2019, year in review

December 13, 2019

Protests, internet trends, and records broken. This year was packed to the brim with unforgettable moments.

Here’s a breakdown.

Top Trends

From Hydro Flasks to “Tik Tok,” 2019 brought trends that were defined by internet culture



Western belts, clear PVC belts, chain belts, industrial belts and designer buckle belts… The list goes on and on. With high-waisted, vintage-inspired jeans taking over the fashion world and skinny jeans becoming less popular, belts have become a closet staple. Like many trends, the current belt fad originates from thrifting and vintage fashion but has seeped into more mainstream clothing. Western-style and vintage-inspired belts have been popular in stores like Forever 21 and Asos. The trend has reached the point where belts are no longer just popular for their functionality in supporting pants, but also for their novelty.

Sustainability — Hydro Flasks

As the dire effects of climate change have become increasingly clear, many students have changed their lifestyles to be less wasteful and more environmentally conscious. With fewer single-use plastics, students aim to produce less waste. One focus of the zero-waste movement is eliminating plastic water bottles. Hydro Flasks, the colorful, stainless steel, insulated water bottles that have come to adorn the desks of classrooms, have spiked in popularity and serve as an eco-friendly and cute alternative to disposable water bottles. Hydro Flasks have also become an iconic symbol of “Vsco Girls,” who have coined the phrase “Save the Turtles.”

Disney Reboots

2019 saw five new remakes of long-loved Disney movies — “Aladdin,” ”The Lion King,” “Dumbo,” “Lady and the Tramp” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.”

The live-action remake of “Aladdin,” featuring Will Smith and Naomi Scott, originally released as an animated movie in 1992, came out May 24, grossing over $1 billion and becoming the sixth-highest-grossing movie of 2019.

“The Lion King,” a beloved animated film originally released in 1994, was remade and released July 19 as a photorealistic computer-animated musical film. The movie grossed over $1.6 billion, making it the second-highest-grossing movie of the year.

“Lady and the Tramp” originally came out in 1955 and is a musical romance. The live-action remake came out Nov. 12 on Disney+, a new video subscription service. The movie is the first Disney reboot without theater release.


The Chinese social media app launched in 2016, merged with Musical.ly in 2017 and grew to become extremely popular among teens. In the first quarter of 2019, TikTok was the most-downloaded app on the Apple App Store. On the app, students can find short videos produced by teenagers and celebrities, with all types of videos garnering millions of views.

Freshman Juan Chaides said his favorite types of TikToks are “character select” ones that he finds them to be relatable. “Character select” TikToks are videos that describe a certain type of person with common and generalized attributes, simulated to feel like selecting a video game character.

“It’s really nice to see because some people like can relate to them a lot, while other people don’t relate to them as much but still can get a laugh out of it,” Juan said.

“Game of Thrones”

 May 19 marked the last episode of “Game of Thrones,” which debuted in 2011 and concluded with its eighth season, which consisted of six episodes. The last episode of the show, “The Iron Throne,” garnered 13.6 million viewers, topping all previous viewership records on HBO. Though fans of the show delivered in viewership during the last season, not all were satisfied with the ending.

Sophomore Farah Sugrue, a longtime fan of the show, said she was disappointed with the finale. She said, “The main character I rooted for died, and I was left with characters that I didn’t really care for.”

“Minecraft” Comeback

Though the blocky video game has slowly been declining in popularity since its peak in 2012 and 2013, Minecraft has made a sudden resurgence in 2019. According to Google Trends, the number people searching up the term minecraft has declined steadily. In October 2018 the game reached its all-time low of its interest at about 20% of its peak, but in July and August, it resurged to about 67% of its peak.

Minecraft’s decline in popularity doesn’t reflect the number of people who still regularly play. Minecraft has quietly been dominating the video-game industry for a long time. In 2018, Mojang reported that about 91 million players logged on, while “Fortnite,” a popular and newer game, had about 78 million players.

Top Albums

Through a survey conducted by the Midway, U-High students selected these albums as the most influential of the past year


“Cuz I Love You”

Released: April 19

“Cuz I Love You” combines elements of pop, hip-hop, and R&B. The album expresses messages of self-love and self-care to the listener, alongside Lizzo’s powerful vocals.

“I just really like how over-the-top she is and how she never takes herself too seriously, which is pretty refreshing,” Emily He said.

