Falconer April 2024 Issue

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Seniors receive behavior contracts for excessive absences

With chronic absenteeism rising to 30% statewide last school year, according to Policy Analysis for California Education, TPHS administrators are cracking down on absences among seniors with the senior contract — issuing approximately 90 contracts since the start of the year, according to Assistant Principal Robert Shockney. Senior contracts, or “behavior contracts,” as TPHS Principal Rob Coppo called them, are issued to students who have missed around 10% of the school year. They typically involve monthly meetings with an assistant principal about a student’s attendance, according to Shockney, and are given to students whose attendance causes alarm to teachers or administration.

Last school year, 21% of TPHS seniors reported they had missed three or more days of school in 30 days, the highest percent of all grades, according

to data from the 2022-23 Healthy Kids Survey. Compared to before the pandemic, schools across California are now experiencing nearly twice the rate as missing 10% or more of school days.

TPHS loses $68.96 per student for every day absent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“[Absenteeism] is out of control,” Coppo said.

Shockney agreed.

“Attendance is terrible right now,” he said. “The seniors that I’m engaged with … I’ve seen improvements on. But in general, attendance in schools is not getting better.”

Autumn Bellenbaum (12) is one student on a senior contract. She weeks of the second semester and is now “under close surveillance with attendance.”

“I didn’t know about [senior

contracts] until I got one,” Bellenbaum said.

Bellenbaum said that she had not realized how much school she was missing, which she attributes to taking on many “extra courses and activities … outside of class.”

Once a senior contract is issued, students cannot reverse it, according to Shockney. However, even if a student remains on a contract for the remainder of the school year, consequences are only meted out if their attendance does not improve.

“[Senior contracts are] very effective because anytime you are having a productive conversation with a student about their choices, it tends to be

effective,” Coppo said. “When you know there are consequences, behavior tends to change.”

Consequences vary by case, according to Coppo, but students on senior contracts can lose access to Senior Week activities, ASB cards, games, Prom and walking at graduation. Of the 25 to 30 senior contracts Shockney has issued since the start of the year, he said only two have resulted in a loss of access to one of those things.

“[Senior contracts] are more just to hold the line,” Shockney said. “I give [seniors] all the way up until the end to get it right.”

Bellenbaum does not have any continued on A2

Due to high absenteeism rates in the senior class, some students have received senior contracts to counteract absences. The contracts, if not adhered to, could bar a student from activities like Senior Week.

STUDENTS NOT IN SCHOOL: A TPHS senior walks into the attendance office at TPHS, a location frequented by students tardy to class or those called out of school. Absenteeism, already high post-pandemic, is “out of control” this year, according to TPHS Principal Rob Coppo, with approximately 90 senior contracts issued to seniors since August due to excessive tardies and absences. Elsa Goodman ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Vol. 49, Issue 7, 24 pages Friday, May 3, 2024


continued from A1

consequences at the moment; however, she said she will have to go to an assistant principal to ask for permission to attend senior activities.

The contracts are “designed to support the senior,” Coppo said. “We the doubt that maybe they didn’t know [about their attendance] … typically, the seniors, [once a contract is issued,] are like, ‘Okay, I didn’t know it was a

For Ford Smith (12), another student on a senior contract, having a contract has been effective. Smith does not know what his consequences are yet, and is currently awaiting an evaluation meeting with an assistant principal.

“I have had much better attendance, and I get my work done much more

Bellenbaum shared a different

perspective on the senior contract.

“Senior contracts put you in a state of fear of being restricted [from participating] in activities you’ve been looking forward to,” she said. “[But] the contracts can’t change your habits in one day. And they stimulate a sense of resistance and rebellion [that] I have seen in many people who have gotten a contract.”

While senior contracts target absences in the senior class — “to counter ‘senioritis,’” Shockney said — the same 10% absenteeism cut-off is used for other grade levels, according to Shockney.

Earlier this year, SDUHSD created a “centrally-formalized” tiered approach to attendance interventions, Shockney told the Falconer in September 2023. Contacting students and their families initially after 12 absences and organizing a Student Study Team meeting if those home calls go

unanswered, this tiered approach caps off with a School Attendance Review Board meeting at the district level after 15 absences.

However, consequences for repeated absences below this level are given out by teachers.

For Olivia Bogert, an AP Literature

and if those warnings are ineffective, she issues a detention. So far, Bogert has not referred any students for a senior contract.

“Being tardy is disrespectful to the class and to the teacher, especially if it is habitual … The biggest thing in my classroom is that we have assessments

a student walks in late, it is very distracting,” Bogert said. “[Tardies and absences] also prevent [the student] from being able to have the whole class [period] to work on their work … it is just not the scenario you hope for.”

Being tardy is disrespectful to the class and to the teacher, especially if it is habitual ... when a student walks in late, it is very distracting.”

TPHS Diversity Week highlights cultures on campus

Makaylah Gerling SPORTS EDITOR

The week of April 15 was Diversity to recognize the unique cultures on campus, including a student body from more than 60 countries who speak over 40 home languages, according to the TPHS Multilingual Learner Program’s website.

Throughout the week, a number of activities focused on the range of student demographics with the intention of promoting cross-cultural respect, according to Rosie Kim (12), the co-president of the International Friends Club.

Some of the main activities of the week included a performance by the TPHS Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán Club on Monday and a diversity-themed student connection time on Wednesday.

It was fun and interesting to let other people know about our club and how many different cultures there are at TPHS.”
Rosie Kim Co-President of International Friends Club, 12

Behind the scenes, ASB Diversity Equity and Inclusion commissioners Brandon Hamadeh (11) and Adi Adatiya (9) and ASB President Camille Samarasinghe (12) worked to plan the week’s schedule.

“I think it’s a huge piece of creating a welcoming school culture that values the diverse interests and backgrounds of our kids,” TPHS Principal Rob Coppo said. “It is a great example of the ‘We are TP’ spirit”

Kim echoed this sentiment.

“There are so many different people from so many different areas, and I think we all should be recognized and known in terms of how to respect our cultures and beliefs,” Kim said.

This year, the International Friends Club was featured in a Falcon Vision interview and participated in the Diversity Fair on Thursday, where 23 clubs shared their cultures with their peers.

“It was fun and interesting to let other people know about our club and how many different cultures there are at TPHS,” Kim said. “It was a feeling of validation of how hard everyone from different cultures, with different backgrounds worked to learn an entire try new stuff while keeping themselves [connected to] their roots and honoring their traditions and beliefs.”

While her main role was as an organizer this year, Samarsinghe also felt connected as a Sri Lankan American and appreciated the chance to connect with students from her roots.

“I think it was so important because it gave everyone on campus a small glimpse into how diverse and how unique each student is at Torrey Pines,” Samarasinghe said. “I think it helped people understand all of the different things that are unique to each culture.”

As students were able to take the week to immerse themselves in the TPHS community, the work of the students who made the event possible did not go unnoticed.

“I’m just really proud of the work that the kids have done. And it’s extremely soul-satisfying to see their excitement to pull off Diversity Week,” Coppo said. “This is something that used to be controversial and now it’s just part of what we do, and that’s really exciting.”

Despite this year’s Diversity Week coming to an end on April 19, students on campus continue to echo the importance of understanding one another.

“Overall, I think it is important as all over the world, and it made us feel like we were appreciated and we belong here,” Kim said.

2024 Diversity Week


Students walk by and view posters displayed by 23 multi-cultural clubs on campus on April 18. Diversity Week activities were many weeks in the making by ASB and club presidents.

news may 3, 2024 A2 the falconer

TPHS hosts SDUHSD Jazz Festival for student bands

At 4:54 p.m. on April 13, a crowd gathered around the door of the TPHS Performing Arts Center. At 5:02 p.m., the door opened, the crowd walked through, and the annual SDUHSD Jazz Festival began, featuring bands from eight schools in the district.

“It was pretty cool to see the other schools’ style of jazz bands,” said Zephyr Brumund, a senior who plays the bass in the Canyon Crest Academy jazz band. “They’re different because they’re bigger … it’s a different sound.”

Bands from each school varied in size and style during the two-hour concert.

“Whenever I pick music, I try to have a mixture of different styles,” Amy Gelb, the music director of the TPHS and San Dieguito Academy jazz bands, said. “We did one Latin, one swing, one contemporary and then a vocal one.”

The middle school bands opened the

night, with the joint Oak Crest Middle School and Diegueno Middle School bands playing “Fat Cat” by Doug Beach.

“I like how [jazz] sounds,” OCMS trumpet player Alan Pecchio said.

“I like the articulations,” OCMS trumpet player Lucy Parkinson added.

Carmel Valley Middle School followed.

“You kind of get stressed before, but then you just breathe, and then you just play,” said PTMS student Steven Chen, who played an alto saxophone solo.

Being able to “just play” takes weeks of practice. The preparation process differed by school.

“We don’t have a jazz band, and we don’t have a class or a club or anything, so we had to practice in band class,” Chris Johnson, the PTMS band director, said. “We … just threw something together really quick. But the kids are good kids, and they practice hard.”

At the other schools, jazz band is a

“I love Torrey Pines, and just being here for so many years has made me see how many cool things happen ... and how many great people there are. As ASB president, I’m just really excited to take on the role because I can help support all the different people through [many] different types of things.”

