The Schreiber Times’ Top 20 Of 2020

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Noah Loewy, Emily Milgrim, Jacob Gottesman, Staff

2020 has been a year like no other.  From blazing wildfires, to a  disorderly election, to a global pandemic, it’s easy to focus on  2020s negative aspects.  However, it is important to remember and honor all of the local, national, and international heroes whose actions left a lasting impact on  the world.  Here are The Schreiber Times’ top 20 of 2020!

 

Kim Ng: As an Asian-American woman, Kim Ng has been a trailblazer in sports management for years.  She was hired as the Miami Marlins’ General Manager, becoming the first Asian-American GM in the history of Major League Baseball, and the first female GM of a male sports team in any major North American sport.  Ng aims to inspire girls and Asian-Americans around the world and show it is possible to achieve the impossible.  “There’s an adage, ‘You can’t be it if you can’t see it,’” said Ng in an interview with The New York Times. “I suggest to them, ‘Now you can see it.’”

 

Kobe Bryant: Kobe Bryant was a generational basketball talent who touched many people with his hard work and determination.  Bryant, the five-time champion and scoring leader for the Los Angeles Lakers, was known for his insane work ethic, or the “Mamba Mentality.”  In his book, he wrote, “If you really want to be great at something you have to truly care about it.  If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it.”  These words embody his work ethic, which inspire many to achieve their dreams.  Bryant passed away at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash this year, but his legacy will live forever.

 

Dr. Anthony Fauci: In the midst of polarizing politics and a worldwide epidemic, New York native and Cornell Medical School alumnus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, emerged as the leading voice on the coronavirus…  Despite serving as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the past 36 years and guiding Americans through the HIV epidemic, Dr. Fauci has never faced such a health crisis.  Dr. Fauci provided clear directives  to the American people, avoiding politics and focusing on science.  

 

Adam Silver: When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the National Basketball Association on March 12, the basketball community expected the season to be cut short and looked forward to the start of the 2020-2021 season in the fall.  However, after coordinating with Disney, the state of Florida, and the Center for Disease Control, Commissioner Adam Silver developed the “NBA Playoff Bubble,” closed off to the rest of the world and completely COVID-free.  Because of Silver’s dedication, beloved athletes returned to the court, with Lebron James and Anthony Davis eventually leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their seventeenth championship.

 

Stacey Abrams: In 2018, Stacey Abrams became the first black woman to be a major party’s gubernatorial candidate, running a historic campaign in Georgia.  Despite her loss, Abrams had built a grassroots organization that led to a dramatic surge in Democratic voter registration and turnout, almost turning Georgia blue.  For the last two years, Abrams harnessed that momentum, becoming a staunch activist for voting rights and registration.  She is considered responsible for record turnout and the first Democratic presidential win in Georgia since 1992.  Now she has turned her attention to the two runoff Senate elections that decides which party controls the chamber.  Regardless of political  beliefs, Abrams has single handedly ushered in a new era of competitiveness and activism for Georgia.

 

Local Poll Workers: Across the country, poll workers and election officials defended America’s democratic principles while protecting themselves from COVID.  As the virus and unsupported accusations of fraud ran rampant, these Americans stood up for our democracy.  Out of concern for their health, many seniors avoided working in polls; local high schoolers, many of whom couldn’t vote themselves, took their place.  These selfless students upheld an essential role in the functioning of our democracy, although they themselves couldn’t participate.  In this turbulent period, the people who preserved non-partisanship and integrity will be remembered as heroes. 

 

Chadwick Boseman:  Chadwick Boseman was an incredibly talented actor who inspired millions worldwide.  His groundbreaking performances included Jackie Robinson in the movie 42 and most notably, King T’Challa in Marvel’s 2018 hit movie, Black Panther.  Boseman brought a new meaning to what it means to be, “young, gifted, and black,” and at a speech at his alma mater, Howard University, Boseman told graduates, “the fact that you have struggled with this university which you love is a sign that you can use your education to improve the world that you are entering.”  Boseman tragically passed away on Aug. 28 of colon cancer, but his legacy will continue.

 

Jacinda Ardern: In the midst of an intense global epidemic, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Arden’s resilience helped her country avoid a catastrophic outbreak.  Her charismatic leadership earned her a 62% acceptance rate as she cruised to re-election in October with the Labour Party.  Although the country has five million people, it only had 1,723 recorded positive COVID cases.  Jacinda Ardern is a role model for New Zealanders and the world; she has proven to be a young and exciting leader for all to watch.

