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YPIE QuaranTimes: See You All Next School Year!

July 19, 2021

A Successful Year for the QuaranTimes by Khadija Dewan, YPIE Scholar 2028

In this Issue

YPIE QuaranTimes Staff


Salamatu Lawal, Editor-in-Chief and Pandemic News Editor

Alyssa Lee, Assistant Editor-in-Chief and Our Voices Heard Editor

Catarina Mendes, Politics Editor

Julia Azulay, Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor

Shemar Forbes, Layout Editor and Director of Communications

Yismel Castro, Layout Editor


Yismel Castro

Chelsea Deane

Khadija Dewan

Shemar Forbes

Salamatu Lawal

Alyssa Lee

Catarina Mendes

Raquel Negrón

Max Silverman

Danielle Yeboah


Max Silverman

Welcome to the YPIE QuaranTimes

For our final issue for the school year, we at the YPIE QuaranTimes decided that it would be best to commemorate the work of our staff as our treasured, senior members depart to begin the next chapter of their lives, while our promising, new members continue to uphold the legacy of the QuaranTimes, as well as reflect upon this past year and speculate what is yet to come.

QuaranTimes Highlights Reel

By Shemar Forbes, YPIE Scholar 2025; Chelsea Deane, YPIE Scholar 2025; and Raquel Negrón, YPIE Scholar 2026

The YPIE QuaranTimes Celebrates Our Seniors

By Max Silverman, Director of College Readiness

Passing the Torch On

By Alyssa Lee, YPIE Scholar 2026

As the YPIE QuaranTimes wraps up for this school year, let us bid farewell to our senior staff members and embrace our newest contributors; the group of students who are now in charge of the course the QuaranTimes will take up the torch in the near future.

As such, we have asked them about their future plans and aspirations for the QuaranTimes next school year.

We wanted to know, “In one sentence, what are you looking forward to seeing or doing in the QuaranTimes next year?”

Here is what they had to say:

“Next year I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to create more art pieces and write more poems based on going back to school for senior year!”

--Sean Vargas-Arcia, YPIE Scholar 2026

“After the summer is over, I look forward to regularly contributing to the QuaranTimes once again!”

--Khadija Dewan, YPIE Scholar 2028

“I’m looking forward to working as a regular contributor in the QuaranTimes by sharing ideas and writing articles about significant global issues.”

--Graciia Biju, YPIE Scholar 2028

“One thing I’m looking forward to is making more art that inspires people to be more creative.”

--Benjamin Rodriguez, YPIE Scholar 2028

“I’m looking forward to being in person for the QuaranTimes next year and helping to contribute to the best it can be!”

--Brandon Costa, YPIE Scholar 2028

“I’m looking forward to collaborating with other contributors and working with the editors to produce outstanding articles!”

--Amber Morales, YPIE Scholar 2028

“Next year, I look forward to writing creative and informative pieces for the QuaranTimes and meeting with the staff in person.”

--Annabelle Bradley, YPIE Scholar 2027

“Next year, I’m looking forward to getting to work with new people and the people I have been working with this year more closely. I cannot wait to expand my writing and creativity skills!”

--Raquel Negròn, YPIE Scholar 2026

“I’m most excited to see all my lovely friends I made this year continue to inspire me with their talent.”

--Natalie Flores, YPIE Scholar 2028

And with high hopes for the future of the QuaranTimes, we leave you with this final note: Have a wonderful summer and stay tuned for what the QuaranTimes has in store!

Juneteenth: What is It and How to Celebrate It?

By Salamatu Lawal, YPIE Scholar 2025

President Joe Biden recently signed a bill into law, decreeing Juneteenth America’s 12th federal holiday. Juneteenth is widely celebrated among African Americans, yet many are still unaware of its existence. Although this national holiday has come and gone, it is imperative for all individuals to know the origins of Juneteenth and the proper way to celebrate it in the upcoming years.

