The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | Oct 2020 | Volume 107 |Issue 1


The student newspaper at Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys (Los Angeles), California. This is Volume 107, Issue 1, October 2020.


6 14



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




PRO | CON 10




Trump and Biden face off

PAGE 8/9


| OCTOBER 2020 |




theMIRROR | C U R R E N T E V E N T S | | OCTOBER 2020 |3

How far

away are

we from a





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

on humans.

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

against coronavirus.

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


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

Gasparian said.


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.



Immune response

determined in animals

Drug is tested on cell and

and given to mice and rats

to see if it produces an

immune response.



Safety and dosage:

100-200 volunteers

Determines vaccine’s

effect on cells, whether it

works, whether there are

side effects and the

correct dosage.



Response simulation:

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

side effects.



4| OCTOBER 2020 |

| C U R R E N T E V E N T S |



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



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


PILOTING A RETURN Superintendent

Beutner has called for covid-19 testing to

return students to LAUSD campuses.

LAUSD’s website.

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

contact tracing.

Testing for the whole year will cost the district about

$300 per student, with each individual test coming out to

about $30.

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.”


political ads


before election



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

the situation.

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



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



The cuts and colors of quarantine



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

we please.

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

every time.

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

of days.

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

it off.

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




| P E R S P E C T I V E |


“One size fits none”

Controversy surrounds

retailer Brandy Melville


I saw one or

two Asian and

Black models


while scrolling

down, but

almost all the

girls are the

same white,

skinny and

small models.”




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

and white.

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

beauty standards

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

Leeza Dangazyan.

“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

that matter.”

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

they deserve.”


ALL WHITE The skinny white girls modeling Brandy Melville fashions on their website.


theMIRROR | P E R S P E C T I V E | | OCTOBER 2020 |7


VIRTUAL STRESS What once seemed

like a dream come true has students

frustrated at home.



From fantasy

to nightmare



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

already installed.

“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


Gentle Joe vers

GENTLE JOE Biden’s criminal

justice policies are not as liberal

as people like to think.

The November elections

are inching

closer and American

voters remain

divided and unsure over their

upcoming decision.

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

racial justice.

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

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supports peaceful pr

are marching for BLM

Biden has a proble

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but after backlash fro

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arguing against busin


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segregation was the

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Black community pr

Biden also voted t

partment of Health, E

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provide information

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Although the mea

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Now Biden says “t

changed drastically,”

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hall in Philadelphia.

Republican Donald T

Since the start of t

protests, President D

has been harshly crit

handling of the situa

of action by critics on

Earlier this year, T

the National Guard t









you could vote or are

voting, who would you

vote for in the 2020

presidential election?

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.”



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.


T O R Y |


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rump called in

o Washington,

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

Portland streets.

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

law enforcement.

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

their logo.

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

Proud Boys.

Trump has repeatedly referred

to the BLM movement as violent,

calling it “discriminatory” and “bad

for Black people.”

He described BLM protestors as

“dangerous thugs.”

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

anti-America riots.”

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.”


“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 |






Andre Rodas, Ani Tutunjyan


Aaron Mejia

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


Some miracle.

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

Black Americans.

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.


Antony Nepeyvoda


Shaan Bhatia


Julia Pfau


Gwen Langi


Kasey Kim


Andre Davancens


Ivan Delgado


Sevak Harutyunyan


Isabela Diaz


Angela Proca


Nathan Han


Alison Arevalo

Eleonora Badikyan

Adriana Contreras

Melanie Contreras

Daniel Espinoza

Sam Eusebio

Itzel Gallardo

Jerry Garcia

Angelina Gevorgyan

Anzhela Harutyunyan

Csarina “Nina” Jarencio

Briana Jasso

Andy Joachin

Aiza Kang

Terrence Lazo

Monica Mazariegos

Bobbie Lynn Medrano

Owen Mitchell

Angel Rendon

Felipe Rodriguez

Andrew Vega

Angelica Venturina

Jazlyn Xocoxic

Canella Yuson


Mr. Ron Goins


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

expressed in bylined commentary articles

and columns represent the views of the individual

writer and do not necessarily reflect

the views of The Mirror or the Editorial Board.

DISTRIBUTION Copies are free to students,

faculty and staff and are available in

Room 112, Second Floor, Main Building.

READER PARTICIPATION Unsigned editorials

represent the majority opinion of the

Editorial Board. Letters to the Editor may

be delivered to Room 112 or mailed to The

Mirror, 6535 Cedros Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91411.

Letters must be signed and may be edited

for space to conform to The Mirror style

and format.

ADVERTISING Advertising questions may

be directed to Isabela Diaz at idiaz0064@, or by telephoning (818)

788-6800. Publication of an advertisement

does not imply endorsement of the product

or service by the newspaper or the school.

MEMBERSHIPS National Scholastic Press

Association (NSPA), Columbia Scholastic

Press Association (CSPA), Southern California

Journalism Educators Association

(SCJEA) and Los Angeles Press Club.


theMIRROR | P R O & C O N | | OCTOBER 2020 |11




A DIME Major

corporations are

exploiting felons

who are practically

forced to

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



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

after release.

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

anything wrong.

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.


crossed lines.

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

and solidarity.

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 —

not politics.

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 |


Performing Arts






Distance learning has created many challenges

for teachers and students who are

attempting to adapt in the most creative

ways possible.

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

or plays.

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

virtual class.

“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

in sync.

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

individual progress.

“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

and choreography.

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

a mask.

“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

a screen.”

theMIRROR | A R T S & E N T E R T A I N M E N T | | OCTOBER 2020 |13

Rating the



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



Snoh Aalegra

Genre: R&B/Soul

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

distant love.

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

grade novel

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



Genre: R&B/Soul

Throughout his first album TAKE TIME,

artist Giveon expresses his thoughts

on heartbreak, relationships and selfgrowth.


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

grade novel

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

Declan Mckenna

Genre: Alternative/Indie

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



Genre: Rap

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 |



PRODUCING AND PERFORMING Singer-songwriter Raine Torres

wrote her latest release “Cold Coffee” in 30 minutes.

INSPIRATION in isolation



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

her inspiration.

“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

those lyrics.

“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

into songs.

“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

high school.

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



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.



healthy in



and students are finding ways to

stay healthy during the covid-19





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

actually suffering.

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’

limited exercise.

“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

mental health.

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 |




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

varsity player?

“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

of sports?

“Sophomore year I had to really double

down on the amount of time I was spending

on homework.

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,


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

the ground.”

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

to it.

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

some time.”

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.”

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