 

Diana Berrent: Ms. Berrent  was one of the first residents of Port Washington to contract COVID-19, and, instead of succumbing to the fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus, she became an activist for patients around the world by creating Survivor Corps.  Berrent founded Survivor Corps while in quarantine with the goal of creating a movement to rally toward fixing the spiking number of COVID-19 patients.  Survivor Corps encourages patients to share their stories and participate in medical and scientific research.  Three weeks later, she became the first patient, and universal donor, to donate blood and plasma in Columbia University’s clinical trial.  Since March, Berrent, along with the growing Survivor Corps, have been featured on hundreds of news networks including The New York Times, Rolling Stones, and ABC

 

Li Weinlang: As most know, the coronavirus outbreak originated in the Wuhan, Hubei province of China.   Most are unaware of  the doctors, scientists, and civilians that were among the first responders in China and their stories.  Li Weinlang was born in Beinzhen, China and, later in life, moved to Wuhan to become a successful ophthalmologist.  In Dec.2019, Wenliang became aware of the COVID-19 virus beginning in China and, on Dec. 30, sent a message to his fellow doctors warning them of a potential outbreak in illness.  He recognized very early on that the illness caused by this virus resembled severe acute respiratory syndrome, commonly known as SARS, and felt it necessary to warn this group to protect themselves from potential infection.  A mere days after his message was sent, Wenliang was summoned to the Public Security Bureau in Wuhan and was forced to attest to the public that his warnings and statements were false.  On Feb. 7, 2020, Li Wenliang passed away after becoming infected with COVID-19.  Wenliang’s passing caused an uproar in China from those that recognized his services as a first responder and felt gratitude towards his work to notify the public. Although Wenliang did not live long enough to see the immense ramifications of the COVID-19 outbreak, his passion and dedication to public health will never be forgotten.

 

Connect 2 Connect Teachers: Schreiber teachers Ms. Dietz, Ms. Foster-Holzer, Ms. Marks, Ms. Rizzo, and Ms. Stelfox recognized an immediate need for student mentorship and interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically in the summer as daycares and camps closed.  They founded SupPORT: Connect 2 Connect, a virtual mentorship program between Schreiber High School Seniors and Elementary Students.  In July, they selected seniors who they found to be a “strong leader both inside and outside the classroom” as senior mentors alongside them.  These five teachers dedicated their summer months to planning meetings with senior mentors, monitoring bi-weekly Google Meet sessions, and coordinating this new program.  This program helped many elementary students form unforgettable bonds with their older community members and gave them a sense of hope in a hard time. 

 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris:  One hundred years after the 19th Amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote, the United States has elected Kamala Harris to be the country’s first female vice president.  Harris will be the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, and the first African American and first Asian American Vice President.  Throughout her career, Harris has broken many barriers in her roles as a district attorney, attorney general, and senator.  Senator Harris recognized the historical nature of her election; during her first speech as vice president-elect, she said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”

 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:  This year, we lost one of the great legal minds of our time.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a long career both as a lawyer and as a Justice.  She was a leader in the fight for gender equality.  In both her personal and professional life, she held firm to the principle that equality benefits not just women, but society as a whole.  Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and became the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.  She spent 27 years on the court, many of them voting with what became the liberal minority when the court took a turn to the right, and she became recognized for her assertive and cogent dissents.   Later in life, she was known as the “Notorious R.B.G.” and admired by many for her feistiness and her ceaseless dedication to justice and equality.

 

Alex Trebek: Alex Trebek was the model of consistency.  He hosted Jeopardy!, the famous quiz game show, for 37  years.  Trebek, the man with all the answers,  provided a sense of family with his undeniable swagger and passion for the game to the thousands of viewers who tuned in each and every night beginning in 1984.  The likes of Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer have captivated audiences across the country during their record-setting winnings streaks, but the true star of the show and the pop culture icon was Trebek.  He was someone who was proud that his game was educational and inspiring for the youth of America.  He said, “My life is what it is, and I can’t change it. I can change the future, but I can’t do anything about the past.”  After a nearly two year fight with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Trebek sadly passed away on Nov. 8 at the age of 80.