The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation took place in 1863; however, it was not implemented in areas under Confederate control, including the westernmost Confederate state of Texas. On June 19, 1865, the entire political landscape of the country changed after U.S. federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and to inform enslaved people of their freedom. This day came to be known as Juneteenth--the combination of “June” and “nineteenth”--and has been celebrated by African Americans ever since. Although this is how Juneteenth began, to commemorate this milestone,the holiday has now become so much more.

Today, Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of African Americans, as well as highlights their progress and achievements; it is a time for people of all races, nationalities, and religions to acknowledge a seminal period in our history that helped shape the nation and continues to have a long-lasting impact on American society.

Initially, Juneteenth was celebrated by praying and bringing families together, and in some celebrations, formerly enslaved individuals and their descendants would go on an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston. Today, many celebrations take place among families across the country in backyards, where food is a fundamental element; however, certain cities, like Atlanta and Washington, hold larger events, such as parades and festivals with residents, local businesses, and the larger community.

This year, in Galveston, celebrations included the dedication of a 5,000-square-foot mural titled “Absolute Equality.” Opal Lee, age 94, who was at President Biden’s side when he signed the bill, returned to Fort Worth, Texas, to lead a 2.5-mile walk, symbolizing the two and a half years it took for captives in Texas to find out they had been freed.

As the nation continues to celebrate this holiday, it is crucial for individuals to not only view this holiday as a day off, but also acknowledge the origins and purpose of this day. With that being said, Non-African Americans can take part in Juneteenth as well, by learning its full history, supporting Black-owned businesses, attending Juneteenth events, spreading awareness, and donating to support related organizations.

Although the country has come a long way from slavery, we must continue to do as much as possible to combat its ever-present effects since it takes much more than a federal holiday to give African Americans in this country the reprieve they need from the struggles and obstacles they have and continue to face.

Peace and Serenity by Shemar Forbes, YPIE Scholar 2025

School in the Fall: How will it Look?

By Catarina Mendes, YPIE Scholar 2025

As the 2020-2021 school year draws to a close, we can look back and say with certainty that it was a year unlike any other. Students, teachers, and administrators across the globe have all put tremendous effort into adapting to the COVID-19 Pandemic-related safety restrictions. But now as the pandemic seems to be subsiding and things are slowly returning to normal, one might wonder what the 2021-2022 school year will look like.

Students, staff, and parents alike are all eager to get kids back into the classroom, into the traditional learning environment that was standard before COVID. As many schools have now been successfully operating on a hybrid learning schedule for the majority of this past school year, people are hopeful that schools will be able to facilitate a return to full capacity in-person learning in the fall. In fact, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has already announced that schools in the state will be going back to operating at 100% capacity in the Fall, provided that COVID cases continue to decline.

Governor Cuomo stated that, while teachers did a phenomenal job adjusting both themselves and their students to the new routine, there is no denying that students who did not have access to stable internet were at a disadvantage during the pandemic that was not previously as apparent. Reopening schools for full in-person learning once more will help bridge the gap created between these students and their peers.

Governor Cuomo also announced that all CUNY and SUNY schools will be requiring in-person students to be fully vaccinated when they arrive on campus in the fall. Many other colleges and universities have made similar announcements. Some students have approached this requirement with apprehension, as they are uneasy about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

While it now appears that the country is moving in a positive direction that will allow for significant progress in returning to normal schooling, there are still some unanswered questions. For example, it is unclear whether New York State will continue to require children to wear masks in schools in the fall, but the state has announced that it will allow individual school districts to choose whether students have to wear masks while outside.

It was previously recommended that young students should continue to wear masks until the vaccine is approved for their age group, as they would still be vulnerable to the disease and also have the potential to spread it; however, many parents have expressed frustration over their children still being required to wear masks.

While school will still look different this coming fall, we can rest assured in these promising changes. The 2020-2021 school year will definitely never be forgotten, but the 2021-2022 school year brings hope and appears promising. As time moves forward, so will we in our return to normalcy.

