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Black Lives Matter


New York Times Contest submissions


Online learning

2020 Presidential Election



Football in Covid

LAMAR EDITORIAL LIFE BOARD Editor-in-Chief: Lauren Koong Assistant Editors: Mason Hartley Ethan Martinez Kathryn Stone


Jose Acja Kimberly Anderson Jafet Aviles Lorraine Bombarde Brooklyn Carmona Jacobe Cook Jane Culwell Ciara Farrington Skylar Ibarcena Lara Iskandar Alexander Jones Aniyah Jordan Kane Kinney Mace Klein Lindsey Knox

Kamira Leblanc Johnson Charles Luke Ariah Moland Sofia Munoz Monroy Mikal Nazarani Joy Parazette Daniela Pearl Sean Pracht Sofia Puccini Hamza Rashaad Brennan Riley Ariana Sandoval Ana Torchia George Weng Mojdeh Zare

Faculty Advisor: Kadee Harper

About the Cover:

This issue's cover was designed by Lorraine Bombarde. The idea arose while discussing the concept of virtual reality, which encapsulates our currrent environment. Our lives are currently all lived online and we wanted to portray that on our cover. Lamar Life is a student-run publication of Lamar High School, an IB World School. The purpose is to inform and stimulate constructive thinking among students, faculty and the community. From fine arts to sports, Lamar Life staff members hope to responsibly ascertain and report facts and conduct ourselves as professional journalists. Opinions expressed in Lamar Life are not necessarily those of the staff, advisor, Lamar High School administrators or advertisers. Opinions, tips and letters to the editor are welcome and can be submitted by visiting www.lamarlife.org The staff reserves the right to edit letters for clarity or liability. Names may be withheld upon request and at the editor’s discretion.

Letter from the editor


Lauren Koong, Lamar Life 020, as we all know by now, has been one wild ride, full of ups and downs. What started off as an extended spring break evolved into an ongoing quarantine that is nearing nine months. We watched our sports, celebrations and parties get cancelled. In our isolation, we were bombarded with news reports of police brutality, murder hornets, wildfires, deaths and so much more. However, it is in these trying times that we must remember to focus on the bright side. The pandemic allowed the Black Lives Matter movement to take off, gaining global traction and millions of

supporters worldwide. Carbon emissions have been at an all time low because people are remaining indoors and limiting travel. While it may be hard to see at times, there is always a silver lining if you look close enough. We encourage all of our readers to stay positive (and test negative)! The world around us is not the only thing that has undergone recent changes. After a long summer, Lamar Life is

back and better than ever, with several new media types and interactive features. Check out our Instagram and Twitter @ lamarlifeonline and our new website at www.lamarlife.org Through these variable times, Lamar Life is here for you, reporting on the facts. You can count on us to bring you up-to-date articles, along with fresh perspectives and stories. From news to features to opinion pieces, we have you covered.

Graphic by Mace Klein, Lamar Life


Black Lives Matter After the tragic death of George Floyd in May, the Black Lives Matter movement gripped the nation like never before. Millions of people flooded the streets, protesting police brutality, with an even larger outpour of support on social media and online. It was an unprecedented show of solidarity that spread all around the globe. Lamar Life felt it was important to record as a significant moment in history. However, we wanted to accurately represent the views of the students, not simply the views of the staff. Instead of writing a single opinion or editorial piece, we compiled direct quotes from many students on the effect and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement to precisely show the perspectives of the student body. We hope to do the Black Lives Matter movement justice. - The Lamar Life Editorial Board

To me, the BLM movement forces me to look at the privilege that I have as a white person and look at how unfair that privilege is and educate myself on how to use it to help others. It’s a reminder that the world still has a lot of work to do and that even though people may say that America is so great, we still have things like police brutality and racism and we need to stop that.

“The Black Lives Matter movement

means a lot to me because I am a black male and I have seen my fair share of bad encounters with the police as well. My people and I are so eager to stop it because it is a constant problem that honestly, we have no control over. We must rally and protest as a group to create change.”


The clenched fist has become a main symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The Black Lives Matter movement opened my eyes to the racial injustices that plague our nation today. No one should be treated the way George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, or Eric Gardner was. We all must continue to fight for equality, for a better future.”

I don’t outwardly express or post a lot about it, but I think it means a lot to me. To me it’s literally common sense, why is it even a debate? Equal opportunities and treatment for people because we are all people and that’s it.

In June, over 60,000 marched to Houston’s City Hall in a peaceful protest to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The BLM movement is important because it gives us a chance to speak up and protest. No one is going to do it for us, so we need to do it. After all of the things that happened during the movement, it really shows we’re not in this alone so we need to take a stand.”

“The BLM movement means everything to me because I fear for black kids like myself and black men and women. We are human beings and can be killed over something another race could’ve done without any complaints.”

