2018: the good, the bad, and the weather

2018: a year so long we had a Winter Olympics and everyone forgot about it.

We’ve laughed, cried, loved, lost, and left marks on history books. There have been glass ceilings broken, marches held, medals won, votes counted…and recounted. There have been families separated, allegations made, guns fired, and people killed. It has certainly been a year worth looking back on – so here are the headlines.


ABC News reported that there have been 346 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2018. Most recently, tragedy struck the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Tallahassee yoga studio, and the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.

The February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida had an impact that resonated across the country. On March 14, Riverside joined thousands of American schools by participating in a 17-minute walkout honoring the 17 victims in Parkland calling for gun violence prevention. Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Columbine High School students were among the foremost participants. The nationwide walkout came after Parkland students and families traveled to Florida’s capitol demanding a raise to the minimum age to purchase a gun.

2018 also saw the deaths of several beloved celebrities. Rapper Jahseh Onfroy, known as XXXTentacion, was shot and killed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 18. Singer Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16. Rapper Mac Miller died of an overdose on Sept. 7 and Marvel Comics writer and co-founder Stan Lee died on Nov. 12.


Durham Public Schools (DPS) students have been out of school for four days due to hurricane weather this year. Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm near Wrightsville Beach on September 14 after peaking at Category 4 status on September 5. It took more than 50 lives and caused $16 billion in damage, mostly in North and South Carolina. Less than a month later, Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10 near Mexico Beach, Florida as a Category 4 storm. The storm caused most of its damage in Central America and the Florida panhandle, including 60 fatalities.

Wildfires have also been a major problem this year. The largest California wildfires on record were aided by the remnants of the worst drought in California’s history to make the 2018 season the most destructive ever. One of these fires, the Mendicino Complex Fire, has burned over 282,000 acres of land. 31,000 students in Butte County returned to school on December 3, some in makeshift buildings, for the first time in three weeks.

Political Activism

Weather isn’t all that has canceled school in 2018. On May 16, teachers across the state participated in the “March for Students, Rally for Respect.”

March for Students and Rally for Respect participants make their way through Raleigh. Many Riverside teachers attended.

“Part of [the goal] was gaining representation,” said Riverside science teacher Shaun Thompson, who participated in the march. “Part of it was making a demonstration that the teaching community is both tight-knit and willing to make a stand.”

40 districts, including DPS, canceled school and 2,000 people participated at the state capitol.

“On [Election Day], voters sent a clear message that they want their elected leaders to work together and focus on the issues that matter to them,” a representative for Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement. “No group spoke louder over the last year than North Carolina’s educators.”

North Carolina voters elected enough Democrats to keep Republicans from having the ability to counteract Democratic Governor Cooper’s vetoes. Historically, Republicans have been unwilling to raise taxes in order to better fund public education, although the GOP has increased teacher pay each of the past five years.

Politically, 2018 was a year of division. On July 20, Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize NFL players kneeling in protest of police brutality. He tweeted his plan to ban all transgender individuals from the military on July 26, and on September 23, the administration sought Supreme Court approval to fast-track the legislation. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford received death threats after accusing now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Migrants were tear-gassed while protesting at the border.

But Nike has made $6 billion since Colin Kaepernick became the star of their 30th-anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Jared Polis, an openly gay candidate for governor, was elected in Colorado. Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman, won Democratic primaries in Vermont. Dr. Ford donated unused donations for her security to organizations that support trauma survivors. Democrats have control of the House of Representatives and are prepared to investigate the Trump administration’s potential federal misconduct.

Many Riverside students have strong opinions about 2018’s controversies.

“I don’t understand where Trump is coming from with the [transgender military ban],” said Fareeda Eraky. “We decided a long time ago that women could serve in the military. We decided that gender is not going to dictate how you serve in the military.”

“[LGBT politicians] being elected is progress,” said Sindy Moncada. “The more representation LGBT people have is good.”

“It’s okay for people to think [football players shouldn’t kneel],” Mary Emma Holloway said. “It’s not okay when they talk about it and are vocal about not liking it.”

However, students who have strong opinions can still see the other side of these issues.

“I don’t think [football players] should kneel, but they should be able to,” said sophomore Brendan Rizzuto.

“Sexual assault is a really hard issue to pick sides on,” Eraky said. “You could be labeling someone [as an assaulter who isn’t]; you could be not believing someone who actually got assaulted.”

“Some [division is necessary],” said Lucy Kraus. “If everyone had the same ideas, then there would be no need for elections.”


Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, released February 16, was the best-selling movie of the year, earning over $1 billion in gross profits. The movie’s opening weekend shattered Deadpool’s record by earning more than $235 million. Its number-one ranking was followed by Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2, respectively.

black panther teaser 2
Students do the Black Panther Wakanda salute. One hundred Riverside students saw the movie.

In February, the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games took place in South Korea. Norway led the pack in medals with 39, followed by Germany (31) and Canada (29). June brought the 2018 World Cup in Moscow, Russia, where France took home the victory.

Graphic by Nya Subero

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