The Mirador Volume 64 Issue 4

Page 1


COVID-19 Caution:

As the COVID-19 cases increase further into the purple tier, Emma Leibowitz argues that students must exercise caution (page 3).

Principal Parks Earns Doctorate:

Photo: Unsplash

The Volume 64, Issue 4



Like the class of 2021, Julie Parks will graduate in May, receiving her doctoral degree from USC (page 5).

Lacrosse Star Mark Cheng:

Photo: Julie Parks

Meet the recent lacrosse recruit to the United States Air Force Academy, Mark Cheng (page 11).


Photo: Mark Cheng


February 10, 2021

College Board Cancels SAT Subject Tests EMMA LEIBOWITZ The College Board announced Jan. 19 the discontinuation of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) Subject Tests and the previously optional SAT Essay. They also plan to implement a new digital version of the SAT. The cancellations come following increased difficulty in students’ standardized testing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accelerated end to a process of phasing out the Subject Tests, which became obsolete in comparison to Advanced Placement (AP) tests. “We are no longer offering the Subject Tests in the United States. Students in the U.S. will automatically have their registrations canceled and receive a refund,” College Board Communications said in their Jan. 19 announcement. Instead of using Subject Tests to showcase students’ individual strengths in specific subjects, College Board will now rely on AP tests. College Board notified colleges and universities of this decision, and it will be up to these schools whether to consider Subject Test scores for the class of 2021. For students in the class of 2022 or younger, most have not and will not be able to take Subject Tests. In a poll of 130 Miramonte students, 88 percent said they have not taken an SAT Subject Test. “Personally, I don’t like that the SAT Subject Tests were discontinued due to a worry about pressure on students. For me, it was another way to express skills in certain areas to build up colleges’ narratives of me when deciding admissions. The tests were never mandatory, and those who planned to take them, including myself, were relying on them to bulk up our college applications,” junior Sophie Weber said.

According to College and Career Counselor Stephanie Brady, no colleges prior to the pandemic required the submission of Subject Tests on applications, although

and features an essay prompt which students must respond to in under 50 minutes. Students will still be able to take the essay through the June test dates, but they now also have the option of canceling their essay registration free of charge. “This decision recognizes that there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing. The tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language tests are among the most effective and predictive parts of the SAT,” College Board said. The essay was added to the SAT in 2005. However, some students show further disappointment about the decision to remove the essay from the SAT. “I wish they would keep the essay section because it lets students be more creative with their answers, and gives them a chance to prove their unique writing to colleges,” freshman Hannah Rush said. But Brady says that performance on the essay section rarely impacts college admissions offices’ decision-making since colleges never read Photo: Jonathan Pham students’ SAT essays. some schools, like Georgetown University, strongly recOut of a poll of 131 Miramonte students, 73 percent ommended Subject Tests. Though some think otherwise, said they had not taken the essay section of the SAT. Admany believe that the elimination of Subject Tests may ditionally, 80 percent of a polled 117 said they agreed with be a relief in the college admissions process. “Personally, College Board’s decision to discontinue the Subject Tests I think it’s a really great decision. I think that putting the and SAT essay. pressure on students to make them feel as if they have to Finally, College Board is working to revise the SAT to take yet another standardized test to get into colleges is make it “more flexible” and “streamlined” by allowing stuunnecessary because there have been years of studies that dents to take a digital version of the test. According to the have proven that standardized tests in general just don’t Washington Post, College Board’s chief executive David equate to success in college,” Brady said. Coleman said Jan. 19 that College Board will not impleCollege Board also plans on discontinuing the optional ment an at-home version of the SAT but that a digital essay portion of the SAT after June 2021. This section is SAT would be similar to the regular SAT and that more separate from the English multiple choice part of the test information will likely be available in April.

Pub Team Competes at MLK Tournament

MICHELLE ZHOU Due to restrictions brought on by the ongoing pandemic, the Miramonte public speaking and debate team attended the James Logan Martin Luther King Invitational public speech and debate tournament from Jan. 15 to Jan. 17, held by the National Speech and Debate Association, virtually. Despite the annual tournament being online, students noted that it went smoothly and stayed on schedule. “Normally, there's at least one problem where a judge doesn't show up, your WiFi cuts out, or someone's computer dies, but it seemed as though luck was on our side this past weekend,” Josh Morganstein said. The tournament utilized National Speech and Debate Association Campus, an online platform used for virtual tournaments and practice. Over 20 schools across the U.S. competed. The format of the tournament remained the same as a standard competition with four categories for debate and 14 categories for speech. In the debate segment, which started Jan. 15, speakers went through a total of six preliminary rounds. The teams that won at least four of the six rounds advanced to the elimination rounds which consist of triple-finals, double-finals, octo-finals, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. Only half of the debaters in each elimination round made it to the next round. All debaters at Miramonte competed in pairs in Public Forum. Senior Grace Barmmer took 15th place in speaker awards and senior Morganstein took 1st place in speaker awards. In the speech segment, which started Jan. 16, there

were three preliminary rounds before advancing to elimination rounds which consisted of quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. Oratory and Impromptu had an octo-final round due to its large number of people. Each

events where speakers don’t give a pre-written speech. Instead, speakers get a prompt regarding a national or international issue and have 30 minutes to write a seven-minute speech. At a typical tournament, speakers don't have internet access so they gather and download articles on relevant national and international issues before competitions. In virtual tournaments, unlike in-person ones, speakers have internet access and are able to research their topics. Debating virtually is new to most students. “It’s a really different experience giving speeches virtually because you can’t see the audience’s reactions. You definitely have to adapt to the new format but it’s great that we’ve been able to modify everything online,” sophomore MaPhoto: Maya Martono rina Kim, who competed in Informative said. speaker competed individually. Morganstein placed first “Last year was my first year doing this style of debate in National Extemporaneous. Junior Thomas Quinnild so I was happy to see how much both my partner and placed second in Original Advocacy and sophomore I, as well as the rest of the team improved,” sophomore Nilab Ahmed placed seventh in Original Oratory. and Public Forum competitor Maya Martono said. Morganstein practiced daily in the weeks Non-Profit Organization leading up to the tournament.“Whether it was Miramonte High School US Postage Paid, Orinda, researching, giving practice speeches, or (per- 750 Moraga Way haps most importantly for my particular event) Orinda, CA 94563 Ca Permit #301 making sure I was aware of virtually every topic dominating the news cycle,” Morganstein said. “Not only was it a huge accomplishment for me, but it definitely just reaffirmed for me that whatever you put into public speaking or any extracurricular for that matter, you get right back.” Morganstein is the Miramonte Extemp Captain. National and International Extemp are the only

2 NEWS 02/10/21


CA Notify App Intends to Protect Communities The new CA Notify app intends to slow the spread of COVID-19 through a tracking and alert system. Ultimately, the app provides another layer of protection that can help aid school reopenings SOPHIA ACEVEDO

know if I was exposed to someone at the grocery store or another place like that, so The California Department of Public it is something I would like to use. I think Health (CDPH) and the California Dewhere the technology might fall flat is if partment of Technology launched the app not enough people are using it. It seems to CA Notify on Dec. 10 in an effort to slow be something that would need to be used the spread of COVID-19 statewide. The by a lot of people to be effective, but makfree, mobile technology notifies Califoring something like that mandatory would nians of their possible exposure to the virus be a violation of people’s rights,” AP Enand is available to the public on mobile devironmental Science teacher Jyllian Smith vices. In a recent poll on The Mirador Inssaid. tagram, 79 percent of the participants had Officials at CDPH reassure users that not downloaded or used the CA Notify app the app retains no identifying information while 21 percent had. and has no method of contacting any other “I plan on using the CA Notify App individuals that the user may have been in since I think it’ll be useful in keeping me close proximity to other than the few alertaware of local spikes and my general safety. ed via their devices. I also think the app will promote smart de“[The CA Notify app is] 100 percent cision making about staying inside so the private, 100 percent secure, 100 percent coronavirus cases in California will finally voluntary. You opt-in or you choose not to. decrease and we can return to school,” junior We value privacy. California has long been John Schlemmer said. a leader in terms of advancing the cause, Users start by opting in to the system, eiand we don’t want to do anything to set ther by activating a setting on their iPhone that cause back. And that’s why we’ve been, Photo: Erin Smith, Background (left to right, top to bottom): Tai’s Captures, Macau Photo Agency, Jared Erondu, Trnana University on Unsplash or installing an Android app. Once set up, frankly, a little stubborn and kept our eyes Bluetooth must be activated and the sys- Students can go to the official CA Notify website to find out how to connect to the wide open in terms of adopting this techtem will alert other devices with CA No- program and learn more information about how the app intends to slow the spread. nology,” California Governor Gavin Newtify enabled to create a log of other devices som said in a public statement on Dec. 7. Barry McQuain said. that came within six feet. When a user of The CDPH requires Contra Costa According to CNBC, CA Notify is based on technology County to reach the red tier in California’s four tier system the app tests positive, they receive a text message from the CDPH with a code. They input that code into their app or built by Apple and Google in 2020 called “exposure notifica- in order for schools to reopen. Some students believe that the system, and it sends an anonymous alert to others who’ve tions” which differs from the past use of “common tracing”, CA Notify App will add a layer of protection to California been within six feet for more than 15 minutes of the indi- where public health departments would manually contact communities and help students get back on campus. “Forpeople who have tested positive to find others who may be at tunately I haven’t had to use the app or been alerted about vidual who tested positive. “If I were exposed to an infectious person, I would want to risk. Exposure notifications instead exchange random strings having contact with someone with COVID-19 but it is set know who it was, not just a date. On the other hand, I am not of letters and numbers between phones using Bluetooth. up on my phone. It seems fairly easy to use and any effort to “As far as slowing the spread of COVID-19, I think the slow down the spread of the virus and bring us back to school sure that individuals want their private health status broadcasted,” computer science, robotics, and math analysis teacher more contact tracing the better. I would definitely like to is appreciated,” junior Ally Smith said.

BART Discontinues BSU Plans Events to Sale of Paper Tickets Honor Black History AIDEN BOWEN The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system converted to the exclusive sale of Clipper Cards systemwide on Dec. 14, 2020, effectively eliminating the sale of paper tickets and creating a more contactless, eco-friendly, and cheaper method of transportation. “Commuting to Miramonte every day, I rode BART until the pandemic and always found Clipper to be faster when going through gates and I didn’t have to worry about how much money was on it as I sometimes did with paper tickets,” junior Mariya Saeed said. Aug. 19 BART began the transfer to Clipper Cards as the only fare method. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and decrease in the number of riders, the process was sped up and completed in December of 2020. Unlike Clipper Cards, paper cards contain a magnetic strip and are required to be run through a machine to open the BART gate. Clipper Cards are plastic cards that can be touched to a reader to open the gate or pay for a bus ride. In addition to supposedly helping slow the spread of the pandemic, Clipper Cards remain a cheaper riding alternative. While paper tickets cost $1 per round trip adding to the fee of the ride, Clipper Cards only

have a $3 acquisition fee, making it cheaper when traveling more than three times. In addition, Clipper is accepted through many transit companies such as the County Connection bus system in Contra Costa County and AC Transit in Alameda. “I found Clipper easier to use since it also works with County Connection unlike paper tickets,” Saeed said. Some of these transit companies offer discounts to riders such as County Connection, which offers 50 cent discounts to children and adults who are riding locally. Although the Clipper Card is reusable and cheaper, some find paper cards to be more convenient. “I used paper tickets when I forgot my Clipper Photo: Aidan Bowen Card,” BART user and junior Calai Hernandez said. “Before the pandemic I traveled a lot to San Francisco and nearby cities. I would buy paper tickets if I didn’t have my card and I had extra cash.” The original goal was to reduce waste and the use of paper cards, however the switch contributes to slowing the spread of COVID-19. “BART is working to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Using Clipper helps this effort by allowing riders to avoid direct contact with fare gates, as the card only needs to be held over the fare gate card reader without touching,” BART said in an online article about their transition.

ERIN SMITH In honor of the 95th Black History Month, the Black Student Union (BSU) is hosting events, weekly meetings, and movie nights all throughout the month of February. The celebration is focused around identity, representation, and diversity, and the role identity plays in the daily lives of Black families. “Black History Month is a time for us to reflect on past events to learn and grow from them; it is a time for us to look at the historical figures and learn from their success and shortcomings,” senior Ava Moran, co-president of the BSU Club, said. Feb. 1, Miramonte held a special Cohort Academy talking about the importance of Black history awareness. “The lesson focused on the purpose of Black History Month and offering students an opportunity to recognize the importance of multiple perspectives in discussing American history and culture,” associate principal Bruce Giron said. “Students and staff will further our education about the contributions of African Americans to every aspect of our country despite systemic racism. We’ll be challenged to: learn more about the contributions of Black Americans to our history and culture, reflect on what you haven’t learned yet and why knowing a more accurate and inclusive history is important, make a commitment to what you want to learn

or re-learn about someone or something of importance in the area of Black Excellence this month, and commit to supporting a local Black Owned Business,” teacher and head of the Diversity Program Kristen Plant said. In addition to the cohort presentation, daily announcements over Canvas will feature a historical person, event, or place in order to further educate students. “Our school district continues to strengthen our commitment to honoring Black History Month in February and every month! The Miramonte community can look forward to events, speakers, and activities outside of class, and increasingly culturallyconscious curriculum,” Plant said. BSU is sponsoring two movie nights over Zoom on Feb. 7 and 26, at 6 p.m., recognizing the hard work and determination of African Americans throughout history, along with weekly meetings during lunch on Thursdays. “We will also be hosting weekly meetings covering different historical time periods each week,” Moran said. Even though this celebration is only a month long, some people honor Black History all year long and view this event as a way to educate others. “Black History Month plays the role of giving me comfort, in a way, knowing that there is a whole month dedicated to those who fought through thick and thin for equal rights and opportunities for our people,” junior Reece Harris said.


