VERY REAL VIRUS A senior
EXCLUSIVE APPAREL Despite
experiences isolation after
its popularity among teens,
testing positive for the deadly
fashion brand Brandy Melville
faces backlash for its sizing
OCTOBER 2020 | Van Nuys High School | Van Nuys, California
SONGWRITING A singersongwriter
shares her writing
process and inspiration behind
her latest release
CURRENT EVENTS 3
PRO | CON 10
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 12
RED OR BLUE?
Trump and Biden face off
THE MIRROR | ILLUSTRATION BY VAN DELGADO
| OCTOBER 2020 |
theMIRROR | C U R R E N T E V E N T S | | OCTOBER 2020 |3
we from a
By OWEN MITCHELL & SHAAN BHATIA
THE MIRROR STAFF
As covid-19 related deaths exceed one
million worldwide, six vaccines have
been approved for limited use, while 45
vaccines are being tested in clinical trials
Before a vaccine can be approved for limited or full
public use, it must undergo three phases of testing.
Prior to Phase 1, scientists test a new vaccine on cells
and then give it to animals like mice to see if it produces
an immune response.
Scientists then move onto Phase 1 which is a small
study performed on volunteers to test the safety and
dosage and to determine the effects of the drug on cells
including how it is absorbed, metabolized and excreted.
Phase 2 expands the vaccine to hundreds of people
split into groups, such as children and the elderly, to
study how the drug performs differently in them. This
phase continues to test the vaccine’s safety and ability to
stimulate the immune system.
Phase 3 is large-scale testing conducted with thousands
of people to observe how many become infected,
compared with volunteers who received a placebo.
Phase 3 trials will determine if the vaccine protects
against the coronavirus.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised
scientists that they should see evidence that the
vaccines can protect at least 50 percent of those who
received it. Phase 3 trials also reveal side effects that may
have been missed in earlier trials.
11 vaccines are currently in Phase 3 trials around the
world right now.
Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson and
Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are
currently approved for Phase 3 after testing their vaccine
on monkeys showed signs that it offered protection
Further testing of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was
abruptly stopped on Oct. 12 after a study participant
became sick with what the company called an “unexplained
The U.S. government has already invested $450 million
of taxpayer money into developing the vaccine,
under the Administration’s Warp Speed program, which
has distributed billions of dollars in funding to companies
to quickly get a vaccine to market.
In the wake of Johnson & Johnson’s announcement,
another American-based drug manufacturer, Eli Lilly,
announced on the following day that it was also pausing
the trial of its experimental covid-19 vaccine. It is unclear
what safety issues prompted the pause.
Eli Lilly’s vaccine is similar to a drug currently in trials
ISTOCK | STEFANAMER
developed by Regeneron, which President Donald Trump
received after his diagnosis with covid-19, and has been
touting as a cure, even though most scientists are highly
Regeneron and Eli Lilly’s treatments use monoclonal
antibodies which theoretically mimic the natural immune
response to the virus.
Another promising vaccine in Phase 3 testing is being
developed by Moderna in partnership with the National
Institutes of Health. Their approach relies on messenger
RNA (mRNA) to produce viral proteins in the body.
The U.S. government has provided the company
nearly $1 billion in support. Moderna will be awarded an
additional $1.5 billion from the government in exchange
for 100 million doses if the vaccine is safe and effective.
Pharmaceutical company Novavax is developing a
vaccine that increases proteins produced by the immune
system to fight infections and enhances immunity.
After promising results from preliminary studies in
monkeys and humans, Novavax launched a Phase 3 trial,
testing up to 10,000 volunteers in the United Kingdom
and is preparing to bring phase 3 testing to the United
States later this month.
The company has also partnered with the Serum Institute
of India, a vaccine manufacturer, and if the vaccine
is approved for use, that would allow for production of up
to 2 billion doses of the drug a year.
Pfizer, the frontrunner in developing a vaccine for the
United States, said its results won’t be ready until mid-
November at the earliest.
This dims any expectations of a vaccine by election
day as promised by President Trump, whose prospects
had already been dismissed by most doctors and researchers
as wishful thinking.
“I am willing to do my part in order to make my
community safe. I want to go back to normal life and if
vaccines are the answer, then I think everything should
be done to make it happen and cure this disease,” senior
Steven Kim said.
Chinese groups have also made progress on developing
vaccines. CanSino Biologics has begun Phase 3 testing,
running trials in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Russia.
The Wuhan Institute of Biological Products has also
developed a vaccine that is clinical testing and is approved
for Phase 3 trials in the United Arab Emirates,
Peru and Morocco despite volunteers experiencing side
effects such as fevers. A partner company has a promising
second vaccine that could be available in 2021.
The Chinese government gave its approval to provide
the two experimental vaccines to hundreds of thousands
of its citizens.
German and Swedish-based companies are also working
on developing treatments that are in Phase 2 and
Phase 3 trials.
Last August, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced
that healthcare regulators had approved a
vaccine named Sputnik V before Phase 3 trials had even
begun. After testing the vaccine, Russian scientists found
that Sputnik yielded antibodies to the coronavirus, but
causes mild side effects such as weakness and muscle
Students feel that covid-19 vaccinations are a necessary
step to lowering cases, but would be hesitant to
receive the vaccine in its first round of approval for the
“Personally I wouldn’t be one of the first people to get
the vaccine if it was released right now due to the fact
that I live with people with weaker immune systems,”
junior Kristine Shahbazyan said.
“Once more people get the vaccine and it is deemed
safe I would a hundred percent get it. Vaccines are
important in lowering covid cases but wearing masks is
the first step. If everyone wore a mask and started social
distancing our cases would drop.”
“If the vaccine was released right now I would be
slightly skeptical about the safety of it. However, if enough
people received it and walked out with only minor side
effects, I would get it, no questions asked,” junior Nicole
STEPS TO A SAFE VACCINE
Before any vaccine gets final approval from the Food and Drug adminstration, it must undergo a series of rigorous tests and ultimately shown to be safe, effective and beneficial.
determined in animals
Drug is tested on cell and
and given to mice and rats
to see if it produces an
Safety and dosage:
effect on cells, whether it
works, whether there are
side effects and the
Several hundred volunteers
Determines immune system
response and short-term side
effects. The FDA reports only
33% of treatments make it to
the next phase.
Large scale testing:
Thousands of volunteers
Compares how people who
get the vaccine compare to
those who don’t and determines
the most common
THE MIRROR | INFOGRAPHIC
SOURCE | CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
4| OCTOBER 2020 |
| C U R R E N T E V E N T S |
CDC | JAMES GATHANY
TESTING This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist was preparing to test a patient’s sample for SARS-CoV-2, using the
CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)–PCR Diagnostic Panel.
LAUSD launches covid testing
By ANI TUTUNJYAN
THE MIRROR EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
It remains unclear when
students will return to campuses
at Los Angeles Unified
schools, but the district wants
to be prepared when that does happen.
LAUSD has begun launching its
own covid-19 testing program.
LAUSD Superintendent Austin
Beutner believes this program is key to
getting students back into classrooms.
“The moral imperative is to help [...]
all students return to schools in the
safest way possible,” Superintendent
Beutner said in a recent briefing.
A test run has been underway with
staff, their children participating in
the childcare program and students
attending school-based daycare as part
of the first phase of testing.
Tau Langi, a cafeteria worker at James Monroe High
School, first received the test two weeks ago and now
receives them periodically once a week.
“It only took some-hours to get my results,” she said. “I
got tested in the morning and received my results sometime
in the afternoon of the same day.”
“The testing centers make me and my coworkers feel a
lot safer about coming to work. Especially with some cases
being asymptomatic, you never know if the people around
you have contracted covid-19 or not,” Langi added.
She believes that every student and employee should
be tested before returning to campuses.
“There are parents that are against vaccines or tests
and treatments but we’ve never encountered covid-19 before
so a required test for all staff and students is the best
option if we want things to go back to the way they were.”
The second phase of testing will include all staff who
are currently working from home.
All students and staff will undergo two baseline tests:
one sometime in October before schools reopen, and a
second right after.
Once students and staff are back in schools, they will
partake in periodic covid-19 testing.
Additionally, household members who are symptomatic
or may have been exposed to a student or employee
who tests positive will be offered testing.
Individuals will be notified via email and/or phone call
when it is time to schedule their baseline test appointment.
Testing appointments will be made online through
SCREEN CAPTURE | KTLA5
PILOTING A RETURN Superintendent
Beutner has called for covid-19 testing to
return students to LAUSD campuses.
The entire process is expected to
take only 10 minutes, with results being
provided within 24 to 48 hours. Testing
is being provided to all at no cost.
