The Mirror | Issue 1 | October 2021

The student newspaper at Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys, California

The student newspaper at Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys, California


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theMIRROR<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />






OPINION 12<br />


ATHLETICS 19<br />

3<br />


everything you need to know<br />

about LAUSD’s requirement<br />

9 13<br />


Students share their passion<br />

for makeup as an art form<br />

UNDER PRESSURE Seniors<br />

feel anxious as deadlines for<br />

college application draw nearer<br />





TESTS<br />




COVID-19<br />

Tooooooo much<br />

STRESS<br />

Teenagers are struggling to keep up with school as they face the aftermath of more than a year in quarantine<br />

with limited social interactions and a surplus of procrastination. Now, they are forced to adjust to pre-pandemic<br />

education while still amidst a pandemic. School is not the only thing to be stressed about. Students are<br />

also dealing with complicated friendships, drama-filled relationships and overdemanding parents. Teens are<br />

anxious, stressed and depressed. PAGE 10<br />



OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

PAGE 2<br />

the MIRROR<br />


Back in-person but barely staying afloat<br />

While I was excited to return to in-person learning, I failed to anticipate just how<br />

overwhelming it would be. So much so that I had to drop my AP class.<br />


MATTERS Senior Angela<br />

Proca switched out of AP<br />

Psychology to prioritize<br />

her mental health while<br />

trying to readjust to prepandemic<br />

academic life.<br />



Making my schedule was the easy part, actually<br />

doing well in the classes I chose — well<br />

that’s another story.<br />

I had gotten so used to the simplicity<br />

and informality of online learning that returning to inperson<br />

learning proved to be far more challenging than I<br />

anticipated.<br />

Originally, I had signed up for AP Psychology along<br />

with two electives and three honors classes seeking to<br />

push myself a bit in my last year of high school.<br />

AP Psychology felt like the right fit at the time, it’s even<br />

known for being one of the easiest Advanced Placement<br />

classes. For whatever reason, I didn’t consider that taking<br />

this course along with the transition into in-person learning<br />

would be a difficult task.<br />

<strong>The</strong> first few weeks of school I was over the moon to be<br />

back in person, but I quickly realized how overwhelming<br />

and stressful it would be, especially with AP Psychology.<br />

My days were filled with seemingly endless notetaking,<br />

anxiously awaiting a pop quiz and studying for chapter<br />

tests every week. <strong>The</strong>n I’d move on to stressing about<br />

how I can pay for my groceries and rent with only $1000<br />

a month for an economics assignment and reading one<br />

hundred pages of “East of Eden.”<br />

It was all beginning to be too much and my grades<br />

showed for it. I was failing AP Psychology with a 47<br />

percent and my other classes and my participation in<br />

extracurricular activities were also negatively impacted.<br />

We went from five-hour school days with hour-long<br />

lunches to seven-hour long days with all six periods.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was no transitory period back to in-person learning<br />

for students or teachers which definitely took a toll on<br />

my mental health.<br />

Living in a pandemic has been draining enough and<br />

expecting students to immediately go back to pre-pandemic<br />

life is unrealistic.<br />

We got so comfortable with how lax school had<br />

become with the past year of online learning that being<br />

back was a shock to our system.<br />

I began to feel overwhelmed, not only was I already<br />

failing psychology with a 47 percent but it began to take a<br />

toll on my other classes as well. <strong>The</strong>re simply isn’t enough<br />

time in one day to do work for my other classes and be<br />

active in my extracurriculars.<br />

After one too many emotional breakdowns I decided<br />

I needed to switch out of AP Psychology to prioritize my<br />

mental health.<br />

While I was worried my counselor wouldn’t switch me<br />

out since we were five weeks into the semester, she was<br />

very understanding.<br />

Dropping out of my AP class was one of the best decisions<br />

I’ve made. While all the stress of school has not<br />

been resolved, I feel much less burdened and have more<br />

time to be active in activities that I enjoy.<br />

I’m not the only one that feels this way. After I had<br />

switched out, half of the students in my class did as well.<br />

It was weird to see so many students in the same boat<br />

that I was but not surprising.<br />


<strong>The</strong> transition back to in-person learning<br />

after more than a year of online school has<br />

been a difficult one for students to make<br />

as they try to readjust to pre-pandemic life<br />

while balancing classes and extracurriculars.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Mirror</strong> surveyed students to learn whether<br />

they’ve taken on a less stressful workload<br />

this year to combat the challenges they’ve<br />

faced returning to school. 535 answered.<br />

Dropped or took<br />

fewer AP or<br />

honors classes<br />

47%<br />

Did not alter<br />

schedule<br />

253 282<br />

‘‘<br />

I dropped AP Environmental<br />

Science<br />

because I felt overwhelmed<br />

with the<br />

workload. It was too<br />

much for me at this<br />

time and I felt like I<br />

needed more time<br />

to do college applications as well, which I was<br />

not getting with the amount of APs I was doing.<br />

<strong>The</strong> switch is overwhelming because we<br />

are still in the middle of the pandemic, and<br />

we now have much more problems that have<br />

arisen from the stresses of it.”<br />

—Isabella Rivera<br />

I dropped out of<br />

AP Environmental<br />

Science and<br />

that’s because I<br />

recently gained a<br />

younger sibling so<br />

I literally have no<br />

time to use on my<br />

work. Switching from online to in-person<br />

also made it difficult managing my classes. I<br />

feel as though I have no time to actually get<br />

assignments done and I have a harder time<br />

focusing in a full classroom compared to at<br />

home some at my desk.”<br />

—Kassandra Solorzano<br />

‘‘ ‘‘<br />

I dropped AP<br />

Calculus AB<br />

because once my<br />

teacher started<br />

going over the<br />

reviews and<br />

lessons I knew I<br />

couldn’t keep up<br />

due to the switch from online to in-person<br />

school. When it was online I hardly learned<br />

anything and I knew that it would be way<br />

too stressful and overwhelming to learn<br />

everything again just so I could keep up.<br />

—Kyla Villanueva<br />


the MIRROR<br />



<strong>The</strong> Los Angeles Unified School<br />

District announced in early<br />

September that all students<br />

12 years of age or older who<br />

are eligible for the covid-19 vaccine are<br />

required to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10,<br />

2022, the start of second semester, or they<br />

will be unenrolled from school and have<br />

the option of joining LAUSD’s independent<br />

study program City of Angels.<br />

Athletes and students participating<br />

in extracurricular activities that require<br />

after-school attendance are required to<br />

receive their first dose by Oct. 31 and their<br />

second dose by Nov. 15.<br />

Students 18 and older can get the<br />

single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to<br />

comply with the directive.<br />

Failing to obtain proof of vaccination<br />

by this date will result in the student not<br />

being allowed on school campuses. This<br />

includes students who provide a medical<br />

or religious exemption.<br />

Individuals who choose to enroll in<br />

City of Angels will be unenrolled from Van<br />

Nuys High School meaning they will not<br />

be able to participate in any athletics or<br />

extracurriculars on campus. Seniors will<br />

not be allowed to attend prom or walk the<br />

stage since they are no longer a part of the<br />

school.<br />

City of Angels is fully accredited by the<br />

Western Association of Schools (WASC)<br />

which means students’ coursework is accepted<br />

for credit within the University of<br />

California (UC) and California State (CSU)<br />

schools.<br />

<strong>The</strong> curriculum fulfills LAUSD’s A-G<br />

requirements and California Department<br />

of Education’s standards. <strong>The</strong><br />

school also offers a variety of AP courses<br />

and electives.<br />

Students who choose to attend must<br />

complete at least 30 hours of schoolwork<br />

per week to earn the 30 credits expected<br />

each semester. Instruction will be a mix of<br />

distance-learning classes via Zoom taught<br />

by credentialed teachers and independent<br />

study to complete assignments.<br />

As of late <strong>October</strong>, 61.9 percent of<br />

eligible Californians are vaccinated while<br />

68.3 percent have received at least one<br />

dose, about 26.7 million people.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Mirror</strong> conducted an online survey<br />

through Schoology asking what students<br />

think about the vaccine requirement. Of<br />

the 93 students who completed the survey,<br />

66.7 percent of students are in support<br />

of the mandate, while 33.3 percent<br />

are against it.<br />

“Having this deadline might encourage<br />

students who haven’t been vaccinated yet<br />

to do so and the more vaccinated people,<br />

the better,” sophomore Nancy Alvarado<br />

said.<br />

This opinion is shared by the majority<br />

of students.<br />

“I would not have to worry about the<br />

instilled fear from the recent pandemic,”<br />

senior Magen Mozeh said. “Standing close<br />

to my peers in a crowded area, I could just<br />

forget about worrying to social distance<br />

myself. Every desk, door or rail I touch<br />

would not have to petrify me into thinking<br />

that I would get infected from covid-19.”<br />

Many students don’t abide by the<br />

school’s safety protocols.<br />

“People still pull their masks down<br />

sometimes around campus, so at least if<br />

we know everyone is vaccinated, the risk<br />

for spreading covid-19 is less likely,” senior<br />

C<br />


DEADLINE APPROACHES Students required<br />

to be fully vaccinated to attend in-person classes<br />


L.A. vs. NYC: COVID-19 PROTOCOLS<br />

<strong>The</strong> Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the New York City Department of Education<br />

(NYCDOE), two of the largest districts in the nation, both have strict covid-19 protocols in place to<br />

prevent the spread of the virus among their heavily-populated campuses. Here are some of the<br />

similar and unique ways each district is handling the virus. —Diana Zalmanov<br />

