Pride Festivals 2021

 

     Pride festivals around the country were postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. As COVID-19 vaccines become available, many people are looking forward to Pride in 2021. “It is something I always look forward to,” Taylor Williams, 23, said. “I really missed it last year.”

     Pride is an event that celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. The event takes place in most major U.S. cities. It helps promote LGBTQ rights and social acceptance. It is a time to celebrate differences and show support for all sexual orientations. 

San Francisco Pride Festival, 2018.

     “Many people in society do not accept me because I am gay,” Williams said. “Pride makes me feel like I can be myself. I feel valued for who I am as a person rather than judged for my sexual orientation.” 

     According to a Gallup poll, 5.6 percent of Americans identify as LGBTQ. This number has increased in recent years, but it still represents a small portion of the population. Pride festivals allow this group to come together and celebrate with others like them. 

     “One thing my partner and I miss the most is seeing other couples that look like us,” Amy Fallaw, 23, said. “We moved a year ago and we still haven’t really made friends. It’s going to be awesome to make those connections at Pride.”

     Few cities have announced an official schedule for Pride 2021. But that does not mean the celebration has been cancelled. It is unclear whether in-person events will be possible but many organizers are discussing other options. These include decorating businesses and houses, organizing a vehicle parade and hosting several virtual events. 

     “I hope it is safe to attend Pride in-person this year,” Williams said. “If not, I hope to go to some of the virtual events.” 

     Pride is an important celebration for the LGBTQ community and their allies. Whether in-person or online, many look forward to attending this year. 

What We Can Learn from the Movie ‘Spotlight’

     The film “Spotlight” tells the true story of the reporters who uncovered a shocking scandal in the Catholic Church. In 2001, allegations of sexual abuse against a Boston priest surfaced. The Boston Globe reporters investigated the case and found a much bigger story. Thousands of children had been abused by priests all over the world and the Catholic Church had been covering it up. The Boston Globe Spotlight team played an important role in getting justice for these victims. 

Scene from the film.

     Many people know about this story because it was an important and heartbreaking event in history. But the film shares some information many people would not know. When serious crimes come to light, most people think of the victims, police investigators and lawyers involved. Many people would not be aware of the role journalists play. This film shows how important journalism is in the fight for justice. 

     “Spotlight” does not depict a rare example of reporters changing the world. It represents how journalism operates in society. This film will not only teach people about a tragedy uncovered by the Boston Globe. It will teach people about the endless pursuit of the truth. The job of a journalist is to tell the truth and hold people accountable for their actions at all costs. In this way, journalism is necessary to uphold democracy, justice and the greater good. 

     Robby, Mike, Sacha and Matt were all Spotlight reporters who gave up a lot to pursue this truth. Many of the reporters worked tirelessly at all hours. They received backlash from the Catholic Church and its supporters. Some even struggled to face the facts based on their own religious views. The information was shocking and the job was very demanding. They did not give up.

     Still, there was a lot for the reporters to gain. They knew that publishing this story could help thousands of people get justice. It would expose abuses of power and prevent them from happening again. Publishing the story, no matter how difficult or painful, was the right thing to do. It changed the lives of many.

     “Spotlight” is an excellent film that can teach people about the role of journalism and the importance of the First Amendment. Without freedom of the press, this story never could have been written. Without this story, positive change could not have been made in the Catholic Church. 

     The award winning movie “Spotlight” tells the true story of four Boston Globe reporters who uncover a shocking truth about the Catholic Church. After hearing of an accusation made against a local priest, the Boston Globe reporters begin investigating what they think is a single case of sexual abuse. What they find is much worse. “Spotlight” is a film that shows just how far journalists will go to uncover the truth. With one story, they can change the world.

‘All the President’s Men’ and the Importance of Journalism

     The 1970s film “All the President’s Men” tells the true story of an international scandal and the reporters who uncovered it. The Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward investigated a burglary at the Democratic National Committee. What they found was shocking. President Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President had been at the root of the operation. The Committee even bugged the office phones and stole important documents. The journalists faced many challenges, but they still chose to pursue the story and uncover the truth for the American public.

All the President’s Men.

     The executive editor of the newspaper, Ben Bradlee, also played an important role. He supported his reporters and believed in the story when nobody else did. In one famous quote from the movie he said, “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy.” By writing the story, the journalists exposed misinformation and injustice at the hands of those in power. They showed that journalists can and will hold people accountable for their actions. They also proved why protecting the press is important. 

     If the Post had not published this story, there’s no telling what would’ve happened. The people in power would have continued to abuse it until someone held them accountable. Misinformation would have continued to spread. The U.S. government would have failed to uphold the country’s values.

     There are many lessons to be learned from this important moment in history. As journalists, we should make it our goal to expose injustice, give a voice to the voiceless and fight for what is right. We should not back down when we are silenced. We should pursue important stories, even when people doubt us. 

     Another important lesson for journalists is about accuracy. As journalists, it is our job to expose the truth. In order to keep people informed and uphold our reputation, we must seek out reliable sources and always fact check. In the movie, Bernstein and Woodward confirmed their information with multiple sources. This was a high profile case and if any misinformation had been shared by the press, it would present an enormous risk. 

