2020: A Year in Review

December 23, 2020

2020 was an unprecedented, confusing, turbulent, motivating, apocalyptic, heroic year, to say the least. 

The Lancer Ledger staff sat down together (at our own homes, in a socially distanced Google Meet) to discuss the good, bad, and ugly events of 2020. Below is our Year in Review:

The Ledger Person of the Year: The Helpers

The Lancer Ledger

The Ledger Person of the Year: The Helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers


The Lakeland community was full of members looking to help others during the height of the pandemic. In May, The Ledger highlighted local Ringwood mom, Mrs. Tina Miles, who, with the help of LRHS students, made baked goods for frontline workers at St. Joe’s. Check out the inspirational article here.

As the months went on, the Lakeland community didn’t let a little pandemic slow them down from helping. This fall, the Lakeland Education Association (LEA) and National Honor Society (NHS) hosted a successful food drive. And, despite being virtual around the holidays, the LEA, NHS, and Robotics Team had an incredible turnout for their annual toy drive for St. Joe’s. Thank you to everyone in our community who donated!

And don’t forget, it’s the little things that make a big difference during these crazy times. The Lakeland band, led by Mr. Testa, kept a holiday tradition alive and spread cheer throughout the building on the Friday before the school went virtual playing classic holiday songs.

YouTube - Michael Novak

Lastly, we need to highlight those who volunteer their time and safety for us. We are also blessed with a community full of volunteers who risk their own health to help others. Check out 2020 graduate Heidi Jones’ dedication to them. The Jones’ family are members of the Wanaque First Aid Squad, and we thank them for their service. 

January: A Wild Year in the Making

2020 saw record setting wildfires around the world.  Fueled by droughts, increasing temperatures, and changing weather patterns, 52,113 wildfires in the western United States scorched 8,889,297 acres of land.  In Australia, fires claimed the lives of more than 30 people, with some estimates suggesting over 400 fatalities, according to Time.  Wilderness firefighting personnel have struggled to combat the rapidly increasing number and size of fires.  Climatologists and meteorologists around the globe have linked this increase directly to climate change, a fact met with indifference and often hostility from many U.S. Republicans, including President Donald Trump. Read more about the topic here: Ledger writer Keira McDonald’s article “In the Midst of a Pandemic, We Are the Virus.”

The good to come out these wild fires? More young people are becoming activist for climate change. 

February: An Unwelcomed, Novel Virus

In the beginning of 2020, many of us in the United States watched the news of China battling a new, novel virus. Many of us thought, “At least it’s there, and not here.” Many of us look back and laugh at how naive we were. 

After being discovered in China, coronavirus (also known as COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2) spread rapidly throughout the world and was especially devastating in Italy, Spain, and the United States. In March, a majority of the U.S. officially entered a lockdown that lasted over three months. Today, hundreds of thousands of people have died from the virus or complications due to being sick, and millions more have been infected. Countries like Australia and New Zealand are beginning to lift restrictions and return to pre-COVID normalcy. The United States still has a long way to go.

March: The Show Went On

This year, Lakeland was lucky enough to experience Mamma Mia! The timing of the show couldn’t have been better – a week before LRHS shut down for the rest of the 2020 school year. Thankfully, we had the songs of Abba stuck in our heads to cheer us up and get through some tough times. 

No one could have predicted we would be going into 2021 without another magical production from our students, but we’re fortunate to be able to relive Mamma Mia! through some amazing photos, a Lancer Ledger article and a recording of the performance.

April: Mr. Novak Goes Viral

No member of the LRHS community will reflect on the shutdown and not think of Mr. Novak’s daily YouTube updates. Not only did he help bring the students, staff, and community together when we were apart, he dyed his hair pink and introduced us to Stompy and Skye. (Not only was Mr. Novak featured in a Lancer Ledger article, he was also interviewed by NorthJersey.com!)

May: Black Lives Matter


Following the many instances of police brutality in the past year, there have been unending calls for justice, causing a lot of activity in the Black Lives Matter movement, or BLM. Americans watched, and some participated, in protests against institutionalized racism and police brutality. Through these protests, and massive media attention, BLM gained support. This movement also influenced American industrial changes regarding racism/racist symbology, and caused both international solidarity and global conversation. In America, specifically, there have been calls to defund the police, and a large demand to reform aspects of the justice system. Across the country, there have been many small changes to the justice system in hopes of creating a safer, just America, that holds opportunity for all people.

June & July: Graduation Happened!