750 Moraga Way, Orinda, CA 94563 (925) 376-4423 Ext. 441 or Room 441

Editors-in-Chief Audrey Allen, Allison Petek Online Editor-in-Chief Alisha Nazar Managing and Business Managers Roan Kazmierowski, Lindsey Lewis News Editor Jonathan Pham Online News Editors Ania Keenan, Paige Mays Opinion Editor Emma Leibowitz Feature Editor Ingaborg Foutch Sports Editor Henry Hill Online Sports Editor Trent Larson-Deak Entertainment Editor Lindsey Lewis Social Media Manager Degen Naldoza Staff Writers Sophia Acevedo, Ellie Belshaw, Riley Bird, Emerson Bohlig, Aiden Bowen, Malayna Chang, Amali Chatterjee, Lauren Cunningham, Alexa Gutu, Carly Hoskins, Reagan Kaelle, Grace Liu, Sophia Luo, Nick Mollahan, Chris Morrison, Adrien Nibley, Kirstin Parker, Olivia Rhee, Cayde Schmedding, Samantha Scott, Erin Smith, Reese Smith, Chaya Tong, Michelle Zhou Faculty Adviser Donia Gousios

Mirador Mission Statement: Placing truth, accuracy, and objectivity first.

Letters to the Editor:

Editorials reflect the opinions of the majority of The Mirador’s editorial board and are chosen by a consensus of section editors. The Mirador solicits letters to the editor. Signed letters to the editors can be sent to mhsmirador@gmail. com. Unsigned letters will not be published but names can be withheld by request. The Mirador reserves the right to edit letters.

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02/10/21 OPINION 3


COVID-19 Rules Must Be Followed As COVID-19 cases in Contra Costa County continue to rise, one would expect residents to be even more careful when following health guidelines such as the six-foot rule, wearing masks at all times, and avoiding contact with people outside of one’s family. However, the pandemic has affected students and their families for almost a year now, and Miramonte students, blaming pandemic fatigue, are beginning to ignore the most important rules of COVID-19 safety. Although it is understandable to hope to revert back to semi-normalcy, Contra Costa County residents must obey COVID-19 rules to prevent case numbers from growing, no matter how long the pandemic lasts. According to the Contra Costa County COVID-19 website, for every 100,000 residents, there are 30.6 new cases of COVID-19 each day as of Feb. 4, a statistic that has risen dramatically from October, when there were around 5.1 new cases every day. There are also over 58,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the county, including the recovered, and on Jan. 25 alone, there were 410 new cases. Contrary to popular belief, the teenager and young adult age groups are very susceptible for contracting the virus. On Feb. 4, the number of total cases in the county for those ages 13 to 18 were 4,107 and the number of cases for those ages 19 through 30 were 12,888, a vast majority over all other age groups, including the 61 to 70 age range, which is more at risk for COVID-19 complications but had a case count of 4,396. Since students easily contract and spread COVID-19, it is imperative that they and their families abide by the guidelines set by the county and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the recent winter break, when the county was in a stay-athome order, many students spent time with large groups of friends outside of their social “bubbles,” traveled to other counties or even states, violated the social gathering restriction by visiting relatives, and did not take the necessary precautions to avoid possible COVID-19 contamination. “I think for the benefit of the nation, society, and your own community it is expected that you follow through with these guidelines. However, it’s difficult to regulate people,” senior Shyon Afshar said. Students should see small groups of friends from time to time to preserve their mental health, but blatantly violating COVID-19 restrictions to attend parties or large gatherings is not only unnecessary but unsafe for themselves, their families, and other people. Additionally, many students have resumed traveling for vacations, and while these trips are likely relaxing and rejuvenating, they must not forget to follow county COVID-19 restrictions upon returning home from their destinations. To respect the safety of others, these travelers must share details of their trip—such as who they came into contact with, what they did, and where they traveled—with others if they wish to spend time with friends in person after arriving home.

Comic: Reese Whipple

People should also quarantine themselves for at least a week and take COVID-19 tests after vacationing so they can be certain of their health and evaluate their potential to harm others. “I think that small road trips or essential trips are fine as long as people are doing their best to stay safe, but traveling by plane or just for fun is unnecessary and can wait. I think that people who are not following travel restrictions should reconsider going on a trip and do the best they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” junior Isabel Wirz said. With COVID-19 cases already dangerously high in Contra Costa County, it is crucial that all community members continue to follow important health rules to limit the spread and allow the number of cases to decrease. People who continue to ignore COVID-19 restrictions are also delaying the county’s reopening and preventing programs, including school, from returning to an in-person format. “I personally want to go back to school as soon as possible and in order to do so, I think it is important for people to be cautious in the decisions they’re making. That being said, there is nothing wrong with seeing friends if you’re able to do it in a safe way,” junior Bridget Meagher said. Students and families disregarding COVID-19 health and safety guidelines pose a threat to everyone’s safety and keep the county trapped in the Purple Tier: the most dangerous level of coronavirus risk. According to the California Department of Education’s Health and Human Services Agency, “If the county is in Purple Tier on the day the school plans to reopen for in-person instruction, the school must wait until it is eligible again.” Everyone must recommit their efforts to following COVID-19 rules in order to save lives and allow the county and state to resume the process of reopening. The Editorial Board voted 12-0 in agreement that students are disobeying or not listening to the necessary COVID-19 rules, contributing to higher case numbers and slowing the county’s reopening.

Social Media Allows Users to Incite Violence PAIGE MAYS

Social media is a constant cycle of monthly trends, opinions, and activism. However, social media can also perpetuate a series of harmful, inappropriate, and false comments or posts without consequence to the user or cancellation of the account. This can result in violent actions or events. Various applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram need to do a better job of noticing when to ban or close an individual’s account as a precaution to prevent the violence that can result from specific posts. Recently, the Capitol building was attacked on Jan. 6 by various Trump supporters in an attempt to discontinue the verification of then-President-elect Joe Biden. Leading up to the attack, President Donald Trump plastered false and aggressive accusations on social media sites, including a video in which he stated, “We had an election that was stolen from us.” Trump motivated his supporters to see the electoral verification as a cheated and biased process when, in reality, no proof of election fraud was ever found. According to an opinion article from Politico, “Last week’s insurrection marked the culminating point of years of hate speech, incitement to violence, disinformation, and destabilization strategies that were allowed to spread without restraint over well-known social networks.” Because social media applications did not halt the repeated incorrect accusations, supporters became angrier with each new post, ultimately driving them to violence. Now, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Apple, Google, Amazon Web service, Reddit, Shopify, Snapchat, Twitch, and YouTube have banned Trump or businesses that affiliate with him from their applications. Although this must-needed action has proved beneficial, it came too late. Had these social media platforms banned Trump’s accounts ahead of time, the attack on the Capitol building might have never occurred and Trump would not have been allowed to feed his supporters false details for so long. Although the attack on the Capitol building was horrifying, there are plenty of adverse actions that happen every day on social media, such as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a perfect example of social media sites allowing hurtful content to be released. According to BroadbandSearch, in 2020, 36.5 percent of individuals felt they had been cyberbullied. Bullying of all kinds can result in harmful lasting effects, including mental health issues. If social media sites got ahead of the malicious comments and assumptions so many users receive, it could dismantle cyberbullying and create a safe space on the internet.

“I think social media is a great platform for spreading awareness and learning new information, to some extent, as long as it is credible and you do your own research,” junior Sophie Weber said. There are many positives to social media, like the fantastic opportunities to share ideas, thoughts, opinions, and causes to fight for, but it’s not immune to the parade of false information that can be constantly disclosed. “I think it is also designed in a way that just as positive awareness posts are so easily spread around, hate speech and fake news are just as able to do so. When talking about social media’s impact on violence, I personally think it encourages both verbal and physical violence just because of the ideas and perspectives that are perpetuated that can escalate to hate crimes and hate speech,” Weber said. Widely used social media applications like Instagram and Twitter not only have the power to allow the share of creative content but also the responsibility of prohibiting users from spewing false facts and aggression. “I think social media can avoid harmful content by being very cautious and controlling what individuals are posting. I think they should promote positivity and peace throughout the apps’ main pages,” sophomore Amanda Murray said. Applications like Instagram do have a ‘report’ feature, where a user can report a post, comment, story, or account that might be inappropriate, inaccurate, or unsafe to them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the large number of users who may not be reported from continuing to cause harm with their posts. Instead, applications like Instagram need to closely monitor the posts and comments as they are shared so that any harmful content can be quickly and forcefully taken down. “I think that sites that have this kind of behavior have dismissed it in the past, allowing it to build up to those viewing it,” junior Thomas Edwardson said. Many social media sites may believe that ignoring false information allows users to declare their views or opinions, but instead, it encourages other users to say whatever they feel despite the repercussions or illegitimacy their words may possess. Social media can change perspectives and educate users, but its job does not stop there. The spread of rude or harmful comments can have negative impacts on users. Popular applications need to have a better grip on the posts and comments that are released by observing them closer and keeping a lookout for users who continually share harmful, false, or aggressive information.


4 OPINION 02/10/21

Two Way Street: PC vs. Console


Join Mirador staffers Adrien Nibley and Chris Morrison as they debate gaming methods

Photo: NZXT



CONSOLE: The console versus Personal Computer (PC) debate has been one of the most consistent gaming arguments over the last two decades. PC was considered objectively better in most ways and consoles were just a cheap and easy device for casual gamers. However, the Playstation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series X are far superior to PCs because they can operate with increased speed, clarity, and graphics while featuring low costs, allowing them to be marketed as the pinnacle of gaming. Cheaper, smaller, and more powerful each year, the pre-built machines offer a solid alternative to PC gaming. “I just like Xbox because it’s cheaper and just generally easier,” sophomore Jon Marc Mosher said. The newest consoles are priced from $299 to $499. A limited stock has made it difficult for the vast majority to purchase them, but they are still the better gaming method. “A good gaming PC is probably $1400 to $1600,” spohomore Fred Neuburger said. Despite having to pay a yearly fee of $60 for online games, console users receive multiple free games monthly for having the subscription to Xbox or Playstation online. Before the newest generation of consoles came out, two of the biggest reasons for having a gaming PC were graphics and speed. Consoles heavily lacked in those areas and were missing features such as ray tracing, which is the ability to track light on surfaces like water and display clear reflections. Certain games, like “Cyberpunk 2077,” that use complicated graphics and effects could barely be played on the old technology. But both the Xbox Series X and PS5 make that argument much less valid. “I got a Series X for Christmas, and a lot of time I’ll load into games even faster than some of my friends with pretty good PCs,” sophomore Emmett Kalar said. The new consoles also have ray tracing and do not struggle with running games consistently at 60 to 120 frames per second. Before the next generation consoles, the PC versus console debate was very black and white. PC was better in most ways, but more pricey. With the new technology, a strong argument can be put up for consoles, with on par technical abilities, cheaper prices, and more general conveniences than PCs. Overall, new consoles such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X are the better gaming options.

PC: The recent releases of the Playstation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series X have increased support for the next generation of gaming consoles. However, in recent years, most students at Miramonte have decided to buy or build Personal Computers (PCs) to play video games with broader capabilities. While not every PC is better than a console, people can buy or build a computer that operates quicker and more efficiently, making PCs the best gaming option. PCs or PC parts can be bought directly from companies such as Best Buy, Amazon, or Fry’s Electronics. The cost depends on how efficiently the parts allow the computer to run. For example, a student could purchase older parts and build a PC for $400, while another student could build the most advanced PC possible and spend up to $10,000. “I used to have a PS4 that I used all the time, and the thought of playing games on a computer seemed weird to me. However, I built my computer in 7th grade, and I have enjoyed being able to customize it and change it to the way I like. It also runs much better than any console I’ve used,” junior Dominic Clerici said. Along with the increased customization, those with PCs can simply upgrade individual parts of the computer instead of having to buy another console with each new technological advancement. While computers are generally more expensive at first, the usefulness and adaptability of PCs eventually make up for the original cost. PCs also allow students to develop technological knowledge through building, fixing, or improving their computer. Students can even browse the Internet or attend Zoom classes on the same device. So while a PC is more expensive than average consoles, students that don’t want a school-issued computer would save money by combining the cost of a gaming console and a laptop into a single PC. “I find playing on PC more fun, as you can play with more friends and talk to them easier than on a console. You also find and make friends that play all different types of games,” sophomore Wyatt Rose said. Friends can connect with each other using apps like Discord and Skype, entering calls or servers with voice channels on a PC. PCs have much higher capabilities than consoles, and are becoming a more common choice for students at Miramonte. While they might be more expensive at first, students should consider buying or building a PC so they can have a product that lasts longer than a console, is useful for school and other tasks, and allows them to have fun.