LAUSD<br />

• All students who are eligible for<br />

the vaccine are required to get<br />

vaccinated<br />

• All classrooms contain MERV-13<br />

air filters<br />

• Although physical distancing is<br />

recommended, it is not required<br />

• Students must complete a daily<br />

health check before entering the<br />

school<br />

• Schools are using classrooms for<br />

learning<br />

• People visiting the school must<br />

answer the daily health check<br />

screening questions before<br />

entering the campus<br />

• Masks must be worn all day un<br />

less eating or drinking<br />

• Provides testing for all students<br />

once a week, regardless of<br />

vaccination status<br />

• Athletes must be fully<br />

vaccinated by Nov. 15<br />

• All students must be fully<br />

vaccinated by Jan. 9, 2022 to<br />

remain in school<br />

• All teachers must be fully<br />

vaccinated by Nov. 15<br />

• Air conditioning must be on at all<br />

times to keep air circulating<br />

• Isolation instructions for<br />

someone with a positive test<br />

result are to stay home for at<br />

least 10 days, after they have<br />

tested positive and monitor their<br />

temperature for at least 24 hours<br />


Aksel Ortiz said.<br />

Being a student athlete, junior Brianna<br />

Carrillo believes that the mandate will<br />

keep her and her teammates safe from<br />

becoming infected with the virus.<br />

“I think it’s a good idea, especially for<br />

athletes because we’re going to be in<br />

contact with students not just from our<br />

school but from different schools as well,”<br />

Carrillo said. “It’s ensuring our health and<br />

our overall protection.”<br />

While a majority of students are in<br />

favor of the LAUSD policy, some believe<br />

that getting vaccinated should be an individual’s<br />

decision, not an ultimatum.<br />

“I believe it should be a personal choice,”<br />

senior David Kupelian said. “Whoever<br />

would like to protect themselves from<br />

the virus should get the vaccine. Whoever<br />

does not want to, shouldn’t.”<br />

Skeptical of the vaccine’s safety and<br />

effectiveness, freshman Anait Atkozyan<br />

suggests that a more reasonable plan of<br />

action would be to continue with current<br />

covid-19 safety regulations while waiting<br />

for more testing and data on the vaccines.<br />

“I don’t think it should be mandatory at<br />

NYCDOE<br />

• Vaccines are strongly<br />

encouraged for eligible students<br />

• Cafeterias contain window<br />

exhaust fans for extra circulation<br />

• Students must maintain at least<br />

three feet of physical distance<br />

from each other<br />

• Students must complete a daily<br />

health check before entering the<br />

school<br />

• Most schools are using the<br />

Outdoor Learning Initiative to<br />

expand the classrooms by using<br />

school yards and street space as<br />

additional spaces for learning<br />

• School visitors must show proof<br />

of at least one dose of the<br />

vaccine before entering<br />

• Masks must be worn all day<br />

unless eating or drinking<br />

• Provides testing for all students<br />

once a week for students who<br />

have not been vaccinated<br />

•Students in high-risk sports must<br />

get vaccinated before their first<br />

day of competitive play<br />

• No districtwide vaccination<br />

requirement<br />

• All teachers must be fully<br />

vaccinated<br />

• Electrostatic systems are used<br />

to clean classrooms daily<br />

• Isolation instructions for<br />

someone with a positive test<br />

include staying at home for at<br />

least 10 days and learning<br />

remotely<br />

the moment,” she said. “While continuing<br />

to do our covid-19 safety procedures, we<br />

could at least wait a couple more years<br />

for a safer and more improved vaccine<br />

rather than injecting a rushed one into<br />

our systems.”<br />

Sophomore Sheyla Vasquez thinks that<br />

forcing eligible students to get the shot is<br />

harsh. She empathizes with those who are<br />

fearful.<br />

“Some students could be scared to<br />

get the vaccination,” Vasquez said. “I was<br />

scared too, and I thought for a moment I<br />

was going to pass out during the process<br />

of receiving the vaccine. I feel like it should<br />

be mandated but in a way where students<br />

feel like they want to or feel safe in doing<br />

so without having a due date.”<br />

According to <strong>The</strong> <strong>Mirror</strong>’s survey, 73.1<br />

percent of students polled have been fully<br />

vaccinated whereas 26.9 percent have yet<br />

to be. Of those who have not been vaccinated,<br />

40.6 percent of students plan to<br />

get vaccinated while 59.4 percent wish to<br />

abstain from receiving the vaccine.<br />

Kupelian does not plan on getting<br />

vaccinated.<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 3<br />

“I believe in human-medical freedoms<br />

and that it should be a personal choice,” he<br />

said. “I do not believe it is selfish to not get<br />

the vaccine.”<br />

Religion is another factor that has<br />

seemingly influenced many individuals’<br />

decision to remain unvaccinated.<br />

“This epidemic is in God’s hands, not<br />

humans,” junior Frank Garcia said, basing<br />

his commitment to remain unimmunized<br />

primarily on his religious ideals. “Let nature<br />

take its course.”<br />

While some students believe that<br />

there should be other options, many will<br />

grudgingly comply. Sophomore Diana<br />

Akopian now plans to be vaccinated, but<br />

feels like her personal freedoms are being<br />

trampled on.<br />

“I feel like I don’t have a choice anymore<br />

since my two options would be to either<br />

only go to high school for one semester<br />

and call it my high school experience, or<br />

get a vaccine when I still don’t feel the<br />

need to,” she said.<br />

Yet another factor which impacts a student’s<br />

vaccination statuses is the opinion<br />

of their parents.<br />

“I’ve seen parents who have been very<br />

excited about it and I’ve seen some who<br />

were protesting,” social science teacher Mr.<br />

Jacob Ferrin said. “Like anything, it’s very<br />

politically contentious for pretty much no<br />

reason.”<br />

For the majority of students who are<br />

minors and under the age in which they<br />

can consent to receiving a vaccination, the<br />

decision of whether or not they will be immunized<br />

by Jan. 10 is up to their parents.<br />

With a considerable number of students<br />

disagreeing with the opinions of their parents,<br />

this is posing a significant issue.<br />

“I want to get it so I can have a good<br />

working environment and be with my<br />

friends but my parents don’t think the<br />

vaccine is safe,” freshman Nicole Villanueva<br />

said. “I might be one of the students<br />

that might have to transfer to the City of<br />

Angels online course, even though I work<br />

better with in-person school.”<br />

Senior Fatiah Lawal feels sympathetic<br />

towards students whose parents will not<br />

let them get vaccinated despite them<br />

wanting to.<br />

“I feel bad for kids who aren’t able to<br />

get vaccinated because their parents are<br />

anti-vaxx,” she said. “I think they will lose a<br />

major part of their education or the social<br />

skills they mostly get from school.”<br />

For athletes involved in school sports,<br />

this concern has been prevalent throughout<br />

the semester.<br />

“I have heard rumors that kids have<br />

even gone to the extent to forge their<br />

parents’ signature in order to keep going<br />

to practice,” senior Marc Ruiz said.<br />

Sophomore Lindsay Cardoza believes<br />

the vaccine is a necessary step in returning<br />

to pre-pandemic life.<br />

“As a community coming from about<br />

a year and a half of lockdown we need to<br />

move forward with getting back to normal<br />

and I say making vaccinations mandatory<br />

is the right step,” she said.<br />

Mozeh too is confident in the positive<br />

impact the mandate will have on the<br />

District, and is optimistic that it will be<br />

effective.<br />

“I feel it is necessary to get back to<br />

normalcy,” Mozeh said. “Without it, we will<br />

not hear the end of masks being worn in<br />

classrooms, school events getting cancelled<br />

or there being safety restrictions.”

4 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

C<br />


the MIRROR<br />

FRESH FACES A new leader takes the helm<br />



While students are still<br />

snoozing their alarms early<br />

in the morning, new principal<br />

Lourdes De Santiago is already<br />

on campus setting up conferences,<br />

communicating with<br />

the District and making calls to<br />

ensure everything is running<br />

smoothly for students’ and<br />

teachers’ arrival.<br />

This isn’t her first rodeo<br />

either. Principal De Santiago<br />

has held the same title for five<br />

years prior to joining Van Nuys<br />

High School. She worked at<br />

East Valley High School, a small<br />

high school on Vineland Ave. in<br />

North Hollywood.<br />

Despite her connection with<br />

East Valley students, Principal<br />

De Santiago sought to teach at<br />

a big, comprehensive school<br />

like Van Nuys High School because<br />

it’s where her roots lie.<br />

She began her academic<br />

career as a paraprofessional<br />

at Polytechnic High School,<br />

a large LAUSD school in Sun<br />

Valley, where she supported<br />

English learners in math and<br />

science classes while finishing<br />

her credentials.<br />

Math was always the subject<br />

she loved most in school.<br />

“I remember as a young<br />

child playing as if I was a<br />

teacher so when the time came<br />

to go to college, I went into the<br />

field that I felt most comfortable<br />

with in terms of learning<br />

and sharing what I knew, and<br />

that was math,” Principal De<br />

Santiago said.<br />

After about a year and a<br />

half, she earned her credentials<br />

and became a math teacher at<br />

James Monroe High School in<br />

1998 where she taught math in<br />

Spanish for English learners.<br />

She loved teaching to<br />

students who were not only<br />

trying to solve math problems<br />

but also trying to decode the<br />

English language.<br />

“When you’re going to school<br />

you’re usually learning a subject<br />

in your primary language,<br />

so I loved being able to transfer<br />

what I learned in English to<br />

Spanish to teach students in<br />

a language they understood,”<br />

Principal De Santiago said. “I<br />

saw that I was making a difference<br />

in them understanding<br />

the concept and that was<br />

important to me.”<br />

She took what she learned<br />

from her time at her first<br />

teaching job back to Polytechnic<br />

High School where she<br />

returned to teach higher level<br />

math such as Algebra I and II,<br />

Geometry and AP Calculus AB<br />

and BC.<br />

It was at Polytechnic where<br />

she then began her administrative<br />

career, becoming Dean of<br />

Discipline for three years.<br />

As a dean, De Santiago<br />

was responsible for helping<br />

at-risk students improve their<br />

academics, behavior and attendance.<br />

“I enjoyed that aspect of my<br />

work because I really got to see<br />

the students and learn from<br />

them on a different level,” she<br />

said. “I was pleased to be able to<br />

support their learning by supporting<br />

their social-emotional<br />

needs first.”<br />

After that, she became a<br />

Title I coordinator and worked<br />

closely with the administration<br />

to enforce district policy. Title I<br />

schools receive financial assistance<br />

from the federal government<br />

since at least 40 percent<br />

of enrolled students come from<br />

low-income families.<br />

De Santiago’s job was to<br />

manage and monitor budgets<br />

to keep track of how Title I<br />

money was being spent, which<br />

she did by working closely with<br />

other school staff.<br />

“I enjoyed being able to support<br />

not only the students but<br />

the teachers too,” she said.<br />

For a decade, Principal De<br />

Santiago became a master of<br />

all trades as an administrator.<br />

She was responsible for discipline<br />

and attendance.<br />

“I took my opportunity as an<br />

administrator as a great learning<br />

experience to learn the<br />

ins-and-outs of almost every<br />

aspect of running a school.”<br />

And now, Principal De<br />

Santiago is running this school<br />

during unprecedented circumstances<br />

as students readjust<br />

to pre-pandemic education<br />

amidst a pandemic. But she<br />

is glad to be back and see students<br />

and staff alike in person.<br />

“I feel happy to be back in<br />

school because being at home<br />

was different in that we never<br />

got to see everyone’s faces or<br />

experience athletics, clubs and<br />

performances.”<br />

She feels honored to be a<br />

part of the school’s diverse academic<br />

and athletic programs.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> other day we [administrators]<br />