 

Bubba Wallace: Following the murder of George Floyd and  the nation in the midst of protests, Bubba Wallace, the only full-time African American NASCAR driver on the national series, took a stand against the some of  practices allowed by the sport.  With a predominantly white southern fanbase, confederate flags, which represent the ideals the Black Lives Matter movement opposes, had long been a mainstay at the race tracks.  Within days of Wallace’s complaint, NASCAR followed through with a ban.  In response, Wallace said, “A lot of backlash for the sport, but it creates doors and allows the community to come together as one. And that’s what the real mission is here.  So I’m excited about that and just gonna keep going on tonight.”  Earning the spotlight and the applause of many, both black and white, Wallace’s contributions to the fight against racism and police brutality in America cannot be understated.

 

The Community Chest: The Community Chest of Port Washington, established in 1949, is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for local charities and supporting residents and the whole Port Washington Community.  Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chest created a response fund to aid community members in need.  They volunteered and provided non-contact shopping and delivery services for seniors.  In addition, they supported the Port Washington Mask Brigade, which made 2,000 masks for at-risk families.  The Chest partnered with two seniors who created the Port Pantry, which collected food donations from donors’ steps to local food pantries.  However, through this whole pandemic, the Community Chest continued awarding grants and support for 25 local non-profits, some continuous ones and some new organizations dedicated to COVID-19 support.

 

Greta Thunberg: Greta Thunberg, 17 year old Swedish environmentalist, is known for her work battling climate change and challenging world leaders to do the same.  In Jan. 2020, she joined the world’s economic leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.  In March, she criticized the EU’s plan for tackling climate change at a European Parliament’s Environment Committee meeting.  Unfortunately during COVID-19, large in-person protests were prohibited under Switzerland’s pandemic protocol.  Therefore, Thunberg and her colleagues held mass video calls, launched online events to increase voter turnout in the U.S. elections, and filed landmark climate litigation to reduce the European government’s emissions.  She also wrote an open letter to the E.U. leaders pushing for actions regarding fossil-fuel divestment and binding annual carbon budgets.  Thunberg began a global movement more than two years ago and is “going to continue to do everything I can to push in the right direction, no matter what the circumstances are,” she said in an interview with TIME Magazine.

 

California Firefighters: As of Dec. 1, more than two million acres of land burned in California’s wildfires.  High temperatures, strong winds, and lightning storms have only enraged these blazes.  Fighting these fires in California’s diverse terrain is already unimaginable, but COVID-19 has prevented inmate firefighters, who usually assist, from helping.  The state has used inmate firefighters since the 1940s but the governor put half of California’s prisoners in lockdown after they were potentially exposed to the virus in a training facility.  Only 12,000 firefighters are battling the worst wildfire in modern history.  On the front lines, these first responders face working and living conditions that allow possible  contact with the COVID-19 virus.  Thousands of firemen and women live in base camps on small plots of land so they can constantly battle these environmental monstrosities.  Many people, both first responders and civilians, have been overtaken by these flames and lost their lives trying to save others.  Their dedication and bravery will never be forgotten.

 

Sandra Lindsay: On Dec. 14, some progress towards normalcy was made when the first vaccines were administered in America.  Sandra Lindsay, a Port Washington nurse who has been a frontline worker at LIJ Medical Center, became the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  Some remain skeptical about the vaccine, but Lindsay said on the broadcast of her vaccination, “it didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine.”  Sandra Lindsay’s vaccination may be the positivity we’ve all been seeking during the pandemic.  

John King and Steve Kornacki: On Nov. 3, John King and Steve Kornacki took their places on CNN and MSNBC, respectively, for election night coverage.  No news network was able to project a winner until Saturday, so King and Kornacki graced our screens for nearly five days.  In one of the most challenging and contested elections in United States history, the two brought joy to our lives through their analysis of the projected map.  At one point, Kornacki, who became so popular that he began doing NFL projections with NBC, didn’t leave the set for more than 40 hours.  This led to the “Kornacki Cam” which showed the khaki-wearing analyst’s whereabouts even during commercials.  Kornacki, who is known for his Gap khakis, was awarded a life-supply by Gap, but decided to donate his supply of khakis to people who need them.  John King and Steve Kornacki made one of the most stressful weeks of the year somewhat bearable.