RedEye reviews the biggest stories of 2016

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This year, the United States experienced phenomena that changed the political and social landscapes of the country in new, often unexpected, ways. Redeye reviewed key events of 2016 that brought both celebratory and devastating revelations and ultimately led to the gathering of communities to make an impact on local and national scales.

National and International Stories:

Clean Water Crisis in Flint

Volunteers in Flint, Mich., prepare a dual fresh water distribution and water sample turn-in station. “20161005-FNS-LSC-0965” by U.S. Department of Agriculture is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared the city of Flint to be in a state of emergency in January due to dangerous levels of lead found to be poisoning the town’s water supply from the adjacent Flint River. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver had declared a state of emergency the prior December; however, the city has been dealing with lead-contaminated water since 2014, when it began a switch from the more expensive Detroit water system to an unknown new source that city officials planned to determine in 2016. The Flint River is currently being used as an interim drinking water source, but its higher levels of lead have caused adverse health issues to Flint residents, particularly children, interventions by the World Health Organization, and an outpouring of national support through millions of gallons of donated fresh water. The issue remains ongoing into 2017.

Women in Combat

Women have been in the military for years, but only in 2016 were women allowed to participate in any and all positions. Former president George W. Bush presents a graduating female soldier with an award in Ft. Jackson, S.C. “South carolina” by The U.S. Army is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, finalized plans to allow women the right to participate in all combat positions this past March. Campaigning from the Obama administration and discussions with high-ranking officials representing the different branches of the military resulted in the decision. One of the most recognizable dissenters is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, who is the highest ranking military official in the United States. Despite the military having a large support for the new Republican majority in the government, which could overturn the combat directive, the first group of women graduated from the United States Army’s Infantry Basic Officer Leader’s Course at Fort Benning, Ga., in October.

The New Face of the $20 Bill

Harriet Tubman will be the new face of the $20 bill. “Harriet Tubman on the Money” by Mike Licht is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Department of Treasury stated in April that the $20 bill would be revamped to feature Harriet Tubman, the outspoken abolitionist during the Civil War era, as the face on the front of the currency. Former president Andrew Jackson, infamous for his mass displacement of native Americans, is the current face on the bill and will be moved to the back to make way for Harriet Tubman. The new faces come from an effort by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, who is attempting to represent more women’s and civil rights activists and events on U.S. currency. It is undetermined when the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will distribute the redesigned bill, but Lew’s plan includes promises for updates to the $5 and $10 bills as well.

Directive on Transgender Students’ Restroom Rights

Protesters at RiverLink’s “Anything That Floats” Parade hold signs criticizing North Carolina’s recent law to require transgender individuals to use the bathrooms of their sex assigned at birth. 2016 River Parade 5” by anoldent is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

This year, the Obama administration issued an executive directive requiring all states’ public schools to allow their transgender students to choose whichever bathroom their gender identity follows. The directive was part of the administration’s initiative toward aiding LGBTQ+ students in freely expressing their gender identities without institutional restriction and harassment. Several states have reacted to the directive by placing temporary bans on its enforcement, and North Carolina legislators have even passed a reactionary law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms by traditional divisions based upon one’s sex. The order comes just a couple years after Maddie Dalton, an Atherton High School student who identifies as transgender, successfully petitioned for a policy within her school that would allow students to use the bathroom that conforms to their gender identities.

Lamar Jackson wins the Heisman trophy

A photo posted by Lamar Jackson (@new_era8) on

On December 10th, the University of Louisville’s own quarterback, sophomore Lamar Jackson, became the youngest Heisman winner ever. He is only 5 days younger than Jameis Winston, the previous record holder, at 19 years and 337 days. Jackson was also the first winner to lose his last two season games and win the trophy since 1987. He beat junior quarterback DeShaun Watson of Clemson, junior Oklahoma quarterback Baker Maysfield, senior Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook and Michigan junior linebacker Jabrill Peppers to receive the award. In addition to the Heisman, Jackson won the Maxwell awardWalter Camp award, and the Associated Press’s college football player of the year. Jackson was also tapped as a unanimous All-American player, rounding out a major year for the University’s football program.