Students Need More Pos- Community Fights to itivity in New Semester Protect the Arctic Refuge REESE SMITH

High school is sometimes described as “the best four years of your life.” However, students today are experiencing it quite differently. With the coronavirus disrupting lives, the academic and social aspects of high school have taken a strange turn both this year and last. This dramatic change means the loss of many essentials that make up the high school experience, especially for upperclassmen. Although we have experienced many disappointments, we must stop dwelling on these losses and, instead, learn to make the best of a subpar situation. “I think the hardest thing for me was not seeing my friends as much as I usually would. I am a very social person and get lots of my energy from socializing. It was also very hard to get motivation to do anything because all I’m doing is sitting in my room Zooming,” senior Annie Eversole said. Many other students also feel dejected and bored with school, and the lack of normal upperclassmen activities only adds to this depression. Although there is no way to justify this loss, the positive takeaway is that now, more than ever, high schoolers are given the opportunity to enjoy quality time with family before they leave for college, which, for some, is merely a few months away. In the preCOVID-19 world, not many high schoolers made the choice to stay home on a Saturday night and watch a movie or play games with their families. Now, high school students can spend a night bonding with their family and not worry about experiencing FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Regardless whether this is one’s favorite thing to do on a weekend, it is important to take a step back and appreciate the opportunity. The first semester was very difficult due to a new system of online school on Zoom. This feeling of strain is not new to high school students, but the stress that accompanies total isolation from others while attempting to learn is completely different than anything students have endured in the past. The lack of social interaction, whether it be passing

friends in the halls, joking around in class, or meeting up after hours to watch a Mats’ football game causes school to feel much more taxing and unenjoyable. All of these events, many of which students looked forward to, have completely vanished. Although these experiences are greatly missed, it’s time to look forward with optimism rather than dwell on past losses. Hopefully, we can expect a bit more of these iconic high school experiences in the second semester. Although after-school events will not look the same this year, the Leadership staff and class presidents are working hard to find COVID-19 safe alternatives, so we still have something fun to look forward to. “The cancellation of junior prom was a huge bummer and we are definitely working on class bonding activities via Zoom or in-person following social distancing guidelines. We are also brainstorming alternatives for Prom, and hoping to still get together in some way, if COVID-19 becomes less of a factor,” junior class president Jack Brun said. Even after experiencing loss, the best thing to do is persevere and hope for the best. “This semester, I’m looking forward to socializing more. I am also really hoping we get to go back to school, at least with the hybrid schedule. But I’d say it is super important to focus on the positives, because it could be a lot worse,” Eversole said. Despite the social losses we will undoubtedly face during the second semester, students are remaining cheerful. Missing out on Junior Prom and Senior Ball, two of the most monumental events in high school, definitely is not going to be easy for the upperclassmen, but for now, the best we can do is try to find COVID-19 safe alternatives. The rest of our lives are out there waiting for us, and, for the time being, we might just have to make the best of a poor situation. This might not be the typical high school experience, but it’s our high school experience, and we have to make it as good as we can. The phrase, “high school was the best four years of my life,” may be a bit of an overshot anyway.

ELLIE BELSHAW, PAIGE MAYS & DEGEN NALDOZA The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, located in northeastern Alaska, is the largest wildlife refuge in the country. Dec. 18, 2020, the Trump administration announced its plan to sell the Arctic land to various oil companies, which would have destroyed the ecosystems that exist there. Fortunately, Jan. 9, 2021, @prothearctic, an Arctic Refuge activist account on Instagram, announced that no big oil companies had bid on the Arctic land, along with American banks showing no interest in financing the project, mainly because of the current low demand for oil and public criticism. Although an immediate crisis in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been averted, we must avoid issues like this in the future, elect environmentally aware officials, and continue to advocate for the correction of environmental problems. Only three small businesses partook in the bidding, and the government sold only 11 plots of land for $14 million instead of the estimated amount: $900 million for the whole region. Drilling in the Arctic would have been detrimental to the environment considering the current state of the world’s climate, including the rising temperatures resulting from global warming. According to the Wilderness Society, the Arctic Refuge’s fragile tundra ecosystem would have been destroyed by the substantial machinery, roads, and pollution caused by oil companies. Instead of prioritizing oil production, humans need to prioritize our rapidly expiring climate. Thankfully, many student activists signed petitions, sent letters to officials, and raised money to support the Arctic Refuge. Protect the Arctic, a website dedicated to conserving the Arctic land, successfully created a petition that encouraged citizens to send a total of 6.3 million letters to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, urging them to halt the energy production. Activism is crucial to guaranteeing a positive outcome

when combating worldwide problems. “By signing petitions, you create a way for multiple sources to be spread across nations, therefore, attracting other individuals from other countries to help out. While unable to physically be there, you can legally help out by contributing and signing petitions to spread awareness about situations that are briefly shown on the news,” junior Annaluna Giacich said. Some students even heard about the risks the Arctic Refuge faced on social media applications and decided to take action. “I heard about the Arctic Refuge from TikTok and decided to sign the petition because I thought it was a great cause. Seeing how many people got involved was really cool. It really goes to show how much of a difference everyone can make,” sophomore Charlie Burke said. Whether it’s posting on Instagram or announcing a protest, social media can have a major impact on the public’s awareness of an issue. Students should post to educate their followers and declare the importance of struggling issues. “I think that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is such an important piece of land that should be preserved as much as possible. To me, it seems that we should be putting time and money into renewable and sustainable energy resources and transportation as opposed to putting it towards more oil drilling,” AP Environmental Science teacher Jyllian Smith said. It was imperative that, as a community, we protected the Arctic Refuge. Although this was a remarkable win, we need to avoid potentially harmful situations similar to this in the future and protect the remainder of the Arctic land. Since the Arctic Refuge is already under enormous stress from universal climate change, drilling in the future will have irreversible consequences. We must continue to advocate for the Arctic Refuge and other environmental issues in the future, fight off big oil companies, and elect environmentally aware officials.


02/10/21 FEATURE 5


Symonds Crafts Homemade Masks To Donate KIRSTIN PARKER

Vibrantly colored rectangles of fabric lay in a neat pile alongside multiple white strips of elastic. The loud hum of a sewing machine is the only sound to be heard throughout the house. Loose pieces of thread litter the ground. Sophomore Stella Symonds sits at her desk, guiding the beginnings of a mask through her sewing machine. This blue flower print face covering will soon find a new home with either a health care worker, a homeless shelter, a friend, or will get added to Symonds’ personal collection of masks. Symonds first started crafting masks in March of 2020, right when the pandemic hit California hard, inspired to use her passion for sewing to make a difference in her community. As of the new year, Symonds has made a total of 350 masks and has donated over 100 masks. She donates them to a variety of places such as Brookdale Hospice, the United Council for Human Services, and healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente. Symonds loves giving back to her community because it makes her happy knowing she is brightening someone’s day. “After donating once, I had received a really nice phone call from the administration at the homeless shelter and they were very grateful and appreciative of the donation,” Symonds said.

Photo: Stella Symonds

Symonds’ masks cost $5 each. “People contact me, usually through texting, about the number of masks they want and their preferences. After a week or so, they come and pick them up from me,” Symonds said. A single mask can take Symonds anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes long, including the time to measure and cut the material. “First I cut the fabric and elastic. Then I line up the elastic in between the fabric and sew it together. Next I turn the mask inside out, pin the pleats and lastly sew around the edge,” Symonds said. The elastic that fits around the ears is adjustable, allowing Symonds’ masks to fit a wide range of people.


In addition to getting supplies at JOANN Fabrics and Crafts and the Cotton Patch, Symonds receives large shipments of fabrics from her great aunt. Fortunately, Symonds doesn’t need to restock frequently, but will make a special trip to the store in case she runs out of her favorite fabrics. “My favorite pattern is dark blue with small light blue and white flowers. It’s the cutest,” Symonds said. Most of Symonds’ free time is taken up by sewing masks. “I spend a lot of time making masks when I plan to donate another bunch of them. Thanksgiving break and winter break were busy times for me. Apart from donating, I try to make some every other week whether it’s for me, friends, or family,” Symonds said. Symonds enjoys giving masks as thoughtful and practical gifts for birthdays or holidays. “Stella’s masks are handmade and feature really cool fabric patterns. I’m really proud of her for helping the community by donating masks, especially during this pandemic,” sophomore Jada Hembrador said. The shinny, silver needle secures the layers of fabric with one neat stitch. Symonds removes colorful, metallic pins from the masks once the thread takes its place. She carefully cuts out more pieces in fabric, trimming the edges to keep them tidy. As the pile of finished masks grows on Symonds’ desk, the amount of people touched by her selfless actions grows as well.

Juniors Take Charge Principal Parks Works Of YouTube Channel to Earn Her Doctorate



It’s the night before a super important AP U.S. History test and you are stressing because you don’t understand any of the information you need to know. You scramble through your notes the night before, hoping to take in all the important details. None of the facts are sticking with you as you rush through reading the chapters. Nothing is working and you feel defeated and tell yourself you are going to accept the bad grade. But then you remember something: the Social Science Simplified YouTube channel. Social Science Simplified, currently run by juniors Thomas Quinnild and Arhan Misra, is an educational YouTube channel designed to provide high school students with review videos, tips and tricks for school, and other topics. There are videos for AP U.S. History (APUSH), AP Psychology, and the students plan on focusing on AP Human Geography next. The two took over the channel in the spring of 2020 from Miramonte alumni Daniel Ginsburg and Shawn Honaryar. Ginsburg and Honaryar started the channel in 2014, their junior year of high school, and have now graduated college. “Daniel and I got super excited about history our freshman year when we had Frippiat for World History, and when we took APUSH our junior year we thought creating a YouTube channel to help others would be a great idea,” Honaryar said. “We wanted the channel to continue on after we graduated college and wanted to give Miramonte students the same experience we had.” When Quinnild and Misra first took over the channel, it had 11,000 subscribers, and now, less than a year later, it has grown to an impressive 16,100. “When we first got the channel, we really underestimated how much time goes into making AP videos,” Misra said. When the students created their first video, it took 10 hours to just film a 20-minute video. Now, they can create a video in two to three hours because they have gotten used to the process and adapted along the way. The two also have to study the content they are teaching their audience about because neither of them are currently taking any of the classes that they are producing content for.

Midnight strikes. The regular feeling of exhaustion looms over, as she clicks the submission button and eliminates one less task to complete from her packed schedule. After a long, busy day of late night classes and back-to-back meetings, she realizes that this heavy work day is the new norm. Early morning starts and late night studies is a usual undertaking for Julie Parks. As a mother, wife, and high school principal, Parks adds an additional title to her roles and responsibilities. For the past three years of diligent work, Parks returned to her life as a student as she tackles her dream of earning a doctoral degree in education (EdD). After earning her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, Parks’ support changes from Bruins to Trojans as she attends online courses at the University of Southern California (USC) Rossier School of Education. Parks is excited to announce her plans to graduate in May. “It’s always been an aspirational goal for me, and something that I knew that I would want to do at some point. It’s important to me to be an expert in my field and in education, so this helps me really fulfill that and take that next step towards getting to this lifelong pursuit,” Parks said. While Parks was excited to pursue an education degree, she also acknowledged the hefty commitment that comes with following her aspirations. “Going back to school after being out of school for a while was a big decision to make. The journey really started with my husband, really motivating me and encouraging me to pursue this, and also acknowledging the new pressure and support that would be on him since we have two little kids. My decision to go back to school doesn’t just impact me. It impacts my whole family. I couldn’t have done what I did without the support of my family, because they all had to sacrifice a little bit of my time, help, and support for me to be able to do this. I feel really, really grateful for that,” Parks said. Parks specializes in a field of study pertaining both to her job as an educator and to the social aspect of education. “My program

Photo: Thomas Quinnild

“It was cool to start working on a channel that already had subscribers because you have the opportunity to learn with an audience,” Misra said. Quinnild and Misra have received some backlash from subscribers after they took over the channel, but for the most part it’s been a positive experience. Some of the original subscribers struggled to transition from “Frank” and “Abe”, the aliases Ginsburg and Honaryar used to go by on the channel, to Quinnild and Misra. Although Quinnild and Misra come out with content more regularly now than the previous owners, Ginsburg and Honaryar still produce videos from time to time. “We would love to diversify our content and make our videos a lot more personal in the future,” Quinnild said. The two students are hoping to move away from AP videos after they finish their AP Human Geography series, and move towards what they call, “one-off ” videos, which are videos with a looser structure that can be about anything. For example, the students would love to come out with a video about studying and managing time effectively in the near future. Another change they are trying to make is leaving behind their old filming methods and creating more personal ways to interact with their audience. In the past, all of the Social Science Simplified videos have been created with a Google Slides format, but now the students are working towards filming each other and editing the information onto the screen. Now, a couple of months later, you are back to where you started, unprepared for another AP U.S. History test. Instead of spending hours trying to take in information by re-reading your notes that you know you will forget as soon as you fall asleep, you remember a better resource to go to: Miramonte’s own Social Science Simplified YouTube channel. Thanks to Quinnild and Misra, you are prepared for your exam and are confident you will ace your test!

is specifically on organizational change in leadership,” Parks began. “I’m looking really specifically on perceptions of connectedness from students and parents and teachers, and how those things have been impacted by distance learning. It’s been really interesting to get the feedback on the surveys and seeing how people are connected and not connected to school right now. That’s helping me really understand the student experience and what we need to do to be able to maintain connection.” As Parks relives the student experience in her USC classes, she sympathizes with many Miramonte students. “I think one of the challenges of going into this program that I still find myself kind of popping in and out of is this idea of imposter syndrome. Am I good enough for this? Am I smart enough? I’m looking around this room and all these other people seem to know what’s going on. That’s a feeling that I know pops up for many students. It’s given me a lot of renewed empathy for that experience. The topic that I chose, which is school connectedness, for my dissertation is kind of reflective of that,” Parks said. In school, students learn more than just academics; students also learn and value life-long skills that will help them in the future. Parks’s message to students is reflective of her time pursuing the USC program: “I know that going to school for 11 years after high school is not everybody’s dream to do. But I would say that I’ve learned so much through the program that I can bring directly to my work here and also to my life. I think the thing that I would encourage students to do is to take a risk, jump into something that maybe feels a little uncomfortable and give that a try.” As Parks completes a stressful day at work, her passion for education reminds herself of futuristic goals towards improving the Acalanes Union High School District. Excited for what’s in store, Parks continues on her journey towards accomplishing her educational degree and ponders the possible routes she could follow as she nears the completion of an incredible accomplishment.


