Falconer March 2023 Issue

Page 8

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Diving into Construction

District projects TPHS pool to be constructed winter 2023

The construction of a 39-meter swimming pool is projected to begin next winter at TPHS; however, questions remain about the feasibility of this long-awaited project.

When this projection was announced in February, proponents of campus pools, including members of the 12 high school swim, dive and water polo teams across SDUHSD, commended the district.

“It would dramatically change the entire landscape of all the aquatic sports to be able to have practices, games and excitement [on campus],” TPHS Dive Coach K.C. Tudor said.

“It would be nice to have a home,” TPHS Head Swim Coach Richard Contereras agreed.

Despite this enthusiasm, hurdles still remain.

First is the approval of a maximum construction price for the pool, which is expected to be presented to the SDUHSD Board of Trustees next fall, according to John Addleman, the interim associate superintendent of business services.

“Until I see that vote, I’m not going to celebrate,” Suzanne von Thaden, the lead of the parent-led pool advocacy SDUHSD Aquatics Committee, said.

The construction cost, now estimated at $14.03 million, is expected to be covered by Fund 40, a reserve fund for capital projects, according to Addleman.

The source of operational dollars, currently estimated at $243 thousand annually, is less clear. It is anticipated that fundraising, lane rentals and community partnerships would offset this cost; however, finalized agreements cannot be made until a maximum price is approved, Thaden said.

Since 2008, families have pushed for the district to build pools on campuses, arguing that renting facilities disadvantages aquatic athletes with limited practice times. While SDUHSD has never had a pool on a district campus, 90% of California high school districts have aquatic facilities, according to the SDUHSD website.

In April 2022, the board unanimously approved a motion of intention to build two pools—one in the north and one in the south of the district.

TPHS was ultimately chosen as the southern site; the northern pool site has yet to be finalized.

In the absence of a pool on a district campus, SDUHSD aquatic teams must schedule their practices at alternate facilities, accommodating the practices of the pools’ home teams.

This year, both the TPHS Boys and Girls Water Polo teams practiced from

6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Mt. Carmel High School.

“We never get the first choice of when we can practice,” Boys Varsity Water Polo player Drew Smith (12) said. “A lot of teams that have their own pools can practice right after school, which is really nice because you’re not getting home as late and you have more time to do homework, sleep and eat.”

Similarly, swim practices at the Boys and Girls Club in Solana Beach can run as late as 9:30 p.m. The four divers on the TPHS dive team “rush” to Cathedral Catholic High School after their 3:25 p.m. release to join the Cathedral dive team’s 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. practice, according to varsity diver Mary Taich (11).

“I think all of us have at least one class after lunch, so we are late to half of the practices,” Taich said. continued on A2

AQUATIC ACHIEVEMENT: TPHS Varsity swimmer Keely Yeager (12) competes against Westview High School at the Rancho Bernardo High School aquatic facility on March 25. The latest development in a decades-old push to build pools on SDUHSD campuses, the construction of a pool at TPHS is projected to begin next winter.
Vol. 48, Issue 6, 24 pages

Some aquatic athletes said the absence of a campus pool has reduced interest in, and even awareness of, the TPHS aquatics program.

“For sports like football and soccer, students can watch a game after school, and it inspires them to join,” James Halpern (9), a member of the Boys Junior Varsity Water Polo Team, said. “Most people don’t even know we have a water polo team. There’s no student section ever at the games.”

Members of the other three TPHS aquatic teams echoed Halpern.

“It makes it hard to get school spirit for the sport because no one wants to drive to Rancho Bernardo to support their team,” Varsity swimmer Lauren Linares (11) said.

Even without a pool on campus, the TPHS aquatics program has been

successful, winning multiple CIF championship titles, Contereras said.

“We’ve always made do without having our own pool,” he said. “There’s been rental costs involved and inconvenient practice times … but the cost of operating a pool annually is not cheap. It has to be managed wisely, and it has to be utilized toward maximum potential.”

Considering the expense, community members have questioned the advisability of a pool, given the district’s deficit spending and deferred maintenance in recent years. While the deferred maintenance budget was increased in June 2022 and a budget workshop this month predicted the district will move out of deficit spending within three years, some view a pool as detrimental to these efforts.

“I don’t know if we can afford [pools],” SDUHSD Board Member Katrina

Young said. “I would like … to build a pool, [but] I want to make sure that we don’t do it at the sacrifice of any other projects [or] our financial stability.”

The operational budget is another area of concern. While nothing is finalized, estimated operation costs of $243 thousand annually could be offset by $105 to $135 thousand through renting lanes to self-sufficient organizations — aquatic groups with lifeguard certified coaches — the district projected in April 2022. Considering the $92.5 thousand the district pays to rent pools for the two southern high schools, the net pool-related increase to the budget is estimated to be only $16 to $46 thousand annually.

If the maximum price is approved next fall and construction begins soon after, TPHS would likely have an operational pool by fall 2024, Addleman said.

District begins supt. search with community input

SDUHSD has launched its search for a new superintendent, enlisting the consulting firm Education Support Services Group to lead the process.

Following the SDUHSD Board of Trustees’ unanimous decision to terminate the previous superintendent, Dr. Cheryl James-Ward, in June 2022 for controversial comments correlating the academic success of Asian students to wealth, Tina Douglas was appointed as the interim superintendent through June 30, 2023.

Beginning their search in late 2022,, the board hired the Education Support Services Group in a 3 to 2 vote on Jan. 31 to assist in the superintendent


Since then, the consultant service has met with various stakeholder groups, including district office staff and senior cabinet members, to identify their needs for the next superintendent.

“People are sharing that there is a lack of a strategic plan and focus with the instability of leadership in the district,” Suzette Lovely, one of the firm search advisers, said. “We have heard of strained relationships between the parents, the community and the school board that need to be healed.”

Per the board’s request, they also held two town hall meetings for community feedback on March 7 and 14 at San Dieguito High School Academy and Pacific Trails Middle School.

“The board wanted to make sure that we had open-ended town hall forums so that if someone — a parent, community member, staff member or teacher — wanted to give input, they would have a venue to do that,” Lovely said.

The first meeting divided attendants into discussion groups to consider the desired qualities of the incoming superintendent and the challenges they may face in the job. In the second meeting, participants anonymously contributed their views on the online platform, Padlet.

“This selection process is an important one. It allows the people of our school board to know what everyone has in mind, what is valuable to us,” Marcel Chambers, an attendee and a parent of SDUHSD students, said.

Many attendees reiterated the request to find a superintendent to fill the position long-term.

“I am very concerned about the next superintendent [staying longterm]. This is going to be the sixth superintendent in six years,” Marci Strange, a community member, said. “Superintendent is the most important position of any school district.”

Recognizing this importance, many of the town hall attendees asked the search firm to look for open-minded candidates who will focus on closing gaps in student achievement.

“I like seeing more focus on bettering student education. We should be offered more classes that can help us in the future to help modernize the education system,” Darmin Tarasewicz (10), who attended one of the town halls, said.

Others proposed more transparency

and communication between parents, students and the district regarding topics like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, district budgeting and college counseling services.

“I hope that the superintendent is someone who will listen to not just parents, but also teachers and students. It’s important when there are decisions made by the district for students from different backgrounds to share their opinions,” TPHS Student Board Representative Julia Liu (12) said.

On March 23, the search firm presented a Leadership Profile to the board summarizing the collected stakeholder input. From now until May 17, when the new superintendent will be appointed, the board will review and interview applicants. The new superintendent will begin their assignment on July 1.

news march 29, 2023 A2 the falconer TPHS
continued from
COMMUNITY COLLABORATION: Community members answer a questionnaire about the district’s strengths and weaknesses and desired qualities for a superintendent at the March 7 town hall. The search firm recorded these answers to aid in their process.
11 - 13: applicant reviews
29 - 30: applicant interviews
17: new supt. appointed July 1: new supt. begins BoardReport DistrictUpdate
A STAKE IN SDUHSD: A community member speaks about desired qualities in a superintendent during the March 7 town hall. Community input from the two town halls was used to create the superintendent leadership profile presented to the board on March 23.
46% of TPHS students say their experience as a student is directly impacted by the quality of the district superintendent.
68% of TPHS teachers say their ability to perform their jobs is directly impacted by the quality of the district superintendent.
Superintendent search conducted by the Education Support Services Consulting Group INFORMATION FROM SURVEY OF 70 TPHS STUDENTS AND 61 TPHS TEACHERS
PHOTO BY ANNA OPALSKY/FALCONER NEW HEIGHTS: TPHS Varsity diver Ezra Purcell (11) dives during a 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. practice at Cathedral Catholic High School. Sharing a practice time with the Cathedral dive team, the four TPHS divers miss a majority of practice on days they do not have free periods. PHOTO BY ANNA OPALSKY/FALCONER

District classified staff receive long-awaited wage raise

After months of negotiations between SDUHSD and the California School Employees Association, the district’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a 4% raise to classified staff wages at a meeting on March 15.

This comes after an initial 1.63% wage increase approved at a Jan. 31 board meeting, which raised the district’s salaries in accordance with state minimum wage: $15.50. At the same meeting, several classified employees — school workers who are not required to have certification, including nutrition services employees and groundsworkers — asked the board to raise salaries to reflect increased workloads and the rising cost of living in San Diego.

“We shouldn’t be having to beg for minimum wage,” Naomi Diehl, a health technician at San Dieguito Academy, said at the Jan. 31 meeting.

Despite the 4% raise, SDUHSD classified staff do not feel it is enough. The district’s entrance wages continue to be lower than others in the county.

Other classified staff, like TPHS campus supervisor Bob McKeon and administrative assistant Yesenia Isario, believe their wages are adequate.

“I sincerely consider it a privilege to have a job that I get compensated fairly for,” Isario said.

However, many classified employees correlate a rise in resignations to their wages. According to Susan Gray, the SDUHSD director of classified personnel, the district saw 38 resignations in the 2021-22 school year and 47 in the 2022-23 school year so far. These resignations account for nearly one sixth of the classified staff force,

according to Diegueno Middle School plant supervisor and CSEA negotiator Carlos Magana.

“We have had more vacancies now ... than in the 20 years I’ve been here,” Carmel Valley Middle School administrative assistant and CSEA negotiator Roberta Blank, said.

According to Jon Hall, an SDUHSD bus mechanic and CSEA negotiator, the district currently only has 19 bus drivers — a shortage of 22.

“We just got 23 new buses, but don’t have anyone to drive them,” Hall said.

SDUHSD technician and CSEA Chapter President Matt Colwell said that classified staff wages do not provide much incentive for workers to stay in the district.

“The low starting wage of a number of job classifications makes it hard for the district to recruit new folks,” Colwell said.

TPHS Campus Supervisor Jose Reynoso agreed.

“If someone can work at McDonald’s and then come here and only for a couple of bucks more have all of these responsibilities, where is the

incentive?” Renoso said.

Some TPHS students find this somewhat ironic.

“It is ridiculous that 16 year olds working down the street make more than the individuals that are the foundation of our school,” Camille Kraft (11) said.

It is difficult for classified staff in SDUHSD to live in the district, according to Blank. Therefore, employees must make long commutes to work, further disincentivizing working for the district rather than a similar paying job closer to home.

“[Blank] is one of the highest paid classified members on her site, and yet she qualified for low income housing. What does that say?” Magana said.

Along with this staffing shortage, classified staff feel that they have had to shoulder a greater workload.

“The stress and the pressure has been huge, and it isn’t compensated or recognized,” Blank said.

However, SDUHSD Communication Coordinator Miquel Jacobs said that staffing shortage is not an issue unique to SDUHSD, but a nation-wide problem.