Mass Shooting at Pulse Nightclub

Thousands gathered in Minneapolis, Minn., to mourn and remember the lives lost at Pulse nightclub the day following the shooting. “Vigil of solidarity in the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting” by Fibonacci Blue is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The United States’s deadliest mass shooting, taking the lives of 49 people and injuring 53 more, occurred at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June. The distress further surrounding gunman Omar Mateen’s shooting was the fact that it was not random. Mateen orchestrated the mass murder at Pulse in order to target gay and minority, particularly Latinx, individuals, as Pulse was a self-declared gay nightclub, June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month and the day of the shooting coincided with the venue’s Latin Night. Mateen’s father and police later concluded that Mateen’s motivations were intentionally malicious toward the minority groups. As a result, the shooting not only led to calls for stricter firearm regulations in the U.S., but also incited protests and support for more outward acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in both social settings and political legislature.

Stanford Sexual Assault Case

New Yorkers protest the no-jail plea deal that was temporarily considered for Tony Simmons, a juvenile-justice counselor who admitted to raping and assaulting three young women. Like Brock Turner’s case, the Simmons case was seen as an example of an offender who would not have gotten a proper sentence. “Placards at the Rally to Take Rape Seriously” by Women’s eNews is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Santa Clara County Superior Court gave former Stanford University student Brock Turner a lenient sentence of six months, though he only served three due to good disciplinary behavior and could have served up to 14 years, in the aftermath of a case regarding Turner’s sexual assault against another Stanford student who was unconscious during the attack. Turner, his family and his defense team presented arguments that included Turner’s impending competitive swimming career and attributed his rape to “party culture” and alcoholic intoxication, and the leading judge Aaron Persky said that a longer sentence would severely impact Turner’s life. The victim wrote and presented in court an impassioned statement, which has since gone viral, explaining the overlooked impact that the rape had on her and the unjust nature of Stanford and the legal system in catering to male sexual assault aggressors. The school has incited more controversy this month with its new campus policy for unanimous decisions on sentencing sexual assaulters.

The Triumphs of the Rio Olympics

So proud of our team last night❤️? #GoUSA

A photo posted by Laurie Hernandez (@lauriehernandez_) on

The summer 2016 Olympics in Rio saw the U.S. achieve across several sports; the U.S. left with 121 medals in total, 46 of those gold. One of the most notable groups was the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team: Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman, who won first place for the U.S. in their competition, while the U.S. men’s gymnastics team won fifth in their field. Three of the “Final Five” gymnasts are women of color, and their successes at the Games, including Simone Biles winning first in the overall category of women’s gymnastics, converged with the successes of several other women, such as Simone Manuel in swimming and Jenny Arthur in weightlifting. The performances of women at the Olympics caused the resurgence of the phrase “black girl magic” on social media, which highlights the capabilities of young women of color, and created role models for millions of U.S. girls seeing their identities represented by their country internationally.

Multiple U.S. Olympians broke records as well, but swimmer Michael Phelps broke one particular record that no athlete had matched for two millennia. In Rio, 31-year-old Michael Phelps broke the Olympic record for the most individual gold medals won—a record that no Olympian has touched in 2,168 years. The record’s timeline is in the context of the Olympiad games in ancient Greece, and during the second century B.C.E., Leonidas of Rhodes, a runner who held a monopoly on the titles for several foot races over the course of four Olympiads, won 12 individual titles in total for his career. In addition to breraking numerous records, Phelps also retired this year as the most decorated Olympian ever with 28 medals.

Clowns and Campus Safety

Parents and school boards raised concerns over school and community safety after an outbreak of clown-related crimes and threats began appearing nationwide. Across the United States, schools called for delays, cancellations and lockdowns in response to messages describing potential shootings or bomb threats that clown-disguised offenders administered, typically through social media. Social media outlets such as Instagram became large gathering spaces for multiple clown accounts to communicate and create their own networks. During the months of September and October, JCPS dealt with various clown-related threats that explicitly targeted Farnsley Middle School and Moore Traditional School and Butler, Valley, and Manual High Schools.

Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Thousands have been gathering on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which is the home to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and lies in both North Dakota and South Dakota, to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, and rallies throughout the country and celebrity endorsements against the Pipeline show the solidarity and agreement that many hold with the Tribe’s worries. The Standing Rock Indian Reservation sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers due to their approval of and work on plans for the Dakota Access Pipeline, a crude oil pipeline that would stretch more than 1000 miles between North Dakota and Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stated that the pipeline would destroy several of their religious, cultural and burial sites and threaten their water supply, and citizens in the proposed regions have expressed concern that the possible adverse environmental effects outweigh any of the potential economic benefits. In mid-December, protests were renewed at the news that the Belle Fourche pipeline had leaked 180,000 gallons of crude oil into the Ash Coulee Creek, which is approximately 150 miles from the protest camp.

