The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | March 2021 | Volume 107 |Issue 3


The student-produced newspaper at Van Nuys High School in Los Angeles, California. Awarded the prestigious NSPA Pacemaker Award, the CSPA Silver Crown and 2021 1st place SCJEA Newspaper.

2LOGGING OFF A student shares

her experience going seven days

without social media

8 16

PHONY ALLYSHIP Some influencers

do whatever it takes for likes, including

faking support for a movement


cost of idolizing billionaires

may not be worth it


MARCH 2021 | Van Nuys High School | Van Nuys, California





PRO | CON 16





students and teachers. Over a year later, teachers and students are gearing up for the

long-awaited return to campus. PAGE 10


| MARCH 2021 |










was not going to use social

media for an entire week.

The first two nights at 2 a.m.

I rolled around restless because

the thought of grabbing my phone and

opening TikTok consumed my mind. I

stayed up tossing and turning thinking

about who was commenting on what

funny video or who recently posted.

There were many times when I almost

gave up and wanted to redownload

Instagram to stay in the loop.

But I was up for the challenge.

My Modern Literature teacher, Mr.

Aaron Stell, assigned my class to either

give up our phones entirely or give up

social media for a week as part of an

anti-consumer challenge he conducts

annually so teenagers can confront

their constant connection to the digital


I had been wanting to rid myself

from social media for a while. Now I

had the perfect opportunity.

I had hobbies I wanted to dabble

into, such as learning a new language,

learning more about math since I am

not the best at it and planning out my

future. I’d hoped to play around with

these activities for so long but had

failed to even begin because I was yet

to confront my biggest enemy: my

own phone.

I’d spend up to 10 hours on my

phone a day but I was always complaining

about not having enough time

for my interests. I knew deep down

this was not the case. It was finally

time to confront the truth.

During my social media cleanse I

got rid of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter

and TikTok in order to release myself

from the stress and negativity that the

internet and social media bring.

It was difficult not to t be on social

media because it was a part of my

everyday routine. I wanted to check

in on friends and family as well as

my favorite celebrities. I genuinely

missed seeing both entertaining and

educational videos and listening to

TikTok songs that were in my head


Instead of scrolling endlessly for

hours, I decided to do productive

activities throughout the day.

I dedicated my time away from my

phone to take care of myself mentally

and physically. I went on daily walks

around my neighborhood and enjoyed

the nature I had long neglected in my

time inside during quarantine.

I read Many Lives, Many Masters by

Brian L. Weiss, M.D which recalls the

past traumas of his patients and highlights

the journey towards recovery. I

finished reading the book quite quickly

because I had no handheld distractions.

Throughout the week, I honed my

language skills. I completed my French

course on Duolingo and kicked off an

Italian course. While I wouldn’t call

myself fluent in French after learning

it on Duolingo, I do consider myself a

conversational French expert now.

I even got the chance to practice

driving for my upcoming driving test.

Most importantly, I focused on

school and got my grades on track

by completing missing assignments. I

also kept up with my current ones.

The first two nights were the most

difficult because I was used to staying

up late at night on my phone — oftentimes

as late as 3 a.m. All I wanted

to do was grab my phone and watch

something to ease myself into what I

thought was quality sleep.

What I realized following this experiment

is that having my phone nearby

cost me my restful nights. No matter

how many hours I slept, it was never

enough. But once I put my phone

down, I found myself going to bed at 9

p.m. or 10 p.m. and actually waking up

rejuvenated and satisfied.

The week went by quicker than I

had anticipated. While the first two

days were a rocky start, I breezed

through the rest of the week. It felt

nice to disconnect and just focus on

myself for once. So much of my overall

mood was determined by what I was

seeing online.

I did, sadly, miss the announcement

of Ariana Grande’s deluxe “thank you,

next” album which I didn’t learn about

until a week later. In my 10 years of

being her fan, I have never missed an

announcement on an album, a single

or a feature on a song until now.

I have redownloaded my apps since

the experiment ended. But I’ve learned

to control my activity and only use the

apps when it benefits my mental health.

I no longer feel the need to be on

social media the minute I wake up and

right before going to sleep.

If or when I find myself falling into

the trap of using social media as a

constant distraction, I’ll certainly do

this cleanse again.





Staring at a screen for more than eight

hours a day is definitely not easy on the

eyes. A year into the pandemic, people’s

eyes are regularly tired from staring at a

brightly-colored screen for hours on end

for school or work. The solution? Bluelight-blocking

glasses. These glasses

have specially-crafted lenses that filter

out the blue light given off from digital

screens to reduce eye strain and even

improve sleep since blue light also

tampers with the circadian rhythm that

regulates sleep. Stop screens from ruining

your day and choose from our pick of

blue-light-blocking glasses.


$11.99 from Amazon

Available in almost

15 different colors,

these glasses are

best for gaming

since they are less

likely to alter the

color of your games.


$12.25 from Amazon

With its unique

design, these glasses

are sure to draw attention.

J+S Vision

$21.00 from Amazon

Best for daytime, these glasses

block out 90 percent of the most

harmful blue light.


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

| MARCH 2021 |3

Variants vs. vaccines:

Charting California’s covid-19 outbreak




The current number of confirmed

covid-19 cases has

reached an all time high, progressing

to a total of 3,528,795

in California, and surpassing a figure of

55,330 deaths resulting from the virus.

Parallel to the rest of the world, California

has endured innumerable difficulties on

account of the pandemic in the past year

and partaken in a continual race to combat

emerging variants with effective vaccines.

Shortly after the world became aware of

covid-19, the distant virus originating from

Wuhan, China rapidly spread throughout

the globe, plaguing countless countries. On

March 19, 2020, California issued a statewide

mandatory stay-at-home order when

there were approximately 13,133 confirmed

cases present in the state.

With the number of infections perpetually

increasing and the summer of 2020

approaching, it was rumored that the

warm temperatures and humidity of the

season would aid in bringing an end to the

pandemic, at least in California.

Contrary to these theories, the heat

brought by the summer months had an

insignificant effect on the virus. By July,

California was reported to have the highest

number of confirmed cases in the

United States, exceeding a total of roughly

400,000 cases at the time. As the sunfilled

season concluded, it became evident

that covid-19 was nothing like the common


This occurrence did not surprise Infectious

Disease Specialist Dr. Russell Klein.

He presumes that the spread of covid-19 is

instead more directly linked to the density

of a population within an area.

“I didn’t expect this virus to be affected

by seasonal changes,” he said. “It really has

more to do with peoples’ proximity to one

another. In communities where there are

dense populations and compact living

situations, there has been a much higher

rate of disease.”

As scientists accurately predicted, a

surge of infections struck the public in the

fall. In the month of October, the California

Department of Public Health declared that

more than 810,000 individuals within the

state were plagued with the virus, doubling

the number of cases since summer 2020.

Despite being advised by public health

officials to continue wearing masks and

maintaining physical distance from others,

a multitude of people gathered in

hazardous numbers to celebrate national

holidays, many even failing to wear masks.

This considerably augmented the risk

of individuals contracting covid-19, and

resulted in a substantial increase of cases

several weeks proceeding the assemblies;

throughout the month of January, the

number of cases surged from approximately

2,345,909 to 3,258,706 in the state.

It is now hypothesized that emergent

variants of the covid-19 virus may have

significantly contributed to this oppressive

surge of infections.

“Nobody really knows why the surge

came or went away so fast,” Klein said.

March 12, 2020






Total covid-19

deaths reported

in California over

the past year

Since the first case of covid-19

in California on March 7, 2020,

the state has seen over 57,501

covid-related deaths.




“But a lot of people think the variants were

part of the problem. The surge’s deceleration

could possibly be attributed to the


The original virus strain classified as

SARS-CoV-2, which represents “severe

acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus

2”, initially caused the covid-19 disease in

humans. Throughout the ongoing spread

of covid-19, this virus strain has sporadically

mutated, causing thousands of slight,

yet noticeable changes to its genetic

composition, potentially making the virus

more threatening and infectious.

Currently, experts are focusing their

efforts towards countering three specific

variants. Originating from the United

Kingdom, a variant classified as B.1.1.7 is

predominant in a great portion of Britain

and has spread to over 50 countries

around the globe including the United

States. In addition, the B.1.351 variant,

better known as the South African strain,

is now detected in more than 20 other

countries also including the United States

and a more recent variant regarded as P.1

first noted in Brazil has now been found

in the United States and numerous other

countries as well.

These mutations have primarily affected

the virus’s spike protein which assists

it in entering and binding to human

cells and augments the amount of virus

a person emanates. And so, experts claim

that these variants may be considerably

more contagious, and may influence the

response of antibodies differently than

preliminary covid-19 variants. Specifically,

research has indicated that the United

Kingdom variant has the capacity to be

approximately between 30 to 50 percent

more transmissible.

“Viruses always mutate, that’s what

they do,” Klein said. “This has caused

genetic alterations to the amino acid

makeup of the spike protein. But there are

certain substitutions of amino acid which

induce a higher degree of resistance and

possibly lethality.”

At the moment, three covid-19 vaccines

have been deemed safe and effective for

the public’s use by the Food and Drug Administration

(FDA). The Pfizer-BioNTech

vaccine was the first to be approved by

the FDA with a 95 percent effectiveness

rate, followed by Mod-



erna with 94.1 percent


effectiveness. Johnson

& Johnson

is the most








vaccine to be approved for public distribution.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

which has been proven safe and efficient

for individuals who are 16 years of age

or older, the Moderna and Johnson &

Johnson covid-19 vaccines are considered

effective and safe for people who are 18

years of age or older.

“Being a healthcare provider, I received

the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in January,”

Klein said. “As far as reaction, after the first

shot I was fine. Proceeding the second

shot I had a mild headache and fatigue,

but it was gone by the next day.”

According to the state of California’s

covid-19 vaccine distribution plan, people

can receive vaccinations from state vaccine

hubs and federal mass vaccination

sites, as well as pharmacies, health clinics

and medical providers. However, such

supplies are limited and only available

to those eligible under each phase of the

plan; at the moment, essential workers in

agriculture, food, child care, education and

emergency services along with health care

workers are qualified to be vaccinated.

Adults who are 65 years of age or older

are also eligible to receive the vaccine in

addition to staff and residents of nursing

homes and assisted living facilities.

These contemporary vaccines have

been developed based on earlier versions

of covid-19; although the present covid-19

vaccines have consistently proven to be

effective against the previously existing

variants, experts are concerned that these

new variants might cause some complications.

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and

Johnson & Johnson vaccines have demonstrated

the same level of efficacy towards

the U.K. variant as against the original virus.

However, all three have been proven to

have reduced antibody levels when used

to counter the South African strain.

“As the vaccines really show no activity

against it, there is concern surrounding

the South African variant,” Klein said.

In regards to the Brazilian strain, the

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has indicated the

same level of efficacy against it as towards

the original virus, whereas the Johnson &

Johnson vaccine evidenced reduced levels

of antibodies. In contrast, not enough data

and statistics have been gathered relating

to the Moderna vaccine’s effects on the

variant in order to deduce a presumption.