“SDUHSD continues to work on its recruitment efforts in traditional and creative ways to ensure that we continue our reputation as a highperforming district,” he said.

Many classified employees are seeking equity in their wages that align proportionally with those of teachers.

“It is discouraging when we learn that the teachers are the number one highest paid in the county and the classified staff are not,” Magana said. “We provide services for our students like a nurturing environment and we just wanted to be treated the same as our counterparts.”

Aidan Wong (12) said that classified staff, “are an integral part of TPHS. The fact that they’re being paid less than other districts in this area is frankly a disgrace.”

Looking to the future, SDUHSD classified staff hope that the district will continue to keep salaries competitive to the rest of San Diego county.

“Working here you never know what tomorrow may hold … The wages need to be better so that we aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. ” Reynoso said.

38 classified staff resignations in 2021-22, 47 in 2022-23 so far

SDUHSD advises legal counsel to settle with Juul

The SDUHSD Board of Trustees advised their legal counsel to settle a 2020 lawsuit against JUUL, an electronic cigarette company, at a board meeting on March 15.

On Jan. 7, 2020, SDUHSD joined many school districts across the United States in suing JUUL, alleging that JUUL marketed to minors and disrupted learning environments. The company was forced by the Food and Drug Administration to temporarily stop product sales in 2022 and since then, JUUL has provided billions of dollars in settlements to 33 states, over 10,000 plaintiffs, and some school districts.

And it’s possible that SDUHSD will become one of them. In the board meeting, Board President Rimga Viskanta reported from closed session that “the board, by 5-0 vote, instructed district council to settle the matter regarding JUUL Labs Inc. marketing, sales, and practices and products liability litigation.”

For Viskanta, settling could be a way to provide additional resources for SDUHSD to address problems such as vaping on campus.

“School districts can receive settlement dollars that can be used for a variety of purposes including to help students learn healthy habits, boosting their potential for learning and overall well-being while in school and beyond.”

To some students, settling this case could send a counterproductive message. Darmin Tarasewicz (10), a member of the TPHS Peer Assistance Listeners, said that settling “demotes the issue” and “sends a message that this is not a big priority for the board.”

PALS works on campus to promote healthy habits for students’ physical and mental health, which includes discouraging vaping.

Regardless of whether or not the lawsuit is settled, joining this case was “the right thing” to do, according to TPHS Principal Rob Coppo.

“At least we’re standing for something, trying to be part of the solution rather than just throwing up our hands and saying ‘well what

can you do? You can’t fight these big corporations.’ Yes we can,” he said.

Some students agreed.

“I think it shows [students that use nicotine] that ‘my district is cracking down, I might need to figure this out and find somebody that can help me with this situation,’” Evan Patrick (12), a member of PALS, said.

These messages were reiterated by Trustee Katrina Young, who hopes students are affected by the lawsuit’s message.

“We care about them and want to educate them of the dangers of smoking and vaping. Hopefully by standing up to companies like JUUL, we can inspire students to do the same by making healthy choices themselves.”

news the falconer A3 tphsfalconer.com
SEEKING RECOGNITION AND A RAISE: A student speaks with a nurtition services employee at the TPHS Falcon Eatery. Classified staff members, including the district’s nutrition services workers, recieved a 4% raise in March after employees called for competitive and fair compensation.
“We provide services for our students like a nurturing environment and we just wanted to be treated the same as our counterparts.”
Bus driver shortage of 22, leaving 23 new buses unused Current 4% raise follows 1.63% raise in accordance with $15.50 state minimum wage

Falcon Accolades

Academic Team

North County League Championship

Science Olympiad

DECA International Career Developement Conference


TPHS clubs are advancing to regional, state and international competitions in April. The Falconer checked in with four teams as they prepared for these high-stakes rounds.

TPHS music department presents spring concert

The Falcon community filled the TPHS Performing Arts Center on March 8 for the TPHS music department’s Spring Concert.

It was the third concert of the year for the music program, which includes the choir, band, orchestra and jazz band.

“It went very well, better than I expected,” music teacher Amy Gelb said. “We were totally prepared, but all the classes took it up a notch.”

Choir opened the concert with four pieces, including Thula Kilzeo, a South African song.

“I really like choosing pieces that are completely different, that students would never come across, so I’m always looking for different cultural pieces,” Gelb said.

All of the music classes have been preparing for this concert since their last performances in December.

KC Olson (12), an alto in choir,

agreed with Gelb that the concert was a success.

“Specifically for the choir, I think that the execution of the songs was a lot better, cutoffs were cleaner, nobody got lost and we were more together,” Olson said.

Following the choir, the band performed three pieces. According to flutist Scarlett Hyun (10), the band’s performance was great and went “without any serious issues.”

The orchestra performed next, joined with soloists Lauren Suh (10), a flutist in the band, and harpist Velana Valdez (12). The orchestra played two songs, the same pieces they played earlier this month at the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association Festival, at which they earned a unanimous superior rating, securing a place in regionals — the next level of competition — in May.

“I think we’re prepared for [regionals],” violinist Anthony Kim (9) said. “As a group, we were pretty

cohesive, and we had a very strong performance.”

Jazz band closed the concert with seven pieces, featuring solos from several performers, including vocalist Libby Bezdek (12).

Suprising the audience, Bezdek performed a self-choreographed tap dance during one song, “Fascinating Rhythm.”

“That tap number was a tribute to Gershwin … who wrote ‘Fascinating Rhythm,’” Bezdek said, noting that the Gershwin brothers — prominent jazz songwriters in the twentieth century — were known for adding tap dancing to their jazz performances.

Overall, Gelb said the Spring Concert’s success will motivate her students to continue improving.

“I think … they’re realizing their potential,” Gelb said. “We’re trying harder music in all of our classes and we’re heading into more competitions … so I think that we’ll be at an even higher level for the next [concert].”

“Specifically for choir, I think that the execution of the songs was a lot better, cutoffs were cleaner, nobody got lost and we were more together.”

“We’re trying harder music in all of our classes and we’re heading into more competitions … so I think that we’ll be at an even higher level for the next [concert].”


(12) Drums

news march 29, 2023 A4 the falconer

Local start-ups reflect on Silicon Valley Bank failure

The initial weight of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse fell on the shoulders of many San Diego startups, who were faced with the unprecedented challenge of managing and accessing millions in funds, much of which were locked in SVB, the most prominent bank for technology and startup industries.

The collapse was triggered by a statement from SVB on March 8 announcing the sale of $21.5 billion in federal government securities at a $1.8 billion loss, according to the Wallstreet Journal. Panic spread through the venture capitalist and business community, with many taking to Twitter to advise depositors to withdraw their money. A bank run ensued, and on March 10, SVB collapsed and was taken by the FDIC.

Luckily, some companies, like Trust

and Will, a San Diego-based startup, decided to withdraw most of their money before the collapse, in part motivated by “credible” advice on Twitter, out of fear of not making payroll.

“This was a Twitter-led bank run,” CEO of Trust and Will Cody Barbo said.

Other San Diego startups that were late to react, like Luna Diabetes, were not as fortunate.

“All of our money was inaccessible,” John Sjolund, the CEO of Luna Diabetes, said. “It was really scary.”

After two days of uncertainty, the first sign of light for many startups came when the FDIC announced on March 12 that SVB customers would have access to all their deposits starting the following day.

By March 13, depositors, including Trust and Will and Luna Diabetes, began recovering their assets and emerged from the frenzy shaken up, but unscathed.

“The whole world was falling apart for two days. [Now], it’s business as usual,” Barbo said.

Both Barbo and Sjolund have already opened several deposit accounts with more established banks, such as J.P. Morgan and Bank of America, to protect against a future collapse.

The collapse is also a message to government regulators that there is not enough oversight on regional banks like SVB, according to Mike Freeman, a business reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune.

“Someone should have been sounding

the alarm, that someone being the San Francisco Fed,” he said.

For investors, the SVB collapse, which has been largely attributed to interest rate dynamics, raises an important question, according to Samvit Ramadurgan (‘10), a founder of multiple investment firms: “What will the macro impact of [interest] rates mean for investing?”

While the shockwaves of the SVB collapse reverberated through the global banking industry, for most startups, including Sjolund’s, it merely “made for a really crappy weekend.”

Hate speech incident reveals student discipline trend

A recent videotaped incident involving a TPHS student’s racist comments, circulated on the social media platform Snapchat, has highlighted a new trend in student discipline issues.

According to TPHS Principal Rob Coppo, there has been “more vandalism, fights, and inappropriate behavior issues” brought to attention due to social media, many of which occur off campus.

TPHS addressed the video in a media statement released on March 8, calling the video “derogatory, racist

and unacceptable.”

“While this incident did not occur during the school day, and was not connected to any school event, TPHS is addressing the impact of this behavior on our school community,” the statement said.

The situation is just one of many incidents in which social media has enabled administrators to discipline students who would otherwise go unseen if not for documentation like video recordings.

“We’ve now taken to suspending students that we can identify [videotaping] a fight,” Coppo said. “They’re having an impact because

Art History in the community

they’re creating a video that other people now want, which creates a disruption of school activities.”

During the day, TPHS has jurisdiction over students from when they leave their house to the moment they cross the threshold of their household again, according to Coppo.

“So that’s where social media gets super gray and murky,” Coppo said. “But when somebody says something that has an impact on our campus, we need to intervene,” regardless of where it occurred.

At a SDUHSD board meeting on March 15, Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Bryan Marcus

addressed student discipline off campus.

“Social media posts and [incidents] that are taking place outside of school [are] creating a negative environment at school that has taken up a lot of our time from our administrators to deal with,” Marcus said.

TPHS students have also become aware of an increase in the spread of incidents online.

“Social media definitely plays a large component in bringing light to incidents,” said Everett Alden (12). “But unless it’s a threat to students, the school shouldn’t be involved with what’s happening on social media.”

Their first field trip in many years, the two periods of AP Art History at TPHS visited National Geographic’s “Beyond King Tut,” an immersive exhibit held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Mar. 15.

CERTIFIED AND NON-PROFIT OPERATES YEAR-ROUND ARTISANS FOOD COURT • LIVE MUSIC • ARTS & CRAFTS OCEAN VIEWS • FRESH LOCAL PRODUCE Saturdays 12 -4 pm Rain or shine Del Mar Civic Center 1050 Camino del Mar FREE Parking in Garage @delmar_farmersmarket
news the falconer A5 tphsfalconer.com $21.45 billion bond sale @ $1.8 billion loss $42 billion withdrawn @ height of bank run SVB collapses & FDIC takes over march 8 march 9 march 10

The NYT must be held accountable for anti-trans bias

Anderson as a psychologist who has counseled numerous children over gender identity-related issues. What Baker leaves out is that Anderson resigned from the U.S. Professional Association for Transgender Health a year before the story was published and worked with conservative law groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, which views trans people as an “... existential threat to society,” according to their official website. Additionally,

trans people and villainizing activists who called her out for it.

Recently, the New York Times has spread misleading views of trans people with little-to-no basis in science through their relentless publication of editorials that spread transphobia. The Times has not only remained silent against the oppression of the marginalized, but gave platform and validation to antitrans hate groups. The Times must make reparations for their defamatory coverage of trans people as they have broken the sanctity of journalism by siding with the oppressor.

Katie Baker’s feature on Jan. 22, “When Students Change Gender Identity and Parents Don’t Know,” validates the legal strategy utilized by anti-trans hate groups to ban trans rights. In the piece, Baker cites Erica Anderson, a psychologist who is trans herself, to suggest that schools should report socially transitioning students to their parents: an invasion of privacy. However, crucial context is left unsaid in the piece. Baker introduces Dr.