     As consumers of news, we can also learn a lesson from what the Washington Post did. Not everyone in a position of power can be trusted. Not everything we are told is true. We must open our eyes to new possibilities and open our minds to new information. 

Reflections on Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographs

     “A Glimpse of Life: The Pulitzer Photographs” is a short film that features some of the most powerful images photojournalists have taken across many decades. Each photograph is emotional and captures an important moment in history. As photographer Eddie Adams said, “If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, it’s a good picture.” This is something that all of the Pulitzer Prize photos have in common.

 

Babe Ruth Farewell, 1949

This photograph, by Nathaniel Fein, pictures famous baseball player Babe Ruth standing before a full stadium. The photograph captured Ruth from behind. It shows the player’s worn jersey with the famous number three printed on it. Ruth is slightly hunched over with sickness and age. The crowd as well as his teammates are giving him a standing ovation on his day of retirement. This is an example of excellent photojournalism because it captures an important moment in history from a unique angle. In this photograph Babe Ruth is not as young and healthy as he once was. But the image shows that he will be remembered and loved by many for years to come. 

 

Seattle Firefighters, 1975

This photograph, by Jerry Gay, pictures four exhausted firefighters sitting on the ground amid rubble and smoke. All of the men are looking in different directions, clearly deep in thought. They are holding their helmets in their hands. Gay said, “Because they had their helmets off, the picture looked like soldiers.” This aspect of the photograph illustrates the life-threatening and heroic nature of fighting fires. This is an example of excellent photojournalism because it tells a story, hinting at the events the firefighters had witnessed just before the photo was taken. It evokes both fear and pride from the audience, among other emotions.

 

Colombia Mudslide, 1986

In this photo series, photographer Carol Guzy captured a deadly mudslide and the people affected by it. One photograph, is of a woman trapped in mud and water. Only her face shows above the surface. Two people are crouched beside her, trying to pull her out. This is an excellent example of photojournalism because it captures a devastating historical moment and evokes so much emotion from the audience. The photographer, having witnessed the tragedy, said, “Just to be able to deal with this, I would seek out those moments of humanity and courage.” This photograph is a fine example of that. The woman pictured had been trapped for three days. The Pulitzer Prize winning photo is a tribute to her unbelievable resilience.

Woman trapped in the Columbian Mudslide.

 

Rwandan Refugees, 1998

In this photo series, Martha Rial captured Rwandan refugees, focusing primarily on the faces of children. In one image, the photographer captured a small, malnourished boy eating out of a bowl. He is sitting on the ground, surrounded by other refugees. Despite his circumstances, he has a smile on his face. Rial said, “I really felt like I was viewing life in its most fragile form.” This image perfectly captures that fragility. But it also captures the resilience within the child. It evokes emotions of both sadness and happiness. This is why it won the Pulitzer prize and why it is an excellent example of photojournalism.

 

Kosovo, 2000

This Pulitzer Prize winning photo, by Carol Guzy, pictures a baby being lifted over a barbed wire fence. There is a woman on the other side of the fence reaching for the child as well as other witnesses with concerned expressions nearby. The sky is blue and the background is mountainous. This photo is an example of excellent photojournalism because it illustrates a moment in history that will always be relevant. In the photo, refugees are seeking safety for themselves and their children. The photograph shows the danger and sacrifice that people will suffer to save their loved ones. 

     The photos featured in “A Glimpse of Life: The Pulitzer Prize Photos” each tell a unique story. They all evoke a number of emotions from the audience, and likely even more emotions from the photographer. Many of these photos are of traumatic, emotional and otherwise important historical events. The photographers often sacrificed their own comfort, health and happiness to capture these moments. This is, in part, what makes each photo so powerful and what makes photojournalism such an important job. 

Learning in a Pandemic: What Has Changed?

     A year into the pandemic, schools are still struggling to safely meet student needs. Like many school systems, Waterville continues to follow a hybrid learning model. The schedule has pros and cons according to students. Many are looking forward to a full return next fall. 

     In hybrid learning, students attend in person classes only part time. They are expected to attend virtually when they are not at school. This schedule began in the fall of 2020 in order to reduce student contact. As a result, there have been fewer cases of COVID-19 in schools. 

     A typical remote day for students at Waterville might include longer lunch breaks and more time in between classes. Many students also say they can attend class from the comfort of their couch. Prior to the pandemic, most students spent upwards of six hours in class with minimal breaks.

     Colette Carillo, a junior at Waterville Senior High School, said she enjoys her current schedule. “Since my school has a hybrid schedule, I almost get a built-åin break every other day,” she said. Other students have agreed that they have more time on their remote days. This is a huge change for students who are used to a full day of classes and after-school activities. 

Cade Rogers, age 14, attends Waterville Junior High School classes from the comforts of his couch.

     With these advantages come many disadvantages. Cade Rogers, an eighth grader at Waterville, said learning is harder from home. “The teachers don’t ask as many questions. They just talk the whole time because classes are shorter. I get less help with school work,” Rogers said. Classroom discussions are shorter as well. Because of this, students have fewer chances to learn from one another. 