I personally agree with the movement, the people and the cause, I think that there does need to be reform in policing. However, I don’t support the organization. The organization doesn’t support all black lives or lobby for a lot of other changes that would benefit black communities.



s 2020 approaches its end, the New York Times is encouraging teenagers to reflect on their experiences throughout the year in their first ever multimedia contest, Coming of Age in 2020: A Special Multimedia Contest for Teenagers in the U.S. The New York Times encourages teenagers to express themselves in this call to reflect. Between a raging pandemic, a threat for an economic collapse, a looming election, and arguably the largest protest movement in U.S.

history, the world has changed drastically. Katherine Schulten, the editor of The Learning Network, explains the aim of this contest for teenagers. “We want to hear about your experiences, in whatever way you want to tell us about them — whether in words or images, audio or video,” said Schulten. “No matter what format you choose, trust us: Even if you don’t think you have something to say, you do. There are stories only you can tell.” The possibilities are endless. Teenagers who participate have until Thursday, Nov. 12, to submit their entries to the New York Times. Students at Lamar embraced the challenge and created entries to submit as a grade for a class, or even to submit in the contest. Sophomore Ana Torchia made her project in a way that showcases her talent: art. Torchia created a collage of all the artwork she created since March of this year. The majority of the designs for her characters were inspired from her own creativity and other works of art she has seen. They aren’t your typical humans, they have animal parts too or other fantasy-like features.

“Even if you don't think you have something to say, you do.” Katherine Schulten “My art reflected how I was feeling,” said Torchia. “My art got dreamy and more fantasy-like. I don’t like staying inside as much as I have been this year, so my art got more creative to help me feel like I was somewhere else.” “This project showcased my creativity because I used a lot of diversity in my works, so it’s a good scope for what styles my art holds,” articulated Torchia. “I implemented different features and character designs, which makes this a good representation for my skill as a whole.” Another student who participated in the project was Freshman, Claire Fajkus. Fajkus expressed her stresses about school in her project through a photo edit. Fajkus believes her project is unique because no one made a photo edit that included a picture of themselves like she did, and the stresses she added that loom over her head in the edit are in many ways unique to her. “School has been really stressful because I’m starting high school without many friends since most of my friends went to Bellaire,” Fajkus said. “It’s hard making friends through an online environment. Well,

Teens in 2020: 6

school in general has been difficult for me online. Doing this project made me realize just how many things have been stressing me out; coming up with words to put into my photo edit that represent my stressors were very easy to come up with and I was surprised at how many I had to include.” It took Fajkus around thirty minutes to put her project together. She took a photo of herself looking “dizzy” in her kitchen and edited the picture through an app on her phone. Fajkus shared her thoughts on the project and her feelings during quarantine. “I liked that the project gave me creative freedom; I was comfortable with the app I used to edit my photo and I developed editing skills by using it over time,” Fajkus said. “I believe that these skills were showcased in my project, but I could have made it better. I wrote my feelings over quarantine in a journal entry just to vent. I took those feelings that I expressed in my journal and put them into my photo edit.” Another fresh take on this project comes from Freshman Tyler Whitten and Junior Skylar Ibarcena’s collaboration to produce a song. Whitten wrote the lyrics and Ibarcena shared a few tracks of music that he created this year. Thus, a musical collaboration

“I liked that the project gave me creative freedom.” Claire Fajkus

between the two was an enticing idea.The song encompasses Whitten’s experience during the quarantine, and how he feels that recently everything feels the same and everyday is almost an exact copy of the day before. Thus, the song explores how this can affect somebody mentally, emotionally, or even physically. Ibarcena, who has a musical background as a former student at HSPVA, paired up with Whitten to add a backtrack to Whitten’s lyrics and vocals, and to also improve the sound quality as a whole. Lamar Life is excited to write a follow up piece to share their finished musical collaboration. So, how about it Texans? Take your inspirations, reflections, and submit your version of the New York Times project to Lamar Life! This is a great opportunity to share your experiences and have fun with your creativity. There is no right or wrong way to do this project, so try your hardest to create what you think will best reflect who you are

as a teenager in 2020. To see more student projects and read their perspective on Coming of Age in 2020, check out this extended piece on lamarlife.org For more information about the guidelines for the project and to submit your entries to the New York Times, you can reach out to Ms. Harper at Kadee.Harper@houstonisd.org or reference the published contest information at The Learning Center, a subsection of the New York Times.

A call to reflect and share creativity

Daniela Pearl, Lamar Life

DIY Masks: Reliable, fashionable, or both? Brooklyn Carmona, Lamar Life

I feel like they let you express yourself more freely.


Lara Iskandar

asks are the fashion we may not have asked for, but since this pandemic started, we must wear them to go out safely. Because of this, people felt compelled to get creative and make their own masks at home! Many believe these DIY masks allow for deeper self expression. “DIY masks are cool,” says sophomore Lara Iskandar. “I feel like they let you express yourself more freely. I believe they are


reliable and safe! People wouldn’t be wearing them if they thought it would be putting their lives in danger.” However, there is a the question of medical-grade safety with DIY masks. “I’m not entirely sure that they’re as safe as medical masks,” Iskandar says. “I actually don’t have any of my own DIY masks, but I have a few friends that do." While some may question the safety of these masks, others feel like they are perfectly safe, and fun to make. Senior Sierra Williams says, “I prefer the custom masks because you can have a different mask for every outfit you wear,” For her, the project is just as rewarding as the product. “I love making the masks.” Jenalle Kamla, a 10th grade academic dean, shared her cactus printed mask and thoughts on the topic. "I think that a DIY mask

allows you to express yourself. I make the masks of material that make me happy. Sometimes, if the material is plain, I will Cricut images to add some life to the mask. I have made myself over 10 different masks and am treating them as an accessories. I try to make them coordinate with my outfit for the day," Kamla explains. "I decided to make my own masks because I had material that I liked and crafting is a stress reliever. So I get to accomplish two things at once." If you're interested in making your own mask, check out the following link: bit.ly/DIY-mask-tutorial Whether you choose medical-grade masks or you make a DIY mask, just be sure to stay MASKED UP Texans!