The District is providing nasal swab
tests as their primary testing method,
but a saliva test is also available to children
or adults if requested.
Parental consent must be given
before testing is performed.
LAUSD believes that testing of all
students and staff is necessary in order
to safely reopen campuses.
Test results will be shared with
public health authorities in accordance
with the law, maintaining privacy.
A big component of the new testing
program is the Daily Pass, a Microsoft
digital application, which will be used
by all students, employees and visitors to complete a
required daily health check for admission to a campus. It
will monitor for physical wellness and potential exposure
to the virus.
The app will also report any positive results to the Los
Angeles County Department of Public Health and assist in
Testing for the whole year will cost the district about
$300 per student, with each individual test coming out to
Testing is currently being provided at 41 sites, each of
which is located at a school within each Local District’s
Community of Schools.
As of last week, more than 25,000 tests have been
conducted among staff who are currently working on
LAUSD has over 600,000 students and nearly 75,000
teachers and employees working across more than 1,000
Testing will eventually increase to 40,000 tests per day
once the timing for students’ return to classrooms is clear.
“I believe that it [covid-19 testing] is one of many steps
towards the reopening of LAUSD schools,” junior Erick
Casco said. “Of course public health should be the top
priority when reopening schools. Covid-19 is a problem
that won’t go away that easily and with people out in
public they will always be faced with the risk of contracting
covid-19 so to maintain public health standards, all
staff and students should get periodically tested when
we do return.”
THE MIRROR STAFF
In an attempt to limit voter misinformation
and interference on its
platform in the upcoming November
Election, Facebook has announced a
moratorium on certain types of content.
The company will ban new political and
issue-based advertising in the week prior to the
election and indefinitely after the polls close on
Election Day to keep political candidates from
using the platform to manipulate the election’s
outcome and its aftermath.
Facebook will remove posts that seek to intimidate
voters, including encouragement of poll
The company will also place a voting information
center at the top of its News Feed through
Election Day. The hub will provide accurate, upto-date
information on how, when and where to
register to vote.
The social media platform has widened its
removal of posts that aim to suppress voters.
Posts that cause confusion around who is
eligible to vote, based on misstatements such as
what documents are required to receive a ballot,
will also be deleted.
Facebook has been striving to avoid another
2016 election catastrophe, when the platform
was used by Russian operatives to spread disinformation
through questionable political ads.
Along with the 57 percent of misleading
posts shared, over 3,500 ads on Facebook that
targeted American voters were Kremlin-backed
political ads that were primarily pro-Trump.
Under the direction of CEO Mark Zuckerberg,
one of the world’s richest men, Facebook has
invested billions of dollars to hire new employees
for the company’s security divisions, whose job is
to identify and clamp down on interference and
misinformation before it widely spreads over the
According to Zuckerberg, over the last four
years Facebook has removed over 100 networks
worldwide that were trying to influence elections.
However, Zuckerberg said most threats that
may undermine the November election are
Despite his contention that misinformation
was mainly from domestic sources, the company
said it will not police speech from politicians
and other leading figures for truthfulness.
As the election approaches, Facebook teams
have been training for months to walk through
different contingency plans for how to handle
Critics feel that Facebook’s changes may have
come too late claiming that it does not provide a
permanent solution to the spreading of misinformation
on the platform.
“Facebook is in a tough spot. They don’t want
to be seen as fact checkers or the truth police.
Yet you can’t deny the power of false messaging
on social media,” social science teacher Robert
Crosby said. “I believe they could do more to
make it harder to post outright lies or doctored
SCREEN CAPTURE | TWITTER
DELETED Trump violated Twitter’s terms of service.
theMIRROR | P E R S P E C T I V E | | OCTOBER 2020 |5
Students used their
time away from prying
eyes to try new
COURTESY | CASSANDRA LIM COURTESY | HEIDY ROSALES COURTESY | ANTHONY TURNER
The cuts and colors of quarantine
By ITZEL GALLARDO & GWEN LANGI
THE MIRROR STAFF
Whether it’s uneven
bangs or a bad fade,
our hair can make
or break our day.
We spend more time perfecting our
hair than we would like to admit but
we’ve all experienced a bad day and
blamed it on our hair — “I’m having
a bad hair day.”
It’s understandable why hair has
so much power over our appearance:
it can make strong fashion statements
that other features can’t. Not
everyone is skilled at doing makeup
nor does every student have the
money to always keep up with the latest
fashion trends. Luckily we do have
hair to dye, cut and style as much as
Changing your appearance can be
a scary thing to do with the constant
questioning of whether the results will
be as successful as you hope or a total
fail. But thanks to stay-at-home orders,
we had the chance to recover from
hairstyle decisions we’d possibly regret
or discover hair blessings we may have
otherwise never known.
Whether it was a new touch of color
or a new length, students took advantage
of changing their hair while in
Quarantine left the majority of us
cooped up in our homes with our
primary source of entertainment being
social media where inspiration for
different styles was in every corner of
the internet. Big or small, we applaud
students who were brave enough to
test the waters.
Here are some students who took
the chance to change up their look.
Cassandra Lim | SENIOR
What changes did you make to your
hair and why?
In the first two months of quarantine,
I dyed my blonde highlights to blue.
After two weeks or so I toned my blue
highlights back to blonde. Then in July,
I bleached one strand of hair twice and
dyed it purple. After that, I decided to
bleach the whole bottom half of my
hair twice and toned it as blonde as
possible. Since half of my head was
blonde I decided to dye the whole thing
purple once more.
Did quarantine play any role in your
Quarantine influenced me to change
my hair. I was tired of the same routine
and decided I needed a change every
couple of months. The fact that no one
would see my hair was a bonus and encouraged
me, even more, to go crazier
Where did you get your inspiration to
change your hair?
Most of my inspiration came from Tik-
Tok. I would see girls on my “For You”
page (a feed of posts customized for
you based on the content you interact
with the most) changing their hair with
different colors and different styles and
I was inspired.
Are you satisfied with your change?
Are you interested in continuing to
experiment with your hair?
After every change, I get a moment
of satisfaction that lasts a couple of
weeks but another urge to change it up
again. I am interested in continuing to
experiment with my hair. I already plan
to dye my hair pink or silver in a couple
Heidy Rosales | JUNIOR
What changes did you make to your
hair and why?
I did plenty of stuff to my hair. I cut it
more than four times. I bleached my
hair blonde then pink then blonde and
then it went orange. I’m the type of person
who likes changing looks every day.
Did quarantine play any role in your
The reason why was because I had
nothing to do throughout quarantine
but damage my hair.
Where did you get your inspiration to
change your hair?
I would get my inspirations from Tik-
Tok’s and Instagram’s explore pages.
Are you satisfied with your change?
Are you interested in continuing to
experiment with your hair?
I’m satisfied with my hair right now, but
later on I’m pretty sure it will change.
Anthony Turner | SENIOR
What changes did you make to your
hair and why?
I cut off all my hair and bleached the
rest. I don’t know why. I just felt like I
needed a change. I didn’t care about the
same stuff I used to so I decided to cut
Did quarantine play any role in your
At first the fact that I was quarantined
played a part but overtime I just didn’t
care. I just like the fact that my hair is
gone and my style changed.
Where did you get your inspiration to
change your hair?
The movie “Waves,” Frank Ocean and
Are you satisfied with your change?
Are you interested in continuing to
experiment with your hair?
No, I don’t think I’m satisfied. I feel like
something’s missing. I’ve had this hairstyle
for a couple of months now but I
feel like I can do so much more.
Crazy coronavirus coifs
SHUTTERSTOCK | ANGELICA CORNELIUSSEN
6| OCTOBER 2020 | By ANGELICA VENTURINA
| P E R S P E C T I V E |
“One size fits none”
retailer Brandy Melville
I saw one or
two Asian and
almost all the
girls are the
JENNA DE ROSALES
THE MIRROR STAFF
If you’re a teenager,
you’ve probably heard
the name “Brandy Melville”
at least once.
In Los Angeles, all it takes is a
walk down the street to see one
or two girls wearing the brand.
Founded in Italy in 1970,
Brandy Melville is a clothing
store selling trendy apparel for
young women. With its wide
array of plaid skirts, tiny crop
tops and low-waisted jeans, the
brand gained the attention of
teenage girls after its launch in
the U.S. in 2009. Since then, it’s
become one of the most popular
teenage clothing brands.
However, despite the brand
being so widely enjoyed by
young girls, controversy surrounding
problematic sizing and
lack of diversity implies that the
company caters to a specific
audience of girls — small, skinny
Brandy Melville sells one-size
clothing, and has been harshly
criticized on the internet for its’
tightly conscribed size range.
