Letter from the Editor: Autumn 2021

Hey Blue Demons!

Hoping that you each had a wonderful summer, I and the rest of the Kennett High School journalism team now welcome you back to a new school year!

Here at Kennett Journalism, we work hard to bring you coverage of school, local, and world events, and we’re so excited to bring you more this year! From school sports to national events to popular media reviews and everything in between, this is your spot.

This will be our second year—our first full one—since our digital relaunch, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. Given everything that the Fates threw at us last year, Demon Press and KTV rolled with the punches and did a great job; that said, this year is going to be even better! KTV will hopefully be able to bring back many of the segments we all missed, and Demon Press will have tons of new articles and content for you!

A moment of shameless self-promotion: Writers and photographers interested in joining the staff of Demon Press, please contact me! All are welcome, and we’d love to have you!

Best of luck this year,

Rhiannon Stewart



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Easing Mask Mandates

Local families can breathe an unmasked sigh of relief after the latest COVID-19 mandate. Pennsylvania and Delaware governors Tom Wolf and John Carney recently issued statements saying that, as long as you are fully vaccinated, you are not required to wear a mask. However, unvaccinated and half-vaccinated people are still required to wear masks in all settings. Furthermore, anyone from age 12 and up is eligible to get vaccinated! Longwood Gardens and most pharmacies are providing vaccines for anyone interested.

Because of this, fully vaccinated students can go back to enjoying the great activities of summer they missed last year. Now they can travel, invite friends over, and attend (or volunteer at) summer camps! This also means they will be able to enter next school year normally and enjoy all the activities that were canceled or modified this year. The vaccines are a long-awaited opportunity for everyone to be protected and get back to normal.

— Vienna Gurev

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Simmons, Embiid Forced out of All-Star Game after Contact Tracing

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, the annual NBA All-Star Game went on. Included on the teams were Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Just a few hours before the game was scheduled to start, the duo was informed that they would be required to sit out of the game and quarantine due to contact tracing protocols.

It turned out that the duo’s barber had tested positive for COVID-19. As such, they would have to sit out awaiting tests to confirm that they were both negative for the virus. Both had totally avoided contact with anyone else after their barber, and so no more quarantines were required.

It’s a huge relief that the contact was caught before Embiid and Simmons made it onto the court of the game itself. All of a sudden, the best 24 players in the NBA would have been ruled out for at least 1 game due to the contact with the two. It could have been a major disaster for the league. Instead, both players will miss at least one game, and potentially more.

Embiid is still on pace for an MVP-level season, averaging 30 points per game and 51% from the field. Simmons is also having a solid year, especially on the defensive end. He is a top candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, along with Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers was also present at the All-Star game, coaching Team Durant in a 170-150 loss to Team Lebron.

— Martin Heintzelman

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Will Covid Affect Spring Sports?

With many students going back to school using Kennett’s hybrid system, it might be hard to jump back into sports after being home for so long. That’s why I talked with Coach Gottstein, the varsity softball coach, about what the upcoming season might look like.

“I can definitely see the season happening,” Gottstein said, “especially with the vaccine coming out very soon to our coaching staff and teachers within the district.” She also pointed out that all players and coaches will be wearing masks during practices and games, and that luckily softball is a socially distanced sport.

You may also be wondering about how we will be able to celebrate wins with the team if we are social distancing. “Elbow bumps, air fives,” Gottstein said. “Our players are pretty silly, so I am sure they will come up with some goofy ways to celebrate big plays.”

Huddles are also a big part of being a team, but unfortunately, they will have to be distanced as well. “I have a loud voice, the girls on the team can always hear Coach from afar!” she added.

In regards to friends and family wanting to attend the games, the jury is still out on how many spectators are invited. “That is a decision for the district to make.” The stands and outfield area have plenty of room to sit, distance, and enjoy the game.

Since spring sports are mostly outdoors and the vaccine is still rolling out, things may start to look up for our spring sports teams.

— Sierra Tellman

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Pandemic Perspectives: How the Vaccine Works

A lot has changed about how we view the COVID-19 virus since last March, and with so much misinformation spreading everywhere, it can be difficult to stay up to date on the pandemic. To try to get a better understanding of the science behind COVID-19, I sat down with biodefense consultant Jenny Withoff.

Interviewee Biography: Jenny Withoff is a biodefense biosecurity consultant, where she works on infectious disease control. She previously worked as a veterinarian, after receiving her doctorate in Veterinary Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. Due to her background working with animals, it is no surprise that she also is an animal lover: she owns two German Shepherds, three cats, and several chickens. Additionally, she works as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where she teaches a course called ‘One Health: Animals, People and the Environment—Interactions and Implications for Global Health Security.’ Aside from her career as a scientist/veterinarian/professor, she enjoys traveling and solving puzzles. She also happens to be my aunt!

• Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do?

JW: So I work in biodefense, which means we are trying to prepare countries and governments and private entities for anything that can happen related to the field of biology. So it could be a natural disease outbreak or something intentional. Basically, we are just trying to prepare
everyone for potential infectious disease outbreaks.

• There’s been a lot of talk about the new variants that are spreading – what risk do they pose? How do they differ from the original variant?

JW: Some variants differ significantly from the original virus, and others differ by just one amino acid chain. If you look at the structure of the virus, it’s a really, really tiny component—just one amino acid change makes a variant. Bacteria viruses are good at changing—their goal is to keep themselves alive, so they change a lot. Some viruses change more than others, and Coronavirus isn’t one that changes the most. Influenza would actually be the one that changes more than any of the rest of them, but as far as being a risk going forward, so far it looks like the vaccines are very capable of handling the variants we’re seeing come out.

• Was the United States well prepared to combat this virus before it spread?

JW: I think we could have been way better prepared—the whole world could’ve been better prepared. So I don’t think it was just a U.S. problem. We’ve been talking about coronaviruses in particular for probably a good 20 years, and the problems it causes. Because we have seen them emerge in the past, with things like SARS-1, we knew that coronaviruses were going to be a problem. The issue is that it’s hard to convince people to spend money on things that really haven’t affected the global economy in the past. I think that overall we could’ve done a better job, but I think that everyone across the board could have, as well.

• Can you summarize how the vaccine works?

JW: The COVID-19 vaccine is different from normal ones we are used to. To make it a little bit easier to digest, we’ve just taken a little snippet of the way the virus is structured, and basically, we found that this is very effective in creating an immune response. With the older vaccines, it was a little bit of a longer process to develop, because we actually had to grow the viruses, and produce them in other ways, which is a very long and labor-intensive process. The fact that we can take just a little snippet of the genetic material, the mRNA in particular, is pretty amazing. The immune response that we’ve created with this particular process mirrors all of the older processes, it has just taken a shorter amount of time to do.

• I know that you recently just got the vaccine – what was that experience like for you? Did you feel any side effects?

JW: I am fully vaccinated—I had my second dose of the vaccine in January, which means my immune system is ready to face the virus! I would have to say that, compared to vaccines I’ve had in the past, the response really wasn’t any different. I had maybe a bit more arm soreness than with other vaccines, but beyond that, I really had no reaction. Some people have felt a little flu-like: they felt a little more tired and feverish after their second dose of the vaccine in particular, but it’s only lasted a day or two, and everyone has been feeling okay after taking normal anti-inflammatories to alleviate symptoms.

• What do you think is the most likely timeline for everything going back to “normal,” at least somewhat?

JW: I feel that by the end of the summer we should be in a really good position to have events and just a general sense of normalcy. We’ll likely be able to go to school, be around others—we should have enough people vaccinated and have herd immunity by that point, so we can feel a
little more comfortable with going in public. I don’t know if mask mandates will go away before or after that, but we should at least have enough people that are immune to the virus that it will be okay for us to go out again, and feel comfortable that we’re protected in doing so.

• How much do you think the vaccine will help stop the spread of the virus? Around how many people will need to get vaccinated for the United States to reach herd immunity?

JW: I think we’re probably looking at 80-85% of the population that needs to be vaccinated or have a previous infection. This statistic is high compared to other viruses because of how contagious this virus is. That’s a lot of people, but we do have a lot of people who have been previously infected. The vaccine rollout is going a little bit slower than we would have hoped—there are supply chain issues and the weather has not been helpful at all.

• Hypothetically, if enough people don’t get the vaccine, what would the effects of that be?

JW: It will definitely take longer for things to get better if that happens. I do think we’re definitely going to be dealing with coronaviruses for a while. I think we might be headed down the path where we need to vaccinate on a yearly basis, much like influenza—everyone gets the flu shot every year because it mutates so often. I think that, for at least the next couple of years, we’ll need to keep up booster shots for the coronavirus.

— Blake Ciresa

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Black History Month Profile: Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka is a three time grand slam singles champion and the reigning champion of the US Open. Osaka is also the first Asian woman to be ranked number one in the women’s tennis association. Well-known for her skills in tennis, Osaka uses her fame to bring awareness to police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.

After the Women’s Tennis Association and the ATP Tour paused matches in honor of her cause, Osaka used the time to attend a New York protest. The masks Osaka wore during matches later in the year all honored and brought awareness to victims of police brutality such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

As part of KTV’s Black History Month spotlight, here is a video profile of Osaka and the work she has done by Cade Verrico’s.