Masks: The ongoing controversy


Kathryn Stone, Lamar Life

asks have become one of, if not the most important thing to have during this pandemic, an essential for day-today life. Despite being used to protect yourself and others from contracting and spreading COVID-19, many are refusing to wear one. Debates on whether or not you should wear a mask have sprung up all over the country since orders on wearing them were put in place in each state. Many United States citizens believe that being told to wear a mask is a violation of American rights. These “anti-maskers” also believe that wearing a mask does nothing to protect you or other people from the virus. Further, many conceive that establishments refusing service to those not wearing a mask, or not wearing one the proper way, is a violation of their civil rights; despite numerous medical professionals’ opinions on this topic. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets, which release when people speak, yell, sneeze and cough. If someone was to come in contact with a droplet on their nose or mouth they could contract the virus. By wearing a cloth mask, not one with a ventilator, you are preventing yourself from spreading and receiving droplets. Some countries have been able to stop the spread and even eradicate the virus because leaders heavily enforce wearing a mask and the citizens of those countries are not arguing with

those decisions. These countries, who closed their borders at the start of the pandemic, have been able to start reopening and living life normally again. Whereas America, and especially Texas, is getting worse every day. If anti-maskers weren’t so hardheaded and instead looked at the benefits of mask wearing, we could be going back to school, eating out, and even going to concerts without the abundance of restrictions. Many businesses have signs and notices stating that they refuse to provide service to any patron not wearing a mask. This is the same idea as a business having a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” sign or notice. Anti-maskers respect the latter statement but not the former. Those who are not respecting the former use the claim that they have the right to not wear a mask and it is illegal for the establishment to refuse service, but that is simply not the case. Private establishments have the right to refuse service to anyone that could or does interfere with the safety and well-being of the other patrons or the establishment. Businesses are not allowed to refuse service to a protected class, including classes such as race, age, or gender. Maskless people

are not a protected class and therefore can be turned away by an establishment. My brother would come home from work and talk about a rude customer that got mad at him and it baffled me that people could get so angry about this supposed “violation of rights” when they are violating the rights of the business and its owners! If everyone were to wear a mask properly, our lives could return to “normal” faster. This topic may be a conflict of interest in our polarized country but science shows that wearing a mask will help everyone stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. Personally, I am choosing to look at the science and look at the countries that have effectively stopped the spread and will continue to wear my mask. Not only is wearing a mask considerate to yourself, but also to others around you. I don’t want to be the reason myself or a loved one gets the virus, and neither should you.

Graphic by Hamza Rashaad, Lamar Life


Kane Kinney, Lamar Life

From class to room: Students reflect on new learning spaces


he Coronavirus pandemic shut down schools, forcing students to attend class from their homes virtually. When they found out about the jump to virtual school, many students were prepared for the worst. “My first thoughts and impressions were that I would have worse grades, and an overall worse learning experience and I would lose my attention very easily,” junior Aiden Ortiz said. However, it is incredible how they each adapted to the situation in different ways to improve their learning situation at home. “I do online school in my brother’s room because he has a big desk and I chose that room because I feel like doing school in my room, I could get really easily distracted. Going in my brother’s room, I am not as distracted, and I have a big


workspace,” junior Kaitlin Keene said. Junior Mary Ruth Cochran had the same idea as Keene. She wanted to get away from her room and away from distractions. “At the beginning, I did it in my room, at my desk but then I moved down stairs to a little office space that we have because it was better for me to get out of my room to do school, instead of just rolling out of bed,” Cochran said. On the other hand, Ortiz felt that he would be more efficient in his room. “My work place is just at my desk in my room, which was better than how it was in the spring because before I would mostly just do work in my bed, and a lot of

the time I would fall asleep while doing work. But now that I am at my desk, it happens less frequently,” Ortiz said. Despite the negative effects of the Coronavirus, there have been some postive benefits. “When I was at school, I would usually ask a friend for help but now I have learned to grow on my own in many different ways. I have learned to be independent and focus,” Keene said.