There is worry that the Brazilian

strain may be able to evade the current

vaccines since it has genetic changes

that make it more contagious,

resistant and possibly lethal,” he

said. “But there is not enough

data yet to know for certain

how vaccines that we have

now are going to be effective

against such





The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines

are presently in the process of being

modified and altered in order to better

combat such variants as they continue to


Despite these medical advancements,

Dr. Russell Klein advises individuals to

continue behaving in a safe and cautious


The Centers for Disease Control currently

says that if you and others have

been fully vaccinated, then you can take

off your mask around those individuals

and do not have to social distance,” he

said. “For this reason people are becoming

more relaxed and less careful. But theoretically,

people who are vaccinated can

actually transmit the virus asymptomatically,

so I think people shouldn’t let their

guard down.”

As more adapted variants arise, scientists

around the world remain dedicated

to studying and monitoring

these changes

and mutations in genetic

structure to slow

the spread of the virus,

in addition to ultimately

terminating the

terrorizing plague

that is referred to

as covid-19.

Total cases of

covid-19 reported

in California over

the past year

March 12, 2021



With one of the highest number of overall

covid-19 cases in the U.S., California

has had close to 3,700,000 positive

cases since the start of the pandemic.









4| MARCH 2021 | | C U R R E N T E V E N T S |


90 days into his term...





Since his inauguration on Jan. 20,

President Joe Biden has made

an effort to tackle the nation’s

most pressing issues, as well as

reversing the dubious policies instituted

by Donald Trump. So far Biden has signed

more than 50 executive orders, most of

which regard matters such as immigration,

covid-19, economics and the environment.

“I think that our new president is off to

a great start,” junior Andy Lopez said. “I’ve

already heard about some of the executive

orders he’s planning on signing and ones

he has already done.”

Working to resolve immigration concerns,

Biden has ceased construction of

the border wall by terminating the national

emergency declaration used to fund it.

“I’m glad to hear that Biden has cancelled

the wall construction,” senior Kevin Rivera

said. “It was such a stupid idea to initiate it.”

Biden has also revoked a proclamation

which limited legal immigration during

the pandemic, rescinded Trump’s order

warranting the separation of families at

the border, repealed policies that limited

refugee admissions as well as called for

additional vetting, and reversed Trump’s

development of immigration enforcement

within the United States.

Biden has aslo preserved the Deferred

Action for Childhood Arrivals program,

which protects undocumented immigrants

who arrived to the US as children

and proposed the idea that immigration

legislation should ecompass a direct pathway

to citizenship for recipients of the

esteemed program.

Aspiring to address political and economic

causes of migration, he has collaborated

with various organizations to offer

safety and security for individuals seeking

asylum, as well as to ensure that Central

American asylum seekers are provided

with legal access to the United States.

Despite these advancements, illegally

crossing the border into the United States

is still regarded as a misdemeanor, thereby

resulting in the ongoing separation of immigrant


In order to promote equality, Biden

has issued an executive order prohibiting

discrimination in the workplace relating

to the basis of gender identity or sexual

orientation, and has undone the ban

on transgender Americans entering

the military previously implemented

by the Trump administration. He has

also noted the increase in dsicrimination

against Pacific Islanders and Asian

Americans over the course of the past

year. In response, Biden has instructed

the Department of Justice to work

with AAPI [Asian American and Pacific

Islander] communities to preclude the

continuation of harassment, as well as

directed the Department of Health and

Human Services to contemplate issuing

guidelines regarding the most efficient

practices in improving such prejudiced

conditions and behavior.

“Our country has advanced and grown

so much that it’s hard to believe there is

still discrimination, you would think we

would have outgrown that stupid behavior,”

senior Susan Miller said. “I’m glad to hear

that Biden placed that order prohibiting

discrimination in the workplace and has

undone the transgender military ban. However,

much is yet to be done on this issue.”

Prioritizing the resolution of issues

regarding covid-19, the majority of Biden’s

executive actions in implementing new

policies have been targeted towards countering

the effects of the pandemic.

Biden has mandated masks be worn in

airports and various modes of transportation

including trains, airplanes, ride share/

taxi services, intercity buses and maritime

vessels. Covid-19 travel restrictions have

also been reinstated for persons traveling

to the United States from countries

such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and

South Africa. Furthermore, the restrictions

require international travelers to

provide proof of a negative covid-19 test

preceding their arrival or return.

“I believe that President Biden has been

trying his best to counter covid-19 with

the signing of executive orders in relation

to distributing vaccines and mandating

masks,” junior Tanni Nandi said. “He has

definitely shed light on this pandemic,

allowing people to have hope that things

will gradually get better.”

He improved transparency between

the government and citizens with inforation

about the analysis of covid-19 data

and statistics. Biden has also pushed

teh Pandemic Testing Board in hopes of

expanding the capacity of covid-19 testing

in the United States, and instructed

the Federal Emergency Management

Agency to allocate increased reimbursement

to states in order to compensate

for the cost of emergency supplies and

National Guard personnel. In addition,

Biden established the position of covid-19

Response Coordinator, whose role is to

manage efforts towards the production

and distribution of vaccines alongside

other medical equipment, and proceeded

to accelerate the delivery and manufacturing

of supplies for vaccinations, testing,

and personal protective equipment.

Focused on improving the nation’s economic

status, Biden notably extended the

existing nationwide moratorium regarding

foreclosures and evictions until at least

March 31, along with the pause on student

loan payments and interest for individuals

with federal student loans until Sep 30.

Biden also signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus

relief package, which contributed a round

of $1400 stimulus checks to unemployed


Despite the commotion and disarray

occurring during these times, Biden has

consistently prioritized the wellbeing of

the environment. He rejoined the nation

to the Paris climate accord; an international

agreement to limit global warming

and address the climate change crisis.

IN ACTION Since President

Biden’s inauguration

three months ago, he has

begun tackling issues

from covid-19 prevention

to immigration.

“I’m pleased to hear that we have rejoined

the Paris climate accord,” sophomore

Arianna Kim said. “We have an important

job to take care of our planet and

make sure it’s habitable for our children

and future generations.”

Furthmore, Biden reffered to climate

change as an imperative element that

must be taken into account across national

security and United States foreign

policy. He later introduced a new target for

greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Biden also proceeded to annul the

Keystone Pipeline oil system as well as instruct

agencies to assess and revoke more

than roughly 100 of Trump’s past actions

in regards to the environment.

Biden’s actions have not all been peaceable,

however. It became known to the

public recently that Iran initiated rocket

attacks on United States targets located in

Iraq. In retaliation, the President ordered

airstrikes directed towards buildings.

Biden’s objective was to convey a message

to Iran; that he would not tolerate

attacks directed towards United States

personnel in Iraq, regardless of whether a

delicate diplomatic juncture was in place.

“I hope that it only gets better from

here, seeing as Trump’s term was complete

chaos,” Lopez said. “We were all tired

of Trump and are ready for some change.”


The Biden administration has

“preserve[d] and fortif[ied]” Deferred

Action for Childhood Arrivals

keeping Dreamers — the undocumented

immigrants brought to,

and raised in, the United States

by their parents — from being



President Biden signed a $1.9

trillion coronavirus relief package

which includes $1,400 stimulus

checks for millions of Americans.

Biden has also successfully met his

goal of administering 100 million

vaccines in the U.S. in less than

100 days.


On his first day in office, Biden

signed an executive order banning

discrimination on the basis

of sexual orientation and gender

identity. This included reversing

the ban against transgendered

people serving in the military.


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

| MARCH 2021 |5

Tidy room, tidy mind: Tips for decluttering

Sometimes, a cozy space can become claustrophobic. Here are ways

to help you get started in organizing cluttered spaces at home.



You’re at home, making your way to your

bedroom with your phone in your hand.

The moment you step into the room,

your toe bangs straight into something

hard and you’re yelping in pain.

As you hold onto the door knob to keep your balance,

your eyes trail down the floor to see your fifth

grade science project. About to angrily kick the thing

away out of frustration, you quickly notice that it’s not

just one thing blocking your way.

Your entire bedroom floor was a literal obstacle

course strewn with dirty clothing piles, hangers scattered

across every corner, shoes you haven’t worn in

years, and old homework papers from middle school.

Waiting for the mess to clean itself is not the

solution. For the organizationally-challenged, getting

rid of clutter is no easy feat, even when there’s not a

pandemic to use as another excuse not to do anything

about it.

Not having enough time is a common excuse for

the disarray, but it can become so overwhelming that

it becomes impossible to even begin to figure out how

to fix it.

Sometimes, items that mean a lot are kept laying

around because a person just can’t let go of them.

Other times, people hoard unnecessary objects they

don’t need and forget about them as they pick up

dust. Either way, it may be difficult to sort through

the squalor, causing frustration and anger and still

leaving a disorderly environment.

Everyone has different styles that help to par

down on their belongings. Fortunately, there are numerous

methods to help tackle the problem. Here are

four ways to order the disorder.

1. Turn the chore of cleaning out a room

into a game

The game works like this: clear out a room and designate

four areas. The first area is titled “stuff.” Dump

all of the items that should be scanned through and

organized here. Get a headstart by having all the

items laid out to pinpoint exactly where the

excess stuff is.

The second area is “keep.” Items that can’t

be parted from are placed here.

The third area is “sell.” This is where any

objects or clothing items that are no longer

wanted or needed are put. These

items can be sold or donated to


Lastly, the fourth area

is “throw.” All of

the items that

are useless

or take up


space can be

placed here and

thrown away..

To play the game, set a 10-30 minute timer on the

phone. Once the timer is set, start with the items that

can easily be sorted into any pile. For example, the expensive

necklace someone might have received as a

gift from their grandmother goes straight to “keep.” A

dusty, tattered comic book randomly picked up from

the elementary school book fair years ago definitely

needs to be sold.

Once the timer rings, take a step back to scan the

room to see how much is already finished within the

time limit. If the room needs more work, crank up

the timer for an hour. Otherwise, take it easy and keep

working with small time intervals until it’s comfortable

enough to go longer.

Next, it’s time to tackle the harder items that

require more thought and discussion before they

go into a specific pile. The most important thing to

remember is to make sure that each item is placed in

a designated zone. This may take an hour or two, but

it’s worth it in the end.

Depending on how much stuff there is and how

difficult it is to determine where each item goes, the

time spent organizing will differ. Taking a picture of

the room before and after decluttering can help show

how much gets accomplished.

2. Write about important items before

getting rid of them

Another method of decluttering uses writing. Take

sentimental items and record why they may have

been valuable or important before throwing them

away or donating them. Even though sometimes

people want to keep items laced with nostalgia, they

often just take up space. Letting out all the feelings associated

with sentimental items can not only cleanse

a room, but cleanse the mind as well.

Group all of the sentimental items together and

take a photo of them. Consider blogging about them

on a forum or website. Write about the enjoyable

memories associated with each item as a way of letting


There is a neat way to keep smaller sentimental

objects like graduation tassels, ticket stubs from

traveling, or photo booth pictures with friends from

the mall around without making a mess. Take a

Mason jar from the kitchen, stick the objects inside,

then place the jar anywhere on a dresser or study

desk. Decorate the jar to personalize it and make it

aesthetically pleasing. Having a cute, simple capsule

full of nostalgia can act like an antidepressant. Feel

free to open it every once in a while to look at the old


3. Reorganize clothing by style,

color and type

An overflowing closet, cabinet or dresser full of

clothes can make it hard to find exactly what to wear.

