Out with the Old, In with the New: 2020-2021 Year in Review


Illustration by Alexa Druyanoff

Milla Ben-Ezra


Head Prefects Cleo Maloney ’21 and Jonathan Cosgrove ’21 kicked off the virtual school year with speeches during the traditional robing ceremony at a Zoom convocation Aug. 23. The first day of online classes soon followed, in which students experienced the new block schedule, all-school lunches and Community Flex Time in a virtual format.



As COVID-19 cases spiked, the school was forced to cancel several in-person standardized tests, including both ACT assessments scheduled to take place in September. Seniors participated in a drive-thru version of the annual Ring Ceremony on Sept. 13, safely allowing seniors to engage in the school tradition and initiate their final year of high school. Delaney Klace ’21 said she was grateful to have had the opportunity to enjoy the tradition.

“It was definitely a nice way to kind of remind us that we were seniors now because the transition [from junior year to senior year], starting on Zoom, didn’t feel tangible,” Klace said.



Emergency room nurse Joanna Gerhardt (Skylar ’23) said that when the world shut down during the pandemic, the lives of frontline workers were greatly affected. Gerhardt said the fall was a difficult time for her because of the spike in coronavirus cases, with nearly every COVID-19 test she conducted coming back positive.

“It was hard, and it was really tricky,” Gerhardt said. “But it felt great helping people and being there for people when their families couldn’t be because no matter what, a lot of people were totally alone.”



As students took Thanksgiving break off from school, the pandemic forced several families to adjust their holiday traditions in order to stay safe. Stephen Purdum ’22 said his family celebrated Thanksgiving with a family Zoom call, where he was able to reconnect with his grandparents without potentially exposing them to COVID-19.

“It was definitely a treat to get to see [my family] because I hadn’t seen them for over a year, even through quarantine,” Purdum said. “I felt really lucky that they were okay and safe because they were at a high risk of being vulnerable to the virus.”



As winter break drew nearer, the performing arts department held a virtual choir concert Dec. 13. Chamber Singers Vice President Billy Johnson ’22 said the format of the concert was new to him and posed many challenges. However, he said he is proud to have adapted to the circumstances.

“[The concert] came together pretty well,” Johnson said. “I’m pleased with it, though I wished it could’ve been in person. It’s definitely better than having done nothing at all.”



Thousands took to the streets of Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 in support of former President Donald Trump, storming the United States Capitol building in a violent insurrection and leaving five dead and several injured, according to The New York Times. Two weeks later, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated, marking the entrance of the first woman and the first woman of color into the Oval Office. Vice President of EMPOWER Club Shoshie Bernstein ’22 said the election of a female vice president is long overdue and brings her hope for the future.

“For young girls growing up, there’s now someone they can look up at and think, ‘Wow, that can be me one day,’” Bernstein said.



After a nearly year-long hiatus, the cross country team began its season Feb. 13, marking the first school sporting event since the initial shutdown of the athletic programs in March of 2020. Throughout February, several sports teams also returned to physical training and practices, including tennis and water polo.



With the end of the third quarter, March saw the official return to campus in grade-level cohorts where students could log onto Zoom courses alongside their peers. The first in-person standardized test of the year on campus took place March 13, with students from all over Los Angeles gathering safely to take the SAT. On March 19, Westflix presented their annual film festival, hosted by actress Beanie Feldstein ’11, and screened film submissions from high school students across California.



California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that beginning April 15, Californians ages 16 years and older were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, making vaccinations available to much of the student population. On April 20, the student body made history: Jade Stanford ’22 and Chronicle Assistant Features Editor Quincey Dern ’22 were elected Head Prefects, marking the first time in school history that two female students were selected for the positions.



The Asian Students in Action (ASiA) club led a celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month during the Community Flex Time on May 4, featuring a video presentation and discussion. As of May 11, 58.5% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).