Online learning presents question of student engagement Lauren Koong, Lamar Life


ecause of the global Coronavirus pandemic, most schools opted for a virtual learning environment instead of traditional in-person classes. While this measure is necessary for the safety of both staff and students alike, the question of how engaged students are in an online classroom arises. For math teacher Hector Otano-Vega, most of his students continue to participate in his classes. “I think we are doing pretty well,” he said. “I still have some students who are out, which I expected, but I am achieving 90% student participation. Most of the students that are not engaged have special circumstances, which is expected in these times. For the most part, my students are engaged; they are doing the work and you can see that in the attendance as well.” Junior Jennifer Villanueva feels similarly, preferring virtual learning to a traditional, in-person setting. “With online school, I am held accountable and am much more responsible for my own learning so I have found that I learn more online, simply because there’s much more self-motivated interest. I think all my teachers are doing the very best they can,” Villanueva said. “At this point, it’s up to the students whether or not they choose to engage. I try to participate as much as possible but it’s a lot harder than when we were going to in person school. ” However, not everyone holds the same optimism regarding student engagement in an online setting. “It’s hard to focus in online school because it is so impersonal,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s easier to concentrate on assignments when I am physically in a classroom and there is a teacher there

to help if needed. You don’t have to deal with Internet lags that freeze your teacher or having to type out everything you say. Also, you can’t really properly discuss online. There is no collaboration. People are weird about using their microphones.” Along with the students, some teachers are also experiencing the difficulties of keeping students participating virtually. “In class, you’re expected to be somewhere, physically, for an hour and a half,” said Shelby Hicks, who teaches English. “That expectation doesn’t really exist anymore. As a teacher in-person, I was able to monitor and check on students and make sure everyone was working on what they needed to. Digitally, who knows if they’re even there? That’s the hardest part, making sure everyone is participating and awake.” Participation in an online classroom can be difficult to achieve, especially as most students do not turn their cameras on in meetings. Now, most teachers are speaking to a faceless class, which is a stark contrast compared to in-person school. “The biggest surprise to me was people not turning on their cameras,” Hicks said. “It’s weird having a student in my class where I’m like ‘Huh, I wonder what they look like’ or ‘I wonder who they are.’ You really can’t picture them.” On the other hand, many students have faced uncomfortable scenarios when participating in online class. “I try to partici-

Graphic by Mace Klein, Lamar Life

pate in class but it’s sometimes awkward,” an anonymous student said. “At the beginning, there were times when I was the only one talking in a breakout room and it’s the worst. Y’know how when you’re texting, people can leave you on read? Well now people leave me on heard. So now I just type in the chat if I need anything. “I think it’s because last year, when we first started online school, all the teachers told us to turn off our mics and cameras when we got into a meeting so we got into that habit. If a teacher asked us to turn on our cameras, I would, but none of my teachers have asked.” Otano-Vega hopes that students will become accustomed to this new environment and engagement will rise. “Now, we have a better understanding of the system and how it’s going to work, students are becoming more engaged. Engagement is about the teacher,” he said. “Obviously, online class is not perfect, but we are trying to get the class as engaged as possible.”


Mental health in the wake of Covid-19 Mikal Nazarani, Lamar Life

t’s often hard to keep a healthy balance in our lives. Taking care of ourselves, taking care of others, taking care of what needs to be done, can seem too far to grasp or too hard to do when we’re not taking care of our own mental health and well-being. In today’s current climate, some feel utterly powerless to even do anything for themselves when experiencing intense feelings of isolation and loneliness. Recent surveys have found that amidst Covid-19, symptoms of mental illness and depression have tripled in America. So, how do we get out of these mental and emotional ruts, and start nurturing and taking care of ourselves and our mental health? To further look into the science and reasoning of our mental health, Lamar psychology teacher Mr. Krimm has generously provided explanations as well as solutions to many of the topics discussed throughout the article. Mr. Krimm teaches IB psychology, coaches soccer and football, and is a big advocate for physical activity, as well as building good habits and spending time with family. First, it is important to realize that it is okay to not be okay all the time. To have a set expectation to always be optimistic and happy is unrealistic


and can end up doing more harm than good. Life is made up of problems, and it would be foolish to pretend that we can avoid them, which is why it is important to take a step back and view our problems and anxieties from a different perspective. “Most of our mental health issues that are cognitive are because we have an irrational perspective. We just have to recalibrate our perspective,” says Mr. Krimm. One of the current issues the new pandemic has brought along with it is a lack of socialization, which is having a negative impact on our society, especially for adolescents. The reasoning for this, as Mr. Krimm puts it, is that “so much of our identity formation happens through our connections with other people.” A common misconception is that we can substitute that vital interaction through other mediums such as social media, but that is not necessarily the case. While social media does bring a lot of positives, it can also be “a place that’s very superficial and fabricated,” says Mr. Krimm. Social media can not give us that necessary oxytocin that our brains need in order to stay healthy and in shape. It cannot replace human connection, which releases chemicals such as oxytocin, serotonin, and even dopamine which our brain then uses as Mr. Krimm states - to “galvanize our memories and well-being.” Of course there is a spectrum, and our brain may not crave as much interaction depending on whether or not you are extroverted or introverted, but “our brain from a chemical standpoint understands and craves to be healthy.” This is not to say you get rid