Being organized can make it easier to get dressed.

Get rid of clothing rarely worn or not worn at all.

Keep only the items that work best. They should be

fashionable, flattering and most of all they should fit.

Everything else should be sold or donated to homeless

shelters or charities. In the meantime, store the

discarded clothing in grocery bags or large trash bags.

Organizing clothing by color, style or type can help

make a closet look cleaner and more visually appealing.

Items are more visible and easily accessible in

their own section. Organize shoes by type and place

sandals and sneakers in separate bins on the floor for

easy access, while formal shoes can be placed on a

higher shelf to prevent them from getting dusty..

4. Clean up neglected spaces such as a

nightstand and study desk

One last way to declutter is by cleaning up a nightstand

or study desk. Oftentimes, these areas get the

most cluttered needing a lot of organization. To begin,

clear the nightstand or desk completely wiping

down with a disinfecting wipe to get rid of germs

and dirt that has built up over time. Then grab

the most essential items like pens, textbooks

and notebooks for study desks or lip balm

and hand cream for nightstands and

place the items neatly where they


Decluttering can be physically,

emotionally and mentally rigorous

but it can also be liberating. It

may take weeks, months, or

even years to fully declutter,

and that’s okay. The process

can take time and effort, but

don’t get discouraged. Clearing

the clutter on the outside

can help clear the clutter

on the inside.


6| MARCH 2021 | | P E R S P E C T I V E |


MASK ON A homeless person,

with a mask just below his nose,

is putting away his belongings

before he transfers to another

area to stay at for the day.



While most have the advantage of

quarantining from the comfort

of their home, the homeless

population does not share that

same luxury. Those who are experiencing homelessness

have a higher chance of being exposed

to and contracting the coronavirus due to their

lack of shelter and clean resources.

Following the spread of covid-19 in early 2020,

employment declined significantly. According to

the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2.6 million

people lost their jobs between March and April

last year. The stay-at-home order enacted by

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los

Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti placed preventative

guidelines on a multitude of businesses.


Photos by Ivan Delgado | The Mirror Photo Editor


DAILY ROUTINE An unidentified

person poses for a portrait while

organizing his items to make

space for his bed.

Various establishments were legally obligated

to temporarily shut down in order to slow the

spread of the virus.

This led to a decrease in sales, which ultimately

caused some businesses to go and others

to downsize. Although the federal government

has provided some aid to businesses, many

renting space still had trouble paying their rent

while landlords were still allowed to evict them.

The result is an increase in homeless population


The Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC)

explains that because many people who are

homeless are older adults or have underlying

medical conditions, they often are at an increased

risk for severe illness than the general


Part of this disadvantage can be explained

by the living conditions that most homeless

individuals often face, including living in close

proximity to one another and having little to no

access to quality medical care.

Covid-19 testing for homeless individuals is

limited and not easily accessible. With homelessness

rates in Los Angeles being so high, an estimated

66,436 people, the lack of care and testing

can be dangerous.

According to the CDC, those who are homeless

and wish to get tested must meet the

“criteria for testing” which includes having

symptoms for covid-19 or being in recent contact

with someone who has tested positive for

the virus. The criteria must then be approved by

their healthcare provider. After gaining approval,


people are organizing their

possessions since the police

repeatedly kicked them out due

to the large homeless population

in the area.

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

| MARCH 2021 |7

homeless individuals will be directed to homeless

healthcare clinics or street medicine clinics

to receive free testing.

For those without a healthcare provider, a

covid-19 test can be provided by some street

medicine clinics and shelters.

Treatment is also more difficult to get if a

homeless person becomes ill with covid-19 because

many struggle to afford over-the-counter

medication to relieve symptoms and are not

always guaranteed a bed to rest in while recovering.

The CDC recommends that homeless people

with coronavirus isolate themselves from others

and wear a face mask. In terms of sanitation,

there is not much that can be done due to the

lack of resource accessibility.

If masks and other supplies are needed, most

homeless shelters can help provide these resources.

Homeless shelters continue to provide

housing for the homeless despite the pandemic

due to the increased need for shelter. This need

sprouts from the higher risk of contracting the

virus when sleeping on the street and coming

into contact with high numbers of individuals.

Social distancing and masks are required in

shelters to maintain the safety of both staff and

the homeless.

Recently, various homeless shelters and

clinics across California have begun administering

the coronavirus vaccine for the homeless,

which can aid in increasing safety for homeless


How to help the homeless

California has the third-highest homeless population in the US making the

issue of homelessness undoubtedly a concern. Though it may seem like

the extent to which you can offer support is limited, you can play a part in

helping those experiencing homelessness.

A simple greeting: Saying a friendly “Good Morning!” or “Have a nice

day!” to homeless individuals is a small, impactful act of kindness

which anyone can do while walking down the street.

Donating: Giving clothing, food and supplies to your local homeless

shelters helps the homeless population receive essential resources.

Giving: If you have the financial means, purchasing a snack or drink for

someone in need can make their day.

Volunteering: Spending time helping out at a homeless shelter or local

soup kitchen is helpful as these facilities are often understaffed.

Respect: Treating the homeless without judgement or prejudice helps

change the issue of inhumane behavior towards homeless people.


An unidentified person is

waiting for the bus while

also taking care of her belongings

which she carries

with her on a daily basis.

8| MARCH 2021 | | P E R S P E C T I V E |


Lights, camera, action, announcements

Good morning, Van Nuys! I’m your host...

A little pandemic doesn’t

stop the morning

announcements crew

from keeping students

updated on school news.



It’s a gloomy Tuesday you have been

sitting on a stiff chair in your room

for the last two hours. Exhausted

from your workload, you slump

down in your seat and click to join your

advisory period on Zoom. As you turn on

your camera, your teacher presses play on

a pre-recorded video.

“Good morning Van Nuys!”

You spend the next few minutes listening

to updates on campus news. “Parent

conferences are this afternoon”: helpful

reminder. “The online talent show is coming

up”: sounds interesting. Maybe this

Tuesday isn’t so gloomy after all.

During the advisory period on Tuesdays

and Thursdays, students listen to

morning announcements presented by

hosts Devorah Porter and Wellington


With an abundance of events taking place

at all times from Zoom spirit week to FAFSA

news, morning announcements serve as a

tool for students to stay in the loop.

Since advisory is a mandatory class

for all students, Mr. Thomas McCluskey’s

video production class, which is responsible

for creating the morning announcement

videos, found it to be the most

effective time slot to get a wider audience

of students to view the announcements

during online learning. Outside of advisory,

students can access these announcements

through Van Nuys High School’s

YouTube page.

The morning announcements staff

has felt the pressure of the pandemic and

implemented a new way to continue keeping

students updated despite challenges.

Due to restrictions surrounding on

campus activities, the announcements are

filmed by the anchors, who have an at home

set up. Developing a script, filming and editing

can prove to be time consuming.

The whole process takes at least a

couple hours.” Upstill said. “From setting

up all of the gear to perfecting the cameras,

lighting and green screen, it’s very time


Porter uses a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5

digital camera with a 14-140mm zoom

lens while Upstill uses a Canon C100.

The morning announcements backdrop

shows the front of campus, which

requires the anchors film using a green

screen set up. Throughout the videos,

there are relevant photo pop-ups and

infographics which elaborate on what is

being discussed. While these elements create

a visually appealing experience for the

audience, they require elaborate behind

the scenes effort.

To maintain structure in the development

of the morning announcements,

there is a group chat used to decide who

will cover different stories and a Remind

which allows film teacher Mr. McCluskey to

communicate with the anchors and team.

“A major downside is the communication

gap and the fact that we don’t receive

or directly give each other feedback online.”

Porter said.

The announcement scripts are a mix of

submitted items and staff-written news

reports. Most topics covered are submitted

through the designated Google Sheets

document where requests are turned in

along with details on the topics. The morning

announcements staff will then review

the form submissions and add them to

the script. Occasionally, Upstill and Porter

will write some of their segments if they

are concerning staff and clubs, or if school

staff has requested coverage and not formally

submitted to the Google form.

“Since it’s so independent, it’s a lot more

work for a single person,” Upstill said. “I

think the biggest obstacle I face when

recording announcements is just finding

enough time in my day to do everything

properly and to the highest of my abilities.”

Despite the extensive process to

produce the announcements, Porter and

Upstill find positive aspects within the

current situation.

“I personally enjoy getting to work from

the comfort of my home as well as being

able to use my personal computers rather

than the school’s devices.” Porter said.

Using devices more familiar to the anchors

serves as an efficient way to make

the filming, production and editing more


Student participation in clubs and

activities have decreased with the inconvenience

the pandemic presents. Upstill

views the announcements as an impactful

resource that “helps keep school spirit up

during COVID.”

While the staff shares that creating the

announcements can be difficult at times,

they still view it as a spirited and informative

project that is going strong.

STAYING IN THE LOOP Hosts Wellington Upstill (L) and Devorah Porter update students about school events during their morning announcements segment every Tuesday and Thursday.


Performative Activism: Disingenuous allyship is trending



American influencer and singer Madison

Beer held a cardboard cutout with the

handwritten message “NO FREEDOM

TIL WE’RE EQUAL SIGN” written in big,

black letters at a Black Lives Matter protest last June.

What seemed to be a sign of solidarity turned out

to be a classic influencer photo op.

Beer is not the only person to have feigned activism

and support over the last year.

Many social media influencers have followed suit

especially during the eruption of the Black Lives

Matter protests. Other celebrities like Kylie Jenner,

Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevigne refused to use

their platform to share important resources and

instead chose to post a black square under the

#BlackLivesMatter tag which drowned out important


Disapproval came straight towards rich celebrities’

barely sufficient donations to the cause. The

self-indulgent actions of many other popular figures

have been harshly criticized by users on Instagram

and Twitter, who have created bail funds and participated

in praxis outside of the internet. To some

people, these influencers are taking advantage of

crucial problems to better their reputation and create

a persona that will bring forth an audience to

praise them for their “efforts.”

Senior Isabel Mejia doesn’t see these influencers’

efforts as genuine; instead, she sees their efforts as

calculating attempts to rake in approval from others.

“A serious movement shouldn’t be used as an opportunity

for you to boost your reputation,” Mejia said.

They use these situations as a way of gaining a larger

audience and looking like a better person. They’re

probably extremely ignorant about these matters and

only talk about them for the likes and views.”

During the pandemic, those who couldn’t leave

their homes found that spreading awareness and

important information about injustices against

Black and other communities of color through social

media was the alternative to protesting outside.

Unfortunately, there seems to be another group of

people online that see activism as a trend, and “hop

on the train” only to direct the attention to themselves

or spread misinformation.

This phenomenon of fake activism, best known

as “performative activism,” is when individuals only

act as “allies” for their own convenience and personal

gain, especially to avoid backlash and criticism.

Sophomore Ahmed Alsubhi is outraged by individuals

co-opting important hashtags and using

them for their own benefit.

“It’s honestly stupid because they’re using the ‘Defund

the Police’ and ‘Abolish ICE’ hashtags to bring

attention to themselves,” Alsubhi said. “It’s narcissistic

and disgusting of them to have to use people’s

pain and suffering to bring attention to their page.”

While some would rather look the other way

when it comes to influencers and even friends,

Junior Elliana Alferez will not. She feels it’s only right

that she calls out the hypocrisy many of her peers

show on social media.