“The Battle Over Gender Therapy” by Emily Bazelon, a story published by the New York Times Magazine, makes antitrans points about trans healthcare that contradict the science, citing multiple expert sources that later expressed regret over the misrepresentation of their work in the piece.

In response, a sign-on letter by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, signed by over 100 supporters including LGBTQ+ organizations, doctors and non-profits, was sent to the Times on Feb. 15. The letter made three demands: stop printing biased anti-trans stories, listen to the trans community and invest in hiring full time trans writers and editors. All demands were not made to tear down the Times but to mend the evident disconnect between trans people and the coverage of them.

The following day, the Times fired back by publishing an anti-trans editorial by Pamela Paul, “In Defence of J.K. Rowling,” defending J.K. Rowling for her comments on Twitter attacking

The Times has misled their audience about the legitimacy of trans healthcare. As Tom Scocca, a journalist for Popula, analyzed, within just eight months, the Times published 13,945 words’ worth of front-page stories that question or even argue that support for trans people has gone too far. However, renowned medical institutions have proven otherwise. For years, major medical associations have voiced support for trans healthcare as it is literally life-saving. According to a study on gender-affirming care for trans and non-binary youth ages 1320 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, “puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones are associated with 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality over a 12-month follow-up.” The science is clear: healthcare for trans children is an essential human right.

Despite all the authorities disproving the bias the Times has, the Times has the audacity to claim that their mission is to “seek the truth and help people understand the world.” The truth is right under their noses: health care for trans individuals saves lives. The Times believes that “... great journalism has the power to make … all of society stronger and more just.” Yet, the Times has defiled the very essence of journalism. Denying trans people their

unalienable right to health care makes society neither stronger nor just.

Even so, it would be unfair to say the Times exclusively publishes antitrans stories. The Times has published pieces, written by trans writers, in the past that justly cover trans issues. Having said that, such positive stories are so few and far between that all in all, at worst, the Times is a weapon used by anti-trans groups, and at best, is apathetic to human rights violations. Any decent journalist can see exactly what the Times is truly doing. Neutrality in the face of injustice is siding with the oppressor.

Women’s History Month needs a new perspective

oppressed group, as if the payment of lip service is sufficient. Rather, we must acknowledge that the debt our society owes to these groups cannot be repaid through a footnote on our calendars.

Not only is addressing women’s history once a year further isolating and perpetuating gender segregation, but the format of how it is currently being taught also has its faults.

Listening to their teachers talk about Women’s History Month, little girls’ minds are flooded with questions: Why do women need a separate month dedicated to their history? Is women’s history not just part of regular history? Shifting their glances to the boys of the class, the girls wonder why there is no “Men’s History Month” — does that imply that they got all 12 months to themselves? Do men already have their place in history secured?

Women’s History Month has always felt like a shallow gesture, a pat on the head, a “here’s the time of the year that we think of you!” from men who already have their 12 months.

It is not that we should not celebrate women’s history, or any people’s — it is that no group should feel relegated to only four weeks a year.

It is not enough to dedicate a month a year to the celebration of any

Although it can be gratifying to pause and appreciate how much progress has been made — women in the United States gained access to birth control in 1916, achieved suffrage in 1920 and liberated their divorce rights in the 1960s — the teaching of women’s history often feels like its purpose is to educate men about how they should treat women, rather than focusing on the persistent quest for equality. Women’s History Month should be dedicated to focusing on reforming long-standing historical injustices, not to make our past more easily digestible and convenient for men, with the intent of educating them about gender inequality.

Every year during March, social media posts often highlight statistics such as women earning only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men for the same job. These reiterate the existing problems of unequal pay that women are already aware of, instead of taking action to address them.

Curriculum surrounding education on women’s history often commodifies their achievements, suggesting that women are only valuable when they do extraordinary things, such as flying solo across the planet or dying for a cause. While the progress of women entering male-dominated fields is promising, the month continues to undervalue traditionally female-dominated fields, such as nursing, childcare and teaching. The focus of the month should be on recognizing the contributions of all women, including so-called “ordinary women.”

While the concept of “herstory” may sound empowering, it undermines the fact that all genders share a collective human history. When conducting a search for historically influential female figures, Malala Yousafzai, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman are some of the many names that pop up.

Notice that these figures have not

only shaped the history of a singular gender but also the history of humanity. The key is to avoid seeing history as a collection of fragmented stories and instead approach it as a unified whole.

Confining the recognition of women’s history to a few lines in a textbook or one month in a year reduces women to a limited subset of history.

Ultimately, the existence of Women’s History Month implies that more support for women is needed throughout the year. It ought to be an opportunity not just to recognize women’s struggles and achievements but also actively challenge the obstacles set by the patriarchy that make such achievements a struggle in the first place.


On March 1, the San Diego Police Department proposed installing 500 new Smart Streetlights, equipped with automated license plate readers, or ALPRs, around San Diego for the security and protection of its citizens. Automated license plate readers capture the license plates of passing cars for law enforcement and alert investigators to vehicles in their system that are connected with crimes. This technology in San Diego will greatly strengthen San Diego’s police force, especially benefiting investigations, without invading citizens’ privacy.

Firstly, the readers will provide an extraordinarily helpful tool to our currently short-staffed police department in investigating more serious cases. Cases that involve missing persons, human trafficking, exploitation of children and narcotics trafficking will all be easier to investigate and solve. The license plate reader system would automatically compare scanned license plates with other databases containing the license plates of vehicles connected to crimes. If a match is found, the technology immediately notifies police that a wanted car was detected and at what time and location. The police will also be able to create a “watch list” of suspect vehicles as crimes happen in real time, allowing law enforcement to be alerted to any vehicle associated with a crime in San Diego, no matter

On March 1, the San Diego Police Department proposed a plan to install 500 cameras, equipped with automated license plate reader technology, on street lights across San Diego. Although these readers pose some privacy concerns to the public, they will be essential in ensuring public safety.

how recently the crime occurred.

One of the major concerns surrounding the integration of the technology is that it may be an invasion of the public’s privacy. A clear understanding of how this technology works and will be used, however, says otherwise. It is important to note that there is no facial recognition technology included in the readers; they can only scan the license plates of passing cars. Although the readers do upload all of the license plates to a database, only the ones that match other databases for wanted cars or cars that are connected with crimes set off an alert. If the data is not used to aid in law enforcement endeavors, it will be deleted in 30 days, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Counter to beliefs that the license plate database is easily accessible or not secure, only select people and departments have access to the data.

For the San Diego Police to have permission to access the technology, they are required to follow specific procedures outlined in two new ordinances created by the city, called the Transparent and Responsible Use of Surveillance Technology (TRUST).

One of them established a Privacy Advisory Board “to offer advice in hopes of ensuring transparency, accountability and public debate,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

In addition, only “law enforcement personnel that have an official purpose for accessing ... a criminal case or incident number/name, [and] a lawful purpose with a need and right to know the information” can access the data, according to the police department’s proposed plan on California ALPR FAQs.

A survey by the La Jolla Light found 42% of respondents would feel safer if SDPD used automated license plate readers. Only 13% of respondents said that they would feel less safe.

This technology will work wonders for the security of San Diego, and all those who live in it.

Within the next few months, there is a very high chance that the San Diego Police Department will have eyes everywhere. In early March, the police department proposed a plan to install 500 surveillance cameras on street lights around the entire city that would be able to read the license plates of passing cars and store information about when and where they passed the readers. These camera systems will invade San Diegans’ privacy and have historically been proven to collect minimal amounts of data that could actually aid law enforcement in solving crimes. They should not be installed on the streets of San Diego.

For many, this new technology seems like a major invasion of privacy. The license plate readers have the ability to track one’s car at any point in time if driving within the areas where the cameras are set up. The information gathered by the readers will be stored in a database that the state government has the ability to access. While this data is intended to be used to aid the police department in solving crimes, the fact that the readers will be collecting information about any vehicle on public roads raises ethical concerns about the technology. Even though the cameras will not be collecting civilians’ names and faces, they are collecting something equally personal: location data. This data can tell police where specific cars were at certain times and thus map out their everyday routines. The location information of San Diegans should not be so easily available to police officers.

Some argue that installing license plate readers will benefit our community. For one, the readers will aid police in much more easily finding wanted vehicles associated with missing-person cases and other crimes. As scanned license plates are fed into the police’s database, they are automatically compared with other law enforcement databases that contain lists of license plates connected with crimes. If there is a match, local

officers are alerted.

But while the license plate recognition technology may seem like an effective way to drastically reduce crime rates and easily catch criminals, the results of previous attempts at implementing this technology reflect a different outcome. In Escondido, the readers were set up to solve crimes, but according to KPBS, only 0.9% of the license plates the cameras read ended up actually aiding the police in investigating crimes. According to the Union-Tribune, Chula Vista’s license plate reader system reported 293,599 records in 2021, but only 170 of those records were useful to the police. The sole purpose of installing surveillance cameras in our county would be to help the police solve crimes more efficiently. At a cost of $4 million to install the cameras, according to the La Jolla Light, the technology is anything but cost efficient, especially when recorded data on thousands of civilians’ whereabouts are collected without good reason.

The proposed license plate reader system does not accomplish its purported purpose. We should not set up the readers on the streets of San Diego and subject innocent private citizens to invasions of their privacy by potentially tracking their whereabouts. We should instead continue to have law enforcement protect the public in the same way that has worked for many years.

opinion tphsfalconer.com the falconer A7


Editor-in-Chief Dixie Wallerius shares her experience with waiting rooms throughout her life and how they have shaped her inner strengths and personal identity.

In some ways, I hate waiting rooms. The number of disinfectants pumped into them gives the room a distinctive sterility that somehow manages to make them both so desolate and reassuring. The furniture, a crime in its own right, is the opposite of comfortable –— bare, bony and unforgiving. Coupled with outdated magazines and medical literature specific to the office’s practice, waiting rooms, for me, conjure dread.

But they are also somewhere I have practiced being uncomfortable, and, in the process, have become resilient.

From getting my first pimple at age 10 to being one of the youngest patients on Accutane, I began to know the Dermatology waiting rooms like the back of my bracelet-covered, pink-polished hand. My dread for the appointments grew, and my hope for clear skin dwindled with each failed

cream, wash and prescription. Before being taken back to try the new, promising regimen, I would sit with my mom in the waiting room, always the youngest patient by what seemed to be 30 years, with my coloring books and vocabulary flashcards in hand. But along with the dread and discomfort that came with my waiting room tours of duty, I was developing patience and an ability beyond my years to adjust to unfavorable circumstances.

Dealing with severe acne at the ripe age of 10 forced me to find confidence in my internal strengths rather than my physical characteristics. Rather than priding myself on my non-existent clear skin, long hair or straight teeth, I learned to be proud of and embrace other notable traits, like my ability to be a good friend, to have empathy for others and to withstand challenges.

With my acne under control, my

time in waiting rooms diminished aside from occasional check-ups and lastminute CVS clinic visits. I no longer felt the dread and hopelessness I once experienced, but rather confidence in my ability to handle discomfort. Content and proud, I began to grow more into myself — still having confidence within and learning how to accept myself after years of hiding behind acne. I developed my quiet personality to better reflect its true nature — accepting, outgoing and kind — discovered and shaped through the time I spent waiting.

I thought I was done with waiting rooms but just as I had never expected to be treated for an adolescent malady as a child, I was quite literally hit with another unforeseen turn of events.