were looking at the different<br />

plays that were already<br />

scheduled and we’re all signing<br />

up to support with supervision<br />

and I look forward to seeing<br />

them,” Principal De Santiago<br />

said. “It’s amazing getting to see<br />

all the talent that our school<br />

community has.”<br />

While she is primarily focusing<br />

on learning the school and<br />

its people and continuing to<br />

support the work her predecessors<br />

have done, she looks<br />

forward to creating even more<br />

programs to support students’<br />

needs and get them college and<br />

career ready.<br />

“Whether it’s a new club,<br />

whether it’s a new program,<br />

I’m always open to hear what<br />

our school community wants<br />

to engage in and how it will<br />

benefit our students because<br />

my job is to ensure every single<br />

student is college and career<br />

ready upon graduation,” she<br />

said. “If you [students] want to<br />

start a new club, my door is always<br />

open to hear your ideas.”<br />

Principal De Santiago<br />

strongly believes hard work<br />

and a growth mindset pays off.<br />

“I feel that difficult moments<br />

have made me stronger and<br />

made me a better educator,”<br />

she said. “It’s what you do with<br />

those moments. Are you going<br />

to learn from them or are you<br />

going to stumble on the same<br />

rock again?”<br />

She encourages students<br />

to seek the various resources<br />

available at school to achieve<br />

their goals.<br />

“If you put your mind to<br />

something, anything is possible.”<br />

After working in education<br />

for almost a quarter century,<br />

Principal De Santiago is thrilled<br />

to continue her journey here.<br />

“It just feels like home,” she<br />

said. “This is me, this is where<br />

I’m comfortable.”<br />


After working as an administrator<br />

for a decade and<br />

principal for five years, Principal<br />

De Santiago is excited<br />

to extend her knowledge and<br />

experience to the lead a new<br />

student body and staff.<br />


the MIRROR<br />

C<br />


OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 5<br />

FRESH FACES Four teachers join the faculty<br />



Mr. David Radyuk<br />

World History Teacher<br />

Teaching inspiration? My 11th grade teacher was<br />

awesome and made me enjoy school. This is why<br />

I decided to pursue a career in education so I can<br />

inspire students as well.<br />

Five adjectives that describe you? Ambitious,<br />

responsible, funny, understanding and calm.<br />

Interests and hobbies? I like to travel and am<br />

saddened that the pandemic has put a halt to<br />

most of my plans. I was lucky that I got to visit Japan<br />

right before the world shut down. I also enjoy<br />

cooking new recipes and foods. Another hobby of<br />

mine is video games.<br />

Most rewarding aspect of your profession?<br />

Connecting with students and learning about their<br />

lives. Everyone has a unique journey and it gives<br />

me a perspective into the youth of our generation.<br />

It also keeps me connected and in the loop of what<br />

is popular.<br />

Most challenging? Trying to get certain students<br />

who don’t care to see the value in education.<br />

Teaching philosophy? I personally feel that the<br />

most important aspect of teaching is connecting<br />

with the student. Once a student feels that they<br />

have some common interest or share a bond<br />

of sorts, everything else comes easy. This is the<br />

reason I try to learn about every student and play<br />

into their interests as it makes teaching easier and<br />

more interesting.<br />

Ms. Aditi Doshi<br />

World and US History Teacher<br />

Teaching inspiration? I became a teacher to<br />

address educational inequity in American public<br />

schools. Every young person in America deserves<br />

a high quality, rigorous public school education. In<br />

fact, our democracy depends on it. But so many<br />

factors prevent this - your zip code, your family<br />

background and whether your community can fill<br />

funding gaps. Throughout my career I have sought<br />

out schools that are committed to this goal of<br />

equal, excellent education for all. I am grateful to<br />

be part of such communities like Van Nuys High<br />

School.<br />

Five adjectives that describe you? Lifelong<br />

learner, reader, kind, Indian-American and tired.<br />

Interests and hobbies? I am in a graduate<br />

program for American history, and love studying<br />

the history of Los Angeles through the lens of<br />

communities of color. I have three kids ages 5 to<br />

12 and enjoy spending time at our local beaches,<br />

museums and hiking trails with them. I enjoy<br />

running and jogging on the Orange Line bike path<br />

on weekends.<br />

Most rewarding aspect of your profession? My<br />

students allow me to explore history with new<br />

eyes every year. <strong>The</strong>y also challenge me to question<br />

my own assumptions about race, gender,<br />

sexuality, culture and more as our society continues<br />

to evolve. I am grateful for their kindness,<br />

patience and inquisitiveness.<br />

Most challenging? Public schools are ground zero<br />

for so many politically-charged conversations in<br />

America. I struggle with knowing my colleagues<br />

and I work very hard to create the best learning<br />

opportunities for our students but are often<br />

scapegoats for bigger social issues. I also struggle<br />

to balance my commitment to my students and<br />

my life outside of school.<br />

Teaching philosophy? I try to create a classroom<br />

where all students are honored and respected. We<br />

approach the study of history as historians do, by<br />

asking interesting questions and digging into historical<br />

sources to reconstruct narratives. My role<br />

is to guide students through this inquiry process<br />

and provide opportunities to showcase student<br />

work through projects like documentary films,<br />

museum exhibits, debates and more.<br />

Mr. Dan Wasserman<br />

Learning Lab Teacher<br />

Teaching inspiration? My high school coaches<br />

hired me to work in their summer youth sports<br />

camp when I was a high school senior. That experience<br />

of positively impacting the lives of young<br />

people inspired me to want to pursue a career in<br />

education where I could strive to help others on a<br />

daily basis.<br />

Five adjectives that describe you? Talkative, enthusiastic,<br />

persistent, friendly and adventurous.<br />

Interests and hobbies? I enjoy outdoor activities,<br />

such as mountain and road biking, trail running<br />

and snowboarding. I also enjoy cooking and photography;<br />

however, I am still a beginner with my<br />

camera.<br />

Most rewarding aspect of your profession?<br />

Without a doubt playing a small part in helping<br />

to instill in my students a confidence and belief<br />

in themselves and their abilities to be successful<br />

students; as well as kind, thoughtful, and responsible<br />

citizens; and then being able to observe or<br />

hear about my students applying this knowledge<br />

to help improve their academic and personal lives.<br />

Most challenging? Successfully getting all your<br />

work complete on time to have enough free time<br />

to focus on your own interests and hobbies - having<br />

a good work-life balance.<br />

Teaching philosophy? First and foremost, I<br />

believe in creating a welcoming and inclusive<br />

learning environment where all students feel<br />

welcome and know that their voices are heard,<br />

respected and valued within the class community.<br />

I believe that students learn best through<br />

active and engaging exploration of ideas and<br />

concepts and then collaboratively sharing,<br />

discussing and debating the many diverse perspectives,<br />

viewpoints and ideas of their peers. I<br />

believe social interaction enriches the learning<br />

experience for all involved. I view my role as a<br />

guide and mentor advising and supporting my<br />

students through the learning process and providing<br />

opportunities for creativity and critical<br />

thought.<br />

Ms. Victoria Barrios<br />

Spanish Teacher<br />

Teaching inspiration? No one really. I have<br />

always wanted to be of service. To me, teaching<br />

is a way of doing that while making a big impact<br />

through generations.<br />

Five adjectives that describe you? Strong, hardworking,<br />

woman, immigrant and dedicated.<br />

Interests and hobbies? I love to travel, read,<br />

support social justice causes through protesting<br />

or volunteering, spend time with my family, go to<br />

concerts and watch movies.<br />

Most rewarding aspect of your profession?<br />

Influencing people to do better for themselves and<br />

for others.<br />

Most challenging? This year and the overwhelming<br />

responsibilities put on teachers.<br />

Teaching philosophy? I want students to be more<br />

informed, tolerant and educated about other<br />

people’s cultures. Actively engaging in supporting<br />

and helping others is also something I believe in<br />

and want my students to learn.<br />


6 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

L<br />


the MIRROR<br />


DRIVING HIS WAY TO THE TOP Chad Agruso uses a digital multimeter to test an electric component.<br />


VROOM<br />

VROOM<br />

Autoshop speeds in with new projects<br />



A<br />

student peers into a classroom,<br />

curiously observing.<br />

Scanning the room, they<br />

notice several students listening<br />

to a teacher intently. <strong>The</strong>ir eyes<br />

land on an array of electrical circuit<br />

boards, safely situated on a table. Out<br />

of the corner of their eye, they can see<br />

desktop computers stationed on one<br />

side of the room, while the other is occupied<br />

by tools.<br />

As the teacher drones on, their ears<br />

perk up at the mention of disassembling<br />

parts of a vehicle. Students nod their<br />

heads, scribbling down notes.<br />

For Automotive Academy students taking<br />

the automotive course with automotive<br />

teacher Mr. Joseph Agruso, this may<br />

be what a regular day in the classroom<br />

looks like. Other days, students may be taking<br />

vehicular parts apart themselves.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Automotive Academy at school is<br />

associated with SkillsUSA, a nonprofit national<br />

education association that prepares<br />

high school, college and middle school students<br />

for career and technical education.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y’ve had a long-time relationship with<br />

Galpin Ford, being hired upon completion<br />

of Ford training. <strong>The</strong>y’re an ACE certified<br />

school, which is an accredited school with<br />

ACCELERATING THE FUTURE Student teacher<br />

Donna Salazar assists students with building<br />

their sample circuits on electrical training boards.<br />

ENGINEERED TO LAST NASA plans a return mission<br />

to Earth’s natural satellite, Luna, as early as<br />


L<br />

the MIRROR OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 7<br />



Mr. Agruso assists Nate<br />

Reiwtavee with his electrical<br />

board.<br />

the Ford Motor Company.<br />

Students enrolled in the Automotive<br />

Academy are provided with<br />

competition events, educational programs<br />

and community service hours.<br />

In addition, they gain the opportunity<br />

to learn useful college, career and industry<br />

skills in high demand careers,<br />

such as engineering.<br />

“We’re working on setting up<br />

electrical boards and diving into some<br />

stuff on cars, such as brake inspection,<br />

changing tires on rims and balancing<br />

wheels,” a member of autoshop at<br />

SkillsUSA, Nate Reiwtavee, said.<br />

Students taking the automotive<br />

class with Mr. Agruso are currently<br />

learning the fundamentals of electrical<br />

engineering, using OHM’s law<br />

trainer electrical circuit boards to assist<br />

them in better understanding the<br />

basics. Along with insight into such<br />

topics, students have been looking<br />

into automotive systems, a study on<br />

the various components of vehicles.<br />

Joining Mr. Agruso’s class will also<br />

provide students access to free Ford<br />

training in assembly and fixing.<br />

Regarding plans for the future, Mr.<br />

Agruso is beginning to prepare students<br />

for the regional competitions in<br />

January, offered at SkillsUSA.<br />

Along with this, Mr. Agruso has two<br />

California State Officers for “SkillsU-<br />

SA” flying all over California, working<br />

with the capitol office in Sacramento.<br />

Outside enjoying all the technical<br />

aspects of automotive engineering,<br />

individuals within the Automotive<br />

Academy value the joy it brings them.<br />

“Working on cars is a passion of<br />

mine,” Reiwtavee said. “When I am<br />

working on them, I feel calm. It gives<br />

me a sense of comfort.”<br />


MACHINE Auto shop students<br />

gather in the workshop<br />

awaiting advisor Chad<br />

Agruso’s demonstration.<br />

ALL ABOUT THE DRIVE SkillsUSA students look over a previous<br />

repair to see what is causing the golf cart engine to misfire.<br />


SkillsUSA provides future<br />

job opportunities for<br />

students through handson<br />


8 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

L<br />


the MIRROR<br />

Last-minute hacks for Halloween procrastinators<br />

Being short on time won’t be a hindrance to dressing up this Halloween. Here are some<br />