Is it Worth it?

By Yismel Castro, YPIE Scholar 2025

The general definition of success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose,” yet society has adopted a much more detrimental meaning for the word.

In my experience, success appears to be neglecting one’s needs for the sake of how you are perceived by others.

Throughout my high school career, I have been taught that my only job is to be an accomplished student despite anything that might be going on in my personal life. We are constantly told that teachers understand certain circumstances, but realistically, that isn’t always the case.

There is this common conception that individuals should be praised for getting through mountain loads of work by staying up late at unreasonable hours without any regard to their physical and mental well-being or personal circumstances; by contrast, they are derided for not being able to do so.

This erroneous belief is becoming increasingly overwhelming for students who feel pressured to keep up with good grades even when they’re dealing with harsh situations. This approach sets an egregious precedent that encourages individuals to set their mental stability aside while also inducing severe emotional stress and heightened anxiety levels, which only causes their mental health to further deteriorate.

When people say things like, “I struggled with depression and constant anxiety, but I was still able to work overnight and open up my own restaurant,” there is one of two reactions. Most individuals would say, “Wow that is an amazing accomplishment,” but others, like me, would ask, “Was it worth it?” I only ask this question because that person was suffering during their process, and I cannot help but wonder if they are okay.

So, why is it so hard to take a break and take care of oneself? Our society values struggle and venerates individuals who do not take breaks when their mental health is declining. There is constant societal pressure to continue, and it almost seems as though our success means more if we struggled at an unreasonable level to get there.

People who take breaks are oftentimes deemed as lazy and incapable of achieving success. Knowing when to stop is a prodigious life skill because your accomplishment cannot be called a “success” if your mental health is at stake.

Individuals need to learn to stay away from this detrimental pattern and begin to take care of themselves in a more focused manner. The idea is to not only get work done, but to also work on yourself because if your mental health is unstable, you will never be ready to celebrate your achievements.

Insecurities by Danielle Yeboah, YPIE Scholar 2027

Success >

By Khadija Dewan, YPIE Scholar 2028

I work hard for my parents, for my family, my friends,

All my teachers, and myself, for I’m measured by success.

My value, my worth, and all that I’ve become,

Must be seen through my achievements or else I’ll be dumb.

I have to be the one who stays up the latest,

Working on her homework, for then I’ll be the greatest.

And I have to be the one who takes on the most stress,

For her classes, and of course, every single test.

I have to compete with every friend of mine,

To see who's overwhelmed, most of the time.

By their work, their exhaustion, and everything in between,

Just for a chance to say, “The most anxious is me!”

“I stayed up till two.”

“Well I stayed up till three.”



Maybe now they’ll see!

That I’m working so hard, running myself over,

Doing so much work, I get a hangover!

This “competition” is unhealthy, it is tearing us apart,

But to be inferior brings an aching to our hearts.

To be unsuccessful brings tears, our stomachs feel a drop,

If only this would change, if only it would stop.

Why am I measured by what I achieve,

And not by my kindness, or my good deeds?

Why am I successful if I go to Harvard,

But not if I am strong, with a will to move forward?

But nevertheless, I will keep going,

And I'll do it again.

And again.

And again.

I work hard for my parents, for my family, my friends,

All my teachers, and myself, for I’m measured by success.

My value, my worth, and all that I’ve become,

Must be seen through my achievements or else I’ll be dumb.

QuaranTimes Summer Jams

By the Entire QuaranTimes Staff

YPIE QuaranTimes Summer Jams: A playlist composed of all our summer kick-back-and-relax as well as get-up-and-move favorites. We hope you enjoy them as much as we all do!

Congratulations Seniors! by Khadija Dewan, YPIE Scholar 2028

Learn more about the YPIE QuaranTimes.

Interested in contributing? Email or Max Silverman, YPIE QuaranTimes Advisor and Director, College Readiness.

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