After a hit-and-run car accident in my junior year, in which I sustained a longterm severe concussion and a traumatic brain injury, I was thrown back into

the waiting rooms I thought I had left behind. Dermatology offices were now replaced with neurology centers, exam tables for MRI machines and failed creams with failed medications to remedy the chronic migraines — and always the same, cold, sterile waiting rooms. Still somehow the youngest patient in the room, I traded coloring books for my phone, and flash cards for my journal in an attempt to navigate the discomfort I felt. Feeling like my 10-year-old self again, uncertain and scared, I drew upon the strength I had developed in my earlier years. Time in these waiting rooms was a passing concern; I had a well-established fortitude in me that helped me see that there is good that comes from challenge. My inner strength and determination, my maturity and equanimity, these are the qualities I value in myself. They were all developed in waiting rooms.

Addiction is a disease. Science says this is undebatable.

Two months ago the Falconer published an editorial with the headline, “Addiction should be treated as a choice.” Reading it, I decided I had to respond; it felt wrong to let that opinion go without a rebuttal, specifically, the unquestionable, concrete fact that addiction is a disease, not a choice, and it is imperative that it be treated as such.

I could launch into flourishing rhetoric and vivid description, flashbacks and horror stories, recitations of conversations from a psychotherapist’s couch to prove this point, but I will not. I could shame my readers into agreeing with me, but I will not. Almost everyone in the orbit of an addict, regardless of the drug of choice, has an emotional stake in whether addiction is a disease or not. Experiencing addiction either in oneself, in a family member or in a friend drags behind it the difficult balance of coping with the boundary between choice and compunction. I intend to map out the exact reasons why addiction is a disease. That is how important of a distinction this is.

To strip addiction down to its bones, substance use causes biochemical changes in a user’s neural pathways, hijacking the brain’s production of dopamine. The structures of some drugs bear a resemblance to other chemical messengers, according to the University of Michigan’s medical center, Michigan Medicine, allowing the drug to bind to brain cells and produce dopamine. This is why drugs produce euphoric feelings, the intensity of that euphoria increasing with the amount of dopamine released. Continued use of a substance causes the brain to produce less and less dopamine naturally, making the person physically reliant on the drug.

Scientists and addiction specialists do recognize that the initial act of using a substance is, in most cases, a choice. Sure, a teenager who picks up a vape for their first-ever hit or a college student who indulges in some light-hearted illegal drinking does make the choice to try the substance. But the choice ends the moment the act is done for a person genetically predisposed to addiction.

In family studies, the American Psychological Association found that at least half of a person’s risk of becoming addicted to drugs depends on their genetic makeup.

It is dangerously easy, trust me, to categorize addicts as people who are not trying hard enough, who do not have the resilience nor the love in their hearts to just put down the bottle, the pipe, the syringe. Though it may seem counterintuitive, for anyone who has known or loved an addict,

thinking they simply “do not want to get better” is less scary than thinking “they have a physical disease that makes it very difficult to get better.” Through the former lens, relapse is a weakness of will, and continued use is selfish, undisciplined and immature. Acknowledging the genetic predisposition and seriousness of the disease forces one to confront the very real possibility that things may never get better, and may likely get worse.

Compare the disease of substance abuse to heart disease. Yes, someone with heart disease can one day decide, ‘I’m going to eat better and exercise more’ and their condition will improve. But, they will still always have that systemic weakness. Addiction is much the same. An addict absolutely can wake up one day and decide they are “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” as civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer once said, and stop using. However, as with other diseases, the physical components remain.

In 1956 the American Medical Association designated addiction to alcohol and other drugs a disease. Some say a medical diagnosis of addiction removes the incentive to get sober because it offers a clear excuse for continuing to use. However, for an addict, and anyone in that user’s circle, knowing addictive behavior is part of a syndrome that has been tracked across a wide spectrum of people and cultures removes the stigma of addiction and the judgment that comes with it, even from those closest to the user.

This is significant because the

National Institutes of Health says “family involvement in treatment can … improve treatment entry, treatment completion and treatment outcomes for the individual coping with addiction.”

Viewing a substance use disorder as a disease helps users see themselves as people suffering from a disease that does not define them, rather than people who time and again, seemingly against their will, “choose” to suffer.

Two months ago we did publish a tried and true fact: that nobody, nobody deliberately chooses to struggle. A college student who leans on methamphetamines to get through the week does not choose this reliance. A single mother who needs a drink to keep from collapsing in on herself does not choose to sacrifice Saturday mornings with her kids.

It is dangerous to overgeneralize, from a limited perspective, the repercussions of calling addiction a choice. It places the blame for an uncontrollable genetic makeup, socially-imposed substance-use norms and a decrepit addiction aid system in our country on the tired shoulders of an addict. This shame, the side-eyes, the “tough love,” does nothing but isolate the user. The mental health implications of this speak for themselves. One in four addicts commits suicide, accounting for over half of all suicides in the U.S.

It cannot be expressed enough that treating substance use as a disease, not a choice, is so important. It is not hyperbole to say that this distinction, the simple difference between two words, can be a matter of life or death.

opinion march 29, 2023 A8 the falconer

After many grueling months of negotiations between the San Dieguito Union High School District and the California School Employees Association, the district’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a 4% raise to classified staff wages at a board meeting on March 15. In effect, this would raise the minimum wage of classified staff in the district from the $15.50 state threshold, one that classified employees only received back in January, to $16. However, this $16 minimum wage is still misaligned with the City of San Diego’s minimum wage of $16.30 — though SDUHSD is technically not required to abide by it since schools are out of city jurisdiction.

Though the district is meeting its legal requirements, the fact that negotiations regarding minimum wage are even on the table is absurd. Why is an affluent district such as ours behind the curve rather than ahead of it? Why can other school districts in San Diego County afford to pay their classified workers more than us?

Giving our classified staff the bare minimum says that the

Classified staff are the backbone of SDUHSD. They deserve much more.

work that they do is minimal, which is something utterly untrue.

Classified staff are the backbone of our schools: they are our custodians, bus drivers, nutritional service workers, campus supervisors and secretaries. Just because they may not be licensed educators or administrators, does not mean that they can be treated without dignity. According to Diegueno Middle School school plant supervisor and CSEA negotiator Carlos Magana, SDUHSD teachers are some of the highest paid in the county, while classified staff are not. The district should be providing equitable levels of pay for teachers and classified staff, not disregarding classified employees’ plight.

Over the district board meetings that have followed, many classified employees have spoken out about their wages, labeling them as disproportionate to the increasing cost of living in San Diego County. Though the district is not completely turning a blind-eye to this problem, a

1.67% raise along with the newer

4% addition is nowhere near

enough to keep up with the rising expenses in San Diego County. The wages classified employees receive in SDUHSD are plainly unlivable – Magana explained that some staff members have even qualified for low-income housing.

Many classified staff have connected these low wages with the fact that SDUHSD has seen immense resignations of classified staff in the past year and a half: 47 in the 2022-23 school year so far, according to SDUHSD Director of Classified Personnel Susan Gray.

These kinds of immense numbers will continue if the district does not step up and raise the wages of our classified staff. Otherwise, what is the incentive for anyone to work here?

Classified staff that are on the lower end of the pay scale could go work at a fast-food restaurant and make around the same money for a job that requires much less effort. Additionally, then they would not have to commute from miles away – as an incredibly slim minority of classified employees at SDUHSD can actually afford to live in the district they serve.

The irony is not lost upon The Falconer. Why can one of our classified staff members go work at Shake Shack and make more than a TPHS custodian who keeps our schools running smoothly?

Frankly, high schoolers can be an exhausting handful. Classified staff are not paid nearly as much as they should be for dealing with our constant destruction of school property. And yet, our classified staff continue to work hard to create a clean environment for us students — even when having to cover greater ground because of staffing shortages.

If this problem is impacting both SDUHSD staff and the students who frequent its schools, why is the district not doing more to make amends?


Our TPHS Campus Supervisor shares his thoughts on the treatment of the district’s classified staff.

increase in wage is not significant enough to afford the cost of living, and what we are getting is so far behind what we need.”

“Ask yourselves this: if someone can work at McDonald’s and coast through their job and then only for a couple of bucks more work here and have all of these responsibilities, where is the incentive?”

Our classified staff are absolutely entitled to better wages. The Falconer stands with the classified employees of TPHS and SDUHSD in their fight for equity.



Assistant Editors-in-Chief

We, the Falconer staff, are dedicated to creating a monthly newspaper with the intent of encouraging independent thinking, expanding our knowledge of journalism, and providing the TPHS student body and community with a truthful, unbiased news source, in accordance with our First Amendment rights.

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The Falconer is the student newspaper of Torrey Pines High School. Its content, which is the responsibility of the Falconer staff, is not subject to administrative approval. Unsigned editorials represent the opinions of the staff, while opinion columns represent the writer’s perspective. Advertisements do not represent endorsements. The Falconer, an open forum, welcomes signed letters or guest editorials on pertinent issues from the TPHS community, which may be submitted to room 102, via email at falconer.ads@gmail.com or to Mia Smith’s mailbox in the administration building. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

Dixie Wallerius

Jacob Zhang

Helene Gao

Jerry Wu

Natalia Mochernak

Anna Opalsky

Rami Kabakibi

Caroline Hunt

Kathryn Reese

Adriana Hazlett

Michele Kim

Cole Frost

Regan Guirguis

David Zhang

Maddy Miller

Martin Lee

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Macy Swortwood

Sophia Gorba

Makaylah Gerling

Joy Ma

Elsa Goodman

Liv Weaver

Lexi Lamb

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Ellie Koff

Eric Lee


Mia Boardman Smith

opinion tphsfalconer.com the falconer A9
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the faces of

Ciao, Privet, Hola! Ni hao, Bonjour! Guten Tag, Shalom! Anyoung haseyo!

An myriad of greetings in different tongues rings through the halls. A sort of United Nations, a vibrant melting pot of cultures and dialects is alive and thriving in the English Language Development classes at TPHS.

Simply, ELD is a transitional program designed for students new to the United States to adjust to speaking English before being thrown into mainstream classes in the chaotic American high school experience. TPHS boasts the largest English language learner population in the district with more than 150 students from all corners of the globe.

“If you were to visit other high schools here in San Diego, the majority of ELD students would be speaking Spanish or out in East County it’s probably Farsi,” Staci Ortiz-Davis, an ELD 3 teacher, said. “But in my class alone I have German, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian; it’s just so diverse and to see these cultures come together to bond and to share their native heritage is so beautiful.”

According to Ortiz-Davis, an ELD class is similar to a mainstream English class, except with a greater emphasis on grammar, communication and academic vocabulary.

More than teaching new words and the weird tidbits of English grammar, Ortiz-Davis along with the other ELD teachers strive to create a home away from home for foreign students.

“At Thanksgiving we have this big potluck where everybody brings the food of their country,” said Joanne Serrano, ELD 1 and 2 teacher and past ELD lead of 18 years. “We tell them to get out of their comfort zone and try food from … somewhere where [they’ve] never had food from before.”

These projects allow ELD students to exhibit pride in their home countries’ ways of life and appreciate those of others. They are also a source of comfort, especially when centered around food.

“I miss the food in China,” Jasmine Liu (10), who moved here from Shanghai back in September, said. Though she admits that San Diego’s Chinese food scene is somewhat lackluster, she recommends Taste of Hunan for some real, authentic eats.

a class with 40 kids who are all Americans who have lived here their whole lives, it is harder to make friends because they all know each other already,” said Evya Kukui (10) who moved to the U.S. from Northern Israel a year and a half ago.

Though the ELD program does not include a magic fix to cure these maladies, it does arm its students with the tools needed to succeed in the U.S.

“I hope I teach my students to believe in themselves and that being bilingual is truly such a gift that will get them so far in life,” Serrano said. “I think they have social skills that a lot of our other students don’t have that will be so valuable to future employers or at any university to show that they are so adaptable.”