easy costumes anyone can make in less than a day | ANGELICA VENTURINA<br />


Scary spirit of Halloween<br />

If you left your costume until the morning of, just<br />

grab your bed sheet — the whiter the better — and<br />

some scissors. Cut eye and breathing holes. Throw<br />

the sheet over your head to achieve a simple and<br />

spooky look.<br />

067 anyone? Want to be a character from<br />

the popular Netflix show “Squid Game?” Get a green<br />

zip-up sweater, scissors, green fabric and paper.<br />

Take several blank pieces of paper and cut out the<br />

numbers of your favorite character. Use pins, glue<br />

or tape to attach each individual number to a green,<br />

rectangular-shaped fabric. Glue the numbered patch<br />

onto the sweater. Or order next-day from Amazon.<br />

Throw a white T-shirt under and you’re all set.<br />

Camouflage in the classroom<br />

Another creative look that will leave people wondering<br />

what you are is a bulletin board. All you need to<br />

do is dig into your pencil bag and grab sticky notes<br />

and a permanent marker. Pull on a brown T-shirt<br />

and stick some post-it notes all over it. Scribble<br />

some writing on each note using the marker and<br />

you’re good to go.<br />




Take the floor<br />

Want to stand out in a crowd of ghosts? Be a<br />

movie theater floor. All you need is a couple<br />

pieces of candy along with a black shirt paired<br />

with black pants. Tape empty candy wrappers<br />

and movie tickets all over the black shirt and<br />

you’re set.<br />

Relive Inauguration Day<br />

For a comedic costume inspired by the Bernie<br />

Sanders inauguration meme, grab a puffy jacket,<br />

a pair of glasses, knitted mittens and a mask.<br />

This cozy look will steal laughs from anyone<br />

who passes by.<br />

Explore the islands from home<br />

Looking like a tourist on vacation is a low-effort task,<br />

and it only requires a couple things: khaki shorts, a<br />

floral top, a straw hat, white socks and open-toe sandals.<br />

You can even throw in a camera or sunglasses,<br />

or you can stop by the nearest Party City.<br />

Two days of honoring the dead<br />


Día de los Muertos is unlike any other holiday.<br />

It’s a day of remembrance for both the dead<br />

and the living.<br />

<strong>The</strong> two-day celebration, originating in<br />

Mexico, takes place from Nov. 1 to 2. It celebrates deceased<br />

loved ones. Usually, family and friends come together to set<br />

up and decorate ofrendas, or altars.<br />

“I celebrate Dia de los Muertos by lighting candles for my<br />

loved ones and friends who passed away,” senior Isabella<br />

Rivera said. “We light candles for them and place them in<br />

front of their pictures. We also visit the cemetery, leaving<br />

flowers for our other dead loved ones that have passed on.”<br />

This year, Rivera, a member of the Spanish Club, is<br />

helping to decorate an altar with other club members to<br />

celebrate.<br />

Senior Antonio Hermenegildo celebrates with his family<br />

by visiting the San Fernando Park to host arts and crafts<br />

sessions.<br />

“We provide sugar skulls for kids to decorate with frosting,”<br />

Hermenegildo said. “We also share knowledge about<br />

the history of Día de los Muertos, such as its origin and how<br />

it is celebrated.”<br />

On Día de los Muertos, sugar skulls represent death<br />

through sweetness and nostalgia.<br />

But in modern-day celebrations, people paint their faces<br />

to look like skulls, decorating it to represent a deceased<br />

loved one or an expression of themselves.<br />

Senior Alice Alcantar looks forward to spending the holiday<br />

with her family, making altars for loved ones who have<br />

passed away.<br />

“To prepare, my family and I purchased cempasúchil<br />

flowers and candles to decorate the altars,” Alcantar said.<br />

“On the altar itself, we put pictures of our loved ones who<br />

have passed, and objects they liked. Once the day arrives,<br />

we place food and drink items that they enjoyed since it’s<br />

believed that they come to visit us and eat what we leave<br />

out for them.”<br />


ALTARS AND SKULLS AP Spanish Club President Isabella Rivera decorates<br />

Spanish teacher Ms. Maricela Garcia’s room in honor of Día de los Muertos.

L<br />

the MIRROR OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 9<br />


All glammed up<br />

A passion for makeup<br />



Makeup isn’t just<br />

for covering up<br />

blemishes on a<br />

rough day.<br />

For a lot of people, it’s an<br />

outlet for creativity and a way<br />

of boosting confidence.<br />

Most teenagers today are<br />

self-taught makeup artists and<br />

create their own techniques<br />

along the way to form their<br />

distinct styles.<br />

Some, like junior Michael<br />

Zamarippa, take inspiration<br />

from celebrities and pop culture<br />

trends.<br />

Zamarippa found his<br />

passion for makeup through<br />

American singer-songwriter<br />

Lady Gaga.<br />

He learned that makeup<br />

shouldn’t be seen as a way to<br />

hide imperfections but rather<br />

a mode of expression and<br />

pride.<br />

“Lady Gaga was my first<br />

inspiration to start doing<br />

makeup,” he said. “She’s very<br />

talented and unique. I have<br />

always wanted to recreate her<br />

creative and unusual makeup<br />

looks. During her ‘Born This<br />

Way’ era, she had incredible<br />

visuals and spread a powerful<br />

message, which gave me the<br />

confidence to start getting into<br />

makeup and not care about<br />

what others say.”<br />

Zamarippa’s current influence<br />

is American singer Ashnikko<br />

with her vibrant graphic<br />

eyeliner looks and punk-esque<br />

wardrobe.<br />

He disagrees with the<br />

notion that makeup is only<br />

meant for women.<br />

“Makeup is not limited to a<br />

specific gender,” he said. “It is a<br />

form of artistic expression.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are different kinds of<br />

looks people usually go for. A<br />

few popular examples would<br />

be smokey, natural, shimmery<br />

and cat eye styles. Zamarippa<br />

would describe his base<br />

makeup as soft and natural<br />

looking, whereas his eye<br />

makeup is a mix of alternative<br />

and editorial styles.<br />

“A great artist named Bob<br />

Ross once said, ‘We don’t<br />

make mistakes, just happy<br />

little accidents,’” Zamarippa<br />

said. “<strong>The</strong> best part about<br />

makeup is that there are no<br />

mistakes, and you can always<br />

fix something that you are<br />

not satisfied with. <strong>The</strong>re are<br />

no right or wrong techniques<br />

when it comes to makeup.<br />

Each person has their own<br />

preferences and shouldn’t be<br />

limited to any one technique.”<br />

Zamarippa’s everyday<br />

makeup is very different from<br />

his “no makeup” look. In his<br />

“no makeup” look, he applies<br />

Fenty Beauty tinted moisturizer,<br />

light-to-medium foundation<br />

and tops it off with a<br />

Fenty Beauty matte powder<br />

to ensure his look lasts all<br />

day. He finishes off his look<br />

with cream blush and tinted<br />

eyebrow gel.<br />

For more vibrant looks, he<br />

likes to incorporate accessories<br />

such as self-adhesive<br />

rhinestones and pearls.<br />

A goal he hopes to accomplish<br />

this year is to show<br />

up at school with a different<br />

makeup look everyday.<br />

“From my own personal<br />

experience, I started out practicing<br />

makeup by following<br />

what was popular at the time,<br />

such as basic smokey eye and<br />

hollywood glamour-esque<br />

makeup,” he said. “<strong>The</strong>re were<br />

certain makeup techniques<br />

that I felt were very useful and<br />

that I still incorporate into my<br />

everyday routine.”<br />

Junior Merari Hernandes<br />

started out using makeup to<br />

cover up blemishes and correct<br />

the redness of her skin.<br />

She believes creating symmetric<br />

makeup looks is essential<br />

when first learning how to do<br />

makeup. Knowing what facial<br />

structure type she had helped<br />

Hernandes improve in that<br />

area.<br />

“To me, the most important<br />

thing in makeup is symmetry,”<br />

she said. “For example,<br />

although it may be easy to do<br />

a design on one eye, trying to<br />

recreate the same thing on<br />

the other side of your face is<br />

difficult.”<br />

As Hernandes continued<br />

to experiment over time, she<br />

pushed herself to work with<br />

different colors and shapes to<br />

come up with different looks.<br />

Before Hernandes found what<br />

her style was, she tried every<br />

single one to determine what<br />

suited her best.<br />

“I would describe my makeup<br />

as creative,” Hernandes<br />

said. “I love to experiment with<br />

styles out of my comfort zone.<br />

Your face is like a canvas, so be<br />

creative when creating a look.<br />

Even if it means you need<br />

to get out of your comfort<br />

zone, play with new colors or<br />

shapes.”<br />

Junior Sage Carpenter Rihs<br />

is also a self-taught artist.<br />

Despite not having an exact<br />

style, her go-to look is black<br />

mascara paired with liquid<br />

eyeliner. Rihs believes simplicity<br />

is a great form of expression.<br />

Like Hernandes, Rihs also<br />

found that understanding<br />

one’s facial structure is the<br />

most crucial part to makeup.<br />

“I kind of started out with<br />

just eyeliner, and went with it,”<br />

Rihs said. “Figure out the proportion<br />

of your face and eye<br />

shape, especially when doing<br />

eyeliner.”<br />

Junior Ashley Sarai Valle’s<br />

favorite product is eyeliner as<br />

well, and her usual look ordinarily<br />

includes e-girl aesthetics.<br />

Rather than being swayed by<br />

internet trends or superstars,<br />

Valle’s biggest influence in<br />

makeup was her sister.<br />

“Before you’re going to<br />

learn makeup, just know<br />

you’re beautiful with or without<br />

it,” Valle said.<br />


BEJEWELED Michael Zamarippa flaunts his intricate<br />

eyeshadow look complete with rhinestones and pearls.

10/11 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

COVER<br />

Stress<br />

Teenagers are struggling to stay afloat in school as they deal with s<br />

By Ani Tutunjyan, Editor-in-Chief<br />

Do math homework. Read<br />

for English. Write history<br />

essay. Prep for club meeting.<br />

Clean the house. Get your life<br />

together!!!<br />

This is what most high<br />

school students’ daily checklists<br />

look like, and most items<br />

fail to get crossed off.<br />

Whether it’s academic<br />

responsibilities or strained<br />

relationships, teens are<br />

stressed.<br />

More than one in three high school students<br />

had experienced persistent feelings<br />

of sadness or hopelessness in 2019 according<br />

to the Centers for Disease Control and<br />

Prevention (CDC).<br />

Various adolescent studies have found<br />

that the pandemic has worsened these<br />

conditions, leaving teenagers more stressed<br />

and more anxious than before.<br />

Physical distancing restrictions put in<br />

place to contain covid-19 led to widespread<br />

social isolation which has permanently<br />

changed social relations today.<br />

Many students struggled with returning<br />

to lively social situations present at school<br />

after being away from classmates and<br />

friends.<br />

“Being in quarantine really messed me<br />

up and destroyed most of my social skills,”<br />

freshman Kevin Rodriguez said.<br />

Some people have developed social anxiety<br />

from being away from others for so long.<br />

New psychiatric social worker Kat Stockly,<br />

who specializes in adolescent well being<br />

and previously worked for the Pasadena<br />

Unified School District to provide mental<br />

health services to students, is not surprised<br />

to see mental health issues arising from<br />

quarantine.<br />

“I think a lot that I’m seeing as of right<br />

now are high anxiety being around a lot of<br />

people which makes a lot of sense because<br />

we spent a lot of time in isolation,” Stockly<br />

said. “So coming back to school and being<br />

around a lot of people expecting to<br />

participate has been difficult for students,<br />

especially if you are a little introverted. It’s<br />

kind of a shock to the system and it takes a<br />

lot of adjusting.”<br />

Students who may have had anxiety<br />

prior to quarantine, have witnessed their<br />

mental health worsen.<br />

“During the pandemic I was diagnosed<br />

with social anxiety, major depressive disorder,<br />

Severe anxiety, post traumatic stress<br />

disorder (PTSD), panic disorder,and dissociative<br />

identity disorder (DID),” sophomore<br />

Winter Rivers. “Being back in school just<br />

makes me very easy to trigger.”<br />

Mental health issues arising from the<br />

pandemic have made returning to in-person<br />

learning challenging for many students.<br />

“Although returning in person has helped<br />

me actually learn and get my grades up, it<br />

has been stressful,” freshman Alexis Martinez<br />

said. “Over the<br />

ethic and could b<br />

I felt so stressed a<br />

affects me even n<br />

still have trouble c<br />

and finding the m<br />

Majority of stu<br />

struggles while tr<br />

pandemic educat<br />

ongoing pandemi<br />

90 percent of s<br />

return to campus<br />

ing according to a<br />

<strong>Mirror</strong>.<br />

“It’s odd going b<br />

with the added st<br />

mental health has<br />

it all depends on t

STORY<br />

the MIRROR<br />

sucks<br />

tress, anxiety and other mental health struggles prevailing from quarantine<br />