With so much uncertainty on how to go about big celebrations, the LRHS community was thrilled they got the chance to honor the Class of 2020! No group of students deserved having one last event together more, after having to forgo so many events that define senior year. We congratulate the Class of 2020 again, and can’t wait to see the amazing things you do! Check out the ceremony and memories here:

YouTube - Lakeland TV

August: Inspiring Individuals Pass Away; Legacies Live On

2020 threw a lot of curveballs at the country, but some hit even closer to home. Unfortunately, the Lakeland community lost our beloved Uncle Eddie on September 1st, 2020. For many years, Uncle Eddie volunteered his time to take photos of our Lancer athletes. His ongoing support, huge personality, and beautiful photographs will always be treasured and greatly remembered. On behalf of the Lakeland Regional High School athletes, coaches, and families, we are grateful to have had someone as special as Uncle Eddie be a part of our community, and we will all miss him dearly.

“Chadwick Boseman” by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On top of a losing a local celebrity,  many influential, inspiring, and incredible persons have passed away in 2020 due to a plethora of reasons.  Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman, and Alex Trebek have all been lost in 2020.  Many trailblazing musicians have also deceased including Charley Pride, Doug Supernaw, King Von, Little Richard, and Eddie Van Halen.  In addition, many actors, besides Boseman, who passed away at the end of August from colon cancer, have died in 2020, including Elsa Raven (Titanic and Back to the Future), Sean Connnery (James Bond), and David Prowse (Star Wars).  While their death’s will be mourned, their impact will long outlast their time.

September: LRHS is Open for Business

The back and forth between a hybrid and virtual schedule can make anyone dizzy, but one thing is for sure – LRHS was happy to be back in the building this fall, and hopes to walk through those doors again soon after winter break.

Even with the new fashion craze known as masks covering their faces, it was clear both staff and students alike were smiling and happy to be back. Every member of the LRHS community has shown how adaptable and strong they are in the face of this pandemic, and can’t wait for the day we look back on this as a crazy memory for us all.

October: Sport’s Season Shone

Although 2020 brought us unconventional sports seasons, LRHS still has a lot of celebrate. Athletes rejoiced to be able to get out on the fields again this fall, and we hope more sports can resume as we enter the new year. Here are a few highlights of 2020:

Throughout 2020, junior Angelina Perez has continued to make a name for herself as one of the top athletes in the state. This fall, Perez was named NJ XC Runner of the Year, made All State, and won the national Nike Cross Virtual Race (and broke records doing it!)

Fellow runner and junior, Abby Horevay, has also made a name for herself in the cross country world, being named an All State athlete for the 2020 season, and having the past honor of being The Record’s female athlete of the week in 2019. 

Senior Gilligan, along with his parents. (Courtesy of the Lakeland Live Feed)

Last, but not least, senior TJ McCormack also brought an All State title to Lakeland for the 2020 football season.

On top of the All State honors, seniors Tyler Gilligan and Emily Castiglia both made Lakeland proud as they make big plans to continue shining in college. Gilligan signed his Letter of Intent to play Division I baseball at Rider University, while Castiglia accepted a full athletic scholarship to complete on the Division 1 gymnastics team at Bowling Green University.

To make this athletic year even more memorable, senior Troy Hernandez showed LRHS what strength in trying times really is. Hernandez not only fought cancer and won, he also continued working hard to join his teammates for the final games of the 2020 football season. To say his “strength and toughness is unmatched” is an understatement. Hernandez’s story is a reminder to keep fighting in these trying and uncertain times.

November: Remember, Remember the 3rd of November

President-elect Joseph R. Biden achieved a decisive victory over President Donald J. Trump in the 2020 presidential election with 306-232 electoral votes.  Record setting early voting and mail in ballots, on top of unfounded claims of fraud from the Trump campaign, led to delayed election results. No matter your political views, one very positive thing to come out of this election – a record number of young voters, including members of the Lakeland community who voted for the first time. 

“Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Democrats unexpectedly lost seats in the House of Representatives but maintained a slim majority.  Despite record donations and Democratic hopes, only two Senate Republican seats have changed parties to date, leaving Republicans with a 50-48 majority.  The country has turned in both attention and donations to the razor thin senate runoff elections underway in Georgia.  Two Democratic victories will give Democrats control of both houses of Congress and the White House.  Stay tuned for more – January 2021. 

December: At Long Last, A Vaccine


U.S. Secretary of Defense (CC BY 2.0)

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Almost one year after the discovery of COVID-19, vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Modera and Pfizer earned FDA approval.  These vaccines, developed in record time, are the culmination of billions of dollars in research and development.  On December 8, 2020, Margaret Keenan, a 91 year old from the United Kingdom became the first person to receive the Pfizer/BioTech vaccine, marking the start of the largest vaccination campaign in world history.  Arriving to the U.S. on December 14, the vaccine was first administered to intensive care nurse Sandra Lindsey at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Vaccinations are currently underway for higher risk groups in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.  Learn where you could end up in line for the vaccine with this graphic from The New York Times.

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