Most of their shirts come in small
or extra small. Their pants don’t
have a wider range either, ranging
from as small as a 0 to a 2.
The brand promotes unhealthy
for young girls, according to
15-year-old Gwendolyn Singer.
“They create this expectation,”
Singer said. “If you don’t
fit into one-size-fits-all clothing,
which is not body inclusive and
can only fit people size 00-2,
then you aren’t good enough
and your body isn’t normal. It
creates this idea that if you don’t
fit into their tiny clothes, there’s
something wrong with your
body or you need to change
On average, their clothes have
a 32-inch bust and a 25-inch
waist, which many teen girls do
not have. According to an article
from the website Healthline
Media, written by Kimberly Holland
and medically reviewed by
certified personal trainer Daniel
Bubnis, the average waist size for
a teenage girl in America is 32.6
inches, while the average bust
size is 34 inches.
When the majority of consumers
being targeted cannot
fit into the clothes a company
is marketing, it says a lot about
how poorly size inclusivity is
handled in the fashion industry.
Many brands in the industry,
like Brandy Melville, create a
divide between the people who
can fit their clothes, and the
people who can’t.
While many girls will gladly
line up at the front of Brandy
Melville ready to storm the
store, others would rather
watch from afar, like 15-year-old
“I understand that stores
have the option to market their
products to a specific audience,
but using size instead of style
to do that doesn’t seem healthy
at all, especially because their
specific style is so popular right
now and a lot of people might
be interested in that aesthetic,”
Dangazyan said. “But it’s so hard
to find clothes that fit both that
style and larger sizes. It’s so sad.”
Others argue that Brandy
Melville perpetuates a culture
of negativity and body-shaming
by marketing their clothing
towards only one size.
“Growing up with society telling
us how to look and shaming
us for what size we are has a
negative impact, especially on
our self esteem,” 15-year-old Kyla
Paguio said. “It isn’t any better
that a brand of clothes that
targets teenagers my age makes
me feel bad about not being
able to fit into trendy clothes
or anything from that store for
Brandy Melville’s Instagram
page, which has more than
three million followers lacks
diversity, covered from top to
bottom with pictures of models
who have the same characteristics:
thin, white and tall. With
their lack of diversity and noninclusive
sizing, many marvel at
how they stay in business.
“Most of the models on their
page are white, and it used to
be literally all white models,”
14-year-old Jenna De Rosales
said. “I saw one or two Asian and
Black models occasionally while
scrolling down, but almost all the
girls are the same white, skinny
and small models.”
Girls like 16-year-old Ysabel
Zurita, who don’t match the
brand’s target type, feel left out
and are unlikely to buy anything
from the company until they
become more inclusive.
“The lack of diversity on
their [Instagram] page just ties
in with the whole concept of a
Brandy girl that they’re trying to
advertise: white girl, tall, skinny,”
she said. “I feel really bad for the
girls out there who aren’t getting
the recognition and representation
SOURCE | BRANDYMELVILLE.COM
ALL WHITE The skinny white girls modeling Brandy Melville fashions on their website.
SHUTTERSTOCK | VLADIMIR GJORGIEU
theMIRROR | P E R S P E C T I V E | | OCTOBER 2020 |7
CREATIVE COMMONS | ASHLEY CAMPBELL
VIRTUAL STRESS What once seemed
like a dream come true has students
frustrated at home.
By ADRIANA CONTRERAS
THE MIRROR STAFF
What was once a student fantasy
has now become a nightmare.
If you disliked the social life of
high school or found the journey
between school and home tiring, remote learning
seemed like the solution to all your problems.
With the unexpected impact of covid-19, students
finally got the chance to experience what they longed
for but it’s far from what we expected.
Students imagined sleeping in, enjoying more free
time and learning from the comfort of their homes,
but most were disappointed to find that remote
learning only aggravated their learning experience.
The transition to remote learning has brought
unexpected consequences for both students and
One change brought by online learning is the new
“bell” schedule. School now starts at 9:00 a.m. as opposed
to the previous 7:50 a.m. start time. Students
also have an extended lunch and finish classes at 2:15
p.m. on regular days and 12:10 p.m. on professional
development days. This change is definitely one
favored by students who get to use their additional
time however they please, whether that’s sleeping in
or spending more time on their phone.
Despite more free time for students, the new circumstances
of remote learning leaves many behind.
Teachers who are not tech-savvy struggle with
Schoology and Zoom.
Social science teacher Ms. Wanda Moore is among
those who struggle with the technology of online school.
“Of all the problems, students joining and getting
kicked off is the most consistent,” she said. “I have gotten
kicked off probably a total of four to five times. I
have been slow to adapt, a lot of which has to do with
my age and experience.”
Moore strongly believes that the transition to online
school challenges both the quality and philosophy
of her teaching.
“In a classroom, I feel like a chef preparing a meal.
Zoom makes me feel like a short-order cook. Learning
has changed from an experience I want students
to savor to now being like gulping down a meal just to
gulp it down.”
In the beginning of the school year, many classrooms
had fallen victim to “Zoom-bombing” as well,
where unknown individuals entered class Zoom
meetings and displayed pornography and other inappropriate
Senior Justin Henriquez recalls the disturbing
incident with his stage design class experiencing a
“People just started yelling inappropriate phrases
and calling the teacher names. Online learning is
already heard enough for both students and teachers
and ‘Zoom-bombs’ aren’t making it any easier,” he said.
However, this issue has now been resolved.
Students can no longer log into their Zoom classes
without their LAUSD email. Teachers must also only
admit students who are entering the call with their
LAUSD log in.
Teachers are not the only ones struggling with the
technological aspect of remote learning.
Many students run into connectivity problems
whether it is their personal internet or the hotspot
the school has provided.
Senior Amberly Bonilla struggles with online
school due to the poor connection from her schoolprovided
“It did work a little for the first two months when
they gave it to me but now it’s always at one bar,”
she said. “No matter where I took it the connection
never got better. It works for absolutely nothing. It’s
just loading screens for everything. Ever since May I
haven’t used the hotspot at all.”
For students taking Advanced Placement (AP)
courses, using the College Board website has been
Timed College Board tests now require installing
SecureTestBrowser, a lockdown browser to prevent
cheating. Some AP students are unable to download
this lockdown browser on their own computers, requiring
them to check out school-provided Chromebooks,
which come with the lockdown browser
“No matter what I did, I couldn’t download the
lockdown browser on my laptop which I needed for
my AP Lang (AP English Language and Composition)
class,” junior Fatiah Lawal said. “I had to go to the
school to pick up a Chromebook or else I wouldn’t be
able to complete my assessments.”
Students also find themselves easily distracted in
class. It’s tempting to reach for your phone when you
find yourself disinterested in what is being discussed.
Senior Rober Angel discerned that the lack of
disciplinary action actually provokes him to reach for
his phone during Zoom calls.
“At school, if I pull my phone out it will get taken
away so I can concentrate more, so when I’m in class
it feels like I’m more interested or more engaged,” he
Unfortunately, not all students have a quiet work
space at home and struggle to stay attentive and
keep up with attending classes.
“You are required to listen to lectures, take tests,
participate in class discussions and you have loud
conversations coming from around you,” senior Ayisha
Bushra said. “It’s extremely distracting and can
take away from your understanding.”
Remote learning poses a threat to the education of
students whose home conditions prevent them from
staying on track with school work.
Contrary to what students previously expected
from remote learning, most actually prefer in-person
education because they feel they are most productive
in the traditional learning environment of a school.
“With in-person teaching, we can get a more
personal experience when it comes to learning,”
junior Isabella Rivera said. “It is hard to get to know
each other virtually since most of us get camera shy.
Online school is definitely more difficult.”
But it’s more than just dealing with the comfortability
of remote learning.
For other students, factors beyond their control
prohibit them from reaping the full benefits of online
Some parents have now returned to on-site work
and do not have the luxury to find a caretaker for
their younger children, especially during an economic
recession, and with the concern of the spread of the
virus, leaving a lot of students with younger siblings
to care for them.
“I prefer in-person teaching because I find that
with learning online, it’s especially hard to separate
home life from school life,” junior Jersey Vargas
explained. “It’s difficult to pay attention in class when
your five year old sister asks for assistance with technology
and your little brother needs help with math.”
Vargas describes it as “overwhelming” when she’s
left to manage the household on her own and because
of this, she prefers traditional learning.
Even though online learning may not be the best
solution, the alternative would be returning to classes
and adding to the surging covid-19 cases in California.
8/9| OCTOBER 2020 |
| C O V E R S
FIGHT TO THE FINISH
Gentle Joe vers
GENTLE JOE Biden’s criminal
justice policies are not as liberal
as people like to think.