Graphic by Ariana Sandoval, Lamar Life

of social media, as it still provides some level of social comfort and it is important to keep in touch. Mr. Krimm had a nice way of putting it: “It’s never about ‘how do I get off of social media’, it’s about ‘how do I get into things that are better for me than social media.’” A good example for this would be replacing that time spent on a screen with building small, yet powerful habits. Our brain is not a concrete organ. Unlike a liver or heart, whose functions are clear and easy to understand, the mind is constantly changing - it isn’t finite. Every action, thought, interaction, creates a new pathway in our head. “Our brains are like the pathways in the National Park - the pathways that get travelled on the most stay open, while the ones that don’t get travelled on grow over,” says Mr. Krimm. Using this concept to our advantage, we can start implementing small habits everyday until those pathways become almost instinctive to take. Habits such as journaling, meditating, even doodling or drawing, can be used as outlets when we feel stressed or overwhelmed and they cultivate a sense of mindfulness, a cultivation who’s benefits are infinite. “And it’s different for everyone,” states Mr. Krimm. For him it’s reading, journaling, and exercising. For others it may be something else - it’s very personalized. Regardless, having a set of habits to follow through everyday can help to build a routine and instill mindfulness, making our lives more organized and deliberate, so that we can be expressive and passionate in the things that really interest us.

As school moves in, work-life balance moves out


Lauren Koong, Lamar Life

he COVID-19 pandemic, which has not gotten any better since March, has shut down our schools and forced us to continue our education in a virtual environment. With the school year now starting online, the line between home and work life has become more blurred than ever. Before quarantine, finding a good home-work balance was something most people strived to accomplish in order to maintain a healthy state of mind. As we continue to work from home, it has become infinitely harder to do. When we were learning in-person, moving between our homes and school helped our brains function better. For our entire lives, we established home as a place for relaxation and school as a place for concentration. By doing so, our minds were able to better focus at school, with the promise of unwinding at home, an environment free of work-related stress. The distinct lines between home and work life were also beneficial to a healthier state of mind and well-being. However, during quarantine, home has suddenly become a place for both our learning and our downtime. It has become harder and harder to separate

the two, thereby making it more difficult to sustain long periods of concentration during school hours. School and home are now bleeding together and without the boundaries that once separated them, it is challenging for our subconscious minds to differentiate between the two. On another front, because home and work life are now the same thing, teaching has become more personal than ever before. Prior to online learning, the height of awkwardness was to see your teacher outside of school. It would warrant a quick text to your friends and a dissection of what said teacher was doing and who they were with. School was a more formal environment with certain unspoken rules that teachers followed to maintain a social order but outside of school, they are much more relaxed and almost a completely different person. For students, the sight of seeing a teacher in a non-school or “normal� setting was, simply put, weird. Now, we only see teachers outside of school. Everyday, we see our teachers in a deeply personal aspect of their lives: their homes. We watch them fiddle with cameras and other technol-

ogy, scenes of their home life coming into the view. We see significant others walk in backgrounds and pets walk across keyboards. We are living in a time where there is no longer a filter between personal lives and work lives. Our current situation is uniquely unprecedented, which may take a toll on many people’s mental health. The fight to create boundaries between home and work life to maintain a healthy state of mind has suddenly become more difficult than ever. One strategy to help reestablish lines between personal and work life is finding a clear workspace. It may be tempting to try to concentrate on school assignments from the comfort of your bed but getting out of bed and going to a desk to work will ultimately benefit your well-being while at home. Also, it is a good way to remind your subconscious mind of the difference between working and relaxing at home. While I understand this new way of life may be hard to adjust to and may present many difficulties, remember that staying at home is crucial for the safety of yourself and those around you.

Graphic by Ana Torchia, Lamar Life

Graphic by Ana Torchia, Lamar Life


District officials prepare for the return to school


Kimberly Anderson, Lamar Life s doors begin to reopen for the students and staff of Lamar, concerns for their return start to arise. Due to the pandemic, safety is the number one priority from the parents of those who chose in-person classes. In order to ensure the students feel comfortable attending classes, the faculty have implemented corona precautions to provide a safe environment, while also ensuring the students get the education they need. Saturday, Sept. 19, the district officials came to school to prepare the building for its reopening. The campus directors have been working hard to make the new working environment as normal as possible. “Our goal continues to be to keep students and employees-and their desks and workspaces-six feet apart whenever possible. To aid that effort, we’re limiting student movement on campuses and requiring all meetings to be held virtually,” HISD officials said. The week of Oct.12-15, staff


members were allowed back to school. Since they have arrived, they have been preparing for the difference that this year brings. “We are asking that all students and staff stay home if they are not feeling well. Of course, anytime someone is not feeling well, and they enter a campus or facility, they then possibly expose others. First and foremost we want to make sure those that are not feeling well are actually staying home and not coming to school or coming to work. We know that a lot of people are anxious to come back, whether its to campus or a facility, we want to make sure we are keeping everyone safe. Overly communicating is going to be very necessary as we move through the pandemic and as we move to mitigate as we move to slow it down. Overly communicating based on what we know based on health,” HISD Chief Operating Officer Alishia Jolivette said. Students who have selected in-person learning feel excited and ready

to have something go back to normal amid the pandemic, which has lasted longer than expected. Although the school year will not be regular, it is a step forward for returning to life without the pandemic. “Corona has definitely impacted how the school will operate when we go back since there won’t be a lot of students in classrooms and we have to follow all the guidelines. We will not have all the social interactions we are used to, but I am just glad that at least some things are going back to normal,” junior Andy Lopez said. On the other hand, students who have decided to continue their school year online based their decision on things other than safety. “I chose online because I play football and one rule we have is if someone in your neighborhood gets COVID you have to be out for two weeks even if the virus is not contracted. I do not want to risk not being able to play football so online is the smarter choice,” junior Shady Mahmoud said.

