2020 in 26 Letters

     2020. What a year. At the beginning of 2021, our staff has used 26 words that start with different letters to represent 2020. Let’s hear what our students said about these words that represent more than just their meanings.

A – Australian wildfires

     In early 2020, dozens of fires erupted in New South Wales, Australia, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate, and there was immense devastation to Australia’s unique ecosystems. The continent is home to 244 species that are not found anywhere else, and the region also has the highest rate of native mammals becoming extinct over the past 200 years.

   “I love hiking and traveling, and it has always been a dream of mine to visit Australia,” said Maggie Mafia ‘23, “The wildfires were brought to my attention when I saw the many posts about it on social media. I was particularly taken aback by the videos of the firefighters rescuing the Koalas. It is so important for us to take action to save endangered species before it is too late. We only have one Earth!”

Credit: NY Times.


     The Black Lives Matter movement transformed into an international phenomenon in 2020. As protesters took to the streets in cities across the US in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, so did demonstrators in other countries with one crucial message: Black lives matter. Nearly half a million people turned out in almost 550 places across the United States.

   “When the Black Lives Matter Movement got more media coverage last Spring, my body went numb for weeks, almost months. After thinking about what happened with Ahmad Aubery, George Floyd, and Brianna Taylor, I couldn’t help but think about all of the other stories that weren’t told and how these people were never given proper justice,” said Courtney Joseph ‘21. Courtney has always displayed a passion for social justice and has continued to use her voice to “represent [her] Black history, ancestors, and anger” towards the failures of the justice system. “I spark these conversations because if people hear it now, they might be able to make a change in themselves and make a difference in the world.”

Credit: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/collective-action-and-black-lives-matter.html

C – Covid-19

     The World Health Organization announced on January 9th that a deadly coronavirus had emerged in Wuhan, China. In a matter of months, the virus spread across the globe to more than 20 million people, resulting in at least 751,000 deaths.

   “I still remember that moment on March 13th when Hun tentatively closed for two weeks,” said Rocco Matthews ‘21, “Initially, I was excited for some time off. That excitement was short-lived.” Pre-Covid, Rocco went to his club to practice fencing almost every day. Practices stopped and eventually transitioned online, leaving him with a lot more free time. “I spent a lot of time watching some classic movies,” he said, “Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors, so I really enjoyed seeing some of his works that I didn’t have the chance to see before.”

D – Donald Trump’s Impeachment

     The forty-fifth president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, faced an impeachment trial in January on charges that he asked Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump and his supporters alleged Biden abused his power to pressure Ukraine to back away from a criminal investigation that could implicate his son, who worked for a Ukrainian energy company. These allegations were widely discredited as there is no evidence that Biden took any action to benefit his son intentionally, nor is there any evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden. Congressional Democrats said Donald Trump broke the law by seeking foreign help to try to smear Joe Biden. The Senate ultimately acquitted Donald Trump on February 5th. 

   “I was fascinated by the impeachment hearings. It was democracy at work,” said Brody Pasieka ‘22. As a Civics Scholar at Hun, Brody has participated in and helped create programming which encourages Hun students to be more politically active. “In the fall, I participated in the Mock Presidential Debate alongside my sister. Even though I was not yet old enough to vote in this past election, I felt obligated to make my peers more aware of the policies both parties represent without the interruptions and mudslinging that usually occurs on the debate stage.”

E – E-commerce 

     With the pandemic causing many retail stores’ closure, consumers worldwide were forced to shift to online shopping methods. US e-commerce sales grew 44% in the year 2020. The two largest e-commerce companies in the US, Amazon and Walmart, have seen skyrocketing sales.

   “I experienced the direct benefit of the efficiency and ease that comes with e-commerce sales,” said Luke Siletti ‘22. “As a sneaker reseller, the internet has opened up my business to a much larger market of customers, now national rather than strictly local.” The growth of e-commerce has allowed Luke to drastically increase his own sales: “Business is booming,” he said. 

F – Fauci 

     Dr. Anthony Fauci became a household name this Spring as our nation’s “Coronavirus Czar.” He’s done tireless work for decades in hopes of keeping Americans safe from various viral and infectious diseases. In the face of criticism and even death threats, Fauci has continued to present himself as the symbol for those healthcare workers’ efforts to provide Americans with the medical truth. “Dr. Fauci was displayed on my living room TV for months,” said Ethan Borowsky ‘22. “My family and I looked to him for answers in those times of complete uncertainty.” 

Credit: CNN

G – George Floyd 

     The unjustifiable death of George Floyd led to international peaceful protests against police brutality. His life was not lost in vain, as it led to the unification of much of the nation against racial injustice. “I was beyond proud of the Hun Community’s response to the display of racial injustice,” said Class President Devon Pasieka ‘21. “Our community forums led by the Cultural Competency and Diversity And Inclusion Committees were extremely valuable. They helped me evaluate my role as a white ally in the Black Lives Matter Movement.”    