6 FEATURE 02/10/21

Zoe Petty Bakes Her Way Across Lamorinda CARLY HOSKINS

The whiteboard quickly fills up with new weekly orders, and ingredients cover the messy counter. By Friday night, after a long afternoon of mixing, pounds of cookie dough line the fridge in bowls, ready to be baked the next day. When sophomore Zoe Petty created her cookie business, she never anticipated baking four to six dozen treats every weekend, all on her own. However, Petty has persisted and managed to grow her own business (that makes some killer treats) all by herself: Zoe’s Cookies. “I think baking is really calming, but when you are making such large volumes, it isn’t always calming. I just like seeing people’s excited reactions when I deliver the cookies. Their feedback after they eat them makes me really happy,” Petty said. Zoe’s Cookies offers a variety of flavors including brown butter chocolate chip (her best seller), brown butter snickerdoodle, cookies & cream, sugar, monster (peanut butter, M&Ms, oatmeal, and chocolate chips), chocolate snowball, and gingersnap cookies. She also makes cookie bars such as brookie (brownie and cookie), chocolate pecan pie, and oatmeal fudge. Each treat ranges from $12 to $15 per dozen. “To figure out the flavors I use, I visit various baking websites. I look at the recipes and then test them out to see which are best,” Petty said. Petty uses those recipes as a basis for her ingredients and modifies them as she sees fitting. Petty’s cookies are available to order on zoes-cookies. com or by contacting her through zoescookiesaregood@, and her Instagram account @_zoescookies showcases her newest treats.

Photo: Zoe Petty

“Zoe’s cookies are incredible, and I highly recommend buying them! My favorite type are the chocolate snowball cookies,” junior Lindsey Lucas, a consistent customer of Petty’s, said. Petty started baking at a young age with her mom and grandma but has slowly grown more independent. During quarantine, with so much extra time on her hands, Petty decided it might be worth selling her creations, and Zoe’s Cookies was born! Over the past six months, Petty expanded her business and is now at around $4,000 in sales, making 3,780 cookies in total. “My most successful time was the first week of winter break because everyone was buying cookies as gifts and treats for the holidays. In a span of four days, I think I made about 60 dozen cookies,” Petty said. Petty gathers orders via her website during the week and makes the doughs on Friday afternoons. She bakes the

cookies the next day so they can be fresh when she delivers them to her customers. Petty’s sales stay pretty consistent, averaging about four to six dozen each week. Most of her customers are local families from Orinda or friends. “I really like her business because her cookies are just so good. I especially love how they are homemade and from a local business. I think it’s impressive that she was able to start this company and build it the way she has,” junior Ethan Haines, one of Petty’s customers, said. Other than her signs at Bay Area Rapid Transit and Miramonte, Petty relies on word of mouth to spread her business. As of now, Petty relies on funding from her parents to buy the ingredients, but she thinks it would be a good challenge to use her own profits to purchase ingredients now that she has a solid foundation in her business. “I love it when my sister bakes cookies because I get to ‘taste test’ (eat) them,” sophomore Matteo Petty, her twin brother, said. Petty’s family sometimes gets frustrated with having extra cookies around the house because it makes healthy eating habits hard to maintain. “I am planning on introducing Valentine’s Day cookies, as well as specialty cookies during holidays. I have considered making gluten free cookies, and I definitely want to make them in the future!” Petty said. Week by week, Petty’s cookies get even more delicious and popular. Although the process can get overwhelming and extremely time-consuming, Petty knows she has it under control and that she is making her customers happy. Her love of baking and dedication to her business make her cookies extra special, and a dozen of warm and gooey cookies from Zoe’s Cookies is sure to make anyone’s day and satisfy all possible cravings.

Orinda Gym Struggles Esports Club Plans During the Pandemic for Second Semester JONATHAN PHAM The clang of a 45-pound plate echoes through the gym with no other noise to mask it, and the room is disappointingly empty without members bustling in and out of the door. This silence is a stark contrast to the usual hustle and bustle of a gym. With the coronavirus pandemic came regulations that kept gyms from being open at entirely or at reduced capacity. After finding that they shared similar health and wellness goals, fitness oriented couple Tristan Tool and Tiffany Aubrey sought to positively influence the wellness of the community and took over In Forma Integral Fitness on June 15, 2019. Since being taken over by Miramonte Director of Track and Field Tool and yoga instructor Aubrey, the gym located across from the Orinda Library underwent many renovations. After implementing updated gym flooring, state of the art equipment, and personal training programs, the gym now faces its toughest challenge yet: staying open during a pandemic. Contra Costa County sits in the purple tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy which means that gyms and fitness centers may only remain open for outdoor use and personal training. Previously, when the Contra Costa County sat in the red tier, gyms could remain open at 10 percent capacity. At the moment, In Forma is open for personal training and group workouts with a performance coach, outdoor use of equipment, and offers virtual Zoom classes. “COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on our business. This is the worst time in the history of our industry to own a gym. We have been forced closed for almost 11 months now.

11 months of losing our ability to make money and to grow our business. Many businesses in our position have had to close their doors permanently,” Tool said. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, gyms like In Forma had no choice but to listen to government mandates and stifle their stream of income. COVID-19 restrictions cut In Forma’s revenue to 10 percent of what it was before the pandemic. “Because of the pandemic, I have seen that there are certainly less people that are willing to come to the gym and be trained. It has been hard to workout alone with no one to encourage me,” In Forma personal trainer and Miramonte senior Simon Stein said. After the pandemic, Tool and Aubrey plan on rebranding their gym to Axon Fitness and launching two new programs. One program will focus on developing youth brains and motor skills Photo: Patrik Argast while the other will focus on building custom training programs for individual athletes. “There is always a silver lining, even in the worst of circumstances. During the pandemic, we have had the opportunity to work on future programs and business ideas that we want to implement when the pandemic is over. We have some great ideas! Now, we just need this pandemic to end so we can start this new stuff,” Tool said. Regulars at In Forma prefer the communityoriented approach of their smaller gym over the corporate-oriented chain gyms. “I love how In Forma is a smaller gym and you know everybody there. It’s never busy or as packed as a gym like 24 Hour Fitness but still offers the same if not more than what big gyms offer,” senior and gym member Greg Hemming said.


You sit in your chair and put on your headset. Closing the other windows on your computer, you open up Discord, an instant messaging and voice call platform often used by gamers and other communities. Eager to talk to your friends again and discuss the upcoming month, you open up the Miramonte Esports Club’s server and click to join the voice call. At the beginning of the last school year in 2019, the Miramonte Esports Club was officially formed by current juniors James Steichen and Tate Newby. Newby is Steichen’s current vice president, with other juniors Nate Fox as treasurer and Milo Fritzen as secretary. Esports is a competitive form of video gaming that can range from recreational play to fully professional. The Miramonte Esports Club has 92 members who play video games together such as “Rocket League,” “Minecraft,” and “Super Smash Bros.” “We started this club because it provides a competitive and team environment allowing for new friends as well as some friendly competition between the club’s players and other schools in the nation through the use of the [High School Sports League],” Steichen said. The High School Esports League is a league that connects teenage gamers internationally through gaming education programs and tournaments. Though they play for recreation, the club has several teams that compete in tournaments or competitions. “Our Valorant team made the quarterfinals, and our Smash and Rocket League teams placed in the top 100 out of 854 and 353, respectively in their competitions,” Nate Fox, said. This first semester went very well according to Steichen. “We were able to get a Discord server set up, allow-

ing us to do our sign-ups, meetings, and announcements all in one place. This allowed us to have a significantly larger membership than last year,” Steichen said. “We are one of the few clubs that can actually have ordinary meetings and run normally since all of our stuff is online,” Vice President Tate Newby said. “This semester was way better than last year. We were focused, committed, and I’m proud to be part of the club.” An average meeting happens monthly, involving a check-in to see the progress of active Esports teams in the club and congratulating respective teams on their successes. It’s usually followed by some sort of announcement or presentation, whether it’s a guest speaker talking about how Esports can become a career or an announcement about an upcoming competition. “Right now, we are currently preparing for a major annual competition called the Winter Challenge. The competition started on Jan. 25 and we sent six teams to compete. Last season our Valorant team was undefeated until the quarter finals match,” Steichen said. “We believe they will be able to bring Miramonte its first Esports win of this season.” “This semester, we plan on making more teams and having people play games that they might not be amazing at but are interested in, basically to promote inclusion. T-shirts are also in the making and we plan to visit the Twitch headquarters in [San Francisco] when corona is over!” Newby said. After discussing the club’s plans, you play “Valorant” with your friends for a while. Saying goodnight to the other members, you leave the voice call after a few rounds still excitedly looking forward to the rest of the semester.


02/10/21 FEATURE 7

Students Take Action Against Food Insecurity SAMANTHA SCOTT

Across the Bay Area, families that never considered a lack of nutritious food to be a problem are turning to food banks for this basic necessity. Daily trips to the grocery store have changed to a trip to a local soup kitchen to receive free meals. Burdened with increasing unemployment rates or a shift to limited hours of work due to the pandemic, many locals question the likelihood of their next meal. An increased need for food prompts an increased need for volunteers to aid distribution efforts. Many Miramonte students recognize this and continue to help out at local food banks. Hunger has skyrocketed throughout California during the pandemic. According to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, California has seen the highest increase in food insecurity in the country, with an additional 1.9 million adults and 864,000 children facing hunger. Consequently, the number of households in the Bay Area assisted by food distribution centers nearly doubled over the last 10 months. To combat these increasing numbers, food banks such as the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank created emergency pop-ups, started delivering groceries, and expanded volunteer opportunities. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. Since COVID-19 many of our regular volunteers that are in a vulnerable age group have stopped volunteering due to stayat-home orders. We have needed to fill these shifts with much needed new and younger volunteers. Students can get involved in volunteering at the warehouse helping sort food donations. They can also organize food or donation drives to support the Food Bank during this critical time,” Nora Nicholson, Program Director of the Contra Costa Food Bank, said. “I have volunteered a few times at food banks, and it feels good to volunteer especially right now when I know so many people are in need of food. It is beneficial to recognize

to get out and do something. I also feel amazing with the knowledge that my efforts are helping families in need throughout Contra Costa County. However, there are new volunteers every day, so I try to go on the least crowded days if possible to properly distance myself and stay safe,” junior Kate Sinha said. “Our Food Rescue Program addresses a problem that every food market faces: what to do with surplus fresh food. We pick up high-quality unsold food and deliver it to over 70 organizations seven days a week. These organizations serve low-income families, isolated seniors, our unhoused neighbors, individuals with special needs, foster youth, and immigrant families,” Eve Birge, the Executive Director of White Pony Express, said. Other local social service organizations such as the Photo: Lauren Berryhill Monument Crisis Center, a family resource center this privilege and give back directly to those who live in located in Concord that provides food and education to the community. I intend to continue helping out during the individuals, families, and seniors in need, have broadened pandemic,” sophomore Fiona Hughes said, who often vol- their efforts recently. The center has more than 15,000 unteers at the Food Bank of Contra Costa. Miramonte stu- households signed up in their Food Distribution Program, dents contributed around 232 hours of service at the Food and it serves between 80 to 120 families at each distribuBank of Contra Costa in the past 10 months. tion. Miramonte students regularly volunteer at the center Local non-profit organizations such as the White Pony by bagging produce or packaging food. Express (WPE), a Pleasant Hill food rescue and delivery “During COVID-19, I have volunteered at the Conprogram, have made great strides in their distribution ef- tra Costa Food Bank to sort produce and the Monument forts and community outreach. The program operates seven Crisis Center to package food boxes for families in need days a week and saves on average 15,000 pounds of high- in the community. The best parts of the experiences were quality food from local grocers from being thrown out per seeing how many people were willing to take a risk to help day. The food is then sorted and delivered by the team of out after hearing how important it is to volunteer during volunteers and staff to dozens of organizations like shelters the pandemic when so many people are struggling finanand schools. Miramonte students have volunteered over 70 cially,” senior Grace Barmmer said. hours with the program from April 1, 2020 to Jan. 21, 2021. Approaching a drive-through food bank or pop-up These students attended a compulsory orientation session at pantry provides great relief for families. While food may be WPE to prepare for tasks around the warehouse. available for the next few meals, worry accumulates when “I have been volunteering at White Pony Express since considering the future and great uncertainty brought on the beginning of the pandemic, and it has been a great way by the global pandemic.

