App State football players lead a march protesting racial injustice Aug. 28, 2020. (Andy McLean)
App State football players lead a march protesting racial injustice Aug. 28, 2020.

Andy McLean

2020 in photos: The year we shared

December 31, 2020

“We’re living through unprecedented times:” these are words that have been repeated since March with the onset of the  COVID-19 pandemic. Just as spring break had started to crest over the horizon, news broke of the virus’ arrival in the US. We looked on, unaware of how our lives would be drastically changed in the coming months. For some, study abroad experiences were canceled, vacations were called off, internships and fellowships postponed, and students were sent back to their homes in a scramble to finish their studies from their hometown bedrooms. 

In 2020, we honed handmade crafts. We shared our passions through social media. Some began their journey with the culinary arts and found community through sharing recipes online. We encouraged each other in new ways of self-care, whether that be at-home exercise or something more creative like makeup artistry.

Before the virus arrived, the town of Boone saw the closing of a community staple — Earth Fare — and its eventual reopening. Students packed into a lecture hall and listened to Rev. Bradford Lilley, an original Black Panther Party member, speak. “Power to the people,” Lilley said, holding his fist high as he took the stage at his visit in January; A K-9 keg pull was held to raise funds for a local animal rescue; and nearly 250 App State students gathered for the Martin Luther King Jr. day of service in January with the Appalachian & Community Together organization. 

The summer saw tragic events of police killings of Black Americans: Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and many others. Across the nation, streets were filled with protesters demanding justice and calling for systemic change. Members of the Black at App State Collective reverberated this call on App State’s campus, with students lifting their voices during the “Wake the Chancellor” event in August. Students spoke out about their experiences with racial injustice on campus and in their daily lives and called on those who have power to use it and speak up. The Collective called on the administration for action with a list of demands like Black and Brown representation and mandatory bias training. 

In the fall, students moved into the semester with uncertainty. Move-in day was a week-long process with limited friends and family members allowed in residence halls at a time. Students living in dorms experienced a new kind of campus life with the majority of classes online, food trucks on Sanford Mall to supplement reduced dining options and a lack of social gatherings. To handle outbreaks in COVID-19 cases among students, the local Super 8 motel was used to house those who tested positive to quarantine and reduce further spread. The devastating effects of the virus hit closer to home for the App State community with the loss of sophomore Chad Dorrill due to complications from the virus.

Amid this year’s events, citizens still made the effort to act upon their democratic duty and cast their ballots for the next president of the United States and other offices. Watauga County became a targeted spot on the campaign trail leading up to the election with visits from Vice President Mike Pence at a church service at Alliance Bible Chapel in Boone and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, to Booneshine Brewery for an early voting mobilization event. Voter turnout surged with millions of Americans opting for mail-in ballots and participating in early voting  to avoid crowded lines at polls. 

As the new year approaches, and with the distribution of a vaccine underway, there is great recovery ahead for Americans. Embarking into 2021 won’t erase what we’ve been through, what we’ve learned and the hard lessons we have yet to learn, or the great work for democracy ahead of us. Together, we will step through the threshold into the new year, with hope for the future, knowledge of the past, and wisdom to make the better decisions in each moment.