ILLUSTRATED BY Diego Aguirre<br />

pandemic, I lost my work<br />

arely do any work because<br />

nd overwhelmed. That still<br />

ow that we’re in-person. I<br />

ompleting my homework<br />

otivation to actually do it.”<br />

dents are facing the same<br />

ying to adjust to preional<br />

life in the midst of an<br />

c.<br />

tudents have found the<br />

stressful and overwhelmsurvey<br />

conducted by <strong>The</strong><br />

ack to old ways and now<br />

ress of a pandemic. My<br />

been a roller coaster and<br />

he week,” senior Jennifer<br />

Llanos said.<br />

Online learning was seemingly more<br />

informal than in person. Students often<br />

joined from bed while in pajamas. Classes<br />

became unengaging after staring at a screen<br />

for hours with little opportunity to collaborate<br />

or do tactile projects. Consequently,<br />

students struggle with staying motivated<br />

and keeping up their work ethic.<br />

“Online learning was much less stressful<br />

than in-person learning,” sophomore Isabell<br />

Marroquin said. “In-person classes provide<br />

teachers the chance to assign students<br />

more work than necessary. It’s a lot to deal<br />

with and makes it difficult to keep motivation<br />

for school, and in general.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> lack of motivation and focus has<br />

made students stressed.<br />

“I have been behind by a lot, I can’t focus<br />

much and I tend to cry at least once a day,”<br />

sophomore Shadie Galdamez said.<br />

Covid-19 and its effects on learning aren’t<br />

the only things to be stressed about.<br />

Other factors of stress include homelife,<br />

relationships, sexuality and peer pressure.<br />

65 percent of survey respondents cited<br />

parents as a stress factor.<br />

“My home life with my parents is often<br />

pretty stressful, even as an only child, just<br />

to reach my parents standards,” Marroquin<br />

said.<br />

Friendships are no small trek either. 55<br />

percent of students are overwhelmed by<br />

juggling platonic and romantic relationships.<br />

“Just having to deal with school and<br />

juggling friendships is very hard,” freshman<br />

Xavier Serrano.<br />

Despite the challenges, students are finding<br />

ways to cope with the stress of being a<br />

teenager in extraordinary times..<br />

“I play a lot of videos and listen to music<br />

and just doodle sometimes to help me<br />

forget all the pressure I have on myself for a<br />

little bit,” senior Lilly Magee said.<br />

A majority of students use music as an<br />

outlet for emotions.<br />

“I tend to take a break. I distance myself<br />

for a moment and listen to music and just<br />

enjoy my own presence,” Llanos said.<br />

Some students look to nature to ground<br />

themselves.<br />

“I try to watch the clouds just so I can<br />

focus on something that still moves but<br />

doesn’t put me into a place where I want to<br />

feel out of reality,” Serrano said.<br />

Stockly recommends being present in<br />

the moment and talking things out when<br />

dealing with anxiety or stress.<br />

“I think there is a mental aspect and<br />

a physical aspect showing in your body,”<br />

Stockly said. “ I Think sometimes when you<br />

have a lot of anxious thoughts and you’re<br />

kind of keeping it inside and internalizing<br />

it, it’s a little bit harder to process. Talking<br />

about your feelings and what you’re going<br />

through can really help you process and<br />

deal with the anxiety better.”

12 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

O<br />



A seven-week-old human<br />

embryo, above, has more<br />

rights in Texas than the<br />

person who carries it<br />

according to the state’s<br />

new abortion law.<br />


theMIRROR<br />

VOLUME 108 | ISSUE 1<br />



Ani Tutunjyan<br />


Shaan Bhatia<br />

Nathan Han<br />

the MIRROR<br />


Punishing the living in defense of the unborn<br />

<strong>The</strong>re’s more than one virus<br />

spreading in America and<br />

one of them isn’t coronavirus.<br />

It’s the attack on<br />

women’s rights.<br />

A draconian six-week abortion ban —<br />

based on when a fetus’s heartbeat is first<br />

detectable — already has pregnant Texans<br />

scrambling to states as far as California to<br />

get an abortion.<br />

A period typically comes every four<br />

weeks, which means banning abortion at<br />

six weeks gives people just two weeks to<br />

realize they are pregnant and make the<br />

decision of getting an abortion. Additionally,<br />

about one in 475 pregnancies are not<br />

revealed until around 20 weeks because<br />

they are hidden.<br />

Texans seeking to get an abortion after<br />

six weeks can be fined up to $10,000 in<br />

“statutory damages” by civil lawsuits that<br />

can be brought to court by any person.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se fines would also apply to abortion<br />

providers or any person who “aided or<br />

abetted” such as Uber drivers that drove<br />

them to their appointment.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are no exemptions for rape or incest.<br />

Cisgender male politicians who have absolutely<br />

no clue how a menstruating body<br />

works are creating laws that only seek to<br />

police women’s bodies.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se are the same people who say the<br />

government should not be allowed to mandate<br />

masks because “my body, my choice,”<br />

right? Where is that same conviction in<br />

regards to women’s rights?<br />

Why is it okay for the government to tell<br />

women, transgender men and nonbinary<br />

people what they can do with their bodies?<br />

<strong>The</strong> abortion ban is a calculated attack<br />

on these groups.<br />

It’s not about preserving life. If that were<br />

the case, politicians would also push for<br />

free health care and child care, healthy<br />

“My body, my choice.”<br />

What’s the first issue you thought of<br />

when you heard that: abortion or vaccinations?<br />

It should be abortions but that unfortunately is not what the<br />

phrase is being used for anymore.<br />

<strong>The</strong> expression is now popular among a new wave of anti-vaxxers<br />

against the covid-19 vaccine.<br />

From unmasked protests downtown to misinforming social<br />

media posts, anti-vaxxers are relentless.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y believe they’re the lions among a herd of sheep, too wise<br />

to fall for the lies of the government.<br />

Well, there are some “lions” among our staff, or at least there<br />

used to be.<br />

Teachers and staff were required to receive their first dose of<br />

the covid-19 vaccine by Oct. 15, and while 97 percent of LAUSD<br />

staff did, 796 chose not to.<br />

And now students across the second-largest school district<br />

in the U.S. are left to their own devices, forced to face the conse-<br />

lunches in schools and covid-19 vaccines.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y would help the nearly 35,000 children<br />

in Texas’s foster care system.<br />

But that’s not happening. Calling themselves<br />

pro-life is just a convenient facade.<br />

Lawmakers and other pro-life individuals<br />

care more about an unborn fetus than<br />

a living person in need of an abortion<br />

whether it’s because they were raped or are<br />

simply not ready to raise a child.<br />

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas<br />

would work aggressively to “eliminate<br />

all rapists” but in 2019, of 14,656 rapes<br />

reported, around only 15 percent of<br />

perpetrators were arrested. This number<br />

doesn’t include rape and incest victims<br />

who are too scared to report their assault<br />

or have no faith in the system.<br />

Texas is yet to make any policy change<br />

to keep its promise.<br />

Regardless of whether a person seeking<br />

to get an abortion is raped or simply<br />


does not want the child, they have the<br />

right to safe, legal abortion without having<br />

to explain themselves to anyone.<br />

As seen throughout history and in countries<br />

that have criminalized abortion, banning<br />

abortions does not change abortion<br />

rates. It just makes people seek out dangerous<br />

alternatives, even taking matters into<br />

their own hands by using a clothes hanger.<br />

In a state that swears by the Constitution,<br />

the Establishment Clause that separates<br />

church and state seems to be ignored.<br />

Religious and personal beliefs should<br />

have no ties to the legality of abortions, and<br />

if politicians cannot make that separation<br />

when on the clock, then they are not qualified<br />

for the job.<br />

A blob of cells without a functioning<br />

brain isn’t a baby.<br />

To pro-life individuals and cisgender<br />

men: no one asked you to get an abortion<br />

so sit down and shut up.<br />

You lost your job, now what? Teachers and staff would<br />

rather lose their jobs than get a vaccine to protect the<br />

students they claim to love to teach.<br />

quences of teachers who were meant to educate them and shape<br />

them into functioning members of society.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y stand outside their teacherless classrooms waiting for<br />

substitutes to arrive. English teachers are covering math classes<br />

and science teachers covering history.<br />

What are students learning? Not much.<br />

Because how can an English teacher be expected to teach<br />

Algebra 2, a subject they last visited when they were in high school<br />

themselves.<br />

In a time when the nation is already facing a teacher shortage<br />

because of low wages and deplorable working conditions, the administration<br />

is left scrambling to find people to temporarily cover<br />

classrooms and teachers to employ long-term.<br />

In the meantime, students aren’t learning subjects required by<br />

the district and state and elective classes they may have joined<br />

this school specifically for.<br />

So we ask these former teachers, now what?<br />

How do you feel leaving behind students who once looked<br />

up to you?<br />


Antony Nepeyvoda<br />


Angelina Gevorgyan<br />

Angelica Venturina<br />


Dakota Threats<br />


Csarina Jarencio<br />


Isabela Diaz<br />


Drake Hernandez<br />


Angela Proca<br />

Beverly Regino<br />


Makayla Enciso<br />


Allison Antonio<br />

Gabriel Castillo<br />

Jessica Cerventes<br />

Jennifer Garcia<br />

Jaden Hantman<br />

Angelina Kanno<br />

Emi Kim<br />

Christopher Linares<br />

Kimberly Luna<br />

Julianna Macfarlane<br />

Vannesa Machado<br />

Kyrillos Mina<br />

Andrea Parada<br />

Mereline Perez<br />

Samantha Ramos<br />

Emma Salehi<br />

Isabella Thomas<br />

Diana Zalmanov<br />


Mr. Ron Goins<br />

ABOUT US <strong>The</strong> <strong>Mirror</strong> is the student<br />

newspaper of Van Nuys Senior High<br />

School in Van Nuys, California, a district<br />

of Los Angeles, published six times per<br />

year. Opinions expressed in bylined commentary<br />

articles and columns represent<br />

the views of the individual writer and do<br />

not necessarily reflect the views of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Mirror</strong> or the Editorial Board.<br />

DISTRIBUTION Copies are free<br />

to students, faculty and staff and are<br />

available in Room 112, Second Floor,<br />

Main Building. Digital issues are available<br />

at yumpu.com.<br />


editorials represent the majority<br />

opinion of the Editorial Board. Letters<br />

to the Editor may be delivered to Room<br />

112 or mailed to <strong>The</strong> <strong>Mirror</strong>, 6535 Cedros<br />

Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91411. Letters must be<br />

signed and may be edited for space to<br />

conform to <strong>The</strong> <strong>Mirror</strong> style and format.<br />

ADVERTISING Advertising questions<br />

may be directed to Makayla Enciso at<br />

vnhsmirroradvertising@gmail.com, or<br />

by telephoning (818) 788-6800. Publication<br />

of an advertisement does not imply<br />

endorsement of the product or service<br />

by the newspaper or the school.<br />

MEMBERSHIPS National Scholastic<br />

Press Association (NSPA), Columbia<br />

Scholastic Press Association (CSPA),<br />

Southern California Journalism Educators<br />

Association (SCJEA) and Los<br />

Angeles Press Club.<br />

AWARDS <strong>2021</strong>-22 NSPA Pacemaker<br />

Finalist; 2020-21 NSPA Pacemaker<br />

Award winner; 2020-21 CSPA Silver<br />

Crown winner; 2020-21 SCJEA First<br />

Place All-Star; 2020-21 LA Press Club<br />

First Place High School Newspaper.

