn things in a unique classroom environment that they wouldn’t learn anywhere else in the world. Not only do they learn new and exciting things with Exeter’s state-of-the-art education, but they also can explore their creativity and artistic capabilities through Exeter’s exceptional art programs. They have ceramics, painting, drawing, and an art center that includes various classrooms built for specific art styles, allowing students to choose and explore their imagination and express their creative minds. This art center also consists of an art gallery where students’ artwork is showcased in a pleasing and presentable way. Art here at Exeter has proven to be an essential part of the excellent and unique learning experience at one of the top boarding schools in the world.

In interviews, two art teachers, Robert Preston and Marissa Vitolo, expressed their love and joy of working and teaching students art here at Exeter Academy. Mr. Preston explained how “interacting and motivating students is why I love teaching art so much,” showing the genuine deep care, dedication, and passion he shares with students about art and understanding the importance of learning and exploring one’s creative mind. Mr. Preston teaches painting and architecture here at Exeter academy and loves to see his students succeed in art.

Ms. Vitolo, an Exeter summer teacher who teaches ceramics for the Access program and drawing for the Upper program, explained how “teaching a diverse group of students diverse and creative things is exciting.” Seeing how passionate and dedicated these art teachers are to their students and their drive to see their students succeed are impressive and a testament to how important art is, especially here at Exeter.

The students in these art classes expressed their love for art and how Exeter has benefited their creative growth and the ability to express their imagination.

Lionel Hearon, an upper school student in Mr. Preston’s painting class, stated that his love for art has only grown since being at Exeter. “Exeter allows for more freedom and expression in paintings and art in general,” he said, showing that here at Exeter, he and other students can express themselves in ways that they wouldn’t be able to, anywhere else.
“The art program here at Exeter has allowed my creativity to flourish,” said Camelia Vila, an Upper School student in Mr. Preston’s painting class. Camelia explained that she loves art because it allows her to recreate something the way she wants to and that Exeter has only made it easier for her to do that.

Not only does Exeter’s excellent art program allow students to grow as art students, but the modern and well-thought-out style of class lets students grow in all aspects. Kathy Zhang and Sophie Dapice, two Access students in Ms. Vitolo’s ceramics class, explained how expressing their imagination and creativity is why they love art so much. Kathy spoke about how “the small classes allow me to grow.”

Alongside Exeter’s Harkness model, the small classes throughout the school allow students to explore new things with the guiding help of the teacher. Sophie stated that what separates Exeter from other schools is her ability to explore new things, which she wouldn’t be able to do without the small size of the classes. Alongside the excellent art program, Exeter’s education system allows students the opportunity to grow exponentially, which they wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else.

Seeing the passion and dedication that both the students and teachers have towards art here at Exeter shows how important art is to students’ educational growth and how serious the academy takes it. Art is something that all students should have the opportunity to do, and thankfully for the students here, the chance to grow and find new passions through art is there.

Arts, Creative Writing, Poetry

Heat and Rain

i walked through the city
through the sweltering heat
and i saw the smoke from the prairie fires,
so far away
but then all the smoke
turned into rain
and i saw

damp air and moist grass
lightning, rain, and the boom of thunder
the slick sidewalk tries to make me slip
but my shoes grab on;
i’m standing tall

the devil tried to make a deal with me
to cast my soul into the rain
telling me that i would be free
from my eternal chains

i didn’t say a word and i waited
until he disappeared

the rain keeps pouring,
droplets sharp as ice
but nothing can put me down

Arts, Creative Writing, Poetry

Phillips Exeter Summer

The sunlight shines on the grass,
Dew outlining the field,
Indicating a new day,
Lit with students walking around campus,
Groups laughing, talking, eating together,
Passing the football after breakfast,
Visiting the library to engulf oneself in the world of fantasy,
Walking to the bookstore,
Brown brick buildings rise around me,
Each unique though beautiful,
Carrying a long history since made,
A sigh of content brushes my lips, looking at the scene,
Phillips Exeter Summer

Creative Writing, Life

On Being Human

What does it take to be human?

With everything that makes up a human, there is a subjective and an objective side. The objective part considers that all human beings are biologically classified as homo sapien primates of the animal kingdom with genes composed of 46 chromosomes in each cell.

But that’s not the total picture.

Humans have developed to a point where simply surviving as reproducing organisms would not be enough – living as a human is more complex than just being born human. Being human comes with the ability to think, and throughout history, this has led to the need to acquire an identity. That is the crucial human characteristic that allowed for the unique evolution of our species.

Identities can be physically or ideologically shared between humans. The key for sharing an identity with another human is communication, which allows human interaction of thought, and commonality, which allows a connection to be found. Owning an identity means having the emotional intelligence to know who you are as a person in society; this includes personality, preference and self expression.

The choices made along the path of life shape people’s identity, which includes your perceptions of you and others’ perceptions of you. Thinking and pondering about the past, present and future is something so entirely human, and is the basis for all of what was discussed in the previous paragraph. If any of the above distinguishing factors of humanity were simply abolished, or non-existent, then the concept of humanity ceases to be a thing.

Without the subjectivity that comes with how humans are, not even the objective definition of human existence could have been formed.


As U.S Leaves Afghanistan, What Next?

Since 9/11, America has dedicated its funding, resources, military personnel, and intelligence to fighting terror organizations – predominately al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and later ISIS – in the Middle East. For twenty years, the US and its NATO allies have engaged in a constant campaign of street fighting, training, targeting, and special operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and other neighboring nations. However, with new orders for a complete military withdrawal from the region, many wonder what the future holds for the American military powerhouse. And like the Statue of Liberty in New York showing her oxidized copper, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan has shown its rapid depletion as US soldiers leave their station to wither.

On Wednesday, April 14th, President Biden announced a complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan by September 11th of this year. When asked why he made this decision, Biden stated that “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives.” The elephant in the room in terms of exfiltrating US soldiers from the Middle East is Bagram Air Base: the US’s and its allies’ hub for basing military operations and resupplying troops to fight regional terrorist cells. Nearly 30 miles from the city of Kabul, Bagram provided US forces many options to conduct covert and open combat. This all came to an end as early July marked the US complete evacuation of the base. According to CNN, US Central Command moved “nearly 900 C-17 cargo loads out of Afghanistan and destroyed nearly 16,000 pieces of equipment” on top of the thousands of evacuated personnel. Though most of the troops have been pulled out of conflict, small detachments of military personnel remain in US embassies to protect high-value diplomatic officials.

The removal of the military from Afghanistan – especially the evacuation of troops from Bagram – has generated criticism, concern, and for many, hope. Though soldiers are returning home to their loved ones and people are starting to hope for no future massed military returns to the region, there must be cause for question if the US will ever return. Is this really the end of the War on Terror?

On top of considering future casualties, this question must also be considered economically. Since 9/11, the US has employed thousands of Americans in civilian service, military industry, and the armed service branches – bringing back its military industrial powerhouse seen during the Roosevelt and Reagan administrations. In 2020 alone, the US military budget alone was almost over $700 billion – $200 billion more than the 2015 budget. How will the US military industry operate while not actively fighting in the Middle East? This is a question where only time will provide the answer.

The next focus of attention should be toward the next possible foreign powers stationed in Afghanistan. On top of the Taliban’s strengthening of their forces and increasing their number of attacks in towns like Puli Alam on April 30th, Russia, Iran, and China have increased their presence and interest in establishing control over the region. Who will become the next military powerhouse of Afghanistan, when will that happen, and how much conflict will ensue? Though many hope that US pullout from Afghanistan would foster peace among native and foreign peoples, I fear deadlier battles will transpire in short time.