Virtual or In-Person: Students decide to return to school or stay home amidst the pandemic


s schools prepare to open up to students with the option of in-person learning, students face the decision on whether to go back or remain virtual. Ms. Graves has established on the official school website that approximately 45% of students chose to return to campus for the first cycle. Many students planned to come back to campus for a variety of reasons. A major reason is the feeling of more effective communication with teachers and staff while in-person. “Let’s say you have a certain problem with a certain assignment, or your computer is not working properly, then it wouldn't be a hard issue to fix because you’re already on campus so you can go ask an administrator about the problems,” said Chloe Diehl, a returning sophomore. Another struggle that online students face is restricted access or transportation to sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities. “I think one of the benefits I get from returning in person is being able to work on theatre and volleyball, and mainly just extracurriculars,” said Camille Aiyer, a sophomore who has also opted to return to school. Students have also ex-

Lorraine Bombarde, Lamar Life

pressed how they feel that the in-person school environment is less distracting for their learning experience. “The environment at school will help many students with staying on task because there will be administrators there to provide that environment for the students,” Diehl said. While in the school building, students will be expected to follow health and safety regulations. Students will remain six feet apart, both in the classroom and hallways, with masks on at all times in class. Along with supervision from the administrators, the school is prepared to be cleaned and secure at all times. The school has also notified returning families that if a student is to catch COVID-19, the school will shut down and perform a full cleaning of the campus. “I think masks being on at all times is completely necessary, though I don't think it will end up impacting students enough for it to be effective,” said Giovanni Victorio, a sophmore choosing to remain virtual. For many students, remaining virtual is a matter of concern for one’s own health

during this global pandemic and not wanting to take risks. “I’m remaining virtual because my mother has to work, and her hours are different because of the pandemic. There is also a worldwide pandemic going on and it would be unwise to visit rowdy teenagers during this time,” Victorio said. Despite the safety measures and precautions in place, some students still feel that it is not safe to return yet, not wanting to put their families or loved ones at risk by returning to school in-person. The CDC warns that older or elderly people are most at risk, however anyone at anyone age or condition is able to catch the virus. “I personally am not very high risk and neither is anyone in my family, but if you are at risk of the coronavirus and you don't know if you don't know if you want to go back to school or not, likely don't for the safety of your family,” said Diehl.


2020 Presidential Election


Mason Hartley, Lamar Life ith Mail-in voting, protests, controversy and an ongoing pandemic, people are worried about how to ensure their vote will count in the upcoming election. This is particularly a worry for students that will be first-time voters or unable to vote. Those that are able to vote have been developing their voting strategies and plans. “I will vote, I’m watching the debates and I’m using the local newspaper to stay up to date on local races,” senior Olivia Pare said. “Voting is really important to me because I care deeply about climate change and the environment and I believe voting is a good way to change policy surrounding that.” Junior Alexander Koong also felt that voting was important to enact change. “I've read the news about current events and issues going on in our political climate, and I also watched the presidential debate,” Koong said. “[Voting] is important because that is how we the people can create legitimate change. We can verbalize about all what we want to happen, but until we actually vote, it's useless.” While many other states are conducting mail-in voting Texas has not expanded their mail-in voter restrictions. Early voting begins Oct. 13 and remains open until Oct. 30. For those that will be voting in-person, there are a few precautions you can take to minimize the risks of Covid-19. Those precautions include maintaining social distancing, use hand sanitizer before and after touching the polling equipment, bring


Photo by Jafet Soto, Urban / Urbtex Photographer @ infphy_ your own pen, and take advantage of curbside voting if you are eligible or display symptoms of Covid-19. “I disagree with the lack of voting by mail, because it infringes in people’s right to vote safely,” Pare said. Koong also disagreed with the voting policy. He thinks that voting should be made easier to encourage increased participation. “I think there are some voter suppression tactics being used,” Koong said. “Those who do not want to leave their home should be able to vote through the mail. We need to make it easier to vote and encourage more people to vote, not fewer.” Many voters are still going to be voting in person, there are a few ways to make the process easier for

everyone. One way you can stay safe and vote quickly, is by visiting Harris County’s website. The site provides the number of people in line and the estimated wait time for each specific polling location. "I registered at school so that made registration really easy for me,” Pare explained. “I’m not worried about actually going to the polls, because I personally think that risking Covid is worth it to voice my opinion.” For those who can’t vote there are still ways to help with the election. "I'm not voting because I'm not old enough," Koong said. “I am doing my part in ensuring that all of my eligible friends are able to vote, as well as my immediate and extended family.”