Ellie Kuehnert

ASB PRESIDENT ELECT (pictured top)

“I’ve been in ASB for all my years at Torrey and so have my siblings … so to be the Senior Class President, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to be since freshman year.”

(pictured left)

“I started really becoming interested in ASB in 8th grade … and then during freshman year I realized that I really did care about improving ASB. I was having all of these ideas, and I was hoping to have an active role, so I thought that I might as well [run].”

Dean Smith



want to make everyone feel included and make everyone feel more involved in the school. For me, this place feels like my second home but I feel like for a lot of people this is not a place they’re excited to come to, so I want to make it more like [home for them].”

Cruz Acers


class. Gelb said the TPHS band had the past three or four weeks.

concert, we started learning the new pieces,” bass player Emma SchreuderWelte (11) said. “So probably for a month we were … practicing in class and then on our own at home.”

As the main organizer, Gelb prepared for the festival all year, reserving the PAC and creating the program.

knowledge of unusual chord shapes provides a more nuanced look on what music can be,” Ruben Duarte, a senior guitarist at SDA, said.

The TPHS jazz band closed the show with “Moanin’” by Charles Mingus.

“[Jazz] allows you to be creative and think outside the box,” Schreuder-Welte said. “Sometimes our teachers or instructors tell me, ‘You don’t have to play what’s on the page; think of your

I think the coolest thing about the whole [festival] is seeing the progression from seventh grade.”
Amy Gelb TPHS and SDA jazz band director

“We’ve been doing [the jazz festival] for several years,” Gelb said. “This is the second year that we’ve hosted in a row … and, overall, the event went really smoothly.”

After the middle schools performed,

“Jazz is a type of music that doesn’t said Jacob Chandler, a senior at CCA who plays the keyboard. “You’re allowed to do a little bit of whatever you want.”

La Costa Canyon High School followed CCA, and after them, SDA.

“Even at a level of a more amateur musician, the mobility in between the chords that jazz provides and the

The jazz festival not only served to showcase jazz as a genre, but also to inspire students, especially younger ones, to start or continue their musical instruction.

“I think the coolest thing about the whole [festival] is seeing the progression from seventh grade,” Gelb said. “Parents and the students can see what comes next.”

According to Alexander Patterson, the director of the CVMS band, “it’s never too late to learn an instrument.”

“I’ve witnessed students start learning an instrument starting in middle school — they worked extremely hard and are now in the high school ensembles,” Patterson said.

The TPHS jazz band will next play at the May 23 Falcon Finale performance.

With a new group of ASB leaders set to take over next year, the Falconer sat down with the new presidents to talk about their goals and what getting elected means to them.
news the falconer A3 tphsfalconer.org
PHOTOS BY ADRIANA HAZLETT/FALCONER Hailin Day (12) saxophone Noah Kimm (12) drums

TPHS hosts Innovation Showcase for CTE classes

There are “eight pathways at TPHS, each tied to an industry sector” with numerous job opportunities, Principal Rob Coppo announced as observers stood in a semi-circle outside the Falcon Eatery on April 17, listening to Coppo’s introduction of the SDUHSD Innovation Showcase.

In the showcase, Career Technical Education classes at TPHS were given the opportunity to highlight what they learned throughout this school year — including demonstrations from computer science, culinary arts, woodworking and student-run businesses.

For Jonathon Tator, a teacher in the Engineering Pathway, this event was important for the staff in particular.

“[The showcase] is meant for industry

professionals to talk to [teachers] about how to improve the shop. It’s good feedback for the staff,” Tator said.

Not only did the SDUHSD Innovation Showcase provide teachers with feedback, but it also provided students a platform to display their work.

Sylvia Olson (11), a student in the Business Pathway, displayed her business and product to spectators,

CTE teachers from across the district and SDUHSD CTE personnel, according to Jake Ashby, who teaches classes in the TPHS Business Pathway.

The business that Olson and her Advanced Business Management peers created is Shine Designs, a hoodie

patches to sweatshirts. Olson’s brother Benicio Olson (9), an e-biker, inspired her to create this product to help e-bikers be better seen at night. For Olson, this event was a “great opportunity to show off [Shine Designs] and how great the Business Pathway is.”

Shine Designs received the Junior Achievement Student Company of the Year award on April 24. JA is a program dedicated to student entrepreneurship.

Inside the Falcon Eatery, a table of confections created by Culinary Arts students greeted guests, and beyond, artwork decorated the building. Digital Art and Design teacher Jennifer Doerrer stationed herself near the tables, observing how “cutting-edge” everything at the event was.

“I think it is pretty amazing looking at all the different departments [and CTE programs TPHS has]; it’s pretty diverse,” Doerrer said.

Farther back in the event area, the woodshop door was open to welcome in visitors. Madeline Fletcher (10) stood by a fully-functioning clock she made in her woodshop class, decorated in blue with seashells. For Fletcher, events like this are “a great way for us to put what we do on showcase” because they allow CTE students to do “more projects [they] are passionate about.”

To the right of the Falcon Eatery, attendees were led into a computer lab.

Computer science students exhibited a video game called “Freddy Takes Flight,” which they had designed over a

of the showcase could try out the video game for themselves.

Jervis Fernandes (10), a student in AP Computer Science Principles, liked that the showcase allowed students’ work to “not go unnoticed and [to] receive feedback.”

“[Students] can actually improve on their craft, and [the showcase] helps them to … demonstrate their capabilities,” Fernandes said.

Seeing the CTE classes and student accomplishments laid out at this showcase, Richard Robinette, who teaches the classes in the Computer Science pathway (including Machine Learning, which will be a new addition to the pathway beginning next school year), said he wished he “could’ve gotten [his] son to go [to TPHS].”

For Robinette, just seeing students “interacting with each other” and “seeing what other people are into” was also valuable.

Tator agreed.

“I think it’s just nice for people to tour our facilities and see kids’ projects because sometimes you just don’t see [certain classes and their accomplishments].”

Auto Technology was also featured at the SDUHSD Innovation Showcase, displaying students’ accomplishments with vehicles. To read more on the Auto Technology program, see A14.

news may 3, 2024 A4 the falconer
ACHIEVEMENTS IN ART: James Halpern (10) shows guests projects by art students. The Innovation Showcase displayed 2D and 3D art. CRAFTING CONFECTIONS: Eric Lee (11) and Jacob Limon (11), students in Culinary Arts, present dessert options at the showcase. TPHS currently offers two Culinary Arts classes. PHOTO BY HOPE DENNIS/FALCONER
Lauren Linares Senior Kaisen Umali Senior Savvy Nunez Junior Hailey Twork Senior Tomas Swart Junior Rocco Sansone Senior Eric Neubauer Auto Tech teacher Auto

In May, the College Board will offer eight Advanced Placement exams in digital versions, seven of which are for classes taught at TPHS, including AP English Language, AP Literature, AP World History, AP European History, AP Seminar, and AP Computer Science Principles. The eighth class is AP African American Studies, which is not offered at TPHS.

For students, the shift away from traditional paper AP exams means adapting to new test-taking styles and adjusting to new proctoring methods. Despite the present concerns, online AP exams offer numerous advantages, including increased accessibility and testing and scoring, cost effectiveness and environmental friendliness. Technology is playing an increasingly vital role in education, and a primary factor of its growth is its ability to provide more personalizable and accessible learning. Online AP tests can be implemented with technology in ways that the paper test cannot. For example, for students who experience vision impairment, adaptive technologies that can be developed for online tests include screen readers, optical character recognition, text-to-speech and braille displays. The ability to implement personalization technology allows test-takers to perform their best without being hindered by factors out of their control like text size. Furthermore, the format of the

In May, the College Board will use digital exams for seven Advanced Placement subjects. At TPHS, seven out of the 26 tests offered will be taken via a school-issued Chromebook. While opponents think this may negatively impact student performance, others think the increased accessibility of an online test will outweigh the negatives.

students and exam scorers. On the digital exam, students can type and select answers much faster than they can handwrite and bubble answer choices. Systems that quickly grade test batches without error from smearing, stray marks or the wrong type of pencil lead reduce the time it takes for students to receive scores.

Then there is the matter of handwriting: according to standardized test tutor Bradford Holmes and AP course adviser Tiffany Sorensen in a U.S. News article, “no matter how brilliant your thoughts or how cogent your analysis, the College Board cannot give you credit for an answer that they cannot read.” On the digital test, students with poor handwriting will not be penalized unfairly, as all answers will be submitted online.

Finally, the digital AP exam will allow for a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly test. The high cost of taking AP tests is due to factors such as examiner compensation, printing and shipping test kits globally, according to the online education platform EnthuZiastic.

According to the College Board, in 2021 and 2022, more than four million AP exams were taken nationally. The high number of test takers and the length of the test booklets indicates associated with printing and shipping paper tests. In contrast, digital AP tests eliminate the need for physical printing and shipping, reducing costs and environmental damages.

Concerns about digital AP tests exacerbating inequality in technology are valid, but many initiatives are being undertaken to provide technology to students who cannot access it. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 94% of K-12 public schools provided digital devices to students who needed them at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

The College Board has announced the adoption of eight digital AP exams for the 2024 AP season, with nine exams going fully digital by 2025.

As students gear up to experience a new testing format, the shift to online examination raises the question: are digital exams even advisable? Based on the unpredictable nature of this testing format, it is clear that digital exams are decidedly not.