“A lot of these so-called “allies” will be the same

people making all types of racist jokes with their

friends in group chats,” Alferez said. “It’s pure hypocrisy

because they’ll yell about hating racists on their

story, but literally end up being just as bad as them.”

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

| MARCH 2021 |9

The pandemic

has made social

media a must-have in order

to avoid loneliness, but it’s not

without peril. Spending more

time online increases chances

of encountering lurking cyberbullies

and identity scammers.


The good and the bad




Everything feels like a natural

reflex; flicking through several

apps at once to reply to comments

and messages, scrolling

through your TikTok and Twitter feed

for hours while you like and share the

dozens of posts that appear. Minutes

turn into hours, and just like your phone

battery, you’re already drained and low

on energy.

Over the past year, the pandemic has

forced teenagers into isolation making

connecting with others in-person — such

as hanging out — much harder. For those

with pre-existing relationships, both romantic

and platonic, social media makes

it easy to connect using features such as

direct messaging, the ability to send posts

to one another, and video calls. For those

who have difficulty connecting with others

in real life, social media is a great way

to meet new people with apps such as

Yubo or even direct messaging through

social media platforms. In the case of

senior Chris Tran the features found

on social media has made him feel less

lonely as his “friends are always online to

keep me company.”

While having the ability to connect

people across the globe, social media

apps also provide a platform for young

entrepreneurs, artists and musicians.

Whether it’s making business connections,

promoting brands, flaunting talent,

or seeking opportunities for employment,

all can be accomplished with just

a few clicks. Many popular celebrities

and influencers today have gotten their

big break through social networking on

Youtube, Instagram, and Tiktok. By taking

advantage of social networking, people

gain easier access to partnerships, brand

deals, advertising services, and larger

audiences that they couldn’t obtain as

easily in person.

For those looking to actively participate

in social justice and other sociopolitical

movements, social media proves

to be a powerful tool which can raise

awareness of an issue and can influence

real life change. Regardless of how many

followers users have, reposting photos,

videos, as well as links to campaigns, petitions,

and charities can encourage people

to take action offline.

As more people initiate online conversations

and create posts about significant

social issues, larger audiences across

the globe are likely to see and spread the

word. Educating herself about various

events going on around the world is very

important to sophomore Jenna de Rosales,

who thinks that the internet makes

it easier for people who struggle to speak

up a chance to have their voice heard.

“Social media increases the awareness

of information regarding social issues in

the world by spreading websites, threads,

posts and videos all over these different

platforms,” Rosales said. “I think it allows

us to educate ourselves. It gives people a

way to raise their voice so that they can

fight for what they believe in, or fight for

what should happen.”

Despite the many benefits to having

social media, there are many concerns

among teenagers and parents alike that

social media causes more harm than


The dark side of the internet is often

hidden behind a mask of glamour. Having

unmoderated and unrestricted access

to social media can result in teenagers

engaging in behavior such as cyberbullying,

interacting with users who lie about

their identity, and can even stumble upon

inappropriate content.

According to the Pew Research Center’s

2018 survey of U.S. teens, one in six

teenagers have experienced at least one

of six different forms of abusive behavior

online: name calling (42 percent), spreading

false rumors (32 percent), receiving

unsolicited explicit images (25 percent),

someone making physical threats (16 percent)

and having explicit images of them

shared without their consent (7 percent).

The modern area of social media has

made it easy to hide behind a screen post

anything, no matter how offensive or


Another negative effect that social

media has on teenagers especially is the

feelings that arise such as insecurity and

worthlessness. as they compare themselves

to online influencers and celebrities.

The contrast between edited lives and

unedited lives can create a competition

to project the perfect image.

According to study published in the

journal, JAMA Psychiatry, teenagers

who spend more than three hours a day

on social media are at a heightened risk

of mental health problems, particularly

internalizing issues.

An unrealistic self-image can cause

depression, anxiety, aggression, antisocial

behavior or other mental health issues.

Those not the only things teens have

Abusive online behavior reported by teens

According to a 2018 national survey, one out of six teenagers reported experiencing at least

one of the following forms of abusive behavior:




Spreading false rumors

Receiving unsolicited explicit images

Someone making physical threats

Someone making physical threats


to worry about. Social media platforms

aren’t just limited to users such as

friends, family, influencers, and celebrities;

it is available for everyone to use.

Users are vulnerable to strangers online

who may be hackers, scammers, or even

catfishes. Not all conversations with

strangers can lead to possible friendships.

These strange users tend to fake

their identities by creating an account

with fake information such as false

names and even fake posts to trick unsuspecting


Unknown users also may try to start a

conversation with you by sending private

messages. Vertiz explained that being

cautious of the people you meet on social

media is important. One small mishap

can cause a disaster that someone might

not be able to come back from.

“Faster communication can make it

more convenient to talk to people you

know,” Vertiz said. “It also however makes

it easier for people you don’t know to talk

to you, like creeps and scammers. People

aren’t always who they claim to be, so

you learn to be extra careful of the people

you find online.”

Aside from the possibility of interacting

with a catfish, another result of interacting

with strangers is being vulnerable

to hacking. A common hack to look out

for is when these unknown users send

messages which contain links with false

web addresses. When an unsuspecting

user clicks on the link, the person on the

other end gains access to important information

such as residential addresses

and phone numbers by collecting a user’s

IP address.

While there are positive aspects to

social media such as user-friendly interfaces,

the ability to talk with friends and

family and to have personalized feeds,

there is a risk in overlooking the darker

side of it. By using social media in moderation,

being careful about the things

you post on social media, being aware

of who is following you and who you are

following and being vigilant about who is

able to access your information can help

avoid the unwanted issues that come

with the internet.

10/11 | MARCH 2021 | | C O V E R S



Back to t




As schools plan to reopen,

students and teachers prepare

to jump back into old

routines that now have a

twist. Although masks and

social distancing will be

enforced, hybrid learning

seems to be the first step

to returning to traditional


After over a year of Zoom glitches and

poor internet connectivity, LAUSD is

scheduled to open its doors to in-person

learning for high school students

in late April.

With Los Angeles County’s covid-19

cases decreasing, the county has moved into the less-restrictive

red tier as of March 15, permitting partial reopening

of businesses and schools.

Parents who opt for the hybrid-learning model may send

their children to school, but they will be following standard

safety guidelines. Masks must be worn while in the classroom

and on school grounds (except when eating or drinking),

while waiting to enter campus and when leaving.

Students and teachers will be subject to daily health

checks which will be conducted using the Daily Pass, an

online tool created by LAUSD that coordinates health

checks, COVID-19 tests and vaccinations together in one

app. The app also allows students to schedule covid-19

tests and receive the test results.

While it is still to be determined how often students will

need to be tested for covid-19, Principal Yolanda Gardea

projects every two weeks. Teachers, on the other hand, will

be tested once a week. Testing will not be available on-site

but the Daily Pass app will help to schedule available appointments

at nearby locations.

As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention (CDC), students will be grouped in cohorts,

each in a specific building on campus. A cohort is a distinct

group that stays together throughout the entire school day

to limit mixing between students and staff to help prevent

the spread of the virus.

Students will be grouped based on their Advisory period,

either H or L, and will remain in the classroom with

their Advisory teacher.

Mondays will alternate between Advisory H and L,

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be Advisory H only and

Wednesdays and Fridays will be Advisory L only. This

alternating schedule will give students taking advantage

of the hybrid-learning model an opportunity to meet inperson

two to three times a week.

The class schedule will remain the same for both the

hybrid-learning and online-only models.

The most debated aspect of a return to in-person learning

among students and teachers is the absence of direct

teaching. This decision, along with teachers returning only

after they have received the covid-19 vaccine and have had

enough time for maximum immunity to take effect, was a

part of the negotiation reached between the United Teachers

Los Angeles (UTLA) and the District to ensure teachers’

Back to the BASICS: Continued on p.12

What do teachers

think about returning

to the classroom?

We asked a few:

Ms. Wanda Moore

Social Science Teacher

How do you feel about schools reopening?

Part of me is excited and I am a little nervous.

I’ve taught for over 30 years and it still

feels like a new experience so I am definitely


Do you feel like the district’s approach to

reopening schools is safe for teachers?

I don’t spend time thinking about things

that are beyond my control. I haven’t

thought about it a lot, I’d have to see the actual

classroom set up and how it’s going to

look before I would feel comfortable giving

an answer. Basically we are told what to do.

Since I don’t have any control over it I’ll just

deal with the situation as I find it but I’m not

terribly worried about my safety. I am thankful

that the district is providing sites that are

closeby to get a vaccine. I am actually in the

process right now. I’m so glad I don’t have to

make that decision. I should be vaccinated

and fully protected by the time that school


Ms. Kyrie Martin

Math Teacher

How do you feel about schools reopening?

I would be excited to teach in-person having

been vaccinated. This plan is much less

palatable with the Zoom rooms.

Do you feel like the district’s approach to

reopening schools is safe for teachers?

I feel safe but I understand if parents don’t.

I have to return if I want to keep my job,

which I do.

Ms. Diana Fuhrman

Science Teacher

How do you feel about schools reopening?

I’ve been really wanting school to open. I

was really convinced that we would be sitting

in a classroom right now with everybody

vaccinated and it just didn’t happen

that way. I wrote in a survey I would go back

if everyone was vaccinated. We’re all social

creatures that need to be in the classroom

but I don’t want a health risk. I understand

that some people need to be in the classroom

because the discipline and not being

distracted by other things that are at home

but right now I’m not quite ready.

Do you feel like the district’s approach to

reopening schools is safe for teachers?

If everybody is vaccinated then yes, but not

everybody is vaccinated. If I can’t instruct

you then I don’t see the point of me going

back into a classroom just to do what I’m

doing right here and being safe. I know I

can be safe here at home and if I’m not

able to instruct you and all of you are just

in my room for me to just babysit or watch

you, I’m not a fan of that. So for me I do not

think it’s a safe endeavor to have a class full

of kids. I know they’re wearing their masks,

which is a good thing but I’m not a hundred

percent confident.




12 | MARCH 2021 |

| C O V E R S T O R Y |



How an LAUSD hybrid-model classroom might look:

In the classroom: Students are taught with a

lesson delivered by the teacher over Zoom in

a quiet space with a stable internet connection

provided through the school WiFi.

Teacher teaches: The teacher delivers their

lesson online to all students via Zoom, even

if students are in the classroom. There will be

little to no individual interaction with students

in the classroom.


At home: On alternating days, students

continue to learn online through a lesson

delivered over Zoom and complete independent

assignments from home.

Back to the BASICS: Continued from p.11

safety upon returning to school.

So while students will be in the

classroom with their advisory teacher,

all direct teaching will be prohibited

except for the advisory period itself.

Instead, students will attend their

online classes with provided Chromebooks

and noise-canceling headphones.

Teachers will also be teaching

their classes through their laptops

with their masks on at all times.

Students will not actively participate

in P.E. or other physical activity

classes, like music or dance in the

hybrid model to avoid chaos within

the classroom. They will complete

alternate assignments instead.

“It will probably need some getting

used to,” Principal Gardea said.

The primary purpose of reopening

schools is for students to have a stable

internet connection and a quiet space

in which they can concentrate on

participating in all their classes.

