Winners and losers of 2015

2015 brought the world conflicts, resolutions, scandals and inventions. With 2015 complete and the inaugural days of 2016 ticking by, Deputy Editors-in-Chief Zack Longboy and Tyler Skow select some notable winners and losers of the year at ASL. 

Winner: Early admission acceptance rate

ASL seniors, or at least a large percentage of those seniors who applied for early admission to a university, came out ahead in 2015. As a percentage, the 64% of seniors admitted early (ED) was the highest that ASL’s college counseling team can remember, at ASL or otherwise. From Ivies on down, acceptances for ASL seniors were elevated across the board. While a few theories have circulated as to why this is the case, including lower standardized test scores worldwide, the college counseling team would point to a majority of  “good-fit” school choices by the class of 2016.

Loser: Bruno’s and other Loudoun lunch spots

When the news broke that the Loudoun Road entrance would only be open during half hour intervals at the beginning and end of the school day, many students – who have religiously served Bruno’s and other locations like Blenheim Café for years – turned their minds to lunch. Adding another layer of inconvenience, Loudoun’s closing has no doubt hurt these eating establishments, especially Bruno’s, which was already dealing with a drop in quality of food. Bruno’s lovers will be happy to know however, that it is now available on the food delivery app Deliveroo (which emerged as Jinn’s main competitor in 2015).

Winner: Girls fall sports

It’s déjà vu all over again. A little over a year ago, the headline was the same: 2015, just like 2014, was a year of winning for girls sports. As has been the norm over the past few years, varsity girls soccer dominated and, following an unbeaten season, secured yet another gold medal at ISSTs. Two of the team’s seniors will also be playing soccer at the college level in 2016. Varsity girls volleyball also found success in 2015, one year removed from winning the Division II title, securing the top spot in the Division I ISSTs. Volleyball ISSTs took place at ASL this year, and students and faculty were out in force to support the girls. Drawing crowds which rivalled that of Friday night basketball for their triumphant gold medal campaign, girls volleyball were huge winners in 2015. As 2015 drew to a close, girls sports notched another victory as varsity girls basketball opened their season with a decisive first place finish at the American School of the Hague’s Holiday Basketball Tournament.

Loser: Cancellation of Taliban Day

Paris shocked the world; and changes to our community, both on the surface and intrinsically were unavoidable. But cancelling Taliban Day after the Paris attacks was a mistake. An educational tradition, Taliban Day allows students in the Middle Eastern, Afghani & Pakistani Literature class to experience the imposed gender norms in Taliban society. The day reminds us how fortunate we are to exercise such liberty, and prompts us to seek justice for those who may not. Cancelling Taliban Day denied all high school students an opportunity to learn, and it reinforced that the administration is uncomfortable with letting students discuss sensitive topics. As students, we lost a valuable opportunity – perhaps 2016 will offer a new chance.

Winner: New SAT

The new SAT looks as if it will be a major upgrade from the former. First, and most importantly: We can guess without penalty! The questions are also far more relatable to what students learn in the classroom, so it is not like studying for a completely different subject. In addition, College Board has released a substantial amount of study material free of charge, collaborating with Khan Academy to create a tutoring service for the new test. The playing field is now more level than ever, making the new SAT a surprising winner of 2015.

Loser: New Frontiers

The alleged “naturally-lit drawing space” championed as a major promotion point for the new art building fell drastically short of anticipation. As it turns out, brightness changes on a day-to-day basis, making the natural light apparently unusable for the artists who need a constant source of illumination. The basement of the new art building will have to suffice as a lackluster upgrade from the painters previous dominion. The noise pollution experienced by English and Social Studies classes has also made in-class essays a challenge throughout 2015. While we greatly look forward to the aquatic wonderland coming soon, the initial reaction begs the question: Was it really all worth it?

Winner: Advisories

A controversial choice to say the least. Much like Marmite™, the advisory system has a certain divisive quality: You either love it or you hate it. Yes, we lose a lot of precious conference time minutes, and, yes, activities can be awkward. But, when Advisories are energetic, they more than make up for all of their downsides. Legends of advisories going to Starbucks, constructing art projects and having meaningful conversations about events around the world seem to be giving students a much needed space to unwind and do things they enjoy. For now, advisories have been a winner of 2015; let’s just hope 2016 does not bring about mandatory ice breaker games.

Loser: Absence of snow days

One of the less severe consequences of humanity’s irresponsible behavior toward the climate is the loss of snow days. Frolicking through London’s typically brownish-black snow is a joyous activity, but with winter so unsettlingly warm it would appear only another construction disaster involving the foundation of our building might offer an unscheduled break.