The November elections
closer and American
divided and unsure over their
Left-leaning voters believe that
this year’s vote is not just a vote for
one candidate or the other, but a
vote to protect American democracy.
A growing number of Joe
Biden supporters have adopted
the “Settle for Biden” and “vote blue
no matter who” campaign method,
in an attempt to ensure President
Donald Trump is voted out of office
despite Biden’s political and moral
Most right-leaning voters are
eager to vote for Trump in hopes
of giving him a second presidential
term and maybe even a
third, which Trump said he could
“negotiate” because he is “probably
entitled” to it. An amendment to
the Constitution places a two-term
limit on the office of president.
Conservatives believe that
America’s current state of chaos
needs to be changed and that
can only be done under Trump’s
presidency. During the Republican
National Convention, a common
talking point was that Americans
won’t be safe in Biden’s America, a
counterargument to progressive
Democrats’ critiques of law enforcement
— stances Biden himself
has refused to take.
Coronavirus was not the only
unexpected event that shook the
In light of George Floyd’s murder
by police officers, protestors
took to the streets, not merely angry
over Floyd’s death but that he
was only one of many Black people
killed by police over the years — a
result of systemic racism. Demonstrators
joined the Black Lives Matter
movement in support of racial
justice for Black people.
Protestors have been demanding
police reform and even abolishing
the entire policing system.
The two leading presidential
candidates have voiced their opinions
on America’s policing system
and the BLM movement.
Democrat Joe Biden
Despite the Republican Party’s
notions that former VP Joe Biden
will implement police budget cuts
if elected, he is not only opposed to
defunding the police, much like a
majority of Democratic leaders, but
actually advocates adding more
funding to the police.
Biden has proposed a $300 million
investment in the Community
Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
program to “reinvigorate” community-oriented
policing which would
increase the number of police
officers in Black and Brown communities.
He has said several times in interviews
that he does not support
defunding the police. He underscored
this message at the Democratic
National Convention when
he commented that “most cops are
good” during a conversation about
Instead, he feels that law enforcement
can be improved by
weeding out bad police officers.
Biden has called for systemic
changes to the country’s criminal
justice system and proposed reforms
such as banning chokeholds
and ending the transferring of
“weapons of war” to police forces,
but he opposes cutting resources
for law enforcement.
In his interview with NowThis
News, a progressive social mediafocused
news organization, Biden
agreed to redirecting some funding,
but then shifted the conversation
from policing to prison reform.
He said that the prison system
“should be a rehabilitation system,
not a punishment system,” and
that the formerly incarcerated are
entitled to the same rights and
same federal programs as Americans
who have not gone to prison.
Biden has also pledged to create
a national police oversight commission
within the first hundred
days of his presidency.
During the first presidential
debate of 2020 Biden said that he
supports “law and order with justice
where people ge
He contended tha
temic injustice in law
but that a vast major
officers are “good, de
able men and wome
During the debate
supports peaceful pr
are marching for BLM
Biden has a proble
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He once called sta
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Biden helped kill one
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Biden also voted t
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Although the mea
jected, Biden remain
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about his past policie
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Republican Donald T
Since the start of t
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CREATIVE COMMONS | ILLUSTRATIONS BY DONKEY HOTEY
HOW DO YOU
STUDENT POLL If
you could vote or are
voting, who would you
vote for in the 2020
Results based on 203
responses from students in a
Mirror online poll.
Trump has lost his bearing as
president over the last six months.
He’s contradicted almost anything
he’s said, tries to suppress the
mail in vote by telling people it’s
fraudulent. Honestly it’s very scary
because he might not give up his
power if he loses the election.
Trump will deny the result and do
everything in his power to win,
which he has been doing for the
past four years.”
TRISTAN TIMPERS 12th grade
Joe is a senile old man who
even remember his name m
or less the false left ideologi
he will try to push upon us. N
he is not up for the job of pre
dency as he has done nothin
in his 47 years [in politics] an
will instead do worse for this
country. Unlike Trump, Biden
been prejudiced against peo
of color countless times and
supports the BLM moveme
to help him win the election.
URQUIDEZ LEVI 10th grad
T O R Y |
us the Donald
By ANI TUTUNJYAN | THE MIRROR EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
t treated fairly.”
t there is sysenforcement
ity of police
, but said he
e most racist
e up with.”
of the most
ged his mind,
g for racial
d busing was
cessary for the
laimed that it
of white and
o bar the Deducation,
ng schools to
on the racial
for the govfederal
sure was reed
s in a town
his year’s BLM
icized for his
tion and lack
rump called in
D.C. to police demonstrations. He
was heavily criticized after peaceful
protestors near the White House
were tear-gassed so that he could
stage a photo opportunity at a
church across the street.
In Portland, Oregon, he also
sent federal agents who clashed
with demonstrators every evening
over a several week period. Videos
surfaced on social media of federal
officers using unmarked vehicles
to grab protestors off downtown
Trump has signed an executive
order that would provide some
narrow police reforms including
the establishment of a national
database on police misconduct.
This order came after he faced
pressure to take action following
the death of George Floyd at the
hands of police.
Trump has rejected ideas to
defund police as “radical and dangerous,”
instead outlining programs
to hold police officers to higher
The president promised a ban
on chokeholds, except when the
officer believes his or her life is in
danger; more support for officers
who deal with the homeless, drug
addicts and the mentally ill, along
with social workers to help officers
better navigate these encounters.
However, his administration has
yet to take any action.
Although Trump rails against
defunding the police, in February
the Trump administration proposed
a 58 percent cut in the COPS
Hiring Program, a federal program
that supports police department
staffing. This is not the first time.
The administration has routinely
called for cuts to this program, only
to be shut down by Congress.
Despite some level of reform,
Trump’s other policies and rhetoric
seems to encourage violence from
This summer, he posted a tweet
that appeared to support violence
in which he said “When the looting
starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase
used by segregationists against
civil rights protestors. The president
later said he did not mean it
as a threat.
Trump has also repeatedly
empowered hate groups whose
remarks resonate with white supremacists.
During the first presidential
debate of 2020, the president did
not condemn white supremacists
and the alt-right, instead telling the
Proud Boys — a far-right and neofascist
male-only organization that
promotes and engages in political
violence — to “stand back and
stand by.” The group immediately
adopted the phrase, adding it to
Days after he declined to denounce
white supremacists which
sparked outrage among many
Americans, he told Fox News that
he condemns right-wing hate
groups such as the KKK and the
Trump has repeatedly referred
to the BLM movement as violent,
calling it “discriminatory” and “bad
for Black people.”
He described BLM protestors as
In July, the president tweeted
about New York City’s decision to
paint “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth
Avenue, calling it “a symbol of hate.”
American journalist Bob
Woodward and the author of
“Fear:Trump in the White House,”
asked Trump whether he felt
America “has systemic racism.”
At first the president responded
with “probably less here than most
places or less here than many
places.” But after he was pushed, he
admitted that yes, America does
have systemic racism. “I think it is
[in America]. It’s unfortunate, but I
think it is.”
This statement was released
only days after Trump visited
Kenosha, Wisconsin in the wake of
protests that erupted after Jacob
Blake was shot in the back seven
times by police, and completely
dismissed the “idea” of systemic
racism, instead saying the city has
been “ravaged by anti-police and
DISRUPTOR Trump’s promises
of narrow police reform have yet
to be enforced.
In no way, shape, or form is Donald
Trump fit or qualified to be a
two-term president, nor a one-term
president. He has grossly thrown
away the ideals of the nation, refused
to take action on coronavirus, left the
Paris Climate Accords, skyrocketed
unemployment due to the virus,
hurt our trade relations with China,
criticized NATO, sucked up to Russia,
influenced racial instability, literally
could not physically condemn white
supremacist movements, attempted
to suppress free media, lied to
America and so much more.”
ASHER TENENBAUM 9th grade
“I do think that he is qualified to
remain president of the United
States. While he is far from perfect,
I do believe he is the better
of the two.”.
‘‘KEVIN SANTIAGO 12th grade
I think he’s [Biden] a good
candidate and I do believe he
is qualified to be president.
He has values, he listens
to science, cares about the
well-being of people and he is
strong. I’m not saying this because
he served with Obama
but also because I’ve did my
research on him and he’s a
really good man.
ALCARAZ 11th grade
I believe that he [Biden] would be a terrible
president. He has many accounts
against him about pedophilia and a
president should never even be allowed
to run if they have that against them. I
am aware that Donald Trump does have
accusations against him but they are just
accusations, there isn’t proof that he did
or does that to anyone. Joe Biden has
proof of pedophilia. He talks to minors
in suggestive ways and touches them in
inappropriate ways even on live television.