“Coming to school will allow them

[students] to use the internet at

school and make it so they don’t drop

from class and can use both their

video and audio at the same time,”

Principal Gardea said.

Students whose Advisory teacher

has not yet returned will be grouped

with a teacher who is on campus.

Breakfast will be served in a Grab

’n Go bag from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

For lunch, students will be dismissed

by building to pick up food from the

cafeteria and will eat it outside while

maintaining social distance.

Along with ensuring classrooms

follow social distancing guidelines

of a six-feet between chairs to limit

the spread of covid-19, the school will

also be adding designated routes for

student entrance and exits.

Chairs, tables, doorknobs, light

switches, handrails and other hightouch

surfaces will be sanitized daily

along with classroom materials and

supplies and restroom surfaces and

sink handles. Air conditioning filters

will be changed monthly for proper

air circulation.

All drinking fountains will be closed

and may not be used.

If a student on campus tests positive

for covid-19, everyone within

the same cohort and building will be

notified immediately and asked to

quarantine. Additionally, everyone

on campus will be notified. Contact

tracing through the Daily Pass app

will ensure everyone in contact with

the individual is notified and quarantined.

Los Angeles County officials announced

a timeline for students

under 18 to be vaccinated on March

17. All students ages 16 and over will

become qualified for the covid-19 vaccine

starting May 1.

This may open the possibility of hybrid

learning including direct teaching

although LAUSD has yet to release a

statement in regards to the matter.

As of March 19, of the 1375 surveys

that have been returned, only 17

percent of students have chosen the

hybrid-learning model.

While, so far, a majority of parents

are choosing to continue the online-only

learning model, schools will still reopen.

Although there is no set date for

reopening, there is still the possibility

that schools will reopen even later

than April based on changes to levels

of the virus in coming weeks,.

OPINION I’m not risking my health just to

attend online school in the classroom


Guest columnist

What seemingly started as an extended

spring break turned into a year-long

debacle. But now there seems to be light

at the end of the tunnel. Except, that light

doesn’t shine as bright as I’d hope.

Upon hearing our school was going to adopt a hybrid

model, I was excited. I’d finally get the chance to be back in

the classroom and receive in-person learning.

Soon after I realized that the hybrid model is still virtual

online learning but at school.

Students are going to be locked in one stuffy classroom

all day just to be sitting in front of the same laptop screens

with headphones in their ears. Teachers will lose the luxury

of teaching from the comfort of their own homes and

instead will have to wear a mask the entire time all while


trying to engage students virtually.

Teachers and students will all be in the same room but

they will still be distant, just as before.

As someone who has the privilege of a relatively stable

internet connection and a quiet workspace, there is no

point in me returning when I can be learning from home


I also don’t want to lose the opportunity to dance which

I wouldn’t be able to do with the hybrid model because students

in the classroom will not participate in P.E. or other

physical activities.

I’m also concerned about the safety of teachers. While

they aren’t required to return until they receive a vaccine,

they are definitely feeling the pressure from the district. It

seems absurd for teachers to put their unvaccinated family

members at risk to not even directly teach in the classroom.

While I do not see the purpose of returning to school

without direct teaching or social interaction, I understand

why some other students are choosing to return. Some

homes are too noisy to focus in, or the internet connection

is unstable or the household is simply toxic.

I hope that schools will reopen soon but in a way that is

worth risking my wellbeing for: receiving direct teaching

from all of my teachers.

It seems absurd for teachers to put their unvaccinated family

members at risk to not even directly teach in the classroom.

Returning to

the classroom:


How do you feel about reopening?


“It is not for me but I think it’s a good idea

for students who don’t have the space

to do virtual learning at home.” — Junior

Fatiah Lawal

There’s no point if we’re doing the same

thing we do at home at school.”

— Junior Anyia Holts

“I feel a bit surprised that they opened so

soon considering the fact that although

cases are going down, the number of

cases are still high. If kids have to go to

school and Zoom there, it is basically the

same thing as now except in a different

location and it just proves we aren’t ready

to be open.” — Junior Isabella Rivera

“I’m glad that school is reopening. I think

it’s beneficial for the students who are

struggling at home because of a toxic

household or because it’s genuinely hard

to concentrate when you have easy access

to your devices.”

— Senior Nicole Nazaire

What would it take for you to return

to in-person learning if you are not

going back in April?

“A better hybrid model that allows you to

actually go to class instead of just online

school on campus.”

— Senior Tristan Timpers

“I would need the number of COVID cases

to go down in order to go back and feel

safer. Teaching would have to be the way

it was before COVID, not Zooming at

school.” — Junior Isabella Rivera

“I would only return if there was no hybrid

learning; if everything was in person.”

— Senior Gasia Excel

“Once everyone gets vaccinated.”

— Senior Maahir Shaheed



(Plan to return)



(Continue online)


Choices, choices, choices

Students share whether they will return to campus

with the hybrid-learning model in late April

or continue the online-only learning model.


theMIRROR | A R T S & E N T E R T A I N M E N T |

| MARCH 2021 |13


TikTok trends:

Album cover


Here’s proof that any picture can be an

album cover. Of all the current trends

on TikTok, the coolest by far is the

album cover trend. Remember the one

where there’s a video and suddenly it

pauses with a grainy filter, “parental

advisory warning” in the corner, and a

mashup of Kendrick Lamar’s “HiiiPower”

and Kanye West’s “Devil In A Dress”

in the background? Yeah, that one.

Here are some submitted by students:


Retrospect Toby Ryu (12th)

“It’s a photo that I took in DTLA. I used the

app PicsArt to edit it. I used a vintage filter

that made it look like it was taken on an

old digital camera. I also added specific

elements like the tear, tape, and paint

strokes to create the outer-worldly feeling

I was going for.”

PRODUCING with passion


Student musician Pandi talks

about accomplishments,

inspirations and the future of

his music career.



While most music students

learn to hone

their craft with the

guidance of teachers,

to a few, it comes naturally. Jonathan

Pelayo is one of those musical talents.

He paints an ethereal atmosphere

with his dreamy, bubbly and poppy

beats, while maintaining his distinct

signature style of ambiance through

his productions.

Under the name of Pandi, Pelayo produces

trap beats with elements of pop

and electronic. Currently a senior in the

Performing Arts Magnet, Pelayo’s music

is known to thousands of listeners.

As a self-taught musician, Pandi navigates

through different genres in a natural

and experienced manner. His music

dabbles with lo-fi bedroom pop while

others have trap beats as their foundation.

In addition, he has been establishing

his presence in the hyperpop wave, a

genre characterized by an exaggerated

take on pop music.

Pandi’s SoundCloud includes a collection

titled “Samples and Stuff Collection,”

which includes sounds he’s curated or

sampled to sell and share among other


“So many producers have used it

[sounds from the collection] or bought

it and I hear my sounds in regular songs

I would listen to realizing it’s from my

sample pack,” he said, specifically naming

“JOI” by Bari who used a few of his original

drum samples.

From a style based on remixing other

songs, many producers of the genre, like

Pandi, have learned to adjust and work

around complicated property terms. One

of his most popular songs is comically

named “i have 2 copyright strikes.” But

aside from these copyright restrictions,

Pandi has found many ways to create

music while exploring new territories.

In a process of sampling others’ music

he’s able to add his own personal style.

“I choose things [samples] by my ears

— whatever I think sounds good — but

there are areas where I can find samples

I know I’ll love,” Pelayo said. “Things like

jazz, soul, funk, I know I can do something

with. As with vocals and acapellas,

whatever song is popular at the time or

a song I have just been wanting to remix,

I can find the vocals online and do what

I do.”

Pelayo started creating music five

years ago in the eighth grade. That same

year he began to release his work on

SoundCloud, an online music platform.

Pelayo attended James Madison Middle

School without taking any music classes.

He started posting as a necessity of

artistic growth, with the intentions of

improving upon tracking progress and

observing feedback.

Pandi cites his family as his biggest

supporters, claiming they made a huge

influence on his music taste, leading him

into music as a career choice. He was

inspired by electronic artists, referencing

Skrillex as one of his favorites growing


“A fond memory of mine was posting

a remix to Childish Gambino and it

gained a little traction with a few thousand

plays the same day as my culmination

of middle school,” Pelayo said.

His stage name Pandi originated

from his life of gaming. Influenced by his

Playstation username which included

“panda,” he was given the nickname


“I don’t know why I ran with it but

that’s how I got to where I am today with

the name.”

With over 14,600 SoundCloud followers

and approximately 5,000 monthly

Spotify listeners, Pandi has accomplished

a great deal, especially considering

his age. One of his greatest accomplishments

has been collaborating with

Soulection Radio, a weekly segment on

Beats 1 on Apple Music.

“Soulection has been showing love for

the past two years after finding a remix

of mine, putting me on the radio a couple

of times before recently contacting me

to feature on a radio show of theirs that

premiered on Apple Music 1,” Pelayo said.

“It was fun making the mix and showing

off my work.”

As Pandi has built his platform, he has

been able to reach out and collaborate

with more artists, making friends along

the way.

“I think seeing how my music career

came full circle is always a great accomplishment,”

he said. “For example, before

I started making music I would listen to

artists like Meltycanon, J.Robb and others,

and after the fact I’ve been making

music they have been showing love and

listening and it couldn’t make me happier.

I’m even good friends with a few.”

With Pandi moving from producer

to producer/vocalist, he has plans of

solidifying himself with this new artistic

rebrand. He hopes to collaborate with

more artists like Smino and Jericho as

he gains more fans and collaborates with

bigger rappers and producers.

For a young artist like Pandi, it is exciting

to see the direction he’s going toward.

Pandi’s music is mostly available

through SoundCloud. Some of his other

releases are also available on Apple Music

and Spotify under the name Pandi.

Reminiscing Naomi Lee (11th)

“This photo was taken in an old church

building a couple years ago. I really like

capturing moments where the subject is

backlit so that it creates silhouette in the

photo. I turned it into an album cover by

cropping the original photo to a square

and then adjusting the exposure, contrast,

and other things like that. I imported

it into the app PicsArt and added the

“parental advisory” sticker to the bottom

right of the photo.”

Stuck In Da Mud Son Nguyen (12th)

“[The] picture was taken on my friend’s

street. I edited the photo on VSCO and

photoshopped the explicit icon to make

it a cover.”

Effervescent Inhibition Tristan Timpers (12th)

The photo was taken near Lake Arrowhead,

in the mountains. Unfortunately the

car is not mine, just a very cool looking

Cadillac. In order to make it an album

cover I cropped it to a square. In addition,

I darkened the image and added grain.”

14| MARCH 2021 | | A R T S & E N T E R T A I N M E N T |







time for commemorating female accomplishments, the month of March is

Women’s History Month. Women have made a prominent impact in the entertainment

industry, where eminent producers, actresses, artists and authors have all

set milestones, helping create the blueprint for today’s pop culture. Trailblazers

like ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale was the first person and woman to win an Emmy Award in

1949 as Most Outstanding Personality. This year alone at the Grammy Awards, Taylor Swift’s

album “Folklore” won album of the year and Beyoncé broke the record as the most-awarded

female artist. And in an Academy Awards first, more than one woman was nominated for

2021 Best Director. Chloe Zhao was nominated for “Nomadland, and Emerald Fennell for

“Promising Young Women.” Here is a look at women who have had a major impact on the

entertainment industry. • KASEY KIM | ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR





Maya Angelou | Author

Jane Austen | Author

Beyoncé | Artist

Debra Martin Chase | Producer

Author of more than 30 books, the late Angelou

was a poet, civil rights activist and author.