OL<br />

the MIRROR OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 13<br />



College application season is in full force and I’m stressed out<br />


It’s that time of the year when “work<br />

on college apps!” is on my to-do list<br />

every day but never gets checked off.<br />

College application season is in full<br />

force and I am stressed out.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re’s so much to do from applying to<br />

FAFSA to writing over a dozen essays, not<br />

to mention the many parts of the application<br />

itself that are confusing to fill out.<br />

I need to pick one pivotal moment that<br />

encompasses my entire personality and<br />

reflect on it in 650 words or less. That’s too<br />

much pressure and not enough words.<br />

Writing isn’t the only thing to be overwhelmed<br />

about when applying to college.<br />

College costs hundreds of thousands<br />

of dollars. And each application alone can<br />

cost anywhere between $60 to $80.<br />

Some people even take a gap year to<br />

work to afford college, while others work<br />

all summer before college instead of<br />

having fun with their friends to pay for<br />

textbooks the next semester.<br />

Your worry is still not over if you manage<br />

to write good essays, find money for<br />

your applications and scholarships for your<br />

tuition. Because for the next three months,<br />

you’ll be sitting at the edge of your seat<br />

wondering if the admission officers reading<br />

essays think you’re interesting enough, if<br />

your grades are good enough, if your extracurriculars<br />

are unique enough and if you’re<br />

an overall good fit for their college.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re’s a constant pressure of trying<br />

to be the perfect person and make all the<br />

right choices in high school when you’re<br />

not even old enough to vote. And college<br />

applications are a test of how close to that<br />

person you have become, all based on a<br />

mysterious formula.<br />

High school competitiveness is at an all<br />

time high while college acceptances are at<br />

an all time low. Students are competing<br />

for the highest grades, the most extracurriculars,<br />

and the best recognitions.<br />

College acceptances have created a<br />

toxic culture in high schools that likely will<br />

not dissolve was college acceptance rates<br />

continue to drop.<br />

While I’d be happy to get into any UC or<br />

CSU school, I’ve also fallen victim to college<br />

elitism, seeking to receive acceptance<br />

from the school with the most pristine<br />

name and the lowest acceptance rate<br />

even if the campus or student life might<br />

not be for me.<br />

It’s a dilemma almost every high school<br />

student faces. All we can hope for is that<br />

we make the best choice for our individual<br />

needs when the time for decisions<br />

does come.<br />

<strong>The</strong> intricacies of college are likely<br />

something I won’t really understand even<br />

after I apply to college and get accepted.<br />

Teaching the Holocaust: Sometimes there aren’t two sides to an issue<br />

<strong>The</strong> Holocaust was a horrific genocide. Six million<br />

Jews were murdered.<br />

That’s a fact everyone agrees on. Well, everyone<br />

except neo-Nazis and other Holocaust deniers.<br />

Southlake, Texas school administrator Gina Peddy<br />

seems to concur with neo-Nazis that the Holocaust is<br />

Texas politicians<br />

want to rewrite<br />

history. <strong>The</strong> only<br />

diverse perspective<br />

on the Holocaust is<br />

DENIAL.<br />

a topic up for debate<br />

in schools. That it’s a<br />

topic with “opposing<br />

views.” Southlake is a<br />

suburb in the Dallas/<br />

Ft. Worth area.<br />

Peddy informed a<br />

group of Southlake elementary school teachers that<br />

if their classrooms include books and discussions on<br />

the Holocaust, then students should also be exposed<br />

to “opposing views.”<br />

After her directive was secretly recorded and posted<br />

by one of the training<br />

session attendees, Peddy<br />

explained that she was<br />

just trying to keep teachers<br />

in compliance with<br />

Texas House Bill 3979.<br />

Signed into law on<br />

Sept. 1 by Governor Greg<br />

Abbott, the new law prohibits educators from discussing<br />

controversial historical, social or political issues.<br />

When these subjects do arise, the law mandates<br />

that teachers “explore such issues from diverse and<br />

contending perspectives without giving deference to<br />

any one perspective.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> only “diverse perspective” on the Holocaust is<br />

denial. Hitler didn’t kill six million Jewish people and<br />

hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t fit in his<br />

picture of a perfect specimen with blonde hair and<br />


blue eyes such as homosexuals.<br />

Texas politicians want to rewrite<br />

history.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir goal is to erase America’s<br />

real history which itself is muddled<br />

with genocide and colonization.<br />

This both-sides-ism can also be<br />

used to justify teaching teaching<br />

slave owners’ perspectives on slavery or even denying<br />

the existence of slavery as a whole.<br />

Lively debates in classrooms are an important part<br />

of the learning process but the Holocaust is not up for<br />

debate. Slavery is not up for debate. LGBTQ+ rights are<br />

not up for debate. Human rights are not up for debate.<br />

Educators should be the ones shaping the education<br />

curriculum, not legislators who are out of touch<br />

with the reality of their people.<br />

Not teaching history risks repeating it.

14 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> E<br />

the MIRROR<br />


<strong>The</strong> magical<br />

world of<br />

PUFFS<br />



and the<br />

wizards<br />

behind it<br />

PUTTING IN THE HOURS (Top L to R) Dante Damiano,<br />

Breeana Gerdes, Jude Struble, Michelle Levi, Dakota Threats,<br />

April Cho, (Bottom L to R) Rushmia Hussain, Sebastian<br />

Estrada and Gover Olivares practice five to six times a week<br />

in preparation for the fall play.<br />




And action!<br />

<strong>The</strong> drama department<br />

will make a debut after<br />

a year-long hiatus with<br />

their fall production of<br />

“PUFFS, or Seven Increasingly Eventful<br />

Years at a Certain School of Magic and<br />

Magic” from Nov. 18 to 20.<br />

<strong>The</strong> story of PUFFS follows Wayne<br />

Hopkins, a nerdy boy from New Mexico<br />

who finds out that he is a wizard and goes<br />

to Hogwarts where he spends his years<br />

making friends and learning magic.<br />

Hopkins will be played by senior Jude<br />

Struble.<br />

Though he has worked as part of the<br />

backstage crew in other productions,<br />

this is Struble’s second time being in the<br />

spotlight, the last time being “Peter and the<br />

Starcatcher” as Ted, an orphan boy, in 2019.<br />

“I haven’t done in-person acting in a<br />

year-and-a-half,” Struble said. “It’s weird<br />

having to be in front of people and speak<br />

out loud and physically interacting with<br />


other people.”<br />

Alongside Struble, seniors Edgar Muñoz,<br />

playing Oliver Rivers, and Michelle<br />

Levi, assuming the role of Megan Jones,<br />

are excited to make their return to the<br />

stage playing best friends and sidekicks to<br />

Hopkins as he embarks on his journey to<br />

magical discovery.<br />

“Going on stage brings me more joy<br />

than nerves,” Muñoz said. “I expect the<br />

performance to spark joy and laughter<br />

among the audience as much as it has to<br />

everyone involved.”<br />

Alongside the trio, many actors make<br />

their return to stage like junior Dante<br />

Damiano with the role of Ernie Mac and<br />

senior Gover Olivares, who plays both the<br />

charming Cedric and the nefarious Mr.<br />

Voldy.<br />

“It felt like second nature when the<br />

moment came back,” Olivares said. “<strong>The</strong><br />

moment I walked onto the stage under<br />

the light and faced the audience, a wave of<br />

nostalgia and happiness washed over me<br />

knowing I belonged there after so long.”<br />

Along with the returning actors comes<br />

some new faces in the ensemble.<br />

PUFFS cast<br />

Jude Struble<br />

Edgar Munoz<br />

Michelle Levi<br />

Julian Pankowski<br />

Narrator<br />

Dante Damiano<br />

Emma Salehi<br />

Hannah<br />

Breeana Gerdes<br />

Leanne<br />

Noa Levy<br />

April Cho<br />

Gover Olivares<br />

• Kevin “Eli” Tessier<br />

Harry<br />

Wayne Hopkins<br />

Oliver Rivers<br />

Megan Jones<br />

Ernie Mac<br />

Sebastian Estrada J. Finch Fletchley<br />

Sally Perks<br />

Susie Bones<br />

Cedric/Mr. Voldy<br />


Adrianna Bean, Emily Chavez,<br />

Addison Cudd, Sophia Hillestad,<br />

Maddie KC Jordan, Lilit Aprahamian,<br />

Jimmy Martinez, Ella Robinson,<br />

Ethan Rodda, Jake Ruckman, Angel<br />

Vazquez<br />

LIGHTS, CURTAIN, ACTION! “Puffs, or Seven<br />

Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of<br />

Magic and Magic” premiers on Thursday, Nov. 18 in<br />

the auditorium.

the MIRROR E<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 15<br />





<strong>The</strong>ater director Mollie<br />

Lief gives students<br />

stage directions while<br />

rehearsing for the play.<br />

IN THE LIMELIGHT (L to R) Michelle<br />

Levi, Jude Struble, Edgar Munoz rehearse<br />

with their scripts as they begin<br />

to block the play.<br />

Sophomore Sebastian Estrada, junior<br />

Breeana Gerdes and freshman April<br />

Cho are all making their acting debuts in<br />

“PUFFS.”<br />

“Being in a production feels scary but<br />

exciting at the same time,” Cho said. “I was<br />

so surprised when I saw I got a role, so I’m<br />

super happy to be a part of this fun play.”<br />

Taking part in the first production back<br />

at school since distance learning began in<br />

March 2019, the cast is excited to finally<br />

hit the stage and put on a long-awaited<br />

show in person.<br />

As the show is brought to life in front<br />

of a live audience by the cast of “PUFFS,”<br />

an unforeseen production is happening<br />

behind the curtains.<br />

<strong>The</strong> backstage crew is essential to provide<br />

the support needed to help ensure a musical<br />

or theater production comes to fruition.<br />

Stage managers serve as the right hand<br />

to the director and organize various aspects<br />

involved in the day-to-day happenings<br />

of a theater production.<br />

Senior Dakota Threats, one of the leading<br />

stage managers, and Madison Thacker,<br />

freshman and assistant stage manager,<br />

will join the backstage crew for the first<br />

time.<br />

Thacker explains that there is a stronger<br />

sense of dedication and professionalism<br />

in this theater program compared to<br />

that of her middle school.<br />

“Everybody seems more committed,”<br />

Thacker said. “In middle school, everyone<br />

did it for fun and now everyone seems so<br />

down to earth and serious about it.”<br />

Threats, an experienced cast member a<br />

step back from the spotlight and stepping<br />

into her new role as stage manager for the<br />

first time.<br />

“I love the stage and acting,” Threats<br />

said. “But there’s something so exhilarating<br />

about helping with the process and<br />

seeing the play come together in front of<br />

me.”<br />

Also behind the scenes, junior Rushmia<br />

Hussain controls background sounds,<br />

music and effects as sound board operator.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cast and crew will begin dress<br />

rehearsals Nov. 6.<br />


BREAK A LEG Gover Olivares and Jude Struble<br />

listen to stage directions given by Ms. Lief.