After hitting the top charts with her singles “Good As Hell” and “Truth Hurts,” “Cuz I Love You” is Lizzo’s third album. Alongside “Truth Hurts,” her most popular songs from the album include “Juice” and “Boys.” With 11 songs total, the album is 33 minutes long.

“I think what really sold me was the music video for Cuz I Love You. It was hilarious,” Emily said, adding that Lizzo’s songs seemed very unique.

“Cuz I Love You” peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200 list, staying on the top 10 for 15 weeks after its release.

“Thank U, Next”

Released: Feb. 8

Ariana Grande’s fifth solo album, named after her hit single released Nov. 3, 2018, was among the top albums voted by U-High students. Composed of 12 songs, the album is a 41-minute listen.

Senior Kathy Luan, a fan of Ms. Grande’s music, said she sees the album as inspiring.

“She was able to release such a powerful and impactful album after going through all of the things that she has gone through,” Kathy said.

Eleven of 12 songs were listed top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously, with every song making the top 100. “Thank U, Next” claimed the top spot on the Billboard 200 for two weeks.

Kathy said she especially appreciates the lyrics in each song, as they are rich with inspiration and power.

She said, “The fact that she has gone through all of this and was able to make these songs for herself and also for her fans really shows me that whatever I go through I can get through.”

“Hollywood’s Bleeding”

Released: April 19

“Hollywood’s Bleeding” combines hip hop, trap, rhythm and blues, and pop. Post Malone’s third studio album was released Sept. 6, hit number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. It was his second number one album, each released in the past two years. “Wow,” “Goodbyes” and “Circles” claimed number two or three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 list.

The album exposes Post Malone’s more relatable, vulnerable side in tracks such as “Goodbyes,” “Die For Me” and “Circles” while also offering tracks that flaunt his lavish lifestyle. 

“I thought it was cool that the album came out right as school started, so it kinda marked the beginning of the school year for me,” Ethan Lee said.

Ethan said that although he prefers Post Malone’s first album, he specifically enjoyed the creative use of word play and interesting rhymes in the first couple of songs.


Released: April 19

Produced, written and arranged entirely by Tyler, the Creator, “Igor” debuted number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 on May 17, becoming his first number one album. The album’s lead single, “EARFQUAKE” hit 13 on the Billboard 100, becoming the highest-charting single of Tyler, the Creator.

“I like listening to ‘Igor’ because it’s very soothing but energetic at some points,” freshman Phoebe Collar said. “I usually listen when I’m with friends or just relaxing.”

Phoebe said she thinks the album is cool because it shows his perfectionism and revisits ideas from his past albums.

In “Igor,” Tyler, the Creator, discusses heartbreak and a waning relationship, making the album emotional and revealing.

The album also features an array of artists including Kanye West, Solange, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert and Jerrod Carmichael.

“Jesus Is King”

Released: Oct. 25

After missing two initial release dates in September, “Jesus is King,” was released Oct. 25.

With the album debut, Mr. West’s ninth studio album, Mr. West became the first artist to simultaneously top five different charts: U.S. Billboard 200, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Top Rap Albums, Top Christian Albums and Top Gospel Albums.

“I haven’t really heard anything like it before,” sophomore Asha Bahroos said. She added that she thinks most of Mr. West’s music either leans very contemporary or very traditional in his style of rap, but that in “Jesus is King” Mr. West creates a balance between the two.

As its name suggests, the album features prominent themes of Chirstianity and is free of any explicit lyrics, a large distinction from Mr. West’s other albums.

A whirlwind year

From protests on the streets of Hong Kong to support for Daniel Bobo-Jones in U-High halls, activism took the school and world by storm

World Review

Trump Investigations

Donald J. Trump official portrait

March/April: President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort is sentenced to four years in prison for financial crimes. Special counselor Robert Mueller recommends to the Virginia court a 19- to 24-year sentence, calling Manafort a “hardened” criminal who “repeatedly and brazenly” broke the law for over a decade, even after being indicted. Later in the month, Attorney General Bill Barr receives Mueller’s complete report, marking the end of the investigation into cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia. In April, Attorney General Barr releases a redacted version of the report to the public.

July 24: Mueller testifies under subpoena to House Intelligence and Judiciary committees to clarify the report.