Franklin Wu, Lamar Life

Texans take to the polls


peaking at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln spoke the following words: “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. These words, spoken at a time when the country was divided by the Civil War, still speak to present day Americans as they come together, galvanized to put into action their right to vote. Students, teachers, and community members are all participating this election season, playing pivotal roles in shaping our democracy. It is through their voices that we explore the experience of the 2020 election. That spirit of patriotism in a time of need is especially important in the era of COVID-19 since the average age of poll workers in Harris County is 72, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. Therefore, it is a good thing that since 2009, Texas has allowed high school students 16 years of age and older to serve as election clerks. Senior Lisette Canseco is one such student election clerk. She has answered the call to help at a time when the need is great. Although Lisette is not yet old enough to vote, she made sure to do her part in this upcoming election. Lisette recently volunteered as a poll worker during early voting. She expected her polling location at Bayland Park to be packed, but to her surprise, the lines were much shorter and the crowds much more manageable. This allowed Lisette to talk with many voters who shared “their experiences, thoughts, and opinions”. Lisette thought it was a great experience and fulfilling to see every voter walk inside with a smile on their face. She described the most rewarding part of the experience as the ability to give back to her community. She told me, “People who would walk through the door, no matter age, race, or sex would all greet me with great respect and admiration, and I learned to see the good throughout the suffering of the pandemic. It also felt really rewarding to meet other people outside my usual

group of friends and come out of my comfort zone and show my abilities in ways I have not gotten the opportunity before.” According to USA Today, the number of Texans registered to vote in the upcoming November election has increased since the 2016 presidential elections by about 1.8 million voters. Over the last four years, Harris County alone added more than 298,000 voters. Registered voters have continued to show up during the early voting period to cast their ballot and carry out their civic duty as citizens. Max Shilstone, a senior, is a newly registered voter whose personal voting motivation was the desire to voice his opinions. It was also a rite of passage into adulthood, one that he shared with his father as they drove together to a drive-in voting site. He described his experience as “definitely weird at first because they would have you stay in your car and then they would give you a big electronic ballot where you could vote for whoever you pleased.” On a related note, Mr. Nagel, a Lamar AP Government teacher, also advises voters to “know what they value and want out of their government before they vote for certain candidates.” In AP Government, “students were surprised to learn that they did not actually identify with the ideology that they thought they did going into the course. Students and adults should write down what their positions are on hot button issues such as taxes, national security, healthcare, and education and then analyze if they lean towards exhibiting a more conser-

vative, liberal, or libertarian point of view.” For voters seeking more candidate information, there are non-partisan organizations like the League of Women Voters, that create comprehensive and unbiased voter guides that can facilitate understanding about the candidates and their policy stances. New voters hopefully have the same sentiment as Max Shilstone, who said, “We are at a day and age where it’s important to have your voice heard at a young age and from that, voting is the perfect thing to have an impact in your society.” As youth hold the future in our hands, there is hope that participation in the entire election process becomes the norm. 2020 has been a year like no other. It will be an election to remember and although many are fed up with the state of politics, there are words of hope from Mr. Nagel: “This generation has the opportunity to teach older generations that although we as Americans can disagree with each other passionately over ideological and political differences we can still come together at the end of the day to respect one another as fellow Americans. We all have the same goal and that is to see a better country for future days and generations ahead.”

Graphic by Ana Torchia, Lamar Life

JOINING AND PARTICIPATING IN CLUBS VIRTUALLY Lara Iskandar, Lamar Life How to join: 1. Go to www.lamarhs.org to take yourself to the Lamar HS home page. 2. Locate the “Activities” button and hover your mouse over it. There will be three options underneath it: “Sports”, “Fine Arts”, and “Clubs”. Select “Clubs”. 3. Once there, there will be a list (A-Z) of all of the available clubs at Lamar. Click on any one you are interested in joining and there should be all of the information known about the club. (PSA: Not all clubs are fully up to date because of complications with the virus, but each option is bound to give important information.) 4. Finally, contact the club’s sponsor/leader for further details because it varies from club to club.

Cooperating in clubs:

When it comes to anything now-a-days safety precautions must be taken due to COVID-19. Masks must be worn when around other members and social distancing needs to be encoouraged by all participants as much as possible. This virus has punched holes in many club schedules and adjustments to meeting times and places are constant. “It’s harder to meet and do activities together. We have to be careful and make sure we’re being safe and following COVID precautions. Club meetings can happen whenever but usually during lunch, before, and/or after school. We’ve just started because the year only began recently, but we’re planning for lots of projects and volunteer opportunities. We will all pull through in the end though, and are looking forward to a good year,” said Diya Vettical. Although we may still be finding adjustments, you can still find your people! Get out there, find a club that interests you, and get involved!