16 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> E<br />

the MIRROR<br />



REVIEW<br />

Pinkpantheress<br />

shows off in her<br />

new mixtape<br />

“to hell with it”<br />


NIMBLE MOVEMENTS (L to R) Damady Verganza, Tanaj Kinchen, Fatiah Lawal, Antonella<br />

Podesta, Ava Boris and Ariana Mariscal warm up at the barre by holding a tendu.<br />

Back on Pointe<br />

<strong>The</strong> Dance Company gets in the rhythm again<br />



And five, six, seven, eight!<br />

<strong>The</strong> dance department<br />

is bringing movement and<br />

flow back to campus.<br />

Due to distance learning, Dance<br />

Company — the school’s advanced<br />

dance team — could only host virtual<br />

performances last year which lacked a<br />

live audience.<br />

Now, the dance department is preparing<br />

for it’s annual winter show in<br />

which students display dances ranging<br />

from jazz to hip-hop to ballet.<br />

This year’s theme is “Howling at<br />

the Moon.’’ <strong>The</strong> show is expected to<br />

be performed outside throughout the<br />

quad to maintain social distancing<br />

guidelines and keep in touch with the<br />

theme. It will take place after school<br />

from Dec. 9 to 11.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> audience will be treated to<br />

something different, and acquire a renewed<br />

connection with the performers<br />

and with our beautiful campus,”<br />

dance teacher Ms. Diane Hula said.<br />

One piece the team is currently<br />

working on for the show is a jazz<br />

dance called “Let’s Live it Up” which<br />

was also performed during this year’s<br />

Homecoming Parade.<br />

“I’m really excited for the show,”<br />

dancer Abigail Lee said. “Dance showcases<br />

were my favorite part of dance<br />

before distance learning. Staying after<br />

school, getting ready with everyone<br />

else, dancing together, the feeling is<br />

incomparable to anything else. I can’t<br />

wait to do that again this year.”<br />

Although it took nearly two months<br />

to finish, it was the first collaboration<br />

with all of the company members since<br />

the return to campus.<br />

“Being back together meant we<br />

could finally work on more projects<br />

and dance pieces,” Dance Board President<br />

and company member Fatiah<br />

Lawal said.<br />

<strong>The</strong> team practices every day during<br />

sixth period and every Wednesday<br />

after school.<br />

“Being able to dance in person has<br />

been one of the best things about returning<br />

to in person school,” Lee said.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re is something different about<br />

dancing in a room with people who<br />

are just as dedicated and passionate<br />

about dancing as you are, and it’s honestly<br />

just a lot less lonely after a year of<br />

dancing alone in my room.”<br />

While the return to campus has<br />

opened the door to new opportunities,<br />

distance learning was a unique experience<br />

that took some getting used to.<br />

For students and teachers alike, it<br />

was an uphill battle lacking the faceto-face<br />

connections and interactions<br />

necessary to teach and learn dance.<br />

Ms. Hula recalls teaching dance as a<br />

challenge as it was hard to give details<br />

required for technique through Zoom.<br />

For students, it was difficult to learn<br />

how to dance on a computer screen<br />

and rehearse being restricted to their<br />

bedrooms. It was also hard to communicate<br />

when practicing dance pieces<br />

due to technical issues.<br />

“Last year was the first time I was<br />

in Dance Company and it was very<br />

difficult to learn how to dance on<br />

a computer screen,” Lawal said. “It<br />

was hard to bond and communicate<br />

with each other to get our dance<br />

pieces done.”<br />

Despite these difficulties, the program<br />

remained hopeful.<br />

“Even though the setting wasn’t<br />

perfect, I really connected with many<br />

students over the school year through<br />

the screen,” Ms. Hula said.<br />

Students were able to still learn<br />

many dance genres, combinations<br />

and all of the classes were involved in<br />

virtual performances.<br />

Prior to the school year starting, the<br />

Dance Company performed for a live<br />

audience.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> dancers rehearsed in the<br />

summer and performed an uplifting<br />

piece called ‘Born to Be Brave.’ It was<br />

televised on KLCS,” Hula said.<br />

After her surge in popularity on<br />

TikTok, Pinkpantheress finally<br />

releases her first mixtape<br />



In the midst of her booming popularity,<br />

internet sensation Pinkpantheress<br />

released her debut mixtape “to hell with it”<br />

on Oct.15.<br />

Her short, but sweet songs have taken<br />

social media platform TikTok by storm,<br />

resulting in her overnight growth in popularity.<br />

Her music went trending and has<br />

garnered hundreds of millions of streams.<br />

With all this hype and the constant anticipation<br />

of new material, a project was surely<br />

in the works. Now that it’s here, how is it?<br />

<strong>The</strong> project is filled with luscious vocals,<br />

gorgeous beats and heartfelt lyrics.<br />

Nearly all of the beats are made from<br />

samples of songs, from Adam F’s “Circles” on<br />

the beat of “Break It Off” and Sweet Female<br />

Attitude’s “Flowers” on “Pain.” <strong>The</strong> most<br />

interesting sample is on “Last Valentines”<br />

where the beat is that from “Forgotten” by<br />

Linkin Park, pitched down and sped up.<br />

<strong>The</strong> song lengths, while short, work in<br />

her favor.<br />

An issue I did have with the mixtape<br />

was the lack of new material it brings to<br />

the table. <strong>The</strong> album consists mainly of<br />

singles that have already been released.<br />

While it’s nice to see some of it brought<br />

to streaming services, I and many others<br />

were hoping for more. <strong>The</strong> whole project<br />

seems like it was wrapped up by her<br />

record label rather quickly.<br />

Nevertheless, the mixtape is a clear club<br />

classic. <strong>The</strong>re really isn’t a dull moment. I<br />

can’t wait to see what else she has in store,<br />

as she has enough talent to make a real<br />

career for herself. I’m hoping that she isn’t<br />

just having her 15 minutes of fame.<br />

RATING 8/10<br />

Billie Eilish<br />

Happier Than Ever<br />

Lil Nas X<br />


Tyler, <strong>The</strong><br />

Creator<br />

CALL ME<br />

IF YOU<br />

GET LOST<br />

6.1%<br />

9.2%<br />

Drake<br />

Certified<br />

Lover Boy<br />

6.1%<br />

13.3%<br />

13.3%<br />

Kanye DONDA<br />

21.4%<br />

Olivia Rodrigo<br />

SOUR<br />

17.3%<br />

Doja Cat<br />

Planet Her<br />

Album of your year<br />

As life stirs once again on campus and things inch slowly<br />

back to normal, music inevitably follows as students<br />

are seen listening between classes, during lunch and at<br />

home to wind down from a stressful day at school.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Mirror</strong> decided to take a deep dive into what<br />

students’ favorite albums were as of Sept. 17. A survey<br />

was administered on the social media platform Instagram<br />

where students were given the opportunity<br />

to share their opinions and favorites. Reigning at the<br />

top, the current queen of pop Olivia Rodrigo wins with<br />

her album “SOUR” released on May 21. • VANNESA<br />



Pinkpantheress<br />

drops her<br />

debut mixtape<br />

inspired by<br />

2000s garage<br />

pop.<br />



the MIRROR E<br />

OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 17<br />


<strong>The</strong> campus is alive again with<br />


<strong>The</strong> Music Department<br />

no longer has to worry<br />

about being out of sync<br />

because of lagging<br />

internet connection as<br />

they make their return<br />

to campus, bringing<br />

music with them.<br />




With quarantine and distance<br />

learning, last year<br />

was an atypical time for<br />

everyone. In terms of<br />

music, it was lonely. <strong>The</strong> return to campus<br />

has finally broken the silence that filled the<br />

halls.<br />

Being restricted to their screens and<br />

bedrooms last school year, it was almost<br />

impossible for scholastic musicians to<br />

group together to perform and rehearse in<br />

real-time ensembles.<br />

“For students deeply invested in the<br />

language of music, going a year-and-a-half<br />

without sharing a conversation through<br />

their instruments was quite numbing,”<br />

Program Director Robert Eisenhart said.<br />

Mr. Eisenhart teaches Advanced Band, AP<br />

Music <strong>The</strong>ory, Rhythm Lab and Orchestra.<br />

Digital restrictions resulted in students<br />

being unable to share their craft and passion<br />

with the school nor one another.<br />

“We gave ourselves permission to not<br />

be perfect and not conquer covid-19 by<br />

turning our art into a product to ‘prove we<br />

were alive,’” Eisenhart said. “We survived<br />

by making music.”<br />

While the program did not win any<br />

awards because competitions had<br />

stopped, a small orchestra of 30 students<br />

came together to perform live at graduation<br />

last June.<br />

“It wasn’t a trophy, but it was a great affirmation<br />

of the strength of our students,”<br />

Eisenhart said.<br />

Musicians are now able to compose<br />

and satisfy their hunger for creative expression<br />

through music in person.<br />

“It’s great to be back in person again.<br />

Playing together as a group has allowed us<br />

to further develop our skills,” drum major<br />

David Ross said.<br />

But, the return has been far from<br />

perfect.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> biggest challenge we have faced is<br />

the current protocol not allowing wind instruments<br />

to play indoors,” Eisenhart said.<br />

Wind instruments are any instrument<br />

that requires a musician to blow into the<br />

instrument in order to create sound, including<br />

trumpets and saxophones. <strong>The</strong>se<br />

pose the biggest threat to student health<br />

and are not allowed to be played indoors<br />

because of the increased risk of transmitting<br />

covid-19 through the air since masks<br />

must be off to play.<br />

<strong>The</strong> absence of wind instruments have<br />

the Jazz and Winds classes in disarray.<br />

“It is definitely affecting us very negatively,”<br />

Eisenhart said. <strong>The</strong> protocol has left<br />

BANDING TOGETHER Anthony Sanchez and<br />

Mary Dermenjyan wait to play the National<br />

Anthem during practice<br />

the program unprepared for competition<br />

season and stumped the program participation<br />

in football games and pep rallies.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Marching Band and Drill Team are<br />

currently in season but by the end of the<br />

semester, Orchestra and Jazz classes will<br />

begin preparing to step onto the stage for<br />

school concerts and performances including<br />

the Symphonic Concert.<br />

However, the current program-wide<br />

focus is to build a foundation that will<br />

ultimately result in stunningly cultivated<br />

music that is uniquely personal to the<br />

students. <strong>The</strong>y are currently learning the<br />

fundamentals of marching and physical<br />

training. However, most of their time<br />

is concentrated on playing their instruments.<br />

As of now, this semester is primarily<br />

about getting performers’ feet on the<br />

ground and adjusting to the new reality.<br />

“We’re just looking forward to getting<br />

through it as soon as we can and making<br />

sure that Van Nuys High School has a<br />

band, an orchestra and everything stepping<br />

into the future,” Eisenhart said.<br />

DRUMMING IT AWAY Anddy Melendez, Luke Chey and<br />

Rachel Sang split off into their own drumline sectionals.<br />

B NATURAL Clarinet<br />

and drumline positions<br />

themselves to play the<br />

National Anthem.

18 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> E<br />

the MIRROR<br />



QUIET ON SET Angel Hernandez’s student film “<strong>The</strong> Enfreakening” sets a scene on the quad.<br />