Credit: BBC

H – Home Workouts

     The closing of gyms across the country forced Americans to turn towards home workouts in hopes of keeping themselves in shape. Some people experimented with unorthodox exercise methods, such as using water gallons and full backpacks as weights. “I got into the best shape of my life over quarantine,” said Christian Deussing ‘22. “I am lucky enough to have a home gym with extensive exercise equipment. With so much free time, I used exercise as a method of keeping my mind away from the stressors that came from being stuck inside.” 

I – Impeachment of Donald Trump:

     Abhiram Kakani ‘23 found himself confused over Trump’s impeachment: “ I remember being just utterly confused by the impeachment. There were a lot of investigations and different aspects to the trial that just got me lost.”

     Rowan John ‘23 finds the impeachment fascinating: “I remember when hearing the news of former President Trump’s impeachment, I was glued to the television news station. This political concept was new to me as I never experienced anything of the like in my lifetime.”

J – Joe Biden’s Election:

     Joe Biden won the 2020 election against Donald Trump. Initially, it was unclear who would win. Ultimately, it did not seem to be a peaceful transfer of power.

   Brianna Le ‘23 had a memorable experience with the election results: “…all of the sudden a car rode past and was honking. It also had a tiny American flag on one of its side mirrors. I immediately thought of the election and brought up the election topic with my friends, and we searched it up. Biden was in the majority, and much of Princeton was celebrating as we walked through the town.”

   Rowan thinks that the election stands out and that he will remember it throughout his life: “Whether it’s because that I am at an age of retaining more information as opposed to younger ages, or that pure arguments dispensed in the debate, this election will not be forgotten any time soon.”

Credit: Financial Times

K – Kobe Bryant’s Death:

     Kobe Bryant, a famous American basketball player, died on January 26th, 2020. He was killed along with his daughter in a helicopter crash.

   Andrew Zhang ‘23 remembers how the people around him felt about the event: “Kobe Bryant’s death was a big tragedy. When I first heard about the incident, I wasn’t too affected by it since I’m not too big of a basketball guy. However, I was definitely aware that other people were affected, especially Bryant’s fans.”

   Abhiram agrees that Bryant’s death was tragic: “Kobe Bryant’s death was a shocking tragedy and something that I feel bad about to this day… Even though I don’t follow basketball that much, I still felt really bad about what happened.”

Credit: LA Times

L – Lack of Social Interaction:

     The pandemic due to the COVID-19 outbreak has prohibited people from going outside and engaging with one another. Many people have been remaining bored and lonely in their houses, but people have also found ways to communicate even though it might not be in-person.

   To accommodate for the absence of social interaction, Brianna makes sure she is occupied with something: “I have been calling or face timing my friends way more often, but the lack of communication can be a bit hard. I don’t feel the need to talk to people as much as others, so keeping myself busy with hobbies such as art and playing games keeps me content.”

   Andrew has a pragmatic outlook on the situation and tries to stay connected with his friends: “Most of my friends interact online and through social media, so despite the separation, I still keep in touch with them. Obviously, sometimes I wish I could hang out and reconnect with friends in person, but it’s definitely not worth risking getting ill.”

M – Market Crash

     As Covid started to become very severe in early March, the stock market reached its lowest point since the 2008 housing market crash. Scott Richmond ‘23 had first-hand experience as his father is involved in this business. “My dad is in the financial business, and during the pandemic, he saw lots of families lose lots of money,” said Scott. This problem affected lots of Americans, making them lose houses and jobs. Thankfully, the market has recovered slightly.


N – NFL Season

     Through all the problems Covid caused, one was the lack of sports that happened. Leagues then made bubbles so they could continue. One league, though, was able not to have the season in a bubble: the NFL. Cameron Donovan ‘23 professed how he felt about the NFL season. “I love football, so it was good that the NFL was able to have the season even though there was a pandemic,” said Cameron. Covid is very hard, but because we were able to have this season, it was little joy in these challenging times.

O – Olympics canceled

     Due to the coronavirus, the 2020 Summer Olympics was canceled. For many people around the world, this was both a good thing and a bad thing. Since many athletes were unable to practice their sport for a while, it made it harder to be ready for the Olympics. But on the other side, as Esha Mogali ‘22 put it, “it was good that it was canceled, due to the amount of Covid cases,” said Esha.

P – Podcasts

     While in quarantine, many people turned to podcasts to improve themselves, learn something new, or just stay connected. Arianna Ding ‘22 decided to “listen to NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me podcast.”