In addition to progressing through the four levels of ELD and prospering in regular TPHS classes, many of the program’s students have gone on to attend prestigious four-year universities in the U.S. Seeing this immense progression of their students is a favorite aspect of the program for the ELD teachers.

Dylan Park (10) from Suwon, South Korea and Isadora Oliveira (10) from Sao Paulo, Brazil relate to missing the tastes of home.

While Park longs for the distinct crispiness of Korean fried chicken that Americans cannot seem to replicate, Oliveira dreams of Pao de queijo, a kind of Brazilian cheese bread.

Longing for their favorite foods from home is just one aspect of the deep feeling of homesickness all ELD students share.

“These kids have left behind their friends and family and … now they’re coming here, often not by choice, and having to start all over again,” Serrano said.

As if surviving high school were not hard enough, ELD students have the added challenge of constantly having to translate everything around them, which is both exhausting and uncomfortable, according to Ernest Shiroyan (10) who moved from Yerevan in Armenia at the end of the 2022 school year.

This struggle is something that bleeds into every aspect of ELD students’ lives in America.

“If you are less social and you are in

“I saw where they started and now here we are months later and I have witnessed tremendous growth,” Ortiz-Davis said. “They are writing beautiful essays, they speak to one another in English, they laugh, they’ve connected and they feel very confident when they get up in class and they speak.”

Some TPHS students may are wary of interacting with ELD students; afraid of being misunderstood. After all, Serrano says her students are often shocked at the strange antics of Americans, like not using umbrellas even when it is pouring rain. But ELD teachers share a collective hope that TPHS students born here will realize the sheer strength and indomitable human spirit necessary to immigrate to a new country.

“Look to help them practice English and don’t think like, ‘Oh, I can’t talk to them because they may not understand me.’ Just try and maybe you can learn something about their culture and language too,” Serrano said. “They’re very open and they want to meet you and become integrated in American culture.”

Kindness, empathy and openness are universal. A smile has the power to make someone’s day, no matter what country they come from and what language they speak.

In the second of a pair of stories on the English Language Development program, the Falconer takes a closer look at the experiences of non-native English learners at TPHS.
[In] my class alone I have German, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian; it’s just so diverse and to see these cultures come together to bond and to share their native heritage is so beautiful.”

Between 1999 and 2005, Lance Armstrong won seven straight Tour De France titles, breaking the record for both consecutive and total wins in the competition’s history. His laundry-list of accomplishments and accolades in both domestic and international races solidified him as the most dominant cyclist in the sport’s history. Armstrong was the perfect athlete. And then, in the blink of an eye, he wasn’t.

In 2012, he was stripped of his seven Tour De France trophies and permanently banned from competing in Olympic sports. Armstrong broke the most sacred rule in modern sports: he competed while using performance enhancing drugs. Although he was regarded as one of the best in the sport prior to his steroid use, his race performances were far from historic. While many credited his dopinginduced success to hard work and sheer force of will, Armstrong succeeded at such a high level for one reason: steroids.

Today, as our changing world breaks new temperature and sea-level records each year, environmental experts are faced with a similar situation. While many may argue that the adverse effects of climate change are merely a “natural process,” which cannot be linked to human impact, the statistics say otherwise.

“Fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions are like steroids for our climate,” Dr. Alexander Gershunov, a research meteorologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said. “You clearly see the impacts of these steroids in the statistics of weather extremes.”

From unstable food harvests to collapsing cliff-sides, climate change poses a threat to nearly every facet of life in San Diego. It is in the air you breathe, the trails you hike and the plants you grow — it is uncaring, universal and only

getting worse.

“No place is immune to the effects of climate change,” Gershunov said. “Because climate change is everywhere.”

Above all else, San Diego is a coastal community. The Pacific plays an integral role in nearly every aspect of life in our community. But while the glossy and sparkling surface of our local beaches may exude an aura of serenity, the reality is that they are changing at a rapid pace. And climate change is to blame.

As global temperatures rise due to humaninduced climate change, glaciers and ice sheets melt, and seawater becomes less dense and expands. Both of these mechanisms increase the volume of water in our oceans, raising sea levels at an unprecedented rate. The impacts of this process are reshaping the topography of beaches across the globe, and San Diego is no exception.

“When waves and water levels rise on the beach, the sand is often the first thing to be driven off the shore, and the heavier cobbles remain,” Mark Merrifield, a professor of oceanography at Scripps, said, referring to the large rocks found on Southern California beaches. “There’s a future where our beaches may look more like the beaches of England, where there’s just these cobble shores.”

But shrinking sand beaches and the presence of rocks in their place is not the most concerning aspect of sea level rise in San Diego. The real problems begin where the ocean meets the bluff.

As rising tides begin to undercut the many miles of steep, rocky slopes that tower over our local beaches, the accumulated moisture and loss of sediment causes them to lose their footing, so to speak. Their foundation weakens, and their structural support becomes more unstable, increasing the likelihood of sudden collapses.

In recent years, bluff collapses along the San Diego shoreline have caused disruptions in railway services on the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor, which transports $1 billion in goods and carries close to 8 million passengers annually. Miles of this integral railway are located along the Del Mar bluffs.

“Every time there is a bluff collapse or the stability of the bluff is unstable, the train service is stopped,” Sharon Humphreys, Director of Engineering and Construction at the San Diego Association of Governments, said. “When the rail line is closed, goods that would be moved by rail are

feature march 29, 2023 A12the falconer

diverted onto trucks. Fewer people may visit the region, and this negatively impacts the San Diego region’s economy.”

But there are more personal sides to climate change’s impacts on our oceans and bluffs. For many San Diegans, the beaches are a part of their soul, and any damage to them hits home.

“Recently, the bluff erosion has been super bad, and they are collapsing constantly,” Kaede Ward, captain of the TPHS Surf Team, said. “About three months ago at Black’s Beach there was a huge bluff collapse, and just the sheer force of the damage I think was eye-opening for a lot of people. This isn’t just an issue for the homeowners on bluffs but us also.”

Many regional parks and reserves in San Diego also border the shore. They serve as vital refuges for San Diegans, a place where nature-lovers and beachgoers alike go to relish in the beauty of our region’s natural environments.

“[Our parks] have become this asylum where people go to; we use the term recreation, but when you think of what that word means it’s to ‘recreate’ yourself,” said Ed Vodrazka, a former California Department of Parks and Recreation lifeguard peace officer. “When you get away from your nine-to-five job or your school schedule or whatever your responsibilities are for the day, you go to the parks and you relax and you recreate.”

But these pockets of local beauty have already seen the slow, but continuous, encroachment of the sea, signaling more change to come.

place. “Most of it has fallen upon deaf ears,” Davis said.

Still, he will continue to advocate for increased safety measures.

“I dread the possibility that [what I experienced] could happen to somebody else’s family,” he said.

The adverse threats of climate change do not stop at our shores. From unpredictable meteorological patterns to rising temperatures, climate change’s influence casts a shadow on the entirety of San Diego. Still, some locals remain adamant that, unlike the extreme weather shifts that have plagued Northern California, temperate weather and near-constant sunshine will continue to define our community.

“The flooding that farmers are dealing with in Northern California will never happen here,” Jacqui White, a grower with Farmer Steve Inc, said. “I’m not concerned about our farms.”

But environmental experts disagree.

“The main impacts [of climate change on San Diego] come from extreme weather events.” Gershunov said. “That’s the most intimately related to global warming, and our region is no exception.”

When most San Diegans think of extreme weather, drought and high temperatures spring to mind. While climate change will continue to bring intense heat waves and droughts across Southern California, their frequency, length and humidity will increase exponentially.

“Most of our parks are the last bit of public land between a major transportation corridor and the ocean,” said Darren Smith, Senior Environmental Scientist at the California State Parks San Diego Coast District, which manages 13 regional parks stretching from Carlsbad State Beach to Border Field State Park at the southern border of the U.S. “We really don’t have much room to grow once the ocean erodes and eats away at our parks. We’re going to have to start maintaining parks further inland, or we’re just going to disappear.”

Bluff erosion and collapse has tangible effects on everyday San Diegans. And sometimes, those effects can be tragic.

On Aug. 2, 2019, three members of Dr. Pat Davis’ family were killed in a bluff collapse at Grandview Beach in Encinitas.

“These bluffs are very unpredictable about when and if they could collapse,” Davis said. “My kids had been to that beach a thousand times before. Nobody can predict when those kinds of things can happen.”

Since the collapse, Davis has worked with city officials, spoken before the California State Assembly and lobbied politicians in Washington D.C. in hopes of reforming the bluff-safety policies currently in

“These heat waves are becoming warmer throughout the day,” Gershunov said. “But it’s especially nighttime temperatures that just don’t [decrease] nearly as much as they used to.”

These changing heat waves will have an acute impact on those with pre-existing health conditions, economically disadvantaged communities who cannot afford air conditioning, elderly people living alone, the homeless population and other at-risk individuals.

“It’s a double whammy for health impacts,” Gershunov said. “We don’t get that respite from the heat, and the health of people who are more susceptible to heat starts failing during these humid heat waves much more quickly than during the typical dry heat that we [usually] get.”

But contrary to popular belief, atmospheric fluctuations due to climate change will not lead to a complete absence of rain, or permanent drought. Instead, experts anticipate a decrease in the number of storms, but a drastic increase in their severity.

“When it rains, it pours,” said Dr. Deanna Nash, a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the University of California San Diego. “The amount of rainfall we’re getting from year to year is shifting drastically.”

The past few months of extreme rainfall in San Diego have been a prime example of this. According to the National Weather Service, January 2023 was the San Diego’s wettest month since February 2005.

These extreme storms are often referred to as atmospheric rivers, streams of water vapor that

transport moisture across thousands of kilometers of ocean before they make landfall, causing rainfall.

“Atmospheric rivers become moister; they carry more humidity and produce more rainfall in a warmer climate,” Gershunov said.

San Diego citizens are already feeling the effects of this change.

“There’s been constant flooding across much of Fashion Valley. There were even landslides across [the county] in December and January,” said Nash. “The topography of San Diego is very variable. So there’s lots of hills, valleys and lots of opportunities for landslip failure.”

But by the end of the century, this level of flooding will not only occur as a result of storm surges. Sea level rise will make these floods a norm for beachgoers in San Diego.

“Most days will experience some sort of nuisance flooding along the coast,” Merrifield said. “You just need high tide and you’ll start to get inundation.”

Still, some local activists believe this is a future we can prevent.

“It can be a little bit disheartening to realize that one person alone isn’t going to solve the climate crisis,” Sydney Chan, a climate activist at Canyon Crest Academy said. “But I also think that if everyone is [taking small steps], it will create an impact.”

But these actions could lead to more than just a healthier planet. For Gershunov, environmental action isn’t just a duty to our planet, but to ourselves.

“It makes us healthier and happier to do things that help bring about a bright future,” Gershunov said. “It’s never too late to do that. There are things that everyone can do.”

feature tphsfalconer.com the falconer A13
Fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions are like steroids for our climate. You clearly see the impacts of these steroids in the statistics of weather extremes.
These bluffs are very unpredictable about when and if they could collapse ... Nobody can predict when those kinds of things can happen.

As AP testing season approaches, the Falconer spoke with Steve Heimler for a Q&A about his YouTube channel Heimler’s History, where he posts review videos for a variety of AP history classes. With 458,000 subscribers, Heimler enjoys celebrity status among many students.


What is a fun fact about you?

I secretly wish I was an English teacher. I’ve always loved poetry or literature, but I never taught it. I know what high school students in general think of poetry, and it’s just so magnificent, and I want to be able to help them see the beauty in it.

What inspired you to start your channel?

