Fiona Shepherd and Lizzie Koumans

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Fiona Shepherd (left) and Lizzie Koumans (right)

Lizzie Koumans and Fiona Shepherd

By Fiona Shepherd

Staff Reporter

Being the News Editor for The Yorktown Sentry is just one of the many things Lizzie Koumans is involved in this year. Aside from being a seasoned member of the school paper, Koumans is active in many different organizations and runs cross-country for our school. With an impressive list of accomplishments and a kind spirit, it is no surprise that Koumans is part of what makes The Sentry such a welcoming place. 

Koumans has many different passions, but something that she works the hardest on is social issues that affect youths.

“I work with this organization called Generation Ratify, and it’s the youth-led movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment,” Koumans said. 

She is the national team’s policy director, so organizing legislation and lobbying with senators is just one of the many things she does with the group.  

“I’ve always had a focus on gender equality from the youngest age possible. I went to the Women’s March the day after Trump was inaugurated in 2017, and that was kind of my push-off point,” Koumans said. 

Aside from Generation Ratify, Koumans is vocal about many other current social and political issues. She cares deeply about improving the current prison and justice system, among other things. Bettering the world for today’s youth is something that she works hard at. Some current issues that she is working on include preventing and reversing the effects of climate change and ensuring equal career and schooling opportunities for underprivileged groups.

“If you look at the Senate and other positions of power it’s so obvious that it’s mostly dominated by older White men, and especially with the key word being older. It’s up to us to be able to fill those positions and take that charge,” Koumans said.

Like many others at our school, she plays a varsity sport. 

“I’ve been running cross country since freshman year. Not seriously at first, but since then I’ve gotten a lot more serious with it and it’s become one of the biggest parts of my life,” Koumans said.

Her current passions are definitely setting her up for an exciting future. Koumans has many plans for after high school, and her dream college is Brown University. 

“Ever since I was five-years-old and my dad told me he went to Brown, I’ve just always wanted to go. It’s a whole tradition on my dad’s side of the family, and my sister is there right now,” Koumans said. 

Koumans has numerous careers that interest her. She explained how she has become aware of the inequities in our current justice system, and that has pushed her to pursue being a civil rights attorney. Another career she is considering is being a neuroscientist; she finds the brain and mental illness a very interesting subject.

Traveling is a huge part of Koumans’ life. She has been traveling from a young age, and has been to five out of the seven continents. Koumans also expressed her particular love for Hong Kong, China.

“It’s my favorite place in the entire world. If I could end up in Hong Kong doing any job in the future, I would wanna be there,” Koumans said.

She has traveled all over Europe, and lived in Germany for the first three years of her life. She explained that traveling at such a young age sparked her love for it, and it has not diminished since then. 

Koumans has always had a creative mind. She said that, when she was younger, she and her friends would write books and stories for fun when they were together. Her love for writing has grown since then, and that is why she chose journalism in eighth grade.

“Honestly, I didn’t know how difficult it was to get accepted into the class when I applied, and so I felt so lucky when I actually got accepted,” Koumans said. 

Since she first applied, journalism has been a constant in her life. 

The Sentry is lucky to have such a talented and thoughtful member of their staff. With her writing skills and enthusiasm, Koumans makes an amazing news editor, and always takes extra steps to make our school’s community a better place. 

 

By Lizzie Koumans

News Editor

The Sentry is lucky to be welcoming a new group of excited reporters and photographers this year. Among them is sophomore Fiona Shepherd, a passionate writer, musician and activist. 

Although quarantine put a damper on regular activity and put everyone into a repetitive daily cycle, Shepherd continued tackling new creative projects and making a difference in this world through her advocacy.

“To be honest, [my summer] was like the same day over and over, but I definitely explored my other interests that I haven’t had as much of a chance to explore before…. It was just really chill and it kind of gave me a chance to think a lot and do stuff that I like instead of just stuff that I have to do,” Shepherd said.

While Shepherd enjoyed the break from the regular intensity of the school year, she is also eager to get back to work. She is especially enthusiastic about joining The Sentry and improving her writing skills while integrating herself into the nourishing community of the class.

“I have always liked to write and English has always been my favorite subject. I [also] consider myself to be a pretty opinionated person … I think that if I could combine those two [strengths] it could be really fun, and then to make friends while doing it,” Shepherd said.

Opinionated on politics, calling Senator Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez one of her biggest inspirations, Shepherd is excited to put her perspectives onto paper through her articles. 

“I wish I could raise awareness to so many issues…. I am [especially] passionate about reproductive health and LGBTQ rights. I feel like a lot of people make fun of pronouns and there are just so many misconceptions about that…. I also care a lot about climate change. We’re the youth and this affects  us the most. I think the older generation hasn’t made a big enough deal about it, and the youth are generally scared,” Shepherd said.

A true progressive, Shepherd is also an advocate for racial equality, especially throughout quarantine with the spark of Black Lives Matter protests and the rise of social media activism. Although many students during the summer were solely part of performative activism, posting on social media about social justice issues just to follow the trend, Shepherd took real steps to truly raise awareness and take action.

“Racial inequality is a huge problem. In Arlington, we live in this little bubble, especially at Yorktown, [and] we are very privileged…. I took extra steps to make sure that I wasn’t just a part of performative activism.… I posted a lot of stuff on my Instagram story, followed a lot of new accounts to educate myself and donated a lot of my money. I really wish I did more, but I did my best to raise awareness, [including] reaching out to my family and friends to donate,” Shepherd said.

Outside of her passion for politics and social justice, Shepherd also has a love for music that she hopes will manifest into her future. 

“I started voice lessons when I was in second grade and I started piano in first grade, so I have been doing music my whole life…. I have always known that I was going to do music for the rest of my life, professionally or not, so I definitely see it being a part of my future,” Shepherd said.

Additionally, Shepherd hopes to travel and see the world as she gets older, especially hiking and exploring throughout Western Europe and Northern California. 

Even though this school year will be unlike any other, Shepherd is ready and willing to step up to the challenge. Although the year has just begun, Shepherd’s strengths both in writing and making her opinions heard are already apparent and will surely make her an integral part of The Sentry’s reporting staff.