Q – Quarantine

     As an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, many states had people go into quarantine. To pass the additional time that quarantine presented, many people learned new skills, did at-home renovations, and attempted to cut their own or someone else’s hair. Sofia Valencia ‘22 participated in these activities as well. She said: “I baked bread, cut my own hair, and renovated my room during my quarantine.” 

R – Rona

     Rona is a shortened slang term frequently used to refer to COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus.

S – Systemic Racism

     Systemic racism, a virulent force that has haunted the United States throughout its history, received a historic amount of attention following George Floyd’s killing. Throughout 2020, Americans were forced to consider racism from the perspective of individual bias towards members of racial minorities and as a force that has influenced numerous systems and institutions from policing to housing to healthcare.

T – Twitter Ban

     On January 9th 2020, former President Donald J. Trump was banned from his most frequently used social media platform, Twitter. Some have called Twitter out, arguing that the ban was unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment. Rohan Sheth 23’ commented on the event stating, “It was a good use of the company’s policies considering [Trump] used the platform to promote false information that led to violence.”

U – Unprecedented Times

     If there is one phrase we heard over and over again in 2020, it’s “unprecedented times.” Unprecedented times refer to the hectic year of 202. From Kobe Bryant’s death to Quarantine and the Coronavirus, we all experienced events that we had never faced before. David Shaw ‘23 commented optimistically on these unprecedented times” “The best part about these unprecedented times is that I get a lot more free time, and I can spend it watching TV shows that I’ve always wanted to watch.”

V – Vandalism

     2020 was the year of the 59th presidential election, one that was special and unprecedented. Due to the United States’ political environment, the campaign and opinions surrounding this election were polarized and radical. Due to COVID-19, the voting process was also designed to lower the rate of transmission, whether it be deploying mail ballots or using waiting-lines at voting stations.  

   “I think that the voting this year was unlike other years. The country is hoping to elect a president that can reunite the people and suppress riots and hatred. Although the ways to vote this year were somewhat inconvenient, I hoped that everybody exerted their rights as citizens and helped this country to elect a virtuous leader,” said Abhijay Tatineni ‘22.

W – Woman (Kamala Harris as VP)

     During the 59th presidential election, Kamala Harris was elected as the 49th vice president of the United States of America, alongside Joe Biden as the president. Significantly, she was the first female ever in history to be elected as that role. 

   “It’s great to see that we are getting a first female VP. I believe this embodies the spirit of greater equality within the nation. I was also pretty surprised to learn that there hasn’t been a female Vice President until now. Kamala Harris being the first female Vice President is a historical achievement, but I also think it will happen more frequently in future elections,” said Eric Wu ‘21.

Credit: whitehouse.gov

X – Xenophobia

     The “Chinese Virus.” Systemic Racism. “All lives matter.” Along with dividing political atmosphere and anxieties, both economical and mental, caused by the pandemic, the racist and xenophobic sentiments in the United States rose to a peak in 2020. 

   “I think the crowd is irrational, and will choose the easiest way to express anger. Blaming a distant enemy will not cause any immediate and obvious harm to the current situation. Thus, xenophobia becomes an “enemy dummy” where people pour their dissatisfaction in any aspect of life(pandemic, unemployment, poverty, sage dining). It’s hard to take action like strict lockdown to deal with COVID, so people blame other countries for forgetting the current difficulty, which won’t be helpful but allows people to express dissatisfaction,” said Howard Yang ‘21.

Y – YouTube

     During the long, often boring quarantine, people used YouTube to kill time, and many used it to learn new skills. Some people created their own videos, like Video-logs, and others conveyed their feelings to others through YouTube. As Elizabeth Ji ‘21 says, “YouTube provides digital entertainment and a great environment for learning. It allows learners to make their own YouTube videos, enhancing creativity and promoting discussion. YouTube is also one of the best ways to communicate to a wider audience.”

Z – Zoom

     Due to the pandemic and remote-schooling, the word “Zoom” has become probably one of the words mentioned most often in 2020.

   Being an app’s name, it has become a verb, like “let’s Zoom tonight,” and a noun, like “let’s use Zoom.” It’s a place where we see each other: “see you on Zoom!” A place we talk to each other: “nice talking to you over Zoom!” A place we hang out: “do you want to watch a movie on Zoom?” And a place we learn: “we talked about the French Revolution yesterday on Zoom.”

   Sometimes we don’t like it that much: “As an online video platform, zoom serves its function of delivering information from one user to many others and is good for lectures. However, although many interactive functions are built-in, they have flaws that prevent full student engagement in class. This made classes less engaging for virtual students and harder for them to participate,” said Angelina Shi ‘21.

   But most times, we appreciate its existence. Thank you, Zoom, and we hope to see you less frequently in 2021.

Credit: Youtube