Read the touching letter a principal wrote to students and parents after the election.

Andrew Vega is a first-generation American, the son of Mexican immigrants. He identifies as gay. He’s also the principal of Bates Elementary School in Boston.

Like so many of us, he had a lot on the line during this election. And like so many of us, he’s still processing the results and grappling with the implications for himself, for his family, for the people he loves.

Principal Andrew Vega. All photos courtesy of Phineas Bates Elementary School.


As a school principal, Vega also has an entire school of children and their families looking to him for guidance in the wake of the election.

They were looking for the way forward. So he wrote them a letter.

"Good morning, Bates Community.

Yesterday our country and the Commonwealth voiced their collective opinion in the democratic process as they selected our future leaders and made decisions on important ballot measures.

The Phineas Bates Elementary School has 7 racial demographics, 15 home languages, and 31 national origins. We have gender non-conforming students and students whose interests align with our society’s gender norms. We have students who open gifts on Christmas, who read from the Torah, and who proudly wear headscarves daily as part of their Muslim faith. We also have students who practice another religion that we celebrate with them or no religion at all. One quarter of our students have disabilities and are educated in the same classrooms as their peers. Some of our students are descendants of the Pilgrims and some moved to the United States within the last year. Our students come from families with different political beliefs and may have different feelings around the outcomes of this Election.

Our school is a snapshot of this country in a building of 300 students. We are faced with the task of creating an inclusive environment that celebrates and honors all of these differences, and we strive to get better at that every single day.

We know that students will have different reactions to the outcome of yesterday’s Election. We honor our democratic values and traditions and we will carry on with our mission to educate, support and prepare our students for success. I am writing to assure you that the Bates remains a safe and supportive environment for all of them. If you have concerns about your child and how he/she/they may be processing the Election and would like some extra support at school, please let us know. You can also read this message from Superintendent Chang to learn more about resources to support students.

As always, I am so deeply humbled and honored to work with children every day. They consistently remind me of my own values and give me the strength it takes to build a school where they all feel loved. And I assure you—they are all loved.

Yours in the Culture of We,
Andrew"












The Bates School community in Boston is an exceptionally diverse place.

Vega says that 50-70% of the kids are students of color, and around 30% are white. They span various socioeconomic backgrounds and hold different political allegiances, experiences, and interests.

Some of the parents of his students were struggling, much as he was, to come to terms with the election results. Others celebrated Trump. But for Vega, there was no room for exclusion, anger, or blame. There was only room for compassion and a desire to chart a path forward.

Students on the playground at Phineas Bates.

For Vega, the path forward starts with making sure his students feel safe.

He said, "At this time that is so divisive, we need to reinforce our message that we are inclusive. And you should not be ashamed of anything that you are."

Two adorable little girls smile for a photo in the halls of the school.

And he’s looking to the future too. "We can create a space to work through this together using the same strategies and language that we always do," he said. "But also to continue to do the daily work that we need to do, preparing our students for the time when they can cast the ballot."

Children are literally our future, which is why Vega's words are so important.

A Bates Elementary School student.

As parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers, we have to build our kids up, give them the tools they need to protect people around them, and help them understand what's happening.

For Vega, this starts with reminding them that differences are OK. It starts with teaching them how to support and protect each other. Because differences make us stronger, and we’re stronger together.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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