Nominated for the Coretta Scott King Award for

Authors, Angelou’s coming of age autobiography

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” touches

upon her personal story of overcoming racism

and trauma. Through her powerful writing she

fought for freedom and equality.

Nineteenth century English novelist Austen

is best known for “Pride and Prejudice” and

“Emma.” Diving deep into themes of societal

norms, womanhood and marriage, Austen challenged

societal expectations of her period. Her

novels still play a prominent role in literature

today, adapted into movies and still read in

literature classrooms.

At the most recent GRAMMYs, Beyoncé made

history, becoming the most-awarded woman

artist in Grammy history. Beyoncé debuted

with her first solo album “Dangerously in Love”

in 2003. In July 2003, “Dangerously in Love”

peaked at number one on Billboard. “Irreplaceable,”

“Say My Name” and “Single Ladies (Put a

Ring on It)” are some of her most popular songs.

Producer of the well known “The Princess Diaries”

sequel, “Harriet” and “Lemonade Mouth,”

Chase has been nominated for the Primetime

Emmy Outstanding Variety, Music or Comical

Special for “Cinderella,” which premiered in 1997.

She is partnered with Disney, making her one of

the first African American female producers to

partner with a major studio.


Viola Davis | Actress

Audrey Hepburn | Actress

Billie Holiday | Artist

Whitney Houston | Artist

Known for her charismatic role as defense of

law professor Annalise Keating in the TV series

“How to Get Away with Murder,” Davis made

history as the first African American to achieve

the “Triple Crown of Acting,” winning an Academy

Award, Primetime Emmy Award and two

Tony Awards. Davis starred in “Fences,” the 2021

Oscar-nominated “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

and “Suicide Squad.” In 2012 and 2017, Davis

was named as one of the 100 most influential

people by Time Magazine.

Playing the iconic role of Holly Golightly in the

Oscar-winning film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,”

Hepbrun was a film and style icon during the

mid-20th century. Hepburn also starred in classic

films including “Sabrina” and “My Fair Lady,”

swaying many hearts through her elegance and

distinctive style which she portrayed on and off

camera. In her later years, Hepburn became the

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, helping underprivileged

children around the world.

Also known as “Lady Day,” Holiday was an influential

jazz and swing music singer during the

‘30s through the ‘50s. Holiday began her career

singing at Harlem nightclubs and at 18, her

voice was discovered by producer John Hammond.

“Billie’s Blues,” “I’ll Be Seeing You” and

“Blue Moon” are a couple of her many popular

songs. Using her talent and her voice, Holiday

sang “Strange Fruit,” a poem exposing the racism

and lynching that was especially prominent

in the south.

With a total of 415 career awards, this late R&B

artist was verified as the most awarded female

artist of all times by the Guinness World Records

as of 2010. Houston’s powerful voice has

undoubtedly left an indelible mark in the music

industry. Written by Dolly Parton, Houston’s

version of “I Will Always Love You” is her most

remembered song according to Billboard. “I

Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”

and “Greatest Love of All” are also considered

her most popular songs.


Marilyn Monroe | Actress

Shonda Rhimes | Producer

Meryl Streep | Actress

Oprah Winfrey | Producer

Hollywood famous, Monroe is still one of the

most significant pop culture icons. She starred

in successful films including “Seven Year Itch”

and “Don’t Bother to Knock,” winning the Golden

Globe for Best Actress for “Some Like It Hot.”

As the face of the sexual revolution of the ‘60s,

Monroe is remembered as a symbol of sexual

liberation, as well as a women’s rights activist,

breaking social norms of what was deemed as

attractive during the era.

Behind the award winning TV series “Grey’s

Anatomy,” Rhimes is the executive producer

and head writer for the acclaimed medical drama,

which has been nominated for 16 Primetime

Emmy Awards. Rhimes began her career

as an unemployed scriptwriter in Hollywood.

She worked her way up, assisting in writing “The

Princess Diaries.” Rhimes was the executive producer

for “Scandal” and “The Catch.”

Nominated for 21 Academy awards and 32

Golden Globe awards, Streep is a prominent

actress, starring in renowned films such as

“Devil Wears Prada,” the “Mamma Mia!” sequel,

“Little Women” and “Defending Your Life.”

Streep is known for her versatility as an actress

and her ability to portray different accents for

her characters. She has been nominated for 21

Academy Awards — more than any other actor

— winning three total.

Known best host of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,”

Winfrey is also a philanthropist, actress and

author. Her talk show ran for 25 seasons, sharing

stories from ordinary people to interviewing

celebrities. She began her own book club as

a segment on her show, encouraging audiences

to read and discuss novels. One of the

most influential women in America, Winfrey

interviewed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry,

exposing racism in the Royal family.

theMIRROR | A R T S & E N T E R T A I N M E N T |

| MARCH 2021 |15

The most anticipated

films of 2021


much to look forward to, from

embarking on a journey with an

immigrant family to diving into

the MCU.




Within the last

year, the

experience of

watching a

new movie has been completely

transformed. With

the current uncertainty of

the movie theater industry

due to the pandemic, viewers

across the world have

adapted to online streaming

services. While it is a strange

time for cinema, there is still

a lot to be excited about.

Film production companies

like the Warner Brothers have

partnered with streaming

services to release new movies,

while others have created their

own streaming services like


The Warner Brothers decision

to release movies straight

to streaming on HBO Max is

a big deal for the landscape of

the media. While some of the

movies on this list will be a

part of this deal, it is safe to assume

most will have their own

streaming dedication.

With that in mind, read on

to see the anticipated films of


MINARI Available on YouTube and

Amazon Prime Video for $19.99

“Minari” is an immigrant story,

following a Korean family chasing

the American dream in an

Arkansas farm. Starring Steven

Yuen as Jacob and Korean actress

Han Ye-Ri as Monica, the film

encapsulates the challenges the

immigrant family overcomes.

Although a select few have been

fortunate enough to see “Minari”

at special screenings, so far, the

film is only available through

platforms including YouTube and

Amazon Prime Video for $19.99.

This is expected to have the

signature indie, artisanal stamp of

being a personal story, especially

for the representation and family



Release date: March 25

Legendary Entertainment continues

the monsterverse with the

long awaited crossover of Godzilla

and King Kong. As the two monsters

brawl, the world’s destiny

is in their hands. While the title is

self-explanatory, many fans come

together in conflict of the age old

argument: who will win?


Release date: April 23

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandy, a

fashion designer, in Edgar Wright’s

next horror film. The film follows

Sandy as she enters London in

the 1960s and mysterious events

unfold. Although details are

sparse, Edgar Wright has been

continually delivering hilarious

films, such as “Shaun of the

Dead,” for the past two decades.


Release date: May 7

The long-awaited and long-delayed

solo film for the MCU’s first

female hero will follow her origins

before the Avengers came together.

The film more specifically

takes place in the events following

“Captain America: Civil War”

2016, as her past soon comes to

haunt her.


Release date: July 16

Basketball fans and Looney

Tunes fans come together for this

reboot. The original “Space Jam’’

was a 90s classic starring basketball

all-star Michael Jordan. This

continuation will follow on the

legacy of the modern day legend,

Lebron James as he teams up

with Bugs Bunny and the Tunes



Release date: July 30

Director David Lowery amazed

audiences with his surreal

modern day classic “A Ghost

Story” 2017. His follow-up is this

fantasy epic adaptation of the

classic tale, “Sir Gawain and the

Green Knight.” “The Green Knight”

follows King Arthur’s nephew as

he sets out to uncover the Green

Knight to prove his strengths to

his family and kingdom.


Release date: July

Legendary director Wes Anderson,

who directed popular films

including “Moonrise Kingdom”

and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” returns

with a gigantic ensemble of some

of the most prolific actors today,

including Timothée Chalamet and

Bill Murray. This comedy-drama

follows three storylines set in

different periods, all of which

are about fictional journalists in



Release date: August 6

Although it has only been five

years since DC’s universally disliked

attempt at telling the story

of the Suicide Squad, many fans

still have hope in this soft reboot.

The film will follow the adventures

Harley Quinn and Rick Flag

embark on. James Gunn director

of Guardians of the Galaxy is set

to direct with an all-star cast including

Idris Elba, John Cena and

Dwayne Johnson.


Release date: October 1

The futuristic science fiction

film follows the journey of Paul

Atreidas, the son of a noble family,

as he attempts to protect the

remaining, most vital substance

in the universe, “the spice,” that

extends human life and bestows

superpowers onto them. “Dune”

was one of the most anticipated

movies of 2020. Despite the

many delays, fans are still excited

for this epic retelling of one of the

greatest sci-fi novels. Director Denis

Villenueve has proved himself

as one of the best directors of the

last decade, as he teams up with

Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and

Jason Momoa.


Release date: December 22

Although the plot has not been

revealed, the sequel will continue

the adventures of Neo and Trinity.

Lana Wachowski, writer and director

of the previous three films,

reprises her directorial along with

Keanu Reeves, the face of the

franchise. Although it has been

18 years since the last film, “The

Matrix” trilogy is one of the most

beloved franchises of all time so

it is no surprise millions are looking

forward to this.

16| MARCH 2021 | | P R O & C O N |


Billionaires: They really don’t care



Andre Rodas, Ani Tutunjyan


Aaron Mejia


Antony Nepeyvoda


Shaan Bhatia


Angelina Gevorgyan


Julia Pfau


Gwen Langi


Kasey Kim


Andre Davancens


Ivan Delgado


Sevak Harutyunyan


Csarina “Nina” Jarencio



When asked what we want to be when we grow

up most teens have big and expensive dreams.

A doctor or a business owner are among the

most popular but, unfortunately, not all careers

are driven by morals. Money has a strong hold on Americans,

and from the price of your clothes to your income, success is

wrongfully equated with wealth.

Billionaires are believed to embody the American dream:

starting from nothing to making millions overnight through

hard work and determination. But as compelling as this narrative

may seem, it’s not realistic. Those who continue to push

it have been brainwashed — trained into idolizing the top one


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a popular example of the so-called

American dream. Starting an online bookstore from his basement

in 1994, over 15 years later Bezos is the richest man in

America with a net worth of over $193 billion.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also successfully created his image

as a billionaire genius who started from nothing, but that’s far

from the truth. Musk was born to a fashion model mother and

an emerald mine-owning father — a drastic difference from the

dirt-poor lifestyle he pretends to come from.

Aspiring entrepreneurs and billionaires-to-be portray Bezos

and Musk in a savior-like light, consuming their rich people’s

propaganda of wanting to better society and offer futuristic


But there’s no amount of money that can be offered to buy

their respect. No matter how much you defend these people,

billionaires are not your friends. After criticizing billionaires

like Bezos or Tesla CEO Elon Musk, brainwashed billionairesupporters

argue that it’s not the one percent’s fault for our

own lack of success; that nobody is responsible for our class or


While that may be true, the super-rich men and women are

responsible for one thing — society’s failure to protect lowerclass

Americans from exploitation. Being rich isn’t a product of

free-market capitalism as billionaires make it seem, but a result

exploiting the working class, trading insider information and

buying-off politicians.