The most concerning aspect of the shift to digital testing is the

move online invites a host of potential the integrity of the testing process, the most glaring of which being Wi-Fi connection issues. The College Board even warns that “assigning too many students to a room can delay testing and prevent answer submission.”

Do all schools have the resources to accommodate this potential issue?

Even beyond Wi-Fi connectivity, the College Board lists a myriad of other issues that could delay testing in their Technical Troubleshooting Guide. Especially compounded by the sheer number of students in a testing space, delays and distractions are inevitable with online testing.

We have already seen the issues with online testing affect students: In

against the College Board on behalf of high-schoolers who took online exams and had trouble submitting their answers. In May 2023, roughly

60,000 exam takers were affected by technical issues with the AP English Literature and Composition digital exam, according to a statement from the College Board. From this, it is clear that the technology is simply not developed enough to justify abandoning paper testing. Not only do online exams come with technical issues, but they can also perpetuate the digital inequality of public education. A 2021 report by Common Sense Media and the Boston Consulting Group found that 15 to 16 million K-12 public school students across the country are caught in the digital divide, the gap between those who have access to digital technology and those who do not. The report also found that of disconnected students, 60% of these students — primarily Black and urban students — cannot afford digital access, and that up

language barriers. The issue with digital testing is not just about whether students have access to a school-issued device on exam day — it is about whether they are competent and comfortable with the technology they are utilizing. But on the matter of testing devices, the quality of devices that students use for testing is not standard in all schools — unlike the test booklets that are universally used for all exams.

Proponents of the shift might champion the streamlined grading process that can be achieved through online testing, and it is certainly true that digital exams would cut the time spent grading. But should easing the graders’ process come at the expense of students’ performance? Shifting to digital exams is not a reasonable risk to take when these scores impact college admissions and credits. Until digital inequalities and technical issues are addressed in order to standardize digital testing, it’s clear that AP exams should stay


From bows to bow ties, sometimes we’re

The nuanced relationship between femininity and its reception in society has shifted dramatically over recent years, and the positive reclamation can be attributed to two major factors: popular culture trends and the cultivation of social media. This return to femininity is rooted in the widespread, accessible nature of trends and media platforms that have allowed women to reclaim femininity for what it means to them. Rather than

regurgitating the same tired ideas on gender roles that have followed women for years, the women of these trends are sharing their own stories and expressing themselves without shame or fear of reprisal.

In the past, femininity was a show of weakness, pink a code for a “damsel in distress” and a skirt a tell of incapability. This pushed many women to present themselves as more “masculine,” having seen women whose look wasn’t overtly feminine often held in higher regard. This mindset creates a horrible positive feedback loop: women hide their personal femininity in order to be taken seriously, leading to those who show femininity to be taken less seriously.

However, something in the air has changed. We can look at the coquette trend, an aesthetic based on prim bows, Barbies and pink. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the

who endeavors without sincere affection to gain the attention and admiration of men.”

The coquette trend, popular on TikTok, serves as a perfect example of femininity’s recent rebranding. This trend creates a new way for women to unapologetically enjoy the things that make them happy.

While we once lived in a time in which the target audience of mainstream media was straight white men, embracing this aesthetic in particular shows attention being paid solely toward women; the coquette trend was cultivated for women to feel good, to feel girly and to feel feminine.

According to Vogue, the popularity of the coquette aesthetic also brings to light the question of how much had on our perception of femininity.

Of course, the trend comes with its

sexism by any means. However, it does create a space for women to embrace

all just girls

their femininity, normalizing the concept for younger girls.

While it can be seen as shallow of companies to slap bows on products and claim to embody girlhood, the rise of

a reclamation of style previously shunned. Like many broad social trends, a rise in commericial feminity must be appreciated for its complexity.

While pink and glitter are not meant to encompass an entire generation’s push femininity further into the media.

Bows at the end of braids or on tank top straps may not be the ultimate signs of female empowerment or change the world, but they represent a form of womanhood that we can claim.

The act of women taking back control of how their narrative is written helps push humanity toward more understanding. While this action currently comes in the form of bows and Barbies, soon our spoken words will be enough.

Video games are political. Don’t agree? Go touch grass

For many gamers, video games serve as a form of respite from the agony of life’s day-to-day issues. But whether it be blasting monsters to bits and pieces or tending to a tranquil farm, the games are removed from the real world could not be further from the truth.

With the release of Helldivers 2 in February 2024 by Arrowhead Gaming Studios, a video game in which the plot overtly satirizes facism, there once again comes a spike in the seemingly endless online discourse about the inclusion of political themes in video games. Gamers must come to terms with the inclusion of politics in video games, because at the end of the day, it’s included in every other aspect of their lives.

The main issue with the debate about the inclusion of politics in video games is the very argument itself and what players perceive as “politics.”

Despite complaints about modern video games being riddled with political messaging, things have been this way for a long time.

For example, the widely celebrated Metal Gear franchise, released in 1998, involves a “gigantic robotic weapons platform with worldwide nuclear striking capabilities.” While a gamer can become distracted by the story of the game, it’s hard to miss the clear political messaging, something the

in a 2014 interview with The Guardian as being anti-nuclear weapons.

Despite having clear parallels to modern issues in regards to the U.S. possession and use of nuclear weapons, MG Solid raised

the politics being hidden in subtext as well as the theme being something that people generally agreed on.

If people agree with the message, there is no reason to complain about politics in video games. One example is in the video essay, “How to Radicalize a Normie” by YouTuber Innuendo Studios, in which the content creature states that saying “Nazis are bad” is apolitical because the majority agrees regardless of political leaning.

In contrast, Splatoon 3, which was released in 2022, replaced the option from the previous two games for a character to be a boy or a girl with picking a “style” for a character. Some gamers saw that as political, as gender being non-binary has entered the political realm over the past decade. Splatoon 3 also didn’t hide this subtly in a narrative, as MGS did. What Splatoon 3 did was hit a common trigger for anti-woke gamers: the inclusion of minorities in video games, something that often triggers a condemnation of politics in such games.

People have every right to complain about seeing things they dislike, but it needs to be addressed that you can’t just mask your intolerance with “politics ruining your video game.”

Because it’s not about all politics: It’s just about politics you disagree with.

What is the solution? There is none. Good stories make for good games, and good stories will always take elements from real life due to their inherent relevance. Any subject meaningful enough to be worth discussion will always have people for and against it. All we can do is acknowledge that, “Hey, politics are in video games, and that is okay.” Spare your hairline the stress and either accept that differing opinions exist or, as they say online, go outside and “touch grass.”

opinion tphsfalconer.org the falconer A7


Editor-in-Chief Anna Opalsky reflects on her relationship with her dogs and thanks them for their steadfast love.

I don’t remember a lot from middle school. I was sick, I was mean and I didn’t care about much. I didn’t even care about my dogs.

There’s a medical explanation for this: I simply didn’t eat.

I’m better now — there are many signs. But I learned it’s not hard to lose myself, to become overwhelmed of person I don’t want to be. It’s not a relapse I fear; it’s a loss of self. But when I begin to slip, I look to my dogs.

I may not remember them, but they were there, with me even as I retreated from myself — Piper with an autoimmune disease and a fear of stairs and Daisy with one working eye and back legs that collapse constantly. They’re two creatures I can easily make out to be pathetic, but who actually embody an untamed appreciation for life, an outlook I aspire to have. They’re my check, my tether when I slip. For

when I care about my dogs, I’m the type of person I want to be.

This isn’t a new idea; I’m essentially describing empathy. But its relevance in my life was revealed acutely as I began my recovery from anorexia, not by my willingness to eat but by my renewed interest in Piper and Daisy, who I’d spent the better part of two years passing by as I spiraled within my own subconscious. In a mind like my own — prone to obsession and restriction — tethers are necessary. Mine happen to be two imperfect yet exuberant bichon mutts.

Piper and Daisy are both rescues. They’re traumatized, plagued by health issues and unable to interact successfully with other dogs. They’re

uniqueness and excitement make them easy to love — a trait I overlooked for too long. It’s from them, as I reawakened

to their presence, that I learned I don’t have to be perfect to belong.

As I exited middle school with my dogs at my side, I quit ballet — the backdrop of my restriction — and explored new

Falconer and restarting violin lessons, an activity I’d abandoned in the depths of my eating disorder. I was moving further and further from the “perfection” I had strived for, but closer to the person I wanted to be.

I’m not there yet. I haven’t left

overwhelmed behind. But I’m proud to say I haven’t let go of my tethers. I haven’t lost sight of my dogs.

Now I’m moving away and leaving Piper and Daisy behind. They’re getting years — time I owe them — as I explore a new life in college and beyond.

I can’t say I don’t feel guilty, that I don’t mourn the time I wasted with

them. But Piper and Daisy know something that I’m just learning now, that life can’t be lived striving to attain the unattainable. They’ve been dealt far worse cards than me, yet they approach life with joy, seeming to recognize their short existence as a gift. I can’t waste time wishing I was different, wishing for perfection, wishing to make up for my lost years. Most of all, I can’t waste any more time ignoring those closest memory.

I’ll always hold Piper and Daisy close; they’ll be my tethers for life. I have no intention of losing sight of them, no matter the distance and time that separate us. They’ve helped me realize how I want to live my life, reinspired my existence and given me the tools to thrive far into the future, even in a world without them.