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Mahomes and Co. Get Shut Down in the Super Bowl

The year is 2001. A sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Michigan leads the New England Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory. Meanwhile, a young kid named Patrick Mahomes gets on the school bus. He is in first grade.

Jump to the present: this past weekend. Tom Brady, now playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at age 43, faced off against Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. The greatest to ever play the game faced the man widely regarded as the next generation of football greatness. Two quarterbacks with cannons for arms and at least one previous Super Bowl win under their belts.

Spoiler Alert: Brady and the Buccaneers won. It wasn’t even close. Mahomes was unable to throw even a single touchdown, nor was his team able to rush for one. Brady, meanwhile, threw three touchdown passes for 201 yards with no interceptions. Leonard Fortunette of the Bucs also rushed for one score. More than anything else, this victory can be attributed to the stifling Tampa Bay defense. Patrick Mahomes spent most of his time running away from the top defensive line in the league. This chasing was led by top linemen Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, Devin White, and their colleagues. Mahomes was sacked 3 times, took 8 hits, and was pressured a Super Bowl record 29 times.

Mahomes still has a promising future in this league. He’s only 25 years old, 18 years younger than Tom Brady. However, it seems like Brady has no intention to retire. His almost superhuman ability to stay healthy, accompanied by an extremely strict diet, means that he almost seems like he too is only 25. It’s a shame that former, longtime Philadelphia Eagles coach (and current Chiefs coach) Andy Reid couldn’t get another Super Bowl this year. But who knows what’s in store for the 2021 season?

Video recap by Carter Elliott

— Martin Heintzelman

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One of my favorite extracurricular activities is skiing. Not only is skiing thrilling, but it is good exercise and COVID-19-proof. Throughout the snow season, my dad, sister, and I drive up to the Pocono Mountains. Our favorite local resort is Blue Mountain. Tucked away in the little town of Palmerton, Pennsylvania, Blue Mountain is the perfect place for tubing, skiing, and snowboarding. From the training slopes to double black diamonds, they offer trails for every skill level.

Recently, we went up for a day trip. The conditions were beautiful. The weather held steady all day in the mid-twenties. Tiny flakes greeted our warm gloves and fell into the creases of our jackets. There was a subtle wind at the top of the mountain, which was expected, due to the approaching storm. When I was learning how to ski, my Grandma told me to watch good skiers speeding down the mountain. Did they slightly bend their knees? Yes. Was the alignment of their feet parallel? Or were they doing the pizza position? Absolutely not! French fries for the controlled speed. By French Fries, I mean the pair of skis are side by side. Normally more advanced skiers tend toward this orientation.

I like blue intermediate slopes the best. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried all the greens (easy) on the mountain, along with a few blacks (advanced). Sometimes ice covers the trails in large sheets. When you ski over them, they make a terrible screeching sound. Other times the ground is covered in little ice balls. But most of the time, you will find buttery soft snow or fresh corduroy.

At each lift, employees require mask-wearing, however, this is no big deal. The chair lift is always swarming with skiers and snowboarders. Because of the cold weather, everyone is already wearing facial masks to maintain warmth.

On the ride up, you can watch park rats mastering their tricks. These skiers spend the majority of their time in the terrain parks. You could even spot an owl and maybe a couple of epic crashes too. Overall, skiing is the best way to be outdoors and enjoy the company of family and friends in winter. Look into making a future ski trip and hit the slopes!

— Paige Smagala

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NFL Playoff Recap

Many football fans are gearing up for the fast approaching Super Bowl. In the conference championships, the Buccaneers managed to beat the Green Bay Packers with a score of 31 to 26. The Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills with a score of 38 to 24. The Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be aired on Sunday, February 7th.

Tom Brady sits in the spotlight on the Buccaneers. If the Buccaneers take this Super Bowl, it will give Tom Brady his 7th Super Bowl win of his career. An impressive record for the Super Bowl champion. Meanwhile, Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs hope to be the first team to repeat in many years.

Check out the video by Carter Elliott for more on the upcoming Super Bowl.

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New Sixers Jerseys

As the 2020-2021 NBA season commences, many teams have announced the release of their new city edition jerseys. The Philadelphia 76ers’ new jersey was inspired by the 2000’s era when Allen Iverson led the team to the finals. However, controversy was created during the release, since fans were expecting a retro-style jersey commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 2000-2001 season.

A city edition jersey reflects on a team’s past season and the city they come from. The jersey features Ben Simmons’ number, 25, and an outline of the houses on Philadelphia’s historic Boathouse Row. If you look carefully within the outline, you can spot the letters ‘TTP’—a reference to the sixers’ slogan, “Trust the Process”.

While past and current players have endorsed this year’s city edition jersey, fans hope a 25th anniversary jersey will come out for the 2025-2026 season.

Check out the video by Julian Schwartz for more info!

— Paulien Donnelly

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