For those reasons, he should not
only not be able to run for president, he
should be in jail.”
LEILAH GOINS 9th grade
10 | OCTOBER 2020 | | P R O & C O N |
TRUMP MUST GO
VOLUME 107 | ISSUE 1
Andre Rodas, Ani Tutunjyan
We’ve had enough.
We can’t take it any longer.
Chaos and deceit have become our norm.
Trump must go.
The American people managed to survive the last four years
under his presidency but we cannot endure much more.
The President of the United States has failed abysmally to
contain the covid-19 pandemic. He has inflamed racial tensions, attacked
women’s rights and made an embarrassment of the United
States on the world stage.
Trump knew as early as December how potentially deadly this
virus could be and yet he did nothing. In January, Trump remarked
“We do have a plan and we think it’s going to be handled very well.
We’ve already handled it very well … We’re in very good shape.”
And where are we now?
Seven months into staying home, into mandatory face-covering,
into online school, into missing our friends. Seven months of
disarray, fear, distraction and lies.
In February, Trump predicted the virus would disappear “like a
Not only has Trump failed to protect the United States from
this deadly virus — our death toll is the highest in the world, sitting
now at 219,000 — but he has failed to protect himself.
Since the beginning of the year, President Trump has downplayed
the danger and severity of this virus and now 219,000
Americans have paid the ultimate price for it. Were it not for his
excellent (and free of charge) healthcare, I am sure Trump would
have succumbed as well.
Part of the President’s treatment plan included stem cells from
an aborted fetus.
This was only weeks after Trump nominated his pick Amy
Coney Barrett, a staunchly “pro-life” conservative judge who has
been repeatedly accused of letting her religion steep too far into
her decision-making, to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The self-proclaimed “pro-life president” is not only a hypocrite,
but he is not even truly pro-life.
His atrocious covid-19 response which led to the loss of hundreds
of thousands of Americans has plainly demonstrated this.
Trump’s pro-life stance is deeply hypocritical, and clearly a
facade kept up to maintain his evangelical base.
He has promised the end of Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme
Court case which gave women the right to safe abortion, which 61
percent of Americans approve of according to a Pew survey.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade could be disastrous for women’s
Banning access to safe abortions does not stop abortions, it
only makes them more dangerous. Accidental pregnancy rates are
highest in countries where abortion is restricted.
If Trump was truly pro-life not only would he have not completely
failed in his covid-19 response, but he would also advocate
for universal healthcare coverage which could provide much
needed assistance to pregnant women, advance strong and
comprehensive sexual education and make contraception readily
It’s pretty hard to call yourself “pro-life” when you actively work
to tear children away from their parents and lock them in cages,
when you cut programs that feed hungry kids, when you stand by
while women — especially Black women — die in childbirth.
Trump has fanned the flames of racial tensions and signaled his
support repeatedly to white supremacist and other far-right hate
At the recent presidential debate, Trump not only refused to
condemn white supremacists and the alt-right, but he told the
Proud Boys — a xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and misogynistic
hate group whose members organized the 2017 Charlottesville
“Unite the Right” rally — to “stand back and stand by.”
During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, Trump
dismissed the rampant issues of police brutality and racial profiling
that ravage this country and claimed the lives of thousands of
We want a president that protects the rights of all Americans,
a president who has a strong moral compass and can set an example
for the rest of the country.
We want a president whose sentences aren’t grammatically
awkward, repetitive and full of lies.
We want a president who does not aspire to be a dictator and
admits to the country’s shortcomings.
What we see in 2020 is Trump’s America and it will not magically
change on Jan. 20, 2021.
Trump is a hypocritical, pathological liar who does not deserve
his place in the White House.
CURRENT EVENTS EDITOR
PRO & CON/SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR
ASSISTANT ONLINE EDITOR
Csarina “Nina” Jarencio
Bobbie Lynn Medrano
Mr. Ron Goins
DANGER TO DEMOCRACY
Re-electing President Trump for a
second term will leave America in
an irreparable state.
ABOUT US The Mirror is the student newspaper
of Van Nuys Senior High School in Van
Nuys, California, a district of Los Angeles,
published six times per year. Opinions
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and columns represent the views of the individual
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the views of The Mirror or the Editorial Board.
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THE MIRROR | IVAN DELGADO
theMIRROR | P R O & C O N | | OCTOBER 2020 |11
THE MIRROR | IVAN DELGADO
PRISONERS PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS | FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
A DIME Major
who are practically
work for nearly
Some have never had
a loved one labeled as
a bad guy by the legal
system or have never
experienced a loved one
being marginalized by
society or never had an
loved one incarcerated as
a convicted felon.
Those who have a friend or family member who has
PRO & CON EDITOR
been labeled a criminal by society have heard often disheartening
stories from behind bars.
One particular story could even be called modern-day
Prisoners are offered jobs to make money while serving
their sentence and to help remedy the boredom of
being locked up.
Would you take a job where you made 8 cents an
hour? What about 37 cents? How about 95 cents?
Inmates in the California prison system, some who
work for the Department of Corrections and others who
work for state-owned businesses make anywhere from
8 to 95 cents an hour. The highest paid prisoner-worker
makes almost 14 times less than the state’s minimum
wage of $13 an hour.
Supporters of prisoner labor argue that if prisoners
don’t want to work they can turn offers down, but this
may be easier said than done.
Prisoners without stable support systems from the
outside sometimes struggle to maintain a normal life behind
bars. Without any financial support from friends or
family, they often have no choice but to accept job offers
so they can save money to start over when they get out.
Or they can use the money to purchase goods such as
snacks and soap in prison.
An inmate might make a little money, but not nearly
enough for the work they do.
California state prisons charge $3.60 for chicken which
means that an inmate would have to work four to 45
hours – depending on the job and its pay – to enjoy a
piece of chicken.
The system is wrongfully overworking inmates and
rewarding them with fake luxuries that free individuals
enjoy without thinking twice about. Prison labor perpetuates
the idea that inmates aren’t a part of society.Prison
labor is unnecessary. Incarceration and isolation from the
outside world for years is punishment enough.
Which companies benefit from the slave labor of U.S.
McDonald’s, Starbucks and Macy’s are just a few of
many major corporations that benefit from the prisonindustrial
Some inmates pack beef, coffee or sew clothes.
How is this different from Asian or Central American
sweatshops, where laborers toil for pennies an hour?
Inmates are routinely used to fight California wildfires.
Is it justified to put prisoner’s lives on the line for cheap
Last year’s Camp wildfire couldn’t have been contained
without the help of inmates from the state’s
Conservation Camp Program. The best paid made only a
dollar an hour and weren’t eligible to work as firefighters
after their release. One firehouse engineer was paid only
37 cents an hour. Her check totalled a measly 56 dollars.
The governor recently signed a bill clearing the records
of inmate firefighters and enabling them to turn professional
Bill AB-2147 is opening new doors to those that have
long been marginalized in society and judged because of
their poor choices in the past.
It is a step in the right direction to allow more career
paths for prisoners as they integrate back into society.
But a society is judged on how they treat their most
A classroom where supporting students is a firing offense
Teachers serve a fundamental role in
molding the minds of our youth.
Whether students notice it or are willing
to admit it or not, they act like sponges
when placed in an educational environment.
From movie recommendations to
academic lessons, teachers exert a strong
influence on students, and by extension,
the communities they teach in.
From the student’s perspective, a teacher’s
job is to create a functional and supportive
learning environment, which is why
one teacher and her students were taken
by surprise when her principal ordered her
to remove posters that showed her support
for the LGBTQ+ community and the
Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
After her refusal to do so, the teacher
was placed on administrative leave.
This proposes the question of whether
or not teachers should participate in this
act. And if so, what are the limits to ensure
that educators aren’t overstepping.
In this case the punishment enacted
was unnecessary because she didn’t do
Nothing about what the teacher did
endangered her students or affected her
authority as a teacher. She was doing
what was expected of her — supporting
her students. She did this by displaying
posters that encouraged acceptance. She
was modelling open-mindedness for her
By enabling students to be part of the
conversation those students could then
contribute to active reform if they pleased –
advocating, informing, voting or protesting.
These are the kinds of conversations and
causes young people deserve to be a part of.
Teachers often tell us students that
they aren’t allowed to discuss their political
views in the classroom setting because
they want to prevent heated discussions
that get out of hand. This is a justifiable
reason for educators to remain neutral
on certain issues. But in instances where
educators are simply informing their
Educators can show support of movements
that are deemed inappropriate or
controversial without brainwashing or
forcing a set of beliefs upon their students.