The Elections of 2016

Donald Trump addresses an audience at one of his campaign rallies in Las Vegas, Nev. “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The elections of 2016 were filled with many surprising results, most notably the win of Donald Trump in the presidential race after Hillary Clinton did not win several crucial rust belt states that she was predicted to win in preliminary election projections. In addition, the Republican Party gained a controlling majority in the House of Representatives, Senate and executive branch on both the federal level and the statewide level for Kentucky, and the election of Trump will likely lead to a Republican majority in the Supreme Court with the presidential appointment of a ninth justice. Women saw many successes in elections nationwide, as Pramila Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali American elected to State Legislature in Minnesota and Hillary Clinton was the first woman to win a major party nomination for the presidential race. In Kentucky, Attica Scott became the first African American woman to be elected into the State House of Representatives in 20 years. However, many U.S. citizens have been speaking out in response to the election of Donald Trump due to his rhetoric and policies that target immigrants, women and people of color. Protests against him are continuing into 2017, and were even occurring before the election.

Removal of Confederate Monument

Construction crews prepare to remove the University of Louisville’s Confederate monument. Photo by Savanna Vest.

In mid-November, construction crews removed and transported the Confederate monument adjacent to the University of Louisville’s campus to Brandenburg, Ky, where the town placed it into a historical park and plans to incorporate it into Civil War reenactments. The University of Louisville chose to remove the monument in order to create a more inclusive environment for students on the campus and for citizens within the city as a whole. Opponents of the removal justify that the monument should have stayed because it is part of Louisville’s history, but many residents have applauded its transference to a historical park, believing it is a more appropriate place for remembrance.

Celebrity Deaths

Muhammad Ali NYWTS
Muhammad Ali, pictured in 1967. Photo by Ira Rosenberg. Gifted to the US Library of Congress. Public domain.

2016 forced us to say goodbye to living legends of many different fields including film, music, politics and literature. We lost Prince, David Bowie and George Michael, devastating losses in our culture of hyper-masculinity. These three men not only were gifted musicians, they showed the world that there is no “right” way to be a man, and gender can be expressed in whatever way an individual sees fit. We also lost civil rights activist, champion boxer and Louisville native Muhammad Ali, whose funeral took place here on June 10th. Among the film stars who died was Carrie Fisher, who played the iconic Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga. Shortly after her death, her mother, television and film actress Debbie Reynolds, also passed away. We lost two important political figures in 2016 as well, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, as well as Nancy Reagan, widow of Ronald Reagan. Finally, we lost Pulitzer prize winning author Harper Lee, who penned the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Manual Stories:

This year many important things happened in and around the Manual communities. Here are some of the top stories from RedEye this year.

Vandalism at Manual before Old Rivalry game

Purple spray paint mars windows in the hallway near Mr. Krause’s classroom.

On the morning of the Manual v. Male football game this year, some students from Male High school spray painted obscene images on one of Manual’s windows. The students also left a Male shirt on the flag pole on Manual’s campus and fast food litter on the front steps of the school. The prank was partly connected to tweets directed at Manual student Ben Boutell (12, YPAS), from earlier in the week.

For more on Red/White Week 2016 click here.

Planets named after Manual students

During the 2015/16 school year, two Manual juniors had minor planets named after them. Diya Mathur (12, MST) and Sophia Korner (12, MST), were honored by The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) for their achievement in the fair. The pair won not only second place Best of Fair, but first place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category as well.

Sports Success

A few of Manual’s sports teams enjoyed success at the state level in 2016. The girls’ cross country team placed first in the KHSAA state championship in November, and the boys’ team finished fourth overall. The field hockey team also made a run for state, but were defeated in 1-0 by Assumption in a sudden death overtime. This was their second KHSAA runner-up title in the past two years. Finally, the girls’ basketball team lost to Murray in the sweet sixteen round of the state tournament after their previous center, Krys McCune, suffered a torn ACL. However, 2016 was the first year the lady Crimsons won the seventh region since 2012.

Administration Changes 

After former Assistant Principal Matt Kinglsey resigned in 2015 to serve as principal of Jeffersontown High School, Manual lost another administrator in early 2016: Mr. Darryl Farmer. Mr. Farmer left Manual in order to take a new position as principal of Ramsey Middle School, which he began in late February of 2016. He was replaced by Vicki Lete at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.