It was more of a practical necessity. I was only with my students three days a week instead of five, and … I thought ‘Well, maybe I can do all the content with a video and then do all the skills in the class.’ So I started making videos for my students and the hard drive for my computer was so small that I needed someplace to stick them, so I started uploading them to YouTube…What surprised me is that a few months later, people started finding them…It blew my mind.

How have you seen the landscape of education change with the introduction of online tools like your channel?

When we’re speaking of technology, there’s this guy that I love to read, Marshall McLuhan. He talks about how technology is just an extension of the human being, so with every introduction of a new technology, you have an extension, but you also have an amputation … I think it’s the same thing with the landscape of education. All these new technologies have been introduced at a rapid pace, and there are lots of extensions to be praised, but there’s also amputations … For a student who wants to learn something, all the resources are available, and they’re all available with so little friction … [but] the nature of learning is slow … and difficult … So the amputation is that we no longer have the patience to learn deeply.

If you had the ability to change any aspect of how history curriculum is taught, what areas of the subject would you address?

I don’t like that [curriculum] is an argument among politicians who have never set foot in a classroom and don’t know what actually occurs there … It seems exceedingly dangerous to me to define the parameters of what can be learned and what cannot be learned … If any politician was listening to me, I would say, ‘You’re not giving our teachers and our students nearly enough credit for being smart, logical thinkers who can

look at the wheat and look at the chaff and discard the chaff and keep the wheat.’ You have to be able to trust the process and realize that you’re not going to prevent them from learning this stuff anyway … so you might as well let them be exposed to it and understand it. I always tried to drive home to my students that there’s no subject that’s off limits to learning and in every subject, in every topic, you have to withhold judgment first. That’s the first job of a historian. If you have a judgment later, that’s fine, but first, you have to listen to them.

Why is learning history important?

Back when education, especially Western education, began to be democratized from the elite groups, education was mainly religious. In Europe, people learned to read the Bible; they mainly had a theological education. Just by virtue of being educated, you would be exposed to and invited to the main virtues of life: love, compassion, understanding, humility. But now, over the course of the increasing secularization of education … unless you were religious or unless your parents brought you up this way, you don’t have access to those virtues. But, if you give yourself to the discipline [of history], it produces those virtues in you. To study history you realize, ‘I’m just this one little guy in the grand scheme of things’ … and that confers humility on me.

How do you specifically approach teaching history?

My students always roll their eyes because the first day of class I introduce them to what I call the Epistemological Dorito. Epistemology … tries to figure out how humans know what they know. The way I put it is there are three perspectives on knowledge. One is the normative: the facts of a thing.

The other is the situational: I know the facts of this thing, how is that going to change the way I behave in this world?

The third perspective on knowledge is the existential, which is your affections. If you’re studying southern slavery in the Antebellum South, that ought to affect you. What I tell [my students] is that I am doing my best to give you the normative, and I’m going to tell you how maybe this will change your behavior, but what I’m aiming at in everything is those affections. I want the existential; I want you to leave here changed as a human being.

What does your channel mean to you?

It is incredible to me that the work that I do means something in the lives of other people. Even though I can’t respond to most comments, because then I wouldn’t do anything else, I read most of them. Probably in no other profession will you ever get as much praise for your work as I do in mine, which is a gift and I receive it that way. The thing that makes me the happiest is when somebody says … ‘I struggled so much to understand this … and the stress has been overwhelming and then I found your channel, and now I understand it.’ There’s this Emily Dickinson poem where she says, ‘If I can keep one heart from breaking, I will not have lived in vain.’

If I can keep one student from drowning, or if I can take one student and look them in the face through a screen and say, ‘You think you can’t do this, but you can’ and then they do it … then I feel like my life will not have been in vain.

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During her time at TPHS, Abigail Schmidt (11) has been a vocal proponent of mental health. But after an mental health crisis in October of 2021, Schmidt quickly resumed school despite receiving little support academically.

Only later did Schmidt learn of a formal, school-developed plan that prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities as part of Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as a 504.

“People don’t understand that mental health problems like depression and anxiety as well as common learning disabilities, like dyslexia, also qualify for a 504,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt has had a 504 plan since March of her sophomore year.

“I probably should have had one sooner than I did because … I had a crisis in October [and] I just didn’t know what to do.”

The 504 plans are legally binding documents that lay out specific academic accommodations for qualifying students. Stemming from the 1970s when soldiers came back from the Vietnam War, 504 plans were initially structured to aid soldiers with disabilities who wanted to attend college, such as those who had lost an arm in the war. The need for accommodations to overcome learning impairments gave birth to the 504. In the 50-some years following, 504 plans have morphed to account for learning disabilities and mental health disorders.

Luckily Schmidt was able to obtain such a plan with the help of her therapist, teachers and counselor, though, in her case, the accommodations came later than they should have.

“We do have students that don’t have [sufficient] advocacy,” Assistant Principal Robert Shockney, the 504 coordinator at TPHS said. “Those students are the ones we go find [to help].”

Currently, according to Shockney, about 200 students on the TPHS campus have a 504 plan in place, though the number fluctuates.

“It’s an opportunity for our students to have [equal] access to the school,” Shockney said. “[To have] the same opportunity to get a high school diploma, to get themselves ready for college, a job or career, whatever it might be.”

section 504

Whether beginning with concern from a teacher, parent, counselor or the student, there are three usual tiers of intervention. Tier one involves a Student Support Team meeting in which parents, counselors, administrators and students come together to discuss the student’s needs. Tier two involves the administration and processing of a 504 contract, and tier three involves the administration of an Individualized Education Program — specialized educational programs that cater to more specific student learning issues.

“The biggest difference is that 504 plans are really accommodation plans, whereas for IEPs, students require special education services on top of the accommodations,” Tiffany Hazelwood, the SDUHSD Director of School and Student Services said.

Accommodations on 504 plans are varied, from allowing a brisk 5-minute walk around campus with a side of nerve-calming oxygen, a life and sleeppreserving extra day on homework assignments or free reign of the school’s nurse’s office.

For Ani Kradjian (12), her 504 prescribes extra time on tests.

“I get distracted very easily. If I’m confident that something’s the right answer, I have to repeat it in my head and then repeat the number or letter,” Kradjian said. “Like, if the answer is B, then I go, okay, I’m on question 22? The answer is B, the answer is B, the answer is B. I’m so nervous about writing down something different than what I know is right, so the extra time gives me time to work through that process.”

A 504 plan also provides other resources beyond extra time. It is created according to an individual’s needs, according to Shockney.

“The need of that individual might be a teacher that can give them some support with study skills; that might be our [Advancement Via Individual Determination] program. They might need support with organization; that might be [our] Academic Survival courses,” Shockney said. “So there’s different accommodations we

can [give] based on the needs of each individual.”

An anonymous student source obtained a 504 for the primary purpose of accessing extra time accommodations on standardized testing.

“[My family knew] a psychologist at the University of California San Diego, so I took a test that tested for every mental and learning disability,” the student said. “It’s a seven-hour test and costs around $3,500. And he diagnosed me with mathematical dyslexia, and that’s what earned me my 504 plan.”

Though their initial motive was receiving more time on tests, the student found the 504 assisted them even for their relatively “mild” disability.

“I think if you have a limitation of acquiring knowledge, then you should be able to get extra time,” the student said.

As students receive assistance from their 504s, they have found themselves using them less and less as the plans help them adapt to their situations.

“I used to use [my 504] on every single ten-question quiz, but there have been several instances this year where I’ve maybe used five minutes of the time just to check over my answers,” Kradjian said. Mental well-being fluctuates, and students have found the 504 alleviates the strain on their mental health, allowing them to gradually phase out accomodations.

“I don’t use [the 504] as much as I did last year just because I’ve figured out how to maintain a balance without it,” Schmidt said.

Kradjian wants others to know that a 504 is a tool, not what defines her.

“My result is not me having a 504. My result is I did my best because I was allowed extra accommodations for my situation,” Kradjian said. “I’m still the same person. It’s not like I have 504 written on my forehead, it’s just my way of getting through school.”

feature the falconer A15 tphsfalconer.com
I’m still the same person. It’s not like I have 504 written on my forehead, it’s just my way of getting through school.
Ani Kradjian (12) STUDENT

S P I N G L O V E R ,

Over the past few gloomy months, Southern Californians’ chatter has consisted primarily of expressions of shock at the weather.

“Can you believe this rain?!”

Yet the wrath of even the deepest despiser of stormy weather is sure to quickly dissipate after seeing the absolutely divine result of this lengthy torrent. Spring has dawned upon San Diego, and with it the earth has come alive.

Every March for the last 18 years, the Japanese Friendship Garden tucked away in the heart of Balboa Park has celebrated the bewitching transformation of its alcove of 200 cherry trees. This year, the garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival fell on March 10-12, though the trees continue to bloom through April.

Visiting the garden during the festival is an animated experience. After being stamped with an endearing cartoon cat, one is herded into the action. From karate demonstrations to kimono dressings, and a bounty of good eats like fresh, steaming red-bean Taiyaki and compactly wrapped Onigiri pockets of goodness, one almost overlooks the main attraction — the cherry trees.

Though the festival is a one-of-a-kind adventure, the garden is enjoyed best on a casual weekday morning — away from the crowds. In the peace and calm of misty silence, one can truly cherish its spell-binding aura.

As you step into the grove, the thick scent of honeysuckle weighing heavy in the air lulls you into a sort of hypnotic trance. Your heart feels light, like a spritely fairy floating through the paths. Yet you also get the sense that you have never been so grounded and connected to

the earth beneath you, as if your heels have deep roots running into the damp, soft soil. Continuing down the trail, shadows of the dancing branches lilt upon the ground and little patches of sunlight softly kiss your cheek. The world around you is teeming with nature’s sweet melody — the murmurings of a small brook, buzzing of bees and twittering of birds above.

The trees themselves blush pink, as if they have just exchanged glances with their beloved. For a moment, one forgets that it is March and not the midst of a winter wonderland; the blossoms’ floating petals could be easily mistaken for delicate snowflakes wafting with the breeze and coating every bush, bench and passerby in a blanket of perfume. Even hours after you leave, stray petals in your hair and clothes serve as reminders of your precious sojourn at the garden.

Though the cherry blossoms steal the spotlight, their flower friends are just as lovely. Garlands of purple wisteria drip from the gazebo awning like hanging bracelets of amethysts. Quaint periwinkles pop out from behind vines and poised camellias dot bushes.

Visit post-drizzle and you will have the honor of seeing all of the garden’s florals and grasses bejeweled in glistening beads of water.

If you are frequenting for the festival or just for a solitary stroll, the Japanese Friendship Garden is a slice of wonder for all those smitten with spring. To visit is to live the prose of a Pablo Neruda poem.

“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

-Balboa Park Cherry Blossom Festival

Spring is finally upon us; the sun has come out from hiding, and the flowers are blooming at last.

Although San Diego has had a rainy few weeks, the weather has worked in its favor and nourished beautiful flowers that are now in sight wherever you go.

The Carlsbad Flower Fields is an attraction that has been open for over 60 years; every year, it opens March 1 and lasts until Mother’s Day. This popular place is available to anyone and everyone, for those of all ages.

As you walk through the entrance labeled “Carlsbad Flower Fields” above you, there are a few highlights before the main attraction. There are stands consisting of food and drinks, and even a stage with live music. One of the best places to make a pit stop is a literal lemonshaped lemonade stand. The lemonade provides a perfectly balanced, bittersweet iced drink to refresh you on a warm day walking through the sun covered fields.

As soon as you make it past the stands, you approach the stunning sight you came to see. You hear the the gasps from people wallking in, the laughter of children, and of course, the clicks of cameras as countless photos are being taken.