There is a line that can be crossed but in
this instance there were no blurred or
TOO PROGRESSIVE Teachers risk losing their jobs for educating students about current events.
SOURCE | TAYLOR LIKIFA
There is no reason for Black and LG-
BTQ+ community members to have conditional
human rights. There is no reason
for crimes against these communities to
occur as often as they do or to be normalized
as often as they are.
There was no valid reason for any
teacher to be disciplined for showing
Black and LGBTQ+ students her support
The teacher was reinstated, but it’s important
to remember that the school district
would not have reversed itself without
public backlash, which included an online
petition with over 33,000 signatures.
The district was plain wrong. One
school administrator told the teacher that
the small town’s residents weren’t ready
for her progressive views.
Support for BLM and gay rights are a
matter of basic morality and principles —
What the BLM movement has exposed
is that too many Americans are uncaring,
unprincipled bigots. It has revealed just
how little American society has progressed
in terms of racial equality over the
last fifty years.
The school administration wanted to
suppress BLM and gay rights, but ironically
ended up shining more light on them.
12| OCTOBER 2020 | | A R T S & E N T E R T A I N M E N T |
By ANZHELA HARUTYUNYAN & BRIANA JASSO
THE MIRROR STAFF
Distance learning has created many challenges
for teachers and students who are
attempting to adapt in the most creative
It has been especially difficult for the
Performing Arts Department because of
the lack of physical interaction. There are
no more dance shows, choir performances
Students are unable to work one-onone
with teachers and classmates to perfect
technicalities, create performances
and collaborate ideas.
Despite these adversities, the Performing
Arts Department has paved a new way
of performing and practicing together.
Building a team of actors and actresses
virtually, theater teacher
Ms. Mollie Lief has crafted her
Zoom meetings to be effective and
In class, students do routine
check ins, warm-ups and games.
“I try not to be Zoom-boring,” Ms. Lief explained.
Currently teaching three levels of drama — beginner,
intermediate and advanced — Ms. Lief began
the school year with an Ensemble Building unit,
which is a team building exercise that aims to create
a safe space for the students to get to know each
Students have been working on personal storytelling
and vocal training, all essential aspects of
In the advanced drama class, students are
writing, performing and recording original audio
The audio dramas are short, scripted, narrative
podcasts made in groups with varying genres
including comedy and drama. Students are also
responsible for adding sound effects and editing
their podcasts to learn about the podcast-creating
Regardless of Ms. Lief’s efforts to make her
classes as interactive as possible, theater often requires
physical interaction, which is difficult during
“I’m trying to work movement into my Zoom
classroom as much as I can but it’s just not the
same,” Ms. Lief said.
Despite the current situation’s drawbacks, drama
students will participate in the Virtual Fall DTASC
(Drama Teachers Association of Southern California)
Theater Festival on Sunday, Nov. 15.
“At first I thought that taking theater online
would be kind of difficult since so much of theater is
physical contact and being face-to-face,” Advanced
Theater student Dakota Threats said. “So far we
have been able to still play ensemble games and
work on lessons through Zoom which Ms. Lief has
provided. I definitely prefer theater in-person but
online is manageable and still fun.”
Ms. Leif hints that she may have something new
and exciting cooking for the spring semester.
Aside from typical singing or keyboard
practice, students in choir
and piano are learning more
about music history, technique
and musicianship, as Ms. Brianne
Arevalo, the choir and piano
teacher, has been adjusting to the new virtual reality.
She starts all of her classes by playing a musical
selection for her students to help them understand
the material being studied in class.
Students learn about the history of instruments,
styles and composers.
“They gain a better perspective about the overall
goal for their sound and how to accomplish that in
all of their current and future repertoire,” she said.
During class, all the classes work to better their
technique and rehearse in preparation for upcoming
virtual performances and projects.
Piano students are now able to practice at home
thanks to the brand new keyboards the school has
The Vannaires and Chamber Singers are brushing
up on their musicianship and working on
recordings for planned virtual choir performances
which will be posted on the Vocal Department’s
YouTube channel that is still in the works.
Zoom meetings pose inevitable challenges and
frustrations, like lagging networks and poor internet
connections, which prevent students from rehearsing
To help combat this issue, Ms. Arevalo does her
warm up routines for all her classes muted to avoid
“We are trying to work around it the best we
can but there is no substitute for the inspiration
and creativity we can generate as human beings
together in the same space,” she said.
She also requires students to send in recordings
of their practices.
In an attempt to mimic typical classroom interactions
virtually, Ms. Arevalo sends feedback to each
student to help teach them skills and check their
“Being a performance class, it’s difficult to get the
same experience at home as in the classroom just
because you’re isolated from all the other voices,”
Chamber Singer Jake Stanley said. “A big part of
choir is listening to the other singers and other
parts, and virtual rehearsal isn’t very conducive to
that. However, we’re making the best of it that we
Making the best of her limited
situation, dance teacher Ms.
Reesa Partida continues her
pre-covid-19 dance class routine,
playing music and leading
warm ups. She spends
the rest of online class teaching techniques, combos
Teaching from her classroom on campus instead
of from home, Ms. Partida is able to utilize the extra
space to demonstrate dances.
“If the students can’t necessarily do everything
fully, they can still see what it’s supposed to look like,”
explained Ms. Partida.
With the annual Winter Dance Show cancelled,
her classes are focused on getting students to move
their bodies and take a break from the long hours of
sitting still during other classes.
“I am glad that we still get to have class every day
and that we get to be moving around,” Advanced
Jazz dancer Elizabeth Zepeda said.
The Musical Theater and Advanced Dance
classes are working on video performances.
“My goal is always to create strong dancers
who can express themselves through movement
no matter their level of technique, and that hasn’t
changed,” Ms. Partida said. “At the end of most
classes I ask my students if they sweat. If the answer
is ‘yes,’ then it’s been a good day.”
Being unable to give corrections and often only
seeing half of the students’ bodies through the
screen is challenging to Ms. Partida and her students.
“Dance is a visceral thing and not being together
changes the whole experience,” she said.
Despite the challenges, the dance classes are
working towards an upcoming performance.
Ms. Partida and Ms. Diane Hula, the second dance
teacher, are planning to hold meetings with small
groups of students. The meetings are for site-specific
work on campus with a select group of dancers.
These meetings will maintain social distancing
guidelines and all students will be required to wear
“I think the teachers are trying their best to give
us their best dance experience they can through a
camera,” Zepeda said. “It’s not the easiest to learn
choreography or work together just because Zoom
isn’t the clearest way of communicating, but right
now I think we are all just trying to come up with
new and creative ways to make dance work through
theMIRROR | A R T S & E N T E R T A I N M E N T | | OCTOBER 2020 |13
By KASEY KIM ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
In high school, students read numerous classics
and analyze the meaning behind these stories
which are centered around love, family, society
and growth. But not all novels are as thrilling as
teachers make them to be. Some of the reads
are enjoyable, while others are not. On a five
point scale, I rated some of the books I have
read in high school.
Music recommendations by
DYING 4 YOUR LOVE
Aalegra released her new single, “DY-
ING 4 YOUR LOVE,” in early July. The
song ventures into familiar territory,
following Aalegra as she simultaneously
questions and longs for a
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare AABBB
Centered around the forbidden love of two teenagers, Romeo
and Juliet encapsulates love and tragedy. The play’s Elizabethan
English was difficult to understand and the story of
star-crossed lovers was predictable because of the numerous
remakes of the movie. The only reason why it’s considered a
high school staple is to serve the purpose of warning freshmen
about the consequences of making bad decisions. 9th
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck AAABB
The Grapes of Wrath follows the journey of the Joad family
during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. In hopes to survive,
the Joad family moves from Oklahoma to California and
experiences the hardships and unfair treatments of migrant
families. The Grapes of Wrath provides context and understanding
of the Great Depression and the consequences of
such an economic recession. However, the book is extremely
long and at times reads a little slow. 11th grade novel
Throughout his first album TAKE TIME,
artist Giveon expresses his thoughts
on heartbreak, relationships and selfgrowth.
“FAVORITE MISTAKE” reflects
a secret affair he feels an extreme
connection to. This song digs into
the growing sensation of feelings and
affection over time.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald AAABB
Animal Farm by George Orwell AAAAB
Widely known for the movie remake, The Great Gatsby tells
the story of a heart broken rich “businessman” Jay Gatsby
and his attempt to be with his one and only love Daisy Buchanan.