Nature Area Reopens Staff Spotlight: James Lathrop Does It All


Faint trickling water of the closeby creek echoes throughout the Wagner Ranch Nature Area. Large oaks shelter a garden of bountiful and varietal plants as animals scurry around the open space. The empty picnic tables lined up in the center of the nature area miss the crowded scenes of First Thanksgiving and recesses in the nature area that occurred every school year. The peaceful sounds of nature chime in the air, but the regular laughter of children is missing from the setting. As the pandemic sweeps through Orinda, the Wagner Ranch Nature Area closed itself off from the public. However, with the implementation of COVID-19 safe protocols, the Wagner Ranch Nature Area is now free for public enjoyment. “Ever since I first came to Wagner in elementary school, the nature area has always been one of my favorite places,” freshman Ava Samson said. Samson, an active volunteer at the Wagner Ranch Nature Area, takes special care of the area by maintaining the gardens and caring for the animals within the grounds. “Whenever I’m feeling stressed out or need a break, visiting the nature area is one of my escapes.” Many current students, volunteers, and other Orinda residents were excited to hear about the Wagner Ranch Nature Area reopening to the public. Due to the spreading coronavirus, there are new rules to maintain a COVID-19 safe community. According to junior Mallika Dandamudi, another nature area volunteer, “At the beginning of the pandemic, the nature area decided to only let board members volunteer on Sundays rather than leave it open to the public for safety reasons. The annual Wildlife Festival and Olive Festival were canceled, which normally are in the spring and fall. However, since the start of summer, the Nature Area has remained open to the public for volunteers.” In addition to the COVID-19 protocols, the regular crowds have changed. “It’ll be two seasons that we haven’t been able to present the programs that are such key components


Photo: Toris Jaeger

of what happens there. However, I do get volunteers on Sundays that have been just incredible. Of course the volunteer numbers are down because of the spike in the cases. I realize how much I miss everyone,” veteran Naturalist Toris Jaeger said. Hoping to continue collaborating with students in the nature area, Jaeger worked with the Orinda Union School District and the Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area to resume environmental investigations. “When we did the Saturday program it was only seven kids. It was wonderful. But I kept thinking. Seven. By the time we refinished It was 28 kids because it was only four Saturdays. And I was thinking, my goodness, there’s 2,000 students in Orinda. I’m looking forward to the day that we can get everybody back. I’d love to see programs for the middle school and for the high school, because it is a great resource we have right in our backyard,” Jaeger said. The Wagner Ranch Nature Area has developed a preservation that intends to continue teaching the community for as long as possible. “I think my claim to fame is hanging in there, you know for 42 years, and seeing all of the wonderful kids that have come through. I’m teaching the children of the children I started with. They’ve changed the world for a better place. They’ve chosen different careers to make a difference. It’s quite a gift to be able to see them leave the nature area as kind of their launching pad, and then go out into the world of difference,” Jaeger said. Although the Wagner Ranch Nature Area exhibits a different feel and look, the historic home to many still serves its initial purpose in bringing people together to enjoy nature. Masks now conceal the smiles of laughing kids, but the same uplifting joy exists.

the screen,” Lathrop said. “My time at Miramonte has allowed Kids run around the house crazily, me personally to grow a lot. It is rewarding and the baby starts to cry. Frantic emails to get to see things at a zoomed-in level, about resuming high school sports rush whether that is seeing a student thriving into his inbox. And all the while, James in their sport or thriving in school,” LathLathrop tends to his 90 students through rop said. As an alumnus of Miramonte, Zoom. How Lathrop manages to main- Lathrop enjoys contributing to the evolutain a household of three small kids, teach tion of Miramonte culture and getting to three classes of AP U.S. History, coach watch his students and players grow bethe Lamorinda Water Polo club and the cause of him. Miramonte varsity water polo team, and “Mr. Lathrop is very supportive and manage the entire Miramonte athletic interactive in class. I like how he does a program is a mystery to all of us. lot of projects that help me learn Lathrop began his career the content a lot better than as a teacher when offered just the textbook,” junior a job as a history teacher Isabel Stice said. at Miramonte around “James has a great 20 years ago. At the passion for the game, same time, his prior and he cares a lot about coach and mentor, Bill the team and the playBrown, asked him if he ers. On the pool deck, would be interested in he is very involved in the coaching the Miramonte game, and he never goes boys water polo team. Soon afdown without a fight. He has ter, he began coaching at the Lam- Photo:James Lathrop a love for the game that he orinda Water Polo Club, and after a cou- has taught a lot of us to have and we are ple of years, he started a family. It wasn’t thankful for that,” senior and captain of until a few years ago that he also took on the boys water polo team Will Coons said. the job of Athletic Director. Lathrop must deal with changes such A day in Lathrop’s life begins with get- as new rules for sports, new curriculum, ting his family ready for their day by walk- and preparing to move to hybrid learning the dog and making breakfast. Next, ing. Lathrop views his biggest challenge he begins his Zoom classes with his stu- as balancing his roles and wanting to give dents while checking in on his kids during his best in all of them. Additionally, he breaks. After school, he attends meetings, feels restricted by the separation that COassisting different high school sports with VID-19 forces him, his students, and his organizing their camps and working to- players into. wards the time high school sports start. You can find him on the pool deck, in He finishes his day spending time with the classroom, in a meeting, or on a playhis family. ground. Even with the many distractions “My favorite part of the day is any- and obstacles life throws at him, Lathrop thing with the family, especially once we manages to do the impossible and all are done with school and meetings. We while still giving his full attention and efgo outside, play basketball, and just get off fort.


8 Centerspread 02/10/21

Class of 2021 Middle Sc Audrey Allen

Walker Rhodes

Lauren Taylor

Julia Miller Chris Bruen Tate Eames Macey Dowd

Griff Hallahan

Alex Meck

Nicole Wagner

Alex Ziem

Ben Diep

Courtney Ausman

Aidan Browne

Middle School Mosts Biggest Players: Aidan Browne and Nicole Wagner Keira O’Toole

Most Serious Couple: Lucy Marken and Will hollerbach


Shortest Relationship: Grace Barmmer and Alex Meckes (1 Day) Most Likely to Rekindle in 2021: Will coons and Aia Zabetian John


02/10/21 Centerspread

chool Relationship Web Jack Lewis

Sarah Svahn

Ava Schmidtt

Rachel Lowe

Aidan Stone Peter Reeves

Simon Stein

Grace Barmmer

Hannah Mueller


Cam Reath

Mary Kate Young

Reece Clotfelter

Zach Raphael

Lucy Marken

Will Hollerbach

Will Coons

Aia Zabetian

Lanie Pritchard

Chris Strand

Adam Ting

Helena Bardsley

Alex Eversole Lagomarsino

Annie Eversole

Gio Donofrio

10 FEATURE 2/10/21


Face Masks Hinder Normal Social Interactions


ing, or if you quickly turn away and ignore that person, or if you frown, or if you just have a blank expression, these social cues are what connect multiple individuals, allowing someone to know whether they are liked and feel included.” After gathering information from other researchers, Uzuncan acknowledges that when people cover up their natural, everyday expressions, these facial

son smiles or talks to me. But, it’s definitely important to continue staying safe and keeping others around us Avoiding eye contact is the new norm. Glancing safe,” junior Kiara Kofoed said. around, she locks eyes with an old classmate. A smile Although many believe covering up an individual’s appears under her mask, but she immediately wonders, lower face can cause isolation, Uzuncan and other re“Does he realize I smiled? Did he smile back?” Embarsearchers notice that connections do not solely derassed by the awkward interaction, she quickly walks pend on areas covered by masks. In fact, according to the other direction, questioning to herself, “Why Dr. Stephen Porges, a professor of psychiatry at does it seem like I forgot how to socially interact the University of North Carolina, “All the inwith people I know?” formation regarding the ability to co-regulate is Over the past year of fighting the coronaviconveyed in the muscles around the eye.” Porges rus, many students face severe mental health notes that body language also significantly construggles, partly caused by social distancing proveys expressions that promote or impede relatocols and mask wearing. In December of 2020, tionships. Therefore, even while wearing masks, Miramonte administrators sent students a survey people still easily associate themselves with othregarding their mental health state. 50.7 percent ers without speaking. chose anxiety as a concern and nearly 30 percent While many believe face coverings pose dammarked isolation and disconnection as a relatable aging effects to one’s mental well-being, some issue. see how wearing masks may positively impact Dr. Temre Uzuncan is a mother of a Miramental health instead. “I think especially in adomonte junior and the chief psychologist at the lescence, we’re all so worried about what we look Integrated Health Psychology Training Program. like. And it’s easier to hide behind the mask so According to Uzuncan, an important factor of an that you don’t have to worry so much about your individual’s mood depends on their natural inappearance. We’re, in a sense, all in this together teractions with other people, especially relations when we wear masks,” Uzuncan said. Photo: Laura Boifort involving facial expressions. “We’re social beings. As the Miramonte community continues We’re made to attach to groups, our family, our Despite not being able to view their smiles through their masks, cautious conduct, these acts of social distancing friends. We look for social cues, or facial cues, three students collectively grin for a photo at a club event. and mask wearing have diminished interactions in order to read for inclusion from a friend or a and increased isolation for some. Even though group,” Uzuncan said. restrictions may inhibit the ability to connect with one research proves that face restrictions do not necessarily While face coverings serve a vital role in defeating the another. affect human interaction, the aspect of prolonged secluvirus, many students experience the detrimental effects Especially with facial cues, social interactions have sion has taken a severe toll on students, consequently of hiding behind a face shield or a mask. “I think one of the potential to initiate a flight or fight reaction. “Facial shaping their attitudes towards others. Although peers the biggest challenges is that our brains and our bodies expressions have a large impact on my interactions with will continue to social distance and wear masks as stuare wired to really look to people’s faces, to make sure people. Whether they’re strangers or friends, it’s defi- dents return to campus, it’s vital, now more than ever, to that we’re safe or unsafe,” Uzuncan said. “If you’re smil- nitely more reassuring and welcoming when that per- maintain connections.

Teens Invest in Stocks New Students Adjust JONATHAN PHAM

Early in the morning, before their usual Zoom classes start, a student investor catches up on financial news and analyst reports and checks up on afterhours moves in order to decide whether to buy, sell, or hold the positions in their portfolio. The market opens at 6:30 a.m. and they make their moves, while the rest of their peers are asleep. Finally, they join their academic classes and start a normal online school day, just like everyone else. Several Miramonte students took it upon themselves to improve their financial literacy and learn about investing. “Learning how to invest and investing now, while you are younger, is paramount if you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in the future. As a hard rule, when you have money, you have only two choices: to spend it today (for short term pleasure) or invest it and spend it tomorrow (for long term pleasure). You don’t need a large investment to get started: anything will do. You have another 50 years to watch your investment grow, so why not start soon?” longtime investor and computer science teacher Barry McQuain said. Though one must be 18 years old to open up a brokerage account in order to buy and sell stocks, a parent can link a custodial profile to a brokerage account for their children to use. “I started in middle school because I made some extra money from babysitting and tutoring. I had just enough to buy some silver. It’s a good way to make passive income but you need money in order to start. It’s best to ask parents or teachers for advice before you get started because with investing, the more money you put in, the bigger the risk,” senior Lanie Pritchard said. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of stocks crashed in response to the unease and economic hindrance brought on by business shutdowns and lockdowns. As a result of cheap stock prices across the board, brokerage websites saw an influx of new accounts. Brokerages Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade,

and ETrade gained a total of 1,580,000 new accounts during the pandemic, many of which Miramonte students took advantage of buying. “Personally, I got into investing because I was locked inside all summer with little to nothing to do. I think it’s a really interesting hobby and if a student has a little bit of extra money, they should definitely try it out,” junior Alex Lee said. Investors do meticulous research into companies they are interested in and make their moves accordingly. “I pick my stocks by trying to predict markets that will grow in the future. For example, in June when the pharmaceutical companies were rushing to create a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, I invested in a few of the top pharmaceutical companies before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved any of their products. I knew that if the FDA approved one of those company’s products, then the government would pour money into the company in order to get their vaccines, increasing the value of my shares,” Lee said. Even though investing is accessible to everyone regardless of age through brokerage accounts, younger Americans tend to keep thier distance from the stock market. In fact, according to a 2020 poll conducted by Gallup, within the 18 to 29-year-old demographic, only 32 percent own stocks while 61 percent of Americans older than 30 years old own stocks. Though no polls can give a number for investors under 18 years of age because minors can’t open brokerage accounts, it can be inferred that the “under 18” crowd has even less investors. A poll conducted by The Mirador Instagram of Miramonte students found that 40 percent invest in one way or another while 60 percent do not. Miramonte students sit above the national average in terms of investors. Lunch starts, the market closes at 1:00 p.m., and the student investor checks their portfolio to see how they did for the day. They close their brokerage website, satisfied with their gains for the day and how far they have come since their first investment.

REAGAN KAELLE It’s the middle of August, the stifling heat and back to school misery fills the air as you prepare for your first day at a new school. Nerves cause your heart to thunder as you imagine the overwhelming amount of unrecognizable faces and names to come, but this year is epically complex. Instead of walking to your first class you log into your Zoom account, the typical class icebreakers are forgotten, rather, you attempt to figure out your various Canvas modules. You leave class confused and alone. For new students especially, the pandemic is understandably challenging. Online learning is not a good environment for forging new friendships. Zoom classes make it difficult for students to connect, and without casual in-person interactions it is difficult to foster a sense of community virtually. “The Miramonte community has been as welcoming as one can expect in a distance learning format. It is inevitably going to be harder for me to meet strangers on Zoom than in person,” junior Grant Aung said. Aung, who enjoys basketball, chess, speech, and debate, is from Alameda High School and is new to Miramonte this year. “I have yet to experience an authentic Miramonte experience since I have only attended Zoom school. However, I will say that one significant improvement (from my old school) is that class sizes are considerably smaller. In addition, I get to participate in speech and debate, since there is a program here and there wasn’t at my old school,” Aung said. The challenges of distance learning go beyond the classroom, as many social events planned by Leadership also have to be virtual, which again limits in-person social interaction. “Leadership is helping make Miramonte more welcoming to new students by holding lunchtime activities like movies and Among Us games,” sophomore class Vice President Ella Robinson said. Miramonte students may not have new students in their classes, and in distance learn-

ing where classes determine who you see at school, students are relatively limited in the people they get to know. “I think a lunch Zoom for new students would be a great thing. It’s really hard to meet people with online school and even if one doesn’t go to the Zoom it’s nice to know that people are thinking about them and that they aren’t alone,” junior Francis Pope said. Sophomore Eva Houlihan is from Marin. She plays water polo, loves the outdoors, and enjoys hanging out with friends and her dogs. “Miramonte so far has been great and very welcoming and I can’t wait to go in person,” Houlihan said. On a more international note, junior Aya Banaja used to live in Dubai. “I moved to the U.S. in 2016 and I’ve been to a few different schools, including schools in Virginia and California, before Miramonte. I’d say the biggest difference is the community. Miramonte has a very welcoming group of students and teachers that I am extremely grateful for,” Banaja said. Although she started during distance learning, Banaja says this year has been a very positive experience. “I’m a drama and choir student and love both classes wholeheartedly; I can’t wait to start performing in-person again,” Banaja said. Similarly, junior Lesley Aparicio is from San Salvador, El Salvador,“I like to draw, watch movies with my friends, hang out with [friends], meet new people, and play video games,” Aparicio said. Despite her best efforts she has struggled to meet new people this year, “I think I just introduced myself to my teachers and I just know one girl from my English class,” Aparicio said. During these confusing and overwhelming times, many students have the benefit of a pre-established support system, friends in their classes, and mutual peers they can count on. However new students are at a disadvantage, without the opportunity to make friends and introduce themselves in person, except for the occasional Zoom breakout room. Sadly, as you log onto Zoom for second semester, many faces staring back at you through the screen remain strangers.