     COVID-19 restrictions have made other classes nearly impossible. Gym and music are much different this year at Waterville. Social distancing and masks make it difficult to play sports or sing. Many students report that they miss this part of the day. They look forward to returning to these classes next year. 

     Another complaint from students is lack of motivation. Jacie Richard, a senior, has struggled with this. “I use small rewards to push me to work hard. Homecoming, prom and athletics have all been taken as a result of the pandemic. It makes it difficult to be the same driven student. There is no activity as a reward,” she said. 

     No official announcements have been made about next year. But many students at Waterville are hoping the schedule will return to normal. “There are definitely some aspects of the corona schedule that I will miss,” Carillo said. “But I’m excited to be able to spend time with people the way we used to.”

Why Have a Social Life When You Can Have a Cat?

     As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, many Americans are staying behind closed doors in an effort to protect themselves and their loved ones. Gone are the days when we could safely go to dinner or catch a movie with friends. Instead, many people are looking to their cats for comfort and company. 

Taylor Williams’ cat, August, makes her laugh when playing with a paper bag.

     “My cat is my best friend,” Taylor Williams, a recent cat owner, said. “I wanted a companion during quarantine, but now I know he’ll be my companion for life.” Like Williams, many Americans have replaced their friends with cats during the pandemic. As a result, cat owners have reported greater overall happiness, higher quality of life and zero desire to leave the house or socialize again. 

     Francesca Sadler, a cat owner of one year, said, “I like hanging out with my cat more than others because of the obvious unconditional love. She has the sweetest and most peaceful energy around.” Sadler also noted that her cat offers emotional support when she is having a bad day. Unlike human friends, cats comfort their owners without interrupting, giving unwanted advice or talking about themselves. 

Francesca Sadlers’ cat, Sneezers, provides emotional support during a stressful work day.

  While cats may be sweet, they also have a playful side that’s guaranteed to get a laugh. “My cat gets zoomies at 9 p.m. on the dot every day. She will just zoom around our apartment and hop on things,” Sadler said. Other cat owners have reported their cats hiding in small spaces, delivering strange gifts and drinking from the faucet. These actions are proof that cats have a better sense of humor than most humans.

     Cats are also easily entertained and are sure to entertain others. They are known to play with string, paper and even hair elastics. In choosing cats over a social life, many cat owners have reported saving time and money on concerts, sporting events and expensive nights out. “My cat is thrilled when I come home with a paper grocery bag,” Williams said. “It’s so cute!”

     While many recent cat owners are reaping these benefits for the first time during quarantine, others have chosen their cats over a social life for years. Joann Bourgoin said, “Cats are superior. They are just cuter than us humans and hey, I can accept that.” Bourgoin, a cat owner of 20 years, has yet to meet a human as cute and lovable as her cats. 

     Socializing during a pandemic is irresponsible. But staying in solitude can get lonely. Cats are the perfect solution to this problem and will continue to be the perfect friends once it’s safe to go out again. “I don’t need a social life,” Sadler said. “I’m a crazy cat woman now and I don’t care.”

AmeriCorps: The Experience of a Lifetime

     The cool winter air left a chill on Kale Knot’s face as he looked out across Fort Gibson Lake. In his hands he held a small mouse, wiggling before its predator, a barred owl named Pretty Girl. In Sequoyah State Park, Oklahoma, staff members and volunteers care for injured animals until they are ready to return to the wild. Knot, and others like him, have played an important role in this process.

Kale Knot, 23, feeds a horse at the animal sanctuary at Sequoyah State Park.

     While Knot spent many of his days in AmeriCorps feeding animals, others built homes, tutored children and helped hurricane survivors. The program offers many unique projects in communities all over the country. Corps members learn new skills, build meaningful relationships and make a difference in the lives of others. With travel and food included, AmeriCorps National Civilian Conservation Corps is available to everyone ages 18 to 24. 

     Each project offers a rewarding opportunity that is sure to leave participants with fond memories. “I loved connecting with nonprofit organizations and making long-term, genuine friendships,” Knot said. 

     These friendships are the result of living and working with teammates from diverse backgrounds. After a long day of hard work, AmeriCorps members return to campsites, cabins and crowded dorms. They cook meals together and spend their free time playing board games or exploring nature. Francesca Sadler, another AmeriCorps member, said, “You’re put on a team and you have to work and live with these people. It’s a unique circumstance and it helped me meet friends I will have for a lifetime.”

     The program also teaches participants more about themselves. “I discovered new interests and passions through experiences I had never even dreamt about before,” Knot said. Following his service year, Knot became more invested in hiking, bird-watching and volunteering. 

Pretty Girl, an injured barred owl, perches on a branch in Sequoyah State Park where she will stay until fully rehabilitated.

     An added benefit for Corps members is the education award. This attracts new members and prepares alums for the next step in life. The $6,000 reward can be used at most colleges, universities and trade schools. 

Above all else, AmeriCorps is a maker of memories and a source of endless stories. “The project in Sequoyah State Park holds a special place in my heart,” Knot said. “I am filled with elation when I think about this experience.” 

     Regardless of the place or the project, AmeriCorps is sure to change the lives of many.