The love story spirals down into an attempt to attain
the American Dream. The book is relatively short and it is a
fun quick read, but the ending is tragic and unsatisfying. 11th
Set on the Manor Farm, Animal Farm tells the story of
rebellious pigs who aim to create a utopian society where all
animals are equal. The story is not only interesting when read
without an understanding of its symbolism, but also insightful
and eye opening when read within the context of Russia
and the Soviet Union under Communist Party rule. Read in
sophomore year, the novel goes hand-in-hand with historical
events and figures taught in world history. 9th grade novel
The Key to Life on Earth
Creating an exciting, upbeat atmosphere,
McKenna addresses the
mundanity and hostility of life. As
the title loosely implies, “The Key to
Life on Earth” highlights life aspirations
and attempts to find what the
meaning of life actually is.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini AAAAA
Amir, an Afghan American recalls the memories of his childhood
in Afghanistan. After witnessing a traumatic incident
involving his best friend Hassan, Amir turns his eye away
from the event which develops into guilt and anguish. The
story jumps around between Amir’s childhood and his present
life filled with consequences and mental torment as a
result of him neglecting his best friend. The novel contrasts
his happy childhood life within a politically divided country
with his guilt-ridden life in a country of freedom. Amir’s story
touches on the meaning of family, friendship and betrayal.
Every chapter adds to the thickening plot and it is a guaranteed
page turner. 9th/10th grade novel
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens AAAAA
Money, wealth and status or family, love and relationships?
Great Expectations wasn’t the most amusing read, but the
message woven into the characters and conflicts warranted
reflection. Being rejected and humiliated by his crush, the
main character Pip decides to chase after what seemed like
the answer to creating his perfect life: money, wealth and
status. Along the way, he forgets the value of family and
friendship. It is a story of maturity which leaves us wondering:
what is the perfect life? 10th grade novel
Growing up in Woodlawn, Oregon,
Amine reflects his growth and
triumph in the music industry as he
“came a long way” by juxtaposing his
life in Oregon to his life after finding
success in the industry. He revealed
that the song was dedicated to his
recently incarcerated childhood
friend, and also paid tribute to his
role model Kobe Bryant.
14| OCTOBER 2020 | | A R T S & E N T E R T A I N M E N T |
COURTESY | RAINE TORRES
PRODUCING AND PERFORMING Singer-songwriter Raine Torres
wrote her latest release “Cold Coffee” in 30 minutes.
INSPIRATION in isolation
By KASEY KIM
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Quarantine may have been
an idle time for many,
but it was anything but
that for singer-songwriter
Raine Torres who wrote and produced
her new single “Cold Coffee.”
Released on Sept. 12, “Cold Coffee”
falls under the soft pop genre.
As a part of the GRAMMY Museum’s
Summer Session program for
high school songwriters, Torres was
assigned to write a song inspired by
the title “Cold Coffee” in 30 minutes.
Different from her usual relaxed
approach to songwriting, she
struggled with it at first, but soon
she stumbled upon the words that
made up her verses, pre-chorus and
She began by imagining cold coffee
sitting on the counter as a result of a
student being reluctant in doing the
work they need to complete.
Like many other high school
students, Torres is not a stranger to
She used this procrastination
which resulted in a mixture of happiness
and guilt to write her song.
“I saw coffee as this symbol of forcing
yourself awake, forcing yourself
to be productive,” she said. “I saw cold
coffee as this drive, simmering. I think
that, as you grow up, you’re expected
to always be working, to constantly
strive for success, but I wanted to say
that it’s okay to be a little lazy and just
chill out sometimes.”
Torres began writing the song like
she would any other: she sat down
and wrote phrases that encapsulated
“Sometimes a song comes out
right away, but usually it stays as a
phrase or a couple stanzas before I
finish it,” she remarks.
After understanding the direction
of her lyrics, she found the chords
and melodies that best expressed
“I’m honestly just saying I’m getting
tired of waking. I think I’m going
to stay in today, let my coffee cup go
cold. I don’t know what to say, maybe
I’m too old for this.”
With her lyrics in hand, she
worked with her friend in producing
the song. Meeting almost 10 times
in five- to eight-hour sessions within
the span of 4 weeks, Torres and her
Sometimes a song comes out
right away, but usually it stays
as a phrase or a couple stanzas
before I finish it.”
friend played around with the vocals
and arrangement until they were
satisfied with the single.
“I almost didn’t release it because
it felt like it was never going to feel
right, but eventually we got to a point
where we were happy with how it
However, Torres’ musical journey
began long before the taskless hours
of social distancing.
Growing up in a musical family,
Torres began singing and playing instruments
at a young age. Her musical
interest sparked when she picked
up the trumpet.
Her overall interest in music eventually
led her to write songs.
“I used to write silly little songs
when I was little with my sister, but I
actually started writing songs more
seriously after a unit on poetry in 8th
grade,” Torres said. “I wrote a lot of
sonnets and villanelles which I set to
music just for fun.”
Inspired by her everyday surroundings
and occurrences, Torres uses
music as a place to relay her emotions,
problems, thoughts and feelings. Her
lyrics and songs become valuable
timestamps in her life, capturing specific
moments and feelings forever.
Along with singing and writing
music, Torres also began producing
music to personally mold her lyrics
“I like having my hand on all aspects
of my music as of now, but I’m
trying to widen my horizons when it
comes to working with other people.”
Currently working on an EP (extended
play), she hopes to have a full
length album by the time she graduates
Torres’ songs are available on
her Instagram @singing_intheraine,
TikTok @raynetorrez and Spotify and
Apple Music under Raine. There are
also unofficial releases on her You-
Tube channel Raine T.
“It’s crazy that people actually listen
to the music I make in my room and
I’m so grateful to everyone who has.”
theMIRROR | A T H L E T I C S |
| OCTOBER 2020 |15
Sports returning for charters, LAUSD still down
By ANDRE DAVANCENS
THE MIRROR SPORTS EDITOR
No first downs. No screaming fans. No
Homecoming game or parade. No aces or
faults. No spectators. No competitions.
Covid-19 has shut down the state, the city
and the schools. And along with the schools, it has shut
down all prep sports competitions.
This fall/winter season, football, volleyball, basketball,
aquatic sports, wrestling, golf, tennis, track and field, among
other sports have been put on hiatus. The spring doesn’t look
much better. As of right now, LAUSD has no certain plans.
But, drastic changes will be made to how sports will
return and how they will operate.
The possibility of sports returning soon is low but not
impossible. “You gotta go by what the district says as a
whole,” the school’s athletic director Dan Lev said. “They’re
saying go forward in December. That’s it and nothing’s
guaranteed right now until we know what’s going on.”
To try to stay in shape some student athletes are
working out independently. “Working out alone makes
you more independent.” senior Samira Negrete, who is on
the varsity track and field team, said.
“You don’t have anyone else telling you what to do.
You need to have that initiative to get up and put in
everything you’ve got. When we come back that work will
show.” she concluded.
Other teams have student-run practices outside of
school. “Occasionally we will get together and practice
outside with a grass net,” Jake Stanley, captain of the
varsity boys volleyball team, said. “We all wear masks,
sanitize, and keep our distance to make sure everyone is
safe. Everything we do is self-directed.”
Some teams hold Zoom practices made up of group
stretches and home-friendly workouts, but this solution
is not well-received by all student athletes.
“I believe virtual practices are a waste of time,” Bryan
Merida, team captain of the boys wrestling team, said. “I
don’t believe I will wrestle this school year regardless if
schools open up which sucks — I hate it. I was so excited
for the upcoming season and now I won’t get a last season.”
LAUSD’s only long term plan right now is to arm coaches
with a temperature gun for temperature checks before
practices and games — when competition resumes. If a
student has a fever they will be sent home or will be denied
entry. When student athletes visit from other schools, they
will be held to the same safety standards.
Coaches will have a tabby sheet at every practice to
record athletes’ temperatures and answers to questions
such as whether they have been in contact with anyone
who has covid-19 or if they have been sick recently.
Positive or symptomatic students will not be penalized.
“If you’re sick, you’re sick,” Director Levy said. “How
could we punish you because you’re sick?”
Once an excluded student tests negative he or she will
be able to return to practice.
During in-person practices students will be required to
wear masks at all times.
Anyone who cannot wear a mask will be required to
maintain six feet of distance from others.
During matches students will be required to wear masks
if possible. As a secondary precaution if wearing a mask
is not possible all students will be required to fill out the
covid-19 questionnaire and will need a temperature check.
“As much as I’d like to be able to play senior year, I
don’t think the experience would be the same because of
covid,” varsity golfer Daria Sabar said.
“Senior year is always a big deal for any athletics team,
so it’s sad that seniors this year won’t be able to play. That
being said I don’t think that athletics has a future this
year even though the plan is to start up in December. Covid
isn’t under control and LAUSD seems to be apprehensive
about reopening,” she continued.