02/10/21 SPORTS 11


States Make Varied Decisions on HS Sports Photo: Mark Bell

The schedules of high school athletics across the country have shifted due to COVID-19. The Mirador will compare California’s decision to delay all sports until February of 2021 with the rest of America


In the 2020-2021 school year, California high school student athletes have not played a single game or match, been cheered on by their family and classmates, or experienced even a moment of one of the most fulfilling and cherished aspects of high school. In a year unlike any other, The Mirador will compare California’s decision to delay all sports until 2021 to the rest of the country. According to the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) coronavirus database, California, Oregon, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Nevada all decided to completely postpone all sports through January 2021. California originally set the fall high school season to start on Dec. 7. However, the State Department of Health delayed the release of guidelines until Dec. 15, which pushed the start of low-risk competitions to Feb. 1. “The California Interscholastic Federation and the California Department of Public Health have outlined which sports can be played within each COVID-19 county status tier and is currently using the dates for season one (fall) and season two (winter) sports, but my understanding is that North Coast Section(NCS) is currently looking into options to increase student access to sports while maintaining safety for our students, coaches, and community. We are continuing to offer sports camps at Miramonte for our students while following state, county, and district guidelines for safety,” Miramonte Athletic Director James Lathrop said. New York, Illinois, Colorado, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Connecticut all postponed high-risk sports to the 2021 season. Al-

Photo: Miramonte Boosters Club

though these states’ high-risk sports (football, volleyball, and cheerleading) were pushed back, the lower and medium- risk sports (cross country, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis) still had some form of a season in the fall of 2020. Even as the status of their winter seasons remains unclear (Connecticut, Colorado, and Maine have already delayed their winter seasons), these respective states still provided high school athletics to their student athletes in the fall season. The remaining states across the country decided to play their regular fall sport seasons, although not without their own delays and cancellations of certain sports. Michigan, Maryland, and Minnesota initially planned to have some sports moved to 2021 but reversed their decisions. A great deal of the remaining states started their seasons, but canceled their state and regional tournaments. Alabama, Wyoming, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma,

Tennessee, and Utah ended up following their normal fall season, as the majority of states that played fall sports started their fall seasons in September or October due to delays and outbreaks. “I’ve been talking to my friends in Atlanta and they’re starting their high school soccer season right now. It’s startled me, because our season has been delayed and may not even happen. I understand why this is the case considering California’s current COVID-19 situation, but it’s still disappointing,” junior and former Atlanta, Georgia resident Giri Mase said. The status of winter high school sports remains even more unclear, and some states are seeing repeated delays similar to the fall season. California’s set winter and spring seasons have already been altered, as lowrisk sports like cross country, swimming, tennis, and golf have all started their seasons. According to the California Department of Health, only one of California’s 55 counties is currently in the red tier and three are in the orange, which means only an extremely small amount of the state can participate in medium to high-risk high school athletics. Wisconsin already canceled their winter season, and districts throughout America are following suit. With rising cases across the country, the likelihood of winter athletics across the county only continues to decrease. As the country advances through the pandemic, it’s clear each state has independently made its own decision regarding the schedules of high school athletics. California’s decision to delay sports until 2021 may be controversial to some, but it’s clear the California Department of Health believes that it is the most sensible decision considering the current state of COVID-19.

Cheng Selects USAFA Skiers Adjust to Slopes CHRIS MORRISON no matter how skilled or athletic they are. He cares about team culture as much, Worrying about how he will make up if not more, than our team’s record in his test the next day, he heads to the air- games. It’s amazing how much he has acport on a Thursday afternoon in prepara- complished in only two seasons with the tion for a tournament across the country. program and I can’t wait to see what he Since freshman year, Mark Cheng, now a accomplishes over the next two,” boys lajunior at Miramonte, has prioritized la- crosse head coach Byron McGovern said. crosse above all else in order to reach his Along with impressing coaches, Cheng goals of playing at the collegiate level. shows compassion for his teammates. “He Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, is completely willing to take time out of Cheng found ways to get noticed by his day to meet up with people outside of collegiate level coaches through attend- practice and practice with them to make ing exclusive showcases and tournathem better. He is never not playing ments throughout the country. lacrosse,” junior Ethan Berndt “All the players from the said. west that get recruited, Cheng recently comthey all have to go to mitted to the United the east coast. It’s a States Air Force Acadlot of travel, a lot of emy (USAFA) to play dedication, a lot of Division I lacrosse. building chemistry Out of his top four with people that live choices, the USAFA, an entire continent West Point Academy away from you, so it’s , Harvard University, a different experience and Dartmouth Unithat taught me a lot,” versity, Cheng chose Cheng said. His best the USAFA because he friend introduced him to wants to serve his country, lacrosse in third grade, and and he also looks forward to as he progressed, the sport the education system that they Photo: Duke’s Lacrosse Club quickly became a passion. can provide. “A major benefit In his youth career, Cheng has played of the academy is that you can get an as an attackman for the Dukes Nationals, MBA [Master of Business AdministraWest Coast Starz, Fellowship of Christian tion] paid for by the government, a really Athletes, Booth Indians and Miramonte. good starting job out of college, and also His quality of play has earned him First the coaching staff they provide,” Cheng Team All-League in the Diablo Athletic said. League, NXT Showcase 2021/22 MVP, As he takes a breath and appreciand Under Armour All-America. ates where his dedication has taken him, “Mark is always respectful, hungry to Cheng refocuses and understands what learn, and friendly toward his teammates he must do to stand out at the next level.

CHRIS MORRISON As the sun peeks out from behind the mountain, a lift operator’s voice can be heard yelling at a skier to raise his mask over his nose. Across from him, another operator is seen letting single skiers on the lift two at a time. Before resorts opened back up in late 2020 after closure in March 2020, many Miramonte students worried about how social distancing guidelines would affect their ski seasons. At nearly every ski resort in Tahoe, the rules of social distancing apply primarily to lift lines and how the operators can organize the groups. Many signs read “if you travel together, ride together,” meaning skiers that arrive in groups should stick together on the lifts. No additional groups are allowed to intermingle. For bigger lifts, the operators will allow two singles to sit on opposite sides of the same lift. Unfortunately, these guidelines have led to longer waiting times for lifts. “The lift lines were longer, but it was okay because everyone was safe and I never had a feeling I’d get COVID-19,” junior Samuel Quinnild said about his experience at the Squaw Valley Resort. Along with the lift rules, most Tahoe resorts closed or placed restrictions on inperson dining to any attendees, forcing skiers to pack their own meals or snacks for the day. However, social distancing guidelines at most Tahoe resorts do not include capacity limits nor correlate with lower attendance. Resorts in Colorado and a variety of other states have enforced capacity limits, but the Tahoe ski resorts have not

chosen to do so. Despite the pandemic, some Miramonte students were still able to spend the holidays in Tahoe with their families. “We went to Northstar, and there were a lot of families there and maintaining their distance, but still a lot of people,” senior Lucy Marken said. Every Tahoe resort restricted in-person ticket purchasing, forcing skiers to buy their tickets online in advance. Meant to curb the possibility of unexpected crowds, this rule did not have a noticeable effect on attendance. Attendance has actually risen recently, as snowstorms have furthered the demand for online tickets. Despite concerns of crowding and spreading the virus, Miramonte students were reassured to see the other skiers maintaining social distancing, “I was only concerned about waiting in lift lines, but the day I went wasn’t crowded at all so it was okay,” sophomore Tahra Minowada said. Skiing involves social distancing through the nature of the sport, so restrictions are inconsequential to the activity. In general, resorts in Tahoe only require masks in the lift lines or near the lodge, but not while skiing. The lift operators and other employees of the Tahoe ski resorts constantly check and ensure that skiers are wearing masks while in the lift lines and around the mountain. While lift lines may be a bit of a frustrating experience, skiing proves to be worth the trouble for local families and remains mostly unaffected by COVID-19 restrictions. Keeping their social bubbles strict and safe, Miramonte students pack into cars with friends and family, excited to keep their annual skiing traditions alive.

12 SPORTS 02/10/21


Quarterback Russell Diep Takes Command

After playing football for schools across California, quarterback Russell Diep ‘21 transferred to Miramonte. Diep is the Miramonte starter for his senior year and brings stability to the position HENRY HILL

in the midst of a pandemic, is no easy feat. Diep has been able to make a smooth Looking down the field, quarterback transition to Miramonte-life due to his Russell “Russ” Diep ‘21 identifies a posability to communicate with his new classsible target. Wide receiver Sam Ross ‘22 is mates, teammates, and coaching staff. “In located nearly forty yards away from Diep, order to build relationships with my teamcompletely across the field. Sensing presmates, the first thing is just communicasure, Diep sprints to his right as he motions tion, making sure everyone’s doing what to Ross to run deeper to beat the coverage they need to do. As a leader, I need to be of a lurking safety. While still on the run, a good role model. I’ve got big targets like Diep launches the ball to Ross, who just Sam Ross ‘22, Calvin Dakis ‘22, and Jamebroke free past the safety. As Ross catches son Braitberg ‘21. Every day it’s just trying the ball in stride for a touchdown, a whistle to set a good example, and just keeping in blows, signaling a water break. The nowtouch with the coaching staff and everybewildered team gapes at Diep, who casuone,” Diep said. ally strides off the field as if nothing just Diep’s attributes on the field speak for transpired. themselves: he runs a 4.68-second 40-yard The new varsity quarterback’s journey dash, can throw the ball 65 yards, and has to Miramonte has been anything but conexperience playing for one of California’s Photo: Wendy Patrick ventional. Born and raised in Studio City, Russell Diep ‘21 throws a pass to wide reciever Calvin Dakis ‘22. Miramonte’s best football teams at De La Salle. Diep’s California, Diep attended Notre Dame reciever core will be crucial for Diep and the Mats in the upcoming 2021 season. new teammates at Miramonte speak not High School in Sherman Oaks, California only of his immense talent but his ability to Miramonte when the season resumes and will face the his freshman year. He moved to the Bay lead and make an immediate impact. “Russ Area the summer before his sophomore year and began difficult job of replicating the success of former Mira- has been a great addition to our team so far. He is alattending De La Salle High School in Concord, Cali- monte quarterback Matt Meredith ‘20. In only a sea- ways willing to put in extra time and encourages others fornia. Diep started for the De La Salle junior varsity son and a half as the starting quarterback, Meredith to do so as well,” Braitberg said. team in his sophomore season and put up phenomenal threw for over 4,500 yards and 50 touchdowns, leaving Diep has faced the difficulty of attending three high numbers as he led the Spartans to a 9-0 record. By the big shoes to fill. Russ will add a new dimension to the schools in a span of four years. While some may see end of his sophomore year, Diep was pulled up to play Miramonte offense, as his speed and ability to make the negatives in this constant transition, Russ says he’s for the prestigious varsity squad. Russell spent last sea- plays on the run will be a valuable addition. Although grateful for what he’s learned in each of these unique son backing up De La Salle quarterback and Sacra- star receivers Reed Callister ‘20 and Tanner Zwalen settings. “Honestly, it’s just created a lot of more opmento State commit Dorian Hale ‘21, who’s currently ‘20 graduated, Diep will have a plethora of talented re- portunities, meeting new people. I’ve made a lot of new ceivers to work with this year and continues to build great friends and have still been able to keep in contact rated as a three-star prospect by 247 Sports. When weighing his options for his senior season, chemistry with the unit. “Russ is a super good leader with my old friends through Snapchat and Xbox. It’s Russ decided that transferring to Miramonte would and quarterback. He encourages us receivers to come been a nice transition and I’ve been able to make a lot give him the best opportunity to succeed both on the early to practice and do routes. I think with his skill of friends at each stop of the way,” Diep said. football field and in the classroom. “I would say the and leadership we will be a much stronger team,” reIf a football season does indeed happen, expect Rusbiggest factor to me transferring was football, obvious- ceiver Fletcher Simon ‘22 said. Miramonte head coach sell Diep to make a huge impact for the Mats. He may ly, the Miramonte offense just fit my play style. I’m a Jack Schram has already altered his playbook, install- only be attending Miramonte for a year, but Diep has dual-threat and De La Salle’s offense is predominantly ing plays in the veer formation to complement Diep’s already made a profound impact upon the program. a running one and it just didn’t really fit me,” Diep said. distinctive skill set. Diep is ready to elevate the Mats to the next level with Transferring to a new school senior year, let alone his leadership and talent. Russ is expected to make an immediate impact at