I owe a lot to my dogs. I’ll never forget that again.

Three is a crowd. There is only room for Lamar.

In Metro Boomin and Future’s most recent hip hop album, “We Don’t Trust You,” Kendrick Lamar is featured saying the words, “M********* the big three, n****, it’s just big me,” on the song “Like That.” Lamar, one of the biggest — if not the biggest — rappers of our time, made headlines last month when he dropped this diss, targeting Drake and J. Cole, his counterparts in the “big three,” seemingly out of nowhere.

The lyric raises a big question in the world of hip hop: Is there one rapper who ultimately comes out on top?

The success of “Like That” seems to partially answer that question. On March 29, “Like That” debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and it has been in the top three ever since. Lamar now owns the summit.

It’s not like Lamar hasn’t ever been challenged, perhaps most effectively by Drake, who has been engaged

In fact, in response to Lamar’s line on “Like That,” on April 19 Drake released a track entitled “Taylor Made Freestyle,” making digs at both Lamar and Lamar’s collaborator, Taylor Swift. But the diss didn’t seem to land. On April 24, Billboard obtained a cease-anddesist letter ordering Drake to take down “Taylor Made Freestyle” on behalf of the estate of legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.

Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights,” according to The Independent, Shakur’s estate took legal issue with version of both Shakur and Snoop Dogg in the song. It was taken down, and Drake

But Lamar didn’t need this disstrack-battle triumph to launch him to his superior standing. Beyond the beef, Lamar’s music is just markedly better

When you compare the number of studio albums released between Drake and Lamar, Drake has the slight upper hand, championing eight compared undoubtedly contains deeper lyrics and better production quality overall. In his discography, Lamar touches on subjects such as tough childhood experiences and growing up in Compton in the ‘90s. Lamar also raps about social justice, self love and materialism. When listening to Lamar, one may not understand the message right away, instead

language and complex rhymes in order

to understand the meaning of his music. With multiple ways to interpret his words, Lamar’s songs can be taken to represent a variety of different topics.

On the other hand, Drake lacks meaning in most of his music, particularly on his new album, “For All The Dogs.” In his song “Amen,” Drake raps that “[those are] the perks of datin’ me … Red Mercedes with the red seats.” The problem with this lyric is that it is just another song where Drake shows off his wealth, bragging about his latest purchase. Drake’s music simply does not have the ability to go past its sound, and his lyrics are excessively redundant.

Lamar is also a highly versatile

from West Coast hip hop, jazz rap, alternative hip-hop and gangsta rap.

Another important factor in the Lamar versus Drake debate is the number of awards each has won. The Recording Academy has awarded 50 total nominations. Drake, on the the most BET Hip Hop Awards in history, comparing his 29 to Drake’s 24. Lamar has also been recognized in ways that most hip hop artists, including Drake, have not. Lamar’s album “DAMN.” won the 2018 Pulitzer the prize was given to an artist outside of the classical or jazz community. Overall, the combination of Lamar’s

accolades prove him to be the best rapper of all time. It is just big him.

opinion may 3, 2024 A8 the falconer

There is no doubt that diversity is an essential aspect of an inclusive educational environment — and that it is crucial for schools to promote diversity of all kinds, which includes both understanding and inclusion. However, the execution of TPHS 2024 Diversity Week fell short of the mark, revealing the lack of recognition, effort and general regard for the event.

This began with scanty promotion of the event. The clearest evidence of this is that many students were not aware of the week-long event. It seems that the greatest effort made by the TPHS ASB –– that was in charge of planning and executing the event –– amounted to painting a few signs and hanging them in a single hallway. The signs, and the event by extension, felt more like the result of a sense of obligation than a genuine desire to connect the TPHS community and facilitate learning about varying cultures. In addition, a prevailing lack of widespread activism, communication and student engagement raises large questions about a collective agreement to embrace diversity at TPHS.

But more than just general lack of school enthusiasm, key factors that may have contributed to the underwhelming outcome of Diversity Week are the organizational issues. Tasked with executing Diversity Week, along with numerous other events, ASB seemed to struggle to provide the necessary care and effort in planning the event. Student programming included a short “Q&A” segment during Student

Connection time, during which ASB students asked the same questions to multicultural clubs on campus — questions like “What is diversity?” and “What does diversity mean to you?”

of the diversity clubs at TPHS, the Q&A felt more like another check on some Diversity Week to-do list.

To ensure the success of future Diversity Weeks, an alternate approach could entrust responsibility for the project to a group or program more suitable to promoting the value of student diversity and inclusion, rather than a group primarily focused on planning social events, like ASB. By doing this, we can guarantee a more impactful, respectful and thoughtful celebration of diversity, instead of what felt like, at times, a half-done try at inclusivity.

Giving planning and executing duties to empowered, dedicated students with a genuine passion for the idea that cultural diversity enriches every environment in which it exists would provide TPHS with a more engaging and meaningful experience in diversity education, not to mention get the student body more involved activities.

Perhaps most responsible for the letdown of Diversity Week was the simply horrible timing of the event. Lunch periods were the dedicated times for multiple key events throughout the week; during one, around 20 clubs set up tables as less than 100 students milled about the quad. Our student leaders and administration know most students go off-campus during the lunch

Student Voices

period, yet organizers ignored this.

The notable shortcomings of the event not only highlight the lack of commitment to diversity education and training at TPHS, but also expose the lack of effort we as a student body make to learn about the value of diverse contributions to our learning environment. From a lack of promotion to limited time allocation, TPHS Diversity Week’s execution and organization effort and care for its student body.

In order to truly honor the diverse nature of our student body, it’s crucial for the timing and placement of the event to be more carefully considered.

A more direct and effective way to get students involved on campus might be instead to plan an entire day on a weekend dedicated to student engagement with the numerous cultures on campus, or plan mandatory outings from class to listen to guest speakers. TPHS has the potential to grow into a model for celebrating diversity; but nothing will change if we do not address our shortcomings as a school. of this year’s Diversity Week — and by recognizing our responsibility as a student body to show up for our peers — TPHS can become a more inclusive and engaged community.

“I’d like to see a guest speaker next year who can speak with more information and professionalism.”
STAFF EDITORIAL TPHS’ poorly executed Diversity Week shows lack of student effort What are your thoughts on the execution of the TPHS Diversity Week?
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“The Diversity Week activities could’ve been more publicized. I felt like not everyone was aware of the planned activities, like the Kahoot.”
Kayla Yoo JUNIOR Jack Sheehy JUNIOR
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with Karina Martinez, a recovering addict who is an alumna of and a volunteer coordinator for Solutions for Change, a “full service leadership development residential program for the homeless in the country,” according to their website.

I’m originally from Oceanside, California. I grew up in a healthy family. My dad drank a lot. I see now with clear eyes how that affected my mom, but as a child, I didn’t. So my mom and dad were married and they had a house and I had a place to live. I was the oldest of four. Now that I’m older relationship. So my parents divorced when I was 10. I didn’t really know how to process that because it was a big change. They had custody battles over us and battles over who was getting the house and what. My mom and dad ended up getting into new relationships, those relationships had kids.

So it was a lot of change that I felt like I just did not understand. My dad ended up having his family move into our house, and I had a cousin, who had introduced me to drinking when I was 10 years old. I loved the feeling of the disconnection, and I carried that with me. And getting into senior year, rather than looking at what my career would be, I had this more rebellious attitude. I wanted to go to a party, and I wanted to move out of my mom’s. I moved out with some friends right after high school and, with that, was more partying. We moved into a neighborhood in Oceanside. I was very gangrelated, and I ended up hanging out at a party with some of those people and I got introduced to crystal meth. I just continuously always say the lack of education is really what can alter someone, if it is not generational, where you haven’t seen your parents do it. It’s that lack of knowledge. I really didn’t know how homeless people

getting high because I had a place of my own with roommates, and I was working so I thought I wasn’t doing any harm. I encountered another guy during a drug transaction and in the midst of that meeting, I ended up getting pregnant by him. I didn’t really know him or his background. I was 20 at the time.

And you know that that was big news, ‘I’m pregnant and I barely know you.’ But I guess we had to make this family so we ended up getting an apartment together.

both relapsed. With that relapse came really bad domestic violence. That was also super new to me. I never witnessed my dad hitting my mom. So when that starts happening, it

solutionsf o rchange .org visit the link above to donate

kids were, she told me she wasn’t going to bring them back to me. It totally crushed me. To wake up and have your kids one day, and not have them the next is crazy. At that point, I just gave up. I felt like I didn’t have a purpose anymore. I stopped going to work. I stopped paying my bills. And I continued to get high. It was very shortly after that they padlocked my apartment, and I found myself living in a tent in Oceanside. I never would have thought that I’d end up living in the


I’m trying to be this great mom. And then I’m trying to work. But I’m also trying to make this guy happy who was really, really violent towards me. And at the end of the day, I’m still getting high. So it was this crazy cycle. And it caused me to really isolate from my family, and I didn’t know where to get help. I had a lot of shame.