July 25: Phone call takes place between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Aug. 12: A whistleblower close to the phone call files a complaint, stating that President Trump has acted improperly withholding U.S. aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainian government announces an investigation of Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

September: Congressional oversight committees act to see the whistleblower complaint and launch an investigation. On  Sept. 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s actions. On Sept. 25, the White House releases the transcript of the July 25 call.

Nov. 14-21: Public impeachment hearings take place before the House Intelligence Committee.

Dec. 4: House Judiciary Committee begins to deliberate how to proceed on drafting articles of impeachment. On Dec. 10, two articles of impeachment were revealed to the House.


Feb. 3: The New England Patriots defeat Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII to win sixth title.

April 8: University of Virginia wins the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship.

June 13: Toronto Raptors beat Golden State Warriors to win NBA championship in 4-2 series, becoming the only Canadian team to win the tournament.

July 7:  United States women’s national soccer team wins the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Oct. 30: Washington Nationals defeat Houston Astros 4-3 to win team’s first World Series.

Year In Protest

France:  The Yellow Vest movement in France gains widespread popularity after the Emmanuel Macron administration increased the fuel tax in the country in January.

Venezuela: After elections were deemed illegitimate, Representative Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president in January, directly challenging the authority of sitting president Nicolás Maduro, triggering mass protests, food shortages and power outages.

Sudan: President Omar Al-Bashir was deposed in April after mass protests in the capital. An interim military regime took its place prompting social media outrage and the #blueforsudan trending worldwide on Twitter and Instagram.

U-High students march with other high schoolers in the global youth climate strike Sept. 20. Greta Thunberg’s protest sparked walkouts across the country that are continuing into 2020.

Hong Kong: Peaceful mass protests started in Hong Kong on June 6 initially due to an extradition bill. The protests turned violent after excessive force by the Hong Kong police and changed in nature toward a broader protest against the Chinese Communist Party. After an election in Hong Kong on Nov. 24 pro-democracy candidates won 389 out of 452 elected seats, a huge surge from 2015 when the party won 43.

Climate Strike: In 2018, Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl, started striking from her school every Friday to protest climate change. In 2019, she crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat to deliver an address to the United Nations. Her courage and tenacity sparked 4 million students worldwide to strike on Sept. 20 including students from the Lab Schools.

U-High Review

Faculty and Administration

January:  An email sent to families of the students in the classes of science teacher Daniel Bobo-Jones announced he would no longer be teaching at Lab. Students and families show support for Bobo-Jones by covering the walls of U-High with posters and create a GoFundMe.

February: The majority of the Faculty Association votes no confidence in Director Charlie Abelmann and Principal Stephanie Weber. Additionally, the Faculty Association files a grievance claiming Mr. Bobo-Jones was terminated in violation the collective bargaining agreement. After being denied, it proceeds to arbitration.

May: After a series of school visits from finalists, Paul Beekmeyer is named U-High principal effective July 1.

June: Six months after the termination of Mr. Bobo-Jones, student protests continue with the creation of wood chips engraved with the words “Jones Is Lab.”

October:  Mr. Bobo-Jones’ arbitration decision announced is expected by the end of 2019.


Lab Teams

February:  Swimmer Mitch Walker, Class of 2019, places 28th in state in 100-yard breaststroke. Diver Will Maharry sets a school record in the 11-event diving competition with a score of 312.30.

May: Math Team ends its season by placing fourth at the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics State Competition held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the IHSA State championship, boys 4×800 relay team of Abe Zelchenko (Class of 2019), Nicky Edwards-Levin, Eli Ginsburg and Luke Sikora set the school record and finish in sixth place.

Senior Will Koenen races to the ball alongside an opponent. Both boys’ soccer and girls’ tennis won historic championships this year.

October: Girls tennis team becomes first U-High girls’s team to win state. Emily Chang qualifies for golf state championship for the third year in a row.

November: The boys soccer team beats Marquette Catholic 2-1 to win the IHSA 1A state championship for the first time in school history. The girls swimming and diving team sets seven school records and places fourth at the IHSA Sectional meet Nov. 16. Junior Jayne Crouthamel qualifies for state in the athletes with disabilities 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. Lastly, Amanda O’Donnell places 21 in the Cross Country IHSA 2A State Championship.

What’s next

2019 showed that anything is possible. Here are potential newsmakers for the next year


Summer Olympics

With 11,091 athletes expected to participate, the 2020 Summer Olympics will take place July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo.