Athletes Travel Out of State for Competition

LAUREN CUNNINGHAM ball.” Volleyball is a popular traveling sport, and many athletes plan to travel High school athletes across the counout of state from February to June to try are devastated due to COVID-19 participate in tournaments. Julia Berg restrictions on practices and tourna‘23 is a member of the Miramonte varments. Unfortunately for athletes in the sity volleyball team at and plays for Red Lamorinda community, California has Rock Volleyball Club. Berg hasn’t travexperienced some of the highest numeled out of state to participate in any bers of cases per capita across the countournaments yet, but she hopes to soon. try, and Governor Gavin Newsom has “I miss the game and competing with implemented strict guidelines. While my team,” Berg said. Berg’s club team this may have prevented California athwas planning to play their first tourletes from participating in sports within nament of the year in February in Las their state, many Miramonte athletes Vegas, but reversed their decision. “Red participated in sporting events by travRock decided not to go to the tournaeling out of state for competitions. ment because of the rising cases and Varsity water polo player Donovan they wanted to make sure our players Davidson ‘22 was eager to get back in and coaches stay safe,” Berg said. She is the pool and play full-contact games. planning to attend a different tourna“It’s upsetting that we aren’t able to play ment in Las Vegas with her club team games in California, especially if you in late March. Photo: Donovan Davidson are an athlete trying to get recognized Many lacrosse athletes ventured outMiramonte water polo players Donovan Davidson ‘22, Owen Van Stralen ‘22, and by colleges,” Davidson said. Along with side of California to participate in tourCharlie Engs ‘23 attend a Utah travel tournament with Lamorinda Water Polo Club. being a starter on the Miramonte team, naments. Jake Disston ‘23 played on Davidson plays for the Lamorinda Water Polo club. No contact is allowed during Miramonte’s junior varsity lacrosse team last year, and traveled to Denver, Colorado club practices, and in order to play a game, the athletes must travel out of state with his club team, ADVNC East Bay, in early November for a tournament. “The where regulations are looser and competitions against other teams are permitted. tournament consisted of smaller brackets and longer games, so the amount of teams Davidson traveled to Dallas, Texas in early December to participate in the Tony we played against was less,” Disston said. Along with these precautions, parents Azevedo Invite-Only Camp. The Azevedo Camp required attendees to take a CO- could not sit on the sidelines to watch the games to prevent potential spread of the VID-19 test two days before arriving at the tournament, and each athlete had to get virus. Despite the restrictions, Diston still enjoyed the experience. “I’m really glad their temperature taken prior to entering the pool. “I played my first games since we were able to play somewhere and it was honestly more fun to travel out of state,” early March and I had so much fun doing so,” Davidson said. He and his club team Disston said. attended a tournament in late January in Saint George, Utah, one of the team’s first Soccer players have faced the same issues during the pandemic. Peyton Mays ‘22 contests since the pandemic. played on the Miramonte junior varsity soccer team last year and plays club for the Davidson was not the only Miramonte athlete to leave the state for sports. Jack Walnut Creek Soccer Club. Mays was supposed to travel to Phoenix, Arizona back Brun ‘22, a member of Miramonte’s varsity baseball team, traveled to Arizona in in December with her club team, but many of her teammates didn’t feel comfortmid-November to participate in a tournament with a combined team of the Bay able going. “Personally I think it wouldn’t have been a smart decision to go to a Area United Baseball Club and the East Bay Bulls. “Everyone on my team that tournament when cases are rising, especially because we would have played teams traveled to Arizona wore masks during the games and took proper safety precau- from all over the U.S.,” Mays said. Mays and her club team plan to travel to Las tions,” Brun said. “I would definitely travel out of state again if I could play base- Vegas, Nevada in March for a tournament, but nothing is set in stone.





Students Predict New Year Fashion Trends REESE SMITH

After the insane year 2020 was, I think we can all agree, 2021 has to be astronomically better. Now, I know, nobody wants to think about the chaos of 2020 anymore, but to truly get past it and head into 2021 on the right foot, we must avoid all disasters, especially those pertaining to fashion. But don’t worry! With the help of a few Miramonte students, we’re here to clue you in on what we can expect from the fashion world this year. “With everyday fashion I feel like shoulder pads in jackets might make a return, as well as matching print sets. With accessories I think we’ll see a decrease in tote bags as smaller bags come into fashion that can be used to contrast colors in an outfit,” junior Bridget Mills said. Trust us, if you needed someone to be your personal stylist, Mills would be the girl to hire. Being the fashion enthusiast she is, and having the impressive closet she does, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these trends come to life this year. I anticipate we will see a lot of layering, patterned jeans and pants, gold jewelry overthrowing silver, possibly some faux fur and leather coats, pink making a comeback (at least in my wardrobe), and alligator everything. I also think that colorful, chunky rings will come into popularity because I am starting to see influencers on social media purchase and advertise them more. My predictions arise from the outside influence of social media, as well as a personal perspective on what items I love and am hoping to see. “My 2021 fashion predictions include lots of mixed, vibrant patterned outfits, chunky rings,

Photo: Lauren Anthony

Photo: Peyton Mays

Photo: Samuel Quinnild

tights under dresses and skirts, and fashion ‘inspo’ from places like Barcelona while also incorporating some Y2K, for example hairstyles and low rise denim,” sophomore Lauren Anthony said. Anthony is another girl I would trust with my life and my closet; I put my entire faith behind these predictions. “I would probably say oversized puffers and jackets from North Face, I think more people are going to start wearing rings for sure, vertical stripes, and maybe some graphic sweatshirts,” junior Samuel Quinnild said, in regards to what men should expect to see this upcoming year. “I feel like designer handbags and satchels will become more popular for guys, and a lot of people will want Kanye West’s new shoe release. I also think more guys will start to wear dresses and more typically ‘feminine’ clothing, due to the influence of Harry Styles,” sophomore Nic Webber said. I definitely agree with both Quinnild and Webber. There is already a noticeable trend correlating to Quinnild’s statement on the oversized North Face puffers and jackets, for both men and women, and I don’t see this coming to an end anytime soon. Similarly, touching on what Webber mentioned, I agree that we should be expecting to see a more ‘‘feminine’’ aspect of men’s clothing and fashion, due to people’s growing acceptance of others wearing what they want and breaking gender normalities. All in all, it should be an interesting and exciting year in the world of fashion, and I, for one, cannot wait to see it all come to life, especially after staying home and rocking sweats this past year.

Valentine’s Day Choir Grams Adapt Virtually MICHELLE ZHOU

Decked out in colorful costumes, the Miramonte Chamber Choir bursts through the doors, interupting the surprised class to seranade a lucky student. It’s Valentine’s Day, a time for Miramonte students to cherish the long-lasting tradition of Choir Grams. However, with the ongoing pandemic, events have been altered for the special date of Feb. 14, and choir grams will be perfomrmed virtually this year. Banging on doors in colorful costumes and interrupting classes to anonymously serenade friends or a special someone won’t be the same. Typically, students would purchase a Choir Gram for a friend or staff member during lunch, selecting the male or female group and song of their choice. This year, Choir Grams will be free, and available to more than just students and staff. Anyone can sign up to get a Choir Gram for their parents or alumni. “We will definitely miss pounding on the doors and screaming and interupting class but we’re glad we could still cary on the tradition,” senior Gianna Capozzi, a member of the the Chamber Choir, said. Since Valentine’s Day is on a weekend, Choir Grams will be virtually shown on Thursday, Feb. 11. Starting Feb. 1, students can sign up using the link found on Miramonte Choirs’ Instagram and on a Canvas announcement. “Considering this year has been tough for so many, I figured we would make it free and available to anyone who wants to send one,” choir teacher Meredith Hawkins said.

Although Choir Grams may look a bit different this year, Hawkins made sure the age-old tradition continues. “After the singers are done learning and recording their parts, I will edit them together to sound like a choir. Then we are making videos that I will send to the teachers. Each teacher will get a list of who in their class received a Choir Gram and which video they should play for the recipients,” Hawkins said. After spending hours practicing, members of the Chamber Choir would typically spend the day going from classroom to classroom singing a variety of songs about love. This year’s songs include “Careless Whisper”, “All Of Me”, “I’m Yours”, “Fallin’”, “I Say A Little Prayer For You”, and “Be My Baby”. Choir Grams are a true Miramonte tradition, and students and teachers alike have fond memories of this event. “I remember last year the Choir Gram guys banged on the door so Photo: Miramonte Choirs loud and screamed ‘Choir Grams’! It was so fun watching people get embarrassed,” sophomore Hanna Nguyen said. Although the in-person experience won’t be the same, its spirit will be carried through. “I will miss the blushing chosen one in the chair in the middle of the half-moon surrounded by the colorful and spirited and talented singers,” English teacher Anne Nastor said. Choir Grams may be different this year and embarrassing friends won’t be the same, but it will still be a continued tradition at Miramonte that students and staff can still enjoy. “Virtual grams bring love and embarrassment too, so we will take what we can get this year,” Nastor said.



YO MATS: The Mirador’s Fresh Satirical Segment

Students Must Re-learn Basic Social Skills

Hybrid schooling is on the horizion and due to the pandemic, basic human interactions are disappearing, making typical interactions between high schoolers even more awkward than ever

ALEXA GUTU The hybrid learning model is ready to be implemented, but there is no end in sight for remote learning. No matter when the hybrid schedule is finally put in place, there is much for students to re-learn upon their return to semi-normal schooling. It’s especially important for students to be made aware of these issues and to relearn important social skills before returning to the salmonpink hallways of Miramonte. Experts offer advice for students returning to school that want to brush up on social skills and re-learn appropriate forms of interaction and communication. “Due to the long period of time spent away from school, social interactions will definitely be different,” Sasha Byers, founder of the Zoom Recovery Clinic which helps treat Zoom-induced burn out, said. “I’ve seen many cases of intense burn out, especially in teens, and it takes a while to re-establish their social skills.” The student body has formed new habits in light of remote learning that require correction. It is expected that many students have lost practice using social skills. It may take even longer for these types of social interactions to feel normal again. Here are just a few social behaviors that should be addressed PRIOR to school reopening EYE CONTACT: Making eye contact and holding normal conversations will be massive challenges upon returning to school, and will take months to achieve correctly. According to a study by the National Association of Social Interaction, over 80 percent of teenagerss have been affected by extended online schooling, with 70 percent struggling to make eye contact and 78 percent struggling to speak and hold conversations after numerous months of being muted and having their cameras turned off in school video calls. New programs around the nation are being created in order to assist the new wave of social anxiety caused by long term isolation. Not only will conversations take time to get used to, but everyday skills that haven’t been used in months will take time to re-develop. “I haven’t made eye contact with any-

conversations. I just don’t know if I’m ready for that yet,” Walker said. Many other students will have similar issues, and in order to have a normally functioning school environment, students need to learn to have in-person conversations and fast. ZOOM HABITS: Zoom calls have enabled students with new freedoms as they work from home. Going back to school will be a big change, and students will have to get used to a whole new environment. “I’m not ready to go back to school. It means I’ll have to ask for permission for everything, going to the bathroom, eating food, etc. When I’m at home, I can go grab food whenever I want, I can take classes in bed in my pajamas everyday, I can multitask during Zoom calls and treat my classes like podcasts. I’m not really willing to give all that up,” senior Andre Newman said. FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: Another facet of inperson conversation that will be tough are facial expressions. Facial expressions hold a huge amount of importance.“During quarantine, I laughed at something my friend said. She had her mask on so I couldn’t really see her face, and her voice was kind of muffled. She started crying and hasn’t talked to me since, and I still have no idea what she said,” freshman Sarah Richardson said. A poll taken by the California Facial Expressions Comic: Reese Whipple Coalition revealed that conversations are 64 percent more awkward, 80 percent of which are caused by long one in months. Once I made accidental eye contact with a silences from attempts to decipher other people’s emostranger in the grocery store, and I almost cried because it tions through a mask. This is a big issue, may cause huge felt so awkward,” sophomore Janet Wilson said. misunderstandings, and even extend classes past their allotted times due to conversational error and confusion. IN-PERSON CONVERSATIONS: “I talked to “My biggest tip for students returning to school is to my cousin two months ago for Thanksgiving. It was the audibly state your emotions and tone of voice when speakfirst time I saw another student in person for about eight ing to reduce confusion. For example, when frustrated with months. At some point in the conversation I went mute an assignment, tell your teacher ‘I have angry emotions, and completely stopped talking. I think I forgot I was hav- and my face looks frustrated…’ and then proceed with ing an actual conversation where I can’t just mute myself,” what you want to say. It may take some time to get used to, senior Matthew Walker said. but will allow you to clearly communicate while wearing a Walker expects this to be a big issue when he returns to mask,” Ned Jacobs, lead psychiatrist at the Student Relaschool. “In-person school will require me to have a lot of tions Psychiatry Group said.

Try Some of the Bay’s Best Mexican Cuisine AIDEN BOWEN

or dinner spot where you can’t go wrong with whatever you order.

To the dismay of Miramonte students, the Lafayette staple and popular Mexican restaurant El Charro closed on Jan. 1 due to the COVID-19 dining restrictions. However, The Mirador has you covered with this list of alternative restaurants around the Bay to grab some local and delicious Mexican food!

Al Pastor Papi - San Francisco - Al Pastor Papi is a food truck that moves

La Taqueria - San Francisco - Deemed one of the best burritos in SF, you

can find La Taqueria always bustling on Mission Street. Call 10 minutes ahead, order a super burrito and agua fresca, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Their burritos consist of only beans and meat (or guacamole too, if you go “super”) so you wont get scammed with a burrito full of just rice.

Taqueria La Perla - Pacifica - One of the best Mexican spots in Pacifica, Taqueria La Perla is a great post-surf burrito spot. If you do happen to find yourself going to and from Gray Whale or Pacifica Beach, stop by La Perla and get some good Mexican food to enjoy on or by the beach.

around to different spots in San Francisco on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. They serve up traditional and fresh Mexican flavors ranging from their classic Mexico City style tacos to their award winning burrito. Try their classic Al Pastor taco (pork marinated in spices and roasted on a skewer) or their crispy taco with melted cheese.