Cinematographers bring<br />

storytelling back after<br />

distance-learning pause<br />



Film students are back on set.<br />

Students needed to get creative<br />

with film productions during distance<br />

learning due to covid-19 regulations.<br />

Without access to the campus and equipment<br />

due to distance learning, resources to create<br />

films were scarce.<br />

“We were limited to working mostly without<br />

any of our gear and without being able to work in<br />

crews or pods with other students,” film production<br />

teacher Thomas McCluskey said. “We had<br />

to redesign our entire workflow from scratch to<br />

accommodate all the changes.”<br />

Despite the challenges, film production persevered.<br />

“Last year we had around 50 finished films<br />

including an award-winning personal reflection,<br />

a music video, several horror shorts and<br />

trailers, a professional-caliber documentary<br />

and a stop-motion Transformers animation.”<br />

McCluskey said.<br />

Now, filmmakers are back in a classroom<br />

full of professional equipment with face-to-face<br />

collaborations and real time guidance from<br />

teachers.<br />


HOWLING OUT Emma<br />

Salehi and Anya Shayani<br />

host the morning<br />

announcements in<br />

the film room which<br />

is broadcasted live<br />

on the Van Nuys High<br />

School YouTube page.<br />

“Part of me is so relieved just to have the<br />

familiarity of everything back on campus,” senior<br />

film student Jane Luitweiler said. “A lot of it feels<br />

foreign in a lot of ways at the same time, but I<br />

definitely work so much better in the classroom.<br />

Being able to build those personal connections<br />

and have those intimate conversations that are<br />

so meaningful to working in the entertainment<br />

industry as a whole.”<br />

While the school year is still relatively young,<br />

big moves are being made for video production.<br />

As the classes start to begin creating films, student<br />

projects will soon come into fruition.<br />

“We’re looking forward to a lot of filming at<br />

school events and many great shows ahead,”<br />

Executive Producer Andrea Parada said.<br />

Students are currently transitioning from<br />

working on films as assignments to writing<br />

scripts and pitches and filming concepts. Eventually,<br />

these will become films that will be shown<br />

at the school’s annual Film Showcase in which all<br />

projects are shown to students who attend and<br />

a select few sent to local student film festivals.<br />

Some students are already in the production<br />

process. Senior Andrew Choto is working on his<br />

film “Overthinking.”<br />

“It’s probably going to be about me or my<br />

brother and his girlfriend,” Choto said.<br />

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows like<br />

in movies. Students have some adjusting to do.<br />

Many students have not even stepped foot on<br />

campus or have seen a high school classroom.<br />

“I felt excited that I got to finally experience<br />

working in a classroom with new people,” sophomore<br />

Damien Flores said.<br />

Van Nuys Live, the school news production,<br />

for example, is dealing with many big changes.<br />

Other than being back on campus, the production<br />

has a new crew, new hosts and new<br />

equipment.<br />

<strong>The</strong> live YouTube broadcast has four shows<br />

a week: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and<br />

an extended broadcast on Fridays, in which film<br />

students’ videos are shown.<br />

One of the biggest additions to the news is a<br />

teleprompter. A lot of effort has been put into<br />

integrating it into the production.<br />

Along with the teleprompter, the school has<br />

acquired other equipment including an Arri<br />

Alexa Mini Camera, a state-of-the-art video<br />

camera used in many professional productions.<br />

Production crews are currently learning<br />

how to use it.<br />

While students still have to deal with certain<br />

covid-19 regulations when dealing with projects,<br />

it’s much less restrictive than last year,<br />

and hopefully that will lead to better projects<br />

this year.<br />

“We will see what we are capable of when we<br />

get to the advanced projects next semester,” Mc-<br />

Cluskey said. “I am hopeful that if we start with a<br />

solid plan, we can achieve great results.”<br />

I felt excited that<br />

I got to finally<br />

experience work-<br />

‘‘<br />

ing in a classroom<br />

with new people”<br />



BEHIND THE SCENES Film advisor Thomas McCluskey<br />

teaches students how to work around a set.

AL<br />

the MIRROR OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong> | 19<br />


<strong>The</strong> track team has had a successful season record for multiple years.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y deserve more respect.<br />

When someone says high school<br />

sports, what’s the first sport that<br />

usually pops into people’s heads?<br />

Most students initially picture<br />

football or basketball. Some may even think of soccer,<br />

volleyball or baseball.<br />

I believe that two sports in particular are often<br />

overlooked: cross country and track and field.<br />

In simplest terms, I would classify them as the<br />

running sports.<br />

Cross country focuses on longer distance runs<br />

and three mile races, while track and field is more<br />

orientated towards short sprints or and long<br />

jumps.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se sports differ a lot from other<br />

team sports such as football and soccer.<br />

<strong>The</strong> biggest difference is that running<br />

sports aren’t necessarily based on<br />

teams all the time.<br />

<strong>The</strong> team’s overall ranking may<br />

be based on the average of the entire<br />

team’s speed and races, but there are<br />

many ways that players can win victories<br />

for themselves.<br />

Runners that come in first out of both of the competing<br />

teams or set records get rewards and earn<br />

higher recognition in college resumes.<br />

Our school team has had a consistently strong<br />

record over the past<br />

years. In 2019, they<br />

even contested to<br />

become city champions.<br />

Cross country and<br />

track aren’t as popular<br />

as football. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

never will be, but I<br />

believe that these sports require a lot of skill too and<br />

deserve much more recognition than they receive.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cross country team had their first official race<br />

on Sept. 30 at Pierce College and will continue hosting<br />

home games there for this season.<br />


Coach in search of wrestlers<br />



It doesn’t take much to bench press 310 pounds<br />

and set a California bench press record. Just a preworkout<br />

protein shake and some determination.<br />

It also doesn’t take much to deadlift over 400<br />

pounds and then finish off a workout with rope climbing.<br />

It takes even less to do all this before the sun is even up.<br />

This has been wrestling coach Ramon Tovar’s routine<br />

for decades as he moved through life as a high school<br />

wrestler to now an English teacher and coach.<br />

Coach Tovar started the wrestling team in 2007 with<br />

the hopes of passing down the athletic and life skills he<br />

learned in his time as a high school wrestler.<br />

Now, after a nonexistent athletic year due to the pandemic,<br />

Coach Tovar is attempting to rebuild the wrestling<br />

team.<br />

So far, he has nine male wrestlers but<br />

he is hoping to get more male and<br />

female athletes.<br />

Wrestling played a valuable role in Coach Tovar’s developmental<br />

years and he wants the sport to be the same for<br />

other students.<br />

“Wrestling makes you a better and tougher person,” he<br />

said. “No kid has ever come into my wrestling room and<br />

wrestled a season or two and not walked out a stronger<br />

person on the inside. It teaches you how to be tough.”<br />

Wrestling practice takes place after<br />

school from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. four to five<br />

days a week.<br />

Wrestlers practice in the wrestling<br />

room located behind the cafeteria which<br />

is decked out in new playmats and<br />

weights thanks to Principal Yolanda<br />

Gardea who made the purchase<br />

before retiring last year.<br />

A typical practice begins with warm-ups to increase<br />

athletes’ heart rates. Coach Tovar then reviews moves<br />

learned at the previous practice then teaches any new<br />

moves for the day.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n comes the exciting part: sparring. Wrestlers practice<br />

the new moves they learned on each other.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir practice finishes off with 20-minute<br />

conditioning which can include pushups,<br />

sit-ups and sprints.<br />

While tournament dates have<br />

not all been officially planned,<br />

the wrestling team will have<br />

their first competition against<br />

San Clemente High School on<br />

Nov. 15.<br />

“Wrestling is a very physical<br />

sport but a very rewarding<br />

experience.”<br />

WE WANT YOU Wrestling coach<br />

Ramon Tovar is looking for new<br />

students to join the wrestling<br />

team.<br />

‘‘<br />

No kid has ever come<br />

into my wrestling room<br />

and wrestled a season<br />

or two and not walked<br />

out a stronger person<br />

on the inside. It teaches<br />

you how to be tough.”<br />




20 | OCTOBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

A<br />


the MIRROR<br />




Amin Zoghlami winds up for a pitch.<br />

STAYING ALERT Varsity player Dominick Ramos is in position to catch a strike from a teammate.<br />



Battttter up.<br />

With his<br />

baseball cap<br />

and enthusiastic<br />

grin,<br />

Coach Andres<br />

Sepulveda is<br />

ready to start<br />

the day’s baseball practice.<br />

Coach Sepulveda is the new head<br />

coach for the JV and Varsity Baseball<br />

teams which will begin their new<br />

season in March.<br />

It’s not his first time on campus. In<br />

fact, he was hitting home runs on the<br />

same baseball field just a decade prior.<br />

When he was notified of the opening<br />

by Athletic Director Danny Levy,<br />

he jumped at the opportunity and<br />

was hired within a week.<br />

Coach Sepulveda is hoping to<br />

establish a solid foundation for the future<br />

of the school’s baseball program.<br />

Last season which began in late<br />

April, a later start than usual, was an<br />

overall successful year for baseball.<br />

<strong>The</strong> varsity team won six out of<br />

the 10 games they played, winning<br />

their Division II playoffs against Monroe<br />

High School 9-6 but losing their<br />

playoffs against Maywood Center for<br />

Enriched Studies 8-4 under Coach<br />

Alfredo Avila’s leadership.<br />

Now, Coach Sepulveda is looking to<br />

prepare players to win a championship<br />

which they last earned in 2013.<br />

“It’s going to be a big step this year<br />

and take a big effort,” Coach Sepulveda<br />

said.<br />

So far, he has been preparing the<br />

teams through basic baseball conditioning<br />

drills like running bases and<br />

pitching, hitting and catching balls.<br />

<strong>The</strong> teams have also been running<br />

through practice games.<br />

Coach Sepulveda has been working<br />

with the JV and Varsity teams<br />

together to create a mentorship<br />

between players.<br />

“Learning from the older boys will<br />

make them [JV players] feel like they<br />

have a brother and they have someone<br />

to go to,” he said.<br />

Since both teams are working<br />

together, there are no official team<br />

captains as of now but seniors Bryan<br />

Cruz, Anthony Ramos, Dominick Ramos,<br />

Marc Ruiz and Adan Vega have<br />

been taking the lead and working<br />

with newer members.<br />

“It feels great to be back in person.<br />

I can finally achieve the goal of scouts<br />

watching me perform,” unofficial<br />

team captain Ruiz said.<br />

He’s looking forward to a new<br />

season under Coach Sepulveda’s<br />

guidance.<br />

“He is a nice guy and well organized<br />

in all things he does not only<br />

in baseball but in his outside life too,”<br />

Ruiz said. “I feel like he will change the<br />

Van Nuys baseball program for the<br />

better and will definitely shine a new<br />

light on the team.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> love for Coach Sepulveda<br />

seems to be a shared sentiment<br />

among members.<br />

“Coach Sepulveda in his short<br />

time here has already made major<br />

beneficial changes to our program,”<br />

varsity player Steven Tostado said.<br />

“It’s definitely a step in the right<br />

direction.”<br />

“He is a great coach. I can tell everyone<br />

on the team loves him,” unofficial<br />

team captain Dominick Ramos<br />

said. “He takes the time with everyone<br />

and you can tell he’s here for us.”<br />

Part of the reason Coach Sepulveda<br />

is so favored among members<br />

is his emphasis on the importance of<br />

student athletes being students first<br />

and foremost.<br />

He plans to do this by conducting<br />

professional development classes to<br />

teach athletes how to write resumes<br />

and cover letters and prepare for<br />

interviews.<br />

“I know that professional development<br />

hasn’t been done before in<br />

the past but I’m a firm believer in<br />

developing our student athletes as<br />

students first and as people because<br />

that is going to carry over into the<br />

classroom as well as on the field<br />

and even once their baseball<br />

career is over here at Van<br />

Nuys,” he said. “<strong>The</strong>y can<br />

take those life skills up<br />

to the real world.”<br />

Coach Sepulveda<br />

himself started playing<br />

baseball at his local Little League<br />

when he was five.<br />

His love for baseball came from<br />

his grandfather.<br />

“When my mom and grandmother<br />

were working, my grandfather<br />

would teach me baseball. He eventually<br />

convinced them to put me in<br />

Little League.”<br />

He continued to pursue his passion<br />

for baseball until his last year<br />

of high school at Van Nuys when he<br />

injured himself while trying out for<br />

Mission College’s baseball team.<br />

He went to rehabilitation for his<br />

injury but was no longer able to play.<br />

Coach Sepulveda reached out<br />

to the other baseball coach, Coach<br />

Christopher Tuhan, who used to be<br />

Sepulveda’s high school coach, and<br />

began helping out the team last year.<br />

He found himself falling in love<br />

with a completely different aspect of<br />

baseball he had never envisioned for<br />

himself.<br />

“I was able to mentor players and<br />

show them the smaller things the<br />

coaches couldn’t show them because<br />

they were focusing on other aspects<br />

of the game,” Coach Sepulveda said.<br />

While the season<br />

is set to begin in<br />

March, there is<br />

no definitive<br />

date for the<br />

team’s first<br />

competition.<br />


ROOTS<br />

A former graduate and player, the new baseball<br />

coach looks to build a championship team<br />


Coach Andres Sepulveda<br />

joins the staff<br />

as the new baseball<br />

head coach.<br />


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