Billionaires have successfully indoctrinated a general audience

— especially teens — to believe that their own hard work,

intelligence and innovation has earned them a spot so high on

the socioeconomic ladder that anyone — especially a young

person — can do exactly what they did. But the reality is simple:

they don’t deserve the credit. Their overworked and exploited

employees are the ones who actually got them where they are

today. Musk doesn’t build or service his Teslas, and Bezos is

not the one picking and hauling hundreds of packages a day to

deliver to Amazon customers.

While people might be led to believe that these corporations

are helping the economy and providing jobs, employing

people without paying living wages is not doing anyone a


Amazon employees have resorted to wearing diapers or

urinating in bottles because they only get 30-second breaks.

They have organized strikes to protest their low wages — until

recently some workers received as little as $10 an hour. Amazon

begrudgingly raised the minimum to $15 which wouldn’t have

happened without the persistent pressure of angered workers

and the help of U.S Senator Bernie Sanders.

Bezos supporters often argue that no one is forcing anyone

to work at Amazon. While that is true, in such a poorly-performing

economy, people will take whatever jobs they can get

to stay afloat.

The anti-union views held by Bezos and shared, of course,

by Musk seek to perpetuate their exploitation of their workers.

Bezos fights a union organizing effort in Alabama, while Musk

posts anti-union ads on the popular live-streaming website


Musk is notorious for his Twitter following, full of crazed

fanatics, and like any fanbase his supporters are ready to go

the extra mile to defend him. He’s created an online persona so

worshipped that it’s nearly impossible to criticize him without

having an army of men and teenage boys responding with slurs

while defending him tooth and nail. He’s loved online by people

who dream of being like him but fail to realize they will never be

like him.

In a dystopian reality, his employees lose their jobs for not

being productive enough or working 70 hours a week as his

fans choose to remain oblivious, focusing only on his wealth.

Few billionaires are self-made. They are products of a capitalist

system that is rigged in their favor through family money

and connections. Their success stories are not the American

dream come true. They use others for their personal gain as

they sell products and project a false image that makes people

admire them.

The system that Bezos and Musk exploit works exactly as it

was intended to: by ensuring that poor people remain stuck at

the bottom doing the dirty work as the rich steal the fruits of

their labor. They can never get ahead.

Billionaires are not worthy of your admiration.

Billionaires are not your friends. Wake up.


Angela Proca


Nathan Han


Alison Arevalo

Eleonora Badikyan

Adriana Contreras

Melanie Contreras

Isabela Diaz

Daniel Espinoza

Sam Eusebio

Itzel Gallardo

Jerry Garcia

Anzhela Harutyunyan

Briana Jasso

Andy Joachin

Aiza Kang

Terrence Lazo

Monica Mazariegos

Angel Rendon

Felipe Rodriguez

Andrew Vega

Angelica Venturina

Jazlyn Xocoxic


Mr. Ron Goins

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.

Digital issues are available at

READER PARTICIPATION Unsigned editorials

represent the majority opinion of the

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be delivered to Room 112 or mailed to The

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Letters must be signed and may be edited

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theMIRROR | P R O & C O N |

| MARCH 2021 |17

That time of the month costs hospital visits, sick leave, and sometimes lives

Scraping up loose

change to purchase

some pads.

Asking your friends if

they have a pad because you can’t

afford to buy any.

Cutting up old rags to use as a

menstrual sanitary product.

This is what period poverty

looks like. Around the world women

experience a lack of access to

sanitary products, menstrual education

and waste management,

which are just a few important

unmet needs largely contributing

to period poverty.

As if the monthly cramps, migraines,

and mood swings aren’t

enough to deal with, consumers

suffer what’s known as the “tampon

tax.” Most states keep food

and medicinal products exempt

from a sales tax since they’re considered

necessities. The exemption

isn’t extended to menstrual

products such as tampons, liners,

pads and menstrual cups. These

taxes on menstrual products become

costly for women, especially

those in low-income communities

where one in four women struggled

to afford feminine hygiene


Menstruators everywhere miss

school, get called out of work,

and are rushed to the emergency

room due to menstruation cycles.

To deny that period products

are a necessity is immoral and

blatantly dehumanizing.

The looming taxes only increase

the gap between menstruators

and access to their hygienic

needs. A simple tax repeal

seems to be the obvious answer,

right? Wrong.

California adds over $20 million

dollars a year to its coffersy from

the tampon tax, one of the reasons

legislators continued to tax

feminine hygiene products. The

state took a step in the right direction

by passing AB-31; a bill that

eliminates the tax beginning Jan. 1,

2020 through Jan. 1, 2022–which

has since been extended to last

until Jul. 2023. In a 2019 press conference

Governor Gavin Newsom

said the bill would alleviate spending

for low-income households

especially those raising children

since diapers were taxed as well.

Another reason the tax is difficult

to repeal is the stigma surrounding

menstrual cycles. While

everyone knows a friend, sibling or

other family member who experiences

a monthly bleed, periods are

still a conversation topic brushed



under the rug. The period talk isn’t

as normalized as it should be in

either school or home life as the

topic of periods is treated like a

forbidden topic. Menstruators

aren’t given enough reassurance

and security regarding sex and

menstrual cycles in school: the

aftermath of lousy sex-education

courses in schools nationwide.

The bottom line is the tampon

tax needs to go, permanently, in

all 50 states. Menstruators are

suffering emotionally and financially

because of inaccessibility to

period products when menstrual

cycles are never optional. Women

shouldn’t be required to pay a tax

for having a period.

While the issue closer to home

is still disheartening, we must look

at the bigger picture with women

in third world countries facing

urinary tract infections (UTIs),

untreated health emergencies and

even death due to period poverty

in their countries.

Author Gabby Edlin writes in

her book “It’s Only Blood,” of textile

workers in Bangladesh who are

forced to use leftover cloth scraps

as pads. The cloth scraps are

washed with soap and dirty water

putting these women at risk for


Women in different parts of

the world are all experiencing the

same problem–Period poverty.

Any taxation on women’s sanitary

product should be repealed

because women don’t have the

option of choosing to menstruate.

In order to break the stigma

around periods we must start in

the schools and mandate that

sex-ed classes have a defined

criteria with lessons on menstruation

included. This could possibly

make conversations surrounding

periods comfortable for students

since school would have offered

exposure and education.

Menstruation cycles are more

than monthly blood spills. Periodrelated

issues risk infections,

disorders and even death. Period

poverty is an epidemic that is

sending our sisters, mothers and

aunts into hospitals.




18| MARCH 2021 | | P R O & C O N |



Yes. I got it. I’m one step closer to normal.



It’s been over a year since covid-19

forced almost everyone into mandatory

quarantine. The lines defining

our daily lives have blurred.

Busy malls have become ghost towns.

Arenas that were packed with fans are

now just empty shells of what they used

to be. The routines of our normal lives

seem like a thing of the past.

But all it takes is two shots in the arm

to return back to normal.

Whether you have outlandish views

such as “vaccines create autism” or reasonable

views such as “the creation of the

vaccines were rushed”; you should still

take the vaccine.

Nearly $9 billion has been invested into

vaccine research and development. While

the rush to create a vaccine was a popular

concern amongst Americans, the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

made information regarding development

easily accessible to the public. At each

stage, numerous tests were conducted

and required approval by multiple researchers,

doctors and officials.

While I feel the CDC has done a great

job at making sure the vaccines are effective

and safe, our federal government

has done a poor job at distribution and

administration of the doses.

I definitely agree those who are most

at risk should get the vaccine first. This includes

police officers, firefighters, military

members, healthcare workers, the elderly

and those who have underlying medical


The prioritization of those in the food


IMMUNITY With just two doses of a vaccine,

people are becoming resistant to a virus that

seemed to have no end in an attempt to return to


industry over teachers and students is concerning.

I am not saying that those in the

food industry are any less important than

everyone else, but the need to get schools

fully reopened is far more important.

Students are missing out on important

lessons because teachers have been

forced to reduce the amount of time they

can devote to online lessons. The school

day has been reduced by more than two

hours and classes only meet two days a

week instead of five. High school students

are being shortchanged and are undergoing

their most important years before

college. The information they are losing

out on are what some consider to be the

fundamental for the rest of their lives.

Preschool and elementary students are

losing out on valuable social skills that can

only be learned by interacting with their

classmates in a class.

Getting teachers and students back in

classrooms is important. Vaccines are

the answer.

I am someone who would like to be

back in class and participate in extracurricular

activities with no fear of catching

the virus and transmitting it to members

of my family. I want to resume hangouts

with my friends without worrying about

masks and social distancing, so I decided I

would get the vaccine.

The first and most difficult step in

getting the vaccine was scheduling an appointment.

It took about a week and I had

to repeatedly refresh California’s Department

of Public Health website, myturn.

com, the appointment scheduling site.

After several error messages and unavailable

appointment times I finally got a text

confirming my appointment.

I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine

on March 10. When I arrived at the vaccination

site there were foldable chairs,

tents and long lines. When it was my turn,

volunteers asked me to present them with

an email confirming my appointment and

a recent pay stub along with a letter from

my employer as proof I worked in the

food industry. They immediately directed

me to the chairs behind them.

They asked me to keep my mask on

and present a valid driver’s license proving

I was old enough to get the Pfizer

vaccine, which is the only shot available

to those 16 and older. The staff offered

everyone water while they waited. Again

I had to present the required documents

and give my address, age and proof of


Next a nurse numbed my shoulder. I

was able to get a good look at the needle.

Although I typically get nervous and hate

getting shots I was eager to watch as the

needle penetrated the skin and the vaccine

dose was injected into my shoulder.

The shot felt no different than getting an

annual flu shot at the doctor’s office. After

injecting me, the nurse filled out the CDC’s

vaccine information card and handed it to

me to present when I got my second shot.

Next was a 15-minute supervised wait

period to see if I would show any adverse

symptoms. All the seats were socially

distanced, with nurses checking on those

whose wait time was almost completed.

When I asked a nurse if I could take pain

relievers such as Advil, they advised me

to stay away from pain relievers, since

they might reduce the effectiveness of the

first dose. When the wait was over I was

able to leave and head home. My only side

effect was a sore arm that lasted for less

than a week.

Although the process was nerve racking

and required a lot of patience, it was

worth it.

It means I’m one step closer to getting

back to my normal routine.

No. I’m passing. I won’t feed into the hype.


As excited as we are to regain

control of our lives,

we shouldn’t be so eager to

receive the vaccine. Americans

are rightfully concerned about the

vaccine’s testing and question if crucial

testing was overlooked because of rushed


A major concern is the credibility of the

drug manufacturers that mass produce

them. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t

being questioned enough and the public

is not doing enough personal research on

the manufacturers or the contents of the


One pharmaceutical company that

should raise concerns is AstraZeneca,

which produces medicine for respiratory,

metabolic and neurologic diseases.


In partnership with Oxford University

in Great Britain, the company created a

covid-19 vaccine.

In the past AstraZeneca paid millions of

dollars for false claims against U.S. federal

and state programs after marketing one of

their drugs for illnesses that were never approved

by the Food and Drug Administration

(FDA). Doctors were bribed to recommend

and prescribe the drug to patients

and by doing so, their health was at risk.