“To be honest it’s strange but, hopefully we are allowed
to play. There is so much uncertainty especially for us seniors,”
varsity football defensive end Harman Gakhal added.
When will things get back to normal for student athletes?
Not anytime in the near future, according to Mr. Levy.
“If you guys don’t come back until [next] season, no one’s
gonna play anything.”
As of right now, Lake Balboa Birmingham is the first
independent charter school to launch workouts, beating
LAUSD schools by at least two weeks. Conditioning for
football and volleyball athletes begin Monday.
With covid-19 cases projected to surge in the coming
months, athletes and fans can be assured that campus
sports won’t return until at least 2021 at the earliest.
PEXELS | KAROLINA GRABOWSKA
VIRTUAL TRAINING Teachers
and students are finding ways to
stay healthy during the covid-19
By MELANIE CONTRERAS
& ANGELINA GEVORGYAN
THE MIRROR STAFF
The idea of staying home
from school and having
time to engage in
personal interests and
hobbies was the dream for most
students. Covid-19 has made this
a reality for more than thirty-nine
million Californians, who have had
to adjust to drab life in quarantine.
Despite the increased time individuals
are spending in their homes,
many students’ physical health is
Many people have become more
susceptible to not exercising regularly.
“Since physical activities are limited
due to quarantine, I feel that many
students are not partaking in exercising,”
Physical Education teacher Ms.
Maria Renard said.
Small spaces, large families and
more obstacles of that nature are
often overlooked factors for students’
“Having a small space can be very
difficult for me because sometimes
it can result in me not being able to
complete my full workout,” freshman
Karen Cordon said.
However, students’ greatest challenge
is finding motivation to exercise.
“Unfortunately my family doesn’t
like to exercise, so I’m just surrounded
by people that dont want to do it.”
Karyme Garcia, captain of the girls
swim team, said. “I lose motivation because
I have nobody to workout with
or to push me to work out.”
This negative mindset towards
exercise is harmful for individuals,
especially students, because physical
activity is known to be very beneficial
for physical, emotional and
Exercising lowers the risk of diseases
such as obesity, type 2 diabetes
and high blood pressure. Staying
active also improves mood and sleep
and reduces stress and anxiety.
Ms. Renard advises students to
commit to a consistent workout
Quarantine has provided countless obstacles to
getting regular exercise, but the Physical Education
Department is trying to keep students active.
regimen by finding physical activities
they actually enjoy like playing sports,
dancing or jumping rope.
“Find a workout you enjoy and do
it as if your health depends on it.”
She also recommends trying short,
self-directed exercises to better fit
into students’ busy schedules.
“I recommend the 7-Minute Workout
app. This is an app that contains
many great home workouts and
keeps track of your monthly progress,”
Ms. Renard said. “You can find
great short workouts online.”
The P.E. Department has been
working on modifying exercises to
best accommodate students’ environment
in their classes.
P.E. classes have been practicing
high-intensity interval training (HIIT),
conditioning and other easy-to-follow
“I am using Google slides to
introduce my lessons and include
embedded YouTube videos on fitness,
charts, agendas and more,” Ms.
Renard said. “I use Zoom to interact
and exercise with my students using
Spotify for music.”
Through Zoom, teachers are able
to give students feedback, correct exercise
techniques and motivate them
to perform at their best.
“It [P.E.] gives me more comfortable
space to workout without the
feeling of judgement from my peers,”
Cordon, a P.E. student in Mr. Min Woo
So’s fifth period said. “However, I can’t
always follow along with the workouts
the teacher assigns us to do.”
“It has been challenging to teach
students fitness and sports in an
online setting,” Ms. Renard said.
“Learning online is not the same and
I can’t wait to go back and work with
everyone in person again.”
16 | OCTOBER 2020 | | A T H L E T I C S |
By ANDRE DAVANCENS
THE MIRROR SPORTS EDITOR
Bookworm, musician, gamer
and team captain of the
VNHS Volleyball team are all
descrptions of Jake Stanley.
With a 6’2” physique that resembles
a Greek demi-god, Stanley has prepared
himself for a huge upcoming season.
How long have you been playing volleyball?
“I started when I was in seventh grade
making this my sixth year.”
What made you get into volleyball so
“I had played sports when I was youngersuch
as baseball and soccer but I’d kind
of bounced between those and never
took to one. After a two year break from
How was it joining the team as a freshman
“Well, I’d actually gone out to see a game
of the boys team when I was in eighth
grade. After that game, I had already
decided to go to VNHS so I introduced
myself to the coach.
He was starting up the program at
that time, he had just taken over that year
from the previous coach. It was a fairly
simple process to get into the program
after that, Coach Omri knew who I was
so he invited me to play a bit. It was kind
of informal but, at tryouts it was all about
getting to know the kids that you have.
He just wanted to get people into the
program, as any sports program does
really. He saw I had prior experience so he
decided to put me on the varsity team.”
Was there any uncertainty going in as a
What was your progression from freshman
to senior team captain?
I’d always always had that sort of senior
role because I’d been there a year before
my current teammates. I took a lot of
roles outside of the game. I was making
sure everyone was doing okay mentally.
How has your academic life been outside
“Sophomore year I had to really double
down on the amount of time I was spending
Junior year was the same way, outside
of practicing and school I had very little
time other than doing homework and
eating. It got to be a little tough to deal
with but because I love the sport as much
as I do, it was a little easier. Even if I didn’t
get to rest as much as maybe would be
the summer I did a lot of work putting
together videos and reaching out to colleges.
I have not committed to any college
yet but, I do have several colleges that are
interested in having me in their program
or at least would be interested to see me
as a walk on, should I decide to go to their
Out of the schools that I’ve reached
out to, those who have responded back
so far are top D3 schools. The Milwaukee
School of Engineering has shown interest
in me and want me to visit their school
sometime in November. I don’t know if
that’s going to happen still, though due to
covid-19. I had also contacted Santa Cruz,
unfortunately to get back to me, they’re
also a top school.
The universities that have shown an
interest in considering me as a walk on
would be UCSD, which is a D1 program,
THE MIRROR | ILLUSTRATION BY ANDRE DAVANCENS; STANLEY COURTESY VARSITY VOLLEYBALL
SPIKE BALL Stanley takes on
the role of middle hitter and
at times opposite hitter.
Varsity team captain
Jake Stanley has
volleyball in his veins
sports, my parents pushed me to play
sports again. That sport happened to be
Why’d you stick with it? What made it
different from the other sports?
“I just found it to be a very interesting
sport. It’s very dynamic and complicated.
It requires a very, very precise control
over movements, both in the air and on
Was volleyball love at first sight or did
you grow into it?
“My first club year was in eighth grade
and that’s when I really took a liking
It was my ninth grade year though
when I decided that it was something that
I really wanted to stick with and that I
loved to do.”
“Well I was the only freshman on the varsity
team and I was one of the few freshmen
who joined that year. Going into it. I
thought it was good and I felt that I was
made welcome. There were a lot of good
kids on the team my first year.”
Is there a sense of pride starting in this
“Yeah, I’m just proud of my coach for doing
all that he’s done. He has done a whole
lot for the program. In the short time
that he’s been here, he set up our website
on his own, he videotapes most of our
games — all of them for this year. And he’s
been responsible for getting us into a lot
of tournaments and really expanding the
level of play and amount of play we have
inside and outside of the season.
I’m just thankful for all that he’s done. ”
It was a lot of work but, I think it was
definitely worth it. I strive for academic
success as much as I do athletic success.
I have to reiterate, I’m a studentathlete
but student always comes first.
At one point in your life athletics will
end. But what you’ve learned in school
will be carried with you, at least for
What colleges are you looking at?
“As much as I’ve been doing work to put
myself out there, I started fairly late in
the recruitment game. Volleyball recruiting
for men’s volleyball starts as early as
eighth grade. I was still learning the sport
when I was in eighth grade, I’m still learning
the sport now.
Even junior year is a bit late to start the
recruitment process. But I have reached
out to a lot of colleges recently. Over
and Harvard. But so far, that’s still sort of
in the middle, neither here nor there. They
need to see more of me, and I need to
show them a bit more.”
What is your dream school?
“I have several but if we are looking
overall, UCLA just because it’s such a solid
school. It’s close and I like big schools, just
because I’ve grown up in a fairly big city.
Stanford is also great unfortunately, they
stopped their men’s volleyball program
after this year. The Board of Trustees decided
to strike it down along with 12 other
programs, but who knows, maybe they’ll
Harvard would be great, Princeton
would be great, UCSD and UC Irvine
would be great, all these big name schools.
They are all big schools, all good schools,
all solid volleyball schools as well.”