January news briefs

From “Footloose” to the omicron variant, the winter months have had their fair share of news.

Hanah Kitamoto, Print Co-Editor-In-Chief


For the first time in two years, Theatre West performed their fall show live from Dec. 2 through Dec. 4. Arganbright Auditorium transformed into Bomont, a town where dancing and rock music are illegal, for the production of “Footloose.” Seniors Evan Zukin and Sam Croco played the lead roles of Ren McCormack and Ariel Moore, respectively. Approximately 160 cast, band and crew members collaborated to produce the musical.

Winter sports

West High winter sports athletes continue to compete in their seasons. The boys swimming team placed second out of nine teams at the Linn-Mar invite Jan. 8. The boys basketball team has an 9-2 record, and the girls team has a 11-2 record. In boys wrestling, seniors Hunter Garvin, Kael Scranton and Grant O’Dell reached their career 100 win marks this season. Girls wrestling competed at the Council Bluffs Wrestling Classic Dec. 11, and Lexi Nash ’23 placed second in the 185-pound class. The boys bowling team faced off against City High in the Battle of the Pins Dec. 10, taking home the King Pin with a score of 2599-2451. The girls bowling team lost 1888-2513. 

Omicron variant

The COVID-19 variant was first reported to the WHO Nov. 24, and the first case in Iowa was recorded Dec. 9. According to the CDC, the omicron variant is more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2. The seven-day average positive case is 27% in Johnson County as Jan. 20. The CDC recommends wearing masks with layers and getting vaccinated and boosted to avoid the spread of this new variant. 

COVID-19 booster shot 

The FDA expanded eligibility requirements for the booster shot to individuals age 12 and older. Individuals aged 16 and 17 can receive Pfizer’s third dose six months after their second shot and 12 to 15-year-olds five months after their second shot. Those ages 18 and above are still eligible to take both Moderna and Pfizer’s booster shots. 

Hall passes and new schedule

Beginning immediately after winter break, the West High administration implemented a hallway pass system to reduce students lingering in the hallways during class. Each classroom has one hallway pass for students to use when leaving class for a bathroom or water break. Students are not allowed to leave class during the last 10 minutes of the period. Additionally, the West High administration will implement a new bell schedule to have AFT every day except for Thursdays starting Jan. 24. 

Biden extend pause on student loans

The Biden Administration announced an extension to the pause on student loans Dec. 22, rescheduling the restart date to May 1 from the original date, Feb. 1. President Biden cited the reasons for the 90-day extension as aiding with the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and furthering economic recovery. 

Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers sentenced to life in prison

Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, the three white men that chased and murdered Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, in March 2020, were sentenced to life in prison Jan. 7. The judge denied any chance of parole for Travis and Gregory.