The violence was getting worse and worse as well as the addiction. I got pregnant by him back to back to back. It is a lack of self-care. My kids are born 2010, 2012, and 2014. Now I have three kids with him and the way my cycle worked back then was I would get pregnant, get clean, have the baby, get high, get pregnant, get clean. It was just like a crazy cycle. And after our third son was left California, and I thought that I would be free, but I was never honest with myself that I was an addict too and that also I had issues. I put my kids through a lot of trauma of them witnessing their dad do that stuff. And so when we got into the new apartment, me and my kids, I quickly jumped into another relationship. It’s like that feeling of wanting to be loved. And that’s that codependency piece. You want to help somebody and be with somebody. And so with that next relationship he used and you know, today I know, if you’re gonna be with someone that’s gonna use, you’re gonna relapse. So I relapsed with him. And with this

mode. It was like grab my mom’s purse or my son trying to help me get out of my kids one day and telling me that she was going to take them to a birthday party. I didn’t think much of it. The next day, when I asked her where my

addicting. It’s like a facade, because you think you’re kind of free. My focus was just staying high. I met a lot of people out there that were also moms and dads and brothers and sisters. I would ask they hadn’t seen their kids in 20 years, and it would freak me out. I missed my kids terribly. But I truly thought there was no way out of this and that I would just have to be like this forever. I started getting stuck in the cycle of being incarcerated. I was getting these charges and right when I would get out of jail, it was just back to nothing, so I was like, now I’m gonna get high. In 2019, I met somebody else out there. And it was also violent, but by this time, I was also very violent too, because of everything

Upon getting arrested, I found out I was pregnant. That’s when it really dawned over me that the last thing that I lost was myself, because rather than thinking, ‘Okay, well now I have to get clean,’ I was more upset. I did not stop. I manipulated my pregnancy so I could get food. But I’ll tell you, that baby was not going away. Every time I would get high, the baby inside would kick and kick. When that would happen, it would kick like some sense into me and I would feel, again, an instant shame and ugliness. It was not until, truly, a higher power greater than myself. In my life, that’s God. It’s the only way I can explain that. There was a day that I said, ‘I’m leaving. I’m going to get help.’ I heard about help from other girls who had been helped before. They said there’s a program and if you get there in time, you can probably keep your

going to take that baby from you as soon as that baby’s born. It would have killed me to lose another kid. I didn’t want that pain anymore. I already lost three. So I went to a short-term program to get clean and I didn’t make it the again. I found out I was six months pregnant. I was there in just enough time to get a little bit of prenatal work, and I found out that I was having a girl, and she was born on Valentine’s Day, which is just a coincidence to me because she brought the love back into my life. She brought love back into me. She brought me back to life instantly. In May of 2020 I went to Solutions, that was when I started having visits from my other kids. Me and my kids really were able to make amends, and it wasn’t easy. It’s still not, you know, I’m still in the process, and I remind myself every day, but I’m very grateful. I graduated in 2022 and have been working for Solutions for three years. I’ve been in recovery for four years now and just started college. So that’s my story.

answers have been cut for length and clarity

the top of Palomar Mountain.

From his perch, Cowan — a freelance columnist, outdoor writer for the San Diego UnionTribune, former mayor of Escondido and avid nature-lover

— looks out on the vast untouched wilderness below him.

Cowan’s been there the whole day. He’s watched how animals in the park have woken up, how a quail walked with her chicks and a bobcat with her cubs — how nature proceeds in the absence of humans.

“Watching the animals and the seasons evolve, it’s a wonderful way to connect with the outdoors,” Cowan said.

But what Cowan observes from his vantage point in the mountains is just a fraction of the life that is teeming in San Diego County’s natural ecosystems.

This is because our county is one of the world’s few biodiversity hotspots — regions with incredibly high numbers of endemic vascular plants. In fact, San Diego is the most biodiverse county in the continental United States.

“[There are about] 3,000 different kinds of plants that occur in our county,” Jon Rebman, Curator of Botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum, said. “To put that in perspective, that is more diverse than most of the states in the northern tier of the United States. That’s a lot of diversity in a very small area.”

Out of these thousands of plants, close to 1,700 are native to San Diego, according to the California Native Plant Society. These indigenous plants work in harmony with each other and the surrounding fauna to create San Diego’s lively ecosystems.

But there’s another side to the biodiversity hotspot designation: a region must have less than 30% of its original vegetation.

San Diego certainly meets this criteria. According to the Earth Discovery Institute, it is home to the most plant species

threatened with extinction in the country.

According to Christa Horn, the Conservation Program Specialist in Plant Conservation at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, San Diego County has 139 plant species that are rare and threatened, an “overwhelming number.”

And many of these are very close to home.

of California’s wild plants, close to 20 rare plant species exist in the Gonzales Canyon Open Space Park, situated just behind TPHS.

“[There’s] really special stuff right in our own backyard,” said Sarah McCutcheon, Program Coordinator at the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program.

A quick trip down Del Mar Heights and a left turn on North Torrey Pines Road takes us to a treasure trove of San Diego’s natural wilderness: the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

The 2,000-acre reserve, which is one of the last to exist on San Diego’s highly urbanized coast,

County, with some 370 native plant species and 50 rare ones, according to Darren Smith, a Senior Environmental Scientist for California State Parks.

“Two of the reasons it’s so biodiverse is because we’ve developed most of the coastline of San Diego, so most of the similar habitats have been wiped out … and Torrey Pines also has this really unique

Smith said.

It is precisely this geology that allows its namesake, the Torrey pine tree, to grow. The pines, which rely on the moist fog drip from the coast to survive in San Diego’s Mediterranean climate, grow exclusively in the reserve and on Santa Rosa Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara. They are found nowhere else in the world.

But the

pines are becoming increasingly rare for another reason: an infestation of a native species of bark

Between 2006 and 2018, the park lost 12% of its adult and subadult Torrey pines to the beetle, according to Monica Stupaczuk, Environmental Scientist at California State Park’s San Diego Coast District. Another 5-10% were lost between 2018 and 2022.

But according to Stupaczuk, the beetle’s relationship with the pines is normally a healthy, balanced one.

evolved with these trees over who knows how many thousands of years,” Stupaczuk said. “They’re a natural part of the system.”


can remember flying into the San Diego Airport and looking out an airplane window, and I was just blown away at how many [dead palm trees] were downtown.”


So what’s the problem? It’s the rapid rate at which the pines are crashing, something caused by prolonged droughts in San Diego: a direct consequence of human-induced climate change.

tandem,” Horn said. “The beetles attack trees that are weakened by drought and heat stress, and they no longer have the capability to defend themselves.”

Smith echoed this.

“The tree’s best defense mechanism against the beetles is a pitch they produce that pushes them back

“I speak
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Torrey pines sprig

out,” Smith said. “But when there’s drought, the trees don’t have as much water in their vascular system, and they can die and they do die regularly.”

The beetles are not the only nuisances to the pines. Another climate-change-related menace is a pitch canker of non-native fungus, which is “beating up the trees, making them misshapen,” and causing them “to lose some of their branches,” according to Smith.

“One of the other [effects of] climate change in Southern California is less predictable precipitation patterns,” Smith said. “The last two years we’ve gotten these pretty intense summer rains, and when you get moisture in the summer, you’re more likely to get fungi and pathogens introduced to the trees.”

But the Torrey pines are just one of the rare plant species in the reserve.

The two rarest ones, according to Smith, are the short-leaved dudleya, a that Smith said only has two known populations left in the reserve.

The main reason for their decline is unchecked ecological niches and spread rapidly.

“We have about 800 species of plants that are reproducing on their own in natural environments said.

And this is all occurring on the land we haven’t even developed. San Diego, with its rapid urbanization, is losing the untouched wilderness that houses so much of its biodiversity.

“Anyone that lives here knows our development is extreme,” said Rebman. “Look at any Google map or satellite map, and you can see all the [wilderness] that is now housing and pavement.”

This is especially serious for species whose habitats are already rare to begin with. These include the Del Mar manzanita -- a tree endemic to San Diego found in only a couple of spots along the coast -- the dudleya and the endangered San Diego thornmint, according to Justin Daniel, President of the San Diego CNPS Chapter.

“The soils the [thornmint] lives on are rare and those soils happen to also be high development areas,” Daniel said. “Those areas are really desirable for recreation activities like mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking.”

Another rare plant in San Diego may be less obscure to the

public: the palm tree.

According to a University of California news article, since 2011, the invasive species of the South American palm weevil has killed more than 20,000 palm trees in San Diego County. The population decline has been even more dramatic in areas closer to TPHS like Rancho Santa Fe and Carmel Valley.

“It was about three years ago, I can remember airplane window and I was just blown away at how many [dead palm trees] were downtown,” licensed arborist and palm tree applicator Mike Grande, said. “It was probably 10 to 20 just in my view.”

According to Grande, even though there are lots of preventative methods and removal procedures, by the time the palm trees exhibit any sign of disease, it is most likely too late.

The palm weevil was brought to San Diego, in part, by humans traveling up north. But the reason the weevils have been able to live and thrive here is California’s adaptable climate and global warming.

[There are about] 3,000 different kinds of plants that occur in our county.”


“As [our climate] warms up, it might be within the edge of an insect’s range of tolerance to move further north and invade places that they weren’t before,” AP Environmental Science teacher Michael Rall said. “When a new species invades a new ecosystem, oftentimes there aren’t predators or natural defenses to keep them down.”

From invasive species to climate change to urban development, San Diego’s rare plants are threatened from all angles.

But why are scientists focusing on these niche species? Because they all have a part to play in the complex webs of San Diego’s ecosystems; and the loss of one could be detrimental to the entire structure, according to Horn.

