WJ: A year in review

WJ alum Tim Kurkjian was enshrined in the Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame in December.

With Covid-19 cases skyrocketing fresh into the new year, MCPS announced the short-lived five percent threshold to try to limit the spread. This threshold meant that if over five percent of staff and students in a school tested positive for Covid-19 in the same period of time, the county would decide if the school should shut down in-person learning for two weeks. WJ did cross the threshold and many classes were moved to the cafeteria or the library due to the staffing shortage. The country ultimately decided to keep the school open until the Omicron wave, the culprit of the massive spike in cases at the time, had passed.

In Feb, Pennies for Patients held a variety of events to raise money for charity. Events included a MarioKart and Smash Brothers Tournament, Cup Pong battle, Family Feud and the Burrito Mile. The combined efforts raised over $10,000 for leukemia patients.

On Mar. 8, the MCPS Board of Education unanimously voted to lift the countywide mask mandate in schools after it had been in place since hybrid learning began in spring 2021. This lift encompassed buses, athletics, extracurriculars and all school buildings.

For their spring musical, S*T*A*G*E debuted “Shrek the Musical,” inspired by the 2001 hit movie “Shrek,” which follows the adventure of the titular big lime-green ogre. The play ran three hours long and was put on by cast and crew for four nights throughout the span of two weeks. Similar to the film, the play was also a massive success.

Every year, the graduating class puts on a “senior prank” in order to go out with a bang. Class of ‘22 had a mostly harmless prank, spray painting “2022” on the roof of the school. However, a few days later a smaller group of seniors wreaked havoc on the school in the middle of the night—littering it with chili, cat litter and what seemed to many to be bodily fluids. As a punishment, approximately 100 seniors were assigned community service and one was barred from walking across the stage at graduation.

Class of ‘22 stood strong when they graduated at the beginning of June. It was an emotional moment for everyone, especially considering they got to walk across the stage at the same school they entered as freshmen, and even more heartwarming that they were the first fully in-person graduating class since the pandemic began.

In July, Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Arvin Kim was officially inducted. He took the spot of previous SMOB Hana O’Looney. During his term he has focused on mental health, the opportunity gap and Community Engagement Officers.

The beginning of the new school year brought change to WJ. Security implemented new safety measures, including requiring students to wear IDs, limiting bathroom breaks to five minutes and restricting football game attendance guidelines. Additionally, the leadership class entered a new era with Sophie Fierst, who took over for the previous sponsor Melanie Schwed. The WJ family gained a new member when alum Clare Cawley (‘18) stepped in as S*T*A*G*E’s technical director in place of previous director Kevin Daney.

With 2022 on its way to hit the record for most mass shootings in one year (Statista), Montgomery County State Attorney Jack McCarthy presented a gun violence assembly to the student body on Sep. 20. The assembly called on students to report anything suspicious and included a powerful video with testimony from gun violence victims and their families.

The girls’ soccer team completed their regular season winning all but one game (an overtime loss to Whitman), earning the second seed and a bye for the first regional playoff round. They defeated the Richard Montgomery Rockets and advanced for a rematch against Whitman. The Vikings defeated the Wildcats in overtime again en route to winning the 4A State Championship.

On Nov. 12, the girls’ cross country team completed their season by finishing second in the 4A State Championship earning a podium finish in back to back years. With all seven of the state championship runners not being seniors, the Wildcats are poised to continue their streak next year.

On Dec. 4, WJ alumns Tim Kurkjian (‘74) and Sally Glynn (‘96) were enshrined into the Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame. Kurkjian, who was a Sports Editor for The Pitch, currently works as an MLB analyst at ESPN and was awarded with the BBWAA Career Excellence Award for 2022. He was also honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame this past summer which is the most prestigious award for a baseball writer. Gylnn was a track and cross country star, winning many state championships and getting a full athletic scholarship to Stanford where she was an 11 time All-American. She still holds many school records today.