A tractor passes by, filled with people who want quicker transportation to every inch of the land, because seeing the whole place on foot would take a whole day.

As you continue through the rows, you can smell the sweet scent of honey from the flowers and watch them

-Carlsbad Flower Fields

dance in the wind as a breeze passes. Each type of flower is so precisely placed aesthetically pleasing to the eye and drawing you to the next row.

Even those who are not usually fond of flowers have found the Flower Fields to be a magical place. You can spend as much or as little time in this area and get an enlightening experience regardless.

The field is so massive that you can find peace and quiet in any separate area away from the chaos and, take in earth’s wonderful creation.

When you decide it is time to end your journey of seeing the wonders the flower fields had to offer, you continue to the exit and walk away with a core memory, hoping to relive the experience next year.

Whether you are a tourist or a local, this experience should definitely be on your bucket list item. The flower fields have thrived for decades, announcing the arrival of spring and the beautiful aspects of nature that this season produces.



the pre-show chatter of the audience. There was a sense of warmth in the theater as family and friends took their seats waiting

The SDUHSD Jazz Fest happened on March 11 at 4 p.m. The event included seven schools: Oak Crest and Diegueno Middle Schools performing together, as well as Pacific Trails Middle School, Carmel Valley Middle School, La Costa Canyon High School, Canyon Crest Academy and Torrey Pines High School. With pieces like “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Cold Duck Time” and even one original composition, the Jazz Fest was the perfect way to showcase the talent of the district’s jazzplayers.

While every school had impressive and technically sound performances that drew the audience in and kept them entertained, there were a few pieces in particular that made me feel like I was roaming the streets of New Orleans during that famous Jazz Fest.

PTMS, one of the first schools to perform, did a wonderful job with Paul Murtha’s arrangement of Richard Rogers’s “My Favorite Things.” They added a jazzy twist to a piece most famously known from the movie “The Sound of Music.” The moment the first note was played, I was transported back to my living room watching Julie Andrews sing for the first time. The saxophone and flute solos added depth to the piece and allowed for a few students to have their moments in the spotlight. Ending strong, the students took their bows as the audience replaced the sound of instruments with clapping and cheering.

There was a lull between a few of the performances as the event seemed to be a bit ahead of schedule. However, these breaks only allowed for more excitement as some last-minute friends and family were able to join the audience in support of the performers.

Another school that stuck out to me, in particular, was CCA. Only three of their jazz band members were sent to the festival, but that did not stop them from taking the audience’s breath away.

Out of the four pieces they performed, the most impressive one was the original composition “Granite Foot” by their pianist, Joey Kim-

arrangement. The brass instruments of New York City safely much any been on. Another one of CVMS’s pieces that was a highlight of the night was Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther,” arranged by Paul Murtha. The iconic start to the piece drew the audience in immediately as the familiar sounds of the drums and piano started. It was a sharp contrast from the piece before as it was a much slower pace and felt more like a movie heist than a

The last, but certainly not the least, to perform was TPHS. The final performance of the night was Eddie Harris’ “Cold Duck Time,” arranged by Alan Baylock. The piece’s unique combination of rock, funk,

“JAZZ FEST,, entertainment tphsfalconer.com the falconer A17

Saint Luna, a psychedelic alternative rock band based out of San Diego State University, has had a successful start to 2023 with three new releases, including two singles, “Rosé” and “My Friend,” and a live recording of their most popular singles. Composed of lead singer Bradyn Jace, bassist Max Katz, guitarists Wick Hauser and Charlie Black and drummer Paarsa Heidari, Saint Luna’s music has wowed fans on their regular circuit of San Diego venues — from SOMA to The Che Cafe.

“Rosé,” the band’s first release of 2023, is a continuation of Saint Luna’s classic sound: catchy backyard rock music. This indie rock song with a (paradoxically) pop alt feel perfectly encapsulates the feeling of a summer’s day; it is fast-paced with an electrifying beat, coupled with an incredible guitar solo similar to that of Surf Curse or The Backseat Lovers’ early work.

With the release of “My Friend” in February 2023, Saint Luna showed that they could do more than the “garage rock” sound. The single marked a dramatic turn for the band, borrowing key aspects of their previous work and twisting them into a song that is as emotional as it is melodious. The single’s lyrics, in particular, are what make it stand out, moving away from relationship cliches to a more somber message about coping with the loss of a parent. Even

Saint Luna Doll Riot

Made up of teenage girls, Doll Riot is filled with anger, confusion and spunk as they navigate their adolescent years; using punk rock music, they are able to express themselves eloquently.

The band consists of vocalist Elena Olszack, guitarist Ella Sauer, bassist London Kraus, and drummer Lillee Gillum. While the all take on different roles, the girls work together to find their collective, unique sound.

The band’s most recent release, titled “Those Days,” has a much faster-paced sound than their previous song. Focusing on the anger fueling the lyrics, they use the fast, adrenaline-filled beat to express the rage felt within. Once the lyrics begin, the song instantly becomes a way for the band to connect with the audience. Through describing a moment that many have gone through — “Sometimes I start crying, and I don’t know what about” — the band conveys its emotions and the shared experience through the lyrics. With a blend of their voices, Doll Riot creates a perfect harmony in the chorus, and they work together to create symmetry with the difference in pitch and timing of their voices.

the electric guitar that weaves throughout the piece sounds mournful, with long, dragging riffs.

Saint Luna’s most recent release of 2023 brings to life the band’s three most popular singles in a live recording at Jam in the Van studio. “Voodoo Doll” and “I Feel It” are both heavily percussion led, with simple yet catchy lyrics, while “Goldfish” has a slower, more sultry feeling, almost like Peach Pit or a grungier Two Door Cinema Club. With a raw sound yet more subdued energy, the band proved the authenticity of their music with this live recording. In an interview with the Daily Aztec, bassist and vocalist Katz said when they play, they always play live.

This authenticity is a defining feature of Saint Luna’s discography. The band makes everything their own — even their recording studio.

“Max, who is a big DIY guy, built a studio in the garage of the house he was renting,” guitarist Black said to Park Records. “He

soundproofed the room with 23 mattresses and anything he could find on Craigslist.”

From their DIY setup to their California-grown sound, it is clear that Saint Luna is the real deal. by Kathryn Reese

Accompanying the voices are many moments of pure instrumentals. After each stanza of lyrics, there is about a 20-second increment of a drawnout guitar riff with the slamming of the drums, showing off the girls’ incredible talent. While it is a shorter song at only two minutes and 29 seconds,

the band uses the short time frame to convey its emotions effectively.

The song “B-29,” another recently released single, opens with a slower, drawn-out beat, setting a tone of teens longing for change. As you are drawn into a song of rage and drama, you wish to discover the secrets that lie in the lyrics.

“B-29” is broken up between each lyric-filled stanza by the explosion of the guitar. Incorporating more lyrics than “Those Days,” the band uses metaphors like “nuclear explosion of my love” to describe their emotions. Breaking up the song in this way makes the lyrics hit much deeper, and the listener truly feels the impact of each word. Focusing more on the vocals in this song, Olszack is featured most, with complementing instrumentals to end the song.

Upon first listen, some might think that Doll Riot’s music is too loud or perhaps meaningless, but when you take the time to notice the metaphors that lie in the lyrics, the inner feelings of teenage girls are expressed with all the anger and sadness they feel.

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Released on March 17, Breaking and Entering’s first EP “Toast” does exactly what good music should do: make you want to listen again. Although it is only four songs long, there is not one track that does not pack a punch.

Each of the hard rock songs feature unique elements — such as echoes and voiceovers — which makes this band stand out.

The song “Patience Test” includes two interludes that show off the guitar riffs that pepper this track. Kicking off with purposeful microphone feedback that emphasizes the smooth guitar strumming that follows, the buildup before the lyrics of this song is beautifully suspenseful. This track highlights the impressive guitar playing on the parts of Jack Boss and Ryan Parkes.

“12 Bagels” starts off slow and soft, but the listener quickly realizes that this song is anything but. A loud guitar strum overtakes the track before

giving way to a great buildup by Jaden Rosenthal on drums and Davis Porath on bass.

“May is Finally Over” kicks off with a solid beat underlying the whole track and hard guitar strumming that is contrasted by the intricate plucking that follows. The track is rounded out with a fade-out at the end.

“Soccer” is by far the most relatable song on the Breaking and Entering EP; with lyrics such as “I’m scared/It’s fine/I’m finally saying goodbye,” how can one not see a part of their life reflected by this track? On the whole, though, Breaking and Entering has minimal lyrics, highlighting the skillful instrumentals that are the true focus of these tracks.

These song names are not the only appeal of “Toast”: their album cover is equally charming. Featuring a kitten stretching out toward the camera, the grayscale drawing has a childish element that is

surprising for a rock band but also intrigues and makes one want to listen more.

Breaking and Entering has played a few shows in the San Diego area, and they hope to play more in the future, according to Parkes. Their most recent show was on March 26 in Ocean Beach.

If your pulse is not pounding, beating and practically running out of your soul by the time you finish listening to Breaking and Entering, then the volume was not cranked loud enough.


Breaking and Entering Lee Wires

Hoping to provide new and diverse music, Lee Wires, a jazzy five-member San Diego band, carries a soothing vibe with beautifully-stripped, original vocals, giving fans a euphoric experience.

On the bass is Rene Guzman, keys is James Ondevilla, soprano sax is Ryan Ebaugh, the drums is Edgar Alejandre, and the core member of the band is Luis Mireles, guitarist and vocalist.

According to Mireles, the band aimed for a style of songwriting that targeted genres like bossa nova, city pop and library music from the 1960s.

A recently-released demo that will be making an appearance on their upcoming album is “If Only I Knew.” With a more energetic tone than their prior works, it incorporates a dream pop and indie pop sound. The lively beat infused with Mireles’ soft and timid voice blends perfectly to create a vibrant sound. Their ability to produce a unique track filled with a variety of sounds almost brings their work into the likes of Slowdive, an older band that was popular around the late 1990s.

Performing at the Live at the Egg Records Showcase in December of last year, they played some of their top hits, like “Loveseat,” “Lady of

Mine,” “Evil Eye” and “Could’ve Been.”

Following their performance, they released a live album. The album is the epitome of a calm summer day with the windows rolled down. The soft, jazzy tone makes you want to sit back and relax. The fast-paced ghost notes of the drums, along with the catchy guitar, carries the melody. Songs like “Wait For You” and “Lady of Mine” emulate swing music.

Lee Wires’ most popular piece is called “Loveseat.” It is no wonder that calming acoustics flowing with the slow and simple beat easily generated a hit for the band.

Lee Wires was formed through a crew of five members motivated to follow their passion of creating music. The band’s close connection is apparent through the blending and balance of different sounds.

In December 2022, they opened for Thee Sacred Souls at a sold-out show at The Observatory North Park, which, according to Mireles, was definitely the most notable venue they have performed at.

Later this year, Egg Records is hosting a showcase at Soda Bar, where Lee Wires is

scheduled to perform.

Overall, the soothing and mellow jazz encapsulates the sound of an original, young band that is sure to captivate audiences with their unique style and improvisational flair.

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Leveling the Playing Field

as the athletes would have to “dedicate a whole practice day every season to put up the temporary fence and then take it down at the end of the season,” according to Nishnick.

Even more, when visitors come to watch games, Klekotka has had to warn them of dangerous places where they may get hit by foul balls because of the lack of fencing and netting.

“The girls are pitching at 65 miles per hour, so if you’re not paying attention, you can get killed,” Klekotka said. “I would say we get 15 to 20 foul balls hit out every single game … and we’ve had some very close calls.”

With new equipment and facilities being improved, including a more level outfield and fencing, there is increasing hope that the softball field will be as well-regarded as the baseball field.