App State football players lead a march protesting racial injustice August 28. Five days before the protest, police shot seven times into Jacob Blake’s back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The App State football team cancelled practice for a day in order to spend time talking about racial injustice. (Andy McLean)
Blowing Rock’s Winterfest K-9 Keg Pull is event used to raise money for PARTNERS! Canines, animal rescue service. The program raised $3,000 this year with 82 dogs total in participation. (Cristian Garnier)
Monique Geter is a junior global studies major and Chinese minor who planned to study abroad in Chengdu, China for the spring semester. Geter was one of several App State students forced to transfer from their study abroad experience as a result of the recent outbreak of the coronavirus.
Parents wait outside for their turn to move items into their students dorm. Due to COVID restrictions, only so many people are allowed in per move in group. (Jesse Barber)
Sianna Gutschick, sophomore, works in the Plemmons Student Union as an operation assistant. She started working on the first day of the fall 2020 semester. Gutschick has her temperature taken before each shift and works around a total of 11 hours a week. She enjoys the job and doesn’t feel unsafe or at risk. (Kara Haselton)
AppalCart passengers are required to wear face coverings throughout the time they’re on the bus. Seating has also been limited to maximize social distancing. (Max Correa)
Spin cycles with protective clear plastic for group fitness classes on the SRC gym floor. (Jesse Barber)
Daelan, an avid climber in Boone, NC, is able to keep strong during the bouldering season by climbing with a mask on at Center 45 on October 1. (Samuel Cooke)
Olexandr Ramsey, gets a COVID test in River Street parking deck on August 29, 2020. Ramsey said he knows he doesn’t have COVID but wants to take the test just for safe measure. Ramsey said he had family in N.Y. who contracted COVID at the beginning of the pandemic and he takes this virus very seriously. (Jesse Barber)
Community members wait outside the Watauga County Administration Building on the first day of early voting, October 15, to submit their ballot in the 2020 presidential election. (Kara Haselton)
“Power to the people!” is the phrase Rev. Dr. Bradford Lilley exclaimed to the packed lecture hall full of students during his visit to App State. (Cristian Garnier)
Black students were encouraged to speak during the Wake the Chancellor event on Sanford Mall Aug. 31. Cam Peoples speaks about his experience with racial injustice on campus, his life growing up in Alabama, and called to those who have power to use it to speak up against racial injustices. (Jesse Barber)
Protests and counterprotests related to the 2020 presidential election ensued on Sanford Mall Friday afternoon after several days of ballot counting. (Max Correa)
Kenedy Singletary writes words of encouragement to women of color during a vigil in honor of Breonna Taylor led by Black in Boone. (Andy McLean)
Elizabeth Walton, junior, works in the at-home studio she has set up to continue her business even during the COVID-19 pandemic. September 8. (Kara Haselton)
Senior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan (right), started the 50th game of his App State career on Saturday against Georgia Southern. He caught eight passes for 64 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Eagles. (Andy McLean)
Students decked out in black and gold begin to fill in the student section before the game Oct. 22. A crowd of 2,100 people were welcomed back to The Rock to watch the Mountaineers face off against Arkansas State. Masks and social distancing were enforced. (Becca Bridges)
App State’s Solar Vehicle Team’s car, ROSE. It was built by the team’s members by scratch and has a top speed of 60 mph and a range of 300 miles. (Andy McLean)
Anonymous student who was housed in Super 8 hotel during their quarantine from contracting COVID. Students are unable to leave their room during their isolation and a full day of meals are dropped off to them once a day by App State staff. (Jesse Barber)
An App State student takes a break around 2 a.m. after a long night of tracking polls on Election Day at a student watch party. (Max Correa)
App State junior in apparel, Marvel Maull, found social media recognition from the likes of Miley Cyrus with her make-up looks inspired by the singer. Maull makes make-up tutorials and montages on Instagram and TikTok in between class meetings on Zoom. (Jesse Barber)
Reverend Franklin Graham met with Vice President Mike Pence outside Alliance Bible Fellowship before entering for Sunday morning services Nov. 1. (Max Correa)
A Boone local and chef for multiple restaurants in the High Country, Ambrose Young looks on to opening his own all-wood barbecue food truck in 2021. (Ashley Foreman)
A 15-hour dance party hosted in February by Appalachian & Community Together to raise money to benefit children in the High Country. (Max Correa)
Chancellor Sheri Everts cuts the ribbon on Raven Rocks Residence Hall Thursday. Raven Rocks is one of two new dorms that were built on West Campus this year. (Mickey Hutchings)
App State freshman running back Nate Noel gets a carry in the 52-21 win over Campbell Sept. 26. App State’s game against Louisiana set for Oct. 7 has been postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests the program announced Thursday. (Andy McLean)
A potential COVID-19 patient votes from the confines of a safe ride van with curbside assistance on Election Day. (Jesse Barber)
Elizabeth Shukis campaiged for School Board candidate Ronny Holste outside the polling site at Hardin Park Elementary School. She volunteered to campaign for Holste as he attends a Bible study with her and is a “good friend.” Shukis had been at different polls throughout the day and speaking about the election stated, “local is dear to my heart when it comes to education.” (Kara Haselton)
An App State campus celebrity celebrated their birthday Tuesday – Teddy the golden retriever. Teddy patiently posed in front of his birthday banner while waiting for his dog safe birthday cake. (Samuel Cooke)
Graduate transfer guard Michael Almonacy drives against Bowling Green Monday night. The Brentwood, New York native led the Mountaineers with 21 points against the Falcons. (Andy McLean)
Virginia Beasley, a physician at the App State Student Health Center said, “It’s fabulous! No pain, it’s great” after receiving the Moderna vaccine. (Jesse Barber)
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