March news briefs

Catch up on the recent events of the world and the West community, from non-profit organizations to the Olympic Games.

Misha Canin, Print Managing Editor and Business Co-Editor

McKane wins Gatorade Player of the Year

Senior Alex McKane was selected as the Iowa High School Boys Cross Country Gatorade Player of the Year Jan. 31, recognizing athletic and academic excellence as well as service to the community. McKane is the first male cross country runner from West to receive this award and plans to run collegiate Division I cross country at Iowa State University this fall.

2022 Olympic Games

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games were held in Beijing, China, Feb. 4-20. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, China implemented a closed-loop system for all athletes, staff and other Olympic personnel. These stringent precautions created an isolated environment, including transportation, venues and hotels. With these measures in place, athletes could safely compete in their events. Highlights included U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen winning his first gold medal and Chloe Kim defending her 2018 gold medal Feb. 9, making Kim the first woman to win two gold medals in the halfpipe event.

I’m Glad You Stayed

The I’m Glad You Stayed Project, started by Abbey Schley ’22 in honor of her close friend Dylan Salge, announced it is officially a non-profit organization in the state of Iowa Jan. 10. “I want to educate the public on real-time suicide prevention actions and point people in a positive direction with resources like the Suicide Lifeline … I have hope that my experience and Dylan’s story will be enough to make someone stay,” Schley said.

Vaccine-or-test mandate blocked

The Supreme Court blocked Biden’s vaccination mandate for large companies Jan. 13, which would have required vaccinations or mask-wearing and weekly testing. The court cited “a significant encroachment into the lives – and health – of a vast number of employees.” The vote was 6-3, with the three liberal justices dissenting. However, the court did uphold mandatory vaccines for Medicare and Medicaid providers.

Biden announces new testing plan

In the latest effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the Biden Administration purchased one billion at-home rapid testing kits to distribute to the public. The program will provide four free kits per household. Kits can be ordered online at In addition, 400 million N-95 masks are to be distributed to the public for free at pharmacies and grocery stores across the country.

Ukraine and Russia tensions

Tensions over land and sovereignty between Ukraine and Russia have led Vladimir Putin to position Russian troops at the shared border between the two countries. On Feb. 11, United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned all Americans currently in Ukraine should leave immediately. 13 days later, Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24. Since, President Biden has enacted historic sanctions that will have significant long-term economic impacts for Russia.

SCOTUS Justice to Retire

At age 83, Justice Stephen Breyer announced he plans to retire from the Supreme Court bench after serving more than 27 years. His exit allows Biden to make an appointment to maintain the conservative and liberal 6-3 split for years to come. During his campaign, the president promised to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. President Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson, who currently sits on DC’s federal appellate court Feb. 25. Democrats in the Senate hope to hold a confirmation vote by mid-April.

Journalists banned from Iowa Senate floor

The Iowa Senate announced that journalists will not be allowed on the floor for the 2022 legislative session, ending the tradition of reporters working at the press benches in the chamber. This post allowed a clear view of debates and let the press ask senators questions, something they relied on to get timely news out. Journalists will now sit in the upstairs public gallery. The GOP-majority Senate stated that the reason for this change was their struggle with the “evolving nature and definition of ‘media.'”