Bringing the total of Olympics sports to 33, athletes will be able to compete in new events karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing.

Baseball/softball also makes a return, joining existing events, such as swimming and fencing.

Tokyo also hosted the 1964 Summer Olympic Games.

Tokyo 2020 organizers announced they will enhance competition venues from the 1964 Tokyo games, such as the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, and rebuild venues, such as the Tokyo National Stadium. These venues will spread across two themed areas named the “Heritage” and “Tokyo Bay” zones. Famous landmarks, such as Mount Fuji and the Imperial Palace Gardens, will host events as well. The location of the cauldron remains undecided.

Tokyo 2020 Emblem Selection Committee selected an indigo blue-checkered emblem designed by Asao Tokolo for the games, replacing the original circular red emblem that sparked a complaint from artist Olivier Debie, who claimed it was similar to his piece in the Théâtre de Liège.

According to the Olympic games website, the 2020 Summer Olympics will be the most innovative ever organized. The 2020 games will honor three main principles: striving for one’s personal best, honoring diversity, and passing on a legacy.

NASA Mars Mission

A NASA rover mission will begin July 17 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover will land on the Jezero Crater of Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, and stay for at least 687 days, or one year on Mars.

Part of NASA’s long-term exploration, the mission will potentially answer questions regarding life on Mars, characterize the climate and geology of Mars, and seek to address challenges to potential human exploration on Mars.

Scientists may bring samples back from Mars in order to further study the resources on Mars. The team will also test oxygen production from the atmosphere to prepare for more in-depth human exploration of Mars. The rover will also extract oxygen from Mars’ atmosphere, which is 96% carbon dioxide, according to NASA. 

NASA began the process of naming the mission’s rover through submitted written essays by students in the United States. Beginning in January, people will be able to vote for a name through a public poll. NASA will announce the winning name in February.

BREXIT — Britain leaves the European Union

If all continues according to plan, Britain will leave the European Union in 2020, making Britain the first member to ever leave the EU. Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans on not extending Britain’s transition out of the EU beyond the end of 2020, regardless of whether the no-trade deal is in place.

A public vote June 23, 2016, with results of 52%-48%,  determined that Britain will leave the EU.

Britain has been part of the EU since 1973, allowing free trade and movement between Britain and other countries in the EU.

After multiple drawbacks from former Prime Minister Theresa May, the European Union extended the deadline to Jan. 31, 2020. Parliament rejected two of May’s deals, eventually leading to her resignation.

Upcoming Entertainment

Both Marvel and DC will release new movies in 2020. Marvel will release “Black Widow” and “Eternals,” and DC will release “Cyborg,” a sequel to “Wonder Woman,” and a movie surrounding Harley Quinn, “Birds of Prey.”

Along with “Wonder Woman,” some other long-awaited sequels will also release in 2020, including “Fast & Furious 9,” “A Quiet Place 2,” and the 25th installment of the James Bond movies, “No Time To Die.”

Many shows have been renewed for 2020, including: “Bojack Horseman,” “Big Mouth,” “Atypical,” “The Crown,” “Sex Education,” “Stranger Things” and “You.”

Since it first launched on Nov. 12, Disney+ has become a popular streaming service, with more than 10 million people signing up for accounts or free trials in less than two days. Many Disney films will no longer be available on Netflix beginning in 2020.

Disney+ is set to release a wave of live-action series, starting with “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” in fall 2020. The full list of movies, documentaries and series that will come out on Disney+ is available on the Disney+ site.Disney+ will continue to launch internationally, with plans to roll out in Eastern Europe and Latin America in 2020

Presidential Election

With Democratic Party debates underway, 2020 will be a big year in terms of politics, leading up to the 59th United States presidential election.

Nearly 30 Democratic candidates have declared with only half remaining. Three Republican candidates, Mark Sanford, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh, declared their presidential campaigns opposing President Donald Trump’s re-election.

Primary elections and caucuses will occur in early 2020 across the U.S. The Democratic National Convention will occur July 13-16, in Milwaukee with the Republican National convention taking place Aug. 24- 27 in Charlotte. The general public will cast ballots Nov. 3. According to Pew Research Center, this election will mark a high for diversity in voters, with an expected 1 in 10 voters being members of Gen Z and one-third of voters being nonwhite.

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