“There’s an analogy that ecologists will sometimes use: an airplane with all of its rivets. The airplane wing has one little rivet every few inches that holds the wing of the plane together, and you can lose one or two or three of those, you don’t really know,” Horn said. “But then at one point you’ll lose one and the whole airplane will fall apart. We just don’t know enough about these systems to know which of those rivets is important, which of those species is important and how many we can lose.”

Caught in the bustle of urban life, it can be native plants, and perhaps even more so, why their

“[These plants] have a right to be there. This natural world has evolved very complex interactions and situations, and it’s spent tens of thousands of years developing them,” Smith said. “There’s a little more power to something that’s been around for [that long] and formed these relationships with us. If you look at them carefully, they’re like music or art.”

And this music and art is something humans depend on.

“We learned from COVID that when we’re trapped inside, it affects our mental health,” Rall said. “Until you get outside and start enjoying a little bit of free space, clean air, clean water, healthy ecosystems and birdsong, you don’t feel that connectivity.”

by Rami Kabakibi and Reese Carsley

Read more online at tphsfalconer.org to learn about what local scientists are doing and how our community can get involved to preserve San Diego’s nature.

speak for the trees” -

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Palm leaf
Dudleya sprout
The Lorax



n the bustling halls of TPHS, amidst a sea of students with different interests and passions, there’s a unique two-part pathway that revs up engines and fuels the dreams of aspiring mechanics and car enthusiasts: Auto Technology and Auto Engineering Performance. Offered through the TPHS CTE program, the hands-on pathway offers a gateway to the world of automotive technology, sparking a love of cars and igniting a passion that drives students toward a life of vehicle competency or even a career in auto technology.

“Being in the class has helped me

Performance student Qais Karimi (12) said.

In the workshop equipped with cutting-edge awaiting restoration, students in the Auto Tech program engage in a rigorous curriculum combining theoretical knowledge with practical

Those in Auto Engineering Performance are in the midst of completing the capstone class of the pathway, having taken Auto Technology previously.

that they can learn in order to be safe operators and conscientious consumers

Tech pathway teacher Eric Neubauer said.

Beyond cars, students work on projects ranging from dirtbikes to four-wheelers, practicing creativity with Neubauer’s guidance. things slowly, and everyone in the class is really knowledgeable, so you can pick at anyone’s brain

Umali said. “It teaches you a lot of essential skills and knowledge about your vehicle so you can

Students in the Auto Tech pathway frequently have peers bring their cars to the lot, allowing the amateur mechanics to try out their skills.

“I think it’s amazing that a lot of students don’t

kids around here, not just the traditional ‘greasemonkey’ idea of working on cars, but how to be an overall

There is a higher level of technical knowledge now. We are working as technicians, not as mechanics, and that’s the reality of the industry.”

“I’ve learned so much in this class, from basic preventative maintenance like oil changes and where to lift the car and how to rotate the wheels,

Umali (12), another Auto Engine Performance student, said. Karimi agreed.

“One of our assignments is naming different parts of the car. We get to really take things apart; by taking the wheels off, we can see what kind of suspension and brakes

In a classroom that’s half car lot and half workspace, students work on actual vehicles — whether they be their own cars or those of friends — allowing them to apply their classroom knowledge to real-life car issues.

“I hope to teach kids as much knowledge on a car

Beyond being comfortable around their vehicles, some students in the class are now pursuing careers in the automotive industry. Umali is planning to study Mechanical Engineering in the future.

“Hopefully, in the future, I can be designing race

As the automotive industry continues to evolve, the Auto Tech pathway equips students with the

“There is a higher level of technical knowledge now. We are working as technicians, not as mechanics, and that’s

By combining technical knowledge with essential life skills, this course provides in a car lot toward the back of campus.

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Elias Bankston Junior
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Sponserships Sponsorships Students Students with with

From logos on shoes to golf clubs and caps, various brands sponsor numerous TPHS students. Colin Li (12), for one, is sponsored by Adidas and Callaway for golf.

“For Adidas, they reached out to me when I was 14 or 15 years old. For Callaway, I reached out to them last April because I was switching sponsorships. I emailed them and got started,” Li said.

Li, who is committed to play golf at Yale University next year, has been playing golf for 13 years. While sponsorships have been helpful

[golf] clubs … [and] being able to get free golf balls, gloves and all that other stuff. It makes it a lot easier,” Li said.

For Li, who said he is a “perfectionist” when it comes to golf, his goal is to make “States” as a team and win individual “Regionals” or “States” again.

Li won the CIF Southern California Regional golf title last year.

“Outside of high school and for myself, I want to be able to do individual tournaments, play in Junior Worlds and qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur [Golf Championship]. So those are goals that I want to be able to accomplish this summer,” Li said.

Similarly, for Evan Liu (9), who is sponsored by Adidas, TaylorMade and Foresight Sports for golf, the sponsorships also beyond cost relief.

“Before, my dad would look online and try and test out what works, maybe buy a few different things. Now I can just go up to headquarters and make sure everything’s perfectly dialed in,” Liu said.

get clothes and equipment tailored for themselves from brands.

When choosing golf equipment, Liu looks for ones that “feel right” and that he feels is something that has become increasingly helpful to Liu as he has progressed through his golf journey.

“With Adidas, I played well in a big tournament when I was 12 or 13, so they reached out to me for

well,” Liu said.

For Liu, his inspiration and passion is what keeps him going.

“There’s these big stars out there you always want to be like. I think my passion for the game has taken me places I really wouldn’t have experienced without it. I love playing, and I love competing,” Liu said.

While sponsorships support student athletes in several ways, they also increase the sponsors’ brand exposure and extend their foothold in various realms.

“I think the big motivation in targeting a high school student [for sponsorships] would be [appealing to different] demographics,” TPHS Marketing, Intro to Business and Accounting teacher Rafael Ancona said.

“For example, you can segment markets by age, sex and things along those lines.”

Such sponsorships seem

student athletes and sports brands alike.

With added support from helpful sponsors, the future achievements of TPHS athletes are even more

Colin Li Adidas & Callaway Adidas, TaylorMade & Foresight Sports

What are

What are Reading?

Better than the Movies Reading? students students


“I’d say [the books I read] are very different from reality — they are not things I’m experiencing — and I like reading about things I don’t really know about.”

Down the hallway, Lucy Holcombe (11) can be seen with a book in hand. Currently, she’s re-reading Better than the Movies by Lynn Painter, which she received on her recent 17th birthday.

“It’s expensive at the rate I go through [books], and there’s a long wait at the library, so I re-read a lot of my favorites,” Holcombe said.

A book-enthusiast, Holcombe reads multiple books at once –– one for school, a personal physical book and a personal digital book from Sora, a catalog of books accessible on her Chromebook.

“Sometimes I can get through seven books in a week. I can read one a day,” Holcombe said. “I can get through at least 15 or 20 in a month.”

A dedicated student and TPHS Dance Team member, Holcombe has built reading into her schedule. She reads for at least 30 minutes when she wakes up and before she goes to bed, and during or in between classes.

“It’s helped me learn a lot of vocabulary and improve my reading comprehension,” Holcombe said.

Her daily reading also carries into English classes, helping her read timed assignments and better understand passages. Holcombe encourages other TPHS students to fall in love with the practice of reading.

“You can take 20 minutes out of your day to read,” Holcombe said.

The Inheritance Games

For Grace Tran (11), taking a break from the brimming, bustling distractions around her takes the form of a realm beyond her own — a good book, where time slows down and the imagination is free to work with its material.

“It is so much more entertaining than watching a movie or anything because you can insert yourself into the world,” Tran said. literary appetite.

“I usually get recommendations for books from my friends when I want to start a new book, or sometimes it’s a fun adventure to go to Barnes and Noble and explore the sections I know I usually gravitate toward,” Tran said. It is exciting for Tran to weave a new web of a world, an ideal world, based on the writing before her and her own personal experiences.

“I have always liked reading, because I started on the big things like Harry Potter and fantasy and my love for reading just grew for them,” she said. by Nadia Fadlu-Deen

The King of the West

“I like

the book

I’m reading because it’s almost an escape from all the stress of life, it’s just something that’s fun and relaxing.”

John Liebig John Liebig

entertainment tphsfalconer.org the falconer A17
Senior Lucy Holcombe Lucy Holcombe Junior GraceTran Grace Tran Junior


In the realm of fashion, Brandy Melville has long been synonymous exclusionary.

In the new Max documentary “Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion,” released on March 11, Oscar-winning director Eva Orner provides a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s culture and its disturbing ethos. The brand, once a beacon of trendy simplicity, now fatphobia and a toxic work environment come to the fore.

The revelations, stemming from a 2021 investigation by Insider, are nothing short of alarming. Within Brandy Melville’s inner circle, a insensitive memes, pornographic material and jokes revolving around Hitler. In an appalling display of insensitivity, Hitler was mentioned 24 times, accompanied by derogatory remarks targeting Black individuals and the use of the n-word. These disclosures cast a shadow over the brand’s purported image of youthful allure, instead exposing a darker underbelly of corporate bigotry and hate.

Since its beginnings as a “brick-and-mortar store in 2009,” according to Rolling Stone, Brandy Melville has most,” a mantra that has been met with growing criticism. This strategy, once hailed as a tactic for exclusivity, now stands accused of perpetuating fatphobia.