Tortilleria El Molino - Concord - Tortilleria El Molino is a traditional

and bustling tortilleria (a place that specializes in making tortillas but most times serves food) on Monument Blvd. in the back of one of Concord’s many strip malls. The restaurant serves up delicious tortillas and great sopes (thick bowl shaped corn tortillas with beans, meat, cabbage, tomato, and cheese) for the price of $2.99. This is a great, cheap, and fast place to pick up some food if you’re nearby. Nothing here tops $10 so if you’re in a pinch, this is a perfect place to get some grub.

Picante - Berkeley - A delicious Mexican restaurant in Berkeley with fresh

tortillas and chips, that is a great place to grab some dinner. From Oaxaca to Mexico City, Picante is a fusion restaurant that serves traditional and Americanized dishes.

Tacos Sinaloa - Oakland/Berkeley - A food truck in Oakland with other

restaurants across Oakland and Berkely, Tacos Sinaloa is a restaurant that serves traditional street tacos with great flavor. With $2 tacos and $9 burritos, it’s one of the few cheap yet delicious Mexican restaurants in the Bay. With a wide range of meats at their restaurant, you can stay simple with carne asada or chicken, or be adventurous and go for cabeza (cow head) or lengua (cow tongue).

Cholita Linda - Oakland - Cholita Linda is a Latin American restaurant

located on Telegraph Ave. in Oakland that serves up everything from lechon (pulled pork shoulder) sandwiches to their famous baja fish tacos. If you need some groceries too, you can head to the Temescal Farmer’s Market for some organic produce and stop by Cholita Linda’s stand after you’re done. Cholita Linda is a great lunch

Photo: Aiden Bowen

Mouth-watering baja style fish tacos and a Papito sandwich from Cholita Linda.



Music Industy Icons Face Off: Swift v.s. West A rivalry dating back to 2009 resurfaces, as a presidential campaign, released phone call recordings and reopened wounds reignite the anomosity; students weigh in on who should come out victorious

SOPHIA ACEVEDO The drama began on Sept. 13, 2009 at the Music Television (MTV) Awards at the Radio City Music Hall in New York. 19-year-old Taylor Swift had just beat Beyoncé for Best Female Video award for her country-pop teenage anthem “You Belong With Me” when rapper Kanye West jumped on stage and interrupted her midacceptance speech. Entertainment Tonight captured a booing crowd, Swift exiting the stage in tears, and West

Photo: GOOD

gesturing towards Beyoncé in pure oblivion. From that day forward, fans of West and Swift have continued to argue which one is better, disregarding the fact that they produce music for entirely different audiences and genres. But that’s not stopping anyone; in a close and very split poll on The Mirador Instagram, 49 percent of participants voted for Swift while 51 percent voted for West, with the rapper beating pop-star Swift by one vote. Miramonte students who’ve kept up with the on and off feud have taken a strong stance between the two artists. “I’ve been a big fan of Taylor Swift since I was little, mainly because she is able to influence so many young people, not only from her music but through her actions as well, hence her success. I thought that what Kanye did at the MTV awards a while back was just disrespectful and shows the type of person he is, whereas Taylor has shown her respect for others countless times before,” junior and avid T-Swift fan, Ava Lagaay said. In February of 2016, West released the track “Famous”, which, according to Billboard, includes a line that sexualizes Swift and implies that he made her famous after the

incident at the MTV awards. After the line was criticized, West defended it on Twitter, saying he was complimenting and actually quoting the pop star. “I called Taylor and had an hour long convo with her about the line, and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings,” West Tweeted. Swift’s representatives responded back saying that she was not aware of the line and cautioned West about releasing a song with a “strong misogynistic message.” West didn’t seem to take her advice into account, re-

Photo: Indie Lee

leasing the music video for “Famous” which includes a naked wax figure of Swift. July 17, 2016, West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, took to her husband’s defense and released parts of West and Swift’s recorded phone calls on Snapchat that seem to uphold their claim that the “Famous” lyrics were indeed Swift-approved. In the recordings, Swift appears to say that the lyric in question was a “compliment” and that she planned on telling reporters that he had her blessing. The controversy reignited in March of 2020 when the full phone call was released and Swift fans claimed that the recording backed up her side of the story. The pop star retaliated by defending herself on Twitter and releasing her album “Reputation” on Nov. 10, 2017 with the debut single, “Look What You Made Me Do” which includes lyrics that negatively reference West. “Reputation” also features another West diss track, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” where Swift sings about the rapper stabbing her in the back. Many Swift fans also interpreted her use of snake memorabilia throughout the Reputation tour as a response to Kardashian’s namecalling on Twitter.

Various students tend to look past the incident and say that it does not define the artists. “Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift’s speech years ago and they’ve both grown as people since then. I doubt Kanye intended to shame Taylor, he just wanted to acknowledge Beyonce’s music video. As for his song “Famous”, I bet it was more of a publicity stunt,” junior Clemens Van Dongen said. After West’s announcement that he would be running for president in the 2020 election, Swift fans across the nation took to social media to endorse their idol. The of-

Photo:Big Machine Records

ficial Billboard site states that fans begged Swift to run against the rapper in November, jokingly suggesting that President Joe Biden should swap Swift for his vice president in the election. Much to the dismay of her avid fans, U.S regulations state that presidential candidates must be at least 35 years old. Some students choose to focus on the music aspect rather than the past actions of the two artists. “I prefer Kanye over Taylor just because I like his music more but I like Taylor more as a person. I used to really look up to Kanye, but not so much recently because I think he’s changed a lot. Nonetheless, I’ll always love his music,” sophomore Emma Moltayner said. According to the official website of the Grammy’s, West has won 21 Grammy awards while Swift has won ten. However, Swift’s record sales surpass that of West, with more than 50 million albums and 150 million singles sold globally. The Miramonte student body’s debate on who is more musically talented is justified as the stars share a large amount of accomplishments in the entertainment industry.

JONATHAN’S STOCK TALK: New Year New Buys JONATHAN PHAM As a new year and fiscal quarter begins, many investors are planning for the coming year, locking in gains from 2020, or are just starting their investment portfolio. Plans for mass vaccination and business reopenings spark high hopes for the coming months. Smart investments now will create a sizable profit once life begins to go back to normal. Here are some companies I predict are primed to perform in the coming months. Tesla(TSLA): The bottomline is that Tesla is grossly overvalued as it is now. Trading at around 170 times its projected earnings, Tesla’s stock price has been hyperinflated by one thing: hype. Due to a combination of stigma and publicity generated by the company’s controversial CEO Elon Musk, Tesla’s fan base grew bigger and bigger and its fans further amplified the hype. However, just because the electric car manufacturer is overvalued does not mean that there is not money to be made. The hype surrounding Tesla does not look like it will be dying down anytime soon. Tesla should continue to make investors money for the next few months however that assessment seems quite uncertain on the scale of years. With their lack of a substantial edge on competitors and more and more electric cars coming soon from newer companies such as NIO and Li Auto, Tesla may not hold onto their dominance in the electric car market.

Photo: Jonathan Pham

Hasbro(HAS): Hasbro is a multinational toy and boardgame company. The previous year’s lack of blockbuster films from Marvel or Disney left Hasbro with lesss source material for their toy tie-ins. As a result, Hasbro’s stock price has not fully recovered. This puts Hasbro at ae relatively low price for the time being. However, Hasbro is a very strong position to bounce back. With hopes for

vaccinations high, the movies that could not release in theaters last year will release this year, giving Hasbro a strong set of movies to release alongside their toys. Adobe(ADBE): Responsible for products such as Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and more, Adobe is in a position to perform well in the near future. Adobe keeps its lineup of widely used programs up to date with current consumer needs such as working from home. Providing a subscription based service that is almost universal in schools, offices, and homes, Adobe ensures very consistent cash flow from month to month. Even in a post pandemic world, Adobe will not be going anywhere as their programs will continue to be widely used and continue to generate a steady stream of cash. Moderna(MRNA): Unlike the other stocks on this list relying on recovery, Moderna will be spearheading the effort to bring life back to normal. Moderna is a biotechnology company focused on the development of mRNA vaccines and therapies. After clinical trials deemed their COVID-19 vaccine 94.1 percent successful, the FDA approved an immediate delivery to the United States government. Needless to say, a vaccine is in high demand and with just a few other options available, Moderna is in a very strong position as they work out deals with governments around the world and sell off their vaccines as fast as they can make them.



2021 Netflix Review: Best Shows and Movies


“Bridgerton” (3.5 stars)

“Cobra Kai” - Season 3 (2.5 stars)

“Marriage Story” (4 Stars) A married couple struggles to endure the hardships of falling out of love and getting a divorce. Scarlett Johansen and Adam Driver push to save their friendship while losing their connection with one another. The award-winning movie definitely deserves a high rating, not only because of the amazing acting that makes you feel a part of the intense highs and lows the characters experience, but the attention to detail throughout the movie. You can find yourself laughing one second, then crying another. The realistic representation of a divorce is greatly portrayed. Overall I recommend watching this movie.

“Superbad” (5 stars)

A Netflix Original series, “Bridgerton” is a blast from the past, literally. Set in Regency-era England, young Daphne, the Bridgerton family’s beloved sister and daughter, enters the marriage market. A complex story of love, wealth, betrayal, scandal, and gossip, the Bridgerton family experiences a whirlind of emotions. This show was riveting with a complex storyline and plot. “At the end of the show I caught myself using a British accent!” freshman Michelle Bradley said. The plot was a bit cheesy at times, and the gossip blog was an approach that could’ve been avoided, but overall, we recommend watching if you are looking for an interesting show.

In the continuation of the story “Karate Kid’’ in the series “Cobra Kai”, the rivalry between Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso continues. This show follows the adventures of high school students in the art of Karate under their master Johnny. This show isn’t necessarily the best, although it could be different for other viewers. It was really cheesy, and the acting was really bad, making it hard to watch. However it deserved props for its interesting plot, and creative continuation of the classic “Karate Kid” movie. However, the iconic film should’ve been left alone, because it is so hard to live up to this movie.

Seth and Evan, seniors in high school, plan to end their last year with a bang. The two experience wild adventures in order to create memories that will last a lifetime. Netflix did us all a favor by adding this movie, as it is definitely one of the funniest to ever exist. However, warning, this movie includes some very heavy topics including foul language, partying, sexual content, and more that can be alarming to certain viewers. “I recommend ‘Superbad’ because it is a funny and entertaining movie to watch with your friends,” junior Ayyan Gohar said.

“17 Again” (3 stars)

“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (4 Stars)

In a small town in Iowa, Gilbert ( Johnny Depp) faces the difficult decision of deciding between taking care of his autistic brother Artie (Leonardo DiCaprio) or spending time with a girl who opens his eyes to new possibilities. This movie is definitely a tear jerker, and the acting is truly amazing. However the story plot is all over the place and it seems like there is something missing within the movie, there needed to be a stronger conflict between the choice of his brother and love interest. “I really liked this movie and thought that the actors did a really great job with the role, I would definitely recommend it,” junior Alex Bardsley said.

Mike, a former high school basketball star, experiences a midlife-crisis and wishes that he could go back and fix his mistakes. When he wakes up in his 17-year-old body, he is able to do just that, but with a few twists along the way. This movie is mediocre, with a somewhat weird and cheesy plot, however it’s a good watch. The exceptional cast including Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Sterling Knight makes the movie 10 times better. I would suggest watching if you are looking for background noise while cleaning your room, or if you’re just really bored.

Photos (left to right, from top to bottom): IMDb, Research Gate, IMDb, Wikipedia, YouTube, Clean Media Works

Which Song Best Describes Your Love Life? ERIN SMITH

Single or Taken Go Out or Stay In

Friendship or Relationship Personality or Looks

Loyal or Kind TV or Movies

Cats or Dogs

Daring or Cautious

Rom-Coms or Sad Movies

Does height matter? NO or YES

Country or Pop

“Count on Me” -Bruno Mars

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” -Randy Newman

“Wannabe” -Spice Girls

“What Makes You Beautiful” -One Direction

“Thinking Out Loud” -Ed Sheeran

“You Belong With Me” -Taylor Swift

Currently, you are not looking for a relationship. You are focusing on yourself for the time being. You rely heavily on your best friend because you know they will always have your back. You care about the people closest to you very deeply and have a very closeknit group.

You want to be liked by everyone and you have a large friend group of different types of people. You are taking a break from relationships, but have your eye on one of your longtime crushes. In your future there is a possibility that you will fall in love with one of your closest friends.

You are either in a relationship or want to be in a relationship, but you will not let it affect your friendships. You are not afraid to speak your mind and love taking risks. You are a loving person, but you are not looking for a long-time relationship right now.

You are either in a relationship or looking for one. You always see the best in people and work effortlessly to make your loved ones feel special. Once you find the person you love, you will never break their heart and will always be there for them. Your true love may be the person you least expect.

You will fall in love at first sight. Your relationship may be rocky due to personality conflicts, but you make compromises so that your relationship stays afloat. You are working on deepening your connection and bettering your understanding of oneanother.

You live for a perfect romance. You have been in a relationship for a while and enjoy watching movies with your loved one. You might have had some rocky patches, but in the end your relationship became stronger and you realized your true feelings for each other.

“Drivers License” -Olivia Rodrigo

You are in a relationship, but you aren’t sure how long it’s going to last. Lately, there has been a lot of conflict and it seems as though you are growing apart. You’re trying to make the situation work and it may just take some time. If you truly love this person you will learn how to work through the tough times.

Photo (left to right): SoundCloud, Napster, Wikipedia, Discogs, Smule, Discogs, Wikipedia

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