A company with a past like this shouldn’t

have the ability to produce and distribute a

vaccine because they’re unreliable.

Individuals who received the vaccine

reported some side effects ranging from

mild to severe fatigue, headaches, muscle

aches and fevers and according to the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC) severe allergic reactions are

also possible. Unfortunately for others, the

result of the vaccine was fatality.

Recently, a Florida doctor who suffered

a fatal brain hemorrhage after receiving

the Pfizer vaccine is being investigated.

Pfizer claims to be actively investigating

the death but believes it was unrelated to

the vaccine.

Belief is not enough. Pfizer should

pull their vaccine until health officals are

certain the death is not a result of the


Instead of taking the vaccine, start with

quarantining at home. Continue to wear

face masks and regular disinfecting will go

a long way in offering protection.

Whether or not you decide to get vaccinated,

death is still a possible outcome

for both choices. There have been reports

of 23 deaths of elderly people who got


Those who choose to get vaccinated

should not stop following health procedures

like social distancing and wearing a

mask simply because they believe they’re

protected from covid-19. We can’t simply

rely on the vaccine.

theMIRROR | A T H L E T I C S |

| MARCH 2021 |19



Athletes can return to LAUSD

campuses for the first time since

2020 — with restrictions



After months of indecision

and uncertainty,


finally green lighted

a return to campus for high

school athletes.

In a March 3 bulletin, LAUSD

announced that “Los Angeles

Unified schools will follow new

state and local guidance allowing

students ages 13 and older

to participate in outdoor sports


The official return of sports

to LAUSD is a welcomed relief

to athletes across Los Angeles.

Sports this semester will be split

between two seasons, the first

including cross country, football,

and water polo and the second

including baseball, golf, lacrosse,

soccer, softball, swimming, tennis,

track and field and cheer.

Students started conditioning

on March 15.

The return, while being good

news, is being viewed with mixed

feelings. “I think that it’s a good

idea in some sense,” said Karyme

Garcia, captain of the varsity

aquatic team. “As long as we take

appropriate safety precautions

it should be fine, though I’m concerned

that people practicing

can still have covid-19, especially

for contact sports like football

and waterpolo.”

LAUSD Superintendent Austin

Beutner addressed concerns

in his March 8 weekly video


“Allowing students to resume

athletic competition is not a decision

we made lightly,” Beutner

said. “The spread of the virus is

still categorized as widespread

in Los Angeles County. At the

same time, the opportunity for

young adults to be with friends

and teammates while participating

in a sport might help ease the

anxiety and isolation many are


Starting March 17, Van Nuys

High School began hosting

practices, allowing student athletes

back on campus. Students

are temperature checked at

the North gate of the

football field. They

must also show proof

of a negative covid-19

test taken within the

last three days, as well as

LAUSD’s Daily Pass.

All ramped-up practices

are for the soonto-happen

athletic competitions

over the coming

few weeks. All sports will be

participating in these competitions

except for Water Polo

because only four schools in the

entire district have access to an

outdoor pool. The Swim Team

may be in the same boat for the

second season this semester

unless they can access the use

of an outdoor pool.

Only six of the Track and

Field team’s 62 athletes attended

the first practice

of the year even though

36 students were eligible to

practice. Their first meet was

held at Monroe High School on

March 19.

“It’s frustrating because even

though most of my athletes are

eligible they are waiting on receiving

their covid tests,” Coach

Alejandro Beccera said. “With so

many athletes returning to campuses

across LAUSD, the testing

centers are packed so students

need to wait a week before going

on campus.”

While the practices and

competitions are starting back

up, not many Van Nuys athletes

can participate because they

lack the needed physicals to be

cleared. With covid-19 making it

even harder for students to go to

a doctor to get a physical, sports

may resume at full capacity

much more slowly than expected.

Despite the safety precautions

to help prevent the spread

of the virus, some parents still

don’t feel comfortable sending

their student athletes back to

campus just yet.

Until all students and

coaches can be fully vaccinated,

it still remains uncertain when

high school athletics will return

in full force.







Alejandro Becerra dons

a face mask on March

17, his first day back

at practice since the

pandemic began.

It’s frustrating because even though

most of my athletes are eligible they are

waiting on receiving their covid tests.”


Staying positive during

these hard times

IT CAN BE difficult for athletes to motivate

themselves since their practices,

games, and tournaments have been

postponed or cancelled altogether.

For Jake Stanley, boys varsity volleyball

team captain, his parents have

taught him to keep moving forward even

though the pandemic makes it difficult

to stay motivated sometimes..

“My parents have been unwaveringly

supportive of me throughout my life,

believing I can accomplish the things I

set myself to,” Stanley said. “They’ve empowered

me to lean into the things that

intimidate me, things that I think that I

might not be able to do. As a result, I’m

self-motivated to challenge myself because

I know that even if I fail I will grow

in some way.”

With much more time on his hands

due to covid-19 restrictions, Stanley noticed

how it has benefited his relationship

with his parents and has helped him

pay greater attention to his health.

“Something that a lot of athletes neglect,

at least I know I did, when it comes

to sports is nutrition,” he said. “With the

extra time I’ve had during quarantine,

I’ve created a meal plan for myself using

some recipes from USA volleyball


As for Coach George Davancens’ approach

to motivating his water polo and

swimming teams, he believes that it is

exceedingly difficult to bring his practices

onto the online learning platform.

“It is very difficult not to be able to

see and communicate with my athletes

every day,” he said. “I have Zoom

meetings once a week, however it is

not even close to being enough. I’ve

chosen not to have meetings every

day primarily because there isn’t

much I can do with them regarding

athletics in a large Zoom meeting.”

Coach Davancens’ alternative solution

is letting athletes choose their

own practices one-on-one with peers.

“To help them get into or keep in

shape, and to help build some team

dynamics, I split my team into small

workout groups,” Davancens said. “This

helps keep them in shape until we can

hold live practices. It also helps build

leadership skills and team spirit by being

accountable to each other.”

LAUSD athletics returned to campuses

on March 17, and high schools are set

to reopen some time in late April.

“While they may or may not be excited

about returning to regular classes,

I believe they are all jazzed to get back

to practice and especially into competition,”

said Davancens.

Even after dealing with the obstacles

covid-19 has thrown at athletes, Stanley

thinks volleyball has provided a sense of

community that self-isolation doesn’t


“Even though we couldn’t meet, we

still held ourselves accountable to each

other,” he said “For many of us, this year

will be our last season. We still practice

on our own because — on the off-chance

we have a season — we want to be ready

to make it one we can be proud of.”


Sports fitness center

gets a makeover

THE FITNESS center has seen

better days, being the room

shared by every athlete on

campus it was due time for it

to get an update. The UCLA

Health initiative Sound Body

Sound Mind have provided

a grant to the school to help

make this happen. Included in

the grant was enough money

to repair and repaint the fitness

center and weight room

as well as purchase $15,000

of new equipment. The new

equipment includes nine spin

bikes and three rowers.


20 | MARCH 2021 | | A T H L E T I C S |




COACH RORO New Varsity

Football Coach Thomas Roosevelt

comes from rival Sylmar High.

Over the past five

He plans to take everything slow

years the football

at first as he tries to rebuild a

troubled Wolves football program.

team at Van Nuys

High School has

been bad.

Really bad.

Really, really bad.

The school isn’t very well

known for its football program.

Last year Coach Evan Porter

took the reins of the team during

what turned out to be his

first and his last season. Porter

found success as head coach

of varsity basketball, leading

the team to a Division Three

championship in 2017. Football

was a different story. Under his

watch the Wolves got walloped

by L.A. Manual Arts 72-0... then

Sylmar 42-0... then Panorama

37-0... then San Fernando 70-0…

then Reseda 49-0… and finally

the season was topped off with

a 54-0 loss to Canoga Park. The

team didn’t manage to win a

single game. It was one of the

worst-scoring seasons in the

school’s 100-plus-year history.

Even with ex-pro Mike

Williams, a wide receiver who

played for the Detroit Lions,

Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks

and Toronto Argonauts

leading the Wolves from 2016

to 2018, the story was the same.

Loss after loss. Season after

season. Things weren’t looking


Then came covid-19 in

March 2020. All prep sports

ground to a halt. The 2020

football season was put on hiatus.

But behind the scenes the

head coach.

They lined up Thomas

“RoRo” Roosevelt, who has

coached the junior varsity

squad at Sylmar Charter High

School for eight years. For the

past three years, he’s been trying

to land the head coaching

job at Van Nuys. He finally got it.

Could he be the man to turn

the Wolves around?

The first four years I

coached offense. And then the

last two years, I coached everything

because I was the only

coach there on J.V.”

His first five years were filled

with winning records, though

sadly his last three ended with

many promising players leaving

the program due to racial and

violent tensions brewing on

campus and thus, losing seasons.

“Times were tough,” he said.

In his final three years as head

coach the Spartans finished 3-4,

3-4 and 2-5.

Coach Thomas grew up in

Pacoima in a gang-infested

neighborhood. He turned to

football as an escape. He began

playing when he was eightyears-old.

He started coaching

younger kids when he was

13. Coach Thomas has been

playing football since he was a

young boy, it helped serve as an

escape from the gang infested

area he lived in and didn’t

want to be a part of. He started

for eight year old children.

Football is a lot more than

just a sport to him. “I love football.

Everything I do is about

football. I wake up in the morning

thinking about football. I go

to sleep at night thinking about

football.” Coaching high schoolers

and building better athletes

is his ultimate goal.

Thanks to the pandemic

many student athletes will be

rusty once they make their

return to the field, so Coach

Thomas doesn’t want to put

any undue pressure on the

team. He has yet to see what

they are capable of, but reassures

diehard fans that he has

a plan.

“First off, it’s all about the

conditioning. Second, it’s going

to let me know which players

wanna be here. If you’re

lacking [effort], it’s gonna show

me you don’t want to play,” he


Before being allowed to go

to practice, which resumed on

March 17, players have to file

pages of paperwork such as

a liability advisory, publicity

authorization release and student

emergency information

forms. They also have to take

weekly covid tests. “It’s a very

long process that we have to go

through,” stated Thomas.

one of the responsibilities of

being a coach is being a teacher

to the athletes. His philosophy

is that a coach has a set of rules

they must follow to achieve

success — not just in football,

but in life too. His mantra is

what he calls the “five Ps.”

Proper preparation prevents

poor performance.

“So far he is giving me good

vibes” said Sophomore Quaterback

Uriel Rios. “He seems like a

really good person to talk to. He

is working really hard to get this

team in shape, which I really


The new head coach only

wants the best for his team

and hopes that they play to

the best of their abilities. “I

don’t care whether we win or

lose. As long as we execute

the plan, my players will get

better with every single game.

They’ll take what they did here

and move on to the next level

with it.”

So maybe soon, under new

management, with the “five Ps”

mindset instilled in them, the

Varsity Wolves football team will

go from bad to better. At least

that’s Coach Thomas’s plan.

It isn’t breaking news that

the Wolves football team is still

far from great. Perhaps 2021 is

the year they bounce back.

The good thing about hitting

rock bottom is that there is

school was searching for a new coaching at the young age of 13 Coach Thomas believes that nowhere to go but up.




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