Despite all the deficits in facilities softball players have had to face in the past, both Fagin and Nishnick look forward to a brighter future.

Fagin, who has been on the team since her freshman year, is elated that the changes will positively impact her team.

From unlikely upsets to lastsecond buzzer-beaters, the past two weeks of March Madness have shattered the hearts and brackets of fans across the globe. As the first men’s Final Four in March Madness history not to include a top-three seeded team, it is impossible to predict what the next week of games might bring. But that does not mean we won’t try.

With that in mind, here are our picks for the Final Four and Championship games:

Starting off with the first Final Four matchup between San Diego State University and Florida Atlantic University, we anticipate a low-scoring, defense-heavy game between these two teams.

Years of neglect of TPHS softball facilities are finally being addressed after team parent liaison, Kim Klekotka, filed a Title IX claim on July 6, 2020, ensuring upgraded equipment and facilities will be available by the end of the 2024 school year.

Klekotka filed the Title IX claim, which “prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or educational program,” hoping it would address inequities between the baseball and softball programs’ facilities. Instead of merely using paperwork to chronicle the battered fields, fences and absent safety precautions, Klekotka had a different idea.

“Instead of filing a normal Title IX, I went to all the schools in the North County and took pictures. It’s much harder to look at something and say it’s equal when it’s side by side,” Klekotka said.

According to varsity softball coach Jon Moore, within the last 10 years, 10 schools in Southern California have received new facilities: Canyon Crest Academy, Carlsbad High School, Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista High School, El Camino High School, Poway High School, Del Norte High School, Mission Hills High School, San Marcos High School and Ramona High School.

After decades of witnessing firsthand the disparities between softball and baseball, Moore appreciates the administration’s effort to make a change.

“I have heard promises for new facilities from the last five principals but received little contribution, so knowing Mr. Coppo is being supportive of the softball program and our needs is very nice,” Moore said.

With help from administration, along with the Title IX and Equity Coordinator Laura Strachan, players in the 2025 season should expect to play on a new Astroturf outfield on a permanently fenced field.

“The field next to the weight room was upgraded about five or six years ago, but it was unlevel and effectively unusable, so I’ve been fighting for years to get that turfed,” Coppo said.

As action on the claim finally started last year with new softball bullpens, players like Ava Fagin (11) and Hadley Nishnick (11) are optimistic about the future of the softball program.

“The softball team is not very wellrespected, and we’re kind of thrown to the side compared to other sports. It does feel really good to be able to move in the right direction,” Fagin said.

Looking back, Nishnick recalled a time when playing on the softball fields was not only unsafe with its overgrown grass and holes, but tiring,

“Girls deserve to be treated 100% the same, to be looked at the same, like they can be successful,” Fagin said. “Title IX is all about gender equality and what this means for empowering women. It’s about being able to say that just because you’re a guy doesn’t mean anything; if I can beat you in a race, I will beat you in a race.”

Although she is no longer affiliated with the process, Klekotka still has a message she hopes will resound in the ears of those fighting for equality in every way.

“At the end of the day, when the girls are walking on the field, I want them to feel like they’re just as important as boys, men and everyone else in between,” she said. “That is how every woman should be allowed to feel… I’m hopeful that the changes being made with the claim will ensure that in the future.”

As the ninth seed, FAU was far from a tournament favorite heading into its second-ever March Madness appearance. Regardless, they have proven to have some of the best chemistry of any organization still in contention, upsetting various topseeded schools throughout their run. On the other hand, the fifth-seeded Aztecs were considered by many to be one of the potential “sleeping giants” of this year’s tournament, despite their average seeding. As a hard-nosed defensive team, they have allowed just 57.3 points-pergame throughout their past four tournament games. With that, we see SDSU cutting FAU’s Cinderellastory short, eliminating them from the tournament.

Next, the University of Miami takes on the University of Connecticut in what we expect to be a nail-biter of a matchup.

Miami has repeatedly showcased its talent on both ends of the court, and has proven itself to be a worthy opponent for any top-seeded team. Despite not being ranked in the top three, the fourth-seeded UConn Huskies have been a consistently excellent team over the past two decades, a streak they have continued this tournament. With that said, we anticipate the Huskies taking down the Hurricanes in a high-scoring game.

Finally, in this year’s NCAA March Madness Championship game, we predict a physical, gritty matchup between UConn and SDSU

The Huskies will have plenty to prove, hoping to solidify themselves once more atop the world of men’s basketball. On the other hand, the Aztecs will look to finally prove themselves a true basketball powerhouse.

With their tenacious defense, elite ball movement and high-level shooting, we see the Aztecs taking down the Huskies, bringing home the first NCAA Championship in the program’s history.

PUMPING UP THE CROWD: TPHS softball huddles before their March 28th game against Carlsbad High School. The team hopes to make a deep playoff run this season. TPHS softball facilities are in need of an upgrade. They hope their Title IX claim will come to fruition next year. PHOTO BY COLE FROST/FALCONER Liv Weaver STAFF WRITER PHOTO BY COLE FROST/FALCONER


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TPHS sports dominate at the local and state levels

Thus far in the 2022-2023 school year, dedication and perseverance has allowed varsity teams like girls water polo, girls basketball and boys rugby to perform at the top of their games, with numerous titles to prove their success.

Varsity girls water polo season began Nov. 7 and ended Feb. 25. They won the CIF and state championships. The team competed against Bonita Vista High School in the CIF finals and won 8-5, as well as competed in state finals against Mt. Carmel High School and winning 8-5.

“You can tell the team loved being around each other and they were playing to win for one another,” second year coach Brandon Carman said.

They practiced Monday to Friday for two hours each session, stretching at the start and conditioning for 30 to 40 minutes, working on their skills and drills.

“It was one of our first times making it this far in any sport and to see the coaches faces was unforgettable,” Martie Cohen (10) said.

Working hard all season, they hope to see the same success in the pool next year.

“[Our] goal for next season is to keep growing as a team and go far in CIF,”

Ryland Smith (10) said.

Moving out of the pool and onto the court, varsity girls basketball won their first CIF section championship since 1995, a significant accomplishment for the program, beating Oceanside High School 52-41.

“Every athlete understands that, to develop their skill, it takes hours of work and conditioning and all that not-so-fun stuff,” center Laura Rucks (12) said. “In that final moment when

we won, it was really rewarding and relieving.”

The athletes worked hard in their basketball PE class, pre-season practices, and throughout the season as a whole. The team found the right balance of work and fun.

“We are such a funny team. If you were to see one of our practices, you’d wonder how we get stuff done,” Rucks said, “We are always joking around and making each other laugh.”

TPHS holds many titles and varsity boys rugby has earned the school one more, making history as the first ever Southern California rugby team to win the California State Championship. The game took place at Saddleback College, where TPHS took on Saint Francis High School and won 31-14. Despite their undefeated season, tensions were high going into State competition.

“It was a game we did not think we were going to win because no SoCal team had ever done it before. The feeling of success was unbeatable,” club president Colin Brogan (12) said.

The team also won SoCal Single High School 15S, where they competed against all Southern California teams and won finals 19-14.

Team captain Jonty Lee (12) reflected on why he believes the team had a successful season.

“I think the main thing that created a successful season for us was that we all had the respect and gratitude,” Lee said. “This made each boy in the team want to be at training…so we could have a great season and create history for SoCal.”

After making history this year, those varsity teams hope to achieve the same success next season, whether they are competing in the pool, on the court or on the field.

CIF adds girls’ flag football as new sport

Friday Night Lights football games are nothing new to TPHS, or even to any traditional high school experience. While the boys football team has been widely recognized as a prominent and popular sport at TPHS, girls flag football is now being introduced to both the school, as well as the California Interscholastic Federation, or CIF.

As of Feb. 3, CIF has declared that girls flag football will become an official sport across high schools in California, hosting their season in the fall alongside boys football. The consideration of CIF sports is decided at the state level. Sports are certified through the state and divided into skill divisions.

The San Diego Section of CIF unanimously supported the addition, and anticipates an involvement of a total of 50 teams in high schools across

San Diego County.

Meetings are currently being held by the administration at TPHS, including Principal Rob Coppo, to approve the sport at the school site level, and Coppo ultimately has the authority to decide whether or not to approve the sport to be put into play at TPHS.

“I would be crazy not to run it,” Coppo said. “My role would be to rubber stamp it and say yes, we’re going to go forward. For a school like Torrey not to have girls flag football is crazy.”

The team is required to have an equal amount of funding as every other sport at TPHS through donations made to the TPHS Foundation. Coppo not only predicts a successful start to the new team, but booming popularity among the student body.

“Flag football has taken off nationwide, even for the pro bowl,” Coppo said. “Even the NFL has flag

football now as part of what they do.”

Despite running alongside other major fall sports at TPHS such as tackle football and volleyball, girls flag football is expected to gain tremendous popularity on campus.

According to Coppo, many athletes joining the team will be TPHS students that are already involved in spring sports. Mia Mosebrook (11) plays for the TPHS girls lacrosse team in the spring, but is hoping to get involved in flag football during her off-season.

“This will be my first year not having a fall sport,” Mosebrook said. “When I found out [flag football] was coming for the fall, I thought it was such a fun way to get my friends to play and to stay active and in shape for lacrosse season.”

While the excitement around a new girls’ sport evolves, there are some contrasting opinions by other female athletes. The girls rugby team is not a

school-sponsored sport, but allows for girls to play a sport parallel to football. By not being sponsored by the school, club teams like girls rugby are not officially recognized as TPHS sports.

“I think by recognizing flag football as a CIF sport, they should at least consider rugby,” Zeena Al Bachachi (12) a member of the girls’ rugby team said. “Rugby has been around longer. People have won awards and gotten scholarships.”

As for the blend of athletes from other girls sports teams who will play flag football, Al Bachachi’s predictions include the idea that the team will consist of varying skills from athletes of other teams. The majority of female athletes, as well as Coppo, believe girls flag football will be incorporated wellin to the TPHS sports culture and skyrocket in popularity come its official introduction to TPHS.

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CHAMPIONS:Girl’s basketball celebrates beating Oceanside High School to win the CIF Divsion II Section game. It was one of many championships won by TPHS this year. PHOTO FROM SCRIPPIX

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Ellie Davidson

girls lacrosse

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photo by Cole Frost

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Office of Undergraduate Admissions Decision Notification

There has been an update to the status of your application. Please click this link to direct you to your admissions decision. Notice!

View Update Here >>>


Dear Applicant #231,738,

Congratulations! On behalf of the admissions committee, I am beyond excited to be the first to congratulate you on your admission. Although you have not passed the majority of your core classes, you have the astonishing skill of throwing a ball 40 yards across a field. We are so excited to welcome you to continue your family’s legacy at our school and offer you our warmest welcome.


Dear Applicant #231,738,

Thank you for submitting your application. We are unable to offer you admission at this time, but we invite you to join our waitlist, consisting of thousands of other over-qualified applicants. We understand this was not the news you were hoping for, and we apologize for the inconvenience that other applicants were simply better than you. Therefore, we have decided to foist agony upon you for the next couple of months until you give up hope and commit to another school.


Dear Applicant #231,738,

Thank you for submitting your application. After carefully reviewing your application for 48 seconds, we do not regret to inform you that we are able, but unwilling, to offer you admission. Please understand that we will never know whether or not this was an easy decision, considering we only read the first and last sentences of the 650 word essay you spent four months on. You will do great things, just not at our school ... or anywhere near it.

*Regardless of your decision from any given school, you will end up where you’re supposed to be. It’s important to remember that they’re not judging you as a person, but simply an application. It will all work out in the end, rejection is redirection!

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