George Weng, Lamar Life


hile many events were canceled due to Covid-19, the Senior Sunrise event was created as a safe alternative. The PTO held the Senior Sunrise as a fundraiser and a way for seniors to have fun in their last year. Although the complications with Covid-19 were not ideal for the Senior Sunrise, it did not prohibit the event from occurring. This year’s Senior Sunrise event was virtual and participants were asked to submit a photo of themselves or with friends wearing the Sunrise to Sunset t-shirt while holding a sign that says "Lamar Senior Sunrise 2020" in their favorite sunrise location. The photos were then shared on Principal Rita Graves’ Instagram and collected to

Seniors celebrate during sunrise event include the event as a spread in the yearbook. For many seniors, the Senior Sunrise event was one of the few things to look forward to, since many other events were canceled due to Covid-19. “Senior Sunrise is something fun for the seniors to do and remember before they leave Lamar,” senior Ronald Smith said. Every year, there are events for the seniors to have fun and make memories before the end of their high school career. “I really think future seniors will also enjoy the event,” Smith said. “The part I enjoy the most about senior sunrise is how we get to take photos with your friends.” The sudden alteration to the start of their final year of high schoool

did not prevent seniors from having fun. The core value of the event is to bring seniors together, and that did not change in this year’s senior sunrise. No matter what route the seniors take, the senior sunrise is a part of their lives that all seniors of Lamar share. It is something that will be remembered as each and every one of the seniors embark on a new journey. “My expectations for the senior sunrise were high and that expectation definitely held true,” Smith said, “[it] is something we seniors will look back on when we leave Lamar for college.” If you have pictures from this event, share with @lamarlifeonline or @ lamarlifeyearbook for a chance to be in one of the publications!


Seniors paint parking spots "I painted my spot as I did because I wanted it to be unique and funny at the same time. It was fun." Andrew Moore

"This was a stressful, last minute design but I'm glad I did it. I didn't think it was going to come out this good!" Alexis Herrero


"My favorite thing about painting my spot was that I was still able to participate in a senior activity and got to spend time with my friends. I have always liked the movie Shrek and it was one of my favorites growing up." -Amanda Zavala

"I love diet coke. It felt right for me." Elizabeth Ayres

When asked if accepted into UT Austin, Quinn Roselius stated, "I'm in the top 6 percent, so I'm betting on it!"


Volleyball sub-varsity teams finish strong Lauren Koong, Lamar Life


he freshman and junior varsity volleyball team has successfully finished their season, with JV finishing second in the district overall. “I think that we did really well as a team,” said sophomore Joy Parazette, who plays as an outside hitter and middle back. “There were a lot of new people on the team and I think on the first day we all bonded really well. We just pushed through games and it was a really good experience.” The JV only had one loss in the district games, which encouraged the team to dedicate themselves even further to achieve these end

results. “They did a good job of focusing during practice to improve,” coach James Goolsbee said. “We had a short season, so it was important for us to stay focused to take advantage of the short time we had to improve.” The Covid-19 pandemic, which cut the season shorter than usual,

“We just pushed through the games and it was a really good experience. ” Joy Parazette


meant the volleyball team had to take many precautions to make sure the team could safely play. “Playing with the Covid restrictions made things a bit challenging for us and really put a strain on our parents. They would have to drive the girls to the games and sometimes not be able to come in and support,” freshman coach Tawonna Cage said. Despite the challenges the program faced with this new situation,

both teams were able to quickly adjust to the safety measures, which included wearing a mask on court. “We had a pretty good season. It was different at first,” sophomore Paislē Comeaux said. “It was hard constantly playing with a mask on but I was able to get used to it.” As well as adjusting to new circumstances, the team was also successful in working together and building their teamwork skills. “One thing my freshman team did well this season was sticking together,” Cage said. “No matter what, I can truly say they were a team.”

Covid-19 cannot stop football


Jafet Aviles and Ethan Martinez, Lamar Life he football team is tackling through this pandemic. While 5A and 6A high school football seasons were delayed, the football season is starting up again, with extra safety precautions to guard against Covid-19. For many players, adjusting to all the new precautions was difficult at first. “The first week adjusting to everything was new but I wouldn't say it was a struggle when we first came to practice at Lamar and it's always good to see the guys and coaches again to bond and made it worthwhile,” said senior Max Shilstone. Even with social distancing, the team is still able to build bonds with each other. “Our team chemistry is strong. We are hyped for the season and excited and fortunate we got the chance to play this season due to the virus,” said senior Gage Hensey. Many parents are equally as

excited for the football season as the players. “Texas football has been Kenneth’s life; it’s his heart, it’s his passion,” said Ava Rosenthal, mother of varsity quarterback Kenneth Rosenthal. “If I told him he couldn’t play, he would probably have a heart attack. I come out to the games because we have to support our children in every way necessary, by all means necessary.” While some may be concerned about the virus, other parents are confident that football and Covid-19 can coexist. “If the coaches enforce the social distancing outside of practice, have their mask on like how they are supposed to, and if they take the precautions necessary before they come to practice to do what needs to be done so they aren’t exposed to COVID, then yes it can be done effectively," parent Dee Davis said. "If a player contracted the virus, I feel as if they would need to take a break because

safety is first." With the pandemic comes many challenges but the team is ready to prevail through. “There has been protocols for social distancing and we are abiding by the rules. There's times when it does seem hard but my teammates are strong and willing,” Shilstone said.

“Our team chemistry is strong. We are hyped for the season and excited and fortunate we got the chance to play this season due to the virus.” Gage Hensey

Profile for LamarLife

Lamar Life October 2020  

"The world around us is not the only thing that has undergone recent changes. After a long summer, Lamar Life is back and better than ever,...

Lamar Life October 2020  

"The world around us is not the only thing that has undergone recent changes. After a long summer, Lamar Life is back and better than ever,...


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