Insider reported multiple women appearance and race.

“If she was black, if she was fat … [the company owners] didn’t want them in the store,”


Senior Vice President Luca Rotondo said in the New York Post. By catering solely to a narrow physical ideal, the brand sends a of representation.

Kristina Krusteva (11) echoed the sentiments of many disillusioned shoppers.

“Like at least clarify that it’s smaller sizes.”

Their marketing seems a bit sketchy and they are not inclusive at all ... they only ever show skinny white girls in ads or pictures.”


After hearing about the corporate scandals surrounding Brandy Melville’s image, Krusteva said she will not be visiting its branches anymore.

said. Behind the scenes, the glitz and glamor of Brandy Melville’s image gives way to a harsh reality — one marred by exploitation and mistreatment. “Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion” sheds light on the brand’s questionable production practices, fueled by the exploitation of cheap labor.

From the teenage girls lured into a facade of glamor to the Chinese immigrant workers toiling away in sweatshops in Prato, Italy, Brandy Melville’s success story is tainted by its stark realities of exploitation and injustice.

“There are a lot of pronto modo [fast fashion factories] are like slaves. That is something objectively very painful to see,” Matteo Biffoni, Italian politician and mayor of Prato, said in the Max documentary.


honey entertainment may 3, 2024 A18 the falconer


Salinas (9), a frequent Brandy Melville shopper, acknowledged the allure of Brandy Melville’s style but expressed discomfort with its discriminatory practices.

“Their marketing seems a bit sketchy and they are not inclusive at all … they only ever show skinny white girls in ads or pictures,” Salinas said.

According to a former Brandy Melville executive interviewed anonymously in the documentary and quoted in Time magazine, the sizing tactic was “an explicit part of the company’s business model, as a way to keep the brand

Lily Bruch (10), another patron, explains that “style, quality and price” are the factors that originally drew her into buying from Brandy Melville.

“I’m not necessarily a frequent shopper, more like I go there a few times every few months and buy a lot. I have not heard about the documentary,

According to Green Matters, an environmental website aiming to inform general audiences about climate change and sustainability practices, “most of Brandy Melville’s clothing is conventional cotton, which requires a lot of water and pesticides to grow, which can have some potential environmental impacts.”

In addition, “their cotton is often grown and harvested in areas where forced labor and child labor are common,” according to an analysis by Ecothes, a sustainable clothing and footwear blog. fashion choices.

“People buy into fast fashion because it’s trendy,” Marinee Payne, a costume design teacher at TPHS, said. “I think sometimes people need to be more aware of the particular ethics of the fashion industry. They need to the companies and items they purchase.”

In the wake of these revelations, Brandy Melville stands at a crossroads, grappling with a tarnished reputation and a growing chorus of critics. As consumers reckon with the realities behind the glamor, the fashion industry faces a reckoning — one that demands transparency, inclusivity and honest commitment to ethical practices.

Whether Brandy Melville can weather this storm and emerge reformed blind eye to exploitation are numbered.

$212 million made in sales for 2023

100 locations worldwide one size

Girls beach volleyball heads to the CIF finals

Bump! Set! Spike! Dive … into the sand! The TPHS girls beach volleyball team won their Coastal League Championship on April 18, marking their third year as undefeated league champions.

This year, the Falcons are determined to take home the CIF Open Division Championship title after being the runners-up in CIF competition for the past two years.

Mai Plsek (12), a varsity player of three years, is looking to end her senior season with a ring.

“My season so far has been amazing — my partner and I haven’t lost a game yet,” Plsek said. “There’s been some good competition, and we have been playing great.”

Girls beach volleyball has only been a CIF sport for three years. Prior to 2021, the team’s season ended after the league championship.

“My favorite year was probably my year beach volleyball became a CIF sport, so it just made that year super special,” Plsek said.

This season, the coaching staff is JV head coach Tom Nicholas, assistant coach Jeff Waldal and varsity head, and former assistant coach, Sean Pope.

“Our coaching staff has always been amazing; all of the coaches are so wonderful and always push me to be a better player,” Plsek said.

member of the beach varsity team, dreamed about playing for TPHS since she started her volleyball career at age nine.

“TPHS beach volleyball is what I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s a great way to make new friends and get extra reps in,” Oxberry said.

The majority of team members this year are underclassmen, Oxberry being

“We have a very young team, 18 freshmen [in total], and we have been undefeated in league for the past three years.” Pope said. “These girls are amazing.”

The Falcons aim to continue their

successful season, hoping to win the CIF championship.

Especially for the three seniors on varsity — Plsek, Isa Wilklund (12) and Nethra Mahendran (12) — winning the championship is on their minds as they head into the CIF playoffs.

games — besting La Jolla High School

TPHS beach volleyball is what I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s a great way to make new friends and get extra reps in.”

Conner Oxberry


on April 25 and Cathedral Catholic High School on April 30. The Dons, who playoffs, beat the Falcons for the past two years in the CIF championship.

“I’m so hyped that we won, and if

I hope we can take the win like we did today,” Plsek said.

Macy Swortwood STAFF WRITER Isa Wiklund (12) “Rich Baby Daddy” Conner Oxberry (9) “Gasolina” Mai Plsek (12) “Rich Baby Daddy” QUEEN OF THE COURT: The TPHS girls beach volleyball team practices at Dog Beach in Del Mar on April 29. The team will compete next on May 4 in the Open Division Championship. ON THE SAND: Conner Oxberry (9) bumps the ball during a April 29 practice. Oxberry is a freshmen on the varsity beach volleyball team. PHOTO BY HOPE DENNIS/FALCONER PHOTO BY HOPE DENNIS/FALCONER PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNA SCIPIONE TOP left to right: Nethra Mahendran (12), Greta Pennock (9), Morgan Ritter (9), Holly Cassidy (11) and Rilyn Morals (11). BOTTOM left to right: Aubrie Dingman (9), Mila Bryant (9), Isa Wiklund (12), Conner Oxberry (9), Mai Plsek (12) and Aubrielle Barajas (11)



Aaron Wang Freshman

A look at the TPHS swim and dive team as they head from a Coastal League win into the CIF championship

The TPHS swim and dive teams are capping off a successful season after both boys and girls teams won 2024 Coastal League Championships on April 27, adding two more titles to a list of 14 league wins from just the past decade.

Led by varsity swim head coach Richard Contreras and dive head coach KC Tudor, the TPHS swim and dive teams have already notched several individual league victories, highlighting the athletes’ dedication and skill in the pool.

Elek Zettle (12), a swim team captain, freestyles, as well as the boys 200 and 400 yd. freestyle relays at the April 27 League

We all want to win, and when we’re all focused on this shared goal it makes [practices] more fun because everyone’s very invested.”
Elek Zettle SENIOR

Championship. At last year’s Division I CIF champions, Zettle led the charge in the 100 yd. freestyle and the 200 yd. medley relay.

“None of my wins could’ve happened without my team,” Zettle said. “I have such a great support group … and they were able to make me believe in myself at times when I didn’t believe in my potential.”

Natalie Wang (12), another team captain, won the 200 yd. medley rely on April 27.

Like Zettle, Wang secured a medal for the team at last year’s CIF championships, winning the girls 200 yd. backstroke.

Besides individual accomplishments, Wang and Zettle said that teamwork has been instrumental in the team’s success.

“We have pom-poms and tutus that we an unwritten rule for everybody to cheer at “Seeing and hearing everyone cheer for you

Zettle agreed.

“We all want to win, and when we’re all focused on this shared goal it makes [practices] more fun because everyone’s very invested,” Zettle said.

Wang said that the teams’ many wins were accompanied by team bonding activities, where athletes and coaches would “encourage and get

encouraged by each other.”

Ezra Purcell (12), a diver on the team, echoed this sentiment.

“[The coaches and I] have a great bond. I’ve been the only boy on the [dive] team for the last four years, so we have developed a great connection,” Purcell said.

Purcell is a Division I CIF diver whose objective of the season is to “win CIF and [place] top eight at states.”

Contreras hailed the team’s performance as a testament to their dedication and hard work in the pool.

“I’m grateful that every time the team gets in the pool, I know I can depend on them, no matter the situation,” Contreras said.

The TPHS swim and dive teams will championship at Granite Hills High School on May 4.

sports tphsfalconer.org the falconer A21 PHOTOS BY ANNA OPALSKY/FALCONER

Morgan’s Message brings mental health to the field

“With Mental Health Awareness Month coming up, Torrey Pines girls varsity lacrosse is dedicating today’s game to the life and legacy of Morgan Rodgers, a former Duke University lacrosse student-athlete who died tragically in July 2019 after battling mental health struggles.”

This message echoed from the Ed Burke Field press booth on April 20, inaugurating the TPHS girls lacrosse team’s second annual Morgan’s Message dedication game.

“I think it’s making a difference because people are starting to talk about mental health more,” Camille Samarasinghe (12), TPHS Morgan’s Message ambassador and president of the TPHS Morgan’s Message club, said. “Overall, that’s what Morgan’s Message is trying to do, to start the conversation.”

founding in July 2020, Morgan’s Message has worked to start the conversation about mental health in athletics.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suicide is the second most common cause of death among

NCAA athletes, just behind accidents.

“[Rodgers was] someone you wanted to be around, [always] hyping up her teammates,” Clare Kehoe, co-founder and vice president of Morgan’s Message, said.

Kehoe grew up with Rodgers, playing club lacrosse with her and then attending Duke alongside Rodgers.

“But I think Morgan — throughout [her] whole story — just struggled to open up about the extent of what she was going through,” Kehoe said.

After losing Rodgers, Kehoe, along with family members, teammates and friends of Rodgers, decided to take action.

out there. And we really believe that if Morgan had seen and known that there were other people like her that were going through something, she might have been more comfortable opening up with what was going on,” Kehoe said. “And so we came up with the idea for Morgan’s Message in the Rodgers’ backyard.”

Now, as director of the Morgan’s Message Education Program, Kehoe schools, teams and athletes nationwide.

“[I saw them] at a bunch of lacrosse

tournaments,” Samarasinghe said. “I was really interested in it because I thought it was such a cool concept. I reached out to them, became an ambassador for them and brought it to TPHS.”

Currently, Morgan’s Message works with over 5,000 students across 1,600 college and high school campuses.

“At TPHS, we often are so focused on the winning and the competition — which I love,” Audrey Davidson

football player and member of the TPHS Morgan’s Message club, said. “But you the balance between school and sports.”

Davidson will be taking over Samarasinghe’s duties as the TPHS Morgan’s Message club president next school year.

“[We’re] hoping that we can help one person,” Samarasinghe said. “That’s the goal, to help little by little by little until it’s not a thing anymore. Mental health [problems] will always be a thing, but not talking about it and struggling in silence, that’s the thing.”

girls lacrosse team stood alongside their competition from Anderson High School with blue ribbons in their hair to

represent Morgan’s Message.

“For more information on Morgan’s life and legacy and how you can help those with mental health struggles, please visit morgansmessage.org,” the announcer said. “Ladies and gentlemen, remove your hats for a moment of silence in remembrance of Morgan Rodgers.”

Ruby Julien-Newsom transcends categories on the mat

Among a line up of boys in singlets stands one girl: Ruby Julien-Newsom (11), the starting 126-pounder on boys varsity wrestling.

“My coach gave me the chance to wrestle off the guys on our team … I beat [them] for the spot,” Julien-Newsom said.

As one of only three girls across the TPHS wrestling teams, Julien-Newsom took advantage of this opportunity.

“Even if you are a varsity girl and you wrestle another varsity girl, it doesn’t count toward your team score,” JulienNewsom said. “I got to wrestle off against varsity boys from other schools and then actually contribute to our team, and I thought that was really cool.”

Julien-Newsom placed second in the boys varsity wrestling All Avocado League — one of her many achievements and last season won the North County Conference Scholar Athlete award. At TPHS, she is the girls wrestling team’s captain, this season boasting the most pins on the team for two years running.

Julien-Newsom also placed second in the NCC and was in the top three in every tournament this season.

“Right off the bat I knew there was something special about her,” Michael Bigrigg, head varsity coach of the TPHS wrestling team, said. “She was able to pick things up really quickly. We took

her to a competition … within a month of her starting wrestling … and she took third. Since then, she’s just been very dominant, she has a very high win rate.”

Julien-Newsom’s accomplishments do not come without effort.

on the team outside and inside the room.

Jacob Cava (11), captain of the boys wrestling team, said.

Julien-Newsom’s love for the sport came recently, having started in June 2022.

“My freshman year … I overheard one of the guys on the team talk about weight classes and I thought, ‘What if I did wrestling?’” Julien-Newsom said. “I looked into it and contacted one of the girls who had been on the team and one of the coaches and said I was thinking of joining the team.”

It can be intimidating to join a maledominated sport, according to JulienNewsom. After helping out at the wrestling booth at freshman orientation,

factor keeping girls from joining was that it “seems scary.”

“It will be really awesome if we could get more girls on the team next year,” Julien-Newsom said. “I get why it’s scary: you’re throwing people around, you get thrown around, but I think that’s what makes it so fun. It’s like ... ‘Oh wow, I’m doing this sport that people are scared of.’”

Boys tennis wins big

The TPHS varsity boys tennis team secured the first place title in the CIF Open Division championship after defeating St. Augustine on Friday, April 19. They are currently ranked fourth overall in the nation.

sports may 3, 2024 A22 the falconer
ALL SMILES: Audrey Davidson (11) and Camille Samarasinghe (12) are members of the TPHS Morgan’s Message club. The TPHS varsity girls lacrosse team played a dedication game against Anderson High School on April 20. ON THE MAT: Ruby Julien-Newsom (11) is a 126-pounder on the TPHS varsity boys wrestling team. A star athlete on the team, she won every tounrmanet she participated in last season. PHOTO BY ANNA OPALSKY/FALCONER PHOTO COURTESY OF RUBY JULIEN-NEWSON PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNA SCIPIONE

setting sail setting sail

The competition starts at 8 a.m. as TPHS sailors meet at the dock of the bay. At 10:30 a.m., two TPHS sailors climb aboard their boat. The starting signal sounds, and they’re off. It isn’t until 4 p.m. that the duo is out of the water, exhausted. This is a day in the life of the TPHS sailing team.

The TPHS team, often found practicing at the Southwestern Yacht Club on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. alongside Del Norte High School’s team, is a small club of 12 members. Despite its small size, the team has made its mark in local high school sailing.

During the fall, the sailing team won several regattas, or boating races. Earlier this year, team captain, Natalie Jalaie partner, Julia Biderman (11), took home

Coast Interscholastic Sailing

SoCal #6 regatta.

“Most of our new sailors … are going against some of the top sailors in the

San Diego Bay

country,” Jalaie said. “It’s just amazing to see someone with so little experience do really well.”

Head coach Emma Asturias echoed this.

“Many of our recruits started this past fall and are already competing at the highest level in high school sailing,” Asturias said.

foot vessel, but that soon changed with the support of her teammates.

“I had never actually sailed a boat before joining the team … but then everyone was so kind and open and helped me get over the fear of being in charge of a boat,” Biderman said.

This year, Doruk Hoke (9) joined the TPHS sailing team

everyone on the team.”

I love everyone on the team. They make me feel like I belong in the school, like I belong on the team.”
Julia Biderman JUNIOR

“We always rotate [sailing partners] because it makes the team better and everyone engages with each other,” Hoke said. “Two of my very best friends, I met on the sailing team.”

Even Biderman, who participates in two other independent activities — tennis and piano — has grown to enjoy being part of a team.

“It’s not challenging [adjusting to a team sport].

Sometimes piano and tennis can get competitive, but with sailing, people are so understanding and they help each other,” Biderman said. “[Everyone on the team] makes me feel like I belong.”

Even after racing several PCISA SoCal regattas, the TPHS sailing team is not on many people’s radars. Jalaie’s mother

to know what it would take to change that and make the

also questions regarding “resource commitment [and] potential liability questions.”

Asturias sees the importance of giving the team more recognition.

“However, I cannot stress enough that our team operates with the same seriousness and drive that other sports do. We train hard, travel to compete, learn theory and racing strategy and compete to win!” Asturias said.

sports tphsfalconer.org the falconer A23
Liv Weaver COPY Natalie Jalaie Junior




The Falconer observes the recent deaths that have impacted TPHS and its students.

Anonymous scrolling The Falconer Seniors’ Chromebooks

A sense of self-worth

The COVID excuse Romance

Anonymous scrolling dies at 24

The ability to like and comment on Instagram reels without your aunt, classmate and ex knowing sadly died in its sleep. Passing away shortly after was the ability to watch Instagram reels without knowing extremely explicit, sensitive information about the classmates you follow. Anonymity will be dearly missed. It is survived by second-hand embarrassment, shame and Threads (though no one really knows them).

The Falconer dies at 49

Just kidding. Even if print journalism is on its deathbed, the Falconer is immortal.

Seniors’ chromebooks die at four

After four difficult years, the senior class’s Chromebooks passed away due to a variety of injuries and complications — including internal bleeding from being dropped too many times, as well as severe blood loss from the missing stylus hole in their sides. During their lives, the Chromebooks served the senior class well, and they leave behind a legacy of Wordle wins, Connections losses and failed Strands. Their funeral will be held in the Learning Commons on Senior Check-Out Day. It will be open casket.

A sense of selfworth post-AP testing dies after three hours

High self-esteem met its death recently when it was brutally murdered by Chromebooks dying during digital testing. Sadly, this death could have been avoided if digital testing’s brother (paper testing) had stuck around (see A6).

The COVID excuse dies at four

The COVID excuse — “Oh, sorry, I had COVID” or “I have some COVID-like symptoms, so I can’t come, just to be safe” — was a loving and loyal friend to many. The autopsy revealed the cause of death to be the class of ‘24 — the COVID freshies — graduating from TPHS. The departed lived a life of service, and it will be dearly missed by the community at large.

Romance dies at 18

After a long and honorable struggle, romance drew its final breath when you were asked out to prom over Snapchat. Romance lived a rich and fulfilling life for many years, brightening the existence of everyone it touched, from Shakespeare to Kendrick Lamar (see A8). Romance suffered a close call earlier in the year when the word “situationship” entered vocabularies. Romance recovered, but was re-hospitalized after “the college experience” card was pulled one too many times. Ultimately, however, the Snapchat promposal killed romance. Romance may be dead, but the situationship is not.

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